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SPG Solar CEO letter to Bill O'Reilly

2010-01-04 14:40:54.066909+00 by Dan Lyke 9 comments

A few months ago (or longer, when are we gonna do lunch again?) TC and I were talking about the economics of solar panels and I mentioned that I thought energy costs had to go up by roughly a factor of 5 to get widespread residential adoption. I based this on my gut feel that people aren't willing to commit to a decades long payoff schedule when the marketplace is filled with noise about breakthroughs in cheap solar that are just around the corner. As a consumer, why should I commit to $.13/kW/Hr for thirty years when a nickel per is just around the corner?

I realize that, in fact, energy costs aren't going to go down appreciably, but I've been seeing rumblings now that maybe I need to go back and look at what current prices of solar are. I mean, pointing out the idiocies of Fox commentators is shooting fish in a barrel with a hand grenade, but Tom Rooney makes some impressive (if slightly vague) claims in SPG Solar CEO vs Bill O'Reilly on Solar. I wonder how many of those claims would be true without the massive tax incentives?

[ related topics: Politics Consumerism and advertising Economics Photovoltaics ]

comments in descending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2010-01-13 17:50:56.223882+00 by: TC

Lunch sounds great … same rules of basic debauchery consumption alcohol & flesh based protein. I think it’s your turn to pick a place.

Solar PV prices are most likely going to collapse between now and 2013 due flooding of feedstock(mostly from China) but in areas like California the incentives(that are phasing out) offset the current higher cost. Currently the incentives are maintaining the manufactures margins(My friends in Germany REALLY like Arnold Schwarzenegger). You should be able to get a 7 year payback period on your home today and when the prices crash and there is no incentives it will take about 7 years to recapture your investment. If you discount all other factors and just look at flat energy cost for 25 years(manufactures warranty) it seems pretty sound. The accelerated environment testing I’ve seen predicts over 80% of your panels will make it past 40 years (with up to a 23% loss of efficiency)

We like double glaze wood inside/anodized aluminum outside windows. Dane HATES white window frames and I really like the warmth (esthetically given) from wood. Dan as handy as you are with a router table I bet you could run off some bitchin French panels for wood/wood type. Most companies fill the space between the glazings with argon or krypton so perhaps get a cylinder and a horse trough and do your final sealing in a blanket of inert gas??

Fox news on Solar? Gawd…. Where do you start? Nevermind, now that they have Sarah Palin I’m sure they are much more fair and balanced. Has anyone seen the inside of her book? I picture it written in crayola with pretty pictures

#Comment Re: made: 2010-01-05 10:21:52.113321+00 by: DaveP

Vinyl windows don't have to look bad. Even my very stock ones look a lot better when trimmed with 1/4- round curly maple covering up the frame.

#Comment Re: made: 2010-01-04 22:08:39.924799+00 by: meuon

Vinyl windows in our 1980's miami-vice-modern-shack? Aack! - Maybe if they weren't typical sliders.. I've gotta post pics of the new door we just put in. 8' by 8' of glass.

#Comment Re: made: 2010-01-04 20:17:19.027715+00 by: ebradway

I've worked in offices before with the fiberglass/wood combos. They do look a little nicer - but, a meuon states, the windows in my house work very, very well. You don't really think about windows "working" (especially coming from a PC world)... But the vinyl windows do just that. They open and close with ease and when they close, they seal tightly.

Of course, I'm dealing with 1990s suburbia architecture. Vinyl windows fit right in. As they probably would in meuon's house but not so well in 10 Mission Drive. But Dan has considerably fewer windows than either meuon or I...

#Comment Re: made: 2010-01-04 18:28:30.08493+00 by: Dan Lyke

Yeah, that's a sticking point with Charlene: Love the (lack of) maintenance and insulation of the vinyl double-pane, she's not so keen on the appearance. We'll probably end up with a fiberglass/wood hybrid system using prefab IGUs.

#Comment Re: made: 2010-01-04 17:42:49.473697+00 by: meuon

"vinyl double-pane windows" - for as tacky as they sound, they do work very very well, and you don't have to paint them.

#Comment Re: made: 2010-01-04 17:14:31.593703+00 by: ebradway

I've been pleasantly surprised by our utility bills in the new house (new to us, built in 1998). Last month's natural gas bill (heat, hot water, stove, fireplace) was $92 with an average temperature of 32 degrees F and the electric was about $45. The last time I paid a gas bill for winter heat was in Chattanooga in that monstrous turn-of-the-prior-century house. It was over $300 and I kept the heat at 60 degrees most of the time - and that was with a brand new top-of-the-line gas furnace. Our bills in the Summer were around the same for electric and about $10 for gas. Spring and Fall are even lower.

I do need to look closely at my rates and it would be interesting to compare them to 'Nooga's rates about 9 years ago. Overall, I'm not sure that solar would pay off quickly enough - even for hot water. The house is insulated well enough that it's just hard to find the savings.

BTW, this is the first house I've lived in with vinyl double-pane windows. They are astoundingly nice.

#Comment Re: made: 2010-01-04 16:59:17.514707+00 by: Dan Lyke

That's the other part of my particular equation: At less than a hundred bucks a month all months, some months less than $50, our energy savings are better put to other projects.

#Comment Re: made: 2010-01-04 16:20:34.217734+00 by: meuon

Nancy and I visited a couple over the weekend in Atlanta in a very nice McMansion(tm), and my thought was: What's the utility bill on this place?

It's a two factor equation, we need more efficient cars and homes that require less power, as well as more effective Solar and such. But at around 20 degrees over the last few days, I ran propane for heat.. Brrr..

This summer, I need to put a new roof on, and putting up some solar panels is part of the equation, in fact, some solar hot water pre-heat and on-demand heated water is probably the best ROI possible for me, replacing an ancient gas hot water heater.