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View Diary: NREL Study: Solar Power could provide 100 Times the Amount of Current U.S. Electricity Needs! (251 comments)

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  •  Nuclear is not a pipe dream. It is a potential (3+ / 0-)

    stopgap as we move to something else -- a stopgap that does not add CO2 to the atmosphere.  Thorium would be my choice, BTW.

    Coal and oil sands and the worst of the worst.

    We need to plow money into solar in a big way, ASAP.

    Happy little moron, Lucky little man.
    I wish I was a moron, MY GOD, Perhaps I am!
    —Spike Milligan

    by polecat on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 08:32:15 AM PDT

    •  I don't see nuclear as a reasonable or logical (17+ / 0-)

      choice.  The current and old designs are too dangerous and expensive and not a single thorium plant has been built.

      Furthermore, it takes ages to build nuke plants while solar pv is  often installed in less than a year from planning to finish.

      Germany has gone from virtually no solar pv to over 5% of their electricity coming from solar in a mere 5 years.  With Germany being at the same latitude as Maine, just think of what is possible in the U.S....

      "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

      by Lawrence on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 08:38:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Actually solar supplies about 3% of Germany's (3+ / 0-)


        If they had spent the same $120 billion or so used for this building nuclear power plants, they would supply 3 or 4 fold more electricity.

        •  Nope, it jumped to 5.3% during the first half (13+ / 0-)

          of 2012.

          The $120 billion figure is incorrect.

          "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

          by Lawrence on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 08:47:07 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  But still, the cost to install solar is almost (0+ / 0-)

            the same as to build nuclear power plants.

            The former operate at about 20% of capacity and the latter at 90% or higher.

            Just saying, if economics and logic were important, Germany would not be following their current path (which, btw, involves (what they say will be temporary) burst of increased carbon emissions).

            In any event, I suppose we all have China to thank for making solar panels dirt cheap the last couple of years.  Suppose we'll have to see if that lasts.

            •  terrible comparison (13+ / 0-)

              Solar displaces peak power which costs on the order of 10x that of baseload which is all nuclear can supply. Try again with the economics argument...

              Kiss my ass. This is a Holy Site...

              by jam on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 09:01:09 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  LOL link please (5+ / 0-)

              Installing solar costs as much as nuclear plants?  That's hilarious.  Is that with up-to-date costs?

              •  He means after the huge subsidies (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                for building plutonium factories which produce power as a by-product.  He conveniently ignores the massive CO2 production from building nukes, mining, processing, transporting, and storing the fuel, and of course like all plutonium pushers, he considers long-term storage to be free of financial and CO2 costs, simply because they are incalculable.

            •  How? (12+ / 0-)

              Show me actual costs where installing 1GW solar cost almost as much as installing 1GW nukes.

              The relative capacity efficiencies are purely irrelevant.

              Also, Germany's solar capacity is mainly the product of German panels and equipment. Despite competing with China's slavery/pollution subsidized panels, Germany's solar installations are a self-starting industry that's already paying back its public subsidies as they draw down.

              BTW, Germany's path of economics and logic has made it the world leader in most ways right now. Its logic was partly based on the actual demonstration of Fukushima, but also on the nuke industry that Germany has not only had for almost as long as the US, but indeed is primarily responsible for originally thinking up as science and engineering. Really, you just called Germans illogical and frivolous spenders. They have been demonstrating the truth inside their stereotype more and more for generations.

              "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

              by DocGonzo on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 10:01:17 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Doc! "capictity efficiencies are purely (0+ / 0-)

                irrelveant"!!!!???!! Jeezus, dude. It's ALL about capacity FACTOR and how much energy (measured in MW hours) you get back per investement over a given period of time.

                If my 1GW solar plant cost $7 billion dollars and the my 1GW nuclear plant costs the same, but I get 24GW hours from the nuke and only 6GW hours from the solar plant, wanna guess which is more expensive??? And, MORE importantly, which can provide power for 24/7?

                Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

                by davidwalters on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 10:06:41 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  If your 1 GW solar plant (6+ / 0-)

                  costs $7 billion someone stole $5 billion from you.

                  Kiss my ass. This is a Holy Site...

                  by jam on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 11:19:45 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  and why (3+ / 0-)

                  is base load more important than peak load? Peak is more expensive.

                  Kiss my ass. This is a Holy Site...

                  by jam on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 11:25:24 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Peak is more expensive ONLY in (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    an unregulated market driven electrical market like Europe and the US. In other countries, it doesn't exist as a distinct pricing form. (and nor should it IMO).

                    Peakload is any load over and above, but INCLUDING baseload. Baseload is generally an afternoon type load, in most places, when the combination of residential (a minority of the load) and industrial and commercial load all overlap. You need to have power all the time, no exceptions. that is base load.

                    Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

                    by davidwalters on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 11:35:16 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  So? (0+ / 0-)

                      We live in an unregulated market driven electrical market. Even Europe has one, as you note. We are not talking about building nukes in Sim City; we are talking about the real world.

                      But even in reality peak is more expensive to produce, since the least efficient plants are left offline until required during peak. Just as there is always baseload, there is also always peak every year. Solar is better for peak, since nukes take time to ramp up and down but solar ramps itself up and down with the Sun that drives the peak demand (air cooling).

                      For baseload, geothermal is better than nukes as I've pointed out elsewhere.

                      "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

                      by DocGonzo on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 05:39:42 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                •  Per Investment (0+ / 0-)

                  Capacity factor does not equal capacity factor per investment. That post said percent of capacity, you are now moving the goalposts to percent of capacity per investment. You might as well argue miles per gallon when I respond to a statement about miles.

                  Why should I take you seriously in the rest of this discussion?

                  "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

                  by DocGonzo on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 05:36:39 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  That's easy enough (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                nuclear power runs from about $2 billion per GW nuclear power plant in China to about 2x that in the USA (since Germany has no plans to build more, there is no data on how much it would cost over there).

                According to this site an average home uses (over time) 600 W and a solar installation to cover that would cost $16,000.

                so, that's $16,000 for 0.6 kiloW

                or, $16 million for 0.6 megaW

                or, $16 billion for 0.6 gigaW

                Or, $26.7 billion for 1 GW

                Which, is at least 5x more expensive than the cost of nuclear power.

                So, if a country opts to spend at least 5x more than they need to to mitigate carbon emissions, yes, I call that frivilous spending.

                But again, like I said, that's still better than what we do with our excess $$s, to I'm not going to be too strident in calling the kettle black.

                •  Agreed, when solar runs, it cuts into (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Roadbed Guy, Deward Hastings

                  gas and coal consumption which is a "good thing". But it will not end reliance on fossil fuels and the faith-based arguments you find here has not real traction in true energy planning for a non-carbon future.

                  BTW...wind, not solar, is what provides the bulk of renewable energy in Germany. Just say'n.

                  Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

                  by davidwalters on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 10:18:10 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Another thing that is not entered into the (0+ / 0-)

                    above calculations for the cost of solar (or wind for that matter, presumably the same considerations apply) is the needed upgrade for infrastructure to the grid that is required to accomodate this stuff coming online.

                    For example, in Hawaii regulators have impeded the development of solar for fear of the grid becoming unstable:

                    Only recently did solar advocates succeed in overcoming the antiquated 15% rule that limited interconnections of solar power to 15% of grid capacity.   The revised rule may expand the limit to 25%, but that still only accommodates half of the state’s solar potential on rooftops alone.

                    These low limits meant that in recent months nearly 90% of commercial solar projects were told by the islands’ utilities that they face a costly and lengthy interconnection study to come online.


                    Again, this is probably money well invested to solve this problem - but still, it's not free!

                    •  No one is saying that infrastructure upgrades (6+ / 0-)

                      won't be needed.  But in our current depressed economy, I can't think of a better way for stimulus money to be spent than on jobs to upgrade our power grid.

                      •  Lots of people are (in essence) saying that (0+ / 0-)

                        by saying that solar is currently competitive with existing sources of electricity.

                        It's not - but as you suggest, subsidizing infrastructure upgrades to bring it online is good from multiple perspectives - again, I'm not sure why everyone can't be honest about this and make the case for solar based on its real merits (as you are doing!).

                        •  It depends on your definition of "currently" (3+ / 0-)

                          Residential solar is already competitive with existing sources of electricity in certain American markets at peak rates.  Depending on whom you talk to, even industrial solar will be competitive with coal and nuclear within the decade, some say even sooner.  And the costs will continue to go down after that, with the exponential growth in technological advances.  So it makes sense to upgrade the grid, as in the short-term it's only a little more expensive, and future installations will provide even cheaper sources.

                        •  Well, if you're basing your price comparison (5+ / 0-)

                          ... on 13 year old data (which, based on the example you provided above, I assume to be the case), with invalid assumptions about how much one can save via efficiency, then sure it's non-competitive.

                          However, if you use current numbers and real efficiency data, it's completely competitive.

                          Heck in just the last year, panel prices have dropped from just over $2/watt (which is what we paid) to under $1/watt.

                          If we then subsidized solar with the same subsidies that are given to fossil tech and nuclear, solar would be far more than competitive.

                          •  No, they wouldn't. Subsidies are given to (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Deward Hastings

                            other baseload generation but at a rate per unit of energy that is statistical irrelevant to them as compared to what wind and solar get. Not even close.

                            Also the costs per panel is not the only cost. You need the inverter (for industry or for residence), grid connection, etc, not to mention installation costs.

                            I'm actually for mining those subsidies, hell, a middle or upper middle class homeowner in Cali still gets half of the 'price' paid for and other taxpayers. I say go for it. But it has little to do with solving the problems of fossil fuel and GHG emissions.

                            Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

                            by davidwalters on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 11:57:08 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  rate per unit of energy? (4+ / 0-)

                            why on earth is that relevant?  The point of subsidies should be to speed up both research and prevalence of new technology.  Take the total dollar amount given to fossil fuels and give it as green industry grants and green subsidies.

                            Those other costs you mention are also falling.  As a humorous aside:


                          •  Yes, I realize that panel prices (0+ / 0-)

                            have been plummeting due to the Chinese goverment subsidizing them massively.

                            which is freakin' great.

                            But I'm old and cant' go up on my roof and install them myself.

                            Instead I have to hire a contractor, which is quite expensive.

                            Then as time goes on, periodic maintanence is required - for example for some reason my house is a popular gathering point for birds, which come and shit all over my roof.

                            Usually I don't care that much, but I suspect that that might diminish the efficacy of solar panels.

                            So I'd have to hire somebody to come and clean them periodically (I don't know, maybe every 2 months?).  Because you know, I'm old and not really in any shape to be trapsizign alll over my roof . . ..  and from experience I know that simply spraying water up there with the hose doesn't much work on getting the bird shit off.

                          •  Bird poop doesn't stick well to panels (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Larsstephens, Lawrence

                            And if you really need to, you can just spray them with a hose. But birds, in general will sit on the panels oriented with their butts toward the ground, not the panel faces, because of the angle at which the panels sit.

                            Roof mount is not the only option. Ours are pole mounted. It took a day to mount the array and get everything hooked up, once the pole was installed. I only have one working arm, and am able to lift the panels by letting the bad arm hang down, hooking my fingers around the bottom edge of the panel, then doing the rest of the lifting/moving with the other arm. My husband and son did most of the work, while I passed panels, nuts, bolts, zip ties, wrenches, etc. to them.

                            We did need a hand pouring the concrete for the pole, but a friend offered to help in exchange for lunch. It took a couple of hours to pour and we let it cure for 2 weeks. A friend with a backhoe dug the hole for the pole for us.

                          •  Pole Mount (0+ / 0-)

                            Do you think I could mount solar panels on 40 foot tall poles to get above the trees on my property?

                            "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

                            by DocGonzo on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 06:03:05 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Probably, but it would be (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:

                            ... ridiculously expensive.

                            For comparison, our pole ($350) is 10" in diameter, 18' long, 8' of which is under ground, and 10' above. The pole is filled with cement, and is centered in an 8' length of sonotube, also full of cement. Our cement mass is bigger than needed, because it's the minimum we could get delivered. This ensures it's not going anywhere under serious wind load (which we get at our elevation). The rack on which the panels are mounted is designed to for winds exceeding 80 mph.

                            Extrapolating from that, you'd need something ungodly huge with a block of cement the size of a small building to anchor it, and probably guy wires. If you're looking to get power at that height, it becomes more sensible to start looking at the feasibility of small wind.

                            Solar isn't going to be the right solution for every single location, and not every individual would need to install solar for us to drastically reduce our electricity-related carbon use.

                          •  You Realize (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            radical simplicity, Sandino

                            The Chinese subsidies to Chinese solar panels haven't made German or American panels cheaper except by competition. The supply side subsidy point is meaningless.

                            The cost of installing solar panels, even for people to go on the roof, is low enough that the total installed cost of residential solar is usually under $5:W, which is cheap. The periodic maintenance is hardly greater than cleaning your gutters, and is paid for in probably under a week of savings per year.

                            Even before retail subsidies solar is cheaper than nukes. Retail subsidies cost the public less than the public subsidies to nukes. So really the comparison shows that solar is a lot cheaper than nukes.

                            "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

                            by DocGonzo on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 06:02:07 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                    •  Infrastructure upgrades are needed (3+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      cordgrass, Lawrence, cocinero

                      ... even if we do nothing at all to our current energy mix.

                      The grid is OLD and failing, and must be upgraded to prevent future cascade failures (like the one that took out much of the northeast a few years ago).

                      In addition, we will get better efficiencies out of it if we upgrade it, no matter what we have for power sources.

                      It's disingenuous to lay the necessary infrastructure upgrade at the feet of solar.

                    •  interesting (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:

                      that you should cite an article about "fears that the grid will be unstable" which in fact does not even mention grid stability at all.

                      Kiss my ass. This is a Holy Site...

                      by jam on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 11:23:37 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Yeah OK, since you apparently don't have (0+ / 0-)

                        access to the Google, I'll cut and paste for you:

                        The solar business is booming in general, with Q1 2011 growth at 66% over the same time last year, according to a new report from the Solar Energy Industries Association and GTM Research. But Hawaii's dilemma is a perplexing example of how smart grid technologies are struggling to cope with the growing popularity of solar power, and how utilities are trying to deal with the significant challenges of constantly fluctuating amounts of PV power being pumped into the grid.

                        The Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) has established a 15% threshold (set by the Hawaii PUC) for the amount of solar power than can be added to a single circuit to help ensure electric grid stability, as many other U.S. utilities have done. But Hawaii has the highest per capita quantity of solar power connected to its power grid. And when the 15% percent threshold is reached on Oahu, Maui, Hawaii island, Molokai and Lanai – HECO's customers there can be required to pony up for an expensive study before they can link their solar systems to the grid, reports the Honolulu Star Advertiser newspaper. The price tags for those studies can run from several thousand dollars for a small residential installation to $16,000 and up for larger projects.

                        HECO's concern is whether an installation can be safely connected to the grid without causing reliability problems for other customers on the same circuit.
                        "This is why a technical review – this is not a limit or a cap – may be needed when the amount of PV power on a neighborhood circuit reaches 15%," HECO spokesman peter Rosegg was quoted as saying in the article. The utility also noted that only a few studies have been done.

                        •  This is an unusual circumstance because (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          Deward Hastings

                          of the Island's being, well, Islands. What makes Germany or Danish wind energy (the main and most important renewable energy there) doable is that the are integrated into both the southern European (France) and northern European (Norway, Sweden) grids.

                          Hawaiians show the sort of text-book limitations of large unrelabiles power sources in the grid.  

                          On these islands you have to have at least one load-following source of generation or the voltage, and thus VAR flow, go crazy and things have to shutdown. This is the problem with "load balance" a critical aspect of running any grid. In fact, I'm not even sure what why going over 15% is even allowed...I'm suspect they do this and then shutdown their diesel run gas turbines (on Oahu and Maui) and simply 'risk' the grid this way. If the intermittent/unreliables don't provide the power, rolling black outs ensue and the utility has to pony up big bucks.

                          Still, I'd like to know the technical details.


                          Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

                          by davidwalters on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 11:41:23 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                  •  "faith-based arguments" is an offensive phrase (6+ / 0-)

                    The point of this diary is that yes, indeed, solar and wind can eventually handle all energy needs for a non-carbon future.  The linked government report seems the complete opposite of "faith-based".

                •  Those numbers are wrong (6+ / 0-)

                  The article was written 13 years ago.

                  From their citation link:

                  "How many solar cells would I need in order to provide all of the electricity that my house needs?"  07 July 2000.  
                  In addition, the article's claim that 100 watts is the most you could save per day through efficiency is complete bullshit.

                  Heck, standby power alone from one instance each of the top 10 power vampires account for more than 50 watts per household per day. Most homes have more than one of the worst offenders - televisions, cable boxes, gaming consoles, etc. And they didn't even count all the cell phone chargers.

                •  wow, you've just completely embarrassed yourself (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  cordgrass, DocGonzo

                  You've just overestimated PV by a factor of 13 and understimated nuclear by 2x so your lie factor is 26. Wow.

                  Kiss my ass. This is a Holy Site...

                  by jam on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 11:36:39 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Could you be more specific? (0+ / 0-)

                    Because, if I've really overestimated PV by a factor of 13 and nuclear by 2x, then my position would be 26 times stronger than I posted.

                    I'm intrigued that unlike myself, you never post links, just say things.

                    •  cost (4+ / 0-)

                      You have overestimated the cost of PV by a factor of 13. You have claimed that 1 GW of solar costs $26.7 billion. This study shows PV at $2.88/W (2010) with modules at $1.95/W. Modules are currently less than $1/W. Total installed costs are currently less than $2/W (I've seen quotes for $1.75).


                      I'll go ahead and give you the 2X on the nuclear side.

                      in essence, nuclear (in China) is almost exactly the same overnight cost as PV. Admittedly for the same nameplate capacity, not for energy.

                      Please don't start throwing capacity factors around and trying to make unsupported claims about levelized costs of energy.

                      Kiss my ass. This is a Holy Site...

                      by jam on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 12:14:00 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  I'm not interested in "a study" (0+ / 0-)

                        I'm interested in what it costs to actually come and install the panels on my house.

                        Which apparently amplifies the cost by 13x or so - you know, because it costs $$s to have somebody skilled in the craft actually come out and get everything set up.

                        You know, similar to what it takes to get a nuclear power plant up and running . .. .

                        Seriously, if you can find somebody who'll install me a solar set up for $2,000 - I'm signing up for that instantaneously!!

                        But no, in the real world it costs $35 to $40K.

                        •  maybe if y'all actually read the report (3+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          jam, Larsstephens, Sandino

                          For residential, it says:

                          The analysis results in a total installed price for a benchmark 2010 residential PV system of $5.71/ WP DC. Figure 2 shows the price breakdown by element. Modules contribute the most to the price (38%), followed by labor costs (22%, electrical and hardware labor plus installer O&P) and supply chain costs (17%).

                        •  You're Not Interested in the Facts (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:

                          You ignore "a study" and the direct experience (with dollar figures) from the poster who offered it, in favor of a 13 year old TLC TV article that's totally wrong, and you're not backing down.

                          You're calling "faith based" other legitimate arguments against your bad logic and wrong facts.

                          In the real world $35K would buy you something like 15-20KW after real subsidies, which is about 10x what you probably need.

                          You're not interested in the facts. You just want to argue for nukes against solar. Why bother talking to you about it?

                          "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

                          by DocGonzo on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 06:11:33 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                      •  to continue - your quoted numbers might be (0+ / 0-)

                        correct - but you have to factor in a 16 to 20% utilization factor.

                        Thus instead of 600 W in the link I provided - because my wife using a lot of electricity - I need about 1500 W.

                        And the sun shines (on average) about 8 hours a day -you gotta multiple that by 3 - so we're up to 4500 W.

                        Now, divide that by 0.16 (the utilization factor) - we're up to 27,000 W installed capacity.

                        So at $1.75 per W - that's $47,250 - or MORE than I was quoted (I guess I was getting a bargain - YAY!! - but sadly still couldn't afford it).

                        •  yeah, you have NO IDEA (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:

                          what you are talking about.

                          the utilization factor is the same thing as the sun shines only 8 hours a day.

                          Kiss my ass. This is a Holy Site...

                          by jam on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 12:30:28 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  OK, maybe I don't have the terminology (0+ / 0-)

                            down pat - but the point is that it's dark for 12 hours a day (on average over the year).

                            Plus, where I live, it's sufficiently cloudy to reduce incident sunlight by 33% over time.

                            Thus the 8 hours per day sunlight factor.

                            Then - it's a well known fact that PV panels are NOT 100% efficient.  Perhaps 20% of that.

                            So, my numbers are more or less correct.  Heck, why would the company give me a ridiculously high estimate that there's no way in hell that I could afford?

                            But I'll grant you all your assinine talking points and cut everything by 3x.  Which means that I SHOULD be able to get a set-up for about $16K.

                            Which leaves us right back at the starting point - i.e., the link that I provided above that used that figure for about 1/2 to 1/3 of the capacity that I require.

                            Seriously, if you think that that can be supplied for 1/26th of that cost, well all that I can say is that you're seriously crazy.

                            Which would be a shame, because deep down inside I suspect that we both want the same thing - a more sane energy policy for this country.  But again, I'm not sure how we'll ever get there if we can be honest about the costs involved.

                          •  sigh (6+ / 0-)

                            I'll take a step back. Note that I'm going to simplify things a bit here.

                            Solar PV is currently being installed in the United States for approximately $2/W direct current peak. That means, at solar noon on a cloudless day a 100 W panel is producing 100 W of DC electricity. After conversion to grid style AC something like 85-90% of that is hitting the grid. Let's call it 85 W. It doesn't matter how efficient the panel is or where in the world you are - a 100 W panel produces 100 W.

                            More "efficient" panels are just smaller in area than less efficient panels. A 20% efficient 200 W panel is 1 square meter (m^2). A 10% efficient 200 W panel is 2 m^2. However, when they are hit with the same amount of sun, they produce exactly the same amount of electricity.

                            Location in the world tells you how much sun you get per year. The lower 48 states range from about 1000 kWh/kW to 3000 kWh/kW per year. So, if you install a 1 kW system in Boston, it will produce approximately 1,200 kWh per year. That same system in AZ would produce around 2,000 kWh per year.

                            In 2010, that system on your house that you say cost $35,000 would have been about a 7 kW system. In Boston, that should produce around 8,400 kWh a year or about 700 kWh per month. At $0.15/kWh, that has an energy value of a little more than $100/month.

                            That same system should cost about half of that today - maybe a little more. Call it $20K. Yes, the reduction in PV prices has been that dramatic.

                            And that is as honest and simple and direct as I can explain the way PV works

                            Kiss my ass. This is a Holy Site...

                            by jam on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 01:11:43 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  and in AZ (5+ / 0-)

                            that system would produce around 14,000 kWh a year (1,167 kWh/month). At $0.10, that energy would have a value of $117/month.

                            Kiss my ass. This is a Holy Site...

                            by jam on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 01:16:05 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                  •  Actually, the solar costs seem pretty much (0+ / 0-)

                    spot on.

                    About 18 months ago, I got an estimate for $35-40K to get set up for a roof top solar system, and my monthly electric bill is about $150.

                    The example I gave, for $16K is based on using $67 of electricity a month (at 15 cents per kWh).  So, the two values match up pretty well.

                    •  Get a quote from someone else (3+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      DocGonzo, Sandino, Lawrence

                      Either (a) the quote you got was from a company that prefers to work only on large projects and they quoted an inflated price to make you go away (common with some of the big names); or (b) you use an extraordinary amount of electricity and they quoted sufficient overcapacity to ensure you would have 100% of your highest use covered on the worst insolation days; or (c) they quoted a system that would feed back into the grid enough to make you a profit.

                •  Too Easy (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Sandino, Lawrence

                  The actual costs of building a US nuke plant are more like $7.7B per GW.

                  The costs of operating the two Indian Point plants (2GW) in my backyard are about $350M per year, so over 40 years is about $7B per GW. These costs don't include everything externalized (including the risks, insured and otherwise), but nukes cost almost $15B per GW ($15:W) for 40 years.

                  Residential solar costs about $5:W installed; MW utility installations cost about $3:W; they also last about 40 years.

                  Then there are the externalized costs of nukes; I'm not including the subsidies so solar has vastly less externalized costs. Nukes always require high voltage long transmission lines which are lossy and expensive to maintain; solar is much more distributed so less lossy and require less infrastructure.

                  I could go on and on showing factors of solar advantages, but I've already shown they're cheaper than nukes. That's why Germans, who are hardly frivolous in energy, money or the environment.

                  "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

                  by DocGonzo on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 05:57:14 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

          •  About the $120 billion figure (0+ / 0-)

            it's from Spiegel:

            According to the RWI, the solar energy systems connected to the grid in 2011 alone will cost electricity customers about €18 billion in subsidy costs over the next 20 years. "The demand for subsidies is growing and growing," says RWI expert Manuel Frondel. If all commitments to pay subsidies so far are added together, Frondel adds, "we have already exceeded the €100 billion level."
            based on currency conversions, it's probably actually more than that.
            •  It's not from Spiegel, it's from RWI, which is (9+ / 0-)

              a captured energy "think tank" that is funded by big nuke and big fossil.

              Frondel is a corporate stooge for German Big Energy.

              "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

              by Lawrence on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 09:00:28 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  The article I linked was in Spiegel (0+ / 0-)

                which accepted the numbers as accurate.

                Look, as I posted above, I'm totally OK with using massive amounts of money in this way - it's better than spending it on idiotic wars, for example.

                However, I'm not sure if it benefits anyone/anything it we're not upfront honest about the costs involved.  Which are high, but probably worth it to avoid even greater costs associated with global climate change.

                In that vein, if the goal was to mitigate climate change rather than to push a political agenda, nuclear power would have to be given really serious consideration.

                •  The estimate of the costs given by RWI was (8+ / 0-)

                  based on old feed-in-tariff rates and it completely underestimated the lifespan of solar power plants and modules, ie. it does not factor in at all that solar power plants will be producing the cheapest electricity around after the 20 year f.i.t. rate expires.

                  Solar power already is much cheaper than you think.

                  In fact, the cost of electricity from solar pv ground installations in the MW range in Germany already is cheaper than electricity from new nuclear.


                  "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

                  by Lawrence on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 09:15:52 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  And also underestmiated is the (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Deward Hastings

                    increasing lifespans of nuclear. all nuclear plants built now and that have come on line in the last 10 years have 60 year life spans.

                    Solar only hit's midday peak or 'noon', which is, in the US, is not peak load. Peak load is on the downward slide of solar, from 1500 to 1900 hours. In fact, if you look at at the CALISO site you'll see it's in the last afternoon when the rated 'capacity' of solar is about 1/4 of what it needs to be. Of course this is seasonally adjusted.

                    Solar PV cannot run an industrial 24/7 society. Even those whacky Germans understand that (which is why the biggest industry supporting solar is not the solar industry...but the natural gas industry).

                    If you build out a CSP site...I notice NO ONE on this list has stated the cost for this...turning this into a "24 hour" operation would require dividing the 5 or so hours of peak production by 4/5ths to get your "24 hour" generation. Thus a CSP site that can output say, 1000MWs for 4 or 5 hours if tied to a molten salt storage (costs please?) divided evenly around that 24 hour cycle, would out put about only 200MWs, if they are lucky. Maybe more in the summer and less in the winter.


                    Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

                    by davidwalters on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 09:41:51 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Sorry, should of privided a link to the CALISO (0+ / 0-)

                      forcast chart:

                      Today's peak, at a whopping 39000+ MWs is at 1700 hours (that's 5pm for non-industry types). Do you think our mythical 1000MW CSP plant is outputing "1000MWs" then? I don't think so. The vast array of new gas turbines, however, will be balls-to-the-wall at full load. Buy gas stocks now if you want to make some money.


                      Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

                      by davidwalters on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 09:45:38 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

            •  and that's projected out (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              over the next 20 years.

              Kiss my ass. This is a Holy Site...

              by jam on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 09:05:03 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Yes, as indicated by the use of the word "already" (0+ / 0-)
                •  um, no (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  see, "already" means previously as in "they have already paid for it and are now $120 billion poorer than they were before". What I'm saying is that the $120 billion is one industry's projection of what may be spent over the next 20 years as in "they haven't actually spent even a small fraction of $120 billion already." See what I did there? Past versus future.

                  Kiss my ass. This is a Holy Site...

                  by jam on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 11:18:39 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I go to Germany every 3 or 4 years (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    means are the ends

                    and have discussed this with actual Germans

                    And they don't shy away from admitting the actual, and large, costs associated with their dalliance with "green" power.  They right up front admit that it's fuckin' expensive.  But the right thing to do.  I kinda admire them for that, in fact.

                    By contrast, the insistence of Americans to sweep the costs under the rug remains baffling to me.  Can't we make an argument that this is worth doing, despite its costs, based on the underlying merits?  

                    He hehe eheh , as this discussion has shown, clearly not.  D'ohh!!

          •  don't take Roadbed Guy, Frank Knarf and polecat (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            adrianrf, Larsstephens

            too seriously.  They are our resident solar trolls.

            •  Since when am I a solar troll? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Roadbed Guy

              Did you even read what I posted?

              Nice bit of A.H.  If I was allowed to give you an HR, I would.

              Coal and oil sands and the worst of the worst.

              We need to plow money into solar in a big way, ASAP.


              Happy little moron, Lucky little man.
              I wish I was a moron, MY GOD, Perhaps I am!
              —Spike Milligan

              by polecat on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 09:34:12 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Friendly rivalry with Nuclear DKos (5+ / 0-)

                "troll" was probably too harsh, my apologies.  Seems like the Nuclear DKos folk pile on the solar diaries with outdated info about the viability of solar, but that's probably just my own paranoia talking after my own trolling after climate denialist trolls on other sites.

                •  FWIW, I'm really encouraged about the grid scale (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  cordgrass, Lawrence, offgrid

                  batteries and a relatively cheap way to store daytime power and use it at night.

                  My comment was about getting the H*LL away from coal/shale oil as fast as possible and have something that works while we build up both a solar/battery infrastructure and a better grid.

                  I'm not thrilled with nuclear, but I sure as H*LL am most interested in getting away from CO2 emissions as soon as Friggin' possible.

                  My favorite kind of "nuclear" plant is 93 million miles away.  FWIW.

                  Apology accepted.

                  Happy little moron, Lucky little man.
                  I wish I was a moron, MY GOD, Perhaps I am!
                  —Spike Milligan

                  by polecat on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 09:45:22 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  You Have it Exactly Backwards (0+ / 0-)

                    Grid electricity storage is not built to store day-time energy for night use.  Rather it is exactly the opposite.  Night time demand is low and to keep the fossil (coal) plants runnign at night they are hoping that batteries will store the energy for delivery during the day at peak demand.  

                    Of course if we ever had so much solar that it exceeded the demand during the day these systems could turn that around, but that isn't going to happen any time soon.

                    The Republicans are begging for more rope. Give it to them!!!

                    by nuketeacher on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 10:18:31 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Whether it is from generating during offpeak or (3+ / 0-)

                      storing during a strong period of wind, these batteries will be useful for either model.

                      It's our job to cut the legs out from under the CO2 emmision types and go with renewables, but the batteries will be useful either way and should be built.

                      Happy little moron, Lucky little man.
                      I wish I was a moron, MY GOD, Perhaps I am!
                      —Spike Milligan

                      by polecat on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 12:03:28 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

              •  Yeah, I know what you mean (0+ / 0-)

                I have been nothing but supportive of the idea of installing as much solar capacity as practical.

                However, when really, really strange things are said in support of solar, can't they be questioned?

                For example, reading through the comments to this diary, getting enough solar capacity to completely meet this country's electricity needs is a simple as installing solar panels on all roads, cul-de-sacs, alleyways, parking lots, etc (e.g., paved areas, I suppose).

                At first glance that makes good sense, since we've paved over an area equal to Ohio, which is plenty large enough.

                But practically, just how do you "cover a road with solar panels"?  Do you build posts and stick the panels up there on them?  And if so, doesn't the highway safety administration have all kinds of safety regulations that would be violated?  And wouldn't there be all kinds of neighborhoods, scenic routes, etc where people simply would not agree to having these installed, even if safe?

        •  But their further gains in solar capacity will be (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Lawrence, adrianrf

          far cheaper.  Germany is adding solar power capacity at roughly 8-10 GW per year right now, and that will increase.  All projections show that Germany can easily ditch those crusty old nuclear reactors by 2025 and attain a 100% renewable status by 2050.

          •  Miggles, not they can't. Not based on solar. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            WeatherDem, Deward Hastings

            Remember, today, there is almost no storage capacity for any solar at all. Some, and very, very expensive.

            What the Germans have done is to build 2 natural gas pipelines form the Baku region of Azerbijan and one from Russia under the Baltic and have built out a large number of gas turbines. Even to this day, coal burning has not decreased at all and thus with all this renewables, Germany still gets 48% of its electricity from coal. Why is that?

            I'd say the thing to 'ditch' first is coal, then gas, but huge GHG emitters then we can see if low-carbon nuclear could replace low carbon solar and wind (lots more energy from wind...those "8 to 10GWs" year yield about 1 to 2 GWs in actual energy.

            Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

            by davidwalters on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 09:54:07 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  The reality of Germany's IDIOTIC nuclear phase out (0+ / 0-)

            is more fossil fuels burned:

            Also, Gerhard Schröder, Bundeskanzler when the phase out was decided, is now chairman of the board of NordStream (prononced 'Gazprom'). Connect the dots...

      •  Hard to get baseline power from Solar (0+ / 0-)

        which is the point of the other post I have below about grid scale batteries.

        None of those exist yet, either.

        Happy little moron, Lucky little man.
        I wish I was a moron, MY GOD, Perhaps I am!
        —Spike Milligan

        by polecat on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 08:48:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  They exist already: (7+ / 0-)
          Sumitomo Electric Industries Ltd. (Osaka, Japan) has completed and commissioned a combined concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) and energy storage system at its Yokohama Works in Yokohama, Japan.
          The system features the world's largest redox flow battery with a capacity of 1 MW x 5 hours, 100 kW of CPV, and an energy management system (EMS). Sumitomo expects to commission another 100 kW of CPV by the end of the fiscal year, to bring the system to 200 kW.

          On July 11, Gills Onions LLC debuted what is billed as the world’s largest vanadium flow battery, and Duda Farm Fresh Foods Inc. introduced 37,000 square feet of photovoltaic solar panels.
          Karen Ross, secretary of California’s Department of Food and Agriculture; Gordon Burns, undersecretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency; and several local government officials were on hand for the event.
          Gills’ vanadium flow battery, which is as big as a tennis court, stores electricity at night, when energy rates are lowest. During peak daytime hours, the battery provides 600 kilowatts of power for as long as six hours.

          They're still in the very early implementation stage, though, but I can guarantee you that this has Big Fossil very, very worried.

          "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

          by Lawrence on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 09:53:45 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Jeff Immelt (7+ / 0-)

      Nuclear power is so expensive compared with other forms of energy that it has become “really hard” to justify, according to the chief executive of General Electric, one of the world’s largest suppliers of atomic equipment.

      “It’s really a gas and wind world today,” said Jeff Immelt, referring to two sources of electricity he said most countries are shifting towards as natural gas becomes “permanently cheap”.

      “When I talk to the guys who run the oil companies they say look, they’re finding more gas all the time. It’s just hard to justify nuclear, really hard. Gas is so cheap and at some point, really, economics rule,” Mr Immelt told the Financial Times in an interview in London at the weekend. “So I think some combination of gas, and either wind or solar … that’s where we see most countries around the world going.”

      Kiss my ass. This is a Holy Site...

      by jam on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 08:59:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  " . . . economic externalities rule." (0+ / 0-)

        There. Fixed it.

        Courage is contagious. - Daniel Ellsberg

        by semiot on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 09:42:52 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Because they make only $1 billion a year (0+ / 0-)

        on this, or, 1% of their overall sales. Wanna ask what they make selling gas turbines and generator/turbine sets for coal? Or wind turbines? So for GE it's all about profit, not energy.

        Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

        by davidwalters on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 09:48:35 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Nuclear is obsolete and has sucked up way too (8+ / 0-)

      much research funding.  Time to focus on renewables the way we did nuclear over the past 5 decades.

      •  Which is why the industry is growing (0+ / 0-)

        in the countries almost immune from lobbying by wind, solar OR nuclear industries. There has been almost NO focus on nuclear over the past 5 decades. If there were we'd have more nuclear.

        Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

        by davidwalters on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 09:49:32 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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