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Re: [APD] Solar energy

I have been reading this thread with some interest, even though my 
preference is to see only aquatic plant posts here.  My two cents worth 
Our energy problem is twofold - we use an inordinate amount of gasoline 
in our vehicles, and we need a lot more electricity.  The two problems 
are not the same.

The easiest, least intrusive way to reduce gasoline usage is to make 
better use of the CAFE program, including pickup trucks and SUV's in 
the regulation, and increasing the required corporate average fuel 
economy.  There is no problem in reducing gasoline usage by vehicles, 
and there is more than one way to do it.  But, the primary way has to 
be lighter vehicles, with smaller, more efficient engines.  In any 
case, this conservation approach will yield benefits faster than any 
other approach.

The electricity shortage is not quite so easily solved.  Every method 
of generating electricity has a downside.  Coal powered generation 
kills miners, pollutes the air, killing still more people, and destroys 
the environment where the mining is done.   Oil powered generation 
pollutes the air, destroys the environment where the oil is produced 
and processed, and rapidly uses up a limited resource.  Water powered 
generation destroys a natural resource - wild rivers, has a limited 
economic life due to siltification, destroys valuable farmland, reduces 
the effectiveness of flood control dams.   Atomic power kills uranium 
miners, and, worst of all, leaves society with an endless job of  
guarding atomic waste.  Wind power is uneconomical, undependable, 
destroys birds and the esthetic value of open land.  Solar power is 
uneconomical, and has some unknown (to me) cost involved in the 
manufacturing process for the billions of solar cells needed.

So, for electricity generation there is no magic solution.  But, there 
also is no really "clean" way to generate the power.  Being an engineer 
and a physicist my opinion is that we are approaching the point where 
not taking advantage of nuclear power is a luxury we cannot afford.  I 
see that technology as one where a federal agency, comparable to NASA, 
is needed to do the basic research that will allow the use of nuclear 
energy with much better economics, less hazard from accidents, and a 
much more reliable means of storing and protecting the inevitable waste 
products.  If this technology were to be adequately developed there 
would be no real limit to the amount of electricity we could produce as 
far into the future as we wish to look.

Vaughn H.

On Wednesday, February 8, 2006, at 12:25 PM, Bill D wrote:

> I wish it were true that the so-called renewable energy sources - or 
> "new"
> upcoming technologies - could solve our current and worsening energy
> problem, but it can't and we are just kidding ourselves if we think it 
> can.
> I doubt that any informed responsible person will disagree with that.
> Why spend "billions" on developing places to store spent nuclear fuel?
> Because we have no good alternative.  The stuff is now being stored 
> on-site
> and that is not a good thing for numerous reasons.  Shut down the 
> nukes?
> OK, but where will the energy come from?  Nukes now account for about 
> 30% of
> our electricity and more in the NE US.  Build more coal plants?  Dam 
> more
> rivers?
> ":Economics don't enter into it."  Sure it does.  Someone has to pay 
> the
> check.  The price would come in the form of higher energy rates plus a
> slower economy, with higher unemployment and a lower standard of 
> living.
> Then it becomes a political question, but I doubt that most people 
> would
> vote in favor of it.
> "And in any case I've heard from 'experts' that the alternative 
> energies are
> more than adequate to supply all our future power requirements."   
> That's
> nonsense, unless we are willing to accept a major reduction on out 
> standard
> of living, which we are not.
> Alternate ways of creating energy can make a contribution to the 
> solution of
> our energy problem.  I like the idea of solar, even though it has been
> mainly cloudy here for the last 2 weeks.  Yesterday driving south on 
> the PA
> Turnpike I saw 12 windmills on a ridge.  Two were revolving; the rest 
> were
> at rest.
> There is but one solution to our growing energy problem.  That is 
> building
> more nuclear plants.  Other technologies can help and should be 
> encouraged,
> but these will have only a marginal impact.
> We should accept that.
> Bill
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