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Old 09-20-07, 07:09 PM   #1
bac
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Iceland: They have REAL Leadership

Iceland phasing out fossil fuels for clean energy
By Peggy Mihelich
CNN
http://www.cnn.com/2007/TECH/science...and/index.html



REYKJAVIK, Iceland (CNN) -- Iceland maybe best known for world-famous musical export Bjork but there's a new star quickly gaining this island nation world-wide acclaim -- clean energy.

For more than 50 years Iceland has been decreasing its dependence on fossil fuels by tapping the natural power all around this rainy, windswept rock of fire.

Waterfalls, volcanoes, geysers and hot springs provide Icelanders with abundant electricity and hot water.

Virtually all of the country's electricity and heating comes from domestic renewable energy sources -- hydroelectric power and geothermal springs.

It's pollution free and cheap.

Yet these energy pioneers are still dependent on imported oil to operate their vehicles and thriving fishing industry.

Iceland's geographic isolation in the North Atlantic makes it expensive to ship in gasoline -- it costs almost $8 a gallon (around $2 a liter).

Iceland ranks 53rd in the world in greenhouse gas emissions per capita, according to the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center -- the primary climate-change data and information analysis center of the U.S. Department of Energy.

Retired University of Iceland Professor Bragi Arnason has come up with a solution: Use hydrogen to power transportation. Hydrogen is produced with water and electricity, and Iceland has lots of both.

"Iceland is the ideal country to create the world's first hydrogen economy," Arnason explains. His big idea has earned him the nickname "Professor Hydrogen."

Arnason has caught the attention of General Motors, Toyota and DaimlerChrysler, who are using the island-nation as a test market for their hydrogen fuel cell prototypes.

One car getting put through its paces is the Mercedes Benz A-class F-cell -- an electric car powered by a DaimlerChrysler fuel cell. Fuel cells generate electricity by converting hydrogen and oxygen into water. And fuel cell technology is clean -- the only by-product is water.

"It's just like a normal car," says Asdis Kritinsdottir Project Manager, Reykjavik Energy. Except the only pollution coming out of the exhaust pipe is water vapor. It can go about 100 miles on a full tank. When it runs out of fuel the electric battery kicks in giving the driver another 18 miles -- hopefully enough time to get to a refueling station. Filling the tank is similar to today's cars -- attach a hose to the car's fueling port, hit "start" on the pump and stand back. The process takes about five to six minutes. See some of the F-cell's unique features »

In 2003, Reykjavik opened a hydrogen fueling station to test three hydrogen fuel cell buses. The station was integrated into an existing gasoline and diesel station. The hydrogen gas is produced by electrolysis -- sending a current through water to split it into hydrogen and oxygen. The public buses could run all day before needing refueling.

The bus project lasted three years and cost around $10 million.

The city will need five refueling stations in addition to the one the city already has to support its busy ring road, according to Arnason. The entire nation could get by on 15 refueling stations -- a minimum requirement.

Within the year 30-40 hydrogen fuel-cell cars will hit Reykjavik streets. Local energy company employees will do most of the test-driving but three cars will be made available to The Hertz Corp., giving Icelanders a chance to get behind the wheel. Learn more about fuel cells »

"I need a car," says Petra Svenisdottir an intern at Reykjavik Energy. Svenisdottir, 28, commutes to work from her home in Hafnarfjorour to Reykjavik. The journey takes her about 15 minutes if she can beat traffic. "If I didn't have a car I would have to take two or three buses and wait at each bus stop to arrive at work more than an hour later, cold and wet!"

Most Icelanders drive cars, says Arnason. Around 300,000 people live in a place about the size of the U.S. state of Kentucky. Transportation is limited to cars, buses and boats. "Everyone has a car here," Arnason says. And it's very typical for an Icelandic family to own two cars. Arnason drives a small SUV.

Fuel cell cars are expected to go on sale to the public in 2010. Carmakers have promised Arnason they will keep costs down and the government has said it will offer citizens tax breaks.

He figures it will take an additional 4 percent of power to produce the hydrogen Iceland would need to meet its transportation requirements.

Once Iceland's vehicles are converted over to hydrogen, the fishing fleet will follow. It won't be easy because of current technological limits and the high cost of storing large amounts of hydrogen, but Arnason feels confident it can happen. He predicts Iceland will be fossil fuel free by 2050.

"We are a very small country but we have all the same infrastructure of big nations," he said. "We will be the prototype for the rest of the world."


... Brad
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Old 09-20-07, 07:23 PM   #2
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Hydrogen power at its best!


J/K! I'm a big fan of fuel cells, but we could use a lot more nuke power for the electrolysis.
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Old 09-20-07, 07:28 PM   #3
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@G-Whacker:
I'm not 100% sure, but I'm guessing Iceland doesn't have this (dumb) block on nuclear power that we do... or they use much cleaner ways of obtaining electricity.
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Old 09-20-07, 08:35 PM   #4
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Virtually all of the country's electricity and heating comes from domestic renewable energy sources -- hydroelectric power and geothermal springs.
Iceland has tons of hydro and thermal power available, and they use it extensively.
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Old 09-20-07, 09:04 PM   #5
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I heard they dont like visitors as well....LOL my kind of people....
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Old 09-20-07, 09:10 PM   #6
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Iceland has a distinct advantage on Geothermal energy. It's only a giant Ridge Volcano. Not knocking them, here at all. They're doing something really smart, I agree, but their system works and will expand very nicely because of the dynamics of plate tectonics and being at an upwelling point for magma on a receding plate line. It's pretty simple Geophysics.
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Old 09-20-07, 11:17 PM   #7
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It's not just the geothermal energy. They have a lot of hydropower, too. Plus they have a fairly low population density and a moderate amount of energy intensive industry. I understand it's windy there, too, so even as they max out hydro and geothermal capacity, they may have more room for growth.
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Old 09-21-07, 05:39 AM   #8
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Similar to Austria - they have lot of hydro power too - it's only smart to use it. But there is no need to go around and bad mouth other nations for they use of nuclear power (like Austrians do about Temelin)

Hint for Americans - there are no kangaroos in Austria
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Old 09-21-07, 06:13 AM   #9
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They're exploiting their abundant natural resources to support an extremely low density population; that doesn't take real leadership, thats common sense, especially when a gallon of gas is 8 bucks.
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Old 09-21-07, 07:26 AM   #10
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And their women have an unearthly beauty. Same goes for the countryside. Some day I'll have the scratch to emigrate and Iceland is on the top of the list. Only problem is that I'm sure they have a pretty short cycling season.
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Old 09-21-07, 09:17 AM   #11
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Let me first qualify my statement by saying that I'm not a physicist.

From all the reading I've done on the current viability of the fuel cell, it's basically selling people hope. They may as well call themselves the church of H and go looking for converts.

"A single hydrogen fuel cell requires 20 grams of platinum. If the cells are mass-produced, it may be possible to get the platinum requirement down to 10 grams per cell. The world has 7.7 billion grams of proven platinum reserves. There are approximately 700 million internal combustion engines on the road.

10 grams of platinum per fuel cell x 700 million fuel cells = 7 billion grams of platinum, or practically every gram of platinum in the earth.

Unfortunately, as a recent article in EV World points out, the average fuel cell lasts only 200 hours. Two hundred hours translates into just 12,000 miles, or about one year's worth of driving at 60 miles per hour. This means all 700 million fuel cells (with 10 grams of platinum in each one) would have to be replaced every single year.

Thus replacing the 700 million oil-powered vehicles on the road with fuel cell-powered vehicles, for only 1 year, would require us to mine every single ounce of platinum currently in the earth and divert all of it for fuel cell construction only.

Doing so is absolutely impossible as platinum is astonishingly energy-intensive (expensive) to mine, is already in short supply, and is indispensable ot thousands of crucial industrial processes.

Even if this wasn't the case, the fuel cell solution would last less than one year. As with oil, platinum production would peak long before the supply is exhausted.

What will we do, when less than 6 months into the "hydeogen Economy," we hit Peak Platinum?......"

continued:

"Because hydrogen is the simplest element, it will leak fron any container, no matter how strong and no matter how well insulated, at a rate of at least 1.7 percent per day.

Hydrogen is such a poor replacement for oil that "Hydrogen Fuel Cells" should be called "Hydrogen Fool Cells." It's a 30 year old circus-act that we never seem to tire of: In 1974, President Nixon proposed "Project Independence," which promised to end America's reliance on foreign oil. The project claimed that "hydrogen-fuelled vehicles" would be ready by 1990.

The earth Day crowd ate it up while politicians from both sides of the aisle milked it for all it was worth. Ohio Democrat Charles Vanick said, "Hydrogen offers us great potential as a fuel for the future." California Republican Robert Wilson stated, "we, can now look forward to running our automobiles on water."

The hype surrounding hydrogen sounds remarkably familiar, doe it not? Unfortunately, the hydrogen economy was a myth in 1974, and it's still a myth in 2004 because the laws of thermodynamics haven't changed."


Mind you Iceland may be the only place on Earth which can create Hydrogen at a loss and not lose sleep over it, as long as the steam keeps flowing. All other countries are not so lucky. There's just no point creating an energy carrier (not a source of energy mind you) and lose it over time as it leaks out of your fuel tank as your car sits in the garage.

There are a ton of challenges if hydrogen would ever become viable (it won't).

With leakage (never mind the platinum problem mentioned above) a tanker carrying 30,000 litres of liquid Hydrogen (at amazingly low temperatures) could possibly lose one third or more of its cargo through evaporation (escaping). And the hydrogen hasn't even made it into your car yet. It will now sit in a tank underground evaporating some more, before you come along to buy it. Imagine the cost per gallon if someone knows that while you sleep, the product is vanishing and there's nothing they can do. $$$$$$.

Then there is the smaller energy carrying capacity of hydrogen. Notice the car in the article can travel for 100 miles? Wonder if that's because the manufacturer put a tiny tank in the trunk? Nope, the tank may in fact be larger than that cars oil guzzling cousin. The 100 miles is probably measured from the point of fillup, without stopping. If you stop for a break, fuel evaporates. The longer you stop for, the less fuel you have, the shorter the distance you can travel.

Best of luck to them, but it won't happen on any kind of world scale (and doubtful for even tiny Iceland) in the next 50 years.

Give the people hope, and they will flock to it like sheep, blindly overlooking their current pitiful situation. The church of H is recruiting now. Go forth and join, just don't knock on my door on Saturday mornings expecting me to convert.

-W.
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Old 09-21-07, 09:45 AM   #12
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...and it's still a myth in 2004 because the laws of thermodynamics haven't changed."
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WHAT?!? I'm calling my congressman! If we don't get some new thermodynamics laws, I mean, think of the children!
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Old 09-21-07, 09:58 AM   #13
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Nuclear powered fuel-cells powering realtime electrolysis that splits water as close to the cylinder head as possible?

Or just ride a bike.
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Old 09-21-07, 10:07 AM   #14
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Or figure out a way to push commercial solar cells way past the 12-15% efficiency limit.
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Old 09-21-07, 01:28 PM   #15
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Or figure out a way to push commercial solar cells way past the 12-15% efficiency limit.
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Boeing-Spectrolab has developed a solar cell that can convert almost 41 percent of the sunlight that strikes it into electricity, the latest step in trying to drop the cost of solar power.
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All direct-bandgap semiconductors combine elements from group III of the periodic table, like aluminum, gallium, or indium, with elements from group V, like nitrogen, phosphorus, or arsenic. The most efficient multijunction solar cell yet made -- 30 percent, out of a theoretically possible 50 percent efficiency -- combines just two materials, gallium arsenide and gallium indium phosphide
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In principle, dozens of different layers could be stacked to catch photons at all energies, for efficiencies better than 70 percent
They're working on it!
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Old 09-21-07, 05:16 PM   #16
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Anybody can run a geothermal heat pump system. It's far more efficient than typical furnaces for heating, it doesn't pollute, and is less maintenance.
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Old 09-21-07, 06:41 PM   #17
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Anybody can run a geothermal heat pump system. It's far more efficient than typical furnaces for heating, it doesn't pollute, and is less maintenance.
Very true, but on an industrial scale or urban/national scale, it does help out quite a bit to be located on a giant volcano
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Old 09-21-07, 07:10 PM   #18
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Very true, but on an industrial scale or urban/national scale, it does help out quite a bit to be located on a giant volcano
Sure does. Just a mild advantage
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Old 09-22-07, 08:46 AM   #19
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They're working on it!
That's pretty interesting. I've read a bit about people getting just under 50% efficiency with research cells. Seems the biggest hurtle is trying to figure out how to produce it on a commercial scale. It would change a lot of things if they could hit that 70% on cheap, durable, widely available solar panels (wet dream).
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