We have had repeated discussions here about the viability of some green technology, and I am certain everyone here knows my stance on solar energy. As someone educated in engineering, I know that technology is simply not ready for use and the cost is prohibitive. many have argued otherwise, but then you occasionally get stories like this one which illustrate the futility of pushing this unready technology. From the article;
ROCHESTER, N.Y. — The 20 solar panels Jeffrey Punton installed in the backyard of his Rochester, N.Y., home won’t ever generate enough electricity to cover their cost. Which is the whole point.
He means them as a cautionary tale, one that Punton said cost him $13,000 and for which he received an additional $29,500 in state and federal subsidies and tax credits.
He installed the panels in 2009, and they work: He has generated about 15,000 kilowatt hours of electricity in four years, saving several hundred dollars a year on his energy bill.
That’s a lot of savings, but it’ll take many years to recoup his initial investment, let alone the public money involved. It’s that public money that chafes him, evidence of governmental intrusion in the marketplace.
It’s a message that runs counter to the prevailing trend, especially in New York’s Monroe County. Greece, N.Y., a town in the county, recently lured a solar manufacturer from California, a coup local and state officials are touting as part of the region’s future.
Punton doesn’t buy it — at least on the consumer scale. And spending $13,000 of his own money on a project he predicted would fail doesn’t bother him.
He considers the $29,500 the government gave him a foolish investment — throwing good money after bad — and misses no opportunity to point it out.
“It’s a billboard to talk about it to people as they come by,” he said. “It’s disappointing how little people know about the economics of it. … I don’t think it’s a smart investment to pay someone three times what they’re putting in.”
About $17,000 of the money for Punton’s panels came directly from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.
The lesson here is absolutely indisputable. Without heavy government subsidy, this technology not only is prohibitively costly, but it will never pay for itself. Let’s not kid ourselves: any technology that is not at a point where it generates enough savings to warrant the total cost of production, setup, maintenance, and usage, is not ready fro prime time. And any technology that requires so much government subsidy to become marginally palatable, is definitely not worth it.
I got a tax deduction and subsidy a few years back in my state for window replacements. I got rid of some leaky and old windows & sliding doors and replaced them with newer, better insulated ones. The state gave me some $1000 credit (the maximum) towards my taxes, and another $1600 towards the manufacturer’s costs, and I ended paying some $6K out of pocket. I immediately saw improvement in my energy bill. It dropped by over 50% for both summer (cooling) and winter (heating) expenses, from a hefty averaged $245 a month to a little over $115. That’s a big saving. I recouped my investment a couple of years ago, and by now, even the subsidy and the tax deduction have been paid for in energy savings. Yes, my monthly bill is now higher, but that’s because the price of energy has all but doubled in the same timeframe. Consequently, the argument could be made that my savings also doubled, and that’s just awesome. This program was a good one.
That’s not even close to being the case with solar. I know. I researched it because I wanted to do that when I bought my house some 18 years ago. I abandoned it, just like I abandoned the idea of purchasing an electric or hybrid car, because the cost – the total cost, which includes maintenance, and disposal – was insane. I recently looked at it yet again. The numbers have moved a bit, but the cost is still prohibitive and the whole thing is still a loss.
Personally, I am not one of these fucking assholes that likes to tell people my fart doesn’t smell, (South Park – Smug Alert – episode) and is willing to piss away good money just to preen, and I don’t have anything to prove like the guy in this article did. Solar simply is not ready for prime time, and no amount of government manipulation or incentivizing will make a difference. Governments have been trying to change that equation for over 3 decades now, and it has not gone anywhere. The technological advances to make it viable will not come until they are absolutely needed and someone figures out there is huge money to be made. But this reality will never fly with the watermelons that want to steer energy money to their buddies, so we will keep pissing away money on something that’s still not able to deliver the value for the cost, and pretend it is a good thing.