Archive by Author | isabellat0017

How Can We Switch??

There are many different forms of renewable energies, wind energy, solar energy, geothermal energy, hydro energy, and on, and on. But none of these options would work by themselves. Sure, we could try to run the entire country on solar electricity. But the areas where solar energy is produced in enormous amounts are only in the southwest, so there could be blackouts in Maine since Maine is far away from New Mexico. Renewable energies unlike fossil fuels are spread out across the country because of the United States diverse geographical features. The main reason why they can be used so successfully in pairs is because the different types of energy are so different. If we combine them right we could move toward 100% renewable energy usage

Hydroelectric is one of the most reliable forms of renewable energies. Unlike solar and wind it can produce electricity without having certain weather conditions. There are two types of machines that can produce hydroelectricity. One, is the more atypical building a dam along a river and letting the water go  through parts of a dam where paddles are positioned so the running water will turn them, generating electricity. There are problems with this approach, building a dam impacts the ecosystem of the river it is blocking drastically. One of the good things about this type of energy though is that it is dependable and the dam methord is well know and tested for most problems. The second option is called tidal power. You place wind turbine like propellers either deep under the ocean or close to the shore to use the tide and ocean currents to spin the propellors and generate electricity. A good thing about utilizing tidal technology is that is it reliable, and if the ocean currents stop we have much bigger problems to worry about. The best places to position these tidal turbines is around the coasts of Alaska and Maine.

Only 1% of all the electricity in the US is produced using solar power, because it is the most costly of all the renewable energies. Solar power works like this; sunlight strikes a solar cells, and because that cell is made out of crystal the cell’s electrons begin to more up and down, generating electricity. But to make this process work you need specific types of crystals to make these solar cells. And to grow those crystals is expensive, even with how expensive they are there are still good things. One of those good items about solar energy is that where the highest amounts of concentration of solar power is in the New Mexico area. Also, solar arrays will produce much more electricity in the sommer that any other type of renewable energy, but wont produce as much during the winter because of the shorter amount of daylight. But since solar cells are so expensive manufacture, it is not one of the most popular options when it comes to switching to renewable energy.

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Smart Grids, a Window into the Future??

The word smart makes you think of computers, phones, TV and homes. But a smart grid? Smart grids control energy usage a smart grid is a computerized grid that is managed by computers instead of people. These computers will have access to every valve and every monitor that is connected to the grid. When it realizes that part of the grid is not being used it can turn it off, saving huge amounts of energy. Not just that but it can be used to completely switch our energy sources to renewable instead of coal and oil. Since renewable sources are spread out across the country we will always have energy. If the sun is not shining in Tallahassee then we can harness the waves off the coast of Tampa and trasport some of the energy to Tallahassee using a smart grid. The grid would realize that the sun is not shining in Tallahassee and would search for another source of energy to hook the Tallahassee electric lines to. That is why smart grids are so efective.

One of the big debates over this issue is that if  United States implements smart grids  “Will they actually save energy?” In August of 2012 the state of Vermont implicated their own state-wide smart grid, so far it has yielded results, the predictions are that over the period of a year Vermont’s emissions will be reduced by fifteen percent! This is without incorporating new levels of renewable energy. The power could be in our grasp to create energy independence, and reduce our countries emissions by sixty percent

Smart grids are complex systems, most of the time complex systems can be good, but the more complicated you make a system the more openings a hacker could have. Since the system would be completely operated by computers, the system could entirely be shut down if a virus gets into the main system. Several other ideas have been floated around, ways to stop this nightmare scenario from happening; one of the ideas is to localize the grids by regions. Like the Pacific Northwest would have their own grid, and the southern are around Georgia would get their own grid as well. Switching like this is hard and risky, but it is also risky if we keep the system the way it is, falling apart piece by piece, the trick is to take the right risks to insure safety to all the people who live here.

One other big problem is money, for the individual project in Vermont it took sixty-nine million dollars to accomplish just switching over the technologies, from a basic system to a computerized one. The money was just for one state and a relatively small one at that.  For a state the size of Texas it would take around one thousand nine hundred twenty seven millions of dollars. Right now we are recovering from a recession and don’t have the money to completely change over the grid but we should start in small increments using a combination of federal and state stimulus. In a few years we could start to work our way towards having zero carbon emissions.

Presidential Energy Policies, The Way to Talk About Global Warming Without Talking About It.

There are five days left until the Presidential election. Five days until the people get to decide whom their leader will be. People have decided upon a candidate, because the candidates they picked spoke to their view on the issues. Among the many issues that people care about like jobs, the economy, and Medicare global warming has not been mentioned at all in the campaign and neither of the candidates have taken a solid stance on it either. Is it true? When the Presidential Candidates talk about energy they are indirectly talking about global warming.

Skeptical Science has published a post that outlines the two Presidential candidates’ energy plans. President Obama’s energy plan basically states that he wants to increase wind and solar energy production, and oil and coal energy production.

“President Obama has also encouraged renewable energy implementation and a clean energy standard, created programs to encourage alternative energy research and development, and called for an end to tax breaks for the oil and gas industry.”

On the other hand, while Romney’s plan mentions renewable energy, he only mentions it as an after-thought. He only mentions ONE bankrupt wind-company, even though most jobs in the renewable energy sector have flourished. Romney also wants to approve the Keystone pipeline. The pipeline runs oil from the Tar Sands in Canada to the US and will drastically impact the overall climate. Since oil that comes from Tar Sands is incredibly dirty and when burned emits more CO2 than normal oil, this initiative is an incredibly bad idea. Not according to Romney because apparently he thinks the Keystone pipeline is an excellent idea.

“Building the Keystone pipeline to exploit an unconventional source of fossil fuels is a step in the wrong direction”

Also Romney’s energy plan thinks that burning coal is good too, even though it is the worst fossil fuel for the environment.

“The United States is blessed with a cornucopia of carbon-based energy resources. Developing them has been a pathway to prosperity for the nation in the past and offers similar promise for the future.”

Unfortunately both Obama and Romney promise to increase oil and coal production. At the beginning of Obama’s term coal and oil started off at a all time low but have increased since then.

      As this graph shows if President Obama decides to double oil production as he promised then we will be emitting more CO2 then ever on record.

President Obama is not the only candidate who promises to increase oil production. Romney does also. The details of his plan are quite a bit more sketch then Obama’s but as much as he has made clear is he that plans to give the oil, and coal companies more subsidies and lower the subsidies that are given to solar and wind.

Even though oil and coal production has increased since Obama’s term began so has solar and wind.

In my opinion we need more solar and wind energy and less coal and oil. Even though both President Obama and Candidate Romney have decided to double oil and coal I think we need more renewables and less crude oil. But before Election Day you will have to decide for yourself.

Wind Tax Credit: The Perfect Storm

The wind power industry is laying off workers. Over 1,292 workers have been laid off in the primary wind manufacturing companies. The reason? The tax break the industry received decades ago is coming to an end. December 31, the wind companies will have to pay their full amount of income tax. Interestingly in a few swing states—Iowa, Colorado and Ohio for example—the wind industry play a significant part in their overall economy.  In Iowa the wind company supplies 3,200 manufacturing jobs, Ohio has 50 manufacturing companies already, and in Colorado it supplies 3,000 jobs. The impacts on the economy will be as drastic as the impact of the failing car companies.

What do the Presidential candidates have to say about the wind tax credit? As expected, both candidates have stuck to their parties on this one. What about the Republicans? Since the tax credit costs  $3.3 billion dollars, it will be too costly during an election year. Talking from the left, Obama says, “Without these wind energy tax credits, a whole lot of these jobs would be at risk.” Because 81% of wind power in the USA is generated in congressional districts currently held by Republicans, Romney’s conservative position puts them in a bind.

For the Republicans, the wind tax credit cant be weathered. It is a yes or no issue, but the facts are obvious. The more sustainable energy we have the less CO2 we emit. If the wind companies go out of business, then we will be forced to process more oil; if we process more oil, we will have more emissions. To bring up global warming and say out right “Global warming is happening and changes need to be made NOW” is political suicide. But maybe a person who will put that speech forward is what we need. We need a martyr to show us the way to reverse the destructive path we are on.

America: The Coal Hog

When I listen to the news and hear politicians promising that we will use more clean coal, I stop and think one thing: coal is not clean. All the people who make promises about clean coal are distorting the truth.

We are the Saudi Arabia of coal. 50% of our energy comes from coal. But the media forgets to mention that in 2010 power plants produced 2, 324 million metric tons of CO2. If these facts are true, why are they not being mentioned? Why do people cover up these facts about coal, just like other people cover up the truth about global warming?

One of the main reasons that people do not believe that climate scientists agree is incredibly simple: certain people do not want the true facts to be known.  The big coal companies like Peabody Energy don’t want people to know the truth about coal, because it would mean less business for them. In 2008 35 million dollars were spent to advertise “clean coal” These big companies that advertise clean coal are the exact ones that benefit from these misconceptions.

The façade of “clean coal” is similar to the wall of misinformation around global warming. Movies like the Great Global Warming Swindle helped create the misconception that most climate scientists agree that global warming does not exist.

Our country is a media-driven machine. There was this incredibly interesting quote from the Big Swindle Movie that is especial relevant. “On the Internet (or the media) nobody knows you’re a fraud”.  If an important person puts a false statement in the media, most people who support the person assumes its true.  If the media tried to check the facts before they presented them, not so many outrageous claims would become stated fact.