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October Energy Update

By Steve Jones,

It's not just me!

Apparently another SQL Server guy is interested in cars and energy. David Kaplan, after spending 12 years at Microsoft working on SQL Server, is now working on a startup that builds software for electric cars and power utilities. They're working on software that can help balance the load of plug-in vehicles to avoid spikes on the electrical grid. That's a pretty cool use of talent and a problem that we don't want to deal with. Not only is it expensive, but it also results in less-used, and less efficient forms of power generation being used.

I hadn't really thought about this side of the alternative transportation, so it's good that someone is. We certainly don't want to see issues on the electrical grid because everyone plugs in their car at 6pm.

In the solar world, it appears that there might be some cross technology benefits from LCD displays. One of the companies that's producing LCD displays has converted some of its equipment to building solar cells.

The cool part is that they're able to do it cheaperthan many other manufacturers. Solar is a great technology, but the cost has always been an issue. Anything that makes it cheaper makes it more likely that we'll increase the adoption of solar technology from people like me that are interested in lowering our dependence on the grid.

I also saw this interesting piece on thermal plants that stores solar power as heat. I'm not sure this is a better solution than something like a flywheel, at least for storage beyond 24 hours. I still like the flywheels for that, but we have a lot of experience in the US with steam and using it for heat, channeling it around etc. So maybe for some power plants, this makes sense.

The Solar Decathlon was also held in Washington DC recently. Here's a recap if you're interested (photos and videos). The entry from Boulder is interesting; not that aesthetically pleasing, but interesting.

The face of nuclear power in the US - I know lots of you don't like nuclear as an option, but I still believe in it. As someone that worked in a plant, I learned a lot about it and the positives and negatives. No one is more concerned about waste than the people working there. We used to the radiation, but I don't think anyone is that "comfortable" and everyone takes their time in the reactor and dealing with waste very seriously.

Japan and France have been successful, and I'd like to see the US use nuclear more. It's not the answer, but I think it's part of the way to ensure a steady supply of cheap electricity as the world moves forward.

If you follow these updates, you know that I'm interested in wind. The image to the right is actually a new vertical windmill designed for residential applications. It's made by Mariah Power and at around $5k, it's definitely something I'm interested in digging further in and finding out more information.

Now if I can just get my wind monitoring set up and some data, I can calculate just how economical this is for me.

Lastly, if you're curious about how power consumption might work on your PC, check this from Tom's Hardware.

Hope you enjoyed the energy update and maybe learned a few things about alternative energy. Let me know if you are doing any experiments or deploying the technology yourself.

Steve Jones


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The podcast feeds are now available at sqlservercentral.podshow.comto get better bandwidth and maybe a little more exposure :). Comments are definitely appreciated and wanted, and you can get feeds from there.

Today's podcast features music by Everyday Jones. No relation, but I stumbled on to them and really like the music. Support this great duo at www.everydayjones.com.

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