Sunday, August 30, 2015
Growth in alternative energy
Driving home late at night there's a section of road on the hill where I can see a good ways to the north. At that time of night it looks like a formation of UFOs. The blinking lights are actually on the towers of huge windmills. All the lights on them blink in unison so it's a weird effect.
Over 20 years ago I put in my own solar electric panels. It was pretty darn expensive, but since our grid power was sketchy back then it was worth it. A generator could have done the job, but I've some experience with small generators. They need regular maitences and testing if they are going to work when you need them. I'm too lazy for that. Solar electric panels just work.
My installation was home brewed hippy tech, but it's stood the test of time. The original panels are still putting out a steady stream of electrons long after the panels have paid for themselves.
These days it's a lot easier and cheaper to go solar. There are companies will foot the cost and do the installation for a reasonable monthly fee. It's easier to tie into the grid these days too. My system does not backfeed into the grid because back then the numbers just didn't work. Things have changed. There are small solar panel installations scattered all over the North Country.
If solar electric can work in northern New Hampshire, it can work in most places. The problems are not technological but political. Florida should be carpeted with solar electric panels but the politicians are in the pocket of people who don't want that. People have been fined for going off-grid.
My area has always had water power. In the old days water wheels powered sawmills. Later turbines were installed to generate electricity. There are two power plants in the area that generate power from low value waste wood -biomass plants. More big wind turbines are going up.
These alternative energy systems to have an impact on the land, but it's pretty minimal. The newer windmills are more bird friendly and have a small footprint, but the impact is not zero. However, it beats the heck out of burning coal or fracking for oil and gas.
There are costs to living in a technological society. I feel if you don't want to see solar panels or wind towers feel free to freeze in the dark. What really annoys me is those places that want to use power yet want it to be generated far far away. That's one of the reasons I oppose a proposed high power line that's supposed to transmit hydro power electricity from Quebec to Connecticut. We'd get the unsightly towers and they'd get the power. As far as I'm concerned if they want to use power they should put up with its generation. Too often the downsides of energy generation is transferred to the poor areas while the rich pretend electricity comes from a plug in their wall.