Think Freely Media presents Common Sense with Paul Jacob

What is “green” energy?

There are two types. First, there’s photosynthesis.

Green plants sustain themselves through photosynthesis, creating energy for their own growth from the light of the sun. We harvest that energy pretty efficiently, with a reaper after most of the hard work has already been done. The sun is a great partner in this cost-effective form of “green” energy, as are carbon dioxide, water, soil minerals and harvesting equipment.

Then you’ve got your feel-good, ideologically motivated “green” energy, which needn’t be cost-effective at all! No matter how expensive creating this energy might actually be, the only thing that counts is whether participants in the process can declare that they are “saving the environment.” What difference, then, does it make whether far more money, and energy, is lost than gained thereby?

Such seems to be the notion behind the University of North Texas’s decision to install 36 “elliptical” exercise machines to turn the school into what the manufacturer, ReRev, calls “the largest human power plant in the world.”

The machines reportedly cost the school $20,000 and presumably required energy to build, pack, ship. But the machines also convert energy exerted during exercise to electricity at the rate of one kilowatt-hour every two days. A kilowatt-hour costs on average about ten cents in the North Texas area. So the cycling produces less than a penny of energy per hour.

But hey, at least it’s a workout.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

By: Redactor


  1. James says:

    “If the amount of people working out will eventually offset the $20,000, plus a good portion of electricity bill each month, then I’d say it’s definitely a good idea,” UNT alumnus Josh Lopez said.

    Right on! After they’re paid for (in only 25-30 years), it’s all profit, baby!

    (Hmm, I wonder how long the warranty lasts?)

  2. Ferb says:

    I’ve seen this item brought up many times. No one seems to realize that if you’re equipping a gym and buying elliptical machines anyway, why not spend a dollar or two extra to get some added benefit?

    Unfortunately, the writers and editors of the article did not see fit to tell us the difference in cost between plain machines and those equipped to make electricity. So you cannot make an informed judgement on whether this is a cost-effective purchase or not. But 36 commercial-grade elliptical machines for $550 each doesn’t sound too unusual

  3. Drik says:

    Renewable energy accounted for about 6% of US energy consumption. Of this 6%, 44.5% was represented by hydroelectric, and 45.5% was represented by biomass, probably mostly wood and municipal trash burning. Geothermal provided 5% of the renewable market and wind (2%) and solar (1%) brought up the rear.
    3% of the 6%.
    Or 0.18% of all the US energy.
    Using 100 times as much wind and solar energy as we do now will get us up to the amount of energy that we currently get from burning wood.
    Even with all of the government controlled thermostats and government subsidized hybrids and $5 a gallon gas, and the miserly lifestye associated, this is not going to do a thing for our energy independence.
    Green enrgy isn’t going to get us to work on time.
    The Department of Energy was created in 1977 to get us more independent from foreign energy. They managed to burn through 26.4 billion dollars last year and we are more dependent than we’ve ever been. This while the US has more oil, natural gas, or coal than any other country on the planet.

    This is the pit at the end of the rainblow.

  4. […] pollutant must flabbergast all plants, which blithely use carbon dioxide as a critical component in photosynthesis, thereby making all carbon-based animal and human life possible. (Damn you, […]

  5. […] pollutant must flabbergast all plants, which blithely use carbon dioxide as a critical component in photosynthesis, thereby making all carbon-based animal and human life possible. (Damn you, […]

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