Category Archives: Opinions

Renewable(?) Energy

The following is a post taken entirely from one done by Matt Ridley. Ridley was educated at Eton College and then completed a BA and a PhD at Oxford in zoology. He is author of a number of successful books on science. (will1be)

What does the word “renewable” mean?

Last week the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a thousand-page report on the future of renewable energy, which it defined as solar, hydro, wind, tidal, wave, geothermal and biomass. These energy sources, said the IPCC, generate about 13.8% of our energy and, if encouraged to grow, could eventually displace most fossil fuel use.

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A Nuclear Change of Heart by a Well Known English Environmentalist

George Monbiot has been an activist in the environment field for years. He is an Oxford graduate and writes a weekly column for the Guardian, a comprehensive but very left-leaning newspaper in England. In the article below he calls himself a “neutral-nuclear” person, although his past writings would indicate that he has, at least, been somewhat on the anti-nuclear side. However accurately he describes himself, I found this recent column to be surprisingly objective. I hope you will also find it interesting.

Why Fukushima made stop worrying and start loving nuclear power

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Europe Continues Cuts in Solar and Wind Subsidies

Here’s today’s update by Peter Gosselin on the status of support and subsidies by European governments for the alternate energy sources of solar and wind. Cuts by the US Congress shouldn’t be far behind. Good riddance, in that the systems cannot compete economically in the energy generation field. And the subsidies just line the pockets of investors slopping at the government trough while adding to the electric bill of all citizens.

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Useless Ethanol – But Iowa’s Primary “Rules”

Any thorough analysis of ethanol you can read arrives at the same conclusion; it is not good for cars, not good for the atmosphere, and not good for the price/availability of food. Yet I am pessimistic that any helpful change will be made by our government.  The farm lobbies are very strong and the Iowa primary will support the government subsidies. All candidates that hope to do well in the Iowa primary must go public with an “Ethanol is next to Godliness” pronouncement.

There is a glimmer of hope though in that the German people are seeing the light now and that Europe may follow. Perhaps our leaders will become more aware of ethanol’s impact.

Below is a post by Peter Gossilin, a German scientist and blogger I read most every day, about the subject that I found interesting. He does not cover the problems of shipping ethanol. Continue reading

может быть (Maybe)

The magic “maybe” bag – the more central government control, the more maybe bags will exist.

In September, 1979, I was in a fusion energy meeting at the Kurchatov Institute in Moscow and, during a coffee break, I began to talk with one of the Russians about some research. He opened his brief case to get a paper for me that he had written and this net-type bag fell out. He explained what it was for and how often the central planning group in the Soviet Government would screw up in having the right amount of an item produced for a particular area or city. In particular, he said he was looking for a pair of his size of dress shoes and, since they didn’t provide a box or bag at the store, he needed something to carry them if he were lucky enough to find his size. He called it his “maybe” bag, as in maybe I’ll find what I want/need.   Continue reading

Electric Cars: Comments, No. 1

From time to time I will continue to post some comments on various energy subjects. Here are the first ones on electric cars that I think help put the enthusiasm of advocates and promoters in perspective. The common mistake by most electric car supporters is that they either do not appreciate that the bigger picture must be considered, or they choose to ignore it to advance their case. These come from the London Telegraph and the Washington Post. Before you read them consider the following: A lithium-ion battery, at its best, packs 110 watt-hours of energy per pound. Gasoline has 6,000 watt-hours per pound. Now, a gasoline motor is inefficient, discarding 85% of the fuel’s energy–losing it to the transmission, wasting it on idling and discharging it as heat. Electric motors waste just 10%, but it still leaves gas with a 9-to-1 weight advantage. (And the cost of the battery today is likely more than the cost of the gasoline saved by going electric!) Here’s the reference: http://www.forbes.com/forbes/2010/0628/energy-autos-electric-cars-ibm-nissan-running-on-air.html

London to Edinburgh by electric car: it was quicker by stagecoach.

The BBC’s stunt of taking an electric Mini to Edinburgh reveals just how impractical rechargeable cars are, writes Christopher Booker of the London Telegraph.

van Gogh Sketch

Stagecoach, depicted by Van Gogh in one of his letters, Photo: Paul Grover

In its obsessive desire to promote the virtues of electric cars, the BBC proudly showed us last week how its reporter Brian Milligan was able to drive an electric Mini from London to Edinburgh in a mere four days – with nine stops of up to 10 hours to recharge the batteries (with electricity from fossil fuels).

What the BBC omitted to tell us was that in the 1830s, a stagecoach was able to make the same journey in half the time, with two days and nights of continuous driving. This did require 50 stops to change horses, but each of these took only two minutes, giving a total stopping time of just over an hour and a half.

Considering that horse power was carbon-free, emitting only organic fertilizer along the way, isn’t it time the eco-conscious BBC became more technologically savvy? Continue reading