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Economic criticality for solar energy


Economic criticality for solar energy30-09-2019 18:53
ErnieRogers
☆☆☆☆☆
(4)
In nuclear engineering, when a reaction "goes critical," an explosion is likely to follow. Solar power is very close to going critical. I want to point out where we are on the large, utility scale and also at the home scale.
Utility-scale. My power company is Rocky Mountain Power, also PacifiCorp. PacifiCorp will announce their long-range generating plan (called the IRP) on October 15th, just two weeks away. They are laying out their plans to produce electricity for the next 20 years. What I have learned: According to PacifiCorp researchers, the cheapest power sources RIGHT NOW are wind and solar, NOT natural gas. They are planning the changeover!
Home scale. Just this month, I added solar to my house. I will cut my expenses for electricity by about $100 a month! (My mortgage lender was happy to add the cost to my mortgage, no increase in payments.) The payback time on the solar system is six years. My return on investment is about 11%--that's really good! Now that I generate my own free power, I want to use it to run my car too.
Now, the kicker! According to a 2017 report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado, about HALF of the cost of my solar system went to profit and fees, above the costs of materials and labor. (The pricing picture has not changed at all since 2017.) When PacifiCorp builds a solar power plant, they will pay less than half of what I paid for their installation, about $1.15 a watt. What would happen to our climate crisis if we could get a home solar system for only a little more than PacifiCorp pays, say $1.50 a watt? In ten years, everybody that could would be generating their own electricity, and all the coal generating plants would be closed because the utility company wouldn't need their output to satisfy the falling load. And in 15 years anybody that could might have an electric car—ahh, clean air! I think we have a pretty good solution to the "climate crisis" right in front of us! We must narrow the margin on the price of home solar.
30-09-2019 19:23
Into the NightProfile picture★★★★★
(9573)
ErnieRogers wrote:
In nuclear engineering, when a reaction "goes critical," an explosion is likely to follow.

WRONG. A reaction MUST go critical to generate power at all! Nuclear fuel is too low in purity to detonate as a nuclear bomb. Most nuclear power plants run at temperatures that are about the same as your home oven on high.
ErnieRogers wrote:
Solar power is very close to going critical.

Nope. It's not a radioactive material.
ErnieRogers wrote:
I want to point out where we are on the large, utility scale and also at the home scale.

Piddle power still. There's a reason.
ErnieRogers wrote:
Utility-scale. My power company is Rocky Mountain Power, also PacifiCorp. PacifiCorp will announce their long-range generating plan (called the IRP) on October 15th, just two weeks away. They are laying out their plans to produce electricity for the next 20 years. What I have learned: According to PacifiCorp researchers, the cheapest power sources RIGHT NOW are wind and solar, NOT natural gas. They are planning the changeover!
ErnieRogers wrote:

They are not the cheapest. A couple of researchers do not represent either power company.
Home scale. Just this month, I added solar to my house. I will cut my expenses for electricity by about $100 a month! (My mortgage lender was happy to add the cost to my mortgage, no increase in payments.) The payback time on the solar system is six years. My return on investment is about 11%--that's really good! Now that I generate my own free power, I want to use it to run my car too.

How much did it cost your neighbors to foot your installation costs? They pay for that in their taxes, you know.
ErnieRogers wrote:
Now, the kicker! According to a 2017 report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado, about HALF of the cost of my solar system went to profit and fees, above the costs of materials and labor. (The pricing picture has not changed at all since 2017.) When PacifiCorp builds a solar power plant, they will pay less than half of what I paid for their installation, about $1.15 a watt.

Currently, coal costs about $0.30 a watt. Oil and natural gas a bit cheaper right now. Even nuclear power is cheaper.
ErnieRogers wrote:
What would happen to our climate crisis

What crisis? Define 'climate change'.
ErnieRogers wrote:
if we could get a home solar system for only a little more than PacifiCorp pays, say $1.50 a watt?

Currently, coal costs about $0.30 a watt. Oil and natural gas a bit cheaper right now.
ErnieRogers wrote:
In ten years, everybody that could would be generating their own electricity, and all the coal generating plants would be closed because the utility company wouldn't need their output to satisfy the falling load.

Doubt it.
ErnieRogers wrote:
And in 15 years anybody that could might have an electric car—ahh, clean air!

We already have clean air.
ErnieRogers wrote:
I think we have a pretty good solution to the "climate crisis" right in front of us!

What crisis? Define 'climate change'.


The Parrot Killer
30-09-2019 20:59
HarveyH55
★★★★☆
(1347)
Solar isn't quite as good as many claim, don't buy the marketing hype. They have a lot of numbers to play with, different methods for rating panels. And of course, most panel are made in China, which means you won't get the highest quality cheap, even though the specs look just as good. I'm highly skeptical of the 20 year lifespan being claimed as well. Might still produce a useful current, but not what you were getting when new. 10-12 years, and you will be needing to replace quite a few panels.

Solar doesn't work well for everyone either, even in the same town. Roof mount systems need clear space for the sun to hit the panels, no shady trees. Might use a little more to compensate, to cool your house. You also need the right angle, to get maximum production. The best you really get out of them, is a discount on you bill. Very few actual produce enough to cover their own usage. Those that make money, had to spend money on high efficiency appliances, and use sparingly. Not really a good deal, if you have to spend a lot. 10-12 years is a short time, to recover your investment, before having to pay for replacement panels. Solar was great, with Obama rebates, subsidies, and incentives. horrible, if you have to pay full price.
30-09-2019 22:14
Into the NightProfile picture★★★★★
(9573)
HarveyH55 wrote:
Solar isn't quite as good as many claim, don't buy the marketing hype. They have a lot of numbers to play with, different methods for rating panels. And of course, most panel are made in China, which means you won't get the highest quality cheap, even though the specs look just as good. I'm highly skeptical of the 20 year lifespan being claimed as well. Might still produce a useful current, but not what you were getting when new. 10-12 years, and you will be needing to replace quite a few panels.

Solar doesn't work well for everyone either, even in the same town. Roof mount systems need clear space for the sun to hit the panels, no shady trees. Might use a little more to compensate, to cool your house. You also need the right angle, to get maximum production. The best you really get out of them, is a discount on you bill. Very few actual produce enough to cover their own usage. Those that make money, had to spend money on high efficiency appliances, and use sparingly. Not really a good deal, if you have to spend a lot. 10-12 years is a short time, to recover your investment, before having to pay for replacement panels. Solar was great, with Obama rebates, subsidies, and incentives. horrible, if you have to pay full price.


The biggest threat to solar panels is simply dust or mold.

In open areas, dust causes permanent scratches on the collecting surface, diffusing and limiting the sunlight that strikes it.

In nice wet areas like Seattle, mold and moss are the biggest culprits. They just cover the panel. You need special tools to remove it, or you again scratch the panel (you can't walk on 'em either!).

Each day, the daytime and nighttime temperatures can be stressful enough to cause cracks to develop in the panels or cause the wiring to some loose. Snow is a real enemy to solar panels. It's weight can crack them in short order. Then of course, any hail does some serious damage, though it would not otherwise damage your roof. Imagine what big hailstones can do!

This is in addition to the limited life span of these panels due to junction breakdown due to UV (what causes a solar panel to have a limited lifespan once put in service).


The Parrot Killer
Edited on 30-09-2019 22:20




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