Archive for May 3rd, 2008
On April 24th & 25th, I attended the Texas Solar Forum at the capital. It would probably have been better to send someone with a science background to cover it but I did learn quite a few interesting facts about solar power.
A survey was done 25 years ago asking people where they thought they would be getting their energy in the 21st century. 48% of the people surveyed said they would be using solar power. Sad to say in Texas only .01% of power is supplied by solar power at this time.
Texas and America are at a point where we can become leaders in the solar industry or major importers from other companies. I would hate to see Texas waste the resources we have right here in our state and buy from other countries and states. Several of the panelist through out the two days talked about the skills and resources already available in Texas from the semi conductor business and highly trained scientist at Texas universities.
Germany, which leads the world in solar power, has created over 20,000 new jobs in clean energy which amounts to the same as all automotive jobs in Germany. Just think if we did the same here in America.
America at this time only accounts for 8% of the solar power in the world.
If you look at the following map, you will see by color which areas of the country have the most sunlight than can be used for power. Texas is one of the top sites. This map is from 2004 so with global warming I think we have more sunlight now than 3 years ago.
The Texas Business Review April 2007 gives a great overview of why Texas needs to get busy instead of wasting time on coal plants and oil wells.
I was intrigued to see Bob Manning, Director of Engineering for HEB, there. Bob brought home a lot of points about why Texas and a lot of Texas businesses are not jumping at the chance to use solar power. It is still cost prohibitive. A member of the audience asked what type of price would make it feasible and Mr. Manning said “It would have to pay for itself in 5 years. Currently, with no incentives from the state or local municipalities, the price was not one a company can absorb as they deal with higher prices and lower profits.”
I know we have all seen the newspaper stories where companies such as Starbucks have started adding solar panels to their drive through windows to help save energy. Starbucks is based in California where the state does give huge incentives for for companies that go green.
This is where the Texas Legislature(and other states)and US Congress have to catch up. Instead of giving subsidies to oil companies who are making multi-billion dollar profits, they need to start investing in the future.
Do I think we will see solar power become a big industry in Texas? YES!!! The plans the different companies were putting forth which included combining wind and solar in the same ares so that an area was used to maximum both day and night made lots of sense even to a none science person like me. One of the biggest problems facing solar companies in Texas is there is no standardization in the electric industry in Texas. Each electric district has their own coupling or linking systems and with solar on businesses and homes you have to have a way for solar to override or tie into the current power system as well as feed back into it.
I never realized that extra power your home or business generates from solar has to be bought from you by the local power company. In Germany, the government set prices at which the power companies had to buy solar power from individuals and guaranteed it for 20 years. That is something which needs to be done here. A typical German customer who also has solar power panels on their home gets a power bill and a check from the power company each month. Germany, which is the leader in solar power in the world, has the natural solar out put of Montana.
Solar power as well as Wind power is the wave of the future along with other renewable energies. Texas has a chance to be first in the nation or be an importer. Which do you think we should strive for?Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 2 so far )