Tuesday, June 24, 2008

mckinsey: the economics of solar power

jun 24th, 2008

yet another reason why the proposed indo-us nuclear deal doesn't make sense. we should be putting that money into solar power, because the raw material is *free* and we have lots of it (see the chart: we are blessed with solar energy availability)! especially as oil creeps towards $200/barrel, solar is increasingly viable. we should be spending our billions on research into solar rather than on buying obsolete, dangerous nuclear fission devices to be then held hostage by australians and americans because we have no uranium.

indian planners have a tremendous failing: they never look out into the future, but only at the present and past. as they say about generals always fighting the previous far. the solutions they come up with only address the present, and so they are obsolete by the time they are actually implemented. they *must* look out 25 years and plan accordingly.

in this case, we have to imagine that there will be the requisite breakthroughs in solar, and plan to have our policies and infrastructure in place to move to solar power wherever it makes sense, eg. for residential power, with a backup connection to the grid for emergencies and to sell excess power back to the grid. it may not have sufficient energy intensity for some industrial applications, true, so you keep around conventional powerplants for that. but if electricity-powered cars become more popular and batteries and capacitors become more capacious, it would be possible to even charge your car by plugging it in at home during the night.

similarly with wind power. a friend of mine was describing micro wind-turbines that could sit atop apartment buildings, be built out of simple local materials like bicycle parts at low cost, and provide sufficient power (i forget how much, 10 mw or something) for most of the needs of that building.

oil is poison, because it has a) destroyed the equilibrium in the atmospheric co2 levels, b) created all those non-biodegradable plastics that have essentially ruined soils for agriculture all over the world. anything to get rid of oil is a good idea.