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Posts tagged “solar thermal”

By Robert Rapier on Dec 19, 2009 with no responses

German Robot Pigs

“What I need for this project”, I explained to my young son, “is an army of German robot pigs.” His eyes went wide. “And I know just where to get them…” I have a project on my desk right now to look at avenues of disposal for sewage sludge in a specific location. There are lots of things you can do with sewage sludge, but it is obviously dependent on a number of factors. There are places where farmers spread it on their fields, there are places where it is incinerated, and there are places that it is land-filled. And there are other options beyond that. In order to utilize sludge for energy, the water content is obviously critical. Too… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Aug 8, 2009 with no responses

Running the Electric Grid with eSolar

As I often do on a Saturday morning, I was up early reading through energy headlines. I happened across this story on eSolar: Bill Gross’s Solar Breakthrough “We are producing the lowest cost solar electrons in the history of the world,” Bill Gross is telling me. “Nobody’s ever done it. Nobody’s close.” “We have a cost-effective, no-subsidy solar power solution and it’s for sale, anywhere around the world,” he says. The article was intriguing, and inevitably led me back to eSolar’s website to get a better idea of whether the claims appear to have merit. There, I watched the slide show on the technology, and caught this bit: A single unit generates 46 MW of clean electricity on a footprint… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Jun 12, 2009 with 1 response

Solar Stories

A couple of interesting solar stories this morning, as well as a new blog covering solar power. First, the new solar-focused blog by Paul Symanski. Paul has experience in the solar industry, and many of his early entries are concerned with solar energy economics: Rate Crimes – Bringing Transparency to the Economics of Solar Energy From Paul’s first entry in May – There is No More Important Energy – he writes: The Rate Crimes conversation centers on solar electric energy because of its importance to the future of our society: a society that is defined by electric energy as much as by the fuels that currently provide us mobility. Solar electric energy has myriad advantages over the traditional fuels that… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Dec 29, 2008 with no responses

Final Comments on Solar Posts

I am going to be offline for a few more days, enjoying some time with the family. In the interim, Tom Standing has sent some detailed replies to some of the comments following his posts Arizona Solar Power Project and Ambitious Solar Plans in France. —————————— Here is some additional material in response to a few of the comments that were submitted regarding my essays on the solar project in Arizona and the solar plan for France. First is a general comment about my intent with the two essays. I am merely attempting to contribute some hard-edged reality to many solar proposals that do not seem to have been adequately appraised through the conceptual engineering process. The value and scale… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Dec 22, 2008 with 8 responses

Ambitious Solar Plans in France; Solar Capacity Factors

The following guest post was written by Tom Standing, a “semi-retired, part-time civil engineer for the City of San Francisco.” In Part 1, Tom took a critical look at a 280 MW solar thermal plant in Arizona. Here in Part 2, Tom examines France’s ambitious solar plans. ——————— The December 1 issue of the Oil and Gas Journal carried a “Quick Take” article about France’s “national plan for renewable energies” that they unveiled on November 17. Their plan includes all the popular ideas for alternative energy: biomass, wind, hydro, waves and tides, with a major emphasis on solar. For now France has 13 megawatts of installed capacity in solar, but the energy minister wants solar to be a whopping 5,400… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Dec 20, 2008 with 1 response

Arizona Solar Power Project, Calculations

The following guest post was written by Tom Standing, a “semi-retired, part-time civil engineer for the City of San Francisco.” In Part 1, Tom takes on the calculations for a 280 MW solar thermal plant in Arizona that I looked at back in February. My conclusion from that essay was that the electrical demands of the U.S. could in theory be met on 10,000 square miles of land. Tom peels the onion a few more layers and puts the energy production into perspective. While solar calculations are by no means second nature to me, I see no obvious errors in Tom’s calculations. But I consider peer review to be a very useful component of my blog, and I know that… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Dec 1, 2008 with no responses

The Solar Thermal Option

I apologize for being out of pocket lately, and that trend is going to continue at least through this week. I have a staff meeting all week, and then I fly back to Europe next Monday. So, my posting will be sporadic until then. I do appreciate everyone keeping the comments civil in my absence, as it makes for much more productive discussions. However, I want to call your attention to a new website that discussed solar thermal in depth. The site just went live, and the topic is covered in detail. The site is: I have always found the prospect of solar energy very attractive. In fact, I once accidentally started a fire while playing around with solar… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Aug 15, 2008 with no responses

Massive Solar PV Deal

Sorry for the lack of postings/comments in the past few days. I have been traveling, and just arrived back in the U.S. I have lots of things to catch up on (family time, among the most important) and I have to prepare my presentations for the ASPO conference (I will be presenting on “Biofuels” and on “Tracking Public Data” such as EIA and IEA numbers). I also have a staff meeting the first week of September. My posting frequency in the next 30 days or so is likely to drop down to 1 or 2 a week, and then should go back to normal following ASPO which begins September 21st. In the meantime, there was a major energy story yesterday… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on May 12, 2008 with 13 responses

Replacing Gasoline with Solar Power

Executive Summary If you don’t want to run through the calculations, here is the summary. I attempted a thought experiment in which I calculated whether it would be feasible to use solar power to generate enough energy to offset all U.S. gasoline consumption. My conclusion is that it will take about 444,000 megawatts of electrical generating capacity. Current U.S. generating capacity is over 900,000 megawatts, but there isn’t a whole lot of spare capacity in that number. To generate 444,000 megawatts with solar PV would require just under 1,300 square miles (a 36 mile by 36 mile square) of just PV surface area. To generate that much power with solar thermal – including supporting infrastructure – would require 4,719 square… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Apr 30, 2008 with no responses

How to Change the World

Fortune has a very interesting interview with Google co-founder Larry Page. He hits on a lot of topics that are frequently discussed here, and some that aren’t often discussed, but that I have spent a lot of time thinking about (e.g., geothermal). Here is a link to the interview: Larry Page on how to change the world And some energy-specific excerpts: Do you have other examples where innovative leadership could move the needle? I think there are a lot of areas. You can be a bit of a detective and ask, What are the industries where things haven’t changed much in 50 years? We’ve been looking a little at geothermal power. And you start thinking about it, and you say,… Continue»