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Sparko, John Reece: solar power not good enough! I: psss!

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  • Sparko, John Reece: solar power not good enough! I: psss!

    I reported news that in the first quarter of this year solar power-generating installations comprised 74% of new electricity generating installation http://thinkprogress.org/climate/201...at-commercial/
    and predicted that by 2020 that anthropogenic atmospheric CO2 mass would drop dramatically ("huge" was the word that I used before this post). Sparko was the first to pooh-pooh that. John Reece joined in later.

    It is indeed possible I will turn out to be wrong, but I might be right about the direction or trend if not the size of change.

    I didn't mention battery technology, but it is also making dramatic progress.

    I've mentioned Hawaii already before. Today is the year Hawaii begins to rely more on solar-and-batteries than on liquid fuel for electrical generators.

    It is true that the world will continue to rely more on biomass for energy than on everything else for many years to come; an example is cow dung for cooking. But I think by 2025 biomass will comprise much less of the sources of energy percentage-wise than today. Dare I say a huge reduction? Yes. And the percentage will shrink year to year from then on.
    The greater number of laws . . . , the more thieves . . . there will be. ---- Lao-Tzu

    [T]he truth Im after and the truth never harmed anyone. What harms us is to persist in self-deceit and ignorance - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

  • #2
    Solar power has many problems to overcome TS. Such we need a way to store this energy for when the sun isn't shining and current solar technology isn't very efficient at collecting solar energy. Both have improved over the past 30 years, but we are still far away from it being our only source of energy.
    "The man from the yacht thought he was the first to find England; I thought I was the first to find Europe. I did try to found a heresy of my own; and when I had put the last touches to it, I discovered that it was orthodoxy."
    GK Chesterton; Orthodoxy

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    • #3
      Large-scale solar power is really good at burning birds in flight to a crisp. Hydroelectric dams severely disrupt river flow. Wind turbine farms are unsightly, also kill many birds, and are extremely inefficient in cold weather. There are few truly 'clean' sources of energy.
      Enter the Church and wash away your sins. For here there is a hospital and not a court of law. Do not be ashamed to enter the Church; be ashamed when you sin, but not when you repent. St. John Chrysostom

      Veritas vos Liberabit<>< Learn Greek <>< Look here for an Orthodox Church in America<><Ancient Faith Radio
      sigpic
      I recommend you do not try too hard and ...research as little as possible. Such weighty things give me a headache. - Shunyadragon, Baha'i apologist

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      • #4
        Um, given the high levels of regulation and expense, it's not surprising that conventional energy plants aren't being built in large numbers - the question is how much capacity is handled by solar as opposed to conventional?

        "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." - Jim Elliot


        "Forgiveness is the way of love." Gary Chapman

        My Personal Blog

        My Novella blog (Current Novella Begins on 7/25/14)

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        • #5
          Originally posted by lilpixieofterror View Post
          Solar power has many problems to overcome TS. Such we need a way to store this energy for when the sun isn't shining
          I wonder how much of the OP you did really read.



          and current solar technology isn't very efficient at collecting solar energy.
          That's sorta like saying turbines like in airplane jets aint efficient in converting chemical energy into thrust. Cost is an important consideration, and solar has really gotten much better as compared to past costs. And it will be much better in the future.


          Both have improved over the past 30 years, but we are still far away from it being our only source of energy.
          Well, yes. For years and possibly decades. But I won't be surprised if you become amazed.
          The greater number of laws . . . , the more thieves . . . there will be. ---- Lao-Tzu

          [T]he truth Im after and the truth never harmed anyone. What harms us is to persist in self-deceit and ignorance - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

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          • #6
            Originally posted by One Bad Pig View Post
            Large-scale solar power is really good at burning birds in flight to a crisp.
            Thermal solar power? Anyway, reference(s)?



            Hydroelectric dams severely disrupt river flow. Wind turbine farms are unsightly, also kill many birds, and are extremely inefficient in cold weather. There are few truly 'clean' sources of energy.
            So . . . ? Wait, don't reply to this, it's irrelevant.
            The greater number of laws . . . , the more thieves . . . there will be. ---- Lao-Tzu

            [T]he truth Im after and the truth never harmed anyone. What harms us is to persist in self-deceit and ignorance - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

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            • #7
              Scale, scale, scale, scale, SCALE:

              Originally posted by Steven den Beste
              let's focus on the process of creating and operating these solar plants. If all that was required was moderately-efficient fixed mirrors, creating a big Fresnel lens focusing on a central point, it wouldn't be too bad. Aluminum sheets would work fine. But it's not that simple, because the sun moves in the sky.

              The mirrors have to move constantly. They all have to be mounted on swivels and moved by motors. And they not only have to swivel East-West but also North-South, because the sun follows a different track through the sky in summer than it does in winter. That means that you'll have to purchase thousands of mirrors controlled by motors, which can track the sun no matter where it is in the sky and focus its light on a central point to achieve a sufficient concentration of power to actually do something useful.
              (Other approaches might also be possible but they all share the same flaws.)

              We just shifted the problem again. All those things have to be manufactured somewhere, and it's going to consume a lot of fuel to mine the ore, transport it, refine it, and manufacture the finished mirrors. Guess how all that energy will be created? (Note: most of it by burning coal and oil.)

              Did I say "thousands"? How about millions? Because that's the final problem here: the quantities involved. Those advocating this kind of thing don't realize the size of the problem.

              In 1998, the State of California consumed 13.496 billion gallons of gasoline. A gallon of gasoline yields about 130 million joules. So when you do all the math, you end up with about 1.755 * 1018 joules, which is an impressively large number.

              One anti-solar-power advocacy site gives the "yearly average" solar power density in Albuquerque as 240 watts per m2. (That appears to be a 24-hour average; another site says that it's 700 watts in daylight.) Then presuming that southern California is similar, each square meter of mirrors would be struck by 7.573 billion joules per year.

              So if you assume 100% conversion, you'd need 231.7 million square meters of collection mirrors to make this work. 231 square kilometers.

              But it isn't going to be 100% efficient. That's impossible, and it isn't going to be remotely close to that. The mirrors won't reflect perfectly and some of the sunlight will heat the metal instead of reflecting. The conversion process into hydrogen will be extremely inefficient. If you get 10%, you'll be doing really well.

              So we're talking about paving 2300 square kilometers of California desert with mirrors. That's a strip 13 kilometers wide stretching from San Diego to Los Angeles. It's an area twice the size of San Francisco.

              That's a hell of a lot of metal! It ain't gonna be cheap. The capital expense involved would be mammoth. Just clearing an area that large would cost a fortune; paving it with manufactured goods will cost a fortune. And something that big would take decades to build.


              Figure each mirror at 10 square meters, and you're talking about 23 million motor mounts. If you figure an average 5 year lifespan, then you're going to replace more than 4 million of them per year.

              That assumes conversion of the entire fleet. What about running it in parallel, to offset gasoline usage? There you run into other kinds of economic issues having to do with distribution. There needs to be a substantial level of usage of this in order for it to be commercially viable to create the distribution infrastructure. You've got tens of thousands of service stations which would have to install new facilities to refuel hydrogen cars in addition to gasoline and diesel. They won't make that investment unless there are a lot of cars out there.

              Conservatively, you have to assume at least 10% of the fleet converting over to make this work at all and be anything other than a really expensive toy for environmentalists. 230 square kilometers.

              There are a lot of reasons to object to this, but the easiest is this: there's no way this is going to happen by 2009. You're talking about an engineering effort which might well take 30 years to even get going.

              By the way, forget about photo-voltaics. They are also about 10% efficient, and they're made of silicon. The idea of paving 2300 square kilometers of desert with solar cells is even more ludicrous; there isn't any way that industry could approach that kind of volumes anytime soon. (If they're producing a million square meters, one square kilometer, per year now I'd be very surprised. I bet they aren't even producing ten thousand square meters.)

              And what of the turtles? Just wait for the lawsuits to start.

              The idea of writing an environmental impact statement for this boggles the mind. Making what amounts to a substantial lowering of the albedo of an area that large would have weather effects. It would change wind and rainfall patterns for the entire south-west US and large parts of Mexico. Remember, the whole point of this is to capture and move a substantial amount of the sun's heat which now strikes those areas is released there. They'll get colder as a result. How much? What other effects would it have? We can't possibly know; we don't have the ability to analyze it.

              The real problem here is that the numbers are just too big. The people who suggest these kinds of alternatives don't realize just how much energy we consume, and don't have any idea about the problems of scaling in engineering.
              This is just for replacing gasoline used in cars. For electricity necessary to run a city (to say nothing of the Internet, a power hog that's gotten way larger since this post was made) think a lot bigger.
              Last edited by Epoetker; 09-18-2014, 01:14 AM.

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              • #8
                Amen, Epo. Most folks don't have any concept of what it would take. And keep in mind that these mirrors and motors will have to be serviced and replaced periodically. Totally ludicrous.
                Micah 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

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                • #9
                  That article is very vague.

                  The headline says

                  U.S. Residential Solar Just Beat Commercial Installations For The First Time

                  Which sounds merely like more Residential Solar installations were made that commercial solar installations. That is just quantity. Numbers. Not power capacity. It also doesn't mention other sources of power.

                  But then the article says:
                  "The first quarter of 2014 was another big one for the U.S. solar industry, with 74 percent of all new electric generating capacity across the country coming from solar power. The 1,330 megawatts of solar photovoltaics (PV) installed last quarter bring the total in the U.S. up to 14.8 gigawatts of installed capacity "

                  1. Now it is talking about NEW electrical installations. Again, numbers. You can pop on a solar panel installation in a few days, compared to the months or years it takes to get approval and build a traditional power plant, so numbers don't mean anything.

                  2. Capacity: 1,330MW of new residential solar power compared to 148,000MW of installed solar power generation (which I am sure includes commercial installations). That is not 74% of the total US power generating capacity. That is less than 1% of even solar power generated.

                  According to the government:
                  http://www.eia.gov/electricity/annua...epa_01_02.html

                  in 2012 the total US power sold to customers was 3,694,650,000 MW Hours. 1330MW isn't even a blip on that.

                  The article likes to play loose and fast with numbers and statistics to make it sound all promising. It is like spitting in the ocean and calling it high tide.
                  Last edited by Sparko; 09-18-2014, 08:51 AM.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Truthseeker View Post
                    Thermal solar power? Anyway, reference(s)?
                    Birds bursting into flames above solar farm stirs calls to slow expansion

                    Solar farms threaten birds
                    The Associated Press reported last week on “streamers” at BrightSource Energy’s concentrated solar plant -- a futuristic-looking facility that gamers pass as they drive through the desert between Las Vegas and Los Angeles. That’s the name given to birds as their feathers ignite, mid-air, after flying through a concentrated beam of sunlight. Such hapless birds can be burned to death, killed by brute force when they crash to the ground, or eaten a predator swoops in to claim their maimed body. These are just some of the ways that large solar plants can kill birds. It’s not known how many birds are being felled by the groundswell of such facilities, but the numbers are high enough to concern bird and conservation groups -- regardless of the environmental benefits of solar power.
                    Enter the Church and wash away your sins. For here there is a hospital and not a court of law. Do not be ashamed to enter the Church; be ashamed when you sin, but not when you repent. St. John Chrysostom

                    Veritas vos Liberabit<>< Learn Greek <>< Look here for an Orthodox Church in America<><Ancient Faith Radio
                    sigpic
                    I recommend you do not try too hard and ...research as little as possible. Such weighty things give me a headache. - Shunyadragon, Baha'i apologist

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                    • #11
                      To be fair, only one type of solar farm has that issue. Unfortunately, it happens to be the most commercially viable type.

                      "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." - Jim Elliot


                      "Forgiveness is the way of love." Gary Chapman

                      My Personal Blog

                      My Novella blog (Current Novella Begins on 7/25/14)

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Teallaura View Post
                        To be fair, only one type of solar farm has that issue. Unfortunately, it happens to be the most commercially viable type.
                        Dinner and a show, it sounds like an argument FOR them to me.
                        "As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths." Isaiah 3:12

                        There is no such thing as innocence, only degrees of guilt.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Darth Executor View Post
                          Dinner and a show, it sounds like an argument FOR them to me.
                          Not when the burning corpse hits your car...

                          "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." - Jim Elliot


                          "Forgiveness is the way of love." Gary Chapman

                          My Personal Blog

                          My Novella blog (Current Novella Begins on 7/25/14)

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Teallaura View Post
                            Not when the burning corpse hits your car...
                            Especially when the burning corpse hits your car, it meas you have dibs on it.
                            "As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths." Isaiah 3:12

                            There is no such thing as innocence, only degrees of guilt.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Teallaura View Post
                              Not when the burning corpse hits your car...
                              Reminds me of the WKRP episode where they tossed the turkeys out of the helicopter.


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