More Solar Power Wanted ASAP

from the sun-ra dept

A new report put out by the US petroleum industry warns that conventional energy sources will not be able to keep up with rising demand over the next 25 years. As such, the high energy prices that we're seeing today could stick around. Stark warnings such as this one aren't particularly uncommon, although not all studies are so pessimistic. Still, it's forecasts like this that are driving the high level of investment into alternative energy. However, despite all of the enthusiasm over it, solar energy isn't even close to moving the needle in terms of global (or national) energy consumption. Even the optimistic forecasts call for it to supply 2-3% of US energy use 25 years from now. The caveat is that if there are some major breakthroughs in solar technology, it could take off much more rapidly. Considering how much investment there is into the space, some breakthroughs are likely. It's also worth bearing in mind that these forecasts aren't set in stone by any means. Forecasting anything remains an inexact, if not counterproductive, science. But as long as energy is expensive, as it is today, companies and investors will look for ways to bring more of it to market.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    dorpus, Jul 16th, 2007 @ 8:13am

    Scare Talk

    What if we are in fact awash in oil, and the oil industry is just keeping up its rhetoric of "running out of oil in 25 years" -- as they have since the 19th century?

    What's wrong with global warming, anyway? Will anyone really miss cities like NYC or Miami? Will we have fewer snowstorms that kill people? Awww.

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    Wolfger, Jul 16th, 2007 @ 8:49am

    Re: Scare Talk

    dorkus,
    while you make one (1) valid point, that fewer people will die in snowstorms, you ignore that more people will die of heat stroke (which is generally a better killer than snowstorms to begin with), the claim (possibly unfounded) that with global warming will come an increase in hurricanes, and the massive flooding of coastal regions.
    http://resumbrae.com/archive/warming/100meter.html
    While you may not care about anybody other than you, think about the impact of all these millions of people RELOCATING when their city goes underwater. And I'm going to give them your address.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Chronno S. Trigger, Jul 16th, 2007 @ 8:50am

    Re: Scare Talk

    You do realise that if the polar caps melt, the only land that will be left is the top of the Himalayan mountains. Granted I don't know where you live but I doubt that you live there.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Sean, Jul 16th, 2007 @ 8:50am

    Re: Scare Talk

    "Will anyone really miss cities like NYC or Miami?"

    Those cities will still be usefull as attractions for scuba divers

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Medbob, Jul 16th, 2007 @ 9:01am

    Re: Re: Scare Talk

    I'd like to see the scientific data on that.
    What is the total mass of the polar ice that exists above the water?
    What is the mass of polar ice that exists below the water line?
    What is the factor used to account for the fact that water has an increased volume when frozen? (Ice Floats)

    What is the total volume of space between the existing sea level (average... I'll cut you a break), and within 500 feet of the tops of the Himalayan mountains?

    You may begin your simple addition and subtraction now.
    This WILL be for a grade....

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    me, Jul 16th, 2007 @ 9:18am

    Re: Re: Re: Scare Talk

    weather runs in cycles.

    the 1930's was the epitome of "global warming" scare talk, yet the world didn't end.


    Sure we can fuck up parts of the earth with pollution, but it's just to big of a mass for us to totally break it.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Overcast, Jul 16th, 2007 @ 9:24am

    in the 70's "Global Cooling" was the cool thing for kids - quite trendy too.

    Whatever happened to the good 'ol days - where we were scared by another ice age?

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    niftyswell, Jul 16th, 2007 @ 9:28am

    factors not included

    What are the assumptions in this statement from the oil companies? That energy consumption is similar to today's? Cars get better gas mileage, televisions (particularly LCD's) use substantially less electricity, homes heat and cool more efficiently, and a lot of our productions is moving offshore where massive energy needs become their problem...meanwhile last I heard there was enough coal if gasified to last us 400 years, enough oil in Shale to account for 10 times all the reserves the Saudis have, and plenty of oil still being extracted from the tar sands in Canada to last us 50 years...this doesnt even touch the fact that many of the oil wells thought to be tapped out in years past mysteriously are producing oil again when revisited. The oil scare is justification for raising prices and believe it or not expensive alternative energy helps the oil companies justify charging even more for oil that costs only 2 bucks a barrel to pump out of the sand. The Sheeple will believe anything from glo bull warming to glo bull cooling, that turning food(corn) into energy is smart even if it causes three times the pollution while producing half the gross energy of oil-it takes a lot of oil to grow and transport, and distill that stuff, from being told landfill space is disappearing to being told the earth is over populated...only a few manage to open their minds and realize they are being scared for their money and votes.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    comboman, Jul 16th, 2007 @ 9:45am

    Re: Re: Re: Scare Talk

    Melting every bit of sea ice will not raise global sea level an inch. Want proof? Take a glass; throw in some ice cubes; fill the rest with water right up to the rim; wait for the ice to melt. Does water run over the sides? No. Water takes up more space in it's frozen form than in liquid form (which is why it floats). The ratio of the amount of ice that floats above the water to bellow the water is the same as the ratio of displacement of ice versus water.

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased), Jul 16th, 2007 @ 9:53am

    Too informed

    You people putting comments on Techdirt are too informed and smart. You should blindly believe what is told you by the liberal media about global warming and the conservative right about the energy crisis. Please stop thinking!!!
    Sincerely,
    George W. Bush
    Al Gore

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 16th, 2007 @ 10:02am

    Melting every bit of sea ice will not raise global sea level an inch.


    Comboman, you're right in that throwing ice in a glass of water will not raise the water level when it melts, this also holds for the ice mass that sits in water. However when discussing the earth you're neglecting the amount of polar (and non-polar) ice that does NOT sit in water. A prime example of this is Antartica. Huge sheets of ice, that are quite thick, sit atop land. If those sheets of ice melt then the ocean levels WILL raise. No where have I seen estimates that come anywhere close to what Chronno mentions but I have seen scientific estimates of 100-200 feet above current levels if all of the ice caps melt.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    jon, Jul 16th, 2007 @ 10:07am

    Stop saying silly things!

    1) earth's climate is changing.
    2) while a portion of said change may be part of a cycle these changes are beyond the normal observed scope of that the cycle.
    3) There is not enough ice to submerge all land mass, in fact a lot of ice is floating, so sea levels won't rise dramatically.
    4) Sea temperature and salinity will change as ice melts.
    5) Solar energy is never going to offer 100% of current energy needs.
    6) A combination of renewable energy sources will eventually be able to meet most if not all of energy demands.
    7) Efficiency will continue to increase as energy demands increase.
    8) As countries develop energy demands increase.
    9) As populations increase energy demands increase.
    10) Hey look, China.
    11) Cars on average are no more fuel efficient then they ever have been. In fact many are less efficient than the Model-T (which got 25mpg).
    12) In the US commutes have steadily increased.
    13) Global warming does not mean things just get hot, it means extreme weather patterns.
    14) Most homes are not significantly more efficient and as highs and lows have increased so has energy demand to maintain comfortable temperatures.
    15) Unless 100% of energy needed is produced locally effects of non-local power needs effect cost and supply of local power.
    16) Earth will evolve and survive.
    17) There is no guarantee that we will survive with it.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Bully, Jul 16th, 2007 @ 10:09am

    Re: Scare Talk

    While I know it's unpopular, I normally agree (at least a bit) with dorpus.
    This time you're just ill informed as to the effects of global warming. If global warming is as bad as some people - Gore - say (which I highly doubt), the issue is that it'll trigger an iceage.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Dan, Jul 16th, 2007 @ 10:15am

    ice age

    Sounds like somebody went to the movies to see "The Day After Tomorrow".

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 16th, 2007 @ 10:25am

    Re: Re: Scare Talk

    It is as bad as people say. If you would pay attention to the weather you would know this as true. But you like most people excuse as something else.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Not Rich, Jul 16th, 2007 @ 10:26am

    Solar

    Global warming or not, I'd like to gain back some control on expenses. I try and conserve, yet my energy bill increases while my usage stays flat. I REALLY want solar, at least as a supplement, but the initial cost is out of reach and an ROI of 10 years (or so) is not motivational. Our gummit pisses away our taxes on a ton of stuff (your example goes here), flails about energy and warming, yet fails to reach the masses with a plan that could help. A kick-start for consumers could help lower costs for others.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Matt Bennett, Jul 16th, 2007 @ 10:29am

    Or you know, you could always go Nuclear, that'd be better.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 16th, 2007 @ 10:30am

    I want some solar panels.

    Check out the show "Solar Solutions" on the DIY network.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Boost, Jul 16th, 2007 @ 10:40am

    Re: Re: Scare Talk

    Here's the important point that too many people are missing. What happens if we find out that global warming is a naturally occuring phenomena that we, in fact, are powerless to limit or counteract despite our attempts to pump less greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere? We will still have to deal with the problems of rising oceans and varying weather patterns. The nice thing is that the Northwest Territory in Canada will start to look alot more suitable for civilization. I guess my point is, don't be so selfish to think that just because you live in an area that will be negatively impacted by global warming. There are plenty of places in the world that will benefit from it.

    Boost

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 16th, 2007 @ 11:02am

    Re:

    "17) There is no guarantee that we will survive with it"

    That seems like a good thing....

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Wolfger, Jul 16th, 2007 @ 11:08am

    Jon says silly things

    10) WTF?
    11) No, modern cars are NOT less fuel efficient than the Model T. If you restrict modern cars to the maximum speed that the Model T was capable of, you'll find that they are much more efficient. The *apparent* lack of fuel efficiency is due to modern driving *conditions* (i.e. stop and go rush hour traffic, 75 MPH speed limits which are routinely exceeded, seating capacity for 7...) which the Model T did not have to deal with.
    16 & 17) Define "survive", and if you think we should care about the Earth surviving without us, you're crazy.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Faceless Minion, Jul 16th, 2007 @ 11:29am

    Re: Re: Re: Scare Talk

    "I think it is getting warmer" is not scientific data.
    "Scientists notice a trend" is not, despite it being FROM scientists, scientific data in this case, it is all theory. Give me a scientist that has been alive for a thousand or so years, and measured weather statistics every day of that, and perhaps we'll have something accurate.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Chronno S. Trigger, Jul 16th, 2007 @ 11:38am

    Re: Jon says silly things

    "16 & 17) Define "survive", and if you think we should care about the Earth surviving without us, you're crazy."

    He's referring to the fact that the planet has gone threw several (At least two that I can think of) extinction level events.

    One where globale worming happened causing the methane "ice" under the ocean to melt sending more greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere lowering the oxygen levels to I believe 5% where it is normally 20-30%. Thus suffocation.

    The second was what killed the dinosaurs. A giant asteroid, supposedly causing the gulf of Mexico, which superheated the air around the crash site and sent a cloud of dust into the atmosphere blocking out the sun, killing off most of the plant life. No plant life kills off the herbivores witch in turn kill of the predators that feed on them.

    The planet survived every time. All he really is saying is that the hippies that say we're killing the planet are wrong. It's not dying, we are.

    Yes I was wrong about the ocean levels, but there are so many different statistics online, and even here, that I don't even know what is right any more.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    JPB, Jul 16th, 2007 @ 12:31pm

    re: what are solar panels made of?

    It is important to realize that an increase in use of current solar panel technology may not help the environment as much as we think. Those panels are made with heavy metals and they actually hurt the environment to produce. And there are no recycling features in place for them.

    Wind technology is actually less environmentally harmful to produce and (although some say an eyesore) work both in the day and night.

    Just my two cents.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Joerg, Jul 16th, 2007 @ 12:47pm

    Climate forecasts

    So, you're citing a blog that links to an article on a blog run by Steve McIntyre, who according to Wikipedia, is a former Oil executive. And if he says climate forecast scientists have no clue, you believe him?
    That is very very poor work for Techdirt...

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    alternatives(), Jul 16th, 2007 @ 12:50pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Scare Talk

    Melting every bit of sea ice will not raise global sea level an inch.

    Wrong, as some of the sea ice is floating above the water line.

    The sea ice will melt just as well as land ice. That land ice water is gonna go somewhere, right?

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    birdog, Jul 16th, 2007 @ 12:58pm

    Why not Nuclear?
    Think about it, a fuel that lasts 5-20 years before recharging, the only daily waste is heat (steam anyone?)
    OK, eventual waste products that last several hundred years (unless you melt down in vitrification to a 1 meter block of glass, which includes the low-level waste like suits, gloves, trash)
    Then put that glowing block of glass inside a mountain in Nevada (kinda hard for terrorists to steal a 1 meter block of glowing glass) where it is still available for recycling when we perfect the technology.
    MUCH better than a mountain of toxic fly ash (where do you put THAT?), or mounds of heavy metals from making solar panels, or NO2 & acid rain from oil burning.

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    that guy, Jul 16th, 2007 @ 1:00pm

    Re: Re: Scare Talk

    "You do realise that if the polar caps melt, the only land that will be left is the top of the Himalayan mountains. Granted I don't know where you live but I doubt that you live there."

    Four words can fix that.

    Water World
    Kevin Costner

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Joe Smith, Jul 16th, 2007 @ 1:24pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Scare Talk

    Wrong, as some of the sea ice is floating above the water line.

    Ahhh .. ice floats because when water freezes into ice it expands and the resulting ice is less dense than water. The mass of the water displaced by floating ice is exactly equal to the mass of the floating ice. When the floating ice melts it will shrink back down to its original size and exactly fill the "hole" in the water which was occupied by the submerged part of the ice.

    All those investors in solar power should consider that the industry really needs a break through and the odds are that it will only be one company out of all of them that makes that break through. Solar power can be a business with a great collective future and yet every single available investment opportunity in that space can be a dog.

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    that guy, Jul 16th, 2007 @ 1:48pm

    Re: #29

    That's only true if the melting ice does not decrease the concentration of salt in the water appreciably. Otherwise, there is a decrease in the ocean's water density which results in a rise in sea levels. However, to what extent the ice caps will affect the salt concentration is beyond me.

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    dorpus, Jul 16th, 2007 @ 2:05pm

    Re: Re: Scare Talk

    By the way, heat stroke doesn't kill very many people, at least not in Alabama. I manage the death registry for the state, and there was a straight linear declining trend of death rate with respect to temperature. Even on the hottest days, no rise was observed.

    http://www.mixedasians.com/member_pics/haplotype_1183414347.gif

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    dorpus, Jul 16th, 2007 @ 2:08pm

    Re: Re: Re: Scare Talk

    Older people are more susceptible to temperature changes. There were no statistically significant relationships between temperature and death rate in people under age 60; above age 60, people died less often (at an accelerating rate!) as the temperature got warmer.

    http://www.mixedasians.com/member_pics/haplotype_1183414339.gif

     

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  33.  
    identicon
    reed, Jul 16th, 2007 @ 3:48pm

    Logic?

    "Older people are more susceptible to temperature changes. There were no statistically significant relationships between temperature and death rate in people under age 60; above age 60, people died less often (at an accelerating rate!) as the temperature got warmer."

    So what your saying is old people are more susceptible to temperature changes but as temprature goes up less people die. That means the hotter is gets the less likely a older person would be to die from something like heat stroke?

    Seems like your contradicting yourself in your post. I haven't looked at the statistics myself, but I would gather when it is 110 degrees out and a older person doesn't have AC they run a high risk of heat related death.

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    niftyswell, Jul 16th, 2007 @ 9:44pm

    Re:

    jon, you have more assumptions in your rebuttal than the original quote.
    1-the earth used to be covered in ice and they found crocodile bone fossils near the north pole. so?
    2-see above and tell me what normal is- time period might be nice since the earth is way older than man is.
    3-the core of the earth has a large mass of water recently found in it...but no one knows if all the water could cover the earth- really!
    4-Cannot argue there
    5-orbiting satellites might be able to do it.
    6-define renewable
    7-you then counter this later on so it leaves me puzzled
    8-Germany demand has fallen- (assumption)also counters #7
    9-counters #7 but okay
    10- I see it...so?
    11- An 8000 pound tahoe hybrid tahoe gets this mpg- you are wrong
    12-wrong- populations are steadily going toward cities and have since 1900
    13- that is the new lingo- from global warming to climate change so they can blame everything
    14- prove that highs and lows have increased- I dont believe thermometers that have accuracy of +/- 1 degree can be used to confirm a .4 degree rise in temperature as is stated currently.
    15-nope- saudi oil costs 3 bucks a barrel to pump out of the sand- way cheaper than local energy production
    16- off topic
    17-off topic

     

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  35.  
    identicon
    boost, Jul 17th, 2007 @ 9:47am

    Re: Logic?

    he seems like he's contradicting himself because your reasoning skills suck. Sorry to be harsh, but I thought someone should let you know.

     

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  36.  
    identicon
    boost, Jul 17th, 2007 @ 9:53am

    Re: Jon says silly things

    You're somewhat misinformed.

    Ever drive a car around at less than 30 mph? It gets terrible gas mileage at those speeds...even modern cars. At low speeds modern engines have higher Break Specific Fuel Consumption and they are putting more energy into turning the alternator/air conditioning/overcoming driveline friction than they are putting into the wheels of the car. Optimal speeds for most cars is around 50 mph. Your other comments about fuel economy are correct.

     

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  37.  
    identicon
    reed, Jul 17th, 2007 @ 10:33am

    Re: Re: Logic?

    "he seems like he's contradicting himself because your reasoning skills suck. Sorry to be harsh, but I thought someone should let you know."

    No, he just doesn't understand how statistics works and the difference between correlation and causation, plus his statistical evidence was based upon referrals which have nothing to do with deaths.

    If you had half a brain cell I am sure you could point that out too.



    (

     

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  38.  
    identicon
    Moonzie, Aug 20th, 2007 @ 12:16pm

    AC-solarheater:Purchase products such as the solar

    Globally, reserves of non-renewable sources of energy such as coal, oil and natural gas are declining drastically. Calculated by the proven reserves and the speed of consumption, petroleum, the main source of energy in the world, will be exhausted in 40 to 50 years. By that time, the energy crisis will become a major threat to the world. In the meantime, the sustainable development of human society demands coordination between energy development and environmental protection and ecological balance. Therefore, many countries are actively developing clean and renewable sources of energy, and solar energy is a typical one.
    AC-solarheater is a company engaged in helping the American buyer to buy solar energy products such as the solar water heater,etc..
    AC-solarheater can guarantee the lowest price in the market. Meanwhile,we can also customize and process the water heater at the request according to the needs of American company.
    For more information, please check:http://www.ac-solarheater.com/ .

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
    identicon
    connor myers, Jan 11th, 2008 @ 1:52am

    whay is glouble worming sutch a problom?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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