Tag Archives: solar power

How Viable Is Solar Power?

Since I’m posting on nuclear power, I think it makes sense to post about the alternatives. The big reason there’s such a push for nuclear power is that too many people think the less polluting alternatives aren’t viable. I think they are, although I recognize that it’s going to take a long time before they’re in sufficiently common use.

Solar power in particular has improved in recent years. Panels with a lower cost per watt have been developed, as low as $1 per watt, although they’re not yet in common use. There are even solar roof shingles, so you don’t have to have to put up separate panels.

It’s not all about putting solar panels on houses, for example. Back in the 1980s there was some interesting work on a solar power tower that could generate electricity even at night and on cloudy days.

More big box businesses have realized that solar power is affordable enough for them to put panels up on their roofs – a great use for the space, I think. Solar power has come a long way to be seen as a reasonable investment for businesses to make for powering their stores.

Can Solar Power Take You Off the Grid?

Many people see solar power as a way to get off the grid. It’s a lovely goal, but not absolutely necessary. You may prefer to remain connected so that when you aren’t generating enough power on your panels, you still get electricity from the grid.

You can, of course, have your panels charge batteries so that you don’t need to be connected to the grid. It’s an added expense to the system, but not impossible, and is a great choice if you’re not close enough to be easily connected to the grid anyhow.

But Doesn’t Solar Power Need Subsidies to Be Economically Viable?

Many people say that solar power isn’t viable because it takes subsidies from the government to make it worth anyone’s while. That’s close enough to true, but it’s not the whole picture. Nuclear power gets subsidies. Oil companies get subsidies. Why is it so unreasonable for solar and other renewable energy sources to get subsidies as well?

Consider also that in California there are companies right now willing to install solar power systems on homes for free, and then charge the homeowners for the the electricity generated. The idea is that the homeowner will get a steady rate even if electricity prices go up (or down, that’s the gamble, unlikely as down may seem). These companies aren’t doing that out of the goodness of their hearts. They expect to make a profit while doing something good for the environment.

What About the Environmental Impact of Solar Panel Materials?

There is absolutely an environmental impact to the manufacture and disposal of solar panels. Just as with any other material, we have to mine for many of the supplies. We mine for coal, pump oil from underground, and mine for uranium too.

The wonderful part about solar panels is that significant parts of the panels can be recycled. They won’t just end up in the landfill, or have to be stored safely away for generations. They can be taken apart and made into new things.

How Long Until Solar Power Is More Common?

There’s the big question. What’s it going to take for solar power to become more commonly used, so that more people can see that it is viable?

I can’t say exactly, but I believe the time is coming. Cleco Company in Louisiana is testing solar panels there now, as well as other renewable energy technologies. The U.S. Government has a Solar Energy Technologies Program which focuses on developing solar technologies. The viability of solar power is being reviewed in Pennsylvania (PDF) as well.

Overall, progress is being made, and solar power is becoming steadily more practical. If you have the budget and a place to install solar panels, it’s worth researching to see what benefit you can get in your area.

Do Green Energy eBooks Really Deliver?

There are a number of ebooks on Clickbank and other places that talk about ways you can generate energy at home. They sound pretty good, but if you take a closer look, they have a lot of problems. The biggest problem is that they don’t deliver exactly what you’re hoping for.

Solar, Wind, Magnetic?

There are a few products out there, going on about how you can generate enough energy to run your entire home on solar, wind or magnetic energy for cheap. Matter of fact, you can build it yourself at a reasonable cost!

These schemes work well because we all want to save money on our power bills. Make it sound cheap and easy to do it in a green way, and people will go for it. They even include plans for building the product and tips on how to get parts for cheap.

Let’s start with solar. You can’t make your own solar cells. You can buy old solar cells and connect them, but they aren’t going to be good enough for what is claimed, and may not be safe to run.

Good quality solar cells are expensive, although the situation is looking better with thin film solar. You need professional installation to make sure the installation is done safely. You aren’t going to be allowed to connect your system to the grid if you don’t have a safe product correctly installed.

Wind sounds easy, but have you ever looked at a wind farm? Those towers are tall for a reason, and the blades are very long. This is necessary to generate a reasonable amount of power.

As for magnetic, they’re blinding you with terminology to hide the fact that they’re promoting a perpetual motion device. It will not keep working on its own.

Are these products good for anything?

Well, they might make interesting science fair projects for kids, but I wouldn’t be hooking the result up to my home. They also provide some reasonable tips on saving energy in your home, but you can probably find that elsewhere.

If it were really so easy to make systems that generate energy for homes, there would be entrepreneurs all over the place making these and selling them. Don’t believe in schemes to keep these things hidden. If these things are so simple, it would just take an enterprising soul to buy the books, start building the systems and home and selling them for massive profits that are still less than you’d pay for the real thing.

I’d love for green energy to be cheap and affordable. It’s not yet, and that’s the reality. We need to support the real green energy solutions so that they can be improved and made cheaper over time.

Solar Powered Gift Ideas

Solar power has been improving and become more accessible of late. In fact, solar powered items can make great gifts.

Solar powered lights for the garden are of course quite popular. So much easier than wiring up outdoor lights. They can be decorative, light up a garden path, or even be used as security lights.

Or there are solar chargers for cell phones. I like the ones for rechargeable batteries too.

These little panels may not seem like much, but I see them as a way to get people used to solar power and learning that it can work well.