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Sultan of Solar Singin' My Song

Check out this article in the American Enterprise Online. In it, William Tucker intereviews Larry Kamerski of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado. Kamerski is director of photovoltaic research and one of the world’s leading experts on solar electricity.

When Tucker asked Kamerski what he thinks the "ultimate solution" will be, he was surprised and delighted by the answer. Kamerski said:
You’re probably not going to believe this...but around here we think it should be nuclear and solar. We’re big nuclear enthusiasts, although we don’t broadcast it much. I think we need nuclear to cover our base load of electricity and solar for peaking power. Solar’s best right when we need it—on hot summer days. If we do that, we can retire the fossil fuels—‘conserve’ them at least. It’s the only way we’re going to beat global warming
I'm not certain about solar being the best peaking source, but hey, I'm all for it if he can do it. He also has some interesting things to say about solar power in Europe.

Maybe we should enlist Kamerski's help in convincing the environmentalist groups that insist we can't have renewable energy and nuclear power that they are dead wrong.


Starvid, Sweden said…
Solar is good for peaking power, albeit rather expensive. But considering the price of natural gas in North America nowadays...

Granted, nuclear energy could relieve all the base load power natural gas is now used for.

But you need peaking power and there are only a few alternatives. Natural gas is good because it is so easy to turn on and off. But it emitts CO2 and as far as I am concerned it should be banned by law.

Hydroelectricty also work, but the number of sites are limited.

Pumped hydro works but is expensive. Also large parts of the world (including parts of the the US) are rather arid and you can't have lots of water just lying around for pumping.

The third is solar. It should work excellent, as peak load is often at the same time as the sun shines most intensly.

You can't run nuclear power for peaking power as you need to maximize reactor capacity factors to make good profits.
Anonymous said…
I have always thought the very cleanest of clean environments would result from the combination of nuclear for filling the constant portion of the demand curve, and solar/wind for filling the peaks, if we can solve the storage problem, since we all know the wind may not always be blowing or the sun not always shining when we need the energy produced from those sources.

The view on conserving petroleum and natural gas for other energy demands or other finished materials is right on. NG is a readily transportable fuel well-matched to end uses like space heating and cooking. There are just so many other uses for petrochemicals in a modern industrial society that it seems almost a crime to be burning them up.
I should have said I wasn't sure that solar was the *best* for peaking units--editing now!
Anonymous said…
If we assume that solar energy (or wind for that matter) will be used for meeting peaking demand, we need to store the electricity produced when the sun shines (or wind blows). What options do we have for storing electricity? I only know about chemical batteries. What is their impact on the environment? Are there other options?

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