Solar for “Everyman”

ECONOMYSometimes I am asked the number of jobs solar will produce, and people are often disappointed when I point out that solar PV can operate without on-site labor. It’s as if they equate adding extra useless jobs with being green. Of course, we are trying to minimize the jobs so we have economical solar electricity…BECAUSE THAT IS WHAT WILL HELP OUR ECONOMY, not the jobs watching solar panels in the desert.

Have people forgotten how painful it is to have a terrible balance of payments, with our money going to oil dictators who hate us? Now that’s what I call a loss of jobs. Solar is about not sending our jobs abroad. (Of course, I am assuming we have the sense to deploy electric cars to use solar to avoid imports.)

Does It Matter that Something Can Be Cheap a Long Time from Now?

public health infrastructureI do connect this with the financial crisis. We seem to have become a world of people trying to cut corners and have it all now. The bankers sell hyped products for the fees and live high on the hog. Societies pump up debt to have it all now, and go on doing it until they reach a point of no return.

In Haiti, they paid a huge price for not having adequate building codes and building structures, all of which take money in advance.

In many developing countries, it is the absence of public health infrastructure like clean water and sewers, not to mention roads and dependable electricity.

I hear people say that doing things well is equivalent to being a fool. Their message is that it is better, smarter to do things poorly and get away with it. Maybe it was better when only a few people believed this, and society called them criminals.

Postponed Gratification

electricityThis must be the denomination of photovoltaics. Could anything be more out of tunedness with its time?

Put up money great, now; earn money slowly, later.

Put up money great, now; make almost chargeless electricity, later.

Put up money great now, decrease CO2 later.

Operate now, sit on your honours, later.

Even badly: sponsor now, decrease prices for later.

So many points about PV assume the shape: settle accounts of a great amount now (put up money, energy, CO2), raise money slowly but in a great way, later:

Reward(t) = Slow payback(t) – One Big, Up-front Cost