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Old 07-18-2008, 04:22 PM   #1
Darth_Yuthura
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Investing in Solar and Wind... or Drilling for Oil?

Al Gore recently declared that the US had the means and the resources needed to convert most of our oil demands to use solar and wind power instead. He said the US should spend the next 10 years investing in solar panels and setting up wind turbines.

What do you think?
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Old 07-18-2008, 04:32 PM   #2
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Has this been discussed already? Either way...

There's a reason that we're not using coal (or in the amount that you suggest). Although it is plentiful, it isn't as clean as solar, hydroelectric, or wind power. Not to mention that it won't last forever (that isn't to say that all resources will last forever. Some just last longer than others).

So, in my opinion, using hydroelectric and solar power would be a very good choice. The sun is going to be around for a lot longer (around four billion years, if I'm correct), and the Earth's supply of water isn't going anywhere fast. If you put a solar panel on the top of every building, we'd be in a very good situation.

As for nuclear power, that should, in my opinion, take a back seat to sustainable, cleaner sources of power, such as solar, hydroelectric or wind.

I'm still waiting for the solar-powered/battery-charged car.
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Old 07-18-2008, 05:20 PM   #3
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Hmm...

My list of energy sources that I think we should use:

Hydroelectric (We've got lots of water... And we can use hydroelectric power to power other energy producing systems.)
Solar and Microwave (Our sun is going to be in existence for a long time... IMHO, Microwave power is the perfected form of Solar power.)
Wind (I wonder what a hurricane could do in terms of wind power?)
Geothermal (Moderate usage, of course.)


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Old 07-18-2008, 06:17 PM   #4
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I personally would be for using alternate sources of energy, but not mostly wind and solar. The US has the largest coal reserves in the world and we should start using it to replace our demand for oil. The reserves would last for hundreds of years, so we would have a reason to switch to a more plentiful fuel supply for a short term solution. As important the environment is, it will take a back seat to economics.

In the long term, we should begin replacing coal power for nuclear. Despite its bad reputation, modern nuclear reactors would be a better investment for energy demands. The biggest issue is not that nuclear plants are expensive to operate, they are expensive to build... resulting in high interest payments that must pay for the powerplant before it is decommissioned. If you didn't account for the initial investment, a nuclear plant would cost a fraction that of a coal plant to operate. Even today, nuclear plants rival coal in economics and the environmental impact is almost negligible. As for nuclear weapons... it is very simple to monitor nuclear plants because any attempt to extract plutonium would be to obvious to do in secret.

Although I would favor wind and solar power more than even nuclear, the US energy grid must have at least 80% of its sources to be stable for it to be reliable. Wind turbines often get more power that they can't store and don't generate when the wind doesn't blow.

Overall, the US should start investing in nuclear with the expectation that it would eventually replace oil. As of today, coal would be the best short-term solution.
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Old 07-18-2008, 06:28 PM   #5
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That is precisely the point. You don't abandon short term solutions trying to chase the "perfect" longer terms ones. The energy grid of the US is to big to just switch to patchwork solar and wind solutions. Not even sure I like the idea of govt programs for alternative energy solutions b/c govt is notoriously inefficient and thus would tie up great sums of money that could be put to better use elsewhere. I find it odd that people are quick to crucify "big oil" (ie the private sector), but are too willing to give govt a pass on it's own incompetence and self-serving greed (usually embracing the old "my guy is ok, but the rest of them are corrupt as hell").


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Old 07-18-2008, 06:30 PM   #6
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Hmm...

Hydroelectric (We've got lots of water... And we can use hydroelectric power to power other energy producing systems.)
Solar and Microwave (Microwave power is the perfected form of Solar power.)
Although these would be great to have, the sheer cost of sending a satelite into orbit to collect solar energy would be many times more than just using 'standard' photovoltaic cells for the same amount of energy. Even if conventional solar is unreliable, it would be more desirable to just spend the capital investment on conventional solar.

Hydroelectric has other environmental impacts that would almost negate the benefits that a dam would provide. Certain dams, such as Hoover, Three Gorges, and the Nile's are ideal because the power they supply and the flood prevention they provide. In addition, there are only so many rivers that are suitable for power stations. They would never provide more than 10% of America's energy at the most.
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Old 07-18-2008, 06:36 PM   #7
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That is precisely the point. You don't abandon short term solutions trying to chase the "perfect" longer terms ones. The energy grid of the US is to big to just switch to patchwork solar and wind solutions. Not even sure I like the idea of govt programs for alternative energy solutions b/c govt is notoriously inefficient and thus would tie up great sums of money that could be put to better use elsewhere. I find it odd that people are quick to crucify "big oil" (ie the private sector), but are too willing to give govt a pass on it's own incompetence and self-serving greed (usually embracing the old "my guy is ok, but the rest of them are corrupt as hell").
I agree with you on this. Many Americans think the way of the future is hydrogen and ethanol. If they stepped back and realized that 100% of America's corn crops would only alleviate 15% of our energy needs, then you've sacrificed all agricultural production for a fraction of what it would have been worth. As ethanol production rises, food prices rise because of the opportunity costs that were lost to the ethanol.

Americans must start embracing the realization that the future of energy is going to be painful one way or another. With nuclear and renewables, we would at least be able to take a foothold on our energy supplies.
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Old 07-18-2008, 07:56 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Darth_Yuthura View Post
Al Gore recently declared that the US had the means and the resources needed to convert most of our oil demands to use solar and wind power instead. He said the US should spend the next 10 years investing in solar panels and setting up wind turbines.

What do you think?
Wow, my thanks to Al Gore for telling me that the most powerful nation on Earth has the resources to use solar and wind power. He just blew my ****ing mind.



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Old 07-18-2008, 07:57 PM   #9
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I smell foul play and a lot of people that don't know much about energy.


Also, I propose funding into magnetic propulsion. (Energy that will truely never run out until the end of the universe)


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Old 07-18-2008, 08:26 PM   #10
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Aren't solar panels highly expensive?
and wind power highly unpredictable?

if you ask me, investing in those two things won't help much.


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Old 07-18-2008, 08:34 PM   #11
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There are expensive to buy, but solar panels are cheap to operate. The reason why I support nuclear energy most is because it has the best balance of performance and economy. Solar and wind have their flaws, but are cheaper in the long run than coal.
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Old 07-18-2008, 08:39 PM   #12
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what I don't get is why everyone is so hestitant to try certain energies out. even coal had its troubles.
we learnt that, with the ALARA principle in tact, nuclear energy would be perfect for a new energy source. but because of protests over here, it's difficult to tell.

then again - profit should be the least of their worries.


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Old 07-18-2008, 09:08 PM   #13
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I smell foul play and a lot of people that don't know much about energy.


Also, I propose funding into magnetic propulsion. (Energy that will truely never run out until the end of the universe)

If you have a specific question to ask... I'll answer it. And I'll even back my answer with a reliable reference.

The problem with renewables being expensive is not the operating cost; it's the interest that goes into the capital investment.
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Old 07-18-2008, 09:49 PM   #14
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Well.. It seems that a lto of these power solutions aren't all that efficient... Perhaps we should theorize a bit ourselves on more efficient sources of power.

Anti-matter power would be nice but... Yeah that one's way far off. We have to stick with what's truly possible and harnessable for now.


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Old 07-19-2008, 01:50 AM   #15
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Also, I propose funding into magnetic propulsion. (Energy that will truely never run out until the end of the universe)
That would be a pretty good idea. I think that would work pretty well to tell you the truth.

--

Hmmm, I think that more hydroelectric energy is a wonderful idea. I have had an opportunity to visit the Hoover Dam, and I learned quite a bit about it. The Dam provides a respectable amount of energy to surrounding areas and cities. I think that we should build more dams in opportune areas. However, it would take several years (at least) to build and get operational. I think, that in the long run, it could help, though.

Solar Energy-- I also think that it is a good idea. I mean, we do, and will, have the Sun now, and for many years to come. Why not utilize what it it offers to us? It is very much renewable. I think that Solar Satellite would be a good idea. However, it is just so darn expensive. Nearly anything that uses solar energy is expensive. I think that it would be a good idea though. However, we can't just have ideas, we have to have solutions.

Wind--Wind power currently produces about 1% of the world's electricity use. That is just the thing, it is mainly used to make electricity. Anything helps though. This emmits not pollution, greenhouse gasses, ect. It is also very renewable. The thing is, there are not enough turbines out there to produce more energy than it is, or it is just doesn't produce enough energy.

There is also Tidal Power-- Could really help with energy electricity wise. Waves are more predictable than wind.

Offshore Drilling-- as we all know, it can be very destructive to the environment. I am kinda split in the middle with this one actually. If we could drill offshore responsibly (if there is even such a thing), then I think that we should. Gas is over $4.00 per/gallon! It is effecting everyone. We need to do something about it. As we all know, we ultimately, need to stop using it in such quantities. The United States consumes about 400 million gallons of gas in one day! If there is a responsible way of drilling offshore, and in places like Alaska, which is one of the last truly 'wild' places in the U.S, then I so go for it.

As I said earlier, we can't just have ideas right now, we need solutions. Just my

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Old 07-19-2008, 03:13 AM   #16
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vehicles: hydrogen, tis wonderous

infrastructure: nuclear, tis actually very clean as well as efficient compared to others




hmm, mobile magnetics for propulsion? that'll be expensive! but hey, we can get hovercars that way...
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Old 07-19-2008, 07:16 AM   #17
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Hydrogen is not a source of energy; it's a means of conveyance. In order to use hydrogen for vehicles, it must be backed by a powerplant. In addition, extracting hydrogen from water always results in wasted energy. We should be trying to reduce the amount of energy we demand... not increase it.

Fuel cells are not the best solution fir vehicles... plug-in hybrids are. When electricity is least demanded, hybrids could take advantage of the excess electricity not being used at night and reduce the demand for gasoline.
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Old 07-19-2008, 06:24 PM   #18
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Waves are more predictable than wind.
Waves are almost perfectly reliable. Nuclear power, most of the enviornmental concern is magnified some I'm sure because ever since Hiroshima, "Nuclear" has been an unneccesarily scary word. Wind power can actually be pretty predictably AND fairly profitable if you can get your windmills up in the right spots, which is the hard part. I just wanna' kick all those people who say that those windmills are "Visual pollution". They don't seem to be complaining much about skylines.


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Old 07-19-2008, 06:56 PM   #19
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Waves are almost perfectly reliable. Nuclear power, most of the enviornmental concern is magnified some I'm sure because ever since Hiroshima, "Nuclear" has been an unneccesarily scary word. Wind power can actually be pretty predictably AND fairly profitable if you can get your windmills up in the right spots, which is the hard part. I just wanna' kick all those people who say that those windmills are "Visual pollution". They don't seem to be complaining much about skylines.
I agree with most of the above post. Wind, solar, and water energy are all fairly predictable. However, I would avoid nuclear power if possible. I'd prefer cleaner types of energy, but I'd take nuclear over coal/oil any day.

As for the "visual pollution," that's just an excuse (at least, to me). The skyscrapers are more of a damage to the environment than the windmills are. Those that use the term "visual pollution" are trying to combine a word with a negative-sound (pollution has become a term of icky-stuff, nowadays). It's like the term "tree-hugger."
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Old 07-19-2008, 10:31 PM   #20
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Seeing as how the Kennedy name is one of the more prominent amongst the "visual pollution" crowd, I always took it to mean that he could drive his yacht like it was the Exxon Valdez w/o having to worry about hitting one of those things.


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Old 07-20-2008, 09:33 AM   #21
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The skyscrapers are more of a damage to the environment than the windmills are.
Actually, high population density is the best way to save the environment. American cites have a huge ecological footprint because we love Single Family Detached Homes (SFDH). It is best to stack people on top of each other than it is side by side.

High population density also allows for mass transportation to be the most effective means to get around. New York is the most environmentally friendly city in the US because of its subway and bus system... a direct result of its high population density.
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Old 07-20-2008, 09:41 AM   #22
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Solar power has a major disadvantage compared to other energies... even wind: they require a significant amount of land. However, this may be an advantage if solar thermal plants were placed on desert terrain. Deserts offer the ideal conditions for solar thermal power to operate and the land is almost worthless. Why not take advantage of desert land?

A powerplant must pay for itself through the sale of electricity... it is purchased with borrowed funds. Because of this, most of the cost of solar electricity goes to paying interest on the investment. Coal power is cheaper than solar because the power plants are so cheap and produce huge sums of electricity, but the 15,000 tons of coal per day for a 1GW coal plant makes it expensive to operate.

There are also a number of solar systems that could be used:

Photovoltaic cells are among the most popular means of collecting solar energy because there is almost no restriction to where they can be used. The biggest disadvantage is that they only capture a fraction of the potential energy of electricity.

Solar Thermal plants are the best means of collecting solar energy on a huge scale. Despite its reputation as an expensive energy, it only requires a huge capital investment. The biggest issue with solar thermal is that they don't produce electricity at night. The issue of storing energy is where renewable energies lose their luster. Because wind turbines can't store excess energy when it's abundant, they won't be able to harness all the wind energy they capture. Same thing goes for solar.

Solar thermal chimneys are rarely known, but they may be the best means of builind solar thermal plants on a huge scale. They even could generate power at night because the ground would retain a significant amount of heat. Solar thermal chimneys are quite simple: a 2000 foot chimney in the center of an area covered by a canopy would produce a wind current through the chimney.
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Old 07-20-2008, 05:32 PM   #23
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Anything but gas.

Ever wonder why we haven't figured out how to run our cars on something else besides fossil fuels? The thing is, we have. For a while.

Hydrogen Powered:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_EUm3eqyHE

Further info:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8stApCmxYEM

Air Powered:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ztFDqcu8oJ4
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Old 07-20-2008, 05:45 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by han sala View Post
Ever wonder why we haven't figured out how to run our cars on something else besides fossil fuels? The thing is, we have. For a while.

Hydrogen Powered:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_EUm3eqyHE

Further info:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8stApCmxYEM

Air Powered:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ztFDqcu8oJ4
I feel like this could have been posted in one of the other three fuel threads we have here in Kavar's.

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Old 07-20-2008, 05:49 PM   #25
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The one active one didn't seem like the right place to put these links IMO.

The other ones haven't been active for a month so I didn't want to resurrect them.
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Old 07-20-2008, 05:59 PM   #26
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What I'd like to know is why we have synthetic oil, but not synthetic gasoline.

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Old 07-20-2008, 07:55 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by han sala View Post
Ever wonder why we haven't figured out how to run our cars on something else besides fossil fuels? The thing is, we have. For a while.

Hydrogen Powered:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_EUm3eqyHE

Further info:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8stApCmxYEM

Air Powered:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ztFDqcu8oJ4
Well, the there are several things that pop-uo into my head. One, they are too expensive for everyone. I will explain a little bit more of that later on in my post. Second, there is the factor of it being unpractical.

Unpractical-- I have a large family myself (currently 6 people) and something that small is unpractical for large families. I really don't think that there is much more to say other than this.

Expensive-- As I said, it is unpractical, for large families. Lets assume that my family members are all of legal driving age and each get one of these vehicles lets say for $15,000. That is $90,000 just right there! Way too expensive. I wish that they were much less. :/

--

One of my more recent teachers told us that he thinks that the hydrogen engine is already been made. But the companies have paid them off...


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Old 07-20-2008, 08:08 PM   #28
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Expensive
I believe the video was made some where around the 80s. I'm pretty sure if more research went into it, it could be done much cheaper.


Quote:
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One of my more recent teachers told us that he thinks that the hydrogen engine is already been made. But the companies have been paid-off...
Clearly it has been made as the video shows it. I heard somewhere however that the man in the video died. I'll have to look into that more though.
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Old 07-20-2008, 09:34 PM   #29
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I believe the video was made some where around the 80s. I'm pretty sure if more research went into it, it could be done much cheaper.
True, but it will most likely still be expensive. :/

Quote:
Clearly it has been made as the video shows it. I heard somewhere however that the man in the video died. I'll have to look into that more though.
Yes this is true, but why don't the majority of people have one?

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Old 07-20-2008, 09:39 PM   #30
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What I'd like to know is why we have synthetic oil, but not synthetic gasoline.
I'm pretty sure it's because synthetic oil has little or no octane to be refined from it.


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Old 07-20-2008, 09:51 PM   #31
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Yes this is true, but why don't the majority of people have one?
The Oil Companies would go out of business, which is also bad for the government. There is no way they would allow it to happen unless they could profit from it.
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Old 07-20-2008, 10:19 PM   #32
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The Oil Companies would go out of business, which is also bad for the government. There is no way they would allow it to happen unless they could profit from it.
Pfft, it's bad for the oil companies. And anyways, I'd rather have the government go through some tough times times than **** up the planet beyond the point of it being livable.



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Old 07-20-2008, 10:26 PM   #33
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The Oil Companies would go out of business, which is also bad for the government. There is no way they would allow it to happen unless they could profit from it.
That is exactly my point.

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That is what I meant in my original post. Sorry!

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Old 07-20-2008, 10:31 PM   #34
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Old 07-21-2008, 03:20 AM   #35
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Originally Posted by Darth_Yuthura
Solar thermal chimneys are rarely known, but they may be the best means of builind solar thermal plants on a huge scale. They even could generate power at night because the ground would retain a significant amount of heat. Solar thermal chimneys are quite simple: a 2000 foot chimney in the center of an area covered by a canopy would produce a wind current through the chimney.
I'm not sure if it's a good idea to create constant air streams and stir up winds which are not there naturally.

Actually, I am pretty sure it is a bad idea.


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Old 07-21-2008, 03:35 AM   #36
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To use the alternative energies at big scale levels, they'd have to be provided constantly and with secured supply. As of now this is not possible, or has not been done due to massive costs. I mean, why produce a huge amount of alternative energy, when almost no one has a car or whatever to use this energy? Many people still want big strong cars, and while they are obviously willing to pay tons of money for big cars and the gas they need, they are obviously not willing to invest that money in alternative methods to drive a car just because it cannot reach a top speed of X in 4 seconds like the a gas driven car.

The only way to handle peoples stupidity is to make the old technology so expensive that it makes the new technology interesting to the common human being, despite all its "drawbacks", which is what we see happen today.


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Old 07-21-2008, 03:49 AM   #37
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The Oil Companies would go out of business, which is also bad for the government. There is no way they would allow it to happen unless they could profit from it.
Actually, oil companies are not so foolish as to limit their options. Oil companies are not about producing oil and supplying a nice demand. Oil companies are about producing profit. They will sell whatever turns the most profit for them. If solar energy provides bigger revenues than oil, they'll do it. There are several oil companies that are investing in wind power because putting up wind farms generates them more money then drilling, processing and shipping oil products.

So yes, nothing will happen until oil companies feel there is more profit in non-oil-based tech than oil. However, with the rising cost of oil, non-oil-tech is starting to look better every day.


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Old 07-21-2008, 11:37 AM   #38
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This site always seems to always have lots of interesting stuff in relation to the environment and whatnot.


Please feed the trolls. XD
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Old 07-21-2008, 02:43 PM   #39
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Actually, oil companies are not so foolish as to limit their options. Oil companies are not about producing oil and supplying a nice demand. Oil companies are about producing profit. They will sell whatever turns the most profit for them.
Of course, but I don't believe that Oil Companies could profit as much from Water or Air as they can from Oil.


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when almost no one has a car or whatever to use this energy?
Actually, I read that the Hydrogen Fuel Cell Engines could easily be retrofitted to your car. It wouldn't be a new car you need, but new "organs" if-you-will.
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Old 07-21-2008, 03:06 PM   #40
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Yes, but it would still cost much money, often almost more than the car's actual value. "Retro-fitting" basically means you keep the old stuff and add the new stuff, which means more weight, thus a loss in power and range.


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