Your Questions About Solar Power International

Donald asks…

How do I raise money for a group engineering project in college?

I am trying to raise money for a senior engineering project at The College of New Jersey. We are building a solar powered boat that will be competing in an international competition this May. Are there specific grants, institutions, organizations etc that would possibly fund this project. Thanks for all and any help.

ssadmin answers:

Sponsorship. See if any local materials companies or engineering companies are willing to put some money forward in exchange for advertising space on your boat etc.

Most universities manage to get either free or heavily discounted components too.

As far as i know there aren't usually grants in place, because the competition holders want the engineers to take the initiative and get experience in business as well as engineering.

Susan asks…

The Hollywood Sign is not allowed to be lit at night. Would you support a ballot measure?

The Hollywood Sign is an international landmark known to almost every person on Earth. It has more power and influence than any world government or body. It can be argued that the Hollywood Sign is the Ellis Island/Statue of Liberty of the 21st Century.

Despite what most people think, the sign is not lit at night. A small handful of homeowners living beneath the sign have slapped lawsuits preventing L.A. from lighting the sign. Imagine the Golden Gate Bridge, Empire State Building, Big Ben or Eiffel Tower not being brightly lit. A small handful of people should not be able to control an international landmark.

What are your thoughts on the subject? and would you support a ballot measure allowing the Hollywood Sign to be lit?

Would u support the measure if the city & its taxpayers did not have to pay a dime for the equipment and power usage? How successful would you think to ask Hollywood studios to donate the cost of solar power cells and upkeep? They do owe their existance 2 her

ssadmin answers:

I agree with ryan. People do not live near eiffel tower. U know what, the hollywood sign does not need to be lit because it's already famous as it is. What difference does it make if it's lit? The number of tourists will still be the same. And yeah, don't waste energy. L.a.'s consuming too much already. Im from l.a, i should know 🙂

Daniel asks…

Why would we build any more nuclear power plants?

A lot of people, including John McCain, think nuclear power is the best solution to the US's energy problems.

However, the cost of nuclear power has been skyrocketting. From 2000 through October 2007, nuclear power plant construction costs — mainly materials, labor and engineering — have gone up 185%.

Last November, Nuclear Engineering International ran a story entitled ‘For some utilities, the capital costs of a new nuclear power plant are prohibitive.'

Duke Energy won't even reveal the cost estimate for a proposed nuclear plant in the Carolinas because it's so high.

According to some analysts, a reasonable estimate for levelized cost range of nuclear power is 12 to 17 cents per kilowatt hour lifetime. The California Public Utilities Commission estimates new nuclear plants would cost 15 cents per kWh before transmission and delivery costs.

In comparison, the same commission puts the current cost of concentrated solar thermal at 13 cents per kWh. And the cost could drop by as much as 20% within the next 10 years as the technology improves. And concentrated solar thermal has storage capacity, which means it can follow power demand, unlike nuclear, which produces constant energy output.

Jigar Shah, chief strategy officer of SunEdison, said he could guarantee delivery to Florida of more power with solar photovoltaics — including energy storage so the power was not intermittent — for less money than the nuke plants being constructed there cost.

According to the Bush Energy Department, Americans could get 300 gigawatts of wind by 2030 at a cost of 6 to 8.5 cents per kilowatt-hour, including the cost of transmission to access existing power lines.

And the risk of nuclear construction projects going into default and costing taxpayers tens of billions of dollars is very high.

McCain's Nuclear Energy Plan May Cost $315 Billion

So why should we build any more nuclear power plants when they're more expensive, more risky, and not as clean as renewables like wind and solar thermal?
Cactus Jack – nuclear receives far more subsidies than renewables.
Bob – nuclear plants take far longer to build than renewable energy plants.
eric c – the IPCC advocates a 2% increase in nuclear vs. a 15% increase in renewable energy by 2030.

ssadmin answers:

1. Yes, capital costs for nuclear are high. But fuel costs are very small. Expensive to build, but cheap to run.

2. Much of the capital cost penalty for nuclear is societal, not technological. In other words, avoidable with policy change.

3. There are no significant improvements on the horizon for concentrated solar. Each piece considered alone is already a mature technology. How much more efficient can you make a mirror? There may be improvements for PV, but that's more expensive than nuclear.

4. Nuclear receives more subsidies than renewables only on a gross basis. On a per-watt basis, renewables are subsidized many times more than nuclear.

5. Nuclear power has advantages that solar and wind do not, specifically near 100% availability.

6. Nuclear has a lower carbon footprint that solar, about as low as wind.

7. Coal burning is the worst, and I mean WORST contributor to global warming on the planet. Period. We still get 33% of our energy from coal, and there's a reason for that. It's RELIABLE and AVAILABLE. Yes, it's killing the planet. But that's not factored into its cost of use.

Currently, nuclear power is the only available source for reliable, available baseload electric generation that can realistically hope to replace coal within the next decade. Hydro is already fully subscribed. Solar, wind, and geothermal are regional and intermittant resources. That doesn't mean useless, it just means limited in scope. So yes, let's use wind and solar where we can. Where we can't, use nuclear.

Joseph asks…

If U.S. manufacturers cannot compete with Chinese manufacturers for most manufactured goods?

why would they be able to compete for “green” technology goods?

One of the common arguments made by alarmists is that the US will lose out on a lot of green technology jobs if the US does not pass cap and trade. But US manufacturers are already having a hard time competing with their Chinese counterparts for most of the manufactured products. So why would an American solar power manufactures be able to compete with the Chinese, while other American manufacturers can't? If you increase energy costs, thus the cost of production, how will this added cost make them more competitive in the international market place?

ssadmin answers:

Dana, former master of science and still former and Baccheus have no clue on their statements. Both having never traded on international trade with China, they both espouse the same old warn out statement that China has inferior products. Isn't so and anyone in international trade knows this. What Dana may think is American made is in fact made in China as this country over regulates more and more industry out of the country.

Waxman-Markey bill and Baccheus statement is just ignorant and shows his ignorance of the issue in its entirety. There had been ITC 332 investigations in the past over Chinese goods and anti dumping polices of the ITC and some have made it through the process and some have been discounted and turned down. One in particular, the steel ITC investigation to save 150 thousand jobs in the US in a protectionist type of action actually upon be implemented and heavy tarriffs placed on the import industry actually caused over 1 million job losses in the industry and its supplying industries. DFMOS and Baccheus in their eliteness think they know how the world works, but in fact they have no clue.

Chinese goods are getting better and better as they take advantage of the idiots here in America, one being Waxman and the other being Markey. Someone should tell these two alarmists to stick to bogus science and quit meddling in issues they know nothing of. For the sake of America.

Sharon asks…

Are these IPCC references peer-reviewed?

As you know, the IPCC's own rules state that it should only use and refer to credible, peer-reviewed scientific studies, as stated in it's mandate: [quote]

“”The IPCC mandate is to assess, on a comprehensive, objective, open and transparent basis, the available scientific information in peer-reviewed literature.””

However, the following references given by the IPCC do not appear to be from peer-reviewed scientific studies. If anyone can point out where the have been published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal (with links if poss.) i would be grateful.

From the references of the IPCC AR4 WGII: mitigation of climate change, available at:

Bhadra, B., 2002: Regional cooperation for sustainable development of Hindu Kush Himalaya region: opportunities and challenges. Paper presented at the Alpine Experience – An Approach for other Mountain Regions, Berchtesgaden.
( i can find a reference to this on Springerlink, but it's to a book, not a scientific journal)

Allianz and World Wildlife Fund, 2006: Climate change and the financial sector: an agenda for action, 59 pp. [Accessed 03.05.07: filelibrary/pdf/allianz_rep_0605.pdf]


Austin, G., A. Williams, G. Morris, R. Spalding-Feche, and R. Worthington, 2003: Employment potential of renewable energy in South Africa. Earthlife Africa, Johannesburg and World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Denmark, November, 104 pp.


Andrews, S. and R. Udal, 2003: Oil prophets: looking at world oil studies over time. Association for Study of Peak Oil Conference, Paris.


Aringhoff, R., C. Aubrey, G. Brakmann, and S. Teske, 2003: Solar thermal power 2020, Greenpeace International/European Solar Thermal Power Industry Association, Netherlands


Austin, G., A. Williams, G. Morris, R. Spalding-Feche, and R. Worthington, 2003: Employment potential of renewable energy in South Africa. Earthlife Africa, Johannesburg and World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Denmark, November, 104 pp


As you can probably tell, the ones above are just those under ‘A' and ‘B' in the references index! There are lots more that don't seem to be peer-reviewed science as mandated by the IPCC. Does anyone know which journals they have been published in. Or, if not, why the IPCC has been contravening it's own mandate and relying on non peer-reviewed literature.
They're not relying on Greenpeace, the WWF and whatever the “Association for Study of Peak Oil” is are they?
– Andy. That's a good analogy. LOL. Impartial scientific references from Greenpeace and the Association for the Study of Peak Oil. Maybe Earth First will be referenced in there as well.

Umm, Benjamin i'm not referring to that particular debacle (Himalayan glaciers), but to the reports as sampled above.

They have not said anything about using these non-peer-reviewed sources. Yet.

ssadmin answers:

Because don't you know that the IPCC can change the rules and that Greenpeace and WWF are both neutral experts now? I mean it is like asking a vegan journal if eating meat is acceptable.

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