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Harry Valentine holds a degree in engineering and has a backround in free-market economics. He has undertaken extensive research into the field of transportation energy over a period of 20-years and has published numerous technical articles on the subject. His economics commentaries have included several articles on issues that pertain to electric power generation. He lives in Canada and can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org .
The St Lawrence River has for decades served the needs of the energy and transportation sectors. Ships have carried towers and turbine blades for the wind energy sector, while a new hydroelectric installation is being completed on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. The waterway is home to several hydroelectric power installations and it serves as the heat sink for several coal-fired and nuclear-thermal power stations as well as 3-ethanol plants.
While there is much interest in developing various forms of energy storage at the present day, the popular contemporary technologies involve high capital cost. Many researchers have actively been seeking alternative mobile and stationary technologies that involve lower capital costs. Part of this research has revolved around increasing the energy storage capacity of classical thermal energy storage technologies.
A large segment of the population that lives in and around large metropolitan areas such as New York City depends on easy access fast and reliable mass transit services. As is the case with other cities, a large percentage of the transit network uses electric power
A variety of perspectives on the failure of Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant as a result of a tidal wave, have been published over that past several months. Japan does generate nuclear electric power near the coast of the Sea of Japan where tidal waves are less likely to occur, indicating that the location of the Fukushima power station contributed to its failure.
The ongoing global fiscal situation may require national governments in Greece, Italy, Ireland, Iceland, Spain, Portugal and even Poland to reduce national expenditures. Some of these governments may face the prospect of wary investors declining to buy their government bonds.
Canadian engineer Louis Michaud of Vortex Engine has undertaken much research into producing artificial tornadoes that may drive wind turbines. Michaud based his research on the occurrence of natural tornadoes, cyclones and the counterpart, waterspouts that occur over water.
There was a time prior to the year 1900 when electric power generation was privately own and essentially free from political regulation. The development of the electric light bulb and the electrically powered streetcar encouraged the development of large-scale electric power generation.
The economies of many nations depend on marine traffic along such navigable rivers as the Mississippi in the USA, the Danube in Europe, the Yangtze of China, the Panama Canal and the St Lawrence River that serves both the USA and Canada.
Germany's influential environmental movement has responded to the fallout of Japan's recent nuclear problems. They successfully lobbied their federal government and Germany's Chancellor has announced the phase-out of nuclear power generating in that country. Germany will seek to use domestic and imported wind, hydroelectric, solar and other forms of renewable power.
The combination of scientific/technological advances and evolving changes in the power industry provide opportunity to develop large-scale thermal energy storage technology. Engineers used small-scale thermal energy storage during the latter 19th century to provide propulsion for steam-powered submarines that stored saturated water at some 100-psia and 328°F (164°C) in on-board accumulators.
As the market price of liquid fuels for the transportation sector increases, so does interest in alternative forms of propulsive energy. While various governments may provide research funding to such ends, there are numerous private groups that also seek to develop alternative and potentially viable forms of propulsive energy. Higher world oil prices have allowed the Government of Brazil to end subsidies to the sugar-cane fuel ethanol industry.
Canada has for decades, exported hydroelectric power from Quebec and from Labrador into markets in the northeastern USA. California has periodically imported hydroelectric power from British Columbia. A power transmission company based in Vancouver has proposed to install a submarine power cable along America's Pacific coast to carry electric power from British Columbia to California.
Several years ago the European group called Desertec developed a strategy to generate renewable energy resources across the Middle East and North Africa (the MENA) and export the electric power into Europe.
Beginning during the 1960's, the US Northeast began taking delivery of low-cost hydroelectric power from Quebec and Labrador. A few years ago California imported hydroelectric power from British Columbia during a summertime power shortage. Changing weather patterns have the potential to reduce rainfall across some regions across
A lack of precipitation during late 2009 and 2010 resulted in lower than usual water levels in the Great Lakes and along the St Lawrence River, where new islands appeared. Ships had to sail at reduced load due to reduced navigation depth.
For several years, there have been ongoing developments on improving the output, efficiency and relative cost of solar thermal and various solar photovoltaic technologies. At the present time, photovoltaic and concentrated photovoltaic technologies appear to be gaining the upper hand as the technology achieves higher conversion efficiencies combined with reduced capital costs.
Internet search engine Google provided an estimated $10 million to a wind energy research group to develop a technology that could convert wind energy to massive amounts of electrical energy at competitive costs. Several entrepreneurs, organizations and groups are working toward such an objective and all agree that there is merit in accessing the more powerful winds that blow at higher elevations.
In many countries, the market demand for electrical energy is cyclical on a daily as well as on a seasonal basis. Numerous technologies already exist that can divert large amounts of overnight off-peak electrical power into short-term storage systems.
Successive Canadian federal politicians have voiced their sentiments in support of an east-west power transmission line across Canada. Historically, there have been more north-south power lines across the US-Canada border than power lines across Canadian provincial borders.
Early forms of power generation involved waterwheels and windmills that transferred power through mechanical systems to achieve such tasks as grinding and milling grain or pumping water. During the early decades of the industrial revolution, power was transferred from waterwheels, hydraulic turbines and steam engines via mechanical means to a variety of tasks.
While the engineers of the Mayan Empire are credited with having developed suspension bridges and buildings that could survive earthquakes, they are also credited with having initiated several innovative feats of hydraulic engineering that date back well over 1000-years. The rock dams they built at high elevation along the tributaries that were the headwaters of major rivers reduced flooding at the lower elevations. They also found a means by which to make water to appear to flow uphill.
The traditional form of pumped hydraulic storage involved pumping water to higher elevation during off-peak hours. Another form of pumped storage that has been subject to extensive research and includes proposals for future development involves moving seawater between the ocean and land depressions, such as the Qattara Depression in Egypt and the Dead Sea. Whereas evaporation from a storage reservoir reduces storage efficiency of elevated reservoirs, evaporation actually raises the storage efficiency of reservoirs located in land depressions.
Energy storage technologies that involve the use of compressed air, pumping water to higher elevation and heating water to high pressure in a sealed container were developed prior to 1900. Since that time, air pressure and pumped hydraulic storage technologies have continually evolved and developed to capacities of up to several gigawatt hours per installation.
For several decades, submarine power cables have carried electric power across short distances under bodies of water within the same nation. Some examples include the cable from mainland Italy to the offshore Mediterranean islands of Corsica and Sardinia.
An interesting phenomenon has been noted at several coastal wind farms in the western UK that are located along the Irish Sea. On clear days over the eastern Irish Sea, the wind turbines generate mist and fog on land. The swirling movement of the turbine blades apparently churns the cooler air above the warmer moist air that passes across the turbine blades. It is as is some British wind farms are creating mini climatic zones in the general vicinity of the turbines.
The official worldwide history of electrically powered public transportation began in the year 1890 when electric trams and electric streetcar replaced horse drawn trams and streetcars. Electrically powered subway trains subsequently replaced steam hauled subway trains in London, UK. The construction and introduction of New York City's electrically powered subway trains soon followed.
The waterway system between Lake Superior and the Gulf of St Lawrence provides power generation and the capacity to store massive amounts of energy through pumped hydraulic storage. The well being of a population of several million people who live on both sides of the US-Canada border depend that hydroelectric power generation. At present, the pumped hydraulic storage installation at Ludington, Michigan is the largest of its kind along the waterway.
Wind power generation is expanding worldwide with the tower-mounted 3-bladed design being the most popular wind power conversion technology. However, the variation of designs and range of output level is expanding as researchers and developers continually seek innovative ways to reduce the cost per kilowatt.
Worldwide, there is still an increasing demand for electric power despite the ongoing economic recession that caused a few regions such as Ontario to go from a projected power shortfall to excess generating capacity. A range of traditional and contemporary generating technologies is being introduced to service worldwide.
The deregulation of several sectors of the national economy became the vogue during the Reagan administration in Washington and the Thatcher administration in the UK. Margaret Thatcher had read The Road to Serfdom by F.A. Hayek (nobelaureate in 1976) and was inspired to privatize some of Britain's state-owned enterprises as the socialist economies of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union collapsed. Friederich Hayek had been a student of Ludwig von Mises whose treatise entitled Socialism detailed the downfalls of state ownership and state management of a national economy and how such an economy would ultimately fail.
There is a growing need to develop more electrical generation capacity across North America. The market demand for electric power fluctuates almost cyclically throughout the day and creates an opportunity to develop mega-scale energy storage capacity.
Nuclear power generation technology has undergone an evolution from fuel rods and heavy water to newer designs of reactors that can be cooled by light water and more recently by gas. There is much research underway in China and the USA involving gas-cooled, high-temperature reactors (HTR) based on the continually evolving pebble bed modular reactor (PBMR) technology.
The history of power conversion can be traced back some 4000-years ago with small-site installations involving water wheels doing some form of mechanical work. Crude forms of windmills appeared during a later period.
Over the past several years there has been much ongoing reporting on and discussion about electric power in Ontario. Most of that reporting and discussions have revolved around such issues as the $32-billion debt the utility once incurred and the projected shortfall in future generation capacity. There is much political support for shutting down the coal fired power plants and much opposition to expanding nuclear power generation. Over the next few years Ontario will likely exhaust the capacity to develop new mega-hydroelectric power installations.
Ongoing volcanic activity in many parts of the world suggests a potential abundance of geothermal energy. There are locations where geothermal energy produces steam that directly and indirectly drives turbines and electrical generation equipment.
A news story broke in early September that a wind farm in Upstate New York had to suspend operations due to a shortage of transmission capacity going into New York City. An announcement followed in regard to plans to build additional transmission capacity. Despite claims that the North American grid is rugged and robust, many sections of that grid are old and need to be replaced. That upgrading coincides with a steadily increasing demand for electricity.
The steadily increasing demand for electrical energy would likely result in greater use of energy storage technology in the future. Advanced developments in several renewable technologies promise lower cost per kilowatt.
The Northeastern United States receives a large percentage of its electrical power from Canadian hydroelectric power dams. California imported electric power from the hydroelectric power dams of British Columbia during a power shortage.
The demand for electric power is increasing worldwide as economies develop and economies begin to prosper. In unregulated markets the price of electricity increases along with rising demand. That higher cost encourages entrepreneurs to develop methods of generating electric power from technologies that would otherwise be considered uncompetitive.
Changing weather patterns have resulted in flooding in some parts of the world and drought in parts that include regions in the United States and Canada. Several plans have been devised over many years to transport water from regions of excess supply to regions that need water
To say that there are concerns about nuclear power in the Middle East is an understatement. Iraq's plans to build a nuclear power station came to an abrupt halt in 1981 after a pre-emptive bombing strike. There are concerns that Iran's plans to build a nuclear power station could lead to another pre-emptive bombing strike.
The need to put store large amounts of energy over short-term period is likely to increase in the future. Having access to such storage could optimize the operation of several generation technologies. Technologies such as wind power, solar power conversion and the various forms of ocean power (currents, tides and waves) will often generate excess output during off-peak periods as would hydroelectric power dams during period of excess rain.
During the mid-1960's a laser beam was aimed at the moon and illuminated an area of 9-miles in diameter. One possible application of such technology was to illuminate objects in space. Before 2000, a researcher in optical physics developed a method to amplify a spectrum of solar light into laser light.
Long distance pipelines carry natural gas from the wells to the markets across North America and much of Europe. The density and flowrate of the gas is maximized by keeping it at high pressure as well as at low temperature.
Evidence abounds to suggest that the world climate is slowly warming and numerous conflicting causes have been identified. Astronomers who have observed the planet Mars by using spectroscopic methods have suggested that its climate too is showing signs of global warming.
A documentary entitled "The Perfect Storm" was recently re-broadcast over several television channels in the United States and Canada. It illustrated how a super solar storm could last for several days and emit intense electromagnetic radiation that could destroy transformers and literally incapacitate long distance power grids for long periods of time.
The development of new sources of renewable energy will benefit from the development of efficient and durable energy storage technologies. Electrical energy from ocean wave conversion, tidal power energy conversion and wind energy can occur at times when market demand for the energy is very low.
For several decades the Eastern Canadian provinces of Quebec and Labrador have been major exporters of hydroelectric power to the northeastern regions of the United States. Eastern Canada was, until recently, regarded as having a secure and long-term supply of hydroelectric power.
Fog fences have been used for decades to collect the water droplets from dew and fog after which the moisture is sent to storage systems via piping systems. These fences are typically located at higher elevations near coastal regions where moisture is carried in by winds that blow over a cold ocean current during the early morning hours.
The recent shutdown of the oil pipeline between Prudhoe Bay and Valdez in Alaska provides an opportunity to examine the practicality of using specialized bulk carriers that can operate in the Polar Regions. Much research has been undertaken and numerous reports have been written about the vast potential for energy that exists in both Northern Alaska as well as Northern Canada.
Sustained high world oil prices have enabled the viable extraction of oil from Western Canada's tarsands and the same dynamic could enable the viable production of synthetic hydrocarbons from coal. Vast reserves of coal may be found in Pennsylvania, Wyoming and Western Canada while Canada's northeastern region may have a potential abundance of an as yet undeveloped source of renewable clean energy.
Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper referred to Canada as an energy superpower at a recent conference of world leaders in Petersburg, Russia. Canada had long been America's largest foreign supplier of natural gas and electricity before world oil prices rose to over US$35 per barrel.
Commercial aviation is an essential component of the global economy. The cost of aviation fuel is directly determined by the prevailing world price of oil. It accounts for a major proportion of airplane operating costs. World oil prices are expected to remain high for several years. The prospect of sustained high aviation fuel prices could propel airline companies to seek alternative aviation fuels.
Solid coal was one of the early transportation fuels to be used in self-powered ships, in the railway industry as well as in some early steam-powered road transport vehicles. The commercial transportation industry gradually underwent the transition from solid fuel to liquid fuel. The coal industry eventually developed a combustible liquid coal fuel that had several advantages over solid fuel in certain applications.
The concept of generating electric power from flying windmills originated with Prof. Bryan Roberts from the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia. These devices were to be tethered to the earth and fly at altitudes of between 15,000-feet and 30,000-ft where winds were strong, consistent and reliable. At its inception, the concept generated little interest from investors as it flew at the same altitude as commercial aircraft.
Concerns about the long-term supply of oil have prompted both governments and industries to explore development of renewable and alternative fuels. During the oil crisis of the early 1970's, America and the world became acutely aware that the world supply of fossil oil could be finite.
The West Coast of Latin America, Central America and North America is both an earthquake as well as a volcanic zone. Despite the presence of these natural hazards, potential exists whereby electric power may be generated from ocean tides at several locations in this region.
The dawn of the steam age began when wood was burnt to boil water. Several railway companies continued to burn wood to generate steam in locomotives well into the 20th century. Biofuel such as wood and dried cattle effluent have continually been used in many countries to heat stoves and to heat homes during winter.
An announcement was made during late February in Bermuda advising that construction was to begin on an undersea windmill installation that will provide up to 10% of Bermuda's electricity. This project will be the first commercial application of a technology that can generate electrical power ocean currents. It is a concept that has been debated, researched and debated over several years.
The world price of oil has risen steadily over the past several to their present levels of over US$50 per barrel where they are expected to remain in the foreseeable future. Political tensions in several nations that produce oil have restricted the supply of and contributed to higher oil prices.
As America's demand for clean energy increases, various environmental groups have opposed a variety of energy related initiatives. A California-based group opposes LNG development off the California coast.
Energy from the ocean occurs as wind-driven waves, as wind-driven ocean currents and as lunar activated ocean tidal changes. There are a range of methods whereby the various forms of energy may be extracted from the ocean.
The prospect of climatic change will reduce the availability of fresh water in many regions and impose constraints on human populations. It will also require a change in how large amounts of electricity is generated in power stations using fuel such as pebble-bed modular nuclear material, refuse (garbage), geothermal heat, coal, low rank coal-water fuel or biomass.
In recent months, several commentators who have published on EnergyPulse have expressed concern over the future supply and future prices of oil and of natural gas. The increasing demand for oil from growing economies in India and China along with supply interruptions from the Middle East would likely keep world oil prices at over US$50 per barrel for several more years.
During the early 1990's, a theory circulated in California that a 2% reduction in electricity power consumption would save the cost of a $-multi-billion, 700-megawatt power station. Since that point in time, new more energy-efficient electric products have entered the market.
North America's natural gas industry is a dominant player that provides clean energy to operate power stations, heat homes and buildings, as well as fuel a range of transportation vehicles. Its supply and distribution network covers most of the densely populated regions of Canada and the USA.
New generation submersible technology can generate electricity from moving water in rivers or at ocean inlets. An extreme version of such technology could be applied to a giant ocean inlet located in Northern Canada.