The sun sends on Earth such a big amount of energy, that even a minimal part of it could be sufficient to solve all mankind’s problems of power.
Unluckily, the star has the lack of shining when it is not needed, that is in day-time and in summer, when it’s bright and warm, and of being absent in dark and cold time, when it would be much more useful; moreover, convenient means for storing its energy in useful quantity do not exist, therefore the photovoltaic power found a very hard start.
It goes better since when it’s possible transferring in the electrical net the energy collected in excess with respect to the need, but even so, a huge conventional production is also required, for feeding the net in the absence of sun, therefore giving up with oil thanks it, was still utopia until little ago.
For some time, however, it has been available a device which changes things radically, so I foresee that within few lustrums all the fixed thermoelectric power plants will be substituted by the new solar plants which this device makes possible, with a decrease of the oil consumption of at least 50% worldwide.
The idea is so simple, that I wonder I did not yet hear debating it around, therefore I start myself, in case really nobody has yet conceived it, with the hope that at least the most combative greens will support it.
The device which could allow changing the face of Earth is the endothermic piston engine running on hydrogen, that in truth was developed for auto drive, and perhaps is just the legitimate scepticism about this use that prevents from conceiving others, much more useful and probable.
Hydrogen, in fact, is a gas so light and hard to be liquefied, that for storing the equivalent of 100 litres of gasoline in an auto tank, there is need of an enormous pressure and/or a much lower temperature than that of the most icy Antarctic frost; conditions, these, so hard to be realized economically and safely in an automobile, that personally I wouldn’t bet even 10 cents on the commercial success of this engine in the automotive field.
In a fixed plant, however, the problem of size of a car does not arise, nor does, therefore, that of compressing and cooling down the hydrogen. In fact, if for the said equivalent of 100 litres of gasoline there is need, at “normal” pressure and temperature, of a 100 cubic metres tank (for instance: a cube with sides few longer than 4.5 metres), building it is not a technical problem, nor economic.
It may then be conceived as follows a photovoltaic plant sized upon the power of the hydrogen-engine. It consists of the engine itself that, coupled to a generator, will produce current during night, of a tank capacious enough to feed the engine while the sun is absent, of a plant producing hydrogen for the night, and of as many photovoltaic collectors as needed for producing the electricity equal to the sum of the external, diurnal demand and of that for separating hydrogen from water.
So, the few thermoelectric plants currently running, gigantic and polluting, will be substituted by a myriad of photovoltaic-self fed thermoelectric plants, small, very clean, and with no greenhouse effect.
Initially, the kilowatt-hour’s cost could increase a bit, but the savings on the fuel and the rapid descent of the plant’s costs with increasing production would let it diminish briefly… Besides, shan’t we consider the satisfaction of backing out of the oil blackmail, of resetting the greenhouse effect, and of having clean air everywhere?
About innovation everybody is always spouting off… let’s see. The European Union allocates a lot of money for realizing it concretely.