The problem of recharging at home is one is simply moving the source of
pollution from the vehicle on the road to the oil fired generator plant,
unless of course, the source of power is either hydro-electric or some
other renewable source.
>I was just out in the Pacific Northwest, and visited my uncle, who works
>at the national lab in Richland, WA. He is part of a gigantic (I mean
>BIG) effort to develop systems to produce chemical feedstocks and fuels
>from starch and cellulose. Several approaches are feasible, and can
>compete with petrochemicals right now, at least in niche feedstock
>markets. Oil prices are the lowest they have ever been. They will
>start to creep up as oil gradually becomes scarce. I have no doubt,
>that in 50 years, most of our liquid fuels will be made from biomass.
>This will be inherently sustainable, since every bit of carbon burned
>will have been sequestered from the atmosphere.
This is good if it can be produced in large enough quantities. I think
that has been one of the major stumbling blocks in the past.
>The other big technology waiting in the wings is photoelectric power.
>People have been quietly improving these systems. A few square meters
>of photocells on your roof can supply all the power you need for your
>home. The cost of commercial power won't have to go up too much before
>people start buying these systems.
We pay a fairly high rate now; on the order of 12 cents/WHO. Not the
highest in the country, but a hefty rate. And I have to admit to being a
heavy user of electrical power. If I thought I could install a solar
system and come even close to breaking even over time, I would do so. But
I know what it takes to maintain a large battery bank as a result of my
experience in maintenance of microwave and satellite communications systems.
I am willing to put forth that extra effort, but how many others would
be? I just don't see individual solar cell installations becoming popular
because of the space and maintenance requirements for the battery bank
which is required. Solar panels are great for low wattage lighting,
alarms, and other small uses where sealed rechargeable batteries can do the
job and are cheap to replace after three or four years of use (you get
about 1,000 cycles out of a NiCad battery). Higher capacity batteries have
a much higher initial or replacement cost and most require more maintenance
than your average automotive wet cell battery. Low maintenance, or zero
maintenance batteries large enough to handle the average usage of around
1,500 or more WHO/Month are very expensive.
That is, unless there are new developments I have not seen. I have not
had occasion to purchase any batteries other than automotive in the last
--Dan in Sunny Puerto Rico--
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