Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Firemen in "Luke" warmed water ...

So there was apparently a “solar” seminar yesterday on the South Side. Would have been cool (so to speak) to go to, but I do actually have to work. Maybe some private sector businesses and residential homeowners made some plans or signed some contracts.

Mayor Ravenstahl committed to setting up a solar water heater on a firehouse in the north or the west in the fall. Woo, we’re a “solar” city (as designated by the Feds); we have a solar water heater (Jimmy Carter put up a solar panels to heat water at the White House about thirty years ago, Reagan promptly took them down).

It’s not so much that we have a “smart grid” as a Luke-warm grid.


n'at said...

How do you eat an elephant? One small bite at a time.

It's a step - albeit a small one - towards reducing operating costs by way of efficiencies in energy consumption. They've been recycling and the motor pool has been running on natural gas for a while now, but that's been about it.

I still haven't read or heard of any dialog regarding regional (green) energy planning. Granted the Ohio Valley area has plenty of electricity to consume, but it's mostly from coal-fired power plants just over the boarder in OH and WV - often a stone's throw away. What are the viable alternatives for this region based on geography, topography, climate, population, etc? Wind is popular along the chestnut and laurel ridges, and near surface geothermal HVAC is working in public and private facilities around the state. Beyond those, it's the ancient formulas which are the most used: trees as sun screens, building orientation to inhibit or promote natural lighting, ceiling fans, operable windows, rain barrels, native species gardens and plantscapes.

In our area affordable solar energy is viable for a small percentage of daily consumption. I don't think we should be pushing it here.

From my perspective it's geothermal HVAC buffering that provides the greatest bang for the buck: deep drilled shafts connected to the intake of your furnace or heat pump. Using the relatively constant temperature of the earth as a starting point for air conditioning as opposed to the extreme cold or hot air within the space. Good stuff.

EdHeath said...

Well, n’at, first of all I have to admit I don’t know squat about geothermal energy. It’s just not something I have looked at. Is it practical in a crowded city neighborhood to dig long shafts into the ground? Is it affected by the possible existence of abandoned mines beneath some houses?

In any event, if I understand it correctly, geothermal is primarily concerned with the heating and possibly the cooling of one’s house. Well, a lot, maybe most of the houses around here use gas to fuel the furnace and thus heat the house. Not too many houses use electric heat, I believe, so we might be talking about apples and oranges (my turn for an analogy). And just as one can eat and enjoy both apples and oranges, we probably have room and even a need for both solar and geothermal, one for electricity and one for heating/cooling.

Shouldn’t the City be a bit more aggressive about providing a role model for its citizens? Illyrias from Pghisacity is just the latest person to point out that Germany is invested in solar energy. They have some pretty cloudy weather there. In fact, it seems to me that I heard, a while ago, that Germany had developed new solar panels that were much more efficient. So maybe we could get a few of those for our cloudy climate.

If you do kill an elephant for meat, you better eat it all pretty quick if you don’t have a huge (elephant sized) freezer. All that meat will go bad, so call all your friends and even some of your enemies, and have a barbeque (and solar panel raising).

Judge Rufus Peckham said...

This is off-topic and breaking news: Chad Hermann is returning – but not to his old blog. On Monday, he’ll start blogging at www.post-gazette.com That’s one hell of an audience, and I understand he’s going to cut loose. I am just glad that I’ve always been nice to him.

EdHeath said...

Well, as long as there is a comments section, it should be interesting to read it and perhaps interact with.