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Solar so far so so

August 9, 2008

An interesting quote from the AustinEV (off topic) discussion on solar. Bruce J from Madison WI has an array that cost $13k to install. Like my EV, it’s not a profit center. His says he did it “because it is SOMETHING. And if *everybody* does *something* then great things will happen.”

Solar is Austin is subsidized by the local power company, but still have very long pay back. California has demand (time-of-day) billing so their solar arrays produce power at peak (3 x $). Since home use is mainly off-peak, the California arrays can reduce utility bills dramatically.

The big problem with solar for US homes is that WE USE TOO MUCH POWER to make an array practical.  An off-the-grid array is either really expensive, requires a life style change, or uninvented technology.  I don’t think that it makes sense to turn roof-tops into solar farms because most individuals are not equipped to maintain them.   Parking lots, however, could be excellent solar sites!

Developing countries like Africa are a stark contrast to the US.  Their current power demand is near zero.  A tiny solar array can make a life changing difference.  For example, the BOGO light initiative sends solar LED flashlights to Africa and allows people there to have lights on a night.  THEY ARE SO POOR – THEY DON”T HAVE LIGHTS AT NIGHT.   They don’t care about air conditioning, dryers, or plasma TVs.  In these places, solar is a huge wind fall.

Buy One, Give On (BoGo) Light

Buy One, Give On (BoGo) Light

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