Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Wedge Strategy: Increase Electricity Efficiencies

Vehicular Problem
Cars in the United States attribute to 90% of carbon monoxide in the air as well as hydro carbons and nitrogen oxides let alone the mass amounts of carbon dioxide emitted. These contaminants are caused by the fuel’s combustion. Even the fuel evaporation when the car or other vehicle is simply sitting in the sun contributes to carbon emissions. Millions of tons of pollutants are emitted a year by our dependence of personal transportation.
American use 753 million gallons of gas a year. On average, a single person waists $1,194 dollars a year on fuel and time in stop and go traffic. Busses and Trains are NOT the answer.

What can we do?
Less mileage, drive at an average speed of 35-45 miles an hour, do not top-off at the gas station, use clean fuels, car-pool, or simply stop driving.
Although electric vehicles have few direct emissions, all rely on energy created through electricity generation which will emit pollution unless it is from a renewable source. If a large proportion of private vehicles were to convert to plug-in electricity, there would be a significant need for generation and transmission capacity, even if most charging occurred overnight drawing power from the most efficient off-peak base load. Electromagnetic radiation, from high performance electrical motors has been claimed to be associated with some human ailments

Compact Fluorescent Bulbs and LEDs
If each customer of the Wal-Mart stores (176 million people) each bought one CF bulb, that uses 75% less electricity, a weak they would save roughly three billion dollars on electrical bills, would cut fifty billion tons of cal use, and keep incandescent bulbs out of our landfills over the life of the one CF. If each customer bought one CF every weak, at the end of the year they would have collectively cut the use of coal by 2.4 trillion tons.

What is Inside an LED?
LED's are special diodes that emit light when connected in a circuit. They are frequently used as "pilot" lights in electronic appliances to indicate whether the circuit is closed or not. A clear (or often colored) epoxy case enclosed the heart of an LED, the semi-conductor chip.

Nuclear and Hydro Power
Electric power companies, which emit about one-third of America’s global warming gases, could reduce their emissions to below the levels of 1990, but that would take about 20 years, no matter how much the utilities spend, according to a new industry study. No, if money was no object then the entire fleet of coal and natural gas burning electric generation plants could be replaced by nuclear power plants. The industry study calls for 64 gigawatts of additional nuclear power by 2030, an increase of about two-thirds from the current level. In the United States we could switch to nuclear where we now use coal and natural gas. In 2005 nuclear power accounted for 19.3% of total electric power generated. The United States had 104 nuclear reactors operating in 2005 with a total capacity of 97 gigawatts (almost 1 gigawatt per plant). So as a rough first approximation if we built 400 nuclear power plants or 4 times as much as we already have we could shut down all the fossil-fuels burning plants. Also, hydro could be used for part of the peak demand capacity. The average nuclear power plant now operating is smaller than the average that would get built in a new nuclear power plant building program. But if we had to build 8 times as much nuclear power (about 800 gigawatts) as we now have and they cost $1.5 billion per 1 gigawatt of capacity then we are looking at $1.2 trillion dollars to build a fully nuclear electric power plant fleet. That's less than 10% of the US economy's product for one year.

This would only be eliminating a third of the problem. Also, a massive nuclear power plant building program would drive down the cost of nukes.

Hydroelectricity eliminates the flue gas emissions from fossil fuel combustion, including pollutants such as sulfur dioxide, nitric oxide, carbon monoxide, dust, and mercury in the coal. Compared to the nuclear power plant, hydroelectricity generates no nuclear waste, nor nuclear leaks. Unlike uranium, hydroelectricity is also a renewable energy source. Compared to wind farms, hydroelectricity power plants have a more predictable load factor. If the project has a storage reservoir, it can be dispatched to generate power when needed. Hydroelectric plants can be easily regulated to follow variations in power demand.

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