Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Solar Versus Wind: Solar Is Sexier

A recent poll taken inside my own head shows that sex sells; so guess what, baby? Solar is sexy.

A Google Image Search for "Sexy Solar" turned up some weird stuff.  Rawr.
Yes, the cost of wind energy is more competitive with energy produced from incinerating coal (if you like to ignore the social and environmental externalities that aren't taken into consideration), but solar is so much cooler.

This is because solar can be implemented on a more personal level.  They can be installed on a smaller scale allowing users to avoid many of the the NIMBY issues that plague neighborhoods debating whether they should invest in a wind turbine or not.  Homeowners can install solar panels on their roof to generate their own electricity and heat their water, and now drivers have been able to have a solar panel on the roof of their car to power their airconditioning (as seen in the 2010 Toyota Prius).

My rendition of the 2013 Toyota Prius - Wind Edition... Consumers will hate it.
These are things that people haven't been able to do on a small scale with wind turbines and solar keeps advancing on enjoying more applications.  One example of these advancements can be seen with Konarka, a company pursuing "solar plastic" as Grist reports:
Konarka of Lowell, Mass., says its "Power Plastic" has set a new record, achieving a 8.3 percent efficiency rate in converting sunlight into electricity. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory certified the efficiency rating....
...Now, 8.3 percent is less than half the efficiency of a conventional crystalline silicon photovoltaic panel like those found on residential rooftops. But it's a notable achievement for a solar cell that uses organic molecules to generate electricity. The great promise of organic molecules is that they can be produced at far less cost than standard silicon solar panels, but the low efficiency of organic photovoltaics has limited their use.
This is exciting because as solar panels become lighter and more customizable, they can be placed in even more places.  One example that Grist gives is that these plastic panels can be used as roofs for bus stop waiting stations to power lights and wireless routers.

I think this is great because as I mentioned yesterday, the faster that cities start placing more of their infrastructure "off-the-grid" with alternative energy sources, the more money tax payers will save.

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