Amazon's Mighty Wind (Cleantech Talk #38)
Summary: Episode 38 of Cleantech Talk kicks off with a discussion of how, while China may be overperforming with its solar panel buildout, those panels are underperforming due to the low air quality there. Which is a polite way of saying that coal-combustion aerosols are reducing solar panels’ electricity harvest -- by up to a third! (Dark aerosols, like soot, tend to absorb light; other aerosols such as sulfates and nitrates, reflect light. In both cases, the aerosols prevent light from reaching solar panels below.) There’s a Laffer Curve at play here, Laffer Curve being a wonkish way of describing the Goldilocks principle that the ideal porridge is between the two extremes of hot and cold. A fellow named Arthur Laffer once pointed out that if a government wanted to maximize revenue, it shouldn’t set the tax rates too high or too low. To his everlasting credit, he pointed out that others had the idea before him, but the name “Laffer Curve” has stuck.