I think everyone understands that the world’s economies are struggling more than they have since the 1930’s and The Great Depression. To try and stave off economic collapse, many countries have implemented aggressive spending programs to try and pump some life into their economies.
The options on what they could spend it on are endless and many industries are quick to extend their hands looking for help. Few options offer more long term solutions to so many problems as those that come with supporting aggressive solar industry expansion. Of course you might expect that statement coming from someone in the industry; so, before we get too far into solutions – let’s look at the problems that are forcing countries around the globe, including here in the US, to move quickly to implement solutions…
Brown – Outs: Many areas in the United States have been suffering from what they call rolling brown outs for years and experts agree that this will only get worse. From a real elementary level, they are caused by sub standard infrastructure. The “systems” used to deliver power to these heavily populated areas cannot support the demand. In addition, at the same time, the entire system is getting old and in constant need of repair. However, no amount of “repair” will fix the problem…it needs to be re-built.
Environmental Concerns: This is not a post on global warming. I don’t care if you believe it is a concern or not. Just travel to the most populated places in the world…China and India for example. I have been there, high end air conditioned hotels cannot protect clothes in suitcases from the heavy petroleum smell which is everywhere. Every day is a foggy day and people with breathing conditions have to wear masks to just go get the mail. Burning fossil fuels needs to be exchanged for clean energy production solutions – end of story. There is no sensible argument to suggest anything different. Need more? 2010+ Gulf of Mexico. Clean nuclear – Japan?
The First Answer? WIND POWER
As of a few years ago, the first solution that federal and local governments supported were wind farms. Special tax breaks and subsidized funding programs helped position wind as a potential solution. Investment picked up and large wind farms started popping up around the US in areas where open ground was available in known windy territory. It is a great solution, but now that the efforts have had a couple of years to look back on, Wind has it’s own set of challenges that are proving that Wind alone will not be near enough. Again, infrastructure is the problem. You see, no-one wants a bunch of these gigantic wind towers in their back yard…they are noisy and the fall out of materials and animals make putting them close to heavily populated areas unpopular. So if erecting them in the middle of where the need is, i.e. cities, is unliley, we are back to the same problem. How will we deliver the power from these outstate wind farms to the cities? The same power lines and stations that are already stressed are the only existing options to get the power from these wind farms out in the country into the cities. And Large Wind systems carry substantial maintenance costs…they are a huge bundle of heavy constantly moving parts. You don’t need to be an engineer to know how that story ends. Again, they are a great solution but not THE solution. There is no THE solution. Today we depend on a “blend” of energy production…oil, gas, coal, nuclear…some renewables. Our future will also depend on a blend, just one made up with far more renewable energy based on best fit…
So what is the lesson so far? Generate the power where it is used!
Geothermal? Yes. Geothermal is a great solution for heating and cooling…but it is quite expensive and we are talking about generating power. Power for all uses by generating electricity and geothermal has yet to provide scale-able energy production.
Small Wind? Yes for small production. The technology just doesn’t produce enough power for the amount of space these machines need to occupy in a populated area. There will likely be a day when these power plants will become a more broad based acceptable component…a piece of the puzzle. No-one I know complains at the sight of the windmills that pumped water for years on farms across America.
Solar Power? Absolutely. No noise. Systems last for 25 – 40 years. Virtually no maintenance. Non obtrusive…today’s products can be installed in an integrated way. Dragonfly Solar designs commercial solutions to integrate solar into the function and design of the environment. Solar car ports, park band- shells, bus stops, picnic areas, commercial awnings, and branded roof top implementations. We design, build and install leading edge solutions for leading edge companies.
Before the end of this decade, the US needs to embrace and implement an aggressive program not unlike what the country did in the 1930’s – building infrastructure that supported the growth that came years after.
A right answer? SOLAR POWER!
Not THE answer...remember there is no THE answer. But it is as close to THE answer as we can get for certain applications – especially where the need is – in the cities across America.
Current global energy environment derives prices and policies from who the US be-friend’s and defends. We have to become energy independent. More than ever before in our history the US needs to become free to make political decisions free of energy dependency. This is possible and it needs to be one of our countries highest priorities.
Final obstacle Financing? Any real solution needs to be a solution that can be integrated into the business fabric of this country. The economics need to be where it makes good financial sense to attract capital. This has required incentives and these incentives have continued to greatly accelerate lower costs in solar and is approaching quickly a time where it will take off on it’s own.
What we cannot do, which we often do, is commit to the right thing until the next election. We cannot start – stop, start – stop, start – stop. The rest of the world is not. We need to deepen our nations commitment to these investments to continue and broaden investor interest to finance systems for those who do not have the capital but have the room, and for those who make no profits…schools, churches, government buildings, etc…
Great News – we are there! If you have not looked into the financial aspect of these solutions for some time, you need to have a professional help you understand the elements in play today. It is truly inconsistent..in our home state, a site across the street from another can have dramatically different pro formas. However, in some of these areas the opportunity is astounding. Many will look back in a few years and realize they missed an incredible opportunity I promise.
Dragonfly Solar brings decades of professional business financial analysis to the commercial solar space. We have developed detailed pro forma data to cover every area of the financial decisioning process for our clients across the United States. We are serious business people with global implementation experience.
To see more about this from a “community of the future” that Dragonfly Solar designed and built at Eco Experience 2010 in Minneapolis, St. Paul click here: