An interesting article in the Scientific American laying out a grand proposal for almost eliminating our dependence on fossil fuels by creating a massive (I think it was about 30,000 square miles) Solar Panel Array in the Arizona desert. It looks great on paper, but being a sales guy all my life has me skeptical of anything that looks great on paper.
A couple of issues/concerns came to mind:
1) the article almost dismisses out of hand the possibility of something like this being done without $450 billion dollars in subsidies from the government.
2) control of the land (and that’s a lot of land) would be in the control of….Arizona?…the Fed?…
3) I think the advances in solar panel efficiency that the article projects is VERY conservative. My hunch is that advances in module efficiency from 10 to 14 percent is very nominal. Knowing very little about how solar panels work, I just can’t help but believe that if this were REALLY pursued (with PRIVATE monies–for profit) photo-voltaic cells would get to more like 30%. That’s just a guess, of course. I just know that every other technology has worked out that way (agriculture and computers being the best examples).
But like I said, looks great on paper.