I wish I could roll the clock back 40 years and do it all over again. I've had a good life and don't begrudge any of it but my fascination in engineering drives me to constantly look at what's happening in that front and wishing I was back in the game.
When I was in my late teens, I finished high school and there was no money in our family to go any further never mind the fact that my father had no aspirations to see any of his 3 kids to a lifestyle better than his. We were never encouraged to seek betterment. I ended up working at a Chrysler dealership cleaning cars. After about a year, my shop manager had a head to head talk with me and told me I can't waist my life cleaning cars so he asked if I wanted to start a mechanic apprenticeship to which I said yes. He approached the owner of the dealership and told him of the plan and told the owner that my pay of $1.85/hr would have to increase to 50% of the journey man rate of $8.00/hr to meet the requirements of the apprenticeship program.. The owner was reeling at the thought of having to pay me twice was he was paying me and said no way. So the Shop Manager suggested that they put me on flat rate at $8.00'hr and I would only earn money based on my output. Thinking that this was good for the owner and he wasn't going to get screwed out of money, the Owner agreed. So I became an apprentice. Never looked back. I put out between 40-50 hours of work every week and went from $1.85/hr x 40 ($74/week) to $360/week. I owe a great debt to this savvy Shop Manager who got me on the road.
4 years later, I earned my Auto Technicians papers. About a year later, the tune up technician in the shop got into a heated argument with the shop foreman and the technician dropped dead of a massive heart attack. So here I stand looking down at him thinking this is my future? Nope. I needed a better job with benefits and a pension.
So I ended up at the nuclear power plant in Pickering Ontario as again an apprentice of a different trade Millwright. 5 years later I'm a journeyman Millwright making $16.00'hour and the auto mechanics managed to get up to $8.25'hour. Winner again and I now have benefits and pension even better.
Why the story- I was a dumb high school student with no direction and worked my way from that up to a Section Manager in a nuclear facility but that journey had me constantly looking to the future of engineering and what was yet to come. I was pretty proud to have come from nothing to a guy working in the nuclear industry until the day I ran into a great uncle, Colin Caswell. He was an anti-nuclear who was in the provincial government. How dare I work in an industry he despised. He told me we had enough rivers and streams to power the future of electrical needs if we only tapped into the resources. Talk about an ego deflator.I kept my head up and maintained my interest in the nuclear and would talk to anyone wanting to learn more about how we split the atom to create heat, to boil water to make steam, to drive steam turbines and power generators. It was a good life. But…….Nuclear is expensive and in the long run, there’s nuclear waste to contend with. Hydroelectric is cheap to get going and cheap to maintain. The initial energy comes from God and is free. The downside is that transmitting the energy to the needs has energy losses, so even if you have free energy up in the northern parts of the province, you have energy losses to contend with.
Coal fired, oil fired or gas fired- filthy products to handle and the byproducts of burning are costly both health wise and environmentally wise.
Along came “Green Energy” Photovoltaic and wind turbines. Ontario started the Green Energy Program and allowed anybody who produced electricity the opportunity to sell it back to the Ontario grid at 72 cents a kilowatt. So people were putting panels on their roofs and international corporations were investing trillions in putting up wind turbines plus commercial photovoltaic farms. So get this, you as a home owner put up enough photovoltaic panels to produce 18 kilowatts in a day but as a customer you use 12 kilowatts in a day. You were allowed to sell the energy you produced to the grid for 72 cents a kilowatt and then you bought from the grid the 12 kilowatts needed at market value of 8 cents a kilowatt hour. Logic would tell you that you really just sold the grid your surplus of 6 kilowatts but the way they set it up those in the business were making a killing on the deal. Well, after 15 years they finally ditched the program.Now, in Ontario we have thousands of wind turbines sitting idle for days at a time and I’m talking like 8000-10000 turbines. One of the Nuclear Power Plants in Pickering Ontario is about 3 years out from being decommissioned so there will be a need for replacing 8 units at 540 megawatts= 4320 MW and each one of the wind turbines put out 2.3 Mw so that will eat up 1878 wind turbines to make up for the power plant when it shuts down. The downside is that the turbines can’t be counted on 24/7/365 so now what? Storing electricity of that magnitude during times of surplus is still a long way off.Hydroelectric- as long as rivers and streams keep flowing, Bob’s your uncle but now global warming and changing weather patterns. Can we really rely on a steady amount of precipitation?? Let’s ask the people in central west USA. Lake Mead which is a reservoir created by putting a dam on the Colorado River, (the Hoover Dam) has dropped from a full pool level of 1229 ft above sea level to 1044 ft above sea level under drought like conditions over the past 6 or 7 years. Lake Mead itself is only 532 ft deep at full capacity so the water level has dropped by just about half. Along with supplying water to Hoover Power Electric Dam, it also is the fresh water supply for 5 US States. If global warming persists and these drought-like conditions persist, there will be a fresh water crisis in the Midwest. Thank you, global warming.
It’s a fascinating topic for me to try and fathom out a resolution for and I wish I was still in the game.
The following user(s) said Thank You: biltonjim, PaulD
The Next Frontier- it really is amazing to be able to step back and look at how we have developed as a civilization at the cost of mother nature. From a global population of 2 billion in the year 1900 to a population of 7.98 billion in 2022 couldn’t have happened without the industrial revolution. From farming using horse power and burning firewood for heat to motorized vehicles for absolutely everything and burning hydrocarbon fuel for heat. And the cost- depleted ozone levels and global warming Apparently we are the only animals on this planet willing to kill mother nature in order to survive. In the animal world, when mother nature doesn’t supply enough food for survival, the animals are not able to reproduce and then when there’s an abundance of food, animals end up having multiple births in that year. Humans- never stop reproducing regardless of the ability to take care of their offspring. Then they attempt to migrate to areas of perceived prosperity to survive. In the meantime, the prosperous keep destroying the world and blame global warming or whatever climatic issues that are going on as a problem mother nature created. Sad, very sad. So why are we burning all this hydrocarbon-based energy to stay warm? Well, we create the heat and then lose it because it’s cheap to produce and the cost of retaining it is high. But in an effort to reduce global warming we now have programs to reduce burning hydrocarbon based fuel.
Enter the “Net Zero Home Building program”. The object, to produce homes able to create a minimum of 5% more energy than they consume. Finally, a movement in the right direction. Save the heat created and stop pissing it out the walls and windows. Something I could get my teeth into.
One of the latest advancements in windows are 8 pane sealed units with a reported r factor of R25. Now we’re getting somewhere. Insulating value almost equal to current wall insulation levels and almost 7 times higher than current window r factors.
Next, double wall construction. Create walls twice the thickness and no thermal bridging from the outside of the wall to the inside of the wall. The ability to install twice the insulation- nice.
Cellulose insulation- recycled paper and fiber material treated with borate leaving it fireproof and insect repellent. Bugs hate the stuff and last but not least it’s non toxic.
Photovoltaic panels on the roof. Pretty ugly in my mind. I wouldn’t want to have to look at them in my neighborhood but along comes Elon Musk and the Tesla Roof System. They look like singles but they are PV panels. Tie them in with one of Tesla’s home power packs and you can almost go off grid.
The following user(s) said Thank You: biltonjim, PaulD
Humans- never stop reproducing regardless of the ability to take care of their offspring. Then they attempt to migrate to areas of perceived prosperity to survive. In the meantime, the prosperous keep destroying the world and blame global warming or whatever climatic issues that are going on as a problem mother nature created. Sad, very sad.
I don't think that's always the case- as far as recent history is concerned.
In the 1960's western countries saw the rapid rise of the population in Japan as a growing threat - a poorly educated , feudal state that would apparently over populate, run out of resources to feed it's people and mass starvation/ migrations would occur. Population in 1945 was 77 million. By the year 2000 - a 127 million.
But it didn't happen.
Help get people out of poverty and living in mud huts, create jobs and the availability of cheap energy, and they too will do what western nations have done - including Japan- the birth rate declines - destruction of the local habit stops because western countries supply them with clean natural gas - ( compared to burning trees and cow dung ), and maybe eventually small nuclear plants. and everyone one wins. In fact Japan, has seen a steady decline in it's population since it's peak in 2008, and shows no sign of stopping.
The moral of the story - help the poverty stricken out of poverty with cheap energy - and the other problems will take care of themselves.
" If you can't say what you think, very soon you won't be able to think !
OKANAGAN FALLS. BC ,Canada
Very interesting, Kawboy. It sounds like you need to be working again, at least part time.
A river passes through the town where I live, and last year I discovered that somebody had installed an Archimedes water screw generator. I’m not sure what the potential power output is of this particular one, but it’s an interesting device. I tried uploading photos, but this site won’t accept them!