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Thread: Solar Thermal Power - power for the next century

  1. #1
    how do robot Supporting Member Arhetton's Avatar
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    Default Solar Thermal Power - power for the next century

    There is a major difference between photovoltaic power (a solar cell) and solar thermal power.

    Solar thermal power uses non sophisticated materials (glass lenses and mirrors) to focus light over a broad area onto a narrow area - and the thermal energy heats up a medium such as water or oil to a very high temperature - which is then used to convert a liquid into a gas and power a turbine.









    The energy from Nuclear fission, Nuclear reactors and Coal powered stations is all produced by heating water and generating electricity from turbines.

    Solar thermal is a viable solution to the worlds energy demands - there are enough raw materials to provide the infrastructure (there is enough raw material to make all of the mirrors, all of the plumbing, all of the turbines) - and the land required to do so is approximately less than 1% of the area in all of the worlds deserts (less than 1% of a fraction of the worlds land mass).



    This is in direct opposition to photovoltaic arrays - at the moment, PV cells are made out of expensive and rare materials and it cannot be scaled to a global level. If more abundant materials could be used (plastic pv cells or carbon nanotube pv cells) then photovoltaics would be a more attractive option.

    Solar thermal power has been operating for years in california, where the largest solar power plant in the world provides up to 200,000 homes with electricity.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_thermal

    in 2011, the current ongoing construction of the worlds largest solar power network will be completed in California, a facility that generates almost 560 Megawatts of power - using up 9 square miles of land (23 square kilometres)

    For comparison, a nuclear power plant provides around 1,100 Megawatts of power.

    Almost all forms of energy in the world are stored solar energy. Wind and waves are created by temperature differences in water and air masses (and to a small [negligable] extent, gravitiation) - they are solar energy. Biofuels are fuels made from plants - they are another form of stored solar energy.

    The petrochemicals we use today are the stored solar energy that has accumulated for millions of years.

    The two exceptions are nuclear power - radioactive isotopes and the nuclear fusion reactors such as ITER. There isn't enough plutonium to provide nuclear power for the world, so radioactive isotopes are not a sustainable solution - however nuclear fusion from hydrogen, which is a current international scientific project - there is enough hydrogen in the world to provide power for thousands of years - energy in abundance, even if the whole world had the energy demands of the U.S - and there is enough hydrogen in our solar system (jupiters atmosphere) to provide power for probably millions of years.

    Successful Nuclear fusion will be a crowning achievement of humanity, until then, there is a very inexpensive, abundant and long term (for at least the next 100 years) solution to the worlds energy demands - and that is solar thermal power.

    There are already large scale succesful models in california and spain, and many other smaller projects around the world.


  2. #2
    Will she be set upon you? jubei33's Avatar
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    I like your pictures. whats going to happen in 100 years?

  3. #3
    how do robot Supporting Member Arhetton's Avatar
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    well, it is pretty logical to predict that energy and fossil fuel demand will increase as developing nations grow in consumption needs.

    There isn't actually enough known fossil fuel reserves to provide fuel for india and china - assuming more people become car owners in those countries (certainly not all, but even 250 million car owners in each country would be 500 million more cars, and the fuel consumption that goes with it each year).

    Coal reserves might last 150 years (because of course current electricity demand will increase)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coal#World_coal_reserves

    This isn't even considering the environmental impact of the different methods of producing energy.

    Most of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is eventually absorbed by the ocean and the effect of that is largely unknown - solar thermal technology is certainly more environmentally friendly than coal with no carbon emissions, and although there is some land usage there is no strip mining like there is for coal, so overall I think it is also a more environmentally friendly way of generating power.

    So basically, the underlying assumptions are that in the next 100 years

    1) fossil fuels reserves will dry up
    2) current world electricity demand will increase

    Heres a great video, its not about solar thermal, but it is about oil/energy needs and its very interesting.


    Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kMTCNOlozTA
    Last edited by Arhetton; 2nd April 08 at 04:12 AM.

  4. #4
    ad hominem is awesome elipson's Avatar
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    There is enough uranium to power the earth for a VERY long time.
    "Pranksters and LARPists write or call in threats. Guys like me claim responsibility.

    -SFGoon.

    "I can teach libs to love guns faster then I can teach cons to think, it seems."

    -JohnnyCache

  5. #5
    fuck you math class MEGA JESUS-SAMA's Avatar
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    how are we going to kill secret agents when we use up all the radioactive isotopes dumbass

  6. #6
    how do robot Supporting Member Arhetton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by epsilon
    There is enough uranium to power the earth for a VERY long time.
    Not the known reserves.

    if you want to bring up the huge quantities of uranium in the oceans I would like to point out that it is too diffuse to be of any practical use. If there was a way to literally funnel all of the worlds water system through some sort of extractor then fantastic , but the whole thing is just a nightmare. If someone could find a practical way to even extract 5 grams of uranium from the ocean - with a positive ROEI*, I would be impressed.

    * Return on Energy Investment

    The reality is that its just too difficult to go 'looking'(extracting) for all the uranium. Why would you bother looking for a few particles in a metre cubed sample of ocean water when more power is falling on the surface of that cubic sample than you would ever get out of the uranium in the sample?

  7. #7
    Senior Member Riddeck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by elipson
    There is enough uranium to power the earth for a VERY long time.
    Yep. We definately need more depleted Uranium to be used as weapons against other countries.

    Think of consequences much?
    Forty years I've been at sea. A war at sea. A war with no battles, no monuments... only casualties

    -<>-

  8. #8
    How do Chameleon Circuit? Supporting Member ironlurker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arhetton
    Not the known reserves.

    if you want to bring up the huge quantities of uranium in the oceans I would like to point out that it is too diffuse to be of any practical use. If there was a way to literally funnel all of the worlds water system through some sort of extractor then fantastic , but the whole thing is just a nightmare. If someone could find a practical way to even extract 5 grams of uranium from the ocean - with a positive ROEI*, I would be impressed.
    This has been a classic scam for some time, with con men getting investors to spend on top seekrut means of extracting gold/uranium and so on from sea water.

  9. #9
    ad hominem is awesome elipson's Avatar
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    Was just pointing it out because the article stated something to the opposite. I'm not really suggesting its a good option, but it is an option.
    "Pranksters and LARPists write or call in threats. Guys like me claim responsibility.

    -SFGoon.

    "I can teach libs to love guns faster then I can teach cons to think, it seems."

    -JohnnyCache

  10. #10
    Registered Member HappyOldGuy's Avatar
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    You don't need to extract from sea water. You just need to reprocess and use breeders. Yeah, so much for nuclear non-proliferation, but omelettes, eggs and tasty breakfasts and all that jazz.

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