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As a physicist (with energy expertise) and a long time environmental activist, I have grown increasingly concerned about our deviant electrical energy path.

My belief is that technological decisions (i.e. those relating to energy) should be based on science. Instead we have the most impolitic situation where they are instead made to incur political favor. If you endorse energy policies contrived by lobbyists, then be happy and read no more.

One of my pet peeves is the indiscriminate bandying about of the term "renewable" energy. This is no academic annoyance as right now the US Senate is drafting up a national Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS).

The first version is an abomination that amounts to the biggest earmark in history (http://energy.senate.gov/public/_files/END09012_xml.pdf). Clearly the Democrats have yet to absorb President Obama's directive concerning science (http://tinyurl.com/ce73km).

In my view some of the main issues with it (and most state RPS's) are:
1 - all renewables are treated alike (i.e. wind power = solar = geothermal, etc.);
2 - any renewable is assumed to be better than most any conventional source (i.e. wind power is better than nuclear power);
3 - renewables are given credit for making significant environmental changes (i.e. wind power is promoted as the way to a carbon free future);
4 - the huge cost to taxpayers and ratepayers for renewable implementation is written of as the cost of "progress" or some other such platitude;
5 - the considerations of such stalwarts as grid reliability and dispatchability are now foreign concepts.

The problem with these five items is that they are ALL wrong -- but who cares? Our "representatives" are determined to pound this renewable square peg into the round electrical energy hole.

IMO one of the main reasons we are sliding into the energy ditch is that we are allowing those with political agendas (vs the scientists) to define some key energy terms -- like the word "renewable."

To my knowledge there is no legal definition as to what renewable means. The explanations proffered vary quite a bit. Technically all sources of power are renewable, just at different rates -- so the key difference between a renewable and non-renewable is the rate of replenishment.

That, in itself, should be a flag that this (in science terms) is a rather arbitrary and subjective definition. Who is to say what replenishment rate is good or bad, and on what basis?

Consider these typical definitions (http://tinyurl.com/dkugz): "Renewable is an energy resource that is replaced rapidly by natural processes... A non-renewable is any resource that is not replaced in a reasonable amount of time (our lifetime, our children's lifetime, ...) and are thus considered 'used up' and not available to us again."

Such words as "rapidly" and "reasonable" are subjective and relative terms -- not scientific.

Another pivotal aspect ignored in these definitions is the fact that although a source (e.g. wind) may be quickly replenishable, it uses up other resources (e.g. land) that are not replenishable at all. We will run out of suitable land in the US for wind power sooner than we will run out of fossil fuels. Shouldn't the entire package be assessed as a whole?

Considering the variability, inadequacy and politicalness of its current iteration, there is some merit to just exterminating "renewable" from our vocabulary .

But nature abhors a vacuum, so for soundbite reasons, if we refuse to use renewable, then we should come up with a good replacement.

To me, then, these are the options:
1 - redefine "renewable" so that it makes more scientific sense, or
2 - if the term "renewable" is beyond rehabilitation, come up with a substitute.

Recently I posed this question to a group of energy experts. Interestingly, they were unanimous in their consensus that there was no hope in salvaging "renewable."

One wrote:
"Several years ago, I came to the conclusion that the word renewable, applied as a source of energy, was a pejorative -- and I treat it as such today (much as I do windmills and windfarms). These are all words bowdlerized of any positive meaning, designed by the craven to casually separate people from the contents of their wallets. And so, in my public comments, I always connect renewables with fraud. Rather than refine the definition, I move that we ridicule the very concept, Instead I recommend promoting the principle of our making decisions based on energy density, or something in that vein."

Another PhD energy expert said:
"When questioned on 'renewable' it is relatively simple to explain the First Law of Thermodynamics concerning conservation. Energy cannot be 'new,' thus cannot be 'renewed.' All we are doing is transforming one manifestation of energy into another -- and we should be doing it in a 'clean, non-polluting, preferably non-carbon-based' manner. This avoids (most times) the controversial subject of potential, unquantified global warming versus thermal equilibrium -- which is too long and too complex for most listeners."

"I normally use the phrases 'clean energy,' 'clean sources.' etc. but throw in the occasional 'non-polluting' and 'non-carbon-based'. This meets, rather more than less, my concerns as a scientist and as a 'green person.' Simplistic? - maybe. But a lot more accurate than 'renewable.'"

Anyway, the current leader of my unscientific poll is the term "clean." (The runnerup is "sustainable.")

What constitutes clean? My recommendation is that would include any power source that does not produce more than 10 gCeq/kWh in production of electricity [ref http://tinyurl.com/7tmy2].

Now don't get me wrong here. This word change doesn't nearly fix the situation -- it is just one small step back towards scientific footing. Clean (or sustainable) doesn't necessarily mean reliable, or dispatchable, or any of the other seven important criteria spelled out in my online energy presentation (http://www.slideshare.net/JohnDroz/energy-presentationkey-presentation).

The bottom line is that in this highly complex electrical energy area, we need to make decisions based on what is technically, economically and environmentally sound. "Renewable" doesn't adequately address any of these.

If you have a term that is more comprehensive in its description as to what electrical power sources should be, please volunteer it!

5113 Views Comments 16 Comments Comments Add Comment Author BioAuthor Bio
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member photo I think the politicians no longer view the value of "dispatchable" generator sources the same as conventional grid operators. Obviously a grid operator cannot dispatch wind or solar when they necessarily need it all the time. But the whole point of the Smart Grid initiative is that such variable source generators can be MANAGED through technology, meaning it won't need the same interventionism that traditionally runs the grid because among other things there will be far MORE sources to pick from over a large geographic area, assuming they get commercialized of course. And getting them commercialized is the whole point behind the stimulus energy plan of the politicians in Washington. Yes indeed, the traditional way the grid is operated and its costs are going to change dramatically if they pull this transition off over the next few decades.
# Posted By Bob Amorosi | 3/31/09 3:06 PM | Report This Comment as Foul/Inappropriate
member photo Bob:

As I read your comment (and listen to politicians and lobbyists) the new paradigm is apparently a grid solution based on massive redundancy. This is what goes for a progressive idea these days.
# Posted By John Droz, jr. | 3/31/09 4:59 PM | Report This Comment as Foul/Inappropriate
member photo John,

Massive redunancy in the design of the grid or anything else for that matter tends to compensate for poor reliability of its individual components. It makes the system more reliable but admittedly it comes at a large extra cost, and in the case of the grid it means the massive costs of adding large numbers of small distributed generation sources over a wide area. At first this may seem dumb when large central generators are quite reliable themselves, but the policy makers see other advantages. Firstly small distributed residential generators, like rooftop solar for example, won't need long-haul expensive high-voltage transmission lines that NIMBY's hate. Such is not the case though for large rural wind or solar farms unfortunately. Secondly, the massive extra costs of deploying large numbers of distributed generators is spread out and borne by many private interests, and in the case of residential generators it will be the consumers with deeper pockets and not the poorer ones. The latter costs aren't necessarily borne by all ratepayers like large central plants are traditionally, and this therefore helps regulators keep the political lid on rate growth somewhat.
# Posted By Bob Amorosi | 4/1/09 6:17 AM | Report This Comment as Foul/Inappropriate
member photo I come from a military family. My father was the 3rd generation in his family to serve in the US Navy. Had I joined in 1980, we would have become an official naval family.
We have a simple philosophy in life, "He who calls the charge, leads the charge." The US Infantry motto is "Follow me!"
Your main complaint is that of hyperbole. You stated "We will run out of suitable land in the US for wind power sooner than we will run out of fossil fuels."
You also stated "Shouldn't the entire package be assessed as a whole?"
First off, US record consumption was about 750,000 MWH. The most economical wind turbine is a 7.5 MW nameplate. First iteration would be 100,000 turbines, but since the US averages 23% utility, that is not enough. The current gold standard for reliability is 99.99% in the US. To achieve a reliability rating of 99.99% would require 4,000,000 turbines, requiring 16,000,000 acres, or a square 158 miles on a side. First off, soybean and corn acreage is about 200,000,000 acres. Wind turbine acreage can be dual use acreage. At 2% increased consumption per year, the acreage required would not exceed agricultural acreage in the US until about 2150. If the shrouded wind turbine pans out in 2011, and is deployable by 2012, then it will be about 2180 before we exceed corn and soybean acreage. Doubling the energy output of a turbine by shrouding would give us a utility rating of 46%. With that utility rating, you would need a mere 8,000,000 acres to start. At that rate, assuming no other change, it will be about 2322 before the US runs out of land. This of course ignores the possibilities of offshore deployment or any storage technologies that might occur in the next 300 plus years. US coal reserves could last 600 years if we ONLY use it for electricity. If we use it for electricity and fueling our Hummers AND export it as we are doing now (US coal is very low in sulfur), it will last 100 years.
While it is true that the US may run out of land for wind turbines, some 300 years in the future, and IF instead we were ultra frugal with our use of coal, it is probable that we would run out of land as you suggest. However, given the time frames involved (centuries), I would suggest that it is as meaningful as the equally true statistic that over 99.99% of all the people killed in US automobile accidents have eaten carrots in the 2 weeks preceding their deaths. Both statistics are true. I would suggest that neither is particularly meaningful.
If your intent is to gain the attention of policy makers, I would advocate you follow your own advice. Do not stoop to hyperbole. Use comparative numbers. IF an argument is scientifically valid, then one should be able to put together rationally arrived at numbers. Do not just look at costs to build the plant, but costs to run and FUEL the plant. Keep in mind that certain designs are available THIS year, and others would not be available before 2037. Keep in mind the need for water. If we use LWR reactors, we can only build about another 27 1.5 gigawatt plants before we have to start choosing between agricultural usage, household usage and kilowatts. Concentrated solar plants compared to coal plants can achieve break even in as little as 7 years, keeping in mind that last year, a 1000 MW, 24/7 coal power plant required an annual fuel cost of $290 million a year at 2008 average costs for coal.

Lastly, give the politicians an actual plan. Most people when hearing two sides of an argument, will give credence to the side that states something that can be done, and ignore the side that simply screams "No! No! NO!".
# Posted By Thomas Saidak | 4/1/09 11:32 PM | Report This Comment as Foul/Inappropriate
member photo Thomas:

Thank you for your interesting and measured comments.

My main reason for writing this piece was to object to the political (vs scientific) definitions of the term "renewable" energy. You didn't say anything that disputed that.

As examples of the implications and consequences of such arbitrariness, I cited five (5) erroneous assumptions made by such non-critical single-minded promotion of renewables (like RPS's). As such I was being VERY specific as to what needs to be fixed: those five false premises. None of that is hyperbole.

I find your calculations very interesting, but puzzling. For example, your initial premise is that "the most economical wind turbine is 7.5 MW nameplate." To my knowledge no such commercial product even exists, so I don't understand how you are using it as a basis for your calculations. Did you mean to say "2.5 MW"?

I fully agree with the 99.99% reliability figure, but don't understand how you came up with the numbers you showed, and exactly how much delivered wind power would have 99.99% reliability 24/7. Since explaining this may take up a lot of space, please email me directly about this at "aaprjohn@northnet.org."

Lastly, again, the point of this post was to discuss the term renewable, not to provide a solution to our energy problems. I HAVE discussed such solutions in other articles and blogs -- e.g. "http://tinyurl.com/crwlyv".
# Posted By John Droz, jr. | 4/2/09 8:10 AM | Report This Comment as Foul/Inappropriate
member photo Renewable energy is very well understood in both definitional terms and operational terms. To argue about definitions is rather pointless, unless you have an agenda to oppose renewable energy, I suppose. Wind power, solar, biomass, and geothermal are naturally-replenishing sources of electricity on a time-scale that allows us to keep tapping the source of such energy over the life of a power plant designed to capture this energy -- so wind, solar, biomass, and geothermal (as the main sources of renewable energy) as well as other, less-developed forms such as ocean and tidal energy are clearly "renewable" in nature.

Forms of energy will forcibly remove elements from the earth and which are not replensihed in the time-scale whereby additional such elements can be continue to be recovered are clearly NOT renewable in any common-sense use of the term. Once an oilfield is depleted, the oil is gone. Once a coal mine has been fully mined or the mountain-top removed, there is no more coal remaining and coal mining moves to a different location. Same for uranium. This, coal, oil, natural gas (and by definition, all fossil fuels) as well as nuclear power are NOT reneawable energy resources and the electricity dervied from those sources are NOT classified as renewable energy.

There, that wasn't so difficult to explain after all.

Jeffrey E. Anthony, American Wind Energy Association
# Posted By Jeffrey Anthony | 4/2/09 3:16 PM | Report This Comment as Foul/Inappropriate
member photo Jeff:

Thank you for AWEA's perspective. As I've said before it is understandable that you say what you do, considering that AWEA is dependent on our government's largess and laxity for your continued financial prosperity.

Your arbitrary definition is a fine example of what I am objecting to. You say renewables are "naturally-replenishing sources of electricity on a time-scale that allows us to keep tapping the source of such energy over the life of a power plant."

There are two main elements to your AWEA definition: "naturally-replenishing" and the time-scale part.

Isn't (as my article says) the time-scale part the only one of true importance?

For instance, let's say that something isn't "naturally-replenished" but we have enough such material to last 1000 years. You (evidently) would then exclude such a power source as being a renewable. This is what I mean by arbitrary.

And we could also conclude that (by AWEA's definition) that wind power would no longer be considered a renewable, due to the fact that it REQUIRES substantial amounts of land -- which is not "naturally-replenished."

Fine, now that we understand AWEA's definition, we'll expect them to act consistently with it.
# Posted By John Droz, jr. | 4/2/09 3:44 PM | Report This Comment as Foul/Inappropriate
member photo First, John, you obviously have an axe to grind here because if you had research your facts, you would have found that nuclear, coal, oil and gas receive far more in government tax credit and other subsidies than renewable energy and wind power:
http://www.awea.org/newsroom/pdf/Alexander_EIA_Two...

And if you want to define coal as naturally-replenishing, because it can be replenished in millions of years, be my guest, let's see if others feels that definition is useful. As for land use, as any farmer or rancher will tell you, the land surrounding a given wind turbine can still be used for farming, livestock grazing, etc., so the land is preserved for its original use (which cannot be said for the mountaintop that is removed and eliminated from existence in some coal mining practices, for example).

And I think the key point really here is that renewable energy is indeed sustainable, where as fossil fuels are not. Nuclear, I will give you, probably falls somewhere in the middle.

Readers can learn more about the benefits of wind power, a true form of renewable energy, by going to www.20percentwind.org
# Posted By Jeffrey Anthony | 4/2/09 4:02 PM | Report This Comment as Foul/Inappropriate
member photo Jeff:

I indeed have an ax to grind: it is that our energy decisions are made by lobbyists (like AWEA) rather than the science. That's it!

Secondly, I don't know what subsidies have to do with the definition of "renewable" -- i.e. the topic of this post. But since you brought it up, on a MWH produced basis Wind Power is subsidized more than TEN times what concentional power sources are.

Thirdly, I am no fan of coal, so that dog won't hunt either. At no time did I say (or imply) that coal should be considered a renewable. Saying otherwise are just your fabrications. Your response is a typical AWEA tactic, and used by other illusionists: misdirection.

Now nuclear IS another story -- but AWEA, and their greenwashing allies have gone to great lengths to paint it as a bad choice. It would be a good start in AWEA's rehabilitation to publicly state that nuclear energy should be included in all RPS's.

That would be a major step in going by the SCIENCE, and I look forward to seeing it right now.
# Posted By John Droz, jr. | 4/2/09 9:06 PM | Report This Comment as Foul/Inappropriate
member photo Please accept my apologies for the delay in responding. I am frankly not sure what you meant by "measured". As an inveterate punster, I can parse your sentence several ways, and only one could be considered complimentary. This is not to say that your comment was meant or perceived to be in any way disrespectful, but I am proceeding on the basis you felt I was disrespectful. It did prompt me to write, rewrite, and then edit several possible responses to avoid a repeat performance.
I understood your five points quite well. I did not mention any disagreement with them as I disagree with most of the content within that article. The cause for my "disagreement" was that my interpretation of the article was that it was railing against propagandistic/hyperbolic language. A point with which I am quite sympathetic, but the article as written was as hyperbolic as what it criticized. Not to put too fine a point on it, but it was hypocritical. I do not for a moment believe you are a hypocrite, but I did find this particular article to be hypocritical. Such references as "abominable", for me, started a very propagandistic tone that did not change as I read further into the article.
I chose to focus on the "wind turbines would take over the country" as an example of propaganda – an emotional statement that had no reasonable basis in fact. If you believe my numbers are so surprising in some way, then I would advocate you come up with your own numbers to back your statement. As per the traditions of science, he who asserts first should submit first. As an aside, I have emailed you twice, and received only one response. So either someone's spam filters are eating the other persons email, or you did not find my comments worthy of response. As for the 7.5 MW turbine, that was not a stutter. MIT Review on 2006 pointed out that the cost of wind farms decreased with size, and that a 7.5 MW was available for purchase and installation. As per http://209.85.173.132/search?q=cache:http://www.th... the first one is finally being installed.
The article first made the point that "renewable" was not scientifically supportable, and then shifted to stating there was no legal definition. Legal does not equate to scientific. It never has, and it never will. I would advocate getting over that.
A case in point, in discussing the land needs of wind turbines, you neglected to mention that LWR reactors require such vast amounts of water that per MIT Review in 2008, we can only build at most another 27 LWR reactors before we will literally have to choose between reactor usage, agricultural usage, other industrial usage and residential usage. We will run out of water resources for LWR reactors centuries before we run out of land resources for wind farms, which totally ignores the possibility of off shore locations for wind turbines. I can describe that oversight in several ways. For the purposes of this discussion, I will simply call it propagandistic – an emotional, non rational argument. And before you start, yes, I am aware of a number of alternative reactors. None will be built before 2027, and based on history, it will more likely be 2037 before the first one gets built. This brings me to my next point.
As for "scientific" versus legal, I am not sure how to proceed. To me, this is such an obvious point that I do not know what confusion there may be to know how to clarify it. The best I can come up with is this:
e=mc^2 does not "care" whether it is used to power a city, nuke an enemy, contaminate part of a country or deliver terrorism. It has no inherent morality. It simply states how the physical world operates. It is human beings who assign a "value" based on a myriad of considerations. This is how "better" is arrived at. I would advocate that if one does like how one thing is considered better than another, than one should demonstrate how the second item is indeed "better." If one is going to claim the honorific of "science", than one should use numbers. If this is not sufficiently clear, the only other possibility I can think of is to either read, or re-read "Structure of Scientific Revolutions" by Dr. Thomas Kuhns, and avoid the pitfalls of improper arguments against paradigm shifts.
# Posted By Thomas Saidak | 4/3/09 5:53 PM | Report This Comment as Foul/Inappropriate
member photo Thomas:

It seems like you are more interested in the language here rather than the message. As a physicist I never claimed to be a wordsmith, so indeed I will not always choose the optimum word for each and every situation. I would hope that readers could look beyond that limitation of mine and focus on the content.

For instance, I meant nothing nefarious by saying "measured" (e.g. restrained).

I did not get a 2nd email from you. I respond to ALL emails I get (200+ per day). Please resend it to "aaprjohn@northnet.org".

Not sure why you disagree with the "content" of the article. The content is objecting to the arbitrary and politically motivated definitions of the word "renewable". If you feel that there is some official scientific definition (excuse my poor choice of the word "legal") then please provide it.

You said that you didn't like my using the term "abominable." I did not use that quoted word, but stated that the current draft version of a proposed national RPS is an "abomination." Not sure you've read it but as an expert in this area my scientific conclusion is that it absolutely is an abomination, atrocity, disgrace, etc. Others are welcome to come to their own conclusions. I stated five fundamental errors as part of the reason why this document is so poor, deficient, substandard.

You said that "wind turbines would take over the country" was an example of "propaganda – an emotional statement that had no reasonable basis in fact." I made no such statement so am at a loss as to what you are talking about.

Your comment about reactors requiring "vast amounts of water" does not clarify that this water is almost entirely recycled, not used - a major distinction.

At the risk of being overly repetitive, let me repeat. My main reason for writing this piece was to object to the political (vs scientific) definitions of the term "renewable" energy.

As examples of the SIGNIFICANT implications and consequences of such arbitrariness, I cited five (5) erroneous assumptions made by such non-critical single-minded promotion of renewables (like RPS's). As such I was being VERY specific as to what needs to be fixed: those five false premises. None of that is hypocritical or hyperbole.

If you would like to write a paper demonstrating the independent science behind those five (5) assumptions, I'd be most pleased to see it.
# Posted By John Droz, jr. | 4/4/09 6:59 AM | Report This Comment as Foul/Inappropriate
member photo First off, I was not trying you accuse you of being "nefarious", and I tried to make it clear that was a function of how I see words. It was an attempt to signal that I am attempting to be respectful, as you are being.
Yes, I am in large part responding to the linguistics of your arguments in favor of your position. One could have simply stated a given policy is bad, poor or used several other adjectives. The one chosen here was "abomination". The word you actually chose has significant religious overtones – the antithesis of a scientific argument. The overall tenor and thrust of the article was that "bad" science or no science was used in putting together an unintelligent policy, and that this state of affairs is causing us to be "sliding into the energy ditch".
I have three central objections to how this particular article was put together; a propagandistic attack against someone else's using propaganda, a critique of others using no science or bad science while using bad science in response, which leads me to believe that the article is a set up for a hidden agenda. If pushed, I would say it comes off as trying to get nuclear energy chosen as the only rational approach.
Yes, in this case, I am interested in the form of the "debate". I would class this article as a written metalogue as this article has taken on the form of its subject. It is critical of specific language for lacking rigor, while the article itself lacks rigor or fails to achieve the rigor demanded of others. I find that improper.
The specifics of your five points lack rigor. I find it to be semantically equivalent to "Do as I say, not as I do." You really want to debate "abomination" as a non propagandistic adjective as opposed to say "bad" or "poor"? I can sympathize that as a physicist, you may want to treat words and annotations as being precise and fixed. As an inveterate punster, I can personally attest that language is not that fixed.
After that, the "science" used is bad. When I pointed out that nuclear reactors used a lot of water, you pointed out that most of it is recycled. At http://www.ucsusa.org/assets/documents/nuclear_pow..., I get the following;
"Flow, gpm = 14,295 * Mwe/ ?T

For example, the typical 1,000 Mwe nuclear power reactor with a 30ºF ?T needs approximately 476,500 gallons of water per minute. If the temperature rise is limited to 20ºF, the cooling water need rises to 714,750 gallons per minute. Some of the new nuclear reactors being considered are rated at 1,600 Mwe. Such a reactor, if built and operated, would need nearly 1,144,000 gallons per minute of once-through cooling for a 20ºF temperature rise."

That is over 66,000,000 gallons per hour. With the same amount of water, a CSP plant could produce 1,888,714 MWH, or 2.5 times the peak US consumption of 750,000 MWH for an hour. To completely power the US at 750,000 MWH, current technology nuclear reactors would require 30,937,500,000 gph. At that power level, it would cycle through every gallon in Lake Erie in 176 days. I could be wrong, but I rather suspect Canada would have strenuous objections if we offered to significantly increase the temperature of any of the five Great Lakes. Closed systems use less water. The Susquehanna nuclear plant at 2,360 MWH uses 1,716,000 gallons per hour, or enough water to drive a 49,028 MWH CSP plant. When you look down the decades, LWR reactors will run us out of water long before we run out of space to put wind farms. And before you get started on new technology – please don't. I am already aware of them and wind farms and other forms of renewable are also developing new technology. It's available when it's available, and not before. And right now, 2038 is looking a bit of a long ways away.

There are two reasons that I suspected a pro nuclear hidden agenda is that the subject of waste was never brought up as one of the key ignored criteria. Wind turbines = no waste. Solar CSP = no waste. PV Solar = Waste. NG = waste. Coal = more waste. Nuclear = waste. Tidal Power = no waste. Biomass = waste. Geothermal = Waste. Trying to pretend waste is not an issue is as disingenuous as the AWEA trying to say frequency variation isn't a problem. Trying to define clean as the amount of carbon released by a nuclear power plant was not terribly subtle, and again, tries to push the waste issue under the carpet. As a parent and pet owner, I am not in favor of this tactic. Yes, I am aware of the tokamak hybrid. It exists only on paper, and was designed with an LWR, not a pebblebed in mind. As the article derided "political" agendas, this just furthered my sense that the article was a metalogue.

Specific issues with your five points are as follows;
1 - all renewables are treated alike (i.e. wind power = solar = geothermal, etc.);
Well, if one group of people scream they can never work, while other countries seem to make it look like it works, there is not a lot to work with in terms of being discerning. Each of these has problems, which tends to make them look rather equal. Garbage in, garbage out. Everyone for my money is throwing garbage in.
2 - any renewable is assumed to be better than most any conventional source (i.e. wind power is better than nuclear power);
Hmm. I never heard of anyone being concerned that a 747 crashing into a wind turbine could cause an environmental contamination problem spanning a state, country or continent. I have seen documentaries showing New Yorkers a bit nervous since 9/11 about that reactor on the Hudson River, just north of NYC.
3 - renewables are given credit for making significant environmental changes (i.e. wind power is promoted as the way to a carbon free future);
Well, Denmark seems to be doing something about reducing their carbon foot print. So is Spain. I know Denmark has Germany and France to help balance things out, so it could be they're cheating, but again, what Denmark and Spain are doing is rather interesting. And somewhat lower in carbon emissions.
4 - the huge cost to taxpayers and ratepayers for renewable implementation is written of as the cost of "progress" or some other such platitude;
Florida has just run into a slight problem – their 3.3 GW nuclear plant is expected to cost $17 Billion. The EU can build a 6 gigawatt plant in the Sahara for about $21 Billion. Not to mention I can get liability insurance for a CSP catastrophe, but no one will underwrite a liability policy for a nuclear reactor. First rule of risk assessment is past performance is no guarantee of future performance. And how much exactly is Homeland Security and NORAD spending to make sure a 747 doesn't plow into that reactor on the Hudson? Plus who is paying for all that intelligence to safeguard the stored in place nuclear waste? And how much?
5 - the considerations of such stalwarts as grid reliability and dispatchability are now foreign concepts.
Actually, quite a lot of attention is being paid to that. That is one reason the Feds are trying to work out how to permit off shore wind farms. Thanks to Maury, wind patterns over water have been well documented since the 1830's. There has even been some talk about trying to see if there is a cost effective way to get the same data for the continental US. Given that the US is averaging 23% utility, while Morocco is averaging just over 40%, I have to wonder if placing turbines by convenience isn't half the problem. A utility in Idaho I believe has decided to pay no attention the the AWEA, and has installed 7 MW battery from NRG in Japan to see how useful it would be in conditioning wind power.

Frankly, I do not see the term "renewable energy" as a problem, much less "the" problem. Most people are able to use the term reliably, and can consistently get their thoughts across with that term. I find carbon free to be intelligent in reference to electricity, but problematic when talking about transportation. It also fails to recognize the difference between fossil carbon, and non fossil carbon. While we can build BEV cars, I suspect it will be a long time before we can build a "carbon free" airplane. I am not saying it cannot be done, but I have yet to see anything that would make it practical in the 21st century so far. There are lots of carbon neutral technologies to address transportation needs. I see other debates that need to take place to put it all into perspective.
# Posted By Thomas Saidak | 4/5/09 11:03 AM | Report This Comment as Foul/Inappropriate
member photo Maybe you can help me with a problem, we are building a 21 megawatt power production facility in western Washington, no one seems to know how much hydrogen a 21 megawatt generator will burn in one hour of operation. Is this something you can help with?

Jamie Aggen
# Posted By Jamie Aggen | 4/7/09 12:57 PM | Report This Comment as Foul/Inappropriate
member photo Jamie:

You didn't say what type of power facility you were building. But no, that is not an area of my expertise.
# Posted By John Droz, jr. | 4/7/09 3:59 PM | Report This Comment as Foul/Inappropriate
member photo Hello Bob.

More a question than a comment, does latent heat qualify as Renewable Energy.

Should yes be correct then Australian developed Open Technology has cracked base load power from renewable energy.

Latent heat to minus 10 degrees Celsius produces more base load power than you can poke a stick at.

But then it took an Australian to crack base load power using any heat source above 10 degrees Celsius.

Carbon the wonder gas. Carbon's in Coal's out.

Love to talk, Cheers Peter
# Posted By Peter Mckinlay | 9/21/10 5:12 AM | Report This Comment as Foul/Inappropriate
member photo Large scale of solar projects will be main project in this year,and solar is now becoming most of important source of electricity. post from : http://www.landpowersolar.com
# Posted By John Ryan | 2/11/14 2:08 AM | Report This Comment as Foul/Inappropriate
 
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