CSIRO Future Fuels Forum

This article is cross-posted from the Newsletter on the CSIRO website.

The transport sector is the third biggest emitter of greenhouse gases in Australia, and the Energy Transformed National Research Flagship and its collaborators are focusing on finding solutions to this crucial issue through the new Future Fuels Forum.

The initiative will articulate the main challenges for our nation in arriving at a secure and sustainable transport fuel mix for the road, rail, air and sea sectors to 2050 by drawing on the expertise of forum participants and utilising sophisticated techno-economic modelling tools.

Scenarios will explore, for example, international oil supply, likely policy changes such as emission trading, future fuels and technologies and how quickly they can be deployed.

The Future Fuels Forum report will be released in June 2008.

The Future Fuels Forum is designed to provide input to decision makers in industry and government on strategic policy and future investment. This will be articulated through the release of a comprehensive report in June 2008.

This project follows the successful Energy Futures Forum (EFF), a collaboration with energy industry stakeholders which ran from 2004 to 2006 and developed scenarios for the future of energy in Australia.

At its conclusion the EFF issued a much referenced report, The Heat Is On, and recently won the CSIRO Strategic Excellence Partnership Award.

An impressive list of participants has gathered, bringing a wealth of experience and many different perspectives that relate to the fuel and transport sectors.
Future Fuels Forum participants are:

* Australian Automobile Association
* Australian Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas
* Biofuels Association of Australia
* Caltex
* Engineers Australia
* Future Climate Australia
* National Roads and Motorists Association
* National Transport Commission
* Public Interest Advocacy Centre
* Queensland Rail
* Rocky Point Distillery
* Sasol Chevron
* The South Australian Government
* The Victorian Government
* Woolworths

The Forum’s work has already begun to ensure the transport sector can continue delivering its many benefits and at the same time reduce its environmental impact, an outcome that supports the Flagship’s goal of significant greenhouse gas reduction from the energy and transport sectors.

The Forum is still accepting expressions of interest to join the initiative. To register interest please contact Mr Paul Graham, Energy Futures Research Leader at futurefuels@csiro.au or + 61 2 4960 6061.

The list contains both nostalgia peddlers like the AAA and some possible players for 2nd gen biofuels like Sasol.

I intend to lurk around their progress reports since I am but a lowly backyarder. For example I will plant several Chinese Tallow trees in June hoping to get a full 5 litres of biodiesel in 2012. That might seem like gold by then.

Care to explain to the ignorant (specifically, me) how you make biodiesel from a tallow tree ?

Good question since I haven't done it yet. Apparently step 1 is remove the waxy coating of the unbroken seeds using hot water. I'm not sure if the wax is a lipid however. Step 2 is mush the seeds and heat them in hot water (maceration) and squish the oil out (think coffee plunger) which should float to the top to be poured off. After filtering out the debris process into biodiesel via normal methods. Use the leftover mash on the compost heap.

That's how I think it works. The questions are whether the acreage yields are adequate and the seed gathering takes too much effort. It could be that if algae experiments fail we are already close to peak lipids based fuel ie using plant oils and chicken fat.

I now feel so much more relieved now that finally, the committee of boffins, usually reffered to in the vernacular as they, have deigned to gather to come up with the something that popular folk lore has prophesied they always would when the oil ran out.

I am very glad to see Caltex there too. I'm sure that the time is just about right for the evil oil industry to release some of that long suppressed technology that will usher in the water burning, zero emission, never fill up perpetual motion car!

Go boffins!

If you keeping making comments like this one day I'm going to be tempted to try and sneak in a post on the history of zero-point energy.

Of course, I'd probably be ejected from TOD immediately if I did so - but maybe it would be a fun idea for April fools day...

In the meantime, you might find these videos amusing - apparently a perpetual motion vehicle is already available :-)


Has that got something to do with Feng Shui?

April Fools day ?

No - its an English tradition...

they are already working on hybrids, PHEVs and EVs.

future fuels and technologies and how quickly they can be deployed

Wow, before it's even invented they're planning for it! That reminds me of the US plan I saw that talked about fusion power plants and their EROEI! I'm ever so glad that they will come up with something.

Maybe they could come up with some great inventions like these brilliant concepts!

Oh dear, what if they never get those wonderful new inventions to work? Whatever will we do?

I just hope that when the trams come back they are kept separate from the bike paths.

Cars are bad, but trams are much scarier (though a side-benefit of the noise is that you can hear them coming from a fair way off)...

Losing your toes to frostbite on Everest won't be the badge of honour when every third person has the same problem.

They've got a lot of ways of doing it in Amsterdam, Copenhagen and similar cities, but one way's being reproduced here in Melbourne in one street (from little things, big things grow, Paul Kelly told us).

Notice that the cyclists are physically separated from road traffic, and that the parked cars act as a barrier. Important also is the raised area between the car parking and the bike path - they call that the "car door swing zone" and the benefits are obvious to anyone who's ever cycled by parked cars.

And all without any research by the CSIRO:)

Check out the Copenhagen bike blog, Cyclelicious.

Nice idea - I always have the fear when I'm in the swing zone.

Paul Kelly has many wise things to say, but he can get stroppy at times - I saw him play at a pub in London once, and the one phrase which stuck in my mind forevermore was "I'm not a f***ing jukebox", when the crowd were yelling requests during the encore...

They don't make 'em like Paul Kelly anymore ... but what's this got to do with trams?

Kiashu used a Paul Kelly quote in the message I replied to - it was enough to launch me off into some random anecdote...

Ahhh yes ...

Eight years went by
Eight long years of waiting
Till one day a tall stranger appeared in the land
His name was Whitlam and he came with great ceremony
And through Vincent's fingers he poured a handful of sand
From little things...

They don't make songwriters like Paul anymore.

This is great, really, it's the way all major roads in metro areas should have been built when we had the oil to do so. Or the cheap oil.

I live in an area where there was never even the money or foresight to put in SIDEWALKS. So if you want to walk, you have to get into the road with the cars. A lot of Ohio is like that.

Now imagine how much it would cost to put in sidewalks! Try to lobby some broke township or city to do this. When there's no money, there's no money.

Big improvements to infrastructure? Is that really possible now? I'd like to believe so myself, but it won't happen where I live--they can't even take care of the potholes. Only in the wealthiest countries....

Its not like America can't afford to fix potholes or build sidewalks (or footpaths, as we call them down here) - its just that it chooses to spend its money on other things.

Even with increased energy prices, there are large changes to the way you spend your federal budget that would enable sidewalk construction.

Assuming the country doesn't get driven completely bankrupt by the gang of crooks currently in charge of course.

Too late.

I think the latest group of crooks are just the cherry on the top of the triple scoop banana split.

The real fork in the two paths was in 1980. We had two visions, one of smiles and Morning in America and one of hard work and uncertain future. To misquote Robert Frost, "We took the easy way and it made all the difference." Can you imagine what we as country and as a world could have done with 28 years of careful leadership and actual investment? Instead we got the flying party in Chapter 21 of Life the Universe and Everything. I often wonder if it is a thin disguised description of America....




What a great thought - I was too young when I read Douglas Adams to consider that he might be making a point about the politics of the day.

I loved the Flying Party idea - remember how towards the end it arms itself and start plundering neighbouring planets, in search of party liquids ?

And decimating the avocado farms on the world below.

The Hitchhikers Guide came out in 1978, during an era of fuel scarcity and critical examination of many of the periods institution. People were concerned about the Club of Rome's predictions of resource scarsity 1st world overconsumption. People were advocating Zero Population Growth because we expected that as the population of developing nations expanded, there would be proportionally more Rich and Middle Class using more resources. And there was the assumption that the third world would crawl out of poverty and start living an energy intensive standard of living.

So it doesn't surprise me that the image of a well armed, dangerous party, raiding the landscape and sucking down all the liquor was conceived in the 1970's. In many ways it describes the 1st world. Even the comments about the types of people that are at the party are spot on. Mean, but spot on.

We jog between the rail (when we are not having a Mardi Gras parade) on the St. Charles Streetcar Line in New Orleans (bicycles are banned by general consensus since hey are dangerous mechanical devices likely to drive over people) and the concreted section of the Canal Streetcar Line has become a de facto bikeway as well.

Best Hopes for Non-Oil Transportation,


I've been cycling every day in the Hague for the last few years. Generally cycle paths are separate from cars and trams as in Copenhagen, but there are quite a few places where all three share the same space. The biggest hazard for bikes, is inadvertently getting stuck in a rut - getting the front wheel stuck in the tram track, when trying to cross at a shallow angle, especially in the wet. I tasted tarmac last week in these circumstances.

I don't find cycling with trams a problem, they are slow to accelerate and very predictable. Not dropping your wheel in their tracks is the only issue i can think of. Some heroic cyclists hold onto trams for a free ride up hills, which if designed for could be a sane thing to do.

I ride on the same roads as trams all the time, and don't find them any problem at all - so predictable.

Separate bike paths are good on a road with no cross-streets and driveways. On other roads they look good, but can cause problems - the devil is in the detail of the intersections. Often the "separation" unexpectedly disappears, and motorists find newbie cyclists popping out near the kerb as they are looking in another direction.

I've ridden the Swanston St Copenhagen-style lanes, and they have this problem too. The lane disappears at the frequent intersections.

If you ride for transport in a city, bike lanes are no substitute for skills, awareness and experience in merging with other traffic, "taking the lane" etc.

And don't ride in the door zone, unless you're going very slowly! Use your merging skills to take the lane (when safe) instead.

The obvious solution is to have no breaks. Every road should have bike paths.

Works for the Danes and the Dutch.

You forgot one!

I wish I could remember where I read it, but I once read a writer from the late 19th century talking about how London had X horses and therefore X million tonnes of horse shit to clean off the streets every year. The writer calculated future likely population and growth in per capita wealth to arrive at a calculation of likely number of horses and volume of horse shit, and said that this would be a big problem in the future, having enough people to shovel horse shit, and getting enough feed into the city, he reckoned they'd have to import the stuff.

Kind of quaint, really. I wonder if people will look back on our speculations in the same way.

Quick google and calc as follows

Average 1000 pound horse shits 50lb day.(from google)

Metric conversion is 22.68Kg.

Using Melbourne as example.

Population approx 4 million. Assume 1 horse per 4 people??? (in 1900 at the peak of horse poulation it was 1:3)

= 1,000,000 x 22.68

= 22,680 tonnes of horse shit per day.

You're proabably right. We should cross off horses for any form of urban transport. The environmental issues are huge. Not that thats ever stopped us from doing implementing stupid thisngs before. And as always, if you are sitting on the horse, you won't be knee deep in shit, soa re unlikely to care too much about the poor plebs who have to wade through it each day.

Oh, I'd definitely rather have horse shit than an equivalent amount of muffler emissions, at least the horse shit is good for the soil :)

I was just describing the old article as a quaint example showing we can never quite predict the future, which comes out both better than we ever dreamed and worse than we ever dared imagine.

One of the problems with horse emissions are flies. One of the benefits of the IC was a significant drop in flies in cities.

lol !! :-) lovely Sunday morning !

This is Australia, mate, we're used to flies.

There's a little toss of the hand you do to get the flies away from your face, it's called "the Australian Wave".

You could convert that manure to methane to make electricity. The remains could be composted and used on urban gardens. Of course, parking all those critters might be a problem.

use the poo power to make electricity for your PHEV or EV.

"= 22,680 tonnes of horse shit per day."

Sounds like a lot of fertilizer and we could make it into power like they turn cow shit into cow power. gives new meaning to horsepower.

good observation kiashu.

You missed one:

You ALL forgot this one:

and, yes that really is (are?) humans standing behind it...it's a 15 inch gauge locomotive.

It from the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway in England. The locomotives can travel at up to 60 kph (about 40 miles per hour), but are usually run at speeds of about 40 kph (25 miles per hour). The local school uses the railway as a form of mass transit, because it's much cheaper to run than a bus, and the kids respond favourably, too.

The role for biofuel is not zero, but what is it? The killer app is whenever high power to weight ratio is required including the energy store (battery or fuel tank). That includes aircraft and emergency vehicles like ambulances. Biofuels store up to 10 kwh or more of energy per litre of volume. They can be used unmodified in cheap, reliable and recyclable internal combustion engines albeit with poor thermal efficiency.

Having said that they will never be enough unless there is a technology breakthrough. That technology is clearly not fermenting and distilling alcohols from grain as currently practised. Other non-microbial pathways include gasification with charcoal byproduct as a lo tech fuel or soil additive, transesterification or hydrogenation of fatty materials, Fischer Tropsch conversion to petroleum-like hydrocarbons and aqueous reforming perhaps using supercritical fluids and new nondestructive catalysts. One or more of these pathways has to fill the niche for biofuels. Maybe if we ditched conventional fossil fuels we could even afford some low key CO2 emissions from coal-to-liquids.

To make it happen we need to tax or cap CO2 emissions, cancel subsidies for dead ends like corn ethanol, abolish blending quotas, promote electrification, promote conservation, give timed help with R&D costs and check to see whether biofuels are creating perverse local effects. Then we'll find out what role biofuel has to play but it has to be at least a million barrels a day.

Australia produces 5 millions tonnes per year of sugar from sugarcane and 85% of that is exported.

If we say bugger-off to the rest of the world, that is enough for 5400 megalitres of ethanol or around 20% of current fuel use, which is not too shabby.

There are a number of CTL projects, linc Energy (http://lincenergy.com.au) looks like the first mover here, which could provide enough transportation fuels as long as we're allowed from GreenHouse gas emission constraints.

There are any number of second-generation BioFuels ideas. This one from coskata (http://www.coskataenergy.com/) looks promising.

Then the whole electricfication of transport ideas. Trains and trams are great for some forms of commuting but there is always going to be a big demand for personal transportation.

My favourite "out-there" idea is PV based Hydrogren production together with FT style hydrocarbon fuel synthesis. If nanosolar (http://nanosolar.com) and the other thin film companies continue to deliver we'll have large scale $1 per peak watt PV in a few years time and exponential expansion of the PV industry at over 100% growth per year.

Anyway I hope these guys can avoid NIH and look at the best of the best from around the world. Openning branch plants for nanosolar may well be the smartest thing we can do.

Trains and trams are great for some forms of commuting but there is always going to be a big demand for personal transportation.

That's very true. But whether there will be much energy-assisted transportation for the individual is not just a function of demand, but also our ability to find power for it.

there is always going to be a big demand for personal transportation.

Other than the odd plumbers truck, adequately supplied by shoe leather and bicycles with the proper Urban form.

Best Hopes for a 3/4 mile bus ride & mile walk to catch the Krewe of Barkus (the St. Charles streetcar shut down at 10 AM for the Sunday human parades),



Hi, Weatherman.

That may help. All my research seems to indicate that algal production may provide some amount of mitigation, but not much.

From another list:

The Business Week article (Nov. 2007) they linked on their website
puts this into better perspective:

"Bringing down the cost of producing algae oil in commercial
volumes—billions of gallons—is still a big challenge. "The scale
required to grow algae to a meaningful dimension is staggering," says
Bill Green, managing partner at VantagePoint Venture Partners."

"Extracting oil from algae is currently a cumbersome affair that
involves drying and processing the plants." (a point often overlooked
in considering energy inputs)

"Imperium buys practically every drop of oil U.S. algae startups are
producing. So far it has sold just a few hundred gallons of finished
fuel. But Tobias has dedicated a 5 million-gallon refinery to algae
oil, and by 2011 he expects startups to be making 100 million gallons
a year. At that point, Tobias reckons, the price per gallon will fall
to $1.70, from as much as $20 today."

So let's put that scale in perspective. 100 million gallons possible
by 2011. One year post peak we lose 46 billion gallons of conventional
crude. Algae may well play a nice niche role in the future especially
in places such as power plants, but it will end up being one of many
many things that we will do and still not keep our heads above water.

Pity because I was hopeful about this and Shell arn't dummys. Perhaps the writer got carried away with the sales patter. Some other solution to the energy crisis needed.

Biofuels are a long term dead end.
I would suggest building lots of thermal solar electric power plants in the outback and use the electricity to separate CO2 from the atmosphere & break it apart to C + O2. Then use electrolisis to break water (H2O) into H2 + O. Chemically combine the C + H in the correct chain lengths (chemical engineering) to form synthetic - gasoline, diesel and crude oil. You could even add a few O atoms to the chain to make cleaner burning fuel. You have just produced carbon neutral fuel. And it can be used in all existing vehicles and transported, distributed and sold using existing infrastructure!
To sequester carbon you take the crude oil produced with excess electricity and pump it back into your depleted oil fields. The original oil lasted millions of years in those formations and the synthetic crude should do the same. And if you ever have a short term emergency need for energy you can pump the crude back out of the ground.
This can all be done with existing technology, but is at present a rather inefficient process. There is very little funding at present to improve the process, but there should be!?!? When you are facing shortages of fuel due to Peak Oil, inefficiencies may not matter.
And the solar thermal power plants can also supply the electricity needed for all of the country?
Is the outback really good for anything else?

Jon Kutz Minnesota USA
"Tinkerer and Dreamer"
Politician - A marionette running for public office

Actually, the outback is quite rich in resources including direct solar, stored solar (convective available potential energy) and geothermal energy. The solar could impinge on a biofuel plant based on algae.

These can be best utilized by combining them with an Atmospheric Vortex Engine to produce electricity cheaply. It would use the geothermal directly, the "thermal" solar by serving as a "bottoming cycle" and a portion of the electricity produced would be required to refrigerate the algae plant (less than 10% of the incoming sunlight is converted to biomass).

Ultimatley, by strategically locating plants along both the northern and southern coasts utilizing warm water from the seas and inlets, fresh water could be brought into the area.

Cracking CO2 at 400ppm from the atmosphere is thermodynamically a "not-starter"

Cracking CO2 at 400ppm from the atmosphere is thermodynamically a "not-starter"

"Cracking" implies breaking some strong bond, so 'HvyOilGuy's above remark is inscrutable. It is hard, I would guess, to break a CO2 molecule free of the spacetime continuum, but easy, and thermodynamically spontaneous, to condense it out of air.

How shall the car gain nuclear cachet?

Here comes the electric car (again)
This time it's Renault & Nissan with Israel's money:


Bets are open :-)

With current ranges, say 100KM, the number of service station would need to be
increased by a large number as cars on petrol get some 400 to 600 KM range.
So we would be looking at some 5 times the number of service stations, if the change over/recharge time was the same as for petrol.

On another tack, we often see it quoted that farmers without diesal could only farm much smaller acreage.
If electricity was to be used then they could farm the same area.
Systems similar to trolley buses could be used which would require the placing of poles and overhead wires across each paddock. A fairly small slice of land would have to be non cropping for each line of poles.

Any farmers on here see a problem with this ?

I do and I'm not even a farmer...haven't you noticed the news stories about how copper thieves are stealing copper from anything that isn't nailed down, including some sub-stations (and getting roasted nicely in the process... Kentucky Fried Copperthief, anyone?). Now, we're gonna string up all this stuff (overhead power supply line) in order to supply electricity over THOUSANDS of hectares worth of farmland?

My heavens, this is a copper scavenger's dream come true. Just wait until the farmer goes to bed and you've got several million in copper just waiting for you.

I wanna know what's wrong with steam? The present diesel can be (easily) converted to steam, by a refit of the present valve gear, or a whole new head, if they wanna do the project in a really up-market fashion.

The fuel? All the left-over stuff that farms PRESENTLY generate from harvesting crops. Steam boilers can use things like saw dust as fuel, so chaff will present no problem...or saw-mill waste, or the left-over of sugar-cane refining, and it re-uses the presently existing technology - that of the piston -and - crankshaft driving the existing drive-train.

The problem with electrical power is you gotta yank the whole damn engine out (and possibly discard the gear-box), then manufacture another thing (the electric motor) that uses no parts from the present engine.

As Matt Savinar points out, trying to re-engineer everything to run on electricity would require more Oil than it would save - in the manufacture, especially.

We need a system the re-uses the present stuff. Only steam can do that...here's the boiler/condenser from a Stanley Steamer

A modern steam car:

From wikipedia:

Saab steam car
As a result of the 1973 oil crisis, SAAB started a project in 1974 headed by Dr. Ove Platell which made a prototype steam-powered car. It used an electronically-controlled 28 pound multi-parallel-circuit steam generator with 1 millimetre bore tubing and 16 gallon per hour firing rate which was intended to produce 160 horsepower (119 kW), and was about the same size as a standard car battery. Lengthy start-up times were circumvented by a system using compressed air that was stored when the car was running and which powered the car upon starting until adequate steam pressure was built up. The engine used a conical rotary valve made from pure boron nitride. To conserve water, a hermetically sealed water system was used.

Enginion Steamcell

From 1996, a R&D subsidiary of the Volkswagen group called Enginion AG was developing a system called ZEE (Zero Emissions Engine). It produced steam almost instantly without an open flame, and took 30 seconds to reach maximum power from a cold start. Their third prototype, EZEE03, was a three-cylinder unit meant to fit in a Skoda Fabia automobile. The EZEE03 was described as having a "two-stroke" (i.e. single-acting) engine of 1000 cc (164 cubic inch) displacement, producing up to 220 hp (500 N·m or 369 ft·lbf)[9]. Exhaust emissions were said to be far below the SULEV standard. It had an "oilless" engine with ceramic cylinder linings using steam instead of oil as a lubricant. However, Enginion found that the market was not ready for steam cars, so they opted instead to develop the "Steamcell" power generator/heating system based on similar technology.[10][11]

Some links:




Your copper theft "concerns" are overblown (and steam is liky not the answer, too inefficient).

India has a large section of their railroads electrified, and converting more. They keep unused lines "hot" while under construction.

The problem with electrical power is you gotta yank the whole damn engine out (and possibly discard the gear-box), then manufacture another thing (the electric motor) that uses no parts from the present engine

HARDLY ! Electric motors are routinely rewound and reused. When Seattle went to the next generation of electric trolley buses, they rewound the electric motors and rebuilt the transmissions from the old ETBs for the new ones.

Please do not post such large links of limited interest in the future, it slows loading for those with dialup and is just a distraction for most.


UCM - Alan has a good point about the size of the image file.

Try converting to a smaller size if you want to post images - you can do it by loading the file up to Flickr and then choosing a different size (Flickr usually converts to a range of differently sized images)...


"As Matt Savinar points out, trying to re-engineer everything to run on electricity would require more Oil than it would save - in the manufacture, especially."

This is a good reminder not to look to Matt for Engineering Advice, any more than for an understanding of Psychology or Human Nature. He makes some useful points, but sweeping pronouncements like this one show all too quickly his perspective's soft, white underbelly.

Converting Vehicles to Electric Motors might be one of the simplest parts of this challenge, and you get a piece of equipment that can operate with more torque and requiring less maintenance and operating inputs than its predecessor, while emitting virtually no waste out the back end, either. Coolants, Hydraulics and Lubricants can be simplified or eliminated in many cases, so those materials and their seals and spills come off the manifest, along with sacrificial exhaust equipment, gaskets, valves, etc.

It's all existing technology, and established for decades. Batteries and Stringing Cables are challenges, but many imperfect but usable solutions do exist.

Steam might be best tied to Concentrated Solar, though my dad still dreams of making a SteamPowered schoolbus, running on firewood. We haven't even bothered with a Well-to-wheel calc on such a thing, though.


The Myths of Biofuels (2007)

David Fridley of Lawrence Berkeley Labs and San Francisco Oil Awareness

video ... http://www.archive.org/details/Myths_of_Biofuels

I wonder why no one from the Natural Gas industry is member in the forum. Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) is one of the solutions, at least as transition fuel. It is most important to use CNG to run construction machinery because soon all projects will get stuck in diesel shortages.

Regarding future energy sources, I miss any mention of concentrated solar power. It is more efficient than photovoltaic and also stores energy for might time use easily.
See CSP (Concentrating Solar Power, also known as Solar Thermal Power), or SEGS (solar electric generating systems)
A desert area 10 by 15 miles could provide 20,000 MW of power, while the electricity needs of the entire U. S. could theoretically be met by an area 100 miles on a side.
FAQ: www.energylan.sandia.gov/sunlab/faqs.htm
ENERGY STORAGE, thermal storage for night time power:

We hear a lot about this theoretical 100 mile square solar plant being sufficient for our energy needs, as though it is somehow a small area. Similar statements are made in Australia, without much discussion of just how HUGE such an area really is. Imagine a 100 by 100 mile square in the desert:

1. You could drive at highway speed (100kph) for 6 hours and not make it fully around the boundary fence of such a plant

2. You could stand in the middle of the plant and it would stretch out well beyond the horizon in ALL DIRECTIONS. Imagine the widest open space you can, picture how far away the horizon is, and then you might be able to picture the sheer size of the solar plant we're talking about.

Of course, nobody is advocating construction of a single, 100 x 100 mile solar plant. But consider even a 1 square mile installation - the construction and maintenance requirements alone would be almost unfathomable. And you'd need 10,000 of these to equal the big one.

I think that when such dismissive statements are made about the ability for all energy needs to be met by an area just 100 x 100 miles, it reinforces a vague sense of technological optimism that distracts everyday people from the ultimate need to reduce their energy demand.

Demand reduction has three major advantages:
a) Reduced need to meet energy from dwindling fossil fuels;
b) Reduced greenhouse emissions; and
c) Increased ability for the overall energy task to eventually be met by renewable technologies.

You are certainly correct that demand reduction is very important. I'm in a 90% reduction project myself, though have a 75% reduction, more or less.