Affluent ancient Greeks designed their homes orientated to the sun to use winter sunlight for heating. Large south-facing windows were used to collect solar heat, which was stored in massive walls and floors for gradual release throughout the night. The overhangs would heat the homes in the winter and shade out the sun in summer.
“Sun power is a pure gain to humanity, It subtracts nothing, the world will not be in the last impoverished tomorrow by the fullest use of visible solar heat to-day” -C.H. Pope 1903
Solar energy has been suppressed for too long. The question is, who will own the sun? Some might say that “power corrupts” was written about man’s control over other men but it also applies to his control over energy resources. Solar energy put to full use would help to give the world energy independence, minimizing dangerous pollution levels and our dependence on fossil fuels.
Who would think, in this age of environmental concern that some people can still feel that solar energy does not work. Some people feel solar will be practical when all the oil runs out. This is not true!. Solar is cost effective right now, especially when you consider the cost to our health from air pollution, solar is just as competitive as any other energy source.
There are over one hundred thousand solar powered homes in the world. These pioneering home owners can now cut their ties to the utility grid and become their own power company. Solar is a stand alone micro-utility -nobody owns the sun!. Its energy falls in all our back yards. Solar energy is decentralized, there are few economies of scale in the collecting of solar energy. Therefore, many small collectors are just as efficient as one large one.
Solar photovoltaic cells, which are a wafer-thin chip of plastic or glass that converts sunlight directly into electricity, were first used in 1958 on the Vangard satellite and have been solar powering our telecommunication industry ever since. Television programming is constantly being beamed around the world using solar powered satellites, creating a global village powered by the sun.
All most people know about solar photovoltaic cells is that they are these little chips on top of their calculator. Those unbelievable little chips keep on powering your calculator year after year. What a miracle of technology! With solar powered calculators there is no need to buy batteries. Solar powered calculators should certainly prove beyond as had ow of a doubt that solar energy works.
To understand the economics of solar you must first understand life cycle costing, which says solar becomes practically free after it pays for it self with money saved – that is, money you would have paid your local utility or oil or gas company. Life cycle costing means that within the life of the system, solar equipment lasts for twenty years or more. Solar is certainly economical. Solar offers long-term savings – buildings have a higher resale value with solar, as conventional fuels become scarcer and more expensive. Solar save money and conserves energy. Solar is ecological, safe and clean.
With ecological destruction of the environment such as Three Mile Island, Chernobel and the Exxon Valdez oil spill catastrophe in Alaska fresh on the public’s mind, today’s outcry for solar and other non-polluting forms of renewable energy is quite understandable. The environmental movement is a reaction to the current life-threatening situation. The harmful effects of air pollution cause acid rain and cancer. The burning of fuel contributes to the overall warming of the Earth know as the “Greenhouse Effect.”
Solar (hot water) thermal flat plate technology is a well-proven art that is available throughout the world for heating the water for showers/baths, dishwashing and other 120-180 F home/ commercial/ industrial application. Everyone should understand that solar energy works and it works well in all climates. Did you know that there are now more than 200,000 residential and 15,000 commercial passive solar buildings in the U.S.
Solar homes are cheerful, comfortable, and beautiful places to live. The architectural landscape is going to change. A new industry needs support based not only on economy but on sanity; doing the right thing for our future.