Thursday, September 17, 2009

Underground Cold Storage

If you don't have a underground cold storage and you have freshly picked fruits and vegetables to store, don't worry, you can make your own. I first heard of the idea using a metal garbage can. Just dig a hole, put the can in. Fill with things you want to store through the winter and then put the lid on and cover with hay.

In the above picture I thought a regular fridge would work. Just means digging a bigger hole. It does have a nice rubber and magnetic seal and the whole thing is insulated. I would still recommend putting hay over it. A small free standing cover would be nice so when it is icy and snowy outside, you can still open it and get things out.

One word of advice, don't put apples in with anything else. Keep them seperate. I remember reading that the apples off gas something and it will make potatoes turn green. Don't remember the details though.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Wind Power when the Wind Stops

I know there is a big concern about wind and solar in which their intermittent nature may cause problems. The propaganda being pushed on the net is that they have to make back up coal burning power stations to go along with every wind farm to take up the slack when the wind isn't blowing. This sounds right at first glance but after careful consideration just doesn't hold up.

In reality, the wind farm is there to augment the existing electrical production so it offsets the use of fossil fuels. In other words, no backup coal power plant is needed. The wind farm means that whenever the wind is blowing then there is less coal or natural gas being burned. This is a good thing.

The only time it becomes a problem is when you get close to 20% of your power production coming from wind. Right now we are only at about 1.3%. But when that time comes, there are much better ways to deal with downtime than just making more coal power plants. One example is pumping air underground.
There are two ways to do it. The picture above shows the more inefficient way. But this is the only cheap way to retrofit an existing wind farm. It feeds the grid with electricity from the windmill and uses some of the power to pump air under ground into a empty natural gas well. When the wind isn't blowing, the compressed air will turn air motors or turbines that spin generators to make electricity.

The second way is to use wind turbines that have the air compressor built in instead of the generator. You can read more about it here.


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Utility wants to deploy largest grid battery ever

This story is all about "green washing" and corporate criminals that want to take advantage of new public moneys.

Basically we are looking at a power company and a lithium ion battery manufacturer making huge sums of money through grants from the Dept of Energy. What they fail to mention is that lithium ion batteries are only good for about 2 to 3 years and then they have to be replaced. So, it isn't just a one time grant. It is an ongoing cell replacement scenario. Why put some awesome, lightweight, high density batteries in a warehouse that could just as easily house cheaper lead acid batteries? The most effective recycling program in the world has been the recycling of lead acid batteries. About 98% effective. And large cells like in forklifts can last 10 to 20 years. Lithium ion is great for laptops, drills, cars and scooters because they take up very little space and they are lightweight. In a huge factory size doesn't really matter and, of course, neither does the weight.

But, really, why use batteries at all for this scenario? Wind and hydro can take up slack in the grid system all the way up to about 20%. And only then do you need to look into some backup system. And when and if we get to that point we could use other methods such as compressed air storage underground in abandoned gas wells. Or we could pump water up to the top of a hill and use hydroelectric at the low wind times.