Saturday, September 24, 2011

big pie in the big sky by-and-by...,

IEEE | We don’t need nuclear power, coal, or biofuels. We can get 100 percent of our energy from wind, water, and solar (WWS) power. And we can do it today—efficiently, reliably, safely, sustainably, and economically.

We can get to this WWS world by simply building a lot of new systems for the production, transmission, and use of energy. One scenario that Stanford engineering professor Mark Jacobson and I developed, projecting to 2030, includes:

  • 3.8 million wind turbines, 5 megawatts each, supplying 50 percent of the projected total global power demand
  • 49 000 solar thermal power plants, 300 MW each, supplying 20 percent
  • 40 000 solar photovoltaic (PV) power plants supplying 14 percent
  • 1.7 billion rooftop PV systems, 3 kilowatts each, supplying 6 percent
  • 5350 geothermal power plants, 100 MW each, supplying 4 percent
  • 900 hydroelectric power plants, 1300 MW each, of which 70 percent are already in place, supplying 4 percent
  • 720 000 ocean-wave devices, 0.75 MW each, supplying 1 percent
  • 490 000 tidal turbines, 1 MW each, supplying 1 percent.
We also need to greatly expand the transmission infrastructure in order to create the large supergrids that will span many regions and often several countries and even continents. And we need to expand production of battery-electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, ships that run on hydrogen fuel cell and battery combinations, liquefied hydrogen aircraft, air- and ground-source heat pumps, electric resistance heating, and hydrogen for high-temperature processes.

To make a WWS world work, we also need to reduce demand. Reducing demand by improving the efficiency of devices that use power, or substituting low-energy activities and technologies for high-energy ones—for example, telecommuting instead of driving—directly reduces the pressure to produce energy.

Because a massive deployment of WWS technologies requires an upgraded and expanded transmission grid and the smart integration of the grid with battery-electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles—using both types of these vehicles for distributed electricity storage—governments need to carefully fund, plan, and manage a long-term, large-scale restructuring of the electricity transmission and distribution system. In much of the world, we’ll need international cooperation in planning and building supergrids that span across multiple countries, because many individual countries just aren’t big enough to permit enough geographic dispersion of generators to mitigate local variability in wind and solar intensity. The Desertec project proposes a supergrid to link Europe and North Africa, and 10 northern European countries are beginning to plan a North Sea supergrid for offshore wind power. Africa, Asia and Southeast Asia, Australia/Tasmania, China, the Middle East, North America, South America, and Russia will need supergrids as well.

Although this is an enormous undertaking, it does not need to be done overnight, and there are plenty of examples in recent history of successful large-scale infrastructure, industrial, and engineering projects. Fist tap Arnach.


Dale Asberry said...

I'm betting on wood gasification and a sustainably managed carbon farm. It will mean living on significantly less energy.

arnach said...

Interesting label, CNu, but perhaps you should review your the basis of your implied conclusion for errors.  The "smart grid" part of that plan is the key, and where better than here to develop it?  Then sell it to China et al. for immense profit, because they're going to need it too.

CNu said...


The smart grid's not going to happen. 
Those windmills are not going to happen.
Those photovoltaics are not going to happen.

There's a quicker, surer profit to be had from disaster capitalism on an unprecedented scale (WW-III). And even if somehow or another that technocratic panacea could be forced into existence from the top-down (which it cannot) there's always the problem of Jevon's Paradox waiting on the other side to ensure that no good innovation goes unpunished.

The music's over and IEEE old gnurds gonna have to suffer just like the unwashed masses who've forgotten how to take care of and provide for their own incompetent asses....,

Dale Asberry said...

The only thing that's gonna happen is what you'n'yourn do in the next few years. It must be something that you can make and repair on your own without modern manufacturing and the energy inputs must be sustainable. If you start too late you'll be in the scavenging lottery.

nanakwame said...

Mad Max - I presume?

The climate changes are quite apparent now. Saw a squirrel in my backyard and wrote this.

Gray white tailing
Clouds fill sky with gray
Ocean in the sky

Remembering living near tropical climates, the weather in NY is sticky for we can't get the breeze of the ocean. Plus we have sporadic  rains, and this is Fall. We probably going to get a nasty snow storm, short but furious, more than once. I take it though

Uglyblackjohn said...

Damn... Not just it's oil but Europe even plans to take advantage of Africa's sunlight as well?
A (smart) supergrid using today's sources of energy would be a vast improvement by itself.