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The Solar Initiative: 35 Years in the Non-Making

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So then, how is a Solar Initiative to be formulated? What points and actions must it contain to be successful? First, there must be real incentive for homeowners and small businesses across the country to install solar PV systems; including serious tax breaks and no-interest Guaranteed Loans. The money invested here by the government, can be gotten back fairly quickly in a re-vitalized economy with lower Unemployment, Food Stamp, and Public Assistance rolls; and the newly-swelling income and corporate tax revenue from an economy waking up from economic Depression; with secondary benefits percolating out to many other sectors such as "Retail", Tourism, and the Housing industry. Second, there must be incentives and further help for Industry to start-up, tool-up, and open up our now-deserted factories across the country; manufacturing and bringing in the machinery needed to produce solar panels efficiently and cheaply in massive quantities, as well as all the associated electronics and hardware needed for "Grid Tie" operation and installation. It's a tall order; and a Big Job. But Americans have done more ambitious tasks, and have done so with great success time and again. We can do this in less time, and for less cost, than any other "solution" now being discussed by Congress: Germany's fine example proves it beyond question.

Third". There is something that must be done with the current solar PV industry before any of this can likely happen. It must first be "Freed": Made free from the present "leaders"" who are, and this is often amazing news to many folks... the oil corporations themselves such as BP who are the largest players in the solar PV market. Their "leadership" here, for decades now, has been an utter, complete, and perennial FAIL . In fact, in the last 3 years we have seen the cost to individuals for installing Solar PV rise significantly, not lower. The obvious and inherent illegality regarding Anti-trust, RICO Act Racketeering, and Stock Manipulation cannot be denied. Whether corporate lawyers can endlessly argue carefully-crafted "gray-area" legality for these practices is beside the point: It clearly breaks the Intent of Anti-Trust laws (some of them specifically designed to cut off the smothering tentacles of "Standard Oil" in an earlier age); and this situation desperately needs to change. Somehow, these energy giants appear to be immune from Anti-Trust and stock manipulation laws simply because they are in the energy sector (and we can see this illustrated in how speculation on the Energy Commodities Markets allows them to control both "Supply", and "Price", and do so rather openly... something that is happening right now, again, as this is being written in April, 2011). They must be "urged", or forced via threat of investigation or legislation if need be, to sell off all PV solar holdings. Something so important to us all and to our very survival as "energy"; cannot be allowed to be manipulated by a few entities for their own ever-higher levels of profit. A true Solar Initiative cannot "work" unless the panels can be manufactured freely and in huge quantities, so the price and Return of Investment Period greatly lowers and Solar PV systems become affordable to the Middle Class of America... and as a side benefit, also eventually affordable to many folks around the world such as those in Rural Africa or South America who will finally be able to join the rest of the planet in increased prosperity via access to clean and cheap renewable energy.

And last, there should be redoubled and greater effort, urgency, transparency, and incentive to Universities and some "spin-out" companies holding new Patents on higher-efficiency solar panels, and other related solar-based technologies (such as hydrogen production from water using solar energy, as both Dr. Daniel Nocera of M.I.T. and Dr. Nate Lewis of Cal Tech and their teams have very important and potentially world-changing discoveries for)... to insure the major recent improvements and discoveries DO reach market. These new more efficient technologies will allow fewer panels to be mounted on our roofs to produce the same wattage; and the new solar Hydrogen producing technologies show great promise as an alternative method to batteries for storing energy for night-time use (using the Hydrogen efficiently produced from solar energy to then power electrical generators or vehicles). Right now, the greatest Efficiency commercially available for solar PV panels is "19%" (most are around 14%). But there are at least 5 different, if not many more, technologies out there right now that could raise the efficiency levels to at least 30% within a short time of being properly funded and pursued. One, such as that put forward by researchers at Stanford University, uses cheap silicon and new thin film manufacturing techniques to raise efficiency, and has apparently been under the "auspices" of the Department of Energy for over 2 years now. These advances in efficiency would greatly help the "R.O.I." and cost issues. And it should be noted, that many announced improvements in solar PV efficiency have been known about for years (even decades): The time for "feet dragging" regarding more efficient solar technology should end... and this should also be a side-benefit of the oil corporations giving up their industry-dominating solar PV holdings and solar-related Patents. Patents should be means of protecting an inventor's intellectual property: Not a weapon to hold world-improving technologies from ever reaching market because it profits a few for the technology to be "shelved" and forgotten. The planet, and Humanity, can not longer tolerate such sociopath behavior: And corporations "caught" doing so, should be Prosecuted both under Law, and in the "courts" of public opinion, losing all their consumer sales via a disgusted populace, and being run out of business.

With better efficiencies married to much lower costs from higher manufacturing volume in a truly free market" Solar PV becomes so attractive, that soon no government incentives would be required; as millions of Americans gladly install them because the price has lowered dramatically and they wish to do their part to end most forms of pollution and make America more secure internationally (and because it personally saves them money and provides them a great deal of Energy Independence from the privately-owned electric utility corporations). And it should be noted, that the major government incentives mentioned here are only needed to end the current artificially maintained negative situation in the solar PV industry, one that will certainly continue for many more years unless something "real" is done to change it. The prices will not significantly lower until production numbers rise dramatically (assuming the current market leaders even wish for such an outcome to begin with): And the Economy of Scale Benefit cannot happen while they are too expensive for average people to afford... a "Catch 22" conundrum that requires the "Gordian Knot" solution as no other will be effective. Oil Corporations who have solar holdings and make 35 billion Dollars in profits from oil sales (and often pay little or no taxes)... would have an excellent opportunity to start this Economy Of Scale ball rolling all by themselves: But they choose not to, and have so chosen for decades now, and are highly unlikely to ever do so willingly. Therefore the decentralized Solar Initiative must be done despite their vast influence and political power, and against their strong desires. But this can be done: When military arms and technologies are in question; the government will often strip away a Patent or "take" an invention away from a "unsuitable" company or inventor; this happens often when National Security comes into question. Energy is a highly critical subject that has a great deal of National Security issues involved. And the benefits for doing all this, for making a de-centralized Solar Initiative happen, are certainly worth the doing.

How can we make the decentralized Solar Initiative happen? The answer to this is deceptively simple; yet requires real work to achieve. It is what gave us the above-mentioned great victories of our past such as the Ecology Movement of the 1970's:

Grass Roots Activism and Greater Public Awareness...

And by using Brinkmanship and other non-violent means to make those in power so "uncomfortable", that change becomes more comfortable for them than perpetuating the status quo. We must remind them constantly that doing the right thing will see that they are re-elected or remain in business; that no matter how much money the energy corporations dump into Congressional campaigns, it won't matter if they can't get any votes because the Constituents are disgusted with the blatant kowtowing to the energy giants. We must create the perception that taking money from a polluting and corrupt energy corporation, is like openly taking contributions from "Lucky Luciano". We must remember as Americans united across Party lines for an issue that touches us all, that we do indeed have a very powerful collective voice... and we must learn to use it effectively again.

And then, like the chemical plants indiscriminately dumping mercury into Lake Erie... like the corporations carelessly dumping used oil products into the Cuyahoga in Cleveland to the point of a River being declared a Fire Hazard... like the mills in Pittsburgh pumping tons of carcinogenic pollutants into the air every second... like the innumerable cities and towns dumping poorly treated sewage into the same rivers that also provided drinking water... the inevitable and desperately needed changes will finally happen: Through using our remembered collective Voice. And so we can make this Solar Initiative, and the move away from dangerous and polluting forms of energy in general, our next great Victory for all America, and Humanity.

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Despite all the talk last year while the media was still watching, Congress fails to pass a single oil spill law.

Congress FAILS to do anything about oil drilling safety

Dr. Daniel Nocera's important discovery for the efficient production of H and O from water using solar energy, mimicking the way leaves do it

Daniel Nocera and MIT's artificial leaf discovery

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CNET Artificial Leaf makes Hydrogen from Solar

Dr. Daniel Nocera at POPTECH Personalized Energy

Dr. Nate Lewis of Cal Tech's similar discovery for efficient H production using solar energy and nano tubes; and his Cal Tech site. Dr Lewis' and Dr. Nocera's information has not made the mainstream media yet, but needs to be known widely so Americans understand there are real alternatives. Please share them.

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Is a writer and activist in the field of alternative energy. A partial list of his articles can be seen here (or by Searching OpEd News): He is also the Admin of The Free Energy Facebook Group, all (more...)

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Unless we create enough Awareness for the true ene... by steve windisch on Wednesday, Apr 27, 2011 at 11:19:02 AM
The powers-that-be in the United States are not in... by steve windisch on Wednesday, Apr 27, 2011 at 11:47:30 AM