EME 810
Solar Resource Assessment and Economics

5.6 Energy Constraint and Response


Reading Assignment

  • J.R. Brownson, Solar Energy Conversion Systems (SECS), Chapter 9: Solar Energy Economics (Focus on Energy Constraint and Response.)
Now, I want you to think about why some groups across society perceive solar energy as "diffuse" and why others perceive that same resource as "abundant" and an opportunity.

Hypothesis of the Energy Constraint Response

When fuels (geofuels, biomass) are effectively:

  • accessible,
  • unconstrained, and
  • inexpensive,

light and the associated Solar Energy Conversion Systems are not perceived as a viable alternative. Light is framed as diffuse and insufficient to do work.

However, when fuels are:

  • constrained, or
  • inaccessible,

then light and the associated Solar Energy Conversion Systems are counter-interpreted as ubiquitous and vast, and capable as a viable alternative.

Fuel Constraints

Our energy use in society is coupled to the locale and to our comfort expectations. Energy use is also coupled to the availability of inexpensive fuel resources. The four main factors constraining fuels are described below:

  1. physical inaccessibility due to regional resource depletion (e.g., deforestation) or supply chain disruptions (e.g., oil embargo),
  2. exceptionally high demand for fuels that outstrips supply,
  3. fuels being accessible, but only at high risk to the community, and
  4. fuels constrained by socially restraining policies, regulations, and laws.