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Harald Jezek

Owner, Nuada beauty+wellness

TEDCRED 50+

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Are we going to power the world with solar energy by 2027 ?

According to futurist Ray Kurzweil, we will. His rational is that cost/watt of solar energy goes down fast while the total amount of solar energy is growing exponentially, doubling every 2 years and has been doing so for the past 20 years.
So what do you think ? Is Kurzweil right with his prediction ? Why do you think he is right/not right ?

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    Mar 29 2011: Like most alternative energy sources solar energy is great when the source / catalyst is available... Our environment is constantly changing leaving a huge gap between sources. Alternative energies at the moment can't be deemed sustainable until we can produce a mechanism that produces energy 24/7 or at least how ever long we need it without the worry of energy shortage.

    Nuclear fusion is a promising idea, whether it can be put into practice that is another discussion worth opening!
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    Mar 29 2011: It should actually be a portfolio of renewable, energy efficient and sustainable technologies and designs - wind, solar, geothermal, ocean - in combination with active and passive building design. As we deplete our fossil fuels - and supply and demand gets out of balance - alternative energy will become a very attractive solution.
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    Mar 29 2011: Geothermal energy I believe is the greatest source of energy we can tap into at the moment. It has enough energy to run the whole world for thousands of years and we can make that happen very easily if we can simply get rid of all our so-called leaders who are put there to limit and govern our progress. We could've had enough energy and abundant food decades ago. But that's not profitable. Regardless, the monetary system is going through a slow death. Our grandchildren will look back and think about how unbelievably stupid we were and how much we screwed our world up before handing it over to them.
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    Mar 29 2011: I sincerely hope that his prediction is correct, but we have some relevant reasons to doubt it. FIrst of all, the technology for solar energy applied to large demands isn't fully developed, and governmets haven't been as supportive as they ought to be to the research organizations involved in that area. Besides the lack of support, there's a major problem in solar energy related to area: everyone wants solar energy supply, but no city, county or state accepts having the powerplants and the solar pannels in their land. The search for available areas would cause a rise in the specullative prices, which could possibly affect the viability of the projects
    However, despite the possible problem we might face, we need to empower the moviment pro-solar energy. Afterall, iit is the energy of the future.
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    Mar 21 2011: yes we should really work towards this aim, along with hydra- energy, and wind power. with even thing we must bare in mind our envirnoment and to protect and preserve it for the future generation.
  • Mar 19 2011: Hi Harald, I think we can believe Ray Kurzweil because our technology continues to improve as we discover new materials and methods.

    From Wikipedia:
    "As of 2010, solar photovoltaics generates electricity in more than 100 countries and, while yet comprising a tiny fraction of the 4.8 TW total global power-generating capacity from all sources, is the fastest growing power-generation technology in the world. Between 2004 and 2009, grid-connected PV capacity increased at an annual average rate of 60 percent, to some 21 GW"
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photovoltaics

    So I am optimist that it will happen fairly soon =)
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      Mar 20 2011: Hi Zdenek, how are you doing lately ?
      I agree with you and I'm optimistic as well. People often see only the difficulties associated with solar energy and easily overlook the progress made in a fairly short period of time.
      If the dream of a world powered by solar energy comes through, many other problems will be solved too.
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    Mar 18 2011: Oh god I hope not, I'd like to build space-based solar power first.
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      Mar 22 2011: No reason to worry about that.

      Surface based solar power will compete for land-use

      - even in todays deserts .

      That stat "solar energy is growing exponentially, doubling every 2 years and has been doing so for the past 20 years. " is suspect. Is there some reference to that claim?
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        Mar 22 2011: Petr, you might be right if we look at current technology, however, nanotechnology might change that all.
        About the doubling of solar energy output every 2 yrs: I don't know which was Kurzweil's source. Here is one of many links I found that talks about 30 % growth/year (which would be 70% for 2 years) for photovoltaics. Maybe Kurzweil also included solar heat generation in his number or perhaps it was the average over the past 20 years.
        In any case, whether his number is right, or the 70 %, it's still a significant growth rate.