Cost of renewable energy

Discussion in 'Earth Science' started by Success_Machine, Jun 22, 2001.

  1. wet1 Wanderer Registered Senior Member

    For the US I do not think that wind from the jet stream is an option. The jet streams move to much. Sometimes they split into upper and lower streams, sometimes they join creating just one and then the stream has the tendency to move from the north to the south of the continent. Also is the fact the commercial airliners use the stream for west to east flights for increased speed and fuel savings. It is an aeronautical highway.
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  3. kmguru Staff Member

    Here are some facts:

    Oil demand in USA
    1970: 14.5 million Barrels per day
    2000: 20 million Barrels per day

    Oil import in USA
    1970: 3 million BBL/day
    2000: 11 million BBL/day

    Reliance on OPEC by USA
    1970: 42%
    2000: 50% (approx)

    Russia is poor
    2001 Russia production will be 7 million BBL/day
    2001 Saudi production 8.4 BBL/day

    I say, goto Russia.....
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  5. Edufer Tired warrior Registered Senior Member

    In a discussion on solar cells at the Australian SelfService Science board, I posted this, that could be interesting:

    <b>QUOTING A POST: <font color=blue>"Now you probably remember the Darwin-to-Adelaide World Solar Challenge that was held in November 1993. These cars need super-efficient cells. It costs about $99,000 to cover your solar race car with solar cells that are 17% efficient (ie, they turn 17% of that 1 kW/sq meter into electricity). 18% cells cost $198,000, 19% cells will cost $593,000, while 20% cells will set you back $1,480,000 (of course, this includes the 5% discount for bulk orders). Most scientists in this field reckon that 27% is the upper limit for efficiency".</b></font>

    The idea of paving roads with solar cells seemed at first worth investigating further. After some simple calculation the result was:

    The roof of those solar cars mentioned had an average of <b>10 m<sup>2</sup></B> (5 m x 2 m), and that means about $100,000 for the car, so the <B>square meter</B> costs <font color=red><b>$10,000 for a 17% efficiency solar panel.</B></font>

    A minimal narrow road (two ways) are <b>7 meters wide</b>. So we have 7.000 m<sup>2</sup> in one kilometer. Then: 7,000 m<sup>2</sup> x $ 10,000 =<font color=red></B> $ 70.000.000 for each kilometer.</B></font>

    <b>1 m<sup>2</sup> yields 170 watts (0,17 Kw)</B> and the cost for installed Kw is then = <font color=red><b>$588,235.25</font>. Not cheap.</B> A 1,000 km road would cost <font color=red><b>$70,000,000,000</B></font> ($ 70 American Billions). About 20 1356 megawatt ABWRs or MHTGR, Fourth Generation nuclear stations.

    We must add to these costs the ones related of the much more higher price of this new kind of highly resistant pieces of solar panels, capable of withstand the heavy loads imposed by trucks, and a material that won´t scratch or break, or bend. Quite a task will the construction of these panels! The cost would probably double or triple.

    If we make the same calculations for a 20% efficiency cell, we´ll get <font color=red><b>140 Kw</b></font> for each km at cost of<font color=red><b> $7,400,000 for installed kilowatt.</B></font> Unbelievable expensive!

    <font color=blue><center><b>- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -</center> </B></font>

    Compare these figures with nuclear costs: <font color=red><b>$ 4.00 - $6.50 per installed Kw.</B></font>

    <font color=red><b>Environmental costs:</B></font> Solar cells are manufactured with highly toxic materials that must be disposed off at high prices. Unlike radioactive wastes, chemical wastes <font color=red><b>never lose their toxicity</B></font>, while radioactive residues can be treated by present technologies very efficiently, concentrating 94% of their radioactivity in only 4% of the original volume, easily disposable and stored.

    Another nice dream gone down the toilet. Rats!

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    <font color=green><b>Everyday reality has the nasty habit of crashing man´s most beautiful dreams.

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    </B></font> ----Edufer.
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  7. kmguru Staff Member


    Have you done any research into fuel cells and anything available that can run on kerosene?
  8. Edufer Tired warrior Registered Senior Member

    No, kmguru, I have not made any research on kerosene. Besides being a nice fuel to use in heaters and lamps, my only remembrance of a different use is a friend of mine that have an American 6-cylinder car he makes it run on kerosene (it cost here half as gasoline: $0,45 against $1,05 <b>a liter!</B> without any modification but a minor one: he has a device with a manual switch that delivers a small amount of gasoline into the carburator (in order to start the engine) and then scwitches to the kerosene supply.

    Of course, it delivers a lot less HP, but on the long run it is cheaper. We also use here natural gas systems (called GNC, Gas Natural Comprimido, or Compressed Natural Gas) on cars, pickups and vans. Can make a car run about 150 km with a load costing about $ 3.00. Most people use it (I had a Cherokee Laredo with such system, and was cheap to use, althoug the loss in HP is noticeable.)

    Some years ago we had AlcoNafta (a mixture of sugar cane Alcohol and gasoline), but is no longer in use. But in Brazil they are still using it, a PURE alcohol fuel for cars, but the side effects is heavy rusting of the engine, as alcohol is water avid, and the water corrodes everything inside the engine (and the tank)..

    The last use I recall for "keros&eacute;n" is in Patagonia, where some Chilean workers (when temperatures were way down below freezing point, run out of wine and started to drink galons of kerosene. Of course, they died.)
  9. Holy Registered Senior Member


    I am new to the science of energy and a sustainable society.

    As I have understood the flow of energy from the sun that hits earth is 10.000 times greater than the total energy consumption of our society and the global photosynthesis.

    A lot of people argue that making use of that energy from the sun is one solution for a future sustainable society without environmental issues.

    But, the energy from the sun is dissipating from earth in form of heat which spreads to earth surroundings.

    The question is therefore:
    - If we learn to effectively use the solar energy to create a society without further energy needs, this will effect the heat dissipating from earth, is this a factor? Meaning will the loss of heat in earth closest surroundings have an impact on earth itself?
  10. SeekerOfTruth Unemployed, but Looking Registered Senior Member

    Re: Question

    Assuming Global Warming is a reality, regardless of whether it is caused by man or not, wouldn't the loss of heat be a good thing?

    Of course, this is a pretty limited way of viewing things, especially in light of chaos theory, but I think it would be the reaction of a lot of people.
  11. Holy Registered Senior Member

    Reformat of question

    I did not think about the possibility of global warming. But after thinking about it a while I have come to this conclusion.

    If we learn to effectively use the solar energy at a reasonable cost, we will have a virtually inexhaustible source of energy (until the sun stops shining). That would make the use of fossil fuels and other greenhouse gas processes obsolete and thus we would not have to use these forms of exergy creation processes.

    So the problem would then be reversed. If global warming exist today, then global cooling should possibly exist in a future solar society. I am not sure that we ever could extract enough energy from the solar radiation to possibly make a difference in the surroundings of earth, but if the society keeps growing in that scenario of the future, perhaps the earth would be one ore two degrees colder.


    Another point of global warming.

    If the average heat increases on earth, some scientists say that we will have an increasing sea level. But is that true?

    If the heat increases we will have an increased evaporation of the water on earth, which means an increasing amount of rain and snow. This will occur as much over the north and south poles as over anywhere else in the world. The polar ice caps will grow due to the increase in snow. If the polar ices grow further into our oceans will the ice cool the waters down some degree?

    If that is the case then the average temperature will drop again, at least in the south and north of the earth. For instance in Sweden the gulf-stream could cease to exist which would make Sweden a snowy ice country.

    As usual I am not entirely sure of what I am saying or speaking about, but give me information about this and I will grow and learn.
  12. Edufer Tired warrior Registered Senior Member

    Re: Reformat of question

    This is a quiet sensible and sound way of starting the road to knowledge. About your concern on if using the energy coming from the sun could disturb the environment or change conditions on Earth, the answer seems to be: very little, if any. Why?

    You must take into account the First Law of Thermodynamics, or Conservation of Energy that, summing up, says "nothing is lost, everything is transformed", (or the variance: "Nothing is created...") This means that if we could --someday-- learn how to use effectively solar power (which unfortunately seems to have poor future due to the quite diffuse way -- or low concentration-- of solar energy), the solar energy received and stored will later be released again to the environment (when used by human activities) and ultimately sent back to outer space. So the use of solar energy would not add or subtract energy (or heat) from the planet.

    Nor it would contribute to stop any warming, as warmings and coolings are natural processes that have been happening on Earth since it was created, billions of years away ago. If you are concerned about the influence mankind industrial activities could be having on an alleged warming (or "anthropogenic influence") please stop worrying --there is nothing of the kind. I would strongly suggest you to pay a visit to an excellent Australian website called <A HREF=""><font color=red><b>Still Waiting for the Greenhouse</B></font></A>, where you will find such amount of information on the subject that will make you feel sick. I mean, sick in disgust on how the issue of Global Warming has been used and abused with quite ignoble intentions. Hope you´ll have fun in that website.

    <font color=red><b>Nothing worst than ignorance in action.</B></font> ---Friedrich Nietzsche
  13. SeekerOfTruth Unemployed, but Looking Registered Senior Member

    Re: Reformat of question

    One thing to consider beyond global warming due to greenhouse gasses is the potential warming from what I call Side Product Heat. Side Product Heat is the heat that results from human endeavors. For instance, as the cities on the planet grow, so do the areas of concrete and asphalt. These obsorb solar radiation and then radiate that heat back into the atmosphere at night. Also, in societies that are more advanced, we tend to heat our homes in the winter. The vehicles we drive are radiating heat into the environment, that's what a radiator is for. Finally, what about the heat each and every one of us radiates into the environment? Granted these are all minute quantities of heat we are adding to the atmosphere, but they are there none the less. Has anyone ever done a study to see how much Side Product Heat we are generating and how it may increase as the population of the planet increases and third world nations become high-tech nations?

    As to the effects of increased evaporation of water, I read an intersting article that hypothesized that the current trend in global warming was actually going to cause the next ice age. As the arguement goes, the major heat pump on the planet is the gulf stream in the atlantic ocean. It pumps heat from the equator to the far reaches of the Northern hemisphere and thereby keeps the temperatures in the north milder than they would be without it. The arguement states that the current trend in global warming is eventually going to melt the ice sheets around greenland and in north eastern canada. This melted fresh water will flow directly into the northern portion of the gulf stream and stop the pump. Without the effects of the gulf stream, the northern latitudes will cool drastically and suddenly and it will result in another ice age.

    Pretty interesting that global warming could potentially cause an ice age.
  14. Edufer Tired warrior Registered Senior Member

    Hi, Seeker!, The Gulf Stream life (and activity) has more to do with its saline content than the surface temperatures. According to the latests researches, ice in Greenland and the North Pole is not melting, but it is growing at a slight, well quantified rate. You could check this information in this web page: <font color="red"> <b><A HREF="">Polar ice cap studies refute global warming</A></B></font> (an article referring to the scientific paper).

    The theory you mention doesn´t take into account what I said in my previous post: The <b>First Law of Thermodynamics</B>: the main source of energy on our planet is the sun. Its energy had been stored by plants since eons, and is being released back when they are burned. There is also a contribution of heat by volcanoes, but in the whole, forests and savannas fires and volcanoes make a minute contribution of heat to Earth´s atmosphere, that ends up escaping to outer space.

    So the amount of paved and built surface on Earth would only be reflecting heat received, not making new heat. The heat released by human populatin is also dependant on the heat absorbed first, so in the long run, it´s only a "recycling" of existent heat (food is stored energy), and everything keeps inside the heat cycle: heat (or energy) received from the sun, processed and released again. You could have Earth covered by a thick mass of human beings releasing a heat that they had previously taken away from the environment. Not net gain, not net loss. An intersting subject.

    You should pay a brief visit to the page I mentioned in my last post to Holy: <A HREF=""><B>"Still waiting for the Greenhouse"</B></A>. It is worthwile and enlightening.
  15. SeekerOfTruth Unemployed, but Looking Registered Senior Member

    Thanks for the info Edufer.

    One thing though,if you consider the first law of thermodynamics, it refers to closed systems. You can make arguements both for and against the idea that the earth is a closed system so I am not sure how much this law actually holds.

    The amount of energy absorbed or reflected by the earth from the sun is dynamically changing based on the total reflectivity of the planet. That is why an asteroid hitting in a major ocean or thermonuclear war could create an ice age. All of the dust or water that would be placed in the air would change the aggregate reflectivity of the planet and the earth would reflect more light/heat than it does now, thereby causing a new ice age.

    In regards to the effects of asphalt and concrete in cities, they do not typically reflect thermal energy, they obsorb it and then re-radiate at night. Now if there is a cloud cover at night, that thermal energy is not radiated back into space, it is in fact reflected back to earth by the cloud cover, thereby causing an increase in thermal energy of the planet, however small. The effects of cloud cover at night explain why the temperature is typically warmer on nights when there is a cloud cover as opposed to nights when there is not a cloud cover. When taking this into account, you could potentially have an increase in average thermal energy because the energy of the sun that would be stored during the day may not be radiated back into space during the night.
  16. Chagur .Seeker. Registered Senior Member

    SeekerOfTruth ...

    Cities are, for all practical purposes, heat sinks.

    An equivalent area of vegitation absorbs the solar radiation and converts a good portion of it. A city just absorbs it and then re-radiates it, and adds to it (air conditioning, energy generation, cars, etc.).
  17. Edufer Tired warrior Registered Senior Member

    In general terms you are right. We may argue for years about the issue of "closed systems", and never reach to an agreement (or maybe yes, we agree at last), but this is not too relevant now.

    Yes. it is true, although it would be a temporary increase, and in the first clear night the heat would be reflected back to outer space. Someone could say that the heat will be trapped by CO2, but this is a very minor factor, as CO2, contrary to widespred belief, is not a such important greenhouse gas. According to accepted facts, the capacity of our atmosphere to hold heat is formed by the contributions of <b>water vapour</b> (wich contributes with 93-95% of the air capacity to retain heat), CO2 (about 3,5% capacity) and the rest is distributed among other gases of minor importance as methane, Argon, CFCs, etc.

    As for CFCs. they account for 0,000003% (three millionths percent) of the gases present in the atmosphere, Argon comes third in importance with 1%, oxygen with 21%, nitrogen with 78%, and CO2 with its, 0,03%.

    You can see the effect of these gases when you come to learn that temperatures at Hoggart (in the Sahara) range at an average of -5°C and 55°C (an amplitude of 60°C), while the Amazon basin, at the same latitude, range between 32°C and 23°C, when in the rainy season. The concentration of CO2 is the same for both locations (about 370 ppmv) but the humidity vary wildly: 5-10% in Hoggart and 85-95% in the Amazon). Clearly, is water vapour the agent that retain heat, and not CO2.

    Again, this would be a momentary retention of heat, that would dissipate when there is a clear sky, and low humidity. Your mention of a nuclear winter reminds me that environmentalists predicted such an event when Saddam Hussein set fire to Kuwait's oil wells. Although the smoke cover was huge, it turned out that the change in temperature (in the long range, or average) for the region was not altered. Volcanoes make a much greater impact on our climate when they blow up. Remember Pinatubo, Philippines, in 1991? Or the Chichonal, Mexico, in 1982? They cooled Earth (globally) by a full 1°C, taking the global temperatures back to the 1890s.

    If you have time, you may want to visit our website (there is a page in English) whose address is: <A HREF=""><b>Argentine Foundation for Scientific Ecology</B></A> where you would find some interesting articles and links with <b>"the sound of a different bell"</B>.
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2002
  18. SeekerOfTruth Unemployed, but Looking Registered Senior Member


    This article appears to contradict the statement you make here and the article you reference. I guess the question is still out on which way the ice sheets are going?

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  19. Edufer Tired warrior Registered Senior Member

    Seeker: I receive regularly Nature´s newsletters, and I have seen the one you pointed me. I have read the abstract and it did not convince me. For reading the full study with all the required figures I must be a full subscriber (must pay a money I can´t spare) so I leave the studies fight each other and hope for the best to win.

    Anyhow, if you want to visit John Daly´s website, <A HREF="">Still Waiting for the Greenhouse"</A>, you will find a page where is everything you should know about Polar Ice melting and/or increases.

    Cheer up! The sky isn´t falling and the Ice caps are not melting!
  20. Edufer Tired warrior Registered Senior Member

    Global Warming

    Seeker: I forgot to give you the link to an article appearing on our Foundation´s website: <A HREF=""> <B>"The Global Warming Folly"</B></A> (in english) written by world renown scientist Zbigniew Jaworoski, former chairman of the UNSCEAR <i>(United Nation Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiations)</I> that gives you an excellent and tremendously referenced view of this issue. (98 references!)
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2002
  21. Adventure Registered Member

    Energy must be expended to create correct? We can't burn fossil fuels forever, we need to change. The sun is burning, expending energy, tap into that the solar energy source, ocean currents sue them, rivers, use them, wind use it.

    Create more effeciant machines. Low and behold ride a bicycle 2 miles to work, walk, whatever, we need to change.
  22. spacecat27 Registered Member

    A few thoughts on energy alternatives

    The current issue of TECHNOLOGY REVIEW is a special focus on this subject- very good reading!

    Some leading petrogeologists have pointed out that world oil production will peak in the next year or two- and from there it's all downhill..... so we're going to HAVE to ween ourselves from fossil fuels eventually. US oil consumption could be cut dramatically if we made an effort to develop, purchase and drive vehicles with greater efficiency- and stop this SUV madness. And- look at any main road in any town or city and you can see where MOST of our energy is going: advertising. Personally, I KNOW where Burger King is and I don't need a 25-foot ILLUMINATED hamburger to tell me. Multiply that by all the Burger Kings... and all the other businesses with illuminated signs.... look at big cities and places like Las Vegas! Astronomers call this 'light pollution'- I call it JUNK ENERGY.

    There will not be a single answer to replace (or minimize) oil- We need to move from an oil economy to a hydrogen / solar / wind / wave / geothermal / safe nuclear / tide / hydroelectric / etc. , etc. economy. A national effort along the lines of the Manhattan Project or the Apollo Program should be launched to do this. Actually, it should have been done long ago.

    Our first hint should have been the Arab Oil Embargo of 1973. At that time we could have put all of the Apollo scientists and engineers back to work on the problem- but Nixon did nothing. A second OPEC production cut in 1979 gave us lines at the gas pumps again- but Carter did nothing. Eventually, we had the Gulf War.... and most recently, 9/11. I'd like to hope we'll now get off our duffs and END our dependence on Middle East oil..... and progress toward renewable sources with a renewed interest in conservation.
  23. wayne_j Registered Member

    GW Bush has the right idea

    GW has backed the idea to use fuel cells instead of gas/electric hybreeds. Fuel cells work by converting hydorgen to enrgy. The exhaust by one of these fuel cells is H2O.

    Has for electric power sources. After an Hydro Damn is built the only operating cost is upkeep. There is no fuel charge. Zero emissions and reversible environmental impact.

    France and Great Britan both now have a new power source called Tidal Gen. It uses the tidal force of the ocean to move a big, for lack of a better term, paddle that in turn moves a generator.

    In general we humans are lazy. We take the easiest ways out. Thats why we have not moved to exploit any of these to their fullest yet. Has long as we can burn coal and oil and keep the plants we have running going thats what we are going to do.

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