#1 and #2 are similar. Don’t do anything about it. #3 requires society to radically change. #1 people don’t want this change. #2 people probably think #3 can work, but not without total anarchy first. Not a smooth transition. #3a people are anti-technology and think that we should go back to the way things were before technology. #3b people (like me), think that technology will stay; we just have to prioritize things so the energy is used to make the food chain work first. #4 people… You don’t hear much about them. This might be in the back of the mind of a majority of the population. People hiding as #1 people, but are really #4. #3a people are totally against #4. #3b people (like me), think that #4, even if it did work, might be a bad thing.
I should say that even though I'm a #3b person, I think #4 could be great if we can not get carried away with it and create more problems. But just waiting for #4 is taking a big risk.
The interesting thing here is that only the #3 people really want a change. #2 people prepare, but just hang on. #1 people don't want any change and #4 people are just working the fusion/technology issues.
So, as a #3b person, here is a solar proposal.
Baldock Solar Array produces 1.97 million kWh annually.
Solar Panels: Solar World in Hillsboro
Inverters: Advanced Energy of Bend
It uses 6,994 panels.
It cost $10 million to build this 1.75 Megawatt project.
I used 1144 kWh this month. Over a year, that is approximately 14,000 kWh. 1.97 million kWh divided by 14,000 is 140 residential homes powered 24/7 365 days a year. In 2015, there are approximately 125 million households in the United States . At an average of $20/month tax per household, that is 30 billion dollars a year. That could build 3,000 arrays a year (theoretically). This is an average of 60 per state. 3,000 arrays would power 420,000 residences a year. 40 years of producing panels at this rate would power 16.8 million residences which is 13% of all residential electricity, if everyone used power like I do at home. That would be a total of 120,000 projects like Baldock.
That is a lot of panels. Dividing the day by 2 (sunlight hours), we get 26% of our residential electricity during daylight hours. Of course this doesn’t account for solar vehicles since I don’t have one and am basing usage with my own usage. My 1144 kWh of electricity this month cost me about $200, about my highest bill of the year. That was for November 2016. My house uses gas heating, but the squirrel cage fan in the furnace takes up quite a lot of power. At 40 years, it might become a replacing game instead of adding more panels. I’ve heard there is a 40 year life on them. It seems like they would last longer. I don’t know why you would destroy anything that is bringing power for free. It would be a monumental, ongoing effort. Would it be worth it? Is the only real alternative praying for fusion power to pan out? $20/month/household is not insignificant, but is doable. What is the offset for the energy/resources used during manufacturing? I didn’t do that research here. The last time I did research, I saw a number of solar panels using 7% resources compared to resources used for conventional power. Most of the effort is human power. Putting these things together; Assembly.
That is a lot of panels, a lot of time and effort, and still not nearly the amount of power we are used to. We could use it to power the food grid. Solar along the highways to transport food. Electric farm equipment. There would be next to no power for residential uses. Of course we would still have hydro-electric. And fission and fossil fuel won't end all at once. But you can see that society would have to change a lot to make this happen. And if fusion power comes on line, then all of this solar is literally turned to junk on the side of the road. But if fusion doesn't work out, this can save a lot of lives. Our lives would be changed, but it can work and we might be just as happy with our new reality.
I really have to believe that most of the skeptics are actually optimistic people who think that fusion will work out. That technology will save the day and keep our modern industrial world moving along. And all we have to do is not freak out. Now, when you put it like that, the skeptics are actually humanized. Not people with their head in the sand. There is a real argument for the skeptic/space-age point of view. The only real problem with it is the risk. If fusion doesn't work out, then we inherit the doomer world.
The problem with this is that the world can't possibly transition smoothly. Our cities simply don't work without our oil driven food chain. Even #3b will be a problem without chemical fertilizers. A lot of these people think that technology screwed up the world and we should get rid of it. I'm not so sure. Building a house with a hand saw doesn't sound like fun to me. There is a common thread that ties the #3 people together and that is changing to a different way of life. As a #3b person, I think it would be great if we can keep the food grid going. Having all food be local is a hard sell for me. If we can use solar power to make a functioning food grid, then we can have a perfect marriage of old and new. Still, some people say to throw the technology out.
So, is #3b even sustainable? How much oil do we need to build these panels? Not sure, but a problem like that could be the last straw in the debate.
France is heavily invested in fission and China is headed that way. There is still a lot of fission in the US, but it seems like we are abandoning it. It almost looks like South and North America have no backup power plan at all, and North America uses the most power.
I think Hubbert's Peak Oil Theory is still true and that by using fracking we are gulping the down side of the bell curve instead of sipping it the whole way down. This could turn into a disaster. This is just my theory though. Some research is saying there is still plenty of oil in the ground. Then people say that we'll destroy the planet long before we run out of oil.
Fusion power is always 30 years away, so the saying goes. We've been trying to crack this nut for a while. You can see that we are making progress, but man, heating matter to a half billion degrees celcius or whatever it is. Who knows how it is going to wind up. We could end up doing it but then find out that it just isn't very efficient to build on a massive scale.
Germany is heavily invested in solar. They say that their electricity bills are out of control. Still, I don't think this is the whole story. At least they have a post fossil fuel energy. Money isn't everything. China is the leader in solar power though and has been putting a heavy investment in fission the last few years.