hell yeah, i got the highest grade on my last environmental science test! yup. that was me. that 58/60… me.

of course, i’m noticing this nearly a month after he posted the grades.

let’s see how the rest of the semester goes….

Does anyone know anything about solar? i’m thinking about writing my term paper on solar power and basically “Why the f**k aren’t we all using solar? we live on a planet that is POWERED BY THE SUN for f**ks sake! “….. i repeat. A PLANET. THAT IS.. POWERED. BY. THE. SUN.

…or something along those lines. if you know anything, anything at all; can direct me to a good resource; have personal experience with solar; have thought about solar and all the reasons you can/can’t/won’t/would-like-to ect. i would like to know what your government* is doing in regards to solar. post a comment below and let me know what you think.

you like that? like how i throw in homework WHILE blogging? (while i’m supposed to be doing homework)

here’s a tasty treat just for reading this far.


4 Responses

  1. the problem is efficiency current technology is 5-14% efficient. e.i. it takes a lot of area for not much power. here is a good article with some technical references. http://www.solarserver.de/wissen/photovoltaik-e.html
    Also there is the problem of manufacturing cost as well as how toxic the process is. but other than that, its totally the way to go!

  2. Hi
    Check out this site about solar http://www.ausra.com/


  3. Hey Tamara,

    All ya gotta do is ask…you know this is what I DO after all.
    The first resource I would recommend is http://www.findsolar.com. The FAQ section of this site is extensive. That should get you started.
    Cool fact? The “solar constant” is the average amount of solar radiation that hits Earth’s atmosphere, which is 1366 watts per square meter. You’re right – we’re a planet powered by the sun. Worried about the grid going down? Sometimes, Ever worry about the sun coming up? From my experience, it’s pretty safe to say it comes up EVERY DAY.
    The most common reason that people decide to swicth to powering thier home with solar, ( and you could have guessed), is financial.
    Currently, it costs about 20-35k on average to have a solar power system designed, sourced and installed on your home. There are three states in the US that offer a state-wide solar rebate – California, New York and Connecticut. California offers a solar rebate through the California Solar Initiative. if you live in PG&E, SoCalEdison, or San Diego Gas/Electric territories, you can enjoy a 20% rebate back on the cost of the system. Most of the larger solar companies will often “float” this rebate – meaning they will take the rebate off of the up-front cost, and accept the rebate as final payment. PG&E and SoCalEdison both have tiered utility rate structures, (meaning basicially that the more energy you use, the more expensive it becomes per kilowatt hour) which can have a tremendous benefit in terms of the return on the investment for a lot of folks, because it often makes more sense to design a system that will eliminate the top tiers (most expensive) of one’s energy usage, but not the entire bill. This can bring a return on a solar investment to around 7 years! As of 1/08, it became mandatory for all municipal utilities in CA, (such as SMUD), to also offer a rebate for solar, as well.
    Connecticut offers a 40% rebate on the cost of solar power system, and New York also offers a 40% rebate in addition to a one-time, 25% State Income Tax Credit, which is capped at $5k. You may be thinking, “Why dio they get a big fat rebate and CA only get’s 20%?” That’s because electricity is sooo much cheaper per kWh in these two states, that in order to bring the ROI to an attractive 10 years, they needed to be more aggresive with the rebate to offset the cost of investing in solar.
    On the Federal side, there is a one time Federal Income Tax Credit of $2k. If one qualifies for AMT (Alt. Min Tax), then they can not take advantage of the tax credit. This tax credit will also be expiring at the end of ’08 despite pressure from the solar industry to extend it in the Energy Bill that was voted on last Dec.
    So about that Energy bill…there were provisions contained within this bill to extend the FTC (Fed. Tax Credit) another eight years, and also an increase the FTC from $2k, to $1,500 per half kW of solar installed. That would have been $3k per kW (If you consider the fact that an average system size is 3-5 kW, then you can do the math on what kind of tax credit this could have been!). There was also a provision to eliminate the restriction of the tax credit to people who qualify for the AMT (so that if one did qualify for the AMT, then one could still enjoy the FTC.) Were these provisions to have passed, they would have created an enormous boost to the solar industry – creating tons of green collar jobs, along with countless other benefits. The House passed the Energy Bill with the aforementioned provisions. However, it was killed in the Senate. Why? Because the money that would have been used to fund the renewables provision would have come from a tiny slice taken out of the 18 billion in tax subsidies that, (you could probably guess again here) large oil companies have historically enjoyed without threat. So the oil industry lobbied the hell out of every Senator in thier pocket, and the renewable provisions were stripped from the Energy Bill last minute, and then Mr. Bush patted himself on the back for actually SIGNING the Energy Bill. Since that has happened, the extension of the FTC has been brought back to the table by the House, defeated yet again in the Senate. The battle hasn’t stopped there. There is a piece of legislation, (and you should call your Senator TODAY), called the Cantwell-Ensign bill that needs 61 cosponsors to ensure it’s passage. It would extend the FTC and remove the cap of $2k. If the Senate Finance Committee can find another way to fund this bill without dipping into oil subsidies, then it might pass. I’m not holding my breath, but I’m not losing hope!
    Say you want solar – you want it right now. It is ideal to have an unobstructed, south facing roofspace in order to maximize your solar production. The ROI on the system becomes attractive (about 7-10 yrs) if you are spending over $100 per month on electricity. Most panel manufacturers warranty thier panels for 25 years, If the system pays for itself in 7-10 years, then you are looking at 15+ years of free electricity. if you consider the fact that on average people pay about $2,400 per year in energy costs, you save a grip on money – like $300k +!! What if you are not planning on staying in your home for seven or more years? According to the Chicago Appraisal institute, you can calculate how much solars add to the value of your home by multiplying the amount that you save in energy costs in the first year by 20. So if you save $1k in energy costs in the first year of upgrading to solar, that is $20k in value that you have added to your home. Solar is different then other home improvements, such as a kitchen remodel, in that it begins paying for itself immediately. If you remodel your kitchen, you see the ROI when you sell the house.
    What’s on the horizon for solar? Well, there are many technologies that are still in thier infancy, but very promising. There is thin film solar, which currently has the efficiency ratings that another commenter mentioned, around 10% efficiency. (Most photvoltaic panels have a rated effciency or around 15-17%, SunPower panels are rated at 22%, I believe). And what I mean by efficiency is the actual percentage of power converted (from absorbed light to electrical energy) and collected. A whole lot of Venture Capital is currently being thrown into companies that are developing more efficient panels. There is a lot of info floating around on the internet about such things – CNet.com usually keeps up to date on news regarding these types of technologies. People often ask me, “Should I wait until some new technology comes along?” My answer is that PV is a tried and true technology that has been around for 50+ years. Why wait and keep paying your utility company whatever rate they choose to charge, when you could be purchasing your own power plant on your house. Has the fact that a new iPod is released every six weeks (I’m exaggerating a LITTLE here) kept people from buying iPods? How about Prius’s…because there are more fuel efficient cars then the Prius on the horizon, should you just keep paying as much as you have been at the pump when you could be paying less now? Shit, lease it! And you can do the same with solar. Major companies are now offering something called a Power Purchase Agreement. Another conmpany owns the panels on your roof, and charges you a cheaper rate for electricity then your utility, and maintains the panels. So what if you don’t have 30k! You can still have solar, you can still save $$. There is no reason, other then living in the trees or ridiculously cheap electric bills, to not go solar!
    There you have it. My two cents. I’m always available to answer any questios, and it would be a pleasure to help you with your project – just let me know.
    Your new garden pics are lovely. I especially like the before and after. XXOO

  4. […] can check out my other post on the topic here. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Solid energy buys Canterbury BiodieselHealing the […]

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