Some ideas are just plain no-brainers. There are an estimated 150 million wooden utility poles in the U.S. just reaching up toward the sun. And that doesn't count metal poles and high tension line towers (or trees for that matter!?).
Why not put solar panels on every last pole and feed the juice back into the grid? They'd be out of everyone's way.
That's what Petra Solar is doing with its Sunwave solar panels which can produce up to 200 watts each. Putting one (or several) on 100 million poles could potentially yield 20,000 megawatts.
But we're only at the beginning of this type of technology. In July, Petra won a $200 million and three and a half year contract to put Sunwaves on 200,000 utility poles in New Jersey. And the panels can be used on rooftops as well.
Petra is a sponsor and exhibitor of GridWeek, a conference in Washington this week about the smart grid. Petra CEO Shihab Kuran is a speaker at the conference.
I'm trying to think of obstacles to this, but outside of the usual suspects such as cost, reliability, yield and maintenance, I really can't come up with any. Who could the sight of these panels possibly offend?
Why didn't I think of this?
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This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com