Renewable Energy Series: Biomass, The Dark Side Of The Singularity | Answers 1 day ago   06:41

Joe Scott
In the 2nd part of the renewable energy series, I discuss Biomass, Wave, and Tidal energy solutions.
NOTE: Yes, I put kwh when I meant twh. I suck.

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Tidal time lapse: On the Coast Photography

Tidal Barrage: Allaboutrenewables

Tidal Stream: Maygenuk

Dynamic Tidal Power: DPI Animation House


Biomass involves burning or extracting energy from biological material, like plant matter and organic waste, and yes, wood.

And while burning trees doesn’t sound that green, it is considered carbon neutral because the carbon in the plant matter was already a part of the carbon cycle, whereas fossil fuels release carbon that’s been sequestered in the ground for millions of years.

Now there are a lot of different types of biomass, from incinerators that burn the material to biofuel production that creates diesel for transportation to chemical processes to create usable methane, and they vary widely in their efficiency and sustainability.

So while it’s not the greenest energy source, it is a plentiful fuel that can provide base load electricity for local communities.

Now, if you live by the ocean, you’re familiar with the rhythmic pattern of waves crashing on the beach all day and night. There’s a lot of wave energy out there.

The idea is, the surface of the ocean is constantly bobbing and shifting from ocean waves, why not use that motion to generate energy?

It seems like a great idea. 71% of the world is covered by a constantly moving and oscillating ocean, harnessing that energy seems like a no-brainer.

Except nobody’s really figured it out.

There have been a lot of ideas that have been tested, but none of them have really produced enough to implement on a large scale.

In fact, the most efficient wave energy generators would require 25 kilometers of coastline to produce one gigawatt of energy.

And estimates have placed the worldwide wave energy potential at current technologies at 2 terawatt hours per year.

Staying in the ocean, a much better option is tidal energy.

Even though it does it day in and day out like clockwork, it is considered intermittent because there are lags between the tides going in and out where they’re not producing power.

So they call it intermittent but predictable.

Right now there are two types of tidal power systems, Tidal barrage and tidal stream generators.

Tidal barrage systems basically build a dam or bridge over the opening to bays and ports where tides rush in twice a day and capture that energy as it passes through the structure, turning turbines in the process.

Tidal stream generators are basically like wind turbines on the sea floor in areas where the moving tide will turn the turbines.

There is however a third type of tidal energy that hasn’t really been put into practice but holds a lot of potential called dynamic tidal power.

For this, we would build enormous 50km long dams that stick straight out from a coastline, forcing the oncoming tide to go through the structure and turn turbines.

This would work especially well in areas where the tide travels parallel with the coastline, such as southeast asia and northern Europe.

There are a few projects in the works to try this out, but this would be a massive engineering project.

The good thing about tidal power is it happens every day and it’ll never stop, and it’s effective even at low speeds.

They also have very long lifespans. The first one was build in La Rance in France in 1966 and it’s still working.

The downside is that it’s expensive, only works in certain areas, and the estimated worldwide potential is only 700 TWh a year. Again, we consume 21,000 so it’s not going to really move the needle.

But it can serve as a supplementary energy resource to the areas that can use it. Whether or not that is enough to spur investments necessary to build more tidal stations, we’ll see.

Comments 177 Comments

It's murder. Now breathe it. Real deep.
Ian Mansfield
What about kinetic? They implemented plates on our main street, coupled with small solar panels they power nearly all of our street lamps
Bernd Mayer
2 TW*h/yr=0.228 GW. ??
David McDonald
Biomethane/ Renewable Natural Gas changed a lot since UPS said made the largest purchase of it ever in May. There are scattered businesses Municipalities heavily invested in this. Topeka waste water to energy complete I think. Processing all the Smithfield Foods (Pork) waste they've installed series of anaerobic digesters Missouri. did you mention land-fill gas? Biogas maybe huge transition fuel.
Biomass the hemp pellet bound to be an issue now, quick growing vs. slow growth.
Alex Shugart
have you ever played subnautica? they have different ways for you to build a base and harvest energy and it would be interesting to see your take on the game
Enterprise CEO
What’s your opinion on ColdFusion
Philippe Santini
What about Tesla gyms?
Hook up all the machines to energy storage devices/systems.
Not sure about the math but every bit helps and all those spin classes would be packed if it meant saving on membership fees.
Just a random thought. ;)

P.s. we're having our roof done today and I'm disappointed that we can't afford to use the Tesla solar roofing tiles I read about a while back.
I live in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Unfortunately, we don't have any good subsidy programs to encourage switching to renewables. Hell, we don't even have any good gov programs for training technicians in the field of renewables.
Lol...longest "p.s." ever!
Lars Svenson
1.21 giggawatts!
Neil Blanchard
We can make biochar, and save as much of the black carbon and put it back in the soil; sinking it out of the air, and vastly improving the soil.

If we get methane from sewage, then the resulting effluent makes excellent fertilizer - so nothing goes to waste.

With a small amount of storage, tidal power would be quite viable.
Tim Noble
Joe, I have a friend who has patented a bladeless turbine powergen system. In conjunction with Herriot Watt University, Scotland. Originally designed to keep boats eleectrical systems charged, he has now scaled it up. I do not have efficiency figures but, basically, if there is water movement it will produce power. The issue I see is storing the electricity produced and on a large scale it cannot be relied upon to accommodate demand changes. BTW; I am Beelzebub's nephew, having spent my career in the oil and gas industry. Spent a couple of years at Exxon-Mobil HQ in Houston. For my penance, I now spend my time helping those people who have mental health and substance misuse problems as a result of adverse childhood experiences. When robots take all our jobs we will all have to switch to caring for other humans. Something the robots will not be able to do for a long time, if ever.
West Komer
Big problems with tidel energy is all the sea life it kills.
jim louis
Wave energy: AMERICA the BIG, a basis of our energy filosofy. Consider how very easy it wud be to make hydrogen with an up/down piston, the elec fully used at its origin. A small pump transfers the hydrogen thru a 3 stage compression, powered, of course, with hydrogen. When the tank is full, an automated 'truck' delivers an empty and pulls away with a full one . Now, times 500 and make it 200 little drop off back of boat piston generators. A lot of littles is big. What is a tractor trailer tank of hydrogen worth. the economy of scale, a rite size.
Maarten DJ
1:14 Tell me more about plants that incinerate leftover plant matter
The New Talker Guy
How about large scale farming of Algea? I was expecting you to cover this in detail because I've heard about it sporadically but haven't really heard much about it's real potential or new developments.
Daniel Alejandro
3:38 lmfao! Nuff said!
Quinton Beck
I am watching from the future. You don't seem to have remembered to link the third video.
Odysseus Mavrigata
I expected you to say: 'Biomass involves burning or extracting energy from biological sources like plant matter, organic waste and yes... people!'
Ron Ceilin
Actually, I've heard that biomass (particularly from wood) can be carbon negative - by using the ash as fertilizer to grow more plants. There's a great company that utilizes wood to create "wood gas" to be used in an electrical generator. Check out
David Kelley
kWh, Twh, nix, nox. I know you’re just beating the haters to the punch but don’t be so hard on yourself man, ya don’t suck...well you might but I have to assume that’s in private.
Dennis Goodayle
dont know why they dont catch the gas cumming from the sea floor as they say its so bad for the planet to just let it escape
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The Dark Side Of The Singularity | Answers Renewable Energy Series: Biomass, 1 day ago   13:38

Or... How To Not Be A Horse.
Automation and AI promise to usher in an era of amazing productivity and innovation. But they also threaten our very way of life.

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Tony Seba's talk about why transportation and energy will be obsolete by 2030:

Okuma Automation:

CNet News on the automated Amazon fulfillment centers:

Fully Charged - Self-Driving Nissan Leaf:

Partial Transcript:

For hundreds, even thousands of years, the horse was humanity’s go-to form of transportation. And in 13 years, that all changed.

Right now, we are on the cusp of a technological disruption that will make the switch from horses to cars look like switching from Coke to Pepsi.

So we talk a lot on this channel about exponential growth, artificial intelligence, the singularity, and that’s a lot of fun, but there is a dark side to all this change, one that really needs to be talked about because the way we respond to it is going to significantly alter our future as a species.

The BBC released a report just a few weeks ago that said that 30% of jobs are going to go away in the next 10 years because of automation.

In the U.S., we’ve heard a lot over the last election about the proverbial coal miners and our current president specifically campaigning to bring back coal jobs.

But coal is just one of hundreds of industries that are taking advantage of employees that can work 24/7, never need a bathroom break, never sleep, never make a mistake and work twice as fast. Oh, and you don’t have to pay them.

Factories already decimated by outsourcing are now losing even more jobs to automation. And as automation becomes more sophisticated, more industries are at risk.

The transportation sector actually makes up 25% of the jobs in the United States, if you can believe that. A full quarter of the population. And autonomous cars… They’re pretty much here, guys.

Famously, the Tesla Model 3, going into production this year, will have autonomous capability, though it may not have the software available, it will have the hardware ready for it.

But less famously, there are a lot of other car companies trying to beat Tesla to market with this. Nissan has a fully self-driving prototype in development that they took a drive in on Fully Charged and it was spooky how good it was.

Cadillac is so bullish on self-driving technology, they spent millions of dollars to create a lidar map of every highway in the United States using their own proprietary system.

This way their cars won’t just rely on sensors and GPS to find their way, the Cadillac system will contain a 3D map of everything, including the roadsigns.

Google’s working on a car, Apple supposedly is working on a car, but the people who are really big on this technology are the service providers.

Uber made over 2 billion dollars last year. Imagine how much they could make if they didn’t have to pay their drivers...

Uber has been working for years on a transportation fleet of autonomous cars, and even Ford has made some intentions known of pivoting in a similar direction.

Many are predicting that cars will go from a retail industry to a service industry, with Peter Diamandis saying that in ten years, car ownership will be an outdated idea.

The fact of the matter is, you can be for automation or against it, you can agree with its use or not, but this is happening. And we need to be ready for it.

Some people are talking about a basic minimum income, a flat amount of money that everybody in a society makes, as a safety net to keep people above water. This is an interesting idea that’s even being tested in some places.

There is a coming change on a fundamental and massive level in this world. One that is filled with amazing advancements and technological wonders. The question is, will we be able to change with it?

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