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Old May 21, 2003, 08:01 PM   #1
janey
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which do you prefer: solar power or more processors?

a shortage of silicon and microprocessor companies willing to pay up to $70 per kilogram of electronics grade silicon is causing the solar energy revolution to suffer as a result. Because cheap solar-cell grade silicon currently is not produced by manufacturers for ~$10 a kilogram, both the microprocessor manufacturers and solar cell producers are buying the same electronics-grade silicon, causing a major silicon shortage. In 1998, supply and demand was almost the same but ever since them demand has risen in comparison to the supply which has remained at a constant 2000-2500 tons per year and in 2005-2010, the amount of demand could nearly triple, even quadruple the availability. Hopefully new ways to extract silicon will be developed before this becomes a big problem.
Now that you've read a little bit about the current problem, what would you want more: solar power or computer processors? Or would you have both and maybe hope for processors that do not use silicon later in life?
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Old May 21, 2003, 08:51 PM   #2
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More processors make my mac faster, I want faster macs!
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Old May 21, 2003, 09:22 PM   #3
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Well at this moment Solar is so damn inneficient I think the chips should get the silicon so they can be used to develop more efficient forms of solar power.
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Old May 21, 2003, 09:25 PM   #4
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True solar power is über-inefficient I mean like we get like very little power compared to the theoretical power output.

I think computers, untill they get better, then I would get Solar Powered computers.
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Old May 21, 2003, 09:41 PM   #5
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Given the inefficiency of solar cells, this current trend is fine. Once a viable, efficient solar power is available, the demand for more solar cells will increase, causing a shift in this equation. For now, give me a faster computer - it might help crunch the numbers to make better solar power
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Old May 21, 2003, 10:15 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by Mr. Anderson
Given the inefficiency of solar cells, this current trend is fine. Once a viable, efficient solar power is available, the demand for more solar cells will increase, causing a shift in this equation. For now, give me a faster computer - it might help crunch the numbers to make better solar power
Hmm, that's an original post. Is that how you got though school? Rewriting other peoples essays?
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Old May 21, 2003, 10:54 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by MacBandit
Well at this moment Solar is so damn inneficient I think the chips should get the silicon so they can be used to develop more efficient forms of solar power.
but without more silicon the solar cell producers can't innovate because they have nothing to work with. it's like telling apple to come up with something better looking than the fp iMac...without Jonathan Ive and the industrial design team. it's nearly impossible.
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Old May 21, 2003, 11:00 PM   #8
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Faster processors, do less per clock cycle, so people will be like
Consumer: "Wow, the new G4 processors are rated at 4 GHz"
Macphile: "They're not really that different, Apple just basically changed their values to match Intel's: more clock cycles, less stuff per cycle."

The Intel Tejas will hit 4+ GHz in 2004. Frickin' crazy.
Then again, the storage density explosion is blowing away Moore's Law.

So yeah, faster processors.
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Old May 21, 2003, 11:18 PM   #9
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you people think that faster and better processors are better than finding a way to harness energy from a source that's not going to die out for billions of years?
eew.
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Old May 22, 2003, 12:11 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by übergeek
you people think that faster and better processors are better than finding a way to harness energy from a source that's not going to die out for billions of years?
eew.
There's still plenty of silicon and plenty of research dollars for basic research. There just isn't enough silicon to keep the price down so average people can afford solar panels.

Personally I think computers, networking, and the internet will bring world peace through friendship and understanding. Just look around you at all the people you confer with on these boards from all over the world. I think personally that that is more important right now then harnessing the power from the sun through a highly unefficient means.
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Old May 22, 2003, 10:00 AM   #11
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Forget about PV panels, check this out! I guess you still need sand for the glass, but this could help keep silicon going into chips and solar energy for the masses.

http://in.news.yahoo.com/030103/137/1zoxs.html

Or this.

http://rhlx01.rz.fht-esslingen.de/pr...owertower.html
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Old May 22, 2003, 11:48 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by mactastic
Forget about PV panels, check this out! I guess you still need sand for the glass, but this could help keep silicon going into chips and solar energy for the masses.

http://in.news.yahoo.com/030103/137/1zoxs.html

Or this.

http://rhlx01.rz.fht-esslingen.de/pr...owertower.html
I like both of those ideas also they don't need to fight for sources of material. While silica and silicon are seemingly related because of there name they reall are two different elements. While Silicon can be difficult to process, Silica on the other hand can be found and used from nearly any beach in the world.


I think this idea that they are going to implement in the San Francisco bay is by far the best idea of tidal energy generation I have ever seen and maybe the best form of clean power that man has come up with yet.

http://www.msnbc.com/news/910115.asp
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Old May 22, 2003, 12:43 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by MacBandit
Hmm, that's an original post. Is that how you got though school? Rewriting other peoples essays?
Ha! I started to write mine before you post but got side tracked and submitted it after - great minds think alike...

D
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Old May 22, 2003, 01:03 PM   #14
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why don't we put windmills on the tops of buildings in cities? and if nothing else, that particular building can use the power created as a portion of its energy... probably not going to be a huge %, but up high on the building tops here in nyc (and other cities with skyscrapers), there's tons of wind.

and i agree that there's plenty of silicon for research and such, just not enough for affordable, everyday panels for joe consumer.
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Old May 22, 2003, 02:17 PM   #15
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Re: which do you prefer: solar power or more processors?

Quote:
Originally posted by übergeek
a shortage of silicon and microprocessor companies willing to pay up to $70 per kilogram of electronics grade silicon is causing the solar energy revolution to suffer as a result. Because cheap solar-cell grade silicon currently is not produced by manufacturers for ~$10 a kilogram, both the microprocessor manufacturers and solar cell producers are buying the same electronics-grade silicon, causing a major silicon shortage. In 1998, supply and demand was almost the same but ever since them demand has risen in comparison to the supply which has remained at a constant 2000-2500 tons per year and in 2005-2010, the amount of demand could nearly triple, even quadruple the availability. Hopefully new ways to extract silicon will be developed before this becomes a big problem.
Now that you've read a little bit about the current problem, what would you want more: solar power or computer processors? Or would you have both and maybe hope for processors that do not use silicon later in life?
there is already the alternative, namely the organice solar panels. the only problem is that they are ageing. but in some 5 years or so the devel of those panels should be perfectionnized i think ( speculation, now based on knowing it ;-) )
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Old May 22, 2003, 02:31 PM   #16
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I have long been interested in solar power. Actually since the '80's when I saw my first solar powered house and earth shelters!
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Old May 22, 2003, 03:55 PM   #17
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huh.

What about hemp? I thought that was the real wonder-fuel. People can get high while driving along...

Isn't that the "Great Conspiracy" theory around Hemp? The oil barons don't want you to know that it's such a good source of energy?

And what about those big ol' windmills? Why not use those things? Sure, it'll knock your windows out, drown out all sound at certain decibels, cause permanent hearing loss, even knock over your cow if you're close enough, but at least it's not oil...

And whatever happened to the idea of using the same wind-up radio technology with a Mac Powerbook? Why not get carpal tunnel syndrome to add a few hours of battery life to your Powerbook?

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Old May 22, 2003, 05:35 PM   #18
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Re: huh.

Quote:
Originally posted by GeneR
What about hemp? I thought that was the real wonder-fuel. People can get high while driving along...

Isn't that the "Great Conspiracy" theory around Hemp? The oil barons don't want you to know that it's such a good source of energy?

And what about those big ol' windmills? Why not use those things? Sure, it'll knock your windows out, drown out all sound at certain decibels, cause permanent hearing loss, even knock over your cow if you're close enough, but at least it's not oil...

And whatever happened to the idea of using the same wind-up radio technology with a Mac Powerbook? Why not get carpal tunnel syndrome to add a few hours of battery life to your Powerbook?

I would like to use wind power also GeneR. Living within the city of Boston, I don't think it would be feasible though. The back of my house faces South, so solar is a real possibility. If the Conservationists allow it they want to put in a wind farm off of Cape Cod. So hoping that it will become a reality. They estimate that it could power all of Cape Cod!
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Last edited by wdlove; May 23, 2003 at 03:46 PM.
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Old May 23, 2003, 12:47 AM   #19
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My mom and step-dad live way out in the Oregon outback 30 miles from the closest one horse town. The closest power is about 20miles away at a huge radar array that is part of the national security net.

They survive on solar, wind, and generators. It's pretty cool out there on the farm. I helped build quite a bit of the building they live in. You might check out some photos I posted from the Ranch on my homepage from when I was out there just a few weeks ago.
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Old May 23, 2003, 06:37 AM   #20
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Re: Re: huh.

Quote:
Originally posted by wdlove
I would like to use wind power also GeneR. Living within the city of Boston, I don't think it would be feasible though. The back of my house faces South, so solar is a real possibility. If the Conservationists allow it they want to put in a wind farm off of Cape Cod. So hoping that it will become a reality. Thjey estimate that it could power all of Cape Cod!
Seriously, it's a real quandry to me how these alternative energy sources are being under-utilized. I would love to see more people using wind power too.

Additionally, I always wondered if the waves of the ocean coundn't be harnessed in some fashion, like through some sort of dam system that used the tide's momentum coming in to and going out from shore to turn the generators.

Does that make sense? Maybe someone here's an engineer who who has McGyver skills and can build a mock up of what I'm talking about out of tinker-toys and Lincoln logs. I dunno.
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Old May 23, 2003, 08:16 AM   #21
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Market will decide

Let the market decide. Currently people place more value on the use towards electronics and not solar. Since solar is innefficient as people say not many are willing to plunk down the big bucks for the benefit. Research is being done to improve yield on solar arrays especially for space based applications. But for the consumer it is not there yet. More likely fuel cells will be the next stage of power generation. Once solar becomes cheaper and more money gets thrown to it then companies can justify larger R&D budgets for solar. As of now there is very little money to be had in solar. Its mostly large applications. The home user has to invest mucho bucks into batteries, cells and more in addition to the knowledge required to maintain the setup.
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Old May 23, 2003, 08:51 AM   #22
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Popular opinion

While popular opinion here says "faster processors, solar power is inefficient" truth is, if you're calling solar power inefficient, it's because it hasn't reached it's potential yet.

By that logic, we can just as well say "solar power, processors are inefficient"

Of course, I'm all wrapped up in the need for speed and the need for new computers, and someting to consume, so, I cast my dollar with the computer.
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Old May 23, 2003, 09:31 AM   #23
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Technologies are improving.

Before anyone panics, you should check on the current developments in the industry. There is a lot of research going into building better solar cells and methods of silicon extraction, meaning more and better supplies of silicon, faster. Check it out...


http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=0...id=134&tid=137

...and this one. Canadian scientists found a way to make a solar material (able to be draped oer buildings) from silicon beads that could be harvested from waste silicon chips...

http://science.slashdot.org/article....thread&tid=126

and why haven't we reached 70% efficiency in solar cells yet? (you'll have to read through the comments for some of the answers to the question posted)...

http://science.slashdot.org/article....37&mode=thread


I'm pretty sure we'll be alright going into the future. Mankind has a way of innovating when situations get tight. Good show, humankind.

Taft

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Old May 23, 2003, 09:39 AM   #24
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Hmmm. Let me think.

My computer makes money for me, but I have to be there telling it what to do all the time. Yes, faster processors.

But, Solar could also make money (essentially) for me and I wouldn't have to do anything! The American Dream: something for nothing! Yes, Solar power!

Wait...would I have to upgrade my solar cells every 2-4 years? Would I need to get a UPS (Uninterruptable Power Sun)?
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Old May 23, 2003, 09:47 AM   #25
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The new thought in solar power systems actually doesn't use batteries unless the user is far from the existing power grid. Otherwise it is much simpler and cheaper to sell the excess power you generate during the day back into the power grid, thus making money. Currently in California the utility companies have to pay you the same retail price you pay for electricity so it is an even exchange. Of course they don't like this setup, they'd rather sell you power at retail and buy it wholesale like they do with their traditional suppliers. They are currently trying to rewrite legislation to their benefit (surprise). Batteries were the fatal flaw in previous systems, they took up lots of space, required maintenance, and replacement every few years. I agree that fuel cells are the next big thing, but we likely won't see those in widespread use for at least 10 - 20 years.
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