What Just Happened in Solar Is a Bigger Deal Than Oil Exports

Dec 18, 2015

The clean-energy boom is about to be transformed. In a surprise move, U.S. lawmakers agreed to extend tax credits for solar and wind for another five years. This will give an unprecedented boost to the industry and change the course of deployment in the U.S.

The extension will add an extra 20 gigawatts of solar power—more than every panel ever installed in the U.S. prior to 2015, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). The U.S. was already one of the world’s biggest clean-energy investors. This deal is like adding another America of solar power into the mix.

The wind credit will contribute another 19 gigawatts over five years. Combined, the extensions will spur more than $73 billion of investment and supply enough electricity to power 8 million U.S. homes, according to BNEF.

“This is massive,” said Ethan Zindler, head of U.S. policy analysis at BNEF. In the short term, the deal will speed up the shift from fossil fuels more than the global climate deal struck this month in Paris and more than Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan that regulates coal plants, Zindler said.

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45 comments on “What Just Happened in Solar Is a Bigger Deal Than Oil Exports

  • @OP – The clean-energy boom is about to be transformed. In a surprise move, U.S. lawmakers agreed to extend tax credits for solar and wind for another five years. This will give an unprecedented boost to the industry and change the course of deployment in the U.S.

    Good to see the US is finally recognising the need to move rapidly in this direction.

    It’s a pity carbonaceous Cameron is going in the opposite direction in the UK!



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  • Subsidizing renewable energy doesn’t alter the underlying economics; – it simply encourages manufacturers to churn out as many inefficient solar panels and wind turbines as they can, while they can. More of this money should be invested directly in R&D to make sure that the sector can compete without subsidies.



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  • No. Wind turbine efficiencies aren’t going to improve much. (They are pretty impressive and near to theoretical extraction (about 60%).) New developments extend life and drop the levelised cost of using them. This needs wide implementation and usage to learn the trick of them. Likewise solar. We need to learn how to use them in smarter grid systems.

    New technology is always like this. You have to work through the practicalities of implementation and how the market can be made to adapt to their own particular strengths. Its fascinating how new smart loads and improved more efficient and smarter transmission (thanks to new power electronics) can play their part in closing the energy cost gap. Progress is clear and steady. It just needs an implementation hurry up….



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  • john.wb
    Dec 18, 2015 at 8:13 am

    Subsidizing renewable energy doesn’t alter the underlying economics; –

    Cutting the subsidies for coal, oil, and gas drilling would help to move to renewables.

    it simply encourages manufacturers to churn out as many inefficient solar panels and wind turbines as they can, while they can.

    Efficiencies have improved significantly as a result of R an D, but we need to move now because of the previous withholding of funds and politically motivated prevarication.

    More of this money should be invested directly in R&D to make sure that the sector can compete without subsidies.

    On shore wind is already the cheapest form of electrical generation, so helping with start-up grants for new developments is just what is needed to move to increase capacity quickly.

    http://energy.gov/eere/next-generation-wind-technology
    The program’s research efforts have helped to increase the average capacity factor (a measure of power plant productivity) from 22% for wind turbines installed before 1998 to an average of 33% today, up from 30% in 2000. Wind energy costs have been reduced from over 55 cents (current dollars) per kilowatt-hour (kWh) in 1980 to an average of 2.35 cents in the United States today.



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  • Agreed, we should have listened to the Sex Pistols 36 years ago when they warned us about ‘Fracking in the Wrekin’.

    How did the ‘greenest and most evidence based’ government that we were promised back in 2010 come to this? Shame on us all. We should be rioting in the streets, or at least tutting as we read the Guardian.



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  • Nuclear power is the only way to stop making CO2 that actually works.

    A Myth is Being Foisted on you:

    Fact: Renewable Energy mandates cause more CO2 to be produced, not less, and renewable energy doubles or more your electric bill. The reasons are as follows:

    Since solar “works” 15% of the time and wind “works” 20% of the time, we need either energy storage technology we don’t have or ambient temperature superconductors and we don’t have them either. Wind and solar are so intermittent that electric companies are forced to build new generator capacity that can load-follow very fast, and that means natural gas fired gas turbines. The gas turbines have to be kept spinning at full speed all the time to ramp up quickly enough. The result is that wind and solar not only double your electric bill, wind and solar also cause MORE CO2 to be produced.

    We do not have battery or energy storage technology that could smooth out wind and solar at a price that would be possible to do. The energy storage would “cost” in the neighborhood of a QUADRILLION dollars for the US. That is an imaginary price because we could not get the materials to do it if we had that much money.

    The only real way to reduce CO2 production from electricity generation is to replace all fossil fueled power plants with the newest available generation of nuclear; unless you live near Niagara Falls. Nuclear can load-follow fast enough as long as wind and solar power are not connected to the grid.

    MYTHS: The myths being perpetrated by wind turbine marketers are that:

    Wind and solar energy are free and will lower your electric bill

    and

    Wind and solar energy are CO2 free and will reduce the total CO2 produced by electricity generation.

    But

    Californians are paying twice as much for electricity as I am and Germans are paying 4 times as much as I am. The reason is renewables mandates. Illinois has 6 nuclear power plants and we are working hard to keep them. I am paying 7&1/2 cents /kilowatt hour. What are you paying?

    And

    Californians and Germans are making more CO2 per kilowatt hour than Illinoisans. It turns out that even without burning natural gas or coal to make up for the intermittency of wind and solar, wind turbines and large scale solar collectors require more concrete and steel per kilowatt hour than nuclear power does.

    FALLACIES: The fallacies in the myth are failure to do the math and failure to do all of the engineering required. The myth is easy to propagate among most people because there is quite a lot of math to do and there is a lot of engineering to learn. University electrical engineering departments offer electrical engineering degrees with specialization in power transmission [electric grids]. That is only part of the engineering that needs to be done to figure the whole thing out.



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  • Asteroid1Miner
    Dec 18, 2015 at 10:22 am

    Nuclear power is the only way to stop making CO2 that actually works.

    Nope! Tidal, hydro, wind, geothermal, and solar have been working for years. Only the antiquated mind-set which wants all power from one source, goes for this kind of option.

    Some countries already have high percentages of their power generated from renewables.

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

    Nuclear is an option as part of the package, but as the best nuclear – thorium systems are not in production yet, only the dangerous and obsolete long term polluting forms are at present on offer.

    A Myth is Being Foisted on you:

    Not on me, but it seems you have copied some of them!

    Fact: Renewable Energy mandates cause more CO2 to be produced, not less, and renewable energy doubles or more your electric bill. The reasons are as follows:

    The cost of carbon and mercury pollution, is not included in the price of coal generated electricity. It also uses old plant which has already been paid for.

    Since solar “works” 15% of the time and wind “works” 20% of the time,

    Ah! The denialists myths!!

    http://www.windbyte.co.uk/windpower.html

    Top myths about wind energy are based on old systems and misleading figures. Wind farms need to sited in suitable locations and use modern turbines, with proper electronic management.
    [http://www.ewea.org/wind-energy-basics/faq/](http://www.ewea.org/wind-energy-basics/faq/

    Wind turbines start operating at wind speeds of 4 to 5 metres per second and reach maximum power output at around 15 metres/second. At very high wind speeds, that is gale force winds of 25 metres/second, wind turbines shut down. A modern wind turbine produces electricity 70-85% of the time, but it generates different outputs depending on the wind speed.

    Over the course of a year, it will typically generate about 24% of the theoretical maximum output (41% offshore). This is known as its capacity factor. The capacity factor of conventional power stations is on average 50%-80%. Because of stoppages for maintenance or breakdowns, no power plant generates power for 100% of the time.

    Since solar “works” 15% of the time

    The percentage of operating time depends on the local climate. It probably only operates at maximum output 15% of the time in winter in cloudy locations, but for many solar systems that figure looks ridiculous!

    http://www.theecoexperts.co.uk/do-you-need-install-solar-panels-direct-sunlight
    Solar panels use the energy from daylight, as opposed to sunlight, to produce electricity so panels do not need direct sunlight to work. It is photons in natural daylight which is converted by solar panels cells to produce electricity. Heat has no effect on the production of electricity.

    This being said it is true that direct sunlight does provide the best conditions for the panels. However, even in overcast conditions light will diffuse through the clouds and reach the solar panels. Modern solar panels include concentrators which use a system of lenses and mirrors to maximise any light that does reach the cells. As a result it is estimated that solar panels will be 40% as effective in heavy cloudy as they would in direct sunlight. The clearer the skies are the more electricity will be produced.

    we need either energy storage technology we don’t have or ambient temperature superconductors and we don’t have them either.

    Solar thermal generators with liquid salt heat storage, have now been operational for several years. Super capacitors as an alternative to batteries, are under development.

    http://www.solarreserve.com/en/technology/molten-salt-energy-storage
    Storage enables solar thermal power plants to operate just like a conventional fossil fuel or nuclear power plant, reliably generating electricity when it’s needed most – but without the associated harmful emissions and without any fuel costs

    Solar thermal power plants with integrated molten salt energy storage can operate 24/7, proving baseload power for both on-grid and off-grid applications Integrated energy storage provides the ability to shift electricity generation to meet different profile needs and deliver firm, reliable power at high capacity value Molten salt thermal energy storage is the lowest capital cost energy storage system

    Solar thermal power plants with integrated energy storage are cost-competitive with any new build coal, natural gas, or nuclear technology

    Wind and solar are so intermittent that electric companies are forced to build new generator capacity that can load-follow very fast, and that means natural gas fired gas turbines.

    That does not follow. Wind, solar, and tidal systems produce output in different places at different times.
    Then there is hydroelectric power which is available on tap to cover gaps and peaks in supply.
    http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/mar/26/uk-and-norway-to-build-worlds-longest-undersea-energy-interconnector
    The UK and Norway are to build the world’s longest undersea interconnector

    The gas turbines have to be kept spinning at full speed all the time to ramp up quickly enough. The result is that wind and solar not only double your electric bill, wind and solar also cause MORE CO2 to be produced.

    This simply reflects the lack of renewable and nuclear capacity due to failures to get investment programmes going earlier.

    We do not have battery or energy storage technology that could smooth out wind and solar at a price that would be possible to do. The energy storage would “cost” in the neighborhood of a QUADRILLION dollars for the US. That is an imaginary price because we could not get the materials to do it if we had that much money.

    Numerous figures have been made up by the carbon polluting industries, but these invariably include no costs of environmental damage from pollution, and usually pretend there are no returns from investment in green technologies.

    The only real way to reduce CO2 production from electricity generation is to replace all fossil fueled power plants with the newest available generation of nuclear;

    http://www.itheo.org/thorium-energy-conference-2012

    But certainly NOT the only way!

    unless you live near Niagara Falls. Nuclear can load-follow fast enough as long as wind and solar power are not connected to the grid.

    This is simply a statement of a lack of awareness of options. Modern regulatory systems can switch systems to use multiple sources of generation.

    It is in the nature of renewables (solar, wind, tidal, wave, hydro, geothermal, ground heat storage etc.), that suitable locations are selected to make efficient use of naturally available energy, as has already been done in various countries.



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  • Again a few references wouldn’t go amiss here. Specifically embodied energy for Solar PV and wind.

    The levelised cost of supply is tumbling down as lifespans extend with better design (eg gearbox elimination, UV activated self cleaning glass, better ingress control, GaN based electronics providing more robust interfacing).

    Many storage solutions are nudging into wider use. Major is Solar Thermal using heated salts and heliostats. Flow Batteries of arbitrary capacity and 20MW ratings are getting more and more installations. Electric vehicles long planned as an adjunct to night time wind energy will come to provide dramatic peak shaving as they start to penetrate the market.

    Energy efficiency still has a long way to go removing further requirements of power consumption. It is still the single most cost effective investment in energy per the Credit Suisse survey of the levelised cost of energy. Negawatts become a nominal power source by virtue of removing demand, but smart loads particularly facilitated by the Internet of Things will greatly add to this allowing far more peak shaving where deferred use (about 50% of all major electricity uses) dramatically changes the load following requirement. What is nice is that industrial and societal enterprises like manufacturing and hospitals will now tend to move from UPS systems of diesel gensets, small gas turbines to flow battery installations because they will be able to negotiate lower electricity costs with the highly efficient and scalable application of peak shaving.

    Super grids are being facilitated now not by superconductors but by the use of HVDC. Their purpose is to enable the lower loss transmission over supranational distances. (Iceland gets to supply the UK and Europe with baseload geothermal.) The trick is to push up transmission voltages into the megavolt region without incurring substantial dielectric and corona losses. This used to be very expensive with $100m per line termination. Again the advent of spectacular semiconductors like GaN devices (a spin-off from LED and RF technology requirements) at affordable prices have substantially removed this barrier . DC, of course can be buried and go undersea.

    Improving long distance transmission losses (averaging about 8% in the UK, but going down. HVDC fully implemented would push this to better than 4%) allows wind generation to substantially balance out. A study 10 years ago found that Ireland could be 60% wind powered before stability problems would arise, this with an adequate grid, due to averaged wind consistency. Using HVDC to link up with the west coast of Scotland and on into Norway and the proposed off shore sites could provide all those regions with 70+% provision if fully implemented.

    Embedded and distributed generation will be one of the major reliefs to baseload levels. CHP is increasingly being adopted with total carbon energy efficiencies of 60 and 70% depending on the grade of heat required . Installations work best when matched to the heat quantity and grade required and electricity taken as a bonus. Having large numbers of these create network robustness and drop transmission losses. More importantly they open themselves up to the growing appearance of green gas, sewage burning and general waste burning. The potential for the topical use of these solves many problems, not least uncontrolled methane release. A new plant being opened near me, the second in the area, will contribute some 60MW of baseload and eliminate road hauled landfill and methane release. Next there are several businesses that can make use of the waste heat. This all seems easy peasy technology but there are lots of details to get right and it takes time and investment to get it right. The first plant caused dioxin pollution because it burned too coolly. Using a small supplementary supply of natural gas just so eventually fixed it.

    This is the point. We have to try these things out at the right scale to get it right.

    If you came suggesting thorium nuclear power you’d get a big thumbs up from quite a few of us, but current waste storage problems at the timescales indicated will steal an increasing amount of geography from our shrinking islands. For me in the UK I’m happy to buy more baseload via HVDC off French nuclear and sell then our surplus wind…..



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  • The clean-energy boom is about to be transformed. In a surprise move, U.S. lawmakers agreed to extend tax credits for solar and wind for another five years. This will give an unprecedented boost to the industry and change the course of deployment in the U.S.

    There has been a nagging thought banging around in the back of my brain for some time about statements like this. It has left me with a feeling of unease. An itch that could not be scratched. A thought is starting to crystallize and I will give it a public airing for the first time here, so be gentle.

    I hear lots of arguments about the economics of renewables and debates as to what out competes what. People scream about the subsidies for renewables and people scream about the subsidies for fossil fuels. People rabidly argue that you can’t put a tax on carbon or increase the cost of energy because they personally will have to bear some pain. Or they point to a company or a country that will have to bear some pain.

    So is Global Warming an environmental problem? Is it an economic problem? Is it a scientific problem or a political problem? Or is it a moral problem? Can you do something today, that you know will harm, or has a high probability of harming an as yet unborn future homo sapiens or any other life form on the planet for that matter? Can you argue that we shouldn’t act on cutting fossil fuels because it will cost you some extra money, and that is more important than staving off the remote potential for a global mass extinction?

    I find these arguments from economics to be immoral. The solution to reducing green house gasses and saving civilization has no economic factor in the equation, because the moral cost of not acting far outweighs any short term free market economic imperatives. Chalk and cheese.

    I am of the view that the world needs to go to a War Time production and research model and rapidly convert the planet to renewables, no matter what it costs. It is too important to be left to the free markets, which are self serving, short term in their thinking and psychopathic in their application. Not a good recipe for addressing a problem that is likely to occur in 100 years time. Markets can’t do that. Markets have no place in the solution.

    I think of a white board with the 100 most pressing world problems written on it. The number 1 problem at the top of the list is

    “We need to act on the planet today in such a way that civilization will survive for the next 1000 years”

    Now rub out every other problem underneath this one. They’re not important. From now on, every move you make, every breath you take, must be in accord with solving problem number 1. You can’t even think about problem number 2 until problem 1 is satisfied and stable. Once problem number 1 is locked in, you can then start adding extra questions to the white board, but they must never conflict with problem 1, which must never be erased from the white board.



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  • As far as I am aware there is quite a bit of research in the USA into the use of vanadium batteries to store electricity generated from solar.
    They use a liquid electrolyte and can be recharged many more times than a lead acid or lithium type.
    It’s also possible to make them physically large so just one battery (the size of a building) could power a small town.
    Has this technology been seen in use anywhere?

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-25674738

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-27829874



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  • Tim Smith
    Dec 18, 2015 at 5:36 pm

    My comment has disappeared?????

    If it had links in it it will have been put aside for moderation, and should reappear later, providing it meets the terms and conditions of the site.



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  • Tim Smith
    Dec 18, 2015 at 5:39 pm

    Wrote a much longer comment about vanadim batteries.
    Anyway here’s a link to the info.

    There are various ways deal with peak production at times of lower use.

    One is to charge up electric cars or other devices at peak production times.

    Battery storage is good for low demand systems, but for grid systems on isolated islands, solar thermal generation with heat storage is a good option, because the system can be brought on, or turned up to full power, on demand.

    See my comment (Alan4discussion Dec 18, 2015 at 11:59 am) and its link to solar-thermal systems.

    @ your link – Hawaii’s problem is too much sunshine – or rather, too much solar power feeding into its electricity grid.

    Clearly they have their photovoltaic inputs out of balance with other forms of generation. I think it unlikely (despite the suggestion on the link), that a similar mistake would be made elsewhere.

    @your link – What the Golden State needs is some way of storing the energy for a few hours every afternoon until it is needed.

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

    Vanadium batteries may well provide solutions to some problems, but storing energy as heat for later use in generating electricity, is well established technology in many places.



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  • I was wondering why solar panels couldn’t be used on the wind turbine blades?
    Anyone have any thoughts? Solar panels can be shaped to some degree. If the blades could be angled at the sun when no wind is available, it could produce power in more enviroments and using the same structure.



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  • alf1200
    Dec 20, 2015 at 5:03 am

    I was wondering why solar panels couldn’t be used on the wind turbine blades?
    Anyone have any thoughts?

    Turbine blades need considerable strength, so the panels which are relatively fragile would be dead weight which was counter productive, and subject to powerful winds.

    The rotating blades would also create problems connecting wiring, along with facing into the wind which is likely to be coming from a different direction to the Sunlight.

    Static solar panels are much simpler to build, maintain, and manage, than moving ones.

    However there is no reason why they should not share locations or grid wiring connections, to user concentrations such as industry or cities.



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  • The shape-able Solar PV is either relatively inefficient (like amorphous silicon used for cheap, large area applications) or short-lived (like Perovskite-based, planned for use in clothing). The blades are tiny in area and would never repay their investment cost and would possibly adversely affect the blade performance. (Degradation of the subtle surface shape must not happen for many, many decades and requires very particular materials.)

    I recently visited a relatively new company that has just taken delivery of their latest Glazing Solar PV material. This is intended for use in tall buildings on south facing windows. They neutrally absorb some of the light/IR to help control the heat burden of insolation and from the light absorbed generate electricity. It will be interesting to see how this works out. The visual effect is similar to existing thermal management films.



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  • I’ve been following the solar panel ideas for a while. I’ve got a 4Kwh(??) system on my roof which produces more power than I use, which I sell back at market rates into the grid.

    I’ve heard of a clear film like solar panel that becomes the windows in your house. Roof top tiles which make your whole roof one big solar panel. A clever idea is a solar panel with a small built in inverter. Evidently large wall mounted inverters are a problem, but by putting a small inverter on each panel is better somehow. Shopping centre car parks with shades made out of solar panels. That would be heaven in Australia where one of our provincial cities just had a temperature of 47.5 Celsius, and my city just broke the December all time record with four consecutive days over 40C. But its not global warming. Just natural climate variation.

    There is a picture of a carpark middle right on this web page covered in solar panels. I’d like to see this as a commonsense planning issue for all future car parking spaces, especially with electric cars that could be parked in the shade and charged at the same time.

    http://www.abbey-solar.com/commercial-solar.html#!prettyPhoto



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  • Yep! Rather cold pie in the sky.

    Nantenna technology is real and increasingly usable in extracting energy from radiation extremely high in the radio band into infra red. (One day it may even work in the visible spectrum.)

    But the bare cloud free sky reads -35 Celsius on my IR temperature gun. (I use it for cooking…) This is the temperature of the upper atmosphere. The sun warms the earth and the atmosphere by day and at night the earth warms the atmosphere. We occasionally see some Gulf warmed water vapour returning the favour, but not often or reliably or much and as Clausius very nearly sang,

    Heat never flows

    From a colder to a hotter

    It can try if it likes

    But it far better notter.



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  • Using solar PV for roofs is great, but careful design can make them far more cost effective. A sawtooth profile roof will allow greatly increased PV utilisation (less actual PV area needed) and allow ventilation at the peaks cooling the panels more efficiently along there length.

    In places like Oz silicon based PV is almost getting too hot for efficient use. (Combining it with low grade solar thermal [making warm water] is a trick increasingly worth trying.)



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  • Accidently clicked on report comment when trying to reply… very sorry for that. There is no confirmation when reporting a comment (hint, hint).
    I wanted to add that it’s not just increasing wind and solar power, it’s also decreasing electrical usage. I’ve replaced all the lights in my home with LED (just finished the flood lights outside). I started with the lights that got the most usage (since this stuff wasn’t cheap at the time) and worked my way down to lights we don’t use often. I use power strips to actually turn off electronics (standby does use some electricity). The biggest appliance to replace was a dishwasher (water and electricity… processing water uses electricity). I air dry a lot of my clothes on racks because it’s not a big deal. The worst (from the wife’s perspective) is limiting the AC use during the summer (which was replaced with a much more efficient unit). Closing off rooms not in use. Light coloured shingles to restrict heat from the sun (live in the south). Granted, most of this stuff costs money, so we’ve been working on it over the years, but living in South Carolina and having a monthly bill of $130, largest we had this last summer, for a 5 bedroom 2 bathroom home isn’t too bad.



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  • Nice work. It tells me you are thinking and acting on a problem.

    I’ve noticed in Australia that the general public is acting on climate change too, as you have, because they are getting nothing from the politicians. It’s almost like they can’t wait any longer and are doing it for themselves. It’s like they are saying, “Let’s get on with it.” My state has the highest solar PV per head in the world compared to comparable western societies. And our state wind production last year had two days where the entire state ran on wind electricity, with a small amount of excess being sold to the national grid.

    My quarterly electricity bill would be US$450. But last year with my roof top solar PV, I was miffed when in our winter quarter, I had to pay $5. In the spring / summer quarters, I receive a cheque for around $350 for the electricity I export to the grid.



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  • Cost considerations are always a problem. Some of your points can be overcome but not cost effective.
    The wiring problems are simple to engineer. Hopefully a lightweight coating can be applied in the future for panels and turbines.
    I agree, solar farms are quick and more dependable. I would like to see more on tidal energy also. Here in the Pacific Northwest testing is being done on a small scale.
    The real answer is using all the natural energies available. Geothermal, tidal, solar and wind.



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  • Its amazing what lurks in the brain. I had forgotten that I had even seen them when very young and not quite english enough to appreciate the humour.



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  • I see Scotland is pressing ahead with its grid to link up renewable sources!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-35146301
    The controversial Beauly to Denny power line has been “energised” and is now fully operational along its entire length.

    It carries electricity from windfarms and other renewable energy schemes in the north to consumers in the south.

    The energy companies behind the project have described the line as a “power super highway” between the Highlands and the central belt.

    Pearse Murray of Scottish Power Energy Networks said: “The line will increase our ability to transfer power from the north to the south by about 1,200MW.

    “To put some sense of scale on that, it’s the equivalent to the power usage of 600,000 homes.

    “A city the size of Glasgow uses about 800MW at peak, so the line will provide enough energy to power a city one and a half times the size of Glasgow.”

    The industry regulator, Ofgem, says the cost of construction currently stands at just over £820m.

    A spokesman said: “Britain’s electricity networks need to be upgraded to connect increasing amounts of low carbon generation.

    “We will ensure that customers pay no more than they should for the upgrade by checking the companies have delivered the project as efficiently as possible.”

    The cost of building the line is met by electricity consumers across Great Britain.

    Ofgem says 7% of electricity bills goes towards investing in and maintaining the high voltage grid.



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  • alf1200
    Dec 20, 2015 at 8:34 pm

    Here in the Pacific Northwest testing is being done on a small scale.

    http://www.gizmag.com/indias-first-tidal-power-plant-gets-the-go-ahead/17618/
    The project will see Gujarat Power Corporation Ltd. partner with London-based Atlantis Resources Corporation, which recently revealed plans to develop one of the world’s largest marine power projects in the UK using its new 1MW AK1000 tidal turbine.

    The AR1500 and some earlier AR1000 series turbines, are being put in place in India and various other places.

    http://atlantisresourcesltd.com/turbines/ar-series/ar1500series.html

    The AR1500 is the latest tidal power turbine system under development at Atlantis. The AR1500 will have a rated capacity of 1.5MW at 3.0 m/s and will be designed to withstand the extreme environmental conditions expected to be encountered in the Pentland Firth in Scotland and the Bay of Fundy in Canada. The detailed design of this cutting edge turbine was completed by Lockheed Martin Corporation during 2014. The AR1500 system will have pitching blades and full nacelle yaw rotation capability to facilitate operation in highly energetic deployment locations.

    There is also this experimental project from a separate company.

    http://energy.gov/articles/turbines-nyc-east-river-will-provide-power-9500-residents

    As part of the Roosevelt Island Tidal Energy project, 30 turbines are being installed along the strait that connects the Long Island Sound with the Atlantic Ocean in the New York Harbor. The project, led by Verdant Power, Inc., is the first ever commercially licensed tidal energy project in the United States.

    The turbines are scheduled to be fully installed by 2015 and will use the flow of the river and tides to generate 1,050 kilowatts of electricity — this power will be delivered to 9,500 New York residents.



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  • As green energy developments take over more of the electrical generation industry, I see the oil wars have taken a new turn!
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-35188807
    Saudi Arabia’s budget deficit soared to $98bn (£65.7bn) this year as the world’s biggest oil exporter counted the cost of falling crude prices.

    In the first budget under King Salman, the kingdom said revenues reached 608bn riyals (£108.7bn; $162bn), down 15% on official expectations.

    Spending for the year hit 975bn riyals, some 13% more than forecast.

    Oil prices have plunged from a five-year high of $125 a barrel in March 2012 to just $37.18 now.

    Saudi Arabia said that oil revenues, which make up 77% of the total revenue figure for 2015, are down 23% compared to last year.

    It is the largest member of the Opec oil-producing cartel and has refused to cut output in order to raise prices in an attempt to put other producers – mainly US shale oil companies – out of business.

    Saudi thinks it can withstand low oil prices for longer than US producers, many of which are small, heavily-indebted firms.



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  • It is the largest member of the Opec oil-producing cartel and has refused to cut output in order to raise prices in an attempt to put other producers – mainly US shale oil companies – out of business.

    Now Iran could get back to exporting oils shortly as its nuclear issues are being resolved!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-35321087
    Overnight, BHP Billiton announced it was writing down the value of its US shale assets by $7.2bn amid the collapse in oil prices.

    BHP Billiton shares dropped 6.3%. Among the other mining stocks, Anglo American fell 9.2% and Glencore slid 8.4%.

    After a brief recovery on Thursday, oil prices fell again to hit fresh 12-year lows. The price of Brent crude dropped to $29.43 a barrel at one point, while US crude futures reached a low of $29.39.



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  • Asteroid1Miner
    Dec 18, 2015 at 10:22 am

    Nuclear power is the only way to stop making CO2 that actually works.

    Nope!

    http://www.theverge.com/2016/2/5/10923000/morocco-biggest-solar-power-plant-sahara

    Morocco has turned on its massive solar power plant in the town of Ourrzazate, on the edge of the Saharan desert. The plant already spans thousands of acres and is capable of generating up to 160 megawatts of power. It’s already one of the biggest solar power grids in the world, capable of being seen from space. And it’s only going to get bigger.

    The current grid, called Noor I, is just the first phase of a planned project to bring renewable energy to millions living in Morocco. It will soon be followed by expansions, Noor II and Noor III, that will add even more mirrors to the existing plant. Once the project is complete around 2018, the entire grid will cover 6,000 acres. It will be capable of generating up to 580 megawatts of power, comparable to that of a small nuclear reactor.



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  • How does composting and waste burning fair in the grand scheme of things? I remember being taken to the first waste burning power station in Walthamstow when I was at school. It is still there but, to be honest, I have never followed it up. Condensing boilers capture green house gases and discharge them into the ground. Is this a stable proccess?

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_Pain



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  • Olgun 197005

    I first realised Greenpeace might be too idealist for their own good when they had a guy plant himself on the smoke stack in Walthamstow decades ago to halt its use . Their complaints were a muddle of emotive issues. (Burning was bad…period. Ash was poisoned. Dioxins were released.)

    This was a major learning opportunity for the technology. The ash concentrated some problematic materials but prevented merely dispersing it in landfills and rather, better containing it in road-fill products. The dioxin production problem led to a new higher temperature combustion technique, that eliminated dioxins but also avoided the risks of NOx production. It has taken a while, but now better presorting of waste mitigates these problems additionally and burning biomass is simply carbon neutral, and avoids the risk of biomass rotting turning it into a mega AGW agent free methane.

    The next plant about 12miles north on the River Lee is a new exemplar(nearly finished) turning residential and business waste to green gas. (Its design has changed a few times since first mooted back in 2009 ). Both plants are within half a mile of sewage plants and may get extended in the next decade to tap this energy dense resource in one of the more complex schemes being developed in universities to put together green gas anaerobic digestors and their residual and other biomass to maximally recycle carbon.



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  • @ Phil

    Thanks Phil. According to this article, they have come up against problems of their own making. Too much reliance on waste and not enough thought into where the fuel would come from, for that many plants. Recycling making it even more difficult. Are we getting too carried away with recycling? I can see metals as being one which is a good product to recycle because it will not need any special new plants to bring it back in use and composting material as another good idea but is all recycling worth it? Is the power, once burnt, that is produced through burning more efficient than the recycling?



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  • Olgun,

    CHP = combined heat and power

    Its a complicated and rapidly changing story and the terms incineration and recycling don’t capture the more expansive processes coming available. Incineration usually just implies a disposal of material with a modicum of energy retrieval. Better sorting and pre-processing waste can make energy extraction much more efficient. Anaerobic digestors can generate much storable energy and leave material fit for composting and field spreading, though also this can become a further fuel source as well. Crucially if we can get 50MW waste biomass& sewage digestors and combustors to work efficiently in many small multiple CHP plants, many local problems are addressed at once. Waste road miles, sewage disposal, grid useage and stabilisation, baseload provision, local business and residential heating.

    The Lee Valley, for example, houses numerous (oil and gas) CHP plants built in to the greenhouse production of much of the country’s need for salad vegetables. The heat and light they thus generate for themselves extends the growing season and obviates much shipping of food from the likes of Spain. The sector has interesting prospects to expand and recapture its former glory when greenhouse production was ten times greater than it is now. Greenhouses often have CO2 piped in to them. Local 50MW CHP plants of the sort outlined could take greenhouse bio-waste along with that of the local community and return cheap heat and light and even the CO2. This is complicated to get right and needs to develop more intelligent business models to find local users of the valuble but nevertheless low grade heat available.

    Recycling works moderately well on average and extremely well with some metals. (Most aluminium products use substantially recycled metal). Other metals (apart from high value rare earths) need to be used in differently specced applications at the moment until rising ore prices force a more complete reprocessing regimes. Some plastics are highly recyclable others not. Riding to the rescue here though are extended ideas like the “circular economy”, where up front costs enfold in some way life cycle costs, facilitating re-use, re-engineering, re-manufacture and re-purposing before re-cycling is resorted to, often within service offerings, rather than product ownership. This unlocks huge technology potential.

    There is much government interest in this not least because it allows technology to solve other problems than mere cheapness of the goods, but also its efficiency, longevity and reliability, but also enfolds the waste stream and the securing of local service businesses for its operation and the reduction of imported stuff.



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  • @Phil

    Thanks Phil. Didn’t catch the whole program but saw the digesters with Holland (if I remember rightly) being the industry leaders? Although Germany seems to be the biggest producer.

    There is much government interest in this not least because it allows
    technology to solve other problems than mere cheapness of the goods,
    but also its efficiency, longevity and reliability, but also enfolds
    the waste stream and the securing of local service businesses for its
    operation and the reduction of imported stuff.

    Well done to Michigan. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Container_deposit_legislation_in_the_United_States



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