Is it a good time for the solar conversation?

The Sun, according to Nasa’s Dr Sten Odenwold, has a life cycle of around 11 billion years.
Four and a half of those have been used, so there are still somewhere between four (worst scenario) and six and a half (best scenario) billion years before the ‘lights go out,’ so to speak.
“So what?” you ask. “That means we have an energy source that can last, well, virtually forever!” I respond, with my best, smartest, grin.“Even in our wildest dreams, solar energy will last longer than fossil fuels such as oil, gas, and coal, while nuclear power is not as renewable.”
“Is that a ‘good’ thing to be saying just now, when oil prices are down? Don’t we need oil to be the first-choice fuel?”
“Many countries have just not developed sufficiently to go without oil in the foreseeable future.
Oil prices are already creeping up, and the smart money is on a $60 price in the new year.”
“Yeah, well, I guess it’s there every day, isn’t it? Specially here in the Middle East.”
“Yep!” I agree, “And the US Energy people are saying the Sun provides 20,000 times more energy than we need.
The other thing too is that its sustainable, we’re not taking anything, just using it.”
“It’s very costly though?” you say, questioning.
“Yeah,” I respond, “It can be prohibitive, but some governments, and energy companies actually subsidise home solar energy, or offer payment plans.”
“Really?”
“Truly,” I reassure you, “And in some countries, if you produce more than you use, they pay you for the difference.
It all gets measured with a special meter.”
“Hmmmmmm. I guess it’s environmentally friendly, and not noisy?” You muse.
I add, “The best thing is that I found out a process called integrated photovoltaics, sees solar panels integrated into building materials, and transparent solar power windows have already been invented.”
“Okay, that all sounds good, but with all the sand blowing around, and the UV, wouldn’t maintenance be a problem?” you ask.
“Well maintenance has always been an issue, but Simon a solar energy guy I know, told me the other day that the robotics associated with solar panels are developing so quickly, that practical solutions are becoming really cost effective.
He uses words like robotics, nanotechnology, and so on like they are going out of fashion, but he’s gone ways towards convincing me,” I offer earnestly.
“And what about those days when there is no sun.
Or at night, maybe no TV? OMG!”
“You’re grasping at straws now.” I think, but answer, “Well in Europe it could be an issue, but here? Jeez, we can’t buy rainfall, or even cloudy days, so I think we’ll be okay.
For night-time, the units store energy, enough to power consumption throughout the night.”
The European Union Climate Action Group did express concerns last year over the amount of actual space solar energy requires for production, with a global mean density, “much higher than, but not comparable with, fossil fuels,” they said, but the negatives are being negated by a vigorous high-tech industry.
As Simon said though, “I think most householders/consumers in the region first need to look at things like efficient, well-fitted doors, windows that retain cool interiors, and the like.
Many such things simply require better finishing in the construction phase of a villa.” His last comment fits so well with the CEO of the Oman Society of Contractors, Shahswar al Balushi, as he recently (April 17), proposed new construction standards, with a higher standard of quality workmanship, as part of their contractor classifications.
Personally, I think this is the perfect time to talk quality in construction, different construction materials, environmental solutions, and yes definitely, solar energy.
What about you?

Ray Petersen
petersen_ray@hotmail.com