If someone were to buy a small portion of land in death valley, and they made solar panels that are placed as densely together as possible, they could power all of America with only those solar panels and still have more electricity left. “How would they send it across such far distances without all the electricity decaying?” you are probably asking. Well, there is something called superconducting wires. They do not have any electrical resistance if you keep them cold enough, so it can go as far as possible and not have any losses (unless it is actively used) while still retaining the electrical form. What about night? Well, you could have many rechargeable batteries, like tesla’s. These will probably have to get advancements eventually, but it would still work, especially for any rich entrepreneur that would want to invest in this.
You have to use energy to keep the superconducting wires cold. So you’re still losing energy along the way. My expectation is that this would be no more efficient that using regular wires.
In any case, I expect that this is a minor issue. The reason people aren’t doing this yet is that it’s not any more economical than current energy production, due to factors like panels breaking down in the heat, and inconsistency of supply needing battery storage, as you mention.
Good point… if it’s in Death Valley it’s probably not that easy to maintain temperatures as low as that… however, it is potentially possible to have a form of vacuum insulation with carbon nanotubes for suspension. These could also be buried underground for radiation protection and cooling, making heat loss rarer and the cooling procedure more efficient. But then the wires would have to be insulated to avoid arcing the the walls, there would have to be infrared thermometers, and maybe a cooling probe for when cooling is necessary. These features would all add up, and if the wires are more expensive, they become less direct, and more electricity is wasted by sending it along power lines. This might become an incentive for donations though, and the electricity system would only get more efficient and cheap. The surplus could then be sold to companies and fund additional expansion, like transcontinental wires, or other solar farms, or automated solar panel maintenance and protection. it would allow them to expand while still providing the electricity for free or at least extremely cheap, until civil power needs are met, and essential resources become less of an urgent problem.
Given that the sun shines on the whole world equally (to a first approximation), solar is actually the only form of power where you don’t explicitly need centralized power stations generating the electricity, and then long wires carrying it somewhere else. (Wind may also qualify, but it’s not quite as constant.) So really I think the future of solar isn’t massive arrays of panels in Death Valley, it’s that every building in the world has panels on the roof, or as part of their windows, or something similar.
If all the panels are connected into the existing grid, then this also solves the problem of what to do when there are clouds over Death Valley one day. The sun will still be reaching some panels somewhere.
Two Bit da Vinci made a video about something similar to build 3 massive solar farms and connect everything with high voltage wires This Network Can Make Limitless FREE Energy Without Batteries! - YouTube
It isn’t cheap.
The temperature actually wouldn’t be as hard to manage as you think if you build the wires deep enough underground.
HOWEVER - I do still think actively cooling wires would be energy and maintenance consuming.
As for the storage of electricity, for overnight I wonder if you could use a capacitor instead - I imagine cheaper than a battery and probably doesn’t decay as much. Also all those batteries would be horrific for the environment due to the manufacturing and disposing of them so not really green.
My question; is why aren’t we using more energy from the ocean? The tides are even more constant than the wind or sun as they aren’t affecting by day / night or weather. Every day they go up, and down at predictable times.
Certainly places like Canada, and northern Europe could generate a lot of energy from this I imagine!
Parts of the US don’t get enough tidal range for it to be viable - but in those cases there is still wave energy although that would be reliant on wind.
There’s also kinetic, or flywheel storage: Flywheel energy storage - Wikipedia
Oh yeah, I watched a very interesting video the other day by Tom Scott I think - I’d never even heard of Flywheel storage before then, and that’s an exciting possibility!
Either way, I do not think batteries are the way forward.
Same goes for electric cars; everyone is pushing for them from an environmental point of view, but right now they’re just not that envrionmentally friendly due to the battery production and disposal - and the fact that the metals used in the batteries will run out eventually just like the fossil fuels they are ‘replacing’.
AND then you have places like the USA where so much energy still comes from coal - which means I suspect that electric cars probably produce more CO2 than an efficient combustion engine. Not that people in the USA are driving very many efficient ‘gas’ powered cars… but still.