March 2011


I think Energy Matters is designed for kids. It is a very nice and a very old site if you believe the copyright. Here is some. Go there to see the rest.

http://library.thinkquest.org/20331/

 

Energy Through History

    
Prehistoric Era 

Horse Animated Before the Industrial Revolution of the 1890s, human beings had only a moderate need for energy. Man mostly relied on the energy from brute animal strength to do work.
Man first learn to control fire around 1 million BC. Man has used fire to cook food and to warm his shelters ever since. Fire also served as protection against animals. FireplaceSailboat Thousands of years ago, human beings also learned how to use wind as an energy source. Wind is produced by an uneven heating by the sun on the surface of the earth because of the different specific heats of land and water. Hot air has lower pressure than cold air and since high pressure tries to equalize with low pressure the current called wind is produced. Around 1200 BC, in Polynesia, people learned to use this wind energy as a propulsive force for their boats by using a sail.
About 5 thousand years ago, magnetic energy was discovered in China. Magnetic force pulled iron objects and it also provided useful information to navigators since it always pointed North because of the Earth’s magnetic field. magnetLightning Electric energy was discovered by a Greek philosopher named Thales, about 2500 years ago. Thales found that, when rubbing fur against a piece of amber, a static force that would attract dust and other particles to the amber was produced which now we know as the “electrostatic force”.
Coal Pile Around 1000 BC, the Chinese found coal and started using it as a fuel. It burned slower and longer than wood and gave off more heat. It served as an excellent fuel and continued to be used for centuries thereafter. When Marco Polo returned to Italy after an exploration to China in 1275, he introduce coal to the Western world. 

 

:}

There may not be any post tomorrow. My small town library is closed on Fridays and I will have to drive into the metropolis of Springfield to post at the Lincoln Library. My home machine has a nasty VIRUS so posting from there is not an option. More when I can.

:}

For years Springfield’s CWLP Department has been a black hole. No matter what the form of government, NO Mayor has ever understood the city owned utility’s finances. As a result mysterious things are always going on there. The 50 million $$$ power buying contract that went belly up came as a complete surprise to everyone in the 1990s. The coal contracts in the 1980s were even more questionable. Now they are saying “because of the depressed economy” we will never make our own budget surpluses for the year. Give me a break. People are using less energy it is true. But that is gasoline not electricity. Something ain’t right.

http://www.sj-r.com/top-stories/x1608503929/CWLP-Engineer-Future-depends-on-economy

CWLP engineer: Future of utility depends on economy

By DEANA STROISCH (deana.stroisch@sj-r.com)
THE STATE JOURNAL-REGISTER
Posted Mar 29, 2011 @ 11:00 PM
Last update Mar 30, 2011 @ 05:46 AM

City Water, Light and Power’s chief engineer Tuesday described the state of the city-owned utility as stable, with its future largely dependent on the overall economy.

“With the economic conditions if they return, power prices will go up, and some of those revenues that we had lost and anticipated having, hopefully those will return, and that will improve the economic stability of the utility,” said Eric Hobbie, after an update on the utility to aldermen.

The new, 200-megawatt Dallman 4 was expected to generate millions of dollars annually from selling surplus power. But revenues have fallen far short of projections largely because of a depressed energy market.

CWLP’s spending plan for the fiscal year that began March 1 totals about $352 million, an increase of 10.8 percent over the previous year. Projected electric fund expenses total $295.6 million, an increase of 8 percent. Water fund expenses total $56.6 million, an increase of 27 percent, although that can largely be attributed to capital improvements that will be paid for with prior water rate hikes.

CWLP faces its share of challenges in the years ahead, including an aging work force and new federal laws and regulations, Hobbie and other CWLP officials said. Aging equipment is another concern.

Hobbie, who took over as chief engineer in 2009, said about 25 percent of CWLP’s 700 employees are over the age of 50 and have more than 20 years of experience. He said the utility tries to promote from within, but noted there is a “big gap” between younger employees and those on the verge of retirement.

:}

More tomorrow.

:}

I typed in “best way to avert a nuclear disaster” thinking that I might get a joke or something other then Japan’s smoking nukes. I was wrong but this guy is pretty insightful.

http://www.marketoracle.co.uk/Article26916.html

Nuclear Power Industry Praying Japan Will Avert a Nuclear Disaster

Stock-Markets / Nuclear Power Mar 14, 2011 – 10:59 AM

By: Martin_D_Weiss

Explosions and meltdowns at nuclear reactors in Japan this past weekend will forever change the world of energy.

Authorities have already scheduled widespread power outages starting today — and they could continue the planned outages for weeks or even months.

Nuclear power plant explosion in Fukushima, Japan, on Saturday, following that nation's strongest earthquake in history.
Nuclear power plant explosion in Fukushima, Japan, on Saturday, following that nation’s strongest earthquake in history.

But that’s just a metaphor for the sustained global energy shortages that are likely, as the safety and long-term viability of nuclear power comes under more intense scrutiny than at any time in history.

How do we know that’s the likely outcome?

Because prior nuclear disasters, such as Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, had a major long-term impact on nuclear plant construction.

Moreover, those two disasters were ultimately written off to antiquated facilities or poor safety precautions. In contrast, the Japanese nuclear industry prides itself on safety, and the plants struck by the earthquake had far better staff training and equipment, including multiple back-up systems, all of which failed.

Some nuclear experts will counter that newer and safer technologies now exist or can be developed. But given the history of similar promises in the past, those are bound to fall on deaf ears.

The public will now ask …

Is there a fundamental incompatibility between the potential dangers of nuclear energy and the unpredictable wrath of Mother Nature?

That question defies any quick answer and could take years to resolve. Until then, further growth in nuclear power production could be drastically reduced, with potentially far-reaching consequences:

  • Chronic global energy shortages, especially in countries that were counting on new nuclear energy for a large portion of their electric power.
  • Massive, long-term upward pressure on crude oil prices as producers, consumers, and investors upwardly revise their forecasts of fossil fuel demand.
  • Vast sums of investor money diverted from nuclear power plant construction to other alternative energy sources, such as wind, solar, and bio-fuels.

:}

Still battling viruses. So hopefully more tomorrow.

:}

Go there and buy some.

http://www.dasolar.com/solar-energy/residential-solar-energy

Residential solar energy the top investment

Residential electricity rates have grown by an average of 25% over the last 6 years.  This is one reason that residential solar energy is growing rapidly.  The new 30% federal tax credit has created a dramatic boost to the residential solar energy market.  Falling solar panel prices have also added to the financial incentives.  In some locations, with combined federal, state and local incentives, the payback on the initial residential solar energy investment can be as short as 6-10 years.  Since the beginning of 2009, residential solar energy installations have grown by 50%.

The economics of residential solar energy

With electric utility rates increasing substantially every year, estimates are that the average homeowner will spend over $100,000 in the next 25 years on electricity.  With costs that high it makes sense to turn that expected cost into an investment that yields numerous dividends.  Returns on a residential solar energy system can be as high as 20-25%.  This figure reflects the lower cost of investing in a solar energy system now – combined with the increase in value to your home.  According to the National Appraisers Institute, the value of your home increases 20x the annual savings in electricity. So if you save $1,000, your home value increases $20,000 without increasing property taxes.

Net-Metering and feed-in tariffs

Most residential solar energy systems will be connected to the grid through a meter enabled for net-metering.  This means that when your solar panels are generating more power than you are using, the excess power will be fed back into the grid and your meter will actually spin backwards.  Your electric utility will give you credit for the energy you generate, deducting money from your bill.  In some locations that are using feed-in tariffs, the utility company is required to pay consumers up to 300% more for the power generated.  While feed-in tariffs are not currently widespread, you can see the impact they have on consumer demand for residential solar energy.  Ask your solar installer if there are feed-in tariffs working in your area

:}

More tomorrow.

:}

http://blogs.forbes.com/christopherhelman/2011/03/15/in-panic-germany-to-shut-pre-1980-nukes/

Christopher Helman

Christopher Helman

Fuel

In Bizarre Panic, Germany’s Merkel To Shut Pre-1980 Nukes

What a bone-headed move. There’s nothing wrong with the 7 nuclear plants that German Chancellor Angela Merkel decreed would be shut down. Just last fall Germany decided to extend the lives of these plants, which provide roughly 10% of Germany’s electricity. With solar and wind entirely unscalable, how’s Germany going to make up the electric deficit? Either by ramping up the use of fossil-fuel burning plants (and importing more natural gas from Russia) or importing power from its neighbors–like nuke-friendly France.

:}

OR

:}

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/03/16

Published on Wednesday, March 16, 2011 by Truthdig.com

No Nukes Is Good Nukes

by Robert Scheer

When it comes to the safety of nuclear power plants, I am biased. And I’ll bet that if President Barack Obama had been with me on that trip to Chernobyl 24 years ago he wouldn’t be as sanguine about the future of nuclear power as he was Tuesday in an interview with a Pittsburgh television station: “Obviously, all energy sources have their downside. I mean, we saw that with the Gulf spill last summer.” Futaba Kosei Hospital patients who might have been exposed to radiation are carried on stretchers Sunday morning after being evacuated from the hospital in the town of Futaba near the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station. (AP / The Yomiuri Shimbun, Daisuke Tomita)

Sorry, Mr. President, but there is a dimension of fear properly associated with the word nuclear that is not matched by any oil spill.

Even 11 months after what has become known simply as “Chernobyl” I sensed a terror of the darkest unknown as I donned the requisite protective gear and checked Geiger counter readings before entering the surviving turbine room adjoining plant No. 4, where the explosion had occurred.

It was a terror reinforced by the uncertainty of the scientists who accompanied me as to the ultimate consequences for the health of the region’s population, even after 135,000 people had been evacuated. As I wrote at the time, “particularly disturbing was the sight of a collective farm complete with all the requirements of living: white farm houses with blue trim, tractors and other farm implements, clothing hanging on a line and some children’s playthings. All the requirements except people.”

:}

You decide. More next week.

:}

Gallium nitride makes the DC to AC conversion process much more effective.

http://solar.calfinder.com/blog/solar-research/google-transphorms-solar-efficiency/

Google Startup ‘Transphorms’ Solar Efficiency

google transphorm energy efficiency

The name of the company is Transphorm, and since its inception in 2007 it has been busy transforming the very nature of energy.

No bumps on solar cells, no cars that run on jellied jellyfish. Transphorm, emerging at the head of the class after three years of sitting in the back row, has discovered a technology that could ultimately capture some of the power lost in converting from alternating current (AC) to direct current (DC).

This is done by your regional electric utility, which transmits electricity in DC and delivers power to the plug-ins in your home as AC. Why? It’s cheaper, for one thing. It’s also safer, and the amount of power lost to heat during transmission is minimal.

dot dot dot as they say

Increasing energy efficiency is one of the best ways of achieving that  “green energy” economy we all want and need. Waste not, want not, as my mother used to say, and this particular waste-not strategy benefits not only large power users (factories and control centers, for example) but also the smallest user, which means you and I. This is because the cost of lost power is built into the cost per kilowatt-hour charged by the utility.

Transphorm’s secret weapon? Gallium nitride, a material that has to be fabricated, making it initially more expensive but consistently more efficient than silicon. It is, according to CEO Umesh Mishra, “a miracle material.”

:}

for more on that see:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gallium_nitride

Gallium nitride (GaN) is a binary III/V direct bandgap semiconductor commonly used in bright light-emitting diodes since the 1990s. The compound is a very hard material that has a Wurtzite crystal structure. Its wide band gap of 3.4 eV affords it special properties for applications in optoelectronic, high-power and high-frequency devices. For example, GaN is the substrate which makes violet (405 nm) laser diodes possible, without use of nonlinear optical frequency-doubling.

Its sensitivity to ionizing radiation is low (like other group III nitrides), making it a suitable material for solar cell arrays for satellites. Because GaN transistors can operate at much hotter temperatures and work at much higher voltages than gallium arsenide (GaAs) transistors, they make ideal power amplifiers at microwave frequencies.

:}

More tomorrow.

:}

I know. Barack Obama, Dick Durbin and every other person on this planet is in favor of this Clean Coal technology. But how advanced is it to use a process created in the late 1800s in 2011. The easy answer is it ain’t. Please call your representative to protest.

http://www.riverbender.com/news/wbgz/rfullstory.cfm?newsfile=2011-03-20-20_FutureGen%20Pipeline%20Issues

FutureGen Pipeline Issues

WBGZ Radio | Mar 18, 2011

The pipeline that’s going to carry carbon dioxide from one place to another as part of the FutureGen clean-coal project is the subject of a bill which has passed a Senate committee.  The bill writes a process for Illinois to oversee the construction and operation of such a pipeline.

“This bill is patterned after what the Illinois Commerce Commission currently does with regard to petroleum pipelines, crude oil, water utility lines, and electric transmission lines,” said sponsoring State Sen. John Sullivan (D-Rushville). Opponents include farmers in Morgan County, where the pipeline would be built.  They say the property owners who do want it are the ones who don’t live there.  FutureGen would use a former Ameren plant in Meredosia to convert coal into carbon dioxide, which would be stored near Alexander.  SB 1821 has passed the Senate Executive Committee.

(Illinois Radio Network)

:}

More tomorrow.

:}

You think it has been a bad year for nuclear power or Japanese grown vegetables?

http://www.frontlinestocks.com/hrte/

Wind energy declines in USA

28 July 2010

Wind power installations to date this year have dropped by 71% from last years level, according to the latest quarterly report from the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).

Only 700 MW of wind turbines were added in Q2 2010, down 57% from comparable 2008 levels and down 71% from 2009.

Even with 5.5 GW of wind power under construction and a more active second half of the year anticipated, AWEA projects that total 2010 installations will be 25% to 45% below 2009 installations, depending on policy developments.

Combined Q1 and Q2wind energy installations in 2010 are 1239 MW, 57% below 2008 half-year levels and 71% below 2009.

AWEA and a coalition of renewable energy, labor, utility and environmental groups are calling on the US Congress to enact a strong national renewable electricity standard (RES) to spur demand for green power, attract manufacturing investment and save (and create) jobs.

“Strong Federal policy supporting the US wind energy industry has never been more important,” says Denise Bode of AWEA. “We have an historic opportunity to build a major new manufacturing industry.”

“Without strong, supportive policy like an RES to spur demand, investment and jobs, manufacturing facilities will go idle and lay off workers if Congress doesn’t act now – before time runs out this session,” she adds.

US wind energy now in ‘coasting momentum’

There is no demand beyond the present “coasting momentum” and, without stable policy, without demand and new power purchase agreements and without new wind turbine orders, the domestic industry is sputtering out, the group notes. “Passage of a strong national RES will boost demand and fire up the industry’s economic engines.”

The US wind energy industry has repeatedly criticized the ‘boom-and-bust’ cycles which result in layoffs and also discourage investment in new manufacturing facilities. The USA is losing the clean energy manufacturing race to Europe and China, which have firm long-term renewable energy targets and policy commitments in place, warns AWEA.

According to a national poll conducted by Public Opinion Strategies, an RES is popular among US voters with strong support from 65% of Republican voters, 69% of Independents and 92% of Democrats.

:}

More tomorrow…

:}

Monopolies are a bad thing if you listen to most capitalists. Except when you supply public services like supplying electricity or natural gas. OK so then everyone agrees that those companies need CLOSE regulation to make sure they do not cheat. Well not quite everybody.

http://www.whig.com/story/news/Electric-rates-031111

Published: 3/11/2011 | Updated: 3/19/2011

By DOUG WILSON
Herald-Whig Senior Writer

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Ameren Illinois electric customers would pay an additional $5 a year — less than 50 cents a month more — so the utility can upgrade electric and gas delivery under a plan being considered by state lawmakers. State Rep. Jil Tracy, R-Mount Sterling, is concerned about those higher rates. She is researching the proposed legislation that would allow the rate increase and permit utilities to adjust their rates each year under a different regulatory system. “I think it’s very much a work in progress. We have been having public hearings, and I’m not sure how the bill will end up,” Tracy said of HB 14. As a member of the House Public Utilities Committee, Tracy attended a Tuesday hearing on the rate hike and the regulatory issue. “I don’t want to see bills rise, but there’s no doubt we need to improve the grid,” Tracy said. The $5 annual charge for each Ameren Illinois customers would improve delivery systems for the electric system and the gas system. “These investments will provide significant benefits to the state of Illinois and our energy customers, and will allow Ameren Illinois to provide the safe, reliable and affordable service our customers expect,” said Craig Nelson, Ameren senior vice president.

:}

http://foresightdesign.org/blog/2011/03/illinois-environmental-council-opposes-hb14-legislature-holds-hearing-on-electric-utility-proposal/

Illinois Environmental Council Opposes HB14: Legislature Holds Hearing on Electric Utility Proposal

Thursday (Mar 17) was the deadline for legislation in both the Illinois House and Senate to move out of committee.  While some legislation may receive extended deadlines, most proposals that don’t meet the Thursday deadline will not move further.  Check out IEC’s legislative tracker to determine which bills have not yet moved out of committee.

HB14:
Last week, on March 10, the House Public Utilities Committee and Senate Energy Committee held a joint subject matter hearing on HB14, a proposal from ComEd.  HB14 would change the way ComEd and Ameren are regulated.  It would allow them to receive automatic rate increases if they invested in both the existing grid and in smart grid technology.   At the hearing, ComEd suggested that this rate increase would be about $3/month for each customer, in addition to any normal rate increases.

David Kolata, Citizens Utility Board executive director and IEC board member, expressed concern at the hearing that this legislation would give consumers the “bill without the benefits.”  Smart grid technology uses digital two way communications with a consumer’s home.  Smart grid done right should increase energy efficiency, lower bills for consumers, and otherwise prepare for a clean energy future.  As written, HB14 does not include any renewable energy or energy efficiency provisions.

On the same day as this hearing, Exelon CEO John Rowe was quoted by Crain’s as saying, “Smart grid we are reluctant to embrace, because it costs too much and we’re not sure what good it will do.” Exelon owns ComEd. Read more in Crain’s about this disconnect between the discussion of smart grid technology that occurred Mar 8th and comments by Exelon’s CEO.

:}

More tomorrow

:}

This is an excellent article on why we have had the disaster in Japan.

http://www.consumerenergyreport.com/2011/03/17/how-much-are-you-willing-pay-nuke-free/

How Much Are You Willing to Pay to be Nuke-Free?

Posted by Robert Rapier on Thursday, March 17, 2011

A Plan to Phase Out “Dirty” Energy

After the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico, someone said to me “We have to stop all offshore drilling.” My response was that I could get behind that idea, but I wanted to know what sacrifices the person was willing to make. That turned out to be the end of the conversation, because usually the people campaigning against these sorts of things believe that the consequences will be all good (no more oil spills) with no real downside (like less energy available). I can tell you with absolute certainty that we can live with no offshore drilling, but I can also tell you that the price of your fuel would be greater — and probably far greater — than it is today.

Nuclear power plants fill a need — cheap energy — that consumers demand. Are you willing to give it up?

I believe that the reason we have so much “dirty” energy is that we demand cheap energy. I spoke to a reporter in Japan this week about the crisis at the Fukushima nuclear plant, and he said he couldn’t help but notice that despite some rolling blackouts now, Japan remains very much a country with all of the lights on.

Root Cause: Consumers Demand Cheap, Abundant Energy

This gets right to the heart of why we have nuclear power: We demand cheap energy; energy so cheap that we can afford to leave all of the lights in the house on all day long. Both coal and nuclear-generated electricity are viewed as cheap relative to many other options — admittedly debatable given charges of government subsidies and the occasional environmental calamity — as well as reliable (again, environmental calamities notwithstanding).

My response to the reporter was that I love lobster, but I rarely eat it because it is so expensive. If they served $2 lobster at McDonalds, we would all consume much more lobster and of course the supply of lobsters would be under pressure. If we all demanded cheap lobster and got angry when our lobsters became more expensive, politicians would work to give us what we want lest they be voted out of office. We would see all sorts of lobster-related subsidies designed to bring us all cheap lobsters (which have to be paid through taxes and/or deficit spending). Consequences of our cheap lobster demands — higher deficits and possibly no more lobsters — would be pushed onto another generation.

:}

What he does not say is why we were sold cheap energy. That is sold on the idea instead of sustainability. It’s because resources are seen as free. Buy them, dig them up and sell them. More next week.

:}

Next Page »