For most people, the very north of Michigan, the Keweenaw Peninsula, on the shore of Lake Superior, might seem an unlikely place to get electricity from solar energy. But Professor Rolf Peterson of Michigan Technical University, well-known for leading the long-term study of wolves of Isle Royale National Park, thought differently. He installed a photovoltaic system on his house in Houghton, MI. Houghton, on the Keweenaw Peninsula and the home of Michigan Tech, gets 12 feet of snow, has 179 cloudy days, and has an average January low temperature is 8°F.
It’s common to believe that solar energy can be useful only in hot and very sunny places, like California and Arizona. But Professor Peterson’s data shows that solar energy can be a net energy benefit (see the graph below).
True, Houghton warms up in the summer, its average July low is 55° F, its average July high is 76° F. But it’s generally a cold and rather cloudy place. I’m familiar with it because Houghton is the jumping-off place to Isle Royale National Park, where I did research for five years.