Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Power Hardware

Mideast Turmoil and the Push For Clean Energy 314

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-time-like-the-present dept.
Hugh Pickens writes writes "Adam Werbach writes that in July 2008 oil prices reached $147 a barrel and suddenly energy prices and alternative energy was on everyone's agenda but soon oil prices fell as the economy faltered and people moved on to the more immediate concerns of keeping their jobs and businesses alive. Now with the possibility looming of $200 a barrel oil, the US has a robust field of clean energy technologies that are slowly coming online, from thinfilm solar to fuel cells to cellulosic ethanol — unlike 2008, when it seemed like we were starting our innovation engine from a cold start. 'In the last three years, as oil prices have softened, we've seen stumbles as companies like Applied Materials pulled back from the clean energy space because of operational and market conditions,' writes Werbach. '2012 will be a rich year for equity capitalizations, giving energy entrepreneurs the capital they need to build infrastructure. Even with the draconian austerity measures that are coming into effect across the country, this is a second opportunity for energy innovation.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Mideast Turmoil and the Push For Clean Energy

Comments Filter:
  • Nothing new here (Score:5, Interesting)

    by quarkie68 (1018634) on Sunday March 06, 2011 @02:35AM (#35394964) Homepage
    In our world there are innovators and there are also people that will vow to re-use existing suboptimal solutions with all their pros and cons until it is absolutely necessary to adopt something else. Unfortunately, the second type is the majority, even if it is completely obvious that the dependency of the West on the Middle East is one of its largest weaknesses. I wonder how many slaps does it take for some people to wake up from their deep oily sleep.
  • Thorium Reactors (Score:5, Interesting)

    by NFN_NLN (633283) on Sunday March 06, 2011 @02:35AM (#35394968)

    Why is the west still concentrating on solar and wind power while the Chinese are already into Thorium reactors?

    The US oil companies can stall all they want while they squeeze as much profit as they can out of fossil fuels.. but the Chinese aren't going to wait around.

  • Re:Thorium Reactors (Score:5, Interesting)

    by NFN_NLN (633283) on Sunday March 06, 2011 @02:39AM (#35394988)

    Sorry, forgot to include this:

    Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, of the British Telegraph daily, suggests that "Obama could kill fossil fuels overnight with a nuclear dash for thorium," and could put "an end to our dependence on fossil fuels within three to five years."[14]

    The Thorium Energy Alliance (TEA), an educational advocacy organization, emphasizes that "there is enough thorium in the United States alone to power the country at its current energy level for over 1,000 years."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thorium#Thorium_as_a_nuclear_fuel [wikipedia.org]

  • by Kohath (38547) on Sunday March 06, 2011 @02:41AM (#35394994)

    The cheapest and most obvious alternative to mideast oil is domestic oil. We have lots of it. It's being produced in North Dakota in increasing quantities. It's available under the Alaskan wasteland. It pollutes the Santa Barbara beaches from natural oil seeps -- pollution that would be prevented by oil drilling. And it's available in vast quantities in the Gulf of Mexico.

    And in Canada, the oil from tar sands will be available to use in mass quantities. But environmentalists are trying to prevent the construction of a midwest oil pipeline to bring the oil from the oil fields to the people who would use it.

    There are also vast new natural gas reserves available.

    If people want to invest in "clean" energy, they're welcome to do that. But "clean" energy shouldn't be the only energy. We need affordable energy to escape the recession.

    We need clean energy jobs and also traditional energy jobs. And every other kind of jobs.

  • by khallow (566160) on Sunday March 06, 2011 @03:41AM (#35395204)

    will do their best to cut funding for promising projects and make laws to kill the ones that are left over.

    If these projects can't stand on their own merits without requiring a ton of public funding, then they aren't "promising".

    Why any sane rational person would ever vote Republican is beyond me.

    Currently, US voters are to a considerable degree worried about the level of spending at the federal and state levels. When Democrats, such as Bill Clinton were serious about cutting spending, they got considerable support. Currently, the only serious impetus to cutting spending is among the Republicans. If that were to change, then the Democrats would get more support.

  • Re:Nothing new here (Score:3, Interesting)

    by khallow (566160) on Sunday March 06, 2011 @03:49AM (#35395222)
    Sorry, I really messed up my last reply with a single typo. Let's try this again.

    In our world there are innovators and there are also people that will vow to re-use existing suboptimal solutions with all their pros and cons until it is absolutely necessary to adopt something else. Unfortunately, the second type is the majority, even if it is completely obvious that the dependency of the West on the Middle East is one of its largest weaknesses. I wonder how many slaps does it take for some people to wake up from their deep oily sleep.

    So what's the problem? You just spelled out the optimal solution. It doesn't take six billion people to innovate a replacement for petroleum-based transportation so there's proper division of labor. And society isn't going to do better than to stick with what works, until something comes along that works better (which incidentally hasn't happened yet with transportation).

    Finally, what's wrong with giving good business to the Middle East? It helps everyone.

    It just seems to me that you haven't really compared the status quo to the alternatives. It's the traditional conceit to assume that because the present scheme has flaws, then some alternative is better. My view is that the flaws and benefits of the alternatives to our fossil fuel burning haven't been seriously evaluated.

  • Re:Thorium Reactors (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 06, 2011 @07:10AM (#35395962)

    Why is the west still concentrating on solar and wind power while the Chinese are already into Thorium reactors?>

    Eh?! China is concentrating on biofuel, solar and, especially, wind power(*), just like the West. It also research molten salt reactors [wikipedia.org] (aka thorium reactors), just like many countries in the West. In the West, a lot of countries spend a lot of government money on research and experiments with different kinds of power sources, including better ways to utilise nuclear power. Heck! I live in Sweden where we are, since 1983, slowly replacing all nuclear power with other sources of energy, and even inside Sweden there are efforts to develop new, waste free and more efficient, kinds of nuclear power, those researchers get more than a billion dollars a year from the Swedish government and EU. It is pocket money, but nothing say more money would lead to better research. Meanwhile Sweden is concentrating on developing and refining energy sources that already work or show actual promise. Nuclear power has been a very expensive, inefficient and polluting (mostly on the mining side, and some hundreds years in the future when the capsules with our nuclear waste start to leak) dream, for more then 60 years There is no indications that the world will ever see clean and profitable (without government subventions) nuclear power, even if we would spend a lot of money and resources trying to develop such nuclear power.

    And as always, it is more efficient to save energy then to find new sources of energy. Sweden could save the energy production of two nuclear reactors, just by applying knowledge and technology that already exist, without any loss in living standard (Swedish living standard is much higher then that in English speaking countries, it is high even compared to New Zealand and Canada). The gain of using energy saving technology and changing energy wasting habits would be even greater in extremely wasteful and inefficient countries like USA(**). In such an underdeveloped country, modernising the industry, infrastructure and consumer products offered, could really improve the life's of the citizens.

    (*) In just three years, China went from having almost non-existing (village black smiths) production of wind power plants, to being the leading manufacturer in the world (China has twice the production as the previous leader Denmark). Most of those wind power plants are deployed inside China.

    (**) Since the fall of the Warsaw pact, Sweden is deploying energy saving and waste reducing technology to countries around the Baltic sea as part of foreign aid. Every "krona" spent in Poland, former East Germany, Russia (never call it "foreign aid" in the face of a Russian), the Baltic states et.c., give hundred times more in return in form of a clean Baltic Sea, then it would if it was spent in Sweden (of course, as part of the same plan for a clean Baltic sea, we also have technology exchange and share research efforts with other countries around the Baltic Sea, like Finland, Germany and Denmark, it has been so successful that today most of the waste in the Baltic sea origin from Britain, there is a current that take some of the waste from the British shores to the Baltic sea, where it accumulates). Even if neither technology nor living standard in those countries are on par with the rich countries around the Baltic Sea, they are approaching fast, with a lot of help from "green" technology. USA have a technological level roughly equal to those countries when they where still part of the Warsaw pact twenty years ago.

  • Re:Nothing new here (Score:4, Interesting)

    by petermgreen (876956) <plugwash@p10l i n k . n et> on Sunday March 06, 2011 @11:30AM (#35397648) Homepage

    the electric engine is superior the the ICE in every way.

    The engine itself may be but the complete power system including the energy store isn't. With an ICE a cheap and lightweight fuel tank can take you you hundreds of miles. With an electric the batteries are expensive, bulky, heavy and still give a far worse range then a conventional fuel tank.

    For example lets compare the lotus elise and the tesla roadster (I think this is a reasonable comparison as the roadster is basically an electric elise).

    pros of the roadster:
    a bit faster in the straight (according to top gear, if you have better sources that contradict this please post them)
    cheaper to run

    pros of the elise:
    corners a bit better (according to top gear, if you have better sources that contradict this please post them)
    longer range
    far lower pricetag (according to wikipedia an elise is arround £30K while a roadster is arround £90K).

    There are other cheaper electric cars but I dunno which non-electrics they are most comparable to so it's difficult to see how much more expensive they are. I'm sure I also heared somewhere that they were being sold at a loss to help the manufacturers gain experiance with electric technology for when it does become affordable.

  • by HereIAmJH (1319621) <HereIAmJH@@@hdtrvs...org> on Sunday March 06, 2011 @06:00PM (#35400914)

    In addition, trucks cause quicker roadway deterioration.

    On the other side of the coin, passenger traffic tends to be clustered on limited routes during short periods of the day. So passenger traffic causes cities to build over capacity to support traffic flow for 4-5 hours of the day. For example, a local loop interstate has 4-6 lanes (each direction) to handle rush hour in the morning and evenings. Even so, it is quite common for a 6 mile stretch to be bumper to bumper for close to 2 hours in the evening. Outside of the morning and evening commutes, 2 lanes in each direction would be sufficient. That carries over to ramps and interchanges as well. Most of the interchanges around town are being rebuilt to increase rush hour capacity, not because of wear.

Advertising may be described as the science of arresting the human intelligence long enough to get money from it.

Working...