Solar’s a Joke (on Fox)

Shibani JoshiI don’t have much occasion to watch Fox News, and that’s probably a bad thing. Just like shingles, it is easy to forget just how bad it is if you aren’t actively suffering from it. Luckily, Media Matters suffers for us all by continuously monitoring this vile institution. Most of the articles they provide are of the “no comment” form: just a video that speaks for itself. On Thursday, Max Greenberg presented a video that could have gone without comment, Fox Cedes Solar Industry To Germany.

He focuses on the remarkable statement by Fox Business reporter Shibani Joshi that Germany has a better solar energy industry because “they’ve got a lot more sun than we do.” Then she seems to realize that a claim that outrageous mightn’t even fly with the idiots on Fox & Friends, so she adds, “In California, it’s a great solution, but here on the East Coast it’s just not going to work.” Just on its face, this makes no sense. If California (not to mention Arizona and New Mexico) is such a great place for solar, why don’t we have booming solar industries there?

But it is far worse than that. On the East Coast where “it’s just not going to work” they get about 1500 kWhr per square meter per year. In Germany, they get about two-thirds of that: 1000 kWhr per square meter per year. Here is the video:

What I found even more distressing in this clip is the claim that solar has not proven that it can take the “training wheels off.” The truth is that solar has gotten more and more cost effective over the years. In fact, according to Scientific American:

The cost of solar, in the average location in the U.S., will cross the current average retail electricity price of 12 cents per kilowatt hour in around 2020, or 9 years from now. In fact, given that retail electricity prices are currently rising by a few percent per year, prices will probably cross earlier, around 2018 for the country as a whole, and as early as 2015 for the sunniest parts of America.

In addition to this, after over 50 years of nuclear power facilities in the United States, it is far from clear that they are cost effective. And if externalities were included in the price of coal and other fossil fuels, solar would be competitive now. The conservative hatred of solar power really shows how much political ideology comes down to culture. There is no reason to dislike solar power, except that it is associated with those long hairs. And as a result, you get the Fox News treatment of the issue that has no content and a lot of ridicule, because, hey, everyone knows solar is a joke—at least everyone at Fox.

H/T: The Brad Blog

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

0 thoughts on “Solar’s a Joke (on Fox)

  1. There actually is a big problem with green power that will probably never be fixed (besides the nascent-technology issues, like battery storage, which will get better as more R&D goes into the product.)

    You lose quite a bit of power in transmission. There’s a rigid formula for it. The larger the distance between the generating site and the end user, the more power gets lost over the wire. It’s more of an issue for wind than solar, actually, because (again) battery tech should get better and even cloudy areas will be able to store sunlight and use it later. The areas with the most consistent high winds aren’t generally near major urban areas, for obvious reasons.

    In general, yeah, this kind of "story" is just noxious garbage, appealing to those who basically worship oil/gas/coal companies because they are powerful and harm people, and snicker at green alternatives because, you know, they are favored by wimps who want to reduce harm. Never underestimate America’s seemingly insatiable love of sadism.

    A recent editorial reprinted in the local paper purported to prove that Gummint should get out of mandating behavior through some study suggesting a correlation between reusable shopping bags and illness. AKA, if we stop wrapping all our vegetables in disposable plastic, we’ll all get sick and die.

    To which the rest of the planet would respond, "wash your goddamn veggies for a few seconds before you eat them!"

    (Why do you torment readers with attractive headshots like Ms. Joshi’s here, then show video of that lovely individual actually talking? Completely harshed my mellow.)

  2. @JMF – My concern is what the oil companies will do as solar becomes more competitive. Will it be like healthcare where all of Europe has cheap and effective healthcare and we are stuck paying twice as much for poor quality care? I can easily see in America us not getting full access to solar because our politicians are bought and paid for by the oil companies.

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