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  #1  
Old 08-30-2011, 01:01 AM
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Power the country

As I was coming home in Austin I turned off I-35 onto 183 north. At the top of the flyover I looked down to the right and there was the roof of some Mega Mart store. The roof must have been at least 2 acres. Next came the roofs of a mega apartment complex and this went on for the 5 or 6 mile until I got home. I thought that if just half of these places had their roofs covered in solar panels they could cut the power demand during the day in half. Not only would the panels develop power but they would shade the roofs which in turn would cut down on the need for ac.

What would it take in this country to initiate this sort of a plan? I know that there is a huge hue and cry about the size of government and its involvement in our lives but a system of either tax credits or direct funding could put a noticeable dent not only in America's reliance on carbon based fuels but also take millions of tons of carbon out of the atmosphere.

How could America make this happen?

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Old 08-30-2011, 01:23 AM
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Ban coal mining, put a 200% tax on each barrel of oil. In short, rip the baby from the titty and force it to wean.
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Old 08-30-2011, 04:08 AM
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Yeah

That will be the ONLY way.

Declaring Lobbyists a "Legal" game species with an open season whenever
you can catch one in the light of day,would provide SOME relief.
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Old 08-30-2011, 04:25 AM
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Not sure if the tech is there yet. Although thanks to China (who builds the vast majority of these things AFAIK) the price on the panels has come down a bit in recent years.
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Old 08-30-2011, 04:25 AM
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Not sure if the tech is there yet. Although thanks to China (who builds the vast majority of these things AFAIK) the price on the panels has come down a bit in recent years.
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  #6  
Old 08-30-2011, 09:00 AM
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I dont think the tech is their either...yet.

Looking at us.sunpowercorp.com, their 17sq-ft photovoltaic panel makes 320w at maximum efficiency (daytime sunlight, clean etc...),

320w is like 1 desktop PC...without the monitor or printer.

To power a commercial building, we are looking at 10 or 20,000w, (including HVAC - this number may be off as I dont design a lot of commercial buildings) - so you'd need 1062 sq-ft of solar panel.
Okay, I can find a 100x10' stripe on the roof - we got that.
cost is around 1$ per watt for panels and 1$/watt of inverter. Not sure about batteries, but you are already looking at a $40k cost adder to the building (minus .gov incentives?) without a storage battery solution (without batteries- you only get power when the sun is shining. Batteries add complexity, maintenance (battery acid for cheaper batteries), risk (short circuit?) and take up real estate- they require their own battery room)
Also look at longer-term costs- PV panels are less resistant to Hail damage (though they are rated for such...) and batteries must be replaced every 4 to 10 years depending on how efficient you want them to run.

Its not impossible, but the money just isnt there. Even if they 'pay for themselves' in the long run (utilities are required to pay you for power you make, but not at an advantageous rate...) the upfront cost is just too much right now (without serious subsidies)

-John (not an Electrical engineer =) but I did stay at a Holiday Inn express last night =)
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Old 08-30-2011, 09:13 AM
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I heard on the radio the other day, and I may have the numbers a bit confused, but the general idea is correctly represented---
That in spite of if the massive government subsidies paid to the alternative fuel industry, that wind energy production accounts for 0.9% of the total US energy use, and solar accounts for 0.1% with much of that being heating of swimming pools.

The question than becomes, at this particular time of economic malaise, is this the best way to spend money on energy production? Remember, we are broke--or rather deep in debt because we already spend money we do not have.
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Old 08-30-2011, 09:42 AM
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I've got 40K sq.ft. of roof space in direct sunlight just begging for solar. It's just too cost prohibitive at the moment. A system to provide 50% of our peak need is upwards of $250K sans any subsidies or incentives. As the case with new technology, those prices should drop over time.

I'm generally opposed to artificial price controls, up or down. When it's a viable source (up for personal interpretation), folks will take advantage of it. I think it's the right thing to do and when it becomes economically feasible as a small business owner to do it (which for us is where the lines representing the interest in sustainability and ROI cross), we'll do it.

In the meantime I'm thinking of roof-top gardening.
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  #9  
Old 08-30-2011, 10:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MS Fowler View Post
The question than becomes, at this particular time of economic malaise, is this the best way to spend money on energy production? Remember, we are broke--or rather deep in debt because we already spend money we do not have.
So time to gain some revenue by taxing the antichrist out of fossil fuels
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  #10  
Old 08-30-2011, 10:37 AM
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Originally Posted by kip Foss View Post
Next came the roofs of a mega apartment complex and this went on for the 5 or 6 mile until I got home. I thought that if just half of these places had their roofs covered in solar panels they could cut the power demand during the day in half.

What would it take in this country to initiate this sort of a plan?
I agree. As I've said before why the hell every building in the south west is not covered in solar panels is a mystery to me. (well not really, you have suburb nazi's and other assorted dumbasses who winge and whine about it).

But the truth is it will take a new kind of Manhattan project to effect this chance. Fiddling with subsidies here and there wont cut it.

- Peter.
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  #11  
Old 08-30-2011, 10:38 AM
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And, in the meantime, Joe the factory worker (teacher, carpenter, etc.) pays $6-7/gallon to fill up his car...twice a week if not more.
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  #12  
Old 08-30-2011, 10:42 AM
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Originally Posted by crs82 View Post
And, in the meantime, Joe the factory worker (teacher, carpenter, etc.) pays $6-7/gallon to fill up his car...twice a week if not more.
Time for Joe to get a more efficient and/or electric vehicle when he replaces his or move closer to places he drives to. Tax increase shouldn't be phased in overnight, but over 10-15 years.
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Old 08-30-2011, 10:43 AM
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I am considering solar heat for the house and domestic water. Between electricity and oil I spend about $2k on heating, so the pay off would be just a few years. There's no way to financially justify solar electricity here in the NE.
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Old 08-30-2011, 11:36 AM
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And, in the meantime, Joe the factory worker (teacher, carpenter, etc.) pays $6-7/gallon to fill up his car...twice a week if not more.
Where you filling up?

I pay half of that.
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  #15  
Old 08-30-2011, 11:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MS Fowler View Post
Where you filling up?

I pay half of that.
Well, if we tax the snot out of oil, then Joe and Jane WILL be paying that. Good. Let them adapt, die, or eat cake.

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