+Daniel Ely Rankin
, thank you very much for sharing that talk as it is far easier to comprehend the passion of the Keystone Pipeline protest with this added context (not that I ever supported that completely insane project).
In response to this talk, I'd like to suggest that those interested in the energy situation listen to the entirety of Chris Martenson's talk last year about the IEA's energy forecast and its implications- particularly the non-linear effects of declining ore quality on energy demand. What many people who suggest wind and solar as alternatives fail to grasp is the difficulty for these renewable sources to provide the quantity of energy we really need, and that isn't just to maintain what many consider a gratuitous lifestyle- but actually merely survival in the 21st century.Chris Martenson's presentation at the Gold & Silver Meeting in Madrid
Full electric vehicles currently require a copious quantity of lithium. At current unofficial estimates of world reserves, lithium could theoretically provide maybe 40 million Nissan Leaf-type vehicles using half of those reserves. Even though over 250 billion tonnes reside in the world's oceans, tapping that resource is quite expensive, and batteries are already almost cost prohibitive (but the technology is steadily improving in energy density). The technology needs to radically improve before it will be widely viable in this form. People who have been paying attention to world events might have noticed that one of the primary interests in Afghanistan relates to their sources of lithium in brine deposits. So, the demand for using lithium for electrical storage is shaping international affairs.
Better to support fuel cell vehicles which require a far smaller battery.
Now, one of the best renewable energy sources that I've seen is concentrated solar power. eSolar thinks that they can achieve over a 70% capacity factor. They estimate that they can produce one GWe with about 8 square miles of coverage
. That would put a terawatt of production at 8000 square miles- not an insignificant environmental impact. I do not know how much that is going to cost with dry cooling (required due to facility preference for arid regions with predominately clear weather). If these facilities are going to generate electricity, the cost of transmission 2000 miles to the East cost is a huge undertaking. It might be better to envision such a system synthesizing a hydrogen energy carrier like ammonia (hydrogen is very inefficient to transport). It may turn out to be practical, but it is certainly neither ideal, nor as well as what is technically possible.
Here's eSolar's DoE proposal: http://www1.eere.energy.gov/solar/pdfs/csp_pr2011_esolar.pdf
Which brings me to nuclear fission. Anyone familiar with Daniel's posts knows that LFTR is very likely to be viable, and is far preferable to all of the alternatives. That is why we're advocating for joining of the Thorium Race, an international competition to address the energy crisis and preserve civilization. We're going to need all of that cheap and abundant energy for cleaning up this atrocious mess!
Of course, we still need to develop a Bridge Plan
that will take us from where we are to where we need to be.