Wednesday, June 29, 2011

What price Alternate Energy?

Harbor Freight, a low end retailer of low end tools and hardware, is offering a 45 Watt solar panel for $169.99, or $3.77 per watt. Same catalog offers a 800 watt gasoline generator for $99.99, or $0.12 per watt. Or, a utility can buy a 1 Gigawatt nuclear plant for $6 billion, or $0.006 per watt.
Solar cells are not going anywhere because they cost way too much. And they don't give any electricity after the sun goes down, which is when I really want my electric lights to work.


Evan said...

Yeah, unfortunately unless the price to manufacture solar panels go down it isn't going to kick-start a revolution.

That and if you want a complete solar solution to power your house you will need several deep cycle batteries which I'm going to guess producing will offset environmental benefits that one might get from solar.

We see some in Massachusetts because you get tax breaks at the federal and state level for installing them to defray the cost.

Honestly I think all that money should go to rebuilding a new nuclear power plant and closing down the ancient pilgrim plant on the cape.

Dstarr said...

In fact the Harbor Freight flyer specifically said that battery and inverter must be purchased separately. If you throw in a car battery ($50) and a 100 watt inverter ($35?) that gets you up to $5.65 a watt.
An ordinary car battery is rated at 80 ampere hours. Multiply that by 12 volts and you get 960 watt hours. That might keep the laptop and the broadband modem running for 5-6 hours, but it ain't gonna run the refrigerator to keep your beer cold.
Other problem, a 45 watt solar array will take 21.3 hours to charge a 960 watt hour battery. Run the battery down at night, and it take two days to recharge. Maybe we need another solar array?
This could get expensive.