In an earlier posting I noted that geothermal energy is best in moderate climate zones. I think I may have been wrong and should have said “temperate” climate zones. I am also a geothermal noob. But thank goodness for the internet.
I recently found a site focused on building awareness of the potential of geothermal energy:
The current production of geothermal energy from all uses places third among renewables, following hydroelectricity and biomass, and ahead of solar and wind. Despite these impressive statistics, the current level of geothermal use pales in comparison to its potential. The key to wider geothermal use is greater public awareness and technical support. http://www.geothermal.org/what.html
To remove your status of geothermal noob, check out this PDF from the University of Utah:
It looks like Nevada is geothermal central.
Soon we’ll see this on cars like in Back to the Future!
Southern California Edison provides an incentive program for those homeowners and business owners that want to produce their own energy. After looking closer at the program they no longer provide incentives for solar power through the Self Generation Incentive Program (SGIP), but California Solar Initiative provides an incentive for solar power. SGIP provides incentives for wind and other renewables.
It seems there is an easier way to wade through all the paperwork. You should ask your solar power installer if they also help with the paper work to receive the rebates and incentives for producing your own energy.
Investors have been funding alternative energy quietly, but the noise is starting to get louder.
After searching “Alternative Energy Financing” on “The Google” I found the following excerpt here:
A Perfect Storm
Regarding the recent spike in venture, private and public capital markets and the associated run up in valuations, New Energy Finance’s Liebreich said, “There have been some very strong exits in the past 18 months. Valuations have come off their peaks since earlier this year, and I think the fundamentals of the industry are now strong. They were looking overly ambitious in the solar PV, U.S. biofuels and pre-revenue fuel cell areas.”
“The most important industries in the near term are: on-shore wind, biomass, energy efficiency and traditional biofuels; in the medium-term (3-10 years): cellulosic ethanol, offshore wind, thermal solar and hybrid vehicles; in the long-term (>10 years): plug-in hybrids, more wind, building-integrated solar PV, fuel-cell-based distributed CHP and carbon capture and sequestration. In the very long term, fourth generation solar PV, artificial photosynthesis, algal and bacterial biosynthesis, micro-distributed power devices.”
“Before starting New Energy Finance I identified a confluence of 7 factors which told me that we are the brink of a secular change: climate change; energy security; oil depletion; aging infrastructure in developed countries; energy bottlenecks in developing countries; new energy technologies; new information technologies. There has never been such a perfect storm for clean energy before – in fact there has probably never been such a perfect storm in any peace-time industry ever,” he added.
You can see that the money is flowing to where the investors believe their money will grow. I’m sure some will win and some will lose, but the winners will win HUGE. I just hope they finance decentralized energy production that benefits the people from where the resources are being used.
This morning my power went out. The power lines on the street were struck by a vehicle early in the morning, and one of the utility poles were knocked down. The power was out from about 6 am to about 2:30 pm. It made me and my wife appreciate the electricty we have when it is on. Our water heater is electric, and our stove and range is electric. We couldn’t take a hot shower, or cool a hot meal.
Those are things we don’t usually think about appreciating everyday. My wife started to tell me to generate electricity because she wanted to take a hot shower. I told her that we need to think about these things when we don’t need them so that we will be prepared for when we do [I said it with a smile]. This is the same thing on the large scale. We need to think about what we will need in the future, not just what we need now. I wish I had a backup generator, or that this apartment building has its own power source and connected to the grid. This way the power is always on, unless there was a massive EMP. Besides a massive [worldwide] EMP, decentralized electricity production would create a more stable system.
We depend on energy everyday for the small things we take for granted. We only recognize their importance when it is taken away. I don’t want to be caught without power in the future because I didn’t think about it today.
This article from “Ask the Builder” about geothermal heating and cooling tell us that the technology is best used in moderate climates. Tim Carter also points out that:
the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy are currently promoting this technology through their Earth Comfort Program
So I searched the Earth Comfort Program on Google and found this quote at the top of THIS page:
Lew Pratsch of the U.S. Department of Energy sums up his department’s position on Ground Source Heat Pumps (GSHPs). He says, “Geothermal heat pumps are for real. The product is efficient in rain, shine, sleet or snow; the product is endorsed by the EPA… and most importantly, GSHPs have one of the best life-cycle costs of HVAC systems sold today. “
“We have made a scientific breakthrough but we are not saying that our research is the final solution, the material itself needs to be manufactured and tested,” said Lee.
“The question is to increase its hydrogen storage capacity; the next step for our research is to find the conditions and the materials that can provide the answers.”
Hydrogen fuel cell technology is coming along in the laboratory, but it is not viable for mass production today. We have the technology today to create electric vehicles with solar charging and co-generation charging stations. It should be our priority to create buildings that serve as dwellings, offices and energy production facilities. We need to do what makes sense today, and not wait for future science to save us. We have what we need to get started on making a difference.
Here is an excertp from Wired Magazine.
Below are some examples of the MIT research projects the Energy Research Council will be sponsoring and developing:
- Spinach solar power: Tapping the secrets of photosynthesis — engineering proteins from spinach — to make organic solar cells whose efficiency could outstrip the best silicon photovoltaic arrays today.
- Silicon superstrings: A novel approach to manufacturing conventional silicon photovoltaic arrays by pulling the chips in stringy ribbons out of a molten stew like taffy rather than slicing them from silicon ingots.
- Laptop-powered hybrids: Using a new generation of lithium-based batteries (which power most portable electronics today) to cut the price and charge-time of hybrid and electric car batteries.
- Tubular battery tech: Using “supercapacitors” made from carbon nanotubes to store charge — rather than the chemical reactions that power most batteries — resulting in a lightweight, high-capacity battery that could someday give even the laptop battery a run for its money.
- Hold the A/C: Optimizing air and heat flow on a new computer-aided design system, before a building’s construction begins, allowing for the building’s air conditioning costs to be cut by as much as 50 percent.
- Hybrid without the hybrid: Turbocharging an automobile engine with plasma from a small ethanol tank (which would need to be refilled about as often as the oil needs changing), reportedly increasing fuel efficiency almost to the level of a hybrid — but only adding $500-$1,000 to the car’s sticker price.
- More light than heat: Generating a car’s electricity photoelectrically (using a gas-powered light and a small, specially designed solar panel) rather than mechanically (using an alternator), substantially increasing fuel efficiency.
- Coal-powered biofuels: Bubbling exhaust from a coal-fired power plant through a tank of algae that’s been bred to siphon off much of the exhaust’s carbon dioxide — in the process, fattening the algae that can then be harvested as biodiesel.