Our proposal is to build a completely new US power system, based 100 % on renewable energy sources. These sources are to be solar photovoltaic and wind energy, plus solar thermal energy, with carbon neutral biomass fuels available in reserve, in highly efficient heat engines used to level loads and for backup.
The Path to US Energy Independence
Gary P. Hoffman
|Our proposal is to build a completely new US power system, based 100 % on renewable energy sources. These sources are to be solar photovoltaic and wind energy, plus solar thermal energy, with carbon neutral biomass fuels available in reserve, in highly efficient heat engines used to level loads and for backup.|
|The Path to US Energy Independence|
Gary P. Hoffman
The Path to US Energy Independence
In the United States many people are beginning to realize that there are a variety of problems, or "things not right" that seem to revolve around energy.
Firstly, there are the financial issues. The costs of most types of energy are either at, or well beyond, their historic highs. It is widely recognized that these costs will now escalate steadily, as supplies dwindle and demand increases. There is concern about the impact of these costs on the financial well being of our people. Competition with the growing needs of Asian and other economies will further drive prices upwards, especially in the short term.
Then there are the issues of security of supply. Most of the remains of the world's dwindling Oil supply are located in Countries that are, to say the least, unstable and potentially hostile. Some feel we are already at War over Oil. While certainly the American People would never countenance the taking of the Oil property of foreign peoples by military force, it is also true that our attempts to stabilize the governments of certain foreign countries would lack their present urgency if doing so were not in the "Self Interest" of our Country.
There is a growing concern about Global Warming. Increasingly it is being recognized that profligate use of fossil fuels has led us to the brink of disaster in this regard. Recently, the news has held accounts of the Governments of entire nations appealing to the UN to act, to prevent the complete submersion in the Sea of their whole countries. While, here at home in the US, many coastal areas are at risk. And we are increasingly subject to wild extremes of weather and unusually violent storms, leading to much loss of life and property.
There is a wide consensus now that these problems exist; that they are real. People are beginning to ask about solutions. But there is no consensus on how to move forward. No agreement on what steps to take. No understanding on which solutions are to be preferred, or even if there exists a comprehensive solution.
It shall be the business of this white paper to outline that best solution. Here we will explain the path forward and delineate the steps necessary to achieve it. In the process it will be seen that the solution is in every way positive. That it leads not only to abundant, affordable energy, but also to the solution of the above problems, as well as financial growth and security.
What is the Problem ?
This paper concerns itself with the pressing issue of securing energy independence for the US, while at the same time, forging solutions to the associated problems of global warming, security of supply, and financial growth and stability. This is an immense issue, and the problems resist a simple statement.
For the sake of both brevity and clarity, we will attempt to summarize the problem below, without exploring the details of each facet of it. Thus we may list the issues as follows:
Adequacy of Supply:
As our population continues to increase, and as we act to preserve and improve the quality of life of each of our citizens, there is an obvious need for greater supplies of energy. We may fairly say that there is a minimum per capita energy requirement that must be met.
It is at the least improbable that any efforts at stabilizing population growth would ever succeed to the extent of ending, or even significantly reducing the population growth rate of the country. As it stands now, only a great disaster would have the potential to accomplish this. Obviously, we would seek to avert such a disaster.
Given the inevitability of US population growth, it follows that the Secured supply of energy must increase in like manner, or serious Disruptions will occur. Although energy conservation is of great value, and is to be sought after, it ultimately is not the answer, as the continued growth of the population will finally overwhelm any possible conservation regimen.
However, domestic production of energy in the US from fossil fuels peaked long ago. Alternatives that have been pursued up until now such as Nuclear, have come with their own huge costs, and have proven inadequate or grossly undesirable. Thus we have been led to the importation of vast amounts of foreign fossil fuels.
Ultimately, this cannot be sustained. Not only will we destroy life on the planet through the unconstrained use of the remaining fossil fuels, but these fuels are finite in supply. They will run out. There is no question of this, it is simply a matter of time.
Thus, as matters now stand, there is no assured path to an adequate supply of energy in the US for the future.
Security of Supply
At present, the US energy supply is heavily dominated by fossil fuels. There are significant nuclear and hydropower resources, but these are not likely to expand much beyond their current levels of contribution. In the case of Hydro this is because many of the best resources are already developed, while there is strong opposition to overdeveloping those few which remain. Nuclear power expansion is almost impossible, given the huge costs, waste issues, and universal opposition to such a course.
Since fossil fuels will therefore be the dominant source of energy unless something else is done, it can be seen that security of supply will be a major issue. This is because of the obvious fact that most of the world's remaining dwindling supply of fossil fuels lies in the hands of countries which are unstable at best, and openly hostile to the interests of the US at worst.
However much we may act to "stabilize" these countries, this situation is basically unalterable. These regions will never be the stable, democratically ruled nations we would wish them to be. Nor will their policies ever come to favor the US to the extent we would wish.
As a result, Terrorism, whether state sponsored or not, will remain a way of life in these countries. This will threaten the stability of energy supplies coming from these countries no matter what else is done. Furthermore, the official policies of these countries will certainly always favor their own financial and political interests at the expense of those of the US. Thus, even before the supplies run out, their availability to the US is a matter of grave doubt.
Financial Impacts of Energy Costs
Energy costs are already high by historic standards. It has become obvious to nearly everyone that these prices are only the beginning of what is to come.
As fossil fuels become more scarce, energy costs will inevitably rise much higher. In addition, world population increases will continue, leaving more people to compete for an increasingly scare resource. Obviously, this will drive prices higher still.
Continued terrorist acts will produce both real and perceived threats to the lines of supply. This will act to make the costs of energy not only high but also unstable and unpredictable. This level of unpredictability will carry its own level of instability into the financial markets.
It is obvious that high and unpredictable fuel costs will impact the financial performance of the Nation, and the financial well-being of every person. This is enough to greatly reduce the standard of living of every person in the US.
Many persons once scoffed at the idea that human activity was gravely altering the climate of the earth. Early adopters of this belief were derided as being alarmists, and ill-informed crackpots.
This is no longer the case.
An overwhelming body of scientific evidence now exists which proves conclusively that global warming is a fact. Indeed, many are beginning to believe that it not only exists, but has already progressed much further than even the believers had thought.
It is now well understood that the consequences of uncontrolled global warming would be catastrophic. Entire island nations would be wiped out. Coastal regions of all countries, including of course the US, would be devastated. Coastal cities, including New York and many others, could find themselves partially or completely destroyed.
If the use of fossil fuels is allowed to continue, and even expand, up until such use is finally ended by running out of these fuels, then the worst possible scenarios foreseen for global warming will take place.
This will leave us without fuel, precisely at the time when immense populations, and a grossly unstable environment, will scream out for the expenditure of massive amounts of energy to offset the destructive effects of global warming, and to preserve our very lives in the face of these effects. Consideration of global warming alone, without the other great issues of supply, security, and finance, would lead us to the obvious conclusion that we must not allow the unrestricted use of fossil fuels to continue beyond the present times.
The Outline of the Solution.
At present, our Nation is expending vast resources in a vain attempt to support the status quo in energy. A lesser Nation would not even be able to attempt efforts of this magnitude.
Consider that at the present day, counting both civilian and military personnel, and those on the scene and those supporting them at home, we have perhaps 300,000 persons or more engaged in work to "stabilize" or "pacify" areas in the world from which we either derive our fossil fuel supplies, or from which terrorist attacks against them may originate. This involves the direct expenditure of at least a billion dollars a day. Further, we have lost over 2000 American lives in the effort.
Despite this heroic effort, we are no closer today to stability or peace in these regions. There is no real prospect that there ever will be peace or stability in these regions. Besides this, we cannot use these fossil fuels anyway, without disastrous results. So, what is to be done?
The answer is obvious. We must make a clean break with this policy. We must move instead to a sustainable future.
But, and here we differ from most analysts, we must do so on a truly massive scale. A scale not less than the scale of our present efforts to maintain the status quo. We must deploy these same resources productively, on an immense scale, to change our entire energy supply to a sustainable, renewable, carbon neutral future base.
In outline form, here is the solution.
The New Energy Sources
Our new energy sources are to be completely renewable. For these we must employ Solar Photovoltaic, Wind Energy, Solar Thermal and Biomass. We must meet the entire energy needs of our country from these four sources alone.
Can this be done practically? The answer is a simple yes. The details will be expanded on in the later sections.
The result will be a nearly infinite supply of clean, renewable energy, with no possibility of disruption of supply, no issues of pollution or global warming, and no escalation of price over time.
The Distribution and Storage of the New Energy
Our new energy sources must be built in several, distributed central power plants. Each plant must be designed to supply the entire energy needs of the region it is intended to support. In addition, a generous surplus of energy must be available for export to other regions, to accommodate downtimes for maintenance, as well as outages and other problems.
For all this to work, the form of the energy must be electric. This is the highest quality energy, and the most easily transported and produced. It can also be stored.
To facilitate the use of these quantities of electricity, the national power grid must be completely rebuilt, on a suitable scale.
When other forms of energy are needed, such as heat or fuels for transportation, the electrical energy can readily be either converted to these forms, or used to produce them.
The Financial Means of Accomplishing the Goal
Both the power plants and the grid facilities will be expensive. Obviously significant financial resources will be called for. It is obvious however, that these resources are already available, and are being wasted at the present time.
In short, instead of wasting a billion dollars a day, and the efforts of 300,000 persons, on ill-fated efforts to pacify portions of the world and secure our energy supplies, we should instead divert them to this effort.
If we had 300,000 workers, and a billion dollars a day to spend, this renewable energy system could quickly and painlessly be built. In the process, we would end our dependence on foreign supplies of energy. All of the money spent would be spent in the US. This would create millions of jobs in industry and elsewhere, and create great wealth for American citizens. And of course, we would immediately end the senseless wars of "pacification". Thousands of lives would be saved.
When the system was complete, it would be ours to keep and use forever. No other country could deny us access to it. The huge amounts of low cost energy it would provide would greatly benefit American industry. This would make us more competitive on the world market, bringing us still further financial benefits.
Thus, rather than being a cost imposed on society, this project would apply already available funds much more productively, to benefit Americans for generations to come.
In addition to the benefits already mentioned, the growth of carbon in the atmosphere would be halted, and even reversed. Since the US uses a majority of the world's energy, we alone by undertaking this effort could product this result.
The rest of the world would see our success, and would eventually follow in our path, as their resources allowed. This would further improve the world situation.
With an end to global warming, and the stabilization of the environment, would come a reversal of the damage to the environment that we have seen thus far. We would also see the elimination of other kinds of pollution, such as acid rain.
The remaining supplies of oil and other fossil fuels could be put to much better use than that of burning them. For instance, plastics and pharmaceuticals rely upon hydrocarbons for their production.
The financial benefits, already alluded to, would ensure that our Nation enters upon a sustained period of prosperity. This would benefit everyone, without imposing a cost for future generations to bear.
Energy security and abundance, would likewise persist for the indefinite future. This would allow our people to undertake virtually any project they chose. Benefits to society are the inevitable result. In a period of sustained stability and prosperity the efforts of man could be directed to the arts and sciences, with resulting benefits to all.
The Design of Centralized, Renewable Energy Plants.
The schematic shown below illustrates the conceptual design of a centralized renewable energy plant.
The fundamental requirement for this design is that it be able to produce an uninterrupted supply of high quality power under all conditions whatsoever. For this reason it includes diverse sources of renewable energy.
Each of these sources would be sized appropriately to be able to supply the full rated output of the plant.
In addition, a large bank of storage batteries would be provided. These would be used to smooth out moment to moment fluctuations in the power output of the plant. Such fluctuations would occur during a wind gust for example, or during a period when a cloud drifts in front of the sun, momentarily reducing the output of the solar array.
These batteries would also provide the needed output during the period needed to start up the Heat Engines, following the setting of the sun, or a sudden drop in the wind, or the like. They would be sized to provide full plant output for an hour, which is more than sufficient time for this purpose.
Under favorable conditions, when both sun and wind are available, even higher levels of power would be available than the rated output of the plant. Besides recharging the batteries, this means that very large amounts of power would be available for export via the grid to other areas. In this way, by sharing power between plants, it is expected that use of the Heat Engines may be kept to an absolute minimum.
The Heat Engines, when burning biomass as their fuel, are still carbon neutral, and thus do not contribute any harmful carbon dioxide gas to worsen global warming. They also provide a guaranteed market for our Nation's farmers to sell excess biomass products at a good price.
The rated power of the plants, and the total number of plants, will be designed such that several times the present day energy needs of the country for all purposes combined, are available. This allows for a very large growth in energy consumption in the country, without any need to redesign the system. In this way, the design will be seen to be adequate for the needs of several generations without replacement or redesign. Only periodic maintenance and repair will be needed.
Since only minimal amounts of biomass fuel are needed, and since solar and wind power are free, this means that the combined costs of operation, once the plants are built and paid for will be very minimal. This in turn means that power will be extremely inexpensive, and essentially unlimited in its availability.
The intent would be to locate one such plant in each of the 50 states. Thus each plant would supply its own 1/50th share of the total energy need. This makes the size of these plants manageably small. There is plenty of undeveloped space in each state to painlessly accommodate such plants.
It is estimated that the present rate of US energy consumption - for ALL purposes - is about 3.345 Terawatts. We would design for several times this need. Then divide the resulting total by 50, that is, by the total number of plants. This would give us the needed output capability for each plant. Then each plant would be conservatively designed to easily generate its assigned output. For example, suppose we design for 10 times the need. This would be about 33.45 Terawatts. Then divide this among 50 plants. This would yield a requirement of 0.669 Terawatts per power plant.
With this as a target goal, then we will develop below the details of how much solar and wind energy, heat engine capacity, battery storage, and so forth will be required in each plant.
The basic requirement for capacity will be driven as follows. Each of the two primary resources, that is wind and solar, will each by itself be able to supply the entire plant output. The reason for this is obvious, as the Sun never shines at night, nor does the wind always blow during the nighttime. Thus we will often have one source but not the other.
The third source, the Heat Engines, must likewise be able to carry an appropriate load when necessary. However, it may not require the same degree of over design as the solar and wind resources. This is because we will attempt first in all cases to avoid the burning of fuel in favor of using free power, shipped in via the grid from other plants. Thus perhaps instead of being over designed by a factor of 10, as given above for the other two sources, a factor of two may suffice. This allows much long term growth, as well as ample downtime for maintenance, while still meeting the needs.
Thus, in summary, each plant is to have a rated power generation capability as follows:
As seen in the diagram, several high efficiency heat engines will be provided at each plant. Together they will combine to produce their needed total output.
It is expected that some use of the Heat Engines will be made on a daily basis. It is too much to hope that there will always be enough wind or sun at every moment. On the other hand, the full output of all Heat Engines combined will seldom be needed. This means that these engines can be operated flexibly as required, with only one or two operating, and more brought on line if and when needed. All engines will be used on a rotating basis, to equalize wear, and assure that all are exercised and known to be in good operating order at all times.
Solar Photovoltaic Power.
Solar Photovoltaic power is the most reliable source of power we have in our power mix. That is because the Sun shines every day without fail. Naturally, on some days the sky is overcast. But even on those days, modern solar cells are quite capable of providing a very useful amount of output. The obvious design procedure is to design for the overcast days, and then have a surplus on other days.
In line with this design philosophy, we assume that there are only 300 watts per square yard of solar energy available. We further assume that the cells used are only 15 % efficient. This gives us a solar yield of 45 watts per square yard. This value is extremely conservative.
There are 3,097,600 square yards in a square mile. This means we can expect a yield of 139,392,000 watts per square mile. This is 0.000139392 terawatts.
Since we require 0.669 terawatts, this means we require at total of 4,800 square miles for each site, which is a space equal to 69.3 by 69.3 miles square. This small space can very easily be found in each state. In this small space per state, the entire power needs of the nation will be met - for all forms of power, not just the electric power, but power for heating, transportation, and so forth.
The solar cells will be mounted on Sun tracking mounts, that track the passage of the sun in two dimensions. This will maximize the output of the panels at every point in the day, and at all seasons. In addition, maximum power point tracking solar inverters/controllers will be used, which will ensure that the maximum possible amount of energy is extracted from the cells at every point during the day. The mounting of the cells well above the ground will ensure abundant cooling for the cells, which minimizes their operating temperature and thus maximizes their output.
On most days, the output of the solar array will exceed its design rating. This excess power will be available for export to adjacent areas via the grid.
On the same site, we will co-locate wind turbines which are capable of providing a total output of 0.669 terawatts of energy. Since the wind resource at each site will not necessarily be perfectly optimum for wind generation, in general it will be essential to use Turbines whose design has been optimized for low wind speed power generation.
This means that sufficiently tall towers must be used, to keep the hub height of the turbine well above ground level. In addition, longer blades will be used, giving a greater swept area per turbine. And finally, the blades will be shaped optimally for the wind speeds expected.
Modern turbines, rated at 4 megawatts each will be used. To achieve 0.669 terawatts of output, we will employ 167,250 turbines at each site. This is only a concentration of 35 turbines per square mile. This is an array of only 6 x 6 turbines in each square mile, which will very easily fit into the space occupied by the solar cells. They will be spaced over 880 feet apart, which will minimize any interactions.
On most days and nights, given the height of the towers, and the optimization of the designs for low wind speeds, the wind array will be able to produce a very large percentage of its rated output. To ensure that an even greater percentage of rated output is available, we will employ a surplus of turbines above that required to just meet the rated output. A starting point for this would be to employ 180,000 turbines at each site.
On favorable days and nights, the array will thus be capable of producing a surplus of power, above its rated value. Since this surplus will be unneeded locally, it will be available for export to the grid, to make up for any shortfalls at adjacent plants.
Energy Storage in the Batteries.
Obviously, the power provided by each facility has to be absolutely stable and reliable. The frequency and voltage must be held constant, and sufficient wattage must be available at all times.
There will be both short term and long term fluctuations in the availability of wind and Sun of course. Long term shortages, such as calm winds for a whole day, and of course, lack of sun at night, will be accounted for by the Heat Engines. The short term fluctuations, such as wind gusts (both up and down) or clouds drifting in front of the Sun, will be handled by the battery storage system.
Sufficient energy must be stored in the batteries to accommodate any conceivable short term fluctuation, as well as to provide backup power while the heat engines are started at the beginning of a long term fluctuation.
Since the rated TOTAL output of each plant is only 0.669 terawatts, then to provide two hours of backup power, we need at total battery storage of 1.338 terawatt hours of energy.
This is no problem. There are 1000 amp hour batteries, with 48 volt outputs, readily available for this use. Thus each single battery provides 48,000 watt hours of storage. We thus need 27,875,000 batteries per site.
This is no big deal. Stacked 4 high, this is an array of about 1320 x 1320 batteries. Since each battery needs just over a square foot of space, we need about 2,000,000 square feet of storage space, which is simply the equivalent of a large shipping warehouse.
Obviously, additional batteries will be provided to ensure that drawing the rated total amount of energy from the battery reserve will not totally discharge the battery bank, thus damaging it or shortening its life. The real total battery bank size thus will be about 30,000,000 batteries.
Since the total energy draw will not in fact be 0.669 terawatts, given the over design of the system, this means that battery power alone will be able to sustain power output for many hours in a typical scenario. In fact, some modest amount of power will even be available from the batteries for export to the grid to adjacent areas, for a modest period of time. This will ensure rock solid stability of the grid in the face of extremely adverse circumstances.
Backup Power from High Efficiency Heat Engines.
The heat engines will of course be used at those times when the other sources are just not available in sufficient quantity. This may happen regularly, but the total capacity of all the available heat engines will almost never be needed. Rather there will generally be a need to use only one or two of them, which can be done on a rotating basis to equalize wear and assure maximum availability.
Energy for the Heat Engines will either come from burning of Biomass, or from the Solar Thermal Collectors. Both of these sources will be able to recharge the heat storage tank, so that Biomass will only have to be used when the heat storage is depleted. This will further reduce the amount of Biomass that will actually be used.
Biomass is an excellent source of energy. It can be produced in any quantity needed at reasonable prices by our nation's farmers. It is renewable, with an essentially infinite supply thus available over time. It is carbon neutral. And, there is little or no release of other pollutants, such as sulfur, since biomass is free of these impurities.
The Solar Thermal collectors may be of the Solar Trough design or the Parabolic Dish design, depending on the temperatures needed by the heat engines. Once heat is collected, it will be either sent directly to the heat engines, if they are running at the time, or it will be stored in the heat storage tanks.
To use the various heat sources effectively, we will require a high efficiency Heat Engine. The basic heat engine design will consist of the following elements:
A Universal, External Combustor.
This will be designed to accept a very wide range of biomass fuels and burn them efficiently and cleanly. There will be a fuel feed system that will grind up the biomass and feed it into the combustion chamber at the proper controlled rate.
A Heat Recuperator will be used to vastly increase the thermal efficiency of the system. This will pick up waste heat from the exhaust of the combustor, and recycle it back to the input of the combustor, preheating the incoming combustion air.
Stack scrubbers and catalytic converters will be use to totally clean the exhaust.
Solar Thermal Collectors and A Heat Transfer System.
This will collect the heat from the combustor or the solar collectors, and transfer it to the heat engine.
The Heat Engine Itself.
These basic components will be used to build an array of several Heat Engines at each site. Together they will add up to the required capacity of 0.1338 terawatts. One or two extra engines will be provided, to allow for maintenance or other unexpected downtime.
Using an array of smaller engines allows them to be brought online one at a time, as their capacity is needed. They can likewise be disconnected sequentially, as the need is reduced. This is much more efficient that using one or two huge engines to meet the load.
Redundancy of this sort keeps the system reliability extremely high. The failure or unavailability of one or two engines will not imperil the overall system.
Note that heat engines are very fast to start up and shut down. This greatly facilitates load management.
The Power Grid.
Obviously, with 50 major power generation sites nationwide, the power grid will have to be significantly enhanced, to enable efficient distribution of the power.
It is very clear that new transmission lines will have to be built. They will have to interconnect the 50 sites directly or indirectly, to facilitate power sharing. And sufficient grid capacity must be provided to allow for redundancy. The blackout scenarios seen recently in the Nation must be avoided in the future.
Fortunately, in this country we already posses a very large and well developed power grid. Much of the required expansion can be accomplished by improving the existing grid.
There are three extremely effective strategies for improving the existing grid by a factor of many times over. These are:
Moving to Higher Voltage Lines.
Most of the existing lines, particularly in local and regional grid segments, operate at far less than the optimum voltages. These lines can easily operate at two, three or four times their present voltage levels, with the proper modifications of course.
At the same time, the intent would be to avoid the use of the controversial Super High Voltage lines. They will not be necessary with this scheme.
Paralleling more Lines Together.
In the existing grid, for every one run of wire, or line, add two or three additional wires in parallel. This can be done in the same space, with suitable modifications to the support structures and insulators.
Upgrade all Transformers.
Essentially all the large transformers on the grid would be replaced. In their place, new transformers designed for the higher voltages and wattages would be used. These would also be more reliable modern designs, that would be far less likely to fail. They would also permit modern, remote control strategies to be used, further improving the grid.
Obviously, by making an average 3 fold increase in voltage, and using an average of 3 lines in parallel, the capacity of the grid would be increased by 9 fold. By adding new transmission lines in addition, the required capacity can be realized. This grid will also be more stable, reliable, and controllable.
Using the Power Effectively - for All Power Needs.
Electrical Energy is the highest quality energy type, and the most flexible in its use. It can also be readily converted to other forms as needed. Since an essentially infinite supply of Inexpensive electrical energy will be available, some level of inefficiency in power conversion is acceptable, although proper design will minimize this.
The following notes illustrate briefly how electrical energy will be used effectively to meet the various kinds of energy needs.
Electrical heat would be the heating system of choice. This is because electric resistance heating is 100 % efficient. All energy delivered to the heaters is converted into useful heat.
In addition, with a power factor of 1, there is no waste circulating energy in the power grid. This reduces transmission losses and the need for excess generation and transmission capacity.
Since in this scenario, electricity would be cheap and plentiful, the present premium paid by users of electric heat (compared to say, gas heat) would be eliminated as well.
Compact fluorescent bulbs would be the lighting source of choice. Plentiful supplies of electricity would make these a very economical and energy efficient source of light.
Fluorescent bulbs also generate less waste heat energy. This would limit cooling loads in buildings.
Modern, natural color fluorescent bulbs give a more natural light than the older lamps they replace.
Finally, these lamps have extremely long useful life spans.
The greatest benefit to business would be the stable, predictable, financial conditions. Businesses thrive best under such conditions.
By eliminating pricing uncertainty from energy costs, the ability of businesses to grow and to raise capital would be greatly enhanced.
The low cost of energy would translate to higher profits. Lower costs also mean better international competitiveness.
Investors would also benefit, as the value of their investments appreciates over time.
The present negative effects of energy speculators would be eliminated as well.
Plentiful, cheap electricity would especially benefit manufacturing, by greatly reducing a major cost component of US manufactured goods. This would lead to a competitive advantage. This is turn would lead to the creation of more jobs and to greater profits.
The security of supply would also be a major benefit. Lenders will be more likely to finance long term investments in plants and capital goods if a long term advantage in the marketplace is assured.
For transportation needs, a portable energy source is obviously needed. It is clear that direct connection to the grid is useless for this need. Some forms of transport, such as automobiles, can run effectively directly on electricity, which they may obtain initially from the grid, and then store on board in batteries. Other forms of transport cannot employ this approach.
It is in these latter cases that hydrogen fuels may play a productive role. Hydrogen is not an energy source. Rather, it requires the use of energy to produce useful forms of hydrogen.
This hydrogen can then be used to power autos, trucks, trains and the like. This leaves only a small number of cases where higher energy storage density is essential, such as in the case of aircraft, where fossil fuels may still have to be used. Such a small usage of fossil fuels is considered acceptable. One could also consider using carbon neutral fuels such as Ethanol or BioDiesel in these cases.
Note that it has already been demonstrated elsewhere that neither Ethanol or BioDiesel can be used as the primary transportation fuel, in place of hydrogen, since it is manifestly impossible to produce enough such fuel with the available farmland and other resources.
What are the Benefits of Fixing these Problems?
The benefits are overwhelming. We list a few of them here, in no particular order.
There will obviously be a very significant and very large increase in the wealth and prosperity of all Americans. With an unlimited supply of secure and inexpensive energy available, all members of our society will share in the wealth this will create.
The enhanced competitiveness of American industry and business will result in the natural creation of many millions of new, high paying jobs. If we are wise, we will make our investments in American Industry and Business, thus keeping this wealth at home.
The US will enjoy complete energy independence. No other nation or group of persons will be able to threaten our supplies. Nor will they be able to affect the pricing of energy in this country. The energy we use will be not only unlimited, but infinite in terms of its long term supply, and never increasing in price nor subject to shortages or price manipulation. With an unlimited energy supply, We will be able to accomplish virtually any project we desire. Ultimately, one can do anything desired, if one can control the necessary energy reserves.
There will be an end of wars fought over energy; over oil supplies. No more of our troops need die in foreign lands in an ultimately futile attempt to assure ourselves of a share of dwindling foreign energy supplies.
There will be an end to global warming. None of the new energy supplies will in any way emit any greenhouse gasses. This of course is aside from any fuels burned on an occasional basis by the backup generators. However the size of this use will be incidental compared to today's levels and can be done using carbon neutral fuels.
There will be a vast reduction in pollution. No more acid rain, or mercury emissions or the like from power plants and factories. All new sources will be completely clean.
With no need for foreign supplies, physical security for America can be much more readily assured. We can control access across our borders as completely as we may desire.
There will be no need for us to police the world or use military force to assure our supply of energy. Military action can be limited to that required to assure our physical security and of course in pursuit of human rights.
Much more could be written about the benefits, but at this point the point is made. The benefits are tremendous, and extend across all parts of society and business.
How do We Pay for it?
Put simply, we pay for it by ending the present wars for Oil, and putting the resources to more productive use on this project.
Various estimates have been made, and indicate that when all costs, both Military and Commercial, are considered, and when all losses are added, that we are spending more than 1 Billion dollars per day on oil. This spending is intended to maintain our access to world oil supplies, and also to protect them from attack by others or from being controlled by elements hostile to the interests of the US.
Of course this effort is doomed to eventual failure. And it comes not only at great financial cost but also at a great cost in lives and suffering. The suggestion is obvious. Stop the doomed effort to secure the dwindling supply of foreign oil, and spend the billion dollars per day on this project instead. With resources of this magnitude available, the project could be completed in no time. It could also be sustained over time. And further, it would create millions of permanent, safe jobs here at home.
This project would be easily affordable with over 360 billion dollars per year available for it. No new taxes would be required. The jobs it creates would be permanent. The revenues from the power generated would ultimately make even more resources available to the project. Best of all, no one would be at risk serving in a doomed cause in a foreign country.
Our proposal is to build a completely new US power system, based 100 % on renewable energy sources.
These sources are to be solar photovoltaic and wind energy, plus solar thermal energy, with carbon neutral biomass fuels available in reserve, in highly efficient heat engines used to level loads and for backup.
All energy needs of the US would be met using electrical energy generated at several central sites, and delivered over a rebuilt grid structure.
The amount of energy delivered would be many times more than what we use today and many times the amount that we need for any foreseeable future. Our energy supply would thus be unlimited in any practical sense, and extremely low in cost.
This would enable complete freedom of energy use, with no negative side effects such as global warming or pollution.
Our energy supply would be completely secure and totally under our own control.
We would pay for it by ending our foreign wars for oil. We would save lives and suffering, create millions of new jobs, and usher in an era of unprecedented US prosperity.
The content & opinions in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of AltEnergyMag
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