August 25, 2019, 04:52:36 PM

Author Topic: Windup Girl Question: why isn't energy from wind or solar possible?  (Read 203 times)

Offline thehay95

In this grim but fascinating book by Paolo Bacigalupi,  all energy is kinetic.  Humans use treadle computer and hand-crank radios; travel is via rickshaw or bicycles;  electricity is generated and stored by animals rotating springs around spindles.  Megadonts were genetically engineered for this purpose.

Because of this, high-rises are empty because there is no electricity for elevators (or, at least, the bottom 10 floors or so are used only); weeks are required to cross continents by wind-driven ships or dirigibles.   It is all absorbing and fascinating; I'm enjoying being enmeshed in this alternate universe that contemplates what happens when fossil fuels are gone. 

Question for readers:  Does Bacigalupi ever explain why humans of this near-future universe were not able to use solar, wind or water power?
dich vu giup viec nha theo gio uy tin, gioi thieu giup viec nha tphcm

Offline isos81

Re: Windup Girl Question: why isn't energy from wind or solar possible?
« Reply #1 on: July 22, 2019, 09:05:29 AM »
Welcome on board! :)

I did not read Bacigalupi so I cannot answer your question.

But you should tell us more about yourself (here or in the introduction thread) :)
Kallor shrugged. 'I've walked this land when the T'lan Imass were but children. I've commanded armies a hundred thousand strong. I've spread the fire of my wrath across entire continents, and sat alone upon tall thrones. Do you grasp the meaning of this?'

'Yes' said Caladan Brood. 'You never learn'

Offline xiagan

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Re: Windup Girl Question: why isn't energy from wind or solar possible?
« Reply #2 on: July 22, 2019, 04:29:48 PM »
Phew, I read this six years ago... I know that I wondered the same but can't remember what the answer was. But I do think that there was an explanation somewhere in the book. Something, something, batteries, maybe?
"Sire, I had no need of that hypothesis." (Laplace)

Online Rostum

Re: Windup Girl Question: why isn't energy from wind or solar possible?
« Reply #3 on: July 23, 2019, 05:13:11 AM »
From Memory the book is set in Singapore after a massive collapse of world industry and food production causing a massive world population drop. PVE is a complex industry requiring sustained energy production and parts shipped around the globe. Although Malaysia and China produce a lot of the components. Current turbines require rare earth metals electrical motors a functioning steel and aluminium industries and the ability to excavate 30 cubic meters and pour that amount of concrete for the plinth. These types of energy production can feed into a grid but until we crack how to store this energy it has to be used immediately or lost. I think the book aludes to a slow collapse and the using up of final resources in warfare and corperate induced famine. The drowned cities, shipbreakers and tool of war are set in this world.

Offline Ray McCarthy

Re: Windup Girl Question: why isn't energy from wind or solar possible?
« Reply #4 on: July 26, 2019, 05:13:13 PM »
The Victorians built steam turbines to drive alternators or dynamos for electricity.

Wind and water powered generators can use pretty simple wood and cast iron parts. Or Bronze, which we had 4,000 years ago. Copper wire is no big deal and paper insulation was used up to the 1930s. Even for high voltages. 1800 was the start of the electrical age. It's the 18th Century that's the steam punk era. 

It's just an author's fancy. It doesn't stand scrutiny