Solar Energy

2003-6-9 02:41:00

Someone wrote:
A couple of months ago, JJ referred us to his prior articles about alternative energy sources. I agree with his views on atomic energy, but I just heard a contrary viewpoint on solar energy.

I just got through watching a show on HGTV about how solar energy works, and the scientist they quoted said that they were making rapid advances in solar energy and that that if we had a solar collection plate in Nevada just 10 miles square, it would generate enough electricity for the entire US.

I don't have the background to agree or disagree with this statement, but I know that solar energy is showing up in more and more places: calculators, traffic lights, freeway rest areas, and those little yard lights.

The problem is that you cannot get any more solar energy from the sun than is there to give.

If we could convert 100% of the sun's energy into electricity, a square foot of land at the equator would supply enough energy to light a 125 watt light bulb. But then if we take the night time the variable weather into consideration we would only have enough for a 22 watt bulb. The big problem is that we can only convert about 10% of this into energy so this reduces the power to 2.2 watts. Finally if we move our solar collector to a more probable location in the United States the power is reduced to less than one watt.

At this rate it would take over 25,000 square miles of land to supply the energy needs of the nation. Actually it would take more than this figuring the energy loss in transporting the electricity over long distances. (These figures are also old and our energy needs are greater now) Now if we did the impossible and converted 100% of the sun's rays to energy it would still take 2500 square miles of land. Where the guy got the 10 square mile figure is a mystery to me.

The Architect: Hello Neo. Neo: Who are you?
The Architect: I am the Architect. I created the Matrix. I have been waiting for you. You have many questions and although the process has altered your consciousness you remain irrevocably human, ergo some of my answers you will understand and some of them you will not. Concordantly, while your first question may be the most pertinent you may or may not realize it is also the most irrelevant. --Matrix Reloaded