Kim O'Hara wrote:
...or choose your own favourite after oogling "solar power generation" and clicking the "Images" tag on the results page, which is all I did.
That is not scaling. That is ugly as shit. Also, it is an extremely inefficient use of land area.
I'm not claiming PV power is perfect but surely it's better than (e.g.) http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/00/Coal_mine_in_Inner_Mongolia_002.jpg
which really is
as ugly as shit and an inefficient use of land area - and in the end pollutes the atmosphere and adds to climate change as well. Perfection is not achievable so what I'm looking for is harm minimisation.
The main problem with renewables at this point is lack of storage options (battery technology is still not very advanced), variability in power generation, and the fact that natural gas and coal plants must continue to be used to make up for deficiencies.
Acknowledged - but (1) I still feel that keeping a few million tons of CO2 out of the air must be a good thing and (2) the technology is improving really quickly.
So called smart grids might be a solution, but the problem with all these technological computer-based fixes is that they introduce increasing complexity thus creating more opportunity for calamitous failure, terrorist attack, and so on.
Yes, that is problematic. However, the problem is not unique to renewables. Do you remember a big blackout a few years ago? One fault spread through the not-smart-enough grid and knocked out most of the eastern US - and it had nothing to do with renewable power.
If any thing, centralization of power generation not a desiderata.
I'm not sure what you mean by that ... you may have to use a few more words.