Is spreading the extra energy around the existing users the best we can do?
It buys us time. Time to make the adjustments in lifestyle (individual and collective) that will reduce our per capita energy use to levels that are long-term sustainable.
I heard 3rd hand that switching our entire transport fleet to electric cars would barely affect our electricity use as a country - certainly that's something that could be a good use of spare capacity, although apparently not much of it.
Energy star does make a difference, if you can afford the choice. We chose our new fridge in part based on the fact it had the best star rating (also the vege drawer could hold a whole spring onion!) - but we had the luxury of being able to make that choice. One and two star appliances are cheaper because production costrs are cheaper. Essentially the manufacturer is passing the cost on to the consumer and the country - why do we allow them to do that?
But there is a big gap in the market – nothing available in NZ between little 50W 12V units designed for boats of campervans and the $20,000+ units for larger buildings.
Yeah from my limited reading there does seem to be a gap. Also it seems like wind turbines are all "old tech" - where are the carbon fibre structures that combine the best engineering to cope with high wind events with high efficiency in low wind? It seems like given our research into yacht and sail design shouldn't we also lead the world in wind turbine design?
And of course you are right having large wind farms is more efficient, the problem is the best places to put wind farms often have social restrictions and suffer from the same losses over the distribution network as the hydro plants. Some perfect mix of distributed and concentrated generation has to be possible.
Didn't PAS used to have a blogger who was more expert in this stuff ... name something like Davey ...
we’re on the cusp of a tech change in solar panels
Two things make me hopeful.
First is the use of organic molecules to make PV cells rather than rare earths. They are some distance from reaching the same efficiencies but they have advantages that might make even a lower efficiency cell valuable.
Second is all the work around wierd carbon structures, nanotubes, graphene etc. From a non-expert perspective it really seems as though when you change the structure of carbon you can get some really wierd effects - turning those into products is the interesting step - but worth noting they are already trying to use graphene to make TVs at Samsung!
Does that start to become “green”
I think so. I really do think we aren't far from quite dramatic changes in solar cells. There are a lot of folks working on alternatives, if for no other reason than to avoiud depending on Chinese rare earth mines.
Without wishing to rain on the solar panel parade, there are some issues. The biggest is lifetime of the panels, they don't last forever and efficiency starts dropping from day one. Ten years is not an unreasonable effective lifetime for todays technology. Some systems last longer but they cost more to start with. The next problem is effeciencies are always quoted for perfect installation, correct angles etc. Most homes don't fit that criteria. Also worth noting that solar panels dramatically lose efficiency with any shade over any part of the panel, so no trees overhanging your home and no leaf litter etc on the panel (I like trees providing shade for my home :(). As mentioned NZ sucks for government support of solar panels so any info from overseas will assume you get tax breaks and guaranteed buyback rates etc none of which apply for NZ.
The final killer for me is that the environmental cost of the panels is not great. Production costs are not at all good.
All of the above problems are solvable with new and better technology. My hope is someone will figure out how to make efficient organic solar cells.
If been keeping a lazy eye on solar panels because I'd love to have them for the "dream house" after I win lotto, but in the end it looks like a wind turbine (far enough away from the house to not hear the noise) is a better bet than solar at the moment.
the most neurotic person
nope, not at all.
And the not bathing thing????? In summer two showers a day is required ... if ladies glow and horses sweat, buggered if I know what my sweat glands think they're up to!
Shame about the body…
I really really hope this catches the imagination of the young creative people who are out there. Good luck, even with all the work you have put into it I think you'll need some luck.
to ensure it’s age appropriate
Of course you have to do this. But it is interesting that many of the best creations from youth will not themselves be age appropriate. They'll be able to make it but not read/see/hear/touch it.
in a pit of their own filth
Damn I guess I really should clean the house this weekend.
I think of all those things to learn saying "I'm sorry" is the hardest and most important of all.
I think I got the hang of it by about 30, not actually saying it, just knowing I should be saying it.
Saying "I Love you" ... out loud ... actually to the person you love ... regularly ... and meaning it. Today marks our 14th year as a married couple, I may not be an adult but I know I love my partner and I try and remember to tell her that.