Saturday, February 2, 2013

Why this is Wrong... "In six daylight hours, Earth’s deserts soak up more energy than humanity uses in a year. "

I hate this quote -"In six daylight hours, Earth’s deserts soak up more energy than humanity uses in a year."  It is often used by solar energy companies to drum up support.  I don't have a problem with solar energy,  but I hate when people use confusing comparisons just to prove their point.  It's like saying that "This skyscraper weighs 150 blue whales, and is 15 giraffes high".  Aka it makes no sense.

Numbers (the wrong way):

Deserts on earth:  -all land 150,000,000 km^2, deserts ~ 1/3 of land = 50,000,000 km^2

Insolation for the 6 hours around solar noon near equator: 1300 W/M^2

Energy use of earth for year: 143,851 TWH (terra watt hours)
= 143,000,000,000,000,000 WH(watt hours)

For those 6 hours: 50,000,000,000,000 M^2 (of deserts) X 1300 W/M^2 X 6 Hours
= 390,000,000,000,000,000 WH

390 PetaWatt Hours  is more than double 143 PetaWatt Hours
Wow so much power!!!

Numbers (more correct):

Deserts on earth: 50,000,000 km^2 - 13,700,000 km^2 (antarctic) - 13,800,000 (arctic)
-We are not going to put solar panels up in these deserts.  It would be dumb.
= 22,500,000 km^2

Insolation for 6 hours around solar noon: 750 W/M^2
- 1300 W/M^2 is what we get from the sun at the top of the atmosphere.
- deserts are not all at the equator (but most included are close)

(2.25 X 10^13 M^2) X (750 W/M^2) X 6 Hours=  1.01 X 10^17 WH

Uh oh!!  Now it seems that we get 101 PetaWatt hours from those deserts in the 6 hours, while we use 143 PetaWatt hours....

Oh Noes!!  Here comes some more reality!!

The efficiency of solar cells ( in super happy land ) : 40 %
Land use efficiency of solar power farms (efficient ones): 50%

So this brings us to 101 PetaWatt Hours X 0.4 X 0.5 =  20.2 PetaWatt Hours

But wait, there's more!!
Transmission losses and storage losses!
~ 6% loss in transmission (best case)
~ 5%  loss in storage and discharge from battery (best case)

20.2 PetaWatt Hours X 0.95 X 0.94 = 18.1 PetaWatt Hours

So if we cover all of the available deserts in the world with solar farms, it will take about 48 hours of  sunlight at noon to supply the world for a year.  This is nearly a tenth of the surface of the Entire Fucking Earth.  Fuck,  Humans are Fucked.
Fuck me, I'm a human.


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Ruining the World on the Cheap - Part 2

The plan: Destroy the Oil and Natural Gas Pipelines

Everyone loves thermite.  It burns extremely hot, and will melt pretty much everything (perhaps not some exotic ceramics).  So let's use it to cause a collapse of the world economy (and by that I mean the economy of the USA).

This plan requires
- a group of people working for free (we will call them "terrorists")
- powdered aluminum (2500$/tonne)
- powdered rust (750$/tonne)
- magnesium ribbon/scrap (3000$/tonne)

So let's say we have 100 million budget for thermite.  At a aluminum to rust ratio of 1:3, with a tiny bit of magnesium, we could prepare about 20 thousand tonnes of thermite.   Now lets say we use 1 tonne per action, so we need 20,000 cell phones rigged to ignite the magnesium and about 1000 trucks.  Each truck crewed by one "terror cell", with shovels. Perhaps we need another 20 million ( 1000 trucks * 10000$ + 20,000 cell detonators * 500$).

The Plan: Destroy Oil and Natural Gas Pipelines.

Most pipelines are buried under a mound of dirt.  This is great, as we will use this to contain the thermite and makes them easy to find.  We just need to dig 20,000 holes above the pipes, fill the holes with thermite, then set the igniters.  When they all go off at the same time, all oil and natural gas will be shut off at once.  The USA has about 800,000 km of pipelines, so we would put a hole every 40km or so.  It would be better to place the holes closer on major pipes, and farther apart on closer ones.

This would cripple the economy for months.  People would not be able to drive, power plants would shut down, everything would stop.  For months.  For cheap.