5.3 Clean(er) energy

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    Why are we storing our CO2 surplus under the ground? The Dutch government has to invest over one billion Euros for a CO2 storage facility in the Rotterdam Port. Or at least that’s what a lobby of nine companies thinks, united under the catchy name of the “Rotterdam Climate Initiative.” The rest of the three billion Euro project will be paid for by themselves (?), and (obviously) by European Union subsidies.

    In my book, this is an old-fashioned, expensive, and ill-considered solution to give the fossil fuel industry a clean tinge. Obviously, it is not old-fashioned in the technological sense because storing some gas in empty natural gas fields is more complex than many people think. Why are we actually still talking about CO2 storage? Are we not supposed to drastically reduce the CO2 output? Why are we simply not building sustainable clean power plants instead of power factories that burden us with their waste?

    The Netherlands, with natural gas resources, evidently has a strong gas lobby. We are aiming to be the main natural gas distribution center for Europe. A study by the Brattle Group, commissioned by the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture, and Infrastructure, shows that countries like Austria, Belgium, and Italy have similar plans, and that most of the returns within this plan originate by increasing the national gas production. In short, it’s a nice try, but the plan leans on classic, finite, and zombie-economic solutions, which we really have to wave goodbye to.

    The new gold rush is called “fracking.” Chemicals are used to crack rock layers deep in the ground, enabling natural gasses from these rocks to be extracted. It seems to be a big success in the United States, however, there are claims that the optimism concerning this new energy source is grossly exaggerated. In the European countries, however, we lack the vast rural areas like of the US, so this fracking probably will spill our natural supplies of drinking water. Also, due to the fracked energy volume in the US, the global rates for coal have dropped dramatically. CO2-polluting coal energy plants are now more profitable than most of the Dutch natural gas power plants, so these less polluting plants are hardly used!
    Will we never learn? We have to embrace sustainable solutions!

    Clearly, we would prefer to burn coal or gas than have a serious look at nuclear energy. Should we skip the discussion on nuclear power? I would love to, but then let’s really make an effort to make alternative energy work. It is an absolute disgrace that a company like Shell (with €26 billion in profit in 2012) pulls out of alternative energy projects when the first economic downturn occurs. Why are we still buying gas from these people?

    The Rainmaker concept is a system wherein a stand-alone wind turbine is placed in rain lacking regions. This system is especially suited for such environments without proper infrastructure and access to water sources. The Dutch Rainmaker system, literally, makes fresh water from air! The system’s wind turbine drives a heat pump, which is directly powered by the wind turbine’s blades. With the heat pump, the water vapor in the air is condensed and collected for domestic or irrigation purposes. Depending on local ambient temperatures and humidity conditions, air always contains a certain amount of water. This makes it possible to make water from air almost anywhere in the world.

    Wind energy is great, especially in the Netherlands. But why build wind turbines near residential areas? Can this not be done instead in the North Sea? Do people not want to "reside" in residential areas? Who would want a wind turbine in their back yard, dumped there by your own government? I wouldn’t, unless it provides me with the energy I need for my neighborhood…

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    Fracking explained (in Dutch)