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Re: East Coast outage?
On Sun, 17 Aug 2003 firstname.lastname@example.org wrote: > Use hydrogen. One solar panel (which will last forever unless you drop > something on it) can split H2O into H and O. Solar panels do not last forever. In fact, they degrade rather quickly due to the radiation damage to the semiconductor (older thin film panels were guaranteed to perform within specs for 2-5 years, new crystalline ones stay within nominal parameters for 20 years). Lifetimes of hydrogen storage products, and electrolytic converters are also limited. Note that exploitation of those involve creation and eventual disposal of toxic compounds. Making those panels requires energy, and involves processes producing pollition. So does their disposal. Besides, solar panels convert visible-light high-energy photons (used by the biosphere) into low-energy (infrared) photons which are a form of pollution, and are useless for the biosphere. Fossil fuels and nuclear energy do not steal this source of negative enthropy from the biospere (just a counterpoint - I'm no big fan of those ways of producing energy, for different reasons). Given the relatively low power density of the solar energy, the full-lifecycle adjustments are much higher on per-joule basis than for traditional energy sources. So when you talk about advantages of the solar (or any other renewable power) you need to take into account the full energy budget (including manufacturing and disposal) and ecological impact of the entire lifecycle of the product, not just the generation phase. Such analysis will likely show that renewables are not as green or renewable as they seem to be. It seems to me that the debate on superiority of different methods of producing useable energy is high on emotions and very low on useful data; it will be a horrible mistake to waste lots of time or resources on an approach which may turn out to be worse than others in the final analysis. --vadim PS My personal favourite option is to move power generation out to space, where pollution will not be a problem for a very long time. This option is technically feasible now, economics and political will are entirely different matters, however. Quoting from one of my favourite authors: "...most of people ... were quite unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movements of small green pieces of paper, which is odd because on the whole it was not the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy."