Monday, September 28, 2009

Considerations for Solar Energy for the World

Following up ideas from my earlier post, solar is indeed the future of California. Is solar the future of the world? I've yet to crunch my own numbers, but a popular concept floating around the renewable energy sphere is that if we put a solar panel array about 100 miles by 100 miles in the Sahara Desert, we could power the whole world.

Of course this would be ideal, but what I'm afraid people underestimate is the costs of transportation, man power, maintenance, materials, and to make this happen. Some considerations in a list:

Costs to consider for renewable energy implementation:

  1. Transportation
  2. Man Power
  3. Maintenance
  4. Infrastructure
After costs are figured, if an implementation of a solution is to do more good than harm an analysis of energy input and carbon output must be considered. For example it may take 100lbs of carbon to install a tiny solar cell on top of a house. How? Manufacturing of that crystal cell, transportation to a residence, and installation all take energy in the form of fossile fuels. If we're talking about larger cells in larger arrays located in deserts we have to consider do we have to make a new road? Chances are yes. Do we have to pour new concrete into the ground? Chances are yes. Currently concrete emits carbon back into the atmosphere, but there's hope that it won't for long.

Then there's energy transmission losses; As energy flows through a wire, friction of those moving electrons will create heat and reduce the usable electricity for the planet. How do we spread that energy coming from the Sahara to say New York? Isaac Isamov suggests wireless energy transfer, and although there's hope in that technology it's on a small (phone cells only) scale. Not to mention it would be ironic that we'd capture light from one location to convert it into a radio wave to bounce off a satellite and back to the planet. Add satellite to our analysis?

Environmental considerations for renewable energy installation:
  1. Energy input
  2. Carbon release
  3. Transmission losses
We are in a critical stage of our solution making process. A decision has to be made, and it has to be made soon. However, it must be the right decision the first time and should not threaten the economic health of the planet.

I'd like to invite anyone to comment or email me useful information on considerations I forgot, or more useful sites. I recently stumbled upon and it's a good start.

Next time I'll introduce my mindmap on solutions:

1 comment:

  1. Hi, nice post. Well what can I say is that these is an interesting and very informative topic. Thanks for sharing your ideas, its not just entertaining but also gives your reader knowledge. Good blogs style too, Cheers!

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