I came across two solar articles from the New York Times.  I found them interesting because the first one is about solar panels that are integrated into the building.

“The new materials are part of the building itself, not an addition, and they are taking photovoltaics to the next level — an aesthetic one,” said Alfonso Velosa III, a research director at Gartner and co-author of a coming report on the market for the new field, called building-integrated photovoltaics.

Companies are creating solar tiles and shingles in colors and shapes that fit in, for example, with the terra cotta tile roofing popular in the Southwest, or with the gray shingles of coastal saltbox cottages.

There are many people who won’t do solar panels because they think it makes their house look ugly.  With integrated panels, they won’t have to worry about.  Nor, will anyone come talk to them about their solar panels, so they can’t brag about how cheap their electric bill was. 

The second article is about how giant solar farms take up a lot of water – something the desert doesn’t really have a lot of. 

Here is an inconvenient truth about renewable energy: It can sometimes demand a huge amount of water. Many of the proposed solutions to the nation’s energy problems, from certain types of solar farms to biofuel refineries to cleaner coal plants, could consume billions of gallons of water every year. 

It’s not a desert without a reason.  Yes, deserts have lots of sunshine, but if you are going to cool or clean, it takes water.  This is not an insurmountable problem, but it can pose difficulties for these companies.

It will be interesting to see in fifteen years from now how much integrated solar there is – and once it takes off, will it be the demise of panels?

Mark Viquesney