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Comment Re:Chinese Subsidies (Score 1) 415

There is still the issue of transmitting and storing that power but yeah, it's entirely feasible that solar could - eventually - take a huge chunk out of the market for baseload generation. It would appear that the subsidies are having their intended effect -- inflating the market enough to drive down the costs associated with production and stimulate research. If and when it works, there will be a lot of unhappy energy producers out there who are not making the appropriate renewables investments today - however, if they are in that camp they probably don't know which way the wind is blowing anyway (and wont be quite smart enough to crush it entirely as a result). I think if we have to get there eventually, what's the harm in letting china share part of the costs? We all win in the end why delay the future.

Comment Re:CYA by the White House (Score 2) 415

You're burying the lead here guys. The tarrif is supposedly in response to unfair competition (dumping) - not the larger underlying issues of endemic competitive advantages / disadvantages. Equally good and valid discussion but here the larger issue seems to be - is the capability to produce "green" energy sources from within the country crucial enough to protect at the expense of the taxpayers.

Comment Re:But isn't it still slightly helpful to the poor (Score 1) 415

Peak load during summer months in the US when solar generation is at its best (and power demand is at its highest) would be a good example of this. More solar panels mean less time spent running "peaker" units (that are only turned up when extra energy is needed to feed the grid). Baseload electrical generation is not that variable. Interestingly enough energy usage patterns are not the same in all parts of the world. England for example uses more electricity during the winter (for heat) than they do during the summer so it's good to note that this example does not work well in all contexts.

Comment Re:Chinese Subsidies (Score 1) 415

It's really tricky though. We are massively subsidizing our domestic solar industry as well to enable production at below the true cost because we care about it as a means of domestic energy production. In the end import taxes are not going to make up for the fact that it's cheaper and more efficient to make some of these things overseas now. Are the chinese playing fair? Probably not. Does it really matter in the long run? Probably not.

Comment Re:Probably not as simple as it seems (Score 1) 104

I don't have any greater faith in Microsoft research than I have in any other organization (including tiny start-ups who also choose to file patents). One of the protections is litigation. Many silly patents that actually make it to that step end up defeated because greater amounts of resources are put into finding prior art that specifically conflicts with the method which was patented (and litigated over). I would not be shocked or troubled if someone immediately posted valid prior art, but it is a little troubling that few of the people contributing to this discussion understand what that actually means. Fight the battle on terms which actually give you a shot at victory!

Comment Re:Probably not as simple as it seems (Score 1) 104

My point is that they are patenting something which may not have been done before. The ends may be similar but the means are different, and the means are what matter for patents - as they should. The mechanism is specifically designed to maintain an incentive to come up with new and better ways of achieving the same purpose.

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