Apr 30, 2009

Solar Energy from Space

One of my friends, Alex Moore, sent me this article on solar energy.

A company called SolarEn is looking to develop technology to send solar panels into space, then transmit the energy gathered by the space panels back to the Earth through radio signals. The amount of energy captured without atmospheric filtration could potentially be 10x higher than what can be captured by panels on land.

While the concept itself is not new - NASA performed cost-benefit analyses on such energy sources in the 1960s and 1970s and determined that it would cost around $1 trillion, a great deal more than countries were willing to pay at the time - it could potentially revolutionize the future of solar power. However, the problem of cost still exists unless more funding is poured into making solar cells and space travel cheaper and easier.

Reading this article reminded me of a documentary I watched long ago about solar power. The documentary had mentioned something about solar energy potential in the Sahara Desert, saying a tiny area of land in the Sahara fitted with solar panels has the potential to power half the world's energy needs.

I googled this topic, and found this article. Europe is starting to look at North Africa as a potential source of energy, as costs of solar technology drop and the costs of transporting the energy over longer distances go down.

Space solar energy may not be viable in the immediate future, but I definitely believe that certain areas of the world like the Sahara have an untapped potential to be huge sources of power for the world. It is also potentially a development opportunity for these nations by selling the captured energy to other countries and furthering their economy and infrastructure.

Apr 23, 2009

Busy with work...

I've been extremely busy over the past few weeks with work, so I haven't had much time to update the blog. I have a few ideas for articles, so I hope to get some written this weekend...

Apr 3, 2009

When Clean Technology and Environmentalism Clash...

I came across an interesting article on Green Inc. today. Two environmental organizations, the Audubon Society and the Natural Resources Defense Council, have developed a map of 13 states in the Western United States which highlights areas where potential alternative energy development could adversely affect the environment.

If wind farms or massive solar plants were built in the areas highlighted in these maps, it could pose a threat to endangered or threatened species. This may be a challenge for companies that require large areas of land in order to develop wind farms, solar farms, geothermal plants, etc. On the one hand, they want to developing alternative energy, reduce greenhouse gases and protect the environment. On the other hand, the very act of creating their plants or wind farms could potentially be disastrous for endangered species.

The article led me to the question of the distinction between environmentalists and individuals who support clean technology. At what level is it okay to support alternative technology, though it may disrupt the habitats of many species?

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