Why is Green Energy NOT the predominant source of energy?

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deronmoped
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Why is Green Energy NOT the predominant source of energy?

All this talk about getting away from oil has me wondering why we went to oil in the first place. I mean even when it was "first" discovered it was messy, polluting, had to be found, extracted from the ground, transported, refined and after all that they had to figure out what to do with it.

Now Green Energy on the other hand was always there, all around you and people were already using it. Wind mills have been around sense 500-900 AD, sailing been around sense 4,000 BC and water wheels sense 240 BC. Green Energy had a big lead on oil, but now it is a very small percentage of what we use to power our lives.

Today we have even more access to Green Energy, almost everyone can switch to it if they want too. Me, I could care less about Green Energy, but I heat my house and water with it and I'm working on getting a photovoltaic system installed.

Green Energy "right now" is available to everyone, what gives?

Deron.

jdh2550_1
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Re: Why is Green Energy NOT the predominant source of energy?

Why is Green Energy NOT the predominant source of energy?

Umm,
- Money
- Profit
- Convenience
- Marketing
- Politics

Those all spring to mind as partial answers to your question. It's really not a very good question - it seems very naive.

My impression is that you're a smart guy and I respect your position on a lot of topics. I also respect you that you "walk the walk" as reikiman puts it on another thread.

However, are you purposefully posting such naive questions just to get a rise out of people? C'mon - do you really think it's as "black and white" as you paint it?

A friend of mine likes to say: the less you know the simpler it seems. There's a lot of forces at play here...

John H. Founder of Current Motor Company - opinions on this site belong to me; not to my employer
Remember: " 'lectric for local. diesel for distance" - JTH, Amp Bros || "No Gas.

dogman
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Re: Why is Green Energy NOT the predominant source of energy?

Affordable green energy never went away. Hollands windmills are still in use and nearly every bit of falling water is making energy if people are nearby. Farmers gave up the horse because a tractor was cheaper. It didn't eat all winter. What never got popular is expensive as hell green energy. For me to go photovoltaic right now, I would pay about 15 cents a killowatt including finance costs, and my E company is now charging 11.5 It doesn't take a mathematical mind to figure that one out. Cheap energy has cost us in the long run, but all we were looking at was the number on the big sign when we filled up.

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Mik
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Re: Why is Green Energy NOT the predominant source of energy?

Fossil fuels are in essence "green" energy, depending on how you look at it!

The various fuel deposits are the "charged" state of a battery which is circling a fusion reactor, collecting energy from it in a variety of ways.
And we are discharging this stored solar energy.

It recharges itself by heating up and converting the accumulating recycled biomass to new fuel over millions or billions of years via a process known as photosynthesis.

If only we knew how to recharge this battery without putting it into a chaotic, heated state for a very long time...

We are now approaching the point where we are beginning to experience a rise in "internal resistance" of this battery, to stay with this analogy a bit more.
Giving it a deep discharge if we continue the way we are going right now, accumulating those chemicals in the environment that are needed for a turbulent recharging cycle to begin...

Sorry, I just realized that I should have posted this in the "Batteries and Chargers" section instead! Forgive me...
Mr. Mik

This information may be used entirely at your own risk.

There is always a way if there is no other way!

chas_stevenson
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Re: Why is Green Energy NOT the predominant source of energy?

Why would we use oil?

My answer is simple: My father bought gas for his big block Oldsmobile for $.11 per gallon and was able to travel 14 or 15 miles on a gallon at almost any speed he wanted, within reason, so he was paying less than a penny a mile to go anywhere he wanted. I don't think you could ride a horse cheaper than that by the time you feed and shelter it, and the horse didn't keep you dry in the rain.

Grandpa Chas S.

ArcticFox
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Re: Why is Green Energy NOT the predominant source of energy?

It's also hard to make out on the back side of a horse. ;)

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jdh2550_1
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Re: Why is Green Energy NOT the predominant source of energy?

It's also hard to make out on the back side of a horse. ;)

LOL! Somehow I get the feeling you're talking from experience!!!!

John H. Founder of Current Motor Company - opinions on this site belong to me; not to my employer
Remember: " 'lectric for local. diesel for distance" - JTH, Amp Bros || "No Gas.

swbluto
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Re: Why is Green Energy NOT the predominant source of energy?

well, first, there are two things that determine the predominant energy source: It's supply availability and price. When oil was discovered, it's price per joule was the least among all technologies that could be exploited at a widespread level. Sure, wind-mills, river-power, and solar-panels are great and all but not everyone lives in a 1) Windy area 2)Near a river and 3) in a relatively sunny climate. Now, as far as the energy source of choice for automobiles, limited battery capacity has been the main stranglehold on "really green" technologies that produce electricity. Not too many people liked the idea of 40 miles of range(Or even less) and even more found combustion-engine based cars to be much cheaper. But that's swiftly changing as battery improvements are now starting to actualize ranges that drivers like(But, at this point, not necessarily at the price that drivers like but with the running costs of combustion-vehicles increasing through gasoline, it's becoming increasingly more economic).

Personally, I like the idea of affordably installing battery packs that enable 40-mile electric ranges and longer on gasoline as most driving in America consists of driving less than 40 miles so(And almost all daily driving as well), so gasoline consumption would drastically decrease except for longer trips(Which are correspondingly infrequent.). On longer trips, some form of convenient "long-distance mass transportation"(Like say,a bus with cabins.) could help make fuel efficiency a reality on almost all trip lengths, fairly soon.

deronmoped
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Re: Why is Green Energy NOT the predominant source of energy?

I have been thinking about why we use oil this past day and I do not think it is so black and white. I do not think we discovered oil and bang, we went into a oil using society. I think it was the coming together of certain technologies at the same time. Discovering oil was just one part of the puzzle that came together with the ability, knowledge and the desire to use it. Leave out any part to the puzzle and oil would not be part of our society. In fact oil had been around for a long time, but back then they were still using wind, solar and water energy to power most things.

Lets say we never had oil, gas or coal on Earth, would we still be driving a horse and buggy? I think not, we would have learned to use what is available to power our society. The lack of oil would not have stopped advancements in technology, it would have just gone in a different direction. There is tons of energy all around us, wood, biomass, wind, solar, nuclear and tidal. We would be using some of those right now if oil was never discovered.

Now you are probably thinking how can all this oil go undiscovered? Well back when they did discover it, it was a unknown quantity. No one knew what it was, where it could be found and how much there was before it ran out... And we are still wondering where it can be found and how much there is of it left. Now it seems crazy to build a society on a unknown factor, but that is what we did. Then we had the industrial revolution and that drove demand even higher for oil and we are still going down that rabbit hole.

Back when this whole mess got started would it not have been smarter to build a societies energy base on a know quantity? The Sun, wind and water can be predicted to act in a certain way, where as oil could have gone bust at any time, no one knew.

So what's my conclusion to why we are not using Green Energy, it's the people taking a big gamble on oil. We are "fast, cheap and out of control". We wanted it all and we wanted it now! Back when oil was introduced no one knew how long it would last, it could have gone bust after ten or twenty years like the "Gold Rush" did. In fact that's what it was called back then, "Black Gold". The only difference is, the "Black Gold Rush" is still going today. And as long as it does people will still use it, only when that vein of "Black Gold" runs out will we return to the farm (Green Energy) like they did in the "Gold Rush" days.

Deron.

swbluto
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Re: Why is Green Energy NOT the predominant source of energy?

After the age of oil ends, I'm pretty sure we're not going to be going back to the "farm". Basically, people would be forced to become more energy efficient in all aspects of life and the "trasportation distance" to needed services will be decreased and/or mass transportation in some acceptably convenient form(Better convenience than today) will become more widespread as more people will tend to use it. In some aspects, this would seem to spell ghost-town doom for the oil-sprung suburbs, but I think it's likely "necessary services" will migrate to suburbia, mass transportation will become more common to the these areas and real-estate prices in these "far away" places will be far less than the current ratio in suburb/center-of-town real estate prices would suggest. Also, I think telecommuting will become increasingly commonplace, which should help mitigate the... transportation crunch. If robotic extensions of human physical abilities become easier, more effective and cheaper(And I'm sure they will given this is the edge of technology which is susceptible to exponential price decrease), then "remote controlling" your actions via these robots should become more commonplace for all fields(Not just for expensive LA surgeons) and automation will continue to supplant the less-skilled jobs that don't require the dexterity of humans(Although this condition will no longer apply when robotic dexterity surpasses a human's). In short, the gap between the skillfully disadvantaged and the skilled/creative/knowledge workers will continue to increase.

So, in essence, personal transportation will become less needed for job duties and will decrease in extent.

smace
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Re: Why is Green Energy NOT the predominant source of energy?

Also in part, and alredy touched on under the heading Politics, is that what is "Green" changes. Use the automobile and oil as an example. It was mentioned in another post, that rock oil took over from whale oil (http://visforvoltage.org/forum/3839-what-colour-are-you) and probably saved the whales. The introduction of the Automobile removed tons and tons of horse manaure from American citys (With the poossiblke exception of Washington, seems to be an infinite supply there). These were green things, although not called that at the time
Wind or solar on your land is a green thing, but when done on an industrial scale, some people view as less green. For example the Feds stopped any more applications for use of Federal lands for large scale solar plants until Enviroonmental impact studys are done. Low head hydro done on your stream is very green. Large scale, maybe not. Biofuel in your garage, nice bio green project. Same process on an industrial scale would not be viewed as so green. Some folks view wood heat as sustainable and green. Others look at the same hearth and see a smokey polluting mess.
It all depends on what you are trying to do and how you make your definition.

spinningmagnets
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Re: Why is Green Energy NOT the predominant source of energy?

Go to "otherpower.com" and snoop around the archives for a few months. If you cut way back on your electrical usage (get an LCD TV, CFL-lights), you can easily spend about $30,000 on a solar PV array and wind-gen that feeds a large expensive battery, that uses an inverter to produce the 120 VAC most homes use.

If you throw in an electric car that is driven during the day, and charged up at night, the collection array and battery have to be even larger (more expensive). So, why aren't YOU doing this?

As far as cars and gasoline, WWII was the tipping point. When the electric starter was invented (instead of hand-cranking), there were more electric and steam cars than gasoline on the road. And there were still more horses being used than all of them combined.

The Poles fought bravely against the nazi invasion in Sept 1939, but they were using cloth covered biplanes against metal-skinned V-12 fighters, and a cavalry against tanks.

Oil-fired steam turbines replaced coal-fired steam pistons in ships not because it was cheaper, but because it was more effective, and you could travel farther with fewer refuelling stops.

I can get a gasoline Yaris for about $14,000, ~36 MPG @ 65 MPH, 5-minute fill-up that gets me over 300 miles before I have to fill-up again. Other than oil, I probably wont have to fiddle with it for 200K miles.

(A gasoline car or an EV will both need tires and brakes)

I can get an early 1990's Civic hatch ($1,000) and convert it to an EV (using only the remaining $13,000. It will take hours to recharge, it will be much shorter range than 300 miles, If configured for 65 MPH it will be even shorter range (or much more expensive), In 5-7 years I must replace the expensive battery. I must also fiddle with the battery weekly or risk frying it. If the controller frys, who can fix it in my town?

Don't get me wrong, I LIKE EV's!!

But, I know exactly why my car and home aren't green.

sparc5
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Re: Why is Green Energy NOT the predominant source of energy?

What's the best way to promote green energy?

There are a lot, but broad reaching policies like emissions prices is still the most cost-effective according to new research published in the RFF.

XM-3000...
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landluger
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Re: Why is Green Energy NOT the predominant source of ...

I've long understood this; however, how do you influence a democratically elected official to do implement this policy when it would undoubtedly upset the already financially struggling populace by raising their monthly energy bills? The obvious answer would be a strong lobby effort, but what entity is positioned to lobby so successfully on the behalf of "green" energy alternatives?

Ben

Forgive me for resurrecting this thread, but I've always found insight in these discussions.

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