My hat's off to Primary
). Years ago they
took almost all of the concepts for generation-side efficiency improvment
and cogeneration that I outlined in
to go from here?
and are promoting, commercializing and installing
them on the industrial side. I am a latecomer to this party.
I should have discovered them early on during what I was calling
research. They slipped under my radar despite their field being
exactly in my area of focus. (I have wondered out loud why so
many seemingly-obvious opportunities for savings seem to have gone
unrecognized and unused. Primary Energy has recognized them and
is doing something about it.)
I could take this as a personal failing on my part, or as an indication
that Primary Energy is not getting nearly enough press. That press
just got a whole lot broader with an article in "Skeptical Inquirer"
(a magazine not typically noted for commentary on energy matters), and
notices in other blogs. Here's a bit more press for them; I hope
The SI article is
newly available on-line
, and all of the salient points (and more)
are contained between
this Distributed Energy article
. (I can console myself with the fact
that many of these articles and presentations appeared after I did the
majority of my research.) The interested reader should take time
out and read at least one of those pieces before continuing. Go
ahead, take your time; this page isn't going to be impatient with you.
Primary Energy estimates that industrial energy recycling could yield
between 40 GW and 100 GW
(page 10), of which only 2.2 GW are currently
being used. My own estimate of the cogeneration potential of
natural-gas fired residential and commercial space- and water-heating
50 GW average
; this potential is almost completely unused.
This adds up to between 88 and 148 GW of untouched electric generation
potential which can be obtained with zero (flare gas, heat recycling,
pressure drop) to minimal (residential and commercial cogeneration)
additional fuel use. This could meet 1/3 to 1/2 the additional
electric demand created by a complete conversion to plug-in hybrids.
Of course, the road to this destination is full of potholes. Primary
Energy mentions that law in all states
forbids transmission of non-utility electricity across public streets
forcing distributed generators to deal with their competition from a
disadvantageous position. Anti-competitive rules and laws will have
to be removed to make way for advances. The alternative is that we
will wind up where we're headed.
I haven't got any essays ready, but two updates couldn't wait:
In the three-way race between conventional semiconductor PV, dye-activated
titanium dioxide and organic polymers, the organics may have just found
a performance-enhancing drug:
(Hat tip: Slashdot). Peter Peumans is quoted as saying
that conversion efficiency may reach 30%, compared to today's 6%. (If
even 15% is achieved, the ~500 quads of sunlight falling on the impermeable
area of the USA could potentially yield ~75 quads of electricity. I
believe that most of the work currently done in the USA with oil, coal and
natural gas could be replaced by 75 quads of electricity with plenty left
In an e-mail communication from R.Martin Roscheisen of Nanosolar, I was
informed that the numbers I posted in
of left field
were "not quite correct". I responded with a
request for more accurate data to post. I've not yet heard back from
anyone, but I will attempt to update everything affected when I get a response.