Cheap Clean Abundant Power: Secondary Implications

If polywell fusion is developed, in what ways will the world change for better or worse? Discuss.

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N3NCY
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Cheap Clean Abundant Power: Secondary Implications

Postby N3NCY » Sun Nov 09, 2008 6:38 pm

On my commute to work over the last two weeks the "time change" out of daylight savings time occurred as scheduled every fall and spring.
I could not help making some observations along the way.

On my way to work in the dark morning hours before the time changed:
1.) School kids stood at bus stops in the dark
2.) Well lit areas along my route included:
- Mostly wealthy neighborhoods (street lights and parking lots)
- Gas stations (yes they have money for bright signs and lights)

On my way home in the evenings after the time changed:
1.) Houses and driveways of the more "well to do" neighborhoods were brightly lit (in some cases lights were on all night or at least late into the night)
2.) Communities with a higher economic standing:
- Have more lighted areas
- Have brighter lighted areas
- Have lighting systems that stay on more hours of the night and in many cases all night

Although I do not have statistical data (other than my own observations), it is clear that lighting favors the wealthy.

I wonder how much this affects crime (and other safety factors like children waiting for a school bus)?

If electricity became much less costly, so much so that the "monthly electric bill" was not a key factor, would more areas have night lighting?
I suspect that the answer would be: YES

I wonder what other day to day implications of having more "night lighting" may result from "Cheap Clean Abundant Power"?

Would people spend more disposable income during the "social evening hours"?
(Money they currently spend on electricity and fuel)

I can think of one down side to increased lighting:
Increased "Light Pollution" that my hamper my telescope and view of the stars!
Of course if I save money on power, I could afford a better telescope and a relaxing trip with the family to enjoy using it...

I think the "Secondary Implications" of "Cheap Clean Abundant Power" may be more valuable than one could easily assign to a dollar figure.
Something as simple as better night lighting may have a profound effect on society.
Thank you,

Ernest G. Wilson II
http://www.N3NCY.com

Nanos
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Postby Nanos » Thu Nov 13, 2008 2:57 pm

I once lived in a very poor neighbourhood and had lots of security lighting, various comments from the criminal element in the area said that it would make their job easier to break in or mug people because they could see better..

Now I live in a slightly less poor neighbourhood and I used to have security lighting outside, but found it would attract groups who would spend all night drink/smoking and breaking windows, so now its removed to be replaced by infared CCTV instead..

So I think lighting on its own would actually probably make matters worse, only if you included more police/cops on the beat to catch people causing trouble might it prove useful.

DKelley
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Postby DKelley » Thu Nov 13, 2008 7:46 pm

So lighting may have an undesirable affect regardless of the location.

On the subject of crime, I've heard that fences tend to have a negative affect from one's intention since a thief, once inside a fence, no longer has to worry about prying eyes from the neighborhood. (And any half-witted thief knows enough to stake out a house and wait for the occupants to leave the premises before entering the fence.)

[sarcasm]
So, if a fence to block out an unwanted element is instead replaced with an electric, see-through fence (presumably when electricity is cheap) then would that have a positive impact on crime, regardless social/wealth status of the neighborhood?
[/sarcasm]
"Just because you can," doesn't mean "you should."

BenTC
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Postby BenTC » Mon Aug 17, 2009 9:05 am

In theory there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice there is.

Nik
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IIRC...

Postby Nik » Mon Aug 17, 2009 6:22 pm

Trick is to have just enough 'fuzzy' light to remove concealment but maintain some night-vision.

Floodlights create enough deep, dark shadows to hide a football team...

Our neighbour took down her motion-sensor flood-lights overlooking garage roof because local cats would go there to bask...
;-)

choff
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Postby choff » Tue Aug 18, 2009 12:21 am

Where I live they steal the security camera's even though they become clearly identified in the process. No fear of arrest unless theft over $1000.00.
CHoff

krenshala
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Postby krenshala » Sat Aug 22, 2009 12:51 am

choff wrote:Where I live they steal the security camera's even though they become clearly identified in the process. No fear of arrest unless theft over $1000.00.

I've seen some really expensive security cameras ... $1500+ in some cases. And they don't look that expensive until you see the images and options they have available (been installing networked and power-over-ethernet cameras at work lately).

Stoney3K
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Postby Stoney3K » Wed Sep 02, 2009 12:33 pm

More directed lighting (possible with today's LED systems) on key areas and more soft-toned, 'frosted' lighting on general public areas might be the best way to go here.

Daylight doesn't have a lot of shadows, because it's been diffused by the Earth's atmosphere, as opposed to hard sunlight. We're more accustomed to diffuse, indirect lighting ad the level of that changes gradually. Everybody hates to look straight into a spotlight's beam.
Because we can.

jsbiff
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Postby jsbiff » Thu Jun 10, 2010 7:22 pm

I'd like to mention an additional possible explanation for the 'less lighting in poor neighborhoods' observation of the original parent:

I don't think the cost of electric power really dominates that situation. I think that the costs of fixtures and lightbulbs is probably more a driver of that particular dynamic. I also imagine that in poor neighborhoods, there is a higher risk of theft or destruction of lights and fixtures, meaning you can't use cheap fixtures, you need heavy duty, expensive fixtures which are resistant to vandalism and theft.

I also think it makes sense, as someone else pointed out, if you don't have sufficient law enforcement resources in a neighborhood, then lighting might be worse than no lighting.

However, all that said - I do think one potentially important secondary implication of extremely cheap electric power might be that the price of a lot of other goods comes down considerably. The way I see it, in the end, the only real 'costs' (for manufactured goods) are energy, limited materials availability (supply/demand of raw materials can dominate the prices of goods produced from those materials), and time.

But, if the price of power were to ever significantly drop (say, by something substantial like 50% - 80%), shouldn't the price of almost every manufactured good come down as well? Granted, if the costs to producers come down, there will always be profit margin inflation (that is, the price of goods won't drop quite as quickly as the drop in the price of energy), but in a healthy free market, companies shouldn't be able to pad their profit margins too much when the price of energy goes down.

Seems like this would have a compounding effect too - in addition to the direct energy costs for any given manufacturer going down, the price of the equipment, raw materials, and 'parts' that a manufacturer has to buy from other producers should go down as well, meaning that that manfucturer can potentially *further* reduce their prices, because not just their energy costs, but virtually all of their costs (except, maybe, human labor, health insurance benefits, real estate/leases, etc) would go down as well.

Could we, maybe, experience real price deflation without corresponding wage/income deflation for the first time in history?

So, bringing this back on topic, it may be that cheap energy could lead to the costs of light fixtures and bulbs/LEDs coming down to the point where poorer neighborhoods can afford them? Well, I can dream.

In reality, probably, the rich will continue to get richer, as they (almost) always do, and the poor will continue to get shafted by the rich.

MSimon
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Postby MSimon » Thu Jun 10, 2010 7:25 pm

Could we, maybe, experience real price deflation without corresponding wage/income deflation for the first time in history?


Computer prices vs capability for the last 40 years.
Engineering is the art of making what you want from what you can get at a profit.

jsbiff
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Postby jsbiff » Thu Jun 10, 2010 7:36 pm

MSimon wrote:
Could we, maybe, experience real price deflation without corresponding wage/income deflation for the first time in history?


Computer prices vs capability for the last 40 years.


But that's one industry (tech), I'm wondering about a more wide-spread deflation of everything from food, to clothes, furniture to cars/trucks, even to things like new houses, HVAC, toys, industrial equipment, medical equipment and supplies, etc, etc.

I'd also like to point out that in about the last 15 years, it seems like, while the prices of computers and electronics have come down some, mostly, features/capabilities increase while the price remains almost constant.

For example, the price of hard drives hasn't come down much in the last 6 or 8 years, but they now have 1000 times the amount of storage, and higher speeds, than they did 8 years ago. Same with computers and electronics as a whole, generally speaking.

cgray45
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Postby cgray45 » Thu Jun 10, 2010 10:39 pm

Here's one factor-- polywell would make energy cheap-- and their are methods to produce fuel from CO2, but they are very, very energy expensive.

Now I doubt it would make gasoline super cheap, but what it would do would stabilize the price of gas-- instead of worrying about price spikes whenever a rig blows up/Iran gets annoyed/Pigeon farts in Wall Street you would see gasoline likely become a fairly fixed price item.

jsbiff
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Postby jsbiff » Mon Jun 14, 2010 3:50 pm

cgray45 wrote:Here's one factor-- polywell would make energy cheap-- and their are methods to produce fuel from CO2, but they are very, very energy expensive.

Now I doubt it would make gasoline super cheap, but what it would do would stabilize the price of gas-- instead of worrying about price spikes whenever a rig blows up/Iran gets annoyed/Pigeon farts in Wall Street you would see gasoline likely become a fairly fixed price item.


I've been thinking about this. I basically see what you're saying - cheap energy should put a bit of a 'ceiling' on the price of gas - it might still be more expensive to synthesize gas than to get it from geological sources, but not much more expensive, so any time a disruption in the oil supply would have otherwise caused a big price spike, you can bring online production of synthetic gas (or maybe diesel) at a basically fixed price.

Am I understanding that correctly?

The problem, I see, with that line of logic is, if it is still cheaper to produce gas 'the old fashioned way', then there's no incentive for investors to build what you might call 'emergency production' in terms of the synthetic fuel plants you propose. Thus, when 'oil shocks' happen, the infrastructure won't be there to produce synthetic fuels in the quantities necessary to stabilize the price?

Or, perhaps you are suggesting that synthetic fuel will become cheap *enough* to produce that there will be incentive to build a lot of synthetic fuel plants, but that they would be selling the fuel at basically today's prices (maybe slightly cheaper, but not "super cheap"), and once there are enough of them, the price becomes basically fixed (and possibly, gradually trending downward)? So, like, maybe if something like 1/3 of the national fuel supply came from synthetic fuel, and the rest from geological oil, that could still be enough to 'soften' the effects of oil shocks?

MirariNefas
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Postby MirariNefas » Mon Jun 14, 2010 4:55 pm

Another thing to consider is that price shocks (as I understand it) don't represent actual, immediate scarcity. Even if a country halts exports or something, a fair amount of oil is in storage/transit, available to prevent scarcity for weeks or months. It wouldn't necessarily take a large infrastructure or oil producing stations to stretch that out farther and smooth out price shocks.

I guess I'd wonder just how much equipment it takes to make oil, and if it has anything in common with a standard refinery. Supply takes a hit, and refineries close up shop? That costs a lot. If it didn't cost too much, they'd have some add-on equipment that they'd flip on when tanker shipments are cancelled, to keep some base level of productivity going.

Just a thought. I don't know much about refineries or making oil from air.

KitemanSA
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Postby KitemanSA » Mon Jun 14, 2010 6:37 pm

I suspect strongly that if the price of SYNgasoline ever could reach ABOUT the price of PETROgasoline there would be all SORTS of political machinations to cause the selection of one over the other. It seems to me that the SYNgasoline folks have the upper political hand on this one. Can you say"
  • Global Warming
  • Exxon Valdez
  • BP Deepwater Horizon
  • OPEC...
I think Americans would choose to force everyone to pay a bit more now for stability later.


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