Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Reference: Tapping into the sun, Bangkok Post, September 17, 2008

It is claimed that there is a surging interest in solar energy among retailers in the USA because they normally have large roofs that can be covered with solar panels (Tapping into the sun, Bangkok Post, September 17, 2008). Wal-Mart is cited as an example noting that 17 Wal-Mart stores have already been solarized and that in these stores solar energy provides 10% to 40% of the store's electricity needs. The simple average of this range is 25%. There are about 2,500 Wal-Mart stores in America and so we find that 25% of the electricity needs of 17 of these stores represents 0.17% of Wal-Mart's electricity consumption. Even this paltry percentage could not have been achieved without taxpayer funded subsidies to overcome the economic disadvantage of solar energy. Solar power costs five times as much as electricity generated from coal. The article appears at first blush to imply that solar power is making significant inroads into the retail industry in America but if you read it carefully it unwittingly delivers the entirely different message that solar power is not economically feasible and that its adoption by the retail industry in America is insignificant.

Cha-am Jamal

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