2 Responses to “The First Solar Neighborhood in NC”


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  1. Ben,

    I would love to see a case study on how they perform today.

    • Dr. Ben


      Look out – here comes a sermon!

      To your comment – So would I. Funds to support such things are nonexistent. With the demise of government support for alternative energy programs in the mid ’80s, the infrastructure for maintaining the systems disappeared as well as consumer understanding. As the houses rolled over to new owners, and one would need a new roof, the roofer didn’t know that the shingles under the collectors were in perfect condition, being protected from the elements, so he would advise the owner to have the system removed. When a pump or dT controller would wear out, the owner would scrap the system because he didn’t know what to do.

      One of the problems in the USA is that we have no rational energy program. It is a patchwork quilt of various programs, with expiration dates and variable funding. The rest of the world is much smarter than we are, maybe because they haven’t been “spoiled” by abundant and cheap energy sources. We see rules mandating alternative energies throughout Europe and Asia, with permanent government incentives.

      The coal, oil, gas, and nuclear lobbies (including the power companies) in the US have had their special interest legislation in place for 60, 70? plus years, and don’t want solar power to intrude on their benefits.

      There are expiration dates on the various credits and incentives for solar, but none for the conventional energy guys. Their lobbyists claim that if solar were any good, they wouldn’t need incentive programs. We say we agree, so lets remove all the legislative benefits from the energy companies and level the playing field.

      The problem with the above arguments is that they focus only on the cost of various energy sources and ignore the environmental, pollution, health, and global climate change effects of our current energy systems. The dollar rules.

      We must move away from fossil fuels for many reasons including the environmental ones stated above. It will not be overnight, and the existing energy companies will have a big role to play for a long time. But, they panic at the thought that solar and other alternative technologies will put them out of business next year.

      We are finally phasing out coal as an energy source, after 100+ years of ruining the environment with mining techniques, and fouling the air with the pollutants spewed out. A Saudi oil minister is quoted as saying, “the stone age didn’t end for lack of stone”. The same is true for the coal age, the oil age, and the nuclear age.

      We have now seen the extreme danger of nuclear power gone wrong. My opinion is that humans are not smart enough to harness this tiger, regardless of good intentions, and that very large tragedies, like Chernobyl, Fukashima, Three Mile Island (almost), and many others we haven’t heard about, are looming around the corner. Duke energy owns a damaged, decommissioned nuclear plant in Florida that they are going to take 70 years to clean up. Why? Because they have calculated that it will take 70yrs for the radiation level to fall to the point where is it economically reasonable to clean it up.

      Natural gas is enjoying an upsurge right now, due to a dramatic increase in fracking, but with potentially dire environmental consequences for many regions.

      Conventional energy sources will not go away, but our dependence on them should be reduced drastically as we go forward. Solar energy is one of many ways that we can remix our energy sources for long term sustainability.

      I don’t see our government being brave enough to establish a rational energy program any time soon. I wish I was wrong.

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