Saturday, April 14, 2007

Solar Row

Solar engery is extremely interesting as it is a technology that we will want to incorporate into our living spaces and personal portfolio of investments. Increased awareness of solar energy is also intriguing from a design perspective. The goal of sustainable development is for people to develop living spaces that take maximum advantage of the sun that hits their property.

As people put their minds on developing houses with a low carbon footprint, they will find themselves doing all sorts of interesting calculations to keep sun for the garden, heating the house and generating electricity.

I just found a cool site: Solar Row is project by Wonderland Hill Development of Boulder, Colorado. This project has 13 houses designed for sustainable living. This is the type of project that I think will really make a difference in the world. A Baker's Dozen is about the maximum size that a rational human would want for a development. It is enough to give the developers the economy of scale that they need without creating a no-mans-land of undiffentiated houses that you get with bigger developments.

As people incorporate the ideals of sustainable living into design, I think we will see a massive improvement in the quality of our living spaces.

Unfortunately, the project is in Boulder (one of the most expensive communities in the Mountain West); So, I think I will buy a lottery ticket. If I win the lottery, I will buy a unit on solar row.


Charles D said...

You know, Y, we could bring down the cost of solar energy if the government made a serious investment in the technology. (Just a thought)

y-intercept said...

There is a great deal of promise in ethanol. Maybe we could have huge tariffs to keep Brazilian sugar cane based ethanol out, and a billion dollar subsidy program. Subsidizing corn based ethanol sounds like a pragmatic solution.


Charles D said...

Ethanol is a dead end. Already the price increase for corn is threatening the food supplies in Mexico (where the US has destroyed the local corn producers and replaced them with US exports in the name of "free trade"). It also costs more in energy to produce ethanol fuel than the fuel saves us in petroleum.

This is an example of political payoffs trumping practical politics. Instead of looking at conservation, solar energy, and wind power, the politicians are sucking up to the huge agribusiness lobby with ethanol and the oil lobby with hydrogen cars. The government of the people, by the people and for the people has ceased to exist.

y-intercept said...

Isn't it amazing how the government always seems to end up subsidizing dead end technologies while they over regulate and tax into submission the positive technologies?

I am convinced that this is the nature of government. When we try to impose peace in Iraq, we get more violence, when we try to impose clean fuels we create imbalances which create a dirtier world.

The way to avoid the inherent irrationality of big goverment and big business is small efforts like this Solar Row project. A dynamic market with a large number of small players chipping away at a problem usually does a better job of solving the problem.

Charles D said...

It's not a problem of the "nature of government", it's a problem of who controls government. In the US, the government is controlled by the large corporations, especially "defense" contractors and the energy business, so government is directed toward their benefit.

While there's nothing wrong with small efforts, a "dynamic market with a large number of small players" is not really feasible in the US, given our current regulation-free environment. If small players get larger due to technological breakthroughs, they will either become big players and squeeze out their competition or be swallowed up by large corporations who will stifle their creativity.

We can preserve that dynamic marketplace, but only with government regulation and investment.

y-intercept said...

'It's not a problem of the "nature of government", it's a problem of who controls government.'

Are you sure you aren't a neocon? The neocons say that the problems about big government in the 70s was a result of the people in power and not big government itself. The neocons are in power. Government got bigger. Personally, I don't feel that the government got any better.

We are in a cycle: We see that big government in the hands of the clowns is bad; so we give the keys to the jokers. We see that big government in the hands of jokers is bad. So, we are supposed to give the keys back to the clowns.

Charles D said...

The size of government is less important than whether it serves the people and does so effectively.

You sum up our cycle quite well. The reason we only get to choose between the jokers and clowns is that only jokers and clowns can raise the kind of money and get the media attention necessary to win. Both parties are beholden to corporate interests and the military-industrial complex. When we get a candidate who threatens to change that setup, the media go into overdrive to tell us how weird and out-of-touch he is and how he can't win.