web analytics

A solar future?

Written By: - Date published: 1:30 pm, September 18th, 2009 - 34 comments
Categories: climate change - Tags: ,

solar

You can read more about it here.

34 comments on “A solar future?”

  1. We better start building!

    For those wanting base load wind turbines can contribute and battery storage is a must.

    It is rare during the day for it to be dull and still.

    • jagilby 1.1

      “battery storage”

      Prey tell… what’s the electricity price path going to be once all this is said and done? Who’s going to pay? How are the poorest people ever going to afford the power generated by this fantastic scheme?

      For those wanting to read something devoid of any sense read this:

      “For those wanting base load wind turbines can contribute”

      Wind… base load???? Exactly how will that work?

  2. Lanthanide 2

    Right, so is this to completely replace all fossil fuel use universally, or just that used in current eletricity generation?

    Furthermore the additional land space required for the infrastructure to actually collect and distribute the power is probably at least a good 100% of what is listed here (roads and warehouse to carry spare parts for maintenance, etc).

    • Clarke 2.1

      So are you suggesting that these are insurmountable problems that can’t be addressed?

      • Lanthanide 2.1.1

        No, just that it’s extremely unlikely we could simply manufacture and install that many solar panels within 30 years, because you have to build all the roads and buildings to go with it, train all the people etc.

        Also, saying “zero carbon emissions” is rather a big gloss – what about all the carbon that goes into pouring all the concrete for the buildings, roads, and simply manufacturing and installing the panels themselves? 0 (or negligible) ongoing emissions possibly, but just stating it as “zero carbon emissions” is misleading.

        • Clarke 2.1.1.1

          No, just that it’s extremely unlikely we could simply manufacture and install that many solar panels within 30 years, because you have to build all the roads and buildings to go with it, train all the people etc

          Building all the infrastructure necessary to support this amount of solar in NZ would be a relatively trivial exercise – certainly smaller and less invasive than the effort needed to construct the chain of hydro dams and supporting roads, towns and electricity distribution in the Mackenzie Basin in Central Otago in a similar amount of time back in the 1960’s and 70’s. So scale certainly isn’t the problem.

          Also, saying “zero carbon emissions’ is rather a big gloss what about all the carbon that goes into pouring all the concrete for the buildings, roads, and simply manufacturing and installing the panels themselves? 0 (or negligible) ongoing emissions possibly, but just stating it as “zero carbon emissions’ is misleading.

          The same applies to any new electricity generation, so what’s your point? Unless we ration power consumption to the capacity of the current system, any new generation will require carbon emissions to construct. The difference is that solar PV has zero emissions in operation, in stark contrast to the expedient thermal generation that Contact et al have been so keen on over the last few years.

          • Lanthanide 2.1.1.1.1

            I was talking about globally building enough solar panels by 2030, rather than just New Zealand. If everyone rushes to build and install solar panels at once, the price will rise such that demand will meet supply. More supply will be brought on line to lower prices and increase demand, but I doubt the required area of solar panels could be built by 2030.

            “The same applies to any new electricity generation, so what’s your point?”
            My point is that while yes, it is of course true that any form of electricity generation will require CO2 output in order to initially construct, the statement cannot be taken at face value, which is precisely what the creator of that graphic is trying to get the reader to do.

            I’ve read various things about geothermal power, such as America being able to meet 5x it’s current total annual energy consumption purely from geothermal if they simply had the willpower to actually go and do it. NZ also has a great abundance of geothermal resource that we simply aren’t taking advantage of.

            captcha: timing

            • Clarke 2.1.1.1.1.1

              I was talking about globally building enough solar panels by 2030, rather than just New Zealand.

              Fair enough – although the reason I gave the NZ example is because it puts the required build-out in a local context. If we can terraform the entire Mackenzie Basin in the cause of hydro power, we can certainly put up enough aluminium framing to build a multi-megawatt solar facility.

              But the comparison is also a bit spurious – we could much more easily get to 100% renewables with geothermal (“welcome to the Shaky Isles!”), wind and tidal, probably at lower cost, and probably with lower embedded energy and carbon. Solar looks like a bit of an indulgence for little old Enzed, IMHO.

            • Ari 2.1.1.1.1.2

              This is why a mixed-renewable solution is crucial, as it spreads the resource-intensity and geographic loading of cleaner power. 🙂

        • Rob A 2.1.1.2

          Ever heard of the Manhatten project, or the Apollo project? Personally I have yet to give up all hope that humanity can pull our finger out of our arse when it matters

          • Clarke 2.1.1.2.1

            So where’s the equivalent Manhattan Project in fusion? Currently we’re building the experimental fusion reactor that will precede the prototype of the first commercial reactor. Even the most ardent advocates of fusion are predicting timelines measured in decades, not years – the ITER project is slated to cost around 10 billion euro and last for 35 years.

            I’m a big supporter of fusion. But believing it’s going to solve our climate change problems is akin to believing in fairies at the bottom of the garden.

            • lprent 2.1.1.2.1.1

              Besides widespread cheap fusion has an inherent problem as well – excessive waste heat would be a major cumulative problem within a relatively short time. Instead of trapping extra heat in the atmosphere, cheap fusion is effectively generating it. But that is probably a easier problem to solve.

              It is the hassle of being in a finite and rather small biosphere.

            • Rob A 2.1.1.2.1.2

              I was talking more of this solar panel idea, its technology we already largely have. Yes it has problems but nothing that would be impossible to overcome.

    • Con 2.2

      Right, so is this to completely replace all fossil fuel use universally, or just that used in current eletricity generation?

      In future, let me recommend clicking on the link that says “You can read more about it here.” – it works wonders!

      To save you the bother this time, the figure appears to include not just all fossil fuel, but the consumption of energy in all its forms.

      • Lanthanide 2.2.1

        Yeah, I didn’t have time to click it when I posted that comment, but I followed it and read it later.

        I was mainly skeptical based on another graphic I’ve seen around the net showing “1 cubic mile of oil =” and it has like 91,000,000 solar panels generating electricity for 50 years to be the equivalent. However that graphic has been debunked as being the energy value of the oil, but not what we actually manage to extract from it (because refining oil and cars etc are very inefficient).

  3. ieuan 3

    Ummm, what about the storage needed because solar cells, like, don’t work too well at night? The storage issue is probably a bigger problem (and cost) than building large arrays of solar cells.

    My personal 2c worth. I think the ‘solution’ is a lot more small scale power generation from various sources – solar, wind, small gas turbines etc rather than mega schemes.

    • lprent 3.1

      Yep it is an issue.

      The solution has been known for a while. Store it as potential mechanical energy. Use excess power during the day to pump water uphill. You get get a loss of energy converting back into electricity as hydro power at night but if the variable cost of the power was ‘free’, then this is a good way to store energy.

      The actual trick is to get so much power on the grid that it becomes worth while investing the infrastructure to take power off the grid during the day to do that.

      • snoozer 3.1.1

        It doesn’t even have to be water that you store the potential energy in, but that’s obviously the cheapest and most abundant fluid around. Not much water in the Sahara.

        You could use blocks from the pyramids instead – winch them up during the day, release the brake in the evening and turn the winch motor into a generator. 🙂

        captcha: simplest

        • Clarke 3.1.1.1

          The sodium-sulphur battery seems to be a good candidate for grid connection, as it’s large-scale, made from commonly available elements, and doesn’t seem to have the same memory issues as some other battery types. It’s being trialled for grid support in Japan.

  4. pentwig 4

    Nuclear is the only way to go!!

    • Lanthanide 4.2

      Fusion, yes. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polywell

      Fission probably can’t ramp up in time and has problems with waste disposal, and a limited amount of uranium – 100-200 years at current usage rates becomes 10-20 years if you build 10x as many nuke plants as there are today. Breeder reactors etc are feasible, but AFAIK no one has even started building one yet, let alone has them up and running.

      • Clarke 4.2.1

        I agree with your assessment of fission, but practical fusion has the minor problem of having been 10-20 years away for at least the last 40 years. So betting the farm on a technology that isn’t yet ready for prime time looks kinda risky.

        • Lanthanide 4.2.1.1

          Have a read up on polywell, which is why I linked it.

          They just got an additional $8m in funding from the US Navy. If everything goes well with their next prototype which is 8x more powerful than the previous one and aimed at being energy-positive, they plan to have a commercial plant up and running by 2020. The rebuttal is, of course, “they’ve been saying that for years”, but polywell actually looks very promising and is orders of magnitude cheaper than tokamak reactors. Not the least because it can use boron as a fuel source and using boron gives a nuclear reaction which has no radioactive inputs -or- outputs.

    • lprent 4.3

      Not if you know anything about it. Which I suspect you don’t. Prove me wrong – explain why you think it is the only way to go. I’m sure there are people here who will pick apart your arguments to educate you why that is such a stupid attitude.

    • Draco T Bastard 4.4

      Nope

      The Future of Nuclear Energy: Facts and Fiction
      Part 1
      Part 2
      Part 3

      Nuclear power was always only a short term option and its short term has run out.

  5. SjS 5

    What about the transmission? Seems like a really good idea to build a giant solar panel in the Sahara to power all of europe and north africa, but how do you get that power to europe?

    Those massive power lines they want to build through the Waitako to help power auckland would be tiny and insignificant compared to what you would need to build to get the power to/through europe …

    Good idea though! Interesting seeing it relative to the world’s totaly land area.

    • snoozer 5.1

      of course, for a project like that, the scales make it viable to use better transmission equipment than the crappy cheap stuff we have.

      superconducting wires – one day, hopefully 🙂

  6. Strathen 6

    I remember one of my Teachers telling us about this concept all those years ago at school. Although he did say that with a big enough structure in the Sahara, you could power the whole world.

    The issue we discussed in class was around who would hold the ‘power’. Who would control each of these facilities, and in the modern world, how susceptible would they be to an attack?

    I can see the above approach has reduced the risk of our theoretical discussion by spreading the structures around the world which makes sense. However with an organised attack (yes, very Hollywood) you could take down the entire worlds power system.

    Ignoring the attack angle, it is still interesting to consider who would hold the governance over these power supplies, more for places like Africa etc where one station is providing power to many countries. Whilst this can be worked out, I forsee it taking many times longer than it will take to build it.

    I like the idea and would love to see it implemented in my lifetime.

  7. wtl 7

    Re all those comments about transmission and dangers of attack. I think the point of the graph isn’t that we would use specific areas of that size and thus centralise power generation in those areas, but that the area we would need is rather small compared to the area of the world.

  8. Quoth the Raven 8

    There’s another possibility: Space-based solar power.

  9. Zaphod Beeblebrox 9

    Would have thought best place to collect solar energy is your roof. No transmission infrastructure, low construction costs, don’t have to pay any money grubbing power company and their executive bonuses.
    Just a thought.

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Select committee changes Kermadec/Rangitāhua Ocean Sanctuary Bill
    Photo by Tom Hitchon Parliament’s Local Government and Environment Committee has made many changes to the Kermadec/Rangitāhua Ocean Sanctuary Bill in response to public submissions, particularly submissions from iwi authorities and Te Ohu Kaimoana.   Read the amended Bill and the ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage
    1 day ago
  • Housing map a hit as crisis spreads across NZ
    More than 55,000 New Zealanders have used Labour’s interactive housing map in its first week to see how the housing crisis is affecting their local community, Labour Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “Our innovative map shows the housing crisis is ...
    3 days ago
  • Bridges must come clean about fraud within transport
    Hundreds of thousands of dollars of public money have gone missing and  the Minister of Transport, Simon Bridges must come clean after the Labour party revealed that a senior manager is being investigated for serious fraud, says Labour’s Transport Spokesperson ...
    3 days ago
  • Labour supports Spencer victory
    Labour congratulates Margaret Spencer for her tireless efforts in challenging the Government over family carer rights, says Labour’s Deputy Leader Annette King. ...
    3 days ago
  • US Warship visit welcomed by Labour
    Labour sees the United States warship visit as a red letter day for New Zealand’s non-nuclear status, which is core to our identity and has defined us a nation for 30 years, says Labour’s Deputy Leader Annette King. ...
    3 days ago
  • Time for honest dairy sector conversation
    ...
    3 days ago
  • What next? Dog kennels?
    Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett needs to explain why the Government thinks it is acceptable for it to refer families to live in garages and sheds, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “This is a new low, just when you ...
    3 days ago
  • Banks bust a move, Government possum in the headlights
    Three of the big four banks have acted responsibly by bringing the shutters down on property speculators earlier than required by the Reserve Bank, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “It’s a shame the Government isn’t as motivated to act ...
    3 days ago
  • Latest OECD dairy forecast raises serious questions for economy
    The latest global dairy price forecast shows that New Zealand dairy farmers will not reach a break-even payout before 2019 at the earliest, and will not reach the dairy price factored into this year’s Budget until after 2025, Labour’s Finance spokesperson ...
    4 days ago
  • National’s reckless, out of touch approach to economy exposed
    Today’s economic assessment from the Reserve Bank highlights the danger to the New Zealand economy from a National government that is recklessly complacent in the face of a housing crisis and a struggling export sector, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. ...
    4 days ago
  • GP’s visits get more expensive
      Visiting the GP is set to become more expensive after the Government ignored warnings that people were not receiving access to affordable  healthcare, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King.  “Over 400,000 New Zealanders who should be able to access ...
    5 days ago
  • Farm prices bear brunt of dairy downturn
    The slump in dairy prices that has seen farm prices drop to their lowest level since 2012 and down a third from their peak in 2014 will be of concern to farmers, banks and our overall financial stability, Labour’s Finance ...
    5 days ago
  • Reserve Bank “gets on with it”, National carries on in denial
    The proposal by the Reserve Bank to tighten loan to value ratios for investors shows they are prepared to do their bit to crack down on speculators, while National is still stuck in denial mode, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. ...
    6 days ago
  • Housing crisis holds up interest rate cuts
    The housing crisis that National still wants to deny is stifling the New Zealand economy, says Labour’s Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson. “The latest Consumers Price Index shows that all prices excluding housing and household utilities decreased 0.5 per cent – ...
    7 days ago
  • Housing crisis holds up interest rate cuts
    The housing crisis that National still wants to deny is stifling the New Zealand economy, says Labour’s Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson. “The latest Consumers Price Index shows that all prices excluding housing and household utilities decreased 0.5 per cent – ...
    7 days ago
  • Govt’s state house sell-off ramping up
    Government plans to ramp up the state house sell-off by selling another 1000 houses in 2016/17 will mean more families in need missing out, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. “New figures show the Government plans to sell 1000 ...
    7 days ago
  • Govt’s state house sell-off ramping up
    Government plans to ramp up the state house sell-off by selling another 1000 houses in 2016/17 will mean more families in need missing out, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. “New figures show the Government plans to sell 1000 ...
    7 days ago
  • National must reassure exporters on dumping case
        The National Government needs to show our key exporters that they are in control of any anti-dumping case against China before it damages some of our most important industries, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says.     ...
    1 week ago
  • National must reassure exporters on dumping case
        The National Government needs to show our key exporters that they are in control of any anti-dumping case against China before it damages some of our most important industries, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says.     ...
    1 week ago
  • Papers describe litany of incredulity
    Treasury documents which slate the Government’s plans for a national bowel screening programme confirm the proposal was nothing more than a political stunt to cover up underfunding of the health sector, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette Kings says.  The papers were ...
    1 week ago
  • Effect of rampant house prices widens
    The latest house price figures from REINZ show the housing crisis expanding throughout the country, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “We are seeing steep increases in median house prices in Central Otago Lakes – up 42.4% in the last ...
    1 week ago
  • Public invited to have say on homelessness
    People who are homeless, those who were once homeless, those working with the homeless and concerned New Zealanders are being asked to share their experiences and solutions to this growing issue with the Cross-Party Homelessness Inquiry. This inquiry was launched ...
    1 week ago
  • Sorry seems to be the hardest word
    An apology from Hekia Parata to the people of Christchurch is long overdue, Labour's Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. "As if the earthquakes weren't traumatic enough, Hekia Parata and the Ministry of Education then attacked the one thing that had ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Housing crisis affecting more than 98 per cent of NZ
    Labour’s new housing map shows the housing crisis is now affecting more than 98 per cent of New Zealand, Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little says. “Housing pressures have seen house prices rise faster than wages in all but four ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Uber might not be a taxi firm but it must pay tax
    Uber needs to explain how it paid only $9000 in tax when it earned $1m in revenue and is one of the fastest growing companies in the country, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Uber New Zealand appears to be ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Tax changes should have been made 3 years ago
    National could have avoided the international stain on our reputation from the Panama Papers if it had let IRD’s planned review of foreign trusts go ahead three years ago, instead of now belatedly acting because of the Shewan recommendations, says ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Government must stop state house sell-off
    The Government must immediately pull the plug on its planned sell-off of state houses in order to stop the housing crisis getting any worse, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “While Paula Bennett is putting people into transit camps in ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Thoughts on Labour’s new housing policies
    The Labour Party launched its package of ideas to fix the housing crisis over the weekend. Their ideas match ours in many ways. This is good news, because it means that when we change the government we’ll be ready to ...
    GreensBy James Shaw
    2 weeks ago
  • Thoughts on Labour’s new housing policies
    The Labour Party launched its package of ideas to fix the housing crisis over the weekend. Their ideas match ours in many ways. This is good news, because it means that when we change the government we’ll be ready to ...
    GreensBy James Shaw
    2 weeks ago
  • Thoughts on Labour’s new housing policies
    The Labour Party launched its package of ideas to fix the housing crisis over the weekend. Their ideas match ours in many ways. This is good news, because it means that when we change the government we’ll be ready to ...
    GreensBy James Shaw
    2 weeks ago
  • Housing crisis drives household debt to record levels
    The Finance Minister must be woken from his slumber by Westpac’s report today that says house prices have largely driven household debt to record levels and are rising at a pace faster than other developed economies, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson ...
    2 weeks ago
  • English denies dividend decision made – Joyce should delete his account
    National must explain who is right in the Housing NZ dividend debacle, after Bill English said no decision had been made on a payment for the next two years, in direct contrast to Steven Joyce, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Pressure forces Govt to make policy on the hoof
    Steven Joyce’s surprise announcement that Housing NZ will no longer be used as a cash cow has forced the Finance Minister to make one of National’s biggest ever U-turns, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. “After years of insisting the ...
    2 weeks ago
  • 10-fold more affordable houses under Labour
    New data showing homeownership rates continue to fall and more Kiwis than ever rent, highlights why Labour’s plan to build 10 times more affordable housing in Auckland is so desperately needed, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “Labour’s Affordable Housing ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Out of excuses, Brownlee resorts to scare tactics
    Gerry Brownlee’s ridiculous suggestion that Labour would nationalise Christchurch’s east frame shows National has resorted to scare tactics to hide its failure to build desperately needed affordable houses in our city, Labour's Canterbury spokesperson Megan Woods says. “Plans put in ...
    2 weeks ago
  • National all at sea in face of Labour’s housing plan
    Labour’s comprehensive plan to fix the housing crisis has left National Ministers flailing about, contradicting themselves and simply making things up, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. “Steven Joyce has said in one breath that Labour’s plan represents a minor tweak ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour’s comprehensive plan to tackle housing crisis
    The next Labour Government has a comprehensive plan to tackle the housing crisis by building affordable houses and cracking down on speculators, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. “The housing crisis is out of control and National has proven ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Housing NZ to look after people, not profits
    Labour will change Housing NZ from a corporation to a public service and use the dividends it formerly paid into the Crown coffers to maintain and build more state houses, Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little says. “Housing NZ should ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Government breaks rent subsidies promise
    National has broken a promise to subsidise the rent of 3000 low-income New Zealanders to make up for its state house sell-off, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “When John Key announced last year the Government would sell-off 8000 state ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Banks the latest to voice concerns over housing
    The Reserve Bank has revealed banks are becoming “more and more concerned” about the effects of the housing crisis, adding yet another weighty voice to the calls for action from the Government, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “The Reserve ...
    2 weeks ago
  • New official figures show DHB’s financial strife
    New figures from the Ministry of Health show 12 out of 20 district health boards have not been fully funded this year to cope with the aging population, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King.“The Ministry’s own figures to the Health ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Reserve Bank pleas for action from Government
    The Reserve Bank has stopped asking and is now pleading with the Government to take urgent action on the housing crisis, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Deputy Governor Grant Spencer is clearly deeply concerned about the housing crisis. The ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour to house 5100 more homeless a year
    There would be 1400 new emergency accommodation places – enough to put a roof over the heads of 5100 homeless people a year – under Labour’s emergency housing policy announced today, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says. “Too many of our ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Chilcot Report shows Labour was right on Iraq
    The Chilcot Report released today shows John Key was wrong to call New Zealand “MIA” over the 2003 war in Iraq and Labour made the right decision not to send troops, Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little says. “At the ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Bigger class sizes on the way under National
    Hekia Parata’s refusal to rule out bigger class sizes as a result of her new bulk funding regime speaks volumes about the real agenda behind her proposed changes, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “Hekia Parata has proposed that schools ...
    3 weeks ago
  • National refuses to put people ahead of politics
    National’s refusal to rise above partisan politics and support a parliamentary inquiry into homelessness is hugely disappointing, Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little says. “This is such an important issue that politics should be put aside and parties should work ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Minister in denial over Pacific home ownership fall
    As long as the Minister of Pacific Peoples continues to deny that Pacific families have had the greatest home-ownership falls under his Government’s watch, nothing serious will be done to fix the housing crisis, says Pacific Island Affairs spokesperson Su’a ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Social Bonds experiment a failure
    The Government’s much vaunted social bonds experiment is a multi-million dollar failure, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King.  “The news that the Wise Group has now withdrawn from the project to develop a pilot for mental health employment services, shows ...
    3 weeks ago
  • John Key must ‘get on with it’, not leave it to Reserve Bank
    John Key can’t just tell the Reserve Bank to ‘get on with’ fixing the housing crisis – he must act to tackle the rampant speculation in the housing market that has taken place under his watch, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson ...
    3 weeks ago
  • No gains for Māori while National in power
    The Minister of Māori Development needs to be honest with his people and admit his party’s ongoing support of the National Government has seen increasing inequality and decreasing prosperity for Māori, says Ikaroa-Rāwhiti MP Meka Whaitiri.  “Te Ururoa Flavell had ...
    3 weeks ago

Public service advertisements by The Standard

Current CO2 level in the atmosphere