Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Best of Energy

My Favorites:
Sugar cane vs. solar panels
Why solar is the long term energy solution
Green tags vs. solar panels

Best of the Rest
Wonder where the US gets its energy and where it goes? Check out this diagram of the US energy flow. An overview of alternative fuels that become economic with $5 gasoline.

Renewable Energy
Solar is the long term energy solution. Find out how much land is needed to run entire world on solar power. Take an overview of the solar power industry, where it has come from and where it is likely to go. Nanosolar is one company making it happen right now building a 430MW fab. Solar cells are energy positive and require only 10 square meters to power an electric car 12,000 miles a year.

Wind will also be important and is currently the most economic form of renewable energy. It is being used to power an Argentine town. You can now purchase a windmill for your backyard.

Other forms of renewable energy will also be important. Biogas from manure is being used to power up villages in Cambodia and Bangladesh. Barges are harnessing wind power through kites. Artificial tornadoes are being tapped for energy. Algae ponds are being used to create biodiesel.

Fossil Fuels
While many are concerned about peak oil, I ask Who cares? Amory Lovins lays out a plan on Winning the Oil Endgame.

Coal is being used more now and is likely to become the fuel for the 21st century. You can see this with how coal is being used on three continents. It can even be used to fuel our cars as coal is being turned into liquid fuel in Montana. This is bad news as pollution from Chinese coal casts a global shadow.

While there is more energy stored in the earth in coal than oil there is actually another source that has more energy than both of them: methane hydrate

Improved battery technology will be key to transitioning to renewable energy. A123 cofounder predicts in a decade batteries will last twice as long. Altair is building a battery with three times the capacity of existing batteries and can be fully charged in six minutes. A123 is building a battery using nanotechnology that doubles power density, increases peak energy fivefold (the cells pack more punch than a standard 110-volt wall outlet), and plummets recharging time. MIT researchers are building tiny batteries with viruses.

Kristof makes that case that nukes are green. Fast neutron reactors with a new recycling techniques reduces almost all nuclear waste.

I measure my electricity usage with kill-a-watt. One easy way to reduce energy usage is to stop the lose due to vampire devices and standby power. A new superconducting hydrogen distributing power grid could be on the horizon.

See also Best of Ethanol and Best of Environmentalism

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