The Solar Energy Solution
I realize that the people who drift past this blog have been waiting for a solution to the energy needs of the United States (rest of the world be damned – yes, that includes England, Juliette. Find your own energy solution)
Using generally accepted numbers, solar panels convert about 10% +/- of the available energy from sunlight.
The United States uses about 4 petawatt-hours per year (4,000 trillion watts). In order to get that sort of coverage, we’d need to bulldoze and flatten a number of states. Better to stick with the states that are flat now to save money. Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, The Dakotas, Nebraska and the flat part of Tennessee. If we covered them completely in solar panels, we’d be moving in the right direction, providing that none of them were ever covered by snow (global warming should help – unless I’m right and we’re headed for an ice age). None of that surface area would account for increased need in the future.
For you math majors, you need to factor in clouds, maintenance, taking things offline, terrorist attacks on the grid that take part of it down from time to time and meteor strikes that could smash a big piece of the giant black piece of glass. Contingencies mean that we need a bigger space.
In order to save the crop-producing states, it might be better just to depopulate and level Africa and cover it with solar collectors. They work better at the equator because the sunlight striking the surface on a clear day generates more electricity. We need an area about the size of Australia covered in NOTHING BUT black glass – for the US only, given current needs.
Naturally, the progs will think that would be a great idea, but there is always the law of unintended consequences as a continent sized chunk of mirrored glass and the change in albedo would clearly impact global cooling. I know, if it’s at the equator, the glaciers would get to it last.
To save the Democrat Party we need to outlaw white bed sheets.