Friday, May 15, 2009

Now Learn From This

Troy's celebrated solar house left in dark
Facility touted as next big thing still shut
Shawn D. Lewis / The Detroit News

Troy -- It was supposed to be a shining example of the green movement -- a completely independent solar-powered house with no gas or electrical hookups.

Seven months ago, officials gathered for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the $900,000 house owned by the city of Troy that was to be used as an educational tool and meeting spot.

But it never opened to the public. And it remains closed.

Frozen pipes during the winter caused $16,000 in damage to floors, and city officials aren't sure when the house at the Troy Community Center will open.

"It's not safe right now, and there's no estimated opening time because it depends on when we can get funding," said Carol Anderson, director of the city's Parks and Recreation Department.....

..... Jeff Biegler, superintendent of parks for the city, said the flooding occurred from a glitch in the heater.

"The system was designed to kick a heater on to keep water from freezing," Biegler said. "The heater drew all reserve power out of the battery causing the system to back down and the pipes froze."

There was nothing wrong with building the house. I think it's great to see how tech works in the real world. But you have to do an honest analysis of your demonstration projects or you run the risk of remaining a starry-eyed goofball forever.

Analysis starting with: who can afford to pay this kind of money for a house? Especially when it requires constant maintenance, and it's ability to self-power is limited. And if the economics of doing this on a single-house scale don't make sense, it won't make sense if you multiply the project by a million. Sure, the cost of components may go down, but not enough to make an Obamatopia possible.

So here's your assignment greenheads: add any component you like to your own home. Put in solar panels, or a windmill. And add the converters and batteries, and maintain them, and get rid of the toxic old batteries, and clean the panels, and pick up the chopped birds... And then see if your zealotry remains burning bright.

I'm not down on technology. I love technology. But it is stupid to waste resources on a magical vision that just because you can imagine it. Fossil fuels are a part of your life, and will remain so for some time to come.