Renewable Energy Sources

In a previous post, I wrote about solar flares and the effects such an event could have on the electric grids. One part of the issue that makes the grid vulnerable is the how and where the energy is produced.

Energy is mostly produced at central locations and needs to be transported over medium and long distances to be brought to consumers. In many cases this is not avoidable. Even with renewable energy sources, wind- and solar farms need to be built, tidal power can only be harvested in the ocean where there is enough tidal change and hydroelectric power needs a river or a dam.
An additional issue with these technologies is that they are not steady sources, meaning that if the wind does not blow or the sun does not shine, there will be no energy produced and delivered to the electric grid and to consumers. This is a problem because the energy  cannot be stored very well. This would lead to unacceptable black-outs with customers.

It is thus clear that some more steady sources of energy are needed as well and that power needs to be produced closer to the consumers, which is to mean locally.

Of the locally produced energy, I have two favorites. One is fuel-cells and the other is geothermal energy, i.e. geothermal heat pumps. Geothermal energy can also be produced a central locations, but the the geothermal heat pumps are something you can equip your house with and it is technology available today. I guess there is a huge potential for fossil fuel savings here if geothermal heat pumps were installed everywhere where it is feasible. I imagine more people would put that in their houses if a) they knew about it; and b) they had the means to afford it.

Looks like another shovel ready stimulus project to me. Equip houses with geothermal heat pumps where ever feasible and help people finance it with some state and/or federal subsidies. Please look at the Energy Savers web site of the U.S. Department of Energy.

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