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Author: DCWD40 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 2407  
Subject: Re: Alt Energy Article Date: 1/7/2012 3:22 PM
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I made this reply to the Fool article:

I can't believe this, "Petroleum's still the most efficient form of energy to invest in right now, and its price is unlikely to drop any time soon." Hawaii has an oil-based economy and it is doing everything it can to move away from this source because of cost.

Natural gas is in abundance. Its price is way down because of oversupply. Why isn't this the short-terms best opportunity?


When I checked the book reviews they claimed that natural gas, not petroleum (crude oil), is the fuel of the future mentioned in the book:

http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com/2010/05/few-thoughts-on-po...

I can't believe this article got past the Fool's editor. There are other comments that breeze past the facts. I have posted a number of DOE and other US government papers over the years that clearly and easily explain the energy trade-offs. None are two-pagers but the statistics and logic is sound. Here is the 2011 DOE/EIA look at energy demand, supply and prices through 2035:

http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/aeo/pdf/0383(2011).pdf

DOE even has its own web site that pulls together the many facets of the US government's involvment with alternative energy:

http://www.afdc.energy.gov/afdc/

Does anyone see anything you "barely understand" here? In fact, isn't everything written in plain English? Editor, where are you?

And who let this past: The "world's hysterical overreaction" to the disaster that is the Fukushima Nuclear Power facility? Yikes! Consider this quote from World Poverty and Human Rights: Cosmopolitan Responsibilities and Reforms, a 2002 book by Thomas Pogge.

In the book, Pogge explains that the poorest 46 percent of humankind have 1.2 percent of global income and their purchasing power per person per day is less than that of $2.15 in the US in 1993; 826 million of them do not have enough to eat. One-third of all human deaths are from poverty-related causes: 18 million annually, including 12 million children under five.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petroleum

Does this author think that 46% of everyone on earth (the poorest of poor) was in their air-conditioned home watching their LCD TV and "overreacting" to Fukushima? Give me a break. Fukushima Daiichi was one of the 15 largest nuclear power stations in the world. This disaster was big. It was a man-made disaster. This is from Wikipedia (with my bolding):

The location of the plant was on a bluff which was originally 35-meters above sea level. During construction, however, TEPCO lowered the height of the bluff by 25-meters. One reason the bluff was lowered was so that the base of the reactors could be constructed on solid bedrock to mitigate the threat posed by earthquakes. Another reason was the lowered height would keep the running costs of the seawater pumps low. TEPCO did not factor in the tsunami risk when planning the site's construction. Therefore, the lowered height would result in the plant being more vulnerable to tsunami.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fukushima_Daiichi

If that doesn't make you squirm, how about this:

In 1990 the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) ranked the failure of the emergency electricity generators and subsequent failure of the cooling systems of plants in seismically very active regions one of the most likely risks. The Japanese Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) cited this report in 2004. According to Jun Tateno, a former NISA scientist, TEPCO did not react to these warnings and did not respond with any measures.

Is it socially responsible for a nuclear power plant to be built so it is vulnerable to earthquakes and/or a tsunami? Is it "overreaction" to worry that such poor planning and non-response to safety agency concerns didn't hide other not so obvious flaws? Is this the classic case of money (low pumping costs) winning over "let's not take a chance with our people and the environment?"

I follow energy closely. Without portable (gasoline) and electric energy, the world as we know it come to a stop. Lots of people would starve. Low cost energy is the key to economic prosperity if you have the clean water and trained population to make it all come together. So, what is the future of energy in the US?

There has been a major boom in oil and gas production in the US. In fact, so much oil is being produced in areas like South Dakota that it has caused US crude oil prices to trade at a discount to other world oil. There is a glut that they are trying to fix by reversing the flow of existing pipelines.

Basing our economy on oil is not the future. There is too little of this long-term. And, even with a glut in the middle of the US, we still need to import lots of oil.

Natural gas is a different story. But, there is a sad history here. Boone Pickens introduced the Pickens Plan on July 8, 2008. He is reported to have spent $58 million advertising this plan which included using natural gas to fuel our trucking fleet. Congress, on both sides of the aisle, support this use of natural gas. But, leadership in Congress insists that there must be a comprehensive energy bill or nothing. So, we still importing oil and are tooling ports that were meant to import natural gas for exporting our home-owned fuel. Sick!

Let me pick one other sore that this Foolish Take irritated. All of these square mile figures are using 2009 technology numbers. Wouldn't it be better to look to the future? Wind turbines being produced today are mostly 2.5 megawatts. Coming soon are 10 megawatt units which, guess what, use less land and generate more power from a single footprint.

http://www.amsc.com/documents/displaypdf.php?id=7516

Oh, and many those 10 MW units are going to be installed offshore. The reason is there is lots of wind out there. Look at where the red (high wind) areas are in the US on the link below. They are off the shore of Boston, NYC and other major cities -- not South Dakota.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind_energy

From Maine to North Carolina there is tremendous wind potential offshore that is close to the markets that need the energy. If you think this through, this quote will make you laugh about the Foolish Take:

Some 40,000 miles of new lines will be needed by the wind sector alone. If we assume that each of these transmission lines requires a 100-foot-wide swath of right-of-way..."

Undersea cables require how much right-of-way that impact economic commerce? You get apples to oranges comparisons when you talk about the future and ignore future technology trends. Need to see that these offshore wind farms exist today? Here is a picture and story about what they are doing in the UK:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/jul/27/uk-offshor...

Oh, and what does that story say:

Generating energy from wind turbines at sea would be cheaper than building new atomic power plants, Europe's climate chief has said, in the latest challenge to the crisis-stricken nuclear industry.

Oooooooooops. Just when we were being told how great a nuclear plant is. And, when does anyone expect them to build a nuclear plant where the power is needed? Is one coming to Central Park in NYC? Or, would miles of those ugly power lines with 100-foot-wide swaths of right-of-way from somewhere far odd be required?

And for those who don't follow superconducting, there are these breakthroughs:

The question of whether room-temperature superconductivity (RTSC) is possible in the copper-oxides has been answered. Superconductors.ORG herein reports the observation of superconductivity near 28 Celsius (83F, 301K) in a senary oxycuprate.

This achievement came as a result of efforts to reformulate the 18C superconductor discovered in March 2011.


http://www.superconductors.org/28c_rtsc.htm

So, what does this mean? If superconducting can be done at room temperature, or close to it, undersea superconducting cables wouldn't require cooling (because it is already cool there from Maine to North Carolina). That a big cost savings. They wouldn't need 100-foot-wide land clearance for wires either because, if you buried the wire three feet underground, it would be cool enough to meet the 18C (64.4 degree) needed for superconducting's first discovery in March. Not knowing what is happening in the real world's labs makes it hard to get future projections in the ballpark.

Oh, and if you don't think this superconducting discovery was noticed, even Congressman Ron Paul's personal Web site covered this news story. Imagine that.

I see the move to wind, solar, and other alternatives as necessary -- and not just because states like California have mandated 33% renewables by 2020. Filling the air with burnt fuels is a health hazard. It may even be harming the planet. Since we have the technology to do better, why not do the socially responsible thing and encourage alternatives?

Sorry for the rant but there is a lot more that I could say about the Foolish Take but will not...

W.D.
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