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Tue Jul 31, 2012, 11:03 AM

NREL Study: Solar Power could provide 100 Times the Amount of Current U.S. Electricity Needs!

Source: Daily Kos

TUE JUL 31, 2012 AT 07:35 AM PDT
NREL Study: Solar Power could provide 100 Times the Amount of Current U.S. Electricity Needs!
by Lawrence

The NREL recently did a study on renewable energy potential in the U.S. and the results certainly expose the lies spouting from the mouths of the Republican(Big Fossil, Inc.) Party. Contrary to the nonsensical statements that we continuously hear from Republicans about solar power being a pipe dream, solar power actually has the greatest potential of any energy source in the U.S.

.....................

The U.S. currently generates around 4k Terawatt hours of electricity from fossil, nuclear, and a small amount from renewables. What this NREL study clearly shows is that renewables, and especially solar power, blow all other sources out of the water in terms of electricity-generating potential. Solar alone could generate 400k Terawatt hours of electricity!

The study is even conservative in its estimates. For example, an efficiency rating of 13.5% was used for rooftop solar panels while a 20% efficiency rating is rapidly becoming the new normal with solar pv panels. In regards to urban utility scale solar, parking lots were excluded despite them having some of the greatest potential for urban solar power generation. So, not only is the solar power potential likely even more than 100 times our current electricity generation, it seems clear that rooftop solar and urban utility solar alone could provide us with all our electricity needs.

http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy12osti/51946.pdf

Read more: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/07/31/1115314/-NREL-Study-Solar-Power-could-provide-100-Times-the-Amount-of-Current-U-S-Electricity-Needs

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Reply NREL Study: Solar Power could provide 100 Times the Amount of Current U.S. Electricity Needs! (Original post)
kpete Jul 2012 OP
Scuba Jul 2012 #1
valerief Jul 2012 #31
Marrah_G Jul 2012 #2
truthisfreedom Jul 2012 #8
Marrah_G Jul 2012 #26
DCKit Jul 2012 #11
xtraxritical Jul 2012 #14
DCKit Aug 2012 #38
Marrah_G Jul 2012 #27
jonthebru Jul 2012 #13
JDPriestly Jul 2012 #18
Marrah_G Jul 2012 #28
JDPriestly Jul 2012 #17
Marrah_G Jul 2012 #29
4th law of robotics Aug 2012 #41
happyslug Jul 2012 #3
leftyohiolib Jul 2012 #6
Uncle Joe Jul 2012 #12
JDPriestly Jul 2012 #20
happyslug Jul 2012 #24
Uncle Joe Aug 2012 #45
The Doctor. Jul 2012 #4
happyslug Jul 2012 #5
JDPriestly Jul 2012 #22
One_Life_To_Give Aug 2012 #42
Kablooie Jul 2012 #7
JohnnyRingo Jul 2012 #9
AllyCat Jul 2012 #10
primavera Jul 2012 #15
Codeine Jul 2012 #34
happyslug Jul 2012 #16
JDPriestly Jul 2012 #23
happyslug Jul 2012 #35
JDPriestly Aug 2012 #37
happyslug Aug 2012 #39
JDPriestly Aug 2012 #44
One_Life_To_Give Aug 2012 #43
triplepoint Jul 2012 #19
NickB79 Jul 2012 #21
DreamSmoker Jul 2012 #25
rks306 Jul 2012 #30
Dont call me Shirley Jul 2012 #32
Sirveri Jul 2012 #33
happyslug Aug 2012 #40
limpyhobbler Jul 2012 #36

Response to kpete (Original post)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 11:12 AM

1. Yeah, but how are the energy moguls gonna make money?

 

Oh, wait... the Republicans will just tax working people and give the money to their wealthy donors.

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Response to Scuba (Reply #1)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 05:20 PM

31. Yes, because making those rich people richer is the MOST IMPORTANT THING IN THE WORLD. nt

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Response to kpete (Original post)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 11:17 AM

2. I have only one concern about solar

I am a big fan of solar and wind, but I do have one question.

Do we have enough resources to make the amount of batteries needed? Is there some other way to store the energy besides batteries?

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Response to Marrah_G (Reply #2)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 11:48 AM

8. If you google home energy storage you'll see that Solar City has a lithium ion system available now.

There's plenty of lithium on the planet. Right now we have new systems that extract it from the brine used in geothermal power plants, and there's literally no waste from that process.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/28/business/energy-environment/simbol-materials-plans-to-extract-lithium-from-geothermal-plants.html

You can see here recent news about the mining rights laws being changed in California to accommodate this company, Simbol.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/toddwoody/2012/07/06/california-bill-to-help-clear-way-for-lithium-gold-rush/

It's really exciting stuff.

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Response to truthisfreedom (Reply #8)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 04:47 PM

26. Nice- thank you :)

I can always count on DU you be a fountain of knowledge!

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Response to Marrah_G (Reply #2)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 12:49 PM

11. It can also be stored as compressed air, water pumped to a height, in a heated or chilled solution..

 

(cooling for refrigeration, AC and heat for running turbines and hot water), hydrogen (electrolysis of water) for running engines.

None of these methods is 100% efficient, but neither are batteries. The point is, there are a lot of options to carry us through until we find the holy grail of energy storage.

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Response to DCKit (Reply #11)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 01:04 PM

14. How about just pushing it into the "grid"?

 

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Response to xtraxritical (Reply #14)

Wed Aug 1, 2012, 04:06 AM

38. With so many distributed options, you don't have to "push" anything onto the grid.

 

I'm gonna have to have the judge call you a hostile witness.

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Response to DCKit (Reply #11)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 04:48 PM

27. I had no idea there were so many options!

Thanks guys and gals

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Response to Marrah_G (Reply #2)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 12:56 PM

13. I haven't read other responses but if I may weigh in

Storage is a big deal of course. One thing worth noting is that solar is not only photo voltaic. Using the suns heat to move fluid through pipes to power generators works very well. Storing those hot liquids for nighttime generation is a real possibility. Molten salt at around 600 degrees is what is used now. There are several plants working this way around the world.
The constant source is a big deal, the wind does stop, the sun does get covered by clouds.
Research will increase the efficiency of all these power sources as time goes on.
The important thing for us is to stop the exploitation of carbon based fossil fuels as soon as possible. Leave what is left in the ground where it belongs.

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Response to jonthebru (Reply #13)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 02:41 PM

18. Hard to imagine elsewhere in the US, but the clouds rarely cover the sun

in desert areas of the Southwest. It happens, but not that often. And when it happens people can do what we do on cold days -- use gas or oil or coal or some other conventional source of energy. The idea is to save the environment, not to end all use of carbon energy.

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Response to jonthebru (Reply #13)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 04:50 PM

28. I agree- we need to get the heck away from fossil fuels

Lots of great answers to my questions. I love DU

Now I am off to read some links!

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Response to Marrah_G (Reply #2)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 02:38 PM

17. These estimates are from a good source.

http://www.nrel.gov/overview/

Why don't you ask them?

I must explain that I don't mean that as an insult. I am seriously asking you to ask the NREL what kind of storage they foresee.

Out here in Southern California -- storage would not be much of a problem because we could use solar for daylight hours and then kick in some carbon alternative if we really needed it.

It is shameful that the sometimes excessive amount of sun we have here in sunny Southern California is not put to more use producing energy for the nation.

Do you know who discovered oxygen? Actually, it was the research of a number of individuals that made and confirmed the discovery of oxygen. And with the viability of solar power, it will take some crazy dedicated scientists and technicians to make it work. But it will happen. All doubts will be put to rest. Take my word for it.

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Response to JDPriestly (Reply #17)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 04:52 PM

29. I would love to see wind, solar and water as the primary means of power someday soon

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Response to Marrah_G (Reply #2)

Wed Aug 1, 2012, 11:27 AM

41. Use excess solar power to run giant outdoor fans during the day

 

at night the wind generated would have enough momentum to power downstream windmills (just run the fans in reverse) to keep those houses going). So everyone provides excess power to people a few miles away.

Those on the extreme upwind side of things will have to take a hit as no one will be there to power their windmills but they can be compensated in some way.

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Response to kpete (Original post)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 11:28 AM

3. Problems with this report.

 

First is this COMMENT made in the Actual Report on page 10:

Note that as a technical potential, rather than economic or market potential, these estimates do not consider availability of transmission infrastructure, costs, reliability or time-of-dispatch, current or future electricity loads, or relevant policies. Further, as this analysis does not allocate land for use by a particular technology, the same land area may be the basis for estimates of multiple technologies (i.e., non-excluded land is assumed to be available to support development of more than one technology).


Appendix B. Energy Consumption by State
Electric retail sales in the United States were roughly 3,754 TWh in 2010 (EIA).

Appendix B. Energy Consumption by State
Electric retail sales in the United States were roughly 3,754 TWh in 2010 (EIA).


Table ES-1. Total Estimated U.S. Technical Potential Generation and Capacity by Technology
Technology
.................................Generation Potential.......Capacity Potential
...............................................(TWh)....................(GW)
Urban utility-scale PV.... ..............2,200....................1,200
Rural utility-scale PV.................280,600.................153,000
Rooftop PV...................................800.......................664
Concentrating solar power.........116,100...................38,000
Onshore wind power..................32,700..................11,000
Offshore wind power.................17,000....................4,200
Biopower....................................500.........................62
Hydrothermal power systems..........300.........................38
Enhanced geothermal systems....31,300.....................4,000
Hydropower.................................300..........................60

Note a TWh is a Terrawatt per hour (10 to the 12th power) while a GW is a Gigawatt, which is only 10 to the ninth power).

Also "Capacity Potential" is what can be produced RIGHT NOW, "Generation potential" is what is produced for the whole year.

Thus the biggest potential source of solar power is from rural areas, i.e. covering farmlands with solar panels, i.e. replacing food for electricity (In the study parks, mountains, rivers, lakes and other similar areas were deemed NOT available for use, thus a heavy concentration in the South West due to the vast amount of land owned by the Federal Governmental Bureau of Land Management (BLM) but Federal Forests, Parks, reserves, wildlife sanctuaries were excluded),

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Response to happyslug (Reply #3)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 11:44 AM

6. every party's got to have a pooper

 

untill corpoRAT america can figure out how to put a meter on sunlight there'll be no solar power

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Response to happyslug (Reply #3)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 12:55 PM

12. A carbon tax could and should help pay for the cost. n/t

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Response to happyslug (Reply #3)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 02:48 PM

20. China and Germany are gradually moving toward solar.

But then, they are the creative titans, and we Americans . . . . well, we are stupid and inept and can't do much, can we? (Where is the sarcasm symbol when I need it.)

The electric light was viewed as totally impractical by many people when it was first invented. That is true of just about any technology. My grandmother used to yell into the telephone even though her sister was "central," i.e., the town telephone operator. Even when technology is perfected and so common that it is found in every household, conservative oldsters just can't believe it and don't like to use it.

I have a couple of elderly friends who absolutely refuse to use computers. They think they are dangerous. Maybe they are, but we haven't proved their dangers yet.

Solar energy is the way of the future. The problems will be solved. That's what the minds of engineers are for. And I know some budding engineers and scientists who will just love to attack this problem.

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Response to JDPriestly (Reply #20)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 03:55 PM

24. The purpose of my comment was to put this report in prespective

 

Basically, the numbers indicate Solar Energy can NOT replace oil, thus a major restructure of our society will be needed (i.e suburbia and its use of automobiles will become a thing of the past). On the other hand, it also indicates that a total collapse of out society will NOT happen, we will still be around in 2100, but as different from today is from the predominantly rural America of 1912.

AS to Germany and China embracing Solar, Germany seems to be headed that way, but China is clearly into Solar to make money NOT for its own use (China wants to use more coal and oil then it wants to embrace Solar). China domination of the Solar Market today is a product of a decision of China to become the big player in Solar due to its high profit margins i.e a lot of people will pay extra to have something "Solar" and Chain wants to be the source to fill that need. For internal use China is committed to more automobiles for its people AND to increase the use of coal (Which china has been mining extensively).

Even the German's plan for Solar has run into some road blocks, but at least I can say the Germans truly want Solar power to work, something I can NOT say about the Government of China.

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Response to happyslug (Reply #24)

Wed Aug 1, 2012, 04:34 PM

45. We will be undergoing a major restructuring of our society over the next few decades regardless of

whether we embrace solar or not.

The choice we have before us is whether we as a nation will take control of that restructuring and in turn our destiny by switching aggressively to renewable energy sources or whether we stay on the current mass suicidal course of relying on the burning of climate altering fossil fuels.

There will major financial costs either way, but I do believe the latter course will be far more disruptive to our nation and for that matter the world.

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Response to kpete (Original post)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 11:29 AM

4. Cost?

 

Did the study look at the cost to build the infrastructure to reach that output?

Even at 1000x the cost of maintaining the current system, it'd be a good investment, but I'm curious.

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Response to The Doctor. (Reply #4)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 11:38 AM

5. The report clearly states costs were NOT considered.

 

n/t

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Response to The Doctor. (Reply #4)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 02:56 PM

22. What did it "cost" to build railroad lines across the US?

What did it "cost" to build pipelines to everywhere, USA?

What did it "cost" to build our network of highways and airports?

Whatever the cost, if we decide we want to do this, we will find the money.

Why don't we use the money that would be spent on that pipeline for the Canadian tar sands oil to build solar panels everywhere in the Southwest and an electricity system that could carry that energy across the US instead?

I live in Southern California, and there is lots of room for solar energy panels. The study did not include placing panels on parking lots. That is where we should start -- that and on homes. People are already starting to put them on rural land that isn't really good for farming. There is a lot of that in California.

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Response to The Doctor. (Reply #4)

Wed Aug 1, 2012, 12:07 PM

42. $20Trillion in round numbers

2,000 Giga-Watts
25% Capacity Factor
2190hrs per year
$10/watt installed.


On edit a side benefit
Employing 20million people for ten years.

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Response to kpete (Original post)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 11:45 AM

7. Hey, solar could be used to subsidize the oil companies and everyone would be happy. nt

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Response to kpete (Original post)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 12:08 PM

9. The biggest problem with solar...

...comes after the infrastructure is completed:

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Response to kpete (Original post)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 12:20 PM

10. Quck! Here comes Rmoney to make sure we "level the playing field" by cutting any support/credits for

solar! I mean, those poor oil companies are taking it in the teeth!

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Response to kpete (Original post)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 01:27 PM

15. Yes, but will solar powered cars make loud "vroom" noises?

We Amurikans seem to need that from our vehicles.

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Response to primavera (Reply #15)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 09:43 PM

34. I would point out many of the "vroomiest" cars are not "Amurikan." nt

 

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Response to kpete (Original post)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 01:48 PM

16. Second problem, electricy generation is only 16% of the energy used in the US.

 

In 2009 the US used 25,155 TMh total energy. of which only 3,962 TWH was electricity, or just under 16% of total energy used.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kilowatt_hour
http://www.iea.org/textbase/nppdf/free/2011/key_world_energy_stats.pdf

Thus to replace all the energy used in the US TODAY, would require six times what we are producing today. That includes ignoring the geometric increase in ALL forms of energy we have seen since at least the 1800s. Thus to just stand still we have to see energy increase on the order of 8-10% each year.

Now, I still think this is a good study, but lets remember its short comings, Solar power will be part of any solution to the upcoming energy crisis and studies like this are needed to see where we can go, but also remember it uses the max limits possible, a limit we will NEVER get to do to the other restriction when it comes to energy generations, distribution and use.

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Response to happyslug (Reply #16)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 02:58 PM

23. The day of the electric car will come sooner than you think.

Humans have to sleep. Your car can be recharged while you sleep or during the day while you aren't driving it.

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Response to JDPriestly (Reply #23)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 11:22 PM

35. The electric car will come, but most people will replace they gas jobs with a bicycle

 

Remember, most electricity produced today is from Coal, Natural Gas is Number 2, then Nuclear generation. Everything else are minor compared to those three. Solar power will first have to replace Coal, Nuclear and Natural Gas for current electrical use, then fill the increase in electrical use based on present use of electricity, then and only then go after the remaining 84% of the energy used in the US. Manufacturing will embrace electrical use first, then and only then will transport.

The above is enough on its own to bring into question the electric car. Can we increase solar power by a factor of 100 (10 if you skip replacing Coal, Natural gas and Nuclear generation of electricity). That is a HUGE increase, I just do NOT see such an increase in the next 20-50 years. Maybe 50 plus years but now the next 20-50 years. Thus when peak oil hits hard, it will be conservation that is the key to solving the energy crisis not electric cars.

Conservation starts with understanding how to reduce energy use. The most efficient transportation system from an energy point of view is Steel wheel on Steel rail (i.e. a railroad). I foresee a return to electric railroad lines (There was a big movement to electric railroads in the US after about 1900, but the steady reduction in the price of oil from the 1920s to the 1950s killed that movement). I see it coming back, replacing over the road trucking. I actually foresee a side step where over head wires are installed on the Interstate highway system to provide the option of direct electrical feed to trucks (I actually foresee this in the Mountains of the West, electric drive can provide more power for climbing a mountain, thus permitting maximum fuel savings AND speeding up the trucks as they go through the mountains).

The military will retain oil based systems, due to the lighter weight of jet fuel and jet engine over electric storage device and electric proposition (and some electrical power will be diverted to making bio-fuel for the military).

I foresee ambulances and fire engines going electrical, but these will be battery operated systems to permit maximum flexibility. The problem is once you start to look beyond these means of transportation, the cost to operate electric cars start NOT to make economic sense. i.e. cheaper for people to opt to ride a bike or walk to work then retain a car in the form of an electric car, especially as the demand for electricity increase due to the increase use of electricity in transportation.

If people would be willing to live in tighter cities (As was the norm in the 1800s) people could opt NOT to have a vehicle, only paying for one as needed (a taxi). Most people could then walk to work and under an ideal situation Solar Roof panels could provide all the electrical power needed to operate the house (i.e. the lights, the refrigerator, the stove etc, with the only outside power needed being electrical power to heat and cool the house). This would free up centralized Solar power system for transportation use (and heating and cooling). Such a system would force anyone who wanted electrical transportation to pay for the centralized electricity being generated. I foresee price being used to "Ration" such electricity due to the shortage of such electricity. Thus forcing many people to re-think where they live, shop and work (i.e. return to a more early 20th century urban environment, smaller homes better insulated then the homes of 1900 and with electrical solar panels in place of a roof. Such Solar roofs could provide all the power the household would need for day to day use, but transportation, heating and cooling would be another factor. To keep the electric bill low people will try to minimize all three, opting for a hotter house in summer, cooler house in winter and using some other means of transportation then a family car. All due to a severe electrical storage that will be addressed by high electrical rates (i.e. prices will be high to discourage use)

Now the same high rates will apply to all means of transportation. Thus you will see the various form of transportation look at ways to minimize electrical use. Electric vehicles using overhead wires avoids the loss of energy related to charging and discharging whatever is the storage device. i.e. Streetcars use less electricity then battery operated cars do to the fact that the electricity used in the Streetcars does NOT have to charge a battery first and then from the battery used to move the vehicle. Furthermore Streetcars can save weight by NOT having to haul around the batteries used to store the electricity needed by the Streetcars (through the streetcars will loss power from the over head cable depending on how far the car is from the electrical power source, but that loss is way lower then the loss do to charging and discharging a battery). As I said above, I foresee the Trucking industry also slowly adopting electrical overhead wires to provide power to its trucks. I also foresee this as a temporary solution for sooner or later the superior energy conservation of Steel Wheel on Steel Rail will drive long distance trucking out of business. Trucking will retain short haul business, with most major intercity roads having overhead wires and computers on the trucks to determine how much electricity they pull from the lines. The trucks will also have limited battery power to get to and from side streets when that is needed.

I foresee a electrical power train stopping at its station, leaving it rail cars behind (Mostly pallets but trailers also). The trucks pull into the station and an electrical overhead system moves the pallet to the truck (or the truck hooks up to a trailer off the train itself). All this time the trucks are powered by an over head wire. The trucks, still on the over head wire, would then take the local roads to the nearest intersection to where it wants to go. If it is business, the business would have its own overhead wires for the truckers to use, if the cargo is going someplace without such an electrical overhead wire, the truck will switch to its battery for the short haul to and from where the cargo is to go.

Most people will NOT have access to the overhead wires. I foresee it being reserved to trucks, buses and streetcars. People who opt for electric cars will have to pay a high price to charge the car even on off peak hours, for everyone will be charging whatever they want to use later at the same time (Prices will encourage such off peak charging, but as use of electricity evens out the price difference will slowly be reduced).

The overhead wire system will favor areas with the overhead wire system, but do to their costs of upkeep restricted to high population areas. These same over head wired area will quickly became where business wants to be for it will be where they can reduce their energy costs the most (Which is why the old Downtowns were the place to be prior to the reduction of the price of oil starting in the 1930s). Some of the areas around the post 1960 malls will become urban centers in themselves, but will slowly replace the parking lots around the malls with buildings (Most over the parking lots, then closing off the parking lots). At first these new buildings will be housing for workers in the mall, then other people without access to an electric car (And access means able to afford not only to buy an electric car but to operate it by keeping it charged).

States will look at how to build up the over head electrical system the trucking industry will want AND to pay for paving the roads that the trucking industry will want the state to maintain. A good bet this will be added to whatever is the electrical bill people are paying (Further forcing more and more people to opt for solar panels on their own roofs). Electrical bills will sky rocket, some source of revenue will have to be found to replace the tax on gasoline and that will be a tax on electricity or electric cars (Probably both). This will drive more and more people to opt for other means of transportation other then by electric cars i.e. walking, biking and taking public transportation, which in turn will lead to more densely populated urban areas (Apartment buildings will become the norm, for most such apartments do NOT need central heating, the people in the Apartment complex are enough to keep it warm, the problem will be keeping the complex cool, even in winter, but a careful design of windows, air flow with limited Air Conditioning can keep even a large complex cool at very low use of electricity).

People tend to forget that prior to WWII the vast majority of Americans did NOT own a car, it was the post WWII era and the rise of suburbia that saw most Americans own a car. Given what I expect to happen to the price of oil and the demand for electricity I foresee most Americans returning to how they great grand parents lived, except with access to the net, better housing, better health care, large screen TVs and other modern conveniences (Living in small homes or apartments and using public transportation when the distance is to far to walk).

In rural areas, I foresee people opting for electric cars, but keeping use down by making sure all trips are to the nearest rail=head where they can get on a train. Bicycles and horse drawn vehicles will be competitors to electrical cars, and I mean serious competitors do to the much lower cost to operate them given the high price for electricity NOT generated on the farm. Most farmers will want to retain whatever electrical generation of the farm for farm use, opting for other means if possible. The real issue is how much will it cost a farmer (both in price AND lost of acres to farm) to set up enough solar panels to power up his electrical tractors (and if the cost would exceed the cost of returning to the horse as the main means of energy for farm work). Even today, on farms of 50 acres or less it is more profitable to use a horse then a tractor (Now most farmers could NOT pay their taxes on such a farm from what the farmer can produce on those 50 acres, but I am ignoring that factor in this article).

The real issue will be, what would be cheaper, sell off 1/2 to 3/4 of the farm so that the remaining land can be farmed by one farmer and a horse, or retain the larger farm and buy solar panels to charge the electric tractor. That will depend mostly on the cost of the Panels and how long the panels will last. Further north the less sunlight and thus more likley horses will trump electric tractors, further south and west more sunlight more electrical tractors (but tied in with more sunlight is less water). Unlike urban areas to many ifs for rural areas and the horse is always the back up if all else fails.

As to suburbia, I see it slowly dying. People will try to save it, but horses are NOT a good option for Suburbia and neither is the use of high density population core. Bicycles, motor scooters and electric bikes will be tried, but found wanting. Trucking companies will charge a premium to ship anything to suburbia (i.e. the same price as rural areas) but the option of using the horse will be out (Suburbia is to urban to permit the use of horses as a fright hauling means). The plots of land will be to small to charge an electric car for daily use, and the high price of electricity do to the needs to improve the electrical system and the highway system will slowly force people out (i.e. cost to charge the car will exceed the income earned at work thus have to move closer to work or quit work, quitting work will NOT be an option so moving will be, maybe twice, again when the work place decides to move to cut energy (electrical) costs.

My point is I just do NOT see society moving so fast that it can replace not only its electrical energy but its transportation energy costs with solar panels within 50 years. That is to demand an increase of over at least 100 times what solar panels are producing today. Thus electric cars will be part of the future over the next 50 years, but we will NOT have the electrical energy from solar power to power those cars. Price will sooner or later come into play as a form of rationing. Most people will have to abandon the concept of owning their own automobile (or at least operating it on a daily basis). People will have to adjust how their get to work, but where they live, they will have to move closer to work, shop and send their children to school.

Now, before you say people can work at home, I see most things that can be done at home slowly losing value, i.e. people interacting with other people will be paid much more then a person working at home. I have already seen this in the Legal Profession, many contracts and other legal documents are now prepared in India by Indian lawyers. They know and practice in English, they understand common law concepts and since the standard of living in India is much lower then in the US can produce legal papers at much lower costs. Like piece work in Japan, I suspect a lot of at home work will be done by stay at home moms at some low piece rate. probably lower then minimum wage if you look at the hours put into the at home work. Thus getting to and from a work site will become more and more important for any job paying a decent wage and that means getting to and from work. Thus transportation will still be a factor in the next 50 years. People need clothes, housing, food, they want their home appliances repaired (or replaced). They want to feel like they can get a fair hearing in front of the Judge (Unlike Lawyers who write for a living, litigators have held they own when it comes to income, for the simple reason they are going to court.

Thus transportation costs will remain the biggest use of energy over the next 50 years, presently it is overwhelming oil based, electric cars have barely made a dent in transportation. I would say, Amtrak and its electric engines on the East Coast equals if not exceed the electric cars and hybrids when it comes to using electricity in transportation.

Requiring Railroads to electrify would be a good first step in conservation and the US has NOT even tried to force Railroads to electrify. Conrail de-electrify itself in 1980. Besides Amtrak, Conrail was the last Railroad to use electric power, it switched for only the old Pennsylvania lines on the East Coast were electric. Pennsylvania Railroad had NEVER electrified its lines west of Harrisburg PA, or south of Washington DC. By 1980, Conrail was diesel everywhere but the east coast. As to the East Coast, Conrail was diesel on the old New York Central and other non-former Pennsylvania Railroad lines. Thus Conrail ended up having two means of power, electric locomotive on the old Pennsylvania East Coast lines, diesel everywhere else. In 1980 Conrail decided to go to one type of power, and that was diesel

The Pennsylvania Railroad had electrified its main line in 1910 as part of its plan to open Penn Station in New York City. To open that station the Pennsylvania railroad had to build a 1,900 m (6,100 ft) tunnel under the Hudson River with additional underground tunnels in Manhattan itself AND in New Jersey (Total length of the rail line built in 1904-1910 is 14,575 feet or 4,442 m). You could NOT operate steam locomotives on that line given the length of the tunnel, so electric locomotives were used instead, this started the Pennsylvania Railroad to electrified its whole line, but only did the East Coast by the 1930s when the project stopped. The Pennsylvania Railroad converted to Diesel in the 1950s. The tunnels were sold to Amtrak in 1976 so the Tunnels are owned by Amtrak NOT Norfolk and Southern (who purchased Conrail, with Norfolk and Southern generally getting the old Pennsylvania railroad and the B&O getting most of what had been the New York Central). From what I can tell no diesel operate in these tunnels, only used by passenger trains, Amtrak and New Jersey Transit, both of which operate electric trains.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_Tunnel_Extension

Just pointing out, the first step would be to have the railroads electrify, but no one is even proposing that. Norfolk and Southern operates diesel locomotives on tracks it shares with Amtrak, but Norfolk and Southern uses diesels on those tracks, while Amtrak uses overhead wires. Thus no one has really done anything to switch transportation to electricity and until that is done, solar panels will have little effect on transportation compared to oil.

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Response to happyslug (Reply #35)

Wed Aug 1, 2012, 12:39 AM

37. Interesting ideas, of course, bicycles are not practical for many people over 65.

Knee problems just would not permit bicycling for all too many.

Have you read this article about Los Angeles' urban electric railway system?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pacific_Electric_Railway

There is a film, "Who Killed Roger Rabbit" about the alleged plot to destroy the electric railway in order to

Here in LA, the suburbs are already in decline. That is the result of the foreclosure crisis.

As for further export of American jobs to India? I wouldn't be so sure. There is quite a backlash building in the US against the cheap labor in other countries. Too many people here can't get jobs.

I'm in Southern California. If you haven't been in the southwestern US, you would never imagine how much sunshine we have. It is quite incredible. And they have even more sunshine in Arizona than in Southern California.



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Response to JDPriestly (Reply #37)

Wed Aug 1, 2012, 10:57 AM

39. As to Streetcars, I use to live on the last Streetcar line in Pittsburgh.

 

Pittsburgh in 1964 had the largest Streetcar service in the US, The reason for this is the local Streetcar provider (Pittsburgh railways) had gone bankrupt in the 1930s, coming out of it when it sold off its interurban lines (that went from Pittsburgh to Washington PA, the County seats of Allegheny and Washington County PA) to the Pennsylvania Department of Highways (Now Penndot) so that the State could use about 1/4 of it for a then new (1954) four lane highway between Pittsburgh and Washington PA.

Now, the ruling elite of City of Pittsburgh had come to hate Streetcars for most of them drove cars and blamed the Streetcars for causing Traffic Jams. Thus there was a push to replace Streetcars with buses (The actual cause of the traffic jams was to many cars, but car drivers will NOT blame themselves, so it had to be the streetcars). Thus the push to get rid of streetcars was huge in the 1950s in Pittsburgh (And for similar reasons in other cities). When Allegheny County decided to take over the Pittsburgh Railway Streetcar system and establish a County Owned public transit system (Run by the Port Authority of Allegheny County, hereafter referred to by the term "PAT" which stands for Port Authority Transit) it was as part of a policy to replace streetcars with buses. This worked on all the streetcar lines EXCEPT the three interconnected lines which were part of the remains of the Pittsburgh to Washington Interurban line.

When the State took over the Interurban line, Pittsburgh Railway cut back service on that line to the Allegheny County Border. There was already talk of taking over the Streetcars by the county by the early 1950s so it was a good move. The State only wanted the old interurban line from the County Border to about half way to Washington Pa. At that half way point the old interurban cut back through a valley to Cannonsburg PA and then along Chartiers Creek to Washington PA. The State wanted to avoid Cannonsburg with its then new four lane highway. so it took the then new four lane highway directly to Washington PA over various hills to get to Washington Pa.

As to the remains of the Interurban, a new loop was built at Drake road so the Railway bridge over Drake road could be torn down (it needed to be replaced, it was over 50 years old at that time and had been built cheaply in the 1905-1910 time period). The renamed Drake Streetcar line was on its own exclusive right of way from Drake to Pittsburgh, no street running at all (When it was part of the Washington Pa interurban line, it was on its own right of way from Cannonsburg to Pittsburgh, running on the Streets of Cannonsburg, Houston and Washington PA, but on its own right of way between those small cities). When the interurban line had been built in the 1905-1910 period, this was rural Pennsylvania, but by the 1950s it was suburbia. Even today 10% of the people who work in Downtown Pittsburgh go into Pittsburgh via the three interconnected old Streetcar lines.

I bring this up for as part of the Streetcar to bus transformation proposed in the 1960s, these three lines, the 46 Drake and the 47 Library lines were on their own exclusive right of way and the related 38/42 Mt Lebanon via Beechview was mostly on its own right of way (Running on two Roads but connecting those two road on its own right of way AND on its own right of way from those roads to the right of way shared with the 46 Drake and 47 Library lines). The problem was to convert these lines from Streetcars to buses would mean moving the transit from its own right of way to the local roads, which were already subject to massive traffic jams. At the time, and even today, it is FASTER to take these streetcar lines then to drive to downtown Pittsburgh due to the fact they are on their exclusive right of way, but a right of way NOT conductive to being paved. i.e. buses would have to run with the already jammed traffic on the nearby highways. Thus converting to bus would increase the travel time by a factor of at least 2 (And probably 3, i.e a 30 minute trip would become a 90 minute trip).

Thus you could NOT replace these last three streetcar lines with buses but PAT was commited to replacing all Streetcars with buses. Busways were built in other parts of the County, but on these streetcar lines the right of way was to narrow (The right of way included a tunnel under Mt Washington, which overlooks Downtown Pittsburgh, it was paved so buses could run on it, but buses pass each other with less then six inches between the buses as there pass going opposite directions. Such narrow passages work with rail, the rail provides a rigid place for both vehicles, but buses have to be driven thus minimum distance is generally wider in tunnels for buses and cars then for rail. The tight passage is acceptable for one spot on a transit line but not for the whole transit line and thus the Federal Government permitted the tunnel to be paved and used by buses BUT would not approve such tight fit for the whole right of way).

Yes, PAT had problems getting rid of its last three streetcar lines. PAT actually adopted a policy of replacing it with an automated rubber tired elevated people mover, called "Skybus" locally. I have discussed Pittsburgh "Skybus" project before on DU2, here is where I made my comments if you want to read more on it:

http://betterment.democraticunderground.com/?com=view_post&forum=1130&pid=241

http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?
az=show_mesg&forum=184&topic_id=5818&mesg_id=5820

http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=show_mesg&forum=398&topic_id=794&mesg_id=824

I did a paper (preliminary never a final draft) on the rise of Suburbs and the rise and decline of Streetcars. In the paper I mention the "Advertising" affect of Streetcars. If you ever had a class in advertising, you will find out actual ads are just PART of any advertising campaign. As to Streetcars the fact that streetcars needed overhead wires and rails were constant reminders that streetcars ran on that road (i.e Advertising streetcars ran on that road). Thus any traffic jam on that road were seen by drivers as being caused by the Streetcars if they saw no reason for the jam (Which is most cases). This concept had more to do with replacing Streetcars with buses, just to eliminate people calling the Mayor that Streetcars were causing traffic jams:

Here is that paper:
http://www.democraticunderground.com/113025

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Response to happyslug (Reply #39)

Wed Aug 1, 2012, 03:49 PM

44. Very interesting. I live in an area that was first developed as a suburb in the period

between maybe 1890 and 1930. That is pretty early for Los Angeles. It is considered to be an historic area. I've seen a photo of the streets with tram cars on them. There certainly were a lot of cars coming from different directions. As I may have told you in an earlier post, this area is being gentrified -- lots of young couples and families moving in. People who used to move to the suburbs.

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Response to happyslug (Reply #16)

Wed Aug 1, 2012, 12:16 PM

43. A mere $120Trillion installed

Employ 120million workers for ten years

Thats what maybe 20 times the defense budget?

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Response to kpete (Original post)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 02:42 PM

19. Stop Building Coal Plants. Stop Licensing Nuke Plants and Go Renewable

 

--all incrementally of course. Then, phase in commercial nuclear fusion power plants....incrementally of course. Phase out fossil fuels with renewables (including solar). Year 2016 will be here in less than four years. That's the "point of no return" for getting the CO2 content in the Earth's atmosphere down to at least 350ppm. If China keeps commissioning a new coal power plant every week, Civilization won't make it. At this very moment, both India and China are buying up African coal fields as fast as they can. All while the U.S. is on a compulsive fracking binge.

The Ozone Layer
The ozone layer is only about 3mm thick and is approximately 90 miles above us. Our seeding the atmosphere with a lethal dose of CO2 has heated up the planet's surface via global warming, and caused a (water) fracking of the Stratosphere...This in turn, is causing more ozone layer destruction, and a speedier end to all life on this planet. So, it is no longer how much CO2 we're putting into the Earth's atmosphere via the combustion of fossil fuels. It is also about the state of the ozone layer that protects all living things from deadly ultraviolet solar radiation. The state (amount, thickness) of the ozone layer is indirectly controlled through the CO2 content of the Earth's atmosphere of course. All that Chlorine that came mostly from CFCs in aerosols and air conditioners (like in your car) is still up in the Earth's atmosphere....and it is still feasting on the ozone layer....long after CFCs were banned. It is time to stop contributing to this ever-obvious lethal process. Continued Ozone depletion and Climate Change are both effects of Anthropogenic Global Warming. We need to stop feeding the beast or face self-extinction.

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Response to kpete (Original post)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 02:56 PM

21. Too bad it's about 30 years too late to make a difference

We've already passed the point of no return with regard to climate change. Globally the amount of fossil fuels we burn increases every year DESPITE increased solar and wind build-out, and CO2 is already at 400 ppm and climbing. The Arctic ice cap is on track to melt away completely in the summer months within 5 years! We're on track to BEAT the IPCC's worst-case scenario for global warming.

Maybe if we're smart we'll build a few truly self-sufficient cities and communities in the Arctic Circle (which will be the new temperate zone in less than 100 years) using wind, solar, and geothermal, and a few million of our descendants will survive the catastrophe we've unleashed without being thrown back to the Stone Age.

One can dream.

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Response to kpete (Original post)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 04:07 PM

25. DID YOU KNOW????

On a clear day.. A estimated 1kiloatt of power is generated on the earth's surface per square meter.. Thats over 100watts per square foot..

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Response to kpete (Original post)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 05:12 PM

30. Sunpower

The safest form of energy, solar and wind. We must get off fossil fuels for our planet to thrive.

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Response to kpete (Original post)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 06:36 PM

32. This is awesome news.

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Response to kpete (Original post)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 07:46 PM

33. Renewables are not a small portion of our power supply at almost 12%

They account for 11.87% of summer time base load with hydroelectric making up 8.17% according to 2008 summer figures.

That's better than 1/9th and not much less than 1 in 8.

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Response to Sirveri (Reply #33)

Wed Aug 1, 2012, 11:13 AM

40. 12% of 14% is still is only 1.68%

 

Remember electricity production uses less then 14% of ALL energy used in the US, less then 12% of that 14% is from renewables (the 11.87% you cite I rounded up to 12%). The problem is not only the 88% of electrical power produced from renewables, but 86% of non-newables energy uised in the US each year. When we restrict ourselves to electrical generation we are talking about less then 1% of ALL ENERGY used in the US being from renewables. To replace non-renewables with renewables will require an increase of over 100 times what we are producing in renewables today.

Just a comment on what is needed and that we must understand the numbers we are using. 11.87% is NOT a percentage of all energy used in the US, but the percentage used to produced electricity. The real problem is the other 98-99% of energy used in the US. Thus the maximum energy that could be produced by Solar (something that will NEVER occur for various reasons, such as food production) would equal the total energy what we as a nation are using today.

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Response to kpete (Original post)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 11:50 PM

36. awesome we can stop the fracking now right?

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