Casting a shadow on solar

Now here’s an interesting article written by Frank Eltman: Solar project can’t save the forest for the trees. Let’s take a look at the “economics” of the article since I claim to write my blog about economic issues (well, most of the time).

• Cut greenhouse gases
• Replace defunct nuclear power plant
• Fight global warming
Demolish 350 acres of woodlands

• Cut 15,000 trees
• Cut 134 acres of trees
• Commitment of responsible use of the land
Provide 72 megawatts of solar power for 13,000+ homes

A definition of the word “economics” is provided by
Economics. Basically economics is the management of “scarce” resources. So although I usually write about banks and the “Fed*”, I guess it’s OK to write about trees. (*Federal Reserve Bank)

I love trees, I love to hear the rustle of the leaves through the trees when the wind blows. I love to sit under a big ‘ole tree, close my eyes and just feel the breeze rustling the leaves of the trees. And, how can one forget Autumn! Well… I mean running (as a kid) through the dried, fallen leaves making that great rustling sound… not the raking of them!

We need power to drive our world economies. We need the sun to light up our lives, grow our crops and feed our people. We need trees to anchor the earth beneath our feet, filter the sun and shade our lives. So it’s “forests” vs. “farms.” It’s interesting that solar installations are referred to as “farms.” “Wind” farms are referred to in the same way. Wind farms are quite a sight to see. I remember seeing one in California, like trees in a forest, the windmills stand lined up to catch prevailing winds, drive turbines and generate much needed electricity. The thing about solar farms is that, of course, they use solar panels to catch the rays of the sun. Unlike wind turbines, they require probably much more land acreage to install a cost-effective energy generating system. Ah, there’s an economic money term “cost-effective.”

In our yin and yang struggle to safeguard the environment we also seem to manage to threaten it. There is mention in the above news article of using the multiplicity of roof-tops and shopping mall parking lots for installing solar panels. I just thought about the difference between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse, two inventor geniuses who harnessed electricity and devised two different approaches to the delivery of electrical energy to the masses at the beginning of the 20th Century. Of course Westinghouse won out because he promoted “alternating” current (AC) vs. Edison who championed “direct” current (DC), the two different delivery methods for electrical power at the time.

So here we are at the beginning of the 21st Century! I guess we need an Edison, Westinghouse and Nikola Tesla or two to help us sort out the current dilemma we have. How do we harness solar power and wind power for economic good as well as environmental good without destroying one or the other in the process???

Anybody got any good ideas?

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