RE: Energy sources in the next 20 years

From: Glenn Morton <>
Date: Tue Jan 13 2004 - 19:31:36 EST

> -----Original Message-----
> From: John W Burgeson []
> Sent: Tuesday, January 13, 2004 4:01 PM
> To:
> Cc:;
> Subject: Re: Energy sources in the next 20 years
> Glenn posted: "As to the 10 sq miles of Pacific to provide energy for
> California, can you
> imagine the environmental impact of shadowing that large an area of
> ocean,
> the impact on sea life etc."
> Yeah. Not much. 10 sq mi is a little more than a square 3 miles on a
> side. The Pacific is a big place.

According to my calculations, your assumption is wrong. I calculate (and I
await verification) that 10 sq miles is about 26 million meters. The direct
sunlight is 1370 W/m^2, but that is only with the sun directly overhead.
One can expect half of the time, it is dark and one will get on averages
somewhere between 25-35% total insulation (I haven't actually calculated
this but it isn't hard to do) but that means that each meter of solar cells
floating on the ocean will recieve a daily average of 479 Watts. But solar
cells are only 20% efficient so that reduces each meter to 96 Watts per
meter squared. Rounding up that is about 2500 megawatts per day from the 10
sq miles. California uses baseline around 10000 megawatts; peak demand is
36,000 megawatts. Unless I have missed something (which is always a
possibility) I doubt that 10 sq miles will supply California.

> " The equipment
> worked really well until the very first storm came along and ripped the
> anchors out of the ocean bottom, and then destroyed the equipment by
> smashing it against the cliffs."
> Gee, if the first try fails, abandon it? Glad the Wright Brothers did not
> have that philosophy! <G>
> Seems to me the potential (sic) payoff is large enough that at least
> pilot projects ought to be considered.

Yeah I agree that more work should be done and it is, but there will have to
be hundreds of these along a shore and it will change coastal erosion
processes which will have environmental impact.
Received on Tue Jan 13 19:31:59 2004

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