Town Square

Municipal Innovation: Berkeley Helps Citizens Go Solar

Original post made by Sanford Forte on Oct 26, 2007

Web Link

Here's an interesting idea that might gain traction, nationwide. There are challenges to programs like this, but Berkeley is stepping up to the plate, and making change happen.


Posted by Greg, a resident of Southgate
on Oct 26, 2007 at 1:25 pm

Sanford Forte,

Yes, not a bad idea, at least in the abstract. I am all for solar, but I have one big problem with it: It is UGLY! I hate those panels. Solar roof shingles (which already exist) would be a much better approach.

The best green approach, by far, is nuclear power. Palo Alto should be increasing its purchase of electricty from nuclear providers. That would put pressure to increase the number and capacity of nukes.

Posted by Solar Energy Hound, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 26, 2007 at 8:55 pm

Putting solar panels on your roof is a bad idea right now. The technology is moving forward quickly and in five years time the type of solar panels we use today with be obsolete. I'd wait until new technology becomes available.

Posted by jake, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Oct 27, 2007 at 5:10 am

Yeah, nuclear waste, that's what we need more of. Perhaps Greg can let us in on how that's going to be disposed of, even assuming we don't have another Three Mile Island or Chernobyl.

Posted by Greg, a resident of Southgate
on Oct 27, 2007 at 5:57 am


The nuclear "waste" you are refering to is actually a valuable resource. Once the U-235 is used up there is still a huge amount of U-238. This U-238 can be put in a breeder reactor and turned into Plutonium-239, which is a good fission fuel. In other words that "waste" is actually a resource. Once the plutonium-239 is used up (to make electricity), residual radioactity can be stored in yucca moutain, or even reprocessed to extract low level fissionalbe elements (e.g. thorium). Alternatively, if we don't want anything hanging around, the residual can be vitrified (made into glass), encased in stainless steel, and injected into a subduction zone.

Three Mile Island was a safety success, not a disaster. It was contained. More modern reactor designs would have prevented the accident in the first place. Chernobyl was a disaster, but it was a bad Soviet design, and it had no containment building. Also, the degree of damage from Chernobyl was not nearly as bad as was first predicted...the site will probably become a national park in the future (it is full of wildlife).

Nuclear power is an amazing source of clean, carbon-free energy. Major environmentalists, like Stewart Brand and Peter Schwarz support it. The scare campaign against it is based on misconceptions.