How Solar Can Change Your Life, And the World

The statement that solar energy is not currently economical is a lie. It is oil, gas, and coal that are not economical. The recent Solyndra debacle has nothing to do with the viability of the feasibility of solar power and everything to do with the risky nature of startup companies. Conversion to solar power does not require any government assistance. It only requires that society sets its mind to switching to this energy source.

Getting started with solar power is easy and relatively inexpensive. For as little as $700 you can purchase a “starter kit” that provides 235 watts. My own power bills dropped by $50 a month almost immediately when I switched to solar. By staying connected to the power grid, you can sell your excess electricity to the power company during the day and buy it back at night. Power companies are happy to do this because they make a profit on the transaction without any new investment on their part. As you install more capacity, the power bill drops further. You can price a complete conversion to solar energy for your own home at getsolar.com. Your power bill will go to zero if you store your power instead of selling it. Power outages no longer affect you.

Let me provide you with some points on how solar can help not only the environment, but also our daily lives. By changing the solar storage medium from batteries to hydrogen we gain a few advantages. First, we can use fuel cells to regenerate electricity. This has the added advantage of supplying heat and clean water as well as power. This gives us more than just efficiency. Using hydrogen generated by few more solar panels, we can even power our cars and operate our existing natural gas cooking devices. Now we can go from our carbon-free home to work in our carbon-free car. Our energy storage medium is hydrogen, a non-polluting fuel which, when burned, makes pure water. 

From personal uses, we could use solar powered satellites to run our industries and a host of other large-scale activities. Create a mylar balloon in the shape of a parabolic reflector 5 miles across. Place a boiler at the apex and use the energy captured to spin turbines and generate electricity. All of the power generated will be converted to microwave energy which will be beamed back to earth and used to crack sea water into hydrogen. At 100 watts /sq.ft this system captures 55 terawatts. If we assume 50% efficiency, this is still more than 25 times the total electrical generating capacity in the U.S. in 2008. Per KW construction cost is comparable to a coal-fired power plant, and the fuel costs are zero. All of the energy used in the U.S., including fossil fuels, in 2008 was 26.56 TWh. This satellite system can provide that in one hour of operation, and operates constantly.

This idea could change our reality completely. Energy will no longer be in short supply and energy costs are no longer a major consideration in our plans. We would no longer have to strike a balance between doing our planet damage and destroying our economy.  

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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Darwin Long

I'm interested in economics and social policy with particular emphasis on alternative energy. I'm opinionated and passionate, but I endeavor to keep an open mind. I am a self employed and self taught computer engineer. I have worked as a day trader, a smuggler, a handyman, a motorcycle mechanic and an aircraft manufacturer as well as lots of other activities too short or unsuccessful (or both) to mention individually. My formal education culminated in an associate degree in electronics technology. The self education is my excuse for why many of my opinions come from far afield and I hold positions on the left, the right and some places that have yet to be defined. I have positive opinions about policies that come from the progressive, the conservative, the libertarian and the socialist camps. NOBODY has all the right answers. I have been in 49 of the 50 states on a motorcycle (tough to ride it to Hawaii) and now I intend to do the same thing in a small airplane that I will build.

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