Solar Energy

I was watching this show the other day, “James May: Big Ideas.” For those of you that don’t know who James May is, he’s the dude from Top Gear…i.e. Captain slow. Anyways, on the show he was looking into alternative energy sources, as in getting our energy from somewhere other than fossil fuels. He looked at many interesting things, but one of them was so cool that it had me asking myself, “Why the heck aren’t we doing that everywhere?”

Basically they had a field of large mirrors reflecting the sun’s rays to a tower in the middle. So the sun’s light is effectively concentrated on one point, and as they had about 80 mirrors that are each about 3 metres square, it concentrates the light and heat 80 times over a 9 square metre area. This provides so much heat that it instantly boils water! They’ve managed to harness the solar energy and create a solar hot water system which powers turbines that run a small city.

This form of energy is efficient and FREE and I keep wondering why we are not doing this everywhere. As calculations go, if we cover the Sahara desert with these solar mirrors, then it would provide enough energy to power the entire Europe. Once again I ask, why are we not duplicating this? Surely mirrors can’t be that expensive and current coal power stations use steam powered turbines, so this system would be able to attach to the current infrastructure. I still wonder..

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