Friday, August 04, 2006

And on Page 4, a Beautiful Sunny Day

Stephen Filler
July 28, 2006

Another typical day of depressing energy/global warming related news from today's New York Times:

"Death Toll is Over 100 in California Heat Wave"
"Exxon Posts $10 Billion Profit"
"Hussein Now Awaits Verdict"
"Today: partly sunny, afternoon thunderstorms [apocalyptic and happening now], high 89"
"Death Toll From Heat in Europe Passes 80"
"Utilities Pay Scientist Ally On Warming"
"Tide of Arab Opinion Turns to Support for Hezbollah"
"Series of Woes Mar Iraq Project Hailed as Model"

But on page 4, a glimmer of hope: "Hot German July Doesn't Faze Farmer Who Reaps the Sun."

The Times reports that as Germany "sizzles through what is expected to be its hottest July on record," a pig farmer from Bavaria has covered his 150 year-old 200-acre pig farm with 10,050 solar panels that can supply power to all 7,000 residents of his village when running at full capacity. The local utility buys the electricity to meet peak demand during heatwaves when air conditioners are running full blast. And the solar famer makes $600,000 per year from the sale of his electricity which will allow him to pay off his loans in 15 to 16 years.

The farm was made possible as a result of Germany's progressive feed-in tariffs that guarantee solar farmers a minimum price for each kilowatt of electricity for twenty years.

To hedge his bets, the German farmer has held on to his pigs. Meanwhile the U.S. energy pigs are hedging their bets by trying to increase fossil fuel drilling in Alaska and in the nation's coastal waters. (See, e.g., Today's NY Times: "Senate Chiefs Plan to Resist Compromise on Energy Bill".)

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