Archive for February, 2011

Flex Your Power

It’s no wonder the CONG (coal oil nuclear and [natural] gas) conglomerates do a good job appealing to the masses. I don’t often watch TV, but I recently caught this:

Overall and unfortunately, I do not think the if the renewable energy (RE) industry invests this kind of time, money and effort in this regard to educate and enlighten the general audience–nor, I’m pretty sure, can it afford to.

As an industry, not only does the RE industry need to continue to demonstrate the viability, implement and install REs, but I think we need to (somehow) do a better job educating the general public and telling the story about solar, wind, hydrokinetic, hydrogen, geothermal, biomass/biofuel, energy efficiency and conservation.

A few years ago, Flex Your Power posted up these energy efficiency adverts in California–we could use more adverts like this. I especially like how these spots leave the viewer with a final, attainable, empowering solution offering, especially spots 3 & 4:

‘We’ Want It All–but evidently the USA is not too keen on MASSIVE RE implementation for energy security

Bồ Tát Thích Quảng Đức‘s self-immolation to politically protest persecution of Buddhists in Vietnam in 1963 was a brave and desperate act–widely seen as the turning point which led to the change in regime. This has carried over today in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) with the self-immolation spark of Tunisian Mohamed Bouazizi. Bouaziz was a college graduate who was harassed and humiliated by the authorities. After exhausting more diplomatic avenues, to bring awareness about the oppression he/others faced by corrupt governments (governments that, for decades, prevented organizing, communicating, agitating and demonstrating peacefully), his only recourse was to light himself on fire and no longer remain ‘invisible.’ But what does this all have to do with renewable energy? Well, a lot.

I have NEVER understood why the USA requires over 730+ military bases worldwide–military bases in 135 countries, er that’s 69% of the countries in the world. Well, we know it has been to support oppressive regimes that align with the US’s purported ‘self-interests.’ Regimes that violate basic human rights, compelling its constituency, a constituency and population typically ‘invisible’ to the US, to commit self-immolations. But, why the need for such a continued, extensive presence worldwide especially more so than ever now that renewable energy technologies are mature enough to proliferate and prosper, diminishing the USA’s dependency on foreign oil inputs. Renewable energy can offer energy security, especially from the Middle East and locations on the African continent.

I just don’t get it. Don’t we already have enough? Logic and proactive pragmatism just doesn’t work in Amerika, because we want it all. Such hubris.

I have a great deal of empathy and understanding for my Arab, Turkish and Persian brothers and sisters. I don’t fear the youth movements on-going at this juncture in history in the MENA. I embrace and HOPE this ‘infection’ will carry-over in the USA. I am all for uncertainty for it precipitates (r)evolution; it is past due. But where’s the MASSIVE rage in the USA for us to get out of these nations who am certain are quite capable of manifesting their own destinies?!

I think Zack de la Rocha’s (frontman for Rage Against The Machine) “We Want it All” with the Trent Reznor production touch on this track is STILL an auricular anthemic sign of the times–a brilliant, metro denizen MASSIVE burner blast from the past (2004) that inspired Michael Moore’s Farenheit 9/11 movie. Bồ Tát Thích Quảng Đức’s image appeared on the cover of Rage Against the Machine’s self-titled debut release in 1992.

Rage Against the Machine

Rage Against the Machine (1992)

We Want It All (Lyrics)

There they are now
The master of law

Throwing flowers on a casket of our broken dreams
Most thieves are silent
But these ones scream
These ones scream

We want it all

We want it all

I heard you talkin’ my friend
I think you lost your mind
That somebody’s listenin’
And then biding their time

Somebody’s watchin’
Cause we wouldn’t fight
For someone else’s war
Could you hold on a second
For a second someone’s at my door
Screaming hate is love
And fiction is fact
Honesty is deceit
That silence is security
And war is peace
‘Cause we want it all

We want it all

To quote Tom Morello, Rage Against The Machine and Street Sweeper Social Club guitarist, we need a panoply of “revolutionary nursery rhymes that come out of Marshall stacks.” Yeah, beeby!

The Story of Water :: AKA The Hydrologic Cycle

The Blue Planet, Earth, aptly named so, because over 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered by water. Water on Earth is locked in icecaps, suspended in fog and clouds, flows in rivers and oceans, falls as rain and seeps into the ground. The Hydrologic Cycle, also known as the Water Cycle or H2O Cycle, connects all these interrelated dynamic flows and forms of water above and below the Earth’s surface, where 97% is salt water 2% is contained in glaciers and the remaining 1% is fresh water (water in ponds, lakes, rivers, streams and underground aquifers and streams).

An interesting aside:

If the world’s potable water supply was put in a bucket, the moisture clinging to a finger dipped in the bucket would represent all the freshwater that is available for Earth’s six billion inhabitants. [Citation (which I still need to perform a ‘back-of-envelope’ calculation to verify): Hands On: Water ways]

Water evaporates from the leaves the way it does from laundry hanging on a clothes line.

When water is heated by the sun, surface molecules become energized and break free, rising as an invisible vapor into the atmosphere. This is called evaporation. Evaporation drives the water flow up the tree, from the ground, through the roots, up the tree trunk, through the branches into the leaves. This is called transpiration.

The sum of evaporation (movement of water to the air from the soil, bodies of water, plant canopies) and plant transpiration is known as evapo-transpiration.

The slowing down of water molecules, the reverse of evaporation is condensation. Condensation is the change of the physical state of particulate matter from a gaseous phase into a liquid (rain) or a solid (ice, hail, snow) phase. These particles collect and form clouds.

When condensation in the atmosphere begins to fall due to gravity, as rain, drizzle, sleet, snow or hail, this is known as precipitation. Precipitation deposits fresh water on the planet.

When excess water from rainfall, melting snow, glaciers or other sources, such that the soil on land reaches full capacity/saturation, this flow of water is known as surface runoff. Some of the precipitation can be filtered by movement through cracks or pores in the soil and rocks, down to the water table where it becomes groundwater. This is known as percolation.

The water table is the region of the subsurface area that is saturated with groundwater in a given vicinity, sometimes this region is called an aquifer.

Climate is affected by the Hydrologic Cycle. Water acts as a medium for energy transfer and storage for the climate system. The sun provides energy to facilitate evaporation of water into the atmosphere. When water vapor condenses and becomes precipitation, this energy is release into the atmosphere.

Available precipitation and evaporation loss based on the climate of a region, to a large extent, determines the water supply in that region. For instance, oceans and large lakes act as large heat sinks and sources, which have a moderating effect on a region. Since fresh water is stored in lakes, rivers, glaciers and wetlands, this latent (a form of potential energy) energy stored can, to some degree, mediate climate change.

More so than ever now, gradual climate change is yielding a pattern of extreme and severe weather events. A weather event is just that — a weather event. The atmosphere is warming, so more moisture is being held in the air. When more moisture is in the air, there is more precipitation, be it rain, snow, sleet. Atmospheric moisture, lift, instability all contribute to severe weather. Cold storms singular weather events don’t undermine the theory of climate change, which is just prevailing weather of a region over time. So what now?

A couple of strategies have been recommended:

  • Prevent or limit the cause of climate change i.e. cut back on green house gas production and plant more trees
  • Adapt to impending changes i.e. move from low-lying coastal regions, planting of suitable crops depending on climates more favorable for crop propagation.

Below are some graphics of the Hydrologic Cycle that capture some interesting metrics on the mechanisms involved in these dynamic flows i.e. evaporation, transpiration, condensation, precipitation, surface runoff andpercolation.

The Hydrologic Cycle v1

The Hydrologic Cycle v1

The Hydrologic Cycle v2

The Hydrologic Cycle v2

The Hydrologic Cycle v3

The Hydrologic Cycle v3




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What is a Hybrid RE Engineer?

An engineering generalist with an understanding of sustainable development whose skills set are typically comprised of an amalgam of mechanical and electrical engineering. One who is able to design and assemble systems and components that are comprised of more than one renewable energy (RE) technology i.e. solar, wind, hydro-kinetic (ocean/wave/micro-hydro), biomass, hydrogen fuel cell, geothermal and storage (battery, fly wheel, pumped-hydro). The RE technologies selected depend on one's geographical predisposition, resource availability, the end-use need, practicing conservation (behavioral change) to name a few considerations...

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