Monday, April 22, 2013

Can do, but will do??

Mark Jacobson of Stanford University has been a strong proponent of renewable energy. In 2009 he showed how the world could get all its energy from wind, solar and water. He calculated just how many hydroelectric dams, wave-energy systems, wind turbines, solar power plants and rooftop photovoltaic installations the world would need to run itself completely on renewable energy.

This time Jacobson has showed in much finer detail how New York State’s residential, transportation, industrial, and heating and cooling sectors could all be powered by wind, water and sun, or “WWS,” as he calls it. His mix: 40 percent offshore wind (12,700 turbines), 10 percent onshore wind (4,020 turbines), 10 percent concentrated solar panels (387 power plants), 10 percent photovoltaic cells (828 facilities), 6 percent residential solar (five million rooftops), 12 percent government and commercial solar (500,000 rooftops), 5 percent geothermal (36 plants), 5.5 percent hydroelectric (6.6 large facilities), 1 percent tidal energy (2,600 turbines) and 0.5 percent wave energy (1,910 devices).

In the process, New York would reduce power demand by 37 percent, largely because the new energy sources are more efficient than the old ones. To the old doubts about intermittency of renewables, he believes that if you get the [power] transmission grid right you don’t need a whole lot of storage. By combining wind and solar and geothermal and hydroelectric, you can match the power demand. And if you oversize the grid, when you’re producing extra electricity you use it to produce hydrogen [for fuel-cell vehicles and ships as well as some district heating and industrial processes]. You can also spread the peak demand by giving financial incentives!
There may be any number of possibilities, but does that mean there are takers? Especially in a world comfortable with burning fossil fuels!

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