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Sam's Club Solar Kiosk  (Source: News.com)
Sam's Club stores will offer discounts of up to $500 on solar power installations

As the green revolution continues, more and more consumer-oriented retailers are moving toward renewable energy not only to save money on utility costs, but also to gain points with consumers who are focused on green technologies and companies.

Now, retail giant Wal-Mart is hoping that its latest green efforts will be noticed by consumers and green-business gurus according to News.com. Wal-Mart has set up solar power kiosks in nine of its Sam's Club stores in Southern California in an effort to expose more consumers to solar power. At the kiosks, shoppers can get information about rooftop solar installations and receive discounts that average $500 savings on solar installations.

Sam's Club will offer the solar deals via solar panel installers including Borrego Solar and BP Solar. The solar kiosks will be installed in stores in Corona, Murrieta, Glendora, Ontario, La Habra, Chino, Long Beach, Fountain Valley, and Torrance.

Sam's Club stores are also doing more than simply adding the solar kiosks to the aisles; the stores will also be highlighting other green products like low-flow toilets and LED light bulbs. The stores were also feature live video chats with representatives from appliance makers focused on the green movement.

News.com reports that Wal-Mart is not only looking at selling solar panels in its stores, but also has plans to install solar power on 22 of its Wal-Mart stores around the country. The goal of its pilot solar program is to provide one-third of the energy needed for the 22 stores participating in the pilot.

Sam's Club stores are not the only retail outlets that are starting to look at selling renewable energy products to their customers. IKEA announced recently that it plans to invest a significant sum of money -- $77 million according to News.com -- to help launch clean-tech companies to build products like solar panels that it will sell in its retail outlets.



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Not a bad idea
By Moishe on 8/12/2008 4:10:49 PM , Rating: 1
Good PR for them, and more visibility for the common joe.
Too bad solar is almost a complete waste of time.

Still, this is just one more straw and another (small) step toward making solar more affordable.




RE: Not a bad idea
By h0kiez on 8/12/2008 4:17:57 PM , Rating: 3
Solar is a waste of time? That's retarded. Solar tech may have a ways to go before it's cheap and efficient enough to be ubiquitous, but the more consumer interest that the current tech can generate, the more research will be poured into newer tech and the faster we'll get there. It seems totally reasonable to me that tens of millions of homes could supply all their own power via solar within a decade or two.


RE: Not a bad idea
By TomZ on 8/12/2008 8:18:22 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Solar is a waste of time? That's retarded.

Apparently you haven't studied the economics of solar power, which make it "retarded" for most Americans. With a $30-50K up-front investment and a 15-30 year breakeven, it's not a good proposition. Unless you've got money to burn.

And that's not even considering the toxicity of the stuff used to produce solar cells...green technology my @ss.


RE: Not a bad idea
By masher2 (blog) on 8/12/2008 8:19:46 PM , Rating: 2
> " tens of millions of homes could supply all their own power via solar within a decade or two. "

Not without a quantum advance in both cell manufacturing cost and energy storage technology. And even then, most homes (especially in higher latitudes and rainy climates) still wouldn't have nearly enough roof surface area.

Reducing energy usage, especialy during the daylight hours, is one thing. Supplanting energy production entirely with solar is a pipe dream, at least for the next 50 years.


RE: Not a bad idea
By Doormat on 8/13/2008 7:32:04 AM , Rating: 2
The energy storage technology problem might be solved. Altairnano recently demoed their energy storage unit using a variant on lithium-based tech. The battery is capable of 15,000 cycles and can provide the discharge rate needed for household energy uses.

The problem is cost. A battery for one-night overnight storage would be about $30,000 (even if it would last for 40 yrs). At this point its far cheaper to use the grid as a battery, and this will be the case far into the future. Plus you'd have to overbuild your solar power system to generate enough power during daylight hours for the entire day, driving up that cost as well. Even then it would only work in the south and southwest.


RE: Not a bad idea
By Moishe on 8/13/2008 8:45:10 AM , Rating: 2
I said "ALMOST" and I also said what you said about this being a good thing for making solar cheaper, which will increase adoption.

Currently, residential solar is not economical enough to make it worth spending the time and money on it. I consider that a waste of time.


RE: Not a bad idea
By thornburg on 8/12/2008 4:35:49 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
Too bad solar is almost a complete waste of time.


In SoCal, solar is no waste of time.

Electricity costs a small fortune there, with variable rates for high-demand usage.

When is the demand the highest? During mid-day on hot days, when everyone is running A/C.

When do solar panels generate the most electricity? Oh yeah, during mid-day on hot (i.e. sunny) days.

Solar panels can also get you tax incentives and/or rebates in many places.

Sure, they take years to pay for themselves, but if they last a decade or more, they will have earn a net profit over their lifetime, without even taking into account the net positive effect on the environment. Oh yeah, and energy prices keep going up, and solar panels (per watt) keep getting cheaper, so the equation only gets better as time goes on.


RE: Not a bad idea
By Spuke on 8/12/2008 5:26:24 PM , Rating: 2
It takes a while to start making money from solar. You have to be there more than 10 years depending on what type of system you have. A friend has a 7.5kW system and paid $50k for it. After the incentives and stuff it was still $30k. Granted, not all of us need that large of a system but if you even want 70% of your energy from solar, prepare to pay the big bucks for it. I don't know about you, but that would take me 10 years or so to pay that off with my current budget.


RE: Not a bad idea
By Spuke on 8/12/2008 11:48:39 PM , Rating: 2
I wasn't clear on something. My friends solar array generates 70-75% power for his house which is 3700sf with a pool. For a smaller house, IF you use about 1000kWh or less a month, you could get away with a smaller system. We average around 700kWh a month and could get away with a 4.2kWh (70%) system that costs about $28k after rebates and stuff. We average over 355 days a year of sun. People in areas with less sun or higher latitudes would get less benefit though.


RE: Not a bad idea
By Ringold on 8/13/2008 2:29:51 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
Electricity costs a small fortune there, with variable rates for high-demand usage.


How much of that is due to government constraining capacity? It's almost as hot and probably more humid here in Florida, and no such "small fortune" costs. Perhaps thats relative, though. I reckon it has more to do with the state not being hostile to utility companies, as we've had huge growth in areas but none of California's problems.

quote:
Solar panels can also get you tax incentives and/or rebates in many places.


So is the answer to the aforementioned government failure more government market manipulation? How well has that worked with ethanol? How bad must the track record get?

quote:
Sure, they take years to pay for themselves, but if they last a decade or more, they will have earn a net profit over their lifetime


How does that compare to, say, even a bond fund's return? There's some sovereign debt funds that have decent yields. It wouldn't even be fair to compare it to long-run stock market performance, so I won't even go there.

Plus, what impact on net efficiency exists if one still has to maintain, to be safe, the ability to still power an area by more conventional means on hot, but overcast and stale days? Or should we revert to the stone age when the Sun God doesn't favor us?

Maybe solar has a role, perhaps even a legitimate economic one after years or decades more of research, but lets not delude ourselves.

quote:
Oh yeah, and energy prices keep going up


Perhaps... Perhaps not. After several months of consecutive OPEC output increases, almost a year of demand destruction, and now a collapsing euro-zone list of economies and signs of a Chinese slow-down, oil prices have been falling just the way they once were rising.


RE: Not a bad idea
By Moishe on 8/13/2008 9:07:32 AM , Rating: 4
The problem is, people have been trained to think that the government is the source of all good. So the government makes poor choices based on bad or skewed data. Then the government makes more choices based on the previous choices (and so on) until you have a situation where people are buying things they don't need (solar systems) to fix a problem that shouldn't exist (the price of electricity in CA).

Instead of wasting time trying to throw bandaids on the problem, why not cut to the root and acknowledge that the flaw lies in the thinking that made California what it is. Trying to work around the gaping wound is foolish at best.

I'm not opposed to solar. I AM opposed to forcing unnecessary expense on people for no good reason. I define "good reason" as a reason that is backed up by valid data and then voted on by the majority of the people.

The only thing I think is positive about the CA electricity problem is this: people vote and they are getting what they asked for. If Californians want feel-good policies that harm their economy, they can have them and they can pay for them. Congratulations.


RE: Not a bad idea
By Spuke on 8/13/2008 1:10:25 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
people vote and they are getting what they asked for. If Californians want feel-good policies that harm their economy, they can have them and they can pay for them.
And then they wonder what happened to the economy and start pointing fingers at each others political parties as the culprits. After a few years of the finger pointing they forget what they were angry about. And then another dork politician steps up claiming to be able to save the planet and we start all over again. California is "the retarded offspring of 5 monkeys having buttsex with a fishsquirrel".


Why don't they set an example
By paulpod on 8/13/2008 2:06:11 PM , Rating: 2
This marketing push would be a lot more impressive if Sam's would start putting solar panels and controlled skylights on their own expansive, flat roofs.

Of course, as some of the responses demonstrate, people have been brainwashed into thinking that short-term economic greed by individuals, with no regard for aggregate effects, should drive all decision-making.

You actually see ads for no-hybid cars bashing the fact it will take 10 years for the hybrid competition to cover the cost difference. Buyers are encouraged to completely overlook the cost to society in having their car BURN A LOT MORE OIL in those 10 years.




RE: Why don't they set an example
By Spuke on 8/13/2008 2:48:18 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
people have been brainwashed into thinking that short-term economic greed by individuals
So, weighing the economic costs to an individual, whether long or short term, before making a purchase of a product is now considered greed? Did you, by chance, weigh the economic costs of buying your home or you car? Did you consider that greed?


By JoshuaBuss on 8/14/2008 12:01:34 PM , Rating: 2
the walmarts and sams club around me in illinois are all lit up with skylights during the day... no artificial lights even come on unless it gets cloudy.. i'm genuinely impressed with that.

in fact, they're not the only ones doing that. menards was installing skylights last time i was there, and home depot already had them in too. it's actually much more pleasant in the stores with the natural lighting too..


Exposed to solar radiation
By phxfreddy on 8/12/2008 11:05:54 PM , Rating: 3
Oh my god !! the shoppers are being exposed to solar radiation. Radiation my god! don't they know the sun is a reactor??? Awful radiation us liberals do not understand because we have trouble with those trickly number thinglies.

Why can't we just put pinwheels on our cars to generate electricity??? ... its always windy when I drive! how about you???

Freemon Sandlewould




By Pythias on 8/13/2008 8:16:58 AM , Rating: 2
Thank you, Doctor Venkmman.




"We can't expect users to use common sense. That would eliminate the need for all sorts of legislation, committees, oversight and lawyers." -- Christopher Jennings

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