Monday – Solar Misconceptions

It’s neat to read an article written by my professor, Lonnie Gamble. He wrote one that was published in the Iowa Source in 2005 called Ten Misconceptions about Solar Energy. I have actually spent time thinking about some of these myths, so I was very happy to see these questions addressed.

There were a few that seemed funny to me, like Solar Living means sacrificing conveniences and wind turbines kill birds. I have learned enough about these energy sources that I know both of these are false. It’s funny to me that birds are even brought up when it comes to a renewable source of energy-because nonrenewable sources of energy kill millions of birds through habitat destruction every year!

The one that I was really interested in was “It takes more energy to produce solar panels than they can every produce.” When it’s worded like that, I can see that they will indeed produce more energy over their lifespan then they used when they got manufactured. I always wondered if the materials used in the solar cells were friendly to the environment and if it would be destructive to mass produce solar panels. Lonnie made me realize that although it may require some toxic chemicals and nonrenewable sources to make solar panels, It is hands down WAY better then using coal, oil, or nuclear power sources! Not only can solar and wind energy power every home in the world, it can be affordable! A one time investment with small upkeep costs is a much better option then relying on dying sources of energy that are harmful to produce and expensive to distribute.

Another myth that Lonnie busted has to do with batteries. I was actually talking to a man in town yesterday who said that batteries are an extinct technology that are long overdue for a new idea. This man has no idea what else could be used in place of batteries. He has never spent the time to research it, learn where batteries come from, or even attempt to make something that would replace batteries. He had the nerve to tell me that he’s sure batteries will be replaced soon, so I shouldn’t bother investing in them for my solar system. So what does he propose, I should just wait for a new technology to explode the market and buy a crazy prototype? I don’t think so! Batteries have been around for over a century. The industry recycles more then 90% of spent battery lead, and even when they manufacture brand new batteries it’s done with over half the lead coming from recycled sources. The government even helps. Any place that sells batteries has to take old batteries and send them in to get recycled. It even comes with a price cut. Batteries may not be a new technology, but it is doing a pretty great job at reusing nonrenewable ingredients.

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