Thursday, May 22, 2014

Solar powered roads to poverty

Let me start by saying that I'm a fan of solar and wind. When I was a teen, I made a solar cooker out of cardboard boxes and a roll of aluminum foil. But these alternatives are often asked to do things that they simply can't, like cooking at night or breakfast in the morning, there ar things they simply can never do. In the case of the cardboard cooker, you 'can' use it to make breakfast or dinner after midnight, but you have to 'bake' a 40 pound brick of concrete during the day, then store it in an insulated 'stove' or 'hot box' and use the stone for all your cooking. This is hugely problematic and takes an inexpensive cardboard and foil design and blows a billion dollar hole in its budget.

I see the same thing happening with solar and wind. We are told they're cheaper alternatives to messy and complicated coal, and in a cardboard and foil sense, everything we're being told is true. But to make them work in a world that likes breakfast before sunrise and dinner after dark, you have to do some truly expensive things that you just don't have to fool with with dirty coal and oil.

Today I saw where millions of our tax dollars are going to building expensive solar panels into roads. Yes, roads, where heavy cars slam on brakes, burn rubber, and sling mud. Ok, forgetting that this plan hinges on placing billions of expensive panels where they are the easiest to steal, and forgetting that this means that car wrecks that damage the road could now result in electrocutions of both drivers and rescue workers, and overlooking the whole pothole problem we have with traditional roads, where oh where are they planning on storing all this daytime electricity for night-time use? Wherever it is, let me assure you it will be insanely expensive and it will only be discovered that we need it AFTER the roads are wired up.

Sadly, there IS a way to use roads as a power source.

Stirlings, a very old kind of thermal engine, are very capable of harnessing temperature differences as little as 10 degrees.

By leveraging underground geothermals (averaging 60 degrees) against road surfaces, it would be easy to harness black surfaces like roads, but unlike the proposed photovoltaics, thermal engines can be made to run WHEN THERE IS A DEMAND for ELECTRICTY, not just when the sun is shining. And, geothermals would allow you to melt the snow on such roads WHILE it was making electricity AT NIGHT. So long as the surface of the road was 10 degrees hotter OR COLDER than the underground geothermal, it could make electricity.

But this is NOT what tax payers are spending money on.


Instead, we are gluing expensive panels where they will be exposed to the highest wear and tear imaginable, if they don't get stolen first.

There is no source of stupidity greater than a politician with the ability to make grants.

No comments:

Post a Comment