Al Gore & Guy Dauncey's Energy Challenge to the World

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Al Gore & Guy Dauncey's Energy Challenge to the World

Post by NeilBlanchard » Fri Jul 18, 2008 2:55 am

Hello,

Al Gore gave a speech today at D. A. R. Constitution Hall, in which he challenges us to convert over to 100% renewable energy sources for our electricity in 10 years.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/stor ... d=92634635

You can listen to the speech using the link in the upper left. Please, listen before you respond!

He speaks of three major problems that all can be solved by doing this:

:arrow: The economic problems brought on by high energy prices

:arrow: The security problems brought on by our dependence on a finite energy source

:arrow: The environmental challenges of burning carbon fuels are numerous.

He has started a web site called We Can Solve It, where you can get other details:

http://www.wecansolveit.org/

[Update: please read my post about Guy Dauncey.]
Last edited by NeilBlanchard on Sat Aug 09, 2008 7:01 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Post by NeilBlanchard » Fri Jul 18, 2008 2:56 am

Hello,

The cost estimate from the Scientific American "Grand Solar Plan" (which was to provide 69% of all our electrical needs) was just 420 billion. Not too much really.

That is for ~30,000 square miles of mostly photovoltaic panels, with some solar heat collection (which I prefer), high voltage DC transmission (very efficient apparently -- only 10% loss from coast to coast!) and it included underground compressed air storage to cache excess power, which then provides power when the solar systems are not producing enough. Also, a large company recently released some details about a system that used molten salt to hold high heat (1100F) for a long time, so overnight generation from solar heat plants is doable, if not for longer.

Here's the article (though they have pulled the nice images that were in it at the beginning):
http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=a-solar-grand-plan

They were shooting for 2050 -- quite a bit longer than what Al Gore is proposing.

If we were to combine this "grand solar plan" with what Lester R. Brown proposes in Plan B 3.0 -- which is to build 1.5 million 2MW wind turbines (using some idled assembly lines?) by 2020; to replace ALL the coal fired power plants! Again, not quite as fast as what Al Gore is proposing -- but the coal plants are also about 70% of our electricity; and they are by far the worst offenders in carbon dioxide output.

And T. Boone Pickens seems to agree. :o

If we add in geothermal deep drilling, and/or wave power along the coasts (or offshore wind power!), then I think it is doable -- and trying is everything! We will see immediate benefits! And as Al Gore points out -- we will see huge improvements on three fronts all at once.

The savings from scaling back (and stopping?) the Iraq War alone could easily pay for this.
Last edited by NeilBlanchard on Fri Jul 18, 2008 6:24 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by croddie » Fri Jul 18, 2008 5:21 am

In his speech, Gore tied reliance on foreign oil to various issues, including the worsening shape of the economy, increasing gasoline prices and electricity rates, mortgage pressures and banking problems.

Gore implored Americans to commit to "changing not just light bulbs, but laws," adding that he believes America must produce all of its electricity from renewable and carbon-free sources within 10 years.
First high energy prices are not solved by this. If renewable energy were cheaper than fossil fuel conversion would occur naturally in the economy without any intervention. Mortgages and banking problems... crazy.
That said it is an important economic issue with renewable power being in the long run very important for ensuring low energy prices as technology improves and while oil runs out.
It's also an important environmental issue and somewhat important as a foreign policy issue.

The problem with Gore's plan is it's just crazy idealism. Only a politician would come up with a plan like that. 100%, 10 years... nice round numbers.
By 2050 the costs of large-scale conversion to solar power will be much less than by 2018, as technology improves. There is time to invest heavily in research.

Yes, more current use of renewable energy would be worthwhile, using the most cost effective supplies, including nuclear (which don't have to be as cheap as fossil, but not too much more expensive). But 100% in 10 years is madness.

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Post by Avalanche » Fri Jul 18, 2008 5:27 am

Good choice for a topic, Neil.

First off, ending our reliance on fossil fuels for power generation in 10 years is completely unrealistic. I don't have any numbers, but I think going to the moon was easier.

At the same time, I agree that trying is very important. We could save a lot of money by not fighting both sides of the GWOT.

The heavily subsidized project proposed by T. Boone Pickens claim to produce 4GW, or about 0.12% of the 3.3TW that the US currently consumes as electricity. But it's a start, and we can see how it goes. I don't think the compressed air energy storage has been done on that kind of scale either, so we'll see how that goes.

I'll read We Can Solve It and re-join the conversation.

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Post by Tzupy » Fri Jul 18, 2008 5:30 am

First I though the title was 'Al Gore's 10 hours challenge to the US', where the challenge was listening to Al Gore for 10 hours without falling asleep. :lol:

The plan itself is crazy, IMO: putting ALL your eggs in one basket is extremely hazardous.
How high would the prices of materials involved in the manufacturing of photovoltaic cells rise?
If a supervolcano would spit millions of tons of ash into the atmosphere, all those solar cells would be useless.

I know that there are several significant advances in solar cells, but those take time to come to market.
I agree that something like 20% in 10 years would be a good target, but 100% is BS.
IMO the countries that can afford should start building new and modern nuclear reactors ASAP, and we should hurry with the experimental fusion reactor.

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Post by Avalanche » Fri Jul 18, 2008 5:50 am

croddie wrote:First high energy prices are not solved by this. If renewable energy were cheaper than fossil fuel conversion would occur naturally in the economy without any intervention.
I'm usually a capitalist, free market kind of guy, but someone recently explained to me that the free market doesn't work for things that cost billions of dollars, like nuclear power plants. Sure, you can produce cheap electricity, there's lots of demand so you can make a profit selling it, but the cost of insurance combined with the initial investment make it impossible to build. No one has that much money, and banks won't lend that much. So the free market seems to fail in this case. At least that's how I understand it. :?

Wikipedia Article about Cost of Nuclear Power Plants

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Post by NeilBlanchard » Fri Jul 18, 2008 6:21 am

Hi y'all,

The Iraq War is costing us ~10 Billion dollars per month, or about 200 Million per day -- and that may be just for the military. We are borrowing that money, so the interest over time will easily put the cost well over 1 Trillion dollars.

If we were to spend just a fraction of that money on energy independence, as Al Gore is proposing, not only would we not need to fight in Iraq, we would stop spending $2,600,000,000 PER DAY on oil. (Based on 20 million barrels / day @ $130 / barrel).

ALL of that money goes to the oil companies and to the countries where we buy it!

Add to this that we can stop mining coal, and we can use natural gas for heating (and to run some vehicles?) -- the positives add up pretty quickly.

If we spend the money on building the solar, wind, geothermal, wave, and grid infrastructure -- we employ a lot of Americans -- and the only cost for our electricity would be for maintenance. The energy itself would be "free".

We improve our security.

We improve our economy.

We improve our environment.



Why would we not do this?




Currently, we have all of our eggs in other countries' basket. Solar, wind, geothermal, wave, biomass -- this is diversified!



Please actually LISTEN to the speech!
Sincerely, Neil
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Post by IsaacKuo » Fri Jul 18, 2008 12:49 pm

NeilBlanchard wrote:Why would we not do this?
Because it's far too important that environmentalists are ALWAYS wrong.

The powers that be desperately want a repeat of the 1970's proving that environmentalism is disastrous to the economy and the 1980's proving that free market fundamentalism is good for the economy.

The free market fundamentalists were smugly triumphant going into the new millenium absolute in their knowledge that the shining 2000's would repeat the economic boom of the 1980's and usher in an age of permanent Republican majority.

Instead, it's looking like the 2000's are becoming this generation's 1970's...a stinging object lesson that most average USAians will not soon forget. It shows us where free market fundamentalism really brings us. (Really, it's all part of a common inevitable pattern going all the way back to the 1980's Savings and Loans fiasco...we just didn't want to see it.)

What could be even worse than the shameful 2000's for the movement? If the 2010's are a proud age of rebuilding, fixing our major problems with big environmentalist government projects.

No, no, sorry. That's just unthinkable. And its your fault if the heads of all the people in the National Review explode just thinking about it. So there.
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Post by NyteOwl » Sat Jul 19, 2008 1:54 pm

I'm surprised anyone considers him credible in this area. The man's family, and his activities have a environmental footprint large enough for probably a dozen or more average US families. The man is a hyprocrit that is making thousands if not millions of dollars in consulting and appearance fees while ignoring the practices he so loudly preaches. Nobel price winner? Bah!
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Post by blackworx » Sat Jul 19, 2008 2:16 pm

Y'all may be interested to read this article.
A topflight science brainbox at Cambridge University has weighed into the ever-louder and more unruly climate/energy debate with several things that so far have been mostly lacking: hard numbers, willingness to upset all sides, and an attempt to see whether the various agendas put forward would actually stack up.
It is a UK-centric piece, but it puts the possibilities of current renewable energy technology into stark perspective considering even Europeans' (relatively) smaller appetite for energy.

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Post by jaganath » Sat Jul 19, 2008 3:51 pm

I will just say, regarding that El Reg article, that it is rather easy to make nuclear win by totally disregarding decomissioning and waste disposal/storage costs, which is what this "brainbox" appears to have done.
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Post by walle » Sat Jul 19, 2008 5:28 pm

Al Gore is a shill and a pathological liar, not to offend him or anything, its just the way it is.


Point blank:
He has no credibility what so ever !

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Post by AZBrandon » Sat Jul 19, 2008 9:17 pm

jaganath wrote:I will just say, regarding that El Reg article, that it is rather easy to make nuclear win by totally disregarding decomissioning and waste disposal/storage costs, which is what this "brainbox" appears to have done.
So I take it you're on the public enemy list across the pond in France? :)
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Post by Bluefront » Sun Jul 20, 2008 1:28 am

Dear Mr Gore, If I were you, I'd solve the energy crisis in my own back-yard with my miracle devices, long before I told everyone else how to do things. Your own energy usage off the grid has been raising rapidly these last few years, even after the installation of your solar panels, wind machine, etc. And you expect the rest of us to follow your example?

And the total cost of your reform proposal.......ridiculous. I suspect the real cost of the switch-over to 100% renewable energy would approach 1000x what you claim. So Mr. Chicken Little, find a new topic to write about. This one has run it's course.
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Post by blackworx » Sun Jul 20, 2008 1:48 am

jaganath wrote:I will just say, regarding that El Reg article, that it is rather easy to make nuclear win by totally disregarding decomissioning and waste disposal/storage costs, which is what this "brainbox" appears to have done.
Dunno. The guy has a track record of being very anti-nuclear. On top of that, it's more an investigation into the technological rather than economic feasibility.

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Post by blackworx » Sun Jul 20, 2008 2:16 am

Bluefront wrote:So Mr. Chicken Little, find a new topic to write about. This one has run it's (sic) course.
Would that that were the case. Unfortunately it is only just beginning. Every long-term challenge the human race faces - food, water, shelter - is in fact one challenge: energy.

Just because the man can be branded a hypocrite (something I would imagine he takes issue with given the use to which his gargantuan energy consumption is put) does not mean he is wrong.

I would point out here and now, before I get my head bitten off, that until yesterday I hadn't seen or heard a word of any of his speeches, films, campaign work, whatever. I'm not making a value judgement on his policies. I'm merely saying that pointing out a man's supposed hypocrisy doesn't justify discarding his argument. That's just muckraking.

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Post by jaganath » Sun Jul 20, 2008 4:18 pm

AZBrandon wrote:
jaganath wrote:I will just say, regarding that El Reg article, that it is rather easy to make nuclear win by totally disregarding decomissioning and waste disposal/storage costs, which is what this "brainbox" appears to have done.
So I take it you're on the public enemy list across the pond in France? :)
nuclear power and France are a great fit, because they have a centralised, "big" government which is prone to making big investments in infrastructure (ie TGV/SNCF, EDF, Gaz de France etc) in a kind of "build it and they will come" mentality. it's considered normal in France for the state to meddle in the economy. they still have "golden shares" in most of the major companies IIRC (ie France Telecom). The UK, frankly, has been incompetent in all things nuclear which does not give a lot of confidence for future expansion of UK nukes. also, in the current climate it's politically impossible for the govt to subsidise the nuclear industry, and probably rightly so.
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What do our opponents mean when they apply to us the label "Liberal?" If by "Liberal" they mean...someone who looks ahead, who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions,who cares about the welfare of the people, who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad...then I'm proud to say I'm a "Liberal."[/size]

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Post by NeilBlanchard » Sun Jul 20, 2008 4:47 pm

Hello,

I think that the nuclear waste is France is also radioactive? Have they figured out what to do with it, yet?

To those who think that energy independence is too expensive -- what is the cost of energy dependence?

We (in the USA) are paying $2,600,000,000 per day for oil. That's 2 point 6 BILLION with a 'B'. (2,000,000 barrels / day @ $130 / barrel.) I think this is way too expensive.

We are borrowing money from China to pay to Saudi Arabia, Russia, etc., to burn oil that is ruining the environment, and we have to go to war to try to secure our future supply -- oh, that makes a lot of sense...
:roll:

Al Gore is exactly right on this, and we would do well to listen to him.
Sincerely, Neil
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Post by Bluefront » Mon Jul 21, 2008 2:33 am

Neil....listening to Gore on any subject, is like reading a book by Brittany Spears' mother on "How to raise children". You know going in, the man cares about one thing.....making money, and nothing about the truth. The fact that he sprinkles a few realities among the many lies he tells.....means nothing. The man is a hypocrite, and a liar.
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Post by quikkie » Mon Jul 21, 2008 6:38 am

NeilBlanchard wrote:I think that the nuclear waste is France is also radioactive? Have they figured out what to do with it, yet?
last I heard Fast Breeder reactors (FBR) were rather efficiently dealing with "waste" from the Pressurised Water reactors, this does however have the rather unfortunate by-product - weapons grade nuclear material which can be left in the reactor (AFAIK) and used up or removed to scare other nations... can anyone else imagine the collective hissy-fit there would be if Iran dared to build a fast breeder?

I don't know if France has any FBR, but I do recall that the UK has (had?)a nuclear waste reprocessing contract with France.
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Post by Tzupy » Mon Jul 21, 2008 6:42 am

This article on Arstechnica seems balanced to me, so both camps may want to read it:
http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20 ... ilure.html
My impression is that Al Gore is going to discredit the very idea of renewable energy, and other believable people should replace him.

Update: I found an interesting article about a solar power installation at Extremetech, I think it's worth reading.
Link to article: http://www.extremetech.com/article2/0,2 ... 042,00.asp
There's a problem with the scale of Al Gore's plan, the need for millions of squeegee-men to clean the solar panels.

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Post by NeilBlanchard » Mon Jul 21, 2008 8:50 am

Hi,

Thanks for posting the links! I liked the ArsTechnica article -- very level headed and realistic. I think the "squeegee" objection in the other article, is a red herring, though.

You know Carl, just because you don't like the messenger, doesn't mean you can dismiss the message out of hand. I recommend the ArsTechnica article (linked above).
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Post by Beyonder » Mon Jul 21, 2008 11:17 am

Bluefront wrote:Dear Mr Gore, If I were you, I'd solve the energy crisis in my own back-yard with my miracle devices, long before I told everyone else how to do things. Your own energy usage off the grid has been raising rapidly these last few years, even after the installation of your solar panels, wind machine, etc. And you expect the rest of us to follow your example?
This is a valid point; however, I would argue that Gore has convinced enough people to decrease their energy usage that it likely offsets his consumption several thousand times or more. Al Gore doesn't need to walk the walk; by convincing others to reduce their energy consumption, he has accomplished far more than he ever could by reducing his house-hold energy consumption.

I do admit that Gore's excessive energy consumption is fundamentally damaging to the ethos of his argument. But the bottom line is: this country needs to find new energy sources. The environmental and political issues associated with our current fuel sources are more than enough to make this painfully obvious.
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Post by jaganath » Mon Jul 21, 2008 2:25 pm

re: an earlier point about massive expansion of solar power pushing up prices, this may not necessarily happen as new concentrating solar tech uses a lot smaller PV panel:

http://www.wired.com/science/discoverie ... lideView=2
SolFocus' concentrating solar panels use mirrors to focus the sun's rays on a small amount of highly efficient photovoltaic material...
The setup allows SolFocus to capture light over a large area while keeping costs down. How much? Stephanie Southerland, head of corporate development, said the company's goal is "cost parity with fossil fuels by 2010."
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What do our opponents mean when they apply to us the label "Liberal?" If by "Liberal" they mean...someone who looks ahead, who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions,who cares about the welfare of the people, who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad...then I'm proud to say I'm a "Liberal."[/size]

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Post by Tzupy » Thu Jul 24, 2008 8:25 am

How about cow power? Check this article: http://www.iop.org/News/news_30839.html
For the full article on cow power, link: http://www.iop.org/EJ/article/1748-9326 ... 34002.html

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Post by jaganath » Thu Jul 24, 2008 10:07 am

There's a problem with the scale of Al Gore's plan, the need for millions of squeegee-men to clean the solar panels.
the solar panels can be coated with superhydrophobic layer to make them self-cleaning:

http://www.physorg.com/news136026100.html
Artificial Lotus Effect: Carbon nanotubes with nanoscopic paraffin coating form superhydrophobic, self-cleaning surfaces
obviously this will increase costs, but i'm just pointing out there is already a technical solution to this problem.
[size=75]JFK:
What do our opponents mean when they apply to us the label "Liberal?" If by "Liberal" they mean...someone who looks ahead, who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions,who cares about the welfare of the people, who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad...then I'm proud to say I'm a "Liberal."[/size]

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Post by Bluefront » Thu Jul 24, 2008 11:23 am

And the problems with those wind machines besides being expensive.....

Noisy.....very noisy.
Kills birds.....not a many as cats do, but a lot.
Expensive to maintain, hard to work on.
The one I know about in northern Missouri has blades 40 yards long, and stands higher than a football field.
Those wind farm pictures you see....at any one time a big percentage are out of service.

Sometime in the future these things might get a lot better, maybe somehow shielded to keep the poor birds out, and made quieter. (but not in my back-yard)
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Post by NeilBlanchard » Fri Jul 25, 2008 7:00 am

Hi Carl,

You're not correct -- wind turbines are not noisy at all. I know because I stood right underneath one. It made a broadband sound -- I'd guess about 55-60dBA. I doubt that you could hear inside of the high school building that was next to the wind turbine (in Hull, MA). It did not whistle, or make any standout noises; everybody who was there with me agreed that noise was not an issue, at all.

The larger wind turbine was barely audible above the sound of the wind in the trees -- I would love to live next to a wind turbine.

As for the dead birds -- show me!

Pollutants from coal fired electric plants, and open strip mining certainly kill plenty of animals, though.

What are the fuel costs for a wind turbine? What are the maintenance costs for a nuclear power plant?
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Post by aristide1 » Fri Jul 25, 2008 1:59 pm

Bluefront wrote: You know going in, the man cares about one thing.....making money, and nothing about the truth.
And master puppeteer Cheney is all about integrity and ethics, which is why he's willing to talk under oath about the Plame issue. :roll:

Hey Scooter, how early on did you know the boss was going to pardon you? Yes there's a team that cares about the truth. What an example they set for society and the world. :shock:
Bluefront wrote: The fact that he sprinkles a few realities among the many lies he tells.....means nothing.
Look at how much you can accomplish with this technique; you can start a war, a syndicated column or talk show followed by all the sheeple, it's a powerful tool, perfected the Karl Rove, who's often mistaken for Thomas Jefferson.
Bluefront wrote: The man is a hypocrite, and a liar.
But not to the degree of the C student from Yale, that's why he's #1. (And not for any postive reasons.)

"NeilBlanchard" said:
"Hi Carl, You're not correct -- ...." <---- Newsflash.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/25851864/

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Post by Bluefront » Sat Jul 26, 2008 12:15 pm

Neil the ones I've heard I can describe as noisy.....a thump. thump, sound you can hear from a long way off, a deep sound you can hear through walls.

Hawks and eagles for some reason seem to be killed more often than other birds....perhaps they're attracted to the noise.

These things have to be located in windy areas for maximum efficiency....obviously. That rules out many places, including my back yard. Thank God.....my solar panel is enough.
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