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View Diary: Utilities on Solar & Distributed Power "€œIt's a potential threat to us over the long term" (307 comments)

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  •  Not at all (0+ / 0-)

    I am just realistic about the rate of the installation of DG and what the pace of conversion to renewables will be if people insist on denigrating utility scale renewables because they like DG better.  IN the process of putting these projects up, I encountered a number of "environmentalists" who opposed putting in the solar capacity because it wasn't as good as distributed generation.  My feeling is that we are in a planetary emergency and if you are going to turn away literally billions of dollars of Wall Street investment to put in renewable energy just because you are squeamish about the economic model, then you clearly don't understand the scale or nature of the emergency.  It absolutely floors me that people would make such an argument at all.  

    Similarly, the scope and ability to install local storage makes me understand that large scale dispatchable storage is extremely unlikely to be installed at anywhere near the levels required to make a purely renewable electricity system functional.  We simply don't have that much pumped storage (or the renewable capacity to use it, since pumped storage is quite inefficient). Therefore, I recognize that until 2025 at least, we MUST rely on some form of conventional source. I wish that weren't so, but I'm afraid it is.

     Since coal is absolutely the worst, worst, worst, that is clean out.  Natural gas isn't much better since any leakage eliminated climate change benefits, and local pollution effects are not insignificant.  Thus, what is standing?  I'm afraid I don't see any actually practicable solution except nuclear.  Having looked at the data (admittedly with faulty memory, which I should know not to rely on), even with a worst case Fukushima style disaster, the levels of disease, death and environmental damage are STILL better than widespread use of coal or gas.

    SO, given the urgency of the problem, I think that shooting down what will work because other options that don't yet work might be better is playing into the hands of the coal companies.

    Yes, DG will be important, but let's face it, it is tiny.  Even with MASSIVE and sustained uptake, it still won't eliminate the need for other solutions. It won't be able to do it on its own.

    Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

    by Mindful Nature on Mon Apr 01, 2013 at 08:57:19 PM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  DG vs Utility solar (0+ / 0-)

      is the same basic tech, it's a matter of who is in control of it.

      i think once people start controlling their own power they will start becoming very different.

      And what you call a worst case Fukushima event is playing out.

      When Chernobyl exploded it destroyed the Soviet union.

      Fukushima is destroying japans economy and culture.

      we have one of those things explode here?  It's likely game over for us.

      Einstein said "It's a hell of a way to boil water".  

      I think we will figure out much more easily to improve wind turbine yields, and do that fast.  Now Wind doesn't scale down well, it wants to be bigger.  MW or larger, so that's either going to be Metropollitan or Utility size.

      but back on point,  There is no difference between DG and utility solar.  The Utilities get a nice price advantage  (Buying in Bulk),  but People get speed install advantages.

      Now you think the Baseload problem is intractable, i think it will get fixed by real time pricing, real fast.

      President obama went and pushed a lot of enabling technology.
      That's going to cut in faster then we think.

      •  Well those are not insignificant (0+ / 0-)

        Economies of scale are pretty freaking important.  And it is a lot easier to install capacity in a farm than on a zillion independent separate installations

        So, yes utility scale will continue to outpace DG.  Maybe you crystal ball is right, but I am not going to bet the future of life on earth on it.  Show me what works and how.  Vague starts about relying on unproven future technologies and cherry picked trends does pass the serious analysis test. (75% growth for twelve years?  Has any industry every matched that?).

        Both your statements on Chernobyl and Japan are pretty ignorant of wider trends. For example, the Soviet Union had a lot of other problems, and the impact of the tsunami itself was incomparably larger.  

        Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

        by Mindful Nature on Mon Apr 01, 2013 at 10:32:34 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Micro-electronics has risen (0+ / 0-)

          some 50%CAGR  for 50 years?

          and PV is riding the Silicon curve.

          Inverters? Mostly electronics.

          Panels?  Mostly SIlicon.

          if they start mandating all houses and buildings have PV Roof mounts at construction, that will make later PV installs super cheap.

          •  LOL! (0+ / 0-)

            oh, yeah, consumer electronics sales have been growing at 50% a year for 50 years.  Let's see, so if there were 1,000 transitor radios sold in 1963, that would mean that at that rate, the US would purchase the equivalent some 637 BILLION radios!  I suppose that means that every man woman and child would have to spend the equivalent of 2,100 radios this year.  

            Great news if you are Bestbuy!

            Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

            by Mindful Nature on Tue Apr 02, 2013 at 09:12:11 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  either you are poor at math or you (0+ / 0-)

              have trouble reading

              micro-electronics has been rising at aboout 50%/year CAGR, it's why the Doubling period is about 18 months (See Moore's law).

              This hasn't resulted in more devices but it sure has resulted in a lot more transistors in a device.  

              In 1954 the TR-1 Transistor radio had 4 transistors  in it.
              The XM Satellite radio in my car, has probably a dozen chips in it with i'd ballpark maybe 40 million transistors in them each

              That 64 GB Music stick i use to store my driving tunes and lectures?  What 2 Gates per bit, 8 transistors per NAND gate. 8 bits per byte plus ECC circuits?
               Probably 2 trillion transistors in there.

              really, you should practice your analysis skills.

              •  You were suggesting (0+ / 0-)

                That there would be a 70% year on year growth in installations over the next twelve years.  That isn't about improvements per panel (which have not improved in keeping with Moore's law, by the way) so yes this is the comparable analysis. The rate of miniaturization in an unrelated technology is not particularly relevant.

                Since you missed this point, and basically are clueless about the solar industry, you ought not be lecturing anyone about analytical skills. But I guess you can't help but insult people.  It seems to be all you know

                Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

                by Mindful Nature on Tue Apr 02, 2013 at 02:34:46 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  $/watt vs $/transistor (0+ / 0-)

                  moores law reflected a massive decline in cost per transistor which enabled new apps and new markets

                  the steady relentless decrease in $/watt in PV is driving massive install rates.

                  Deutsche thinks we are at the knee of the curve for cost parity in PV.  

                  •  First (0+ / 0-)

                    1) Moore's law doesn't apply to PV, which has decreased in price much more slowly.  (Otherwise my PV startup that I tried launching in 2005 would still be around).  PV is not a mass of transistors
                    2) the drop in price is driving installation, but that's been driven by excess capacity in CHina.  THere's a consolidation going on now, so that will be going away.  
                    3) The utility scale installations (which make up the bulk of PV) is being driven by tax code changes that are coming up.  I talk with utility developers regularly on this point.

                    Yes, it will continue to increase, but at nothing like 70% a year.  Those are just the facts.

                    Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

                    by Mindful Nature on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 07:42:52 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  lets see what happens. (0+ / 0-)

                      give it 2 years.

                      •  sure (0+ / 0-)

                        sounds good.

                        I just got off the phone with a solar generation investor.  His quote made me think of you:  "PV prices have bottomed out."  I was a little shocked at that assessment.

                        Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

                        by Mindful Nature on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 03:20:36 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Even if cells bottom out at 50c/watt, (0+ / 0-)

                          what will modules bottom out at?

                          What will Inverters bottom out at?

                          What will install costs bottom out at?

                        •  was he talking Poly crystal silicon (0+ / 0-)

                          monocrystal?  Thin Film?
                          CdTe? CIGS?  Organics?
                          Flex film?

                          I remember intensely how people would explain to me
                          that "X" tech was bottomed out in Silicon Memory,
                          and a year later, line sizes would be down.

                          SemaTech and DoD spent a fortune trying to make XRay
                          lasers for etching and we never needed to get there.

                          UV drove feature sizes down below anything every dreamed
                          of in simple physics.

                          •  actually (0+ / 0-)

                            it was a comment in passing in the context of issues he's looking at in his decision to work on residential and commercial projects rather than utility scale.    I would guess thin film, though.

                            Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

                            by Mindful Nature on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 04:57:53 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  not a lot of Thin Film (0+ / 0-)

                            manufacturing most of the Chinese production
                            is Poly Crystal PV

                            Most analysts have been hoping that Thin Film takes off, or
                            printed materials, but so far Poly Crystal has been  dominating the market.

                            I think Nano dots and nano wire and improved use of silcon leaves another 2X on the table for that, long before they jump to CIGS or CdTe.  

                            CMOS and NiCMOS stayed with aluminum lithography decades longer then i ever thought, it's only recently silicon CPUs went to copper and they've never gone to SIlver or Gold, despite the better conductivity.  

                            I think given the size of the market, anyone who can figure out  ways to edge it on either Watts/Panel, $/Watt or $/KWH will change the game.

      •  Here's another interesting fact (0+ / 0-)

        from this chart by July 2011, radiation levels across Japan were markedly lower (~450 uSv) than background levels in newYork (800) or London (2000). Even shortly after the accident Tokyo barely pipped NY and was still at half of Londons backgtound. I guess the culture in NY and London must have been destroyed by background radiation!

        Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

        by Mindful Nature on Mon Apr 01, 2013 at 10:47:56 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The Japanese Gvt and Nuclear industry lied (0+ / 0-)

          badly in the months after the accident.

          levels were 1000 times what they were releasing.

          http://fukushima-diary.com/...

          can you explain how people are seeing these levels of dust? 2 years later?

          The JPG was setting up rigged counters all around the country.

          •  oh (0+ / 0-)

            I see, it's all a conspiracy.

            Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

            by Mindful Nature on Tue Apr 02, 2013 at 07:33:38 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  if you can't see the Major players lying (0+ / 0-)

              well, that speaks more to you, then you think.

              In broad strokes, what do you think happened at Fukushima?

              what was the damage to the reactors at Dai-ichi, Dai-ini and Tokai?

              How much radiation was released and when did they know it?

              •  I see (0+ / 0-)

                well, this is why you are so confident.  Any actual data that contradicts your preconceptions must be a lie!

                I think that there were a series of serious fires that released a good deal of radiation, but by the time this dispersed, the actual levels in the wider environment were relatively low, and the actual health impacts are anticipated to be commensurately low to non existent.

                I also think that the scientifically semi-literate paranoid anti-nuclear community has pushed a ton of misinformation and crap out there, much the same way the fossil fuel industry attacks climate science.

                Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

                by Mindful Nature on Tue Apr 02, 2013 at 09:15:17 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  okay lets be specific (0+ / 0-)

                  whats the damage and status at:

                  Fukushima Daichi Unit 1?
                   FD Unit 1 Store Fuel Pool?

                  FD Unit 2?
                  FD Unit 2 SFP?

                  FD Unit 3?
                  FD Unit 3 SFP?

                  FD Unit 4?
                  FD Unit 4 SFP?

                  FD Unit 5?
                  FD Unit 5 SFP?

                  FD Unit 6?
                  FD Unit 6 SFP

                  Common Fuel Pool Fuku Daichi?

                  Fuku Dainin Unit 1
                  F Daini U1  SFP?

                  Fuku Daini Unit 2?
                  F Daini Unit 2 SFP?

                  F Daini Unit 3?  
                  F Daini U3 SFP?

                  F Daini Unit 4?
                  F Daini U4 SFP?

                  Tokai Unit 1
                  Tokai Unit 2?

                  How many curies of radiation were released by the incident at the above reactors?

                  Answering I don't know is a reasonable answer, by the way.

                  •  Relevant how? (0+ / 0-)

                    Answer: not enough to pose a significant health impact, according to, you know, actual scientists who understand epidemiology

                    Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

                    by Mindful Nature on Tue Apr 02, 2013 at 02:37:05 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  so you dislike specifics (0+ / 0-)

                      well, that's just sad.

                      because the numbers matter here.

                      Why don't you take a look at the sea lions turning up dead on the California coast.  

                      the numbers aren't looking good for them

                      •  maybe (0+ / 0-)

                        they were poisoned by unicorn farts? HOnestly, of all the ridiculous things you've come up with, that's up there.  I'm sure that Fukushima explains the increase in ADHD too, amirite? /snark

                         Seriously, no one has a clue what is driving that.  Your lack of interest in the actual science, and your interest in blaming everything on Fukushima shows that you really are not serious in delving into the reality of this.  

                        Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

                        by Mindful Nature on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 08:06:50 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  if you can't say how many curies were released (0+ / 0-)

                          there is no scientific discussion with you.

                          •  We established that (0+ / 0-)

                            I think you quoted 60 million.  Which, after being analyzed by scientists, gave rise to a risk assessment, which is what actually matters.  

                            But yeah, if you don't have the atomic weight of K-40 memorized, there's no having a scientific discussion with you either.  (I'm not convinced you know what the word "Scientific" actually means)

                            Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

                            by Mindful Nature on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 03:22:31 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  so you are comfortable with the number 60 million (0+ / 0-)

                            for the total curies released?

                            we can discuss the isotopic spectra of what that was next,
                            but, I feel like I have to walk you like a 4th grader through the math.

                          •  whatevs (0+ / 0-)

                            it is an estimate, since of course know one actually knows.  HOwever, there's no need to talk about isotopes here, since people who actually do that for a living have actually already done that.  And, no, you don't really need to walk me through it, since I've mostly already recognized what is actually relevant, and it isn't that.  I don't see any reason to sit through a lecture on stuff that I already know, already understand isn't relevant, and probably understand better than you do.   I'm going to hazard that I probably understand those key epidemiological models well enough, seeing as I have a PhD in population biology.

                            Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

                            by Mindful Nature on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 05:01:34 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  so you aren't comfortable with 60 million curies (0+ / 0-)

                            released.

                            What number are you comfortable with?

                          •  So the models (0+ / 0-)

                            Are what you believe in?

                        •  could you tell this guy it was Unicorn Farts? (0+ / 0-)

                          http://www.youtube.com/...

                          85 KM from the explosion, living and eating locally?

          •  ZOMG! (0+ / 0-)

            The WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION IS IN ON IT TOO!  It's all Agenda 21 I tell you!

            Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

            by Mindful Nature on Tue Apr 02, 2013 at 07:43:01 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

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