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I want to talk about solar systems, and I will thus begin by mentioning that the solar powered Mars Spirit spacecraft, now operating (as of this writing) on its 1,811th Martian day on the surface of Mars, recently experienced an energy surge, when the Martian wind blew dust off its solar panels.

Just Say No To Windex In Outer Space.

The Spirit Rover, according to the press release now produces 240 Watt-Hours of electrical energy per Martian day, up from 210 watt-hours.    The craft - my kind of spacecraft since I love space robots - requires 180 watt-hours a day to survive, so it now has an extra 60 watt-hours with which to play.

Speaking of watt-hours, you can read all about the solar system installed on the roof of the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art by clicking on this link.

The system, we learn by clicking, is 52 kilowatts we are told by the Museum, which describes the system as massive.


How "massive" is it?   The average American, according to the EIA, the 'average' American consumes about 335 million BTU a year.   Translating this to familiar units of electricity as power - although it includes stuff like dangerous gasoline for cars and dangerous natural gas for heating - and dangerous coal for generating electricity - one can see that this translates to an average power consumption of about 11,200 watts per person per year, or 11.2 kilowatts, since a day contains 86400 seconds and a year 365.25 days.

Thus, in theory the "massive" solar system installed on the roof of the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art would - operating 24/7/365.25 produce as much energy as is required for five people to do everything people do in the United States on average.

But does it?

The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art has installed on its "massive" solar system, a product that allows every single person with access to a computer to look at the power and - more importantly - energy the system produces.

Not "peak" power, but actual power, not theoretical energy, but actual energy.  

Click on this link to see the actual energy output live from the Mass MoCA.

Now click on "view data."

A new window pops up.   Adjust the start date to Jan 1, 2008.   Choose "span of one year - energy by month" and click on the "table" button.

The total energy produced by the Mass MoCA solar system will come up as a table that may be imported into a spreadsheet program and summed.

The total for 2008 is 47,514.3 kWh of electricity actually produced by the "massive" system.   There are 8766 hours in a year (24 * 365.25).    A power system of any type that is one "kilowatt" will, in theory, operating continuously thus produce 8766 kWh.   A "51.6 kw" system will thus produce therefore, in theory, 452,000 kWh per year.   Dividing this number into the actual energy output gives the capacity factor - or how reliable the system is.

For the Mass MoCA system this figure is thus, by direct calculation 10.6% meaning that the Mass MoCA system on average produced the energy needs of one half of one American.

According to the website Solar Buzz as of this writing the average cost of a solar installation in the United States is $4.81 per "watt" meaning that an average system the size of the Mass MoCA system would cost about $250,000 - but I'm sure there's a volume discount.

But maybe I'm wrong...let's see...oh, it is:   The grant was $700,000.

Screwing around with the very interesting data page we can quickly learn what the actual "peak" power of the Mass MoCA "51.6 kw" solar system was in 2006.

It's best performing months in 2008 were in May and in July.   The best day in July of 2008, July 26, 2008 the system peaked at 40.367 kw.   Looking at the graph for that day, it was over 40 kw for about 10 minutes, and below it for the rest of the 24 hour period.

Let's look at the best day in May 2008 in energy terms.   On May 28, 2008, the system produced the maximum for a single day in May, 349.2 kWh.   Since a day has 24 hours, and the system is claimed to be 51.6 kw (theoretical 1,238 kWh at 100%) the actual best capacity utilization of the system was 28.2% on that best of all days in may for system performance.

On June 21, 2008, the first day of summer, the system produced zero energy, although on June 23, two days later, it produced 560.8 kWh, one of two days in the entire year where it produced more than 500 kWh.   The record day for the entire year was June 13, 2008, when it produced 632.0 kWh.  This is a capacity factor - for a single day - of 50.1%.

On the first day of winter of 2008, Dec 21, the system produced zero energy, and had a capacity factor of zero.  It produced zero energy on December 20, zero energy on New Year's Eve day, zero energy on Dec 17.

The best day in December of 2008 was December 8, 2008, when it produced 108 kWh, or 8.8% of its nominal capacity.

At no point did the system ever produce peak power levels of 51.6 kw.    The highest peak power level for the entire system in 2008 occurred on June 1, 2008 when the system briefly produced 43.491 kw.   Looking at the graph for that day, it was that high for about 5 or 10 minutes, maybe even less, depending on how the software works.

Thus it is fair to say that the claim of a "51.6 kw" power plant is misleading at best, and an outright lie at worst.

As I write the power output of this system is 12.51 kw, at the total power generated by the system during its entire existence is 86893.9 kWh.

The average cost of power in Massachusetts is given by the EIA, and the commercial rate for 2006 was one of the highest in the nation an astounding 15.54 cents per kWh.   Thus over it's life - assuming that this record setting price of electricity prevails in Massachusetts indefinitely into the future, the solar PV system for the Mass MoCA has produced $13,500 worth of electricity.

It would probably be unfair to attribute the entire $700,000 grant to the solar system.   However, to recover the cost of this grant, the system would need to operate flawlessly for 51 years - and that's not counting interest on the money and any maintenance.   Actually though, solar PV systems degrade over time, an effect known as the Stabler-Wronski effect.

(To be fair, this effect in amorphous silicon cells slows after about 1000 hours of solar irradiation, and is probably no longer a major consideration for the Mass MoCA system described here.  c.f. Compaan, "Photovoltaics Clean Power for the 21st Century" Solar Energy Materials & Solar Cells 90 (2006) 2170–2180.   However it is well known that roofing materials exposed to the elements do degrade from wind, rain, heating, cooling etc.   There is no evidence that this solar PV system will be operating at a level as high as 10% capacity factor in 50 years, if it is operating at all.)

Originally posted to NNadir on Sun Mar 01, 2009 at 10:59 AM PST.


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Comment Preferences

  •  Claiming that we would also need some coal to (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sberel, murasaki, raoul78

    reduce enough silicon to make 600,000,000 Mass MoCA sized solar PV systems, starting to talk about batteries, graphs that spend a part of the day at the value of "zero," - rain in Massachusetts, snow in Massachusetts - salesmen misrepresenting numbers - grants to performing artists that are denied - hidden happy valleys, cloudy hide rates and clear bright troll rates all go here.

  •  I'm voting for the MFA in Boston (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MarkInSanFran, sberel, kurt, palantir

    Amazing collection of Japanese stuff.

    Democrats promote the Common good. Republicans promote Corporate greed.

    by murasaki on Sun Mar 01, 2009 at 11:13:36 AM PST

  •  The tip is for highlighting MassMOCA, (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TX Unmuzzled, sberel, NNadir, kurt, palantir

    a truly great artspace, not so much for the denigration of their efforts to reduce their dependence on conventional energy sources.

    When you go to North Adams, do check out the work of my friend Brandon Graving.  Really good stuff.

    grumble grumble mutter mutter

    by Crashing Vor on Sun Mar 01, 2009 at 11:16:29 AM PST

    •  N Adams is a charming place. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sberel, Crashing Vor, kurt, palantir

      It exists in the shadow of Williams College in adjacent Williamstown, but Mass MOCA, developed under Gov Dukakis as an economic development tactic in devastated rural Mass is a jewel for the nation. I love it, the nearby hotels and art exhibits and restaurants. And the mountains there and in nearby southern Vermont are just awesome. And then there's amazing antiquing up and down the mountains and in nearby upstate New York just across the border.

      Can't say enough about that area. A hidden gem if there ever was one.

      Texas: Molly Ivins, Ann Richards, Bill Moyers, Barbara Jordan, Lloyd Bentsen, Jim Hightower, Dan Rather, Lady Bird, Sam Rayburn, Willie Nelson, LBJ

      by TX Unmuzzled on Sun Mar 01, 2009 at 11:21:15 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Unless you actually have (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        NNadir, Crashing Vor, kurt

        to live here and find a job that pays more than minimum wage. Or deal with winter--as in the snowstorm bearing down on us...etc, etc.

        "'club America salutes you' says the girl on the door/we accept all major lies, we love any kind of war"--The Cure, "Club America"

        by Wheever on Sun Mar 01, 2009 at 11:38:34 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  It's got to be tough right now up there, with (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          the tourism industry being strangled as well.

          I have an in-law who's always pressuring us to move up there - and who can't grasp how much we love central New Jersey.

          We don't want to get into it though, but "job" always ends the conversation.

          Rough times.   Good luck to you, though.

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

            And staying in Jersey is the smart thing to do.

            Jobs have always been a problem up here, with the best of times bringing more working-poor level jobs, rather than good jobs. The economy of this area was always fueled by factories, and there are few of those left. We survive, but just barely sometimes.

            "'club America salutes you' says the girl on the door/we accept all major lies, we love any kind of war"--The Cure, "Club America"

            by Wheever on Sun Mar 01, 2009 at 02:40:31 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Suppose you could invest in something up there. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              Just imagine.

              What kind of industry would you install?

              If I have this right, the area was connected with textiles, which are gone, I guess.

              What, in your view, might be made well in that part of Massachusetts?   What would the infrastructure support?

              •  North Adams (0+ / 0-)

                Was electronics. Sprague electric, to be precise. Where I live, just across the border in Vermont, were the textile mills. When I was young, there would be traffic jams when the shifts changed, and you scheduled your trips accordingly.

                The problem is that there is no infrastructure anymore. Access used to be by rail, and a lot of the rails are still there, but rail traffic is pretty light and all of the depots are gone. Most of the roads are two-lane, so truck traffic is difficult and slow. It's a conundrum. This area, like the rust belt, was dumped in to the chipper when  manufacturing jobs were shipped overseas.

                Mass MoCA was supposed to be the vanguard of the new economy for the area, and it's certainly brought in jobs, but nothing like enough.

                So I guess what I'm saying is I have no fucking idea what could be the new economy up here. Whenever a startup of some type succeeds, it gets bought up and moved elsewhere.

                So I dunno. We were trying to bail and go to CA when the shit hit the fan.

                "'club America salutes you' says the girl on the door/we accept all major lies, we love any kind of war"--The Cure, "Club America"

                by Wheever on Mon Mar 02, 2009 at 09:29:09 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Well if you have rail access and rail rights of (0+ / 0-)

                  way - and I looked on the rail maps of the area - you have something that may be very valuable in the future, particularly if rails are electrified.

                  Now, my next question will seem bizarre, but I'm trying to think out loud here:   Does North Adams have a public sewer system?

                  Is there a wood products or agricultural industry nearby?

                  Trade schools?


                  Gas lines?

                  Machinists - even if they are now working at Walmart selling stuff from Thailand?

                  What shape are the abandoned factories in?



                  Public water?

                  How are the public schools?

                  We will not fix this mess we are in unless we ask ourselves these questions.

      •  Actually though, Mike Dukakis was the worst (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Presidential candidate that we put up in my lifetime.

        I really had to hold my nose to vote for that guy, although I'd do it again, given what Bushism has done to America.

        He is the only Democratic Candidate of that era who refused to meet with Glenn Seaborg - the Nobel Laureate Chemist - whose political views were a great asset to the Democratic Party.

        That says all you need to know about Dukakis.

        Glenn Seaborg personally knew every single President of the United States from Harry Truman to Bill Clinton (He particularly despised Nixon, although he had an effective nominal cabinet rank - same as under Johnson and Kennedy).

        Dukakis's "work" on stopping work on Seabrook 2 has lead to many deaths in New England, and it always broke my heart to drive past that area - which I did relatively often - to see that rotting unfinished hulk of Seabrook 2.

    •  Well, the system is a pretty good advertising (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Crashing Vor


    •  But I will add, by way of "denigration" though (0+ / 0-)

      that they may have very good decisions on art, but their decisions on being power executives are, well, dubious.

      It matters if things work, and "good intentions" are not enough.

      I get a little tired of hearing that numbers don't matter.   They do.

      If every Museum tries to go into the energy business - and are as oblivious about it - we will quickly find Museums that are bankrupt both financially and artistically.

      They could have funded a lot of art with $700,000 dollars.

      In fact, they could have invested in local bonds for local schools - bonds that may have funded art programs - and returned enough interest to have paid all of their energy bills.   I happen to have family in the area, and I hear of elementary school classes there with 40 kids in the classroom.   What's wrong with that picture?

      This was a dumb decision made by people who clearly were out of their league in the operative area.

  •  I am a dimbulb can you put it (0+ / 0-)

    in lightbulb terms. how many 100 watt light bulbs can i run in the building.

    •  That depends on the time of year. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      You will have a big problem trying to run even one light bulb when you need it most, at night.

      I would guess that Mass MoCA uses fluorescent lighting - at least I hope they do - although lighting is important for the display of art works.

      Maybe a useful reference is a refrigerator.

      Here's the consumption of some fairly common refrigerators.

      I'd guess that on average, each average day at Mass MoCA produces enough energy to run one half a refrigerator for a year, as a first approximation.

      Thus overall it's something like 180 refrigerators for a year.

      •  Was this the absolute cutting edge in panels? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        because damn NNadir, this massive system sure doesn't seem to be making a massive dent in power production.

        I think I will hold off on trying to get a $700,000.00 grant to buy a 250,000 dollar system and just wait for solar paint.

        •  The specifications of the system are given (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          in the Heliotrope link.   I don't know about the particular types of cells used, although I think I looked into when I wrote a similar diary on another website to mock a set of whiny ignoramuses I have come to know.

          It does seem to me that this system wasn't a very good financial deal and that someone made off with a lot of extra money.

          I don't know.

          I don't believe that solar energy will be more than a niche product in the lifetime of anyone now living.

          If I'm wrong, the external costs will be obviated, and I'll bet you hear lots of "where the hell were you for the last 50 years" complaints from armchair environmentalists.

  •  At least they are trying (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    I think the point was more of a concept than a real world exercise.

    I like the MASS MOCA.  I typically go there when I visit my friend that lives in North Adams.  She teaches at Mass College of Liberal Arts.  She loves the area and has recently purchased a house.

    I remember when the renovations of MASS MOCA were covered even by "This Old House."  I thought it was cool then and I was even more delighted when I saw the results in person.

    On my last visit I saw the Sol LeWitt exhibit.  It was an amazing installation.  It was also deemed the Best Museum Exhibit in 2008 by Time Magazine:,30583,1855948_1863352,00.html

    I don't need to move mountains, I just need the strength to climb.

    by Mote Dai on Sun Mar 01, 2009 at 01:34:05 PM PST

    •  This is NOT a criticism of the museum! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kurt, raoul78

      This is a diary about the wise use of resources.

      The fact is that solar PV energy is NOT a good investment for institutions with limited resources.   I make the same claim for the, um, planet earth.

      If we all could afford $700,000 worth of equipment to generate the energy for one person - the bill would come to 4.2 quadrillion dollars.   We can't afford it, and that's the point, nothing about the museum.

      I personally think the museum got scammed.

      Now, I have no doubt that the would not have gotten $700,000 in funding as a grant for artists, but there is something very, very, very, very wrong headed in this.

  •  Did King Kong succumb to dangerous fossil fuels? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I'm this close to denouncing you as a shill for the lutefisk industry!

    •  Kong is taking a break for some therapy. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Many of his friends feel as if he has having some kind of post-traumatic stress event from that biplane thing.

      Faye has been very concerned, and she has asked his friends to try to keep him away from Kos, at least for a few days, until this episode ameliorates, and he's back in good cheer.

  •  Quibbles from a disenfranchised Kong voter... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    You've got the wrong units in the paragraph beginning "How massive is it?"  Watts are a unit of instantaneous power consumption.  For consumption over time, you need watt-hours.

    For solar, it doesn't seem right to average over a 24-hour period when rating actual output as a percentage of capacity.  Nobody expects solar cells to produce energy at night.

    •  I have deliberately mixed units of power and (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      energy here.

      I think most Americans can relate to units of power (because it helps them to refer to familiar things like light bulbs) and "gallons of gasoline."

      When you say "watts" you can say things (as I didn't say here), "The average American uses as much energy as it would take to keep 110 light bulbs running continuously."

      Of course, incandescent light bulbs are being phased out - and I think this is a good thing - so we may need to change the reference.

  •  Mars Science Laboratory. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Personally, as far as the red planet is concerned, I'm quite looking forward to MSL.

    It's the size of a small Volkswagen, it is packed with very cool scientific instruments, including but not limited to a large laser capable of remotely vaporising bits of rocks, and the whole thing is very mobile.

    How is it able to achieve all these features? By doing away with the limitations of solar power systems :)

    What would Carl Sagan do?

    by enochthered on Sun Mar 01, 2009 at 07:31:44 PM PST

    •  I'm not familiar with the program. (0+ / 0-)

      Plutonium-238 based?

      One of the ironies about Pu-238 systems is that they are actually cases of something you used to hear about but don't hear about all that much any more:

      The idea of shooting so called "nuclear waste" into space.

      All of the Pu-238 sent into space thus far is actually obtained by irradiating Np-237, a so called "waste" with neutrons (after one beta decay in Np-238).

      This is not a bad use for Np-237, but I hate on one level to see it go, since I regard it as a valuable material and a potential nuclear reaction catalyst.

      The stuff can actually be used quite well here on earth and in the future may represent one of the best sources for something we don't realize is very non-renewable:  He-4.  

      I would suspect that in the future He-4 is going to be considered very exotic and rare, since every bit of it released into the atmosphere ultimately boils off into space.

      It may be accessible from the decay of Pu-238 and Cm-242 (as well as some Cm-244) here on earth.

  •  is there a story here? (0+ / 0-)

    I'm not sure what is surprising here.  Both the output of the system and its cost are not out of line for PV installations.  It's pretty common for systems to have cost about $12-$15 per rated per watt and to produce about 1 kWh/yr per rated peak watt in a place like Massachusetts.  The overall delivered cost of power from PV system is typically about $1.00/kwh or more when system costs are amortized over 25 years.  

    If anyone is surprised by this then they aren't very familiar with PV.  The systems are nowhere near cost-effective and the only justification for installations (in areas with access to the grid) is as demonstration projects or as part of a strategy to help reduce future costs through the creation of artificial demand.  This strategy is having some success as installed costs have certainly dropped in recent years but it's still far from competitive with conventional power sources.  

    I can certainly see a strong argument that money spent on PV systems represents resources that could have gone to much more worthwhile investments like energy efficiency.

    Mass MoCa itself is excellent -- I've been there about half a dozen times (the upside down trees always fascinate).  If you are out that way, the Clark (in Williamstown) is also a very good museum and summer concerts at Tanglewood and theater throughout the region are excellent.  

    •  You mean that solar energy after 50 years of HYPE (0+ / 0-)

      is still just a toy for people with too much money on their hands?

      Well I certainly knew that.

      In the meantime - unremarked by the very deluded "renewables will save us" crowd, subset anti-nuke - we have a very serious crisis on our hands now.

      Efficiency by the way does nothing to address poverty.   That too is another "subsidize the rich consumer" scam.

      You can't conserve much if you only get 8 watts of power on average.   But God forbid we pay any attention to poverty.

      •  ah, back to the old NNadir (0+ / 0-)

        reply with misinformation and hyperbole while arguing against points I didn't even make.  Solar energy has not had 50 years of hype -- it had about 3 years of beginner hype in the late 70s and went dormant until about 3 years ago.  Any other claim is bullshit.  By the way, cheer leading from hippies is quite different from a large scale investment of resources.  

        Your argument about efficiency and poverty is just pulled out of your ass.  You were writing about Mass MoCa's PV system and I agreed that it might be considered a waste of resources compared to other options like an efficiency investment.  If we were talking about PV installations in Africa you might have some sort of point, but alas we weren't and your point on that topic would still be weak.  

        Efficiency and solar may play a bigger role in the third world than you think.  Many tens of thousands of solar cookers are being used in impoverished areas and having a big impact on wood/fuel burning which reduces pollution, frees up people's time to do more productive things, and keeps girls and women safe from rape when they go to forage for fuel (especially true in refugee camps).  They are growing rapidly in use.  

        But, following in your footsteps, you don't give  a shit about poor people in the third world or else you wouldn't put all your eggs in the nuclear basket and denigrate solar and efficiency.  There are billions of people who are not on the grid and won't be there soon.  If you gave a shit, you might actually support a lot more effort on solar options -- including having first world people waste their money on overpriced PV so that the costs can come down and some power can be brought more cheaply to those living in poverty.  But you don't actually give a shit -- you just like to accuse others of not caring.  Your hypocrisy is perhaps even greater than your uninformed arrogance.

        Have a nice day...

        •  Than I think? Ever here of "scale?" (0+ / 0-)

          How many impoverished people do you think there are?

          "Tens of thousands?"

          I am really, really, really, really, really, really, really impressed.

          I recall some years ago a website I went to where a bunch of yuppies went to Haiti with a laptop and a solar cell - no word on the cost of plane flights - to have themselves photographed providing internet service to Haitian children.

          I counted maybe 30 kids in the photograph, not counting all the self satisfied "I'm saving the world with solar stuff" yuppies.

          Let's say that solar in Haiti has a remarkable 25% capacity utilization - especially after deforestation that has cleared the way for lots of sunshine.    That works out to six hours a day, or 12 minutes a kid, assuming that the yuppies didn't take up too much of the time emailing photos of themselves pretending to give a shit to their girlfriends and their moms back in the states.

          I am the "same old NNadir."  You.  Bet.  Your.  Yuppie.  Ass.   Who's gonna change me?  You?   Maybe your confused and think I have any respect for what you say.   If so, that is hardly my fault.  

          I'm not getting any less cranky when I hear this shit continuously either.   This late in the game, with the world energy demand pushing 500 exajoules for real and with the carbon dioxide concentration pushing over 390 ppm and flying toward 400, I feel unhappily vindicated about what I've been saying for more than 20 years while brats have whined about their fantasies, indifferent to their decades of failure to make ONE exajoule of solar electricity.  

          Now, while we're taling and talking and talking and talking and talking about how wonderful conservation is working out - so wonderfully that indifferent holy yuppies taking pictures of themselves with solar cells and laptops in Haiti can parade around obliviously prattling on and on and on and on and on and on how about how we don't need the world's largest, by far, source of climate change gas free primary energy, how about we look at the EIA figures for world energy consumption?

          Yuppie Denialist Math:   472.274 < 462.060.

          (In exajoules: 498 <487.)</p>

          Do you have any idea how much energy 11 exajoules is?  


          Why am I not surprised?

          Let me see if I can try to offer some perspective:

          Well - you'd need to be able to do math to get this - it's about adding 11 Denmarks, more than one France, almost one additional Germany, or almost 8 Finlands.   It's, um, an additional 362 Congos, an additional 959 Eritreas.

          So what's your theory here?  Eritreans don't consume very much because of all the wonderful solar ovens?


          If you don't know what you're talking about, just make stuff up, but make sure it makes you feel all warm and fuzzy at the Snowmass Symposia on energy, with a warm cocktail with Kahlua and Baileys mixed in hot chocolate with whip cream on the top.

          "Tens of thousands..."

          Jeeze.   How big was that trust fund you were living on anyway?

          Jesus Christ!   You are oblivious, aren't you?

          What a ass.   What an indifferent ass.

          Solar toys have NOTHING to do with poor people, except when poor people are forced to eat the electronic waste connected with it.   You haven't a clue how this solar crap is made, but if you did, you wouldn't give a shit anyway.

          Got it?


          Why am I in no fucking way surprised?

          •  idiot (0+ / 0-)

            Yep -- but you are too stupid to see that tens of thousands is obviously just a start -- although the people whose lives have been saved and otherwise improved thus far might care (since you don't).  Millions are on their way and many millions more are needed.  And millions of applications of other small scale systems in remote areas that can bring power or displace diesel generators or displace biomass burning will have a much bigger impact on poor people's lives over the next decade or two than any of your nuclear wet dreams -- because that's all you've got.  

            You write ridiculous masturbatory diaries here that try to show off your intellect but just show you to be a self-indulgent pretentious ass.  You really run into trouble when yelling at other people about numbers while you post diaries rife with numerical errors -- like that stupid windmill lifespan diary a little while back that showed how clueless you are in data analysis (by the way, only idiots do data analysis in Excel -- get a statistics package already).  Utility companies and government agencies hire me to do data analysis all the time-- I'm actually an expert in this field and you are clueless -- get out of the deep end before you drown..  

  •  some things (0+ / 0-)

    1/ the $4.80 is the cost of the panel, not total installed cost. TIC is around $6-9 per Watt peak.
    2/ the 52 kW rating is the DC side (PV produces DC). The cost to flip it to AC is on the order of 77% efficiency, or about 40 kW (right in line with what they published). It's only misleading or a lie of the person writing about it doesn't understand the basics of electricity. (obviously I'm not talking about you, oh wise NNadir. You would never exaggerate simply to make a point...)
    3/ the 700k included energy efficiency retrofits:

    MASS MoCA installed a 50 kW solar project and performed energy efficiency retrofits, and built related educational displays and activities. MASS MoCA is the largest center for contemporary visual and performing arts in the U.S. Since opening in 1999, it has presented nearly 50 visual arts exhibitions and over 400 performing arts events. MASS MoCA’s driving purpose includes positioning the arts as a catalyst for community revitalization, and the creation of new markets, good jobs and economic development. Annual visitors exceed 120,000 per year.

    4/ it's asinine to compare total energy usage including transportation - it just doesn't make any sense. The average electricity user in MA uses 635 kWh a month so the system produces enough power for 6 people. Still pretty lame but 12 times less lame than you are claiming!

    •  It's not assine at all. I case you missed it, (0+ / 0-)

      we have lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of people telling us all about their imaginary solar powered electric cars here.

      I have seen thousands of excited comments and posts and threads and diaries all over the internet about this stuff.

      Of course, what I haven't seen in decades of hearing about swell electric solar powered electric cars, is a solar powered electric car.

  •  Solar panel deserts and e-waste in general (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    NNadir, Perhaps you might be interested in this situation we have in Florida.

    We have just proved that we can't pass "The Dumb Test."

    The Englewood Sun just reported on the following project by Florida Light & Power, the Desoto Solar facility.

    The new Desoto Solar power plant will cover 1,525 acres of ground with solar panels, thus killing all sunlight-needing plants on those 1,525 acres. Yes, check the article.  The site is 33,000 odd acres.  Just the solar panels cover 1,525 acres.

    The plant is nominally rated at 25 MW, but the key figure of merit here is 'will provide enough electricity for 3,000 homes'.  It's probably more accurate to say 'may provide 1/2 the power for 6,000 homes' as the little question of the effect of that new discovery, nighttime, is ignored.  It's not clear just how FPL intends to handle that little glitch.

    Yes, friends.  For each house on a one half acre lot, another one half acre lot of the environment must be consumed to provide solar panel derived electricity for it.

    Here's a picture of the solar panel desert created by such an electric power installation:

    And that's the peak power as rated at date of delivery.

    SunPower actually only warrantees these panels for defects for 10 years, not 25. What it guarantees for 25 years is that the rated peak power will not drop more than 20%.  For 12 years, it will not drop more than 10%.  

    So if you want the 3,000 homes (or 6,000 half homes) to have access to 25 MW peak in 25 years, you need to install 1,906.5 acres of solar panels.

    Here's SunPower's 25 year warranty:

    Although FPL claims the plant does not require water, it also has not reported the amount of Windex, plain soap and water, or Deidre Imus's magic green cleaning fluid per year that will be required to keep these panels clean enough to be operating at peak efficiency.

    This little article reminds us:

    Maintaining Your Solar Panel
    Step1 Inspect the solar panels on a periodic basis (frequency depends on location or the manufacturer's specifications) to remove any debris and dirt and ensure all connections are tight.

    Step2 Panels installed in dusty areas may require more frequent inspection.

    Step3 Clean the surface of a solar panel with warm water and dishwashing soap to remove any accumulation of dirt and grime.

    Step4 Remove any bird droppings as well since they can severely reduce the panel's energy-producing capacity.

    Step5 Cleaning a solar panel is not cosmetic. A panel needs tobe clean for it to operate at its rated capacity.  

    Do remember that Florida has an amazing amount of bird life, all of whom produce droppings.

    This helpful article also recommends

    Things You’ll Need (to clean your solar roof):
    Ladder to get to the solar panel
    Warm water and dishwashing soap
    Clean soft cloths

    Here's what's used in large installations:


    It involves spraying with water and soap and an automated system.

    DeSoto Solar will cost $175 million dollars, and will provide power for only 3,000 homes.  Its life time is estimated at 25 to 30 years.  The Dumb Test question for the day is, when 1,525 acres of solar panels fail, how many acres of e-waste dumping ground will be required to house these dead panels?  And has FPL or SunPower made any arrangements to handle the amount of e-waste involved?

    For the silicon alone, a decent rough estimate is:

    For These panels are 1,525 acres* 43,560 sq ft/acre * (.16 inches/12 (in/foot thick) = 66,428,998.7 cu ft of waste or 2,460,333.3 cu yards or 1,881,056.67 cu meters.

    (.16 inches is the thickness shown on the SunPower site drawings of the panels)

    The density of silicon is 2,330 kg/cubic meter

    So all that silicon weighs 438,2862,042.0 kg or 4,831,278.4 tons.  Consider that this plant alone, when it stops working, will involve twice the US ewaste annual average amount.  That's ignoring the weight of the solder and so forth.

    That is a lot of e-waste.

    By the way, there are actually a few environmentalists who are worrying about the massive amount of e-waste that could be generated from PV solar.  This article is from the Texas Solar Energy Society:

    And yes,   e-waste is generally considered hazardous.

    The solar panels from SunPower  are single crystal PV solar.  That means that they are made exactly like any other semi-conductor diode-a boron doped p-type Czochralski pulled ingot is float zone refined, & sliced, and the diodes are created by diffusing (or implanting) p-type dopants (arsenic or phosphorus) and back side wiring is done.  SunPower's website does not tell us, but there is a good chance that lead containing solder is used for connections, as that is not forbidden in the US, although it is forbidden in Europe.

    All of this, couple with the Texas Solar Society's concern, might explain why this recently happened:

    •  An excellent comment, but you should consider it (0+ / 0-)

      as a diary in its own right.

      It's too informed to be a backwater comment in a NNadir diary.

      Please post it as a diary.

      Thanks in advance.

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