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Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Bi-partisan wedgy

From the Congressional Record on March 14th, this exchange between two house representatives from Maryland:
Mr. GILCHREST. If the gentleman would yield just for a second, I am sure he knows, but the general public, I do not think realizes it is not necessary to be sitting right on top of a volcanic area, an earthquake zone to get geothermal energy. We on the Eastern Shore of Maryland have a number of schools that are actually providing heat for those schools from geothermal energy. Some of these things are sort of a hidden secret. But it is the classical conventional wisdom that keeps us from exploring some of these things a little bit further. And I think the gentleman is bringing those out tonight.

Mr. BARTLETT of Maryland. Is this tying the school to the molten core, or is it simply using a heat pump and exchanging, not with the air? What you are trying to do in the winter-time is cool the air and what you are trying to do in the summer time is heat the air.

Mr. GILCHREST. It is actually bringing water up from the surface, from the subsurface. The water is much warmer further down.

Mr. BARTLETT of Maryland. It is indeed. But you still have to have energy to use that. You are much more efficient using a heat pump that is tied to the ground, to groundwater than it is to the cold air in the winter and the hot air in the summer. If you are thinking about what you are trying to do is to cool the cold air in the winter time and to heat the hot air in the summertime. And obviously ground water is very much better in both seasons than either the air in the winter or the cold, the hot air in the summer or the cold air in the winter.

Ocean energy. You know, it takes an enormous amount of energy to lift the ocean 2 feet. That is roughly what the Moon does in the tides, is it not? But the problem with that is energy density.

There is an old adage that says what is everybody's business is nobody's business. And the corollary to that in energy is if it is too widely distributed, you probably cannot make much of it. And we have really tried to harness the tides. In some fjords in Norway where they have 60-foot tides you put a bar there, when it runs in you trap it and then you run it out through a turbine. When it is running out, you can get some energy from it. And there is potential there, a lot of potential energy. But you know it is very dispersed. We have a hard time capturing that energy.

I suspect that our hour is about up, and this is maybe a good place to end. We are going to come back and spend another hour looking at agriculture, enormous opportunities from agriculture. But let me remind the gentleman that we are just barely able to feed the world now. And if we start taking all of this biomass off the field, what is going to happen to the tilth of our soil, to the organic matter in our soil, which is essential to the availability of nutrients in the soil by the plant. So there are lots of challenges here. There are lots of opportunities here. And we will spend another hour talking about them. Thank you very much. And I yield back, Mr. Speaker.

Can you tell which congressman is Republican and which is a Democrat? In actuality I don't think it matters much, Bartlett got elected as a PhD farmer and Gilchrest as a former high school teacher. I bet it will take a lot of weedy (as in deep in the ...) talk like this from both sides of the aisle before we get to some good alternative energy legislation.

Update: Full transcript at Energy Bulletin

4 Comments:

Professor Blogger Heading out said...

And what is worrisome is that I believe that there are only 3 scientist/engineers in Congress these days that might understand these issues, and one - I think it is Gilchrist - was taking part in this "debate", which, given the hour, was, I suspect only attended by the participants.

Which given the fact that the Saudi minister said on ABC News last night that they were running out of light crude (the first admission I have heard) and that to meet redictions for 2020 they were going to have to find a lot more oil (which he said over the weekend) means that finally they are getting around to admitting that Simmons might be right.

8:17 AM  
Professor Blogger WHT said...

On _the_ ABC news? Not the one out of Australia? Wow, that's a turning point.

9:18 PM  
Professor Anonymous Ken B. said...

Both Bartlett and Gilchrist (or Gilchrest?) are Maryland Republicans. When I caught them on C-SPAN, they were the only participants.

3:38 PM  
Professor Blogger WHT said...

I went to Gilchrest's web site, saw loads of info on conservation and just assumed he was a Democrat. Thanks for clearing that up.

6:21 PM  

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