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Why do we use solar energy on Mars but can't get leadership to support it on Earth?

The polar lander just landed and one of the first items on it's agenda was to deploy it's solar panels. The lander probably consumes more energy than your pc. Now there are 3 spacecraft on the ground and 3 orbiting mars that use solar. The amount of solar energy received that far away is less than received at earth. Even the two rovers that have been on the surface for about 4 years now continue to work even though they have endured martian dust. Isn't the real reason solar isn't used more on earth because it would take revenues away from big oil and power corporations? Considering a significant number of people live in the sunbelt, why don't we have solar on the roofs of every home? Couldn't we use both photovoltaecs and solar water heating? Will Americans be leaders in this technology or do we have wait till Japan or China starts to manufactures them? I realize solar has limitations but it will be there forever.

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  • 1 decade ago
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    First, I support solar energy resources. And it isn't just photovoltaic, but wind and hydro, also. The problem is the return of the investment within the time frame of owning the property. See pv panels work best as decentralized power source. So they have to be used on a building, not a massive array. They generate a low voltage that isn't very efficient for transmission over long lines. But because people don't hold on to their individual properties for them recoup to the investment, they choice makes little sense. Until traditional electricity becomes so expense, that the investment will pay for itself within the time frame of ownership or they become an added value on resell, let's admit it most people consider them ugly, people aren't going to make the change. Also PV panels deliver a low voltage, so many of the household appliances would need to be changed or other modifications to the electrical systems to accommodate the low voltage.

    The other thing is we could use is passive and active solar heating. Solar water heating if used to heat the home is an example of active solar heating, while trombe walls, thermal mass are methods of passive solar heating. The problem in this area is the cookie cutter method of construction in residential construction. Most homes change little from region to region. A $400K will have similar plans from region to region, as a $150K will have similar plans. Construction methods will change determined by the most efficient methods for the region. For example, in Florida a $200K home will likely be build on slab, CMU walls, stucco exterior, while a homes in the Midwest will likely be build on a crawlspace, stick framed, brick and siding exterior. These are regional response to the construction, but the plans will be similar. But a solar home needs to be specifically designed for the region, even the site conditions. Point is with most solar homes you need a specific design. That is another increase in the investment. And trust me, builders don't like to shell extra's for upfront design.

    Image this a builder is putting in a subdivision, is he going to have plans for the south side of the streets, plans for the north side of the streets, mixed used communities, etc? Or is he going to maximize the land use, have a few plans for the size of lots, and maximize profits?

    As for remodel, similar issues. The house was not likely designed to maximize solar power to begin with, and the owners aren't likely to make the initial investment, if they can't recoup the cost in energy savings or resell. These are why many people remodel, for short term enjoyment, and resell.

    Don't get me wrong, there is a lot of potential within the coming years for these technologies, but it won't make a major change, until there is watershed moment, in the form of the technology drastically becoming more affordable, traditional energy becoming so expensive it makes financial sense, or a collective mindset to make the change.

    Of course, the main reason they landing craft use solar panels, there are not robotic fueling stations on Mars or the moon. HaHa.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Not sure how useful Solar Power would be here on Earth. On a Grand Scale like huge banks of Solar Cells producing power in the Desert,perhaps you actually get back your investment,and eventually turn a profit. At the home level,you might actually recoup the initial investment in about 20 years,of course the additional $30,000 dollars on your initial Mortgage might put the home out of your reach in the first place,so what's the point really? Seriously for affordability and actual benefit you get far more bang for your buck promoting Nuclear Power. But who really cares about reality when we're trying to "Save The Earth",Right?

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  • 1 decade ago

    In Germany, there is a solar panel on every home. I would be very curious to see the statistics on this huge venture. The effects can be proven as to how much this energy this actually saves.

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  • 1 decade ago

    It takes more energy to produce the solar cells they they ever produce, on Mars that is alright, here on earth, that is not a good exchange. That is why no one embraces it, we need to look to geo-thermal or nuclear. Even wind power is a poor return on the investment.

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  • 1 decade ago

    On the average, the sun is up 12 hours per day. What would you do for electricity at night?

    Solar panels are inefficient and costly. Who is going to pay for them?

    Sometimes it rains, sometimes it is cloudy. If a tornado or hail storm hits, there goes the electricity.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Because there are no martians on mars blocking the passge of every energy saving bill. No martians claiming that elk are a greater cause of pollution than our factories.

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  • 3 years ago

    1

    Source(s): Build Solar Power Easily : http://Solar.eudko.com/?fBA
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  • 1 decade ago

    Oil company lobbyists!

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