A Little Good News for the Lovers of Renewable Energy


but blah blah china blah blah amurkin jerbz blah blah al gore blah blah birds blah blah.
Related: I'd wager this wind map is a lot more beautiful to watch than a natural gas map: http://hint.fm/wind/
That's roughly 11 nuclear plants or coal-fired power plants (at 1 gigawatt each); also about two and a half million homes.
Interesting that the EPA gives a pass on bird slaughter from these dreadful machines. Add to that the incessant hum and destructive electromagnetic pollution by living next to them.
New data shows that natural gas leaks are up to 9% of total production (rather than 4% as previously believed), which would make it worse than coal from a global warming standpoint:
@5 depends on how we measure it, actually. Cradle to grave carbon lifetime versus operational impact carbon measurements.

Natural gas can be used in fuel cells to generate electricity directly for home use or in vehicles...these can be highly efficient approaching 90%.

However, wind can be used to generate hydrogen for creating baseload electric power. While not as efficient, it's a completely renewable cycle with no side effects from excavation and so on. And the wind costs zero except for initial capital expenditures, so efficiency of conversion isn't as much of an issue.
Wind can also be used to create fuel cells. It's this thing where we split H20 into H2 and O2.


Yes, hydrolysis. NREL just did a webinar on it.

NREL, in partnership with Xcel Energy, launched a wind-to-hydrogen (Wind2H2) demonstration project at the National Wind Technology Center in Boulder, Colorado. The Wind2H2 project links wind turbines to electrolyzers, which pass the wind-generated electricity through water to split it into hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen can then be stored and used later to generate electricity from an internal combustion engine or a fuel cell.

wind power "loses less than one percent of its energy as waste heat
That doesn't even make sense. Wind power does not use a heat engine, it uses the aerodynamic force against a blade.

I hate when people who don't know shit about power generation start talking about waste heat like it is a problem. It is physics. A coal or nuclear plant using the Rankine cycle will waste ~65% of the heat generated. Gas turbines using the Brayton cycle technology can reduce the waste to ~55%. Very large diesels running the Diesel cycle might only waste 50%. It is physics. It is not a surprise nor is it a defect in the technology.

If you were to make a large glass jar and enclose it so that you have sunlight warming parts, wind generated, and a wind turbine converting some of that wind to energy, you would find that the wind turbine would have similar efficiencies. If a wind turbine is part of a heat engine (and as part of the Earth, it is), then its efficiency can't be calculated just by looking at the mechanical parts. It would be like saying a coal plant is 99% efficient by just looking at the efficiency of the generator.
@3: No it is not. That is capacity (what you would get if the wind was always blowing at the maximum speed you could harvest it). You also need to take into account the capacity factor. In reality the actual increased generation capacity would only be about 2 or 3 GWe.
@8: Won't happen. If you want to run a vehicle with a fuel cell you need a high energy density fuel. This requires either a hydrocarbon that you can reform (strip off the hydrogen), or liquid hydrogen. No gaseous hydrogen storage system would have enough energy to make a fuel cell car feasible. Unless we can convince people to put liquid hydrogen in their cars and build cheap and super-efficient cryogenic coolers to maintain the liquid hydrogen, only reformed hydrocarbons are an option.

The reformed hydrocarbon fuel cell is probably the best solution for now (as it would reduce CO2 emissions significantly as compared to an internal combustion engine). The problem is that PEM type fuel cells require platinum. Other types of fuel cells are not feasible because they require high operating temperatures and couldn't be cold started. The solution for this is to develop PEM type fuel cells that require less catalysts and survive longer before impurities damage them, or to design a new type of low temperature fuel cell. Or maybe use the high temperature fuel cell design and then insulate the holy living shit out of it so that the temperature is maintained for a cold start. The last option, even though it sounds to be the craziest, seems to me to be the most plausible choice right now.

All hydrogen FCVs today use compressed h2 gas though there is promising research in using solid materials for storage.

The Hyundai ix35 SUV is a FCV being delivered, in production, to Europe right now. And Europe is expanding its Hydrogen Highway, or network of hydrogen fueling pumps for vehicles like the ix35.




In fuel cell technology, not only are cells being developed by companies like Toyota that are being made smaller and smaller and requiring less and less platinum, but many researchers are demonstrating the use of cobalt admixtures as a low cost replacement.
@13: Even at 10,000 psi, compressed hydrogen still has only one eighth the energy density of gasoline. Assuming that a fuel cell vehicle runs at least twice as efficient as an internal combustion engine, you would need 4 times the tank volume, with very thick tank walls that you would be stressing each time you refueled. So the solid storage solutions seem to be a good idea if they can bump up the energy density and decrease the pressure (and the fatigue stresses at refueling). High pressure tanks filled with flammable gases tend to be worrying--especially when they are on cars where they could easily be punctured.
@12 wrong. You can easily compress Hydrogen and it's amazing how much of THIS THING YOU BREATHE CALLED AIR has oxygen.

In fact, you can even liquify hydrogen. We do it all the time.

@14 but what is the cost? Electric vehicles around here use stored energy from green low-GHG sources (WA ID OR VT) compared to high-GHG electricity in other places (UT ND WV). Rather than not store the energy - PHES pumps water uphill to run turbines at 50-70 pct efficiency or compressed air gives us 60-80 pct efficiency.

Range matters. Kerosene is a wonder fuel, but not good for the environment. Natural Gas (CNG) is good for small oil derricks that would otherwise burn off the methane and natural gas. Everything has downsides. There is no "perfect fuel" - depends on WHERE YOU LIVE.
@15: As I pointed out, the energy density of hydrogen is so low that current technology only allows us to store it in fairly dangerous ways (extremely high pressure or cryogenically). Even liquid hydrogen has less energy density per liter than gasoline by almost 4 fold. So the solution if you want to run something larger than a go-kart is to look for a hydrocarbon. There is nothing about hydrocarbons that says that we have to dig them up. A fuel cell could reform biofuels just as well as it could fossil fuels (actually better since it will have less sulfur to poison them). And building the infrastructure to support biofuel distribution is trivial. The problem is production, which is the same problem for all green energy, hydrogen included.
Will dear, it's even more local than that, at least around here. City Light is 96% hydro (most of it low impact), but PSE is only 50%, with the balance being mostly coal (32%) and natural gas (16%) - and their dams tend to be more problematic for fish than City Light's.

But one thing that I always point out is that if you are charging an electric vehicle from a coal plant during off-peak hours, when a lot of generation is wasted, you are at the very least making that carbon mean something, instead of it just disappearing into the ether. That is no solution to the problem of coal generation, but at least it's better to get maximum efficiency from it.