free html hit counter Peak Oil Debunked: 351. BALLOON MIRRORS FOR SOLAR POWER

Sunday, May 04, 2008

351. BALLOON MIRRORS FOR SOLAR POWER

Generally, I don't focus on day-to-day developments in new energy R&D. That role is admirably played by Jim Fraser's Energy Blog -- an excellent source for news on EVs, batteries, solar power and numerous other important topics relating to the ongoing energy transition.

Today, however, I'd like to focus on a very interesting new approach to CSP (concentrating solar power) which Jim hasn't covered yet. As long time readers know, I am a big fan of low-tech think-outside-the-box concepts, and this new technique is a classic example.

The idea is simple: Use mylar balloons as the mirrors in a CSP installation. Like so:


This technology is currently being developed and commercialized by Cool Earth Solar and has numerous advantages over conventional PV and CSP:
  • 25x cheaper installed than solar panels.
  • Inflatable mirrors are 400x cheaper than the polished aluminum mirrors used in conventional CSP plants.
  • Rigging: Requires about 60x less steel than truss work, and minimal grounds preparation.
  • Balloons can be installed on elevated rigging, for minimal impact on land use and habitat.
  • Rapid scalability and installation.
More detail on the Cool Earth product can be found in this pdf and this video. The design philosophy was farsighted and clever. The aim was to minimize material use, weight and installation time, and thereby maximize scalability. How fast can you set-up solar power installations of this type? I'm thinking damn fast. You could probably pack a few thousand of those balloons into one semi truck. There's a truly huge difference between churning out square kilometers of polished aluminum, and churning out square kilometers of mylar.
by JD

33 Comments:

At Sunday, May 4, 2008 at 8:04:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is an interesting idea, indeed.

However, mylar mirrors are problematic, it'll lose it's reflectivity much quicker than aluminum, as it's not very durable, and exposure to elements will take its toll, and I believe it's not as reflective as aluminum to begin with.

Raphael.

 
At Sunday, May 4, 2008 at 8:18:00 PM PDT, Blogger JD said...

If you leave a comment, please use the Name/URL option (you don't have to register, just type in a name), or sign a screen-name at the bottom if you use the anon option (like Raphael above). The conversation is easier to follow if we don't have multiple anons.
Thank you, JD.

 
At Monday, May 5, 2008 at 2:33:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Luis Dias said...

Al Fin had covered this, and so has Next Big Future.

Also two great blogs about new energy companies.

 
At Monday, May 5, 2008 at 7:57:00 AM PDT, Blogger bc said...

luis, I think your Al Fin link is broken.

I didn't find anything about mylar balloons in those blogs, but I'll take your word for it.

I'm wondering about durability too, but if they are cheap maybe you just replace them.

Solar power is a field ripe for innovation. Certainly there is a great deal of basic R&D that can be done even before the manufacturing guys apply volumes of scale.

 
At Monday, May 5, 2008 at 2:58:00 PM PDT, Anonymous luis Dias said...

Yes, BC. Here is his blog.

www.alfin2100.blogspot.com

Next Big Future has it covered here, though it doesn't hit front page, because coolearth is not exactly fresh news. Coverage of israeli research is fresh news.

http://nextbigfuture.com/2008/04/solar-power-breakthroughs-sunrgi-7.html

 
At Monday, May 5, 2008 at 3:17:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Nick G said...

"I'm wondering about durability too, but if they are cheap maybe you just replace them."

Yes, on the company's website they say they expect to replace them annually. They say this is extremely cost-effective.

 
At Monday, May 5, 2008 at 5:11:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Much to do about durability. This comment may be personal but I want to prove a point. A half dozen years ago I had hernia surgury. One side the first year and the other side a year later. The fist surgery was paid by one insurance policy and a 1 inch by 4 inch mylar reinforcement was in place. The second was paid by another much cheaper policy. Same surgeon but no mylar. It has to be done again. J.C., Sr.

 
At Monday, May 5, 2008 at 5:32:00 PM PDT, Anonymous David Mathews said...

Eh ... JD, do you have any opinions regarding WTI reaching $120 a barrel today?

Come on, JD! Let's hear some Peak Oil Debunking.

I'd just like to know ... how much more expensive will oil have to get before you realize that we're going to experience some sort of catastrophe?

***

JD stopped debunking Peak Oil when oil crossed $100 a barrel!

 
At Monday, May 5, 2008 at 6:18:00 PM PDT, Blogger JD said...

Hi Dave,
Funny you should say that. When I first tuned into peak oil in 2004, oil was around $40 a barrel, and everybody was sure that $60 or $80 or $100 oil would absolutely devastate the world economy.That's not just peak oilers. Most mainstream economists believed the same thing.

Well, here we are at $120, and the world as a whole is still growing at a rapid clip. Even in the face of $120 oil, the airline industry is still growing -- more slowly, yes, but still growing fast:
"Geneva - The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced global scheduled international traffic data for March. Compared to the same month in the previous year, passenger demand increased 5.8% with load factors at 77.7%. Freight traffic grew 3.2%." Source

Those are powerful arguments for the optimist case. Those who said that high oil prices aren't that big of a deal have been largely proven right -- much to the consternation of both peak oilers and mainstream economists who thought the economy was much more sensitive to oil shock.

The empirical evidence shows that the world economy can handle high oil prices far better than expected. Various explanations have been put forth for this counterintuitive, but real phenomenon. What's yours Dave?

 
At Monday, May 5, 2008 at 6:42:00 PM PDT, Blogger JD said...

Coverage of israeli research is fresh news.

Here's a better link to the Next Big Future article. I like the idea of high-altitude solar, but the Israeli idea isn't scalable or sustainable due to its dependence on helium. If they could manage using hydrogen for lift, then it might be a worthwhile idea.

 
At Monday, May 5, 2008 at 7:47:00 PM PDT, Anonymous david mathews said...

Hello JD,

Well, here we are at $120, and the world as a whole is still growing at a rapid clip.

That's great. JD. If the world is still growing at a rapid clip @ $120 a barrel that only means that it won't take oil so very long to reach $180 a barrel.

I am very much in favor of oil becoming extremely expensive as soon as possible.

Growth is going to slow down and stop. Don't you know ... a car doesn't stop moving the moment of first impact with a brick wall!

The empirical evidence shows that the world economy can handle high oil prices far better than expected.

I think that the above claim is nothing more than a delusion which is not based upon any sort of empirical evidence at all. Let's wait and see what happens in the months ahead. Then we can form an opinion about how well the world can handle $120 a barrel oil.

I suspect that our economy is going to die. I am very much in favor of our economy dying. The sooner that technological civilization ends, the better!

 
At Monday, May 5, 2008 at 9:50:00 PM PDT, Anonymous RC said...

david mathews,

Don't be an idiot. Before you comment, please read every entry in this blog before you make a fool out of yourself. JD does maintain that Peak Oil is real and may have already occurred. Peak Oil Debunked is not about that, it is about debunking all of the nonsense that goes along with it such as collapse of world economies, 5 billion people dying, and society going back to the stone age.

High oil prices do not equal a catastrophe. It will spur the development of alternative energy sources. High oil prices will get governments to start preparing for post-oil futures (intelligent countries are already preparing for this). Did you know that almost 50% of U.S. oil usage is from light trucks and cars. With rail and bus systems we can cut that by a large portion.

Reduced oil usage does not hurt economic growth. Germany and France both continued economic growth despite using less oil in recent years. Economies are not reliant on oil as their sole source of energy for growth. Growth can come through a myriad of energy sources and techniques.

Why is the end of technological civilization good? There is a lot of drawbacks to our current economic system including inequality, waste, inefficient uses of resources, but as a whole humanity is better off now than 500 years ago, don't you think?

I could go on forever, but I think it could take days. Read the rest of this blog and don't be a doomer tool.

 
At Monday, May 5, 2008 at 11:22:00 PM PDT, Blogger JD said...

rc,
That's a good summary, thanks. But it won't do any good for Dave. Dave is a lonely troll/moron/religious nut who pops in here from time to time to regale us with Bible quotes, the absolute truth, heart-warming anecdotes about sea life, and other spam.

Dave,
Terribly sorry, but the management here at POD has just informed me that you have a quota of 3 comments for this thread, and you've already used up two. Best wishes for making that last comment a doozy! JD

 
At Tuesday, May 6, 2008 at 1:11:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Luis Dias said...

Not sure what you are talking about there, JD. I was talking about new research in PVs, where

"The reactive element in the researchers' patent pending device is genetically engineered proteins using photosynthesis for production of electrical energy"

and SUNRGI with its 7cents/KWh power.

Link.

 
At Tuesday, May 6, 2008 at 1:56:00 AM PDT, Blogger JD said...

Luis,
I was talking about the solar balloons from Technion University mentioned in the Next Big Future article. Details on that are here.

But like I said. It's a dumb idea because it depends on helium.

 
At Tuesday, May 6, 2008 at 5:02:00 AM PDT, Anonymous david mathews said...

Hello RC,

Why is the end of technological civilization good? There is a lot of drawbacks to our current economic system including inequality, waste, inefficient uses of resources, but as a whole humanity is better off now than 500 years ago, don't you think?

The end of technological civilization is good because it represents the end of humankind's worst phase of destructiveness.

As to the question of whether humankind is better off than 500 years ago, of course.

A more important question: Will humankind be better off 500 years from now?

And the answer to that question is: No. The hangover from this era's excesses will curse humankind from an extremely long time.

And another good question: Is the Earth better off because of humankind's work?

And the answer is: No. Humans are treating the Earth like a sewer from our own pollution. Humans are behaving like the worst sort of squatters on a planetary scale.

Then JD says:

Terribly sorry, but the management here at POD has just informed me that you have a quota of 3 comments for this thread, and you've already used up two. Best wishes for making that last comment a doozy!

JD's a sad sort of person, isn't he? his blind faith in humankind's progress is failing. Science & Technology are failing. The promised techno-utopia isn't ever going to materialize.

Our civilization is ending but JD cannot handle reality. JD's a man of faith. He may not believe in God but he has an irrational faith in Humankind.

So JD has constructed an entire mythology about how humankind will solve all every problem and our species will keep on prospering and existing forever.

Nothing can break JD's faith in his own religion. Reality is harsh, the future is bleak, and humankind is an animal headed to extinction.

 
At Tuesday, May 6, 2008 at 5:49:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Luscious said...

For a doozy I don't believe Dave's final comment reached expectations! I'm convinced that Peak Oil debunked is not the genre of blog where modern day Luddites can search for comfort.

 
At Tuesday, May 6, 2008 at 7:00:00 AM PDT, Blogger JD said...

Nice post Dave. Very thought provoking. How long did it take you to type that up? 10 minutes? It took me about 1 second to delete it. :-)

 
At Tuesday, May 6, 2008 at 8:39:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Luis Dias said...

"Want TRUTH? You can't HANDLE the truth!"

Always amazes me the righteous tone of these zealots.

 
At Tuesday, May 6, 2008 at 10:39:00 AM PDT, Blogger bc said...

Super-troll Dave Matthews writes:

"I suspect that our economy is going to die."

"I think that the above claim is nothing more than a delusion which is not based upon any sort of empirical evidence at all."

No further comment required ;)

 
At Tuesday, May 6, 2008 at 12:23:00 PM PDT, Anonymous corvid said...

Watch out, JD. Dave Mathews cyberstalked Robert Rapier.

http://i-r-squared.blogspot.com/2008/02/exxon-freezes-venezuelan-assets.html

Read further down after the Venezuela stuff.

 
At Tuesday, May 6, 2008 at 1:22:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Luis Dias said...

I got to read this last nonsense from DaveTroll. How long until JD deletes it? Bets are off!

 
At Tuesday, May 6, 2008 at 1:53:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Freak Oil said...

David Matthews said -

"Homo sapiens are the last green leaf on a dead branch of the evolutionary tree. The leaf boasts against the entire tree: "I don't need Nature to survive, I've got technology!"

Soon enough, though, Nature will become weary of the foolish leaf and its boasting. The leaf will wither. The leaf will fall from the tree.

The future of humankind is already determined: Humankind will end. Nature will endure.

Nature is four billion years old. The primate is only 100,000 years old. Which one of these do you think is essential?"




Entropy dictates that nothingness will endure after nature has ceased.....so after humankind dies-suffers-nukes out will you take whatever is left of your quasi-corporeal existance and go after the animals next telling them in dolphin language about how the sun will eventually become a supernova and all is lost, or beyond that will you travel to other planets
(I assume you can do this since you are obviously some kind of ethereal entity other that human who has some kind of right to sit in judgement over the rest of us)

will you move out into the vastness of space prognosticating to any coherent forms of matter or energy about the pointlessness of their continued existence?

For Christ's sake man either STFU or get to a Psychiatrist!

You might be right, we might be screwed we may all die.....but part of being alive is dealing with the possibility of death from an infinite number of causes everyday!
PEAK OIL doesn't cause someone to choke to death on a half eaten piece of breakfast sausage!!!
WHAT IS THE POINT IN FIXATING AND SHAMING, AND BLAMING about something that in your belief is inevitable? The doomers might be right.....it's possible........but even the most simplistic organisms on this planet at least attempt to survive....What is wrong with you!!! Creepy Weirdo, why don't you go try to start a cult somewhere where you might find someone either as like minded or ill as you are and stop bothering everyone over here!


JD, I am sorry for losing my temper on your blog here but this guy needs to be in a hospital, he seems like some fatalistic megalomaniac and it's counter productive to the whole point of this blog.
an intelligent topic gets brought up and then he drops one of his absurd doom bombs and it ends the rational discussion. This whole "man doesn't deserve to live" argument is Godwin's law for practical discussion of how to get out of this peak oil trap.

 
At Tuesday, May 6, 2008 at 2:19:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Freak Oil said...

ok, we're going extinct....

You win, now that you proved your point, piss off!

 
At Tuesday, May 6, 2008 at 2:55:00 PM PDT, Blogger Dezakin said...

Which is why the present circumstance -- i.e., the Earth dominated by an intelligent, tool-making, planet-destroying, suicidal primate -- so very unusual in the history of the Earth.

Its a hell of a lot more interesting than the vast majority of the earths history when it was either dominated by pond scum and when things got really advanced, life forms whos high point of the day was taking a good dump.

You've just got stupid values issues. You think pond scum and horseshit is great and I think its lame. But take comfort in the realization that you'll die of old age thinking you'll be right in the end.

 
At Tuesday, May 6, 2008 at 7:04:00 PM PDT, Anonymous greenneck said...

From JD:

"The empirical evidence shows that the world economy can handle high oil prices far better than expected."

That's true enough. However, oil still remains relatively cheap. We'll see how things are if it doubles yet again in the next few months or years.

In any event, there is a big difference between fossil fuels being available at a high price, and shortages/rationing. We're not there yet. This will be the real test.

JD, you say you can live without oil, and I commend your lifestyle, and the fact you put your money where your mouth is (I do a similar thing, with the added challenge of living in a rural area in northern Ontario). But the fact remains, both you and I are still taking part in a world economy that is utterly dependent on fossil fuels. Since the cornucopian point of view has the upper hand (face it, you're debunking the lunatic fringe; most economists and capitalists are totally on your side, or even more optimistic), we're woefully unprepared for what's coming.

I'm all for the alternate technologies you present here, and have implemented some myself, but the fact is, most people can't afford them. That's why they limp along with their car even as gasoline prices skyrocket. And the only salvation for high prices is for the FED to prop the dollar, which will kill the economy anyway. Talk about being between a rock and a hard place!

 
At Wednesday, May 7, 2008 at 3:06:00 AM PDT, Anonymous stuck in Shizuoka said...

Like you JD, I have long admired and generally savoured, the ease with which one can live "car-free" here in Japan. Yearly trips back to Canada reaffirm this for me, and, generally, I have been quite content in Japan using the train, my three bicycles, and having a farmer's market, a train station, and my workplace all within 20 minutes of my home.

However, after a four month switch of my research in linguistics over to oil depletion and energy matters in general, I am not nearly as sanguine as you seem to be about the future of the economy here in Japan. In short, I would like to hear why you believe Japan, with its complete dependence on imported oil and natural gas and its "car crazy" culture--as you pointed out recently yourself--and the lowest level of food self-sufficiency of any of the G8 (or was it G20?) can weather the coming price increases in crude oil?

I have my own opinions on this, and on peak oil in general, but I'm wondering how you have as much faith as you seem to have given Japan's energy-deficient fragile economy (as Vaclav Smil put it).

If only those recent advances in methane hydrate extraction had started in earnest 10-12 years ago......

Thanks in advance.

 
At Wednesday, May 7, 2008 at 5:53:00 AM PDT, Blogger goritsas said...

rc,

“along with it such as collapse of world economies, 5 billion people dying, and society going back to the stone age.”

As for the economies bit (I do understand we’re talking about production peaking, but thought I’d broaden the scope slightly), I don’t know if we’re that far away from such conditions. We’ll have a much clearer view by the end of this year I suspect, but right now I wouldn’t bet against depression in the U.S. and at least a deep recession in the EU. The current round of asset devaluation and balance sheet write downs is a long way from being over. Trillions of dollars worth of derivatives have still to be unwound and that may be the tipping point as the chain of counter parties defaults in domino fashion. Not forgetting the price inflation that seems to be affecting just about every country in the world. Right now I’m definitely leaning towards recession and contraction, not growth and expansion.

I have my doubts about 5 billion dying. On the other hand it might just depend on the period of time we’re considering and our overall response to not just Peak Oil production, but to the complex interactions between fossil fuels, agriculture, finance, production, distribution, water scarcity, possible permanent changes in previously well defined weather patterns and the apparent rise in both extreme and extra-seasonal weather, the continuing net loss of tropical and temperate forests, apparently accelerating species loss, and so on. Could 5 billion bite the dust as a result of these and other sundry changes in the ecosystem we’ve come to rely upon? What’s the probability that such changes may significantly alter the ecology of the joint and make it just that much smaller in terms of human habitat demands?

Personally, I can’t see us headed back to the stone age. Whatever happens we’re not actually going to run out of oil for an awfully long time. And I don’t think it likely we’re going to forget all the biology and chemistry and physics we’ve leaned to this point in time simply because oil production has peaked and is in terminal decline. Maybe if the decline goads us into grand large scale wars destroying wide swaths of dry land we’ll be on our way back to Olduvai, but I’m not expecting it anytime soon. Having said that, nuclear weapons have been used twice before so maybe as there’s prior art… That doesn’t mean it’s still party on dudes time here on the ranch. A decline in oil production will have an effect on scarcity, for the poorest first and then working its way up the ladder of privilege. As will the decline in gas production. There’s a goodly number of us in the OECD that rely on gas for both heating and electricity. Decreased availability may force us to choose between heat and light at some point in the relatively near future. Here in the UK it already has for the poor and the elderly.

Right now, in the absence of something truly compelling to motivate OECD residents to conserve as they never have before, and to research and develop as they may never have before, the problem of what to do about oil is going to remain just that, a problem.

“High oil prices do not equal a catastrophe. It will spur the development of alternative energy sources. High oil prices will get governments to start preparing for post-oil futures (intelligent countries are already preparing for this).”

Well, how high will these high prices need to get to before we see this spurred development of alternative energy sources? While mylar balloons are a pretty nifty idea, I’m not entirely convinced, yet, that between those and a chicken in every pot all will be well. While there are companies out there doing innovative work in many areas, so far not one technology has proven itself sufficiently in a widespread context, say the OECD, to give me any great confidence we won’t see much more of the same until much more of the same just won’t be possible. Will mylar balloons strung out between the houses in my close and two or three good sized turbines slap bang in the middle of the close be enough? Will it be reliable? Will we be able to get replacement balloons? What if there’s a run on mylar because of a huge and previously hidden children’s parties demand for floating decorations?

As for governments preparing, where? Sure, there’s the initiative here and the initiative there, but from what I can see no country is currently in the position to claim with any degree of believability that they will be able to replace even 30% of their fossil fuel consumption with something other than oil, gas, or coal within a decade. I remain sceptical of both the market and governments to make any worthwhile contribution. Market participants aren’t going to get involved until the credit crunch eases as these boys always use other people’s money, never their own. Governments aren’t likely to do much more than act as cheerleaders for these market participants, since they’re going to need jobs when their time in public office comes to an end. But please, feel free to give me reasons to suggest I’m wrong. I’m not trying to be pessimistic, just making what I believe is a realistic assessment of the situation. An assessment that leads me to believe we’ll not see the widespread rollout of alternatives to fossil fuels in the absence a much greater degree of suffering. Suffering first, then action. In the absence of suffering, business as usual.

 
At Wednesday, May 7, 2008 at 6:07:00 AM PDT, Blogger JD said...

Hi Shizuoka, welcome to POD.

Japan is primarily dependent on oil for personal transport by car, but probably 95% of that oil demand isn't actually necessary. People in the city can travel by train, bus, bicycle, scooter etc. Or telecommute. People in the suburbs and country can combine trips, or drive electric scooters/bikes (and ride the train for long-distance trips). The islands are well situated for highly efficient domestic and international ocean shipping. The nationwide rail system is already in place. I can't think of a better country in terms of existing oil conservation capacity and transportation logistics. As the oil price increases, places like Japan can make substantial cuts quickly, and act as a shock absorber for more deeply dependent countries like the U.S.

At the same time, it's clear that high prices will continue to drive feverish attempts to move away from oil, to hybrids, mini-cars, EVs, scooters, motorcycles, telework, solar, nuclear etc. But those are all areas where Japanese firms do/can excel. For example, Japan is the only country in the world with a functioning fast breeder reactor. That itself is an amazing asset.

So I don't see why Japan won't continue be the beneficiary of the world's need for new technology and products. Do you believe that Toyota will shrivel when half the world is desperately trying to buy a small/hybrid/electric car, and the other half is buying gas-guzzling hogs because they're rolling in cash from $200 oil? Or that Japanese solar and nuclear manufacturers won't prosper?

With regard to food, there is only a tangential connection between peak oil and the current food issues, as I pointed out in #350. I've watched oil triple since 2004, from $40 to $120, and the impact on my daily food bills has been totally negligible. The price of rice hasn't changed, and is still ridiculously cheap, even though we're at the highest real oil price ever achieved in history. Also, Japan has paddies to produce a lot more rice if it needs to. Finally, Japan is a wealthy country.

 
At Wednesday, May 7, 2008 at 8:21:00 PM PDT, Anonymous rc said...

goritsas,

I see what you are saying and I share many concerns with you. Here is how I feel about your points:

1. Our current economic crisis and potential depression is a whole different animal brought about by loose credit and short-sighted fiscal policy. It would have happened if oil was $30/bbl, but oil certainly doesn't help.

2. I really think our quality of life doesn't have to decline much for us to continue to live a decent lifestyle. Remember, in the US almost 50% of oil is used for cars and light trucks, and you can bet a lot of that is replaceable. I know in England the train system (while infinitely better than Amtrak) is not good enough to allow real mobility. I really believe a combination of techniques (doesn't have to by mylar balloons) will work to generate electricity. A lot of oil usage is unnecessary. Let's estimate a 5% decline rate (which is probably too high). Even that rate the oil isn't going to disappear over night, and we can cut out a lot of oil usage through conservation and efficiency gains.

3. Now, I agree with you that governments suck and they should be preparing NOW. The debate in my mind is not "Can we?" it is "Will we?" Unfortunately, you could be correct that people will suffer because we will react, not preempt the problem. But, look at Sweden which is trying to go fossil-fuel free by 2020.

4. I ask you, why can't we run our economies on solar/wind/nuclear for electricity. Have high-speed trains for medium range travel. Electric cars/buses/trams for short range travel. Live in walkable communities where we can walk to the store whenever we need anything (believe it or not, I live in one the few places in America where I can walk anywhere - I spend $0 on gasoline per year). Finally, have ships and planes for long-distance travels. Sure, the days of jetting off to Tahiti or the Canaries might be over soon, but we can survive and thrive without those things. No, whether or not these things will happen remains to be seen. But, like you said oil's not running out overnight, so we just have to hope that our governments get into action sooner rather than later.

 
At Tuesday, May 13, 2008 at 7:04:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Soylent said...

That's neat, but which uses can this intermittent power really replace?

Storage is very expensive and it's not likely to change anytime soon.

You can avoid having to burn some natural gas during peak times if you use intermittent power when available and gas when needed. This means reduced efficiency due to keeping turbines spinning and the slow response times of the rankine cycle portion of the combined cycle.

This can be very detrimental if you push it too far. Nuclear and coal are cheap and plentiful base-load sources, natural gas is not; if you try to displace them with solar+gas turbines you'll increase consumption of expensive and limited natural gas.

A few direct uses spring to my mind, assuming that you put in place a system to opt in for intermittent power at sufficiently discounted rates.

Large refrigerated areas like meat lockers. If you put enough thermal mass in there, particularly if you put a eutectic that goes through a phase change at a convenient temperature(salt water perhaps?), it could keep the contents within a reasonable temperature range overnight with little or no additional cooling. As a result it would rarely have to use non-intermittent power.

Any kind of electrolysis that does not require highly elevated temperatures. E.g. production of lye, chlorine gas and hydrogen gas.

Batteries for vehicles provided you can figure out how distribution would work. Perhaps outlets at work to top up the batteries?

Perhaps tying part of the air conditioning system to (local) solar power. That way the increased need for air conditioning is balanced with increased power made available without injecting intermittency into the grid.

 
At Saturday, May 17, 2008 at 3:36:00 PM PDT, Blogger Shane said...

"I'd just like to know ... how much more expensive will oil have to get before you realize that we're going to experience some sort of catastrophe?"

I don't know about JD, but I've noticed a great deal of interest in alternative energy, as well as adapting methods (such as local foods.) Whether it's really about oil running out or it's about OPEC strongarming us into continuing to use 25% of the world's oil, isn't it more fun to talk about a high-tech post-oil world than to just pretend we're going to steam on to the edge of the cliff--and hit the accelerator?

We're getting there. Maybe not fast enough but it's happening. Let's stop wringing our hands and getting orgasmic about the end of the lives of 90% of the world's population (a truly evil mindset, if you ask me...Al-Qaeda has nothing on you peak oilers) and show a little optimism.

 
At Monday, November 10, 2008 at 6:02:00 AM PST, Blogger craftycorner said...

If you fill the balloons with plain old air and put them on a TV antenna like frame, you would ditch the helium bugaboo. The frame can be aluminum or bamboo. Or maybe a glorified clothesline? It depends on how big/small the balloons are.

 

Post a Comment

<< Home