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What do you think is the most viable source of alternative energy?

Asked at Community Mercantile, 901 Iowa on June 24, 2007

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Photo of Eleanor Patton

“I think that with a little more progress, solar energy could be great, but right now I think it’s wind energy.”

Photo of Bob Yoos

“Around here it’s wind, just because we have such steady winds all the time. I would prefer that we depend more on the sun though.”

Photo of Renata Castagna

“I think it’s biodiesel by far, because it can be grown locally, it’s renewable and people can make it on their own.”

Photo of Travis Jackson

“Probably wind power in western Kansas, because we have such flat lands and a good source of wind out there.”


jonas 9 years, 9 months ago

I think you could power a small city with the hot air that comes out of internet forums.

Richard Heckler 9 years, 9 months ago

Actually the Lawrence area is not considered a good wind energy spot. Lawrence could do more with solar. *The existing hydro power source. New technology could be helpful to the Lawrence area.

Western Kansas as many know is a wind energy hot spot. I say build wind turbines along the interstate rights of way thus keeping them out of the Flint Hills proper. Alternative energy could become the next oil wells to some farmers.

Meanwhile: Isn't a bit odd that corporate america stands by and watches a foreign operation come into the market yet continue to say the USA is not ready?

It seems like control of America is constantly being outsourced. Which means more USA dollars will be converted to Euros.

mick 9 years, 9 months ago

The only viable source of energy is coal. I believe that there are ways to cleanly use coal but the oil industry wants to suppress the use of coal in order to protect its monopolies. More importantly, we are living an unsustainable lifestyle.

sunflower_sue 9 years, 9 months ago

sgt, now I have to go to youtube to watch that video. (again)

Wind and solar. Both clean and renewable. And I like the sound that the wind turbines make. Whoosh, whoosh! Ahhhhhhhh.....

average 9 years, 9 months ago

Wind, yes. Lots of it. There are specific siting requirements (elevation, etc), and "right along the interstate" won't capture much. I personally think the Flint Hills can handle some installations. And, yes, I'm more than willing to have some in my backyard. In fact, I am looking a farm locations with a turbine or two. The lease payment is helpful money, and I'm quite okay with "vibroacoustics" (living near the railroad) and flicker (I've got ceiling fans).

Solar updraft tower? Probably worth trying.

For baseload? Nukes for Kansas and Nada to Colorado.

H_Lecter 9 years, 9 months ago

The Human Body. Right now we either bury it or waste more energy incinerating it. One body could feed a family for a week or two.

Liberty 9 years, 9 months ago

Magnetic devices are likely to be the best answer for the future. They don't need sun or wind or acres of land to work.

roger_o_thornhill 9 years, 9 months ago

Isn't it a bit cliche to ask this at the Merc? What is anyone going to say there, "I think clean coal is the way to go". Or "maybe the status quo is fine". or "how 'bout nucular (purposely misspelled) power"?

average 9 years, 9 months ago

Max1 -

From your quotes... "We must find carbon-neutral production routes for hydrogen".

If you know how to do that, there's a few billion dollars waiting for you.

The lowest carbon-emission routes currently are solar, wind, and fission. Hydrogen is just a battery, an energy carrier, that stores power from one of these sources in a car or maybe an aircraft.

Tom McCune 9 years, 9 months ago

Here's a technology combination that I WISH "penciled out." Unfortunately it doesn't.

  1. Roof your house with standing-seam metal roofing plated with solar-collecting silicon so the entire roof becomes a big photovoltaic collector.

  2. Also put a wind generator in the yard somewhere.

  3. Use the power from both to generate hydrogen from water, which you store onsite.

  4. Use some of the hydrogen to fuel your vehicle, some to heat your water, and some to heat your house. Use more of the hydrogen in a fuel cell to generate power for your house in any weather conditions.

  5. Have an inverter so you can buy power from the utility if necessary or sell back to them if you have excess.

I think somebody did a theoretical calculation of how many acres of roof collectors would be necessary for this and how many zillions of dollars it would all cost. But it would be completely clean and self-sufficient. The hydrogen becomes the storage medium for energy originally generated by solar and wind.

average 9 years, 9 months ago

Some of white plume from the Space Shuttle is indeed steam from hydrogen combustion. On the launch pad, though, most of the thrust and plume comes from the Solid Rocket Boosters, which burn Ammonium Perchlorate and do produce smoke.

Where did the hydrogen come from for the Liquid hydrogen in the shuttle? Electrolysis from coal-fired electric power plants. Fossilized solar energy. But the hydrogen is not the energy source... it is the energy carrier, and an inefficient one at that.

Photovoltaics, now there's a starting point of an answer. Expensive as heck, energy intensive to build out, but maybe part of the solution. Discussing hydrogen as though it were a source of energy is just a dodge.

ms_canada 9 years, 9 months ago

When I was a kid growing up on a small farm in rural Saskatchewan, my daddy had a windmill built in our yard. It could get pretty windy in our part of the prairies so every night before bedtime we had to shut the mill down. One night my mother forgot to shut it off and a huge storm blew up during the night and our windmill came crashing down onto the corner of our house. Poor mom, irate dad. It was not a great loss to us electrically because all we got from it were our lights in the house. we had no electrical appliance (love that round waffle iron, RI) It was just back to the coal oil and gas lanterns. But oh my, that mill did cost my poor dad a lot of money. Mom never did live that down. We have a lot of wind turbines in the south of our province as there are very windy zones there. Too bad there can't be more as it is such a clean, cheap source.

Frederic Gutknecht IV 9 years, 9 months ago

Jonas beat me to the punch so I'm going with... soylent green. We've got supplies out the wazoo, or thereabouts. The stuff can be used to make biodiesel and fertilizer. Proper collection timing can also produce small amounts of ethanol. It also makes a tasty snack!~)

camper 9 years, 9 months ago

This comment is half serious. But wouldn't it be neat if an excercise bike were connected to a generator? Just a thought. But I do believe electric generators deriving power from alternate sources such as wind, hydro, and solar could create a new industry that we should tap into. It makes sense that we should realize this. Many small scale advancements such as this could add up to something significant.

Mkh 9 years, 9 months ago

Hydrogen and Biodiesel/Ethanol will not work... Wind and Solar are the way to go. But the only real solution is drastically reducing Consumption.

Lifelong_Lawrencian 9 years, 9 months ago

The only current viable option the will make any significant dent is nuclear. The sooner people accept this fact the sooner we will start reducing carbon emissions. Current plants use large fuel assemblies to contain the uranium pellets. Once spent, these assemblies along with lots of other stuff are stored in containment buildings on site since we can't yet use the depository at Yucca mountain. I have heard that we already have accumulated more "waste" than will fit in the depository. The answer is obvious . . .recycle. This is what the French have been doing for years. New plant designs called Pebble Bed reactors ( ) use balls of uranium for fuel that are much more easily recycled and fed into the reactor at the top and removed from the bottom as they are spent, which greatly reduces expensive downtime.

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