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Solar power vs. wars

Fun fact of the day: the US uses 300 billion Watts of electricity. Bulk solar power is getting down to $1/Watt. So, converting the entire US electricity supply to solar would cost $300 billion, which is like half a war.

It's not actually nearly that simple because of the storage problem (night, winter). But hey, coal is 35% of that, so about 100 billion Watts. If solar + 24/7 storage cost $5/Watt [disclaimer: pulled out of my ass], closing all the coal plants (well, duplicating their capacity, anyway) would cost $500 billion.

Of course, lots of solar might need a smarter grid. "Deployment of smart grid technology from U.S. utility control centers and power networks to consumers' homes could cost between $338 billion and $476 billion over the next 20 years,"

Did I say half a war? "The U.S. war in Iraq has cost $1.7 trillion with an additional $490 billion in benefits owed to war veterans, expenses that could grow to more than $6 trillion over the next four decades counting interest" -- Reuters

So full solar or coal-replacement solar + smart grid might cost, indeed, half a war.

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Damien Sullivan
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