Blimp-lofted wind turbines: huge return on investment

This awesome-looking prototype of blimp-lofted wind turbine can apparently achieve significant energy return on costs by being tethered high above the usual 300ft ceiling presented by ordinary tower-based turbines, delivering power for up to 65% cheaper than conventionally-built wind turbines that produce the same power. And that 65% figure assumes a height of 1000ft — Altaeros was aiming for a working ceiling of 2000ft!

My chief concern is the use of helium, which we’re kinda running terribly short on, owing to the ridiculously short-sighted US Congress in 1996. Their setting the price artificially low, and their vow to sell off the helium reserve by 2015, coupled with terrible misuse of helium for party balloons (since the stuff’s so damned cheap, it’s actually more expensive to recycle it!), could spell disaster for us. We have no ready source for it except for the natural decay of minerals or as a byproduct of the extraction of natural gas. And our use of helium is increasing rapidly, since we use a good deal of it for medical and radiation detection purposes.

If we can solve the helium problem, I’ll take a million of these, kplzthx. We might just solve the energy problem yet!

Hat tip to Climate Crocks.

Fukushima: it gets even worse

As though it wasn’t bad enough already. The NY Times reports that the meltdown may have already escaped containment and begun boring through the concrete floor, according to a computer simulation of the original accident.

Soon after an earthquake and a tsunami on March 11 knocked out cooling systems at the power plant, nuclear fuel rods in three of its six reactors overheated and slumped, the operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Company, has said.

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We have five years to fix our shit before we destroy it

Looks like the server switchover ate this post yesterday. Good thing I kept a copy.

In order to cap our contribution to global climate change at 2°C over pre-industrial temperatures — a necessary limitation lest we do permanent damage to our ecosphere — we need to entirely change our methods of energy production within the next five years, according to a study by the International Environmental Agency. We’ve been pumping out more and more CO2 annually, and as a result, have completely overshot the IPCC’s “worst case scenarios”.
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