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Q: Solar panels ( No Answer,   2 Comments )
Subject: Solar panels
Category: Science > Earth Sciences
Asked by: marinibug-ga
List Price: $20.00
Posted: 05 Dec 2005 07:42 PST
Expires: 04 Jan 2006 07:42 PST
Question ID: 601641
How can we create enough solar panels in the future when there will be
no oil to produce them.  Plastics made from alternative sources does
not seem to be a realistic alternative since we need that land for
growing food, given the world's growing population.

Request for Question Clarification by hedgie-ga on 31 Dec 2005 21:43 PST

There are several parameters not fully explained in your question,
such as:

 does  'in the future'  mean between now and  2010, 2050 or 2100 ??

 does solar panels  means 'photovoltaics'? (some panels just heat water)

 Should we assume that 'terrestial solar' will be main source of energy
'after oil' or 'after fossil fuels'  (which are different time periods) or
 should we accept current 'expert projections', such as e.g. those in the
paper ?Energy for the future : renewable sources of energy? which states that
by  year 2010 we can expect only about 1E6 photovoltaic rooftops,
 producing only 3 GW of power - a small percentage of total (see table 5.5)..

 It would also help if you indicate what you know or assume
 about the current and future energy resources and needs:
 are you comfortable with scientific units and notation,

such as 1GW = 1E9 Watts   = 1000 000 000 Joules/ second ..)

and so statements such as:

 "current world consumption is 12000 GW of which
 85 percent is fossil-fueled .."

 Since current US projections  and plans (see e.g.) files/dynamic/195200312817_chapter5.pdf
differ from the rest of the world,
 does the 'we' refers to  US only  plans, or 'all of the mankind' ?

 You may clarify these issues, or (preferably)
 explore the underlying issues first, in a series of several smaller questions. 
Which do you prefer?
There is no answer at this time.

Subject: Re: Solar panels
From: tsilverman-ga on 05 Dec 2005 08:07 PST
Solar cells generally aren't made of plastic.

But, the question of whether solar power can scale big enough to meet
the world's energy needs is an important one. Photovoltaic cells don't
last forever, their manufacture involves some nasty chemicals and they
can't realistically meet the present power needs of a city.
Subject: Re: Solar panels
From: feldersoft-ga on 05 Dec 2005 10:01 PST
It's unlikely there will be no oil to produce them.  Peak oil refers
to decreasing oil production, not completely running out.  Once
production has decreased enough, oil will cease to be a viable energy
source.  Products made from oil may become expensive, but the oil will
be least for a long while I think.

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