Made in America: Hip Lookin Solar Panels

This post is a response to What’s So Special About the Subprime Mess? by Stephen J. Dubner on the NYT Freakonomics Blog.

Why can I purchase and finance a flat screen TV (no payback) but not a Solar Panel (20 year payback). Lets please stop talking about “Subprime Mess” and start talking about Renewable Energy Mortgages. If unemployment arrives from the slowdown of this housing boondoggle, we (GenX’ers) better be ready to take advantage of all the free labor…

I am fearful of the fact that so much of our labor is still currently employed in non-growth industries such as housing and auto; as the only industry in the world today that is experiencing net profit growth is renewable energy. Yes gold and food commodity prices may be going up (raising “GDP”), but that is a function of trying to get more value out of less resources, otherwise known as inflation. They don’t provide net value growth such as renewable energy. Think production, not consumption.Why is our manufacturing industry not producing more solar panels and less cars and houses. Didn’t GM just report a $30B loss. At $0.12/kwh average utility rate, and at least 4 hours of average sunshine (i.e. northeast), that loss could have invested to produce a 5% dividend return on the production and distribution costs of solar panels (no subsidies necessary assuming a conservative $10 per watt all-in-cost); all the while owning not just a manufacturing business in which each new car is worth 30% less when you drive it off the lot, but actual renewable energy assets that theoretically produce power into perpetuity (a function of the sun).

5% unleveraged, asset secure – where you gonna find that? Not too mention, as oil and gas become more scarce, the returns go up and up. Huh? Yes, inflation works for you. Renewable energy is the ultimate inflationary hedge.

Our government is handing out money that they borrow by issuing our treasuries to the tune of $600 per person to pay for cars and houses. Why don’t they hand out a solar panel – Made in America. All our banks have serious financial difficulties. Why don’t they stop financing cars and houses and start financing solar panels.

Will there be more cars or homes in 2010 or more solar panels to power our cell phones and internet access. The electricity grid was built in the early 1900s. The hard work with horse power has already been done for us.

Real Estate to access the sun (Land scarcity being the real economic variable as it relates to renewable energy – think Ricardo Rent Theory) is going to get real cheap, real soon. Now all we have to do is make and hang some hip-lookin solar panels. Oh and by the way, Silicon, being the second most abundant mineral found in the earth’s crust, is solar power’s lucky variable. Oxygen is our first.

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