Catch 22: Heat churns in a vicious cycle

Coal burning power plants and vehicles emit particles that increase the greenhouse effect. Air conditioners need more power to cool homes and businesses as the atmospheric heat increases. Power plants burn more coal and emit more particles. The greenhouse effect increases…. solar home

Every summer I ask why we don’t have solar cells on our roofs, producing power for air conditioning and reflecting the sunlight that heats our homes. I am told that solar cells don’t look good on a house (perceptions will change). The local power company doesn’t allow connections to its grid (why not?). The return-on-investment of solar cells isn’t viable (maybe next year). Politicians don’t get wined and dined by solar lobbyists (true). And so nothing changes.

Our electric bill will be $400 for August. A few more years and it will be $1000 or $1500. We’ll be admiring the homes with solar cells when that day arrives.

Below are some excerpts from the Atlanta Journal Constitution newspaper about the heat.

Link: POURING IT ON: Heat churns in a vicious cycle | ajc.com.

The hotter and stickier it gets, the more we stay inside. The more we’re inside, the more electricity we use blasting the A/C. The more power we consume —- added to the traffic pollution —- the more soot- and smog-forming chemicals we add to the air. And that makes for still lousier air quality and even more reason to stay indoors. We’re fouling our own nest, in effect, and it’s a vicious cycle.

WHAT’S CAUSING THE BAD AIR?

Weather: Hot temperatures, stagnant air, no rain and little wind has created dome-like atmospheric conditions that keep pollution from leaving.

Traffic: Cars and trucks are the main cause of smog and probably the biggest contributor to soot pollution.

Power plants: Coal-fired power plants are major contributors to particle pollution, or soot. To a lesser degree they also contribute to ground-level ozone, or smog.

Everything else: With the air going nowhere, even backyard barbecues, lawn mowers and weed whackers are adding to pollution saturation.

17,546: Monday’s megawatt peak in Georgia
17,160: Last year’s peak (Aug. 4, 2006)
15,924: Highest daily peak in July

WHAT’S A MEGAWATT?

A megawatt measures capacity to produce electricity in an instant of time. Megawatt hours refer to the amount of megawatts used in an hour’s time.

One megawatt is enough to power 250 homes or a Publix or Kroger.
Forty megawatts would power one SuperWal-Mart or 10,000 homes.
Four hundred megawatts is enough to power 10 Super Wal-Marts or 100,000 homes.