The Sun

I see it as an enormously powerful orb at the center of our world…a big, burning ball of yellow fire that will produce CO2-free electricity for millions more years. Now that’s sustainability!

In the future, we will have more hammer-and-nail jobs for solar installers and increased “green” manufacturing on planet Earth. No one will think twice about the free-floating photons splashing down upon every available rooftop to charge up our houses and our cars.

Some day soon, the electric plug-in car will be in the majority of garages in California and throughout the Sunbelt states. And solar-electric panels will be on the multitude of roofs from San Francisco to Miami providing the power for those rechargeable cars.

It’s the cynosure of our sky. A naturally occurring, readily available, renewable source of energy: The Sun. Don’t look at it too long, though. It’s so powerful it’ll hurt your eyes.

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The manufacturing plants can run off renewable energy, too. Imagine solar-electric panels on the roofs of the solar factories.

We need silicon to make the solar cells into semi-conductors. Or we can use copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGs). We need aluminum for the frames and copper for the wiring. Mining would be required, but I don’t see that as an out-of-the-norm business expense of manufacturing.

The price of solar would also be tied to the commodities markets. Prices of these materials will go up as demand for solar increases. So the sooner you go solar the better for your wallet…the price of electricity from the grid keeps going up too, but the state rebates are disappearing. However, thanks to the 2008 Democrats, the 30% federal tax credit is good until 2016.

* Yes, you can write off 30% of the price of a solar system: you can take that as a lump-sum payment or amortize it over 5 years for federal taxes, 13 years for California state taxes. The 2005 Republican-led Congress instituted the 30% tax credit for commercial properties, but knee-capped the payment at $2,000.00 for residential properties, aka people’s homes. The Democrats made it 30% for everybody.

http://www.dsireusa.org/incentives/incentive.cfm?Incentive_Code=US02F

The environmental impact of manufacturing solar-electric panels with “green” technology pales in comparison to the puff of black smoke coming from coal-burning factories. We will be using natural gas as a transition fuel for the next 25 to 50 years, because it is the cleanest burning of the fossil fuels and we have it in great abundance under our soil. However, as a fossil fuel, natural gas produces carbon emissions when burned to make electricity.

That’s why we look to the Sun.

Eventually the solar industry can power itself, so that the process from manufacturing to installation to everyday use is CO2-free. That way we benefit our environment—no coastal flooding from icecaps melting. We keep the icecaps where they are. We also put a cap on the cost of running our homes, offices and cars. In the process we become energy independent and improve our national security.

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There are different solar panels with different price points. Silicon panels outperform all others–meaning you need fewer panels. Thin-film and CIGs are priced lower but they are not as efficient –meaning you need more panels for the same energy.

Solar-electricity works.

It spins your meter backwards!

As long as the panels are pointed toward the equator they will make electricity for a bell-curve distribution over a 365-day year (assuming minimal shading on solar area). It’s all about spring & summer sun–longer hours of sunlight mean more kWh (kilowatt hour) production. We compensate for this bell curve when sizing a system to offset the home’s average monthly kWh usage.

There isn’t one kind of solar panel, just like there isn’t one kind of car.

You have to remember, there are a lot of different kinds of houses and buildings out there. Some people have roof for days and they can put up twice as many panels, no problem. Other people have limited usable roof so they need more efficient panels. If you need/want more output for the same footprint, you can get a top of the line SunPower panel. If roof space is not an issue, you can get an Evergreen panel. Both are U.S. companies.

http://us.sunpowercorp.com/

http://www.evergreensolar.com/

There are dozens of other choices, too.

Sanyo, BP, Mitsubishi, Sharp, FirstSolar, Suntech, and on and on.

FirstSolar is also a U.S. company:

http://www.firstsolar.com/en/index.php

What you want to know is kW output: the amount of kilowatts that the system will generate.

For example: a 5kW solar system in California would offset about 825 kWh per month or 9,900 kWh per year. Why? Because in California, we get about 5.5 usable hours of sunlight per day (averaging over a 365-day year). We get about 4 usable hours in the winter and about 7 usable hours in the summer.

Solar is part of the solution to our energy problems.

“I got sunshine on my mind

I know it’s shining all the time

The Day is split between the dark & the light

We keep spinnin’ around and around, all right”

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Also, most solar-electric panels have a 25-year warranty (usually covering about 90% of electricial output for the first 10 years and 80% of wattage for the full 25 years)–this is the industry standard. The anticipated lifespan of a solar-electric panel is typically 40-plus years.

Solar-electricity works to spin your utility meter backwards!

Fande = Fact & Evidence; Cande = Conjecture & Exaggeration

Bring your Fande, leave your Cande!

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