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...and it's a modest experiment.

In my last diary here a correspondent correctly noticed that I am a rhetorical hypocrite.   I derided "percent talk" of the type that solar energy advocates always use.   They have been for decades reporting that "production of solar energy has grown by x percent where x is always presented as an impressive number.

The problem with this is that if I tell you I can double your money - increase your wealth by 100% - in three years, I will have a much easier time supporting my claim if you have two dollars, and far more trouble if you are, say, Warren Buffett.    Proving the claim in the two dollar case wouldn't even inspire a yawn.   Proving the case in latter case would be headline news.

The solar game is full of obfuscation and deliberate distortion.   For instance solar energy capacity is always reported in peak watts, and never in average continuous watts, this to convince people that it is a good idea to bet the entire planetary atmosphere on the proposition that solar energy is clean, affordable, sustainable and is about to provide significant energy for the planet.    

I contend the opposite.   I don't think solar PV energy is very clean, nor do I believe it to be affordable for anyone but the wealthiest people on the planet:  It's a rich kid's game.   It's low energy/mass density and the thermodynamic and enviornmental problem of energy storage almost certainly suggest it is not sustainable and - and this is pretty much irrefutable - in the 57 years since the invention of the photovoltaic cell in the former Bell Labs, it has never provided a significant portion of the energy of any country.  

In making the case of the last statement, I was correctly called out on using "percent talk."

In "percent talk" it can be shown by appeal to data, that solar PV energy produces just one percent of the electricity in Germany, the equivalent in average continuous power of a 670 MW power plant, except that most 670 MW power plants do not require redundant back up or spinning reserve.   This is after ten years of massive highly subsidized expensive investment representing tens of billions of Euros of government funds.

Anyway... The paper from the primary scientific literature I will discuss today is short and sweet and comes from the "ASAP" sections of the journal Environmental Science and Technology, a publication of the American Chemical Society, one of the finest scientific organizations in the world.   The paper's title is Green Power–A Modest Experiment.

The author's "modest experiment" involves installing solar panels and a home wind turbine on his property - I have often heard anecdotal claims by people here and elsewhere who have done something similar - but the author, Micheal R. Piggott, of the Engineering and Applied Chemistry Department of the University of Toronto applies a twist.

He tells us what his out of pocket expenses for building the system were, and then reports what he got for his money the first year after meticulously recording the energy produced.   He then calculates payback time and the lost/saved number.

I have always wanted to do this experiment myself, but I, um, haven't.

Here's Dr. Piggott's introduction:

At the present time, the Ontario government is encouraging people to invest in solar and wind power generation. They do this by subsidizing any excess power produced and fed into the grid at a rate many times the cost of power generated from big conventional plants. The Ontario Power Authority is offering feed-in tariff contracts at between 45 and 80.2 cents to companies building new solar power generating facilities, 13.5 cents on land based wind farms, 19 cents on off-shore wind farms, and between 10.4 and 19.5 cents on biogas projects.13 The experiment described herein is a test of the economics of domestic production from a small and easily affordable system, on the shore of Lake Huron, in the light of these figures. Two solar panels, with a rated capacity of 80 W each, were mounted on the roof of a shed, which was located in an exposed spot. They faced approximately south and were about 23 to the horizontal. Having only 100 foot wide lot, a tall tower was not practical for a wind generator, since it would have to be guyed sufficiently to withstand gale force winds from any direction. So a 900 W wind generator was mounted between two cedar tree trunks, about 35 feet tall, set two feet apart in an approximately eastwest direction, and another cedar trunk, about 20 feet tall,
set at 12 feet north of the westmost 35 foot cedar. They were braced by connecting them to each other, and to the shed. The cedar posts were embedded in reinforced concrete, resting on the bedrock, about two feet beneath...

All well and good, and clear enough.

He offers a little report on the wind power generator's performance:

With the aid of an anemometer, the power output of the generator was plotted as a function of wind velocity, averaged over about 12 h. This showed that a 16km/h wind was required before any power was generated. Thereafter, the power increased approximately linearly to 340 W at 40km/h. By extrapolation of the straight line, it was predicted that a 50km/h wind was required to produce 500 W. But above 30km/h wind velocity, the generator was designed to fold, so it was avoiding the full force of the wind. The manufacturer’s design figure of 900 W at 45km/h thus appears to be very optimistic...

The DC to AC converter is reported to be 90% efficient.

Here's a blurb on the performance of the solar panels:

The power produced by the solar panels working in tandem with the wind generator was logged for 12 months, fromJanuary 1 2010 to January 31 2011, see Figure 1. (April 2010 did not yield reliable results, due to instrument problems.) While here are significant variations, the overall mean useable power produced was 28.3 W.  The solar panels only contributed a significant amount of power in the summer. They were covered in snow in December, January, February, and part of March. The monthly averages conceal much day-to-day variation. For instance, in June 2010 the power varied between 2 and 120 W...

Here's the part that you never hear, about the actual out of pocket costs:

The out-of pocket cost of the setup was about 7450 Canadian dollars. The wind generator cost $2933, the solar panels $1333, the batteries $575, the inverter $580, and the concrete and tower hardware about $1150. Heavy cable was needed for the wind generatorcharge controllerbattery connections, and 115/230V cable was needed to connect the system to the house. Hidden costs include the cedar tree trunks, the design and building of the Schmidt trigger from its basic components, and the value of the excavation, etc. work associated with the construction of the wind generator support.

Now he discusses the "payback time," a magical number that one hears as being all over the place in discussions of solar PV systems.

The current (March 2011) cost of domestic electricity in the household concerned with the project was 14.82 cents per kilowatt hour. $7450 would, at that rate buy 50,247 kWh. The solar/wind power assembly, working at an average rate of 30 kW would take about 190 years to produce the same amount of electricity.

The author estimates that feed in tariffs, a government subsidy, would reduce the payback time to 60 years.

His conclusion:

Thus wind/solar power is not a good investment. In addition to spending $7430, there was a lot of time spent designing and constructing the system. All for about 30 W.

More than 90 countries have a per capita income that is lower (US) than $7430 dollars, and two of them, India and Pakistan are among the world's most populous nations.

The per capita income of China, is slightly larger than the cost of the "modest" experiment.

Per Capita Income Around the World.

May you live at least another 60 years, even as I most assuredly won't.

Have a nice day tomorrow.

C:UsersxxxxDocumentssE&ENon-Bio Renewables

EST.ASAP.10.02.11.Greenpower.modest.experiment

Poll

Is it worth to wait around for sixty years in Ontario?

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| 30 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Cedar trees pulled down in wind storms by... (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    palantir, Odysseus, kevinpdx, gzodik, bryfry

    ...turbines, flying turbine blades, waiting around for sixty years of feed in tariffs for electronic waste to accumulate, coal plants in Ontario, gas plants in Ontario, gas filled hot air bags like the liar NNadir, hidden costs of excavation on my "modest experiment" wind turbine,  the Stabler Wronski effect limiting my ability to operate my solar panels for 190 years, other hidden costs, ordinary fossil fuel powered hide rates, and pure renewable sustainable troll rates all go here.

  •  Interesting paper. Of course, Canada is not (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW, ozsea1, Kingsmeg

    exactly ideal for solar panels but it's unlikely to make that much difference. I guess it may make sense on bigger scale.

    •  Believe me there's a difference (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Joieau, esquimaux, Unit Zero, JeffW

      between Ontario and New Mexico.

      NNadir knows Ontario is a crappy place for solar. However, Ontario has so much hydropower that they sell it to the U.S.

      This piece is disingenuous and downright silly.

      Diary fail.

      look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening. "Forgive them; for they know not what they do."

      by FishOutofWater on Tue Oct 18, 2011 at 04:36:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  But how much of a difference? (0+ / 0-)

        I've mentioned this below, but it bears repeating.

        Yes, there's a difference between Ontario and New Mexico.

        solar map

        (source)

        Ontario gets about half as much solar energy (on average) than New Mexico. That still doesn't improve the economics of PV solar enough to make it a worthwhile investment.

        FG's instincts are correct: it doesn't make much of a difference.

        Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former.
        -- Albert Einstein

        by bryfry on Tue Oct 18, 2011 at 12:13:11 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  And the difference between New Mexico and Hamburg (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bryfry

        ...would be what exactly?

        Um, am I misinformed, or isn't Germany one more cog in the grand solar revolution?

        How about Toronto and Hamburg?

        The latitude of Hamburg is 53o, 33' North.

        The lattitude of Toronto is 43o, 40' North.

        The lattitude of Albuquerque is 35o, 5' North.

        I'm being disingenous?

        Really?

        You call out the solar fantasy on its faith based expensive wishful thinking, funded by money that could have educated people, provided babies with vaccinations, could have funded laboratories and libraries, provided care for the elderly, built rail systems and yes, nuclear power plants, and they start sputtering nonsense.

        It would seem that on a planet where billions of people have no clean water that Germany has invested tens of billions of Euros in this grand solar fantasy, and um, it's not New Mexico.

        Don't tell me what I know.

        You don't know shit about what I know.

        Let me tell you some things I do know.

        I happen to know that this is a planet where more than half the people live on less than $5,000 for everything, food, water, medical care, transportation, everything and whenever the rote worship of the miserably failed solar PV - whose true external costs are similar to electronic waste, a matter that escapes attention precisely because solar PV energy is a terrific incredibly expensive failure - I get lazy and ill thought out responses.

        And in less than 10 minutes of searching - I know exactly where to look - I found out a few things about New Mexico that would seem to have escaped your attention, given this very weak, rote and dogmatic response you just offered.

        That's right, for New Mexico, you could actually log on to the EIA website and see the electrical generation profile of that putative "solar nirvana."

        New Mexico's renewable energy generation profile.

        Scroll down in the table and look under the line that is labelled "solar."

        Tell us great wizard and intepreter of what I know, what is the number displayed, and what is your explanation for this number?

        The entire State of New Mexico produced 1,851 thousand MWh of renewable energy in 2009, which works out to an average continuous power of about 211 MWe.

        No measurable amount was solar.

        The two largest power plants in New Mexico are coal plants, and the two of them produce more electricity than all of the next 8 largest plants combined.

        The combined capacity of these two power plants is 3,723 MWe.

        The ten largest power plants in New Mexico, by capacity.

        These two coal plants easily produce as much energy as the entire United States produces from solar PV power, even after billion dollar quantities of money have been thrown down this rabbit hole in a country that can't even fund the police force of Trenton, New Jersey.

        In the meantime, the State of New Mexico, from all sources of energy produced from all forms of energy, approximately, 39,674,339 MWh of electrical energy.

        New Mexico's Electricity Profile.

        Less than one percent was renewable energy other than hydroelectricity.    In fact, hydroelectricity easily outstripped all other forms of so called "renewable" energy easily and, um, famously, New Mexico is dominated by desert.

        You and your pals want to bet the future of the planetary atmosphere on this dismal performance, and take umbrage when the author of a scientific paper checks on the assumptions underlying your glib solar fantasy.

        That's right.   Most of the "failed" diary comes out of that right wing publication of the American Chemical Society, Environmental Science and Technology.

        Maybe you should write the editor a letter stating that anyone who cites the paper doesn't know the difference between Toronto, and Albequerque, and for that matter, Hamburg.

        But, um, speaking of "fails," you and your pals can take solace in this:   You won.    You got exactly what you wanted, an international cadre obliviously obsessed with every single human made radioatom while the planetary atmosphere collapses.

        The seasonal corrected level of dangerous fossil fuel waste in the planetary atmosphere as recorded at the Mauna Loa observatory is now 393 ppm.

        Heckuva job.

        I can't wait to read your next "successful" diary here about how everyone in Japan died from Fukushima and no one was injured by leaking solvents from semi-conductor plants after the earthquake.

        Let's be clear on something, OK?   You don't speak for me, and you have no idea what I know.   Believe me, I would feel very badly about my hard work over the decades if I thought that you even remotely appreciated what I do and do not know.

        Based solely on your post here though - it would appear that you don't know shit about New Mexico.

        Have a nice evening.

  •  I can put up PV panels on my farm... (7+ / 0-)

    ...along with a wind turbine, here in Illinois. I cannot put in a nuclear power plant of any size, even if I could afford it, under state law. Not even an Adams Engine. And recycling fuel, which I think should be done, is also against the law here in Illinois. It is also an industrial process, which has toxic and danagerous materials associated with it, just like making PV panels.

    Just sayin'...

    Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

    by JeffW on Mon Oct 17, 2011 at 08:12:42 PM PDT

  •  You again? (8+ / 0-)

    Whatever.

    Another anti-solar FAIL diary.

    Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws." ~ Mayer Amschel Rothschild, 1790

    by ozsea1 on Mon Oct 17, 2011 at 08:15:06 PM PDT

  •  I wonder what it would cost for him to (6+ / 0-)

    build and operate a nuke in his own backyard ?
    What would that cost out of pocket and how long would it take to pay ?

    "Drop the name-calling." Meteor Blades 2/4/11

    by indycam on Mon Oct 17, 2011 at 08:15:09 PM PDT

  •  The math on this (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Neuroptimalian, gzodik, Prof Haley

    is pretty straightforward....

    Which is why I don't have any PV cells mounted on my roof.  I can count.

    190 milliseconds....

    by Kingsmeg on Mon Oct 17, 2011 at 08:51:16 PM PDT

  •  So this study determined how much money (13+ / 0-)

    you can waste if you set up a wind turbine in possibly the least efficient place possible and don't bother to get up off your couch to brush the snow off your solar panels on your non-tracking array?  I hope the kochs paid him a butt load of cash for his trouble.

    •  more importantly, worst case for wind. (7+ / 0-)

      Household scale wind is and always has been an idiot's game.  Winds are stronger and steadier 100m+ above the ground, and available wind energy scales as the cube of the average wind speed.

      A turbine tower can have 200 TIMES the available energy of a backyard windmill.  There is literally no comparison.

      -7.75 -4.67

      "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

      There are no Christians in foxholes.

      by Odysseus on Mon Oct 17, 2011 at 09:59:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  this is why siting is imo critical, Ontario Canada (10+ / 0-)

    might not be the optimal environment for solar power.

    Tucson Az with an average of over 300 clear sunny days a year and with sun that can also act as a thermal generator, use a concentrator and get pv and thermal at once  plus the no brainer in my area of pure solar hot water .

    I'd hypothesize that my payback time is a hell of a lot less than someone in Ontario Canada and to be quite honest, the thought of even bothering to do it there makes me wonder about the objectivity of the researcher.....

    Plus I'd like to see what the waste stream details are for the new printable solar that a company here in Tucson makes for the military.....

    When even the military, one of the most hidebound institutions around is starting to seriously increase their use of solar, it tells me that it's here to stay.

    I'd also love to see the huge tanker fleets  use a USN style nuclear generation system...Save burning all that truly nasty  bunker fuel......

    Tell you what, seeing as how I'm disabled and broke as hell, lets perform your experiment here at my pad.....

    I have a wonderful south facing roof at about a 20-25 degree angle as well as plenty of unshaded land to set up a ground installation...Leave out the wind here as there's not nearly a decent resource but man I've got some sun....

    You get the stuff installed and I'll take very careful records and observations.   Then we might have a more realistic measure of solar in an environment that was made for solar.....not a snowy wet Canadian city

    Vaya con Dios Don Alejo
    I want to die a slave to principles. Not to men.
    Emiliano Zapata

    by buddabelly on Mon Oct 17, 2011 at 09:11:14 PM PDT

    •  It's not that important (0+ / 0-)
      Tucson Az with an average of over 300 clear sunny days a year and with sun that can also act as a thermal generator, use a concentrator and get pv and thermal at once plus the no brainer in my area of pure solar hot water.

      I'd hypothesize that my payback time is a hell of a lot less than someone in Ontario Canada and to be quite honest, the thought of even bothering to do it there makes me wonder about the objectivity of the researcher.....

      The researcher decided to investigate the subsidies offered by his provincial government. There's nothing fishy there.

      Personally, I'm wondering about how much thought you have put into your own comment.

      You do realize that we have data on this, don't you? See below:

      solar map

      (source)

      If you look at the map, the best parts of Arizona (in the western part of the state) get about 7-8 kWh/m2/day. (The Tuscon area isn't one of those regions, BTW.) Most of Ontario gets 3-4 kWh/m2/day, about half as much.

      So if we double the output of the solar panels in the analysis highlighted in this diary, then it would take a mere 95 years (instead of 190 years) to pay off the solar panel. If you are a young man your grandchildren might still be able to see a net benefit.

      With the government subsidies mentioned in the study (i.e., the taxpayer pays for your solar panels), you come out ahead in only 30 years, so your panels will pay off at about the same time that you finish paying off the mortgage on your house.

      Even when you consider the available solar power in the southwest US, the economics don't work out.

      When even the military, one of the most hidebound institutions around is starting to seriously increase their use of solar, it tells me that it's here to stay.

      Ha ha! And do you really believe that the US military never wastes money?! (Think of expensive hammers and planes, ships, etc., that are not really needed but are purchased anyway to avoid closing a factory in the district of an influential congressman.) Do you really think that Department of Defense spending is completely independent of political considerations?

      This has to be the stupidest argument for solar that I have yet encountered.

      Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former.
      -- Albert Einstein

      by bryfry on Tue Oct 18, 2011 at 12:10:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  My you are a bit of a jerk aren't you, one (0+ / 0-)

        your map is so small it's unreadable so I have no idea what you're measuring, just pv potential? and it's no better at your link.

        I'm talking a concentrated system that also uses the waste heat from cooling the chips to provide hot water and in utility scale systems to actually provide the heat for old style steam generators as well as the pv.....

        Of course the military wastes money, they also run a tight Nuke on shipboard which is another thing I mentioned but be sure to attack anyone who thinks a multi layered approach, the silver bb vs the silver bullet is better than all the eggs in the one falling basket.

        any answer on the waste stream from printed pv? I noticed you ignored that....there's some loss of output as I understand it so far but the cost savings is huge even factoring in the shorter lifespan and that was a few years back.

        And where I live 35 miles southwest of Tucson works wonderfully for PV alone let alone a hybrid system like I'm thinking about.....

        from your own link

        CSP technology has more than one form. Troughs, dishes and towers are the different forms available today. A CSP dish or tower looks like a modern glass sculpture and contributes aesthetically to the landscape. CSP systems can achieve 30 percent efficiency, or about twice the efficiency of standard photovoltaic cells (2 x .75 = 1.5 kilowatt-hours per square yard per day).

        Large Concentrating Solar Power plants create the thermal energy equivalent to conventional fossil fuel power plants. After the sun sets, CSP plants generate electricity from cost-effective thermal storage, providing 24-hour service to the power grid.

        Consider the solar energy potential of one acre of land. There are 43,560 square feet in an acre. Divide the number of square feet in one acre by 9 (the number of square feet in one square yard) and you find that there are 4,840 square yards in one acre of land. A CSP dish, tower, or trough receiving an acre of sunshine would yield about (1.5 kilowatt-hours per square yard times 4,840 square yards per acre) 7,260 kilowatt-hours of electricity per day, at 30% efficiency. One acre has enough solar energy potential to yield 7.26 megawatt-hours of electricity per day, using technology that exists now. (Each thousand kilowatts is one million watts. A million watts is a megawatt.)

        That's for utility scale production of course but a similar small system could be set up using CS PV and using the cooling fluid to generate all the hot water.  CPV brings the cell efficiency up to 30+% and the field is developing even more efficient cells as we speak....

        Nothing is the silver bullet, not solar, not nuclear not fossil fuels...It will take a combination of all and honestly centralized generation is becoming a possible national security threat that could be greatly diminished by grid tied PV, CPV with hot water generation as a side benefit (that could even be used for home heating in this climate)  and small scale wind.....If a person wanted to create serious havoc in this country, our power grid is highly vulnerable and could be very slow to repair depending on the method of attack......

        Vaya con Dios Don Alejo
        I want to die a slave to principles. Not to men.
        Emiliano Zapata

        by buddabelly on Tue Oct 18, 2011 at 01:53:10 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well thank you (0+ / 0-)

          Personally, I prefer the term "asshole," but jerk is acceptable.

          There's nothing like starting off your comment with an insult, is it? It's so refreshing to find such rhetorical freedom in the new regime of DailyKos moderation. It takes me back to better days.

          I'm sorry that the graphic is of such poor quality. If that really bothers you, then you are free to access the NREL website to see more detailed maps that provide essentially the same information at higher resolution. My map is sufficient to support my claim, however: the potential for solar power in Arizona is approximately only twice the potential in Ontario. FYI, the text in lower right corner reads:

          Model consists of annual average daily solar radiation using inputs derived from satellite and/or surface observation of cloud cover, aerosol optical depth, precipitable water vapor, albedo, atmospheric pressure and ozone resampled to a 40km resolution.

          Thus, this is a map of solar radiation, which indicates the potential for solar across the map, regardless of the technology used. Sure you can add additional components to the system. It's up to you, however, to demonstrate these additional components would justify the additional costs, which you have not done. I shouldn't have to discount every technology that your imagination can dream of.

          I'm trying to compare apples to apples -- that is, the performance of a similar system in Arizona -- because you seemed to claim that this system would perform "a hell of a lot" better in such a location. If twice as good counts as "a hell of a lot" better in your book, then you can believe your claim. I must disagree, however.

          It was not my intention to address every one of your claims, and it's disingenuous of you to try to shift the focus to "printed pv" which only you have mentioned. Similarly, staging a diversion to CSP technology (or "CS PV" or "CPV") is also mostly irrelevant to the focus of this diary.

          Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former.
          -- Albert Einstein

          by bryfry on Tue Oct 18, 2011 at 02:44:01 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  are you interested (0+ / 0-)

            in all of the ways that Dr. Piggott screwed up this experiment and analysis? I mean, really interested and you will keep an open mind? If so, I will happily enumerate them. If you are just looking for different ways to piss on solar, that's fine, just do me a favor and let me know so I don't waste my time.

            Causation was, is, and ever shall be a slippery bitch, so we're best sticking with noting the facts

            by jam on Tue Oct 18, 2011 at 04:09:43 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  In case you haven't noticed (0+ / 0-)

              This is not my diary. I'm just trying to provide perspective.

              If you want to "enumerate" your complaints in the comment section here, then I don't see why you need my permission. Please, let fly. Post a comment. Don't leave us hanging. But most of all, don't waste my time with stupid comments.

              Better yet, you should submit a letter to Environmental Science and Technology, which will be published in an upcoming issue, so that the readers of the original article have a chance to read your rebuttal. Of course, the author of the article will also have a chance to respond to your criticisms in this journal, so you should be prepared for that.

              Whatever changes you suggest, multiply the resulting energy by two and you get a rough estimate of what to expect in Arizona or New Mexico. That's all I'm saying. Do you disagree with that?

              Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former.
              -- Albert Einstein

              by bryfry on Tue Oct 18, 2011 at 04:31:49 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  Off-topic but interesting bit of technology (7+ / 0-)

    Among other things, I do systems testing for a workboat company on Puget Sound.  Since everything on a boat is weight, there is always a balancing act between picking a generator that is small enough to fit in the allotted space & weight budget, but still power the pile of electrical crap that customers want.

    We recently had a problem where a generator was under-specified for the air conditioner it was supposed to operate.  The air conditioner's "locked rotor" starting amperage was about twice what the generator produced, so the startup load would kill the genset.

    We found this little gizmo called a Smart Start.  It's a start capacitor with an electronic brain that manages the inrush current so the startup amps stay low.  Think of it as an intelligent soft starter.  With this device installed, the same wimpy genset suddenly handles the air conditioner with enough excess capacity to operate another 14 amps worth of stuff (I set up a bench test and verified this with an amp clamp and a couple dummy loads).

    How does this relate to a diary on solar energy?  Peripherally.  An intelligent soft starter allows you to use  considerably lower amperage to start loads such as electric motors (water pumps, air conditioners, etc).  Of course that means you don't need the capacity to handle a massive inrush current.  All you need is the capacity to operate the motor (or whatever) at its rated operating watts.  That means more bang out of your energy source, plus less wear and tear on power supplies and motors.  Unfortunately, there has to be a downside and it is the price.  Freaking ouch.

    "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win". Mohandas K. Ghandi

    by DaveinBremerton on Mon Oct 17, 2011 at 09:52:18 PM PDT

    •  very cool, I haven't seen such a thing yet, I (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mrs M, DaveinBremerton, yaque

      wonder how much it would save our well....

      We only have 2 phase to the well but the underground pump requires 3 as does the pressure pump so we run an ooold RotoPhase than converts to 3 phase...Overall not the most efficient esp when you're almost 800' down.

      I looked into solar a couple years back as we had to pull the well and replace pump and motor as well as the wiring.....5k+ for the wire alone.....

      But with solar DC there wasn't a pump at the time that could push the column required...It would have taken 3 pump/motor combo's to do the job well not counting the pressure pump.....

      3x+ the 20 k we spent to go solar......Hopefully that changes quickly as we could go totally solar here,  we have 25k gallons of storage for 12 homes and lots of sun....very rare to have 2 completely cloudy days in a row....even cloudy days we still get a half day of sun......

      Vaya con Dios Don Alejo
      I want to die a slave to principles. Not to men.
      Emiliano Zapata

      by buddabelly on Mon Oct 17, 2011 at 10:01:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  What's the service amps on your pump? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        buddabelly

        I'm guessing it draws 30 amps continuous.  While there is a 220 volt version of this device, it's rated for up to 33 amps, and from the testing I've already done, I think your situation might use too much power for it to help.

        It's made by a company called Dometic; might be worth investigating.  The device replaces the existing start capacitor.  Normally when I specify a genset / air conditioner combo I assume a 2:1 ratio of genset capacity to air conditioner power requirement.  Where we use this device, I use a ratio of 1.26:1.

        "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win". Mohandas K. Ghandi

        by DaveinBremerton on Tue Oct 18, 2011 at 05:55:17 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Speaking of Canada (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    phonegery, JeffW

    There are great hoards of Canadian geese flying over my house on almost a daily basis as they always do when it's this time of year. If I could harvest enough of their poop, I'd bet that I could generate sufficient quantities of methane to produce way more than 30 Watts of power.

    •  Want hoard the excreta of the hordes (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rightiswrong

      of flying geese?  Do geese excrete while flying?  Recently read a novel about an osprey in Scotland. The osprey at one point in his migration to Africa flew for three days and nights without stopping.  This seems like an incredible feat, to first store and then be able to utilize energy.  

      Democrats - We represent America!

      by phonegery on Tue Oct 18, 2011 at 01:48:24 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  T+R (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Prof Haley, bryfry

    for the venerable village curmudgeon who still manages to annoy the true believers.

    "Mr. Obama needs to put forward a comprehensive plan and fight for it. If he loses to obstructionist Republicans, Americans will know who is to blame."---NYT

    by claude on Tue Oct 18, 2011 at 07:14:32 AM PDT

  •  Dr. Piggott should stick to composites (0+ / 0-)

    because he obviously knows nothing about renewable energy system design.

    All this article proves is that punters shouldn't design their own systems.

    I've quickly noticed ten items that were wrong with his installation that would have reduced his output by 70%, have increased his costs by about 2.5x, and where he has screwed up his analysis.

    I would itemize them for you but doubt you would take the time to actually read and respond intelligently.

    It is actually a stunningly poor analysis for a research professor.

    Causation was, is, and ever shall be a slippery bitch, so we're best sticking with noting the facts

    by jam on Tue Oct 18, 2011 at 02:00:05 PM PDT

    •  hey, I'd like you're countervailing (0+ / 0-)

      analysis? thx,
      Mark

      Je regretez tout. How's me French?

      by Mark B on Mon Oct 24, 2011 at 10:07:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  sure (0+ / 0-)

        Every dime he spent and every bit of data he recorded for the wind turbine is wasted. He hung the turbine from trees! It was the functional equivalent of putting solar panels in the basement or of building a nuclear power plant and "forgetting" to put any uranium in the thing. There was no fuel to drive the damn thing so of course it wasn't going to generate any electricity.

        As far as the solar panels:

        1/ They were placed "approximately south". Every degree off of True (not magnetic) south diminishes the amount of production.

        2/ 23 degree tilt - optimum tilt is generally considered the latitude of the installation. Toronto is about 43 deg.

        3/ The solar panels were covered with snow for over 3 months.

        4/ He replaced a month of data, April, with a non-equivalent month of data, January. As far as solar resource is concerned, April can be as much as twice as productive as January.

        5/ He installed batteries. That decreases the efficiency of the system. Why? He wasn't comparing to a stand alone system, he was comparing to grid power. It is apples and oranges.

        6/ He doesn't escalate for inflation or use net present value. His economics are as if he were buying 100% of the energy today at 14.82 cents per kilowatt hour. This system should last 20 years. Assuming a 3% annual rise in energy costs, his year 20 value would be around 27 cents per kilowatt hour.

        7/ Wind and solar both have interannual variation. He makes no attempt to discern whether his experimental period was a "good" year or a "bad" year. It could have been +-20% of the long term average.

        8/ He uses a blended rate of 80.2c for solar and 13.5c for wind and averages them to 46.85 which would only work if they each contributed 50%.

        and just to add insult to injury, I looked up the average price per watt of solar in 2008 and it was about $5/W where he spent over $8/W.

        All his "Viewpoint"* shows is that he doesn't know how to 1/ design a renewable energy system, and 2/ do a valid economic analysis. It's not so much a countervailing argument as it is an enumeration of all of the flaws in his experiment.

        *Note that this a Viewpoint article, an opinion piece, and not a peer reviewed experiment.

        Causation was, is, and ever shall be a slippery bitch, so we're best sticking with noting the facts

        by jam on Mon Oct 24, 2011 at 11:17:14 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  thanks. I am surprised Mr NNadir wasn't more (0+ / 0-)

          critical.

          I'm trying to get the original paper, but ACS has req'd me to buy it. I'll get it somehow.

          Je regretez tout. How's me French?

          by Mark B on Tue Oct 25, 2011 at 11:06:39 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Flaws in an enumeration of all of the flaws (0+ / 0-)
          He hung the turbine from trees!

          I didn't realize that a cedar post embedded in reinforced concrete constitutes a "tree." Where I'm from, we tend to call them telephone poles.

          He replaced a month of data, April, with a non-equivalent month of data, January. As far as solar resource is concerned, April can be as much as twice as productive as January.

          I don't know how you concluded that April's data was replaced by January, but if it was, then that would have helped the results, since the previous January provided the highest output of the year-long test, much higher, in fact, than both March and May.

          It's more likely that he simply left April out of the calculation of the yearly average. The effect of such an omission would be tiny.

          He installed batteries. That decreases the efficiency of the system. Why?

          I assume that he wanted to measure easily the average output of the system. His load was a 115 V heater. The decrease in efficiency is not that large, and it represents a realistic system that someone might want to install. Big deal.

          He doesn't escalate for inflation or use net present value. His economics are as if he were buying 100% of the energy today at 14.82 cents per kilowatt hour. This system should last 20 years. Assuming a 3% annual rise in energy costs, his year 20 value would be around 27 cents per kilowatt hour.

          Your complaint is silly, since you too are overlooking the time value of money. That is, 27 cents twenty years from now is not worth 27 cents today.

          Aside from the maintenance costs that he should expect to incur (and which he ignored in his article), all of his costs are upfront. This matters when comparing to future costs of electricity. Sure, he did a rather simple calculation, but unless you expect electricity costs to increase substantially faster than the rate of inflation, that doesn't matter. His simple calculation is conservative in favor of the wind/solar system.

          FWIW, EIA data show that the real price of electricity (i.e., adjusted for inflation) in the US has been decreasing steadily since the mid-eighties. I realize that he's in Canada, but I wouldn't expect the trends to be much different.

          He uses a blended rate of 80.2c for solar and 13.5c for wind and averages them to 46.85 which would only work if they each contributed 50%.

          Well, since he constructed a system consisting of a wind turbine rated at 900 W and solar panels rated at only 160 W, I'd say that he almost certainly overestimated (by at least a factor of two) the amount he would have received from a feed-in tariff. A more realistic estimate would have made the wind/solar system look much less economical.

          and just to add insult to injury, I looked up the average price per watt of solar in 2008 and it was about $5/W where he spent over $8/W.

          Huh? Well, I don't know where you're getting your information from (I suspect cherry picking), but NREL's Open PV Project estimates that the average going price for a solar panel installation in the US in 2010 was $7.17 per watt. (As I write this, their latest estimate for today is $7.15 per watt.) The graph of their historical data in the link above, shows that NREL's estimate for the cost in 2008 was about $8.50 per watt.

          The author's costs are not unreasonable.

          Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former.
          -- Albert Einstein

          by bryfry on Tue Oct 25, 2011 at 12:32:37 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  flaws in the flaws of the flaws (0+ / 0-)

            I misread

            was mounted between two cedar tree trunks
            to mean trees. Point for Dr. Piggot.
            The power produced by the solar panels working in tandem with the wind generator was logged for 12 months, from January 1 2010 to January 31 2011, see Figure 1. (April 2010 did not yield reliable results, due to instrument problems.)

            12 months. Two Januaries. Jan 2010 was the highest, Jan 2011 was the lowest. In any event, when average power changes by a factor of 5 from month to month and is highly weather dependent, replacing any month with any other month is highly suspect.

            I assume

            You know what happens when you assume. Batteries are, at most, 85% efficient. The cost added 7.7% to the system price. Together, that's over 40 years off of his 190 year total.

            as far as time value of money is concerned, FEMP projects a 7% rise (excluding general inflation) in US Residential Electricity costs. So, you are more right than I was here.

            he almost certainly overestimated
            It's possible he did. It's just a piss-poor way to analyze something.
            (I suspect cherry picking)

            Must you be such an ass? I wasn't clear. I also wasn't wrong. I meant solar module, not total installed cost. He said he paid $1,333 for two 80 watt modules, or $8.33/W - just for the panels. Looking at Solarbuzz's module prices were between $4.50 and $5.00/W from Jan '03 until Jan '09. Since then, they have fallen steadily. Assuming (there I go, making an ass of myself) the author bought them in the year before he installed them, he should have paid no more than $6 Canadian per watt. He overpaid by at least 40%.

            Look, you are a reasonable person with a strong grasp of economics and electricity generation. Can you honestly say that this analysis was a solid bit of research and something more than an anecdotal swipe at renewable energy?

            Causation was, is, and ever shall be a slippery bitch, so we're best sticking with noting the facts

            by jam on Tue Oct 25, 2011 at 02:39:16 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Testy testy (0+ / 0-)
              Can you honestly say that this analysis was a solid bit of research and something more than an anecdotal swipe at renewable energy?

              Heh ... no, not at all. It sounds like someone's pet hobby for a year, which the hobbyist decided to write up and publish in a journal that he is familiar with.

              In any case, this is a zeroth-order analysis. He doesn't care about a 8% difference, nor should he, since it's only the order of magnitude of the results that's important.

              About half of the "flaws" that you bring up bias the results in favor of the economics of the solar/wind system, yet from reading what you have written, I would not have gathered that. Fortunately, I looked a little deeper. That's my point.

              I also wasn't wrong. I meant solar module, not total installed cost. He said he paid $1,333 for two 80 watt modules, or $8.33/W - just for the panels.

              And where, pray tell, is the cost of the installation included in the calculations?

              From your own link: "The module cost is around 40% of the total installed cost of a solar energy system."

              In case you haven't noticed, the owner of the system has to pay the total installed cost. Comparing the module cost alone against the price at what electricity could be purchased from the grid is simply dishonest.

              You were wrong.

              Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former.
              -- Albert Einstein

              by bryfry on Tue Oct 25, 2011 at 03:50:55 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  This caught my eye: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jam
    They were covered in snow in December, January, February, and part of March. They were covered in snow in December, January, February, and part of March.

    Wouldn't your average solar panel owner... remove the snow to allow the panels to function?

    When it snows, I can't see out my car's windshield, either. This is not a problem with the car.

    "If we can't get married, we'll just have to make up for it by having twice as much gay sex."

    by VictorLaszlo on Wed Oct 19, 2011 at 02:21:44 PM PDT

    •  Botched the quote: (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jam
      The solar panels only contributed a significant amount of power in the summer. They were covered in snow in December, January, February, and part of March.

      "If we can't get married, we'll just have to make up for it by having twice as much gay sex."

      by VictorLaszlo on Wed Oct 19, 2011 at 02:22:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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