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re: a simple starter pv system
8 may 1997
gene a. townsend  wrote:

>what don meant, was...

...different from what he posted? does this remind you of ronald reagan? :-)

>that in remote or "stand alone" power systems, pv panels are ultra-reliable
>compared to the alternative of gas or diesel genset power. they also make 
>no noise, and require little to no maintenance in their 20-30 year lifetime. 

agreed, but don's posting also talked about city pvs, and said pv _systems_ 
were "ultra-reliable," not just the panels, and those systems include
inverters and batteries. he mentioned a 10,000 hour mtbf for a trace inverter,
which implies that they fail about once a year, and that's just a part of the
system. would you call a fridge that fails once a year "ultra-reliable"? 

>they are really convenience machines.  that's why they cost an arm and
>two legs.  they appeal to the upscale eco freaks who want to buy cheap
>remote land that is off grid.  

makes sense. but how will these people heat their houses, and provide water
and septic systems? and where can we find real "independence" these days?
financial independence seems more empowering than electrical "independence."
can anyone stop paying taxes for 2 or 3 years these days? a lot of those taxes
go to ensure cheap oil by bombing iraq and interfering with other countries
in many parts of the world. some estimates put the true cost of oil at about
$7/gallon, after figuring in the military, which we all pay for, but which
mainly benefits oil companies. i don't want to pay for bombing iraq, and i'm
ashamed to be an american when i think about how much oil we waste, and how
much of that waste can be avoided, and how much we are hooked on cheap oil, 
and how arrogant and ignorant and shortsighted it is to kill people to keep
oil cheap. 

if we want to achieve financial independence, as individuals or as a society,
it seems to me we have to heat houses and water with the sun, first, since
those are the major home energy uses for most people. the home energy pie
charts in michael potts' independent home book show that even in hawaii,
about half of a home's energy use is non-electrical. in vermont, about 85% of
a home's energy use is for space and water heating. if users paid for oil more
directly, without the hidden costs of armies and air pollution, the higher
price would help us all more quickly see where to focus our solar efforts.

so 1) the fraction of electrical energy used in a home is small, compared to
what is needed for space and water heating, and 2) it's easy to save lots of
electricity with cfs and so on, thereby reducing that electrical fraction, and
3) the cost/kwh of electrical energy is decreasing, under dereguation. so,
why focus so much on this small and shrinking electrical slice of the home 
energy pie, before using passive solar systems to provide a lot more bang for
the buck, ie joules per dollar, for the much larger heating slice of the pie? 
it's painful to watch such irrational, superficial, and uninformed behavior. 

>remember that "home power magazine" is the general format for this
>newsgroup, and that most of their advertizing is pv panel based.  

so it's not surprising to see a rosy pv picture. let us be more realistic.

>being your own power company is quite reasonable when there is no
>alternative.  getting way out of town is also an excellent choice.

i'm not sure about that, personally. no bookstores, more burglaries,
no community, having to drive long distances to see friends, etc.

>i've noticed that you really don't like pv's, do you nick?    :-)

i think pvs are fine, in themselves, but i'm also fond of the truth, eg true
costs, today. people have given misleading projections (to put it charitably)
of cheap pvs "just around the corner" for over 60 years now. this emperor has
few clothes.

it also irritates me to see houston reporters influenced by oil companies
who own pv companies writing "news" stories urging the public to _demand_ of
their pucs that public utilities invest heavily in pv "green power" and
charge the public for every last nickel, thereby raising electric rates by 
something like a factor of 5, whether most of us want that or not. what a
hypocritical swindle! mainstream environmental groups like edf and the sierra
club seem to be getting into this act as well, in a 4-way club in which the
general public looks likely to lose big, as utilities strive to raise the
price of electrical power back to the days before deregulation. (i realize
this has little to do with "home power," but oil company greed is of the
picture. what else is new?)

>i'm in favor of pv's not for their environmental impact (which i think
>is large rather than small) but for their contribution to peoples'
>independance and getting out of town.  think about ten or twelve $300
>pv panels replacing several diesel generators, and several thousand
>gallons of fuel.  much safer, quiter, nicer smelling, less offensive.

sounds good to me, but why not put the panels in sunspaces, with mirrors
above, and trickle a little water over their faces, to help heat houses? 

reguards :-)


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