BANANA is short for "Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything", and really is becoming the actual cause for many of our energy problems. Congress and the President can talk about anything they'd like, from Alaskan oil drilling, to new, more efficient nuclear power plants, but the BANANA crowd, along with their cousins, the NIMBY family will prevent it.
A good example, a few years back when WE Energy was trying to get two new clean coal plants licensed near Milwaukee, all the enviromental groups were out screaming about black lung disease and acid rain. They wanted WE to build natural gas fired plants instead.
Economically it would have been a non-starter, for the size of the plants natural gas isn't efficient enough a heat source. It's great for small peaker plants, but for major plants it's a problem, but that isn't my point.
At the same time these groups were showing up at public hearing to demand WE Energy use natural gas, other chapters were suing to stop a new natural gas pipeline, and a LNG (liquified natural gas) terminal. The ultimate in wanting it both ways.
That's the problem with the environmental movement, they want cleaner energy, but they want it free, and that's not going to happen. To make ethanol, switchgrass, corn or sugar beets are going to have to be grown. To reduce coal use efficiently will require more nuclear power plants, or other electric generating facilities that are efficient enough to make it economically feasible.
When we talk about a "hydrogen based economy" the hydrogen has to come from somewhere. Hydrogen is a naturally occuring substance, number 1 on the periodic table, but not available alone, it has to be broken free from other elements.
Right now about 90% of it from natural gas, which we don't want anymore pipelines or terminals to deliver. Water can be a great source of hydrogen through electrolysis, using electricity to split the hydrogen from the oxygen. The only problem is it's a net energy loser, costing more to make that you recover from the process, in fact the best efficiency rating for the process is 45%, at an experimental Dept. of Energy plant that uses a nuclear reactor to heat the water, and provide the electricity.
One of the big "green ideas" for producing hydrogen is using wind and solar to provide heat and electricity to more efficiently "crack" seawater for the process. Just imagine that you want to buy some land on one of our coastal areas to build a 100 acre solar and wind plant. Since you'd need a lot of sunshine, southern California would be the logical place. Any bets on that happening without a lawsuit?
So here we sit, complaining about coal, $3 gasoline, and what to do with nuclear waste. And at the same time suing to prevent distribution methods for natural gas, and the building of windmills because they might whack a bat. Maybe we are getting what we deserve.
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