Published: Monday, Dec. 26 2011 12:00 a.m. MST
"We are developing solar energy for roughly $3 per watt total and selling
the energy to the utility at rates cheaper than it costs them to generate it
using imported petroleum."That pretty much says it all. The
situation described is one essentially off-the-grid, using imports of the most
expensive fossil fuel. For US mainland applications where reliable, abundant
baseload electrical energy is needed 24/7, solar power will remain a very
expensive alternative for the forseeable future.
Thank you for adding honesty to this discussion. I can only imagine where we
would be if we had not taken our eye off the ball some 35 years ago, besides
there is more to it than dollars and cents. Our health is one reason.
Re: "To solve our country's energy woes, both sides of this debate must
work together."Hear, hear!It's refreshing to hear
someone whose economic health depends on "green" energy admit that,
"We must allow for further fossil fuel development . . . ."It's interesting to hear that solar may be an economic [daytime] alternative
in the highest-energy-cost state in the union, though it's only so because of
tax incentives, that liberal class-warfare tactics continue to place at risk.But, it's not the case here -- yet.During the 50-year window
we have before intersection of the ascending fossil-fuel economic curve and the
descending "green-power" economic curve, this type of cooperative,
collaborative attitude could lead to sanity, reasonable development strategies,
and, most importantly, defeat of radical greenies' -- and President Obama's --
"necessarily skyrocket" fuel-price contrivance.That'd be a
win for us all.
Let's not kid ourselves - we invaded Iraq because of oil. Iraq had zero to do
with 9/11, and everything to do with middle-eastern oil. The Bush administration
even claimed that Iraqi oil would pay for the cost of the war.That
war cost us the lives of over 4,000 soldiers and three trillion dollars.If that cost showed up on your power bill and on the pump at the gas
station when you fill-up, then solar power would look like an amazing
bargain.We'll be burning oil and gas for decades, but we've got to
get serious about developing and using alternatives.
Thanks for adding rational thinking to the discussion. It's distressing for some
to have facts obliterate the prejudices against solar energy.
Anyone who believes in solar energy can order all necessary parts and pieces to
construct solar panels easily via the Internet. They can put a few solar panels
on their roof. They can put the necessary batteries in their garage or
basement. They can build or buy the necessary inverters. They don't have to
wait for someone else to do it for them.Those who believe that it is
a good thing, either for the environment, or as a substitute for fossil fuels
could have their own off-grid power production in place within a week's time.
But they won't.They will just continue to tell us what
WE need to do. They will NEVER put their money where their mouth is. It's so
much easier to make demands on others than to do it themselves.
"They will just continue to tell us what WE need to do. They will NEVER put
their money where their mouth is. It's so much easier to make demands on others
than to do it themselves."If this were true, then our dear
letter writer wouldn't have a job installing these things.Since
they're being installed, the letter writer has a job. Since this letter writer
has a job, your theory based on cynical opinion and anecdotal data is completely
debunked. Lets rely on the facts, shall we?Happy
@mike richards. Can you order all the parts off the internet to construct a coal
fired power plant? No.I doubt most people have expertise to install
a 200 amp main that is being fed from the utility and they probably can't
install a solar panel and all of its components. So in the end most
people can not do any electrical installations. So what is your point? To bash
Maverick and Shaun_,You made my point. You passed the buck.My neighbor, who is in his 90s, installed a solar system when he was in
his 80s (with the help of his sons). His entire electricity needs are filled by
solar energy, except on those rare occasions when something breaks.A
relative in northern Utah operates his home with solar energy supplemented by
"water energy" produced from a small steam near his home.They did everything themselves. They didn't pass the buck. They didn't wait
for someone else to make things affordable or convenient. They ordered all
parts and pieces from the Internet. They got the required permits. They hired
help when licensed help was required.In other words, they are DOERS
not talkers.The letter writer is a DOER, but he has selected a prime
market where solar energy is viable. Solar energy is viable in Utah
for those who are willing to pay the price.This is not rocket
science. Anyone can go down to Radio Shack TODAY and get the parts to make an
experimental solar powered system. When they understand the principles, they
can order the "heavy duty" parts and pieces."Doer" or "talker"?
Mike Richards, there you go again accusing without having any facts. I have
installed solar panels on my house. The only talker I see on this
board is you. Talking, without having any facts. Accusing, without knowing
anything.For you, you shall have your reward.
Maverick,Since you have a solar powered system in place, would you
tell us what it costs you per kilowatt hour to run your refrigerator on your
system compared to running that refrigerator on the "grid"? Do the
same for each major appliance. Can you cook a turkey without turning off most
of the electrical appliances in your home, or do you cheat and use natural gas
for your cooking?My neighbor and my relative, who are
"off-grid", and who each have substantial systems, carefully monitor
each "light-bulb". They have to turn off one "light-bulb"
before turning on another. Most of us would think that carrying a
calculator around with us as we go from room to room to see what we have to turn
off before turning on a hair-dryer or the toaster, would be too much of a
"burden".How do you handle it? Or, are you just playing
with solar energy and not depending on it to take you off-grid? Are you just
talking about it or have you become "self-sufficient" and
"grid-free"?Does your family's health and safety depend on
your solar panels?
This solution is likely simplistic, but I can see a need for all energy sources.
We're hoping to someday install solar panels, and with our frequent winds at our
house, a windmill would also make sense. For the days there is no sun or wind,
we could us the backup resources of our local electricity plants (coal,
hydroelectric, etc.). We can't every community function like this?
With the right minds and resources applied, natural energy costs would come down
(remember how expensive and inaccessible computers were in the 70's?). The greatest benefit, however be for the poor, many of whom struggle to pay
utility bills. What if those bills were $10 or less each month because of their
solar panels and windmills?It seems remarkable to me that the earth
provides so many resources, yet we stubbornly insist on looking only at those
that are "traditional" or self-serving. We waste so much.
Those who don't work with electricity may think that adding a solar panel or two
and a windmill or two is an easy way to solve their electrical needs. Shaun
wrote about connecting a 200 Amp service panel to the system. That is the crux
of the issue. Our electrical needs are not trivial. A toaster
typically takes 1,000 watts. An oven takes about 4,000 watts. A
"typical" solar panel produces about 150 watts per square meter. Let's do the math. Running that oven would require 26 square meters of
solar panel - in full sunlight. Sorry, no late evening meals.Storing that electricity takes batteries and inverters. In effect, you
"save" electricity whenever the sun is shinning and then you
"spend" electricity" when you need to. As long as you
"save" more than you "spend", the system works.Gel-cells or lead-acid cells require maintenance and are costly. Inverters
don't last forever.The dream is here, but, until new and better
types of storage (batteries and inverters) become available, solar energy will
just be a "novelty" and will remain a weak imitation of fossil fuels.
I think a great many people, simply for the savings in fuel costs and the
prospects of actually being paid for excess energy by the electric company,
would like to have solar panels. I have heard, months ago, that you can do all
the installation yourself. This is a very attractive prospect because the
installation costs are prohibitive for most people.However I don't
believe that most of us have the confidence that we can do the job properly, to
coded, and safely, and perhaps have a suspicion that we would have to report it
as an improvement to the county who would then increase our property taxes for
Oh my goodness. I think that some of the posters are telling us that we need to
let our children go barefoot so that we can "do the right thing" and
get our electricity from the sun.Every family has basic needs. I am
a mother so I know about feeding a family and cooking for that family. I know
how many loads of washing have to be done and I know how long the drier has to
work to dry those clothes. In my neighborhood we cannot even have a clothesline
in the backyard. It must offend some people to see clothes hanging out to
dry.We cannot burn our trash, so we send twice as much as we should
to the dump to be buried. Has anyone calculated how much more fuel (and
pollution is caused by those huge garbage trucks) compared to us burning some of
our trash?The mindset is wrong. Priorities are wrong. Too many people are too quick to "whip" us into shape without having
a clue about what the real problem is. They regulate our activities and make it
impossible for each of us to find the right solution for ourselves.
Solar Power is $3.00 per watt installed? If that is really so, I will take
$2,000 watts please. Are there really contractors here in Utah that will do
it?Given the cost of coal in air pollution, the cost of natural gas
in water pollution and the cost of oil in wars and preparation for wars, solar
at $3.00 per watt is cheap.
cjb,You've got a deal. To run your oven will cost you
$12,000 in solar panels at $3.00 per watt. You'll probably want to run a few
light bulbs and maybe a heater or air-conditioner at the same time, so you'll
need to double that investment to $24,000, give or take, depending on your
personal requirements. Since that is not a one-time investment,
you'll need to repeat that purchase every few years when the parts and pieces
need replacing.How many people can spend $24,000 every three or four
years for solar panels and accessories?We have oil enough in Utah to
meet the nation's needs for years to come, yet we spend $2 BILLION a day on the
military and another $1 BILLION a day on oil imports. We could save
at least one-third of that by using our own Utah oil.Solar may be
usable someday, but that day is not today.
A valuable letter. Oil took a long time to develop and there was a lot of
government support, including overthrowing other governments. Alternate energy
has never enjoyed such support.
JThompson: "We have oil enough in Utah to meet the nation's needs for years
to come..."Not by any stretch of the imagination is that
statement true. Here are the facts:Total US oil consumption is
about 19 million barrels per day.Total US oil production is less
than half that amount.Total oil production from Utah oil wells is
about 55,000 barrels per day, which is about 0.3% of total US oil
consumption.The only way you can get to the idea that Utah can
"meet the nation's needs" is if you buy into the fantasy of extracting
oil from Utah oil sands, which requires staggeringly huge amounts of water -
something we here in Utah have in short supply. You also have to be
willing to turn vast portions of Utah into a toxic waste dump, and contaminate
whatever water is left over. So much for agriculture.And even then,
any oil extracted from Utah oil sands will make gasoline at $4/gallon look like
"the good old days."The cost of obtaining oil from oil
sands deposits makes the cost of wind, solar, geothermal and conservation look
like the deal of the century.
Blue,Excellent hyperbole, but your facts are totally wrong.From the Deseret News, June 10, 2007:"Colorado and Utah have
as much oil as Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Venezuela, Nigeria, Kuwait, Libya,
Angola, Algeria, Indonesia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates
combined."Study up on oil extraction; it's not at all as you
describe. Take a trip out to eastern Utah and start counting the oil wells,
then ask ElPaso Gas how hard it was to extract that oil. Ask the people of
Vernal what happened to their economy when President Obama allowed the drilling
to stop. Ask Flying J what happened to their company when the drilling
stopped.The Lord gave us enough, and to spare. He didn't
shortchange us on energy. There is more than enough oil to go around and long
before it is gone, other less expensive ways to produce energy will crop up.That's the way things work. Have you priced a gallon of Whale Oil
lately? Gas and oil replaced whale oil. Something will replace gas and oil.
In the meantime, we have oil enough to spare.
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