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Thread: solar power economics

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    Quote Originally Posted by harold
    You have directly pointed out nothing of the sort. You have merely blustered about how you disagree with the conclusions of official government agencies.
    I have not bothered to address any alleged "conclusions" of government agencies as such. My disagreements are with the arguments here, including their misuse, naive misrepresentation, and apparent incomprehension of things like the UNSCEAR report on Chernobyl, and they have been direct - as well as, so far, unrefuted. Unaddressed, for the most part.

    You, for example, have never bothered to address the issue of the cost of the medical problems excluded for lack of research by UNSCEAR in its Chernobyl report.
    Quote Originally Posted by harold
    Indeed I do understand those things. What is your point?
    That skeptic's use of landscape average milliesievert radiation dosage is therefore meaningless , due to its failure to handle these features of nuke accident risk, the comparison with likewise averaged background radiation exposure is stupid, and the claim not to be able to tell the difference in risk between landscape averaged background radiation and the kinds of exposure consequent to nuke accident is not believable.
    Quote Originally Posted by harold
    Yes. The difference in risk posed by the different methods of power generation has been discussed quite extensively, with the conclusion that nuclear poses a low risk.
    The cost of the risk, is the topic. We agree that nukes are low risk, in some sense (not nearly as low as proponents claim, but then they are using near misses to reduce their risk estimate rather than increase it, basic blunders like that - Challenger logic) - but very high cost of risk.

    Quote Originally Posted by harold
    Solar thermal power, as it stands, is not capable of replacing baseload power plants, such as nuclear.
    Obviously false, as both generation and storage technology exist and have been employed. The subject of cost you fail to address, as always.
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    I should also add that one takes numbers that come out of Ukraine with a grain of salt. It's Ukraine, after all. The most corrupt part of the former Soviet Union. If they wanted a large number of cancer deaths to go unreported, they'd just muscle the relevant families and/or doctors into cooperation. Also the medical profession is not as prestigious in that country as it is in the USA. It's actually underpaid compared to a lot of other professions, and doctors are known to accept bribes to move patients to the front of the line.

    I'm happy to rely on the Chernobyl numbers for now, but... I'm just saying.
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    I'm happy to rely on the Chernobyl numbers for now, but... I'm just saying.
    Aside from the explicit deficiencies of the UNSCEAR report, which we can read about in the report itself (entire regions of contamination not even included, far afield, for one), one can look up the recently published compilation of medical reports from the nearby affected region itself - reliance on the UNSCEAR report should be with awareness of its incomplete and carefully restricted nature.

    It's not only the Russian officialdom that has an interest in downplaying Chernobyl - it's most of the Western nuclear powers officaldoms.
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    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    It's not only the Russian officialdom that has an interest in downplaying Chernobyl - it's most of the Western nuclear powers officaldoms.
    And in the other solar/wind vs nuclear thread, we are being told of a conspiracy to destroy nuclear. Looks like we have both things happening, according to thread contributors. Nuclear is being shat upon, and nuclear is having its problems downplayed. Interesting ......
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    Conspiracies are common in human experience. As are common errors about said conspiracies. This is why technical arguments are superior.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    It's not only the Russian officialdom that has an interest in downplaying Chernobyl - it's most of the Western nuclear powers officaldoms.
    And in the other solar/wind vs nuclear thread, we are being told of a conspiracy to destroy nuclear. Looks like we have both things happening, according to thread contributors. Nuclear is being shat upon, and nuclear is having its problems downplayed. Interesting ......
    That's commonly the nature of public debate these days. Both sides conspire to give you equally and oppositely biased opinions in the hope that the bias will cancel out somehow. IE. people expect that somehow two opposite wrongs will add up to make a right. The goal of science, of course, is to eliminate this.

    Concern over the public's perception of the contamination and dangers of contamination released by the Chernobyl incident could influence policy in Ukraine itself. The government might prefer to make the people feel safer than they are in order to limit the amount of panic, and resulting chaos. It's not unlike the US government attempting (sometimes) to downplay terror incidents for the same reason.

    I said we should take the numbers with a grain of salt. I didn't say we should discard them. There is only so much you can cover up on the one hand. On the other hand, Ukraine is the human trafficking capital of the world, so it's not hard to make anyone disappear, and the public seems to have a tremendous tolerance for stuff like that.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    That's commonly the nature of public debate these days. Both sides conspire to give you equally and oppositely biased opinions in the hope that the bias will cancel out somehow
    That seems to be fairly rare, in real life. It's hard to think of examples, off hand, in which nobody involved is making reality based and reasonable arguments, and all the opinions on all sides are equally and oppositely biased with reference to physical fact.

    What's more common is for the non-reality based side to assert that; to argue that the reality based side is mere opinion no more valid than their own, no better than any other opinion.
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    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    That's commonly the nature of public debate these days. Both sides conspire to give you equally and oppositely biased opinions in the hope that the bias will cancel out somehow
    That seems to be fairly rare, in real life. It's hard to think of examples, off hand, in which nobody involved is making reality based and reasonable arguments, and all the opinions on all sides are equally and oppositely biased with reference to physical fact.

    What's more common is for the non-reality based side to assert that; to argue that the reality based side is mere opinion no more valid than their own, no better than any other opinion.
    It's moderated in that both sides know they'll hurt their own credibility if they say anything outright false that can be contradicted by reliable evidence. That's true.

    Both sides simply push credulity to the limit, especially in political debates. Have you ever listened to Rush Limbaugh?
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    they'll hurt their own credibility if they say anything outright false that can be contradicted by reliable evidence
    That doesn't matter much, even to some posters here. Emotional arguments often carry more weight than the evidence--a sad state that puts us all at risk.

    Both sides simply push credulity to the limit, especially in political debates. Have you ever listened to Rush Limbaugh?
    Rush deliberately goes well beyond that limit.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    It's moderated in that both sides know they'll hurt their own credibility if they say anything outright false that can be contradicted by reliable evidence. That's true.
    The denigrators of solar power and advocates of nuclear power suffer no penalty for outright falsity, here or anywhere. The technique is simple: evidence is rated reliable in accordance with its support of their positions, and vice versa.

    Credibility is contingent on the desired audience - one would hate to find oneself "credible" in the eyes of people who think solar power is unworkable because the sun does not shine at night.
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    Iceaura

    No-one has said that solar power is useless - just that it is still too early in its development for it to take up more than a tiny part of the burden of generating needed power. Nuclear is, however, ready to take on a much larger part of that burden.

    The fact that the sun does not shine at night is not, by itself, sufficient reason to kill solar power, but it is a serious inconvenience. Either electricity must be generated at night by other means, or the solar energy must be stored. And we all know that storing and regenerating energy causes major energy losses, and hence raises energy prices.
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    No-one has said that solar power is useless - just that it is still too early in its development for it to take up more than a tiny part of the burden of generating needed power. Nuclear is, however, ready to take on a much larger part of that burden.
    Nuclear has had fifty years to get itself straightened out, and we still have increasingly packed waste storage pools and facilities scattered all over the place, still have the hot hulks of idle reactors sitting around waiting for someone to figure out the decommissioning angle, still have plumes of manufacturing waste oozing through the ground and headed for aquifers, rivers, oceans, still have hot reactors sitting on earthquake faults beside major river systems.

    We are talking about building new plants. May as well build something that won't bite us in the ass in fifteen years. If we can save some money at the same time - looks promising - so much the better.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post

    The fact that the sun does not shine at night is not, by itself, sufficient reason to kill solar power, but it is a serious inconvenience. Either electricity must be generated at night by other means, or the solar energy must be stored. And we all know that storing and regenerating energy causes major energy losses, and hence raises energy prices.
    Yeah. If you want to support solar, you just have to recognize that the goal posts are further away than people keep saying they are. The tech is only sufficiently workable if it's accompanied by storage. And once we're looking at storage, all we're saving by building solar facilities is the fuel we would have burned in a natural gas plant, and some wear and tear on the machinery. We're not saving the cost of building the natural gas machinery.

    However, even with the goal posts that far away, solar still has potential further down the road. Present technology isn't going to do it, and so it becomes a vicious circle. Without better tech, nobody wants to build solar. Without building solar, we never arrive at the better tech. So, these discussions always end up with the following suggested course of action: wait for a magical tech faerie to show up, wave their magic tech want, and bring us a new form of solar technology that will be cheaper than its competitors right out of the box, before any market driven research has occurred, and before the industry has exerted any trial and error efforts by actually trying to build anything. Once the tech faerie has shown up, only then will we actually begin to build our way out of the mess we're in. I sure hope she gets here soon!!
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    The tech is only sufficiently workable if it's accompanied by storage. And once we're looking at storage, all we're saving by building solar facilities is the fuel we would have burned in a natural gas plant,
    The molten salt stuff is just an expansion of the thermal plant setup itself - fairly simple and direct. And ready to go now.

    If the juice is turned to something like charged up fuel cells, the storage is automatic.

    And so forth. There is also the spread factor - start building now, by the time anyone is depending on them for base load there would be widespread sites under different clouds etc.
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    And ready to go now.
    Not really true and only demonstrated as anything close to affordable in the sunniest of places.

    There's a pretty good article for the general public about it here, that describes the cost, various problems, potential solutions and past to more testing.
    How to Use Solar Energy at Night: Scientific American

    It's tantilizingly close to a reasonable solution in the desert subtropics--it would suck in New York State and near most of the large temperate populations (e.g., New York, Seattle, Chicago, Louisville etc) and still require almost full capacity from another base-loading source. But if anything is true, it's that none of the renewables are going to work everywhere, and to get to even 50% renewable power will require a patch work of regionally optimized sources with enormous capacity to trunk energy across the country to balance the loads.
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    To kojax

    Your ever decreasing circle is not a reality. Every potential method of generating power economically, including solar energy, is being researched and developed right now. In due course, its potential will be realised.

    My support for nuclear power is based on the simple fact that it is ready to go right now, and economically, without dumping vast amounts of greenhouse gases. Solar may be the power of the future, but the future is not here yet.

    Solar energy, whether thermal or photovoltaic, will come in due course, perhaps in a decade or three. Presently, nuclear is a better choice, though the world is one of change, and we do not know what will be the best choice in 30, 40, or 50 years.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    To kojax

    Your ever decreasing circle is not a reality. Every potential method of generating power economically, including solar energy, is being researched and developed right now. In due course, its potential will be realised.
    The problem is it's not market driven. Imagine if nobody had ever built a cell phone until they could make one that fit in your pocket. Suppose everybody insisted on waiting instead for researchers drawing public funds to get around to refining the design first. I'd say there's a good chance we never would have gotten pocket sized cell phones.

    Market driven research is simply more ambitious research. The companies that refine cell phone designs today are desperately trying to edge each other out in order to lay claim to a greater percent of the market, and they know there's only one way to do it: out design their competitors. If it's government funded, then there's more politics. Unsuccessful research sometimes gets the same recurring funding as the successful variety. It's more about who you know, and less about what you can do.

    With a subsidy, we could artificially put solar tech into the marketable price range. It does absolute perfect zero to hurt the competitiveness. Totally zero. It just puts the tech in a marketable range so there's something for the competitors to fight about in the first place. Once they've got something to fight about, their desire to push each other out of the market motivates them to keep refining their tech, trying to get ahead of the other guys who also want shares of that market. It doesn't matter that the government is why they're able to knock the first few bucks off from their price tag. They're still just as driven to knock off the next few bucks after it.


    My support for nuclear power is based on the simple fact that it is ready to go right now, and economically, without dumping vast amounts of greenhouse gases. Solar may be the power of the future, but the future is not here yet.
    Except it's not positioned right in the public mind. If you don't have PR, you might as well not have anything at all. Your tech is worthless if the people are too afraid to let you build it, and changing an industry's image costs real money.

    Nobody is frightened of solar.
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    Let me propose the following scenario: Suppose present technology allowed a certain type of solar panel to be produced for $70/panel, but it customers would only find them valuable enough to purchase if the price were $50/panel. Suppose then the government enters into the picture and offers a $20 subsidy, bringing the available price down to $50/panel so there could be a market.

    Now, probably more than one company would decide to enter the picture at this point. There's a viable market out there, and industry leaders are likely to take notice. Let us suppose, for this scenario that 6 companies take interest. We'll call them companies A,B,C,D,E, and F.

    Now suppose the R&D department of company A approaches the CEO and tells him that they think it might be possible to bring the price of his company's solar panels down from $70 to $65 per panel, if he's willing to give them funding for a certain research project. Do you think he'd do it? By dropping the price of manufacture from $70 to $65, the government subsidy would bring his final sale price down to $45 per panel. He knows customers are willing to pay $50/panel, but.... if he keeps the price at $50, he'd have to share the market with 5 other competitors. By dropping his price down to $45, he can undercut them and get the whole market to himself.


    Do you see from this example how it is that a subsidy does absolutely nothing at all to hurt competitiveness?
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    Do you see from this example how it is that a subsidy does absolutely nothing at all to hurt competitiveness?
    No. You're example assumes all those competitors could get the same subsidy. The company, in your example would have inadvertently be picked by the government to win against the "new-fangle collector (NFC)" tech that's can't build at less than $55 per "panel"
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    Quote Originally Posted by lynx
    Not really true and only demonstrated as anything close to affordable in the sunniest of places.
    So build them in the sunniest of places. The US has hundreds of thousands of square miles of sunny places - much better than Andasol, which is low altitude and north of the best latitudes.

    Your link, to Andasol, is to older and fairly mature technology that was demonstrated twenty years ago and has been commercially operational since the early 2000s.

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    Every potential method of generating power economically, including solar energy, is being researched and developed right now. In due course, its potential will be realised.
    When solar power has received the same government subsidy as nuclear power, hundreds of billions and major changes in the law from now, we will be able to make a balanced choice as to "better".

    My support for nuclear power is based on the simple fact that it is ready to go right now, and economically, without dumping vast amounts of greenhouse gases. Solar may be the power of the future, but the future is not here yet.
    Nukes are a huge long term cost stream and semi-permanent hazard creation. They cost more to get rid of than they do to build. They are the worst choice of stopgap imaginable - we'd be better off turning the lights out four hours a day, if we hit trouble in the transition.

    The company, in your example would have inadvertently be picked by the government to win against the "new-fangle collector (NFC)" tech that's can't build at less than $55 per "panel"
    That is the situation currently benefiting nukes - their huge government subsidies and benefits, past and current, are not matched by all solar together, let alone any given form.

    This absence of market influence and correction is a large part of the explanation of how we got stuck with a statist boondoggle like nuclear power in the first place. The military/industrial complex loves nukes.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post

    The fact that the sun does not shine at night is not, by itself, sufficient reason to kill solar power, but it is a serious inconvenience. Either electricity must be generated at night by other means, or the solar energy must be stored. And we all know that storing and regenerating energy causes major energy losses, and hence raises energy prices.
    Yeah. If you want to support solar, you just have to recognize that the goal posts are further away than people keep saying they are. The tech is only sufficiently workable if it's accompanied by storage. And once we're looking at storage, all we're saving by building solar facilities is the fuel we would have burned in a natural gas plant, and some wear and tear on the machinery. We're not saving the cost of building the natural gas machinery.
    I thought one of the great advantages of user installed PV in sunny, hot places was that you could avoid building gas backup. The gas backup is only needed for maximum draw - and maximum draw in such places is mid to late afternoon as air conditioners are switched on / turned higher. The more people have PV, the less likely you are to need to switch on or connect to a backup source. Obviously as you get higher and higher penetration of user installed PV you have to consider how adequate generation is at other times. But very few places need to think about that for a good while yet.

    I might have missed it in the previous pages, but was there any reference to the fact that domestic or other end-point solar PV doesn't have to compete on wholesale power price. It only needs to be competitive against retail (or whatever price deal a non-domestic user has negotiated).
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    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post

    I thought one of the great advantages of user installed PV in sunny, hot places was that you could avoid building gas backup. The gas backup is only needed for maximum draw - and maximum draw in such places is mid to late afternoon as air conditioners are switched on / turned higher. The more people have PV, the less likely you are to need to switch on or connect to a backup source. Obviously as you get higher and higher penetration of user installed PV you have to consider how adequate generation is at other times. But very few places need to think about that for a good while yet.

    I might have missed it in the previous pages, but was there any reference to the fact that domestic or other end-point solar PV doesn't have to compete on wholesale power price. It only needs to be competitive against retail (or whatever price deal a non-domestic user has negotiated).
    This is all true, and there may be a niche where solar PV makes sense. However, it should not be discussed as a global alternative to other sources of power, or a way of avoiding nuclear waste disposal issues, etc.

    If solar can be used to avoid the construction of peaking plants for air conditioning loads, then it makes sense to compare against retail prices. In other cases, it could be less valuable than wholesale power because of its intermittent nature.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    Do you see from this example how it is that a subsidy does absolutely nothing at all to hurt competitiveness?
    No. You're example assumes all those competitors could get the same subsidy. The company, in your example would have inadvertently be picked by the government to win against the "new-fangle collector (NFC)" tech that's can't build at less than $55 per "panel"
    Well, there's the problem right there. We have a stupid government that won't give out uniform subsidies. That's not an economic or systemic problem, then. It's 100% pure politics, and correctable if enough people just write angry letters to their senators.

    All it takes is Congress passing a bill with a wording that reads something like "X amount per kwh per insolation" or something like that, so the only thing being rewarded is output, and uniform subsidization would be in effect.

    If you mean that different solar techs would get different subsidies, that doesn't really matter. As long multiple firms are competing to manufacture each technology to which a subsidy applies, and each being rewarded the same amount per unit, they'll compete against each other just as diligently for those markets with a subsidy as they would without it. (The only difference being that without it there would be no market to speak of and therefore no competition.)
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    All of this environmental controversy ariises from the our human growth syndrome, the instinctive impulse to grow as much and as far as possible. So, every year more human beings need more of everything, now 7 billion and counting. But our planet Earth is not growing, instead it is slowly shrinking with each volcano and earthquake. So we look for other living planets to colonize, but Mars is dead and Venus is broiling, and any others are in other solar systems too far away for physical humans to suffer weightlessness to reach. But the growth instinct is so strong, the very idea of stopping is infuriating to those whose livelihoods depend on a growing economy. But if we keep on dumping our growing tons of garbage, sludge, junk, chemical waste, smoke and fumes into growing mountains of landfill, up into the air and out into the ocean the biosphere will eventually collapse, the symptoms of which we see in the increasing number and violence of storms and floods and longer droughts, as the balance of Nature is disrupted by our determination to grow, hopefully forever. But there is no forever. There is only we mortal humans on this shrinking planet of limited resources. So what can we do to survive? -- 1. Safely recycle 100% of all human-generated waste products, and 2. Peacefully reduce the human population with family planning education.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ecopoet View Post
    All of this environmental controversy ariises from the our human growth syndrome, the instinctive impulse to grow as much and as far as possible. So, every year more human beings need more of everything, now 7 billion and counting. But our planet Earth is not growing, instead it is slowly shrinking with each volcano and earthquake. .
    Please discuss this with florian in the plate tectonics thread
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    And ready to go now.
    Not really true and only demonstrated as anything close to affordable in the sunniest of places.

    There's a pretty good article for the general public about it here, that describes the cost, various problems, potential solutions and past to more testing.
    How to Use Solar Energy at Night: Scientific American
    I like this part of the article:

    Quote Originally Posted by SA Article about Molten Salts


    Melting salts at temperatures above 435 degrees Fahrenheit (224 degrees Celsius), however, can deliver back as much as 93 percent of the energy, plus the salts are ubiquitous because of their application as fertilizers.
    The main problem, from what I can tell, is that it's not long term storage. If I understand correctly, you only get 93% efficiency if you use the heat from the salts in a short time frame after generating it. It's still really impressive.

    It would be a good idea to build industry that uses heat intensive processes nearby, because maybe then instead of converting the energy into electricity and then having them reconvert it to heat in their mills, perhaps some of that super-hot salt could be shipped to them directly while it's still hot and used without so much energy going to waste. It's nice thought anyway. IDK how practical.
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    I installed 8.4kw of grid-tie solar on my house in Bremerton, Wa... yes it works even with clouds. I installed 3kw of solar at a house in west texas, no I don't have to clean the panels... the wind takes care of that for me. Energy Storage? We are so far away from that being an issue... when it is google pumped storage to learn about solutions. There is also fly-wheel technology developed by beacon power. As "free-markerters" like to point out we won't have energy storage until we need energy storage. The key here is "GRID-TIE", let the utility worry about energy storage. When sufficient surplus is available they while find a way to store the energy... want proof, check out raccoon mountain which is operated by TVA. This isn't hypothetical, it works, it's scalable, we can have have built these plants. We can and should be 100% renewable, the fact that we've made so little progress is a disgrace.
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    Don't be so surprised about clouds. Here in a hot, sunny region we've been feeling a bit shamed that Germany should get more of its power from solar PV than we do. Turns out that high sun exposure has its own drawbacks. The efficiency of PV declines a bit when the panels get 'too hot' - whatever that temperature might be.

    So a region that is at a reasonable latitude can get good results from PV despite the casual observer thinking that they'd be better off in a sunnier, hotter area.
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    What is "reasonable" exactly?

    I mean, to an Alaskan native, "reasonable" might mean something quite different to most others, so...
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  30. #530  
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    Reasonable latitude? Seeing as people in Canada and Scotland and Sweden instal solar power, my back of the envelope estimate would be 55-60 degrees.

    With costs declining so rapidly, it will become much more affordable to instal the larger panel arrays you might need in these locations. As for nearer the poles, you have to remember that total insolation during Arctic summer is massive. If solar gets cheap enough it may, eventually, be worthwhile to have solar just for summer power at 70 degrees or more.
    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
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    Great. So we can use it to power greenhouses to grow food all winter. And you were worried we would run out of groceries on another thread!
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    I'm not worried about running out of 'groceries' - I live on a suburban block and I can grow all the veg and fruit and chook eggs I want. But most of the world uses grain for a great part of their diet. And grain has the great advantage over many other foodstuffs in that it needs little to no processing for long storage times.

    Solar Greenhouses in Ladakh « Climate Denial Crock of the Week Perhaps this is the kind of thing you have in mind for high altitude/ high latitude veg growing. Much more seasonal with no winter sunlight in the Arctic, but valuable for summer nevertheless.
    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
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    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    I'm not worried about running out of 'groceries' - I live on a suburban block and I can grow all the veg and fruit and chook eggs I want. But most of the world uses grain for a great part of their diet. And grain has the great advantage over many other foodstuffs in that it needs little to no processing for long storage times.

    Solar Greenhouses in Ladakh « Climate Denial Crock of the Week Perhaps this is the kind of thing you have in mind for high altitude/ high latitude veg growing. Much more seasonal with no winter sunlight in the Arctic, but valuable for summer nevertheless.
    Sweetie, I said "groceries" when I MEANT "food", my bad. Not a whole lot of grain being grown there, as far as I can see- but think of how much these folks can save on PLASTIC if we just keep pumping out that CO2, baby!

    I mean, if small greenhouses are good, big ones must be better, right? And what is bigger than this planet? Nothing in a 1 AU radius, that's what.
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    Growing grain at high altitude is possible, of course, at least maize- and potatoes too. The Incas did it- without plastic.
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    Quote Originally Posted by arthur
    I mean, if small greenhouses are good, big ones must be better, right?
    Wrong.
    but think of how much these folks can save on PLASTIC if we just keep pumping out that CO2, baby!
    They will probably lose much of their water supply.
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    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by arthur
    I mean, if small greenhouses are good, big ones must be better, right?
    Wrong.
    but think of how much these folks can save on PLASTIC if we just keep pumping out that CO2, baby!
    They will probably lose much of their water supply.
    Really? Why?

    Why the hell do people build greenhouses? To extend the growing season. Greenhouse effect should do the same thing for the whole planet, theoretically. Should put more water vapor into the air, too, based on my personal experience with greenhouses. More evaporation, more condensation where it's cold, like your mountaintops, which is where these folks are.

    Seems kinda silly to argue the greenhouse effect is BAD by using- greenhouses.

    Anyhow, I didn't see these folks making or using solar panels, so...?
    Last edited by Arthur Angler; January 11th, 2012 at 01:56 AM.
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  37. #537  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arthur Angler View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by arthur
    I mean, if small greenhouses are good, big ones must be better, right?
    Wrong.
    but think of how much these folks can save on PLASTIC if we just keep pumping out that CO2, baby!
    They will probably lose much of their water supply.
    Really? Why?

    Why the hell do people build greenhouses? To extend the growing season. Greenhouse effect should do the same thing for the whole planet, theoretically. Should put more water vapor into the air, too, based on my personal experience with greenhouses. More evaporation, more condensation where it's cold, like your mountaintops, which is where these folks are.

    Seems kinda silly to argue the greenhouse effect is BAD by using- greenhouses.

    Anyhow, I didn't see these folks making or using solar panels, so...?
    It's not unlikely that there would be a positive side effect in that. Just think of the Dinosaurs. Clearly the world they lived in was lush with vegetation, or they wouldn't have been able to eat enough to live.

    The trouble is if it happens fast (and by "fast" I mean not over millions of years.) If it happens fast the ecosystem won't have time to adapt. Eventually it will sort itself out, but by "eventually" I mean like 10,000 years from now. Do you want to wait that long?
    Some clocks are only right twice a day, but they are still right when they are right.
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    Quote Originally Posted by arthur
    They will probably lose much of their water supply.

    Really? Why?

    Why the hell do people build greenhouses? To extend the growing season. Greenhouse effect should do the same thing for the whole planet, theoretically. Should put more water vapor into the air, too, based on my personal experience with greenhouses. More evaporation, more condensation where it's cold, like your mountaintops, which is where these folks are
    Ladakh is desert, essentially - in the rain shadows of the highest mountain ranges on earth. It gets its water from snowmelt and glacier melt. As the source snow depth decreases and the glaciers melt back, the summer water supply for Ladakh will dwindle.

    This is so well known that a project to create artificial glaciers is now underway in the region.

    Meanwhile and on the other hand, they are due to get more floods and such in the off seasons - as the winter precipitation falls as rain, and large volumes of ice melt more quickly than normal. There is pleny of sunshine in Ladakh - latitude about North Carolina, clear skies of very thin air.
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    Daily dose of lithium humor:xkcd: Lithium Batteries
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    Surplus energy aside has anyone worked out whether or not a solar farm can produce enough energy within its lifetime to reconstruct itself without dependancy on fossil fuels (eg solar powered steel plants/rare earth mines etc). Obviously any solar panel parts dependant on fossil fuels like plastics would need a "solar produced" counterpart to qualify.
    Seems an easy oversight to make to confuse the solar panel's "current economic cost" valued against all goods and services in a world where cheap non renewable energy is at its peak of exploitation, with their "long term economic costs" against the energy needs of producing another plant in a world without fossil fuels.

    Would be interesting to approximate what rate of energy efficiency the plant would need to run at to be self sustainable in that context and more useful than comparing it to all goods and services.
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    It's very tricky to do an energy balance for any form of power plant. Any study is very vulnerable to the slant of the author so it's important to take the base assumptions into consideration. I saw a study once claiming that it's more environmentally sound to drive than walk but the base assumption was that the calories for walking were coming from beef. That said... most studies, they are easy to find via google just search for solar energy payback, claim a 4 year balance of system energy payback. However, that is assuming 100% virgin materials and average solar insolation. Silicon solar panels are built of some of the easiest to recycle materials, aluminum and glass. PV cycle is an industry backed organization with the goal that degraded panels will see life again. A solar panels made from 60% - 70% recycled material would have a significantly shorter energy payback period especially considering how energy intensive aluminum manufacturing is. Solar Panels also have an extremely long life span. Schott solar recently commissioned an independent study of 60 panels that had been in service for 26 years. Seven panels were omitted due to damage but of the 53 remaining panels they averaged 92% of their original power... after 26 years. This is decades old manufacturing, modern panels are expected to degrade at only 0.1% - 0.2% per year. So after 30 years a modern panel should still be producing at 94%. The only point of degradation that solar panels suffer is at the electrical contacts. The silicon wafers do not deteriorate. Nearly 100% recyclable, 4 year energy payback, >30 year service life, no maintenance, whats not to love?
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    If I've understood correctly that payback is = the total amount of energy required to produce the plant itself, then it's difficult to believe they havent abandoned further research on them and started churning them out at full production. With a payback of 4 years everything considered, starting with 1000 panels and the presumption that all of the energy that they produce were to be spent on manufacuring new solar panels, within 60 years 32,768,000 panels would have been produced minus a percent or two to account for them aging. Now that's a good return on your investment!

    As it seems to be relatively easy for a backyard entrepeneur to cover the entire surface of the planet with solar panels within 50 years, presuming we had done that, what sort of efficiency would they have to run at to meet the expected energy needs of the planet in 2060? Presuming of course we didn't have any fossil fuels in the picture.
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    Quality solar panels need silver, which means, the Solar Industry has a ceiling, a limited, in its ability to produce and supply power. A limit, I will add, that it's already pretty close to reaching.

    in 2011 the Solar Industry used roughly 50 million ounces of silver, and if it was not for people selling their silver jewelry and silver scrap, a single solar panel might not have been built because the world already uses more silver each year than the worlds mines can and do produce.

    Solar panels are great for people that want to use them but, they cannot be used to supply power to the world, or to help drastically reduce the worlds energy needs, in any real significant way. They can and do supply some power to some communities in certain pockets and areas but, even the ability and capability to do that is not, and will not be, consistently possible to do in the future.

    If someone likes solar power and wants solar panels it might be smarter to get them sooner rather than later.
    Last edited by gonzales56; March 29th, 2012 at 01:59 PM.
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  44. #544  
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    Quote Originally Posted by gonzales56 View Post
    Quality solar panels need silver, which means, the Solar Industry has a ceiling, a limited, in its ability to produce and supply power. A limit, I will add, that it's already pretty close to reaching.
    It might not be that big a problem with copper based technologies coming out...
    Making Cheaper and More Efficient Solar Cells with Copper - CleanTechnica
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  45. #545  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by gonzales56 View Post
    Quality solar panels need silver, which means, the Solar Industry has a ceiling, a limited, in its ability to produce and supply power. A limit, I will add, that it's already pretty close to reaching.
    It might not be that big a problem with copper based technologies coming out...
    Making Cheaper and More Efficient Solar Cells with Copper - CleanTechnica
    Copper has been around and applied in solar cells as long as solar cells have been introduced and produced. There has always been a push to use copper instead of silver (and rightfully so) but, they are inefficient and do not last long even though, every few years, someone develops a copper cell that is silver free in a lab and claims they are slightly more efficient than all the other copper solar cells that came before it.

    The problem with copper and copper plated nickel is that it loves to leak, oxidize and corrode. It is easy to sit in a lab and spend years building a "functioning" cell or two out of copper by hand picking and perfectly assembling every piece and part but, it is another thing to have to ignore the quality of each individual copper and cooper-nickel wire and contacts, and the placement there of, going into each cell when one tries to manufacture these things.

    Copper loves to spit out electricity anywhere and everywhere (especially at contact points, on any scratches, crimps, bumps, etc.). Electricity will jump off copper like a frog will a hot plate. This is why copper and/or copper contacts tend not to be used in high end products or in applications that need to be extremely reliable.

    I also want to make a quick point about the "efficiency" statement made in the article you posted. When they wrote, "more efficient", they are being misleading (perhaps to get more hits). Cheaper to make with copper than silver, yes but, not more efficient than solar cells and solar power systems that use silver... The "more efficient" claim only refers to, and is referring to, copper vs. copper (in the lab or lab quality production).

    I hope they figure something out though. They are going to have to find a serious and real alternative to silver if solar power is going to be a significant player in future power production at affordable rates.
    Last edited by gonzales56; March 30th, 2012 at 04:12 AM.
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    My opinion is that these corporations that make them are in for the money, not the clean energy...I don't think they will ever be affordable
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  47. #547  
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    don't think they will ever be affordable
    I don't know where you live, but round here they're literally giving them away ..... as incentives when people get their roofs or other renovations done. And I don't know why they're not affordable. I've generated more than I've used in the few months since ours were installed. Making a profit so far.
    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
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  48. #548  
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    I'm the treasurer and Utilities manager for the NJAA:

    Experience the wonders of space at the New Jersey Astronomical Association

    We are investigating having solar panels installed to wind up with no net electric bill for the year (Last 12 momths $1522) , and to provide emergency power to prevent the pipes from freezing should we have an extended power failure in mid winter. We are at the end of a long power line, and since no one lives here, we are low priority, as we should be.

    We have had 2 companies come in. The first was a slick salesman who didn't listen to us; just sell, sell sell.

    The local company, who is building a solar powered office complex nearby was much better. He spent about an hour talking to us before we even went to the roof. He took measurements, examined the angles etc. Also invited me to visit their solar facility that has been built to power the offices. A question was raised at a Board of Governors meeting about heat dissipation after sunset (interesting question), and he said, come on down and we'll take some measurements. This is an issue, because we are an observatory with a 26" 4 1/2 ton scope

    Now waiting for a formal proposal; then we'll start arm twisting to hopefully have someone donate the startup funding.

    I'll post here now and then as things develop.
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