Thursday, May 03, 2007


Yesterday I heard a great interview (Bloomberg podcast -- unfortunately no longer available online; but see here) with venture capitalist Vinod Khosla (formerly of Kleiner-Perkins, co-founder of Sun), who has been investing in energy technologies of late. One interesting comment he made was that no technology or environmental solution will scale (certainly not enough to affect global warming) unless there is a profit to be made along the way.

Some numbers from this DOE report.

Sources of Electricity

• Currently - around 13 TW of Annualized Average Power Consumption on the Earth.

• Fossil Fuel → Annual Production of 25 billion Metric tons of CO2 ⇒ Requires Massive & Efficient Underground Storage.

• 10 TW ≡ 10^4 One GW Nuclear Power Plants – Will exhaust Terrestrial Uranium Resources in 10 years if constructed.

• Maximum Practical Hydroelectric Resources 0.5 TW.

• Cumulative Energy of Tides and Ocean Currents < 2 TW.

• Total Geothermal Energy on Earth 12 TW.

• Maximum Amount of Extractable Wind Power 2 - 4 TW.

• 120,000 TW of Solar Radiation Strikes the Earth Surface in the form of sunlight.


DB said...


Unlimited fuel supply (ocean water), clean, manageable waste, non-weaponizable, scalable. It's the perfect energy solution, if only we could get it to work.

One way to make fusion work easily is to inject muons, which bind tightly to the hydrogen nuclei and make nuclear collisions easier ("muon-catalyzed fusion"). If physicists could just make plentiful, cheap muons, they would save the world.

Anonymous said...
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Martin said...

With coming gene manipulation techniques, why can't we get chlorophyll into humans so we can all photosynthesize our way to energy independence? I'm serious.

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