Thursday, June 19, 2008


The barrel of dark sticky goo on which we build our economy is around $150 now, and our economy is falling like a controlled demolition. Of course, there are some exceptions, as those who are greedily charging this amount of money are laughing all the way to the bank. And those working with them, including a number of politicians and journalists who delay us in our efforts to find cheaper energy.

They claim they have no clue about anything else, or they pay lip service to wind farms which never get built, as was the case when a giant oil company, Shell, pulled out of a windfarm deal in the UK.

But the clueless need not be our guiding light. Anyone with a brain can see that there are lots of cheaper, and better, sources of energy. Hemp ethanol is one of them, but I suspect that there are even cheaper, and I would go so far as to say better, sources of energy. One is that ball in the sky, call it a pie if you want to pour scorn on an obvious solution and keep people paying a blood price for oil. That is one of the devil's tactics, pour scorn on the facts.

For those not inclined to sit in the seat of the scornful, there is a blessing to be laid hold of. It comes from opening ones eyes and inclining ones ear to simple science, such as has been put in the public domain a number of times. Ashley Seager recently wrote about solar power in the Guardian (How Mirrors light up the world, 27 November 2006, Financial, p. 27). Seager quotes German scientists Drs Gerhard Knies and Franz Trieb, who calculate that covering just 0.5% of the world's deserts with a technology called concentrated solar power (CSP) would provide the world's electricity needs.

CSP is not new, it has been around for a couple of decades. One form of it a tower at which light is reflected from mirrors on the ground. This heats water and turns turbines. Two byproducts can be desalinated water and irrigation. The energy form this is expected to cost a third of what we are paying from oil based energy, and if implemented widely, then less than a seventh - the equivalent of $20 a barrel. Not hard to see that this is a good deal, and the materials needed - glass, concreted, water and electricty pylons, are not expensive or dangerous. So why are we not doing it?

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