The Abundance of Clean Energy- From the Sun!
The Earth receives a staggering amount of solar energy every day. The sun, an average star, is a fusion reactor that has been burning for over 4 billion years.
According to a government study: Basic Research Needs for Solar Energy Utilization, "Sunlight provides by far the largest of all carbon-neutral energy sources. More energy from sunlight strikes the Earth in one hour (4.3 × 10/20 J) than all the energy consumed on the planet in a year (4.1 × 10/20 J)." Therefore, it follows that in one day, more energy from the sun reaches the earth than we can consume in 24 years.
Right now, as of 2014, according to the scientists at the Rocky Mountain Institute, in the US, non-renewable resources generate 87 percent of the nation’s electricity—in particular, 43 percent from coal, 24 percent from natural gas, and 20 percent from nuclear.
The sun also is a driving force behind the wind. Land masses absorb solar energy faster than water in the oceans, creating sea to land breezes from the warm air rising over the land. In addition, the rotation of the earth creates a vortex, which powers the world’s jet streams, an additional source of powerful wind energy.
The challenge for scientists and engineers is to figure out a way to mix local solar, wind and hydro sources from diverse geographical areas to supply reliable base load (24/7) power to the grid. Recently, several teams of really smart researchers around the world did just that.
In a recent dispatch, Sarah Hodgdon, of the Sierra Club states that the fossil-fuel funded front group ALEC wrote: "Wind is such an unreliable source of electricity that coal plants are required to operate around the clock as backup for wind power." She goes on to say, More and more these days special interests go out of their way to spread misinformation and undermine science -- and the truth isn't always easy to see.
I have to agree. We all have an intuitive sense of the enormous energy of the sun just by being out on a sunny day and feeling the heat on our skin. But where is the science, and can we understand it? -Greg Vizzi
Replacing Fossil Fuel and Nuclear Power with Renewable Energy: Wind, Solar and Hydro Power- We Could Power All 50 States With Wind, Solar and Hydro.
It is a MYTH that We Need Fossil Fuel or Nuclear
The big oil, gas, coal and nuclear companies claim that we need those energy sources in order to power America.
Good news: it's a myth.
Mark Diesendorf, Associate Professor and Deputy Director, Institute of Environmental Studies, UNSW at the University of New South Wales notes:
The deniers and scoffers repeatedly utter the simplistic myth that renewable energy is intermittent and therefore cannot generate base-load (that is, 24-hour) power.
Detailed computer simulations, backed up with actual experience with wind power overseas, show that the scoffers are wrong. Several countries, including Australia with its huge renewable energy resources, could make the necessary transition to an electricity generation system comprising 100 per cent renewable energy over a few decades.
Feasibility has been established by computer simulations of electricity generation systems by several research groups around the world, including my own. Diesendorf gave an update earlier this month(April 2014):
Ben Elliston, Iain MacGill and I have performed thousands of computer simulations of 100% renewable electricity in the National Electricity Market(NEM), using actual hourly data on electricity demand, wind and solar power for 2010.
Our latest research finds that generating systems comprising a mix of different commercially available renewable energy technologies, located on geographically dispersed sites, do not need base load power stations to achieve the same reliability as fossil-fuelled systems.
The old myth was based on the incorrect assumption that base load demand can only be supplied by base load power stations; for example, coal in Australia and nuclear in France. However, the mix of renewable energy technologies in our computer model, which has no base load power stations, easily supplies base load demand.
Similarly, Dr. Mark Jacobson, the head of Stanford University's Atmosphere and Energy Program, who has written numerous books and hundreds of scientific papers on climate and energy, and testified before Congress numerous times on those issues has run a series of computer simulations based on actual historical energy usage data. Jacobson found that the U.S. can meet all of its energy needs with a mix of wind, solar and hydropower.
The difference between a failed alternative energy pipe dream and a viable alternative energy strategy is in having the right mix, and that takes sophisticated computer simulations using historical data.
Dr. Jacobson’s team has now developed specific plans which would provide 100% sustainable energy for each of the 50 states. To learn how to do it and the benefits, go to The Solutions Project to see the specific energy mix for your state, using really cool interactive info-graphics.
Jacobson also shows that the wind-water-sun combination would actually reduce electrical consumption (because it is more efficient than fossil fuels or nuclear):
Watch this must-see 25-minute talk by Jacobson:
And he shows that the wind-water-solar combination is superior to nuclear, “clean” coal, natural gas and biofuels. As one example, Jacobson notes that it takes at least 11 years to permit and build a nuclear plant, whereas it takes less than half that time to fire up a wind or solar farm. Between the application for a nuclear plant and flipping the switch, power is provided by conventional energy sources … currently 55-65% coal. Nuclear also puts out much more pollution (including much more CO2) than windpower, and 1.5% of all the nuclear plants built have melted down.
A banker for one of the world’s biggest banks also notes that switching to alternative energy provides certainty in energy pricing … and is usually a less expensive source of energy when long-term costs are factored in.
So why haven’t we switched? As David Letterman noted when interviewing Jacobson, the main hurdle to switching from fossil fuels and nuclear is simply that the big fossil fuel and nuclear companies would lose a lot of money, so they’re fighting tooth and nail to keep the status quo.
And note that decentralizing power supplies is arguably key to protecting against terrorism, fascism and destruction of our health, environment and economy.
Source: globalresearch.ca / globalresearch.org