Re: Making 'Clean Energy' Pay
From: John Beutler (
Date: Sun, 15 Oct 2006 08:20:50 -0700 (PDT)
Nothing against solar, but no one has (recently) mentioned ground source heat pumps. Since most of our residential energy needs are concerned with heating and cooling houses, this is an awfully good way to save energy, IMHO. No visual impact, no noise, some capital investment, pretty good repair record - what's not to like ? Add some passive solar and PV, and you might be in pretty good shape ! Yes, you need space to drill a well, but we have18 ground source wells running here at LV in a clustered unit layout with almost no problems in 5 years.



Before anybody gets TOOOO excited about this, it ends up not meaning
much. Most people don't live where the winds blow strong on frequent
basis. That really reduces the issue to solar or biomass. Doubtful that
many compact communities can generate enough biomass to make
electricity production important, which reduces it down now to just

The US government provides good maps showing the long-term solar energy
by month and by yearly averages, but I found their interface too
awkward so I made my own version.

Look and see if you are in an area of really good solar energy, and you
will find that only six southwestern sunbelt states have the best, and
even places like the "Sunshine State" of Florida are not so good.

Canada is not included, but you can get some idea based on Alaska and
the norther Tier of states what kind of expectations to have up north.

You might find it interesting that Northern Alaska gets more, better,
solar energy than south Alaska, but even so, the cost of panels is the
same in Arozona as Alaska and Arizona gets 5 times the sunshine falling
on the same panels, so the cost is 5 times greater per kilowatt of
panels up north.

The further north the more seasonal bias, so that the long days (24
hours in the Arctic mid summer) means a big boost in summer and nothing
much the rest of the year.

Since you are only getting that $0.42 in peak summer and buying grid
electricity much of the year, it is not quite the money generator that
it first looks. Solar may actually produce at greater quantities under
certain snow and cloud conditions in mid winter than it does in peak
hours in mid summer, but those are going to be rare exceptions to the

Therefore, I smell an industry incentive here for biogas, corporate
wind farms, and solar manufacturers, with som window-dressing for a
Kyoto signatory showing they are "trying".

China has a serious government funded program to develop mass
manufacturing techniques for large volume production of solar hot water
heating, which is a better energy investment than heating hot water
with electricity or carbon-energy sources.

A national policy about passive solar homes, removal of zoning
restrictions requiring houses to be oriented towards the streets
instead of oriented towards the winter sun, would show that are taking
the issue seriously.

For people who are not quite sure how seriously to take the issues I
have composed some show-and-tell about a few of 2006 tropical storms
and hurricanes that you might not have heard of.

BENINCA happened near the Phillipines in early October. It put on a
spectacular show than dissipated. The radiant energy recorded was
computed at 276 megawatts of TNT per hour just in the glowing hot core.

The hot core was measured 306 miles in diameter, large enough to drop
category-5 hurricane IOKE into. IOKE was another of those tropical
storms nobody heard of, but it ended up in the Arctic where it melted
38,000 square miles of ice ten feet thick.

BEBINCA, what ever happened to Bebinca? It broke both ends of the
Alaska Pipeline this week, dropped 9 inches of rain on Valdez, and
pushed out a great mass of cold air which it followed. Those of you
under snow from Chicago to Buffalo, under sleet from St. Louis to
Kentucky, say hello to Bebinca.

Show & Tell:

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John Beutler
Liberty Village, MD
jbeutler [at]

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