Oh, that's gotta hurt – Obama denies solar panels

From the Guardian:

Suzanne Goldenbergs blog - click for details

It has been said that Obama is the worst president since Jimmy Carter, perhaps now in the eyes of 350.org supporters, he’s “worse than we thought”. Carter was the first to put solar panels on the White House. Being nothing more than an icon, they didn’t last.

Image: Washington Post via 350.org

And here we have a more recent example of iconic posturing:

Image: Treehugger.com via putsolaron.it

350.org “community solanizer” Bill McKibben writes:

Disappointment at the White House, Pride in the Movement

For the last three days, I’ve been sitting at my kitchen table in California cranking out press releases, calling reporters, and generally playing “pit crew” for Bill and our Put Solar On It road trip. It’s been a great ride: tens of thousands of people have shown their support for putting solar back on the White House, the crew had great stops in Boston, New York, and D.C., and we managed to secure a meeting with the Administration to discuss putting solar back on the roof.

As we expected (but secretly hoped wouldn’t be the case), the White House didn’t commit to … well, anything. We tossed them a big, fat soft ball to hit out of the park and they just watched it float on by.

===============================================

So much America’s “first green president”. Solar isn’t even mentioned here:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/energy-and-environment

The irony, it burns.

UPDATE: some people wrongly got the idea that I hate solar power, which is not the case at all. I put solar on my own home, see the story here.

-Anthony

http://media3.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/photo/2010/09/09/PH2010090906346.jpg

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120 thoughts on “Oh, that's gotta hurt – Obama denies solar panels

  1. PV is a complete waste of time for the overwhelming majority of people and anyone who puts them on their roof is just playing the PR game. If you/they want to use solar, then do something sensible and go for solar water (pre)heating. WITHOUT SUBSIDY these have always had a payback of 2-10years making them viable cost saving measures for most people.
    But if you really want to use solar then:-
    Build a house with large south facing windows and smaller north – with a roof that extends so as to shade them in summer and prevent overheating
    But as no one makes money from the way houses are built — and with no money to be made, there’s no one shouting for it to happen — which just shows you the only reason people do these Green things is because someone makes money from it, irrespective of how “Green” it really is.

  2. The presidential limo and the security crew can’t drive electric or any other energy other than gas and diesel due to the amount of weight that has to be moved; the amount of distance that has to be traveled and the lack of special fuels required for the new breed of cars.
    They are not going to take public transportation or ride a bike.
    They don’t need the cash for clunker program.
    All the above applies to you and I.

  3. Mate of mine travels around Australia in a converted bus for 11 months of the year and the other month he spends at home refurbing in the winter 🙂
    Anyway, he purchased a couple commercial grade solar panels for 20grand and they provide enough power to keep his batteries charged to keep his fridge, tv and internal lighting running…but not a lot more. He has a really nifty set up but it was expensive and the kind of money your average sub prime home owner won’t have sitting around!
    Mailman

  4. Anthony, you are beginning to undermine the value of your excellent site and give a massive propaganda coup to the warmists who claim that skeptics are a right wing group backed by the hard right in the USA. Statements like “It has been said that Obama is the worst president since Jimmy Carter, perhaps now in the eyes of 350.org supporters, he’s “worse than we thought” have no place on a site this. Many people would gently suggest that Dubya, Ronnie and other Presidents were also pretty bad, but such beliefs should not be promoted on a Science site such as this. Remember, you audience is international and growing and this ( hopefully) is not a site funded by the tea party. If we promote right, or left wing politics you will inevitably start to lose the very people we need to keep on board.

  5. ghostwhowalksnz says:
    September 12, 2010 at 12:35 am
    This doesnt make sense. ?
    The solar panels ( for heating water) installed during the Carter era were removed under Reagan because of leaks . However replacements were put in during GWB’s time along with panels for the in ground swimming pool.

    Now that WAS smart. Now who did that? ☺
    BTW, maybe in this case better to not say “solar panels”, all will fill in with “electricity”, use “solar collector” instead — bout four times the efficiency and a fraction the cost and they do just that, collect heat, pure solar heat, no electricity involved.

  6. Obama sure is a disaster. I’m wondering why Biden was sent to New York on the anniversary of 9/11. Surely it should be the President leading the memorial day at Ground Zero, the site of thousands of deaths? Did he stay in Washington so he didn’t have to face the Islamic centre controversy protesters?
    [There is a thread for 9/11 comment. ….. bl57~mod]

  7. Gareth,
    People are free to think whatever they want, but anybody paying attention to the polls in the US these days (and in some other countries that were formerly enamored of Mr. Obama), even liberals and the hard left is agreeing that Obama is a huge disappointment, at the very least. Latest polls show that more of the electorate is determined to vote GOP this year than at any time since polling was invented, including during Carter’s term in office. So Anthony wasn’t being partisan, he was observing the reality that exists outside the MSM reality distortion zone.

  8. Jimmy Carter was actually a pretty good president, all things considered. He deregulated the airline industry, deregulated trucking, set the stage for the deregulation of oil, and brokered the Egypt-Isreal peace agreement. Obama will do worse to follow “W” rather than Carter.
    As for “green” energy initiatives, every president since Nixon has declared our addiction to oil to be a national crisis. The global warming scam is a tool to try to get America to decrease its dependence on oil before oil actually does become a scarce commodity. It’s not likely to happen as oil is just too cheap and plentiful. But America does consume a lot of oil. We are the world’s third largest oil producer and yet cannot provide half the oil we consume. A world war divided along the lines of oil producers versus oil consumers could devastate America’s global economic hegemoney and America’s enemies know it. A headstart on energy technology alternatives to oil may very well be our salvation.
    Fear mongering on the world getting warmer? Bad idea. But encouraging development of energy technology to compete with oil? Not such a bad idea.

  9. This story illustrates my greatest issue with the green movement – the overwhelming emphasis on image and awareness, instead of quantifiable achievement. It is hard seperate the good technologies and processes from the chaff of stock hustlers and sideshow barkers.
    The greens need to reach an awareness of their own: they have oversold their concerns into fearmongering and haven’t supplied realistic solutions to the “problems” they identify. More honest research and an enormous amount of engineering needs to done – before they should work on anymore glossy PR campaigns and silly demonstrations. I can’t take them seriously until they get boring and practical.

  10. “Campaigner Bill McKibben says solar panels would demonstrate presidential leadership on climate change”
    Very interesting how liberals attempt to get what they want. Watch how they frame questions and statements. Instead of discussing the validity of solar panels on the roof of the white house, McKibben shifts the onus onto the other person (demonstrating presidential leadership) and assumes that his request is totally reasonable.
    It can be seen here too:
    ‘It has been said that Obama is the worst president since Jimmy Carter, perhaps now in the eyes of 350.org supporters, he’s “worse than we thought’
    They did the same thing with gay marriage. They needed to create opposition for it to became a rights issue. Very cunning indeed.

  11. I think we’re all missing the point. Regardless of how we may feel about Obama on a political basis, he should be praised for having made a cost-benefit analysis (possibly factoring in the aesthetic impact of garishly awful-looking SPV panels on the roof of a national icon like the WH) and having come to the $$-based conclusion that, for a building with the WH’s power needs, a suite of SPV panels would be nothing more than a cynically cosmetic gesture.
    What Obama (and the ideologues at 350.org) can’t ever afford to admit is that technologies that can’t compete commercially without massive taxpayer subsidies are a white elephant that should be abandoned, not propped up by politically-motivated waste. And I say that as a guy who, unlike a lot of so-called environmentalists, has actually put his money where his mouth is. I recently, after much research, installed a Velux solar hot water preheating system on my south-facing roof. It keeps a 120-gallon tank at a lovely 165F in daytime, and only drops to about 120F at night (the heating capability is much higher; during installation, a stuck valve caused the tank to climb above 240F. We got a little nervous). Coupled with a high-efficiency natural gas boiler and computerized hydronic in-floor radiant heating, it’s a welcome boost to my home’s heating and a boon to my energy bills – particularly since I live in Ottawa, where (a) it’s really cold in the winter, and (b) electricity rates are about to skyrocket thanks to our idiot ‘liberal’ government promising to shut down coal-fired generating stations, pumping billions of ym tax dollars into wind-power boondoggles, and refusing to allow any new nuclear generating stations to be built.
    The secret to ‘green power’ is simple: if it costs less to generate than conventional power, the world will beat a path to your door. Solar hot water heating is teetering on the verge of being cost-effective right now. SPV generation is not. If your system is not cost-effective, then you might as well burn dollar bills to heat your house. We should be applauding Obama for understanding this basic economic truth (if that’s what really happened and it simply wasn’t a case of “Geez, I don’t want anybody banding on the roof for the next four months”).
    Now, if only his administration – and the one running MY province – would apply the same economic logic to corn-based ethanol, wind turbines, large-scale SPV installations, tidal power, etc., etc…

  12. ‘Do as I say not as I do’ type as I knew he would be. Follows in Gore’s footprints. Solar power is fine if you need a small amount of power during the day. None of these so called green energy projects, like solar and wind, would be used without massive subsidy from the taxpayer. In the UK the wind energy people make no money from power generation only from government handouts. I think that the taxpayer has had enough.

  13. Bill McKibbon has too much time, and other people’s money on his hands.
    He’s lucky White House security didn’t gang tackle him.

  14. What if he had put new solar panels. We would have seen dear Anthony or Steeve (and most of you guys) all over him for doing so – be honest…
    The administration (any one of them) is a perfect target to say about anything (it’s always a no win situation) when you don’t have something smart to put in a blog. That was a good exemple where the poster should have taken a night or a day off from the keyboard.
    REPLY: Actually, I put solar on my own home, see the story here. So I’d have no issue at all. -Anthony

  15. That meant he is interfering with green jobs. Remember President Bush enjoys a very green ranch house.
    He must be anti science.

  16. Defacing the exterior of US national historic monuments with solar panels? Whose hare brained idea was that? Obama’s refusal is one of his better decisions. His stock just rose a bit in my book.

  17. I say ALL of the “Greenpeacers” out there should convoy via electric buses into DC and all chain themselves to the fence around 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.– it might take a while, due to the annoyingly frequent stops to recharge which takes annoyingly long periods of time, but the end result of this convoy would be more than worth it……..

  18. It has been said that Obama is the worst president since Jimmy Carter, perhaps now in the eyes of 350.org supporters, he’s “worse than we thought”.
    Anyone who says that must have been sleeping during the terms of George W. Bush. Two recessions, devastating attacks on our soil, a mess in Afghanistan, unnecessary invasion and bungled occupation of Iraq, global banking meltdown, virtually no net job creation………and someone thinks Carter (or Obama) was bad, in comparison?

  19. This is a PR nightmare if it was allowed.
    From defacing the Whitehouse. To people studying how many WATTS the panels put out in power per day to the actual cost. Is it not overcast most days?

  20. Solar energy is a “rich man’s hobby”. I am lucky enough to afford some of it and over a period of years have 10 KW of panels on my roof in the Boston area, which on a good day will generate about 5 KW. That is due largely to a poor roof orientation of NE/SW. Some panels get sun while others are shaded. But hey, I am one of those PhD nerds from MIT and you gotta play. People ask me the time to payback and I tell them never. But there is some method in my madness. We get ice storms, etc. up here and power outages lasting days are not unknown. Thus there is a 100 KWH battery bank for backup to the inverters. Lotsa fun moving a 333# 6V cell into position. But if we have a tree come down through the wires, at least the fridge, the heating, and some lighting will be there. 3 days of no power and no heat in winter gets you the chance to replace a lot of burst pipes. So, I have my “toy” and a bit of power outage insurance. Does it pay for itself? In this area of the country, never has, and never will. Even taking the cost of the panels through the floor doesn’t help. You have the rest of Barbie’s clothes to pay for.

  21. well said marge
    welcome to how the reality distortion zone creates mythology in real time that persists even when its quite glaringly unbelievable
    Want alternatives to compete and have a chance? ok, then remove all the subsidies with the several industries that heavily involve petroleum and see what happens once the massive market distortions are removed. I don’t wanna hear any complaints though once people actually have to pay for their petroleum based lives. The external costs are huge to say the least.

  22. DN-
    Since you live in Ontario, have you submitted your application yet for solar PV on your roof or in your yard? Last I read the feed in tariff is back at around 80 cents/kWhr, compared with residential rates in the 7 – 8 cents/kWhr range right now.

  23. …and tell me again how Obama could be worse than Bush? Two wars, tax cuts for the only the richest in the country, and an economy in the tank because Bush let Wall Street ruin the economy…what was that about Obama again?

  24. Solar panels on the White House? I think not. Tacky! Very Tacky!
    I have heard from an authoritative source (Some one who hears green voices) that, instead, he will install several Industrial Wind Turbines in the Rose Garden as a demonstration of his deep commitment to the environmental movement. That is unless of course they are too noisy and annoying — in which case he will encourage other people to “Go Green!” — but not near him — and to suffer the noise, flicker effect and infra-sound that accompanies them — and drives some people bonkers.
    Green is Good! If other people bear the consequences.

  25. “it has been said that Anthony Watts is a lier”
    I would hope that un attributed ad hominem attacks would have no place on this site. It brings into question your prejudices. Maybe you’re a skeptic not because of reasoned scientific analysis but because your and ignorant, creationist, tea-partying, republican tool.
    -chico
    REPLY: If you want to insult me, at least learn how to spell your insults correctly. Heh. -Anthony

  26. DN says:
    September 12, 2010 at 3:07 am

    Hey DN, do you find that you’re recouping the cost of your solar-hot-water investment reasonably quickly? Or is it one of those “you’ll break even in 14 years or so” deals? That’s what we were told back in the mid-’90s, when we expanded our house. We heat baseboard hot water with natural gas.
    /Mr Lynn

  27. I got some of those free solar heaters from Carter. They were supposed to heat the house, but barely heated the hot tub. Hey they were free, even though the stupid government paid me $7500 to have them installed.
    Obama the destroyer … Now takes the ring off Carter’s hand.

  28. nofreewind says:
    September 12, 2010 at 5:16 am

    This will give you and idea of how CRAZY solar is!!!

    Interesting articles. Imho, solar panels are useful only for pocket calculators, and and those little landscape lights.

  29. Mike Haseler wrote:

    If you/they want to use solar, then do something sensible and go for solar water (pre)heating. WITHOUT SUBSIDY these have always had a payback of 2-10years making them viable cost saving measures for most people.
    But if you really want to use solar then:-
    Build a house with large south facing windows and smaller north – with a roof that extends so as to shade them in summer and prevent overheating
    But as no one makes money from the way houses are built…

    Boy, there’s a lot of truth in that post. I built a “solar” house just as you described – with lots of windows on the S side – in California in 1975. During the 15 years we lived there, it needed no central heat whatsoever. More recently, I started a business designing “engineered homes” incorporating such ideas but shut it down this year. I found there’s absolutely no demand for simple, inexpensive, comfortable, low-maintenance,energy-efficient homes. People just want what their neighbor has, only bigger and more ostentatious.
    The idea of pre-heating your hot water with solar works really well with the tankless “instant” propane water heaters.

  30. “… tens of thousands of people have shown their support for putting solar back on the White House'”
    If SPV were viable, the White House would have shown its support for putting solar on the houses of tens of thousands of people. Heh. Not the other way around.
    Cranking out press releases from the kitchen? 🙂 Now we know what’s been cooking.

  31. Geez, I thought the saying was, “you can’t make EVERYBODY happy.”The way Mr Obama is going, he “can’t make ANYBODY happy”
    In comparing Obama to Carter, it looks like Carter is going to deserve a place on Mt Rushmore.

  32. I see that several posters are in stage 2 now.
    ie: Democrat’s plans for this fall:
    1) Denial
    2) Anger
    3) Bargaining
    4) Depression
    5) Acceptance
    Really, guys, the faster you can work through the these the happier you will be.

  33. I have individual solar paneled lights in my barn, ranch blacksmith shop, my back door, and for all my electric fences. Why? Too damned expensive to have an electric company come in and string poled wires to these locations. It was a no brainer in terms of cost. When (or if) the blacksmith shop or barn are needed for equipment repair purposes, of course I will have to invest in conventional power sources to run motorized repair equipment. Until then, solar is just exactly what I need.
    Solar comes in many varieties. If it is cheaper than conventional electricity, I will install it. Simple as that. Don’t care what other people think. Don’t care if others think I am green or a gawdamn redneck. Don’t care if people think I drink cool aid or eat nails. It is whatever is cost effective and scientifically valid. Wish Obama had that attitude. With this latest decision he has made (and there is significant risk he will change his mind), he just may be gettin some grit.

  34. Forgive me if I have my doubts that these decisions are only based on strict cost-benefit analysis. Occupants of the White House – both parties – are very politically calculating with a high visibility building like this.
    But it is not hard for me to believe that the original panels were removed approximately when umbrellas began to be deployed indoors. This is a different type of cost-benefit analysis and it is just possible that the President wanted no comparisons to the bumbling Carter.
    As for Carter, well, Mr. Obama has a shot at his title of “Worst President”, but he is going to have to go hard. Carter lost 46 States in his reelection bid, Reagan won 50 in his.
    This is not my opinion, but that of the American people.

  35. Gareth Phillips says:
    September 12, 2010 at 1:07 am
    Anthony, you are beginning to undermine the value of your excellent site and give a massive propaganda coup to the warmists who claim that skeptics are a right wing group backed by the hard right in the USA. . .

    While there are a fair number of liberal skeptics (or, as I prefer, Climate Realists) who post comments here, it is undeniable that the denizens of the Left are far more prone to accept the apocalyptic claims of the Climate Alarmists, and far less likely to question their tyrannical, statist ‘solutions’.
    Skepticism and conservatism are natural allies.
    /Mr Lynn

  36. A couple of “outside the box” ideas:
    –A roof in most areas of the country is already a “solar panel”. Make air cavities by applying panel and insulation to the ceiling joists and pump air through for heating house. Not as efficient but the typical surface area is huge and would have to be way cheaper than panels.
    –Use air tubing connected to the hot attic space then to a blower through a radiator and water pump to assist in pool heating during spring and fall, or summer too depending on the part of the country that you are in. Helps keep the pool warmer and the attic cooler to save A/C.

  37. To wit, it proved very difficult for Edison to get his inventions into every day life due to conservative skeptical thinking. Just because you are skeptical and conservative, does not always mean you are thinking logically. Those with that combination of beliefs are as prone to stupidity as any other stereotypical group of people. Group think is dangerous no matter what principles form its base.
    http://americanhistory.si.edu/lighting/19thcent/comp19.htm

  38. I personally think buildings of historical significance should not be allowed to have their exteriors altered in such a way.
    I’m not going to get into a political fracas here — politics and religion are two things that run deep in people. What I do want to mention is the fact that nobody talks about how terribly inefficient solar panels are. Even fewer people talk about the process that goes into making solar panels. Why do the greenies ignore these issues? Producing solar panels is a very un-green process. The higher efficiency solar panels use cadmium or indium, very rare metals. These metals must be mined, do you think that is good for the earth? The less efficient solar panels use silicon, but such solar panels cannot produce enough energy to satisfy our needs. A better use of money would be to improve the efficiency of already existing products while still keeping the more efficient products affordable.

  39. My grandparents lived in a 4300 plus square foot home built to historical standards. They would be (and were) first in line to modernize it. This idiocy we have about living in the past is for the birds. To take this line of reasoning logically, caves should be the building materials most favored. Life back in “historical times” that most people consider to be the “perfect time” to live, was hard, hard, hard, and filled with death. Case in point, the parlor of larger homes was in fact, the funeral parlor.

  40. Here is the bottom line. 30 miles from my house there is a 3 MW solar project being built for 18 million dollars. The output will be about 13% (likely more like 10 or 11%), so it will create 3.4 million kWhrs of electricity per year. If we took a loan out for 18 million dollars at 6.5% for 25 years the payments would be 1.45 millions dollars per year. 1.45/3.4 = 42 cents per kWh, I only pay 11 cents now, yet “so many” have no idea whatsoever that WE are being completely ripped off by this solar plant. WE the people, who will be paying interest on this boondoggle forever. The acres per kHr produced is completely insane. And then there are the transmission lines, cleaning, integration costs, it goes on and on. The 42 cents is likely more like 60 cent per kWh.
    A 2 MW wind turbine “only” costs 3 millions dollars and will have an average power of about .5 MW of average/yr. (it’s not 30%, because if you figure out the installed capacity and divide by MW’s produced you only get 25%, but THEY always exaggerate, so the public is duped again thinking average output is >30%). So basically the solar is a little less than 6x more expensive to build than a wind turbine.
    3 MW solar = .4 MW output = 18 million dollars
    2 MW wind = .5 MW output = 3 million dollars
    The only good news with solar is that it produces electricity when we need it, during the day and during the hot summer months. But in reality, it is complete insanity. Another positive for solar, although it destroys the local environment with its’ enormous footprint, it doesn’t detract from the landscape as much as wind, nor does it work better when build on our beautiful, scenic mountaintops. And it doesn’t create and noise or low frequency vibrations, nor does it kills any animals, except for the locals effects while the bulldozers prepare the site!
    So this is what the environmentalists want? in fact DEMAND!

  41. Here is what is real crazy about all this. We have the capital costs for the solar plant at 42 cents/kWh, and we have to add yearly maintenance on that. The payment is 1.42 million dollars per year, you would think maintenance is at least $100,000/year. That is probably low, because you probably need almost 2 full time men, so let’s go with 150K/year which adds another 5 cents/kWhr to yield 47cents/kWh.
    But that is only the start. Because the solar plant does not replace any REAL power plant, the only costs savings are in fuel, and that is arguable. Coal costs about 2-4 cents per kWh, while NatGas about 5-8 cents per kWh. So that is all you are “saving” (except dearest Mother Earth of course). So in essence you are paying 47 cents to “save” 2-8 cents or 5 cents average, MEANING Solar is about 10x more expensive than an average of coal and nat gas!!!
    Yet, go to theoildrum.com and you will find posts and comments, written by seaminly intelligent people, that state that solar just keeps coming down in price and VERY SOON will be competetive.
    Now here is the real problem. Say your electric bill is $130/month. Most people have no understanding that in actuality their household electricity usage is only 1/3 of what they use in actuality. Because in actuality, 1/3 of electricity produced is for residential, 1/3 commercial (stores and building) and 1/3 industrial. We ALL use services and products that are created from electricity. So in reality, your electric bill is not $130/month, it is actually 3 times that or about $400/month. So when people think they are willing to pay a little more for green energy (i have no idea why anyone would want to, and it ain’t green), they are confused, because the GREENIES only talk about “we are the world” when in there interests, but when talking electricity they only talk household, they always leave out the important facts! But who cares, the liberal environmentalists aren’t fact checkers anyway.

  42. Brad says:
    September 12, 2010 at 6:04 am
    …and tell me again how Obama could be worse than Bush?
    ==============================================
    Brad, why in this world do people think that? Being against Obama does not mean that someone is for Bush. That seems to be the lame fall back argument of the liberals.
    Anywho, now that Obama has become part of the “elite”, they don’t want solar or windmills where they have to see them…………

  43. Smokey says:
    September 12, 2010 at 8:03 am
    OK, let me count the ways:
    ============================================
    Smokey, don’t fall for it.
    It’s just the latest liberal app.
    They are just following their latest drone marching orders.
    Encourage them to do more, to everyone else it makes them look
    either ignorant or like little drones……

  44. My ride on lawnmower was converted to battery power last summer. It cost $0.24 to mow my lawn ( 3+ hours). The electricity replaced $4.00Cdn of gasoline.
    For this summer, I made 45 volts of panels from ebay cells. I haven’t used mains electricity to mow since. The 5 -18 cell panels charge the 36 volt battery pack in a couple of days. I mow for about an hour and a quarter then recharge. In a week I have mowed my yard with free sunshine.
    I have ordered a Kei truck to convert to battery. New solar panels are about half done. 126 volts of solar (252 cells) should charge 8 -12 volt batteries enough to get into yhe nearest village, an d the nearest beer store once a week free. Any week that I only take a vehicle out of the yard once is my kind of week. I suceed about half the time.
    (8 volts is important because my wind turbine produces 98 volts. The truck battery pack will be incorporated in the household system as an extra emegency supply.

  45. Marge says:
    September 12, 2010 at 5:25 am

    It has been said that Obama is the worst president since Jimmy Carter, perhaps now in the eyes of 350.org supporters, he’s “worse than we thought”.
    Anyone who says that must have been sleeping during the terms of George W. Bush. Two recessions, devastating attacks on our soil, a mess in Afghanistan, unnecessary invasion and bungled occupation of Iraq, global banking meltdown, virtually no net job creation………and someone thinks Carter (or Obama) was bad, in comparison?

    guess you missed this post:http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/09/09/another-hockey-stick-meanwhile-the-death-of-light-bulbs/
    unemployment dropped during “W”s term. Then Pelosi/Reid took over congress. be ready for another jump in unemployment when the tax breaks expire.

  46. I have a hunch that as soon as more people get off the taxed grid, the powers that be will tax the hell outa the free stuff we are using now.

  47. My house was built in Carter’s 1977 and it has some stupid features unique to that era (e.g. electric radiant ceiling heating). I have a solar assist hot water system. This is a isolated heat exchange system. Propylene glycol is circulated through 2 large solar panels on the roof via a small pump. There is a heat exchange unit with another small pump connecting potable water to the electric water heater. It works OK but it is expensive and a pain in the neck to service and maintain (which, as it turns out, is pretty much an annual event). Many homes in this area of about the same vintage had these gadgets on their roofs. Most of them have been removed because people grew weary of paying plumbers.
    I have a couple PV panels on my roof, too. One 10 watt unit keeps a deep cycle battery in the garage charged up. A larger, 55 watt panel keeps a glass pack deep cycle battery charged ostensibly to power my ham radio equipment in the event of an emergency. Power outages in this area are not as uncommon as they should be. The 55 watt panel, charge controller, battery and misc. wiring and supplies set me back about $600 (and now I have to replace the battery). Solar was fun to play with but is mostly impractical unless you invest some big bucks in it. Then you hope and pray for a pay-off before you have to replace the PV panels.
    Finally I got smart. For about $250 I bought a portable 1,500 watt generator. It’s a lot easier keeping a couple of 6 gallon cans of gas around.

  48. Right now, the cost of “installation” is outrageous. The cost of the actual panels are getting down into the $1.00/watt, range. It won’t be too awful long before a 3 Megawatt plant like the one nofreewind is describing will come in in the range of $3.5 Million. At that point it’s a whole new ball game.
    Probably within ten years we’ll have Tens of Thousands of young guys with electrician’s licenses driving around in pickup trucks with “solar installed – cheap” signs on the door.
    Right now, we’re just paying for the “initiation.”

  49. Just to clarify for our non-U.S. readers. Although G.W. Bush was President until 2008, Congress changed hands in 2006 to become controlled by the Democrats. A fact liberal Democrats often forget to mention when they speak of “inheriting a bad economy”. The usual consequences of a Congress controlled by the Democrats is that investors and big business start to cut back investing and growth knowing all too well that their taxes are going up and more distribution of wealth policies on on their way. Fortunately our Founding Fathers made sure we have congressional elections every two years.

  50. Anyone who says that must have been sleeping during the terms of George W. Bush. Two recessions, devastating attacks on our soil, a mess in Afghanistan, unnecessary invasion and bungled occupation of Iraq, global banking meltdown, virtually no net job creation………and someone thinks Carter (or Obama) was bad, in comparison?
    …and tell me again how Obama could be worse than Bush? Two wars, tax cuts for the only the richest in the country, and an economy in the tank because Bush let Wall Street ruin the economy…what was that about Obama again?

    Maybe because Dubya really couldn’t be trusted without adult supervision… i.e., the real ‘Decider’, Dick Cheney.
    Former Republican United States Senator from Texas Phil Gramm / Graham (disambiguation)
    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phil_Gramm?wasRedirected=true
    http://www.google.com/m?q=foreclosure+Phil+Gramm
    http://www.google.com/m?q=phil+graham+derivatives&ei=Hqh6TLjnD6DENMqEjrIC&ved=0CB8Q1QIoAQ
    In all fairness, that should read: a former democrat and a former republican with a new career as a lobbyist for the financial industry, Phil Gramm.
    Benedict Arnold? Anybody?

  51. Tom in Florida says:
    September 12, 2010 at 10:58 am
    Just to clarify for our non-U.S. readers. Although G.W. Bush was President until 2008, Congress changed hands in 2006 to become controlled by the Democrats. A fact liberal Democrats often forget to mention when they speak of “inheriting a bad economy”.
    =================================================
    Tom they do the same thing when talking about Clinton.
    Clinton, just like our president now, botched up his first two years so badly,
    republicans took over both houses.
    With republicans running the show, and also first in line to take any blame,
    Clinton, being the political prostitute he is, played along.

  52. It isn’t just the solar panels …

    Noticeably absent from President Obama’s latest economic-stimulus package are any further attempts to create jobs through “green” energy projects, reflecting a year in which the administration’s original, loudly trumpeted efforts proved largely unfruitful.
    The long delays typical with environmentally friendly projects – combined with reports of green stimulus funds being used to create jobs in China and other countries, rather than in the U.S. – appear to have killed the administration’s appetite for pushing green projects as an economic cure.

  53. John McManus says:
    “My ride on lawnmower was converted to battery power last summer. It cost $0.24 to mow my lawn ( 3+ hours). The electricity replaced $4.00Cdn of gasoline. ”
    It doesn’t look like you have factored in the cost of your electric motor(s), The batteries, which I assume are Pb-Acid and won’t last forever, or the man hours involved with engineering and executing the conversion of your lawm tractor. Doesn’t seem like a cost effective proposition for the average Joe. Also you better hope you have enough sunny days or your lawn will soon be overgrown.

  54. Incredible how many posts are ranting on about “solar” without have read enough of the article to realise that Carter’s panels were for hot water. As others have pointed out solar water heaters are about 4x more efficient that PV electricity.
    Solar PV with high feed in tarifs and tax credits is more to do with boosting the banking sector and promoting loans. Economy not ecology.
    PV needs billion dollar plant investment and hi-tech factories. Solar hot water panels you can make in your shed.
    Exchangers from old air-con units make very efficient absorbers. I made myself a solar collector panel three years back from scrap. It cost me about 100 euro-bucks.
    It provides me with hot water 9 months of the year, then I use gas when it’s not quite hot enough. In the summer I also use it for the washing machine and save on power there too.

  55. We looked at solar water heating for our home and the payback period was the same as the life expectancy of the installation. So we decided to leave it for now.

  56. Justa Joe
    Perhaps you aren’t factoring in the $1300 a riding mower costs . My conversion using an old frame was less than half that.
    The batteries were cycled out of a Freightliner sleeper cab. The recycling centre charged me @$6. So far they have done my lawn for 2 years. So $9 per summer so far. There is no indication that they won’t do more, I just don’t know yet.
    All engineering was done by me. There are lots of people who could do it and have done it.
    I use the electric mower to pull 7 1/2 cords of wood into my basement for the winter. Little noise and no exhaust is nice.
    Perhaps you didn’t read the part where I said that I mowed each and every week this summer on solar power.

  57. How about this: rather than try and create electricty by other means, start learning to live without it. Human civilization had been around for thousands and thousands of years without it. For example, have you seen the photos of Earth from space at night? Do we really need all that light all the time?

  58. Anthony, I read your article, and I think it needs a “reality check” update. “…at peak you can expect a 15% solar to electricity power conversion efficiency.” O RLY?
    Also:
    “There are state and federal tax credits for any solar installation which when figured in with rebates, can make the project quite attractive, and in some cases, a very low cost.”
    The caveat for getting credits seems to be “qualified installations.” Solar can look attractive as DIY, you can make your own photo-voltaic panels, perhaps even do your own off-grid electrical installation. It’s about the same for solar heating. But soon requirements for permits, inspections, factory-made panels and equipment, licensed contractors, and certified installers can creep in, at higher costs that virtually mandate obtaining financing which many can’t afford or even get, especially with the current housing market. “Any” is not the truth these days. To try to get those rebates and tax credits, you can easily spend more than they are worth by having other people do the work rather than yourself, and not that many can afford to have someone else do it at all.
    “To achieve this, your home or business has to outfitted with a TOU Meter, so that PG&E can track when you use power. Then when you connect a solar power system to that, it will log when you are generating power during midday peak times, and when you are drawing power during off-peak times. The trick is to generate exactly enough power to result in a net-zero energy use, because PG&E does not pay you back for any excess power generated.”
    Is this still the same out there? Here in Pennsylvania the electric companies MUST buy your excess. Our local utility PPL has switched to “not-smart not-dumb” meters that can “phone home” your monthly usage, so no more meter readers except for spot checks, and I don’t see why they couldn’t be used to take readings at approximately the daily off-peak on-peak transition times except for data processing limitations at PPL’s end. (These are different from the proposed “SMART!” meters that will FORCE you to use power as the company wants by limiting the supply.)
    However after investigating PPL’s demands before you can hook up to their systems and sell them power (page, FAQ pdf), I’ve determined the best solution is either going off-grid completely with generator backup, or using your utility connection only for a backup battery charger.
    There are some perfectly valid safety considerations involved, namely that the electric company can always and easily shut off your connection without pulling the meter since when they’re working on the high voltage lines any current you send out will feed through the transformer and can kill someone working on those presumed-dead HV lines.
    Given that perfectly-legitimate consideration, and that your outgoing power must match the profile of the incoming power, and all the extra burdens with the legalese that gets tacked on, I cannot see how grid-tie really makes sense. Having your own batteries and a non-grid-tied system seems the logical choice.

  59. I think some people here could stand to read this book.
    http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~altemey/
    In particular the “every right thinking person must hate Obama” attitude on display here is pretty much straight out of the book. A moment of thought should reveal that in fact lots of people don’t hate Obama. Indeed a majority clearly preferred him to the other guy which is how come he got elected.

  60. Might not even be to do with solar – but instead a case of not preventing the guards on the roof with the MANPADs from getting to the appropriate places on the roof to get their best (and probably final) shot.

  61. From: Ian H on September 12, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    A moment of thought should reveal that in fact lots of people don’t hate Obama. Indeed a majority clearly preferred him to the other guy which is how come he got elected.

    Hate is the other side of the coin from love, and denotes a high level of concern about a person or an object. The opposite from those is indifference. People increasingly just don’t care about him and his policies, and simply want him gone.
    Obama was elected because he was such a good mirror. With such a small track record to mention, and what there was not mentioned much, with an airy call for Change and promising to do things that were seen as calls for decent people to help those in need, voters saw someone much like themselves, one of their own, indeed many saw themselves when looking at The Candidate, saw themselves assuming power and taking control of their lives away from the powerful. And now…

  62. David L
    Please feel free to be our guest. Do post here on how you get on. You could also try going without modern medicine, walk or ride a horse for transport and eat only locally grown food without benefit of modern synthetic fertilizers or herbicides and insecticides. Go for it! Let us know!

  63. Mike McMillan said on September 12, 2010 at 4:33 pm:

    He should use them to charge the anti-aircraft battery on the White House roof.

    At the least, some of those solar-charged walkway lights so the snipers can see better at night.

  64. Brad says:
    September 12, 2010 at 6:04 am
    …and tell me again how Obama could be worse than Bush? …..and an economy in the tank because Bush let Wall Street ruin the economy…what was that about Obama again?
    __________________________________________________
    Brad you have the wrong president. It was Clinton not Bush.
    Clinton repealed the Glass-Steagall Act which had prevented the coupling of investment banking and lending by signing into law the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. It allowed commercial and investment banks to consolidate. Economist Robert Kuttner said the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act contributed to the 2007 subprime mortgage financial crisis. The Community Reinvestment Act, enacted in 1977 under Jimmy Carter, forced banks to downgrade the quality of their mortgage portfolios by making mortgage initiators lower credit standards to less qualified borrowers in poorer communities. The act was expanded further during Bill Clinton’s presidency, creating a higher percentage and a larger pool of subprime mortgages.
    The second major mess by Clinton was signing the World Trade Organization Act. Now the WTO writes many of our laws under the guise of “harmonization” with the threat of trade sanctions if we do not comply. It encouraged the export of US jobs overseas while opening our borders to substandard and dangerous food, medicine and other products.
    The birds Clinton let loose are now coming home to roost. Clinton was President from 1993 to 2001. Statistics showed in 1990, before WTO was ratified by Clinton, Foreign ownership of U.S. assets amounted to 33% of U.S. GDP. By 2002, just after he left office this had increased to over 70% of U.S. GDP. source: http://www.fame.org/HTM/greg%20Pickup%201%2010%2003%20report.htm
    Given those statistics one could state that Clinton sold the USA to foreigners…. “

  65. Contrary to what some anti-Obama bloggers might think, Obama’s job ratings have remained pretty steady at about 46% approval for some time now. Higher than Ronald Reagan’s at the same point in his presidency, so no need to go back to Carter for a comparison, and of course nowhere near the lows in the 20s that GWB sustained.
    Can’t say the same for congressional Democrats, but even they are ranked higher than congressional GOP. The coming election doesn’t look good for Dems, but it’s NOT a reflection on Obama or his job performance, or his job ratings would be much, much lower.
    I still can’t grasp the irrationality of the politics on this site on Obama. If he does something “green” he gets bashed for that, if he does something against the greens, he gets bashed for that. If he pushes for cap’n trade, he gets bashed for that, if he turns his back on cap’n trade he gets bashed for that. If he were to give in to these 350.com people, he’d be bashed for that, and if he doesn’t, he gets bashed anyway. Is there any logic to this behavior at all? If you bash him regardless of what he does, what incentive does that give him to do what you want him to do? Why not actually praise him when once in a while he does something you approve of (like right now, for not giving in to the pressures of a purely symbolic act of putting useless PV on the white house roof)?
    You’d think people here were irrationally driven by something other than science or even policy.

  66. John McManus says:
    “The batteries were cycled out of a Freightliner sleeper cab. The recycling centre charged me @$6. So far they have done my lawn for 2 years. So $9 per summer so far. There is no indication that they won’t do more, I just don’t know yet.”
    “Perhaps you aren’t factoring in the $1300 a riding mower costs . My conversion using an old frame was less than half that.”
    ————————————————————
    I actually considered the cost for a riding motor, but discounted it as a push because it would always be cheaper to restore a gasoline powered riding motor to it’s original state than it would to convert it to an electric. The typical cost for 36v batteries with the capacity to operate a riding lawn tractor would be quite expensive. You say that you can obtain such batterie(s), which are still good, for the price of the core charge of a typical 12v automotive battery. Putting 3 12v automotive batteries in series wouldn’t provide enough capacity for this application.
    You have not stated the origin of electric motor(s) that you used or cost of said motors. Retrofitting an electrical motor, which wasn’t designed for said tractor, installing the huge battery, and setting up a 36v charging system is quite the technical feat. 36v chargers aren’t cheap either. In my plant I have a 48v charger for the electric forklift (am I green?). It runs on 240v 3 phase. It would be quite the feat to get that baby to charge something for $ .24.
    Anyway the stated conversion costs were half of $1300. That cost has to be pro-rated over each lawn cutting. In the biz we say that the considerable higher cost of an electric forklift versus an LP truck is because you by your fuel up-front.

  67. nofreewind says:
    September 12, 2010 at 7:53 am
    Here is the bottom line. 30 miles from my house there is a 3 MW solar project being built for 18 million dollars……
    ______________________________
    Perhaps they should consider this instead for the additional cost of $7 million.
    John Deal, the Hyperion CEO, says that such micro nuclear reactors should cost about $25 million each. In the U.S., where people spent more energy than in other parts of the world, such a reactor should be able to deliver power to only 10,000 households, for a cost of $2,500 per home. But in developing nations, one HPM could provide enough power for 60,000 homes or more, for a cost of less than $400. This is quite reasonable if you agree with Hyperion, which states that the energy from its HPMs will cost about 10 cents/watt…Hyperion power modules are about the size of a “hot tub” — approximately 1.5 meters wide..”
    http://www.zdnet.com/blog/emergingtech/a-micro-nuclear-reactor-in-your-garden/1089
    Toshiba is going for US government approval of their mini nuclear plant.
    http://peswiki.com/index.php/Directory:Toshiba%27s_Home_Nuclear_Fusion_Reactor

  68. Aww Gail, Gail, Gail, it jus’ t’ ain’t so.
    Time to examine the bill from Congress that helped to recreate the toxic trusts of the Roaring Twenties:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gramm-Leach-Bliley_Act
    The bills were introduced in the Senate by Phil Gramm (R-TX) and in the House of Representatives by James Leach (R-IA) and Thomas Bliley (R-VA). The bills were passed by a 54-44 vote largely along party lines with Republican support in the Senate and by a 343-86 vote in the House of Representatives. Nov 4, 1999: After passing both the Senate and House the bill was moved to a conference committee to work out the differences between the Senate and House versions. Democrats agreed to support the bill only after Republicans agreed to strengthen provisions of the Community Reinvestment Act and address certain privacy concerns.
    The final bipartisan bill resolving the differences was passed in the Senate and was signed into law by President Bill Clinton on November 12, 1999.
    The banking industry had been seeking the repeal of Glass-Steagall since at least the 1980s. In 1987 the Congressional Research Service prepared a report which explored the case for preserving Glass-Steagall and the case against preserving the act.
    Many of the largest banks, brokerages, and insurance companies desired the Act at the time. The justification was that individuals usually put more money into investments when the economy is doing well, but they put most of their money into savings accounts when the economy turns bad. With the new Act, they would be able to do both ‘savings’ and ‘investment’ at the same financial institution, which would be able to do well in both good and bad economic times.
    _________________________________
    The Gramm-Leach bill was a 100% GOP affair. Many commentators on the right would like to make this affair Bill Clinton’s responsibility. The bipartisan nature of the vote for this bill definitely puts a lot of responsibility on both parties. But the initiative for the impetus behind this and the bankruptcy bill lies within the GOP. A number of Democrats desired this, too. But nearly the entire GOP desperately wanted these bills.
    For example, in the Senate, only one Democrat voted for the bill. All Republicans but 2 voted for it. Only one of the two didn’t vote at all, the other voted ‘Present.’ 79% of the House voted because of the addition of provisions that would encourage these new-fangled financial institutions to lend to inner city neighborhoods. The House alterations to this terrible bill gave the GOP a veto-proof majority.
    Clinton, in turn, signed this. Interestingly, all but 3 NY Representatives supported this bill. Half of the Texas delegation voted against it. The number of Republicans against the bill, in contrast to the Senate vote that was 100% behind the Senate version, was due to anger over the inclusion of the easing of lending to inner cities. A common thread in our history is the frowns over spending money on our inner cities!
    To review this matter and look more closely at the machinery that destroyed US banking from top to bottom, we should look closely at this bill:
    Gramm-Leach-Bliley Financial Services Modernization Act
    http://banking.senate.gov/conf/grmleach.htm
    TITLE I — FACILITATING AFFILIATION AMONG BANKS, SECURITIES FIRMS, AND INSURANCE COMPANIES
    Repeals the restrictions on banks affiliating with securities firms contained in sections 20 and 32 of the Glass-Steagall Act.
    Creates a new “financial holding company” under section 4 of the Bank Holding Company Act.
    Such holding company can engage in a statutorily provided list of financial activities, including insurance and securities underwriting and agency activities, merchant banking and insurance company portfolio investment activities. Activities that are “complementary” to financial activities also are authorized. The nonfinancial activities of firms predominantly engaged in financial activities (at least 85% financial) are grandfathered for at least 10 years, with a possibility for a five year extension.
    The Federal Reserve may not permit a company to form a financial holding company if any of its insured depository institution subsidiaries are not well capitalized and well managed, or did not receive at least a satisfactory rating in their most recent CRA exam.
    For more:
    I think she put it together pretty well…
    http://elainemeinelsupkis.typepad.com/ezmoneymatters/2008/09/understanding-t.html
    Hey, I would like to be a staunch republican again, but I’m simply not that dumb. They (Dixiecrats)burned down the house!
    I cannot stand the democrats in charge there now either.
    My memory works pretty well. I do recall Bush claiming credit for the record numbers of home owners and first time home ownership.
    I also remember him saying he would cut the sky-high deficit by 1/2 before he left office. Hmmm?

  69. Clinton’s presidency was the best Republican presidency they could buy, or steal thru intimidation. Stop with the expanding WTO crap, Richard Milhous Nixon was the one that changed up so much of our trade agreements and went to China and adorned them with preferred trading status.
    [snip]
    Don’t you see? Neither party is worth plonkers right now. They just pit one against the other and smoke screen what’s actually going down.

  70. Re: my previous comment

    [the comment you were responding to has been snipped by a moderator, so this one is also, thank you]

    Nah, thank you. It was best to get rid of it, as well as mine which had traces of it. Just good decontamination procedure.

  71. Gail Combs says:
    September 12, 2010 at 5:20 pm
    Brad says:
    September 12, 2010 at 6:04 am
    …and tell me again how Obama could be worse than Bush? …..and an economy in the tank because Bush let Wall Street ruin the economy…what was that about Obama again?
    __________________________________________________
    Gail responds: “Brad you have the wrong president. It was Clinton not Bush….[etc]
    What Gail didn’t mention is that starting later in the Clinton era the “Government Sponsered Entities”, Freddie Mac and Fanny Mae, began to buy up large quantities of “bad paper” – which they pretended was good paper, aided also by a self-serving Economic Model which said there was a negligable chance of collapse when its inevitability was instead virtually assured – thus essentially creating a Massive Market For Bad Paper and a Bad Paper Real Estate Bubble, backed as though the Bad Paper was Government Bonds, which it had to be, since the Gov’t was sponsering the further sale of Bad Paper Packages by Freddie and Fannie to investors at large.
    The obvious solution for the on-the-ground loan originators – who were also plagued by threats of prosecution even by the Justice Dep’t for “redlining” minorities, as well as inflammatory bad-for-business demonstrations by grouips such as ACORN, and the related extortions by ACORN – was simply to “lend money to everybody”, because the originators could then quickly unload the bad paper to Freddie and Fanny [Thomas Sowell, and also obvious otherwise] So they did just that.
    The CEO’s of Freddie and Fanny could also reap large “performance bonuses” from this practice because they could borrow money from the Federal Reserve at its “discount counter” rates, while claiming the bad loans would return money at a good margin. So they did.
    Democrat cronies such as Franklin Raines, Roger Mudd’s son, and the omnipresent Jamie Gorelick escaped clean and clear with large “performance bonuses”. Maybe some Republican cronies did, too, but so far I haven’t heard about them.
    The House and Senate Banking Oversight Committees, featuring Chairmans Barney Frank and Chris Dodd starting after the 2008 elections, claimed that everthing was hunkie-dorrey in spite of attempts by people such as Buch and McCain to warn of disaster – but which anyone with an honest brain should have already known. [I even did, but I didn’t know that Freddie and Fanny were actually creating this Massive Market For Bad Paper because I hadn’t paid any attention to the schema which “encouraged” some iffy loans, after hearing about it briefly in the news in ~ 1998, and I’d assumed no one would be stupid enough to try it on a massive level. But they did.
    What has Obama done to rival this chicanery? Well, he’s in turn created a Massive Federal Debt Bubble, with accumulations of debt at an ongoing ~$1.5 trillion/yr., which makes Bush’s unacceptable over-spending look like he’s downright miserly. Simply follow the money to whomever benefits most from Obama’s targeted “stimuli” to find out who his chosen winners are. But it certainly ain’t gonna be America or the vast majority of its current and future taxpayers, the chosen losers.

  72. pedex:
    Want alternatives to compete and have a chance? ok, then remove all the subsidies with the several industries that heavily involve petroleum and see what happens once the massive market distortions are removed.
    pedex, for maximally undistorted markets don’t forget to remove all the taxes on the several industries, too, which nearly always significantly exceed the “subsidies”/deductions in the case of the evil Oil Companies, and don’t forget to eliminate the seperate State and Federal windfall gasoline sales taxes, too, which here in Oregon totalled around 42cents/gal. last time I looked, regardless of the price per gallon, and which equated to a much balleyhooed “excessive” ~10% profit to Exxon over one particular quarter of about 40cents/gal. at an overall price of around $4/gal..
    “Reduce Gov’t induced distortions and ripoffs!” Including “Carbon Taxes”. Watch the economy boom and the standard of living increase, as solar and wind energy atrophy – naturally.

  73. Ed Murphy says:
    September 12, 2010 at 8:42 pm
    “Aww Gail, Gail, Gail, it jus’ t’ ain’t so…”
    True Ed, yet Bush did try to constrain Barney Frank as well as Chriss Dodd and their lending policy, which, more then the repeal of Glass-Steagall, created the crisis.
    Janet Reno (under Clinton) instigated 15 major law suits forcing the banks to make more andm more risky loans, under federal threat. Obama himself led one law suit claiming red linning, later shown to be false.
    Fannie Mae, a Gov sponsored enterprize, led the way creating the highly leveraged Securitized Mortgage Packages which all major banks around the world eventually followed. It is the Gov responability to regulate finance and banking. Dems have been in charge of this for a very long time, which is why they recieve such heavy contributions from wall street. [ isn’t this way off topic . . mod]

  74. Found in: david on September 13, 2010 at 12:50 am

    [ isn’t this way off topic . . mod]

    I believe it is agreed there is fault on both sides, by both action and inaction. For precisely apportioning the shares of the blame, there are other sites. For holding those responsible accountable, the November elections are coming soon. Let’s get back to the topic.

  75. kadaka:
    “Having your own batteries”
    There’s the rub when going off-grid: energy storage. Have you looked at the realities of purchasing and maintaining a bank of 50 lead-acid batteries where each battery has a realistic service life of 3-5 years? You can’t use cores purchased from recycling plants. When someone replaces a lead-acid battery it’s almost always because it’s been reduced to less than 20% of its original charge capacity which is where the average driver starts to experience times when his car won’t start.
    I spent a hundred hours or so last year looking at economical ways to lower my energy bill. Given I live in sunny south central Texas these were mostly focused on somehow harvesting solar power but I also have several acres of trees which provide 10-20 tons of excess wood every year so I also looked at syngas generators.
    Nothing ended up making economical sense for generating my own power with electricity being delivered to me on demand at a total cost of $0.13/kwh. What came the closest without taking up an inordinate amount of time in maintaining the system en was owner-installed photovoltaics with a grid-tie. Unfortunately to qualify for the various financial incentive (subsidies) the system can’t be owner-installed and the jacked-up cost of qualified installation more than negates the financial subsidies. Near as I can tell the subsidies only benefit the sellers. Also unfortunately the cost of grid-tie equipment is prohibitively expensive for reasons I can only guess at but in the least cynical light I’d guess it’s a simple matter of economy of scale or more specifically a lack of economy of scale. So I decided to wait a few more years before looking at it again in the hope that economy of scale would drive down the price of a grid-tie.
    In the meantime I found the best course of action is to be proactive about using less energy rather than trying to get your energy at a lower cost.

  76. Mike Borgelt says:
    September 12, 2010 at 4:42 pm
    David L
    Please feel free to be our guest. Do post here on how you get on. You could also try going without modern medicine, walk or ride a horse for transport and eat only locally grown food without benefit of modern synthetic fertilizers or herbicides and insecticides. Go for it! Let us know!
    I live near Amish people. They can show you how to live with less electricity. My electric bill is $35 per month. If you really are interested to reduce your electrical consumption I’d be glad to tell you. Here’s a start: reel mower, candles, broom and rake (not leaf blower), hand sickle and scythe, hand hedge clippers, solar water heater….etc. Would you like to sign up for the advanced course?

  77. David, your comment is excellent. In my childhood years, my siblings and I were assigned garden scythe duty in areas around the house and barn overrun by tall grass. It was not by choice. The second something electrical or gas operated came along, and we could afford it, we bought it.
    By the way, anything the Amish export to an amount greater than their roadside food/product stand, you can bet electricity and gas are used somewhere along the way from their hands to the wholesale buyer. The Amish roll around space heater is a case in point. It runs on…electricity.
    Since this is an election year and the post was originally about Obama’s decision regarding solar panels, AND since I voted for him, this next go around I promise I will vote for anyone running for the CDIPF party.

  78. Justajoe:
    The motor is an Etek $400 delivered from ebay. The mounting plate is a piece of 1/8 steel with a lot of holes drilled in a circle and the edge filed smooth. Cost $5. The driveshaft adapter is a $10 weld on hub from an agricultural parts store. Cheap and easy.
    The batteries are 3 12 volt dual purpose Freightliner’s. 36 volts gives lots of power at 2800 rpm. I can cut heavy grass for over an hour on a charge.
    Before I made the solar panels, I used a 30 year old Lester 36 volt golf cart charger. An hours mowing takes 2 1/4 hours charging ( there are heat and line losses) and provides power for over an hour of mowing. The sun does the same thing for free with no losses but takes 2 days.
    The electric mower is cheap, easy , effective and efficient. My old MTD is just a pain in the ass. I haven’t bothered to get it running after its little tantrum last summer.

  79. While not a fan of Obama, he at least contributed some of the stimulus to upgrading the electrical grid. I am a big fan of energy conservation, I’m just skeptical of the CAGW crowd that has changed it’s focus to CO2 or fight!

  80. vickyyouvi said on September 13, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    wind generator
    A vertical turbine picks up wind from all directions. Magnetic suspension minimises frictional drag. Large mass maximises the flywheel effect.

    What’s that got to do with your link, that goes to a maker of normal lightweight-construction bird choppers?

  81. RE: Main Article:
    “It has been said that Obama is the worst president since Jimmy Carter…”
    How soon people forget: It seems not so long ago they were saying George W. Bush was the worst president ever, perhaps even including James Buchanan who traditionally received that appellation for not preventing the secession that lead to the Civil War.

  82. Brad says:
    “…and tell me again how Obama could be worse than Bush?”
    OK, let me count the ways:
    What has this patently biased and moronic photo shop criticism of the American President got to do with a scientific website?

  83. Where are the moderators when you need them?
    If all the overtly political (i.e. party political”) comments had been snipped (as they should have been) this might (just possibly) have become a sensible thread about the value of solar panels and other so-called “renewable energy” policies.
    Back to the article; How much ghg was produced for the “bio-diesel van” to drive across the country?

  84. For better or for worse, this appears to have been introduced as a political topic by the title “Oh, that’s gotta hurt – Obama denies solar panels” and the text in main article…

  85. Obama is worse than Carter. Carter had an excuse. He was an outsider and pissed off congress. Obama does not have that excuse, so he merely pissed off a large majority of Americans.

  86. Anthony,
    I have enjoyed the reporting, commentary, and insights from WUWT for nearly three years. Sadly, you have drifted once again into partisan political commentary here. It is too bad that the global warming debate is almost exclusively determined by the left-right political divide, and it is too bad that you choose to reinforce that state of affairs. The world doesn’t need another political blog (conservative or otherwise). Suggest you stick to the science and policy debate and leave the Obama bashing to Rush and Glenn.

  87. “”” Gareth Phillips says:
    September 12, 2010 at 1:07 am “””
    Well Gareth; you are free to speak you piece. But a part of the whole climate and energy science issues is intimately (wish it wasn’t) connected to Politics.
    So it is certainly legitimate to bring up such issues as this thread does. You (and anybody else) can tell what the subject is pretty much from the title; and if it doesn’t do anything for you; just pass on by to something you want to get your teeth into.
    Frankly; the degree to which this particular administration has injected their own personal philosophical beliefs into the science issues of climate and energy, is without precedent in my experience (which is only 50 years of American politics.
    In case you haven’t noticed; quite a number of Anthony’s threads have taken off like a lead balloon. Those that deserve it, die a mercifully short death agony. I can’t think of a single one though that I wish Anthony had not posted; so the threads are self governing.
    Some of them have more energy than Steven Chu’s whole damn department; and that is the way it should be.
    I’m not a US citizen; so this close to election time, I have to bite my tongue; since that privilege is not mine to have (or responsibility to exercise either). but these preferrably science issues have been forced into the political arena; and this is an appropriate venue to alert readers who may have an interest.
    It’s like a radio station; there’s always a dial to tune to another station (or thread).

  88. “”” wind turbine says:
    September 14, 2010 at 9:57 am
    wind generator
    A vertical turbine picks up wind from all directions. Magnetic suspension minimises frictional drag. Large mass maximises the flywheel effect. “”””
    Vertical wind turbines have one fatal problem; vertical wind shear. If you happened to be an Americas Cup sailing enthusiast; or any kind of sailing enthusiast, you may have noticed how the main sails on AC class boats have become more like the sails on a Chinese Junk; with a big flat square top, instead of a point. That is to put more sail area up top, where the wind speeds are much higher than at the deck level.
    And in wind turbine land; the power generated goes as the cube of wind speed; so the vertical increase in wind speed collects a lot more power.
    Verticals have another advantage; namely that for the very same reason (vertical wind shear) they don’t shake themsleves to pieces because of the permqanent built in vibration driver due to the top blade generating more thrust than the bottom blade.
    Tehy had Verticals on the hills over the Tehatchapee Pass in California, going in to Mojave; but they have taken them all out because theys imply don’t generate as much power, and becasue of the ground turbulence, they generally need to be wider spaced that the conventional ones. Either way there are problems. I think vertical would be simply great to put on top of tall buildings; but no way are the green whackos going to tolerate a windmill spoiling the view (of the hills)

  89. The problem I see is that even for a relatively easy installation on an ordinary modern house, the initial cost of the energy PV systems provide is prohibitively expensive for most budgets. Typical payback periods can be in the 20 yr range, maybe 10 with subsidies (rough guesses), for just an ordinary modern house in a location sunnier than DC.
    If they were to be built for, and installed on the White House, the cost would be many times greater than for the ordinary house, making it unlikely any benefit would ever be derived from them. Heck, just the energy consumed to produce and install them might never get replenished.
    I applaud Obama for doing something right for the environment..
    BWD

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