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  • #46
    Re: Oil Drilling

    Current technologies aren't waste. They need more development, though before we can successfully commercialize them. I don't know about better or not better than doing nothing. I don't think it matters. We need to do A LOT, and we need to start now.

    You are right, time is of the essence. I believe that we do have 30 to 50 years before oil becomes so scarce and the price so steep that the US can't afford it. A bigger problem in this regard is 'other' spending. By current estimates, in 35 years the only line item in the budget will be interest on the national debt. There will be no money for the Defense Department or social security or anything else. The President will not have any budget available to run the lights in the White House! Our economic problems are the reason we need to get after this NOW. We have to face things... the Treasury Department is already having trouble finding buyers for debt instruments. Continued irresponsible monetary policy by the Federal Reserve is certainly going to result in inflation, it only remains to see if it is terrible, or abysmal. We are not graduating science and engineering people at the rate we need - the US major universities have their math, science and engineering schools largely populated by foreign students (they see the absolute necessity for this, we prefer M-TV). Older guys in these fields are going to be retiring soon. The US is unlikely to suddenly change their stance toward outsourcing manufacturing. We are not growing new industries. The service economy amounts to low paying jobs flipping burgers and running cash registers. All this means - it is not going to be too long before we are unable to conduct a real alternate energy program. That is the urgency. We are in a "use it or lose it" circumstance.

    The government beauracracy is a disaster, no doubt about it. But all they need to do is write checks. The United States developed fission energy. We developed hydrogen fusion weapons. We have the finest and most complex military structure ever conceived. Weapons systems that do things that no one talks about but if they did, you wouldn't believe them. Nuclear ballistic missiles that can leave Iowa and hit a target on the other side of the world within two football fields. We have the ability to see a small truck from outer space. The U2 spy plane in 1960 was thought to be able to see a golf ball on a putting green at 80,000 feet. We went to the moon 41 years ago, largely with slide rules. Right now at Livermore, they have completed the worlds most powerful laser, a machine that is the size of an NFL football stadium, called the National Ignition Facility. It is geared for fusion research primarily, but other research, too. We invented and commercialized modern semiconductor electronics, and while we don't make much of it chips anymore, we make most of the high tech process equipment that enables Asian manufacturers to produce laptops and cell phones.

    Do I think the Government can do fusion? You kidding? Pelosi and Obama? Or the repubs either? No. These people couldn't manage the corner gas station. But they don't have to, we have plenty of scientists and engineers and system engineering people that give us a at least a shot at it. Best shot in the world. One thing the Gov't is good at is spending money, and that's what they have to do. There is at best a 50% chance that fusion will work. I worked on that Livermore project, and believe that the laser will achieve fusion, but that football stadium machine ignites a target the size of a tylenol gel-cap. We have a long way to go. We had tokamak reactors in the 1970s. We used to joke that "Fusion is the energy source of the future, and always will be." I don't know if it will work. But I would much rather try than give the money to the damn bankers who turn around and laugh at us. The science guys have a much better track record.

    There are plenty of other areas to work on besides fusion, including improving the current technologies. All of these show great promise and will generate lots of good, sustainable jobs. Seems like a better thing to me than a stimulus package where 40% of the money went to payroll for state civil servants.
    Last edited by Andy_M; 04-03-2010, 06:42 PM.

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    • #47
      Re: Oil Drilling

      I have two brothers and a son-on-law in Steam Generation so there is always a lot of talk regarding alternative energy. Most of them to date are not cost effective but are leading to new technology. The new thing to watch for will be neighborhood generation plants including steam fired and nuclear.

      Mark
      Last edited by ToUtahNow; 04-03-2010, 06:56 PM.
      "Somewhere a Village is Missing Twelve Idiots!" - Casey Anthony

      I never lost a cent on the jobs I didn't get!

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      • #48
        Re: Oil Drilling

        Originally posted by Andy_M View Post
        Technologies like solar panels are getting better, but they are not there yet. Take a look at this link:

        http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases...0220224901.htm

        You will find all sorts of other analyses that say they make sense, but it's all from those that want to sell you the panels. The fact is, if businesses, which are huge consumers of grid power, could be getting their electricity cheaper with photovoltaics they would be... no arm twisting needed. The ways to analyze the economics of these sorts of things is very well understood in business, they do it everytime they make a capital equipment buy. Since they aren't buying, you can be quite sure that it doesn't yet make sense to.

        Wind farms don't require large expanses of area. They require large expanses of area where the wind is unusually high on a consistent basis. And even at that the payback is not good.

        Government subsidies to encourage adoption of un-economically viable solutions don't make a lot of sense. The same public pays for it. What has been accomplished?

        Current average US electricity rates are about 12 cents per kw-hour. Gasoline is about $3. There is about 36.6 kw-hour of energy in a gallon of gasoline. So if you bought the equivalent of that gallon of energy from the grid, it would cost $4.40. Electric systems are better from an efficiency point of view than IC engines, so that the actual fuel cost per mile is better with the electric car, maybe 50% better. The cost of manufacture of the electric car, and the cost of replacement batteries, drives the cost hard the other way. Yes, there are people that might benefit from the electric vehicle *IF* the government subsidized it. But in the end what does that buy us? This is yet another redistribution of wealth scheme that costs the public but benefits only a relative few that can deal with the limitations of the current electric technology. Why is this acceptable when a tax on fuel, that by definition will cause the cost of alternate energy development to be borne in proportion of energy use by the actual users, is somehow not acceptable?

        Rather than play a shell game with subsidies, doesn't it make a whole lot more sense to invest your tax money in an overhaul of the complete energy picture that will actually solve the problem for most or all Americans? Government subsidies cost tax money that would be much better spent doing the basic work needed to solve the long term problems. We have cheap oil right now. There is no shortage, and we already pay less than the rest of the industrialized world. For cryin' out loud why the focus on 'cheap cheap cheap / let's do it now'??? Why dilly dally around with non-solutions?

        We pass out a trillion for a stimulus package that was politically motivated but few thought would work, but won't fund $100B for a huge scale fusion energy program that will not only create jobs TODAY but possible change the world in a very positive way forever??? Am I missing something or is this madness??

        In addition to immediate creation of jobs, a large scale alternate energy industry will create and sustain millions of high paying jobs in every area from science and engineering all the way to people rebuilding the transmission grids. The only unhappy folks would be the oil companies. And the OPECers. And when oil prices shoot through the roof for the rest of the world, United States industry will be enjoying a very substantial competitive advantage thanks to the investment we make today. Kind of like China's cheap labor advantage - we can't compete there because we don't have a billion workers that will work for $1 an hour, but what w are very good at is science and technlogy. Wouldn't it be nice if, for a change, to feel like leaders again?

        Quick and painless solutions may be quick and painless but they won't be solutions. Reality is that weaning our country off of foreign oil will take a massive effort. It won't be cheap but it will cost less than wars and current Governnment waste on utter idiocy. There isn't enough money or time available to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic... it's time to solve the problem for real.


        Absolutely dead on target post there Andy. Most of the people pushing wind and solar technologies are destined to reap huge profits from government incentives state and federal. Bottom line is that while research needs to continue, these technologies are not yet commercially viable. Never forget the money trail. It's always about the money.
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        • #49
          Re: Oil Drilling

          Originally posted by NHMaster3015 View Post
          Absolutely dead on target post there Andy. Most of the people pushing wind and solar technologies are destined to reap huge profits from government incentives state and federal. Bottom line is that while research needs to continue, these technologies are not yet commercially viable. Never forget the money trail. It's always about the money.
          You mean all those windmill farms are not producing electricity and losing money? All the homes with solar panels don't work?

          I don't know what folks are making a killing but the money trail I clearly see is our dollars going to big oil and terrorists who want to kill us. We are sitting ducks waiting for the price of gasoline and heating oil to go wherever thsoe in charge want.

          Government incentive? I want the government to flat out pay for most of the cost! If we can throw money at foreign countries, bribe politicians to win votes, and bailout millionaires, we sure as hell can afford to make alternative energy affordable.

          The GM EV1 worked according to many people who "leased" them, but they were recalled and crushed! That was with lead acid technology. The plugin hybrids of today work, their range is more than most folks need and the only reason they are not affordable is the low production volume, attitude of the consumer and I believe influence of big oil.

          By all means follow the money, it will take you to big oil and your trusted politicians on both sides of the aisle. Watch "who killed the electric car" and tell me I'm wrong. On a sunny day like today, if I had solar panels my electric meter would be spinning backwards putting energy back into the grid and lowering my monthly bill.

          IF we don't do something soon to employ Americans, reduce our consumption of foreign goods and oil, I think we are pretty much sunk.

          You guys really think we have time for more research or oil exploration?
          Not with our government.

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          • #50
            Re: Oil Drilling

            Originally posted by Frankiarmz View Post
            You mean all those windmill farms are not producing electricity and losing money? All the homes with solar panels don't work?

            I don't know what folks are making a killing but the money trail I clearly see is our dollars going to big oil and terrorists who want to kill us. We are sitting ducks waiting for the price of gasoline and heating oil to go wherever thsoe in charge want.

            Government incentive? I want the government to flat out pay for most of the cost! If we can throw money at foreign countries, bribe politicians to win votes, and bailout millionaires, we sure as hell can afford to make alternative energy affordable.

            The GM EV1 worked according to many people who "leased" them, but they were recalled and crushed! That was with lead acid technology. The plugin hybrids of today work, their range is more than most folks need and the only reason they are not affordable is the low production volume, attitude of the consumer and I believe influence of big oil.

            By all means follow the money, it will take you to big oil and your trusted politicians on both sides of the aisle. Watch "who killed the electric car" and tell me I'm wrong. On a sunny day like today, if I had solar panels my electric meter would be spinning backwards putting energy back into the grid and lowering my monthly bill.

            IF we don't do something soon to employ Americans, reduce our consumption of foreign goods and oil, I think we are pretty much sunk.

            You guys really think we have time for more research or oil exploration?
            Not with our government.
            We have a bunch of wind farms around here and they all started out as a big tax-dodge. Each windmill is owned by a separate corporation (group of investors) and the windmills wore out before they paid dividends.

            At the same time the Federal Government was heavily subsidizing solar water heating. Every plumber in town was invited to a cocktail party type presentation into selling solar. Solar hot water was the ticket and the solar companies did well as long as the subsidies keep coming in. Soon the subsidies died and so did the solar companies. When your solar system broke down your original company was long gone and the new guy insisted you buy a complete new system to repair it.

            As bad as some of this stuff was what it did was it helped to improve the technology. I still don't think we are quite there yet but I think we are getting real close. Manufacturing and technologies are getting better every day. But even in a perfect world, this is a really long turn investment in energy.

            Mark
            Last edited by ToUtahNow; 04-04-2010, 10:32 AM.
            "Somewhere a Village is Missing Twelve Idiots!" - Casey Anthony

            I never lost a cent on the jobs I didn't get!

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            • #51
              Re: Oil Drilling

              Tax dodges are a bad thing?

              When all the easy oil has been pumped from the ground, and our military is no longer protecting the supply lines in the middle east, we will see a seismic shift in our energy costs, as will every one else.

              The EV1 was an extremely popular vehicle that offered a very good solution for most consumers. Since then, battery technology has advanced considerably.

              And battery technology is the heart of any energy policy. Converting wave, geothermal, wind and solar into power will require better battery technology.

              NASA's Mars rovers managed to last far, far longer than planned because their solar panels were cutting edge technology. Scaling this technology is the next step. The panels are able to process multiple wave lengths of light while traditional panels are limited to a single wave length. The advantage this creates is the panels produce several more times output than traditional panels.

              Germany has invested heavily in a distributed solar energy system.

              There's more than one way to skin a rabbit. Economic viability is an all to convenient excuse to not pursue alternatives that we know we will need in the relatively near future. Better to work out the bugs now while we still have room for error.

              Imagine the economic advantage the US manufacturing base would have over China if our energy costs are less than theirs? Or at least we can let their army keep the supply lines open and suffer the wrath of Al Qaeda. In less eloquent terms it's called putting the turd in their pocket.

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              • #52
                Re: Oil Drilling

                Originally posted by Frankiarmz View Post
                You guys really think we have time for more research or oil exploration?
                Not with our government.
                Yes, absolutely - on the research part. The oil exploration thing is a waste of time in my opinion.

                Every thing that you can point to that the government has done that worked resulted from an orderly (in some cases urgent) development process.

                Everything that has been a fiasco has resulted from the government mindlessly tossing money at a problem and hoping that something good would result. In just the past couple years we've seen trillions expended in this way. To what end?

                Just a quick aside on the oil drilling... it also seems to me that it's much smarter to leave 'ours' in the ground and burn 'theirs', especially when theirs is selling for cheap as it is today. Ours is going to be worth a heck of a lot more 50 years from now than it is today and we will probably need it for aircraft, plastics, pharmaceuticals, etc.

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                • #53
                  Re: Oil Drilling

                  Originally posted by SpiffPeters View Post
                  Tax dodges are a bad thing?
                  Yes. Legitimate tax breaks are fine. 'Dodges' transfer tax burden to everyone else based on a scam. We had the same thing Mark describes here in the late 70s through the mid 80s. In this case, investors were sold a bill of goods about the wind farms. Most lost and in many cases the IRS denied the tax breaks.


                  Originally posted by SpiffPeters View Post
                  When all the easy oil has been pumped from the ground, and our military is no longer protecting the supply lines in the middle east, we will see a seismic shift in our energy costs, as will every one else.
                  Yes.

                  Originally posted by SpiffPeters View Post
                  NASA's Mars rovers managed to last far, far longer than planned because their solar panels were cutting edge technology.
                  Not really. They lasted longer than planned because spacecraft are always designed very very conservatively. The cost of a service call is high. In the case of solar panels (all, not just NASAs), there is a large standard deviation in the lifetime. To ensure that the device will function long enough to complete the mission, all the components in the craft are designed in consideration of the failure rate statistics so that in the worst case, the machine will last long enough. They fully expected the panels to last much longer than the design life. If the failure rate data was gaussian, the expectation was probably 3x-6x longer (not really an expectation so much as aconsideration of the probable lifetime) than planned, and no one would be terribly shocked to see them running longer than that. But it makes for great press releases.

                  It's a problem with solar cells today. Some perform better than others. NASA scraps those, but you probably can't afford to do that. Some degrade or die too quickly. To be a viable product, the performance and failure rate statistics need to be much more consistent.

                  Originally posted by SpiffPeters View Post
                  The panels are able to process multiple wave lengths of light while traditional panels are limited to a single wave length. The advantage this creates is the panels produce several more times output than traditional panels.
                  Your point is okay, but your statements are not quite true. Current PV cells are optimized to be more efficient at one wavelength, but it isn't true that they 'process' only at a single wavength.

                  The technology to be very efficient at multiple wavelengths isn't magic, but it's expensive. Few homeowners can afford NASA PV panels today, but you're right -- with some work the state of the art could well advance to that point and likely fairly quickly.

                  Originally posted by SpiffPeters View Post
                  Economic viability is an all to convenient excuse to not pursue alternatives that we know we will need in the relatively near future. Better to work out the bugs now while we still have room for error.
                  I don't think the discussion is about not developing the technologies based on their current lack of viability. It's about large scale implementation of current technologies that are still not economically viable. Big difference.

                  The problem is that the finance rules of the game do not incentivize the private sector to make the massive investment needed to develop the technology. Which is why the pace is maddeningly slow or in some cases stopped. A lot of this is only going to happen with public money - the overall rate of return isn't there, and risk is too high, for private business to fund it.

                  Frank is arguing in favor of adoption of current technology, at public expense. I favor using public money to develop the technology to the point where it is viable.

                  In the end, everything always boils down to economics.

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                  • #54
                    Re: Oil Drilling

                    The government sent men to the moon and back again. Several times.

                    Government research is vital to our very survival. Look what the medical researchers have done with DNA. They patent genes. There are arguments for and against this practice. While a recent court ruling went against industry, this will ultimately go to the supreme court. Given the courts sympathetic views on corporations, a ruling favoring private interests does not seem unlikely.

                    Without the FCC, one entity could own the entire radio wave spectrum. Any device emitting radio waves would be subject to private industry control. Pay a fee for using the specific spectrum, or perhaps no amount of money would make that spectrum available because the owner of the spectrum had a competing interest.

                    Government funded research allows the findings to be available to all. And we need to get on the stick quickly.

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                    • #55
                      Re: Oil Drilling

                      Originally posted by Andy_M View Post
                      Yes. Legitimate tax breaks are fine. 'Dodges' transfer tax burden to everyone else based on a scam. We had the same thing Mark describes here in the late 70s through the mid 80s. In this case, investors were sold a bill of goods about the wind farms. Most lost and in many cases the IRS denied the tax breaks.




                      Yes.



                      Not really. They lasted longer than planned because spacecraft are always designed very very conservatively. The cost of a service call is high. In the case of solar panels (all, not just NASAs), there is a large standard deviation in the lifetime. To ensure that the device will function long enough to complete the mission, all the components in the craft are designed in consideration of the failure rate statistics so that in the worst case, the machine will last long enough. They fully expected the panels to last much longer than the design life. If the failure rate data was gaussian, the expectation was probably 3x-6x longer (not really an expectation so much as aconsideration of the probable lifetime) than planned, and no one would be terribly shocked to see them running longer than that. But it makes for great press releases.

                      It's a problem with solar cells today. Some perform better than others. NASA scraps those, but you probably can't afford to do that. Some degrade or die too quickly. To be a viable product, the performance and failure rate statistics need to be much more consistent.



                      Your point is okay, but your statements are not quite true. Current PV cells are optimized to be more efficient at one wavelength, but it isn't true that they 'process' only at a single wavength.

                      The technology to be very efficient at multiple wavelengths isn't magic, but it's expensive. Few homeowners can afford NASA PV panels today, but you're right -- with some work the state of the art could well advance to that point and likely fairly quickly.



                      I don't think the discussion is about not developing the technologies based on their current lack of viability. It's about large scale implementation of current technologies that are still not economically viable. Big difference.

                      The problem is that the finance rules of the game do not incentivize the private sector to make the massive investment needed to develop the technology. Which is why the pace is maddeningly slow or in some cases stopped. A lot of this is only going to happen with public money - the overall rate of return isn't there, and risk is too high, for private business to fund it.

                      Frank is arguing in favor of adoption of current technology, at public expense. I favor using public money to develop the technology to the point where it is viable.

                      In the end, everything always boils down to economics.
                      Andy, great post. I would prefer research for much better technology, but given a choice between more inaction, fluctuating oil prices, and ramping up cheaper, widely used alternatives, yes I am advocating the latter.

                      I know research and practical application of viable alternatives probably won't happen, we are just too set in our ways and dependant on politicians who are in the pocket of big oil.

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                      • #56
                        Re: Oil Drilling

                        Frankie, sure those windmills produce electricity but what you have to do is take the production and back out the cost along with the long term projections and unfortunately when the numbers are run, they all loose more money than they make. As far as solar (hydronic) panels are concerned they are pretty much in the same boat. Down south they perform well but when you begin adding up the operational and maintenance costs associated with them it turns out that solar panels, even in the best of conditions do not quite perform as well as say an electric water heater does in the long term. AndyM has a better handle of photo voltaics than I do, but I've been in the solar (hydronic) industry since the early 70's and though the panels are a bit more efficient, nothing has really changed.
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                        • #57
                          Re: Oil Drilling

                          Originally posted by NHMaster3015 View Post
                          Frankie, sure those windmills produce electricity but what you have to do is take the production and back out the cost along with the long term projections and unfortunately when the numbers are run, they all loose more money than they make. As far as solar (hydronic) panels are concerned they are pretty much in the same boat. Down south they perform well but when you begin adding up the operational and maintenance costs associated with them it turns out that solar panels, even in the best of conditions do not quite perform as well as say an electric water heater does in the long term. AndyM has a better handle of photo voltaics than I do, but I've been in the solar (hydronic) industry since the early 70's and though the panels are a bit more efficient, nothing has really changed.
                          Well, that's dam depressing! Obviously if you guys know what you are talking about(and I don't doubt that) then certainly President Obama had the same information when he promised all those green jobs and alternative energy options to cut foreign oil and employ Americans?

                          You're not telling me he lied, are you? Okay, the alternatives don't exist yet, now what happens? Are we sunk???

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                          • #58
                            Re: Oil Drilling

                            Originally posted by Frankiarmz View Post
                            Well, that's dam depressing! Obviously if you guys know what you are talking about(and I don't doubt that) then certainly President Obama had the same information when he promised all those green jobs and alternative energy options to cut foreign oil and employ Americans?

                            You're not telling me he lied, are you? Okay, the alternatives don't exist yet, now what happens? Are we sunk???
                            I think the message might be Barrack is not a magic negro. http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/tu...-days-23-hours starting at 2:30

                            It would be wonderful if overnight the president could sweep in green energy alternatives overnight, change the way Americans live and instantly drop foreign oil as a source of energy. But the rest of the government and the people of the country have a role to play there too. Without their support they are meaningless idea's

                            The technology needs time. The industry is growing. The president hasn't even proposed his energy policy. There are many that will oppose his promises "of all those green jobs and alternative energy options to cut foreign oil and employ Americans" In hopes to gain support from that opposition he's offering some of the alternatives they've proposed. That game of politics 'give something, get something'. I personally think he's an idiot thinking he's going to get something.

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                            • #59
                              Re: Oil Drilling

                              Originally posted by boytyperanma View Post
                              I think the message might be Barrack is not a magic negro. http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/tu...-days-23-hours starting at 2:30

                              It would be wonderful if overnight the president could sweep in green energy alternatives overnight, change the way Americans live and instantly drop foreign oil as a source of energy. But the rest of the government and the people of the country have a role to play there too. Without their support they are meaningless idea's

                              The technology needs time. The industry is growing. The president hasn't even proposed his energy policy. There are many that will oppose his promises "of all those green jobs and alternative energy options to cut foreign oil and employ Americans" In hopes to gain support from that opposition he's offering some of the alternatives they've proposed. That game of politics 'give something, get something'. I personally think he's an idiot thinking he's going to get something.
                              I never expected miracles from the President, it took a long time for things to get this bad. I am still hopeful we will see some of the things he promised, and at least begin some sort of road to recovery and a brighter future.

                              I don't care about the republicans being angered or placated, we the people are the ones who need to see some positive results. I really don't want to vote in the republcians for many reasons, but if the best we get from President Obama is higher taxes from the heathcare reform bill, he and the dems are in major trouble.

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                              • #60
                                Re: Oil Drilling

                                As for windmills, solar cells and solar panels we just plain simply need to stop wasting resources manufacturing technology that does not produce solely for the purpose of procuring federal rebate and incentive money. Research is where the money needs to go. It is bizarre to me that you can start up a factory that makes stuff that does not work, get money from the government and then sell the stuff to people who will also get money from the government and it still does not work. welcome to the welfare state.
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