Is wood CO neutral
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27-08-2011, 10:51 AM
RE: Is wood CO neutral
Stark is the bastion of ecology on these forums.

While solar energy does harshly effect those not seeking it out, it does answer the problem by providing an achievable solution. As stark said, the most important factor of how high your heating and cooling bill is has to do with how tight your windows are, if your front and back door have gaps and seems along your foundation.

I am in no way as keen on this information as the infallible Stark, but I can see answers even if for the moment I unfortunately commit many ecologic atrocities due to my own priorities.

I believe that once we perfect a high yield sustainable energy we can cut consumption heavily. I start this by using a computer and primarily consuming data. Outside of necessities everything that I use nowadays comes in the form of data. Currently computer usage is still expensive due to the energy output, but compact data conserves all sorts of resources by lowering the number of trees turned into books and preventing a need for more and more plastic to exist and never decompose.

I see computers as an eventual answer as to how people can live efficiently while still feeling they have luxuries. The basic needs are easily sustainable so if we can cover the needs of a computer then it's possible to create a society which subsists on basic needs because all luxuries exist within a data stream. It would still be advisable that people stop procreating insanely, but that's not really a very enforceable topic. It's also generally attained by everyone learning a bit more. Over procreation is generally an action caused by those who feel more left out.

I use more than my fair share of energy currently, but I suppose I make up for it in ways. Like having never drove. I do a lot of walking and at worst use public transportation over personal transportation.

I'm not a non believer, I believe in the possibility of anything. I just don't let the actuality of something be determined by a 3rd party.
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27-08-2011, 01:18 PM
RE: Is wood CO neutral
Thanks for the vote of confidence Lil, but I am far from infalliable! LOL. Truth is, I feel pretty satisfied when someone prooves me wrong. Leaves me with a sense of having learned something!

Back to the wood issue: from what I know, wood is an efficient heat source, but energy derived from wood in other forms is inefficient. ie. using heat from wood combustion to create steam to power a vehicle. Too much energy is lost while converting it to other forms to make it efficient. I may sound like a broken record, but while technologies develop (and obviously as a continued practice) conservation is the key.

The issues with solar energy, like Observer demonstrated, are more political that technological. As far as batteries go, yes they require mining of earth metals, but the trick here is to compare the impact of that mining with the impact of other solutions. Batteries are improving very quickly, and there is very grounded hope that sustainably produced, efficient batteries is not very far in the future. There is also vast improvements on how long they last, meaning that yes they are not a sustainable resource, but recycling, and longevity may be enough to carry us into a new age of energy storage with minimal impact.

There is much promise with wind power as well. Some of the available hybrid systems out there are really effective at producing a fairly reliable stream of energy. In most climates, wind is high when there is less solar lumens available, and vice versa. (Really it's just a matter of cloudy days tend to equal windy days, and during winter when there's shorter days, there also tends to be more wind) It's a generalization, and climates vary greatly, but it's still applicable to lots of us.

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27-08-2011, 02:02 PM
RE: Is wood CO neutral
Here's a vid of a STIRLING engine (50% (!) conversion efficiency) generating 5HP of electricity. Enough to power a modern day household. It runs on wood-chips!



Observer

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Disclaimer: Don’t mix the personal opinion above with the absolute and objective truth. Remember to think for yourself. Thank you.
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27-08-2011, 07:30 PM
RE: Is wood CO neutral
The conversion efficiency of coal power plants is upward of 90% and i'm not wanting to advocate for them.

You can do that with trains as well. I don't think bringing back 1920's technology is going to help anything. Like I said energy density is key. How far do you want your train to go on a single tank?

The battery idea is not good at this stage. Battery technology has advanced slowest out of anything we have seen. We have tried almost every substance in every combination and so far we might manage to double energy density within a 2-4years. If everyone built themselves a battery bank think about the charge/discharge cycles and the metals needed and pollution created recycling and changing all the batteries.

Also trees are poor energy harvesters compared with an average solar panel. The panels are still too expensive to be economical at this stage. Our government is subsidizing them so you will almost break even in Australia by the time the panels are 15years old.

We need other alternatives, like thorium reactors or some breakthrough science. Genetically modified bacteria/algae might be key to this process. Stuff like what Craig Venter is working on gives some hope for the future.



“Forget Jesus, the stars died so you could be born.” - Lawrence M. Krauss
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27-08-2011, 07:54 PM
RE: Is wood CO neutral
DT, not sure where you're getting your info from. Over the last 20 years batteries have progressed slowly. Over the last 2, they've progressed very quickly.

The metals needed, pollution created etc are easy to imagine. As compared to the pollution and non-renewable resources saved by the energy savings in areas elsewhere, the negative output is a dream. You also have to remember, solar geothermal, and wind energy don't require the storage capacity of many other sources because they can be collected right where the end user needs them. So one weeks worth of energy storage is ample reserve. Hydroelectric energy, for example, needs to be stored for much longer, because for it to be economical it must be supplied to a large population. So the reserve must be on a huge scale.

I say keep looking for the perfect solution, because we sure don't have it yet. But in the meantime, why not embrace the best available solution? And rest assured the best available solution is NOT what we are doing.

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27-08-2011, 09:38 PM (This post was last modified: 27-08-2011 09:41 PM by DeepThought.)
RE: Is wood CO neutral
What battery technology are you aware of that has made significant progress in the last 2 years?
I'm aware of lots of tech that has been known about for over 10 years that is being talked about like it's new, like Zinc-Air or lithium-polymer batteries. Maybe there are improvements in manufacturing processes, and they can be made cheaper with higher capacity and more recharge cycles. Still not the radical advances everyone was hoping for.

How is each person going to store a weeks worth of energy? At the moment people who have solar or wind power in Australia can feed excess power into the grid and buy it back when they need it (night time or with little wind). It removes the need for batteries and it still isn't all that cost effective. Yet...

Yeah we are talking about a solution for large populations in high density residential areas. A battery bank for each home isn't a workable solution with existing technology. So what would you do?

Geothermal is still experimental, and there is a huge upfront cost to get it going. Also it's only suitable in some areas.

“Forget Jesus, the stars died so you could be born.” - Lawrence M. Krauss
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28-08-2011, 01:33 AM
RE: Is wood CO neutral
I never said that the "radical advances everyone was hoping for" has happened. I said that in the last two years advances have been vast. Most of those advances ARE with things like lithium polymer batteries. Just because they are not two years old doesn't mean they haven't been made better in the last two years. I'm not sure why you need a technology to be brand new for it to be considered advanced. In recent years the biggest advances have been the recycling of the matereals use for these batteries. We can recover nearly all of the metals in these batteries to recycle into new ones. That is a very big deal. Plus the existing technology can hold a deeper charge for a longer time in a battery that lasts longer with less maintenance. How is that not an advancement? Because it's not brand new, perfect technology? C'mon bro. I know you can see beyond that.

My talking about storing a weeks worth of energy was an example of what would be needed to be off grid. I never even implied that I think we should all do this. Right now one of the best otions is exactly what you mentioned. A grid sharing option where you collect solar energy, and excess is fed back into the grid and kept as a credit towards future power purchase. I guess where you are the incentives may not be worth it, but other places they are. And after all that, you still aren't seeing how this can be an effective, sustainable advantage.

Think of it this way: put up enough solar panels to create a mere ten percent of your energy consumption. There's no batteries needed since you are simply suplimenting your useage, not trying to create all that you use. That ten percent will pay itself off in, say, ten years. (That is modest by the way. Not sure what this type of stuff costs there, so I can only speak for Canada, but the average estimate is somewhere between 6 and 8 years). Solar panels have an average lifespan of 15 years. That would be 5 years of supplimental energy for free. And this is a VERY feasable thing for large, dense populations, with the added bonus of not having to convince everyone to do it to make it effective.

As for geothermal, it's not experimental at all. It's VERY effective!!!! You are right that it's only suitable in some areas, but why does that make it a poor solution? That doesn't make sense. And the upfront costs are big, yes, but geothermal is reliable, and already shown to be exponentially cheaper over the long term. Wind power is good for some areas, geothermal is good for some areas, solar is even better in some areas than others. I never suggested these are cure alls. But they are GOOD solutions when used properly.

Again, we are talking about doing things better, not perfectly.

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28-08-2011, 03:51 AM
RE: Is wood CO neutral
This is exactly my point from a few posts earlier.
Why is it that people always wait on a messiah to invent them a silver bullet?
If we combine what we already have and decide case by case what the best solution for a certain application is, we could already progress miles.
Geothermic energy might not be feasible in some cases, then perhaps you can use hydro-power. We have an installation like that in Belgium with two corresponding water reservoirs, when there is enough power on the grid, they pump water into the highest basin. When extra power is needed, they use the stored potential energy to regenerate electricity.

I don't see why the technology of our grandfathers would not regain popularity, given the idea that you need to evaluate and improve it.
Some examples:
When the wife and I where arranging our baby-shower we where asked whether we where interested in washable diapers (out of organic bamboo).
The latest fad in heating technology in Belgium? Biomass incinerators. Some hundred years ago they'd call it a simple wood-stove Smile. The only difference is that it is now optimized to be 30% more efficient in heat production.
The last one is fun:
[Image: swing_your_energy.jpg]
it's a cellphone battery. Spin it a couple of times, and your good to go! It only takes a cool kid in the neighborhood to own this thing and the system is rigged.


There is plenty of high tech stuff around that, upon closer examination, is as old as the street you see it on. It just takes the correct mindset to apply it. And that's where it becomes tricky. Do you WANT yourself be seen in one of those electrical cars the size of a yogurt box? Do you want to spin your cellphone? No. The first reaction would be "such small things won't make a difference". Then again... That's what they said when the first leaded fuel became available as well. Undecided

Observer

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Disclaimer: Don’t mix the personal opinion above with the absolute and objective truth. Remember to think for yourself. Thank you.
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