Friday, January 29, 2016

Solyndra, Brilliant Technology Lost in the Abyss of Poorly Structured Federal Energy Legislation

The fundamental truth behind a truly expansive industrial free market economy is the realization that all industrial mechanisms needed to fulfill the total obligations of that market economy must be clearly known, fully understood and actually put into place before that whole economy can expect to  work as a whole economy.

As market based economic development today in 2011 must include a most comprehensive understanding of all aspects of "emerging 21st century advanced energy management technologies", unfortunately today in 2011, none of this is actually taking place. In scattered bits and pieces, in disjointed, politically one sided arguments for one type of energy technology and against another, the much larger and all conclusive non-argument must ultimately be acted upon. As all of these technologies make up the core mechanisms that must control and coordinate the growth of our whole 21st century, mixed energy use industrial infrastructure, they in turn make up the core mechanisms of the economic infrastructure that needs to be in place for that industrial infrastructure to be built in the first place. Simply put, we as a nation cannot, will not and should not expect any form of sustained economic growth until a broad and comprehensive re-industrialization initiative is put in place.

As what we are now learning about the Obama administration is that in spite of it's otherwise very positive intentions pertaining to the development of alternative energy technologies, pursuing the collective growth of these technologies has been done through a very narrowly focused environmental and economic lense. Unfortunately, as that lense has been embellished by unnecessarily complex and one sided federal funding regulation, the vast array of new energy ideas that should be free to flourish unhindered by such over bearing economic constraints sit hopelessly dormant. Yet, regardless of whether those ideas are related to the advanced technological harvesting of energy from oil or the sun, the fact that any form of political or federal favoritism towards one energy sector as opposed to another exists, belies the larger point that all of these energy sectors must coexist at the very same level of advanced environmental and economic thought. We simply cannot have one without the other.

The failed upstart company Solyndra, funded almost exclusively by federal loan guarantees, not only did not produce the economic momentum clearly needed to launch our nation (and this company) into the forefront of global leadership in the "green energy sector", but in turn, served to continue the great interpersonal political rift between democrats and republicans nationwide. As this rift is primarily about the role the federal government should play in nurturing the growth of new, green national energy policies, hand picking certain technologies (and companies) to fund while ignoring the potential of other technologies goes to the much larger issue that the federal government should not be in the business of selecting technologies to invest in but instead, be strictly and creatively and solely in charge of assuring that all technologies related to energy production are balanced in and of themselves so that "everyone else can invest in them".

This essay is one of a series of essays designed to impart a rather complex nationwide industrial, economic and educational set of conversations. As these conversations are most certainly about assuring green energy technologies enter into our whole mixed energy use industrial marketplace, the manner in which they are able to do so is crucial to understand. Thus my essay on developing nationwide mixed energy use micro-public utility grids while at the same time developing mixed energy public transportation grids is part of this larger national conversation.

As public education is perhaps the most crucial aspect of our entire national energy dialogue, outlining and defining the framework of this public education dialogue is another essay.

As refunding (or refinancing) our national public education system is clearly needed, how mixed energy use, regionally based industrial regulation will allow for this funding to materialize is yet another essay. Finally, with our entire nationwide stock of homes, commercial and industrial buildings in need of substantial, highly technological, mixed energy use retrofitting, how will the establishment of truly substantive nationwide mixed energy building codes not only support a most sustainable/substantial nationwide building reconstruction initiative, but in turn create an unprecedented redefinition of both real property valuation and progressive mortgage lending based upon that 21st century real property valuation? You can find a link to this combined essay here.

As what must come about immediately in our whole national economic growth dialogue is an accompanying whole industrial dialogue as well as a whole public and private sector funding dialogue, I attempt in these essays to put something quite complex into definably less complex terms.

As the brilliance of Solyndra's (CIGS) thin-film technology has been its ability to successfully convert energy from direct, diffuse and reflected sunlight into electricity over its 360-degree photovoltaic surface and that brilliance enables a broad spectrum of architectural applications throughout America, the unfortunately wrong conclusion on the part of the government was to place the economic potential of this particular technology into direct competition with the economic potential of flat silicone panels that fundamentally have an entirely different technological function as that function is applied to the same or different architectural applications throughout America.

In other words, just as oil is refined to meet the consumption needs of a vast array of industries and associated technologies, solar energy technology must also be refined to successfully compete and grow within its own energy sector as well as effectively merge with other energy sectors. Thus, for our government to be involved in any manner other than assuring these technologies are regulated for "basic truth in advertisement" within the much broader framework of how all energy technologies must be regulated to assure environmental and economic cohabitation is, in our 21st green industrial century, a virtual assault on the intelligence of all (corporations) who could and should be free to build and weave their multi-faceted (corporate) technologies into complex and highly sophisticated, regionally and locally based, multi-energy source public utility grids. As the only (and I might add substantially diverse) federal level regulatory control of these multi-dimensional utility grids is to assure a tremendously accurate, reliable rate of clean production, delivery, end use and recycled use and perpetual maintenance of the end corporate energy product and accompanying corporate service(s) related to such corporate product(s), the federal governments role must be solely that of a manager.

Getting back to Solyndra for a moment, and its' brilliance in creating 360 degree solar generation and in turn viewing the brilliance of flat panel solar technology. The fact of the matter is this simple; virtually every home in America has a spot on its roof where 360 degree solar technology could be applied. In the same breath, virtually every home in America also has a spot on its roof where flat panel solar technology could be applied. This is not only true of solar technology, but it is equally true of natural gas technology as it is true of vertical axis wind turbine technology as it is true of horizontal axis wind turbine technology as it is true of multiple applications of geothermal technology. Regardless of the technology, virtually every home in America has a physical space within its architectural footprint that enables multiple uses of multiple energy technologies to interact collectively within that footprint. As this is true for every home, it is equally true for every retail storefront, every office building, distribution warehouse and every factory housed within any piece of architecture existing in our collective United States of America.

Having said this, If a virtual kaleidoscope of energy based public utility architectural technologies were applied to every piece of American architecture, an equally diverse kaleidoscope of new building trades would emerge to expand these public utility technologies into the private sector marketplace in the process. This is not a fanciful (or fantasy filled) statement. As at the core of this statement lies the root cause of our nations' current housing and building industry economic collapse, it is perfectly clear to all who have any association whatsoever with these industries that American architecture by and large is at the very least, a redundant essay on the failure of our federal government to establish an advanced set of public utility blueprints that truly allow the building professionals of America to compete globally with their European and Asian counterparts when it comes to building state of the art, technologically advanced American architecture that wholly integrates 21st century energy management technologies into virtually every single one of our buildings.

As the dialogue here is about moving the technologies of a vast array of energy management theories into the realm of actualization - into the realm of the average American - into the realm of tangible investment potential - into the realm of doing as opposed to talking about doing, it is important to understand that micro-public utility models applied to American architecture or clusters of architectural buildings found in thousands of existing American sub or micro-neighborhoods that comprise larger towns or cities be understood as being the benchmark from which full and comprehensive mixed use energy infrastructure has the only real chance to grow and prosper.

With the great failure of the Obama administration to move virtually any form of green energy legislation forward and towards a relatively commonplace national economic dialogue and at a time when it is obvious to virtually every American that such legislative dialogue must indeed move forward, one has to ask why a supposedly intelligent collection of environmental, legal and financial experts have had virtually no impact on igniting the flame of free market excitement over the growth of green or indeed mixed use energy infrastructure here in our America in 2011.

An answer to this puzzling, mixed use energy policy conundrum is really quite simple.

As virtually every aspect of our nation's energy/public utility infrastructure is now and has been growing more and more obsolete for the past fifty years, the notion of applying the technology Solyndra manufactures or the technology any other solar manufacturer offers to this utility infrastructure is most certainly doable and quite valid, but only within the constraints of it's isolated technological capacity.

At the top end of our monolithic national energy/public utility pyramid remains of course an expected and (somewhat) reliable dependency upon fossil fuels, yet even with the most sound environmental, technological and economic management of fossil fuels, there are tremendous constraints on these energy sources as well. Yet attempting to integrate the green nature of solar, wind, geothermal and the like at this top end does virtually nothing to either environmentally or economically advance the greater potential of either fossil or green energy sources. Thus, the perpetual argument of all who represent a specific energy source as one that must compete with another energy source altogether fails to realize that within our collective 21st century industrial evolution, entirely new and dynamic economic opportunities arise when all energy sources are purposely isolated from one another and each energy source has very clearly defined parameters from which that energy source must function economically on it's own before it is allowed vivid, technologically managed cohabitation with all other energy sources.

As the above model of deliberate isolation of energy sources has as it's end goal the immediate and significant potential of creating wide spread and indeed massive consumer demand, the overarching reality of what today is being put forth to the American consumer via the Obama administration, which is the notion that eventually highly complex, federally funded and constructed public utility infrastructure will help them economically is entirely pointless.

Unfortunately, the reason why this incredibly narrow federally funded viewpoint is fundamentally pointless is the failure to realize that  as all of the additional components that make solar (or any other energy technology) work by itself or in integration with all other forms of energy production, generation, distribution and usage must first be installed not on a few acres of worthless California desert test grounds, but literally on the homes of  homeowners who live in virtually every environmental region of our United States of America, not only must this be done nationwide, but it must be done on a mass scale that includes virtually every piece of architecture located within that region before any industrial and/or economic and/or job growth in any energy sector and on any viable or measurable nationwide economic scale can or will be realized..

In other words, as the Obama administration has become obsessed with inventing the perfect green infrastructure model, it has done so on the premise that federal money will continue to fall quite magically from the sky and in doing so award the likes of upstart companies such as Solyndra with a set of wonderfully half ass federal funding initiatives and an equally half baked industrial recipe as to what Solyndra might actually be able to do with the meager amount of federal dollars the federal government actually has in it's hopelessly in arrears, federal savings account. While this might sound humorous, the fact of the matter is infrastructure is infrastructure and with every generation of new technological invention that broadens the definition of infrastructure, the definition of how to finance whole infrastructure improvement becomes equally broad. But as we are now a nation poised to integrate a vast array of technologies that manage an equally vast array of energy sources, the manner in which we as a nation bring these technologies on line does not have to be as complicated as either futily waiting for two to three decades before solar cell technology is priced competitively with any other form of energy management technology or foolishly expecting the federal government to subsidize a particular energy sectors' economic growth if and when either member of two redundantly opposed political parties agree. When all energy technologies are essentially public infrastructure technologies, they are as well public infrastructure utilities that when fully and properly structured can be invested in by the stockholders, employees and homeowners who are involved in the ultimate manufacturing, use and maintenance of this whole body of energy technologies right now, today, here in 2011 as opposed to some hopelessly obscure time in 2033.

In order to actually activate all of these energy technologies simultaneously, a strict code of multi-use energy discipline must be applied uniformly across the entire spectrum of energy sources now available to us in our whole United States of America. As no singular expert who works in any of multiple and varied and cumulatively dynamic energy sectors has ever really taken the time to actually look at how coal per se can interact with wind energy for the mutual benefit of both industries, the question becomes; what would such an ambitious 21st century energy blueprint look like if in fact someone actually did?

To tackle the question above, consider the possibility that such a scenario is really not all that difficult to figure out especially when we take the time to understand one basic engineering principle - "every energy source has it's "economic melting point" or perhaps more precisely, it's "environmental merging point with other sources of energy".

The technology of solar can only go so far in it's capacity to sustain "collective energy co-efficiency" before recognizing it's need for help from a much larger family of energy sources.

As it is virtually impossible for solar energy technology to produce enough electrical generation to consistantly provide all of the power needed to truly operate all of the electrical devices found within a truly advanced technology 21st century home, it is economically counter productive to assume that natural gas or any other individual fossil fuel source can or should be able to do the same. As it is (due to constantly fluctuating temperature) virtually impossible for solar energy to provide the year round passive or active heating needs of a home in Vermont, it is economically redundant to assume that natural gas or fuel oil or propane can do any better in and of itself(s). Yet once the two energy sources are combined, they immediately produce a much more non stressful energy and economic environment for one another as well as the consumer who lives in that home. If natural gas knows that solar will relieve it's energy load and vice a versa within the architectural footprint of any given building, excess capacity from either energy source can be diverted to other buildings that are perhaps experiencing either more or less energy stress. This economic cohabitation of multiple energy sources is then the measure of where each energy source reaches it's negative economic melting point and thus meets it's proactive economic and environmental merging point with other sources of energy.

As the greatest industrial and economic as well environmental calamity in our nation's early 21st industrial century is clearly thus far, the obsessive socially oriented bickering among our collective experts in hopelessly separated and nationally estranged environmental and energy fields and as the cause for such bickering is fundamentally about who is bigger and better, who is environmentally conscious and who is not and/or who (in quite the absurd fashion) is more morally bound to idealisms that mean virtually nothing to our nation's much larger and urgent 21st century industrial imperative, who or what ideal (they represent?) will get the most federal funding to improve their or its' isolated vision of individual infrastructure is then, meaningless.  But, as single source energy infrastructure development is proving quite clearly to be well beyond the funding capacity of either the private or public sector, multi-source energy infrastructure development simply eliminates our national counter-productive and indeed industrially negative emotional response to these funding problems while at the same time, generates an enormously broad social momentum devoted entirely to multi-source energy sector job creation.

In both the manufacturing sectors charged with producing and the on site construction sectors associated with installing "multiple energy sector technologies", the greater and historically positive and progressive American industrial social principle of "economic co-habitation" or simple "United American Industrial Teamwork" remains as the benchmark from which we as all Americans can all actually turn our now misguided and negative industrial emotions into a vast array of clearly positive emotional and economic outcomes. In addition, this same cohabitating set of industrial principles leads directly to technological management of information technologies required to produce multiple energy sector coordination in every bit the same manner as it leads to the direct establishment of both public and private sector education and training models.

To put the above paragraph into perspective, please consider this:

While natural gas is clearly one of the cleanest fossil fuels on (or inside of) our planet, getting that natural gas via pipeline from where it is drilled and where it is used is quite costly in and of itself. But, the moment the cost associated with the installation of that pipeline is shared by the cost of installing the infrastructure of solar, wind and geothermal, multi-capacity infrastructure development turns immediately to multi-capacity job creation and multi-capacity investment and investment return in and from the multi-capacity infrastructure being installed.

When one really thinks about the above statement for awhile, it is easy to realize that the capacity we as a nation have to benefit financially from such infrastructure co-development is virtually astounding. Thinking just for a moment about the single goal of installing the single infrastructure for a single source of energy all across America, think about this. How many household appliances actually require the consumption of natural gas? The answer is relatively simple, there is the furnace needed for heating our homes, the dryer for drying clothes, the hot water tank we retrieve water to bathe in and the stove and oven needed for cooking our food. That's about it. Yet, the very moment we place an entirely new technological need for natural gas into our broader national mixed use energy equation, an entirely new definition of mixed use energy infrastructure emerges.

Obviously in our nation's current economic environment, very few homeowners can either afford to replace their old energy inefficient furnace anymore than they can afford to replace their ancient clothes dryer or stove and oven or water tank. Even if Americans nationwide were living in an economy that was thriving, the fact of the matter is that upgrading the furnace or the clothes dryer does not justify the cost associated with constructing a nationwide natural gas infrastructure to supply the fuel needed for these appliances to actually do their job. The simple math of diminishing returns simply applies and as it does, in no time, it becomes abundantly clear that natural gas development does not in the end, pay for itself without enormous federal government subsidizing. As too much government subsidizing of virtually every energy sector(including green as in "Solyndra") has already brought our nation to a virtual economic halt, it is fairly obvious that buying furnaces and clothes dryers designed to operate solely on either natural gas or electric probably won't solve any of the varied and massive structural economic problems facing our nation here at the close of 2011.

So, if federal funding of separate or "single source" public utility energy infrastructure isn't working, what might be the outcome if instead of a too narrowly focused federal policy on public utility infrastructure funding, federal regulation of a truly mixed use national energy policy were to be put in place?

If, instead of the federal government buying into or showing undue favoritism towards a particular new energy technology all energy technologies were properly placed into new and dynamic micro models of public utility infrastructure, what would the overall economic outcome be on the one hand, and, on the other, what would such an advanced 21st Century Industrial Infrastructure Blueprint actually look like?

Let me suggest the following:

If we know (and we do) that production and distribution of natural gas has a limited economic shelf life within the constraints of our twentieth century single use industrial and economic infrastructure model as that model pertains to supplying this gas to our nation's immense collection of buildings that make up neighborhoods, towns and cities, what happens when within our 21st century infrastructure model, natural gas is freed up to leave home?

The answer to this question is really quite exciting.

Knowing (as we do) that virtually no one in America can continue to afford to purchase appliances powered by natural gas without also being employed in the industries that manufacture natural gas appliances, the answer to the question above clearly becomes a threefold question in and of itself;

Question Number One

When and how does a stationary natural gas appliance grow wheels?

Question Number Two

When that natural gas appliance leaves the homeowners garage on wheels, does that vehicle enter into the realm of new public utility transportation infrastructure?

Question Number Three

If the infrastructure is on wheels, then doesn't it appear somewhat obvious that we as a nation have created a substantially new public highway improvement funding mechanism?

I will explore my version of these questions in my next essay entitled:

Our Next American
Public Utility
Infrastructure Model

Thanks for stopping by,

Curriculum vitae

Please take the time to visit some of my other essays.

Restructuring Public Utility Industrial Demand Response.

House Flipping, Gentrification and Gun Control in..... ..A Green America?

Transforming Redundant Affirmative Action To Green Affirmative Action In America

Interior Urban Networks and Sustainable Chicago 2015

The National Movement toward Green Urban Renewal Takes a Turn to the Country to Pick Up a Few Tomatoes.

COP21 Obama's Great Green Socioeconomic Blunder

Is The Great Recession Really Over? 

Connecting The Industrial Dots Of Neighborhood Based Economic Revitalization

Pension Reform: Welcome To Illinois, If You Don't Like It, Leave

Wind Powered Solar Oil Wells

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