Sunday, April 17, 2011

Renewable Energy Geography

Here in suburban Detroit, especially Downriver, we have an inferiority complex. We sometimes believe life is better in other places, and sometimes friends/relatives tell us so.

One thing that is better other places  are natural resources, for example Texas and Alaska have oil, but not here.

Florida and California have tropical fruit plantations, but not here.

The coasts have winds to turn turbines, but not here. Or is it.

It turns out that there are some decent winds in side the Great Lakes, and the mountain passes of the West are great too.

Wind seems to be the most practical in terms of land usage since it produces considerable power, and the land can generally be used for something in addition.


Link to source
Solar power depends on the average cloudiness as well as the brightness of the sun. It helps to live in the desert. The plains states do OK though.

This map is at odds with the Energy Department calculation of energy yield from semiconductor photovoltaics shown below, where cloudiness seems far more important than the brightness of the sun.

In this table Boulder Colorado is the best.

How much energy will a grid-connected photovoltaic system produce?*
System Size
1-kW
2-kW
3-kW
4-kW
5-kW
Seattle, WA
970
1940
2910
3880
4850
Sacramento, CA
1399
2799
4198
5597
6996
Boulder, CO
1459
2917
4376
5834
7293
Minneapolis, MN
1286
2571
3857
5142
6428
Des Moines, IA
1292
2584
3876
5168
6459
Houston, TX
1220
2440
3660
4879
6099
Pittsburgh, PA
1099
2197
3296
4395
5494
Jacksonville, FL
1286
2571
3857
5142
6428
*Estimated annual output in kWh/year (source: PV WATTS). A typical home uses an average of 9,400 kWh per year.   National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service

http://www.afdc.energy.gov/afdc/data/images/biomass_map.jpg
Michigan does better with biomass, which in this context means wood for fuel. Wood and burnable grasses have a lot to do with rainfall.

















This map shows where petroleum is produced today -- obviously Texas and Alaska stand out.   Coal and natural gas are on this site. 













Having said all this, alternative energy develop is not going to happen until petroleum and natural gas prices climb enough to make these energy sources relatively cheap. Sometimes governments give subsidies, but experience shows that subsidies only last until the party of government changes.

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