What Would Life Be Like Without Electricity?

What Would Life Be Like Without Electricity?Humanity has survived many evolutionary stages in its long history on this planet. Two discoveries, in particular, have shaped the future of our race like no other: gunpowder and electricity. The former has certainly been the cause for many tragedies, while the latter has usually helped push the human race forward. Together, the two have made wars even more destructive. But consider if electricity were to one day disappear without warning. No power for your gadgets might be the most immediate concern that comes to mind, but the larger problem would be further-reaching when you consider that our modern world has been completely built around our dependence on electricity.

In science fiction, many scenarios have been imagined to illustrate the dystopian future that would result if our society were cut off from the conveniences that we take for granted. Electricity is, perhaps, the beating heart of our industrious civilization; without it, our cities would likely crumble in the ensuing chaos. This is the scenario that’s played out in the new series Revolution, which is set 15 years after a global blackout of a yet-unknown cause.

It’s a fascinating idea to ponder the implications of no longer having access to all of our amenities. We would have to relearn how to cook, wash, transport, entertain, and simply live without all of the devices that we use every day. It would be the feudal ages all over again. And without electricity, medical treatment would become equally medieval. This is something that many would not be prepared for.

It may be cliché to mention Darwin, but a world like this would put the concept of survival of the fittest to the ultimate test. Your lovely neighbor could become your fiercest competition for food. Hunting would be a most welcome and essential skill if humanity should have to survive in a world without electricity. Do you know how to shoot and kill game with a bow and arrow?

In such a scenario, even our aspirations to further develop clean energy would be futile, as such efforts focus on converting alternative energy into electricity. And with a vanishing digital infrastructure, the loss of telephones and the Internet would force generations weaned on access to instant information to communicate face to face. Millions would be helpless, clueless, and left seeking leadership to organize the chaos. This is when both the best and worst in the human soul emerges. Capable leaders would doubtless emerge with the noble intention to serve the masses, but what happens when the self-serving and power-hungry who have the charisma to manipulate others are able to convince people that they’re the leadership that’s being sought?

The answer to the titular question deals not with the consequences of no longer being able to google something, but rather how it would change human nature. That’s the philosophical dilemma herein: the urge for survival in one corner, and the cost of survival in the other. Whenever we lack an essential commodity, we must question its actual necessity. As in the series Revolution, items that we considered crucial before quickly lose practical value. Yet the emotional valuation never degrades.

What would life be like without electricity? Seeking an answer is not so much a technicality as it is a philosophical assessment of the human race. Great feats have been accomplished with no electricity. Our civilization, which doesn’t include some indigenous tribes in the lost corners of the world, depends on electricity for innovation. As mentioned earlier, the medical industry would collapse without electricity. Many illnesses once extinct might return with a vengeance as vaccine stocks would deplete quickly. Even extreme rationing wouldn’t slow down the inevitable by much.

It sounds like a dream come true for science fiction writers.


For my part, I find Revolution to be a rather mediocre adventure story in a post-apocalyptic setting with a premise that suffers from being more interesting than its execution. However, there’s hope that further revelation of the secret cause for the blackout will instill a much-needed sense of wonder. If you were a fan of LOST, then you should find some love for Revolution.

Image: Freefotouk

Is That Cloud Really Clean?

Is That Cloud Really Clean?The cloud — the ultimate solution to computer storage capacity — is becoming more and more a factor of life, but is there a day coming when it, too, will not hold enough data to satisfy the ever-growing needs of our technological society? That could be the case if one looks at the past decade or so, since we have all become increasingly dependent on its ability to store our data. As this begins to take on astronomical proportions, we could find our environment and resources strained to a breaking point.

According to Greenpeace International, these data farms are already consuming energy at a staggering rate. Apparently, almost every major player in the technology market relies heavily on the cloud for storage purposes while consumers use it to confidently save their preferences for everything from font colors to who they acknowledge as family, friends, or acquaintances. So with that in mind, we need to address how these data farms will be managed as they continue to grow and place a strain on our environment and resources.

Additionally, as our population grows, the need to communicate is expected to grow and bring a 50-fold increase (by the year 2020) in demand for cloud storage as we increasingly watch TV or movies, listen to our favorite music, share those precious photographs, and eventually even determine the way we work online. Accordingly, Greenpeace International incorporates a scorecard system that enables it to determine just how much energy companies like Microsoft, Yahoo!, Google, and others are using and project their future needs. They also track how much will be spent, this year alone, in building more server farms. Further, the report addresses which consumers or businesses are placing the highest demand on these companies in order to satisfy their own — as well as their clients’ — lust for more and more information.

These demands require large amounts of electricity, which is why these data centers, data farms, or whatever name you wish to use are coming under closer scrutiny. These vast amounts of electricity are used in an attempt to keep the cost down, as companies require thousands of computers to store all of this data. Not only is the cost of the electricity a concern, however, but also access to the electricity, itself, and how its depletion will affect the environment. In its report, Greenpeace International states that some of these data servers may consume enough electricity to power 180,000 homes.

Here is a basic look at how some of the companies were scored by Greenpeace:

CompanyEnergy TransparencyInfrastructure SitingEnergy Efficiency & GHG MitigationRenewables & Advocacy

Scorecard grading is from Greenpeace, with table drawn by me.

Looking at these grades, one could conclude that, with the exception of Google, most of the major technology companies are doing a poor job of using energy efficiently. While this may be the case, there are other factors at play here besides what Greenpeace has presented to us.

On the positive side, the building of each of these data centers requires a force of skilled laborers, meaning employment opportunities, which are sorely needed in our slowly improving economic climate. In addition, the local community benefits when site builders file for the required building permits and pay their fees. As a result, cities have the increasing revenue to provide their populace with necessary services. These data centers will also bring in additional funds to the local power company, which will have to provide additional sources of electrical power. In turn, any profits that the company makes will be paid out to its shareholders, further providing funds that will fuel the economic recovery in that area. So, before we can evaluate if these data farms are too costly on resources, we must look at the whole picture — from the additional sources of revenue to new job creation. Are they good or bad? Only time and experience will give us the definitive answer.

However, I realize that Greenpeace judges how changes can positively or negatively affect our environment as well as how they will impact future generations. If its figures are correct and its data is correct, one can only conclude that the technology companies (with the exception of Google) need to do more to become environmentally friendly. This is not to say that Google is exempt from trying to make improvements until it can reach a scorecard grade of straight As.

Though I am not naïve enough to think that these centers actually generate a tremendous amount of revenue for the local community, I do know that many communities grant huge incentives to entice technology companies to come to their local area. These enticements include offering huge tax credits and discounted building fees as well as other incentives. These incentives are used by local communities because they know that these data centers will in fact generate employment for workers in the area, thus contributing to the local economy.

So what do you think? Would you want a data center located in your community?

Comments welcome.

CC licensed Flickr photo above shared by route79

How to Reduce Your Electric Bill With a Power Strip

Not all power strips are created equal. Most of them do a decent job of surge protection, some act as an extra backup battery in the event of a power outage, and another type is made especially to help you save money on your electric bill.

Modern televisions, surround sound equipment, computers, monitors, and even toasters can pull watts even when they appear off. Typically, the most taxing area of your home electronically is your entertainment center even when you’re not using your TV, amplifier, speakers, gaming console, and disc player. There is a way to reduce this unnecessary expense with the help of a power strip that helps you manage power consumption when these devices aren’t actively being used.

Belkin has a couple power strips available. One is the BG108000-04 energy saving surge strip which features surge protection coupled with a remote control allowing you to cut power to a set of devices while keeping others on.

Another is the Conserve Smart AV F7C007q which automatically shuts off other electronics in the chain if it detects that the primary device has been turned off. Typically, the television would be used as the control device shutting off the disc player and surround sound system along with any other connected electronics.

Addition: The Smart Strip LGP3 is also a great automatically managed power strip designed to save you money in much the same way as the F7C007q.

Whether you’re cutting excessive energy costs by shutting down electronics individually or cutting their power entirely, it never hurts to have the aid of convenience to make it easier to save a buck.

Do you use a power management system to keep energy usage in check in your home? If so, what do you use and how much has it impacted your bill? Comments are welcome and encouraged.

Would Bundling Your TV, Cell Phone And Electric Bill Make Sense To You?

In the town where I live, the bundling of utilities and billing are handled by the city. Our electric, garbage, water, trash and sewer are billed on a single bill. When I lived in California, each of these services were billed individually requiring separate payment for each service. Now some are predicting the possibility that we could see a bundling of services not only for utilities, but also for cell phone, TV, Internet and other services.

We have seen how cable companies ventured into providing Internet services and have expanded their offering to include phone services as well. This bundling of services by a single entity usually are advertised as a savings to consumers. If you purchase a bundling of services the company usually provides some type of discount on your monthly bill.

In a recent article it stated:

Bundling utility services into cellular and cable TV packages has begun in Australia and some other parts of the world, but it could spread. The idea is both simple and radical at the same time. Power and water are commodities delivered through monthly service contracts, just like Internet service.

When I first read this article the first thought that popped into my mind was Google. For years Google was the search king, but in recent years has expanded into other areas. Google Android now is said to be a commanding leader in software for smart phones, surpassing Apple. Google has also ventured into the computer market with their Chrome netbook, is developing a remote-controlled car, and is also become a venture capitalist interested in the development of a smart grid.

So is Google also in the electricity business? Google has developed their own solar panel grid to power the Googleplex in Mountain View, CA., that supplement their electricity usage. So Google is no strange when it comes to electricity and could venture into the electrical market in the near future.

I guess my main question would be is if you did purchase electricity from your cable company, who would repair the transmission lines during a power outage?

What do you think about the merging of cable and utilities?

Comments welcome.

Source – ecomagination

Power Grid Of The Future Saves Energy

Cars and trucks race down the highway, turn off into town, wait at traffic lights and move slowly through side streets. Electricity flows in a similar way — from the power plant via high voltage lines to transformer substations. The flow is controlled as if by traffic lights. Cables then take the electricity into the city centre. Numerous switching points reduce the voltage, so that equipment can tap into the electricity at low voltage. Thanks to this highly complex infrastructure, the electricity customer can use all kinds of electrical devices just by switching them on. “A reliable power supply is the key to all this, and major changes will take place in the coming years to safeguard this reliability. The transport and power networks will grow together more strongly as a result of electromobility, because electric vehicles will not only tank up on electricity but will also make their batteries available to the power grid as storage devices. Renewable energy sources will become available on a wider scale, with individual households also contributing electricity they have generated,” says Professor Lothar Frey, Director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Systems and Device Technology IISB in Erlangen. In major projects such as Desertec, solar thermal power plants in sun-rich regions of North Africa and the Middle East will in the future produce electricity for Europe. The energy will then flow to the consumer via long high-voltage power lines or undersea cables. The existing cables, systems and components need to be adapted to the future energy mix now, so that the electricity will get to the consumer as reliably and with as few losses as possible. The power electronics experts at the IISB are working on technological solutions, and are developing components for the efficient conversion of electrical energy.

For energy transmission over distances of more than 500 kilometers or for undersea cables direct current is being increasingly used. This possesses a constant voltage and only loses up to seven percent of its energy over long distances. By comparison, the loss rate for alternating current can reach 40 percent. Additional converter stations are, however, required to convert the high voltage of the direct current into the alternating current needed by the consumer.

“In cooperation with Siemens Energy we are developing high-power switches. These are necessary for transmitting the direct voltage in the power grid and are crucial for projects like Desertec. The switches have to be more reliable, more scaleable and more versatile than previous solutions in order to meet the requirements of future energy supply networks,” says Dipl.-Ing. Markus Billmann from the IISB. To this end, the research scientists are using low-cost semiconductor cells which with previous switching techniques could not be used for high-voltage direct-current transmission (HVDCT). “At each end of a HVDCT system there is a converter station,” explains the research scientist. “For the converters we use interruptible devices which can be operated at higher switching frequencies, resulting in smaller systems that are easier to control.” A major challenge is to protect the cells from damage. Each converter station will contain about 5,000 modules, connected in series, and if more than a few of them failed at the same time and affected their neighboring modules a chain reaction could be triggered which would destroy the entire station. “We have now solved this problem. With our cooperation partners we are working on tailor-made materials and components so that in future the equipment will need less energy,” says Billmann.

Markus Billmann @ Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft

All Power America APG3301C 1,200 Watt 4-Stroke Gas Powered Portable Generator

There should be an image here!Need a CARB-compliant generator to get you through the winter months ahead with secure peace of mind? The All Power America APG3301C 1,200 Watt 4-Stroke Gas Powered Portable Generator features:

  • 1,200 Watts Surge/1,000 Watts Continuous
  • 2.5 HP 4-Stroke Engine
  • Runs 8 hours at 50% load
  • Low Noise at 65dB
  • 1-120 volt AC outlet, 1-12 volt DC outlet

All Power America APG3301C 1,200 Watt 4-Stroke Gas Powered Portable Generator

  • List Price: $229.99
  • Price: $199.99 & this item ships for FREE with Super Saver Shipping.
  • You Save: $30.00 (13%)

Have You Got The Power?

The worst-named product in gadget history also happens to be the most awesome ever. You use devices all day long that run on battery power. What happens when you run out of batteries? Why not use a 5000mAh Battery Charger? It will quickly and easily charge just about anything you can think of. If you have a cell phone, iPad, iPod, digital camera, or virtually any device that charges via USB, the 5000mAh Battery Charger will extend the life of your gadgets while you’re away from traditional power outlets. This might mean you get a few more hours on the airplane, or it might mean the difference between receiving or missing an important phone call.

Yes, the name is horrible. But this is an awesome product. I use it. I was shocked a few days ago. I needed to use my iPhone and ran out of battery. I plugged this in and used it for more than twenty-four hours while connected to this device.

I don’t think you’ll find another external battery that connects via USB. 5000MaH is a LOT. It can charge any number of devices, making sure you are connected all the time.

Water-Based Artificial Leaf Produces Electricity

There should be an image here!A team led by a North Carolina State University researcher has shown that water-gel-based solar devices — “artificial leaves” — can act like solar cells to produce electricity. The findings prove the concept for making solar cells that more closely mimic nature. They also have the potential to be less expensive and more environmentally friendly than the current standard-bearer: silicon-based solar cells.

The bendable devices are composed of water-based gel infused with light-sensitive molecules — the researchers used plant chlorophyll in one of the experiments — coupled with electrodes coated by carbon materials, such as carbon nanotubes or graphite. The light-sensitive molecules get “excited” by the sun’s rays to produce electricity, similar to plant molecules that get excited to synthesize sugars in order to grow, says NC State’s Dr. Orlin Velev, Invista Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and the lead author of a paper published online in the Journal of Materials Chemistry describing this new generation of solar cells.

Velev says that the research team hopes to “learn how to mimic the materials by which nature harnesses solar energy.” Although synthetic light-sensitive molecules can be used, Velev says naturally derived products — like chlorophyll — are also easily integrated in these devices because of their water-gel matrix.

Now that they’ve proven the concept, Velev says the researchers will work to fine-tune the water-based photovoltaic devices, making them even more like real leaves.

“The next step is to mimic the self-regenerating mechanisms found in plants,” Velev says. “The other challenge is to change the water-based gel and light-sensitive molecules to improve the efficiency of the solar cells.”

Velev even imagines a future where roofs could be covered with soft sheets of similar electricity-generating artificial-leaf solar cells.

“We do not want to overpromise at this stage, as the devices are still of relatively low efficiency and there is a long way to go before this can become a practical technology,” Velev says. “However, we believe that the concept of biologically inspired ‘soft’ devices for generating electricity may in the future provide an alternative for the present-day solid-state technologies.”

Researchers from the Air Force Research Laboratory and Chung-Ang University in Korea co-authored the study. The study was funded by the Air Force Research Laboratory and the U.S. Department of Energy. The work is part of NC State’s universitywide nanotechnology program, [email protected] State.

NC State’s Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering is part of the university’s College of Engineering.

[Photo above by nedrichards / CC BY-ND 2.0]

Mick Kulikowski @ North Carolina State University

[awsbullet:Lester Russell Brown]

When The Power Goes Out

There should be an image here!As I sit in my car during a power outage while my netbook’s battery is charging via a car adapter, I can’t help but notice how reliant we are on electricity. This is something that we often do not realize until it’s gone.

Back before electricity, no one missed it because it had not been discovered yet. These days we become lost without it. We stumble in the dark looking for a flashlight. We worry about the perishable food items that we just bought. We wait and wait for the electricity to come back on so that we can go back to our normal lives. Even to the most rugged of society, it’s a huge inconvenience.

So how would we react if it was gone for good? Would we convert back to the old ways, or would there be chaos?

The Internet was originally a DARPA project designed to survive a nuclear attack. However, I can’t access it over a broadband connection while the power is still out. It requires a modem that runs on electricity. I am writing this in NotePad with the intention of uploading it later. I did get some electronic work done thanks to my boyfriend’s car adapter. However, I’ve only been able to get online in small spurts at various establishments with free Wi-Fi.

I do all my work online. I actually need connectivity. More and more people are starting to as well. The attendant at the gas station told me that the electric company would have the power back on by 7AM. I really hope so.

How do you cope when the power goes out? Lend me your thoughts. I may use them the next time the power goes out.

Daniel W. Webb has been self-publishing content on the Internet for over a decade. He’s written articles for a tech oriented site as well as contributed to an anthology book. He is currently majoring in communications and will soon minor in technology.

Using Carbon Nanotubes In Lithium Batteries Can Dramatically Improve Energy Capacity

There should be an image here!Batteries might gain a boost in power capacity as a result of a new finding from researchers at MIT. They found that using carbon nanotubes for one of the battery’s electrodes produced a significant increase — up to tenfold — in the amount of power it could deliver from a given weight of material, compared to a conventional lithium-ion battery. Such electrodes might find applications in small portable devices, and with further research might also lead to improved batteries for larger, more power-hungry applications.

To produce the powerful new electrode material, the team used a layer-by-layer fabrication method, in which a base material is alternately dipped in solutions containing carbon nanotubes that have been treated with simple organic compounds that give them either a positive or negative net charge. When these layers are alternated on a surface, they bond tightly together because of the complementary charges, making a stable and durable film.

The findings, by a team led by Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering Yang Shao-Horn, in collaboration with Bayer Chair Professor of Chemical Engineering Paula Hammond, are reported in a paper published June 20 in the journal Nature Nanotechnology. The lead authors are chemical engineering student Seung Woo Lee PhD ’10 and postdoctoral researcher Naoaki Yabuuchi.

Batteries, such as the lithium-ion batteries widely used in portable electronics, are made up of three basic components: two electrodes (called the anode, or negative electrode, and the cathode, or positive electrode) separated by an electrolyte, an electrically conductive material through which charged particles, or ions, can move easily. When these batteries are in use, positively charged lithium ions travel across the electrolyte to the cathode, producing an electric current; when they are recharged, an external current causes these ions to move the opposite way, so they become embedded in the spaces in the porous material of the anode.

In the new battery electrode, carbon nanotubes — a form of pure carbon in which sheets of carbon atoms are rolled up into tiny tubes — “self-assemble” into a tightly bound structure that is porous at the nanometer scale (billionths of a meter). In addition, the carbon nanotubes have many oxygen groups on their surfaces, which can store a large number of lithium ions; this enables carbon nanotubes for the first time to serve as the positive electrode in lithium batteries, instead of just the negative electrode.

This “electrostatic self-assembly” process is important, Hammond explains, because ordinarily carbon nanotubes on a surface tend to clump together in bundles, leaving fewer exposed surfaces to undergo reactions. By incorporating organic molecules on the nanotubes, they assemble in a way that “has a high degree of porosity while having a great number of nanotubes present,” she says.

Lithium batteries with the new material demonstrate some of the advantages of both capacitors, which can produce very high power outputs in short bursts, and lithium batteries, which can provide lower power steadily for long periods, Lee says. The energy output for a given weight of this new electrode material was shown to be five times greater than for conventional capacitors, and the total power delivery rate was 10 times that of lithium-ion batteries, the team says. This performance can be attributed to good conduction of ions and electrons in the electrode, and efficient lithium storage on the surface of the nanotubes.

In addition to their high power output, the carbon nanotube electrodes showed very good stability over time. After 1,000 cycles of charging and discharging a test battery, there was no detectable change in the material’s performance.

The electrodes the team produced had thicknesses up to a few microns, and the improvements in energy delivery only were seen at high-power output levels. In future work, the team aims to produce thicker electrodes and extend the improved performance to low-power outputs as well, they say. In its present form, the material might have applications for small, portable electronic devices, says Shao-Horn, but if the reported high power capability were demonstrated in a much thicker form — with thicknesses of hundreds of microns rather than just a few — it might eventually be suitable for other applications such as hybrid cars.

While the electrode material was produced by alternately dipping a substrate into two different solutions — a relatively time-consuming process — Hammond suggests that the process could be modified by instead spraying the alternate layers onto a moving ribbon of material, a technique now being developed in her lab. This could eventually open the possibility of a continuous manufacturing process that could be scaled up to high volumes for commercial production, and could also be used to produce thicker electrodes with a greater power capacity. “There isn’t a real limit” on the potential thickness, Hammond says. “The only limit is the time it takes to make the layers,” and the spraying technique can be up to 100 times faster than dipping, she says.

Lee says that while carbon nanotubes have been produced in limited quantities so far, a number of companies are currently gearing up for mass production of the material, which could help to make it a viable material for large-scale battery manufacturing.

Jennifer Hirsch @ Massachusetts Institute of Technology

[Photo above by evelynishere / CC BY-ND 2.0]

[awsbullet:Henry Schlesinger]

A Melting DirecTV Tuner?

Today I discovered a friend of mine had a squirrel chew through the neutral line on the power pole outside their house. The end result was nearly every appliance in their home being fried with raw current — apparently the breaker box only tripped one of the breakers.

Where things get really weird is that during the cleanup from the event, they discovered that their DirecTV box was leaking a significant quantity of a water like liquid. The consistency was definitely water-like, not like melted glue or paste of some sort. And even stranger was the quantity.

What in the heck could create this quantity of mysterious liquid from inside a DirecTV tuner box? They are certainly not water cooled. And had something have melted, surely the consistency would have been less like yellow water and more like a sticky paste?

It is at this point that I must ask for your thoughts on the matter. The only thing I have ever heard of along this line is water coming in via the coax cabling — and even this is very rare. If you have any ideas, please hit the comments to share your ideas as to what might create this kind of liquid from someplace that there should not be any.


Is ‘Resonant Magnetic Coupling’ Going To Change Our Lives?

The electric power cord has been with us for so long, I guess I never really gave any thought about not having one attached to our appliances. Yes, there are battery devices, but I am talking about big appliances like Refrigerators and plasma TV’s. Well that may be all changing if one company has it way, They say that within 18 months they will be able to transmit electricity through the air.

Over at the L.A. Times they have an article which describes what ‘resonant magnetic coupling; could mean:

Now a Massachusetts company, WiTricity, says it will have just such a system on the market in about 18 months. The company, which has been developing its technology based on the work of MIT physicist Marin Soljacic, made the announcement at the prestigious TEDGlobal conference that ended Friday in Oxford in the U.K.

The company showed how a transmitting unit, which could be placed in a wall, could power a television set several feet away. The chief executive of the company, Eric Giler, also showed how the system could wirelessly charge a G1 cellphone equipped with an antenna unit so small it could fit inside the phone case.

An iPhone was part of the demonstration, too, but that phone’s innards are so closely packed that the antenna had to be attached to the outside of the case.

If this really becomes a reality it would be revolutionary for all of us. No more power cords to deal with. No more wall sockets.

Comments welcome.


Is A Smart Grid And Smart Cars The Answer To Our Energy Woes?

Over the past few weeks I have read several articles concerning our electrical grid and the lack of control we have over the power we produce. From what I have read it appears that our electric grid is in need of an overhaul in order to take advantage of what some claim will be our best chance of getting off of our addiction to oil. Some are touting that electricity is the answer to our problems and that a Smart Grid and Smart Cars will be our salvation.

The problem basically is how to upgrade the nearly six million miles of transmission lines and distribution centers into allocating electricity to where it is needed. The other problem is how to incorporate a system in which those who conserve or use their energy wisely are rewarded for their conservation efforts. The rewiring of America is estimate by some to cost over $200 billion and will take decades to upgrade. Those in favor of a smart grid foresee a future when our motor vehicle run on electricity and not oil.

Which brings us to our next problem. Our automobiles would need to be designed to run on electricity and have ample storage to be able to propel the vehicle enough miles to satisfy the average user before a recharge. Our cars would also have to be able to attach to the grid, preferable at any location, to charge up for the next trip. From what I have been reading battery technology will need to be improved dramatically before this will happen. Again we could be looking at decades before this happens.

But there is one solution that no one talks about. I am sure some of you can relate to this situation. I have a neighbor that owns a SUV, passenger car, pickup truck, a boat and a riding lawn mower. The family consists of a mom and dad plus two young children under driving age. These people are living the American dream. Good for them.

But they are also burning up a disproportionate share of our planets limited resources.  Does anyone besides me believe that we should be allocated a certain amount of energy, regardless of our economic ability to pay, and be limited to that energy useage?

Let me know what you think of this idea. I believe the cost would be a lot cheaper than trying alternative energy plans.

Google Wants To Get Us Into Hot Water

Google has plans to take us to the center of the earth. Well maybe not that deep, but they are getting involved in Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) and are investing in companies that support this technology. What is also of interest is the fact that this valuable resource is often over looked when the discussion turns to clean renewable energy.

In theory it works like this. You dig a deep hole where there are hot rocks, smash the rocks, pour in water and you get steam to drive turbines to produce electricity. Sounds simple enough. The benefit is that steam is a renewable resource and hot rocks appears to be overly abundant, according to reports cited by Google.

On their blog Google also states:

EGS has the potential to provide clean renewable electricity 24/7, at a cost cheaper than coal. The ability to produce electricity from geothermal energy has been thought exclusive to locations such as California and Iceland. However EGS could allow us to harness the heat within the earth almost anywhere. To see see the massive size of the US geothermal resource accessible by EGS, check out our Google Earth layer

It is a world wide thing and other countries are getting into the action:

EGS is heating up around the world. Australia, Germany, and the European Union are currently leading the technology and commercialization race. All 50 U.S. states, Europe, Russia, China, and India all have substantial thermal resources accessible by EGS.

If this is in fact a viable option, it actually makes the most sense out of all the alternative fuels I have read about. This abundant amount of fuel could be used to create huge amounts of electricity to fuel  those new electric vehicles that are getting ready to hit the road. Maybe a plug in car is in our future after all.

What do you think?

Comments welcome.


PG&E To Test An Electric Car

Over at the San Jose Mercury News they have an article about how PG&E and Southern California Edison will be testing an electric vehicle. The car is from Mitsubishi car company of Japan and is called a ‘i MiEV’ and is totally electric. The vehicle also boasts several different types of charging from standard 110v householf current to a 220v charging system as well. According to the article it states:

The four-passenger vehicle is smaller than a Toyota Scion xD or Honda Fit, but larger than Mercedes’ Smart car. The i MiEV – which stands for Mitsubishi Innovative Electric Vehicle – uses a 330-volt lithium-ion battery with several charging options. A 110-volt household plug would give it a full charge in 10 to 16 hours. A 220-volt outlet would reduce the charging time to six or seven hours, and a fast-charging system that the utilities will test could reduce that to 30 minutes.

Patterson said the vehicle can go about 75 miles on a charge. Mitsubishi wants to find out how well a car this small with a battery set-up designed for Japan will do on the roads of America. “We need to assess if our battery technology is ready for the United States,” Patterson said.

The vehicle goes on sale in Japan next summer, at around $25,000 to $30,000. Mitsubishi has not said whether it will sell the car in the United States, but if it does, it’s expected to cost more.

High gas prices and concerns about global warming have piqued interest in electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids. Patterson said automakers and utilities must work together to make those vehicles a success.

But what caught my eye was this statement:

Who better to test an electric car than an electric utility?

Well lets take a look at that statement. I am sure the electric companies are going to be totally fair in their evaluations. Just because the more electricity that is sold, the higher their profits would not influence their unbiased opinion. Why not give a few new Challengers with the big Hemi’s to see what the oil executives think?

Just my two cents. What is your opinion?

Comments welcome.