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2994Re: [hreg] solar fountains and The Dali Lama

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  • Joseph
    Apr 13 10:36 AM
      Hey Kim:

      I just got back from the SEI solar electric class last week in Austin, and
      we talked about the 'practicality' of solar electric applications. I had
      assumed in reading your original post that grid power was too expensive,
      which had led you to consider a solar alternative.

      I think two problems make solar electric seem a bad choice.

      1: You are literally buying all your electricity up front with a solar PV
      panel, which is a hidden cost when you tie into grid power.

      2: The cost of grid power today is about .10/kWh, which is very cheap.

      Also, for your application, if install cost for the grid power is low, and
      the long term life of the project is unknown, then it may indeed be the
      best solution for now. If I had to pay an electrician to bring power to
      my pond, I can easily see that costing in the 200 to 300 dollar range.

      The advantages of solar electric for such an application would include:

      1: If energy rates go up dramatically, it won't matter because the panel
      is already paid for.

      2: If install costs are somewhat higher, needing conduit, tying into a
      circuit panel, etc. The costs could easily exceed a solar panel. The
      same benefit of off-grid water pumping applications.

      3: Safety, 12VDC won't be much of a hazard 5 years down the road if the
      wires fray or short, 120VAC will be dangerous.

      4: Renewable advertising: people seeing a PV powered project are excited
      by the idea, and it helps put the idea of renewable energy in their minds.
      The current high panel costs and low energy rates make solar PV more of
      a niche market strictly from a cost recovery POV, but even so, the fact some
      applications are already cost effective with the most expensive renewable
      technology out there is impressive. Couple that with proven cost effective
      renewable technologies like solar thermal, and maybe you can change a few

      As far as driving the costs down, I'm hoping if more and more people buy
      solar PV for the cost effective applications like DC water pumping,
      off-grid power, and even small fountain applications where install cost
      of grid-power makes the PV install reasonable, then a larger production
      base of PV panels will be established, which ultimately should bring their
      cost down. So we need those rebate programs to keep small installs going
      on all the time, keep the demand for panels high, so industry to make them
      will expand and drive the supply side up.

      I know we all know this, but it's important to realize that unlike some
      other industries, renewables has an enemy. The non-renewable energy suppliers
      want renewables to fail, or they want to control renewables themselves to
      keep the money stream in their favor. But sunshine falls on the greedy and
      the needy alike, and transmission of power works against the large scale
      distributor in this case.

      That's one thing I really like about solar, it favors small local business
      over large regional ones. It brings the business end closer to the community
      and thus inherently more socially responsible for the local community's
      interests, both environmental and economic.

      Well, enough from me for now.

      Good luck with that fountain however you implement it!

      Best wishes - Joseph Davis

      On Wed, 13 Apr 2005, Kim & Garth Travis wrote:

      > Greetings,
      > Ah, finally. Since I can run the grid power for $30 and a standard
      > fountain pump is all of $10, why would anyone pay over $250 to go solar?
      > Could you please send more information on what a bilge pump is and where
      > to find them?
      > I don't beleive that renewables will ever become accepted when they are
      > so outrageously expensive. We need creative thinkers to drive the costs
      > down.
      > Bright Blessings,
      > Kim
      > Richard D. Kelley wrote:
      > > I used a bilge pump last summer (about 15 - $26). It worked fine (10watt panel) about 2 feet lift. I expect the SBT pump is much better.
      > >
      > > I also used these to pump the yard when we had backyard flooding.
      > >
      > > I am not working so I mess around with the very low dollar deal.
      > >
      > >
      > > Just so you know.
      > >
      > > BB
      > >
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