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    A Plan to Power 100 Percent of the Planet with Renewables from the Scientific American.

    Plenty of Supply
    Today the maximum power consumed worldwide at any given moment is about 12.5 trillion watts (terawatts, or TW), according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The agency projects that in 2030 the world will require 16.9 TW of power as global population and living standards rise, with about 2.8 TW in the U.S. The mix of sources is similar to today’s, heavily dependent on fossil fuels. If, however, the planet were powered entirely by WWS, with no fossil-fuel or biomass combustion, an intriguing savings would occur. Global power demand would be only 11.5 TW, and U.S. demand would be 1.8 TW. That decline occurs because, in most cases, electrification is a more efficient way to use energy. For example, only 17 to 20 percent of the energy in gasoline is used to move a vehicle (the rest is wasted as heat), whereas 75 to 86 percent of the electricity delivered to an electric vehicle goes into motion.

    Even if demand did rise to 16.9 TW, WWS sources could provide far more power. Detailed studies by us and others indicate that energy from the wind, worldwide, is about 1,700 TW. Solar, alone, offers 6,500 TW. Of course, wind and sun out in the open seas, over high mountains and across protected regions would not be available. If we subtract these and low-wind areas not likely to be developed, we are still left with 40 to 85 TW for wind and 580 TW for solar, each far beyond future human demand. Yet currently we generate only 0.02 TW of wind power and 0.008 TW of solar. These sources hold an incredible amount of untapped potential.

    Even if the authors are overoptimistic there is still a great deal we can do to approach their laudable goal.

    The other game changer is liquid fuels directly from sunlight, such as the system being pioneered by Joule Unlimited.

    Joule’s renewable fuel platform will best the scale, productivities and costs of any known alternative to fossil fuel today, with no use of biomass, arable land or fresh water. Our inputs are sunlight and waste CO2. Our expected output? Millions of gallons of clean, renewable fuel that drops into existing infrastructure. Next step: change the world.

    Cheers

    We spend money we don't have on things we don't need to create impressions that won't last on people we don't care about. Tim Jackson

    by Athenian on Sun Jun 12, 2011 at 08:15:01 AM PDT

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