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The Potential of Solar Energy

Solar Power Photovoltaics Renewable Energy Sun Solar Cells Batteries Thermal Energy Light Energy Heat Energy

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#1
BarkEater93

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The more I read about solar power the more I think it has so much potential. I can’t find a thread that discusses all of the different methods in utilizing solar energy and how all of it may impact our future so I thought I’d start one.
 
…..
 
While we’re messing with the biosphere with fossil fuels and draining its reserves there’s an enormous reservoir of energy that we stare up to in the sky every day: the sun. The sun is essential to life; plants use its light energy for photosynthesis and virtually all organisms utilize its heat. Why wouldn’t it be used to power civilization?
 
The sun is the largest source of energy for light years around, and it’ll be here for at least another 5 billion years. Really, it’s the ultimate energy source. I can’t imagine a future where solar power is not our primary source of energy.
 
Here’s an article that sums it up nicely:
 
 

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#2
Sciencerocks

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I believe I read a while back that an area the size of Libya covered in solar panels could power the entire world. Add battery storage and some nuclear, wind and wave as a backup = winning.


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#3
BarkEater93

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I believe I read a while back that an area the size of Libya covered in solar panels could power the entire world. Add battery storage and some nuclear, wind and wave as a backup = winning.

 

Not as bad as I thought, that's still a lot of solar panels though. I think one of the keys may be efficiency; most traditional cells today use less than 30% of the total energy that they receive. Here's a recent design that would hope to get over half of the energy it receives: https://phys.org/new...efficiency.html



#4
Alice Tepes

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The more I read about solar power the more I think it has so much potential. I can’t find a thread that discusses all of the different methods in utilizing solar energy and how all of it may impact our future so I thought I’d start one.
 
…..
 
While we’re messing with the biosphere with fossil fuels and draining its reserves there’s an enormous reservoir of energy that we stare up to in the sky every day: the sun. The sun is essential to life; plants use its light energy for photosynthesis and virtually all organisms utilize its heat. Why wouldn’t it be used to power civilization?
 
The sun is the largest source of energy for light years around, and it’ll be here for at least another 5 billion years. Really, it’s the ultimate energy source. I can’t imagine a future where solar power is not our primary source of energy.
 
Here’s an article that sums it up nicely:
 

 

not essential. deep ocean thermal vents can support life without the sun. also on some of the moons of Jupiter and Saturn the major theory that could support life does not require the sun. also why not build a tiny brown dwarf on earth and use that for energy...

Fusion!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

NOT saying that we shouldn't make solar plants... go ahead, but fusion is superior in many ways. 


aspiring gynoid macrointelligence


#5
BarkEater93

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^^^ Essential to complex life like us, so very important.

 

Forgot about nuclear fusion, probably because it's still in its experimental stage. But if we finally find a way to commercialize it, yeah I think it has huge potential.

 

Ok then, fusion is the ultimate energy source (probably much farther in our future though).

 

How much resources, fuel and space would fusion reactor(s) need to power a sizable population of the globe?



#6
Yuli Ban

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We actually have some old threads on this.
 
Are We 10 Years Away From 100% Solar? We May Be Even Closer Than That...
Kurzweil: Free, Unlimited Solar Energy By 2034
Solar power is shaking up global energy— on an unbelievable scale
1148fxJ.jpg
 
Interestingly, PVMA figures show 75 GW of solar PV was installed in 2016. And Global Solar PV Capacity to Reach Nearly 500 GW in 2019. So we're perfectly on schedule in terms of this graph which I first showed off in 2014.
Let's not forget that we predict these things, only to totally smash expectations. Like what we saw in Britain.
And despite the fact the US and UK are almost certainly going to try to rein in solar's growth, China and India are doing the exact opposite.

There are two other things to take into consideration:

1) Battery tech.

2) Other sources of energy as well as "hybrid power plants".


The biggest reason why solar is still doubted despite its explosive growth is because of its intermittent power generation. If the sun's not shining, you're not getting any power, and thus civilization can only function at certain points in the day. Now tell me, if I said that to anyone with a straight face, do you think I'd still have a face by the end of the day? Or would I need facial reconstruction surgery? "Civilization will only be possible between noon and dusk. Before and after that, you're outta luck."

Only the most fanatical antihumanist anti-civilization anarchoprimitivist eco-extremists believe this isn't a problem (indeed, they will even say it's a good thing). But the point is, solar will hit a plateau if we don't get better battery te— Oh hai Elon!

 

 

Another thing is that power generation is often used in singular terminology. You're either a coal power plant or you're a nuclear power plant or you're a solar farm or whatever. But decentralized renewable energy actually raises a good opportunity that I've only just started seeing others talk about— "hybrid power plants". 

Why waste a bunch of land with a solar farm and then waste more land with a nuclear power plant when you could instead create a solar-nuclear hybrid power plant? You drastically cut down on space requirements and still get clean energy production. You'd get more together than you would with any single one alone.

Most hybrid power plant concepts I've seen tend to cross solar + fusion or solar + geothermal. A few add wind to the mix, but it's usually solar.


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And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future.


#7
Jakob

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We're going to run into a King's Chessboard here...



#8
Yuli Ban

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We're going to run into a King's Chessboard here...

Even the guy who created the graph (someone on the KurzweilAI forums) mentioned that we'd almost certainly slow down before we reached 4.5 terawatt-hours of solar capacity precisely because we'd have ended energy scarcity and met all our requirements. We'd still grow over it, but we'd not keep increasing solar capacity exponentially. 

 

Of course, whomever is responsible for such growth is going to grow very, very, very rich.

 

It's gonna be interesting to see the Left turn on the solar industry next decade.


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#9
Alice Tepes

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China is investing a butt-load in solar.

I generally don't support the Chinese government but this is a big step for them.

SolarGlobal2007V2.png

 

"China is the world's largest market for both photovoltaics and solar thermal energy. Since 2013 China has been the world's leading installer of solar photovoltaics. Solar PV in China is a growing industry with over 400 companies. In 2015, China became the world's largest producer of photovoltaic power, narrowly surpassing Germany.[1][2][3] By the end of 2016, total PV capacity had increased to over 77.4 GW.[4]Solar water heating is also extensively implemented, with a total installed capacity of 290 GWth at the end of 2014, representing about 70% of world's total installed solar thermal capacity."[5][6]

https://en.wikipedia..._power_in_China

aspiring gynoid macrointelligence






Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: Solar Power, Photovoltaics, Renewable Energy, Sun, Solar Cells, Batteries, Thermal Energy, Light Energy, Heat Energy

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