Tuesday, March 13, 2007

"Coined by scientists, z-squared means zero carbon-dioxide emissions and zero energy use from the grid." from the San Jose Mercury.

I am all for solar power, but as usual, there is no stupidity like the stupidity of a scientist.

1) To make solar cells requires high temperature processing of silicon into pure crystals. This is typically done with power drawn from the "grid" somewhere in the world. How many years of solar panel use does it take to recover the power used to smelt the silicon?
2) To get the cells onto the roof of a building also requires a tremendous expenditure of fossil fuels. We must get the ore to the smelter, the silicon to the crystal wafer plant, the crystal wafers to the solar panel assembly, and the assembled solar panels to their destinations, along with inverters and other hardware. At each point, there are employees who must get from their homes to work to make everything happen starting from the original mining and finishing with the installation on the building. Thus, significant fossil fuel expenditures are mandatory to make a solar installation happen.
3) The "zero energy use from the grid" means a zero net usage from the grid. The building is still connected to the grid and a grid is mandatory to make things function.

There is another meaning for the word "green" that doesn't imply eco-friendly, but is just as applicable to the Greens.

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