[ExI] [Bulk] Re: Thoughts on Space based solar power (alternatives)

hkhenson hkhenson at rogers.com
Sun Nov 23 01:04:38 UTC 2008

At 06:30 AM 11/22/2008, Paul wrote:
>hkhenson wrote:
>>You are just wrong on these points.  There is 
>>*no* source or combination of sources on earth that will replace fossil fuels.
>Can you provide any evidence to support this 
>point? It's also hard or impossible to prove a negative.


One of many quotes on point:

I was a firm believer in solar, wind, and geothermal energy until a few
years ago, and I still believe they will help individuals. But no combination
of these "renewable" technologies will make a notable difference at the
level of 300 million Americans, much less the 6.5 billion people in the world.
  ...No alternatives scale, and we're out of time. We made the important
decision about energy policy at two critical junctures in American history:
(1) shortly after WWII, when we created the interstate highway system
and the suburbs to build a way of life that had no future because it relied
completely on ready supplies of a finite resource, and (2) in 1980,
when we dismissed conservation at irrelevant..."
           -- Professor Guy McPherson (see this 


>However, as I said originally, maintaining a 
>grid is expensive, so local solar will drive out the grid eventually.

So is storage.  There are fundamental 
physical/chemical reasons to believe that storage 
will always be more expensive than the grid.  My 
local electric bill is broken down in about 20 
classes which means nothing to a 
non-engineer/economist.  I don't get a lot out of 
it myself, but cost of the grid is about $20/month.

Call it $240 a year.  How much storage battery 
can you buy for that?  If you could make a case 
for putting in solar panels and ton or so of battery, I presume you would.

>   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_energy_resources_and_consumption
>"In 2005, total worldwide energy consumption was 
>500 EJ (= 5 x 1020 J) (or 138,900 TWh) with 
>86.5% derived from the combustion of fossil 
>fuels, although there is at least 10% 
>uncertainty in that figure.[1] This is 
>equivalent to an average energy consumption rate 
>of 15 TW (= 1.5 x 1013 W). ... . For the whole 
>Earth, with a cross section of 127,400,000 km², 
>the total energy rate is 1.740×1017 W, plus or 
>minus 3.5%. This 174 PW is the total rate of 
>solar energy received by the planet; about half, 
>89 PW, reaches the earth's surface."
>So, humanity uses 15TW (much as heat) and the 
>sun provides 174,000TW, or about 10,000 times 
>what we use now. We have to be *really* bad 
>engineers if we can't make that work, even if 
>our energy needs go up by a factor of ten. But 
>chances are they won't any time soon.
>Maybe I made a mistake somewhere and missed a 
>decimal or two, but over and over you can find 
>people saying similar things -- there is plenty 
>of energy producing potential from renewables.

So true.  But potential has to be made into real, 
and that's where the rubber hits the road.

>I live in a somewhat passive solar house (heated 
>with electric actually, some from hydro, some 
>from nuclear). We live in a cold climate, but 
>have lower heating costs than when we lived in a 
>poorly insulated home with an oil burner. This 
>house is not even anywhere near what can be 
>built now. You can build a house that has almost 
>very low utility bills of any kind for not much 
>more than a conventional house -- it is only 
>education and social inertion (and sometimes 
>poor building codes) that hold it back. And more 
>and more people are building green. Also, a lot 
>of people live in cities where heating utility 
>operation can be consolidated (even for biomass burning or solar thermal heat).

You keep going on about houses.  How much of your 
energy use is in your house?  How much is in 
driving a car?  How much is in an airline 
trip?  How much in hot water?  How about food?



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