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RE: Oh Politics! RE: [hreg] crash science initiative for alternative energy and conservation

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  • Robert Johnston
    Am I missing something, or is this much to do about nothing? Sure, any radiant energy captured by a solar cell is not reflected back into space immediately.
    Message 1 of 18 , Jan 7, 2005
    • 0 Attachment
      Message

      Am I missing something, or is this much to do about nothing?

       

      Sure, any radiant energy captured by a solar cell is not reflected back into space immediately.  But:  (a) even if you had a perfect mirror there instead, not all reflected light would make it back to space [light scattering, greenhouse effect, etc.]; (b) surely one can coat the cell with a reflective surface that transmits UV (or whatever wavelengths the solar cell optimally uses) and reflects others; (c) if the solar cell weren’t there, it is unlikely that the surface that would be there instead would reflect light back perfectly either.  It would absorb at least a portion of it and the radiant energy would be converted to heat.  Even biomass merely stores it as potential energy that is later released as heat by burning, digestion, etc.  And, (d) some of the absorbed radiation that is converted into heat will eventually be emitted back to space.  Ever notice how much the earth cools on a clear night with no cloud cover?  That is heat loss by a relatively cool substrate, e.g., the earth at 15-30°C.

       

      I don’t think we are talking about a big deal here.  Even if 1% of the U.S. land mass were covered with solar cells, that would not absorb as much radiant energy as our forests do today.

       

      Why not just do a radiant energy balance on the planet?  Smalley’s presentation says in 2003 we used 14 terawatts (TW) of energy per day.  This compares to 165,000 TW of sunlight striking the planet per day.  Even at the 50 TW he projects we’ll need in 2050, that is only 0.03% of the sun’s radiant energy being needed.  If we have perfectly absorbent solar cells that absorb all the solar spectrum, and if they operate at only 10% solar efficiency, that means that the solar cells necessary to supply our energy needs in 2050 (assuming we go 100% solar cells for energy needs) would absorb just 0.3% of the sun’s radiant flux on earth.  Do you think we’d even notice that?  Remember, a significant fraction of that 0.3% is already absorbed by whatever substrate is there today.  We’re talking about an extremely small effect here!

       

      There remains a debate about whether global warming is real or not.  But if we assume it is, I think most scientists would argue that the cause of global warming is not the heat we are emitting but rather the greenhouse effect, e.g., the heat we are trapping.  If we quit using fossil fuels and drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, any additional heat absorbed by solar cells would be more than compensated for by the increased emission to space.  In other words, we can afford to convert more energy into sensable heat so long as we have less greenhouse effect.

       

      If you are concerned about localized effects, such as in cities, there would be ways to mitigate it.  For instance, you could make covered parking lots, with the cells on the roof; this would merely absorb what would have otherwise been absorbed by the asphalt.  There are indeed efforts to convert roofing membranes from black rubber sheeting or asphalt to white TPO roofing membranes.  However, as happened at MinuteMaid Park, mold and mildew can quickly stain a white roof to a dark color, so it is not a very robust approach today, and I’m not sure what the long term contribution to urban micro-climates is.  Personally, I’d prefer a dark roof since it is more UV stable and should last longer.  That makes sense from an economic and sustainability standpoint.  If I were a roofing membrane installer, though, I’d sure rather work on a white roof!  (At least in Houston in the summer)!

       

      Robert Johnston

       

       

      -----Original Message-----
      From: Gary Beck [mailto:eco@...]
      Sent: Thursday, January 06, 2005 9:55 AM
      To: hreg@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: RE: Oh Politics! RE: [hreg] crash science initiative for alternative energy and conservation

       

      Incredible breakthoughs or not, one thing I have to point out is that solar cells should not be thought of as free or even renewable. The energy they capture is not free. They make electricity by capturing energy that is otherwise reflected back into space. All this captured energy will be released as sensable heat. 

       

      The other point is that every solar cell I have ever seen is very dark color and that on a sunny day I assume you can fry and egg on them during operation.  And they would remain warm for a few extra hours each night.  Sounds like a hot city that has 1/2 of the area of every roof covered in in solar cells. 

       

      This vision of a 'solar roof on every house' is the opposite of significant eco design efforts to try to cool cities by adopting building specifications changing commercial roof colors to white and residential roofs to very light shingles (plus a cooler roof means cooler living working space). Or better yet like USGBC-LEED and other efforts that support 'green' garden roof on new commerical buildings. 

       

      What is the best approach to satisfy both concerns? Is there a light colored solar cell? Any one have a design for a solar cell garden roof?

       

      Gary Beck

      Eco-Holdings LLC

       

      I read ocasionally Scientific American, Discovery, Science etc. - they are great for 'what if' and 'think about this' , but not very good predictors at all. What were they saying about fuel cells 10 or 20 years ago? My son get Popular Science - a recent article is called "Hydrogen's Bomb - Decoding the Hype".  My favorite recent new science release? The spinach plant that is designed to generate electricity (no joke) (here's a joke: It is a good thing since will require more candle lit dinners - cause after you finish your salad it's light out!) 

      -----Original Message-----
      From: Roxanne Boyer [mailto:rox1@...]
      Sent: Tuesday, January 04, 2005 10:20 PM
      To: hreg@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: Re: Oh Politics! RE: [hreg] crash science initiative for alternative energy and conservation

      Mr. Malone,

      I quite dissagree with you on many of these issues, and so do most scientists.  Read any of the articles today on energy in Scientific American, Physics Today, Discovery, Science, .... and you will find that our current oil consumption trends can only be sustained to about 2050, plus or minus 20 years.  Renewable energy is growing exponencially.  Europe is aiming for 20% renewables by 2020.  I believe many of the US States already have similar goals and many more will join in as time goes on.  There will be a change within the next lifespan.

       

      Even the "Oil" companies realize this and have published reports that say so.  They are starting to call themselves "Energy" companies and investing quite heavily in renewable energy.  See Shell Solar, Shell Wind, Shell Renewables, BP Solar, GE Solar, GE Wind, for example.  And if the oil companies don't lead, the electronics companies will.  Sharp is already the leading manufacturer of solar cells.

       

      I don't know how you did your math about not enough solar energy in New Jersey (is that the state with the highest energy to land ratio and the least sunny state?).  But the math I have done shows that I can supply all of my Houston household electrical needs (averaged) by covering half of my roof with solar panels.  No breakthrough technology needed; it already exists.  If you trend retail electric prices and solar PV prices, you will see the cost cross in the year 2025 - then it will be more economical to buy PV than grid electricity!

       

      If you read up on the technical progress of photoelectrics, you will see incredible breakthroughs in the last 10 years.  Right now, solar cells are expensive because production can not keep up with demand.  And new record breaking production facillities are being opened each year.

       

      If you want a "heart felt" change, read the July-August issue of Renewable Energy World each year and see the growth of RE for yourself.  It is amazing.  Maybe we can discuss some of the facts at the next HREG meeting, Sunday, 2:00pm, Jan 30th at TSU.

      Sincerely,

      Chris

       

       

      ----- Original Message -----

      Sent: Monday, January 03, 2005 8:43 PM

      Subject: RE: Oh Politics! RE: [hreg] crash science initiative for alternative energy and conservation

       

       

      All this discussion is interesting and heart felt.  The following is not intended as a rant, but to put our problem in perspective.

       

      Our government, both parties, is so tied to big oil money, .

      It would take solar panels covering every square inch of the state of New Jersey just to equal the energy used in New Jersey.  So the size of the oil dependency is almost beyond our reason.

       

      A breakthrough, one not foreseeable by current science is most likely the only hope in the US.  Outside the US there may be some help because of the different mind set of the non US-Oil cartel.

       

      China is graduating more engineers & scientists each year than the US graduates all college students of all degree fields.  China has a massive energy problem.  They also have a growing economy that it partly controlled & partly free market.  As they inevitably pass the US number of educated citizens (check out our schools systems if you doubt this) and the controlling government forces capital & research in to alternative energy research because of their vast needs and lack of resources they may turn this thing around.

       

      I hope I live long enough to see the beginning.

      In the interim, conservation, voting, getting activity in politics may be the only drop in the bucket we have. I hope I’m wrong.

       

       

      J. Patrick Malone

       

      -----Original Message-----
      From: Robert Johnston [mailto:junk1@...]
      Sent: Monday, January 03, 2005 7:36 PM
      To: hreg@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: RE: Oh Politics! RE: [hreg] crash science initiative for alternative energy and conservation

       

       

    • Richard D. Kelley
      Mountains out a molehill? Buy some panels a put that Texas cooker to work. ... From: Robert Johnston [SMTP:junk1@plastability.com] Sent: Friday, January 07,
      Message 2 of 18 , Jan 7, 2005
      • 0 Attachment
        Mountains out a molehill? Buy some panels a put that Texas cooker to work.


        -----Original Message-----
        From: Robert Johnston [SMTP:junk1@...]
        Sent: Friday, January 07, 2005 4:57 PM
        To: hreg@yahoogroups.com
        Subject: RE: Oh Politics! RE: [hreg] crash science initiative for alternative energy and conservation

        << File: ATT00029.htm >> Am I missing something, or is this much to do about nothing?



        Sure, any radiant energy captured by a solar cell is not reflected back
        into space immediately. But: (a) even if you had a perfect mirror
        there instead, not all reflected light would make it back to space
        [light scattering, greenhouse effect, etc.]; (b) surely one can coat the
        cell with a reflective surface that transmits UV (or whatever
        wavelengths the solar cell optimally uses) and reflects others; (c) if
        the solar cell weren't there, it is unlikely that the surface that would
        be there instead would reflect light back perfectly either. It would
        absorb at least a portion of it and the radiant energy would be
        converted to heat. Even biomass merely stores it as potential energy
        that is later released as heat by burning, digestion, etc. And, (d)
        some of the absorbed radiation that is converted into heat will
        eventually be emitted back to space. Ever notice how much the earth
        cools on a clear night with no cloud cover? That is heat loss by a
        relatively cool substrate, e.g., the earth at 15-30°C.



        I don't think we are talking about a big deal here. Even if 1% of the
        U.S. land mass were covered with solar cells, that would not absorb as
        much radiant energy as our forests do today.



        Why not just do a radiant energy balance on the planet? Smalley's
        presentation says in 2003 we used 14 terawatts (TW) of energy per day.
        This compares to 165,000 TW of sunlight striking the planet per day.
        Even at the 50 TW he projects we'll need in 2050, that is only 0.03% of
        the sun's radiant energy being needed. If we have perfectly absorbent
        solar cells that absorb all the solar spectrum, and if they operate at
        only 10% solar efficiency, that means that the solar cells necessary to
        supply our energy needs in 2050 (assuming we go 100% solar cells for
        energy needs) would absorb just 0.3% of the sun's radiant flux on earth.
        Do you think we'd even notice that? Remember, a significant fraction of
        that 0.3% is already absorbed by whatever substrate is there today.
        We're talking about an extremely small effect here!



        There remains a debate about whether global warming is real or not. But
        if we assume it is, I think most scientists would argue that the cause
        of global warming is not the heat we are emitting but rather the
        greenhouse effect, e.g., the heat we are trapping. If we quit using
        fossil fuels and drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, any
        additional heat absorbed by solar cells would be more than compensated
        for by the increased emission to space. In other words, we can afford
        to convert more energy into sensable heat so long as we have less
        greenhouse effect.



        If you are concerned about localized effects, such as in cities, there
        would be ways to mitigate it. For instance, you could make covered
        parking lots, with the cells on the roof; this would merely absorb what
        would have otherwise been absorbed by the asphalt. There are indeed
        efforts to convert roofing membranes from black rubber sheeting or
        asphalt to white TPO roofing membranes. However, as happened at
        MinuteMaid Park, mold and mildew can quickly stain a white roof to a
        dark color, so it is not a very robust approach today, and I'm not sure
        what the long term contribution to urban micro-climates is. Personally,
        I'd prefer a dark roof since it is more UV stable and should last
        longer. That makes sense from an economic and sustainability
        standpoint. If I were a roofing membrane installer, though, I'd sure
        rather work on a white roof! (At least in Houston in the summer)!



        Robert Johnston





        -----Original Message-----
        From: Gary Beck [mailto:eco@...]
        Sent: Thursday, January 06, 2005 9:55 AM
        To: hreg@yahoogroups.com
        Subject: RE: Oh Politics! RE: [hreg] crash science initiative for
        alternative energy and conservation



        Incredible breakthoughs or not, one thing I have to point out is that
        solar cells should not be thought of as free or even renewable. The
        energy they capture is not free. They make electricity by capturing
        energy that is otherwise reflected back into space. All this captured
        energy will be released as sensable heat.



        The other point is that every solar cell I have ever seen is very dark
        color and that on a sunny day I assume you can fry and egg on them
        during operation. And they would remain warm for a few extra hours each
        night. Sounds like a hot city that has 1/2 of the area of every roof
        covered in in solar cells.



        This vision of a 'solar roof on every house' is the opposite of
        significant eco design efforts to try to cool cities by adopting
        building specifications changing commercial roof colors to white and
        residential roofs to very light shingles (plus a cooler roof means
        cooler living working space). Or better yet like USGBC-LEED and other
        efforts that support 'green' garden roof on new commerical buildings.



        What is the best approach to satisfy both concerns? Is there a light
        colored solar cell? Any one have a design for a solar cell garden roof?



        Gary Beck

        Eco-Holdings LLC



        I read ocasionally Scientific American, Discovery, Science etc. - they
        are great for 'what if' and 'think about this' , but not very good
        predictors at all. What were they saying about fuel cells 10 or 20 years
        ago? My son get Popular Science - a recent article is called "Hydrogen's
        Bomb - Decoding the Hype". My favorite recent new science release? The
        spinach plant that is designed to generate electricity (no joke) (here's
        a joke: It is a good thing since will require more candle lit dinners -
        cause after you finish your salad it's light out!)

        -----Original Message-----
        From: Roxanne Boyer [mailto:rox1@...]
        Sent: Tuesday, January 04, 2005 10:20 PM
        To: hreg@yahoogroups.com
        Subject: Re: Oh Politics! RE: [hreg] crash science initiative for
        alternative energy and conservation

        Mr. Malone,

        I quite dissagree with you on many of these issues, and so do most
        scientists. Read any of the articles today on energy in Scientific
        American, Physics Today, Discovery, Science, .... and you will find that
        our current oil consumption trends can only be sustained to about 2050,
        plus or minus 20 years. Renewable energy is growing exponencially.
        Europe is aiming for 20% renewables by 2020. I believe many of the US
        States already have similar goals and many more will join in as time
        goes on. There will be a change within the next lifespan.



        Even the "Oil" companies realize this and have published reports that
        say so. They are starting to call themselves "Energy" companies and
        investing quite heavily in renewable energy. See Shell Solar, Shell
        Wind, Shell Renewables, BP Solar, GE Solar, GE Wind, for example. And
        if the oil companies don't lead, the electronics companies will. Sharp
        is already the leading manufacturer of solar cells.



        I don't know how you did your math about not enough solar energy in New
        Jersey (is that the state with the highest energy to land ratio and the
        least sunny state?). But the math I have done shows that I can supply
        all of my Houston household electrical needs (averaged) by covering half
        of my roof with solar panels. No breakthrough technology needed; it
        already exists. If you trend retail electric prices and solar PV
        prices, you will see the cost cross in the year 2025 - then it will be
        more economical to buy PV than grid electricity!



        If you read up on the technical progress of photoelectrics, you will see
        incredible breakthroughs in the last 10 years. Right now, solar cells
        are expensive because production can not keep up with demand. And new
        record breaking production facillities are being opened each year.



        If you want a "heart felt" change, read the July-August issue of
        Renewable Energy World each year and see the growth of RE for yourself.
        It is amazing. Maybe we can discuss some of the facts at the next HREG
        meeting, Sunday, 2:00pm, Jan 30th at TSU.

        Sincerely,

        Chris





        ----- Original Message -----

        From: J. <mailto:JPMALONE@...> P. Malone

        To: hreg@yahoogroups.com

        Sent: Monday, January 03, 2005 8:43 PM

        Subject: RE: Oh Politics! RE: [hreg] crash science initiative for
        alternative energy and conservation





        All this discussion is interesting and heart felt. The following is not
        intended as a rant, but to put our problem in perspective.



        Our government, both parties, is so tied to big oil money, .

        It would take solar panels covering every square inch of the state of
        New Jersey just to equal the energy used in New Jersey. So the size of
        the oil dependency is almost beyond our reason.



        A breakthrough, one not foreseeable by current science is most likely
        the only hope in the US. Outside the US there may be some help because
        of the different mind set of the non US-Oil cartel.



        China is graduating more engineers & scientists each year than the US
        graduates all college students of all degree fields. China has a
        massive energy problem. They also have a growing economy that it partly
        controlled & partly free market. As they inevitably pass the US number
        of educated citizens (check out our schools systems if you doubt this)
        and the controlling government forces capital & research in to
        alternative energy research because of their vast needs and lack of
        resources they may turn this thing around.



        I hope I live long enough to see the beginning.

        In the interim, conservation, voting, getting activity in politics may
        be the only drop in the bucket we have. I hope I'm wrong.





        J. Patrick Malone



        -----Original Message-----
        From: Robert Johnston [mailto:junk1@...]
        Sent: Monday, January 03, 2005 7:36 PM
        To: hreg@yahoogroups.com
        Subject: RE: Oh Politics! RE: [hreg] crash science initiative for
        alternative energy and conservation








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