Thursday, April 05, 2007

Solar vs Nuclear Energy in Hawaii

Michael R. Fox Ph.D. for Hawaii Reporter debates the topic but finds solar doesn't have the answers:

In response to a recent article I wrote about nuclear energy - "Why Not Nuclear Energy in Hawaii?" - an advocate with a United Kingdom (UK) email address pushed his preference for a solar facility as an energy source for Hawaii.

One of the areas he questioned was: “If there is space and flat land in Hawaii sufficient to build nuclear power stations, (given that you probably wouldn't want to put them too close to human habitation) isn't there probably enough space and flat land to build a CSP plant (Concentrating Solar Power) to harvest the rays of the sun and turn them into carbon free electricity?”

Sound familiar? Looks like Mr. Fox was spammed by Gerry Wolff whom we and many other bloggers have been spammed by as well. Needless to say Mr. Fox wasn't impressed and had these thoughts on the technology.

This author spent many years of professional experience in the world of engineering development. It will make most engineers highly skeptical and highly demanding of any new technology. Solar technology is certainly one of these.

Without engineering, performance, life cycle, and cost analyses involving full scale commercial equipment and technology, no serious engineering evaluations can be made. This is the template we all should use when someone promotes any alternative energy source such as this.

Too often we see enthusiasts promote these technologies without these crucial backup analyses. In this case the Solar Concentrating Power facility fails all of these tests. In fact the actual analyses are nearly impossible to find, if they exist at all. This calls into question the motives of the promoters who don’t provide such analyses.

My response: I am surprised that someone still supports this technology, especially from someone in the UK, where sunshine is a true daytime treat. In am reminded of an article in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists decades ago, entitled "Solar Sweden." Sweden is one of those nations in the land of the midnight sun and 6 months of darkness. As a reminder, darkness spells trouble for a solar facility.

I personally am a fan of solar especially after growing up in Arizona but it still has a long way to go.

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