Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
For electricity to become a more important energy source from sunlight, there needs to be several problems solved.

The first is the huge losses that long-range transmission causes. Some estimates are 25%. Moving generation closer to users would help, but this isn't an option for most solar projects. Attempts at superconducting transmission have not gone well to date.

Second is the (ultimate) resource limits on the rare earth elements needed in many solar panels. Panels using more readily available materials don't seem to have as high a yield.

Third is the need to store energy for when the sun is not shining. I've wondered about converting water to Hydrogen as a mechanism, especially for coastal windfarms. The Hydrogen could then be used as a fuel itself.

Transportation run by electricity is going to always have problems because of the need to drag batteries around. Perhaps it is time to investigate centralized power again. Aside from the unsightliness, electric trams and buses run off overhead wires were practical, non-polluting and reasonably quiet. Maybe highways could be outfitted with power and hybrid cars would connect for long distance and only run on batteries at the ends of the journey.

There is too much expectation that the personal vehicle model can (and needs to be) maintained. This is an innovation which is less than 100 years old. It's not clear that it is a necessity.

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Sat Mar 15th, 2008 at 10:28:08 AM EST

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