Tag Archive: energy

Alex Pasternack of Motherboard.tv produced a documentary with Hugo Perez about the thorium movement. He says:

“The disaster at Fukushima drew attention once again to the perils of nuclear energy, and raised important questions about how its technology came to be. The Thorium Dream explores the passionate Internet-based movement in the United States behind an alternative nuclear fuel, thorium, and a supposedly safer, smaller reactor design that was born at the start of the atomic age and then forgotten. Its proponents say the technology could forever end our energy and resource problems, while solving the safety, proliferation and waste issues, and they’re determined to bring it to the U.S. before other countries do — or before other forces manage to keep the idea stuck in the bin of fringe curiosities.”

You can view the half-hour-long documentary here.

Recently Rich got a letter at the kung fu studio.  Seems the city is planning on putting an electric vehicle powering-station in front of his business.  That’s great, except that parking is already at a premium there, and that’ll be one less spot on the street for his customers.  Also, the building he’s in is 100 years old, has 100-year-old wiring, and is subject to not-infrequent brownouts.  He’s actually, just out of curiosity, been recently trying to find out how much electricity one draws while re-charging an electric vehicle.  It’s harder to discover than you might think.

The closest he’s gotten to any kind of answer is something in the range of 10 amps.  That’s about equivalent to running a large window air conditioner.  Less than I imagined.  But think about it: folks only run air conditioners when it’s hottest, perhaps a few hours a day for a few weeks in the summer.  Everybody agrees that air conditioners cost a lot of money to run, and create a huge draw against the grid.  A full EV recharge takes about six hours.  Imagine running a large window air conditioner for six hours a day, virtually every single day of the year.  What’s that going to do to your energy budget?  Don’t forget electricity rates are on the rise.  And what’s that going to do to the already overloaded power grid, especially in the summer?

I love the idea of “going green,” don’t get me wrong.  But there’s a LOT of money to be made out there in green technology and products, so don’t be so naïve as to assume that businesspeople have your, or the planet’s, best interests at heart.

Here’s the thing that bothers me about all these electric cars that are going to be on the road: Where exactly do these people think all that electricity comes from?  Currently in the U.S., our electricity is generated as follows:

·            45-50% Coal

·            24% Natural Gas

·            20% Nuclear

·            >8% Hydro, Wind & Solar

That’s right – about nine-tenths of our electricity comes from non-renewable resources.  About HALF comes from filthy, smoke-belching, environmentally destructive coal plants.  California and other states have imposed deadlines on themselves to meet a certain percentage goal for renewable energy.  It’ll be interesting to see if they are able to meet those deadlines.

Here’s the other thing that bothers me: How will your local governments go about getting all this electricity to you?

There are plenty of new proposed green or alternative power plants slated for construction, but here’s the rub: we are a nation of NIMBYs.  Nobody wants high-power lines running through their backyard.  Case in point: Backcountry San Diego residents and nature lovers are just finishing a huge fight with SDG&E over their proposed Sunrise Powerlink.  They wanted to run it from the Imperial desert in the east, from solar plants that are not yet funded let alone built, across pristine State Park and National Forest land, to power-thirsty San Diego.  Howls of protest ensued.  Only at the orders of the CPUC, did they re-route the link along an already-existing highway, only cutting across only a small corner of Cleveland National Forest land, which the Forest Service has approved.

But we do need high-power transmission lines.  California imports more electricity than any other state.  Only 1.9% of the U.S.’s electric grid lines are DC (direct current) for long-distance high-voltage transmission.  The grid infrastructure is built on 1960’s technology.  Your typical home meter is 1920’s technology.  There are approximately $30 billion in upgrades planned in the West alone.  Power outages cost the U.S. economy about $80 billion annually.

Blackout brooklyn bridge2003 blackout from spaceNYC blackout skyline

Back to electric cars.  Those batteries, which have warrantee coverage for about 150,000 to 200,000 miles (or about 8-10 years), cost $3,000 to replace.  The Toyota Prius was introduced in 2000.  What will be the drain on owners' wallets and the effect on the environment to recycle and replace all those batteries? The nice thing about electric cars, and electricity in general, is that it’s clean at the point of use.  It’s so easy to forget where that juice comes from, and how it’s created.  It’s certainly not from the “volt fairies.”

Great smoky mountains - beforeGreat smoky mtns - after

So here’s the point of my post: If you really, really want to be more “green,” CONSUME LESS ENERGY.  It’s that simple.  Turn off lights in empty rooms.  Do you really need a 60-inch plasma TV?  Unless you’re expecting company, why are you burning your outdoor lights all night long, and all day long, too, for that matter?  Rich & I live off the grid.  As a consequence, you come to understand more about your usage when you can only generate and store x number of amp hours per sunny day.  I do not own a hair drier or curler, a toaster, a coffeemaker or hotplate, or an electric griddle.  We have a microwave, but after several years of it taking up much valuable real estate, and after having used it less than 5 times, it now lives in the shed.  Our refrigerator runs on propane.  We have compact fluorescent lights, a 19-inch flat-screen TV (no cable, broadcast only), a computer, and a stereo.  The heater is also propane, but the blower uses electricity.  That’s about it.  And we don’t feel deprived at all.

One last bit: Apparently this Duggar family, who have had 19 children already, the last of which barely survived and still needs ongoing medical care, are “ready for more!”  They love God, but they sure don’t seem to give a whit about the planet.

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