Thursday, October 6, 2011

EPA Admits Their Error, Backs Off

In what was promising to be a very hot potato politically, the EPA has backed off its order to shutdown power plants in 10 states. Admitting they had used incorrect data, they proposed to rollback the order today.

This kind of error is exactly why the EPA has effectively shot itself in the foot this year. But, it does suggest that the agency has some severe internal problems if an order can be issued based upon incorrect data which adversely affects the lives of millions of citizens. Perhaps a radical restructuring of the agency is called for.

In this case the Republicans were right to level severe criticism of the agency. Had they gone through with the shutdowns, it would have meant the end of the EPA very quickly. The Democrats should thank the Republicans for cutting the agency off before it committed political suicide.

Putting Excessive Heat to Work

It's not rocket science to put excessive heat to work. The problem is that investors just aren't interested.

However, there appears to be a project about to be built in Arizona which does put excessive heat to work. It's called EnviroMission and it is going to build a solar tower over twice as high as the Empire State Building right in the middle of the desert. Surrounded by a "greenhouse" on the desert floor, the project will heat air using the sun and convectively draw it into the tower, where massive wind turbines will generate electricity as the hot air flows through and rises to the top of the tower. With a rated output of 200 megawatts, it will supply electricity for up to 150,000 average homes in southern California (the contract is already in place supply the output to SoCal). And, although output will drop in the nighttime, retained heat will continue to turn the turbines, generating electricity even when the sun isn't shining. The plant is targetted for 2015 and is designed to last at least 80 years with virtually no cost to maintain. Investors expect payback within 11 years.

The concept has been proven in a pilot project in Spain and was scheduled to be built in Australia. However, it seems that the US is a much better market for the project. More information can be read here.