Energy News: Solar Energy Development, Uranium Prices, and Energy From Garbage

This installment of a regular energy news feature includes stories about a congressional report on solar energy development, rising uranium prices, and a plan to generate energy from garbage.


| November/December 1976


The following energy news items originated from multiple sources.  


Solar Energy Development

"Anything that slows down the development of solar energy is undermining the national security" according to the interim report of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Small Business. Another of the Committee's findings: "Had the United States Government followed the recommendations of the Paley Commission in 1952, "for aggressive research in the whole field of solar energy," the country might now be achieving the solar equivalent of ... 3 million barrels of oil per day."

Rising Uranium Prices

NUKE FUEL TOO COSTLY? Due to the fact that uranium has recently tripled in price from $8 to $24 per pound, Westinghouse Electric—makers of 40% of the world's atomic power plants—has declared itself "legally excused" from supplying the material to some of its customers in 1978 and beyond. Action is expected to have "an unsettling effect" on the nuclear power industry.

Energy From Garbage

John Wayne wants to turn Connecticut's garbage into oil and methane with the "pyrohydrogenation" process developed by his Duke Engineering Company of Irvine, California. The Duke process—if it works—will turn the state's 3 million tons of garbage into 7.1 million barrels of oil a year and 12 billion cubic feet of gas. "We put trash in at the front end, and out the back end comes the oil, the methane, the propane, and char residue," Wayne stated in a recent interview. He added: "There's nothing to get the Friends of the Earth or the Sierra Club upset about."

Electrical Rates Protest

THE TOWN OF BRIDGEPORT, TEXAS (POP. 3,600) WILL BE CUT OFF from electrical service by the Texas Power & Light Company soon due to the city's refusal to go along with TP&L rate increases. Residents won't be without wattage when this happens, however, because Solar King Incorporated of Reno, Nevada is building a large sun-powered electric generator for the rural community. The design includes flat-plate collectors and a silicone-fluid-powered hydraulic motor that'll convert the sun's rays into a total monthly power output of 4.2 million kilowatt-hours.

Electrical Power Materials

WILL THE U.S. RUN OUT OF MATERIALS TO DISTRIBUTE ELECTRICAL POWER? Evidently, the Energy Research and Development Administration is worried enough about this question to spend $163,000 for a definitive answer. That's how much money ERDA has given Westinghouse Corporation for a 14-month study designed to foresee shortages of wood, copper, steel, petrochemicals, and other resources presently used to make electrical wares. Looks like we'll be waiting a long time before ERDA asks the truly pertinent question: How much of this country's current material waste might be avoided if homes and communities produced their own electricity "on site" using wind, bio-gas, or solar energy?





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