ENERGY PERCEPTION vs REALITY
Whether you believe in global warming or not, and whatever the causes are natural cycle or man made, the facts are undisputed. The climate is changing and more and more severe weather will be happening on a less predictable model. It is no longer an issue of being GREEN, but simply one of being prepared.
Sustainability needs to be our motto and everything we do needs to be reliable and sustainable at an economic and technological level. The Renewable Energy Industry has promoted the idea of grid tied wind and solar power systems (without energy storage) as an inexpensive way to supposedly help the environment (and boost sales of Solar Modules and wind generators) without any effort on the part of consumers or manufacturers in real energy efficiency.
The truth is that none of these systems, to date, have prevented even one ounce of coal from being burned by a US or European power plant. Unfortunately, neither you or any large group of people can prevent burning of fossil fuels in any power plant. Coal fired plants are base loading power and must be available 24/7, so the idea that some CFL lightbulbs, or a grid tied array can prevent CO2 is preposterous. This is just a fact.
Industry and government are simply incapable of affecting any change on energy use and given the money being spent by coal, oil and gas companies to influence legislators, will never achieve any consensus so long as they need money to get elected. There is no such thing as clean coal no more than there is safe nuclear or hydro-fracking with minimal impact. Wind turbine proponents claim wind generation will be able to provide all electric power but this is nearly impossible to do on a cost effective basis and there are serious doubts about this claim or how many wind generators it would take to do this. Currently, many thousands of wind turbines have been abandoned due to high operating costs and low subsidies or high maintenance, many more just catch fire and burn, due to overload or design or lightning.
Further, many want to have an all electric transportation network charging from the grid, which is also impossible since we cannot reasonably provide for the current electric use. No grid-tied PV system can actually claim to provide all the power for any home without energy storage, since during the night, all grid tie PV systems are not operable, thus all this power must come from the grid. You cannot store energy on the grid, so this claim is preposterous. Meanwhile, utilities (mostly international mega-corporations) spend more and more to replace systems damaged by tornadoes, hurricanes, snow, wind and floods, so where will the infrastructure improvement money come from? At the same time, these same corporations abandon any investment that does not immediately pan-up with typical short-term thinking.
We have seen a very noticeable change in weather across the USA. 100 year and 500 year weather events are now commonplace. Seattle, New Orleans, Florida, and California, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Missouri and now the Northeast, Midwest and South have all seen this phenomenon and everyone in between will very soon. 2011 was just the beginning. Utility services both electrical and non-electrical are under extreme pressure from already overburdened demand and lower revenues due to the economy, and it will not take much to reach the tipping point.
Utilities alone have now spent billions of dollars fixing damaged infrastructure. Major ice storms in winter, major drought conditions right next to massive areas of flooding all due to the increased amount of water vapor available in the atmosphere due to climate change. We are also at the highpoint in the solar cycle and are due for serious and possibly catastrophic CME incidents like the Carrington Event in 1859. If such a solar flare happened today-there would be no electronics or power save your own PV-INVERTER-BATTERY system.
The hottest cycles ever recorded were in the last 3 years as were the wettest. The 2011 and 2012 tornado swarm combined with massive flooding, extreme heat and very wet conditions in the north should be proof positive. Between drought and flood in places where there should be normal weather, utilities will not be able to retain infrastructure. The average coal fired 500 megawatt power plant requires almost 100,000 gallons of water per day to operate-no water, no power, it is as simple as that.
On top of all this, the earths geologic cycle is also getting very active as predicted and major earthquakes are going to be the norm for many years. Our current infrastructure, as demonstrated by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan are completely vulnerable and will be greatly affected. How many Fukishima events can we afford and still have a viable planet? Between weather and seismic events, we need a sea-change in our thinking about energy, no matter what the gas and oil or nuclear people say. It is guaranteed that nature has more in store for us.
Hopefully, no one is naive enough to assume that either government or private enterprise will be able to fix this situation in any meaningful way. People need to take action, be prepared, grow local, think local and get back to providing some of the essentials for themselves. Our Power Package systems, our super low energy heating systems and our low energy water systems are designed to make you home an energy island.
GREEN WASHING is a term you will hear more of in the coming months. Here are the facts about so-called GREEN programs;
- Green tags: People are being encouraged to purchase so-called green power, which supposedly is power purchased from RE (renewable energy) sources. Since only 2% of the national energy production is from renewable energy, how can millions of people purchase power made from renewable sources? And what do you think the utilities are really doing with the money? Further, since Consumer Reports has blown the lid off the Energy Star program as a fraud, you cannot even rely on this. Only Wall Street money managers know where the money goes.
- Carbon Trading: In essence, companies are going to pay for the privilege of polluting? Does this sound reasonable? This idea will simply propagate an entire new sector of high risk securities on Wall Street, with a very few folks at the top making lots of money creating new Ponzi schemes (Solyndra/First Solar) built around things of no tangible value.
- Grid-tie energy systems without energy storage: People somehow seem to think that, if I put power into the grid, someone else will be able to use it. Even more preposterously, that this small amount of energy will make the utility power plant scale back its output and take some load off the system. It would be nice to think this is true, but it simply is not. Utility power plants must operate at full tilt all the time for many reasons, some are financial and some are technical. Even if there were over one million houses connected to a grid with 2000 watts of solar panels each (1,000,000 x 2000 = 2,000,000,000 watts) that 2000 megawatts could hardly help the grid with over 902 million mega-watts of possible load. Further, without energy storage as part of the RE system, that 2000 megawatts would not be a consistent provider to the grid. Grid tie systems without energy storage are simply a way for the solar industry to sell solar panels. Did you ever notice how many oil companies manufacture solar panels?
We simply are not discriminating enough in the electrical appliances and gadgets we buy. Really folks, we are in deep trouble. We actually no longer need or can afford to maintain the hugely expensive grid work of electrical and other transmission infrastructure we have developed. Nearly 79% of all power is generated by burning coal, the primary contributor to pollution and global warming. Every coal plant smokestack you see is dumping millions of tons of ash, CO2, and even radioactive elements into the atmosphere every second, so people can run electric hot water heaters and heat pump systems.
This grid infrastructure benefits none but a few corporate entities. From the open pit coal mines of Wyoming to the deep shaft mines of Kentucky, Coal mines are the new super-fund sites of the 21st century and as history has clearly illustrated (BP-Exxon), large corporations NEVER clean up their own messes.
Almost every home in the United States could be powered by renewable energy of some kind to a greater or lesser extent, thus drastically lowering our cost of infrastructure and energy development and lessening the effect of the rapidly changing climatic situation. As the GRID itself cannot store ANY energy, we must provide energy storage in all the systems we use. With current trends in hydrogen production and deliverable hydrogen systems, we will soon not need these burdensome fossil fuel delivery systems. Energy conservation aside, viable energy storage systems are available and cost about the same as a new washer-dryer combo.
We entered the industrial age on a non-sustainable foundation and have reached the point of no-return, we either become a sustainable society or go the way of the Romans, Mayans, Egyptians, etc, and always remember, the best engineers available built the Titannic.