Solar Power Won't Save Us

Last year, the Department of Energy released a report called "20% Wind Energy by 2030." The broad sweep of this study makes it a must-read for investors in wind companies like A-Power Energy Generation Systems (Nasdaq: APWR  ) or anyone hoping to see king coal dethroned.

I'm hardly spoiling the ending by telling you that this hypothetical wind buildout would require 15 million acres of land (more than all the farmland in Indiana), and under "optimistic assumptions" could cost around $197 billion, before netting out large expected fuel cost savings. The study's authors noted that the plan was "ambitious," but that it "could be feasible" if certain major obstacles are overcome.

The DOE is now looking to do a similarly comprehensive analysis with regards to solar power. The Solar Vision Study was launched in June, with publication expected by next spring. I expect the report to be an eye-opener for SunPower (Nasdaq: SPWRA  ) and First Solar (Nasdaq: FSLR  ) fans. Both companies, I should mention, have representatives on the study's steering committee.

Fortunately, we don't have to wait for the full report to gather some important insights. In late October, all of the study's various working groups presented progress reports at a workshop in Anaheim.

Solar Vision coming into focus
First off, this study is considering a wider range of outcomes, as it probes the feasibility of solar power meeting 10%-20% of U.S. energy demand by 2030. At the low end, Solar Vision's capacity projections still come in near the top of estimated ranges put forth by past studies. The 20% scenario pushes well beyond these. For example, Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) last year included 250 gigawatts of solar in its Clean Energy 2030 proposal. Solar Vision's 10% scenario has solar at 255 gigawatts, while the high case goes to 420 gigawatts.

As a point of reference, U.S. installed solar electric capacity (as distinguished from solar water heaters and other thermal devices) was just 1.5 gigawatts at the end of 2008. Talk about trees growing to the sky! No wonder so many dollars have been thrown at money pits like Energy Conversion Devices (Nasdaq: ENER  ) .

PV versus CSP
Under both scenarios, concentrated solar power (CSP) and solar photovoltaics (further sub-divided into utility and rooftop PV) contribute fairly equally to the generation mix. Does that mean investors, by piling into PV players like Trina Solar (NYSE: TSL  ) and Suntech Power (NYSE: STP  ) , are scrambling over perhaps just half of the future solar pie? That depends on whether you measure by actual generation, or "capacity." The latter term can be misleading.

CSP has a better capacity factor than PV, so fewer megawatts need to be installed to generate the same number of kilowatt-hours that PV produces. Thermal storage technologies, such as United Technologies' molten salt power towers, widen the gap even further. This may explain why folks like Google and Siemens are fixating on the CSP side of solar. We plebes lack investment options in this realm, but I'm sure that will change.

No magic wand required, but clairvoyance helps
The working group assigned to PV cost reduction and scale-up opportunities presented some good news and some bad news. A key insight they shared was that no technological breakthrough is needed to get costs down. SunPower investors are likely familiar with the company's roadmap to a 50% cost reduction by 2012. There's no magic to it -- just a lot of hard work. The group then noted that "rapid market and technology change make us less confident of predictions." That strikes at the heart of why I've yet to invest a dime in this space.

Deus ex machina
The CSP gang celebrated the fact that the Southwest "provides the best solar resource in the world for CSP." They also warned that -- as with wind power -- long-distance transmission infrastructure is a major challenge. As with the DOE's wind report, I wouldn't be surprised to see Solar Vision assuming a major transmission buildout by ... somebody out there somewhere. The grid integration working group poses the simple question "Who pays?" I'm afraid there's no simple answer.

Speaking of paying, the finance working group has yet to venture a preliminary guesstimate as to the manufacturing price tag on all these solar systems (at $2/watt, this would be upwards of $500 billion under the 10% scenario), but these folks have ballparked project costs at $1 trillion to $2 trillion.

This is starting to make wind power sound like a steal!

Suntech Power, First Solar, and Google are all Rule Breakers recommendations. See what other high-growth markets the team is tackling with a free 30-day trial.

Fool contributor Toby Shute doesn't have a position in any company mentioned. Check out his CAPS profile or follow his articles using Twitter or RSS. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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  • Report this Comment On December 08, 2009, at 3:43 PM, thejunglejaguar wrote:

    What exactly is the dollar amount thrown in the Energy Conversion Devices pit?

    ECD has survived on european tax payer money. The US has started and subsequently stopped and started and stopped solar programs. It's exactly what you should NOT do with a supply chain. Stupid as we want to be...

    Fool on, Toby... but not sure it's a capital F.

  • Report this Comment On December 08, 2009, at 5:37 PM, braded27 wrote:

    Is there anyway to have the articles from Motley Fool NOT show up under my stocks latest news list? I'd greatly appreciate keeping my news list showing only links to articles that provide intelligent insight into investing.

  • Report this Comment On December 08, 2009, at 6:35 PM, DDHv wrote:

    For an individual interested in solar, a "reality" investment in solar hot water & house heat may be the best option. In North Dakota, I'm currently bracing my south roof (DIY to save costs) and looking into evacuated tube solar collector design & costs and Solarwall design & costs. On my budget, it is important to look to the cash flow results!

    Besides, if we get into a real energy crunch, my present method of wood heating may have competition and not stay practical. In this climate, one wants multiple redundant when it comes to heating buildings!

  • Report this Comment On December 08, 2009, at 7:08 PM, XMFSmashy wrote:

    thejunglejaguar,

    ENER has raised the following amounts of equity capital over the past few years:

    FY05: $122.3m

    FY06: $397.8m

    FY07: $11.9m

    FY08: $112.5m

    FY09: $2m

    That's $646.5 million, over 1/3 more than the firm's present market cap.

  • Report this Comment On December 08, 2009, at 7:23 PM, sailrick wrote:

    "I'm hardly spoiling the ending by telling you that this hypothetical wind buildout would require 15 million acres of land"

    But you failed to mention that wind only uses 2.5% of the land where it is sited. That comes to 375,000 acres.

    A typical turbine has an actual foot print about the size of a parking space and the turbines are widely spaced. This means they can co-exist with farming or open natural habitat.

    According to one study, because of the above, windpower has the smallest land footprint of almost any other energy source.

    Want to pay for the$197 billion this would cost? Eliminate all subsidies to fossil fuels, and the savings would pay for the wind buildout in 4 years time. 4 years at $49 billion a year. Why not? Ok how about just the subsidies to Oil at $39 billion/year. Does the most profitable and biggest economic enterprise in the history of the world need subsidies?

    Regarding the issue of CSP verses PV solar, I believe they both have their place in the overall picture. CSP excells at large scale centralized power, while PV provides distributed power over a wider range of available sunshine. It seems to me that we need both. Which is not to say that PV cannot work in utility scale projects. Nanosolar says they can build a complete system at a cost directly comparable to building a new coal plant, or about $2.00/watt. The difference is that it will never need coal, or create emissions or huge coal fly ash slurry ponds or require blowing off the tops of mountains. I know, they are not directly comparable because of capacity factor.

    "Speaking of paying, the finance working group has yet to venture a preliminary guesstimate as to the manufacturing price tag on all these solar systems (at $2/watt, this would be upwards of $500 billion under the 10% scenario), but these folks have ballparked project costs at $1 to $2 trillion.

    This is starting to make wind power sound like a steal!"

    Depends which solar you are talking about. CSP's power is more valuable becuase of the heat storage and reliable sunshine in the southwest, which make it non intermittent, and dispatchable. The ability to dispatch dependable power on a large scale makes it the one renewable that can replace base load coal fired plants. Read what Joseph Romm has to say about CSP at Climate Progress. As far as needing new HVDC transmission lines, wind and geothermal need them too, so let's build them.

    You asked who will pay for new transmision lines. Here's one slant on that

    http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=a-solar-grand-plan

    In this plan, it is assumed that subsidies would help build the CSP solar farms, while the transmission lines would be built by business interests who would eventually turn a profit on them. Although they put more emphasis on concentrating PV solar than on CSP, the general idea shows what is possible with solar. Heat storage makes CSP the best choice.

    By the way, their total subsidy cost estimate is $400 billion between now and about 2050, which is about how much we give the oil companies every ten years. That's to provide 69% solar by 2050.

    Look at what is being proposed for Europe and the Mediterranean area. Solar thermal plants (in North Africa mainly), that would power Europe, the Mideast and North Africa, as well as providing hot water and seawater desalinization.

    http://www.solarserver.de/solarmagazin/solar-report_0207_e.h...

    This TREC plan would build HVDC lines to distribute the power.

  • Report this Comment On December 08, 2009, at 7:36 PM, cassjon wrote:

    Think maybe Toby is short on Solar Stocks and feeling a bit left out these days ?

  • Report this Comment On December 09, 2009, at 12:19 AM, XMFSmashy wrote:

    sailrick,

    Thanks for the constructive comments! I'm familiar with your examples and would like to follow up on some of these ideas in future articles.

    cassjon,

    My positions are disclosed at all times on my user profile. Thanks for discrediting all the effort that went into this article, though.

  • Report this Comment On December 09, 2009, at 12:23 AM, predfern wrote:

    I suggest going to truthaboutenergy.com for more information. Here are some numbers. The average cost of producing electricity from nuclear power plants is 1.72 cents/kwh. The best solar concentrator power plant costs 20 cents/kwh. Wind costs 3 times as much as nuclear. These costs will never go down because of the low capacity factor - they only work when the sun shines or the wind blows. Physicist Bernhard Cohen has shown that breeder reactors using uranium extracted from seawater will provide plenty of energy for billions of years until the sun burns out and the cost of electricity will increase by less than one percent.

  • Report this Comment On December 09, 2009, at 3:35 AM, jaketen2001 wrote:

    Toby,

    This article fails to account for the true cost of our current energy. If we factored in the cost of having our navy patrol oil shipping lanes, waging multiple wars that were almost entirely about oil, and were funded by oil, and factored in the cost of our 'diplomacy' in the middle east, all of the middle east, because it all just about oil, the health costs of using fossil fuels to our children, the environmental degredation cause by warming that we then attempt to mitigate, the pain and suffering forced upon indigenous peoples in Central and South American and Africa and the Far East, and the Middle East while you are at it.

    I believe a thoughtful, complete analysis would show that oil is in fact more expensive. And seeing as how it is a finite resource, why should we not have the foresight to plan for the future. And the price of oil will continue to go up anyways.

    Why don't you sketch out the following scenario: Calculate how much money we would save it we cut our foreign diplomacy to Egypt and Israel by 80% (I see the enemies of Israel as funded by oil and if thier revenue was reduced, their ability to fight would also reduce, sorry to sound wacko in an energy article but it is part of the picture), didn't have the Iraq and Afganistan wars (about and funded by oil and people who are rich from oil), reduced our troop levels around the world by 50% (and saved on all those medical and retiree costs), cut the rate of asthma and other air-related illnesses in the US by 50%, with all of the associated lost time from work and reduced health care expenses. Get rid of whatever amount you feel like is justified from the health costs of mountain top coal mining. Then just talk about some of the other stuff. The cost in lives. Propping up oil regimes. OPEC. They love us, they are our friends. Russia is too. What would the equivalent of the 90,000 tons of diplomacy do to them if we cut our oil consumption in half? Polar ice caps, whatever. Low lying islands. Who needs them? Not us! Until we do. Oh yeah, Katrina.

    Everything has to do with everything. And just selectively using the facts you did distorts the cost of fossil fuel.

  • Report this Comment On December 09, 2009, at 1:37 PM, dsnbuild wrote:

    I burn a wood fire everyday at my house (0 degrees or 95 degrees outside). Alternative Energy is fine, the problem is that the Elites in DC promote it but don't participate. The hypocrisy is mind numbing. Until the Snots on Martha's Vineyard allow windmills, I will keep burning firewood and driving my SUV.

    We do not need to be told what to do. The blowhards need to lead by example. Until then, keep the pie-hole closed!

  • Report this Comment On December 09, 2009, at 2:02 PM, dsnbuild wrote:

    Just so that I understand you, lomax, is it better to live by candle light and grow veggies in the garden and where hemp and boil hot water over a carbon-neutral flame? I didn't say that I do not believe in Alternative Energy, I was merely pointing out that the " Uptight Policy Makers" would rather force the "workers" to obey while they refuse to observe the rules. It is highly unlikely that widespread consumption of AE will occur while Al Gore and his cronies race around the globe on private aircraft promoting something that may not exist.

    If they would allow the Windmills to be built instead of crying that "they will ruin our view" there may not be so many skeptics such as myself!

  • Report this Comment On December 09, 2009, at 6:03 PM, mostofall wrote:

    You can make all the energy from every alternative source you want. From cow poop to the sun's rays, and the wind to blow it all around.

    It won't mean a hill of beans if you don't have the means to deliver all this energy to the people who need it. We should be concentrating on our failing infrastructure i.e. the POWER GRID before we start changing the way its powered.

    Even if this ever were to happen I would break the law to enjoy a soothing fire on a cool midwestern night

  • Report this Comment On December 09, 2009, at 7:00 PM, edyboom223 wrote:

    hi

  • Report this Comment On December 10, 2009, at 12:26 PM, dsnbuild wrote:

    Wide awake Lomax, just dizzy from all of the nonsense being thrown around. Big Oil is not the problem, nor is Capitalism. I do not know about you, but I am in no mood to have the Polit Bureau telling me what kind of car I can drive, or what temperature to set my thermostat, or what type of water to drink, or what doctor to see, or for that matter, where I can invest and how much profit/income I can earn.

    Enough of the doomsday threats. Mother Earth is fine. If you want to minimize your "carbon footprint" great. I am perfectly happy with mine at the moment!

    Always searching for the next big profit - without the intrusion of the Elites!

  • Report this Comment On December 10, 2009, at 1:42 PM, wow33 wrote:

    Anybody considering investing in wind energy should watch the below video. Would you want to live near a wind farm?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MbIe0iUtelQ

  • Report this Comment On December 10, 2009, at 7:54 PM, blesto wrote:

    From PBS Nova "Saved by the Sun" show transcript;

    There is a growing consensus in Washington that America should be producing more renewable energy. But so far, there is no movement to create a national incentive program like Germany's.

    But one trend is showing real promise here, and it's not being led by government but by business.

    This Whole Foods market is in Ridgewood, New Jersey. At first glance it's pretty much like any other Whole Foods: neat and bright, with lots of great looking food at premium prices.

    CASHIER (Whole Foods): Hi, would you like paper or plastic?

    NARRATOR: But there is one thing different about this particular store. The roof is covered with solar panels. They look expensive, but Whole Foods didn't pay a cent for them. They're owned by a solar energy power company called SunEdison. Its founder and CEO is Jigar Shah.

    JIGAR SHAH (SunEdison): We help companies like Whole Foods move to solar power. SunEdison and its investors pay all of the upfront costs for these solar systems, and Whole Foods promises to buy the power over a long-term contract.

    NARRATOR: Jennifer McDonnell is a Green Mission specialist for Whole Foods.

    JENNIFER McDONNELL (Whole Foods, Green Mission Specialist): And we use a lot of energies. And solar power powers everything in this store, from lighting to the steamers, slicers, the coolers, freezers, anything that requires electricity, even the registers.

    So it's important for us to look at ways to make that energy clean and be aware of the amount of energy that we use.

    NARRATOR: Solar panels on this store complement, do not replace energy from the grid.

    JIGAR SHAH: The solar power only produces 15 percent of the store's use all year around. But it produces between 50 and 100 percent of its energy needs during the daytime. And that's the time when the power from the utility company is the most expensive.

    NARRATOR: This is especially true in the summer.

    LARRY KAZMERSKI: During the summer months, when you have all this air conditioning demand during the day—you know, it's 95 degrees with 98 percent humidity outside—you're not paying seven cents a kilowatt-hour. You're paying up to 30 cents a kilowatt-hour during the summer.

    JIGAR SHAH: Whole Foods' air conditioning bills are the highest when the sun is beating down on their roof. That's when these solar panels are producing the most power.

    NARRATOR: So at these peak hours, solar power is cheaper than grid power. And there's more potential energy savings for the store.

    Electricity rates fluctuate with the price of fossil fuels. And since most experts expect fuel prices to rise, the SunEdison deal has an added benefit for Whole Foods.

    JIGAR SHAH: We are guaranteeing Whole Foods a fixed price, for 20 years, from these solar panels. That's something that their traditional utility company can't promise them.

    More at; http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/transcripts/3406_solar.html

    If SunEdison ever goes public, I'm there.

  • Report this Comment On December 10, 2009, at 10:09 PM, petebow4 wrote:

    Check out high voltage DC (HVDC).

    It works well to transfer large amounts of power long distances ( contrary to the belief that AC is a better option, DC does not suffer from the high capacitance that occurs on an AC line ).

    Furthermore, DC power is what we mostly use these days. Think about all the devices you have in your home, most of them either convert AC to DC or they could be made to run on DC (think toaster or electric oven). If we transmitted DC power to homes, there would be less power lost; DC/DC conversion loses less power than AC/DC conversion. And you would lose all those AC/DC wall transformers that waste power ( go touch one... is it hot? there's your power being wasted ).

    I think alternative energy is important, but as several other people have mentioned, the transmission of this power is the biggest issue. HVDC will reduce the loss in transmission and would allow a more diverse and spread out power system.

    Check out Ned Mohan's "First Course on Power Systems" for equations and definitions of AC and DC power transmission (and where I learned about HVDC).

  • Report this Comment On December 10, 2009, at 10:09 PM, petebow4 wrote:

    Check out high voltage DC (HVDC).

    It works well to transfer large amounts of power long distances ( contrary to the belief that AC is a better option, DC does not suffer from the high capacitance that occurs on an AC line ).

    Furthermore, DC power is what we mostly use these days. Think about all the devices you have in your home, most of them either convert AC to DC or they could be made to run on DC (think toaster or electric oven). If we transmitted DC power to homes, there would be less power lost; DC/DC conversion loses less power than AC/DC conversion. And you would lose all those AC/DC wall transformers that waste power ( go touch one... is it hot? there's your power being wasted ).

    I think alternative energy is important, but as several other people have mentioned, the transmission of this power is the biggest issue. HVDC will reduce the loss in transmission and would allow a more diverse and spread out power system.

    Check out Ned Mohan's "First Course on Power Systems" for equations and definitions of AC and DC power transmission (and where I learned about HVDC).

  • Report this Comment On December 10, 2009, at 11:01 PM, sevenofseven wrote:

    Get a life Lomax.

  • Report this Comment On December 11, 2009, at 7:35 AM, Fool wrote:

    Several points need understood. First, there is no single answer to our energy needs! Diversify that portion of your portfolio. Second, when considering solar, there is NO better, efficient, method than nature's photosynthesis. With that knowledge and a concern about dumping CO2 from fossil fuels into our atmosphere, bio-fuel should play a large part of the picture in the future. Plants and trees use CO2 in growth and anytime that decays (think leaves and dead wood) it is released back to the atmosphere. We can gain energy from this cycle without adding to the total amount of CO2 in the atmosphere ("current carbon")! Biofuels (including wood waste) can be burned as cleanly as any other fuel and have to be part of the energy picture if we're serious about global warming. Consider investing in companies that produce the small "community energy plants" in Austria.......We could learn a lot about creating local jobs, reducing transportation costs, and being more enviromentally friendly with our energy needs!!! Check it out on the web and invest some mental energy in the process. On a related note why doesn't anyone ever mention the MOST significant greenhouse gas that has the biggest impact on the earth? Clue: It's not CO2.........Oh I get it! There's no chance of creating guilt and therefore possible responsibility (or taxation) on water vapor.

  • Report this Comment On December 11, 2009, at 1:19 PM, Majkic wrote:

    As a VP of engineering working in the electrical/electronic energy control sector (motors, generators, controls...) I take a lot of comfort from a simple statistic:

    The total amount of solar energy falling on land across the globe ech day exceeds mankind's energy consumption by a factor of 6,000 (yes, that's six thousand times). So "all" we have to do is capture, say, 0.1% of it at 15% efficiency and the job's done.

    That "all" is a huge one, of course, yet this simple statistic is nonetheless critically important. If the numbers were such that we'd have to capture most of the energy to meet our needs, or worse, we actually consumed more than the total solar flux, then we'd be hosed before we started.

    Yes, it will require vast investment, but think of the returns (that's why we're here, right?) We already have technology to do what's needed, and as others here have said, in reality it'll be part of a much broader energy mix.

    Whether you're a "global warming denier" (in spite of considerable evidence) doesn't really affect the debate here. Even if the CO2 doesn't get us, and let's all hope is doesn't, what are we going to do when the oil runs out? Or in reality, when getting enough of it becomes so expensive and environmentally damaging that we can no longer tolerate the overall costs? I recall huge amounts of wailing when US gas prices topped $4 a gallon last year. It's already nearly twice that in Europe, and rising again. Iamgine a future where tyhe countires who have energy no longer have a stranglehold on the rest of us.

    So let's start fixing the Energy Problem while we have the time - and before the oil runs low to the extent that we really really HAVE to do something.

  • Report this Comment On December 11, 2009, at 9:24 PM, Howard1ii wrote:

    The challenge for both wind & solar is their unpredictability and storage of any power generated during non-peak usage timeframes. I am always amazed that tidal power is not discussed in these articles. Living here in the Puget Sound (Seattle) area we deal with the tides every day (it is basically ALWAYS going in or out), and you can see the tide schedule for the next 200 years. I believe we are missing the boat (no pun intended) on a reliable and predictable source of clean energy.

  • Report this Comment On December 11, 2009, at 10:41 PM, m0j0m0j0 wrote:

    we have no options but nuclear drill for oil and gas coal your wind and solar power are too expensive we have 100 years of oil infrastructure go ahead invest your money in the church of climate change you will go broke a the climate will change anyway it always has for billions of years it gets hot then gets cold it is a constant pattern work on pollution but but it must make economic sense cut a green open and what you see is red socialism always fails

  • Report this Comment On December 11, 2009, at 11:39 PM, MyDonkey wrote:

    The Scientific American "Solar Grand Plan" article that sailrick linked to above:

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=a-solar-gra...

    includes only the first page, but the over 700 comments (and replies by the authors) are a great read in themselves.

    The full article in PDF format is available here:

    http://www.science.smith.edu/~jcardell/Readings/uGrid/Solar_...

    The Grand Plan describes how solar energy could supply 69 percent of US electricity and 35 percent of its total energy by the year 2050. The authors further predict that renewable resources could supply 100 percent of US electricity and over 90 percent of total energy by 2100. Solar power would comprise over 85 percent of this total, with the remainder coming from wind power and smaller amounts of geothermal energy and biomass-based fuels. The numbers assume a one percent annual increase in energy demand, and no new technological innovations after 2020. The total cost is estimated at $420 billion ($10.5 billion per year for 40 years), ending in 2050. The money would be generated by a carbon tax of 0.5 cents per kilowatt-hour, raising the cost of electricity (currently 6-10 cents per kWh) to 6.5-10.5 cents per kWh. The annual expense would be less than the current US Farm Price Support program. It would also be less than the tax subsidies responsible for building the country’s high-speed telecommunications infrastructure over the past 35 years.

    The last paragraph of SCIAM article sums it up:

    "The greatest obstacle to implementing a renewable U.S. energy system is not technology or money, however. It is the lack of public awareness that solar power is a practical alternative - and one that can fuel transportation as well. Forward-looking thinkers should try to inspire U.S. citizens, and their political and scientific leaders, about solar power’s incredible potential. Once Americans realize that potential, we believe the desire for energy self-sufficiency and the need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions will prompt them to adopt a national solar plan."

  • Report this Comment On December 12, 2009, at 8:21 PM, jabesnyder wrote:

    To the dolts that are talking about burning firewood:

    The trees got 100% of their carbon from the atmosphere.

    It is impossible to INCREASE the carbon in the atmosphere by burning trees - as long as they are replenished.

    Seriously - get a grip on reality.

  • Report this Comment On December 13, 2009, at 12:01 PM, NOTvuffett wrote:

    Lowe's has announced that it will sell solar panels for $893 each. They have a maximum output of 175 watts (about enough for a TV). They would need professional installation, for the electrical at least, and maybe permits. This just doesn't sound like a good deal to me.

    Instead of waiting years just for the thing to break even, what if we were to just be conscious to turn the TV off when not in use? What if we put that money instead into an investment?

    Until there are dramatic improvements on the kWh/$, I can't get too excited about solar.

  • Report this Comment On December 14, 2009, at 4:12 AM, kittyliquor wrote:

    You can generate all the solar power you want in small amounts but you also need large power plants of 1000 MW to maintain voltage stability of the grid! Does anyone know the consequences of not having the proper voltage supplied to your house? I do. There is more to it than just being green, the country need to be energy self sufficient first, that means we need a bridge fuel such as nuclear and natural gas to wean us off foreign oil. And as a society we must give up our automobiles and use mass transit! If your trying to make money off of alternatives, you're probably wasting your time. Too many spout off about going green but I don't see them riding their bike or the bus to work!!!!

  • Report this Comment On December 14, 2009, at 6:11 PM, benthalus wrote:

    If I remember correctly, driving on I-65 through Indiana, there is already a huge wind farm stretching for miles east of the highway. And guess what was under all those turbines? Cultivated farm land! Wind turbines sound like the perfect way for farmers to diversify their own income while also contributing toward environmentally friendly energy generation.

    Now if only they'd stop spreading manure just as I'm driving through...

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