Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.
- President Dwight D. Eisenhower

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Stanford Ovshinsky

He is a treasure to America and to Michigan.

All right, as promised, I will write a few paragraphs on why I think the proposed cuts to solar, hydrogen, and vehicle technology is a bad idea. Wow, shock horror... I actually am going to defend hydrogen research.

All right, the solar industry is beginning to mature. Since 1980, a photovoltaic cell has dropped in price by ninety per cent. Ronald Reagan removed the solar panels from the White House... by the time (now) that they actually would have needed to been replaced, it would have cost ninety per cent less than the initial investment.

Now, solar is taking off, but entrepreneurs and investors are by nature, dually brave and conservative. The solar business model right now makes sense. People are getting rich selling solar panels, and thin films, solar paint, and a whole bunch of different technologies promise to revolutionize how we generate electricity.

However, business models, once set up, need stability. Cuts to solar research by the federal government have a chilling effect on all of the state-funded research programs. State tax grants and such are what is really pushing individual homeowners to install solar panels. If there is less money for research from the federal government, states, such as Michigan, will have less money to fund research.

A state should not be in the impossible position of either cutting funding to tax grants for solar panels, whose installation and fabrication will create jobs, or cutting funding to research that will provide much needed jobs in the scientific sector.

Solar energy works, even in Michigan, and it is totally renewable and minimally impactful on the environment.

Solar energy is like an adolescent about ready to run in a track meet, and George Bush just shot the kid in his thigh with a BB gun. The kid will finish the race, but he sure as hell won't be the fastest.

Now hydrogen... Hydrogen is crap the smaller the scale it is used and gangbusters when stored in a large setting. The future of energy generation is energy storage. Electricity needs to be consumed literally microseconds after it is produced. Wind farms, solar installations, hydroelectric dams, wave installations, they all have down time. However, instead of looking at this as a problem, we should look at it holistically.

A wind farm in North Dakota is completely isolated from damn near everything, but what are you going to do? That is where the wind is. So, why not, instead of producing electricity to put on to the grid when the wind is blowing, which, by the way, is most of the time in North Dakota, why not produce hydrogen from the wind, and send it through the natural gas infrastructure to natural gas power plants, which can store the hydrogen in pretty much the same damn containers that they are currently using for methane?

Figuring out how to exactly do that costs money.

Finally, vehicle technology. We are finally seeing marketing for alternative vehicles such as hybrids, natural gas powered cars, ethanol cars, and the like. The big three are going green, finally... and the federal government is cutting funding to vehicle technology?!

It's like the entire country hates Michigan. I honestly am beginning to feel that way.

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