Sunday, October 14, 2007

Solar-Powered Cville?

I've long felt that if we could figure out a way to generate solar power on a marketable scale here in Cville, there are enough residents and business owners (not to mention the City itself, hopefully) who would opt to pay a little more for clean, renewable, locally-produced energy that solar could become a viable source of electricity. With the help of a local solar-energy entrepreneur, new renewable energy targets adopted by this year's General Assembly, and existing federal tax credits for solar energy production, it seems like we may finally be heading in that direction. Stay tuned...


The Road Runner said...

What’s inhibiting the widespread development of solar energy is the prohibitive cost - it is about five times more expensive in Virginia than traditional electricity sources, according to Genest.

I don't think 5 times the expense is a slight increase.

Wind power is coming down in cost much faster than solar power. However, people tend to not like the upfront costs of either of these alternatives or their appearance. And yes, Texas is the largest wind-power producer in our country.

Massachusetts had a "big deal" about adding a wind farm in Nantucket Sound, even resorting to using "environmentalism" as a means to block it (never mind that the loss of pollution far outweighs the alternatives). It ultimately came down to people not wanting to see the machines out on the horizon of their beautiful bay.

Personally, I think wind generators are beautiful structures. And they're fun to tilt at.

You might find the comments on FPL's site enlightening. These guys know what it takes to produce and sell alternative energy. "These (solar) systems are presently expensive to install and the payback is decades long. However, many of these systems also are capable of connecting to FPL’s power grid and can return excess generation to the company."

I know you will try to do what's best for C-ville...

DaveNorris said...

The "five times more expensive" comment is more than a little deceptive (I'm quite certain it doesn't factor in all the hidden or embedded costs [heavily subsidized by us taxpayers] of producing coal- or nuclear-generated power); it's also directed at the production cost, not the purchase cost, of solar energy -- keep in mind there are federal tax credits and other incentives (all of which need to be increased, in my humble opinion) which bring down the purchase price to a more affordable level. Even at a higher rate, though, especially in the small amounts of electricity we're talking about, I have no doubt there is a sufficient number of property owners in Cville who would opt to purchase solar power to make this a viable undertaking -- assuming we can pull all the pieces together to make it happen. At the end of the day, however, you are correct -- wind is a much more financially attractive option (for now) and we are already exploring how to buy into that market too.