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Posted: Thu Jan 08, 2009 11:14 pm
by Homebelly
mkelly wrote:
Homebelly wrote:
mkelly wrote:
My personal contribution is to fly less. Eat less. Turn off more devices. Look for more energy efficient ones. We're still all fucked though :-D
I don't want to sound like i'm raining on your parade, and i agree, this is a great philosophy. But not for the reasons you are implying.
You disagree with my crackpot theory about limits to just how much energy we can tap from the sun? I haven't done the math - I wouldn't know where to start, but I'm open to debating it.

Otherwise I don't understand your response.
In your first post you seem to be implying that in order for us to utilize the suns energy then we need some way of using a medium to store it.
mkelly wrote:Well, I'm no scientist. But the way I see it is this - the Earth's power source is the sun. By and large we get pretty much the same amount of energy from it year in year out. These secondary bio-fuels may not use the same land or water as the food stuffs we consume, but both crops have the same energy source. If we increase the amount of solar energy we are using to grow these secondary bio-fuels, there is less energy available somewhere else in the ecosystem. Something else will suffer - what I don't know.

You can't get away from the fact that at the minute our energy is mainly stored energy (from the sun) that accumulated over millions of years. I can't see how there's enough solar energy to totally replace the stored energy we're currently consuming.

The only solution is to to consume less.
You then go on to imply that plants are this medium and so if we double our need for these methods of storage from not only eating them, but to processing them in some way to put into our machines, then we are going to exceed the suns ability to replenish this source of energy. All of this is kinda-sorta true, but it only represents a very small aspect of how the earth stores and uses the energy from the sun. In fact, most of the radiation from the sun is reflected back off into space. But again, this is a whole other topic, and one i am a long long way from being qualified to speculate on :wink: [/quote]

Posted: Fri Jan 09, 2009 2:10 am
by djod
In a recent documentary from "tegenlicht" called "here comes the sun" on dutch television they calculated that a field full of current technology solar panels with a size of 500 km2 would be enough to provide the entire world with it current energy needs.
This is with current technology! 500 is huge, but there is way more desert then that. Now consider that there are technology's in the pipeline that are 100 to 500 more efficient and could in the end be cheaper then what we have now.

Its not a question of if we can do it, but how fast it will happen.

In the same docu. they state that every 1/2 hour enough energy from the sun hits the earth to provide the current need of the world.

If you are concerned about this stuff keep voicing it.

On the subject of Bio fuel I'm undecided, plant consume CO2 to grow and release it when you burn it, but it also costs energy to fabricate, process and burn.

The benefits of solar is that after 2 or 3 years the latest solar panels are paid back for energy wise. So after 2 to 3 years they produce more energy then it cost to make them. Now if we all buy solar the price will go down. Look at how cheap modern day computers with extraordinary power are. It is being said that solar can evolve as much as the IC chip did. The LCD manufacturing industry is now jumping on the solar band wagon and other computer industry company's are getting involved Toshiba is one to mention.

If the masses say give us solar. we will get it.

"Here comes the Sun"

djod! :D

Posted: Fri Jan 09, 2009 2:36 am
by Homebelly
djod wrote:In a recent documentary from "tegenlicht" called "here comes the sun" on dutch television they calculated that a field full of current technology solar panels with a size of 500 km2 would be enough to provide the entire world with it current energy needs.
This is with current technology! 500 is huge, but there is way more desert then that. Now consider that there are technology's in the pipeline that are 100 to 500 more efficient and could in the end be cheaper then what we have now.

Its not a question of if we can do it, but how fast it will happen.

In the same docu. they state that every 1/2 hour enough energy from the sun hits the earth to provide the current need of the world.

If you are concerned about this stuff keep voicing it.

On the subject of Bio fuel I'm undecided, plant consume CO2 to grow and release it when you burn it, but it also costs energy to fabricate, process and burn.

The benefits of solar is that after 2 or 3 years the latest solar panels are paid back for energy wise. So after 2 to 3 years they produce more energy then it cost to make them. Now if we all buy solar the price will go down. Look at how cheap modern day computers with extraordinary power are. It is being said that solar can evolve as much as the IC chip did. The LCD manufacturing industry is now jumping on the solar band wagon and other computer industry company's are getting involved Toshiba is one to mention.

If the masses say give us solar. we will get it.

"Here comes the Sun"

djod! :D
Solar is one of my favorite alternatives.
You wouldn't even need to go off and use large expanses of real estate, you could use the roofs of already existing buildings.
Another is hydro or volcanic, but these methods would be very regional specific. Another alternative is nuclear.
All of these options have the potential to be very efficient methods.

As far as i am aware though, none of these methods would solve the problem of conventional air travel.

Posted: Fri Jan 09, 2009 2:55 am
by djod
Nuclear Not for me, not even the new forms of so called efficient ways. Nuclear is a no go. To many implications.


A very promising technology besides solar is Geothermal. The earth inner crust is hot the deeper you the hoter it gets, pump water that deep and loop it back as steam, cool it down in a energy converter and loop it back down. Nice huh.

There is an "unlimited" potential there!

I'm with you on putting solar panels on our roofs we have enough space there.
The 500km2 is for comparison. I'm sure we have more roofing then that on our entire planet.

We live in an energy abundance, it is literally all around us. We need to improve on our way of harvesting it. Solar can do this in an decentralized fashion. This means freedom. So again Solar wins again.

Maybe with nanotech battery's electronic planes will become reality.

djod :D

Posted: Fri Jan 09, 2009 2:57 am
by Marx
biofuel is for fags

Posted: Fri Jan 09, 2009 4:24 am
by Mesmer
mkelly wrote:
Mesmer wrote:This is a common misconception.

The fact is it does not compete for the same patches of agricultural / farm / food land.
Well, I'm no scientist. But the way I see it is this - the Earth's power source is the sun.
By and large we get pretty much the same amount of energy from it year in year out. These secondary bio-fuels may not use the same land or water as the food stuffs we consume, but both crops have the same energy source. If we increase the amount of solar energy we are using to grow these secondary bio-fuels, there is less energy available somewhere else in the ecosystem. Something else will suffer - what I don't know.
Glitchy reasoning mk!
what are you talking about, treating the received heat and sunlight as a finite battery or something. No no no. In a thousand million years we'll worry about the "limits" of the battery (if we are around) ... until then this is an infinite source of energy for all practical purposes. Even if the rate at which we receive it is NOT infinite, there is no reason to think that using more-per-second has some kind of detrimental effect on some other part of the system.

this less energy available elsewhere idea doesn't hold, because we are NOT using that other energy.
mkelly wrote: You can't get away from the fact that at the minute our energy is mainly stored energy (from the sun) that accumulated over millions of years. I can't see how there's enough solar energy to totally replace the stored energy we're currently consuming.
Tell me you're joking.
Even if we in fact limit the energy source for food production as heat/sunlight only (big IF -what about chemical-bonds ie. fuels, wind for sails, waves....) you're basically saying 383 yottawatts/s times 1 thousand million years is not enough and will run out because of our 12.9 exawatts/s times the time we'll be around, production usage ??
mkelly wrote: The only solution is to to consume less.
No man. There can be many solutions. Consuming less is a stitch, not the cure. The solutions will flow from brilliant and normal people seeking information: being informed (different from guessing, getting on with the flow).

no personal beef chief, ok?
just contributing in my own way too.

Posted: Fri Jan 09, 2009 4:50 am
by Mesmer
Homebelly wrote: The last time i looked into this it became my opinion that there was a lot of spin put on the pro arguments that ignored the down sides of the impact that this type of farming would have on the ecosystems of these regions.
It might well be true that the vegetable crops used for bio fuel are not food cops, and also that these crops are able to grow on land that is not suited to growing food crops. It is also true that these changes will open up the doors to economies benefiting from this kind of industry.
Ok, so we can put your idea of "will be competing with the same ground and farming systems that produce our food" to rest.
Homebelly wrote: However, it doesn't address the fact that most of these Crops are GE based and that these GE crops are patented and their use is controlled by very aggressive corporations.
It doesn't have to be like that; i'd like to think that if we are at the brink of destruction, we would be able to skip a bunch of technicalities to save our behinds. Call me naive, hippie ... I don't care ... I sleep better like that.
Homebelly wrote: These Bio-fuel crops are also altered to be able to adapt to poor quality soil types, that's great for 10 or 20 generations of crops, but then the soil becomes depleted of the required nutrients and so these need to be replaced,
Soil depletion happens on most agricultural land (food or else); wise administration is supposed to yield good results. That's some other problem we should deal with ... I think Mayans and co. had a good clue as to how to solve that ... I don't know enough about this.
Homebelly wrote: usually with GE based fertilizers.
I despise them. I'm with you, this should not be part of ANY solution. It's a step back, in my ignorant opinion.

Homebelly wrote: These farming systems also need to be Huge in order to be officiant.
True of many complex machine/systems.
Homebelly wrote: Even then they are not as efficient as what they are augmenting, but that's a whole different topic. The more relevant aspect here is that these farming systems are often corporate owned and controlled, so the hosting country gains very few benefits from having them present, in fact they inherit a lot of social problems attached to the displacement of many of the farming communities that these massive farms replace.
Hey man, your beef is with your capitalist overlord neo-con shitty world order; the bio diesel alternative is a good alternative in itself, at present conditions.
Homebelly wrote: There are plenty of examples of how this new model system is not working, two examples being India and Brazil, others can be found on a smaller scale in Africa, Mexico and even, to a much lesser extent, Australia.
I don't know about these ... can you provide some link or more info. What happened? link? I would think if Venezuela for example, were to implement it, I would think it would add up to a solution, not a deeper problem ... what do you think?
Homebelly wrote: The airlines motivation for this change is not based on any altruistic concern for the environment. It is based on economics. And here is the next problem because the economics of a bio-fuel based alternative is masked by the fact that it is supported by already established fossil fuel technology and industry.
business is the bottomline, bottomline is business. That makes sense. Also, I find it helpful for myself and others to make a major mind-shift through discrete easy to swallow steps: ie, if it takes biodiesel to take people off the oils, and into solar, so be it. Since this is a major sector, relating to transportation and infrastructure, I would think the cost of conversion would be easier to spill-over if it came in steps (local business man doesn't have to buy new pumps, car factories make minor modifications to fuel lines and tanks, trucking companies don't have to refit ...).
Homebelly wrote: All of this adds to my opinion that this is not a step in the right direction, in fact i would say it is only a step to the side,
I kind of agree with you here: the important thing to me is, a sidestep can be a step in the right direction if you are currently moving beyond your control towards a bloody face-bashing wall crash. no?

Posted: Fri Jan 09, 2009 4:56 am
by Mesmer
djod wrote:In a recent documentary from "tegenlicht" called "here comes the sun" on dutch television they calculated that a field full of current technology solar panels with a size of 500 km2 would be enough to provide the entire world with it current energy needs.
that's cool and all, since it gives one a ballpark idea of the quantities ...

BUT

do you know if the experts in this documentary took into account the energy-losses associated with the transportation of said energy. You can see how the estimate can be grossly off the mark here, if in fact they didn't account for this, since we are talking of a world supply. That would need world-spanning energy transportation modes ... which necessarily imply energy losses .... lots of energy losses. I'd venture you would need twice as much as you wanted to consume.

btw, let's all go solar, as soon as we come into some money! I am all for that too!

Posted: Fri Jan 09, 2009 9:04 am
by mkelly
Homebelly wrote:In your first post you seem to be implying that in order for us to utilize the suns energy then we need some way of using a medium to store it.
It wasn't my intention to imply that.
Homebelly wrote:You then go on to imply that plants are this medium and so if we double our need for these methods of storage from not only eating them, but to processing them in some way to put into our machines, then we are going to exceed the suns ability to replenish this source of energy. All of this is kinda-sorta true, but it only represents a very small aspect of how the earth stores and uses the energy from the sun. In fact, most of the radiation from the sun is reflected back off into space. But again, this is a whole other topic, and one i am a long long way from being qualified to speculate on :wink:
Sorry, I mustn't have expressed myself very well. I'll try again...

I only did secondary school science (high school for those in the States), including chemistry and physics. Of the few things that I do still have locked in my brain from that time is the concept of a closed system. To me, the Earth is such a closed system. To my mind there is really a single finite source of energy acting as an input to this system, and that is the energy from the sun.

We do have other energy sources within the system, which are stored energy sources - fossil fuels, nuclear fuels and in my mind (small that it is) even geothermal power is a stored energy source - IIRC it's really energy from the formation of the planet and is not necessarily infinite. Energy cannot be created or destroyed, only changed from one form to another was the prinicple we used in physics lessons.

With any closed system, if you disturb one part of the system, it will likely have consequences on another part.

Say we go with solar panels on every roof. The suns energy (heat and light) on any square metre of earth's surface has a finite strength. If you suck up more of that energy than ever before it will have some effect on the system. If you're taking light, then maybe there's less light bouncing back. If you take the heat there's less ambient heat in the area.

It has to have some sort of effect. I want to know that these effects have been considered and that we can rule them out. Worst case scenario, we can't sustain all the world's energy needs on the finite solar energy supply we receive. With population increases, and energy demand per person increasing, it's not just our current energy needs we have to meet.

Best case, the effect is negligible or at least the sun extinguishes before the effect has enough time to kick in.

And I'm not just talking catastrophic stuff here - we could be talking about local environmental changes. Yeah - they stick up solar panels in the deserts - that will have an effect on the local wildlife. Even geothermal power - is there not a risk that extensive tapping into it will have an effect on local environments.

I understand that most of the suns radiation is reflected back off into space - that's energy that wasn't in the system before and it's not in the future - until they do the whole solar panels in space thing.

So my "consume less" statement is not "consume less fossil fuel based energy so it lasts longer" - it's consume less of all energy sources.

Sorry - I've totally rambled on again.

Posted: Fri Jan 09, 2009 9:24 am
by mkelly
Mesmer wrote:Glitchy reasoning mk!
what are you talking about, treating the received heat and sunlight as a finite battery or something. No no no. In a thousand million years we'll worry about the "limits" of the battery (if we are around) ... until then this is an infinite source of energy for all practical purposes. Even if the rate at which we receive it is NOT infinite, there is no reason to think that using more-per-second has some kind of detrimental effect on some other part of the system.

this less energy available elsewhere idea doesn't hold, because we are NOT using that other energy.
Are we talking about the same thing. Yes the sun is finite - it will eventually expire. The energy entering our planets atmosphere is also finite - we can't increase it (without changing our atmosphere).

All of the energy that comes in is used for something - or it bounces back out as losses. Just because we don't use it doesn't mean it's not being used by the global ecosystem - e.g. for maintaining atmospheric temperature.
Mesmer wrote:
mkelly wrote: You can't get away from the fact that at the minute our energy is mainly stored energy (from the sun) that accumulated over millions of years. I can't see how there's enough solar energy to totally replace the stored energy we're currently consuming.
Tell me you're joking.
Even if we in fact limit the energy source for food production as heat/sunlight only (big IF -what about chemical-bonds ie. fuels, wind for sails, waves....) you're basically saying 383 yottawatts/s times 1 thousand million years is not enough and will run out because of our 12.9 exawatts/s times the time we'll be around, production usage ??
Okay, I went a bit OTT there. My fear is that there's not enough energy for us to start capturing more from the ecosystem without having an environmental impact. I went into more detail about my thoughts in the post to Homebelly, but if we cut out all fossil fuel consumption now, and took the same amount of energy straight from the available solar energy, would the impact be negligible or would it have a measurable impact.
Mesmer wrote:
mkelly wrote: The only solution is to to consume less.
No man. There can be many solutions. Consuming less is a stitch, not the cure. The solutions will flow from brilliant and normal people seeking information: being informed (different from guessing, getting on with the flow).

no personal beef chief, ok?
just contributing in my own way too.
No personal beef man. Okay I went for the dramatic in my closing statement. I still think that energy efficiency - consuming less and consuming more sensibly - is something that needs to be drummed into people. Combined with renewable sources of energy we can last a lot longer on this rock.

Posted: Fri Jan 09, 2009 9:48 am
by snakedogman
djod wrote:In a recent documentary from "tegenlicht" called "here comes the sun" on dutch television they calculated that a field full of current technology solar panels with a size of 500 km2 would be enough to provide the entire world with it current energy needs.
This is with current technology! 500 is huge, but there is way more desert then that. Now consider that there are technology's in the pipeline that are 100 to 500 more efficient and could in the end be cheaper then what we have now.

Its not a question of if we can do it, but how fast it will happen.

In the same docu. they state that every 1/2 hour enough energy from the sun hits the earth to provide the current need of the world.

If you are concerned about this stuff keep voicing it.

On the subject of Bio fuel I'm undecided, plant consume CO2 to grow and release it when you burn it, but it also costs energy to fabricate, process and burn.

The benefits of solar is that after 2 or 3 years the latest solar panels are paid back for energy wise. So after 2 to 3 years they produce more energy then it cost to make them. Now if we all buy solar the price will go down. Look at how cheap modern day computers with extraordinary power are. It is being said that solar can evolve as much as the IC chip did. The LCD manufacturing industry is now jumping on the solar band wagon and other computer industry company's are getting involved Toshiba is one to mention.

If the masses say give us solar. we will get it.

"Here comes the Sun"

djod! :D
yes I saw this as well. Kinda nice to see a hopeful/positive take on the alternative energy story.
I really do believe that we can solve our energy needs by harnessing solar, wind and hydro power. The problem is that as long as there's cheap oil to burn, we're gonna be burning it and not investing enough into alternative energy sources.
Still, solar panels are becoming more and more common and even without solar panels there are great ways to use the sun's energy, like the incredible solar power station in Sevilla, Spain.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/6616651.stm

Imagine a bunch of plants like that in the deserts of Africa and how much power they could generate. All completely clean solar energy. Then the next problem is tranportation/storage of course. Which is where hydrogen comes in :)

Over here in Holland there's already plans for building huge windmill parks in the north sea (not much use building solar plants here ;)) that could generate enough power for hundreds of thousands of homes.

Posted: Fri Jan 09, 2009 9:54 am
by snakedogman
Mesmer wrote:
djod wrote:In a recent documentary from "tegenlicht" called "here comes the sun" on dutch television they calculated that a field full of current technology solar panels with a size of 500 km2 would be enough to provide the entire world with it current energy needs.
that's cool and all, since it gives one a ballpark idea of the quantities ...

BUT

do you know if the experts in this documentary took into account the energy-losses associated with the transportation of said energy. You can see how the estimate can be grossly off the mark here, if in fact they didn't account for this, since we are talking of a world supply. That would need world-spanning energy transportation modes ... which necessarily imply energy losses .... lots of energy losses. I'd venture you would need twice as much as you wanted to consume.

btw, let's all go solar, as soon as we come into some money! I am all for that too!
as you say, this is just ballpark figures. The transportation costs depends on the method of transportation and the distance, so until we've decided where we're gonna put these panels you can't really calculate anything. In any case, shipping barrels of oil around the worls costs energy too. The good thing about solar and wind is that it's much easier to tap into locally. Everyone could put a little windmill and some solar panels on his own house and your transportation losses would be minimal.

Posted: Fri Jan 09, 2009 10:37 am
by djod
@ mesmer

I already posted that the 500km2 is a what is needed and this would ideally be spear over the world, so transportation is no problem. Even still if you would lose 50% then you would "only" need 750km2, the desert is still much bigger. Another thing I discovered is that a solar panel in the Spain produces 1,5 more energy per day then one in the "cloudy" Netherlands. That's not that much more I thought that would be 5 time less or something.

@snakedogman

The solar collection centres are cool, but then you centralize power. Thats indirect slavery. We stand for the possibility to build a decentralized power grid too me that very big issue the Irak war is about power -> oil -> energy need

Storage is a different story, hydrogen one option, improved battery technology is also a way. 8 million electric cars can store a hole lot of energy.

I'm really glad to see that these things are taking off, but we are making this transition ones so lets try to do it the right way. The oil price will in the near future be a non issue, solar technology will become even cheaper then current oil prices.
Low oil price are just postponing the switch.

djod

Posted: Fri Jan 09, 2009 1:48 pm
by chrysalis33rpm
That's great news. I have yet to see anything credible "green" option for air transport; this looks like a serious first step.

On biofuels: The debate has already been correctly framed above, the key point which is missing is that if biofeuls can be made at large scale from agricultural/forestry waste products, then they will certainly be a strong part of the solution. What if we could make jet fuel out of lumber debris? Out of wheat stalks? Sugarcane bagasse?

On GMOs: Ignoring the potential of this technology is nonproductive, and will only result in the multinationals controlling and exploiting it on their terms. We have an additional 4 billion people to feed, clothe, and house over the next 40 years- we need all options on the table. The key is separating the regulators from the industry- that is to say, having proper testing periods, environments, skepticism, and caution. Difficult, with human beings being what they are, but not impossible.

On power production and transportation: We need a multiplicity of sources and then the best option can be selected for each local environment. Obvous concerns about land and water use in the desert regions of the planet for large scale solar production there. The thing is our civilization is pretty good at solving one problem at a time- thereby creating several others; we need to solve 6 or 8 problems simultaneously right now. Power generation could be large scale (esp. for urban environments) or diffused, there is a place for both.

Anyway, big challenges up ahead, but human beings are surprisingly creative problem solvers once the frame and incentives are correctly in place.