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RE: [hreg] European energy snobs vs. ugly Americans

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  • Tyra Rankin
    The Green and Gold solar cubes were really cool looking. Looks like combined PV and concentrated solar thermal. Will check out the Greg Watson cubes. Tyra
    Message 1 of 22 , Jun 8, 2009

      The Green and Gold solar cubes were really cool looking.  Looks like combined PV and concentrated solar thermal.  Will check out the Greg Watson cubes. 



      From: hreg@yahoogroups.com [mailto: hreg@yahoogroups.com ] On Behalf Of Ed Sarlls
      Sent: Monday, June 08, 2009 8:11 PM
      To: hreg@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: Re: [hreg] European energy snobs vs. ugly Americans


      Have you seen Greg Watson's Solar cubes? If so you have seen Boeing Spectralab solar cells. They are actually inside so they may be difficult to see.




      ----- Original Message -----

      Sent: Monday, June 08, 2009 12:57 AM

      Subject: Re: [hreg] European energy snobs vs. ugly Americans



      Interesting historical perspective, Tyra, not many people remember the pioneering work done on heliostat tracking and the Power Tower technology developed at the U of H.


      I'm not sure having aerospace companies build the heliostats was the best path toward economical power production, however.


      With regard to Boeing's solar cell development, to date I believe almost all of it has been focused on satellite applications, I've never seen their stuff on the ground. The bad pun was unintentional.




      ----- Original Message -----

      Sent: Sunday, June 07, 2009 1:48 PM

      Subject: RE: [hreg] European energy snobs vs. ugly Americans



      To the points in your other message – interesting that Pentex is part of DOE – it would seem better placed with DOD.  I had a friend who worked there after college de-programming nukes.

      To DOE and performance of their mission – the US quickly lost sight of its goal to reduce de penden ce on foreign oil after the 1970s oil crisis, as soon as prices went down and OPEC stopped the heist.  That would have been when DOE was chartered.  There were many, many efforts started then that did not carry forward.  Subsequent administrations who took down the solar panels on the White House also took away the federal funding for DOE’s mission.  A great example impacted Houston .  In the 80s two physics professors at UH, Lorin Vant-Hull and his colleague were commissioned by DOE to design the first solar receiver tower installation in the US – Solar One and Two in Barstow California .  They built the project, with engineering assistance from Rocketdyne and McDonald Douglas.  Subsequent administrations stopped the federal funding and those projects never went any farther.    Spain is building similar plant designs and powering the entire city of Seville with updated versions – but in the US , we stopped.  Some have called the remains of the Solar One/Two demos scrap heaps.  With inconsistent funding and leadership from Washington , it is no wonder that DOE has not made more progress.   We have wasted resources and time.

      You gave figures for annual DOE budgets.  I wonder if those are the amounts DOE requested or the amount actually authorized by Congress for DOE to spend. 

      With respect to OPEC – I have heard that the TRRC structure was used – that must be true – but I don’t recall the story – were there Texan oil people involved in setting it up?

      It is true that US military is doing a lot of research on alternatives – solar among them.  In ACORE presentations, they said they are motivated to protect the vulnerability of fuel supply lines.  Having on-site generation is a great value.  I know a lot of people in alternative energy have come from the military as does much new tech.

      The Boeing article you provided is really interesting.  I had no idea they are doing solar cells – it is exciting and the biofuels is fascinating too.  Airlines and their fuel requirements are unique.  They also take a more long term approach to innovation.  I recall that their design cycles are about 10 years.  That will be helpful when working with renewables.


      From: hreg@yahoogroups. com [mailto: hreg@yahoogroups. com ] On Behalf Of Ed Sarlls
      Sent: Saturday, June 06, 2009 10:24 PM
      To: hreg@yahoogroups. com
      Subject: Re: [hreg] European energy snobs vs. ugly Americans


      I agree that energy isn't really a free market.

      OPEC learned from the Texas Rail Road Commission. They controlled oil production in Texas for a long time. There is also a lot of domestic oil still in the ground between existing oil wells - thanks to TRRC  rules. 

      I have heard that a lot of OPEC money goes to environmental organizations over here because they oppose so many energy policies here and that helps OPEC. I do not mean that the environmental groups are working with OPEC so don't throw stones on that. There are a lot of ways to move money so  that the source isn't visible to the recepient. Maybe this is just some wild tale that circulates - I don't know. It effectively helps OPEC if we don't develope solar and wind. According to Wikipedia, OPEC still produces about 33 % of the world oil supply.

      With regard to energy misinformation: Money speaks and the existing big energy interests have the most money to spend so it is easy to see that they can have a significant impact on information available to the public. This group is much more knowledgable on energy issues than the general public and a lot of members of state and national legislatures. ............ ......... ......... . Sometime it only takes one person to block a bill. I'm not saying that that has happened but the potential is there.

      I'm sure that DOE does excelent research but it takes massive amounts of money to compete with existing energy companies. So research alone won't make the difference. There is a ray of hope however - and it may come from an unexpected source - world airlines and the US military. The reason is because the military can't be limited by the availability of fuel and the airlines get tremendously stressed by the price of fuel. The DOE research may be behind some of the studies. The distribution system is much smaller for the military and airlines than for public and private transportation so it will be easier to introduce an alternate fuel in that market. Here is one reference; http://www.boeing. com/aboutus/ environment/ environmental_ report_09/ alternative- energy-solutions .html The promising feature is the emphasis on carbon reduction and sustainable nonfood sources. The potential carbon tax is important to the airlines.

      If the production system is developed by the government or by large airlines then the production can be expanded and used in private transportation. There isn't much difference in jet fuel and diesel.

      The other way that I see for alternate energy sources to become mainstream is through small private or coop systems. That is where significant tax breaks can make a difference. I would rather just have a tax reduction and pay for it myself but I don't expect any tax reductions in the near future.


      ----- Original Message -----

      Sent: Saturday, June 06, 2009 7:42 PM

      Subject: RE: [hreg] European energy snobs vs. ugly Americans


      I’m not picking on you and I’m glad you made the argument – it is definitely the predominant Texas argument, shared even by groups like TREIA, who when they propose “non-wind” to the Texas legislature are saying “we do not want to pick technology winners, we want to let the market decide.”  Their idea is to make small policy corrections in hopes that market forces, like nature will do the rest.  We are a “free market” society and we believe that there is wisdom in the market, that we can “do it ourselves.”  In Germany , with the help of policy, however, they have been doing it themselves for the last 15 years – in the same time Texas has implemented basically zero solar.

      In Houston, former Shell Oil President, John Hofmeister speaks often and always says “for energy there is no free-market.”  Oil, he points out has an absolute monopoly on the global transportation sector – planes, trains, autos.  Oil pricing is regulated by a cartel, OPEC.  Gas producing states are creating a similar cartel to OPEC.  John now heads Citizen’s for Affordable Energy and his message is that the greatest hurdle to adoption of alternative energy is public misinformation.

      For your comment about DOE – the question is who will fund R&D?  There was a time in the US when groups like Bell Labs did the heavy lifting of getting technology from basic science to the applied stage.  We no longer have such groups and companies either have to do the applied research in-house or interface with institutions like Universities.  I have worked in the new tech interface for over 25 years.  It is a huge challenge to get innovation to the market.  Especially when there are gigantic market disadvantages!    

      Efficiency is definitely an issue for any group/agency/ corporation – how well the dollar is spent and how much value received.  DOE has tons of internal studies on just that.  Similar studies are done of policies.   Economists measure the cost of a policy and its benefit.  The oil and gas reservoir tax credit for example has been studied and found that for the tax money spent, there is basically zero benefit in reservoir protection and management.

      For any innovation or exploration there are production failures.  I come from a family of petroleum engineers.  I can tell you there are many dry holes drilled – that is a cost of the industry.  Innovation is the same way.  Sometimes innovation dollars don’t pan out, or don’t do it in the time frame. 

      So thanks for the opportunity to have this discussion.  Charlie’s point is so true as well – many costs of energy are not borne by its price – including the police cost (and lives lost.)  Pollution costs, health costs, carbon costs are others.   The questions are how do we do this?  How do we get what we want; what choices do we make; how do we make it work?


      From: hreg@yahoogroups. com [mailto: hreg@yahoogroups. com ] On Behalf Of Ed Sarlls
      Sent: Friday, June 05, 2009 9:55 PM
      To: hreg@yahoogroups. com
      Subject: Re: [hreg] European energy snobs vs. ugly Americans


      Maybe this explains some of the differences between Europe and the US :

      If we want alternate energy sources we will have to do it ourselves and not depend on government subsidies and programs.


      I just received this from another group - I haven't checked the numbers:

      Let it sink in.
      Quietly we go like sheep to slaughter.
      Does anybody out there have any memory of the reason given  for the establishment of the DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY ..... during the Carter Administration?  

      Bottom line .. we've spent several hundred billion  dollars in support of an agency ... the reason for which not one person who reads this can remember.
      It was very simple ... and at the time everybody thought it very appropriate. ..
      The 'Department of Energy' was instituted on 8- 04-1977 

      Hey, pretty efficient, huh?????


      Ah, yes, good ole bureaucracy. .

      And NOW we are going to turn the Banking System, health care & the Auto Industry over to them?  
      God Help Us !!!

      ----- Original Message -----

      Sent: Friday, June 05, 2009 9:51 AM

      Subject: [hreg] European energy snobs vs. ugly Americans


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