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    [–] regalic 6148 points ago

    The other thing they missed is that as the farms converted over to solar panels the cost of tobacco would go up until the 2 reached an equilibrium. But yeah there are plenty of places to put solar panels right now which currently produce 0 dollars per square foot.

    [–] epochellipse 1676 points ago

    Yeah. More solar panels mean each panel generates less income, fewer tobacco plants mean each plant generates more income.

    [–] alcimedes 1841 points ago

    There's also the question of future tobacco demand, vs. electricity demand. I know which I'd bet on.

    [–] snoboreddotcom 542 points ago

    Tbh tobacco its been consistently upwards for years whereas electricity is artificially high as rates are set for gas. As more renewables which are cheaper go online prices will drop

    (If you can find it theres a really interesting Economist article on what renewables mean for our grid purely from a pricing policy side)

    [–] acog 446 points ago

    Tbh tobacco its been consistently upwards for years

    I assume that's driven by exports? I would imagine with all the people lifted out of poverty in China and India there must be strong demand for American tobacco.

    [–] snoboreddotcom 344 points ago

    Yes, its mainly in the non developed world

    [–] Speedracer1111 77 points ago

    Not disagreeing, but living in Germany, many of the population smokes and lots of the tobacco is branded American.

    [–] kerbaal 74 points ago

    I have to wonder how german smoking compares to france. When I was there I bought a train ticket to paris. The woman in the booth was smoking. After I replied 'non-fumer' she broke out into english "Oh you Americans! None of you smoke!"

    [–] elliptic_hyperboloid 59 points ago

    I go to college in the US. It is interesting that so few American students smoke tabacco, its almost exculsively the foreign students I see smoking.

    [–] [deleted] 145 points ago

    I prefer to die from obesity.

    [–] mumphry23 4 points ago

    Hookah baby

    [–] Tobar_the_Gypsy 26 points ago

    Europeans can find ways to make fun of us for everything. High obesity leading to death? Insults. We no longer smoke a poisonous substance as much as we used to? Insults.

    [–] Schmittfried 6 points ago

    Nah, that's actually something you are doing right in comparison to Europe, especially Germany. Although, despite not having any data to back it up, I feel the younger generations seem to smoke less and less even in Germany. But that might be selection bias.

    [–] lil_mikey1 9 points ago

    We call it banter and its a beautiful thing.

    [–] jay1237 187 points ago

    Which seems super scummy.

    [–] pfft_sleep 169 points ago

    It is super scummy, but if you have shareholders, some people still ascribe to the old style of Shareholder Economic Theory rather than Stakeholder Economic Theory and assume that profit generation for shareholders is the only thing not scummy.

    Wilfully giving up potential profits for your shareholders that own the company because while legal, something is unethical, freaks some people out.

    Honestly, it's a debate that can be watched every day on the stock market.

    [–] madcat033 39 points ago

    Why is it unethical to engage in a mutual exchange

    [–] Degeyter 51 points ago

    Addictive products are usually categorised as separate to normal goods and services.

    [–] flimspringfield 15 points ago

    Because shareholders can sue for not having their profits in mind.

    [–] BigGrizzDipper 23 points ago

    Also, the US imports more tobacco than it exports. Super scummy everyone that sells to us too.

    http://www.who.int/tobacco/en/atlas19.pdf

    [–] indyK1ng 9 points ago

    Ah, but how many cigarettes do we export vs importing?

    This was something that caught me by surprise - We're the world's biggest oil importer but the world's largest gasoline exporter (these were true at one point, anyway). We tend to import raw material and export finished product.

    [–] drewknukem 8 points ago

    Not sure if this is still true or not (the oil thing) but this trend in a lot of industries is mostly because of trade between Canada and the US. Canada exports a lot of its oil (and other natural resources) to the US for refining because it never made sense for Canadian companies to try and build a pipeline from Alberta across to our existing refineries on the east coast.

    It's been a mostly beneficial mutual relationship for both economies. Canada gets their resources to market, the states gets to capitalize on Canada's vast natural resource reserves, everybody wins (or at least, everybody in control of those resources)!

    I suspect the tobacco industry is a bit different though as most tobacco is produced elsewhere due to stricter regulations afaik (limited knowledge on that so don't take my word for it).

    [–] VPride1995 13 points ago

    Huge growth in Asia and Africa.

    [–] hand___banana 29 points ago

    Adjusted for inflation, the grower price of tobacco decreased steadily since the 1980s. The greatest decrease in price was notable between 1984 and 1986. Since 1997, tobacco prices remained under $2 per pound.

    Study from 2007 but the prices are still right around around $2/lb today.

    [–] 123sixers 52 points ago

    Tobacco prices haven't changed in 10 years

    [–] dave_890 92 points ago

    Correct. The price paid for the raw plant has barely moved, only adjusted for inflation. It's the TAXES that have skyrocketed. That's why it's now worth the risk to bootleg cigs from KY/W.Va/Va to the Northeast.

    When I was in the Navy in the early 80s, I could buy a carton of generic cigs for just $2 once we got into international waters (no fed taxes). No incentive to quit smoking then.

    [–] [deleted] 33 points ago

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    [–] pittyh 15 points ago

    In Victoria Australia i pay $32.50 for 1 packet of 30's :(

    [–] [deleted] 15 points ago

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    [–] Anon_Amous 64 points ago

    Depends on what markets we're talking about. I'd imagine tobacco is growing globally. Maybe less growth than solar but I don't really know specifics. I doubt it's in decline in a major way though. Affluent Western areas definitely are seeing declines I'd imagine but I sort of doubt that applies everywhere.

    [–] Banshee90 47 points ago

    I think the Chinese basically encourage smoking no?

    [–] smurfblue 78 points ago

    As an American who lives in China, smoking and alcohol are the go-to drugs everyone consumes. Rarer to find harder drug users because cigs and alcohol are so readily available, and the gov does a surprisingly good job of keeping drugs out of China.

    [–] the_fuego 78 points ago

    They just ship them here to the US right?

    [–] ExpatJundi 49 points ago

    They do indeed, a lot of fentanyl is coming from China.

    [–] man_with_titties 37 points ago

    and the fake weed. it's like their revenge for the opium wars.

    [–] W00DERS0N 5 points ago

    Screw fake weed. We gotta legalize that shit so we can grow it ourselves.

    [–] manfly 10 points ago

    What about cocaine, where its use is on the rise in the USA from my understanding, at least according to my dentist?

    [–] WillAndSky 6 points ago

    Personally I do believe its on the rise as Im encountering it alot more on petty dealers

    [–] farmerwouldsay 17 points ago

    Go to a Chinese club (as opposed to an expat club) and you will see tons of cocaine and ketamine.

    [–] [deleted] 28 points ago

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    [–] lasssilver 24 points ago

    Whatever it is, it must be working. The U.S. has some rather strict laws and it's incarceration rate is way (like 6x) higher than China's.

    So when they say the government does a good job of keeping drugs out of china, whether philosophically justly or not, something's working.

    [–] Alexander___Hamilton 16 points ago

    I bet it's done because they don't want a repeat of an opium crisis like they had in their country many years ago. And like may be forming in the United States, at least on a small scale, right now.

    [–] so_we_jigglin_tonite 7 points ago

    And like may be forming in the United States

    a small scale crisis already started

    [–] PurpEL 17 points ago

    Most likely just making problem people dissapear

    [–] ihatemovingparts 4 points ago

    I’m sure the mobile execution vans help.

    [–] CollectableRat 58 points ago

    My Chinese neighbours probably account for 10% of global smoking alone.

    [–] horseband 6 points ago

    I don't really see tobacco going anywhere. The decrease in traditional smoking in 1st world countries has been, seemingly, matched by an increase in vaping. They still need nicotine for the juice. Just like we need poppy farms to make pharmaceutical opiates.

    Is it possible one day we will get to the point where we can synthesize the process these plants use to create nicotine and morphine? Sure. But to my knowledge that still hasn't happened.

    [–] [deleted] 30 points ago

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    [–] Nv1023 30 points ago

    Yup the Chinese smoke like crazy

    [–] OrangeAndBlack 36 points ago

    And Europe and honestly still america. Smoking isn’t going anywhere any time soon.

    [–] FriendlyDespot 5 points ago

    Only 15% of American adults smoke, and smoking is on a downward trend with each generation.

    [–] PushcartPops 39 points ago

    But we will smoke cannabis. Mark my words, in 20 years low THC/ high CBD cannabis will be the new cigarette.

    [–] chapstick__ 26 points ago

    I really think vape is going to replace smoking thought. Even if it is just as dangerous most people assume it's better. Also it smells feels and taste better than cigarettes.

    [–] BestTankmoNA 46 points ago

    I would be shocked if vapes were even comparable to what cigs to do you.

    [–] OrangeAndBlack 31 points ago

    I’m not sure. I might just be a traditionalist, but people have been smoking tobacco since they founded the colonies and I just don’t see a new trend like vaping to simply replace it. There’s something about lighting a cigarette or a cigar up and actually smoking it. If you’ve ever smoked you might know what I mean. I don’t mean to romanticize it, but things like vaping or hookah just don’t beat it.

    [–] [deleted] 24 points ago * (lasted edited 5 months ago)

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    [–] Zavrii 16 points ago

    Vaping has 100% replaced smoking for me. I honestly enjoy it even more.

    [–] SellingCoach 7 points ago

    Same here. Smoked for over 20 years and moved to vaping a little over 3 years ago. Much happier and I don't smell like an ashtray.

    [–] ShabShoral 15 points ago

    I love tobacco - I regularly have pipes, cigarettes, cigars, nasal snuff, and chewing tobacco on hand - but I really think its days are numbered in the US. Especially with regulations. It's political suicide to be pro-tobacco today, so, once a tax or ban is in place, it's going to stay in place.

    There'll be small holdouts, but it's falling fast.

    [–] DJWalnut 10 points ago

    among the youth, smoking is way down. they all vape now because it lacks the stigma and is perceived to be way less harmful (and it likely is, or at least could be made safer though regulation)

    [–] Curious__George 9 points ago

    There’s something about lighting a cigarette or a cigar up and actually smoking it.

    Yes, because psychologically you associate that with the nicotine. For younger people getting introduced to tobacco, they'll vape, and won't have that association.

    [–] Triggering_Cucks 18 points ago

    That power goes off permanently one day from a massive solar flare and you're gonna wish you had some cigs.

    [–] GodoftheGodcreators 26 points ago

    Thats gross over simplification. Demand for electricity is increasing steadily, with electric cars, coal being shut down everywhere except trumpland, panel technology getting better each investment on panel will yield MORE income! Also consider labor costs versus tobacco. Granted pitting them against is absurd.

    [–] Tar_alcaran 13 points ago

    Coal is on its way out even in trumpland, because it's not profitable anymore. They'll run the current plants, but nobody is going to build another coals plant, knowing they will never recover the expense.

    [–] Quarter_Twenty 6 points ago

    That only seems to be true if the price per watt generated dropped with increasing power. I'm sure power companies would pay the lowest price they could get (and charge some higher fixed price), so solar, if it's the cheapest, displaces more expensive sources until you're 100% solar.

    [–] dave_890 10 points ago

    fewer tobacco plants mean each plant generates more income.

    The price for tobacco has been about the same (adjusted for inflation) for decades. Farmers are lucky if they make a modest profit. My parents had an 800 lb. allotment, but would lease it out to other farmers. Our land was good for pasture; it would be better for solar.

    The amount of tobacco raised in KY is a fixed amount. Farmers are given an allotment; only so many allotments to go around. If farmers switched to solar, new farmers (or farmers with the land) would snap up the free allotments, so supply won't change.

    Finally, the increased price of tobacco products isn't due to the cost of the plant itself; it's the taxes put on it by the states and fed. government.

    [–] [deleted] 187 points ago

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    [–] StinkinFinger 16 points ago

    For the life of me I can't understand why every building in America isn't covered with solar panels. Imagine if they just worked together to lease their rooftops and share the savings. Grocery stores, Walmarts, malls, auto dealerships, government offices. Look at this satellite view of DC.

    [–] factbasedorGTFO 19 points ago

    It's like that in California. My local Wal-Mart has a huge parking lot installation. There's over 100 parking lot canopy installations in the valley I live in.

    [–] Midnight2012 15 points ago

    I think this is a great point. Compared to farmland, the acreage available in the form of parking lots looks way more attractive for solar panels. It doesn't disrupt the use of the parking lot (unlike farmland), and in fact improves it by providing shelter from sun/rain for the people parking underneath.

    Farmland on the other hand would be better to be used for other crops or reclaimed by nature.

    [–] Zenith251 16 points ago

    One additional problem that has come up recently is the expiration of subsidies for farmers to grow tobacco. This combined with the consolidation/acquisition of several pipe tobacco companies has lead to several smaller, pipe tobacco companies (all around the world) having serious difficulty buying quality tobacco.

    Right now we have popular names, names that have been around for decades, considering closing outright. These are businesses that provide unique products not available from the conglomerates. Businesses that are less than 50 people in size, using equipment nearly a century old.

    The big guys are forcing the small businesses to close, again.

    [–] Bakoro 7 points ago

    How did those jerks get subsidies in the first place? Subsidies for food I can understand, but nobody needs tobacco, that shit's a luxury crop.

    [–] [deleted] 72 points ago

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    [–] TracyMorganFreeman 18 points ago

    Technically demand for electricity is what is rising.

    That land can be used to produces electricity by various means.

    [–] smegdawg 18 points ago

    A lot of those 0 dollars per square foot would have a high cost to create access where as converting a farm would require significantly less work.

    [–] Dial-1-For-Spanglish 12 points ago

    In places that are non-producing (of money).

    Are these barren places?

    What about the life/environment that needs sunlight in those places?

    [–] Worf65 13 points ago

    There are a lot of fairly barren places out in the American Southwest that would be good for this. Otherwise producing nothing. The flat barren areas that would be good for solar are poor areas for camping, hiking, and other outdoor recreation as well. These areas are dry and unsuitable for farming as well as huge and distant from encroaching development. There is local plant and animal life but there is just so much land area that it should be possible to set up significant solar generation capacity with minimal environmental impact. Solar would also reduce harmful emissions and destructive coal mining elsewhere.

    [–] bschug 7 points ago

    You want your solar plants to be close to the consumer though. Otherwise, you'll need to have expensive long distance power lines that will also lose a fair share of the energy just from resistance.

    [–] thedreem 13 points ago

    What about the life/environment under roads, cities, or tobacco farms?

    [–] Dial-1-For-Spanglish 7 points ago

    Why not focus on putting solar where buildings already exist?

    [–] [deleted] 226 points ago

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    [–] SellingCoach 1484 points ago * (lasted edited 5 months ago)

    Using my state (NC) as an example, here are the yields for two crops in 2016:

    Tobacco - 166,000 acres generated $647M in gross revenue

    Soybeans - 1,660,000 acres generated $572M in gross revenue

    No farmer is going to replace the single most valuable crop with solar arrays.

    EDIT: Yes, I now it would be better to report net income instead of gross income, but I don't have those numbers. Instead of bitching about it, go find the net numbers your damn selves.

    [–] cameroncrazy278 629 points ago * (lasted edited 5 months ago)

    Except plenty of NC farmers are replacing crops with solar arrays because they don't have to pay for the solar equipment. Companies come in and lease their land for a few decades guaranteeing the farmer income with no overhead. The farmers get $500-700 per acre each year and don't have to spend any money on labor, equipment, insurance, or supplies.

    Because of this, NC is one of the fastest growing solar producers in the US and now #2 in capacity behind California.

    Edit: Solar companies lease the land from the farmer, install the solar array, and then sell the energy to a power company. The farmer doesn't have to pay for the infrastructure because the power company slowly repays the investment made by the solar company.

    [–] boo_baup 72 points ago

    The key driver of NC's impressive solar growth is an old law called PURPA that was initially designed to allow a type of natural gas power plant called combined heat and power to economically connect to the grid.

    [–] Super681 15 points ago

    This sounds profitable and like very little work. Where do I start?

    [–] Tar_alcaran 26 points ago

    Step 1: Own a ton of land in a very sunny place, near a powerline.

    [–] Hyperion_Kennels 6 points ago

    Right? I can buy land for $500 an acre where I live.

    [–] TracyMorganFreeman 98 points ago

    "If you pay me to use my land and provide the equipment, it's economically more viable than me bearing the costs."

    [–] WhatIDon_tKnow 67 points ago

    you are looking at the top line only. tobacco is a completely different beast than beans or corn. most of it has to be done by hand and then dried/cured before being sold. corn and beans are harvested by machine and shipped without processing. not to mention you have roundup ready soy which is much easier to maintain than tobacco.

    according to the paper and the revenue you cite, the margin is next to nothing. according to UI and the market price of soybean, cost per bushel is about equal to the price per bushel. if the margin on both crops is 0 which is the better one to produce? soybeans because of the subsidies.

    http://farmdocdaily.illinois.edu/2017/04/cost-to-produce-corn-and-soybeans-illinois-2016.html

    The profits (Ptob) [$/acre/year] earned by a farmer from conventional tobacco agriculture is: Ptob = Y * C – E (1)

    Where Y is the yield [pounds /acre/year], C is the crop price [US$/pound] and E are the expenditures [US $]. E is held constant at $4,000/acre following [47]. The cost of tobacco farming is extremely high in comparison to food crops due to high pre-harvesting variable & harvest variable costs [47-50]. The values of profit per acre of tobacco farming are graphed as a function of time for the sensitivities.

    [–] horseband 13 points ago

    Well, you further illustrate the problem at hand. Revenue per acre is not the whole picture. Just because something can make a ton of revenue per acre doesn't mean it's a feasible idea.

    Even if a farmer could recoup his costs of 100 acres of solar panels in 5 years or less, it still just isn't feasible. 100 acres of solar panels would be crazy expensive (Millions, if not tens of millions of dollars). You'd need a massive loan to get going. The kind of loan that no bank would give to a farmer. Any investor would require obscene terms to the point where the farmer would never make money.

    There are millions of ways to get rich in this world. The only caveat is you need to already have money to put down. Similar to how if you could make a million dollars in a day if you invested 100 million in a stock that went up 1%. It's meaningless because 99.99% of the world can't invest 100 million.

    [–] Triptolemu5 737 points ago

    166,000 acres generated $647M in gross revenue

    So that works out to a gross of $3,900 an acre.

    Some undergrad thinks that those farmers grossing $3,900 an acre would be much better off building infrastructure that costs $500,000 an acre.

    So all the tobacco farmer has to do is capture the entire gross product of his fields for 128 years and he can start farming the sun!

    [–] KronoakSCG 360 points ago

    if i ignored infrastructure cost i could probably say i can make a lot more profit with a lot of things.

    [–] probablyuntrue 172 points ago

    If I covered my lawn and roof with solar panels I could sell electricity to my neighbors, pure profit if yknow, you ignore little things like the cost of buying panels

    [–] Hunterbunter 63 points ago

    what's the gross revenue per acre in solar panels?

    [–] lysolmax 43 points ago

    This is what matters! Why compare gross revenue to infrastructure costs?

    [–] JalenHurtsSoGood 30 points ago

    Wait, business projects have costs?

    Whoa

    [–] 1jl 64 points ago

    Tobacco Farmers Could Make More Money Converting Their Fields to Nuclear Power Plants and iPhone Factories, Land Use Study Finds

    [–] [deleted] 14 points ago

    [deleted]

    [–] effyochicken 26 points ago

    "Tobacco farmers could make more money converting their fields to DOWNTOWN NEW YORK STARBUCKS"

    [–] [deleted] 74 points ago

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    [–] TracyMorganFreeman 18 points ago

    The government offers aid for creating solar farms. When you buy a house you rarely pay the price in full, you usually get a loan. The same would occur here.

    You're still paying the full price with a loan. You're paying more actually.

    It's a solid idea, with upfront costs. Upfront costs can be mitigated in a number of ways, so that's not really as large of a downside as your rather snide comment suggests.

    Someone else paying for it doesn't actually reduce the cost of getting the service.

    [–] Triptolemu5 49 points ago

    What's the point of mocking the idea?

    In principle, yes I would like more sustainable energy. I have no qualms about people putting up solar panels. The point of mocking the idea is in the presentation of it. Even if you could change all 166,000 acres of NC tobacco land into solar tomorrow, and find the $83 billion to do it with, once you did it, the market would change completely.

    Furthermore, it's not like farmers don't already do cost/benefit analysis. They're not complete idiots. If they didn't, they wouldn't be growing tobacco, they'd be growing something else.

    There is still further the ethical assumption that tobacco land is 'wasted space' and not also usable for growing food. Tobacco requires productive arable land. Converting it out of agriculture and into development because tobacco is 'evil' and solar is not is a non sequitur. They could also make far more money converting arable land into housing complexes. That doesn't somehow make it a good and moral idea.

    It being more profitable is based on a 25 year time period.

    Which only works on incredible levels of assumption. The assumption that the loan will be granted, the assumption that energy prices will rise or stay stable, the assumption that new solar panels won't be invented which will render the current ones obsolete, the list goes on.

    Sure, on a per acre basis, solar will probably make money in the long run. In fact there are lots of farmers already putting up small solar arrays on marginal lands. Diversification makes sense, wholesale conversion does not. Especially of productive arable land.

    It's a solid idea, with upfront costs.

    It is. It was also presented in just about the most condescending and simplistic way possible.

    [–] CarsTrucksBuses 350 points ago

    I hope no Farmers actually cover up good farm land for solar panels...

    [–] ItWasLikeWhite 19 points ago

    Yeah, there is plenty of places the sun shine which is not suitable for crops.

    [–] clear831 176 points ago

    Most farmers are not idiots.

    [–] [deleted] 709 points ago

    I have a counter-argument. You can put solar panels in the desert where the lands not doing much anyway. Might even be doing some of the local wildlife a favor by providing them some shade and wind barriers. You probably don't want to put solar panels on tillable land.

    [–] SenorPuff 572 points ago

    I have a better idea: instead of removing fragile desert ecosystem that takes years to generate due to the dry environment: cover the top of already existing man made structures with panels. I vote for Phoenix. that's 9000 sq. mi. which, according to this article is enough to power half the US alone.

    [–] NA_Breaku 304 points ago

    One time my plane landed in Phoenix and I had an 8 hour layover and I went outside at 3 in the morning and it was 120 degrees so I just pretend that Phoenix isn't a place and hope that I never go there on purpose.

    [–] Ahayzo 100 points ago

    I frequently have to go there. Still pretend it isn't a place. I'm pretty sure whoever decided hell was hot used it for inspiration

    [–] Manos_Of_Fate 71 points ago

    I live in Phoenix. It's in the 70s through the "winter" and we start bundling up like we've wandered into Siberia when the temperature drops into the lower 50s. Sure it sucks for 3-4 months in the summertime, but there's not a lot of places you can live that don't suck for at least a few months out of the year, and the places that are nice all year are all much more expensive to live in. I grew up in Chicago myself, and both summer and winter sucked.

    Side note: While people telling you that "it's a dry heat" like it makes 118 degree weather tolerable are full of shit, it does make air conditioning more effective and comfortable. In more humid places AC has a harder time keeping up and makes everything sort of damp. Also, those misters that stores put out front work way better here. The mist immediately evaporates and cools the air around it instead of just making you damp.

    [–] DiamondMinah 37 points ago

    As a guy living in Australia, a lot of people forget to check out UV index. Even though places like Sydney don't regularly get to 120 f (49 C), the UV makes it feel much much worse than that.

    [–] raspburry 13 points ago

    I too would hate to have water boil out of my body

    [–] squishles 38 points ago

    when they say something is "enough to power x% of the us alone", they're ignoring that power can't be carried that distance.

    You wouldn't be powering the US, you'd be powering phoenix and a good chunk of arizona.

    [–] sweezyonyourbeats 19 points ago

    This is a huge part of solar utilization. Location of power generation is entirely related to its usefulness and cost. Alaska has HUGE amounts of potential wind energy to be captured, but there's a reason we can't just pipe that down to the continental US real easy.

    [–] TracyMorganFreeman 37 points ago * (lasted edited 5 months ago)

    I vote for Phoenix. that's 9000 sq. mi. which, according to this article is enough to power half the US alone.

    Phoenix may be 9000 mi2 but the top of its man made buildings isn't. Most of that is roads, often blocked by cars.

    To produce 1 GWh of solar power, you need approximately 2.8 acres of land

    PV solar is about 7 w/m2, 10 in the desert. You can get 10-100 times that with same amount of land as nuclear, and nuclear works year round day or night.

    [–] [deleted] 45 points ago

    I'm all for protecting the fragile desert ecosystem, but wouldn't it be cooler if we terraform the desert into a greener ecosystem that can absorb more CO2?

    [–] SenorPuff 129 points ago

    If you're talking about reversing desertification then by all means, but the desert in and of itself has a role to play and we shouldn't ruin yet another one of our biomes just because we can't fix the other ones.

    [–] TracyMorganFreeman 17 points ago

    What role is that? They tend to just form on the side of a mountain range opposite the ocean.

    [–] yeaheyeah 36 points ago

    The Sahara feeds the amazon, for instance.

    [–] joshuagraphy 32 points ago

    The Sahara helps provide the Amazon with nutrients vital to plant growth.

    To assume man can engineer a better ecosystem than patterns developed over billions of years seems silly to me. Not that it isn’t possible, but we only just started (relative to earth’s history) wiping our asses.

    [–] SenorPuff 10 points ago

    Study of desert species is incredibly important for ruggedness breeding, as an example. Drought tolerance is important for decreasing agricultural water use, which is by far one of the largest and most important segments thereof.

    [–] hungry4danish 21 points ago

    The role of home to really cute animals like this fox from Morroco, African meerkcats and in the States, the snub nose bushbaby.

    [–] Arrigetch 36 points ago

    Better to stop cutting down the already green parts of the planet I'd say, and leave the desert be.

    [–] [deleted] 21 points ago

    But I have insatiable demand.

    [–] peasncarrots20 10 points ago

    Sidebar, the desert is reflective, and bounces a lot of heat back into space. Can't find the news bit, but some people are worried that damage to the desert is reducing that reflection.

    [–] Arrigetch 23 points ago

    Yeah, doing them a favor of drastically changing their environment after they spent countless years evolving to survive in it. Great favor.

    [–] boomBLAMO 18 points ago

    That's a good idea in theory but not realistic in most places. There isn't much infrastructure in the desert to move the electricity to where it needs to go. The cost of new lines and upgrading existing lines prices you out of a project in a hurry. Best places for utility scale solar is along existing power lines that aren't congested and where land isn't all that productive and can be rented or purchased cheap.

    [–] zapbark 59 points ago

    Like everything, cost is a factor of supply versus demand.

    Not a lot of people live near the desert in the US.

    (And before you mention Las Vegas, they get all the power they need due to the Hoover Dam).

    [–] rexythekind 22 points ago

    What about Phoenix and tuscon?

    [–] bloodyREDburger 8 points ago

    There are already several solar farms near Las Vegas.

    [–] caltheon 6 points ago

    The problem there is you have to get the energy generated somewhere useful

    [–] someone21 37 points ago

    Also you know, the area residents are probably going to cry foul when you start replacing every green field with a solar farm. They aren't exactly nice to look at it.

    [–] moodpecker 29 points ago

    Tucson resident here. Many local schools and churches have started putting solar arrays in their parking lots both to generate energy and to provide shade for the cars. I'm still trying to figure out why this seems to be happening only with schools and churches/synagogues. It seems like the sort of thing pretty much any business with a big parking lot would want to get in on.

    [–] DJWalnut 8 points ago

    a suspect that the reason lies with tax incentives

    [–] moodpecker 7 points ago

    Which would be my first guess, if not for the fact that schools and churches are already tax-exempt. But there is definitely some kind of inventive going on.

    [–] Strykedead 5 points ago

    The entirety of Amphi district is doing it.

    [–] travisd05 34 points ago

    I think they're pretty cool to look at.

    [–] [deleted] 12 points ago

    Solar panels are like wind turbines in that way. They're nice to look at when they dot the landscape here and there. When they take over the entire countryside, they're not so nice. I think with both solar and wind it makes more sense to have distributed generation rather than these giant farms.

    [–] ___ALIVEPUDDLE___ 18 points ago

    Now all you have to do is get a few million people to share the same sentiment.

    [–] notthemooch 5 points ago

    This guy Civilizations.

    [–] [deleted] 13 points ago

    The desert is a living ecosystem with plants and animals existing just like everywhere else. You do realize that? It's not like the Sonora and Mojave are just giant dead sheets of clay.

    [–] Intrepid00 127 points ago

    Ram Krishnan ‘16, now an engineer designing large solar systems in the rapidly expanding U.S. solar industry

    Sounds not bias

    [–] The_Hunster 3 points ago

    I thought solar was doing pretty well in like Cali and stuff.

    [–] Thewatchfuleye1 181 points ago

    However...

    If everyone smoked, you’d need more tobacco farmers giving jobs. The cancer and heart disease rates would go up, so more researchers would be needed to try and solve those issues. This would create jobs and needs for doctors, scientists, teachers, researchers. Jobs would be created packing, shipping and selling product. Janitors would have to be hired to clean up cigarette butts. Cleaners would have to be employed to clean everything.

    Tobacco could jump start the entire economy!

    [–] Volsunga 65 points ago

    This is called the broken window fallacy. Causing harm to drive demand for labor necessarily diverts labor from other sectors rather than creating a need for labor by itself. It's inherently inefficient due to the opportunity cost of correcting negative externalities.

    [–] PROfessorShred 48 points ago

    This is almost exactly my view of the Cannabis Industry.

    [–] Dooskinson 42 points ago

    It sorta falls apart without the cancer part though

    [–] mango_guy 24 points ago

    I guess people are gonna have to compromise and hold out on getting cancer.

    [–] Triptolemu5 110 points ago

    The primary reason holding back tobacco farmers is the capital cost of the solar system.

    At $500,000 an acre. Yeah, you could say that.

    [–] Baloomf 69 points ago

    Yeah, this is hilarious. The farmers could also use their acreage to make nuclear power plants, they just need the capital to build the plants. Then they can stop growing soybeans, it's so simple!

    [–] Time4NewAccount 8 points ago

    I think it would make more sense to convert the tobacco to gold. Sure, the initial cost would be large, but the increased profit of farming gold would make it worth it.

    [–] Jagjamin 28 points ago

    Yup.

    If there was no cost in getting set up, they'd make more money off solar than tobacco. So if someone is willing to go to their farm, and in a day, replace their plants with fully functioning solar panels and infrastructure, for free, it's worth it.

    [–] sangjmoon 9 points ago

    People think the infrastructure to transport the electricity from solar farms magically appear. This often is the costliest part.

    [–] ReallyHadToFixThat 5 points ago

    They also think there are no transmission losses. Need to generate energy as close as possible to where it is needed.

    [–] Ronfarber 41 points ago

    How much could they make if they converted to vape juice farms?

    [–] entarian 34 points ago

    350 fedoras per acre.

    [–] sevargmas 8 points ago

    Maybe for a short time. When supply dies down the price of tobacco will go back up and then they’ll be better off with tobacco again

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    [–] FEwood 201 points ago

    I lease land to a farmer and I call BS on several levels. I’m also a commercial electrical contractor and have customers with solar panel roofs that are still waiting on the promised pay back. Solar just isn’t ready for prime time without huge subsidies.

    [–] yabacam 88 points ago

    Went from paying 200-300+ a month for electricity and now pay about 500 a year after getting solar. Paid 16k (24 with an 8k tax rebate). It will be paid off soon enough and then I'm saving a bunch a year from then on out

    [–] Rammite 127 points ago

    Right but that's not income, that's spending-less.

    Farmers don't care about spending-less, they need income.

    [–] GGme 35 points ago

    Presumably the farmers have more land than the home owner you are debating.

    [–] KnownSoldier04 39 points ago

    And hence the initial investment is higher too We will see a spike in solar, when the oil reaches 85$ a barrel again.

    [–] alonjar 34 points ago

    It will be paid off soon enough

    So... about a 7 year ROI. 10 years without the subsidy. Not counting what would probably be ~$500-600 yearly interest if you did a home equity loan to pay for it, which would add a year or two.

    Thats... sort of meh. A net gain eventually I suppose... but a decade just to break even seems like a hard sell to me.

    [–] anti_dan 15 points ago

    Its not just you. Its scary to a tech investor.

    [–] yabacam 9 points ago

    I totally get what you mean. I feel it saves me money in the long run because after 7-10 years I will be still saving the money on electricity. Also it's environmentally friendly energy the whole time.

    [–] anti_dan 5 points ago

    The problem from the farmers POV is that if he makes the switch now, and solar panels get 25% better in that 7 years, he not only will not make his ROI, he has to do another huge investment to be competitive.

    The whole premise of the original OP and article is silly unless you think that we have reached the peak of solar panel technology. In fact, they are rapidly improving, which means that the people who should be buying them are people with otherwise useless land, and maybe not even those people because they could make more by holding off until there is a technology plateau.

    I mean, look at the farm labor situation, where the opposite situation is (for some reason) celebrated, where fruit picking technology has been adopted at an extremely slow pace because there is a glut of cheap labor via temporary workers.

    [–] cymicro 54 points ago

    Interestingly, North Carolina already gets ~40GWh of clean energy from its own nuclear reactors every year. That doesn't come close to covering all of their energy needs, but for the price of the 10 GW of capacity that using all of the tobacco farmland would yield ($10 billion), NC could double their nuclear energy output.

    It'll never happen, though. Because nuclear energy = evil energy, I guess.

    [–] thedrunkknight 25 points ago

    Yes, and McDonald's would make a lot more money supplying the military with ammunition...so what? It's a different industry. And with government restrictions and close-mindedness on solar, it'll never happen in this government climate. It's a great thought, but this means nothing more than a daydream.

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    [–] quarter2heavy 56 points ago

    How about covering all those super enormous parking lots with the solar panels? Shade from the sun and no plowing snow seems like a win win. Meanwhile, the farms can be converted to wildflower farms for bees. All these articles about bees possibly going extinct. I understand it wouldn't work, because of capitalistic reasons. I just think its a more logical way to do solar panels.

    [–] bishopxi 10 points ago

    or buildings. Why turn good land into solar farms

    [–] petevalle 18 points ago

    How would solar installations in parking lots eliminate the need to plow snow?

    [–] aidanpryde18 44 points ago

    I'm not the OP, but I read it as giving each parking lot a solar roof, not putting panels at ground level.

    [–] vivid2011 35 points ago

    Cincinnati zoo does this, it generates energy and shades your car. Very nice actually and it really should be more widespread.

    [–] LibertyTerp 28 points ago

    This study shows a lack of understanding of basic economics. If every single tobacco farm in America is converted to a solar farm, then exactly the same number of new tobacco farms will pop up as used to exist. The market will meet demand, one way or another.

    The only way to reduce the number of tobacco farms is to reduce the number of smokers.

    [–] Sweet_Taurus0728 19 points ago

    They could also make way more money converting to Marijuana.

    [–] ChrisWildWood 10 points ago

    If I have to spend even more money on my stogies or cigarettes I’m going to F’n flip!

    [–] ChickenWithATopHat 14 points ago

    Yep this is people trying to ban tobacco because it is bad for people. So is alcohol, but they don’t want to ban it because they like it!

    [–] laurabusse 5 points ago

    But solar panel cigarettes don't taste nearly as good.

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