Saturday, May 1, 2010

A very-rough calculation Comparing Solar Energy Output to the Gulf Oil Slick.

Oil is leaking out at 5,000 Barrels / Day.

Apparently the most efficient 4-stroke engines run at about 43% efficient, as well, so the previous estimation of 43% will still work.

Previous Calculations give around 14.25 kWh/Gallon of Gas.

I'm going to be very rough, because gas is only a bit less than half of the stuff that comes out of a barrel of oil ( ).

So a Barrel of oil is worth about 21 Gallons of gas, 12 Gallons of Fuel Oil, and 4 Gallons of Jet Fuel.

I've not got it in me to look up the details of the fractions of different types of fuel oil and jet fuel, so I'm just going to stick with 21 Gallons of Gas per Barrel of Oil right now.

So, 5000 Barrels of oil per day times 21 Gallons of Gas / Barrel of Oil gives 105,000 Gallons of Gas per Day draining into the Gulf.

At 14.25 kWh/Gallon of Gas, the leak is equivalent to 1,496,250 kWH / Day in Energy output.

19 Solar Panels = 1 Gallon Gas / Day @ 200W / Panel (In much of the USA).

So, it takes roughly 1,995,000 Solar Panels to produce the equivalent in Energy to 105,000 Gallons of Gas per Day.

Multiply this times 200W per Panel gives a total of 399 MW of Solar Installation in order to equal the gas content of this single spill. If we assume that the remainder of the oil doubles the energy content of the barrel of oil (which I bet is giving false advantage to Oil), then we need 798 MW of Solar to replace it. This seems like alot. Just a few years ago there wasn't this much Solar Capacity in the World. Last year the World Installed about 7 GW of Solar Energy, or a bit over 8.7 offshore platforms, and this year we're looking at the possibility of 13 GW in new Installation, or the equivalent of 16 Platforms. It goes wild from there.

Now, at $4/W Installed, 798MW of Solar Energy would cost around $3.2 Billion Dollars, which is surely much higher than the cost to produce a single oil platform. On the other hand, it's surely alot less than what this disaster is going to cost BP for this particular Rig. In any case, the Price of Solar will keep coming down, while the price of fossils is going to keep going up.

Anyway, just sayin'...