Monday, April 26, 2010

"Free Energy"

I have heard the term 'free energy' more and more often over the past several years, as I am sure you have as well. I was just reading an exchange between my partner and several other people on a facebook group in regards to man causing the destruction of the planet.

Repeatedly, the phrase 'free energy' was used over and over, and more pointedly used when speaking of wind and solar panels. Comments such as 'we need to use free energy and get off oil and other fossil fuels'.

While reading through, the same idea kept occurring to me over and over, as it has for years upon years of hearing these types of remarks.

Oil IS free energy.
Natural Gas IS free energy.
Coal IS free energy.
Water IS free energy.
Wind is free energy.
Solar rays are free energy.
Wood IS free energy.

All of those things are given to us by the earth or the sun. They are all provided to us for free. It is the mechanism of discovery, collection, processing, transportation, and distribution that ends up costing money. Whether you use wind power or oil, solar rays or natural gas - it is going to cost you so it is NOT "free energy".

When I was growing up, the terms used most often were 'renewable vs non-renewable resources'. I get that, I'm not stupid. It would be better for us if we used more renewable resources, but to term them 'free energy' is giving the non-thinkers the wrong idea. They hear 'free' and want it. Who wouldn't?? But it is not 'free'.

I wrote a little while back about Calgary's LRT system being claimed as wind powered in several world news articles recently... but when I checked the Calgary LRT website, I read that the city of Calgary PURCHASES the amount of electricity needed for the LRT from a wind farm further south.

Purchases? What? I'm sorry - I thought all this wind energy was free! I am confused yet again *sigh* [sarcasm].

Then I think about the house built in Whistler to celebrate and advertise the possibilities of creating homes that are much much more energy efficient and use very little for heating, cooling, etc. But that home would cost a good half million dollars and most people do not have that kind of money. Wait - it COSTS something? I thought this was all 'free energy'.

Sorry but it drives me freaking insane to hear that. Even if someone were to construct their own wind turbine it would cost something. Even if they used mainly recycled materials, those materials were most likely all made with the dreaded fossil fuels so where exactly did that get them? And then of course don't forget that if everyone starts building these supposedly free turbines and solar panels for their homes, the govts won't let that slide. There will be taxes of some sort of another for it, or the excess energy you collect will be filtered back into the local grid - after you have to pay to tie into it of course.

Exactly what part of these forms of energy is actually 'free' anyway? If people are going to harp on about this, could they at least try to be realistic and go back to the tried-and-true term 'renewable resource' instead of the misguided term 'free energy'?

4 comments:

  1. It worked with all the suckers who think we have free health care so the wingnut environmentalists think they can tap into the same mantra: free, free, free.
    If it's so free why does Ontario pay 88 cents a kwh to solar power producers when coal fired generation costs 4 cents per kwh?

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  2. Food is chemcal energy - so why isn't food "free"?

    Free energy is the mantra of idiots and suckers waiting for the next hucksters to sell them a perpetual motion machine to harness "free" energy - at a price, of course.

    Sheesh.

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  3. It just irritates the heck out of me to keep hearing that term thrown around more and more. In the forum I was reading, it was all adults not kids chatting. Why is it so hard to figure out that free wind energy is no different than free solar or free natural gas? Maybe one will run out one day, but there is a LOT more under the planet's surface than the media leads us to believe. Regardless of that, the wind does stop blowing and some places get much more wind than others so it's not even a constant, steady, reliable resource.

    I'm not saying we shouldn't use it - we should have every option we possibly can. But there are SO many people blindly jumping on this bandwagon, I can hardly stand it anymore. Solar energy is also reliant on how much light is filtering through - some days/places will have a lot of nice bright sun while others have less due to clouds, time of year, etc. It's not an infallible resource! But that's how many people talk/act and it is starting to aggravate me lol

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  4. ps anonymous - people rant and rave about wanting 'free healthcare' (as powell points out isn't free either lol), but we have to buy food - something that every single solitary person on this whole planet would DIE without. It's a basic human need, but it's not free. If that's not free, why would anyone think they are going to get free energy to power their computers and tvs with? haha = it's so stupid it's almost sad.

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These are my views and opinions. If you don't agree or think I am sadly misguided, that is your view. Feel free to share your thoughts but I also reserve my right to moderate content (IE foul language, excessive flaming, etc).

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