The New Global Energy Thread - U.S. Per Capita Energy Consumption Plummets

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by Jabbadabbado, May 8, 2009.

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  1. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
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    Global wind power capacity up 29 percent in 2008

    -United States surpassed Germany as the world's leading wind power generator

    -Wind provides 1.5 percent of the world's energy demand, up from 0.1 percent in 1997.

    -U.S. wind capacity increased by 50 percent to 25,170 MW, or 21 percent of world capacity.

    This is excellent news on the global energy front. Next stop: 5% of global energy supply from wind. That is a pretty reasonable goal I think, although the investment will be significant. The global slump in energy demand/prices also means that funding new wind projects is not attractive right now.

    5% global energy demand from wind within a decade seems feasible. In 2008, Scientific American proposed a $400 billion plan to supply 35% of America's energy needs from solar power by 2050. Frankly, $400 billion sounds like peanuts right about now relative to other current Federal spending, but it would be money well spent. Add a comprehensive wind program to that for a similar amount of money, and the U.S. would be well on its way to total energy independence.
  2. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    For electrical generation, maybe solar and wind will be able to do it.

    But what about for automobiles?

    I guess that is assuming we still have a strong automobile-based economy, although it may be better if we replaced highways with high-speed railways. And just convert the remaining automobiles to electric cars.

    I also think geothermal energy has great potential, it is a limitless source of energy right beneath our feet, not dependent on weather conditions like solar or wind are.
  3. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    Transportation energy is a tough problem, but reinvestment in rail and public transportation would go a long way toward a viable energy future.
  4. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2006
    star 6
    Electric cars are fundamentally flawed, imo, based on the time that one needs to charge them. I think the quickest, and simplest, fix is to get the power grid off of fossil fuels first, and figure out a fuel source other than gasoline that we can have cars using as well, but its worth noting that there will be a big lag time on any change to fuel sources on cars because it'll take a decade, easy, till you get most people on a new kind of car even if you started right now.
  5. Silmarillion Manager Emerita/Ex RSA

    Member Since:
    Jul 20, 1999
    star 6
    I was on a flight recently and the inflight magazine had a wonderful article called "Who save the electric car?" It was about a consortium called "Better Place" which aims to reduce our dependency on oil. The core of the article was an idea for how to use renewable energy to power electric vehicles.

    Like Lowbacca_1977 said: "Electric cars are fundamentally flawed, imo, based on the time that one needs to charge them." The solution that Better Place have come up with is to have electric car refuelling stations (like your normal gas/petrol ones), but to use renewable energy to charge batteries that can be swapped out at these stations.

    So not only would it be fast to "recharge" the car, it would also use renewable energy to do so, negating the argument that charging the car uses electricty from coal powered stations.

    This seems to me like a great solution. In the time it would take to fill up your car with petrol, you could swap out an electric battery and be on your way again. Of course the distance travelled is a lot less than a normal tank of fuel, so you would be recharging or swapping batteries more often, but I think it's a great start!

    You can read the article online here (page 74) until the end of the month:
    http://voyeur.realviewtechnologies.com/

    And read about Better Place here:
    http://www.betterplace.com/


  6. VadersLaMent Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Apr 3, 2002
    star 9
    Quick charge batteries, 90 seconds

    The problem is we need to make up our minds. Andy energy generation thing for cars and homes and such is something that can work, but we need to pick a means or two and set it up. Easier said than done, but far from impossible.
  7. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2006
    star 6
    That link doesn't seem to give any offhand information for what range it would give a car based off 90 seconds of charge.
  8. VadersLaMent Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Apr 3, 2002
    star 9
    It depends on the car and infrastructure, the latter is the biggest road block. To get said batteries to charge in the time period with current outlet set ups you are not gonna see 90 seconds, it'll be more like an hour or two. That is still pretty good, and if we went with that you would just need battery packs on hand that you keep charged and switch out as you go.

    But as I said it is a matter of making up our minds. Ethanol is debated back and forth here in the USA. But brazil is a sugar country. Here's a good article.

    Hawaii has achieved solar power parity. <---Hawaii has achieved solar power parity.
  9. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    It seems to me that we are at a watershed. The U.S. automotive industry is in the worst shape it's ever been in, with all three somewhat threatened with extinction. The key to creating a viable future American automotive industry: launch a massive public-private venture to reinvent the entire sector as a high tech alternative energy transportation industry.
  10. Jedi Gunny Yahtzee Host

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    May 20, 2008
    star 8
    The problem with alternative fuel sources for automobiles is that solar-powered vehicles can't go really long distances on a single charge (making long road trips impossible to complete in a day). Although alt. energy is easy for powering buildings and homes, it is much more difficult for vehicles. I like the idea of electric cars, but unfortunately it seems as if it is not a sure-fire source to do away with the dependence on crude oil to power our vehicles yet.
  11. VadersLaMent Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Apr 3, 2002
    star 9
    BEHOLD! The Tesla roadster.

    ALL electric. 244 mile range. 0 to 60 in under 4 seconds. Recharge time is 3.5 hours. It costs approx $100,000.

    So, it is all right there. The range needs to be better, it's fast, recharge is not horrible but it is an overnight thing, and it's expensive. And it looks like a CAR and not a lil box on red wagon wheels. But it is all there. Mass production can bring that cost down, development can bring the range up, quick charge can make it fill up on the spot, and so on etc.

    It is not solar powered but there are thin film cells that could cover the entire surface and assist. But even without that you can have an all electric car for the masses.

    Hundreds of billions to companies that ****** the economy but no money dumping into infrastructure for this all electric car and its development? :rolleyes:
  12. Sauntaero Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 9, 2003
    star 4
    This is why public transportation needs to be re-developed. Alongside solar-electric vehicles, this could make a feasible trade-off: personal vehicles for short trips, and rail for long trips. All major cities are already connected, so the latter part really shouldn't be a problem. I understand travelling for work, where one would bring a lot of equipment... but commuting on the other hand can be fixed. My bus tickets usually cost about the same as driving: the question is, could it cost less than driving, and would people still not use public transport?

    Silmarillion, I like that you're reading about alt fuels while on a plane! Does anyone know if aircraft can be weaned off petroleum? That's my guilty spot, because it would be hard to give up flying...
  13. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    The combined deaths of the U.S. automotive industry and the housing construction industry present an enormous opportunity. One of the ways to reduce energy consumption, reduce reliance on personal transportation and limit the costs of reinvestment in public transportation infrastructure is to build communities designed around walking and public transportation.

    Real urban development and planning has to be an integral part of any new home construction in the future. The suburban housing development model of the last half century needs to be killed once and for all.
  14. LordNyax113 Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 2007
    star 3
    Florida isn't getting it; they just struck down a commuter rail for no good reason that would have linked various locations in the Orlando metropolitan area. The traffic there is terrible, and the rail would have helped immensely.
  15. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    There's the rub. It's difficult for a state to do high end infrastructure investment when it's bankrupt.
  16. Jedi Gunny Yahtzee Host

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    May 20, 2008
    star 8
    I use public transportation to get to school every day. A month-long bus pass is cheaper than the parking permit alone for a car in the school parking lot, not to mention the car itself, insurance and gas. Since I ride all the time, I notice fluctuations in ridership easily. Last year, when the gas prices rose, more people were getting the hint and taking public transportation, but now that the price is lower, more people are driving again. Whenever gas prices are low, people will drive their vehicles to go everywhere; however, I agree that public transportation needs a facelift to become more attractive to the general populace who would never step on a city bus or light rail train because they like the time they save by driving, yet they would probably be better-off with public tranportation. Really, the only excuse not to consider public tranport is if nothing goes near your destination or you live in an area where there are no public buses or other forms of transport to ride.
  17. Silmarillion Manager Emerita/Ex RSA

    Member Since:
    Jul 20, 1999
    star 6
    Ha! Well I did do the carbon offset for the flights if that makes a difference! :p
  18. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2006
    star 6
    Nope, those things are a scam.
  19. LordNyax113 Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 2007
    star 3
    Florida isn't bankrupt; yes, its strapped for cash like all other states, but it isn't as dire as say California. The measure was defeated mainly because of opposition from legislature members in South Florida. Would you really expect them to care about a measure that would have helped the energy crisis and citizens in Central Florida?
  20. Sauntaero Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 9, 2003
    star 4
    verrrrry interesting article in today's NYT

    Car-less suburbs...[face_hypnotized] kinda blows the mind, but IMO it solves a bunch of problems at once: emissions, safety, not to mention traffic and municipal budgets....

    I just did a project on urban/suburban development, and with growing 'green' awareness, I can see the traditional model of suburbs going out of style. I know that american homeowners aren't going to give up their cars, but actually designing developments around existing transit is a big first step. It's hard to believe that this has to conscioiusly be done, or like the article mentioned, legislated as in the UK. But it's the direct opposite of the idea for post-war suburbs, which were developed specifically for commuting. Planning suburbs as centralised, independent 'neighbourhoods' would also help, and hopefully that idea will catch on too.

    The idea of pedestrian malls or car free zones should be making a comeback in cities too, it's about time. I can't imagine a better setup for downtown business districts, and I love the idea that I can walk in the middle of the street without getting hit!
  21. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    This is what we need in the U.S., better planning of neighborhoods and cities.

    We should also raise environmental and efficiency standards for all new house construction, and give tax credits to those who renovate the house they have to proper standards.

    After doing this, we need to place emphasis on clean public transportation over the automobile, and raise the energy-efficiency and environmental-friendliness of all new automobiles.

    The collapse in the housing and automobile sectors mean this is the perfect opportunity for reform, energy independence won't be achieved by just building clean and renewable power plants.

    But I don't think anyone in Congress has the balls to propose the above.
  22. Jedi Gunny Yahtzee Host

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    The problem with the U.S. is that there is too much opposition to the "green movement", yet that's what we'll end up needing in the future anyways. Why stall for "more time" when we as a country will need to find alternative fuels in the future anyway?

    As far as the housing market, I agree that it is the perfect time to work on more-efficient homes.
  23. Fire_Ice_Death Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2001
    star 7
    The 'green' movement right now appears to be mostly a money-making scheme to help people feel good about themselves. It's not an actual movement that should be taken seriously in the slightest. While I'm not opposed to being environmentally-friendly, the actual 'movement' is a lot of BS.
  24. Jedi Gunny Yahtzee Host

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    It's the idea of being eco-friendly, and some people see that as a way to scam other people. However, ther needs to be a shift in the policies of the country to accompany alternative energy sources.
  25. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    This article illustrates some of the long-term consequence of the current recession.

    Tumbling prices push 2 U.S. energy firms into Chapter 11

    The global recession has caused a sharp downturn in energy demand and hence a dramatic slump in energy prices. This sudden change has in effect threatened the entire alternative energy industry on the one hand, and on the other hand is hurting oil and gas exploration efforts.

    What this means is that we're facing a potentially serious energy security problem at the far end of the recession. When energy demand recovers, we may have a supply hole that is difficult to fill. I'd question of course whether we'd want to fill any of the energy hole with ethanol, but there's no doubt we're going to need the oil and natural gas.

    What we may see is a continuing period of extreme volatility in energy prices. We've just experienced both record oil prices and then an 80% price collapse within the last 12 months. Recovering demand will likely hit a supply bottleneck very quickly, driving prices back up to record prices quickly, which again may curtail economic recovery and lead to further price collapses. These cycles are typical of the history of oil production, but I see them happening now more quickly, with violent price swings occurring over 18-24 month periods.

    I see energy supply as a larger obstacle to economic recovery in the medium term than the global financial/credit crisis.
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