With oil prices climbing sky high, the sun maybe rising as an energy alternative. Right now just 7% of energy used in this country comes from renewable sources like solar power, 40% comes from petroleum. But there’s more and more interest in turning to the sun even though there may be some clouds on the horizon. Here’s Bill Whitaker:
It’s freezing in this Contessa Foods Plant in Los Angeles where workers process, package, and ship tons of frozen vegetables, fish, and meat, each day.
“It’s almost like putting 200,000 refrigerators all in one place.”
Powered largely by the sun, this array of paper thin solar panels
rolled across the roof the size of 2 football fields has helped cut Contessa’s energy use in half.
This is significant for an operation that requires so much energy. It can be done and we did it.
Solar Panels Can Save You Hundreds of Dollar a Month
This is my electric meter – Diana Ungeleider put solar panels on her roof last year. They not only got her meter spinning… It’s actually spinning backwards, meaning that the electricity being generated by my DIY solar panels is feeding back into the grid.
But her head spins every time she gets an electric bill. So last year you paid $220 for a 2-month period and this year 14?
“…right…I’ve saved like, I think, over a thousand dollars in one year.”
Solar Panels in California
Long known for fun in the sun, California now more than all the other states combined, is putting the sun to work.
At this Naple winery, the sun ripens the grapes and provides all of the electricity. “This is going to become a lunch pad.”
Governor Schwarzenegger recently announced the most ambitious plan. Southern California Edison, the region’s largest utility installing solar cells on 65 million square feet of commercial rooftops over the next 5 years. When this is complete, it will produce enough power for a hundred and sixty two thousand homes.
But much of this sun worship is pie in the sky say critics like U.C. Berkeley’s Severin Borenstein. Solar energy is definitely not the magic bullet for high energy cost.
Instead of solar panels, he says consumers would be better off using more home installation and energy efficient appliances.
Right now, solar photo voltaic powers are still very expensive (Unlike DIY Solar Panels) compared not just to fossil fuels but compared to the other renewable sources that are out there. That’s the biggest downside Diana Ungeleider says, her solar panels array costs $15,000 but… My system will probably pay for itself after about 10 years and after that it’s just free energy.
Solar and other green technologies added 15% to the 40 million-dollar cost of the new Contessa food plant.
I, and Phil are smart businessmen would uh be justified doing this because it’s going to help them in the long run and it’s also going to help the planet.
Rising demand for solar technology should bring prices down eventually. But for now, it helps to have green in your heart and in your pocket.