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Re: [sharechat] Hans/Genesis etc

From: "Hans Van der Voorn" <>
Date: Tue, 27 May 2003 10:09:04 +1200

Hi Jim,
I understand the issues of pumped storage very well. I did a brief study on a modest scheme myself sometime last century. Unfortunately it was off the scale in terms of economics. You consume about 15-20% of the available energy on the way down (depending on how efficiently you can configure the equipment) and the same again on the way back up. The other problem is getting enough utilisation time to get a return on capital.
Pumping water uphill does not create energy (as the Dominion Post correspondent assumed). It consumes energy but allows but allows for short term storage of that energy. One scheme in central London uses a deep shaft for this purpose but the reasons there are to do with limits on peak transmission capacity. They also have large nuclear and coal fired power stations running 24hrs/day. The Auckland power crisis some years back is an illustration of a potential use, although in the event it was much more economic to build a cable tunnel. NZ simply doesn't have the need for very expensive short term storage.
Hydrogen production from "sunpower" has the same issues. What is "sunpower"?. If you mean solar power electricity why not use the electricity directly. Solar power electricity is not free. In fact it is hugely expensive compared to what we currently pay, because of the capital cost of the equipment required. It would be dumb to use a lot of electricity to create hydrogen so we could use that hydrogen to create less electricity that than we used in the first place. The only benefit would be portability, and even then it would probably be cheaper to move the electricity than the hydrogen.
Hydrogen has been proposed for use in car fuels. I believe even President Bush thinks it's trendy. I confess that I struggle with the logic of it. I can see the benefits in terms of pollutants. The proposals there are based on using natural gas to produce the hydrogen. The hydrogen can then be used in fuel cells. Why not just use the natural gas directly? Compared to natural gas, hydrogen is a very difficult material to deal with.
So remembering that this group is primarily interested in investments, where does that leave Genesis. Growing plants for fuel is a way of tapping into the sun's energy. I think Snoopy (tongue firmly in cheek), last year suggested Fletcher Forests might be able to use its trees (mostly lignin) as fuel. Genesis' proposals were I believe based on geneticially modifying plants to produce more cellulose and less lignin. This to me seems to be in the realms of maybe "public good" science, but a long way removed from making a commercial return. As an investor I would have no interest on backing that. To be fair, Dr Watson probably made an off the cuff comment that has been blown out of proportion.
----- Original Message -----
From: Jim Insley
Sent: Monday, May 26, 2003 11:11 PM
Subject: [sharechat] Hans/Genesis etc

Hans,there is no problem with hydrogen production via electrolysis if sunpower can be efficiently utilized......efficient meaning the energy cost of the operation being less than the hydrogen/oxygen result.....Further,pumping water uphill is not stupid if you have excess energy unutilized and wish to store it for times when it is needed.There is a scheme in the UK which does exactly this.



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