The Challenge To Harness The Sun.
By 2050, our energy consumption requirements are estimated to be of the order of 28 Terrawatts. That is 28 with 12 zeros behind it! The only energy source that can provide that amount of power is the sun. It seems obvious that we really have no choice but to quickly learn how to harness the full power available from the sun ( or find another planet.)
Solar pv technology today can convert only a fraction of the suns energy and do so at a much lower efficiency than we will need. On top of that solar pv cells need to be cooled or their efficiency drops even further.
One idea is to use the sun’s rays directly to split water into it’s components of oxygen and hydrogen. Recombining these components we can manufacture synthetic liquid fuels that are carbon nuetral. We could also use the hydrogen directly in fuel cells or combustion processes. However hydrogen is not a great energy carrier as it needs to be highly compressed to achieve sufficient power density. Hydrogen also does not transport very well.
How Experts Envision Mankinds Effort To Harness The Sun.
In this video we hear from a expert in materials science talk about how we may solve our energy challenges and be ready for 2050.
Will Chueh is an assistant professor in the Materials Science and Engineering Department and a center fellow at the Precourt Institute for Energy at Stanford. Chueh received his master’s degree (2010) in applied physics and doctorate in materials science from the California Institute of Technology. Prior to joining Stanford in 2012, he was a Distinguished Truman Fellow at Sandia National Laboratories. Chueh has received numerous honors, including the Caltech DemetriadesTsafka-Kokkalis Prize in Energy (2012), the Josephine de Karman Fellowship (2009) and the American Ceramics Society Diamond Award (2008). In 2012, he was named as one of the “top 35 innovators under the age of 35” by MIT Technology Review.