Let's Talk Alternative Energy

Questions about alternative energy are answered by author Scott Sklar.

| October/November 2005

Finding a Distributer

How do I find distributors of residential solar water-heating equipment for my state?
Jonathon G.
Northern California

Contact your local Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) chapter (www.seia.org) or your state's chapter of the American Solar Energy Society (www.ases.org). In states without either, I would contact the closest state chapter because many distributors cover multistate regions or will know of a contact in your state. The vendor you buy the system from can recommend a good installer, too.

A quality installer should belong to a state or regional SEIA chapter or the national association. Ask to see pictures of previous installations and request references you can contact.

Diminishing Wind Power?

With recent Exxon Mobil ads relegating wind to less than 1 percent of future energy use and the introduction of legislation to restrict wind farms by Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and John Warner, R-Va., has the sheen been blown off wind?
Haley R. Winchester.

Quite the opposite is true. In 2004, the global wind-power indu-stry in stalled 8,000 megawatts (MW) of new wind turbines, according to the Global Wind Energy Council. Europe led the world wind-power market, in stalling 5,774 MW, which accounted for about 72 percent of that growth. Total world wind capacity now stands at 47,317 MW (1 MW is enough to power 300 U.S. homes).

In March, the United Kingdom's Sustainable Development Commission released a report that concludes wind power is a better alternative than nuclear energy for addressing climate change. The commission's 176-page report concludes wind power, along with other renewables, offers the only truly sustainable domestically sourced option for electric generation over the long term. The commission, financed by the usually- pro-nuclear energy Trade and Industry Department, concluded wind en ergy is quiet, economical and less expensive than nuclear power.

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