The vision is great – the problem is with the ecosystem.
It is said that within 10 years, Australia could be self-sufficient in renewable energy.
Today I’d like to focus in solar. And I’d like to propose a concept – it’ll just take a few hundred million dollars to do it…
If you’ve ever driven on a highway in Sydney/Melbourne driving a few kilometres out of the city you’ll notice walls protecting the surrounds from noise, pollution and providing a measure of safety.
But what if these spaces held solar cells? These walls as mentioned above – protect, but what about the fact that they sit around all day, facing the sun, capturing heat and generally decaying to some extent year after year causing councils to save their pennies waiting till the time when they’ll have to be replaced.
We’ve all seen the solar farms or at least pictures of them, taking up acres of space ‘way out west’ in places where it’ll probably take more fuel to transport the energy captured than we get in return for using the service.
Could we combine the two? Could we attach solar panels to the walls of these never ending walls and capture all the sunlight we can for a seemingly ‘no extra time‘ cost?
I am fully aware that solar panels aren’t really ready for mass consumption and don’t provide the best ROI at the moment – but think of it as government trials, or a future sighted company who in the next 10 years will make an absolute killing.
The panels will be replaced as the technology gets better paid for via a combination of government funding (as a write off for clean energy trials) and a) the revenue generated from selling this energy to an energy company or b) using this energy for street illumination lights and therefore saving the council in annual expenditure.
Now for the rub.
It’s one thing to capture. It’s another thing entirely to store, which requires batteries – which themselves will have a lifespan. Transport, as mentioned above depending on location of capture will probably be a loss leader until the ‘eg. UPS distribution’ network is established. And theft or vandalism. If these panels are just laying around on highways – what’s to stop people from helping themselves – however securely they are attached? Or on a more ‘people are generally good’ note – these panels will need to be kept relatively clean and petrol/diesel fumes are (some of) the reasons that we are in this mess.
An ecosystem needs to be devised (the complex bit) so that the simple idea of using already plentifully available surfaces to capture solar energy can be at least considered.
And there’s no reason for owners of warehouses not to use their roofs to do the exact same thing. I think, it’s a win win.
This is just a concept of something I’d like to see…