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US Funding Five Game-Changing Energy Projects 529

Posted by samzenpus
from the I-want-my-water-car dept.
coondoggie writes "Taking aim at developing some progressive energy technologies the US Department of Energy said it will write a $130 million check to develop five areas, including plants engineered to replace oil, thermal power storage, rare earth alternatives and what it calls the energy equivalent of an Internet router."
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US Funding Five Game-Changing Energy Projects

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  • by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Sunday April 24, 2011 @10:09PM (#35925792)

    Unlike Brazil, once prices went back down the US decided to drop all the programs from the 70s because. Hell, fuel was cheap! People have already forgotten 2008 and went out buying SUVs once again. Now they're complaining once again.

  • by WindBourne (631190) on Sunday April 24, 2011 @10:09PM (#35925798) Journal
    I love this R&D. We have a solid science base (in spite of the gutting of during the 80s and through the 00's). We have loads of inventions and developments. The problem is that we simply allow other nations esp China to simply take it. That has to stop. China has been subsidizing companies to go there, which is total bs. This R&D needs to require that any company picking it up remain in the USA with the tech. Simple as that. All of Asia does. All of EU does it. Only US and UK do not do this. We need to rebuild our own economy.
  • $130mil? Wowzers~ (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 24, 2011 @10:12PM (#35925814)

    Oh boy, $130million to create new energy solutions. That about what the computer systems in an SR-71 Blackbird costs. Guess the DoD will have to go without until next year's budget. Seriously though this is pathetic. $130million isn't shit. It's a laughable sum for any kind of major research project, let alone what is arguably the most important human challenge being faced today. Even $130bn would be too little spent in my opinion.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 24, 2011 @10:14PM (#35925820)

    All those previous game-changing energy projects have worked out so well over the years...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 24, 2011 @10:23PM (#35925878)

    Way to waste our money Obamessiah
     
    Isn't enough with cramming your electric car(government motors volt) down our throats

  • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Sunday April 24, 2011 @10:28PM (#35925918) Homepage

    Oh boy, $130million to create new energy solutions. That about what the computer systems in an SR-71 Blackbird costs. Guess the DoD will have to go without until next year's budget. Seriously though this is pathetic. $130million isn't shit. It's a laughable sum for any kind of major research project, let alone what is arguably the most important human challenge being faced today. Even $130bn would be too little spent in my opinion.

    Yep. About as much as it costs to run a Nimitz class aircraft carrier for half a year [answers.com]. A truly outstanding commitment to energy research.

    I am dissapoint.

  • by ArcherB (796902) on Sunday April 24, 2011 @10:32PM (#35925938) Journal

    LOL what goes around comes around. Americans didn't get where they are without totally disrespecting intellectual property from europe during the industrial revolution. why should the chinese?

    Which we then used to build tanks, airplanes, submarines and battleships to defeat the Nazis.

    Alright! We'll call it a draw.

  • by ArcherB (796902) on Sunday April 24, 2011 @10:37PM (#35925958) Journal

    Well, we could change $130 million to $130 Billion if we could work out some sort of compromise. For example, we could drill ANWR, which is federal land (meaning federal oil), and mandate that the feds set aside $10 for each barrel of oil sold for investment into "green energy".

    Oh, wait. We can't do that. A Caribou may have to have sex five miles from where he had it last year. Nevermind.

  • by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Sunday April 24, 2011 @11:01PM (#35926096) Journal

    Seriously though this is pathetic. $130million isn't shit It's a laughable sum for any kind of major research project ...

    But it's a tidy sum for a crony of the government administrator who decides who gets it.

    And it's also a major boon to the crony who's actually trying to go to market - in competition with some non-crony who had to raise his capital himself. $130 million in free money is a big competitive advantage.

    Let's bring out the Corps of Engineers' bulldozers and tilt the playing field - like about 45 degrees. ; THEN let the market decide. Yeah, right.

  • by pixelpusher220 (529617) on Sunday April 24, 2011 @11:07PM (#35926126)

    If you are a Democrat, you are an idiot....Democrats cry that we just need to raise income tax on the rich (or return to where they were a few years ago) and things will be hunky-dory.

    You do realize the Dem's have agreed to reforms of Social Security and Medicare right? They aren't saying taxing the rich will fix everything just that it's crazy to give them tax cuts when cutting other major pieces of the budget.

    If you think providing a social safety net is 'stupid', well I don't have a lot of sympathy for you. Your parents use it or will use it, just the same as Medicare. These are *necessary* programs for the health of our society. Imagine how bad the economy would be if everybody was saving to buy private insurance when they are 65+. It's ridiculously expensive to buy insurance when you're healthy, let alone when you're elderly. How about retirement? Again lots more money out of the economy as people have to save for their entire retirement.

    Next, what do you do with people who lost their savings in the recession? They don't have any money to pay for health insurance or retire. If you say 'tough', well I have no sympathy for you.

    Being in favor, and paying for, social programs is not stupid. It's the fabric that keeps this the best country in the world.

  • by arkenian (1560563) on Sunday April 24, 2011 @11:08PM (#35926130)
    This is just total BS. The vast majority of advances in engineering and science in the history of mankind have been funded by the government or the church at one level or another. Why? Because R&D is high risk, and willingness to invest in things that high-risk is rare in the private market. VCs very rarely invest in real research, but instead typically invest in the phase where you take a concept with proven theory to a real product. Most research money produces nothing immediately useful. I freely confess this. But the only way to progress is to be willing to try a hundred ideas, understanding that 50 of them will produce nothing at all. Another 40 will probably basically just produce some interesting information. 9 of them will give you an interesting concept you might develop when conditions change, or that is useful for an exceedingly limited purpose, and 1 of them will produce a product that will actually go to the general market.... But guess what? Its totally worth it. And, in the end, not very expensive.
  • by sqrt(2) (786011) on Sunday April 24, 2011 @11:18PM (#35926184) Journal

    Which is why public policy should be directed to intercede. The public is short-sighted, like the markets that supply their fuel and "choose" which technologies to pursue. We can see the storm coming on the horizon, but when you've got so many people looking straight up, seeing the sun and proclaiming there's no danger it's hard to react to a future that many experts know is coming.

    We can either make tough choices now that will lead to a somewhat painful but tolerable transition period, or wait and do the same things in haste and agony. The people saying we should do nothing are doing so mostly out of an ideological mistrust of government doing anything, but they are going to be very regretful when they realize the markets failed to see and prepare for a future that experts and government DID predict, and could have prevented or at least vastly reduced the severity of.

    We are in for a bleak future, because a small section of society has a vested interest in doing nothing and they have fully convinced roughly half of us that doing anything about it is an affront to their liberty. They'll pay in the end, we all will.

  • by ratnerstar (609443) on Sunday April 24, 2011 @11:45PM (#35926364) Homepage

    I'm not sure I understand you. Are you advocating a targeted $10 per barrel tax only on oil drilled from ANWR? That seems silly, plus you must be aware that taxes on oil production are a political non-starter. It would be easier to get environmentalists to agree to drilling than to get the GOP to agree to taxes. And I don't even want to think about the economic distortions that would accompany taxing one area of production but not others...

    On the other hand, it kinda sounds like you're calling for the Federal government to get into the oil drilling & selling business.

  • by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Sunday April 24, 2011 @11:50PM (#35926378) Journal

    Let's start investing now, so the price of alternative energy comes down and we can switch to them before energy prices skyrocket.

    My point is that, as long as the government does the investing - in the form of picking their cronies as the winners, we WON'T get private investment. Meanwhile government cronies on the dole put on a big show of doing the development but always manage to avoid bringing anything to market - unless it's to kill some competition for a while. Government programs like this just about ALWAYS fail.

    WITHOUT the government winner-picking we'd likely ALREADY HAVE affordable alternatives. Investors are very good at figuring out where the money will be coming from in a few years and positioning themselves to sell whatever will get them some.

    But they're ALSO good at figuring out that the government will steal some particular cash cow once it's giving milk. So when that's a big risk they don't breed it in the first place.

  • by Gerzel (240421) <brollyferret&gmail,com> on Sunday April 24, 2011 @11:53PM (#35926400) Journal

    Yes there is a good reason why gas can't be cheap.

    It is a limited finite resource and there is a large and growing demand for it on the planet.

    It is something that will increase in cost and has greater value for chemical manufacturing. Why are we squandering such a resource on fuel? Why are we burning it and wasting it? Why do so many people think it is such a good idea to go through our own reserve supplies first and then depend on the rest of the world for our supply?

    Drill here, drill now is just a good recipe to destroy American sovereignty.

  • by pixelpusher220 (529617) on Monday April 25, 2011 @12:17AM (#35926518)

    We need oil now and for many decades to come. Producing it here can only benefit us.

    Spoken like the true addict that we are :) Actually it can harm us. If we use it now while oil is cheap we won't have it available when peak oil hits and it gets really expensive. 'Conserving' your resources is better than just using them up as fast as possible.

    Now the other argument to be made is that if we don't start drilling right here right now, it won't be online when peak oil hits. A fair argument, except for the fact that the 'drill here drill now' people also claim peak oil is either a myth or hundreds of years away...thus invalidating their argument for doing it right now.

    Better to do what this article is about and start spending that money on alternative sources so that they are ready to pick up the slack when peak oil hits.

  • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@@@gmail...com> on Monday April 25, 2011 @12:48AM (#35926618) Journal

    Hi MR AC! Allow me to explain how that can be bad, a little thing called 'unforeseen consequences'. For example CAFE...once upon a time there was a thing called a station wagon. Now this thing was just about perfect for your average soccer mom who needed to haul the kids to practice, but then along came CAFE which listed them as cars and put crazy MPG ratings on them.

    " Why" said the auto manufacturers "We can keep making these and make underpowered POS station wagons that the public doesn't buy, or we can build them on a truck chassis and forget the CAFE crap!" and the SUV was born. The same thing happened to those great little car/trucks, like the El Camino and Ranchero, which were perfect for just hauling a little lumber or moving some furniture. Nope instead thanks to CAFE you got full sized trucks instead!

    So you see MR AC it is those unforeseen consequences that bite you in the ass, like those studies coming out now that say the chemicals released by the new CFC bulbs are a cancer risk, as well as more dangerous thanks to the blue tint being more like sunlight and throwing everyone's biological clocks off more than the yellow incandescent bulbs. It is the "we have to do something now!" brigade that leaps before looking and yet again those pesky unforeseen consequences bite you in the ass. Personally I'd rather let the people decide whether they want car A or car B myself. Call me weird but I think having choice is a good thing.

  • by mbkennel (97636) on Monday April 25, 2011 @12:53AM (#35926634)

    "My point is that, as long as the government does the investing - in the form of picking their cronies as the winners, we WON'T get private investment."

    Because, uh...um...they'll get cooties?

    "Meanwhile government cronies on the dole put on a big show of doing the development but always manage to avoid bringing anything to market - unless it's to kill some competition for a while"

    Gee. If these supposed government-funded morons don't ever bring anything to market---then how do they kill competition? And if they actually bring something to market, then .... isn't that at least OK?

    If these supposed uber-brilliant capitalists know all the government-funded stuff is bunk---why does it matter? How does it possibly get in the way of the super profitable solution? Why are they so (supposedly) afraid of this miniscule government R&D?

    And why shouldn't this super brilliant capitalist milk the government and *then* bring this magic technology to market and make a few billion?

    Back in the real world of R&D, there is about 20-25 years of very hard work between the discovery of the basic phenomenon or engineering principle and commercial application. Capitalist investors are quite effective at funding the last two years of this. They go almost nothing beyond this.

  • by The End Of Days (1243248) on Monday April 25, 2011 @01:06AM (#35926702)

    At what point does the bankrupt government stop spending money? Every dollar has defenders, so there's no way to get rid of any of it. Clearly the answer is to continue until it all falls over. Obviously anyone who points this out is a moron teabagger who sleeps with Dick Cheney 6 inches deep in his ass. And really, what's 130 million between friends? A few billion for this, a few billion for that... it's nothing. Somewhere along the way, the rich people will pay for it. Yeah, that's it.

  • Only 130 million? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by blanks (108019) on Monday April 25, 2011 @01:10AM (#35926736) Homepage Journal
    I'm sorry, but are we supposed to be impressed by the 130 million on ENERGY? This is almost 1/10th the cost of a stealth bomber.

    Energy is one of our biggest problems in this country and is one of the scariest things we have to look forward to in the future. 130 million will not solve any problems or come up with any new solutions and will barely line the pockets of which ever friends of friends were given government contacts that will receive this money. We need to start coming up with massive amounts of money to not only put into R & D but as basically bribery to the current oil industries (cars/aircrafts) to really pull out heads our of our asses and move on from our current primitive situation.

    If our country really wanted to try solving the worlds energy problem we would be spending 130 BILLION. That is a number that will solve problems.
  • by rmstar (114746) on Monday April 25, 2011 @05:43AM (#35927592)

    In other words, Other Peoples' Money is free money.

    I know you will get a tantrum over this, but hey. You are part of a society, and to some extent, your belongings belong also to society. It is not "other peoples money". It is our money going into research.

    Not that you have to worry. As soon as it is understood well enough to be profitable, it will be privatized, and someone with good connections will make a formidable amount of money on the back of the effort we, as a society, invested in risky research.

  • by HungryHobo (1314109) on Monday April 25, 2011 @06:44AM (#35927766)

    For example, imagine that you choice what to eat based on the last news story that you read on which foods were healthy and which weren't. You'd always be shuffling your diet around as the next new thing was heralded or scorned by someone in the newspaper or on TV. I imagine that would be costly and expose you to a variety of risks and harms that a normal person, who did nothing about their diet, wouldn't even see.

    you've got the wrong comparison.
    Yes it would be insane to listen to every "nutritionist" and hack who think fish oil will make you smart or that bread will give you cancer.

    on the other hand if you based your diet on the current best practice as advised by the majority of dieticians(that's the real experts with the real qualifications who don't change their minds every 20 minutes but can sometimes be wrong like any scientists or professionals) then you'd likely have an exceptionally good diet and be more healthy than average.

    there are good reasons to wait.

    until... what? most of the actual experts are fairly confident that they have the right model now and that it would be best to act now.

    but what evidence are you waiting for?
    What event exactly are you waiting for?
    The opinions of the experts obviously aren't good enough for you so what is?

  • Re:Sam I am. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by VVrath (542962) on Monday April 25, 2011 @10:32AM (#35929092)

    And that rock you are holding is doing a great job of keeping tigers away.

    Seriously, the people who committed the 9/11 attacks are dead; they blew themselves to shit along with 3000+ innocent people. You can't "kick their asses"; their asses are scattered all over Manhattan, Virginia and Pennsylvania.

    You can't maintain the pretence that getting rid of Saddam Hussein had anything to do with 9/11 - it's simply laughable. And the so-called war-on-terror in Afghanistan has only served to piss off the majority of the Afghan public, and given the Taliban more fodder for their propaganda machine.

    I'll tell you what's kept the US safe from terrorist attacks like 9/11 for the last 9.5 years: An attack like that could never work again. Before 9/11 if someone tried to hijack your plane, you co-operated - The hijackers would generally want to negotiate and in the vast majority of cases everyone went home in one piece. 9/11 changed the rules. If someone tries to hijack a plane now, the passengers are going to "kick their ass" - there's nothing to lose.

    Finally, you claim the US is "not willing to risk and lose [the] country just to avoid kicking their asses". If you look at the number of bad laws that have been passed as a result (e.g. the PATRIOT act), you'd see that you've already lost the country. I thought the US was supposed to be the "land of the free and the home of the brave". By implementing such draconian legislation, you've become a land of fear and oppression. The rest of the western world thinks you already let the terrorists win./p

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