[mythtv-users] [Slightly OT] solar power for all our gadgets

Jeff Walther trag at io.com
Thu Mar 12 04:07:58 UTC 2009

>Date: Wed, 11 Mar 2009 08:29:41 -0500
>From: Andrew Close <aclose at gmail.com>

>On Tue, Mar 10, 2009 at 10:53 PM, Jon Bishop
><jon.the.wise.gdrive at gmail.com> wrote:
>>  Yes and no. I'm not saying everyone should produce ALL their own energy.
>>  That would be impractical, and fall right in line with what you're saying...

Expecting everyone to produce any of their own energy is right in 
line with what I'm saying and just as impractical.   Micro production 
is inherently inefficient.

>>  to
>>  install solar on rooftops. Instead of lobbying to build huge dams that might
>>  have irreversible impacts on the environment, they could use that money to
>>  install micro-hydro facilities in every creek and river in the US.

  Again, incredibly inefficient and expensive by comparison.  Your 
goals will make everyone's energy expensive and their lives miserable.

>>  By doing this, we also gain the benefit of a
>>  decentralized grid,

What benefit is that again?  The one where we all become amateur 
electricians whether we want to or not--and see "economies of scale" 

>>  with battery banks in many of these
>>  people's homes, we won't NEED to build huge nuclear reactors to make up for
>>  the energy that we're currently producing from coal.

Rigggghhhtt.   Batteries.  Have you priced batteries?   You really 
want to spend over $1 per KWH don't you?

And nuclear reactors are tiny compared  to covering the landscape in 
windmill poles, solar collectors and the accompanying service roads 
and power runs to accomodate them.   Nuclear reactors have a 
miniscule geographical footprint compared to the *so-called* 
sustainable energy sources and are much more environmentally friendly.

Oh, you maybe think that rooftop solar panels would come close to 
meeting the nations energy needs?  No.  For solar and/or wind to 
work, you're going to need those giant farms in the desert wtih the 
inefficient transmission runs.  The area X energy produced doesn't 
work out to near enough for simple rooftop installation.  Which I 
actually showed with real numbers a few days ago.

>>>  Making every individual generate some energy creates huge inefficiencies
>>>  which, when simplified, translates to making everyone needlessly poorer.
>>  I don't see how you figure that. By having energy placed into the grid WHERE
>>  it is BEING USED instead of generating it in Arizona and shipping it over
>>  high voltage lines across hundreds of miles, you're reducing inefficiencies
>>  in the grid.

False dichotomy.

By generating all the power each city needs with not-so-distant 
nuclear power plants those losses are not large.  It's only when you 
try to use inconvenient and expensive solar power that you need 
multi-hundred mile transmissions.   And even with transmission losses 
to the city, nuclear power is far less expensive and more efficient 
than your micro-power-breweries.

>>>  Plus, I don't know about you, but I'm tapped out, in terms of time and,
>>>  money.

>>  Well, actually, home power generation *is* sorta one of my hobbies,

Good for you.  Stop trying to force it on the rest of us.

>>   For a moment we'll ignore the costs (as scale increases,
>>  those would go down, to a point where it's actually cheaper to use solar
>>  than to pay for the fuel to use traditional techniques).

There is no proof for that assertion.  Solar might become affordable 
some day.  There are some inherent limitations in the physics having 
to do with the band gap of electron states that says it isn't going 
to change any time soon.

>>  Having solar power
>>  on your roof doesn't cost any time

Bull.   Everything installed in or on a house costs time and/or 
money.  At the least you'll have to clean that thing off regularly. 
Now add up the cost of all the additional deaths and injuries from 
people falling off roofs.  Sure, it's a tiny percentage of the total, 
but you've just made the total roof trips huge.   If you hire 
someone, subtract that from the tiny return on investment, being used 
to pay a  huge debt.

>>As long as we have people saying no, we can't
>>  do that, I don't want to, it's too much money, or it's too hard - of course
>>  it's going to be all those things.

More bull.  Wishing does not make it so.  All your shouting for 
everyone to fall in step will get us is a lot of broke miserable 

>>>  If we all had to build all the stuff we use, we'd all be subsistence
>>>  farmers.  There certainly wouldn't be any telecommunications industry
>>>  beyond telegraphs on copper lines--maybe, assuming we could get ourselves
>>>  up to smelting and drawing copper.
>>  You are completely misinterpreting what I've said.

No, I'm not.  I regularly price what it costs to make things vs. buy 
them.  I often calculate the costs of industrial scale processes vs. 
home production.   You are simply wrong on every count, but don't 
want to accept it because a green magazine painted a pretty picture 
for you.  The real world is not going to change the laws of physics 
and industry to match that pretty pciture.

The only thing you'll accomplish by pushing it into action is to make 
all of us poor, which means a lot of us are going to die much sooner 
than we would have otherwise.

Most of us don't have time to be forced to do another home project. 
And there's no reason we should, since the commodity in question, 
like every other commodity (except tomatoes) is better produced in a 
centralized, efficient facility by professionals.   There's a reason 
why industrial societies have divisions of labor and specialization.

>>  I could never build a
>>  computer from scratch. Nor a cell phone. I'm talking about ELECTRICITY,
>>  which, as I mentioned, is EASY to make. All you need is a roll of copper
>>  wire and magnet, and you can make AC. Add a couple diodes, and you've got
>>  DC. To make 'usable' (for modern devices, on a realistic scale) electricity
>>  will take a couple more magnets and a few more coils of wire, but it's not
>>  all that difficult, nor time consuming. Doing this one thing would solve so
>>  many of the energy problems we face today.

You have no concept of the complexities involved.  To make usable 
power for the grid or even most home devices requires much more 
intricate work than that.   Sure, anyone can whip up a little dynamo 
with a pencil and some copper wire.  Making it commercially useful is 
a whole different ball of wax.

>>  I do not believe that we should sacrifice infrastructure and
>>  technology for the benefit of nature. I am, however, a strong believer in
>>  that fact that we need to SUPPLEMENT and DECENTRALIZE our infrastructure, to
>>  increase it's efficiency and sustainability. And in doing so, nature
>>  benefits.

Decentralizing decreases its efficiency and therefore its 
sustainability.  Your assumptions are unexamined and incorrect.

>>  If you have tons of electrical devices, you should consider producing some
>>  of the energy to run them.

Why?   I produce usable multi-processors which my employer trades for 
money, which he gives to me and which I trade for energy.   How is 
this inherently less virtuous than making the energy myself?   I make 
my own compost.  Isn't that enough?  Of course, I've been doing that 
since the 70s, before it was trendy.

>>   If you use an exceptional amount of power, you should
>>  pay more for it.

Why?  Because it makes you feel self-righteous?

>>>  There is no virtue, nor advantage to paying more.
>>  The virtue, or advantage, of paying more, is that people waste less.

No.  People use less.   The waste is your assumption.  There are 
plenty of folks who are already conserving all they can and always 
have been.  When you make things more expensive, yes they use less, 
and they live genuinly poorer lives.   And in hot climates they die. 
We're not all self-absorbed eco-nuts, with incomes bigger than our 
sense.  But that won't stop some folks from pushing policies which 
are going to kill some people and make everyone else poorer.

>>  Nobody has to suffer to reach this ideal, but everyone has to sacrifice a
>>  little. Nobody wants to sacrifice anything. And our society of greed and
>>  selfishness keeps rolling on towards the huge cliff.

The greed and selfishness is your self-righteous assumption.  There 
is a huge component of the middle class in the US who already 
conserves all they can and they don't have any more to give.  They 
can't afford to install all those inefficient expensive capital 
improvements and they can't afford to pay more for electricity 
because you think it's good for them.   They're out of time (working 
too many jobs to see their kids) and out of money because those jobs 
don't pay and things keep getting more expensive because energy keeps 
getting more expensive.

And it didn't have to be this way, but misguided or just evil people 
flat out lied about nuclear power and scared the public.  Actually, 
what appears to have happened is that when the Vietnam War ended a 
subset of the activists found that their lives were unfulfilling 
without an all consuming cause, so they whipped up The Union of 
Concerned Scientists and a couple of other nutty organizations and 
chose the nuclear power industry (easy to confuse with nuclear 
weapons, doncha know?) as their new great devil.  Their original old 
cause (Vietnam War) was a pretty good one, so a lot folks went along 
when they trumped up their new one.  The anti-nuclear cause was a 
disaster for the USA and the environment.

If we had built ten nuclear power plants per year since 1980, none of 
our electricity production would produce any carbon today.

The environmentalists of the late 70s caused global warming.

And they have yet to admit it, apologize and change their policy positions.

Jeff Walther

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