Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Big Shootout

Earlier in the day, while getting ready to go workout, I made a remark to the bartenders about the recent front page of the Sunday paper of our little ol’ home town of over a million people that had a huge headline and picture about the all-important sports event that had occurred over the weekend. The type was not quite “Dewey Defeats Truman” size, but it was a lot bigger than “Delay is Indicted”.

A little off and to the right was the story about the devastating earthquake that has taken the lives of so many south central Asians in the last few days.

There was a smarty pants lawyer next to me who heard my complaint about the newspaper’s oblivious choice of lead stories, and immediately quipped that "earthquakes happen all the time, but it is a rare event indeed when this particular sports outcome occurs."

I assured him that God had just substantially raised the ante for his entry into the Kingdom for his callous and darkly funny remark.

He then recited the 100 year record between the two schools, complete with ties.

Since he is clearly good with remembering numbers, I asked him if knew how much CO2 is in the atmosphere now, versus how much CO2 was in the atmosphere before the Industrial Revolution.

He did not know.

But he did know that we cannot stop burning carbon.

He knew that we must continue burning carbon, or even more people than those who died this weekend from the earth’s instability will die from starvation, and poverty, and I guess inability to go to the mall.

He knew that by golly.

Earlier in the day someone else opined in an e mail that solar and renewables cannot possibly make up the difference in our declining resource base. Consequently, petro-collapse was the only likely scenario.

I responded back to the sender of the email that her expert was no more knowledgeable about the issue than my hairstylist. Actually, that would probably be an insult to her.

So, in the spirit of progress and precision on such issues, I have taken it upon myself to publish the following Global Energy Plan. This plan will provide energy at prices we can afford and it will begin to reduce the amount of carbon that we place into the atmosphere and thus mitigate the effects of climate change.

First, we unify the transportation system with the stationary generation sector. We do this by mandating the manufacture of plug in electric vehicles. Any transportation that uses electric fuel will help in this unification, but the plug in hybrid makes the most sense. Hopefully, Segways and other devices will become more and more popular. We will need to encourage the production of affordable lithium ion batteries and advanced ultra capacitors which can be used in cabs and buses.

This will allow for the transportation sector to be powered more and more by wind turbines and other renewables, and any other generation fuel be it nuclear or coal or natural gas.

Second, we begin a world wide effort to install wind turbines. Wind turbines in the right place, at the right size, can produce usable electrical energy in a price range that provides transportation fuel well below a dollar a gallon. Wind energy can be purchased today at prices under 3 cents/KwH

Third, we begin to build solar power plants. These plants may be like the stirling cycle plants that have recently been announced in California, or they may be thermal plants, or they may be PV plants with unique focusing strategies that reduce the cost of the electricity down to around 10 cents/KwH. If these plants are located 500 miles to the west of their principle load, they will provide energy during the electrical peak.

Fourth, we take the excess energy from these wind and solar power plants and create hydrogen through electrolysis at the electric power plant. Most existing boilers and combustion turbines can run on small fractions of hydrogen mixed in with methane with little or no refurbishing. Larger fractions of hydrogen will require dedicated boilers and turbines. Ultimately, hydrogen fueled combined-cycle power plants will be a very effective electric generation strategy for the unification of all the various renewable electronic inputs.

Fifth, we begin an international global effort to develop the nanobased power paints that will make every human structure a photonic-electronic device. These new developments in converting the surrounding light will change everything if we just understand that such a future can be ours if we choose to embrace it.

Six, we forget about all the other crap. We forget about the oil in the Mid East. We forget about nuclear. We forget about coal plants, clean, dirty, or hallucinated. We forget about frozen methane deposits in the ocean. We forget about those tar sands in Alberta. We forget about all the other goofy fuels. We forget about Tesla and those paranoid delusions about how he was screwed. We forget about fusion- hot or cold. I suppose we might try to get some energy from the waves and the tides, but, oh screw it, forget about that too.

We need transportation appliances that use electric fuel,

we need lots of windpower in the interim,

we need lots of smart solar,

we need electric utilities that take that electric fuel and either dispatch it or convert it to hydrogen for use in their existing generation fleets,

and we need to plow our collective efforts into a post promethean future by developing the photonic nano materials that will allow us to grow and prosper without pollution or resource depletion.

Or, quite simply, we will be destroyed by our burning past.

And the Big Shootout,

Will not be a sporting event.

Oh yes, there is a number Seven.

Let's give all those creepy temptations a rest,

and give Peace a Chance.

*Salvador Dali, Temptation of St Anthony


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Blogger Charlie Loving said...

The point was that Texas BEAT oklahoma, what else matters?

6:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post. It give me the science in a concise manner to respond to the naysayer. I'm going to carry a copy with me so that I can pull it out when those more scientific or oil loving types start blathering that it cannot work.

Would you consider making this into a flyer. A "How we can mover out of the oil age into ...." I don't believe that the average person thinks it is possible - a letting the people know campaign - Like those folks wearing the red ribbons for aids or the yellow ribbons around the tree for the soldiers or the little old ladies wearing purple hats.

7:11 AM  
Blogger John Hamre said...

Excellent post and useful links (as always). Once the Presidential elections come our way again, will you blog your opinions as to which, if any, of the candidates has a vision of the future that is even a fraction of what your outlined? It would help me immensely in forming my voting decision. Thanks.

1:44 PM  
Blogger oZ said...

dear anon and JD.
Yes I will. Thanks for your comments all.

I noticed today that a new bill in congress actually calls for a mandate of these multifuel cars,,, 10% in three years and 50 % in 10 years.

2:46 PM  

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