Here Comes the Sun

I planned this post a few days ago, but in the interim two things have happened which will heighten its relevance. First, our fellow humans in Beijing are having a hard time breathing, much less seeing the sun. When George Harrison of The Beatles first wrote this song, his intent was some variation of the sun will come up tomorrow and everything will be alright. He most likely did not envision the needed utility from the sun to help power our planet without damning us to a tougher life in a toxic environment. Second, my friend Amaya republished an article from The Grist on her excellent blog www.thebrabblerabble.wordpress.com called “The 32 Most Alarming Charts from the Government Climate Change Report.” Please check out this post and its charts.

To remedy our climate change dilemma which is progressing at a rate worse than expected, we must move in a concerted manner away from fossil fuel energy sources and to alternative energy sources. And, for those who tout all the jobs in the fossil fuel industry, I keep reading about the vast number of jobs created by those in the alternative energy field which is growing, but needs to pick up the pace with greater funding. Yet, the fossil fuel industry has done an excellent job of discrediting the alternative energy approaches that the successes are still somewhat of a mystery to many. The two greatest sources of alternative energy are wind and solar energy, but they are only two of several. I have spoken about both and will save wind energy for another day, but I would like to highlight a few solar energy success stories that would do justice to George’s song.

Last week, it was announced that the state of California has reached 1 Gigawatt (1,000 megawatts) of electricity from solar energy. That exceeds the level of solar energy produced by any of the other 49 states and is a level few countries have achieved. It is the equivalent of the electricity produced by two conventional power plants. It is part of the California Million Solar Roofs Initiative which has $33 Billion worth of incentives. Per a spokesperson, “The costs are going down as we hoped and the market is getting closer to self-sufficiency.” This last quote is important as many have believed the market must continue to be propped up, but the technology continues to improve and is three times more efficient today than it was a few years ago and further improvements are possible.

To this point, in an earlier post I referenced a Durham, North Carolina company called Semprius, who is a joint venture funded by the Department of Defense, Siemens and Pratt Whitney Rocketdyne (PWR). Semprius has the state of the art photovoltaic solar panel that can convert 33.9% of the sun’s energy to electricity. Before the rate of conversion was around 24% at best. That is almost a 42% rate of improvement. The DOD has sanctioned the Sempruis technology to be deployed at Edwards Air Force Base to produce 200 kilowatts of electricity. This solar panel system can power about 40 homes. A spokesperson said, “Having spent several years evaluating emerging photovoltaic technology, we have selected Semprius because of the potential of the technology to drive down costs of solar electricity significantly.”

Finally, Duke Energy, the largest US energy utility, has developed a 12.5 megawatt solar project in Beaufort County’s Washington White Post Solar Farm. This project can power 3,000 homes and involves several NC companies such as SunEnergy1, Deatwyler Clean Energy, Bosch Solar Energy and Sustainable Community Development Company. I mention these companies not with the purpose to name drop, but to illustrate there are viable enterprises that employ solar technicians, construction managers, solar thermal installers, software developers, etc. to develop and maintain alternative energy.,

The beauty of the solar energy industry is not just the clean source of energy. It is also in its elegance – most of these projects are small in nature. They need not be large-scale. Yet, development is going on around the globe and in the US which will do large-scale solar energy projects. This solar technology when partnered with wind and other forms of alternative energy and conservation measures such as the miles per gallon car standards, will be the much needed wave to address our global warming crisis.

In the US, we need a long term strategy that will accelerate the decline in fossil fuel energy and let us move forward into more alternative energy. Solar energy is a key part of this strategy. George Harrison is no longer with us, but given his bent for the pursuit of a simpler world, he would be singing “Here Comes the Sun” with new meaning.

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16 thoughts on “Here Comes the Sun

  1. Why we continue to pursue fossil fuels, and are now politically bragging that we are heading to self-sufficiency in the future is beyond me. Even the Saudi’s are moving away from oil to other forms of power. We are rapidly sliding down the slope towards third-world mediocrity. Great post

    • Thanks Barney. Bill Maher just said on his first show of the season that the media likes to create panic about everything else, but ignores the one thing we should be panicked about – climate change. Of course, he had a conservative media person on the show who still is not sure about climate change. He also had a Palestinian American who said we are the most entertained, but least informed citizenry in the world and used climate change as an example of that.

      • No argument here! Why do I feel like we are the Roman empire, all over again, with the Roman congress providing us more entertainment, while the coluseum and everything around us is crumbling.

      • It is funny, we have to do something about our infrastructure, which will help in recovery, yet it will cost money. It needs a concerted plan and execution. Thanks for your comments, BTG

  2. Perhaps americans are preparing for the collapse of just about everything that global warming will bring about in the only way they know how. Following an old and time honored american way of getting what americans decide they not only need, but, have a God given right to have.

    They are arming themselves in preparation for the time when they have to TAKE it.

    • Thanks Mrs. N. Interesting supposition. God only knows what some of the idiot fringe want. They sad part of all of this is the idiot fringe is getting too much airplay on the increasingly bizarre network news called Fox News and of course the internet. I noted to Hugh yesterday, that Colbert and Stewart lampooned Fox News with a little Limbaugh, and they really did not have to try that hard. All they needed to do was show the many clips of inanity and facially grimace. When the so called newscasters are clueless, how can you expect to inform?

      • BTG… The idiot fringe, as you call them, want the same thing everybody else wants. They want to KNOW that… (1) Their life has value. (2) The world has meaning. If you can’t give them that they will flock to someone who will, no matter how crazy that person may appear to you or I and no matter how “idiotic” what they are selling may be. If you doubt my word on this see: Scientology, Mormonism & Jehovah’s Witnesses (I would have suggested that you have lunch with a Rotarian, but, even I have my limits.)

        As for myself I’m not willing to take sides in who is, or, isn’t getting “too much airplay. That is like sex & food. It’s not something you can do just “a little” of once you first get started. It’s just not up to me to tell you what reality is, unless someone insists and if they do… well, they usually regret it. I live in a Southern Baptist Redneck Wonderland where Obama hates America, is a Muslim and you have to be crazy NOT to be stockpiling guns and ammunition.

        But, you know what BTG… Facts have nothing to do with reality. 100 years from now what you, or, I “thought was “idiot Fringe” won’t mean a damn thing. The history books will be written by who ever is still standing and, in Virginia anyway, they may very well be wearing a coon skin cap and chewing on a squirrel leg. Think about it BTG. If Jesus, Mohammed, Joseph Smith and L.Ron Hubbadubbard weren’t “Idiot Fringe” in their time…. Nobody ever was.

        All the best
        Mrs. N.

      • Mrs. N, you always have interesting views and make me think. Thank you for that. I can’t remember who the author of this thought was, but his point which agrees in direction with yours and mine, that every town has people who are zealous in their views and many in the town know this an avoid them. The internet has created a world where the zealous few can find kindred spirits and a community of zeal on a particular topic is created. I worry that we have more so called mainstream news or people that cultivate that and add to their flocks. Your group think examples are good ones. I do think we need our truthseekers to try and get real messages out to as many as can be reached. L Ron Hubbard is viewed in a lesser light outside his flock. e.g. Thanks for writing. Your opinions are appreciated. BTG

  3. Pingback: Global Warming and Daily Prompt « Zeebra Designs & Destinations

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