Want To Know About Green Energy?

In 2010 NKU's Prof. Steve Kerlin (Science Education) asked me to help out during a summer professional development workshop for area teachers, and so I gave a two-day Seminar on the Mathematics of Earth's Energy Sources.

Personally, I favor solar, geothermal, and wind. But I must confess that, in the context of climate change, even nuclear is getting a second look from me. James Hansen has thrown his support behind it. It's not really "green", but not nearly so brown/black as the fossil fuels which are driving anthropogenic climate change. One thing that is clear is that we absolutely must move away from carbon-emitting energy.

Most of the old, worn energies are not clean:

We want to move the world to clean energy:

  • Here Comes the Sun: America's Solar Boom, in Charts: It's been a bit player, but solar power is about to shine.
  • Solar and Wind Energy Start to Win on Price vs. Conventional Fuels: For the solar and wind industries in the United States, it has been a long-held dream: to produce energy at a cost equal to conventional sources like coal and natural gas. That day appears to be dawning. The cost of providing electricity from wind and solar power plants has plummeted over the last five years, so much so that in some markets renewable generation is now cheaper than coal or natural gas.
  • Some wonder how we'll power our cars if we eliminate fossil-fuels. Two obvious choices are
    • electric (but the cars must be charged with electricity generated by clean sources): Road Worrier: When coal is involved, electric cars are polluters, too:
      • A new study finds that plug-in electric cars can be the dirtiest vehicles on the road – when they run on electricity produced from the favorite fuel of America’s utilities: coal.
      • Nissan Leafs, Teslas and other electric cars have no tailpipes and no exhaust. But three University of Minnesota researchers looked at air pollution from the entire life cycles of plug-ins and other alternative cars.
      • For every 100 air pollution deaths attributable to gasoline cars, Tessum and his colleagues calculate the equivalent of only 26 deaths from plug-in cars, driven the same number of miles, that use electricity created from wind or solar power. Burning natural gas to make that same electricity is almost as clean (50 deaths) – and, it turns out, much cleaner than burning compressed natural gas in the cars themselves (89 deaths).
      • The dirtiest picture was painted for plug-in cars with electricity produced entirely from coal – at 363 deaths on this scale, nearly four times deadlier than the average gasoline car. This exaggerates the true picture, since coal is used to produce less than half the nation’s electric power.
    • hydrogen (and these fuel-cell-powered cars are actually beginning to come to market, notably in Japan and in southern California). I can't wait to get mine!
      • Toyota hopes to recreate Prius success with hydrogen-powered Mirai
      • Toyota Offers Fuel-Cell Patents to Other Car Makers:Japan’s Largest Auto Maker Hopes to Spur Wider Use of Hydrogen to Power Vehicles
        • Automotive-industry researchers have said hydrogen would make the ideal transportation fuel because of its ubiquity and reusability.
        • “By eliminating traditional corporate boundaries, we can speed the development of new technologies and move into the future of mobility more quickly, effectively and economically,” said Bob Carter, senior vice president of automotive operations for Toyota’s North America arm.

Moves in the right direction

  • BP embraces climate change risk resolution: BP will advise shareholders to back a resolution on climate change at April’s annual general meeting. The resolution, similar to one endorsed by Shell last week, will force the company to reveal the risks climate action poses to its business plan. That is likely to heighten scrutiny on high cost projects like its “Sunrise” venture in Canada’s tar sands. Analysts say these could struggle to turn a profit as governments act to curb greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels.
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