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Solar Meets Polar as Winter Curbs Clean Energy (So far Polar has the edge)
The New York Times ^ | December 25, 2008 | KATE GALBRAITH

Posted on 12/26/2008 6:07:43 AM PST by raybbr

Old Man Winter, it turns out, is no friend of renewable energy.

This time of year, wind turbine blades ice up, biodiesel congeals in tanks and solar panels produce less power because there is not as much sun. And perhaps most irritating to the people who own them, the panels become covered with snow, rendering them useless even in bright winter sunshine.

So in regions where homeowners have long rolled their eyes at shoveling driveways, add another cold-weather chore: cleaning off the solar panels. “At least I can get to them with a long pole and a squeegee,” said Alan Stankevitz, a homeowner in southeast Minnesota.

As concern has grown about global warming, many utilities and homeowners have been trying to shrink their emissions of carbon dioxide — their carbon footprints — by installing solar panels, wind turbines and even generators powered by tides or rivers. But for the moment, at least, the planet is still cold enough to deal nasty winter blows to some of this green machinery.

In January 2007, a bus stalled in the middle of the night on Interstate 70 in the Colorado mountains. The culprit was a 20 percent biodiesel blend that congealed in the freezing weather, according to John Jones, the transit director for the bus line, Summit Stage. (Biodiesel is a diesel substitute, typically made from vegetable oil, that is used to displace some fossil fuels.)

The passengers got out of that situation intact, but Summit Stage, which serves ski resorts, now avoids biodiesel from November to March, and uses only a 5 percent blend in the summertime, when it can still get cold in the mountains. “We can’t have people sitting on buses freezing to death while we get out there trying to get them restarted,” Mr. Jones said.

(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Government
KEYWORDS: energy; globalcooling; solar

1 posted on 12/26/2008 6:07:43 AM PST by raybbr
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To: steelyourfaith

ping


2 posted on 12/26/2008 6:08:04 AM PST by raybbr (It's going to get a lot worse now that the anchor babies are voting!)
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To: raybbr

In the never ending zeal to prove that nature can be rechanneled and harnessed a simple coating of frost or snow proves that they really haven't thought all that far ahead.

3 posted on 12/26/2008 6:09:57 AM PST by raybbr (It's going to get a lot worse now that the anchor babies are voting!)
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To: raybbr
Wind turbine self destructs.
4 posted on 12/26/2008 6:12:36 AM PST by raybbr (It's going to get a lot worse now that the anchor babies are voting!)
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To: raybbr

lol


5 posted on 12/26/2008 6:13:10 AM PST by gusopol3
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To: raybbr

“Drill here...drill now!!!


6 posted on 12/26/2008 6:19:46 AM PST by Don Corleone (Leave the gun..take the cannoli)
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To: raybbr
You could melt the snow off! With electric heaters!

Oh, wait.

7 posted on 12/26/2008 6:21:09 AM PST by Steely Tom (RKBA: last line of defense against vote fraud)
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To: raybbr
"But for the moment, at least, the planet is still cold enough to deal nasty winter blows to some of this green machinery."

Another liberal idiot reporter whistling past the graveyard of global warming, and whistling even louder then ever now that we're having one of the coldest winters in memory. Global Warming ain't.

8 posted on 12/26/2008 6:22:05 AM PST by norwaypinesavage (Global Warming Theory is extremely robust with respect to data. All observations confirm it)
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To: gusopol3

Wind turbines and solar are fine as adjuncts to fossil fuel.

The fact is that for the next 30 years fossil fuel will be our major source of energy.

Trying to conserve with better fuel mileage, better insulation or any other idea that allows us to use less energy is a great move.

The fact remains that fossil fuels will be used. It makes sense therefore that we drill, that we use coal,that we refine our own sources, that we make ourselves independent of suppliers from other countries,especially countries that are unfriendly to us.

Why is that so hard for Pelosi and Reid and the other Democtatic brain trusts on the Hill to understand?


9 posted on 12/26/2008 6:26:14 AM PST by Venturer
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To: Steely Tom
"You could melt the snow off! With electric heaters!"

You would probably need to do that at night using a solar powered flashlight to find your way in the dark......;)
10 posted on 12/26/2008 6:29:34 AM PST by FrankR (“Turtle up”, economically, for the duration of the 0bamanation.)
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To: raybbr; WL-law; Genesis defender; proud_yank; FrPR; enough_idiocy; Desdemona; rdl6989; ...



Beam me to Planet Gore !

11 posted on 12/26/2008 6:31:40 AM PST by steelyourfaith
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To: Venturer

Every 100 MW of wind generated power requires 85 MW of fossil fuel back up. The figure is 91 MW in Texas.


12 posted on 12/26/2008 6:34:10 AM PST by Eric in the Ozarks
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To: Venturer
I think the reason they insist on it is because if we drill, the incentive to develop solar and wind power sources drops below the point where it's financially viable. However, as supplementary power sources to baseline power, such as nuclear plants, solar and wind are valuable and should be in the mix America uses for energy.

We have a problem conflating environmentalism and energy security in this nation. Many good Freepers hate Al Gore and the other environmentalists enough to reject any idea of solar and wind out of hand. However, if it reduces our dependency on foreign oil and makes Hugo and Vladimir cry, I'm for it.

13 posted on 12/26/2008 6:37:39 AM PST by GAB-1955 (Kicking and Screaming into the Kingdom of Heaven! (USCG Aux))
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To: raybbr

Every source of energy will run out sooner or later.

No such thing as “renewable” energy.


14 posted on 12/26/2008 6:46:01 AM PST by CPOSharky (Coming up: Four years of Jimmuh Cartah on crack.)
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To: raybbr

There’s no mention of the fact that ordinary diesel will do the same thing, just at slightly lower temperatures.

That’s why someone who knew what he was doing would have installed fuel heaters in that bus.

Same thing with the solar panels: surely the folks who installed them knew it snows up there???

This isn’t really a story about the drawbacks of renewable energy, numerous though they are:
this is an article about the drawbacks of stupidity...


15 posted on 12/26/2008 6:50:56 AM PST by Redbob (W.W.J.B.D.: "What Would Jack Bauer Do?")
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To: CPOSharky

“No such thing as “renewable” energy.”

A woodlot full of firewood does a pretty good imitation though.


16 posted on 12/26/2008 6:53:57 AM PST by Beagle8U (FreeRepublic -- One stop shopping ....... Its the Conservative Super WalMart for news .)
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To: Eric in the Ozarks
“Every 100 MW of wind generated power requires 85 MW of fossil fuel back up. The figure is 91 MW in Texas.”

Yep, on a typically very hot summer day in Texas (when you need the juice), the wind turbines often operate at less than 5%. Soooo, Texas has to crank up those dirty ‘ol lignite and natural gas plants to produce the required juice. Ain't technology wonderful!

17 posted on 12/26/2008 6:55:33 AM PST by TRY ONE (NUKE the unborn gay whales!)
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To: GAB-1955
However, if it reduces our dependency on foreign oil ...

The only way to reduce dependency on foreign oil is to Drill Here-Drill Now.

On a small scale, where wind or solar power directly supplies the users and the fluctuating production can be stored, they can contribute to a home, school, factory, office building, or even small town's electricity. But this simply does not work on a large scale to supply the grid. On a large scale it does not reduce fossil fuel demand or emmisions.

Thermal power stations

Conventional power stations fission a material or burn a fuel to obtain heat that is used to boil water and superheat the resulting steam which is fed to the steam turbines (some power stations also use gas turbines in combination with steam turbines). The turbines drive turbogenerators that make electricity.

A power station takes days to start producing electricity from a cold start. Time is needed to boil the water, to superheat the steam, to warm all the components of the power station, and to spin the turbogenerators up to operating speed.

Each power station is designed to provide an output of electricity. It can only provide very little more or very little less than this output (i.e., a power station has a "low turndown ratio").

Electricity demand matching

Electricity is wanted all the time but the demand for electricity varies from hour to hour, day to day, and month to month. The electricity grid has to match the supply of electricity to the demand for it at all times. This is difficult because power stations cannot be switched on and off as demand varies.

The problem of matching electricity supply to varying demand is overcome by operating power stations in three modes called "base load," "generation," and "spinning standby."

Some power stations operate all the time providing electricity to the grid, and they are said to provide "base load."

Other power stations also operate all the time but do not provide electricity all the time. They burn (or fission) their fuel to boil water and superheat the resulting steam which is fed to the steam turbines that are thus kept hot and spinning all the time. Of course, they emit all the emissions from use of their fuel all the time. But some of this time they dump heat from their cooling towers instead of generating electricity, and they are then said to be operating "spinning standby."

One or more power stations can be instantly switched from spinning standby to provide electricity to match an increase to demand for electricity. It is said to be operating "generation" when it is providing electricity. Power stations are switched between spinning standby and generation as demand for electricity changes.

Thus the grid operator manages the system to match supply with demand for electricity by switching power stations between "generation" and "spinning standby."

Windfarm input to electricity

Windfarms only provide electricity when the wind is strong enough and not too strong. So, they suddenly provide electricity when the wind changes. The grid operator must match this changed supply of electricity to the existing demand for electricity. Of course, the grid operator achieves the match by switching a power station to spinning standby mode. That power station continues to operate in this mode so it can provide electricity when the windfarm stops supplying electricity because the wind has changed again.

Windfarms only force power stations to operate more spinning standby. They provide no useful electricity and make no reduction to emissions from power generation. Indeed, the windfarm is the true source of emissions from a power station operating spinning standby in support of the windfarm.

Windfarms have capital, maintenance and operating costs that add to the cost of electricity. These costs are their only contribution to electricity supply.

18 posted on 12/26/2008 7:05:29 AM PST by Red_Devil 232 (VietVet - USMC All Ready On The Right? All Ready On The Left? All Ready On The Firing Line!)
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To: TRY ONE

Wind Gen is almost completely pointless.


19 posted on 12/26/2008 7:09:06 AM PST by Eric in the Ozarks
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To: Red_Devil 232
Very good points, but drilling is not the only approach. I like solar collector plants using molten sulfur as a heat reservoir for 24-hour operation. The Australians think it will work for them, including adding them to their national grid. We've quite a bit of desert that could be used to power the West.
20 posted on 12/26/2008 7:19:57 AM PST by GAB-1955 (Kicking and Screaming into the Kingdom of Heaven! (USCG Aux))
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To: Redbob
Redbob wrote:
There’s no mention of the fact that ordinary diesel will do the same thing, just at slightly lower temperatures.

That’s why someone who knew what he was doing would have installed fuel heaters in that bus.


That's what I was thinking. Although I thought biodiesel had a gel point as low or lower than conventional diesel. Still, winterizing additives can be used in either type of fuel to lower the gel point and make either fuel work just fine in most winter climates, even without a fuel heater.

I agree, though. This article would more appropriately be titled "Alternative Energy Meets Conventional Stupidity"

21 posted on 12/26/2008 7:25:21 AM PST by cc2k
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To: Eric in the Ozarks
The real test of viable forms of “alternative energy” is: does it stand on its own two legs, i.e. does it need government subsidies?!?!

Let's test -—

Do the following need government subsidies (or tax breaks) to work?

Wind: Yes, can't operate without government subsidies or tax breaks.

Solar: Yes, can't operate without government subsidies or tax breaks.

Biodiesel: Yes, can't operate without government subsidies or tax breaks.

End of story ——Case closed!

22 posted on 12/26/2008 7:28:29 AM PST by TRY ONE (NUKE the unborn gay whales!)
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To: TRY ONE
We did quite a bit of investigating into alternative sources of energy (HVAC) when we made plans to build a new house in '01. Solar with batteries really never paid out. Wind is not reliable.
The only high tech system that paid for itself and was reliable was a ground source heat pump with deep wells and heat exchanger. We paid about twice the cost of a traditional heat/cool system but our power bills for a 100 percent electric home are about $100/month. In the summer, our power bill actually goes down since the AC is essentially free.
23 posted on 12/26/2008 7:47:50 AM PST by Eric in the Ozarks
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To: raybbr

It rained all night
The day I left
The weather it was dry
The sun so hot,
I froze to death
Oh AlGore, don’t you cry


24 posted on 12/26/2008 7:55:09 AM PST by wgflyer (Liberalism is to society what HIV is to the immune system.)
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To: GAB-1955
I like solar collector plants using molten sulfur as a heat reservoir for 24-hour operation.

I wonder why molten sulfur, I've had to deal with it and it's pretty nasty.

I hope it works, but my inclination is that it will end up like the liquid sodium breeder reactors with a lot of trouble caused by the operating fluid.

25 posted on 12/26/2008 7:56:22 AM PST by SteamShovel (Global Warming, the New Patriotism)
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To: Eric in the Ozarks
Yea, a ground source heat pump with deep wells and heat exchanger can work in certain area -— primarily rural. Let some Liberal try it on the East side of Manhattan!
26 posted on 12/26/2008 7:57:04 AM PST by TRY ONE (NUKE the unborn gay whales!)
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To: Eric in the Ozarks
Yea, a ground source heat pump with deep wells and heat exchanger can work in certain area -— primarily rural. Let some Liberal try it on the East side of Manhattan!
27 posted on 12/26/2008 7:57:18 AM PST by TRY ONE (NUKE the unborn gay whales!)
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To: TRY ONE

Is it against the law to drill a well there ?


28 posted on 12/26/2008 8:02:25 AM PST by Eric in the Ozarks
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To: raybbr
“We can’t have people sitting on buses freezing to death while we get out there trying to get them restarted,” Mr. Jones said.

BUT WHAT ABOUT THE POLAR BEARS???? A few people freezing to death on a bus is a small price to pay compared to the safety of cute animals.

29 posted on 12/26/2008 8:10:00 AM PST by denydenydeny ("Banish Merry Christmas. Get ready for Mad Max.."-Daniel Henninger)
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To: Venturer
The fact remains that fossil fuels will be used. It makes sense therefore that we drill, that we use coal, that we refine our own sources, that we make ourselves independent of suppliers from other countries,especially countries that are unfriendly to us. Why is that so hard for Pelosi and Reid and the other Democtatic brain trusts on the Hill to understand?

They do understand all that, perfectly well. They want control of all energy sources so that the producers of energy have to bribe them to release the oil or coal a little at a time. They want to strangle the country to provide power and money to their party.

30 posted on 12/26/2008 9:04:55 AM PST by TenthAmendmentChampion (Join us on the best FR thread, 8000+ posts: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/chat/1990507/posts)
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To: SteamShovel
What happens to all that molten sulfur if it solidifies in all the valves and connecting pipes to and from the collecting array. Sounds like a disaster. Or is it just like wind power and they they will rely on back up generation from fossil fuels to keep the system from solidifying? What we are not told by all these wind farm operators is how much electrical power they use from the regular grid when they are not generating power themselves.

Large wind turbines require a large amount of energy to operate. Other electricity plants generally use their own electricity, and the difference between the amount they generate and the amount delivered to the grid is readily determined. Wind plants, however, use electricity from the grid, which does not appear to be accounted for in their output figures. At the facility in Searsburg, Vermont, for example, it is apparently not even metered and is completely unknown. The manufacturers of large turbines — for example, Vestas, GE, and NEG Micon — do not include electricity consumption in the specifications they provide.

Among the wind turbine functions that use electricity are the following:

Yaw mechanism (to keep the blade assembly perpendicular to the wind; also to untwist the electrical cables in the tower when necessary) — the nacelle (turbine housing) and blades together weigh 92 tons on a GE 1.5-MW turbine

blade-pitch control (to keep the rotors spinning at a regular rate)

lights, controllers, communication, sensors, metering, data collection, etc.

heating the blades — this may require 10%-20% of the turbine's nominal (rated) power

heating and dehumidifying the nacelle — according to Danish manufacturer Vestas, “power consumption for heating and dehumidification of the nacelle must be expected during periods with increased humidity, low temperatures and low wind speeds”

oil heater, pump, cooler, and filtering system in gearbox

hydraulic brake (to lock the blades in very high wind)

thyristors (to graduate the connection and disconnection between generator and grid) — 1%-2% of the energy passing through is lost

magnetizing the stator — the induction generators used in most large grid-connected turbines require a “large” amount of continuous electricity from the grid to actively power the magnetic coils around the asynchronous “cage rotor” that encloses the generator shaft; at the rated wind speeds, it helps keep the rotor speed constant, and as the wind starts blowing it helps start the rotor turning; in the rated wind speeds, the stator may use power equal to 10% of the turbine's rated capacity, in slower winds possibly much more

using the generator as a motor (to help the blades start to turn when the wind speed is low or, as many suspect, to maintain the illusion that the facility is producing electricity when it is not,‡ particularly during important site tours) — it seems possible that the grid-magnetized stator must work to help keep the 40-ton blade assembly spinning, along with the gears that increase the blade rpm some 50 times for the generator, not just at cut-in (or for show in even less wind) but at least some of the way up towards the full rated wind speed; it may also be spinning the blades and rotor shaft to prevent warping when there is no wind§

It may be that each turbine consumes more than 50% of its rated capacity in its own operation. If so, the plant as a whole — which may produce only 25% of its rated capacity annually — would be using (for free!) twice as much electricity as it produces and sells. An unlikely situation perhaps, but the industry doesn't publicize any data that proves otherwise; incoming power is apparently not normally recorded.

31 posted on 12/26/2008 9:29:29 AM PST by Red_Devil 232 (VietVet - USMC All Ready On The Right? All Ready On The Left? All Ready On The Firing Line!)
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To: Redbob
That’s why someone who knew what he was doing would have installed fuel heaters in that bus.

Never heard of fuel heaters for diesel vehicles or equipment.

How do do keep the lines from the tank to the engine warm? Heat tape?

32 posted on 12/26/2008 9:50:26 AM PST by Balding_Eagle (Overproduction;, one of the five top worries of the American farmer.)
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To: GAB-1955
Many good Freepers hate Al Gore and the other environmentalists enough to reject any idea of solar and wind out of hand.

Freepers know we need reliable and robust energy sources. e.g. coal and/or nuclear.

Solar and wind power doesn't cut it. It's neither reliable nor robust.

33 posted on 12/26/2008 9:53:46 AM PST by Donald Rumsfeld Fan (Sarah Palin "The Iron Lady of the North")
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To: Red_Devil 232

A study released a few years back showed that land based windmills produced slightly under 30% of their rated capacity, water based mills a little over 30%.

The study covered more than 10,000 European mills over a more than 5 year period.


34 posted on 12/26/2008 9:54:53 AM PST by Balding_Eagle (Overproduction;, one of the five top worries of the American farmer.)
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To: Red_Devil 232
What we are not told by all these wind farm operators is how much electrical power they use from the regular grid when they are not generating power themselves.

Wink..Wink..Nudge..Nudge

GREEN isn't REALLY "green".

The conventional infrastructure and maintenance necessary to keep it reliable and going is never discussed by the people pushing a wholesale conversion to "green" power. It can't be done without a nuclear and/or fossil power backbone.

"Green power" as it currently exists is a smoke screen used to convince us to tear down our infrastructure and join the Kommune.

35 posted on 12/26/2008 9:55:06 AM PST by SteamShovel (Global Warming, the New Patriotism)
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To: SteamShovel

Molten sulfur isn’t the only fluid that can be used for heat retention, but I suspect it’s for getting maximum energy at night.


36 posted on 12/26/2008 11:22:58 AM PST by GAB-1955 (Kicking and Screaming into the Kingdom of Heaven! (USCG Aux))
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To: Balding_Eagle
Diesel fuel heaters have been around as long as Diesel fuel. Usually not necessary in most of the US, but they come in all forms - built into fuel filters, wrapped around lines, or even heating whole tanks. Most Diesel engines circulate a large volume of fuel through the warm engine (or at least it's fuel injection pump) and back to the tank, so they only need a small amount of prewarmed fuel to get them started. In those cases a regular plug in block heater is usually enough for all but arctic conditions. Beyond that, the heating methods used and the reasons for having them can become quite complex. Some extreme climate engines are never shut down, even for routine maintenance such as oil changes, because restarting them would cost more time & energy than just leaving them idling for a shift or even a week or a month.
37 posted on 12/26/2008 2:39:07 PM PST by Clinging Bitterly (Starve the beast.)
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To: raybbr

Ping me for black swans like this, please. Happy New Year!


38 posted on 12/27/2008 12:45:35 AM PST by neverdem (Xin loi minh oi)
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To: raybbr
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

*wipes eyes*

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

39 posted on 12/29/2008 9:05:52 AM PST by pabianice
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To: pabianice

I’ve just done my part for the Earth’s carbon footprint. I bought a gasoline-powered aux generator for my home. So when the power’s off, I can STILL emit CO2!


40 posted on 12/29/2008 9:06:54 AM PST by pabianice
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To: raybbr
Real man's renewable energy source for winter:

Cut firewood

Wood Pellets

41 posted on 12/29/2008 9:14:01 AM PST by TChris (So many useful idiots...)
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To: TChris

Is that second picture poop?


42 posted on 12/29/2008 9:16:01 AM PST by Dutchgirl ("Every Socialist is a disguised dictator." Ludwig Von Mises)
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To: TChris
Real man's renewable energy source for winter:

Yeah, I know...

The other half...

About ten cords. Will last me two years and I paid $400 for it.

43 posted on 12/29/2008 10:18:46 AM PST by raybbr (It's going to get a lot worse now that the anchor babies are voting!)
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To: Dutchgirl
Is that second picture poop?

*lol*

Wood pellets. :-)

44 posted on 12/29/2008 10:31:26 AM PST by TChris (So many useful idiots...)
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To: AdmSmith; Berosus; Convert from ECUSA; dervish; Ernest_at_the_Beach; Fred Nerks; george76; ...
Old Man Winter, it turns out, is no friend of renewable energy.
Renewable energy has few friends, and they have an imaginary one. Thanks neverdem.
45 posted on 12/30/2008 3:48:00 AM PST by SunkenCiv (https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/_______Profile finally updated Saturday, December 6, 2008 !!!)
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