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Old 05-20-2007, 04:00 PM   #122  
rbinck's Avatar

Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Katy, Texas
Posts: 17,008

Solar and wind are a couple of technologies that have not had the sunlight shined on them enough. Solar makes some economic sense, especially in areas where it is expensive/hard/impossible to run a power line. Examples are the school flashers, remote areas and space. But solar is not a good trade off for petroleum generated energy. There was a study a few years ago that concluded that solar energy was a net negative to the planet in that it took more non-renewable energy to produce the equipment than it would save in the equipment's lifetime. This included the production of the equipment, delivery and installation - all of the energy consumed to install and keep in operation. The exception to this was the solar water heaters, since no electrical components are involved. Now today with advancements in battery technology and efficiencies of photo equipment it may have turned the corner, but it is almost impossible to get a solid report of the current status.

Wind on the other hand does not make economic sense in most areas of the planet where wind is in enough steady supply to power a farm. Coastal areas have the corrosive issues and desert areas have the dusty environments. This causes enormous maintenance costs that are never accounted for when building the farms. They have three wind farms on the big island of Hawaii, where incidentally just about every alternative energy scheme has been tried due to the National Energy Lab being located there. The first farm down at the South Point area is just about shutdown, if not completely shutdown. The last time I was there in 2006 there was not even one turbine running. They were building a new one up in the northern tip of the island near Hawi and should be in operation by now. The third one is in the Waimea area. The problem is after they are built there is not enough income to keep them in repair, so after using tax money to build them (or help) under the guise of research, when they fall into disrepair they are just shutdown. Here I agree with the people in Mass. that don't want the offshore farm.

Rather than sink a lot of money into solar and wind, I feel like other alternative energy sources are a much better bet.

For more information on the Hawaii National Energy Lab see:
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