### 2010 Solar power, Wind Power and the end of the oil age

As we all wait to see who Obama will pick for VP I thought it would be good to talk about something different.

So here are my thoughts on solar power.

How solar can help balance the trade deficit

It is not my intention to use the following to back any particular company but rather to show how the US may escape imported oil via electric cars and solar power.

Currently Tesla Motors has a car that delivers ~4.7 miles per KiloWatt-Hr (1)
A good MPG for a typical car today is worse on average than 30 MPG.
In many areas such as california, arizona, nevada etc there is a yearly average of 5+ hours good solar. (2)
Domestic home solar panels currently cost roughly \$8 dollars/Watt installed (3)

One barrel of oil nets 42 gallons of gas (4)

To replace 1 barrel of oil requires 42 gallons * 30 MPG / 4.7 miles per KiloWatt Hr = 268.1 kiloWatt - Hr

To reduce consumption of 1 barrel of oil per year would require 268.1 kiloWatt Hr divided by 365 days divided by 5 hours a day= 0.147 kWatts worth of solar panel at \$8 a watt or \$1176.

So one gallon per year reduction can be purchased for \$1176/42=\$28 this gives favorable return from a straight economic sense as gas is currently over \$4.5 a gallon in crude cost alone.

However the kicker is that the positive effect of the US trade yearly deficit is roughly \$0.09 for every dollar invested in reducing foreign oil. (5)

The initial cost of a plan to totally remove car gas usage could project as high as 8.5848 Trillion to completely remove 20 million barrels of foreign oil a day. However 10% of oil consumption could be reduced for 800 billion which is 200 billion a year. At the end of a 4 year term this would account for a \$72 billion reduction in the trade deficit and would likely reduce oil prices which would further reduce the trade deficit.

(1)http://www.teslamotors.com/efficiency/we ll_to_wheel.php There are 3.6 MJ per KiloWatt-Hr and 0.6 Miles per km so 2.19 km MJ *0.6 mi/km *3.6 MJ/KiloWatt-Hr=~4.7 miles per kiloWatt Hr.

(2) http://www.americanenergyindependence.co m/solarenergy.html

(3) http://www.smartmoney.com/greenscene/ind ex.cfm?story=20070925 This link quotes it needs to go down a factor of 2 to \$3 installed I use \$8 to be conservative.

(5) This is based on \$120 a barrel oil and \$1176 to replace 1 barrel a year

Solar Global Cooling

Did you know Solar photovoltaic cool the environment?
Did you know \$109 Billion of solar cells would cool LA 5 degrees without using any of the solar powered electricity for cooling?

Too good to be true?

Every Watt of photovoltaic solar power converts radiationinto electricity, electricity that would have otherwise turned into heat. So a 1 m^2 solar panel \$900 installed generates electricity (that can be used to run your electric car) but it ALSO cools the environment.

The city of Los Angeles is 1215.9 km^2. If solar panels were put over 10% of LA that were 10% efficient (they convert 10% of the solar power to electric power) then 1% of the suns radiation hitting LA would be converted from heat into electricity.

So how much cooler is that?

LA often gets above 86 degrees F which is about 30 degrees C or 303 degrees Kelivin. Radiant heat from the sun is what makes the earth warmer than the 2-3 Kelvin that outer space is (thermal heat from the center of the earth adds a very small amount of heat but the sun provides the VAST majority of heat to the earth surface). So the earth is 300 Kelvin hotter than outer space because of the 100% of the suns radiation, if only 99% of the suns radiation hit the earth then it would be 1% cooler or 3 degrees Kelvin which is 3 degrees C or 5.4 degrees F.

How much would that cost? A solar panel is roughly \$450/m^2 retail and \$900/m^2 installed if you buy it from home depot or other retail photovoltaic solar seller. To cover 10% of LA CITY would cost 109 Billion, but that electricity could be used to power electric cars and replace foreign oil and so would pay for itself. The cooling effect is FREE.

For the purpose of Air conditioning the difference between 70 degree F building and 86 degree F air is 16 degrees while the difference between 70 degree building and 81 degree air is 11 degrees this is a 31% reduction in the heat needing to be pumped out of buildings. Using 100 F this drops to a still impressive 16.6%. So the solar LA should expect to spend a full 16.6-31% less energy in cooling during summer if the air itself were cooled 5 degrees F.

In practice 15% solar cells are likely to be available and localized hot spots can have their temperature reduced without any surrounding heat entering (due to the hot spot still being as hot even after cooling 5 degrees F).   Otherwise the surrounding area would just blow hot wind into LA and the cooling although real would be spread out over a larger area and thus smaller in degrees.

Also please note that nanosolar is claiming \$1 per watt solar cells while all my numbers are based on \$4 per watt and \$4 per watt in installation. In practice a large buy would be cheaper and if 15% cells were used a 8.1 degree reduction in temp could be realized.

http://alternativeenergy-news.blogspot.c om/2007/12/nanosolars-1-per-watt-solar-p anels.html

PS I simplified the equations and radiated heat isn't linear with temp its 3rd order but this only accounts for a ~2% deviation 99%-99%^3=2% which is made up by using 12% efficient panels and I didn't take the heat savings from the Air Conditioners that don't need to run which also heat the environment.

How Solar can exceed 100% efficient without violating the 3rd law of thermo dynamics

>100% power utilization is possible for solar thermal because it can displace inefficient energy 100%-x with efficient energy ~100% yielding a net savings of 100%(100%-x%)>100%.

One limit to solar power is that the extraction of useful work from solar tends to be below 50% of the available energy. Commercial photovoltaic cells are usually below 15%. Even solar thermal steam or equivalent is limited by the carnot cycle maximum efficiency making 40-80% efficiency practical depending on the lengths taken in engineering and the temperatures used, this complicates the design as the total power is then limited by the energy stored and transmitted in the steam or steam substitute and its ability to cool.

The exception to this is when solar thermal is used to produce heat in an application where a rival energy source would also be used to produce heat. In this case every kJ of solar heat can offset a kJ of captured HEAT from a rival source often that kJ was created at the expense of more than 1 kJ of rival fuel, in this way water heaters can capture much more energy than solar cells for the same area exposed to equivalent solar radiation.

This trend has the potential to be perhaps most practical in generating electricity in the production of aluminum. Aluminum production requires a lot of electrical power input that is basically used to rupture chemical bonds that could be ruptured with heat. It is estimated that 10% of commercial electricity is used to generate aluminum. It is possible that a method for using solar heat to replace this electrical heat could produce more than 100% utilization of solar and possibly therefore be much more economically viable.

So while 5 square meters of solar cells at 20% efficiency are required to produce ~1kW of electrical power or alternately 1.2-2 kW of coal power is required to create and distribute the same 1kW it may be possible to use a mere 1 square meter of solar thermal in the production of aluminum to replace either the 5 square meters of photovoltaic solar or the 1.2-2 kW of coal energy needed to create 1 kW of usable electrical energy thus yielding a useful replacement energy for that square meter of between 120% to 500% of the actual energy that hits the square meter.

Wind power on the cheap

Anyone living in a windy area should follow this link for instructions on how to build your own windmill CHEAP

http://www.instructables.com/id/EAC0PU34 9IEP287OH1/

Wind is the cheapest non nuke form of renewable power and is cheaper than using grid power for many people.

The system described would pay for itself in less than 2 years in a sufficiently windy area.

2010 is the year of the plug in hybrid and the hydrogen car

Plug in hybrid Chevy Volt will be sold in 2010
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chevrolet_V olt

Plug in hybrid Mitsubishi Colt EV
http://electricandhybridcars.com/index.p hp/pages/mitsubishicoltev.html

Honda Hydrogen car
http://green.yahoo.com/news/ap/20080616/ ap_on_bi_ge/japan_honda.html

GM hydrogen car
http://www.hybridcarnews.org/entry/gener al-motors-anticipating-new-hydrogen-car- by-2010

Ford Hydrogen car
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Edge

Tags: electric, hydrogen, solar, wind (all tags)

##### Thanks for a very informative diary

I have a couple of questions:

1.  Do you know where the technology stands on putting solar panels on car tops?  I drive a Prius back and forth to work.  It seems to me, that if I had solar panels on the roof of my car and I park in the sun, I could greatly reduce my use of gas.

2.  Do you know where we stand on hybrid mopeds?  Honda had a demo version, but as far as I can tell, they never went to production.  What's up with that?

3.  Do you know where Nanosolar is in terms of delivering on its promise of solar priced competitive with coal?

Also, I have one comment.  Your calculations concerning the impact on the trade deficit all assume that the solar panels will be produced in the United States.  However, if they are produced in China ...

by dbrown04 2008-06-22 04:25AM | 0 recs
##### Re: Thanks for a very informative diary

If you had 10 times more efficient panels (which wont happen, since current efficiencies are 13%or so), and if cars were 10 times lighter (which also wont happen), then you could drive back and forth from work everyday, and leave your car parked outside... for a full charge.

With current economies, it makes more sense to put solar panels on rooftops than on cartops...and that wont change for quite sometime

by SevenStrings 2008-06-22 06:16AM | 0 recs
##### it's difficult to give an estimate

on nano cells, they're close but they've been close for some time.

That said there's another equally promising method being investigated that could double the electrical converision efficencies.

The method involves using quantum dots with metals to 'adjust' the  optimal wavelength absorption to fit that more closely of our sun.

by drache 2008-06-22 06:31AM | 0 recs
##### Re: it's difficult to give an estimate

are you using a plasmon resonance ?

by SevenStrings 2008-06-22 06:31AM | 0 recs
##### Re: it's difficult to give an estimate

I honestly don't know, it's not my research (I'm actually doing solid state computational physics research) but I know one of the professors in my department is investigating the use of quantum dots in all sorts of applications including solar cells.

by drache 2008-06-22 09:52AM | 0 recs
##### Re: it's difficult to give an estimate

They have mini antena that capture the radio waves (expect they are higher frequency and thus light waves but its the same concept just smaller antena) but they haven't build the electronics to harness it yet.

by dtaylor2 2008-06-22 11:32AM | 0 recs
##### Re: 2010 Solar power, Wind Power and the end of th

You write:

"Solar Global Cooling

Did you know Solar photovoltaic cool the environment?
Did you know \$109 Billion of solar cells would cool LA 5 degrees without using any of the solar powered electricity for cooling?

Too good to be true?

Every Watt of photovoltaic solar power converts radiationinto electricity, electricity that would have otherwise turned into heat. So a 1 m^2 solar panel \$900 installed generates electricity (that can be used to run your electric car) but it ALSO cools the environment."

Yes, it's too good to be true.  When the stored energy is used to drive the car, it gets turned back into heat.  Your moved the energy around, but it turned to heat.  Indeed, if the solar cells reflect less sunlight than a nice whitewashed roof, you are making the city warmer.  And, yes, I am one of the people who used to--changed academic department since--teach thermodynamics to engineers.

by phillies 2008-06-22 05:27AM | 0 recs
##### Re: 2010 Solar power, Wind Power and the end of th

Consuming the solar energy by driving around does produce heat.  But that heat would have been produced and spent regardless.

So, by diverting the Sun's energy to the work you do (and the heat production), the total heat produced is 100 units (corresponding to the Sun's energy).  If you had not diverted the Sun's energy, the total heat production would have been 101 units(100 from the Sun, and the 1 unit of work you would have done regardless)

Thus, you have reduced the heat generation by 1%

If I accepted your rationale, I could also claim that it is pointless to plant trees because trees produce food, which gets eaten and then produces heat.

by SevenStrings 2008-06-22 06:14AM | 0 recs
##### Major Mojo for initating a thoughtful discussion

(hopefully)

I had a diary on this issue on Friday.

My major complaint is that progressives are not sufficiently supportive of renewable energy !!

by SevenStrings 2008-06-22 06:10AM | 0 recs
##### Re: 2010 Solar power, Wind Power and the end of th

renewable energy is wonderful and all but people need to look at ways to lower their ecological footprint with our current society being what it is.

businesses should limit the amount of materials that go into packaging for example. Pressure businesses that you're loyal to, to become more eco-friendly.

being a vegetarian has massive implications to saving resources. Massive.

walk or bike. Or take public transport if the other two options aren't available.

support green building techniques on all new buildings. You can implement renewable energy features at this stage. Green roofs, solar power and such. Expand tax rebates for those who install green technologies on their homes or whom purchase eco-friendlier cars.

by alex100 2008-06-22 06:46AM | 0 recs
##### Re: 2010 Solar power, Wind Power and the end of th

2007-2008 Solar Power and Wind Power

In the past year or two, I started investing in alternative energy companies. A handful have lost me some money, but by far I have made far more than I lost. One company tripled in price. I sold some to cover my investment and since then it has come down to only double the price I bought it at. Another solar company has also doubled. A wind company has  more than doubled. Another couple are up but not quite so high.

Among my investments, in 2005-2007 the only things that increased in value were foreign investments. Starting in 2007 alternative energy investments started making money. In 2008 my foreign investments went down a lot (though I'd already locked in my original investment so no big deal) but alternative energy really took off.

The time is now for alternative energy. My wife and I have rented hybrids, electric and biodiesel cars. Loved all three. (We don't own a car and rent when we go on vacation). We purchase our energy from all wind sources (at a slight monthly surcharge of like twenty-five cents a month, if I remember correctly...might be more). And I am making tons of money investing in alternative energy. Oil and coal are obsolete.

by mole333 2008-06-22 06:52AM | 0 recs