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Are Solar Carpets The Future Of Solar Tech?

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5 comments to Are Solar Carpets The Future Of Solar Tech?

  • I’d think we are where scientists and markets have led when it comes to energy. No one has yet come up with a replacement for coal, gas and oil. Isn’t it government subsidy that is driving much of what is happening in the alternative energy field?

    I wonder if the energy storage problem isn’t a bigger problem when considering solar powered cities. Doesn’t seem like batteries would ever do the job. Are there any promising storage ideas?

  • Thanks for the comments DS,

    I guess I don’t mind the government energy subsidies too much especially considering that no energy sector of our economy evolved without them.

    As long as the govt’s input is scientifically and not politically motivated. Their goal should be to offer broad support for research and may the best tech win.

    Storing solar energy could be achieved using various methods including thermal storage. This uses an inexpensive material that has a high specific heat capacity like water, stone, molten salts etc. Another possibility is using excess daytime energy to move water to a higher elevation. At night, the water can flow back down through a hydroelectric power generator.

    MIT was working on a solar storage technology that looked promising. The idea is to use solar energy during the day to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. At night, they recombine the gases inside a fuel cell to produce carbon-free electricity.

    Here’s an article on this.
    http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2008/oxygen-0731.html

  • I think non-politically motivated government input might be an oxymoron.

    I read the article you linked to, and while I hope the research does pan out, it seems a little over optimistic to hope that this or any other type of solar energy will be used on a large scale within 8 1/2 years.

    Another thing I wonder about is the idea of not having a central power source. Are people really going to want to be their own power supplier with all the problems that might entail? It seems more realistic to plan that there will be some sort of centralized source for most people.

    It’s certainly interesting research though, and I appreciate the info.

  • I agree, 8 1/2 years is not enough time.

    I kind of like the idea of supplying my own power or a least a sizable chunk of it. My buddy is installing solar right now that will produce 1/3 of his electricity in the summer. This would never see large-scale implementation unless maintenance was manageable and reliability was very high. I’m sure companies would sprout all over the place for maintenance and repairs. Like the guy that comes occasionally to help with your pool or furnace.

    I think we’ll see a good mix of different types of less centralized energy production. Some will be produced at the house level and some will be produced at the town or city level.

  • I think you hit the nail on the head about maintenance and reliability. My brother, like me, is not the type to want to install or maintain solar panels, so when he considered getting them he found that there is a company here in California that leases the panels. This seemed ideal except his projections showed him losing money, so he didn’t do it. We both still thought there was potential for this here in California in terms of the summer power issues.

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