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60 Minutes - Dirty Clean Tech segment still eats at me.

During the 60 minutes segment on "Clean Tech", Tesla looked like a shining star. Most of rest of the segment looked dirty and ugly.

I cannot believe that they are grinding up perfectly good trees to make fuel. What the hockey sticks were they thinking?

Trees are a slow growing essential biomass. More tree farms makes for fewer forests, ecosystems and habitats. We can't live without them. The Easter Islanders can vouch for that.

Trees must be utilized in a very prudent and sparing manner. Grinding them up for biodiesel pilot projects is absolutely unacceptable. How does one bring a stop to this foolish and disturbing act?

Here is the segment: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/cleantech-crash-60-minutes/

I refuse to even click on it since I don't want them to get the ad credit. It's a classic libertarian hit job. The primary goal of DOE money isn't to create jobs it's to encourage solar and EVs to allow economies of scale to make them more affordable. Hard to argue that it didn't achieve that goal since I just bought ~30kW of solar for ~$34k. 5 years ago that would have easily cost ~$120k.

You probably will not like what the Motley Fool site has to say.

http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2014/01/19/tesla-motors-dirty-litt...

Don't get too worked up (yet). The forested area of the country has remained relatively stable for the last century or so. Indeed, the United States is the fourth most-forested country in the world (behind the Russian Federation, Brazil, and Canada).

The above statements are the result of minutes of serious Google searching. That said, I'd doubt anybody's going to be cutting down old-growth timber for tree farms. Then again, if biodiesel really takes off, who knows?

@nwdiver93
Please don't confuse the term "libertarian" with "liberal". The two are very, very different.

Liberal ideals are the ones pushing money to so-called clean-energy initiatives, welfare programs, and healthcare corporations that are only in it for the free government money.

Libertarians are the people who want government to stay out of picking winners and losers in industry, and let the mass market decide who to give their money to. Companies like the solar panel maker who focuses on actually making a positive impact, instead of the biofuel producer who deforests South America to make a buck... or the Electric car manufacturer who wants to revolutionize the auto industry, rather than the ancient industry of auto manufacturers that haven't seriously innovated in 30 years.

@Frank, I'm looking for the actual EPA study quoted by the fool. Any idea where that is?

@Dramsey

That is a bit hard to believe. There is increased flooding due to heavy harvesting. Trees hold a lot of water. Flying over the Pacific Northwest is shocking when you look out the window compared to just a decade or two ago.

The visible changes here are shocking, to say the least just in my lifetime. Even greater changes in the lifetime of my parents, grandparent and great-grandparents. I would see log trucks go down the road every few minutes. Sometimes they could fit only one log on the truck because they were so enormous. Now it looks like loads of twigs if you see any trucks at all.

They are going farther and deeper to log all the time. It is truly sad. Tree poaching is becoming common.

Some varieties of trees are nearing extinction.

@grega - This one?

http://www.epa.gov/dfe/pubs/projects/lbnp/final-li-ion-battery-lca-repor...

The article's author chimed in with links in the comments. Yes, I read them all yesterday.

@Captain_Zap:

http://www.fia.fs.fed.us/library/briefings-summaries-overviews/docs/Fore...

"Forest area has been relatively stable since 1907."

Nope... I used the terms correctly. The solar industry NEEDED a jump start to get to the economies of scale necessary to make it affordable just like Tesla NEEDED ~$500M to produce the model S on a reasonable time table. The definition of "liberal" is basically "Not being limited to or by established views"... un-limted enough to realize that while the Free Market is a powerful force it's not a magic bullet and can't solve all our problems.

Libertarians who think we should just sit back and watch the Free Market solve all our problems have the intellectual sophistication of a 5-year old.

@nwdiver93: How much of a jump start do you think the (PV) solar industry needs? It's been subsidized for decades and is still not affordable without subsidies.

The free market is not the perfect solution for every problem; neither is endless government support.

@Dramsey

Funny you should ask... WHERE'RE HERE. Solar is NOW affordable (actually has been for ~2 years). IMO it no longer needs ANY subsidies. The cost to produce power from solar is now <$0.05/kWh in most areas. Public support for Solar WORKED!!! Now the government needs to ensure the Free Market and NOT the local utility determine how fast solar expands on residential roof-tops. The cost of PV has fallen ~75% since Obama took office. I'm actually expecting a shipment today for the 30kW mentioned above. 4 years ago I paid $1.70/w for B grade panels. I just paid $0.77/w for A grade panels.

"The free market is not the perfect solution for every problem; neither is endless government support."

Yep, just like with most things it's a balance.

nw;
TM stated the $500M was for MX and battery research acceleration. It was not used or needed for the MS. The 6-mo. repayment strongly validates this claim.

@nwdiver93 The cost to produce power from solar is now <$0.05/kWh in most areas.

...where the solar in general is useful.

I hate large solar power plants, they are stupid, but widely distributed small solar in rooftops etc. is smart. It does pretty much always shine somewhere which balances the grid nicely.

I have similar opinion to wind too. Very large wind turbines are ugly ruining landscape and noisy making are in question uninhabitable in several hundred meter radius (over kilometer depending of the size of the wind farm), where smaller wind turbines are practically unnoticeable.

I wish Focus Fusion realizes soon. Then these old "green" systems can be forgotten.

I'm not a huge fan of solar/wind farms either but I think that they are the lesser evil as compared to our pathetic addiction to fossil fuels. Residential solar is the way to go. Fusion would be awesome but technologically we're so far away and our current need is so immediate it's not even close to being viable. An analogy I like is to being stranded on an island, you have everything you need to build a raft and sail away but some members of the group insist on building a helicopter. Fusion would be better but we have everything we need to get our power from the sun now... that should be our focus. Even in the worst places like Seattle solar is still ~$0.10/kWh and the cost is expected to fall another ~50% by 2020. Even if there is a fusion breakthrough it's very unlikely it will be cost competitive with our current source of fusion... the sun.

Fusion would be awesome but technologically we're so far away and our current need is so immediate it's not even close to being viable

I'm not sure about that. Sure those government-funded huge tokamak-reactors are ready somewhere around when Sun turns to red giant, but there are other techs that are much smaller, less expensive and way closer to breakthrough. LPP experiment is one of those.

If successful it will be cheaper than any other energy generation by about factor of two. Small, clean, no waste, no neutron radiation, no bad consequences whatsoever.

LPP uses Boron as fuel... not exactly an abundant element. A 1GW plant would consume ~3kg/day. Consider this... it costs ~$0.02/kWh for power transmission. In 10 years the cost of solar PV will be <$0.02/kWh. So a power plant giving away electricity would still cost more that Residential Solar due to Transmission costs. The future is PV and V2G EVs.

Why transmit and why go for 1GW plant? That thing fits in basement of an apartment. It's small and not vulnerable to weather changes or night/day/season cycles.

I think your calc is also wrong, 5MW plant uses about 5lbs of fuel / year. That's roughly 1.2 kg / day for 1GW.

I also don't believe cost of solar goes that low, unless you go to big power plants; Sun radiation is weak, so you need a lot of area to get energy, and there are limits how cheap things can get in small scale.

Sort of a virtuous circle, boron is a byproduct of desalination plants, which use lotsa power. :)

Boron-11 + H-1 => C-12 would yield ~15GWh/kg ; B-11 + H-1 => 3x He-4 would yield ~8GWh/kg assuming a power plant with 40% thermal efficiency. Which is odd, I would have figured the opposite since lower mass elements tend to have less binding energy which is why fusion works...

I'm not sure what your definition of "weak" is but the panels on my 1300 sq ft house produced >17000kWh last year... and that's converting only ~10% of the available energy to electricity. I'm helping a friend install a 10KW system expected to generate ~22000kWh/yr. The total cost is $18k... $12.6k after the 30% FTC. The cost of everything is falling quickly as economies of scale really start to kick in. A 10kW system will very likely cost ~$10k without a FTC in 2020. The longevity of the panels is also under-appreciated. There was a study a few years ago of 26 year-old panels. The average output was 96% the original rating. The vast majority of panels in service today will likely be producing >80% of rated power in 40-60 years. Over 60 years a 10kW system will generate ~1GWh. Even assuming the inverter is replaced every 20 years that's still 1GWh for <$20k or <$0.02/kWh.

The great thing about solar is that small scale is actually more efficient than large scale. The only benefit to solar farms is a slightly lower cost of labour; a Residential PV system is very often just as efficient as a non-tracking solar farm. ALL forms of centralized power generation appear to have a very bleak future. http://www.eei.org/ourissues/finance/Documents/disruptivechallenges.pdf

Solar is not useful everywhere. Sun raises at Utsjoki at February.

Also Sun radiation is weak, especially for city dwellers. Might work better for largish non-shadowed individual houses closer to equator.

"Solar is not useful everywhere. Sun raises at Utsjoki at February."

That's what the power grid is for. But I suppose that for the EXTREME rural polar reaches of the planet... <0.0001% of the population where there are no transmission lines solar won't work...

"Also Sun radiation is weak, especially for city dwellers. Might work better for largish non-shadowed individual houses closer to equator."

By what definition is 1300 sq ft "largish"? The average american home is 2100 sq ft.

We get enough energy from the sun in 1 hour to power EVERYTHING for 1 year.

I own a house in Bremerton, Wa... no where near the equator AND very cloudy that produces 20% more energy annually than it needs... and it's 100% electric i.e. no gas heat.

nw;
There's one further step to the fusion sequence, C12 → 3He4, as the C12 is hyper-energized, and unstable. It is sometimes called a fusion/fission reaction for that reason.

Hmmm.... that wold yield ~50% less energy since 3 He4 atoms have MORE mass than C12.

nw; less than 5% of world population is US. Don't base your averages to US.

Take a globe and check, most of the Europe and nearly entire Russia falls in same latitude area as Canada. China is at same area as US. Entire Scandinavia is at Alaska level.

Then there are tropical areas with in theory lots of Sun, but they have monsoons with rainfall that blocks the Sun for many weeks at the time. And so on.

This same phenomenon repeats in very large area in the world. Solar just doesn't work everywhere. Not even when in theory you could get enough Sun, weather patterns prevents it from working. For that reason it doesn't work in all areas of US either.

Utsjoki is not "extreme polar region" BTW, it can get up to +30C at summer there (and Sun doesn't set at all). OTOH it can get over -30C at winter. But you are correct that there are not that much people there.

"Power grid" in your comment would mean reaching very far to other countries if we would be using only solar. Preferably past Mediterranean sea into somewhere in Sahara. I could only imagine transfer costs for that.

"Preferably past Mediterranean sea into somewhere in Sahara. I could only imagine transfer costs for that."

See... that's the frustrating level of ignorance that's going to hold us back. Spain, Greece and Italy alone get more than enough sun to power ALL of Europe. We don't need to run power lines into remote desert regions. Anyone within ~60 degrees of the equator gets more than enough solar insolation. That's >97% of the worlds population. Obviously storage is going to be key but solar has a lot of room to expand before that's an issue.

In 10 years demand response will enable us to get ~20% of our power from solar. In 20 years V2G will enable us to get ~50% of our power from solar and in 30-40 years H2 fuel cells will enable us to get ~100% of our power from solar. We have the WAY... now we need the WILL.

What exactly is your point? That solar isn't worth the effort? That solar can never make up a significant portion of our energy needs? Reality begs to differ.

Who's going to pay for transfer from country to country? This isn't US, you know. EU is coalition of countries, not states. It costs money to get electricity imported (completely possible, but adds complexity to system). Politics are in a way.

Also "enough insolation" is averaging. We all get same insolation / year including polar regions. It's just that polar regions you get it only half of the year. Problem with solar is that you don't get Sun always, and we do need electricity always, which means you need backup systems. If you have (cheap) backup system that can serve whole area, then point of having solar goes away.

Also your point of "Anyone within ~60 degrees of the equator gets more than enough solar insolation." is wrong. That's simply not true.

Solar PV in Oslo.... 60.1N
http://www.sunnyportal.com/Templates/PublicPageOverview.aspx?page=9ab098...

Europe already shares power...
http://www.geni.org/globalenergy/library/national_energy_grid/europe/eur...

People who say it can't be done should get out of the way of those who are doing it :)

Saying "anybody" is wrong. Like I said it might work for some, but not for everyone.

For that "Solar PV in Oslo" check these:
http://www.sunnyportal.com/Templates/PublicPageOverview.aspx?page=e9da6c...
http://www.sunnyportal.com/Templates/PublicPageOverview.aspx?page=e9da6c...

Doesn't look good for solar. It's near-useless for about half a year.

Yes, countries in Europe shares power, it just costs money. I would rather not trust our power to couple of not-so-stable (economically) southern countries in Europe.

"Doesn't look good for solar. It's near-useless for about half a year."

Yep... you obviously missed my earlier post

In 10 years demand response will enable us to get ~20% of our power from solar. In 20 years V2G will enable us to get ~50% of our power from solar and in 30-40 years H2 fuel cell storage will enable us to get ~100% of our power from solar.

My point is that with sufficient storage and present transmission infrastructure line Solar provide ~100% of our energy needs... what exactly is yours?


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