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Topic: Alternative Energy!
Username: AerLingus
Posted 2001-03-26 03:30:44 and read 3356 times.

The power problem has been in full swing for some time, and now it's time to start pointing fingers and finally being a discussion about what to do about it.
So far, I have heard about drilling for oil in the ANWR, building nuclear power plants, restrictions have been lifted on potentially damaging chemicals such as arsenic, and our fearless president is probably going to start hitting up Vicente Fox for some cheap oil.
Through all of this talk, not ONCE have I heard about alternative power sources.
No one has ever brought up clean energy like solar.
It amases me, since it doesn't appear that we will be having a shortage of sunlight in the next several million years.
What do you think? Should we just drain the sh--t out of the planet or do you think that we should actually explore new ways of running the planet?

Topic: RE: Alternative Energy!
Username: Bombstar
Posted 2001-03-27 22:50:45 and read 3280 times.

to George Bush, it doesn't matter, he'll be dead before the planet is drained of its energy

Topic: RE: Alternative Energy!
Username: Ikarus
Posted 2001-03-27 23:27:34 and read 3276 times.

How clean an energy is solar energy? I have no idea, but I would really like to know: The substances used in solar cells, are they in any way toxic or damaging to the environment? How much ground area would have to be covered to supply similar amounts of energy as a standard gas-burning or coal-burning power plant? What are the effects of such solar plants on the underlying vegetation/animal habitat? How much would it cost?

The reason why I ask all these (seemingly stupid) questions is that, for example, nuclear power and HEP were once considered environmentally friendly - clean sources of energy. Now we know that one can poison thousands of square miles of land and radiate people to death, while the other often causes dangerous methane emissions (due to rotting vegetation) causing the greenhouse effect and often making the water poisonous and inhabitable for fish and natural life forms, while potentially filling it up with algae and some parasites....

So far, the only source of energy that appears to be almost 100% clean is wind energy, which is not quite as reliable as other sources. Also, as far as I know, windmills are not very powerful energy generators: You need 100s of them to replace one conventional power station, which gets all the residents mobilized for the "aesthetic destruction"....

Let's face it: No matter where we get energy from, it is likely to be damaging to the planet in one way or another. It is necessary to select and consider various different ideas and sources to evaluate their usefulness - and practicality. I don't think anyone can claim to have an ideal clean source of energy - but I do agree it would be sensible to research and experiment around with all the potentially clean ideas. But it would be stupid to jump into large-scale production of such energies without fully understanding all implications, side-effects and problems. Correct me if I am wrong, but aren't all the new sources of energy still in quite experimental stages, or too expensive to be a viable alternative to any other source of power?


Regards

Ikarus

Topic: RE: Alternative Energy!
Username: CPDC10-30
Posted 2001-03-28 00:00:17 and read 3277 times.

Far fewer people have been killed by nuclear power generation than by hydroelectric or fossil fuel plants. Tell me about a safer, cleaner source of power but without the rhetoric.

Topic: RE: Alternative Energy!
Username: AgnusBymaster
Posted 2001-03-28 00:09:59 and read 3301 times.

Wind power and solar panels are great for powering small buildings/complexs, but they don't work so well for large-scale energy production.


Solar power plants are very expensive to build and obviously, they are at the whims of mother nature, just like wind power.

You can use solar/wind power to augment standard sources of electricty, such as hydroelectric and fossil fuel plants.

Topic: RE: Alternative Energy!
Username: Mls515
Posted 2001-03-28 14:11:28 and read 3271 times.

Nuclear all the way. Biomass might be another good one (burning renewable vegitation rather than fossil fuels).

Topic: RE: Alternative Energy!
Username: Us330
Posted 2001-03-28 19:34:52 and read 3243 times.

The technology has been out there for many years to convert this entire country to non-fossil fuel sources of energy, but there are so many oilmen who are paying off the government, that it won't happen anytime soon.

Topic: RE: Alternative Energy!
Username: Cfalk
Posted 2001-03-28 19:37:34 and read 3235 times.

There is only one fuel which is even theoretically clean - fusion. Unfortunately, technology is still years away from achieving it. Who knows when the great leap will be achieved, next week, or next millenium.

Solar power suffers from the same problem. The solar panels of today are far from efficient, and converts to usable electricity but a small fraction of the sunlight that falls on it.

Hydroelectric power is very clean, but cannot be built just anywhere, and the ecologists go nuts about drowning large areas.

But there have been instances where people (or a government) put national resources behind an idea that was impossible at the time, with the knowledge that they would have to invent the technology to make it work. The Manhattan Project and the Apollo Program are two good examples. Maybe that is what is needed to make that big step to make fusion work or make solar power viable on a large scale.

The problem there is that the Manhattan Project and Apollo were both created out of a percieved life-or-death need to succeed, and merited massive and expensive efforts to achieve them with a strict timeline to meet ("before the Germans" for the Manhattan Project, and "Before this decade is out" for Apollo).

With fuel/power prices as low as they are today, there is no such percieved emergency. Hiking fuel taxes would be artificial, and will not achieve the sense of urgency. People are also selfish in their actions - people voted for, and re-elected politicians in California who imposed ridiculous targets on car manufacturers to sell non-poluting cars, but nobody bought them when they became available. Basically they said, "Cars should be clean, but make my neigbor buy it, not me."

The only way for this sense of urgency to be created if for a true shortage to come along, or some approaching calamity with a certain and near deadline.

Charles

Topic: RE: Alternative Energy!
Username: CPDC10-30
Posted 2001-03-29 02:41:04 and read 3231 times.

Charles is exactly right. The Apollo program exceeded its budget by more than ten times but is still considered a success. Humans are capable of almost anything if we work together and don't limit ourselves.

There was a big conference on fusion here in Toronto a few years ago...they were excited that a reaction had been sustained for about 2 seconds creating enough heat to warm a bathtub (but consuming millions times more to start the reaction). Has there been much progress since then?

Topic: RE: Cfalk
Username: EIPremier
Posted 2001-03-29 03:17:31 and read 3232 times.

It seems to be what you are saying in essence is that necessity (or perceived necessity) is the mother of invention. I agree that there hasn't been enough criticism of the existing power system to lay the seeds for major technological advancements in this area.

I agree that fusion is the only efficient and totally clean power source. Wind and solar power aren't efficient.

With fuel/power prices as low as they are today, there is no such percieved emergency.

Either I'm not following your logic, or this is a bit of an overstatement. The price consumers are paying for fuel and power is much higher than the rates they've become accustomed to in recent years.

Topic: RE: Cfalk
Username: CPDC10-30
Posted 2001-03-29 03:29:23 and read 3238 times.

EIPremier, the North American energy prices are very low by European standards.

There isn't enough problems yet...not nearly to prompt major spending and effort in alternative energy sources. A crisis is when there are nation-wide blackouts, $1/kwh electricity prices and $15/litre gasoline.

Topic: RE: Alternative Energy!
Username: EIPremier
Posted 2001-03-29 04:57:11 and read 3223 times.

>>EIPremier, the North American energy prices are very low by European standards

Yes, I realize the prices in many other countries are much higher than in the US. However, gas and energy prices in the States are not progressing in the right direction---in some cases up more than 50% from what they were a few years ago. I would like to see more effort on the part of the federal government towards developing/utilising efficient, more environmentally friendly sources of energy. I'm not holding my breathe for anything, but I think this is one area in particular where we need to be proactive.

Topic: RE: Alternative Energy!
Username: Matt D
Posted 2001-03-29 20:13:28 and read 3219 times.

If you really want to get to the source of the problem, look no further than the mirror in your bathroom.

Everybody wants to drive their SUV's, getting 3 miles to the gallon, while wanting to pay no more than $.75 per gallon for gas. They want to have clean air, and cheap, unlimited electricity while rerfaining from building any new power plants. Oh yeah, they want to consume even more power by building more and more strip malls and housing.

Is it any wonder the energy situation is in such shambles right now?

Take a look at the desires I listed above. somethings gotta give. If you want to drive an SUV, you have no reason to complain about paying $2 or $3 per gallon of gas. If you don't want to pay that, then you better ditch your Excursion, and trade it in for a Honda that gets 32 miles per gallon. If you want cheap, unlimited electricity (and new homes and strip malls), then SOMEBODYS kangaroo rats MUST be uprooted and SOMEONE is going to have a power plant in their backyard.
That's just the way it goes.

Like the tired old cliche goes:

You can't have your cake and eat it too.

Topic: RE: Alternative Energy!
Username: 9A-CRO
Posted 2001-03-30 14:23:28 and read 3215 times.

fusion is definitely the best source of tommorow energy
but today it is nuclear fision - provided that all safety standards are fulfilled it will be a lot less harmfull than coal or oil power plant -
did you know that outside plant radiation level is higher in coal plant than in nuclear - in the coal there are traces of radioactive materials
of fossil fuels the best is natural gas

energy conservation is also must-do step - do not leave lights on when you are not using them, use energy saving bulbs instead of normal ones... etc

Topic: RE: Alternative Energy!
Username: Ikarus
Posted 2001-03-30 22:14:45 and read 3216 times.

I have read something (but admittedly not much) on fusion - and to be honest, to me it sounded scaringly similar to the nuclear optimism before Chernobyl. To have a miniature version of the processes generating energy in the sun on earth, powering cities? Sure. And it's sooooo controllable and safe and clean. No waste, no CO2, no problem.

I see it like this: Where there is a source of energy, it can be used in several ways. The two main ones: Uncontrolled, blasting your enemies' face off or city away. Controlled: Powering you lawnmower and microwave from afar. The problems occur when it switches from the latter state to the former unintentionally - and which form of energy is 100% safe against that? I tend to think that if it (the problem) hasn't been found yet, it only means that we are not understanding it completely enough.....

Anyway: I'm against nuclear power - better 5 power stations on natural gas in my forgarden than 1 nuclear one. And, for the moment, I'm deeply sceptical about fusion.

Regards

Ikarus

Topic: RE: Alternative Energy!
Username: CPDC10-30
Posted 2001-03-30 23:46:27 and read 3201 times.

Ikarus, you are an atomophobe.

Fusion in a controlled reaction is impossible to cause any great disaster. There is relativley little radiation produced in the reaction...far less than with fission. Comparing controlled plasma fusion that is magnetically confined to a hydrogen bomb is ridiculous.

Europe and Japan are messing around with fuel reprocessing, a very dangerous process. If they went to a once-through cycle like we do in North America the safety risks are much reduced. There is enough Uranium for at least the next 150 years...by that time reporcessing technology will have vastly improved or fission will be obsolete.

Give me a nuclear power station in my back yard any day. (There are at least 10 reactors within 50 km of where I live in Toronto). I do value my health ahead of silly fears.

Topic: RE: Alternative Energy!
Username: Transactoid
Posted 2001-03-31 09:52:20 and read 3185 times.

I live right between two nukes. They don't worry me at all. I'm actually quite proud to be able to say we get so much of our electricity from this much cleaner source.

(Pickering and Darlington, btw)

Topic: RE: Transactoid
Username: CPDC10-30
Posted 2001-03-31 10:48:25 and read 3208 times.

Thats actually TWELVE reactors you live between (4 at Darlington, 4 at Pickering B and 4 at Pickering A that will be restarted soon)  Smile/happy/getting dizzy

We are quite lucky in Ontario to have a good mix of dependable, relativley clean, affordable electricity...of which Nuclear contributes about 50%.

Topic: RE: Alternative Energy!
Username: L-188
Posted 2001-03-31 11:03:41 and read 3189 times.

Lets see here alternate energy is wanted by all of the Greenies. But the facilities to generate it are under attack by various factions of the environmental groups.

Hydroelectric.....They all allready fighting to tear down dams in the Western US. Not a word about building new ones.

Atomic fission and fusion.....I'll let the atomophobes speak for themselves on that one.

Wind Power....How did that big stink over all the eagles that got killed nesting on those things work out???

Solar....Takes up a lot of ground space...And they probably wouldn't work too well most of the year in Seattle.

Hell wood for heat is frowned on in many places and we know that will grow back!!!.

Energy is going to be treated more like a commodity in the future rather then a Utility. When that happens we will see much greater emphasis on lowering usage of it.

Topic: RE: Alternative Energy!
Username: Turbulence
Posted 2001-03-31 12:47:48 and read 3179 times.

You are missing something.

AerLingus (and everybody else):

This topic has been talked about, and I am very pro-hydrogen, based to some tests being currently runned

See my threads at

http://www.airliners.net/discussions/general_aviation/read.main/287669/

and at

http://www.airliners.net/discussions/general_aviation/read.main/357417/

There's an ALTERNATIVE energy available, and technology suitable for its use.

Hope you enjoy.

Best turbulences

Topic: RE: Alternative Energy!
Username: Ikarus
Posted 2001-03-31 14:32:09 and read 3180 times.

"Fusion in a controlled reaction is impossible to cause any great disaster"

Well, so what is the control fails? There's two options: Reaction dies down and lawnmower stops, or reaction breaks loose and makes a mess somewhere in the power station.

I am rather interested in the latter case. So: What is the "greatest possible accident" (German GAU groesster anzunehmender unfall) for fusion? For nuclear fission it seems to be that the reactor melts its way through the concrete, leaking radioactivity into the environment and the drinking water and poisoning thousands of square miles of land, mushrroms, animals and people.

That's why I prefer the conventional energy sources: In the worst case, the thing blows up, kills a few workers and releases a bit too much CO2 - but the damage is highly limited. If and when something nuclear goes wrong, the disaster is affecting far bigger regions and far more people. And I do believe in Murphy's Law. And what I do not believe in is "clean energy that cannot go wrong" - it's too good to be true - which indicates that we simply do not know all about it yet.

Yep. I am an atomophobe. If you had suddenly heard as a four-year-old that all your playground sand was poisoned, that the rain you had walked through a few days earlier had been radioactive and that you would never be allowed to go through the wood and pick mushrooms to eat them later, you would probably see the point. And that was a few thousand kilometres from Chernobyl - imagine what the people in its immediate vicinity must have gone through.

And imagine what'll happen if some earthquakes in California manage to crack open those masses of reactors you have got at the west coast....

Regards

Ikarus

Topic: RE: Alternative Energy!
Username: 9A-CRO
Posted 2001-03-31 16:33:05 and read 3179 times.

the cernobyl accident happened because some bozo in Moscow ordered to conduct stupid experiment on how to get energy from nothing, others plants rejected but this was and and it couldn't say no to "high member of communist party"

Topic: RE: Alternative Energy!
Username: CPDC10-30
Posted 2001-03-31 17:20:42 and read 3166 times.

Ikarus, you are conveniently forgetting the thousands of people who die every year because of respratory illnesses brought on by air pollution.

The worst accidents in terms of death tolls are hydroelectric stations.

Topic: RE: Alternative Energy!
Username: Cba
Posted 2001-03-31 20:02:00 and read 3161 times.

Right now, the uses of hydrogen fuel cells are being developed for cars. The first step in new energy for automobiles will be hybrids. A hydbrid takes normal gasoline, but this gas powers a generator, and the generator powers the car. Result: 60 mpg in normal city driving. Honda has just come out with a consumer model, and others will follow.

The long term technology will be hydrogen fuel cells. They will use hydrogen as a fuel. Hydrogen is clean, and abundant. When combusted, the byproduct is water vapor. Completely harmless.

For electric power, fusion s the only way to go. We already have the technology for fusion power, we just can't control it. The hydrogen bomb is an uncontrolled fusion reaction. Nuclear fission is the next best thing, but nuclear wastes have to be disposed of. It is completely safe though, as most of Europe is powered by nuclear power, and when was the last time you heard of a nuclear accident. Cherynoble was caused due to poor maintanence. A properly maintained nuclear power plant is 100% safe.

Topic: RE: Alternative Energy!
Username: AerLingus
Posted 2001-04-01 00:53:22 and read 3157 times.

Ikarus,
If we followed Murphy's Law all the time, we wouldn't get anywhere, even if your namesake fell victim to it.
Cba,
Correction: a properly maintained nuclear powerplant is NEVER 100% safe. 90%, maybe. TMI's systems were properly maintained, but there was inherent fault in a pump mechanism that Babcock and Wilcox (the plant's designer) never bothered to rectify or divulge until it was too late. That fault led to the first meltdown of a major, commercial reactor. Design and maintainance are two different things.
A reactor isn't designed to be failsafe because it is impossible.
In fact, nothing is 100% safe. The law of probability doesn't permit it. Not even a rock on the ground is 100% safe.

Topic: RE: Alternative Energy!
Username: An-225
Posted 2001-04-04 10:02:12 and read 3150 times.

Well, we should gradually ease those environmentally friendly cars in. That way, when you gradually ease them in, the pollution will be reduced considerably.

It's just like we see with the airplanes - more polluting and noisy are phased out, while newer and more environmentally friendly are put in.

Topic: RE: Alternative Energy!
Username: Adam84
Posted 2001-04-04 10:48:26 and read 3161 times.

I agree 110% with what MattD said above (especially about the SUV's). Also these enviromentally friendly cars (the pure electric ones) arent exactly zero emissions. For example where does the power come from to charge up the batteries? I would say the most enviromentally cars today are the hybrids, they are probably going to come more and more into play and eventually rule the market until we come up with something new.

Topic: RE: Alternative Energy!
Username: Cfalk
Posted 2001-04-04 11:12:47 and read 3158 times.

An-225,

More envoronmentally friendly cars have been coming in since the 70's. A comparable-sized family car today puts out as little as 1/50th of the polution or even less of its counterpart of the 60s.

Electric cars are a farce - because of the efficiencies involved in generating electricity and transporting it to your home to plug into the car, you end up having to burn about the same number of BTUs of fuel at the power station as in a gasoline-powered car. All you do is move the polution out of town. And don't forget you will need to build a huge new network of power plants to feed all these cars.

Of course, once fusion is invented, and electricity is thus made cheap and inexhaustable, then electric cars would make some sense. However, you would still have to convince the consumer. Several car manufacturers like GM have already offered electric vehicles at HUGE discounts, but people don't want them.

Charles


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