Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A comment on solar prices for Nick and the meaning of life and everything else

"Briefly, solar will fall in price much more quickly than that estimation, . . ." - Nick

Nick, PV prices most certainly are not dropping. According to Solarbuzz, "the PV industry has been in a period of steady retail pricing." In fact, Solarbuzz reports a price increase for uninstalled solar modules, In June 2004 retail solar modules sold for $4.32 per watt. This month retail PV modules sell in the United States for $4.81 per watt. I have no doubt that installation costs have risen since June 2004. Solar buzz quotes the price of industrial PV electrical generation to have had an averaged cost of 21.50 cents per KWh. in July 2000, the price in February 2007 was 21.32 cents per KWh.

The following note is most illuminating:
"The Index is based upon a climate with 5.5 hours of sunshine average over the year. This is typical of locations like US Sunbelt States, much of Latin America, most of Africa, the Middle East, India and Australia. Mediterranean Countries, followed by Japan and then Northern Europe have progressively lower average hours. Saharan and southern Africa, and the areas centered on Saudi Arabia, central Australia, Peru and Bolivia are higher."

Solar thermal prices have recently taken a turn for the worse. Between 1997 and 2003 price of ST collectors slowly drifted down from $3.60 per square foot to $3.40. There was a significant price fall in 2004 to $2.40 per square foot, but in 2005 the price kicked back up, and in 2006 the price sky rocked to nearly $6.00 per square foot. Meanwhile the cost of materials need to build PV and ST installations has gone through dramatic inflation. The solar industry has not announced any dramatic efficiency increase in their use of labor to build solar installations, thus labor costs cannot be assumed to be falling. Nor can the long term cost of capitol be assumed to be lower than it is now. Thus none of the economic fundamentals suggest a dramatic drop in the price of ST power. The same factors effecting installation costs for ST also effect installation costs for PV. Thus the contention that solar prices can reasonably expected to fall conflicts with significantly evidence supporting the contrary.

Afterword:  "There really is a convergence of issues, peak everything." - davebygolly

Hardly peak everything. Certainly not peak uranium, not peak thorium, not peak iron, or aluminum. Not peak silicon. Not peak many other minerals, Not peak energy generation. Not peak population or food production. Peak bullshit? Ya!

Years ago, I explored a catalogue of Master's theses titles in the University of Tennessee at Knoxville Library.  One title struck me as apt, because it summarized the catalogue as a whole. The title was, "The Precipitation of Solid Particles in a Tank of Liquid Manure."  The current energy discussion certainly approaches being a tank of liquid manure.    I say this because the discussion is largely free of relevant facts, that would make the issues clear.   Although the Greens are far from being the only offenders, they are most assuredly offenders of the first order.  Greens tend to live in a largely fact free world, in which if real facts don't fit, lies can always be made up.  Green ideology is post-modern in that it has no regard for truth.    The greens live in a counter-reality which is constructed by constant and willful recourse to counter-knowledge which is derived from counter-truths.  Information that fails to fit the green world view is disallowed as fact.  Thus the Green world view is in fact a world of illusion, protected my rationalizations from confrontation with hard realities.   The sole constituant of the green world is manure.

In considering the green method of constructing their counter world, the words of Walter Brueggemann are a propos:  "In fact they articulate, as artist must, against the data at hand.  They refuse to curb their imagination, buoyantly moving in their imaginative anticipation beyond the data of their circumstance.  And so, taken in large, these materials are to be understood as acts of unrestrained grief, as a counter-act of defiant hope, which refuses to give in to circumstance."  

" . . . this material is an enterprise of counter-reality.   It refuses given imperial realities, and summons its hearers to an alternative reality." 

In the case of the Green world view, the alternative reality of the Greens conflicts not only with the facts of history,  but also with the evidence brought by careful attention to the details of preferred data, as well as the identification of trends brought by careful analysis.  The Green world is the world of an eschatology, quasi-religious cult.  Greens believe themselves living in the last days of an old moral order, and that they are seeking the advent of an era of universal peace and happiness.  They take refuge from their present unhappiness by propounding doctrines that lodge the causes of their unhappiness not in themselves, or their own situation, but in an world order which they view as profoundly corrupt.  In this regard their attitude is Gnostic, and their hopes are eschatological. Green's see the source of their unhappiness to be not in their person, or in their personal situation, but the material basis of society  In doing so Greens evade responsibility for solving their personal problems. In doing so the greens have substituted the recitation of bumper sticker slogans for serious thinking, that could lead them to the discovery of the mysteries that lie beyond science.

Can we build a real and viable world on counter-factual dreams that buoyantly move in imaginative anticipation beyond the data of our circumstance? The answer is no, and attempts to do so will inevitably end in disaster. At the head of my blog, I quote a Eugene Wigner, a wise man who I once had the honor of meeting. "The full meaning of life, the collective meaning of all human desires, is fundamentally a mystery beyond our grasp. As a young man, I chafed at this state of affairs. But by now I have made peace with it. I even feel a certain honor to be associated with such a mystery."

To see the meaning a life as a mystery, but to not seek the answer to the mystery in things that are not really there, that is the true meaning of science. Richard Feynman noted, "Our imagination is stretched to the utmost, not, as in fiction, to imagine things which are not really there, but just to comprehend those things which are there." Those who articulate against the data at hand can never comprehend the things that are there, or truly confront the mysteries that lie at the heart of the matter.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your characterization of "the greens" is spot on. The fact that the human brain can think in this way is a problem. We can see other examples all over the world where people let ideology suppress evidence: the gambling industry, chiropractors, religious fanatics, political vanguards, and the truly insane. IMHO this talent for self delusion used to provide tremendous survival value when the ability to rally quickly was needed to protect the clan. We now live in gigantic, electronic cities. Circumstances have changed. Evolution will fix our brains and minds accordingly, but not without some pain during the transition period. I guess while we are waiting for this progress we are just going to have to keep shouting that evidence based thinking works best.


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