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Posts tagged “reader submission”

By Robert Rapier on Mar 5, 2011 with 48 responses

Electric Aviation is the Future of Transport

During an average week, I will see a few ideas that at first glance appear to be a little crazy. On second glance, some of them still seem crazy, but then some of the seemingly crazy ideas are not as crazy as I initially thought. This essay is about an idea that falls into the latter category. I have long-believed that the future of aviation will still be liquid fuels due to the low energy density of batteries. While I am aware of ultra-light electric or solar-powered planes, it is hard for me to imagine a passenger plane being operated on electricity. This essay is about a hybrid version of electric aviation that gets around my concerns about electric planes… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Mar 3, 2010 with 87 responses

Will Solar Prices Fall into Grid Parity?

The following is a guest post written by Dan Harding. Dan has written numerous articles on the solar industry, and is a regular contributing author to CalFinder. ———————————- Will Solar Prices Fall into Grid Parity? By Dan Harding The Holy Grail…in solar-speak, it translates roughly to Grid Parity. It is a goal either mythical or predestined, depending on which side of the solar power movement the speaker resides. A recent surge in supply and technology, coupled with increased government subsidies, are tipping the scales toward destiny, although by no means is the path to grid parity set in stone. The rapid fall in prices for solar panels and other system components in an oversupplied and flooded market could continue home solar… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Jan 17, 2010 with no responses

Energy Policy and Renewable Hydrocarbons

The following guest essay is by Frank Weigert, a retired DuPont chemist who was involved in some of DuPont’s early work on alternatives to petroleum in the mid-1970′s. This work spurred a lifelong interest in a renewable hydrocarbon economy. Recently Frank sent me an e-mail in which he described his views on a pathway that could lead us away from our dependence on petroleum. It was a very detailed and technically interesting e-mail, and I asked him if we could turn it into an essay for others to read. What developed from that request was the essay below. —————————– Many people find it hard to think rationally about our energy problems because there is so much misinformation and disinformation out… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Nov 25, 2009 with 1 response

Potential Markets and Benefits from Ocean Thermal Energy

Happy Thanksgiving to those who will celebrate it tomorrow. I plan to spend the long weekend with my family, and probably won’t be on here much. In the interim, two things. First is that it is about time to start thinking about the top energy stories of the year. As in year’s past, I would like reader’s opinions on the top energy-related stories of 2009. I will put up a post late in December with the ones that I think are most significant. Second, I present a guest post by Dr. Robert Cohen on ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC). Dr. Cohen has been an advocate of OTEC for many years, and has posted a guest essay here previously: Ocean Thermal… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Nov 5, 2009 with no responses

The Energy Conundrum

The following is a guest post by Paul Winstanley, the Director of Energy Initiatives from the Stevens Institute of Technology. 1. Introduction This paper was written as preparation for the recent Discover and Shell sponsored “Fossil Fuels 2050” event in October 2009 at Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, New Jersey. Energy demand continues to increase rapidly. For example, the worldwide marketed energy consumption has been forecast to increase by 44% to 678 quadrillion British Thermal Units (BTUs) from 2006 to 2030 [1]. Within this period, fossil fuels (oil, natural gas and coal) are anticipated to remain the dominant energy source. Against this avaricious appetite for fossil fuel there is ambiguity over the reserves [2]. In addition to the issues associated… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Oct 18, 2009 with no responses

A High School Senior Asks About Peak Oil

I tend to get a lot of e-mails, and I try to make a point to answer them all. Sometimes, the e-mail is a question that I can quickly answer. Sometimes it is a request for comments on a specific technology. But sometimes I get one that someone put a considerable amount of time in, and it warrants a very detailed and thoughtful response. I just received one like that that I felt was worth sharing with readers. I asked the writer for permission to publish it, and she agreed in the hopes that it can help others struggling with these questions, and hopefully spawn some fruitful discussion. This letter was written by a high school senior, and it is… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Aug 6, 2009 with no responses

Answering Reader Questions 2009: Part 3

This was supposed to be the final installment of answers to the questions recently submitted by readers, but the answer to the first question went a little long. Here are the links to the previous installments: Answering Reader Questions 2009: Part 1 Answering Reader Questions 2009: Part 2 This installment covers advice to prospective engineering students, but I was also asked about books. If you get me started on books, then I may end up writing more than intended and that’s what I did here. So I only got the one question answered, and then listed 20 books that I have really enjoyed over the past few years. The Questions Anonymous wrote:Your advice to engineering students or students to be?… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Aug 5, 2009 with 2 responses

Rate Crimes: Impeding the Solar Tipping Point

The following guest essay was written by Paul Symanski. Paul is an electrical engineer with expertise in solar energy, and shares his views on why solar power often faces unnecessary headwinds. —————- To anyone who has ever spent a day in Arizona’s Valley of the Sun, it is obvious. The sunniest state in the nation is blessed, cursed, with a fierce sun. Yet, as one explores the landscape, artifacts of the capture of solar energy are conspicuously absent. This dearth is true for solar electric, domestic hot water, passive solar design, and even for urban design. It is as if the metropolis stands in obstinate defiance against the surrounding desert and its greatest gift. Yet, the incessant sun is a… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Jul 11, 2009 with no responses

Off to Canada, but the Floor is Open for Questions

I am flying to Alberta in the morning and will be there through the middle of the week, trying to learn more about the renewable energy opportunities there. I doubt I will put up anything new until I return. So I thought this might be a good time to solicit questions readers may have. I know that I don’t always address all questions in the comments, so if you have one that I have neglected, you can ask following this post and I will answer when I return. The last time I asked readers for questions, I got 30 or so that I answered in the following two posts: Answering Questions – Part I Answering Questions – Part II That’s… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Jan 31, 2009 with no responses

Repost of TDP: What Went Wrong

The is Part II of my look at Changing World Technologies’ thermal depolymerization process. This essay came from a reader, and was originally posted on April 12, 2007. But I also want to add some comments that regular reader “Optimist” added following the previous essay. First, those comments: The 85% efficiency claim is based on a faulty mass balance. The faulty mass balance is the basis for an equally faulty energy balance. You can verify by comparing production data (bbl oil/ton of waste) to the mass balance (still) presented by CWT. Contrary to what the breathless writers at Discover magazine believe, this technology is good only for recycling lipids (fats and oils) and the fat-soluble amino acids in protein. To… Continue»