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  •  I'll add to that... (4+ / 0-)

    The post falls short by simplifying the solution to use less. What we should be advocating is alternative means of generating electricity in addition to efficient utilization of it.

    Electricity has to come from somewhere because it's a basic tenant of the standard of living we enjoy.

    Now, I might know a thing or two about energy because I am in an energy-specific research group. I deal with batteries. My other colleagues deal with thermoelectrics and one other deals with magnetic semiconductors.

    As far as generating electricity from a molecular/atomic fuel...
    Fusion of deuterium and tritium (2 hydrogens, to simplify things) to form helium and a high energy neutron. This is our number one holy grail to solving electricity needs and significantly making a crater in how much carbon-based fuels we use.

    But why the other stuff in batteries, thermoelectrics, photovoltaics, etc?

    Because it will be a while before we make fusion reactors the size of briefcases (I pulled that one out of my rear so I don't really know it's possible). :)

    So, we use what we have in the meantime. Those sorts of things once they're made get used for quite some time before needing replacement. Coal is burn once for your electricity but the others will keep generating for some time - this is where they have a lot more utility.

    If the polymeric based solar cells can achieve 15% efficiency or higher, then, they are more than well worth their cost in terms of making them energy and material wise. There are groups who achieved 10%. Did I mention that they're flexible too? :P

    So don't knock on solar panels!

    Why hello there reality, how are you doing?

    by Future Gazer on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 08:04:41 AM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  so you make money off stuff (0+ / 0-)

      and you'd like us to go on using more electricity.

      The cure for an overly consumptive society isn't to buy more stuff.

      I'm glad you are doing research, science brings much good to the world, what we don't need are more gizmos to allow us to use ever more resources to toss in some landfill.

      How big is your personal carbon footprint?

      by ban nock on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 08:38:26 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  How did you get that from that comment? (0+ / 0-)

        Seriously?

        What we should be advocating is alternative means of generating electricity in addition to efficient utilization of it.
        That's what Future Gazer said.  Not "go on using more electricity".

        "Furthermore, if you think this would be the very very last cut ever if we let it happen, you are a very confused little rabbit." cai

        by JesseCW on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 08:42:54 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Sure I make money off stuff (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dragonlady

        I am a graduate student. I take home $1,700 per month. My rent is $764/month.

        The basic energy equation goes like this (chemical engineers, rejoice!):

        net = production - consumption + accumulation

        Current production is mostly based off of coal, gas, and fission. Very little of it is solar, wind, etc. The Department of Energy has figures for this that I wish I can snap my fingers and dig up for you.

        The difference between solar/wind/hydro and coal/gas/fission is that once you make your solar/wind/hydro, you get electricity generated as long as you have sun, wind and a flowing river. The efficiency of these things being even just half of the efficiency of carbon-fuel based plants makes it worth while. It will "make up" for the resources it consumed for its production. IT just takes time.

        Solar and wind have the additional benefit of not being as  constrained by geography.

        We will always have consumption of some sort so the production term needs to have greater fractions of alternative sources of electricity. The number one thing that will dominate production hopefully within my lifetime is fusion. It does take a tremendous amount of energy to start up but once you get it going, it is just like the sun. However, you get helium as a byproduct instead of carbon dioxide with respect to carbon-fired plants.

        Now on the consumption side.... what you propose is reducing consumption to near zero which is not possible. I prefer light bulbs over candles and I can't get my computer to run off my own blood sugar.

        Engineers and scientists address some some aspect that equation I described. I talked about some of the production stuff.

        Now I'll talk about consumption. You know those old light bulbs that had a tungsten filament inside? They're maybe 1% efficient... producing maybe 10-15 lumens per watt. Fluorescent lights produce more like 50+ lumens per watt. Right there, you can achieve similar lighting conditions with less watts. LED's can achieve even greater lumens per watt.

        The same progress can be found in all kinds of electronic devices. Today, all of the computing power we have on the market today consumes less electricity for the same or even greater amounts of computing power relative to the old stuff from the 80's and 90's.

        The laptops today can survive off of a battery pack for 7 hours or so. My old one will do 3 hours if I keep the screen dim.

        TO address the landfill issue, there are people looking into cradle to cradle product life maps. The old paradigm was cradle to grave. There's an example of a cloth being made where the waste in the production was very treatable water (no harsh chemicals needed) and its product "grave" was use as strawberry mulch.

        Why hello there reality, how are you doing?

        by Future Gazer on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 09:21:23 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

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