Friday, 8 February 2013
Will Oremus: Fox News Experts Explain That America Isn't Sunny Like Germany

Fox News Claims Solar Won't Work in America Because It's Not Sunny Like Germany

It's always sunny in Germany
Just another sun-soaked afternoon in Pillnitz, eastern Germany.

Photo by Matthias Hiekel/AFP/Getty Images

Thanks to Fox News and its expert commentators, millions of Americans now understand the real, hidden reason why Germany's solar-energy industry is so much further along than ours. Turns out it has nothing to do with the fact that Germany's government has long supported the industry far more generously, with policies like feed-in tariffs that stimulate investment in green technologies. No, the real reason is much simpler, explained a trio of journalists on Fox & Friends: It's always sunny in Germany!

"The industry's future looks dim," intoned host Gretchen Carlson at the beginning of the segment, which was preserved for posterity by the liberal blog Media Matters for America. She and her co-host went on to ridicule Obama's "failed" solar subsidies, adding, "The United States simply hasn't figured out how to do solar cheaply and effectively. You look at the country of Germany, it's working out great for them." Near the end of the segment, it occurred to Carlson to ask her expert guest, Fox Business reporter Shibani Joshi, why it might be that Germany's solar-power sector is doing so much better. "What was Germany doing correct? Are they just a smaller country, and that made it more feasible?" Carlson asked.

Joshi's jaw-dropping response: "They're a smaller country, and they've got lots of sun. Right? They've got a lot more sun than we do." In case that wasn't clear enough for some viewers, Joshi went on: "The problem is it's a cloudy day and it's raining, you're not gonna have it." Sure, California might get sun now and then, Joshi conceded, "but here on the East Coast, it's just not going to work."

Gosh, why hasn't anyone thought of that before? Wouldn't you think that some scientist, somewhere, would have noticed that the East Coast is far less sunny than Central Europe and therefore incapable of producing solar power on the same scale?

You would—if it were true. As Media Matters' Max Greenberg notes, it isn't. Not even remotely. According to maps put out by the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory, virtually the entirety of the continental United States gets more sun than even the sunniest part of Germany. In fact, NREL senior scientist Sarah Kurtz said via email, "Germany's solar resource is akin to Alaska's," the U.S. state with by far the lowest annual average of direct solar energy.

Solar resources: United States, Germany, Spain
A map of the relative direct solar-energy availability in the United States, Spain, and Germany. Red = highest, purple = lowest.

Illustration courtesy of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory

I look forward to Fox News' correction. Meanwhile, enjoy toggling between the video above and the map below and shaking your head.
Posted on 02/08/2013 10:39 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
8 Feb 2013
Send an emailreactionry
Holiday With The Hun
"I don't wanna' holiday in the sun
I wanna' go to new Belsen
I wanna' see some history
'Cause now I got a reasonable economy"**
Well, maybe the economy is not so reasonable right now, but I'm no longer waiting for the "communist call." And never mind the Sandra Bullocks (who adopt children from the Third World, thereby increasing the tykes' carbon footprints) or the Fox blunders; it's even more "economically unserious*" for Germany than for the US to spend money on solar panels (mainly purchased from the PRC?) while China belches forth a new coal-fired power plant per week.  As Lenin should have said, "Socialism plus renewable energy electrification equals Soviet era levels of efficiency."
Here's Lookin' At You, Yid,
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Tags: The Borg Collective, V.I. Lenin, V = I x R, resistance is feudal, those who love the law or sausages should not know much about they are made, Lenin, the wurst, the better, you can't meditate on resistance to current revolutions which break omelettes without Ohm mani Padme 60 HZ Hum, Star Trek, Klingon power plant blows up, Star Wars, Princess Padmé hums more than just the words to Anakin, Death Star, the ultimate source of power in the universe, blows up, Luke Skywalker kisses Princess Leia, but sometimes a kith is just a kin, Philadelphia vs. Cairo, I'd rather not be in the City of Muslim Brotherhoodly love, W.C. "Electrical" Fields 

9 Feb 2013
Christina McIntosh

 I see that reactionry is pouring scorn upon the very idea of solar panels.

Because they are made in China, or something?  Well, the simple answer to that is to invest in making them ourselves.  Australia and Israel both have done a considerable amount of work on how to make them cheaper and make them better.

Even while we in Australia - foolishly - sell coal to China to be turned into carbon dioxide and into air pollution of other kinds, solar panels (as solar hot water systems have already done) are  popping up all over Australian suburbia, becoming so common that nobody remarks upon them anymore.

Our church has a set of them, and they are humming away nicely, sucking down energy and reducing our power bill.

All across rural and remote Australia, a set of sturdy solar panels on the roof of the shed, with a bank of batteries, and a generator (rarely used) for backup, makes much more sense than trying to attach households to the centralised grid.  

My own father, a farmer,  has what he is pleased to call his 'power shed': a large shed with a bank of solar panels on the roof. The shed functions as a workshop, a place to dry clothes during wet weather, and a garage; the power from the PV cells lights the house and runs the computers and TV and washing-machine. (Moreover, water that runs off the roof runs into a couple of large rainwater tanks, so it is in all ways a multi-purpose building).

A highly-efficient slow-combustion stove fuelled entirely by timber grown on the farm (which grows trees very well, better than it grows anything else) does the cooking and water-heating.  

But for lighting, communication, and running the washing machine, and powering the electric drill, the solar panels have made a massive difference to quality of life on the farm; which was never connected to the grid, because it is in such a location as to make connecting it to the grid impossibly expensive.

For country households, across a vast swathe of Australia, this sort of arrangement makes sense.    

For many a small Pacific Island community, likewise, solar and/ or wind power arrangements make sense...and cut down dramatically on the need to import diesel for generators.

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