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View Diary: Energy - some good news (for once) (237 comments)

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  •  Tell me about it (none)
    Photovoltaics -- solar panels -- get this rap a lot. I've heard more than a few ill-informed people assert that it takes more energy to produce solar panels than they produce during their lifetime, which is not only untrue a little untrue, but actually way off the mark.

    I became interested in photovoltaics when I was researching "boondocking" -- living in an RV without a hookup for extended periods. Solar panels can be rather pricey, though if you can afford an RV, the panels are a drop in the bucket. I can't afford an RV, but I ended up looking into using solar panels and batteries in my late grandmother's house, and it looks both feasible and cost-effective. (Caveat: I use neither air-conditioning nor a dishwasher, and I do my laundry at the laundromat. If you can't do without these, you can't live off-grid.) Depending on your lifestyle and what you can or can't do without, it's a great way to unilaterally break the stranglehold of the energy companies.

    For anyone who's interested, Backwoods Solar is a good place to start looking. (I'm not affiliated with them, other than being a satisfied customer.)

    Support Our Troops: Send the Commander-in-Chief to the Front!

    by eodell on Mon Apr 04, 2005 at 01:21:29 PM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  Net-energy issues re PV (none)
      > people assert that it takes more energy to produce solar panels than they produce during their lifetime

      I've heard a lot of back-and-forth about this, but haven't had much luck finding corroborating sources online. Do you have any links? TIA

    •  Green Schools (none)
      My hometown just built a new "green" high school.

      One of the main features of the school is the photovoltaic cells that run the length of the south side of the school. Expensive at first, the cells will eventually allow energy to be sold back to the local energy company for a profit.

      More and more schools should be looking into these alternative energy sources and we should be the ones bringing them to the table. The faster we get our communities involved with the alternative energy movement, the faster we'll see the death-grip our culture has on non-renewable energy sources start to loosen.

      The New Deal is dead. We're getting the Raw Deal, instead.

      by Ghidra99 on Mon Apr 04, 2005 at 03:04:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Not for long (none)
      Advances in nanotechnology are propelling photovoltaic efficiencies up and production costs down at lightning speed.  

      Nanosolar and Konarka are at the forefront.  Both are developing flexible plastic solar cells manufactured using cheap continuous printing/self-assembly techniques.  Apparently Nanosolar has prototypes that have efficiencies of over 12% (comparable to amorphous silicon) and would cost about $30 a square meter.  They would pay for themselves, energy-wise, in about 3 weeks, and would produce energy for about $0.05 per kilowatt-hour.  Apparently they should last about 25 years.  Konarka is pushing 10%, and can actually print designs on the cells or even make them translucent.  

      I'm fairly confident that developments in quantum dot or nanotube based cells will ultimately push efficiency beyond 30%.   So yes, in less than five years solar energy really will be cheaper than fossil fuels.  You'll be able to pick up panels at wal-mart, and have your roof re-shingled with cheap photovoltaic panels.  This is doubly good since distributed rooftop generation would take a large load off our overburdened transmission systems.  

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