Includes thoughts and comments about energy needs, resources, conservation and their relationship to politics at home and around the world.

Friday, September 22, 2006

In this post I will get back to energy issues. Wind Power is a viable option in areas of the world where winds blow much of the time. One such area is on the island of Ooland off the coast of Kalmar, Sweden. All of the electricity generated there comes from wind driven generators. The same could be done on the islands of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket off the coast of Cape Cod in Masachusetts. There is only one problem...some of the very people who criticize the Bush administration energy policy for its seeming lack of stress on developing alternatives to fossil fuel have fought tooth and nail against the erection of wind power generators offshore that would block heir view from their mansions. The objectors include Ted Kennedy and John Kerry among others. Enough said.

Tidal Energy is another option where the feet of rise and fall of ocean tides is sufficient to power water turbines hooked up to electric generators. Places exist around the world like the Bay of Fundy where the feet of rise is about 35 ft. Water would be drawn off at peak tide level into temporary storage then released into vertical chambers feeding the water into turbines much like those used in hydroelectric plants. The storage ponds would be filled on each rise of the tide to continue the process described above.

Solar Energy is used in those areas where the hours of sunshine dominate the climate. Two primary systems are commonly used; one to heat water for cleaning and heating purposes, the other to power cells for lights, remote controls for railroads and numerous other applications.

Various types of fuel cells are under research and development and are expected to reach commercial use soon.

Geothermal energy is is found in such areas as Yellowstone National Park where the Earth's crust is only a few hundred feet thick.

While we should maximize use of all viable alternatives to fossil fuels, no single one of the above alternatives or any combination of them can satisfy all of our energy needs. In the case of electric power generation, however, we could get there if we get back to atomic energy. We could shutdown almost all of our fossil fuel power generation plants, thereby greatly reducing greenhouse gas emissions and our dependence on foreign oil. Further develoment in fuel cell technology should help us reduce the use of fossil fuel in the movement of people. What would help even more would be to develop European style rapid transit systems along with incentives to get commuters to use them and to discontinue or minimize use of their personal automobiles.


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