Monday, September 21, 2009

Solar madness

I have complained before about the foolishness of encouraging residential photovoltaic installations. Recent posts by Yglesias and Drum about feed-in tariffs which obligate utilities to buy (at exorbitant rates) power produced by small scale photovoltaic generation have provoked me into revisiting the subject. According to Drum:

... And yes, it's a very good idea that makes small-scale solar installations economically worthwhile.

Actually it's a very bad idea as the highly subsidized small scale photovoltaic installations are only economically worthwhile for the owners. They are economically wasteful for society as a whole because they are highly uncompetitive in cost with other means of generating electricity.

It is ironic that Yglesias and Drum who once claimed to be members of the reality based community (in contrast to the delusional Bush administration) now give uncritical backing to liberal programs that are equally detached from reality. It appears Republicans and Democrats just live in different fantasy worlds.


  1. In Colorado Xcel Energy recently instituted a monthly fee for homes equipped with solar energy systems to connect to Excel's lines. There was an uproar over this fee, as Colorado is a green state that loves its renewable energy options. This politically incorrect gaff was quickly removed. Solar energy is more expensive, true. However some day we will need other forms of energy to function and we need to think right now about how to solve this problem.

  2. It is true that we will eventually need to find a replacement for fossil fuels. However rooftop photovoltaic installations are just a distraction from solutions that might make sense.

  3. Try to think of something that would solve this problem. I used to buy beautiful quilts and embroideries for next to nothing at estate sales. When you consider that these items took hundreded of hours to make, it was amazing how little they cost....of course they were cheap. The person that made them was dead. Who pays a dead person? Fossil fuels are the same way. Nobody pays the dinosaur or tree fern for the use of his body parts (converted inot coal or gas) so you can drive from Croton to Peekskill.