A Solar Scenario in Scientific American

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 28 Dec 2007 03:43:00 GMT

In A Solar Grand Plan (Scientific American January 2008), Ken Zweibel (NREL), James Mason (Solar Energy Campaign) and Vasilis Fthenakis (Brookhaven National Photovoltaic Environmental, Health and Safety Research Center) lay out a vision for replacing our fossil fuel-powered electricity production to solar energy. The editorial summary:
A massive switch from coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear power plants to solar power plants could supply 69 percent of the U.S.’s electricity and 35 percent of its total energy by 2050.

A vast area of photovoltaic cells would have to be erected in the Southwest. Excess daytime energy would be stored as compressed air in underground caverns to be tapped during nighttime hours.

Large solar concentrator power plants would be built as well.

A new direct-current power transmission backbone would deliver solar electricity across the country.

But $420 billion in subsidies from 2011 to 2050 would be required to fund the infrastructure and make it cost-competitive.

By way of contrast, the Friends of the Earth analysis finds that Lieberman-Warner (S. 2191) allocates approximately $800 billion in subsidies to the fossil fuel industry, with about $350 billion to subsidize carbon capture and sequestration specifically. About $350 billion is allocated to all sustainable technologies (wind, solar, biomass, geothermal).

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