Showing posts with the label Energy

The Oil and the Glory

The Oil and the Glory: The Pursuit of Empire and Fortune on the Caspian Sea by Steve LeVine. Steve LeVine covered Central Asia and the Caucasus for The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times for 11 years — starting two weeks after the Soviet collapse through 2003. From 1988-1991, LeVine was Newsweek's Pakistan-based correspondent for that country and Afghanistan. While the book doesn't have the documented rigor of say Taubman's biography on Khruschev it is quite clear that Steve knows very well the region; central Asia, the Caucasus and Russia. Moreover the book is vivid in both historical detail and the well rounded detail on the cast of players. It's importance is not only in shedding light the light on the region it covers, but even more so into understanding the dynamics at play in some of world's most influential corporations. The book has a great balance of historical context and a detailed account of the power struggles around the oil in the Caspian basin

Aerial View of Google’s Solar Installation

The Google solar installation is the largest corporate solar electric installation in the world generating about 1.6 MW which covers about 30% of our electrical need in the campus in Mountain View. The panels, 9212 of them or about 20 shipping containers, are installed on roofs and newly erected carports. The specs for the Sharp ND208U1F are here. They generate 208 W of power (max.) with an efficiency of 12.8% and these days sell retail for about $1150. Fourteen 208 Watt solar modules are wired in series in each circuit with the output DC voltage sent to one of 10 SatCon Power Inverters. The inverters, which are tied into Google’s power system and the state grid, convert the generated DC voltage into utility-grade AC with 96% efficiency. The system covers almost 20,000 square meters of flat roof space and parking lot shades, it will generate over 2.6 million kWH of energy per year saving almost $400,000 annually. At this rate, the system which has an expected lifetime of 30 years,

Superconducting Cathedrals or Garage Fusion?

Last week a talk on fusion by Robert W. Bussard was posted on Google video. He is a physicist and proponent of fusion through inertial electrostatic confinement . An approach that does away with large scale engineering of machines that cost billions of dollars and have yet to break even and actually output energy harnessed from fusion. Though electrostatic confinement has its detractors Mr. Bussard claims the majority are defending their own very expensive rice bowls. In his talk he provides data and an overview of the technology involved in achieveing reliable fusion while saving vast amounts of money, which he points, are currently being absorbed by the ITER project. It is an interesting geopolitical issue as well, it’s a fact that classic tokamaks are expensive technology mastered only by a handful of most affluent nations whereas electrostatic confinement is demonstrable at a garage level ( another one ). Bussard’s experimental setup is not much larger and if feasible could mea