Solar saves money and the environment

So install solar and make money; then plug in your electric scooter or car, pay zero for gas and save more money...and the environment.

Since I was unkindly named an “insincere” carbon buster, I would like to reply to Mr. William’s July 15 opinion piece “No environmental benefit to solar power in B.C.”. In brief, Mr. Williams is right about some details, but then uses those details to wrongly conclude there are no overall benefits of solar energy.

As stated in his article, hydro power is a green source of energy. But his implication that solar is less green is doubtful. Dams and hydro reservoirs produce greenhouse gases during both their construction and operation; solar panels produce pollutants only in their manufacture. But yes, panels made in China have low environmental safeguards, although they are increasingly made in North America. So shall we call it even this far into the debate?

But let’s look at the financial costs. Mr. William’s article pretends that the cost of $10,000 or more for solar panels is a clear argument against them, without mentioning comparable costs for hydro. That makes no investment sense to me.

My solar farm of 192 panels will produce electricity costing about 10 cents per kWh. Since I make enough electricity to avoid Hydro’s tier 2 cost of 11.3 cents per kWh, that gives me a modest four to eight per cent annual return on my pension investment.

Perhaps Mr. Williams is an astute investor and can make more on a $10,000 investment. But I prefer my low-risk solar investment compared with wildly risky and unpredictable stock markets.

In addition Hydro costs, and rates, will increase when the real cost of Site 1 comes due, when their debt is paid, and after they add huge costs for upgrading and maintaining transmission lines.

So the 9.9 cents per kWh that Hydro now pays for my electricity almost certainly will increase over time, but my costs will not — solar panels require little maintenance. So my profit may rise, like the sun.

The City of Kimberley has just installed over 4,000 solar panels. Kevin Wilson, their economic development officer, says that solar “helps diversify B.C.’s power supply”… making it “more resilient.” And solar panels will operate in times of climate change-related drought, which is happening right now.

And finally, I have not yet addressed this critical environmental issue because I know Mr. Williams does not accept climate change — unlike scientists and most Canadians. But for the rest of you readers, if the world converts all its fossil fuel energy to renewable solar and wind — which it is starting to do — massive investments in renewable energy will be needed to keep society going.

Early adopters in the Cowichan Valley are helping to drive this global shift that will see carbon emissions decrease globally while solar prices fall to one-third that of hydro power and even less compared with fossil fuel power — for the social, environmental, and economic benefit of us all, including Mr. Williams.

So install solar and make money; then plug in your electric scooter or car, pay zero for gas and save more money…and the environment.

Peter Nix

Maple Bay