Tuesday, February 21, 2012

I Don't Like the Math on This

The scandal in the story is supposed to be that Energy Secretary Chu personally intervened in the loan process in order to help failed-solar-company Solyndra.

Blah blah crony capitalism is evil, whatever.

Further down comes the interesting part:
"Secretary Chu strongly supported Project Amp because it will be the largest rooftop project in U.S. history and is expected to generate enough clean, renewable electricity to power over 88,000 homes while supporting at least a thousand jobs all across the country."

Really? 1000 people to power 88,000 homes? So 1 job to power 88 homes...

Ok, now lets look at the national scene.

There are 400,000 electric power industry workers in the country.

Figure a "home" equals 4 people, in a population of 320 million, equals 80 million "homes" (the census counts 114 million "households," so this is close enough). So 1 job to power 200 homes.

But don't forget those 400,000 also produce electricity for commercial and industrial uses. With a quick eyeballing of this chart, it looks like we should triple the number, so 1 job to power 600 "homes."

So what I get from this story is that solar power is only about 15% as man-hour-efficient as the industry standard, and government propping this sector up is sorta like making farmers plow their fields with swayback mules instead of a tractor, so the government can brag about the health of the "agricultural-production-animal industry."

Green energy: it's still a scam.

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