The Great Solar Panel Rip-off: Part 2

dsc_0002-1In part one of this series we looked at the projections for electricity production by the telephone pole Solar Panel Program.  In part two we will take look to see if these claims are valid or not.  But before we do that, we have to accept a few facts.

Solar cells, the individual components of the solar panels only work at maximum efficiency when they directly face the sun.  The reason for this is because the cells need a particle of light called a photon to hit them in such a way that an electron is “pushed” into the circuit.  The only way this happens with any type of frequency is when the photon hits straight on.  Think of trying to throw a ball through a hole.  If you are directly in front of the hole and throw the ball you have a good chance of getting it into the hole.  If on the other hand you stand at the side of the wall and try to throw the ball in, most of them will just bounce off the wall without going into the hole.  The same thing happens with a solar panel.

When you take a look at an individual pole mounted Solar Panel you will notice a few things.  The first is that it is rigidly attached to the pole facing in a specific direction in relationship to the earth.  By being mounted this way, the panel can not move as the sun orbits the earth.  Now most but not all of these panels are mounted facing south.  Keeping this in mind and the fact that to obtain maximum efficiency the panel must face directly at the sun, we can use this diagram to show that these conditions will only be met for a short time each day.


As you can see if the panel is mounted facing south, when the sun raises in the east the light will not strike the panel and produce electricity.  The same thing happens when the sun is setting in the west.  During the time the sun moves towards “high noon” it still is not facing the panel.  It is only when the sun is in the southern horizon will it be in such a position to produce electricity at the projected output that has been claimed.  This you can see will only be a small amount of time, but there is another problem in trying to achieve those projected electricity outputs.

Besides being mounted in a specific direction on the telephone poles, the panels are fixed at a specific angle.  This angle is 45 degrees from the horizon.  Now the problem with this is that the sun is not always in a fixed position on the equatorial horizon.  This can be visualized with this diagram:


You can see, as the seasons change, the position of the sun in the southern horizon changes to.  In the winter, the sun is low in the south, while in the summer it is almost directly overhead.  Each of these positions will not allow for direct exposure of the sun to the panel.  Each degree off of the 45 degree mounting angle will affect the efficiency of the cells.  Again, only for short periods of time will the panel be in an optimum position to run at maximum efficiency. 

In each of the examples I have just shown you, the efficiency of the panels will only be at maximum for a short time each day of the year, but now we have to combine the effect of each situation together in order to determine the true efficiency of the panels.

Let’s for argument sake say that it is 9 o’clock in the morning on a winter day.  The angle that the sun is at for that time is 45 degrees relational to the face of the panel.  Now let’s say that at 45 degrees the panel will only produce 50% of its rated output.  Because it is winter, we can assume that the horizon angle is 45 degrees and the same characteristic holds true, it will only produce 50% rated output.  Taking these two conditions, 50% of 50% is 25% of rated output.  In other words, if the panel is suppose to produce 200 watts as claimed by PSE&G at rated 100% output, on a winter day at 9 o’clock it will only produce 50 watts.  Even at noon when the sun would be perpendicular on the east-west plane, the panel will only produce at 50% rated capacity, or 100 watts.  This would be just enough to run one 100 watt light bulb.  And this would only be for a short time each day.

Here is a picture of a street in New Jersey where the panels have been installed.


Again, note that they are fixed in a specific position on the poles.  In this case they are all facing in the same direction.  Now, when you are driving around take a look at the panels and see what direction they are facing.  Take note of trees, buildings and other things that might block the sun from striking the panels.  And when you are through doing that ask this simple question, “How can these panels every produce what we have been told they would”?

I hope that when you think about the evidence I have presented and your own observations you will agree with this conclusion.  There is no way that at anytime can this project ever deliver the 40 Megawatts (MG) that its proponents claim it will.  The most I believe at anytime this fiasco could possible deliver would be on the order of 10 Megawatts, and only for a few hours per day in the spring and fall of the year.  Any other times the conditions will be such that the panels cannot produce the stated output and since the panels are facing in every direction imaginable, including northeast and northwest, directly away from the sun, it is an outright lie when they say it will produce 40 Megawatts (MG) of clean energy.  The only thing clean about this project is the cleaning out of the wallets of the rate payers in New Jersey.

In the third part of this series, we will take a look at the politician, Upendra Chivukula (D-17), who has been the principle sponsor in what seems to be every piece of “clean” energy legislation that has come out of Trenton.  It should make for some interesting reading.

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  1. Donald MacLeay says:

    I agree that the solar panels are a waste of money. In fact, they will probably never even live out their twenty year lifetimes on the poles. It is hugely inefficient to install these individually on the poles. They produce very little electricity. They are fragile and subject to vandalism. They must be cleaned periodically of grime.
    When I first saw one of the solar panels installed I thought they must be for the telephone local battery service. Now they are everywhere.
    The only interesting thing about this is that in order to move the low DC power off the panel and onto the high voltage line you must have a grid-tie inverter for each panel. The inverters cost as much as a solar panel. Big waste of money.

  2. Keith Jensen says:

    Germany, run by a very liberal and green government gets it. RE: Today’s article in their largest periodical, Der Spiegel.

    Best summary quote from the article, “…In Germany, solar is by far the most inefficient technology among renewable energy sources, and yet it receives the most subsidies…The relationships are just the reverse for wind energy. For the same cost, wind supplies at least five times as much electricity as solar, while hydroelectric power plants generate six times as much. Even biomass plants are still three times as efficient as solar. ”

    NJ has a vast coast to harness tidal and wind energy. Additionally, The Garden State can likely capitalize on its biomass output.

    Why does our govt. continue to press these solar panels? Who approved and pushed this contract for these relatively useless, intrusive and ugly solar panels?,1518,809439,00.html

  3. Donald MacLeay says:

    There is a place for solar with the individual and business user. It can be installed and serviced by a homeowner. It makes no noise, like the small wind generators, so it can work in urban settings.

  4. Market rally says:

    This is about the most biased news article I have ever read. In fact I would not call this a news article but more than a feelings article. The writer probable lives on a street that has these and doesn’t like the way it looks.

    We all have to do something. This is a start. Out west were there is thousand’s of acres of land mabey building a solar farm, wind farm or both will work. Here in New Jersey we do not have allot of choices. There is no way most of the state is going to allow wind farms to be built along the coast. The rich will complain that they make noise ( they really don’t make that much noise at all) now with the tide. It is very costly to build, granted it does produce allot of energy and takes allot of time to research tides, ocean floor etc…

    I have to applaud pseg for doing this. They took basically free money to them ( all part of the governments clean air act) and did something with it.

    Now they are rebuilding the supply lines in nj. Has any body been in Livingston nj? They are upgrading the lines there from ( this is from memory) 130 k up to 260 kv. They are doing this again with basically free money to them from the government. This all helps out the little guy during storms ( one line an carry more electric) and if need be can be rerouted. Now that the lines have double the electric they can handle more demand. Also they are preparing for the future demand. Does anybody know how much power is going to be needed in the next ten years when electric cars are a bigger part of the vehicles on the road. The existing plant can not handle the amount of power that will be needed and pseg is taking the bull by the horns and building something that will not be needed for 5-10 years from now.

    One last thing, I don’t like pseg overall. I don’t feel that a something as basic as power should be a commodity. Please don’t question my feelings, just think about the day that you are paying for a glass of plain tap water at a restaurant or even a breath of fresh air……

  5. @ Market Rally

    Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, no matter how wrong it is. The facts on solar panels speak for themselves, they are an environmental disaster.

    You say that out west these projects work so well. Yes they do, in helping to destroy wildlife.

    Or in destroying farmlands

    or chewing up birds

    Yeah, just think of the day when libs like you have wiped out whole species of animals and people starve in the name of “green energy”.

  6. Mark D Quick says:

    Grat reply ….

    greenies only claim to protect wildlife, they would starve both people and aminals…. we produce co2… very bad

    EFFI Solar in Frelinghuysen tried the friendly to animal line.. until they faced photo’s of wildlife they would fence off from a food .. bears deer and would not comment on bird strikes.. and tried to deny bald eagles use the area

  7. Mark D Quick says:

    They are doing this again with basically free money to them from the government.

    Free money from ???? who’s wallet,

  8. Thanks Mark, but it is always fun to point out how hypocritical the loonie lefty liberals really are.

  9. Leia Yepes says:

    Certainly, but everyone needs to acknowledge that adding Solar in their house is an asset that could boost the future valuation of their property if / when they choose to sell. With the environment the way it is going we are not able to overlook any solution that offers 100 % free energy at no cost to both the buyer and more significantly the world!

  10. @ Yepes

    Solar is the biggest waste of money of all of the “green” energy methods that the loonie liberals are pushing.