Letters to the Editor

Energy expense

March 25, 2008


To the editor:

Responding to the governor's recent veto, Sen. Steve Morris asserted that "not allowing clean coal technology to be part of Kansas' energy future will result in a devastating increase in the average Kansan's electric bill." He is right that a future without coal will be expensive. Here's the thing: A future with coal will be expensive, too.

Coal is no longer cheap. Just this month, for example, we learned that Peabody Coal shipped more coal to China in the first six weeks of this year than in all of 2007. Merrill Lynch announced its forecast that coal prices would jump by 200 percent this calendar year. Meanwhile, commodity prices for the materials that go into all power plants (copper, steel, cement) have increased by 25 percent to 400 percent since 2003. A price on carbon dioxide emissions will add costs, as will technology to reduce or eliminate those emissions.

Don't get me wrong. The alternatives aren't cheap either. Wind, natural gas, nuclear, solar - they're all more expensive. In a global marketplace with rapidly developing economies, competition for finite resources is stiff and may grow fierce.

The question now is: what impact profile (pollution, water requirements, national security issues, wildlife and viewshed concerns, global warming) do we choose with our new, more expensive electricity? The answers to that question will determine whether future generations - our children and their children - will thank us or curse us.

Nancy Jackson,



lounger 10 years, 2 months ago

Clean Coal is a myth- A bunch of B.S>! Get with the now and go with a host of new options-solar, wind and so on.

Brent Garner 10 years, 2 months ago


Prove that solar, wind, or any combination of "clean" energy options can provide the electrical and fuel needs of America today???

gr 10 years, 2 months ago

"we learned that Peabody Coal shipped more coal to China in the first six weeks of this year than in all of 2007"

Since we don't want coal, they are shipping it overseas. How efficient is that? Sebelius is causing a waste of energy!

But, it is a product and they get money for it. Good thing Kansas doesn't have coal to export or some would be complaining that others are benefiting from our resources. However, I don't get how shipping it overseas is a indicator of coal no longer being cheap.

It just amazes me that people aren't concerned about injecting a known toxic element, mercury, into our bodies and teeth, and Fluoride into our water supply, saying a little bit of poison will only maim but won't completely kill us, but yet when a coal plant meets all environmental requirements, it is denied and considered bad and should be banned.

webmocker 10 years, 2 months ago

"Prove that solar, wind, or any combination of "clean" energy options can provide the electrical and fuel needs of America today???"

For an in-depth discussion of energy solutions, which include, but are not restricted to solar, wind, and other clean energy options, please read Winning the Oil Endgame, by Amory Lovins et al. It is available at the Lawrence Public Library, or for free download online at http://www.oilendgame.com/ReadTheBook.html

OnlyTheOne 10 years, 2 months ago

HEY, GR. Ever hear of the law of supply and demand? You know, the one that says the more a commodity is in demand the more it costs. With China well on her way to eclipsing the US in all economic areas (because we want 'cheap' products) they're needing those raw materials to support their manufacturing base - you know the one the economists told us for the last 20 years we were in better shape getting rid of so we could go to a "service" economy.

seriouscat 10 years, 2 months ago


Ever heard the expression "where there's a will there's a way"?

It's not that hard.

compmd 10 years, 2 months ago

lounger (Anonymous) says:

"Clean Coal is a myth- A bunch of B.S>! Get with the now and go with a host of new options-solar, wind and so on."

Interestingly, solar and wind power have the highest cost per kilowatt hour.

And yes, I am a fan of alternative energy, and I have worked extensively with wind energy solutions. If its going to work here, we need huge farms of large turbines. But I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for people to do something about that.

RedwoodCoast 10 years, 2 months ago

Too much of the wrong things are going to China these days. Coal appears to be one, and fertilizer the other. Much of the fertilizer used in agriculture these days gets imported from places like Saudi Arabia, while most of our domestic fertilizer is headed to Asia. Farmers are hurting, but fertilizer companies are not.

And GR, southeast Kansas is filled with coal. It is the dirtier bituminous coal, but a few companies still mine it and send it to plants in Missouri.

gr 10 years, 2 months ago

"a few companies still mine it and send it to plants in Missouri."

Oh no!!!! Stop the mining! That's terrible that we are producing a product that is going outside the state!

JSpizias 10 years, 2 months ago

All the hoopla about the possibility of substituting wind and solar power for hydrocarbons and nuclear generation is basically BS. Here is what two of the leading experts in energy (Patzek and Pimentel) had to say about these "renewables" in a paper entitled "Thermodynamics of energy production from biomass".


"We want to be very clear: solar cells, wind turbines, and biomass-for-energy plantations can never replace even a small fraction of the highly reliable, 24-hours a day, 365-days a year, nuclear, fossil, and hydroelectric power stations. Claims to the contrary are popular but irresponsible".

The IPCC has called for an 80% reduction in CO2 emissions. What would be the consequences of this, assuming it were possible? Andrew Revkin in an article in the NY Times on his blog dot earth asks the question, what if everyone in the world had equal emissions? February 15, 2008, 11:55 am Imagine Everyone Was Equal, in Emissions By Andrew C. Revkin

Roger Pielke, Jr, one of the leading climate scientists, responded with some very interesting data. To achieve an 80% reduction in world CO2 emissions, assuming the same level for all countries on a per capita basis, would require that all nations have levels of CO2 emission currently equal to two countries: Haiti and Somali.


If some have their way, this is where we are going.

Bob Hechlor 10 years, 2 months ago

The above is like the cigarette company scientists who claim that cigarettes do not cause lung cancer. They ae paid to say these things. They are invested in the status quo.

Bob Hechlor 10 years, 2 months ago

Here is another scientific opinion from scientists who look at all options. This is just the conclusion and one can look at the whole article by using the reference below.

"To conclude, the wisest energy strategy for the United States-in terms of cost, environmental benefits, and potential-is not a forced choice between coal and nuclear plants. It is instead promoting the use of smaller, decentralized and renewable energy technologies that are quicker to construct, less fuel intensive, and more modular. It is these miniature generators-not gargantuan and capital-intensive nuclear and fossil fuel plants-that offer the best strategy for responding to the needs of American electricity consumers.


Sovacool BK (2007). Coal and nuclear technologies: creating a false dichotomy for American energy policy. Policy Sciences; 40:101-122"

Bob Hechlor 10 years, 2 months ago

Another article which outlines Oregon's approach to solving their energy concerns: "Current Thinking: Nuclear vs. efficiency by Margie Harris - 7.25.05 The power we use, how we produce it, and how much it costs is capturing headlines as our nation debates a new energy policy. Here in the Pacific Northwest, we continue our tradition of shaping our own energy future, modeling a balance between diversity, affordability and environmental vitality. Recent claims promote nuclear energy as a clean power source. For the moment, let's set aside the very serious issues related to the waste from nuclear power plants - 300,000 years of toxic waste storage and vigilant security. Even before waste is generated, it takes years to design, approve and site a new nuclear plant. During that time, energy technologies evolve and project economics can change. This very phenomenon occurred during the 1970s-1980s, when gas-fired combustion turbines overtook nuclear as the preferred generation technology. Additionally, the necessary complexity of nuclear power technology has made it difficult to set adequate public policy to manage safety, making it impossible to predict cost and performance. Though "new nukes" are alleged to radically improve performance and safety, these remain only well-articulated theories. It will take more than a decade to find out. Other potential energy sources include large, centralized coal- or gas-fired power plants, which provide a reliable base for our electricity grid. Yet the finite gas and coal fuel used in them are increasingly expensive and remain one of the primary sources of

Bob Hechlor 10 years, 2 months ago

global warming gases. Global warming carries significant risk of both worldwide and local economic catastrophe in our lifetimes. How do we responsibly manage resources and leave our children a viable economic and environmental future instead of a disaster? Not by "pulling the plug" on existing power plants, but by complementing their output with new and cleaner resources. At little to no cost, we can continue to transition to a system less reliant upon coal and gas generation and more diversified with smaller-scale renewable generation and energy efficiency. Though well underway, this transition must be accelerated to maximize the benefits to consumer's pocketbooks and the environment. Compared to any other available power source, efficiency is a bargain today. Gaining more efficiency from each kilowatt hour or therm reduces energy costs to all consumers, and it costs about half as much as new power plants. In addition to the direct cost savings, it provides a hedge against future rate increases due to changing power plant fuel costs. According to a study by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, each dollar invested in efficiency multiplies several times over through lower fuel prices and reduced consumption. Rate increases could also be slowed if utilities had little or no need to build new centralized power plants or expand transmission and distribution systems. Such transmission and distribution systems are built to handle energy demand at peak times of the day, when energy costs can also be very high. Transmission line losses of 5 to 20 percent can also be significant. By contrast, renewable resources are

Bob Hechlor 10 years, 2 months ago

demonstrating their worth in meeting peak load capacity. Because solar resources often can be sited close to where energy is consumed, they reduce transmission costs, line losses and load on the grid. Renewable energy resources are steadily coming down in price as they are mass-produced, as technologies are perfected, and as utilities integrat ethem into power systems at low cost. Wind energy is less expensive than coal or gas in some situations today. With more progress, they can be a money-saver in increasingly more places. In most locations, wind requires financial support, yet the "tipping point" to where it is truly cost-competitive is approaching. Other renewable energy sources such as solar and biopower generation from wood and agricultural waste hold great promise and do require subsidy before becoming competitive. Investments in energy efficiency and renewable resources also translate into substantial, long-lasting local economic benefits. As an example, Energy Trust of Oregon Inc. invests more than $50 million a year in services and incentives to homeowners and businesses who install energy efficiency measures and use renewable energy. In addition to directly saving ratepayer money, this investment pours millions of dollars into local economies and creates jobs. By contrast, gas, coal and nuclear powered plants are generally designed and built by people living outside our region. Once operational, fuel is brought in from other states and countries. Few of the economic benefits of this investment "come home" to the community where the power is produced. Just as most of us put yesterday's newspaper in the recycle box and not the garbage can, we all have the power to respect and protect our environment and lower our own energy costs. When we weatherize our homes, use compact florescent lights, elect to buy renewable energy from our local utility (some utilities provide this choice), buy Energy Star-rated appliances, or install solar panels on our rooftops, we experience direct benefits when we open our utility bills. When our businesses and new buildings install efficient lighting, choose high-efficiency equipment and tap into solar or wind technology, we divert dollars otherwise spent on energy to other competitive aspects of our businesses and keep more Oregonians employed. These benefits strengthen and support our local economies at the same time we lower our energy expenses and preserve our environment. For many Oregonians, Energy Trust cash incentives provide the extra nudge to help customers invest in energy and money-saving measures. State of Oregon energy tax credits are another powerful incentive to put investments in energy efficiency and renewable resources within reach for more Oregonians."

gr 10 years, 2 months ago

"The above is like the cigarette company scientists who claim that cigarettes do not cause lung cancer. They ae paid to say these things. They are invested in the status quo."

Good job thinking, rshrink. You're well on your way to intelligent and critical thought. Now, do you suppose that maybe there are some other scientists who are paid or otherwise motivated to say things or motivated not to say things?

By the way, I'm not sure very many people would be willing to pay 3 to 6 times higher prices for their energy use. Especially for imaginary control of imaginary pollution (CO2).

gr 10 years, 2 months ago

"The electric coop's in Western Kansas are already working on rate increases to 12 cents per KW if the coal plants fail."

But we were told (by unreliable sources on this board) that the coal plants weren't supplying any power to Kansas. And that we shouldn't export anything.

However, if all other states take the same selfish narrow-minded mindset, where will we buy our power from?

Also, I read that there may be a loss of aircraft manufacturing in Kansas. As if that's bad?!!! I mean, they only ship those airplanes out to other places.

JSpizias 10 years, 2 months ago

Anonymous user

rshrink (Anonymous) says:

"The above is like the cigarette company scientists who claim that cigarettes do not cause lung cancer. They ae paid to say these things. They are invested in the status quo."

This appears to be a typical response of those who lack scientific knowledge and who prefer to cast slurs on those who express opinions that differ from theirs. The LJW recently ran an article about global warming and the religious like zeal of those who feel that their views must be implemented to "save the world".
http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2007/dec/26/global_warming_spurs_fundamentalist_fervor/#c489016 For the record, I am a retired scientist that ran a biomedical research lab for over 30 years and have never received grant funds or anything else from any energy company. I began reading the climate science and energy literature a few years ago because these issues are some of the most important ones that we face. My views are based on this reading and not from the stuff spun by much of the media. I am concerned at the lemming-like approach of many to the issues of climate and energy. I would suggest that if one wants to understand them that the paper by Patzek and Pimentel on the thermodynamics of energy production from biomass is an excellent place to start. Then examine some of the publications by top climate scientists such as the Pielkes, and others. http://climatesci.org/ http://sciencepolicy.colorado.edu/about_us/meet_us/roger_pielke/ http://petroleum.berkeley.edu/patzek/index.htm petroleum.berkeley.edu/papers/patzek/CRPS-BiomassPaper.pdf

Gwyneth Cravens has published an excellent book on nuclear power, which should be a major source of power generation if we are to reduce CO2 emissions. http://www.amazon.com/Power-Save-World-Nuclear-Energy/dp/0307266567 MIT also has a number of excellent videos dealing with nuclear power as well as other climate issues. http://mitworld.mit.edu/search.php?q=climate+change&x=0&y=0&r=10 See #17, The Future of Nuclear Energy.

As Sarewitz and others have noted, the Kyoto approach is an abysmal failure. www.nature.com/nature/journal/v449/n7...

Bob Hechlor 10 years, 2 months ago

To the above naysayers: I notice you make no attempt to deal with several major problems with coal and nuclear. First they have to be mined, transported, cleaner coal is running out and uranium mining and transporting is a concern; all of this causing damage to the environment and pollution problems and then the waste problem with nuclear. People keep saying they will figure something out, but how do we know that for certain? If not, 300,000 years of storage and guarding is once again, an incalculable cost. Both coal and nuclear plants are enormously expensive to build and now loans will not be provided by the government, because even the government has now figured out that all of this just isn't worth the money.

The vast majority of scientists are not in favor of coal and nuclear energy. The ones who support it do not look at the big picture. Renewable energy is still new and hasn't had support widely, but that is changing as people began to see the light. When people support it, then it can happen and be successful.

JSpizias 10 years, 2 months ago

RShrink says: "The vast majority of scientists are not in favor of coal and nuclear energy."

Show me the data supporting this statement. The infomation that I have seen indicates that the more knowledgeable one is about nuclear power, the more supportive one is of nuclear power generation. Granted, The Union of Concerned Scientists is strongly opposed, however they represent a miniscule fraction of US scientists. Moreover, even they acknowledge that it may be necessary. As the article from The Guardian indicates, the decision to utilize nuclear generation has apparently already been made-and I think it is the right and smart one.

Britain and France to take nuclear power to the world

The Guardian: Britain and France are to sign a deal to construct a new generation of nuclear power stations and export the technology around the world in an effort to combat climate change.

The pact is to be announced at the "Arsenal summit" next week when prime ministers Gordon Brown and Nicolas Sarkozy will meet at the Emirates stadium in north London.

Britain hopes to take advantage of French expertise to build the power stations that do not rely on fossil fuels. Nearly 79% of France's electricity comes from its highly-developed nuclear power industry. The UK's ageing nuclear plants are ready for decommissioning and supply 20% of its energy needs.

Brown hopes the partnership will create a skilled British labour force who would then work in partnership with France to sell nuclear power stations to other countries over the next 15 years.

Posted by Physics Today on March 23, 2008 12:20

JSpizias 10 years, 2 months ago

By Joe Bauman Deseret Morning News Published: Monday, March 3, 2008 12:11 a.m. MST 81 comments E-MAIL | PRINT | FONT + - By a strong majority, Utahns who know about the issue favor nuclear power as part of the state's energy future.

A Dan Jones and Associates poll conducted for the Deseret Morning News and KSL-TV from Feb. 19 to Feb. 21 shows strong support for atomic power. The poll, with 412 completed interviews, has a possible error rate of plus or minus 5 percent.

The question was, "Do you favor or oppose nuclear power being part of the future energy mix for this state?" Those strongly favoring the proposition were 33 percent, and somewhat favoring were 24 percent, for a 57 percent favorable rating. Somewhat opposed were 10 percent and strongly opposed amounted to 22 percent, for a combined rating of 32 percent opposed.

Another 10 percent of the sampling said they didn't know.

"I think it confirms what we expected all along, that Utahns believe nuclear power has to be part of the mix for the future," said Rep. Aaron Tilton, R-Springville.

Tilton is a principal in Transition Power Development, which plans to build a two-unit nuclear generating plant, totaling 3,000 megawatts. The project has acquired needed water rights. Officials are in the final stages of negotiations about where to site the plant, Tilton said.

Brent Garner 10 years, 2 months ago

To georgeofwesternkansas:

You post supports one of my greatest fears which is that the Greens, while well intentioned, will make, via their refusnik attitudes, the cost of living soar. That soaring cost will impoverish Americans, the lower income areas first. That soaring cost will ultimately lead to many Americans living 3rd world life styles. That will lead to a greater disparity between the have's and the have not's. Sounds like utopia to me!

georgeofwesternkansas 10 years, 2 months ago

After reading some of the posts about the USD in Lawrence wanting a tax increase, it should be very entertaining to read the posts when electric rates go up by 50% in the next 5 years. My guess is that clean coal, dirty coal, or otherwise coal will become very atractive to the folks on this board.

The electric coop's in Western Kansas are already working on rate increases to 12 cents per KW if the coal plants fail. That is what it will cost to buy power on the open market and maintain the delivery systems. It will be double the cost westar customers pay, and we will loose many power intensive business to surrounding states. Sad but true.

Bob Hechlor 10 years, 2 months ago

you worry too much GR, the greens will take good care of you.

Looks like we can put all of the nuclear waste in the backyards of those in Utah who favor nuclear energy. Surely they won't mind.

Patzek, yup looks like a degree in oil science. Likely, works for Exxon.

Bob Hechlor 10 years, 2 months ago

I think all americans who favor coal and nuclear, can mine it, clean it up, live next to the destruction and pollution and can store the waste in their garages. They might have to have fewer cars. If they are willing to do that, then go ahead.

Bob Hechlor 10 years, 2 months ago

China is looking to Germany and Denmark to supply the technology and the policy models upon which to base a new renewable-energy law, said Jie. "This is the first time China has asked outsiders to comment on a proposed law."

"China's wind power potential is huge -- 500,000, perhaps 600,000 megawatts -- but it needs the proper legal framework," said Corin Millais, executive director of the Brussels-based European Wind Energy Association. The association has contributed input on the Chinese renewable-energy law.

China has a complex mix of state, local and private energy generators, with multiple levels of subsidies and often conflicting regulations. "Changes in state and federal laws are needed, along with clear rules about who sets the price and who owns the wind power farms; otherwise the wind-energy boom won't happen," said Millais.

The Chinese want to pursue private-public partnerships with European companies, but because up to 80 percent of the total cost of a wind farm is building it, companies need a reliable price structure for the power they sell, he said.

Bob Hechlor 10 years, 2 months ago

The new law is expected to be in place by next summer, and if it has the right ingredients, the Chinese landscape will soon blossom with fields of 2- and 3-megawatt wind turbines.

Another reason China is looking to wind is because it is now as cheap as coal, said Kyle Datta, managing director at Colorado's Rocky Mountain Institute, a leading independent energy research center. And if the health costs associated with coal burning are considered, wind is actually a lot cheaper, said Datta, who researched the Chinese energy market while co-authoring a book, Winning the Oil Endgame: American Innovation for Profits, Jobs and Security.

"People in Chinese cities would also prefer it (wind energy) to all those diesel generators they needed last summer just to keep the lights on some of the time," Datta said. Solving China's pollution problems while meeting its energy needs will be difficult and will require a mix of power-generation technologies, including biomass, solar and hydro, he added.

Although China has little interest in nuclear power because of its high cost and security concerns, a few more nuclear plants will also be built, Datta said.

China is also turning the current problem into an opportunity. By using its low-cost manufacturing ability, it will soon be a major supplier of power-generation equipment. "China already produces solar cells much cheaper than elsewhere," Datta said.

"It's a country that's remarkably open to new ideas

Bob Hechlor 10 years, 2 months ago

Sorry, got this in the wrong order. Read this first and then the two up above it. 29 March 2008 at 12:18 a.m.

Underwire Threat Level WIRED Science Top Stories Magazine Wired Blogs All Wired Science : Discoveries Change in the Chinese Wind Stephen Leahy 10.04.04 | 2:00 AM The world's largest wind power project will begin construction this month near Beijing, bringing green energy and cleaner air to the 2008 Summer Olympics and city residents coping with some of the worst air pollution in the world.

The new wind power plant, located 60 miles outside Beijing in Guangting, will generate 400 megawatts when at full capacity, nearly doubling the electrical energy China currently obtains from wind. But that's just the beginning. Last summer at a climate change conference in Bonn, Germany, China surprised many by announcing it will generate 12 percent of its energy from renewable sources such as wind by 2020.

Pollution is part of the driving force behind China's newfound passion for green energy, said Yu Jie of Greenpeace China's office in Beijing. "Acid rain blankets 70 percent of the country," Jie said, cutting crop yields, damaging trees and making rivers and lakes too acidic to support fish.

The country's galloping economic growth over the past 20 years has meant enormous increases in electrical power demands, 75 percent of which come from coal. China is the world's largest coal-consuming country and home to 16 of the world's 20 most polluted cities on the planet, according to the World Bank. At least 400,000 people in China die each year from air-pollution-related illnesses, the World Bank reports.

Pollution is not China's only energy problem. It is also plagued by frequent and widespread power failures because its generating capacity cannot keep pace with industrial and consumer demands. The country leads the world in purchases of TV sets and other appliances.

While China has low-quality coal in abundance, its transportation infrastructure cannot ship enough coal from the mines in the west to the cities in the east, said Jie. Electrical energy self-sufficiency is a crucial goal for the Chinese leadership, especially as oil imports soar to provide gasoline for the 14,000 new motor vehicles being added to its streets every day.

These factors have pushed China to invite Western energy experts, including environmental groups like Greenpeace and the National Resources Defense Council, to help China become more energy-efficient and figure out how to produce 20,000 megawatts from wind by 2020.

A megawatt is a million watts, sufficient power to light 10,000 100-watt bulbs, or enough daily electricity for 600 to 1,000 households, depending on energy use. Germany currently leads the world, generating 12,000 megawatts from wind, with the United States well behind at 5,000 megawatts.

Bob Hechlor 10 years, 2 months ago

To BKG - Life is full of disasters, fortunately most of them never happen. Sounds like you are catastrophizing.

Bob Hechlor 10 years, 2 months ago

climate science The Science of Global Warming

Contents Overview Consensus Versus Certainty in a Complex World What We Do Know about Climate Change Why the Climate Changes: Emissions of Heat-Trapping Gases and Aerosols Each Country's Share of Global CO2 Emissions Has the Climate Changed Already? Future Projections of Climate Change The Role of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Consensus in the IPCC -- What Does It Mean?
The Need for More Research and Clarification Sound Science for Public Policy and Decision-Making As a result of an enormous scientific effort over the past 10-15 years to better understand the climate system and its relationship to human activities, there now is a growing consensus among mainstream scientists about the reality of global warming. As Dr. Robert Watson, then Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said in 2001,

" The overwhelming majority of scientific experts, whilst recognizing that scientific uncertainties exist, nonetheless believe that human-induced climate change is already occurring and that future change is inevitable." This captures the conclusions of the most recent comprehensive assessment of the state of climate change science by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The UN-sponsored, international body of scientists is charged with synthesizing every five years what the scientific community has learned about our

Bob Hechlor 10 years, 2 months ago

changing climate and its impacts on people and the environment.

offsite "Climate Change 2001" AGU position statement (1998) AGU supporting document (1999) National Academies of Science 2001:"Climate Change Science" International National Academies of Science Statement (PDF) Testimony of NAS President on Climate Change Science and Research

The findings of the IPCC's Third Assessment Report ("Climate Change 2001") unequivocally paint a collective picture of a warming world. The report forms the authoritative new benchmark of what is known about climate change science and represents an unprecedented consensus among hundreds of climate change scientists from all over the world.

UCS agrees with the world's leading climate scientists that the Earth's temperature is rising and that its climate has changed over the last century. The scientific consensus is clear that the rise in temperature and change in climate are being caused in part by human activities. (See Related Links.)

Mainstream media are beginning to reflect this scientific consensus. But after a decade of controversial reporting and public debate, some skepticism lingers in the public at large and is still rampant among industry groups and their proponents who fear adverse economic impacts from taking action on global warming. While their main tactic now is to dismiss potential solutions to the problem-in particular the 1997 Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change-climate skeptics continue to attack the science in order to undermine an essential and rational basis for cost-effective, sustainable action on this global problem.

Bob Hechlor 10 years, 2 months ago

Science : Discoveries
Solar Tower of Power Finds Home Stephen Leahy 02.24.05 | 2:00 AM The quest for a new form of green energy has taken a significant step with the purchase of a 25,000-acre sheep farm in the Australian outback. The huge alternative energy project isn't driven by manure, but by a 1-kilometer-high thermal power station called the Solar Tower.

Announced several years ago, the 3,280-foot Solar Tower is one of the most ambitious alternative energy projects on the planet: a renewable energy plant that pumps out the same power as a small reactor but is totally safe. If built, it will be nearly double the height of the world's tallest structure, the CN Tower in Canada.

The Solar Tower is hollow in the middle like a chimney. At its base is a solar collector -- a 25,000-acre, transparent circular skirt. The air under the collector is heated by the sun and funneled up the chimney by convection -- hot air rises. As it rises, the air accelerates to 35 mph, driving 32 wind turbines inside the tower, which generate electricity much like conventional wind farms.

But the Solar Tower has a major advantage over wind farms and solar generators: It can operate with no wind, and 24 hours a day. Thanks to banks of solar cells, the tower stores heat during the day, allowing it to produce electricity continuously.

Originally slated to be operational this year, construction of the massive project won't begin until 2006 at the earliest, said Roger Davey, chairman of EnviroMission Limited, the Melbourne, Australia, company behind the venture.


Watch an animation of what EnviroMission's Solar Tower will look like.But the purchase of the farm, which cost $1 million, near Mildura, Victoria, is a "very big step" in getting the project built, Davey said.

So far, the main impediment to building the tower has been the cost, with estimates ranging from $500 million to $750 million. Davey won't say how much the project will ultimately cost but said the company is considering two new engineering innovations that will reduce construction costs and improve efficiency.

"It will make the project a totally different business case," Davey said.

The timing couldn't be better. With the price of oil topping $50 a barrel, (now $111 a barrel) many countries are looking for cheap energy and to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

"The time is now here," Davey said. "The world is looking for a major renewable energy source."

It's estimated the Solar Tower will generate 200 megawatts, enough electricity to power 200,000 homes and will keep 830,000 tons of greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere annually.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 10 years, 2 months ago

"You post supports one of my greatest fears which is that the Greens, while well intentioned, will make, via their refusnik attitudes, the cost of living soar. That soaring cost will impoverish Americans, the lower income areas first."

So when you lack any facts, resort to irrationality and scare tactics.

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