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Global warming

Posted by wodcutr 
June 23, 2009 07:28AM
I'm just finishing up a graduate course on Alternative Energy Sources, and naturally we did a fair bit on solar panels. They are actually quite a bit more efficient in cold weather than when they're hot. Obviously the days are longer in summer and one tends to get more sunlight, but the fact that they have higher output when they are cold somewhat compensates for that. Of course if they're covered with snow they can't collect much sunlight, but pitch angle of the roof or other means of snow clearing could help with that. Not saying that solar cells are the answer to all of the house's energy questions, but they can certainly help out. I totally understand the economics factor, too. There are hydrogen "crackers" that can be installed in people's homes that take natural gas as an input and output electricity and water, enough to run residential homes' electricity from natural gas, which is fairly plentiful and cheaper (and cleaner) than coal-fired electricity. Unfortunately those are still quite expensive, but the day is not too many years away where one could power their home entirely from natural gas, and only take a few years to payback the initial investment.

My preference, if I were building a house, would be to look into solar panels at least as a supplement, to reduce my dependence on the electric grid. If done well, the solar panels can completely power your house, and you can sell back power to the electric company when you have an excess. Then the investment is paid back even sooner.

Cab
1990 325i(s)
2004 325XiT
June 23, 2009 08:32AM
You guys don't seem to understand the problem with 10 feet of snow. The amount of energy it would take to keep the solar panels snow free would exceed the output of the panel. Green technology is only worth while if done under very favorable circumstances and those ideal parameters are not going to be found in the woods @ 9000 ft. I have built homes that use a solar panel for minimal electrical use to run a pump and such. They have gas lighting inside and a gas range. The only heat source is a wood stove. Pretty primitive setup IMO. It is a cabin so no biggie, but if you had to deal with that kind of a setup for everyday use you would soon upgrade to a more modern and convenient form of energy usage. My dream is to buy some land and build a small pond with a water flow electrical generation dam. Then I can have all the power I want and sell the excess to the local power co. That is proven technology and relatively cheap in comparison not to mention longevity. If I could only find the right piece of land!
June 23, 2009 08:25PM
Most residences where there is regularly ten feet of snow have very steeply pitched roofs because that much weight is much better off on the ground than on the structure. Yes, I do understand snow, we might not always have 10' (although we do some winters), but we do get a little of the white stuff in New England.

My point was simply that solar panels are more efficient when they're cold than hot, so they shouldn't be dismissed out of hand simply because the house is in an area that gets cold and snowy winters. I totally understand the cost equation that must be calculated to determine if renewable energy sources are a feasible alternative. But don't just assume I'm a dolt and don't understand the issue. smiling bouncing smiley

Cab
1990 325i(s)
2004 325XiT
June 23, 2009 08:41PM
Quote
Cab Treadway
But don't just assume I'm a dolt and don't understand the issue. smiling bouncing smiley

Now now cabby I hope that you do not think that I in any way think your a dolt! Not that I even know the definition of that word, but I can assume that it is not a positive reference.

I am no pro on dealing with solar technology, but I do know this - that learning something from a book is a whole lot different that applying it to real life situations. I can read the bentley all day long, but until I actually get my hands dirty I don't really know what I am talking about if you know what I mean. I think any green technology is a step in the right direction, but right now the costs far out weigh the benefits and that is why the government has to subsidize to even get a normal person to even look into it. Who knows, maybe someday we will all be driving around tiny nuclear reactors that cost pennies to run. eye popping smiley
June 24, 2009 07:20PM
Quote
wodcutr
but right now the costs far out weigh the benefits and that is why the government has to subsidize to even get a normal person to even look into it. Who knows, maybe someday we will all be driving around tiny nuclear reactors that cost pennies to run. eye popping smiley

The reason that the costs outweigh the benefits is because the present cost (or price if the proper term is used) is not correct. The use of fossil fuels, including gas, and their 'cost', does not take into consideration the environmaental costs, etc., thus the costs (price) looks low , therefore discouraging trying other energy sources. If those fuels were taxed appropriately (carbon tax or other) then solar and other sources would look good. The money collected from the use of fossil fuels could be used to help the alternative fuels solutions.

BTW, there is a much simpler way to get nuclear fuel to power your car than a small nuclear reactor - just use electricity produced from nuclear!:wink:

Salut, Bob P.
June 24, 2009 08:36PM
Quote
Bob P 325is 88
...
BTW, there is a much simpler way to get nuclear fuel to power your car than a small nuclear reactor - just use electricity produced from nuclear!:wink:

Salut, Bob P.

Sounds like a product endorsement to me winking smiley
June 25, 2009 07:33AM
There are no "good" energies, just some have less impact on environment than others.
Nuclear energy is very good, except for the nuclear waste produced.
Alternatives, are fossil fuel power stations, polluting the air and burning non-renewable fuel.
Big dams destroy valleys and complete ecosystems, and they produce CO2, by decomposing of dead stuff under the still watter mass.
Wind generators are very unreliably, they tend to produce more or less completely off of the hours of higher consumption.

Now back to the little wood cabin from wodcutr. A good fireplace powered by the wood picked from the surrounding forest is low-tech and can be used with a heat recovery system to heat watter for the bathroom and central heating. It can work cascaded with a gas or oil boiler, if one doesn't want to fire the thing, or to work automatically under the control of the building management system.
Wood burning may be sustainable, provided the forest from which the wood comes is preserved, and the CO2 released from burning was captured before by the living plant. Plus if the forest is cleaned from dead wood laing around it prevents fires from spreading, wich is a good help for firefighters.

JP
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