Originally Posted by Dean Roddey
It would require a massive boatload of money, all of which would be at fairly high risk, which is probably the issue more than anything else. As with fusion energy research, it's probably something beyond the means of single companies, which immediately gets it into a whole other world of complications. And you are sort of playing a number of things overly lightly. Virtual no big storms isn't the same as no big storms. What damage to such a system would a big storm create? What sorts of interruptions would it create? Who is going to give companies a right to take over large sections of the ocean for their own use, and take the prime locations? Are they going to be forced to share the results with other countries?
You're not considering just how vast and empty the Pacific Ocean is. There is plenty of room to set up hundreds of these hydrogen production stations and never even see the next one on the horizon. Take a trip through the Gulf and see how many giant oil derricks are out there, each one a BP-potential disaster waiting to happen.
Making the solar farms storm-proof is, again, just an engineering problem. Maybe the panel arrays roll up if one of the extremely rare big storms is approaching - who knows? The point is that's not even remotely an obstacle. And nobody is "taking over" anything. The panels float on the surface of empty and unoccupied ocean. A large OTEC generator (O
onverter) sits nearby. The gas produced is pumped into giant airships which transport it back to the mainland. It's all doable with technology that's on the shelf today
. We don't have to wait for some theoretical breakthrough (which, if it ever happens, will probably require the mining of some kind of exotic element to act as a catalyst with all the environmental costs that entails).
Think how many high-paying design, engineering, and construction jobs would be created by the opening up of a new industry, with technology on the shelf right now, and built on the corroding carcass of an obsolete energy industry that is clearly unsustainable and whose environmental costs multiply as the years go on. Clean energy is the
growth industry of the 21st century. That is a fact that cannot be overstated. The country that wins this game wins the future. And the whole world will follow. Cheap, clean energy is the key to eliminating poverty and hunger and making a brighter future for a turbulent world. Only hydrogen has that potential right now.
Originally Posted by DeanRoddey
There's still research going on with hot fusion (ITER), and it's the only real solution, I would think. At some point it's going to be cracked, though it's obviously proven far more difficult than original anticipated. And that's something anyone investing in a hydrogen economy would have to consider. You spend billions upon billions of dollars and 20 years to convert, and five years later someone finally cracks the fusion issue and you now have a vastly more expensive source that is as obsolete as oil would be. Obviously hydrogen could still be important for vehicles, but with fusion energy you don't need huge flotillas of solar cells to generate it.
You think creating an entirely new technology - one which isn't even remotely on the horizon - and building hundreds of thermonuclear plants all over the country (which would still produce some amount of nuclear waste, smaller than fission but still just as dangerous) would be cheaper than producing hydrogen from ocean water? Seriously?
Originally Posted by RobertR
I agree with these points. The problem with hydrogen is that it's an energy carrier, not an energy source.
So is gasoline, kerosene, propane, natural gas, and every other carbon based energy source. Yes, it would require modifying existing infrastructure requiring gigantic private and public investment. But to say that cold fusion - something that's not even on the radar screen - would not
is disingenuous. I submit that building dozens of fusion plants would be many orders of magnitude
more expensive than modifying the existing production, refining, and delivery system to accommodate hydrogen.
The question should be: what can we do to start the progression from dirty and increasingly scarce and expensive carbon-based fuels to clean, unlimited energy sources? That effort should
have begun in earnest 40 years ago - about the time the costs of global warming began to be understood. Hydrogen should
be leading that charge. It's relatively easy and cheap compared to any of the alternatives, and produces no polluting by-products or greenhouse gases whatsoever.
Pick up a copy of Marshall Savage's illuminating treatise on this subject (and many others): "The Millennial Project". It's a great book written by a brilliant futurist. If I were King, it would be required reading in every high school science class in the country.Edited by archiguy - 7/1/13 at 6:27am