Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.
- President Dwight D. Eisenhower

Sunday, April 29, 2007

PFC Jessica Dawn Lynch, ret.

She could have went along with the lies and gained glory and fame. She instead chose to tell the truth, and live humbly. Truly, she is an American hero.

Ok, when it comes to intellectual arguments, I am a frickin' bulldog. Perhaps it is my light frame and sometimes subdued manner in real life, but when I am convinced I am correct on an issue, I don't give up. Any ways, Chud's personality complements mine very nicely, and so when I can argue with him on technical, esoteric, and obscure subjects, I get all warm and fuzzy inside. Yeah, I am a geek.

Any ways, I am convinced that for some people, generally those paying more than fifty dollars a month in electricity, solar power is an excellent complemnt to grid electricity.

The fact is, the average price of electricity in America is around 13, 14 cents a Kwh. In Detroit, it's .096 dollars a Kwh. For now. However, natural gas prices continue to rise, and will continue to rise. 85 per cent of the electricity produced in Greater Detroit is from fossil fuel projects, mostly coal. Now, America is the Saudi Arabia of coal, and it is not impossible to totally sequester all CO2 emmissions from DTE's coal plants. However, that will cost a great deal, and will most likely either be subsidized by federal tax dollars, or with increased Kwh prices, or, most likely, both.

So, our electricity comes from dirty sources, and it will cost a great deal to clean them up.

It is also entirely possible for DTE to simply decommission our coal plants and go nuclear. However, Nuke plants are at least a decade away, and while the electricity is damn cheap coming from them, building the plant... ain't cheap.

So, more than likely, the cost of new nuke plants will be subsidized with higher Kwh prices.

What I am trying to get at, here, is that to assume that grid electricity will continue to be cheap in Greater Detroit is really, really foolish.

Finally, paying for grid electricity, when you are a homeowner, is really silly. Now, people still paying off their mortgages, or college loans, or something like that, have more pressing financial issues than their electricity bills. However, to rely entirely on the grid for your power, is to always lose money.

Ok, let's say a family in Greater Detroit consumes 700 Kwh a month. They've done everything to lower their consumption; they have Compact fluorescent lights, they have timers for their outdoor lights... they turn off the TV when they are done watching it, et cetera. Let's just say it's a big family.

700 Kwh a month comes out to 67.2 dollars in outgo every month. That means that this family "buys" a 150 watt, square meter solar panel in grid electricity every 11 months and few days. Neglecting the costs of paperwork and the 2,000 dollar grid-tied inverter, that panel will pay itself off, at a flat rate of .096 Kwh, in 21 years and nine months. Solar panels last for at least 25 years, and some people have, with proper maintenance, gotten panels to last as much as forty years.

The fact of the matter is, if you are already "paying" for a panel within a reasonable time frame, you might as well buy one. And then later, another one, and so on. It will lower your outgo, reduce the amount of pollution being released into the air, increase the security of your electricity supply (the most electricity is consumed during the summer, WHEN THE SUN IS SHINING), and... will not only pay for itself, but actually pay for future panels.

Now, you should also remember that the 150 watt, square meter panel is not the end-all, be-all of panels. There are panels coming that are forty per cent efficient. However, they are REALLY expensive (right now), and not nearly as prevalent as the panels I have been using in my examples. Still, the world is not going to run out of silicon any time soon, and silicon refining and solar panel fabrication plants can and are coming online at a much more rapid rate than major power installations are coming online.

It simply makes sense to me to advocate for solar power.


Drunken Chud said...

i never said solar was bad. you keep missing this part. i simply said that MAKING MONEY was not an argument, and pointed out how long it would take for them to pay for themselves.

Stepho said...

Solar does make lots of sense in the long run, but there is also lifestyle to consider. How many people our age stay in the same house or apartment building for years upon years? Now, if everyone switched at the same time so that moving wouldn't affect the investment, it might solve that transience problem. I just can't see anyone I know spending the money when they're going to move in five years anyway.

Scooter said...

Well, unlike shingles or insulation, you can take your panels and inverter with you. Now, panels are kind of fragile, but you can transport them with ease if you put your mind to it.

evilsciencechick said...

not if you live in a condo. our choices are limited. even if there was a way to stick solar panels on our balconies, the association rules would prohibit it.

Stepho said...

Hrm...you could disguise the solar panels in some way perhaps. Saying they're part of a religious alter, maybe? "That's not solar energy, Mr. Condo Manager, that's just my alter to the Beast. Sorry about the noise last night."

Amy said...

I agree with you about Jessica Lynch, at least.