When you drive through the desert you have a lot of time on your hands to think and get bored. I thought of lots of things, and this is what my wife and I thought of to represent them. Pink socks looking out at the road and a bunch of brown.
Outside of Primm, Nevada just on the, California side of the border, though, there was some neat construction going on. They were building three solar collection stations. They weren’t solar panels. They were thermal collectors that reflect light onto a tower, where either they pump some thick fluid through a turbine, or allow for liquid metal to pass through magnets. THey are less efficient than panels and need a lot of space, but a lot cheaper and more durable.
Obviously, there are lots of energy ideas for the desert, and lots of competing interests to go along with those ideas (for example the Mohave has a couple species of endangered tortoises that needs lots of open space,) but there is a lot of room to do some very interesting things. It’s good to see some developments, but there is still a lot of room out there for some creativity and innovation.
My big idea of the trip was to use the highway median to add a few gigawatts of solar panels. The big cost out in the desert for panels is the infrastructure. You need people out there to maintain them, and roads and power lines to get the power back to cities. The space in between highway lanes seems like the perfect place for the federal government to subsidize a lot of it. It wouldn’t cost the government much to just change the regulations for high land use, and it would provide revenue to a cash-starved government. Plus, it solves many of the issues about land and infrastructure for the companies who would install them. No need for power lines and roads; they are already there.The land for highways is already gone as a natural place, so it wouldn’t take away from pristine habit, and here’s another perk; it would cool the roads off a bit from the shade, and maybe even combat some the thermal island effects going on that contribute to global warming.
Next time you’re on a trip, think of possibilities. Its a good pastime and maybe could spark something that leads to something, that leads to something.