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The NREL(National Renewable Energy Laboratory) recently did a study on renewable energy potential in the U.S. and the results certainly expose the lies spouting from the mouths of the Republican(Big Fossil, Inc.) Party.  Contrary to the nonsensical statements that we continuously hear from Republicans about solar power being a pipe dream, solar power actually has the greatest potential of any energy source in the U.S.

There's a great chart in the NREL publication that clearly shows how incredibly large the solar power potential in the U.S. is:

Table ES-1. Total Estimated U.S. Technical Potential Generation and Capacity by Technology
Technology                         Generation a Potential (TWh)   Capacity a Potential (GW)
Urban utility-scale PV                       2,200                                   1,200
Rural utility-scale PV                     280,600                                153,000
Rooftop PV                                        800                                      664
Concentrating solar power              116,100                                  38,000
Onshore wind power                       32,700                                  11,000
Offshore wind power                       17,000                                   4,200
Biopower                                          500                                        62
Hydrothermal power                           300                                        38
Enhanced geothermal                      31,300                                    4,000
Hydropower                                        60                                       300

*a Non-excluded land was assumed to be available to support development of more than one technology.
*b All biomass feedstock resources considered were assumed to be available for biopower use; competing uses, such as biofuels production, were not considered.

The U.S. currently generates around 4k Terawatt hours of electricity from fossil, nuclear, and a small amount from renewables.  What this NREL study clearly shows is that renewables, and especially solar power, blow all other sources out of the water in terms of electricity-generating potential.  Solar alone could generate 400k Terawatt hours of electricity!

The study is even conservative in its estimates.  For example, an efficiency rating of 13.5% was used for rooftop solar panels while a 20% efficiency rating is rapidly becoming the new normal with solar pv panels.  In five to ten years, a 25% efficiency rating will probably be the new normal, which means that rooftop solar pv alone could cover nearly half our current electricity needs.  In regards to urban utility scale solar, parking lots were excluded despite them having some of the greatest potential for urban solar power generation.  So, not only is the solar power potential likely even more than 100 times our current electricity generation, it seems clear that rooftop solar and urban utility solar alone could provide us with all our electricity needs.

The Republican know-nothings, bought and paid for Republican politicians, and the easily manipulated are likely to continue with their ignorant "Drill, baby, drill!" chants and their dumb comments about renewables being a "pipe dream".  They can deny realty all they want, but it is now clear that renewables are the future and the only logical answer to our energy needs. This study and the increasing threat of global warming makes it 100% clear that:

Coal is a pipe dream!

Oil is a pipe dream!

Natural Gas is a pipe dream!

Nuclear is a pipe dream!

And they're dangerous pipe dreams that threaten all the species on our earth, to boot.

For this reason alone, we cannot afford to have Republicans do well in the 2012 election.  It is an absolute necessity that we re-elect President Obama, that Democrats hold the Senate, and that Democrats retake the House of Representatives.  

President Obama summed it up pretty well when describing the dinosaur Republican politicians who will do everything in their power to block the implementation of renewables:

President Obama launched a fiery attack today on his Republican rivals for the presidency, accusing them of pursing energy policies that are so “stuck in the past” they amount to a “bad rerun” and comparing their beliefs to those of the “Flat-Earth Society.”

In a campaign-style speech, the president blasted the GOP candidates for resisting alternative energy sources. “They dismiss wind power. They dismiss solar power. They make jokes about biofuels. … We’re trying to move towards the future. They want to be stuck in the past,” Obama said at Prince George’s Community College in Largo, Md.

We’ve heard this kind of thinking before. Let me tell you something: If some of these folks were around when Columbus set sail, they must have been founding members of the ‘Flat-Earth Society,’” Obama said to cheers from the crowd. “They would not have believed that the world was round.”

“They probably would have agreed with one of the pioneers of the radio who said television won’t last, just a flash in the pan. One of Henry Ford’s advisers was quoted as saying the horse is here to stay, but the automobile is only a fad,” Obama said, chuckling. “There have always been folks like that. There have always been folks who are the naysayers and don’t believe in the future and don’t believe in trying to do things differently.”

I'll conclude this diary with the video of the Obama Speech from which those excerpts were taken(Excerpts start at 29:00):

Originally posted to Lawrence on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 07:35 AM PDT.

Also republished by Kosowatt, ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement, and Climate Hawks.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (184+ / 1-)
    Recommended by:
    M Sullivan, Horace Boothroyd III, Williston Barrett, cordgrass, HoundDog, MartyM, jnhobbs, jimstaro, NedSparks, concernedamerican, Dr Erich Bloodaxe RN, beach babe in fl, Hayate Yagami, ItsSimpleSimon, CJB, opinionated, poliwrangler, northerntier, pat bunny, Ms Citizen, SCFrog, hyperstation, indycam, radical simplicity, Tinfoil Hat, Unit Zero, wu ming, Shockwave, Mary Mike, enhydra lutris, Kinak, Aquarius40, doroma, Sam Hill, jbob, profundo, The grouch, Miggles, Onomastic, mofembot, spunhard, ladypockt, ferg, Lefty Coaster, DeminNewJ, Odysseus, behan, homo neurotic, RLMiller, No one gets out alive, GeorgeXVIII, yet another liberal, jennifree2bme, teknohed, Ashaman, thomask, smiley7, RJP9999, elengul, side pocket, Anthony Page aka SecondComing, Ocelopotamus, semiot, eeff, operculum, bread, marleycat, bfitzinAR, John Crapper, BRog, rapala, old wobbly, AllanTBG, Chi, citisven, J M F, translatorpro, Railfan, Outsourcing Is Treason, Earth Bear, ExStr8, bnasley, rage, bubbanomics, Siri, Robynhood too, Debs2, nzanne, CA ridebalanced, Randtntx, Assaf, vahana, blueoregon, shortgirl, Russgirl, ColoTim, KenBee, vacantlook, DawnN, buckstop, weatherdude, Robobagpiper, ChemBob, offgrid, cotterperson, One Pissed Off Liberal, Matt Z, blueoasis, sebastianguy99, Shotput8, S F Hippie, nominalize, Laughing Vergil, cocinero, terabytes, itsbenj, BlueDragon, slowbutsure, where4art, elziax, Noor B, greengemini, means are the ends, MKinTN, Burned, mole333, chimpy, nomandates, Cassandra Waites, camlbacker, trumpeter, gbinwc, Xavier Onassis EMTP, uciguy30, Cronesense, Sharon Wraight, Jim P, CoolOnion, Tolmie Peak, Mislead, John DiFool, indie17, just another vortex, jfdunphy, sb, NYWheeler, asym, ParkRanger, LaughingPlanet, pgm 01, mconvente, SeaTurtle, Hedwig, blackjackal, Just Bob, Sylv, adrianrf, MBishop1, jcrit, madhaus, Danno11, Amber6541, skybluewater, Pam from Calif, Yasuragi, Habitat Vic, dewley notid, Steven D, Alumbrados, Larsstephens, 207wickedgood, Angie in WA State, scarvegas, jamess, FarWestGirl, Carlo, bill warnick, Syoho, VTCC73, JamieG from Md, BusyinCA, bfbenn, Captain Chaos, Maverick80229
    Hidden by:

    "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

    by Lawrence on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 07:35:10 AM PDT

  •  I like Obama's speech very much (21+ / 0-)

    It drives the point home with a touch of humor, and puts the other side on the defensive.

    I hope I am still alive when alternative fuels make up the majority of energy production. It seems to be growing by leaps and bounds. If we can keep a president and congress in power that supports it, it could be the norm one of these days in the not too distant future.

    Today's problems are yesterday's solutions. Don Beck

    by Sherri in TX on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 07:50:27 AM PDT

  •  untill we run out of PV solar cell material (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gzodik, llywrch

    we have maybe a centuries worth of PV cell material on the planet at the consumption levels your talking about. however, using mirrors to boil water will never go out of style. either way, you will either need to supplement your solar power with other large scale energy sources, and in this nuke is preferable to coal or oil or gas; or you need to dedicate a significant portion of planetary real estate to boiling water with mirrors.

    aside from resource constraints, great idea bro. it should be done.

    The Republic has fallen.

    by Dude1701 on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 07:52:57 AM PDT

  •  It's because of these facts (21+ / 0-)

    that the fossil fuels industry is fighting so hard with their three-pronged war:  propaganda, lobbying (bribery) and financial shenanigans (they want to make as much money as they can before they become obsolete and their companies and oil and coal reserves become worthless).

  •  Sure (9+ / 0-)

    The sun is the direct source of energy for the planet and all other energy comes from it.

    If you go solar you're cutting out all the middlemen.

    The trick with solar is you have to deploy plants and hammer on the tech to improve yields, storage and transmission loss.

    I wouldn't go 100% solar though as it wouldn't work too well in the northern tier in the winter given low sun angle and cloudy days.

  •  Another reason why the Obama choice is clear, the (16+ / 0-)

    Republicans will resist anything that will improve our lives. Thanks for the post.

    •  Heh. (9+ / 0-)

      The rethugs are giving him a bunch of grief for using alternative energy with the military. The cost of fast-tracking alternative fuels is, of course, much more than fossil fuels. But it can stop the wars for oil, determine what works where, get things standardized, and thus lower costs for every taxpayer. No wonder the party of oil and war is resisting ;)

      The Army is going netzero -- produce as much energy as you use -- in several places.

      In my rural area, out county's goal for the landfill is "zero bury." It really surprised me to find such excellent thinking in these old Ozark hills ;)

      "Zero" suddenly became a wonderful number, in my mind!

      "Let each unique song be sung and the spell of differentiation be broken" - Winter Rabbit

      by cotterperson on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 12:06:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Sounds a little simplistic. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bcdelta, Roadbed Guy, KenBee

    What about the problem of energy storage at night? Snow covering solar collectors? Prolonged periods of cloudy weather?

    GOP: Bankers, billionaires, suckers, and dupes.

    by gzodik on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 08:04:08 AM PDT

    •  Cloudy weather does not shut down electricity (28+ / 0-)

      production from solar pv.

      Energy storage can be provided at night with pumped hydro, compressed air, molten salt, and the newer grid-scale battery storage systems.

      Snow rarely is a problem since the angle at which solar is installed in the northern areas causes snow to slide off.

      The combination with onshore wind is probably best in those areas anyway, though, since they compliment each other.

      "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

      by Lawrence on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 08:12:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Molten Salt seems the most promising. (6+ / 0-)

        Concentrated Solar with Molten Salt is probably the most practical "solar power plant" design currently out there.

        Our Fair City...a campy post-apocalyptic science fiction radio epic!

        by The BBQ Chicken Madness on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 08:56:51 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Interesting ideas. (0+ / 0-)

        Pumped storage is not new - the Soviets put some work into it, with mixed results. Construction costs and operating losses are high. (And you need to have a large reservoir a few hundred feet over your head).

        The others have possibilities. After many years of feasibility studies, research and development. In the meantime, what?

        GOP: Bankers, billionaires, suckers, and dupes.

        by gzodik on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 10:14:39 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Molten Salt (0+ / 0-)

        systems only work with thermal solar facilities, which are quite different, and to be honest quite more promising than PV solar.

        The German and Spanish experience with PV solar has shown several huge issues that can emerge.  

        The most prominent being that the most common policy instrument to encourage them has been feed in tariffs.  The issue is that feed in tariffs are appropriate where there are economies  of scale to be had.  That simply isn't the case with PV.  With wind turbines, increasing the radius of the blades has an exponential effect on the quantity of power produced.  With PV solar, increases have a linear effect. On the other hand, this makes PV solar useful for specialized uses like street lamps where the power usage is so low that you can install the panel and power storage, thereby avoiding the infrastructure costs associated with building/maintaining wire connecting the street lamp to the grid.  The problem with a broader use is that PV FITs tend to be higher  than those for wind, which means that this will tend to crowd out investment in more efficient sources of renewable energy.  Der Spiegel, gave some revealing statistics for Germany.

        Nearly 50 percent of all green energy subsides go to solar power, which yields only 20 percent of the energy generated by subsidized technology.

        Other green energy technologies have the opposite economics. For the same amount of money, wind power produces about five times more energy than solar power. Hydropower generates six times more, and even biomass power plants are three times as effective as solar power.

        Moreover, there's a division between design and construction with solar panels that is much less prominent than other renewable technologies.  With Wind turbines, and even thermal solar, you have to have skilled labor on the factory floor.  This is less of an issue with PV panels. Also, PV panels are very easy to transport.  Bottom line.  Investment in PV solar will produce renewable energy in the US, but the panels themselves will come from China.  That is unlikely to change. German firms are working on highly automated plants that may stem price competition from China, but even this will involve replacing cheap labor with machines to match unit costs.  Investment in PV solar is not going to produce green jobs on the manufacturing side.   PV panels are best thought of as components in other products designed to be detached from the grid.  Grid connection is another issue.

        With wind power, a standard turbine is going to run roughly 2.5 MW capacity.  That's one unit.  Rooftop solar is another beast.  The average US home is roughly 2200-2400 square feet. Being generous, that is going to translate to 33-36 kw capacity per roof.  Which means that connecting the same quantity of rooftop solar to the grid as wind involves 70-75 connections for the one that you had with a single wind turbine.  This means that the cost of connecting the same quantity of solar capacity to the grid as wind is going to be much more expensive.

        PV solar, at least the distributed generation model based around connecting to the grid has too many issues to be able to achieve the sort of market penetration needed to  form a solid basis for an energy transition.  Most people would get far more value, and have a far greater positive impact on the environment if they chose to put a solar water heater on their roof than trying to put on solar panels. The proper policy instrument for that is low interest financing, and a limited amount of government grants.  The same is true for PV solar.  It needs to be excluded from FIT and RPS programs.  

        There's a place for PV solar in limited roles, but the grandiose visions often put forward for the technology have a lot more feeding fantasies about personally saving the planet than taking part in collective projects that have the real possibility of change our energy mix.

        by ManfromMiddletown on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 05:09:59 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Pv solar produced 5.3% of Germany's electricity (0+ / 0-)

          needs in the first half of 2011.  That's more than was produced from hydropower and can't really be considered a "limited role" anymore.

          Furthermore, pv solar creates more jobs than any other electricity source, with most of the jobs being created in the installation sector.  You're also ignoring that pv solar is not just about modules.  Inverter factories also create jobs.

          And, last but not least, you may have more grid connections with rooftop pv solar than with wind or other forms of electricity generation, yet the pv solar grid connections are dirt cheap in comparison to those with other forms of power generation since the systems are place where the grid already exists and no new high-power lines need to be constructed.

          "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

          by Lawrence on Wed Aug 01, 2012 at 02:07:28 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Even if were just a daytime power source, (23+ / 0-)

      and conventional power were used at night, it'd be a massive improvement over the status quo.

      "He who fights monsters should see to it that he himself does not become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."

      by Hayate Yagami on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 08:13:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Answered (15+ / 0-)

      First, you can store high-temperature heat using firebrick or graphite, and such systems are commercially available.  Shallow solar collectors cover with snow (my hot water heater in MA has this issue) but steep-angle (optimized angle for winter) separated from roof units seldom have this issue.  For electric the solar units are usefully placed in parts of the country that rarely have clouds, such as the Southwestern deserts, though in fact there is a lot of light energy available even on cloudy days.

      We can have change for the better.

      by phillies on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 08:13:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Agreed (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      radical simplicity, semiot, gzodik

      Solar works well in the South and Southwest, but even in the Mohave desert one can get cloudy days and power must run 24/7.

      Concentrated solar thermal or even PV can be used to heat molten salt to 1,500 C so one still has power at night.

      Next given transmission loss - not a good idea for a solar plant in AZ to be supplying the Northeast with electricity.

      95% of all electricity generation is dirty and we're talking about a ton of infrastructure.

      So it will take time to change this.  The thing about any new tech is one has to build it and hammer on it to see flaws and then make improvements.

      So build it out and other clean tech maybe in a beta fashion where you prove out a tech and if it is promising expand it if not alter it or kill it.

      At the same time make coal/nat gas cleaner as possible.

    •  Handled pretty much the same way we handle them (15+ / 0-)

      already.  We already have to deal with storing energy, because load and generation are never in sync as it is, no matter what the method of generation.  

      Pop a grid over your solar collectors like you find on rear windows of cars to melt ice and snow off with just a sensor or two to detect the covering, and you're good for ice and snow.

      And clouds are even less worry if you're still attached to a grid.  The greater your distribution of panels is, the more likely that there are plenty of others not covered by clouds, that can help with load.  Clouds are a problem for 'off the grid' folks, who are essentially just a point source of generation that can be impacted.

      So, simple solutions to simple problems.

    •  Batteries and Deserts -n/t (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
    •  Totally simplistic! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FG, xynz

      For example, this site agrees that incident solar energy falling on the USA is 100x our current power consumption (or about 1000-fold our current electrical consumption).

      But just wait until the plans are put in place to actually cover even 10% of the country with solar panels! (or molten salt facilities) There's going to be a whole lot of screaming going on, from both sides of the political spectrum.

    •  Demand curve (8+ / 0-)

      The highest demand in the US happens on warm sunny days to power air conditioning [1], which happens to be when solar works best (modulo a small efficiency loss with temperature).

      [1] One can retrofit better insulaiton to improve that state of affairs, but at the end of the day it still gets hot outside.

      Moreover, the entire US is not covered in cloud at any given time, so power can be shipped from sunny climes to cloudy, something like the proposed East Coast wind power grid:

    •  wors for Germany (4+ / 0-)

      And for trees in northern latitudes.   This may be less of an issue than thought

      Courtesy Kos. Trying to call on the better angels of our nature.

      by Mindful Nature on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 10:01:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Not really (15+ / 0-)

      1) Snow cover:
      Most panels are at an angle where snow slides off all by itself. Sticky, icy, wind-driven snow can sometimes remain on the panels, but usually the UV from the sun causes the aluminum frame to heat just enough to cause melt water to run down the panels behind the snow, so even that usually slides off by mid-day. Living in northern VT, we know our snow.

      2) Clouds:
      Clouds come in different thicknesses. It's rare for there to be NO insolation during the daytime, even on completely overcast days. So far, hurricane Irene has been the only day we got nothing in terms of insolation. Most overcast days are in the "partly or "mostly" cloudy category, in which there are periods of sun interspersed with periods of cloudiness. This means full insolation part of the time, and partial insolation the rest of the time. If the system is planned with this in mind, you get plenty of power out of it.

      3) Storage:
      It's something we need if we're going to use solar as a baseline, but it's not really a necessity if we're using solar as the equivalent of a "peaker" plan - the gas plants that spin up just to cover peak demand.  

      Also, as they've discovered with wind in certain European countries, a smart grid enables the power to be distributed when and where it's needed, obviating one of the so-called "disadvantages" of solar: overcapacity. Since systems are generally over-built to account for bad weather, they often generate more than can be used during good weather. With a smart grid, this "excess" electricity generated on a bright day can be sent to areas of extra demand on those days, which means (a) it's no longer excess, and (b) it prevents the need for a gas-powered plant to start up.

      Since this "excess" is no longer wasted, it means that the cost of the power generated drops. Without a smart grid, the extra power is akin to dumping gasoline on the ground after you fill the tank of your car: you're still paying for that gas, but not using it. With smart grids, you're using that power, and thus the average cost per watt generated by the system drops.

      This is why on days like today (very bright and sunny), we'll do things like give the house an extra vacuum, take long, relaxing baths (the well pump uses electricity), use the power sander to refinish a yard-sale find, etc.

      The capacity of our storage batteries is limited, so if we're getting more sun than we can store, the battery charger simply stops filling them.  If we install a pond, we'll use the extra to run a solar aeration fountain or two. Those extra watts we use are a bonus beyond the system's design, which means we're getting the use of more power than the official system capacity, which means our cost per watt is dropping.

      In summary: whether storage is required depends on the purpose of the solar panels. If the intent is to provide baseline power, or off-grid power to a home or business, sure. If the intent is to prevent the need to run a "natural" gas plant during peak hours, not so much. We absolutely should work on storage (and many technologies have already been mentioned), but the lack of ideal solutions is no reason to hold back deployment, because even without it, solar is an extremely valuable player in terms of keeping peaker plants offline.

  •  Well Known (9+ / 0-)

    All the energy needs of the entire world could be met by solar farms in the great deserts of the world.  There is enough insolation in the world's deserts to supply ten times the world's energy needs today.  All that is left is the engineering.

  •  Read the footnotes (0+ / 0-)

    What does "Non-excluded land was assumed to be available"  really mean? How much of the country do you have to pave over with solar cells to get this much?

    I think it's certainly true that we can replace most of the electricity generation we currently have with solar and do much, much less damage to the environment than our current technologies do, but don't kid yourself; 100 times our current electricity generation would have serious environmental consequences.

  •  Nuclear is not a pipe dream. It is a potential (3+ / 0-)

    stopgap as we move to something else -- a stopgap that does not add CO2 to the atmosphere.  Thorium would be my choice, BTW.

    Coal and oil sands and the worst of the worst.

    We need to plow money into solar in a big way, ASAP.

    Happy little moron, Lucky little man.
    I wish I was a moron, MY GOD, Perhaps I am!
    —Spike Milligan

    by polecat on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 08:32:15 AM PDT

    •  I don't see nuclear as a reasonable or logical (17+ / 0-)

      choice.  The current and old designs are too dangerous and expensive and not a single thorium plant has been built.

      Furthermore, it takes ages to build nuke plants while solar pv is  often installed in less than a year from planning to finish.

      Germany has gone from virtually no solar pv to over 5% of their electricity coming from solar in a mere 5 years.  With Germany being at the same latitude as Maine, just think of what is possible in the U.S....

      "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

      by Lawrence on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 08:38:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Actually solar supplies about 3% of Germany's (3+ / 0-)


        If they had spent the same $120 billion or so used for this building nuclear power plants, they would supply 3 or 4 fold more electricity.

        •  Nope, it jumped to 5.3% during the first half (13+ / 0-)

          of 2012.

          The $120 billion figure is incorrect.

          "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

          by Lawrence on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 08:47:07 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  But still, the cost to install solar is almost (0+ / 0-)

            the same as to build nuclear power plants.

            The former operate at about 20% of capacity and the latter at 90% or higher.

            Just saying, if economics and logic were important, Germany would not be following their current path (which, btw, involves (what they say will be temporary) burst of increased carbon emissions).

            In any event, I suppose we all have China to thank for making solar panels dirt cheap the last couple of years.  Suppose we'll have to see if that lasts.

            •  terrible comparison (13+ / 0-)

              Solar displaces peak power which costs on the order of 10x that of baseload which is all nuclear can supply. Try again with the economics argument...

              Kiss my ass. This is a Holy Site...

              by jam on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 09:01:09 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  LOL link please (5+ / 0-)

              Installing solar costs as much as nuclear plants?  That's hilarious.  Is that with up-to-date costs?

              •  He means after the huge subsidies (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                for building plutonium factories which produce power as a by-product.  He conveniently ignores the massive CO2 production from building nukes, mining, processing, transporting, and storing the fuel, and of course like all plutonium pushers, he considers long-term storage to be free of financial and CO2 costs, simply because they are incalculable.

            •  How? (12+ / 0-)

              Show me actual costs where installing 1GW solar cost almost as much as installing 1GW nukes.

              The relative capacity efficiencies are purely irrelevant.

              Also, Germany's solar capacity is mainly the product of German panels and equipment. Despite competing with China's slavery/pollution subsidized panels, Germany's solar installations are a self-starting industry that's already paying back its public subsidies as they draw down.

              BTW, Germany's path of economics and logic has made it the world leader in most ways right now. Its logic was partly based on the actual demonstration of Fukushima, but also on the nuke industry that Germany has not only had for almost as long as the US, but indeed is primarily responsible for originally thinking up as science and engineering. Really, you just called Germans illogical and frivolous spenders. They have been demonstrating the truth inside their stereotype more and more for generations.

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

              by DocGonzo on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 10:01:17 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Doc! "capictity efficiencies are purely (0+ / 0-)

                irrelveant"!!!!???!! Jeezus, dude. It's ALL about capacity FACTOR and how much energy (measured in MW hours) you get back per investement over a given period of time.

                If my 1GW solar plant cost $7 billion dollars and the my 1GW nuclear plant costs the same, but I get 24GW hours from the nuke and only 6GW hours from the solar plant, wanna guess which is more expensive??? And, MORE importantly, which can provide power for 24/7?

                Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

                by davidwalters on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 10:06:41 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  If your 1 GW solar plant (6+ / 0-)

                  costs $7 billion someone stole $5 billion from you.

                  Kiss my ass. This is a Holy Site...

                  by jam on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 11:19:45 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  and why (3+ / 0-)

                  is base load more important than peak load? Peak is more expensive.

                  Kiss my ass. This is a Holy Site...

                  by jam on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 11:25:24 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Peak is more expensive ONLY in (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    an unregulated market driven electrical market like Europe and the US. In other countries, it doesn't exist as a distinct pricing form. (and nor should it IMO).

                    Peakload is any load over and above, but INCLUDING baseload. Baseload is generally an afternoon type load, in most places, when the combination of residential (a minority of the load) and industrial and commercial load all overlap. You need to have power all the time, no exceptions. that is base load.

                    Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

                    by davidwalters on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 11:35:16 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  So? (0+ / 0-)

                      We live in an unregulated market driven electrical market. Even Europe has one, as you note. We are not talking about building nukes in Sim City; we are talking about the real world.

                      But even in reality peak is more expensive to produce, since the least efficient plants are left offline until required during peak. Just as there is always baseload, there is also always peak every year. Solar is better for peak, since nukes take time to ramp up and down but solar ramps itself up and down with the Sun that drives the peak demand (air cooling).

                      For baseload, geothermal is better than nukes as I've pointed out elsewhere.

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

                      by DocGonzo on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 05:39:42 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                •  Per Investment (0+ / 0-)

                  Capacity factor does not equal capacity factor per investment. That post said percent of capacity, you are now moving the goalposts to percent of capacity per investment. You might as well argue miles per gallon when I respond to a statement about miles.

                  Why should I take you seriously in the rest of this discussion?

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

                  by DocGonzo on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 05:36:39 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  That's easy enough (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                nuclear power runs from about $2 billion per GW nuclear power plant in China to about 2x that in the USA (since Germany has no plans to build more, there is no data on how much it would cost over there).

                According to this site an average home uses (over time) 600 W and a solar installation to cover that would cost $16,000.

                so, that's $16,000 for 0.6 kiloW

                or, $16 million for 0.6 megaW

                or, $16 billion for 0.6 gigaW

                Or, $26.7 billion for 1 GW

                Which, is at least 5x more expensive than the cost of nuclear power.

                So, if a country opts to spend at least 5x more than they need to to mitigate carbon emissions, yes, I call that frivilous spending.

                But again, like I said, that's still better than what we do with our excess $$s, to I'm not going to be too strident in calling the kettle black.

                •  Agreed, when solar runs, it cuts into (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Roadbed Guy, Deward Hastings

                  gas and coal consumption which is a "good thing". But it will not end reliance on fossil fuels and the faith-based arguments you find here has not real traction in true energy planning for a non-carbon future.

                  BTW...wind, not solar, is what provides the bulk of renewable energy in Germany. Just say'n.

                  Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

                  by davidwalters on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 10:18:10 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Another thing that is not entered into the (0+ / 0-)

                    above calculations for the cost of solar (or wind for that matter, presumably the same considerations apply) is the needed upgrade for infrastructure to the grid that is required to accomodate this stuff coming online.

                    For example, in Hawaii regulators have impeded the development of solar for fear of the grid becoming unstable:

                    Only recently did solar advocates succeed in overcoming the antiquated 15% rule that limited interconnections of solar power to 15% of grid capacity.   The revised rule may expand the limit to 25%, but that still only accommodates half of the state’s solar potential on rooftops alone.

                    These low limits meant that in recent months nearly 90% of commercial solar projects were told by the islands’ utilities that they face a costly and lengthy interconnection study to come online.


                    Again, this is probably money well invested to solve this problem - but still, it's not free!

                    •  No one is saying that infrastructure upgrades (6+ / 0-)

                      won't be needed.  But in our current depressed economy, I can't think of a better way for stimulus money to be spent than on jobs to upgrade our power grid.

                      •  Lots of people are (in essence) saying that (0+ / 0-)

                        by saying that solar is currently competitive with existing sources of electricity.

                        It's not - but as you suggest, subsidizing infrastructure upgrades to bring it online is good from multiple perspectives - again, I'm not sure why everyone can't be honest about this and make the case for solar based on its real merits (as you are doing!).

                        •  It depends on your definition of "currently" (3+ / 0-)

                          Residential solar is already competitive with existing sources of electricity in certain American markets at peak rates.  Depending on whom you talk to, even industrial solar will be competitive with coal and nuclear within the decade, some say even sooner.  And the costs will continue to go down after that, with the exponential growth in technological advances.  So it makes sense to upgrade the grid, as in the short-term it's only a little more expensive, and future installations will provide even cheaper sources.

                        •  Well, if you're basing your price comparison (5+ / 0-)

                          ... on 13 year old data (which, based on the example you provided above, I assume to be the case), with invalid assumptions about how much one can save via efficiency, then sure it's non-competitive.

                          However, if you use current numbers and real efficiency data, it's completely competitive.

                          Heck in just the last year, panel prices have dropped from just over $2/watt (which is what we paid) to under $1/watt.

                          If we then subsidized solar with the same subsidies that are given to fossil tech and nuclear, solar would be far more than competitive.

                          •  No, they wouldn't. Subsidies are given to (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Deward Hastings

                            other baseload generation but at a rate per unit of energy that is statistical irrelevant to them as compared to what wind and solar get. Not even close.

                            Also the costs per panel is not the only cost. You need the inverter (for industry or for residence), grid connection, etc, not to mention installation costs.

                            I'm actually for mining those subsidies, hell, a middle or upper middle class homeowner in Cali still gets half of the 'price' paid for and other taxpayers. I say go for it. But it has little to do with solving the problems of fossil fuel and GHG emissions.

                            Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

                            by davidwalters on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 11:57:08 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  rate per unit of energy? (4+ / 0-)

                            why on earth is that relevant?  The point of subsidies should be to speed up both research and prevalence of new technology.  Take the total dollar amount given to fossil fuels and give it as green industry grants and green subsidies.

                            Those other costs you mention are also falling.  As a humorous aside:


                          •  Yes, I realize that panel prices (0+ / 0-)

                            have been plummeting due to the Chinese goverment subsidizing them massively.

                            which is freakin' great.

                            But I'm old and cant' go up on my roof and install them myself.

                            Instead I have to hire a contractor, which is quite expensive.

                            Then as time goes on, periodic maintanence is required - for example for some reason my house is a popular gathering point for birds, which come and shit all over my roof.

                            Usually I don't care that much, but I suspect that that might diminish the efficacy of solar panels.

                            So I'd have to hire somebody to come and clean them periodically (I don't know, maybe every 2 months?).  Because you know, I'm old and not really in any shape to be trapsizign alll over my roof . . ..  and from experience I know that simply spraying water up there with the hose doesn't much work on getting the bird shit off.

                          •  Bird poop doesn't stick well to panels (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Larsstephens, Lawrence

                            And if you really need to, you can just spray them with a hose. But birds, in general will sit on the panels oriented with their butts toward the ground, not the panel faces, because of the angle at which the panels sit.

                            Roof mount is not the only option. Ours are pole mounted. It took a day to mount the array and get everything hooked up, once the pole was installed. I only have one working arm, and am able to lift the panels by letting the bad arm hang down, hooking my fingers around the bottom edge of the panel, then doing the rest of the lifting/moving with the other arm. My husband and son did most of the work, while I passed panels, nuts, bolts, zip ties, wrenches, etc. to them.

                            We did need a hand pouring the concrete for the pole, but a friend offered to help in exchange for lunch. It took a couple of hours to pour and we let it cure for 2 weeks. A friend with a backhoe dug the hole for the pole for us.

                          •  Pole Mount (0+ / 0-)

                            Do you think I could mount solar panels on 40 foot tall poles to get above the trees on my property?

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

                            by DocGonzo on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 06:03:05 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Probably, but it would be (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:

                            ... ridiculously expensive.

                            For comparison, our pole ($350) is 10" in diameter, 18' long, 8' of which is under ground, and 10' above. The pole is filled with cement, and is centered in an 8' length of sonotube, also full of cement. Our cement mass is bigger than needed, because it's the minimum we could get delivered. This ensures it's not going anywhere under serious wind load (which we get at our elevation). The rack on which the panels are mounted is designed to for winds exceeding 80 mph.

                            Extrapolating from that, you'd need something ungodly huge with a block of cement the size of a small building to anchor it, and probably guy wires. If you're looking to get power at that height, it becomes more sensible to start looking at the feasibility of small wind.

                            Solar isn't going to be the right solution for every single location, and not every individual would need to install solar for us to drastically reduce our electricity-related carbon use.

                          •  You Realize (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            radical simplicity, Sandino

                            The Chinese subsidies to Chinese solar panels haven't made German or American panels cheaper except by competition. The supply side subsidy point is meaningless.

                            The cost of installing solar panels, even for people to go on the roof, is low enough that the total installed cost of residential solar is usually under $5:W, which is cheap. The periodic maintenance is hardly greater than cleaning your gutters, and is paid for in probably under a week of savings per year.

                            Even before retail subsidies solar is cheaper than nukes. Retail subsidies cost the public less than the public subsidies to nukes. So really the comparison shows that solar is a lot cheaper than nukes.

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

                            by DocGonzo on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 06:02:07 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                    •  Infrastructure upgrades are needed (3+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      cordgrass, Lawrence, cocinero

                      ... even if we do nothing at all to our current energy mix.

                      The grid is OLD and failing, and must be upgraded to prevent future cascade failures (like the one that took out much of the northeast a few years ago).

                      In addition, we will get better efficiencies out of it if we upgrade it, no matter what we have for power sources.

                      It's disingenuous to lay the necessary infrastructure upgrade at the feet of solar.

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

                      that you should cite an article about "fears that the grid will be unstable" which in fact does not even mention grid stability at all.

                      Kiss my ass. This is a Holy Site...

                      by jam on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 11:23:37 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Yeah OK, since you apparently don't have (0+ / 0-)

                        access to the Google, I'll cut and paste for you:

                        The solar business is booming in general, with Q1 2011 growth at 66% over the same time last year, according to a new report from the Solar Energy Industries Association and GTM Research. But Hawaii's dilemma is a perplexing example of how smart grid technologies are struggling to cope with the growing popularity of solar power, and how utilities are trying to deal with the significant challenges of constantly fluctuating amounts of PV power being pumped into the grid.

                        The Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) has established a 15% threshold (set by the Hawaii PUC) for the amount of solar power than can be added to a single circuit to help ensure electric grid stability, as many other U.S. utilities have done. But Hawaii has the highest per capita quantity of solar power connected to its power grid. And when the 15% percent threshold is reached on Oahu, Maui, Hawaii island, Molokai and Lanai – HECO's customers there can be required to pony up for an expensive study before they can link their solar systems to the grid, reports the Honolulu Star Advertiser newspaper. The price tags for those studies can run from several thousand dollars for a small residential installation to $16,000 and up for larger projects.

                        HECO's concern is whether an installation can be safely connected to the grid without causing reliability problems for other customers on the same circuit.
                        "This is why a technical review – this is not a limit or a cap – may be needed when the amount of PV power on a neighborhood circuit reaches 15%," HECO spokesman peter Rosegg was quoted as saying in the article. The utility also noted that only a few studies have been done.

                        •  This is an unusual circumstance because (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          Deward Hastings

                          of the Island's being, well, Islands. What makes Germany or Danish wind energy (the main and most important renewable energy there) doable is that the are integrated into both the southern European (France) and northern European (Norway, Sweden) grids.

                          Hawaiians show the sort of text-book limitations of large unrelabiles power sources in the grid.  

                          On these islands you have to have at least one load-following source of generation or the voltage, and thus VAR flow, go crazy and things have to shutdown. This is the problem with "load balance" a critical aspect of running any grid. In fact, I'm not even sure what why going over 15% is even allowed...I'm suspect they do this and then shutdown their diesel run gas turbines (on Oahu and Maui) and simply 'risk' the grid this way. If the intermittent/unreliables don't provide the power, rolling black outs ensue and the utility has to pony up big bucks.

                          Still, I'd like to know the technical details.


                          Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

                          by davidwalters on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 11:41:23 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                  •  "faith-based arguments" is an offensive phrase (6+ / 0-)

                    The point of this diary is that yes, indeed, solar and wind can eventually handle all energy needs for a non-carbon future.  The linked government report seems the complete opposite of "faith-based".

                •  Those numbers are wrong (6+ / 0-)

                  The article was written 13 years ago.

                  From their citation link:

                  "How many solar cells would I need in order to provide all of the electricity that my house needs?"  07 July 2000.  
                  In addition, the article's claim that 100 watts is the most you could save per day through efficiency is complete bullshit.

                  Heck, standby power alone from one instance each of the top 10 power vampires account for more than 50 watts per household per day. Most homes have more than one of the worst offenders - televisions, cable boxes, gaming consoles, etc. And they didn't even count all the cell phone chargers.

                •  wow, you've just completely embarrassed yourself (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  cordgrass, DocGonzo

                  You've just overestimated PV by a factor of 13 and understimated nuclear by 2x so your lie factor is 26. Wow.

                  Kiss my ass. This is a Holy Site...

                  by jam on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 11:36:39 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Could you be more specific? (0+ / 0-)

                    Because, if I've really overestimated PV by a factor of 13 and nuclear by 2x, then my position would be 26 times stronger than I posted.

                    I'm intrigued that unlike myself, you never post links, just say things.

                    •  cost (4+ / 0-)

                      You have overestimated the cost of PV by a factor of 13. You have claimed that 1 GW of solar costs $26.7 billion. This study shows PV at $2.88/W (2010) with modules at $1.95/W. Modules are currently less than $1/W. Total installed costs are currently less than $2/W (I've seen quotes for $1.75).


                      I'll go ahead and give you the 2X on the nuclear side.

                      in essence, nuclear (in China) is almost exactly the same overnight cost as PV. Admittedly for the same nameplate capacity, not for energy.

                      Please don't start throwing capacity factors around and trying to make unsupported claims about levelized costs of energy.

                      Kiss my ass. This is a Holy Site...

                      by jam on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 12:14:00 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  I'm not interested in "a study" (0+ / 0-)

                        I'm interested in what it costs to actually come and install the panels on my house.

                        Which apparently amplifies the cost by 13x or so - you know, because it costs $$s to have somebody skilled in the craft actually come out and get everything set up.

                        You know, similar to what it takes to get a nuclear power plant up and running . .. .

                        Seriously, if you can find somebody who'll install me a solar set up for $2,000 - I'm signing up for that instantaneously!!

                        But no, in the real world it costs $35 to $40K.

                        •  maybe if y'all actually read the report (3+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          jam, Larsstephens, Sandino

                          For residential, it says:

                          The analysis results in a total installed price for a benchmark 2010 residential PV system of $5.71/ WP DC. Figure 2 shows the price breakdown by element. Modules contribute the most to the price (38%), followed by labor costs (22%, electrical and hardware labor plus installer O&P) and supply chain costs (17%).

                        •  You're Not Interested in the Facts (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:

                          You ignore "a study" and the direct experience (with dollar figures) from the poster who offered it, in favor of a 13 year old TLC TV article that's totally wrong, and you're not backing down.

                          You're calling "faith based" other legitimate arguments against your bad logic and wrong facts.

                          In the real world $35K would buy you something like 15-20KW after real subsidies, which is about 10x what you probably need.

                          You're not interested in the facts. You just want to argue for nukes against solar. Why bother talking to you about it?

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

                          by DocGonzo on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 06:11:33 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                      •  to continue - your quoted numbers might be (0+ / 0-)

                        correct - but you have to factor in a 16 to 20% utilization factor.

                        Thus instead of 600 W in the link I provided - because my wife using a lot of electricity - I need about 1500 W.

                        And the sun shines (on average) about 8 hours a day -you gotta multiple that by 3 - so we're up to 4500 W.

                        Now, divide that by 0.16 (the utilization factor) - we're up to 27,000 W installed capacity.

                        So at $1.75 per W - that's $47,250 - or MORE than I was quoted (I guess I was getting a bargain - YAY!! - but sadly still couldn't afford it).

                        •  yeah, you have NO IDEA (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:

                          what you are talking about.

                          the utilization factor is the same thing as the sun shines only 8 hours a day.

                          Kiss my ass. This is a Holy Site...

                          by jam on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 12:30:28 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  OK, maybe I don't have the terminology (0+ / 0-)

                            down pat - but the point is that it's dark for 12 hours a day (on average over the year).

                            Plus, where I live, it's sufficiently cloudy to reduce incident sunlight by 33% over time.

                            Thus the 8 hours per day sunlight factor.

                            Then - it's a well known fact that PV panels are NOT 100% efficient.  Perhaps 20% of that.

                            So, my numbers are more or less correct.  Heck, why would the company give me a ridiculously high estimate that there's no way in hell that I could afford?

                            But I'll grant you all your assinine talking points and cut everything by 3x.  Which means that I SHOULD be able to get a set-up for about $16K.

                            Which leaves us right back at the starting point - i.e., the link that I provided above that used that figure for about 1/2 to 1/3 of the capacity that I require.

                            Seriously, if you think that that can be supplied for 1/26th of that cost, well all that I can say is that you're seriously crazy.

                            Which would be a shame, because deep down inside I suspect that we both want the same thing - a more sane energy policy for this country.  But again, I'm not sure how we'll ever get there if we can be honest about the costs involved.

                          •  sigh (6+ / 0-)

                            I'll take a step back. Note that I'm going to simplify things a bit here.

                            Solar PV is currently being installed in the United States for approximately $2/W direct current peak. That means, at solar noon on a cloudless day a 100 W panel is producing 100 W of DC electricity. After conversion to grid style AC something like 85-90% of that is hitting the grid. Let's call it 85 W. It doesn't matter how efficient the panel is or where in the world you are - a 100 W panel produces 100 W.

                            More "efficient" panels are just smaller in area than less efficient panels. A 20% efficient 200 W panel is 1 square meter (m^2). A 10% efficient 200 W panel is 2 m^2. However, when they are hit with the same amount of sun, they produce exactly the same amount of electricity.

                            Location in the world tells you how much sun you get per year. The lower 48 states range from about 1000 kWh/kW to 3000 kWh/kW per year. So, if you install a 1 kW system in Boston, it will produce approximately 1,200 kWh per year. That same system in AZ would produce around 2,000 kWh per year.

                            In 2010, that system on your house that you say cost $35,000 would have been about a 7 kW system. In Boston, that should produce around 8,400 kWh a year or about 700 kWh per month. At $0.15/kWh, that has an energy value of a little more than $100/month.

                            That same system should cost about half of that today - maybe a little more. Call it $20K. Yes, the reduction in PV prices has been that dramatic.

                            And that is as honest and simple and direct as I can explain the way PV works

                            Kiss my ass. This is a Holy Site...

                            by jam on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 01:11:43 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  and in AZ (5+ / 0-)

                            that system would produce around 14,000 kWh a year (1,167 kWh/month). At $0.10, that energy would have a value of $117/month.

                            Kiss my ass. This is a Holy Site...

                            by jam on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 01:16:05 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                  •  Actually, the solar costs seem pretty much (0+ / 0-)

                    spot on.

                    About 18 months ago, I got an estimate for $35-40K to get set up for a roof top solar system, and my monthly electric bill is about $150.

                    The example I gave, for $16K is based on using $67 of electricity a month (at 15 cents per kWh).  So, the two values match up pretty well.

                    •  Get a quote from someone else (3+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      DocGonzo, Sandino, Lawrence

                      Either (a) the quote you got was from a company that prefers to work only on large projects and they quoted an inflated price to make you go away (common with some of the big names); or (b) you use an extraordinary amount of electricity and they quoted sufficient overcapacity to ensure you would have 100% of your highest use covered on the worst insolation days; or (c) they quoted a system that would feed back into the grid enough to make you a profit.

                •  Too Easy (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Sandino, Lawrence

                  The actual costs of building a US nuke plant are more like $7.7B per GW.

                  The costs of operating the two Indian Point plants (2GW) in my backyard are about $350M per year, so over 40 years is about $7B per GW. These costs don't include everything externalized (including the risks, insured and otherwise), but nukes cost almost $15B per GW ($15:W) for 40 years.

                  Residential solar costs about $5:W installed; MW utility installations cost about $3:W; they also last about 40 years.

                  Then there are the externalized costs of nukes; I'm not including the subsidies so solar has vastly less externalized costs. Nukes always require high voltage long transmission lines which are lossy and expensive to maintain; solar is much more distributed so less lossy and require less infrastructure.

                  I could go on and on showing factors of solar advantages, but I've already shown they're cheaper than nukes. That's why Germans, who are hardly frivolous in energy, money or the environment.

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

                  by DocGonzo on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 05:57:14 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

          •  About the $120 billion figure (0+ / 0-)

            it's from Spiegel:

            According to the RWI, the solar energy systems connected to the grid in 2011 alone will cost electricity customers about €18 billion in subsidy costs over the next 20 years. "The demand for subsidies is growing and growing," says RWI expert Manuel Frondel. If all commitments to pay subsidies so far are added together, Frondel adds, "we have already exceeded the €100 billion level."
            based on currency conversions, it's probably actually more than that.
            •  It's not from Spiegel, it's from RWI, which is (9+ / 0-)

              a captured energy "think tank" that is funded by big nuke and big fossil.

              Frondel is a corporate stooge for German Big Energy.

              "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

              by Lawrence on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 09:00:28 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  The article I linked was in Spiegel (0+ / 0-)

                which accepted the numbers as accurate.

                Look, as I posted above, I'm totally OK with using massive amounts of money in this way - it's better than spending it on idiotic wars, for example.

                However, I'm not sure if it benefits anyone/anything it we're not upfront honest about the costs involved.  Which are high, but probably worth it to avoid even greater costs associated with global climate change.

                In that vein, if the goal was to mitigate climate change rather than to push a political agenda, nuclear power would have to be given really serious consideration.

                •  The estimate of the costs given by RWI was (8+ / 0-)

                  based on old feed-in-tariff rates and it completely underestimated the lifespan of solar power plants and modules, ie. it does not factor in at all that solar power plants will be producing the cheapest electricity around after the 20 year f.i.t. rate expires.

                  Solar power already is much cheaper than you think.

                  In fact, the cost of electricity from solar pv ground installations in the MW range in Germany already is cheaper than electricity from new nuclear.


                  "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

                  by Lawrence on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 09:15:52 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  And also underestmiated is the (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Deward Hastings

                    increasing lifespans of nuclear. all nuclear plants built now and that have come on line in the last 10 years have 60 year life spans.

                    Solar only hit's midday peak or 'noon', which is, in the US, is not peak load. Peak load is on the downward slide of solar, from 1500 to 1900 hours. In fact, if you look at at the CALISO site you'll see it's in the last afternoon when the rated 'capacity' of solar is about 1/4 of what it needs to be. Of course this is seasonally adjusted.

                    Solar PV cannot run an industrial 24/7 society. Even those whacky Germans understand that (which is why the biggest industry supporting solar is not the solar industry...but the natural gas industry).

                    If you build out a CSP site...I notice NO ONE on this list has stated the cost for this...turning this into a "24 hour" operation would require dividing the 5 or so hours of peak production by 4/5ths to get your "24 hour" generation. Thus a CSP site that can output say, 1000MWs for 4 or 5 hours if tied to a molten salt storage (costs please?) divided evenly around that 24 hour cycle, would out put about only 200MWs, if they are lucky. Maybe more in the summer and less in the winter.


                    Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

                    by davidwalters on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 09:41:51 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Sorry, should of privided a link to the CALISO (0+ / 0-)

                      forcast chart:

                      Today's peak, at a whopping 39000+ MWs is at 1700 hours (that's 5pm for non-industry types). Do you think our mythical 1000MW CSP plant is outputing "1000MWs" then? I don't think so. The vast array of new gas turbines, however, will be balls-to-the-wall at full load. Buy gas stocks now if you want to make some money.


                      Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

                      by davidwalters on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 09:45:38 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

            •  and that's projected out (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              over the next 20 years.

              Kiss my ass. This is a Holy Site...

              by jam on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 09:05:03 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Yes, as indicated by the use of the word "already" (0+ / 0-)
                •  um, no (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  see, "already" means previously as in "they have already paid for it and are now $120 billion poorer than they were before". What I'm saying is that the $120 billion is one industry's projection of what may be spent over the next 20 years as in "they haven't actually spent even a small fraction of $120 billion already." See what I did there? Past versus future.

                  Kiss my ass. This is a Holy Site...

                  by jam on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 11:18:39 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I go to Germany every 3 or 4 years (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    means are the ends

                    and have discussed this with actual Germans

                    And they don't shy away from admitting the actual, and large, costs associated with their dalliance with "green" power.  They right up front admit that it's fuckin' expensive.  But the right thing to do.  I kinda admire them for that, in fact.

                    By contrast, the insistence of Americans to sweep the costs under the rug remains baffling to me.  Can't we make an argument that this is worth doing, despite its costs, based on the underlying merits?  

                    He hehe eheh , as this discussion has shown, clearly not.  D'ohh!!

          •  don't take Roadbed Guy, Frank Knarf and polecat (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            adrianrf, Larsstephens

            too seriously.  They are our resident solar trolls.

            •  Since when am I a solar troll? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Roadbed Guy

              Did you even read what I posted?

              Nice bit of A.H.  If I was allowed to give you an HR, I would.

              Coal and oil sands and the worst of the worst.

              We need to plow money into solar in a big way, ASAP.


              Happy little moron, Lucky little man.
              I wish I was a moron, MY GOD, Perhaps I am!
              —Spike Milligan

              by polecat on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 09:34:12 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Friendly rivalry with Nuclear DKos (5+ / 0-)

                "troll" was probably too harsh, my apologies.  Seems like the Nuclear DKos folk pile on the solar diaries with outdated info about the viability of solar, but that's probably just my own paranoia talking after my own trolling after climate denialist trolls on other sites.

                •  FWIW, I'm really encouraged about the grid scale (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  cordgrass, Lawrence, offgrid

                  batteries and a relatively cheap way to store daytime power and use it at night.

                  My comment was about getting the H*LL away from coal/shale oil as fast as possible and have something that works while we build up both a solar/battery infrastructure and a better grid.

                  I'm not thrilled with nuclear, but I sure as H*LL am most interested in getting away from CO2 emissions as soon as Friggin' possible.

                  My favorite kind of "nuclear" plant is 93 million miles away.  FWIW.

                  Apology accepted.

                  Happy little moron, Lucky little man.
                  I wish I was a moron, MY GOD, Perhaps I am!
                  —Spike Milligan

                  by polecat on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 09:45:22 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  You Have it Exactly Backwards (0+ / 0-)

                    Grid electricity storage is not built to store day-time energy for night use.  Rather it is exactly the opposite.  Night time demand is low and to keep the fossil (coal) plants runnign at night they are hoping that batteries will store the energy for delivery during the day at peak demand.  

                    Of course if we ever had so much solar that it exceeded the demand during the day these systems could turn that around, but that isn't going to happen any time soon.

                    The Republicans are begging for more rope. Give it to them!!!

                    by nuketeacher on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 10:18:31 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Whether it is from generating during offpeak or (3+ / 0-)

                      storing during a strong period of wind, these batteries will be useful for either model.

                      It's our job to cut the legs out from under the CO2 emmision types and go with renewables, but the batteries will be useful either way and should be built.

                      Happy little moron, Lucky little man.
                      I wish I was a moron, MY GOD, Perhaps I am!
                      —Spike Milligan

                      by polecat on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 12:03:28 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

              •  Yeah, I know what you mean (0+ / 0-)

                I have been nothing but supportive of the idea of installing as much solar capacity as practical.

                However, when really, really strange things are said in support of solar, can't they be questioned?

                For example, reading through the comments to this diary, getting enough solar capacity to completely meet this country's electricity needs is a simple as installing solar panels on all roads, cul-de-sacs, alleyways, parking lots, etc (e.g., paved areas, I suppose).

                At first glance that makes good sense, since we've paved over an area equal to Ohio, which is plenty large enough.

                But practically, just how do you "cover a road with solar panels"?  Do you build posts and stick the panels up there on them?  And if so, doesn't the highway safety administration have all kinds of safety regulations that would be violated?  And wouldn't there be all kinds of neighborhoods, scenic routes, etc where people simply would not agree to having these installed, even if safe?

        •  But their further gains in solar capacity will be (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Lawrence, adrianrf

          far cheaper.  Germany is adding solar power capacity at roughly 8-10 GW per year right now, and that will increase.  All projections show that Germany can easily ditch those crusty old nuclear reactors by 2025 and attain a 100% renewable status by 2050.

          •  Miggles, not they can't. Not based on solar. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            WeatherDem, Deward Hastings

            Remember, today, there is almost no storage capacity for any solar at all. Some, and very, very expensive.

            What the Germans have done is to build 2 natural gas pipelines form the Baku region of Azerbijan and one from Russia under the Baltic and have built out a large number of gas turbines. Even to this day, coal burning has not decreased at all and thus with all this renewables, Germany still gets 48% of its electricity from coal. Why is that?

            I'd say the thing to 'ditch' first is coal, then gas, but huge GHG emitters then we can see if low-carbon nuclear could replace low carbon solar and wind (lots more energy from wind...those "8 to 10GWs" year yield about 1 to 2 GWs in actual energy.

            Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

            by davidwalters on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 09:54:07 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  The reality of Germany's IDIOTIC nuclear phase out (0+ / 0-)

            is more fossil fuels burned:

            Also, Gerhard Schröder, Bundeskanzler when the phase out was decided, is now chairman of the board of NordStream (prononced 'Gazprom'). Connect the dots...

      •  Hard to get baseline power from Solar (0+ / 0-)

        which is the point of the other post I have below about grid scale batteries.

        None of those exist yet, either.

        Happy little moron, Lucky little man.
        I wish I was a moron, MY GOD, Perhaps I am!
        —Spike Milligan

        by polecat on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 08:48:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  They exist already: (7+ / 0-)
          Sumitomo Electric Industries Ltd. (Osaka, Japan) has completed and commissioned a combined concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) and energy storage system at its Yokohama Works in Yokohama, Japan.
          The system features the world's largest redox flow battery with a capacity of 1 MW x 5 hours, 100 kW of CPV, and an energy management system (EMS). Sumitomo expects to commission another 100 kW of CPV by the end of the fiscal year, to bring the system to 200 kW.

          On July 11, Gills Onions LLC debuted what is billed as the world’s largest vanadium flow battery, and Duda Farm Fresh Foods Inc. introduced 37,000 square feet of photovoltaic solar panels.
          Karen Ross, secretary of California’s Department of Food and Agriculture; Gordon Burns, undersecretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency; and several local government officials were on hand for the event.
          Gills’ vanadium flow battery, which is as big as a tennis court, stores electricity at night, when energy rates are lowest. During peak daytime hours, the battery provides 600 kilowatts of power for as long as six hours.

          They're still in the very early implementation stage, though, but I can guarantee you that this has Big Fossil very, very worried.

          "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

          by Lawrence on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 09:53:45 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Jeff Immelt (7+ / 0-)

      Nuclear power is so expensive compared with other forms of energy that it has become “really hard” to justify, according to the chief executive of General Electric, one of the world’s largest suppliers of atomic equipment.

      “It’s really a gas and wind world today,” said Jeff Immelt, referring to two sources of electricity he said most countries are shifting towards as natural gas becomes “permanently cheap”.

      “When I talk to the guys who run the oil companies they say look, they’re finding more gas all the time. It’s just hard to justify nuclear, really hard. Gas is so cheap and at some point, really, economics rule,” Mr Immelt told the Financial Times in an interview in London at the weekend. “So I think some combination of gas, and either wind or solar … that’s where we see most countries around the world going.”

      Kiss my ass. This is a Holy Site...

      by jam on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 08:59:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  " . . . economic externalities rule." (0+ / 0-)

        There. Fixed it.

        Courage is contagious. - Daniel Ellsberg

        by semiot on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 09:42:52 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Because they make only $1 billion a year (0+ / 0-)

        on this, or, 1% of their overall sales. Wanna ask what they make selling gas turbines and generator/turbine sets for coal? Or wind turbines? So for GE it's all about profit, not energy.

        Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

        by davidwalters on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 09:48:35 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Nuclear is obsolete and has sucked up way too (8+ / 0-)

      much research funding.  Time to focus on renewables the way we did nuclear over the past 5 decades.

      •  Which is why the industry is growing (0+ / 0-)

        in the countries almost immune from lobbying by wind, solar OR nuclear industries. There has been almost NO focus on nuclear over the past 5 decades. If there were we'd have more nuclear.

        Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

        by davidwalters on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 09:49:32 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Grid scale metal liquid batteries!!! (7+ / 0-)


    TED talk

    Designed to be cheap and safe.

    Happy little moron, Lucky little man.
    I wish I was a moron, MY GOD, Perhaps I am!
    —Spike Milligan

    by polecat on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 08:34:17 AM PDT

  •  I read yesterday in solar (4+ / 0-)

    that America has installed enough solar panels that we have twice as much as we had 2 years ago .

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

    by indycam on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 08:36:52 AM PDT

  •  Obama Administration Releases Roadmap for Solar (9+ / 0-)
    Clean Alternative Energy Development on Public Lands
    July 24, 2012 - As part of President Obama’s all-of-the-above energy strategy, the Department of the Interior, in partnership with the Department of Energy, will publish the Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) for solar energy development in six southwestern states—Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah. The final Solar PEIS represents a major step forward in the permitting of utility-scale solar energy on public lands throughout the west.

    Today’s announcement builds on the historic progress made in fostering renewable energy development on public lands. When President Obama took office, there were no solar projects permitted on public lands; since 2009, Interior has approved 17 utility-scale solar energy projects that, when built, will produce nearly 5,900 megawatts of energy—enough to power approximately 1.8 million American homes. Thanks to steps already taken by this administration, renewable energy from sources like wind and solar have doubled since the President took office.

    The Solar PEIS will serve as a roadmap for solar energy development by establishing solar energy zones with access to existing or planned transmission, the fewest resource conflicts and incentives for development within those zones. The blueprint’s comprehensive analysis will make for faster, better permitting of large-scale solar projects on public lands.  read more>>>

    Obama Administration Releases Roadmap for Solar : Executive Summary
    The released: Final Solar Energy Development Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (Solar PEIS)

    Vets On FLOTUS and SLOTUS, "Best - Ever": "We haven't had this kind of visibility from the White House—ever." Joyce Raezer - Dec. 30, 2011

    by jimstaro on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 08:42:49 AM PDT

  •  Putting Small Solar Power Devices Into The (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Odysseus, semiot

    hands of American might help Americans understand that solar is practical.

    When I've briefly looked for websites that have small devices, the sites become very technical and nerdish and it's no wonder Americans have no interest.

    Each time I see these reports about how great solar is, I can only sigh and wonder why have I seen these reports for 30 years, yet none of it comes to fruition.

    The Solar Idea must the worst marketed idea in history.

    It has been made into a joke.

    The Republican Party is Simply a Coalition of Greed and Hate

    by kerplunk on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 08:42:56 AM PDT

    •  yep, those pocket nukes I own (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      are very simple and easy to understand. Their manuals are great and the marketing is fantastic.

      Kiss my ass. This is a Holy Site...

      by jam on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 09:06:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Blocked (3+ / 0-)

      By simplistic meme's, the only kind they can come up with and the easy conned american public buys into it like easy credit no problems trickle down!!

      Been blocked by same for some forty years, thankfully there are a few hardy souls that kept going here but alas our trades are now elsewhere and the young pushed away from learning, many not so young anymore!

      Vets On FLOTUS and SLOTUS, "Best - Ever": "We haven't had this kind of visibility from the White House—ever." Joyce Raezer - Dec. 30, 2011

      by jimstaro on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 09:40:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  30 Years (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      radical simplicity, adrianrf, Sandino

      If you think the last few years of solar marketing and installation is anything like the previous 25, you don't know anything about it. US solar has multiplied every year recently. The marketing is based on payback times under 10 years (10%+ ROI, for 30-50 years), not on "nerdy" websites.

      You should base your opinion on more than your admittedly brief web surfing. But this is a web discussion, so why would you bother?

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

      by DocGonzo on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 10:04:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Worse than that... (7+ / 0-)

    I work with a rather extreme bunch of wingnuts.

    One of them is a bit of a redneck, and has been explaining to me that we actually live in a John Wayne movie, and if he had been at that movie theater he would have pulled out his gun and shot the guy who shot up Aurora, Arhnold-style, 1 shot 1 kill.  Because that's totally how the real world works.

    "And isn't it odd that these things only happen on a Democratic administration?  I'm not sayin' he was a paid operative by Obama, I'm just sayin it's interestin' to think about."

    The other is a conspiracy theorist of... insane proportions.

    For example, Karl Marx apparently was hired by the League of Nations to write their manifesto so they could destroy the United States and create a 1 world government.  Oh, and Atlantis sunk into the sea after Venus (which is actually a comet) hit it with space lightning.

    I'm talking these people are so far in the bubble that they brew their own kool-aid.  They're not too bad individually, they're actually both pretty nice guys as long as they're not bouncing ideas off each other.  But get them together and they just harmonize...

    We touched, briefly, on solar power in one of our recent debates on this stuff.  (Mostly of a "ha ha, I heard Obama put money into Solar and it collapsed, Thars' yer government jobs" style "discussion".)

    The consensus?  It doesn't matter if it's better for the US, it doesn't matter if it makes jobs for Americans, it doesn't matter if it'll prevent another war for Oil.

    The fact that Democrats and Obama are pushing for Green Energy is enough to do everything in their power to prevent it.  

    Nothing else matters to these people.  They are stuck in "Pro Wrestlin' Politics" mode -- everything is a life or death struggle against the evil Ultra-bama and his legion of death or what have you.

    There's no discourse, no debate.  Obama, Liberals, Progressives (which, according to them, is a codeword for "Nazi Socialist Fascist"), are "evil" and Repbulicans are "good" and that's literally the only thing they need to know.

    That is the kind of weapons grade stupidity we are up against.  We're not just Americans who have a different opinion on the role of government.  To these people We're "evil Nazis who are trying to destroy America for Karl Marx and his United Nations cult."

  •  There is hope! (6+ / 0-)

    Maybe we can beat global warming.

    Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

    by Shockwave on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 09:06:39 AM PDT

  •  There was a great article recently (10+ / 0-)

    about the South Pacific Island of Tokelau transitioning to a power system that will be 100% Solar. The island nation’s diesel generators are being replaced with 4032 solar panels which will help them avoid the use of 2000 barrels of oil annually.

    It takes time to practice generosity, but being generous is the best use of our time. - Thich Nhat Hanh.

    by Frank In WA on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 09:25:46 AM PDT

  •  Thanks Lawrence (3+ / 0-)

    Great catch. I hope this will get a lot of traction. So much in the shift towards renewables is about perception, and once people can see that it saves not only energy but money the tide will be turning.

  •  Geothermal for Victory (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    radical simplicity

    That chart shows that enhanced geothermal power can supply over 31K TWh annually, about 8x the US power consumption. These plants are baseload, 24x7/365 constant power. That makes them replacements for nuke, coal, gas and oil power plants. That they are mostly the same machinery (turbines, generators, transmission lines) as those large electric plants makes them excellent replacements. That they can be built in a few years makes them perfect replacements, especially for nukes.

    Indeed, the many nukes built perilously near earthquake faults and other seismic features are ideal candidates for replacement with safe geothermal plants. Indeed the decomissioning of the contaminated nuke plant can be powered over the decades it takes by the new power from the geothermal plant, which will typically supply lots of steady extra power during offpeak times.

    Solar is great, as is wind, and plenty of other sustainable generation from energy currently wasted. But it's not baseload, and mostly not suited to very high power densities required by some industries (eg. aluminum smelting).

    If we spent $200B on geothermal plants starting now, by the next presidential election the US could be entirely free of filthy coal and imported oil and gas. And have at least 2 points extra employment, and over 5% of our employable population ushered into American leadership in green energy industries, a global advantage for the rest of the century and beyond.

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

    by DocGonzo on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 09:47:21 AM PDT

    •  Doc, I worked at PG&E Geysers on a rotation. (0+ / 0-)

      They are amazing. However, just because you have this map which shows geothermal hot rocks doesn't mean we can get steam from them.

      You'd think industry, utilities, etc would be jumping all over themselves for this opportunity. They are not. The reason for this is 95% of all existing baseload geothermal generation comes from "fossil" steam packs where re-injection of condensed turbine water may...or may not, add to the steam pack.

      If you have hot rock access you have to build some infrastructure to get the water there, build power lines, and be sure that in fact you can get that steam out at enough high pressure to run an expensive steam turbine/generator set.

      This is what has held back geothermal, which, if it was as available as the article suggest, would of ended this discussion, with nuclear, solar and wind, not to mention coal, natural gas and even hydro, decommissioned antiquated industries.

      Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

      by davidwalters on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 09:58:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Existing vs Infrastructure (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        We will of course need new infrastructure to exploit geothermal. The existing geothermal is basically a prototype for the industry, as Niagara hydropower was for the world's AC power generation and grids.

        What any map shows is a thin 100 mile thick skin over a 4000 mile thick molten planet. The West is covered with tectonic features bringing hot rock close to the surface, but the whole country offers some geothermal resources. We routinely now drill 3 miles through sea floor, below 2 miles of sea, for oil and gas. Meanwhile heat engines become ever more efficient, including discovery that liquid CO2 doubles the working fluid performance (and can be sequestered from GHG reduction). While we're building the easiest, most performant geothermal plants we can invest the savings and power into making the next generation exploit the less reachable resources. Just like in any engineering industry.

        What has held back geothermal is the already rigged game favoring coal, gas and nukes. The energy cartels don't want new opportunities for competition, especially from baseload tech. Even if the same corporate people would own the new, cleaner plants.

        If rationality governed, instead of arrogant incumbency, the sexagenarians calling our energy shots now would have helped invest in solar when they got their corporate board seats decades ago, and they wouldn't be starting their retirements now in the face of terrifying evidence that their grandchildren and all they built are threatened by all they built.

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

        by DocGonzo on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 10:18:01 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  DEocGonzo, there is no 'rigging' against (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          radical simplicity, KenBee

          geothermal. It's 100% technology related. As I noted, I am all for it. it's not just about drilling, which costs millions of dollars, it the ability to use the energy that is already in 'heat' form to run baseload plants. It's a HUGE investment and each bore hole that ends up even having hot rocks at the bottom, has to be tested for pressure validity so that the steam that is created from the water injected into it wont simply leak out in the rock.

          You are also wrong on whose interested in it. The plant I worked at, the biggest geothermal site in the world, was invested by PG&E because it was obvious the 'free' energy could be had (there is a hazardous waste issue having to do with cleaning the steam but it's managed).

          the vast number of bore holes sunk in Nevada, a prime geothermal areas due to the thinner crush over the magma, have turned up virtually nothing in terms of usable steam. I wish it were not so, but where there is money to be made, the capitalists who are only interested in profit, would try to profit from it.


          Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

          by davidwalters on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 11:13:02 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Rigging (0+ / 0-)

            Geothermal costs less, takes less time to market, is far less risky, and creates vastly less pollution byproducts than a coal, nukes or even gas plant for its power and energy output. The rate of "dry holes" for nukes vs oil also favors geothermal, even though both types have them. Though oil has had its extraction tech subsidized so much for so long that geothermal innovation is just in the Model T days.

            The game is rigged in favor of those competitors by subsidizing costs and risks at every turn. The corporations are run by lazy people for whom incumbency and its guaranteed advantages are the main attraction in any business deal.

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

            by DocGonzo on Thu Aug 02, 2012 at 05:07:07 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  This study confirms what other studies have (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    radical simplicity

    There is far and away more potential energy available via renewable energy sources than fossil fuel resources.  Studies like this one from NREL have piled up in the past 25 years - the information only gets more accurate (and encouraging) with each new release.

    So why aren't we swimming in renewable-generated electrons?

    I think it's largely because renewable activists have gone about promoting the technologies in massively inefficient ways.  The political will has existed in the general public for decades, so that isn't the real problem.  An easy excuse is money and lobbying, but those are generic identifiers.  Activists have been too slow to evolve their policy strategies and have spent too much time demonizing others instead of identifying ways to work with people/groups who on the surface might disagree with the primary stated reasons to deploy renewable technologies.

    Behind that, the relative lack of innovation in this sphere has hurt the overall goals of pro-renewable folks.  This ties somewhat into the first reason identified above, but stands by itself for the most part.

    The report is another piece of good news.  But its existence won't matter if we don't figure out what to do about it in the long-term.

    •  THE Reason (0+ / 0-)

      ...that we have not adopted renewable energy is COST.  The low cost of producing electricity in large centralised generating stations is truly amazing.  IF we could "fill up" our tanks with electricity it would cost about $1 per gallon (equivalent) for electrical energy.  That is an amazingly low number.

      Renewable enegy is much more labor intensive.  If the cost of that labor is nothing (you do the maintenance yourself in what would otherwise be unproductive time) then the cost can be reasonable. But if you look at the maintenance cost of 400 windmills to replace one large nuclear power plant, you discover that the cost of the wind power is very large.  It's all a matter of labor cost per unit of electrical production and the large plants (nuclear and coal, and gas) all present huge advantages that solar and wind cannot match.

      We need to be ready to pay a lot more for electricity that is generated by renewable resources.  In a macro-economic sense it literally means we need a lower standard of living.  A larger fraction of our workforce would need to be dedicated to producing energy (via renewables) thus leading to fewer people available to produce other things.  Are we prepared for that?  

      We aren't.  We are so accustomed to cheap energy that it is going to be a rude shock when energy suddenly dominates everyone's budgets.  For a hundred years we have been learning to reduce labor by consuming a little more energy, therefore becoming more efficient.  That is going to have to be reversed for the next hundred years, and that is going to be painful for us.  The sooner we start, the better.

      The Republicans are begging for more rope. Give it to them!!!

      by nuketeacher on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 12:24:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for the diary. (4+ / 0-)
  •  He doesn't talk about shale (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CJnyc, DawnN, means are the ends

    Nice speech and I agree with him for the most part.  My problem is he neglects to speak about the huge untapped potential of the so-called unconventional sources of fossil fuels.  They are a game changer and if the oil and gas companies have there way these new sources of fossil energy will be powering the world for the next 100-200 years.  This is the route we are going rather than the renewable one I fear.  

    These new sources (Canadian Tar Sands,- Oil and Gas Shales, etc,etc) are going to shift the production of the worlds energy to our hemisphere (at least this is the plan). The  potential damage to the health of the planet is terrifying.  Many countries are planning on stepping up production of these unconventional sources.  

  •  New related Post (5+ / 0-)

    "We don't need someone who can think. We need someone with enough digits to hold a pen." ~ Grover Norquist

    by Lefty Coaster on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 10:32:12 AM PDT

  •  Yes, but... (6+ / 0-)

    The numbers are great but they again expose the bias of policy-makers in favor of centralized systems.
    The prime asset of solar-electric and other renewable sources is their diffuse nature. It's also a national security asset because, like the internet, decentralized power sources are immune to system-crash. Look at India today!
    As the cost of photovoltaics continues to decline, they can become simply a new kind of roofing material for all those homes you see with south-facing roofs whenever your plane comes in for a landing in any of our major cities. Generating the power near the consumer also greatly reduces the transmission losses which are considerable.
    Combined with efficiency improvements and smart-grid load management strategies, we must provide incentives for capital reallocation so that We the People can become our own energy suppliers.
    Republicans will call it communism (which collapsed 20 years ago) but I called it good old American ingenuity.

  •  When is it going to become obvious to everyone (0+ / 0-)

    that the leadership of the Republican Party is simply guilty of out and out Treason against the United States.

    These guys should simply be arrested, locked up and held incommunicado until they die out by natural causes but they should not be allowed to roam the earth and spout their greedy madness to the detriment of the country.

  •  Parking lots (4+ / 0-)

    When I park at the mall in the hot Sacramento summer my car is always blistering when I get back.  If they had covered parking, with solar panels on them, my car could be parked in the shade and the mall could generate some electricity.  The customers would like it and the mall might save some on their electric bills.

    Can't we just drown Grover Norquist in a bathtub?

    by Rezkalla on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 03:36:51 PM PDT

  •  So if you cover all the land in the country with (0+ / 0-)

    solar panels (at probably very high cost) you will generate a lot of energy. Nice to see it calculated but I guess we already knew that. That's not the real problem.

    •  That's not what the study says (0+ / 0-)

      ... but thanks for playing.

    •  I don't understand why you would make this (0+ / 0-)


      a.  that's not what the study says.

      b.  did you read the diary?

      From the diary:

      The study is even conservative in its estimates.  For example, an efficiency rating of 13.5% was used for rooftop solar panels while a 20% efficiency rating is rapidly becoming the new normal with solar pv panels.  In five to ten years, a 25% efficiency rating will probably be the new normal, which means that rooftop solar pv alone could cover nearly half our current electricity needs.  In regards to urban utility scale solar, parking lots were excluded despite them having some of the greatest potential for urban solar power generation.  So, not only is the solar power potential likely even more than 100 times our current electricity generation, it seems clear that rooftop solar and urban utility solar alone could provide us with all our electricity needs.

      "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

      by Lawrence on Wed Aug 01, 2012 at 12:56:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Don't know if there's anyone left to (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Larsstephens, Lawrence

    read this, but...

    I just installed solar on my home, which was built around 1979 and intended to ultimately have solar on the roof.  It's a true passive solar house, the roof is fully exposed at the optimal angle to the sun.

    Time was solar would take 30 years to recoup the investment.  Now, with rebates, I laid out a painful but modest amount of money, and my return on investment is a mere 4.1 years.

    The panels are guaranteed for thirty (30!) years, and require no maintenance as long as they're set a more than a 5o pitch.

    I can watch my meter spinning backward on sunny days, or just call up the computer page that shows my roof and each individual panel (which can be brought up individually, too) and watch the watts pile up as the sun rises 'til it sets.

    It's a lovely feeling.  And in a mere eight days of recorded output -- the panels have been up longer, but the system's only been on line that long and so the full measurement isn't possible -- many of which were heavily overcast or downright stormy -- I've produced 420kW (or enough to power 14 houses for a day, and offset 638 lbs of carbon, as much as seven trees would give off.

    I'm one happy camper.

    Thanks for the piece, Lawrence.  Great information and great news.

    "Throwing a knuckleball for a strike is like throwing a butterfly with hiccups across the street into your neighbor's mailbox." -- Willie Stargell

    by Yasuragi on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 05:05:09 PM PDT

    •  I'm still reading. :) (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      More power to ya for taking the initiative and doing the right thing.

      With small scale solar, the best type of promotion for it is having people install it, imo.

      Once neighbors see it up and working on other people's rooves, they often also get the itch and have it installed themselves.

      "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

      by Lawrence on Wed Aug 01, 2012 at 12:43:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I've been asked by many of my neighbors -- (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        although my southern roof isn't visible from the road.  But those who saw the trucks here during the time it was being installed asked, and others I've mentioned it to have been very excited by the cost-effectiveness of it.

        It's interesting that the company showed me a chart of reasons people go solar.  High up on the list were things like "beating the power authority out of money" and "cutting my power bills."  My reason was all the way down at the bottom: to offset my carbon output.  I can't help but think that if we could get more people to see the necessity of that "last" option, and grasp the urgency of it, we'd see a lot more solar going up.

        Meanwhile, I've become a solar evangelist.  :)

        "Throwing a knuckleball for a strike is like throwing a butterfly with hiccups across the street into your neighbor's mailbox." -- Willie Stargell

        by Yasuragi on Wed Aug 01, 2012 at 08:07:06 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  This disinformation doesn't help Green Energy (0+ / 0-)

    Let's crunch the numbers, to see how unrealistic they are.

    On page 11, they assume that the rural photovoltaics will cover over 3 million square kilometers of the US; this is over 30% of the US landmass.

    One square meter of photovoltaics weighs 15Kg.

    A square kilometer of area has 10^6 square meters, so a square kilometer of photovoltaics would weigh 1.5 x 10^7 Kg or 15 Kilotonnes.

    Mutliply this by 3 x 10^6 square kilometers and you have 4.5 x 10^13 Kgs of photovoltaics...or 45 Gigatonnes of photovoltaics.

    Divide this by the number of Americans (3 x 10^8) and you have 1.5 x 10^ 5 Kgs or 150 tonnes of photovoltaics for every American.

    The production of just plain old urban waste, per American, is 760 Kgs/year...or 1.5 tonnes biennially. This means it would take 100 years for the American people to produce a mass of garbage that has the same weight as the rural photovoltaics envisioned in this report.

    Those rural photovoltaics only account for 56% of the 400 TWh cited in NREL study.

    This NREL "study" is unrealistic and unscientific nonsense: it is essentially disinformation. That's why I'm HRing the diary's tip jar.

    This Space for Rent. Expressions of interest from SuperPACs should be submitted in the form of a reply to one of my comments.

    by xynz on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 06:28:42 PM PDT

    •  Your Hr is totally out of line. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sandino, jam

      You can disagree with an NREL study all you want, but hr'ing the tip jar is utterly uncalled for.  You should remove that HR.

      The NREL study projects theoretical potential.  It's pretty obvious to anyone with half a brain that we don't need 100 times our current electricity production.

      If covering around 40% of our landmass would get us 100 times what we need, then covering 0.4% will get us what we currently need.  As I stated in comments above, that 0.4% wouldn't even require using much unused land:

      Solar power doesn't require a significant portion of planetary real estate anymore.  An area about quarter the size of Nevada would probably do the trick.  And if you consider that many of those areas will be rooftops, brownfields, etc., not much real estate is required, at all.

      "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

      by Lawrence on Wed Aug 01, 2012 at 12:40:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The HR is completely in line with site guidelines. (0+ / 0-)

        The title of the diary is:

        Solar Power could provide 100 Times the Amount of Current US Electricity Needs!
        No. Solar Power can't "provide 100 Times the Amount of Current US Electricity Needs". Claiming otherwise is disinformation and richly deserves an HR.

        This Space for Rent. Expressions of interest from SuperPACs should be submitted in the form of a reply to one of my comments.

        by xynz on Wed Aug 01, 2012 at 08:06:58 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'll just repeat once more, and then I'm done: (0+ / 0-)

          According to the NREL study, solar power could provide that much electricity.

          You dropping an HR on a diary because you disagree with a linked study by the NREL is one of the most ludicrous cases of HR abuse that I have ever seen on DailyKos.

          You should remove that HR.

          "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

          by Lawrence on Wed Aug 01, 2012 at 10:44:35 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Ok, as long as we can (0+ / 0-)

            ..... ignore practical limitations. If we can ignore the economic and industrial costs of actual implementation (no matter how ridiculously impractical they are), then considering what is possible when constrained only by the limits of the physical space available...

            ...the study vastly under-estimates the potential for solar power. A Dyson Sphere with a radius just outside the Earth's orbit could theoretically provide staggering amounts of electricity from photovoltaics.

            Assume the sphere has a radius of 1.5x10^8 kilometers. Then it has an area slightly more than 7x10^16 square kilometers. This area is over 22 billion times the size of the 3.186 million square mile rural grid proposed in the NREL report. Of course, at any given time, part of the sphere will be covered by the Earth's shadow; but this is only 40 times the rural grid estimate used in the NREL paper.

            Since the rural grid only supplies about 60%* of the total technically possible electrical power, then the theoretical Dyson Sphere can supply about 1.32 quadrillion times the Amount of Current US Electricity needed.

            Based only on what is technically possible, without considering economic or industrial limitations, then the Dyson Sphere argument is quadrillions of times more effective than the NREL argument.

            *(cf: pg 20)

            Dyson Sphere Technical Reports:

            From the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society:

            Life  in  the  Cosmological  Future: Resources,  Biomass  and  Populations [PDF]

            From the Astrobiology Science Conference 2010:


            This Space for Rent. Expressions of interest from SuperPACs should be submitted in the form of a reply to one of my comments.

            by xynz on Wed Aug 01, 2012 at 03:52:02 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  I should HR you (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      For your lies and misinformation but since it stems from complete ignorance and not from, I don't think, anything malicious, I won't. Read the fucking study. The words, not just the numbers. Think about what they are saying critically. And then, if you still stand by your above nonsense, I will give you the HR you so richly deserve.

      Kiss my ass. This is a Holy Site...

      by jam on Wed Aug 01, 2012 at 05:34:50 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Read the fucking title of the diary (0+ / 0-)
        Solar Power could provide 100 Times the Amount of Current US Electricity Needs!
        No. Solar Power can't "provide 100 Times the Amount of Current US Electricity Needs"; it is disinformation.

        This Space for Rent. Expressions of interest from SuperPACs should be submitted in the form of a reply to one of my comments.

        by xynz on Wed Aug 01, 2012 at 08:05:19 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Home Solar - HELP!! (0+ / 0-)

    I'm researching a solar power addition to our home.  Maybe cut the power bill in half and, most importantly, give us a battery back up system for when the power goes out (5x this year).

    But I'm becoming really frustrated at all of the solar power websites, which are all cookie-cutter bullshit sites that require me to enter my address and phone number just to get some simple information.

    It's as if some marketing shlub somewhere found that 95% of consumers went with the first company they had contact with, and so their goal is simply to make sure they get your info.

    What I NEED is information... case studies... options.

    Can anyone recommend a site like that?

    Yeah, that's the ticket, I retired retroactively.

    by bondibox on Wed Aug 01, 2012 at 08:23:21 AM PDT

    •  jam could probably give you better advice on (0+ / 0-)

      this than I could.

      All I can really say is that you should get a free quote from at least two of your local solar installers.  It shouldn't cost you a thing, but it'll give you a much better idea of things.

      "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

      by Lawrence on Wed Aug 01, 2012 at 04:59:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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