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Author Topic: Future of Solar Power  (Read 7678 times)

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Offline Brucer

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Re: Future of Solar Power
« Reply #20 on: April 23, 2016, 01:08:29 am »
... I can't see anyway that they could economically store enough hot water to heat a significant number of homes all winter.  ...

I agree. But they don't store the water -- they circulate it through holes that run deep into the ground, thus heating up the earth. They can raise the temperature of the earth up to 190°F.

The place was in or near Okotoks, Alberta. I'll try to find the link.
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Offline Brucer

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Offline Gary_C

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Re: Future of Solar Power
« Reply #22 on: April 23, 2016, 03:48:57 pm »
The cost of that system was $7 million for 52 homes so it cost $135,000 per home. Plus there is the added costs of a R-2000 insulation standard in each home. Of course they say there would be economy in scaling the size of the project up to say 1000 homes but those savings never seem to materialize.

It would not be feasible here because of the problems associated with punching that many holes in the fractured limestone and the water table. and it only saves 60 per cent of your heating costs that are 60 per cent of the total energy costs for a home. Does nothing for air conditioning.
Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.

Offline Brucer

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Re: Future of Solar Power
« Reply #23 on: April 23, 2016, 07:59:51 pm »
It's an experiment. I expect the up-front costs to drop on the second and third effort.

Economy of scale will probably kick in for the heat storage portion of the project. The perimeter of the storage mass will not increase in proportion to the heat storage mass.

Lots of people build R2000 homes just because they want to ;D. I built one in 1981 (yes, I know, there was no R2000 designation back then -- I still built one). My brother just had one built a couple of years ago.

This is obviously not applicable everywhere. As you point out, geology will limit where you can build this type of system. I expect we'll see a lot of new ideas springing up in the next few years. Some will turn out to be impractical, some will be viable.
Bruce    LT40HDG28 bandsaw with two 6' extensions.
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Offline florida

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Re: Future of Solar Power
« Reply #24 on: April 23, 2016, 08:46:15 pm »
Brucer,

It's government money all the way. About 6 of the initial $7 million was provided by several government agencies. The monthly payment  on a 30 year loan just for the solar system would come out to just over $800.00 a month. The homeowners are paying $70.00 which leaves you and other taxpayers  footing the bill for these special 52 families eternally.  The politicians that gave your money away bought themselves some nice campaign contributions and support from the rich guys that got the money.

There is no scale that will make this 12 times cheaper than what it would have to be for everyone to have a legitimate $70.00 a month heating bill.  If this were such a good idea no one would need to subsidize it, you'd be installing it on your house tomorrow as would everyone else. I also note that Drakes Landing was completed in 2007,  9 years ago and as far can find no more have been built since.
 
My prediction is that someone did the math and that Drakes Landing is a one off.
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Offline Ianab

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Re: Future of Solar Power
« Reply #25 on: April 24, 2016, 02:14:46 am »
You are probably correct that the economics math didn't work out on that project. That's not to say that the principle didn't work, just that it costs too much. OK, we have learned something, now back to the drawing board. Can it be improved or what's been learned adapted to work in some other scenario.  Sometimes spending the money on a pilot project, prototype or simply research is money well spent. Starting 100 of these schemes before you have one working? Now that would be plain stupid. Building one small scale system so you KNOW how well it works? That's called R&D. Maybe it will be the next big thing, maybe not. At least you then KNOW.

On unrelated solar news...

http://www.stuff.co.nz/travel/news/79268368/solar-plane-reaches-california-after-flight-across-pacific

If you had said, even 30 years ago that a solar powered plane could fly around the world, you would have been laughed at. Everyone KNEW that a solar powered plane couldn't fly at night, even if you could build one, which you couldn't. OK, it's not really ready for commercial use as it cruises at ~30 mph and can't take off if the wind is blowing. But the millions they have spend isn't wasted. Cellphone and internet access to remote areas supplied by a solar powered drone that just circles at 50,000 ft for months on end? Suddenly looks more practical...
Weekend warrior, Peterson JP test pilot, Dolmar 7900 and Stihl MS310 saws and  the usual collection of power tools :)

Offline SwampDonkey

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Re: Future of Solar Power
« Reply #26 on: April 24, 2016, 05:52:41 am »
The city of Sault St. Marie has several sources of renewable energy, not relying on any one source.

https://www.sault-canada.com/en/ouruniqueadvantage/renewableenergy.asp

I think the rate is around 0.175/kwh on peak demand for residents, $0.083 off peak. The heavy users pay $0.099   .

Pre-commercial thinning pays off. :)

'If she wants to play lumberjack, she's going to have to learn to handle her end of the log.'
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Offline florida

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Re: Future of Solar Power
« Reply #27 on: April 24, 2016, 10:38:47 am »
Swampdonkey,
Interesting stuff but it all proves my point.
 
The Prince Wind Farm has a nameplate capacity of 189 MW but an actual  capacity of 27.5% or about 51 MW.  51 MW has a whole sale value of  $1,814,400 annually. The cost of the project was $400,000,000.00 which, if financed over 30 years, means an annual cost of  $2,552,000.00.  They also employee 15 technicians on site to keep  the windmills running. I know from other reading  that they cost $75,000.00 a year each so there is  another annual expense of $1,125,000.
 
Doing the math means an annual loss of at least of $1,862,600.00 not even including the cost of replacement parts, trucks, etc.  Once again the politicians have curried favor with the rich guys and the rich guys are laughing all the way to the bank while you pay the bill.

The solar farm is even worse. With a nameplate rate of about 90 MW and a cost of $360,000,00 it will be magnitudes worse than the wind farm since the  capacity factor will be about 6% of nameplate.  In other words it will produce about  5.4 MW of power  or less than $200,000.00 annually   at $.37 a kw   The annual payment will run about $2.2 million  for a dead loss to taxpayers of $2 million a year not including the maintenance  labor and material.
 
Cogeneration- The steel company is using the same gas turbine technology as every new power plant uses.  It does save the utility from building more power plants but does not directly reduce rates or qualify as "green."

Hydro certainly works but for Sault-Ste-Marie to take credit for creating "green energy"  through dams that have been there 100 years is a bit disingenuous.

Reverse Polymerization looks interesting. If they are doing it without taxpayers money even better.

Keep in mind that the $760,000,000 of wind and solar is on top of the cost of conventional power, it does not replace or reduce it.  The taxpayers and ratepayers are basically paying for nothing they didn't already have but at 3 to 4 times the cost.

General contractor and carpenter for 40 years.

Offline SwampDonkey

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Re: Future of Solar Power
« Reply #28 on: April 24, 2016, 11:31:00 am »
The extra cost of clean energy.  ;D

Not quite the same thing, but another comparison on heating.

$4000 for a flu, $2500 for wood fired furnace and duct, monthly bill for electric around $100-130, firewood $280/cord delivered 6 cord. Flu lasts decades, furnace 25 years

$10,000 for heat pump and electric furnace combination. $300-500 during cold months, we got 8  of'm. $200 for 3 months if used for A/C..... we don't really need much in the north. 10-15 year life.

Pre-commercial thinning pays off. :)

'If she wants to play lumberjack, she's going to have to learn to handle her end of the log.'
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Offline John Mc

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Re: Future of Solar Power
« Reply #29 on: April 24, 2016, 11:53:09 am »
The solar farm is even worse. With a nameplate rate of about 90 MW and a cost of $360,000,00 it will be magnitudes worse than the wind farm since the  capacity factor will be about 6% of nameplate.  In other words it will produce about  5.4 MW of power or less than $200,000.00 annually

Array size is usually measured in watts (or KW or MW). Production is usually measured in watt-hours (or Kilowatt-hours or Megawatt-hours, depending on the scale). So I assume when you say it will produce about 5.4MW you mean 5.4 MWH?

I'm curious where you are getting your numbers, particularly the 6% number. When we install solar PV in Vermont, a fixed mount system (not tracking) produces about 1200 KWH per year for every 1 KW of solar panels we install (assuming they are mounted at the optimal angle and orientation for our area, and are in a location that gets good solar exposure). This is not just theoretical numbers, this is actual performance history.

For example:
  • 50KW system we installed on the roof of a school a couple of years ago has averaged over 1100 KWH per year for each KW of panels installed. This roof has some partial shading, and is also shallower than optimal angle and not facing due south, reducing it's output both from its angle to the sun and the fact that it does not shed snow as well as it would if it were at the steeper angle
  • A 3.825 KW roof-mount system we installed 3 years ago is averaging 1266 KWH per year for every KW of panels installed. In fact, in the 3 years and 3 months this small residential system has been in operation, it has already put out 5.8 MWH - more than the annual production you calculated for a 90 MW system.

So either I have completely failed to understand the numbers you put out, or your numbers bear some checking and recalculating. Assuming it's properly designed and installed, 90 MW "nameplate" rated system would need to operate for about 5 minutes in full direct sunlight to output 5.4 MWH.
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Offline Gary_C

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Re: Future of Solar Power
« Reply #30 on: April 24, 2016, 03:33:24 pm »
John, your numbers are similar to the numbers florida is providing.

For example, your 1KW installed capacity could produce 24 KWH per day or 8760 KWH per year. Since your system is producing 1200 KWH per year, the system is producing about 13.7 per cent of full installed capacity. Yes, I know the sun doesn't shine 24 hours per day but when you compare a solar system to the installed capacity of a conventional power plant, you have to look at the total installed capacity and the cost of installation.

This sun doesn't shine 24 hours per day is exactly the disadvantage that solar power needs to overcome by some means or it cannot be competitive with other power sources and it's a double whammy. Not only do you have to install the peak instantaneous capacity you need but you also have to have a backup system of equal instantaneous capacity available when the sun doesn't shine. Or a storage system to get you through the nights and cloudy spells.
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Offline John Mc

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Re: Future of Solar Power
« Reply #31 on: April 24, 2016, 05:09:08 pm »
Gary -

I'm well aware of the pros and cons of solar and the need for storage or other means to produce when the sun is not shining (Vermont is not exactly the "sunshine state").

What I'm taking issue with is that a 90 MW "nameplate" rated system only puts out 5.4 MWH per year. I'm not sure if I'm just misunderstanding the units he is talking about, but nobody ever claims that the the expected output of a 90MW system is 90 MW x 24 hours/day x 365 days/year. I also don't claim my car, which probably has a top speed of 100 MPH is capable of an annual traveling distance of 876,000 miles either.

As for solar not being able to compete without subsidies: I'm all for removing ALL subsidies from ALL forms of energy, as well as having the true costs of generating or using each form of energy born by the generators (and passed on to the consumers) of such energy. Subsidizing (or allowing users to dodge the full costs of) oil, gas, hydro, solar, etc just lessens the incentive to use it efficiently. However, the US (and the world) is so far from such a system that I doubt it will ever happen.
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Offline Gary_C

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Re: Future of Solar Power
« Reply #32 on: April 24, 2016, 08:25:50 pm »
Power plants are nothing like cars and the power plants we depend on for our grid electricity do absolutely run 24 hours per day 365 days per year. In fact one coal fired plant that I know of ran for nearly 10 years without any downtime. At the five year inspection it was determined it needed some work and the parts needed were not available for almost four years.

My nephew is a operator at a nuclear power plant and down times are scheduled for years ahead and every minute the plant is down is very well planned and extremely expensive to the owners. With that kind of investment you can't have idle capacity.
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Offline tmarch

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Re: Future of Solar Power
« Reply #33 on: April 27, 2016, 11:18:14 am »
"No matter how you slice it a 10K photo voltaic system is going to run between $50,000 and $60,000 installed with no storage."
How many of this size system cost this much and why?  Right now I can find a 10K system installed for $25,000 that will have all the best components available.  Take the tax credit and it's less than $20,000.
Personally I have a 6K system at the ranch and it offsets all my usage yearly.  Not that we use that many KWH anyhow, but conservation is key.
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Offline esteadle

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Re: Future of Solar Power
« Reply #34 on: April 28, 2016, 11:33:09 pm »
There are a series of interesting graphs of Wind Energy Production Capacity by year at this link.
http://apps2.eere.energy.gov/wind/windexchange/wind_installed_capacity.asp

There was a post above in this thread, where someone asked a somewhat rhetorical question about "what plants did they shut down". That's not the way it would work, actually. Its more likely that additional capacity would not be built based on the availability of additional capacity provided by the energy technologies coming onto the market. This is avoided capacity.

There is also the consideration of the advancement of energy efficiency at the point of consumption. New technologies like LED lighting, smartphones, and energy efficient appliances, programmable thermostats, alternate power buses (DC) -- these make capacity demand considerations a much more manageable problem. An axiom of the energy industry is every watt of avoided consumption saves many watts of generated capacity. By avoiding the consumption of energy, alternative local power generation becomes a more realistic situation.

Traditional power generation technologies have costs that are typically unaccounted for. Their effects on the environment are usually not reflected in the rates that energy consumers pay. If carbon emitters were to pay for the effect they have on climate, and the severe weather effects that manifest as a result, all of the economic considerations change.
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Offline maple flats

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Re: Future of Solar Power
« Reply #35 on: May 01, 2016, 08:01:02 pm »
It sounds to me that florida is so against any form of green energy that he makes up or mis-interprets the numbers.
For me, I'll take solar PV anytime, which I have at 6.32KW strong. On a yearly basis it supplies all of my energy, thru net metering. I just paid up front for the electricity for the rest of my life, and for others after that.
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Offline Gary_C

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Re: Future of Solar Power
« Reply #36 on: May 02, 2016, 01:34:04 pm »
It's not accurate to portray florida or myself as "against green energy" as this topic is all about pointing out the difficulties solar energy has to face to become economically viable. All "green energy" sources have to compete with each other to be the choice for capital investment and solar has an inherent disadvantage because the sun does not shine all day. In fact there are only about eight hours daily you can expect production for a solar investment minus cloudy day losses. That third or less production limit is a severe handicap when considering investing in energy production and thus either requires significantly lower costs of investment per KW capacity or you have to look elsewhere for the capital to be invested for energy production.

Of course in isolated locations like yours, the lack of small scale alternatives may make solar the preferred investment. I actually run a isolated system in my camper where I spend many of my days while working in the woods and have a 3KW inverter, 4-6 volt batteries in a 12 volt storage setup, two solar panels for assist and a 3 kw Honda generator to recharge. The solar panels are not giving me much assist but they are many times covered with snow and it is just too dangerous to get up on the roof to clear the snow in the winter. That plus they have not worked well since one was damaged and replaced.

This does not make me for or against solar, just a realist about the benefits. 
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Offline florida

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Re: Future of Solar Power
« Reply #37 on: May 02, 2016, 04:46:26 pm »
Sorry for not being here to answer questions. Been down sick with a terrible cold.

John,

You're right about my confusion between MW and MWh although that is what I meant to be saying. I got my figures from another website that said the capacity factor in Vermont as about 6% which would mean 5.4MWh annually.

maple flats

I'm not anti green energy at all. It has an important role to play in places where grid power isn't available. I'm not even against solar as long as it's fairly represented and taxpayers aren't paying for it. Net metering forces the rest of the rate payers to subsidize your power because laws force the power company to pay retail for your solar power. That's what I'm against.

SolarCity is one of the if not the largest solar power retailers in American. Here's what they have to say about their business.

"SolarCity officials, including Musk’s cousins and fellow Obama donors Lyndon and Peter Rive, acknowledged the company’s dependence on government support  in its 2012 IPO filing. “Our business currently depends on the availability of rebates, tax credits and other financial incentives,” forcing other people to give us profits  they wrote. “The expiration, elimination or reduction of these rebates, credits and incentives would adversely impact our business.”




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Offline florida

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Re: Future of Solar Power
« Reply #38 on: May 02, 2016, 04:55:30 pm »
esteadle

Not true at all. Actually as more wind and solar is brought on line MORE gas fired generators have to be built just to back them up. It has to be gas fired because no other generators can ramp up fast enough to keep pace with wind and solars intermittent power production.

Also, wind and solar have a larger carbon footprint than coal fired plants since they are magnitudes less efficient. The trick is that the carbon production takes place where the steel, aluminum, concrete, copper, fiberglass and cells that go into them are made. A 3 MW commercial windmill will never produce enough electricity to pay its  construction cost whereas a coal fired plant pays for itself many times over.
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Offline ljohnsaw

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Re: Future of Solar Power
« Reply #39 on: May 02, 2016, 05:00:52 pm »
Net metering forces the rest of the rate payers to subsidize your power because laws force the power company to pay retail for your solar power. That's what I'm against.

I'm not jumping down your throat, but this is NOT true out here in the "other" sunshine state.  My power company only pays WHOLESALE rate for solar power - and it really isn't even that.  Their web site quotes that any over generation at the end of the year will be bought for "about 4 cents / kwh" and they typically pay between 2 and 3 cents.  My all-in average rate (First tier) is $0.1839.  Our rates go up to 45 cents so that is why I have solar.  The extra is the transportation charges, etc.  While I was working for a different power company, we would be happy to buy power at 50 or 60 cents plus transport charges.  My argument is that I should get credit for the power company not having to transport electricity to my neighbors when I am over-generating.  That is, I should get the full retail rate because that is what I'm offsetting, not the wholesale.  But, alas, that won't happen :-\
John Sawicky

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