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Head Shot image of Daniel Sullivan with Helmet by: Daniel Sullivan

blog post
by: Daniel Sullivan

Antiquated technology: How solar will replace San Onofre

June 26, 2012

As a child I was always struck by the promise of the future and enthralled by movies that gave me a glimpse into what the future would be like; from flying cars, to hover-boards, to human-like robots to flux capacitors. Interestingly enough when the "YEAR 2000" rolled in no such future was to be found. Rather, I found things to be very much the same as they were in my childhood. The cars had yet to escape gravity, hover-boards were nowhere, the closest thing to robots were the correspondents on Fox News, and flux-capacitors clearly had not replaced the 350 cubic inch internal combustion engine that had been in American cars since 1967. In fact the most futuristic consumer product of the moment, General Motors' EV1 electric car, stopped being produced in 1999. It seemed the promise of the future was nothing more than a promise. Let's press fast-forward on the VHS and go back to the future.

This morning I got out of bed, grabbed my phone and used it to check my email, review contracts, and send several responses out, got dressed, went to the garage, UNPLUGGED my car, pressed the pulsating blue start button on my tron-mobile which was followed by the invigorating sound of the car energizing, set it to drive and sped off to work with the whining of the 111 kilo-watt electric motor hardly audible. That's right; my car's power is measured in kilo-watts, as it should be.  Horsepower?  What am I driving a horse-drawn carriage?

I looked at my GPS which informed me that due to traffic I was going to be 10 minutes late to work. I then told my car to call my assistant at the office so I could inform her I would be late. The car obeyed and promptly called the office. Pulling into the parking lot, the car informed me I had 5 miles of battery left but that I had over 100 miles of range left if I used the gasoline back-up generator, so I pulled into the back warehouse and plugged the Volt into the commercial charger at my office. Gas? No thanks. By the time lunch rolled around my car would be charged and ready to hit the road. Not only would the car be charged but the sun would be charging it for me. The sun would also be providing the power to my computer which I use to help design solar power systems so other people can join me in the future

I took a call the other day from a reporter who was inquiring about San Onofre and if the time were upon us when renewable energy such as solar power could displace the nuclear power being pumped out of the onerous, ticking-time-bomb, situated just south and north of two major population centers. Short answer, "Yes". Long answer, the State of California, according to the Independent System Operator (ISO), reported that between what has been developed in the past twelve months and what will be developed in the coming year, we will add over 2,300 megawatts of power to the grid. Guess what? San Onofre puts out 2,200 megawatts of power. Now, I am no nuclear physicist but I can do elementary level math. Seems to me the math supports the conclusion that the days of nuclear power are numbered.

For some time it seemed a lot of people thought nuclear power was the energy source of our future. They were so busy trying to create nuclear power plants on Earth, they failed to notice that glaring orange orb in the sky, A.K.A, the Sun. That's right, God's nuclear power plant basks our Earth with all the nuke juice we need. We just have to point these silicon panels at it, run some wires and, presto, clean, green renewable energy to power our homes and cars. Now, I am fine with having a nuclear power plant 93 million miles from my home and then transmitting the energy with light waves to be captured by my receiver, solar panels. I am NOT okay with some antiquated pair of domes sitting on a beautiful coastline 50 miles from my son's elementary school. Call me crazy.

Remember that 350 cubic inch internal combustion engine from 1967 that was still being used in cars at the turn of the century? Doesn't it seem silly that here we are in 2012 and the same engine design from 1967 is being used in cars today? A year after that engine was put in production, San Onofre went online. Isn't it equally silly to be using this same power plant to feed our energy needs? I don't use the 350 cubic inch engine to get around town. I don't use San Onofre's nuclear power to power my home or business. I left those in the last century, where they belong. I have gone back to the future. It's nice here. Care to join me?

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