[GWSG] What Hansen knows; white roofs; renewable chances; cheap pv; cheap thermal solar; my celebratory mood

Tilley, Al atilley at unf.edu
Tue Mar 13 11:46:38 EDT 2012

1.  Rob Overly sends this 18 minute tape of Jim Hansen at TED explaining “Why I must speak out about climate change.”  He concludes by saying “Now you know what I know.”  http://www.ted.com/talks/james_hansen_why_i_must_speak_out_about_climate_change.html

2.  A study in New York found that roofs coated with white membrane were 43° cooler than black roofs.  I imagine that if we could get people to coat their roofs and put a sign on their lawn saying “My white roof is saving me 15% on my electric bill” (which they do) we might see more white roofs.    http://e360.yale.edu/digest/new_york_city_roof_study_shows_drastic_cooling_with_white_surfaces/3365/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+YaleEnvironment360+%28Yale+Environment+360%29

3.  Ernst & Young reports that Florida is tied with North Carolina as the 17th most attractive state for development of renewable energy sources.  Small solar is growing particularly through third-party owned installations.  The price for silicon-based solar panels should continue to drop (it was $1.80/watt at the start of 2011).  The expiration of federal supports poses a particular danger to development, according to the report.  Thanks to Tom Larson for the extract.  The next two items illustrate how quickly the situation is changing with regard to renewable energy sources, and give sufficient cause for a cheerful mood.

4.  The Twin Creeks Technologies factory in Mississippi is producing equipment to manufacture solar cells at $.40/watt, using half the silicon and a cheaper process.  The cheapest previous cells were twice as expensive.   http://www.technologyreview.com/energy/39887/?p1=A1   Solar power may no longer depend on supports to be competitive, even with the lavishly support accorded the fossil fuel industry.  Wind power is already cheaper than coal in some areas.

We are approaching a great setup for a revenue neutral carbon tax, since power producers will already have the carrot of lower costs for renewable sources.  Or we could just cut all subsidies, direct and indirect, and the fossil fuel industry might die rather quickly without further encouragement.   Given that the next item solves the problem of providing base load, why not let the nuclear industry undergo a similar euthanasia?

5.  Halotechnics has developed materials to store heat from thermal solar arrays more efficiently and at a higher temperature than before.  The breakthrough should allow thermal solar to produce steady power at $.06/kilowatt-hour, the goal of the SunShot initiative (and approximately at the minimum cost of coal power to utilities).  http://www.technologyreview.com/computing/39856/?p1=MstRcnt

6.  Thermal solar power now promises to supply base load at or below current costs, along with geothermal, hydropower, and tidal power, all steady sources (though often more expensive than the new thermal solar).  (Tidal power can be rendered continuous through the use of barrages.)  Are we not on the point of preserving the earth and much of its life after all, with the most tragic effects of our ignorance avoided?  I must feel that we have turned a corner in the right direction, at long last.  Jim Hanson describes our deteriorating situation well in item one.  Item two provides an example of the sorts of efficiency measures which can ease the transition to renewable energy.  Item three shows the thought we have been giving to the conditions of the transition here, and could be easily replicated for the other regions of the earth.  Items four and five, from the most trustworthy source of tech news, indicate that we have passed the technical and economic barriers to energy transition.  I shall now celebrate before anyone tells me why I should not.  But let me know anyway if you do see why.
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