lawrence elliott's Comments

September 28, 2013

Six Myths About Renewable Energy, and Seven Answers

As Johnson notes in his article, “there's no technical reason renewable energy can't provide 80% of the power in the U.S. by midcentury.”

Provide 80% of the power??
How we delude ourselves.

What does this statement even mean?

So we have %80 of our power from renewables and the number of those who need it
keeps getting smaller as not one electron can ever be practically converted to more land,fresh water and especially more liquid fuels needed to keep transportation moving ( all electric transport by 2050 is at best a dream) and just how do we feed another billion souls without the current massive injection of over 10 units of fossil energy for each unit of calorie.

Yes let's keep focused on renewable energy such as PV and wind so that we can keep ignoring the 800lb elephant in the room that will eventually crush us.

September 29, 2013

Six Myths About Renewable Energy, and Seven Answers

@P J Van Staden

I would think that discussion or debate over Mr Kazantsev's version of the hydrogen economy, (yes remember that gratefully dead nonsense sold with the same hype) algae bio diesel,ethanol "fuel" or perhaps zero point free energy magnetic motors that avoid the limitations of the first and second law of thermodynamics , could be entertaining but it's no more a solution to anything as all the other 'pie in the sky' attempts at whistling past the "we have painted ourselves into a catastrophic energy corner" graveyard.

Getting flattened by his water balloon would be the least of our worries.

September 29, 2013

Six Myths About Renewable Energy, and Seven Answers

@ A G Gelbert

Wow! How did I miss this one?

"I will post a blog here within a week detailing how we can, in less than 10 years, switch WORLDWIDE to 100% renewable energy. "

It is nonsense such as this statement that fuels the knuckle-draggers.
You know.
The Faux News viewers (or should I say 'receptors or vessels' as they are daily injected with mind numbing pablum and dogma)

I can see it now
A plastic barbie doll talking head with the requisite two or three male drones in traditional monkey suits and ties displaying this statement and saying "see our conservative cult is correct once more.The evil liberal greens live in an altered universe. Now go vote like good Republicans and shut up about that communist global warming scam"

And how about the fossil fuel addicts and oil pimps (who actually pay the plastic Barbie and her drones) that conveniently use these mindless statements to show that the so called greens live in La La land.

I must say though that as someone who has been heavily involved in renewable energy technologies and sustainable methods for over 40 years I hear far too much of this simplistic crap. Perhaps it's that like all homo sapiens we prefer to create fantasy and myth to soothe our fears of a reality we continue to ignore. The myths and fantasies don't tax our brains to address reality.

I would spend some electrons here to give substance to my argument that this statement the "%100" is nonsense and fantasy but it would be like trying to debate how many angels dance on the head of pins.

In other words a waste of electrons

Sad to say but most posts, even here, where folks should be more enlightened we continue to see far too much belief in the fantasy of %100 renewable energy fueling essentially a global cancer that can and eventually will kill its host.

Dog save us all.

September 29, 2013

Six Myths About Renewable Energy, and Seven Answers

@P J Van Staden

A man once asked his friend "so what do you think of this beautiful forest"?

His friend replied "I don't know since I can't see it for all the trees".

You made my point perfectly

You perhaps just don't know it

As I said

Dog save us all

September 29, 2013

Six Myths About Renewable Energy, and Seven Answers

@P J

I'm not surprised at your comments

Not certain why that dog would be so hungry for a stake though.
Perhaps a steak but then that's not just a splinter of wood is it?

Yes I have little surprise anymore as even PHD Classically Trained Economics (not certain there is any actual real training for such a non scientific 'voodoo' discipline but that's for another time) believe in magic fairies. You know the ones that step in any time an oil well finally runs bone dry,with not a drop to pump, and yet in the economists world and apparently also in the world of the magic fairies,when a certain price point in the demand/supply curve is met a flood of money will be created and just like Jack in the Bean Stock the magic beans (borrowed money they like to call capital which by the way has no intrinsic value unless backed up by the value of an endless stream of more and more crude oil) the well will revive somehow and the Giant in the Sky will bestow on all of us another gift of black 'heroine' for yet another fix and yet one more massive suburb created with a new fleet of SUV's complete with GPS for directions to the next cross street to yet another numbing suburb with an address known as The Geography of Nowhere.

This may appear to be a silly rant and some form of made up nonsense.

Perhaps it is

But no more so than the wishful thinking involved in a delusion that simply because a few humans can think of all sorts of fancy inventions (remember an Iphone cannot feed you or keep you warm. (Well depends on whether you like plastic for dinner and perhaps can warm your freezing hands over a smoldering cell phone) that they can also somehow violate all the laws of nature and especially the first and second laws of thermodynamics and presto changeo the magic fairies (in this case apparently divinely inspired technologists) will keep all of this current Petro chemical theatrical tragedy alive for at least one more encore.

I believe it was in the movie The Graduate where Dustin Hoffman was given the secret to his future success. It was all about plastics he was told.

Well when you think about the magic beans and our transformation to a %100 renewable world keep in mind the word capital.

Capital exists primarily because of sources of energy and massive amounts of capital exist because of massive amounts of energy almost cheap enough to be called free.
In spite of the oil industries huge need for capital the end result is still a source of energy so dirt cheap that you can transport several thousand pounds over a mile and a half on less than 20 cents worth of dead dinosaurs. Try getting someone to carry you that same mile and one half on a pedi cab or richshaw and for the same 20 cents and the same speed. Sure that will happen.

And please spare me the "well electric vehicles can go farther on less money."
And just how does it do that when there's no ready source of 28 gallons of crude oil just to produce the tires it rolls on. And that's just tires. How about the millions and millions of miles of tarmac better known as crude oil waste that it rides on? That also needs almost constant replacement?
Yeah we'll pave with a mixture of french fry grease and some pig fat.

No it is time for all to wake up and smell the crude oil or lack thereof.

Maybe not today and maybe not even tomorrow but eventually no amount of magic beans or a benevolent giant in the sky will be bestowing one more black,slimy,toxic fix to preserve the current skilled prestidigitator now on stage entertaining us.

One thing without question and simply based on fundamental geology and physics? The lights will finally go out and we will be politely ushered out to a darkened street called reality. But then it will be too late as we stumble around in the dim glow of those further dimming LED street lights recently installed in a futile attempt to simply keep us running in place in attempts to keep the Energy Grim Reaper at bay.

Of course we will at least still have a few magic beans left over. Wont' we?

September 30, 2013

Six Myths About Renewable Energy, and Seven Answers

@ A G Gelbert

Please,Please,Please tell me that you referenced my comments as a quote because you feel I in fact DO NOT feel fossil fuels are truly cost effective but that you used it for some other reason.

I have been promoting and been heavily involved in the renewable energy and sustainability movement for over 40 years and in the many times when I make the effort to instruct,convince,enlighten,etc, others in the benefits of renewable energy and sustainable practices I have never been told "can you be more specific and deliver your message in a more clear and concise manner". In general it has been the exact opposite.

So having said that I still affirm and reiterate that anyone who makes a statement that somehow we can transition from the current fossil fuel reality to an entirely new paradigm of total renewable energies without massive and fundamental changes in what we consider a normal lifestyle is either delusional,badly misinformed,engaging in wishful thinking or perhaps all of the above.

Anyone willing to take the time to look clearly, rationally and dispassionately at how we got into this current terribly self destructive and non sustainable reality can see that there are several basic and fundamental parts of that reality that must and will be abandoned and discarded in order for a much smaller and more sustainable world population to make some rational sense of their future existence. You never paint yourself into a corner without making a big mess in getting out.

I challenge anyone who wishes to come well armed to debate me and many others who feel similarly inclined ,that ignoring the less than attractive changes needed before we can ever see renewable energies truly once again (surprise we in fact did do this at one time) to become our primary energy source are on a 'fools errand' and are doomed to failure.

It's all about basic geology,physics and other fundamental principals that govern our lives in spite of our best efforts to ignore or attempt to circumvent them simply because those non negotiable elemental challenges don't give you a great feeling of hope and euphoria.

Perhaps those who are seeking temporary euphoria should begin cultivating a couple of marijuana plants and just leaning back and taking a toke.

You'll get far more from that than you will from all the wishful thinking I see coming from many in the renewable energy industry today.

Sad but true
Now let's let Dog sort things out shall we

October 01, 2013

Six Myths About Renewable Energy, and Seven Answers

@ A G Gelbert
"Of course some pretty massive belt tightening and reduction of individual carbon footprint is required in order for Homo sap to enter into a symbiotic, and thereby sustainable, relationship with the biosphere. Of course the odds are pretty lousy that we will be able to do so. "

This statement sums it up pretty well doesn't it?
Especially the odds.

Let's look at the first part.
Massive belt tightening = massive reduction in overall consumption of just about everything we now produce in vast quantities to keep the current system afloat.
This in itself is a self defeating effort as capital formation and more specifically MASSIVE capital formation will not happen. This formation is not just an important component in our transition to a more sustainable renewable energy based life but it is THE component. Without it nothing else matters.

Another key to all of this is time. Just when do we begin this transition?
Should have started at the very least with Jimmy Carter. Of course we know how all that panned out don't we.
The efforts we are seeing so far are similar to what a flea is to a whale.
Just look at the so called emerging economies.
They all want to live the same sick suburban consumer life American's have lived during this short blip of time ever since we drilled our first oil wells.
We take one step forward to renewable energy and lower carbon footprint and they pull us back ten steps. And doing all of this while one barrel of crude is discovered for each six consumed. Anyone see a pattern emerging here?

America is the largest consumer overall of all energy and resources on the planet,and China is overtaking us rapidly. And China is the equivalent of four America's in terms of population.

Even a casual look at what we are doing in terms of meeting the goals outlined in the statement above shows we are not even approaching the status of the flea yet alone creating a whale of an effort.

I watched a 2meg array going up this past summer just 10 miles from here.
I also watched a massive suburb being built that with even so called energy efficiency standards demands will exceed that 2 meg by a wide margin and that does not even include the gasoline to fuel the fleet of massive SUV's and 'modern day buckboards with disc brakes' (massive pickup trucks that never pick up much beyond a bag of groceries) that sit in the driveways.
BTW at noon today that 2meg will be more like 50kw. The elite technologists haven't emerged from their holy laboratories yet to figure out yet another app for an IPhone that clears the sky on demand as we enjoy another Latte while driving to work in a Tesla Model S. But of course back home the natural gas furnace is operating to keep things (not people for the most part) warm. Natural gas supplied at the price of a bucket of dirt that flows from the fracked wells we all like to demonize.

I'm quite certain this example is duplicated all across America every day.

I think it boils down to this

Look around the room you are in,carefully think of what it is you are seeing as you drive to work today,ask yourself "am I doing anything at all of substance that helps to mitigate the damage to the environment and my continued addiction to a finite substance that I claim to hate"?

I think for just about all of us the answer is no.

Hell America installs just a tiny fraction of even PV each year that other countries do.

Does that sound like a society that sees the headlight up ahead and is preparing to get out of the way of that speeding crude oil train?

A resounding NO.

Does that make me a pessimist?

A realist?

I'm ready to have that debate.

If only those who wish real change and those who should be representing them in the halls of government would at a minimum appear to give lip service to a debate and some real action.

Unfortunately the vast majority of us will be entertained in arguing which 'pie in the sky silver bullet' will manage to finally kill off all the problems fossil fuels and the resultant unsustainable life that generates, so that we can continue our unsustainable life on non fossil fuel sources that at least relieves us of our guilt over the destructive results that life achieves.

Now that's not delusional.
That's pathological.

October 01, 2013

Six Myths About Renewable Energy, and Seven Answers

@ P J Van Staden

Miss the point?
Depends on the point

Let's see if you can digest this one without resorting to stories about the Boer War that have no relevance to any of this conversation.

Let's assume the nut cases who profess a belief in something called Abiotic Oil are correct.

You know the theory that oil is constantly generated underground as a natural process and we will never run out no matter how much we pump.
Those nutcases?

In our perfect fantasy world we have endless crude oil
It also causes no pollution of any kind and in fact is good for us in some way

It's totally benign and has no downside at all as far as it being an energy source
By itself it is a perfect silver bullet.

That is your set of tracks

If you continue to use this source in supporting the current structure of society without any fundamental changes you will still eventually starve due to overpopulation and create a total destruction of any ability to grow food even if the population was stable.
And that's the least of the damage.

In all of this discussion I hear not even one whisper of any mention of a fundamental change in how any and all energies are used. And I don't mean switching to LED's and checking tire pressures.

It is not the type of energy that will sink us.

It will be how we use it and for what purposes.

Don't change how it is used and all the renewable energy in the world will be for nothing

That is the point

And yes I get it

In reference to your battle?

I would certainly not even be willing to be part of any army led by someone who, like Hitler, believed in an ability of slick technologies to make him a winner while ignoring other realities that had far more weight in the eventual outcome.

Those who blindly followed this fool to their doom, in the back of their minds, probably had the nagging thought that perhaps reliance on only a technology, that ignored the immutable drive for freedom most people have, finally would be his undoing.
And the rest is history.

See I can come up with stories and ignore a substantive real debate too.

Visitors to my home and shop regularly tell me "wow! You really are trying like hell to not be a part of the problem but instead a part of the solution"

When was the last time you were told that?

That does not seem to make me a person who gives up easily or lacks hope.
It just says I prefer to be aware of which 'hill to die on' and avoid hills that have no chance of ever being scaled.

October 01, 2013

Six Myths About Renewable Energy, and Seven Answers

@ P J Van Staden


September 20, 2013

Top 10 Scariest Challenges for the Biofuels Industry

@Cliff Claven

"The fact is that most of the energy for biofuels at scale is stolen from fossil fuels"

All one has to do is keep this statement at the forefront of any discussion of a bio fuels' future or lack thereof.

Any other details are just a moot point and of no real substance.

It all boils down to the fact that our current reality will not,cannot and should not be attempted to be sustained as currently constructed. When our planet finally runs out of the black heroin better known as crude oil, all that exists based on this addiction will be gone.

Just as a solar panel or a windmill will never get a 747 off the ground, let alone keep one in the air,electrons and 'modern day alchemists' will never manage to keep all of our current oil based illusions alive.

Ancient Alchemists could not turn lead into gold and modern day alchemists will never turn a severely overpopulated consumerism mad planet into a techno utopia with bio grease and 'green' electrons.

Remember that the Titanic was sold as 'impossible to sink' by the techno's of the day.

That bravado did little for those who fell for the lie and ended up 'sleeping with the fishes'.

Let's all get into the 'reality' lifeboats and we still may have a chance.

October 01, 2013

Top 10 Scariest Challenges for the Biofuels Industry

@Fred Lane

Easily doubling thermal efficiency of an ICE is easy?
Perhaps in the lab under ideal conditions

And the economics changes somehow?

If ethanol has only about 60% of the energy content (thermal lower heating value that you refer to) and you double the efficiency (highly questionable at best since there is far more in play than compression ratio) aren't you still back to square one?

Gasoline from crude oil (Satan's honey) giving twenty miles on one gallon @ $1/gallon
Ethanol giving twenty miles on one gallon after squeezing out 2x efficiency @ $1/gallon (with massive subsidizes and we just ignore the massive damage growing the corn (with more massive subsidizes or other bio mass as well as the coal fired electricity (with more subsidizes) and natural gas (with more off balance sheet expenses to the environment) needed to process it.

Time to just give it up
Ethanol at scale that does not use feedstock from a form of permaculture operation is just another energy sink.

lawrence elliott

lawrence elliott

40 + years of working directly and indirectly in renewable energy and energy efficiency Everything from engineering systems to doing the actual wrenching to get them up and running Also live what I preach on a daily basis and try to do...

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