If you're looking for the funniest stuff, I suggest starting with the Steve, Don't Eat It Homage and then the travel category. You're on your own with the older posts that have yet to be categorized.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

White Is The New Black

According to News.com, Jack Steinberger thinks wind energy is a waste of time compared to solar energy. His credentials for such a statement? He won a Nobel Prize in something other than solar/wind energy, he's a director at CERN of something other than solar/wind energy. Overall, he's a smart, old guy. If you think that qualifies him, you are probably not a smart, old guy.

The article got me thinking. Is solar energy really a good idea from the perspective of preventing/reducing global climate change? Let me play devil's advocate.

Let's say we're going to cover a part of the desert with cheap solar panels that are 10% efficient. Let's also assume they absorb 90% of the light that hits them. So, of the 100% of light that hits them, 10% becomes electicity which eventually turns into heat (in the powerlines, in a motor, in a lightbulb, etc.), 10% is reflected back up and 80% is absorbed by the panel and becomes heat right away.

The other possibility is that the light hits the desert. In this case how much light is reflected and how much absorbed? I don't know. 60/40? 70/30? Let's say 60% reflected about a third of which would be directly radiated to space NOT HEATING THE EARTH.

So, is it really a good idea to cover the desert with solar cells? Are people considering the lack of reflection in their analysis? Maybe we should be covering the ocean with solar cells. And I'll just note that all the big windmills I've seen are a nice reflective white.

If only Scott Adams would read this post. He'd understand my point.

By the way, my qualifications are that I'm a smart, middle-aged guy.

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