Monday, February 02, 2009

Good, Bad, the Ugly

I've always been nervous about lighting laws. You know, ones that require us all to use compact florescents or even one that makes incandescents unavailable. First of all, I like low watt incandescents and the quality of light they give. Furthermore, a super well insulated house can pretty much be warmed quite efficiently simply with bright incandescent spot lights that flood the inside walls.
Moreover, CFCs rarely last as long as the manufacturers claim. Perhaps more importantly, CFC's have all kinds of waste problems which make them less than an idea solution to reducing our lighting loads.

Here's a good story you may have missed last week in the Telegraph that confirms to me why we need to exercise caution when it comes to light bulb legislation. (these are actually LED's):

Scientists invent £2 energy saving lightbulb that last for 60 years
The Telegraph
By Louise Gray
29 Jan 2009

A £2 energy-saving lightbulb that lasts for 60 years has been developed by scientists at Cambridge University.

The researchers have designed a bulb that is three times more energy efficient than today's best offer and can cut lighting bills by 75 per cent.

The bulbs are made using Gallium Nitride (GaN), a man-made substance used in LEDs (light emitting diodes). It is routinely used in bike lights, mobile phones and camera flashes.

The bulbs are 12 times more efficient that conventional tungsten bulbs and three times more efficient than compact fluorescent "energy efficient" bulbs.

They can burn for 100,000 hours and they illuminate instantly and can be dimmed, unlike energy efficient bulbs. (more)

And here is 2008’s top 10 climate stories from Joe Romm's Climate Progress.

"What events, actions, and findings had the most positive or negative impact on the likelihood that the nation and the world will act in time to avoid catastrophic warming?"

Clearly the most positive is the election of Obama/ Biden:

Obama: “The science is beyond dispute… Delay is no longer an option. Denial is no longer an acceptable response.”

Why Biden is such an important pick for those who care about the climate

As far as bad stories go, I guess its a tie between:

Conservatives go all in on climate denial and delay.

While the grim implications of the science and observational data discussed above have become painfully obvious to everyone else, conservatives simply refuse to accept reality. For instance, even though a very warm 2008 makes this the hottest decade in recorded history by far — and even though 2008 was about 0.1°C warmer than the decade of the 1990s as a whole (even with a La-Niña-fueled cool winter) for some deniers, “2008 was the year man-made global warming was disproved.” Seriously.


Gas Pains.
As NOAA reported, levels of methane rose sharply in 2007 for the first time since 1998. Methane is a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, especially over the near term. And the tundra has as much carbon locked away in it as the atmosphere contains today. Scientific analysis suggests the rise in 2007 methane levels came from Arctic wetlands. The tundra melting is probably the most worrisome of all the climate-carbon-cycle amplifying feedbacks — and it could easily take us to the unmitigated catastrophe of 1000 ppm.

But by far the Ugliest story out there right now is the new improved back yard nuclear generator that has been making the rounds, thanks to Sandia and Toshiba. Toshiba is truly talking about making their 4 S available. Here's a a description from Atomic Insights:

As currently envisioned, the Toshiba 4S (Super Safe, Small and Simple) nuclear power system would be able to supply about 10 MW of electrical power for 30 years without any new fuel. It could be transported in modules by barge and installed in a building measuring 22 meters by 16 meters by 11 meters with an excavation for the reactor core and primary cooling system of about 30 meters deep. (Nishi Feb 2005)

Compared to the alternatives, the small nuclear plant would almost disappear into the background and would have little effect on the environment. Depending on a variety of assumptions, the cost for power could range as low as 6 cents per kilowatt hour. Unfortunately, there are scenarios where the cost per kilowatt hour could approach infinity."

When I first read about this new nuclear technology that was safe, was buried, and required no maintainance or security, I was a bit more than sceptical. After researching it last week, I now see it as a something close to lunacy.

The reason this little closet sized core is supposedly so safe is due to a nifty design which gives the system a "negative temperature coefficient of reactivity". Simply put, that means that an increase in core temperature will cause a decrease in core power. If the temperature increases too much, the core will shut down. Therefore, it can be buried safely 100 feet below the ground right?

All the rest of the plant is a straightforward steam turbine with all the piping and controls of any small steam turbine. And the building that houses all of this is not a farm shed, it is 70 by 50 by 30 feet. It is not some kind of new nuclear battery as some have reported. It's basically the same technology that is used in our nuclear submarine fleet.

Sandia Labs is also in the technology by licencing a company called Hyperion. And according to them, their technology is Safe...the most controlled and regulated type of power on the planet, Affordable....the cheapest in terms of dollars & environmental impact and Reliable....Available 24 /7 rain or shine, windy or calm, and it will someday power the world.

A really smart investor type asked me about this technology last week and I told him I had noticed the stories that had come out of Sandia, but I wasn't even sure exactly how they worked, since there were claims of no moving parts. He seemed excited about the potential of Toshiba and Hyperion getting into the business.

My boss asked me a few days later if I was following these developments.

So now I have.

And man,

it is ugly.

Better to stick with the good,

before the bad comes.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's very helpful having Cint Eastwood ("the good") protecting us and the environment - ha ha. "The bad" and "the ugly" don't have a chance.

9:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Really like the benches shot

11:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love my LEDs because I live in California and the electric bill was killing me. I bought Pharox LEDs and PAR20 LEDs from two places - and that weren't too expensive and then I threw out my old incandesents and now my electric bill has gone down 75%!!! Yeah!

4:30 PM  

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