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View Diary: Our Dream Come True: Solar Power is as Cheap as Gas, Coal Plants Closing Slashing CO2 Emissions (248 comments)

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  •  Battery Tech doesn't matter w/Net Metering (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Naniboujou, nzanne, Just Bob

    because with net metering your electric bill could be twenty bucks a month, and you can't purchase a battery bank for under 5 grand, so it makes NO SENSE to mess with batteries, The Grid in your battery.

    80 % of Success is Just Showing Up!

    by Churchill on Mon Oct 07, 2013 at 07:50:38 AM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  I don't understand "the grid is your battery" b/c (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JayBat, Churchill

      if everybody wants electricity at 9pm on a winter night and solar can't be stored, the electricity delivered by "the grid" must have been generated by non-renewable means, no?

      •  Spain's GemaSolar array is using molten salt (11+ / 0-)

        Massive solar array generates power even when the sun is down

        The battery is actually molten salt, which is pumped through the tower where it is heated up to over 1,100 degrees F. Some of the superheated liquid salt generates steam to run a turbine generator, while the rest is stored in giant pools so it can run the turbine when it's dark out. The tower itself is heated by the sun using the 2,493 mirrors that surround it, so I guess you don't want to be anywhere near that tower unless you enjoy being sautéed.

        "Compassion is the radicalism of our time." ~ Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama -7.88, -6.21

        by Siri on Mon Oct 07, 2013 at 09:24:15 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  because the grid has base loads at night (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        thus, you don't need batteries becaus the grid is your battery.  Base loads will come from coal and natural gas and wind.

        80 % of Success is Just Showing Up!

        by Churchill on Mon Oct 07, 2013 at 09:24:31 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Churchill and SFM are discussing the two sides (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RiveroftheWest, Odysseus, Bronx59

        of the same conversation.

        From the consumers' point of view, using the grid as "battery back up" makes perfect sense - well worth the $20-35/mo required in base fees.

        But SFM is right from the utilities' POV: that they still need to be able to supply electricity even when the sun doesn't shine.

        That's the mega debate right now in the country: how to compensate the utilities for this? There are white papers out supporting each POV; I believe a new, more objective one is due out soon.

        The number of children and teens killed by guns in one year would fill 134 classrooms of 20 students each. (Chlldren's Defense Fund, 2013)

        by nzanne on Mon Oct 07, 2013 at 10:31:22 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Why non-renewable? (0+ / 0-)

        The wind still blows at night, and rivers that power hydroelectric dams don't stop flowing when the sun sets. Things like pumped storage can deliver energy at night, too.

        There will probably always be some non-renewable sources in the mix, but "must have been generated by non-renewable means [?] No"(you just had the question mark and comma wrong).

        Most places, peak demand is on hot summer days when the sun is shining and solar flux is highest (although where I live it's in January, because everyone here heats with electricity, since it costs less than anything else here).

        No matter how cynical you become, it's never enough to keep up - Lily Tomlin

        by badger on Mon Oct 07, 2013 at 05:09:28 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  mix of renewables (0+ / 0-)

        wind blows at night, hydro runs at night.

        Buildings also function as a kind of storage; I run my boiler for heat only certain hours, and then my house gradually cools down overnight while I'm tucked under quilts.

        Right now, the peak loads (at least where I am) are summer days when everyone's running A/C. If you increase capacity for those peak times, you can shut down the dirtiest fossil fuel and nuke plants. It will be a long time before we have enough renewables to shut down every last fossil and nuke -- but every 5% cut makes a difference in both CO2 and air quality.

    •  It Matters (9+ / 0-)

      Yes, net metering and efficient distribution are adequate in the absence of efficient batteries. But distribution costs a lot of power that batteries could save.

      So much energy is now consumed by charging device batteries, or other DC electronics (including all TVs and audio/video boxes, LEDs, etc). Solar electricity that starts as DC at the panel is converted into AC for transmission (by inverter) even into the building's existing wiring, then back into DC at the device (by AC/DC transformers that are usually always on - and warm - even though their device is off for 90%+ of the time. That's anywhere from 10-25% of the energy wasted in conversions. If it's actually sent offsite to the grid before consumed by a distant building, even in the same town, it's perhaps another 10-15%. So anywhere from about 20-40% is wasted. That's 20-40% less generating infrastructure, and that much less payback time (faster ROI).

      Batteries do have to get more efficient and a lot cheaper to be worth it. But the rapidly growing electric car industry is driving both. While leaving used batteries for purchase for buildings and grid storage where they could live many more years.

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

      by DocGonzo on Mon Oct 07, 2013 at 08:35:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  That's a valid perspective but there are other (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jayden, ModerateJosh

      justifications for battery backup.

      If you've ever gone 2 or 3 weeks waiting for power to be restored you'll understand. If your circumstances can justify $30,000 for a backup gen set, you could justify $5,000 for batteries.

      That introduces another aspect of battery backup. Although you can lower the electric bill even more with batteries, electrical codes get in the way of using batteries for backup power on a grid connected system due to the danger of the "islanding effect", the possibility that a lineman could be harmed due to power being supplied from alternate sources in a distributed power system.

      While I suspect a manual buss transfer switch allowing you to run off grid would satisfy most jurisdictions, I've also heard that there has never been a case where a lineman has been killed or injured due to islanding. I can believe that. Linemen are well trained to treat all wires as if they may be hot. Additionally, if I have 200 amp service and suddenly the entire neighborhood load is placed on my batteries, the mains breaker is going to trip.

      There are other considerations that may become a battleground:

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

      by Just Bob on Mon Oct 07, 2013 at 06:52:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  You're assuming (0+ / 0-)

      without reason, that the person in question is hooked up to the electricity grid.

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