Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Solar power

This is a very interesting analysis of the cost of using solar power to provide base load electricity in Australia.

The numbers show that the Queanbeyan Solar Farm, which has been running in New South Wales since 1999, operates at a mean efficiency of 13.7%, with almost all energy being produced between 9a.m. and 3p.m., which is well outside the peak demand times. To move to an entirely solar based power system would therefore require masses of storage capacity, the cheapest of which would be pumped hydroelectric schemes. By the time you add everything up, the financial and environmental impact of going fully solar makes the whole idea impossible.

By contrast, going fully nuclear is vastly cheaper and, surprisingly, cleaner.

Update: here's a similar analysis for wind power. It doesn't look good, either.

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