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Australia's largest solar array
This, the largest PV installation in Australia would be a piker next to the scheme David Densford is proposing. Imagine a string of solar panels stretching from Jacksonville, Florida to Los Angeles, California.

An Energy Plan Just Crazy Enough To Work?

OpEd: When Texans think big, they really think BIG!

By David MacGregor Densford

The Bush National Energy Plan wants to build hundreds of new nuclear power plants in the US, but there is already a perfect thermonuclear power plant a safe 93 million miles away. God’s nuclear reactor showers our 3rd rock with enough power every single day to run our 3rd rock for a year. God’s nuclear power plant has enough fuel to be self-sustaining for at least a couple more thousand years. Moreover, it does not pollute this planet. So here is my plan to address the myriad challenges confronting America in the near future.

Phase One

Prove that the energy companies are overcharging and make them pay multi-million dollar fines that will directly fund the installation of solar powered picnic table shades, RV parking spaces, and marinas at all the National and State Parks. Encourage the National and State Park concessionaires to rent electric vehicles as part of a "Park and Ride" program to reduce the destruction of our natural resources. Patrons of the parks will be able to recharge their electric golf carts and bicycles at every campsite. The picnic table shades, RV covers, and houseboat slips will have built in LED lighting that will be battery powered at night. This will reduce the need to pack in flammable fuel, throwaway batteries, and chop down more trees to build a campfire for night vision. First we have to legalize electric bikes that do not exceed 20 mph and Neighborhood Electric Vehicles that do not exceed 40 mph.

The profitable business of renting electric vehicles to campers will then develop a new industry and will reduce the research and development cost of new and better technology. Through mass purchases of photovoltaic power generation equipment, the cost of producing PV systems will drop. This will end up making PV applications more profitable for future communities that desire to become less dependent upon the failure prone "Grid".

Phase Two

Based upon the success of the PV campgrounds, build solar farms with 60’x100’ arrays along Interstate 10 and the southern railroad tracks from Jacksonville, Florida to Los Angeles, California. That is 10 states with connections to most major southern cities, entertainment areas, and ports. If we use the solar farms to augment the existing "Electrical Power Distribution Grid" then we can reduce the need to build new power production facilities at the taxpayer and consumer levels. If we use the land along the tracks to bury new superconducting cable, we can avoid having to rewire the country. This will support NAFTA in the long run. San Antonio and Del Rio are Amtrak stops. They are on both I-10 (east-west) and I-35 (north-south).

Phase Three

Offer the 60’x100’ lots under the solar arrays to manufactured housing community operators and charge rent for the spaces. Design these solar powered communities exclusively for the retired. Not only will the retired homeowners no longer have utility bills as large as their retirement checks, they will also help fund, in the form of shaded living space rental, the generation of 4 times more electricity than they can consume. A 60’x100’ PV array can generate 36 kW. A single 100 home community can generate 3.6 MW. The average single family home in the sun uses 4 kW a day. These homes are sitting in the shade now and use geothermal radiant heating and cooling systems. The community residents can drive electric vehicles recharged by the PV system over their home.

Geriatric specific healthcare can make house calls to the residents of these communities. Current Technology, highly advanced sonogram equipment that is very portable can be carried into a home like a briefcase, and makes most x-ray equipment obsolete . The need for large hospital systems is reduced to a few vans that make the daily visits to the residents as necessary or transport the needy to the hospital. There is a whole Association of doctors and nurses that specialize in home health care. As the retirees become less independent they can be moved to better facilities as required. The sale of their homes to new retirees will help fund their future healthcare needs.

No new schools need to be built for these communities. In fact, if the retired desire to continue their education they can drive to a nearby college or do it online. The life experiences and knowledge the residents have be collectively gathered into a usable database that will help future generations make better decisions. The retired could be very active in writing real history.

Now the retirees have a place to go other than staying in the hustle and bustle of "the big cities". Future retirees may desire to help slow urban sprawl by moving out of the homes they raised their families in and allow the next generation to move in. By slowing urban sprawl and passing family housing to the next generation, developers will be expected to take more time and build better communities that will last longer than one warranty period.

Tell this to the insurance companies.

School Districts can charge fewer taxes because the staff and equipment requirements will be reduced by not having to build new schools. The educators can concentrate on quality, not quantity!

Our elders can enjoy a better quality of life with more freedom to move about. Because they planned to move out, they made better investments for their future at a younger age. They will shop around to work for companies that have great 401K plans and stock options. They made room for younger employees to be promoted sooner by being able to retire at a younger age financially. In addition, the retirees can elect to remain available for business suggestions. Remember also that those that move into solar-powered communities have no utility bills.

Phase Four

Use this concept of solar farms along railroad tracks to design high-speed electric rail service that can accommodate both freight and passenger service. By developing rail yards centered on standardized sea-land shipping containers, we can create a new land bridge that reduces our need for a Panama Canal. We already have the one rail line along the southern United States with access to the major ports and Interstate highways. It would be very profitable to build the solar powered retirement communities near the 35 AMTRAK stops along its route. The required power distribution is combined with the labor pool. It just makes sense.

As the high-speed electric rail lines are branched from south to north, additional communities can be built to support the electrical and manpower requirements. A new rail line should be developed that carries freight and passengers from Seattle, WA to Chicago, IL to Norfolk, VA to New York City. A strategic land bridge would be created and housing will be made economical in that region without a need for a lot of infrastructure.

Studies have been done already to prove that rail is just as economical as ships. In fact, rail from Seattle to New York as opposed to ship transport, can shave almost a week off shipping time. High-speed electric rail will shave even more time off this cost.

Phase Five

Get the military involved financially and strategically. They desperately need land bridges and housing just as bad as the civilians do. There are many military bases that have been closed and the land is unused. Design PV military retirement communities that can provide emergency power to the grid and national defense experience to the overall decision making process. High speed rail incorporating standardized shipping containers will vastly improve the military’s ability to respond to any threat. The military has cargo helicopters and cargo fixed wing planes that are able to carry these containers. They have rail-based anti-aircraft and missile defense systems that are designed to operate on rail systems. The railways are easier, quicker, and cheaper to repair than runways and highways in times of war.

Within all this, the rail industry will have to design a new locomotive. Most locomotive engines are diesel-electrics. The large diesel engine turns a large generator that powers a large electric motor. In order to use all the power given to the tracks from the PV arrays there will have to be some kind of way for the locomotive to collect and store electricity while on the go. The solution may be not unlike the old coal cars towed behind the engine. The first car will be the electric engine/generator. The second and subsequent cars will be the energy storage cars. The energy storage can be Ovonic's nickel metal hydride based fuel cells complete with water tanks and electrolysis. There could be starved electrolyte lead-acid batteries or ultra-capacitors. There is no reason that all technologies can not be incorporated. There are a great deal of studies and technological papers written on this very subject.

So, there you have it, A simple solution to a myriad of problems. The Social Security Administration, Medicare and Medicaid, The Department of Energy, The Department of Housing and Urban Development, The Department of Education, The Department of Transportation, The Department of Defense, and the Department of the Interior all have something that they can collectively throw money at. Get FEMA and the Native Americans involved and there will be nothing financially that can stop this train. Get the Security and Exchange Commission involved in the 401K possibilities and the banking industry may just fall in love with the concept.

Every single application of this concept may cost a few billion dollars to implement. However, it will save trillions of federal tax dollars within a decade.

This type of policy will inspire whole generations of worker bees to plan for a new type of hive. The retirees can still work at farming and grow crops that can be sold to make biodiesel or ethanol. There could even be community owned and operated alternative fuel "gas stations" selling hydrogen and biofuels along the nearby roads. Selling biofuel products that are grown locally. Most kids hate to live on the farm after they are old enough to date anyway. Allow the retired to practice living off the land instead of rusting up at home.

There really are some very well made single, double, and triple wide mobile homes that will fit perfectly under a 60'x100' PV array. This type of community can replace a community that is blown, washed, or shaken away by Mother Nature in a matter of weeks.

It will all begin the day the federal government says to the oil, gas, coal, and electric industries…"alright, that is enough!" "We are going to take some of your greed to finance the means of becoming less dependent upon you." When we do, think of how much quieter our National and State Parks will become. It may even be possible for the energy companies to volunteer to begin funding such a concept. What a media coup it would be for the first company (such as Texaco who owns part of Uni-Solar) to do so. Free advertising would be available on all the national television stations and in all the papers.

David is a Texas National Guard Chinook flight engineer instructor. His father took George W. Bush's photograph while the President was a pilot at Ellington AFB. He writes that his grandfather, "had the task of preventing the Nazis from getting nuclear material out of South and Central America during W.W.II."

Times Article Viewed: 4770
Published: 08-Jun-2001

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