Solar Power in the News

I recently contacted a company that I’ve talked about in some past blog entries. What they do is have a parabolic solar dish that captures the suns energy and heats your home water as well as provides 30-40% of your home’s energy on a given month. That’s some big savings for a relatively modest cost. Competition is putting solar panels on your roof.

If this works as they state will this shape up the solar industry? Imagine a third of the solar cost in a small area which means there is an actual return on investment. The solar panels now, unless with some great incentives, are difficult to get a return on that is acceptable. Granted, 1% return from your bank nowadays is good so take my words with a grain of salt.The point is that it would take you a while to get a return on your money with solar and most Americans have the patience of a 3 year old.

My point is stay tuned with this. If testing goes as planned and they can roll this out to the market this can be a game changer. Imagine throwing up 3 of these big dishes in your backyard, the electric company pays you, and you get free hot water as well. Well worth the $15k or so cost that I’ve read. Not to mention resale value of your house…plug in your electric car, etc.

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Rare Earths – Here we go again…

We’ve discussed in the past about rare earth elements and the power that China holds. As reports differ one can at least assume that 90-97% of the world’s supply does come from China. China recently has increased their stockpile which does a couple of things: 1) It keeps prices stable and high and 2) Coupled with the export quotas that China has stipulated it keeps scarcity in the marketplace.

I’m not complaining as necessity is the mother of invention and many substitutes may be created because of the high price and scarcity. Also, it’s not China’s fault that they are nearly the only ones manufacturing rare earths. Nobody wants to take the risk but everyone wants the reward.

This is the same issue as oil. Why doesn’t our government back the research and development for fuel cells, alternative energies, and other power backed industries? And I don’t mean on the symbolic here’s a grant, there’s a grant side of things. Backing Solyndra isn’t the same as backing new technology that will change the game. Instead, we get mad at other countries or oligopolies for how they deal with their resources and how the game is played. Instead, we need to take a stance and change how government facilitates business.  It seemed like the country was all about alternative energy with solar and wind production then natural gas prices plummeted and everyone dropped those “crazy” ideas. Huh?  Don’t you think natural gas prices will go up again? It’s gotta be a long-term commitment.  I’m not pushing Obama or Romney because this isn’t political, although Romney probably has a keener sense to the market and how government can help create industries.

I believe the world has 3 choices…stay the same, take the risk and deal with the consequences or change the game.