Cheerful Holiday Thought

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Old John, Dec 25, 2004.

  1. Old John

    Old John Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Indiana
    Hi Y'All,
    Cheerful Holiday Thought.
    http://www.sfgate.com/cgibin/article.cgifile=/c/a/2004/12/20/MNGRAAE
    L4B1.DTL

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgibin/article.cgifile=/c/a/2004/12/20/MNGRAAE
    L4B1.DTL
    TEXT:
    Muhlhausen, Germany -- A solar-power project built by a Berkeley
    company may
    point Germany toward a pollution-free future.
    Set in the heart of Bavarian farmland, the 30-acre facility went
    online
    earlier this month, becoming the biggest solar energy plant in the
    world.
    For the government of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, the Muhlhausen
    solar farm
    represents a gamble that Germany, the world's third biggest
    economy, can
    replace its principal energy sources -- coal, natural gas, oil and
    nuclear power
    -- with clean, safe and renewable alternatives.
    "There's a huge amount of opportunity here in Germany because the
    government
    has created a system that encourages large installations," said
    Thomas
    Dinwoodie, chief executive officer of PowerLight Corp. of Berkeley,
    which built
    and operates the Muhlhausen facility and two other solar parks
    nearby.
    Germany's approach is being closely watched by officials in
    California and
    elsewhere as a possible model for developing renewable energy.
    PowerLight's three Bavarian solar parks, consisting of 57,600
    silicon-and-
    aluminum panels, will generate 10 megawatts of electricity -- enough
    to power
    9,000 German homes. The amount of electricity produced is much less
    than power
    plants fueled by coal or natural gas, but with very low operating
    costs, the
    solar project is expected quickly to turn a profit while emitting
    zero
    pollution. Schroeder's left-of-center Social Democrat-Green
    coalition has turned
    Germany into the world leader in renewable energy since it took
    office in
    1998. Billions of dollars have been spent on wind and solar
    projects, and
    Schroeder, in a politically risky move, has sharply increased taxes
    on petroleum
    products in an attempt to reduce consumption of conventional
    fuels.
    The campaign accelerated a year ago when Germany enacted a law
    forcing
    electric utility companies -- and, ultimately, all electricity
    users -- to pay
    higher rates to businesses or individuals who generate solar or wind
    energy and
    feed it back into the grid. With this guarantee of revenue, solar
    panels have
    become commonplace on new German houses and huge new windmills are a
    typical
    sight in rural areas, especially in the more windy north.
    "This is part of our commitment as a government, to make Germany the
    world
    leader in alternative energy and in taking action against global
    warming, "
    said Juergen Trittin, Germany's environment minister. "We are
    willing to do what
    is necessary."
    The country is now the No. 1 world producer of wind energy, with
    more than
    16,000 windmills generating 39 percent of the world total, and it is
    fast
    closing in on Japan for the lead in solar power. Wind and solar
    energy together
    provide more than 10 percent of the nation's electricity, a rate
    that is
    expected to double by 2020.
    It has become a profitable business, too, with about 60,000 people
    employed
    in the design and manufacture of wind and solar energy equipment.
    Energy analysts and industry executives alike say that California,
    which
    leads other U.S. states in renewable energy development, is looking
    to Germany
    as a laboratory of what works and what doesn't. Yet even Germany's
    chief
    booster of renewable energy warns that the lessons are mixed.
    "This has a political cost," said Trittin, who cheerfully admitted
    in an
    interview that he is "probably one of the less popular" politicians
    in the
    country.
    According to recent public opinion polls, close to 80 percent of
    Germans
    support the government's strategy of promoting renewable energy
    sources and its
    staunch advocacy of the Kyoto Protocol's obligations to reduce
    emissions of
    greenhouse gases.
    Public support is markedly less, however, for the other key element
    of the
    government's anti-oil program. Under a separate law enacted in 1999,
    gasoline
    taxes are increasing by 3 euro cents per liter per year -- about 15
    U.S. cents
    per gallon -- provoking howls from commuters and truckers.
    "The German people broadly support alternative energy, but Trittin
    has pushed
    the limits of that support," said Michael Kohlhaas, an energy
    policy analyst
    at the German Institute for Economic Research in Berlin. Increasing
    numbers
    of Germans are even finding the ever-present windmills an eyesore.
    "Opposition to wind farms is growing fast, but none of the major
    political
    parties are prepared to listen to voters' concerns," said Hans-
    Joachim Mengel,
    a political science professor at Berlin Free University. "They are
    ideologically committed to wind as a source of alternative energy
    and don't want it
    questioned."
    In September, Mengel ran a quixotic independent campaign for state
    assembly
    in Brandenburg, on the Berlin outskirts. Running on an anti-wind
    platform, he
    beat all expectations by winning 19 percent of the vote.
    "A few people make money from (wind power), but everybody else gets
    nothing,"
    he said. "Why should I sacrifice my landscape so that Herr Mueller
    down the
    road can make money by leasing out his land for a wind park?"
    Germany's use of alternative energy puts it far in front of
    environmentally
    conscious California, where Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has been a
    vocal
    proponent of renewable fuel sources. On Dec. 13, California
    officials set a goal
    of 1 million buildings in California powered by solar energy by
    2018, including
    half of all new homes. They did not offer details of how the target
    will be
    achieved, though officials said they are considering a charge on
    electricity
    bills to pay for up to $1 billion for investment credits to solar
    manufacturers and for an extension of existing income and property
    tax credits to
    homeowners who install solar panels.
    Increasing numbers of U.S. businesses have joined environmental
    groups to
    push President Bush to embrace alternative energy. Instead, the
    administration
    has blocked attempts in Congress to adopt specific goals and
    timelines for
    increasing renewable sources and has emphasized oil, natural gas and
    coal
    exploration.
    "Germany's policy is a more mixed and balanced strategy than to look
    under
    the sands of the Arabian peninsula," Trittin said, referring to U.S.
    reliance
    on Persian Gulf oil. "This is more the European way. There are 6
    billion
    people on this globe. You will not solve our need for energy with
    fossil fuels or
    nuclear plants. You will do it by substituting with renewables. "
    But Germany's experience suggests that the profit motive is the key -
    -
    alternative energy sectors grow fastest when users are able to make
    money on the
    energy they generate.
    A law that has been in effect for a year stipulates that the
    nation's
    electric utility companies must buy all wind and solar power
    generated by
    residential, commercial and industrial users at a price 10 times
    higher than the rate
    that users are charged for the electricity provided by the utilities
    from
    coal, nuclear or natural gas plants.
    Enticed by the guarantee of selling electricity at 46 euro cents
    (about 62
    U.S. cents) per kilowatt hour for the next 20 years, as stipulated
    by the new
    rule, Berkeley's PowerLight Corp. needed no further prompting. CEO
    Dinwoodie
    went to a large investment bank in Frankfurt, Deutsche Structured
    Finance, and
    got a $65 million investment.
    "The financers don't care about solar per se, and that's why this
    system
    works here," said Dinwoodie. "This is conventional financing, this
    is the market
    itself working. There is no government spending." Dinwoodie is so
    bullish on
    Germany that he opened an office in the small city of Regensburg,
    near the
    Muhlhausen project, and his wife and two children moved from
    Berkeley in August
    to live with him there. He now is busy lining up new solar
    investment
    projects around the country.
    Under California utility regulations, by contrast, users are only
    able to
    draw their bills down to zero, with no profit possible. As a result,
    solar
    installations are small and large commercial facilities like
    PowerLight's
    Muhlhausen farm are impossible.
    "California at one time led the world in renewable energy
    development, but we
    gave up that role two decades ago," said Paul Gipe, a wind policy
    expert
    from Kern County. Gipe is currently in Canada as acting executive
    director of
    the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association, working with the
    provincial
    government to enact a German-style system of preferential pricing
    for renewable
    energy.
    "Germany has picked up that banner and is running with it," Gipe
    said.
    "Germany now has the manufacturing jobs that California once had. If
    we want these
    manufacturing jobs, then we'd better look at what the Germans are
    doing, and
    the simplest thing to do is simply translate the German policy into
    English
    and put it into effect."
    Other analysts are more cautious.
    Mark Levine, director of the Environmental Energy Technologies
    Division at
    Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, said that California has gone
    further
    than Europe in making its factories and commercial buildings more
    energy-efficient, yet Germany leads the state by far in wind and
    solar.
     
  2. Old John

    Old John Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
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    Joined:
    May 27, 2004
    Location:
    Indiana
    Hi Y'all,
    Here's the Tail-End of the Article.......


    The End...........
    "Germany now has the manufacturing jobs that California once had. If
    we want these
    manufacturing jobs, then we'd better look at what the Germans are
    doing, and
    the simplest thing to do is simply translate the German policy into
    English
    and put it into effect."
    Other analysts are more cautious.
    Mark Levine, director of the Environmental Energy Technologies
    Division at
    Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, said that California has gone
    further
    than Europe in making its factories and commercial buildings more
    energy-efficient, yet Germany leads the state by far in wind and
    solar. "Germany's
    policies are not going to be a direct model for California because
    our political
    situations are so different," he said. "But Europe has taken major
    steps
    recently, and Germany most of all, largely because of its commitment
    under Kyoto.
    People are watching carefully."

    Merry Christmas & Glad Yule, Y'ALL!
     

  3. reluctantpatriot

    reluctantpatriot I am good without god.

    Messages:
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    Terra Planet, Sol System, Milky Way Galaxy
    Missouri would be a good place for alternative energy too though in the rural areas our Rural Electric Cooperatives do all they can to boohoo and downplay any alternative power source. They would rather get power from coal and natural gas operated generation facilities.

    In our monthly coop newspaper we have had a few articles in there talking about failed attempts to use tankless water heaters, windmills and solar energy. the problem was they focused on electric tankless (electric coop you know...) rather than a propane tankless heater. And they picked an area of Missouri for the test windmill farm before they did a study for wind quality. As for solar, they say that you can't product enough power from it to run a typical home, but neglect to mention how much power is used for wasteful things or for all the neat gadgets most people love to have. Yes, you would need quite a few panels to run a 2000 or more square foot home with all electric systems and a big screen TV and a pool heater and more.

    Whatever happened to learning to conserve power beyond weather proofing and thermostats? Why can't we as a nation look at what we are doing with our energy consumption and learn to do well with much less?
     
  4. Cyngbaeld

    Cyngbaeld In Remembrance Supporter

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    Location:
    SE Missouri
    Aaron, I totaly agree with you. We really don't need to build so many plants, we need to cut back on usage.
     
  5. Quint

    Quint Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,510
    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2004
    Our country and economy run on energy consumption not energy conservation. Our entire economy is based on the availability of cheap plentiful energy. You need what you need. Any restriction on availability impedes the economy severely. Americans also have a visceral reaction when they are told to use less of something. The usual reaction is "I need it. Here is some money go make more." Or for the more industrious among us "BS. I can make energy cheaper and better." The latter by the way is where new energy sources will come from-not some governmental mandate. When some smart cookie comes up with a way to make hydrogen power in your basement or power your car with water he will be an instant bazillionaire. When Americans are told to restrict their use of something it evokes a spirit of malaise like in the carter years where everyone was expected to freeze to death and run the heat at 50 degrees, not have Christmas lights and wait in line for gas. It creates a negative ripple that effects the entire nation and economy. The typical American reaction was "F that make more energy dammit."

    For the moment alternative energy cannot produce the amounts of steady reliable energy that are needed other than a few isolated applications. It simply isn't cost effective yet. The technology isn't there yet either. Hopefully someday some alternative energy source will be developed but for now nuclear/gas/coal/natgas/oil are the only games in town for the most part. It isn't like we're going to run out of any of the above any time soon and any perceived energy crisis is one fully manufactured or governmentally instigated.

    I eagerly await the day when we have some miracle hydrogen/unobtanium powered electrical generator in our basement pumping out megawatts a year and our vehicles run on water but I'm not holding my breath waiting on them. They will come when technology advances to the point they can be created.