Sunday, April 24, 2011

Business As Usual

A local manufacturer of solar hot air heating panels has received millions of dollars in federal money to put these panels on low income homes. They received a 2.2 million dollar federal grant. Earlier this year, the same company received a 300 thousand dollar federal grant to build a manufacturing facility.

It is the installing of this fluff that I find a waste.

This is the editorial comment I sent to the newspaper:

To Tell the Truth

The 600 megawatts of annual energy from the RREAL solar “furnaces” does not subtract the necessary fossil fuels, heavy equipment and toxic chemicals to extract the minerals (coal, copper, aluminum, etc), process, transport, manufacture parts, transport, assemble, transport, install and run the necessary blower. So this is a misleading number. To see pictures of some of the equipment necessary -

To give the numbers in megawatts seem to imply electricity is made. It is heat only. And this number is a computer estimate; it may be more or it may be less. Figured in gallons of propane – it is 80 per year; in fuel oil, 60 per year. Money payback? A decade? To payback the energy expend to make them – a decade? Wise use of resources?

These devices with their heavy use of fossil fuels, materials are not green nor clean. There are massive machines that gouge the earth for these materials. With fossil fuels becoming more and more precious both geologically and politically, these devices are not sustainable. And because they cannot reproduce themselves without fossil fuels, they are not renewable.

These devices work only part of the year, during the winter. These devices work only part of part of the year - no sun at night or cloudy days, no heat. No electricity because of storms, no heat.

I am not being mean spirited about the poor. These homes have been upgraded with insulation as well as windows and doors where needed by the federal weatherization project. I ran the first weatherization program in Minnesota back in the mid 1970s. A program I still support.

Our state and federal budget are hemorrhaging, yet we are funding millions for these impractical, feel good devices instead of infrastructure like roads, sewage, bridges, water systems.

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