Re: photochemical advance

From: Robert J. Bradbury (
Date: Tue Dec 11 2001 - 00:33:19 MST

On Mon, 10 Dec 2001, Mike Lorrey wrote:

> As I recall, his proposals were dependent upon a far higher efficiency
> than those being discussed (.88-8%). As Spike as previously
> demonstrated, if we used the entirety of our arable land to produce
> methanol (rather than food to feed ourselves), this would supply at best
> 30% of our energy needs (while we starve).

Huh? I hate to be a killjoy here (potential puns abound) but I've
got a partially finished paper (that both Spike and Hal have seen
calculations related to) that suggests a small fraction of the State
of Texas can eliminate our dependence on foreign oil.

> Thus, solar collectors in this efficiency range, as the foundation
> of an energy infrastructure, are indeed a 'stupid idea'.

No, not, nada, zip. Unless there is some very wide gap between
our oil usage and our total energy requirements this assertion
does not make sense. We need to stop handwaving here and work
with actual numbers/citations.

> Even at the 30% efficiencies of the best man made solar panels, this
> would require that 10% of our arable land be occupied by solar collectors,
> something which I am positive would trigger an enormous Luddite/NIMBY
> backlash so as to make the Inquisition seem like mere cliquishness.
> Earth based solar collection infrastructure is a stupid idea.

Mike, I don't disagree with your conclusions if they are based
upon "realities". I fear however that there may be some distance
between the assumptions and conclusions. One thing, I believe
pointed out by others, is that there is a crucial difference
between "arable land" and "energy harvestable" land. There is
a fair amount of land that is non-arable (or depletably arable
due to fresh water constraints) that can be easily utilized
with solar (non-water based) technologies or less easily utilized
with solar/salt-water based hydrogen or methane production.

I think we should leave the jury in recess until we have some
more hard data that we all generally agree upon.


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