Wind is the Future, Gas is the Past

Let’s hang our hats on millions of propellers screaming in the breeze to push kilowatts of power into the electrical grid. In the mean time, how about if we hang a flame under President Obama’s ass to light the gas-flame of optimism he exudes for the wonderful new energy scheme into which he is investing our tax money. I hope he invests his personal 401K into wind power too, but my bet is that he owns Exxon.

While Obama counts money from his investments, let us ask the EPA to bury the corpses of dead birds before the Audubon Society wakes up.

In a link below the article brags about how the country of Denmark gets almost half its electrical needs from wind power. What they fail to tell us is that the population of Denmark is 5.5 million which makes Denmark smaller than Chicago, a relatively mid-size town in America. The USA can do that too, let’s be like Denmark, yeah!

Here are some photos to ponder. Have you seen any of these in the news?

Thanks for these great pics Rich.

Where Does it Leave Us?

It's Always More Fun to Gamble With Someone Else's Money

The US Energy Policy is so easily solved it is a wonder why the genius liberal think tank in the White House cannot figure it out. With all the PhD intellectual types in positions of csardom they do not have enough practical thinking to fill the brain cavity of an ant. Before I propose my plan I want to review the wonderful new ideas proposed by the PhD’s to direct the country toward clean renewable energy sources.

Wind Power

According to Wikipedia,

“The wind wheel of the Greek engineer Heron of Alexandria in the 1st century AD is the earliest known instance of using a wind-driven wheel to power a machine.”

That places this idea at over two thousand years old. Modern man is just beginning to realize the potential for using the wind to generate electricity. Is it practical? Yes, if you limit the idea to powering homes with electricity. Scaling up to power the entire need of a metropolitan city is another matter. The best that we can do today is to use wind power at peak periods to aid more conventional power generation. Environmentalists love the idea of using this “free” and clean commodity to solve our problems. They neglect to see the environmental disaster being created by the wind turbines batting birds from the sky by the thousands. How environmentally friendly is that Greenbats?

So why doesn’t the White House PhD army propose an incentive for homeowners to buy wind turbines for their homes?  It isn’t proposed for many reasons, cost is one, another is what to do with over-generation, another is the amount of noise pollution that will irritate the neighbors. If everybody had a wind turbine, the noise factor would be equalized right? Wrong, I believe Obama care would be overwhelmed by the cost of replacing hearing aid batteries for all the deaf people created by the turbine noise.

Electric cars

The first known invention of an electric car came in 1828 from Hungarian inventor Anyos Jedlik. The world went crazy for the idea and by the early 1900’s there were many electric cars running around. The range was about eighteen miles. The new Chevy Volt and others like it get about forty miles on a charge. To my way of thinking if batteries have doubled the range of an electric car in a mere one hundred and eighty-four years we will have viable electric cars in the year 2564. Perhaps the genius White House pool of PhD’s will pull a break through out of the hat and create a miracle.

Flywheels

James Watt (Watt as in 60 watt bulbs) the Scottish inventor developed steam-powered generation of electricity in 1781 and he gets credit for inventing the flywheel. Flywheels are great for keeping the mass of a piston engine rotating through a complete power cycle. More recently, the Obama administration invested in this idea, already two hundred and thirty-one years old, as a way to store energy. Excess electrical energy that is generated during off-peak hours would be used to spin a flywheel. The energy stored in the spinning wheel would then be used to support the steam turbines during peak hours. Again, I’m not a PhD but common sense tells me that a flywheel large enough to store the kind of energy needed to power a city is scary, especially when it is spinning fast. There are some applications using flywheels to store energy toward a useful end. One is powering city buses. Normal driving between stops stores surplus energy in the flywheel. When the bus accelerates from a stop, energy from the flywheel helps the engine overcome inertia.

Solar Power

A huge amount of energy flows to earth from the sun, and solar power makes sense. In Arizona I saw model homes with solar roofs offered as an option. The solar panels cut the cost of energy in a modest thousand square foot home by seventy-nine percent, that sounds good doesn’t it?  Climatologists use a measure called percent sunshine to compare available sunshine in cities. Flagstaff, AZ gets seventy-eight percent sunshine while Yuma, AZ measures ninety percent, in the Chicago area, where I live, it is fifty-four percent, and the lowest percent sunshine is in the north ( New Hampshire and Alaska) where the percent sunshine drops into the thirties.  What that means is the cost of electrifying homes is vastly different across the country.

Why is the cost of solar energy so expensive to install? It takes too many panels to do the job. Current state of the art solar panels are ten percent efficient. Current U.S. fossil fuel plant efficiencies range from forty-six percent to as high as fifty-eight percent, while Europe lags at thirty-six percent.  If solar panels could convert sun energy into electricity at fossil fuel plant efficiencies the argument would end, and solar would win.

There are records of solar power being used by Ancient Egyptians, but the credit for modern solar power goes to a Bell Lab team who discovered the use of silicon as a semi-conductor in nineteen fifty-four. The six percent efficiency of their discovery is not far from Solyndra’s high-tech eight percent efficient panels.

Even when the solar panel efficiency and cost effectiveness finally makes it practical, there are issues with storage of power in the home and the need for homeowners to know how to deal with them. Most home-owners have problems finding the shut-off valve under a sink much less be able to understand or support an array of electrical storage batteries.

My prediction is that it will take one hundred and seventy-four years (2186) at current development rates to match the efficiency of  fossil fuel power.

Where does that leave us?

When planet Earth faces complete depletion of all its fossil fuels the need will precipitate urgent emergency development programs to save the planet from extinction. Remember the old adage “necessity is the mother of invention?” Why is it that we will wait for crisis to occur before we act?  If we continue down the same paths we have been on we will continue to get the same results. I tire of listening to our élite Organizer President say one thing and then do the opposite. I also tire of hearing him say “don’t bring me the same tired old ideas that don’t work.” I tried to make a point above about the age of the ideas he has gambled on with  billions of tax payer dollars, and they do not work well enough to satisfy our needs.

My recommendation is the USA must:

1. Declare fossil fuels as a standard: Use coal, oil, natural gas, and oil shale to provide energy, with emphasis on reducing emissions by fifty percent within ten years.

2. Obtain all fossil fuels from the Americas to end the drain of resources to the Middle East. We must cut off the flow of  our money going to the Arabs who then bring the money back into subversive causes within the USA.  Let Europe and China take the Arab oil. They like diversity in their countries, let them depend on diversity one hundred percent.

3. Provide incentives for basic research in alternate fuels. We need break-through science and invention to cut the years it will take to gain fossil fuel independence. This does not mean investing in losers like Solyndra, it means putting money into basic research at creditable labs and educational institutions.

4. Establish a National Energy Innovation Prize of fifty million dollars. The award goes to the first private sector inventor who develops a forty-percent efficient solar energy system.

5. Re-direct NASA into the National Solar Agency with a goal to power the earth with clean efficient  solar energy in ten years. Do you remember when John F. Kennedy declared a goal to put our man on the moon within ten years? He did what leaders do, he led. The country got behind it and within ten years we put a man on the moon. The amount of benefit we derived from that effort is what made the USA a science and technology powerhouse. The list of products we use everyday that were the result of the race to the moon is endless.. The investment in technology paid back one hundred fold or more. Compare that to stupid investments in crony companies that are on the verge of failure.

So how hard was that to do? Better yet, why doesn’t the White House PhD Think Tank come up with these ideas? Why doesn’t the “pick and choose” tax payer gambling Organizer in Chief  come up with some new ideas that will work besides his tired old idea of tax and spend?

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