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Old 08-01-2008, 08:58 AM   #1
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Is alternative energy as we know it today a good Idea?

Is alternative energy as we know it today a good Idea?

The politicians and enviromentalists have so many people believing that alternative energy is going to save the planet. But will be doing more harm than good???

Here are my opinions why it may work on a small scale but more study is needed before we go to a large scale change.

1. IF today they came out with a Electric car/hydrogen car/CNG car/Solar car etc that would perform and have the range of a Gasoline engined car it would take aproximately 16 years to replace all the cars in the USA alone.
This is based on that last year there were 250 million cars in the USA, and dividing that by the number of cars sold last year. also assuming that nobody that bought one would buy another one before every car was replaced, and each car traded in would be destroyed and the materials recycled never to be used again.
2. Even If we invented a new Battery and solar cells that would equal the range of a gas powered car, What are other natural resources that would probably be used in their manufacture. also what polution would the disposal of these batteries with their exotic materials cause?
3. How many people will be electrocuted or burned to death by one of these new Electric Cars? With high currents and voltages in the cars, they would have to be able to withstand an high speed accident without causing a short circuit that may electrocute passengers, safety workers, or even cause a fire
4. Hydrogen power.. now they say Hydrogen is the most abundent naturally occuring fuel we have. This is true, but what if we start extracting it from our oceans and atmosphere at such a great rate needed to fuel our economy. What kind of environmental impact will that cause? They say burning Hydrogen only expells Water vapor from the tailpipe, introduction of that much water vapor into the atmosphere from millions of cars could effect our weather!!!
5. Wind Power, They are saying we could put millions of wind turbines out in the midwest to make electricity. But if we did could all those large spinning blades going through the air possibly change the airflow patterns and change the weather patterns across the country? And what would happen when a tornado came through and ripped out many of them, would oure electric rates jump just as they do now when a hurricane threatens the oil production in the gulf?

These are just a few of the questions I have, I have not ever seen anyone asking things like this, I have many more questions that concern me.

There will not be any quick fix for our problem, but we do need to produce more of every form of energy we have available to us now and push forward the development of new energy technologies, but not until we know what problems our kids and grandkids may be facing because of any quick rash changes we make today.

Feel free to post any questions that concern you about alternative energy.
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Old 08-01-2008, 10:30 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skyman 08 View Post
1. IF today they came out with a Electric car/hydrogen car/CNG car/Solar car etc that would perform and have the range of a Gasoline engined car it would take aproximately 16 years to replace all the cars in the USA alone.
This is based on that last year there were 250 million cars in the USA, and dividing that by the number of cars sold last year. also assuming that nobody that bought one would buy another one before every car was replaced, and each car traded in would be destroyed and the materials recycled never to be used again.
I don't feel that that's a valid argument. Just because it's not going to fix our problems now, doesn't mean it shouldn't be done. Abandoning a project because it's going to take a while to get to a final result is a bad idea...

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2. Even If we invented a new Battery and solar cells that would equal the range of a gas powered car, What are other natural resources that would probably be used in their manufacture. also what polution would the disposal of these batteries with their exotic materials cause?
True. Yet we don't know what we've invented yet, if you take my meaning.
It is possible that some new battery, or any electrical-engery storage tech will arise that requires a space no bigger than a laptop battery to power your car... Just saying.
In any event, I agree; right now, I'm not sure we could put our current battery tech into all the vehicles in the road due to lack of resources. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't put it in SOME. This goes along with the whole energy diversity idea. Relying on ONE sole source of energy is stupid. We're seeing the results of that stupidity with Oil..........


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Originally Posted by Skyman 08 View Post
3. How many people will be electrocuted or burned to death by one of these new Electric Cars? With high currents and voltages in the cars, they would have to be able to withstand an high speed accident without causing a short circuit that may electrocute passengers, safety workers, or even cause a fire.
If gasoline were to be introduced RIGHT NOW as a new "alternative fuel"...it'd be shot down in a heartbeat. It's expolsive, you know!?!

Current electric cars (see: Tesla Roadster) have built-in saftey systems that isolate parts of the battery if one part of it experiences a "thermal event". This prevents the whole battery from exploding all at once. It also has sensors (similar to airbag deployment) that sever any electrical connections thought to possibly electricute passengers and/or rescue crews. In many senses, an electric car is safer than our gasoline-powered cars.

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Originally Posted by Skyman 08 View Post
4. Hydrogen power.. now they say Hydrogen is the most abundent naturally occuring fuel we have. This is true, but what if we start extracting it from our oceans and atmosphere at such a great rate needed to fuel our economy. What kind of environmental impact will that cause? They say burning Hydrogen only expells Water vapor from the tailpipe, introduction of that much water vapor into the atmosphere from millions of cars could effect our weather!!!
I'm no ecologist...but I don't think it'd do too much damage. If it's from water (it's most abundant location), then the end result is water. Water vapor, yes...but that's just because it gets hot. Cool the vapor, and you've got liquid water again. So no harm done there. If weather becomes an issue...it's a real quick fix: retro fit vehicles with an exhaust-radiator that will condense the vaper into water; or design them like that from the get-go.

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5. Wind Power, They are saying we could put millions of wind turbines out in the midwest to make electricity. But if we did could all those large spinning blades going through the air possibly change the airflow patterns and change the weather patterns across the country? And what would happen when a tornado came through and ripped out many of them, would oure electric rates jump just as they do now when a hurricane threatens the oil production in the gulf?
I dunno about the Tornados thing. But a few Turbines (in the grand scheme of things; it is a 'few') aren't going to be enough to alter wind patterns. Literally, the EARTH generates them. (See: Coriolis force + solar heating) Unless you start altering the rotation or tilt of the earth, the winds will continue to blow just like they have been.

EDIT: Maybe the tornado-scale winds could provide a surge of power that would last us through the rebuliding/repairing of the turbines!

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Originally Posted by Skyman 08 View Post
These are just a few of the questions I have, I have not ever seen anyone asking things like this, I have many more questions that concern me.
At the risk of sounding arrogant; I'd love to hear them. I like to answer these questions more for my own benefit than anything else. I want to know if my opinions on this matter is grounded or not: if I know what I'm talking about. These questions are unique.

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Originally Posted by Skyman 08 View Post
There will not be any quick fix for our problem, but we do need to produce more of every form of energy we have available to us now and push forward the development of new energy technologies, but not until we know what problems our kids and grandkids may be facing because of any quick rash changes we make today.
As one of those "grandkids" (well...20...but you get my point), I would at the very least like your generation to set us up for success. Build the turbines, make the ethanol, start Hydrogen production, etc. Let us work out the kinks. It will be far less trouble for us, than to let you have a debate till the end of time about whether or not your grandkids will encounter any issues. You know we will; there's no escaping it. Our generation is going to be centered around energy: Production, conservation, efficiency. So at least get us started, there's no time for delay.
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Old 08-01-2008, 03:15 PM   #3
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mega-post coming to address all questions. Tune it later tonight . . .
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Old 08-01-2008, 03:25 PM   #4
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Regardless of time or effort, you can't write off an innovative idea. Eventually, gasoline cars became the primary mode of transportation over horses and carts. Someday, we'll see more electric transportation. There's a lot of potential in these new technologies, and you can't discount that potential based on how long or how much effort is necessary for implementation. Good ideas sometimes take a while.
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Old 08-02-2008, 04:43 PM   #5
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internet was down last night, but here is the post that I promised
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skyman 08 View Post
Is alternative energy as we know it today a good Idea?
As we know it today? No
Quote:
The politicians and enviromentalists have so many people believing that alternative energy is going to save the planet. But will be doing more harm than good???
Potentially but I doubt it. If its replacing gasoline and fossil fuels it would be hard to make matters worse than they already are
Quote:
Here are my opinions why it may work on a small scale but more study is needed before we go to a large scale change.

1. IF today they came out with a Electric car/hydrogen car/CNG car/Solar car etc that would perform and have the range of a Gasoline engined car it would take aproximately 16 years to replace all the cars in the USA alone.
This is based on that last year there were 250 million cars in the USA, and dividing that by the number of cars sold last year. also assuming that nobody that bought one would buy another one before every car was replaced, and each car traded in would be destroyed and the materials recycled never to be used again.
Yes, and? The general belief is that it would take at least 20 years for gasoline to be seriously rivaled. Thankfully there is at least 100 years worth of oil out there. The market for vehicles in North America has been on a slow growth for decades, there is the ocasional bad year. I've heard that it is something like for every 20 cars sold, 19 get scraped. Keep in mind that in addtion to trade ins, there are also write offs from the hundreds of thousands of accidents per year.
Quote:
2. Even If we invented a new Battery and solar cells that would equal the range of a gas powered car, What are other natural resources that would probably be used in their manufacture. also what polution would the disposal of these batteries with their exotic materials cause?
The majority of exotic materials are valuable enough to be recycled. Plus any pollution that is caused is concentrated rather than dispersed, limiting the impact. As far as resources go for powering electric cars, solar cells are made primarily from sand (solar isn't powerful enough to power cars though). Lithium is mined as a salt and electrolysis is used to separate the metal from the chlorine.

Quote:
3. How many people will be electrocuted or burned to death by one of these new Electric Cars? With high currents and voltages in the cars, they would have to be able to withstand an high speed accident without causing a short circuit that may electrocute passengers, safety workers, or even cause a fire
Existing car batteries already carry enough power to kill people yet there are no concerns about them. Also, there isn't as much fuel for fires in an electric car. There isn't any gasoline and the amount of lubrication oil is grealy reduced. The batteries themselves would be designed so that they don't catch fire either. Remember, the alternative is gasoline which will leak out of a ruptured gas tank and pool around the car, waiting to be ignited.

Quote:
4. Hydrogen power.. now they say Hydrogen is the most abundent naturally occuring fuel we have. This is true, but what if we start extracting it from our oceans and atmosphere at such a great rate needed to fuel our economy. What kind of environmental impact will that cause? They say burning Hydrogen only expells Water vapor from the tailpipe, introduction of that much water vapor into the atmosphere from millions of cars could effect our weather!!!
Water is also an exhaust gas from the burning of fossil fuels. hydrogen fuel cells could result in less water vapour being released into the atmosphere than conventional cars create. But either way, it will not be anything compared to the amount that evaporates from the pacific ocean every day.
Quote:
5. Wind Power, They are saying we could put millions of wind turbines out in the midwest to make electricity. But if we did could all those large spinning blades going through the air possibly change the airflow patterns and change the weather patterns across the country? And what would happen when a tornado came through and ripped out many of them, would oure electric rates jump just as they do now when a hurricane threatens the oil production in the gulf?
wind turbines can't change the direction of the wind. I don't know for sure, but I think that they are fairly resilient to high wind loads. The turbine itself will turn with the wind, and the tower itself is very aerodynamic. The turbine blades adjust to prevent damage to the generator

Quote:
These are just a few of the questions I have, I have not ever seen anyone asking things like this, I have many more questions that concern me.
Ask away
Quote:
There will not be any quick fix for our problem, but we do need to produce more of every form of energy we have available to us now and push forward the development of new energy technologies, but not until we know what problems our kids and grandkids may be facing because of any quick rash changes we make today.

Feel free to post any questions that concern you about alternative energy.
Agreed. Now to include my views on alternative energy.

Most alternatives will not be able to make any serious dent in usage. More can be done by reducing consumption rather than adding energy. This goes for cars as well as the electrical grid. 1% fewer cars on the road results in 1% less gasoline consumed. Better driving habits can result in even more fuel savings, say 5%. Then replace some gasoline with ethanol, later with hydrogen, and add in some electric cars and you have made a serious impact.

On the electrical side of things it is much the same story. 1% of people and businesses could probably take themselves off the grid by installing solar panels or turbines. More can be saved by replacing light bulbs with compact florescent, or simply turning lights off when your out of the room. Run things the dishwasher at night to reduce peak demand. Then build some wind and nuclear power plants to replace coal and your are all set
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Old 08-02-2008, 05:42 PM   #6
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Thanks for the responses

The main point I was really trying to make was that we don't know what impact we well have with alternaive forms of energy when we try to apply it in large scale.

Small scale use does not always show what we will face in 100 years of using another form of energy. could anyone forsee back in 1900 what using fossil fuels would cause today? Everything many have said on here may be true as we know today, but we will not know what problems they could cause if we went "off the deep end" and jumped to something just to stop using fossil fuels.

I think there is too much panic right now fueled by Know nothng politicians and the media. One politician in particular is causing the biggest stink. and he does not even practice what he preaches, the biggest hypocrite of them all.

Many people think we can ween ourselves off fossil fuels in 10 to 20 years, the point I was making about the autos being replaced just shows how impossible it would be in just that area. and that is if we already had the answers.
Maybe we can do it in 50 years AFTER we have a economical safe and dependeble replacement. We just do not know when we will even have that replacement
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Old 08-02-2008, 05:59 PM   #7
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Many people think we can ween ourselves off fossil fuels in 10 to 20 years, the point I was making about the autos being replaced just shows how impossible it would be in just that area. and that is if we already had the answers.
That does scare me a little. I've heard it a few places, now...and the best metaphor I can think of is: Have you ever walked out of a warm shower in the middle of winter when the bathroom window was open? BIG shock!

But at the end of the day, I'd rather have made a mistake trying to progress, and fix things; than dilly-dally and debate what to do forever.
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Old 08-02-2008, 09:27 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Donald Rumsfeld
As we know,
There are known knowns.
There are things we know we know.
We also know there are known unknowns.
That is to say we know there are some things we do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns,
The ones we don't know we don't know.
I think that applies here pretty good.
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Old 08-02-2008, 11:22 PM   #9
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The biggest question for me when it comes to alternative fuels/propulsion, etc. is "when"? There's all these fascinating ideas tossed around in the media, in the classroom, the laboratory, and so on. Yet, they're all just that, ideas. Nothing seems to be making any real progress towards becoming a tangible good to you, myself or anyone else. Of course it's all politics that supresses the expansion and distribution of these new ideas that hold great potential and many benefits for all of us, and the environment.
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Old 08-04-2008, 06:13 AM   #10
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The biggest question for me when it comes to alternative fuels/propulsion, etc. is "when"? There's all these fascinating ideas tossed around in the media, in the classroom, the laboratory, and so on. Yet, they're all just that, ideas. Nothing seems to be making any real progress towards becoming a tangible good to you, myself or anyone else. Of course it's all politics that supresses the expansion and distribution of these new ideas that hold great potential and many benefits for all of us, and the environment.
When.. now there is a question nobody can answer. I am sure that the best minds in the world are working on it and have been for many years. The problem is all the technologies we have today are too costly to implement. in other words it is not economically fesible for a company to invest in something that will not return profits for them. Maybe, Just maybe these large increases in oil prices have been driven by a group wanting to make these new technologies economically fesible. not necessarilly more afforadable, but less expensive that fossil fuels... That way they can not only make a killing on fossil fuels but on the alternate energy sources.
I don't think the politicians are smart enough or could work together enought to do that.

I work for a medium sized Chemical company. Before the 1980's All our Chemicals and plastics were derived from Oil. Our company was the first to develope a profitable way of creating chemicals from Coal. Because of this we have been less effected by the increase in Oil prices than other chemical companies. Now we have been doing this for over 25 years, and we have licensed our technology to other companies. Although Coal is a Fossil fuel, the way we use it is cleaner and safer than other uses for coal. plus in this area it is very abundant.
I am sure our company is also working on new technologies that will eventually replace coal. It just takes time to do that, and until that time comes we need to do everything we can to keep our economy stable, and if that means drilling for more oil and building more refineries then I say do it.
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Old 08-04-2008, 07:11 AM   #11
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But at the end of the day, I'd rather have made a mistake trying to progress, and fix things; than dilly-dally and debate what to do forever.
Thants the same kind of thinking when we had a similar problem with the FDA and drugs. People were complaining about how long it takes a drug to be approved by the FDA. well they revamped their approval process to speed it up, cutting some corners in testing, and what do we get now, LAWSUITS because of drug side effects or some that cause death.

It is best to move slowly and with sufficent testing before moving to large scale applications.
In the meantime we need to keep the economy moving and the only way to do that is expand the domestic production of proven energy sources. Fossil fuels and Nuclear power.
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Old 08-04-2008, 08:50 AM   #12
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Thants the same kind of thinking when we had a similar problem with the FDA and drugs. People were complaining about how long it takes a drug to be approved by the FDA. well they revamped their approval process to speed it up, cutting some corners in testing, and what do we get now, LAWSUITS because of drug side effects or some that cause death.

It is best to move slowly and with sufficent testing before moving to large scale applications.
In the meantime we need to keep the economy moving and the only way to do that is expand the domestic production of proven energy sources. Fossil fuels and Nuclear power.
I see what you mean...but that has a direct impact on lives. There's no cutting corners involved with what I want the gov't to do. I just want them to stop talking, and DO something. Things keep advancing...too quickly for debate. Because now we'll have to debate the new tech...oh, damn -- here's something new we have to debate about...and the partisan bickering is driving me mad!!

For better or worse, I want things done quickly. Don't get me wrong: I don't want them to cut corners or deliever a poor system...so perhaps I should have said "As soon as possible". I'm of the opinion that if there is another great war; it is going to be over energy/oil. I don't want our country to have chips in that game...so I want out now, even if that means taking a leap of faith before mapping out the jump.
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Old 08-04-2008, 09:02 AM   #13
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I see what you mean...but that has a direct impact on lives. There's no cutting corners involved with what I want the gov't to do. I just want them to stop talking, and DO something. Things keep advancing...too quickly for debate. Because now we'll have to debate the new tech...oh, damn -- here's something new we have to debate about...and the partisan bickering is driving me mad!!

For better or worse, I want things done quickly. Don't get me wrong: I don't want them to cut corners or deliever a poor system...so perhaps I should have said "As soon as possible". I'm of the opinion that if there is another great war; it is going to be over energy/oil. I don't want our country to have chips in that game...so I want out now, even if that means taking a leap of faith before mapping out the jump.
I agree to some extent, we need out of that situation of middle eastern oil, and we could do it and do it is less than 5 years by using our own resources, while at the same time developing new ones, I don't mean not developing new alternatives to fossil fuels, I am just in favor of doing it along with increasing our own independent resources that are already available.

I have an Idea, To create an agency like NASA and have their one and only duty to create an alternate clean form of energy and have it available in less than 10 years. Similar to putting a man on the moon. Look at all the inventions and advancements we made just by doing that. Who knows what the Scientisits will come up with if left to their own imaginations... This instead of letting the politicians and enviromentalists argue over what to persue.

I just have a feeling the real answer to the energy problem has not been invented yet. but it may be just around the corner.
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Old 08-04-2008, 09:21 AM   #14
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I have an Idea, To create an agency like NASA and have their one and only duty to create an alternate clean form of energy and have it available in less than 10 years. Similar to putting a man on the moon. Look at all the inventions and advancements we made just by doing that. Who knows what the Scientisits will come up with if left to their own imaginations... This instead of letting the politicians and enviromentalists argue over what to persue.

I just have a feeling the real answer to the energy problem has not been invented yet. but it may be just around the corner.
Kind of along the lines of the Manhatten Project, right?
I like it!
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Old 08-04-2008, 11:05 AM   #15
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Kind of along the lines of the Manhatten Project, right?
I like it!
Yeah I think it is that important.
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Old 08-09-2008, 02:18 AM   #16
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If you guys really want to know just about everything about the direction of our future energy follow this link to the National Petroleum Council website. This is a 178 page report talking about everything from oil and gas to nuclear and alternatives as well as the issue of our lack of petrochemical and geoscience graduates and how it will all play out by 2030 and their recomendations. Very informative and lots of factual data you can spread around.

http://www.npchardtruthsreport.org/
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