Solar Energy Is Affordable but We’ll Never See It

With solar companies like Solyndra going bankrupt, some analysts are saying that the environmentally friendly ways of producing electricity are too costly.  They claim that to mass produce electricity via solar panels takes far too much land and therefore is not really feasible.

But there is an alternative that’s been hidden from the public for over 30 years.

In the 1970s and 80s, there was a guy in our church that worked for a major technology company.  He had a PhD in physics and worked on solar energy.  He not only told me that the technology to supply affordable solar energy to every home is possible, he showed me.

Richard invited my wife and I over for dinner once and to show me his house.  He had a very nice three level home with lots of windows.  The very center of house was open from the ground floor up so that people could see and converse from the first, second and third floors. The livable square footage in his house was almost three times what my house was.

It was not uncommon for my summer electric bills to run around $350 per month trying to keep the house comfortable in the Arizona sun.  Other homes the size of Richard’s had summer electric bills easily exceeding $1000 per month.  Richard told me that his summer electric bills ranged from -$150 to -$400 per month.

His small solar panel system was so efficient that about 9-10 months a year, it produced more than his household (wife and three daughters) could use.  The excess power was run through a meter and sold back to the utility company.

He then took me to his back yard to show me the solar panel array that he built.  It wasn’t nearly as large as I expected.  As Richard proudly showed me the solar unit, he explained that one thing that made it more efficient than most is that he had a solar light detector that helped keep the panels lined up with the sun’s rays to keep them running at peak capacity.  As sun moved across the sky, the panels also changed angle to follow it.

I asked him how much it cost to build and install his solar panel system and he told me that for a house like his, it would pay for itself in less than a year.  For smaller homes he estimated it would take about 2 years to pay for itself.  His solar units were unlike any that I’ve seen on homes then or since.  The home solar units in use today still do not use the same high efficiency levels as the one He built.

However, he told me that the technology he used would probably never see public or commercial use because it would cost the power companies millions of dollars in lost revenue.  It was just like the carburetor my neighbor built for the Chevy Vega years ago.  He worked at the GM proving grounds east of town and he developed a fuel efficient carburetor that in town got 100 miles per gallon of fuel.  He told me it would never see the light of day and that it would sit on the GM shelves with all of the other energy saving devices they created because the auto industry was married to the oil industry.

My friend Richard told me that the energy companies work very closely with all major technology companies to ensure that they both continue to make money.  Then Richard told me that if a company mass produced solar units like, that it would bring the cost way down from what he spent out of pocket.  Mass production would make the solar units much more economically feasible for many homeowners, but the utilities won’t allow it to happen.

If that was the technology that existed over 30 years ago, then who’s to say that it hasn’t been improved, refined and made much more affordable today.  Can you imagine selling electricity back to the power company most of the year?  The technology is out there, but I doubt if we’ll ever see it in our lifetime because of the utility companies.