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Co-locating Alternative Energy ResourcesRoger Butow Salem-News,.com
Helping To Offset Increasing Energy Demands In The Water World...
(LAGUNA BEACH, CA) - Everyone knows the mantra regarding the fiscal benefits of real estate purchases: Location Location Location. All around the world, the pursuit of alternative sources is growing. We could solve the riddle over where we’ll find the energy supplies for advanced water treatment systems (AWTS) if we recalibrate, readjust our mindset in America as they’ve done elsewhere.
Here in California, the double whammy of climate change and unquenchable thirst for water due to increasing population are in a crisis stage. Not 10 years out, as some blithely warn. We’re already showing symptoms of hazardous stress today.
In reality, not only are many of our states on the verge of an H2O version of intensive care, but it’s also become a global issue. Solutions are out there in the form of emerging technologies.
Yes, they’re usually for profit corporate ventures, but when you’re on an planet with a diminishing, non-renewable resource like water, are you going to begrudge capitalistic incentive, a tithe if your life's at stake?
Co-location of highly efficient and mass-producing natural energy sources other than polluting gas, coal or oil seems a no-brainer. Many of the regions already affected or on the verge have the solar and/or wind power dynamics to offset, even fulfill the total demands for their locale. It should be noted that these “rations” (prevailing wind and/or sun) replenish themselves continuously. They’re perpetual motion machines.
So let’s borrow that property value metric, tweak it a skoshi, and use Co-location Co-location Co-location instead. There are not only energy cost savings but ecological alternative mitigation factors that co-location can provide.
Aggressive pursuit of co-located facilities is progressing worldwide, yet America inexplicably hasn’t moved as rapidly or as proactively. This is a case where environmental protectionists might be too conservative and are holding up the general population from the benefits that co-location offers.
Then too the fiscal advantages perhaps haven’t been properly explained or presented to taxpayers or other potential subsidizers of public/private partnerships. Lack of informative, public education and awareness elements need remediation as well.
Viewing maps and graphs, whether global or that provided for California, note how many regions have abundant solar and wind potential. They are many times the most arid, hence the increasing alarm.
Factored into the equation is another simple variable: About 40% of the world’s population lives within 100 km (about 60 miles) of the coast.
This can be a plus regarding co-location: AWTS, whether for irrigation reuse or potable purposes, are beginning to avail themselves of either stand alone wind or solar, or a combination along some international coastlines. Cyprus and Australia, out of sheer necessity and desperation, are having at it enthusiastically as I mentioned in a previous column.
Ditto for desalination as I noted too. Remember that desalination isn’t always drafting oceanic from offshore sub-surface intakes, but many times involves slant drill wells along coasts that burrow under the sand.
The estuaries (mixing zones of fresh and ionic) have aquifers beneath them that are sometimes robust in size. Often, the lower reaches of many creeks and rivers near their respective points of discharge into the sea are enormously efficient collectors, basically large subterranean bathtubs that refill constantly.
One beneficiary of co-location here in California would be the now ubiquitous waste treatment facilities along the coast. Presently, only some are configured, were built or improved as AWTS.
Instead of discharging large volumes of still partially contaminated effluent from their ocean outfall pipes post treatment, the reduction of energy costs could make a significant difference in all phases of budgeting. Not just to the operating and maintenance expenditures but eventually to ratepayers.
Via retrofitting upgrades or alterations, there is hope that we could both produce less eco-waste AND create cheaper, more self-sufficient facilities. Co-location is a quadruple threat, possibly provide warm ventilation, hot water, electricity for large complexes and still export offsite or earn credits.
Secondary beneficiaries would be the desalination strategists. Viewing the maps, many inland areas are showing significant drought impacts for an unforeseeable future timeline projection.
If you didn’t know it, you should be aware: In many of those landlocked areas seeking water sources the salinity and presence of difficult to remove metals, etc. in the groundwater are a tremendous filtration and treatment challenge.
Energy demands can be the bubble or wedge issue. Co-location could lower or outright supply the power needed to reduce and/or remove unwanted ingredients. Whether inland or coastal, lowering energy costs by installing alternatives that could power even small electronic devices now presently hard-wired into local utility grids can be done. The larger the supplementary system, the lower allocation costs for operation and maintenance accruing reliable mid to major sized infrastructure.
In the case of coastal desalination, especially areas like chronically sunny So Cal, you’ve got oodles of solar potential. The wind on our coast is unfortunately inconstant or ephemeral, but many of our inland passes do experience the increased acceleration from the Venturi Effect---High volumes trying to pass through confined or narrower spaces. Unfortunately, they wouldn’t be a guaranteed reliable source, though solar would. They could however supplement or augment the local grid.
In the case of No Cal, while on my recent trip to the Bay area, its wine country and Mendocino coast exhibited wind potential in plentitude. Up there a combination might work best, keeping in mind the usually socked in foggy coast.
The inland communities, where it blows hardest and most consistently have more sunny days than the coast or San Francisco Bay, already have many of these wind generators dotting the hills. Go to the Livermore area and look where they are ubiquitous poster children.
It's no wonder they in the Bay area look to the south in disdain, as that drooling relative usually kept in the attic with a chamber pot. Plus we've been stealing THEIR water for almost 100 years. They were willing, unlike us, to literally give ground, make a tough turf tradeoff---Literally give up some assured property tax space to invest their community with clean, safe and renewable energy sources. Give up some probable human habitat in the form of a subdivision for an energy source with basically only upfront costs.
And I looked and looked, there ARE migrational and foraging critters, apparently without an abnormal number of eyes, not to mention a great deal of grassland, open space greenery all around sites I observed. If the alternatives seem few, then I refer you to POGO. When faced with the choice of two options, choose the third. Unless the two are SF boyz Blue Cheer and Tommy Tutone. Then can I have the blindfold and funny cigarette please, mein zugsführer?
While hiking around the nearby Brushy Peak Regional Preserve, I couldn’t help but flash back to the adjacent, infamous Altamont Speedway history. Altamont Pass has beaucoup prevailing bluster that I experienced outdoors in winter, back when. Unlike many who claim they were there, I actually attended that ill-fated free Rolling Stones concert at Altamont on December 6, 1969. Robin Williams purportedly exclaimed: “If you remember the 60s you weren’t there.” Maybe too much Bolivian Dummy Dust for you and John Belushi, eh Robbie?
I was not only there, that cold damp start to freezing finish (dawn to well past dusk), but in spite of the psychedelics I ingested unfortunately have a very clear memory of that miserable, poorly planned fiasco. I was in the Marines in 1967, so I couldn’t attend the Monterey Pop Festival and thought hippies to be peacefully amusing curiosities. Altamont turned out to be the dark bookend to Woodstock held only 4 months previous, the end of the innocents.
The pilot demonstration projects I alluded to in a previous column do reflect the best of all worlds: Co-locating solar and/or wind generators adjacent to, or on the property of any type of communal facility, whether it's desalination, groundwater drafting or AWTS, a library, city hall, airport, train station, shopping center or a courthouse are here.
No distant ship on the horizon, but right here, right now. Some up and operating are not only self-sufficient but supplement local supplies. Some even create their own local grid network, thus leaving more for areas not as accommodating. This isn't a Flash Gordon fantasy episode.
It’s not far-fetched to believe though a minor irritant to the aesthetic eye, we’ll be seeing more commercial and communal installations featuring rooftop or field arrays, more windmill turbines and more individual residential hot water heating panels. Whether as slave units that supplement, or as primary sources, we can’t afford not to ignite our think tank burners and initiate launch soon.
America may not be manufacturing and exporting like it did once upon a time, maybe never will again-----but we should be leading, not following the forward march in technological fields: Especially ones obviously critical to our nation’s future health and wealth.
Bio-reactor landfills are also on a fast-track regarding renewable energy systems. The bad news is that they require a lot of water, whether aerobic, anaerobic or hybrid (combination of the two). The good news is that they actually run more efficiently if it's organically-laden waste water like that from a food processing plant or (well what do you know?) a human waste treatment plant. Just like their solar cousins, if co-located, they are capable of producing excess electricity for exportation.
Most waste treatment plants discharge into receiving waters (streams, lakes or the ocean) under strict USEPA guidance permits, yet those regulatory metrics are many times not tertiary but more akin to reclaimed or only secondary level. USEPA grants waivers (319 h), partial exemptions for extreme circumstances, so here's a potential source that re-uses, recycles and actually reduces pollution.
I will grant critics given the facts around bio-reactors, the odors and dangers of contained, volatile gases needing close monitoring and physical containment of contaminates are daunting. And once again, location location location, I'd be remiss in not mentioning the sheer amount of space the sites will require. If co-located, purchase or build-out into property adjacent to waste treatment plants will be required. An alternative would be the piping, the exportation from high volume food processing AND waste treatment plants to bio-reactor facilities in the boondocks.
Groundwater leaching is still proving to be a challenge, but once again, consider the amount of "wasted waste" we literally dump, as a country generate in enormous quantities. Not just physical garbage but waste water. These minuses can, like lemons, be turned into co-location energy lemonade. Our nation, so consumer orientated yet waste-generating, of necessity must be in the forefront.
Our Preamble reads in part “promote the general welfare.” Experimental fusion power technologies offer tremendous, innumerable advantages over dangerous and accident-prone nuclear fission, but we’re not there yet scientifically. Let’s honor our inspiring Founding Father’s invocation by starting with increasingly assertive co-location strategies before we have few if any viable options left.
FYI: If a project near you has some interesting enviro-aspect(s) that you think is/are worthy of Salem-News.com coverage and our readers attention, feel free to contact me with a very brief synopsis. Water-related “Blue Interventions” are my specialty!
_________________________________Launched in 2010, Odd Man Out is the creation of Roger Bütow and his OMO columns are written exclusively for Salem-News-com. Born and raised in the LA Harbor area, son of a German immigrant father, he moved to Orange County in 1965 and has lived in Laguna Beach since 1972. In 1998, he began his professional career in environmental review processes (CEQA, NEPA, MND, MND and EIR/EIS). He's a rare mix of cross-trained builder, writer and consultant as he brings his extensive construction experiences dating back to 1972 into his eco-endeavors. He has tremendous field and technical expertise in successful watershed restorations, plus wastewater, urban runoff, water quality monitoring/improvements and hydrologic mechanisms. He's built everything from commercial spas to award-winning private residences, and provided peer review and consultant analyses for single homes, subdivisions and upscale resorts.
His resumé is extensive, try an online GOOGLE search of his personal journey and historical accomplishments. His consultation fees are reasonable and if you've got a major project that alarms you, that needs creative intervention, then he's your man. His credentials and "CV" can be provided upon request.
Contact him at his office: (949) 715.1912 or drop him an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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