Renewable Energy & Green Tech

I'm not a "tech guy." I don't understand the science of things, especially when it gets into equations and such. But I love learning about science as long as it's dumbed down enough for me to understand it (like in Portal, when Glados describes momentum and dumbs it down to "speedy thing goes in, speedy things comes out").

Anyway, I thought I'd make a thread and post videos sometimes from channels I follow. Some I follow discuss latest findings or new research into renewable energy, something I'm constantly fascinated by.

To start, here's one talking about tidal energy. Which is more costly to set up and maintain due to salt water and other factors, but it creates far more reliable energy than solar and wind combined. Not a new technology, but it's that's constantly researched. In fact, there's one here in Nova Scotia that reportedly generates around 80-100 MW of power.

I'm always wondering if there some way to combine some of these various generators into a single unit. Something like, say, a wind turbine but with solar panels built into it. Or an offshore wind turbine with a tidal turbine below sea level. Of course, I know nothing about science and have no idea if such a thing is practical.

 
Something else I just learned today: there's a power plant just near my place here in Dartmouth. It's right on the harbour. And I was under the impression that it was purely a coal powered planet (as with about 50% of Nova Scotia's power). But it turns out they've been slowly converting to natural gas power, instead. Coal use has been reduced by 34% in the last 20 years, and they're looking to phase it out entirely by 2030.

Obviously, natural gas still emits greenhouse gases, but it's nowhere near as high as coal. I'd be happier if any greenhouse gas emitting power was phased out, but phasing out coal is at least a good step in the right direction. At least until Nova Scotia can get more renewable energy projects going.
 
I'm always wondering if there some way to combine some of these various generators into a single unit.
There tend to be splits between solar and wind, because many of the places that don't have sunlight have wind, and vice versa. Many places also have sunlight during the day and wind at night, so it's not uncommon to see someone's mountaintop hideaway have a bit of both to try and maintain power generation around the clock. But they are normally not combined into a single unit, since the service/maintenance of each are different enough that it is probably more convenient to keep them separate.

--Patrick
 
People have been burning natural gas bubbled up through sand as an efficient radiant heat source (gas burns, heats sand, hot sand then radiates), so this seems natural for Finland--it's just a giant sauna with very tiny rocks.

--Patrick
 
Another one of those "I don't really understand any of this, but it's super neat" for me: graphene and all its potential applications.

 

figmentPez

Staff member
I never really jumped on the "TeamSeas" bandwagon when it came to the Ocean Cleanup project. On paper and visually, it looks great. But as this video describes, it doesn't stop the fundamental problems behind plastic getting into rivers and oceans.

 
Mark Rober has said (in his Hot Ones interview, actually) that collecting the trash is only a stop gap. They went up the river to examine some of the villages where the trash is entering the river and found virtually no infrastructure there for garbage. So he definitely knows that the cleanup efforts are not a long term solution.
 
I thought the point behind Team Seas was that it was better than the nothing being done before, and that it would raise awareness of the whole problem?
Getting tens of millions of pounds of trash out of the water is definitely a worthy goal on its own. Better infrastructure is always the best, if utterly unsexy, solution, IMNSHO.
 
I thought the point behind Team Seas was that it was better than the nothing being done before, and that it would raise awareness of the whole problem?
I think it's because many people see it as a quick, sexy solution when the real solution is far wider reaching and more complicated than that.
 
See also: current heavy investments in carbon capture technology, while there's already a perfectly cheap and easy solution... But planting trees and seeding krill just isn't very sexy.
 
Just as an aside only tangentially related to what's being discussed: man I hate (organized) religion. Mark Rober seems like a cool dude, but I can't in good conscience support anything he does, because I know he's a Mormon in good standing with the church. And being in good standing means 10% of all of his income goes to the church, which is then used to oppose things like gay rights.

This might be a no ethical consumption under capitalism type scenario.
 
I honestly don't know why we aren't growing forests of bamboo, baking them down into charcoal, and then somehow sequestering the more or less pure carbon that is the result. Seems like it would take up less room than CO2 gas. The only drawback I can see is finding someplace where you can store all of it without worrying about whether it will catch on fire.

--Patrick
 
I'd assume they can more heavily pressurize the gas, fitting it in a smaller volume. Charcoal isn't the densest of carbon forms. But I'm not sure, of course.
 
I assumed the resulting charcoal would be processed by crushing/powdering/grinding it in order to remove the honeycomb of void left behind after the other, more volatile materials are driven off by pyrolyzing it in the kiln. Apparently, charcoal made from bamboo is especially porous (suggesting bamboo does not trap as much carbon as I thought), which may make it a poor choice for this process. The only reason I suggested bamboo was because of its famously fast growth rate (compared to, say, hardwood trees) which I assumed would also mean that it could "scrub" carbon out of the air faster than, say, poplar or willow. I suppose some research would be needed to measure which plants have the highest scrubbing efficiency/speed.

--Patrick
 
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Solar Company Gets Bright Idea to Cover Storage Facilities in Solar Panels—Brings Power to 1,400 Homes


This seems like one of those "Sure, that seems obvious, why aren't more companies doing this?" kind of things. They have access to all those solar panels. Why NOT put them all over their storage facilities?
 
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