Feeds

Globo-renewables all electric future touted again

Still requires population freeze + universal poverty

High performance access to file storage

You and your street need to pay for an acre of solar cells every five years. Forever.

Let's also trust that in the electric future, the global all-electric European will require only 31 MWh/year rather than 46 MWh/year in line with Jacobson's ideas.

That means global energy demand of 217 PWh, more than double what the enviro-profs suggest - and that's without any population increase.

And the costs will be enormous - ironically, given that this is a sustainability plan, one might say unsustainably so. There will need to be an enormous 100m-tall wind turbine in operation - or an equivalent 6-acre array of typical solar cells - for every 150 people alive, no matter how many or how few of them there might be. That means, probably, one such facility for every 30-odd couples of what we now consider to be working age.

Wind turbines last 20 years; solar cells 30, perhaps. Every few dozen families alive will need to pay enough on their electricity bills to buy several acres of new solar cells (think US$10m) or a new cathedral-sized wind tower every two decades. Most of us find it quite hard work paying for a comparatively cheap little house on that sort of timescale.

These globo-Europeans of the renewable/electric tomorrow may be almost wealthy - well, not grindingly poor, anyway - in terms of energy use: but they aren't going to be rich in terms of disposable income, that's for sure. Their energy bills - paid partly on the bill and partly in the form of increased prices for everything that uses energy (eg food) are going to make their mortgages look small.

And this is just the beginning. Jacobson and Delucci are overjoyed to note that the necessary millions upon millions of windmills and sun-farms would - in their view - cover a mere three per cent-odd of the world's land surface, given a fair deal for seven billion people. But this will not be land surface which is currently served by the electrical grid - or even, in many cases, by any existing roads, rails or even dirt tracks.

Even the two profs admit that "expanding the transmission grid would be critical", and if pressed they'd probably admit the need for a lot of new road and rail as well. Remember, too, that we have just driven the price of concrete and steel - of construction in general - up, by an eyewatering amount.

And the new grid will need to be a hell of a lot better and bigger and more expensive than the current one. Large areas of the world suffer from days-long calms, so much as to make their windfarms actually consume energy rather than produce any. This, inconveniently, tends to happen in at least some cases during midwinter evenings, when solar is also doing little across such a region.

"Given the inherent variability of wind speed and sunshine, can these sources consistently produce enough power? The answer is yes," say the profs.

Perhaps: but you'll have to move huge amounts of power across continents almost instantly. The sun-farms of the Sahara will have to stand ready to power northwestern Europe as well as the future, Euro-level developed Africa - both at once. The wind farms of the north will have to be able to return the favour as required.

So increase the number of sun-farms and windmills, actually: redundancy will surely be required. Add the expense of a global hypergrid able to transmit terawatts across continents or oceans at the flicker of a needle. Plus the expense of covering the Sahara and such places with roads and rails the way European and US farmland now has them. No roads means no powerplants.

This isn't going to make your mortgage look small; it's going to make it look tiny.

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
Solar-powered aircraft unveiled for round-the-world flight
It's going to be a slow and sleepy flight for the pilots
Russian deputy PM: 'We are coming to the Moon FOREVER'
Plans to annex Earth's satellite with permanent base by 2030
LOHAN's Punch and Judy show relaunches Thursday
Weather looking good for second pop at test flights
Saturn spotted spawning new FEMTO-MOON
Icy 'Peggy' looks to be leaving the outer rings
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
India's GPS alternative launches second satellite
Closed satnav system due to have all seven birds aloft by 2016
Curiosity finds not-very-Australian-shaped rock on Mars
File under 'messianic pastries' and move on, people
Top Secret US payload launched into space successfully
Clandestine NRO spacecraft sets off on its unknown mission
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.