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Solar Panels Don't Work!

In all the stories about Solyndra, no one talked about how shadows from the tubes cut down on the power.

They found out the hard way in Livermore, Calif. There a movie theater got a lot of attention for installing a roof top solar array -- first of its kind when it was installed in 2009. A year later, technicians found out the system was producing 25% less power than projected.

The movie theater had no idea. I'm not sure they ever found out.

The only laboratory that ever tested the actual performance of Solyndra products figured it out. But it was in Germany and did not receive much attention. Said one energy web site:

the report claims the Solyndra module's shadow blocked most if not all of the sunlight before hitting the reflector foil installed below the module, allowing only a small portion of reflected sunlight to hit the backside of the module.

This is the same place where 100 reporters covered President Obama's visit there in 2010, and not one took a moment to figure out why Solyndra's auditors said the company was "not a going concern."

Like First Solar's panels, how would you know? You don't.

No. 3 is this: The darn things don't work -- at all. In San Diego, the local Space theater and museum asked some people to check its panels. As usual, they were installed with lots of fanfare.

But one year later, they were surprised that squirrels and trees had reduced their solar output to zero.

A public utility in a southern state had the same experience. A solar company wanted to field test a new energy product, and the engineers at the utility said they could test it on their system.

Soon, 10 engineers were tromping around the roof of the utility's headquarters, looking for best place to hook up their device.

"These panels don't work," said one of the engineers with the new product. "There is no power coming out of these panels."

Engineers for the utility said "Your instruments are wrong. We are sure the panels work."

So the utility's engineers checked with their instruments.

Sure enough: Nothing.

These stories go on and on and on. They don't work but no one cares because most people put them up for the publicity and marketing. Not energy. The movie theater Web site brags it has: "the second largest solar power system on the roof of a movie theatre anywhere in the world!"

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