The Alternative to Foreign Oil: The Solar-Hydrogen Economy
In 2007, the cost of solar power became lower than oil and coal. This means solar power is now the cheapest form of energy. Therefore, the most economical choice for all new power plants to be built is solar power plants. Unfortunately, there are three main issues with solar power that has hindered its adoption.
First, the biggest problem is that solar power plants do not consistently produce power. During cloudy days, power production drastically drops. At night, no electricity is produced. In some areas and some seasons, there is not enough sunlight to make solar power feasible or economical. Furthermore, the land nearby cities that need more power is often too expensive to create solar power plants, because they require large surface areas.
The second problem is that the electricity that solar power produce cannot be cheaply stored in batteries. Furthermore, transferring electricity across the nation can be very expensive too. Therefore, other methods of storing and transferring electricity are necessary to convert to a solar power economy. To solve these first two problems, the best solution is to convert to a solar-hydrogen economy instead of the current oil based economy. Meaning that in prime solar locations, solar power plants can easily provide enough power for the entire country, maybe even the world. Only the delivery and storage of energy is the problem.
Basically, this is how a solar-hydrogen economy works. During the day, solar power plants would have to first convert sunlight into electricity, and then solar power plants can use that electricity to break down water into its components (hydrogen and oxygen) through the process of electrolysis. The hydrogen can be stored and shipped to any parts of the world just like oil, coal, and gasoline is done today. The oxygen can be safely released into the atmosphere. Converting hydrogen back into electricity is also environmentally friendly, but the problem is that cars and buildings are not currently equipped to use hydrogen as a power source. Therefore, a huge replacement of most machinery would be necessary to use hydrogen power. By creating more jobs and manufacturing more products, this solution may even be helpful by stimulating the economy during this likely recession.
The third and final problem with converting to solar power is the production of solar cells. Currently, solar cells are not being produced in massively enough quantities to completely offset other sources of energy. The economy of scale of producing more solar cells has already started in several manufacturing plants in the world, and more production is currently in progress to commence soon. This will further reduce the price of solar energy too. Maybe governments should provide tax incentives to speed up this inevitable migration to solar and hydrogen power.
In conclusion, it is not only possible to convert to a solar-hydrogen economy, but it is most likely too. This is because solar energy is the most logical solution for three reasons. First, it is more economical than all of the alternatives, including oil and coal. Second, it is the environmentally friendly. Third, this plan will help stop our dependency on foreign oil. The only real problem is that it will be very slow and difficult to convert to a solar-hydrogen economy.
by Phil for Humanity