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To: Sailtrader who wrote (212)9/16/2008 7:41:44 PM
From: Eric
   of 230
 
Nukes work and many years ago (almost 35 to be precise) I thought we would have licked fusion reactions by now but it is a much harder problem than anyone envisioned then. I don't think we will have a working, sustained fusion reactor running for at least 50 years so that leaves us with our good, old fission reactors. A number of years ago when the U.S. industry failed to get any more ordered they sold most of their nuclear divisions to a few Japanese companies as it just didn't make sense to stay in the business. As a result we don't have the manpower, skills and equipment to scale nuclear reactors in this country.. in fact we are barely keeping the U.S. Navy nuclear program functioning.

My beef with nukes is this:

Numero Uno, and this the big one:

The waste problem has not been solved and the Nevada repository simply will not work. It is geologically not stable and ground water permeates the structure so in the long run it's a pretty safe bet that waste will not be stored there. As you probably know every reactor site in the U.S. has cooling ponds to store used fuel rods and waste. They are almost full at most sites and they are rapidly running out of room.

#2

Reprocessing waste is expensive, especially if you end up with plutonium.

#3

Reactors need lots of cooling water to dump the condensation cycle heat. We have to get rid of roughly 60% of the heat the reactor creates to condense the cooling water so it can be sent back to the reactor heat exchanger after it leaves the turbines. So we need a big river, ocean or something else to dissipate the heat. You will find no reactors in dry areas because fresh water is simply not available. My German friends that I visited with in San Francisco said that Germany is committed to getting rid of all their reactors in the next ten years or so because of the problems noted above.

Plus we are running out of Uranium, probably a 70 year supply at existing consumption. There are other possibilities but they are expensive.

So when I look at Solar and Wind and a few other renewable sources to me it's a no brainer which way I would go.

Storage of electrical energy is the Holy Grail in energy research right now. We have a couple emerging technologies that will probably work.

I really like the proposal put out in the January issue of Scientific American, A Solar Grand Plan:

sciam.com

This and Desertec in Europe and North Africa can generate all of the electricity we need... with no pollution!

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To: Eric who wrote (213)9/19/2008 2:08:40 PM
From: Sailtrader
   of 230
 
Eric, thanks for the detailed reply. I have no disagreement with the points you raise on nuclear plants. I do think most of the problem with determining where nuclear waste sites could be related to the "not in my back yard" phenomena.

Solar coupled with a way to store power would certainly be the best situation. However, since that will take decades to put in place, I firmly believe we are going to have to use any and all options available to become energy independent. Failure to do so could have major economic implications for the U.S economy.

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To: Sailtrader who wrote (214)9/20/2008 2:04:06 PM
From: Eric
   of 230
 
Dave,

Yes we certainly need all hands on deck for this problem. The energy crisis facing this country is now firmly on our collective front door.

I don't blame the nimbys at all. Our government totally blew off the problem many years ago when nuclear waste was first being generated. In my state the Federal Dept of Energy and the Washington State Dept of Ecology are dealing with a massive clean up at the Hanford nuclear reservation where plutonium for the first A bomb was made. We have a large amount of ground water that was contaminated that is now leaking into the Columbia river. It looks like the clean up costs for this alone will exceed 50 billion dollars and we still have to spend much more after that for the other problems remaining there. I'm not against nukes, just the long term "real" costs of operating and disposing of them.

Solar power doesn't have any of those problems.

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To: Eric who wrote (215)9/22/2008 12:42:29 PM
From: Eric
   of 230
 
This story came out over the weekend.

For those of us who believe in Peak Oil here is a story on Matthew Simmons. If you saw the doc "A Crude Awakening" you will love this read.
_____________

Here comes $500 oil

If Matt Simmons is right, the recent drop in crude prices is an illusion - and oil could be headed for the stratosphere. He's just hoping we can prevent civilization from imploding.

By Brian O'Keefe, senior editor
Last Updated: September 22, 2008: 10:01 AM EDT

Matt Simmons argues that Saudi Arabia's oil supplies are much more limited than everyone thinks.

(Fortune Magazine) -- Matt Simmons is as perplexed as anyone that it has fallen to him to take on OPEC, Exxon, the Saudis, and all the other misguided defenders of conventional wisdom in the oil patch. Why should one investment banker with a penchant for research be required to point out what he regards as the obvious - that from here on out, oil supplies can't meet demand, and if we don't act soon to solve this crisis, World War III could be looming?

money.cnn.com

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To: Sailtrader who wrote (168)9/30/2008 7:25:43 AM
From: Lynn
   of 230
 
I'm posting the entire article for easy reference later (I'm dial-up):

'Major discovery' from MIT primed to unleash solar revolution
Scientists mimic essence of plants' energy storage system
Anne Trafton, News Office
July 31, 2008

In a revolutionary leap that could transform solar power from a marginal, boutique alternative into a mainstream energy source, MIT researchers have overcome a major barrier to large-scale solar power: storing energy for use when the sun doesn't shine.

Daniel Nocera describes new process for storing solar energy
View video post on MIT TechTV:
newsoffice.techtv.mit.edu

Until now, solar power has been a daytime-only energy source, because storing extra solar energy for later use is prohibitively expensive and grossly inefficient. With today's announcement, MIT researchers have hit upon a simple, inexpensive, highly efficient process for storing solar energy.

Requiring nothing but abundant, non-toxic natural materials, this discovery could unlock the most potent, carbon-free energy source of all: the sun. "This is the nirvana of what we've been talking about for years," said MIT's Daniel Nocera, the Henry Dreyfus Professor of Energy at MIT and senior author of a paper describing the work in the July 31 issue of Science. "Solar power has always been a limited, far-off solution. Now we can seriously think about solar power as unlimited and soon."

Inspired by the photosynthesis performed by plants, Nocera and Matthew Kanan, a postdoctoral fellow in Nocera's lab, have developed an unprecedented process that will allow the sun's energy to be used to split water into hydrogen and oxygen gases. Later, the oxygen and hydrogen may be recombined inside a fuel cell, creating carbon-free electricity to power your house or your electric car, day or night.

The key component in Nocera and Kanan's new process is a new catalyst that produces oxygen gas from water; another catalyst produces valuable hydrogen gas. The new catalyst consists of cobalt metal, phosphate and an electrode, placed in water. When electricity -- whether from a photovoltaic cell, a wind turbine or any other source -- runs through the electrode, the cobalt and phosphate form a thin film on the electrode, and oxygen gas is produced.

Combined with another catalyst, such as platinum, that can produce hydrogen gas from water, the system can duplicate the water splitting reaction that occurs during photosynthesis.

The new catalyst works at room temperature, in neutral pH water, and it's easy to set up, Nocera said. "That's why I know this is going to work. It's so easy to implement," he said.

'Giant leap' for clean energy
Sunlight has the greatest potential of any power source to solve the world's energy problems, said Nocera. In one hour, enough sunlight strikes the Earth to provide the entire planet's energy needs for one year.

James Barber, a leader in the study of photosynthesis who was not involved in this research, called the discovery by Nocera and Kanan a "giant leap" toward generating clean, carbon-free energy on a massive scale.

"This is a major discovery with enormous implications for the future prosperity of humankind," said Barber, the Ernst Chain Professor of Biochemistry at Imperial College London. "The importance of their discovery cannot be overstated since it opens up the door for developing new technologies for energy production thus reducing our dependence for fossil fuels and addressing the global climate change problem."

'Just the beginning'
Currently available electrolyzers, which split water with electricity and are often used industrially, are not suited for artificial photosynthesis because they are very expensive and require a highly basic (non-benign) environment that has little to do with the conditions under which photosynthesis operates.

More engineering work needs to be done to integrate the new scientific discovery into existing photovoltaic systems, but Nocera said he is confident that such systems will become a reality.

"This is just the beginning," said Nocera, principal investigator for the Solar Revolution Project funded by the Chesonis Family Foundation and co-Director of the Eni-MIT Solar Frontiers Center. "The scientific community is really going to run with this."

Nocera hopes that within 10 years, homeowners will be able to power their homes in daylight through photovoltaic cells, while using excess solar energy to produce hydrogen and oxygen to power their own household fuel cell. Electricity-by-wire from a central source could be a thing of the past.

The project is part of the MIT Energy Initiative, a program designed to help transform the global energy system to meet the needs of the future and to help build a bridge to that future by improving today's energy systems. MITEI Director Ernest Moniz, Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Physics and Engineering Systems, noted that "this discovery in the Nocera lab demonstrates that moving up the transformation of our energy supply system to one based on renewables will depend heavily on frontier basic science."

The success of the Nocera lab shows the impact of a mixture of funding sources - governments, philanthropy, and industry. This project was funded by the National Science Foundation and by the Chesonis Family Foundation, which gave MIT $10 million this spring to launch the Solar Revolution Project, with a goal to make the large scale deployment of solar energy within 10 years.

web.mit.edu

I just saw a reference for the above article on one of the coffee shop boards. Having been away from SI for quite a while (house selling/moving overload), I did a thread search for, "MIT," and saw the headline for the article and it's URL were already posted.

Lynn

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To: Lynn who wrote (217)10/3/2008 8:41:51 PM
From: Eric
   of 230
 
October 3, 2008, 6:22 pm
Congress sets stage for solar boom

After months of failed attempts in Congress to extend crucial renewable energy tax credits, the end game came with lightening speed Friday afternoon: The House of Representatives passed the green incentives attached to the financial bailout package approved by the Senate Wednesday night and President Bush promptly signed the legislation into law.

There were goodies for wind, geothermal and alternative fuels, but the big winner by far was the solar industry.

“It feels like we should be popping the champagne,” said a Silicon Valley solar exec Green Wombat met for lunch minutes after Bush put pen to paper.

That it took a the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression to save billions of dollars of renewable projects in the pipeline for the sake of political expediency does not bode well for a national alternative energy policy. But the bottom line is that the legislation passed Friday sets the stage for a potential solar boom.

The 30% solar investment tax credit has been extended to 2016, giving solar startups, utilities and financiers the certainty they need for the years’ long slog it takes to get large-scale power plants and other projects online. The extension is particularly important to those Big Solar projects that need to arrange project financing in the next year or so.
The $2,000 tax credit limit for residential solar systems has been lifted, meaning that homeowners can get a 30% tax credit on the solar panels they install. That will save a bundle - especially for those who live in states with generous state rebates - and goose demand for solar panels makers and installers like SunPower (SPWRA) and First Solar (FSLR). (If you buy a a $24,000 3-kilowatt solar array in California - big enough to power the average home - you can claim a $7,200 federal tax credit. Add in the state solar rebate and the cost of the system is cut in half.)
Utilities like PG&E (PCG), Southern California Edison (EIX) and FPL (FPL) can now themselves claim the 30% investment tax credit for large-scale solar power projects. That should encourage those well-capitalized utilities to build their own solar power plants rather than just sign power purchase agreements with startups like Ausra and BrightSource Energy.
“The brakes are off,” says Danny Kennedy, co-founder of Sungevity, a Berkeley, Calif., solar installer that uses imaging technology to remotely size and design solar arrays. “In just six months since our launch we’ve sold about a hundred systems. With an uncapped tax credit for homeowners going solar, we expect business to boom.”

While elated sound bytes from solar executives have been flooding the inbox all afternoon - along with invites to celebratory after-work drinks - solar stocks took a drubbing (along with the rest of the still-spooked market) after initially soaring on the news.

SunPower ended the trading day down 5% while First Solar shares dropped 8%. The bright spot was China’s Suntech (STP), which on Thursday announced a joint venture with financier MMA Renewable Ventures to build solar power plants as well as the acquisition of California-based solar panel installer EI Solutions.

Congress didn’t treat the wind energy so generously. The production tax credit for generating renewable energy was extended by just one year, guaranteeing the industry’s will continue to live year by year (at least through 2009). But given that 30% of all new power generation built in the United States in 2007 was wind, and that the amount of wind power installed by the end of 2008 is expected to rise 60% over the record set last year, the wind biz should do just fine.

But Congress did give a break to those who buy small-scale wind turbines. Systems under 100 kilowatts qualify for a 30% tax credit up to $4,000. Homeowners get a $1,000 tax credit for each kilowatt of wind they install.

“This is a huge break through for small wind,” says Scott Weinbrandt, president of Helix Wind, a San Diego-based manufacturer of 2-and-4-kilowatt turbines.

greenwombat.blogs.fortune.cnn.com

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To: Eric who wrote (218)10/4/2008 3:18:12 PM
From: Eric
   of 230
 
Europe agrees bank crisis action

Europe's biggest economies have agreed to work together to support financial institutions - but without forming a joint bail-out fund.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy hosted the meeting of the leaders of Britain, Germany and Italy in Paris.

They agreed to seek a relaxation of the EU rules governing the amount of money individual states can borrow.

Mr Sarkozy announced a series of allied measures - including unspecified action against the executives of failed banks.

He said the four had agreed that the leaders of a financial institution that had to be rescued should be "sanctioned".

Mr Sarkozy added: "Each government will operate with its own methods and means, but in a co-ordinated manner."

Each country must take its responsibilities at a national level

The leaders also issued a joint call for a G8 summit "as soon as possible" to review the rules governing financial markets.

UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown said governments would continue to take measures to ease the credit shortage.

"The message to families and to businesses is that, as our central banks are already doing, liquidity will be assured in order to preserve confidence and stability," he told reporters after the mini-summit.

He said European leaders should send the message that "no sound, solvent bank should be allowed to fail through lack of liquidity".

German Chancellor Angela Merkel - who said she was not happy with Ireland's action in guaranteeing bank deposits - said each country must act in "a balanced way" that did not cause harm to other EU member states.

"Each country must take its responsibilities at a national level," she said.

The head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Dominique Strauss-Kahn, had earlier urged the EU to take co-ordinated action, saying the financial crisis was presenting Europe with a "trial by fire".

It has to be indicated to the markets... that European countries will not react as every man for himself

He held talks with Mr Sarkozy before the EU leaders' meeting and said that although the EU was a more complex organisation than the US, Europe needed to take "concerted collective action".

He said: "It has to be indicated to the markets... that European countries will not react as every man for himself."

He also said he would be scaling back his world economic growth forecasts.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, Central Bank chief Jean-Claude Trichet and the chairman of the eurozone group of finance ministers, Jean-Claude Juncker, also attended the meeting.

Mr Sarkozy suggested the EU's budget rules - requiring nations using the euro common currency to keep their budget deficits below 3% and overall public debt below 60% of gross domestic product - would be adapted to deal with financial crisis, reflecting the current "exceptional circumstances".

Mr Barroso said the rules would be applied with "flexibility".

Germany and UK sceptical

Ahead of the meeting, Germany had made clear its opposition to any co-ordinated European bail-out plan.

UK PM Gordon Brown was also sceptical of the need for any Europe-wide plan.

The president of the European Parliament has criticised the summit, warning that the leaders of Europe's four largest economies have no power to decide for the entire European Union.

Calls for European action follow the bail-out of both Bradford and Bingley in the UK and Fortis Bank by the governments of Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.


news.bbc.co.uk

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To: Eric who wrote (218)10/5/2008 10:20:17 PM
From: Lynn
   of 230
 
Scientists develop solar cells with a twist By Julie Steenhuysen
Sun Oct 5, 1:02 PM ET


CHICAGO (Reuters) - U.S. researchers have found a way to make efficient silicon-based solar cells that are flexible enough to be rolled around a pencil and transparent enough to be used to tint windows on buildings or cars.

ADVERTISEMENT

The finding, reported on Sunday in the journal Nature Materials, offers a new way to process conventional silicon by slicing the brittle wafers into ultrathin bits and carefully transferring them onto a flexible surface.

"We can make it thin enough that we can put it on plastic to make a rollable system. You can make it gray in the form of a film that could be added to architectural glass," said John Rogers of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who led the research.

"It opens up spaces on the fronts of buildings as opportunities for solar energy," Rogers said in a telephone interview.

Solar cells, which convert solar energy into electricity, are in high demand because of higher oil prices and concerns over climate change.

Many companies, including Japanese consumer electronics maker Sharp Corp and Germany's Q-Cells are making thin-film solar cells, but they typically are less efficient at converting solar energy into electricity than conventional cells.

Rogers said his technology uses conventional single crystal silicon. "It's robust. It's highly efficient. But in its current form, it's rigid and fragile," he said.

Rogers' team uses a special etching method that slices chips off the surface of a bulk silicon wafer. The sliced chips are 10 to 100 times thinner than the wafer, and the size can be adapted to the application.

Once sliced, a device picks up the bits of silicon chips "like a rubber stamp" and transfers them to a new surface material, Rogers said.

"These silicon solar cells become like a solid ink pad for that rubber stamp. The surface of the wafers after we've done this slicing become almost like an inking pad," he said.

"We just print them down onto a target surface."

The final step is to electrically connect these cells to get power out of them, he said.

Adding flexibility to the material would make the cells far easier to transport. Rogers envisions the material being "rolled up like a carpet and thrown on the truck."

He said the technology has been licensed to a startup company called Semprius Inc in Durham, North Carolina, which is in talks to license the technology.

"It's just a way to use thing we already know well," Rogers said.

(Editing by Maggie Fox and Eric Walsh)

news.yahoo.com

BTW, this is the first high speed Internet connection posting I have made in almost a year! I am in RI for a few days visiting friends after a yearly weekend gathering of the local amateur astronomy club. Getting back to dial-up when I get back to PA Wednesday is going to be more torture than usual.

Regards,

Lynn

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To: Lynn who wrote (220)10/6/2008 9:13:52 AM
From: Eric
   of 230
 
Lynn

Good story.

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To: Eric who wrote (221)10/7/2008 3:58:14 PM
From: John Koligman
1 Recommendation   of 230
 
Goldman issued a piece trashing the solar stocks today...

Best regards,
John

Solar: Goldman Turns Cautions; Fears Over Supply; Spreading Concerns On Impact Of Tight Credit
Posted by Eric Savitz
Solar stocks are trading sharply lower this morning after Goldman Sachs analyst Michael Molnar declared he has become cautious on the solar group, “as less generous subsidies combined with a wave of supply pose a real risk.”

Molnar asserts in a research note that the risk of oversupply in the solar market “will soon become a reality as considerably less generous demand subsidies take hold just as a wave of supply and tight financing hit the market.” He thinks that “liberal subsidies of the past in markets like Germany and Spain are unlikely to be replicated in the future givne fears of their ultimate cost in a bad world economy.”

As supply increases, he contends, prices will have to “adjust strongly downward to generate demand.” He thinks that trend will lead to below-consensus estimates for module manufacturers and compressed valuations for stocks in the sector.

Molnar today cut his rating on First Solar to a Conviction Sell from Buy, slashing his price target to $103 from $365. For SunPower (SPWRA) he goes to Sell from Buy, with a target of $43, down from $100. He also cuts his target on Evergreen Solar (ESLR) to $4.50 from $10.50.

He sharply reduced estimates for the solar stocks. For FSLR, he now sees $3.62 next year, and $5.92 in 2010, down from $3,75 and $7.13. For SPWRA, he sees $1.22 and $2.47, down from $1.27 and $2.63. For Energy Conversion Devices (ENER), he goes to $1.64 and $2.92, down from $1.72 and $2.87.

Meanwhile, Wedbush Morgan’s Al Kaschalk this morning cut his own target prices on the solar stocks this morning, asserting that “with negative macro economic conditions and concerns over availability of capital in the near term,” multiples are likely to remain compressed for now. He cut his target on FSLR to $225 from $350. For SPWRA, he goes to $100 from $125.

Piper Jaffray’s Jesse Pichel likewise cut his target prices and estimates on solar stocks today as well, asserting that checks with renewable energy project developers suggest “the cost of capital on renewable projects will likely increase despite potential Fed easing.” He says that “the problem is access to credit and not demand.” Pichel cut his target price on First Solar to $250, from $350, cutting his 2009 EPS estimate to $7.63 from $8.47.

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