Free, from the sun.

I wrote a blog entry some time back lamenting the waste of water in this country. The number of roofs without efficient gutters and collection tanks seemed such a waste.

Another real waste, especially in these times of “Eish its Eskom”, is solar energy. Every morning the sun rises in the East and every evening it sets in the West. It shines down on roads, buildings, grass, plants, people, cars and everything else “under the sun” and how much of this do we collect and use as an energy source? Very little.

It was thus heartening to read today, that electric geysers will have to incorporate solar heating by 2010 in all new houses in South Africa valued at over R750 000, or larger than 300 square metres.

This would also apply to commercial buildings, hostels, resorts and shopping centres, the department of minerals and energy told Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Minerals and Energy. What good news for a change.

South Africa, with one of the highest average sunlight hours (9.5) a day in the world, would be foolish to ignore the potential of solar power. What is urgently needed now however, is a cheap and super-efficient solar panel invented right here in this country.

There are vast open (mainly desert) spaces in South Africa with massive areas that could be covered by solar panels and supplement our power grid with clean, renewable solar energy.

We get hot, so we we switch on an airconditioner, which uses valuable electricity to remove the heat from where we are and move it elsewhere (ie. a heat-exchanger). What a waste. This is valuable energy, on which we are expending scarce recources, to move somewhere else. Rather spend more money on better insulation and capture the solar energy before it heats up an area that we want to keep cool.

This was something that intrigued me about travel. Everyone seemed to be unhappy with where they were. That is, everyone wanted to be somewhere else. Why? Why are we unhappy with where we are? The same with solar energy. The Sahara desert bakes at 50 degrees. There is more than enough heat. In fact there is far too much heat. If we could just capture this heat (or energy) and move it efficiently to places that needed the heat (or energy to make heat), we would have solved the energy problem.

What we need is a Global Heat Exchanger (GHE).

Remember, you heard it first on Synaptoman.

Be Good.


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