Identify the Competition;
but first ask these Questions
What is the Criteria for a 'Competitor'?
On June 26, 2009 the US House passed a bill HR-2454 aka Cap & Trade which will change the energy
landscape in this country. In response to that we're looking at CO2 as an important criterion
for determining who our competition is. Up until now it was our opinion that providing cost effective
energy was sufficient to attract customers in a "If you build it they will come." sort of way.
With thoughts of Carbon Dioxide guiding the thought process, this short essay will help to identify who we
are competing with for the customers energy dollars.
What Does the Customer Want?
Our customer wants electricity, electricity is still the most versatile form of energy, easily converted to
every other form of energy. While there is electricity in nature, we, humanity, can't harness it
yet. Lightning, and the planetary electromagnetic field, might someday be harnessed, but for the time
being *all* electricity is produced from some other primary or secondary source of energy.
Electricity is a Manufactured Product
And the machine that manufactures most of the electricity is the generator. Generators convert
mechanical energy into electricity, and they do it very efficiently, >90% is an easily achieved level of
performance. Devices that convert chemical energy directly to electricity are well known; batteries and
fuel cells. Since with the exception of coal, oil, and natural gas, it's is important to point out that
there is very little chemical energy to be found in the environment.
Mechanical Energy is the Preferred Intermediate
For fixed generation installations from tiny 500W Honda portable camping generators to multi-hundred
megawatt monsters from GE, Westinghouse, Siemens, etc... the classic wire wound generator carrying from 2
to 24 poles is the device of choice based on the speed and torque characteristics of the prime mover.
A quick look at Prime Movers
Low speed came first. Water wheels and wind mills are still with us; moving on. High speed
started with steam engines and then moved to internal combustion engines, and finally on to turbines both gas
Clean or Dirty? -- A quick look at Primary Energy
CO2 is it the arch-demon of the 21st century, if you believe, and Al Gore is the modern
Torquemada ("No one expects the Spanish Inquisition! -- Monty Python). Whether you believe or not, we can
analyze certain aspects of energy and place each on the clean or dirty side as it relates to the total
atmospheric concentration of the gas. We'll leave "truth and meaning" to the philosophers.