Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Earth - Solar Technologies and Countries

Everything alive on Planet Earth is exposed to the Sun. Sun radiation is everywhere, more near the equators less near the poles. Instead of looking downward into coal mines and crude oil drilling sites we better look upward to the Sun.

Although it is a well known fact that the Sun can provide all our energy needs, the shift toward renewable energy resources is at the very beginning. It will take time for the process to accelerate, we are still heavily invested in electrical Power Plants working on coal, crude oil and gas, we still have hundreds of millions of cars with internal combustion engine and fossils are still cheaper than solar power.

What we need is the right combination of green oriented political forces and the technology development of simpler more cost effective solar systems. Politics is driven by the will of aware people; technology is driven by scientists and engineers. Automated mass production, using cheaper than Silicon materials and Concentrated Solar will eventually lead to price reduction of Photovoltaic systems.

Earth Solar Power Plants Technologies
The most appropriate locations for Solar Power Plants are in desert areas. A Solar Power Plant is sitting on a relatively large piece of land and it requires lots of Sun radiation. Desert land is cheaper, doesn't have many other land usage alternatives and inherently gets a lot of solar radiation while cloudy days are rare. The two competing technologies are:

  • Photovoltaic Power Plants
  • Heating Water to get high pressure high temperature steam to drive electrical production turbines
Sun is the power behind winds and wind turbines farms are becoming a viable solution for large scale electricity production. The turbines are becoming larger in capacity (1 Megawatt and more), the towers are becoming taller and the cost become cheaper. Again, desert and arid areas with adequate wind flows are good locations. The Wind Farms sites are usually scrutinized by environmentalists and regulators to make sure they don't interfere with unique landscape features and that they don't interfere with bird migration habits and air traffic.

Solar power plants and wind turbine farms are by nature remote from the population centers, the actual consumers. This imposes added operational cost and increases the energy distribution losses due to long power lines

In attempt to get closer to the consumers, residential scale and medium scale "power plants" are available to home owners, small business buildings and suburban communities. To list a few:

  • Residential Photovoltaic Systems; a lot of research is done to reduce the price of these systems (cheaper materials, automated production lines, mass production volume)
  • Solar thermal water heaters and space heaters
  • Rural areas and off grid small wind turbines
  • Community Wind Turbines
Earth Solar Countries
World Solar development is observed everywhere. Solar Countries are countries that have awareness to solar, have proportionally to their population size a noticeable solar electric and solar thermal production capacity and that are leaders in solar and/or wind technologies.

I will eventually add a page for each of these Solar countries, so if you return in a couple of months to my site, it is highly probable you find the full list.

  • South Pacific: Australia
  • Europe: Denmark, the wind turbines leader
  • Europe: Germany
  • Middle East: Israel
  • Europe: United Kingdom
  • Europe: Spain
  • America: United States
  • Emerging Asia Solar Countries: China, South Korea

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