[ExI] solar is looking better all the time: was RE: Efficiency of wind power

Eugen Leitl eugen at leitl.org
Wed Apr 13 14:31:01 UTC 2011

On Tue, Apr 12, 2011 at 02:28:50PM +0930, Emlyn wrote:
> 2011/4/7 spike <spike66 at att.net>:

> If you're talking PV, then I agree! Especially since they seem to be
> on an exponential improvement path, unlike any other energy technology
> (ever?).
> But, why would you worry too much about losses in transmission? PV is
> a decentralizing technology. Just put it where you need it, the grid
> takes a back seat.
> Ray K recently put forward a timeframe of 20 years until the world is
> 100% solar, based on current doubling time of uptake. Certainly, in 20

If you need to substitute 20 TW in 20 years, that's a conversion rate
of 1 TW/year, linearly. This might look superficially nice: 
but this definitely doesn't: 

See "fake fire brigade", parts 1 to 4: http://www.theoildrum.com/tag/fake_fire_brigade

Unlike Moore's law, making solar cells smaller doesn't double
the power. The opposite, in fact. And surface doesn't install 
itself, magically connect to the grid, while upgrading it in 
the process, and building these extremely large and expensive
slow-to-build synfuel plants, or substitutes infrastructure 
by increasing electrification.

> years there'll be a lot of it. Out the other side of that? Masses of

Germany doubled PV from 1% to 2% total within about a year. Doubling
very little should be easy, but it was very expensive even for a
renewable world leader -- now think about the world. If anything,
the doubling times will increase as the converted volume has to 
increase. We have done it before when we converted to fossil, but
it took a long time, and it resulted in innovation we haven't been
able to improve upon yet. Carnot-driven turbines are firmly with us.

And of course now the volume is one order of magnitude larger,
while we have much less time. At which point extremely popular
words like demand destruction, frugality and austerity come in.

> power, far more than now, with no concept of power use being a bad
> thing. Bring it on!

Eugen* Leitl <a href="http://leitl.org">leitl</a> http://leitl.org
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