Solar Power An Alternative
by Matt Broadhurst

Our modern global community is confronted with a
multitude of challenging environmental problems, and
overwhelming consumption of fossil fuel is threatening
man and earth's very survival.

It is important to understand that present environmental
conditions are the result of long-term abuse and the
process of solving problems to return to a sound and
healthy environment is going to be difficult. We are
currently on a collision course, finding ourselves in a
situation where too many people are demanding too many
goods and services. As the world's population expands, so
does industrial production, creating a higher standard of
living for more of our citizens who will then consume even
more fossil fuel. The result is escalating damage to the
global environment as our precious finite natural resources
are depleted.

As individuals we often find that too much of a good thing
turns into a bad habit. The same could be said about our
thirst for, and our addiction to, fossil fuel. But, let's
not be too harsh on the oil producers and those visionaries
who designed machines and gadgets that have enhanced our
comfort and standard of living. It has only been in recent
years that scientists have been able to identify
environmental penalties associated with progress.
Furthermore, heated debates continue on the extent to which
our current situation is man-made or natural. But the
recent scientific findings have created a wedge between the
progressive industrialist seeking more goods at lower cost,
and those who demand a clean and safe environment.

Scientific evidence tends to side with the
environmentalists-the facts are on their side and strongly
support the critical need to change the way we live. The
wisest response is to select a new course of action that
allows economic expansion now--without harm to the
environment in the future. And beyond fossil fuels, new
alarms are being sounded about the depletion of basic
resources such as the world's supply of fresh water -
critical to support life and improve standards of living --
and the supply of fish--one of the global population's
major sources of protein. Some marine species face
extinction because of over fishing while major underground
water tables are in steady decline around the world.
During the next 20 years, experts foresee a need for 1500
gigawatts of additional power simply to meet new demand.
This equates to 15,000 power plants that are 100 MW's each
and 59 million barrels of oil consumed each day. The World
Bank estimates that the developing countries alone will
need to spend $100 billion each year for the next 30 years
installing new power plants most of which will be in the
equatorial zone. These are astronomical figures that could
mean enormous quantities of fossil fuel and 2.2 billion
tons of carbon dioxide released to the atmosphere per year.
Hence, an urgent need to switch to alternative energy.

What is the answer? Do we build more efficient fossil fuel
power plants? Do we retrofit existing plants with energy
recovery systems and incorporate greater use of co-
generation? Do we design more efficient household
appliances and automobiles and should we not be concerned
about why do we not see a greater use of renewables?

Of course, we recognize the value of confronting all of
these questions. Energy conservation and increased energy
efficiency should be aggressively implemented whenever
economically feasible. And yes, renewable energy should be
encouraged, but traditionally renewables have not been cost
effective (the exception has been hydroelectric dams, but
now there is concern about building new dams because of the
distorted use of rich agricultural land, the misuse of
water and the blockage of fish passages).
Renewables have not been cost competitive with conventional
power generation because of the availability factor. For
example, wind only generates power when the wind blows.
Solar collectors only produce electricity when the sun
shines and wave energy is not constant. So it is the
capacity factor that is so important and why renewables are
not very economical or popular. Fossil fuel plants have a
high capacity factor.

What is needed is a technology that uses solar energy to
generate electricity, produces fresh water in the process,
and operates 24 hours per day. We believe that by using
advanced technology a more efficient means of harnessing
solar energy can be created, allowing the global community
to enjoy both its demand for progress and its respect for
the environment. Such a concept is moving from vision to

Although there are many alternative sources of energy that
show great promise, this site will focus on ocean thermal
energy conversion or OTEC. OTEC takes advantage of the
temperature difference between the solar heated surface
water and the deep cold bottom water, using the warm
surface water as the heat source and the cold bottom water
as the heat sink. Ideal operating conditions are plentiful
throughout the equatorial zone. This is an economically
efficient means to convert the solar energy in the upper
layers of the tropical oceans into low cost electricity,
large volumes of desalinated water, and a variety of other
valuable by-products. Please explore our site to learn more
about OTEC, Sea Solar Power, and the exciting ideas we are
bringing to the search for alternative energy sources.

This article courtesy of



Solar Power An Alternative

By Matt Broadhurst