Monday, June 18, 2007

Solar Store-y

This is the first of a series of new posts on how the electricity we use and the we use it is up for disruption, loosely termed Power 2.0 to stay in the trend of the 2.0 boom.

For some time I have been looking to build a house here in Thailand and I am very keen to generate as much of our own power needs as possible. The emergence of alternative energy in Thailand is not very strong as today power is quite cheap. Thailand is blessed with an average of 12 hours of sunlight year round, yet the country still heavily relies on oil for electricity production.
There are quite a few hydro electric dams in the country, mostly place by the King.

One energy source, the Sun, is up for some changes as EGAT (Electrivity Generating Authority of Thailand) now agree to buy back any surplus energy. This change in the economics means that you could now recover the costs within 10 years opposed to the potential 20 to 30 years before. You can tell then that solar today is cost prohibitive.

One of the key challenges of solar is how to effectively store the energy. Batteries are improving and one of the best uses for solar energy is hot water or pumped water so you can use a gravity fed water supply over the more common pumped supply.

MIT, via the Technology Review, are working on a system that use photosynthesis. The basic process is to use algae and encourage them to grow with sunlight. You can then use this to release hydrogen. Some years away from a practical application but worth keeping an eye open.

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