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View Diary: Wind power is kicking nuclear's ass; meanwhile solar is hitting it out of the ballpark (312 comments)

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  •  Although no single power source (17+ / 0-)

    will ever meet the demands of 100% of this nation's power grid. The 20% goal for wind and solar is not a far stretch to hope for.

    I think it's important to always look at the entire power grid in terms like this, because no one source is ever going to be the whole solution. Or at least we shouldn't want to. Like France's 75% Nuclear grid to me is insane.

    Now when I think about 10 years from now with electric cars being more commonplace, wouldn't it be wonderful to know that your car is moving down the road from wind and solar energy. That makes me smile just thinking about it.

    GOP- Fact Free since 1981!

    by KingGeorgetheTurd on Fri Mar 15, 2013 at 09:52:53 AM PDT

    •  makes me smile to think we could use wind power (9+ / 0-)

      to travel from place to place with little wing propellers on our backs and 'roller blades' on our feet with no need to carry stuff around only the clothes on our back

    •  No single source, no... (16+ / 0-)

      ...but we have to aim for 100% green. I'll settle for twenty percent in the next few years, but or goal has to be complete replacement within a human lifetime.

      Sunday Afternoon Composer: Like Monday Morning Quarterbacking, with music!

      by Freelance Escapologist on Fri Mar 15, 2013 at 10:10:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  well that would be a long term goal. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Freelance Escapologist

        Although I am not current on this, I do recall a few experts discussing the logistical realities of our power grid(from both sides of the spectrum). The debate was more about if 20% was obtainable in the near future. No one, not even the most staunch pushers of the green argument, ever even mentioned 100%.  

        GOP- Fact Free since 1981!

        by KingGeorgetheTurd on Fri Mar 15, 2013 at 10:16:06 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  A friend of mine who left the California PUC (4+ / 0-)

        as a Commissioner in 2012 said that California's 30% green requirement by 2020 was not achievable without approving projects that would significantly increase electricity costs. High power costs hurt low and middle income families the most and are a factor in determining where to build manufacturing capacity.

        "let's talk about that"

        by VClib on Fri Mar 15, 2013 at 10:35:12 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  so what's your alternative? (5+ / 0-)

          If we decide not to build green energy capacity because it'll raise prices in the short term, then we're never going to build it at all.  Your argument is a recipe for BAU forever.

          •  Visceral - it is a difficult public policy delema (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Roger Fox, FG, nzanne

            California is going ahead with its plan and has decided to accept the negative economic consequences that high energy costs produce. California has done this before with strict air and water environmental standards that drove nearly all the heavy manufacturing out of the state. We now have much cleaner air and water, but at the cost of our unionized manufacturing workers and their good paying jobs. My only point is that there are costs and benefits to all of these energy decisions.

            I am a huge fan of solar and alternatives. I was a seed investor in Sun Power (largest US based solar provider) in 1988 and have been active as an adviser and investor for many alternative energy and energy storage startups for 25 years.

            "let's talk about that"

            by VClib on Fri Mar 15, 2013 at 04:23:06 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  CA didn't drive anyone anywhere (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Nebraskablue
              California has done this before with strict air and water environmental standards that drove nearly all the heavy manufacturing out of the state.
              It was executives who couldn't bear to make one penny less in profit who decided to leave town rather than be held to a higher standard.
              We now have much cleaner air and water, but at the cost of our unionized manufacturing workers and their good paying jobs.
              Maybe building lots of solar panels, wind turbines, smart grid, high-speed rail, PWA-type construction projects, etc. would put all those highly-skilled unionized manufacturing workers back to work?  Economic activity feeds on itself; sitting quietly and waiting for the money to come because ... why would it come?

              It's long past time to stop letting the market push us around, then pull that "look what you made me do!" crap, playing the victim of big bad gubmint.  The laws of economics are not physical absolutes.  The race to the bottom - lower pay, lower taxes, lower standards, etc. - doesn't do anyone any good (except billionaire owners).

              •  Visceral - "one penny less in profit" (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                nzanne

                Eventually every physical manufacturing facility wears out and must be refurbished or replaced. As the cost of doing business in California increased and the requirements for meeting the new regulations exceeded the cost of new, state of the art facilities in neighboring states, the decisions were very easy. Add to that the growing perception in the business community that California had become hostile to business generally, and manufacturing specifically, made the future look more problematic. Public company officers and directors have a fiduciary duty to maximize long term shareholder value. For many of them the economics of leaving California were compelling, which had a profound influence on their decisions.

                This was not about pennies.  

                "let's talk about that"

                by VClib on Fri Mar 15, 2013 at 05:06:38 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  so we're doomed (0+ / 0-)

                  The jobs will go to wherever labor is cheapest, taxes are lowest; health, safety, and environmental regulations are weakest; and the government is the most generous with the country's wealth and most eager to repress its own people ... so the only way that California can attract manufacturing jobs is by trying to undersell China.  That'll make people want to live and work here.

                  Makes you wonder how German and Japanese manufacturing stays in business with the crushing burdens of higher taxes, stricter regulation, strong unions, high standards of living, and so on.

                  That still doesn't address the issue of why let Mammon decide what we can and cannot do.  People want things, so let's do them.  To hell with what the market wants.

                  •  Visceral - I didn't say any of those things (0+ / 0-)

                    What I wrote was that public companies have fiduciary duties and have to evaluate their costs. California made the decisions easy for companies with heavy manufacturing to move out of state. However, we have much cleaner air and water which is a real benefit for those of us who live in California. We attract professional service, light manufacturing and high tech knowledge businesses that have a lighter environmental footprint and where power costs are a smaller part of total costs. My only point is that all of these decisions have costs and benefits and we should be aware of all of them as we advocate public policy.

                    "let's talk about that"

                    by VClib on Fri Mar 15, 2013 at 07:25:11 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

              •  Executives are responsible to shareholders. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                VClib

                If they don't make every reasonable effort to save the company money, they are not doing their job. And if it means simply moving to another state they are not sacrificing much.

            •  So, poorer folk are hurt by higher energy prices. (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              JesseCW, Calamity Jean, Sandino

              Unlike, say, living downwind from coal plants, which doesn't affect their health or pocketbooks at all??

              VCLib - I'm not picking on you, just on the knee jerk response of the big utilities (which I've been listening to all week here in CA).

              "Only a Vulcan mind meld will help with this congress." Leonard Nimoy, 3/1/13

              by nzanne on Fri Mar 15, 2013 at 05:48:07 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  The industry needs to be subsidized (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JesseCW, Calamity Jean

          to keep the prices down. We need to protect lower income folk, but we're down to the wire here -- we HAVE to make these changes in a hurry! We have already banked a climate disaster. Its going to happen, whatever we do. But we need to do all we can to minimize it, and we need to do it as fast as physically possible.

        •  30% renewables? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          nzanne, KingGeorgetheTurd

          by 2020?

          Thats harsh.

          Ca has 5% from geothermal, guessing proly another 5-8% (max) from wind and solar.

          20% in 20 years, sure.

          I'd put my money in HVDC, ABB and Seimens doing work in Ca.

          ...... Social Security blogathon March 25th thru March 29th. #HandsOffmySS FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

          by Roger Fox on Fri Mar 15, 2013 at 04:29:20 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  They can do it. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            JesseCW

            "Only a Vulcan mind meld will help with this congress." Leonard Nimoy, 3/1/13

            by nzanne on Fri Mar 15, 2013 at 05:48:30 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  We're uniquely situated to use solar. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Just Bob

            Our peak power use is almost always on really, really sunny days.

            We get serious about getting solar panels on top of movie theaters and malls and roofing parking lots, we can produce electricity where and when it's needed.

            No transmission losses.  No need to massively upgrade grids.  Panels and transformers - done.

            income gains to the top 1% from 2009 to 2011 were 121% of all income increases. How did that happen? Incomes to the bottom 99% fell by 0.4%

            by JesseCW on Fri Mar 15, 2013 at 07:33:39 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Jesse - the challenge is storage (0+ / 0-)

              The sun starts to set, and solar systems start losing power generation capability, while it's still really hot. There is about a two hour period in the early evening when there is no solar power and the temperatures are still very high. The idea that solar and high temps are a great match is only partially true. That is why all utility scale solar facilities in California have a sister natural gas plant to backup the solar to provide load balancing and reliable 24/7/365 power. The key is inexpensive power storage and we are still five to ten years away from solving that problem.

              "let's talk about that"

              by VClib on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 07:05:51 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  There's no real storage challenge. If you've (0+ / 0-)

                got plenty of excess capacity on the rooftop, set your timed thermostat to "ice box" the building late in the day, dropping to 64 or 65.  If you've got any insulation at all, you'll be fine until it cools off.

                We can do what many utilities here have already done, if people don't comply - give the local power company a remote AC shut off to prevent brown-outs.

                income gains to the top 1% from 2009 to 2011 were 121% of all income increases. How did that happen? Incomes to the bottom 99% fell by 0.4%

                by JesseCW on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 01:04:20 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

        •  There are problems no matter what we do (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          VClib

          or even if we do nothing.

          One problem with distributed solar is that the utilities know what the installed capacity is at the various locations but they don't know how much power is being delivered at a given moment at each site. That will take a smarter grid and that will require investment.

          Others have simply gotten old. I prefer to think I've been tempered by time.

          by Just Bob on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 12:31:17 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  20% from wind in 20 years (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Calamity Jean

        Is very likely, solar is right behind wind.

        Throw in some new pumped hydro
        (we have about 20 gigs built decades ago) And we can go to 20% renewables without grid work, then to go past 20% we need to do grid work. To reach 50% and more we need to have significant storage capacity.

        ...... Social Security blogathon March 25th thru March 29th. #HandsOffmySS FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

        by Roger Fox on Fri Mar 15, 2013 at 03:58:23 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Don't forget - we've already got 20% hydro (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          KingGeorgetheTurd, Roger Fox

          nationally.

          Eventually, it would be lovely to set the rivers (relatively) free, but we do already have 20% of our baseline met by a very low carbon source.

          income gains to the top 1% from 2009 to 2011 were 121% of all income increases. How did that happen? Incomes to the bottom 99% fell by 0.4%

          by JesseCW on Fri Mar 15, 2013 at 07:35:13 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Hydro Association says they can add 30% (0+ / 0-)

            SO that 20% nationally is about 100 gigs, they say they can add another 30 gigs, lots of it pumped storage.

            ...... Social Security blogathon March 25th thru March 29th. #HandsOffmySS FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

            by Roger Fox on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 04:26:17 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Sooner than that, or most of (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JeffW
        ... goal has to be complete replacement within a human lifetime.
        today's toddlers won't live to reach old age.  

        Renewable energy brings national global security.     

        by Calamity Jean on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 04:24:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Germany hit 20% in less than a decade (14+ / 0-)

      Link

      And our renewable resources are proportionally much greater than theirs: we have the southwest with amazing solar power potential. Our challenge is transmission.

      We can do this. We need to do this.

      There is a difference between a responsible gun owner, and one that's gotten lucky...so far.

      by BeerNotWar on Fri Mar 15, 2013 at 12:43:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's not even transmission yet. It's just cash. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Just Bob

        income gains to the top 1% from 2009 to 2011 were 121% of all income increases. How did that happen? Incomes to the bottom 99% fell by 0.4%

        by JesseCW on Fri Mar 15, 2013 at 07:36:18 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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