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Last Updated on:  06/25/2015 06:30 AM

 
For a comparison, suppose a photovoltaic solar energy system was spread out on the same 50 mile by 0.5 mile plot of land that my train system above might require.  If the solar system had a 10% fill factor (only 10% of the area would have solar cells), a 10% conversion efficiency, 6 hours of sun per day it would generate 4.2 million kilowatt-hours or about 420 million dollars worth of electricity each day.  Clearly for a given large area, the photovoltaic system produces more power.
If we can imagine a photovoltaic panel as big as the million square foot wind sail, each panel could generate 10 million watts. This figure is much less than a wind sail train at 30 MPH wind.  But, at 18 MPH, the sail would be no better than the PV area.
A 250,000 volt, 3 phase transmission line should be able to carry about 500 million watts with a current of 1000 amps.

1.356 joules = 1 foot-pound (pound of force x one foot distance)

1 joule = 0.7375 foot-pounds.

So, 10,000 pounds of force applied toward a mass moved 250,000 feet would require 3.4 billion joules of energy.
If we wanted a sailtrain to generate 44 million watts of power for a period of 5 hours, the energy would be 44 x 5 = 220 million watt-hours or 800 billion joules. If the distance is 50 miles or 250,000 feet, then the pulling force on the train would be 3.17 million pounds.  Clearly, a big rope would be needed for such a pull.  It would require over 32 one inch diameter ropes, each rated with a tensile strength of 100,000 pounds.  But, to withstand wind gusts, perhaps each rope would need to be rated at 1 million pounds

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