A Bridge to a Solution

Discussion in 'Energy' started by erowland, Oct 26, 2008.

  1. erowland
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    erowland Rookie

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    The Problem:

    It will be a minimum of 5-10 years before any energy alternative can be implemented on a national scale. Realistically 10+ years, even if we had a "magic" energy solution right now.

    The reason is simple, money and time. To change our entire infrastructure, replace virtually every car, heating furnace and energy plant it would take 10 years + even if the entire available workforce spent 24/7 working on it. And then there is the money aspect. Most people/businesses don't have tens of thousands of dollars (or more) to spend throwing out the old and bringing in the new.

    Don't get me wrong, we should actively strive to that end. In fact we must. It's inevitable. Oil won't last forever regardless of whether it is foreign or domestic.

    The Bridge:

    Americans showed a dramatic decrease in fuel consumption this summer!!! Okay, now that we are done patting ourselves on the back, let's be honest. Oil and gas prices were at all time highs and the economy has been hurting from a severe credit crisis (among other things.) We did not collectively choose to save energy; we simply were more frugal for economic reasons. Simply put, we couldn't afford to keep filling up our tanks. Still, we did use less fuel, proving it can be done.

    Increasing our domestic drilling to reduce foreign dependence and help control prices sounds great (and I am for it), but where does it lead us? It is a quick fix which should be addressed as such. It is a bridge to get us by until we make it to the real solution. If we simply increase our oil supply and make prices more affordable, then most Americans will go right back to wasting fuel--period.

    Fortunately many of us have consciously implemented some inexpensive ways to save energy while waiting for a solution. I have recently been replacing light bulbs with energy saving CFL's (Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs). They only cost a few bucks and clearly pay for themselves in energy savings and longevity, a 13 Watt gives a 60 Watt equivalent. There is some generic CFL info on Wal-mart's website among other places (yes, I am cheap and I shop at Wal-mart.)

    I also recently purchased a home energy savings device which greatly reduces the amount of energy that a normal home/business/factory uses. I did some shopping and comparisons before the purchase. The capacitor units that are pretty widespread seem to smooth out demand and in turn reduce the demand charges on your electric bill, but I went with a patented energy bank unit that is only manufactured by one company. It not only reduces demand, but it also actually reduces kWh's and the company guarantees an 11% energy savings, (ebunits dot net).

    The list of products could go on and on, but the real "bridge to the solution" must include our next administration proactively implementing a "War on Energy" plan or something of the like. The President bombarding the airwaves with an array of products/habits that America need embrace could raise the collective conscience for energy savings enough to noticeably reduce our country's energy consumption. Increased taxes on inefficient items to balance tax breaks for energy savers could help force energy reduction as well. It's kind of like when our parents use to tell us "turn off some lights" and it was an order, not a request.

    Pushing (or forcing) Americans to reduce energy consumption is still not the solution, it is just a bridge--a very necessary bridge.

    The Solution:

    Deadlines.

    Most of what I have written can be pulled apart and argued to some degree--I admit it. Everyone has their own ideas which can be polar opposites to my own, but hopefully we can agree that a national plan is in order.

    I do not have a "magic energy device" which will be cost efficiently integrated into our infrastructure. Perhaps further development of solar, nuclear, wind, hydro, etc. will eventually replace our existing infrastructure, but our government needs to come up with a solid plan which includes deadlines.

    Yes, this has already been done in a few ways including requiring alternative fuel source vehicles by certain deadlines, but this hasn't stopped the vast majority of vehicles that are sold in the U.S. from being the same gas burning vehicles we have always had. Instead of simply requiring car manufacturers to throw an alternative fuel "add-on" to their line, how about this: "Effective December 31, 2025 the manufacture and import of petroleum based combustion engine vehicles will be prohibited by law." Heavy idea, but worth thinking about.

    The auto and oil companies will continue to do things the same as they always have for as long as they are allowed. I don't blame them for that. Massive change is costly and it is clearly more profitable for them not to change. So lets stop allowing them to feed us equipment/vehicles that require an energy source that is in limited supply and is harmful to our environment. Take away their ability to make money using current methods, but enough time to change their way of doing things and they will find a new way to make money--AKA an energy solution.

    Please do not blast me if you disagree, these are just ideas. I am always open to new ideas and I'm sure that there are plenty that are better than mine. While waiting to have a plan in place I will continue to merely conserve energy. That is my bridge to a solution.
     
  2. Skull Pilot
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    Skull Pilot Platinum Member

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    All you "far sightted" alternative energy types can't seem to see the trees for the forest.

    We don't need 5 or ten years to reduce our gasoline consumption to near zero. We already have the technology to do just that without completely overhauling our infrastructure at incalculable costs.

    We use about 142 billion gallons of gas a year. If one 42 gallon barrel of oil makes about 19 gallons of gas then we import 7.5 billion barrels of oil to make the gas we use

    We could eliminate that by converting ALL passenger cars to diesel engines that burn bio diesel or straight vegetable oil. The diesel engine after all was originally intended to run on not petroleum but rather vegetable oils that a farmer could produce himself.

    We already have factories tooled to produce diesel engines, we already have supply lines and gas stations to distribute diesel so why do you want to wait ten years and spend billions if not trillions more than we have to to get alternative fuels in use?
     
  3. editec
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    editec Mr. Forgot-it-All

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    I am informed that the biodiesel solution cannot replace the oil we use because biodeisel crop farming would require more farmland than this nation even has.

    I think there is no single solution.

    We need to conserve and we need to drill, and we need nuclear, wind, solar, geothermal, and tidal energy, too.

    MOSTLY we need the political WILL to undertake all these projects.

    And that political will is really the major resource we are lacking and have lacked for the last thirty years.
     
  4. auditor0007
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    auditor0007 Gold Member

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    A combination of wind and solar would be a great starting point. The main problem is that we have no way of storing electicity. Electricity is produced to be used right now. When the need is greater during the daytime, more is produced. At night, less is produced. If too much is placed on the grid, you blow the entire grid. So, for many of these alternative forms of energy to be truly successfull, someone needs to figure out a way to actually store electricity.

    As for oil, we have tons of it. In a few years, we'll be able to produce a very significant amount of our own oil, possibly enough to get us off of foreign oil. We have massive reserves of oil shale. New technologies to extract this oil are not in the testing stages.

    The good thing is that we are now talking seriously about the alternatives. Most people realize there is no one single answer, but that the solutions will come through many sources. The key is to not loose the focus as oil prices begin to drop. We need to maintain our focus on the future.
     
  5. glockmail
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    glockmail BANNED

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    Bio-diesel from wastes is a no-brainer. I'm not keen on using crops for fuel, though, as we see what ethanol did to food prices. That being said, as long as the government doesn't subsidize it then I support both ethanol and bio-diesel, and let them make or break on their own.

    Nuclear power to recharge li-ion batteries for cars is the future, but we ain't there yet. The obvious "bridge" to this technology is CNG which is available now, and most cars can be easily converted, starting with my big Expedition!:D
     

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