Does every little bit really help?

February 3rd, 2008
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Lets ask a simple question: Considering everyone seems to think installing a solar panel to one’s roof is the best damn thing for the environmental you can do, does it have any potential to really effect things? The contention by most is that “somebody has to start it” or “the price will come down” or the worst “but every little bit helps.”

Unfortunately, putting a solar panel on your roof can’t do it. It couldn’t do it if everyone did. If prices were cut by 90% it couldn’t and if effeciency were doubled it couldn’t. It is such a fruitless way of going it’s hardly worth perusing.

Does it do something? Sure. But there seems to be a bit of disproportional excitement considering everyone thinks it’s the future and few enviornmental groups would like to mention that there are thousands of coal fires burning worldwide, there are tens of thousands of tons of perfectly good gas being flared every day and methane is seeping out of landfills at a rate nearly as great as all natural biological decay in the world. And yet… solar panels are what seem to get a LOT more attention.

Lets look at the numbers for the United States
(sorry international friends, but it’s just too difficult to start doing the whole world. Numbers are avaliable for the US. It’s a good example)

Given the following:

1) There are about one hundred million households in the United States.
2) The average household household income in the US is aboiut $46,000 a year before taxes.
3) There are a significant number of households which have less than $15,000 annually after taxes and fixed expenses like mortgage or rent, taxes and other expenses.

Therefore, asking all households to spend about $2,000 would be about the most one could reasonably expect. This would be a huge financial burden for some and a considerable expense for most. The total national expenditure would thus be two hundred billion dollars. This equates to a very significant portion of the gross domestic product.

If each bought a $2,000 then that would be enough for two nominally sized solar panel (about 200 watts peak total and about a square meter), voltage regulator and grid synchronized inverter and installation. In reality if everyone did this it would have a huge market effect, but just for simplicity’s sake all things being equal that is about what they would get for that.

Here are some examples of what two grand could buy you:

A 260 Panel Kit (no inverter or other accessories)
A 250 Kit for a bit over $2000
A Self Contained setup

Exactly how much energy such a system would generate anually is going to vary by quite a bit, but a generous estimate might be 150 kilowatt hours per year*. Thus we have 15,000,000,000 kilowatt hours of energy or 15 terawatt hours. (again being generous).

The result:
The annual consumption of electricity is something like 4000 terawatt hours. Thus the expenditure has resulted in a decrease of needed electricity to 3985 terawatt hours. A drop of just slightly less then 4.% FOUR TENTHS OF A PERCENT!

The bottom line:

If anything, this estimate is beyond the actual reality of what one could expect for adoption. Two hundred billion dollars is a lot of money and two grand is a lot for many households. Even if the burden were carried mostly by the wealthy, it’s still an unfathomable amount of money. Worth it? Perhaps, if it produced a reduction in electricity that was more than what it would. It’s a lot of money to pay for less than half a percent. All things considered, one would be lucky to get a tenth of a percent of overall greenhouse gas reduction.

This of course does not include the realities since the real world would be non-linear and it’s unlikely industry could keep up with such massive demand. Nor does it take into account the massive amounts of materials and energy needed to produce these solar cells. Mobilizing the entire nation to produce such solar cells at a huge cost per person and a cost that would exceed the anual spending on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan combined would be quite a drain and would likely produce as much pollution as it displaced.

Now I know what someone is going to say “Well if we can mount a war why not…” Again, remember that this is .4%. In theory it *could* possibly be done, but if you wanted to do something like have 20% of electricity from solar (enough to make a small but somewhat noticable reduction in greenhouse gas production) you would need at least fifty times as much money. Thus about ten trillion dollars. Want to actually make a real difference? Well then you’re looking at tens of trillions more. Imagine World War II, Moonshot, the Marshall Plan, Hurricane Katrina, Star Wars, the development of the entire budget of the DOE since it’s creation, the EPA’s superfund and all the gold in Fort Knox combined. That might be enough… all things being equal (which they won’t be)

And yes, before it even comes up, conservation would help. Buying effecient appliances and adding insulation would also decrease the overall usage of fossil fuel electricity. However, the results will be similarly small for a high expenditure. Even if you assume all persons spend a significant amount of money on a number of the more high profile means of saving energy the results are nearly squat. There are ways of saving energy effectively and realistically, but stuff like solar isn’t it. And yet… everyone seems to think it’s what we need more of.

Oh… one other thing. This is photovoltaic. The panels that heat water: those actually can save a decent amount of energy especially in the summer and they’re comparatively cheap. They’re pretty simple and work well. Yeah, when was the last time you heard anyone get excited about those?

*This estimate is based on several systems which have operated around the US. Most are larger and thus the result is divided. This is only an estimate but it considers most of the better performing systems. It is a GENEROUS estimate that is more than reasonable. In reality, it would almost certainly be less.
Sources:
http://www.uvm.edu/~solar/?Page=about.html
http://www-personal.umich.edu/~bgoodsel/solar/blog.htm
http://altenergy.blog-city.com/how_many_solar_panels_do_i_need.htm
http://www.solarexpert.com/grid-tie/solar-advantges.html


This entry was posted on Sunday, February 3rd, 2008 at 3:54 pm and is filed under Bad Science, Culture, Enviornment. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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39 Responses to “Does every little bit really help?”

  1. 1
    DV82XL Says:

    It gets worse I have yet to see real proof that the EROEI for photovoltaics is positive over their lifespan

    Thus you might actually have a net energy loss with such a plan.


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  2. 2
    Joffan Says:

    I occasionally speculate about how many people would be killed working on roofs….


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  3. 3
    A true scottsman Says:

    But everyone looks so proud in those pictures! Look at that guy infront of his house. He’s thinking “I’m totally captain planet” and then those two guys are all “Yes, we’re giving back to the world and it feels good. You know you admire us” and then those kids are thinking “Wow. This is the most funnest thing I’ve done since spring break and we’re saving the earth”

    You just burst bubbles with no caring. Besides this “gets attention” and “gets the word out” Christ, you’d think they’d have considered the attention sufficient by now!


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  4. 4
    Brian Says:

    But Joffan, that’s considered by the plans of some of the PV proponents.

    Surely, you’ve seen the grand plans for installing all of this renewable technology. The resulting boon to the economy, the “renewable energy jobs it will create”!

    Surely, you’ve heard the plans to take the poor who are jobless (primarily the homeless, from the sounds of it) and put them to good work installing solar panels, wind turbines (both large and small), etc., out in the countryside and in the suburbs on everyone’s roof.

    After all, it’s obvious to any upper- or middle-class lawyer, businessman, IT expert, college professor, or other professional who works in an office all day that anyone can climb on top of a roof to tack a few solar panels up there. Do you need training for that?

    If a few former-homeless-people fall off and kill themselves … well … at least they died for a good cause. The PR to casualty ratio will still remain strong.


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  5. 5
    drbuzz0 Says:

    The problem with the “boon to the economy” idea is that creating jobs is not necessarily a good thing if it means just paying people outright for something that is not actually productive. I saw a page once that claimed solar was better for the local econemy than nuclear because a nuclear plant creates a couple hundred jobs for a gigawatt but solar you have hundreds of times more jobs created.

    I do not read this as being a plus. I see it as “it’s so horribly time consuming, labor consuming and inefficient that you have to employ a small army to have any hopes of doing what a couple hundred could do” That’s just dumping money down the crapper.


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  6. 6
    Charles Barton Says:

    Solar water heating is way to rational.
    Household PV is downright crazy. I have blogged on the issue:
    http://nucleargreen.blogspot.com/2008/01/microgeneration-lovins-and-reality.html
    This is probably far more than anyone wants to go, but hay what is the point of having a blog, if you can’t do a text dump every now and then:

    Electricity from renewable sources is used to charge batteries. Household electricity is then drawn from the batteries. The average US household uses about 11,000 KWh of electricity every year. That would mean that at least 8 KWh of battery storage capacity must be part of the system to provide 24 hour a day household electrical needs. Battery cists are not easy to cme by, but solar microgeneration advisories warn “batteries are the most expensive part of a PV system.” Lead acid batteries last no more than 5 years. Don’t expect to store your 8 KWhs of overnight power in car batteries either. Look to buy some hefty, big mother, deep discharge batteries. After 5 years lead acid batteries will have to be remanufactured or replaced. Oh and micro-generation advisories warn, “you may have to resort to charging the battery bank with a gasoline, diesel or propane generator set during foggy periods or during a several day period with no wind or sun — in the winter especially, for independent systems.” Well notning is perfect. Generators and fuel also cost money, and need to be servised.

    The Advisory says, “Running a generator set for a few hours per day to charge a battery bank IS FAR PREFERABLE to running a generator all day and all night long.” Yes but is it preferable to getting steady dependable power from a nuclear power plant?

    A Advisory reports that a 1.2 KW solar system with batteries goes for a little more than $15,000. That is about $12,500 per KW.

    When you use battery storage, you also have to have battery charge and discharge controllers. They cost and have to be installed. If you don’t use the controllers, the batteries will be quickly ruined. Remanufacturing batteries is also an ugly, nasty, dirty business. I believe the remanufactures have all moved to Mexico where environmental and worker health and safety laws are not enforced.

    An Advisory also states:
    “Actual PV system kW hour output may vary according to weather patterns, obstructing trees or buildings. Shipping and handling are additional. Most shipping is handled UPS. The output of these systems is approximately 11.7 kW hours per day at latitude 46 (Seattle) as compared to 16.8 kW hours per day at latitude 30 to 35 (southern U.S.) For northern latitudes this system can produce up to 70% of needed electrical power for a home that consumes 500 kW hours per month (up to 100% in southern U.S. latitudes are additional. Most shipping is handled UPS. The output of these systems is approximately 11.7 kW hours per day at latitude 46 (Seattle) as compared to 16.8 kW hours per day at latitude 30 to 35 (southern U.S.) For northern latitudes this system can produce up to 70% of needed electrical power for a home that consumes 500 kW hours per month (up to 100% in southern U.S. latitudes.”


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  7. 7
    Brian Says:

    Inefficiency always creates lots of jobs. Just look at any large bureaucracy.

    The Great Wall of China employed millions for its construction. It doesn’t mean that these workers were happy to work on it.


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  8. 8
    Geraldo Says:

    I’d be a lot happier installing solar panels then working at a nuclear power plant. I could come home and say “Well I may not have made a big contribution but I know I made some contribution and I did the right thing for the world and took a step in the right direction and worked with some good people who cared about the earth”

    that’s a lot better then “Well, I made lots of power today at the nuke plant where I work but I also made lots of waste and helped destroy the world a bit more. Gee, I wonder how many dead babies I’m going to end up being responsible for. I wonder how much richer the rich plant owners got from my work and I wonder how much longer I have before I die from my work”

    Yeah, if I worked making plutonium every day I’d want to kill myself because I’d never be able to look in the mirror and I’d know I was part of the problem.


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  9. 9
    DV82XL Says:

    You’re part of the problem alright Geraldo. You aren’t paying attention to anything that’s been said.

    The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.


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  10. 10
    Kevin Brennan Says:

            Geraldo said:

    I’d be a lot happier installing solar panels then working at a nuclear power plant. I could come home and say “Well I may not have made a big contribution but I know I made some contribution and I did the right thing for the world and took a step in the right direction and worked with some good people who cared about the earth”

    This is ironic to me, because I have an interview for an internship at a nuclear power plant, and I happen to know that what you’re saying is all hyperbole. If I can work towards increasing cycle efficiency in nuclear power plants by a fraction of a percent, I would be doing more good for the environment than if you spent your entire life installing solar panels on residences. Therefore I think you let the point of the article blow right by you!

    Good points as usual, doc, though I was surprised that you came up with a total as high as 0.4%; I think in reality about half of that would be pushing it.


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  11. 11
    drbuzz0 Says:

    Well I went on the side of making the most generous reasonable estimates I could because it’s tough to come up with the real numbers for this. .4% would in reality be about the highest one could reasonably expect (possibly more than reasonably).

    Half of that is probably more realistic. I went with best case because someone would nitpick otherwise and say (you said .18% but if you used the new nano cells you could increase that to .22). But the point being: best most generous, most optimistic case… it doesn’t cut it even close.

    Ps. That’s a pretty awesome sounding internship. May I ask which plant and what you might be doing? Not to pry or anything but that’s just damn cool.


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  12. 12
    Kevin Brennan Says:

    Yeah, I suppose I ought to mention which one! It’d be at the Cook nuclear plant, which I believe is in SW Michigan, just a couple hours from my home. At this point I could work in a variety of fields, but I’m leaning towards the systems engineering department so that I could develop a general feel for how everything works. On the other hand, I’ve taken a liking to pipe flow in classes, so I may lean towards that instead. Their internship program sounds great, and everyone I’ve talked to so far has been really enthusiast and nice, so I’ll probably take the job if it’s offered. Right now I’ll feel fortunate enough to just get an offer at all :P


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  13. 13
    Beckett222 Says:

    At least they’re doing something. More than you are doing. And I’d trade the war in Iraq for solar powered electricity for the country any day. If everyone did enough it would begin to add up. Maybe not just solar. But if everyone put a solar panel on their house and also got a hybrid and more insulation and stopped being such consumers and raping the earth then it would make a difference.

    As for Brennan, I’m glad to see that someone is making it even more obvious that this site has no real agenda except to push nuclear energy. This fake grass roots movement stuff is the industry’s latest ploy. I’m sure they were all really nice and enthusiastic. Sure, I bet all the people who make nukes and tell us not to use wind or solar are the nicest people in the world.

    This site is a sham. It’s so clear that it’s a whitewash front for a very dirty industry that it’s shameful. You even have a link to NEI right on your stupid page. It doesn’t mention that NEI is industry funded and controlled. That’s pretty much proof of what’s going on here. A credible source yea right

    I guess you don’t believe in Karma or hell either, but I think you’ll be in for a rude awakening.


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  14. 14
    Brian Says:

            Beckett222 said:

    if everyone put a solar panel on their house and also got a hybrid … and stopped being such consumers …

    Does anyone else out there find this hilariously ironic?

    Ah, the silly things that people say. You can’t make this stuff up!


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  15. 15
    McGlashan Says:

    Yes, every bit really does help. It’s called the tragedy of the commons. In short, control yourself before the situation you all create controls you.

    http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc/TragedyoftheCommons.html

    Good luck to us all.


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  16. 16
    Stephen Says:

            McGlashan said:

    Yes, every bit really does help. It’s called the tragedy of the commons. In short, control yourself before the situation you all create controls you.

    OK, so the author demonstrates exhaustively, using actual numbers, that it’s a pointless waste of time. You rebut his argument by saying he’s wrong, and then quote some non-sequitur. Way to go!

    Would you be interested in this bridge I have for sale? It’s carbon-neutral!


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  17. 17
    Sovietologist Says:

    … isn’t the actual lesson of the Commons that we need to create markets to internalize environmental externalities (cap & trade, for instance), rather than that everyone should put in a minor contribution? Then market forces will find the most cost-effective solution to the problem- in the case of global warming, probably a portfolio of technologies in which nuclear would play a very significant role. After all, markets are what coordinate people to “take their part,” so things add up in a coherent way. Otherwise, all the well-meaning effort is wasted, and that waste has an opportunity cost.


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  18. 18
    McGlashan Says:

    Hey Steven, sorry you don’t understand. Maybe it’s a cultural thing. Let me see if I can make myself clearer…

    I agree with the author that photovoltaics are questionable – direct solar heating is a preferable intermediate technology and already quite well adopted (even up here in North Scotland it has been playing its part for decades). I agree with Brian @ 11.48 that you can’t consume your way out of a consumer-created crisis. I do not agree with the author that “every little bit does not help”; this entire site seems to promote a dangerous complacency on climate change and its cause. Read the article on the tragedy of the commons, it’s not a non-sequitur. I don’t get your bridge thing, maybe you could explain…

    Sovietologist’s enthusiasm for cap & trade is welcome. Cap and trade would make me a fortune! However, it is not necessary for us to wait for the pain (for many) which will be imposed by cap and trade. If we modify our behaviour voluntarily and early, we will each be in the best possible position to take the transition in our stride.


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  19. 19
    Dave G Says:

    As it has been pointed out the cap and trade idea is going to only cause damage and end up hurting those in most need UNLESS a viable alternative is presented and it is allowed to be utilized. You simply cannot say that coal burning power plants need to burn less coal without having some other source of energy. That causes a shortage.

    Cap and trade is fine, but it’s not a magic bullet. First you need to figure out what you’ll move the energy needs to. Otherwise you’re limiting energy more than limiting pollution.


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  20. 20
    McGlashan Says:

    Dave G

    “As it has…” to “…most need” I’m interested. Can you provide references?


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  21. 21
    Dave G Says:

    It was mentioned in the top ten things that limitations and price increases are problematic and that providing an alternative was always the best way to go.


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  22. 22
    McGlashan Says:

    Dave G

    It was mentioned in the top ten things that limitations and price increases are problematic and that providing an alternative was always the best way to go

    This is a personal assertion by the author, not a definitive reference.


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  23. 23
    DV82XL Says:

    The contention was that price increases have a huge impact on the poor while not cutting usage back by big users.

    References:

    Rising gas prices have heavy impact on poor

    Rising gas prices have heavy impact on poor

    As Fuel Prices Soar, A Country Unravels


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  24. 24
    drbuzz0 Says:

            DV82XL said:

    The contention was that price increases have a huge impact on the poor while not cutting usage back by big users.

    References:

    Rising gas prices have heavy impact on poor

    Rising gas prices have heavy impact on poor

    As Fuel Prices Soar, A Country Unravels

    Considering this has happened time and time again and that it stands to basic reason I fail to see why this is a surprise to anyone.


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  25. 25
    Tsakanga Says:

    Kevin, don’t be discouraged by the naysayers. The world can always use good engineers. We’re good at analyzing problems and coming up with feasible solutions (a concept some commenters on here don’t fully grasp).

    I also got my Mech Eng degree from Rose and in the almost 7 years since I graduated, I’ve been directly involved with maintaining online or bringing back to service some ~3700 MW of nuclear generating capacity (for those counting that’s ~18.7 million metric tons of CO2 release prevented annually, not to mention SOx and NOx prevention). I think that’s a bigger contribution than adding solar panels to my house or driving a hybrid the rest of my life could ever be.


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  26. 26
    Kevin Brennan Says:

    ^Thanks, it’s always cool to hear from Rose grads after they’ve been out for a bit. As for the naysayers, I’m a pretty stubborn/principled guy, so their comments are good for a chuckle but that’s just about it. The numbers still stand.

    Beckett222, I was merely mentioning one of 8 employment leads I am following right now because it was pertinent. I think your misconception between “making nukes” and “nuclear energy” speak volumes towards your knowledge of the subject matter. I’m willing to bet I’ve read up more on “alternative” energy sources than you; I am not here to “push nuclear energy” any more than you are here to push logical fallacies.

    Looks like this site has picked up some attention as of late!


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  27. 27
    Lisa Says:

            Geraldo said:

    I’d be a lot happier installing solar panels then working at a nuclear power plant. I could come home and say…
    that’s a lot better then “Well, I made lots of power today at the nuke plant where I work but I also made lots of waste and helped destroy the world a bit more.

    Gee, I wonder how many dead babies I’m going to end up being responsible for.

    I wonder how much richer the rich plant owners got from my work and I wonder how much longer I have before I die from my work”

    Yeah, if I worked making plutonium every day I’d want to kill myself because I’d never be able to look in the mirror and I’d know I was part of the problem.

    Gerald, are you aware that, per kilowatt-hour generated the production, use and disposal of solar panels generates about as much toxic waste as nuclear power? And that it is waste that never decays?

    Are you aware that one receives a greater radiation dose living near a coal plant than living near a nuclear power plant? That no member of the public has died as a result of commercial nuclear power?

    Are you aware that the population of workers at nuclear power plants are healthier and live longer than people in the general population?

    Are you aware that each nuclear power plant pays about $10 million a year in local taxes?

    Are you aware that plutonium in nuclear power plants is entirely sequestered and accounted for as opposed to naturally occuring radioisotopes spewed into the air by the burning of fossil fuels? That it is recyclable? That gram for gram, plutonium is less lethal than arsenic, cyanide or even pure caffeine? That Po-210, which one puts directly into the lungs by smoking, is a more toxic carcinogen?

    And I seriously take offense to the notion that those working in nuclear are ignorant shills for big corporate interests. I’ve worked at and lived near nuclear power plants. Do you really think that I would jeopardize my health and safety, and that of my friends and family, for a paycheck? It’s a good job but it doesn’t pay THAT well. I have two engineering degrees, one from MIT, and could make good, perhaps even better, money in numerous other industries.

    Fo my colleagues and me, our belief in nuclear power isn’t due to working in the industry. On the contrary, we work in the industry because we believe nuclear is an important part of a balanced and sustainable energy mix. We are measurably making the world a better place.


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  28. 28
    KLA Says:

    Bravo Lisa.
    I always get railed up when I hear people talk about how we should change our system to run on renewables like solar, wind, drive electric cars and so on. The electric cars are of course supposed to be charged up at night when electricity is cheap!!! They completely forget that energy costs are a matter of supply, demand and cost to produce. So you have your solar/wind system with (hypothetical) storage. That means night electricity would be at the highest cost, as you are running solely of stored energy, transfering it to another storage medium. The losses alone would mean your costs are a lot higher than even the most optimistic projections show. People simply would not be able to afford to run an electric car. So they say put charging stations on every parking lot, and put additional solar on every office building. The costs in money and energy to achieve that are simply not payable.
    The ONLY solution is a power generation system that’s clean, basically inexhaustible, but most of all steady and reliable. With enough of that you can produce carbon neutral liquid fuels that use the existing infrastructure to distribute. That solves transportation AND electricity uses. The european experience with wind power for example has shown that these small solutions do NOT scale linearly, rather regressively. Double the amount of wind turbines, and you DON’t get double the power. You get considerably less. Simply because the best sites are used first.
    One other argument (sorry to put that much in one post) of “greens” I often hear is population explosion, and therefore we need to cut back. According to green projections in the 70s and 80s, the environment should have already collapsed. The opposite is happening. Birth rates in all developed countries are below death rates, where they are higher it is because of immigration. The population there is shrinking. Developing countries are following suit with shrinking birth rates. Why, development allows people to move from a subsistence farming life, where additional children means additional family work power, to cities where additional children to feed are a luxury. There WILL be a population explosion and subsequent collapse of civilasation IF we follow the green agenda of abandoning all sensible technologies.


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  29. 29
    McGlashan Says:

            DV82XL said:

    The contention was that price increases have a huge impact on the poor while not cutting usage back by big users.

    References:

    Rising gas prices have heavy impact on poor

    Rising gas prices have heavy impact on poor

    As Fuel Prices Soar, A Country Unravels

    None of these articles address cap & trade for industry or individuals.


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  30. 30
    DV82XL Says:

    Not surprising McGlashan. as the question they were addressing was the regressiveness of price increases in energy prices.


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  31. 31
    drbuzz0 Says:

            McGlashan said:

    None of these articles address cap & trade for industry or individuals.

    Actually they do. Lets say you cap carbon emissions. If that’s where most of your energy comes from than you have capped energy. Failure to provide an alternative means that any caps in carbon are effectively caps in energy. “cap and trade” is ridiculous without an alternative because it is simply energy rationing by proxy.

    Guess who ends up buying the energy avaliable, either directly or by “trading” their “credits”

    and speaking of credits how the hell do you enforce them for individuals? For big power plants or factories sure, you limit how much they can burn. But what happens if I decide to burn some dirty motor oil or burn some wood or coal or peat or burn old tires to keep warm?

    is the carbon police force planning on putting an air sampler on every muffler and chimney in the world?

    It’s a dumb idea and it directly and invariably creates shortages, rationing, price increases.


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  32. 32
    Gene Genie G Says:

    Every little bit does help. Not by itself, but it ads up when a lot of people do it. If you weren’t sitting here criticizing people doing good work then you could be part of the solution and not part of the problem. As it is you are just another of the wasters who sit there and call others stupid. There are enough people who care that they can make a difference.


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  33. 33
    DV82XL Says:

    No Gene Genie G – a Calvinistic obsession with personal sacrifice will not solve this looming crisis. It doesn’t matter how often or how hard you assert it. If you bothered to read what is written here, you will see that the reasons this is so have been explained in detail.

    You can’t save the planet by feel-good offerings to some energy spirit – you have to invoke much more complex solutions.


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  34. 34
    drbuzz0 Says:

    Gene, if you want to get personal, then I do a lot more than you might think. I don’t get paid to run this site for one thing and at the moment there aren’t any ads. On top of that, I do a lot of stuff I’m not going to get into toward the end of the greater good, environmentally and otherwise.


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  35. 35
    DV82XL Says:

    You know boss you don’t have to justify yourself to some random commenter who obviously ether hasn’t read the post and thread, or is incapable of understanding it.

    The rest of us DO appreciate what you’re doing here.


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  36. 36
    drbuzz0 Says:

            DV82XL said:

    You know boss you don’t have to justify yourself to some random commenter who obviously ether hasn’t read the post and thread, or is incapable of understanding it.

    The rest of us DO appreciate what you’re doing here.

    Oh no, I just don’t want to take bull sitting down. Whatever. I really don’t care that much.


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  37. 37
    Karen Says:

    I’d be interested to see what happens to your estimates if everyone who installed air conditioning had to provide sufficient PV panels to power it. There would be two effects – reduced demand for air conditioning AND reduced demand on public infrastructure. Also, only those who can afford it would need to pay.

    In Australia, every $1000 air conditioning unit needs about $1000 spent on public electricity infrastructure to keep up with the peak demand.


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  38. 38
    DV82XL Says:

    “In Australia, every $1000 air conditioning unit needs about $1000 spent on public electricity infrastructure to keep up with the peak demand.”

    Reference Karen, please,


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  39. 39
    drbuzz0 Says:

    I’d be interested to see what happens to your estimates if everyone who installed air conditioning had to provide sufficient PV panels to power it. There would be two effects – reduced demand for air conditioning AND reduced demand on public infrastructure. Also, only those who can afford it would need to pay.

    In Australia, every $1000 air conditioning unit needs about $1000 spent on public electricity infrastructure to keep up with the peak demand.

    Well lets see. Assuming that number is correct (which it may or may not be). A nominal sized window air conditioner of the recent variety and EnergyStar certified could be about one kilowatt. That’s enough to do a large room or most of a small apartment. My grandmother has two large ones which do the most of her bottom floor and she’d likely be in danger of heat stroke in the summer without them. I’m going to guess with the two big inwall AC units it’s gotta be three kilowatts when they’re both running. Central air can be a lot more for a medium sized home on a hot summer day.

    So lets say that $1000 worth of air conditioner would be about 4 kilowatts of energy. Sound fair?

    Okay so… I couldn’t find any 4KW systems for solar energy. At least none that were in a single package deal. I found this one for 18 grand which does 3kw: http://www.solarhome.org/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWPROD&ProdID=358

    So that’d be… almost enough. Possibly enough to run the air conditioners at medium. Assuming that it’s noon on the summer solstice and there is zero relative humidity. Um. Now, if you want to run them on high or run them on a hot evening or an oppressively humid rainy day then you’ll need at least four times as many systems plus the battery system.

    (or you could do the grid dumping this, but since you asked in the context of saving money on the infrastructure that would not work. It would mean the grid would be even less stable and would be under extreme load when the sun is down and temperatures are still up).

    So you’d need… lets see… a good hundred grand I would have to estimate. Hope you have a big roof!

    Actually, I’d tend to think that the result of requiring people to have suffecient PV capacity to power air conditioners would be: Nobody would buy an air conditioner. Well, rich people probably still would. Everyone else, they would suffer in the heat. Now I wonder how much it would cost to pay for the removal of old folks, sick people and others bodies from their oppressively hot homes.

    I think that most young and otherwise healthy people would probably survive. Possibly they would need treatment in a hospital for dehydration and heat exhaustion, but death would be pretty rare. Oh by the way, I hope the hospital has deep pockets and a big roof too, or they won’t be able to treat people very well during a heat wave.


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