Reversing Global Warming: Individual vs Corporate Responsibility?

  • News
  • Thread starter SOS2008
  • Start date
In summary: The Global Ecovillage Network has a variety of Living and Learning centres around the world that have successfully implemented sustainable practices.
  • #1
SOS2008
Gold Member
42
1
The Environment - What will it take to reverse current trends?

In the thread entitled “Economic Problems,” the topic of environment and responsibility arose. Can individuals make enough difference to reverse the current trend toward global warming? Or is this futile without efforts by corporations as well? And how much of these efforts, whether individual and/or corporate, depend on government initiatives? Why are we not doing more about the environment?
 
Physics news on Phys.org
  • #2
I think it has a lot to do with finding economically viable alternative resources that environmentalists will be ok with.
Nuclear has potential it seems but it has been all but illegalized here in the US.
 
  • #3
TheStatutoryApe said:
I think it has a lot to do with finding economically viable alternative resources that environmentalists will be ok with.
Nuclear has potential it seems but it has been all but illegalized here in the US.
Economics are a factor:

According to Gallup's March 2005 environment poll*, slightly more than half of Americans (53%) say protecting the environment should be given priority "even at the risk of curbing economic growth," while a third (36%) prioritize economic growth "even if the environment suffers to some extent." Eleven percent say both should be given equal priority or have no opinion. These most recent results represent a tilt back toward the environment from the past two years, when less than half of Americans favored the environment over the economy.

The existing data on this question suggest that preference for the environment is stronger when the economy is good, which might explain the dip below 50% in pro-environment responses in the past few years and the high 70% pro-environment score in 2000. That has not always been the case, though, as the recent resurgence of the environmental movement in the early 1990s also found strong pro-environment sentiment, at the same time the economy was in recession (although the pro-environment responses declined considerably in 1992).
But are economics all that keeps humans from altering the current trends?
 
  • #4
His point seemed to be that there is an economically viable alternative out there, at least for generating electricity, in the form of nuclear plants, but for reasons other than economics the general public seems to be opposed to them. Does Gallup have any numbers regarding citizen opinion of nuclear power?
 
  • #5
have anyone heard about "Permaculture"?

what they say is that the human can not consume in a year more energy that what came from the sun in a year, that is the only renovable energy we can use... They have "Ecovilles" all around the world, they don't need to use gas, oil. etc.. they have solar kitchens, they heat the water with the sun, they plant their own food, they are vegetarians, and they can survive only with they resources, they build their own houses and even their own briks, they use cience to improve their lifes and to consume the less energy they can. Pluss they don't need nothing from the state.


http://www.ibiblio.org/ecolandtech/pcwiki/index.php/HomePage
http://www.gb0063551.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/course/index.htm
http://www.permacultureactivist.net/pcresources/Resourcpg2.htm#PcTechOnline
The Solar Cooking Archive http://home.verio.net/
Sustainable Building Sourcebook: http://www.greenbuilder.com/sourcebook/
Alternative Technology Association (ATA) http://www.ata.org.au/
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #6
I feel individuals can make a difference, but can only do so much. For example, how many people could realistically practise "Permaculture" concepts? People need to continue to put pressure on government and private enterprise and public awareness. California wants stricter regulations on vehicles, but the federal government is blocking this because American automobile manufacturers don't want the added regulation. In the meantime, if a person wants to drive a smaller vehicle they are taking a risk of collision with a large SUV.

As for nuclear power, I assume it is still perceived as dangerous, producing hazardous waste, and not that cost efficient?
 
  • #7
2CentsWorth said:
I feel individuals can make a difference, but can only do so much. For example, how many people could realistically practise "Permaculture" concepts? People need to continue to put pressure on government and private enterprise and public awareness. California wants stricter regulations on vehicles, but the federal government is blocking this because American automobile manufacturers don't want the added regulation. In the meantime, if a person wants to drive a smaller vehicle they are taking a risk of collision with a large SUV.

The GEN Network

The Global Ecovillage Network (GEN) is a federation of 15,000 diverse communities worldwide that are committed to sustainable plus living. The GEN network has a rich and diverse variety of Living and Learning centres in 3 geographical spheres. This means that good models already exist where people live together and are manifesting practical examples of sustainable plus living.

Sarvodaya in Sri Lanka is a network of more than 12,000 self-sustaining villages that focuses on participatory community development with no poverty and no affluence, agriculture, micro-banking, livelihood training, cross cultural-meditation, and pre-school development. The Tanamalwila Living and Learning Centre located near two national parks in the Southeast of Sri Lanka, focuses on permaculture, species diversity, human rights and peace initiatives. It offers regular courses to community-linked people in Southeast Asia

http://www.gaia.org/education/living.asp
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #8
loseyourname said:
His point seemed to be that there is an economically viable alternative out there, at least for generating electricity, in the form of nuclear plants, but for reasons other than economics the general public seems to be opposed to them. Does Gallup have any numbers regarding citizen opinion of nuclear power?
Gottcha (I read TheStatutoryApe's post again). And I did find this:

April 16, 2002 - Core Opinions: Americans and Nuclear Power
by Darren K. Carlson, Government and Politics Editor

This past February, President Bush selected Nevada's Yucca Mountain as a permanent site for storing thousands of tons of America's nuclear power plant waste. Nevada's Republican governor, Kenny Guinn, opposes the decision, contending that it would be unsafe to transport the waste to Yucca Mountain and store it there. With concerns about the United States' dependence on foreign oil driving the exploration of alternative forms of power, nuclear energy is being re-examined; and the nation's leaders and public must weigh their energy concerns against environmental ones.

When asked about expanding the use of nuclear energy in this country, the public is lukewarm. A poll from March of this year* shows that 45% of Americans favor the idea of expanding nuclear energy, while 51% are opposed. These findings are almost identical to poll results collected in March 2001. One of the reasons for the finding that less than a majority support expanded use of nuclear energy may be the belief that alternative energy forms can be found elsewhere. In that same poll, a majority (76%) said they favored "spending more government money on developing solar and wind power."

Who are the biggest proponents for expanding the use of nuclear energy? Opinions on this issue appear to vary by gender, age, income and political affiliation. More than half of American men (56%) favor expanding the use of nuclear energy, while just 35% of women do. Willingness to favor the idea also varies with age; as the youngest age group interviewed (18- to 29-year-olds) is the least willing to favor it. Regional differences of opinion are also evident. Just a third of those living in the East (34%) and 42% of those living in the West favor expanding the use of nuclear energy, compared to 49% of southern residents and 53% of those in the Midwest. Political affiliation is another key variable, as 53% of Republicans favor expanding the use of nuclear power, while just 39% of Democrats do.

The public has expressed significant concern about contamination that nuclear facilities may cause. A poll from March 2001 shows that roughly half of the public (49%) worry a great deal about "contamination of soil and water by radioactivity from nuclear facilities." Twenty-two percent (22%) said they worry a fair amount, while 19% worry only a little and 10% do not worry about it at all. This level of anxiety has been relatively consistent since Gallup began asking about the issue in 1989.
 
  • #9
2CentsWorth said:
I feel individuals can make a difference, but can only do so much. For example, how many people could realistically practise "Permaculture" concepts? People need to continue to put pressure on government and private enterprise and public awareness. California wants stricter regulations on vehicles, but the federal government is blocking this because American automobile manufacturers don't want the added regulation...
To this I found:

April 26, 2005 - Who Will Protect the Environment?
Americans place least trust in Republican Party, large corporations
by Darren K. Carlson, Government and Politics Editor

With the Earth Day holiday now in the rear-view mirror, the emphasis shifts from celebration to ongoing preservation and conservation work. But whom does the public trust to carry out that work? Americans, according to Gallup's annual poll on the environment*, most trust local and national environmental organizations to protect the quality of the nation's environment and least trust the Republican Party and large corporations.

A quarter of the public (26%) trusts local environmental groups "a great deal" when it comes to protecting our nation's environment. Another 43% of Americans express a "moderate amount" of trust for this group, while just about 3 in 10 express a slight amount of trust or none at all. Results for national environmental groups are similar. However, fewer Americans trust national environmental groups now than did so in 2000, when a third of Americans trusted national environmental groups a great deal.
There is more break-down to the data. As mentioned in the other thread, Republicans are not as supportive of environmental measures:
Age and Politics Influence Environmental Attitudes

The public's willingness to place environmental protection above economic growth is far from universal -- there is significant variance by age and political affiliation, for example. Republicans and older Americans are less likely to prioritize the environment.

Thirty-seven percent of Republicans say they favor environmental protection over economic growth, while 51% would put economic growth ahead of the environment. A majority of independents (59%) place environmental protection first, while just 3 in 10 (31%) pick growing the economy. Among Democrats, two-thirds (66%) choose protecting the environment as the higher priority, while 24% choose economic growth.
 
  • #10
Burnsys said:
what they say is that the human can not consume in a year more energy that what came from the sun in a year
I'm thinking that most people, at least here in America, aren't going to want to give up their sterios, TVs, movies, video games, and computers. And it looks like that would be required. Unless ofcourse we find more efficient means of harnessing and using solar power.

loseyourname said:
His point seemed to be that there is an economically viable alternative out there, at least for generating electricity, in the form of nuclear plants, but for reasons other than economics the general public seems to be opposed to them.
Yes, thank you. And I can't swear by it's viability or cleanliness but it sounds like they have come quite a ways from what I have read.
Seeing what Gallup has to say I think it's only expected. I remember watching Captain Planet when I was a kid and pretty much anything nuclear was vilified. There's also so many comic books out there about mutants coming from radioactive waste. And the Simpsons has an "evil" nuclear plant as well. Not suprising that the majority of younger people have a bad view of it.
There is the one problem of what to do with the waste but apearantly they have found a way around that, or at least most of the way around it. Argonne labs came up with the I.F.R.(Integral Fast Reactor) which involves fuel recycling and quite a few safety measures. There used to be a thread on it in Michio Kaku's forums that are hosted here but I couldn't find it which is too bad because one of our members who is in the field of nuclear technology was discussing it there. Here's a link to a description though...
http://www.nuc.berkeley.edu/designs/ifr/ifr1.html
 
  • #11
Unfortunately, many US citizens are ignorant of nuclear power. The idea that the thing can just spontaneously blow up and destroy a city is too widespread.

I think another annoying thing is many people see nuclear power like they see that Taser weapon. They think "ok someone MIGHT die, so we shouldn't use it" when the reality is, if you didnt use it, people would die anyways and at a higher rate. To anyone whos not familiar, recently a lot of people got ticked off with the Taser because there were reports of people dieing (who were on drugs or drunk as hell or had serious medical problems) when being hit with it and they wanted them completely taken out of law enforcements hands. The company president came out in an interview and said it perfectly though; "The standard isn't perfection, the standard is the alternative". Same with nuclear power. Sure there's a chance of a problem... but its either you take that chance, our your stuck with dirty coal and gas power plants which according ot the same people, are killing so many people or will kill so many people because of global warming. And yes of course there's alternatives to the alternatives like solar and wind... but those are unpredictable.

@ the zero-energy civilizations

Their whole civilizations are probably 100% impoverished when put to the US standard of poverty. Heck, i can go out and live in a world where i had no debt... by living out in the forest... but I am living in the forest, what can i say lol.
 
  • #12
To be honest, Burnsys is right ... if the world were to last for an infinite amount of time. Realistically, we only have to make the 'stored' fuel and the environment last as long as humanity.

The environmental concerns are caused by the inefficiency of the fuels - how much excess heat and by products are created, not only in burning it, but in creating it in a useful form. For most fuels, the problem with reducing the waste and byproducts is the cost of converting all of the fuel into work. Every fuel has the same story - we use the part that's easy to convert and discard the rest, either in emissions, solid byproducts, or wasted heat.

Nuclear energy is the most efficient fuel available today, but it's efficiency is a little exaggerated. Because it's popularity is limited, we tend to only use the most efficient raw sources. If you have to enrich your lower grade sources before using them as fuel, that high efficiency drops quite a bit (the same story with petroleum - having to use lower grade and/or harder to reach reserves means oil isn't naturally as efficient a fuel source as it was in the early 1900's). Nuclear would still be the most efficient, even it were popular enough that lower grade sources had to be used.

The real problem with nuclear energy is that its problems are presented in a manner easier to see. People don't ignore pollution that acts on them immediately. It's a little easier to ignore pollution that won't kill you until you're old (just like cigarettes).

Regardless of the fuel source, you're going to have pollution problems unless you convert all of your fuel into work, and that's unrealistic. At best, we can convert a higher percentage of our fuels into work with our existing technology. Supply and demand will never promote the most efficient use of fuel from a waste/byproduct point of view. It only promotes efficiency from a cost point of view - the more expensive the fuel, the higher the percentage that is converted into work; the cheaper the fuel, the lower the percentage that's converted into work.

If you want cleaner fuel processes, you have to artificially raise the price of the source through taxes which are then fed back into subsidies for increasing the percentage of fuel that's converted to work, reducing the amount left over for waste. Kind of a circle process to be sure - tax them, then give the money back to them. Obviously, it's the consumers that wind up paying for the increased efficiency and there's a net reduction in standard of living (at least as measured in material goods), but some of the competitive advantage of pollution is reduced.

When you start looking at the specifics, you need to know a lot of unknowables. Given a certain amount of pollution, how long is the environment sustainable? How long does the environment have to be sustainable? It only has to last as long as the human race, but how do you estimate the lifetime of the human race? Even if you knew the answers to those questions, you'd then have to determine if you can even get there from here? How high can energy prices get (either through supply and demand or artificially through taxes) before it's too expensive to sustain a population that keeps increasing?

Realistically, pollution and energy sources just might be limitations on how long the human race can live, just like cancer and other diseases put a limit on how long one individual human can live. You can do things to extend the lifetime of the human race, but you can't make it immortal.
 
  • #13
In my state (Arizona) we have a nuclear power plant and provider (APS) for electricity. When the plant was built (very costly and took years) certain areas were determined to be serviced by APS versus the original provider (SRP), which generates electricity from dams. People actually purchased homes in part based on the area provider--SRP being cheaper. Aside from the nuclear power being more expensive, the plant produces hazardous waste in comparison to the dams.

Still, even if one gets past these kinds of comparisons, the scenario only addresses electricity. The big polluters are automobiles, and not just from burning fossil fuel, but loss of freon from air conditioners (leaks and frequent automobile accidents). So when I think of the environment, I am more concerned about alternative transportation than I am my electric bill, and wondering how nuclear plants are supposed to address this problem.
 
  • #14
SOS2008 said:
Aside from the nuclear power being more expensive, the plant produces hazardous waste in comparison to the dams.

Yes but the dams produce downstream silting, which endangers the environment, which nukes don't. There is NO power source that is environmentally safe, scalable to high powers, and utterly without medical effects.
 
  • #15
selfAdjoint said:
Yes but the dams produce downstream silting, which endangers the environment, which nukes don't. There is NO power source that is environmentally safe, scalable to high powers, and utterly without medical effects.
Great--I hadn't thought about that! :frown: Have you seen the turbines that can be placed on river bottoms--these kind of look like miniature windmills?
 
  • #16
SOS2008 said:
Have you seen the turbines that can be placed on river bottoms--these kind of look like miniature windmills?
You mjight want to investigate the concept of head as it pertains to hydropower.
 
  • #17
hitssquad said:
You mjight want to investigate the concept of head as it pertains to hydropower.
Yes, that's it--thanks. But it made me think this could only be used in rivers upstream from a dam or where there are no dams at all due to silting.
 
  • #18
selfAdjoint, is that thread on IFR still around? I can hunt for it myself, I was just wondering if maybe it was deleted or where I should look for it.

SOS said:
Still, even if one gets past these kinds of comparisons, the scenario only addresses electricity. The big polluters are automobiles, and not just from burning fossil fuel, but loss of freon from air conditioners (leaks and frequent automobile accidents). So when I think of the environment, I am more concerned about alternative transportation than I am my electric bill, and wondering how nuclear plants are supposed to address this problem.
You're right, getting rid of the fossil fuel plants won't get rid of the greenhouse effect or the other large scale environmental problems but it should help out the people who live in the vecinity of these plants.
As for automobiles, they are already pushing for hybrids and hydrogen cell batteries but they still need to get the energy from somewhere if not from gasoline. If we don't have an alternative energy source to charge those batteries we'll still be using fossil fuels to power our cars it will just be indirectly. So theoretically if everyone gets on the ball in the different sectors of energy usage eventually we should be able to ween ourselves off of the fossil fuels and it would seem that nuclear would be the quickest route.
 
  • #19
SOS2008 said:
Yes, that's it
I do not know what you mean.



But it made me think this
Do you mean microhydro or the specific variation on microhydro that you were previously referring to that involved zero head?



could only be used in rivers upstream from a dam or where there are no dams at all due to silting.
Dams, to my knowledge, do not cause downsteam silting. Therefore, you might profitably use it downstream if whatever you are referring to is sensitive to silt. Upstream of dams there is no current -- and therefore no chance for hydropower -- unless you go upstream a long way.
 
  • #20
hitssquad said:
Do you mean microhydro or the specific variation on microhydro that you were previously referring to that involved zero head?
It is a form of hydropower. But after reading more on those sites, I couldn't find anything to show the same concept as was shown in the TV program. It was many small windmills installed into riverbeds.
hitssquad said:
Dams, to my knowledge, do not cause downsteam silting. Therefore, you might profitably use it downstream if whatever you are referring to is sensitive to silt. Upstream of dams there is no current -- and therefore no chance for hydropower -- unless you go upstream a long way.
My question on silting was in response to selfAdjoint's post, and if silting is a problem, it would seem the new concept I saw would need to be a distance away from dams, or as you say a long way upstream to even have a sufficient current.
 
  • #21
SOS2008, what you saw is a relatively new venture. Classically we have undershot and overshot water wheels, Francis and Banki crossflow turbines, pelton wheels, and variations on these designs. What you saw seems to be the application of new wind turbine technologies applied to water flow. Hitsquad is referring to head, which is the distance between the source and effective discharge levels of the water, which tells us how much power we can generate at a given flow. The windmill approach would produce very little power as compared to typical hydroelectric applications. But, if applied to a river with good flow, the designers feel that in principle it should far exceed what a comparable wind powered generator could produce. But as with all energy solutions there is no free lunch. If you take energy from the river, the water will slow, levels on the approach will rise [a measure of the energy that you're getting per unit mass of water - the head], and silting and other problems may occur. It becomes a question of the best options.
 
Last edited:
  • #22
I also think we have an relatively unused supply of energy in low head hydro - typically considered to be 20 feet of head or less. We have a creek on our property and I have toyed with the idea of putting in a Banki turbine for years. Of course, the $5000 - $7000 always causes me to hesitate, but the numbers look quite good. I have found that options like this become much more viable if a variable load can be applied to the generator. In the case of a creek, the flows are constant over intervals of minutes to hours, but vary by the day, and even by the hour during the rainy months. I realized that the biggest problem in using this power is the demand. For example, our central heat is electric and demands 10,000 watts [edit, I did say 20K but IIRC its 10K]. However, the duty cycle is fairly low - perhaps in the 20% range in cold weather. So, if I go to a 100% duty cycle at 20% of the power, I can use 100% of the available hydro power to do it. The same can be done for water heat, and appliances can be run during the off hours when electrical loads are at a minimum.

After looking at all of this I realized that, in principle, I can run my 200 amp house on an average of about 25 amps by using smart appliances and power use schedules. When I figured this all out, I did need to add a large water heater to act as an energy spring during periods of no demand. But this was just to see if I could effectively use 100% of the hydro power and go off the grid [in principle]. So, my belief is that "smart houses" and "smart appliances" can make alternative energy options like low head hydro, solar, wind, and other options more practical by leveling the demand for power.
 
Last edited:
  • #23
selfAdjoint said:
Yes but the dams produce downstream silting, which endangers the environment, which nukes don't. There is NO power source that is environmentally safe, scalable to high powers, and utterly without medical effects.
The dams usually have to be there, regardless, although hydroelectric plants can affect the size and the impact the dams have. Arizona is in the same boat as Colorado. Significant amounts of water only exist in the Spring. If you're going to have any civilization out here, you have to store water from the Spring and make it last for the rest of the year.

In fact water policy out here in Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and Southern California is a disaster. They used a peak year in water flow to divvy up how much each state gets, and then the downstream states want to hold the upstream states to that amount, even in drought years. If you have to release a certain amount of water downstream, you may as well get as much use out of it as you can as it's leaving.

There is a difference between using the dams to just store water or to both store water and to generate power. If the dams were just used to store or release drinking water, you could better mimic nature's peaks and valleys in the rate of flow. In other words, you could let a huge rush of water go once in awhile to sort of rejuvenate a stagnant river. Of course, then not only would you not get any hydro-power, but your tourist industry would suffer - boating season would only last 2-4 weeks and the rapids would be so strong none of the tourists could run them.

All things considered, hydro power on the few big rivers we have out here are the cheapest and most efficient power sources in the Southwest. Unfortunately, we don't have enough rivers to supply all the power needed and have to resort to nuclear, gas, oil, or coal for the rest.
 
  • #24
Greenhouse gas emission pie charts

SOS2008 said:
The big polluters are automobiles
Power plants account for two thirds of U.S. CO2 emissions.



and not just from burning fossil fuel, but loss of freon from air conditioners (leaks and frequent automobile accidents).
Refrigerants account for only 2% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. See Figure 3, here:
http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/1605/ggccebro/chapter1.html
 

Attachments

  • greenousegaspiechart.gif
    greenousegaspiechart.gif
    12.6 KB · Views: 441
  • #25
Freon has been banned from all refrigeration and air-conditioning systems, including those in automobiles, for a while now.
 
  • #26
hitssquad said:
Power plants account for two thirds of U.S. CO2 emissions.

The numbers cited are often misleading.

Power plants are the biggest culprits, producing approximately 33% of U.S. carbon dioxide pollution, in part because there are no limits on carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and there is a loophole in the Clean Air Act, which allows old dirty power plants to violate modern pollution standards.

The second largest source is cars and light trucks, which produce another 20% of U.S. carbon dioxide pollution. A loophole in fuel efficiency standards allows automakers to produce light trucks, sport utility vehicles (SUVs), and minivans that cause more air pollution and get 25% fewer miles per gallon than cars
http://www.freetheplanet.org/ftp.asp?id2=12022

This chart from your page makes this a little more clear.
http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/1605/ggccebro/images/New%20Fig%204.gif
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #27
As for the question of reversing trends, here is one somewhat scary idea

A method is disclosed for reducing atmospheric warming due to the greenhouse effect resulting from a greenhouse gases layer. The method comprises the step of seeding the greenhouse gas layer with a quantity of tiny particles of materials characterized by wavelength-dependent emissivity or reflectivity, in that said materials have high emissivities in the visible and far infrared wavelength regions and low emissivity in the near infrared wavelength region. Such materials can include the class of materials known as Welsbach materials. The oxides of metal, e.g., aluminum oxide, are also suitable for the purpose. The greenhouse gases layer typically extends between about seven and thirteen kilometers above the Earth's surface. The seeding of the stratosphere occurs within this layer. The particles suspended in the stratosphere as a result of the seeding provide a mechanism for converting the blackbody radiation emitted by the Earth at near infrared wavelengths into radiation in the visible and far infrared wavelength so that this heat energy may be reradiated out into space, thereby reducing the global warming due to the greenhouse effect. [continued]
http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-...,003,186.WKU.&OS=PN/5,003,186&RS=PN/5,003,186

It is argued that if all passenger jets were to burn fuel with aluminum or other metal oxides added, enough particulates would be released to stop or even reverse the current warming trends.
 
  • #28
Ivan Seeking said:
So, my belief is that "smart houses" and "smart appliances" can make alternative energy options like low head hydro, solar, wind, and other options more practical by leveling the demand for power.
I will be replacing my A/C for my home soon, and also my hot water tank. With regard to the hot water, I would like to install solar, but I believe the upfront cost is pretty high. In other countries, in the UK for example, there is use of electric coils to heat water. This way the water doesn't have to be kept heated continuously regardless of use. I understand there has been some limited attempt at this in the U.S., but not very successfully.
loseyourname said:
Freon has been banned from all refrigeration and air-conditioning systems, including those in automobiles, for a while now.
I don't know that much about the new industry accepted "environmentally friendly" refrigerant, R-13a, but I just had a leak repaired on my vehicle, which is a 2000 model.

With regard to my reference to automobiles as the big polluter, I said this with it in mind that as individuals this seems to be of more impact than all the other things we can do in regard to the environment. And if the rest of pollutants are coming from industry, then the blame can't be placed so heavily on individuals. (Hmm, maybe there is a capitalist pig-dog conspiracy against individuals...?)
Ivan Seeking said:
As for the question of reversing trends, here is one somewhat scary idea... It is argued that if all passenger jets were to burn fuel with aluminum or other metal oxides added, enough particulates would be released to stop or even reverse the current warming trends.
Scary for the large percentage of people who believe the world will come to an end during their lifetimes? This would ruin the doom and gloom!
 
  • #29
SOS2008 said:
Scary for the large percentage of people who believe the world will come to an end during their lifetimes? This would ruin the doom and gloom!

:biggrin: I was thinking more about any potential toxic effects caused by spreading metals all over the planet. Maybe Moonbear knows something about this. I like the idea that this makes some kind of action possible, but whether or not this is a good idea...

As for on-demand water heaters, I'm coming up with about a 15KW demand for 2 gallons per minute [common shower head] with a 50 degree F temp rise. So this would require special wiring to accommodate the ~70 amp load. Note also that this ignores the efficiency of the heater.
 
Last edited:
  • #30
SOS2008 said:
In other countries, in the UK for example, there is use of electric coils to heat water. This way the water doesn't have to be kept heated continuously regardless of use. I understand there has been some limited attempt at this in the U.S., but not very successfully.
These are used in Italy, as well. You get hot water very quickly, meaning you save water, as well. I'm kind of surprised they've never caught on. I know I would have appreciated when we had 6 people living in one house, including two teenage daughters.

SOS2008 said:
I will be replacing my A/C for my home soon, and also my hot water tank. With regard to the hot water, I would like to install solar, but I believe the upfront cost is pretty high.
I think it depends on what kind of solar system you're installing. The heated water systems aren't as expensive as a photovoltaic system, but I don't think you don't get much benefit either. The photovoltaic systems are a great buy if you plan on living in the same house for over a 100 years. They have a big upfront cost, but could supply all of your electricity with a surplus to sell to the electric company if you built a big enough system.

Right now, they're good for something you plan to use for a long, long time or to supply electricity somewhere you have no infrastructure (outer space, country roads, etc). It's a pretty good bet the high cost is because you're putting a lot of energy of some sort or another into building the system in the first place. I don't know the process, but it seems to me it would be pretty hard to dope silicon with boron or phosphorous - they definitely wouldn't bond naturally.
 
  • #31
Ivan Seeking said:
As for on-demand water heaters, I'm coming up with about a 15KW demand for 2 gallons per minute [common shower head] with a 50 degree F temp rise. So this would require special wiring to accommodate the ~70 amp load. Note also that this ignores the efficiency of the heater.
And that's why it generally isn't done. Hot water heaters are pretty well insulated and the energy required to keep the water heated is fairly small compared with the energy required to heat it. Yeah, if you go on vacation, turn the water heater off - but otherwise, most houses never go more than about 12 hours without using some.

I have mixed feelings regarding [personal] solar: it is extremely expensive, costing about 4x as much as it needs to to be economically viable. Unless there is a huge increase in efficiency or a huge reduction in mfg cost (perhaps finding another material to make it with), it won't ever really be viable. However, solar's capacity lines up well with air conditioning use: the times you need air conditioning are the same times that solar is the most efficient. So while I don't think it'll ever be viable to get "off the grid", it may becomme viable to set up a few kW of it to power your a/c. The added benefit of that is that it would flatten the utility industry's demand curve and greatly reduce our current electric supply crisis. That alone could make a government subsidy worthwhile.

Ivan, I know you only cited that environmentalit site for the facts that you quoted, but I couldn't resist reading the whole page. Terrible. I doubt the authors even see the irony of comparing our energy production to France's. I agree that we need to get rid of coal power, but, uh - how does France do it...?

And conservation? Americans? C'mon - if $2.35 gas won't keep people from buying SUV's, what will?

Ivan's a big fan of the "hydrogen economy" concept - well, the solution to all of these problems (coal pollution, oil pollution, foreign dependence, hydrogen production, cost) is simple, obvious (...safe, clean, cheap, abundant, and requires no new technology to impliment), and utterly ignored by environmentalists because (as said) they fear what they do not understand.
 
Last edited:
  • #32
Homepower economics

BobG said:
The photovoltaic systems are a great buy if you plan on living in the same house for over a 100 years.
In the current rate climate, PV systems cannot pay for themselves no matter how long they run. The interest on the capital outlay outstrips the cost of the grid electricity avoided and would run into the millions over a period as long as 100 years. Besides, homepower components wear out. Continuously replacing them adds to the total ownership cost.



They have a big upfront cost, but could supply all of your electricity with a surplus to sell to the electric company if you built a big enough system.
Electrical grids are not storage batteries. Utilities cannot use any of the power they are forced to buy from homepower folks.
 
Last edited:
  • #33
BobG said:
I think it depends on what kind of solar system you're installing. The heated water systems aren't as expensive as a photovoltaic system, but I don't think you don't get much benefit either. The photovoltaic systems are a great buy if you plan on living in the same house for over a 100 years. They have a big upfront cost, but could supply all of your electricity with a surplus to sell to the electric company if you built a big enough system.

I would tone that down just a little bit. Based on what I've seen, it appears that the payback for solar PV lands at right about twenty years. The actual price for the electricity is a nearly a wash, all things considered - like batteries. In effect you are buying the next twenty years worth of power up front. And you still have to pay interest in the money if you build this into a home loan. But there are tax credits to consider as well. My guess is that just now, the technologies to make solar PV practical are http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/01/0114_050114_solarplastic.html.

...Like paint, the composite can be sprayed onto other materials and used as portable electricity. A sweater coated in the material could power a cell phone or other wireless devices. A hydrogen-powered car painted with the film could potentially convert enough energy into electricity to continually recharge the car's battery.

The researchers envision that one day "solar farms" consisting of the plastic material could be rolled across deserts to generate enough clean energy to supply the entire planet's power needs...
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #34
hitssquad said:
Electrical grids are not storage batteries. Utilities cannot use any of the power they are forced to buy from homepower folks.
I'm not sure what you mean - a lot of individuals and business sell energy back to the power company and it is used.
Ivan Seeking said:
I would tone that down just a little bit. Based on what I've seen, it appears that the payback for solar PV lands at right about twenty years.
Well, that's the problem: 20 years equals never, for some of the reasons already stated: interest (current vs future value of money), equimpent replacement costs, maintenance, etc.

My statement of 4x too expensive is based on that 20 year payback: to be viable, it really needs to be 5 years. And even then, the vast majority of people would not do it unless the government forced them. What if I told you that for $1000 upfront, you could save $300 a year (essentially a 4 year payback) by buying a more efficient air conditioner. Would you do it? Virtually no one does. Carrier sells an 18 SEER (effiency rating) a/c unit: virtually everyone buys the 12 or 14. edit: oh, and the 18 seer unit also comes with a 96% (iirc) efficent furnace compared to the 85% that virtually everyone owns.

And businesses are even worse: they regularly balk at even a 1 year payback. For a project manager, project cost is everything. Operating costs are generally not considered at all. Heck, I have a school that's building its second expansion in 2 years. Environmentalism is in the mission statement, and they won't do anything to reduce their energy costs. But its not entirely their fault - the way their (state) funding for construction works, they aren't allowed to plan ahead. But if they did all their construction at once, they could save a hundred thousand dollars in equipment costs - or take that money and instead of flushing it down the toilet, buy a heat recovery system that would save them several tens of thousands of dollars a year.
 
  • #35
The capital and financing costs of homepower

Ivan Seeking said:
I would tone that down just a little bit. Based on what I've seen, it appears that the payback for solar PV lands at right about twenty years.
Then one might think that the leading advocates for homepower, the editors and publishers of Home Power Magazine, would be telling people that. But they don't. On their website and in their magazine they say that you cannot make money with homepower. I went to a seminar at the University of Oregon back around 1998-1999 put on by the founder of Home Power Magazine. He said he has been off-grid since 1970 and that he was not there to tell us that we will save money by doing what he does. He said we will lose money doing homepower no matter how we do it -- but that we should do it anyway "for the environment."



The actual price for the electricity is a nearly a wash, all things considered - like batteries. In effect you are buying the next twenty years worth of power up front.
What is the interest on a $30,000 homepower system? At 5% interest, it is $1,500 for a year. Over 30 years, if interest is also charged on the interest, that adds up to $99,658. And that does not buy you $99,658 worth of power, or even $30,000 worth of power, because $30,000 would buy you a basic system. A basic system means you have to ration your power and energy use.



And you still have to pay interest in the money if you build this into a home loan.
This does not seem to me to make sense. Financing costs are financing costs. What might adding homepower financing to a home loan have to do with how much the interest will cost you?



But there are tax credits to consider as well.
Tax credits may or may not be relevant. Do you think tax credits do not cost money?



My guess is that just now, the technologies to make solar PV practical are http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/01/0114_050114_solarplastic.html.
Solar panels are about 30% of the capital cost of PV. They could be free, and homepower would still be a money-losing enterprise.

Russ and I already went over these points somewhat in the Alternative power source for garage thread.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Similar threads

Replies
91
Views
14K
  • General Discussion
Replies
3
Views
2K
  • General Discussion
Replies
3
Views
981
  • General Discussion
Replies
2
Views
3K
Replies
5
Views
1K
  • General Discussion
Replies
4
Views
1K
  • Sticky
  • Earth Sciences
Replies
1
Views
14K
  • General Discussion
Replies
19
Views
3K
  • Quantum Physics
Replies
4
Views
2K
Back
Top