Solar power putz's
The Nytimes has an article today about how solar power still doesn't
make economic sense. They use an example for a house with a system
that costs $54000, which to me seems excessive. The only way solar
power will make sense for anyone is to first cut down the demand side
of the equation, you can't solar power conventional air conditioning!
I took a class a few years ago on designing and installing PV systems,
and I learned from that class that it is possible to either be a shark
and screw people out of a lot of money and sell them things they don't
need, or you have to live like the instructor did, in a crappy 30 year old
camper. The 3rd way to live would probably entail me continuing to work
in the oilfield while selling PV on weekends.
To me, the people that installed a $54000 system are sharks. A rule of
thumb would guestimate a pv system costing $15/watt installed. So a $54000
system would be a 3.5 kilowatt system, and if New Jersey gets 4-5 usable
hours of sunlight per day, then they would generate about 505 kwh/month,
to try and meet the demands of a macmansion.
The better way that makes economic sense is to cut back on electricity usage,
use gas for heating, cooking and drying. Then replace all lights with florescents
that it's possible to put up with, then cut out all the thief loads and turn off
TV's, vcr's and computers that aren't in use with powerstrips. Every watt
you save on load saves you $15.
In New Jersey you could probably live without air conditioning, in Houston,
not so much. In order to try and be green in Houston you'd really need a
ground loop heat pump, which is probably the most cost effective thing
to do in areas that need aircon.
The ideal isn't just to spend money to propitiate the green gods [A la al gore]
or to live in caves without internet, but to sensibly cut back and save energy and
money, then put up a PV system that will cover the load.