Friday, August 31, 2012

Solar Energy: Doomed Power Source?

I was going to use the header that Stretch used when he sent this story to me ("Ah! Solar energy. Is there anything it can't &(*^-up?"), but decided to change it to something that left a little something to the imagination...

Airport controllers complain of solar panels' glare
MANCHESTER — About 25 percent of a solar-panel array at the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport has been temporarily shut down after air-traffic controllers started complaining about glare, an airport official said.

Officials recently draped tarps over the troublesome panels, which are part of the 2,200-panel solar field installed on top of the airport parking garage this year. It went online early this month.
Seriously? When this system was designed, no one thought to take glare into account? Something as simple as a department store mirror mounted for 24 hours would have averted this issue - they could have massaged the angle of incline so that it didn't bother planes or air traffic controllers. Instead, they were in such a rush to spend "green" dollars that no one thought this through, and now there are solar panels being covered by blue tarps so that the ATCs can, you know, see the damn planes...

It's interesting that they took the word of a consultant that glare wouldn't be an issue. I'm certain that this consultant has an extensive engineering background and the firm has installed dozens if not hundreds of solar arrays near airports, right? You almost wonder if the consultant was making up as they went along... But I'm sure that would never happen - only those evil oil industry blackhearts would mislead people about the side effects of their power source, right?

Maybe it's just coincidence, but it seems like solar energy is the albatross of the green energy movement. Companies that make solar panels fold like a house of cards in a hurricane; solar panels blind air traffic controllers; every project that starts out to use solar energy seems to run into all kinds of snags. And the "efficiency" - when 20% efficiency is deemed "good", well... You think at some point someone would take a step back and think, wow, this just really isn't the best power source for large-scale applications...

Or, it could me that they hire better lobbyists than the oil industry...

That is all.

5 comments:

Dave H said...

20% efficiency means you're only wasting 80% of sunlight instead of 100%. Sunlight is free, so it's still a gain.

Of course, once you factor in the cost of the infrastructre to collect that 20% and amortize it over the useful life, the economic efficieny is dismal. But hey, it was built with a government grant, right? So that part was free too!

notDilbert said...

Plus, sunlight doesn’t happen all the time. After factoring in the weather ( clouds), the latitude and the season , the Boston area effectively only gets an average of 3.5 hours of useable sunlight a day ( depending on the season - 4.27 in July - 2.9 in Jan ). The ONLY reason that solar power is viable is that Mass forces the utilities to ”buy” my Solar generated power for $0.55 KWh and then sell it back to the public at the current rates of around $0.19 KWh.


……and then there is the issue that Solar power is added to the Grid when the sun shines, which typically is NOT when the peak demand happens, as a result, other sources of power need to be backed down to balance the load, making those sources less efficient as well.

Wolfman said...

I really do feel that there is a place for wind, solar, and other 'green' energy sources. The more diffuse, the more efficient the grid. They are not and cannot be primary sources. People have been promised certain things by green energy that cannot be done, so its little wonder we have scant faith in these systems. Along come shortsighted and overhyped miracle projects like this, and it ruins the little faith we DO have.

d said...

A thought occurs:
A 100% efficient solar panel wouldn't be reflective AT ALL, now would it?

Most solar plans are foolish or poorly designed, I think that current implementation is lousy and that the concept needs to return to the research and prototype stage ... but there probably is a way to mooch some cheap power out of sunlight, in more applications.

notDilbert said...

“ ….Cheap power out of sunlight “.

And there is the problem......


A 7 Megawatt system of 22 panels runs about $ 32,000 installed.


At the Boston area latitude that generates about 9,100 kilowatt hours per year with an average 15 Year life for the panels. So here's the simple version of the math … 9,100 *$0.19 / KWh * 15 years = an ROI of never.

only with the SREC's ( forced Govm't subsidy ) ) does it make sense to install