(Image Credit: Inhabitat)
Co-written by Justyn Hornor and Jamie Odom
A burning question has been slowly simmering to the surface in alternative energy forums: If LENR (a low-energy nuclear reaction device) works, what’s going to happen to solar power or other energy sources? As organizations like Defkalion, Brillouine, Andrea Rossi, and others try to bring a LENR-based product to market within the year; people are starting to wonder if solar will survive if–and that’s a big “IF”–such a LENR device is produced.
Case for Solar in a LENR World
First of all, it will take decades to produce enough LENR devices to power the world, if the technology proves viable. In the meantime, solar power is ready and already in production across the globe. And the materials need to produce solar panels are very different than those needed for LENR devices, so these two systems could be produced alongside each other without cannibalization.
Solar could easily be a secondary or backup system in the event a LENR device breaks down or when a LENR device cannot produce enough power. Most LENR devices appear to be rated for household consumption around 1kW•hour or for industrial use in the range of 5MW•hour. For those stuck in between the two, solar could be an important source of energy for a while.
Another consideration is that as electric power becomes cheaper, we will likely consume more than ever. As energy needs rise, more sources of it will be required, and solar power is poised to still be a vital part of that equation.
Other Alternative Energy Sources
What about Natural Gas, biofuels, and geothermal energy? Will these slowly disappear as well? Quite possibly, but not for a long time. Millions upon millions of vehicles rely upon oil for fuel. These could be converted to run on Natural Gas or biofuels; that is, if gasoline prices justify the transition.
LENR will power steam-based turbines more than likely, which in turn generate electricity. This means that a LENR system in a car would have to either charge a battery at home or eventually be able to be mounted directly into the vehicle. In either scenario, that means a complete rebuild of modern vehicles and it’s unlikely that gasoline and diesel based cars and trucks are going to disappear anytime soon.
What Next for Solar?
The fact is that even if LENR hits the streets tomorrow, it will be a long time before these systems completely replace what we have in the world today. And all of this is speculation since we have yet to see a viable product in hand that runs using LENR-based principles.
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Still, the very possibility of a replacement technology to solar is only hurting the already ailing industry. As soon as a manufacturer commits to a current solar panel technology, a newer, more efficient, and less-expensive version hits the market.
Over the next 6 months, it will be interesting to see whether or not an actual LENR device hits the streets and changes the world. The fate of solar power will not be sealed if LENR is proven to work, but the industry can expect dramatically reduced demand if it does.