Archive for Friday, June 7, 2013

Letter: Not California

June 7, 2013


To the editor:

Mr. Coan needs to do a little more research about becoming a “solar power capital” like Lancaster, Calif. (Public Forum, May 31). Lancaster is in the Mojave Desert. It boasts 350 days of sunshine a year, and that is pretty accurate.

Here in Lawrence, we can boast no such thing, and we haven’t, by any stretch, the same conditions for doing so. I spent the first 51 years of my life in California, 13 of them in Lancaster, another 17 years in the Central Valley of California, and 20 years along the coast.  The conditions of any of those areas are quite dissimilar from here. 

If you want to be more energy efficient here, stop building homes and other structures that are constructed more for California-like weather, and construct them for Midwest conditions. Built right once, they’ll forever cut the use of all energy resources, and maybe even make solar power, as it now exists, a little helpful.


Ken Lassman 4 years, 11 months ago

Butler is right: heating costs can be impacted significantly with a properly insulated, tight house structure. Orienting it to the south with enough windows and an overhang to keep out the summer sun can make even more of an impact: passive solar.

While there's no way we can compete here in Lawrence with the sun insolation of Lancaster, California, it's also true that for the house I just described above, photovoltaics can have a significant impact on meeting the electrical needs of the household, and with rapidly dropping costs and advancing technology, the prospects are brighter and brighter each year.

Finally, progressive policies like the feed-in tariff adopted in Germany have made widespread adoption of solar attractive in far cloudier climes than Lawrence. Useful adoption of solar is not just limited to the sunniest places in the world any more, and it is in this light that I think Mr. Coan was referring to when he said that Lawrence could take the lead.

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