Scott McMeekin's Comments

February 15, 2007

Finding the Top U.S. Solar Suppliers

If solar is a revolution, the irate nature of some of the posts explains why revolutions tend to eat their young.

Note to those who have responded with attacks on Kenneth Sheinkopf: Mr. Sheinkopf is one of the good guys! He is trying to help! The kind of info you seek is available on the websites he suggested! Keep your eyes on the ball (and get over yourselves)!!

January 26, 2007

Increasing Renewable Energy in U.S. Can Solve Global Warming

Take a pill, Marty. Rather than attacking Greenpeace, why not at least acknowledge that their definition of the problem is correct, and suggest your own improvements to the required solution. At the very least, please don't exagerate their proposals to the point of absurdity. That is not fair to the authors and only harms the whole cause of emissions reduction.

Germany and the UK already generate about half as much CO2 per person as North Americans and the French generate about a third as much. Moreover, all three are continuing to improve. I can assure you that they are not "living in the stone age".

January 26, 2007

USCAP Issues Call for Action on Global Climate Change

Glad to see business getting behind this and I agree that immediate action is both necessary and possible. Germany already generates only about half as much CO2 per person as Canada and the US. It is highly industrialized, very affluent and its renewable energy potential is much lower, so there is no reason, we shouldn't be able to duplicate that feat.

How about:
- an immediate moratorium on construction of new coal fired power plants,
- banning the sale of standard light bulbs, raising minimum energy efficiency standards for appliances,
- a very quick phase-in of higher minimum (not just average) mileage ratings for vehicles, and
- lower residential electricity prices for the minimum amount required for a reasonable standard of comfort, combined with much higher prices for incremental usage over and above that amount.

Most of all, how about a revenue neutral carbon tax!

January 25, 2007

Wind Power Capacity in U.S. Increased 27% in 2006

"With world wide growth in wind and solar reducing carbon in the air, Are we in trouble of having too little carbon in the air?"

I had assumed that this was sarcasm, but, if not, Mr. Berry needs to keep in mind that wind turbines don't remove carbon from the atmosphere, they just allow us to reduce the amount that we are adding. Total North American installed capacity is still a tiny fraction of total generation capacity, let alone total energy used (including transportation, etc). What we really need to do is to increase the rate of increase - a couple of years of doubling installed capacity might put us on the right course.

January 25, 2007

Strong Support for Offshore Wind Power in Delaware

Why is it that I never hear of camouflage painting for wind turbines? Inasmuch as an ocean horizon tends to be shrouded in a certain amount of haze, I find it hard to believe that the turbines couldn't be painted in such a way as to make them largely invisible from 6 miles distance. Inasmuch as visibility is worse on cloudy days and people are more apt to want to spend time outdoors on nice days, perhaps the way to go is to optimize the paint scheme to hide the turbines on nice days.

January 05, 2007

Unleashing the Power of the UK's Mersey River

Well said, Patrick Rainey!

December 15, 2006

Study Finds Mixed Prairie Grasses Better Source of Biofuel

I was going to say that this is some of the best news I've heard in years, but now I'm a bit confused.

I would find it helpful, if Roger Samson could clarify the points he was trying to make about his own studies and the study mentioned in this article.

Re. it would also be helpful if Janaka Ratnasiri could cite the study that supports his claims, as it seems a bit surprising that these reseachers could have missed a full 75% of the energy potential of corn biomass.

The part that matters most to me is not how much energy it creates per acre, but how much carbon does it displaces and how sustainable it is, i.e., mixed prairie grass can grow forever with no fertilizer and it will just keep improving the soil. Monocultures exhaust the soil and require more pesticide.

December 08, 2006

Solar Cell Breaks the 40% Efficiency Barrier

A number of the units that use mirrors to concentrate heat for thermal power generation look much the same as the solar concentrator mirrors on the Spectrolab website. Does anyone know whether enough waste heat is generating to allow for a co-gen type application?

Does the $0.08 to $0.10 per kwh estimate already allow for any energy recovery from the coolant?

November 16, 2006

Environmental Footprints of Renewable Energy vs. Nuclear

The main problem with this line of reasoning is that 60 acres per Mw is NOT the footprint for a wind turbine. What is under a footprint is for all other intents and purposes flattened, while what is under a wind turbine is, for the most part, unchanged. A farmer doesn't take his/her farm out of production, when wind turbines are installed. At most a little bit of land is lost to some incremental service roads.

And, as others point out, the footprint of construction and waste disposal is enormous for nukes. Then there is the terrorism risk (and expense) that they create.

As for bird kill, I have been told that it tends to be proportional to surface area. How many hundreds (or thousands), of turbines would be required to equal the surface area of a nuclear power plant and cooling tower? And if bird kill is a good argument against wind turbines, what those "sincere" advocates for birds ought to focus on is preventing construction of tall buildings. I won't hold my breath.

February 08, 2007

Environmental Footprints of Renewable Energy vs. Nuclear

The bird kill problems are bogus. Bird kill is more a function of things like surface area (and proximity to flight paths). Therefore, tall buildings are a far greater threat to birds. And, I hadn't thought of cars, but I'd be willing to bet that there are a lot more dead birds next to roads than wind turbines. Hmmm, I wonder why the same people aren't the same people calling for their elimination?

February 08, 2007

Environmental Footprints of Renewable Energy vs. Nuclear

The footprint argument is also bogus. The footprint should only consider the amount of land that each technology eliminates from use for other purposes. Wind turbines only take a tiny fraction of the land they sit on out of production. I.e., the area of the base of the turbines and the net increase in roads over and above the farm lanes that already exist on a property. Then there is the full cycle footprint and the duration of the footprint. Wind farms can be dismantled in weeks and the footprint will disappear. It is not clear that nuclear reactors and fuel plants can ever be returned to everyday use, so much of the land is likely to be lost for ever (or at least many years longer than the useful life of the plant). And for those worried about views, I'll take wind turbines over reactor domes and cooling towers, any day!

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