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  1. #1
    Scarab Lord cubby's Avatar
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    Alternative Energy Solutions

    Assuming the U.S. Congress and President could work together, what alternative energy solutions should and would we embrace?
    The less you know, the more you believe.


    Actually, Mr. Lennon, I CAN imagine a world with no hate, religion, war, or violence.
    I can also imagine attacking such a world, because they would never see it coming.

  2. #2
    The more pressing issue is how on earth can you actually store energy that you collected from solar and wind?

    There is really only one soluation atm and it can only be used to cover high demand. It is called a pump storage station (afaik the biggest was build in Switzerland a few years ago) but a lot of "nature" people don't like those.

  3. #3
    Scarab Lord cubby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Baikalsan View Post
    The more pressing issue is how on earth can you actually store energy that you collected from solar and wind?

    There is really only one soluation atm and it can only be used to cover high demand. It is called a pump storage station (afaik the biggest was build in Switzerland a few years ago) but a lot of "nature" people don't like those.
    How do the current energy providers store extra energy?
    The less you know, the more you believe.


    Actually, Mr. Lennon, I CAN imagine a world with no hate, religion, war, or violence.
    I can also imagine attacking such a world, because they would never see it coming.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by cubby View Post
    How do the current energy providers store extra energy?
    They don't and can't, which isn't an issue if you have plants (nuclear, gas, coal) because you can produce on demand whenever you want. Here in Europe excess energy is relocated to other nations. It has to do with the pricing and demands of a single country.

    April 18th, strong winds but we don't need anymore energy. April 19th, no wind and forecasts say that wont change for a week. But now we have a high demand on energy but since we don't have nuclear and coal plants anymore what do we do?

    There is at this moment no good way to store energy on this scale.

  5. #5
    LOAD"*",8,1 Fuzzzie's Avatar
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    If the US were to invest heavily into fusion energy it would solve most energy problems in a clean and relatively cost effective way. However, science for the most part is so under-funded that it would take years to catch up to the progress the Europeans have already made. It's likely that they'll be buying the technology instead of creating it themselves.

  6. #6
    The Lightbringer Istaril's Avatar
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    The more pressing issue is how on earth can you actually store energy that you collected from solar and wind?
    May I present Solar Fuel

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotlan...-west-16939412
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-12051167

    Still fairly experimental from what I understand though.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by cubby View Post
    Assuming the U.S. Congress and President could work together, what alternative energy solutions should and would we embrace?
    My suggestion is to get rid of patent laws that deal with anything regarding energy and innovation will boom. Most promising inventions get bought off by multimillionaire companies that would be hindered by their production. After being bought those inventions never see the light of day.
    Last edited by Vizardlorde; 2012-09-13 at 05:56 PM.

  8. #8
    Mechagnome Sealed Shut's Avatar
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    Here's the problem. 1 nuclear plant produces 1000 megawatts per hour. You would need 60,000 acres and 2,400 to 2,800 wind turbines to equal that output.
    You would need 5,000 acres of solar panels to put out 1000 megawatts per hour, and that's at peak power levels. To average 1000 megawatts per hours for the whole day, you would really need 20,000 acres of solar panels.

  9. #9
    Space-based solar power (SBSP)
    Have A Nice Day (HVND)

  10. #10
    Solar? Yes.
    Wind? Yes.
    Those are the no-brainer, low-hanging fruit that we haven't agreed upon more simply because the fossil fuels industry has corrupted gov't so much. Other ones have more difficulty.

    Geothermal. Not easy. Research for the future, but currently impractical.
    Tidal. Not easy. Research for the future, but currently impractical.
    Biofuels. Line up and shoot anyone who seriously promotes this. Even waste biomass would be MUCH better served by preserving the organic matter and re-using it to make the soil better for future crops.
    Mechanical energy from things we do anyway. This includes things likes charging a battery from the motion of your walking, or from the wind produced by the flow of auto traffic.
    Fusion. Decades away.

    The biggest thing that needs to be achieved first though is better battery tech. Batteries need to become denser, more efficient, longer-lasting, faster-charging, using less rare materials, creating less pollution from disposal. Thankfully we are seeing real progress on those fronts. Once we have great batteries then we can create usable electricity from almost anything.

    ---------- Post added 2012-09-13 at 05:59 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by Vizardlorde View Post
    My suggestion is to get rid of patent laws that deal with anything regarding energy and innovation will boom. Most promising inventions get bought off by multimillionaire companies that would be hindered by their production. After being bought those inventions never see the light of day.
    Who is going to develop anything without being able to patent it and thus make money from it? Only the gov't. i'd rather have dozens of private research efforts going on than just a handful of public ones.

  11. #11
    LOAD"*",8,1 Fuzzzie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Angelsfist View Post
    Space-based solar power (SBSP)
    I always liked the idea, but people would freak out about microwaves being sent down from space in such high energies.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Sealed Shut View Post
    Here's the problem. 1 nuclear plant produces 1000 megawatts per hour. You would need 60,000 acres and 2,400 to 2,800 wind turbines to equal that output.
    You would need 5,000 acres of solar panels to put out 1000 megawatts per hour, and that's at peak power levels. To average 1000 megawatts per hours for the whole day, you would really need 20,000 acres of solar panels.
    You're assuming current-day efficiencies. Wind turbines and solar panels are going to become more efficient.

    And nuclear plants by their nature have to be centralized, whereas wind turbines and solar panels by their nature tend to be distributed. This means you can have significant advantages in efficiency because you don't have to transport the electricity as far.

    Anyway, no one seriously suggests wind and solar replacing all other electricity production. But every single kw/h we get from those sources the better off we are. Germany currently gets about 25% of it's electricity production from renewable sources, and around 17% of all it's energy is from renewable sources. A large chunk of that is wind power. Their goals are:

    Renewable electricity: 35% by 2020 and 80% by 2050
    Renewable energy: 18% by 2020, 30% by 2030, and 60% by 2050

    No it's not 100%, but it would be pretty impressive if they could come anywhere close to those targets.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by ptwonline View Post
    Solar? Yes.
    Wind? Yes.
    Those are the no-brainer, low-hanging fruit that we haven't agreed upon more simply because the fossil fuels industry has corrupted gov't so much. Other ones have more difficulty.

    Geothermal. Not easy. Research for the future, but currently impractical.
    Tidal. Not easy. Research for the future, but currently impractical.
    Biofuels. Line up and shoot anyone who seriously promotes this. Even waste biomass would be MUCH better served by preserving the organic matter and re-using it to make the soil better for future crops.
    Mechanical energy from things we do anyway. This includes things likes charging a battery from the motion of your walking, or from the wind produced by the flow of auto traffic.
    Fusion. Decades away.
    Human body? :P

    (sub that into mechanical - mini turbines in your blood vessels that would generate electricity by the virtue of blood flow spinning them)

  14. #14
    Fusion and if ITER works out we'll achieve Q ≥ 10 by 2027.

  15. #15
    Tap into the supermassive black hole in the middle of our galaxy of course!

  16. #16
    The Insane Reeve's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Baikalsan View Post
    They don't and can't, which isn't an issue if you have plants (nuclear, gas, coal) because you can produce on demand whenever you want. Here in Europe excess energy is relocated to other nations. It has to do with the pricing and demands of a single country.

    April 18th, strong winds but we don't need anymore energy. April 19th, no wind and forecasts say that wont change for a week. But now we have a high demand on energy but since we don't have nuclear and coal plants anymore what do we do?

    There is at this moment no good way to store energy on this scale.
    There are folks working on grid level storage solutions though. There's a guy who has figured out how to build a cheap Magnesium-Antimony liquid metal battery the size of a 40 foot shipping container that can store 2 MWh. Plop a couple of those in every energy substation and you'd have enough for a thousand homes for at least a few hours. That's still not really enough, but the technology is improving.

    But yeah, for electrical power, Nuclear Fission really is the best answer until we can develop Fusion.
    Last edited by Reeve; 2012-09-13 at 06:55 PM.
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    And I really wanna make you mine

  17. #17
    LOAD"*",8,1 Fuzzzie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wikko View Post
    Tap into the supermassive black hole in the middle of our galaxy of course!
    Haha. even if we could it would take 27,000 years to transmit the energy. Not accounting for time dilation of course.

  18. #18
    Brewmaster The Riddler's Avatar
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    fusion energy it would solve most energy problems
    I hear the Elves have made great developments in Rainbow-Unicorn energy, which is cheap, clean, and would solve all the worlds problems too.

    Solar? Yes. Wind? Yes. Those are the no-brainer, low-hanging fruit that we haven't agreed upon more simply because the fossil fuels industry has corrupted gov't so much.
    Those are the two most expensive forms of energy on the list. Fossil doesn't have to corrupt anyone to beat them. They do it to themselves by being horribly inefficient as well as tremendously expensive... Because...

    The biggest thing that needs to be achieved first though is better battery tech. Batteries need to become denser, more efficient, longer-lasting, faster-charging, using less rare materials, creating less pollution from disposal. Thankfully we are seeing real progress on those fronts.
    You are absolutely right in one sense, and absolutely wrong in another. It is true that battery efficiency is what is really holding back both solar and wind power, not to mention EVs.

    But you are so wrong in the other part. The best batteries we've got have been on the market for over 30 years (li-ion) and they are only "improving" at a rate of about 1% to 3% every year. A that rate it will take li-ion batteries over 100 years to hold about 4.5 megajules per kilogram - which is what they need in order to even vaguely be 'competitive' with gasoline (which holds 47 mj per kg). They aren't going to suddenly wake up tomorrow and realize they've been doing it all wrong for 30 years and invent a miracle li-ion technique that has 7 times the energy density it had yesterday. The only REAL progress being made with batteries stuff like Lithium-Air batteries. Li-Air is really cool, but is still very much on the drawing board - and it assumes it is even possible to overcome their stability and environmental problems.

    Wind turbines and solar panels are going to become more efficient.
    They've been saying that for decades, and yet here we are still... In order to be competitive with coal or nuclear, Wind/Solar would need to become between 4 to 6 times more efficient than they are currently. Like batteries, there is no secret cabal of fossil fuel companies trying to 'corrupt' anything. It is simply physics. The maximum PERIOD degree of efficiency possible from solar to electric conversion is about 78%. Current market products operate at about an 18% level. The most exotic, expensive materials science can create only goose it to about 30%. So even if rare, uber-expensive materials were common as dirt it is only possible to DOUBLE the efficiency of solar panels to 30%. That's not a conspiracy. That's just physics telling you that the 'dream' is impossible with terrestrial technology.

    There's a place for solar/wind. But it is not a solution for national energy needs - at least not now. Nuclear and Natural Gas are the realistic solutions, with clean burning coal as the Quarterback until they are ready.

  19. #19
    LOAD"*",8,1 Fuzzzie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Riddler View Post
    I hear the Elves have made great developments in Rainbow-Unicorn energy, which is cheap, clean, and would solve all the worlds problems too.
    I guess you're not aware that they already have sustained fusion reactions. The only issue now is getting a net energy gain from the process. Right now you have to put in more energy than you get out. Thanks for being constructive though...

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by ptwonline View Post

    Who is going to develop anything without being able to patent it and thus make money from it? Only the gov't. i'd rather have dozens of private research efforts going on than just a handful of public ones.
    Idc if i sound like some crazy conspiracy theorist, but the gas companies are purposely hindering the development of new technologies that make alternative energy sources more appealing in order to make a killing while gas lasts, even if that means buying every invention and burning the plans and prototypes right away.

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