The American southwest: home to some of the world's finest foods, four -- count 'em, four -- corners, and the biggest dreams of solar geeks and "well-meaning scientists," according to Scientific American:
The U.S. is lucky to be endowed with a vast resource; at least 250,000 square miles of land in the Southwest alone are suitable for constructing solar power plants, and that land receives more than 4,500 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) of solar radiation a year. Converting only 2.5 percent of that radiation into electricity would match the nation's total energy consumption in 2006.
SciAm outlines -- in some depth -- a big, geeky plan for providing nearly 70 percent of the U.S.'s electricity by 2050. It costs an awful lot of money, and it's not quite as sexy as, say, something that spews pollution out of its backside at 100 mph -- I've been saying for a long time that an electric car has to win a NASCAR race for renewable energy to be taken seriously -- but it's evidently quite possible quite soon.
The story addresses land needs, environmental concerns, and financial and technological obstacles. It's not even just photovoltaic cells, baby. They get into steam, power storage, molten salt (!), and nationwide distribution. One point they seem to have missed, though, is that nobody's gonna pretend to think there are WMDs on the sun. So there's that advantage, too.
written by Denny, January 24, 2008
written by Dave, January 24, 2008
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