Possible Alternative Energy Solutions

Don’t just just believe everything you hear.  Read it, listen to it and ask yourself questions: “Is this right for me?”  “Does this work?” “Can I explain it?”

At ElectricNick.com we strive to bring you news that is impartial and get you to ask crucial questions as does this technology make sense to you, why and how to explain it.  Simple, no?  Yet much needed.  Sean Brodrick at Money And Markets talked about alternative energy solutions.

So what’s going on? With talks of more drilling, nuclear power, hydrogen cars, solar power, seaweed power … you name it, every conceivable alternative is being brought up unfortunately backed a lobby in Washington.  Can politicians make the right technical choice?

First, ethanol.  Corn-based ethanol needs nearly as much energy to make a barrel and too much water with obvious effects on food and water price.  One third of our corn crop to produce 9.3 billion gallons for 2007/2008.

Second, oil from algae.  Although tantalizing, the reality is that the space required would offset the feasibility currently.  When technology evolves, and we believe it will, this will be an alternative

Third, hydrogen.  A few good points here: “hydrogen isn’t a fuel, it’s a storage medium”  With that in mind, hydrogen has to be generated by coal, nuclear, wind or water mills, solar, etc, then converted into hydrogen than reconverted back into electricity.  Seems like a round-about way to simply use electricity.  We have not allowed LNG storage capacities in the US because of remote chances of explosions.  Would millions of cars with hydrogen tanks driving on our streets be better?  Finally, one third of the energy is lost creating hydrogen, storing and reverting back to electricity.  100 kilowatts of electricity can drive an electric car 75 miles while a hydrogen fuel cell car of similar size can do only about 16 miles.  Questions worth pondering.

Fourth, shale oil.  To extract oil from oil shale you must dig up a rock and heat it to 700 Fahrenheit.  You can’t put it back, it expanded and became carcinogenic.  3 barrels of water are needed for 1 barrel of oil in dry Colorado where shale oil is most abundant?

According to Sean, three energies (plus one from us) that work right now.

First, wind power.  A Stanford University study showed that a wind power grid is as reliable as any.  The DoE estimates a grid of wind turbines stretching from the Canadian border to West Texas could supply 20% or more of the nation’s power by 2030.  This would fill the 39% gap growth estimated for 2030.  As with battery technology, costs go down with more research and applications.

Second, solar power.  Whether you use photovoltaic technology to converts photons into electricity or using the sun’s heat to boil liquids to turn a turbine, that is current technology.  Considering some states giving tax and rebate incentives to buy panels, it makes it a powerful contender.

Third, using electric vehicles to off-load demand on the grid.  We have talked about this here before.  With a vehicle-to-grid system, or V2G, keeping in mind only 20% of cars are in use at any time, the rest could work as load buffers for the grid.  The grid can support 180 million electric cars, 200 million is reachable.

Fourth, how about Geo-thermal energy? We would like to bring a great solution, geo-thermal energy.  By digging tubes deep enough to heat up water for turbines, we would have an abundant, environmentally safe and most of all, relatively cheap energy.

As always, there are plenty of solutions that must be carefully evaluated with critical thinking.