Most of us are so focused toward converting sunlight into electricity that we overlook the biggest residential energy user of all - home furnaces, space heaters , even air polluting fireplaces and wood stoves. My idea is not going to replace them entirely but can do the job every bit as good whenever the sun shines. If it is foggy or raining, we can always go back to the old standbys. If the sun is shining, turn them off and switch to my idea that uses simple mirrors to reflect sunlight through windows and even sliding glass doors. We can borrow the suntracking mechanism from the solar tower with those heliostats all around it and retrofit with mirrors so that we don't need to go out and readjust the mirrors every hour manually. Mirrors doesn't need to use any glass panes as there are already new kinds of mirrors that reflect as effectively as the glass mirrors. There are already some kind of mylar based reflecting surfaces that using bright aluminum coatings. Silver can be used as well. We are too focused on producing kilowatts from the sun , but we can also focus on producing BTUs (British thermal units) as well. Nearly all utility ratepayers usually pay for both fuel and electricity. Some use natural gas, heating oil, firewood, etc which is measured in BTUs not kilowatts. Some of us do have electric furnaces, water heaters, of course. Generally speaking, it is far cheaper and more efficient to convert sunlight into BTUs with reflective surfaces than kilowatts with photovoltaics. People don't seem to grasp that simple concept of producing BTUs from the sun very well. This is the real dilemma with our solar energy picture. Solar thermal technologies are already everywhere , but they are not being marketed efficiently. Photovoltaics which are far less efficient and far more aggressively marketed at greater costs to our governments through much heavier paid in tariffs and subsidies. Solar thermal technologies will use aluminum extensively , yet we are not using it as much as we should. There are already excess inventories of idle aluminum lying around in the ports. What is going on?
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