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Mildly inspired from some of the comments on my last post, here's another one which sheds a little light on the possible snarkiness things like solar panels (which produce a lot of electricity) and wind turbines (which also produce a lot of electricity) create in some people.
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93 comments
 
Exactly the same thing in every industry right now, simply because they would struggle to make as much moolah.
Don S
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So true but don't forget that the commodity itself isn't what these companies care about. Big oil isn't about oil, it's about an energy source they can sell be it oil or bananas. Solar, well that's a bit trickier but they'll figure it out eventually.
 
I initially misread the 7th panel as "We own the Earth." Arguably, it wasn't that far off either.
 
+Peter B I think you miss the point that UNTIL they have the ability to transfer their capacity of ownership to a new technology, most of those already invested in existing forms have a huge inertia.

They perceive a loss of power and control (no pun intended) and a loss of wealth and privilege.

It's not hard to find examples of large corporations, acting out of self-interest, corporate inertia and control and exploitation of existing technologies who resist change. This is a historical and persistent issue...and no, I'm not talking about 'conspiracy' theories.
 
They can't afford to buy the Sun, yet. ;-)
 
Solar energy being clean is a lie at the moment. To make solar cells more toxic chemicals are released than even coal. Plus the size of the area and the amount of cells to even be equivalent to other energy sources is ridiculous. Nuclear is the cleanest and most efficient way at the moment. By the way the comic should say for the solar part we own the silicon... XD
Don S
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ok, I'm outta here before it gets redundant. We simply can't continue on with the status quo, that much I'm absolutely certain of.
 
+Nathan Buth I wouldn't doubt that ALL forms of manufacturing produce something we'd call waste.

To compare solar cell size with the size of other forms of power generation is useful, but misses one point: I don't NEED or want a nuclear power station or petrol/gas/coal-powered generator in my backgarden. I CAN install solar panels. I can even install a small wind generator - note SMALL.

The argument is not "We can generate power AND make the units of production smaller than gas/coal-fired whatevers".

This is a distortion of the 'we can make renewable power which eventually will be less wasteful and better for the environment'

I don't care if a solar farm takes two square kilometers. We have that in Australia...in buckets! We also have loads of coal, gas and uranium. Australia can look after itself.

Before anyone else says "But what about the Norwegians, Swedes etc" :)) Well, they also import power from what I understand. Where the hell are the Dutch to bury their nuclear waste? WE don't want it back...but we can sell them the uranium.

I'm not totally anti-nuclear power. I'm undecided - I used to be pro- then anti- (to a degree) and over the years (particularly in the light of GW) have been revisiting my opposition. I guess I change my mind as varying situations and facts present themselves.

Anyway, long post. The cartoon is a joke and not mean to answer everything in relation to the issues...unlike my dissertation on "Why I'm right and you are wrong"

;))

<joke>
 
+Nathan Buth Silicon is the 2nd most abundant element on the Earth's crust. Saying 'we own the silicon' is like saying 'we own the air' ... it wouldn't make sense.
 
@Nathan Buth, so who needs solar cells:
wind power alone could supply all our needs;
got some dirt on wind mills?
 
In regards to nuclear I'm hearing good things about liquid thorium fueled reactors.

Also I read that is vegas and africa built some big solar plants directing sunlight to big oil containers (so power generators can run all night) we could power the world.
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Looks like deserts will continue to be popular with energy companies, they will be the best location for solar after all.
Don S
 
I read deserts as in sweets you might finish a meal with. I think that too is true. We are their soylent green.
 
That would be desserts (puddings) not deserts (dry landscapes).
 
Solar energy is an efficiant, and reusable power source. Plus, if the sun runs out, we'll have bigger problems.
 
That bloke is going to get away from his desk after work to find nails in all four of his tires. With a note that says: "I own a hammer."
 
It's worth noting that wind turbines are currently 60% subsidised, and have 75% fossil fuel backup generation. They're not clean and they're not cost effective.
 
i like it,,,,,,,,,.......................
 
Here are my thoughts about Nuclear as an energy source. They knew that the waste product would be hard to disposer of, they knew that the reactors only have an active use of around 20 years but still went ahead and built them. They discovered that even with the best efforts things go wrong, they discovered there are many alternatives but still go ahead and build new reactors and claim this was is better than before. So it will continue for reasons beyond my comprehension.
It has been a very dissapointing week in Japan, the continuous bombardment of the word 'stress test' has finally brainwashed enough people to forget what happened a year ago and now projects to build new reactors have started again. Even though there is a larger 4 mile wide part of the coastline which could have all sort of renewable energy projects started up.
Alternative power and decentralised power is the best future we have but it will not come until more die and public opinion affects the people in power. Sadly we need another disaster and in reality they do not happen so often.
 
+Mike Rees No pics, didn't happen :)

In other words - sources, sources please. Also are you talking about countries?

I'll give you an example. My brother in law is a professor of economics in the US. The other day he pointed out to me that US oil companies get subsidies for exploration. It's a tax deduction (read: Welfare) which was introduced decades ago.

They still claim their deductions despite their massive profits:

http://money.cnn.com/2011/04/26/news/economy/oil_tax_breaks_obama/index.htm

So when you mention subsidies you really need to look at the larger picture involving other industries.

Here's another example. When I was in high school (many moons ago) I went to a cable company (wire cables, not television :)) which had recently built a factory in the local area.

This was an economics excursion from which I learnt the following, from the company person explaining everything to us:

1. They had told the government that they WOULDN'T build near where people lived unless the government gave them land at a cheaper price - class act!

Otherwise the government would have had to assist in developing the infrastructure for people to get to work. If people didn't travel that far, they could all claim the "They don't want any darn jobs, those slackers" - see how this works?

2. The telephone areas had to be changed to make it cheaper for them to call Sydney. The Federal government moved the 'area' 20 feet so the company could build their exchange at one end of the factory - an extension from the main building - to get the cheaper calls. Welfare, as the American's call it. Or socialism. I can't remember which way they swing on that one.

In short, there are massive subsidies (welfare, in other words) to various companies, paid for with my taxes, so they can claim massive profits.

Subsidies exist in many forms and in many industries. We all have to check which are reasonable and which aren't.
 
What energy companies fear is the democratization of energy: Me buying a solar cell and using it to charge, say, my car. Think about how that cuts them out. Once you realize this their actions become more transparent.
Jim A
 
Stupid is as stupid writes.
 
The containment of uranium is no problem and there is research rightnow going into REUSING the old stuff. I live in Arizona and my dad works at the largest nuclear plant in the country (Palo Verde) It takes up about 4,000 acres of land but provides power to over 4 million people in AZ and in the states around it. I am not against solar. We have solar panels on our roof and they are great. But until further research goes into making them more efficient and less costly I can only see them viable as small sources of energy like what we use ours for. Even though half our roof is covered and it gets contact with the sun for almost an entire day every day it still isn't enough to power our house. It definitely cuts down the electricity bill a bit though. Curious, have any of you guys seen the stuff about the solar tower they are wanting to build in California? :D It looks awesome.
 
That's like my need for Night Buses. London is fantastic because no matter what time you finish drinking you can still get home. I was stuck in Osaka City on Friday Night (02.00) and have a choice of taxi or hotel. It was not a familiar area so I could not find the cheap flop houses so took the taxi (50 pounds). If there was a night bus service then taxi, hotels, flop houses, all night karaoke etc would loose income. We suffer on many levels because of protection of earnings. Much like media companies failing to provide online streaming.
Though these examples are not directly linked to the subject above they are part of the same problem. Our lives are dictated by profit margins and future profit margins. If we can get past this type of modern economics the improvements on many aspects of life will be immense. We are in the dark ages of capitalism so lets hope it will not be 500 years before a renaissance.
 
I think micro-hydro is being overlooked. Wind and sun are great, but water actually makes a lot of sense in terms of facilitating a relatively easy transition to sustainable energy. We already have hundreds if not thousands of defunct water mills rotting away out there. Rig them to generate power and decentralize the grid a little bit by having river communities power themselves.
 
+Sheila Nagig I agree fully, tidal power has been proven to be amazing just hard to do since only a certain few places are any good for it. But if we approached it the way you stated it could be amazing. :D
 
Nobody's stopping you from putting all your money in solar energy companies. Oh wait they are all going out of business because it is in fact not feasible even when they get 1/2 a billion dollars of US tax pay money. I guess that is stopping you....the risk of losing all of your own assets.
 
@Mike Rees
. it may be true that wind turbines are currently
60% subsidised, and have 75% fossil fuel backup generation;
but that's not wind's problem:
instead of subsidising green energy
we could sin-tax fossil fuels
to make them pay for all the cancer they cause;
and then we could use ethanol or other biofuels
for a less toxic backup generation .
. therefore, clean and price-competitive .
 
+Nathan Buth I think that's the point I was trying to make. :)

We may need to look at, in fact probably should be looking at, having multiple forms of generation and sites of generation, such as our own roofs, local areas etc, as well as the larger generators of power.

One advantage of having multiple, diversely located power sources it that you would end up with a true network of power generation and thus less interruption when there are natural disasters, accidental power line damage and zombie plagues.
Some forms of power generation
 
+Philip Torrance why do you think you have the right to modify people's behavior with tax policy? The basic economic reality is that if we used alternative fuel for everything then prices would rise and there would be mass inflation and economic activity would slow, people would be out of work, etc, etc. People don't have the economic training to understand what they suggest would colaps the economy.
 
+Nathan Buth, there are already people doing it. Bhutan produces a lot of electricity for sale to India. Vietnam is doing it for domestic energy production and Germany, England and the Netherlands are powering villages with it. It's pretty easy once you check into it. An archimedes screw is what they've been using lately, rather than a wheel.

The only thing you really need is a good run, and a lot of the old mills have that. It wouldn't be too far of a stretch to imagine them being given a new life powering a town. It would probably reduce energy bills too. The municipality could charge for it to recoup their investment, but after that it could be very cheap at the consumer end.
 
+Nathan Buth Re: Oklo Reactor.

Okay, to be fair, I checked to find academic sources first before I believed it...:)

What an amazing event! Everyone should have a read of the post. Fascinating!

http://oklo.curtin.edu.au/

BTW. Curtin Uni is a legit Australian Uni, not some hokus pocus 'buy a PhD' place.
 
+Patrick Elliott-Brennan I didn't believe it myself completely when my dad told me about it. It is quite crazy to see that something we have only been doing for the last 60 years or so has been done by nature for millions of years already. XD Sorry my link wan't an academic source. I couldn't find the one I was trying to fast enough. XD Thanks for posting one though.
 
+Rory Triscuit but what is the cost? My understanding is that wind generation is a 20 year payback without subsidies. Most businesses would never invest in a 20 year pay back project. Most are looking for 3-5 years at most. Without the government taking tax money from one area and giving to another, I don't think wind power would not exist. I could be wrong...
 
This is really a discussion about what kind of world we want to live in, not some technical limitations. 1 square KM of light is 1 gigawatt / hour of power.
 
I love this about Google+. We aren't really debating on what is best we are just discussing energy. If some of my comments seem more argumentative please let me know and I will try to tone it down. I am truly interested in all forms of energy and agree that we do need to clean it up a bit. So like I said if I seem rude or like I am trying to debate just let me know, all too often I turn that route without meaning to. XD By the way, +Rory Triscuit I know for sure that one of my earlier comments towards you was one of these kinda rude ones I am talking about so I am sorry and I hope you can forgive me. :)
 
I focus more on what is feasible. We have to look at long and short term and until this type of technology can sustain itself in a market based economy, I don't think it has much of a place. To take money from someone in say Wyoming, to subsidise clean power generation for someone on the east coast, in my opinion is not fair. If people want this type of power, then let them buy it and pay the market price for it. I am sure there is a demand for it and some people would pay the price. I just cannot support confiscation/taxation of wealth from one person to another. If some day this technology could generate 100% of our power at a market rate that can sustain economic growth, then I am all for that. It is not that I want to burn fossil fuels, we just have to consider the economic reality. It may create jobs, but if we used those funds in a more optimal manner, how many jobs could have been created, because this distorts markets I can only assume the private market could have allocated the resources better. It is Economics 101. I know it is not pretty or accepted by people that support this type of stuff, but it is just the reality of the world we live in right now.
 
+William Mrozinski They're good points, William. Historically most if not all of these large ventures are supported by tax benefits and dispensations being given out by Governments.
 
+Nick Bauman True. It's part ethics, part economics, part environmental, part "I reckong <burb> that <fart> s/he's a...<fall asleep> ;)"
 
What is the cost of nuclear? It takes ten years just to construct a plant (best case is Japan at 4 years), and how many years to pay back the $billions in loans required to complete it? How can a powerplant expect a 3 year payback when it hasn't even finished construction? Without huge government loan guarantees and tax subsidies, I don't think nuclear power would exist. The energy payback on a 3MW turbine is about 6.8 months, but the financial payback depends on local utility rates. SAIP (China) claims their 1.5MW turbine has a capital payback time of 3-5 years at a cost of a little over $1 a Watt. Sounds like your perfect investment +William Mrozinski
 
+Rory Triscuit Thanks :) I think as far as nuclear goes you really only need a few good sized ones across a country the size of the united states. If you keep them away from areas where they are likely to be affected by the elements (shore lines, fault lines, places that get a lot of hurricanes and tornadoes, and all of that fun stuf) then you could power a good portion of the country relatively cleanly. Do everything else with hydro where it can work and wind or solar where it can't Also natural gas and biothermal could be good. Do it this way and we can cut back on pollution for the most part and still provide reliable energy. Oh when solar is used it should either be just on houses or if as a major power generating facility it should be a solar tower. They are more expensive but so much more efficient. It would be great though if we could pull away from coal though.
 
+Victor Wren I agree and disagree. Wind energy is definitely more affordable per unit but the amount of energy that a wind field generates does not compare (yet, hopefully this changes in the future.) with even a single reactor nuclear power plant. It is definitely more affordable though for smaller areas.
 
I am curious. Does anybody know if any cities have all of their buildings topped by solar panels or wind turbines? It seems like it would be a good idea.
 
+Rory Triscuit As more research and development goes into solar panels their efficiency should rise and hopefully prices go down. It would be amazing if in places with larger plots of land they would have solar panels efficient enough to cover all of their energy at least during the day (on the roof not on the land) and then for at night utilize some other form of electricity. I said larger plot of land because the only other one I can really think of that would work well with this is wind which does take up a good amount of space.
 
William, I have had a fair amount of economic training. I would say that it is impossible to predict any outcome without trying. If it was possible to predict with any certainty they why did the economies around the world collapse so badly recently when advisor's were telling all sorts of people it would and were completely ignored. Either the people in charge are a complete bunch of idiots or there is two sides to any economic argument.
Economics is based on human behaviour and that in itself is unpredictable. So who knows if investment in alternative energy or making big dirty industry would be good or bad.
Moving on to wind farms and 20 year returns. What about Nuclear plant and only 20 years of life. How is building something that only lasts 20 years and then takes 100 hundred years or more to close down economically sound.

My view remains that Energy should be clean and reusable, Energy needs to be decentralised and Energy needs to be respected and not just wasted. Economic policy should take into account all these things when deciding where and when to spend money. If Nuclear energy can fit into this then keep using it. If it can't then move on and find something that can.
 
Wind energy is solar energy. Just sayin'
 
+Nick Bauman Haha true, just in a different form...which makes me think.... I need to check something real quick :D
 
+Nick Bauman Haha true. Tall hollow tower covered in solar panels, filled with turbines, and surrounded by a giant lake essentially. It is still extremely complicated but it is pretty cool that it can be simplified down to that being the main concept. :)
 
+Nick Bauman I'll check it out. Well it would seem that after 78 comments that this is starting to die down. Thank you everybody involved, I thoroughly enjoyed it and I am glad to walk out of it with a few deeper wrinkles on my brain. :)
 
Nothing wrong with solar and wind but they are just a part of the answer, I live in calif where we have a lot of wind and solar power generation, it takes a lot of room to be effective and there is a cost that comes with that.
Dead birds for one and the issues of no wind no power, no sun no power.
This will not just be a build more solar panels or windmills answer, we need to retool our electronics. I use LED bulbs and they are expencive but cost almost nothing to use, at one time I got my 2 bedroom apartments electric bill down from 134$ a month to 14$ for a month but it took a lot of work and the replacement of a refrigerator.
This was done with the current grid and no wind or solar power attached to the building so I know it can be done.
We need to look at our appliances closely, I bought a meter and tested every device in my home and know just what uses what.
 
I'm all for Solar Energy, my post yesterday was just me moidering, it is not 'there' yet as there is little support for it when it comes to energy companies.
I've got 6 solar panels on my roof to heat my water, but unless it can power heaters, or all the tv's, computers etc that people have, I don't think people will get excited about it.
 
Electronics as well as motors will become more efficient as time goes on Hannah, remember most of the stuff we power uses a ton of electricity and can be updated with cheaper hardware. I reduced my usage by 80% and did not change lifestyle, it can be done. Solar will be part of the answer but not the main source of our power, ( My opinion).
 
Cheers +Dave Winter at least the car industry is embracing greener technology after all the combustion engine hasn't really change since it was first invented
 
I think my panels are about 5/6 years old, so newer ones probably produce more power, but they are bought in the understanding they take 20 years or so for them to pay for themselves, then the electricity is free.. But they probably need replacing before then!
 
Petroleum still produces the most joules though, we have a way to go before electricity replaces gasoline in cars, sad to say.
 
Think of the computers we all use and how we have gotten more out of them for less, the same with refrigerators, my newer one used 80% less than the old one, we will see a change down the road with most appliances, but to be fair electric cars are going to be an addition to our usage, we need to think about that.
 
That's true the likes of Honda and Toyota are leading the way in hybrid cars while others seemed to invent things that saved fuel and then theirs dmc with the now electric delroean
 
I heard that was coming out, have you seen it yet?
 
Yeah the bbc news did a piece on it a few weeks back looked good taking the old petrol engine out in with a electric one important hoping top gear do a piece on it
 
If I remember right it (the ones in the states) had a 4 cylinder Volvo engine in it, it was a very light car. Interested to see how it tests out.
 
The DMC-12 had a Renault V6 in it, a good engine murdered by emissions gear.
Not quite sure why a near 40yo car is being resurrected now, even as an electric. 
 
I love this cartoon and find it very descriptive taking what goes on politically into account, as soon as these guys don't have the control they need they create laws to ensure that the "sheep"stay in line!
 
+Paul Newport I will have to get back to you ont that. XD
 
+John Maloney I'm not sure what's wrong with people, maybe there is a world outside the United States where the situation is very different. I know for a fact that BP and Shell are not installing solar panels in the UK. If Chevron are installing them, hats off to them. I'd rather they did that than drilled ever deeper holes in ever more ridiculous locations to try and extract ever more expensive oil.
 
It is not correct to say that a subsidy given to wind turbines is greater than subsidies given to other forms of electrical power generation.

Coal is heavily subsidized in Europe because the coal is imported from Africa and Russia, where the wages and working conditions of the workers are different to those found in Europe. Additionally, the externalities of mercury, sulphur emissions, CO2 and NOx emissions are not paid for by the coal-fired power plant producers. The manufacturers of coal-plants in Europe and China receive preferential government treatment in the form of government secured export loans and, in times of need, government purchase of stocks and shares in the coal-fired power plant manufacturing company.

All manufacturers receive "back-door" assistance from governments and, in some cases, blatant disregard for EU competition regulations.

So, to truly determine how much money was 'given' to put one wind turbine in the North Sea or Atlantic Ocean you need to look at the annual accounts of the manufacturer and see how much they paid for the steelwork, foundations, installation, testing, and permitting. You then need to see what the manufacturer's gross margin is and what their net margin is. How much tax did they owe for that year and how much tax did they actually pay for that year? How much money did the government actually give to help make that wind turbine? You then need to look at the company that bought the wind turbine and operates it. How many dollars/euros/pounds did they buy it for and how long will it be before a blade drops off, before the gearbox catches fire and how much do they have to spend every year to keep the blades turning. Will the turbine be demolished in the year 2022, 2027, 2032, 2037 or when 50 MW wind turbines replace the outdated 6 MW turbines? What is the tariff agreement that the wind turbine operator has with the National Grid? Do you think that that tariff will remain stable or will it reduce every year as hundreds more wind turbines are connected to the grid?

Finally, nobody can say that wind turbines are 60% subsidized. That's just being like a parrot, repeating what someone said in the pub last night. If wind turbine manufacturing was such a lucrative business then why have most of the original makers gone bust?
 
Funny joke? I'm afraid that it's just an enlightening fact ☹
John E
 
Yes they own the mines, the manufacturing plants, the land that you would need to build the things on. Big business still makes big bucks from Solar, they just aren't interested as it's nowhere near effecient enough with current tech.
 
William Mrozinski@g'+ has the good sense
to block Philip Torrance@g'+
but I got the message he directed at me anyway;
from scoping myself at plus.topsy.com .
. I had said this:
"( instead of subsidising green energy
we could sin-tax fossil fuels
to make them pay for all the cancer they cause;
and then we could use ethanol or other biofuels
for a less toxic backup generation .
. therefore, clean and price-competitive .
)
and he had responded (Apr 7):
"(
... you have the right to
modify people's behavior with tax policy?
The basic economic reality is that
if we used alternative fuel for everything
then ... people would be out of work, etc, etc.
People don't have the economic training to understand
what they suggest would colapse[sic] the economy.
)
my response is predictably blockable:
. where did you get the idea that "(economic training)
would save our jobs and the economy??!
. the usa is looking more and more like mexico
because we breed like mexico, and not china .
. you will see that joblessness is not the banks, or obama,
joblessness is from
automation, globalized capitalism,
and grossly free breeding .
. as for sin taxes,
I think your best argument would have been to
refute the premise that oil and coal
are a significant source of cancer;
after all, our sugary estrogen-soaked environs
must be by far the greatest source of big C .
. you could say that as a percentage of medical costs,
the coal and oil industry really doesn't owe us much .
. if you had given us this argument,
I doubt you would have blocked me;
because, you'd have been proud of your position .
 
"Solar power isn't feasible" - US
"Actually it is. We own the rare earths (monopoly) used to manufacture solar panels. And we don't need the uranium by 2020, we'll have MSRs." - China
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