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Solar energy would fulfill the world’s energy needs

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Posted: Saturday, December 22, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 5:59 am, Sat Dec 22, 2012.

Solar energy will meet the world's energy needs — when we do something about it. Everyone would want clean energy over dirty and dangerous energy. "And this would be sound thinking." I, too, have children and great-grandchildren — 10 of them at last count.

You know, Ed Walters, some of us do the walk and others just talk. I've been researching the sun for 40 years. I had the first solar company in California — Lodi Solar Co. in 1974 — and am still at it today.

Ed, don't blame the government or Obama for Solyndra. Blame the people who stole the money. For me, it was a black eye for solar. And the solar plants that are being built today are a joke. We can do a lot better.

I would drive an electric car if I could afford one. "But" research costs money. And, Ed, it's not difficult to store solar and use it at 2 a.m. I can see you don't know anything about solar energy. It's OK, Ed, you're in a long line of people.

Gary Kries


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  • Doug Chaney posted at 7:53 am on Mon, Dec 24, 2012.

    advocate Posts: 502

    For anyone interested, google up Bloom Energy and see the future of electric energy on the horizon. Many big corporations are using this system to supplement their energy needs on their campuses and some are cutting costs by as much as 40%. Check it out. They were featured on 60 Minutes three years ago.

  • Andrew Liebich posted at 6:30 pm on Sat, Dec 22, 2012.

    Andrew Liebich Posts: 2999

    You can turn off the computer, and choose whether or not to use a computer, but the StupidMeter is on all the time. Even if you turn off the power to your home, the StupidMeter will still be on. Besides, computer use isn't MANDATORY!

  • Kevin Paglia posted at 3:50 pm on Sat, Dec 22, 2012.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 2114

    Perfect for this conversation:


  • John Lucas posted at 2:31 pm on Sat, Dec 22, 2012.

    John Lucas Posts: 2730


  • Dan Haynes posted at 2:12 pm on Sat, Dec 22, 2012.

    Dan Haynes Posts: 9

    I was spending more than $5,500 per year at the gas pump before I bought the LEAF.
    Since I got it, my electric bill has gone up less than $30 per month. That is more than $5,000 in my pocket that would have blown out the tailpipe. You guys can argue about it, but those are the numbers. My trusty old pickup had 250,000 miles on it and was due for either retirement or catastrophic failure. If I already had a newer, fuel efficient car and if I hoped to pay for it out of fuel savings, it would have been a long slog, but I needed to invest in a vehicle upgrade. I can tell you there is nothing like driving 15,000 miles without ever pulling up to a gas pump, Unless it is driving 30,000 without pulling up to a gas pump.

  • Walter Chang posted at 1:23 pm on Sat, Dec 22, 2012.

    Walt Posts: 1191

    My statement above in regard to Robert Chapman's post...

    Of course!!


  • John Lucas posted at 1:07 pm on Sat, Dec 22, 2012.

    John Lucas Posts: 2730

    No, just the profits of those in the near future who will make massive fortunes off the technologies that take advantage wind and solar.

  • Robert Chapman posted at 12:40 pm on Sat, Dec 22, 2012.

    Bob Chapman Posts: 997

    I can imagine that the IRS is working at a feverish pace trying to figure out how to tax sunshine and wind.

  • Robert Chapman posted at 12:39 pm on Sat, Dec 22, 2012.

    Bob Chapman Posts: 997

    Dan Haynes, WHAT? No Chevy Volt? You might be on someone's "naughty" list this Christmas.

  • John Lucas posted at 12:33 pm on Sat, Dec 22, 2012.

    John Lucas Posts: 2730

    An old computer professor of mine used to say that there would be a technical problem and some bearded hippie looking guy at Berkeley would come up with the answer. There are hundreds of thousands working on these problems in universities and research labs around the world. I do not think it will be a big "ah ha" but a lot of little "ah ha's" that will thrust these technologies into the future faster than we now think possible

  • Kevin Paglia posted at 12:19 pm on Sat, Dec 22, 2012.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 2114

    Just to argue the point on your last statement. How many of the negative reposrts on Solar tech do you think comes from the big oil/energy companies that see their future profits in jeapordy from solar tech?

    Anyway, here is an interesting read on new solar and GREEN tech. It is not as efficient, but it is a starting point and who knows where it can go from there.

  • John Lucas posted at 11:59 am on Sat, Dec 22, 2012.

    John Lucas Posts: 2730

    Pretty cool.

  • John Lucas posted at 11:55 am on Sat, Dec 22, 2012.

    John Lucas Posts: 2730

    The market will decide the issue. Solar and wind are the way of the future. We are at the stage where the horse and buggy ruled the world and the automobile came along. Solar and wind are going to rule faster than anyone thinks. There are just too much money to be made with them. Again, the beauty of the market system.

  • John Lucas posted at 11:48 am on Sat, Dec 22, 2012.

    John Lucas Posts: 2730

    From the article:
    A car with an internal combustion engine that gets 25 mpg will require $1,800 in gasoline (at $3 per gallon) over a year of driving (15,000 miles), which works out to $0.12 per mile. The Leaf can be programmed to start charging in the wee hours, when off-peak electric rates apply—a feature that makes consumption economical. At $0.11 per kwh, the Leaf costs $0.026 per mile to operate, or $396 for 15,000 miles—a savings of about $1,400 (per year).

    Read more: Nissan Leaf Facts - Electric Car Facts - Popular Mechanics
    more at http://www.popularmechanics.com/cars/reviews/hybrid-electric/10-things-you-didnt-know-about-the-nissan-leaf

    Pretty cool. I do not drive enough to warrant buying one as I drive less than 5000 miles a year. I will have to live with my mommy wagon but for someone who commutes a lot it looks like a good investment.

    From the article:

    The Bottom Bottom Line? $19,280
    Starting at $25,280 (after a $7,500 federal rebate), the Leaf costs less than the average new car sold in America. In addition, some states offer extra incentives. For instance, California offers a $5,000 clean-vehicle rebate, and Colorado residents are eligible to receive an additional $6,000 tax credit, which brings the price tag down to $19,280. Even for $26,000, the Leaf is a lot of car. Try outfitting a Toyota Prius with a navigation system and satellite radio, and you're pushing $30,000. Lessees can cash in immediately with a government-subvented lease deal of $349 per month (in which case Nissan's financial subsidiary takes the refund).

    As for the optional $2,200 charging station, the government currently offers a $2,000 tax credit toward installing a personal charging dock in your garage, which puts the cost at less than what you'd pay for an iPod Nano. Moreover, Nissan estimates that there will be 12,000 public charging stations in place across the country by this time next year.

    Read more: Nissan Leaf Facts - Electric Car Facts - Popular Mechanics

  • Patrick W Maple posted at 11:46 am on Sat, Dec 22, 2012.

    Pat Maple Posts: 1805

    Kevin: I don't pretend to be a solar expert but here are a few sites that talk about some of the problems and some of the solutions: http://www.oregon.gov/odot/hwy/oipp/docs/life-cyclehealthandsafetyconcerns.pdf

    This last site (the most informational) says: "New research shows, albeit unintentional, that generating electricity with solar panels can also be a very bad idea. In some cases, producing electricity by solar panels releases more greenhouse gases than producing electricity by gas or even coal."

    and: "The optimistic conclusions of the researchers are based on a life expectancy of 30 years and solar insolation in the Mediterranean" which is where the most sun lands.

    Remember, the people who have the most to gain from these products are no different than the oil people...they want, need and must generate a profit, therefore be suspect of their data...

  • Kevin Paglia posted at 11:38 am on Sat, Dec 22, 2012.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 2114

    I thought this was kind of a fun look through. These are off the grid "green" houses.


  • John Lucas posted at 11:37 am on Sat, Dec 22, 2012.

    John Lucas Posts: 2730

    Yes, the infrastructure to support electric vehicles will take time to develop. I think the time will come when parking meters will double as charging stations. The government has a role but the private sector will hammer down when they figure out a way to make a good buck off of it. The beauty of our system.

  • John Lucas posted at 11:25 am on Sat, Dec 22, 2012.

    John Lucas Posts: 2730

    I think the news outlet we watch and listen to has a lot to do with what we think about this and other issues.


  • John Lucas posted at 11:20 am on Sat, Dec 22, 2012.

    John Lucas Posts: 2730


  • John Lucas posted at 11:19 am on Sat, Dec 22, 2012.

    John Lucas Posts: 2730

    My brother in law has a swimming pool and jacuzzi that is solar heated. Very cheap.

  • John Lucas posted at 11:18 am on Sat, Dec 22, 2012.

    John Lucas Posts: 2730

    Cool truck, Kevin. In a few years the range will probably at least double from the 100 miles it is now. I find this sort of stuff exciting for the future

  • John Lucas posted at 10:38 am on Sat, Dec 22, 2012.

    John Lucas Posts: 2730


  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 10:18 am on Sat, Dec 22, 2012.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9405

    I think solar is fantastic... give it 40 years, and it just might evolve into something viable to meet our energy needs. Until then, Mr Kinderman is spot on... drill baby drill .

    we can bring down gas prices by supply and demand principles. Once solar can replace oil, then I say...GO SOLAR, until then, it is an exercise in stupidity to decrease oil drilling.

  • Jerome Kinderman posted at 10:04 am on Sat, Dec 22, 2012.

    Jerome R Kinderman Posts: 2370

    Nissan Leaf: $27,700 after federal tax credit. (http://www.nissanusa.com/leaf-electric-car/index)

    These cars are going to have to become much more reasonable before the majority of Americans (like me) will be able to afford them.

  • Kevin Paglia posted at 10:04 am on Sat, Dec 22, 2012.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 2114

    Had to throw this is as an interesting read on some developments in solar:


  • Jien Kaur posted at 10:00 am on Sat, Dec 22, 2012.

    Jien Kaur Posts: 384

    If John D. Rockefeller listened to the type of thinking expressed here, we would still be using kerosene lamps to light our homes, gasoline would still be a useless biproduct that most oil companies dumped in rivers, and our main transportation would be by horse and buggy.

  • Kevin Paglia posted at 9:45 am on Sat, Dec 22, 2012.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 2114

    As a side note to the Electric car line of conversation: I was up in Sacramento Downtown and saw a parking structure with a couple spaces in each level with a charging station for electric cars.

  • Kevin Paglia posted at 9:42 am on Sat, Dec 22, 2012.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 2114

    Computer is messing with me.

    Anyways, thank you for the offer. Unfortunately I am still years away from needing to replace my current vehicle. When I do I wil be looking for somethng like this:


  • Kevin Paglia posted at 9:39 am on Sat, Dec 22, 2012.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 2114


  • Dan Haynes posted at 9:01 am on Sat, Dec 22, 2012.

    Dan Haynes Posts: 9

    Kevin, look at the Nissan LEAF. I have been driving one since February and already have 15,000 miles on it. It is the best thing ever. If you are interested in driving it, I would happily offer a drive to you and no, I am not a Nissan shill, I am a very satisfied owner and I am concerned about the long term effects of our collectively careless actions regarding the climate.

    Solar, along with wind, bio and geo, WILL play a huge part in supplying our future energy needs, saving finite supplies of fossil fuels for those purposes that are not easily substituted by renewables. Many progressive countries are already supplying more than 50% of their electricity needs by renewables.

  • Kevin Paglia posted at 8:54 am on Sat, Dec 22, 2012.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 2114

    Andrew, the computer screen you are looking at right now is emiting more radiation than you get from the Smartmeters. Better shut it down.

  • Kevin Paglia posted at 8:53 am on Sat, Dec 22, 2012.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 2114

    Actually Solar cells last much longer than that. They lose .5% efficency a year. There are a LOT of homes with solar installed inthe 70's that are still enjoying the benifits of solar power.

    I would be interested in seeing the numbers on waste product comparison between solar and conventional power for a single house. Over the life of the solar cells would a house use more or less toxic material? Although, 40 year old sola cells are still going well enough. I wonder how long Modern tech ones would last.

  • Andrew Liebich posted at 8:45 am on Sat, Dec 22, 2012.

    Andrew Liebich Posts: 2999

    Denial may offer comforts you find appealing but in the end it's still denial.[sleeping]

  • Walter Chang posted at 8:33 am on Sat, Dec 22, 2012.

    Walt Posts: 1191

    Wear a "tin foil hat" and you'll be OK!


  • Patrick W Maple posted at 8:26 am on Sat, Dec 22, 2012.

    Pat Maple Posts: 1805

    Solar panels last 20 to 25 years with diminishing returns each year. If properly recycled (which they are not in the US) the solar cells can be re-cycled. The point being made was that there are toxins, waste, hazardous materials and by-products that no one seems to want to talk about...potentially they could be just as hazardous as coal, oil or gas. Remember...windmills don't kill birds, buildings don't kill birds...only oil does.

  • Andrew Liebich posted at 8:09 am on Sat, Dec 22, 2012.

    Andrew Liebich Posts: 2999

    SmartMeters are really StupidMeters.

    Why? How about because they overcharge you, broadcast your personal info and detailed energy use habits, emit electromagnetic radiation that can cause cancer, damage your DNA, and harm wildlife, catch fire, and disable your shock prevention devices.

    Need any more reasons? Go to the Stop Smart Meters page.


  • Kevin Paglia posted at 8:08 am on Sat, Dec 22, 2012.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 2114

    An oil shrotage is a very real threat in my kids life. I will do everything I can to promote alternatives to our dependance on oil as I can. By time I need a new car I am VERY confident that electric cars will be more efficent. If not I might make my own ;-)

    When we move I will make the new house "off the grid", or at least as mch as possible.

    I always compare the solar tech to computer tech. We are one break thru away from making Solar/wind reasonable. But that won't happen with out private sector support.

  • Kevin Paglia posted at 8:00 am on Sat, Dec 22, 2012.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 2114

    Jerome: When do you propose we, the American people, start taking alternative energy seriously?

    Patrick: Do you know how long a solar cell lasts?

  • Patrick W Maple posted at 7:54 am on Sat, Dec 22, 2012.

    Pat Maple Posts: 1805

    Gary: You installed a hot water solar system on my house 30 years ago..it is still there and is still working. Saved me some good money. You had a good product and some other good stuff too that used the sun...but people didn't buy it...times were too good and the market for hot water fell (save for maybe pools). There are many draw-backs to solar electric panels and even fewer solutions for disposal. Chemicals, toxins and hazardous waste as well as by-products such as Silicon tetrachloride, or processing hazardous materials such as Crystalline silica dust classified as a known human carcinogen or Chlorosilanes and hydrogen
    chloride that are toxic and highly volatile, reacting explosively with water.Then comes the hazardous waste of the product after it has been used up...what then?
    What happens to toxic heavy metals such as lead, mercury and cadmium.

    JK: As always well thought out letter.

    Gopher: You have always been a pretty smart cookie...let go of some of your secrets.

  • Thomas Heuer posted at 7:44 am on Sat, Dec 22, 2012.

    nth degree wise Posts: 1675


  • John Lucas posted at 7:27 am on Sat, Dec 22, 2012.

    John Lucas Posts: 2730

    Time will tell the story. Solar and wind has had a yearly growth rate of over 25% over the last 5 years. These technologies are new and the improvement curve is huge. I think the next ten years are going to shock everybody.

  • Jerome Kinderman posted at 7:11 am on Sat, Dec 22, 2012.

    Jerome R Kinderman Posts: 2370

    As long as fossil fuels are cheaper and more reliable there isn't much of a need for the industry to attempt to stop anything else that might be on the horizon. They’re simply trying to do a job – and as far as I can tell they’re doing alright.

    As Mr. Kries attests to himself, he'd have an electric car but he can't afford it; and the solar plants being built today are some sort of "joke." He harshly criticizes Ed Walters as being ignorant about solar while indicating that he was on the cutting edge of the industry in 1974 - that it's "not difficult to store solar energy." Great - so why isn't solar today not a joke; why does it seam to us to be difficult to store it for use when the sun isn't shining? Where are you today with all of your knowledge, Mr. Kries?

    Of course it's not too hard to do the math here and realize that you're not so young, sir. Maybe full-time work is no longer an option or there are other things keeping you from passing on these secrets - but I would think if you really do care about your kids, grand-kids and so on that you'd find a way to advance this industry you think is "it."

    As far as who's to blame for Solyndra and others that bilked the government out of so much money, you're right - the bad guys at that company should certainly shoulder the lion's share of the blame. But what about the guys that handed over all that money, why didn't they do a better job vetting Solyndra before being so loose with money that wasn't even theirs? Ah, that's the real problem isn't it, Mr. Kries - it ISN'T their money. Personally they had nothing to lose. And they (along with President Obama) knew that The People wouldn’t hold their feet to the fire over the loss.

    Well, the government is worthy of that black eye. And now the entire solar industry is rightfully suffering. I've never pretended to know or understand the finer points of solar power, but I do a lot of reading on the subject. In my opinion, it's no where near ready for prime time. So until it is, we'd better be sure there's enough fossil to go around. And while it might be dirty, it works and the skies are much cleaner than they were in 1974.

  • John Lucas posted at 4:12 am on Sat, Dec 22, 2012.

    John Lucas Posts: 2730

    Good letter Gary. If you have been in the business awhile I would like you to comment on some things I think are important.

    I believe we need to invest in a smart grid. From what I have read you can increase the transmission distance of electricity from 70 to 700 miles. It also has the capability for anyone to supply electricity to the grid from anywhere along the grid.

    I believe that we are in the beginning of an energy boom similar to the computer revolution. We are at about 1990 in terms of where we are in comparison. I believe the technology involved especially in batteries i set to take off. We have already come a long way in the last 10 years and the rate of improvement is set to skyrocket. I believe in 10 years most cars will be electric. I believe if we invest in a smart grid all sort of entrepreneurs will sell electricity using green energies especially wind and solar. I think the growth rate of solar and wind energy is set to skyrocket. What do you think?

    I think the fossil fuel industry knows these things and is doing every thing in it power to stop it.


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