I recently presented a seminar, “Meeting Worldwide Demand for Electricity,” at the IEEE Innovators, Engineers & Entrepreneurs workshop in Austin. My point: we can’t just export approaches that work in the west to the rest of the world, because these approaches are often too expensive. So we need to ask: What would be a cost-effective way to satisfy increasing demand for electricity without increasing emissions in the newly industrializing world?
As a first step to an answer, I wanted to rule out what is not cost-effective. For example, solar energy is often put forth as a way to produce affordable, low-emissions electricity. In some contexts, it certainly is; however, cost-effectiveness depends upon carefully keeping costs down and tailoring utilization to specific applications.
To analyze, then, the potential for deploying solar energy solutions, I used the University of Texas at Austin campus solar charging stations as a case study, supported by a “back-of-the-envelope” calculation.
My conclusion: this particular solar solution would be cost-prohibitive for newly industrialized applications.
For details, download the full presentation.