Alternative energy needs an alternative economic basis
This is a paper prepared for a Symposium in St. Petersburg, Russia, on the "Study of New Power Sources", organized by Peter Guzukin, Senior Research Officer of the Power Resources department of the Russian Academy of Science
Since the industrial revolution, energy has become an increasingly important factor for the functioning of our economy. No matter whether that economy is called socialist, capitalist, market oriented or whatever, the availability of energy at an affordable price is one of the first conditions for industrial production. Transportation and distribution of all products, whether industrial or agricultural, is also dependent on energy.
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Because energy was of such basic importance to the economy, it soon became a target for monopolization and we find today, that a large part of the worlds energy supply is controlled by a small number of multinational companies. Our main concern with this energy monopoly is not the fact of its existence, but a very serious secondary effect that is a consequence of it. This is an absence of progress in energy technology, an almost complete stop of the development of alternative energy production technologies.
Any new technical solutions that do get developed are improvements of fossil fuel based technologies currently in use. For real alternatives there is no or very little money. Fossil fuels include coal, gas, petroleum but also uranium. These are all substances that have been accumulated in the earths crust in the course of millions of years and that we are using up in the blink of an eye in a geological time frame.
Apart from the threatening shortage of raw materials, the fossil fuel economy has another very important drawback, which is the fact that we are destroying our environment with the pollution that is inherent in the mining, the transport, the transformation and the burning of fossil fuels. If we are to believe the proponents of fossil fuels and the government officials supporting them, there is no alternative to these fuels at this time.
Is that really true?
No, it is definitely not true. The alternatives do exist.
We have various proposals being made right here in this exhibition.
I myself have been researching for many years in this field and can say with certainty that there are numerous alternatives. I want to mention a few of those that I have encountered during my research.
1) Hydroelectric power generation today uses only about 10 % of its true potential. I am not referring here to the possibility of constructing more dams. I am saying that current hydroelectric technology has overlooked a large part of the energy potential of moving water.
Current technology concentrates exclusively on pressure induced upon the body of water by gravitation. The higher the dam, the greater the pressure. But it happens that in addition to static pressure, water also has energy if it is simply flowing in a river. And the faster the water flows, the more inertial energy it builds up. And this inertial energy increases with the square of the velocity, while the static pressure increases only in a linear relation.
Unfortunately the two energy potentials are mutually exclusive. In order to use one, you have to destroy the other. In order to use the static pressure energy, we first have to destroy all of the water’s natural motion-induced inertial energy by building a dam to stop the water’s flow!
It is obvious therefore, that our hydroelectric production could be much more effective if it was using the water’s natural velocity, effectively increased by gradually reducing the diameter of the channel of flow, instead of stopping the motion and using exclusively the gravity-induced water pressure.
I have written about this in more detail (“Die Wasserkraft nach Ludwig Herbrand” in raum&zeit nr 62, April 1993 and in english: “Understanding water power” in Explore! magazine, Vol. 4, nr 1, 1993).
2) Water may also serve as a simple alternative to petrochemical fuels, because the chemical composition of water - hydrogen and oxygen - makes it a combustible substance.
This alternative has been historically proposed by various inventors and has been rejected by those industrial interests that depend on fossil fuels as unpractical and dangerous.
Most recently, the american inventor Stanley Meyer has obtained over 20 patents connected with his “water fuel cell” system. He proposes to split water into its constituent gases by use of high frequency high voltage electrolysis in a resonance chamber, using significantly less energy than can be obtained from subsequent combustion, and to use the hydrogen directly as an alternative fuel in such applications as car motors, jet engines, household heating, cooking stoves and more.
Meanwhile in Australia, an inventor by the name of Yull Brown has developed a similar technology, however with the difference that he has succeeded in recombining the hydrogen and oxygen into a gas that is not explosive but is combustible, called Brown’s gas. Brown’s invention is being manufactured in China for use as an alternative supply of gas for metal welding, but could also easily be adapted to other uses where gas is a possible fuel.
3) A third and last example of an alternative method of energy production is the direct conversion of the electromagnetic potential of space background into electric energy. This is based on the concept that space itself is permeated by a homogenous energy field of incredibly high potential. According to the Japanese scientist Shinichi Seike, the electric field strength of space is
It is sufficient to bring about a discontinuity in the homogenous field, in order to “channel” some of that abundant energy for use in various electrical applications.
This feat has been achieved not by one, but by a whole number of inventors and scientists. I am giving a few names here, as examples only. The list is by no means complete.
Nikola Tesla, Henry Moray, Lester Hendershot, Howard Johnson, Hans Coler, Edwin Gray, John R.R. Searl, Shinichi Seike, Bruce De Palma, Wingate A. Lambertson, Paul Baumann, Robert Adams.
None of the inventions have been developed to be put into mass production, and very few of them have even been able to take the first hurdle, to be accepted by patent examiners. None of them have had any funding worth speaking of.
A big difficulty in this respect is our limited conception of the conservation of energy, which is expressed in the socalled laws of thermodynamics. These laws do not express basic truths of nature. They are based on experiential data and have wrongly been given the status of natural laws. But still they are used by patent offices all over the world to select out and discard any inventions that are truly revolutionary, with the justification that the invention violates a natural law and so could not possibly work.
I have written in more detail on thermodynamics (article A new beginning for thermodynamics and in German Ein neuer Anfang für die Thermodynamik).
Let us get back however to the economic basis for alternative energy. It is clear that the existing fossil fuel monopoly has much influence on what is to receive financing for development and production and what is not. And from actual experience by many desperate inventors, there is no financing available for a real alternative, expecially if it goes against established theories or against the “laws of nature” as understood by science in general or if it threatens the monopoly.
Our economy unfortunately is somewhat schizofrenic.
One part of the economy, which I would call the real economy or the people’s economy is concerned with production, with energy, with raw materials, with distribution and commerce and with the consumption of goods by the end user. On this level of the economy, the basis of dealings between companies and individuals is proper exchange. In order to facilitate this exchange, we have invented money to make it easier to buy and sell the goods that are being produced.
The second part of the economy is the world of finance, which I would like to call the speculative economy, whose interests unfortunately are not the same as those of the real economy. This speculative economy is the world of investment and speculation, of the cruel and merciless side of capitalism, where the most important thing is not production and not the survival of people, but the payment of interest! On this level of the economy, the basis of dealings is out-exchange (defined as an absence of proper exchange or a desire to get something for nothing).
The mechanism which permits this something for nothing of the speculative economy is the practice of taking interest on money loaned or invested. This has become a major factor even for the financial dealings of countries, especially those less developed nations which have been induced to take large loans as development aid and which are now unable to pay the interest, let alone pay back the loans. Their people are starving but apparently this is of no concern to the bureaucrats of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, or to the banks who loaned the money.
Russia is suffering not because its people do not want to work, not because it is poor in raw materials, but because it has to pay tribute to the speculative side of the international economy. The austerity programs advocated by certain economic “experts” are said to be necessary to stabilize the economy. In reality they are needed only to make sure that the country will continue to pay interest to its international creditors.
I have written in more detail about the question of interest and of its influence on the economy. (Article in TOKO Zeitkompass: “Wirtschaft wohin - In Memoriam Silvio Gesell”).
Unfortunately the speculative economy has gained force in recent years and is much stronger than the real economy. Our lives are determined by the speculative economy. The energy monopoly is an expression of and a necessary condition for the speculative economy.
We are witnessing a genocide of gigantic proportions, the killing of ourselves and our children. Whether it is done through denial of proper energy technology or through economic austerity imposed so as to collect interest, the starving and poisoning of people is genocide and should be recognized and stigmatized as such.
What would have to happen then, to create an economic basis for alternative energy to develop? What can we do to help bring about the needed change?
The cure for the economy is to lead the patient back towards reality.
First and foremost, we must refuse to play the game of something for nothing, each one in our personal lives, and who has government responsibility must refuse to play the game in his area of responsibility. Refusing to play the game means both from the active and from the passive side. As individuals and as countries we must not receive something for nothing and we must not allow that someone else takes from us without proper exchange.
Secondly, we must recognize that production and exchange are the basis of the real economy, the economy that will result in people having enough to eat, having houses, having proper education and all those things that we recognize as necessary and positive for our lives. We should strive to strengthen the real economy, each one according to ability and position.
Finance must be put at the service of the real economy, not the other way around.
And we will discover that all of a sudden, there will be all kinds of funds available for research and production, for putting into reality that dream of alternative energy, for providing unlimited amounts of power to everyone, practically for free, and without destroying the environment in the process.