Travel Adventure Documentary Magazine
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'Switch' Is New Doc Film on Power

Ralph Franklin Posted by Ralph Franklin in Blogs January 21st, 2013

U.S. Energy Policy or lack there of has been the part of every president’s platform since FDR, in March 1933. Thirteen presidents, nearly eighty years and the United States still struggles for energy independence.

The question is Why? And is there an answer?

Enter Switch, a powerful new documentary that takes a look at the world sources of energy, where it comes from, how it is developed, how it will be used and at what cost.


The film’s leading subject is Dr. Scott Tinker, Director of the Bureau of Economic Geology (BEG) and State Geologist of Texas.

Dr. Scott visits 11 countries, 27 world-leading energy sites, and interview 126 experts from wind to water.

Rather than voice over narration Dr. Scott is the subject in Switch. He asked the questions, listens to answers, gives his response then graphically, on screen informs viewer what that power source will provide and at what cost. With each graphical report viewers will better understand why so called Green Energy has a long way to go before coming close to fossil fuels and yet Scott remains neutral, with each source.

The viewer will be with Dr. Scott from start to finish, from the packing of his bags for the trip to a family ride in his golf card at the end. His demeanor is casual, professorial. The only time his testosterone level increased is when he drove the Tesla electric sports car and again when he was dropped into a tank of water in a simulated air crash, written about later.

Switch begins in Voss Norway where he visits the Evanger Hydropower plant. Their turbines have been placed deep within a mountain; they are unseen, without sound or distraction and supply electrical power to nearby towns. Nearly 50 such plants today supply 99% of the Norway’s electricity.

Spain's Solucar Station

In Spain he visits the Solucar station, which gathers the sun’s heat to make power. In Montana/Wyoming’s Powder River Basin we see a massive crater created by dynamite and earth movers, coal from which now supply US power generators.

Scott visits an experimental biofuel plant in Louisiana where they have developed hybrid sorghum. The plant grows 18 feet in a season and will be used to produce synthetic fuel.

LNG tanker

Switch includes a visit to Qatar, which has the third largest natural gas field the world. Special plants have been built to liquefy the gas for shipping. The process requires the cooling of the natural gas to a minus 260 degrees Fahrenheit, where it becomes liquefied and its volume by has been decreased 600 times. Liquid natural gas, LNG can now be shipped economically via special built tankers from port to port where LNG is returned to its natural form.

Simulate helicopter crash training

There is one dramatic part in the film where Tinker has to go through a simulated helicopter crash. Passengers are strapped into a mock helicopter cabin then dropped into a large tank of water where the cabin turns over and passengers have to extricate themselves from the possible watery grave and yes you will hold your breath. This simulated crash is a requirement before visiting Perdido floating oil platform located 200 miles off shore from Galveston, Texas in the Gulf of Mexico. This is the deepest offshore platform in the world, working in 8000 feet of water, pumping oil from the seabed below.

Switch takes an academic approach and is agenda free. The film is extremely informative and educational, but lacks the passion needed when pushing for or against a particular energy source of energy such as Laurel Flounders’ Windfall, which TAD reviewed. 

Switch looks at oil, nuclear, geothermal, wind and hydrogen. With each site visited the film concludes with graphics, For example Norway’s get all of its electricity (99%) from hydro electric Plants, which supply nearly 4.5 million people with electricity — Coal from Powder River basin 3.6 million people — Spain’s Soluca solar tower 1,200 people — Gulf of Mexico’s Perdido Offshore platform 1.7 million and Qatar’s LNG 18.5 million.

Switch also discusses the developing countries of China and India where there will be an ever-increasing demand for electricity and fuel. There are six hundred million people in India without electricity alone. This demand will increase the financial incentives for developing new a better ways of meeting our energy needs.

Less than 150 years ago the crude oil was refined into kerosene to light homes and heat for stoves. Today oil is as ECCOS calls it, the lynchpin of American economy.

Hybrid sorghum for synthetic fuel

Switch is an eye-opener as to what is currently taking place in the world of developing energy sources. It will appeal to those who are pushing for greener sources and will appear in colleges throughout the US in 2013.

Unfortunately it has had limited theater engagement in U.S. cities. I wanted to see it again the following week and it had left California. According to Jillian Hall, Distribution Manager they have hopes of having the film free to watch online by this spring, DVD sales will start later. Their web site is by far one of the best I have ever visited regarding energy,

Two year in production, 500 hours of film footage Switch, took over 1 year to edit (for the film and the web videos), using 2 primary and 7 additional editors. Running time: 1 hour, 38 minutes The project is produced by Arcos Films and directed by Harry Lynch.



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