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Building a
Sustainable Energy System

As individuals, we most often focus upon a single energy technology: One we particularly like (e.g., solar or wind), or one we particularly dislike (e.g., fossil fuel or nuclear).

And then we all start arguing.

At Bell Labs I researched semiconductor devices for fiber optic communications. These were kissing cousins to solar cells, and I got to know a lot of people in the solar cell field (including the founders of two U.S. solar energy companies). So, naturally, for me, that "single energy technology" was solar cells. But for years, my friends told me that "when the cost of cells falls below $X.YZ / Watt, they will take over the world!" And then they fell below that cost. And they did not take over the world. I was clearly missing something. So I began reading almost every article, paper and book on energy I could find. And I eventually figured out what I'd missed: Sustainable energy is not just about the component technologies, it's about how they fit together to create a complete energy system. Put another way, the individual technologies are only pieces of a much larger puzzle. And, frustratingly, many of those pieces still have shapes that are blurred, ill-defined, and/or changing with time.

But why not build an energy system based on just one "piece," for instance solar cells? Because, for now, no single "piece" can affordably produce the AMOUNT of energy we need, WHEN we need it, WHERE we need it.

To illustrate, say that solar cell efficiencies suddenly skyrocketed, and costs plummeted. Wouldn't that make an all-solar energy system possible? Yes, but only if you were willing to spend your evenings in the dark, either shivering or sweating. The problem? Solar cells require intense sunlight to produce energy, which only happens (with luck) near midday. But our power consumption peaks in the evenings. So for a solar-based energy system to work, we would also need an effective and affordable way of storing huge quantities of midday energy for later evening use - a technology "piece" we do not yet have. Or, if you lived on the U.S. east coast, you might tap into solar cells on the west coast, where the solar peak comes three hours later. But this would require another missing technological piece: efficient and affordable long-distance power transmission lines. So, even with miraculously improved solar cells, we would still need other (miraculously improved) pieces to build an energy system. And without such miracles, it's more likely that we will need many different energy-producing pieces, and many different complementary energy storage/transmission/ . . . pieces.

On this website, I examine the science and technology behind those energy "pieces," trying to define at least their present day shapes. But my real goal will be to use that knowledge to figure out how those pieces might someday complete the "puzzle" of a truly sustainable energy system.

Web Notes?

For my university class, lectures had to be of fixed length and number. That meant that I had to continuously edit and rearrange things as I added new material to the class. On the other hand, because my students were responsible for all class material, the exact order of presentation was not critical. Which freed me to enhance learning by revisiting critical topics multiple times, treating them in increasing depth, weaving them together with related topics.

But this new website is intended as an online resource for you, the citizen-researcher. And you will likely arrive here searching for information on a single specific energy topic. I hope to lure you into broader study. But to facilitate your immediate research, I am rewriting my class notes into what I will call "web notes." For these web notes:

Material is reordered so that single topics are largely covered in a single place (a single web note set, or consecutive sets).

Web note sets are of whatever length their topic naturally demands.

Because some topics (e.g., different energy technologies) share the same issue, discussion of that issue may be repeated in multiple web note sets.

Web note listings (immediately below) incorporate drop down outlines of each note set.

Each web note set also begins with that outline.

And crucial to your own research, each note set has a companion Resources webpage:

Which includes a complete list all of the papers, reports and other sources that I studied in writing the corresponding note set. For each source on that list (now often exceeding one hundred subject-sorted entries) I include the source's full title, web link, and in most cases cached copies. That webpage may also include relevant videos or particularly noteworthy figures.

I am now about three quarters through this process of expanding my earlier class notes into web notes.

I welcome any comments you have on the web note sets I have completed. I also welcome your input on any topics or questions you would like me to deal with in future note sets. (My current plans are given in grayed-out titles and drop-down outlines).

Please send your suggestions to me via this website's CONTACT WEBPAGE.

NOTE: These web notes were originally posted in only Microsoft Powerpoint format. However, Powerpoint is now available only via recurring annual payments. Such payments could place an unacceptable financial burden upon lower income students, teachers, and retirees. Thus, as of December 2018 I am beginning to convert and post my web note sets in three formats; MS Powerpoint, Adobe PDF, and Apple Keynote.


Recommended Textbook:
  Sustainable Energy without the Hot Air
David J.C. MacKay
Downloadable for free at: Without the Hot Air.com
Or as a paperback from: UIT Cambridge England, ISBN 978-0-9544529-3-3



Web Note Sets + Resource Webpages


 My Personal Introduction to Sustainable Energy (pptx / pdf / key)        

How and why I became interested / How I learned that full energy systems are almost always required

 U.S. Energy Production and Consumption (pptx / pdf / key) - Resources webpage         New February 2023

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U.S. Energy factoids worth remembering
Different types of energy used in the U.S. (and elsewhere)
U.S. Electrical Energy production & consumption:
         Sources of this Electrical Energy, including rapid changes over the last 20+ years.
         State-by-state breakdown of Electrical Energy sources & trends
         Analysis of alternate scenarios for reducing Greenhouse Gas (GHG) linked Electricity
U.S. Total Energy production & consumption:
         Understanding the dauntingly complex U.S. government reports
         Energy reductions if particular fossil-fuel technologies were replaced by electric technologies
                  Expansion of green Electric Grid capacity required to support those particular conversions
         Plausibility of expanding green Electric Grid capacity to eliminate ~ ALL GHG emissions
Putting U.S. power consumption into perspective:
         Worldwide data and maps on per-capita energy consumption

Electricity - Underlying Science & Generic Systems:

 The Science of Electricity: What it is / How it's generated / How we now try to transmit it

Part I: Electric & Magnetic Fields (pptx / pdf / key) - Resources webpage         

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Teaching "E & M" by memorizing equations vs. watching things happen
Our personal experiences with electric fields / The experiences of one British schoolmaster
        Electric charge: Two canceling types, attractive to each other, repulsive to themselves
        Electric Fields: An abstract way of mapping out the forces between electric charges
Magnetic Fields: Metal filing trails that are NOT force maps
        How such non-force-maps can nevertheless explain the forces between magnets
Electro-Magnetism: How charges (driven by Electric Fields) can generate Magnetic Fields
The gravity-defying fall of magnets through non-magnetic metal pipes
        Explained by Magnetic Induction = Propulsion of electrons by passing Magnetic Fields
        => Causing their Electro-Magnetism to create an opposing Magnetic Field
Explaining (eventually) metal recycling, maglev trains, electric generators, electric motors . . .

Part II: Magnetic Induction (pptx / pdf / key) - Resources webpage

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A review of electric & magnetic fields (drawn from preceding note set)
Magnetic-field-sucking "ferromagnetic materials" => Magnetic field directing "Pole Pieces"
The surprisingly straight-forward inner working of electric motors
        DC motors that switch "rotor" magnetization via "split ring" electrical contacts
        Even simpler AC motors
Increasing and smoothing out a motor's torque by adding multiple electro-magnet pairs
Nikola Tesla's clever "brushless" induction motor alternative
        Which, flattened out, now provides the basis for ultrahigh speed "maglev" trains
How the two adjacent coils of "transformers" allow one to transform AC power
        Optimizing Voltage x Current choices for either long distance power transmission
        Or for the myriad voltages now required for the most efficient & safe use of power

 A Generic Power Plant and Grid (pptx / pdf / key) - Resources webpage         

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Most power plants = Heat source + boiling water kettle + propeller + generator
        Including coal, nuclear, biomass/biofuel, and one type of natural gas (CCGT)
                Hydro and wind plants omit the heat source & kettle
                        But photovoltaic power plants (alone) are completely different
Our demand for their power is very cyclic = Base Power + Dispatchable Power
        Massive steam plants cannot efficiently meet this cycle (only hydropower can)
                And only one type of natural gas plant (OCGT) can deal well with its 2-3 hour peak
Combining many power plants into a grid requires scrupulous synchronization
        And even that falls apart if one tries to transmit AC power over long distances
                Where the peaks in current and peaks in voltage cease to track one another
Which, accelerated by green energy, is pushing us toward high voltage DC power transmission
        As enabled by transformers + diodes + capacitors

Energy Technologies:

Comparison of Energy Storage Media & Technologies
(Drawn from notesets: Fossil Fuels, Batteries & Fuel Cells, Hydrogen Economy, Energy Consumption in Transportation)

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 Power from Carbon:

Part I: Fossil Fuels (pptx / pdf / key) - Resources webpage         Revised July 2023

Far and away the biggest provider of U.S. electricity (60% of total 2021 electricity*)

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The difficulty in figuring out exactly what fossil fuels are
        Because their separation from petroleum is neither simple nor specific
How we now use fossil fuels
        Including transportation's addiction to their stunningly high "energy densities"
Identifying the fossil fuels releasing the most combustion heat per amount of CO2 liberated
Identifying the power plant technologies best at converting that heat into electricity:
        For coal: "Conventional" vs. "Ultra-supercritical" vs. "IGCC" power plants
        For natural gas: Single turbine "OCGT" vs. Dual Turbine "CCGT" power plants
The environmental impacts of fossil fuel extraction, including:
        Coal mining vs. strip mining vs. mountaintop removal
        Fracking's use of unmonitored chemicals, their "disposal" and role in earthquakes
                And the subsequent accidental/negligent release of greenhouse bad guy, methane

Part II: Biomass and Biofuels (pptx / pdf / key) - Resources webpage

The #5 low-carbon-footprint provider (biomass) of U.S. electricity (1.3% of total 2021 electricity*)

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Biomass vs. Biofuels - The difference between them / Their modification of the Carbon Cycle Biomass and its sustainability:
         The leading energy contributors: Sawdust, agricultural waste & manure
         The up-and-coming contributors: Municipal solid waste to energy & landfill gas to energy
The synthesis of Biofuels via: Predigestion + Fermentation + Distillation
Analysis of five key issues confronting biofuel growth, synthesis and use:
         - Lifetime energy return on energy invested (EROI)
         - Net greenhouse gas impact
         - Land use and fertilizer pollution
         - Consumption of fresh water
         - Effect upon U.S. and world food prices

 Hydroelectric Power (pptx / pdf / key) - Resources webpage

The #3 low-carbon-footprint provider of U.S. electricity (6.3% of total 2021 electricity*)

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The Science of Hydropower
Common Hydropower: Conventional & Run of the River
         Less Common Hydropower: Pumped Storage Hydro & Tidal Barrage or Lagoon
Today's U.S. hydropower
Limits of Hydropower / Objections to Hydropower
         Drought & Climate Change
         Carbon Footprint of Concrete
         Disruption of Fish Migrations
         Impact on Rainforests and Tropical River Deltas
         Possible Liberation of Soil Mercury
Alternate visions of tomorrow's hydropower:
         U.S. Department of Energy vs. the Nature Conservancy

 Wind Power

The #2 low-carbon-footprint provider of U.S. electricity (9.1% of total 2021 electricity*)

Wind Power - Part I (pptx / pdf / key) - Resources webpage         August 2022

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Wind's variation with locale, altitude & time
        Wind's energy and power
        Implications for all wind turbine designs /Implications for wind farm location & layout
Aero 101: DRAG (exploited in Savonius vertical axis wind turbine - VAWT)
                 LIFT (exploited in Danish horizontal axis wind turbine - HAWT & Darrieus VAWT)
                 How their use of lift & drag explain and limit performance of these turbines
Aero 201: Bernoulli's Equation / Betz's Limit on Lift + Drag turbines / Limit on pure Drag Turbines
"Anyone can make a working wind turbine, the problem is KEEPING it working!"
        Aerospace failures vs. the farm machinery company now supplying the world with turbines:
                Shared & verified performance data driving use of robust & standardized components
                The hard-luck lessons about failsafe turbine over-speed protection
Leading to the Danish turbine's current supremacy and ongoing trends in its deployment

Wind Power - Part II (pptx / pdf / key) - Resources webpage         August 2022

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Offshore Wind Power: The potential rewards / The unique challenges
Wind Power economics: LCOE
Wind Power Return on Energy Invested: EROI
Integrating wind power into the Grid:
        Power conversion, transmission and storage
        The looming threat of Grid instability
                Wind's role in crashing Southern Australia's Grid?
The broader impacts of Wind Power:
        Onshore Wind Power's bird & bat kills
        Offshore Wind Power's effect upon sea life

Wind Power News: Automated Eagle Detection / Turbine Shutdown System

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IdentiFlight AI System Hugely Reduces Bird Fatalities At Wind Farms, CleanTechnica.com, February 2018, (link / cached copy)

Automated Monitoring for Birds in Flight: Proof of Concept with Eagles at a Wind Power Facility, Journal of Biological Conservation (224) pp. 26-33 (2018) (link / cached copy)

IdentiFlight.com homepage (link / cached copy)

 Solar Power:

The #4 low-carbon-footprint provider of U.S. electricity (3.9% of total 2021 electricity*)

Part I: Today's Solar Cells (pptx / pdf / key) - Resources webpage         

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What is electricity? => The need for "electron pumps"
What is sunlight? How does light interact with various materials
How to make an electron pump (vs. a non-energy-producing "photoconductor")
        Creating free electrons and holes by adding donors & acceptors
        => Electron-pumping interfacial electric fields
Choosing solar cell material to milk the most power from sunlight: The Shockley-Queisser Limit
        Silicon's idiosyncrasies => The impact of "indirect bandgap" & "traps"
        Today's diamond, gold, silver & bronze standards / Record solar cell efficiencies
The huge difference between average and peak solar cell power output
Dealing with reflection (why many solar cells appear blue)
Lifetime solar cell energy output vs. lifetime energy input ("EROI")

Part II: Tomorrow's Solar Cells (pptx / pdf / key) - Resources webpage             

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Quick review of PV science / NREL's scorecard on Best Research PV Cells
Thin-film cells: Potentially low cost, but now often less efficient OR shorter-lived OR toxic
Multi-junction / Tandem cells: Using different parts to absorb different colors of sunlight
        Layering multiple solar cells atop on another: The more common approach
        Tuning different quantum-dots to different colors: An emerging approach
Luminescent Solar Concentrators: Capturing/converting sunlight into one PV-friendly color?
        Via quantum-dots or dye molecules embedded in thin transparent plastic layers
        Including possibility of skimming off unwanted colors trying to pass through windows
                Such as unwanted infrared (i.e., summer heat) and/or destructive ultraviolet
Thermophotovoltaics: Converting waste heat from engines, factories . . . into PV power?
        Using weird manmade "metamaterials," including "photonic crystals"

Part III: Solar Thermal Power / Heat Storage (pptx / pdf / key) - Resources webpage             

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Appearance to the contrary, Solar Thermal IS just another way of boiling power plant water
Variations on Solar Thermal's essential light concentrator: Parabolic Mirrors
        Concentrators' need for direct / unscattered sunlight => Mandatory use of desert locations
Novel / Non-Commercial Solar Thermal Schemes:
        Updraft & Downdraft Wind Chimneys
        Dish-Stirling Engine Plants
Mainstream / Commercial (albeit subsidized) Solar Thermal Plants:
        Solar Towers / Power Towers / Central Receivers (three names for the same thing)
        Parabolic Troughs
        Linear Fresnel Reflectors
                Including discussion of Receivers & Heat Transfer Fluids for all of the above
How heat storage might make Solar Thermal the first truly 24/7 green energy source
        Ending its distinctly non-green marriage-of-convenience with Natural Gas power
                While eliminating one of the two biggest hurdles to building a Green Grid
Solar Thermal's use of diminishing desert water supplies & its impact upon birds

Part IV: Utility Scale Solar Power Plants (pptx / pdf / key) - Resources webpage             August 2022

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Why focus on only Utility Scale Solar?
        Because of its strong cost advantage over Rooftop Personal Solar
Utility Scale Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Plants:
        These plants now have power capacities matching conventional power plants
                A few even match the capacities of Nuclear & Mega-Fossil Fuel power plants
        But despite the wealth of candidate PV technologies,
                crystalline Silicon solar cells dominate, challenged only weakly by Thin Film CdTe
Utility Scale Solar Thermal Plants:
        These plants DON'T have power capacities matching conventional power plants
                Only one plant in the world achieves "typical" power plant capacity
                        With all others still classifiable as "small/smallish" power plants
        But over half of these achieve a green energy "holy grail:" post sunset power production
                This enabled by their daytime stockpiling of superheated liquids
Utility Scale Plants of both types confirm solar energy's need for vast land areas

 Exotic Power Technologies (pptx / pdf / key) - Resources webpage         August 2022

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Geothermal Power
Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion
The Physics of Tapping into Water Power
Tidal Barrage Power
Tidal Stream Power
Wave Power
Floating Photovoltaic Farms
Wind Power Balloons & Kites
Solar Power Satellites
Fusion Power

 Batteries and Fuel Cells (pptx / pdf / key) - Resources webpage         Revised July 2023

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Battery History / Battery Science
Batteries in TODAY's homes & ground vehicles:
       Your car starting battery: Lead Acid
       Your home's premium disposable battery:  Zn-MnO2 based Alkaline
       Your home's older rechargeable battery:    Ni-Cd based Alkaline
       Your home's newer rechargeable battery:  Nickel Metal Hydride based Alkaline
       Your home's, car's, tool's, solar array's . . . newest reusable battery: Something based on Li
Batteries in TOMORROW's homes & ground vehicles
        Including future Li-Ion batteries, Aqueous Hybrid Ion / Saltwater, and Lithium Air batteries
Why practical battery-powered air & sea transport is a long way off
       Airplanes's need for power from very little mass - for which fossil-fuels are hugely better
       Ships's need for vast amounts of stored energy
Batteries in TOMORROW's greener electrical Grid
       Which may be key to the large-scale integration of solar and wind power
       But which requires HUGE amounts of stored energy (whatever the volume & mass!)
       Leading to weird new batteries including: Flow, Molten Sodium, and entirely Molten batteries
Fuel Cells / Electrochemical Cells

 A Hydrogen Economy? (pptx / pdf / key) - Resources webpage         NEW - July 2023

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Vision(s) of a Hydrogen Economy
       Reactions from the Press, Environmental, Science & Industry Organizations
Today's NOT so simple Hydrogen
       From where do we now get Hydrogen?
              White vs. Green Electrolytic vs. Gray, Brown, Black & Blue fossil-fuel based Hydrogen
       How do we now use Hydrogen?
Tomorrow's Hydrogen
       Energy Sources vs. Energy Storage Media
       Energy conversion efficiencies of electrolysis & fuel cells vs. batteries & synthetic fuels
Climate-change-driven vs. Industry-driven versions of a Hydrogen Economy:
       Massive Electrification + Green Hydrogen vs. Gray to Blue Hydrogen + Carbon Capture
       The surprisingly stark differences between economically-driven Carbon Capture & Utilization
              and climate-driven Carbon Capture, Utilization and SUSTAINED Sequestration
The intrinsic energy content of Hydrogen vs. Fossil Fuels vs. Batteries vs. . . .
       plus the EFFECTIVE energy densities of differently stored & transported Hydrogen
Impacts of those energy contents & densities upon future:
       Hydrogen transport and infrastructure
       Applications of Hydrogen in Heating, Electricity Generation, Cars, Trains, Ships & Planes
              Along with energy-calculation-based comparisons to competing technologies

 Nuclear Energy

The #1 low-carbon-footprint provider of U.S. electricity(18.6% of total 2021 U.S. electricity*)

Part I: But they blow up! (pptx / pdf / key) - Resources webpage

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Nuclei: What they contain, how to keep track of this
Fission of abundant U238 vs. rare U235
Use of "moderators" to slow emitted neutrons => Sustained fission chain reactions
       vs. neutron "poisons" and neutron "mirrors"
Chain reactions in bombs vs. chain reactions in nuclear reactors
Common "light water" moderated reactors:
       Boiling Water Reactors (BWR) vs. Pressurized Water Reactors
As opposed to carbon moderated RBMK reactors
The Accidents:
       Three Mile Island
       Chernobyl Accident
       Fukushima Dai Ichi
The claim that massive use of concrete negates nuclear's ~ zero greenhouse emission

Part II: Prehistoric Nuclear Reactors? (pptx / pdf / key) - Resources webpage

Part III: Gen III / III+ Reactors: Confronting Cost & Operational Safety - Resources webpage

AP-1000 / ES-BWR / Small Modular Reactors

Part IV: Gen IV Reactors: Designs that Might Radically Reduce Nuclear Waste - Resources webpage

Liquid Fluorine Thorium Reactor / Traveling Wave Reactor

Part V: A Brief Review of Other Gen IV Reactors - Resources webpage

These earlier class note sets provide information about advanced reactor designs (link1 & link2)

*Historical Data on U.S. Energy Sources from my U.S. Energy Production and Consumption web note set:

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Technology Comparisons:

 Power Plant Requirements: Land & Water (pptx / pdf / key) - Resources webpage

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How much power does a "typical" plant generate? How many plants does the U.S. need?
Calculation of power plant land use for all of the different technologies
       With design goals based on current U.S. power consumption:
              1000 power plants of 1 GW power production capacity
       Leading to table of net land use if each technology produced ALL of U.S. power
Calculation of power plant water use for all of the different technologies
       Water for 100% use of biofuel power is likely ~ ALL available fresh water
              With portion returned to rivers often polluted by agricultural chemicals
       Water for 100% steam-driven power plants ~ 2X Mississippi River
              But almost all of that water is returned to rivers "polluted" only by warming
       Minimal water consumption for solar PV, some solar thermal, wind and OCGT natural gas

 Power Plant Requirements: Minerals & Fuels - Resources webpage

 Lifetime Energy Return on Energy Invested - EROI (pptx / pdf / key) - Resources webpage

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Shortcomings of a purely economic assessment of energy technologies
Energy Payback Time vs. full lifetime energy cycle assessment
Definition and classic papers on Energy Return on (Energy) Invested: EROI
A re-examination of EROI data based on newer/additional data + technological insights
       Dramatic increases in Wind and Nuclear EROIs suggested by their technological evolution
       The murky world of biofuels where good intentions can strongly color EROI evaluation  

 Power Plant Economics: Analysis Techniques & Data (pptx / pdf / key) - Resources webpage

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Analysis Techniques: Time value of money + Uniform payment series + Present value
       Worked example of a power plant's lifetime financing
       Application in computing a breakeven Levelized Cost of Energy: LCOE
LCOE data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration: 2011 - 2018
       Analysis of EIA data peculiarities and trends
       Examining the EIA assumption of across-the-board 30 year power plant lifetime
LCOE data from Lazard
Comparison of data from all sources
       Resulting conclusions about present day renewable energy economics
Appendix tables of "U/P", "P/U", "F/P" and "P/F" function values

Personal Energy Consumption:

 Energy Consumption in Housing (pptx / pdf / key) - Resources webpage         

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Our homes consume over 1/5th of U.S. energy
       90% of which involves producing and moving heat
How that heat is moved:
       CONDUCTION = Transfer of vibrational energy between atoms/molecules
       CONVECTION = Movement of hot atoms/molecules to cooler places
       RADIATION = Flow of energy via electromagnetic waves (e.g., as infrared heat)
Detailed analysis of how each of these mechanisms affect our homes
       And the often simple & cheap things we can do to decrease their impact
Long term energy-saving strategies, including passive solar and smart(er) homes
Versus big savings available NOW via things like "condensing furnaces" and "heat pumps"

 Energy Consumption in Transportation (pptx / pdf / key) - Resources webpage         Revised February 2023

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Transportation's Energy Consumption & Environmental Impact
       Statistics on World & U.S. transportation energy consumption
       Statistics on World & U.S. transportation greenhouse gas emissions
       Unique impacts & concerns regarding transport via cars OR trucks OR trains OR planes OR ships
The science behind HOW energy is spent in moving things
       Yielding predictions of how power varies with vehicle size, weight, speed, altitude . . .
              Suggesting ways of reducing power for each mode of transportation
Energy saving technologies now proposed and/or being developed for:
       Trains, planes and ships
              Including discussion of possible electric planes, electric & ammonia powered ships
       But with cars & trucks covered in subsequent note set: Green(er) Cars & Trucks

 Green(er) Cars & Trucks (pptx / pdf / key) - Resources webpage

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Energy spent moving Cars & Trucks
"Greener" vehicles mitigating the impact of internal combustion engines (ICEs):
       Improving ICE fuel/air mixing, injection & spark ignition
       Using gasoline ICEs more effectively:
              Improved transmissions, including Dual Clutch & Continuously Variable (CVTs)
              Combined electric motor / ICE drives => Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs)
       Storing (rather than dissipating) kinetic energy when vehicles slow or stop
              Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (KERs) or Regenerative Braking Systems
"Green" electric vehicles
       Powered by a not yet Green Grid => "Well-to-Wheel" / Life cycle Energy & GHG analyses
       Green Grid + Battery Plug-in Electric Vehicles
             Challenges & possible benefits for the Grid
                    Including one weirdly plausible Grid-vehicle synergy: "Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G)"
       Green Grid + Hydrogen Fuel Cell / Battery Vehicles
       Impacts of Autonomous Vehicles

Fitting Round (Renewable) Pegs into Square (Grid) Holes:

 A Renewable Distributed Grid (pptx / pdf / key) - Resources webpage        

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Characteristics of today's power plants and grid
Dealing with Wind & Solar's naturally Grid incompatible forms of electrical power:
       Wind's asynchronous AC power and Solar's DC power
Today's solution: Universal Power Converters
       Small versions of which now also charge the batteries of our personal devices
Opening the door to a 12/7 Renewable Grid
       Which, overnight, would leave you shivering or sweating in the dark
The additional elements required for a 24/7 Renewable Grid?
       Massive Energy Storage: To save daylight/wind energy for overnight use
       High Voltage DC Electrical Power Transmission:
              Allowing generation of renewable energy in most advantageous locations
              But consumption of that energy where we most want/need it

 Power Cycles and Energy Storage (pptx / pdf / key) - Resources webpage

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How to meet our daily cycle of electrical power consumption?
Today's scenario: Base Load Power Plants (24/7) + Dispatchable Power Plants (evening only)
Possible future scenario: Base Load Plants + Massive Energy Storage
Candidates for Massive Energy Storage:
       Pumped Storage Hydro
       Hydrogen Fuel Cells
       Flywheel Energy Storage
       Compressed Air Energy Storage (CAES)
       Capacitor / Super Capacitor Energy Storage
       Battery Energy Storage
       Molten Salt Heat Energy Storage
How much of each is required for Base Load + Massive Energy Storage scenario?
More ambitious scenario of ALSO eliminating ALL non-green power sources

 Smart Grid: Robust & Efficient vs. Hackable Nightmare? (pptx / pdf / key) - Resources webpage

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How major U.S. blackouts prompted thinking about a "Smart Resilient Grid"
       And how deregulation has since made the Grid even less reliable
The five elements proposed for such a robust and energy-efficient Grid:
       Sensing trouble: Phasor (phase and frequency) Measurement Units (PMUs)
       Isolating trouble: Local, smart, microprocessor-based sensors & circuit breakers
       Logging & managing trouble: Digital Supervisory Control & Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems
       Communicating trouble: An Intranet linking the whole Grid together
       Controlling demand thereby mitigating trouble: An Advanced Metering Interface (AMI)
The latter involving power companies monitoring and/or controlling your IoT home appliances
       Raising huge security and privacy issues (including hacker/governmental sabotage)
Versus some far less intrusive smart(ish) energy-saving tools & strategies

The Bigger Picture:

 Climatology and Climate Change (pptx / pdf / key) - Resources webpage          

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Inconvenient truths about An Inconvenient Truth?
Paleoclimatology: Gathering climate data spanning millions of years
       Ten thousand years: Dendrochronology (tree rings), radiocarbon dating . . .
       Hundred thousand years: Glacial ice cores . . .
       Million years: Geology, fossils and their isotopic ratios . . .
The recent stark increases in atmospheric gases such as CO2
       vs. a less stark upward trend in temperature
Climate Models: The long, long list of effects & mechanisms that must be included
       Their surprisingly slow incorporation during the 1970's to 1990's
       The 2000's: Supercomputers finally allow for high-resolution worldwide modeling
       The ongoing transition from fitting past data toward accurately predicting future data

 Greenhouse Effect, Carbon Footprint & Sequestration (pptx / pdf / key) - Resources webpage      

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Building a simple "do-it-yourself" model of the Greenhouse Effect based on:
       1 color of sunlight + 1 color of earthlight + 1 greenhouse gas
Which ultimately collapses because: It's all about different colors
       Colors where gas A absorbs & emits vs. colors where gas B absorbs & emits
       Critical colors = Those where earth might radiate away heat (particular infrared colors)
              But is now being thwarted by the addition of new atmospheric gases
Data on gases now accumulating in the atmosphere
       Including now-censored "EPA Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions & Sinks"
Discussion of atmospheric gas sources, especially energy industry sources
       Possibilities of reducing such emissions
              Or of at least "sequestering" those emissions

 Where Do We Go From Here? (Cap & Trade / Carbon Tax?) (pptx / pdf / key) - Resources webpage       

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Searching for an effective, politician & lobbyist-proof, way of mitigating climate change
Cap & Trade: Affecting industry directly / but me only indirectly
       Its success with acid rain vs. the complexities of applying it to climate change
Carbon Tax: Affecting ALL directly
       What tax rate would be required to produce the desired changes?
              A prediction based on present day energy economics
       What is my personal carbon footprint? => How much tax would I likely pay?
              Household cost as a function of carbon tax rate and your local energy sources
Would this be justified by what economists call the Social Cost of Carbon?
       Their last two decades of research & debate about this cost
              My analysis of their data, incorporating more recent climate modeling



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Copyright: John C. Bean