Cool Energy Solutions
Technologies to Combat Global Warming (first of a series)
Increasingly nations and governments have been adopting technologies to deal with global warming. Some large installations are strictly defensive, like the Thames River Barrier protecting London, built beginning in 1982. At first it was used rarely, less than once a year, but British Science Advisor Sir David King says it is now closed against high tides 6 or 7 times a year.
Wind turbines are being installed worldwide at an increasing rate. Wind is the fastest growing energy technology in the world today. In recent years, wind capacity worldwide has more than doubled.
The towers must be located to protect migrating birds and bats, and scenic landscapes -- which unfortunately early wind farms like Altamont California did not consider. This technology can increase the use and value of open farm and grazing land (see above in Illinois), and is also compatible with solar installations.
Solar is also growing and offers the flexibility of scale, from small panels for individual appliances in homes to huge acreages supplying cities and industries. The two forms of solar illustrated here are the photovoltaic panel used in the array on the roof of the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco. This is the largest civic owned solar installation in the US. Its 60,000 square feet generates 675 kilowatts of electricity, and saves $210,000 a year over conventional electric sources.
Another older solar electric generation system is the solar- thermal Kramer Junction array of five fields of 33 megawatts each in the Mojave desert. It has been on line since 1985 to produce electricity for the Southern California Edison power grid supplying the greater Los Angeles area. This technology uses parabolic mirrors to heat an oil which makes steam to run turbines.
It must be mentioned that the largest sources of non-fossil fuel energy are ancient -- water power and wood. These supply most of the so-called renewable energy in the world despite the obvious negative (and not always renewable or reversible) effects on rivers and forests. Stay tuned to World View of Global Warming for increasing details on clean energy solutions and success stories.