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The Energy Elephant in the Room

Posted September 17, 2008 8:03 AM

Group denial of major flaws in three U.S. Department of Energy programs is wasting over half of the agency's $4 billion science budget, opines Thomas Blakeslee in Renewable Energy World. The Hydrogen Initiative — the cars are developed but not the infrastructure to fuel them. The Nuclear Renaissance —heavily subsidized as memories of Three Mile Island and Chernobyl fade. Clean Coal — no such thing. Blakeslee charges that national energy policy is skewed toward coal and nuclear interests at a time when resources should emphasize geothermal development. Do you think hydrogen, nuclear, and coal programs have merit?

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#1

Re: The Energy Elephant in the Room

09/17/2008 11:08 PM

Hydrogen can be used in virtually any internal combustion engine - just like gasoline, diesel or natural gas. The real problems with using hydrogen as are fuel are A.) it has a relatively-low energy density unless stored as a liquid, B.) it is difficult to store and/or transport and C.) producing it is very energy-intensive. Let's address each.

A. Low energy density means that, barring use of LH2, it takes a very large storage volume to provide a reasonable range. Even at high pressure, the necessary volume is large, and high-pressure vessels tend to be heavy.

B. Transporting and storing hydrogen is difficult. This gas is capable of escaping storage and/or transport hardware (pipes and tanks) by passing through the interstitial spaces in the material itself. In short, expect to lose 10% in "through the wall" leakage.

C. Most hydrogen gas today is produced by cracking hydrocarbons - usually natural gas. Yes, it can be electrolyzed from water, but this is very energy-intensive. The electricity must be generated by other means - nuclear, gas, coal, wind, hydro-electric, solar or something. Since you lose 10% of any hydrogen you generate in transport and storage, you've effectively increased your overall energy consumption by that 10% plus any losses due to the production, transmission of and application of the energy used to crack or electrolyze the water from the chosen feedstock (natural gas or water). Why not just burn natural gas in the internal combustion engine and skip the interim losses?

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#53
In reply to #1

Re: The Energy Elephant in the Room

10/15/2008 4:31 PM

Dont forget that hydrogen is a super small molecule and a large portion of most internal combustion engines efficiency derives from compression in the combustion chamber and thus a reasonably good seal around the moving parts.

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#2

Re: The Energy Elephant in the Room

09/18/2008 2:29 AM

The big problem with hydrogen is that it's only an energy carrier, not a source.

So every Joule of energy you want to derive from it in a sustainable way (not based on fossil sources), you need to put it in yourself by means of solar, wind, biomass or geothermal sources.

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#4
In reply to #2

Re: The Energy Elephant in the Room

09/18/2008 9:11 AM

You are correct. Hydrogen can only be an energy source if you find a large reservoir of free hydrogen. Like say, the sun.

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#3

Re: The Energy Elephant in the Room

09/18/2008 6:48 AM

The problem is that we have politicians running the modern world, yet only science and math people understand it very well. That is why we keep rehashing old, dirty approaches involving nuclear fission and fossil fuels.

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#5
In reply to #3

Re: The Energy Elephant in the Room

09/18/2008 9:13 AM

Yessir, the inmates ARE running this asylum.

I don't think we can afford to disregard ANY source of energy, from tidal to geothermal, to fusion, including solar (the original fusion energy), biomass (also from solar indirectly), and wind power (caused by unequal solar heating of the atmosphere). Hydrogen as fuel sounds better than it likely will prove out. Believe it or not, like it or not, coal, natural gas, and oil are in finite (two words, not one) supply.

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#6
In reply to #5

Re: The Energy Elephant in the Room

09/18/2008 9:45 AM

Two guys sitting on an elephant

"Hey, lookit the two assholes on the elephant"

So they get off to see for themselves

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#8
In reply to #6

Re: The Energy Elephant in the Room

09/18/2008 11:14 AM

You callin' me an elephant, son?

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#7
In reply to #5

Re: The Energy Elephant in the Room

09/18/2008 10:16 AM

Ultimately, any fossil fuel can only be a bridge to converting to some form of solar power (including wind) or geothermal power. All fossil fuels are finite, though gas and coal will outlast anyone alive today and likely anyone born in the lifetimes of anyone alive today. The point is that we have the technology today to utilize gas, coal and nuclear to produce clean energy until we can produce enough equipment to capture and utilize wind and solar in sufficient quantities and drill (yes, there's that dirty word) to produce geothermal. At that point, we still have to address the issue of long-range transportation. Hydrocarbons still offer the best energy density for this purpose. The questions are "What form will those hydrocarbon fuels take?" and "How will we best convert them to motive power?"

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#9
In reply to #7

Re: The Energy Elephant in the Room

09/18/2008 11:16 AM

Indeed. Thus pointing out the complexity of the problem. Therefore, nobody should expect a solution any less complex, eh?

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#10

Re: The Energy Elephant in the Room

09/18/2008 3:43 PM

This administration has religiously attached itself to energy goals which are can be commodified: hydrogen, bio-fuel, coal, uranium; regardless of there feasibility. Corporate and Political actors do have scientists behind them, but these scientists and engineers are obviously being asked: "What can we replace fossil fuels with and still sell?".......

Even economically competitive renewables will encounter sustained resistance from these existing forces.

Free-Market- 0; "The Prince"- 1; [of course that's a slight simplification]

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#11

Re: The Energy Elephant in the Room

09/18/2008 5:52 PM

Osborne brought up several good points on hydrogen. Pay attention to the man. In addition we have to be concerned about safety. A leak allowing a 4% concentration in air will explode without an ignition source, lighting off your storage tank and devestating however much area. Imagine that happening in your garage or after a minor accident. Now you and everyone else within a city block is dead. Even generating hydrogen inside the car as it is needed would still get right back around the circle to the points already brought up by Osborne. The hydrogen car is a patently silly concept as far as use by the general public. We are, however, learning some things that are advancing energy research in general. Bang for the buck - very small to ninexistent unless you are in the military or NASA.

However, on the other technologies it seems that there are a lot of uninformed and misinformed readers and those in the know have not weighed in.

1.Renewable sources such as wind and solar need more research dollars, but the bottom line is that right now they are expensive compared to hydroelectric, fossil fuels and nuclear. They are also noncontinuous. Wave or tide power is making strides but just isn't there yet. Water turbines are a good step, but are still expensive and far less efficient than hydroelectric. All good places to invest some research funds, but if you are looking for bang for the buck - it will not happen here. You are a bad investor. Solar is making strides and it definitely has its niche. Bang for the research buck - still sadly disappointing but slightly better than the other renewables.

2. "Clean coal - no such thing" Pull your head out of the sand and stop worrying about the sky falling. Burning coal today is far cleaner than it was back in the 70's and before when soot would pile up on your roof. They are making significant progress in several different ways of burning coal more cleanly. The black billowing smoke stacks are a thing of the past except where the owners have not had the cash to upgrade. Coal is cheap. Coal is also plentiful - we also don't have to go somethere else to get it. Coal use is everywhere - the infrastructure is huge. The exhaust from a modern coal burning facility is virtually invisible. We need to invest the money to continue to improve these methods and get the technology further into the public sector. Bang for the research buck - huge.

3. Nuclear is by far the cheapest power source. It is also cleaner than almost any other method of energy production despite the hype about nuclear waste. The waste from a large plant over the course of a year is smaller than a typical workers desk at your typical place of work. Even a small wind power faciltiy requires many many times that much dump space in a years operation. Additionally, the waste product today leaves as glass pellets - no leaching of isotopes etc. The only danger of radiation is if you are within intimate distance to an open container - won't happen. Another reader gave an excellent synopsis of nuclear power, where it stands and its benefits in another CR4 forum. Bottomline is that the liberal press has maligned this technology to the point of absurdity and so few people are willing to invest the time to learn enough about it to have even a semblance of a clue. Appears to be the same here. If it is such a bad idea, why did the Soviet Union pay billions to produce anti-nuclear propagada and sponsor anti-nuclear protests in the Unites States in order to shut down nuclear power in the United States while they continued expanding their own nuclear power facilities? Why has Europe invested significantly in nuclear power over the past two decades? Why does every other nuclear capable country in the world derive two to four times the power (percentage-wise) from nuclear compared to the United States? The radiation released in the Four-Mile Island incident was less than the background radiation in Utah and Colorado due to living in the mountains. Nuclear plants are immensely safer today and if they have a similar problem, they actually passively shut themselves down long before a leak or breach could occur. The Chernoble plant design was an inherently unsafe design. Nobody else in the world would have ever built them that way. Not even the Russians use that design any more. The remaining nuclear plants in the United States have operated for several decades since 4-Mile Island without a single incident. The Navy has run submarines and aircraft carriers that are nuclear powered for decades without incident. Where is the proof that nuclear is a bad way to go? Isn't ANY - not any REAL proof. Bang for the buck in research and investment dollars - absolutely freaking enormous!

In order to make things work and keep several countries from going bankrupt, we need the fossil fuels and coal and we definitely need nuclear power. However, wise investment in the renewable energies is also needed to get them eventually to the place where they are as reliable, cheap and constant as the ones we need to rely on now. When and if that point is reached, switching over can happen.

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#12

Re: The Energy Elephant in the Room

09/19/2008 2:06 AM

Hydrogen is a way to store energy made by another source. It has severe storage problems which make it impractical to store and distribute. Not very practical for autos as a 10,000 psi tank of H five times the size of a gas tank is required to get the same range. H is made with electricity, but not very efficiently and then where do you get the electricity.

Nuclear waste is a problem, so in the long run that is ruled out, but not for the short term.

Coal will last centuries before that too runs out.

Geothermal will probably last longer than there are people on Earth, but there are expenses in transmission of the electric power.

No alternatives we have will work in the short-term. We need cheap, small, high energy batteries to store electric power and make it usable in vehicles and to make solar and wind power viable. Synthetic gas from coal can buy us time, as well as drilling for our own oil, to develop these batteries or other electrical storage devices. That is where the research money should go.

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#14
In reply to #12

Re: The Energy Elephant in the Room

09/19/2008 3:12 PM

If you need a tank of fuel five times the size of the gasoline tank to get the same range, then why not change the prime mover that powers the vehicle?

I suggest a Tesla style turbine engine. Not the Tesla Roadster, powered by batteries, although it's time will come, but the Tesla Turbine engine has shown great efficiency (above 80%), high power to weight ratio (5 to 1 or better), will burn any fuel put in it, and is nearly indestructible.

I am in the process of designing a multi-stage version myself.

Regards, Dragon

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#16
In reply to #14

Re: The Energy Elephant in the Room

09/20/2008 11:17 PM

The Tesla turbine is probably an excellent choice for an engine. The problem in using it as an internal combustion engine is that the heat can warp the discs. My idea is to use it as a steam engine, since it will give high rpm and power with lower temperature wet steam. The same advantage is found in the Lysholm expander and perhaps in the Green Steam Engine. External combustion is cleaner and allows more choice in fuels too. Basically build a plug-in EV with a 50 mile range then install a steam engine to run a generator to keep the batteries charged.

This configuration would likely be smaller than a standard IC engine, give an overall driving fuel savings of about 80% and be cheaper than building an EV with a 400 mile range. A Tesla turbine used as an IC engine also spins too fast and requires a heavy transmission to reduce the speed to the drive. An electric motor has plenty of torque and its speed can be easily controlled so transmissions aren't needed..

Hydrogen is expensive, an inefficient way to store energy, is difficult to store and still needs big high pressure tanks even if your engine is more efficient. Check out embrittlement of H storage tanks. Driving along some time after building your car and hit a bump and the tank is so brittle it breaks. BOOM!

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#17
In reply to #16

Re: The Energy Elephant in the Room

09/21/2008 10:00 PM

Taganan, A design that I am working on burns the fuel in a separate (but attached) combustion chamber lined with a heat resistant ceramic. The thermal expansion is more than sufficient to drive the rotors.

I have designed a transmission that will easily handle the load of the turbine. It has three moving parts and the two halves can be placed in separate locations of the vehicle. It is essentially hydrostatic but with several major improvements that allow less than 5% slip at speed.

The engine footprint would be approximately 2/3 that of a small four cylinder in-line reciprocating engine.

Regards Dragon

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#18
In reply to #17

Re: The Energy Elephant in the Room

09/21/2008 10:47 PM

Dragonsfarm,

That sounds ingenious.

Will you be using accumulators to store the excess and for regenerative braking?

Although there some negatives inherent to hydraulic systems the big advantage should come from a storage medium that does not wear out as fast and with todays advanced sealing technology should have fewer leaks as compared to earlier systems.

It sounds (from my limited knowledge) like you're talking about a Stirling Cycle combustion chamber. Are you planning a multi-fuel strategy? How about a combination of solids and liquids?

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#19
In reply to #18

Re: The Energy Elephant in the Room

09/21/2008 11:07 PM

Shadetree, The engine itself will operate at between 5000 and 8000 rpm (we have not quite worked out the full details on the most efficient speed), it will power a high frequency alternator at one end of the shaft, at the other will be the transmission. The alternator will power three 40 hp electric motors of an unusual design. When extra power is needed the transmission will engage, (yes, at full engine speed) supplying full torque.

The system is not actually a Sterling Cycle system. We attempted that and had problems with fuel flow rate due to harmonic resonance of the ignition flame fronts. (i.e. it blew the combustion chamber half way across the lab.)

This engine will burn anything you can ignite and throw into it. It will not only be multi fuel, it will be multistaged. Very conservative computer model estimates of the multistage design put it's output in the 500 bhp range.

Regards Dragon

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#26
In reply to #17

Re: The Energy Elephant in the Room

09/22/2008 8:47 PM

Are you using it to generate electricity or as direct power to the wheels? You mention electric motors in rather large hp. Is this a hybrid? Would love to see photos. Have thought the TT was a great design since the first time I saw it.

Read one article online about someone building one to power a ship.

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#27
In reply to #26

Re: The Energy Elephant in the Room

09/22/2008 10:39 PM

Taganan, Both, actually. The electric motors are powered by the alternator, but when extra power is needed, (climbing steep hills, pulling heavy loads or just a burst of power) the transmission engages and directly drives the wheels, so technically it is a hybrid, but not in the usual sense.

Unfortunately, I have not gone much beyond the designing phase, so no photographs of the completed vehicle.

Regards, Dragon

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#21
In reply to #16

Re: The Energy Elephant in the Room

09/22/2008 4:31 AM

Just to let you know that comments like yours ignite imagination and hope. I'm not a scientist myself, but that doesn't keep me from appreciating its possibilities. Think of how many non-artists appreciate the arts. Thanks for your contributing thoughts. I hope we'll see them realized someday.

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#22
In reply to #16

does Hydrogen really go BOOM?

09/22/2008 7:45 AM

hello everyone,

99% of this is pretty good. i do have to question one thing though. or at least ask i want to askeveryone for an objective answer. that is about hydrogen bottles going BOOM.

when i was in high school, they showed us a film explaining how much safer hydrogen was than gasoline. they showed the effects of shooting both with incinderary rounds. they shot a 55 gal drum of gasoline with an incinderary round and yes it went BOOM.

the shot a large bottle of hydrogen and surprise, no BOOM. where the round went thru one side of the bottle, there was a flame. it was hydrogen escaping thru the hole, mixing with oxygen and burning. it was a small flame. they implied that it would just burn until the tank was empty.

so, has any of you actually seen a hydrogen bottle go BOOM. or is this just a myth? doesn't the hydrogen, just burn. even the Hindenburg, just burned. there were actually quite a few survivors of the hindenburg.

so, yes, if you carried the hydrogen around in a very large cloth bag, yes, it could burn very quickly. but BOOM? what is the real answer?

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#23
In reply to #22

Re: does Hydrogen really go BOOM?

09/22/2008 10:30 AM

Haven't tried it, and never saw that film, but I suspect it would indeed just burn, not explode. But it would burn very well!

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#24
In reply to #23

Re: does Hydrogen really go BOOM?

09/22/2008 3:19 PM

In the case of the Hindenburg, most of the visible flame was due to the doped fabric used for the outer shell. Unfortunately, the doping agent was also very flammable and was according to several reports the major contributor to the accident.

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#25
In reply to #22

Re: does Hydrogen really go BOOM?

09/22/2008 8:35 PM

Perhaps I should have said that when the hydrogen embrittled tank breaks, "WHOOSH" A big fireball.

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#29
In reply to #16

Re: The Energy Elephant in the Room

09/23/2008 12:38 PM

whats the tesla turbine?

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#41
In reply to #29

Re: The Energy Elephant in the Room

09/23/2008 11:28 PM

Guest, Nikola Tesla designed, developed and patented a turbine engine that is more efficient and powerful for it's size than any other prime mover ever built. What is more is that he did it nearly a century ago.

Research the Tesla Engine Builders Association on the web.

Regards Dragon

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#13

Re: The Energy Elephant in the Room

09/19/2008 1:59 PM

Do you think hydrogen, nuclear, and coal programs have merit?

hydrogen: just a diversion. not practical. instead of cracking natural gas, just use the natural gas. the delivery system already exists for most of america. in home fueling stations alread exist. electricly produced, just use the electricity for energy instead.

nuclear: a dead horse. will stink for eons. americans are too smart to let anyone foist this on them again.

coal: maybe. but only if technology can make it absolutly clean and non polluting. fly ash is a great example. fly ash is naturaly cementatious and makes a great buffer to lower the cost of cement . research should be massivly increased in the utilization of all the waste byproducts of using coal. when it gets to zero disposable waste, then we will be there. that must be including smoke stack emmissions, solids disposal, water contamination. when all of these are finaly successful, then coal will be gold. until then, it is one of the dirtiest and most polluting things known to man.

methane: from human and animal and agricultural waste, a no brainer. end product is natural gas and a clean agricultural nutrient, mostly nitrogen. the HS and CO2 need to be removed, but are marketable commodities.

alternatives: yes, even though the infrastructure price is high. clean, pollution free energy is priceless.

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#15
In reply to #13

Re: The Energy Elephant in the Room

09/19/2008 4:36 PM

Here's where I concur:

Hydrogen - a bright, shiny object meant to distract the masses from the problem at hand, too many hurdles, even when used in the only really safe manner, fuel cells.

Natural gas - reliable infrastructure, relatively clean, dependable so long as supplies last (it IS a "fossil fuel"), but the proven reserves are enormous.

Electricity - a byproduct, really, of several other energy sources - we do not harness lightning, it is smokestack lightning we use, but it IS effective for now, with some exceptions. Just always depends on some other form of energy to create it.

Nuclear (fission) - not as unsafe as many would have you believe, but with too much unsavory baggage to be practical for a few more generations, I fear.

Nuclear (fusion) - probably a good solution if it ever actually becomes a solution - on the other hand, so far we have only the sun as an example.

Coal - relatively huge reserves, but extremely messy stuff - fly ash IS used in concrete mixes, but much more is produced than can be used this way, and bottom ash ain't good for nothin'! Flue gases can be used to a certain extent (SOx in gypsum production, NOx fixed with urea) and all that ash is subject to hazardous metals content that is batch-specific (arsenic, mercury, lead, etc.).

Methane - given the creation of affordable infrastructure, is a renewable source of essentially the same thing as natural gas (see above), but the infrastructure is still a-wanting.

Alternatives - solar, wind, tidal, other hydro, geothermal, etc., etc., etc. all have some drawbacks ranging from lack of development, to lack of infrastructure, to difficulties in ensuring stability. Damming rivers can only go so far (maybe not as far as it has, in fact), and mostly the others are in various stages of infancy.

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#20
In reply to #15

Re: The Energy Elephant in the Room

09/21/2008 11:52 PM

I agree. Natural gas is limited, but certainly a viable bridge to the end solution for transportation. If that solution is methane, then the natural gas infrastructure will provide the bulk of what is needed to utilize methane. And the technology is here today.

For electric power generation, it makes sense to use nuclear, wind, solar and anything else that is thought or dreamed up.

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#44
In reply to #15

Re: The Energy Elephant in the Room

09/24/2008 11:22 PM

Enviroman-

Agree on hydrogen power & natural gas. Electricity has to be made so it is not an energy source and the big problem with it is transportable storage. Hydropower is good, cheap, renewable and clean, but some environmentalists oppose dams which change the environment. [Not destroy, change. Aren't most of them chanting "Change!" anyway?]

Nuclear is not a long term solution due to the waste storage problem. Fusion is far in the future, but it too has some problems.

Methane production is of limited quantity. Natural methane, natural gas, is plentiful, but its use in vehicles may be delayed by infrastructure as you say. It too will run out.

The alternatives you mentioned each have inherent problems, but the main one is that pesky storage of electrical energy in a cheap, compact, energy dense form like a battery. I wouldn't forbid other research, but if I were giving out money for research, the largest share would go for electrical storage research, then for energy efficiency and finally all the other risky schemes.

The emphasis would be to change the source of energy while not raising its cost to the consumer and energy efficient usage so that the consumer either stays in the same position versus energy costs or actually saves money. There is no good reason to increase energy costs and lower the standard of living for everyone.

Since we have centuries worth of coal I think that will be our next big source of energy. The idea there is to use every possible bit of the coal so there is nothing toxic to throw away. Even the metals left over could be extracted for use. A neutral unusable waste could be used to fill in empty coal mines. There must be ways to use coal cleanly and without extreme expense.

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#28

Re: The Energy Elephant in the Room

09/23/2008 12:32 PM

I would cut nuclear fission budget by half. I would not end it completely since there places it can be necessary such as nuclear submarines and in spacecraft. The coal program should be changed to accelerate sequestering CO2 in the ground and under the ocean. CO2 sequestration will result in zero co2 emissions, there is no reason not to make that part of the mix of future sources of energy. It is practical now and does not require much theoretical work. They should accelerate that program to get all power plants to sequester their CO2underground and they should shift money to renewable resources.

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#45
In reply to #28

Re: The Energy Elephant in the Room

09/24/2008 11:44 PM

Guest-Have enough guts to use a name or be considered a coward who is also a blowhard. We all take our lumps here and will at least put a screen name up as identification. The multiple people calling themselves Guest are not truly serious.

Sequestration is an expensive, risky scheme that the people cannot afford because it raises the cost of electricity. Running the CO2 through algae tanks or greenhouses can turn a lot of it into food, fuel and oxygen. If zero CO2 emissions are so important to you, please stop breathing and emitting CO2.

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#46
In reply to #45

Re: The Energy Elephant in the Room

09/25/2008 1:07 AM

taganan,

" If zero CO2 emissions are so important to you, please stop breathing and emitting CO2."

just when it almost sounds plausable and you have got it, you slip back. wouldn't your posting have said the same thing without your last sentence? without alienating anyone?

there are several problems here that are not being addressed. first of all the population of the world has tripled in the last 50 years. world wide energy usage increasing at 15% per year means that energy demand doubles every 7 years.

couple this with burning any of the fossel fuels releases carbon that was sequestered for many millions of years.

at least with methane produced as a renewable resource, the carbon was only sequestered recently. perhaps 100 years with large trees, only months if from agricultural products.

and best of all, non fossil fuel energy releases no carbon.

now, i am not convinced that global warming is caused by CO2. i am also not convinced that riseing CO2 is necessarily a disaster. the reason for these doubts is that it has been shown that most plant life evolved at a time when the CO2 levels were 4 to 5 times what they are now. it is easy to test this just by giving plants that level of CO2 and watch the difference in their growth. some plants that evolved later in the worlds life do not show this though. they evolved when C02 levels are more like they are now.

global warming is a very serious threat though. when the permafrost melts, massive amounts of methane are released from the plant matter in the permafrost. methane being released into the atmosphere has been shown to be 32 times as much a problem as the same volume of CO2. the threat of "turnover" of methane dissolved into the oceans and lakes could be a life extinction event. it is a natural event though. i am sure it has happened before in the past.

i don't know if there is anything that we as humans can do to affect global warming. nature just goes thru cycles. when massive volcanic eruptions occur, we get temporary global cooling. when solar flares occur, temperatures rise.

i do believe that cutting down all of the forests and burning all of the fossil fuels is not a natural way for life to thrive.

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#48
In reply to #46

Re: The Energy Elephant in the Room

09/25/2008 2:33 AM

" If zero CO2 emissions are so important to you, please stop breathing and emitting CO2."

Where is your humor? I was poking fun at the "zero CO2" emission phrase, since many who are so rabid about it do not stop to think that they emit about 2.5 lbs of CO2 per day. It is to make people who say that stop and think twice about being adamant about it.

I do not disagree with the rest of what you say. I too feel that climate change is natural and since the permafrost has melted in the past I think we will survive it.

I am conservative and I too love trees, the wood is so good for making, houses and furniture and paper that I want forests to be around for a long time. They help me breathe too, so I can emit CO2 for the trees. Forests are good for wildlife. Wildlife is fun to hunt and catch and it tastes good and I want people to be able to do that for a long time.

However we must use fossil fuels until we have viable and cost effective alternatives. The solution would be a small, cheap, high energy storage device for electricity. A super-battery or capacitor system. One that can be used to power cars 400 miles on a charge. One that can take and store solar electric output for nighttime or windpower for times when there is less wind or more demand.

So we have much to agree on, in politics maybe less though.

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#50
In reply to #48

Re: the financial Elephant in the Room

09/25/2008 1:41 PM

i would settle for just an all electric car.

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#30

Re: The Energy Elephant in the Room

09/23/2008 1:19 PM

In trying to answer the original question, which it seems many of us lost track of..First of all, the move to go green cannot happen overnight, its to be a gradual changeover, or it will effect world markets. It will bring famine to area's of the world we are trying to build up. An of course the fact it will effect energy markets as a whole. So yes it will be a gradual changeover. In fact it wasnt until recent that our Energy Dept was even entertaining idea's to foster in the green world. But it is imparitive we move in this direction at a much faster pace. (Stop supporting these stock index symbol's if you want to see change!)and of course, encourage GREEN symbol's on the stock exchange! Thats how corporate America works.

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#31
In reply to #30

Re: The Energy Elephant in the Room

09/23/2008 1:26 PM

Guest,

May I suggest that, if you want your opinions to have some weight in this forum, you register and let us know a little about yourself.

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#32
In reply to #30

Re: The Energy Elephant in the Room

09/23/2008 1:31 PM

So true - have you considered registering here as a member?

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#35
In reply to #30

Re: The Energy Elephant in the Room

09/23/2008 2:11 PM

Since I gave up all hope I feel so much better now.

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#38
In reply to #35

Re: The Energy Elephant in the Room

09/23/2008 3:53 PM

Yeah, we're always easier to please once we've lowered our standards sufficiently.

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#36
In reply to #30

Re: The Energy Elephant in the Room

09/23/2008 2:14 PM

hello guest.

personaly i have no qualms at making the energy stocks crash around the world. i can't think of a better group of companies to have it happen to. why should their greed cause everything else to tank, except them. it is mostly their fault. other posters on here who are bewailing the fact that the energy companies are only eeking out a miniscule profit, just don't get it, or are repeating outright lies.

second there is really nothing to prevent going green quickly, except greed of the entrenched establishment.

someday the establishment is going to flip flop and suddenly demand that we go green. this will only occur as we are hitting the wall, hopeing that the green airbag can be inflated fast enough to save their lives. of course their attitude is based upon the premise that what is good for them is good for the country, the world etc. what bull shit.

if you think we are having a crisis and a melt down now, just wait until we start hitting the wall. everyone will look back and wish for the good old days when people could still afford energy.

i think it is somewhat telling that last week the rich and the institutions were buying up U.S. savings bonds at below 0 return. in other words, people were willing to pay the government for the privilage of holding their debt.

the real credit crunch is still to come. when the rest of the world realizes that this is a wizard of oz scenario. if the rest of the world suddenly stops buying us treasury bonds and instead starts selling them so as to put the money somewhere safer, the us treasury will have to raise interest rates to draw them back. then our economy will really tank.

question to all: does anyone know what the highest interest rate ever has been put on US treasury bonds? how long can our society depend upon "just printing money" to keep us afloat? what happens when the debt hits 50 trillion dollars? what happens when bread hits $100 a loaf. the answer to all of these is that all of the small people and their assets will have been wiped out. where did all of the money go? this used to be a wealthy country. now we are a debter country. what viable alternatives are the wealthy and the oligarchy of this country proposing to make this better? anything at all? or is it just tax cuts, holes in budgets, defict spending, bubble after bubble, wealth redistribution from the haves to the have it alls, crisis after crisis, where is the leadership that this country needs. why does greed trump sanity for the i want it all power blocks. why is it that the greedy are able to accumulate massive profits during the good times, but able to avoid accoutability when it comes to bad times. why does society have to pick up there tab. that is just wealth distribution from the masses to the wealthy.

so, go ahead and get mad at the messenger. that is what scapegoating is all about.

blame it all on the socialsts, the liberals, the welfare moms. the problem is that everyone knows who is really at fault. that the conservatives are lying thru their teeth. why isn't the press putting the blame where it really belongs? what if it takes 3 trillion dollars to bail out all of the rich and big corperations?

does it ever end?

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#37
In reply to #36

Re: The Energy Elephant in the Room

09/23/2008 3:51 PM

Great rant! Voted you a GA on the basis that I do agree with most of your points.

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#40
In reply to #36

Re: The Energy Elephant in the Room

09/23/2008 11:22 PM

Good Answer. Accountability. What a unique concept. It is only unique to some.

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#47
In reply to #36

Re: The Energy Elephant in the Room

09/25/2008 2:01 AM

artbyjoe-

Read history and see what Germany did after WW I to pay off the billions of Marks in war reparations debts. Start the printing presses and send carloads of million + Mark bills to France, Belgium, Netherlands, etc. Let a loaf of bread cost a million Marks, the debt gets paid off and then the Germans revalued their currency to where bread cost less than one Mark. We could do that too, except it would destroy the world economy.

The only greed I have seen is from officers of companies that are going bankrupt being paid bonuses larger than their base salary or retiring with huge retirement plans and those politicians that were in bed with them [many of those were Democrats].

Suppose you are making orange drink and selling it at 12% profit. a 42 gal barrel of orange juice costs $50 or $1.20 per gal., processing adds .60 =$1.80 plus 12% profit makes the price $2.02. If the barrel costs $100 or $2.40 per gal., processing adds .60 =$3.00 plus 12% profit makes the price $3.36. Let's say you sell a million gallons a week at $2.02, that's $2,020,000 and the same amount at $3.36, that's $3,360,000. Same percent of profit, but a lot more dollars. That is totally fair and not an example of greed. Unless you are a Marxist/socialist who equates more dollars with greed and cannot see that percentage is the only fair measure.

Substitute oil for orange juice and that is what has happened with energy companies. But you hate the rich, the ones who use their money to create jobs by investing and by buying things and especially the energy companies. If you hate them, stop using their products, no fueled transport, no electricity, live like they did in 1800.

You see greed as the main problem and I see that as only a tiny factor. Which establishment? There are several other than the extreme political Left, which has demanded we go green thinking it will be good for them. That's their BS.

People with money and some institutions are afraid of losing their money, which is why they are parking it with the government where it will be safe. [Or so they think.] They are not buying bonds with their debt, but with their money.

The Democrats pushed hard for easy loans to the poor to get them into the American Dream, their own home. So many homes were suddenly affordable that prices also went up and the push for ever easier credit continued. Bush warned of problems, but he didn't say anything loud enough to get attention, nor did many other Republicans do more than warn and grumble softly. Too many people were happy at having bought a home. Then the bubble burst. Now Democrats refuse to take responsibility for blocking the few attempts by the Republicans to prevent the debacle and Republicans say the Democrats have been in charge of Congress while this happened and did nothing.

Basically the government is going to buy all the bad mortgages, buy the repossessed homes and hope they can sell them for enough to break even. Existing mortgages need to have payments reduced within reason to what the home buyer can afford and the time to pay stretched out and be put on fixed rates. That would allow people to stay in their homes.

Next bar anyone from a failing company to get a bonus or resign/retire with a huge pension. All bonus money should be under control of the shareholders and should not exceed 20% of base salary. The federal money should be considered a loan which must be repaid by the companies over a long period of time. The government should write regulations which prevent this kind of financial meltdown and the way the businesses were able to avoid the regulations.

There is more than enough blame to go around, both for actions and inactions. If you lose all reason and simply blame conservatives and say they are lying, then you willingly ignore those on the political Left who also lie and join in their crimes.

How big and rich is a Big/Rich Corporation? How many employees can one business have before they suddenly become evil and must be destroyed. How many dollars can they have before you would take all their money and give it away to the poor. Where will the poor work then and who will pay them? Your socialist government owned industrial boondoggles? Do you really want U. S. A. to stand for Union of Soviet Americas?

Get rid of your hate, get a more realistic outlook. Don't worry, be happy!

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#49
In reply to #47

Re: The Energy Elephant in the Room

09/25/2008 1:38 PM

hello tagnanan,

once again, i like part of what you have to say, and have differences with some. let me go slowly and pick out the parts i completly agree with, then move on to what i sort of agree with and then what i don't agree with. i am really enjoying discussing these issues with you. most of the problems that we toss back and forth, do not have solutions. well at least not solutions that will please everyone. perhaps not even solutions that will please anyone. a professional negotiator considers himself successful when all parties leave the table unhappy, but with an agreement. it boils down to the fact that the poor want a share of the wealth and the wealthy want it all. is there a right or wrong? is there a correctnes or incorrectness? at this time wealth redistribution is only moving in one direction. towards the wealthy. this is neither right nor wrong, but it is unhealthy. the rules of the game are made by the wealthy. this is not only unhealthy, but moraly wrong. every step up the ladder by the poor, the working and the middle class is accompanied by the cries of anguish from the wealthy and the powerful. ok, now to your letter.

what Germany did after WW I to pay off the billions of Marks in war reparations debts.................i agree with everything said and implied.

The only greed I have seen is from officers of companies that are going bankrupt being paid bonuses....................i see much more greed than that. some might call what i see as greed there, just good business sense. an example of my own. a company makes a widget. but there profit margin is shrinking. in order to keep their profit margin up, the cut out product improvement. they cajole workers into working for less money. they underfund their employees pensions. they move the manufacturing off shore and totaly screw their existing employees. but, there profit margin doesn't shrink. that is greed. why? because the only profiteers are the owner and the stockholders and the guy in bangladesh working for $1 per hour. the root cause of this is because of globalism. our country no longer believes in protecting the workers of america. they only believe in protecting the profits of the owner and the stockholder. i am a firm believer in tariffs to protect american business, workers and consumers. moving production off shore, and selling crap to consumers is not protecting workes and consumers. it is only protecting owners and stockholers. yes, the consumer can buy the crap at a lower price than he used to pay for a quality product, but it is still crap.

your orange juice analogy is good. i agree with it completly. a fair markup and a fair profit should never be called greed. the difference is that oil is not a comodity. no matter what the government and the stock market or oil companies say. you can not plant more oil groves and lower the cost of oil. the actual cost of getting oil out of the ground is really quite low. even in our inflated us dollars, it is still around $2 per barrel. so, in a fair world, what would be a fair markup for each stage of delivery? does it equal the going price today of $120 per barrel, no. it is an artifical price based on the greed of charging what the traffic will bear. it may be good business, but it is still greed and profiteering. the price is set by speculators bidding against each other for futures in oil. this was supposedly set up this way by our government to protect oil companies by allowing them to lock in the price that they are willing to pay for oil in the future. so, why are speculators allowed to bid against oil companies for these futures? the speculators are not building anything tangeble in the real world. they are not taking the oil and refining it themselves and then marketing the final product. risking their capital for a fair profit. speculation by speculators should be banned. actual oil companies that will actually take reciept of the oil should be the only ones allowed to speculate on the price of oil. if all financial centers in the world did this, the price of a barrel of oil would drop back to $10 per barrel. and yes i must admit that speculators might not make as much money. let them go practice there greed somewhere else. so, in my mind, the extra $110 dollars per barrel is just greed. the old saying of follow the money is absolutly true. when you see who is making profits out of the cost of a barrel of oil. then you know who is profiteering from this.

If you hate them, stop using their products, no fueled transport, no electricity, live like they did in 1800....................i don't think you will convince many people to do this. doesn't mean that you can not hate the companies who are profiteering at the expense of everyone. doesn't mean that you should not change the rules to make it more eqitable and fair for everyone, not just the rich. the poor can barely put food on the table, let alone participate in the chaseing of wealth within the financial community. or is like Guantanemo and all of the prisioners, where when the government was asked what rights these prisioners had replied: they have the right to answer our questions under interogation. is it that we as americans only have the right to fund the wealth of this world. if it was a level playing field or table that would be one thing, but when the table is tilted and greased so that only the people hanging onto the top edge can survive and everyone else slides into the crapper, that is not right.

There are several other than the extreme political Left, which has demanded we go green thinking it will be good for them. That's their BS...................no, it is not BS. it is a better way to go. it is healthier, it is sustainable, it is non polluting, it is not exploitive, it has the potential to produce vast wealth. why isn't it embraced by its naysayers? because their wealth is based on resource extraction. resource extraction is easy money and vast wealth, after all resources are unlimited and there to be exploited. so, the fact that extracting those resources and burning them is destructive and unhealthy means nothing. it is only the wealth that matters. i think not. money isn't everything.

People with money and some institutions are afraid of losing their money,................they should be. everyone else has already lost theirs because of them. are they exempt.. should money only flow up hill and shit downhill?

The Democrats pushed hard for easy loans to the poor to get them into the American Dream, their own home...................there is nothing wrong with that dream. it is the screwing that everyone is getting in the buying and owning that was and is the problem. when a mortgage merchant makes a profit on doing his business that is fair. when a mortgage merchant sells something that is either upside down or easily could be, that is greed if not fraud on his part. when he can make money on both ends, by also reselling his fraud to an investor. someone should go to jail. the mortgage merchants made their billions and left with the money. everyone else is left holding the bag. they are the real criminals. that is why the F.B.I. is now actively investigating the top 29 financial companies in america. that is why they are considering weather to investigate the top 1,500 financial companies in america. our government allowed this to happen. the poor and the middle class did not ask their government to set this up so that they could be screwed. the people who stood to make a profit off their misery did. when the lobbiests sit down with the bought and paid for politicians. the typical scenario is like this: we can't have this because it will cost us too much money. this is what we recommend instead because we can make better money this way. but we can not tell everyone the real reason we are doing it. so, we will tell them it is for "the good and protection of the public" which is a lie and fraud. and we keep letting them do it. every day, every hour. it is going on right now, as you read this. you are getting screwed right now, this very second, and you are not even getting any pleasure out of it. that is deregulation for you. "reagonicms is really the great saten". yet the republicans are really good at blameing everyone except themselves.

Basically the government is going to buy all the bad mortgages, buy the repossessed homes and hope they can sell them for enough to break even. Existing mortgages need to have payments reduced within reason to what the home buyer can afford and the time to pay stretched out and be put on fixed rates. That would allow people to stay in their homes.....................no they are not. the total derivitive market, which is the one that is collapsing is valued at 62 trillion dollars. that is on the books. they do not want to write those assets down to their real value, because it would be bad for their bottom line, their profit margin, their stockholders would lose faith and dump them. it is all a faith based economy. so this present bailout plan to put 700 billion into somebodys pockets is supposed to restore faith in the system. not likely. that is basicly one percent of the potential loss. even right now, the real value of that 62 trillion is not known. some estimate that it is 25%. if the market crashes further, it could get down to 10%. so, lets stop here a moment and ask who is at fault here? is it the homeowner who is now upside down? is it the government for changing the rules and allowing this? is it the speculator buying the securites backed by the now worthless mortgages? or is it the financial system? doesn't leave anybody else to blame. the homeowner is the first to lose everything. no one is talking about bailing them out. the speculators might lose everything. the financial system might lose everything (AGAIN). the govenrment loses faith and tax revenue. the only ones who benifited are the ones who made a profit selling all of this bullshit. they made the profit going up, and they will make a profit going down. that is how their business model is set up. can any of it be saved? which part? it reminds me of the biblical story of both mothers wanting the baby. well, who is going to get the baby?

Next bar anyone from a failing company to get a bonus or resign/retire with a huge pension. All bonus money should be under control of the shareholders and should not exceed 20% of base salary. The federal money should be considered a loan which must be repaid by the companies over a long period of time. The government should write regulations which prevent this kind of financial meltdown and the way the businesses were able to avoid the regulations........................with this, i completly agree with you. in fact i don't think this goes far enough. google "the swedish method" the swedish had a similar meltdown. their solution was to give the banks all of the money they wanted, but for a majority equity position. many swedish financial institutions opted out, said no thanks. they went out and solved their problems privatly. the rest took the money. eventually and slowly the swedish government sold their equity positons turning a profit for their taxpayers. this is what we should be doing.

How big and rich is a Big/Rich Corporation? How many employees can one business have before they suddenly become evil and must be destroyed. How many dollars can they have before you would take all their money and give it away to the poor. Where will the poor work then and who will pay them? Your socialist government owned industrial boondoggles? Do you really want U. S. A. to stand for Union of Soviet Americas?.............................evil is not defined by bigness or richness. evil is defined by power, control, corruption, monopolies, greed. we already are a socialsit country that pretends to be a democracy. in actuality our govenment is a republic controlled by the rich and the powerful. eventually the governed will lose faith and then it all stops. we will be back in the dark ages. there will be another dyspora.

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#51
In reply to #47

Re: The Energy Elephant in the Room

09/25/2008 11:38 PM

"If only you or I were King, alas not" But a Good Answer nonetheless.

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#33

Re: The Energy Elephant in the Room

09/23/2008 1:58 PM

The subject has been covered pretty well so far: Hydrogen not so efficient and not so good for energy storage for transport. Coal, a fairly good supply but dirty. Nuclear, scary, but quite possibly useful. But how much land has to be turned over to extract nuclear fuel.

As far as the big supplies of coal or natural gas go, we need to bear in mind the concept of exponential growth in demand. A 3.5% growth rate doubles the rate of consumption every 20 years. Peak oil production has occured at about 1pm today. So ultimately we need renewable energy, and limited growth. I don't see any comments about using thermal storage for solar. But it seems well suited for short term storage. Collect and store the heat, use the heat to drive a turbine.

ted

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#34

Re: The Energy Elephant in the Room

09/23/2008 2:05 PM

As many people correctly recognized, hydrogen is only an energy carrier, but not a source in itself as there are no pure H2 fields on this planet (if there were, they'd be under control by Big Oil & Gas).

A similarly attractive, and possibly better energy carrier is electricity. It can be generated directly and highly efficiently from sources like wind and water, and increasingly efficiently from solar power. We already have the distribution system for electricity (even though it will need some major expansions over the next decades). Second, electricity can easily be converted to other types of energy: 100% to heat :-) but electric motors are also highly efficient unlike an engine that's BURNING a hydrogen/air mix because the waste heat results in the same poor efficiency as today's fuel engines and doesn't increase gas mileage. The only way I see to get efficient hydrogen cars is by using fuel cells and, again, electricity as an intermediate energy carrier.

Bottom line: Don't forget electricity, it is much more the Lingua Franca than hydrogen will ever be. We're just missing the transamerican electricity highway ;-)

Christoph

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#52
In reply to #34

Re: The Energy Elephant in the Room

09/26/2008 12:25 AM

Electricity has one big drawback, it is very hard to store in large amounts. The present batteries and capacitors are too expensive, too heavy and won't store enough power. Build a solar power station, but what do you do for power at night? What happens to wind turbines output if the wind doesn't blow hard enough? How do you power a Hummer EV to go 400 miles between charges? You make a $500,000 + Hummer. Just an ordinary family-size sedan EV would cost well over $100,000.

A better idea until we have those batteries is a low-cost plug-in EV that can go 50 miles on the batteries alone and would have a high efficiency steam engine to power a generator to keep the batteries charged as needed. Very low pollution and able to use any liquid or gaseous fuel it is built for. Used in general driving for both short and long trips it would use about 80% less fuel than an IC car.

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#39

Re: The Energy Elephant in the Room

09/23/2008 10:51 PM

Primarily, improve transmission efficiency; think a superconducting renewable energy grid that allows long range linear motor powered maglev trains to cruise on.

Promote the Kilo watt hour as an international currency and allow only green accounted energy

Hydrogen is for Non-Grid connected renewable excess storage.

Thorium Nuclear and not Uranium Nuclear as the base load carrier.

http://www.cosmosmagazine.com/node/348/

Now we are really talking !

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#42
In reply to #39

Re: The Energy Elephant in the Room

09/23/2008 11:30 PM

Good Answer. I had forgotten Thorium as a nuclear reactant.

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#43

Re: The Energy Elephant in the Room

09/24/2008 2:25 PM

hello everyone,

i am just reading an interesting article in "salon" by thomas friedman. here is an except from it.

five mega-problems that are going to shape the 21st century: energy and natural resource supply and demand, petro-dictatorships, climate change, biodiversity loss and energy poverty. How will we answer those five problems. Who can invent abundant, cheap, clean, reliable energy? Whichever companies, countries and communities do that are going to own the next great global industry, which I call E.T., or energy technology.

here is a link to the article.

http://www.salon.com/env/feature/2008/09/24/thomas_friedman/index.html?source=newsletter

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