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According to an article IBM has designed a dish to concentrate sunlight onto Photovoltaic cells keeping them cool using water. Ahhh, maybe people have a really short memory but this is nothing new. Moving onward….

My preference is sill using a dish to focus sunlight onto a stirling engine which gives and impressive 25-35% efficiency in converting sunlight to heat and electricity with far less effort. Stirling engine also last a fairly long time with little maintenance. What IBM is proposing is good for areas with water or that could use the dish to desalinate water but not in a desert, but stirling engines with concentrating mirrors are perfect.

I’ve now been unemployed coming up to 2 1/2 years and I am finding new freedom in the lack of work. I just have to get use to being so poor.

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I have been working for the last month very hard to find gainful employment and I have come to the conclusion that there is none. It no longer exists and we are not out of this continued recession, depression. In my book, Recession Survival Guide self-published in 2009 I said it wouldn’t be over before 2015. Now it looks like it will never be over. Anyone who thinks they are being told the truth by the news owned by the companies that manufacture the news is dumber than shit and ought to be composted. At least that would create something of value. The U.S. has an enormously large number of dumb people as compared to other industrialized countries. Reagan even lowered the I.Q. scale by ten points to raise the national I.Q. level.

The future on the current path looks very bleak. I have to back up for just a moment before going forward.

Robert Hayes who likes to comment on everything I post followed me from Facebook where all he did was post negative shit and now he is here doing the same. Here is my response to one of his comments he posted – a quote from Wikipedia:  “Peak oil is the point in time when the maximum rate of petroleum extraction is reached, after which the rate of production is expected to enter terminal decline. Every oil well and field exhibits similar characteristics of being discovered, the logistics to extract the oil being put in place, a peak or plateau of production, followed by a decline.  US domestic oil production peaked in 1970. Global production of oil fell from a high point in 2005 at 74 mb/d, but has since rebounded, and 2011 figures show slightly higher levels of production than in 2005, as the definition of “oil” was changed in 2007 to include synthetic liquids.”   [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peak_oil]

So yes, the world oil production has gone up only because of fuzzy questionable bookkeeping not because there was anymore oil found all of a sudden which had peaked in the 1960s. We have only found less and less oil fields and wildcatters are coming up with more dry wells each year. Robert Hayes only finds enough information to support his point of view and doesn’t spend hours reading or cross references to see what he is saying is factual or supportive.

I say all this to show how so many people keep saying that we have lots of oil left for(ever), a long, long time. Discovery peaked in the 1960s and the entire planet has been surveyed so the question is where, or how, are people finding “new” oil. It is scientifically impossible.

So much for that.

The closer we get to the end of cheap fossil fuels the fewer choices we have or time left to act. Former president Clinton, Matthew Simmons an energy investment banker and adviser to George W Bush, and Dick Cheney all have said in one form or anther that we are running out of oil. Whether directly or indirectly stated we are on the downside of the Peak Oil curve and headed downward at an alarming speed. As Cheney said, “That means by 2010 we will need on the order of an additional fifty million barrels a day.” That means replacing that which we have lost due to decline. There has been plenty more people in the last decade that have come forward to say the same thing from former geologists, oil explorers, and people who worked with oil production information (like the U.S. Energy Dept.).

No one agreed when Peak Oil will or has happened. That doesn’t matter so much as it will, or has and we are doing absolutely nothing to prepare for no more oil! Technology will not save us like some white knight or some savior, they don’t exist. Technology is utterly dependent on cheap energy to work or for its production. Without oil absolutely everything collapses. Do a mind exercise and research to find something that isn’t dependent on oil in some way or another. (I’ll give you a hint: You find a single thing that isn’t dependent on oil.)

I am afraid this country is being pushed into a Mad Max scenario where people will fight over whatever scraps they can find.  In the book, Raising a Nation of Whimps by Hara Marano, editor-at-large and the former editor-in-chief of Psychology Today, has been watching a disturbing trend: kids are growing up to be wimps. [from Amazon]

People in the U.S. have little or no backbone or character worth acknowledging.  That said I have come across some very remarkable people but when it comes push to shove many of them would whimp out.  Too many who would give in to anyone doing violence.

What does the future hold for us. Nothing good. There will be those who will know how to grow food, process fiber and produce enough energy for their needs. They just lack the ability to defend themselves against the people who would rather steal what they need than produce it on their own. My wish that everyone learn to defend themselves, be able to produce what they need, create a strong reliable resilient community in order to survive the decline in cheap and once abundant fossil fuels. It will be through these communities that people will be able to not decline to far into a dark age and find solutions for a real sustainable  future based on the principles Nature has set forth where there is no waste, everything has worth.

My mantra has become: Learn to grow food & fiber. Learn to become energy independent (that doesn’t mean using only trees for fuel or you will see a localized Haiti effect).

 

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The Sun has been a source of inspiration and awe for a very, very long time. It can not be known how long ago people noticed that the Sun can warm the body or where a person lived but it can be safely said that it was well before any written language.

Solar Heating has been around for almost as long as we have build dwellings to live in. Here in Colorado we have Mesa Verde cliff dwellings that used the sun to keep warm in the Winter and cool in the Summer. These dwelling made use of Passive Solar gain rather than actively harnessing the Sun’s energy by building their homes in a cliff niche.

Around 400 BCE the Greeks made use of  Passive Solar Energy by constructing their buildings to take advantage of the free heat the Sun provided and when glass was invented used windows that kept the heat gain indoors for a longer period.  A quick timeline of the use of Solar Energy:

  • 3rd Century BCE Greeks and Romans used mirrors to concentrate the Sun’s energy to light torches and fires.
  • 2nd Century BCE Greeks used mirrors to set fire to enemy ships.
  • 20 CE a Chinese document talks about using mirrors to light ceremonial fires.
  • In the first 4 centuries of the Common Era Romans used large south facing windows to help keep bathhouses warm.
  • 6th Century CE the Justinian Code gave everyone right to the Sun and equal access – no one could block another’s access to the sun
  • 1200 CE cliff dwelling like those in Colorado made use of south facing dwelling to harness the Sun passively.
  • Horace de Saussure in 1767 created the first solar box collector used by Sir John Herschel in South Africa to cook his meals.
  • 1839 Edmond Becquerel after immersing two dissimilar metals in an electrolyte found that when exposed to the Sun produced more electricity thereby discovering the photovoltaic effect.
  • …and the number of discoveries only accumulate too numerous to list here.

Although not complete it gives someone the insight that harnessing the Sun’s energy (namely heat) has been something we has been done for a very long time.

Using the sun to cool on the other hand is a newer idea.  The idea first started with Michael Faraday (1791 to 1867)  who was the first to suggest and use a liquid that when allowed to vaporize cooled. The liquid he chose, and which later became used wide spread in early refrigerators, was ammonia. After compressing ammonia it was allowed to vaporize which gave the cooling effect he was looking for, and was the start of cooling and refrigeration.

In a solar collector system the Sun’s heat is used to bring a liquid to a boil and as it vaporizes it giving the same cooling effect without a compressor. Currently there are two types of solar cooling devices on the market. The first makes use of the traditional compressor driven by electricity from a Photovoltaic panel to create the cooling process. The other model makes use of evaporative cooling or absorption chillers.

Another way I recently found that comes out of Germany is the use of traditional Solar Heat Absorption Panels and Photovoltaic Panels. Both provide energy to the home year round. The heat first goes into a tank to be stored until needed. Once the tank is fully charged the heat energy is not ignored or wasted but instead a heat pump is used to move the extra heat into the ground beneath the home to store it. It is a kind of heat battery except slightly more efficiently. To heat the home the Sun’s energy can be used directly, or the heat in the tank and finally the heat stored in the ground. To cool the home a second heat pump is used to draw heat from the house which is then moved directly beneath the home for storage.  This set up, and this is from what I have gathered and has not been fully tested for any length of time as far as I know, is far more efficient than running air conditioners or chillers and direct heating in the winter. This method is called a Geosolar system.

Because the ground is used as both a source of heat and to store excess heat the whole system becomes more efficient.  The big issue with possible freezing of the ground which can happen as more heat is drawn out than is available is eliminated by putting heat back into the ground in warmer months.  Because both the heat source and electricity come from a renewable source of energy the efficiency of this system is in the neighborhood of 500%. That means you are getting more out than is being put in as with a traditional ground based heat pump which ranges from 200 to 300% efficiency. Not bad when a system like this is combined with a PassivHaus design that already has greatly reduced heating and cooling needs to begin with. With a PassivHaus such a system would actually become a secondary backup source of heating and cooling adding to its overall efficiency.

With a home and a system that are both with such high efficiency will allow it to last much longer than a traditionally designed system used only  for supplemental heating or cooling needs. Combining technologies is the answer because each efficiency is piggy backed on adding to the overall efficiency of a system.

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geothermal_heat_pump
http://www.heliossouth.com/documents/Brief%20History%20of%20Solar%20Cooling.pdf
http://www1.eere.energy.gov/solar/pdfs/solar_timeline.pdf

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