Alternative Energy Efficiency (How Hard Can It Be?)

In the previous class, we spent a lot of time discussing energy sources and their viability and it seemed that a lot of feelings were brought up discussing how realistic certain uses are and how possible it is for people to do something. I wanted to write my opinions on things, such as solar power, having experienced all sides of the equation. After listening to a wide array of opinions, the consensus seems to be that we will be unable to move away from fossil fuels and the like for another 100 years or so. Honestly, I don’t think that argument is completely valid. Solar and wind power is very real, and nowadays, more easily accessible. The biggest argument against solar power that I heard was the startup cost associated. What often slides under the table is the amount of money the government has been providing for people to become part of these causes. Even if we just take electric cars, states such as Georgia are basically allowing people to own a Nissan Leaf for free after government subsidies and government discounts. Without gasoline costs, the only thing really left are insurance costs and the cost to charge the car. Solar panels are also discounted through the government. Although the original start up cost may be in the tens of thousands, after all is said and done, this process is doable for most people.

Another thought that came up was with the talk about fracking. This was a very touchy subject for people to talk about and seemed to raise a lot of tempers. One thought that was used to justify fracking was regulation. However, I know as well as anybody else, companies will always do their bests to cut costs. That is human nature. There is very few, if any, people in this world that would willingly choose to go a more expensive route, especially when a large company is involved. Companies are notorious for using any means necessary to get rid of their chemical and toxic waste, whether or not it is safe for the environment. All that matters are their profit margins. While i am under the impression that fracking might not be the most dangerous thing to the environment, and definitely not as much as fossil fuels, I think that solar and wind power are much safer alternatives that are very approachable for the vast majority of people.

To move on to my personal experiences, my house is approximately 75% powered by solar energy. Solar panels were always an item that interested me, especially since the battery is charged by something we have a seemingly endless supply of. While the cost was quite expensive, I would say that my family has made back about 50% of the cost in just 4 years with how much energy we use on a monthly basis. There may be difficulty transitioning to these new methods of energy consumption, but I think it is unfair to say it will take 100 more years to phase them out. Just in the last couple years, electric cars have had a sudden jump in popularity with the release of the Tesla car brand. Additionally, Tesla has released their blueprints and files to build their cars and made them open to the public. This will only allow more companies to create vehicles like the Tesla Model S. Will it take some time? Of course it will, but I don’t think it is fair to say it will take 100 years. I think it is easily possible to see something like this in my lifetime.

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http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1091288_had-to-happen-hacking-into-a-tesla-model-s-electric-car

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5 Comments

  1. Thanks for being brave and posting first, Naman! I tend to agree that the movement away from fossil fuels is in a large part a question of will (and perhaps persistence) — at least for those with the resources. I thought it striking that everyone seemed to agree that getting off fossil fuels (which includes methane, the product of fracking) is a good idea. If we agree on that, the rest is logistics.

    The thing that would make take this blog post to the next level is references (about government programs to further clean energy, about the effects of regulation on extraction industries, etc.). It often seems that disagreements of this kind are disagreements about information. Of course, we don’t all trust the same source, but providing references takes the conversation deeper, allowing us to identify more clearly what’s at stake.

    A great source is your own first hand experience, so it’s helpful to know your family has been able to make it work with solar. I’m not there yet, but maybe if I can learn how its done, I can take the first steps to get there too.

  2. Naman, I like your take on alternative energies. Its good to see someone with personal insight on the issue come forward with their point of view. I feel like many opinions on the availability of alternative energy are misconstrued. Just because solar panels are considered technologically advanced, doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t affordable.

    Personally, the reason I defended the practice of fracking is because natural gas greatly reduces the use of coal for home heating and other things. I believe that coal is an even dirtier resource than natural gases are. Then, people will argue that we can use wood instead of coal. But naturally that brings about the argument about deforestation, and incites a never ending battle for what needs to be given up to be replaced by what.

    Back on the alternative energy; I also commented on the implementation of wind farms. Citizens all over the United States are against wind farms solely based upon the fact that they are an eyesore. This confuses me, as the trend seems to be to make as much money as possible in your lifetime in order to come off as a success to your peers, even though money does not always convey happiness or success… Wouldn’t it be logical to put up with a windfarm in your city if it could save you money on energy bills for your house or business?

  3. I agree that newer forms of energy are becoming more and more popular. It definitely will not take 100 years. I find that an interesting/bold move on Tesla’s part to release the blueprints and such. I didn’t know that the return on solar energy was that quick, given you have already gained back roughly 50% in 4 years. I wonder what the nation would be like if everyone was forced to switch to these newer forms of energy.

  4. I think advances in lithium ion batteries will make electric cars the norm in the future (and hopefully cheaper).
    In the case of the telsa, the battery is stored underneath the carriage of the car protected by titanium shield.
    Just look at this gif. It’s a metal motor that it’s running over.

    The battery life is around 300 miles and expensive to produce.

  5. I agree with you. I do not understand why people think it so easy to stray away from fossil fuel because it is not. Most technology depends on fossil fuel as a source of energy.I am not saying that using fossil fuels is the best way, but if we would stop using them it would cost the government millions of dollars. Not to mention that would force Americans to live without some of the luxuries that use.

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