Over seven decades ago in 1941, Isaac Asimov wrote a short story, “Reason” (PDF), in which energy captured from the sun was transmitted via microwave beams to nearby planets from a space station. Flash forward to today, scientists are looking to make that very science fiction dream a reality for Earth.
Switching from fossil fuels to renewable energy is an important and necessary step towards averting climate change. However, in our efforts to go green, we also need to be mindful of other consequences, both intended and unintended – and that includes how a mass deployment of renewable technology might affect its surrounding climate.
Recently Sandfire Resources, a gold and copper producer based in Western Australia, announced its new solar power plant will soon start powering its DeGrussa mine. By replacing diesel power, the 10-megawatt power station, with 34,000 panels and lithium storage batteries, is expected to reduce the mine’s carbon emissions by 15%.
Imagine if your clothing could, on demand, release just enough heat to keep you warm and cozy, allowing you to dial back on your thermostat settings and stay comfortable in a cooler room. Or, picture a car windshield that stores the sun’s energy and then releases it as a burst of heat to melt away a layer of ice. ccording to a team of researchers at MIT, both scenarios may be possible before long.
A large solar thermal electricity plant will soon begin operating near Ouarzazate, Morocco, which will reportedly bring energy to a million people when fully complete. But what is solar thermal electricity and how does it differ from the method used to generate power from the solar panels you might be more familiar with?