Solar Electricity. The time is now. Let's build it!

Just 10,000 square miles of land with CURRENT solar technology (Stirling Solar Engines) would be able to generate enough electricity to completely power the US. I know that sounds like a lot, but it's "only" 100 miles square. We have that much land easily in the southwest, which would be ideal for solar power anyway.

I think I read they are starting up a 4,500 acre solar farm with Stirling Engines. That's not a bad start- it's about 7 square miles. What we learn from projects like that will spring us forward to larger projects.

I don't think nuclear is the way to go, not because of safety concerns, but just because we would create so much radioactive material that the world hasn't seen before. It might be a necessary evil if we can't get the solar thing to work, and perhaps for smaller countries.

We MUST get off of burning fuels for their ability to produce expanding gasses, it's highly inefficient. The vast majority of conventional (non-nuclear)) energy in these fuels is the heat energy, and we just dump it out of the car. If we used that heat to generate electricity or even other exotic heat-to-kinetic energy plans we could easily triple mileage of even the most efficient cars. Easily.

A car requires 61 KWh of energy to go 300 miles. At 15 cents a KWh, that's $9 at full retail price of electricity delivered to your home. At $3 a gallon, how much does it cost you to drive 300 miles? At 30MPG it's $30. (My truck gets 15MPG, so it costs $60, electricity would surely cost $18 to move the truck that far.) That's how efficient making electricity from heat is, compared to making motion from expanding gasses.

We have the financial power to do this, let's find the willpower. Let's start. Let's start building. Surely the price will come down and innovation will come up when there is such a huge market. Perhaps we'll wind up not needing that much land, so we'll wind up selling excess power to Canada or Mexico. Perhaps we'll convert excess to Hydrogen. Maybe the project will fail. Who knows?

Let's give it a try.
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I know we had a semi-discussion about this before, but I just wanted to add that it's easier than ever to have solar on your home, especially, if you live in US states - California, New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut. There's never been a better time to purchase as they are offering HUGE REBATES - up to 70%! I hope eventually all states will follow suit, especially the ones that have the most sun! The solar panels are made with more longevity than ever, and most of them have guarantees up to 20-25 years.

We had solar installed on a significant portion of our house last year & our electric bill was immediately gone. Not only that, but now since we're in the summer months, we actually have a credit with our utility company that will be able to use for heating this winter.

Another great renewable energy source is wind. Obvious a little difficult to have a windmill in your yard in suburbia, but something to consider as part of the bigger picture. The average wind velocity of Earth is around 9 m/sec. And the power that could be produced when a wind mill is facing the wind of 10 mi/hr. is around 50 watts.
When we drove out to get Zeke from our breeder we saw these
enormous wind mills. They were so huge they didn't look real. I
saw on TV after that that the blades on them were 300 feet long. I
don't know what they were for (or what town exactly) but I assume
they were generating electricity.
It seems to me that the powers that be are looking for some new
way to produce energy, but they keep looking past the obvious and
easiest sources. JMHO, but I would think that sun, wind and water
would be the most cost effective to set up as permanent sources of
energy. I hope to go solar when we move.
I'm not too sure about this E85 thing. Seems like a huge outlay to set
up on a large enough scale and there seem to be many middle men to
deal with. Sort of puts us back in the position of overpaying somewhere
in the middle of the chain.
I think we have several great candidates for energy. What will it take
to get it rolling? Where does the big impact have to happen to make
the big cheeses take action? I really don't know how these things
work.

Shellie
I would love to install solare energy system in my house. Sounds cool..

When it comes to cars powered with solar energy, I think a lot of people are less concerned about how far you can go, but about how fast, and how much power the car can pull off.. I would think it's much less than gasoline... For some people that's like a big deal. Especially when people are comparing horse powers, and the rate of going 0-60 mph...
VerveUp wrote:
We had solar installed on a significant portion of our house last year & our electric bill was immediately gone.

Do you have to take those portions of the house off the regular electric grid and isolate them so that they rely solely on the power generated by your solar system? Wow, I'd love to switch my air conditioners on to solar energy. My electric bill is over $300 a month in the summer. I know that installing the system is pricey but what makes more sense than using solar power to cool your house in the summer?
We are right in the heart of windmill territory.
We have them everywhere around here. Makes me wonder...with all the wind we have rates should be much lower.
We have been thinking about going Solar. Though we need to save up for it.
I saw on the internet a small windmill that looked like a duck with big swinging arms/wings that can be mounted on your roof. I wonder if something like that would make a difference?
Bailey's Mom wrote:
Do you have to take those portions of the house off the regular electric grid and isolate them so that they rely solely on the power generated by your solar system? Wow, I'd love to switch my air conditioners on to solar energy. My electric bill is over $300 a month in the summer. I know that installing the system is pricey but what makes more sense than using solar power to cool your house in the summer?


Our system ties right into our utility meter, which was replaced with a special solar meter, and it literally runs backwards when it is sunny. The utility company must buy any electric that we generate & do not use. We also have to option to "green chip" our electric and can sell it to states that have much higher electric rates, like CA.

Below are photos of our addition with the solar installation. The amount of panels that we have should generate an average of 75% of our electric needs year round.

Image

I put this photo in for the relation of our addition to the original 4-story part of our house for scale. We had solar in mind the whole time we were working with our architect and the solar company was great about working out the details with him. The addition is positioned facing south & the pitch of the roof is 45 degrees, the best angle you can have for solar retention.

Image

Here is our new electric meter which ties into our new 220 line (not necessary for solar, but we have a lot of computers & printing equipment). I guess I should have taken a close up so that you could see all of the zeroes on the meter.
Image

Here are the 3 solar inverter boxes which are next to our electric panel. Basically our roof is divided into 3 solar grids.

Image

Since we are tied into our power company, we still lose power if there is an outage. There are special battery back up generator things that you can buy to switch over to exclusively have your own power, but they cost $5,000 with not a long guarantee so we decided against it.

Elissa, since you are in sunny So Cal, you are in one of the best places for solar too. And since CA has such a great rebate, you might want to explore it a little more. Unfortunately the rebates won't last forever. Out of pocket it is still a big chunk of money to get yourself set up this way but the system will pay itself off in approx 5 years so it made sense to us. We never could have afforded it without the NJ Rebate either. Wind turbines I believe costs much less than solar to generate electricity.

If anyone wants more info, please feel free to PM me and I'll give you the company that we dealt with's information.
I am not just in Cali, I am in the Desert. So there is a LOT of sun.
Also a lot of wind.
I believe the duck windmill I saw was fairly inexpensive. Under $1,000
I am going to look more into that. See what it could do as far as lowering the bills.
Wow.. thanks so much for the pictures and detailed info!!
It's soo very cool that the electric company has to buy the portion you don't use.. and that you can sell your electricity!!
It's me and my DH's dream to build our own house that's solar powered.
It looks fantastic!!!
I wholeheartedly agree.


Really good info VerveUp! Definitely something worth looking into.
EVERYTHING in our house is electric. I would love to have solar panels put in. Our power goes off anytime the wind blows hard, so they would be really helpful. Hmm...our house is TINY. I wonder how many panels/how much it would cost for a 1150 sq ft house??

This is something Jason & I have talked about, but we both figured it's out of our price range right now. We both want it put into our "dream home" whenever we save up enough to build it.
That's so cool! I would love to put in solar power when we move to a house where we're going to be for more than a year or two...

Oh, and Elissa, I LOVE those windmills. When I was a kid and we'd be going to Palm Springs, the windmills were our signal that we were getting close. (OR, windmeals as we used to call them)
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