As a solar industry employee, I tend to pay attention when my go-to periodicals (Economist, NY Times, WSJ) write an article about something other than the failure of module manufacturers or Chinese tariffs. Onto the Journal’s “The
Stupidity Sunshine Index.” I’m not really sure what I was expecting, but the gist is to take really expensive locales and test which places give you the most hours of sunshine for your dollar. I wouldn’t have even bothered writing about the stupidity of this article, but as a subscriber of WSJ online, I have no idea how it has held a spot on the home page for a week.
Knight Frank, a real estate “consulting” firm, chose 14 vacation spots seemingly at random, and then divided the average cost of a four-bedroom house by the hours of sunshine per year to calculate a cost per hour of sunshine per year, eg. a 4-bedroom house in Barbados costs $2.3mm and gets 10 hours of sunshine per day 2.3mm/(365*10) = $630 per hour of sunlight. Where to begin?
- The sample seems sort of random. I never heard of Mustique because it’s got all of 100 villas. Of course it’s going to be expensive. People who go there are going to escape crowds, and annoying backpackers like me. If someone wants to maximize their sunshine per dollar, they will go to Scottsdale, or El Centro or the Saharan Desert.
- Never use average for a data set bounded by zero. The houses at the high end are going to skew the average higher than the median, which is what people mean when they ask what an average house costs.
- Units!! Why would the one time cost be divided by the number of hours in a year? That doesn’t make any sense. It should be the annual carrying cost (like mortgage payments + taxes + maintenance) or the cost divided by total number hours in the expected years someone spends in the house.
Finally, I’m very intrigued by St. Barts averaging 12.5 hours of sun per day. I learned in 8th grade earth science that everywhere on Earth averages 12 hours of daylight throughout the year, although the closer to the poles, the more it varies by season. Apparently St. Barts has defied the laws of physics and it is also never, ever cloudy. Perhaps that’s why it’s the celebs’ favorite Caribbean destination.