Archive for June, 2010

What we want is power

“We don’t give a damn about energy. What we want is power.”

~Power Hungry, Ch. 1

The difference between energy and power…

  • Energy is the ability to do work.
  • Power is the rate at which work gets done.

The two can be related using time:

  • Power = Energy/time

We care about how much power we have, not how much energy. It is more power that allows us to move more quickly. Power is what accomplishes tasks – energy is just lip service.

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Power Hungry by Robert Bryce

This week, I read Robert Bryce’s book, Power Hungry: The Myths of “Green” Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future. The book was published in January 2010 and for those who have grown tired of dated commentary that has lost its applicability, Bryce’s writing is a great find.  The ideas and analysis presented run head-on into the tangle of political ideologies, propoganda, and other qualitative discussions – refuting them not through more words, but through more quantitative analysis and discussion of results. All presented in a readable fashion that doesn’t require an advanced engineering degree to decipher.

That being said, I should add that I do not necessarily agree with all of the conclusions drawn in this book. But, these differences occur not because of a lack of quantitative data to support Bryce’s conclusions. Rather, I believe that in the energy debate and drive toward a sustainable energy future, there are many paths that we could take. Bryce refutes several currently held beliefs in the energy community and presents his ideas on how our energy systems can most successfully evolve. While I like certain aspects of his energy development plan, if I were queen for a day (as he is king for the purpose of his book), I would choose a slightly different path.

Over the next (probably) few weeks, I will write about different arguments and discussions presented in this book.

First up – Americans vs. the Danes: Who’s winning outside of the pitch?

June 28: TEDxOilSpill

On June 28th at 9am, an independently organized TEDx event on the BP oil spill will be held in Washington, DC. The live webcast can be viewed here starting at 9am.

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BP Removes Cap – Flow Increases

Flow of oil into the Gulf of Mexico increased today, as BP was forced to remove a cap that they previously placed on top of one of the oil leeks. This cap has been collecting about 700,000 gallons (~16,600 barrels) per day, piping it into nearby tankers. This removal became necessary after an underwater robot “bumped” into the venting system. This system has been preventing the formation of the ice crystals that botched the first cap attempt.

According to Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, the cap will be brought to the surface and then checked to ensure that ice crystals have not formed. If the system is still in operating condition, it could be placed back on the leak.

Smarter Grids in Texas

Kate Galbraith wrote a piece for today’s Texas Tribune on the smart grid concepts and how they’re being implemented in Texas. The article can be found here. In this piece, she mentions the Pecan Street Project, which I’ve previously written about and a project in San Marcos (just south of Austin).

Power Hungry: The Myths of “Green” Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future

June 20, 2010 1 comment

This week, I’m diving into a book written by Austin-based author, Robert Bryce.

Of Bryce’s four books, I’ve decided to first dive into Power Hungry: The Myths of “Green” Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future. This choice was ultimately made when this book was the first to become available via the Austin Public Library system. The book arrived at my local branch yesterday.

I’m currently on page 24 – my goal is to finish the book this week, while still finishing all required reading for my summer school classes, writing a chapter of my thesis, and meeting all of my research goals. Fingers crossed.

What I’ve learned (more accurately, what I’ve been told – I haven’t looked at the footnotes to check into the calculations yet) so far:

  1. Bryce puts a lot of emphasis on quantitative analysis – the data. (Sweet!)
  2. Quantitative analysis shows that a “green” energy future isn’t feasible unless we’re willing to forgo the cheap energy that has afforded the United States many of its opportunities for growth and advancement.
  3. The best option for the U.S. is to first transition to natural gas (short-term) on the way to nuclear power as the main energy source for the country (TBD how the transportation sector fits in here – assume Bryce will discuss this later in the book).

Energy Independence According to 8 Presidents

I highly recommend that y’all check out Sheril’s Kirschenbaum’s post today on Discover Magazine’s blog, The Intersection – which includes a video of John Stewart’s piece on energy independence. The video is not only informative and interesting, but quite funny. Definitely worth the ~8 minutes.

It’s interesting to see how this topic is not isolated to one party, but instead spans Republicans and Democrats over decades.

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