Keywords: solar energy, solar electricity, energy policy, renewable energy
Solar energy options for renewable energy economies
The author gives a personal view of how solar energy is developing and should develop, and what we should be looking for in global systems which can be compared against a fossil and nuclear future. The author believes that biomass generation, solar thermal electricity and wind energy have the largest renewable generation potential over the next 15 years. It is important to value the environmental and economic benefits of an interconnected system rather than model a single technology replacement. We need to: 1. include a lifetime pollution input/output analysis which fairly compares all options; 2. base system comparisons upon appropriate groups of technologies which provide a complete energy service; 3. account for synergies inherent in mixes of renewable energy technologies; 4. account for load following of the entire grid diurnal and annual load pattern instead of an ability to deliver baseload electricity supply. In the case of nuclear energy, solar technology is likely to exhibit similar pollution reduction advantages without a technical relationship to weapons production. On the basis of risk avoidance and cost, consideration should be given to reallocation of current nuclear development funding to solar technology.