Scandinavia and the World
Scandinavia and the World

Comments #9591649:


Lucky Accident 7 2, 1:11am

While on the surface, rooftop power makes very good sense, the current generation of solar panels depends on toxic chemistry to manufacture and are generally not cheap enough to compete with grid power.
As I understand it, where Solar shines is in places that are too expensive, or too mobile, to connect to the grid.
Some places subsidize solar panel placement, but this just hides the actual cost from the end-consumer. It's like subsidizing corn for ethanol, only in this case it's subsidizing an overseas manufacturer and not even a domestic farmer.
I have heard of a technology that allowed Solar panels to be printed, and there was a manufacturer in New England that banked a lot on that technique. The US Army was interested, as they could print camouflage pattern solar tents. The resulting solar panels had a lower efficiency, but were also far cheaper to manufacture. Ultimately, the company went bankrupt, as many bleeding edge companies do. talks about it, but DO NOT follow the link you find there to the company in question. It's not dead, but rather the URL has been claimed by something that my AV just blocked. Still, in eight years or so when the patent's have lapsed, maybe someone else can give this idea a shot.

Wind, on the other hand, has its own problems. Efficient motors involve not-so-rare "Rare Earth" metals, that are toxic to work with, (which is why China has a lock on the production, not because they have the only deposits but because they're willing to cut more corners in producing it,) and are involved in bird strike deaths. I suspect, in concentration, we'd find some rather interesting weather changes, as well. You can't tap an energy source without reducing it.
Fortunately, they're not THAT tall. Storm clouds still ride above them. But ground wind patterns will probably be effected. That's not necessarily a bad thing. We planted trees one hundred years ago to temper the winds in order to offset the effects of our tillage practices of the day.