Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Google It

Here's an encouraging story from the Independent that makes you think that the folks across the pond are serious about a post carbon world:

Wind-fuelled 'supergrid' offers clean power to Europe
The Independent
5,000-mile network could cut entire continent's carbon output by a quarter
By Paul Rodgers
Published: 25 November 2007
An audacious proposal to build a 5,000-mile electricity supergrid, stretching from Siberia to Morocco and Egypt to Iceland, would slash Europe's CO2 emissions by a quarter, scientists say.
The scheme would make the use of renewable energy, particularly wind power, so reliable and cheap that it would replace fossil fuels on an unprecedented scale, serving 1.1 billion people in 50 countries.

Europe's 1.25bn tons of annual CO2 output from electricity generation would be wiped out.

High-voltage direct current (HVDC) lines, up to 100 times as long as the alternating current (AC) cables carried by the National Grid's pylons, would form the system's main arteries. While AC lines are the international standard, they leak energy. HVDC lines are three times as efficient, making them cost effective over distances above 50 miles.

Building the supergrid would require an investment of ¿$80bn (£40bn), plus the cost of the wind turbines – a fraction of the €1 trillion the EU expects to pay for a 20 per cent reduction of its carbon footprint by 2020. The average price of the electricity generated would be just 4.6 euro cents per kWh, competitive with today's rates, which are likely to rise as fossil fuels run out. (clip)

The supergrid would draw power from massed turbines in a band of countries to Europe's south and east that have above average wind potential, feeding it to the industrialised centres of Europe. The scale would overcome the biggest obstacle to wind power – its unreliability. In smaller networks, such as Britain's National Grid, calm weather could cut production to zero. But the supergrid would cover a region so large that the wind would always be blowing somewhere."

I don't know who figured out the costs at 80 billion dollars (grossly low), or for that matter, why anyone who knows anything about the reality of running an electric grid would say something silly like the wind would always be blowing somewhere; but, in the world of big ideas sans the nagging problem of reality, there is clearly some truth in the statement.

But running such a super grid would require all kinds of internal capacitance and balancing strategies.

Meanwhile, is moving forward with its project to make utility scale solar power affordable. They intend to build a Gigawatt of solar that is cheaper than coal.

Here is part of the statement by Larry Page one of the co-founders of Google:

"There has been tremendous work already on renewable energy. Technologies have been developed that can mature into industries capable of providing electricity cheaper than coal. Solar thermal technology, for example, provides a very plausible path to providing renewable energy cheaper than coal. We are also very interested in further developing other technologies that have potential to be cost-competitive and green.

We are aware of several promising technologies, and believe there are many more out there."

"With talented technologists, great partners and significant investments, we hope to rapidly push forward. Our goal is to produce one gigawatt of renewable energy capacity that is cheaper than coal. We are optimistic this can be done in years, not decades."

So, if you are planning on building a coal plant or a nuclear plant,


The guys who created the phrase "Google It"

Are working on making your plans obsolete.



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