Power Density Primer from Master Resource Blog
Power Source Power Density (W/m2) Low High Natural Gas 200 2000 Coal 100 1000 Solar (PV) 4 9 Solar (CSP) 4 10 Wind 0.5 1.5 Biomass 0.5 0.6
Part I – Definitions
Part II – Coal- and Wood-Fired Electricity Generation
Part III – Natural Gas-Fired Electricity Generation
Part IV – New Renewables Electricity Generation
H/T Tom Nelson
Attempting to displace fossil fuels by renewable energy technologies will be a virtually impossible task, in the near future. Besides the problem of low power and energy densities, technologies such as solar and wind are neither baseload nor load-following technologies. Current large wind turbines are unreliable and prone to frequent breakdown -- and are only fairly efficient within a narrow range of wind velocities.
Biomass certainly has low power density at this time -- ignoring the game-changing potential of algal biomass. But humans are accustomed to the use of large areas of land for growing trees and crops of all kinds. The growth of energy crops will not generally represent a radical transformation of the countryside. And biomass energy can be baseload and load-following, and can be utilised in present energy infrastructure, with subtle modification.
In order to utilise a huge infrastructure based upon the burning of hydrocarbons, biomass and biofuels make the most sense, as long as they can be grown and used economically within the pertinent economic scale and jurisdiction. As microbial conversion of biomass to fuels becomes more efficient, there should be fewer and fewer objections to biofuels.
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