Summoning the God of Electricity, Green style
While waiting for the scientific (Dr.) Dollar Bill to compile his list of successful “green energy” projects world wide, I decided to Google around for myself. The only project I could find even remotely close to being completed (estimated to finish construction December, 2013) was this one being built in Nevada by SolarReserve. The company claims that, if and when it is operating, it will produce 110 megawatts of energy.
So okay, I don’t really know how much that is so I Google that up as well and came across this interesting table:
megawatt (106 watts)
- 1.3 MW – tech: power output of P-51 Mustang fighter aircraft
- 1.5 MW – tech: peak power output of GE’s standard wind turbine
- 2.4 MW – tech: peak power output of a Princess Coronation class steam locomotive (approx 3.3K EDHP on test) (1937)
- 2.5 MW – biomed: peak power output of a blue whale
- 3 MW – tech: mechanical power output of a diesel locomotive
- 10 MW – tech: highest ERP allowed for an UHF television station
- 10.3 MW – geo: electrical power output of Togo
- 12.2 MW – tech: approx power available to a Eurostar 20-carriage train
- 16 MW – tech: rate at which a typical gasoline pump transfers chemical energy to a vehicle
- 17 to 80 MW – tech: approximate maximum power output of a Nd:YAG laser used in Particle Image Velocimetry (100mJ over 6ns to 400mJ over 5ns, both at 532 nm)
- 26 MW – tech: peak power output of the reactor of a Los Angeles-class nuclear submarine
- 75 MW – tech: maximum power output of one GE90 jet engine as installed on the Boeing 777
- 140 MW – tech: average power consumption of a Boeing 747 passenger aircraft
- 190 MW – tech: peak power output of a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier
- 900 MW – tech: electric power output of a CANDU nuclear reactor
- 959 MW – geo: average electrical power consumption of Zimbabwe in 1998
The productive capacity of electrical generators operated by utility companies is often measured in MW….
For reference, about 10,000 100-watt lightbulbs or 5,000 computer systems would be needed to draw 1 megawatt. Also, 1 MW equals approximately 1360 horsepower. Modern high-powered diesel-electric railroad locomotives typically have a peak power output of 3–5 MW, whereas a typical modern nuclear power plant produces on the order of 500–2000 MW peak output.
So, hmmm – looks like this 540′ tower with miles of mirrors around it wouldn’t come close to powering a single 747, not that I can think of a practical way to mount a 540′ tower and miles of mirrors on the fuselage. So air travel will disappear from the future as envisioned by Dr. Bill. What else?
Well, let’s go back to Google and see how much energy the United States consumes.
Wow, Bill, it’s a lot! 3,471,000,000 megawatts! At a measly 110 megawatts per plant we’re going to need millions of these things! Where we gonna put them? They can’t possibly all fit in your back yard, not even Joe Kennedy’s back yard.
And Dr. Bill, you aren’t going to believe this, but there’s still another problem: By SolarReserve’s own estimate, they’ll only be able to store electricity for “10-15 hours”. That’s better than windmills, which have zero storage capacity but Bill, unless we want to start looking like Russia or Zimbabwe, we’re going to want to continue to enjoy electricity 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Factories need it, and all that. So ten hours might work overnight, assuming they really can reach the goal of ten hours, but what happens when things cloud over for a few days? Who you going to call on for power then, assuming you’ve shut down all those coal and natural gas and nuclear power plants? The Ghost Busters?
So here’s the problem as I see it, Dr. Bill: you’re a man of faith, not of science. In fact, you remind me most of those rag heads in the desert (not our deserts, yet, but the deserts in Pakistan and all those sordid countries over there). They say, “you combine two molecules of oxygen and one molecule hydrogen and, God willing, water is produced”. You and your friends say, “we put our hearts in the right place and simply will the repeal of natural laws and, Gore willing, we will have clean, abundant energy because we want it so!” That doesn’t sound very scientific, does it?
Anyhow, it’s taken me a bit of time to assemble all these links for you, time enough, I’m sure, for you to have compiled that list I asked for. I’ll go check the comments section and see how you’ve done.
UPDATE: Oops! Nothing from Bill. He’s probably out on the streets doing a bit of queer-bashing but let’s give him til morning, shall we?