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This PSA was written and designed by Ed Hill and produced by me back in 1991 for the Boston Area Solar Energy Association.  Perhaps people are more willing to hear this message now but, after thirty years promoting solar, I'll believe that when I see it.

Previous entries in this series:
Solar PSA:  Solar History
Solar PSA:  One Square Foot of Sunlight

Originally posted to gmoke on Fri Feb 16, 2007 at 08:17 PM PST.


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Comment Preferences

  •  Housing design is a great use of solar energy (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ...taking advantage of light and shade.

    Production of PV cells is a messy toxic business but they are really good for very-small-scale generation. My calculator has used one for many years, for example.

    Solar thermal takes a bit of room but is a decent power-generation option, given plenty of money.

    •  Solar (0+ / 0-)

      PV is probably no more toxic than the production of silicon computer chips.  That is not to minimize the toxicity but to put it into perspective.  Few folks ever talk about the pollution that computer production entails.

      Solar thermal does not have to take a lot of money but it does take planning and knowledge (and a good solar contractor).  Check with your local solar energy association to find out how.

      Solar is civil defense. Video of my small scale solar experiments at

      by gmoke on Fri Feb 16, 2007 at 09:26:57 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Ah, but compare the amount of chips in (0+ / 0-)

        the computers, TVs, video games, cell phones, and appliances, in a house to the area needed for useful PV generation.

        I doubt there's more than a half square meter of Si in all the electronic in a house plus the automobiles associated with it. But a half square meter of PV gives only a few hundred watts of electric power, maybe enough to run the computer or TV at best.

        At end of life PV has less nasties to worry about recycling, and so should have less impact than consumer electronics. Given their design it may even be practical to use the silicon in PV as raw feedstock on the way to producing new semiconductors.

        •  "the area needed for useful PV generation" (0+ / 0-)

          I work with small scale solar myself, from button batteries to one window/one room solar electric systems.  But then I'm a minimalist.

          Videos here

          Solar is civil defense. Video of my small scale solar experiments at

          by gmoke on Sat Feb 17, 2007 at 09:17:25 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  What is often left out of discussions like this (0+ / 0-)

    is acknowledgement of the "moon rocks are free" fallacy. Solar is far from free, or merely "falling from the sky"). It takes a serious capital investment to capture and concentrate solar in a form that can displace other energy sources. It will happen as the cost of those other sources rises, or in some cases as the cost of externalities is incorporated in the price of those other sources.

    "There is no 'policy' regarding a crime except to stop it." -- Dave925

    by RudiB on Fri Feb 16, 2007 at 09:01:28 PM PST

    •  A South-Facing Window Is a Solar Collector (7+ / 0-)

      Solar thermal is very simple:
      dark absorbs
      light reflects
      clear keeps off the wind

      Solar is civil defense. Video of my small scale solar experiments at

      by gmoke on Fri Feb 16, 2007 at 09:22:27 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  And home heating doesn't need concentrated (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        solar, nor high quality energy. Thermal mass plus windows or heat absorbers goes a long ways to heating a house in much of the country.

        Unfortunately many existing homes in the US do not have large south facing windows, and may not have useful southern exposure. In my neighborhood the extending of houses upwards has resulted in many of the homes not receiving sunlight Fall through Spring; only the roofs get direct sunlight during that time. Solar collection off the roof is more complex and costly, especially when it is a two or three story house plus basement. And remodeling or rebuilding houses to work as solar may expend more resources than it saves.

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