Solar Dreams

Today is the rainiest day I remember here at Murray Creek since April. It is more like a Seattle day than a California day. I smiled to notice that the Google weather forecast icons and temperatures for here and for Seattle are almost identical for this week. It has been raining non-stop since last night, including one period of extra heavy rainfall today that resulted in new baby creeks forming all of a sudden on the hill behind our house. Thankfully, our erosion control efforts are paying off and the chocolate-colored water is being diverted past the house with no harm done, other than a muddy driveway.

I’m snuggled up near the wood stove with the lappy. Being able to heat the house using wood we salvage from the property is pretty awesome, and gets me thinking about other ways to go “off the grid.” Conal and I are interested in solar power, and had heard from a friend that there were technological advances afoot. Turns out, they are afoot practically in our back yard.

When we not-very-seriously considered installing a solar system at our house last summer, the price was much higher than we had hoped it would be. Our considerings were quickly downgraded to never mind. But perhaps the cost of solar is about to get a lot less prohibitive.

I’ve just been reading about Nanosolar, a company based in Silicon Valley that today made its first commercial shipments of thin-film solar cells, according to a press release. I’m excited and inspired by this company’s story, and by what the future may hold for them and us. The new solar cells are no thicker than a layer of paint, and could be built into lots of surfaces. Home roofing materials, sure, but how about the roofs of trucks and cars? Neat!

I came across this wonderful quote a few days ago, and I just love it. It seems apt here:

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” ~ R. Buckminster Fuller

The folks at Nanosolar aren’t spending time grumbling about our addiction to fossil fuels or the high cost of alternative energy. They mapped out a daring path to make the old model obsolete, and seem to be well on their way to doing just that.

Meanwhile, I’m enjoying listening to the rain and imagining what the world might look like if - I guess I should say when - affordable thin-film solar cells are readily available and in wide use.

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