Saturday, October 31, 2009

Coal to Gas to Water – Triple Play!

So who were Tinkers and Evers and Chance anyway? Well, in the world of baseball – particularly professional baseball a triple play – three outs all in one play – is really rare. As a matter of fact even the great New York Yankees have only produced 18 triple plays from 1876 to the present day.

But the triple play we’re talking about today is a different kind. In this one we will put the first out by using the second and put the second out by using the third. And the third is the solution we have been propounding so vociferously for all these years (101 years to be exact).

The first is that highly dangerous COAL which pollutes everything it touches –even after the miserably failed efforts to clean it up – the junk it contains has to go somewhere and outer space is not a feasible solution at the present time.

So when you hear or see the Coal Industry’s commercials telling you how cheap and available their “wonderful” coal is you should ask why the industry is spending more on advertising than on cleaning up or replacing the lethal product.

So we go to the second which is NATURAL GAS. Perhaps it is important to point out that while the gas we are discussing is “natural” there are also a number of unnatural – or manufactured gasses made from among other things – are you ready? – Coal.

Natural gas burns cleaner than coal or oil. (We didn’t forget oil – we just passed it because it’s almost as dirty as coal). Please understand that burning cleaner than coal or oil does mean that there is no problem with gas’s residue. There is, but here again you hear commercials about how clean and cheap and readily available natural gas is. That is true but don’t forget what ends up in the air after burning it:

And so there is a reasonable argument for the use of natural gas instead of coal and oil BUT only as a temporary replacement for those demons until the clean, cheap and totally renewable energy source is fully developed.

And of course that form is Water Power, the third step – but in our program not an out.

So the play goes: replace coal and oil with natural gas for a while and then replace the gas with water power. Of course we would gladly settle for a Double Play whereby we would go from Coal/Oil directly to hydropower.

Hydropower as soon as possible for our grandchildren and their grandchildren. We should do no less and – we can.

Monday, October 19, 2009

What’s New Canada?

Since our article on Canada’s awakening, a few things have happened. And a few things should have happened – that haven’t.

What has happened in the good sense is a continuation of the agreement with the U.S. that we share the goal of combating climate change. Clearly the Canadian hydropower availability is being explored much more seriously than in the past.

However, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, while emphasizing Canada’s role as an “energy superpower” (which it clearly is) took issue with one provision of the Waxman-Markey climate bill that passed the House of Representatives in June.

The provision that raised his hackles, and those of others around the world, is the one that would impose tariffs on countries that did not get or keep their emissions under control.

With a little Canadian humor Mr. Harper said, “Such a measure would become a front for protectionism quicker than you can say ‘hello.’” This issue was also raised in India during a visit by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton this past summer.

Mr. Harper also said, “A better way would be to make sure all nations did their part to reduce emissions and share the burden from the beginning. I hope we will push toward that kind of solution instead of a solution toward tariffs.”

One part of the Canadian effort to “harmonize efforts” with the United States is, to us, somewhat troublesome and that is participation in the cap-and-trade system which, if you have read our efforts, creates as many problems as it solves and at best delays the real reduction of emissions wherever it is practiced.

As one observer noted, “No country, government or company is ready yet to face the cost of pollution and the cost of cutting pollution.” And may we add – as long as the governments and politicians are on the payrolls of the energy producing companies.

Hydropower can and should be developed at a rapid pace by others than the fossil fuel energy companies. Its cost is better than that of trying to clean up the fossil problems.

In addition, we can look to Canada for advice and leadership in the development of water powered electricity generation and distribution.

And more of us should.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Articles of Common Sense

(With Appropriate Apologies)

When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for a people to dissolve the attachments that have connected them with the evil purveyors and burners of fossil fuels and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and immaculate environment to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect for the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the dissolution.

And so we shall.

Global warming – melting of the glaciers
Greenhouse Gases
Carbon Dioxide
Air pollution and Water pollution
Caused by burning coal
Caused by burning oil
Caused by burning gas
Caused by autos burning petroleum products
Caused by Man-made forest fires (also natural ones)

All caused by lack of government regulation or control.

We will talk at another time about agriculture and population – two very hot topics – and very controversial.

We will show all sides.

Small Hydro – More Power to the People!

Well, as promised earlier, we have a compendium of the small and simple equipment and techniques that promise (and deliver) clean and very inexpensive energy, primarily electricity and heat.

As in the case of solar power units, the initial cost of hydropower units is practically the only cost to be incurred. That of course involves purchase and installation of the units. Once in operation maintenance is relatively minor – and by that we mean relative to the cost of the electricity purchased from a utility.

And Hydropower without dams is the main answer. Free-flow turbines have a much smaller, in some cases infinitesimal, impact on fish migration and survival as well as water quality and the visual/aesthetic qualities of the environment.

Tidal hydropower units also use the natural movement of nature on a horizontal basis. These units adjust for the variances in tidal direction and speed. Tides such as those experienced in New York City’s East River are excellent examples of the tremendous forces that exist in what appears to be a plain old water passage.

Falling Water turbines also help fill the bill. These are very small versions of the turbines used by the big dams in their electricity generation. But these little ones can use many of the small dams already installed around the country. Actually of all the existing 80,000 dams of all sizes, only 2,400 are online and used for power generation.

In summary, any small hydro system consists of the following

- Water Conveyance – channel, pipeline, tide or pressurized pipeline (penstock) that delivers the water.
- Turbine or Waterwheel to transform the moving water to rotational power
- Alternator or generator to transform rotational energy to electricity
- Regulator to control the generator, and
- Wiring (or the grid) to deliver the electricity to the consumer.

It is not unreasonable to see a homeowner making his or her own electricity from the water flowing in small stream in the back yard. The only concern in that case would be whether the water flow was all year or seasonal. In either event when the water flows so will the electricity.

So hydropower can undoubtedly be the Power of the People!