Energy and stuff; where do we go?

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Re: Energy and stuff; where do we go?

Postby Dr. Strangelove » Mon Mar 05, 2012 4:30 pm

As far as this domestic energy issue goes.. it's rather straightforward: we build a new generation of nuclear power plants to phase out all coal fire plants as soon as is feasibly possible. Then we put federal dollars into research subsidies for commercial sustainable energy projects. But what we should not do is try to make those technologies seem artificially economical by subsidizing them at the consumer side. You can cheat in economics but not in physics.
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Re: Energy and stuff; where do we go?

Postby Quasigriz » Mon Mar 05, 2012 4:33 pm

boethius wrote:
Atanamis wrote:That's only true of uranium, and not at all true of thorium. The US has great deposits of Thorium, and India is in the process of doing the hard work making thorium production cheap. The damage that coal plants are doing to our nation is undeniable, and the only solution ready NOW to replace it is nuclear. We need one more generation of nuclear to help us transition to next generation power systems. Another hundred years with a focus on power distribution and independence, battery improvements, and more efficient methods of power capture, and we will look back and wonder what people were so worried about. Coal plants are doing much more damage to our population and environment though than latest generation nuclear plants would do, and we can solve the issues of reuse and storage.


Thorium will truly be too cheap to meter. They were about 100 years premature on that slogan, but it will come. Those supernovas that created all the heavy elements packed a lot of energy, and produced a bunch of elements containing huge amounts of locked in energy, just waiting for clever beings to figure out how to use it.

Which is why it won't happen any time soon.

A friend once said, "wouldn't it be great if there was no need for oil tomorrow?" I said it would be a catastrophe. There are millions and millions of people employed by the fuel industry: mechanics, truckers, gas station attendants, local providers, ship crews, and many, many more. There are few sections of our society NOT effected or benefitting from oil.

50-100 years would be plenty long enough to reallocate folks, but we would need to head down the Star Trek no-money future for truely cheap power.
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Re: Energy and stuff; where do we go?

Postby Kolokol888 » Mon Mar 05, 2012 4:37 pm

wither wrote:The nuclear issue is a perfect one to look at how risk is assessed by the public at large in general and by 'experts' in particular.

Nuclear energy can, if everything goes extremely well, virtually solve our current energy quandaries. However, mining uranium and disposing of the waste products has not been solved.

Keep in mind that nuclear fuel is mostly imported (Canada), and that US uranium reserves are quite a bit more expensive to physically extract, and the local effects (devastating) to mining our own locales will require significant (and costlier) mitigation.

Efficiency is the cheapest, lowest risk way to address energy policy, and it can save lives along the way. It flattens the future growth curve, and makes our economy (personal and national) less vulnerable to energy commodity spikes, Finally, it allows energy substitutions to be more efficiently integrated into the economy. In other words, long-term investments in energy substitutions become more feasible when long-term volatility in present solutions is reduced.


People have a very irrational relationship to risk. However are you suggesting we should listen to the people and ignore the experts?

Storage is not a big deal. That complex in Nevada will do nicely. The people are being irrational and dare I say pigheaded. Thats why it's not up and running already. Educate the Nevadians problem solved.

Why so concerned about imports. It's 21. century dude imports aren't any big deal. Whatever fuel source you use most countries will have to import. It's not like the Canadians would hold you hostage.

True on efficiency but it doesn't solve the long term issue

One issue that hasn't been addressed yet is economics. Nuclear is already the best option economically. Both for consumers and the power industry. The problem is that nuclear plants cost so so so much more upstart capital (seriously it's not even funny how much they cost). No private company can afford to take that risk. The government has to get involved with loans or loan garaties if not outright subsidies.
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Re: Energy and stuff; where do we go?

Postby Quasigriz » Mon Mar 05, 2012 4:39 pm

Dr. Strangelove wrote:As far as this domestic energy issue goes.. it's rather straightforward: we build a new generation of nuclear power plants to phase out all coal fire plants as soon as is feasibly possible. Then we put federal dollars into research subsidies for commercial sustainable energy projects. But what we should not do is try to make those technologies seem artificially economical by subsidizing them at the consumer side. You can cheat in economics but not in physics.

I agree.

Also, if we gave up the American need for space and yards, we could consolidate population centers and save fortunes on energy through transport, limited consumption, less lighting, and a plethora of others. While its nice to be able to BBQ, it still takes gas to drive your one car and copper to run power out to the Styx.
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Re: Energy and stuff; where do we go?

Postby Dr. Strangelove » Mon Mar 05, 2012 5:15 pm

I don't think the land issue is an issue at all. We should do the opposite and de-urbanize America. Smaller and sustainable communities will consume less energy no matter how you work it. Also, if the federal government helped subsidize the installation of renewable energy generators, batteries, and energy saving technologies in homes and businesses, then we would be able to transition away from most of the nuclear plants eventually.

Once all our homes generate all or most of their own power, and when people are paid for a net surplus in energy, then every residence and business in America will have a direct economic incentive to conserve energy going forward. Now imagine what would happen if research subsidies panned out in economically and technologically comparable electric vehicles people can charge at home. If it is in their interest to conserve energy consumption, and the majority of their energy consumption is electric and consumed at home, then people will have few reasons to waste. Our transportation energy consumption will not outpace our growth so much.

The trick to making a decentralized and non-urban economy to work is to build a complex network of cargo pipelines. These are basically underground tunnels that route cargo containers around the nation using something like mag-lev.

We could run trains and monorails between those smaller communities on the surface so that people can easily move between these communities. People could also drive, but it would be cheaper to use the trains and monorails. They also would risk going negative on their energy production which would mean they pay an electric bill instead of get paid.
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Re: Energy and stuff; where do we go?

Postby raistian77 » Mon Mar 05, 2012 8:24 pm

Quasigriz wrote:
Dr. Strangelove wrote:As far as this domestic energy issue goes.. it's rather straightforward: we build a new generation of nuclear power plants to phase out all coal fire plants as soon as is feasibly possible. Then we put federal dollars into research subsidies for commercial sustainable energy projects. But what we should not do is try to make those technologies seem artificially economical by subsidizing them at the consumer side. You can cheat in economics but not in physics.

I agree.

Also, if we gave up the American need for space and yards, we could consolidate population centers and save fortunes on energy through transport, limited consumption, less lighting, and a plethora of others. While its nice to be able to BBQ, it still takes gas to drive your one car and copper to run power out to the Styx.


Same here

Thorium is the way to go.

And you are right, we need to stop with the mentality of suburbs and commutes to work.
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Re: Energy and stuff; where do we go?

Postby boethius » Mon Mar 05, 2012 8:57 pm

raistian77 wrote:Same here

Thorium is the way to go.

And you are right, we need to stop with the mentality of suburbs and commutes to work.


Work is a verb, not a noun. Work is something you DO, not a place you go.

Commutes won't exist in the future...not because we will all cram together like rats in cities (what a terrible defensive strategy in a world full of nuclear weapon proliferation)...but because most work will be done remotely. There will of course be some trade work that must be performed onsite--elevator repair, the building trades, etc.

But people all driving to a central office building to sit in cubicles in front of computers and phones? Absurd.

The people who don't telecommute to white collar jobs will be the minority and exception in 20 years, the same way full-time telecommuters are the exception now.
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Re: Energy and stuff; where do we go?

Postby Quasigriz » Mon Mar 05, 2012 9:15 pm

I was thinking more alon the lines of vertical cities. You may still leave home for work, but it would be a short distance by walking or lift.
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Re: Energy and stuff; where do we go?

Postby hondo69 » Mon Mar 05, 2012 11:03 pm

Dr. Strangelove wrote:As far as this domestic energy issue goes.. it's rather straightforward: we build a new generation of nuclear power plants to phase out all coal fire plants as soon as is feasibly possible. Then we put federal dollars into research subsidies for commercial sustainable energy projects. But what we should not do is try to make those technologies seem artificially economical by subsidizing them at the consumer side. You can cheat in economics but not in physics.
Makes sense to me. I just don't think common sense has a whole lot to do with much of anything related to energy policy.

Other things that seem to make sense over the long haul:

Use compressed natural gas instead of gasoline to power vehicles and power plants.

Make it national policy to phase out the internal combustion engine as soon as feesibly possible.

Stop subsidizing foreign oil production while at the same time dampening domestic production.
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Re: Energy and stuff; where do we go?

Postby Atanamis » Tue Mar 06, 2012 9:03 am

Guys, both can exist in parallel quite readily. There is already no good reason I need to go into the office to do my job, and this is true of many others as well. The only reason people like me can't go to the cheapest places in the world (or at least in the nation) to live and work remotely are cultural right now. Building cities that don't require massive power consumption to commute around and interact with others makes sense too though for those who want to have ready access to cultural events and collections. We need cities to have efficient and grid based transport systems, and just put massive parking garages outside the cities for people who want to use a car outside the "no car needed" regions. I'd say a fully computer operated track which can handle private or public transport units on a grid system would allow this readily. Between cities, most transport of goods can easily be handled by grid powered shipping trains. Those living outside of the system wouldn't NEED to commute in, because most "white collar" jobs don't require being physically in an office to begin with. It will just come down to where you prefer to live. The technology for ending commutes already exists, it is just the culture that needs to adjust to it.
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Re: Energy and stuff; where do we go?

Postby Harry K » Tue Mar 06, 2012 9:42 am

Dr. Strangelove wrote:I don't think the land issue is an issue at all. We should do the opposite and de-urbanize America. Smaller and sustainable communities will consume less energy no matter how you work it.


I'm not so sure on that note. Alot of suburbia and the sourding lands were once farm land. With the rate of soil erosion and contamined soil we may have to revert those places back into farm land.

The biggest concern is how we pollute the ground water, rivers and streams and utlimately the oceans. I believe we take it for granted.
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Re: Energy and stuff; where do we go?

Postby Quasigriz » Tue Mar 06, 2012 10:02 am

Harry K wrote:
Dr. Strangelove wrote:I don't think the land issue is an issue at all. We should do the opposite and de-urbanize America. Smaller and sustainable communities will consume less energy no matter how you work it.


I'm not so sure on that note. Alot of suburbia and the sourding lands were once farm land. With the rate of soil erosion and contamined soil we may have to revert those places back into farm land.

The biggest concern is how we pollute the ground water, rivers and streams and utlimately the oceans. I believe we take it for granted.

Not to mention transport of goods. The main reason for rail transport being ineffective in the States is because we live too far apart. Most burbs cover huge ground space. It is impracticle for a single train station fed by walking or public transport to sufficiently handle such large areas. The idea is to eliminate or significantly reduce dependence on personal automobiles. European communities are compact and most residents live close to public transport. (electric) Rail is the most efficient of the public transports.
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Re: Energy and stuff; where do we go?

Postby boethius » Tue Mar 06, 2012 10:30 am

Atanamis wrote:Guys, both can exist in parallel quite readily. There is already no good reason I need to go into the office to do my job, and this is true of many others as well. The only reason people like me can't go to the cheapest places in the world (or at least in the nation) to live and work remotely are cultural right now. Building cities that don't require massive power consumption to commute around and interact with others makes sense too though for those who want to have ready access to cultural events and collections. We need cities to have efficient and grid based transport systems, and just put massive parking garages outside the cities for people who want to use a car outside the "no car needed" regions. I'd say a fully computer operated track which can handle private or public transport units on a grid system would allow this readily. Between cities, most transport of goods can easily be handled by grid powered shipping trains. Those living outside of the system wouldn't NEED to commute in, because most "white collar" jobs don't require being physically in an office to begin with. It will just come down to where you prefer to live. The technology for ending commutes already exists, it is just the culture that needs to adjust to it.

You're 100% right on telecommuting being held back by culture. That's why I put it at 10-20 years--have to have the Boomers retire and people my age and younger who grew up with technology get in charge.

Spread out populations aren't bad if shopping, jobs, and homes are mixed in together so that no one has to travel long distances for either. What causes long commutes are not spread out cities, but having a spread out city where all the jobs are in place A and all the houses are in place B. Instead, mix in jobs and houses together, in a sort of fractal design, and people will be closest to the things they need the most. Much of this can be changed with zoning law fixes.
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Re: Energy and stuff; where do we go?

Postby hondo69 » Thu Mar 22, 2012 3:23 am

The story of Space-X is relevant as it is a great example of government playing a proper role in advancing technology. Uncle Sam didn't throw a half a billion dollars at Space-X like they did on Solyndra and say, "we don't care how shitty your business plan is, here just take the cash". No, the government essentially held a contest for companies to compete by offering cash to the most successful enterprise. They announced the contest then got the hell out of the way.

What a novel idea. Getting the hell out of the way.

And that's the problem with our so-called Energy Policy. Government just can't get the hell out of the way.
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Re: Energy and stuff; where do we go?

Postby hondo69 » Thu Mar 29, 2012 3:06 am

Incubators are also an excellent source for new ideas and new technologies.

Anybody interested in a 90% efficient light bulb?

http://fireflyledlight.com/
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