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New $25 Round of funding for low cost solar power

Chapter 22 – Who Controls The Media?
Traditional media is not authentic. … It wants you to buy something or pretend that it cares. – Arianna Huffington 5/2012

I used to read Business Week magazine for about twenty years in the 1980s through 2000s. That was where I learned a lot about the business world in the USA and globally. Then one day I found out how Business Week makes money to stay in business from my MBA class. The media makes money from subscriptions and advertising. In fact television and radio get their money primarily from advertising. That is why the broadcasts from TV and radio on public airwaves are free of charge to consumers.

One day I read an article in Business Week about electric ears. To my amusement, the car advertisements that are common in the magazine were totally absent in the next week’s edition. That was about 15 years ago. I realized corporations who buy advertisements on TV, radio, and printed news influence and control the agendas of the media – what gets published or broadcasted and what doesn’t.

On TV, for example, we are constantly bombarded with drug companies’ advertisements about treating all kinds of illness from high blood pressure, colds, high cholesterol, arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, etc. Why is it we don’t hear how to prevent the disease to begin with? Is it that difficult to be healthy, even into the age of our 90s. Many doctors have told us that the best medicine is prevention and the best preventive medicine the food we eat (Dr. Joel Fuhrman). Why do some people live well even in their 90’s? Is it simply good genes?

Science has proven that a balanced diet, regular aerobic exercise, a positive attitude, and a good social life give us the best chance to stay healthy and that gene expression can be influenced by diet and those life styles.

Now that you know the news you get is often biased, you should balance your views with alternate sources such as books, PBS, NPR and the internet.

Our modern economy used to be carbon-based, or rather wood-based for centuries until we discovered the use of petroleum decades ago. This helped fuel the industrial revolution and automation. As you know it created side effects such as dirty emissions from power plants, refineries, and automobiles.

If we want a clean environment and to end dependency on foreign oil, we must find other means. However, the global oil companies such as Exxon-Mobil, Shell, etc., are constantly influencing the media and public polices through lobbies and misinformation. The supply chain of the oil economy from producers, oil extraction/refinery equipment manufacturers, refineries, gas stations to auto manufacturers make their profits from selling what they have – oil, oil based refined products, and petro-based cars and trucks. For them, there is little incentive to change the status quo.

If you look deeper, by following the flow of money, you will see that our government, education, medical industry, foreign policy and industrial policies are controlled by global corporations, which also control the media with their advertising dollars, control the education through research grants and donations, and control the medical healthcare system through the promise of repeat customers by selling treatments and drugs.
We don’t have healthcare, we have disease care. – Dr. Joseph Maroon, Neurosurgeon

The medical doctors are trained to prescribe medications and treatments, not cures. That is why for more than 40 years of cancer research, we still have no vaccines for most cancers. In fact, that is how hospitals make more money – from repeat customers.

If you understand this, then you may say “So what, what can I do about it?” Well, I have been researching for a few years, and found that your diet is the best medicine. Not just any diet, of course. The diet I prefer is not exotic or expensive. It is simply high fiber, low fat and low sugar. More than 50% of my food is fresh vegetables (not canned or processed vegetables), 5-6 fruits daily, and 10-15% protein (cooked lean meat such as chicken and pork), and about 10-15% carbohydrates ( rice, brown rice or noodles). My family eats a fair amount of vegetables, garlic, mushrooms, nuts and seeds daily. This diet is made famous by an MD, Dr. Joel Fuhrman.

I also make sure to limit my sugar intake – I no longer drink soda or eat too much sweet processed food such as cakes. Cancer cells love sugar. I also don’t eat half-cooked red meat, which can be flush with animal antibiotics and man-made hormones.

By following this kind of diet, I no longer get canker sores, or get sick as often. Also, I don’t have the diseases (high blood pressure, high cholesterol, arthritis, insomnia, diabetes, gallstones, heart disease, cancer, etc.) that have plagued most of my friends and relatives of my age.

Cost of Solar Power Still Falling, Falling, Falling

Barely three years ago, the Obama administration launched the SunShot Initiative, an ambitious effort to transform solar power from an exotic, expensive form of energy into a mainstream fuel that can compete on price with petroleum, coal, and natural gas. In the latest development for low-cost solar power, last week Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz announced that the program is already 60 percent of the way toward its goal of bringing the average price for a utility-scale solar power plant down to the target price of six cents per kilowatt-hour.

In raw numbers, that’s a steep slide from an average of 21 cents in 2010 to only 11 cents by the end of 2013. That’s now less than the average price of electricity in the U.S., which is about 12 cents per kWh, according to the Energy Information Administration.

The trend toward low-cost solar power is nowhere near at an end. The new announcement came with word of yet another SunShot initiative that will help bring the cost of solar power down even more in the coming years: A $25 million funding package for innovative technologies that focuses on manufacturing costs.

$25 million for solar power innovation

The SunShot initiative attacks the cost of solar power from all angles. One focus is on high-tech R&D that aims to make photovoltaic cells and other forms of solar energy harvesting more efficient. Another addresses the “soft costs” involved in installing solar equipment, including permits, administrative costs and labor.

A third area, which the new $25 million funding package is focused on, aims at bringing down the cost of manufacturing solar equipment, in addition to reducing the time and expense involved in installing that equipment.

That will mean, for example, the development of new modular systems that can be manufactured, shipped and set up with minimum expense, which translates into increased automation at both the production and installation ends.

The focus on manufacturing for low-cost solar power dovetails with several other Obama administration initiatives related to clean energy and energy efficiency, including a $7 million round of funding that will help lower the cost of LED lighting and a rather intriguing mashup between the Defense Department and the maker movement’s TechShop.

Low-cost solar power up, fossil fuels on the way out

The Moniz announcement coincided with the official dedication of the massive new Ivanpah concentrating solar power plant in California. Another new utility-scale solar project, Crescent Dunes in Nevada, was recently completed and passed a major milestone last week on its pathway to full commissioning.

The two projects are significant not only because of their size, but also because they represent another critical area of competition for the U.S. energy sector, and that is the ability to compete in global markets. Both of the projects represent next-generation solar technologies.

Ivanpah is the largest solar power plant of its kind in the world. It consists of three units, each of which concentrates solar energy from a field of specialized mirrors called heliostats onto a central tower, where it heats a solution of molten salt. The heated molten salt provides thermal energy to produce steam for running a generator, employing an advanced process that uses 95 percent less water than similar solar power plants.

Crescent Dunes also runs its generators on heated molten salt, with solar energy concentrated by heliostats. In this project, the molten salt also serves double duty as a “salt battery,” storing thermal energy for about six hours. That means the plant can continue to generate electricity long after the sun goes down.

Together, these two plants will provide enough electricity for thousands of homes, without ever needing to dig raw feedstock out of the ground.

As with any large piece of infrastructure, solar plants (and wind farms, for that matter) are not impact-free, but once they are in the ground they are free of impacts related to fuel harvesting and, for that matter, transportation. They are also free of impacts from byproduct disposal, such as coal ash and petcoke.

Contrast that with the steady stream of disasters related to the fossil fuel lifecycle just within the last few weeks, including the coal-washing chemical spill and the coal slurry spill in West Virginia, the North Carolina coal ash spill (which appears to involve a second pipe now), and the Kentucky gas pipeline explosion, and you’ve got a picture of a fossil fuel infrastructure bent to the breaking point.

Image: Crescent Dunes concentrating solar power plant courtesy of SolarReserve

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