Governor Bredesen has announced a 5 Megawatt solar farm to be operated in conjunction with TVA and UT Knoxville, and will be funded by $30 million of stimulus money.
The good part? It's a strong move into solar power production.
The bad part? It's a continuation of the wrong kind of thinking where energy is concerned...Centralized production and distribution over a grid controlled by energy conglomerates.
Half of the electricity produced in big facilities is lost before it gets to its end use point. What other countries have gone to is end point generation. Call it roof top solar. An efficient house can run quite well on 4 kilowatts of electricity. That takes a 240 square foot panel array (10 feet by 24 feet) which easily fits on most roofs. The excess is fed into the power grid and the power grid feeds the house in the traditional way when the sun isn't shining. A big solar farm means more power lines, more transformers, and more wasted electricity.
So the purpose of the stimulus money is to generate dollar flow in our economy. Ask yourself is that purpose is best served by giving the money to a big corporation to build a generating plant so they can sell you electricity? Why wouldn't using the money to subsidize residential solar installations be the best of both worlds? Jobs would be created for installers and the suppliers of residential solar. The need for more giant powerlines would be averted. And frankly, a lot more electricity will be delivered to the end user with a decentralized generating array.
We are seeing the bubbling to the surface of the struggle of big centralized power generating companies against residential wind and solar electricity generation. Remember in all this that efficiency, conservation, and protecting the environment are the enemy from the viewpoint of power companies.
I'm with the enemy!