Solar power used at the individual's level (not big arrays)

I'm a big believer in solar energy; we are almost done with our solar installation at home, and the system looks and performs beautifully.  (more on that in a separate blog post)

What I'm not a big believer in is those huge alternate energy installations that you always read about as the savior of our country.  You know, huge solar farms that require the Environmental Protection Agency to issue a report about how they affect the local ecosystem, or huge off-shore wind farms.

It has always made more sense to me to start small, like at the individual's level.  Fund solar power for house rooftops, or back yards.  Instead of a single, huge point of failure, why not generate power from thousands of smaller, cheaper installations?

Well, it looks like the Marines are trying this kind of approach.  I just read this article in the Wall Street Journal talking about a marine company that's trying individual solar panels to charge the gear they need to take in the field, instead of having to helicopter in extra batteries all the time.  Seems like a great idea to me: it reduces the risk of transport vehicles getting hit by enemy fire, and it places pretty much no infrastructure burden to power all of these marines; they have enough to generate a good deal of their own power.

Going back to the idea of solar power for individual houses: I think there's a lot that needs to happen: homeowners need to become more aware of the funding options they have for acquiring solar energy, the payback curve (which looks attractive if you stay in your house for 8+ years).  City governments could do more to promote homeowners to go solar, including a faster turnaround time on the paperwork and inspection processes.  But it's already within reach today for lots of homeowners; if we had a serious increase in individual solar energy deployments, we could take a big chunk out of our energy dependence, and also make our power grid more protected against outages and other risks.

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