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Old 07-17-2019, 04:32 PM   #1 (permalink)
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What Would It Take To Go 100% Solar?

Feel free to prove or disprove this guy's numbers.

Our population is only 324,000,000.

Only?

Isn't that the third-largest in the world? Sure, a quarter of #1 and #2, but still three hundred and twenty-four million people!

India has a billion people more than the U.S., but uses less than half of the electricity.

Ah yes, the Indian utopia, where everyone cooks with solar ovens and has r100 insulation!

I went to see how many homes even have electricity and this popped up first: 70% of India does not have access to toilets.

Supposedly all 600,000 villages in India have electricity, but those are villages, not necessarily every home in each village. "World Bank figures show around 200 million people in India still lack access to electricity."

India is not a good example.

They claim that all of Iceland's energy is renewable, except for cars, which are difficult to electrify.

[Tesla has entered the chat]

We could use geothermal in the U.S., but it would destroy river ecosystems and intrude on national parks.

If we say the U.S. uses 1.21 4,000,000 gigawatts and 3 acres per gigawatt-hour, we would need about 12,000,000 acres of land, but the U.S. is 2,400,000,000 acres, so we would need 0.5% of the land area of the U.S., or the space of Vermont and New Hampshire combined.

The detail that got my attention is "According to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, over 25 million acres of land in the U.S. alone are leased by oil and gas companies, over twice the area solar would require, while only providing 66% of our energy demand.

If we keep producing oil to sell to finance solar installation [wait, what?!], "Every year the U.S. Federal government offers up leases on federal land to oil and gas companies in the form of auctions. In 2017, the amount of land offered up reached nearly 12 million acres, but less than 800,000 acres received bids, so over 11,000,000 acres are still available, that the government already owns, but is not using.

In the U.S., over 21 million acres are used to grow corn with the specific purpose of converting it into ethanol to be used as a gasoline substitute. In fact, corn grown for ethanol production is actually the second-largest use of corn in the country [...] and accounts for 27% of all the corn we grow."

They say the southwest would be the ideal location to build solar farms, because the south receives the most sun, the west receives less precipitation, and the government owns far more land in the west than the east.

They estimate that it would cost $24 trillion dollars, while the U.S. GDP is $19 trillion. This would cost ten times as much as the war in Iraq.

Immediate problems:
  1. We would need to run electrical cables from New Mexico to New England?!
  2. Batteries are still cost-prohibitive.

What else?

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Old 07-17-2019, 05:27 PM   #2 (permalink)
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The land may not receive a bid because it may not have oil or be economical to extract oil from, it may be too difficult to get to, the terrain may suck, there may not be any roads, no accessible electricity, it may be too far away from the market.
Some of it may be in Alaska, which means it's useless for solar at least several months of the year. Some of those other factors effect solar farms such as no truck access or no near by power lines.

A good rebuildable energy site needs to have a few things.
Most importantly an abundance of the free energy desired, solar, wind, geothermal, hydroelectric. It needs to be big truck accessible, concrete truck accessible, there needs to be a market or transmission line tie in near by and the land needs to be obtainable by purchasing or lease. Same goes for the power lines.
If a hundred miles of power lines need to be built the budget for the power lines starts to be the bulk of the cost.
The longer the power line, the bigger the farm the more nimby useful idiots get activated.
Another problem is if the area is too far away for a concrete truck to get to that will at least quadruple your concrete bill.
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Old 07-17-2019, 06:10 PM   #3 (permalink)
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New York State just passed a bill to make it carbon free or some such thing by 2050. I won't live to see it and am quite skeptical knowing the parties involved. We currently have major hydroelectric facilities in Niagara Falls and Massena. A few nuclear plants are still in operation. We produce natural gas and have wind farms. The electrical grid is barely adequate now with exceptional demand causing failures. We have snow cover from November to April. Corning Inc. uses large amounts of natural gas to produce glass and the substrates for catalytic converters. Solar farms are starting up in rural communities for residential use. We have forests and agriculture that absorbs carbon dioxide. The fundamental question is what if anything will make a measurable difference or is this simply a political exercise to wrest control of the economy.
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Old 07-18-2019, 12:33 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
What else?
Reduce demand.

Roll-to-roll plastic foil photovoltaics.

Solar arrays on reservoirs of water to reduce evaporation.

Carbon-negative concrete.

Bio-char everywhere and all the time.
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Old 07-21-2019, 04:41 PM   #5 (permalink)
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The obvious problem is that you need some way to store the electricity at night, or during cloudy periods.
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Old 07-21-2019, 06:38 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jamesqf View Post
The obvious problem is that you need some way to store the electricity at night, or during cloudy periods.
The main design flaw.
Right now there is barely enough battery materials to produce a few percent of new cars as electric. Hyundai had to halt production on their electric vehicles this summer because they ran out of batteries.
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Old 07-21-2019, 07:00 PM   #7 (permalink)
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People keep saying things like "batteries have three times the capacity for one-third the price compared to three years ago."

It still seems like we are still pretty far from where we need to be.
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Old 07-21-2019, 07:44 PM   #8 (permalink)
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The main design flaw.
I'd call it a constraint rather than a flaw.
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Old 07-21-2019, 08:26 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Then the plan to get all electrical power from them is flawed.
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Old 07-21-2019, 11:20 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Then the plan to get all electrical power from them is flawed.
I've no doubt the plan is flawed.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Grant-53
New York State just passed a bill to make it carbon free or some such thing by 2050. .... The fundamental question is what if anything will make a measurable difference or is this simply a political exercise to wrest control of the economy.
I simply believe that the design constraint of converting and deconverting power to some form of storage is not it.

Politics is downstream from culture. The solution will come from science and engineering rather than political fiat.

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