Hope Norm does not mind but I would like to throw my two bobs worth in here about solar and weather from an OZ point of view, not that a couple of my southern mates have not.
Some of this I have posted before but!
When I "retired" and moved to Far North Queensland Australia I did a bit of research, fortunately I had quite a good knowledge from previous experience or I may have been put off.http://www.daintree-holidays.com.au/daintree-pollution.htm
Is a link to an artical with IMHO great bias, but if you have 10 min to spare scroll down to the video and enjoy. Now the first speaker is my southern neighbor but one, Cow Bay Bob.
0.08 min.. pub's old generator
0.28 lead recycling Bob's way
2.2 exploded batteries, OK but I have no knowledge of a battery explosion causing a fire.
3.39 Daintree river which we all live to the north of.
Now Bob recycles batteries, ie melts down the lead, I do not know how he disposes of the acid, what I do know is that the creek that runs across the front of my of my place runs at the back of Bob, and the seasonal creek in front of his place joins the main creek at my southern boundary. Now do not get me wrong I am not saying Bob disposes of the acid in an irresponsible manner, I just don't know.
He shows his generator together with his lead washing equipment, his generator runs on bio diesel not diesel!
I moved here in mid May 2011 and had a new solar system installed two weeks later, yes it was per-arranged.
10KW of solar, adequate batteries and an OZ inverter, with 3 MPPT's, now to date I have recorded DC input of 15932 Kwh, AC input of 1803 Kwh's OK I am a little anal about my batteries and could get away with less AC input. So much for not being able to use solar in a rain forest, oh and did I say I have an air conditioned house, yea makes me a bit of a freak here, you have what?
OH and snow, yes some places in OZ experience snow, me I avoid it like the plague, never experienced it never want to, give me the tropics any day.