|Power production should go small scale|
|Written by Mahoney|
|Tuesday, 13 December 2011 16:15|
If you've ever watched a show on TV about green energy solutions you have inevitably heard someone say something along the lines of "A solar farm the size of X square miles in the empty desert of New Mexico could power the entire United States." Or maybe it's about wind turbines on mountain ranges, or wave generators off the coast, or cosmic x-ray alien things. Okay, I made that last one up, but the next thought is "Why don't we do that?"
Well there are a number of reasons. One is the obvious cost, no one who would want to do that has the money to do that. Second, when people make these statements they are not taking the power loss over distance into account.
A basic concept to people who work with electricity is that all materials have some resistance to electricity. Even metals have a, albeit very small, resistance to electrical current. What is negligible over your 100' extension cord is very noticeable over miles of power line. All that energy made in a solar farm in New Mexico has very little chance of effectively making it to Maine.
So for now that's why we have various power plants scattered all over the country. It's the easiest, and (according to people in the business of energy) the most economical way of producing power. So the simple counter solution is to say let's put solar panels and wind mills in every yard in America! Well, that has its problems as well.
Right now Solar energy is an investment that takes roughly 20 years or so to pay off. And it's a costly investment. A company has announced that they have produced solar cells that achieve a cost of of under $1 per watt, but they're not being mass manufactured yet. Wind energy is a great alternative since it can be cheaper to construct and doesn't rely on daylight hours, but some town laws may have problems with you erecting a giant tower and wind turbine in a suburban setting.
And pure Urban settings are pretty much screwed. There's just no room. So that coal, oil, or nuclear plant miles and miles away becomes all the more important. But that's not to say that nothing should be done. In fact, as much as possible should be done in order to conserve the fuel needed to drive these plants.
I'm by no means a communist hippie either. Energy executives will tout any amount of falsified or skewed information possible to deter people from home power solutions, but they are missing out on a true opportunity to make money in terms of installation and maintenance of multiple small power solutions. The economy is also missing out on what would be the creation of tens of thousands of jobs.
So I guess all we need to do is build a safe, highly reliable, aesthetically pleasing, cheaply manufactured home power solution that has the blessings of a global money driven energy industry. Right... nest week maybe? In the garage?