Can the US go 100% solar energy?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by manfred, Aug 2, 2006.

  1. manfred

    manfred Well-Known Member

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    Are we that far off from the ability to go 100% solar energy? Electric cars are developing now and have been around for years. I drove one in about 1980 ( I forget the exact year). I made my own solar heater sometime in the 80's.
    You can store the energy long term, I've had my tractor battery stay up all winter . Is anyone working on better storage medium?

    I have heard before how much solar energy hits the US in a day but don't remember the figures. Anybody out there know?
    If we could quit buying foreign oil I think most of these troubles with the Arab countrys would dry up. And the world would be much better off , pollution , wasted dollars,etc.
    What do you think?
     
  2. WanderingOak

    WanderingOak Well-Known Member

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    I do not think it would be practical for the nation to go 100% solar in our lifetime. Panels are still pricey. The cost would have to go down dramaticly (to the cost of roofing shingles, for example) in order for it to be affordable on the scale required. Unless it was implemented on a massive scale (paving the entire Mojave desert with solar panels, for example), conservation would have to be mandatory, with absolutely no exceptions. Forget about electric clothes dryers, dehydrators, or space heaters. Individuals might be willing to change their lifestyles on a voluntary basis, but I do not think our nation is ready to make such a change as a whole.

    As for storage, I think bateries are probably the most expensive and least efficient option. If we had enough water, then we could use solar panels to make hydrogen, which can be stored until needed, then converted back to electricity either in fuel cell plants, or conventional power plants. This would require a massive gov't project that would make going to the moon look as simple as walking across the street.
     

  3. Maura

    Maura Well-Known Member Supporter

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    U.S. companies make a lot of money from foreign oil, so we're going to keep importing it.

    The solar technology is not yet good enough to be used in areas with lots of rain and overcast days and short days in the winter.
     
  4. caberjim

    caberjim Stableboy III

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    hmmmm... how much would the solar technology improve and how much would the prices go down if we really committed to it instead of doing it half-assed like we are now? The profits are in oil - Exxon akes 10 billion every 3 months with oil, why should they explore other options? Where is the commitment and investment like putting a man on the moon?
     
  5. BeckyW

    BeckyW Well-Known Member

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    The northern US and the east coast could stay under cloud cover until the year 2320 and it wouldn't matter. There is enough solar radiation in the California Mojave desert alone to power the entire nation. It would dump into the existing power grid. The open land is there, security measures have already been discussed and the technology is there. I listened to a presentation on CSPAN maybe 5 years ago to a Congressional energy committee. And the California Congressman asked - why don't we consider doing this? (I believe the area needed was 10 miles by 10 miles; however that may be an old figure.) It was discussed duplicating it in Nevada, Utah, AZ and NM on a smaller scale. (who knows, that probably powers US, Canada and Mexico!)

    So why don't we do it? Money? I don't think so. Money is fairly easy for a government to come by.

    I try to be an optimist in everything. That said, I think the answer, sadly, is greed.

    BW
     
  6. Lizza

    Lizza Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I just read the figure in MEN. Here is the quote from them:

    The free power that shines on the Earth from the sun is virtually limitless - the energy humans currently use in an entire year is less than the solar energy that strikes our planet every hour.

    Going solar is very expensive right now but imagine how much cheaper it will become if more people start going solar. Everything is expensive if only a few people are buying a product.
     
  7. manfred

    manfred Well-Known Member

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    You might say solar isn't practical but neither is oil and we are doing that.
     
  8. mightybooboo

    mightybooboo Well-Known Member

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    Yes,the Mojave alone could power the world I believe I read,tho maybe it was just this country.

    We dont have it because the the source of the largest gold pile on the planet is oil,and the golden rule.

    He with the gold,rules.

    Dont need solar panels,solar steam plants work,are cheap and reliable.Of course,only during the day.Yet thats when the biggest demand is.

    Until we have the political will to do it,it wont happen.Not any renewables on the scale needed until we really have noother choice.Then it will happen,regardless of enviro concerns over the impact these energy sources have,be they solar,wind or water or ????

    And the politicians dance to the moneyed folks and their bribes,that isnt changing any time soon.

    BooBoo
     
  9. wy_white_wolf

    wy_white_wolf Just howling at the moon

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    That 10 by 10 grid couldn't even produce enough for Califorinia's Electric usage:

    http://www.nbc4.tv/news/9527588/detail.html?subid=10101581

    And they talk about changing our oil addiction over to electric.
     
  10. Jan Doling

    Jan Doling Well-Known Member

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    I don't think the companies benefiting from oil import want us to go solar...I think they will impede our efforts. Let's prove them wrong!!!
     
  11. mightybooboo

    mightybooboo Well-Known Member

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    I like how the car companies pulled out of the electric market.
    When California reneged on the requirement of the fleet being so many(forget,10% was it?) zero polluting,the car companies pulled in the electric cars.Said America wasnt interested.

    Funny thing though,they had waiting lists.And the lease owners wanted to buy them.They pulled em back and destroyed them.

    Thats why we dont have em,they bought off the politicians to keep king oil and king internal combustion autos in place.

    Another thing about electrics,they are simple and very reliable and durable.
    A big no no for the car companies.

    BooBoo
     
  12. WanderingOak

    WanderingOak Well-Known Member

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    100 Square Miles of solar panels is 2.78 billion square feet. Using the Ultra SQ85P from http://www.backwoodssolar.com/Catalogpages2/solar2.htm as a reference, this will produce 34.68 Billion watts of electricity and cost 227.8 billion in solar panels alone (that is street pricing, I know, but even half that cost is not insubstantial). This assumes every square inch of that 100 square miles being covered with solar panels. A more acurate size of such an array would be 125 square miles. Anybody have any statistics on how much power is used by the US?
     
  13. TwoAcresAndAGoat

    TwoAcresAndAGoat Well-Known Member

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    http://www.eetimes.com/news/semi/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=191601203


    EE Times: Semi News
    Firms claim solar-cell breakthrough

    Mark LaPedus
    EE Times
    (08/01/2006 6:57 PM EDT)

    SAN JOSE, Calif. — NanoHorizons Inc. has signed an agreement with Solarity Inc., a new developer and manufacturer of photovoltaic cells.
    Under the terms, Solarity will have exclusive use of NanoHorizons' patented solar cell technology. The specific terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

    NanoHorizon (State College, Penn.) said its device design utilizes a nanoscale-engineered structure to perform both absorption and collection.

    "Solar energy development has been held up by barriers inherent in cell design. These barriers have now been broken," said Stephen Fonash, founder of NanoHorizons and co-inventor of the patented technology, in a statement.

    "Our nanoscale approach enables collection lengths as small as a few tens of nanometers, opening the door to the use of inexpensive materials and fabrication processes, while simultaneously enabling a truly optimized absorption length," he said. "This technology is poised to greatly stimulate growth in the solar energy market."

    Solarity currently plans to produce test products within 18-to-24 months.
     
  14. wy_white_wolf

    wy_white_wolf Just howling at the moon

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    If you go to the link I posted above you see California used 46,000 Megawatts in 1 hour. Thats 46 billion watts or roughly 20% more than your production number
     
  15. mightybooboo

    mightybooboo Well-Known Member

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    Oak,you are missing the point,you dont do it with silicon panels,you do it with heat generating steam to run turbines.
    It simply a gas powered plant running off solar heat.Far cheaper,extremely simple and way more powerful.
    http://www.solel.com/products/pgeneration/ls2/kramerjunction/

    And lots of other places in the west have room for them also.

    We power 2 million homes in California on renewable energy sources.Its doable.

    BooBoo
     
  16. WanderingOak

    WanderingOak Well-Known Member

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    California used 46,000 MW, of power, more than the 34,680 that my hypothetical array would use. Now, if everybody in CA lived in passively cooled adobe houses (I probably would, if I was living out there), their usage would probably be considerably less than the record.
     
  17. mightybooboo

    mightybooboo Well-Known Member

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    Get silicon panels off the brain,its steam heat that works,and has been here since 1985,providing cheap reliable power.

    Not solar panels,heat reflecting mirrors(actually metal troughs)

    BooBoo
     
  18. WanderingOak

    WanderingOak Well-Known Member

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    Wasn't part of Gataca filmed at that plant? The website doesn't mention the size of the facility. How much real estate is required for each 33 Mw plant?
     
  19. Cabin Fever

    Cabin Fever Life NRA Member since 1976 Supporter

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    We use solar energy to heat our home....come to think of it, my grandparents did too. We store our solar energy in the form of firewood.
     
  20. pcdreams

    pcdreams Well-Known Member

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    here is the issue as I see it.

    The technology already exist. The only reason cost of solar/wind/ other alternatives is so high is greed. Greed for the money oil brings.

    Now here is something that scares me.. We talk about these other alternative energies which are a great thing to think about. Problem is they require oil to produce (ie fuel isn't the only thing that uses oil). So as oil runs out alternatives prices are going to skyrocket. So the solution is buy/build/develop NOW!!

    But heres the catch 22.. Everytime someone comes up with something that is more economical/environmentally friendly/etc.. the oil thugs buy up the rights to it.

    :shrug: