The efficiency of solar

2007-12-04

in Science, The environment, Travel

Robert Rapier, petroleum expert, and Steve Heckeroth, writing for Mother Earth News, agree that solar power is the future.

Based on their calculations, the overall efficiency of biomass “from sun to wheel” is between 0.01% and 0.05%. By contrast, charging electric vehicles using solar power can produce efficiencies of 3% to 20% on the same metric. Electric drivetrains are also “5 to 10 times more efficient than internal combustion engines.” Even if power from conventional fuels is charging the vehicles, overall emissions are likely to be lower. It is also much easier to sequester greenhouse gas emissions from big power plants than to do the same thing with car exhaust.

If you insist on maintaining a car-based society, basing it around electric vehicles charged using renewable energy or fossil fuel generation with sequestration seems to be the way to go. Hybrids are only a minor improvement and hydrogen fuel cells are a non-starter.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Milan December 3, 2007 at 4:39 pm
R.K. December 5, 2007 at 11:11 am

“If you insist on maintaining a car-based society”

People will, as you explain here.

S Venkataraman December 6, 2007 at 11:41 pm

Solar energy will be the ultimate source of renewable energy as we are blessed with sunlight for 10 hours a day. Solar energy if transmitted to activate inbuilt generator in a car would be ideal enough to store power as it acts as a reservoir in times of nee, especially, during night hours or cloudy days.

It is suggested that R&D on an extensive scale may be undertaken to bring out success on solar energy and motor linked to generator. The above would be an inexpensive phenomenon to the general public and would go a long way to mitigate the bad effects on account of global warming. This would also help to bale out the automotive industry from huge downturn due to the current turmoil created due to oil pricing.

with regards

s venkataraman

. May 6, 2008 at 9:46 am

It bears repeating: PV lifecycle emissions low, and falling

By Tyler on Main Page

This research was reported back in February, but it was profiled again in a European Commission newsletter this month. It bears repeating, if only because there’s a lot of misinformation going around about how the energy that goes into producing solar panels isn’t much less than the lifetime energy you get out of it (claims I often hear — surprise, surprise — from proponents of nuclear and clean coal plants).

. March 12, 2009 at 12:24 pm

Easy-To-Use Panels Let City Dwellers Go Solar
by Emily Gertz

Published March 11, 2009 @ 06:59PM PST

Cheapish, pretty, and plug-and-play: What’s not to love about these petal-shaped solar panels from Portland (OR)-and-Oakland based Veranda Solar? While they use no revolutionary new materials or technology, the panels fold flat for easy shipping, have an attractive design, and can be installed in an afternoon by any homeowner or renter who knows how to wield a screwdriver.

At about 24 inches wide, a Veranda solar panel can easily hang off a balcony or out a window, and generates 60-70 watts of power. Individual Veranda panels snap together, letting owners expand the array as they want and can afford to, and take it with them when they move.

It expects a system package — including a panel, an inverter, and cables — to start at $600, and solo panels to cost $400. Sounds expensive? Well, a 32 gigabyte iPod Touch costs $399 — putting the Veranda solar panel (which is just as huggable design-wise as an iPod Touch) well within the range of common and popular consumer electronics.

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