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Response to NYC_SKP (Reply #45)

Thu Jan 17, 2013, 07:56 PM

60. But if we use 1%

But if we use the 1% number and a Sharp 230 W solar panel with an installed footprint of 20 sqft, we would need about 83 Trillion solar panels. At current pricing that comes in at a paltry 4 quadrillion dollars. Before wiring, inverters, control, distribution, and let's not forget the whole need for power storage (the sun does set), grid balances, ad nauseum. Considering the fact that the US consumes 26% of the world’s power production I think we are going to need a LITTLE more area than 1% of the lower 48.

Insolation rate, cloud cover compensation, maintenance, all the factors people tend to ignore require a pretty high redundancy multiplier to assure you have enough power WHEN and WHERE you need it. Then there is the whole storage technology for load balancing and mobile power needs. Hydrogen? You will pay some pretty hefty efficiency penalties moving the power in and out of that form.

I have a solar power system on my home. At 80% subsidization (Louisiana has best solar deal going) the numbers do not add up. IF solar power made economic sense every new home in America would be optimized by roof pitch and orientation and be covered with solar panels. They are not because even with an 80% government tax credit, it does not make economic sense today.


I must admit I do not like the way my math is adding up. To swag it in from calculating the power needs another way (starting with a world demand of 15 TW) I get 360 billion solar panels at 144 trillion dollars (solar panels only: no infrastructure). Against an annual GLOBAL GDP of 70 trillion or so, it's going to take a while to do the job.

Maybe we ought to stick to proven, low cost technologies while we work on these making the new stuff economically viable. Or we could establish a worldwide dictatorship, put every single person on the planet on a subsistence level standard of living, kill off the 250 million or so intransigent folk who just will not get with the program, and by 2050 we should have it all done.

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LineLineLineLineLineLineLineLineLineReply But if we use 1%
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