Posted by: energyblogwalter | January 28, 2009

Re: Stimulus plan falls a few shades short of ‘green,’ critics say :: Toronto Star, January 28th 2009

The government this week introduced its budget and environmental plan.  I’ll rewrite a paragraph from Environment Minister Jim Prentice’s speech on investment in green energy to highlight where I differ, then I’ll discuss another amazing alternative called Thermal in more depth.   No, I don’t know why is this completely avoided by the media!  Media continue to be tools and want to stay like that, as far as I can tell (grr…)

Anyway, from the article here :

Prentice Quote: “”” The government wants 90 per cent of energy from clean sources by 2020, a goal that is dependent on shutting Ontario’s coal-fired electricity plants and switching to hydro, nuclear and natural gas as power sources, Prentice said. Wind and solar power can also play a smaller role, he added.”””

Could have been: “””The government wants 90 per cent of energy from clean sources planned by 2012 and fully implemented by 2015, a goal that is dependent on converting Ontario’s coal-fired electricity plants over to biomass which would save millions on building conversion costs, and switching enmasse to solar-thermal, geo-thermal, wind, hydro, and solar panels as power sources, Prentice said. Nuclear and natural gas can also play a smaller role, he added. “””

A wee little note:

Main Entry: renewable resource
Part of Speech: n
Definition: any natural resource that can replenish itself naturally over time, as wood or solar energy; also called renewable energy, [renewable energy resource], renewable natural resource
Webster’s New Millennium™ Dictionary of English, Preview Edition (v 0.9.7)
Copyright © 2003-2009, LLC

What is available? What is renewable?

No educated person in their right mind can call nuclear a renewable resource. Natural gas is also not a renewable resource, as its one of the purest fossil fuels around. A renewable resource rejuvenates by nature. The best is hydro as water is not being used, but it’s motion instead. Bear this difference in mind.  We’re not using water, but a property of water.

Instead of motion, geo-thermal and solar-thermal can be thought of as akin to hydro energy but with soil and air instead of water. In this case, motion isn’t harvested but temperature differences. Like hydro, geothermal doesn’t need to destroy its sources in order to harvest its soil temperature for collecting into use by homes and businesses. Air as well when heated by the sun also has temperature, as any sunny winter day in front of a window will show.  These again are just properties of soil and air.  What could be easier?

Thermal Definitions

The trifecta of thermal energy includes Solar (sun), Geo (soil), and Hydro (water).  I’ll lump Hydro into Geo just to not confuse it with hydro electricity.  At any rate it turns out we live on a planet.  And get this.. it gets hit by a sun with energy everyday.  This energy is all around us and can be harvested, without harmful effects.

Geo-thermal = Harvesting temperature differences below the surface of soil and water for heating, cooling or other uses.  Frankly the best system for us, given our cold climate. Instant air conditioning and some heating too. We do this already all over the country, did you know that? Here’s a quick Google and a random Saskatchewan company: Dwights Geothermal. Looking online you can find all kinds of links in every province. Also note Deep Water Cooling from City of Toronto for a water example.

src image:

Solar-thermal small= (Different than solar panels.) The harvesting of sunlight to increase air temperature in a smaller area, often used in various forms of a glass-wood box. It scales from $5 to multi-millions. Whatever you like. Here’s the $5 version you can do yourself:

Solar-thermal medium : Best example in the city so far (emphasis added).  Also the most likely versions we’ll see around us.  Prepare to cry all the way to the bank.  Toronto example:

“””Beach Solar Laundromat : The Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment named Beach Solar Laundromat Canada’s leading small business in terms of pollution prevention and greenhouse-gas emissions in 2004. Beach Solar Laundromat is powered by solar energy created by eight solar thermal panels on its roof. Owner Alex Winch has replaced electric lights with high-efficiency fluorescent lights, and his unique air-conditioning system emits no exhaust heat and does not use refrigerants. Beach Solar Laundromat has succeeded in reducing emissions by 40 per cent and lowering utility expenses by $9,500 while increasing the business’s revenues significantly. The photo shows Alex Winch, president of Mondial Energy, with solar panels on the roof of Beach Solar Laundromat.”””

image source :

Solar Thermal large scale : This is just mirrors and a collector, not specialized materials.  “””Solar thermal electric power plant generates heat by using lenses and reflectors to concentrate the sun’s energy. Because the heat can be stored, these plants are unique because they can generate power when it is needed, day or night, rain or shine.””” src:

Wasted Opportunities in Canada

Thermal projects are all renewable.  Thermal rocks.   Obvious technical and not so technical jobs. Hundreds of thousands of jobs converting house and business solar-thermal and geo-thermal.  Great for conversion of auto sector or construction jobs, manufacturing, whatever.  And…I didn’t even get into wind !  Lots of rooves to use for solar thermal if geo thermal is no possible in the city, and cheaper than drilling. Together though they would be an unbeatable team, providing our energy needs for living and business.

Might also keep the city buildings lower rather than higher so as to not interfere with solar thermal installations.  Thus actually giving financial incentive to live to human scale, not condo planet scale.

All Thermal pays for itself over time after initial investments, not endless government handouts.  No “debt retirement” charges like nuclear and others.  A clear future with jobs and urban development.  By investing in homes and businesses we would be investing in people.

We’re waiting for Obama. When he goes like this above and we do not, we will play catch-up instead of supplier.

Thermal is King

It’s just so obvious I guess, the sun makes it as easy as another day so we never consider it.  The great bonus is that Thermal is everywhere. Any building and any location with enough space can utilize it, in all provinces, across the country.  In all countries too.  You don’t have to sell nuclear to make money but you can sell the expertise instead with Thermal.  Teach, not pollute, would be the best foreign policy.

The other sources; wind, hydro, nuclear, natural gas, and oil are all site specific and are not as transferable in terms of jobs or available production. Therefore the Thermal  jobs created would be local, but national in popularity, ubiquitous, and not just special places.

Some of these have a future, and the other options do not. We are wasting our time and money in continually supporting dead ideas.



  1. awesome writeup from Will Stewart on passive solar and thermal uses in building design complete with diagrams and software links in determining sunlight gain. A series from here:

  2. Will Stewart continues with a practical passive solar project here:

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