Just for fun.
The Copper Mountain Solar Facility is the largest solar-plant in the US. It is estimated that it will produce 100 GWh/year(0.1 TWh/year).
To replace all of the energy usage in the US with similar plants, 290,000 similar plants would need to be built.
They would occupy half of Tennessee, and cost $40 trillion.
Simple answer - get the Chinese to make it for you and supply the panels, they would do the same job for a fraction of the money that a US government funded private enterprise would suck out of the system through corruption and over-runs.
But then it breaks down in the first half hour, and poisons everyone for a 50 mile radius with lead and other heavy metals.
Plus, we would forever be fighting the copyright violation lawsuits.
You forgot enough batteries to fill Texas wall to wall for night use.
Solar towers like this provide good capacity and this one is expected to pay for itself in 7 years including maintenance it produces 23.5 GW-h yearly. Solar is not going to be the only power source of the future but it is already viable and it can certainly take large percentages especially in high sun areas that the US has quite a few of. There is no reason to not have many more of these and fewer coal and natural gas options. Then of course we have wind, hydro and in m view what should be the power of the next hundred years which is nuclear.
The truth is those technologies can replace the ones we use now, the obstacle is the political capital the affected industries wield and the poor general understanding of nuclear energy.
Replicating that tower, we would need 1.2 million of them. $55 trillion and 270,000 square miles. That's slightly more than all the land in Texas.
As noted it does not have to be the only source but it is a commercially viable one so there is no reason it can't go ahead, land area is not really an obstacle to that.
Right, as I said this was just me looking at figures.
It does become apparent that the power generated per $ and per square foot really isn't up to par with other sources yet.
This is the case for most renewable energy sources - BUT the reason they should be built and operated is that without this element there will be no development.
Who would have thought twenty years ago that a single tiny battery would be able to power a radio telephone for three days ? !
An with you. Solar is the most efficient, cost effective, cleanest form of energy. It is unlimited!
Every state could build a solar-plantation, at a fraction of the import cost on oil alone, providing 100% clean energy to its citizens, while taking up very little space. A few hundred square miles is very minute, even in Delaware and Rhode Island. And because they are smaller states, actually require smaller facilities. Between solar and wind farming, there would be such a surplus of energy, the states could sell it to other countries. The obvious elephant is jobs/labor force, which would drastically be reduced by abandoning coal, natural gas, petrol --and especially bio-fuels from agriculture.
No more power lines obstructing views, causing electrical interference or downed by storms. Massive reduction is negative energy, yada yada.
Solar is definitely the way to go!
No, not a "solar plantation". Centralized power sources are wasteful and vulnerable. Modular . . . think modular.
A few objections:
Most efficient how? Certainly not per $ spent, or by looking at watts/sq. foot. How is it efficient?
Cost effective how? As noted, $/watt is quite high. Additionally, have you factored in the cost of backup power for nights, cloudy and stormy days, etc.?
Clean - have you considered the pollution cost of building the facility, along with backup power facilities?
All of these make a difference, but proponents seldom want to talk about them.
Objection overruled! hehe
Actually, it is hugely cost effective given the price to set up drilling, to drill, manpower, environmental impact funding, transport, refining, delivery, cleanup, backup, etc.
Efficient because it reduces the aforementioned, as well as carbon emissions and other pollutants in homes. As said, electricity is actually a very powerful pollutant, and power lines an obstruction. Weather plays little factor in solar, actually, unless there was a severe "dark" period.
Funny thing, this last week, when Sandy hit, all the electrical power was gone. (friends of mine just got power 3 days ago!). Whole Foods, which is completely solar run, was powered up and open. Thousands of people were able to get water, food -hot & cold, warmth, etc.
Solar makes sense, my friend.
Nice to see you, Jaxson.
I don't think there is anyone who advocates a completely solar USA.
A mix of clean energy sources is best.
I'm not saying anything either way, I was just curious what the cost and land-usage would be.
I think the real future is fusion(not fission, lol)... so excited about the gains that have been made in that field recently. Probably not for another 50 years or so, but we'll probably get to the point where we can safely and cleanly power the entire world at incredibly low prices.
Solar has made great gains... I think now a home-system with a 25-year lifetime can generate as much energy as went into making it within 5 years, and pay itself off by the 20th year. It wasn't that long ago that a panel could never even pay off all the energy that went into making it.
Sooner or later an invention is going to come along that solves this problem.
Solar panels hooked up to cold fusion generators supplied by seawater comes to mind...
I wonder what darkening half of Tennessee would to weather patterns everywhere East of the Rocky mountains?
Well, that's embarrassing.
My original post, I was wrong. It wouldn't take up half the land in Tennessee. It would take up all of Tennessee 5 times over, or 75% of Texas.
Sorry. I didn't carry my 1
Solar, wind and other non-fossil fuels are coming of age. However, we need to grow past the ancient concept of a centralized power grid and go modular.
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