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Windmills for all – cut us off the grid.

By richardh9935 18 November 2008 52

Can the people of the ACT reduce their CO2 contributions?  Yes, and here’s a plan.

Firstly, what are the sources of CO2?  They are:

1. Electricity generated for us, for our goods, for our services, and for our jobs.  That’s about 80%. 

2. In winter, another chunk comes from our heaters. 

3. Then there’s a bit from biology – us, our rubbish dumps, our pets, our compost bins.  Plus a bit from our vehicles and gas stoves.

How can we affect this production?  Very easily, with the following rules.

  1. Convert coal-fired power stations to gas, at least, and Thorium at best.
  2. Choose used goods – NOT NEW.  eg a new aluminium boat may weigh 90 kg, and that’s probably responsible for several tonnes of CO2.  The USED aluminium boat has paid its carbon tax, and is no longer responsible for any CO2.

And with these two simple rules, you will also save a lot of money, because price is proportional to CO2 production.

We in the ACT rely on the NSW power grid, with its coal-fired power stations.  They are responsible for about 80% of our greenhouse gas production.  (Coal companies claim 38%, and they are often 100% wrong…. so 80%!)   We need to cut ourselves off the grid, so that we’re not responsible for that CO2.

We could change to gas-fired power stations – that would halve the CO2.  However, even though the technology and the chemistry is the same as our own domestic gas stoves, and there’s no health threat from a gas stove,  there are spoilers who will prevent their construction.  People who would rather continue poisoning many other people, in the mistaken belief that they are not poisoning themselves.

Assuming the selfish anti-gas fired power station people win, I insist we cut our connections to the national grid.  This will force each household to seek its own energy.  We will innovate.

I will install a windmill.  It will be about 50 metres high, with 25 metre radius blades.  I think I can tune it to generate enough electricity for me.  I’ll also need a much bigger water tank, a significant header tank for water pressure, and several solar collectors for hot water.

Canberra will be a different place, and the technologists will survive.


What’s Your opinion?


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52 Responses to
Windmills for all – cut us off the grid.
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mossrocket 3:31 pm 10 Dec 08

lets just ban carbonated drinks….

there’s 1.4lt of compressed CO2 in every can of soft drink.
Coca Cola (for example) sell 4,000,000,000 cans (not to mention bottles) of Coke a year…
If you multiply that by all the other brands and flavours, then add Sparkling water, Beer, etc. and you get a helluvalot of CO2 entering the atmosphere…

Cordial is the green alternative 😉
and Green Cordial would have to be the best 😛

RuffnReady 7:52 pm 19 Nov 08

dexi said :

“How you solve the transport problem (40% of global emissions) is another matter.”

There is some interesting research going on around the world with algae, to produce diesel. It is carbon neutral, in that it absorbs carbon when growing and then releases it when burnt. It may hold more potential in biomass conversion, than land crops.

Yeah, I’ve read that too – still waiting for it to develop though. Whether you’re talking about turning algae into biodiesel or cellulose into methanol, that’s all fine and dandy. My point is more subtle. Depending on the reserves under the Arctic, and depending on the speed with which new infrastructure can be built, the world is at or past peak oil and it is going to start running short in the next decade. The world currently consumes about 85,000,000 b/DAY (31,000,000,000/yr!!!), and there are over 1,000,000,000 IC engine vehicles on the planet, and growing fast. Algae/Cellulose to biodiesel/methanol is all well and good, and we SHOULD be getting into both in a massive way, but we’re talking about replacing a huge quantity of fuel, and I just don’t see us ramping up production to meet the impending post-peak decline in oil production. And that’s without considering the implications of the ridiculous rate of growth in energy consumption. I’m with you, let’s do it, but I don’t see it happening quickly enough.

Gerry-built – totally agree. Good thermal performance in housing is EASY, yet we don’t do it! Orientation, thermal mass, insulation, appropriate glazing and ventilation, landscaping – do those things properly and you need you can reduce the energy consumption of a house by 50+%… yet we don’t require it! Absurd.

Gungahlin Al – I like your idea.

Viper – you may be right. I think I was confusing the thorium cycle with 4th generation pebble bed reactors… something I read years ago. Will go look it up! 🙂

AlpineViper 11:51 am 19 Nov 08

I think you’ll find that the Thorium fuel cycle produces far less plutonium. In fact, it actually eats weapons grade plutonium and produces an isotype of plutonium that is no good for weapons.

While radioactive, thorium is not fissile in and of itself.

Australia also sits on the worlds largest reserves of the stuff.

Note: Someone smarter may wish to check such facts themselves, as I haven’t exactly done physics since first year uni.

http://blogs.princeton.edu/chm333/f2006/nuclear/05_fuel_fabrication/new_types_of_fuel/

http://www.eoearth.org/article/Thorium

Gungahlin Al 9:21 am 19 Nov 08

Indeed Gerrybuilt: which is why I have been promoting the idea of mandatory energy star ratings on land blocks at the point of sale.

This market mechanism would lead to developers of new estates putting more thought into the design of blocks.

Something that only occurred to me now is that it might also slow the push towards smaller blocks a bit, as too small makes passive solar design near impossible – a problem raised recently by SEDA.

Gerry-Built 2:42 am 19 Nov 08

Whilst developers and builders continue to build houses poorly oriented, with 50 year old building technology in a so called “sustainable village” (ie wander around Macgregor West), I see no point in pursuing alternative energy technologies on a large scale!

Better to start with improved thinking/planning at user-end, conserving energy where possible using good design principles; solar mass, orientation, solar stacks, cross-ventilation, insulation etc.

Do for building what Water Restrictions have enforced on water usage…

Adza 11:19 pm 18 Nov 08

It’s not April Fools Day is it?

Gungahlin Al 12:47 pm 18 Nov 08

I think this whole post is just some right winger’s idea of a wind up.

p1 12:35 pm 18 Nov 08

ABC has a report that says that Australians will accept nuclear power. While this may be true, I would point to the fact that they currently accept coal fired power, so they can’t be trusted.

p1 12:15 pm 18 Nov 08

Once again, hope you’re not serious. Yeah, that was a joke.

However, at the moment we are still stuck in the coal paradigm and not enough action is being taken. Exactly. and while I feel for people that might have their lives interrupted by a disappearance of the coal fired power industry, the fact is it will take 10 or 20 years if we are incredibly lucky, and there will be a lot of jobs building all the wind turbines, solar plants, and rocket for firing plutonium into space…

….with algae, to produce diesel. lots of potential to reduce energy expenditure on production related costs over land crops to, like ploughing and harvesting.

dexi 12:06 pm 18 Nov 08

“How you solve the transport problem (40% of global emissions) is another matter.”

There is some interesting research going on around the world with algae, to produce diesel. It is carbon neutral, in that it absorbs carbon when growing and then releases it when burnt. It may hold more potential in biomass conversion, than land crops.

jimbocool 11:05 am 18 Nov 08

Who will pay, RnR? The same people that always do – us. Either as consumers or taxpayers (indeed as both) we’ll be paying. Not that I mind in the context of your particular example…

radonezh 11:01 am 18 Nov 08
RuffnReady 10:55 am 18 Nov 08

radonezh said :

Hot rocks is a good technology, but unfortunately for Australia, the really good hot rocks are out in the middle of desert where the transmission losses from the power station to any population centre would make it useless. Same goes for constructing nuclear power plants in the middle of the desert..

HOWEVER, if you were to build that remote power plant in the desert and use the power to make millions of cheap photovoltaic sliver cells out there in the desert, which could then be transported in vast numbers to the cities for use, then that’s a different story. It would boot-strap solution which would get around the problem of PV cells being so energy-intensive to manufacture (coz you have to melt silicon to make the substrates). The trick is to build the power plant somewhere where there’s lots and lots of sand or quartz deposits for the silicon.

The point on geothermal, not true – sure, there are distance losses, but they don’t obliterate all of the power, otherwise Geodynamics would not be developing its plant out there. The bigger issue is who will pay for the 500km of HV lines to the grid.

RuffnReady 10:47 am 18 Nov 08

p1 said :

Ever notice that there is NOT ONE long-term high-level nuclear waste storage facility in the world yet?

Put it on a rocket and fire it into space…

Once again, hope you’re not serious. Not only would it take huge quantities of energy to do that, but in risk management terms it’s a disaster – one mistake (see, shuttle, space) and you spread radioactivity over a vast area.

BTW, my thought experiment above was just to show how a real effort could be made with wind alone – if you work on geothermal, mini-hydro and solar PV/thermal at the same time, with say 10% targets, and lengthen the timeline out to 20 years, we could conceivably have 50% of our electricity grid renewable by 2030. However, at the moment we are still stuck in the coal paradigm and not enough action is being taken.

How you solve the transport problem (40% of global emissions) is another matter.

Oh, and land clearing HAS TO STOP. Not only does that produce large quantities of CO2, it also reduces the environment’s ability to assimilate the stuff. We need to save the forests of Indonesia/PNG/Brazil at all costs as they are huge carbon sinks.

Growling Ferret 10:41 am 18 Nov 08

What ever happened to the 1km tall solar tower proposed for Mildura?

radonezh 10:40 am 18 Nov 08

jimbocool said :

Not forgetting hot rocks which has theoretically limitless generating capacity. It’s clean too – unless of course they rupture the very fabric of the Earth by exploiting them, burying us all in ‘liquid-hot-magma’.

Hot rocks is a good technology, but unfortunately for Australia, the really good hot rocks are out in the middle of desert where the transmission losses from the power station to any population centre would make it useless. Same goes for constructing nuclear power plants in the middle of the desert..

HOWEVER, if you were to build that remote power plant in the desert and use the power to make millions of cheap photovoltaic sliver cells out there in the desert, which could then be transported in vast numbers to the cities for use, then that’s a different story. It would boot-strap solution which would get around the problem of PV cells being so energy-intensive to manufacture (coz you have to melt silicon to make the substrates). The trick is to build the power plant somewhere where there’s lots and lots of sand or quartz deposits for the silicon.

poptop 10:40 am 18 Nov 08

If the Maralinga tests taught us anything it might be that Australia’s interiors aren’t as uninhabited as we like to think.

p1 10:35 am 18 Nov 08

Pollution that lasts tens or hundreds of thousands of years can spread a pretty long way if not well contained you know. And what have you got against lizards?

radonezh 10:33 am 18 Nov 08

jimbocool said :

Thorium? Thorium is the key ingredient in the Russians’ Doomsday Machine!

Russian Doomsday Machines are now available in environmentally friendly models that are 99% Thorium-free.

seekay 10:33 am 18 Nov 08

Er… uninhabited means no locals, Ruffn, other than some lizards and Godzilla was fiction, you know.

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