Al Gore’s Impossible Plan for 100% Renewable Energy

Al Gore’s speech July 17th in Washington, D.C. challenged the nation to switch to 100% renewable energy sources within 10 years. He stated that it is entirely possible to overhaul our current electricity system to use only solar and wind energy to meet the nation’s growing energy demand. A vital factor Al Gore overlooked is the logistics of the country running on solar and wind power alone. Gore’s dream of 100% renewable energy for America is unrealistic and illogical.

It should be easy to see that relying on solar and wind power cannot provide America with reliable power. Solar power is not able to provide a base power load because of its intermittent fuel source, due to the daily rotation of the earth and cloud cover. Wind power is also highly intermittent due to the natural variability of wind. Fossil fuel power plants have always backed up solar and wind generation by operating in spinning standby mode. The use of these renewable sources has yet to put a fossil fuel power plant out of operation. In fact, the use of more renewable energy spawns the use of more fossil fuel plants to balance the power load.

Neither the sun nor the wind can carry the base load demand unless American consumers and businesses are willing to put up with lack of power for hours or days at a time. Many major businesses like Google and Microsoft rely on affordable and reliable power and have located near hydroelectric plants (such as those on the Columbia River) in order to ensure a consistent (not to mention clean) power source.

Setting aside the feasibility of renewable sources to provide reliable power, the land area that would be needed to provide the 126 million homes in the United States with sun or wind power would be astronomical. Solar panels would have to cover every square foot of over 10 million acres to meet residential energy demand. This is roughly the total land area of Connecticut, Vermont, Rhode Island and Delaware combined. For wind power to meet demand, turbines would have to cover over 23 million acres which equal every square mile in New Jersey, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Maryland. These figures do not include the large land area needed for transmission lines to bring this power to every American home.

The land use would be so large that it would be visible from space. It would be one of the largest construction projects in human history, on par with the Great Wall of China and the Pyramids of Egypt. In his speech, Gore calls for this challenge to be met within ten years. This is obviously not realistic, even assuming economies of scale for large commercial-scale production. The construction of a solar or wind facility that would intermittently power the United States would take approximately 350 years or 250 years, respectively.

The construction cost of Al Gore’s challenge would be excessive. In order to power the United States on wind power alone, more than 262,000 turbines would need to be constructed at a price tag of a little over $1.3 trillion dollars. The cost of construction of enough solar panels to power the U.S. carries a price tag of about $1 trillion dollars. Gore does not deny these figures. In fact, he thinks it may cost even more, up to 3 trillion dollars. This would be the equivalent to asking every man, woman and child for $9,800 dollars; and if you are one of the many Americans with a family of two kids, Al Gore would want over $39,000 from your family to finance his solution to global warming.

Al Gore has challenged the nation to begin one of the costliest, largest, most capital-intensive construction projects in human history. Not only is the plan unachievable, but succeeding in his challenge would not have any discernable effect on global climate since China is producing two new coal fire power plants every week.

Instead of ruining America’s prosperity, Americans should be leaders in wealth-creating activities. With development and wealth, Americans will be able to adjust and adapt to almost any change in climate that might occur in the near or distant future. Advocating pipe dreams like powering a country solely on solar and wind is counterproductive to producing a viable solution to handling any possible negative effects associated with global warming.


Todd Wynn is the climate change and energy policy analyst at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research center.

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  • Jerry

    But AlGore stands to make millions off this scheme. You can’t fault the guy on that! He is living the American dream where anybody, no matter how inept, has a chance to really make it big. You are raining on his parade and he won’t like that, and neither do I.

    I am sending Al some money now – he needs all the help he can get to convince doubting Thomases like you that he and he alone is right.

    If you care about American, our children, and the planet you will get behind AlGore and his masterful, well-thought out plan. Do it now. Before it is too late.

    The seas are rising, my friend, and the nights are growing dark. Act now or it will be too late. Most experts agree that we only have 5 years left on this planet if bold action is not taken immediately. Five years do you hear me?

  • Bob Clark

    Even our green governor isn’t biting on Al Gore’s 10 year plan, having stated in a recent Oregonian article, in reference to his energy policy group, renewables will not be able to provide all the energy Oregonians need. In fact, governor Ted is open to looking at nuclear, “clean” burning coal, natural gas, etc. He said the state’s energy policy needs to be balanced, and won’t please everyone. Maybe governor Ted was not being geniune, but sure sounds like even he knows Al Gore has left the planet of reality in pursuit of environmental monies.

    • C. Rogers

      We should always keep in mind that Gore is a POLITICIAN AND NOT A SCIENTIST OR ENGINEER

      • bill

        Actually he is a Baptist minister – that explains a lot.

        • Tim Lyman

          I’m not sure if Big Al is a minister or not. I do know that he managed the heretofore impossible task of flunking out of seminary school.

          • Bo

            Dont knock Gore on college, I hear Sarah Palin went to five colleges in six years. We are young when we all go to college.

  • David

    10 M acres really isn’t that much — a square 125 miles on a side, equal to 14% of Nevada. There’s plenty of room in the southwest for such a structure.

    • Jerry

      Plenty of room. But what happens at night?
      Just wondered.

  • Sybella

    I lived with solar power for years. It works, but it definitely has downfalls. There is nothing like a light switch. Long live traditional electricity

  • mpower

    100% renewable energy is such a lofty goal, perhaps impossible. Much too hard/difficult/painful for we lazy americans to even consider. It’s so much easier to just drill offshore and use our last remaining domestic reserves. We probably won’t need those reserves in the future, right? Surely we can stick our heads in the sand (arabian sand) for another decade or two… we’ll all be dead or retired by then, so who cares? Let future generations figure out how to pay off our huge debt and produce their own electricity from vegetable scraps… these things are just too hard and too painful for us to think about right now.

    How are supposed to enjoy our 4500+sq. ft. homes and SUVs if everyone keeps bugging us about renewable energy and high fuel prices? Just go away and give us more credit!

    Do we have to make these terrible, difficult choices now? Long-term thinking is such a buzzkill! Can’t we just drill for more oil and fight some more wars so that I can buy that RV + ATV + PWC? I really really need and deserve all of these motorized toys, so I don’t see how/why alternative energy has to ruin everything. Leave me alone! Send the bill to my kids!

    I am a fat, lazy, “conservative” american… just drill for more oil and make our bad problems go away! Don’t bother me with climate change and high energy costs… just give me another home equity loan that I can’t afford so I can live like a halfwit sloth for just another 10 years, please! Give me everything but reality… we can’t handle reality, just reality TV.

    Perhaps our kids and grandkids will deal with reality… then again, they won’t have a choice – we’ve already made their choices for them. Debt. Servitude. Dependency. Our “conservative” legacy to our children.

  • dean

    I hope a few factual corrections will be considered:

    1) Gore did not propose 100% of electricity from wind and sun. He said he assumed existing nukes would continue to operate. tHey curently provide 20% of the total load. And he said existing hydro would continue to operate, which is another 6%.

    2) Wind is intermittent in any given location, true, but is constant within the United States as a whole. If it is not blowing somewhere, it is blowing somewhere else, morning noon and night. The challenge is integrating the power grid, which at present is a patchwork of locally owned lines. It has to be effectively nationalized and better tied together. Read your Boone Pickens.

    3) Solar colectors can be placed on the roofs of existing buildings and on awnings built over paking lots, which take up 30% or more of the surface area of most cities and suburbs. Thus much of the space needed is already built on.

    4) Wind turbines only take up about 1/4 acre each, yet have 5-20 acres of open land around them. They do not thus cover 23 million acres. The land beneath them can be grazed or farmed or used as grassland habitat.

    5) $1.3 trillion, if that is the estimate, is $130 billion per year. That is just about what we have been spending each and every year over the past 6 to fight wars in Iraq and Afaganistan. Apparently we can afford it, even if it means borrowing the money from the Chinese and Saudis. At least at the end of Gore’s proposed investment, we would actually have something of use to us.

    I seriously doubt Al Gore wants to “ruin America’s prosperity.” He may have a different view of how to secure that prosperity in teh future than you do. His way is to generate the energy we need from domestic sources that do not pollute.

    What is your alternative Todd? Drill drill drill? Dig dig dig? What would doing nothing cost? What would it cost to meet our rising energy demand using conventional sources? What would the environmental costs of that be? Do you have some analysis to share?

    • bill

      *mpower:* 100% renewable energy is such a lofty goal, perhaps impossible.
      *Bill:* Not perhaps, IS IMPOSSIBLE and not worth the financial cost.

      *mpower:* Much too hard/difficult/painful for we lazy americans to even consider.
      *Bill:* And too wasteful. However such a plan would make Al & T.Boon even richer. That is what you are being sucked into.

      *mpower:* It’s so much easier to just drill offshore and
      *Bill:* And cheaper. Or would you rather we take food off of people’s tables to force them to pay 2-10 times what electricity currently costs? Would you like to see people unable to clothe their children so they can afford gas to get to work (or would you rather see them spend a extra hour a day away from their families on transit?)

      *mpower:* use our last remaining domestic reserves. We probably won’t need those reserves in the future, right?
      *Bill:* That is right. The stone age DO NOT END FOR THE LACK OF STONES and the oil age will not end because of running out of oil. Unfortunately Al’s zombies have no ability to project progress into the future – only doom & gloom.

      *mpower:* Surely we can stick our heads in the sand (arabian sand) for another decade or two… we’ll all be dead or retired by then, so who cares?
      *Bill:* The real reason to end oil imports is financial and geopolitical. That is why we need to drill domestically and drill now.

      *mpower:* Let future generations figure out how to pay off our huge debt and produce their own electricity from vegetable scraps… these things are just too hard and too painful for us to think about right now.
      *Bill:* We figure out how to do things when they make financial sense to do otherwise would be wasting one of our most precious commodities – man’s time (through money, the receipt for man’s time.)

      *mpower:* How are supposed to enjoy our 4500+sq. ft. homes and SUVs if everyone keeps bugging us about renewable energy and high fuel prices? Just go away and give us more credit!
      *Bill:* The fools who are envious of other’s life choices should simply shut up. That is a hint.

      *mpower:* Do we have to make these terrible, difficult choices now? Long-term thinking is such a buzzkill!
      *Bill:* Not to mention a waste. We cannot know the needs of 10 year in the future, let alone 50 years.

      *mpower:* Can’t we just drill for more oil
      *Bill:* Agreed. Domestically.

      *mpower:* I am a fat, lazy, “conservative” american…
      *Bill:* Worse, yet a non thinker.

      *mpower:* Don’t bother me with climate change
      *Bill:* Correct – it is the greatest scientific fraud since eugenics. And you do know where that led don’t you?

      *mpower:* Perhaps our kids and grandkids will deal with reality… then again, they won’t have a choice – we’ve already made their choices for them. Debt. Servitude. Dependency. Our “conservative” legacy to our children.
      *Bill:* The only real problem is the debt. Too bad so many are focused on non-problems.

    • bill

      *dean:* I seriously doubt Al Gore wants to “ruin America’s prosperity.”
      *Bill:* He is too stupid to realize that his proposal WILL ruin the economy.

      *dean:* He may have a different view of how to secure that prosperity in teh future than you do.
      *Bill:* He is simple economically illiterate. He didn’t pay attention in science or econ. He is one of many (perhaps like you) would do anything to save the world, except take a science class. (PJ Oroke)

      *dean:* His way is to generate the energy we need from domestic sources that do not pollute.
      *Bill:* Name one that is practical on a grid scale. By that I mean cheaper than today and is proven. Only nuke meets that criteria, yet is dismissed by the lefties.

      *dean:* What is your alternative Todd? Drill drill drill? Dig dig dig?
      *Bill:* It works and is cheap. Nuke is cheaper for electricity.

      *dean:* What would doing nothing cost?
      *Bill:* Do nothing will slowly starve us for energy and destroy our standard of living – just what you seem to want.

      *dean:* What would it cost to meet our rising energy demand using conventional sources?
      *Bill:* Less than grand new, untested, unproven schemes.

      *dean:* What would the environmental costs of that be?
      *Bill:* Nuks are the cleanest.

      *dean:* Do you have some analysis to share?
      *Bill:* You would’t understand it if he did.

      • dean

        Bill: He is too stupid to realize that his proposal WILL ruin the economy.
        Dean: For being so dumb he has done pretty well economically.

        Bill: He is simple economically illiterate. He didn’t pay attention in science or econ. He is one of many (perhaps like you) would do anything to save the world, except take a science class. (PJ Oroke)
        Dean: Can’t speak for Al, but I have taken more than one science class, have published peer reviewed science papers, and written ecology books. And it is spelled O’Rourke, an English grad who is not the last word on anyone’s science or econ credentials.

        Bill: Name one that is practical on a grid scale. By that I mean cheaper than today and is proven. Only nuke meets that criteria, yet is dismissed by the lefties.
        Dean: Nukes are not cheaper than coal or gas, and are not cheaper than wind power. Practical on a grid scale is meaningless because we don’t have an integrated grid. That is the point of Al’s and T. Boone’s suggested investments. Integrate the grid and you make wind practical at a large scale.

        Bill: It works and is cheap. Nuke is cheaper for electricity.
        Dean: Cheaper than what Bill? If it were not for Federal taxpayer guarentees to pay for the costs of a nuclear accident there would be no financing availalbe to build nuclear plants. And even WITH that insurance underwrite, private utility companies are not building more nuclear plants, even though the government is urging them to do so. And who guards the waste for 300 plus years? We the taxpayers.

        Bill: Do nothing will slowly starve us for energy and destroy our standard of living – just what you seem to want.
        Dean: No. I want a big investment in alternatives that just might allow us to hang onto our “standard of living.” I like my car, computer, and light switches as much as the next person.

        Bill: Less than grand new, untested, unproven schemes.
        Dean: So….out with the new, in with the old? Weren’t your favored nukes a new technology at one point that needed massive federal R&D to be developed? Private industry sat back and waited for the technology to be handed to them. And the one nation that is mostly nuke powered is socialist France.

        Bill: Nuks are the cleanest.
        Dean: If you discount the meldown risk and the waste transport and storage. Most people living downwind or in Nevada do not discount these.

        Bill: You would’t understand it if he did.
        Dean: Try me. Explain how a nation with 3% of the world’s oil reserves, that uses 25% of the world’s oil production, is going to solve it’s energy problem by drilling more? I’m all eyes and ears.

    • Steve

      Hurray! This guy saved me an hour saying just what I was about to say. Todd has his head in the sand.

  • Rupert in Springfield

    Why is everything is always a crises with this bunch?

    Oh my god, we cant afford to wait, we only have thirty years of oil left. Boy I remember that one back in the seventies, thirty years ago.

    I suggest that before we listen to another word these nitwits have to say we ask them to please reimburse us all for the asininity that is alternative fuels.

    Ethanol? Anyone looking at their mileage? How about those repair bills? How about the windfall profits the state is getting from everyone having to buy more gas because they now get lower mileage? What kind of idiot thinks you can distill alcohol and get more energy out than you put in unless you are burning garbage to do the distillation? Could we please not listen to fuel plans from anyone who has not at least taken a class in thermo dynamics? I mean this one was class A stupid, and we all got suckered.

    Biodiesel? Could you please reimburse us first for all those buses that were bought or converted and then didn’t pan out?

    Nuclear? When exactly can we expect an apology for our misguided abandonment of that one.

    I am so tired of making these idiots either rich, through subsidizing their pet projects, or easing their guilt through forcing me to conform to their insane behaviour.

    Global Warming is a moral issue, not a political one. Al Gore says it himself continuously.

    Get your damn morals out of my wallet. Go but a windmill if you want to. Go put solar panels up on your roof for all I care. Just get your damn hands out of my wallet to make me pay for your absurd schemes.

    The only thing notable about Al Gore is he seems to be the only politician who went into private industry and wound up costing everyone more money than when he was in office.

    I am now of the mind that it should be perfectly ok to just slap someone who goes on about the need to “invest” in solar who cannot produce a stock certificate showing that they themselves have invested in one of these companies. I haven’t actually moved to the slap stage but I have moved to the “why don’t you just grow up” stage with people who cant do this. Look, if you aren’t willing to invest your own money in it. then get off my back to invest in it for you. Its a sure thing they say, soon its going to achieve parity they say. Yeah, well Id believe that a whole lot more if you actually had your money at risk. Until then, pardon me if I laugh at you for being nothing but a con man using what has by now become a very tired scheme.

    The endless environmental crisis; you grew up with it, now your kids are growing up with it, maybe its time to just get over it?

  • Anonymous

    Dean you are hopeless.

    No one said drilling alone would “solve our energy problem”.

    But there is no doubt or valid opposing arguement that it won’t help.
    Along with increased Natural gas, that is abundant and easier to extract and use, and alternative and technological advances we could be very well off.
    But the Gore’s and dean’s of the country are all closed eyes and plugged ears.

  • JesseO

    For those shocked by the numbers, or say it will ruin our economy, repeat:

    The IRAQ war is costing the same amount of money as energy independence, which has long-lasting benefits and jobs.

    • Rupert in Springfield

      Repeat it all you want. The argument that because we are engaged in a war in Iraq then therefore Al Gores energy policy will not ruin the economy is something of a non sequitar. Because one is engaged in one expensive endevour, foolhardy or not, does not mean every expensive action one might desire is therefore reasonable.

      Some other examples:

      We are fighting in Iraq, so then therefore I can quite my job and learn the banjo.

      We are fighting in Iraq, so then therefore the government should buy everyone a house.

      We are fighting in Iraq, therefore government should subsidize all salaries to a minimum basis of $100,000.

      I mean it just simply doesn’t follow. Look at it in your own life.

      Example:

      My wife and I have no kids and I just bought our fourth car, so then therefore I can now put in a home theater system.

      I just bought a new $200,000 house, so buying a $100,000 sportscar makes sense than ever now.

  • Anonymous

    “And it is spelled O’Rourke, an English grad who is not the last word on anyone’s science or econ credentials.”

    This after:

    “…tHey curently provide…”

    “Solar colectors…”

    “…over paking lots…”

    dean, you’re the last person on earth to correct anyone’s spelling.

    As for being all eyes and ears, I think the consensus is that you’re all mouth and a** – the latter being the source of your so-called “facts”.

  • Joshua Whalen

    Well, let’s be conservative for a moment. 126 million homes, with an average roof area of 1000 sq ft., covered with single-crystal photovoltaic modules with (for ease of math’s sake) an average efficiency of 10%, for an appx. average of 10 kwatt hours per household, six hours a day, or 60 kwatt per household per day. Since the average american home uses 7.2 kwatt per day. the big problem is what to do with all the surplus. 60kwatt * 126 million = 7560000000 kwatt hours generated per day, with an average period of daily sunlight of six hours. Sounds like quite a bit of power to me.
    We just spent 3 trillion on the Iraq war, and whatt profit will we have to show for that? Zero.
    Sorry, guys, but it sounds like a good plan to me.

    • Rupert in Springfield

      Obviously this would sound like a good plan.

      Its the perfect plan for the left. All the bases they are concerned with are covered, the solar cells generate power, the user uses power.

      And for the rest of us who are always left holding the bag for their foibles (see “war on poverty” which makes Iraq seem like a pittance)? We get screwed.

      Even if one accepts your figures, I dont they are off by a factor of two even on a quick check, the amortization costs of the system are not accounted for.

      Considering that at current electrical rates and allowing for no breakage, or degradation of the solar panels or batteries your amortization costs are about 80 years. We can see how this sort of thing only makes financial sense to the left. Why? Because the cost of the system doesn’t matter, the fact that we went to war in Iraq obviates any discussion of the financial aspects of any of their plans.

      If you can figure out why this logic makes sense, please let me know. Until then I generally take the “we should go with solar because……Iraq” argument as evidence not of sound reasoning, but rather proof that marijuana is probably a drug best avoided.

      • dean

        Rupert…but the costs of alternative energy are not static. Wind costs have come down by a factor of 4 times in 15 years, and solar costs are coming down at the same rate or faster. If we did finance a more rapid deployment of alternatives, costs are likely to come down faster yet. Many predictions have solar at parity with coal within 5 years, but it only happens if production continues to be ramped up.

        Yet oil and gas cost have increased substantially over the past 10 years, and nuclear remains high, with no signs that it will come down in cost.

        • Rupert in Springfield

          Solar costs have gone down?

          Wind costs have gone down?

          Egads – how amazing.

          And how precisely does this affect anything with a solar system installed now?

          In a word it doesn’t. Just like calculators, big screen TV’s etc. it doesn’t matter one whit is costs have gone down in relation to an installed system. If you bought a calculator when they were $500, or a 36 inch Plasma TV when they were $5,000 the fact that they are one tenth of the price today doesn’t change the fact that you installed a $5,000 TV.

          As for subsidies bringing the price down? Good luck with that one. We been subsidizing numerous industries and they have not reduced their production costs. The US steel industry would be the biggest example of this.

          The biggest single argument you could make for me would be to tell me how much of your own money you have invested in solar cell or wind generation companies. If you have a stock certificate showing some sort of substantial investment, great. If you don’t please don’t ask the rest of us to fund your dreams.

      • Joshua Whalen

        Just so you know, rupert, 10% efficient is the middle range for currently shipping photovoltaic cells. Check evergreen Solar’s best panels at www. realgoods.com. Also keep in mind that single crystal cells have a virtually indefinite life expectancy. The cells on telstar one, the first communications satellite ever, which sported the first solar cells, ever, weree still out putting between 85 & 90 percent of their originial rated output 40 years after they were launched into space. Single Crystal cells basically never wear out, and, btw, the amortization for a standard photovoltaic rig (15 panels, a battery array, charge controller & inverter) is typically 25 years, not 80.
        Finally, the cost: I threw out the 3 trillion figure because that’s the cost of the iraq war, so far. The actual cost for covering 10% of the surface area of the United States with best-quality photovoltaics, if purchased at full retail, one unit at a time, is under 1 trillion, not counting labor. I did the math a few months ago, assuming that available rooftops would equal about 10% of the us surface area. My numbers are good, I’m a programmer and systems consultant, and I’ve built several solar power systems, both for myself and for friends. Granted, there are additional costs adapting the grid, installing, and maintaining, but remember, I’m using RETAIL prices in my figures, and there are huge cost reductions when purchased in batches of a million or more. So a trillion is probably about it, and there’s nothing out there that will generate as much power with as little headache for even a fraction as long as this will at anywhere near that low a cost. really, it’s a good plan.It’s also good for national security. Millions of panels on millions of houses is mighty hard to take out in a terrorist attack, and we can tell the middle east to go screw it’s ass-backward self forever.

        • Rupert in Springfield

          >Just so you know, rupert, 10% efficient is the middle range for currently shipping photovoltaic cells.

          I wouldn’t really argue with that, its a fairly correct figure. I think you are wrong on your output however. I was using a figure of 125 watts peak per square meter and four and a half hours per day at peak output.

          In addition you are way off on your other figures, especially regarding the available roof area. See below.

          >Finally, the cost: I threw out the 3 trillion figure because that’s the cost of the iraq war, so far.

          I wish I knew why everything for liberals was measured in terms of the cost of the Iraq war.

          Ill throw you a bone, measure everything in terms of the “War on Poverty”. That was and continues to be a vastly more expensive endevour, with even less results. You would have a much higher basis to make your comparison from using that as a metric.

          >The actual cost for covering 10% of the surface area of the United States with best-quality photovoltaics, if purchased at full retail, one unit at a time, is under 1 trillion, not counting labor. I did the math a few months ago, assuming that available rooftops would equal about 10% of the us surface area.

          Ok, this is where I first really questioned you. I had a real hard time believing rooftops cover 10% of the US land area. So This is the point where I put down my pencil and bourbon soaked cocktail napkin and got out my calculator.

          The US is 3.5 million square miles. Divided by 126 million homes ( assuming each is freestanding and no one lives in apartments one on top of each other, I’m giving you every benefit of the doubt here ) that comes to 0.00278 square miles per home at 10% coverage. Multiplying that out, you come up with a figure of each home being roughly 77,000 square feet per home.

          Personally I think that figure is a little bit high. That is unless we are using one of Al Gores homes as a basis.

          At any rate, to continue.

          Using a figure of 6 hours per day peak seems way off to me. The sun just simply isn’t directly overhead, rather than at an angle or obscured by clouds for six hours per day averaged across the US. 4.5 hours peak is a way more reasonable figure. Yes I know the sun shines more than 4.5 hours. The point is figuring in half power due to a low sun angle for some of the day, full power at noon etc. works out to an average of figuring constant direct overhead sun of 4.5 hours per day.

          Thus, we are going to get 125 Watts x 4.5 hours/day = 562 watts per day or 562/1000 kilowatts = 0.562 kilo watts per day per 125 Watt panel

          Thus we will need a 1,625 watt system ( We take your average house usage number 7.2Kwatt per day, divide by the 562 watts per day we get from a 125 watt panel, multiply by 125 watts – (7,200 watts/day) / (562 Watts/day/panel) = 12.81 panels call it 13 panels. 13 Panels x 125 watts per panel = 1,620 Watts = 1.62 Kwatt system).

          If electricity costs 7.5 cents per Kilowatt this means we will be generating 7.5 cents x 7.2 Kwatts per day = 54 cents per day

          Figure $4.35 per watt as the lowest retail cost for a monocrystiline module alone. Installation costs mounting brackets, tying into the power grid will bring this real close to $8 a watt. This is probably a reasonable figure, or $8 x 1000 per Kilo Watt = $8,000 per Kwatt. Thus a 7.2 Kwatt system ( your figure for average house usage ) comes to $8,000/Kwatt x 1.620 Kwatt System (the size of the system we calculated above ) = $12,960

          Zounds, that’s a lot of money. I can see why Al Gore is one of the only people that can afford this stuff, and even when he installed solar panels, his electrical usage went up. Ok, so lets do the amortization:

          We are spending $12,960 but we are saving 54 cents per day. So dividing out we find we will recoup our cost in 24,000 days or 65.75 years. And that’s assuming no maintenance costs for the solar array and related equipment.

          Wow, that’s a whole bunch-A-money.

          Oh well, electricity may go up, but not much, we have coal forever, and even without it, there is only so high electricity can go before we switch to nukes.

          Solar cells may go down?

          Yeah, I guess so, but the fact that they may go down in the future is even more reason not to invest in them now. Wait for the price to go down, just the same as with Plasma TVs, VCR’s calculators etc.

          >My numbers are good,

          No they arent. They are terrible. Even a coursory check shows this.

          77,000 square foot houses?

          No installation costs on your panels?

      • Joshua Whalen

        Oh, by the way, if anyone wants to check my facts, first read “Direct Use of the Sun’s Energy” by manhattan Project Physicist farrington Daniels. It’s old, but it’s the definitive work on the subject.

    • Tim Lyman

      1. Acording to the DOE the average American home uses about 30kwh a day, not 7.

      2. I just did some quick calculations and 1000 sf of the solar panels you describe would cost over $500,000. This is PANELS ONLY and does not include other hardware necessary for operation.

      3. If we accept your figure of the above mentioned solar panels generating 60kwh a day, which I seriously doubt, at $.08 per kw/h the system would pay for itself in only 300 years.

      Must have attended the Patrice Lumumba School of Economics.

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