Energy solutions for the planet (comments for CCNET by Russell Hoffman) -- January, 2001

To: Benny J. Peiser
From: Russell D. Hoffman
Re: Energy solutions for the planet
Date: Way Too Late

Dear Sir,

You've included some pretty biased articles in your current newsletter. For example, the article by W. Kenneth Davis, former US Deputy Secretary of Energy, self-described as a "think piece", was in fact tiresomely shortsighted.

He described and denounced as impractical just two of the available energy "alternatives". In fact, there are many renewable alternative energy solutions which must all be used in combination with the vastly improved conservation methods we could be using. And the figures he gave for the potential from those two sources alone seem extremely conservative compared to other viewpoints, including even various official DOE statements over the years.

Renewable energy solutions include not just solar and wind which Davis talked about, but also tide energy, geothermal energy, hydroelectric (including capturing ocean currents), Ocean Thermal Gradient energy systems, and even wave energy can now be tapped with modern technologies. To name but a few.

The Earth is a garden of energy, and we need only start tapping the many clean sources available. We should do this now, before your favorite topic, asteroids, destroys a nuclear power plant and spreads its poison around the biosphere (not to mention other vectors towards meltdowns), or before global warming occurs, despite you're little collection of opposition junk science articles. (At least it's probably junk science; after all, there are vastly more scientists who believe it is happening, including (last I heard) the ones at NASA who first identified the phenomena in the early 80's or late 70's).

Maybe, just maybe, global warming isn't happening or isn't tied to fossil fuel use if it is happening. And maybe each new Exxon Valdez type of accident, such as the one in the Galapagos going on right now, isn't such a big tragedy anyway. And maybe Chernobyl is spreading a much-needed medication around the biosphere, since after all, there are still a few "scientists" who believe in "hormesis" (that a little ionizing radiation taken internally is good for you). But even if all that's true, our energy needs at the present time could be met by using proven, and yet for some reason un-implemented, conservation methods instead of building new power plants. We waste far more than we use.

Lastly, I notice that twice Davis laments that there are no good methods for storing energy, and with that he again condemns the use of photovoltaic or wind energy systems. In fact a solution was proposed for just that problem, way back in the 1930's, by R. Buckminster Fuller, namely, to build a Global Energy Grid so that the energy could be transferred wherever it is needed from wherever it can be produced. Such a grid is technologically feasible today (visit for more information). Modern transmission distances (with industry-acceptable losses) are thousands of miles, which is enough to get the energy nearly a 1/4 of the way around the world. Somewhere that energy can be used, especially with two billion (2,000,000,000) people -- a third of the planet -- currently without electricity at all.

Furthermore, research into better storage methods continues at a good clip, such as superconducting coils and hydrogen fuel cells (possibly made of unwrapped Buckminster Fullerenes, known as nanotubes).

Davis is shortsighted, and you're own attitude is biased at best.


Russell Hoffman
Thinking outside your box

At 09:35 AM 1/24/01 +0000, you wrote:

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id ; Wed, 24 Jan 2001 09:36:24 -0000 Message-ID: From: Peiser Benny To: cambridge-conference Subject: CCNet CLIMATE CHANGE & CLIMATE SCARES - 24 January 2001 Date: Wed, 24 Jan 2001 09:35:51 -0000

CCNet CLIMATE CHANGE & CLIMATE SCARES - 24 January 2001 [...]

From The Science & Environmental Policy Project

A think piece by W Kenneth Davis (former US Deputy Secretary of Energy) [...] It seems important to consider the alternatives, windmills and photovoltaics, advocated by our Administration, largely Vice President Gore. If the entire 218 GW derived above was to be photovoltaics, the land area required would be at least 9 to 13,000 square miles in very favorable locations and it would be necessary to find a way to store much of the power generated. If we consider windmills of a typical size of about 300 KW, and an operating factor of 20 % (in good locations), we would need over 3 1/2 million windmills requiring at least 10 to 12,000 square miles and still would have an unsolved electricity storage problem. The cost would be on the order of 1 1/4 to 2 trillion dollars or 125 to 200 billion dollars per year plus the cost of storing much of the electricity produced in some manner not yet known and at of unknown cost. Further, the technologies are not ready and manufacturing facilities do not exist on this scale.

There is no "magic" solution to the emerging electric power problem; in fact, it will get worse before it gets better, perhaps catastrophically. If we can stimulate the expedited construction of new plants, gas or/and nuclear (or coal), we can reasonably expect to get back to a normal supply and demand situation in 10 years or so. We are going to be in really serious difficulties if we do not!



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First posted April, 2001.

Last modified April, 2001.

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