Waste Based Society: A Renewable Future

Off the keyboard of A. G. Gelbert

Published on the Doomstead Diner on July 3, 2013


Discuss this article at the Waste Based Economy Table inside the Diner


I actually hope my views on this are off.  I want to find some positive good news to rally on.  I’m hoping you have a more nuanced positive spin on this for me to examine.

Well sir, as a matter of fact, I am a bit more hopeful, but not on the horrendous weather coming our way that will destroy crops and infrastructure, bake the shit out of part of the planet, flood the shit out of the other part and kill a large part of aquatic life as well. That weather is pretty much baked in.  :emthdown:

However, I have a different, and very positive, view of the energy capturing and using devices in our civilization.

First, I agree that EROEI is declining in FOSSIL FUELS and NUCLEAR POWER. The reason is that the EROEI numbers were tricked up in the beginning to subtracting including environmental and infrastructure AND ADDING government subsidy FREEBIES on the taxpayer dime.

If you think the EROEI numbers Professor Hall from the SUNY energy study have jack shit to do with real world energy use and the laws of thermodynamics, I have a time share in a black hole at the center of the Milky Way to sell you. :icon_mrgreen: I won’t go into details here but, as an engineer, you understand what enthalpy is. It is a convenient method of BOILING WATER (NOT IN THE COMBUSTION CHAMBER OF AN ICE) to measure the energy density of a fuel. THIS IS INFANTILE. But it is the industry standard BULLSHIT that enables people from Exxon to say that gasoline has a higher EROEI than ethanol.


The energy density per mole in a high octane gasoline is assumed to be lower due to the higher energy of activation. This is a half truth. This half truth is used by the EROI experts to claim ethanol, which has a high octane rating, has a lower EROI than gasoline. Simply changing the compression ratio in an engine to a high compression makes ethanol equivalent in MJ/L to gasoline. But, of course, the Hall study arbitrarily stopped at the octane rating “energy of activation” differences between gasoline and ethanol with zero discussion of high compression engines. That was very convenient for gasoline EROI and very inconvenient for ethanol EROI.


Roamer, it’s a LIE. But let’s get past ICE fuels for a second. WHY? Because they are only about 20% efficient. Yes, I know the big steam engines in power plants can get up to 60% through capture of second stage energy but the POINT is that the ICE is a ridiculously inefficient way to get mechanical energy. It’s STUPID. It ALWAYS WAS STUPID.

And NOW that the poisoned chickens are coming home to roost in the form of atmospheric heat, higher manufacturing and maintenance costs for high temperature alloys AND 400 ppm CO2, OF COURSE the gamed EROEI numbers for fossil fuels AND nuclear energy are starting to look like the bullshit they always were.

ENERGY means absolutely nothing until it makes some work happen, right? I am telling you right here and now that you were taught to deny the enormous inefficiencies downstream from combustion because it suites the fossil fuel pigs for engineers to do so. Your world view as an engineer includes the FALSE belief that the ICE is an efficient way to convert the energy in a fossil fuel to mechanical energy. It isn’t. It never was.

Did you know that in 1940, ONE THIRD of all the electricity in the USA came from about 1,500 hydroelectric power plants? Did you know you can make a hydroelectric power plant WITHOUT damming up a bunch of water? Oh, I’m sure you have looked at the ‘horrendously weak” energy potential in stored water and what a “poor” substitute for “high energy density” CRAP like fossil fuels that gravity power is. Look again. Look here.


The technology is there. It involves a giant piston head (no connecting rod or link to a crank shaft) inside a cylindrical shaft that goes deep into the ground. The piston requires some type of giant O-rings so it can take about 10 bar pressures. Excess power from wind and or PV during the day causes water to be pumped UNDER the piston (which is EXTREMELY HEAVY).  When not enough wind or sun can service the grid, valves open for instant power as the piston descends. The quickness of this response FAR EXCEEDS the quickest thing available now which is natural gas fired power plants.

What’s the efficiency? It’s INCREDIBLY HIGH and has little or no thermal waste ANYWHERE in the energy distribution chain. If all vehicles are EVs (including ships), a  MASSIVE amount of heat energy never hits the atmosphere. See the video above for details.  :emthup: :icon_sunny:

Can civilization make a million of these gizmos all over the earth? Sure. This is OLD technology! We know all about hydraulic forces. Will it be done? Maybe not. But not because of thermodynamic law limitations and the energy required to run the planet.

Did you know there is a SUCCESSFUL CSP power plant that is THIRTY YEARS OLD!!?

Solar Energy Generating Systems solar power plants III-VII at Mojave Desert, California.
Image & Caption Credit: Alan Radecki Akradecki


The longest running concentrated solar power plant in the US is about to reach its 30th birthday , and the end of its power purchase agreement – but its owners are not about to pack it up and take it home. They are now looking at the next 30 years, and storage is likely to form a major part of the equation.

CSP (also known as solar thermal) is often branded an emerging technology,  :evil4: but the first plants have been around for decades.  :o The 14MW SEGS I and 30MW SEGS II plants near Daggett in the Mojave Desert in California were built in 1985. (SEGS stands for Solar Energy Generating System).

Read more at http://cleantechnica.com/2013/07/02/30-year-old-concentrating-solar-power-plant-looking-to-upgrade-add-storage/#Fh7fvrvi1MpPGJE4.99

CSP is MUCH MORE EFFICIENT than ICE power plants. CSP has a very high EROEI DUE TO THE FACT THAT IT USES zero fossil fuels.

Tell me, do you think our government and scientists DIDN’T KNOW THIS IN 1985!!? Just like using gravity in more efficient ways, CSP uses the sun more efficiently. Today, with sophisticated Fresnel lens CSP and super heated salts, they run for 24/7 (i.e. the new ones in Spain among others). Granted, these DO put out a lot of waste heat but MUCH LESS than an ICE power plant.

A 100% Renewable Energy civilization was DOABLE IN THE 1970S! It hasn’t been done because the fossil fuel fucks didn’t want it to happen. They are still at it doing THIS:


Phase 1 – Belittle & Deny the Renewable Energy Option

Phase 2 – Denounce & Mobilize Against the Renewable Energy Option

Phase 3 – Spread Doubt & Misrepresent the Challenges in the Disguise of General Support

(Note: reaching Phase 3 doesn’t mean that Phase 1 & 2 will disappear.)
Full Enlightening Article covering modern day sophisticated mendacious propaganda techniques geared to simultaneously defend nuclear power and attack renewable energy HERE:[/i

Roamer, we have a political problem caused by the oil oligarchy. We do not have an energy problem, a technology problem or the inability to transition to 100% or better (for bioremediation) Renewable energy.

There are other technologies that can harvest MASSIVE  amounts of energy 24/7 from underwater turbines just a few miles from the majority of the largest cities on the planet along ocean coasts. There goes the “unacceptable transmission losses from long distances” argument against renewables from the fossil fuel lackeys for the big cities.

And as to EROEI, even with the gamed formula, PV is INCREASING it’s EROEI as the efficiency has gone from 10-15% early on to 33-44% now. Wind turbine EROEI is also going UP because they now are replacing (on a ONE giant new turbine for every THREE old ones upgrade) old wind turbines for new, taller ones. One turbine generating the power of three with ONLY the maintenance costs of a single turbine UPS the EROEI. :emthup:

ALL the renewable energy technologies (including hydro with the piston!) are increasing their EROEI with innovation. That’s just not possible for fossil fuels.

And increasingly efficient electric motors are multiplying the efficiency of captured renewable energy.

The Solar Revolution is being enhanced by a revolution in Electric Motor Efficiency

Electric motors, already over 70% efficient, are now being made with cast copper rotors (instead of Aluminum) using a new process. Billions of electric motors in thousands of applications from EVs to household appliances to manufacturing will now benefit from a radical INCREASE in efficiency accompanied by a DECREASE in thermal waste. This means, for a given amount of energy output, the motors will last more than twice as long and weigh less as well as previous electric motors. This amounts to massive energy savings worldwide and another step in eliminating the internal combustion engine (ICE) pollution and heat scourge from civilization.

All the above said, I agree that the corrupt authorities are doing an awful lot to keep renewable energy in the starting gate. It won’t work this time.


Because the horrendous weather will persuade them renewable energy AND a return to 350 MAXIMUM ppm of CO2 is NOT OPTIONAL. :icon_mrgreen:

Listen to me. Solar City is going to eat a lot of utilities alive with their business model. If TSHTF scenario from nuclear war or some other insanity doesn’t happen, working on a corporation like Solar City, Tesla or any CSP power plant will keep you in the cutting edge of new technology as well as keep you fed, housed and clothed.

Think about it. Mechanical Engineers are not a dime a dozen. You have skills. Market them in renewables. California, Arizona or Texas seem like the hottest growth areas now.

If we have a future, renewable energy will play a prominent role in it. Think about it. ;)

Knarf plays the Doomer Blues


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