atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#3237: How long before we start touting solar power satellites?

Obama's solution to high gas prices? SCIENCE FICTION!

Hal Clement, Needle, 1950. Using genetically-engineered algae and bacteria to make petroleum products.

Solar power just ain't efficient:
A 1,000-MW solar conversion plant, for example – the same size as I've been using for the comparisons of coal and nuclear – would cover 50 to 100 square miles with 35,000 tons of aluminum, two million tons of concrete, 7,500 tons of copper, 600,000 tons of steel, 75,000 tons of glass, and 1,500 tons of other metals such as chromium and titanium – a thousand times the material needed to construct a nuclear plant of the same capacity. These materials are not cheap, and real estate doesn't come for nothing.
You get more efficiency, ironically, by using plants (green leafy type) to concentrate it--but it's still not as efficient as what we pump from the ground.

Converting energy between forms is never 100% efficient. So if you have a solar panel, you can harvest about 20% of the sunlight that falls on it as electricity--in the best case--and storing that electricity in a battery results in losing another major fraction to conversion losses. And you never get as much energy out of a battery as you put into it, so using the stored electricity results in losses as well.

Still, the Democrats love solar power and they love big government projects; I'm surprised that they don't have NASA start building solar power satellites. That's what they would do if the objective was actually to increase the energy supply; but if you turn a gimlet eye on their machinations you are forced to conclude that Democrats want anything but an expanding energy supply.

What they want is a contracting energy supply while giving the appearance of expanding it. Spending billions on green boondoggles (*cough* Solyndra *cough*) is one way to do that.

* * *

Chicken stuff for dinner! Hooray! I have to go buy cat food and other supplies. *sigh*

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