Thursday, January 26, 2006


Post and discuss


deb said...

Article on plug-in hybrids:

deb said...

Trying didn't all show up on the blog.

Judy B. said...

I am just trying to figure this system out...

John Ashman said...

Aren't hybrids bad for the environment?

Marilynn M said...

Why would they be? They use lots less fuel. Anything that uses less fuel is better for the enviroment.

Judy B. said...

John, what makes you think hybrids are bad for the environment?

skids said...

No, hybrids aren't bad for the environment. You should be at least as cynical of the news stories that GM plants as you are of hybrid technology advocates.

Hybrids use NiMH batteries. These batteries that pay for their own recycling costs (the nickel is worth enough.) In addition,automotive batteries of all types have the highest rate of recycling. That's because they are big and worth the trouble, as opposed to gadget/laptop batteries.

PHEVs will probably use Li-ion batteries but not the current stock, more like the ones from A123 systems, which are environmentally low impact.

Marilynn M said...

Submitted by Marilynn M. in Texas

I think the government should go into the solar and wind energy business. We have lots of bare land that is publicly owned. I'm all for private enterprise but it seems to me that sector is failing miserably in this area. Besides the government is all of us. We all use electricity, why shouldn't we have a part in producing it? It is renewable and goes on forever. We need clean sources of energy and the government could use the income from this to pay down the National debt. I'd like to see us get that under control.

john Ashman said...

That battery explanation sounds reasonable, I'll accept it until I see something different. I do believe we should do more nuclear, wind, solar, whatever. But there are people against all of that. The Audobon (?) Society hates windmills. West Texas needs to be a giant windmill farm. The wind there is horrific and annoying. There was recently a supposed breakthrough in solar cells using some plastic instead of silicon (?) as I recall. Supposed to drop the prices substantially once they can get it into production.

skids said...

john: Texas is indeed well on the way to becoming a massive wind farm -- the state is one of the leaders in wind deployment.

Most of the people opposed to wind are just NIMBYs/BANANAs that are being egged on by corporate agents. For example this whole thing about bird deaths was dealt with by the "big wind" industry years ago that make the turbines easy for birds to avoid, and most importantly, don't put a bird roosting environment right next to the windmill in the form of a trellis-style tower.

Solar price breakthroughs are very badly needed. We may see our first production small-solar concentrator systems this year, which is a great first step. Probably that will cut costs from $4 per peak watt to $2. Really we need to be at < $1, but it's a good step nonetheless.

Nuclear in a perfect world I'd agree with, but to be honest looking at the news about unreported tritium leaks in Chicago, rust holes in lids being hidden and covered up by management in Ohio, and fraud inside the industry I really think corporations have some purging to do before we can entrust them to run those machines. We've been relatively lucky so far but until we have a way to ensure only top-notch employees and engineers do that work (and we don't) it's a bad idea. Same crap you see going on in your workplace seems to be going on in those organizations. Picture your most braindead corporate top brass running a nuke. It makes me shudder.

Back to the subject of hybrids, it's understandable that many people have the misimpression that they are fools' gold. They are being told that by major media. Take the Wall Street Journal article -- here they compare prices of hybrids with so-called equivalent models. But if you actually look, for example, at the Honda civic you'll see they price-compared the LX to the hybrid. The civic hybrid has all the trim of the EX, missing only the sunroof, so naturally their figures were off. They never seem to mention that Toyota says they will be halving the cost of hybrid powertrain manufacturing in the next few years, either. (As an aside Honda's hybrid tech is pretty braindead compared to Ford's and Toyota's FWIW.)

Oh and then there was the much celebrated report that a Prius couldn't make it up Mt Washington. As it turns out, the driver had it in the wrong gear ("B" is only for use driving down mountains, not up) and when in the right gear ("D", duh.) the Prius made it up just fine. But even if the media issued a correction/retraction after yelling the story from the mountaintop, it was buried a week later in the fine print.

One has to take everything one reads with a grain of salt. Aside from whatever political bias there may or may not be, it's bought and payed for by corporate interests. Really, they cannot be trusted these days.

christin m p in massachusetts said...

Has any of you read about the mylar solar panels being developed by a mechanical engineer named Michael Costner? He's a consultant for a company called Aerospace Structural Research, which is located in his home town of Milford, Connecticut.

The expectation is that this new type of solar collector will pay itself off in less than five years, and that besides being able to provide electricity, it can also heat hot water.

Here is the address where I found that information:

christin m p in massachusetts said...

This blog format is getting easier with practice.

Judy B. said...

Have you heard about the new semitransparent solar cell technology, where a plastic film is used to transform windows into Powerglass?
While they are not as efficient as the solar panels, they are more versatile. Can you imagine the energy savings if skyscrapers were to use the solar power that now streams thru their windows?

skids said...

I "hear about" lots of solar innovations. It's when I hear a definite date for product release and when I hear about a large volume being produced that I start paying attention. (Seriously, there are tens of new solar cell technology in development -- what's working in a lab is not nearly as important as what factories have been built to produce.)

I diary on the inventions that are actually going into production (among other things) occassionally at dailykos:

Judy B. said...

Skids, there is an article in Business 2.0 about the transparent solar cells and Power Glass..
I agree, it is may not be in full production yet, the market will be the determining factor.
I will bet on this technology tho, as it has a chance of reducing energy costs with less expensive initial expenditure... at least that is my take on it,

Marilynn M said...

Has anyone seen the solar shingles? Pretty pricey but very attractive and according to the building show I watched they are very efficient.

skids said...

Both the XSunX and the shingles are in a rapidly emerging field called "Building Integrated Solar." I think it's good to see developments that can help people skirt around neighborhood associations and their silly rules.

But frankly, if I were doing it and free from restirctions, I'd just glass over the entire roof and seal it at the edges. Who needs shingles on a roof that's already covered in collectors?

Judy B. said...

"I'd just glass over the entire roof"... maybe when prices come down. But for now we have a fairly new roof and the cost to retrofit that would be out of our budget for several years..

In Washington State, there is an Initiative gathering steam that will require the utility districts to phase in (a percentage per year) of renewable energy resources. Wind farms are already being plugged into the mix.

Again one of the problems is that we (America) doesn't seem to be manufacturing the "components" of the windmill generators. they are being shipped to us from Europe.

Another balance of trade problem.

Judy B. said...

I brought this over from the Senate thread for your information...
At a Seattle news conference, the following informtion was available.
"Seattle Biodeisel", a small manufacturing facility, "pumps out 5 million gallons of alternative diesel a year, primarily for sale to commercial vehicles. That's a drop in the bucket compared to the 67 billion gallons of traditional diesel pumped in the U.S. each year..."

Judy B. said...

Here is an article from our local newspaper about biodiesel legislation in the works in Washington State.

this story may not remain on line for long.

This story, along with the last one I posted, are relevant for discussion here in that they show the way that states can make a big difference, regardless of how much Bush wags his tail.

j. Small said...

Here is my idea, plus some the comments which include technology and tax breaks info that were supportive of it. I thought this was one of the good things about SSB, where ideas could be improved and combined.

By the way, the treadmill comment was a joke, although I would be curious how much energy is generated in a busy club, over time. Someone submitted an entire idea later based on this, that was lampooned in Harper's Magazine Feb. issue.
Tax breaks for obvious solar niches  11/27
Submitted by anonymous in Massachusetts

Energy problems.

Tax breaks for big box buildings (stores, manufacturers, etc.) to put solar collectors on their huge flat roofs, in climates where this is financially feasible. Probably could sell back energy to power companies.

Will boost renewable solar industry, tremedous savings on fossil fuels. Help with looming huge problem of fossil fuel shortage.

;) Could also give breaks for generators on tread mills, etc in health clubs.

• Reviews
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1 out of 1 people found the following review helpful:

John N. in Texas:

Search for RedG on this site. It would be better to allow everyone to save.

Not enough power from tread mills to power much. Would save on health bills.

William H. in Idaho is just plain wrong. Tax break would be nice, but if focused on the right sector long enough. See Home Power magizine #110 Dec 05/Jan06.

0 out of 3 people found the following review helpful:

William H. in Idaho:

Solar power is not feasable, too costly and all we need is more tax breaks

0 out of 0 people found the following review helpful:

Evelyn G. in Texas:

January 1, 2006 starts tax credits (up to 20% of cost?)for alternative energy installations of any scale - home to commercial ? Anyone have details?

0 out of 0 people found the following review helpful:


Information on tax incentives is in this PDF:

As far as commercial flat-top buildings, a new technology is due out over the winter that should reduce the cost/watt for areas where direct sunlight is readily available (these systems don't do well with hazy conditions as panels do.)

It seems like places like Arizona, NM, CA, Nevada, etc. would have to benefit greatly from this, especially with new flat roof technology,

christin m p in massachusetts said...

If we are to believe what George Bush said in his State of the Union Address, it looks like we may be getting both our alternative energy economy, and Jennifer P.'s idea: Emerging Technologies Incubator after all.

I hope he was telling the truth, and not just saying what we want to hear in order to get Republicans elected in the mid-terms.

Marilynn M said...

Christin, look up his previous State of The Union addresses. Then decide if he was telling the truth. Don't think so.

skids said...

My take on Bush's SOTU energy stuff is in my dkos diary:

Cheryl V said...

Another story not reported on our main stream media.
They spent the day carrying on about the oil guy pushing for alternative energy. They still haven't noticed his "never mind".

Richard Yarnell said...

I’d like to describe to you a comprehensive plan intended to mitigate water management on the Columbia River which, to succeed, must be coupled to large scale development of photovoltaic (PV) capacity in the riparian zone east of the Gorge. All the technology exists and is proven. There are immediate benefits that will accrue beginning with installation of the first solar array. It is capable of creating quality jobs; returning the US to prominence in the solar industry; it adds to the capacity of the Columbia River electric power supply complex if it is considered to be part of that system; allows managers to retain more water behind the dams for fishery management and transportation uses; and eliminates the absurdity of putting the most expensive water in the country on the least valuable crops. At the same time, it provides a viable occupation for farmers from whose land Columbia River irrigation water largely would be withheld.

This is, more or less, the SSB submission:

"Columbia River system dams were built to provide a water-borne shipping route to the Snake River watershed, hydroelectric capacity, and in order to persuade East state farmers to approve the project, irrigation water in the eastern Oregon and Washington desert. The unintended consequence has been disruption (destruction?) of an essential fishery. While the electricity generated is useful and relatively cheap, the irrigation water is very expensive but used, largely, for relatively low value crops.

"Let's take irrigation out of the equation: convert low value desert cropland to high value solar "farms." Buy out landowners who don't chose to participate. Train those who do to operate the solar farms. Subsidize or finance installation on their land and then buy the power, or build the arrays and pay the landowners for maintenance services. Connect PV collector arrays to distribution points which already exist at the dams - the dams providing “backup” power whenever the sun isn't shining.

"Install the first phase of the project on federal property at Hanford and possibly Umatilla and build collectors on both sides of the river. The scale of this project will attract solar manufacturers to both states. There are over a hundred miles of riparian land with nearly as much solar potential as Phoenix suitable for the project already provided with major access routes..

"Jobs, power, fish, clean air, no nuclear plants – all from one useful project."


That's the “executive summary.” I try to fill out some details below.

I've been out of the solar business for some time, but I haven't lost interest by any means. My experience was first as a solar consultant who discouraged more projects for technical reasons than I encouraged and then with American Sunsystems Inc., a manufacturer in Connecticut, where I was a designer and Executive assistant to the President prior to Reagan's summary execution of the Carter energy initiatives. I purchased some of the assets of ASI and formed a repair and maintenance Co-op intended to keep orphaned systems running in good repair after manufacturing and installation companies went bankrupt. Until I slid off a suddenly icy roof, at once putting an end to my solar career, we operated in 5 states.

I'm preparing to build an earth sheltered solar house, fitted with both solar thermal and grid-connected PV. I've renewed my active interest in solar and as a consequence, over the last several months, have given considerable thought to ways the too long dormant solar industry might be jump started. I've been shopping an idea to experts in the field that I think can solve several problems at once. Originally, I intended to apply it to the Columbia River above the gorge. However, I see no reason it won't work as well on the Colorado River, except that one of its major selling points (fishery management) is specific to the Columbia.

Back when the dams were being planned, resistance in eastern Oregon and Washington was softened by adding provision of irrigation water to farmers in that desiccated region. Transportation from Astoria into the Snake River was made possible when the major hydroelectric dams were erected.

Since then, water management has had three, often contradictory, masters: power generation, barge transport, and Salmon fishery management. On top of that, some of the most expensive water in the nation is provided to farmers whose crops, by and large, are relatively low value irrigated grass and alfalfa.

To me, this scenario presents a huge opportunity for a practical large scale photovoltaic project capable of driving development of large scale solar panel manufacturing in Oregon, Washington, or both states.

If the riparian water rights associated with land on either side of the river, say at least a couple of miles, are retrieved from those who now hold them, then up to 400 square miles or more of potential solar “farm” can be developed. This land is in an area served by large transmission lines that originate at each of the dams. On top of that, the dams themselves already generate electricity which, from the point of view of solar power fields, presents the ideal and essential “backup” and storage system.

The BPA already exists and is charged with management of the river. Since it is a public agency, it has the power to exercise eminent domain over the riparian lands provided Congress can be persuaded to back the project. This is important since, while wind turbines are compatible with agriculture, large photo-voltaic arrays are not. Conversely, wind and photo-voltaic arrays are compatible where wind streams are sufficient. And to top it all off, there are federal reservations in this area. They are the perfect places to install the first arrays and to work out any kinks. Some of the tribes might be persuaded to participate providing a welcome alternative to gaming as a constructive new way for them to achieve economic health.

I would not propose arbitrarily to move farmers off their land. Rather, I would offer to help them become "solar farmers." There are several scenarios that could work, none of which has to be the exclusive one. All require farmers to surrender any right they have to use Columbia River water for irrigation.

1) Farmers could purchase or lease and install photo-voltaic arrays on their own land in place of crops. BPA would purchase the power under long term contracts. Farmers would own the land, the arrays, and would be responsible for maintaining them. Power would be shipped to one of the dams over transmission lines built by BPA and redistributed from those hubs to the grid. Farmers would be compensated for the riparian water rights they'd give up as part of the deal, thus relieving BPA of the responsibility for providing irrigation water.
2) Farmers could choose to lease the land to others for the purpose of installing photovoltaic collectors. Third parties would own and operate or just operate and maintain arrays installed by a public entity or a corporate one.

3) Farmers could choose to accept a buyout after exercise of eminent domain by the BPA. In that case, the land could be developed for solar by the BPA or by third party lessees under BPA supervision.

I would make every effort to assist existing owners of the land to retain their interest and either to achieve ownership of the photovoltaic arrays or to lease them. However, if they chose not to become owners, I would then make every effort to engage them as maintenance personnel so they'd have jobs near their present homes. It would not be necessary to displace anyone who wished to continue living in established homes.

From the beginning, every watt of installed photovoltaic capacity will relieve management pressure on the river. Insolation along the river is only slightly less than that found in Phoenix. As the installed PV area increases, the daytime, clement weather capacity will reduce the amount of water needed to power the generators, thus allowing river managers to store water for use at night and during inclement weather. In other words, the river provides storage and backup and the average amount of impounded water increases.

Fishery managers will have greatly increased amounts of water available to use in managing the annual migrations to and from salmon spawning grounds.

Barge traffic managers, likewise, will benefit from generally higher year round water levels.

And, of course, as the arrays spread east and west from each of the dams, the amount of water required for irrigation will drop and that obligation, and the considerable cost of pumping, will be eliminated permanently.

At its conclusion there could be 400 or more square miles along the river, serviced by existing transmission lines and roadways, producing clean electric power.

Obviously, if successful, the demand for panels will be enormous1. That demand will warrant construction of a manufacturing base in either eastern Oregon or Washington, or both. Likewise, there will be other manufacturing opportunities: support arrays, tracking mechanisms, controls, and hardware. In addition to manufacturing jobs, there will be a large number of installation, support, and maintenance jobs created.

This initiative is one of those rare projects that can start modestly and be enlarged continuously until demand is met. It can be considered a long term capital investment: panels have a service life in excess of 25 years. I have seen analyses showing that average cost of electrical power produced over two panel life cycles (50 years) would be between one and three cents above that generated by the dams themselves.

It is my belief that the economies of scale, the fact that transmission lines already are in place, and that the river is capable of meeting any demand for back-up power, mean there are few sites better suited for a major solar electric installation. I see no reason a similar scheme would not work along the banks of the Colorado. I know that the water there is pretty much spoken for, that there is no commercial traffic to deal with, nor a fishery. But for solar there is a transmission system already in place from each of the existing dams which also provide storage and backup for the solar installation. I imagine that the tribes in the four corners region whose water rights are being trampled would benefit from having less water used for electrical generating purposes.
1. The high present cost of solar panels is a factor now limiting deployment of photovoltaic capacity generally. One way to deal with that cost is to force the issue and ramp up production capacity. That's happening overseas, but not here. This project and another related to it (requiring all new construction to include grid connected PV arrays) would warrant construction of new manufacturing plants in the region.

2. A related project, and one that I think is long overdue, will become feasible as soon as PV panel manufacturing capacity increases and panel costs drop in response: requiring that all new housing construction and commercial buildings, by code amendment, be required to be oriented properly for solar applications and that they be equipped with grid connected PV arrays. There is no excuse, really, not to utilize the enormous resource of roof area we have on hand now and will build in the future.

We already mandate construction standards such as connection to approved septic tanks or municipal sewers; minimum insulation standards; electrical standards; etc. The table is set to incorporate in the various codes siting and/or orientation favorable to solar applications and the mandatory application of integrated PV roofing systems. The former costs nothing but sets the table for retrofitting when PV costs drop. Improvements in the efficiency of both flat panel and thin film PV technology when coupled with the projected reductions in cost as production increases, suggest the economics will improve. Beyond that, I know of no other way to break the stranglehold that conventional power sources have over our economy. Unless we’re willing to live with the dangers of Nuclear generating plants and the waste products they saddle us with, we should take the initiative now rather than waiting for conventional capacity to dwindle.

The first wave may be expensive, but as production capacity increased, the cost of installing meaningful amounts of grid connected solar will come down and probably begin to compare favorably with the alternative of siting and installing large scale power plants.

Back when I was working for ASI, the cost of installing solar thermal in new construction was half or less the cost of retrofitting existing buildings. I assume that is still the case and applies as well to PV. In Oregon, CA and, as well as other states, power companies must allow meters to run both ways. Expensive household backup is eliminated through reliance on the grid. In addition, roofing systems in which solar is integrated (as opposed to solar panels which are installed over conventional roofing) actually reduce the costs.

I firmly believe that we have to make the decision that we can no longer afford conventionally produced and distributed electricity. Even if the initial cost is higher, even if it is significantly higher, we have to begin. If we don't, domestic economies of scale may not materialize and the game will be ceded to foreign competitors.

Judy B. said...

Richard, during the contest I read your idea on this subjuct and was not too favoraboy impressed. This longer, more complete discussion of the problem/solution gives me more to digest. I wonder if you have thought anything about wind generated power in conjunction with this. Currently there are wind farms being built in Eastern Washington, and as I understand it, the farmers lease their land(long term) to the power companies.
Are you involved in any of the alternate energy groups in Portland?

While I agree the federal governmnet should be in on this, I believe the place to start is local. I think your idea should be shared with every Public Utility District in Washington, and the initiative gathering petition going on right now (if passed) will give it some momentum. I would be willing to take your idea to our local PUD and to local politicians..
Maybe we can get the winner of the contest interested...he is from Washington...

Richard Yarnell said...


Suitable sites for wind turbines are harder to find. Most people don't realize how much wind there has to be and how persistent.

Development of the area just east of the gorge is most promising and, as you say, seems to have the cooperation of local farmers.

Turbines take up very little area on the ground and are compatible with most farming (and the development of solar). Farming is not compatible with large scale solar which is why I put so much emphasis on buying up the water rights and encouraging existing farmers to become power producers themselves.

I used to belong to a couple of national solar contractor organizations. Since I'm no longer in the business, I don't belong now - I'm not much of a "joiner." However, that doesn't stop me from corresponding with them and I have been vetting this proposal and the one concerning building code changes to require building orientation to facilitate immediate and future deployment of household solar applications. It's a "no cost" code change and simply makes good sense.

Richard Yarnell said...

"Photovoltaics on every roof
Submitted by Richard Y. in Oregon

"There are acres of unused roof out there.

"Photovoltaics add to the cost of building a house. However, if the photovoltaic panels double as roofing, the increment(al higher cost) in new construction is modest and will become even smaller as the economics of scale begin to operate.

"Require that all new construction must include photovoltaic systems. Require all utility companies to purchase excess power produced by these installations. Require builders to insure that roofs are situated for maximum insolation.

"Commercial buildings should not be excluded. It might even pay to require installation of thin film solar collectors on existing commercial buildings.

"Since the grid exists, it should continue to be used to supply "backup" power and to collect excess power from solar sources. Batteries, the expensive part of solar systems, are not required.

"Encourage the use of low voltage lighting systems and appliances. LED lighting alone in solar equipped housing would have a meaningful impact.

"Provides jobs in a growing industry, reduces dependence on fossil fuels, safety in low voltage applications."
There were a number of "solar on the roof" suggestions. Of those I found, this was the only one to offer a specific means of realizing the desired result - the building code change.

The technology to do this already exists. Reliance on the grid for backup eliminates one of the biggest costs (battery for storage) and the largest ongoing cost, maintenance of storage/replacement of batteries.

Even integrated roofing systems already exist. In these systems, the solar function is part of the primary, weather surface of the roof. Previously, the solar application was added after the weather roof had been installed.

While the early costs of adding solar to new housing will be somewhat high, just for the panels, as panel manufacturing capacity ramps up, the unit cost of solar will drop dramatically. For that reason, there is a place for early subsidies. Every new panel installed will reduce the need for additional conventional generating capacity.

There's also a hidden benefit: people tend to be less profligate in their use of electrical power when they have solar installed. Additionally, there is a whole subset of new products to be developed. Since local production of electricity eliminates the need to have high voltage (transmission loss) low voltage appliances and lighting can become the norm. (I'm about to build a new house and will use a 24v solar powered pump on the well; I will be using LED lighting, and, depending on availability, will use low voltage refrigeration. I will attach the house to the existing grid rather than have battery backup. And yes, heat and hotwater will be solar based.

christin m p in massachusetts said...

Rich Yarnell:

I would greatly appreciate your advice on something. I recall having read in one of your SSB blog posts, that you have diverse stock investments. And I can see that your knowledge of alternative energy sources is both broad and deep. I only own some shares in a bank, and I don't know how to go about buying stocks in other types of companies. I also know very little about the different renewable energy companies.

Would it be possible for me to invest a small amount of money -- say, a thousand dollars -- in an alternative energy company? If so, how would I go about it, and are there any companies in particular that you would recommend as good bets?

Richard Yarnell said...


I'm not comfortable giving investment advice. This may be instructive, however.

Since I believe that bothsolar and wind are on the verge of rapid growth, I asked Smith Barney to provide me with its assessment of publicly traded companies in the solar field. I was astonished to learn that they did not cover that sector in the US. Needless to say, I told them I was stunned.

My broker's assistant, much to her credit, did look further and found that the company's European office did track the sector. It was instructive to say the least.

I will point out that several major oil companies have very large solar divisions - small in their corporate hierarchies but large among solar companies.

And don't limit yourself to "solar."
The sector includes those who refine the silicon from which the wafers are made, controls, those who install, build the panels, and some that do it all.

It will remain a volatile sector - translation, it's risky compared to more mature industries. But in the long run, if you can afford to buy the stock and just sit on it, and if you choose well among the possible investments, the potential is good.

There are, if you wnat to spread your investment in the sector over a much wider assortment of companies than $1000 would otherwise afford, mutual funds that specilize in "green" or "alternative" energy.

Good luck.

Judy B. said...

Go vote and then come back...

Anonymous said...

Alternative energy financing:
Your thoughts, please.

skids said...

Today I fleshed out one of my ideas and put it up on dKos as a diary.

Judy B. said...

i applaud your effort to continue working on rentor/landlord solutions for energy conservation.

Having been both a rentor (long ago) and a landlord, I understand the delima. Keep us updatd as you progress

christin m p in massachusetts said...

Thanks Richard, I'm interested in the "green" mutual funds, but do I have to go through a broker or is there a more direct way for me to invest in one of them?

Also, I did some web searching, and I was pleasantly surprised -- excited, actually -- to find out that we have a place called The Alternative Energy Store less than two miles away from our house. We plan to go there this week to look into which of their products would best supplement or replace our present home heating system. We're most interested in checking out their solar air heaters and their wind systems. Their web site is at:

Richard Yarnell said...

alternative energy financing
Submitted by Peter A. in California

I may be repeating myself, but I think it is the proper place of government to jump start something that is in the public interest.

I prefer that the government (us, after all) gets something for our money which is why I suggested that BPA buy and install a large enough number of PV panels to attract new manufarturing that will drive prices down.

Subsidies are fine. As for non-profits: neither do I think there's enough money running around loose to do the job nor do I think it's necessary. As the price drops, solar, wind and other alternatives will be able to compete.

What we really need to do is design houses that take advantage of the free energy. For example, Christin mentions solar air panels. For those who don't know what they are: a glazed box is mounted on the southerly wall(s) of a house. When the sun hits the panel, it warms up and the air that is forced through it, heats the house. I used to build them and they worked fine. (We sold 3x8' panels with a fan, installed for under $450 but that was in the mid 1980's). But if a house is designed to utilize the sun, you don't need to attach boxes to it. Much cheaper, and properly designed, all you need is emergency heat. My folks built a house in Carson City NV that had an indoor temperature range of 70-74F year round with no backup heat - they used their wood stove only for atmosphere.

Once we attract the manufacturers by helping to establish a market, supply/demand will drive the prices down.

Richard Yarnell said...

christin m p in massachusetts:

Unless you have experience, I think a broker is a good idea. You can use them, too, to st up a 529 education savings fund, keep your retirement investments in order. If you find a good one, they're worth the money.

Make sure you have enough wind to make a home generating system worthwhile. I think it's a good idea to invest in a home weather station that has windspeed and direction indicated and recorded so that you can keep good records of average and peak windspeeds for a year before you buy.

And, as with solar, if you can avoid buying batteries for storage but can sell excess power back to the grid, the economics become more favorable.

Richard Yarnell said...


That's an interesting idea, but I think there's a somewhat more direct way to get the job done.

First, retrofitting is the most expensive way to apply any energy efficient technology. The most efficient buildings are engineered from the beginning to use solar, Passive or Active, and other efficient appliances. Further, it's far cheaper to put these gadgets in place during original construction that to try and add them later.

The most direct way to get the job done is to require in the building codes for new buildings that 1) they be oriented to take advangate of the sun; and 2) that, assuming there isn't a mountain in the way, solar hot water, PV, and passive solar designs are required in all new buildings. The cost isn't that great.

I mentioned earlier that my folks built a passive solar house in Nevada. It cost them $12K for the extra engineering but they didn't have to install a $12K HVAC system.

It was a high end house. Comparably sized houses on their street required $400-$600 per month to either heat or air condition them. My folks' utility bill averaged $25/month winter and summer - mostly for lighting and cooking.

Do the math: $475x12=$5700*30 years (the life of an average mortgage)= $171,000 (1985 dollars). I'll admit, not all houses can be earth sheltered or have attached greenhouses, but comparable results can be achieved with other design factors.

Judy B. said...

I appreciate all you input here. You are probably the best informed person on alternate energy, particularly solar, that is blogging here.

Over on the housing thread I have been talking about revising and updating building codes as a big step in making alternative technologies affordable. Presently if a situation doesn't fit in the code book, an engineer ar an archetect has to be consulted to o.k. a process and even then it sometimes doesn't pass muster. Not because it isn't a good concept or isn't built right, but because the code writers and the inspectors do not understand building techniques.

While it is always easier and cheaper (in the long run) to incorporate new technology when building a home, the number of homes alreading standing that could (need) to be retrofitted needs to be addressed..

Richard Yarnell said...

Judy B:

Absolutely. But I don't think we should expect miracles nor do I think it is always appropiate to demand upgrades in existing stock.

For example, I'd rather see limited funds used to upgrade safety in an old building rather than install an alternative energy configuration that cannot pay for itself.

However, IF a building is to be renovated, I see no reason at all to not demand use of appropriate energy conserving or producing technologies. That's the approach being used in Portland, OR. Buildings undergoing renovation must first meet earthquake and fire suppression standards. As yet, alternative energy has not been addressed but more strict insulation and indoor air quality standards do.

I think I'm being pragmatic. If it costs two or three times the money to retrofit an old building than to properly engineer a new one, I see at least a 2-3 fold advantage to putting the money into the new construction. Actually, it's probably more than that multiple since fully engineered buildings are more successful than most retrofits.

PS: Is anyone else checking other categories?

Anonymous said...

Would it be possible to install a half dollar sized solar collector on a roof, which seeks out light beams that contain the most energy and “speed up” the amount of energy, collected and stored in a battery? Similar to a satellite dish looking for a signal or a computer with a faster processor?
If done right, this could eliminate
the need for those large, ugly and costly collectors.
John G. in Georgia

deb said...


I see you are still with light beams. I'm still exploring the magnets. Leedskalnin could only float rocks at night. Take away the magnetic field of anything and the sun restores it the next day. That is where the energy from light is.

For everyone except JG and Judy, check out this link, it explains this post.


What I've learned so far: Everything produces a magnetic field, and the field for everything is different. The fields are measurable using radio waves. We don't have to take something apart and analyze each chemical, just measure the magnetic field and compare to the field of pure substances then you will know the chemical (or biological) make-up of the thing. Leedskalnin removed the magnetic fields of his rocks. The sun replaced the field the next day.

This is where the next generation of energy will come from.

Richard or anyone else who is fascinated I have other links that I can post for further research...let me know.

Judy B. said...

and light beam technology seeks out new and uncharted minds to explore with REALLY out of the box energy solutions...
The way (wave) is in motion..again.

Richard Yarnell said...

Anon at 5:02 -

As I understand it, the intensity of unobstructed sunlight is uniform at a given location. Variation does occur for reasons that can be overcome or at least compensated for: Angle of incidence, Latitude, elevation, and the like.

Tracking mechanisms that keep the sun at approximately 90 degrees relative to the collector surface already exist. Depending on the application, the controls and motive force to accomplish this may or may not be cost effective.

As I posted in response to a suggestion that we ring the planet with concentrating mirrors and beam the energy to the ground, the collector area is the primary determinent of energy captured. It is true that the efficiency of some collectors increases as temperatures increase. Whether or not the requisite controls, additional equipment and so on, are worth the marginal improvement in efficiency is moot.

So, the answer to your question is no. Once you aim at the sun, you've done the job. Collector area determines the amount of energy you can capture.

dan said...

I can't think of anything more valuable to our planet or its inhabitatants than clean, cheap and plentiful energy. I'd support massive funding to put our best minds working on a solution.

Anonymous said...

go vote

Anonymous said...

I've tried to vote there
And it will not let you past the security thing and your e-mail has an increase in "spam" it is a frustrating and cumbersome site to say the least.

Thank-you Deb,Judy and Richard. I compliment each of you on your unique abilities to write in a manner that defines clear and easy to understand answers.

Imagine telling early pioneers they could travel from boston to the gold rush of California in less than a day. They would have said That is "REALLY out of the box" thinking.
Light is represented in every dimension and every place and every time...
Imagine our grandkids reading our blogs a hundred years from now. Will they perceive it as "REALLY out of the box"? Probably not.

"Collector area determines the amount of energy you can capture."
Thank-you Richard.
Next question:-)
Swimming pools? Einstein proved that light slowed down in certain conditions on earth, glass of ice water for example, How can we use your last statement and einsteins findings to our advantage with something that is found in abundance in many backyards across the country? In other words, take a solar panel the size of a swimming pool and increase the amount of energy it collects if we add a few thousand gallons of water and slow the light down while retaining more heat, would this be capable of collecting more energy? People already spend money on pools.
John G. in Georgia

christin m p in massachusetts said...

Rich Y:

I can't understand why we haven't already established a huge market for alternative energy sources. I can remember waiting in the long gas station lines when I was a teenager in the late 70's. The only rapid advance we made after that was the move from eight-cylinder vehicles down to six- and four-cylinders. Although that was certainly a major improvement, I would have thought that nearly thirty years later, we'd have come a lot farther than we have.

Maybe it's obvious to most people, but I can't see -- What is most to blame for holding back back demand for, or production of, alternative fuel sources? Is it mainly the fault of the government for paying subsidies to oil companies all these years, and for failing to promote production of alternative energy systems? Or did consumers always have control? If we did start to buy alternative fuel systems in greater numbers, would the prices definitely come down as usually happens with other technologies, or would our government foil it somehow, in order to continue pushing oil on us?

Please let me know what you think, because if consumers do have complete control, then isn't it up to us to demand that the our government facilitates efficient, low-cost production of alt energy systems and fuels?

Richard Yarnell said...


Lots of transparent and translucent things minutely change the speed. Water absorbs light: if you go deep enough in the ocean it gets very dark. And there's a lot of energy stored in water - Katrina was fueled by 80F water in the gulf.

But 80F isn't useful for much. It's more efficient for practical things we do, to heat a little water at a time to a much higher temperature. The solar pool heater I have on my roof is nothing but a black plastic mat filled with quarter inch tubes. Water flows through these tubes and is heated, taken to the pool where it is mixed with cooler water and the cycle is repeated. As the temperature of the pool rises, the efficiency drops.

The difference between the water and the black mat is the mass of the absorber. Guessing 15# of plastic absorbs most of the light falling on a 48 sq foot area heating the mat to temps above 130F. My Endless Pool is 40" deep and there's lots of light at the bottom of it. Not all of the light has been absorbe and, as a matter of fact, a good deal of it was reflected from the surface.

Judy B. said...

John G... I have always taken your light beam technology seriously... but i do thnk it out of the box thnking//EXACTLY what we need...

Christin... market demand causes the corporate sector to produce products, whether it be solar panels or small energy efficient cars.

Market demand either takes place spontaneously or is created. Remember the 'pet rock'??? Corporations have gotten good at creating demand thru advertising.

Huricane Katrina and the resulting gas price hikes began to create a market for energy efficient vehicles; unfortunately old habits are hard to overcome, and with gas prices back under $2 the demand is not so great.

Richard Yarnell said...


Some of this is my own belief and some of it is recent history.

I remember moving the car to about 102nd and West End and coasting down to the gas station at 96th and Riverside Drive in NYC. It would take most of the morning to do that just for a tankful of gas. There wasn't a real shortage of gas, just a disruption of the distribution system. Demand drove the prices higher.

The market for alternatives isn't thriving because we subsidize conventional fossil fuels to keep the price much lower than it should be. For one thing, we don't calculate the cost of the oil, coal, or natural gas while it's in the ground - at least not the real cost. We base the price on the cost of extraction and what the market will bear. In a quirk of logic, though, we do allow a depletion allowance when it comes to taxing the producers. Shortly after Carter set up the solar subsidies, we did start to deply alternatives. The industry was doing research and building manufacturing and distribution facilities. It was also demonstrating, sometimes successfully, sometimes not (usually because of snake oil marketers - the engineers could build the things but weren't good salesmen) that solar and wind were viable alternatives.

At the same time, some really good research was done with respect to passive building design. Some of those buildings and the principles that make them work required very little extra effort to engineer. But since they were not within the experience of most builders, they weren't widely adopted.

When Reagan took over from Carter, one of the first and nastiest things he did was to dismantle the collectors Carter had installed on the Whitehouse. There was no reason to do it - it was vindictive and mean. He also took away the subsidies that were helping solar to compete with oil. Solar was still years away from having the "mass" to compete on its own. A lot of businesses were bankrupted and a lot of installed systems lost the maintenance resources to keep them working. Solar and wind, at least in this country, never reached the scale that would have brought the installed unit cost down low enough to compete with conventional heating appliances.

In general, consumers do have the ability to control the supply. But they don't always use it. Add to that modern advertising and marketing and you'll find that manufacturers, complicit in this country with government, can skew the market. Oil, gas, and coal were kept so cheap, the appliances that uses those fuels were manufactured in such huge quantities that the prices were very low, most people wouldn't take the trouble to do what would have been the prudent thing.

As a result, we ceded our lead in research and products to the Japanese, Israelis, Germans, and a couple of other countries. Even though we'd really invented the photovoltaic cell and applications for it, we gave that up too. The largest producers now are in Germany and there isn't enough manufacturing capacity to fulfill the demand - prices are high.

We even gave up our substantial lead in wind turbine design and manufacture. What we're doing now is building very large scale turbines instead of many more smaller ones. I think the jury is still out on which, in the end, is more efficient.

I did some experiments with a patented design (not mine) that someone bought up and buried. If I live long enough, I'll try to resurrect it after the patent expires. It's an out of the box approach to harvesting wind that in my small models worked 6 times better than windmills.

It was all killed by a subsidized fossil fuel industry that has had this country by the short hairs since oil was discovered in Texas.

To answer your question directly, I do believe the consumer can drive the industry to ramp up production enough to bring prices down. The first ones to do it will have to pay a premium though. That's why I proposed the Columbia River solar project - have government buy something it can use in such quantity that producers have to build manufacturing capacity. The scale will be achieved and consumers will benefit. The complementary suggestion was to put solar on every roof by changing the codes to require it.

It will be done, the only question is when.

deb said...

"It was all killed by a subsidized fossil fuel industry that has had this country by the short hairs since oil was discovered in Texas."

That *is* the problem. We've allowed corporate profits to dictate the media and laws.

deb said...


"It's an out of the box approach to harvesting wind that in my small models worked 6 times better than windmills."

Could you go to another country that hasn't signed patent agreements with us and get this going? I'd be willing to invest in it.

I'm thinking somewhere in maybe Central America. I would love to see Mexico join industrialized countries, but there is still the banana republic mentality there. However, President Fox, I believe, would like to see a middle class develop there. Costa Rica would probably be my first choice as they have a true democracy (I think). They probably both have patent agreements with the US, though...but seeing how we've dangled the proverbial carrot over Mexico then jerked it away they might not care about US patent laws.

If a third world nation moved toward industrialization using renewable energy the rest of the world would wake up. As you stated on the SSB threads China plans to do just that.

If this and other "buried" technologies surfaced, the rest of the world would see them, there would be no hiding them.

Plus, in a third world country everything is from scratch. You stated earlier that it is much more difficult and expensive to put alternatives into place in an existing infrastructure than it is to do it right the first time.

I'm wondering if Habitat for Humanity might be interested. They have built villages from the ground up. If we provided wind electricity to some of these new villages, they in turn would be able to manufacture the "windmills" (or whatever you call them) to sell.

What do you think?

deb said...


A suggestion: Put safety grills on the windmills, like the ones on oscillating fans for home use. It will keep birds from being sucked into them. I tried pushing this concept in Florida for boat propellers in manatee habitats a few years back and didn't have much luck. Yes it will slow the flow a bit, but protecting wildlife is worth it I believe.

Richard Yarnell said...


I'm a firm believer in the concept of intellectual property. I spent part of my career trying to assert the Actor's creative rights while participating in Workshops and while rehearsing and performing any play during its first production. I know many musicians and writers who have had work stolen. It would be hard for me to steal from the engineer who came up with this novel design while he still has an interest in it.

I own the patent on a portable composter that works better than most. It was designed for urban settings where space is limited and for use by people who can't, by virtue of age or infirmity, lift the heavy weight that fast composting can require. Even this, to me, self-evident design, took some time to perfect and to shepherd through the patent office.

Years before, I'd seen three patent awards on my boss' office wall. He'd patented three circuits which were novel but for which there was no real use. He had them for effect. So I was unprepared when mine was approved for the buzz I felt. Someone had certified I'd had a unique idea.

The time will come when, playing by the rules, this design will be employed. And there won't be the expense of debating in court who has the right to profit from it.

As to putting cages around those big turbines: I'm no expert on wind turbines but I doubt that the blades of the large ones go fast enough to really endanger birds unless it's at night.

Keep in mind that the turbines are reacting to the wind passing through them. They don't "suck" anything. The blades are shaped like the wing of an airplane so there are very small low pressure areas on the surface of each one, but the air blows through and the "propeller" turns. Which is not to say that an occasional bird, sight seeing instead of paying attention to business, might not collide with the tower. Rare at least.

I think it would be impractical to try to design a cage that was fine enough to keep even large birds away. Then you'd have huge targets for the birds to hit. They'd do more damage than the blades. Their weight would be a problem and so would strength and resistance to deforming sufficiently to brush up against the turning blades - catastrophic failure.

Birds can see; they can probably hear the blades reacting with the wind; thay may be able to sense the pressure changes associated with the blades. I imagine glass in high rise building are more dangerous to them.

deb said...


Perhaps the inventor of the "windmill" would be interested in having his product developed, even in a third world country. I have no sympathy at all for the person or company that bought up the idea to bury it so that renewable energy doesn't become standard.

Richard Yarnell said...

Nor do I. It's more complicated than that. The company he worked for controlled the patent and sold it to the company that's sitting on it. I should look into it (it's been a few years) and see who owns it now.

deb said...

How would the laws effect producing the product but not marketing it? If you produced the product for Habitat World or Oxfam to be used in rural villages, but not bought or sold would that make a difference?

Habitat World has a display village in Americus, Ga. I completely believe that these guys would (1) be interested and (2) provide the funds necessary to develop the windmills for their global rural villages.

Forgive me, but I really know nothing of patent law. I would *love* to see renewable energy apparatus developed and used. A giant snowball starts with a small handfull and some pushing:)

Judy B. said...

Richard, if in your research you discover the company that holds the patent, you might bring it to their attention. They might have had a big turnoer in personnel and they may not know what they are sitting on.

Past practice does not mean that the company may be looking for a new market... Rather than wait maybe there is a way to research the ownership and if they are not willing to bring it forth, we might get the Washington Post to do a big expose on the whole thing...

christin m p in massachusetts said...


I hope this isn't too forward of me, but more than once I've wanted to say that I think you're a fascinating person. I googled your name, so I was able to read a little bit about you. But I wish I could know more -- as in a biography about you and your whole life. Also, at the risk of having that guy Gary make a big deal again, I'd like to look up your date of birth in my astrological ephemeris. I know that's personal information, so I'd understand if you wouldn't want to post it. But, as I have said I'd be interested to know more about you, so is there a link to a web site that I might have missed in the Google list that came up?

Richard Yarnell said...

3/30/42 at about 3AM provided I don't have to pay attention to the results.

I've never googled myself. It was fascinating but may have led to some erroneous conclusions.

I'm not a Dr. of anything - best I did was an MBA in acting.

I did find some things that surprised me, some I'd forgotten, some things meant for private consumption that have been posted in places I didn't know existed. I also found some testimony my father gave in a water rights case in Souther California. He will be amazed at that.

I'm the guy who was July 2005 Utilikilter of the Month - I now make belts for them. I really do raise Jacob sheep; use a scythe; keep bees; build canoes; and I do have a avid interests in ecology; forestry, politics, our economy, alternative energy, the list is absurdly long. I read voraciously, live with a lady who has read all 3500 books in her very eclectic library and remembers not only what she read but where the books are. She's an anthropologist whom I met when she was on the board of the theatre I became managed as Producing Director. She keeps bees, is a spinner (I weave, she knits), is a cracker jack flyfisher (taught me everything I know). When I first rented her basement and garage (as a shop) the deal was I'd do all the cooking. My mother never forgot the telephone conversation in which I reported that I was building a Beef Wellington while Susan was in the engine compartment of her Ford pickup adjusting the valves.

My theatre and film resume includes a lot of Shakespeare and some very forgettable stuff. You can hear me read 40 or 50 Books in the Library of Congress' Recordings for the Blind. And I do write lots of letters - lots and lots of letters.

I'm flattered, but I suspect you'd be disappointed.

Richard Yarnell said...

From today's NY Times.

This'll make your blood boil.

"New projections, buried in the Interior Department's just-published budget plan, anticipate that the government will let companies pump about $65 billion worth of oil and natural gas from federal territory over the next five years without paying any royalties to the government."

Write your Congressman and tell him to take it out of the shrub's hide or stop it from happening. What was meant to encourage exploration when oil was cheap is now giving windfalls to big oil when oil is over $50.

Anonymous said...

"I hope this isn't too forward of me, but more than once I've wanted to say that I think you're a fascinating person."

DAMN SMART TOO! I Thank-you too Richard. And Judy and Christine and Marilynn (reminds me of my grandmother) and of course my oldest friend DEB.

"John G... I have always taken your light beam technology seriously... but i do thnk it out of the box thnking//EXACTLY what we need..."

I know you do Judy, That's why I keep coming back to "y'all" I read your postings and then I see it happen... LBT will happen (because of y'all), The right person just has to have it explained to them by the right person using the right wording, something I am not very good at.

"Lots of transparent and translucent things minutely change the speed. Water absorbs light: if you go deep enough in the ocean it gets very dark. And there's a lot of energy stored in water - Katrina was fueled by 80F water in the gulf."

This statement I find very interesting. Recently I have been communicating with engineers and scientists studying "Dark Energy"
There are striking similarities between "Dark Energy" and water...
Everything in the Universe is based on magnetic and spinning, Tornadoes, hurricanes, planets, solar systems, black holes. Do you think we have seen the biggest storm in the universe? Something bigger and more dangerous than a black hole?

DEB, xoxoxo:-)
"I see you are still with light beams. I'm still exploring the magnets. Leedskalnin could only float rocks at night. Take away the magnetic field of anything and the sun restores it the next day. That is where the energy from light is."

Could this make an argument for semi-trucks only traveling at night?
There was a kid on a recent show of AMERICAN IDOL; He had designed a floating cup holder out of magnets.
Recently I read an article about hybrid and solar energy. The argument they seemed to be giving against was the batteries. The old batteries were hard to dispose of and there was some concern if our economy started mass-producing energy, which required batteries we would have a worse ecological problem in the future than we do from fossil fuels. My biggest fascination and question with light beams is this, Is light an efficient energy conductor (transmitter) or could it be made to store energy with very little harmful waste product? Right now battery technology is such that when it's life span has expired the waste poses a hazard to our environment. The ancients had some sort of energy capacity yet left us very little evidence other than references to light in their writings. How did light play into their energy (re)source(s)?

Very recently the military started researching what they call the "Blue Sky Theory" It goes something like this
"Imagine a satellite shooting a light beam out of the heavens and pointing it at the battlefield, out of the light comes a voice "Drop your weapons"

Thanx again guys/gals

John G. in Georgia

Judy B. said...

Can we stop this???

deb said...

JG, Fascinating about the "drop your weapons" study. I remember when I was a very small child, I foolishly let my bully neighbor burn a blister on my arm with a magnifying glass. Couldn't we do the same thing on a larger scale? I don't even think it would have to be from space, but if enough sunlight were focused onto one spot it gets very hot...belive me I completely remember.

Batteries are not radioactive. There has to be a way to recycle them properly without causing damage to the environment. I believe that battery operated cars are the way to go, burning anything is going to cause air pollution. We could make it so that when the car battery has to be replaced the old one has to be returned or face maybe a $5,000 fine. The battery could have something like a VIN on it and the state *knows* who owns each one.

By now all of you know what a skeptic I am when it comes to corporations, but I believe there has been an effort to *bury* (as Richard said) all energy alternatives that do not involve energy corporations being able to sell us our fuel. Think about it, if you could charge your electric car from solar energy they will be out of business.

When the media gives us statements that don't add up it just reeks of furthering the corporate agenda at the expense of us and the environment. I've heard that charging an electric car is "just as bad" for the environment because many power plants burn coal. It doesn't add up, I live in an area that has hydro-electric and nuclear electricity. But, even in an area that uses coal, it burns cleaner than a gas powered car.

Hopefully, we will all witness an end to the OIL AGE and a healthy future based upon LBT;)

Richard Yarnell said...


While battery technology is getting better, they're still nasty things.
Starting with lead/acid batteries, there's all that lead and salts of lead. They have a finite life and most of the lead can be recovered, but there's a lot of energy required lugging them around, refining the lead and cleaning them up and then making new cases.

The batteries we put in small gadgets aren't really any better. There are some nasty heavy metals involved and most people just chuck them. I just got hearing aids (the parrot began calling me "What?"). When I asked the technician at COSTCO whether they had a recycling program, he had no idea what I was talking about.

I agree that there should be mandatory recycling of the larger batteries. I think the manufacturers will keep track of who owns what battery. And they will recycle them on economic grounds when there are enough hybrids and electrics running around. It's too expensive just to throw the exotic metals away or toe deal with them as hazardous waste.

For large scale applications, not burning fuel, or not running water through the generators, is probably the first form of storage that will be adopted. When I was planning to build a house off grid in Millbrook, NY, I was going to have two 100K gallon tanks of water, one about 100 feet above the other. When I had more energy than I needed, I planned to pump water from the lower tank to the upper one. When I needed power, I was going to run water from the upper to the lower through a pelton wheel generator. With carefully managed use of electricity, I figured I'd have 6 days of backup. I also had 100K gallons of fire fighting water if I needed it.

The key to almost all the alternatives will be storage technology. If you have any bright ideas, now's the time to speak up.

Happy Valentine's day, everyone.

christin m p in massachusetts said...


It looks like the oil companies will continue to be the U.S.' worst "welfare queens". But I'm wondering why they say "...there may be little Congress can do to reverse its earlier giveaways." What law says they can't reverse them?


I won't post the results after I look at your chart; it's only a hobby -- I just do it for fun. The word "disappointed" would probably be the last one to come to mind when thinking about you. You are probably the most well-rounded person I've ever met. Speaking of which, since you know Shakespeare... Technical question: If "wherefore" meant "why", how would Juliet have asked "where"?

I thought that surely there couldn't exist a match for you on this planet, but it sounds like Susan is the female counterpart of you. God, you two are lucky... I wish I could be just like both of you; there are so many things I'd like to accomplish. And since I'm in good health (knock on wood), there's still probably enough time for me to do so. Lately I've just been doing the bare minimum to get by. I have no one to look after besides myself, and I seem to have misplaced my bootstraps over the past couple of months.

What inspires you to accomplish so much?

Anonymous said...

" I remember when I was a very small child, I foolishly let my bully neighbor burn a blister on my arm with a magnifying glass. Couldn't we do the same thing on a larger scale? I don't even think it would have to be from space, but if enough sunlight were focused onto one spot it gets very hot...belive me I completely remember."

Or the dollar bill wrapped tightly around your arm, hold a lighter (lit) under it, it will not burn, now loosen the dollar, OUCH!

"Hopefully, we will all witness an end to the OIL AGE and a healthy future based upon LBT;)"

Count on it. Coming soon...

"The key to almost all the alternatives will be storage technology. If you have any bright ideas, now's the time to speak up."

Is light an efficient conducter and storage medium for anything?
I ask this based on the fact that where there is energy, there is light.

"The ancients had some sort of energy capacity yet left us very little evidence other than references to light in their writings. How did light play into their energy (re)source(s)?"???

"Can we stop this???"

Yup, get involved and bring your friends, there is strength in numbers. Oil companies can help us develop the next generation of "clean" energy resources, it's in the marketing, let's sell em'.

Anonymous said...

John G. in Georgia. How do I register with my John G. in Georgia. name?

deb said...


John G. could be correct about this site leading to answers, perhaps you are the person needed to explore this. Bear with me this will be long.

I am a realist, the only paranormal phenomenon that I believe in is ESP. I believe in that because my Granny had it…no doubts. One example; my sister, Cathy, slipped on ice and broke her collar bone in several places. While Mom was taking Cathy to the hospital Granny called from 500 miles away and asked to speak to Cathy. I was a little kid, but knew not to worry her and just said that Cathy wasn’t home. Granny told me that she knew Cathy slipped on ice and broke her neck and wanted to know if she was dead or going to die. More examples if you want, but she had it.

On a Florida vacation Granny toured what is now called Coral Castle. She believed that important answers lay in Leedskalnin’s work. She wasn’t scientific by any means, but if Einstein came up in a conversation, she would say that “man in Fla. that moved those rocks had it figured out better than Einstein”. Leedskalnin didn’t think “electricity” was the proper word. He thought it would be more appropriately named “magnatricity”.

Scientists and engineers have studied his work, not one can tell how he moved stone weighing up to 10 tons. It would be impossible for him to have moved these stones with the simple equipment that he had available to him, but yet he did it. I believe that Leedskalnin had a method of making rock weightless. He said that he knew “the secret of the ancients”.

Richard, you have a scientific mind, I ask that you go through these links and see what you think. Be forewarned that many who study Coral Castle also believe in many other paranormal phenomenon, but there is provable data mixed in.

After you view the official site (link above) then start here

A book by Leedskalnin

Code broken by DePew

This Wikipedia article stated that Leedskalnin used block and tackle, however engineers who have studied his equipment have stated that the equipment could not have supported the weight.

I have more links, let me know…

Richard Yarnell said...

Have we seen the biggest storm in the Universe? I suspect the Universe is the (or one) result of the biggest "storm." I have no idea.

As to the Coral Castle, you'll pardon me if I'm a skeptic. I once looked into it and have dismissed most of Leedskalnin's claims. I've not been there but I get the impression that inflation has operated over life of the construction and that the largest values for the weight of those stones are absurd. I would point out two telling photos on the Coral Castle website: they show "Ed" lifting fairly large blocks of coral using a tripod and large block and tackle. Why bother with that contraption if he could accomplish the same thing with an anti-gravity device? "That same photo reveals that the coral was cut very close to the building site. I have not looked into the possibility that some of the structures remain after surrounding coral was removed.

Someone dismissed the demonstrations that the stone carvings on Easter Island could have been done with the technology available there. TH was not the only one to experiment: one was filmed and aired on PBS not so many years ago. It's slow work, by our standards, but the demonstration was a success and there are remnants of the constructions (roads, for example together with the deforestation that can be attributed to the massive project) that would have contributed. One conclusion is that Easter Island itself suffered because of the egocentric behavior of competing chiefs.

The Pyramids and obelisks have been explained and demonstrated to my satisfaction. For one thing, fairly recent archaelogy has given some indication of the size of the labor force applied to the problem - it was immense. Tombs and monuments were begun almost at the same time kings were annointed.

Filmed experiments have satisfied me that the weights could be moved using only human power. I found the method for erecting an obelisk elegant in its simplicity and can report that gravity works.

Magnetic fields can be localized and can be ferociously strong and focused nearly to a point. Gravity, so far as we know, is not magnetic although magnets seem to react to gravity.

I suppose, in the grand scale of the universe, gravity can be focuses and localized too. We can see the effect of gravitation lensing of light and have speculated on the black hold pheonomenon - to my knowledge, we haven't observed a black hole directly, for obvious reasons.

I'm not aware of any direct storage application for the energy in light. There are some esoteric experiments (past and ongoing) which deal with a few photons at a time. But in all the cases I know of, the equipment is obscenely expensive and the experiments have been set up to test the grand theories.

My credo: simple is usually best.

deb said...

Totally agree with your credo Richard. The most logical is usually the best answer and of course "work smarter not harder".

Maybe it's not possible for me to explain why I still believe that Leedskalnin was on to something that "we" have yet to discover. I believe it because my grandmother *sensed* it. Even though she infrequently had ESP, she was a very logical and down to earth person and would have been the last person to believe in something like ESP, had she not experienced it.

I'm not sure exactly what Leedskalnin knew that we don't, I think it's about reducing the weight of rocks, but it could be an advanced study of magnets or gravity.

Leedskalnin was a lumberjack in Canada. He would have learned a great deal about balancing heavy timbers, this actually being life or death knowledge.

He developed tuberculosis, he claims that radionics cured the TB.

Radionics seems to be a blend of science and the paranormal. Radionics measures the magnetic field of anything, and a magnetic therapy is prescribed to overwhelm the magnetic field of an invading organism. It states that all matter has a unique magnetic frequency that is measurable. Some of the studies that I have read show that radionics can diagnose the same invading organism as modern medical tests. It is accepted in most EU countries as a legitimate form of treatment.

Leedskalnin began studying magnetic fields/frequencies after having this treatment.

Anyway...thanks for reading and responding.

Anonymous said...

Everything in the universe has a magnetic force and spins and we know this because of light.
Imagine if everything in the universe reversed? Orbits, equatorial lines? Solar Systems? What would happen? Has it ever happened? Will it? Could it? What impact would this universal shift of massive cosmic forces have on light? If any. Would it harm us or would we notice? Can we duplicate the simplicities? If the universe were made up of magnetic forces, it would stand to reason they do not always flow the same way or act in a way we would readily expect.
Thank You both. Awesome.
Simple is best, Sadly it is not reality.
John G. in Georgia

Richard Yarnell said...

It isn't a matter of earth coming to a stop and taking up spinning the the other direction, but the poles periodically do swap ends.

I don't think it's happened since the invention of the compass so we may have dodged a bullet. GPS doesn't depend on magnetic north.

As for things (heavenly bodies) stopping their rotation or their paths around whatever, the predictable answer is that there would be a headlong rush to the center. Gravity's balancing act with centrifgal force would cease and gravity would win. All those black holes would suddenly become even more massive.

christin m p in massachusetts said...

When I was voting over at , one of the ideas that came up was for our government to create a Department of Energy Conversion, with cabinet position to head the department:

By the way, has anyone heard from Brian (aka Skids)? I hope he got a really good job offer and is just too busy with that to post here for now.

Anonymous said...

I cannot thank you enough for your writings, enthralling as well as educational. When I was a kid the unknown fascinated me in our universe and those, which tried to theorize or understand them. We have so much to learn. I used to envision a universe where everything was opposite of what we take for granted. Light was common and was only interrupted by entities which generated darkness, planets and civilizations explored technology which kept things from floating away, Black holes were actually the other side of suns...
Now that I am a little older and have an increase in daily reality checks I am limited to trying to figure what our world will be like in a 100 years, it helps to understand the last 100 and imagining life in 1906.
While reading one of your links about the pyramids I came across some information I was not previously aware of and that was the dispute about the age of the pyramids. The pharaohs could possibly have only taken ownership of the pyramids in Giza not built them. The argument is some of the newer, smaller pyramids are not as well built as the Giza structures.
(Jump forward) ESP, Nostradom, ancients, Atlantis...leads me into the question again of time travel,
When I read about your grandmother I envision circumstances where the outcome is far less positive and your grandmother refuses to accept them and literally backs up in time to change the outcome, she perceives it as ESP but actually she traveled backwards and understandably knew something had happened and remembered it, but forgot how she found out because well, it had not happened yet, crazy huh? Faster than light communications comes to mind also.
You know I am intrigued by light going faster than the speed of light and the results as the effects of light intrigue me as it passes through varying elements and at varying speeds. There is informational and energy value in light beams. Our society and understanding of science just has not realized it's full potential yet, hence Time Travel.
All the ancient mysteries and advanced technologies in otherwise primitive societies with no evidence keeps throwing the old saying into my thoughts, "the least likely is the most probable" or something like that.
Anyway, thanx all for listening.

Another new and interesting find from one of your links, the "cydonia complex" on Mars?
Any insight?
Lastly, There was another tomb found in Greece (I think) last week. Have we ever found tombs in the North Americas, I ask because last time I checked the origins of the native American Indians was in question, how far north did the Mayan Aztec empires stretch? When I was a kid living in New Mexico my friends and I used to climb into a hole in the ground and there was a river as big as the grand canyon (so we bragged then) and interesting paintings on the wall. We made the mistake of telling our parents and the place was quickly fenced off and we were restricted from going back out there. Those that did not journey in remain skeptical to this day about what we say we saw, I have not read or heard about anything like it since.
Thanx again Deb, Judy, Richard, Christina.
May the Light Beams help you on your way.
John G. in Georgia

deb said...

This is so simple that I'm sure it has been thought of or done:

I started thinking of the burn from the magnifying glass and had this thought. If a series of lenses focused pinpoints of sunlight onto something similar to an electric range eye then it should heat up, right? If the "eye" became hot enough it could boil water the steam of which could be used to run a steam turbine.

I wonder if it hasn't been done because of the inability to keep all of the lenses focused on one point as the sun moves through the sky. With our current computer technology it should be possible today.

Is this doable?

Judy B. said...

Another 'Is this doable'..
My husband, a retired electrician, says there is much electrical energy lost around power lines. He term this "free energy" that is just waiting to be tapped. He believes that technology to convert this wasted electricity would save us millions if not billions. What say you??

Richard Yarnell said...

Back to magnifying glasses:

The amount of energy available at the focal point is directly dependent on the amount of area covered by the lens. Even though you can achieve high temperatures, and while the efficiency of heat transfer may be improved by that high temperature, the total energy available can't be increased over what's there in that glass circle.

In fact, the principle has been used in at least one large scale solar project. There were two issues:

1) improve the efficiency of heat transfer;

2) devise a way to store the heat collected for use at night or during inclement weather.

The solution was to build an array of moveable mirrors. Each one reflected the light that struck it on a target which was, essentially, a tank full of a complex salt. The salt absorbed heat until it melted. It had a fairly high specific heat to start with. A second fluid circulated through or around the salt bed and transferred this stored heat to a turbine that produced electricity.

The system works but it is very expensive to maintain and was expensive to build. I don't know whether the experiment has been repeated.

(The electricity is (or was) distributed in the Souther California grid and doubtless some of it was used to boil water on someone's stove.)

Richard Yarnell said...

Transmission losses in electric lines is real. I don't know whether it's feasible to attempt to capture a weak field that is hundreds of thousands of mile long. It would require additional investment - if there was a return (that is, if the field to which your husband refers could be turned into electricity) how would one deliver it to a place where it could be put to use?

One of the reasons I'm in favor of point of use production of electricity (or, for that matter, thermal energy) from the sun or other means, is that you avoid the losses from transmission, stepping the voltages up/down to those transmitted and those most commonly used by the consumer, faulty connections and so forth. If we slowly convert to such a system, it may be feasible to convert from 110, 220, and 440 volt appliances and equipment to low voltages and DC motors that don't incur the losses due to converting from DC to AC.

Richard Yarnell said...

Regarding the pyramids and the origins of tombs in North America, and even the "Cydonia Complex" on mars:

The status (wealth) of those buried in /under pyramids in Egypt varied. The Pharohs were considered gods and could involve huge numbers of people and enormous wealth in their lifelong efforts to agrandize themselves at death. The lesser pyramids were built by people who simply had less to spend. Not only were the structures smaller, the materials and craftsmanship didn't match the stnadards used in the king's tomb.

There are tombs of several kinds found in the Americas. In North America, probably the best known are the burial mounds found in the mid-west. Farther south, as you point out, there are large stone structures. In my view, the pyramid is not so such a magical shape as it is a logical solution to the problem of building a large structure. The pyramid is inherently stable being broad at the base and, to achieve the height, it makes sense to move fewer "blocks" as you go up. It requires the least energy. It also avoids all the hazzards of trying to build and stabilize vertical walls.

I think it has been pretty well settled that there actually was a single (mother) in Africa. From there, humans migrated throughout the continent, into Asia and Europe and from Asia onto North America. From there, migration continued into central and South America.

DNA studies have been carried out the results of which are consistent with this model. On top of that, settlements have been reliably dated and show that not only are the "natives" related to the people in China and Japan and even farther west in Asia. The time of the migration works pretty well, too.

Since the early (possibly first) migration, the climate has changed more than once both allowing the migration (assuming it was by foot across the Bering Straight) and then driving it farther and farther south.

The style of building (of tombs as well as housing) would have been related to the permanence of the settlements, their size, and the ease by which people made their living. Until you get to the settlements in New Mexico, for example, people followed their diets as nomads. When they found water and turned to agriculture and had shortlived but permanent settlements, they built elaborate and well protected cliff dwellings. Drought and disease probably killed them or drove them to move.

In Central and South America where making a living was relatively easier and large populations didn't have to move around, time could be invested in massive buildings.

Alas, Cydonia: it was fun for awhile, but as the resolution of photos has improved and as mapping techniques have changed, what romantics thought might be remnants of civilizations have turned out to be nothing more than chance geographical features.

Even knowing what actually exists on the moon, we still refer to the man or the rabbit in the moon. Give another 35 million miles to get to the mars...let imagination run amok.

Even serious scientists were seduced into inventing large irrigation projects (canals) on Mars. We know now that there are seasonal changes that affect the remnants of what we think were natural water courses eroded into place over billions of years. (I wrote my first serious science paper (report) as a 7th grader on the canals on Mars. I'd been influenced by Lowell and Bradbury and what I saw through a fairly respectable telescope my father and I built (12").

I'm happy to report there's a good chance there was once, long ago, asubstantial amount of water on Mars and may still be some under the surface, but the physics of mars suggests that it lost most of its atmosphere and water to space. It has convinced me that we're very fortunate to live where we do at the almost perfect distance from the sun and on a planet the size of Earth with its gravity of 1g. A few million miles closer or farther from the sun would have reduced that chances of life flourishing here to almost zero. Mars is cold and it's gravity too weak, to have held onto the water and atmosphere that probably formed at about the same time we acquired ours.
(For the curious, I had to correct the typos and am responsible for the missing post.)

Judy B. said...

Richard, I am familiar with all that you have written about. My logical mind comes up with the same conclusions that you do.

My feminine, intuitive body often gives me different answers than the scientific explanation.

I have experimented with pyramids, crystals and different metals and have had some interesting results.

As a result of walking on fire (over a hundred times), I understand (for myself) that the unknown holds much promise, and the unbelievable is just a thought process. all things are possible; all it takes is a change in attitude and mind set.
Who built the pyramids? Science has an answer. Oral history has some different stories. Who is to say that the Pharohs were not Gods.. from another planet... and brought technology with them??

I have explored the research about the Mother of our DNA, and believe that it is veyr compelling. The unanswered question is: Where did she come from??

Anonymous said...

Wow! Glad I asked.
Here I go again...
Do you think it possible/likely we have a base (military or scientific) on the dark side of the moon? Serviced by the SR-71 BLACKBIRD?
Why are we planning a manned expedition to Mars? During the contest (SSB/GOOGLE SPONSORED?) I submitted a proposal to build a network of Hubbles, which could be accessed in real time from any pc by anyone in the interest of space exploration and education. My theory at the time was a more cost effective way to open up the frontier in hopes of enabling more shoemaker/levy scenarios. As the populous gained more knowledge of cosmic physics perhaps commercial or research applications would be expanded as well. Perhaps a fifth grader would notice a planet more suitable than mars for life and our dollars for manned missions would be better targeted than a mars mission, however when I read about cydonia recently it was easy to believe NASA possibly had other reasons for a manned mission. It also occurred to me if intelligent builders in fact created Cydonia and they wished to remain anonymous, trickery on our rather primitive cameras would be relatively easy. It also occurred to me we have lost a few probes to Mars and at this time no definitive reason as to why. Why can't we just point the Hubble at Mars and find them, it is obvious they are not hiding under a tree.

"Mars is cold and it's gravity too weak"
How much would a 7-ton boulder weigh on Mars? (Tee-he, 7 tons right? you know what I mean:-) How difficult would it be for a 100 lb man to move one in that environment? Could we duplicate that loss of gravity on earth?
The reason I ask is this, I have a suspicion the ancients and Ed had a method of defying the laws of gravity using light beams, IE: The 7 ton rock was tricked into thinking it was on mars and it's gravitational properties, not earth, light beams were the tool that transferred these gravitational properties. I hope I worded that in a way you could understand.
Thanx Again.
John G. in Georgia

Anonymous said...

"I have explored the research about the Mother of our DNA, and believe that it is veyr compelling. The unanswered question is: Where did she come from??"

Aha! My next far out theory...
I have often imagined the pyramids as a receptor/replicator/teleporter for DNA info which is transferred (through light beams) from a distant system. The ancient Egyptians were reportedly very kind to midgets and disabled persons...
Thanx Judy.
John G. in Georgia

Judy B. said...

Richard..."Transmission losses in electric lines is real. I don't know whether it's feasible to attempt to capture a weak field that is hundreds of thousands of mile long."

While it may not be feasible to recapture the lost electricity along the whole transmission line, there are points where the loss is greater, perhaps at transformers. The technoloy I am wondering about is for individual households to be able to tap this source in some way to decrease their pull from the system.
I have friends who have been working on this idea, and today, in the mail i got an Energy Investor Report that is hyping a similar product. o believe that there are many technological breakthroughs coming. I wish i had the sight of a fortune teller.

Anonymous said...

"Transmission losses in electric lines are real. I don't know whether it's feasible to attempt to capture a weak field that is hundreds of thousands of mile long. It would require additional investment - if there was a return (that is, if the field to which your husband refers could be turned into electricity) how would one deliver it to a place where it could be put to use?"

Is it possible Ed figured it out?
Is it possible he has thousands in unpaid electric bills? It would be interesting to know the grid pattern around coral castle while it was being built. What changes were going on in the grid when Ed moved? I'm thinking about bumper cars at the fair and Ed's tripods and copper "wire" when I ask. Could he manipulate universal and man-made currents to his advantage?

Is there enough energy in a bolt of lightning to move 7-ton boulders?
Ben Franklin was interested in the energy contained in lightning.
How do we build the Hoover dam for lightning? Would it look like a pyramid? Can we duplicate a bolt of lightning in a scaled down "combustion" engine?

Deb, the magnifying glass you are looking for will have to be as sophisticated and complex as an eyeball. Every “sliver” of an eye receives and interprets light uniquely. Imagine what you might see if only one “sliver” could see light. Every time you add one more “sliver” you see more of the whole, but your focus of the individual parts blur. You see more but you actually see less. It’s kind of like focusing on a task, if you stay focused you will do a better job, if you try and do too many tasks at once you will not really do as well on any one. Has anyone ever built a camera with multiple lenses, like a kaleidoscope but better resolution?
Each lenses focused on unique and individual light variations yet all of them recorded on the same film and of the same image. Pictures may start to say more than a thousand words. Light beams are as unique as fingerprints; light beams have there own DNA, every inch.
Lightning is a light beam… We need to figure out how to break lightning down to its individual parts and manage the energy it provides. We can start with power lines. Once we figure out how to get it from ourselves, lightning is the logical next step. Was there lightning 12,000 years ago?
And then there’s the battery thing…
Have you ever noticed how effectively potatoes retain heat?
John G. in Georgia

Judy B. said...

Richard, what say you??
On SSB, idea

Judy B. said...

This article appeared in WA Post and was reprinted in our paper

This is the concluding paragraph:

"The country embarked on a major effort to wean itself off oil. Japan now imports 16 percent less oil than it did in 1973, although the economy has more than doubled. Billions of dollars were invested in converting oil-reliant electricity-generation systems into ones powered by natural gas, coal, nuclear energy or alternative fuels. Japan, for instance, now accounts for 48 percent of the globe's solar power generation -- compared with 15 percent in the United States."

Richard Yarnell said...

"Economies of scale should not be applied to home or personal energy, but only to large enterprises."

I have no idea what that means.

There is a way to apply the "economies of scale" to home or other small scale users simply by having a manufacturing base that provides enough solar panels to meet demand. (The DVD/VCR set that used to cost $600 now costs $75 because they make boat loads of them.)

For the time being, I think it would be wise to maintain the distribution system already in place. Use it to provide back-up power rather than expect every solar user to install and maintain batteries.

Net effect: solar useage eliminates or vastly reduces the need for additional conventional generating plants.

A secondary industry will evolve at the same time - appliances that are designed to operate on smaller amounts of power. If the grid is left in place, this transition can be gradual based on attrition. As your appliances wear out, replace them with ones designed to operate on low voltage. Ditto with new construction.

But I don't understand the premise of 10911.

Judy B. said...

Well, richard, if you don't understand it, I surely don't either!!
I agree about the solar for home use but don't have the slightest idea about how to go about making the change.
As you stated the solar panals are relatively expensive now, and since our fixed income doesn't leave a lot of room for experimentation, i am unwilling to "test" something experimental... Any suggestions on where to get the best dels on proven technology??/

Richard Yarnell said...

Solar thermal panels aren't experimental. It's old technology that's proven to work.

Photovoltaic panels aren't experimental either. They've been around at least 40 years and are far more efficient now. Inverters and and other controls are more efficient. Batteries are better but still expensive and require a lot of maintenance. Compared to photovoltaic panels which have a service life of 25 years or more, batteries will last 5 years.

If you live in a state that requires the utility to buy back the power you produce when you don't need it, you don't need batteries. And, you can add the panels a few at a time as you have the money. The reason to do it now, if you're going to do it, is that many states and the Feds will subsidize your investment.

However, if funds are short, do things like buying high intesity flourescent bulbs, insulating, sealing leaks, covering your water heater and insulating hot water pipes, and so on. If you don't have double paned windows, start changing those out, one at a time. Start with the ones on the north side of your house.

And one other strategy: my old farm house had a shingle roof. I covered it with galvanized barn siding but put 1.5" of rigid foam insulation under it. The materials cost me under $1000 (I don't know how much it would cost to hire a roofer to do the job). Summer temps in the house dropped 20 degrees. I suspect that the winter temps are more moderate too.

In short, there are many ways to gain a lot by spending a little.

Judy B. said...

Thanks richard..
We have done all of the basics..insulating, windows, hot water heater, etc..

All of the attention has been on Photovoltaic panels
Just what are Solar thermal panels.

Is one more efficient than the other?

Can both be tied into our grid? and how do you go about doing that?

We have a relatively new roof (expensive).. Do you add the panels on top of the roofing or is there some major construction to do??

We also have a large shop that could use a new roof... Can we put the solar panels there and get the same benefit??

Judy B. said...

The Pacific Northwest needs your help...
Go to
and sign the petition. also ask your senator to support this..

Richard Yarnell said...

Solar thermal and solar photovoltaic are two different animals.

The former have been in use for decades. They produce warm or hot water. A fluid, either potable water or a freeze protected intermediate fluid, is passed through tubing attached to an absortive plate (except for pool heaters, one that is in an insulated, glazed enclosure) is heated by the sun. The fluid carries the heat to a storage container for later use. They come in all shapes, some more complicated that others.

Since hot water is one of the biggest energy expenses in the American household, use of solar engery to preheat the domestic hot water you use can have a big impact on your bills.

Shop around. Prices vary a lot and there are honest installers and predators. Freeze protection is important. The use of "point of use" or "instant" hot water heaters make a good combination with solar pre-heated water.

[When I was assigned to the Phillipines to run a Coast Guard Loran station, I found an old, home made collector on the roof. It was simply a long run of copper pipe, painted black, that doubled back on itself. There must have been 200 feet of 1" pipe in a glazed box. Cold water on its way through to our water heater, first ran through the box. After I fixed it, we cut our heating oil cost in half.

My father built a collector which he installed in the attached greenhouse of their Carson City solar home. It was a loop of copper pipe with 5" fins attached and painted black, that led to a 200 gal tank set in a box filled with vermiculite. Since the tank was set high in the greenhouse and the pipe sloped upward to it, heated water flowed into the tank without requiring a pump. They used small, point of use, electric hot water heaters that went on only when the temperature of the water dropped below 105F. That almost never happened unless the weather had been cloudy for several days. He said it cost him half of what a conventional 200 gallon electric water heater would have cost and nothing to operate.]

Richard Yarnell said...

Judy B:

Is the Cantwell petition still current? I think I signed it over a year ago and that Bush had backed off.

Could well be wrong.

Richard Yarnell said...

More on solar thermal:

While hot water is the most common household application of solar, it includes pool heating and space heating.

Imagination reigns. I've designed, built and installed collectors that heated air that was ducted into living spaces; hot water and other fluids can be solar heated and ducted under floors to provide radiant heating; houses can be oriented so that floors and walls are directly heated by the sun during the day only to release the stored heat even after the sun has set. Careful design keeps direct sun off those heat sinks during warm seasons.

The technology exists: it's a matter of applying it.

Judy B. said...

Richard.. yes the cantwell petition is new..
Bush is back up to his old tricks...

Richard Yarnell said...

And I added my signature to it. Thanks.

Judy B. said...

Richard, a belated thanks for all your useful information. I have a good sense of the ideas, but not the technical know=how.

christin m p in massachusetts said...

I found another discussion site about alt energy:

Judy B. said...

Thanks for the new energy site Christin.. It will take a while to get into it, but looks promising.

Judy B. said...

This Wa Post article is a look at technology and energy. You may have to log in to read it.

Anonymous said...

Thanx for the site Judy. Hope I did not get to far out for ya'll...
Have we ever tested solar panels and batteries in the eye of a hurricane? I would be interested to know if collection is lesser or greater. I know we fly those research planes in to measure all sorts of data, I just am not sure if solar energy collection is part of that data if it were we would be rather surprised at the results.
John G. in Georgia

Judy B. said...

John G...never to far out for me. i do believe having a vision and reaching beyond the normal accepted theories is wht brings great discoveries.

deb said...

JG, Auburn Univ. is researching the ability to contain nuclear fusion. I actually got to climb around in this contraption before it was completed. My daughter had a pt. time job in this lab.

Fusion Research Laboratory at Auburn University

I am a huge fan of Carl Sagan. He was brilliant and his books are a combination of science and his imagination or maybe his hypotheses. You probably saw "Contact" a terrific movie, but the book is even better. Others I liked are:

"Cosmos" a huge best seller

"Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors: A Search for Who We Are"

Spanning more than four billion years, from "the beginning and a little before, " this brilliant chronicle of the first stirrings of life on Earth traces the human animal's evolution--and makes a powerful case for man's enduring kinship with the "lower" animals.

"Pale Blue Dot"

The long-awaited sequel to Pulitzer Prize-winner Carl Sagan's classic work Cosmos--the bestselling science book ever published in the English language. A compelling, erudite, and thoroughly entertaining look at man's changing awareness of his place in the universe, Pale Blue Dot is a captivating field guide to our known universe.

All of his books should be available in most any library. I frequently make long drives and have several of his books in audio for listening in the car. The books that I have are read by Sagan. I'm actually glad I thought of telling you about these books for now I intend to dig them out and reread (or listen) to them. I learn something new every time.

John G. said...

Thanx Deb and Judy,
I must admit I am not very informed about fusion power, although I am fascinated by it.
I ask about solar power in hurricane eyes because I know the light beams contained within them are well defined and visible with the naked eye as they are in tornados. Remember that movie TWISTER? At the end the two storm chasers are strapped to pipes as the eye passes over, there is a camera shot that shows the inner walls of the tornado and it shows a blurry distorted chaotic eye wall twisting upward...The inside of a tornado wall does not look or act like that. It is crystal clear and the light beams and chaos are clearly defined.
Here is another thought process to challenge your imaginations...

There is a great deal of information on the potential use of a black hole as a source of energy. (Of course, it should be mentioned that one must first acquire a black hole! At least in the case of the Sun, we already have the Sun!) An excellent source of information on black holes, written for the layperson, is Kip Thorne's excellent book: Black Holes and Time Warps. I suggest you consult it for "all the information [I] could possibly give" you.
In brief, a rotating black hole can store a huge amount of energy in its rotation. This energy is actually accessible since the rotation is imposed on the space outside the hole. In principle, therefore, energy can be extracted from the rotation of the black hole. Exactly what mechanism is used is a potentially complicated story.

We want to shoot a laser light beam (not necessarily straight) into the heavens. The goal of this Laser Light Beam is to locate another light beam from another energy source and piggy back to the next light beam, each following the path of least resistance until finally reaching it’s destination, the energy stored from the rotation of a black hole. Once tapped into this energy source, the energy “theoretically” will travel back through these interconnecting light beams to earth or wherever needed. Similar to what we know as fiber optic cables.
Light Beams can transport energy and for all practical purposes information. However we do not know enough about light beams to totally understand the infinite transmitting and storage properties of all the different light variations available throughout our universe. Maybe this is because there is so much light, we tend to take it for granted. Each light beam is unique based on its point of origin as well as elements or other light beams it passes through while illuminating space on its journey. Yet as witnessed in a bolt of lightning, it will travel faster and follow a path of least resistance…always. We need to identify this path, which is constantly changing and never repeats itself.
Developing a laser/telescope/magnifying glass, which has the capabilities of an eye/laser/fiber optic cable, not necessarily a human eye.
For the sake of better understanding, we will use the human eye as an example. The human eye is a circle of light receiving sections (flower of life), as light passes through the human eye; the brain deciphers this information into three dimensions. If we were to block out all but a few of the light receiving sections of an eye we would see something much different than what we would if we view something utilizing the entire eye. Knowing this and knowing the limits of the conscience human mind we must find a way to hook each individual section of the eye into a super computer, magnifying its individual perception while improving the overall sight of the whole, possibly identifying another dimension.
At the same time this eye has to be able to transmit for the purpose of making the connection and gathering the information/energy contained in these light beams.
If we could siphon this energy simply for the purpose of all our light needs, we would greatly decrease the demand for energy sources which produce the energy we now need to power light in all it's forms. It would stand to reason this technology could be used in space travel as well, eliminating the need for large energy storing ships or traveling where energy sources are readily available. Think of fiber optic toys and home decor we now have, as the light changes colors, the tips of the fibers change as well.
Turning on lights will become a simple matter of completing the connection of "fiber optic" light beams between the closest quasar and us. The mechanics of the device would probably be a few million light years away from the source...
Deb, In reference to the Z dilemma, Tell him to add light to the equation…see how quickly it resolves itself and he comes home.

Richard Yarnell said...

Comments on recent posts based on gleanings from past readings/research and not necessarily on recent digging:

I doubt if anyone had the presence of mind to check on any system in the eye of a hurricane. However, having been in a few while in the PI I can report first hand that the only difference between the atmosphere there and the atmosphere outside is the astounding low pressure and the clarity of the air. There's little if any dust in a column that is very still rising miles. I'm sure that if you were in the eye and looking into the night sky the starts would not twinkle much. Any improvement in the performance of a solar panel would be negligible and related only to the lack of scattering as sunlight travelled through the very clean air. I can't think of anything a cyclone would do to he performance of a battery.

I would not put too much stock in fictional films, even "Contact," with all due respect to CS.

As for light "beams," we have to work very hard to manufacture coherent "beams." To my knowledge, they don't occur in nature.

Light disperses from its source in all directions. If we introduce a reflector, we can confine the light by redirecting it in one direction until it hits the first obstacle. At that point, it begins to scatter. If we take the trouble to produce a laser by putting the light in phase at a single wave length, we can project a beam that doesn't scatter as much and whose energy is confined to a very small area. However, even lasers react to stuff in the medium through which the light travels. Bounce a laser off a solid object and it will disperse even more rapidly.

Beams of light that you associate with storms and sunsets are projections of shadows cause, more often than not, by clouds. Some are also caused by refraction through ice crystals and fine water droplets in the atmosphere.

I don't think we should give up on fusion. We know what has to be done to contain and sustain such a reaction. The trick will be to engineer a system that is reliable and big enough to have a practical use. I believe there are researchers who believe they have achieved very small fusion reactions of very short duration. They had no way to capture the output. In fact, there's some debate on whether the energy produced exceeded that required to initiate the fusion reacton.

Barring a miracle, practical fusion is some years if not decades away.

I'll grant there is, theoretically, a whale of a lot of energy in black hole. Fortunately, we don't have access to one. Even our sun, when it collapses, is not capable of becoming a black hole - it's not big enough. There are more fruitful fields to contemplate. (There was an article in the NYTimes this week about a guy using game computer programs to visualize a trip through a black hole (he escapes via a worm hole!). Factoid: 90 hours of super-computer time for each second of visualization. Look for a Nova program on black holes coming up fairly soon.)

I don't think I have the background to comment on using "light beams" to retrieve energy or information from other energy sources.

I understand using light to transmit information by encoding the information in the light. We do that already. To my knowledge, within fairly close limits, we haven't disproved or observed the limits in the speed of light established by Einstein and others. Speculating that energy (light) could be persuaded to climb back down a laser beam to us (the source) would require that light from the remote source travel at velocities more than double the observed and theoretical limit.

For my part, I'll be content to search for efficient ways to use the light that reaches us from the sun. There's plenty of energy from that source.

PS: I may not understand the import you ascribe to fiber optics. But, are you aware, that light projected into a fiber optic cable has to be amplified and retransmited at fairly frequent intervals? As I understand it, the light inside the cable bounces its way through the glass, remaining inside the column of glass because it is reflected back into the fiber at the surface. Not a perfect system, but better than many alternatives.


deb said...

Richard, I, also, actually have been in the eye of a hurricane...of course in my case the storm came to me. The eye must change quite a bit after it is over land. I could see debris flying around on the "other side" but nothing that I would consider a "wall". The most prominent feature was the color yellow, actually a very pretty shade but not a color I had ever associated with the out of doors. Our area just caught the edge of the eye and it was short lived...I didn't walk outside and look up for fear of the flying debris.

It seems that I frequently have to do a search for words/abbr. that you have in your posts Richard. This time for PI, which, in this case must be the Phillipines. PI actually stands for quite a few things...PI.

Wikipedia is amazing! For those of you that have favorite charities I highly recommend it and it is tax deductible.

Judy B. said...

Posted this in admin by mistake.

I have decided to "tag" the entries that I reviewed (over 500) for personal reasons. I believe that therr are some issues that I might take to the powers that be in the local community, and with the ideas generated by SSB, I think I can make a case.
The first one that I have in mind is gooing to the Electrical Workers Union and the Public Utility District to get a solar apprenticeship and a buyback program started.
So, those of you who are tagging, if you come across energy ideas that include alternative concepts, please tag the solar ones,,

John G. said...

Theoretically the energy needed for the journey would come from the energy generated from the "sweet spot" in the black hole once the connection was made.

If I am correct "Contact" was the film where a code was sent through a radio signal (SETI) for a machine to be built to travel through the universe. I personally believe if there were intelligent life (ET) trying to communicate, it would not use radio waves (exclusively) when light is a more efficient and readily available medium throughout the universe.

I need time to absorb the wealth of information you provide, however it is apparent to me light beam technology has a long way to go and other more readily understood technologies will probably have to come to reality before "LBT" can see the light of day. Perhaps as nanotechnology and fusion power evolve it will lay the foundation for a more practical approach to "LBT" or at the very least become a necessity for their applications.

I love posting with you guys/ much to learn. I leave you today with this thought.

Move a piece of furniture away from a wall where it has sat for many years, there will be a well-defined dusty outline mirroring the shape on the wall. To the naked eye it will appear consistent. Closer inspection will reflect the location of the light fixture and window in this particular room. Now paint the wall, move the light and the window and leave it for as many years as you did the first time. When the piece is again moved will you have the "same" dusty outline?
No. "Dark Energy?" or just Mother Nature's photography?

Richard Yarnell said...

SETI is a passive research activity that started as a government project but is now financed by The Planetary Society and U Cal Berkely. It is the project that proved how valuable "distributive computing" can be. I have two computers crunching numbers looking for signals that might have a non-natural origin.

(You can too by downloading a program that runs when you're not using your machine. Google on SETI to get to the SETI site. There's an education to be had there. There are also other projects that do similar work on biology, climate, physics, and chemistry. There are even commercial sites that pay you for the use of your computer doing work for their commercial clients. I participated in the search for candidate proteins when Anthrax was found in DC. Enough people participated (over a million) that, I believe, two screening rounds were completed in less than a month. I'd like to be working on the climate models but my computers are too old and slow to be of much use for that.)

SETI, as I said, is entirely passive. We listen with very sensitive and sophisticated receivers to the celestial noise. It began that we listened to one frequency at a time. Now it's millions. What Contact depicted was the discovery of a signal that had intelligent origins and that contained data.

If there is an extra-terrestrial SETI, we have our own bubble of transmissions that, theoretically, have reached a distance of almost 100 light years distance from earth. Whether Amos and Andy, or I Love Lucy, or My Favoritee Martian will be perceived as signs of intelligence is debatable. Whether our silly transmissions will be given more weight than our obviously belligerant military transmission, could be important. But if someone in our vicinity is listening, it's possible we'll be detected.

Whether there is a reason to use light rather than radio transmission is beyond me. There are some practical considerations among which might be that transmission by radio is likely to come before the capability to communicate by light. (My family's first remote TV control was based on sound. Only much later did it rely on microwaves and now infra-red light sensors. I suspect that the shorter the wavelength the more vulnerable it will be to interference, but please, don't quote me on that.)

I believe I've read there are efforts to detect intelligently manipulated light sources. However, the ability to detect extremely faint light sources is only now coming on line and is limited to places where it's dark.


John G. said...

Recently I have been calking windows and replacing all my incandescent bulbs with high intensity fluorescents...You can believe right now I am headed to the SETI site...thanx again Richard, You should be a teacher.

ps. I too will settle for the sun.(for now) Would fiber optic cables run from the roof of the house to glow bulbs in a room be feasable? Could the technology for night vision be incorporated into "glow bulbs" when the sun is on the other side? Basically a simple inexpensive solar energy system that meets only our lighting needs?

Judy B. said...

The articles about the Iranian Oil Burse and the global currency market, gold prices and oil production seem to be rapidly converging into even larger economic problems for America.

This one is about OPEC

Judy B. said...

The following is about gold, and is kind of a follow up of my last post...(that is why i am posting it under energy).

It came to me as an email from one of my investor advisors. I have deleted more than half of it but it is still long..

" Eric Fry, reporting from Wall Street...
Today's gold investors are out of touch.

They are out of touch with the modern monetary system; they
are out of touch with the American "productivity miracle";
they are out of touch with Chairman Bernanke's notion of a
global "savings glut"; they are out of touch with the
belief in perpetual American economic hegemony; they are
out of touch with the concept of consumption-driven

According to a freshly minted research report by Chevereux
analyst, Paul Mylchreest, the gold price is in the process
of moving higher...much higher. ...

All major sources of supply are declining, says Mylchreest,
at the very same moment that many major sources of demand
are rising...and will continue to rise. To make things even
more interesting, the global gold market already faces an
annual supply shortage of about 600 tonnes.

First, let's take a peek at the waning sources of supply...

World mine production has failed to increase since the end
of the 1990s, and actually fell by 5% in 2004, according to
the World Gold Counsel. The drop in production is no great
mystery. Gold prices were so low throughout the 1990s, that
the mining companies sharply curtailed their exploration
efforts. "[Once] exploration has been sharply cut," Newmont
Mining's CEO, Pierre Lassonde, explains, "it takes at least
seven to eight years for a rise in price to generate not
just exploration, but the subsequent exploitation of the
results..." In other words, the global gold mining industry
will not be ramping up supplies any time soon.

Meanwhile, Western central banks appear to be curtailing
both "official" and "unofficial" sales of gold. In the name
of "reserve diversification," these banks have been
unloading tonnes of gold from their vaults every year.
(Ironically, Eastern central banks have enlisted the
identical phrase to INCREASE their gold holdings). European
central banks, in particular, have been conspicuous sellers
of gold for several years. At the same time, they have been
lending their gold to bullion banks, who in turn, have been
selling it – in some way, shape or form – into the open

But now it appears that Western central banks are reducing
their direct official sales, while also restraining their
gold-lending activities. Chevreux estimates that central
banks have trimmed their gold loans outstanding by more
than 2,000 tonnes over the last two years.

The global gold mining industry is also reducing its gold-
selling activities. Throughout the 1990s, many gold
producers "sold forward" their production to lock in a
profit. These hedging transactions have been artificially
suppressing the gold price for several years. But now that
the gold price is rallying, many mining companies fear that
selling their future production at today's prices will
merely hedge away their future profits. So they are cutting
back. Chevreux estimates that global gold producers have
trimmed their forward sales by about 42% - a drop from
2,271 tonnes to 1,323 tonnes.

All the while that the supply are drying up, demand is soaring.

The central banks of China and Russsia, for example, have
been boosting their gold holdings, while promising to buy
even more. Last November, the Russian central bank
announced plans to double its gold reserves. A few days
later, President Putin remarked, "I support the proposal
that the central bank pay greater attention to precious
metals in forming our gold and foreign exchange reserves."
Chinese officials have voiced similar intentions...all of
which conjures up some fascinating 'what if' scenarios.

For example, even though Japan and China have the eighth
and tenth largest gold holdings in the world, these gold
holdings are equivalent to only 1.1% and 1.3% of their
respective reserves. "If we were to assume," Salman
Partners reasons, "that these two countries were to
increase their holdings by 50%, to [only] 1.6% and 2.0% of
reserves, respectively, these two central banks alone would
have to purchase more than 680 tonnes of gold in the open
market (equivalent to 27% of last year's mine supply). We
do not anticipate a change of this magnitude in 2006;
however,...even a slight shift towards higher gold reserve
levels outside of Europe and the USA could have an enormous
impact on the price of gold."

. Several Eastern central banks hold grotesquely
large positions in U.S. Treasury securities, alongside
their curiously petite holdings of gold. But recently, a
few key banks have halted or slowed their purchases of
Treasuries. "There has certainly been a slowdown in the
rate at which China has been buying US Treasuries in the
second half of 2005," Chevreaux notes, "and Japanese
holdings have been flat throughout 2005. These trends for
the two largest holders of Treasury securities are a
potential worry for the US Treasury and the Fed."

"At some point, both central banks and private institutions
will have their fill of dollars," former Fed chairman, Paul
Volcker, remarked one year ago. "I don't know whether
change will come with a bank or with a whimper, whether
sooner or later...It is more likely that it will be
financial crisis rather than policy foresight that will
force the change."

At some point, in other words, gold will flirt with a four-
digit price tag...that point may be fast-approaching."

Judy B. said...

Compare gas prices around the world

Judy B. said...

A little help for Washington state farmers:
OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) -- Gov. Chris Gregoire has signed a bill repealing the sales tax on off-road farm diesel, a move aimed at easing the impact of rising fuel prices on farmers.

Richard Yarnell said...

"Would fiber optic cables run from the roof of the house to glow bulbs in a room be feasable? Could the technology for night vision be incorporated into "glow bulbs" when the sun is on the other side?"

Wouldn't it be cheaper to build a greenhouse?

There are daylighting systems that don't rely on very expensive optic fibers. Essentially they are mirror finished tubes that collect light on the roof and direct it to interior rooms below that otherwise wouldn't receive sun. The amount of light transmitted is equal to the aperature of the tube less the losses on the way down. I suppose they are equivalent to an optic cable that uses air as the medium instead of glass.

Judy B. said...

This story has been of vital concern here in Southwest Washington. One of our powerhouses was destroyed and insurance company has been fighting paying for the loss. If the insurance company wins, it will mean that our electricity rates go up once again, to pay for the rebuild.
This is on top of GW's efforts to raise our rates for hydroelectric rates from the Bonneville Power Administration. Our area used to have low power rates, making us competitive for industrial expansion, particularly in the aluminium industry. Now those plants have shut down putting hundreds out of work. We will hope that the lawsuit is won by our PUD.

Judy B. said...

Several corporations, in an effort to make a profit, are using the "energy crisis" to get approval for new electrical power plants in the Northwest.
My concern is how they are doing it. In some cases, they have found ways to get around state environmental standards. And have held public hearings that are mandated, in out of the way places during this winters bad weather. Still people have shown up to voice their concern.

"Firm may switch gears from gas- to coal-fired power plant"

Judy B. said...

this is another article about how Northwesterners are dealing with environmental issues (salmon) and energy issues. We do have some out here who are willing to do the right thing.

Judy B. said...

Another energy related article from todays local paper. this sounds like good news. I do wish I could figure out how to make links.

"Port's wind tower business picks up"

dan said...

I'll try to read the four articles tomorrow. I just read the 114 page "America For Sale", and I'm kinda drained right now.

Richard Yarnell said...

Per your request:

I'm not qualified to comment on the insurrance matters relating to the collapse of the power house.


Richard Yarnell said...

Lower Columbia Clean Energy Center

It depends on what technology they'll install. Here is a paragraph from an article desribing two Florida demostration projects that will use "combined cycle" on-site gassifaction of several different grades of coal, including fairly low grade, high sulphur coal.

"The transport gasifier offers a simpler, more robust method for generating energy from coal than other available alternatives. It is unique among coal gasification technologies in that it is cost-effective when handling low rank coal, as well as coals with high moisture or high ash content. These coals make up half the proven U.S. and worldwide reserves. In addition, the technology produces 20 percent to 25 percent less carbon dioxide, on average, than coal-based generation in place today."

I'd like to know where the reporter got the carbon dioxide figure. It's my understanding that this technology is expected to have a major roll in reducing our need to import oil.

You might ask the paper if they know shether the technology proposed is the combined cycle one or another that produces more CO2 and if so, why the best isn't being considered.


Richard Yarnell said...

Not only do we have Bush trying to get money out of the Columbia/Snake dams, we have a salmon run crisis, and lately, we have a plague of protected sea lions sitting just below the dam gorging themselves on returning salmon. The problem is so bad that the Corps of Engineers (those guys always get it right, don't they?) spent over a million dollars to build a grating to keep the sea lions from swimming up the fish ladders. You guessed it, at least one has found his way through.

I'll bet it changed the fish counter's day when that large mammal appeared in the window of the counting room.

They're going to have to start killing the sea lions if they want a decent return of migrating salmon.

As for Wyden: typical Oregon - long, gangly, a little clumsy, poor as a church mouse, and one of the most dedicated public servants you'll find. Originated Grey Panthers and has been an advocate of elder issuses since he was in his twenties.


Richard Yarnell said...

For anyone who's interested:

We've started the serious process of building an energy efficient house. I'm going to try to chronicle the process, what we learn, what works and what doesn't, at

I'll try to keep it current - it will start slowly, for sure - and I'll try to address questions if there are any (but no promises).

Judy B. said...

Here is one man's opinion on alternative energy..This from on of my investment reports:

"Hi, my name is Pat Cross and I am a Mechanical/Electrical
Engineer, with an MBA, working in the Detroit automotive
industry. Here are my thoughts on ethanol and bio diesel:

"I want to warn you and your colleagues about the economic
viability of the ethanol production from grains. In the
early 1980's my former employer (an auto company) conducted
extensive research on ethanol, and concluded that ethanol
production is an "energy drain". This means it takes more
energy to produce the ethanol than the ethanol produces.
Once you factor in fertilizing, planting, harvesting, and
transportation of the grains, and then add the energy
consumed in the processing of the grains to fuel, and
transporting that fuel to market, you have a net loss of
energy. (This net loss of energy means the ethanol
production will not be long term commercially viable as a
means of producing fuel. Its current pseudo short term
economic viability is a result of the ethanol being used as
a part of the mandatory blending process to make unleaded
gasoline cleaner)...

"Although I have not studied sugar ethanol production, if
what I correct, simple math shows sugar ethanol
can not be an energy gain. I read that it takes 1.2 tons of
sugar to produce the energy equivalent of a barrel of oil.
This is 2400 lbs. Simply dividing $60.00 oil by 2400 lbs
means sugar must be less then $.025 per pound for sugar
ethanol to break even. This does not even take into account
the processing costs of the sugar to ethanol. Even at
$100.00 oil, sugar would need to be less then 4.1 cents per
pound to have a chance of being economically viable. I do
not know the sugar processing business, but the local
plants here use a lot of energy to convert sugar beets to
sugar. (Their stacks resemble power plants while sugar
production is going on). You have to ask yourself, 'Can
sugar be produced at less than 4 cents per pound with
energy costing of $100 /bbl?' I suspect not.

"Bio diesel, if done correctly has potential to be a net
energy gain. In my opinion, bio diesel must be made from
'scrap' or 'waste' materials for the production to be
profitable. I cannot imagine that the energy used in
raising turkeys and converting them to fuel, for example,
would be less than the energy contained in the bio diesel.
However, utilizing organic waste, manures, trash, scrap
oil, used cooking oils, animal fat from slaughter houses,
etc. to produce the fuel would have potential. I think
getting a cheap source of the fuel (like waste materials)
and having the process efficient so the net energy gained
would be more than the net energy consumed is the key in
evaluating long term economic viability of the alternative
fuel. Blending bio diesel with diesel would be a method to
"standardize" the grades, making the end product more

"There is a possibility that ethanol from garbage and other
wastes may be an energy gain. I would say that it could
only occur where the garbage would not need to be shipped
far, and would have to see some type of feasibility study
to confirm that production could occur as an energy gain...

"I know I have not suggested any hot alternative energy
stocks. Hopefully, you can use this information to
carefully evaluate potential companies others suggest. I
see a lot of companies going down the wrong path. Please
remember, 'The energy produced must be greater than the
total energy consumed in the entire process' for any
alternative energy program to have a chance of long term
feasibility, and reducing our reliance on oil."

Richard Yarnell said...

Mr Cross seems to agree with almost everyone who has studied to problem.

I think he goes wrong when he does an economic assessment (price of sugar) rather than an energy balance assessment.

On the other hand, if someone can come up with small scale plants that eliminate the need to transport anything very far, and if we make a concerted effort to recycle waste material appropriately, not only can the energy equations work, but so can the economic ones. The trick will be to deal with more than one outcome at a time.

For example, if one has a large slaughterhouse, where it makes sense to build a rendering plant and a bio-diesel fractionating plant, then the waste heat from one process can do double duty, transport is eliminated, and if the product is delivered locally or at most regionally, then that cost too, is reduced.

There is organic waste in almost every food processing operation. At the very least, with careful and imaginative engineering, the waste for which thee is no better use should be subject to processing into gas or liquid fuel or plastic, something useful, on site. The fuel can either be used to power the plant or shipped somplace where it can be used.

Our problem is that we haven't had to be very efficient.

In farming, water has been used at a prodigious rate. Only when water tables were pumped down far enough that there is danger we'll run out or that the cost of pumping has become a burden, we serious research done on micro-irrigation (drip irrigation). It turns out that it's cheap enough to install that it's worthwhile and farmers are using small fractions of the water they used to. Other benefits are longer productive life of soil, less need for weed suppression, the ability to apply carefully regulated amounts of fertilizer only to the plants thus reducing both runoff and the build-up of salts in the soil.

As IBM use to say, in ads we have to learn, as a society, to THINK AHEA

John G. said...

"As IBM use to say, in ads we have to learn, as a society, to THINK AHEAD."
I could not agree more...WAY AHEAD.

Have you ever seen a movie called "Last of the dogmen?"
I just received my first light bill after changing to flourescent bulbs and calking windows, a 22% reduction over last year,that includes the fuel cost adjustment whch we did not have last year.
Thanx again for the tip Richard, good luck on the house.
"Waayy Aahead"

Judy B. said...

The market drives and responds to the economy... see this one about wind power

Judy B. said...

Richard, i nominate you to be the energy czar....

I saw a program on Linktv about gas from sugar cane in South America... Brazil i think... They use every part of the cane, from making gas for cars, using some of the leftovers for feed ing livestock and burning the remainder to provide electricy to run their operations. Sounds like your small scale operation, richard, all at one site.. and that site was right in the middle of hundreds (thousands?) of acres of sugar cane..
From what I can gather, sugar has more possibilities for multiple uses than corn...

christin m p in massachusetts said...

Regarding the article about the rapid increase in usage of wind power -- that's wonderful news.

To All,
Here is an article on Germany's renewable energy jobs outlook:

I'm wondering how this will effect the U.S. renewable energy jobs outlook...

Judy B. said...

The really good news to come out of Katrina Iraq et al is that the MARKET has arrived...
Corporations are now going all out to have a part of this new alternative energy market...without an energy policy from the bush administration...
The competition for business in a newly polarized American economy will do for us what DOS did for the computer...
As companies get up and going in producinc solar panals, the costs will go down and soon we will all benefit.. as with other energy efficient manufacturing jobs...
that may paint things a liottle too rosy, but I beleive it will happen..

Judy B. said...

The really good news to come out of Katrina Iraq et al is that the MARKET has arrived...
Corporations are now going all out to have a part of this new alternative energy market...without an energy policy from the bush administration...
The competition for business in a newly polarized American economy will do for us what DOS did for the computer...
As companies get up and going in producinc solar panals, the costs will go down and soon we will all benefit.. as with other energy efficient manufacturing jobs...
that may paint things a liottle too rosy, but I beleive it will happen..

John G. said...

I was in a local shopping mall the other day and had an opportunity to see a 'plasma" globe. I believe you know what I am referring too, there is a ball surrounded by plasma in the middle and as you touch the encasing globe "beams" of plasma connect with your finger tips, almost resembling lightning strikes. The more you move your hand around the globe the beams follow...not straight.
I tell you this because it is a very small representation of what I envision light beams and lasers of tomorrow to look like. Most light beams or lasers we have referred to recently all represent a straight line which can be blocked or changed by certain elements as it attempts to pass through. A "light beam" or "laser" with the same basic "behavior" as one of those plasma globes would seem to find the (wire) path of least resistance from point a to point b while simultaneously negating the chances of being blocked, achieving it's primary objective of making the connection. Can you insert some reality into this theory?

If you would also entertain this sci-fi thought please.
A giant round float within a hurricane capable of shooting out lasers similar to the plasma globe, as these lasers sense the eye walls spinning, they use the movements of the eye wall to spin the float, creating energy...