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Off-topic followups [Was: Re: East Coast outage?]

  • From: Rafi Sadowsky
  • Date: Mon Aug 18 08:23:52 2003

Hi Guys

 I must say I'm enjoying all of these fascinating off topic followups
but isn't about time to move this discussion to ?


Rafi Sadowsky                                   
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## On 2003-08-18 02:22 -0700 Vadim Antonov typed:

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