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Power Science Technology

US Funding Five Game-Changing Energy Projects 529

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 $RANDOMLUSER ( 804576 ) on Sunday April 24, 2011 @10:19PM (#35925854)
    I particularly like the look of Green Electricity Network Integration (GENI) project; using the stuff we've learned about networking applied to the problem of power switching and monitoring. Electricity, once generated, is pretty much a "use it or lose it" proposition, so coming up with new ways to route the electric grid (particularly with peaky generation like wind) is a really great idea. Although, "up to" $30M to this project doesn't seem like a lot.
  • by MyLongNickName ( 822545 ) on Sunday April 24, 2011 @10:24PM (#35925886) Journal


    Imagine if we had an extra12 Trillion to spend on green energy. We could put $10,000 solar panels on 100M houses - almost every freaking house in the US. I am not saying it is a wise decision. Just saying that is the power of 1 Trillion dollars. That is also about HALF what we will pay in interest on our debt over the next six years.

    Just a friendly reminder that the U.S. is getting itself closer and closer to insolvency. Between a grossly over-funding military, entitlements out the ass and a belief that the rich should get more and more tax cuts, we are getting closer to not being able to pay our bills.

    Depending on how you look at the budget, we spend 780B to 900B on defense related funding (depends on whether veteran benefits are military or entitlement)
    Social Security is 750B
    Income Security is 570B
    Medicare is 500B
    Health is 400B
    Interest is 250B
    There is about 600B in miscellaneous other areas. And we will run up a tab of $1.6Trillion in the process. Grand total of around 16Trillion in debt.

    I am all for funding science. This is an area that has an investment effect in the economy. The military has almost no payback relative to the investment. Other areas listed about don't either.

    Yet with the exception of the military you won't see any of the above numbers drop (and military might not either). Interest paid out is expected to double by 2015. So where does science funding end up? It doesn't take a rocket scientist (I see what I did there) to figure it out. Other countries will be able to fund scientists and I surely expect the brain drain effect to take place. The US will lose (continue to lose?) its best and brightest to countries who value science.

    If you are a Democrat, you are an idiot. Sorry. This is the truth. If you are a Republican (as I was once a Republican) you are even dumber. The Republicans brag about cutting 40B out of the budget when we are running $1,600B deficits. 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. Republicans swear that if we increase taxes, the US will go to hell.

    The reality is we need to cut back spending. If we increase taxes, it will cover about 1/3 of our deficit... but we need to return income taxes to pre-Bush levels. We need to seriously evaluate how much we want to spend on social programs and then we need to fund our future. And it should not be in the form of an IOU to China.

    If you want to see science funded, we need to get serious about balancing our budget.

  • by Kohath ( 38547 ) on Sunday April 24, 2011 @10:24PM (#35925892)

    Since we have no shortage of energy but we have a desperate shortage of funds in the Treasury, these types of projects should not be funded. Let a less bankrupt country fund them.

    These types of grants tend to be direct monetary payback for political support and campaign donations anyway.

  • Game changers: BTDT (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RavenManiac ( 220921 ) on Sunday April 24, 2011 @10:42PM (#35925998)

    We played that alternative renewable energy game 30 years ago. Quietly. Saved an extra +$100k to do better things than to heat or cool our house, like paying tuition, paying off our mortgage early and finding good naturist beaches.

    Conservation and passive solar can replace more than 50% of the energy you--not ME--waste. Easy. High Energy Advanced Thermal Storage (HEATS) -- BTDT ca. 1980. We even have almost free air conditioning from long underground pipes.

    Research? Make a list of what's already been done and change the building codes to require more insulation, air-to-air heat exchangers, solar hot water, PV panels, credits for being good [with energy]. This is OLD tech. We got our $3300 tax credit and turned it into a +3000% return. Pretty sweet!

  • by sqrt(2) ( 786011 ) on Sunday April 24, 2011 @11:44PM (#35926354) Journal

    You're starting from the assumption that energy production and distribution should be, or must be, the domain of private enterprise alone. This isn't the only way things can work. It's simply too dangerous (look at Japan), dirty (look at the Gulf of Mexico), and important to put in the hands of a capitalist framework that is willing to cut corners to make more profit. I'd rather have the entire sector in control of an entity run by experts with the full resources of the nation at their disposal and no board of directors or shareholders to answer to but only the people, and the nation that they too are part of and wish to see prosper. There is no such thing as a patriotic corporation, nor a corporation interested in protecting the environment or public safety. To the extent that they do is only because they are compelled to by The State or public outrage--and the later only after some terrible calamity has stricken our geography or population.

  • by sqrt(2) ( 786011 ) on Sunday April 24, 2011 @11:46PM (#35926366) Journal

    History will show who was right. I'm prepared to be judged for, in my zeal, doing too much. Are you prepared to be judged for doing too little?

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

    by haruchai ( 17472 ) on Monday April 25, 2011 @12:43AM (#35926602)

    It looks like the Mountain Pass mine in California - the largest, richest single-site deposit of rare earth minerals will be back online the end of this year. Problem is that there's considerable expertise needed to process the ores and, thanks to a combination of market forces and stupid shortsightedness, most of that expertise is in China. So it'll be a couple years before the mine is fully independent, once the ore-processing facility is completed and they get the hang of efficient extraction

  • by khallow ( 566160 ) on Monday April 25, 2011 @01:41AM (#35926876)

    History will show who was right. I'm prepared to be judged for, in my zeal, doing too much. Are you prepared to be judged for doing too little?

    I would rather do the right thing now than concern myself with judgment. Hence, my choices. I know already that no one has more than a greatly imperfect knowledge of the future and no understand at all of the possible choices we collectively could make. So imposing restrictions that not only depend on a relatively solid knowledge of the future, but also constrain our collective lives, seems remarkably foolish to me. Clothing that choice in the conceit of elite knowledge is just folly.

    I don't know whether you will ever regret the choices you make imposing your myopic morality on the rest of the world, but I do know that I would regret allowing your choices to go through uncontested. And that's good enough for me.

  • by Mindcontrolled ( 1388007 ) on Monday April 25, 2011 @04:53AM (#35927484)
    Ah.. here we go. Show your colors. It doesn't concern me, only the next generation, so fuck them for my personal gain. Thanks for showing off what passes as "ethics" in you circles, if you ever even heard of the concept.

It is not for me to attempt to fathom the inscrutable workings of Providence. -- The Earl of Birkenhead