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Since diving into the deep end when it comes to energy issues, almost every day sees new fascinating concepts, approaches, and technologies.  Fascinating ... exciting ... even hope inspiring at times.  And, as well, as the passion builds, so many of these are truly Energy COOL.  

One of the most powerful images for a renewable energy future, a burning hot one we might suggest, is TREC, which is a grand vision for connecting solar power in North Africa, wind power from the Eastern Mediterranean to the North Sea, bio-mass, and hydropower with a high-voltage direct current (HVDC) system of power lines to provide assured renewable electricity for the Mediterranean basin and Europe.

This concept, which has seemed ever so Renewable Energy COOL to me from the first time I encountered it, looks to be moving down a path from fantastic innovative concept to potential reality as Europe is heading toward an initial investment of $10 billion dollars in DESERTEC.

According to a good Guardian article,

Europe is considering plans to spend more than £5bn on a string of giant solar power stations along the Mediterranean desert shores of northern Africa and the Middle East.

More than a hundred of the generators, each fitted with thousands of huge mirrors, would generate electricity to be transmitted by undersea cable to Europe and then distributed across the continent to European Union member nations, including Britain.

Reality is that that Guardian article is a year old and that full investment hasn't occurred.  But, many of the pieces are moving forward,

Construction of new concentrating solar thermal power plants has already begun in Spain and the USA (Andasol 1 & 2, Solar Tres, PS10, Nevada Solar One). Projects are underway in Algeria, Egypt and Morocco and further plants are planned in Jordan and Libya. Morocco is implementing a feed-in law to support wind power in particular. In the EU, discussions are in progress concerning the construction of an HVDC-Supergrid across Europe (a Euro-Supergrid) and plans for offshore wind farms in Northern Europe, with an associated HVDC Supergrid, are taking shape. The Union for the Mediterranean plans to realize a Mediterranean Solar Plan and could provide the framework for implementing DESERTEC in EU-MENA

A few months ago, at the Clinton Global Initiative, Al Gore made comments pointing to something like TREC:

We need in this country today a unified national transmission grid, a smart grid with long-distance, low-loss transmission capacity, to take the energy from the places where the sun falls and the wind blows to the places where the people live.

And we need it globally. In Europe. In Africa, northern Africa particularly. Let’s start with Darfur. Darfur has more sunlight falling on it reliably than almost any other place. There’s a belt across that part of Africa into the Middle East. We ought to build solar electric plants there and connect them with a super grid that goes across the straits of Gibraltar and up through the Balkans and across the Mediterranean and replaces coal and oil.

One of the benefits of this, the HVDC, is to help cover the intermittency challenges of, for example, wind power by linking with very low transmission losses wind in the Mediterranean to North Sea wind. And, distant hydropower stations used for pumped hydro storage. And, the extended distance east-to-west of the solar plants connected in the grid would extend, in essence, the "day" in which the grid would be directly collecting solar radiation. (And, the CSPs would store heat to enable power generation after sunset.)

Billions of watts of power could be generated this way, enough to provide Europe with a sixth of its electricity needs and to allow it to make significant cuts in its carbon emissions.

This is an amazing conception, a path for making reality of dreams for lighting our lives with the sun.

At the same time, the stations would be used as desalination plants to provide desert countries with desperately needed supplies of fresh water.

The benefits are, as suggested here, multifacted. Regions of the world signficantly short of water (even drinking water) would get significant new freshwater supplies almost as what we could call a 'by-product' of the primary product ... clean electricity.

Trans-Mediterranean Renewable Energy Cooperation (TREC) will not be a small project. The rough estimate: £200 ($US 400 or so) billion investment over a 30 year period.  And, at the end of the day, the kilowatt hour cost for this electricity could likely be more than today's coal electricity; that is, more expensive than coal-electricity that does not consider "external" costs of pollution.

The concept is to build 1000 concentrating solar power (CSP) plants on "cheap" land in North Africa.  

The massive construction program, the need for maintenance workers and operators, renewable energy for their economies, and the fresh water supplies  all point to great benefits for North Africa from seeing DESERTEC bloom into reality.

Systems of Systems

DESERTEC is appealing on many levels. In addition to the low (non) carbon electricity, water supplies, and economic benefits, consider these points:

  • Shaded areas under the mirrors of CSP plants are protected from the full glare of harsh tropical sunlight and may be used for many purposes, including horticulture using desalinated sea water.

  • Reduced tensions arising from shortages of energy and water.

  • Improved relations amongst people in EUMENA via a collaboration that yields benefits for all. This is a positive alternative to the confrontational policies of recent years.

While DESERTEC's electricity would likely be more expensive than simple coal-fired electricity without any "external costs" (costs external to the contract, like CO2, mercury, and particulate pollution), with DESERTEC it looks like we should be speaking of external benefits and seeking to incorporate those benefits into the cost just as we seek to incorporate polluting (and other external) costs to the costs of fossil energy use.

Could DESERTEC be a path for changing North Africa's trajectory and offering economic progress and opportunities across the region?

Might it be a tool to help change the direction of the "Global War on Terrorism" through creation of hope and economic opportunity?

Could DeserTREC be a tool to leverage to solve Israeli-Palestinian, Israeli-Arab tensions and conflict?

Could the greening of areas around CSP plants in North Africa lead to the regreening of North Africa and, even more optimistically, start to lead to North Africa as a carbon sink with newly flourishing green zones?  (Such as using some of that agriculture product (the waste?) for biochar for both enriching soil for increased agricultural productivity ("reclaiming the desert"; yes, I know that we need to be careful, that desert areas are real and valuable environmental space and that we need to consider impacts) and for the sequestration of carbon (a definitely win-win space)?

Bringing it to the Americas?


Imagine the change that this could bring to the Americas, perhaps as a 'border' project between Mexico and the United States, with elements of the system in both nations.  

Good jobs building and maintaining the Concentrated Solar Thermal Power (CSTP) systems.  

Clean electricity for both nations (to, for example, reduce Texas' pollution levels).  

Clean water due to the desalinization (for agriculture, for humans, to help restore dessicated wetlands).  

Employment on both sides of the border due to farming activities.

And, 'reclaiming' of desert land while sequestering carbon through bio-char produced from the agricultural wastes.  

We could work to solve more than one problem at a time, creating solutions with multiple benefits.  Pursuing AmeriTREC would not solve Global Warming. It would not solve unemployment nor end poverty along the border areas. It would not end illegal immigration. It would not solve our energy problems. It would not sequester all of the carbon humanity has introduced into the atmosphere. It would not produce enough food to end world hunger. It would not provide enough water to restore the Rio Grande or Colorado Rivers to full flow. It would not ... There is no Silver Bullet.  But, an AmeriTREC project could help contribute across all these arenas and, quite possibly, make a serious dent in some of these. It would not be a Silver Bullet, but it could be a pretty big Silver BB across a panoply of issues and challenges.

This would be Change to believe in.

Just the briefest of overviews

This discussion is, of course, only the briefest introduction to TREC. For years, this has been in the Energy COOL category for me. The discussion of $10 billion in coming investment suggests that others might find this Energy COOL as well. And, well, that perhaps this is an Energy COOL concept that might merit bringing over the pond as part of the Americas' move away from a carbon-energy society toward an Energy Smart future.

We can all help make


Energy Smart.

Ask yourself:  

Are you doing your part to


    NOTE: This is a reprise of a discussion a year ago, but the timing might be a little more amenable to a serious discussion of visions like this and potential movement toward it.

  • Related material at Get Energy Smart! NOW!!!.  UPDATE: To be clear, this is a stove-piped discussion. The top priority, in any action re energy, is efficiency (whether buildings, transport, industrial processes, power production) and then renewable power.  By no means does this diary represent my entire thinking on energy issues nor that I view something like this as THE Silver Bullet to save humanity ... even if seeing this as something quite likely to be worth investment and even testing/development to see whether it merits a major investment in massive deployment.
  • Another the same series, Energy COOL: Big time solar around the corner? talked about concentrated solar power (CSP) developments.
  • To place things in perspective, the US government invested $5 million in CSP for the 2008 budget.
  • Consider joining the Daily Kos Environmentalists community / listserve.

Originally posted to A Siegel on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 03:56 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tips / Mojo: 9 Dec 08 (284+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CA Pol Junkie, claude, clb, em dash, Ed in Montana, exsimo2, vicki, Aeolus, Bill in Portland Maine, Odysseus, dansac, deben, kate mckinnon, apsmith, abarefootboy, mem from somerville, maynard, RunawayRose, Lipstick Liberal, ericy, eeff, dkistner, frisco, shpilk, MarkInSanFran, bumblebums, sardonyx, RubDMC, bara, eyeswideopen, Gustogirl, opinionated, raines, bronte17, BlackGriffen, Silverleaf, understandinglife, MD patriot, highacidity, weirdscenes, PBnJ, SCFrog, mkfarkus, roses, javelina, itsmitch, juslikagrzly, BruinKid, ornerydad, Boxers, oceanview, ctsteve, celticshel, kharma, oldjohnbrown, Miss Jones, Urizen, pat bunny, westyny, churchylafemme, niteskolar, weasel, jmknapp, Tillie630, alizard, Pohjola, Matt Esler, WisVoter, Lefty Mama, CanYouBeAngryAndStillDream, kd texan, rolet, faithfull, rapala, frostyinPA, vcmvo2, Fabian, maybeeso in michigan, Bluesee, UncleCharlie, LarisaW, JanetT in MD, Simplify, kamarkamarka, trinityfly, devadatta, NeuvoLiberal, Bill White, Buffalo Girl, where4art, Little Lulu, blue jersey mom, AnotherMassachusettsLiberal, BlueMax, collapse, sodalis, Lindy, JanL, Snud, Asinus Asinum Fricat, RiaD, Mother Mags, Prof Dave, Tin hat mafia, Showman, danmac, BalanceSeeker, Do Tell, Milly Watt, BlueInARedState, Ky DEM, borkitekt, smokeymonkey, Loonesta, Alexandra Lynch, goodasgold, NBBooks, tecampbell, MJ via Chicago, imabluemerkin, CF Perez, max stirner, Turbonerd, JugOPunch, Clive all hat no horse Rodeo, Dianna, toys, MadMs, Picot verde, Nulwee, DBunn, tegrat, One Pissed Off Liberal, darrkespur, catadromous, DrSteveB, xaxado, dotsright, Cat Whisperer, dmh44, possum, offgrid, Searching for Truth, moosely2006, Outrider, crodri, FishOutofWater, Clypheous, kath25, SJLeonidas, greenchiledem, deepeco, DWG, Unbozo, davehouck, BobTrips, chicago jeff, vbdietz, jnhobbs, millwood, Joffan, uciguy30, Got a Grip, keikekaze, Unlabled, gloryous1, wuod kwatch, Terra Mystica, TomP, gizmo59, trivium, MKinTN, leslieb310, condorcet, Port City Moon, edison, Fiona West, IdahoDem, skohayes, Rick Winrod, DCBlue, beach babe in fl, Happy Days, dewley notid, bluesheep, TokenLiberal, carver, Serpents Sorrow, kyril, PMA, GoracleFan, BYw, dont think, caps lock on, In her own Voice, HoosierDeb, DK Green, shortgirl, scrubjay, forgore, wv voice of reason, cameoanne, Pris from LA, 1BQ, Bule Betawi, Mr Tentacle, Neon Vincent, WSComn, sustainable, Anne Elk, Stranded Wind, imchange, weltshmertz, LeftyEngineer, mrchumchum, Patch Adam, Daily Activist, Mercuriousss, modesta, worldly1, platypus60, bfitzinAR, MooseHB, allep10, TLAD, fernan47, jfromga, NThenUDie, fALk, LookingUp, Colorado Billy, ljfxiki, fatherofdragonwagon, CalGal47, ppl can fly, Wyote, Latex Solar Beef, kcandm, flitedocnm, McWaffle, LaughingPlanet, dochp, Jess27, fidellio, TheWesternSun, on board 47, Big Danny, Mara Jade, ATFILLINOIS, Dexter, RJP9999, deboChicago, NY brit expat, sullivanst, Subo, tellinya, DrFitz, NYWheeler, pateTX, washunate, Unenergy, MsGrin, Floande, acronychous, Taya Lawrence, NellaSelim, al ajnabee, bluebuckaroo, bgblcklab1, Olon, greenmama, Mess TCS, ravedave, Eclectablog, itzik shpitzik, zekeaz, Chuck Cook, foxinneth, blueinmn, Jed L, metaphoricalsimile, bamabikeguy, MCinNH, Wide Awake in KY

    Every time that I revisit thinking about this project and its conception, I am more impressed.  This is the sort of vision and concept that fits with a national (smart) grid.

    •  These are the kinds of green jobs... (32+ / 0-)

      that I would like to see pushed.

      I have always liked the concept as well.  At first I was afraid it was too bold to ever be implemented, but now it is starting to seem like something that might happen.

      If you have Google Earth, you can see many of the CSP plants around the world using this plugin.

    •  it would be useful (8+ / 0-)

      if you deciphered  the acronyms, for those of us who are not familiar with them. "COOL", for instance.


      don't always believe what you think...

      by claude on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 04:54:37 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Fantastic diary (19+ / 0-)

      I love this stuff - useful, informative, substantive, and future-oriented.  

      At times I despair about the state of our world (and our climate), but diaries like this still give me hope for the future.  

      I'm shocked to learn that 1 in 12 Americans do not know that the bird, is in fact, that word.

      by dansac on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 06:15:49 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Optimist-Pessimist (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Odysseus, trivium, kyril, greenmama

        or Pessimist Optimist or Optimistic Realist or Pessimistic Dreamer ... Never remember which I am ... We have exactly as much time as required to avoid utter catastrophe, as long as we start moving ... NOW!!!  And, with great joy, come January 20th we will have Change in a positive direction.

        •  Things like this always make me optomistic... (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          A Siegel, dewley notid, kyril, greenmama

          but I remain pessimistic when I realize that PART of our problem has been that many of us believed for WAY too long that science could solve all problems.  Now we realize that sacrifice and sensibility were left out of the equation.  

          I'm glad the diarist's reminded us that we have to get "Energy Smart.":  

          There is no Silver Bullet.

          That said, it's AMAZING what can happen when resources are directed toward innovative projects. IMAGINE!!!!

          --It's a feverish world, Inman said, for lack of better comment. (Charles Frazier)

          by Taya Lawrence on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 12:31:47 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  For America too... absolutely! (7+ / 0-)

      Trans-Mediterranean Renewable Energy Cooperation (TREC) will not be a small project. The rough estimate: £200 ($US 400 or so) billion investment over a 30 year period.

      I think it's worth it for us to, over thirty years,  spend half as much as we did bailing out the banks this year in order to make giant strides in energy independence.

      Call me crazy.

      The all purpose reference for every Obama surrogate and supporter

      by ShadowSD on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 07:20:31 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  $400 billion over 30 years? Heh! That is nothing! (10+ / 0-)

        compared to bottled water sales:

        Bottled water sales in the United States reached 8.82 billion gallons in 2007, worth $11.7 billion, making the U.S. market for bottled water the largest in the world, according to Beverage Marketing, a provider of beverage industry data. Worldwide, water bottlers sold 47 billion gallons, or 178 billion liters, in 2006, up from 43 billion gallons in 2005.

        That is US sales, only. Sell bottled water generated by the desalinated sea water and stop over-extracting from other fresh water supplies. Use the revenue to offset the cost of building the power plant.

        Add a few billion per year in bottled water sales and the net cost per kilowatt hour goes down.

        Brand value offers a sort of voluntary tax that allows like minded consumers to support initiatives they favor -- such as these ideas.

        Health care crisis in a nutshell: Too much is expended on "managing" & too little on "caregiving"

        by Bill White on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 07:38:01 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Gov. Richardson did nothing (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          peace voter, kyril

          to stop an Italian multi-national from tapping into the aquifer of the San Augustin Basin (where the VLA sets)  for bottled water.  He would be drawing out 17 billion gal per year out from a porous aquifer that feeds all the surface water and agriculture for 3 forested and ecologically sensitive counties in New Mexico.

      •  Absolutely - here's the math: (12+ / 0-)

        $400 billion over 30 years works out to:

        $13.3 billion per year
        $1.11 billion per month


        Less than one-tenth what we've been spending in Iraq for the last five years.

        We have the money, it's a question of priorities.

        O it is excellent to have a giant's strength: but it is tyrannous to use it like a giant. --Measure for Measure, II.2

        by RogueStage on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 07:39:28 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  A funding suggestion AND a technical question (8+ / 0-)

      (a) Technical question: Where does the the carbon come from for bio-char? Using fossil fuel sources to make charcoal would be the easiest route but what gain does that offer?

      Or maybe is this boot-strapped? Import soil to grow trees and make bio-char from those trees? Then use the biochar to grow even more trees?

      (b) As you say, there is no one silver bullet and there is no one funding mechanism.

      You say the cost per kilo-watt-hour will be higher but we thereby avoid unpleasant and hard to measure negative externalities. A carbon tax can capture some of that but presents political challenges - I favor a carbon tax but accept its an uphill battle.

      But note that externalities can run both ways, as per wikipedia: An externality occurs when an economic activity causes external costs or external benefits to third party stakeholders who did not directly affect the economic transaction.

      A possible 21st century mechanism to capture the monetary value of those positive externalities would be to bottle the desalinated sea water and SELL it as bottled water under a DESERT TREK logo or license.

      The mark up on bottled water (for example: Dasani & Aquafina) is staggeringly high.

      Also concentrate and process as needed the sea salt left over after desalination and sell that in grocery stores under a DESERT TREK logo or license.

      This is an alternative to supplement direct government rather by taxation or legislation.

      Other residue from the sea water salts could have commercial value as well.

      Health care crisis in a nutshell: Too much is expended on "managing" & too little on "caregiving"

      by Bill White on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 07:27:22 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Good thoughts / question (7+ / 0-)
        1. Bio-char can be done, for example, from agricultural waste or other biomass.  See the links in and comments to Change. Obama can change the path of Climate Change! for background re biochar.
        1.  Interesting ideas re fundraising. Could we, in the near future (decade?), see the demise of the mass bottled water industry?  Tap water or point source cleaning with a reusable bottle could meet what percentage of the current bottled water demand?  
        •  The demise of the mass bottled water industry? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          A Siegel, kyril

          Ecologically, we should see the demise of this industry however the soft drink companies generate a significant percentage of revenue from that sector and therefore it could be tough to pass legislation, especially in the United States.

          But if so, sell the desalinated water to niche beverage makers -- ultra premium vodkas for example or a premium sports energy drink.

          My point is that in our 21st century economy, brand value is KING. How much is a Starbucks cup of coffee worth, absent the brand? Nike? Dasani?

          Green energy projects compete with legacy industries that have accumulated significant taxation concessions. Winning the battle to level that playing field is vital but is there another way to compete?

          Explain to the consumer that this new vodka represents a sustainable road forward for humanity and we (a) expand consciousness of these issues and (b) make money to fund these projects.

          An alternative to traditional Big Government projects funded by tax dollars.

          Health care crisis in a nutshell: Too much is expended on "managing" & too little on "caregiving"

          by Bill White on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 07:46:56 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  HFCS use a tremendous amount of energy, and (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            A Siegel, BYw

            are nearly useless as 'food'. If tomorrow, HFCS were banned, it would probably do the following:

            . reduce serious health problems

            . free up land to grow meaningful food crops, lowering their price

            . reduce use of petrol based fertilizers to grown corn to make HFCS

            There's no downside, as the companies could simply shift production to something else.

            2008, the Year the Republican Party dissolved into a little pond of goo

            by shpilk on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 10:00:00 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Banning HFCS would be a "good thing" however (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              As with calls to outlaw cigarettes, a hard sell in America. America's food industry is another complicated FUBAR situation, if looked at rationally.

              But how do we legislate reason while preserving freedom?

              Health care crisis in a nutshell: Too much is expended on "managing" & too little on "caregiving"

              by Bill White on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 11:07:56 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Well, some school districts have stopped the sale (0+ / 0-)

                of junk soda and 'fruit juice' - at least start by getting the kids away from these poisons.

                Freedom .. all in favor of freedom. Short of taxing the hell out of it, or educating the hell out of it, it seems to be hard to find any solution.

                Education would be a good place to put dollars garnered from a tax on HFCSs.

                2008, the Year the Republican Party dissolved into a little pond of goo

                by shpilk on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 05:01:31 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  School districts can and should ban HFCS (0+ / 0-)

                  in school.

                  My local school district has a few rules about snacks and lunches. Elementary school has a "fruit break" and it MUST be real fruit.

                  Health care crisis in a nutshell: Too much is expended on "managing" & too little on "caregiving"

                  by Bill White on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 05:23:06 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

        •  I forgot about the food . . . (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          shpilk, A Siegel, kyril, sustainable

          Grow premium crops underneath those reflectors and presumably economic value can be extracted from selling those products.

          But if financial return is the objective, alcoholic beverages would be a potential niche. Vodka is an obvious play since Grey Goose is a classic example of a wildy overpriced product. ;-)

          Could grapes thrive in that environment? Partner up with representatives from California's wine industry.

          At first, the wine could well be terrible however eventually a truly premium brand could be launched.

          Premium as in lucrative, not necessarily tasty. ;-)

          Health care crisis in a nutshell: Too much is expended on "managing" & too little on "caregiving"

          by Bill White on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 07:55:22 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Seems to me ... (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            kyril, sustainable, TheWesternSun

            that you're engaging in the strategic planning to make the AmeriTREC the 21st century consumer brand.  Marketing COOL!

            •  Have you read Naomi Klein's book "No Logo" (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              shpilk, A Siegel, kyril

              In the opening 1/3, despite her opposition to much of global capitalism, I sense in her words almost a sense of breathless awe at the ability of the brand value creators to capture wealth.

              The strategic planning has already been done in the context of my almost finished novel concerning a brand value funded lunar mission. My fictional New Hampshire born mega billionaire orchestrates a project to defeat NASA back to the Moon using Russian and Chinese rockets and raises money by infusing anti-American global sentiment into consumer products and selling them everywhere except the US.

              Its the rap music business model -- commodify inner city discontent and sell it in the inner city on CD and DVD. So, is my hero-villain a Yankee trader or a Yankee traitor?

              Anyway, after reading about Desert Trek before, it just jumped out at me that grafting this approach onto that would be a straightforward exercise.

              Health care crisis in a nutshell: Too much is expended on "managing" & too little on "caregiving"

              by Bill White on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 08:17:21 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I think it's hilarious, sort of .. (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Bill White, A Siegel, kyril

                and sadly yes it's all about marketing at the end of the day. One can have a goose that lays golden eggs and it means nothing on the market without the hype.

                2008, the Year the Republican Party dissolved into a little pond of goo

                by shpilk on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 09:56:59 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  My thinking goes like this . . . (6+ / 0-)

                  We can either fight to change human nature or we can adapt our plans to get where we want to go while accepting that changing human nature requires years or decades and at times centuries or more.

                  As for the marketing, Barack Obama truly ran a 21st century political marketing campaign.

                  The phrase "narrative engineer" comes to mind.  

                  And getting Congress to enact comprehensive energy solutions shall also require marketing, but of a different nature.

                  Health care crisis in a nutshell: Too much is expended on "managing" & too little on "caregiving"

                  by Bill White on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 10:05:54 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

              •  (o/t) Need a title? How about-- (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Bill White, kyril

                The Man Who Stole The Moon---?

                May I bow to Necessity not/ To her hirelings (W. S. Merwin)

                by Uncle Cosmo on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 02:21:24 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  D.D Harriman blended with Howard Hughes (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  A Siegel, Uncle Cosmo, kyril

                  George Soros and Warren Buffet:

                  Anyway, on D.D. Hariman:

                  In the later publication, The Man Who Sold the Moon, Harriman is in his prime. Determined to carry out his vision of a private-venture rocket to the Moon, he buys, bullies, finagles, and deceives anyone who stands in his way. His partners, who respect his successes if not his methods, think of him as the last of the old robber barons, or perhaps the first of the new ones. At the end of that story, published later than its sequel, he is left behind as the first colonization team leaves for the Moon.

                  Inspiration? Of course however my intention is to tell the Harriman story from a slanted perspective with considerably more moral ambiguity than Heinlein.

                  Health care crisis in a nutshell: Too much is expended on "managing" & too little on "caregiving"

                  by Bill White on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 02:38:09 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

        •  What is the carbon cost of reusable bottles? (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mikolo, A Siegel, kyril

          When we compare bottled anything, we need to contrast the carbon used in transporting resuable bottles to the refill factory. A system like the european retail bulk comodity dispenser would be better in carbon terms than reusable bottles that go through an industrial process. The consumer would be responsible for bringing a clean vessel for refill.

          Recycling of material mitigates some of the carbon cost of the use of plastic bottles and may be superior to some reuse schemes. The main problem we are dealing with is social/cultural. Americans don't like to suffer any inconvenience and see new containers as safer than their own vessels. Businesses have largely replaced the old water cooler with reusable 5-gallon bottles. Now workers are expected to buy their own water/soda from a vending machine. The company gets a cut of the profit instead of paying for delivered water. Yes, I know that water from the tap/water fountain is often cleaner than either kind of bottled water. This point reinforces that the problem is social at the core.

          The old water fountains had high spigots for filling a glass in addition to the fountain. I rarely see this kind of water fountain now.

        •  Biochar... (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          A Siegel, offgrid, kyril, RJP9999

          A couple of decent sized tests are to begin next year.  Let's assume they pan out....

          We need to get CO2 out of our atmosphere.  With a cap and trade or carbon tax on emitters we can fund biochar in parts of the world where soil is poor and jobs are scarce.

          We can start with any sort of plant material that will grow and then use the biochar produced to improve the productivity of the soil.  Over time the biochar "cooker" can be moved to areas of less productive soil, leaving food production quality soil in its wake.

          This can mean quick term job creation in places where people are hurting and longer term better food access for those folks.  

          And we can sequester significant amounts of carbon for hundreds/thousands of years.

          15 to 6. Pulled ahead as soon as the gate opened and never looked back....

          by BobTrips on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 10:57:48 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Fast growers, right? (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            A Siegel, kyril

            Kudzu, hemp, bamboo?

            Health care crisis in a nutshell: Too much is expended on "managing" & too little on "caregiving"

            by Bill White on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 11:04:20 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Kudzu? (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Bill White, A Siegel, kyril

              Stuff is just too aggressive to introduce.  And too difficult to eliminate once it's time to grow potatoes/whatever in the improved soil.  

              But I bet you knew that....   ;o)

              We've got some pretty marginal soil in the southern part of California's Central Valley.  Eucalyptus might be a good choice there.  Fast growing, drought tolerant, could be easily mechanically harvested.  

              Perhaps switchgrass in the crummy parts of Oklahoma.  It would bind the soil and cut down on wind erosion.  Fast growing perennial that doesn't need a lot of water and builds the soil via its extensive root structure.

              Something entirely different in the 'horn of Africa'.

              Different plants in different places.

              15 to 6. Pulled ahead as soon as the gate opened and never looked back....

              by BobTrips on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 12:00:45 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  A federal program to buy plant material for (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                A Siegel, BobTrips, kyril

                bio-char production could be a terrific way to get marginal lands into production.

                Pay sufficiently less than what food quality crops would be worth so avoid what ethanol has done to corn prices, but enough to make it worthwhile growing and harvesting scrub on scrub lands.

                Maybe make a good university project as well. Give grants to colleges to offer courses and hands on internships making bio-char.

                Health care crisis in a nutshell: Too much is expended on "managing" & too little on "caregiving"

                by Bill White on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 12:06:20 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

    •  desalination -- (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      A Siegel, kyril, BYw, TheWesternSun

      as I've pointed out, should start implementation now in California, where the drying up of the snowpack atop the Rockies and Sierras will bring about water shortages.

      As for the energy scheme, of course it won't solve any of the problems you noted.  Those problems are intimately related to our global system of political economy, neoliberal capitalism.  Got critique?

      "It all makes perfect sense/ Expressed in dollars and cents/ Pounds, shillings and pence" -- global anthem, from Roger Waters' song "Perfect Sense"

      by Cassiodorus on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 07:32:51 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's really ingenious (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RiaD, A Siegel, kyril

      there's a real potential for benevolent competition between Europe and China for the next century that could lead to all sorts of serious improvements... provided countries cut back on their military spending (NOW).

      Wall Street pirates loot this country, destroy people's lifelong work and their pensions. If you need to execute someone, shoot those motherfuckers.

      by Nulwee on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 09:17:01 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Excellent diary, as usual! (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      A Siegel, kyril, greenmama

      2008, the Year the Republican Party dissolved into a little pond of goo

      by shpilk on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 09:54:57 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The Israelis have been recapturing the desert (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      A Siegel, kyril, BYw

      for decades, and mass desalinization would be a tremendous boon to the whole area.

      Israel and Jordan already have joint ventures using some of the technology.

      Actions like these, giving the population hope as they share a common resource are the things lasting peace is built out of. We need more these actions, and investments on a massive scale.

      2008, the Year the Republican Party dissolved into a little pond of goo

      by shpilk on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 10:04:17 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Dreaming New Mexico (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      A Siegel, kyril

      is a great Bioneers collaborative project. The goal they are working toward for the state is:

      A reliable and secure energy supply for heating, cooling, transport and electricity (largely from renewable sources with excess for export), delivered at a fair price that helps create jobs and new businesses, curtails global warming, and does no harm to the health and environment of the state’s citizens.

      This project is integrated into Google Earth so you can see potential sites for future solar and wind plants, etc.

    •  Thank you (0+ / 0-)

      After a string of bad news, it is utterly refreshing to read a wonderful piece like yours.

      "One of the reasons we were all thrilled Tuesday night is it was pretty obvious this was a collectively intelligent decision." - Al Gore

      by Marcus Junius Brutus on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 03:35:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  How do Carbon Credits work, AS? (5+ / 0-)

    I put the question up in my diary this morning, wondering if my biking customers, who qualify under the Bailout Package for reimbursement, might contact the Carbon Credit trading agencies?

    If for nothing else, just a patriotic certificate on the wall....

  •  terrific diary (14+ / 0-)

    reading this along with the news that Al Gore is meeting with Barack Obama today is certainly a great way to start the morning.  

    Tipped and recommended.

  •  Not to mention that individual solar roofing (12+ / 0-)

    --residential and business--will not only help to diversify our energy base, but will also help to secure our energy grid by making overall power requirements less dependent on a central station.  

    To see what's being recommended by the Obama Transition team, check out the GREEN PLAN GROUP pdf (a long read, I haven't finished it yet, but worth it)

    Transition  to Green, Leading the Way to a Healthy Environment, a Green Economy, and a Sustainable Future


    You can find information on this and more by following the links to the "Seat at the Table" feature.

    Also, there IS a position for Gore described in the document...the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality---it's already a legislated position (since the 70's), but vastly underused and underfunded; the Director of CEQ also directly reports to the PRESIDENT, and is responsible for overseeing much of the environmental policy and implementation.  Check it out!

    •  Couple things ... (10+ / 0-)

      Green Plan group is not "recommended by the Obama Transition Team" but is recommended to them. While there is tremendous material within it, there are also problems ... In any event, we have a great problem right now: too many interesting things to read, too many documents, too many hearings, too many conferences, too many ... What I hope is that we face a situation where our problem is 'too much action creating good things to be able to keep up with all of the positive change ...'

      In any event, this is NOT a single point solution, it is NOT a Silver Bullet, it is not my totality of thinking about energy and environmental issues. There is energy efficiency. There are other power options. There ...

      •  you're exactly right (6+ / 0-)

        I misspoke, these are recommendations, and yes,there are problems, but it's great that they are inviting commentary...this is the time to give it...LOVE your diaries. Keep pushing the dialogue and inquiry...

      •  Right now there are many new ideas (5+ / 0-)

        that can reduce carbon emissions while producing energy or with conservation.

        What we need is imprementaion strategies at all levels, from local to international.

        The analysis has been done that shows that there are many ways of reducing carbon emissions and saving money at the same time, and local initiaties can make a big difference with this.  I was just at a meeting last evening that might have been the beginning of a local group that will leverage such action.

        Ideas like what is indicated in this diary are at the other end of the spectrum and can make a huge difference.

        Overall I'm excited about the possibilities.  This is the time for action, and it seems to me that we're starting to get more of the action that is needed.  Nobody has to wait for someone else to start.  We can do things in our own homes, with our transportation habits and in local communities.

        At the same time we can insist that our elected officials do what is needed.

        "Trust only those who doubt" Lu Xun

        by LookingUp on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 04:57:13 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Illegal immigration (8+ / 0-)

    Actually one of the attractions for the EU is to provide non carbon based electricity for development in the MENA area. The concept allows for local use of some of the generation.

    In turn, that development should reduce the "push" effect of low prospects that forces many in, especially, North Africa to try to get into the EU illegally.

    There is also by the way a question over how much electricity generated by coal will cost once the price of traded carbon emissions permits are factored in.

    Rosa sat so Martin could walk, Martin walked so Barack could run, Barack ran so our children could soar

    by Lib Dem FoP on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 04:21:08 AM PST

    •  And might not that be (4+ / 0-)

      relevant for the US-Mexican border area as well?

      •  Mexican stability (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

         The water availability would be an excellent thing for the region but how quickly would things need to be done to beat the failure of the Cantarell oil field to the punch? I worry we're going to try to finish that wall, expel eleven million people living in the U.S., and get ourselves a heck of a mess down there.

         Receding horizons, well, they recede. This is something we should have gone at with a will starting 9/12/2001.

      •  Sure (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        A Siegel, BYw, Stranded Wind

        But I was addressing this in your diary:

        It would not solve unemployment nor end poverty along the border areas. It would not end illegal immigration.

        I agree it would not end but rather alleviate the conditions that lead to illegal immigration. While it reduces the "push", it obviously does not reduce the pull of a far higher material standard of living.

        On the other hand it is part of the EU policy of assisting development through the European Neighbourhood Policy which in part provides a buffer against illegal immigration by not having sharp differences at the borders.

        Rosa sat so Martin could walk, Martin walked so Barack could run, Barack ran so our children could soar

        by Lib Dem FoP on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 05:02:16 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  But the sentences that follow ... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          BYw, Stranded Wind

          But, an AmeriTREC project could help contribute across all these arenas and, quite possibly, make a serious dent in some of these. It would not be a Silver Bullet, but it could be a pretty big Silver BB across a panoply of issues and challenges.

          My point was that a project like this will not "solve everything" (I'm frustrated with those who propose/promote "silver bullet" solutions, as if they have the answer to everything), even if it could be part of the solution to a wide range of problems and challenges ... including illegal immigration.

          To be clear, I think that we are in total agreement on this. It could alleviate the conditions leading to illegal immigration while, as well, creating a 'pull' in currently impoverished areas for high-end workforce (construct, operate, maintain, etc the CSTP and power distribution systems).

  •  Mexico partnership is a great idea! (9+ / 0-)

    Think of what it would mean for our immigration situation if Mexico got a taste of good-paying energy manufacturing jobs on their side of the border.

    •  Key ... (11+ / 0-)

      is the ability to move significant amounts of power, long distances, with minimal line loss.  Roughly, as I understand it, an HVDC line would enable moving electricity across the United States with perhaps a 5-7% total loss.  Not great to have the loss, but that level of line loss is 'acceptable' as part of a structure to enable moving power from areas of 'surplus' to areas of 'demand'.  

      A serious commitment to CSTP could combine with major wind (Texas up through the Dakotas) to be able, with HVDC and a smart(er) grid, to meet a substantive amount of US electrical requirements.

    •  Smaller energy loss over long distances. (6+ / 0-)

      Using AC we are burning a healthy portion of power we are generating. DC suffers none of those problems over long distances.

      Obama has promised peace in our time with Karl Rove and the rest of the GOP. I have a sneaking suspicion of how this story ends.

      by TLAD on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 04:42:08 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  DC-to-AC (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Odysseus, WisVoter, Stranded Wind

        But still you'd need an inverter and transformer at the endpoints, right? That can't be very efficient.

        I guess with all the different voltage and line frequency standards between countries it might be the only way to go.

        •  when life gives you DC (9+ / 0-)

          You get direct about how you do things :-) There are plenty of industrial processes that could be driven with DC which would help. Conversion is inefficient but less so than long distance AC transmission and if industry takes their needs without the waste other generating systems already set up for AC face a lighter overall load.

           It's a complex problem, this dance of fossil fuel to renewables ...

          •  I wonder what changed (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            A Siegel

            Life gave us DC when Edison was generating electricity. We switched to AC because DC didn't travel well.

            It looks like they must have cracked this nut:

            Higher voltages could not so easily be used with the DC system because there was no efficient low-cost technology that would allow reduction of a high transmission voltage to a low utilization voltage.

            So the transformer decided things in favor of AC.

            I note that Edison got around the issue of resistance by localizing power generation. Funny how everything old is new again.

            No laws but Liberty. No king but Conscience.

            by oldjohnbrown on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 08:23:50 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  DC-to-AC (8+ / 0-)

          Well keeping AC generators in sync to keep from having a cascading power failure like we experienced in the Northeast isn't exactly a power free operation. All the AC power generation has to be kept in sync and if that fails the whole grid fails. In the end the savings in long distance (500-800 kilometers) the 3% savings in power over AC generation becomes statistically significant. In the Northeast it would be a massive savings for us and on the West Coast as well.

          Obama has promised peace in our time with Karl Rove and the rest of the GOP. I have a sneaking suspicion of how this story ends.

          by TLAD on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 05:19:59 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Many years ago it wasn't efficient, (8+ / 0-)

          and that's why it wasn't done sooner.

          New technologies have changed this, and conversion efficiencies are now very good.  There is also the advantage that with DC transmission, there is no problem with matching phases from different lines.

          "Trust only those who doubt" Lu Xun

          by LookingUp on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 05:34:29 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Not too much loss (8+ / 0-)

          The conversion losses are decreasing as the semiconductor technology continues to develop, I've seen studies where the combined end point losses will be under 1.5%.

          Interconnection systems with different AC frequencies is an application for back-to-back AC-HVDC-AC conversion, with the 'transmission line' being under a 100 meters long.  Phase looking two grids with the same frequency can be a problem, again an application for AC-DC-AC conversion. Differing voltages isn't a problem, with AC that's what transformers are for.

          Bulk DC power transmission makes it easier to maintain the stability of the extended grid, avoiding phase and frequency control issues that can arise when one portion of the grid is perturbed by a heavy load or generator outage.  Extensive use of variable renewables such as wind, solar, and wave/current, is going to require DC power transmission for the grid bakbone.

          •  1.5%? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            That's incredible.

            •  I thought it sounded high (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              jmknapp, A Siegel, offgrid, NRG Guy

              but the paper, which was behind a registration firewall and I can't find the @#Z)(* link for, had a breakdown of the end-to-end losses.  

              But consider that lines carrying 5 GW are in planning, and a 10% loss would mean 500 MW of heat, even split between the rectifier and inverter stations leaves you with a heat dissipation problem.

              The next thing to consider is that the voltage drop across the semiconductors is much lower that the voltages they are controlling, less that 0.1% I believe. The ohmic losses would be a few KW for the big 4000 amp jobs.

              From what I've read the leakage and capacitive coupled harmonic current along the insulators in the stations can be a bigger source of loss than the actual conversion.

              Interesting is that the 2,000 km transmission distance gets a 3-1 range of loss value, depending on whose paper you read or the point on the graph picked for a design decision.  I've seen values from a bit over 2% to 7% for one of the Chinese projects, still lower than the 10 to 15 percent for AC at those power levels.

              •  I found one reference anyway (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                A Siegel

                Making waves: Inverters continue to push efficiency

                The move to transformerless systems

                Development of SiC (silicon carbide) MOSFETs is expected to achieve a significant reduction of switching and conduction losses – of more than 25% – resulting in a peak efficiency of 98.5% and a European efficiency of more than 98% for an entire inverter. Next-generation power switches based on SiC are expected to become commercially available over the next few years. Due to the high switching-speed of SiC semiconductors, in future switching frequencies will be increased further, thus significantly reducing the size and weight of the inductive components of inverters, and consequently costs.

                Indeed, in recent weeks the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE) has set what it says is a new record for inverter efficiency, at 98.5%, using SiC transistors

                In a test using prototype silicon carbide-based MOSFETs, manufactured by CREE, Inc., Fraunhofer researchers report they reduced the power dissipation by 30%–50% when compared with traditional silicon-based transistors. ‘Silicon carbide components switch faster and have a smaller forward bias power loss than traditional silicon-based transistors,’ explains Dr Bruno Burger, head of the Power Electronics Group at Fraunhofer ISE. The Fraunhofer team achieved the result with a single-phase inverter and a nominal power rating of 5 kW.

                The article states at one point:

                However, there is still a 600V DC voltage limitation, which particularly constrains three phase transformerless inverters.

                Which if it applies would limit the use with HVDC?

              •  Heat dissipation is not a problem... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                A Siegel

                It's available power waiting to be harvested.

                Converting waste heat to usable power is getting a lot of attention these days.  Most likely we could cut that 1.5% loss some more....

                15 to 6. Pulled ahead as soon as the gate opened and never looked back....

                by BobTrips on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 09:04:15 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

          •  One of those random THANK YOUs ... (7+ / 0-)

            I have found the blogging experience to be an endless journey of learning and exploration.  As I work across a quite broad set of domains and interests, often looking for / conceptualizing linkages, it is great to have people with expert knowledge commenting to provide the substantive detail that goes beyond my 1st/2d order understanding of some piece of the issue / challenge / opportunity.  

            Thus: Thank you ...

            •  And (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              A Siegel

              Thank you, Adam, for providing the forum for all this great info to come out.

              I was going to respond to the initial question on this sub-thread ("why HVDC?"), but all the other responses took care of the points that I was going to cover. The level of knowledge on DKos is astounding.

              The only thing that I can add is maybe a little history. A great deal of the impetus for development of modern inverter technology came out of the need for off-grid residential inverters spawned by the hippie "back-to-the-land" movement. I've talked to "suits" from Japan and Europe who all acknowledge that hippie pot growers in Northern California provided a large portion of the seed money to develop renewable energy technologies, primarily inverters. As an off-grid hippie, and former pot grower, I could only smile.

              Yet another great diary Adam. Keep up the fantastic work. I wish that I had more time to write more then just the occasional comment in your diaries, but I can't even keep up with my workload at this solar equipment distribution company, and keep up with all the news about renewable energy equipment development.

              "If impeachment is off the table, so is democracy." -teacherken

              by offgrid on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 07:33:40 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  They have to (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      raines, HeyMikey, jmknapp, WisVoter, A Siegel

      AC undersea transmission would have humongous reactive losses.  Some of the HVDC in this country is to get power across a river or some such.

  •  WTG (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mother Mags, A Siegel, Stranded Wind

    I'm just cheerleading !! Another good diary Adam & this one made the rec list ! I hope it get the attention it deserves today !!


  •  I want this for TCEN (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Odysseus, WisVoter, Turbonerd

    This needs to be done up to fit the format for The Cutting Edge News Energy section. If you want the by-line that is fine or I can do it, but this needs to be heard in wider circles than DKos ...

  •  Good diary (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Siegel, Stranded Wind, LookingUp, Wyote

    I'd like to see this effort expanded to include conservation efforts as well. Pushing energy star appliances and equipment to become the standard and increasing those standards could decrease our needs and help make these other generation efforts more effective because the demand is lower. Expanding tax credits for these kinds of major purchases and honest a massive incentive program to force builders to only use these kinds of technologies would be a massive step forward. LEED standards for energy efficiency would help a lot too. Just feels like generation is half the story.

    Obama has promised peace in our time with Karl Rove and the rest of the GOP. I have a sneaking suspicion of how this story ends.

    by TLAD on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 04:39:52 AM PST

  •  long a journey start with a single step .. (6+ / 0-)

    seems immense.   Solar one lists its capacity as 64 MW,   Wind in the us is at 20,000 MW (2 GW),  The U.S.'s capacity is about a 1,000,000 MW (1 TW)  

    So to set a scale we'd need more than 15,000 Nevada Solar ones running full out, to make a TW.  1,500 Nevada Solar one's  makes a nice dent in the problem, and 311 more puts it on a par with wind. (or so I reckon)

    Long journeys start with single steps. We'd better be hauling...

    I don't understand why we cannot just all get along.

    by Blue State 68 on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 04:52:50 AM PST

  •  Thankyou for your relentless pursuit of (4+ / 0-)

    of highlighting the fact that changing energy systems to low carbon emission is possible.
    I have updated a diary on CSP I posted on election day with a few pictures, since I just figured out how to embed them.
    There are a number of Youtube video links as well, I'll figure how to embed them and update again at some stage.

    Link on all the CSP technologies I could find is here

    "In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations." Law of the Iroquois Confederacy

    by Unenergy on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 04:54:28 AM PST

  •  CSP ammonia stuff (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Odysseus, JeffW

     I met the researcher behind this, Rebbecca Dunn, at the Ammonia Fuel Network conference in Minneapolis a few months ago.

     They're going to commercialize it in conjunction with Wizard Power, an Australian company. They're looking for a U.S. partner and we talked to them but they want a company with the gravitas to land utility scale deals ...

  •  I've been sold on this plan since the first (4+ / 0-)

    time you posted it, A Siegel!

    I want it here---now!

    Wonder what Obama and Gore will be talking about today????

    Find your own voice--the personal is political.

    by In her own Voice on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 05:32:28 AM PST

  •  Great stuff! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Siegel, Stranded Wind

    Thanks for the work.

  •  Nice idea. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Stranded Wind

    So there's no talk of solar cells, only solar thermal?  I can see how the desalinization in the latter would also be quite valuable.  But wouldn't the plants then have to be located fairly close to the sea?

    •  Couple things ... (5+ / 0-)

      This is just one item, one discussion -- have discussed / written on PV and CPV plenty of times.

      And, re the desalinization, yes ... there is a question of how far from a water source this could be and still make sense. Would the power loss through pumping water 100, 200, 500 miles be too extreme for the benefits of placing the CSTP in an optimal location and having a supply of clean fresh water in an area short of water?  This is a systems engineering challenge / issue which needs to be analyzed as part of any serious look/development of such a project.

      •  I meant this particular project. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Odysseus, Stranded Wind

        If I read you correctly, this particular project, DESERTEC(?), is only planning solar thermal instead of PV.

        •  Well ... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I believe that they are focusing on large-scale power. While there are some approaches that are pursuing PV (generally CPV) for large-scale power production, PV is perhaps the easiest renewable electricity option for putting out into a distributed network of end-user being producer as well.  But, I am trying to answer for others' work.

          I haven't really seen anything that shows TREC linked into a "Smart(er)" grid that would enable demand-side management (power shifting) and exploitation of that as part of the overall structure. But, that is likely failure as to what I've "seen" as opposed to the people working this who seem to have a robust understanding of energy challenges and opportunities.

        •  CSP is much more cost-effective (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          A Siegel, ravedave

          PV power is easily more than double the cost of CSP (when the CSP can be located on cheap land).   CSP is potentially cost competitive with conventional sources while PV is still far more expensive.

          •  Thin film costs are dropping fast.... (0+ / 0-)

            First Solar is now stating something like $1.08 per watt manufacturing costs.  And it is expected that we'll get a lot lower than that.

            We'll soon be at a point where solar roofs - thin film panels that serve both as roofing and for power production make good economic sense.

            That's "free" real estate.  And very low transmission costs.

            15 to 6. Pulled ahead as soon as the gate opened and never looked back....

            by BobTrips on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 09:08:03 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  PV is still far more expensive (0+ / 0-)

              I am aware of some of these claimed cost reductions and looking forward to seeing them in the field but as of now new PV installations produce power at more than twice the cost of new CSP (as I said).  Also, the cost of cells are dropping much faster than the  balance of system costs which are not trivial.  

      •  I think (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Odysseus, Bill White, A Siegel

        Some people are already looking at this.  Inland CSP supplied by wind-powered pumping stations.  The cold seawater would also improve the thermal efficiency of the CSP.

        •  Yes! Think integrated engineering (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          A Siegel

          Pump cold sea water (collected from below the surface to be as cold as possible) to the base of the tower and use the hot salt to heat the water. The colder the water the greater the heat transfer which generates more electricity.

          Health care crisis in a nutshell: Too much is expended on "managing" & too little on "caregiving"

          by Bill White on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 07:05:02 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Hold on--energetically that makes no sense at all (0+ / 0-)

            Isn't solar power desalination basically a matter of evaporation (i.e., boiling) & recondensation? In light of the laws of thermodynamics ("you can't win," "you can't break even," & "you can't even quit the game"), wouldn't you lose at least as much energy in that process by using colder water as you'd gain through "thermal efficiency"? If not, what am I missing here??

            May I bow to Necessity not/ To her hirelings (W. S. Merwin)

            by Uncle Cosmo on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 03:37:23 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  Thermal preferable to PV (8+ / 0-)

      The huge advantage of using thermal over PV is the possibility of extending the "solar day" by storing the heat to generate after the sun has gone down.

      It also uses absolutely standard generators as used in coal or even nuclear powered stations. In other words, established technology without the need for up conversion of the low power output from PV arrays.

      The large towers also use flat mirrors which are a lot cheaper to produce than either the parabolic troughs favored by US manufacturers and shown in the photo in the diary or PV arrays. Having large collection fields and many flat tracking mirrors produces a virtual parabolic mirror to focus on the "boiler".

      Rosa sat so Martin could walk, Martin walked so Barack could run, Barack ran so our children could soar

      by Lib Dem FoP on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 06:06:42 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Ultimately it will be both would be my guess (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Odysseus, ppl can fly

        The collectors will have a PV component of 10-15% efficiency and the waste heat will be used to boil water.  PV needs to get a whole lot cheaper for that to happen, though.

      •  How is the heat stored? (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Odysseus, Lefty Mama, A Siegel

        I would expect that to be very difficult at temperatures that high -- although I also expect to be surprised often.

        I'm already familiar with the advantages of using a steam turbine with no need for an inverter.  I hadn't come across anyone (although perhaps I haven't been asking around enough) with knowledge of the installed cost comparisons for thermal vs. PV systems, though.  I would naively expect the sunlight intensity threshold to be somewhat higher for solar thermal, but in the desert that wouldn't seem to be much of a problem.

        •  Molten Salt (5+ / 0-)

          Salt melts around 250 degrees celsius. The salt is stored just above that temperature as the 'cold' reservoir then is cycled throuygh the sun to heat it up to 500-600 degrees - the 'hot' reservoir. It can keep its temperature for around 7 hours and still produce the same amount or thereabouts of electricity.

          Great technology that will be huge very soon, I'm sure.

          follow my world without oil!

          by darrkespur on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 06:44:33 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Heat stores (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Odysseus, A Siegel, ravedave

          The basic idea of a heat store is well understood as it forms one element of larger home solar heating units. You basically have a large container of a suitable medium. In these power generators it is likely to be either salt or sodium. Both have been suggested as the transport medium as they become liquid at reasonable temperatures. The "boiler" at the top of the tower would heat one of these two mediums and the hot liquid used to heat water indirectly. With a storage tank, the whole system heats up to give residual heat to use in the evening.

          Rosa sat so Martin could walk, Martin walked so Barack could run, Barack ran so our children could soar

          by Lib Dem FoP on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 06:51:53 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Thermal also shifts generation time. (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Odysseus, Plan9, A Siegel, offgrid, ppl can fly

        PV and CPV are able to generate from pretty much the moment the sun rises. Thermal CSTP will take some time for enough latent heat to build up in the process that it may not be until mid morning (after a cold night in the desert) that any real power is being generated.

        I'd suggest CSTP would be generating from around 10am till 4 or 5pm with the days suns, and a further 5-6 hours with a storage medium (molten salt, ammonia).
        PV and CPV would be producing power from around 7am until 4pm.
        The 3-4 hours early morning will be at close to peak demand, so they will be important to allow for.

        Each technology has its benefits and shortcomings, but a combination of multiple ideas is the ultimate solution.

        "In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations." Law of the Iroquois Confederacy

        by Unenergy on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 06:29:42 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  On Sixty Minutes Sunday (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      A Siegel

      the issue of desalinization to support the massive Saudi desert oil fields was addressed. They had to pipe in seawater over a hundred miles to support their operations.

      From this, I concluded that where there's power available in the desert, be it from petro or solar, the first application probably ought to be in desalinization, given the world-wide shortage of water and the increasing desert incursion of available farmlands brought on by climate change.  

  •  Cool... er, I mean hot!! (5+ / 0-)

    I've often thought about how difficult - and expensive - it would be to start from scratch to accommodate the internal combustion engine (i.e. the automobile) in terms of the roads necessary on which to run them. I can't imagine what the U.S. has spent on roads in the last century but I often think if we'd spent a tiny fraction of that money on solar arrays in addition to asphalt how much better off we'd be.

    This ain't no party. This ain't no disco. This ain't no foolin' around!

    by Snud on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 05:51:24 AM PST

  •  Great diary, with my usual caveat re: energy (7+ / 0-)

    This is great visionary stuff, and other parts of the world are way ahead of us. We should also realize what a massive amount of work, (and also environmental impact) a total conversion to renewable energy entails.

    In a post a few above this, Blue State 68 does some simple math calculations for illustration purposes. The fact is, some forms of renewable generation, utility scale wind and solar among them, take up a lot of space for comparatively little output. And what is not in the calculation is the actual energy output , as many renewable sources operate at considerably less than the full capacity they are nominally capable of.

    The changes to the grid will require new construction, major new transmission corridors, which will spark significant environmental as well as NIMBY opposition. Siting transmission is an ugly process.

    So, doing the math, the number of new renewable projects needed to match current energy demand is a bit mind-boggling, as are the land use and other implications of the generation sites and the transmission needed. Add to that the new demand expected from an eventual conversion away from fossil fuel end uses (transportation, space heat etc) to electricity, and you are actually increasing the need for electricity generation and eventually generation capacity too.

    Which brings me to the point I frequently post regarding new sources of sustainable generation, (which I am a longtime advocate of):

    We cannot get there unless we engage in an equally revolutionary campaign to conserve, to increase efficiency and to use less energy than we do now. We will not be able to just build or convert our way out of this.

    This is not what I thought I'd be when I grew up.

    by itzik shpitzik on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 05:53:56 AM PST

  •  The first I saw mention of big solar in (4+ / 0-)

    North Africa was in Monbiot's book heat. I found it truly inspirational -- at last something renewable on a scale that might help make a very comfortable, high tech existence possible for the numbers of people that occupy Europe and by extension the planet. Something that did not involve the extreme concentration of control that space-based solar might.

    It may take 50 years, but we can phase out most of our use of fossil fuels (there is no real reason to eliminate 100%). I was involved with projects around Amory Lovins' Soft Energy Paths as far back as the 1970s, but I was never entirely convinced that it was possible without radical changes in the comforts and conveniences people would experience. Now I think that we can make enormous gains in efficiency and rebuild cities to the point where most people won't need or want cars most of the time, and travel by air will be a bit more of a luxury (kind of like it was in the 1960s) but otherwise our everyday lives can be every bit as pleasant if not moreso.

    We have only just begun and none too soon.

    by global citizen on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 05:57:59 AM PST

  •  Only reclaim those portions of the desert under (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Odysseus, A Siegel, Nulwee, Unenergy

    the solar collectors using biochar beds to create ultra fertile fields. And remember, Rome salted the fields of Carthage - this merely reverses the process.

    Might that Carthage reference help promote this idea within Italy? As in:

    "Lets repair the damage our ancestors caused, ~2000 years ago!"

    Health care crisis in a nutshell: Too much is expended on "managing" & too little on "caregiving"

    by Bill White on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 06:15:42 AM PST

  •  Did anybody notice those #s (6+ / 0-)

    Trans-Mediterranean Renewable Energy Cooperation (TREC) will not be a small project. The rough estimate: £200 ($US 400 or so) billion investment over a 30 year period.

    We just threw double that away on scumbag bankers in ONE YEAR!

    We throw that and change away in ONE year in our military budget.

    That kind of shit makes me sick.

    Renewable energy expensive? My ass!

    McCain/Palin '08 - Government Sucks and We'll Prove It!

    by k9disc on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 06:24:18 AM PST

    •  Sanity (5+ / 0-)

      Add up the total military spending of the US over the last 60 years and think of the good that could have done at home and around the world. Guess what, we would have solved some of the intractable problems of political hostility. Also, consider what we got for our military spending. War, death, human suffering beyond belief, and permanent hostility towards us. Even the cold war was stoked by US military spending as hard as possible. Now add in the total world wide military spending. How stupid are we as a species? Don't answer that, please.

      This diary presents a positive vision in stark contrast to militarism. Can we rise to this challenge?

  •  gonna keep nudging this: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    "Inside the Transition: Meeting with energy and environmental leaders Monday, December 8, 2008 04:15pm EST / Posted by Dave Rochelson

    A couple of weeks ago, the Transition's Energy and Environment Team sat down with a group of energy and environmental leaders, including representatives from the Nature Conservancy, the World Wildlife Fund, and the Pew Environment Group. They gathered to air their concerns and offer their suggestions for the Obama-Biden administration on these important issues.

    We went inside the Transition and put together a short video to give you an idea of what this sort of meeting is like and what these particular leaders had to say.

    You can also view the group's specific policy recommendations in detail. As part of our commitment to transparency, our "Seat at the Table" policy requires any documents provided at meetings like this to be made available to the public. You can view the document, called "Transition to Green," here -- and learn what other groups have provided us, leave a comment, or upload your own materials, at

    I AM living in interesting times: and my hovercraft is full of eels!

    by greenbird on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 06:43:50 AM PST

  •  Une Autre Carte - - (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Pas vraiment, mais les terres africains ne sont pas importants.

  •  "Scientific American's" similar plan for USA. (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Odysseus, offgrid, RJP9999, Unenergy, MCinNH

    Scientific American's Grand Solar Plan: solar power from the southwestern US desert distributed nationwide via new HVDC trunk lines. They claim it's cost-competitive.

    "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

    by HeyMikey on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 06:52:11 AM PST

  •  Problems (9+ / 0-)

    While I recognize that the diary is intended as inspirational (thanks AS for this and all your other work), I thought mention of a few of the obstacles and slowing factors might be in order.

    Europe is aware of the dangers (one would hope) of trusting their energy supplies to countries outside their fraternity. Is swapping Russia's gas for Algeria and Libya's electricity really such a great deal? Are companies willing to work longterm in these locations?

    These are significant innovation projects. Significant projects require extensive pilot programs to improve chances of success, which take time and honest evaluation. Expect those pilot studies to take ten to fifteen years.

    The proposed heat storage process can potentially shift the power available by a few hours, but is somewhat lossy and will not provide 24-hour power. Solar provides a good match with peak power and has enormous potential to provide that 25% of power, but is probably the wrong choice for the balance of requirements.

    HVDC is good, but not magical - it still has losses, and requires conversion at both ends. These proposed transmission systems are again a long way ahead of current proven capability so will require pilots.

    These plants are proposed for a hostile environment and will require a significant and dedicated workforce to operate them effectively and maintain them as long-term assets.


    One thing that puts me off TREC in particular rather than the concept in generally is their hostility to nuclear power; I first heard about their project maybe two years ago from comments Gerry Wolff made, trotting out the usual scaremongering and non-sequiturs against nuclear power wrapped around a couple of paragraphs extolling TREC.

    This is not a sig-line.

    by Joffan on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 07:04:01 AM PST

    •  TREC may be hostile to nuclear; France is not (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Odysseus, A Siegel, imchange

      Adding TREC as yet another ingredient to the EU power mix is very different than putting TREC in charge of 100% of EU power generation;

      The solution to intermittancy is heat storage, if a solar power tower is combined with using cold seawater to cool the molten salts, the rate of heat transfer can be controlled by regulating the temperature of the "cold end" of the cycle

      Ammonia production (as touted by Stranded Wind) is a way to capture excess power that cannot be dumped into the grid

      Politics? I see challenge and opportunity

      The plants begin in a hostile environment however if the land underneath the reflectors receives say 50% of the sunlight it otherwise would have gotten, that creates a space to grow food -- especially if de-salinization of sea water is a fringe benefit.

      Local governments are of course key players here but this offers a genuine "nation building" opportunity.

      Health care crisis in a nutshell: Too much is expended on "managing" & too little on "caregiving"

      by Bill White on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 07:14:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Heat storage (0+ / 0-)

        as I said, extends the hours a little but does not make the system non-intermittant.

        My points are not necessarily showstoppers, but they indicate the need to look at the prospects of this tehcnology soberly and with awareness of the various different project risks.

        This is not a sig-line.

        by Joffan on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 10:07:07 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Actually ... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Plan9, Joffan

      If you look at the numbers, this is viewed by at least some of those involved as a 'partnership' with nuclear power as a path to getting Europe off fossil fuel energy. (Others, of course, are in the 'absolutely no nukes' camp ...)

      And, re the politics, from what I see of the discussion, this is conceived as part of both an energy security and broader security effort. Re broader, seeking to foster greater stability on Europe's 'frontiers' (North Africa). Re energy security, this is a fostering of multiple suppliers, multiple options.  And, this is a mutual dependency situation, not a one-way system.

      Finally, of course this is a long term effort, on multiple ways, and it could pan out to be too inefficient or otherwise costly for it to be much more than a niche element of a future path forward.

      Writ large, your points are ones that I at least partially agree with.

    •  Response (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      A Siegel, Joffan

      On the engineering front, most of these technologies have been tested and are producing electricity now. Jordan is attempting to become the start of the EUMENA scheme and yesterday:

      The Al-Husseini Group, a diversified real estate, industrial and trading organization based in Amman, Jordan, and Amelio Solar, a developer of photovoltaic module technologies in Ewing, New Jersey, announced a joint venture to build a massive solar power plant Jordan in cooperation with the government and the national utility.

      The joint venture has launched a multi-year project to construct a one-gigawatt (1GW) photovoltaic power generation plant in Jordan, including an integrated 200 megawatt (MW) thin-film photovoltaic module factory that will serve as a dedicated source of Amelio Solar thin-film photovoltaic modules to supply the power plant.

      Jordan in particular has few natural resources and sees solar as a future source of income. It would also benefit from the water produced by solar furnace type generators.

      On the politics, see my comments about the Stabilization agreements that the EU promotes with neighboring countries. There is, in any case, well established gas and oil trading with Libya and other countries in North Africa. By linking with all the countries there is less chance of one causing disruption. Such things are in any case a lot less likely to happen if you have an outgoing foreign policy like the EU.

      Intermittancy is dealt with by having a wide variety of sources from solar to wind, geothermal and wave (not included on the map but now being installed off Portuagal and the UK) all spread over a wide geographic area. Nuclear will inevitably come into this mix with the replacement of the existing capacity or expansion of sites.

      Rosa sat so Martin could walk, Martin walked so Barack could run, Barack ran so our children could soar

      by Lib Dem FoP on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 07:49:56 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Electricity is a little different (0+ / 0-)

        to other power sources in its immediacy, but certainly there could be ways with sufficient redundancy to assure against some disruptive possibilities. Redundancy is not free, however.

        This is not a sig-line.

        by Joffan on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 10:09:08 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Nuclear power is one of the few large-scale (7+ / 0-)

      baseload options that doesn't spew millions of tons of CO2 and other crap into the atmosphere.  

      A major renewables push will need to be girded by a 24x7 nuclear backbone, especially since we need to shut down coal plants YESTERDAY.

      The science of next generation nuclear is known and can be rolled out within a decade if made a high priority.  Next generation nuclear options are many, including thorium, molten salt reactors, or technologies such as the Integral Fast Reactor.  

      Nuclear is an important option.  To say nuclear has no ability to meet safety, waste, proliferation, and sustainability concerns is simply not true.  To oppose nuclear on principle, including any possible future designs, is to do so out of dogma divorced from the science.  I can say this as a scientist and engineer who has studied many research papers and articles on advanced nuclear designs and fuel cycles over the years.  I acknowledge, however, that just because the science is there doesn't mean a new nuclear push is guaranteed to be done responsibly. That's where politics intersects...

      The problem to date with these advanced nuclear approaches has been cost: nuclear has had to compete with fossil fuels, which have their true costs externalized.  So, we now have the most wasteful nuclear designs possible and the smart advanced designs have gathered dust over the years.  

      Externalized costs for fossil fuels include global warming, acid rain, smog, mercury and other carcinogens in our air and water, the DOD budget of 100s of billions, plus ongoing death and destruction in the Middle East.  Tax carbon to reflect these costs, the true cost of fossil fuels, and next generation nuclear will be able to compete along with renewables!

      The intrinsic nature of Power is such that those who seek it most are least qualified to wield it.

      by mojo workin on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 07:55:59 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Unsubstantiated statement (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        supak, BobTrips, trivium, imchange

        From your post:

        To say nuclear has no ability to meet safety, waste, proliferation, and sustainability concerns is simply not true.

        But it is true. The nuclear industry has not come up with a workable solution to the waste and proliferation problems in its 50+ years of existence, although it was promised right from the beginning.

        Nuclear power has been subsidized by our country since the beginning, and most importantly, has had its accident liability exposure limited by law since the 1950s to a meaningless amount. Without that government underwriting, there would be no nuclear generation.

        Nuclear waste is a poisonous emission, just not emitted into the air.

        And, I've been reading about the next generation of nuclear for a really long time.

        This is not what I thought I'd be when I grew up.

        by itzik shpitzik on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 08:44:05 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  It is $$$ (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Bluehawk, supak

          The industry has known for years how to deal with waste by burning it ALL. BUT it is cheaper to be inefficient.  It is less expensive to mine a lot more Uranium and run fuel rods through a light water reactor once and dispose of them even though they still contain in excess of 95% of the original energy available in the Uranium.  There are vested interests in the Uranium supply chain, which intersects with the M.I.C. too...

          And even when being incredibly inefficient, years worth of spent fuel rods can sit in one reactor pool... the relative scale of the contained waste is miniscule compared with fossil fuels, so the ball gets kicked down the road... THAT is a political decision, driven by economic considerations.  Those decisions were made when the first generation of nuclear reactors were put in place.  

          Nuclear fuel should be recycled and reactors such as the Integral Fast Reactor should be deployed to use all the energy available, reducing waste streams by a factor of at least 60 times, with the half-life of that waste reduced to centuries rather than millennia, i.e. fission products are disposed instead of heavy, long-lived transuranic actinides.  Please Google-up Integral Fast Reactor for one such example.

          I can forward links to documents that prove that workable and TESTED designs exist that meet waste, proliferation and sustainability concerns.  The problem is that they're written by nuclear scientists and engineers, and would be surely discounted as being biased and not true by many.  But for those that are interested, there are many resources I can compile... perhaps subject for a diary when I have more time!

          The intrinsic nature of Power is such that those who seek it most are least qualified to wield it.

          by mojo workin on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 09:59:03 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Just curious (0+ / 0-)

            what are nuclear fuel supply estimates? Have we reached peak uranium? Why do they think we need to mine this from near the Grand Canyon? What is the total global supply of uranium left?

            What are the political solutions to Uranium supply (vis a vis North Africa).

            Further, what kind of dollar to watt ratio are we talking here if they did "burn" all the uranium (I assume you mean in the reaction)?

            •  Concerns about fuel supply (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              wonmug, Bluehawk, offgrid

              are based on the once-through light-water reactor design.  I've seen a variety of estimates of  reserves lasting 50-100 years.  This is really tough because as the price-point moves up, the amount of recoverable U increases dramatically.  This is because, unlike petroleum, U is a naturally occurring element that is part of the earth's crust.  It exists everywhere to some extent or another.  The issue of mining cost depends on the extent of natural geologic concentration.  The more you want to pay, the more there will be to find.  It is theoretically energy-profitable to extract U dissolved in seawater for example.  There is more energy in the trace amounts of U in coal than is provided by burning the coal itself!

              However unreliable and likely LOW this estimate is, it is based on fissioning U-235 alone, which comprises 0.7% of natural Uranium, i.e. approx. 1% of the U that is mined out of the ground actually generates energy.  Fast reactor concepts slowly transmute the other 99% into fissionable material that produces energy.  So, you get upward to a 100-fold extension of your Uranium resources, i.e. 5000 to 10000 years.  We have enough spent fuel and depleted U stock that could power the US for a few centuries using this approach, without having to mine any new Uranium!  

              This can be handled in a safe way using, for example, the IFR concept of on-site recycling so no "proliferation" materials (Plutonium) ever leave the reactor site.  The fast-neutrons of these reactor types also fission transuranic elements, which are the really nasty elements that remain "hot" for thousands of years.  When these are fissioned, the lighter fission products have much shorter half-lives, i.e. they are safe after a much shorter time period, measured in hundreds of years instead of thousands.  Then, of course, you have the fact that the waste stream is reduced by a 100-fold factor...

              There is another option, using Thorium -> U233 cycle (U233 is fissionable, just like U-235, but doesn't occur naturally).  Thorium is 3 times more abundant in the earth's crust, so without trying too hard a Thorium / U233 cycle would provide enough power for a further 15000 - 30000 years at the very least.  

              For an excellent article on this, please see Scientific American, Smarter Use for Nuclear Waste

              Here is a huge list of links and discussion about IFR technology: here

              I should also note that the American Nuclear Society has this to say:

              ...the deployment of advanced nuclear reactors based on fast-neutron fission technology is important to the sustainability, reliability and security of the world's long-term energy supply... thereby extending by a hundred-fold the amount of energy extracted from the same amount of mined uranium... Fast reactors in conjunction with fuel recycling can diminish the cost and duration of storing and managing reactor waste... leaving a small amount of fission product waste that requires assured isolation from the environment for less than 500 years.

              The intrinsic nature of Power is such that those who seek it most are least qualified to wield it.

              by mojo workin on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 03:04:03 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  What About Cultural and Environmental Autonomy? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      If the Tuareg and Bedouin do not want to fill the Sahara with mirrors, do we respect their wishes?  Or do we go to the Arab leaders of the North African nations who have oppressed people of the Central Sahara and subjected them to Arabization?  Who decides?

      If one of the challenges of global warming is the  threat to the climatic bases of the Inuit and other peoples of the High Arctic, then how is transforming the Sahara into an industrial zone to produce power for Europe any different?

      •  No ... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        we can't do anything, anywhere ...

        Of course, there is a quite serious issue (mentioned in diary) of trying to figure out how to do this with 'least' impact.

        But, the map with the red boxes ... Need to "fill / transform the Sahara"?  I don't think so.  

        And, to be honest, choices and trade-offs exist.  They will have to be dealt with.

        But, at the end of the day, I think far more of the 'locals' would support this than raise the issues you do.

    •  Yeah, agreed ... spammers shouldn't be supported (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      and TREC are basically a bunch of spammers, spreading their nonsense about the internet by posting unwanted form-letter-style comments on blogs everywhere. I've seen them for quite a while.

      And like the spammers who promise miracle penis-enlargement pills, they use a mass-mailing ad campaign to spread over-hyped information about a dubious and untested product. I'm really disappointed (but not surprised) that Adam has chosen to help spread their nonsense.

      It's a shame that anyone would fall for such nonsense about "cheap and easy" solar energy from Africa, but then again some people still reply to "MAKE MONEY FAST" emails and some people actually believe that the relative of an unknown dead Nigerian businessman needs their help to free up TWENTY ONE MILLION, THREE HUNDRED AND TWENTY THOUSAND U.S. DOLLARS that is just waiting to be claimed. Somebody has to be responding to these "too easy to be true" spam ads to keep the spammers in business. TREC has just realized that they can do business the same way.

      The one thing that is surprising about the TREC assholes is that they are actually shameless enough to keep a record of all of the unwilling victims of their spam. My god, how low can a con-artist go?

      What is even more more troubling to me is that their entire plan boils down to a type of "energy colonialism." Don't want to have a power plant in your back yard? No need to worry! We'll just stick it down in North Africa and let the Arabs deal with the consequences of having one of these things in their back yard.

      Is there ever a discussion of where they will get the water needed to wash all of those mirrors? (Let's see) Er ... No. Is there ever any mention of how or even if they will decommission these many square miles of solar facilities at the end of their useful life a couple of decades from now? No. Will they just leave them out in the dessert to rot and be covered by the sands? I don't know, but I, for one, hope that we never have to find out.

      Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving wordy evidence of the fact.
      -- George Eliot

      by bryfry on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 08:48:52 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Think this is overboard ... (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BobTrips, Joffan, trivium, NRG Guy, RJP9999

        in opposition to it.  You find them, clearly, to be "anti-nuke" and thus spammers / anathema / "penis enlargement" scam.  

        Well, whether it is high enough efficiency for you or not, CSTP systems are up and running -- and have been for a long time, with a renaissance seemingly emerging for them as part of the power system.

        And, I don't think that 'cheap and easy' is what is discussed here, but that there is a potential high-value to this when examined in a systems-of-systems benefit arena.

        Sigh ... it is a regretful when taking a 'either/or' rather than 'both' approach.

        •  Heh ... perhaps you misunderstand (0+ / 0-)

          I don't object, in principle, to the concept of CSP; however, I really believe that any CSP system put together by this particular company would be a scam.

          This is not based on their opposition to nuclear (although that certainly doesn't help their case). It is based on their entire advertising strategy.

          Would you buy a CSP system from a Sunday morning infomercial?!

          I notice that you didn't address my concerns about "energy colonialism," which I think would be important to any true progressive.

          Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving wordy evidence of the fact.
          -- George Eliot

          by bryfry on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 01:13:17 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Couple things ... (0+ / 0-)
            1.  I view "TREC" more as concept and conceptualization than "company". Perhaps that is misunderstanding the situation.  You call them Sunday infomercial, that is not my impression of their work.
            1.  RE "Energy Colonialization" -- there are many aspects to this question and issue. Look at the map: linked into it are power generation sources and storage in Europe as well as N Africa and Middle East. Is there any reason, necessarily, why power can't go both ways dependent on demand/capacity/requirements?  Thus, is this a mutually beneficial/dependent releationship or energy colonialization?  In addition, compare this path toward "energy colonialization" with the resource depletions like oil or other natural resource extraction.  If "energy colonialization", this looks to be about as benign as it can be: paying upfront for the infrastructure that will foster economic prosperity and represent an indefinite cash stream into the future.
            •  Look (0+ / 0-)

              I've learned long ago not to try to dissuade you from your energy ideas.

              Go ahead. Be my guest.

              But while you're at it, if you have any pull, can you try to keep these assholes from spamming the rest of the internet with their ridiculous ideas?

              (and if you think that their ideas as presented by their form-letter spam are not ridiculous, then we have something to talk about ... otherwise ... peace)

              Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving wordy evidence of the fact.
              -- George Eliot

              by bryfry on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 02:01:44 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Interestingly ... (0+ / 0-)

                I haven't been 'hit' by their spam (that I recall / can find).  Perhaps a good spam filter?  To be honest, I have not seen their "form-letter spam".

                •  They don't email it (0+ / 0-)

                  The post it as comments on websites/blogs. Go look at the link that I posted earlier. They have even logged all of the places where they posted the same form-letter spamoid. They are actually proud of spamming the internet (not always the same spam, but in fewer flavors than what Baskin-Robbins has).

                  Don't take my word for it. Follow my link.

                  Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving wordy evidence of the fact.
                  -- George Eliot

                  by bryfry on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 03:06:35 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  What this looks like to me ... (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    is much like a 'coordinated letter writing campaign' rather than a 'spamming' / 'penis enlargement' activity.  And, well, I don't agree with all of what they write. The placing of this as nuclear power vs CSP is not an angle that I'd take. If they truly believed that is what will happen, fast developments in CSTP would then make nuclear power obsolete quickly as they are able to put power on line. If they're wrong (and others, including me, are wrong) about the opportunities from renewables, then we will fry the planet if nuclear power isn't brought on line.

      •  Why don't you argue on the merits... (0+ / 0-)

        rather than rant.  I gather you prefer nuclear - why don't you explain why you think nuclear is better than this?

        •  Please see my other comments here (0+ / 0-)

          My "rant" wasn't specifically against CSP, but was directed against the particular "guerilla marketing" tactics employed by this particular organization.

          It doesn't take a large stretch of the imagination to see how their tactics are similar to what the penis-enlargement, viagra, cialis, or Canadian pharmacy folks regularly use to promote their wares.

          If you want to discuss energy policy, then be my guest.  These scam-artists, however, don't want to discuss energy policy. Rather, they prefer to litter the internet with their graffiti.

          That is the first sign of a con-man.

          If you want to get taken, then be one of the first on your block to sign up as investor in their product. If you believe it is for real, then you will make a fortune!

          If, on the other hand, you are suggesting that my tax dollars should be spent to support these snake-oil salesmen, then I'll have to take you to task.

          Good day.

          Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving wordy evidence of the fact.
          -- George Eliot

          by bryfry on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 04:16:45 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Nuclear Storage (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BobTrips, Joffan

      I know a lot has been written about new generations of nuclear power plants creating waste that is more easily stored, but I don't know the details.  I would love to read more if anyone out there can give a synopsis.  The extended half-life of nuclear waste freaks me out, and it remains a devil's bargain if little has really changed in that regard.  There is also the problem of the spread of nuclear technology to even less stable countries who would love to  sidetrack it into weapons development.  The whole nuclear industry gives me the heebies.

      Life is good. Injustice? Not so much.

      by westyny on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 07:26:02 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  A big deal has been made of a small problem (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        wonmug, Bluehawk

        (on the nuclear waste from) and I know that can be hard to believe after you have been told over and over how terrible it is, what a huge proble, how it;s going to kill everyone, etc. (If I'm exaggerating, it's not by much :-) ).

        Even current waste is a small technical problem that has been hijacked to make it a big political problem. Nuclear waste is small in quantity and solid; both of which are huge advantages. It is initally intensely radioactive, which obviously requires a very careful approach, but the radioactivity drops amazing rapidly. The natural reactors at Oklo 2 billions years ago showed that the waste really doesn't travel through rock any substantial distance even with flowing water, let alone the dry rock that is being earmarked for storage today around the world.

        I shall attempt to return later and expand on this, including alternatives like molten salt reactors and fast burner reactors.... thanks for the question though.

        This is not a sig-line.

        by Joffan on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 10:18:18 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  See my comments a few spots upthread (0+ / 0-)

        Current spent fuel can be recycled, and used in fast-spectrum reactor designs, to deliver at least 60 times more energy than what the fuel rods provided originally in the light-water reactor.  If we made deployment of a fast-reactor fleet a national priority, you would have no nuclear waste disposal problem as all existing waste would become a fuel resource and we would be able to shut-down all coal-fired plants (eventually) without concerns about future Uranium supply.  The waste stream from recycling fast-reactor fuel would be fission products only, which are harmless after a few hundred years.  The volume is also a tiny fraction per unit energy delivered so the nuclear waste problem would become moot.  I provided a few useful links on this upthread...  

        The intrinsic nature of Power is such that those who seek it most are least qualified to wield it.

        by mojo workin on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 06:59:25 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  What this could do for Africa is stunning (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Fabian, A Siegel

    Fantastic find.  Thank you for posting this.

  •  Transportation fits into this as well: (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Siegel, imchange, washunate, Unenergy, MCinNH

    Great diary A Siegel!

    My comment on the topic got too long, so I wrote my first diary:

    Energy COOL and Transportation Synergies

    (Please take a look.)  When we are thinking about infrastructure investments and transportation, we should consider our electric grid, and look for synergies that can really change the way we use (or waste) energy.

  •  For US, conservation is king. 50% less efficient. (5+ / 0-)

    The low hanging fruit for US (and the world since US is biggest polluter) is for US to get as energy efficient as Europe/Japan.

    This can be done without new energy sources and can be done very quickly.  This should be Obama's first target of his energy/economy/national security policy since it can put people to work using current technology, boosting existing current jobs/industry and cutting US energy and pollution very quickly.

    •  What is in first note to diary? (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Fabian, mojo workin, trivium, imchange

      To be clear, this is a stove-piped discussion. The top priority, in any action re energy, is efficiency (whether buildings, transport, industrial processes, power production) and then renewable power.

    •  I agree 100% (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Meteor Blades, A Siegel

      I've been fortunate enough to have visited Europe multiple times since I was 2 years old. I know for sure when I was 12 & visited Holland that low voltage lighting was being used there. I was in Germany this summer & I was blown away at the mileage their cars are getting. I drove in a Chrysler mini van (identical to the caravan) that was getting 30+ miles per gallon. I know that same mini van gets maybe 20 here. Why??? I also drove a 5 speed Peugeot, w/ a 3 cylinder diesel motor (no hybrid nothing) that got over 50 mpg. Canada uses low voltage lighting predominantly in all rennovations & Commercial applications. Our water heaters (produced by the very same Companies that are in the energy business) are huge & wasteful, & force US to pay to heat water when we're not even using it. Tankless water heaters have been in use for well over a decade. They use less resources to make, produce less waste & are far more efficient. Yet they cost at least 3 times as much. Why???
      These are just the surface & that's simply from having traveled a little bit. We can do better...
      As a society we should be doing what we reasonably can & addressing just these small issues will go a long way toward helping...

  •  We have lots of options (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Siegel, offgrid, trivium, OrangeMike

    People have been talking about North Dakota, Kansas, and Texas being the 'Saudi Arabia of wind' for decades. There are lots of uses for small and large solar energy installations all over the country.

    It's just a matter of deciding we want to invest public dollars in wind and solar electricity and electrified transportation systems instead of fossil fuel energy and fossil fuel-based transportation systems.

    Imagine what Atlanta would look like if the state of Georgia took the money it hands out to foreign car makers and spent it on mass transit instead. Imagine how our public policy would change if we imported energy from Kansas instead of Caracas, if we were building high speed rail networks in the US instead of enduring bases in Iraq. Imagine if our scientists were researching energy issues here rather than bombs for exploding somewhere else.

    I find it reassuring that our barriers are political, not technical. But it means we have to demand a change in spending from our political leaders. The recipients of corporate welfare don't just hand back the money.

  •  question on solar collectors (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bluehawk, A Siegel, condorcet

    all the pictures i have ever seen have them bright and shiny.  i live in the desert region of CA so dust is an issue for us, especially when the desert winds kick up.

    with all the dust in the desert air, how are the reflective surfaces on the collectors cleaned and maintained to maximize their energy production?

    I'm a blue drop in a red bucket.

    by blue drop on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 09:04:01 AM PST

  •  It strikes me (0+ / 0-)

    that another aspect of desert solar power that could be useful is to locate solar-powered CO2 sequestration plants in these desert areas.

  •  The Saharra was once green (5+ / 0-)

    trust me, the areas of eastern and southern Algeria and Mali... they have no concern for the rocks staying as rocks. They will welcome vegetation with open arms.

    Not to mention the Atlas Mtns. need to be reforested... so that animals like the macaque and the leopard and other things we didn't know were up there can have a change to not go extinct.

    Wall Street pirates loot this country, destroy people's lifelong work and their pensions. If you need to execute someone, shoot those motherfuckers.

    by Nulwee on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 09:15:54 AM PST

  •  The windmills I saw in France last month (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Siegel, trivium, gerbilmark

    Looking north across the Vilaine River in Brittany:

    Closer view:


    Even closer:


    Yes We Can...Yes We Will...Hell Yes We Did!!

    by WSComn on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 09:27:22 AM PST

  •  Though it sounds lovely... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bluehawk, trivium

    Putting critical power generation infrastructure inside countries run by dictators, devastated by poverty, riddled with terrorists, and undergoing regular armed conflict doesn't seem to be a very wise idea.  Kind of shouts "Blow me up to hurt the infidels," or maybe, "Scavenge my components to sell for 1/1000th of their value, which is still more than you'd make in 20 years."

    Ignorance makes the world go flat

    by sleipner on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 09:35:48 AM PST

    •  Question becomes ... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BobTrips, Unenergy, gerbilmark

      whether the best path toward stabilization and security is through walling them off or engaging with them into the fold. And, as well, your wording and concepts don't fit how Europe views (for example) the options and requirements for engaging with much of the region.  

      As well, this is not 'just' power for the 'infidels', but also for the locals.  

    •  If countries share the natural common wealth (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      A Siegel, offgrid, BobTrips, gerbilmark

      offered to all, the population will reject extremists that dare to interfere. Countries run by dictators is one thing, yes .. but for terrorists to attack structures that benefit the general population from the bottom up spells trouble for terrorist infrastructure to grow.

      Commonwealth. If people are convinced of the value of it, they will defend it.

      2008, the Year the Republican Party dissolved into a little pond of goo

      by shpilk on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 10:07:05 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  This is a problem (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      A Siegel

      There are two development directions happening simultaneously in renewables:

      Continental & global development of very large generation, which requires the kind of transmission infrastructure discussed in this diary, and which does raise questions about security, international politics present & future etc. This is in an interesting way a reincarnation of the traditional "central station" mode of providing electricity.


      Smaller scale and distributed generation "close to home" that is less dependent on the macro grid and adds an element of reliability, but is also small potatoes when you add up the output, and usually (not always) more expensive.

      Both have their merits and their issues and in my mind are not mutually exclusive.

      This is not what I thought I'd be when I grew up.

      by itzik shpitzik on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 10:32:44 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Don't worry USA ......... (0+ / 0-)

      .........this is a way we can all gain.  Once you stop trying to take over the world to steal all the oil you'll be amazed how cooperative us "dusky furriners" can be :)

      "If you took the most ardent revolutionary, vested him in absolute power, within a year he would be worse than the Tsar himself." - Bakunin

      by gerbilmark on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 10:57:54 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  In some ways an energy system like this ....... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      A Siegel

      ........... is comparable to the internet with multiple sources, destinations and routes with no critical nodes.  In fact this is a scheme for real energy security.

      "If you took the most ardent revolutionary, vested him in absolute power, within a year he would be worse than the Tsar himself." - Bakunin

      by gerbilmark on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 11:05:30 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  internet is really not a good comparison (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        The idea that energy could be handled and sold like telecom had a lot to do with the attempt at deregulation and retail competition of the 1990s, one of the greatest scams ever perpetrated on the public (that is until more recently).

        Electricity is a physical product and the location of the generation and the user really does matter. When there is congestion, you can't just beam the energy via another satellite and send it around the congestion.

        This is not what I thought I'd be when I grew up.

        by itzik shpitzik on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 11:34:51 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I wasn't comparing it economically ....... (0+ / 0-)

          ..... but from the aspect of system security.  Sorry for not making that clear.

          "If you took the most ardent revolutionary, vested him in absolute power, within a year he would be worse than the Tsar himself." - Bakunin

          by gerbilmark on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 12:08:47 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  WE can do all of these things. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mojo workin, A Siegel, trivium

    It requires political will at the Federal level, and at the State and Local levels, too.

    Each area of the country has certain characteristics that lend itself to energy production of a certain type.

    In NH, we have a fair amount of wind power, some solar, converting waste material from landfills into methane, conventional water power and converting waste plant material into ethanol and biodiesel.

    I guess even with the limited coast line, there's some chance to capture wave power, and we've large lakes which can be used to cool in the summer, tapping off the cool water rather than running AC in a number of buildings.

    Political will. At every level, and we've got to flex as much as possible first for conservation and wise use of what we've got to work with today, and then for change.  

    2008, the Year the Republican Party dissolved into a little pond of goo

    by shpilk on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 09:50:46 AM PST

  •  quick question (0+ / 0-)

    "Shaded areas under the mirrors of CSP plants are protected from the full glare of harsh tropical sunlight and may be used for many purposes, including horticulture..."

    Are those curved mirrors going to follow the Sun's arc? If so, would the varying shade -- and air temperature still being the same -- be able to sustain any horticulture.

    Just want to learn more about the fantastic possibilities...

    Be thankful for the freedom to see other dreams - Ben Okri

    by travancore on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 11:02:21 AM PST

  •  Good diary! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Siegel

    Without a national HVDC "smart" transmission network all the developments in energy collection  (be they solar, wind, geothermal or any of many other methods) won't have much impact.  It is an absolute essential element to any meaningful national energy plan.  

    Reality is that which refuses to go away when I stop believing in it." -- Philip K. Dick ....... {-8.25 / -5.64}

    by carver on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 11:05:16 AM PST

  •  Great Solar articles yesterday but I can't (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Siegel

    remember where.  First they had 10 solar gadgets, one was a solar folio for the iPhone.  And the Solio which I have and love.

    But also there was an article on a town in Spain that has put solar panels in the cemetery on top of the crypts.  It looked really cool and they said it was respectful.  The town had no where else to put them it was so crowded (the town, not the cemetery).

  •  a really fascinating wind power concept (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Siegel

    can be seen in this video (wmv, go to the website for other formats), which involves capturing wind power where it virtually always exists - in the jet stream.  This one is definitely worth some investment IMHO as an engineer.

  •  great job (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Siegel

    thanks for keeping me informed & optimistic about the future - I really appreciate all your work.

  •  Thermal solar and wind. underground lines (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Siegel

    However I am much more interested in connecting the demand near the supply thus ending the cost of underground lines as Gore also seems to like.

    The tax credit incentives might best be served by direct local assistance programs first, that are green community supported.

    I like the idea of building green communities with GREEN MAYORS, all around the local gov. owning the new power hence the funding support and project assistance.

    Green Mayors do MATTER.

    I do like thermal solar and wind for CHP projects however.

    I just can't see the funding for the underground lines now. Maybe sometime off in the future however.

    Ecosystems empowerment for the rural poor.

    by 1Eco on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 11:46:11 AM PST

    •  If the green energy sources .............. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      A Siegel

      ...... are too locally focused we will be told we need nuclear power or coal for baseline generation. The larger the network and the more diverse the green sources exploited the less of a problem this becomes.

      "If you took the most ardent revolutionary, vested him in absolute power, within a year he would be worse than the Tsar himself." - Bakunin

      by gerbilmark on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 12:02:21 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I am saying RUN FOR MAYOR. WE NEED GREEN MAYORS (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        A Siegel, trivium

        This then gives us a platform to run on.

        Green sustainable power, light rail, local affordable sustainable energy services.

        This doesn't happen without GREEN MAYORS and GREEN MAYORS MATTER.

        With Obama just showing Gore at his side, the FED is all in on supporting GREEN MAYORS.

        Doesn't matter what City.

        The city becomes the green project.

        This doesn't mean solar thermal and wind can't be built in remote locations, it simply means when it comes to FUNDING, the city could find the money.

        As I read the other day we now have 200,000 progressives here.

        HOW many should be running for the GREEN MAYOR in their city?

        How about 700.

        And when I say light rail I am talking about added to the current road system so that MAJOR GREEN REHAB comes into play along the line.

        Ecosystems empowerment for the rural poor.

        by 1Eco on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 12:31:25 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Simply put ... (0+ / 0-)

      if we want a smart energy future, we need both increased decentralized and a much better national grid. Smart(er) grid should both be enabled to move/share power around the nation as necessary while also fostering decentralized solutions as well.  Not either/or, but both.

      And, if not now, when to start the move to a real national grid?

      •  Both YES. I am just saying GREEN COMMUNITY FIRST (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        A Siegel

        ONE NEW GREEN MAYOR at a time.

        RUN FOR MAYOR. Then move up to the congress if you want, then become the senator or Gov. and then build in some remote area.

        I am only saying this is a matter of wise investment connected to green communities.

        If you can get the funding for remote projects, GO FOR IT.

        I know I can't and wouldn't begin to try.

        I am working on energy projects geared around CHP.

        Finding dollars is always a major royal pain.

        I am just saying GREEN MAYORS coming from this progressive base here, could find money for local green community based energy services.

        Ecosystems empowerment for the rural poor.

        by 1Eco on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 12:36:11 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Think of it as a HUB based build OUT (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        A Siegel

        700 GREEN COMMUNITY HUBS to then feed into.

        You can bet the green Mayors will welcome the MAIN LINE.

        Ecosystems empowerment for the rural poor.

        by 1Eco on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 12:50:23 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I know I will be looking for GREEN MAYORS (0+ / 0-)

        If and when I do have CASH IN HAND.

        This because I want to support progressives and green community based POWER.

        What I don't use I will then offer to the green community and hope they will value whatever I might not need.

        GREEN MAYORS also matter because we have seen their networking POWER for every MAJOR ELECTION.

        Ecosystems empowerment for the rural poor.

        by 1Eco on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 12:56:02 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  You have just shown the path to WIN!!!!! (0+ / 0-)

        Green sustainable community based power supported by a nationwide solar thermal and wind based energy source that can be the major feed as the local green community power build out takes shape.

        Keep in mind we are talking about the community offering local green energy services.

        I believe 700 new GREEN Mayors also win based on light rail and the GREEN sustainable REHAB build-out along the line and I have seen this happen so I know it can be done.

        Can dailykos members WIN as GREEN Mayors? I say YEs.

        I say they come here ask for our support and we get behind every one of them.

        Bike paths also help each potential green mayor win.

        Having Obama ready to help fund projects will not hurt either.

        Ecosystems empowerment for the rural poor.

        by 1Eco on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 01:02:56 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Exciting stuff (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Siegel, gerbilmark

    I don't have the knowledge to contribute anything of substance here, but I get really excited about alternative energy and appreciate all of your work on that subject here, A Siegel.


  •  Wonderful! This is a win-win-win for everybody. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Siegel

    Which means that the corporate forces arrayed against it will be fierce, especially in the U.S.  But projects like TREC are the image of the future that is going to be.

    "Do not forget that every people deserves the regime it is willing to endure." -- White Rose letter no. 1

    by keikekaze on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 12:38:37 PM PST

    •  Lots of big corporate forces... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Getting involved in renewables.

      GE is a major wind turbine manufacturer.  Florida Power and Light is a major wind farm builder/operator.  Google is putting serious money into renewables.

      Big For against Big Anti.  Not Little Us against Big Anti.

      And now it's Big For + US Government vs. Big Anti....

      15 to 6. Pulled ahead as soon as the gate opened and never looked back....

      by BobTrips on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 09:25:30 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  bingo: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Siegel

    "Might it be a tool to help change the direction of the "Global War on Terrorism" through creation of hope and economic opportunity?"

    Remove the principal motivation behind joining extremist organizations: poverty. If people have food, water, and a place to live (provided that all of these things are clean and safe) then there is little incentive to do harm to others. Same thing goes for poverty everywhere (outside forces beyond economic factors contribute greatly also).

    My only problem with clean energy is this:

    I won't stop the myth of perpetual growth that is put forward by capitalism as well as communism on the other end. Just because our energy is free doesn't mean we should consume at the same rate that we are now. Every resource is finite and we need to use this time to begin molding an economic theory that understands this.

    So, green energy can go down shit creek for all I care if we use it to continue raping the world at the same rate that we are now with the large scale industrious nature of extracting natural resources. Hate to put it that way, but there is no reason to switch to green energy if we continue the same theory of unlimited growth. It'll only delay the inevitable.

    John McCain picked someone who not only appeals to "Wal-Mart Moms" but is one herself, shopping for the family in a local branch.-BBC

    by FinchJ on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 12:54:34 PM PST

    •  edit: "It won't stop" not "I won't stop" (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      A Siegel

      dur dur exam day blues.

      John McCain picked someone who not only appeals to "Wal-Mart Moms" but is one herself, shopping for the family in a local branch.-BBC

      by FinchJ on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 12:55:38 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Couple things ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      1.  If you look at  the history of terrorism, many actors were middle (even upper) class without a direct economic / fiscal driver.  This might 'reduce' the pool of recruits, reduce the level of problem, but 'economic' doesn't seem likely to be sole solution.
      1.  If you read my material, you will see that primary emphasis is on efficiency, with 3 Rs/etc.  Now, I might remain 'too much' in capitalism for your tastes but do believe that we need to restructure toward economic interactions that enable a sustainable humanity that exists without destroying our own home.
      •  you are right (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        A Siegel
        1. You are right, and I guess I should have clarified about that statement because I was meaning, as you said, that it would decrease the pool. You diminish their numbers enough, as you would remove most membership (hopefully, this is talking North Africa and not Iraq- this probably wouldn't work in Iraq and isn't aimed at a war zone but rather a 'stable' Muslim country that is seeing a rise in extremism). Removing most of the membership should render an extremist group inoperable and obsolete because the middle class that is not radical would probably embrace the new measures of inclusion and equal treatment.
        1. You do need far far lefties to define your centrism (forgive me if I am wrong lol, just how I read your comment leads me to believe that you are moderate when it comes to controlling the market) like me  ;-) I agree that a moderate stance is the most viable way to go forward at this point and work within our limits to begin a radical change in our view of what constitutes the "good life" and whether or not unrestrained growth is viable. A dramatic shift to the far left right now would result in terrible scenarios...

        John McCain picked someone who not only appeals to "Wal-Mart Moms" but is one herself, shopping for the family in a local branch.-BBC

        by FinchJ on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 08:56:59 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Total nonsense: Enough with the anti-science... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    unified national transmission grid, a smart grid with long-distance, low-loss transmission

    Yeah, just like the Bushie's on Global Warming, pay no attention to SCIENCE.

    Just like under Bush, the rule of law is a joke... only this time its the Laws of Physics.

    There is no magical "low loss" miracle waiting out there for us to suddenly have happy happy solar juice from Arizona zipping across the country to light up NYC.

    Or for the Sahara to light up Sweden.

    Our National electric grid IS UNIFIED, the wires are connected and it is not some idiotic bureacracy that keeps AZ electrons from making thier way to NYC, it is the fact that materials science's best results so far for transmission wires just can't make the desired result possible.

    The real solution is to just place solar and/or wind generation at every single residence and business that it is feasible... nationwide. THAT will provide an enormous amount of power to meet our needs... like ants, each contributing a smidge, but collectively moving mountains. Vastly reducing our need for major power plants.

    Ditto implementing goethermal and atmospheric heat exchangers at every residence and business and government facility it is possible. Vastly reducing our use of heating oil.

    Ditto spending the $10's billion needed to actually implement clean-coal technology... both sequester (where practical) and quicklime/limestone generation where practical. Nothing like the powerplant outputting water vapor and limestone for construction/export.

    I take issue with the DESPICABLE ad campaign from Al Gore decrying clean coal. Yes, it's funny, and true in so much as NOONE has actually SPENT THE MONEY to implement any of the technologies. So yeah, it aint happnin yet.... so instead of being dicks about it, MAKE IT HAPPEN.

    Bitch at the coal industry about, and accomplish nothing, then bitch that nothing was accomplished...


    Get to work in Congress to pass the laws and incentives and overides required to MAKE IT HAPPEN.

    The hard work is not having "the vision" it is in MAKING IT A REALITY.

    Millions of homes producing the energy they need by solar/wind plus some extra, vastly reducing CO2 producing energy needs.

    Millions of homes/businesses/govt offices heated/cooled by geothermal and atmospheric heat exchangers, vastly lowering our use of heating oil and electricity for our comfort.

    And finally millions converting to plugin electric vehicles (hybrid or not)... which can otherwise be almost identical to what we are driving RIGHT NOW... not some weird futuristic "smart car" useless bullshit-mobiles. Again, vastly reducing our CO2 output and our foreign oil usage.

    When are the grownups going to take charge of the plans for a realistic shift in energy systems? And then pass the laws, incentives, and overides required to actually make it happen.

    •  Enough with this ... (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mikolo, RiaD, offgrid, BobTrips, NRG Guy

      there is reasonable and unreasonable in your commentary.  What materials science / etc background are you bringing to your commentary? The work re HVDC is on the order of a 5-7% line transmission loss for long distances, plus the power cost for conversion.  This is not 'free', but potentially not onerous (better than, for example, the efficiency of hydro storage).  Want to call BS, back it up.

      We currently have a 'national grid' with tremendous bottlenecks, based on AC rather than DC. AC has much higher transmission costs / losses.

      Absolute support distributed power generation (and storage), with a smart(er) grid for power management.


      And, well, I find your comments about the "Reality" ads to be ridiculous.  Gore is stating (a) don't try to confuse people into thinking that this technology exists and that coal is clean today and (b) put your money where your mouth is, or shut up.


      Well, as to when adults are going to be in charge of energy policy, we seem to that that occurs after noon, 20 January.


      •  I don't intend to defend the rape of Mountain (0+ / 0-)

        Top removal or any such thing. Coal mining need to be deregulated to the hilt to prevent environmental depredation and drastically ungraded mine safety.  
        Mining executives should be held personally accountable without a corporate shield.

        But the basic chemical reactions for carbon sequestration evidently work, and work anywhere, so we should also get to removing carbon from the atmosphere via biochar AND Carbon sequestration, which despite my beloved president Al's ad, Is feasible. (and Al Gore is one of my favorite people, he is not wrong about global warming or our responsibility to do something about it, he is just wrong about carbon sequestration technology.)

        I don't think we can take coal off the table for 10 years, but I think we could start using solar powered sodium hydroxide to sodium carbonate and carbon filters on deep mined coal.  

        BTW from what I personally know as a material scientist is that desalination and cooling with sea water are long term materials nightmares, uh challanges.
        After about 5 years, expect lots of SSC, fouling and maintenance. That's why navy ships are under constant overhaul.

        The product of cooling with sea water that I am familiar with is hot, heavy brine, a waste stream that will have to be constantly dealt with, as well as desalinated water.  I am sure the local populous will be happy with the water, if they get desalinated water, and not just the hot sea water brine. I think it is worth a try, but expect a lot of maintenance to maintain it out there in the desert.

  •  Why Not Use (0+ / 0-)

    Why not use a Liquid He encased copper wire run from the desert in CA past TX wind power farms to Maine to connect to wave power farms?

    Copper at low temperatures is super conducting (No loss in the wire).

    Just need He. He can be gotten from Nuclear Fusion reactor.

    Just need Nuclear Fusion reactor.

    •  Sorry, no.. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Copper is not superconducting at liquid helium temperatures.  It may be a better conductor, but it is not a superconductor.

      Keeping a thousand mile long powerline chilled to those temperatures would be a challenge.

  •  Conservation Of Energy Is Not Inherently Good (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bluehawk, A Siegel

    The only reasons to conserve energy today are that it is scarce and that it pollutes.  If we had a source of energy that was plentiful and clean, there would be no reason to conserve energy.  I, for one, don't want to conserve energy.  Conserving energy is not inherently good.  I want to develop a clean, plentiful supply of energy.

    I think these projects will provide some incremental energy, but it will be expensive, and while it might be sustainable, it will be expensive to expand.  I'm not sure the external costs we currently face will make up for the difference in cost of the projects described here.

    My personal dream is that the commercial-scale fusion reactor currently being built in Europe works and we can start building those in the US.  I wish we were getting the first one.

    •  I like Fusion myself (0+ / 0-)

      They just had a breakthough being able to steer the plasma away from the walls with microwaves at MIT's Alcator C-Mod, a Fus of simular design the French sited Multinational.
      Handy to be able to run the thing without melting down the wall.

      Also there is the LIFE Fusion/fission concept at Livermore will use neutrons from a fusion reaction to completely react a blanket of fissionables on a once through basis.

      Wall materials for that one are going to be interesting.

      •  There really is no need for fusion (0+ / 0-)

        when advanced fission can fit the bill handily, using technology that has already been tested and verified.  Molten salt thorium reactors, for example: test reactor run for 4 years continuously in the late 1960s!!!  Fast-spectrum reactors have been likewise prototyped and tested.  The Integral Fast Reactor was ready to go to pilot-plant when Clinton killed it for reasons yet to make any sense to me.  There are technological options that are KNOWN and WORK that will make fission sustainable for THOUSANDS of years, without the long-lived waste issues!  

        To me, talking about fusion is much like talking about hydrogen cars: it makes it look like you're doing something when it isn't workable and ultimately serves to stall REAL options from being implemented, like the electric (BEV, PHEV) car.  Talking about fusion as our eventual energy solution ultimately distracts from the real options of next-generation fission that we can do RIGHT NOW.

        The intrinsic nature of Power is such that those who seek it most are least qualified to wield it.

        by mojo workin on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 07:10:27 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  This solar array (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    peace voter, A Siegel, 1Eco

    requires a parabolic mirror array heliostat.  I am the one to build it.

  •  A Siegel. Could a diary be posted on AC vs DC vs (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Siegel

    transmission losses? Distance of transmission vs heat losses. I've read stuff about losses. It seems there is stuff out there. Can you or your friends condense it for me?  What is the better transmission method? Convert DC to AC and then trasmit? Transmit DC then convert to AC? What is the upside?, the downside? The infrastructure costs?

    p.s. (has nothing to do with anything and everything)
    I stopped reading Scientific America when Douglas Hofstadter stop writing his article 'Metamagical Themas'.

    An Anagram for?

    "They pour syrup on shit and tell us it's hotcakes." Meteor Blades

    by JugOPunch on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 06:22:37 PM PST

  •  Great Diary (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Siegel

    Gives me hope. There are political and technological problems galore for every kind of energy extraction.  Some resources are a) better and some are b) worse than the others, at least for our moment.  Duh.  Right now we're enslaved to at least three from column b):  oil, coal, nuclear.  

    Life is good. Injustice? Not so much.

    by westyny on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 07:37:02 PM PST

  •  Thanks to (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Siegel

    a diarist who can explore the big picture. All of our other concerns simply do not matter, in the absence of energy to drive them.

    Loyally yours,


  •  Can someone explain the desalination part? (0+ / 0-)

    I'm not a chemist. Is the diarist/Al Gore saying desalination would be a part of this or optional? I've read that desalination is quite a energy consuming process so it seems like it'd be counterproductive unless it's a requirement.

    Also, can someone explain why the deserts are "valuable environmental space". I understood deserts to be a bad for vegetation or water because the water would evaporate much faster in a desert than on a prairie.

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