Technology How much space does energy production take? 


written for CCNews by Mike Sterling

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I get a news scan most every day that contains interesting articles, both for and against Nuclear Power and the storage of waste.  Today's was thought provoking.

It was written by A. Barton Hinkle appearing in the Culpeper Star-Exponent in Virginia.

The question that he asked had to do with the space to produce power. 

He outlined the anti-nuclear position and outlined what they say about alternates.

Of course high on the list is renewable energy.  That is, hydro, solar and wind.  That's not news.

What is new to me is how he compared the space that it takes to generate power from solar and wind.  Hydro is an exception that he brings up, but does not explore relative to space.

Well, you might say that hydro-electric power takes no space.  Unless it is focused ocean currents, it does take up space because dams produce lakes and that is all a part of the space taken not just the ribbon of great rivers.

He does delve into space taken by wind and solar, however.  I don't know where to check his figures, but it does strike me that he is 'in the ballpark'.

Here are some of his figures.


"Acreage, for instance. Consider Dominion Virginia Power's new gas-fired generation plant in Warren County, which can generate 1,329 megawatts of electricity -- on a slab of land measuring only 39 acres. To generate that much electricity from sunlight, you would need 36,000 acres of solar panels. That's 56 square miles.

For comparison's sake, the entire city of Richmond is 60 square miles.
Dominion's North Anna nuclear-power station can produce up to 1,892 megawatts. To get that much energy from sunlight would require 65,000 acres of solar panels, or 101 square miles. That's slightly bigger than the area of Charleston, S.C., or Milwaukee, Wis.
Click the orange arrow to read the second column

Granted, rooftop solar arrays and other forms of distributed generation would chip away at the need for dedicated real estate somewhat, but they can't offer the economies of scale that industrial-scale solar plants can -- and that would be necessary under any realistic transition scenario. And the issues with solar power don't end there."

There it is.  What does the demand curve look like over a 50 year period. One thing we know for sure.  Our modern economy is energy hungry. 

What do you think?

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Tuesday, January 12, 2016