There is a huge increase in the number of electricity-generating solar panel installations over the last few years. They are everywhere – on house roofs, on business roofs, in utility arrays, and most interestingly on public property, purchased by municipal, state and federal governments for power installations, often very small ones with a solar panel only a few feet on a side producing very little power.
We know that the government is just blatantly subsidizing the solar industry with billions of dollars. Because solar power is vastly more expensive than other forms of electricity. That is why every installation needs to be directly subsidized by the taxpayer, and why the purchase of solar panels by governments and utilities is one way to subsidize an industry that cannot compete in the marketplace.
Meanwhile the taxpayers hardly notice it or are not aware of it because it still is a relatively small budget item for many cities. But cumulatively it is the only thing keeping the solar industry in business.
One of the new ideas in cities is something called the Big Belly Solar Compactor, a solar-powered trash receptacle for street corners. If you go to the Big Belly site, they explain that when the garbage is compacted regularly it requires fewer pickups, and less landfill space, and so saves the cities money in collection and disposal costs.
So we have a situation where people on the political left who invest in and make solar products of every type now are offering us a way to save money on government services. They have all these calculations on the Big Belly site about all the money that cities can save and are saving.
Yet when was the last time you heard anyone on the political left telling us any way at all to save money on government services?
Answer: Never. Street-corner trash pickup is just a tiny, tiny, tiny fraction of municipal service costs. And while we conservatives offer hundreds of ways to save money throughout those governments by privatizing services and rooting our corruption, fraud, featherbedding and labor-union malfeasance, liberals do everything in their power to thwart us.
They are relentless in finding ways to increase our taxes and to employ more and more bureaucrats at higher and higher costs. Unless they have a way to profiteer on saving small amounts of money, like on a dumb idea like a solar trash compactor.
Big Belly ultimately will not save any money at all; ultimately it will waste money. To put it in perspective, consider the Solar Ballast Train which is a string of railroad cars that carries ballast, or rock chips, that is dropped onto the railroad roadbed to build up the roadbed as train crawls along.
Except this Ballast Train is different. It has a solar panel mounted on each car. The idea behind the Ballast Train is that solar energy in the form of electricity collects on each panel during sunny weather, is stored in a battery and then that electricity is used to open the gates at the bottom of each car when the rock needs to be emptied onto the roadbed. Railroads historically have used hand cranks to open the gates.
The Eastern freight railroad CSX introduced its Solar Ballast Train in 2007 and it was a sight to see, very sharp-looking. Only problem is that by 2009, many of the solar panels were broken or dirty, and obviously would not be working. Because after a couple of years out in the weather, and moving at high speeds on unprotected trains, there has been chipping and breakage, and the panels have become darkened by a constant barrage of dust, dirt and a steady stream of black diesel smoke from the locomotives, all of which builds up to negate the panels’ efficiency.
But to sell the idea, solar activists told freight railroad CSX about the wonderful panels and CSX saw that the panels would not cost anything since they could take a tax break.
Thus the solar panels are a big and unnecessary cost, and another example of solar energy INefficiency and government waste, just like the makers of the Big Belly Solar Compactor tell us how (allegedly) to save a few hundred thousand dollars on street-corner trash pickup while governments waste billions in fraud, abuse and union featherbedding.
What if the train needs to unload ballast more than once in a day. Is there enough energy stored? After all, you can only store a certain amount of energy in a battery in the first place. What if the weather is rainy during track construction? Where will the power come from to open the gates repeatedly? Better keep the ol’ hand cranks around.
At another solar installation in Lancaster, California, 24,000 separate mirrors track the sun carefully by computer and bounce the sunlight in a focused beam up to a tower where the heat is used to boil water and make steam in a pressure generator to make a small amount of electricity.
Only problem is that Lancaster is notoriously breezy and even windy. And the bigger problem is that Lancaster is in the dry desert where minute amounts of dust are kicked up by the breezes. And so those mirrors are going to get dirty and lose their efficiency as the dust and dirt from the desert builds up and even dulls the mirrors.
And to clean those 24,000 mirrors requires an army of workers or machines working steadily, a huge labor-intensive expense that is going to make the Lancaster installation even more energy INefficient than it already is. Never mind that any minute failure in the precise computer-controlled movement of the mirrors – not necessarily in the computer but in the 24,000 mechanical linkages – is going to wipe out the system’s efficiency.
Then think about the Big Belly Solar Compactor. In cities, the solar panel on top of the Big Belly is going to get dirty, scratched and broken. After all, just think about how other public items like pay phones today get destroyed in many parts of many cities and you understand that Big Belly works in theory, but not in practice. And what about snow and ice? They will build up too. And what happens if the Big Belly electrical system or computer system stops working? There’s a big repair expense.
And lo and behold, nowhere on the Big Belly site does it tell you how much the thing costs, although one was being sold used on the web for $4,000. No, sireee, the only thing on the Big Belly site is a calculator in which you punch in how many collection sites your city has, how many times the garbage is picked up etc. And you submit your figures and Big Belly sends you an estimate of how much you can “save”.
Perhaps ExxonMobil could just tell you after you fill up how much the bill is without telling you how many gallons you took or how much each gallon cost.
But the “savings” for Big Belly are fake because ultimately Big Belly is subsidized through direct tax funding from the federal government to the company that manufactures Big Belly. So there is no savings at all. It is all a shell game to funnel cash to the lefties who run the solar industry.
The solar industry is selling itself as a savior. It is not. Solar energy does not work. We should be building nuclear power plants for our electricity needs. In the long run, nuclear power is much, much “cleaner and greener” than solar panels or windmills if you think about the issue in the long term in the first place, which we conservatives always do.
Please visit my website at www.nikitas3.com for more. You can read excerpts from my book, Right Is Right, which explains why only conservatism can maintain our freedom and prosperity.