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A new solar techology is coming out of the lab in Korea - not in America.  America is again missing its oppotunity to be an alternative energy leader, but at least someone is leading.

The photovoltaic technology does not use silicon to generate electricity.

Silicon solar panels cost

US$2.30 to generate one watt of electricity, which is three to 10 times higher than the production cost of thermal or hydro power. The new plastic solar cell costs just ten cents per watt.

$.10/watt.  Holy smoke!  Looks like the solar revolution is a few years away, at this rate, and it looks like Korea will be the beneficiaries of investing in the alternative technology.

If these hit the market by 2010 or 2012, do you think you would buy solar panels?

Originally posted to Prof Dave on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 09:03 PM PDT.

Poll

Solar energy:

26%185 votes
6%48 votes
39%272 votes
1%7 votes
14%99 votes
2%19 votes
0%4 votes
0%6 votes
6%48 votes

| 688 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

    •  Solar is already viable (26+ / 0-)

      despite what the shills will tell you.  

      "The military industrial complex not only controls our government, lock, stock and barrel, but they control our culture." - Mike Gravel

      by Wilberforce on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 09:04:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's Viable If You're Economically Comfortable (44+ / 0-)

        to wait for an investment to repay itself.

        Get down to the bare metal with cash flow and you can't finance it.

        We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

        by Gooserock on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 09:05:33 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I truly hope your're snarking (15+ / 0-)

          to be higher standards, so that people who can't afford to build a house the right way... just don't get to build a house in America anymore

          .

          If you mean that literally then let me know so I can tell you what I think.

          In the meantime its not new construction its old stock thats the problem with poor insulation.

          "every saint has a past, every sinner has a future" Oscar Wilde

          by buddabelly on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 09:13:45 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  if you are a homeowner (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          FishOutofWater, ReEnergizer

          with equity, it shouldn't be too bad.

          Pays for itself in 5-12 years.

          •  sure if someone wants to mortgage their house (6+ / 0-)

            just as we're heading into one of the worst housing markets and credit crunchs since the depression.

            Great idea if you can pay for the panels, lousy idea if using house to finance said panels.

            "every saint has a past, every sinner has a future" Oscar Wilde

            by buddabelly on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 09:19:04 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  not if there is a payback (7+ / 0-)

              people do the same thing all the time to update their kitchens....why is it a tougher sell to do it with something that will end up saving you money in the long run?

              •  not any more they wont be, the market is (4+ / 0-)

                drying up. Refi at this point is a lousy financial decision except to get out of a variable liar loan into a decent fixed rate and those rates are climbing and the window is tightning.

                Appraisal prices are dropping all over the country soon a sizeable percentage of homeowners will be upside down as their rates increase while their peoperty value drops.

                And anyone who takes on fresh variable rate debt at this point without having to is making a huge mistake imho.

                "every saint has a past, every sinner has a future" Oscar Wilde

                by buddabelly on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 09:26:46 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  because people are venal and stupid. (14+ / 0-)

                They'll spend $12,000 on a wall-sized TV, and $30,000 on an SUV, and then turn up their noses when asked to make an investment that might prevent their kids from inheriting a planet minus about 1/3 of its species and headed for a human dieoff numbered in the billions.  

                People with that mentality aren't any smarter than chimpanzees, and they are going to be darwinized during this century, and they'll deserve it.

                •  So much for the Party of the People (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  livy

                  Do you really have this much contempt for your fellow citizens, even those who may not be as enlightened as you are?  How do you propose to "darwinize" everyone who hasn't had the education and resources to learn how to live the way you think they should?  How about concentration camps?

                  Yet it is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set... -- Gandalf

                  by dnta on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 10:36:14 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  be nice to chimpanzees (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Fabian

                  People with that mentality aren't any smarter than chimpanzees, and they are going to be darwinized during this century, and they'll deserve it.

                  Chimps are pretty darn smart. How about, "are dumber than rocks"? Chimps can beat humans at some memorization tests. Heck, dogs can even learn human words by elimination.

                  I second your sentiment, though. A friend and I plan to have a good laugh at how unprepared most people will be for the dire consequences of their consumption. Jesus, I saw yet another Hummer the other day!

                •  You have a point. (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  JLongs, Spam Spam Bacon Spam, G2geek

                  People buy what makes them Feel Good and they can come up with all manner of 'reasons' why they need their next big purchase.  Decks?  Sun rooms?  New vehicle?  New furniture?  New clothes?  Sure, yup, uh-huh.  More credit card debt?  Yeah.  Vacation? Yes.

                  But something that will reduce your carbon footprint and take you a step closer to going off grid?  Oh!  Too expensive!

                  No more lies - IMPEACH!

                  by Fabian on Thu Jul 19, 2007 at 05:25:48 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Comfort junkies. (3+ / 0-)

                    That's the term I use for it, and I think we're all (with the exception of monks and straightedge kids) comfort junkies to some extent.  Americans, at least -- I can't speak for the rest of the world.

                    Almost all Americans will consistently make decisions that increase their ability to comfort themselves, even at the expense of long-term health or sustainability.

                    The obvious example is the poor people who eat lots of fast food and become grotesquely obese because of it.  With some thought, they could eat a healthy diet for the same amount of money or less, but they don't because damn that 1200 calories of meat cheese and mayonnaise is satisfying.  I'm not pointing fingers -- I have my own palliatives, and I know that a Big Mac is more pleasing on a visceral and immediate level than, say, rice and beans with pork.

                    •  "straightedge kids"? (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      scoff0165

                      Could you explain that?

                      Also, the fast food thing is a lot more complex than that. And, I'd like to remind you that poor people have far fewer actual choices than rich(er) people.

                      Happy the man and happy he alone--he who can call today his own ... John Dryden

                      by ohiolibrarian on Thu Jul 19, 2007 at 07:26:35 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Sure ... (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Fabian

                        It's a subculture that's pretty intricately tied to hardcore punk which, in my view, is all about asceticism.  In their words, it's more about rejecting drugs and alcohol, but the ones I've known have been pretty strongly against anything that suggests consumerism.  Wikipedia

                        And yes, I realize the fast food thing is a lot more complicated than that.  I was outlining one aspect of it.  And I'd like to remind you that EVERYBODY -- not just the rich(er) -- can choose to spend $10 on a bag of rice, a can of beans, a bulb of garlic, and a package of bacon, instead of spending it on 2 Big Macs.

                        The choices are there, but many of us fail to make them.  Yes, it is complicated.  But we do nobody any favors by pretending we don't have a choice.  We do.

                    •  great term! (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Fabian

                      comfort junkies....

                      that really says it all.

                      Impeach them already, for crying out loud! How many laws do they have to break?!?!

                      by netguyct on Thu Jul 19, 2007 at 07:54:57 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

            •  Yes we are headed for bad markets (0+ / 0-)

              but credit rates could get worse. As gas prices go up and inflation hits cheap energy isn't a bad investment.

              I figure if I'm paying a fixed rate but both prices and wages are going up and so are home values solar self sufficiency is on my list of tools and capabilities necessary for survival.

              Live Free or Die --- Investigate, Incarcerate

              by rktect on Thu Jul 19, 2007 at 06:37:06 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Install in stages (22+ / 0-)

            1 - buy the biggest inverter you can afford.

            2 - buy the solar panels you can afford and batteries to match.

            3 - If you can't do much (we have 2 panels, 4 batteries).

            Wire up those things that will work with what you can afford to run on whatever you install.  Maybe it's just the lights in the 2 most used rooms in the house, or just your computer, or something.

            Don't let the inability replace the entirety of your current energy consumption prevent you from doing what you can.

            On those days when there's a power outage, you'll wonder how you ever got along without the solar panels & batteries. And when most power sources become luxuriously expensive, you'll at least have some power.

            Beware the everyday brutality of the averted gaze.

            by mataliandy on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 09:55:57 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  i really am interested in the solar technology (0+ / 0-)

              but my hubby doesn't think we get enough light here for it.  i am wanting to do some research to see about the viability, though i know the cost is so exorbitant.  i do think it would be worth it in the end.

              •  Check your local utility (0+ / 0-)

                they will probably have some information on it, including whether they offer subsidies, etc.

                9/11 didn't change the Constitution!

                by Prof Dave on Thu Jul 19, 2007 at 07:10:03 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  We're in Vermont (5+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                melo, peggy, ejpoeta, PeaceBot, netguyct

                There aren't many places in the world that can't use solar. It's even used in Canada. Older panels from the 1970s and 80s were so inefficient that there really was a significant limitation on where they could be used. The newer ones can squeeze at least a smidge of power out even on cloudy days - not enough to power things, but enough to be nice to the batteries.

                The only real issue is how long it takes to pay back the purchase price. It can be a long time if you live far enough North and use enough power. However, the predictability it gives you on how much your energy will cost each month is an unheralded benefit. If you go entirely off the grid, your energy costs become a fixed cost, not variable, making it much easier to plan your budget.

                note: anyone going completely off the grid will want to have a backup generator for those extended cloudy periods. Anyone already on the grid will likely want to do a grid intertie.

                The most important thing when considering solar power is to go through every room in the house and carefully list everything you use that requires electricity, how much electricity it uses, and how long it's on per day. The more you can do to reduce your consumption before investing in solar, the more you can save on your solar investment. Things to do first:

                1 - One of the most wasteful uses of electricity is "standy mode" on many devices: computer monitor, stereo, tv, the clock on the microwave, even some coffee makers, and so on). These things each use a "little" power all day, every day. The little bits add up to big consumption over time - often enough to require an extra solar panel or two just so you can have those things start up in 3 seconds instead of 5. Plug every single one of those things into a switched outlet or a power strip and turn them off every single time they're not in use.  Also replace every possible light bulb with either a compact fluorescent or an LED light bulb.

                2 - Set up a clothesline, and wash or at least rinse with cold water. Use the clothes line whenever possible instead of the dryer. The clothes dryer is one of your largest electricity consumers, by far. The washer's heating element is also an electricity hog. If you have limited space, or live in an apartment, there are retractable clotheslines you can hang over the bathtub or in the shower. Even if you don't dry everything this way, hanging the heavy stuff - like towels or blankets - so they dry part way before you toss them in the dryer can dramatically cut down on dryer use.

                3 - If you have an old refrigerator, and can afford to do so, look into a new energy star refrigerator. Ditto for your clothes washer, and dishwasher. I strongly recommend using Canada's energy star ratings web site - their site tends to be more up-to-date than the US list, so you can find things that use even less energy than appear on the US list.

                4 - Air dry your dishes. You may get some "spots" on the dishes where droplets of water evaporated, but they are harmless. View them as a source of pride: you didn't just use your dishwasher as a gigantic, electricity-hogging, toaster for your dishes.

                5 - Don't leave lights on. If you've got landscape lighting, ask yourself if making the front of your house glow in the dark is really more important than the future survival of millions of children. If there's a tree you just love to look at or a flower bed that gives you great joy when viewed at night, remember that shining a light on it attracts the very insects that attack it. If you need lighting for security or visibility, there are small solar walkway lights and there are solar floodlights with motion sensors. Invest in those and leave the CO2 behind.

                6 - Do you NEED to use the hair dryer every day?  Or is it really just something you need for work days? As a person with horrible hair, it was a revelation to me that some days, I could get away with not drying my hair - just put it up and ignore it. This is a HUGE energy saver. Now I've learned new ways to style my hair and use the dryer only rarely. Do the same analysis for other small items that use a lot of power - electric razors, hair straighteners, the toaster, coffee grinder (can you handle coffee grounds that were ground yesterday and sealed well over night? If so, you can do 2 days at once, instead of once a day. Perhaps you can even do a whole week's worth at once, if you're not so taste-sensitive to notice. Or if you drink coffee all day, how about an air-tight carafe, with the whole day's supply in it, instead of keeping that little hot-plate on the coffee maker running all day).

                Do as many of these things as possible, keep it up for 2 months, then measure your consumption again (your electric bill will help, many list what you used last year in the same month). You will be stunned about how much you saved, and then when you price solar, you will be able to price out something much smaller - a big win all around.

                Beware the everyday brutality of the averted gaze.

                by mataliandy on Thu Jul 19, 2007 at 08:06:16 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Excellent comment and guidelines!!!!!! (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  mataliandy

                  Hey everyone, read what she said!

                  At first, it takes a real change in mindset to analyze absolutely everything you do from an energy perspective  ...  but once you do, it's impossible not to.

                  I loved this:

                  If you've got landscape lighting, ask yourself if making the front of your house glow in the dark is really more important than the future survival of millions of children. If there's a tree you just love to look at or a flower bed that gives you great joy when viewed at night, remember that shining a light on it attracts the very insects that attack it.

                  ....could not have said it better!

                  Impeach them already, for crying out loud! How many laws do they have to break?!?!

                  by netguyct on Thu Jul 19, 2007 at 08:22:25 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  thank you for this it's very helpful! (0+ / 0-)

                  we do have a lot of those standby things, i admit.  but we are doing some of the things you mentioned.  i have been trading out the lightbulbs i can.  i think one of the greatest benefits to this is not having to change them every week, as they blow out on a cycle it seems.  and we have cathedral ceilings, which sucks for changing lightbulbs.  but we have a lot of fixtures that we can't use the compact fluorescent bulbs in, so i am working on how i can change the fixtures to use the bulbs.  i will admit i have been lazy about the clothesline, but it's hard when the grass gets to be 2 feet tall or taller and the weeds are taking over (don't ask).  i think i will get some clothespins when i go shopping.  maybe get the hubby to move the clothesline to a better mowed area.  thanks for the great tips!!!

                  •  btw... i have been thinking of the solar lights (0+ / 0-)

                    outside, but if the lightening bugs are disappearing, i have to wonder if that lighting has anything to do with it.  we have LOTS of fireflies here, and I love them and want them to stay, so i probably won't be doing the landscape lighting.  :)  just something to consider.

            •  This... (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              mataliandy, Spam Spam Bacon Spam

              ...is a big plus for urban installations. If you
              put in enough capacity to run, say, the furnace,
              the refrigerator, stove igniters, and a few lights,
              it will definitely pay for itself during those pesky
              blackouts. With those circuits being grid-tied, then,
              anything you don't use or store in the batteries
              will be bought by the power company. Get enough
              people on your block to do the same, and...

              Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight.

              by JeffW on Thu Jul 19, 2007 at 06:28:18 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  With an +80 year old house (0+ / 0-)

            and a number of other systems in it (including some knob-and-tube wiring!!!) it is never as simple as all that.

            Just putting in a heat pump was a really interesting (and expensive) endeavour.  Well, actually the ducting was the challenge.

            I would expect the same to be true for an electrical system.

            Happy little moron, Lucky little man. I wish I was a moron, My God! Perhaps I am! -Spike Milligan

            by polecat on Thu Jul 19, 2007 at 08:12:55 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  In Oregon, 2x6's are required. (4+ / 0-)

          They have been for quite some time.

          The contractor who built my home said that it's that way in all the northern states.

          congratulations on your foreskin -- osteriser

          by bartman on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 09:57:17 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Great Comment! (3+ / 0-)

            And great news. A quick look at Oregon's code says that 2x4's are still allowed, but require higher value components elsewhere.

            So it's qualitative, and that sounds good enough to me.

            Oregon really is ahead of the rest of the US on the green stuff by about 25 years or so. More.

            Portland is a great city.

            Oregon pride!

            •  "You don't want to make that house too tight." (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              mmacdDE, scoff0165, crystal eyes, netguyct

              Been trying to figure out where to jam this in, so I guess here is good enough.

              Contractors are a big force against change.  My recent experience here in liberal VT was quite frustrating.  I had to push for every green and energy-saving measure, against resistance and even refusal.

              The line I grew to hate, spouted as gospel by every contractor, carpenter, plumber, and electrician:  "If you make the house too tight, you'll have problems."  No one seems to have heard of an air to air exchanger for bringing in fresh air, and worse, when I responded by telling them about it, they were not interested.

              "I guess I'm old-fashioned.  I like to build them the way my dad taught me."

              I was stunned by the inertia.  If my experience was at all representative, this is a huge obstacle to changing building methods.

              The only frame change that matters: the corporate media = propaganda machine. Americans must find their news elsewhere.

              by geomoo on Thu Jul 19, 2007 at 06:50:03 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  A family member just installed one of those (0+ / 0-)

                heat exchangers last week on a job.  He didn't know what it was at first and it was a bit complex to install.

                I really enjoyed the fact that a firm here in town is actually doing that kind of work.

                (Asheville, NC)

                Happy little moron, Lucky little man. I wish I was a moron, My God! Perhaps I am! -Spike Milligan

                by polecat on Thu Jul 19, 2007 at 08:10:04 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

        •  in California it's taking off... (11+ / 0-)

          I just installed expensive PBXs (telephone systems) for two solar companies in the same city, within a month of each other.  

          Telephones are like trucks: a predictor of economic trends.  Via my new installation activity I can see trends a few months to a year ahead of the point at which they come to the attention of the public.  

          So I think it's safe to say that these two installations are not a fluke but rather are a predictor of a trend.  Solar is going to take off like crazy, soon.

        •  Some things are more important than money (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          melo, JeffW, winchelenator

          Standing up and doing your part to make a better world is one.  If everything was easy then the word sacrifice would not exist.  

          Don't like XOM and OPEC? What have YOU done to reduce your oil consumption? Hot air does NOT constitute a renewable resource!

          by Asak on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 10:43:31 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Well... (19+ / 0-)

        I have solar panels that were heavily subsidized by Xcel energy and the feds, and even I would say the ROI is marginal.

        It is a lifestyle choice at this point, not a true investment in an ROI sense.

        I am happy I have them, but they are not the most efficient use of my money - but I am happy to have invested that money anyhow to reduce my footprint.

        9/11 didn't change the Constitution!

        by Prof Dave on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 09:06:37 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  The financial calculations are short-sighted (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        melo, JLongs, Prof Dave

        I take issue with the "pay back" calculations for insulation and alternative energies.  They do not take into account rising prices, peak oil, or social responsibility.  I compare it to calculations on the cost of nuclear power which ignore decommissioning and waste disposal over centuries.

        The only frame change that matters: the corporate media = propaganda machine. Americans must find their news elsewhere.

        by geomoo on Thu Jul 19, 2007 at 06:56:14 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Photo-voltaic conversion is still grossly (0+ / 0-)

        more expensive than "the grid" even if you take the cost over the entire expected life of the cells, plus of course, maintenance.
        The initial cash outlay alone makes the technology non-viable for practically all working americans...
        Unless they are willing to make a bad (financial) investment to get the environmentally conscious warm fuzzies.

        TFYQA - think For Yourself, Question Authority

        by Niniane on Thu Jul 19, 2007 at 07:03:36 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Depends upon the future cost of energy (0+ / 0-)

          doesn't it?

          But we're going to need non-crystaline Silicon PV to make this happen as there is a limited supply of silicon wafers and that can only grow INCREMENTALLY.  That alone will prevent price drops.

          Now, a non-crystaline silicon technology, a CHEAP non-crystaline silicon technology like this could be quite interesting, especially if it can last 20+ years.

          If ROI is on the order of 5-8 years and the equipment lasts productively for 20+, you've got a good investment.

          Happy little moron, Lucky little man. I wish I was a moron, My God! Perhaps I am! -Spike Milligan

          by polecat on Thu Jul 19, 2007 at 08:16:51 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Yup, can do solar heat now... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JLongs, buddabelly, netguyct

        even if it may be a while before solar electricity generation becomes commercially affordable.

        Do-it-yourself heating with scrap materials almost makes it crazy NOT to try it; the cost savings might pay for the more expensive solar power generation technology even at today's prices.

        •  replying here (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Rayne

          so I can find this comment later when I have time to read in-depth!

          KO sez..."All Hail the Prophetic Gut!" Also, Visit Scenic Buttercupia!

          by JLongs on Thu Jul 19, 2007 at 07:35:38 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Heh. Good one (0+ / 0-)

            I guess I haven't tried using comments as bookmarks.

            The link to the example I've shown is decent, but I can't find one to a gentleman in Canada who did this same thing to what was once a sliding door to a basement workshop.  He did quite a bit of testing during his implementation, making extensive notes of temperature variations as he made tweaks to his solar collector.  I know I tripped on it sometime during the last 3 years via WorldChanging.com, but I can't retrace my steps.  Would be worth trying to find it.

        •  nice link I use a small window version (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Rayne

          of the same type and can keep the room it's in at 80+ with no other heating when it's 45 outside. I want to try a solar hot water fueled whole house radiant heater for this winter if I can scrounge the parts.

          "every saint has a past, every sinner has a future" Oscar Wilde

          by buddabelly on Thu Jul 19, 2007 at 07:42:51 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Could this same solar collector work? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            buddabelly

            There's a couple of modifications I would have made to the collector in the link I provided; I would have lined the inside of the collector with ceramic tile, possibly an inexpensive quarry tile, painted black to hold heat longer.  

            But this might work as a radiant heat exchanger, too, if tubing were installed between the tiles and under the aluminum cans; the problem I see would be in cold climates, if only water were used as the exchange fluid.  Probably nothing further research wouldn't solve, eh?

            •  Would want to use an ethylene glycol (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Rayne

              mixture as it will also hold heat better in addition to not freezing yet will still transfer fine.

              I was thinking of using a radiator type collector and then necking down to maybe even 3/8 copper tubing encased in cement for the radiators inside with a small solar powered circulating pump.

              By heavily insulating the bottom and sides of the collector with a glass top it even should hold heat fairly well esp. if I build an insulated cover for the top. Probably with a brick bottom above the insulation to increase heat retention at night.

              "every saint has a past, every sinner has a future" Oscar Wilde

              by buddabelly on Thu Jul 19, 2007 at 05:47:01 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Gotcha - but not so sure about the copper (0+ / 0-)

                Agree on the ethylene glycol, that might be the ticket.

                Think the copper tubing might be an issue; cement is fairly corrosive, may attack the copper and eventually lead to leakage.  Radiant floor systems are using plastic tubing these days, might be far less chance of leakage if you go with system similar to commercially available floors.

      •  Depends upon your latitude, doesn't it? (0+ / 0-)

        and the amount of sunlight you get, the tax incentives, the longevity of the panels, whether you're also putting in a battery system or putting power back into the grid, your KW usage, etc.

        Viability is subject to debate based upon local considerations.

        This 6% cheap material looks really interesting.  So, how long does it hold up?  The silicon solar cells I've been using are already showing major degradation after <5 years.  You have to do a lot of maintenence on battery systems (not to mention the chemistry involved there!).</p>

        Gross generalizations will get you slammed.

        By me.

        Happy little moron, Lucky little man. I wish I was a moron, My God! Perhaps I am! -Spike Milligan

        by polecat on Thu Jul 19, 2007 at 08:07:00 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  At $.10 a watt, the only way it wouldn't be (10+ / 0-)

      is if some big company starts murdering people who buy it and manufacture it.

      S'far as I can tell...

  •  500 Watts for $50. Sure, I Can Find a Use (18+ / 0-)

    for that.

    With batteries it'd give me minimal power backup for the many outages we get here in rural Puget Sound. A wood stove with a small DC fan for some circulation, computer power (the phone /DSL lines are safely underground), minimal lighting for keeping my home craft shop going.

    $50, $100, $200 of solar that gave me 10x the watts would be a real boon. I'd certainly use it for part of my daily electrical use all the time.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 09:04:47 PM PDT

    •  Efficiency compared to silicon solar cells (10+ / 0-)

      Only a minor point, but "Solar cell energy conversion efficiencies for commercially available multicrystalline Si solar cells are around 14-16%." http://en.wikipedia.org/...

      These new solar cells are at best 6% efficiency. Now I understand the new cells are an order of magnitude cheaper (yippie!). On the other hand, between 2x to 3x the surface area will be needed for the same wattage.

      Combine this with the hassles people can get into with neighbors over "eyesores" some see in alternate home-based energy sources. Hopefully nothing here, just keep in mind 2 to 3 times more of these cells are needed per watt.

      The Place of Dead Roads
      "The City of Louisiana has dodged the bullet with Hurricane Corrina."

      by Dr Benway on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 09:55:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Also, back when I used to work in (4+ / 0-)

        organic photochemistry, one of the big concerns about this technology was that it would degrade over time.

        There are definitely issues and pitfalls which weren't discussed in the two linked articles.

        congratulations on your foreskin -- osteriser

        by bartman on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 10:10:20 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The Science article would be best (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Miss Jones, bartman

          but it requires a fee or a subscription, neither of which would help DK readers.

          you are right, of course, but maybe with them being that cheap it would just become something to replace every decade.

          I guess we'll find out soon enough.

          9/11 didn't change the Constitution!

          by Prof Dave on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 10:15:40 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Does this help? (0+ / 0-)

            Initial measurements of the stability of the tandem cell yield promising results. After storing the tandem cell in N2 for 3500 hours (fig. S2A), its efficiency decreased from e = 6.5 to 5.5%. This relatively small decrease after nearly half a year confirms the robustness of the tandem cell architecture. Moreover, the tandem solar cells showed reasonable stability under continuous illumination. When exposed continuously to irradiation with an intensity of one sun (AM1.5G), the tandem cell retained 70% of its original efficiency after 40 hours and over 60% even after 100 hours (fig. S2B) (21). Clearly, more extensive measurements on the degradation of packaged devices are required in future work.

            Efficient Tandem Polymer Solar Cells Fabricated by All-Solution Processing

            The only thing Republicans do well is take our tax dollars and transfer them to the rich, instead of providing the services we thought we were paying for.

            by Janet Strange on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 10:45:25 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  re the neighbors and "eyesores" (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        polecat, JeffW, ReEnergizer

        In California, homeowners' associations and local zoning can't stop you putting solar on your house, so you can tell 'em to go screw sand dunes.  

        Anywhere else, tell 'em "If all you can do all day is sit around and stare at my roof, you've got a serious problem.  I think that gas-guzzler in your driveway is ugly as hell, you'd better keep it in the garage or someone might vandalize it.."

        •  the guy couldn't fit the thing in hsi garage (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Prof Dave, JeffW

          if you are talking about that hummer vandalism.  those things make me sick, but i wouldn't vandalize it.  in buffalo they tried putting solar streetlights in and the people were complaining that they are ugly.  i just shook my head.  now, in the end the idiots that put them in didn't think about having some sort of backup system, so they i believe had to rip them out.  

          people complain about how much their taxes are, and then complain about aesthetics.  it boggles the mind.

        •  IF esthetics are important (0+ / 0-)

          then esthetics must change.

          Cool is so relative. and it changes. People aren't wearing doubleknit polyester anymore.

          We can spread the word about the "latest thing" that's cooler than (insert latest fad here)...

          A society of sheep must beget in time a government of wolves. Bertrand de Jouvenel

          by Little Red Hen on Thu Jul 19, 2007 at 06:48:52 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  But the quantity of silicon wafers are limited (0+ / 0-)

        and will only grow INCREMENTALLY.  Making a new wafer plant is an expensive undertaking.

        Being able to use different materials will enable the costs to drop dramatically and not limit the supply.

        Especially for southern climates where real estate is not a factor (large roofs vs. amount of sun exposure), I would think that this is extremely viable.  Assuming the material can be durable.

        In northern climates, however, people will probably need as much efficiency as they can get.

        Happy little moron, Lucky little man. I wish I was a moron, My God! Perhaps I am! -Spike Milligan

        by polecat on Thu Jul 19, 2007 at 08:20:57 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Hell yeah I would!!! (9+ / 0-)

    I would buy them now if I did not live in an apt.

    "I would not describe us, though, as a Christian nation I guess the word "Christian" is what bothers me, even though I'm a Christian" John Edwards

    by Chaoslillith on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 09:05:29 PM PDT

    •  Wonder if you could use this (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      walkshills, farleftcoast

      kind of thing just to directly run a major appliance or two. WIth the way prices are going, anywhere you can cut back is good.

      Until we break the corporate virtual monopoly on what we hear and see, we keep losing, don't matter what we do.

      by Jim P on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 09:41:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Running just your lights would be better (9+ / 0-)

        Every time a major appliance kicks in, there's a big power spike that can overwhelm all but a large ($$$) inverter. This is also very expensive from a battery drainage perspective.

        You'd be better off running your appliances from the grid, and everything else from the batteries (if you had to choose). And while you're at it, make sure everything else can be turned completely off (by a light switch on the outlet, or by plugging it into a power strip which is turned off whenever it's not in use).

        There are dozens of things that look off (tv's monitors, stereos, etc), but are really sucking down power, just in case you might want to turn them on and could be a little impatient waiting a few seconds for it to warm up.

        Beware the everyday brutality of the averted gaze.

        by mataliandy on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 10:05:25 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Same here, only we rent a house. (0+ / 0-)

      I've been interested in alternative energy for years.  If I can just get settled somewhere permanently, I'll install all sorts of stuff -- whole-house air exchange, solar panels, rain capture systems, etc. -- over the years.  Of course, I just hope I can afford to buy something other than a condo or townhouse, because precious little of that will work with that type of home.

      "Fighting Fascism is Always Cool." -- Amsterdam Weekly, volume three, issue 18

      by Noor B on Thu Jul 19, 2007 at 07:20:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Missed a choice in the poll (6+ / 0-)

    I would buy them if this technology pans out at this price.

    Oh I see that would be under planning installation okay my bad off to vote.

    Catapultam habeo. Nisi pecuniam omnem mihi dabis, ad caput tuum saxum immane mittam.

    by norahc on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 09:05:50 PM PDT

  •  Once again (31+ / 0-)

    we see the fruit of the squandered quarter century.  The Danes and Germans now dominate wind energy, now it appears the Koreans are poised to snag solar.  30 years ago the US was the world leader in both, and had Jimmy Carter's energy plan been followed, that preeminence would ahve been preserved.  US industry wuold ahve gained the profits from this exportable technology.  US workers would have held the good jobs such high-value-added production creates.  But instead, we ahve our endless free market "Morning in America", deindsutrailized, import dependent, only paying our way in the world due to the calculated patience of Japanese and Chinese central bankers.

    •  You got it Guy (10+ / 0-)

      Reagan and Bush fucked us over on energy.

      "It's the planet, stupid."

      by FishOutofWater on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 09:22:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Don't just blame it on the Republican Presidents (13+ / 0-)

        but also their counterparts in the Congress.  Newt's Contract on America filled the halls of Congress with so many short-term minded individuals.  Blech!

        On a similar note, I was listening to Thom Hartmann's broadcast today on Air America (rebroadcast during my drive time home from work) and he had on Bruce Fein, who is a constitutional lawyer who authored articles of impeachment against Bill Clinton and worked in Reagan's Justice Department.  Mr. Fein is now stating that Bush & Cheney must be impeached.  However, the salient point here is that Mr. Fein was stating that the congresscritters we have in place there know next to nothing about the Constitution.

        -8.88, -7.77 "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs" --Marx

        by wordene on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 09:40:25 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  In fairness (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        oldjohnbrown, ActivistGuy

        The Clinton administration was the only one in the last 30 years in which no substantial energy legislation was enacted, other than the Hydrogen Future act.

        Not to say the Energy Policy Act of 1991 or Energy Act of 2005 were good (although the 1991 act did fund a lot of good research).  But it was a tad shortsighted to do next to nothing for eight years (1992-2000) just because oil prices remained stable and low (until fall of 2000)

    •  Even (8+ / 0-)

      if we had only invested in these areas instead of using oil, we would have been fine.  

      It is frustrating to see alternative energy and other innovations, such as in stem cells, be developed and commericalized elsewhere.

      9/11 didn't change the Constitution!

      by Prof Dave on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 09:27:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Actually we aren't that bad off. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      roonie, Prof Dave, Noor B, JeffW

      We in fact have several companies here doing Si-less solar.  Konarka in Lowell, MA does plastic solar cells.  Heliovolt, NanoSolar, and DayStar do CIGS.

      We have tons of companies with promising innovations from new cell chemistry to concentrators, all trying to scale up to the point where they can sell cheap, and just like their foreign counterparts, they all release initial press releases that say they are going to revolutionize solar power.

      The one that will actually do so is not the one with the best tech.  It's the one that starts pumping out volume, and fast.  Nanosolar's the one I've seen actually claiming it will scale out fast enough to do so, and making the moves to back up those claims.

      And if they don't manage to do it within the next 5 years or so, the companies that have learned to make do with less silicon, but still use it, will be there neck and neck with them as the Si shortage is in the process of ending.  Like Evergreen, also a U.S. company, which seems to have been able to keep their module prices on the low end of the market and keep adding factories througout the whole shortage.

      OpenSource volunteers needed to bring election accountability: http://uscvprogs.sourceforge.net

      by skids on Thu Jul 19, 2007 at 04:41:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I was wrong (7+ / 0-)

    One story below, in the overnight news digest, I wrote a comment that nobody was talking about solar energy. I needed to look up one story, and PROF DAVE is talking about solar energy! Hooray!

  •  Solar from dyes looks promising too (19+ / 0-)

    I mentioned this story on Daily Kos back in April:

    Taking nature’s cue for cheaper solar power
    Massey University press release, 4 April 2007

    Solar cell technology developed by the University’s Nanomaterials Research Centre will enable New Zealanders to generate electricity from sunlight at a tenth of the cost of current silicon-based photo-electric solar cells.

    ...

    ... unlike the silicon-based solar cells currently on the market, the 10x10cm green demonstration cells generate enough electricity to run a small fan in low-light conditions – making them ideal for cloudy weather. The dyes can also be incorporated into tinted windows that trap to generate electricity.

  •  Better than burning oil! (17+ / 0-)

    The use of inexpensive plastics is a key to cut down the cost for its fabrication.

    "This plastic solar cell bends and folds, making it possible to be wearable to the body or to be printed into devices,"

    Some criticize the use of petroleum-based plastics in solar cells, arguing that renewable energy should not further support fossil fuel industries.

    In fact could be a significant boost in a couple ways. You would eventually get a lot more energy from a barrel of oil, and there wouldn't be the greenhouse effect from the solar energy.

    "Vice President Cheney is expanding the administration's policy on torture to include tortured logic" Sen. Dick Durbin D-IL

    by Tuba Les on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 09:23:47 PM PDT

  •  I've been a big fan of solar for a long time now (8+ / 0-)

    and am looking (not too hard right now) at trying to install solar on my NW Chicagoland home.  Ideally, I'd love to have a combo solar/fuel cell/wind power arrangement and get to the point where the power company will owe me money each month.  Thanks for this diary!

    -8.88, -7.77 "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs" --Marx

    by wordene on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 09:28:06 PM PDT

  •  How long before Exxon (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Prof Dave

    buys their patent?.....

    "People place their hand on the Bible and swear to uphold the Constitution. They don't put their hand on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible." --J.R.

    by michael1104 on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 09:35:24 PM PDT

  •  I've read of this , that and the other (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Prof Dave

    breakthrough in solar over the years .
    http://www.thisoldhouse.com/...

  •  I can't afford solar at its current cost (5+ / 0-)

    but if it were 1/4 to 1/2 of its current cost, I would JUMP at the chance to put solar collectors all over our roof!  It would be a dream come true to be able to do that.

  •  Is there a price at which you can just paste this (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    javelina, walkshills, Prof Dave, dangangry

    on top of your electric car and run without any other fuel? That would change everything and take away the last "excuse" to invade Iraq.

    Well? Shall we go? Yes, let's go.

    by whenwego on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 09:48:24 PM PDT

    •  I don't think a car (9+ / 0-)

      will ever have the square footage to generate enough electricity for its needs.  However, on a house?  That is a totally different ball game.  

      Put them on your house, plug in your car, and go to town.

      9/11 didn't change the Constitution!

      by Prof Dave on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 09:50:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Works for me (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Prof Dave

        where do I stand in line?

        Well? Shall we go? Yes, let's go.

        by whenwego on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 09:54:46 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  The objection to that scheme is political... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        oldjohnbrown, MarketTrustee, livy

        ...rather than technological.  

        Enough lumens fall on the average home in 365 days to generate all of its electrical needs for that year, and certainly enough to power a plug-in electrical car.

        However, there are some barriers to this scheme:

        Zoning ordinances often prohibit houses from adding on solar panels because their appearance does not enhance property values.  

        There is the not inconsiderable matter of economics, as others have already pointed out.  How many people can afford the initial cost of these solar panels?  

        The government should subsidize them, but of course a government so closely tied to the oil and gas industry is disinclined to make an initiative for alternative fuels.

        A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds--Ralph Waldo Emerson.

        by VeronicaTheViking on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 11:42:18 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Really, it's getting better. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          peggy, Noor B

          The situation is far less bleak than you make it out to be. Most of the state that have people living in them have laws that ban solar covenant laws or local zoning ordinances and several states have green energy funds that are funded by a kWh fee that's applied to all electricity customers. New Jersey currently has a waiting list of over 1,500 customers waiting for solar installations.

          There's a lot of really good policy going on in state like N.J., Cali, N.Y., Vermont, Mass and Del. And our man Governor Rendell shut down the state government in Pa. to try to get a green energy fund started. Check out DSIRE  to see what's going on in the state houses.

          State level action on green energy issues may end up being better than anything that the Feds end up doing anyway. Any federal legislation would end up being so tepid and pork-filled that it might end up setting green energy policy backwards. Imagine a nationwide 10% renewable portfolio standard and federal funding for coal-to-liquid. Ugh.

      •  Actually, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dangangry

        While living in Phoenix, I saw a solar powered car (modified VW station wagon) zipping along quite nicely... (this was in the early 90's..)

        •  It can work if (0+ / 0-)

          you don't drive much - not too often,m not too far.

          Currently a square meter of solar cells will yield 100 to 150 watts during the times of best orientation to full sunlight.  And 1 horsepower is about 760 watts, with a real efficient motor call it 800 watts optimistically.  

          So you can continuously harvest perhaps 1/2 to 2/3 horsepower at the drive shaft from the PV on a car. Figure out how much power you need to move the car, and the power generation during the cycle of a day with the drop-off in the morning and afternoon. Factor in the loses in storing that power in batteries.  That will tell you how much driving you can do on pure PV.

          I suspect the VW you saw was recharging from the grid or fixed PV collectors as well as from its own set of solar cells.

    •  I'll echo Prof Dave's comments below (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      javelina, Prof Dave, dangangry

      in that there isn't enough area on a vehicle to run ALL of the vehicle's energy needs, but would be a nice addition to my Prius!

      -8.88, -7.77 "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs" --Marx

      by wordene on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 09:54:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Just engaged my brain (10+ / 0-)

    These cells are made of plastic.  And plastic is made from?  Heh.  This technology will be allowed to advance.

  •  Congratulations on making the Recommended List (4+ / 0-)

    with this diary (added Recommended Tag).

    -8.88, -7.77 "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs" --Marx

    by wordene on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 09:57:11 PM PDT

  •  A little perspective on solar (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    unclejohn, Prof Dave, dangangry, livy

    Let me say at the outset that I'm a big fan of renewable fuels, and solar (per se or via biofuels) will be an important slice of the energy pie in years to come.

    HOWEVER... The carbon sources that we've been pumping from the depths of Mother earth were similarly the result of capturing solar irradiation. Most oil, natural gas, and coal deposits that we presently exploit to fuel our industrial economies and our transportation needs were stored during the Carboniferousera, estimated to represent the cumulative capture of solar energy over the course of ~65 MILLION YEARS.

    We've blown it in the short course of ~150 years since Pittsville .

    Still think solar is THE answer? Not bloody likely.

    Think fusion...

    "It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can keep him from lynching me, and I think that's pretty important." Martin Luther King Jr.

    by Arabiflora on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 09:58:32 PM PDT

    •  It's part of the silver shotgun approach (11+ / 0-)

      we need an energy portfolio, not a silver bullet.

      Every step forward and away from oil is one step closer not to re-introducing all of the CO2 from the Carboniferous era.

      One step at a time and keep taking steps!

      9/11 didn't change the Constitution!

      by Prof Dave on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 10:02:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  WTF? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SecondComing, bartman

      You cannot see the difference between photon energy stored in carbon bonds 65 million years ago and direct
      use of solar, as if we were plants ourselves?

      Your logic is flawed.

      Also your facts are flawed. Most of the eneergy captured in the carboniferous was re-released during decomposition. In essence, it was actively cycling and re-releasing the energy. Only a small percentage of plant material was buried to become coal and oil.The conditions have to be correct, like a peat bog or something, then it takes many millions of years to become fuel.

      •  Two words: (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dangangry

        Energy density.

        Solar takes lots and lots of surface. Any way you cut it you are talking about covering a surface area equivalent to several of our smaller states in order to convert current US electricity production to solar.

        •  Two words (7+ / 0-)

          "Use Less"

          A house can easily power itself in most latitudes.  Indstrial production is another matter - but so is industrial use.

          A few weeks ago I gae my father a tin of pickled ginger.  Last week I visited them and saw the tin standing aside empty.  I asked (although I knew) why ithadn't been thrown out when empty and the answer was that it was a good tin )closer, rubber seal and all) and that it was awaiting being found a use.    I smiled.  The quality of the tin as well as the goods was part of the buying decision.

          Henry Ford had all the parts he did not make delivered in specified packing.  The boards of the crates became floorboards, the wire that sealed them handbrake cable.  How come we only understood half of the "assembly line" method?

          Best Wishes, Demena

          by Demena on Thu Jul 19, 2007 at 02:10:19 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Powersats n/t (0+ / 0-)

          Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight.

          by JeffW on Thu Jul 19, 2007 at 06:39:36 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Not viable. (0+ / 0-)

            But a nice thought problem.

            The energy cost of getting up there is really high.

            Far easier and cheaper to build the things down here, and the energy density is similar.

            Happy little moron, Lucky little man. I wish I was a moron, My God! Perhaps I am! -Spike Milligan

            by polecat on Thu Jul 19, 2007 at 08:23:51 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Fusion is almost impossible (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      zorba, VeronicaTheViking

      We are at least several decades from achieving this...at most, never.

      You have to have heat as much as a star, where would we harness that on Earth? The core doesn't even come close to that kind of heat. Its also very dangerous....

      And think about how not cost-efficient Fission already is.

      •  Fusion is already possible. (5+ / 0-)

        It just isn't economically feasible. It takes more energy to create the fusion reaction than the reaction gives off. But the fusion reaction DOES create energy.

        The problem with fusion is a matter of efficiency, and economic viability. We can already make fusion in a controlled environment however.

        As far as danger, I don't have any idea where you got the impression that fusion technology is dangerous. The temperatures are massive, but the amount of fuel is microscopic. Ever had a drop of hot water land on your hand? It's hot, but it doesn't burn your hand the same as if you immersed it in hot water. The fuel in a fusion reactor is like a microscopic drop of really hot water. Not big enough to cause any damage.

        congratulations on your foreskin -- osteriser

        by bartman on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 10:26:51 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Heavier than air flight is impossible. eom (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Arabiflora
    •  Solar is not THE answer (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Prof Dave, esquimaux

      but it is the best answer right now.  I'd love to see fusion as well, but since the late-80s over-hyped psuedo-scientific claim of room-temperature fusion, there hasn't been much of a peep since.  Baby steps are required for us to get from where we are to where we would like to be.  Along the way, we need to have a  paradigm shift in attitudes in this country analogous to Kennedy's Apollo mission; we as a country need to dramatically improve the level and direction of research and development, especially in the area of energy generation.

      -8.88, -7.77 "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs" --Marx

      by wordene on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 10:12:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  solar is the answer (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        esquimaux, dangangry

        if you live in a western state

      •  Multiple types of fusion (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        polecat, wordene, unclejohn

        Cold fusion is certainly not a promising area of research right now, but traditional fusion research is still chugging along.

        Just last November an international treaty was signed allowing the start of construction of a new experimental fusion facility in France.

        congratulations on your foreskin -- osteriser

        by bartman on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 10:33:12 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I work with a retired MIT professor (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Marlboro Lite, wordene, JeffW, livy

        Her husband, who died last year, was one of the leading scientists at the Lawrence Livermore Lab.

        According to my friend, fusion is not viable because it is impossible to sustain the fusion reaction in either a physical or a magnetic confinement chamber at the required temperatures.

        Which is a long winded way of saying, fusion reactors are not something on which we should plan our energy futures.

        As for solar:  it has its uses, but you cannot power the electrical grid of a modern nation with ground-based solar panels.  

        A more exotic, but possibly more useful alternative, is space-based solar collectors.  These collectors would be in high orbit, collect the Sun's energy 24/7, and beam it back to earth.  

        The big sticking point for these solar power satellites, of course, is launching the construction material (or completed satellites) much more cheaply than is possible with conventional rockets.

        And hence, the space elevator, which lowers the cost of placing materials in orbit from the current $20,000 USD per kilogram to between $20 and $200 USD per kilogram.

        A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds--Ralph Waldo Emerson.

        by VeronicaTheViking on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 11:31:14 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  fusion (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          wondering if

          ITER (France) is the next research reactor. DEMO (Japan) is a version of ITER aimed at achieving commercial operating conditions. There's good reason to believe it'll work, but the time scale is still 50 years.

          Space elevator, otoh, is pure fantasy. A material strong enough does not exist.

        •  Keep doing that research! (0+ / 0-)

          Fusion is really interesting and has been 25 years away for about 50 years.

          The space elevator requires materials that are about 2x as strong as we have right now -- a heck of a lot better than before carbon nanotubes, but not a viable solution YET.  (Perhaps carbon 13 nanotubes... with synthetic diamond linkages, who knows).  Furthermore, it is SLOW.  You want to go to geostationary?  Try driving 20,000 miles UP.  Limited number of transports allowed on the elevator.  If even ONE is jammed, you're in trouble.  It is a massive terrorism target.  and if something hits it or it is severed there is a lot of energy in that thing when/where it comes down.  Still, do the research.  We may solve each of these problems.

          The duty cycle for a space-based collector is only 2x that of one in the Gobi desert, and maintenence is a royal pain.  I think that we're better off with an infrastructure of superconducting cables between various sources (solar in the deserts, hydroelectric where it makes sense, nuclear in geographically stable and easily accessible disposal sites, and geothermal again where it makes sense) to support the grid.  And, making the grid more efficient is basically free energy.

          Happy little moron, Lucky little man. I wish I was a moron, My God! Perhaps I am! -Spike Milligan

          by polecat on Thu Jul 19, 2007 at 08:32:22 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  The cumulative capture of... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sean oliver, wordene

      a MINUSCULE portion of the solar energy over the course of 65 million years.

      There is plenty of solar energy striking the Earth's surface to meet our energy needs. The amount of solar energy which is re-radiated into space is enormous. Just capturing a small amount of that is huge.

      congratulations on your foreskin -- osteriser

      by bartman on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 10:21:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  great news, BUT (6+ / 0-)

    this is still in the lab, and I'd like some of what Professor "10 cents a watt" is smoking.
    I hope he's right, I'll shingle my house with them if so. Now people have to figure out how to mass produce them. Photovoltaic technology has been improving VERY slowly for the last 40 or so years and is still improving VERY slowly.

  •  Thanks for the Solar update (4+ / 0-)

     WE have a sailboat and already have solar panels --

     Solar panels like these mentioned in the linked article will go a long way for power generation for tropical islands throughout the world. Most of the islands use diesel fuel generators which makes electricity very expensive.

     

  •  Old Solar/Passive Solar - cheaper than PV cells (13+ / 0-)

    Don't you remember GMoke's diary on old solarhere not long ago?

    Without rereading it, I remember what I took away from the article - Old passive solar design elements like external shutters or awnings; whole house fans; shade trees, etc., can do wonders for conserving energy, without costing a lot of money or installing new, tricky, possibly unreliable technology.

    I am not against new solar technology BTW. I'm just saying - learn how to optimize what you've got. Gmoke's diaries made me think about windows as solar collectors. We need to replace our south-facing windows soon, and I plan to have awnings put in at the same time - retractable ones. In the winter we want to collect the sun's rays. In the summer we want the shade. Etc.

    Solar doesn't have to be expensive. How expensive is it to install a home-made solar clothes dryer (a clothesline)? Didn't we see a figure recently that drying clothes generates something like 3% of US carbon emissions?

    I mean, walking to the store instead of driving is the ultimate solar conversion. You're burning your own calories, not some dead dinosaur's. Save gas money, too.

    Dove's Eye View: An Arab-American woman sees signs of hope - at http://bedouina.typepad.com

    by leilasab on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 10:19:26 PM PDT

    •  My wife (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Meteor Blades, javelina, xanthe, esquimaux

      was really annoyed at my use of a clothesline for the first while, but got used to it.  

      I already use many of the passive forms of solar in addition to generating electricity.

      They all have their place in the energy portfolio.

      9/11 didn't change the Constitution!

      by Prof Dave on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 10:31:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  and nothing smells like sun-dried clothes - (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Prof Dave

        the sun also has cleansing power, doesn't it - as to bacteria?  Plus it saves money.

        I have no patience with people who grow old at 60 just because they are entitled to a bus pass. Mary Wesley, British novelist

        by xanthe on Thu Jul 19, 2007 at 04:34:38 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It does if you're in a relatively dry climate! (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          redmcclain, xanthe, Prof Dave

          I grew up in Texas, and we line-dried everything. It was great.

          However, I was visiting family in central North Carolina a couple of years back. The day we arrived, the dryer in the cabin where we were staying broke down (black smoke, thunking noises). So we hung out the wet laundry, but within 5 hours it rained. So we hung it out again. It rained again. Repeat several times over 48 hours. All the laundry was completely mildewed and there was nowhere indoors to hang it - we finally ended up re-washing everything and going to a neighbor's house to use the dryer.

          That being said, I'm all for line-drying. I do it in my Manhattan apartment, indoors, since the air is sooty here.

          You can tell you have created God in your own image when it turns out that he or she hates all the same people you do. - Anne Lamott

          by javelina on Thu Jul 19, 2007 at 05:35:33 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Link doesn't work (0+ / 0-)

      It looks like you put in the link twice for the URL, so it didn't work. Here is the clickable link:

      Old Solar

      Thanks for the head's up. Great diary.

      Thank you, Howard Dean.

      by thinkdouble on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 10:45:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I just can't live without my mechanical dryer. (0+ / 0-)

      I'm totally spoiled about having my clothes feel all fluffy and not stiff.

      So I am going to need those cheap solar panels to run it.

      For now, I just try to make up for this indulgence by cutting back in other ways.  (Like not driving much).

      If we want hope to survive in this world today, then every day we've got to teach on, teach on. - Ysaye Maria Barnwell

      by Femlaw on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 10:53:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  and it's hybrid (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      polecat, JLongs, hoolia

      We call ours the linear-hybrid-solar-and-wind-powered-dryer.

  •  Solar-energy-generating road surfaces. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nuttymango, oldjohnbrown, dangangry

    That remains my science-fiction fantasy, solar-energy-generating road surfaces. The highway that generates the electricity people's vehicles need to drive on it.

    The Dutch children's choir Kinderen voor Kinderen (= “children for children”) is a world cultural treasure.

    by lotlizard on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 11:01:43 PM PDT

  •  I was reading in a Print Trade magazine (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MasonMcD, ctsteve, BDA in VA, Prof Dave

    that nanotechnology will be available to the average print shop and solar panels will be printed en masse.

    Get ready for something out of the blue where you can wallpaper your shed and generate electricity.

    Interesting article

    Tu es responsable de ta rose Le Petit Prince

    by Brahman Colorado on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 11:26:45 PM PDT

  •  Cheney derides conservation as "personal virtue" (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    melo, Prof Dave, Noor B, JeffW, livy

    But the fact of the matter is, designing buildings to take advantage of the environment, and insulating existing buildings, would go a long ways towards making our current sources of energy last until we have replacements.  We could reduce 10%-30% of current energy use through retrofitting of existing buildings and by holding all new construction to stringent energy usage standards.

    The massive retrofitting of existing buildings would also create many well-paid jobs in the construction trades, and these are jobs that cannot be outsourced to Third World countries.

    Retrofitting existing buildings will also help clean up the air, since less energy will need to be generated for heating and cooling, thus creating less pollution and resulting in a cleaner, healthier environment.

    A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds--Ralph Waldo Emerson.

    by VeronicaTheViking on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 11:37:45 PM PDT

  •  I live in an apartment (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    javelina, Prof Dave
    so I can't put in solar.

    I'll urge the building I live in to do so, though

    •  That's a problem with solar (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      plf515

      urban areas are not going to be self sufficient by any means.

      The energy density of sunlight is maybe a KW per square meter. Calculate how much surface area a building takes, multiple that by the efficiency of the solar cells - 30% is dreamed for, 20% is very good currently.  And then figure out how much power the people living in that building need, even with high efficiency insulation, lighting, and appliances.

      High density buildings simple are not able to power themselves with solar, energy will need to be imported to do so. It's possible that putting PV on the roofs of such buildings is not the best use, that going to some sort of green roof would be a better use.

      •  true ... however (4+ / 0-)

        Solar can be used to generate the power at the electric utility that the building then use for power - its not limited to the building itself.

        Also, there are companites out there currently working on thin film technology that you can put on windows.  It's see through like other protective films that are often put on windows, but it generates power.

        It may not provide enough power for the whole building, but its more coverage area than just the roof, particularly for those skyscrapers that are glass all around the outside.

        There are so many new IPOs coming out for Solar Companies and a whole host of innovations that people like us have yet to imagine.

        A slip of the foot you may soon recover, but a slip of the tongue you may never get over. - Benjamin Franklin

        by meowmissy on Thu Jul 19, 2007 at 05:22:39 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  They should put them over parking decks.... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          cotterperson, benthos, Noor B

          We have tons of parking decks just taking up groundspace in many of our cities and office parks.

          Seems silly not to use that space for solar cells.

          •  Well, like plf515 I'm in the city (0+ / 0-)

            Somewhere below I made the same point abt living in an apartment building. It's so crowded on Manhattan that the parking garages are generally underground. Nevertheless, we get quite a lot of sun, and there's no reason SOME solar energy couldn't be collected locally.

            But you've made a good point. When I think about all the parking garages in, say, Dallas - it's ridiculous that solar panels aren't up.

            And I agree w/ meowmissy that solar should be used at the plants by Con Ed and other utilities.

            You can tell you have created God in your own image when it turns out that he or she hates all the same people you do. - Anne Lamott

            by javelina on Thu Jul 19, 2007 at 05:39:25 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Solar ALREADY Looks Good (6+ / 0-)

    I just recently made a bunch of money investing in two solar stocks. One was more speculative, bought it, waited for it to go up a bit, then sold at a quick/modest profit. The other is a solid stock that more than doubled since I first bought it. Holding on to that one.

    Solar stocks are already making good money.

    Wind is already competitive with clean coal. Solar is looking better and better. Why aren't we investing in AMERICAN jobs manufacturing the equipment for these local energy sources?

    •  Yep ... (0+ / 0-)

      I've been kicking myself because I bought a good Solar stock, made a nice little profit and sold it.  It's since doubled and is showing no signs of slowing down.

      A slip of the foot you may soon recover, but a slip of the tongue you may never get over. - Benjamin Franklin

      by meowmissy on Thu Jul 19, 2007 at 05:25:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  As with all (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Prof Dave, chapter1

    news of this type, we shall see if it comes to market.

    Common Sense is not Common

    by RustyBrown on Thu Jul 19, 2007 at 04:03:25 AM PDT

  •  More Dark than Light (4+ / 0-)

    $2.30:W for silicon cells, $0.10:W (they claim, without large scale evidence/history) for these plastic cells.

    Silicon cells last a long time, usually more than 35 years. Plastic degrades, especially in sunlight, salt water and in heating/cooling air. If the silicon ones last 23x as long as these plastic ones (which would be about 1.5y), they're worth the extra money.

    However, those prices are completely suspect. The lowest cost of silicon PV cells is probably about $3:W, not $2.30, so I don't know where that Korean newspaper gets its basic facts. And of course the Koreans promoting ths tech have a vital interest in exaggerating their own economy, or just cherrypicking a competitive scenario that won't scale.

    Also, silicon cells can probably absorb lots more light before maxxing out their conversion. In fact, their efficiency generally increases with higher incident light. So cheap reflectors and other concentrators can feed a smaller cell at higher efficiency. Plastic cells probably have the reverse efficiency curve. So a hundred reflectors feeding a single solar cell of the same area probably is a lot less than $2.30:W, maybe more like $0.50:W or less. Now that apparatus has to last only 5x as long as the plastic apparatus.

    OTOH, silicon cells are costly (in energy, as well as $) to manufacture. Plastic cells are probably less energy consuming to make, and possibly to deploy. But the cheap concentrators probably are cheaper than the plastic cells.

    The point is that the entire product lifecycle, at maximum productivity in specific deployments, has to be compared to compare the two technologies. Silicon probably has a lot more life in it before its productivity economics are totally optimized.

    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

    by DocGonzo on Thu Jul 19, 2007 at 04:22:06 AM PDT

  •  Oh this is a good diary to wake up to - (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cotterperson, Prof Dave, Noor B

    thanks Professore!  I love solar stuff - and more and more useful items are coming out.

    I'm having a new roof put on (flat roof) and I was told that there is something in the tar that works something like solar power.  Doesn't give off energy but somehow it is useful???  But I'm sure that soon there will be something in the materials we use in roofing that give us that power and we won't have to use the panels.  Yes - I would use the panels - certainly.

    I have no patience with people who grow old at 60 just because they are entitled to a bus pass. Mary Wesley, British novelist

    by xanthe on Thu Jul 19, 2007 at 04:33:25 AM PDT

  •  NOT VIABLE (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Prof Dave, dangangry

    Big Oil, who only has itself to blame for being greedy obstructionist capitlaist pigs, won't be able to monopolize the profits so SOMETHNG will be done to "vanish" or slow down the application of this in America.

    Happy to be wrong, but this IS America and if a tiny handful of white men cannot make even more money than they already have, you cannot have whatever it is they say you can't.

    And yeah, it will be Korea and India that lead the way, not America.  They are not totally run by Big Oil.

  •  The problems with plastics (0+ / 0-)

    is that they are a petroleum product.  No oil...no plastic.

  •  I wrote a (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Prof Dave

    Solar Energy diary last year and discovered that Germany has a patented new solar technology and the U.S. has a different solar technology that sounds a lot like the Korean model you describe. here is a snippet from an article from Mercury News in San Jose. I cant find the article anymore , but I did quote from it.

    http://www.mercurynews.com/...

    A Palo Alto company has decided to build the world's largest factory for making solar power cells in the Bay Area -- a move that would nearly triple the nation's solar manufacturing capacity and give a significant boost to a growing source of clean energy.

    Snip

    Roscheisen said he will open the new factory, which will employ several hundred people, by the end of 2006, and expects to begin producing a type of paper-thin, flexible solar cell in 2007. Two weeks ago, he met with San Jose Mayor Ron Gonzales to discuss possible locations.

    Snip

    The cells, each several inches across, will be assembled in Germany into panels for use on rooftops and as stand-alone power plants. Eventually, the cells will be molded to fit archways, columns and other parts of buildings.

    Snip

    But Nanosolar and other companies, such as Miasole, a privately held San Jose firm, have discarded silicon as their semiconductor material. Instead, they are printing photovoltaic cells onto flexible plastic and foil, using a copper alloy that absorbs light and creates electricity.

    "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act."-George Orwell

    by Babsnc on Thu Jul 19, 2007 at 05:24:49 AM PDT

  •  But, how can we (0+ / 0-)

    have a war over it and what are we going to do with Iraq when we don't need it anymore?

    We have only just begun and none too soon.

    by global citizen on Thu Jul 19, 2007 at 05:25:54 AM PDT

  •  This represents real progress in organics (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    oldjohnbrown, Prof Dave

    Spectral utilization via a tandem structure is a path well worn by inorganic III-V devices.  But it is misleading to create the impression that you will be buying this stuff anytime soon.  The real problem with organics is stability.  The flip side is cheap cost.  So you will see some products that are very cheap but just have a two or three year life span.  Not like the twenty year service life for inorganic silicon or III-V based PV.

  •  You don't have a poll spot for renters! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Prof Dave, MarketTrustee

    I live in an 18-story apt building in Manhattan. If it were up to me, we'd have solar panels installed on the roof ASAP. We certainly get enough sun. But it ain't my call and the absentee landlady is not going to do a thing about it - after all, the tenants pay their own electric bills, she just has to pay for the elevator, laundry room, and common areas.

    You can tell you have created God in your own image when it turns out that he or she hates all the same people you do. - Anne Lamott

    by javelina on Thu Jul 19, 2007 at 05:27:00 AM PDT

    •  Same here....26 floor condo building in a city. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      javelina
    •  You also don't have a poll spot for "maybe" (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Prof Dave

      My position is something like "I'm keeping an eye on things to see if solar goes mass-market."  Right now, I'm watching and waiting.  When it comes to monkeying with my home's power supply and installing stuff on the roof, I don't care to be an early adopter, and I'm not convinced that the currently-available systems make economic sense (even compared to other renewable energy sources).

      So how do I vote?  I'm not actively planning an installation, so that choice is wrong...I don't already have solar panels...I don't subscribe to any of the reasons against solar...and I'm not so price-sensitive that I have necessarily ruled them out even at current prices.  

      A lot of the problem is that I don't have much incentive when my power is already 100% wind.  :-)

  •  Interesting....but I'm still in a condo (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    javelina

    We plan to buy a vintage bungalow at some point, though, and try to "green" it.

    This technology should be ready by then, I'm guessing.

  •  Financial calculations and batteries (5+ / 0-)

    Typically, a house would need about a 3000w system to break even over the course of a year with a net metering system. (Living in MD, this is one of the options available)

    The heightened expense of batteries probably isn't worth it unless you have other power issues that need to be addressed.  The current state of lead-acid batteries is that they need to be replaced every 5-10 years, adding ongoing cost to an already expensive system.

    What I've thought is this:  When the electric car becomes viable, have a bi-directional power coupling so that you can run your house off of your car's battery in the case of a power failure.  Considering the amount of energy required to move a car 350 miles, you should be able to run your house for at least a day or two off of what your car stores.

    My assumptions:

    100,000w motor (roughly 100hp) car requiring 10,000w continuous for cruising at 65mph, 350 mile range = 5.3 hours, typical house during non-heating and cooling times using about 1000w average current per hour gives you 53 hours of power (just over two days).  All of this is completely off the top of my head, of course, because no such car exists yet.

    As far as economic feasibility of a solar grid-tie installation, here are some real numbers:

    3000w installation quote for my house, all inclusive: $38000 after rebates, not including tax incentives.  Amortized over 10 years at 7%: $441.  Over 20 years at 7%: $294.00.  Amortized over 30 years at 7%: $252.

    My highest electric bill ever: $240.  Average is more like $120.  So if I went solar in MD, I'd double my electric bill.  Thanks, but no thanks.  I'd happily use 3-4X the square footage at $.10 a watt though.  I could use that much to shade my deck.

  •  Wake me up (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Prof Dave

    ...when it gets a bit closer to market.

    Professor Lee expects the technology to take between three to five years to reach the market.

    An awful lot of technologies look great 5 or 10 years before they hit market, but often unexpected problems arise, or they prove difficult to scale.

    That being said, IF this pans out, it could well have as large an effect on humanity as, say, the invention of fire.  But I'll believe it when I see it being mass-produced.

    But, if nothing else, this does emphasize just how important it is to fund more research.

  •  Gets even better (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Prof Dave

    Couple this with plastics-based broadcast electricity, also being developed in East Asia, and you have a complete sea change in the infrastructure, no, the very definition of an advanced technological society.

    And we are not part of it.

    factses! we loves them forever!

    by cskendrick on Thu Jul 19, 2007 at 05:59:55 AM PDT

  •  Old news. (0+ / 0-)

    Sorry, but non-silicon based cells have been around for a bit.  

    Dana Curtis Kincaid Ad Astra per Aspera! http://www.angrytoyrobot.blogspot.com The enemy is not man, the enemy is stupidity.

    by angrytoyrobot on Thu Jul 19, 2007 at 06:09:18 AM PDT

  •  Solar is not presently viable (0+ / 0-)

    I've gotten the bids and looked at the math.  I live in sunny Silicon Valley, California.

    If you have a relatively high bill and are shifting from standard to time-of-use metering, and have a pretty good interest rate on a home equity line of credit, it's possible to get to roughly the same equivalent energy cost cash flow.

    However, that makes a big assumption about the value of the capital investment for home resale.

    Given that is expected to go down substantially within the next 3 years - at minimum from mirror/concentration based panels - I see no reason to invest now.

    Also, successful conservation - to the tune of about 25% of my present bill - would also knock down enough of the high-kwh billing to shift even the optimistic salesman's financial analysis into the red.

    Going solar now is admirable, but I'm going to wait.

    •  Change your title (0+ / 0-)

      Your post doesn't substantiate the claim that it isn't "viable". It just isn't a choice you're willing to make at this point in time.  Someone who cares more about the environment, has more disposable income etc may come to a completely different conclusion.

    •  Don't know (0+ / 0-)

      I don't know about California, but Maryland has some tax incentives for going solar, and ISTR that there's some in the federal tax code.

      Of course, I don't make enough for those incentives to make much difference, but it may be something to figure in your calculations to tip the balance.

    •  Viable if timeline is 8-10 years. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Prof Dave, ReEnergizer

      You can go to this web site and plug in your location and it gives you the basic numbers on photo voltaic costs and paybacks.

      Go Green for Life.

      Going solar is along term investment. With energy costs rising fairly quickly it has an average 8-10 year payback to the original investor and should be recoverable in a home sale within 5 years.

      It does require government subsidy at this point because of the long payback. Government subsidies are justified due to costs to US just over the last 10 years.

      $3T oil trade deficit, $2T in oil wars, $1T in anti-oil terrorism costs. Every 10 years US is losing an entire year's GDP due to oil.

      This doesn't begin to count the pollution and global warming issues.

      Germany is very successful at this as they provided the government subsidy via the power company. It provides subsidies for current land and home owners and requirements for new buildings.

      Energy conservation (50% saving on average), Solar electric and hot water systems (20% of energy used) will have a huge positive impact on US over next 10 years if US chooses to solar/energy efficient.

      Depends on whether we plan on having a country in the next 8-10 years.

      •  a placeholder (0+ / 0-)

        yet another thing I want to investigate in depth when I have time-thank you for the link!

        KO sez..."All Hail the Prophetic Gut!" Also, Visit Scenic Buttercupia!

        by JLongs on Thu Jul 19, 2007 at 07:47:56 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Payback timelines are b.s. (0+ / 0-)

        Payback timelines completely ignore time value of money.  They're fuzzy math.

        That's not the way you do a financial analysis.

        You've got to set up the cash flows, discount them appropriately, and compare.  Or - in my case - set up an apples-apples cash flow comparison with a home equity line-financed solar system on one side.

        And - again - if the value of the solar apparatus depreciates dramatically because the market cost of replicating it is dropping - that undercuts the resale value.  You'll never see a solar system integrator mention this issue.

        •  Payback IS return on investment. Basic finance. (0+ / 0-)

          "That's not the way you do a financial analysis."

          I don't do financial analysis. I depend on the professionals.  The financial analysis provided by the website link is from State of California Energy Commission so I think we can probably trust their basic financial calcs.

          "if the value of the solar apparatus depreciates"

          There is no tax line item for "depreciation of apparatus" in any tax form, state or Federal, for private home HVAC equipment so you seem to be applying a standard that doesn't exist.

          On top of that, depreciation is a tax BONUS for businesses, so if people were able to depreciate their home HVAC equipment it would INCREASE the Return on Investment and SHORTEN the payback period for home solar power installations.

          •  The State of California website is b.s. (0+ / 0-)

            That "payback analysis" is dumbed down math for people who don't understand time value of money.  It's unfortunate they spread such nonsense because it tends to confuse people into making bad economic decisions.

            You're even more confused on the "depreciation" issue.  This is not about depreciation - it's about home resale.

            Let me make this really simple.

            Say you spend $30K on a solar power system.

            In 3 years, similar systems are now selling for $15K.

            Now, how much does that solar power system add to the resale value of your house?

            Give you a hint, it's much closer to $15K than it is to $30K.

            So maybe you came out even or maybe even a little bit ahead for a few years on your power bills (versus the money you borrowed on your equity line to build the solar power system).  But when you sell, you lose $15K.  Doesn't sound like a good deal to me.

            And this undermines one of the central economic arguments for a solar power installation.  If prices are dropping rapidly, you're going to pay an early adopter premium and not get it back, like any other emerging technology.

            •  Sorry you don't like CA standard financial calcs. (0+ / 0-)

              Good luck on your search for a "creative finance" solution to your problem.

              Rest of us will stick to standards financial and  tax rules for calculating paybacks and return on investment in home solar systems.

    •  You're assuming current conditions continue (0+ / 0-)

      What you're writing here is really important, because you're telling us what money is actually telling us about solar power. Money talks.

      But here are some other ideas to consider:

      If peak oil really hits home and we shift to using electricity to powering a lot of cars, and the price of conventional electricity goes up a lot (or the supply simply becomes unpredictable) that could make solar more attractive.

      Also, what the diarist seems to be implying is that the Korean technology could make solar cost about 5% of what it does today. (Or, maybe, 10% to 20% of what it costs today, if the cost of silicon is really only part of the cost of a finished solar power system.) If the price of a solar system goes down dramatically 5 years from now, that could make solar seem much more attractive, even if everything else about the world stays pretty much the same.

      Finally: I think owning a small solar emergency power system would make sense in California even if you see assumed that conventional electricity would be free. If an earthquake hit and knocked out the conventional power grid for a couple of weeks, you probably would be really happy to have enough solar power to keep your lights, radios, computers and cell phones running, even if you couldn't use it to run your refrigerator, your air conditioner or your washing machine.

      Another thought is this: people always talk about how great gold would be in a crisis. But, as far as I'm concerned, gold is a fairly useless substance. In any kind of really serious emergency, I think a solar-powered appliance or a solar-powered battery charger would be a lot more easy to bargain with than a diamond or a lump of gold.

      •  No, I'm assuming nothing of the kind (0+ / 0-)

        I definitely assume energy prices will continue to increase.

        But I also believe - given the huge investment in solar technology presently - that the cost of generating solar power will decrease.

        And I'm pretty confident that in about 3 years my economic decision threshold will have been crossed, and that's when I expect to deploy.

        I don't believe it's worth putting a $5-10K loss on the table for an emergency power generation capability.  If that's your concern, spend $500 on a 3kW generator.

        •  I'm more interested in a $100 for a solar power (0+ / 0-)

          battery power charger.

          My main concern is that I'd really like to see a charger and know that it works before buying one.

          The windup charger I bought for my cell phone didn't work, just because the connector wouldn't stay in the phone.

  •  When I researched (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Prof Dave

    new Solar technology last year I was shocked at the advancements. This ability to use plastics with a thin layer of energy absorbing material for a fraction of the cost to make (compared to today) went hand in hand with its ability to absorb more energy and the storage of that energy in batteries were correspondingly significant. In fact, speculation was that it would only be limited by the storage capacity of the new batteries.

    I also remember reading a discussion of this advancement and how it could potentially be put into use in each home as its own power generation source. Each home generation its own energy.

    This advancement is definitly worth keeping an eye on.

    "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act."-George Orwell

    by Babsnc on Thu Jul 19, 2007 at 07:00:48 AM PDT

  •  The world will change when this happens (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Prof Dave

    Petroleum won't be quite as important, anymore.
    Once we adapt to the technology our consumption will plummet.
    And we can go adjust to not caring about the Middle East anymore than we do Africa...

    TFYQA - think For Yourself, Question Authority

    by Niniane on Thu Jul 19, 2007 at 07:09:57 AM PDT

  •  CAREFUL: very short lifetime; not practical yet (3+ / 0-)

    There are some important details in the small print. From the Science paper:

    When exposed continuously to irradiation with an intensity of one sun, the tandem cell retained ~70% of its original efficiency after 40 hours and over 60% even after 100 hours. Clearly, more extensive measurements on the degradation of packaged devices are required in future work.

    That is, after just a few weeks of sunlight, the efficiency of the cell decreased by about 1/3rd. Unless they can keep the efficiency up in manufactured versions (and they very well may be able to figure out how to do that), this is not actually practical technology.

    Promising, though! :)

    car wreck : car insurance :: climate wreck : climate insurance

    by HarlanNY on Thu Jul 19, 2007 at 07:27:09 AM PDT

  •  Some interesting things (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Prof Dave

    happening in NJ with regards to solar. It's still a ways off, but I think that they have the right idea...
    Researchers develop inexpensive, easy procedure to produce solar panels.

    "No matter where you go, there you are" -Buckaroo Banzai "I drank what?" -Socrates

    by UEtech on Thu Jul 19, 2007 at 07:52:07 AM PDT

  •  Dude . . . (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Prof Dave, benthos

    What is with the anti-American attitude?

    Did you not read the part of the article where it says the project was a JOINT one with UC Santa Barbra?

    It seems like this is as much of an American discovery as well.

    The welfare of humanity is always the alibi of tyrants. A. Camus

    by TastyCurry on Thu Jul 19, 2007 at 07:55:09 AM PDT

  •  This is INCREDIBLE news. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Prof Dave

    Such a relief.  I don't care if it's the Koreans or the Americans that create this technology, we need it badly.

    Neutralize your personal 7.5 ton/year CO2 footprint.

    by Five of Diamonds on Thu Jul 19, 2007 at 07:58:06 AM PDT

  •  I added the teaching tag (0+ / 0-)

    and will include this diary in my weekly roundup "What have you got to learn?" which will be up around 9 AM EDT.  There will be a link in my sig, then.

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