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On Would Solar Roadways Work? A Government Engineer Discusses the Controversial Technology

When you say "no one is seriously suggesting that solar will be the sole solution," I assume you don't get out much.

There are oodles of people who seriously suggest that the expensive, failed, toxic and useless solar industry can do precisely that, for instance the idiot professor at Stanford, Mark Z. Jacobson, anti-nuke, who for reasons that strike me as irrational, is sometimes taken serious, even though he's clueless.

These people are destroying the world, as far as I'm concerned, if only because their half a century of wishful thinking has entrenched the dangerous fossil fuel industry indefinitely, mostly because their reactionary program of returning the world to the 18th century hasn't worked, isn't working, and won't work, and thus the unsustainable status quo is the default.

I have universally and consistently opposed all dangerous fuels, which is why I oppose the so called "renewable energy" industry because its only function is to serve as a bait and switch marketing tool for the dangerous fossil fuel industry.

The solar industry does not produce enough electricity to run all the servers dedicated to telling everyone how wonderful it is.


September 7, 2014    View Comment    

On Solar Could Grow Faster if We Had a Functioning Federal Government

Clayton, with whatever respect is due you, when you deign to speak about "nuclear progress," it's rather like having the Ayotollah Khamenei discuss appropriate ways to decorate Christmas trees in Iowa in a way that Santa Claus will find pleasing.

I am a chemist by formal training, and I would suspect, from this remark you make about "chemical storage," with its obliviousness to the laws of thermodynamics suggests that your knowledge of chemistry is comparable to your knowledge of nuclear engineering.

The pressurized water reactor saved millions of human lives.   It is an outstanding invention, the basic theory of which was developed by a Nobel Prize winning physicist, Eugene Wigner.   The reactor type was built, and continues to be built, because it is a mature robust technology.

Now, I happen to know a considerable amount of nuclear engineering, and I believe that better reactors are available for more complex missions than merely generating electricity - it is great that nuclear can do what wind and solar will never be able to do, eliminate coal burning - but I believe that nuclear means are possible to eliminate the other two toxic fossil fuels, natural gas and oil.    The Pressurized Water reactor, despite it's half a century of proved success cannot do this.     But for you to announce blithely that nuclear technology is limited is basically an open confession of ignorance.

And let's be clear:   Ignorance and fear are the two most powerful factors that have prevented nuclear saving many of the 210 million people who died from air pollution in the last 30 years, while people spent oodles and oodles and oodles of more money thinking up ever more tortured (and toxic) ways to make solar energy work.   

But it doesn't work:

You say solar prices have been falling for thirty years.    How come, after soaking the world for more than a trillion bucks over that same period, this industry does not produce a single exajoule of energy per year?

Nuclear has produced, despite caviling by the ignorant, between 25 and 30 exajoules of primary energy for each of the last 30 years.

I note that you report a period that is only after the awful excuse for a human being - who now makes his living "consulting" for fossil fuel companies, including oil sands companies - Amory Lovins told us that solar energy was "already competitive."    If you knew anything about the history of energy thought, you might not be so glib about pushing your very, very, very, very, very, very expensive bourgeois fantasies on a world with rapidly diminishing resources.

You want solar cells on your roof?   Good for you.   Pay for them yourself.   As far as I'm concerned, they're useless to the rest of humanity, and deserve not a single additional red cent of public money.   I would rather learn that you also learn about what it might cost to dispose of any solar cells you pay for when they are transformed into yet more electronic toxic waste, and that you set this money aside, as any solar cells purchased tomorrow surely will be so transformed in almost no time, but I'll settle if you just agree to stop taking money out of schools, health care, opportunity for the needy, and, yes, basic nuclear research to pay for this grotesque failure, the fig leaf for the fossil fuel industry that advertises itself as "renewable energy."

You may call what I do "bashing."   I call what I do an effort to spare human lives from the consequences of ignorance, because more than any other factor in human history, ignorance kills.

Have a nice weekend.

September 4, 2014    View Comment    

On Would Solar Roadways Work? A Government Engineer Discusses the Controversial Technology

Nothing solar works - after 50 years of breathless schemes breathlessly announced, the solar industry doesn't produce 1 of the 550 exajoules humanity consumes each year - and yet we burn more coal, gas and oil to come up with ever more hype and more tortured excuses for spending even more money to do more of nothing.

Humanity deserves what it's going to get.

The last thing the world needs is more tires coating ever larger surfaces of roadways with toxic metals from glass that upon shattering, will leach electronic waste directly on to them, and worse, into the ground water.

A great idea!

Let's send the guy a trillion dollars.

If the guy raised $2.2 million for this, it terrifies one to think of all the good and decent things that might have been done with the money.

September 4, 2014    View Comment    

On Plastic Bags, Nuclear Waste and a Toxic Planet

Lots of people have been burning coal, gas, and oil to tell us all about how scared they are of so called "nuclear waste."

Which has killed more people, coal, oil and gas burned in order to run servers around the country or the storage of so called "nuclear waste?"

The comparison of so called "nuclear waste" with plastic bags is specious, mostly because plastic bags are dangerous.

The nuclear energy industry is more than half a century old.   In the last 50 years, how many deaths have been recorded because of the storage of used nuclear fuel?    As many people as will die in the next 20 minutes from air pollution?   More?  Less?

Basically obsession with so called "nuclear waste" has killed more people than the so called "waste" has.

September 4, 2014    View Comment    

On Can Nuclear Energy Secure Financing? Nuclear Power and the Capital Challenge

B.S.   Really?

I'll take your remark as a Q.E.D. for my comment above, particularly the "they have hydrocarbon systems that can back them up forever."

Like I said, there are zero "renewables will save us" advocates who are not defenders of dangerous fossil fuels, zero who care how many people dangerous fossil fuels kill.

For export...for export...

Most of these comments coming from "renewables will save us" squads border on delusional, but this one is a classic.

For the record, nuclear energy is the world's largest, by far, source of climate change gas free primary energy, having produced between 25 and 30 exajoules of said energy for decades with an extremely low loss of life.    The solar and wind industry, after sucking a trillion bucks out of the pockets of poor poeple for more than a decade, doesn't even produce 5 exajoules.

For export...for...export...

Definitely a classic...

Enjoy the rest of the week.



September 2, 2014    View Comment    

On Can Nuclear Energy Secure Financing? Nuclear Power and the Capital Challenge

I disagree.   Everyone who is pushing the so called "renewable energy" scam is a supporter of fracked gas and coal.

One may appeal to Edmund Burke's comment, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."

Germany is building new coal plants, right this damn minute.    I hear not a peep of outrage from the "renewables will save us" squad.    What I hear instead is excuses, prevarications, soothsaying and evasion.

Not a word of protest is heard.  Not a word.   Why?   Because their scam depends openly and irrefutably on access to dangerous fossil fuel powered powerplants. 

The wind and solar renewable energy scam has failed, and failed at the cost of over a trillion dollars.  Biomass fuels are responsible for three million deaths per year from air pollution.     We have basically run out of rivers to destroy with massive dams.

And what is the response from the "renewables will save us" squad.   Rather than offer a shred of outrage for the gas and coal they do nothing about, they rail against nuclear energy, using specious trivialities and nitpicking that borders on outright lying; they attack the world's largest, by far, source of climate change gas free energy, the precise form of energy that according to Jim Hansen prevented the dumping of 64 billion tons of the dangerous fossil fuel waste carbon dioxide and saved nearly two million lives.

Prevented Mortality and Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Historical and Projected Nuclear Power

Whether or not these people - the reciters who chant the "renewable will save us" canon as if it were connected with reality, these apologists for German coal, Californian gas, and similar tragedies around the world - possess enough honesty and insight to know themselves, others can clearly see them for what they are.    And to be clear, my own experience with these people suggests that they cannot see themselves, because, insight is precisely the thing they lack in spades.

August 31, 2014    View Comment    

On The Catch-22 of Energy Storage

I always know I'm speaking to a rote anti-nuke exceptionalist when I hear "too cheap to meter," a remark made by a McCarthyite cold war syndic, Robert Strauss, who knew not a shred of science, much like the anti-nukes who quote him incessantly.

How many forms of energy are too cheap to meter, or is your concern based on the idea that only nuclear energy be free and perfect, or otherwise other forms of energy will be free to kill and maim at will?

If solar and wind - trivial forms of energy that don't produce 1% of world energy demand combined - are "too cheap to meter," how come their always asking for vast subsidies amounting to tens of billions of dollars a pop?

Bill Gates invests in lots of things - he is a big player in the so called "traveling wave" Terrapower reactor based on Seikomoto's "Candle Reactor Concept."    Some things in which he invests are better than others.    Maybe you should write him though, to see if he's stuck in the 1950's and gives a rat's ass about nuclear not being "too cheap to meter."

Nuclear energy provides between 25 and 30 exajoules of primary energy each year, this on a planet now consuming 550 exajoules each year.

You seem to have avoided my question, and I expect you will avoid the repeat:   How many exajoules of wind energy were stored in any kind of compressed air system in the last decade?

I note, with due contempt for wishful thinking, that the same people who use the so called "renewable energy" bait and switch for supporting the dangerous fossil fuel status quo, like to appeal to emptied underground storage of dangerous fossil fuel waste, carbon dioxide, in those same structures.

Like CAES, that won't work on scale either.

You may want to check with these dangerous fossil fuel waste dump folks about the simultaneous availability of the structures for the compressed air scheme.



August 29, 2014    View Comment    

On Materials Innovation: Designing Better Surfaces for Energy

Thanks for posting this.

Surface chemistry is really exciting, particularly, as the post says, with respect to refractory corrosive systems.   In order to recover the maximal amount of exergy from the use of primary energy, we definitely need to go to very high temperature systems, precisely the systems where corrosion is the most problematic.

I wasn't familiar with Dr.Yildiz's work, but will certainly check it out.

Another great scientist working to some extent on surface work is the materials science theoretician Dr. Emily Carter at Princeton.   She is the director of the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment.   One interesting thing she has published about is her approach involves the application of orbital free density functional theory (OF-DFT) to make predictions about the behavior of surface coatings.   These types of calculations can include the behavior of millions of atoms.   Certainly some of it is over my tiny head, but the results are all that are important, as is the realization that we have that capability.   

August 29, 2014    View Comment    

On The Catch-22 of Energy Storage

We've been reading about CAES technology for quite some time.

My favorite paper on this subject in a Denholm paper in 2005, in which he more or less confesses that nuclear energy is about 75 g/kwh cleaner than CAES as he imagined it - he was reheating the compressed gas with dangerous natural gas - but that was OK because, um, um, um, "people don't like nuclear."

Since writing this wonderful piece on - as I see it - "clean natural gas" how many large scale CAES systems have been built in the US?

In the last 9 years, since we learned that people don't like nuclear but they might like huge CAES systems, something like 270 billion tons of dangerous fossil fuel waste were dumped into the planetary atmosphere.

When exactly will CAES systems be available to stop this?   

How many large CAES systems are under construction?    How many exajoules of energy will they store?   How many are proposed, planned and how many are on order?

I often hear - it's a ridiculous and obscene claim - that nuclear is "too slow" and wind is, by contrast, quick.    Nuclear started producing quantities in excess of 25 exajoules per year within 20 years of the industry's start up.

Where is the comparable performance for CAES, for the entire wind industry, or for the solar industry?

How long is humanity supposed to survive on soothsaying and promises?

I'd love to hear it.

August 28, 2014    View Comment    

On Solar Could Grow Faster if We Had a Functioning Federal Government

I very much doubt that any of that is applicable, any more than it was in 1976, when Amory Lovins wrote his awful diatribe claiming that solar was "competitive already or soon to be competitive."

The solar industry has had more than half a century to reach one exajoule out of the hundreds of exajoules humanity consumes each year. It has already consumed vast sums of money - tremendous sums on a planet where 2 billion people lack basic sanitation. All we have to show for this is yet another set of soothsaying promises, almost exactly the same, word for word as was being produced almost 40 years ago.

The problem with solar energy has not changed appreciably in the last 5 decades, low mass to energy produced ratios, and poor reliability connected with the rotation of the earth and the weather systems on it. The purported cost and efficiency savings exist precisely because the industry is a failure.

For instance, the CIGS technology, which is supposed to be "cheap" will depend on continued access to indium, which is one of the elements of concern for depletion, the main consumer of it being touch screens on mobile devices.If solar tries to get to 5 exajoules per year - it won't but if it tries - using CIGS technology, what will this do to the world supply of indium? Any guess? (I personally would not like CIGS selenium leaching out of landfills when all this solar junk becomes electronic waste, as surely it will. That's it nowhere near as dangerous as cadmium telluride is little consolation.)   Might indium prices go through the roof as the precious material experiences shortages?    Might those costs impact the "affordability?"

After half a century we can see that the entire solar industry is an exercise in wishful thinking, blind faith, and selective attention and that it generates far more complacency than energy. I remain unconvinced that the entire industry produces enough energy to fuel all the servers, computers dedicated to telling everyone how wonderful it is.

It's really time to wake up. It's already the case that future generations will have no cause to forgive us, and the more we dither with this nonsense, the less we will be entitled to any consideration by history.

August 27, 2014    View Comment    

On Solar Could Grow Faster if We Had a Functioning Federal Government

We've had massive funding of solar research for half a century.

How many exajoules of the 550 exajoules humanity is now consuming each year is the solar industry producing as a result?

We've had massive tax credits world wide for the installation of solar and wind facilities, said tax credits mostly falling those who reside in the top tiers of economic wealth while three billion people live in absolute poverty, and those who are closer to poverty pay higher electric bills than they need pay.

How many exajoules of the 550 exajoules humanity is now consuming each year is the solar industry producing as a result?

I'll answer the question myself:   Less than one exajoule.

In the last decade we spent a trillion dollars on so called "renewable energy."  Is the concentration of carbon dioxide accumulations in the atmosphere falling or rising as a result?

I am not a fan of the Republican House of Representatives, to be sure, but I'm surprised, wholly surprised that they haven't embraced this rob the poor for the benefit of the rich scheme.    It's right up their alley.

At this point, subsidies to accomodate the solar industry are bordering on obscene.   How about those who love this industry stop asking the public to pay for their enthusiasm, and pay for it themselves?

August 27, 2014    View Comment    

On Can Nuclear Energy Secure Financing? Nuclear Power and the Capital Challenge

Actually, nuclear energy has been the world's largest, by far, source of climate change gas free primary energy for about 4 decades.    The questionable, racist, term "welfare queen" would not apply to a system of energy that required a $73 billion dollar US government investment over half a century, nuclear energy, and has saved, according to one of the world's pre-iminent climate scientists, close to 2 million lives and prevented the dumping of 64 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide - dangerous fossil fuel waste - into the planetary atmosphere.

Quick, how much money was spent on the Iraq war to make the world "safe for petroleum?"

The money spent on nuclear is what is called a "wise investment," and the return on the money in terms of human health has been enormous.

The bourgeois brats who hate the form of energy, nuclear energy, invented by some of the finest minds of the twentieth century, lacking even a basic understanding of it, have wastefully squandered a trillion bucks world wide in the last decade alone on so called "renewable energy" scam - which has served as nothing more than a marketing tool for the dangerous gas and coal industries.

Combined, after all this mindless expenditure, the solar, wind and geothermal industries, after half a century of mindless cheering, don't produce even 5 of the 550 exajoules humanity is consuming each year as of today.

I have yet to see an example of one opponent of nuclear energy who has ever opened a science book.

According to a publication in Lancet less than two years ago, air pollution kills about 7 million people per year, half from the dangerous fossil fuel industry, and half from burning so called "renewable" biomass.   It is this simple fact that shows the mechanism by which nuclear energy saves lives.

If we spent the money that we now plan to squander on so called "renewable energy" - having learned our lesson on such squandering in the last half a century of renewable's failure to deliver even 2% of world energy - on nuclear instead, we might conceivable phase out dangerous fossil fuels all together.

Whatever nuclear subsidies have existed are only remarkable for having been way too small for the returns they have given.

By contrast, without coal mining, and oil and gas fracking, the wasteful, useless, and environmentally questionable so called "renewable" energy industry would collapse immediately.

The use of the offensive "welfare queen" term - which has been used to demonize poor people - shows how myopic the defenders of this fossil fuel marketing scheme - "renewable energy" - are, and how much contempt they hold for the three billion people on this planet who are living in miserable poverty despite the real opportunity that we have - using the finest form of energy ever discovered by the human race, nuclear energy - to provide decent lives for them.

August 27, 2014    View Comment