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A skeptic takes an educated look at alternative energy.

A skeptic takes an educated look at alternative energy.

The matter of affordable costs is the hardest promise to assess, given the many assorted subsidies and the creative accounting techniques that have for years propped up alternative and renewable generation technologies. Both the European Wind Energy Association and the American Wind Energy Association claim that wind turbines already produce cheaper electricity than coal-fired power plants do, while the solar enthusiasts love to take the history of impressively declining prices for photovoltaic cells and project them forward to imply that we’ll soon see installed costs that are amazingly low.

But other analyses refute the claims of cheap wind electricity, and still others take into account the fact that photo­voltaic installations require not just cells but also frames, inverters, batteries, and labor. These associated expenses are not plummeting at all, and that is why the cost of electricity generated by residential solar systems in the United States has not changed dramatically since 2000. At that time the national mean was close to 40 U.S. cents per kilowatt­-hour, while the latest Solarbuzz data for 2012 show 28.91 cents per kilowatt-hour in sunny climates and 63.60 cents per kilowatt-­hour in cloudy ones. That’s still far more expensive than using fossil fuels, which in the United States cost between 11 and 12 cents per kilowatt-hour in 2011. The age of mass-scale, decentralized photovoltaic generation is not here yet.

Then consider the question of scale. Wind power is more advanced commercially than solar power, but with about 47 gigawatts in the United States at the end of 2011 it still accounted for less than 4 percent of the net installed summer generating capacity in that country. And because the capacity factors of U.S. wind turbines are so low, wind supplied less than 3 percent of all the electricity generated there in 2011.

Read the whole article. It is detailed, thoughtful, and blunt.

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Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!

 

From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

 
Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.

 

“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.

 

All editions available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors. The ebook can be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner. Note that the price for the ebook, $3.99, goes up to $5.99 on September 1, 2022.

 

Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.

4 comments

  • JGL

    Mr. Zimmerman,

    Have you looked into / developed an opinion about L.E.N.R. ( Low Energy Nuclear Reaction) ?

    In particular Andrea Rossi and his ECAT system?

    Very interesting.

  • I have read some stories on ECAT, but have not looked into it very deeply. However, I must admit that of what I have read, it has not passed my skeptical “smell test.” Something seems fishy about ECAT, though as I say I’ve not yet looked at the subject as closely as I should.

  • JGL

    I know what you mean, Rossi seems a sketchy, tempermental character, although his results and level of equipment built and tested does

    seem to support his claims to a degree IMO.

    Look into his history and read the results of the, I believe the Swedish Skeptics Technical Magazine, Maybe Ny-Technic, Im sorry I don’t

    have the exact name of the scientific skeptics organization which has witnessed and tested the systems but you can locate it if you look.

    You might take a look at the PESN.com archives for further information.

    Like I have said, I would value your assessment on the subject, if his claims are true, at the minimum its a very interesting phenomenon he

    has identified and you can extrapolate its implications at if its maximum potential is true.

  • JGL

    The name of the scientific skeptics magazine that reviewed the Rossi ECAT is NY TEKNIK.

    Here is a short quote from the end of one of thier articles.

    “An intense debate is also being held on the Wikipedia discussion page related to the article ‘Energy catalyzer’, and in many other forums.

    However, to date no one has been able to explain the measured values that Ny Teknik now has been able to confirm.”

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