On any given day, humans Solar Generator For House of gas, untold tons of coal and scads of electricity from nuclear plants, hydropower dams and various other power-producing operations.
The cost is tremendous and its perpetuation a main driver of the global economy.
All that energy equates to about 15 terawatts, give or take, per year. A terawatt is a trillion watts. And demand, while stymied somewhat by recession-aided stagnation, is expected to grow.
Fossil fuels are finite
The problem is that we humans are burning, churning and polluting our way through a finite fuel source. What if, on the other hand, we got handed to us a viable energy source that doesn’t stink up the place?
We did. Or we do. It’s the sun and an element six times lighter than air — hydrogen.
Sure, the statement’s old new to anybody on the clean energy front. “Solar, solar, solar,” the mantra drives oil industry execs to distraction.
But tapping into the sun for all the world’s energy is possible, we just have to figure out how to pull it off, says Derek Abbott, who looked at energy problem as an engineer would, calculating out a potential solution without letting minor details get in the way.
The size of Victoria
In a six-part lecture posted on YouTube and viewed in most cases just several hundred times, Abbott, a professor at the University of Adelaide in Australia, spells out just what it would take to capture solar energy and provide enough to power the world’s 15 terawatts. The sun, he says, produces enough energy to power about 10,000 of our planets, or 174,000 terawatts.
Imagine 500-by-500 square kilometers of parabolic mirrors used to capture the sun’s rays and reflect it back to boil water used to create electricity. Abbott’s concept is to limit “digging in the ground” for energy, thus going with mirrors rather than photovoltaic panels.
He says that is all it would take, should his figures prove correct, to crank up those 15 terawatts.
“That’s the size of Victoria,” says the Australian, referring to the southeastern state of his country that stares across the Bass Strait at Tasmania. “Would anybody miss Victorians?”