We know the technologies that could lead the USA to fossil fuels independence. These technologies are (1)wind, (2)bio energy, (3)geothermal, and (4)solar energies. We collectively need the resolve to adopt and execute a roadmap to use these technologies and install renewable energy electrical generation plants. This resolve has to start with our politicians to adopt and fund a bold plan to free ourselves of fossil fuels.
If left unchecked heat trapping emission such as carbon dioxide, CO2, are projected to cause dangerous global warming that threatens our health and environment. Increased energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy would provide a roadmap to reduce fossil fuel demand, thereby reducing CO2 emissions from the largest US source: Electrical Power Plants. Reducing and eventually eliminating fossil fuels for our electrical power generation would make America's energy supply more reliable and secure. The use of renewable energies could free our citizens from the chains of increasing oil and natural gas prices.
The use of renewable fuels could actually put dollars back into the pockets of consumers. Just as importantly, we could reverse the pollution of our atmosphere and provide a brighter future for our heirs. Of the four renewable energy technologies, solar has the greatest potential to universally replace fossil fuels. The energy in sunlight striking the earth for 40 minutes is equivalent to global energy consumption for a year. The U.S.
is endowed with a vast resource of at least 250,000 square miles of land in the Southwest alone that would be suitable for constructing solar power plants. That land receives more than 4,500 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) of solar energy a year. Converting only 2.5 percent of that radiation into electricity would match the nation's total energy consumption in 2006.The Southwest is used as an example and one could also think of land holdings in the south to accomplish the same mission. There have been great strides in the past several years in the development of materials for solar energy photovoltaic cells and modules.
The modules account for 65% of the cost of a solar installation. Current developments project that thin films made of cadmium telluride or copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGN) will be the least expensive materials for solar modules. To provide electricity at six cents per killo-Watt-hour (kWh) , thin film modules would have to convert electricity with 14 percent efficiency, and system would have to be installed at $1.20 per watt of capacity.
On January 28, 2008 Global Solar Energy Inc. (CSE) claims to have achieved 10 percent efficiency for copper indium gallium diselenide on a flexible, lightweight substrate over several production runs. The company is demonstrating its confidence in this development by expanding its production with a new plant in Tucson in addition to a new plant in Berlin which is slated for production in mid-2008. Scientists express confidence that continued developments in the next several years will achieve the 14% conversion efficiency.
Cadmium telluride cells at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory are now up to 16.5% and rising. Today, the lowest thin-film module price is at $3.
66 per watt from a European retailer. With the rapid development and increasing installed manufacturing capacity one can readily project the $1.20 per watt capacity with 14 % efficiency by 2015. These milestones would yield six cents per kWh. As comparison commercial electricity generated by fossil fuels today is nine cents, and rising, per kWh . We can realize major savings to the consumer and reduction in environmental pollution with the projected solar energy plants.
There are other major intra structure projects to complete in order to utilize the solar farm. The generated energy would have to be stored to provide electricity 24 hours a day. Molten salt storage could store the solar energy and generate steam to drive a turbine for the hours of non sun generation. The first plant using this technology is being built is Spain. To transmit the power for the solar farm we would need to build new high-voltage direct current transmission to replace our AC current grid.
This will be necessary for any future grid to provide a more reliable, robust transmission of power. This replacement will have to be done in the future or we will be subject to shortage of power like California. has experienced.
The good news is that DC grids are cheaper to build. To build the solar farm the federal government would have to invest more than $400 billion over the next 40 years to complete the installation. It is a substantial investment but our return on investment is greater. The plan would save billions of dollars in fuels each year.
Six hundred coal and natural gas power plants could be replace eliminating the pollution that they produce. The solar farm described above can technically be built. It will require a lot of money and strong leadership to start and complete. At the project completion we would have cheaper electricity and reduce our pollution for future generation. When it is possible please write or speak to your political representative to campaign solar energy electrical generation for a brighter tomorrow.
I have a BS and MS in Metallurgical Engineering. Thirty six years spent in the development of semiconductors. Business experience in start up business plan. Currently, an oyster farmer and interested in helping the environment by deploying solar energy. Visit my Blog, http://environmentalhelp.typepad.com/ for continued information on renewable energy