Wednesday, August 24, 2016

US Still Has the Can-Do Attitude from the Apollo Program

Subtitle:  Renewable Energy and Grid Integration have Plenty of Can-Do

A commenter asked me an excellent question the other day on another forum.  My reply follows the question.   This is about providing safe, reliable, affordable, and environmentally responsible power to the US grid, in the near future as nuclear plants shut down in great numbers and coal is more scarce.  

He asked: 

“The U.S.A. used to be a “Can-do” country. Now people go around wringing their hands and saying, “But what if…?”. Meanwhile, China is building nuclear power plants, while we give Iran’s mullahs hundreds of $billions to build nuclear bombs. Are our priorities screwed up, or what?”

My reply:  

We are still very much a can-do country, at least the fellows are that I hang around with. We look at coal, nuclear, natural gas, wind, solar, ocean current, and the various storage technologies. The best answer we have is that nuclear has zero chance of improvement, because we’ve given it our best shot for decades and that was one helluva shot. Nuclear can never compete. I’ve written on this in depth on my blog.

Coal is a losing proposition, not because of technology but because of limited resources. It is a solid fact that current prices limit recoverable coal to less than 20 years in the US, and 50 years world-wide. see link  Perhaps government will subsidize coal by $1 or $2 per ton produced, which would be only $9 to $18 billion (in US dollars) annually worldwide. That would increase coal’s economic life by a few years at most. Then what?

The can-do attitude is in finding much more natural gas than anyone ever expected via precision directional drilling and hydraulic fracturing in shale deposits. Lucky for mankind, shale deposits occur world-wide.

The can-do attitude is also alive in designing and installing economic wind turbines and solar PV systems. Sandia Labs has a fabulous new design for a flexible-blade wind turbine that continues to provide power in high winds. see link  and this link  That will cause capacity factors to skyrocket. New tower materials will allow 300 meter hub heights, with 50 MW turbine-generators. The combination of more output and greater size will make wind power even more attractive.

The best, and perhaps most important can-do attitude is in power plants that harvest electricity from the oceans’ currents. Those are renewable, inexhaustible, environmentally benign, and hold far more energy than mankind will ever need. The plants are not yet economic, but they will be. It’s just a matter of time. see link 

The can-do attitude is very much alive with battery innovators and inventions, such as the BioSolar halogenated polyactylene super battery. That is not science fiction, it is a reality. As I wrote on my blog, and others posted elsewhere, the HPA battery is a game-changer. Tesla has already made electric cars, while not perfect and not yet economic, his new car the Tesla 3 will be close to economic.

Finally, he stated “If today’s media was around in the 1960’s, we never would have gone to the moon.”

We had mass media in the 1960s. The media was on-board because we also had a fear that the Russians would occupy the high ground of outer space and drop rocks on our cities. Big ones. The rocks, that is. I remember those times, with the can-do attitude coupled with careful research and data acquisition by sober, somber and talented people. We didn’t fudge the numbers just to get the desired result. Rockets exploded or fell out of the sky without that, as it was. Space is a very unforgiving place. Physics had to be right, and the engineering had to be solid. I grew up in Houston in the 1960s and my family knew some of the important players in the Space Race. I met and got to know Astronaut Gus Grissom’s younger son.

Today’s climate scientists with all their data manipulation, making up data, using false statistics, should never be allowed anywhere near a space program.

My personal view is that the climate or global warming scare today is taking the place of the Soviets-in-space scare of the 1960s. The global warming scare is spurring innovation in certain industries that will be very beneficial long-term as the Earth runs out of economic coal and nuclear plants close by the hundreds, yet the people still need electricity.

see link  to SLB article of 2014:  "Forecasting the Future - Hubris or Honesty: Coal Exhaustion Looms - Renewable Energy to the Rescue"

Roger E. Sowell, Esq.
Marina del Rey, California

copyright (c) 2016 by Roger Sowell - all rights reserved 

No comments: