Well why not do it here?

Submitted by rnojonson on Sat, 03/13/2010 - 12:06.

One of my pet peeves about solar research is location. Seems solar researchers like the warm climates of the west coast. As a result, they don't have to roll up their sleeves, in fact their sleeves if they have them are too short to roll up. Yes, they bask in the abundant sun source and conduct their research. Oh we improved our sun utilization from 10% to 10.00937%, this is signif.....!!

The result here in Ohio is that all the pictures encouraging solar cell use are California dreaming. We here in Ohio are not completely sold on solar yet. Good old Ohio, your weather so changable and if you live on the northcoast, you count sunny moments instead of sunny days. I would say design and build solar right here. If you can squeeze high quality electricity from solar cells "here in Ohio" then when you put them under California skys, you'll need sunglasses.

Wouldn't that be a kicker applying a sun screen to your solar array.

I guess the real problem is finding materals that can be both mass produced and sustainable and green at the same time while maintaining the ability to convert sunlight to useful electricity. Today it takes so many square feet of panels, tomorrow it will take half as much, but if we don't find the right materials, we won't see many solar collectors on buildings, ever.

Here in Ohio we perhaps need a hybrid solution. A panel that does solar waterheat and solar electricity. I would also add in the thermo to electricity conversion too. I am just saying that more progress might be visible in a harsher or changable environment. Design for the worst. Personally I think we have a waste problem. We live in energy wasting houses, filled with energy wasting appliances, have energy wasting habits and waste too much energy working hard to pay for energy powered  conveniences, therefore wasting time and money. We are forced to not use less energy, a pre-existing condition.

When we got wind, the Ohio way is to legislate and rezone and then put the biggest, baddest, news worthy, other community envy machine you can build in a place no one can see or appreciate. The huge pinwheel in the sky that will make the earth look like the Goodyear Blimp from the International Space Station. Meanwhile as I drive down route 90 from Cleveland to Port Clinton there are endless naked lamp poles. We like to argue over the research to get our bang for the buck. If you can't put a big pinwheel in my neighborhood, what about smaller vertical turbines. Would they work here? Did you say no on paper or did you try this with a working installation? Sometimes you have to put the paper down and just install it. If it don't work so well there, move it. For an average citizen like me to feel like progress is coming soon to a neighborhood near me, hardware is king. Talk is cheap and lots of talking people are draining the bucks that could be put into hardware. Once the hardware hits the ground, the conversation changes to how we can do this better, now that we done this.

That's my beef, we have a pre-existing condition that prevents us from moving to a new solution. We are expecting to use green energy to replace the capacity, potential and the demand on the present technology. It is hard for us to reconsider our waste and our consumption. Then for us it is easier to green up business islands and industry mountains than the vast sea of homes.

I think for a lot of help, we can look to NASA, after all they have the most extreme autonomous camper, in the harshest environment of space. It's been there for years now. They have supplies delivered, plumbers, electricians and satellite TV folks have visited. All NASA needs is a spin-off to manufacturing to retail store path. I'd take a space blanket and thermowrap insulation, thermo paint, solar array and DC power system, water recycling system, etc, etc. If you decommission the specs the cost should be quite reasonable and with the cost spread over the need of millions of homes you wouldn't need to have it made in China to cut a profit.

Lifestyle changes

It's kind of a crazy notion, but there are considerable savings to be had by changing our local lifestyle.  We need to start planning there.

Code RED

CWRU, the Clinic, CMSD and Metrohealth and all large and small employers could/should offer extreme incentives to employees who walk, take transit or ride their bikes to work and who volunteer their time to FIX the energy problem.

OR, they could use just use Dr. Cosgrove's discrimination approach--if they smoke or are considered too fat. 

Either way--NEO needs to make changes in the way we eat, move, sleep and take care of our own--even as we die.

We must think in terms of EMERGENCY mode.

Why not do it here?

 Mojoson, you raise some good points 1) Cleveland and 2) cost and construction of panels. How practical of an investment are solar panels for someone like me (a person who would put them on the south facing roof) and then get them snow and ice covered? Are we at the point that panels can withstand numerous seasons of ice, snow, then full sun?

I won't bring up the sore subject of the wind turbine study scooped up by Bill Mason (there's a no go), but for god's sakes, we have wind! Does anyone know if the City, county, or state has applied for funding for turbines in this area under the alternative energy stimulus projects?

we need to get out of the endless legislation and planning loop.

I can move at the speed of thought til I need money to do something. Cities move on glacier time. Due process, which means the idea is filtered through every concerned, connected and interested party, before tangable results can be expected. By the time it is all practical, the technology has moved on and the originators of the idea has lost some enthusiasm. When the ground support is worn out and the gov has made it look like their idea, good luck!!

My research method goes like this. Put up low cost wind turbines in the known wind corridors. Put the monitoring devices on them, hook them to local users and put up a sign that says "site of probable upgraded wind energy system". Now that you have them, "progress is made by improving on what you have already established!!" Then recycle the lowcost units to other areas, while installing the permanent upgraded systems.

The same with solar, use the known technology, optimize the user side, suppliment with grid backup. Then upgrade as needed. Let the industries stay on the grid, they require an insane amount of power compared to homes.

While this is going on, introduce all the reduced energy use appliances and practices into these areas till the culture changes. Now you have done a good job.

The gov appears to be the ultimate black box to us outside of it. Our energy desires just may be a pork attraction device. You can have low cost energy provided...............

If it were a rock falling from space, there'd be no haggling, just coordinated button pushing. As long as there is "time" we can whine!

Solar Heating & Photovoltaics Combined


You might want to check out Dawn Solar: http://www.dawnsolar.com/power.html 

They have a gallery of photos like the one above.

Connecticut PV Thermal System with Standing Seam Metal Roof

I know a little bit about solar & wind here in NE Ohio.

Let me know...



By refusing to deal honorably with others, you dishonor yourself.

Thanks Bill, I am looking

Thank you Bill MacDermott, I checked out both sites, they are informative. Ovonics were invented by an Akron  Ohio native, Stanford Ovshinsky. He is a genius, a total genius from OHIO. I remember reading about him when he announced the amorphous solar cell years ago. So here is technology that was invented in the midwest (Michigan), without silicon I might add. Midwest solar is "on the house!!"

On your site I am getting some answers. Thanks Bill.

Personally I think it is wonderful to have all kinds of scientific breakthroughs and even products that only the more prosperous can afford. But the real challenge and progress is when the technology can be pushed down into the lives of average people, where they live.

Feed In Tariffs (FiT)

Regarding the economics of "alternative energy", there are those who say that Solar and Wind Power (and others) won't ever become mainstream without subsidies from the government. This is true.

What most people don't realize is that all other forms of "traditional power" are greatly subsidized. All the nuclear power facilities were built with the help of public monies. The research and development of the power plant design was carried out by the government. Their disposal of radioactive waste will be subsicized, and lastly, there was a law passed in the 50's that limits the liability of a nuclear powerplant owner in the case of a nuclear disaster to something like a billion dollars.

Coal is allowed to openly pollute. Not only from their smokestacks, but from the overburden waste from their strip mining and from the huge piles of lower quilality coal that tends to get piled up elsewhere on their property, creating acid mine drainage. If you drive some of the back roads around Athens, Ohio, you can see lots of this sort of pollution.

The oil companies are sold the rights to drill and harvest the oil and gas that is under federal lands, and public offshore sites, for a nominal fee, and they have gotten exceedingly rich from that benefit. They too were allowed to pollute our whole environment for decades with adomized lead from automobile exhaust, in order to generate additional revenue for themselves. Susan Miller posted a link to "the Secret History Of Lead" here, back in 2007, that describes this deadly business in detail.

Lastly, you can look up "feed in tariffs", Wikipedia article here. This is the best governmental subsidy method that I know of for alternative energy. Here is a clip from the Wikipedia article:


>>> A feed-in tariff (FiT, feed-in law, advanced renewable tariff[1] or renewable energy payments[2]) is a policy mechanism designed to encourage the adoption of renewable energy sources and to help accelerate the move toward grid parity.

It typically includes three key provisions: 1) guaranteed grid access, 2) long-term contracts for the electricity produced, and 3) purchase prices that are methodologically based on the cost of renewable energy generation [3]. Under a feed-in tariff, an obligation is imposed on regional or national electric grid utilities to buy renewable electricity (electricity generated from renewable sources, such as solar power, wind power, wave and tidal power, biomass, hydropower and geothermal power), from all eligible participants.[4].

The cost-based prices therefore enable a diversity of projects (wind, solar, etc.) to be developed, and for investors to obtain a reasonable return on renewable energy investments. This principle was first explained in Germany's 2000 RES Act:

“The compensation rates…have been determined by means of scientific studies, subject to the provision that the rates identified should make it possible for an installation – when managed efficiently – to be operated cost-effectively, based on the use of state-of-the-art technology and depending on the renewable energy sources naturally available in a given geographical environment.” (RES Act 2000, Explanatory Memorandum A)[5]

As a result, the rate may differ among various source of power generation, installation place (e.g. rooftop or ground-mounted), projects of different sizes and, sometime, by technology employed (solar, wind, geothermal, etc.). The rates are typically designed to ratchet downward over time to track technological change and overall cost reductions. This is consistent with keeping the payment levels in line with actual generation costs over time.

In addition, FITs typically offer a guaranteed purchase for electricity generated from renewable energy sources within long-term (15–25 year) contracts [6]. These contracts are typically offered in a non-discriminatory way to all interested producers of renewable electricity.

As of 2009, feed-in tariff policies have been enacted in 63 jurisdictions around the world, including in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iran, Republic of Ireland, Israel, Italy, the Republic of Korea, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and in some (nowadays, a dozen) states in the United States [7], and is gaining momentum in other ones as China, India and Mongolia.

In 2008, a detailed analysis by the European Commission concluded that "well-adapted feed-in tariff regimes are generally the most efficient and effective support schemes for promoting renewable electricity", going to grid parity.[8]. This conclusion has been supported by a number of recent analyses, including by the International Energy Agency [9],[10], the European Federation for Renewable Energy [11], as well as by Deutsche Bank [12].


It is currently rumored that the Obama administration is considering using Feed in tariffs as a way to promote our necessary transition to better power sources. It would be easy to include the requirement that the materials be sourced from US manufacturing plants, thereby providing a large quantity of "green jobs" that would certainly help with the current unemployment problem here.

Also, I am also a great fan of Stan Ovshinsky. I have spoken with him a few times in public situations, and have always been amazed at what a wonderful person he is.


By refusing to deal honorably with others, you dishonor yourself.

we work the black seam together!

Sting's "We work the black seam together" must be played behind reading your post Bill.  We are fighting a lose-lose situation. When we cry gov heavy hand the money grabbing public sector gets out of control. When we rein in the public sector the gov does the job for them. If both those sides are going the same direction, where is the change.

There is no difference in fossil fuel, nuke energy regulation and use, and methadone treatment. We be weaning for the next 100 years. If we can spread it over a lifetime or two we'll find out if glaciers have a thaw-freeze cycle or the poles are tipping.

You are right about the gov pay to play but this is a diehard football nation and anything green is soccer and sometines cricket.

I hear another song. "I paid the tariff........, but I couldn't get no subsidy."

I'm being silly but Bill you are right on.