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Super Large Scale Solar Totten Solar Today 06 05 Annotated

Super Large Scale Solar Totten Solar Today 06 05 Annotated

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Published by Michael P Totten
Solar Today magazine Sustainable Worldview Column by Michael P Totten, on Super Large-Scale Solar Opportunities. PublishedJune 2005.
Solar Today magazine Sustainable Worldview Column by Michael P Totten, on Super Large-Scale Solar Opportunities. PublishedJune 2005.

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Published by: Michael P Totten on Dec 31, 2008
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Solar TodaySustainable Worldview Column
Super Large-Scale Solar Opportunities
By Michael TottenMany news columnists and media commentators have taken lately to recommendingactions for mitigating climate instability driven by rising levels of greenhouse gasemissions. All too frequently the message is crafted in a stark contrast, concluding thatsolar photovoltaics are far too expensive and land expansive, while nuclear power alreadyis proven as a safe and affordable climate-friendly option.
1
 The reporters imply that the public’s preference for solar over nuclear by a 5 to 1 marginis misguided and policymakers should disregard this naïve public sentimentality. This isexactly what Congress and the Administration are doing in the recurring energylegislation, lavishing more subsidies and regulatory relaxation for revitalizing a moribundnuclear industry while grossly underfunding the promising opportunities of PV.For nuclear to displace all coal worldwide by 2100 would require constructing a 100 MWnuclear reactor
every 10 hours
for the entire century! The high nuclear fuel demandwould require reprocessing plutonium for use in breeder reactors by 2050, resulting insome 5 million kilograms of plutonium, the equivalent of 500,000 atomic bombs,annually circulating in global commerce. The majority of these reactors would be sitedin developing countries.
2
 It is inconceivable in a post 9/11 terrorist-threatened world, when Homeland Security andU.S. military tax expenditures exceed a trillion dollars every 30 months, and theAdministration issues veiled threats to invade Iran over its nuclear reactor program, thatanyone could advocate power plants that double as military targets and atom bombfactories.
1
See, for example: Gary Becker, The Nuclear Option,
Wall Street Journal
, May 15, 2005; GaryBecker, Nuclear Power: Has its Time Come (Again)?, May 1, 2005,
www.becker-posner-blog.com/archives/2005/05/ nuclear_power_h.html
; John Ritch, “The Key to Our Energy Future,”
Washington Post 
, April 26, 2005;Nicholas Kristof, “Nukes Are Green,”
 New York Times
, April 9, 2005; Thomas Friedman, “Geo-Greeningby Example,”
 New York Times
, March 27, 2005; and in relation to coal sequestration, Thomas Homer-Dixon and Friedmann,“Coal in a Nice Shade of Green”,
 New York Times
, March 25, 2005; Peter Huber &Mark Mills, “Why the U.S. Needs More Nuclear Power,”
City Journal
, Winter 2005,www.manhattan-institute.org/ ; Peter Schwartz and Spencer Reiss, How clean, green atomic energy can stop global warming,
WIRED
, Feb. 2005
,
www.wired.com/ 
;
Andrew Oswald & Jim Oswald, “The Arithmetic of RenewableEnergy,”
 Accountancy journal
, October 2004; Richard Meserve, “Global Warming and Nuclear Power,
Science
, V. 3, p. 303, January 23, 2005; Michael McCarthy, 'Lovelock: Only nuclear power can now haltglobal warming',
 Independent 
, May 24, 2004,
www.energybulletin.net/newswire.php?id=320.
 
2
Robert Williams,
 Nuclear and Alternative Energy Supply Options for an Environmentally Constrained World: A Long-Term Perspective
, April 2001, NCI Conference on “Nuclear Power and the Spread of Nuclear Weapons: Can We Have One Without the Other?”
 
 
Instead, 21
st
century energy systems should be uninteresting attack targets, and when theyfail, fail gracefully, not catastrophically. (According to congressional documents, a largereactor accident would cause $300 billion in damage).
3
And they certainly shouldn’t bedual-use civilian-military facilities that pose ever-present risks and threats. In sharpcontrast, PV power is the perfect 21
st
century energy system. Tellingly, a kilogram of silicon in a solar cell will generate as much electricity as a kilogram of radioactiveplutonium in a reactor, but not require millennia of storage protection againstcontamination at the end of its useful life.
4
 Readers of 
Solar Today
know that PV is not land limited. Even with today’s 10%efficient PV modules
all
of America’s annual electricity
and 
fuels consumption could begenerated on an area the same size as currently dedicated to US military bases (30 millionacres).
5
It also has been estimated that nearly 60% of U.S. electricity could be satisfiedthrough Building-Integrated Photovoltaic (BIPV) solar systems, which not only supplyelectricity but also serves as façade and cladding materials of the building, displacingcosts for polished stone or aluminum panels.
6
 Nor is the current high cost of PV a fixed reality. PV costs declined 60-fold since the1960s. To compete against all other sources of electricity will require an additional six-to 10-fold reduction. It is unimaginable that this will not be accomplished in theunfolding revolutionary era of nanotechnology, solid-state electronic innovations andbiomaterial advances.
7
 Indeed, one of the most exciting potential breakthroughs for dramatically lowering PVmanufacturing costs was detailed in the October 2004 NREL-sponsored study by HPengineer Marvin Keshner and former BP solar engineer Rajeev Arya.
8
The key toachieving competitive PV systems (i.e., $1 per Watt fully installed) is to use a similarcluster production model employed so successfully in achieving breakthrough costreductions and extraordinary productivity gains in Liquid Crystal Display (LCD)manufacturing.
3
Sandia National Lab report, 1982, released by U.S. Congressman Edward Markey, SubcommitteeChairman, Energy and Commerce Committee, in 1982$.
4
Robert Willams, Princeton Center for Energy & Environmental Studies, 1988
5
Larry Kazmerski,
Dispelling the 7 Myths of Solar Electricity
, 2001, National Renewable Energy Lab,www.nrel.gov/docs/fy01osti/30280.pdf .
6
Ken Zweibel,
PV as a Major Source of Global Electricity
, Feb. 24, 2004, National Renewable EnergyLab,www.nrel.gov/ncpv/thin_film/general.html.
7
Arthur J. Nozik,
Third Generation Solar Photon Conversion: High Efficiency through Multiple ExcitonGeneration in Quantum Dots
, presentation, Rice University, Energy & Nanotech Workshop, Oct. 17, 2004,http://cnst.rice.edu/conference_energy.cfm?doc_id=5168; Arthur J. Nozik,
 Advanced Concepts for Photovoltaic Cells
, Center for Basic Sciences, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Nation Center forPhotovoltaics (NCPV) and Solar Program Review Meeting 2003, NREL/CD-520-33586,www.nrel.gov/ncpv;
2003 Peer Review of the DOE Photovoltaic Subprogram
, September 2003,www.eere.doe.gov/ .
8
M.S. Keshner and R. Arya,
Study of Potential Reductions Resulting from Super-Large-Scale Manufacturing of PV Modules
, National Renewable Energy Lab Report NREL/SR-520-36846, October2004,http://www.nrel.gov/ncpv/thin_film/ .

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