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The positive news is that energy is abundant in the form of solar energy. When tapped, it can be a replacement to the entire fossil-fuel economy. This tells you why we place the solar turbine as one of our priorities.
Did you know that ten thousand times more energy intercepts the earth, from the sun, than the entire world economy uses today? We can extract electricity from the sun with at least 10% efficiency, whether by PV or solar concentrators. So we have 1000 times more energy than we can use. Thus, if we cover 1/1000 of one hemisphere with solar collection, we could transcend all our energy ills.
Solar energy is distributed. It makes local economies possible. Even in cloudy regions, there is enough sun to grow plants, and plants can be turned into fuels. Did you know that the area required to grow all fuel crops for a given city is approximately the same in area as the city itself? Take a town of 1000 people, or 1 million people, check its surface area, calculate how much Jerusalem artichoke you can grow on the same area – and you’ll be surprised to find that its fuel alcohol yields will be sufficient to cover all of the city’s fuel needs – even in wasteful North America. The point is – even if we could not tap solar energy directly and had to trap it in plants- it is not prohibitive in terms of land area – to provide all energy and fuel needs locally.
Did you know that just one acre provides enough electricity, through solar concentrator electric or PV means – to power 1000 average American homes – and that is considering night-time storage in heat cisterns.
In the upper right our friend Dan from West Orchards 60 miles north of here produces solar alcohol for his lawnmower using a solar still and waste apples.
In the bottom picture, we have solar cookers that heat up a large metal mass, that retains enough heat for cooking the entire day in India.
We believe that the real promise lies in scaleable, linear concentrator systems that are used with a simple turbine - to generate electricity. Who is going to make it happen? The company, Ausra, has already demonstrated commercial systems based exactly on this design, where a large number of slats like this feed a linear concentrator tube to produce electricity – including at night – from heat stored during the day.
People, solar energy is abundant. It’s everywhere. Tapping it effectively is perhaps the gteatest sociopolitical challenge of the present day. It will be realized within about 1 year at Factor e Farm.