Posts Tagged ‘Financing Renewable Energy’


Friday, December 19th, 2008

I don’t know about you, but I don’t stoop down to pick up pennies any more.  And judging from the increasing number of them gracing our sidewalks and parking lots, I’m not alone.  You can’t buy anything with them — -it takes a whole pocket-full to score a pack of gum at the checkout counter of a 7-11.  When I get home at night, I generally toss them on the nearest countertop where they accumulate until they’re transferred to a jar in the closet to await some undefined day in the future when I lug the jar off to a bank to confront a reluctant teller who doesn’t want anything to do with them.  In short, pennies are kind of a nuisance. 

But a penny here and a penny there, and after a while you’re talking about real money.

In my first suggestion blog to our new government (Suggestion No. 1: Put Solar Panels Where the Sun Shines) I proposed that the government open up solar farms where people could install their panels and maximize their investment — -ie. zones of maximum sunlight.  I would like to expand that solar field with this supplemental suggestion: start building a solar field paid for by gathering up all the pennies left over after every transaction in America.  If I buy a Big Mac and fries for $4.32 at my local golden arch, three pennies get shipped off to the PFHSP (Pennies From Heaven Solar Project).  If my rich neighbor buys another Jaguar XKE for $92,865.04, his left over penny joins my Big Mac three and together, they head for the California desert.  Eventually, you’re talking about a lot of solar collectors.

And here’s the really cool part: our Big Mac/Jaguar solar panel is pregnant.  The minute it is installed and points at the sun, it starts to have babies. Solar panels (and wind generators) start producing capital immediately upon activation (see Suggestion No. 3: Try Solar Alchemy).  A cardinal rule of the PFHSP is that ALL MONEY PRODUCED FROM THE PROJECT MUST BE REINVESTED IN CREATING MORE SOLAR PANELS.  Eventually our Big Mac/Jaguar panel will produce enough money to buy a Little Mac/VW.  And like the happy family that they are, Big Mac and Little Mac start immediately to work on Tiny Mac.  The time it took to buy Little Mac is now cut in half because both Big Mac and Little Mac are contributing.  Tiny Mac soon shows up in record time and immediately joins with the family in producing Micro Mac.
And so on.  And so on.

What you end up getting is a happy geometric progression.  And it all happens because I like hamburgers and my neighbor likes fancy cars.

Now, of course, there’s going to be chunk of bureaucratic hassle involved in setting up a collection system for all those pennies, but I have no doubt that it can be done.  People might even be willing to dump their loose pocket pennies into the mix (or their squirreled away closet jars).  But the point is this: it’s an easy way to jump start the global solar transition.  It can be done.  It should be done.  And it rids my pocket of that bothersome pile of change that’s always banging up against my leg.  Who knows, I might even stoop down and pick up a penny or two if I knew it was going to go to a good cause.


P.S.  A note to any government official who looks covetously at that river of pennies headed south toward the desert.  DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT!  It’s the Rio del Sol and is not intended for any other purpose.   May the curse of a thousand Tibetan monks turn your Johnny Walker Black to elephant urine should you touch a penny of it!