Thread: Global Warming
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Old 08-31-2011, 07:39 AM   #41
Talon87's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Lafayette, Indiana
Posts: 20,548
There are a lot of false claims being bandied about about the efficacy of solar cells. In particular, T-dos comments that:
But after charging for a day, they'll pretty much be all spent overnight (or the next day). And once you have a cloudy day or stream of them, if you rely only on Solar, you'll be out of power very quickly.
This isn't true. Purdue University recently built a net-zero energy consuming house for under $250,000: here's our local news channel's article on the project from June when it was still under construction, but they completed the project before classes resumed and there was a community Open House held last week for students, city residents, tourists, whomever!, to come by and tour the house. The house was almost entirely built upon two things: (1) better building and (2) solar cells. "Net zero energy consumption" does not mean that the house is off the grid. What it means is that the house generates as much energy as (and usually more energy than) it consumes. Excess energy generated is sold back to the electric company (in our case, Duke Energy) for a nice little bonus. You can read more about the collegiate project sponsored by the Department of Energy here.

One of my professors has a friend who lives in a net-zero energy consumption home in Colorado. According to the professor, the home will be paid off in 10 years' time at which point the friend will begin making $2,500/yr (at current energy pricings) by selling energy back to the power companies. He's already making that $2,500/yr now, of course, but since the home isn't paid off yet, we're not going to say that the home is yet turning profit for him. But he expects that it will. And that's pretty cool.

In New York state, there is a community called Green Acres which, according to Wikipedia:
After a full year of occupancy, from March 2009 to March 2010, the solar panels of the first occupied home in Green Acres generated 1490 kWh more energy than the home consumed.
Now obviously, there's a lot to be said for personal electric consumption and how that would affect these numbers. Someone who lives like a librarian from the 1880s isn't going to be using much more than A/C, lighting, and refrigeration while someone who lives like a typical UPNer may be running two televisions, two computers, and other various electrical appliances at the same time many hours a day. But for the record, Purdue's green home had these very sorts of amenities (cable TV, computer w/ hi-speed internet) and still broke even. So claiming that it can't yet work has already been proven false: not only can it work now, it does work now and is already being implemented.

You can read more about zero-energy buildings here on Wikipedia.

But to make a long story short, solar cells are already generating more energy than people are taking out of them for household living. The real issue, of course, is industry. Industry consumes ginormous amounts of energy. But a small victory is still a victory and we mustn't allow the dissemination of misinformation to stem that tide.
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