1186th General Meeting

"Powering the US grid from solar and wind"

Dr David Mills, co-founder of Ausra, Inc.

Wednesday 3 November 2010 at 7 pm

Conference Room 1, Darlington Centre, University of Sydney

Solar and wind are our two largest energy resources and are well distributed globally. In these respects, they are ideal to re-power humanity with little climate or political impact. Some say that such a strategy is not practical because the solar resource disappears at night and each wind generator can be highly variable in output. However, the impact of already commercially available solar thermal storage technology, together with the overlap effects of wind energy from many sites may prove otherwise.

The first example used is the USA 2006 electrical load calculated on an hourly basis from government data and the second is a total energy supply scenario. A high voltage DC grid backbone (commercially available today) is assumed to allow full access of delivered power to all parts of the country. National wind and solar output are calculated hourly using government resource data. The initial results of the analysis are presented together with a discussion of the roles of solar and wind in such a new system, in comparison to conventional baseload/peaking thinking.

The talk will begin with an update of Dr Mills' company's activities in the United States since his leaving Sydney in early 2007, followed by an update of today's solar technology. The main part of the talk describes private work in progress by the author and his colleagues in the United States to take a first look at the feasibility of powering the United States energy system entirely from wind and sun by mid-century.

Dr Mills is the former Head of the Solar Energy Group at the University of Sydney and past President of the International Solar Energy Society. He is the co-founder and former chairman of the SHP and Ausra companies.

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