Sunday, February 17, 2008

Scientific American: A Solar Grand Plan

Ken Zweibel, James Mason and Vasilis Fthenakis sketch out a grand plan for US energy policy up to 2050 in this weeks Scientific American.

The cost is aptly summed up by Grist:





"A third of our military budget could cure our carbon addiction."
Sounds good to me, a safer world from military agression and climate change. The 'Key Concepts' of this plan include:

  • A massive switch from coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear power plants to solar power plants could supply 69 percent of the U.S.’s electricity and 35 percent of its total energy by 2050.

  • A vast area of photovoltaic cells would have to be erected in the Southwest. Excess daytime energy would be stored as compressed air in underground caverns to be tapped during nighttime hours.

  • Large solar concentrator power plants would be built as well.

A new direct-current power transmission backbone would deliver solar electricity across the country.


But $420 billion in subsidies from 2011 to 2050 would be required to fund the infrastructure and make it cost-competitive.

The fact that this plan is out their is, i think, a very good thing. The more people putting forward a bold energy vision the better! We need people who think about energy to be thinking big. This sector has R&D bellow .5% of revenue and has amongst the lowest competition of any sector, every day it is becoming more and more obvious that things are about to change.

Related:

A Grand Solar Plan (PDF)
Climate Change Action energy and efficiency posts.

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