U.S. legislation –
1. Power plant Fuels Conservation Act provided for converting 80 U.S. power stations from oil-firing to coal-firing
1. During the 1970s the two oil and gas crises, the last in 1979, drove everyone to attempt to wean the U.S from ‘foreign oil’. This explains why we went from oil burning to coal burning power plants, with all their pollution. It was better to have electricity with pollution than no electricity at all.
2. Magnetic Fusion Energy Engineering Act increased national research on fusion power. New installations were a Tokamak Fusion Test Reactor at Princeton N.J.; the Mirror Fusion Test Facility at Livermore, CA; the Elmo Bumpy Torus Proof of Principle Experiment at Oakridge, TN; and Materials Fusion Irradiation Test Facility at Hanford, WA. Act sought to commission a demonstration fusion power station by 2000.
2. Magnetic fusion was supposed to make clean, pollution free energy with no radioactive byproducts, and save the world. Here it is, 2012, and we still haven’t seen a single watt of commercial electricity made by fusion, after spending tens of billions of dollars trying to develop the technology. What a waste. If that money had been used to harness thermonuclear fusion by building solar power plants, we would have been much better off. More on fusion power in this Wikipedia article.
3. Wind Energy Systems Act set a target for installing 800 MW of wind generation capacity in the U.S.A. by 1988
3. I don’t know if that 800 MW target was met by that date, but today there is much more than that of installed wind generating capacity in the U.S.A. and it continues to grow. The U.S. nameplate capacity was 47,000 MW at the end of 2011 (see Wikipedia article).
4. Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion Research, Development and Demonstration Act established a national U.S. target of 10,000 MW of O.T.E.C generating capacity by 1999.
4. There is an OTEC system in Hawaii, but I’ve never heard of any OTEC power at 10,000 MW. Another dead end?
5. In 1981 a 3 MW wind generator was commissioned by Southern California Edison.
No doubt it was in the Altamont Pass, Calif. Nowadays, one can drive through the pass and see thousands of wind turbines – they’re as thick as ants on an anthill! Another wind farm is Banning Pass, on the way to Palm Springs, Calif.
6. World’s first electric utility fuel cell power plant was commissioned in New York. The 4.8 MW prototype comprised 14 modules.
6. We seldom hear of fuel cell electric generation. I’ve heard of vehicular fuel cells that burn hydrogen, and give off zero pollution.
7. 1982 Wind Turbines – USA — between 1982 and 1984 over 2,000 wind turbines of 50 kW to 100 kW were installed at a wind farm at Altamont Pass, California. Another 550 were planned.
7. Looks like the 1980s were the years when wind turbines sprouted up like crazy over the landscape. But they’re still installing them like crazy, as can be seen in this Wikipedia article. The older, less powerful ones are being replaced by much more powerful wind turbines. The picture in this article was so bad it was difficult to see the WTs, so I increased the brightness and contrast and attached it above – they are much easier to see. In the Wikipedia article, the problem of wind variability is brought up, and one solution used in the U.K. is the Dinorwig pumping station. When demand is low, the excess electricity is used to pump water up to a higher reservoir. During peak demand, the water is let out and on the way down generates electricity from the same pumps. It is also used to stabilize the variable wind output.
8. Solar energy- U.S.A. — two plants commissioned – “Solar One” near Barstow, California, a 10 MW central receiver pilot plant, and “Solar Total Energy Project” at Shenandoah, Georgia, the world’s first complete dish system.