That story below is good news reminder for Michigan because solar thermal (hot water, hot air) has a much quicker payback (6-9 years) than solar electric (10-20) even in cold climates.
Along the lines (no pun intended) of this story, is the strengthening of the national grid to send solar and wind powered electricity from the south and west to the north and east. As long distance transmission is imrpoved and line losses are reduced, regional grids will connect nationwide. Tornado wind alley (Dakotas to Texas) and Solar Center (AZ, NM, NV, UT, CO, TX) can provide eventual surplus generation to the northeast in the cloudy winter.
Here's a $5 billion story with a 3 year payback (equivalent to money in the bank at 33% interest rate) of how TX is stengthening it's own regional grid just to satisfy it's in-state demand for electricity with wind power...
....And speaking of bi-directional grids and meters spinning backwards, Toyota changed it's plans again. It's not going to build the plug-in (or regular) Prius in Fremont/Oakland/San Francisco with it's joint venture partner GM, it's going to build it in Blue Ridge Mississippi at a new plant it's building. (let's hope the quality will be higher than Nissans and BMWs coming out of the southern US plants)
But the Chevy Volt plug-in is still on schedule to be built in Hamtramck/Detroit, welcome news to everybody in Michigan except for radical, fundamentalist fringe groups who's all-or-nothing approach to industry and transit prohibits even electric vehicles and instead mandates the use of rickshaws pulled by organic, free range chickens.
On Wed, Jul 23, 2008 at 4:22 AM, <MICHDAVE@aol.com
Earth Policy Institute
Plan B Update
For Immediate Release
July 22, 2008
SOLAR THERMAL POWER COMING TO A BOIL
Jonathan G. Dorn
After emerging in 2006 from 15 years of hibernation, the solar thermal power industry experienced a surge in 2007, with 100 megawatts of new capacity coming online worldwide. During the 1990s, cheap fossil fuels, combined with a loss of state and federal incentives, put a damper on solar thermal power development. However, recent increases in energy prices, escalating concerns about global climate change, and fresh economic incentives are renewing interest in this technology.
Considering that the energy in sunlight reaching the earth in just 70 minutes is equivalent to annual global energy consumption, the potential for solar power is virtually unlimited. With concentrating solar thermal power (CSP) capacity expected to double every 16 months over the next five years, worldwide installed CSP capacity will reach 6,400 megawatts in 2012--14 times the current capacity. (See data at http://www.earth-policy.org/Updates/2008/Update73_data.htm#table1