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Solar Energy Is the Fastest Growing Industry In the US 410

Posted by Soulskill
from the exploiting-the-sun's-hard-labor dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "According to Rhone Resch, the last three years have seen the U.S. solar industry go from a start-up to a major industry that is creating well-paying jobs and growing the economy in all 50 states, employing 93,000 Americans in 2010, a number that is expected to grow between 25,000 to 50,000 this year (PDF). In the first quarter of 2011, the solar industry installed 252 megawatts of new solar electric capacity, a 66 percent growth from the same time frame in 2010. Solar energy is creating more jobs per megawatt than any other energy source (PDF) with the capability, according to one study, of generating over 4 million jobs by 2030 with aggressive energy efficiency measures. There are now almost 3,000 megawatts of solar electric energy installed in the U.S., enough to power 600,000 homes. In the manufacturing sector, solar panel production jumped 31 percent. 'The U.S. market is expected to more than double yet again in 2011, installing enough solar for more than 400,000 homes,' writes Resch. 'Last year, the industry set the ambitious yet achievable goal of installing 10 gigawatts annually by 2015 (PDF) – enough to power 2 million more homes each and every year.'"
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Solar Energy Is the Fastest Growing Industry In the US

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  • J/MW? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 28, 2011 @08:10AM (#36906448)

    Jobs per megawatt? What the hell kind of measure of efficiency is that?!

    • Re:J/MW? (Score:5, Funny)

      by goombah99 (560566) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @08:16AM (#36906508)

      Jobs per megawatt? What the hell kind of measure of efficiency is that?!

      Jobs = work/week
      Watt = work/second

      Jobs/MegaWatt = 0.144 E-12

      • In that game everything was measured in Energy, not money. Energy were credits you could use to purchase products, energy could produce more food, produce more minerals, even produce more people. Yet again, SMAC taught me how the future would really work. ;)
    • Re:J/MW? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by arpad1 (458649) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @08:27AM (#36906596)

      It's the kind of measure you use when you don't want to discuss subsidized dollars per job. It's also the kind of measure you use when you don't want to discuss how many non-subsidized jobs it cost to pay for one subsidized job.

      • *Ding*Ding*Ding* - we have a winner.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by elrous0 (869638) *

        Exactly, it's the kind of political measure that politicians love to cite when they pump government money into pipe-dream bullshit like solar. It's the same bullshit you used to hear when they were approving big subsidies for duds like hydrogen fuel and ethanol.

        • Re:J/MW? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by bmacs27 (1314285) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @09:44AM (#36907374)
          Or you know... oil or coal.
        • Solar is not a pipe-dream. Its entirely possible to make it cheaper than nuclear energy. Its just that it takes time to get the technology to catch up. Subsidies and legislation will help push the technology to greater levels. Government subsidies/programs are not always bad, sometimes they help innovate. The prime example is the Apollo program and all the numerous technological advances it produced we use today and don't even think about it. Had a private entity controlled the entire Apollo program, most i
          • People do not consider solar correctly.
            I'm making the investment into solar without government subsidies because it makes sense.

            My current electric bill is $900 a year (apparently low by many standards but I have studly insulation.)

            My goal is to reduce that by $500 per year at current prices.

            Two key things.
            My effective tax bracket is 50%.
            So every dollar saved is worth two dollars earned. If I can save $500, I would have to earn $1000 to have that after tax spending cash.

            Secondly- historical pricing inflati

      • Yeah, really. Once the subsidies get killed off like they did in the late 1970's, solar will once again be put back on the shelf and all those workers will be out of a job. Until the cost per watt is less than that of coal or natural gas (not including regulatory-based cost increases) solar will never be able to compete in the marketplace.

      • generating over 4 million jobs by 2030 with aggressive energy efficiency measures

        This quote is from the description of the article. Yes, how many jobs do the energy efficient measures cost? Im all for solar power since its almost free after it pays for itself, but these measures will undoubtedly cost some jobs.

        • I hate the whole "this will create jobs" attitude. The more productive something is, the fewer jobs it creates. I mean, honestly, rather than having four million people schlep to and from work to keep the lights on, it would be better to have some magical, maintenance-free "free energy" machine that would do it without anyone having to lift a finger. Society as a whole would be much richer.

          But there's the contradiction: we'd be richer, but unemployment would go up, so some of us would be more miserable.

    • by Chrisq (894406)

      Jobs per megawatt? What the hell kind of measure of efficiency is that?!

      One that will ultimately bring back the treadmill.

    • Re:J/MW? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by trout007 (975317) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @08:34AM (#36906654)

      $ per Megawatt hour is the measure of efficiency. Ideally you would want a world where you had unlimited energy that required no money (ie jobs). This is a measure of inefficiency and it shows that Solar is the worst.

      Anyone that claims a project is great because it creates jobs is an idiot. The goal is to have stuff not jobs.

      Batist wrote that all people act as a both a producer and a consumer. In their job they are a producer and in the rest of their life they are a consumer.What do they as a producer want? They want the good or service they producer to be scarce and expensive. What do they as a consumer want? They want the good or service they buy to be abundant and cheap.

      What type of society do you want to live in, one where things are cheap and abundant or scarce and expensive? Any law that favors producers does so by making goods scarce and expensive. Unfortunately like the people that wrote this article it is easy to show how a certain law that favors a producer helps those people. It takes a bit more thinking to explain that the only way to help that producer is by hurting all consumers.

      • Re:J/MW? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by SirGarlon (845873) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @08:47AM (#36906754)

        It takes a bit more thinking to explain that the only way to help that producer is by hurting all consumers.

        Nonsense. Read up on the basic economic principle of comparative advantage [wikipedia.org] and then write us a 500 word essay on how economics are not a zero-sum game.

        • Re:J/MW? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by trout007 (975317) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @09:03AM (#36906914)

          I know all about comparative advantage. When a country can produce more and better sugar because they have the right climate it makes sense to import it to the degree it is cost effective to do so. But if you pass a law restricting import or putting a tariff on it you do so specifically to benefit the domestic sugar producers at the expense of all sugar consumers.

      • Totally. I wish people would agree on what metrics are good for the "economy".

        I mean, if jobs/MW is good for the economy, why not just hook up a bunch of treadmills to generators, chain them together electrically, and let people generate their 300W or whatever that a human is capable of outputting. Boom, massive jobs/MW.
        • by nschubach (922175)

          I've always wondered if the cost/benefit ration was good enough to do this for places like health clubs. Hook up some generators to the treadmills and/or weight machines and let the participants generate electricity while trimming down.

      • Re:J/MW? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @09:12AM (#36907014) Journal
        There is are a couple of unfortunate wrinkles in what would otherwise be true:

        If you don't have money, it scarcely matters what the price of goods is. You are still fucked. For virtually everybody this impecunious, having money = having a job, not selling some bonds or re-allocating your portfolio in the direction of a higher-dividend asset assortment. Given the er... not exactly small... number of people who have fallen off this particular bus(with the additional fun that periods of joblessness do wonders for one's future prospects of being re-hired...) "jobs" as something close to an end in itself does represent a net gain for a substantial number of people.

        Secondly, you say that "Ideally you would want a world where you have unlimited energy that required no money (ie jobs). This is true If and Only If the gains from increased efficiency are allocated in a manner that gives you a slice of the expanding pie. If, however, the pie is expanding; but your share of it is shrinking even faster(because whatever you do is an "inefficiency", you are quickly sliding toward point #1.

        Empirically, a great many people have reason to be concerned, and to have no particular room to hope that even steady encheapening of goods will allow them to do better than tread water, since labor is definitely one of the goods being encheapened. As this [investorvillage.com] cheery little J.P. Morgan report notes, in a discussion of the improvement of corporate margins: "There are a lot of moving parts in the margin equation, but as shown in the second chart, reductions in wages and benefits explain the majority of the net improvement in margins. This trend has continued; as we have shown several times over the last two years, US labor compensation is now at a 50-year low relative to both company sales and US GDP (see EoTM April 26, 2011)."

        Improvements in efficiency do you absolutely no good if somebody with more market power than you have is capturing them. This would appear to be the case. Under such conditions, the people with less market power(ie. about the bottom 95%) don't have a rational interest in efficiency; because they won't capture the gains from it. While(from the perspective of people's actual state of knowledge) the fascination with "jobs" might be largely sentimental populism, it is arguably not economically irrational. If essentially all gains from efficiency(which includes reduction in human resources costs) are being captured by people who aren't you, it is very much in your interest to demand greater inefficiency and attempt to roll back the reduction in demand for you.

        Only in a society where everybody has a boat is the fact that the 'rising tide lifts all boats' a comforting one. If a substantial portion of the population is stuck in the mud, the rising tide is not a welcome development...
      • by Amouth (879122)

        be careful when you write "$ per Megawatt" that can be taken two ways.. "cost per Megawatt" which is what you meant and is efficiency related to consumer and "profit per Megawatt" which is not what you meant and rather is efficiency related to cartels.

      • by AmiMoJo (196126)

        It's early days for solar really, given time it will easily out-perform all other sources for low initial cost and low maintenance. In fact solar thermal collectors are almost there already because the higher costs associated with building new(ish) technology on a large scale are more than offset by zero fuel and very low maintenance costs.

        PV will probably get there too one day, when we figure out how to grow panels cheaply and cleanly using bacteria.

      • Anyone that claims a project is great because it creates jobs is an idiot. The goal is to have stuff not jobs.

        Depends in what world you live. If you live in Utopia, you are right. As you get everything for free and don't need to work.
        In the real world jobs are created by technology shifts. So the more jobs get created by installing more solar power the better it is. But it is like with programmers ;D Such a job increase in your country wont last for ever ... in 30 years there will only people be needed for

    • Millions of cyclists pedaling away.. Now THERE's jobs per megawatt for you!

    • It's 1 Library of Congress for every 1.21 gigawatts. Does that make it more clear for you?
    • Actually, I think that it is a damn good measure of efficiency. The more jobs shows that it is currently INEFFICIENT. The idea is to have the LEAST amount of jobs / MW, along with the least amount of emissions. We need to quit thinking like a 3rd world nation and return to thinking of how to lower the costs (which would be lower the number of jobs) required to get the job done.
  • by suso (153703) * on Thursday July 28, 2011 @08:11AM (#36906452) Homepage Journal

    Jobs per megawatt

    • Bah... the amount of jobs per megawatt will drop for solar as factories get bigger and more efficient.

      Still, it shows that solar has moved from an interesting research topic to a real (profitable) industry.

      • by elrous0 (869638) *

        a real (profitable) industry

        The only reason it's profitable is because the government is artificially inflating it with shitloads of subsidies. If it were TRULY profitable, it would have been developed without those subsidies long ago.

        • They did the same thing with oil. Look it up. Government fostering new technology is NOT a bad thing.

        • by amn108 (1231606)

          You really think the people that have their hands deep in oil extraction would just stand aside and look at how the solar guys develop their thing? I don't think subsidies have much to do with it, my friend.

          • by elrous0 (869638) *

            The evil oil and coal companies don't have to resort to underhanded tactics to fight solar. Their ability to say "We can deliver more power for much cheaper" is enough for them to compete with any solar startup.

    • It'll be great when solar panels get super cheap and easy to set up. I'll just order a roof's worth from Amazon.com and install them myself. Then the "jobs per megawatt" will drop like a rock. And government will set up price floors to keep panel installers from losing their jobs. Let's stop talking about jobs per megawatt, k?
      • and a DIY install on the electricity side can end up very badly with out the right hook ups and the last thing you need is when the power is out is for the panels to back feed to the grid and kill a lineman.

        • by linuxpyro (680927)

          This is a risk you run even with people who don't know what they're doing connecting a generator during a power failure. Hopefully anyone playing with an alternative energy source in their own home (solar/wind, or generator) will do a some of their homework and avoid this. In the case of grid tied solar, pretty much all domestically available grid-tied inverters have very rigorous protection to avoid an islanding situation. Even if they're not installed exactly up to code they should be able to detect th

        • by rtb61 (674572)

          As long as complete kits are supplied with socket connections, "solar panel, battery, rectifier and switch board connection", there shouldn't be too much of a problem. Even better if a set of standards governing default connection standards for a home solar power kit, would allow people to mix and match as long as the equipment adhered to the standards and they used default electrical connections. Excluding off course the wiring the switchboard socket which should require a licensed electrician, beyond tha

        • by nschubach (922175)

          I thought it was standard practice to pull fuses [apogee.net] on either side of your work area... if not, why? It's a quick task to pop one of them out of their clamps with those long fiberglass fuse pullers [electricia...online.com].

    • by rbrausse (1319883)

      according to the International Energy Outlook [eia.gov] the world energy consumption in 2007 was 495 quadrillion British thermal units. If I calculated correctly one year of [Steve] Jobs is worth 16.56 trillion Watt years.

    • by Pieroxy (222434)

      More importantly, is going from 93k to 50k a growth ? It seems like a recess to me, or a typo ;-)

    • People who cite "jobs/production unit" as a relevant metric don't understand the primary purpose of industry.

      Hint: it isn't job creation.

  • by MichaelSmith (789609) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @08:14AM (#36906472) Homepage Journal

    ...no doubt.

  • How much (Score:5, Insightful)

    by georgenh16 (1531259) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @08:14AM (#36906474) Journal
    It seems to me, Higher jobs/MW = Higher cost/MW

    How much of this industry growth is fueled by government subsidies?
    • Re:How much (Score:5, Interesting)

      by tbannist (230135) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @08:24AM (#36906562)

      That's a possibility but not a necessity. You seem to have forgotten that the difference between oil, gas and coal energy generation and wind, solar, geothermal and hydro electric is that you have to pay for inputs to oil, gas and coal. If the plant costs are comparable, then the difference in jobs/MW only needs to be less than what the plant would spend on fossil fuels (and eventually carbon taxes).

      What I think it means is instead of buying tonnes of coal to burn, solar plants pay people to inspect, clean and repair the solar panels.

      As for government subsidies, as I understand there are far more subsidies for coal, gas and oil than there are for solar. I've read the difference is about 10 to 1 each. So for every $1 in government subsidies for solar, coal gets $10, and natural gas gets $10 and oil gets $10.

      • Re:How much (Score:4, Interesting)

        by LehiNephi (695428) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @08:46AM (#36906748) Journal
        It really comes down to what you call "subsidies." Tax deductions for capital investments, which the anti-fossil-fuel crowd incorrectly call a subsidy, is not unique to the oil/gas business, and similar deductions commonly available to *all* businesses in all industries. Tax *credits*, however (without which we wouldn't see much, if any, solar installations), certainly are a subsidy, and are very generous for renewable energy. You also need to take into account the volume of production from each source. If there's 10x as much subsidies (if you want to call it that) to oil/gas as there are to solar, but there's 100x as much oil/gas production, then it stands to reason that the rate of subsidies to solar is 10x that given to oil/gas.

        There's also the minor question of "are we paying for the right thing?" Subsidies/grants/investments for research into renewables is one thing--they have the potential to produce improvements in the efficiency and cost of such systems. But subsidies for production and installation of renewables (as the US gov't currently does) is absolute futility--by doing so, the government is distorting the value of those products, actually providing a disincentive for producers to make those systems more economical on their own.
        • by tbannist (230135)

          I'm not sure I follow the logic that it is a disincentive for producers to make those systems more economical. Given that these subsidies are temporary and not permanent and controversial among the heavily indebted to oil and gas Republicans, it seems like it gives them a very big incentive to become more economical. The subsidies are likely to be taken away as soon as the Republicans can muster enough votes to quash them again. That means, if history is any indicator, soon enough they will be in open co

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by sheehaje (240093)

      I was thinking along the same lines. Seems 93,000 employees for 600,000 houses powered isn't that great of a ration. That's 1 person for 6 houses powered. With the cost of capital equipment and the ongoing maintenance of said equipment, the cost of solar power must be magnitudes higher than fossil fuels.

      • Re:How much (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 28, 2011 @09:39AM (#36907316)

        Your comparison is meaningless. You should be comparing the 93000 employees with the growth rate of solar energy installations, not currently installed effect. 3000 MW already installed require very little maintainance, but new installations require a lot of work per MW. Research, production and installation. A lot of people are employed in the heavily subsidised coal industry as well, but mostly in maintainance and coal production. Not as much in building new power plants.

    • Agreed. If you walked into a business and they proudly proclaimed that they had the highest "job to widget produced" ratio, I would think that screams inefficiency. Wouldn't you rather have the lowest dollar per renewable megawatt hour produced?
    • by clonan (64380)

      Except with every other power system you have fuel costs as well.

      So it takes (making up numbers) 10 people per megawatt to install a coal plant and 15 people per megawatt to install a solar plant. Every year the coal plant spends a few million in fuel and maintenance. Solar has maintenance only and if you are a grid tied system, not much maintenance at all.

      Solar needs to drop about 50% from current prices to be directly competetive with the current subsidized price of coal power. If we dropped the subsid

  • It isn't. Biotech is.
  • by darjen (879890) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @08:26AM (#36906592)

    How much government money has been spent creating these jobs? And what is the percentage of salary for solar workers compared to this government money?

    • Disclaimer: I am from EU.
      Whats wrong with government spending money to create jobs? More appropriate calculation is:

      economical efficiency = (Ns + Us) / Ss.
      where:
      Ns is government spending on Nuclear, oil and coal - env. impact on harvesting fuel and operating, health issues (coal), permanent storage (nuclear),
      Us is government spending on people (currently employed in solar business) if they were unemployed or in jail. Not all 4 million people eventually employed in solar would be otherwise unemployed
      • by darjen (879890)

        I think it's important to ask ourselves how much of the money is actually getting to the workers. And how much the owners of these companies are taking from the pot for themselves. There is also the question of where this money would have ended up if the government hadn't decided to spend it. Perhaps there are other more efficient areas that it could have gone to, which would have helped more people.

        • There is also the question of where this money would have ended up if the government hadn't decided to spend it.

          Probably most of it would have been invested in millions of square yards of ugly stucco siding on mcmansions.

  • by hey! (33014) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @08:29AM (#36906622) Homepage Journal

    The good news: Solar energy is the fastest growing industry in the US.

    The bad news for solar energy: Solar energy is the fastest growing industry in the US.

    The bad news for the US: Solar energy is the fastest growing industry in the US.

  • J/MW not that odd (Score:2, Interesting)

    by belthize (990217)

    Contrary to the above posts Jobs/MW isn't all that odd a metric, particularly if you actually read the article and not the headline.

    One of the claims regarding clean/alternative energy is that, among other things, it will create jobs since the entire industry barely exists compared to where it would eventually need to be scale wise. The paper basically says, ok let's see if that's the case and count number of jobs created. Since the product of an energy plant should be MW not white papers, glossy brochure

  • Solar hot water heaters are becoming popular. They are closed, passive systems that can knock a chunk off an electrcity bill without the full array of solar cells on the roof, and will pay for themselves within five years. We installed our system last winter and it works like a charm - free 60F hot water twenty four hours a day.
    • Not sure if you have a typo or if you are trolling or what... but 60F is only slightly above the temperature of most groundwater. 60C, aka ~140F is a bit more like it, but that seems a bit on the hot side for most hot water.

  • by argStyopa (232550) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @09:00AM (#36906876) Journal

    Any industry heavy with government subsidies - defense, social welfare, medicine, and now 'renewables' - attracts opportunists of both the legitimate and illegitimate sort.

    Legitimate businesses are interested because they know that having a politically-attractive industry can make a lot of low-/no-interest money available as well as making the government paperwork (permits, etc.) all move much quicker than usual. Finally, it's a truism that once established government programs almost never die (for God's sake, the TVA's REA is still alive and flourishing - conveniently renamed to the RUS "Rural Utilities Service" - to legitimize its ever-spreading 'responsibilities' hahaha).

    Illegitimate business (con men, criminals, etc.) are attracted because government investment typically now means at least dollars in the 10^6 range, that until they reach 10^9 these numbers are considered 'trivial' and barely worth notice/mention by Federal agencies (how many pallets of $$billions have been untraceably 'lost' in Iraq/Afghanistan?) - a perfect environment for fraud.

    • by llZENll (545605)

      I totally agree, but at least with solar we are going into debt for seemingly much better reasons:

      1) building infrastructure in our own country
      2) not funding another war or the military
      3) replacing non renewable energy sources
      4) distributing the energy grid

      Our money is and can be spent on much worse things.

  • Too bad solar manufacturing is heavily subsidized by the US government and then the purchase by the consumer is also heavily subsidized by the US government and state governments.
    You can't even get a permit let a lone build a nuclear or coal power plant because of EPA regulations and red tape.
    It's like watching a race between two people running and one person get's hit by a car every third step they take and acting surprised the other runner is doing so well. It's a rigged race and the desired outcome sh
  • As related by Mark Calabria of CATO:

    Prof. Friedman visited China in the early 1960s and was taken by a government official to see a public works project. Chinese workers were building a canal. Friedman was struck by seeing everyone digging the canal with shovels. Friedman asked the official, "why no heavy earth-moving equipment?" The official said, "oh, this is a jobs program." So Friedman then says to the official, "then why don't you just give them spoons instead of shovels to create even more jobs?"

  • It used to be that solar panels were by far the most expensive part of an installation. At the moment, for an installation that can supply 1350 kWh/year, the panels cost E4500, the inverter is E1200, labor is in the region of E1000 as well I suspect. So the panels are still 66% of the total cost. Two years ago, the panels would have cost E8500, or more than 80% of the total cost. When the cost per Watt reaches E1, the panels will be 50% of the installation cost.
    At that point savings in the cost of inverters

  • For a long time I thought a balanced approach to renewable energy was the best strategy but I've recently changed my opinion to favoring solar heavily. Specifically, solar to various hydrocarbons. Even though it's not as efficient as other solar storage techniques, such as pumping water uphill, it directly generates a portable, energy dense medium. The lecture that really changed my mind [wbur.org] came from Cal Tech professor Dr. Nathan Lewis [caltech.edu]. He talked about limits of every energy source and broke down the numbe
  • great to hear that this so underused industry is now coming out of the dark ages, and trying to catch up with the 21st century. Seriously though....its great that we are now moving (although at a snails pace) towards other fuel sources for our country.....screw those shieks and their oil....hopefully we will have a fully self sustaining operation within the next 10 years and kiss oil goodbye forever!

  • by LongearedBat (1665481) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @09:49AM (#36907436)

    For years governments (at least in Australia) have been saying that going green will be bad for jobs and economy, while some of us have been saying there is enormous business potential in green tech, if given the right guidance. (Although in my opinion, the best guidance is probably not subsidies.)

    I reckon that the easiest way to go green is by taking advantage of capitalism, but for some reason the Liberals (blue) just don't seem to see it. It seems they're only on board now that they realise that they're losing votes because of their stance. In Australia I wish there was a cyan party (blue-green) rather than the Greens (which is really red-green).

    Is it just in Australia that it's like this? How about the US and Europe? Can other governments see the business potential in "green technology" other than China?

  • The last time I checked, the real cost of solar electricity was several times bigger than the cost of electricity as we pay it. If that is true, this whole industry survives only because it is subsidised, i.e. we all pay for it.
  • When we built our 32-foot sailboat and embarked upon a 5-year cruise of the eastern North Pacific (read: Washington, Oregon, California, Baja and the Sea of Cortez) we bought two 33-watt solar panels in Oakland, CA and used them throughout the cruise. They worked amazingly well but we did spend a bit of time making sure they were oriented properly. We later augmented them with a wind generator (hand-carved propellor and a 35vdc motor hung in the rigging) which helped the refrigeration system make enough ice per day for two drinks each at sundown instead of just one.

    We were a novelty then...

    Now we're solar in our little 21-foot camp trailer and, guess what..... we're *still* a novelty. Two 40-watt panels (about half the size physically as those we bought in 1981 but roughly the same price in 2010 dollars) still give us all the power we need but we're typically the only solar-powered RV in the campground. And other campers continually ask us if they actually work.

    I'm convinced that distributed solar power is the best answer to the energy problems facing the USA but I've been skeptical that we're educated enough as a culture to get there. Nice to see this piece.

    It's also nice to have been a pioneer.

  • There are now almost 3,000 megawatts of solar electric energy installed in the U.S., enough to power 600,000 homes.

    This would mean that each home consumes 5 kW. That's really low. Most small houses have a 100 A panel if their stove is electric. 200 A panels are pretty common. The reality is closer to 10 kW.

    For comparison, 3 GW is either three large gas or coal thermal plants, or 1.5 nuclear reactors.

    Remember, on top of that, that you cannot store electricity unless your production is near a hydro da

  • Where are the actual solar panels being made? Are you pi55ing money out the door to China yet again?
  • ... would be jobs/megabuck moved. To maximize that measure, we should replace all thoss ATMs with human tellers [marketwatch.com].

    Right?

  • by DarthVain (724186) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @03:51PM (#36912746)

    Don't we want less jobs per energy?

    I can beat Solar easily, and solve both the energy crisis as well as the US unemployment problem.

    Step 1: Figure out how many unemployed people there are in the US!
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_by_unemployment_rate [wikipedia.org]
    9.2 Hooray!

    Step 2: Figure out how many Americans there are!
    Google!
    307 Million

    Step 3: Do some complicated math!
    1st assume a population of 300 and an unemployment rate of 10%!
    30 Million people!

    Step 4: Buy 30 Million exercise bikes and hook them up with dynamos and connect them to the grid!
    You might possibly need an inverter or something fancy.

    Step 5: Hire 10 Million people at minimum wage for each of 3 shifts.

    Step 6: PROFIT!!! :)

    Now you have all the power you need, no unemployment, and as a bonus I solved all your obesity problems you have in the US as well!

    I'll take my Nobel peace prize!

    You're on your own with that whole debt thing though, I'm not touching that one!

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