Jul 13

Solar panel manufacturer SolarWorld has cleverly turned Sarah Palin’s famous “Drill, baby, drill!” on it’s head with a “Shine, baby, shine” campaign to sell the company’s solar panels, and has hired actor Larry Hagman (formerly oil tycoon JR Ewing on TV’s Dallas many years ago).

The Oregonian reports:

Actor Larry Hagman was all about petroleum when he played oil magnate J.R. Ewing in television’s longrunning “Dallas” series.

These days, he’s pitching solar energy with a new slogan — “Shine, baby, shine,” — soon to air on a television near you.

Hagman is the face of a new ad campaign for SolarWorld, the German company making solar cells in Hillsboro. He admits the slogan is a jab at Sarah Palin‘s “Drill, baby, drill,” refrain during the 2008 presidential campaign.

So, while SolarWorld has hire Hagman to promote the (pardon the pun) sunny phrase “Shine, baby, shine”, Hagman has a private (again, pardon the pun) darker message to accompany the clever cuteness of his company’s new slogan that is more like “Scare, baby, scare”:

“‘Shine, baby, shine’ is an inexhaustible source of energy,” said Hagman, who plans to address the Intersolar trade show today in San Francisco. “When affordable oil gives out, we’re in real trouble — I mean the collapse of civilization, within 15 to 20 years.”

Pathetic.  These people just cannot resist the urge to resort to alarmism to achieve their profits and political power.

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Aug 25

From The Wall Street Journal:

It is is nauseating, not instructive, to celebrate the wealthy individuals who can afford to take advantage of subsidies provided by the rest of us, to build exceedingly expensive “high-efficiency” homes (“The Homely Costs of Energy Conservation,” Currents, Aug. 7).

Energy-saving multipane windows, insulation and appliances have been available for decades but are beyond most people’s means. Meanwhile, solar panels don’t grow on trees; plus, they are very inefficient and their production requires large amounts of energy.

If the wealthy and green-conscious really want to improve efficiency, they would be smarter to promote nuclear power instead. This form of energy inexpensively generates power for domestic and industrial demand, a fundamental component of all manufacturing and of our ability to compete in the global marketplace.

Only nuclear power has the potential to make battery-powered cars practical and at least somewhat “clean.”

Kent Brady

Woodland Park, Colo.

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May 15

The story as reported on by The Detroit News is that a much anticipated city-owned new solar home in Troy, Michigan remains closed due to water damage to the floors from a mechanical problem. It doesn’t seem to occur to anyone that the real story here is that a solar home costs $1,125 per square foot!

Via Drudge:

solar

Troy — It was supposed to be a shining example of the green movement — a completely independent solar-powered house with no gas or electrical hookups.

Seven months ago, officials gathered for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the $900,000 house owned by the city of Troy that was to be used as an educational tool and meeting spot.

But it never opened to the public. And it remains closed.

Frozen pipes during the winter caused $16,000 in damage to floors, and city officials aren’t sure when the house at the Troy Community Center will open.

“It’s not safe right now, and there’s no estimated opening time because it depends on when we can get funding,” said Carol Anderson, director of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department.

Lawrence Technological University, with help from DTE, mostly paid for the building. Its students built the 800-square-foot home, which was supposed to be livable year-round, free from the grid and churn out enough solar power to support a home-based business and electric vehicle.

So, if the students built the house, I’m left to assume that the house would have cost even more than $900,000 to build if they’d actually paid a general contractor to do the labor.

Meantime, you can buy a similar size non-solar home in the same area, Troy, Michigan, for about 1/10 of the cost of the solar home.

Of course there are energy saving factors to consider when looking at the higher cost of the solar home versus the non-solar homes that cost only $100,000.  If you owned the solar house, and you saved $100 per month on electricity bills, it would only take you 666 years for the solar house to make up the difference!

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Jan 08

Solar-cell maker (an Intel spin-off) halts construction plans for new plant

By Editor Gov. Kulongoski, solar power Comments Off on Solar-cell maker (an Intel spin-off) halts construction plans for new plant

An exerpt from The Oregonian:

SpectraWatt Inc., an Intel spinoff that planned to make solar cells in Hillsboro, may leave Oregon because it can’t find financing to build a plant.

Andrew Wilson, SpectraWatt’s chief executive, confirmed Wednesday that the company had suspended construction plans and was searching inside and outside the state for an existing building to retrofit for less money.


The development surprised Gov. Ted Kulongoski’s aides and state economic development officials, who had been negotiating tax breaks for the plant. “Have them call us,” said Jillian Schoene, a spokeswoman for Kulongoski, who is trying to attract more renewable-energy manufacturers to the state.

The setback could spell broader trouble for the governor’s green initiative. Or it could merely reveal one solar startup with unproven technology encountering obstacles and playing off Oregon against, say, New York.

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Sep 03

The solar manufacturing industry has been riding a wave of massive expansion due to government subsidies that exist now, but also because the solar manufacturers are betting that the subsidies will either continue and/or be expanded massively in the future to help us attain “energy independence”.

There’s one small problem though. Richard Read, The Oregonian’s two-time Pulitzer Prize winning writer points out that there is an impending bursting bubble in the solar panel manufacturing industry due to a 30% US federal tax credit that expires at the end of this year. Foreign governments also have expiring tax credits that exacerbate the inconvenient truth of solar panel manufactures – that their product cannot compete at all on a level playing field.

Read reports:

Oregon, which weathered the tech boom and bust, may be headed for bubble trouble in solar manufacturing even as the industry takes hold here.



Experts predict a worldwide glut of solar panels and a short-term shakeout of the U.S. sun-power industry that could slow investment in factories of the type state officials are scrambling to attract.

Some solar companies are laying off workers as U.S. and foreign government incentives approach expiration, and as manufacturers in China and elsewhere rush to meet rising demand.

Edwin Koot, a respected solar analyst in the Netherlands, recently issued a report predicting a global surplus of the panels, or modules, that convert sunshine into electricity.

“The industry simply is growing too fast compared to the demand side,” says Koot (pronounced “coat”), founder and chief executive of SolarPlaza, a Rotterdam consultancy. “There are too many companies on the market.”



The Oregonian’s Read notes another problem facing solar energy that may be even more difficult to overcome:

…manufacturers apparently are flocking to the ascendant technology faster than consumers.

According to Read, others are singing the same tune. Solar consultant Glenn Harris, a former president of solar manufacturer PV Powered says:

…the U.S. solar market “will just stop dead” once the federal tax credit expires. Commercial installations will tank, says Harris, chief executive of the SunCentric Inc. consultancy, and some factory investments will be canceled or postponed.



“If it does not get renewed, the U.S. market will shrivel up,” says Christopher Dymond, Oregon Energy Department solar manager.




Read also says that Gregg Patterson, chief executive of solar manufacturer PV Powered “who hosted presidential candidate Barack Obama at PV’s plant last May, expects either a Republican or Democratic administration to renew and enhance solar incentives. But he laments the intervening uncertainty.”



So Patterson expects either future administration to renew and enhance the federal subsidies that prop up an industry that cannot exist without it? Praying for it is more likely.

We keep hearing about solar energy as if it’s a new emerging technology. The truth of the matter is that solar has been around since about the 1970’s (or earlier) and the hardware needed to generate solar-powered electricity still doesn’t pencil out anymore today than it did thirty or more years ago. Here in Oregon, solar panels are still rare, and the folks that do have them mostly use them to warm up their swimming pools in the summertime as they don’t provide enough juice to power the rest of the household.

Gore Lied believes that the governments should stop throwing our money at a non-competitive industry. Let the solar companies sink or swim. You can remove the subsidies, but you cannot remove the profit motive, and that is all the incentive this industry should need to get serious about advancing the technology that will help it compete with fossil fuels, nuclear and hydro-power.

Read the entire Oregonian article here.

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