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2009-02-09

Is Sustainable Power Unsustainable?

Looks like the high-efficiency solar cells which forecasters have planned on require rare metals we'll run out of in about ten years. And, the best substitute expected, carbon nanofiber, is shown by two independent studies to pose a health risk similar to asbestos, as per a linked Seattle P-I story. Eek.

This only emphasizes the need for more basic research, not less, in energy generation of all kinds, such as these nuke-sized solar power fields (Link 1, Link2) which California's PG&E is studying. These sunpower fields use an array of tracking solar dishes powering Stirling engines which work with any concentrated heat source.



Gee, doesn't Oregon get a lot of constant sunshine east of the Cascades? Hmm... the 'golden triangle' of lower Malheur and Harney counties (see map, above, with marker at Baker City), including the hamlet of Fields, with its apex near Alvold Lake, gets at least 4.5 kilowatt-hours per square meter per hour, even in January, which is the 'worst-case month. Other months of the year, it gets more... and that's pretty darned close to the Big Island of Hawaii according to this DOE Map. When it's sunny, the wind blows less, so Stirling-engine-solar there these would be a good partner to Oregon's windmills, because when there's no wind and windmills don't turn, we now use carbon-emitting inefficient gas turbines to substitute for the wind turbines, because you can't quickly fire up a coal plant like Boardman or a nuke like Hanford's WPPSS #2.

Clean energy jobs for Oregon. Anyone interested?

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