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By Robert Rapier on Dec 1, 2008 with no responses

The Solar Thermal Option

I apologize for being out of pocket lately, and that trend is going to continue at least through this week. I have a staff meeting all week, and then I fly back to Europe next Monday. So, my posting will be sporadic until then. I do appreciate everyone keeping the comments civil in my absence, as it makes for much more productive discussions.

However, I want to call your attention to a new website that discussed solar thermal in depth. The site just went live, and the topic is covered in detail. The site is:

http://www.solar-thermal.com/

I have always found the prospect of solar energy very attractive. In fact, I once accidentally started a fire while playing around with solar energy. However, I must admit to being surprised that the recent IEA report projected that both solar PV and solar thermal technologies will still be very expensive relative to other renewable electricity options in 2030. (See the figure that I posted here). I certainly know that each time I look into getting a solar hot water heater (which really appeals to my environmental side), my inner tightwad balks at the cost.

Car Update

And speaking of inner tightwad, I still haven’t bought a car. I have been without one since March, only renting one for a week or two at a time while in Dallas. After weighing all of the various suggestions, I had narrowed my choice down to a small truck like a Ford Ranger (which I have owned before) or a Toyota Tacoma. I don’t need to haul stuff very often, but two or three times a year I find myself needing a little truck.

But I have run the numbers several times, and I keep coming up with a cost of ownership in the $500 month range (includes taxes, insurance, maintenance, and depreciation). For the month of December, I only need a car for 4 days (this week in fact) and it will cost me less than $150 (and my insurance company covers me for no extra cost). Until I am spending more than two weeks a month in the U.S. on a regular basis, I think I can justify continuing to rent.