Where are the solar power projects?

Electric towers and power lines cross the proposed site of a BrightSource Energy solar plant near Primm, Nev. The presence of existing towers make the area a prime site for solar development.

From the Ventura County Star:

ROACH DRY LAKE, Nev. — Not a light bulb’s worth of solar electricity has been produced on the millions of acres of public desert set aside for it. Not one project to build glimmering solar farms has even broken ground.

Instead, five years after federal land managers opened up stretches of the Southwest to developers, vast tracts still sit idle.

An Associated Press examination of U.S. Bureau of Land Management records and interviews with agency officials show that the BLM operated a first-come, first-served leasing system that quickly overwhelmed its small staff and enabled companies, regardless of solar industry experience, to squat on land without any real plans to develop it.

As the nation drills ever deeper for oil off its shores and tries to diversify its energy supply, the federal government has failed to use the land it already has — some of the world’s best for solar — to produce renewable electricity.

The Obama administration says it is expediting the most promising projects, with some approvals expected as soon as this month. And yet, it will be years before the companies begin sending electricity to the Southwest’s sprawling, energy-hungry cities.

Read more: http://www.vcstar.com/news/2010/sep/01/land-leased-for-solar-power-unused/#ixzz0yMLDZjM2

– vcstar.com

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190 thoughts on “Where are the solar power projects?

  1. Costs too much. ROI about 2% not including operating costs. Here’s a project http://www.wickedlocal.com/chelmsford/news/x1422850429/Chelmsfords-Crooked-Spring-solar-panel-array-running-by-October which will produce “500 kw per hour for an average of four to five hours per day” for $2.8 million. They didn’t mention that those figures only count for the summer months and doesn’t include cloudy days.
    In http://www.uml.edu/Media/eNews/Chelmsford_Solar_Project.html they say 588 kWh per year which is $60k per year for almost $4 million.

  2. Like most anything else, these companies/speculators are waiting for a guaranteed profit before they pop big bucks for construction. Land is cheap and can always be sold for some other purpose or to someone who’s willing to take the risk of development. Regardless of any public/political emotional attachment to solar, this is strictly business for these companies/speculators. The only green of concern is money.

  3. Hey, guys, you gotta start somewhere.
    In each arena of human progress, there was a period where the business was unprofitable. Look at computers, look at aeroplanes, look at automobiles, look at anything: what you see is a period where things must be tried out, the key components identified and the means to optimise them automated. There is always a point at which things become mainstream.
    Look at mobile phones. Until 1997, there were a niche item for rich guys and the handsets were large and unwieldy. Now, they’re light, fashion accessories with text message functions, access to the web and all kinds of other things. And the mobile majors cleaned up.
    The technology still needs to get better. And it will.
    So either you’re saying: ‘hold your horses before you go bigtime, we need another XXX iterations of Moore’s law before we’re ready to go’ or you say ‘we need pilot projects to work out the issues concerning long-term usage, outage issues etc etc’.
    I don’t know which is right for the US, but that’s where the debate needs to be guys…..

  4. Companies LOVE incentive packages that add to the overall profitablilty in multi-year contracts. Many countries are paying well above the current energy prices to get these projects established.
    The technology still stinks for the actual amount of power being generated and the later maintenance costs.

    • paulw,
      You do know how ridiculous that advocacy study was don’t you?
      They consider China and Brazil selling fuel cheaply to their citizens as a big part of the study’s “fossil fuel” subsidies, perhaps the majority. I don’t remember.
      I don’t think they don’t factor in agricultural subsidies which were spent to produce biofuels.
      But the big problem with the study is that they just add up dollars without considering dollar per unit energy.
      Since renewables account for less than 1% of the world’s energy, that means they are subsidized at rates far in excess of 10 times that of conventional sources, perhaps double, triple, or more when calculated properly. I really don’t feel like looking it up right now.

  5. Currently, a 200 Watt solar panel costs about $500-600 and lasts for 30 years. It does not require much maintenance apart from the occasional cleaning with Windex :-).
    If there is more effort and competition on solar panels, the price can definitely go lower. It makes sense to put these on your roof and sell the excess electricity to the utilities.

  6. Hey Rhys
    “Hey, guys, you gotta start somewhere.”
    But this is not a start. In fact there have been billions spent on solar projects around the world. If you want to check out the underwhelming results of solar and windpower look no further than Spain where you will find it rife with rorting of the subsidies and major failings to produce anything like reliable level of power. It just can’t seriously meet the challenge of base load power.
    Here in Australia where we also have no shortage of sun we are struggling to get big solar projects off the ground. Why? Because they are not financially viable and the capital risk is too high. Having said that our socialist govt are trying to improve that situation by increasing taxes on non-renewable power bills. Up by 63% in this last year and expected to double again this year. They will make it competitive by manipulating the existing market. What they ignore is that price is still just one part of the problem. Reliability is the other.

  7. The meme about subsidized fossil fuel production is ridiculous. According to the study referenced by paulw the amounts were $72 billion over a seven-year period for fossil fuel and $29 billion for renewables. That’s $29 billion or around 40% of the larger amount for an industry that generates a low single digit percentage of the total energy produced in the United States. Even then, according to that same study, the fossil fuel subsidies were targeted to “aid foreign oil production.” This falls into the category of read your own references before you quote them.

  8. Unless you have an iron clad contract for future years from government medling, massive taxing or whatever, what company really wants to do business if they may get hammered later?
    Is the governing bodies trustworthy anymore?
    Word of mouth is just hot air. 100% protected signed contracts are the future now as any litigation can be very costly.
    There is too many other countries that will give these companies what they want.
    So taking away the bait in subsitities….is it really a good idea?

  9. To me it seems its really a matter of if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, and clearly there’s no compelling evidence that coal, gas or oil generation are going to cause the planet to fry. Also, I don’t recall that computers, aircraft, automobiles and mobile phones had, nor needed Government mandated markets in order to prosper.
    That’s not to say that genuine developmental research (not funded by green taxes) on renewables isn’t worthwhile. But long term, only if renewables can do the job better and cheaper while competing in a genuine free market will they have an enduring future – the man made warming scam won’t be around for ever.
    Notwithstanding, it should be acknowledged that certain renewables do compete well in niche applications e.g. remote off grid power.

  10. No mention of failure to use the land for drilling for oil. Just covering everything with solar panels. I wonder, what would be the side effects of that?
    BTW, did you know coal can be refined into liquid fuel? Sure can, it’s called the Fischer-Tropsch process, and in results in cleaner fuel, because the coal is first converted to a gas, and the gas then used to complete the refining process. The gasification stage filters out contaminants found in coal and normal oil.
    And at what costs? Glad you asked, Texas University just did a study pilot plant for Canada which concludes gasoline and diesel could be produced at less than $30 barrel equivalent to oil. Including plant costs.
    And did you know, the Crow Indians in Montana on their reservation are actually building such a production refinery? Seems the EPA cannot run the reservations, entirely. Although they have been trying everything to shut them down. Why? Maybe they don’t want this spreading to other reservations?
    Nevertheless, there are several coal refining plants being built in China ….
    Gov Crist actually was pushing for solar plants to be built in Florida … I guess “hurricane alley” never occurred to our oblivious governor.
    Remember, at what cost — First law of engineering, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

  11. Rhys Jaggar says:
    September 2, 2010 at 3:09 am
    “Hey, guys, you gotta start somewhere.
    In each arena of human progress, there was a period where the business was unprofitable. Look at computers, look at aeroplanes, look at automobiles, look at anything: what you see is a period where things must be tried out, the key components identified and the means to optimise them automated. There is always a point at which things become mainstream.”

    I’m still waiting for my jet pack for the front coat closet and my flying car to park in in my garage. They’ve been available for decades, but they haven’t reached my price point ;o)

  12. The main problem with solar right now is how inefficient the current panels are. I’ve been reading about breakthroughs in solar panel designs for a long time now; I have yet to see one come to market. Why? If I remember correctly, the best solar panel ever made was around 25% efficient. I believe production solar panels are under 15% efficient. It is the classic catch-22 really: solar adoption doesn’t take off because it is too expensive and too inexpensive but the only way make it more efficiency and less expensive is by mass production.

  13. Think BIG! Solar energy is not for the faint-hearted.
    See http://www.desertec.org for details.
    Also, see THIS most-informative page on green energy in Germany:
    http://www.spiegel.de/wirtschaft/0,1518,713395,00.html
    Sorry, german only. But lots of graphics. You will get the idea. To sum it up:
    Worldwide, the green energy sector has become a thriving multi-billion-dollar enterprise with a rate of grow exceeding 30 percent per annum in certain markets.
    In Germany alone, 500,000 people are working in the green energy-sector today, already. Re-calculated for the USA, an equally developed marked for green energy would put 2.5 MILLION people to work – in jobs, which CANNOT be outsourced, because they have to be performed locally, to be economically competitive: Like manufacturing, assembly, installation, maintenance…
    Again: Once the power is installed, the raw material producing the energy is ABSOLUTELY FREE, IS GREEN AS-CAN-BE, and it is availlable in abundance for BILLIONS of years to come – because it’s wind and sunshine!
    Everybody everywhere is rushing to secure his share of the green energy market – except in the USA. Makes you think, doesnt it…?

  14. Paul,
    The story you cite simply states the subsidies exist for traditional fuels but doesn’t go beyond that. Please explain what you are talking about.
    Mike

  15. paulW,
    If the report you site was honest and factual you might have something to brush aside the complete boondoggle of alternative power.
    But the report is not either honest or factual and you are brushing nothing aside.
    Solar is a joke.

  16. paulw says:
    September 2, 2010 at 4:14 am
    Shall we cut these subsidies?

    Paul, What is the percentage subsidy per joule of energy delivered to end user for solar and oil? I am talking about energy delivered, not nameplate capacity on the generating equipment.
    50 Billion dollars in subsidy is an enormous cost per kilowatt hour for a energy producing system that is so unreliable it requires 100% backup from other sources to supply base load power.
    If 100% backup generating capacity is required to use solar, why even spend the money on it. Just go with the backup system and save the price of the solar.

  17. The real problem is uncertainty on future government policy.
    These renewable projects farm tax subsidies, rather than producing energy profits. If future policy is uncertain, there may not be any subsidies to farm in future years – and you will end up with a financial turkey instead of a swan.
    Difficult to commit hard cash, in these circumstances.
    .

  18. And paul w,
    Since you are now trolling this idea that oil companies receive ‘subsidies’, I took the time to read your link.
    Here is how your scam link seems to define ‘subsidy’:
    “#
    Deductions for drilling cost
    Credits for low-volume oil and gas wells
    Manufacturing tax deductions for oil and gas companies.”
    So the oil industry will no longer be able to deduct the cost of drilling, small producers of oil and gas, and operators of high cost will not be able to get returns, and tax deductions for manufacturing costs related to the petrochemicals we all-even green trolls like you- rely on will go away.
    Not one of those, except possibly the tax credits for small wells, is a subsidy.
    And the bogus article then insults the intelligence of the reader by asserting that somehow the government will ‘save’ money by ending for oil what every business does- deduct costs for developing and building things.
    The solar and windmill industry are the ones that are subsidized. To attract any investors at all, solar and wind have to receive direct price supports, preferential pricing on the power they produce when the sun shines and the wind blows, and tax treatments for their investments that normal industries can only dream of.
    So troll on with your false claims about subsidy for oil all you want. You only show that the finances and economics of AGW believers is as empty as their belief in a CO2 climate catastrophe.

  19. Solar panels (and thermal solar power) are very sensitive to dust. Even a very thin dust layer will cut power production drastically. Ask the people who runs the Mars Rovers if you don’t believe me. That means that those power plants will have to be cleaned pretty frequently. With fresh water. In a desert.
    Anybody seen any figures on how much that will cost?

  20. “Currently, a 200 Watt solar panel costs about $500-600 and lasts for 30 years. … It makes sense to put these on your roof and sell the excess electricity to the utilities.
    Right. Let’s see, electricity costs less than $0.20/kwh, so that panel will general a maximum of $0.04/hour. In a typical climate, you are looking at an average of 5 hours/day peak-equivalent generation, and 200 days/year of clear skies. Figure 1000 hours of peak-equivalent generation per year, and you have $40. It will take you 15 years just to get your investment back – with no interest!
    This discounts many important facts:
    – You must have an inverter, and an approved electrical installation, costing several thousand dollars and generating nothing.
    – The efficiency of your system will be much less than 100%.
    – The efficiency of solar cells degrades over time.
    Financially, generating electricity using solar cells makes no sense at all. Other forms of solar power – for example, thermal, to drive steam generators – may work, but not on the roof of your house.

  21. paulw…
    You might find it worth taking a look at another blog – one that is essentially economics-based – that has examined this “report” more closely, which summarises thus:-
    Last page. Who are the subsidisers? In order, Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia, India, China, Egypt, Venezuela, Mexico, Indonesia, Argentina, Iraq, Uzbekistan, UAE and so on….
    Absolutely none of the advanced industrialised countries are providing sufficient subsidy to even make the list. Only 8 of the G-20 do ….and none of the rich ones.
    So, you see what they’ve done? They’ve compared what poor countries do to subsidise fossil fuels with what rich countries do to subsidise renewables….and yet left us with the impression that it’s all rich countries doing both.
    Think for a moment: they’re comparing $50 billion with $550 billion, as if it is therefore obvious that we (the US, UK etc) should therefore both reduce fossil sibsidies and increase renewables. But what on earth does Iran subsidising petrol have to do with how much the UK or Germany should subsidise solar PV?
    Quite, nothing.
    Now I’m all in favour of those fossil subsidies being entirely done away with but not for climate change reasons. Rather, WTF is a poor place like Iran doing giving $100 billion to car drivers?
    Or, if you prefer, sure, get rid of those subsidies but don’t think that they’ve got anything at all to do with us here in the rich world at all.

    For the full details see: http://timworstall.com/2010/08/04/my-god-the-lying-bastards/#more-16703

  22. Michae Schaefer says:
    “in jobs, which CANNOT be outsourced, because they have to be performed locally, to be economically competitive: Like manufacturing, assembly, installation, maintenance…”
    If you think that manufacturing and assembly can’t be competitively outsourced you’re in for a nasty surprise, because they already are. Installation admittedly has to be performed locally, but probably not by local labour. The same for maintenance. It will be partly performed locally, but by travelling maintenance teams, and the faulty units sent back to the manufacturer or a specialist maintenance supplier somewhere else, quite possibly overseas, for repair. Wake up to the real World, man.

  23. The idea of the sun and wind being “new” and needing special funding, is incredible. The sun has been shining on earth and creating wind long before we left the primordial stew. With the exception of atomic power, all of our energy comes from the sun and always has and likely always will. Petroleum, coal, corn, wind, wave, sugar, wood, dung, hydro .. all require for the sun for an energy source. At some point in their production most of these sources have had to combine a bit of sunshine and our true best friend “C02” to sequester some energy for later use. Hydro and wind just use the heat and its evaporative powers. People have been studying it every day ( it is closed most nights) since the first dawn. New indeed.

  24. paulw,
    FYI back in 1982, I work as a technicain while getting my degree on a research project for creating solar arrays out of aluminum foil and silicone with hydrogen bromide fuel cells. It was quickly discovered that there was no payback on the fuel cells, so they concentrated on the solar arrays only. After all you can’t get much cheaper than alumuinum foil and sand.
    They still had problems making it pay; in order to produce the arrays, a wide variety of acids were used making production an environmental problem. In addition, very high temperatures were required to finish the arrays, using a large amount of energy. After 15 years, the project was shelved as being financial unsound.
    I’m sure they’ve made great strides in solar systems since my experience, but if they are even slightly similar, I can’t see how they would ever have a payback or how they could be considered zero emmisions energy sources. And this is disregarding the transmission and energy storage issues.
    Don’t get me wrong, I still think it solar should be pursued, I just think it’s going to take more time and shouldn’t be thought of as a cure all for energy ills.

  25. If you installed a 100 km long hydrokinetic turbine string off the coast of Florida, you can generate permanently 5 giga watts. Thats great then the combined Canadian and American output of Niagara Falls at much lesser cost. If you interlace and multiplex the string you can up the power to 25 gigawatts. (per 100km)

  26. paulw says:
    September 2, 2010 at 3:27 am
    “Fossil Fuel Subsidies Are 12 Times Support for Renewables, Study Shows
    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-07-29/fossil-fuel-subsidies-are-12-times-support-for-renewables-study-shows.html
    Who would have thought that the government subsidies on fossil fuels are more than half a trillion dollars. Compared to this, subsidies for renewables are under $50b.”
    Paul, as Jeez says this is a ridiculus study intended to decieve the public and only an unformed person would believe the story . And none of the information actually presented re subsidies applies to the US fosssil fuels. If you check the basis for the study you will find that one of the largest government subidies was from China and dates to the period where oil prices were quite high and they admit that it is no longer accurate as oil prices dropped. China subsidized the consumer of the energy to keep it’s economy running since high oil prices would kill their industry.
    This study also include subsidies by other Countries such as Venzuela that subsidize the consumer so that they can continue to buy gasoline for their auto’s at very cheap prices. This is one of the ways Chavez avoids a revolution. I believe Iran was also a large subsidizer of fuel to consumers.
    Bloomberg is misleading the uninformed to make them believe there is a huge subsidy for Fossil fuels as they fail to give the details as to what/where subsidies are applied. The data does not apply to the US market. Think Bloomberg has an agenda by the omission of the facts behind the claim? Unfortunately one can no longer trust Bloomberg for reliable information .

  27. “paulw says:
    September 2, 2010 at 3:34 am
    Currently, a 200 Watt solar panel costs about $500-600 and lasts for 30 years. It does not require much maintenance apart from the occasional cleaning with Windex :-).”
    Mate, you are very misinformed.

  28. In each arena of human progress, there was a period where the business was unprofitable. Look at computers, look at aeroplanes, look at automobiles, look at anything: what you see is a period where things must be tried out, the key components identified and the means to optimise them automated. There is always a point at which things become mainstream.
    Look at mobile phones. Until 1997, there were a niche item for rich guys and the handsets were large and unwieldy. Now, they’re light, fashion accessories with text message functions, access to the web and all kinds of other things. And the mobile majors cleaned up.

    I’d take issue with the first part of your argument. Every new technology you cited was profitable immediately upon production. It was expensive and it was very much a niche market but it was profitable. The only exception might be computers, the first of which were built by universities for research purposes and used by various governments for code cracking. The first manufactured aeroplanes were profitable or they wouldn’t have been made. The first mobile phones were profitable or they would never have got out the door. The first cars? THey made a fortune.
    You’re confusing profitable with costly. Something may cost a lot, but if it brings in more than it costs then it will be profitable. Solar doesn’t do that. It’s hugely expensive, but people aren’t willing to pay for it without heavy government subsidy. That isn’t a cost-effective technology. There was no subsidy on cars or planes and mobile phones and microcomputers but they were profitable straight away despite being toys for rich people.
    And you’re missing the cost-effectiveness of a technology. A car allowed travel further and faster for relatively less cost. It was more efficient than previous technologies. Mobile phones were more efficient than fixed phones, even when they were little more than field radios with a rotary dial stuck on the front. Solar isn’t cost effective. Without subsidy, it costs more to purchase than you will ever save from using it. It needs more money for operation than it will make. It cannot be profitable for the user without subsidy. The company manufacturing solar panels will make money on them because it can sell at a price-point that allows it to do so, but it can only sell at that price-point when the government provides a subsidy to the purchaser. And because of the high cost of the panels, utilities that make use of them for power generation can only make a profit if they then price their power high enough, or are able to create a mandated demand for their electricity generation. Without the government mandating use from renewables and providng subsidies for their continued use, solar power and wind power would never get any use at all.
    The same can’t be said for coal and oil, or cars and phones.
    Solar is inefficient, expensive and limited in where it can be used. It’s a dead-end. Without subsidy it would never be used for mass power generation.

  29. Paulw:
    That article doesn’t tell how those numbers were arrived at:
    Did it include govt. subsidies / price controls that many oil producing nations give their own citizens to keep gasoline super cheap?
    Did it subtract out the billions in tax revenues that governments collect on taxes, fees, and import duties. Some European countries pay $8 a gallon for gas with a majority of that being taxes. I pay some really stiff fees and taxes on my electric and gas bill to pay for all those damn solar SREC’s being paid out. Did that get included?

  30. BTW, did you know coal can be refined into liquid fuel? Sure can, it’s called the Fischer-Tropsch process, and in results in cleaner fuel, because the coal is first converted to a gas, and the gas then used to complete the refining process. The gasification stage filters out contaminants found in coal and normal oil.
    A friend of mine was involved in that study at UT. It’s viable but the funding for it has tapered off. The new project is liquifying natural gas into diesel and jet fuel. The U.S. has a 600 year supply of natural gas. Easier than coal extraction as the gas comes to you; they’ve starting pilots on oil rigs in the gulf where the gas that was previously burned off is now being processed into liquid fuels.
    Solar is a myth and will likely not be practical in our lifetime. For a parallel, one might look at electric cars – the technology existed in 1905, but it’s taken 100 years to become realistically commerically viable.

  31. tty says:
    September 2, 2010 at 5:36 am
    Solar panels (and thermal solar power) are very sensitive to dust. Even a very thin dust layer will cut power production drastically. Ask the people who runs the Mars Rovers if you don’t believe me. That means that those power plants will have to be cleaned pretty frequently. With fresh water. In a desert.
    Anybody seen any figures on how much that will cost?

    It takes more than just plain fresh water. It also requires a cleaning agent. Take a look at the inside of a shower door after a few weeks. It will be gunked up with mineral deposits from the water itself. For solar panels, add in damage from blowing sand, bird droppings, hail, and so on depending on location. If they are the mobile variety that self positions towards the sun, then you also have mechanical components that are subject to wear & breakdown. Ma Nature is very tough on things that are out in the weather.
    Mars is a different story; no humidity, rain, etc. just the very fine dust which can be blown off, although it will eventually cause degradation of the surface from fine scratches.

  32. paulw says:
    September 2, 2010 at 4:14 am
    We should cut ALL subsidy.
    Michael Schaefer says:
    September 2, 2010 at 5:14 am
    I don’t even know where to start with the folly here. Manufacture of this equipment WILL NOT occur in America. Solar and Wind are free? So are hydrocarbon fuels. Both incur the costs of leased land or mineral rights, costs of development, and costs of delivery, and maintenance of equipment. There is no free lunch. If it’s such a smoking deal, why not cover your home in solar panels? Try the $40k price tag to realize a 50% reduction in your power bill.

  33. Thorium reactors are cool, and they should be developed as one of the many sources of electricity. Currently they exist as prototypes (for example in India, which has 25% of world deposits). It should take some time before we are able to deliver electricity from thorium. We do not have a national plan to deliver thorium plants as the effort is still in the research stage.
    What we can do is continue developing solar energy. There are several technologies in development and there should be breakthroughs soon that will drop the price of the solar panels and increase the electricity they produce. See, for example, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_cell which mentions research by the NREL (US) for good cheap solar panels.
    My concern is the outright rejection of solar energy by commenters in this post. Apart from having disparate views on what is going on with the climate, there are aggressive views that dismiss the usefulness of solar energy.
    Is there something that the world does not know about solar energy (is solar futile?) that my fellow commenters know?
    Is the world wrong and you (fellow commenters) right about solar energy?

  34. Way before it was fashionable [in 1984] I installed a solar heater for my swimming pool. It consisted of 12 3.5 X 7 foot boxes enclosing black anodized copper tubing under a plate glass wind barrier [if the tubing isn’t enclosed it will act as a radiator, and any breezes will greatly reduce the heating capacity].
    Simple, very effective — but far from being maintenance-free. If the plate glass wasn’t cleaned at least weekly the heating efficiency went way down.
    Maybe the government’s new hi-tech green jobs will provide work for unemployed window cleaners. ☺

  35. Paulw
    If you read the article you will see what Obama calls a subsidy. Actualy the article more accurately calls the tax breaks:
    “Tax breaks that would get axed include:
    Deductions for drilling costs
    Credits for low-volume oil and gas wells
    Manufacturing tax deductions for oil and gas companies.”
    The objective is to kill US oil production and find a way to pay for all the wasteful spending by Obama and Congress. Most people do not know the massive amount of taxes already paid to the treasury by fossil fuel via leasing, royalities , and direct taxes.
    Should Companies be able to deduct drilling costs as Obama proposes to eliminate?
    The reasonable answer is yes unless one mis represents it as a subsidy.
    In recent past the largest contributor to the US Treasury after income tax was leasing and royalities. Obama has already significantly reduced this income thus growing his deficit. This sounds like killing the goose that lays the golden egg.
    Fact: In 2008, the U.S. collected almost $23 billion in revenues from federal oil and gas production and leases: $13 billion in royalties and $10 billion in bonus bids.
    If you follow investments in the oil and gas industry, unfortunately the investments are moving overseas.
    Finally can anyone explain why Obama is subsidizing Brazil oil drilling offshore in deep water with low interest loans while attacking US drilling? Many like to tout Brazil’s ethanol production while ignoring the massive ongoing oil exploration there subsidized by US taxpayers. Their oil production has turned their economy around !!

  36. In Germany alone, 500,000 people are working in the green energy-sector today, already. Re-calculated for the USA, an equally developed marked for green energy would put 2.5 MILLION people to work – in jobs, which CANNOT be outsourced, because they have to be performed locally, to be economically competitive: Like manufacturing, assembly, installation, maintenance…
    Again: Once the power is installed, the raw material producing the energy is ABSOLUTELY FREE, IS GREEN AS-CAN-BE, and it is availlable in abundance for BILLIONS of years to come – because it’s wind and sunshine!

    So, let me get this right. An industry that is going to have to employ an EXTRA 2.5 million folks is going to get us the same amount of energy more efficiently and more cheaply than the current system?
    I. Don’t. Think. So.

  37. I have reviewed the annual report of Exxon. I have done financial audits and rendered opinions on financial statements. Price Waterhouse does this and it is now under the sarbanes Oxley act. If there are subsidies to Exxon, why are they not reported in the annual report? I remind the people that claim subsidies, If Exxon gets them, they are in deep trouble to not report them. slip over to the 10K filings on exxon Mobil and they just are not there.
    Greenie weenie accounting standards rename ordinary tax deductions for depreciation, materials and labor as subsidies.
    Lets talk about subsidies. For solar to kick off, they need direct cash inducements to build paid on the front end. Wind energy had incentives to build. They also had incentives in the rest of the cycle including distribution systems.
    Example:
    If a cheese curl factory had the government load, truck and deliver snacks, they could make more money.
    Solar wants a gathering and distribution grid paid for by others to distribute the electric.

  38. bradley13 says:
    September 2, 2010 at 5:41 am
    It’s a pity you can’t explain that to David Cameron and more importantly Chris Huhne (Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change in the UK coalition government) they haven’t understood the basics.
    From the “Energy Saving Trust” this is what you get selling power from a domestic source
    Export tariff – you will receive a further 3p/kWh from your energy supplier for each unit you export back to the electricity grid, that is when it isn’t used on site. The export rate is the same for all technologies.

  39. This is shocking. I am a strong believer of Obama, but this is really disappointing.
    When the world is in need of the renewable energy resources which can replace fossil fuels and are pollution free thus non-utilization of the land which is best suited for generating solar energy is very disappointing. Negligence from the federal government in this concern is not at all acceptable or even understandable. We must raise a petition related to this issue so that awareness can be generated about the same and to get this issue resolved at the earliest.
    I think it is high time we started taking nature and our planet earth seriously and do our bit about environment, sustainability, climate change, biodiversity, clean energy, green living and so on. [snip – commercial soliciting]

  40. Why spend billions building the world’s most expensive and second to wind most inefficient power? Solar as well as wind demand 100% back-up from fossil fuel and solar in prime desert locations must utilize fossil fuel as back-up 60% (wind 75%) of the time. The reduction in pollution and carbon dioxide emissions from the massive programs wanted cannot produce any measurable reductions. They cannot clean the air, they cannot save any oil. They would also be used as an excuse for trillions in carbon taxes.

  41. I did some research into the field of solar cells a while ago while I was working on a project for a flexible organic circuit. The efficiency of direct-transfer solar cells (that is, cells that absorb light directly from the sun and convert it to energy) is pretty low. The standard cells are silicon PV cells that run about 10-20% efficiency (there’s an Aussie firm that can make one at 25% if I recall). Using a thin-film can increase efficiency. Last I checked, carbon-based polymer junctions were languishing at 6% efficiency (that’s worse than your solar-powered calculator cells).
    Using varying metals, efficiency has been reported as high as 40% with a Ga / Ge / As material. Unfortunately, the cost of In and Ge have doubled in the past 6 years due to the demand of the new solar start-ups.
    I just did a search and discovered a paper by some researchers at The Ohio State University that claims near 100% efficiency from a Mo / Ti / polymer material. Call me skeptical whenever someone claims one material can absorb the entire EM spectrum. But the paper is below. If this is true, Mo / Ti would greatly reduce the cost of solar cells while increasing the energy generated by the cells.
    http://www.tgdaily.com/trendwatch-features/39807-new-solar-cell-material-achieves-almost-100-efficiency-could-solve-world-w

  42. Michael Schaefer says:
    September 2, 2010 at 5:14 am
    Everybody everywhere is rushing to secure his share of the green energy market – except in the USA. Makes you think, doesnt it…?
    Yes, it makes me think the whole “green energy” concept is a scam, and so far, anyway, we haven’t fallen for it. So-called “green” energy is expensive, unreliable, and in many cases has damaging environmental effects rivaling or exceeding the energy sources it is meant to replace. The one big selling point? Low “carbon” emissions, which itself is a huge scam.
    Follow the money.

  43. Is there something that the world does not know about solar energy

    Other than the fact that solar can only deliver energy a few hours a day, only on days with no clouds, at enormous cost, you mean?
    Even were they cost-competitive, solar and wind both have one glaring problem – no efficient storage method currently exists which could take any theoretical excess they might produce, and output it to the grid for the huge sections of time when they produce absolutely no output. Intermittent unpredictable output is not a good idea for an electrical grid.
    “The world” is using solar on feel-good vanity projects, not as a serious replacement for anything.

  44. Solar is a perpetually infant technology which has held out great promises of less costly, more efficient technology for the last 30 years. I have a suggestion, when it becomes reality we will build it. Until then, keep it in the lab.

  45. Nuclear can clean the air hundreds of times more efficiently at less than 1/5 the cost with 90% online efficiency, requires no fossil fuel back-up. the waste can be recycled making it renewable. the capital cost is 1/3 less expensive than wind and has an operating cost (both per kwh) 1/3 less than wind. Wind or solar plants have a 20 year life, tops. Nuclear 60 and counting.

  46. Paulw,
    I am against most subsidies although some do provide benefits. However, your use of dollar values is clouding the picture. As jeez stated you need to look a units of energy. When viewed this way renewables get 6x the subsidies of fossil fuels in the US. This is based on DOE numbers. Gives one quite a different perspective.

  47. Archonix says:
    “September 2, 2010 at 6:03 am
    In each arena of human progress, there was a period where the business was unprofitable. Look at computers, look at aeroplanes, look at automobiles, look at anything: what you see is a period where things must be tried out, the key components identified and the means to optimise them automated. There is always a point at which things become mainstream.
    Look at mobile phones. Until 1997, there were a niche item for rich guys and the handsets were large and unwieldy. Now, they’re light, fashion accessories with text message functions, access to the web and all kinds of other things. And the mobile majors cleaned up.”
    Not one of which was subsidized with tax money.

  48. Jon says:
    September 2, 2010 at 7:08 am
    Solar is a perpetually infant technology which has held out great promises of less costly, more efficient technology for the last 30 years. I have a suggestion, when it becomes reality we will build it. Until then, keep it in the lab.

    My position exactly. I have no problem with research *subsidies* if a technology has promise. But, let’s quit trying to put low efficiency devices in service. It’s a waste of money and time.

  49. HR>
    “I’m still waiting for my jet pack for the front coat closet and my flying car to park in in my garage. They’ve been available for decades, but they haven’t reached my price point ;o)”
    To be fair, we might finally see them at a reasonable price soon – the flying car that is. It’s noteworthy in this context that it took a totally new way of thinking about the concept to make it viable, though – see Parajet’s website for more info, but basically, it’s a big paraglider. Must have been a bit of a ‘doh’ moment for all the other skycar manufacturers: ‘we’ve been barking up the wrong tree for fifty years’.

  50. Rhys Jaggar says:
    September 2, 2010 at 3:09 am

    Look at mobile phones. Until 1997, there were a niche item for rich guys and the handsets were large and unwieldy. Now, they’re light, fashion accessories with text message functions, access to the web and all kinds of other things. And the mobile majors cleaned up.

    Ok, I can agree with that. The big difference here, is government subsidies. If you’re rich, go ahead with all the solar power/renewable power you want, just don’t expect the low-middle income to pay for anything they don’t want/can’t afford. Don’t force me to double my energy bill for the same consumption. To go with your analogy, I’m forced to get a cell phone in 1997 costing me $140 a month, when I’m quite happy with hard wired service for half the cost.

  51. Wind and solar are supplemental to fossil fuel. They are expensive and discontinuous. They actually make work for the stable power sources by requiring throttling back engines, penstocks, reactors, and boilers to accommodate the few hours/day the alternate sources contribute.
    If sufficient numbers of unreliable alternate sources chip away at profits and efficiencies of scale in the reliable services the operations become unsustainable financially. That’s when the power companies go on the dole along with the alternate energy sources. That, in fact, may be the objective.

  52. Hey Rhys
    “Hey, guys, you gotta start somewhere.”
    ___________________________________________________
    Solar cells have been around for over one hundred years. The first genuine solar cell was built around 1883 by Charles Fritts My boy friend’s company was selling solar cells way back in the 1970’s. During the same time period computers took off, microwave ovens took off, Cell phones took off and so did many other products because they work and because of a good ROI (return on investment) for their manufacture.
    Solar Cells are limited by the maximum energy input from the sun and the storage of energy problem. Both wind and solar have the erratic power problem and therefore are not really well suited to commercial production without some fancy finagling. Because of that, I am sure investors are waiting for government money to become available before doing anything. It is all about making money off the back of the American taxpayer and not about a viable commercial energy alternative.

  53. “Ventura, aka the City of San Buenaventura, is a lovely place, as is the county.”
    I spent 4 months in Camarillo on a project a few years ago. Beautiful area. Would move there in a heartbeat if I could afford it.

  54. paulw @ 6:28 am says: “Is the world wrong . . .”
    In a word “Yes”. That is not to say there are not locations and instances where solar is a good fit. There are. Here, then, is a deal for you. I live in a rural area and have several acres available for solar panels. You can lease my land and install a solar system for the share of the electricity needed to power my (100% electric) house. You will also have to pay the local public utility district for power when your solar system isn’t doing the job. You will also have to get your project approved by all local, regional, and national authorities, pay for permits, pay taxes, maintance, and so on for the life of the project. Required mitigation for fish and wildlife (think salmon) will also be your responsibility. There is more, I think, but you will have to pay my lawyer to examine all the issues and develop a legal instrument for us to sign that will protect my interests and the interests of future owners of the property, as I don’t expect to be around another 30 to 50 years. I have a sister that lives in a nice house in a restrictive neighborhood. Once you have all the details worked out for me, you can start on the process of developing a solar system for her. Thanks, for your help.

  55. Seems that some things have to happen for solar or wind to be remotely viable:
    1. Whatever ‘grid’ they are feeding needs extremely dynamic management/distribution systems (and a breakthrough in transmission efficiency), or;
    2. Solar/wind can’t be viewed as primary, real-time contributors. Rather, they would be used to pump water uphill, get flywheels going, or somehow ‘fill’ a source that could be tapped at any time. This is not unlike telecom network providers’ uninterruptible power supply systems, where they run off the batteries–which are constantly being fed by ‘the grid’/other.
    3. We stop looking at solar/wind as ‘the answer’ and instead identify those niches where it can or will shortly efficiently displace carbon-based sources.
    Society can’t be expected to change its energy consumption patterns to match the fickle production schedule of solar and wind. Thus, we need to more intelligently harvest and manage them, and temper our expectations of them (which means a certain vocal group needs to stop preaching solar/wind as ‘the answer’).
    My 2 cents.

  56. paulw says:
    September 2, 2010 at 3:27 am
    “Fossil Fuel Subsidies Are 12 Times Support for Renewables”
    There are a whole host of countries that heavily subsidize electricity rates.
    The price Saudi Electric utilities pay for Oil is 46 cents/MBtu. The global price for oil is closer to $13/MBtu. So in effect the Saudi’s are ‘subsidizing’ domestic consumption at the rate of $12.54/MBtu.
    Whether or not the Saudi’s subsidize fossil fuel use is their business and as far as I’m concerned not a reason to subsidize solar projects in the US.

  57. Michael Schaefer says:
    September 2, 2010 at 5:14 am
    …………Everybody everywhere is rushing to secure his share of the green energy market – except in the USA. Makes you think, doesnt it…?
    _____________________________________________________
    So why is Spain near to going bankrupt and cutting solar power income?
    Spain May Cut Income 30% for Operating Solar Plants (Update1)
    New York Post: 2010: The year of bankrupt gov’ts
    From National Public Radio
    FLATOW: ….Germany, Spain, Portugal, they’ve all beefed up their clean energy production. Is this something that we could emulate in this country, or do they have special situations that make it very difficult for us to follow them?
    Dr. BORENSTEIN: Well, actually, I think that Germany, Spain and Portugal stories get presented in two different lights. And after reading quite a bit on it, I think the more negative light is probably the more accurate one. They have thrown huge subsidies at these technologies at a much earlier stage, in some cases, of the technology maturation. It’s been extremely expensive. It started to drive up rates. And as these economies took a hit in 2008 and 2009, they moved away from these policies. As a result the new building of renewable energy there has been really very much curtailed. “

    THAT last tidbit is a bit of a shocker….

  58. Don Shaw sees through the green charade and understands the game playing with words to define what a subsidy is that Obama is doing.
    As for subsidies, below is link to DOE numbers:
    http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/servicerpt/subsidy2/pdf/chap5.pdf
    Fuel………………….subsidy per MWH
    ….
    Coal…………………..0.44
    refined coal……….29.81
    Nat gases……………0.25
    Nuclear………………1.59
    Biomass……………..0.89
    Geothermal………..0.92
    Hydroelectric……..0.67
    Solar………………….24.34
    Wind………………….23.37
    Landfill gas………..1.37
    Municipal waste…0.13
    (renewable)………..1.65
    Then there is the “green jobs”argument. Spain already tried and failed. For every job “created” (it is artificial), two jobs are lost. I don’t have the study here, but it is easy to find.
    How many coal fired power plants have been eliminated as a result of wind and solar? I’ll venture to say none and in fact costs more and creates more “pollution” to operate. Wanna bet?
    refined coal is synthfuels. Although a highly subsidized commodity, it still yields a net gain in electricity output. Wind and solar are net losers. I don’t think refined coal should be subsidized either BTW.

  59. paulw says:
    September 2, 2010 at 3:27 am
    Fossil Fuel Subsidies Are 12 Times Support for Renewables, Study Shows
    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-07-29/fossil-fuel-subsidies-are-12-times-support-for-renewables-study-shows.html
    Beware of misleading reports. To people such as these, a “subsidy” includes tax write-off for equipment and business costs similar to any other business writeoffs that any business is elegible for so it should hardly be called a subsidy. Also if you consider the taxes and royalties paid by these companies to the profit they make, you would see the government makes far more per year (with a few exceptions) for oil and gas we use than the people who find it, get it, and bring it to market. What hypocrites.

  60. Michael Schaefer:
    “Everybody everywhere is rushing to secure his share of the green energy market – except in the USA. Makes you think, doesnt it…?”
    It would make me think that maybe the USA isn’t as dumb as these other countries – if it is true. But the reality is the USA has the highest installed wind capacity of any country in the world.
    And the only reason that others are “rushing” in to the ‘green energy’ market is because of a) massive government subsidies that are b) extracted by compulsory tariffs from the pockets of consumers. In the UK, Renewable Obligation Certificates compel utilities to purchase renewable energy at way above wholesale prices, and the new Feed In Tariff ensures anyone can earn 45p per KwHr from solar panels on their roof. Remove the compulsion and the markets will collapse.
    And these so-called renewable sources are anything but when you factor in that they need spinning back up, consume enormous resources to contruct and install, and wear out at an alarming rate. The last point is more than academic – in Denmark, they have had to replace the gearboxes of wind turbines that are supposedly lifed for 20 years, every 5 years on average. Even if they lasted the full twenty years, so what? You then have to build new ones all over again.
    The fact that countries are ‘rushing’ in speaks more about the gullibility of a credulous political class than it does about good business management.

  61. “”” Rhys Jaggar says:
    September 2, 2010 at 3:09 am
    Hey, guys, you gotta start somewhere. “””
    I would recommend that you start at about 1 kW/m^2 or 100 W/ft^2 maximum peak projected area for the actual interception area, and maybe about 8 hours daily max (average) ; so long as you provide for about four times that total area, because of self shadowing of one collector by another; amd I wouldn’t bet on more than 12-15% efficiency for Solar to grid AC conversion; unless you go steam turbine conversion; which likely takes even more area but somewhat better efficiency.
    That’s where I would start; and then it goes downhill from there.

  62. “”” harrywr2 says:
    September 2, 2010 at 7:59 am
    paulw says:
    September 2, 2010 at 3:27 am
    “Fossil Fuel Subsidies Are 12 Times Support for Renewables”
    There are a whole host of countries that heavily subsidize electricity rates.
    The price Saudi Electric utilities pay for Oil is 46 cents/MBtu. The global price for oil is closer to $13/MBtu. So in effect the Saudi’s are ‘subsidizing’ domestic consumption at the rate of $12.54/MBtu.
    Whether or not the Saudi’s subsidize fossil fuel use is their business and as far as I’m concerned not a reason to subsidize solar projects in the US. “””
    What on earth is the relevence of this piece of information.
    If I own a vineyard that produces table grapes which I sell on the open market; at market rates; what does it matter, that I give a few to my Mother-in-law for next to nothing.
    If Saudi Arabia, suddenly had some real competition from an alternative energy technology (fat chance); they would have to bring their market prices into line; and the lost revenues would force them to charge themselves a higher price than they do now.
    Did I remember to put an “IF” in there somewhere ?
    The bottom line is that the total fossil fuels business cannot be supported through subsidies (paid for by what technology; if you don’t mind me asking ?)

  63. Subsidies to big oil companies. The oil sands of northern Alberta is the example I know something about, so I will restrict my comments to that.
    In the 1990’s, the effective tax rate on net revenue from oil produced from the sands of northern Alberta approached 80%. Simply a matter of provincial royalties of 50% of net revenue, and federal income tax on the entire net revenue. The feds did not allow provincial royalty as a business expense. In the late 1990’s the industry worked with both levels of government to bring the total tax take down to something closer to that applicable to other industries at around 50% of net revenue.
    Of course I am over-simplifying, and stress I am not stating any personal opinion as to the appropriate level of taxation on that industry. I am simply providing an example of a “subsidy”. Every since then, the environmental advocacy industry has cited the difference between an 80% tax rate and a 50% tax rate as a “subsidy”.
    Tax bureaucrats, of course, love high nominal tax rates from which they can dole out “tax expenditures” making their role interesting and important. But it does make everything confusing.
    Advocacy group reports and data such as that cited by Paulm must be understood in the context of my example and many others in the same vein.

  64. paulw says:
    September 2, 2010 at 3:27 am
    “Fossil Fuel Subsidies Are 12 Times Support for Renewables”
    There are a whole host of countries that heavily subsidize electricity rates.
    The price Saudi Electric utilities pay for Oil is 46 cents/MBtu. The global price for oil is closer to $13/MBtu. So in effect the Saudi’s are ‘subsidizing’ domestic consumption at the rate of $12.54/MBtu.
    Whether or not the Saudi’s subsidize fossil fuel use is their business and as far as I’m concerned not a reason to subsidize solar projects in the US.
    paulw says:
    September 2, 2010 at 6:28 am
    “Is there something that the world does not know about solar energy (is solar futile?) that my fellow commenters know?”
    Wind mills are cheaper then solar, both need about the same backup generation.
    So even if one has a ‘renewable energy standard’, as we have on the West Coast, it’s cheaper to meet the standard with windmills rather then solar.
    Solar might have an application in remote areas with poor wind . Or in applications where the cost of wiring exceeds the cost of the panels.

  65. Further to the discussion on subsidies, here is the taxes that one oil company (Exxon) paid in 2008. Think of how much all these companies contribute to the Treasury per year. Apparently this is not enough for the Obama administration and they want the companies to pay more (hope you realize the consumer will pay more for energy if it is available).
    Perhaps someone could tell me how much the solar companies paid in taxes versus how much of a subsidy they get.
    Who is going to fund the treasury if we get rid of the taxes paid by fossil fuels companies? How will we tax electric cars to pay for our roads and transportation system.
    “According to the company’s income statement, the amount of taxes it paid in 2008 was 2.5 times as much as its net profit. The $45.2 billion profit figure makes a snappy headline, but the $116.2 billion in taxes that it paid is relegated to a footnote—if that. Exxon’s tax bill
    breaks down like this: income taxes, $36.5 billion; sales-based taxes, $34.5 billion; “all other” taxes, $45.2 billion. Although the company doesn’t mention royalty payments in its income statement, those payments are likely contained within the sales and “all other” categories.”
    “In 2008, Exxon’s tax bill averaged about $318 million per day. And it paid those taxes at the very same time that the whiz kids on Wall Street, the geniuses at AIG, and the mavens at Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, were begging Uncle Sam for multibillion-dollar life preservers in order to prevent financial chaos. Exxon made huge profits—and paid record taxes—at the very same time that the U.S. financial system was undergoing near-fatal convulsions brought about by excessive speculation, uncontained greed, and a basic failure to provide goods and services needed by the overall economy. How many Americans really need credit default swaps or collateralized debt obligations? Now compare that number with the tens of millions of Americans who absolutely must have gasoline every day.”
    http://politics.usnews.com/opinion/articles/2009/02/11/exxon-big-oil-profits-evil-only-until-you-weigh-their-tax-bills.html

  66. This gets down the crux of the problem with government subidies:
    When governments subsidise production, there’s a disincentive to improve the product. There’s an incentive to be inefficient.
    When governments subsidise reasearch and development, they provide an incentive to improve and to innovate.
    Government subsidies on products forces all taxpayers to become customers. Subsidised manufacturers become enslaved to the subsidies and the whims of government.

  67. How do we know oil is a fossil fuel and not formed naturally within the earth. Most dead animals and plants are consumed on the surface. Can there be that much that is not consumed to account for all the oil? How many dead dinosaurs does it take to make a quart of oil. And as far as green energy is concerned, shouldn’t it be actually made practical before we commit to it. Practical energy should not eat up thousands of acres of land and should not create a massive oven or be so loud or be a bird swatter. Practical energy should not have to depend on “fossil” fuel when the wind stops and the sun goes down or to just operate. Practical energy should be available 24/7/360. It should be affordable, dependable and not be an irritant.
    And why has the federal government got so much land in the first place.

  68. Every one kwh of solar or wind requires one kwh of fossil fuel continuously idling and ready to jump in at any time. Since the fossil fuel electricity has to be there and cost 20% of the wind or solar at most, it begs the question,”Why not just run the fossil fuel 100% of the time’
    Worried about running out in 100-200 years…then build nuclear. Nothing else makes sense.

  69. Current CO2 ~385 PPM. 3% from fossil fuel, 97% natural (per IPCC 2007 report). 25% from the US. Proposed reduction with Cap and tax 15 to 20% of that 25%.
    385x.03x.25x.20= 0.5775 PPM or 0.0000006 part of the atmosphere. Immeasurable. Why spend the trillions on such a futile effort when the expense is sure to collapse an already teetering economy?

  70. Subsidies (real ones) are a smokescreen to disguise the real problems of any particular enterprise.
    The first mistake is in the assumption that the problems of enterprise (A) are economic ones. Let’s say that (A) happens to be a solar cell electric farm. We can’t build it because it is “uneconomic”. If that is indeed true; then the world is full of economists; among whom must be some who are smart enough to solve those “economic” problems.
    Hey, I’m not an economist; but even I am smart enough to solve this “economic” problem. I put on my Obamanation hat, and I slap an imperial tax on fossil fuel energy sources. …. BIG one !! $1meg per barrel of sweet Arabian Crude equivalent. And I “invest” all those tax funds in my political friends solar cell electric farms.
    See how easy that is….”economic problem” gone poof ! in a few seconds with my oval office pen.
    JC !! you should hear all my solar cell electric farm political supporters hollerin’ about the price of solar cells. Seems like when sweet Arabian crude cost $60 per barrel; and my friends could make 20 Watts worth of solar panels out of the energy in a barrel of oil; they were able to break even at $3 per Watt for their solar cells; so they just needed to squeeze a little more cost out to make a profit.
    Today; they can still make 20 Watts of solar cells out of a barrel of oil; but they have to sell them for $50,000 per Watt to reach break even. Well I can fix that too with an even bigger subsidy; I think; maybe; dunno, maybe not !
    You see, if you perceive the problems to be economic problems then you set economists to work on those problems to solve them (if they can).
    Well the problems of solar cell electric farms are NOT economic problems; they are technical problems; the technology does not exist; to make solar cell electric farms that are as energy efficient as Sweet Arabian Crude oil wells.
    And no matter how you shuffle the pea under the shells; it will never be economical; unless you solve the technology problems.
    You have to reduce the amount of energy capital that it takes to create one Watt’s worth of solar cell power. Solving those technology problems takes scientists to work on basic science, and engineers to work on practical product designs; so you are barking up the wrong tree if you expect economists to fix it.
    So the basic test for ANY alternative energy scheme, is to take whatever your favorite technology is; say “clean coal” and you start with a clean coal plant; big as you woulde like; plus a mountain of coal to run it; however many zigaWatt hours production you want. I’ll give you that; free and clear; so no economic problems; and of course you have access to all the natural resources in the univers in their natural state, plus the free energy out of your clean coal plant.
    Before you go out and sell your energy at whatever market rate you can get, and get filthy rich; I just need one little favor from you. Build me a duplicate of the plant I just gave you, and replace my mountain of coal, so I can get filthy rich too. And all you have to work with is your output energy; and all those resources.
    And hell no; you can’t borrow my bulldozer to go and dig up some coal or steel or concrete; and my brother is too busy to drive it for you so you’ll have to get your own driver; and feed and clothe and house him and his family (everybody else is busy doing something else).
    Well but you have all that free energy I gave you to work with. Once I get my duplicate plant then you can start making some real money with yours. Good luck on that !

  71. Here is some informative description of the overall subsidies for the US and the EU,

    Greenpeace believes Europeans spend about $10 billion or so (USD equivalent) annually to subsidize fossil fuels. By contrast, it thinks the American oil and gas industry might receive anywhere between $15 billion and $35 billion a year in subsidies from taxpayers.

    Source: http://cleantech.com/news/node/554
    On related news, China is investing in a 2GW solar park in north China, with the help of First Solar (a US company). The Chinese signed an MoU that includes transfer of technology (to China). Here is the press release,
    http://investor.firstsolar.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=201491&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=1328913
    We do some investment in solar energy but our efforts are dwarfed by what the others are doing. The attitude I see here is that of disdain against solar energy, and religious attachment to fossil fuels (that we need to import) and thorium reactors (which are not there yet – do we have an experimental reactor yet?).

  72. paulw says:
    September 2, 2010 at 6:28 am
    Is there something that the world does not know about solar energy (is solar futile?) that my fellow commenters know?
    Is the world wrong and you (fellow commenters) right about solar energy?

    Do not get your fellow commenters here wrong Paul.
    Solar energy is real and has a place. Solar’s place is defined by its economics, not the moralistic wants of the hard core environmentalists. Economically there are numerous niche markets for solar, like rover operations on the surface of Mars. It simply makes no sense to try and supply the electric grid of an industrialized country with solar power.
    Paul, the commenters here are not rejecting solar power, they are rejecting YOU.

  73. paulw says:
    September 2, 2010 at 6:28 am

    My concern is the outright rejection of solar energy by commenters in this post. Apart from having disparate views on what is going on with the climate, there are aggressive views that dismiss the usefulness of solar energy.
    Is there something that the world does not know about solar energy (is solar futile?) that my fellow commenters know?
    Is the world wrong and you (fellow commenters) right about solar energy?

    It depends on how you define — the rest of the world. In general the uninformed public is in fact horribly wrong about solar. More importantly to this discussion, solar is not entirely dismissed out of hand as you imply. Many of us both use and like solar for certain applications for which it is well suited, like calculator solar batteries, or solar trickle chargers for cars that are stored most of the year, or solar powered yard lights, or light pole solar used to power small remote applications like stream flow and flood alarm reporting systems in remote areas.
    Solar (PV) electric work just fine for applications where you meet certain constraints. Absolute power levels must be low and power usage must be highly intermittent, (like your calculator). Or the power level must be low and non-critical like your solar powered walk lights where no one gets upset if they fade to black at 1:00 in the morning because it was a cloudy day and they did not get enough charge in the nicad internal storage batteries to last the full night.
    I have some small solar panel trickle chargers that produce 5 watts of 12V power in full sun.
    http://www.harborfreight.com/5-watt-solar-battery-charger-41144.html
    They work just fine to keep a car battery topped up when it is parked for an extended period of time, or while camping as a low current power source to run a 12V portable radio.
    Solar also works well in highly managed power systems where commercial power is prohibitively expensive like remote cabins or ocean going sail boats.
    Go look at the West Marine catalog ( http://www.westmarine.com) and price out the parts it would take to out fit a small sailing vessel with a reliable 12V solar power system that would provide minimal daily use power. In their printed catalog they even have some helpful tech info that helps you design a useful system. By the time you buy panels, inverters, and storage batteries you have a system that will provide minimal power ( ie a few lights at night, maybe a bit of TV, emergency power for the marine radio and some water pumping for showers and pumping the bilge etc).
    But you also have high over head in personal time dedicated to keeping the panels clean, monitoring the storage batteries, and managing your power consumption so you don’t exceed the capacity of the system.
    You can (and I have) gone off grid completely on solar power, but there are only two choices — spend lots of money for a system that will supply power levels comparable to house hold commercial power ( that is 10’s of thousands of dollars per house hold in solar equipment with a 30 year pay back) or spend a few hundred dollars and live a life style comparable to a 1920’s rural farmer where radio was a luxury that you used for a couple hours a day, and lights out at 9:00 pm.
    Solar is not unsuitable for any use, but it is highly unsuited to reliable base load power generation, without the investment of cubic money in supporting infrastructure, like fast spool up backup generation. Even in prime solar generation areas, you still have to deal with when the clouds come in and long lines to carry the power (with lots of line losses) from remote sunny areas to where it will be used. In parts of the country where cloudiness is high you either need to grossly over build the solar panel array to cover for low power production during cloudy weather, or you have to drastically limit your power consumption to match the available power.
    Here is a challenge for you — go buy a watt meter. The one I have is called
    Kill A Watt They cost about $40 at wall mart.
    http://www.walmart.com/ip/P3-International-Kill-A-Watt-EZ-Electricity-Usage-Monitor/14282371
    Now use that meter to find out how much power you actually use in your daily life style. Plug it in line with each of your major appliances like refrigerator, TV, lights etc. and get an average daily power consumption for your life style in watt hours.
    Then do the math to find out how much solar power panel area you would need to provide that much power at 15% conversion rate and 6 hours of sun per day, then price the panels and the batteries and inverters to store that power at $4 a watt for the solar panels I think you will find that you would rather continue to buy power at 11 – 20 cents a kilowatt hour from the power company.
    Larry

  74. Any technology that requires taxpayer subsidy for its existence is by definition a non-viable technology in the free market. As George E. Smith commented, the DC to high voltage AC grid conversion would be grossly inefficient. And it isn’t exactly like a PV panel will “last 30 years”. Output starts to attenuate from Day 1 and after about 10 years the total output is seriously degraded. Then there are all those little things – like keeping the panels clean. Over time the outer protective layers start to oxidize or become pitted from environmental dust and sand. PV arrays require constant maintenance (just like wind turbines).
    Solar is simply inadequate for large scale commercial production of electricity. Solar is quite handy for individual applications but even then its pretty expensive. I rigged up a small PV system here at home, ostensibly to provide emergency power for my ham radio equipment. I bought a 55 watt PV panel for about $300. Then I had to invest in a charge controller and a glass-pack deep cycle battery. With wiring and other materials the entire project set me back about $600. Now, just 4 or 5 years later I have to replace the battery. I’ve used this system a few times during local power outages. I ran the output through an inverter and powered my laptop while I was working at home. It worked OK in the middle of a summer day but the laptop drew more than 55 watts and the battery would fail after 3 or 4 hours.
    A friend of mine powers his entire home mostly from solar. He has huge, expensive arrays. He also has a big propane tank and a propane generator for cloudy days and a propane refrigerator. He has to service his batteries at least twice a week and keep his PV panels wiped down (bird droppings being a big problem). Total investment in solar energy to power his 1,200 sqft home was about $40,000 (propane not included).

  75. Mainland China has 12 nuclear power reactors in operation, 24 under construction, and more about to start construction soon.
    Additional reactors are planned, including some of the world’s most advanced, to give more than a tenfold increase in nuclear capacity to 80 GWe by 2020, 200 GWe by 2030, and 400 GWe by 2050.
    China is rapidly becoming self-sufficient in reactor design and construction, as well as other aspects of the fuel cycle.
    These capacity increase figures are all the more remarkable considering the forced retirement of small inefficient coal-fired plants: 26 GWe of these was closed in 2009, making 60 GWe closed since 2006, cutting annual coal consumption by 69 million tonnes and annual carbon dioxide emissions by 139 Mt.
    http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf63.html
    We have not built a new nuclear plant in 30 years and the 104 in use supply 20% of our power, emission free. Wind and solar are good for road signs, but as real power sources their major role is as pork projects.

  76. Solar electricity production was so wonderful in Spain that the owners of several of the solar fields installed oil generators next to their solar arrays to “augment” their wonderful green electricity production. The only reason they got caught was they were stupid enough to run them at night. But please, do continue to regale us with how solar power is saving Europe.

  77. The Calico Solar Project ( 10 miles east of me, in the Mojave Desert) is scheduled to break ground in November, in spite of efforts by wildlife groups (assisted by Senator Feinstein) to squelch it. How Ironic!
    Calico will provide peak power to +- 500,000 homes. Build-out is approx. 40 months, but due to the unique aspects of Stirling Engine technology, the site will be providing power to the grid much sooner. The site will eventually have approx. 30,000 self contained”Suncatcher” units at the site. However, they can be brought online in groups of 60.
    http://www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/prog/energy/fasttrack/calico.html
    http://www.tesserasolar.com/north-america/projects.htm

  78. You can also thank the inept people at the Nevada Commission on Economic Development and Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki for throwing money their way over and over without results.

  79. paulw
    “Is there something that the world does not know about solar energy (is solar futile?) that my fellow commenters know?”
    It appears to be the case, although I believe a lot of the world knows, too – some have learned by trying to do – the case of those about whom this post is written. Look Paul, it is not a we-they-all-or-nothing situation. It is in the realm of engineering and economics – wishful thinkers’ or world economy iconoclasts’ are not the “world”- its not that these latter know, it is that they don’t care about the effectiveness or economics of alternative energy. Now if you have a nice veranda roof or something like it, go ahead and panel it – I would too had I such, even though I live north of the 49th parallel. It would be a nice contribution relaxing demand on the power grid if enough people who could afford it did this – but make no mistake, solar electricity is not anywhere near free – it is quite expensive. Do you have panels on your house Paul? Do you drive a non-petroleum vehicle? Probably not – its too expensive for most. You see, you can do your very own cost benefit analysis.

  80. If i remember correctly, the spanish subsidies for solar were so high that the solar producers had bought generators to produce electricity that they sold over the grid at a profit.

  81. Look at almost any ‘desert’ scene such as the above and you find some very unique and hardy plants living there. Where there is plant life there is usually animal life as well. You simply cannot put solar panels above or below plants or trees. When will the CAGW enviro-nazis acknowledge this fact? Most of the places they want to put solar panels and or wind turbines will just do more harm than good to the environment.

  82. paulw
    Name one coal/NG/Nuclear power plant in any country in the world that has been shut down as a result of converting to wind/solar. Just one!!
    Denmark has been on the “green” train for decades, and have yet to dissolve one coal fired plant. Zero. Zilch. Wind/solar waste more fuel in fact.
    Most of us are saying there is a place for wind/solar, but not on large scales to replace conventional electricity generation. It’s not going to happen. It is not us that have a religious attachment to fossil fuels, it is the unrealistic vision of converting our power grid to a technology that cannot provide the power required to fuel the economic engine of our country. We are not against new technology. We are against ponzi schemes and government meddling in the free market by creating artificial markets.
    The wind and solar industry has been coddled by the government for 30+ years. If they were a viable replacement for coal et al, they wouldn’t need subsidies.

  83. Paulw says
    “Here is some informative description of the overall subsidies for the US and the EU,
    Greenpeace believes Europeans spend about $10 billion or so (USD equivalent) annually to subsidize fossil fuels. By contrast, it thinks the American oil and gas industry might receive anywhere between $15 billion and $35 billion a year in subsidies from taxpayers.”
    Paul,
    Do you really think greenpeace is a reliable source for fossile fuel subsidies?
    Why do you keep rolling out these phoney studies from sources that have no/zero credibility? GreenPeace Believes??? No facts, just believes!
    Seems desperate to me on your part.
    Still waiting for your explanation as to why Obama is subsidizing offshore drilling in Brazil. Could it be that Soros is a big investor in Petrobras and this is how payback now occurs occurs in Washington?

  84. Three words about building solar in the desert: water, water, water.
    Mark Twain allegedly said: “In the West; whiskey is for drinking, water is for fighting over.” This pretty much sums it up.
    These people are talking about developing solar in the DESERT (in an area that averages less than 10 in of rain per year). They’ve staked out some prime locations near transmission lines. Now where do they get water to make the solar plants work? Many types of solar plants need water to generate the power. They also need water to keep the solar panels or mirrors clean.
    Contrary to paulw’s statement: “…does not require much maintenance apart from the occasional cleaning with Windex :-)”, Windex isn’t going to cut it in the desert. Atmospheric carbonate dust and any dust that has already settled on the solar panel will disolve in brief desert rainstorms and re-precipitate as carbonate blotches that are hell to clean off. Anyone who has been in the desert and seen their nice new car wash ruined by a one minute shower can attest to how quickly their car beomes encrusted with carbonate crud. The solar panels baking in the sun just exacerbates the effect.
    So where’s the water? Answer: there ain’t none. That’s a main reason why these plants haven’t been built. There is no surface water near Roach Lake. There is ground water but most, if not all, has already been appropriated. Use of any ground water that may be unappropriated is hotly contested by claims that additional groundwater pumping will lower the water table and imapct endangered species (which appears to include just about everything near a desert spring).
    Sen. D. Feinstein is trying to make this area into a national monument, which would prohibit any such development. For some write-ups with the problems see: http://e360.yale.edu/content/feature.msp?id=2236
    http://www.mojavedesertblog.com/2010/08/desert-expert-find-another-site-for.html
    http://www.bizjournals.com/sanfrancisco/stories/2010/04/12/story7.html?b=1271044800%5E3167691
    http://www.nytimes.com/gwire/2010/08/12/12greenwire-calif-desert-on-pace-to-become-worlds-solar-ca-32699.html?pagewanted=all

  85. The attitude I see here is that of disdain against solar energy,

    You’ve been presented with numerous facts about the unreliability and unsuitability of solar as a primary source of electrical power, all of which you’ve chosen to ignore in favor of labeling any argument against solar as resting on “disdain”. You seem to disdain physics and economics in favor of hand-waving.

  86. One thing that’s hardly ever mentioned when discussing solar power:
    All output numbers (in W or kW) for solar cells and panels are always standardized assuming a solar insolation of 1000W/m^2.
    Now, on the earth surface you’ll get a insolation of ~1000W/m^2 only when the sun is directly overhead on a very clear day. Basically in the tropics in most places that’s one day per year and twice per year at the equator.
    Outside of that you will never get the claimed Wattage because the atmosphere absorbs a larger amount of the solar insolation due to a longer path at non-tropical latitudes.
    When figuring cost/Watt for solar panels for comparison to other sources, this peak number is used and skews the comparison vastly toward the solar panels.
    A more realistic comparison would be to compare the yearly kWh produced per money spent.

  87. ‘Randy says:
    September 2, 2010 at 3:48 am
    Hey Rhys
    “Hey, guys, you gotta start somewhere.”
    But this is not a start. In fact there have been billions spent on solar projects around the world. If you want to check out the underwhelming results of solar and windpower look no further than Spain where you will find it rife with rorting of the subsidies and major failings to produce anything like reliable level of power. It just can’t seriously meet the challenge of base load power.
    Here in Australia where we also have no shortage of sun we are struggling to get big solar projects off the ground. Why? Because they are not financially viable and the capital risk is too high. Having said that our socialist govt are trying to improve that situation by increasing taxes on non-renewable power bills. Up by 63% in this last year and expected to double again this year. They will make it competitive by manipulating the existing market. What they ignore is that price is still just one part of the problem. Reliability is the other.’
    So, as I said, one thing you could say is: ‘we need XXX iterations of Moore’s law before we’re ready to go.’
    Seems to me that this is what you’re saying.
    Well done for saying so. Start saying it loud and clear. To all those who will listen!

  88. I was involved for a short time in one of these projects. Specifically the one referenced in the following article.
    http://greenenergyreporter.com/renewables/solar/brightsource-energy-vs-the-desert-tortoise/
    There was a settlement around this that included relocating said tortoises. But the cost was insane. Further they had an interesting defect that made working around them difficult to say the least. In our group they were dubbed the “tinkling tortoises”. Apparently if you scare them, they relieve themselves out of fear which can leave them dehydrated, possibly killing them. Therefore as part of the settlement, any time someone found one of these tortoises, all work would have to cease. Then at night, people would come back to relocate them.
    I only wish I was making this up…

  89. With a $4/watt subsidy and a good buddy with an electrician’s license, you could actually come out ahead at the time of installation.

  90. paulw says: “Currently, a 200 Watt solar panel costs about $500-600 and lasts for 30 years. It does not require much maintenance apart from the occasional cleaning with Windex :-).”
    Yes, a brand-new 200-watt solar panel is $551.64. It has a 25 year (limited) warranty, but I’ll give you the 30 year life.
    Let us say we are going to power 2 100-watt light bulbs (incandescent) for those 30 years. We will ignore the infrastructure of installing the solar panel, and assume that it just plugs directly into a power line to the two light bulbs.
    We do have to modify your premise just a bit, because that 200 watt solar panel only operates at 18.7 volts. We’ll pretend it is 20 volts to make the arithmetic easier. We now need six panels to operate two 100-watt light bulbs, running at 120 volts.
    The price has now risen to $3309.84 for these six panels, used to operate two light bulbs. Prorated, that will cost $110.328 every year.
    Electricity in my state is currently at about 7.66 cents per kilowatt-hour. That means that by using the grid, I will pay $134.203 to run those two light bulbs every year. That shows quite a savings when using those solar panels, then.
    Except that I haven’t taken into account the small fact that the solar panels will not be working at night. Which is probably when I would be using the light bulbs. And you did not include anything in your cost estimate for batteries, converters, etc. The devil does tend to be in the details, eh?

  91. Another issue that hasn’t been discussed in terms of commercial electricity production is energy density. This is the fundamental drawback with all wind and solar concepts. Wind and solar are diffuse, intermittent, low density energy sources. Efficient, cost-effective commercial electricity production requires a high density energy source.
    I compared the (allegedly) world’s largest wind farm, the Roscoe wind farm in Texas, to the Donald C. Cook Nuclear station in Michigan. Cook took 8 years to build, it cost $1.3B and came on-line in 1975. It has a rated capacity of 2.110 MW and theoretically can run at full capacity 24/7 for years. It supplies enough energy “to power a city of 1.25 million”. It sits on a site of 650 acres. The Roscoe wind farm is in very windy west Texas (believe me…I lived in west Texas for over 10 years). It consists of 627 turbines spread out over 100,000 acres. It cost about $1B to build and has a rated capacity of about 760 MW (or “enough to power about 250,000 average Texas homes”). Rated capacity is an almost meaningless number for wind turbines as wind farms typically operate at about 30% efficiency. But, for the sake of argument, let’s assume that Roscoe produces 1/5 the energy that Cook does (i.e. 250,000 homes vs. a city of 1.25 million) and assume Cook runs at 90% of rated output. In subsidy alone the nuke plant rakes in about $26M/yr (or about $24 per home powered) and the wind farm yields about $87M/yr based on $1.60 per MwH for nuclear and $23.50 for wind. That’s about $340 per home powered. Paid by all taxpayers. Neither produce CO2. One produces nuclear waste that can be reprocessed the other chops birds and bats to bits and has to be replaced every 10 years or so (along with regular oil changes). In subsidy alone wind power is 15 times more costly than nuclear (and neither should be subsidized). When you look at ROI nuclear is the clear winner. Cook has been churning out over 1,000 MW per hour, 24/7 for 35 years.
    Solar power makes wind look like a bargain. The wind still blows at night (sometimes) but lack of direct sunlight is a deal breaker for solar technology. I am very fond of nuclear energy and I believe it is the path to the future (particularly thorium and fast reactor designs). Unfortunately, after 3 mile Island the US turned its back on nuclear and let the world pass us by. Even with the best designs we have today coal remains the most efficient means of generating electricity. NG is not far behind. But, because of energy density, nuclear holds great promise. Wind and solar will forever remain distant “also rans” because they are inherently too inefficient to meet the demand.
    CO2 is not the problem. In fact, man-made CO2 is all but irrelevant. What is relevant is the availability of abundant, affordable energy. Nearly 1/3 of the planet’s population has no access to electricity, running water or sanitary waste disposal…and we’re so worried about CO2 that we’re wasting money on inefficient windmills and solar panels. We need to use what we know works right now.

  92. There is no earthly reason to build the world’s most expensive and unreliable electrical power sources that cannot measurably clean the air, cannot reduce carbon dioxide emissions, cannot shut down one fossil fuel plant, cannot add capacity without adding the equivalent fossil fuel capacity and cannot save one drop of oil. Raising the cost of power kills jobs, so any suggestion that we will add “green jobs” is ludicrous as wind and solar kill jobs.
    In addition both take enormous amounts of acreage and in the case of wind macerate hundreds of thousands of eagles, hawks, bats and other birds each year many endangered or protected. If there is some logical reason we should continue to build these projects I would like to know exactly what it is. As far as I can see it is a way to buy votes and pork for politicians at our expense.

  93. Rhys Jaggar says:
    September 2, 2010 at 10:44 am
    So, as I said, one thing you could say is: ‘we need XXX iterations of Moore’s law before we’re ready to go.’
    Seems to me that this is what you’re saying.

    That is a fallacy that is often employed when discussing solar power. Moore’s law does NOT apply. The only thing solar cells have in common with computer chips (where Moore’s law applies) is that they are made of the same material.
    There is only so much solar energy available per m^2. Even if the efficiency could improve (very very doubtful) from 25% to 100% they will only produce 4 times as much energy as good ones do now. If the price is currently 10s of times higher per energy unit produced, this will still not make the viable or competitive.
    And the cost per cm^2 of silicone material has risen since the 1980s. Moore’s
    law only states that the number of transistors per cm^2 of silicone grows exponentially, and therefore the price per transistor falls exponentially.
    But solar panels need cm^s, not transistors, and the material and energy costs to produce them rises.

  94. My first year university ( BsC Eng ) projects was to do with solar power in 1975.
    We came up with a parabolic mirror that had a water pipe running down the focus over a two meter length. It was supposed to make steam to run a small turbine.
    It never made steam, just hot/warm water.
    When it got dusty, as often happens here , it just made warm water.
    When it got cloudy , as it does about 25% of the year/time it made nothing much at all.
    We were smart and motivated but we didn’t get too far and we spent our research budget even though we were free.
    Solar is a niche solution to exotic problems. As my friend just pointed out, you can spend all day in the sun and not get cooked, particularly if you put a very thin layer of sunscreen on. ( even clothes ).

  95. More on subsidies, below is link to DOE numbers:
    http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/servicerpt/subsidy2/pdf/chap5.pdf
    Fuel………………….subsidy per MWH
    ….
    Coal…………………..0.44
    refined coal……….29.81
    Nat gases……………0.25
    Nuclear………………1.59
    Biomass……………..0.89
    Geothermal………..0.92
    Hydroelectric……..0.67
    Solar………………….24.34
    Wind………………….23.37
    Landfill gas………..1.37
    Municipal waste…0.13
    (renewable)………..1.65
    Then there is the “green jobs”argument. Spain already tried and failed. For every job “created” (it is artificial), two jobs are lost.

  96. Janice says:
    “..Except that I haven’t taken into account the small fact that the solar panels will not be working at night. Which is probably when I would be using the light bulbs.”
    Instead of trying to power lights at night, use it to drop your air-conditioning load during the when the sun IS shining and heating up your house.
    read http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/08/17/survey-says-many-are-still-clueless-on-how-to-save-energy/
    Hammer and Nail – all electrons are not created equally.

  97. Two quick points..
    computers, aircraft, automobiles and mobile phones – these were all massive advances in applicable technology. Cutting travel times from weeks to hours, providing reliable communications from virtually any place in the country, and of course in the case of computing, advancing everything from comminications, R&D in industry, medicine, EVERYTHING, farther in 50 years than the previous 5000 years. The machines driving human history there is the the basic, accumulated knowledge, then the printing press, the internal combustion engine and computers. “Green” energy advances nothing, electricity is electricity regardless of what produces it. “Green” is only viable if it is cheaper then fossil fules, and it isn’t even close.
    Two. Just needing some “water and windex” to clean solar panels doesn’t sound bad at all until you consider any truly useful solar array at a city powering level will need to be thousands of square meters and located in remote, arid areas where water will be exteremely expensive to pipe in.

  98. Rhys Jaggar September 2, 2010 at 3:09 am
    Look at mobile phones. Until 1997, there were a niche item for rich guys and the handsets were large and unwieldy.

    A little off on your time frame; in 1994 MetroCel Cellular (the cellular co I was working for at the time) had in full operation their digital IS-54 (and at the time soon to be an IS-136 compliant) standard digital system and Ericsson had introduced by that time their ‘candy bar’ sized phone that set the precedent for the trend that we see carried on today (small phones) … personally, I liked the Motoroala Flip phone of that era:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motorola_MicroTAC
    Note the MicroTac series was introduced in 1989; initially they were not cheap, but they weren’t ‘unwieldy’…
    .

  99. @paulw
    Yes, let’s cut the subsidies. How about we also cut the taxes on both fossil fuels and renewable fuels. How long do you think the government can live without taxing fossil fuels?
    Look at it this way… the “subsidies” on fossil fuels, should they exist, are simply a small tax break.

  100. To the people who say ‘you have to start somewhere’, you are right in a narrow sense, but may be very wrong in a broader context. The reason is simple: many advocates of solar power are fully willing to obscure the full economic truth about these projects. If someone wants to justify one on an exploratory basis with full disclosure of the costs, that is fine with me. However, we have full scale lying going on about “sustainable” energy. In fact, these projects cannot be economically sustainable. And therein lies the rub: we produce power to gain economic advantage, not to consume what wealth we have.
    The median household income in 2008 was $52,026. For every $1 million we dissipate in an unsustainable alternative power project, we destroy the income of about 20 entire households. While solar power looks great, it will be a long time before it can be justified. We cannot afford the luxury of borrowing billions for these projects when we could have nuclear power instead, a power source that works day and night, and does not rely on the wind or clear skies.
    The policy chaos that results from entertaining the unachievable dreams of environmentalists is costing us far more than we can afford. There are no more jelly beans in the jar. What about WE CANNOT AFFORD THIS FOOLISHNESS ANYMORE is hard to understand?

  101. Don Shaw,
    Thanks for the numbers. These are more complete and accurate than the numbers I’ve been using (but my numbers weren’t off by much). Does it even strike anyone as curious that we should even have an official body called the Energy Information Administration?
    A better question might be why do we subsidize any electricity production and when did this start? I honestly don’t know but I’m guessing that the subsidies are a holdover from the old days of the REA (Rural Electrification Administration). In the mid 30s most of rural America had no electrical service. There was no free market incentive to wire the boonies. So…of course Big Government stepped in to do the job. Big Government could make all citizens pay to provide electric service to a few widely dispersed citizens whose purchase of said service would never offset the cost of providing it. So they wired ’em up. But now they had to generate all this electricity. So the government provided subsidies to do so.
    Today about 99% of the country is served by electric providers. So why do we still have subsidies? We should have NO subsidies…NONE. This is artificial market manipulation. If you make and sell a product everybody needs and everybody will buy what is the possible rationale for subsidizing it with taxpayer dollars? Most folks would be better off paying slightly more for the services they use than being taxed to pay for the services others use. I’m sure a few benefit, but most simply pay an inflated price for the same product. Government subsidy is inherently inefficient. You have to pay scores of bureaucrats a salary in order to redistribute the wealth.
    Power subsidies should end. We need to get government out of the energy business.

  102. Subsidizing wind and solar with rebates, tax credits, mandatory purchase by utilities at far above available market rates and calling it an energy policy is ludicrous.
    Producing the world’s most expensive and least reliable electrical sources that require 100%, side by side back-up power idling 24 hours a day is foolhardy.
    Politicians are not the brightest bulbs, but those that push for this are either the biggest fools on earth or think we are.
    Suggesting they can create jobs, get us off foreign oil, shut down fossil fuel plants, clean the air or provide commercial power is insane

  103. Dr. Dave: Today about 99% of the country is served by electric providers. So why do we still have subsidies? We should have NO subsidies…NONE. This is artificial market manipulation.

    Think about the first nuclear reactor to produce electricity. The research started in the early 20th century. The first test reactor produced 100KW in 1951. In 1954, the USSR plugged the first nuclear reactor to the national grid (5MW). At the end of 1960 there was less than 1GW globally.
    We could say the same thing in 1950. We get all our electricity from coal, why do we need to invest taxpayer money for the unproven, inefficient and dangerous nuclear energy?
    What we need to understand is that it is important to diversify our sources of electricity. Solar energy is very promising, safe, requires minimal maintenance. We need to make it better and cheaper.
    If we are to slag off solar energy just because we want to prove the world that CO2 is not bad, then we would deserve what is coming to us.

  104. Except a little thing called the A-Bomb showed that atomic energy was massively and frighteningly efficient. It was just the matter of controlling the reaction and building a structure in which to contain the reaction. The exact opposite of the solar energy problem which is obvioulsy safe, but uncontrollable, widely diffused and highly inefficient. If solar, wind, and hydro power were so great humans would never have bothered with charcoal, wood, coal, steam, oil, gas, and every other source of energy since the beginning of history.
    The real key is storage capacity. If that can be solved then *maybe* green energy could be somewhat viable. (And please don’t tell me to pump water up hill)

  105. George E. Smith says:
    September 2, 2010 at 8:11 am
    “”” Rhys Jaggar says:
    September 2, 2010 at 3:09 am
    Hey, guys, you gotta start somewhere. “””
    I would recommend that you start at about 1 kW/m^2 or 100 W/ft^2 maximum peak projected area for the actual interception area, and maybe about 8 hours daily max (average) ; so long as you provide for about four times that total area, because of self shadowing of one collector by another; amd I wouldn’t bet on more than 12-15% efficiency for Solar to grid AC conversion; unless you go steam turbine conversion; which likely takes even more area but somewhat better efficiency.

    —…—…—…—
    It’s actually much worse than that: that is, available solar power is much lower than your figures.
    Maximum solar power only occurs at 12:00 (local noon) each day. Every other minute of the day, the maximum possible power is less. Usable power occurs from 9:00 AM (local) and 3:00 PM (local), or a total of 6 hours per day.
    But those six “good” hours are only during the summer months: for the other 9 months of the year, you actually less usable hours. (Some “expert” calculations assume 7 (even 8 hours) during the summer months, and ignore the losses for spring and fall, and the even shorter winter hours. Best approximation is assume the 6 hours year long. It’s a double multiple of the sine wave of the sun’s path during the day: You need to include both the sun’s elevation AND the amount of atmosphere the sun’s light is penetrating as time varies from local noon. Net result? Power drops off significantly the longer time from local noon you try to collect it.
    The further north (south) of the equator you go, the greater the difference between the number of usable summer and winter hours there is.
    IF – big “IF” there – there is absolutely no other interferences or shadows during any part of the day. At my house for example, my neighbor’s trees shade my roof for all but 30 minutes from 9:00 AM (local) to 2:00 PM local. My own trees shade it further between 2:30 and 8:00 (again, local solar time). Nearby buildings are not a factor for industrial/commercial solar plants.
    Your 1000 per m^2 is valid ONLY
    – at the equator,
    – on a perfectly clear day (no clouds),
    – with no humidity,
    – with no dust,
    – at local noon,
    – onto a perfectly clean solar receiver
    – aimed directly at the sun.
    Next factor: Latitude.
    Even at local solar noon, maximum available solar power is reduced even more as the cosine of installed latitude (the same factor works both north and south of the equator). From your latitude, the local solar elevation (at noon, point of maximum possible power) will increase (or decrease!) as a sine function based on the nbr of days (time) from the spring and fall equinoxes. So, in the summer, the local solar noon will be above (greater than) your latitude by 23.5 degrees. In mid-winter (north or south hemisphere, same equations and values apply, just the names of the months differ) the absolute elevation of the sun will be your latitude minus 23.5 degrees. At all other times of the days, the maximum elevation will be less those numbers, and the maximum effective solar power correspondingly less.
    More later. Gotta go sit on the grandkids, give them their baths, bottles, books and bed. 8<)

  106. paulw,
    I refer you to my earlier comment regarding energy density. There are a myriad of ways to harvest energy from the environment. You can make windmills, you can anchor bobbing floats in the ocean waves, you can harness the flow of the Gulf stream, you can spread PV panels across acres of desert. It doesn’t matter. These technologies, at present, are simply too inefficient. They’re inefficient because the energy they’re harvesting is low density, intermittent and diffuse. You can’t change that.
    Nuclear energy may have had a modest start but from the outset showed amazing potential simply because it relied on a very high density energy source. This is basic engineering. Sandia national labs has developed a sterling engine design that is said to be almost 35% efficient and it doesn’t have a huge footprint. In theory a thousand of these devices could power the entire southwest…during peak daylight hours on cloudless days. Until we can efficiently store huge amounts of electric energy solar is a bust.
    As others have stated, for specific applications solar power is the cat’s meow. It is not for commercial production of electricity.

  107. Nonegatives says:
    September 2, 2010 at 11:05 am
    With a $4/watt subsidy and a good buddy with an electrician’s license, you could actually come out ahead at the time of installation.
    —…—…—…—
    Yeah. YOU could come out ahead (after subsidies) with solar power.
    “I” end up paying for your electricity. Your house – when it burns down from badly wired, no permitted, inadequately grounded solar panels and chargers, incorrect and non-fused inverter-converter installations, and incorrectly vented and connected lead-acid battery stations.
    Who is going to clean up your environmental waste, and replace your batteries every two years? Who is going to safely recharge your batteries? Your acid spill kit? Your face mask, goggles, and gloves? Your 200.00 dollar 200 amp fuse panel and 000 dc wires? (Those only cost about 2.00 per foot for the copper alone. My battery connections cost $4.00 each. Batteries are a little under $200.00 each. Battery quick connects are 20.00 etc)

  108. Rhys Jaggar says:
    September 2, 2010 at 10:44 am
    From Wikipedia:
    Moore’s law describes a long-term trend in the history of computing hardware. The number of transistors that can be placed inexpensively on an integrated circuit has doubled approximately every 18 months.
    Moore’s law will do nothing for solar panels. You can’t make them smaller – they rely on area for power collection.
    What you are referring to is the economy of scale. This is far less productive than Moore’s law and for solar panels will never produce the kind of price/performance development seen over the last 50 years in integrated circuits.
    Solar panels will never achieve the kind of ROI needed for substantial power generation.

  109. “”” Wade says:
    September 2, 2010 at 5:10 am
    The main problem with solar right now is how inefficient the current panels are. I’ve been reading about breakthroughs in solar panel designs for a long time now; I have yet to see one come to market. Why? If I remember correctly, the best solar panel ever made was around 25% efficient. I believe production solar panels are under 15% efficient. It is the classic catch-22 really: solar adoption doesn’t take off because it is too expensive and too inexpensive but the only way make it more efficiency and less expensive is by mass production. “””””
    Actually, I believe solar cells have been built with a conversion efficiency of about 38%; but that is for air mass zero extra-terrestrial solar. Tehy are triple bandgap solar cells, that use a three junction sandwich to covert a larger portion of the solar spectrum energy. Only NASA can afford the high cost of these cells, but in their game where every gram cost a fortune to put up in space; nothing matters other than conversion efficiency; and of course weight.
    Other solar cell schemes rely on focussing Optics to concentrate sunlight on cells that can run at irradiance levels of over 100 suns. So you don’t need much of the expensive and exotic semiconductor materials; but you need fancy optics instead.

  110. Charles S. Opalek, PE said, “Solar power is NOT renewable. It is unsustainable. I has an EROIE of 0.48.”
    Not that I doubt you, but do you have a source for this number? I’d be interested in reading it or seeing the energy balance that gets you to this number. The economics of solar power would suggest you are right, but I would like to see that the technical details line up with the economics.

  111. Pull My Finger says:
    September 2, 2010 at 12:21 pm
    You forgot that computing has taken climatology backwards, farther in 50 years than the previous 5000 years.

  112. “”” paulw says:
    September 2, 2010 at 1:17 pm
    Dr. Dave: Today about 99% of the country is served by electric providers. So why do we still have subsidies? We should have NO subsidies…NONE. This is artificial market manipulation.
    Think about the first nuclear reactor to produce electricity. The research started in the early 20th century. The first test reactor produced 100KW in 1951. In 1954, the USSR plugged the first nuclear reactor to the national grid (5MW). At the end of 1960 there was less than 1GW globally.
    We could say the same thing in 1950. We get all our electricity from coal, why do we need to invest taxpayer money for the unproven, inefficient and dangerous nuclear energy?
    What we need to understand is that it is important to diversify our sources of electricity. Solar energy is very promising, safe, requires minimal maintenance. We need to make it better and cheaper.
    If we are to slag off solar energy just because we want to prove the world that CO2 is not bad, then we would deserve what is coming to us. “””
    So what part of 100 Watts per square foot did you not understand.
    The Jan 2008 Issue of Scientific American Journal had a front cover article about serious Solar energy plants; and the paper proposed two such plants to be placed in the waste desert regions of the American South-West; Four Corners type territory.
    The larger of the two facilities needed only 30,000 squ miles to put in silicon solar cell panels. Teh much smaller 16,000 squ mile plant used mirrors and a central boiler running a steam turbine. Steam turbine technology is very well developed, and understood.
    Well 30,000 squ miles is also 19.2 million acres; which it so happens is the exact size of the entire Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
    Much more energy can be recovered in ANWR simply by drilling on about 2400 acres; about the size of a good sized shopping mall. Well you need a road to get in there; I suppose you need one to get in there to admire that arctic desert wasteland too.
    I guess you just have to pick which desert wasteland you want to exploit, and how much of it.
    That’s why 100 W/ squ ft times conversion efficiency matters.

  113. Most conventional energy is not meaningfully subsidized by the government. By meaningful, I mean that removing the subsidy would move the price of power to the point that it would change purchasing behavior.
    Further, the devil is usually in the details with all of these so called “reports” on energy subsidies. Usually, if you dig into the details you find that the direct subsidies for fossil/conventional fuels are much less than the direct subsidies of renewables. In the US, the majority of the subsidies on non-renewables come from tax breaks and energy assistance programs for the poor. And the majority of those tax breaks don’t apply to fossil fuels or energy companies only. Often, they are “breaks” that buffer or elimante double taxation on foreign subsidiary profits.
    The analysis of such programs are rarely done well by renewable advocacy groups. They either don’t have the skills and knowledge to do them correctly. Or, as is often the case, they don’t have incentive to tell the whole story. Establishing meaningful subsidy metrics is usually bad for their cause. (BTW… I find this univerally true for all advocacy groups, regardless of cause. Because in order to be an effective advocate, sometimes you have to turn a blind eye to facts that don’t quite fit your world view. I’m not saying I agree with it. Just that I understand it.)

  114. paulw says:
    September 2, 2010 at 1:17 pm
    If you’d read a little further in the Wikipedia article you paraphrased in your post you would have read that the reason nuclear power was developed in the 1950’s was because it was thought (at the time) it would provide electricity ‘too cheap to meter’.

  115. Ah, all those wonderful Popular Science articles I read in the 1980’s, showing all those wonderful new ways to harvest solar energy, how solar was this close to being cheap enough for everybody. And the solar cells were getting better all the time, just one more advance would give such great efficiency we might not need any other form of energy…
    A thought occurred to me while I was bouncing between the different energy articles.
    Currently we are primarily using fossil fuels, which are basically stored solar energy accumulated by plants, over hundreds of thousands of years, that was converted into a more dense form of stored solar energy over a timeframe of a million years or so.
    A. Why are people worrying about us running through hundreds of thousands of years of accumulation in only a few hundred years?
    B. If we really are burning through so-many thousands of years of stored solar energy every year, how can people think we can harvest enough energy for just one year from only one year of solar radiation? And that’s figuring we only have solar projects on land (30% of global area) where practical (a very small percentage) while the fossil fuels may include solar energy stored by former ocean-dwelling lifeforms as well as land-based.
    As far as alternative energy goes, I wonder what the numbers are for the “Big Wheel.” Construct large lightweight wheel (carbon fiber?), place in horizontal orientation (parallel to ground), suspend in very-low friction manner (just a ring, magnetically levitated perhaps?), and let Coriolis force set it to rotating. Keeping it low friction to maximize energy output, permanent (super)magnets could be embedded in the rim, then use stationary coils for electricity generation (no brushes needed). Placing the ring in vacuum would remove air drag losses, but the needed assembly and maintenance might be more than the savings would yield.
    Once up and running it’s free energy, as long as the planet keeps turning. It’ll work good up here in the temperate zones where solar can be marginal, and it’ll generate power 24/7 as opposed to solar and wind. Thus the major things to wonder about are development costs and paying for the installations.
    Anyone know how to apply for government research grants and/or lobby Congress for subsides? Hey, we gotta start saving the planet, so you know it’ll be worth it.

  116. Paulw: “We need to make it better and cheaper.”
    Then put the government money into basic research and don’t waste it setting up uneconomic solar farms.

  117. paulw says:
    September 2, 2010 at 4:14 am
    $3 billion is the approx subsidies that oil and gas companies take per year in the US.

    Paul you seem to be very dishonest. You say half a trillion subsidies and then the latter claim is $3 billion.
    497 billion dollar difference.

    paulw says:
    September 2, 2010 at 3:27 am
    Fossil Fuel Subsidies Are 12 Times Support for Renewables, Study Shows
    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-07-29/fossil-fuel-subsidies-are-12-times-support-for-renewables-study-shows.html
    Who would have thought that the government subsidies on fossil fuels are more than “half a trillion dollars.”
    Compared to this, subsidies for renewables are under $50b.

    It is possible you dont’ know what subbsidies are.

  118. paulw says:
    September 2, 2010 at 1:17 pm
    Dr. Dave: Today about 99% of the country is served by electric providers. So why do we still have subsidies? We should have NO subsidies…NONE. This is artificial market manipulation.
    Think about the first nuclear reactor to produce electricity. The research started in the early 20th century. The first test reactor produced 100KW in 1951. In 1954, the USSR plugged the first nuclear reactor to the national grid (5MW). At the end of 1960 there was less than 1GW globally.
    We could say the same thing in 1950. We get all our electricity from coal, why do we need to invest taxpayer money for the unproven, inefficient and dangerous nuclear energy?
    What we need to understand is that it is important to diversify our sources of electricity. Solar energy is very promising, safe, requires minimal maintenance. We need to make it better and cheaper.
    If we are to slag off solar energy just because we want to prove the world that CO2 is not bad, then we would deserve what is coming to us.

    Your comparison backfires if you want to compare solar to nuclear. In the 1920s the first research showed that nuclear reactors might be possible. 30 years later the first reactors were build, and 30 years after that one country, France, produces more electricity from nuclear than the country consumes.
    Compare that with solar. The principle was understood already in the late 19th century (comparable to nuclear in the 1920s). In the late 1950s and early 1960s a lot of further research was put in to make them viable for the space program, their main application. Now it’s 50 years later and the only progress is some cost reduction and viability as competitive energy producer is no closer than it was in the 1960s.

  119. Every wind and solar plant in the country could be shut down right now and there would be no affect on our power supply. The air would not be measurably cleaner. If subsidies, Grants and tax credits were eliminated we would save hundreds of billions each year. Power cost to consumers would be less. The back-up units for these facilities would simply provide less expensive power.
    Wind and solar are totally useless and hugely expensive.

  120. A good comparison of “alternative” power and nuclear would be Denmark which provides most of its power from wind and France which supplies about 75% of its power from nuclear.
    Denmark, when the wind blows well, sells much of its very expensive power at below cost to neighboring countries. When not producing Denmark buys power from the same neighboring countries at a premium. Result Denmark has the highest electric rates in Europe.
    France, on the other hand, with 75% nuclear is the only country in Europe that regularly exports electricity and they have the lowest cost power in Europe.

  121. …and if you have unfounded fears of nuclear power, or think that our country is technologically incompetent and cannot build a waste storage facility, we could use natural gas. we have trillions of cubic feet in domestic reserves. It makes far more sense to run vehicles with it than gasoline or deisel. It is economical. It burns clean and produces a fraction of the carbon dioxide.
    If you could get over the other unreasonable fear that carbon dioxide is warming the earth to any great extent, then we could use clean coal, which we have hundreds of years of supply.
    We have more energy than any other country on earth and we have a $700 billion dollar a year trade deficit because we import 75% of our oil. We have 2 trillion barrels of proven oil reserves in shale oil alone. Our oil supplies dwarf that of Saudi Arabia and we go begging for energy. The fact that we are dependent on foreign countries for energy is inexcusable. We can be 100% energy independent and we can have clean air. All we need to do is replace the politicians that give us pork projects and replace them with leaders that can supply real alternatives.

  122. tty says:
    September 2, 2010 at 5:36 am
    Solar panels (and thermal solar power) are very sensitive to dust. Even a very thin dust layer will cut power production drastically. Ask the people who runs the Mars Rovers if you don’t believe me.

    Just as a general semi-related question: Anyone know why they didn’t make the Mars rover wind powered?

  123. Jon says:
    September 2, 2010 at 3:36 pm
    A good comparison of “alternative” power and nuclear would be Denmark which provides most of its power from wind and France which supplies about 75% of its power from nuclear.

    Jon,
    the 75% number for France for nuclear is a bit misleading and also false. It’s about 78% of its generated electrical power (Status 2007). However, in 2007 France consumed 447 billion kWh of electricity and generated 433 billion kWh with nuclear, while France is also the biggest electricity exporter in Europe. Using nuclear generation and France’s consumption, you could also argue that 97% of France’s electricity is produced by nuclear.
    In regards to Denmark and wind energy you are correct. Germany is the same way. When the wind blows, a substantial amount excess, and heavily subsidized, German wind power is exported to whoever wants to take it, for whatever price they want to pay. But when it does not blow Germany imports electricity for whatever the sellers want.
    Unfortunately the wind blows most consistently in spring and fall, when electricity consumption there is low, while high pressure systems in the summer and winter (peak consumption) deliver little wind.
    As a result Germany is a net exporter of electricity. But they export when nobody wants it.

  124. From: Z on September 2, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    Just as a general semi-related question: Anyone know why they didn’t make the Mars rover wind powered?

    Reply:
    Might be because Mars has practically no atmosphere…

  125. Rhys Jaggar says:
    September 2, 2010 at 3:09 am
    Hey, guys, you gotta start somewhere.
    In each arena of human progress, there was a period where the business was unprofitable. Look at computers, look at aeroplanes, look at automobiles, look at anything: what you see is a period where things must be tried out, the key components identified and the means to optimise them automated. There is always a point at which things become mainstream.

    The sun will never start shining at night. The wind will always stop blowing.
    These sources are very expensive and do not account for doubling the cost again by reason of back up power in addition to storage costs.

  126. Paulw,
    Greenpeace has about as much credibility as Pravda.
    Please do not either expose yourself by citing them as something worthy of anything more than disregard or insult the intelligence of people here. Greenpeace- the big enviro con-artist- is part of the problem. They are after nothing more than their power and money, and do nothing of any worth for anyone except themselves.

  127. “Look at mobile phones. Until 1997, there were a niche item for rich guys and the handsets were large and unwieldy.” – PAULW
    Pauly, Maybe you’ve been influenced by some zealous ‘educators’. Based on the above statement I must conclude that you are very young. The mobile phone “blew up” in the early 90’s. The era you describe would be prior to the mid 80’s. Also due to your youth you may not know this, but people have been singing the siren song of solar energy since at least the late 60’s. News Flash; It still has not panned out and probably never will as a primary source of electrical utility for the average home. Not every ideas’ time will come. The wayside of history is littered with technologies that just didn’t pan out, sorry.
    As far as subsidies to fossil fuels it would probably be more accurate to say that fossil fuels subsidize the government as the gov’t makes more on, for example, a gallon of gasoline than the ‘oil companies’. Unlike your solar energy fossil fuels would be viable subsidized or not. Thay don’t call it “black gold” for nothing.
    “Look at computers, look at aeroplanes, look at automobiles, look at anything: what you see is a period where things must be tried out, ” PaulW
    With the exception of perhaps airplanes everything that you mentioned had to be viable in the market place immediately, and were priced accordingly. Primarily though they all answered a valid need, which gave it value. (not a contrived need). Face it. Without the climate husters/governmental nexus there would be absolutely no demand for solar uless you count Ed Begley Jr.

  128. paulw says:
    September 2, 2010 at 1:17 pm
    …..What we need to understand is that it is important to diversify our sources of electricity. Solar energy is very promising, safe, requires minimal maintenance. We need to make it better and cheaper.
    If we are to slag off solar energy just because we want to prove the world that CO2 is not bad, then we would deserve what is coming to us.
    ___________________________________________________________
    Paul are you mathematically challenge or just too lazy to read and try and understand what is being said?
    1. The energy is just is not there, no matter what you do you can not get anymore energy.
    2. The energy is erratic and has to have uniform energy to balance.
    3. As Charles S. Opalek, PE said
    “Solar pv energy has an EROEI ratio of 0.48 (www.dieoff.org/pv.htm). That is: In the lifetime of a solar pv installaton it will only return 48% of the energy that went into its manufacture, installation and operation. Wind power is worse. It’s EROEI by my calculations is 0.29.”
    Do you understand what that means? Solar and wind use MORE fossil fuel powered energy to manufacture than the CO2 free power they produce. Biofuel is just as bad, requiring 27 to 118 percent more fossil energy than the biofuel produced.
    Therefore solar and wind are only good for niche market uses, and nuclear and hydro are the ONLY known non CO2 producing power source currently available .
    We are not being stubborn we have researched the available information and found the truth. ( I was considering a combo of wind and solar for my farm)

  129. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:
    September 2, 2010 at 5:05 pm
    From: Z on September 2, 2010 at 4:11 pm
    Just as a general semi-related question: Anyone know why they didn’t make the Mars rover wind powered?
    Reply:
    Might be because Mars has practically no atmosphere…

    —…—…
    True. In part. The very low atmospheric density on Mars means a much larger, much heavier, much more bulky wind generator would be needed to generate effective power on Mars. If the solar panels can create enough power reliably without needeing a wind generator, why bring the extra weight?
    Every extra ounce (on Mars) means about 16-24 times the increase in launch vehicle weight, fuel, and structure at launched.
    But the Mars rovers are small, very light weight, easy to tip over, did I mention they were mobile and very light weight?, inaccessible little vehicles that can tip over easily when they hit a rock, incline, sand, or a crater’s edge. It’d be like attaching a four-ton thirty foot high windmill to the top of a dune buggy – then taking it out across the sand while you drove the whole thing in a hurricane via remote control with a 20 second time delay. .
    So attaching a retractable, controllable, portable, windmill on the top of the vehicle would NOT improve reliability or mobility, but would great;y increase weight and reduce redundancy. Increase the threats – and, if the wind were blowing the wrong way – greatly increase the amount of power needed to travel;. Each time the wind generator deployed (since it could not generate much power right near the ground) you’d have to stop traveling, rig out the outriggers and braces, extend the generator, aim it, create power, then re-rig in everything, then travel again. If anything failed at any time, you could not move again.
    Worse, you could be stuck with the unit unable to move (because some lever or gear or footpad or retractor jammed or got dirt in a gear or motor) AND unable to create power … with the wind generator blocking the sun from the (backup) solar cells.

  130. Continuing my thoughts from above: Fixed non-mobile base with a good anchor? Heavier tower, larger rotor, higher center of rotation or longer vertical length, larger wind generator (10-15 meters) higher above “ground” level? With some degree of local cleaning repair and maintenance?
    Sure. Makes a lot of sense.

  131. The cheapest, simplest, cleanest, reliable and continuous power is Geothermal. Ice land get just about 100% from its geothermal sources. These are almost infinite
    Solution
    Lay a DC Power cable from Iceland to the Faroe Islands. Split it there and lay cables to Norway and Dounray in Scotland. Pump in the Power. As the Income mounts build a similar cable system to the West.
    So many technical ways to do and initially to kick start its viability, it can be done very Cheaply. The cable cost is high but that cost can be bought down. Much better and simpler than oil or gas pipelines and safer two. Fibre optics communications can be packaged in as well.
    Iceland can use growth in power to repay debt, bankers can assist to assure they get lost money back. In addition Iceland can increase temperature dependent agriculture and produce high value products for both European and American markets.
    QED

  132. {Smokey says:
    September 2, 2010 at 6:30 am
    Way before it was fashionable [in 1984] I installed a solar heater for my swimming pool. It consisted of 12 3.5 X 7 foot boxes enclosing black anodized copper tubing under a plate glass wind barrier [if the tubing isn’t enclosed it will act as a radiator, and any breezes will greatly reduce the heating capacity].}
    My neighbour when I was a kid, used his driveway. he laid tubing down, then had the asphalt laid. The hottest pool in the neighbourhood!

  133. Jon says:
    September 2, 2010 at 4:53 pm (Edit)
    It is getting dark and all the supporters of solar can’t respond.

    Lolz.
    Solar is semi-viable for individual dwellings. A 15×15 foot array will make around 4kw during the day while folks are at work, if it’s sunny, and summer. Get a redundant UPS system from a closed down office and charge it during daytime when your electric is free from the panels. Invert mains voltage off the UPS in the evening. Simples.
    Or if you can’t afford the investment, get a company to install it free. In the UK, with the new ‘feed in tariff’ being so attractive, there are companies offering free panels in return for the money they will get from subsidy. They think it will work because folks work during the day, but they haven’t reckoned on my UPS scheme. 🙂
    They tie you in for 25 years, but include fitting, maintainance and theft insurance. When some more efficient technology comes along, it will pay them to upgrade your system free too…
    UK readers south of Hull should google Isis solar, Homesun and A Shade Greener.

  134. Taphonomic says:
    September 2, 2010 at 10:18 am
    Atmospheric carbonate dust and any dust that has already settled on the solar panel will disolve in brief desert rainstorms and re-precipitate as carbonate blotches that are hell to clean off. Anyone who has been in the desert and seen their nice new car wash ruined by a one minute shower can attest to how quickly their car beomes encrusted with carbonate crud. The solar panels baking in the sun just exacerbates the effect.

    Siemens Stirling engines fired with wood pellets use a compressed air system to clean the soot off the heat exchangers. Compressing the air uses a small percentage of the power generated. Could that be a solution for solar mirrors and panels? Assuming it gets cloudy for a while before it rains, maybe the mirrors or panels could be automatically inverted before the rain starts to prevent the carbonate getting caked on?
    To every technical problem, a solution… Doesn’t cut down the square footage issue though.

  135. “…would put 2.5 MILLION people to work”
    Doing what? I don’t see it (except for one lone year to install all of the solar panels on roofs).
    I read something intriguing the other day. If the companies making solar panels had to run their entire factories off of solar power, it would take twenty years worth of energy to create each solar cell that is only going to last for twenty years. I still wonder if that report was not exactly correct.
    That was saying a lone solar cell which outputs one watt of power six hours a day in twenty years would produce 43.8 kWhrs max, no clouds, in it’s lifetime. Solar panels peter out in about twenty years. Of course, there are many solar cells in one solar panel. The report implied it takes 43.8 kWhrs, after totally all production energy used, such as melting the sand and silicon purification etc, just to produce the solar cell !! Amazing way to look at it!
    Well they don’t run these factories on solar power do they. So use that logic to figure how much coal and gas it takes to produce your “clean” solar power on your roof today.
    People of the world, where the hell did your logic go? I know, lack of truthful information in the information age.
    Now if each 3″x3″ cell could output, let’s say 10 watts (which it never will for 6 watts output is a clear sky at high noon, low latitude, at noon and at 100% capture) or if they could produce it using 1/5th of the power that it produces in it’s lifetime, therefore at 1/5th today’s price, then I could see it making a sizable difference. It’s not there and may never be “there” by the physics of what they are and how they must be made.
    What we are doing right now it buying solar arrays that basically burn up the same amount of energy to produce them, today, as they will ever re-capture from the sun, twenty years worth. For our kids sake, that not a very bright thing to do, burn their energy today. That energy I’ve spoke of should be used to carry this world the 10 to 15 years down the path while we develop better, safer things like thorium reactors to carry us the next hundred years till fusion reactors become reality, if ever. But we can’t if everyone buys solar panels today, it will drain our world’s reserves running the factories to bring you solar panels on your roof.
    I hope that report was wrong and the above scenario is not what is actually going on right now.
    George E. Smith’s comment of 30,000 square miles of solar panels, I shudder.

  136. They’ve probably discovered a fundamental problem: solar doesn’t generate much power at night. The other fundamental discovery: wind doesn’t generate much power when the wind doesn’t blow – which is about three quarters of the time.
    And what happens on windless nights? Don’t ask!
    Chris

  137. tarpon says:
    September 2, 2010 at 5:07 am

    No mention of failure to use the land for drilling for oil. Just covering everything with solar panels. I wonder, what would be the side effects of that?
    BTW, did you know coal can be refined into liquid fuel? Sure can, it’s called the Fischer-Tropsch process, and in results in cleaner fuel, because the coal is first converted to a gas, and the gas then used to complete the refining process. The gasification stage filters out contaminants found in coal and normal oil.
    And at what costs? Glad you asked, Texas University just did a study pilot plant for Canada which concludes gasoline and diesel could be produced at less than $30 barrel equivalent to oil. Including plant costs.
    And did you know, the Crow Indians in Montana on their reservation are actually building such a production refinery? Seems the EPA cannot run the reservations, entirely. Although they have been trying everything to shut them down. Why? Maybe they don’t want this spreading to other reservations?

    http://commerce.mt.gov/Energy/energyaccomplishments.mcpx
    Coal-to-Liquid Plants
    Many Stars CTL – August, 2008
    The Crow Tribe announced in August 2008 a partnership with the Australian-American Energy Co., a subsidiary of the Australian Energy Co., to build the Many Stars coal-to-liquid fuels plant outside of Crow Agency. The project would produce 50,000 barrels per day of diesel and other fuels. The $7 billion plant would employ up to 4,000 during construction and would create 1,000 permanent jobs. EPDD has been instrumental in this project from the inception by making the initial introduction between the Crow Tribe and AAEC. We continue to monitor and support the project as they work through permitting, education, and workforce issues.
    Website for Many Stars Project: http://www.manystarsctl.com/
    Germans used process to fuel their air force during WW II.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fischer%E2%80%93Tropsch_process

  138. Solar is semi-viable for individual dwellings. A 15×15 foot array will make around 4kw during the day while folks are at work, if it’s sunny, and summer. Get a redundant UPS system from a closed down office and charge it during daytime when your electric is free from the panels. Invert mains voltage off the UPS in the evening. Simples.
    Or if you can’t afford the investment, get a company to install it free. In the UK, with the new ‘feed in tariff’ being so attractive, there are companies offering free panels in return for the money they will get from subsidy. They think it will work because folks work during the day, but they haven’t reckoned on my UPS scheme. 🙂
    They tie you in for 25 years, but include fitting, maintainance and theft insurance. When some more efficient technology comes along, it will pay them to upgrade your system free too…
    UK readers south of Hull should google Isis solar, Homesun and A Shade Greener.
    I do not blame people for taking advantage of government give away programs. I do, however, object to paying for them and then having the people I am forced into subsidizing telling me it is a great idea and that they are saving the earth, when they are certainly not.

  139. Well they don’t run these factories on solar power do they. So use that logic to figure how much coal and gas it takes to produce your “clean” solar power on your roof today.
    True they produce them where the power is cheapest, which means coal in most cases.

  140. Coal-to-Liquid Plants
    SASOL in South Africa has been producing and licensing liquified coal facilities for many years. This fuel is approved for use in commercial airliners, etc.

  141. And if we would have continued R&D and building reactors the last 40 years instead of fretting about China Syndromes and mutated fish we probably would have electricity too cheap to meter. But as is par for the course for this country we pi**ed away time and money to no effect.
    —-
    If you’d read a little further in the Wikipedia article you paraphrased in your post you would have read that the reason nuclear power was developed in the 1950′s was because it was thought (at the time) it would provide electricity ‘too cheap to meter’.

  142. Roof-Tops! The future of the world is in ‘Roof-Tops’! Think clean! Think outside the box (house)! Roof-Tops!!!!

  143. I believe that in view of historic efficiency progress, solar may one day be a feasible alternative for some portion of energy needs, which one day may even be a significant part in some parts of this world. Currently it is a rational decision not to install solar capacity as the rate of expected efficiency increase exceeds the energy yield of current technology installations. It is rational to develop solar electricity up to a point where it becomes economic or at least venture in that direction, as it is clean renewable and abundant and does not ruin the landscape the way wind driven generators generally do. It makes little or no sense to subsidise inefficient systems for large scale projects better subsidise research and development until the technology is mature. Until the land reserved for the purpose may serve us in its ravaging wild beauty.

  144. Pascvaks says:
    September 3, 2010 at 5:50 am
    Roof-Tops! The future of the world is in ‘Roof-Tops’! Think clean! Think outside the box (house)! Roof-Tops!!!!
    As long as you are willing to pay for whatever you put on your rooftop, don’t expect me to pay for any part of it, you are willing to forgoe tax credits, are willing to accept the real value for what you put back into the grid; I say go for it.
    If you expect me to help you pay for it, pay taxes to support it and higher electric rates to subsidize your hobby and puff up your eco-ego, then forget it.

  145. Jon says:
    September 3, 2010 at 4:19 am
    I do not blame people for taking advantage of government give away programs. I do, however, object to paying for them and then having the people I am forced into subsidizing telling me it is a great idea and that they are saving the earth, when they are certainly not.

    Agreed. I just want to save money, not the world. Also, I predict these subsidies won’t actually last long, so if I can get a solar speculation co to give me $20k’s worth of panels for nothing, I’m a happy man. They will still supply a goodly proportion of my needs whether or not they make money by feeding power back onto the grid.

  146. Charles Opalek: Solar pv energy has an EROEI ratio of 0.48 (www.dieoff.org/pv.htm). That is: In the lifetime of a solar pv installaton it will only return 48% of the energy that went into its manufacture, installation and operation. Wind power is worse. It’s EROEI by my calculations is 0.29.

    I do not know what your qualifications are. Let’s see what the Danish Wind Industry Association says on this,
    http://guidedtour.windpower.org/en/tour/env/enpaybk.htm
    Vintage (from the 80s) wind turbines gave back the energy for their constructions in about two years.
    Modern wind turbines give back the energy required to produce them in two to three months.
    Let me quote from the website,
    http://guidedtour.windpower.org/en/tour/env/enpaybk.htm

    Modern wind turbines rapidly recover all the energy spent in manufacturing, installing, maintaining, and finally scrapping them. Under normal wind conditions it takes between two and three months for a turbine to recover all of the energy involved.

    Do we reject their data just because this is their business and may not be impartial? Shall we not trust them?

  147. Do we reject their data just because this is their business and may not be impartial? Shall we not trust them?
    Since none of them can exist without massive grants, tax credits and forced purchase of power at far above market rates; I don’t believe them.
    If this were true then we should not have to mandate purchase of the power or give a tax credit for any installation over 2 months old. Cutting off any of the massive public funds any wind farm gets would immediately send the turbines to a salvage yard.

  148. Justa Joe: “Look at mobile phones. Until 1997, there were a niche item for rich guys and the handsets were large and unwieldy.” – PAULW
    Pauly, Maybe you’ve been influenced by some zealous ‘educators’. Based on the above statement I must conclude that you are very young. The mobile phone “blew up” in the early 90′s. The era you describe would be prior to the mid 80′s. Also due to your youth you may not know this, but people have been singing the siren song of solar energy since at least the late 60′s.

    What Justa Joe does is what drops the credibility of this website to the bottom.
    1. There is some sloppy referencing there. It is not me that said that.
    However, it is true that creating business for solar energy producers, we will be able to achieve high quality, efficient, cheap solar panels. It’s like the Nokia phones. They start with lousy early phones and they have reached to miniature devices. China is investing in a 2GW solar park with First Solar (US company), with the caveat for technology transfer. First Solar makes new technology solar panels (not the silicon ones). Smart guys the Chinese.
    2. You are condescending, picking on age. This type of attitude shows lack of arguments. You are trying to divert the discussion to name calling. You make this website and Antony look silly.

  149. “Modern wind turbines give back the energy required to produce them in two to three months.” – Paulw
    I heard this canard on this very blog from some other wind energy shill, and frankly I don’t believe it. It is apparently based on some convoluted rationale. I would like you to present their formula on how they arrive at this payoff since no iron works, concrete plant, or copper processing plant can be run on the meager output of wind farms.

  150. paulw quotes a source so heavily biased that it makes normal folks roll thier eyes in exasperation:

    Modern wind turbines rapidly recover all the energy spent in manufacturing, installing, maintaining, and finally scrapping them. Under normal wind conditions it takes between two and three months for a turbine to recover all of the energy involved.

    paulw asks:
    “Do we reject their data just because this is their business and may not be impartial? Shall we not trust them?”
    We reject their data because it is completely fabricated. If paulw’s citation had a shred of truth to it, there would be no need whatever for any government subsidies for wind turbines.
    Without their fantastic assertions and bogus data, the CAGW crowd would have nothing. When we examine their claims, we always find smoke and mirrors.

  151. paulw says:
    However, it is true that creating business for solar energy producers, we will be able to achieve high quality, efficient, cheap solar panels. It’s like the Nokia phones. They start with lousy early phones and they have reached to miniature devices. China is investing in a 2GW solar park with First Solar (US company), with the caveat for technology transfer. First Solar makes new technology solar panels (not the silicon ones). Smart guys the Chinese.
    Jon says:
    50 years is long enough to wait for this infant technology to mature. When, and if, it becomes practical people will but it without subsidies. Spending billions on technology that is the most expensive, least efficient in the world makes no sense at all. It doesn’t adbvance the design and saddles us with debt, more expensive power and the delusion that it is cleaning the air measurably.

  152. Paulw,
    “However, it is true that creating business for solar energy producers, we will be able to achieve high quality, efficient, cheap solar panels.”
    The cost of solar panels are not the issue; at the moment they are hugely expensive, but like you say, costs will probably come down. And solar panels definately do have a role to play in a mixed infra structure, such as where consumers are isolated from the grid and their consumption is not mission critical. It also has a role in certan mobile applications as well as in space vehicles.
    There are 2 real issue. Solar energy depends on lack of cloud cover, time of day and latitude. When you factor in that the average incoming global insolation is about 240 watts per square meter, and that efficiency is less than 20%, the first issue is the low level of energy density. And placing solar panels over the land deprives that land of solar radiation that would be used by the biosphere, which is also a serious ecological cost. The other main issue is cleaning. Sounds simple in principle, but when you are looking at potentially thousands of square kilometers, you are talking huge labour costs.
    As for the Chinese, I don’t know the details of this project, but I am sure they aren’t doing it to obtain cheap energy. Very clever, the Chinese, and they have their reasons.

  153. “What Justa Joe does is what drops the credibility of this website to the bottom.
    1. There is some sloppy referencing there. It is not me that said that.” -PaulW
    If you did not make that statement I apologize. I had to plow through a lot of comments. It must have been a different solar energy advocate on this thread (who popped up concurrently with you). However, I don’t see how that drops the credibility of the site as everything that I stated is correct. I worked in the mobile phone industry during that time period. Furthermore you go on to essentially support that very statement with the following.
    “It’s like the Nokia phones. They start with lousy early phones and they have reached to miniature devices. ” – paulw
    Sorry, You’re wrong. The mobile phones of that era were state of the art for that era. They weren’t “lousy”. Those phones delivered what was required very adequately and sufficiently reliably for that period. Heck, they would still be serviceable today. The problem is solar, which you want us to use currently, isn’t adequate or reliable as compared to the state of the art of electrical generation today.

  154. Ref – Jon says:
    September 3, 2010 at 6:04 am
    Pascvaks says:
    September 3, 2010 at 5:50 am
    “Roof-Tops! The future of the world is in ‘Roof-Tops’! Think clean! Think outside the box (house)! Roof-Tops!!!!”
    __
    “As long as you are willing to pay for whatever you put on your rooftop, don’t expect me to pay for any part of it, you are willing to forgoe tax credits, are willing to accept the real value for what you put back into the grid; I say go for it…”
    _______________________
    Non! Non! Non! You see, we close down all the nuclear and coal generating capacity we currently have –we really can’t afford to keep it going anyway with the economy at death’s door– and if people want electricity then it’s up to them and the good old private enterprise system to build it, install it, and keep it running. But, here’s the kicker, it all has to be done on roof-tops: homes, business, government, church, synagogue, temple, school, fire station, barracks, mess hall, etc., etc. How’s that sound? Anyone want to sign up now? Understand if ya gotta’ bounce it off the boss. I do too.
    Got another idea about water from rain and using human waste to generate gas to cook food. Still working on the details. We just gotta’ get away form all this industrial scale stuff, right? Every home and business should be totally independent. No more of this public utility junk! And sat links for TV too, no more cable and phone poles ruining the view. And streets, who needs streets, and … you know, there’s a awful lot we can do. I’ve always liked horses…
    PS: We could be a little smarter than we have been, and we don’t need Big Brother to do anything except stay out of our hair. Look at New Orleans.

  155. Ref – Jon says:
    September 3, 2010 at 6:04 am
    Pascvaks says:
    September 3, 2010 at 5:50 am
    “Roof-Tops! The future of the world is in ‘Roof-Tops’! Think clean! Think outside the box (house)! Roof-Tops!!!!”
    __
    “As long as you are willing to pay for whatever you put on your rooftop, don’t expect me to pay for any part of it, you are willing to forgoe tax credits, are willing to accept the real value for what you put back into the grid; I say go for it…”
    _______________________
    Non! Non! Non! You see, we close down all the nuclear and coal generating capacity we currently have –we really can’t afford to keep it going anyway with the economy at death’s door– and if people want electricity then it’s up to them and the good old private enterprise system to build it, install it, and keep it running. But, here’s the kicker, it all has to be done on roof-tops: homes, business, government, church, synagogue, temple, school, fire station, barracks, mess hall, etc., etc. How’s that sound? Anyone want to sign up now? Understand if ya gotta’ bounce it off the boss. I do too.
    Got another idea about water from rain and using human waste to generate gas
    Jon says:
    Sounds like wishful, impractical thinking that, if followed, would have the survivors of this experiment living in caves. Do you work for the current administration?
    Jon

  156. Ref – Jon says:
    September 3, 2010 at 4:20 pm
    “Do you work for the current administration?”
    _______________________
    (-; You’re cruel! Oh! You’re soooooo cruel!;-)
    No! I’m too old, too independent, and I don’t know how to talk to people -apparently!!! From now on I’ll add (sarc on) (sarc off).

  157. You don’t know, where the solar panels are? Maybe some of them are here, in the small Czech Republic. The senseless subsidies for the “renewables” led to acres of fields covered during the last 2 years with panels threatening to increase the electricity price by 20% in the next year.
    “Photovoltaic systems are receiving just under 0.50 EUR/kWh of solar power. This feed-in tariff is guaranteed for 20 years. 2009 a number of MW plants were connected to the grid. ”
    Some of these panel fields were even built by Chinese investments to use the subsidies. Just great…

  158. Pascvaks says:
    (-; You’re cruel! Oh! You’re soooooo cruel!;-)
    No! I’m too old, too independent, and I don’t know how to talk to people -apparently!!! From now on I’ll add (sarc on) (sarc off).
    Jon says:
    Sorry, I didn’t pick up the sarcasm. I sometimes miss it when someone is purposely being funny as opposed to when people are dead serious and offer laughable ideas.
    Mae culpa
    Jon

  159. Vince Causey: There are 2 real issue. Solar energy depends on lack of cloud cover, time of day and latitude. When you factor in that the average incoming global insolation is about 240 watts per square meter, and that efficiency is less than 20%, the first issue is the low level of energy density. And placing solar panels over the land deprives that land of solar radiation that would be used by the biosphere, which is also a serious ecological cost. The other main issue is cleaning. Sounds simple in principle, but when you are looking at potentially thousands of square kilometers, you are talking huge labour costs.

    The new generation of solar panels promises over 40% efficiency, which thankfully comes from research in the US. I hope there is funding to help materialize it here.
    The solar panels are not intended to be placed over farms which would otherwise could be used for cultivation/farming. It is not economic to do so. You would place solar panels on your home roof, on the roof of a business building where it does not affect people.
    There is new research on how to deal with dust on the solar panels, pioneered by the Mars rover. Small bursts of static electricity on the panel has the effect of clearing up and removing dust.

  160. paulw says:
    September 4, 2010 at 3:00 am
    The new generation of solar panels promises over 40% efficiency, which thankfully comes from research in the US. I hope there is funding to help materialize it here.
    Jon says:
    If this becomes reality there will be investors happy to finance them and place them in applications where they will be valuable. For 50 years the same promise of breakthroughs in efficiency and cost have been made. Spending billions on each new promise and failing time and tima again over 1/2 century should be convincing proof that it is just not practical. Repeating the same action time and time again with the same result and then repeating it and expecting some different result is Einstein’s definition of insanity.

  161. Ref – Jon says:
    September 3, 2010 at 7:14 pm
    Me a clupa too! Thanks for the re par te and feedback. Chow:-)
    _______________
    Ref – paulw says:
    September 4, 2010 at 3:00 am
    That’s what I’m talking about. Let’s hope they don’t outsource the technology and jobs to China or Mexico. The American Shingle Biz is definitely one of the ones we need to reinvent and keep congress and the prez and the epa away from.

  162. “The solar panels are not intended to be placed over farms which would otherwise could be used for cultivation/farming. It is not economic to do so.”
    Oh really? Someone forgot to tell it here in Czech R. …the panels are put on meadows and arable land.

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