On the viability of solar power

So yesterday was the first Mid Year Gathering of NEYM, and it went pretty well overall. I’ll have more to say about it later, but for now I wanted to address one thing that came up in a discussion I held on possibilities for the future.

The issue raised was so-called inconsistency of solar and wind compared to fossil fuel and nuclear power. There are a number of problems with this bit of “common knowledge”, ranging from the myth of base-load power, and the fact that there’s no way to anticipate a coal or nuclear plant failure, but I wanted to point out a different thing for this – a solar plant capable of generating power 24 hours per day. 

Spain Solar Thermal Plant

This power plant uses mirrors to concentrate up to 1652 degrees Fahrenheit on the central tower, and molten salt that can be heated to 932 degrees Fahrenheit to store that heat and use it to generate power overnight. The average power generation comes to 20 hours per day, since it’s less in the winter when the sun is weaker, and it’s constant in the summer when the sun is at its strongest.

This is especially notable because the summer is going to be a time of ever-increasing energy costs over the course of this century as temperatures continue to rise, and air conditioning becomes essential for survival for more and more people.

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