Chuck Conover's Comments

August 08, 2014

How the Don Quixote Principle Drives Solar

The author seems to forget a very basic principle: You can't eat money. The solar industry doesn't run on hope so much as it runs on the basis that coal and gas are killing us and we have to do something about it. Not EVERYTHING is about money and this whole article basically says "You're stupid because solar is not the cheapest option."

So, in 2006, I installed a $50K solar system (which *might* break even after 25 years), not because it was the least expensive option, but because I love this planet and toxic-free energy was more important than a new car to me.

Today, Solar has just crossed the point of being the cheapest energy option, but that isn't as important to me as having my kids be able to live their lives without having to have weekly oxygen deliveries to their houses.

February 13, 2013

100 GW of Solar PV Now Installed in the World Today

It only takes 88 Gigawatts to go back to the future and here we've got 100!

August 27, 2010

When is Wind Energy Noise Pollution?

It's clear that some people can be hyper-sensitive to low-frequency sound. Others can't even hear it. That shouldn't be difficult to understand. Unfortunately, it's hard to test the effect before installation. I'm very pro-wind and pro-solar, but its clear that wind turbines should only be installed in industrial areas, very rural areas or offshore. You don't want an energy source to ruin people's lives.

June 11, 2010

Why Do You Support Solar on the White House?

Several people said that solar is too expensive. This just isn't true. I put solar on my house 5 years ago and it was about break-even at 8.5 cents/KWh, assuming no major failures in 20 years. Except now, the grid price is 12.5 cents/KWh. And, it doesn't pollute. And, I didn't have to lay miles of cable to get the energy to my house. And, there is no maintenance, except that I tilt the panels twice per year. Everyone says coal is cheap, but they don't count the cost of building the plant in their calculations, or any of the capital costs like trucks and mining equipment (have you seen those HUGE trucks they use?). They also don't count the cost of finding the coal or buying the land that the coal is under. Neither do they count the cost of cleaning up the mine after it's beat. What's the problem with solar again?

June 02, 2010

Wind Farms: Are All the Best Spots Taken?

Maybe I'm oversimplifying, but where I live, Arizona, one of the biggest energy producers is the Hoover Dam (a government project). The transmission lines from the dam go hundreds of miles to the cities in Nevada, Arizona and California since the dam is so far away from anything. All along those transmission lines in the barren deserts could be windmills.

May 12, 2010

Preparing for the Coming Wave of Electric Cars

Glenn (and this article) is telling us what the auto and oil industry has been telling us for decades. It's too expensive, the grid can't handle it, no on will buy them, your house will need a huge upgrade (even a new panel, which you'll only need if every spot in your panel is already full, only costs $2000. Where did $15K come from). I don't believe the talk for a second. The Leaf already has 100K pre-orders. I don't pre-order anything or buy a car in it's first year, but I have solar panels and will purchase a Leaf or something very similar in it's 2nd year. The reason it isn't a waste of money is because the price will fall somewhat as soon as they get rolling, PLUS no maintenance. I have to take my car in for and "oil change" every month, and every month they find something else that needs fixing and it ends up between $500 and $2500. The Prius has TWO engines and it's not much more expensive than a gas-only car. These cars will be widely popular.

May 13, 2010

Preparing for the Coming Wave of Electric Cars

I've been thinking more about Glenn's comments (way near the top). Who buys a car based on the smartest financial decision? If we did, we'd all be driving 10 year old Honda Civics. Glenn says an electric is a "stupid waste of money". Well, what is a BMW? or an SUV (which no one drive off-road in real life)? or an F-150 with a 7 inch lift and 40 inch tires? or a 1964 Mustang? They are all a "stupid waste of money". They are also all fun as hell. EVs will be very popular. Who knows how popular, but to discount them as a fad is a mistake.

May 14, 2010

Preparing for the Coming Wave of Electric Cars

Hey Glenn,
I guess it's silly to argue what will happen. We'll know soon enough. But, while the Prius did take awhile to take off, the new EVs are being introduced in an environment where Toyota expects to sell 1M Priuses a year.

I think your definition of "luxury car" might be too narrow, though. I don't have any facts on the matter, but just driving around my po-dunk Arizona town where the mean income is $26K/yr, I see an awful lot of Corvettes, Porche, jacked-up pick-ups, and even quads. All of these are for pure fun.

I took a look at the specs for the Nissan Leaf and I'm so excited by the electronics in this thing. Basically, it's an Ipod on wheels. When it's home, it will be plugged in, so I can connect to it with my smart phone and it will tell me how charged it is and even send me a message when its fully charged. Can you not see a bunch of computer geeks standing around gawking at the interface as if the thing were a new Ferrari? They might even develop and API where geeks like me can write add-on programs and I could download apps for it.

I'm confused by your assertion that a Prius helps the environment, but an EV won't. I'm sure you know that electic doesn't pollute nearly as much as fossil fuels. And, of course, we don't have to kill all the people living on top of the oil if we aren't using it.

Of course, I'm assuming an EV won't have a 20K premium for long or there will be huge incentives. With 2 engines, a hybrid is much more complex than a pure EV. But, we'll see.

March 31, 2010

Who Holds the Power?

I'm confused. How does the State Board of Electrical Examiners have so much power that they can make a ruling like this? Can they now say that Electricians must be present for all aspects of building a house? Also, It's becoming apparent that lying is just a part of government and no one gets called out on it anymore. "If you're not qualified to install then you're going to die." A lie, plain and simple, yet no censure.

January 29, 2010

US Continues Breaking Records, Installs 9922 MW of Wind in 2009

Of course there should be a cost-benefit analysis, but there are benefits beyond money. Clean air, coal runoff, (you've all heard the list) are benefits that would not be captured in a cost-benefit analysis. I installed 32 solar panels at my house and did my own cost-benefit analysis and found that it would pay for itself after 24.5 years, assuming no repairs during that time (which is unlikely). However, that was when I was buying energy at 8.5 cents/Kwh. It is now over 13. But even if the payoff was 40 years (way past the life of the solar panels) I'd still have done it.

August 05, 2009

How PV Manufacturers Are Driving Down Costs

Safety for alternative energy sources are a concern, and Russ certainly has a point that few know the facts from the BS (they might kill our birds!), but safety is just different, not worse. There are safety concerns with mining coal, but they are generally known (and sometimes ignored), whereas chemicals in solar panels are generally not known. Dangers in an accident with an electric car certainly should be known by first responders, but I doubt they are more dangerous than possible gasoline explosions and searing heat from a conventional vehicle. They just need to be known and dealt with appropriately.

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