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Green Power Breaks Records in the West

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Mydesign
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Natural Resources
Mydesign   5/10/2013 6:19:04 AM
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"This spring, the state's wind power is setting energy generation records and solar energy generation is expected to rise sharply during the second half of 2013. Arizona has also set records in energy generated from solar power. If past trends are any indication, this may be a hint of the future in other parts of the US."

Ann, that's good news and there is no doubt that natural resources are going to be the only source in future for power generation.



Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Natural Resources
Ann R. Thryft   5/10/2013 1:00:28 PM
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Mydesign, many people would agree with you. However, those making profits in the oil & gas industry are fighting back and trying to overturn state-level Renewable Portfolio Standards, and in some cases, have succeeded:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/heather-taylormiesle/the-bullies-are-bringing_b_2791970.html



Cabe Atwell
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Re: Natural Resources
Cabe Atwell   5/10/2013 5:35:37 PM
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To pay back the cost of solar or renewables, take around 10 years. This is a great effort. But the ROI is slow.

C

patb2009
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Re: Natural Resources
patb2009   5/10/2013 8:41:46 PM
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if the payback were that long, 

the investment wouldn't be that large.

 

Mydesign
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Re: Natural Resources
Mydesign   5/15/2013 12:14:52 AM
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Path2009, the ROI can be covered in 6th year, if maintenance (battery) is null. Otherwise, it may take 7-9 years. For my home system, I got the break even in 6th year.

patb2009
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Re: Natural Resources
patb2009   5/15/2013 10:09:03 AM
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MyD

great thing as cell costs continue dropping, the ROI gets shorter and shorter.

I believe that as the ROI gets below 3 years, the investment will pick up and as it goes

under a year, the demand will be Hyperbolic.

 

 

Mydesign
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Re: Natural Resources
Mydesign   5/17/2013 3:30:18 AM
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"great thing as cell costs continue dropping, the ROI gets shorter and shorter. I believe that as the ROI gets below 3 years, the investment will pick up and as it goes under a year, the demand will be Hyperbolic."

Path2009, actually panel cell cost is fine because it's a onetime investment. From user point of view power storage is bit concerned because of high cost and need of replacement in every 3-5 years.

patb2009
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Re: Natural Resources
patb2009   5/17/2013 11:33:22 AM
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Price point matters.  When Cell Phones cost $10,000 only very rich people had them, when they fell below $1000  a lot more people got them, and when they figured out ways to make them for a hundred or so, the market exploded into the billions.

When computers cost millions, big institutions had them. When they cost 10K, well off people and businesses had them. When they cost $1K, everyone had them. Now a netbook is a few hundred bucks and are almost disposable assets.

 

if a rooftop solar array costs $50K, it's a deterrence, no matter how good the economic story.  When they cost $20K, well, it's that or a car.  When they cost $5K, well, it's not

much of an issue at all and the install rate will explode.

Mydesign
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Re: Natural Resources
Mydesign   5/23/2013 12:43:39 AM
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"Price point matters."

Path2009, you are right and pricing matters very much in terms of affordability. I think with mobile you had done a wrong comparison. By spending $10,000 for a mobile what's your ROI, I personally feels nothing. But for a solar energy system from day one on onwards you are getting returns in terms of power generation and monthly electricity bill.



patb2009
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Re: Natural Resources
patb2009   5/23/2013 10:18:43 AM
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MyDesign

 

While you may not have an ROI on a cell phone, I do.

1) I rarely use a desk phone now. Many of the younger kids don't have wire lines at all.a cell plan is only marginally more expensive then a wire line. In Europe they don't install wirelines, they do mostly cell.  

2) The ROI on a cell phone is increased productivity.  I can go meet people at the airport or festivals, and not worry about how to find them. Last night i was picking up a package, i called the vendor when i was half an hour out, and when i was 2 minutes out, they had it wrapped up and met me at the curb.

 

Really awesome.

 

You look at real estate agents, cable TV installers, any sort of field worker, they no longer are out of comms.

 

truckers live off of these. Delivery workers,  field techs, utility workers,  

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0tITErSN_NY

 

 

Mydesign
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Re: Natural Resources
Mydesign   5/24/2013 3:43:49 AM
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Pathb2009, thanks for the clarification.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Natural Resources
Ann R. Thryft   5/17/2013 12:27:23 PM
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PV panel costs have been dropping rapidly as China has increased its use in huge quantities. That's good news, but because China also produces the majority of PV solar capacity, it's also been accused of dumping by the EU: http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/eu-to-hit-100-china-solar-panel-makers-with-anti-dumping-tariffs

Totally_Lost
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Re: Natural Resources
Totally_Lost   5/17/2013 7:30:32 PM
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Ann writes: "That's good news, but because China also produces the majority of PV solar capacity, it's also been accused of dumping by the EU"

The whole balance of trade problem with China under cutting both Solar and Wind, to the point of driving both US and EU mfgr's out of business has long term implications that prices will rise significantly as western economies force a balance of trade solution. First with stiff tarrifs, then with currency balancing that allows trade import/exports to balance.


So the near term might be the lowest prices ... and a good time to buy. Because the dumping windfall will get corrected one way or the other, most likely with currency parity, which will raise the price of all China made goods by something around 15-50% to stop the balance of trade problems. The import/export ratio can not stay in the 3:1 to 4:1 range much longer.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balance_of_trade


http://useconomy.about.com/od/tradepolicy/p/us-china-trade.htm


http://www.epi.org/publication/bp345-china-growing-trade-deficit-cost/


Mydesign
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Re: Natural Resources
Mydesign   5/23/2013 12:47:26 AM
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"PV panel costs have been dropping rapidly as China has increased its use in huge quantities. That's good news, but because China also produces the majority of PV solar capacity, it's also been accused of dumping by the EU:"

Ann, I had done a comparative market study with Chinese PV Panels and competitors, before installing a solar system in my house. They are cheap, but quality is very low and won't last more than 3-4 years. So I thought it's better to go for a long lasting (durable) component.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Natural Resources
Ann R. Thryft   5/23/2013 11:57:42 AM
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Mydesign, that sounds like you made a smart ROI comparison. I try to use the same strategy--buy the more (but not most) expensive alternative for a better cost/performance ratio. My comment had to do with market forces affecting production and prices: regardless of the quality of Chinese solar panels, the fact that they've raised the volume dramatically means the costs of their components have come down, which makes it possible for panel makers everywhere to produce them more cheaply, regardless of quality.

Mydesign
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Re: Natural Resources
Mydesign   5/24/2013 3:50:48 AM
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Ann, it's easy to get a ROI in short period with Chinese made components, but durability will be very less and hence we have to replace the damaged components frequently. At the same time a qualified grade component can yield the same ROI by extending another 2-3 year of operation.

patb2009
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Re: Natural Resources
patb2009   5/24/2013 12:04:46 PM
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MyDesign

 

Even if cheaper quality gear gives a lower ROI, it will still move the market because the price point influences buyers so strongly.

 

When a computer cost 10 million it was a huge decision, people just went crazy in the budgeting process, despite the clear value to the organization.

When a computer cost 10 Grand, it needed a lot of thought, because it was still a heavyweight purchase.

 

when a computer cost 1 grand, people didn't worry so much, even though PCs were made with cheap components and would oftentimes die after 2 years, people didn't care.

 

 

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Natural Resources
Ann R. Thryft   5/24/2013 12:21:31 PM
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patb2009 is right, in the sense that cheaper products "make" us want to buy more of them. But that's because we've been "educated"--some might use a different word--to believe that the most important thing is price. Some of us remember the days when consumers considered quality, not price, the most important. Interestingly, the engineer readers we talked to in the Design News Materials Survey last fall agree: price comes sixth after quality, performance, reliability, delivery and previous experience with a vendor: http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1392&doc_id=252670 Now, if consumers thought more like materials buyers, perhaps higher quality products would sell better.

patb2009
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Re: Natural Resources
patb2009   5/24/2013 1:08:10 PM
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the good thing is that low price points build the pyramids base.

Compare cars, there are lots of entry level cars, there are always bottom dollar

tin boxes and there are luxury performance status cars.

It's a lot better for the BMW, Corvettes, Cadillacs, Mercedes, Lexus,,,

if you have Hyundai, Camry, Chevy, Ford out there building parts,

dealers, gas stations, specialty shops, etc...

Rolls Royce needs that mass market building highways, roadside restaurants, motels,,,

 

the PV market needs the cheapo units to drive adoption, to drive regulation, to drive

acceptance, and the top third will always buy quality and benefit from FITs, dealer networks, etc.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Natural Resources
Ann R. Thryft   5/28/2013 11:49:04 AM
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patb2009, thanks for that analogy with cars, I think it's a good one.

Mydesign
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Re: Natural Resources
Mydesign   5/28/2013 5:00:38 AM
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Patb2009, there is no doubt that pricing can influence market and sales. But obliviously a certain percentage of customers are always looking for quality products, irrespective of price.



Cabe Atwell
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Re: Natural Resources
Cabe Atwell   5/30/2013 12:32:34 AM
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Mydesign,

After the 6 year wait period, how much longer will those panels function? Will maintenance be costly to a point where the only option is to junk the panel? Keep in mind, after 6 years or a decade, parts may be impossible to come by. If you bought a panel from USA based Solyndra or Flebeg Solar U.S. Corp, you are out of luck. They both went bankrupt.

I would like to know if solar is useful or not. I will have to do some research... (I'll make a post too)

C

Mydesign
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Re: Natural Resources
Mydesign   5/31/2013 3:59:01 AM
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"After the 6 year wait period, how much longer will those panels function? Will maintenance be costly to a point where the only option is to junk the panel? Keep in mind, after 6 years or a decade, parts may be impossible to come by"

Cabe, what I understood is under normal situation, panels can function well up to 20 years. But the tubular battery has to be replacing once in 5 years and other electronics parts like UPS/Inverter functionality cannot be predictable.

Cabe Atwell
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Re: Natural Resources
Cabe Atwell   6/10/2013 7:44:23 PM
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Mydesign,

Those USA companies were killed due to China prices.

Perhaps, if the panels are cheap enough from China... then the ROI will be short. And the world will benefit.

However, ROI has to factor in the energy used to produce the panel.

C

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Natural Resources
Ann R. Thryft   6/11/2013 3:04:29 PM
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Stay tuned, Cabe. I'm working on a blog about China's solar panels, price consequences, etc.

Cabe Atwell
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Re: Natural Resources
Cabe Atwell   6/11/2013 4:13:56 PM
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I am looking forward to your findings.

C

Mydesign
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Re: Natural Resources
Mydesign   6/13/2013 4:37:53 AM
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Ann, please. We are eager to know about your findings.

Mydesign
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Re: Natural Resources
Mydesign   6/13/2013 4:40:04 AM
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"Those USA companies were killed due to China prices. Perhaps, if the panels are cheap enough from China... then the ROI will be short. And the world will benefit."

Cabe, when we compare Chinese and rest of the world products in terms of price and quality, always china is out of the list. They cannot make quality products at a dam cheap price.



Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Natural Resources
Ann R. Thryft   6/13/2013 12:32:18 PM
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Mydesign, some Chinese manufacturers do make quality products. There are many of these products in the US. There are also many cheaply made, poorly made products that don't last or even work right. A similar range of quality used to exist in the US, before most of our manufacturing went to China. The difference depends at least partly on what the US-based/global company requires of those manufacturers. I have noticed that the low end of "cheaply made/doesn't work right" products has dropped even lower since we offshored so much manufacturing. I think part of the problem is also because consumers, at least here in the US, have been taught that cheap is good and cheapest is best.

Mydesign
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Re: Natural Resources
Mydesign   6/17/2013 11:31:31 PM
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"I think part of the problem is also because consumers, at least here in the US, have been taught that cheap is good and cheapest is best."

Ann, that's there everywhere. Those who are going behind such cheap goods have only some short term goals.  But for long term goals, only quality products can sustain and have better yield.



Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Natural Resources
Ann R. Thryft   6/18/2013 12:14:45 PM
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I agree that for consumer or commercial buyers, higher quality is better. And I was afraid you'd say that, Mydesign--that the "cheapest is best" philosophy is so widespread. Apparently, from the manufacturer's/seller's standpoint it makes for higher profits.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Natural Resources
Ann R. Thryft   5/15/2013 1:57:50 PM
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Thanks for sharing your personal experience, Mydesign. That's good to know.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Natural Resources
Ann R. Thryft   5/15/2013 2:03:36 PM
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Interestingly, rooftop solar has been so successful that some utilities are starting to complain about net metering and either lower the value of the credits or do away with it entirely:

http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/solar-smackdown-utilities-take-on-rooftops

http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/Republicans-Revolt-As-Arizonas-Utility-Proposes-Cut-In-Solar-Programs

Mydesign
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Re: Natural Resources
Mydesign   5/15/2013 12:04:52 AM
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"To pay back the cost of solar or renewables, take around 10 years. This is a great effort. But the ROI is slow"

Cabe, I had installed a small solar based inverter for my home and at the 07th year I got the break even. I mean my investment and maintenance cost got covered.

Cabe Atwell
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Re: Natural Resources
Cabe Atwell   5/17/2013 3:42:22 PM
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Mydesign,

Even though your ROI was 7 years, it is still a terrible timeframe. Even 6 years.

In 6 years, the current solar tech will look and operate so dated. Eventually, there will be a solar tech that is cheap and a high efficiency. Somewhere, a team is working on it I am sure. If only we could get them some added funding.

C

Mydesign
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Re: Natural Resources
Mydesign   5/22/2013 11:53:40 PM
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"In 6 years, the current solar tech will look and operate so dated. Eventually, there will be a solar tech that is cheap and a high efficiency. Somewhere, a team is working on it I am sure. If only we could get them some added funding."

Cab, I can agree to you up to an extent.  For a better technology we cannot wait for a long time, so with the available technology, I think 6 years a fair enough time frame.

Totally_Lost
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Re: Natural Resources
Totally_Lost   5/11/2013 9:57:34 AM
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I like the "import" class, and where did coal and gas go? Then put this into perspective http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_power_stations_in_California

And then realize there are also days like this (no storage): http://content.caiso.com/green/renewrpt/20130104_DailyRenewablesWatch.pdf

It's likely political pressure will shutdown Diablo sometime soon, as the special interests important in election cycles demand payback.

With fewer coal and gas plants to pickup the peak production during the long hot summer, expect rolling blackouts again if hydro becomes scarce with a dry year.

It will not take an Enron next time, with base generation being scaled back, and demands continue to grow with population growth.

patb2009
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Re: Natural Resources
patb2009   5/12/2013 12:10:43 AM
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and there are days like this

http://content.caiso.com/green/renewrpt/20120704_DailyRenewablesWatch.pdf

it's about 12 percent coming from  renewables,  

at the rate of growth, in the summer you may see that go to 33% and then 50% in a hot peak day.

 

Somewhat like how Germany is at 25% nowadays, all the time.

 

Totally_Lost
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Re: Natural Resources
Totally_Lost   5/12/2013 8:06:06 PM
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Until the storage problem is fixed, base line coal will continued to be required, and peak gas plants will continue to be required.

The current policy will sooner or later, cause base line coal and peak gas plants not to be built with population growth.

There will come a hot summer day that is cloudy and still, without solar/wind power, and there will be rolling blackouts.

If they do somehow keep building base/peak plants to meet worst case loads, then the people of Calif will be paying triple or worse for their power.

Calif solar/wind is expensive ... building base/peak to match population growth is expensive.

Until the cheap storage problem is fixed ... the renewable incentives are just going to keep charging Calif rate payers triple for infrastructure that does only half the job.

And if solar and wind carry the load successfully for some entire summer ... the folks working the coal/gas plants are going to be laid off and find some other job ... and when the still cloudy days arrive, the coal/gas plants will be cold and unstaffed.

Or rate payers are going to have to pay for an idle plant with full staff salaries on top of expensive renewables.

the coal and gas produce CO2 for global warming, and particulates that cause health problems. Babies die, children die, adults die. Add to that the mess for fossil fuel transportation, and more people die.

How many is enough?

How many?

patb2009
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Re: Natural Resources
patb2009   5/12/2013 11:09:17 PM
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John

your thought processes are caught in the 20th century

Totally_Lost
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Re: Natural Resources
Totally_Lost   5/13/2013 1:35:09 AM
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Sorry patB .... they are hardly stuck at all


This is my last post on this blog topics discussion thread, but it's not the end of the discussion, which will be moved to another venue. This is clearly the wrong forum for moving forward technical solutions that advance the state of the art toward the goal of reducing fossil fuel death and illness.

http://www.articlegarden.com/Article/The-Person-Who-Says-It-Can-t-Be-Done-Should-Never-Interrupt-The-Person-Who-Is-Doing-It/44644

And while there may be many posts after this one, I can assure you that the last words on this topic will remain as follows:

How many more must die from fossil fuels?

How many more?


GeorgeG
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Re: Natural Resources
GeorgeG   5/13/2013 9:24:15 AM
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The storage issue is a made up thing more egregious than range anxiety. California is a classic example: peak demand is roughly twice base demand while the demand peak is synchronous with insolation as so much of it is driven by HVAC; until California solar approaches 50% of peak capacity, storage doesn't even make sense. But you can already see a miniature version of that in Germany - miniature because Germany still doesn't have all that much solar and because it doesn't have the same degree of sun driven capacity or demand; but even then, there is a knock-on effect of meeting some peak demand using solar which has a nearly 0 incremental cost: rates which are normally driven up by competition for scare supply during peak hours, are instead driven down with the new supply having a dispoportionate effect on pricing.

Base load capacity is whatever generation that is the cheapest and is logically purchased before anything else. Since it is the cheapest, it is typically used around the clock. The paradox with coal is that it is cheap when operated 24/7 but not when operated cyclically so it can supply base load but isn't able to compete as peak capacity. The consequence is that coal forces the use of natural gas peakers, pumped hydro, etc which operate intermittantly and are therefore more expensive so that, even though coal power is sold cheaply, the aggregate cost of power is much higher. As can already be seen in some markets, wind with near zero incremental cost can outcompete coal when available depriving it of its ability to run 24/7 and ultimately driving it out of the market if it becomes more expensive than natural gas. Again, the strength of this effect relative to the penetration of wind in a market is quite large. A moderate proportion of wind power causes fossil fuel capacity to switch from coal to natural gas - half a step in the right direction.    

patb2009
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Re: Natural Resources
patb2009   5/13/2013 3:18:53 PM
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George

Concur.  Wind at even 10% is able to dramatically alter the economics of coal,

W may see an effect where the grid pays coal stations to spin warm, but unloaded,

and we see more and more of the grid become dominated by wind, PV and gas.

 

 

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Natural Resources
Ann R. Thryft   5/13/2013 12:12:12 PM
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Totally_Lost, thanks for your comments. The storage problem is being worked on. Stay tuned for an upcoming blog.

patb2009
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Re: Natural Resources
patb2009   5/13/2013 3:15:12 PM
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Ann

Totally_Lost is totally Lost.  If you try writing about technology change or improvement, he will start accusing you of murdering millions of children.  

Just write about what's happening, but don't bother responding to him.

 

 

Totally_Lost
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Re: Natural Resources
Totally_Lost   5/13/2013 8:04:55 PM
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Ann,

Not a suprise PatB still trying to censor me, he doesn't want to answer the question how many more must die burning fossil fuels. He whines about deaths and illnesses from nuke power problems, whines more about costs, and is indifferent to the real problems that face ALL OF US EVERY DAY..

Our energy policy must remove fossil fuels from business, residential and transportation power budgets.

The hypocracy is that fossil fuels kill and injure 6-7 ORDERS OF MAGNITUDE more people, with a similar cost ratio to society. Especially the transportation part of the problem. I lost my youngest child in 2006 to another hypocracy, at the hands of an indifferent parent. That pain never goes away ... and as engineers we are making a mistake to advance an adjenda for next generation power solutions that fail to address and remove the deaths of children from fossil fuel polution from the table ... to hell with zero nuke idealogy ... when millions die each year from fossil fuels, and tens of millions more become ill from fossil fuel pollution.

If you are a mother, then you need to protect your children, and grand children ... read all the links below. And next time you sit in stop and go traffic, with your car full of toxic fossil fuel particulates and chemical fumes, think about the studies referenced below ... with your young child or baby  strapped into the car seat forced to breath what is a deadly coctail of death for many children. You are probably lucky, and your child is realtively healthy ... too many parents are not. Too many of the elderly with reduced lung capacity are not ... will that be you in a few years? ... or will you help build a fossil fuel free world?


Wind and solar have their place ... Fossil Fuels kill ... and kill babies even faster because of their high respitory rates. I push for a zero fossil fuel economy ... no buring coal, no buring gas, no buring oil, no burining wood.

What works in California for wind and power, does not scale in Fair banks Alaska, or for very little of the world for that matter. We need solutions that can be applied everywhere. Yes, there are areas that will be fully served by wind/solar ... but relatively few in comparison to major population centers around the world

New fail safe reactor technologies are clean, with some risks, that are orders of magnitude below the current base line of fossil fuel deaths and illnesses. H2 power storage has significant transportation potential. The zero nuke idealogy forces a large fossil fuel market ... and does kill babies, children, and adults. And zero nuke idealogy evangelists, do need to be called baby killers when they choose to ignore the deaths they force blocking clean fail safe reactors.

Why is it ok to kill millions with fossil fuels, simply to advance a zero nuke power idealogy. That is simply hypocracy.

The numbers stand by themselves ... you can even dispute a couple orders of magnitude if you wish/can, but the hypocrisy behind the remaining several orders of magnitude in deaths and illnesses remains. Yes the couple 50 year old reactor design failures are significant ... but they are not representive of US light water reactor failures, and certainly not representive of newer fail safe Pebble Bed, and later designs.

please read at least what is below, and references, if not the two source threads on Nuke safety and Fukushima that spawned this debate.

WilliamK writes: "It is still not clear that "many are dying from fossile fuels", at least not around here, in the US." ... and has problems with H2 in automotive use.

I will help with your research ... H2 tank technology and transportation trials - 680 miles in a Prius

http://www.ecogeek.org/content/view/1717/

http://www.rsc.org/chemistryworld/News/2009/July/02070902.asp

US commercial Nuke deaths is close to zero.

I've posted a number of sources to review for US deaths/injury, and world wide death/injury .... some are below ... which easily total more than world wide nuke power related death/injury.

See the following links for US deaths, which are far from zero, plus the other links I provided reciently. Us deaths are significant, world wide are higher. There are particulate related deaths/injury, and chemical related deaths/injury.


This article states: http://www.worldwatch.org/air-pollution-now-threatening-health-worldwide "In the U.S., air pollution causes as many as 50,000 deaths per year and costs as much as $40 billion a year in health care and lost productivity."


The article www.nrdc.org/health/kids/ocar/chap4.asp states: "Which states "A recent study estimated that approximately 64,000 people in the United States die prematurely from heart and lung disease every year due to particulate air pollution".

http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/113/6/e628.abstract

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1247561/

www.environment.ucla.edu/reportcard/article.asp?parentid=1700


http://www.ewg.org/research/particle-pollution-and-sudden-infant-death-syndrome-united-states


http://www.countercurrents.org/cc191212.htm states:  Worldwide, a record 3.2m people a year died from air pollution in 2010"


The article en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_monoxide_poisoning states: "In the United States, approximately 200 people die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning associated with home fuel-burning heating equipment.[83] Carbon monoxide poisoning contributes to the approximately 5613 smoke inhalation deaths each year in the United States.[124] The CDC reports, "Each year, more than 500 Americans die from unintentional carbon monoxid"

http://www.transportationconstructioncoalition.org/Docs/TCC-Harvard-Traffic-Congestion-Report-Final.pdf


See the annual cancer deaths from automotive fuels table in http://www.transportation.anl.gov/pdfs/TA/137.pdf


http://www.epa.gov/oar/caa/40th_highlights.html


http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1518961/pdf/envhper00368-0217.pdf


Google may be your friend ... there are LOT's more other issues that I have not posted.


In summary ... zero to a few US Nuke deaths ... US fossil fuel deaths hundreds of thousands.


World wide ... millions. Six to seven orders of magnitude worse than nukes.


What's not clear??


How many More??????


patB, WilliamK, and others simply do not care -- refusing to even accept the deaths as real.


They hide from the really important question of:


How Many More?


Totally_Lost
User Rank
Silver
Re: Natural Resources
Totally_Lost   5/13/2013 11:57:26 PM
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I hope as a writer and editor on this topic, that you choose to avoid accepting a moral form of cultural relativism, and do not attempt to distance yourself from some harsh moral judgements about the number of deaths involved. This is not a new topic, it goes back a couple decades, where the dominate voices have been indifferent to the huge social costs of fossil fuel use, while zero nuke ideology prevails. Living a few miles from Diablo Cyn, I've seen all sides of the politics, the passion, and lack of thought.

I doubt future generations will be quite so kind, as they review that dissenting voices were shouted down, resulting in a quiet genocide of inner city poor unable to escape the polution of our times. I've heard the zero nuke mantra for decades, with hope that a renewable solution would save humanity from fossil fuels. It was a dream, that remains beyond our reach, without a nuke power contribution.

I choose to pick up my family, leave the California smog, and raise my kids in rural Colorado. Not everyone can make that choice. I made that choice a bit too late after working in LA for several decades, I have reduced lung capacity that reduced my ability to cycle as I had for decades ... and it's tougher at this altitude. I've never smoked, but the COPD is real, after cycling in southern California for nearly 30 years. There was a cost when smog was so bad, you could not see the end of the block. There is still a cost spending hours each week in stop and go traffic ... on city streets, or on the highways.

There is a cost ... in lives, in deaths, in illnesses ... it's time *WE* as engineers, do our job, and step up the the challenge to make this a zero fossil fuel planet, in the next couple decades.

We are engineers ... we know how to make compromises and tradeoff's when perfect solutions do not exist, and then aggressively pursue step wise refinement to make it better.

We each need to take a pledge that we will find the solutions, and refine those solutions, to make this a fossil fuel free planet. We need to start today ... we need to have a decade goal, to substantially implement this pledge.

The solutions that we use in this decade, are probably not the solutions for the next decade, or the next. But we can not keep saying that we can work on it later. There has already been 50 years of later go by. Today we need to pledge, that this will not affect our children, or grand children in 2025.

It's OUR planet to save, for our children.

John

GeorgeG
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Natural Resources
GeorgeG   5/13/2013 9:38:38 AM
Coal never picks up the peak demand - we had the great blackout as a consequence of that. During a long hot summer in California, a large enough quantity of solar would meet most of the peak. While natural gas is the most frequently used peak and spinning reserve power, California also has a lot of congestion in the NG system during peak demand. Meeting even a piece of the peak demand with solar would knock down the delivered price of natural gas as well as the price of gas generated power which would make peak NG power generation cheaper. Supplying peak demand with solar and average demand with wind would reduce the basic demand for hydro which. being dispatchable, could then be used to provide a larger portion of peak generation and spinning reserves.  

Elizabeth M
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Blogger
Re: Natural Resources
Elizabeth M   5/13/2013 4:45:09 AM
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This is really promising news! Would be great if the rest of the country could follow, especially Midwestern states where there is a lot of wind, as well. California and Arizona are lucky to get so much sunshine, but in the summer months much of the rest of the country could really harness solar power more as well, and as storage improves, that energy could be stored up to use in the darker months. Thanks for covering this, Ann! It's great to see the adoption of alternative energy on the rise in these places.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Natural Resources
Ann R. Thryft   5/13/2013 12:16:55 PM
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Thanks, Elizabeth. Germany now gets a high percentage of its electricity from renewables, including solar power, and they don't exactly have the market cornered on the number of days of usable sunshine. But they've been working on it longer than we have and with much more of a will to find solutions. The point is, the technologies can be developed and adapted to fit the local need.

Elizabeth M
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Re: Natural Resources
Elizabeth M   5/14/2013 6:28:37 AM
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Exactly, Ann. If Germany--one of the greyest places in teh world in winter (and other seasons sometimes as well!) can do it--so can the United States. It's good to see the technology emerging that can support even sun-starved places and allow solar to play an even larger role. No shortage of wind in Germany, though! :)

Totally_Lost
User Rank
Silver
Re: Natural Resources
Totally_Lost   5/14/2013 10:46:36 AM
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ElizabethM

Your economy is building coal fired generation plants at a break neck speed.

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/04/23/germany-to-open-six-more-coal-power-stations-in-2013/

It's interesting to read the comments.

It's interesting that public health comes second to fear.

I can only wonder, how many more deaths as the polluion increases?

How many more?

Totally_Lost
User Rank
Silver
Re: Natural Resources
Totally_Lost   5/15/2013 2:23:30 AM
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http://www.catf.us/fossil/problems/power_plants/existing/

In 2000 and again in 2004, Abt Associates issued a study commissioned by the Clean Air Task Force quantifying the deaths and other health affects attributable to the fine particle pollution from power plants. In this newly updated study, CATF examines the progress towards cleaning up one of the nation's leading sources of pollution. The report finds that over 13,000 deaths each year are attributable to fine particle pollution from U.S. power plants. This is almost half the impact that our 2004 study found and is reflective of the impact that state and federal actions have had in reducing power plant emissions by roughly half. However, much more still needs to be done.

Ann R. Thryft
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Natural Resources
Ann R. Thryft   5/14/2013 12:05:57 PM
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Elizabeth, the problem in solar energy production is not always in collecting--how many days of sunshine per year, e.g.--but in efficiency, conversion and storage. Existing solar technologies used in rooftop panels could be a lot more efficient than they are at present if they had not had to be engineered and produced as cheaply as possible for a consumer market. These technologies are often tweaked, altered and even replaced for utility-scale solar installations. I'll be writing about this in future blogs.

Elizabeth M
User Rank
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Re: Natural Resources
Elizabeth M   5/15/2013 4:44:01 AM
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That's interesting, Ann. It seems like there is a lot of work being done in this area; I've actually covered a bit how researchers are trying to make solar cells both cheaper and more efficient. Nanotechnology is coming into play. Also I'm sure you've seen the story I wrote about Ambri, which is developing a giant liquid-metal battery that company founders think could solve the energy-storage problem: http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1386&doc_id=259497

Ann R. Thryft
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Natural Resources
Ann R. Thryft   5/24/2013 12:27:32 PM
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Elizabeth, I know what you mean. I've also covered the subject of cheaper solar cells, usually from the materials or process standpoint:
http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1392&doc_id=254364
http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1392&doc_id=248975
http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1392&doc_id=245980
Between your stories and mine, one would hope that one or more of these technologies will prove a winner.

Elizabeth M
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Natural Resources
Elizabeth M   5/27/2013 5:49:29 AM
NO RATINGS
Thanks for the links, Ann. Yes, we seem to have this covered! It's like researchers are throwing everything they can at the wall to see what sticks. I think some of the new materials research is the most interesting, personally. It would be good if organic materials could be used more instead of synthetics. But I guess we'll just have to see how it evolves!

Mydesign
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Natural Resources
Mydesign   5/15/2013 12:01:02 AM
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1 saves
"This is really promising news! Would be great if the rest of the country could follow, especially Midwestern states where there is a lot of wind, as well. California and Arizona are lucky to get so much sunshine, but in the summer months much of the rest of the country could really harness solar power more as well, and as storage improves, that energy could be stored up to use in the darker months."

Elizebeth, the basic idea behind hybrid power generator is using the available resources at that particular point of time..

Elizabeth M
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Natural Resources
Elizabeth M   5/15/2013 4:47:15 AM
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Yes, Mydesign, I've actually written about hybrid energy harvesters that can do this sort of thing, but so far the hybrid harvesters have been solar/vibration and solar/heat. It seems like this is where this technology is trending, though. A hybrid solar-wind generator would be an amazing invention.

Mydesign
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Natural Resources
Mydesign   5/17/2013 3:34:40 AM
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1 saves
"so far the hybrid harvesters have been solar/vibration and solar/heat. It seems like this is where this technology is trending, though. A hybrid solar-wind generator would be an amazing invention."

Elizabeth, in all hybrid models solar/sun light is at one end because of its abundant availability. The other combinations are with wind, heat, vibrations, tidal etc.  in my country they had tried for power generation through tidal waves, but failed.

Ann R. Thryft
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Natural Resources
Ann R. Thryft   5/17/2013 12:43:59 PM
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Mydesign, I remember the effort of harvesting energy from tidal waves, but not why it failed. Considering what the Wave Glider can do in that department http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1392&doc_id=262965 I'd like to know why that effort failed. Any idea?

Debera Harward
User Rank
Silver
Green Power Growth
Debera Harward   5/13/2013 5:59:52 AM
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Thanks alot for such informative post, You are absolutely correct that green power is breaking records in west and it will be the major source of power in near future but the only hinderance that is comming is of cost it is too expensive as compared to the power generated by coal and feul.

It is not only growing in West but China is also working alot in its development in 2012 China installed 13000 MW of winds which is considered  to be less as compared to pevious years but then also china is leading with 75,000 megwatts wind capachity more than quarter of the whole word.

patb2009
User Rank
Gold
Re: Green Power Growth
patb2009   5/13/2013 9:14:53 AM
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Debera

Solar PV is dropping in cost rapidly, that means ideas formed even 2-3 years ago

must be revisited.

Fossil Coal is still the cheapest per KWH, however, that is rapidly becoming untrue.

Coal plants need an 8 hour window to run economically, and with more wind shoving into the grid, we are seeing hours with extremely cheap wind energy forcing coal plants to 

disconnect and run in narrower windows.  We are seeing only shoulder windows open for coal and those 2 hour windows are not economical.

 

i suspect a number of coal plants will begin going off line and be replaced by quick starting gas turbines.

 

http://www.eurotrib.com/story/2013/3/24/141225/641

 

yes some people are still living in the past, but you don't have to.

Ann R. Thryft
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Green Power Growth
Ann R. Thryft   5/14/2013 11:59:07 AM
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patb2009 is right both about PV solar costs dropping, and about the fact that many of our ideas regarding the state of alternative energy are (extremely) out of date. Stay tuned for more posts on the subject.

Totally_Lost
User Rank
Silver
Re: Green Power Growth
Totally_Lost   5/14/2013 12:40:18 PM
NO RATINGS
well Ann, I look forward to clear road map that leads the way to removing fossil fuel deaths in a few decades, that is cost effective enough to resoundly displace coal/gas/oil for industry, business, residential and transportation, without balance of trade economic problems, or massive public debt.

Ann R. Thryft
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Green Power Growth
Ann R. Thryft   5/13/2013 12:22:33 PM
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Debera, thanks for that info about China's renewable power strides. I knew they were pursuing alternative energy but not how far they've come. regarding cost, of course newer tech is more expensive--that's always the case. As we've discussed in comments to several different posts about alternative energy, it's not reasonable to expect a new energy source, without the same huge, established, existing infrastructure as the current energy source, to be competitive with it price-wise. It will take time, and outside funding assistance will help speed that process.

William K.
User Rank
Platinum
California green power and sustainability in that environment.
William K.   5/13/2013 2:51:36 PM
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What I see in the leading photo is a static solar cell system surrounded by tinder dry grass, and just barely enough room to walk between the rows. What happens during one of those frequent brush fires? I can imagine all of the array being destroyed in just a few minutes time. Am I the only one who can see a potential for an expensive disaster there? Doesn't anybody else consider some of the potential failure situation? Will this installation make it into "Designed by monkeys?"

Ann R. Thryft
User Rank
Blogger
Re: California green power and sustainability in that environment.
Ann R. Thryft   5/23/2013 11:57:09 AM
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William, in California during the summer wildfires are about as common as dust storms in West Texas. I'd guess that mowing between PV panel rows must be pretty tough. I'd also point out that in the areas outside the array that are visible in the photo, the brush has been mowed or turned under for quite some distance. I suspect this cleared area surrounds the entire array. For residential housing, the defensible zone is supposed to be 30-100 feet.

William K.
User Rank
Platinum
Re: California green power and sustainability in that environment.
William K.   5/26/2013 3:55:24 PM
Ann, the concept of a hundred foot wide zone being adequate to stop anything more than a slow lawn-fire is the reason so many homes are burned by brushfires in that state. If the grass were a mowed lawn that could work, but for taller grass with any wind it is inadequate.  Wishing something were ture very seldom will make it true. That applies everywhere except in some cartoons.

Ann R. Thryft
User Rank
Blogger
Re: California green power and sustainability in that environment.
Ann R. Thryft   5/28/2013 11:48:21 AM
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William, the 30- to 100-foot cleared zones requirement comes from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection
and is quite effective in slowing down a wildfire in residential areas and preventing damage to homes. This was proved a few years ago in three local fires (and by "local" I mean only a few miles from where I live), the Martin Fire and Summit Fire in 2008, and the Lockheed fire in 2009. The zone is essentially a firebreak, a practice also used in national and state parks. Here's a video explaining defensible space:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GPRJeUQByRk&feature=player_embedded



bobjengr
User Rank
Platinum
GREEN POWER
bobjengr   5/16/2013 6:15:26 PM
NO RATINGS
Very informative post Ann.   I think we have no real alternative relative to increasing energy usage than "green energy".  Fossil fuel and nuclear have gotten an undeserved black eye over the years although still very viable as energy sources.   I agree the ROI for wind and solar will continue to drop as the technology improves.   I think the real "sleeper" is natural gas firing turbines for the production of electricity.   I visited Dubai some years ago and was amazed at the number of gas turbines providing power for individual buildings and commercial complexes. 

William K.
User Rank
Platinum
SO WHAT if my system is a bit obsolete
William K.   5/26/2013 4:09:14 PM
NO RATINGS
I see that the concept of early obsolescence as a valid reason for accepting short product life is here also. Don't people understand that just because their PV power system is not quite current, it can still be very valuable? And the concept that in six years failure is OK because it will be obsolete is just plain poor thinking. For starters, we have no serious assurance that the cost of systems that recover more power will be low enough to provide any improvement in the cost/ benefits ratio. Another thing is that if the subsidies go away for any reason then the actual cost will rise a lot, no matter how much better performance might possibly be. And it is entirely possible that the subsidies will go away as part of a national budget crunch. One other thing is that the installation cost for the replacement system will certainly be greater because of all of the additional regulations. The magnitude of those is unknown, but I would guess that installation costs will rise by at least 30% just due to more rules and regulations, except in California, where the increase will be at least 50%.

So why should somebody want to replace a system that is functioning correctly with a new system getting 10% more when the present system is installed and paid for, and probably more reliable, as well. It seems that quality does indeed suffer when "cheapest price" is the sole design targt.

Ann R. Thryft
User Rank
Blogger
Re: SO WHAT if my system is a bit obsolete
Ann R. Thryft   5/28/2013 11:52:35 AM
NO RATINGS
William, thanks for pointing out the law of diminishing returns applied to new solar panels. I think your points are well taken.

William K.
User Rank
Platinum
Re: SO WHAT if my system is a bit obsolete
William K.   5/28/2013 8:01:00 PM
NO RATINGS
Ann, improving solar cell generating efficiency is usually good, but sometimes the tradeoff may be more than we care to accept.

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