How Energy should work for B.C.

Bill Meikle

This is a second draft of the page. Let me say up front that my idea is to use the existing
hydro infastructure for industry. Focus on the home.

Canada today:

Electricity - production by source (fossil fuel):
Electricity - production by source (hydro):
Electricity - production by source (nuclear):
[ Electricity - production by source (other):
1.3% (2001)

       I've found myself feeling pretty negative lately, always saying 'that's not how energy
should be done here...' I mean I see that huge haze of smog over Vancouver each summer
when I go to the beach and the forest fires and floods....Problems all over the world...

        I thought I'd take a moment and visualize how I think it SHOULD

      As voters, we constantly have to make decisions about energy
production. Should that Dam go there? Should that burner be allowed
there? Should that pipeline be built?

But have we really learned the options? Have we educated ourselves
about energy production and transmission and updated ourselves with regards
to todays possibilities? That's the crux. What's possible this year that wasn't
possible ten years ago?
           We need to know, and make our decisions based on it.

           To tell you the truth that's why I'm doing this page...
so I can catch up on this stuff...

Do we know what could be? ...and what we will get instead!


When one looks at energetics in B.C. the first necessary step is to
close your mind to how it's handled elsewhere around the world.
I mean we want to copy the best technologies, but it's important to understand
that as British Columbians we have unique options.
We have one of the highest land/person ratios anywhere in the world.

We have to imagine something bold, creative, powerful and new.
Be leaders in the world.

Nuclear plants, coal burning, these are the solutions of desperate people
in desperate places. When one imagines a poor african villager carrying a bundle of twigs for miles to make a fire to boil some putrid water, one can see that energetics are desperate in some parts of the world...We are just out of the stone age.

Our goal should be to get our own house in order, and then make some money and do some good helping others...

In B.C. the  situation  is comparatively easy. A woodsmen heading off to a remote area can just buy gas and run a genset to power his life. When he needs more he can just hop in the truck, go to town and get more...

But can we be better? Where does that gas come from? Where do the fumes go?

As I write this up the price of gas is through the roof... how much are we willing to pay?


Sometimes in business you have to do things you're not proud of....

The B.C. low population and high wealth in natural resources allows us to be
leaders in green energy even while our petroleum fields provide us with foreign exchange capital.

The trick is in thinking about how things are elsewhere in one breath and thinking differently about how things are here, the next.
Elsewhere they are cash rich/resource poor. We are the opposite..

What I think B.C. should do is become experts at importing money for our gas, and keeping it in the province by using locally produced hydrogen.

Don't think that energy is just about B.C. Hydro, or the gas company, it's about
how cars work, how much work gets done at a factory, it's about how we decide to drive or walk to the store to get a litre of milk, it's about the kyoto accord...  Energetics are politics in many ways. Are our politics informed in this province?

A key to a B.C. energy strategy is in using the unique conditions of this place as
best we can. We have unique things to work with here.


Regeneration is a key. When you think of a spinning top, you see a sytem that cycles energy efficiently.
We want our economic system to cycle money the same way.

We can maximize provincial self-sufficiency, and stop imports of oil, thereby creating income for generations into the future.
Money coming into the province circles around as long as possible before it goes out again.

That's what regeneration is. The oilworker gets paid, and buys food made by local people, who in turn, hire local people, who pay rent to local people etc. the money cycles. If the oil worker buys food from a corporation elsewhere, the money leaves the province....

Strong regeneration can free up cash for education and health care. A lot of that expense, like doctor and teacher salaries, stays in the province.

All that money that used to flow out of the province for gas stays here. Rather than buying a tank of gas off a foreigner, you buy a tank of hydrogen, created by a local waterfall....

Two design precepts:

Modular Self Sufficiency: In software you break problems into modules. Each of the modules has inputs and outputs but is as self sufficient as possible... I think this applies to energetics too. I'm not sure if this means generation at the household level, but definitely at the community level. The more self-sufficient each module in the provincial system is, the more robust the system. Towns with
a diversity of inputs (not like the many one-industry towns we've started with) need to be encouraged...

Diversity is Resiliance: This is the first rule of ecology (if I remember) it suggests
that if there are a lot of species in an ecosystem, the bigger animals have lots of choice of what to feed on so nothing goes extinct. Cut down diversity and you risk species crashing. In energetics I think this applies also. If we have a system with only a few massive generators...then in a war, for example, they can get knocked out far more easily than in a more decentralized,diverse system... Also a network with many diverse points of generation, is less subject to large power outages.
       Another way of thinking of this is that we want as many KINDS of generation as possible. If a drought knocked out all the hydro dams in b.c. are we robust enough to handle it? We want mature modern sectors in wind, wave, and solar, as a design goal.


how we should make power:
The numbers are ballpark, but I'm daring to make guesses:

I mean we begin by assuming industry is going to use the 54% of power created
in canada for hydro.

this is how we do the rest:

1.Negawatts. 18%

Starting with the basics, insulation is a great provider of negawatts. Tight well insulated structures are all that's worth heating...
There is probably quite a bit to be gained by simple investments in efficiency through industry too, updating appliances...that sort of thing. It isn't sexy, but if we just changed most of the 60 and 100 watt lightbulbs in the province over to the new 7 watt fluorescents we'd save a ton of stripping and insulation before power plants!

2.Heat pumps/geothermal. 18%

Having spent 7 years in the woods homesteading, I have some experience in generating my own energy.
What I found is that lighting and a stereo or t.v. are easy. Heat is the most difficult problem in day-to-day energy use around a house. Modern heat pumps are amazing. There are greenhouses in holland that store ice in winter and hot water in summer, and use it all year round to create energy. Heat pumps can create energy out of any difference in temperature: A source of hot and a source of cold. These greenhouses EXPORT energy. That is these large  stuctures have too much heat, so some is turned into electriciy while they are cooled...?
         In B.C. where we have oceans next to ice caps, and rivers next to icey air...these are a huge unexplored area

This link from B.C. hydro suggests an average household can save 50% of heating costs with a heat pump. If we mass produce
and install them in most homes, a huge provincial saving would be incurred...

3. micro hydro electric/hydro electric 30%
We already have a big and powerful hydro system in B.C.
The 3 rainy mountain ranges are key. Moisture flows off the pacific and hits the vancouver island mountains, making the west coast wet. Then it hits the coastal mountains, making North Van wet. Then it hits the Monashees, Purcells, and rockies, making some pockets of the interior wet.
The trick to hydro-electic power for us is protecting fish spawning,while maximizing
hydro output. Hydrogen might play a huge role in this, since it can be created relatively inexpensively on
remote sites and picked up only once in a while...

4. Wind 10%
This is part of a 'new mainstream' system. To actually make 10% of b.c. power with wind would take a huge effort,
but we have some locations that are perfect...

5. Solar. 10%
Because our solar is only good in some areas, it would have to be very aggressive there... Osoyoos,
Merrit, places in the rainshadow, would all have to have every home with solar tiles on the roof...


Here is a paper showing that 'energy rafts'   'less than a square of 30 by 30 kilometers.'
could replace the worlds nuclear production, (7% of power generated)...

They work better, in hot places, but what about placing one in international waters?

7.             5%
Biomass/Firewood as a source of rural community winter heating. The trees can offset the carbon in terms of greenhouse gases. Plant more trees and burn some wood in clean heating systems.
Clean, centralized woodstoves with filters, could probably heat (or supplement) some small towns using local resources.

8. New Alternatives; 4%  

so if my basic idea is to take the alternative sources of yester-year and make them
mainstream, what are the new alternatives?

-underground hydrogen.
-hydrogen created by biological   means.

-water car tech/cavitation.
This is probably an urban myth but the web is full of designs and legends of cars that run on water. Here
the idea of getting hydrogen on deman


One of our companies, Ballard, might have some of the storage and transmission problems solved. Traditionally a big problem with remote energy creation has been transmission. Hydrogen may solve that.
        We have to stop imagining things based on the old economy and think hydrogen. We should get Kyoto money to do so. B.C. should sell kyoto points to the other provinces...
       I don't think it's unrealistic to imagine remote generation systems (like  a hydro system up an old logging road)  that large hydrogen trucks drive up to and pick up their cargo of fuel.

      My suggestion is a very decentralized grid of micro-generators hidden near remote no-fish
waterfalls all over the province. The pipelines and generators might be carefully burried.
     In some places like the road from Van to whistler,
there is already a transmission line in place and when the rain falls there is a waterfall every 100 feet. The road across Vancouver island is the same.
By adding generation inputs on these we have a start. But most of the power is remote.

In other places, like the network of logging roads around B.C., automated systems might provide hydrogen that is trucked to gas stations...

Boats and helicopters might be used too, to access remote locations.

They should be burried or hidden as much as possible to have zero impact on the visual environment, and to minimize vandalism.

But what about more remote sites? Along the coast for example? The dam at ocean falls is an example of a bunch of power with nowhere to go. In the same way that oil is transported in large trucks would it be possible to transport hydrogen?
I've read that hydrogen, realistically, is about as hard to handle as natural gas... but it is also at best(liquid)
3 times more volume than gas. If we need 3 times more trucks it's a good thing they run on hydrogen so they don't pollute...

The hydrogen economy will probably first be see in laptops and cellphones.
At anavu you can buy a hydrogen car today. (100 grand!)
Proton is a place you can buy your electric hydrogen maker...
Stuart energy in toronto sells hydrogen gas stations...

if you are in a remote place where shipping in gasoline is very expensive, but you have a source of
electricity, say hydro-electric, it may already be worth it go hydrogen!

What's a zinc fuel cell ?
Here's a site with great working hydrogen toys.

Any  discussion of energy these days must necessarily take into consideration
the work of Nicolas Tesla, and resonance. Consider any oscillator, as a battery.
So when you spin a top you are not only spinning a top, you are creating a battery.
You are storing energy in a device. Flywheels, the latest gadgets for storing energy
(also one of the oldest) are important. Imagine all these barried oscillators near towns, storing potential energy...

We could probably gain from studying resonance and harmonics when adding and subtracting energy from such devices. When you get something spinning, is there a speed where the energy stays in that thing better? Tuning engines, putting oscillators in shapes and frequencies that are optimal is really interesting...

Himac says they can get 80% efficiency gains

Or maybe a compressed air car is the way to go?


It is imperitave that the energy system be designed by technicians rather than politicians. Or at least that the technical possibilities  of energetics are clearly defined.

We need to think outside the box, and dream the good dream. Zero pollution. Zero

Maximum diversity of ownership in harmonious interconnection...


         When B.C. has supplied itself with clean energy it can export ... But really, the thing to export is tools that allow communities around the world to become self-sufficient in energy themselves.