Sustainable Energy, USA and worldwide:

Total posts: [514]
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1 TheHandle9th Apr 2013 01:57:42 PM from Barcelona , Relationship Status: In love with love
The most dangerous thing...

They say the USA are one of the most polluting, environmentally-thoughtless countries in the world. And, while there may be some truth to that, they're also a pioneer country where citizen and private initiatives have grasped not just the day, but the morrow as well.

This thread is to discuss advances, progress, growth, history, and established realities of sustainable energy, especially wind farms and solar panels.

Let the awesomeness begin!

First of all, let me talk to you about one project that personally gets me fired up, and that's DESERTEC. Here's the idea: build solar and wind plants in countries with huge friggin deserts and solid supplies of wind, in order to both develop these regions, induce peace through electrical interdependency, and feed Europe's crescent needs (they want to be 100% sustainable by 2050!). So, yeah, I think this might be a great opportunity for technology transfer, market opening, poverty alleviation, and so on. But that's just my personal favourite: there's so many more going on all around the planet! It's amazing!
Upon the highest thrones of the world, we are still sitting on our asses.
2 Drtentacles9th Apr 2013 02:30:31 PM from your bed. , Relationship Status: Having tea with Cthulhu
Cephalopod Lothario
That's an interesting project. I think we could certainly do a lot better.

My view on energy is we definitely need to encourage sustainable energy, but the way we've been doing it in the US is all wrong. Ethanol/Corn subsidies has been an massive fuck-up from beginning to end. It actually takes more energy/oil to produce the Ethanol than it saves, and it's done bad, bad things to the corn market.

I'd like to see more overall research grants for energy-conserving/alternative energy sources.

My big Single-Issue Wonk when it comes to clean energy is Nuclear Power. I really, really think it gets a bad rap, both from the Democrats and Republicans. Sadly, the hippy-democrat really isn't a stereotype, especially in New England, where they're constantly trying to close down a Vermont Nuclear Energy plant, Vermont Yankee, for reasons that come down to unreasonable, Luddite fear, and a severe case of NIMBY.

The Republicans have been bought and paid for by Coal and Oil companies, so you don't see any nuclear support there. It's annoying from both sides. I'd love to see a concentrated effort for more efficient, safer, more common nuclear power.

edited 9th Apr '13 2:35:48 PM by Drtentacles

And who are you, the proud lord said, that I must bow so low? Only a cat of a different coat, that's all the truth I know...
3 QuestionMarc9th Apr 2013 02:39:45 PM from Down-town Canada , Relationship Status: Having tea with Cthulhu
I can relate to that feel about nuclear power, although I am not as informed as I'd like to.

Pretty recently a nuclear station (the only one to be precise) was closed in Quebec because the new government didn't like it.

Not sure what to think about that. I mean, sure, living beside it must be unnerving, but I can't help but feel like it was a knee-jerk reaction from the government.
Just enough pride.
4 Pykrete9th Apr 2013 02:40:20 PM from Viridian Forest
NOT THE BEES
Relevant.

And ethanol has fucked up more than just the corn market — we're using a dramatic chunk of all our arable land just to prop up oil.

edited 9th Apr '13 2:40:30 PM by Pykrete

5 Drtentacles9th Apr 2013 02:45:01 PM from your bed. , Relationship Status: Having tea with Cthulhu
Cephalopod Lothario
A lot of Nuclear fear comes down to places like Three-Mile and Chernobyl. In the first case, the people in charge were lax, and in the second, they deliberate de-actived the safety measures, and said basically "How high can this thing go?"

Add to that antiquated tech, and you've got a recipe for disasters. Nuclear plants are pretty damn safe if you have decent safety measures, up to date equipment, and don't place them in the path of vengeful storm gods (Fukishima)
And who are you, the proud lord said, that I must bow so low? Only a cat of a different coat, that's all the truth I know...
6 Deadbeatloser229th Apr 2013 02:48:57 PM from le Secret♪ , Relationship Status: Hoping Senpai notices me
Phantom Bullet
I'm waiting for the day Hydrogen becomes a viable petrol alternative.
7 QuestionMarc9th Apr 2013 02:50:55 PM from Down-town Canada , Relationship Status: Having tea with Cthulhu
Well then Doc, what about the places in America in the path of vengeful Earthquake/Tornadoes/Storm gods? How much safer would nuclear reactors here in america be than Fukishima?
Just enough pride.
8 Drtentacles9th Apr 2013 02:54:53 PM from your bed. , Relationship Status: Having tea with Cthulhu
Cephalopod Lothario
That's the only sticking point. I'm certainly in favor of putting them in places that don't have heavy storms. Not all of US is a disaster zone. tongue

I think (though I'll admit I need to do more reading) that it's possible to make Reactors damn near Apocalypse proof. Fukishima had it's problem because it's safety measures failed. Hopefully, they've figured out a way to correct that. It's a process, and it shouldn't be stopped because of some roadblocks, especially since it's one of the easiest, most reliable, and most efficient ways to producing power.
And who are you, the proud lord said, that I must bow so low? Only a cat of a different coat, that's all the truth I know...
9 TheHandle9th Apr 2013 02:55:57 PM from Barcelona , Relationship Status: In love with love
The most dangerous thing...
I got a lot of arguments against nuclear power. Apparently, doing it with Thorium rather than Uranium would be much cheaper, easier, safer, and with residues that are a lot easier to handle, but governments focused on uranium because they were interested in making nukes. I'm sure Iran would be in a lot less trouble if their nuclear plants were thorium-based.

Additionally, there's a lot of political effort to publicize nuclear energy: the amount of energy supplied to the country is overestimated through Lies Damn Lies And Statistics, they're given subsidies for the sake of keeping them up.

And, of course, a lot of effort is expended to keep the spiceuranium flowing.

Now, opponents of nukes can get irrational, but choosing those types as the image of the opposition is a bit like straw-manning.

The USA have some truly amazing amounts of space, sun, and wind. And, honestly, if they started homegrowing their energy, I couldn't be happier. Both because the world would be better off, and because they wouldn't have reason to spend so much effort in the Middle East.

One of the reasons Europe is so keen to move to renewables is dependency on Russian gas. The Russian government, though the "privatized" Russian oligopolies, is trying to buy Europe's energy plants from under it. Leverage is being gained, and people are getting scared.

Upon the highest thrones of the world, we are still sitting on our asses.
10 Drtentacles9th Apr 2013 02:58:10 PM from your bed. , Relationship Status: Having tea with Cthulhu
Cephalopod Lothario
I have no objection to using Thorium.

Do you have any information/articles on the second point? Everything I've read says that it could do a lot toward replacing Oil and coal.
And who are you, the proud lord said, that I must bow so low? Only a cat of a different coat, that's all the truth I know...
11 TheHandle9th Apr 2013 03:07:23 PM from Barcelona , Relationship Status: In love with love
The most dangerous thing...
Not right now. I'm gathering info, though; I do intend to make this (sustainable energy) my bread'n'butter, after all, so I need to have a fair & balanced opinion.

edited 9th Apr '13 3:07:59 PM by TheHandle

Upon the highest thrones of the world, we are still sitting on our asses.
12 Drtentacles9th Apr 2013 03:18:14 PM from your bed. , Relationship Status: Having tea with Cthulhu
Cephalopod Lothario
[up] Good, I'm curious. Not accusing you, I'd like to be informed, as nuclear power is one of my pet causes.
And who are you, the proud lord said, that I must bow so low? Only a cat of a different coat, that's all the truth I know...
Proud Canadian
[up][up]Like, FOX fair & balanced, or actually fair and balanced?

Regarding nuclear energy: The fact there has been one major meltdown (Chernobyl) not caused by natural disaster does appeal to me. Soviet management of anything was bad, so I don't think Chernobyl should really be used as an example of why we shouldn't use it, just of what happens if it fails.

It would definitely fill in the gaps between now and wind power's maximum potential being met.
If you don't like a single Frank Ocean song, you have no soul.
I think nuclear's efficiency is hyped. But I don't really have a problem with its safety.
15 TheHandle9th Apr 2013 03:32:38 PM from Barcelona , Relationship Status: In love with love
The most dangerous thing...
[up][up]That's the joke; that I actually mean it when I say that.

[up]I live in a small country, only about three million people. They can't take a Fukushima-scale disaster.
Upon the highest thrones of the world, we are still sitting on our asses.
16 Drtentacles9th Apr 2013 03:37:00 PM from your bed. , Relationship Status: Having tea with Cthulhu
Cephalopod Lothario
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fukushima_Daiichi_nuclear_disaster

Here's the whole Wiki article on the disaster. It looks like it was, at least in part, a very statistically unlikely combination of natural disasters, and internal conditions. Furthermore, it looks like it could have been severely mitigated if the people in charge of the plant hadn't been more concerned with preserving the reactor for future use than averting the crisis.

We've also got this.

A few of the plant's workers were severely injured or killed by the disaster conditions (drowning, falling equipment damage etc.) resulting from the earthquake.[23][better source needed] Predicted future cancer deaths due to accumulated radiation exposures in the population living near Fukushima are predicted to be extremely low to none.

Also, this

Government agencies and TEPCO were thoroughly unprepared for the "cascading nuclear disaster".[81] The tsunami that "began the nuclear disaster could and should have been anticipated and that ambiguity about the roles of public and private institutions in such a crisis was a factor in the poor response at Fukushima".[81] In March 2012, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said that the government shared the blame for the Fukushima disaster, saying that officials had been blinded by a false belief in the country's "technological infallibility", and were taken in by a "safety myth". Noda said "Everybody must share the pain of responsibility".[82]

According to Naoto Kan, Japan's former prime minister, the country was totally unprepared for the Fukushima disaster, and the crippled Fukushima plant should not have been built so close to the ocean on a tsunami-prone coast.[83] Kan has acknowledged flaws in authorities' handling of the crisis, including poor communication and coordination between nuclear regulators, utility officials and the government. He said the disaster "laid bare a host of an even bigger man-made vulnerabilities in Japan's nuclear industry and regulation, from inadequate safety guidelines to crisis management, all of which he said need to be overhauled".[83]

A national program to develop robots for use in nuclear emergencies was terminated in midstream because it "smacked too much of underlying danger". Japan, supposedly a leader in robotics, had none to send into Fukushima when the crisis began. Similarly, Japan’s Nuclear Safety Commission said in its safety guidelines for light-water nuclear facilities that "the potential for extended loss of power need not be considered." But just such an extended loss of power contributed to the Fukushima meltdowns.[84]

Physicist and environmentalist Amory Lovins has said: Japan’s "rigid bureaucratic structures, reluctance to send bad news upwards, need to save face, weak development of policy alternatives, eagerness to preserve nuclear power’s public acceptance, and politically fragile government, along with TEPCO’s very hierarchical management culture, also contributed to the way the accident unfolded. Moreover, the information Japanese people receive about nuclear energy and its alternatives has long been tightly controlled by both TEPCO and the government".[85]

Yes, I'm lazy, and quote-dumping.

edited 9th Apr '13 3:40:25 PM by Drtentacles

And who are you, the proud lord said, that I must bow so low? Only a cat of a different coat, that's all the truth I know...
scratching at .8, just hopin'
Dangit, I need to find that old thread where I brought up links regarding 4th gen integrated fast breeder reactors. Even if we get everything working just with solar and wind, we should open those plants to use up our existing waste - fast breeders can consume spent nuclear fuel and eat over 95% of it, leaving behind fast-decaying waste that is only dangerous for hundreds of years rather than tens of thousands. (It is admittedly a lot more radioactive, but again, there's a lot less of it.)
18 Zendervai9th Apr 2013 04:03:32 PM from North Toronto , Relationship Status: Waiting for Prince Charming
Eccentric Dreamer
The one piece of data that always throws people who are against nuclear power is that a coal plant tends to throw out a ton of radiation as well. Yes, a nuclear plant can be really dangerous if handled incorrectly with a phenomenal amount of bad luck, but a ton of engineering goes into making them safe, that coal and oil plants lacked for most of their use. If anything, the fact that Chernobyl happened near the beginning of commercial nuclear power is a good thing (to a degree) as it shows what can happen in a bad situation, so the engineers work on making that situation as unlikely as possible, which has a side effect of making more minor problems unlikely as well.
Everyone is a little bit insane. It makes the world so much more interesting!
There are a massive amount of annual deaths from coal mining and pollution.
20 Pykrete9th Apr 2013 04:17:07 PM from Viridian Forest
NOT THE BEES
Yeah, it really is saying something that the collective death toll of nuclear power in the entire history of its existence is less than the annual one for mining the coal alone.

Technically the most dangerous form of energy by death toll is hydroelectric, but almost all of that is from a burst dam in China that was positioned right over a huge city (because China).

edited 9th Apr '13 4:18:23 PM by Pykrete

scratching at .8, just hopin'
Happy news from Ontario, although we are blessed with a lot of hydroelectric opportunity (with possible issues for wildlife).
22 Deadbeatloser229th Apr 2013 04:26:21 PM from le Secret♪ , Relationship Status: Hoping Senpai notices me
Phantom Bullet
Didn't Japan go all knee-jerk and turn off all the nuclear reactors or something?
23 Drtentacles9th Apr 2013 04:28:23 PM from your bed. , Relationship Status: Having tea with Cthulhu
Cephalopod Lothario
[up] All but two, yes.
And who are you, the proud lord said, that I must bow so low? Only a cat of a different coat, that's all the truth I know...
24 TuefelHundenIV9th Apr 2013 04:37:00 PM from Wandering. , Relationship Status: [TOP SECRET]
Watchmen of the Apocalypse
Alternative energy has some promise to varying degrees but some are proving to have nasty catches.

Wind turbines for example have proven to be detrimental a number of flying animals from bats to eagles.

Solar power has potential but it is space intensive and a little bit expensive.

Nuclear power we already know the issues with it.

Speaking of Nuclear reactor designs has anyone considered the pebble bed reactors?

edited 9th Apr '13 6:06:03 PM by TuefelHundenIV

"Who watches the watchmen?"
25 TheHandle9th Apr 2013 04:43:04 PM from Barcelona , Relationship Status: In love with love
The most dangerous thing...
[up]Mirrors in a desert? The space is there for the taking!

And, well, wind turbines have a rate of lethality to birds, but as long as they aren't constructed near the habitats of really endangered species, most of them can handle the pressure.

[up][up]Well, Japan always had a taboo about nukes...

edited 9th Apr '13 4:43:23 PM by TheHandle

Upon the highest thrones of the world, we are still sitting on our asses.

Total posts: 514
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