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solar economics
3 dec 1995
james fischer   wrote:

>    tagdi said:

>> i want to bring nick pine into this. he told me that solar
>> energy is not economical these days,

>  well, that seems strange, given that nick seems to know
>  all the basic math required to make solar-driven systems work.

he thinks he does :-) he finds it easy math, compared to geodesic geometry.
mostly just arithmetic, with an occasional push on the e-to-the-x button of
his calculator... would that more geodesic geometers discover this easy math.
he'd be happy to help, in exchange for some geodesic math tutoring...

>  one would hope that he could do some math with dollar signs in front,

he does that a lot. lately he is impressed by labor rates for house builders,
who seem to charge almost as much as lawyers these days. i guess we need more
tooling and prefabrication, if not do-it-your-selfery. 

>  and figure out how to justify the investment required to implement a design.

i'm not sure what that means, exactly. _i_ think some solar heating investments
are quite well justified, and my house is already mostly solar heated, but
where are the rest of the people who want to build things? that's another step.
as i already said, one way to make solar heating economics look nicer is to
combine it with something else, eg walls. in _how buildings learn_, stewart
brand says:

  the 80-story amoco building (1974) in chicago was originally faced with
  1 1/4-inch-thick panels of prime carrara marble, which soon dished and
  distorted because it was cut too thin. replacing the 43,000 panels with
  2-inch thick granite is taking three years and $80 million.

i suppose photovoltaic walls are cheaper than marble facades:

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