How mirrors can light up the world.

#1
I doubt the politicians, with their oil interests, will be happy to hear about this potentially world changing hypothesis. The only problem -- science aside -- I can see with the idea is the fact that, in order for the plan to work, vast quantities of North African desert would need to be used. Considering that the West's relationship with the Islamic world further deteriorates by the day, and the ranks of the jihadis grow by the day, could the project ever materialise?

Guardian newspaper
 
#2
There´s a town in Austria that plans to use giant mirrors to bring daylight to their totally in-shade winter streets.

I´m for anything that piss*s off the oil/power maffia :twisted:
 
#3
Screw the Jihadis. Just show them how much cash they can earn (and give them a fair cut) and the radicals will be out of the community group faster than a bacon sandwich.

Also I believe the French have used a similar construction for the last few years as a solar furnace.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_furnace

So to be honest, we don't need the deserts.
 
#4
Trouble is, you can't really economically export heat. Thermodynamics and all that...
 
#5
Thermo_Man said:
Trouble is, you can't really economically export heat. Thermodynamics and all that...
Who's exporting heat? Its about creating electricity, which unless your using an IPOD can be moved around.............................
 
#6
Only around the nation's, who build the power station, National grid. It can hardly be shipped now can it?
 
#7
Thermo_Man said:
Only around the nation's, who build the power station, National grid. It can hardly be shipped now can it?
Why not? Its not a difficult problem, it would just involve a hell of a lot of cables
 
#8
Thermo-Man,

I think the good people at Duracell would disagree they regularly move electricity. Last time I checked they even had a rabbit moving it up some cliff, how portable do you want!?
 
#9
Electricity can be exported, it already is in parts of Europe.
 
#10
But that isn't very economic. Big energy wastage along the cables over a great distance, maintainance, plus the political factor of another country running a power plant that you rely on. It could be done but it needs to be cost effective to or no-one will go for it.
 
#11
Given that there are no fuel overheads I would think that it would be quite cost effective.
 
#12
C_F I didn't know that and I do stand corrected. But if we are talking about solar energy in the form of these parabolic mirrors, wouldn't Spain be the nearest place to the UK to have such a power station that produces a descent amount of power? The logistics of getting that power to the UK would be quite extensive.

Batteries of course can be transported, but most of your kitchen appliances are not run on AAs.

Edited for spelling
 
#13
Thermo_Man said:
But that isn't very economic. Big energy wastage along the cables over a great distance, maintainance, plus the political factor of another country running a power plant that you rely on. It could be done but it needs to be cost effective to or no-one will go for it.
I suspect you haven't read the article Thermobloke, it talks about transporting the current as DC because losses then will only be in the region of 10% between the Africa and the UK.

As for political will, the only contentious bit could be getting it to the European mainland and as the Afican state in question will be making piles of money even that is unlikely. Once in Europe all the EU members will happily do their bit to speed it on it's way across their grids and just across the border into the next member state's grid. I think a lot of the nations already 'borrow' power anyway.
 
#14
Distribution is the biggest problem, I agree, it could be done but there are huge obstacles to be overcome.
The inherent resistivity of the conductors over such a great distance would be enormous, especially as electrical resistivity increases along with the ambient temperature.
Then theres the Med, what are they going to do, either build hundreds of giant pylons sitting on the seabed, or try and insulate the cables and run them underwater.
The way forward is to have solar arrays in geostationary earth orbit and beam the power back to earth via microwave wireless power transmission.
I know it sounds far-fetched, but it is do-able, and is currently in development.
 
#15
sandmanfez said:
Distribution is the biggest problem, I agree, it could be done but there are huge obstacles to be overcome.
The inherent resistivity of the conductors over such a great distance would be enormous, especially as electrical resistivity increases along with the ambient temperature.
Then theres the Med, what are they going to do, either build hundreds of giant pylons sitting on the seabed, or try and insulate the cables and run them underwater.
The way forward is to have solar arrays in geostationary earth orbit and beam the power back to earth via microwave wireless power transmission.
I know it sounds far-fetched, but it is do-able, and is currently in development.
Sandman, we put a cable across 3000 miles of the Atlantic 150 years ago, it shouldn't be difficult to go across the Med.

Hell, they could even bring it up for air at Malta and Sicily if they needed to.
 
#16
I read somewhere that the only reason there aren't massive hydroelectric and windfarms on and off the coast of Scotland (where apparently, it can get quite choppy) is because the cost to lay the cables to, say, London, was prohibitive, not to mention that the losses wouldn't make it in any way economical. Numbers spring to mind of less than 5% of energy generated reaching place of use.
 
#17
Awol said:
sandmanfez said:
Distribution is the biggest problem, I agree, it could be done but there are huge obstacles to be overcome.
The inherent resistivity of the conductors over such a great distance would be enormous, especially as electrical resistivity increases along with the ambient temperature.
Then theres the Med, what are they going to do, either build hundreds of giant pylons sitting on the seabed, or try and insulate the cables and run them underwater.
The way forward is to have solar arrays in geostationary earth orbit and beam the power back to earth via microwave wireless power transmission.
I know it sounds far-fetched, but it is do-able, and is currently in development.
Sandman, we put a cable across 3000 miles of the Atlantic 150 years ago, it shouldn't be difficult to go across the Med.

Hell, they could even bring it up for air at Malta and Sicily if they needed to.
But theres cables and cables. Telegraphy and the tiny amount of power involved is in no way comparable to trying to squirt 400.000V down a 1000km cable.
 
#18
The main loss of power is caused by resistance (always going to be there) and heat.

By upping the voltage, the cables can be thinner (thus less resistance) than something with higher ampage.

If the problem was merely transporting hte power, then Scotland would already be powered by such means, as there is no problem suppling local areas.

Even in todays grid, a fair amount of power is merely absorbed by the very grid that transports it.

This is only the start though, with proper thinking about what we need etc, then buildings can be created that require less heat and light, and of course be fitted with their own turbines/solar cells. The industrial power producers should only be used for top up purposes.
 
#19
I have briefly looks and found that there is a HVDC connection between UK and France (ref), the kind of connection the article (which I've now read :oops: ) talks of. It does now seem far more technically achieveable then i thought first. I suppose the debate now comes down to renewables vs oil and gas. We still have to convince these sunny countries to make these solar power plants. Algeria, Morocco, and Libya produce oil (currently at $56/Barrel) and I don't think that they are in any hurry to change to solar unless we make it worth their while.
 
#20
Remember all the blather about hydrogen power, hydrogen economy etc? Well to make the stuff the power companies expect to burn gas, oil etc. Then you transport it like, er, hydrogen...

Anyway, do this solar lark beside the seaside and you can make hydrogen without playing with fossil fuels. However less efficient, it's completely clean wrt CO2. OK, it makes a pile of bleach as well and other useful chems (depending on exactly how you do it) but if the cost of the plant is low enough, making H2 is a winner.

H2 is only a method of storing energy and burning it cleanly locally - ie fewer nasty emissions next to the schools & hospitals. It's not net green, as it uses more energy to make it than it delivers.
 

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