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  1. #61
    Senior Member Lateralus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DiscoBiscuit View Post
    I don't think solar has the potential to ever become a baseload power provider.

    That kind of green energy should certainly play a part, but things like hydroelectric and nuclear will have to account for the rest of grid energy.

    With transportation we need to aggressively pursue efficiency in existing petroleum engines, and work to find a scalable (in terms of making it fit in a car, not growing from nascent experimental stages into larger versions) green power source to replace petrol.
    Before I refute this, I'll just let you know that you're speaking to an electrical power engineer.

    Solar has two issues:

    1. It doesn't handle high inrush currents very well, for example when a large industrial motor is turned on. However, it's great for things devices that draw relatively constant power (televisions, computers, lights, charging electric automobiles, refrigerators, etc).

    2. There's currently no economically viable way to store solar energy. Batteries are too expensive and have a short lifespan.

    Both of these can be solved with advancements in flywheel technology. Here's a link to Beacon Power's site. This company makes industrial flywheels. I won't go into the technological details, so I'll just say that flywheels convert electrical energy into kinetic energy and vice versa, and they can do so at around 98% efficiency. NASA has been using them for years. The problem is that they're really expensive right now, mostly because there's not much of a demand. But once the general public has its hands on solar energy that's cheaper than coal, the demand for energy storage is going to go through the roof. Flywheels are theoretically capable of handling high inrush currents, as well, but that's more difficult to engineer than simple energy storage.

    Here's a decent Scientific American article on solar cell cost trends:

    http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/...o-solar-cells/
    "We grow up thinking that beliefs are something to be proud of, but they're really nothing but opinions one refuses to reconsider. Beliefs are easy. The stronger your beliefs are, the less open you are to growth and wisdom, because "strength of belief" is only the intensity with which you resist questioning yourself. As soon as you are proud of a belief, as soon as you think it adds something to who you are, then you've made it a part of your ego."

  2. #62
    Dreaming the life onemoretime's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DiscoBiscuit View Post
    That is certainly a consideration for Africa, but absent a way to efficiently transport that energy from Africa (which I actually think Africa deserves), I don't see it changing the equation here in the States too much.
    Someone's got to sell all that solar energy to Africa and Europe.

  3. #63
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lateralus View Post
    Before I refute this, I'll just let you know that you're speaking to an electrical power engineer.

    Solar has two issues:

    1. It doesn't handle high inrush currents very well, for example when a large industrial motor is turned on. However, it's great for things devices that draw relatively constant power (televisions, computers, lights, charging electric automobiles, refrigerators, etc).

    2. There's currently no economically viable way to store solar energy. Batteries are too expensive and have a short lifespan.

    Both of these can be solved with advancements in flywheel technology. Here's a link to Beacon Power's site. This company makes industrial flywheels. I won't go into the technological details, so I'll just say that flywheels convert electrical energy into kinetic energy and vice versa, and they can do so at around 98% efficiency. NASA has been using them for years. The problem is that they're really expensive right now, mostly because there's not much of a demand. But once the general public has its hands on solar energy that's cheaper than coal, the demand for energy storage is going to go through the roof. Flywheels are theoretically capable of handling high inrush currents, as well, but that's more difficult to engineer than simple energy storage.

    Here's a decent Scientific American article on solar cell cost trends:

    http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/...o-solar-cells/
    Now let me tell you something. You're debating with someone playing the long game, and you better be able to do so.

    The amount of energy coming into the system from sunlight per whatever square distance the panel happens to be is too low to accommodate the explosive growth that is occurring in mans energy requirements.

    EDIT - Being able to capture a stars energy efficiently is the hallmark of like a phase 3 civilization or something. We're not even close.

  4. #64
    Senior Member Lateralus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by onemoretime View Post
    Just realized that this may be a component of what has been going on in North Africa. The Sahara is very large, very empty, and very sunny.
    Solar energy will actually allow for a decentralization of energy production. That's a real game changer. And you don't need to be in a "sunny" area for solar to be viable. Germany has fewer watts per year reaching their surface (due to latitude and cloud cover) than any US state except Alaska, and solar works quite well there. And not only is solar becoming cheaper, but the efficiency is also rapidly increasing.
    "We grow up thinking that beliefs are something to be proud of, but they're really nothing but opinions one refuses to reconsider. Beliefs are easy. The stronger your beliefs are, the less open you are to growth and wisdom, because "strength of belief" is only the intensity with which you resist questioning yourself. As soon as you are proud of a belief, as soon as you think it adds something to who you are, then you've made it a part of your ego."

  5. #65
    Senior Member Lateralus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DiscoBiscuit View Post
    Now let me tell you something. You're debating with someone playing the long game, and you better be able to do so.

    The amount of energy coming into the system from sunlight per whatever square distance the panel happens to be is too low to accommodate the explosive growth that is occurring in mans energy requirements.
    Read the first paragraph of the SA article I linked and you tell me if you think that's enough energy to last mankind for a few centuries.

    If we need to use more energy than the sun provides us, then we have a serious thermodynamic problem.
    "We grow up thinking that beliefs are something to be proud of, but they're really nothing but opinions one refuses to reconsider. Beliefs are easy. The stronger your beliefs are, the less open you are to growth and wisdom, because "strength of belief" is only the intensity with which you resist questioning yourself. As soon as you are proud of a belief, as soon as you think it adds something to who you are, then you've made it a part of your ego."

  6. #66
    Senior Member UniqueMixture's Avatar
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    @disco: I think you are not taking into consideration that it is not just a question of who the policymakers are or how well their policies work, but without massive technological innovation the resources we have are being too quickly used up.
    For all that we have done, as a civilization, as individuals, the universe is not stable, and nor is any single thing within it. Stars consume themselves, the universe itself rushes apart, and we ourselves are composed of matter in constant flux. Colonies of cells in temporary alliance, replicating and decaying and housed within, an incandescent cloud of electrical impulses. This is reality, this is self knowledge, and the perception of it will, of course, make you dizzy.

  7. #67
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lateralus View Post
    Read the first paragraph of the SA article I linked and you tell me if you think that's enough energy to last mankind for a few centuries.

    If we need to use more energy than the sun provides us, then we have a serious thermodynamic problem.
    Now allow my retort, and I'm going to let this be my last one.

    The investment will be less to pursue energy by other means.

    Sure, if we stopped everything and started dumping moon landing percentages of the GDP on solar power we could make those advancements.

    The realities of the moment preclude the viability of that option.

  8. #68
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    Quote Originally Posted by UniqueMixture View Post
    @disco: I think you are not taking into consideration that it is not just a question of who the policymakers are or how well their policies work, but without massive technological innovation the resources we have are being too quickly used up.
    See my post about recoverable oil in colorado.

  9. #69
    Senior Member Lateralus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DiscoBiscuit View Post
    Now allow my retort, and I'm going to let this be my last one.

    The investment will be less to pursue energy by other means.

    Sure, if we stopped everything and starting dumping moon landing percentages of the GDP on solar power we could make those advancements.

    The realities of the moment preclude the viability of that option.
    You said before that you were playing the long game, yet this outlook is very short-sighted.

    1. Solar doesn't need massive investment to become viable anymore. It has already happened. The technology's own inertia will propel it past coal without the need for any more government subsidies.
    2. If we allow China, Germany, or some other country to take the lead here (flywheels), the US becomes even more technologically irrelevant. That's not a problem for Wall Street investors because they can invest anywhere in the world, but for actual American citizens it's a problem. Next quarter's P/L statement carries far too much importance in this country. I'm not a fan of China, but in some ways you have to admire them as this is one area where they have infinitely more foresight than our nation.
    "We grow up thinking that beliefs are something to be proud of, but they're really nothing but opinions one refuses to reconsider. Beliefs are easy. The stronger your beliefs are, the less open you are to growth and wisdom, because "strength of belief" is only the intensity with which you resist questioning yourself. As soon as you are proud of a belief, as soon as you think it adds something to who you are, then you've made it a part of your ego."

  10. #70
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lateralus View Post
    You said before that you were playing the long game, yet this outlook is very short-sighted.

    1. Solar doesn't need massive investment to become viable anymore. It has already happened. The technology's own inertia will propel it past coal without the need for any more government subsidies.
    2. If we allow China, Germany, or some other country to take the lead here, the US becomes even more technologically irrelevant. That's not a problem for Wall Street investors because they can invest anywhere in the world, but for actual American citizens it's a problem. Next quarter's P/L statement carries far too much importance in this country.
    I'm playing the long game, the short game, and even putting on the green from time to time.

    That policy works right now. Getting out of this mess is more important than spending any more dollars than we have to to get our energy requirements.

    Once we get growing again, we can innovate in the boom.

    But in this instant, gas is the cheaper option, not too mention I don't think you're going to be able to create solar powered cars to compete with gas. What about solar powered airplanes are those viable?

    To your last point I say this... Solar and green renewables must be a portion of our energy portfolio, but can only take baseload duties when they can assume that role in a price competitive manner to traditional fossil energy.

    If solar was ready to assume baseload duties in a price competitive fashion, it would already be doing so.

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