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There was a link poster not too long ago that was trying to convince us to buy solar panels. I am not a big fan of those guys but the topic had some merit. Do any of you plan on going solar in your lifetime? Do you think it is still too expensive? Do you just hate the sun?

Solar power has come a long way from when it was first made. the plates are getting smaller, and the energy produced is transferred much more fluently.. The one thing that hasn't changed is that the stuff is expensive, far more expensive than electricity made from conventional means. Furthermore, do we really need to do something that gives us A: less energy and B: cost much more? Most people would probably say no, or that they simply can't do it. Others think we do need to change, since our current energy sources are not unlimited, and continuing to use them may be more than just more expensive in the long run in terms of money.

The way I see it, solar power is free energy. Harnessing it is what's expensive. a lot of problems might be avoided if solar energy was used more frequently. People might not worry so much about the bills of being a homeowner if the electric bill wasn't through the roof. Solar powered cars may sound silly, but I don't like my gas bill, so any solution at all is welcome.

I already have a few solar powered lamps that turn on at night time. They are pretty cool and surprisingly bright. I figure technology like this wasn't around too long ago, and certainly not affordable. I certainly couldn't afford paneling put in right now, but in the future I bet it will be easier. If I ever do get the chance, I plan on jumping on it. Moving is a problem, since you are putting a good investment in the house and you might not get it back if you leave, but I figure as long as I stay there long enough, it will be alright. I don't see this as being pretentious since I am not planning on doing it just for the environment. I think it is a smart business decision in general. There is no tax on sunlight, and that seems a lot more stable than anything else these days.

So what do you guys think?

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[font=palatino linotype]I don't own a house, so this is a non-starter for me. But should I ever own one, I'd definitely consider this option. Unfortunately, solar panels are highly expensive unless a government rebate is involved (something we had until recently in Australia). I think it makes a lot of sense to offer rebates for solar panel installation, not just for environmental reasons, but also because it takes pressure of ageing energy infrastructure generally.[/font]

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[font="Comic Sans MS"][size="4"][color="#9932CC"]Wouldn't Solar Panels to power ones entire house look odd? I mean a bunch of random huge ginormous panel things on a roof when they can make em smaller and easy to hide I will surly get some [color="#000000"]^[/color][/color]3^[/size][/font]

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[color="#0000ff"]There are definitely some government sponsored "green" energy programs around here but the fact remains that solar has an extremely high up front cost with very little short term gain. I think it will eventually take off but the technology needs to be refined significantly so solar panels can be used as a source of energy instead of a supplement.[/color]

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[quote name='Petie' timestamp='1323870931' post='710583']
[color="#0000ff"]There are definitely some government sponsored "green" energy programs around here but the fact remains that solar has an extremely high up front cost with very little short term gain. I think it will eventually take off but the technology needs to be refined significantly so solar panels can be used as a source of energy instead of a supplement.[/color]
[/quote]
[font="Comic Sans MS"][size="4"][color="#9932CC"]Don't you think they kind of look a bit goofy also?[/color][/size][/font]

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[quote name='IIISTARSCREAMERIII' timestamp='1323872271' post='710584']
[font="Comic Sans MS"][size="4"][color="#9932CC"]Don't you think they kind of look a bit goofy also?[/color][/size][/font]
[/quote]
[color="#0000ff"]They may, to some, but they're not really something you buy for aesthetics. The same can be said about [i]most[/i] hybrid cars - they're eyesores but they get great mileage and they're less harmful to the environment. So, chances are, if you have the money or the desire to reduce your environmental impact, you don't care too much about how it looks.[/color]

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[quote name='Petie' timestamp='1323875152' post='710585']
[color="#0000ff"]They may, to some, but they're not really something you buy for aesthetics. The same can be said about [i]most[/i] hybrid cars - they're eyesores but they get great mileage and they're less harmful to the environment. So, chances are, if you have the money or the desire to reduce your environmental impact, you don't care too much about how it looks.[/color]
[/quote]

[font="Comic Sans MS"][size="4"][color="#9932CC"]That is true I guess I'm a bit shallow when it comes to those kinds of things[/color] >3<;;;[/size][/font]

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[quote name='IIISTARSCREAMERIII' timestamp='1323872271' post='710584']
[font="Comic Sans MS"][size="4"][color="#9932CC"]Don't you think they kind of look a bit goofy also?[/color][/size][/font]
[/quote]

[font=palatino linotype]This is one reason why marketing and design can be so important. I think that the take-up of hybrids might be bigger if car manufacturers tried to create more appealing products. It's a valid point.

Having said that, if you actually look at the emissions involved in creating the electric batteries for hybrids as well as the emissions involved in disposing of them every few years (I'm pretty sure you need to change the battery every ten years or something), it all adds up. [/font]

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I bet there would be ways to improve how they look, but they are already so expensive that any extra money spent on aesthetics just seems pointless.

Maybe they could advertize it as being hip and different; that way all the hipsters will buy it when they grow up and have houses of their own.

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[quote name='CaNz' timestamp='1324263916' post='710646']
I bet there would be ways to improve how they look, but they are already so expensive that any extra money spent on aesthetics just seems pointless.

[/quote]

[font=palatino linotype]I don't think a change in body shape is going to make much difference to cost. But while we're on the subject, I do think that hybrids are a bit of an awkward halfway point between internal combustion and fuel cell engines. I know there are still a lot of hurdles to overcome with the latter, but there also seem to be some relatively big issues with hybrids (particularly the cost and the batteries, as I mentioned earlier).[/font]

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I am not much of a car person, but I don't think there was anything too awkward looking about my cousins Prius. I have seen some small looking cars, but i have no idea weather that is necisary for it to run, or just better for good gas mileage. I also think there are a ton of odd looking cars out there with normal engines, like scions for example. To get back to the point... I think the only thing that makes those cars weird is the fact that not everyone drives them. If 90% of people drove a hybrid, the people with generic cars would then look strange.

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[quote name='CaNz' timestamp='1324340224' post='710659']
I am not much of a car person, but I don't think there was anything too awkward looking about my cousins Prius. I have seen some small looking cars, but i have no idea weather that is necisary for it to run, or just better for good gas mileage. I also think there are a ton of odd looking cars out there with normal engines, like scions for example. To get back to the point... I think the only thing that makes those cars weird is the fact that not everyone drives them. If 90% of people drove a hybrid, the people with generic cars would then look strange.
[/quote]

[font=palatino linotype]I think that the second-generation Prius isn't bad, at least compared to the first. Although I think it is unfortunately true that Toyota tends to make their cars look like whitegoods on wheels, with a few notable exceptions.

I still think that if you looked at the demographics you would be likely to find that most people are buying a Prius purely (or largely) to save money and help the environment - that is to say, I can't see anyone saying "Wow, this car looks great and has awesome features and is fun to drive, so I'll buy it - the hybrid stuff is a bonus!"

Maybe those people exist, but I can't imagine that they make up a big chunk of the buyers.

And so long as that's the case, I think that hybrids will tend to sit on the margins a little. It usually seems to be true that a company needs a real break-out product with strong general appeal in order to really get a large sales volume happening.

But I'm sure that will happen. More and more companies are making hybrids now. Just takes time.

Also, on the original point about the solar panels... I don't know what the general rule is, but in Australia, most panels are pretty unobtrusive - they don't cover an entire roof or anything. I'm not sure that they are designed to always power an entire house, but probably they take up [i]most[/i] of the house's power needs.[/font]

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[quote name='James' timestamp='1324421920' post='710670'][font="palatino linotype"]Also, on the original point about the solar panels... I don't know what the general rule is, but in Australia, most panels are pretty unobtrusive - they don't cover an entire roof or anything. I'm not sure that they are designed to always power an entire house, but probably they take up [i]most[/i] of the house's power needs.[/font]
[/quote]
[color="#0000ff"]Solar panels have a very low efficiency and combined with only a couple on a roof, unless your houses require significantly less power than ours, you'd be lucky to get a small fraction of the power required to run the house. That was my original point - as the technology gets better and greater amounts of energy can be generated using the sun, the up-front cost of solar panels will be a lot more justifiable to most. However, while it still takes huge areas of linked solar panels to produce truly usable energy, it's just out of the question for all but either a) the rich or b) people who use very little power to begin with.[/color]

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[quote name='Petie' timestamp='1324428980' post='710673'][color="#0000ff"]it's just out of the question for all but either a) the rich or b) people who use very little power to begin with.[/color]
[/quote]

This is true, which is a big problem. Rich people don't need to worry about high electric bills, and poor people can't by the panels. I think big companies may be able to do the improvements though, since they can easily cover the upfront costs. If every fast food company in the world got a couple solar panels, think of how much energy could be saved!

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Update from the future!

 

So it seems like solar energy was a bust. Solar cars never became a thing, and I don't recal any major solar panel breakthroughs. I checked the Sunspot  Initiative, and other than a 50  million dollar deal nothing interesting comes up. Seems like they just can't figure out a way to sell them to the public (and I can understand why)

 

The thing is, with both USA and China looking to reduce carbon emmisons in10-15 years we will probably be looking for replacement energy sources. What are we gonna use? Will solar energy get another chance?

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Solar technology is getting cheaper and cheaper. Although it seems like high-minded futurism now, there will come a point where generating solar power is cheaper per watt to produce than through conventional means. I'm very much looking forward to having my home powered through cleaner means, although I'm not looking to buy in even the remote future.

 

Even if the US an China are being slow to adopt new technology for various reasons, other nations are definitely looking to solar as the answer. India is building some HUGE solar plants. Since their power grid is a complete disaster this could only be a good thing.

 

- Shy

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I am glad to see the tech being used somewhere, but I still feel that in order for Solar power to really be considered a thing, private owners would need to be buying. Large projects like that are a step in the right direction though.

 

Personally I would like to see Solar elevators like in Gundam 00, (but without the wars following their construction if possible)

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On a sunny day I probably would wanna ride under the shade of trees. Putting a bike path by the trees makes sense, and its a nice view during the ride. Of course I would rather have my expensive solar panels absorbing all the sunlight those trees are eating up... but hey, to each their own.

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