|To attempt to answer issues such as the destruction of
the worldwide climate stability in which our civilization arose requires new paradigms of social organization and
the prioritization of human endeavour.
Without a political sea-change, which at least recognizes the issue, nothing much can be done. But if you look at the numbers, a cleaner, more efficient and better world is available, free for the taking of it, provided we get rid of special interests and their captive politicians and media outlets.
Plug-in all-electric cars are here, now; needing NO research, they drive every day. Add a small engine-generator, and their 100 mile range becomes as unlimited as gasoline cars for longer trips.
No one, not the corrupted Air Resources Board or the news, has ever done the calculation of exactly the amount of pollution incumbent on burning each gallon of gasoline. Instead, this number, like the real cost of gasoline, is hidden and obscured by regulators.
We know that EV-PV can replace burning fossil fuels and nukes, as a cursory examination of the facts reveals. But neither leaders nor regulators follow this path, they ignore it.
Each square meter has at most 1000 Watts of sunlight under the best conditions, but the very best solar panels are only 30% efficient (military grade) or 22% efficient (Sunpower p-junctions).
But you don't necessarily want the most powerful panels, because the panels not only protect the roof but also lower the ambient temperature as they convert sunlight into electric. Since the panels are sold by the Watt, not by the square meter, it's often better to use 100W panels to cover and insulate more of the roof than the very best 220W panels.
Pollution from panel manufacture is a choice, not a necessity. It's true that we dump our E-waste on the third world, as well as our plastic toxins, but that's the policy of our Wal-Krap government and its "Warlord Capitalist" mindset. We need a "misery tax" on overseas production, paid back to those countries via projects that benefit the slave-laborers. But solar panel pollution is FAR LESS than just OFFSHORE oil-drilling spoils dumped into the Ocean, not counting foreign oil wars, oil spills, extraction, drilling, refining, etc.
Free trade is misleading nomenclature for theft and lies unless the provenance of each product is considered. It's unfair to produce an item in a misery-culture like Bangladesh and sell it at the much higher prices of a living-wage culture such as the USA. Inevitably, the "misery tax" subverts and degrades the USA and its benefits, reducing it to a third-world standard of living for the majority, and eliminating the middle class.
A calculus of real life-cycle costs needs to be appended to all items, including:
1-- "Misery tax" origination costs, including such items as health care, injury, oil wars;
2--"Logistical" support, what it takes to run a 100-Watt bulb vs. LED, for example;
3--"Sunset" scrap or disposal returns or fees,
to be calculated into the purchase price of all products.
Each square meter of solar panel actually wholesales at about $3.50 per Watt, now; the turnkey cost of a solar system is about $8/Watt, less for larger systems. If you were to look at covering large swaths of America's rooftops with solar panels, building up solar industries and hiring huge quantities of American workers, the cost would inevitably FALL, perhaps massively. We note that the only indigenous US solar panel maker, Evergreen, is now moving some manufacture to Germany because Europe (Italy, Greece, Spain, etc.) is now in the forefront of conversion to solar.
America's oil government is stuck sitting on its hands, looking dumb and whining about the "need" for Halliburton to build a nuke "power plant a week" for twenty years. And with miguided repitition of the oil company line that "it's not easy being 'green'". In reality, people want to do EV-PV, and it's easy to do if they are allowed.
If we were to cover the 10,000 square miles of America's rooftops with solar panels, the cost per Watt would, of course, come down; most of the current cost of a solar system is low-volume production, resistence from the coal-oil-auto industry, and red tape created by retrograde city government and fraudulent shamus showmen such as California's Schwarzenegger and his CSI boondoggle.
For each square mile, 25M s.f. or 2.5M sq. meters, assuming panels of 100W real PTC capacity, that would be 250M Watts per sq. mile, or a net cost of perhaps $750M.
Now multiply that by 10,000 square miles; it's a cost of $7500 billion or 7.5 Trillion dollars, of course spread out over many years. Even doubling that idea, to $15T, current cost, would still keep it in the "bargain" range.
As each square mile of panels went in, the cost of energy fuel would trend DOWN, as coal, natural gas and nuke power plants were closed down, and as oil wells, refineries and pipelines were shut down, the land remediated and healed.
The price of oil would fall from the "drug culture" high, back down to the cost of production (about $6/bbl).
We're in the process of funding Chevron's expensive drilling program for oil in deep water and inaccessible sites such as Alaska, the North Sea, and Antarctica, a cost of $500K per day for a typical deep-water drilling rig. Do we want, nationally, to spend hundreds of billions of dollars, hidden in tax writeoffs, to drill out the very last of the oil? This decision is being forced on our nation without examination or review.
Solar power, solarizing America, would replace gasoline in cars, petroleum imports, natural gas, nuke fuel, coal, and other fossil fuel.
A bargain, really.
IN PRACTICE, you don't need to fool with big numbers to prove that it works.
EACH HOUSE, house-by-house, can show that each family can live on the energy they make themselves; apartment and condo dwellers can use rooftop space and car port areas, but really, they are low-density energy consumers. The really intense electric users are thousands, millions, of profligate suburban sprawl homes that use up to 1800 kWh (or more) per month, while 4000 s.f. (400 square meters) of sun-drenched roof space goes unused and uncooled, running their air conditioner complex day and night.
On our typical 2000 square foot 50-year-old house, about 42 square meters, or about one-fifth, of the roof surface is devoted to old-tech 130 W solar panels (SealBeach.org).
This relatively modest 4.2 kW solar system makes enough daytime solar credits to charge TWO all-electric plug-in RAV4-EV cars plus our domestic electric; we paid for the system by the avoided cost of gasoline during the first 3 years.
4.2 kW solar => 25 kWh per day, on average; using TOU it's about 30 kWh of credit. That's enough for 120 miles of driving per day in our all-electric small SUV, not as efficient than the EV1. This is about twice what we did even when commuting a total of 100 miles to work 5 days a week. By avoiding 160,000 miles of gasoline driving, we avoided purchase of 8,000 gallons of gas (at 20 mpg, our national average); that saved us $16,000 (at $2/gallon), which was our cost for the system. Now, we drive for free; and our battery backup gives us FREE protection against blackouts and protetion for our neighbors for emergency electric needs.]
WE'RE NOT THE ONLY ONES; everyone with a plug-in car can prove this, and most do.
People just don't notice their immense expenditures, nickel-and-dime, for oil changes, tune ups, smog checks, repairs, brake jobs, and the regular necessity of GASOLINE PURCHASES; not to mention the monthly cost of the money sent to the utility company for electric power (which the solar home generally AVOIDS); AND if you factor in the cost of the oil wars, health care cost, overseas oil diplomacy, oil drilling and extraction subsidies, defense budget and military veterans' care, the $7.5T, or even $75T, for solarizing the USA is a big bargain.
Unfortunately, our "leaders" are moving in the WRONG DIRECTION, building new fossil fuel and subsidizing renewed deep-water drilling and a new generation of unneeded nuke power plants.
For just the CASH cost of the Iraqi and Afgan adventures, not counting the deferred R&R, rehab and equipment losses, plus three years "defense" budget (about $2T), we could build and GIVE AWAY 100,000,000 EV1-class PSB lead-acid electric cars ($1T, cost of making an EV1 in volume is $8K) PLUS 100,000,000 small solar rooftop systems to power them ($1T, $10K each for a 2 kW system).
GIVE AWAY. That's a plug-in EV and the solar system to power it, one per family. And it would save money, elimnating the oil wars and pollution costs attendant on burning oil.
Incredible, eh? But no one likes to run these figures. In fact, the oil industry will tell you that's impossible, that the RAV4-EV doesn't exist (one Oily Operative today proclaimed the need for "battery research" while standing right next to 4 Toyota RAV4-EV plug-in all-electric cars that run on solar credits!).
Even more incredible is the FACT that the electric and natural gas energy used to extract and refine a barrel of oil, about 8% of the barrel or almost 4 gallons, contains enough energy (144 kWh) to carry a 1999 PSB lead-acid EV1 up to 850 miles (6 miles per kWh, what we got); THAT'S ABOUT THE SAME DISTANCE THE REST OF THE BARREL, 38 GALLONS, TAKES THE AVERAGE GASOLINE CAR at our national average of 20 mpg (38 times 20 is about 800 miles). So the energy used to process the gasoline is more than what it would take for the same travel, if a rational energy policy were in place.
And that's not counting the OTHER costs of getting that barrel of gasoline, such as burning natural gas to melt the tar sands, overseas oil tankers, deep-water drilling costs, supporting overseas and domestic oil dictators, crooked politicians of all parties, bribed regulators and rampant polluters, such as the refineries of Wilmington and the corrupt AQMD, etc., etc.
Pretty amazing, what we waste on getting that oil, nuke, coal energy, ignoring the much superior EV-PV idea. But the money is in oil, even if they have to waste natural gas to make it, more natural gas then it would take to drive our auto fleet if it were converted to CNG.
And the gutless, corrupt Bush Administration, traitorous EPA and state regulators, and their bribed sycophants, continue to hoodwink the people, keeping them addicted to oil under false but glib assumptions that "research is needed".
We don't need RESEARCH, we need leaders not afraid to BREAK UP STANDARD OIL. Again.
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