Slow energy

Several days ago I talked about using solar power in sun-drenched equatorial climates to power LED-lit vertical hydroponic farming in colder climates, possibly even within cities. It seemed like a good way to provide fresh locally grown food in an ecologically sustainable way.

Several readers pointed out the difficulties and inefficiencies of converting energy from the sun to electricity and then transporting that electricity over a very long distance. Perhaps, they said, the accumulated losses would make the system impractical.

Since then I’ve been starting to think about the problem differently. Since there is no requirement that the stored energy get to its destination quickly, perhaps it might make sense to convert the solar energy into some intermediate form that can be transported slowly.

There are so many candidates: Compressed air (constant volume or constant pressure), liquid nitrogen, thermo-chemical, biochemical, and thermo-physical are just some candidates. Whatever the method chosen, a storage mechanism in its low energy state can be charged up at an equatorial solar farm to its high energy state, then slowly piloted by sea to colder climates, where some weeks later its energy is harvested.

This slow cycle changes the nature of the game, since it allows us to consider alternate forms of energy storage that are amenable to being shipped slowly by sea. It will be interesting to see whether some particular form of storage is optimally suited for the task.

3 Responses to “Slow energy”

  1. Jurie Horneman says:

    Nobody has said “oil” yet? 🙂

  2. Jurie Horneman says:

    (No disrespect towards the idea intended.)

  3. admin says:

    Now you have. 🙂

    As you know, the whole idea is to come up with something sustainable.

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