Solar pessimism

Lots of advances have been made in solar energy, as we’ve reported recently.  But solar energy may not be all dandelions and sunflowers, and there are worries not just about efficiency.  Simple production capacity dictates that even if we wanted to, we couldn’t produce nearly enough to meet our current energy needs.  A post by scienceblogger James Hrynyshyn over at the aptly named The Island of Doubt has some more information of solar pessimism.

Just like at that business seminar you attended, constructive criticism is best.  These add a dose of realism and keep us from wondering in five years why we’re still being told we’re just around the corner from a breakthrough.  As Mr. Hrynyshyn said, "Don’t get discouraged guys. Just keep plugging away…."

(image from Rob!)

3 thoughts on “Solar pessimism”

  1. The solar industry is in its nascent stage right now…As new materials and methods of solar energy production are found, we will have more choices. Any companies developing those niche technologies will be prime for industry consolidation: “Solar Energy Consolidation Outlook”.

    I comment regularly on the business/investor side of alternative energy on Energy Spin: Alternative Energy Blog for Investors-Served Daily
    Francesco DeParis

  2. A lot of the solar-heavy regions – The Sahara and the Sahel, California and New Mexico and other places – could be used as giant solar ‘sinks’ out in the desert where not much is. You’d still have to pipe the electricity (or produced hydrogen) out to inhabited zones but it would provide the equivalent of modern power plants.

    I think Solar and Wind advancements are ultimately entwined with advancements in storage mechanisms such as hydrogen – if we can store the energy efficiently and indefinitely, it doesn’t matter that the output is inconsistent. You can also then start storing the excess margin made by power stations for emergencies.

  3. Hi Francesco, thanks for the input. I’ll check out Energy Spin tonight.

    Since solar energy is a new field, in addition to new technology, we have to come up with new ways of looking at how to measure the effectiveness and capacity to produce energy. We can’t really trade a barrel of sunshine on the market or pipe it from Arizona to the East Coast.

    What would be nice is to have a storage system that would last a long time without needing to have energy expended to maintain it, such as having to keep liquid hydrogen cooled and under pressure. Whoever comes up with this storage technology is gonna make millions.

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