Monday, February 18, 2008

Scientific American's Grand Plan

sun power

If you're paying attention, you know that the U.S. desperately needs to transform its energy strategy to reduce fossil-fuel use and minimize carbon emissions. The proposals trickling out of Congress are generally tepid half measures that fail to address the critical nature of the problem.

Scientific American put a group of their analysts to work and crafted a grand plan to eliminate dependence on imported oil. And, best of all, the cost is much less than what the country is spending today on ill-advised military adventures around the world.

The linchpin of the plan is solar electricity. From the article:

Solar energy’s potential is off the chart. The energy in sunlight striking the earth for 40 minutes is equivalent to global energy consumption for a year. The U.S. is lucky to be endowed with a vast resource; at least 250,000 square miles of land in the Southwest alone are suitable for constructing solar power plants, and that land receives more than 4,500 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) of solar radiation a year. Converting only 2.5 percent of that radiation into electricity would match the nation’s total energy consumption in 2006.

The plan also describes how development of wind, biomass, and geothermal energy systems could eventually supply 100 percent of the nation's requirements and 90 percent by the year 2100. Energy independence is within reach, but we also need to dramatically scale down the lost dollars being funneled into military interventions.