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September 07, 2006


Paul Dietz

BTL can be more efficiency than biological processes, particularly if there's an external heat source (read: a high temperature nuclear reactor) to provide the energy to drive the endothermic gasification process. Going further: if one is making electrolytic hydrogen, then this can be added before or after the gasifier to get a better CO/H2 ratio in the syngas, reducing the need to shift the gas to produce H2 (at the expense of converting CO to CO2). The biomass contributes the carbon that ends up in the final fuel, but some of the energy comes from the input stream of hydrogen.


The real question is whether the American people will vote for a government that proposes such a plan. It would mean a lot of government intervention and there are so many here ideologically opposed to such a concept, especially if more taxes are involved. I can also see the fossil fuel industries putting up quite a large fight...


$50 a ton co2 tax equates to about 50 cents a gallon. (1 gallon gas = 20 pounds co2, 100 gallons = 2000 pounds or 1 ton co2), I'm totally in support of that.

However, I don't understand their math. I've read that annually, the whole world emits 7 billion tons of CO2.

$50 / ton * 7 billion tons = $ 350 billion

But that is for the whole world. the US share is 1/4 of that, or about $90 billion.

This is far short of the 300 billion per year they say will be needed.

Of course, there is plenty of fat in the US budget that can be trimmed.

But to do that, it will take a serious commitment from the people of the US to demand it.

This is why I think there needs to be a single, unified, cohesive plan -- pulling together talents of scientists & economists. The plethora of plans must come together as a single plan. One that will speak on the level of the IPCC.

This plan would serve to guide politicians. I think several politicians that want to do good.. don't know which way to turn because of a lack of such a plan.

BTW, as for storage, I think V2G technology w/ EV & hybrid cars will go a long way to solving itermittency problems of renewables by serving as a buffer -- giant, multiply redundant battery directly attached to the grid.



Gosh, I would have expected a visit by now from Engineer-Poet, endorsing the plan and distributing dosimeters.

Paul Dietz

There's also the issue that extraction of CO2 from flue gas may cost no more than $10-15/tonne, using the chilled ammonia solvent process being piloted by EPRI and Alsthom. If so, the expectation that coal fired powerplants will be replaced by nonfossil sources may be unwarranted.


What they omit is the fact that geothermal heat pump heating and cooling and conservation from super efficient lighting and appliances could save enough juice to charge all the cars. And car mileage can be vastly reduced by bikes, car pooling, and coordinated commuter bus and rail.

Doubling generation capacity is not necessary to go to plugin transportation.

Solar, especially the new higher efficiency solar cells, on all the suitable roof space and over parking lots and highways, and medium and small wind systems can provide 1/2 of our present electric use.

The other half can come from huge wind systems on the northern great plains, and huge wind/wave power floating platforms off the three US coasts.

This is all doable for less than that trillion dollar distribution grid upgrade. This is distributed generation and storage with whole regions down to individual homes independent of the larger grid in emergencies.

This plan is too heavy with liquid fuel dependence too. Go battery, forget the coal to gasoline route. Forget nukes, they are way too expensive.

For instance, half of our present capacity, 300,000 mw, would cost 2 trillion alone at current nuke plant cost estimates. And couldn't be done for 50 years, if it could be done at all.

With wind, wave, and solar it will cost less than the trillion dollar distribution upgrade. 100 billion in subsidies taken from corporate welfare per year, and directed to this renewable energy effort would do the job within 10 years.

One third of the cost from (corporate) welfare savings and the rest from private investment.

For instance, if you install a 12,000 dollar solar system you get a 4000 dollar tax break over a few years. The money that used to go to exxonmob and friends goes to help pay for your solar system instead. Then your solar system will pay for itself in electric bill savings in 8 years.

In the case of huge wind or wind/wave power installations. A utility company will put up 10 50mw wind machines out on the plains then get a rebate that pays for a third of the system. Money that once went to exxonmob goes to your local utility to save you money on your electric bill by importing clean, cheap wind electricity.


As usual, the hurdle is political rather than technical. That is what a real "road map" must address. Not to take away the significance of suggesting at least one comprehensive technical plan for changing things however.


Whoops, left out solar concentrator plants.

I think they are great at rehabilitated old industrial and mining sites, these are already devestated areas. They pay for the enviro clean up.

Put up silicon fabs, foundries, glass and metal recycling plants all powered by direct concentrating solar furnaces with PV and steam turbine electric cogeneration in suitable desert regions where solar is abundant.

Water desalinization and waste water recycling using solar collectors can be used to cogenerate pV electricity and heat also. A 4 foot by 5 foot area of collector space can provide clean water daily for each person in a hot desert climate.

Designed into roof mounted electric solar panels this water recycling could solve the looming water crisis.


All I can say is LaLa Land.

The infrastructure cost would be rediculous. How much co2 do you product while making a wind turbine, extracting all of the copper etc. There isn't a chance in @#$ that with current technology you can find the resources to do this in the next 20 Years.

Parts can be done and many incentives and higher taxes on gas could move this along quicker.


And political means financial too Marcus. There's the hitch.

Where are those trillions going to come from.

A trillion already wasted in middle east adventuring? It looks like it.

For every cent gasoline goes up that's 1 billion more payed for gasoline and diesel by US consumers per year.

So that extra dollar per gallon for the war years? That'll be a trillion by the time we are done with Iraq?

Katrina cost a trillion in tax dollars, insurance, and lost business?

Tax breaks for big oil, there's another trillion over 8 years. (137 billion last year, during RECORD! profits)

"A trillion here a trillion there, pretty soon you are talkin' real money!" (to paraphrase Sen Everett Dirksen)

Oh I got your trillions! Hehey.


Regarding financial concerns, didn't the study state that:

"A $40 - $50 per ton tax on carbon dioxide emissions could pay for the whole investment, based on current emission levels, and also provide incentives for implementing renewable technologies."


Here is a tax solution that would be "fair", easy on the poor, and help to make these new technolgies competitive.

Matt, on the site, I did a bunch of calculations that determine the size of carbon taxes.


One trillion dollars for power grid upgrade may sound like a lot of money, but it's really not.

The oil industry (Exxon) projects that 17 trillion dollars needs to be invested over the next 10 years just to keep the oil flowing...

USA uses 4 trillion kWh every year, so if the upgrade takes 25 years the cost would be one cent per kWh. I think that is bearable...

"Smart" power use, i.e. using power when it's available, can reduce the need for upgrade and storage greatly, even without much hassle. Just better planning. Experience in UK has shown that as little as 2-5% change in electricity price can persuade heavy users (steel manufacturing) to shift comsumption to periods with low prices.

Washing machines, dryers and dishwashers all use >95% of the electricity to produce heat at roughly the same temperature as found in water heaters/hot water tanks. A hot water tank can store energy for days very efficiently.

A modern wind turbine produces energy for its own production (including energy cost in raw material production), running costs and decommisioning in less than one year, in fact closer to six months! This has been verified by third party autiting.

It is essential to be aware that just by replacing things (both producing and consuming) with more efficient things at their normal rate of replacement would mean that everything is replaced in 25 years with no extra investment. For many items the cycle is much shorter (cars, refrigirators, washing machines, etc.)

In conclusion, the premium for efficient energy use very low/negative (you actually save money).


17 trillion invested in oil? Forget it.

That 17 trillion will end up killing life as we know it.

You are far too sanquine about this looming disaster. It's not going to solve itself by following the course that corporatist government lobbyists have layed out for us.


Dr X.

I am merely suggesting that all green-house-effect/Peak Oil/smog pollution aside, the cost of upgrading the power grid is small compared to business as usual investments in the energy sector.

The problem with stating a number like one trillion dollars (paid by a large number of people over a long period of time) is that it revokes the typical response "Jeee, that's a lotta cash", when really, it's not more than we spend on coffee and chewing gum!..

It's not going to keep anyone from getting the 50'' plasma/LCD they have been dreaming about!

In Denmark we have a government sponsored program of energy consulting. They have an annual budget of 10 million DKK, but save 1,000 million DKK for private business. A friend of mine used to be an energy consultant with a private company, and he was almost always able to devise energy saving schemes with anywhere between six months and 4 years payback time. That may not be good enough to satisfy the double-digit-growth-increased-profit-next-quarter investment community, but it's still good business! We have been doing this for 30 years in Denmark, which is one of the reasons why we haven't increased our net energy consumption per capita since 1990, while raising the GDP per capita by 1.9% per year.

The bottom line: Energy efficiency pays!

Greg Woulf

The part that you're all missing is that most of this technology isn't a net loss.The only exception is upgrading the grid.

Most of this technology pays back the principle and even the interest deferred within 5-10 years.

When do we get paid back from the war? I think we have to pay more every year because of the war so that's just getting deeper and deeper in.

Even the upgrades to the grid are not a total loss because we would need those even if the gas supply was limitless.

Paul Dietz

Where are those trillions going to come from.

From the ordinary workings of the economy and its systems for financing projects.

Look, the global economic output over the 21st century is going to be many quadrillions of (current) dollars. Of course energy infrastructure will cost a breathtaking chunk of change, but given the importance of energy to the overall economy, how could it not?


AmazingDRX, your plan doesn't seem realistic. You are going to relocate a bunch of industries near solar thermal plants, adding that cost to the cost of the energy switch? And then you say we don't need nukes, so in your plan you make up the balance with renewables, but you don't address intermittency, while the professors acknowledge this. Finally, re. batteries, there are obvious limitations with recharge times, charge-cycle lifespans, and energy density that mean liquid fuels will remain important. Drs Shinnar and Citro are definitely on the right track. There is nothing about there plan that is incompatible with also persuing improved efficiency as you suggest.

barry hanson

Several companies have announced that they are well ahead of the DOE-SECA goals for high temperature fuel cells. I was surprised that there was no mention of them, but there was favorable mention of nukes as well as the acceptance of continued reliance on our dysfunctional electrical grid, which nuclear power requires of course. SOFCs or DCFCs (direct carbon fuel cells) do not require a grid. Furthermore, for 15% of the trillion $ high temp fuel cells could be installed to meet 50% of the US demand.


Yep SOFCs running on the natural gas saved by switching to geothermal heating would provide a great backup power source for renwables.

Operating at 75% efficiency when coupled with a microturbine. Perfect distributed energy backup generation as natural gas is already piped all over.

Biogas can be added to this mix so farm based gas digestors can serve as local backup generation even independent of the gas pipeline system.

The emmissions from these units can be used to feed algae growing solar collectors, providing more biofuel and biogas.

bedarul islam

i am very much happy to know that your country has already taking it serious with fossil fuel shortages and it will obcourse bring peace in middle east if US and other INDUSTRIAL NATIONS
feel alternative energy is their good source of viable energy politics .
it will reduce dependance to middleeast and
oil countries will not buy too many weapons and will move toward regional peace talk
beacuse of their petro dollar this countries are facing international political tricks
which lead a arab israel and many different blocks in arab , which in no way good for the world peace
i welcome such us and global steps toward
alternative energy source utilizations and all measures.
And people are becoming more conscious of not using this world recklessly and our nature and human life will be safe and global warming will help reduce and so we can live more many years in this planet

please advise me if you have ideas about energy effiencey refrigirators or solar fans
that can safe energy drasticaly .


If you have looked into solar energy as a method for heating your home, panels are usually the first things that come up. There are, however, other unique methods.

The Solar Heating Aspect You Have Never Heard of Before

The power of the sun is immense. The energy in one day of sunlight is more than the world needs. The problem, of course, is how does one harness this power. Solar panels represent the obvious solution, but they have their downside. First, they can be expensive depending upon your energy needs. Second, they do not exactly blend in with the rest of your home.

Passive solar heating represents a panel free method of harnessing the inherent energy found in the sun for heating purposes. If you come out from a store and open the door of your car in the summer, you understand the concept of passive solar heating. A wide variety of material absorbs sunlight and radiates the energy back into the air in the form of heat. Passive solar heating for a home works the same way as the process which overheats your car in the parking lot.

John Wanoa

Here is an Turbine that may interest you go to Google and Type John Wanoa and you can read all about an IN STREAM TIDAL TURBINE of a different kind designed around a Vertical Shaft fitted with a Variable Pitch Floating Hydraulc Turbine that has THICK Tall AXIS TURBINE HUB INNER WATER BEARING SURFACES SHORTER RADIUS ARC WATER JETS out the Turbine BLADE TIPS that propel WATER AS A THRUST WATER BEARING The Turbine revolves non stop anticlockwise HYDRAULICALLY GOVERNED TURBINE SPEED at 2RPM AND OPERATING 100% WATER HYDRAULICS 100% LIQUID HYDROGEN END PRODUCT whereby the surplus energy Liquid Hydrogen Fuel is useful energy after burning in the Turbine jet engines driving the Turbines through slack tide periods In other words the OUTPUT POWER EXCEEDS THE TURBINE OPERATING DEMAND a nett surplus results in storage nothing wasted This is the most powerfulmethos of getting full torque out of a Tidal Turbine Big is Best We invite comment about getting a new alternative bulk energy for less Marine Area for MEGAWATT OUTPUT produced

John Wanoa

Tidal Electric Auckland New Zealand Kaipara Harbor

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