Discussing Energy Economics on the Internet

Nature Article Now Available

Posted in Renewables by Cheryl Morgan on the August 18th, 2008

Thanks to personal intervention by Oliver Morton (gosh, we have influence!) the Nature article on renewable energy technologies is now available for free. You can read it here. Here are a few brief extracts:

Because hydro is a mature technology, there is little room for improvement in the efficiency of generation. Also, the more obvious and easy locations have been used, and so the remaining potential can be expected to be harder to exploit.

Building and operating nuclear plants requires a great many highly trained professionals, and enlarging this pool of talent enough to double the rate at which new plants are brought online might prove very challenging. The engineering capacity for making key components would also need enlarging.

Wind Power Monthly estimates that the world’s installed capacity for wind as of January 2008 was 94 gigawatts. If growth continued at 21%, that figure would triple over six years.

Earth receives about 100,000 TW of solar power at its surface — enough energy every hour to supply humanity’s energy needs for a year. There are parts of the Sahara Desert, the Gobi Desert in central Asia, the Atacama in Peru or the Great Basin in the United States where a gigawatt of electricity could be generated using today’s photovoltaic cells in an array 7 or 8 kilometres across. Theoretically, the world’s entire primary energy needs could be served by less than a tenth of the area of the Sahara.

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