Monday, December 10, 2007

Energy Options to Tackle Global Warming

The question as to how we combat global warming on the energy front given that nuclear energy is not an option for several reasons and the Rudd government is relying heavily on “clean coal” and sequestration, which is only on the drawing board as yet and may not be proven for 15 years-we don’t have that sort of time so our transitional time for gas fired power plants will have to be very short. And biofuels are not a good idea due to global warming causing unreliable weather conditions failing the parent crop and biofuels causing food shortages as well. Notions of renewable energy being somewhere in the mix as a niche or damaging the economy has been shown to be very wrong it remains that renewable energy our insurance is going to play a very much more important role than we ever dreamed of. Thoughts of renewable energy always come with wind generators foremost in the public’s mind with lots more spread around the country and in distribution together with flow batteries can level out peaks and provide some medium power. But Australia in particular has abundant other sources of renewable energy. The sun’s energy falling on Australia in one day is equal to half the total annual energy required by the whole world and can be tapped by solar towers [1] or PV cells [8] or concentrated solar thermal stations with storage enabling it alone to provide base power production for all of Australia [2] and in America with Australian know how is now in the commercialization phase [3] and will provide power at equal to or cheaper than fossil fueled power. Pity the Howard government caused those scientists to go off shore. They should be here now doing it and we selling it to the world! Solar thermal stations work well in desert areas [1] [3] [7] and we have plenty of that as has the Middle East and China. Solar thermal power in conjunction with geothermal power [4] using HVDC transmission lines [3] [7] which in themselves tend to stabilize transmission, could provide large amounts of base medium or peak power on demand. Wave energy and tide [5] in the demonstration phase and touted to be able to provide 10 times more than Australia uses and as Australian cities are in the main spread around the coast could easily provide that power and the system inherently producing high pressure sea water for desalination as well. All of the above can provide power to produce hydrogen for motor vehicles with fuel cells but in the lab are new ways to do it directly from sunlight water and ceramics and there are new ways to store it. If given the political will the hydrogen economy would soon be here. And in the commercialization phase slither solar cells [6] at least four times cheaper than conventional cells and much more efficient should be on every roof. The Rudd government has promised it will very greatly increase spending on renewables. They will have to be kept up to it and do even MORE on this front than they have promised.
[1] http://www.enviromission.com.au/
[2] http://www.trec.net.au/
[3] http://www.ausra.com/
[4] http://www.aussiehotrocks.com/
[5] http://www.ceto.com.au/home.php
[6] http://www.originenergy.com.au/1160/Solar-manufacturing-facility-SLIVER-plant
[7] http://www.trec-uk.org.uk/index.htm
[8] http://www.solarsystems.com.au/

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

There is a new world wide web emerging right before our eyes.

It is a global energy network and, like the internet, it will change our culture, society and how we do business. More importantly, it will alter how we use, transform and exchange energy.

For more information, see http://www.terrawatts.com

cyclone said...

Don't be so quick to write of Bio fuels. There is temendous scope for using currently wasted resources for methanol production and for oil seed extraction utilizing say soybeans and using the high protien medium carbohydrate meal for animal or even human consumption. If you have ever eaten a suasage you have had soy meal. Alternative crops for paper production will preserve our forests provide the nessessary fibres and bi products could make methanol. The great thing about bios, is that as our storage increases it is a direct reduction of carbon load in the atmosphere. Cyclone

enviro said...

I have a great concern about using edible crops and we will still end up in producing air pollution though seemingly not as severe as what we have now. But there is scope for currently wasted resources or other natural occurring fibers if whatever is used is not affected by global warming/weather change. In the end though bio fuels are more of a transitional phase and the real effort long term has to be in extracting energy from natural flows and hot rocks and transmitting it to the populations.