On 13 November 2013 22:06, Telmo Menezes <te...@telmomenezes.com> wrote:

> On Wed, Nov 13, 2013 at 12:49 AM, LizR <lizj...@gmail.com> wrote:
> > On 13 November 2013 10:55, <spudboy...@aol.com> wrote:
> >>
> >> if you want us to give up the bad, dirty, power, then please provide a
> >> clean, affordable, abundant substitute. Faster, please.
> >
> >
> > The Sun, of course. Produces millions of times more power than we need.
> >
> > Trouble is the fossil fuel industry doesn't want us to use it. Given the
> > sort of effort ut into that that has been put into the "space race" or
> > warfare we'd have this sorted by next week.
> I have no doubt that the fossil fuel industry will try to prevent
> this. I also agree that the effort put into wars is a horrible misuse
> of human potential and that great things could be achieved instead.
> Regarding solar power -- this could be the solution but it's sci-fi at
> the moment. It's intuitive to look at solar panels and imagine fossil
> fuels being replaced by this. It's less intuitive to visualise the
> scale of the problem and the limitations of current technology. We
> have a world population of about 7 billion now. It has doubled since I
> was born, in 1976. It continues to grow at more than 1% a year and
> this is an important part of the equation. Ultimately, the world's
> energy budget is mostly spent on providing basic necessities to all of
> these people. Food, heating, health care, schools and so on. I'm not
> arguing that the resources are correctly distributed, but I am arguing
> that this is what we mostly use the energy for. A lot of energy. The
> large chunk of it currently comes from oil, coal and natural gas.

Not just that. A lot of fertiliser is made from oil, apparently, so we are
literally eating the stuff too.

> So the problems, according to my limited knowledge: current solar
> panels are based on silicon, which is a scarce resource. The amount of
> silicon available might not be enough for the total solar panel
> surface area that we would need to remove our dependency on fossil
> fuels. In fact, some people are suggesting that we already reached
> peak silicon.

There are already carbon based solar panels, plus silicon itself is cheap,
cheap, cheap - another name for it is sand! :)

The point is that technology can also go exponential. Solar panels have
been dropping in price and becoming easier to produce for the last couple
of decades. Cell phones are already revolutionising third world
agriculture, because they are now so cheap to produce. With any luck (or
rather tech) solar panels will continue to drop in price and become easier
to produce and use - panels you can put on your windows and run a wire
from, panels that can be put onto the sides of office buildings, etc. The
great thing is there is far more solar power available than we need.

(The next step is to use solar power to extract carbon from the air...)

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