Thursday, October 14, 2010

Tidal Power

A recent news story, Catching Waves, details how a new green energy source seeks to capture untapped energy sources in oceans and rivers.

The potential for harnessing ocean waves, currents and tides to produce electricity is vast.

The technical potential for ocean wave power in the U.S. is 90,000 MW, according to estimates by the Electric Power Research Institute. If the U.S. adopted a national renewable energy standard of 25 percent, more than 13,000 MW of that potential could be realized by 2025, according to a study by Navigant Consulting.

Up to 10,000 MW could be feasibly extracted from the swift currents off the coast of Florida, according to Florida Atlantic University’s Center for Ocean Technology.

Ocean Power Technologies (OPT) is working hard to monetize some of this potential."

Here is an interactive on how one form of it could work.

One great thing about tidal energy -- if it can be made feasible -- is that the tides always flow, unlike the wind or solar energy. The biggest hurdles are startup capital and salt corrosion. There is also some issue with prevention of harm to marine life. However, this is a power source that needs exploring.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Machiavellian Economics

Here is a great video for discussion:

OK, some thoughts on this video:

At about the 6:00 mark, the speaker talks about the system as a "Ponzi scheme." I think this is inaccurate. I think it is more accurate to describe it as "parasitical." I think this is a more accurate way of thinking about it as those who loan money live off of the production of others. Granted, a Ponzi finance system is a very simple parasitical system where either one person, or a small group, feeds off of the production of other "investors." But the relationship between banks and lenders isn't purely a Ponzi system (it can be symbiotic, believe it or not).

At about the 6:30 mark, the speaker remarks that "people are realizing their debt slavery condition." I am not so sure. They might have a really good sense that something is wrong; but I think we are at a point where a straw man or red herring can be successfully employed.

At a little before the 11:00 minute mark, the speaker talks about "return on capital." This works as long as people pay back their debts. However, herein lies the risk. If the debt is not paid back, who suffers the risk of loss? On the one hand, (in theory) the holders of capital lose (because they lose their expected return and any capital that is not repaid). What they get in return, however, is control of any land or assets used as capital. Even if money is lost, power is gained (which I thought was his point based on the title referencing Machiavelli -- i.e. "power is it's own reward").