I can’t believe it.
I must’ve driven by this 50 times and I just never noticed it.
After all, if you follow the mantra, “stay focused” you’re not going to spend any time gawking around at things that are not on the path you think you’re heading down. I remember several times where I’ve gotten lost and ended up discovering just the coolest places ever.
Well, today we’ve been so focused on generating more electricity that we’ve failed to notice that there is really no correlation between how much electricity nature can provide, and how much we can use. And I remember when I first noticed it, because, I was standing on our balcony with 10-year-old daughter, we were watching one of our favorite things which was a huge lightning storm, I realized that the same thing that causes lightning, is what powers wind turbines and that by capturing the power and wind it was almost like we had captured lightning. Of course, the huge difference is because with Wind Turbines we are able to control where and how much “lightning” we’re going to capture but it still doesn’t tell us when.
Since I had been working with an electrical industry collaboration group, regarding renewable electricity integration, I could picture the wind blades turning like a clock and I could on the envisioned clock when the wind electricity stopped being usable, and when on the clock, we would start using enough electricity again to make use of the wind electricity. Another epiphany I had while standing there is that electricity is energy. I know that sounds strange because for my whole life I thought that “energy” was something we used to make electricity. I had never imagined, that this wind and PV electricity just skips all the combustion, heat, hydroelectric turbines, and nuclear or thermoelectric generation and just IS.
The thought that electricity could be the beginning of an energy flow chart just hurts my brain. It still does seem like the most backward concept I have ever tried to imagine. Just think about it. Using electricity to make heat, instead of using heat to make electricity? That just sounds so backward. Well, it’s 10 years later, it still sounds backwards but it is the comprehension we need to get our heads around F we are going to create a combustion-free world.
10 years ago, it was still unimaginable that we would ever find ourselves with extra electricity. But here we are. The uptake of wind generation, and solar PV generation, it is happening all over, without any attempts to correlate the use of that electricity with how we live in use electricity. Yes, I deliberately skipped concentrating solar thermal because even though that is not combustion, it’s still thermoelectric generation and still wastes at least the third of the potential of the energy pushed into the steam turbine generator.
Nope, the stuff coming out of wind generators and solar PV is just unadulterated electricity that is only slightly tamer then lightning but is still energy that we can direct to do work where work is needed.
I am going to take a minute and point out a characteristic that I hope you will notice about my writing. That is that I don’t talk about eliminating fossil fuels much because what I feel a real objective has to be is eliminating combustion. Burning forests, grain, and other organic materials is really no different than burning uncooked coal. Now coal is organic material that has been cooked so long it’s become a mineral. But hydrocarbons, on the other hand, are still organic. I seriously believe that carbon from organic matter needs to be tilted back into the soil to become food for new plant life rather than burned and turned into vapour full of both carbon monoxide carbon carb been dioxide and particulates.
Working toward a combustion free planet.
©William Ross Williams 2018.