Google is going to strive to bring the cost of solar power down to a level where it competes with coal. This is not that easy since solar is two Std. dev.'s away from coal's position in terms of absolute cost and making up the differential will require radical new thinking. There is a high altitude wind turbine proposal from this co. which is interesting. As one rises in the atmosphere, the sustained wind levels increase. Efforts to create windfarms on the surface have been so-so: the Altamont Pass (in the SF Bay Area) and a similar forest of wind harvesters on the Eastern side of the San Bernardino mountains frequently sit idle.
Here are some other ideas in my brain:
(1)The doldrums. All sailors know this term-which refers to those areas just north and south of the equator and the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn when the wind stops and the Sun beats down. Sailors stuck in the doldrums would get both sunburns and scurvy until Captain Cook forced everyone to eat lemons and float lemons in the casks of rum. Here you have ample solar energy and also plentiful water - in effect a migrating desert on the ocean. In fact, it was in these kind of high energy situations that blue-green algae flourished, may have organized itself into vast mats and then mutated into a host of derivative organisms. Speaking of photosynthesis...
Imagine a floating platform, anchored to the seafloor but motile, equipped with large mirrors which reflect sunlight onto an infinite series of tubules through which passes seawater. The steam drives massive turbines which generate hydroelectric power, sent via cable to the mainland. The water is continuously replenished via large waterwheels which dip into the ocean and then release the water in an elevated perimeter holding moat which uses gravity to distribute the water into the tubules.
Steam drives the waterwheel along with kinetic energy once it is in motion. No external power source is needed and energy and potential energy existing in nature are seamlessly and efficiently converted into clean power. Solar cells can also be utilized in these regions. Computational power can be run on-site, with close access to cooling water.
(2)Power ring....borrowing from Larry Niven's Ringworld or its inspiration the Dyson sphere.
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