Re: Solar Energy
As I read this discussion, it seems to me even in context, this discussion
of solar electric power ("solar energy") may be giving solar thermal power
a bad name, especially when the sweeping conclusions fail to mention the
difference. It seems to me that it would be nice to point out once in a while
that solar electricity is not the same as solar thermal power, rather than
just lumping everything under the sun into the word "solar," as in "solar
energy is not economically practical today."
Stephen Lajoie <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
>Will Stewart <email@example.com> wrote:
>>>firstname.lastname@example.org (Stephen Lajoie) writes:
>>[Steve believes that use of solar energy for future energy needs of the
>>US would take up an area the size of Colorado]
"Solar energy" to me is heat energy, not electricity. We need to heat houses.
That is a present and future energy need, that is best served by small
distributed systems. In most cases, the south side of a house has more than
enough surface area to heat the house, at a solar thermal collection
efficiency of about 50%.
>Irrelevant. That is not solar power.
Solar power to me is thermal power, not electrical power.
>>>Then, when we figure the cost of solar...
The cost of solar to me is the cost of glazing and 55 gallon drums, systems
that cost 25 cents per peak watt or less, including storage and conversion.
>>>Furthermore, the cost of the additional land, the cost of materials
>>>needed to build the collector
Collectors to me are inexpensive thermal collectors, not electrical collectors.
>>...You seem obsessed with a centralized solar facility
You seem obsessed with electricity, not solar thermal power, but the language
you use seems to cover both, and your generalizations seem overreaching.
>>Again, you seem stuck on centralized solar as the only possible solution.
Both of you seem stuck on electrical energy, vs heat energy.
>... when the engineering guys at the utility do a study to see if the thing
>is going to be profitable, they always give it the thumbs down. Solar sells
>good vibes and karma, not practical energy alternatives.
Maybe the wrong guys are evaluating the wrong technology. If you gave
the Ford engineering guys a new Chevy to take apart, do you think they
would be objective in their assesment of the Chevy?
"Solar," as I use the word, works nicely. It is easy to use the warmth
of the sun to heat houses, and perhaps water. Making electricity may be
economically practical for more than a few people, in a hundred years.
>>>As far as solar goes, it's barely half a percent in the U.S. energy equation.
Are you counting clothes drying, food production, or rain production, to name
a few ways the sun helps us without our having to put it through wires? Let's
do an energy pie that includes all the ways the earth uses the sun, and see
how big a slice all other forms of energy get. Can you imagine making rain
with electrical pumps and hoses and giant sprinklers attached to high altitude
balloons? One can calculate the annual energy required to do that rainmaking
job, and the cost, if the pumps are PV powered...
>>...I will not dismiss solar from helping to meet those needs in the future.
What kind of "solar"?