Sunday, September 04, 2005

A Sea of Hope

Earlier in the week, I intended to run this story.

It's about the the giant sea of crystalline blue solar panels that is growing in Germany these days. Because of the influence of the Green Party in their government, Germany is now leading the world in the installation of solar power plants with their liberal offering of 60 cents/Kwh for solar power. The price drops to 55 cents next year.

Here is part of the story from Solarbuzz.

Sulzemoos, Germany: First Stage of 5.3 Megawatt System Inaugurated

Phonix SonnenStrom AG inaugurated the first two megawatts of a ground-mounted large solar power plant late last week in Miegersbach, Bavaria.

Gerda Hasselfeldt MP, deputy leader of the CDU/CSU party and in the election team of Angela Merkel, responsible for agriculture, consumer protection and the environment, congratulated the company which is based in Sulzemoos near Munich on this flagship project.

Phonix SonnenStrom has assembled 11,616 solar modules on a surface area of more than 56,000 m². These modules have been generating electricity since the end of June which is fed into the grid of the utility company E.ON.

Upon completion of the whole plant at the end of this year, the solar electricity plant, which will have a peak power output of 5.3 megawatts, will be one of the largest PV-plants in the world.

In her speech Ms Hasselfeldt commented on the sharp growth of the German solar market, which reinforces Germany's leading position in solar technology and opens up huge export potential for the economy. She went on to say that the way had been paved for the promotion of renewable energies through the Act on the Sale of Electricity to the Grid passed by the Union-led government at the start of the 90's.

Her statement that "we still stand behind our goal which is to promote renewable energies" was greeted by spontaneous applause from the audience. The Union politician considers it important that all those involved have planning security. However, the promotion of renewable energies must be reviewed regularly in respect of the goals of achieving a sustainable energy policy - being environmentally compatible, commercially viable and securing a constant supply.

Dr. Roderich Zauscher, district chairman of the association of nature conservation, BUND, commented: "We are coming to the end of the age of fossil fuel and it is time for us to concentrate on expanding renewable energies."

He went on to say that, in this task, the most efficient alternative of sourcing energy was through the sun. "To achieve the same energy output with rape crop, you need to cultivate 50 times the surface area" , explained Zauscher. "

In fact, if you take these numbers out to really large proportions, you can see that the first 2 MW here are using around 12 acres of land. (56,000 square meters). That means that 100 MWs will need around 600 acres or roughly a square mile. If a city of a million people needs 2,500 MWs, then you would need at least 25 square miles of solar sea to provide the power it needs. Of course much of this can be on the roof tops of uglybuildingsbiuldings, over parking lots, and on homes and businesses that are unfortunate enough to not have good tree cover.

But even 25 square miles is not an usual footprint for a 2500 MW power plant. Nuclear plants often require approximately the same space. Coal Plants have just slightly smaller footprints.

In fairness though, I should add that these large plants run most of the time, while the solar plant runs less than a third of the time, and you need 3 to 4 times more area to provide the same amount of energy.

However, the Solar Plant does not need the added footprint of the coal mine, the additional land needed for the nuclear waste facility, or the transportation footprint needed to move the fuels.

Clearly, it does not have the environmental footprint either.

Earlier in the week I had dinner with representatives of a Japanese company that is one of the leaders in the semi crystalline solar world.

It does not escape me that the losers of the struggle for World dominance 60 years ago are the leaders in the struggle to develop sustainable clean energy supplies today.

And it should not escape us either.

If we do not begin move towards the light now.

We will struggle in this darkness until we do.


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Blogger Urban Denizen #512 said...

I mentioned something about age and maturity as a caveat to my last response. Maybe I am becoming more functional. Regardless, this latest post has me thinking.

Those panels seem really inefficient "in light" of land use, no pun intended. So it got me thinking as I am sitting on the terrace looking out over Oakwood.

I've always thought cemeteries are ridiculous displays of vanity. They really serve no purpose and even further imbed the idea of spiritual materialism.

In the name of fucntional consilience, why not rewire cemeteries with these panels, or at the very least build future cemeteries/lots with solar panels behind the tombstones?

I don't think the dead will mind. It's dead space anyway, pun intended, why not make some good out of it for the living?

10:03 AM  
Blogger oZ said...

Land area dedicated to the dead is relatively small. Parking lots dwarf that number. As do deserts.

SG, this one is DOA.

area is not the problem.
costs and energy ratios are.

that is why we need an international manhattan project to move humankind into the post promethean age.

10:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I enjoyed just seeing the word hope. thanks.

4:48 PM  
Blogger Urban Denizen #512 said...

DOA is a little harsh, but I'll accept it by virtue of the fact that I love you.

My point is: there is alot of dead space, some deader than dead. City planning needs to be amended on many levels, and yet city planners with all of the qualifying degrees and pedigrees are still more or less learning the same antiquated concepts, seeing the world from the same staid perspective.

Frankly, once the water clears in NOLA, what are the chaces she will be rebuilt from said new perspective? said staid perspective? No doubt the latter. Sad, really.

9:00 PM  
Blogger oZ said...

the idea that NOLA can be rebuilt right is really an intriguing notion. good thought form to put out there SG.

9:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The French Quarter, I understand, held its own. That is all that must remain to have historic athenticity. All other development begins at terra firma and is built to be renewed at some point anyway. Construction can be a many splendored thing for the economy. Meanwhile someone wondered if it would be possible to raise its terra firma above sea level, as was done in Galveston.

11:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

AirAmerica commentator said that the re-development would probably result in recreating Miami with miles of high-end hotels and no replacement building for the middle class and low income populace. I once heard about Vail, CO, that the property values got so overblown that there was a problem finding affordable housing for the necessary workers to serve the tourist trade. Oops.

4:17 PM  

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