Friday, May 27, 2016

Clear-cuts for the environment!

In Buffalo, MN, the developers of a solar power complex have gotten things going by clear-cutting 11 acres of mature hardwood forests.  So even apart from the energy used to create solar cells (close to what you get out of them in reasonable use) and the environmental impact of the wafer fabs and other things you need, you've got environmentalists who are blissfully unaware of large treeless areas suitable for mounting solar panels.  Like, for example, Buffalo High School, the Buffalo Civic Center, or any number of other large buildings with flat roofs.. It's worth noting that mounting them there would also reduce cooling costs by keeping heat away from the actual roof and provide power at peak times for A/C.

But of course, installing these things sensibly appears to be beyond the ability of people making their money not from solar power, but rather from federal subsidies.  Three Bronx Cheers for green brown energy!


Hearth said...

I am head-desk because the very instant that SDG&E hit its mandatory solar participation line, they changed the incentives to use solar power, charging those who put in panels more for transfer or whatever.

Gee. We live somewhere it's nearly always sunny, endless flat roofs, and you want to stop encouraging solar use? Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Even more stupid when you notice that they have suggested rotating brownouts in the height of summer because they can't generate enough power for all the AC demand.

Do you think they shoot people with common sense as soon as they take office, BB??

Bike Bubba said...

What's going on is that they lose the full cost of electricity, but are still on the hook for distribution networks, I'd guess. But the concept of working together on this sort of thing kinda escapes us.

Hearth said...

They charge us a bit for this, which I'm fine with (after all, I'm not depending solely on solar batteries). They are going to charge the next group of solar owners more, which has me shaking my head. Electricity here is one of the most expensive in the country, btw, and the cost of solar panels runs less than 10% of your home's value. 5% is closer.

I like your idea of all the grocery stores and such being covered with solar panels. It's not like those roofs are beautifying anything as is.

Bike Bubba said...

The funny thing about the flat roofs is that they are really a dumb idea in rainy climates like ours--water likes to flow down and "down" is often through a flat roof--unless you need to put something on top of it. Like solar panels or HVAC units.

Might be a load issue in some cases, but people really need to start thinking outside the box here.

Hearth said...

Outside of the box, exactly. We should look to our natural resources --- which vary by area --- to generate clean power. Cleaner. And LOOK at how clean the power is. If it costs more oil in fertilizer to grow corn to make ethanol, it's not clean power.

Solar is probably not the best option in Seattle. It really does seem like we lose common sense when we talk about solutions. Like, there's going to be ONE solution for everyone and everywhere. Not. But here, where so much of the square footage is covered by buildings, and we get very little rain, almost never get hail, it's almost insulting that we don't have solar panels on everything. It's wasteful.

Maybe you guys should invest in water power? Wind? Is there some sort of power we can generate by the freezing/thawing of ice in the winter?

Bike Bubba said...

:^) Wind is good, but at night. And eagles. Need I say more? Water? Most developable rivers--keep in mind the highest point to Lake Superior is only 2300' down to 600' and there isn't much above 1500'--were developed in the 1930s. Plus, fish.

Best things I've figured out are biomass, which is sadly pretty dirty (I had a lot of friends get new deep wells paid for by the local corn likker plant, which had drained the higher water table), and things like basic insulation. You want something that pays off quickly, you build with 2x6s instead of 2x4s. 2-3 year payoff and a better home to boot.