Renewables

Harnessing Earth's energy one day at a time. Harvesting Earth's energy one season at a time. Life on earth is sustained by the light and heat of the sun.

Ethanol and Net Energy

There is much discussion, or argument, about Ethanol: Does it take more energy to make it than you can get back from it?

The argument focuses on the energy consumed by the tractors and the farm equipment, the trucks that transport the ethanol to market, and the fertilizer that is made from fossil fuels, as well as the amount of energy required to extract the sugar from corn starch (or cellulosic biomass) and convert it to ethanol.

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Switchgrass

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) believes that biofuels — made from crops of native grasses, such as fast-growing switchgrass—could reduce the nation's dependence on foreign oil, curb emissions of the "greenhouse gas" carbon dioxide, and strengthen America's farm economy. The Biofuels Feedstock Development Program (BFDP) at DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), has assembled a team of scientists ranging from economists and energy analysts to plant physiologists and geneticists to lay the groundwork for this new source of renewable energy. Included are researchers at universities, other national laboratories, and agricultural research stations around the nation. Their goal, according to ORNL physiologist Sandy McLaughlin, who leads the switchgrass research effort, is nothing short of building the foundation for a biofuels industry that will make and market ethanol and other biofuels from switchgrass and at prices competitive with fossil fuels such as gasoline and diesel.

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Solar Energy Potential

The technology required to harness the power of the sun is available now. Solar power alone could provide all of the energy Americans consume — there is no shortage of solar energy. The following paragraphs will give you the information you need to prove this to yourself and others. You do not need advanced math skills to follow and perform the arithmetic examples shown below. Anyone who can balance a checkbook or calculate the total square feet of floor space in his or her home, and understand why an area measuring 10 yards by 10 yards equals 100 square yards, can perform the following arithmetic examples and prove that American energy independence could be achieved with solar energy alone.

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Wind Power

Wind is an inexhaustible source of energy. But the full potential of wind cannot be developed unless engineers understand the problem they are solving. A brilliant engineer will come up with a brilliant solution, but if the solution is for the wrong problem — that would be a wasted opportunity.

Wind engineers are doing a brilliant job developing solutions that have vastly improved the performance of wind turbines and the generators connected directly to the turbines; as well as in understanding the behavior and availability of wind resources. But it is time for Engineers to turn their creative efforts toward solving the problem of wind energy’s intermittency.

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Renewable Forests

Perspective is something one gains from understanding a diverse range of views. Unfortunately, forests and their potential for energy is something most people, particularly Americans, have a very narrow perspective of. Fully 75% of the U.S. population lives in major urban areas which are generally void of all forests. Yes, there are trees, but the role of forests in the survival and advancement of humans, as well as their potential for future advancements goes largely unmentioned in this nation.

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