Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Thank You To Dreamers And Achievers

     It may have started with a commercial for the Pickens Plan.  During the pre-bust days with gas prices over 4 dollars a gallon and pushing 5 in some locations.  700 billion dollars a year T. Boone said.  700 billion each and every year leaving our country and making us that much less wealthy.

     CNG was his plan, Compressed Natural Gas to power our heavy truck fleet.  Then, to offset the percentage of power on the grid that we created using Natural Gas, wind turbines as far as the eye could see.

     Cynics said. "Of course he wants us to use Natural Gas.  He has huge interests in the stuff."   I however try to see the good in people first.  When he said on a financial news network, and I'm paraphrasing here, "What do I need more money for, I'm already a billionaire" I believed him.  Frankly,  I liked his plan and still do.

     Now I'm not sure if I saw the Volt first or Honda's Natural Gas vehicle.  I'm fortunate enough to have Natural Gas piped right into my home, a rarity down here in Florida.  The beauty of this is I have a potential gas station right in my own garage.  But regardless of which car I heard about first, the concept of GM's Volt won out.

     The Volt will be made right here in the country I love, and unlike using Natural Gas all of the time, the Volt and future cars like it are capable of being the near final solution we need for light cars and maybe even light trucks.  Over 15,000 miles a year you could drive the Volt on direct energy from the sun, wind, or other renewable resources.

     So I guess today's post is a thank you.  A thank you to T. Boone Pickens for trying to do something big.  A bigger thank you though to the men and women at GM, for achieving something big.

Photo borrowed from Mrshorrgakx at Flickr.


  1. Achieve something big they have done. Nice post.

  2. (Let's try one of my longer-winded posts)

    Less visible than these photogenic windmills, are the missing infrastructure technologies which will finally raise the dependability of sustainable energy to the level of existing technology:

    Alternative Energy is Usually Remote.

    There needs to be a way to get the power from remote wind-rich fields (or from desert area Solar farms drenched in sunshine) to the places where most electricity is used.

    Normally, I'd tell government to stay out of the way; but this would be an appropriate place for a research and development program -- to develop a national grid of superconducting lines (think of the Interstate Highway system as a model).

    I'd link the two coasts through Texas and the Southwest, and up and down the coasts, first. This would allow not only shorter runs from windmills, but would also allow solar in the West to bolster peak evening demand in the East.

    Alternative Energy is Intermittent. There needs to be a utility-scale way to store energy. Up until now, about the only possible method available to utilities has been "pumped hydro." It is limited to places with large natural water resources (and existing hydropower infrastructure). The need for this storage is more widely spread.

    I believe the only reliable (and effective) way to accomplish this is for utilities to build and maintain giant versions of batteries which, for one reason or another, are not suitable for transportation (I am thinking specifically of Sodium Sulfur and related chemistries which must be maintained at high temperatures. Note that the larger a container is, the more efficiently it retains heat). By distributing storage to end-use areas, existing lines can be used to deliver extra power during off-peak periods.

    The government could encourage this through tax incentives, but ultimately this would be the imperative of the electricity providers. These utilities currently support the use of EV batteries.

    Any system relying on using EV batteries installed in vehicles <"vehicle to grid") is patently unfair to the person(s) who own the batteries. Also, the resource is unavailable whenever the vehicle owner decides to go somewhere.

    This urgently needed infrastructure likely isn't flashy enough to garner serious attention on the part of politicians, or national will at large. I wonder what it will take to change things?

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  4. I just really don't wanna hear someone say we need to conserve more. I really like the idea of using as much energy as we want. It creates a higher standard of living. They say enough energy hits the earth in an hour to provide what we need for a whole year, I don't see a reason we can't figure out how to get what we need from renewable sources.

  5. Horizontal windmills will probably be the next big thing. The problem with verticals, and this is a real issue, is that birds fly into them and get killed. Before you say what's a few dead birds, imagine condors and eagles flying into them. Birds are better able to dodge the horizontals. I gotta find a Co. that makes em and buy their stock.

    Yes my Volt was built in Nov. and is no. 135. 750 miles now and less than 1 gal octane used.


  6. But is a 5mw horizontal windmill even possible? I think the bigger the better when it comes to windmills.