July 17, 2007

Solar Power Wins Enthusiasts but Not Money - New York Times

Solar Power Wins Enthusiasts but Not Money - New York Times:

"In the current fiscal year, the Energy Department plans to spend $159 million on solar research and development. It will spend nearly double, $303 million, on nuclear energy research and development, and nearly triple, $427 million, on coal, as well as $167 million on other fossil fuel research and development."


This quote tells the story of which energy sources the government backs with research dollars. Solar is an emotionally attractive alternative, but the economics and efficiency are not there. At .01% of the total U.S. electricity output, solar is a toy...witness this quote from the same story:

"But Vinod Khosla, a prominent Silicon Valley entrepreneur who focuses on energy, said the market-driven improvements were not happening fast enough to put solar technology beyond much more than a boutique investment.

“Most of the environmental stuff out there now is toys compared to the scale we need to really solve the planet’s problems,” Mr. Khosla said."


Our best hope to meet the electricity requirements in the future (expected to increase 50% by 2035) is nuclear, hands down. Perhaps we can and should reduce usage a tiny bit with more conservation, but some is already factored into the demand. in any event we cannot conserve our way out of the need for vastly more electricity.
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