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  1. #1 solar power economics 
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    By how much should the price of solar panels drop for them to become viable alternative to coal fire power in places with abundant sunlight?


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    There is still a pretty large gap even when you look at PV solar panel cost averaged over it's lifetime. Solar PV power still cost 5x what wind cost and up to 10x what coal cost.


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    CSP however is going to be cheaper than PV and is expected to be competitve with natural gas, but it still has the major problem of cooling water availability to overcome.
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    Sorry, lost my decoder ring. What is CSP?
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    Quote Originally Posted by MeteorWayne
    Sorry, lost my decoder ring. What is CSP?
    Probably concentrated solar power.


    To the OP - You can learn a lot if you google the term "grid parity" in relation so solar.
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    I recently encountered a surprising statistic. Turns out that solar cell power carries a much heavier burden of human fatalities than nuclear, when measured as fatalities per terrawatt year of energy produced.

    The reason is simple. Lots of people fix their own solar cells to house roofs, and do so dangerously. Enough such 'home handymen' fall off ladders and kill themselves to make solar cell power much more dangerous than nuclear, as a percentage of energy output.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    I recently encountered a surprising statistic. Turns out that solar cell power carries a much heavier burden of human fatalities than nuclear, when measured as fatalities per terrawatt year of energy produced.

    The reason is simple. Lots of people fix their own solar cells to house roofs, and do so dangerously. Enough such 'home handymen' fall off ladders and kill themselves to make solar cell power much more dangerous than nuclear, as a percentage of energy output.
    More here: http://www.thescienceforum.com/viewt...=283179#283179
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  9. #8  
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    I think the opening post was thinking in terms of central power generation, not individual homeowner installations.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bunbury
    I think the opening post was thinking in terms of central power generation, not individual homeowner installations.
    actually I was thinking of both centralized and decentralized. I live in lebanon, we don't have a lot of empty land to host centralized solar panels but we get a lot of sun. So I was thinking of having solar panels on every roof top to generate as part of our electricity needs.


    As for the other posts, yeah right now solar power costs 10 times what coal costs. I have read on the internet an article that said that grid parity will be achieved in 5 years. I am wondering whether this is true.
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    Quote Originally Posted by shekib82
    As for the other posts, yeah right now solar power costs 10 times what coal costs.
    When you look at numbers like this, it is important to ask if they are including other costs in the calculation. If someone says that coal is 10 times cheaper than solar, they probably are looking at it in an overly simplistic way... something like cost to purchase a kilowatt hour, for example.

    However, that simplistic way of viewing the cost of coal misses a lot of other VERY important information.

    What about the costs to health? The impact to the climate? What about the costs to agriculture and wildlife, and the impact that has on feeding people? What about the costs to our water supply, and the wars it will inspire between people as drought becomes more common? In this context, coal is FAR more expensive than solar, and it is very important to keep that perspective when considering this subject.


    Remember... Rarely do those numbers represent the true cost of continued use of coal, so while they look good on paper, they fail when viewed in reality.
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    It sounds like a good idea. But your electricity comes from imported oil rather than coal doesn't it? So that ought to be the basis of your comparison.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bunbury
    It sounds like a good idea. But your electricity comes from imported oil rather than coal doesn't it? So that ought to be the basis of your comparison.
    Actually lebanon's electricity comes from fuel OIl and natural gas. I guess it makes sense to compare solar to that, but I don't think it will be much different than comparing it to coal. the figures are still on the side of the hydrocarbons.
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    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    Quote Originally Posted by shekib82
    As for the other posts, yeah right now solar power costs 10 times what coal costs.
    When you look at numbers like this, it is important to ask if they are including other costs in the calculation. If someone says that coal is 10 times cheaper than solar, they probably are looking at it in an overly simplistic way... something like cost to purchase a kilowatt hour, for example.

    However, that simplistic way of viewing the cost of coal misses a lot of other VERY important information.

    What about the costs to health? The impact to the climate? What about the costs to agriculture and wildlife, and the impact that has on feeding people? What about the costs to our water supply, and the wars it will inspire between people as drought becomes more common? In this context, coal is FAR more expensive than solar, and it is very important to keep that perspective when considering this subject.


    Remember... Rarely do those numbers represent the true cost of continued use of coal, so while they look good on paper, they fail when viewed in reality.

    That makes sense, but right now the world economies are not accounting for the cost of pollution. Once there is a global tax on carbon emissions then it would make sense to start taking this cost into account.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    I recently encountered a surprising statistic. Turns out that solar cell power carries a much heavier burden of human fatalities than nuclear, when measured as fatalities per terrawatt year of energy produced.

    The reason is simple. Lots of people fix their own solar cells to house roofs, and do so dangerously. Enough such 'home handymen' fall off ladders and kill themselves to make solar cell power much more dangerous than nuclear, as a percentage of energy output.
    At least those people perished trying to do something good for themselves and for the planet. What has nuclear power brought us that other energy sources can't provide (other than catastrophes)?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xfinity
    What has nuclear power brought us that other energy sources can't provide (other than catastrophes)?
    A very stable, reliable, energy dense source of power which can scale to meet the needs of our rapidly growing population and which does not fail when the sun stops shining, the wind stops blowing, or when batteries run out?
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    "solar cell power carries a much heavier burden of human fatalities than nuclear"
    You should say "temerous roof-top maintenance of anything without appropriate security measures" carries a much heavier burden of human fatalities than nuclear. How about the tens of thousands of "fossil-fuel" powered car accident fatalities compared to the few people who die in "electric" train accidents? :wink:


    (I expect many anti-solar and anti-electric transportation inuendo filled articles and think thank studies to be propagated in the next few years curtesy of fossil fuel interets.) :wink:
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  18. #17 Re: solar power economics 
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    Quote Originally Posted by shekib82
    By how much should the price of solar panels drop for them to become viable alternative to coal fire power in places with abundant sunlight?
    It strikes me that solar power is analogous to buying a house, whereas buying energy from the local power station is more analogous to renting.

    Equity.
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    I would think, in a hot area, peak sunlight availability would tend to coincide with peak usage of indoor Air conditioning.

    So if that's the area of consumption that we focus on, then we don't have to worry that the power won't be available when we need it. It's available exactly when we need it the most.
    Some clocks are only right twice a day, but they are still right when they are right.
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  20. #19 Re: solar power economics 
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    Quote Originally Posted by free radical
    Quote Originally Posted by shekib82
    By how much should the price of solar panels drop for them to become viable alternative to coal fire power in places with abundant sunlight?
    It strikes me that solar power is analogous to buying a house, whereas buying energy from the local power station is more analogous to renting.

    Equity.
    Yes, if your mortgage payment is several times more than the rent, and the house is worn out after 20 years.
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  21. #20  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xfinity
    What has nuclear power brought us that other energy sources can't provide (other than catastrophes)?
    Read here.

    http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/11/3...up-to-nuclear/

    The stand-out technology, from a cost perspective, is nuclear power. From the eight nuclear cost studies we reviewed (all published in the last decade, and adjusted to 2009 dollars), the median cost of electricity from current technology nuclear plants was just above new coal plants with no carbon price. Having the lowest carbon emissions of all the fit-for-service technologies, nuclear remains the cheapest solution at any carbon price. Importantly, it is the only fit-for-service baseload technology that can deliver the 2050 emission reduction targets.
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  22. #21 Re: solar power economics 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    Quote Originally Posted by free radical
    Quote Originally Posted by shekib82
    By how much should the price of solar panels drop for them to become viable alternative to coal fire power in places with abundant sunlight?
    It strikes me that solar power is analogous to buying a house, whereas buying energy from the local power station is more analogous to renting.

    Equity.
    Yes, if your mortgage payment is several times more than the rent, and the house is worn out after 20 years.
    Or, if the price of the rental is virtually guaranteed to continue climbing rapidly due to dwindling fossil fuels!

    Solar panels can last forty years. There are many sources that have analysed this feature. The bulk of the single - family - home -dwelling Americans live in houses that are far less than forty years old.

    You sound a bit closed-minded!
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  23. #22  
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    Actual generating costs are in the follwing Wiki reference : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cost_of...city_by_source

    If we translate these into American cents per kilowatt hour of electrical energy generated, we get :

    Thermal solar 25
    Solar cell 40
    Wind 15
    Hydroelectricity 12
    Nuclear 12
    Geothermal 11.5
    Coal 10
    Coal with carbon collecting 13
    Natural gas 8

    So we can see that solar cells are still way, way too expensive. Even wind power is marginal in terms of cost.
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    Depends on how it's calculated and also how efficient the cells are.
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  25. #24  
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    Actual generating costs are in the follwing Wiki reference : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cost_of...city_by_source

    If we translate these into American cents per kilowatt hour of electrical energy generated, we get :

    Thermal solar 25
    Solar cell 40
    Wind 15
    Hydroelectricity 12
    Nuclear 12
    Geothermal 11.5
    Coal 10
    Coal with carbon collecting 13
    Natural gas 8

    So we can see that solar cells are still way, way too expensive. Even wind power is marginal in terms of cost.
    thank youfor the link, which also says:

    This article has multiple issues. Please help improve it or discuss these issues on the talk page.
    It needs additional references or sources for verification. Tagged since March 2010.
    It may need reorganization to meet Wikipedia's quality standards. Tagged since October 2009.
    The reason I am sceptical of the quoted numbers is that solar panels are claimed to pay for themselves in under 20 years (some areas they pay for themselves in 7 or 8 years) and are guaranteed for 25 but can last as long as 40. Thus, is does not stand to reason that they are more expensive than paying a monthly rent for those forty years to the utilities.
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  26. #25  
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    Actual generating costs are in the follwing Wiki reference : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cost_of...city_by_source

    If we translate these into American cents per kilowatt hour of electrical energy generated, we get :

    Thermal solar 25
    Solar cell 40
    Wind 15
    Hydroelectricity 12
    Nuclear 12
    Geothermal 11.5
    Coal 10
    Coal with carbon collecting 13
    Natural gas 8

    So we can see that solar cells are still way, way too expensive. Even wind power is marginal in terms of cost.
    That calculation for Hydro power is definitely too high. How are you getting those numbers?

    Table 2 from the source lists hydro at $86.4/megawatt. The low to high is $58.5 to $121.4. The low number is probably local regions like mine, Portland Oregon. We actually pay more than we should because California is part of our regional demand. The high figure is probably places like Los Angeles were they convert the hydro-power to high tension DC, then down the Pacific Intertie and reconvert to AC. This is a costly process with high power losses.

    12 cents per kWatt is ridiculously high for a nominal figure to use with Hydropower.
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  27. #26  
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    Interesting.
    The changing nature of Wiki appears. Table 2 has been altered from the numbers I first wrote down. I guess this is an update.

    Calculating cost of electricity generation from this table, using averages, and rounding to the nearest whole number, we get costs in American cents per kilowatt hour, from most to least costly at :

    Solar thermal 31
    solar cell 21
    coal with carbon capture - 14
    standard coal 10
    nuclear 10
    geothermal 10
    wind 10
    hydroelectricity 9
    Natural gas 7
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    Solar looks a lot better like that.
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  29. #28  
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    Don't forget to read the fine print at the bottom of the page.
    The raw costs developed from the above analysis are only part of the picture in planning and costing a large modern power grid. Other considerations are the temporal load profile, i.e. how load varies second to second, minute to minute, hour to hour, month to month. To meet the varying load, generally a mix of plant options is needed, and the overall cost of providing this load is then important.
    In other words, to properly calculate the cost of wind or solar, you have to count the cost of the coal or nuclear plant you have to build to provide the reliable power to back it up. This is why they are not even considered "fit for service" in the link I posted previously.
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    According to this study done for Congress solar thermal is 100 dollars per MWh. PV is at 255. Pulverized coal with carbon capture and sequestration is 111.

    http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/RL34746.pdf

    You have to read the whole report for all the assumptions, and the comment made earlier in this thread that it depends on how you calculate it holds true. It certainly depends on whether or not you value carbon control.
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  31. #30  
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    Interesting.
    The changing nature of Wiki appears. Table 2 has been altered from the numbers I first wrote down. I guess this is an update.

    Calculating cost of electricity generation from this table, using averages, and rounding to the nearest whole number, we get costs in American cents per kilowatt hour, from most to least costly at :

    Solar thermal 31
    solar cell 21
    coal with carbon capture - 14
    standard coal 10
    nuclear 10
    geothermal 10
    wind 10
    hydroelectricity 9
    Natural gas 7
    How long ago was that? The report was updated in wiki to the 2010 report on March 19 this year, more than 5 weeks ago. Table 2 was added then.

    Also...

    Conventional coal should be rounded to 9, not 10.

    Here is a document that may prove useful:

    Annual Energy Outlook 2010
    With Projections to 2035
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  32. #31  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    Don't forget to read the fine print at the bottom of the page.
    The raw costs developed from the above analysis are only part of the picture in planning and costing a large modern power grid. Other considerations are the temporal load profile, i.e. how load varies second to second, minute to minute, hour to hour, month to month. To meet the varying load, generally a mix of plant options is needed, and the overall cost of providing this load is then important.
    In other words, to properly calculate the cost of wind or solar, you have to count the cost of the coal or nuclear plant you have to build to provide the reliable power to back it up. This is why they are not even considered "fit for service" in the link I posted previously.
    So, basically we're comparing:

    (Solar/Wind initial cost) + (Nuclear/Coal initial cost) - (Anticipated fuel savings from getting free energy sometimes)

    vs.

    Nuclear/Coal initial cost
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    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    Quote Originally Posted by Xfinity
    What has nuclear power brought us that other energy sources can't provide (other than catastrophes)?
    A very stable, reliable, energy dense source of power which can scale to meet the needs of our rapidly growing population and which does not fail when the sun stops shining, the wind stops blowing, or when batteries run out?
    I think, this guy is a spammer, who only wants to promote his commercial website. Note the equal names of the name and the link.
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  34. #33  
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    Don't forget to read the fine print at the bottom of the page.
    The raw costs developed from the above analysis are only part of the picture in planning and costing a large modern power grid. Other considerations are the temporal load profile, i.e. how load varies second to second, minute to minute, hour to hour, month to month. To meet the varying load, generally a mix of plant options is needed, and the overall cost of providing this load is then important.
    In other words, to properly calculate the cost of wind or solar, you have to count the cost of the coal or nuclear plant you have to build to provide the reliable power to back it up. This is why they are not even considered "fit for service" in the link I posted previously.
    So, basically we're comparing:

    (Solar/Wind initial cost) + (Nuclear/Coal initial cost) - (Anticipated fuel savings from getting free energy sometimes)

    That's probably a bit of an oversimplification, but that's the general idea. Actually if you look at that link I posted, there is a qualified option which involves solar plus gas. That is several times the cost of nuclear, and still involves burning fossil fuel.

    vs.

    Nuclear/Coal initial cost
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  35. #34  
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax

    So, basically we're comparing:

    (Solar/Wind initial cost) + (Nuclear/Coal initial cost) - (Anticipated fuel savings from getting free energy sometimes)

    vs.

    Nuclear/Coal initial cost
    In retrospect, there are a lot of ways that "/" symbol could be confusing.

    Meant.

    (Solar or Wind initial cost) + (Nuclear or Coal initial cost) - (Anticipated fuel savings from getting free energy)

    vs.

    (Nuclear or Coal initial cost)

    Using the "/" was a bit of a mistake.
    Some clocks are only right twice a day, but they are still right when they are right.
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  36. #35  
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    Quote Originally Posted by kojax

    So, basically we're comparing:

    (Solar/Wind initial cost) + (Nuclear/Coal initial cost) - (Anticipated fuel savings from getting free energy sometimes)

    vs.

    Nuclear/Coal initial cost
    In retrospect, there are a lot of ways that "/" symbol could be confusing.

    Meant.

    (Solar or Wind initial cost) + (Nuclear or Coal initial cost) - (Anticipated fuel savings from getting free energy)

    vs.

    (Nuclear or Coal initial cost)

    Using the "/" was a bit of a mistake.
    Don't forget to read the big print:

    The article Harold posted did NOT say solar is not fit for service. It said solar PV is not fit for service. Concentrating solar was included in the FFS group. As mentioned previously, CSP is more economical than PV, but has the major disadvantage of requiring large quantities of water. (A disadvantage it shares with coal and nuclear.)

    Another solar technology, concentrating PV, was not even considered. This has recently been demonstrated to have sunlight to electricity conversion efficiency of 42% in laboratory tests. Costs will come down and this technology can be applied in the desert southwest since it doesn't require water. One such facility is currently being built in the San Luis valley in Colorado alongside existing PV facilities.

    Further, why compare solar only with coal and nuclear? In California the backup is natural gas combined cycle which is cheaper, cleaner than coal without CCS (which is unproven technology by the way - see FutureGen.) and has rapid startup capability.

    Further still, why not look at solar as a way to unload existing coal plants rather than the other way round. This is currently being tested.

    I didn't see any discussion of government subsidies in the article about Australian power supplies - perhaps there are none, but it would be nice to know the basis of the cost comparison.
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  37. #36  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bunbury

    Further, why compare solar only with coal and nuclear? In California the backup is natural gas combined cycle which is cheaper, cleaner than coal without CCS (which is unproven technology by the way - see FutureGen.) and has rapid startup capability.
    Yeah. Rapid startup is pretty essential. Using coal as a base load to balance solar and wind doesn't really make a lot of sense when you consider how long it takes to fire up the boilers and get them working at peak efficiency. You'd seriously have to hope the weatherman was going to be right.

    Either we'd have to adhere to Murphy's law and run the coal plants every time there is even a faint chance of rain (or no wind), or there might be brownouts sometimes when the plant is offline anticipating sun that doesn't come out.
    Some clocks are only right twice a day, but they are still right when they are right.
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    Thermal solar is currently being produced at less than $.15 kwh, before taking externalized savings into account. That is in the early stages of implementation, before savings of scale and familiarity have been realized. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_thermal_energy

    Claims of as little as $.06 @kwh from newer setups remain to be vetted, but are clearly in range.

    Nuclear power costs are difficult to estimate, not only because the corporations that own the plants (and thus, the ratepayers) do not pay major fractions of them (heavy government subsidies, such as Obama's hundreds of millions in loan guarantees, are universal in the industry), or because the industry is so new that some major expenses (such as decommissioning costs) have yet to hit the account books, or because others pay for the damages from major accidents and other normally charged to the business costs, but also because the far flung externalities are so difficult to pin down.

    How much of the cost of the invasion of Iraq do we prorate into the costs of the nuclear power plants in the US, for example? The nuclear threat from Saddam that W&Co used to gin up the war was a fairly direct consequence of the calculated expansion of the nuclear power industry in the US, and clearly this kind of risk and associated expense is one of the costs of nuclear power generation, but the exact percentage of the trillions spent is hopelessly buried in the complexity of events.
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    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura

    How much of the cost of the invasion of Iraq do we prorate into the costs of the nuclear power plants in the US, for example? The nuclear threat from Saddam that W&Co used to gin up the war was a fairly direct consequence of the calculated expansion of the nuclear power industry in the US, and clearly this kind of risk and associated expense is one of the costs of nuclear power generation, but the exact percentage of the trillions spent is hopelessly buried in the complexity of events.
    On this statement I call bullsh!t.

    You cannot blame nuclear power for the idiocy of those who chose to attack Iraq.

    It is much more likely that 99% of the reason was oil.
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    Either we'd have to adhere to Murphy's law and run the coal plants every time there is even a faint chance of rain (or no wind), or there might be brownouts sometimes when the plant is offline anticipating sun that doesn't come out.
    It's actually not that difficult. There is limited amount of solar (or wind) power that can be integrated into the grid with minimal impact on the efficiency of conventional generators. This was discussed here a while back and I think the limit was around 15%. This will increase if/when smart grid is implemented.

    The DOE is studying all kinds of ways to integrate renewables into the grid, because they understand that we cannot go on forever the way we are. A lot of people are being employed doing this work.
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    At the end of the day, no one system of generating elecrtricity will be sufficient.

    We need as many different methods as possible. Excluding coal! Some nuclear, some wind, some solar, some hydroelectricity, some geothermal, some hot rock geothermal, some tidal, some ocean wave and so on.

    Anyone who advocates one method only is not advocating something beneficial.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    You cannot blame nuclear power for the idiocy of those who chose to attack Iraq.
    I can blame it for their ability to recruit an entire national army to do their bidding (and they were hardly idiots - they made billions, and stand to make billions more).

    The potential reality of Saddam's nuclear threat was the key motive and propaganda feature. We see this in Iran as well, where the nuclear threat causes untold hassle and very much larger expenses.

    Of course other issues come up - but some substantial fraction of the world's military expenses and troubles traces from the spread of nuclear technology via power programs.
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    paranoia.
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    There is a trend at the moment that the price of power and energy is rising, our electricity bills are also rising. But the actual cost of manufacturing the solar panels cost is getting lower and lower, so what can you say about this? That possibly solar will become one of the most cheapest and efficient ways to produce energy. And with the government rebates of solar panels at the moment, the consumer is only paying a small fraction of the cost. And an additional bonus is that the individual can make money back by selling excess power generated by your own solar installation back to the grid.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peterp
    There is a trend at the moment that the price of power and energy is rising, our electricity bills are also rising. But the actual cost of manufacturing the solar panels cost is getting lower and lower, so what can you say about this? That possibly solar will become one of the most cheapest and efficient ways to produce energy. And with the government rebates of solar panels at the moment, the consumer is only paying a small fraction of the cost. And an additional bonus is that the individual can make money back by selling excess power generated by your own solar installation back to the grid.
    Please show some examples of this with the numbers. I haven't seen any examples for the home, even for handymen who saved on labor, able to install PV panels and equipment for less than a 15 year payoff and that's in sunny places and included the government rebates. Also, unless something got changed recently, not every state allows sell back to the grid at the same price you pay.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura

    How much of the cost of the invasion of Iraq do we prorate into the costs of the nuclear power plants in the US, for example? The nuclear threat from Saddam that W&Co used to gin up the war was a fairly direct consequence of the calculated expansion of the nuclear power industry in the US, and clearly this kind of risk and associated expense is one of the costs of nuclear power generation, but the exact percentage of the trillions spent is hopelessly buried in the complexity of events.
    On this statement I call bullsh!t.

    You cannot blame nuclear power for the idiocy of those who chose to attack Iraq.

    It is much more likely that 99% of the reason was oil.
    Did you ever watch that James Bond movie "Gold Finger"?

    If you already own a substantial amount of a mineral resource, it's actually in your own best interests to destroy everyone else's supply if you can do so legally, because then the value of your supply of it goes up. It's like owning a stock and seeing its value suddenly skyrocket.

    People who already own oil have a vested interest in seeing to it that oil in general stays valuable, and that their own oil is the source everyone is buying from. Invading Iraq over nukes simultaneously created a fear of nuclear power, and shut down Iraq's oil fields. So....., who gave Bush Sr. a Job after he left office? How much influence do you think Bush Sr.'s employers would then have over Bush Jr.?
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    Hi, everyone. I'm new at this place so forgive me for any mistakes that i make. Has anyone ever considered who stands to lose the most if oil consumption suddenly dropped. The governments for one who tax the consumption whether it is used for transportation or heating. So the worst enemy of renewable energy sources are the governments. I've been reading through your discussion and had various thoughts and would like your opinion on some of them. For instance we are being bombarded by tera-watts of energy yearly, produced free of charge aren't there ways of manipulating that energy in everyday life, at home or industry wise?
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    For much the same reasons that commercial shipping no longer depends upon "free" energy from the wind, I imagine. Nature is capricious and does not care what our agenda might be. In fact Mother Nature is trying to kill us and has been since the origin of the species.

    Under the Darwinian hypothesis, Nature is perennially testing each organism to determine its "fitness" to survive, therefore it is illogical to depend on Nature for much. Irrigation canals, for example, were one of the earliest developments in agriculture, etc.

    I look forward to comments, naturally.

    Rereading your post, I do not think it at all far-fetched to imagine that "governments" could tax renewable energy or any other damned thing they wanted to, provided they could make a case for it being in the public interest to do so.
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    Quote Originally Posted by geokou
    Has anyone ever considered who stands to lose the most if oil consumption suddenly dropped. The governments for one who tax the consumption whether it is used for transportation or heating. So the worst enemy of renewable energy sources are the governments.
    Governments are not the worst enemy, at least not in general. Investors are. If the price of oil drops after you've bought it, that's like buying a stock and watching it fall. You better believe the people who currently own that commodity are going to fight tooth and nail to keep it from doing that.

    Oil rich countries like Saudi Arabia or Russia don't want to suddenly become poor. (I guess Russia isn't exactly oil "rich", but oil is still a lot of their economy.) Banks that have guaranteed loans against known oil reserves don't want to see those loans become uncollectable. All of these groups have funds available to spend on advertising, or buying up media outlets to preach the gospel of oil use to all of us who watch TV or listen to the radio.
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    Quote Originally Posted by geokou
    Hi, everyone. I'm new at this place so forgive me for any mistakes that i make. Has anyone ever considered who stands to lose the most if oil consumption suddenly dropped. The governments for one who tax the consumption whether it is used for transportation or heating. So the worst enemy of renewable energy sources are the governments.
    Governments are actually propping up renewable energy by subsidies and by mandating that electric utilities use renewable energy for certain percentages of the power produced.

    The problem is that renewable energy sources like solar and wind tend to be unreliable. People like to have their electric power on all day long.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    tend to be unreliable
    and are often poorly implemented, more as showy PR investments than serious generators. Certain failure when government brags about the huge embodied cost of a project.
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    Governments are actually propping up renewable energy by subsidies and by mandating that electric utilities use renewable energy for certain percentages of the power produced.
    China and Denmark are abandoning wind power subsidies, having used them to establish profitable domestic manufacturing industries. Now the Danes have built three wind turbine factories in Colorado, sending profits back to Denmark.

    The problem is that renewable energy sources like solar and wind tend to be unreliable. People like to have their electric power on all day long.
    It's currently feasible to integrate up to 15% wind and solar into grids without major issues. It's pretty clear that grid technologies will improve to the point where this figure becomes 30% if people are willing to make the investment.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    Governments are actually propping up renewable energy by subsidies...
    So, if I read you correctly, you're asserting tat renewables are finally enjoying some of the same benefits which the fossil fuel industry has experienced for years?


    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/04/business/04bptax.html
    an examination of the American tax code indicates that oil production is among the most heavily subsidized businesses, with tax breaks available at virtually every stage of the exploration and extraction process.

    According to the most recent study by the Congressional Budget Office, released in 2005, capital investments like oil field leases and drilling equipment are taxed at an effective rate of 9 percent, significantly lower than the overall rate of 25 percent for businesses in general and lower than virtually any other industry.

    And for many small and midsize oil companies, the tax on capital investments is so low that it is more than eliminated by var-ious credits. These companies’ returns on those investments are often higher after taxes than before.
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    I didn't realize the subsidy statistics were just for prospecting. It sounds so sinister when you think of the government giving subsidies to companies that run a diesel power plant or something, which is what a person might naturally conclude when they hear that oil is heavily subsidized (and apparently the wrong conclusion). If the subsidies are just for prospecting, then I can't imagine the government has to grant them all too often. How much of that still even happens in the continental USA?
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    They are calling a tax break a subsidy. The oil industry is still paying taxes. What is the tax revenue from renewables?
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    At the extreme, if whole landscapes were covered with massive numbers of solar cell panels absorbing sunlight, do you think that would begin to affect the weather? Maybe create some global cooling due to portions of the spectrum being absorbed and not turned into heat?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    What is the tax revenue from renewables?
    According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, wind energy provides 10 times more local tax revenue than a coal-fired power plant in Colorado. I am still looking for the source of this statistic. As of now it is hearsay as far as I'm concerned, but I'll post the source if and when I find it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    At the extreme, if whole landscapes were covered with massive numbers of solar cell panels absorbing sunlight, do you think that would begin to affect the weather? Maybe create some global cooling due to portions of the spectrum being absorbed and not turned into heat?
    All of the collected energy is returned as heat, either at the point of collection, where the power losses happen as it's moved and where the energy is used.
    If a large area is covered there would be some local effects from changes from what was there before. For example replacing a grassy field probably reflected less light perhaps evaporated more water etc.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    At the extreme, if whole landscapes were covered with massive numbers of solar cell panels absorbing sunlight, do you think that would begin to affect the weather? Maybe create some global cooling due to portions of the spectrum being absorbed and not turned into heat?
    All of the collected energy is returned as heat, either at the point of collection, where the power losses happen as it's moved and where the energy is used.
    If a large area is covered there would be some local effects from changes from what was there before. For example replacing a grassy field probably reflected less light perhaps evaporated more water etc.
    And bet bottom dollar environmentalists would oppose it, as they oppose dams, wind energy installations and damned near everything else, militant obstructionists that they are.


    (This post has very little to do with the thread and exaggerates things; there's very little militancy, as in blowing stuff up, in the US by environmental groups...Lynx)
    Last edited by Lynx_Fox; August 8th, 2011 at 09:36 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by inow View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by shekib82
    As for the other posts, yeah right now solar power costs 10 times what coal costs.
    When you look at numbers like this, it is important to ask if they are including other costs in the calculation. If someone says that coal is 10 times cheaper than solar, they probably are looking at it in an overly simplistic way... something like cost to purchase a kilowatt hour, for example.

    However, that simplistic way of viewing the cost of coal misses a lot of other VERY important information.

    What about the costs to health? The impact to the climate? What about the costs to agriculture and wildlife, and the impact that has on feeding people? What about the costs to our water supply, and the wars it will inspire between people as drought becomes more common? In this context, coal is FAR more expensive than solar, and it is very important to keep that perspective when considering this subject.


    Remember... Rarely do those numbers represent the true cost of continued use of coal, so while they look good on paper, they fail when viewed in reality.
    Funny how this argument is always advanced by environmentalists regarding the generation of electricity, and never applied to the production of alcoholic beverages, firearms, or automobiles, to name a few. Guess those "hidden costs" are already factored in, right, inow?

    Including imaginary costs, good- coal will deplete the vast herds of noble unicorns and cost us the endless supply of unicorn milk vital to our
    children's health! Who can put a price on THAT, big brains indeed!
    Last edited by The Finger Prince; August 8th, 2011 at 03:11 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Finger Prince View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by inow View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by shekib82
    As for the other posts, yeah right now solar power costs 10 times what coal costs.
    When you look at numbers like this, it is important to ask if they are including other costs in the calculation. If someone says that coal is 10 times cheaper than solar, they probably are looking at it in an overly simplistic way... something like cost to purchase a kilowatt hour, for example.

    However, that simplistic way of viewing the cost of coal misses a lot of other VERY important information.

    What about the costs to health? The impact to the climate? What about the costs to agriculture and wildlife, and the impact that has on feeding people? What about the costs to our water supply, and the wars it will inspire between people as drought becomes more common? In this context, coal is FAR more expensive than solar, and it is very important to keep that perspective when considering this subject.


    Remember... Rarely do those numbers represent the true cost of continued use of coal, so while they look good on paper, they fail when viewed in reality.
    Funny how this argument is always advanced by environmentalists regarding the generation of electricity, and never applied to the production of alcoholic beverages, firearms, or automobiles, to name a few. Guess those "hidden costs" are already factored in, right, inow?
    Actually those types of cost are frequently considered....for alcohol. (e.g. for alcohol, Health Care Costs of Alcohol)

    Including imaginary costs, good- coal will deplete the vast herds of noble unicorns and cost us the endless supply of unicorn milk vital to our
    children's health! Who can put a price on THAT, big brains indeed!
    This is an unnecessarily sarcastic note. Furthermore you don't even try to refute any of Inow's specific observations about additional costs to health, agriculture, wildlife, water supply, and the drought produced wars.

    Finger Prince your post content quality is below the standards of this forum. Make a serious attempt to engage in serious scientific discussion or find another forum.
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    Yes, are costs for all these things but apart from tobacco settlement no serious effort made to actually factor in to cost paid by consumers in systematic or rational way- even for tobacco, rationality could be disputed. Who is in charge of counting "ACTUAL" cost? What are political implications- laissez faire capitalists are sure to object on ideological grounds as will others if experience is any guide- meanwhile industrial society requires electricity.(Edit: And good luck getting distilleries to pay for health costs of alcohol- as with firearms, responsibility for these is generally shifted to end user, who suffers anyway.)

    Solution is at hand, liquid flouride thorium fueled reactors. No carbon emissions, meltdown proof, minimal high grade nuclear byproducts and resistant to weapons proliferation.

    Also minimal physical footprint vs many square kilometers of mirrors for solar.

    To continue topic, economics of solar power: in a word, deplorable.

    Articles about Luz International Ltd - Los Angeles Times

    Fires, explosions, bankruptcies- these do not inspire confidence.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    At the extreme, if whole landscapes were covered with massive numbers of solar cell panels absorbing sunlight, do you think that would begin to affect the weather? Maybe create some global cooling due to portions of the spectrum being absorbed and not turned into heat?
    Energy above band gap threshold is wasted as heat with no additional power, energy below band gap generates no power, so, commercially, best way to go on terrestrial surface is use mirrors to use heat from across spectrum, with natural gas backup for cloudy days. Mirrors are washed maybe 25 times annually. Company goes bankrupt unless heavily subsidized, even so. Which brings us back to hidden cost question and where to draw line, Prince is thinking arbitrarily in at least some cases.
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    You're right about the band gaps, but using heat you run into the limitations of Carnot's law, which means you still have a very limited efficiency.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carnot's_theorem_(thermodynamics)
    .
    .

    Also, I don't see your point on tobacco and alcohol, since consumers make their own individual decisions, and thereby have to accept their own individual consequences. With coal power, it's all being absorbed by the group. One guy profits, and another guy can't use his tap water anymore, or has to buy a respirator.

    However the dirtiness isn't my chief objection to coal. I just don't think it is really cost effective. It's not like oil where you can just drill a pipe down into the well and start pumping. Coal actually requires hiring miners and mining each lump of it. Also, it's not useful for driving cars unless additional effort is made to get the right chemicals out of it.
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    Spain's Gemasolar Array is the World's First 24/7 Solar Power Plant! | Inhabitat - Green Design Will Save the World

    This design at least avoids using combustible therminol in favor of molten salts but fine print of article says heat is retained for 15 hours, not 24 as atated in headline. Couple of rainy days and too bad, Spaniards must do without. Want molten salts 24/7? Try THORIUM, Prince is suggesting. Interminably.
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Finger Prince View Post
    Yes, are costs for all these things but apart from tobacco settlement no serious effort made to actually factor in to cost paid by consumers in systematic or rational way- even for tobacco, rationality could be disputed.
    You're entire point is not only unsupported by you but also off point of this discussion.

    There are however studies of the "true" cost of coal.
    Full cost accounting for the life cycle of coal - Epstein - 2011 - Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences - Wiley Online Library
    "We estimate that the life cycle effects of coal and the waste stream generated are costing the U.S. public a third to over one-half of a trillion dollars annually. Many of these so-called externalities are, moreover, cumulative. Accounting for the damages conservatively doubles to triples the price of electricity from coal per kWh generated"

    --
    http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/...28366220110216
    "The United States' reliance on coal to generate almost half of its electricity, costs the economy about $345 billion a year in hidden expenses not borne by miners or utilities, including health problems in mining communities and pollution around power plants, a study found.

    Those costs would effectively triple the price of electricity produced by coal-fired plants, which are prevalent in part due to the their low cost of operation, the study led by a Harvard University researcher found."
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    You're right about the band gaps, but using heat you run into the limitations of Carnot's law, which means you still have a very limited efficiency.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carnot's_theorem_(thermodynamics)
    .
    .

    Also, I don't see your point on tobacco and alcohol, since consumers make their own individual decisions, and thereby have to accept their own individual consequences. With coal power, it's all being absorbed by the group. One guy profits, and another guy can't use his tap water anymore, or has to buy a respirator.

    However the dirtiness isn't my chief objection to coal. I just don't think it is really cost effective. It's not like oil where you can just drill a pipe down into the well and start pumping. Coal actually requires hiring miners and mining each lump of it. Also, it's not useful for driving cars unless additional effort is made to get the right chemicals out of it.
    YES, thermodynamic efficiency is greatest when difference between hot and cold sections of machine are greatest, making optimal location for solar power in space- mirrors to run hot section up to melting point of tungsten or thereabouts and radiator in shade of mirror approaching absolute zero, subject to limitations of working fluid. Terrestrial clouds and dust not a factor, no night in orbit, only brief periods of shadow in proximity to planet.

    "True cost" for coal opens can of worms which would enrich generations of lawyers, who pays and who receives, how much, blah, blah, blah. Also do not forget that alcoholism is a disease and people who take medications in good faith but suffer bad outcomes routinely collect large sums in class action lawsuits. Warnings did not save tobacco companies from paying out same, yet Federal government still subsidizes production of this noxious weed, please contradict Prince if he is mercifully wrong about this. Extracting motor fuel and elastomers from coal is proven mature technology, WWII vintage.

    Finally, coal miners Down Under seem more worried about NUCLEAR than solar rivalry:

    http://depletedcranium.com/nuclear-i...s-coal-miners/

    Nevermind that it will save them from black lung, etc. Pity of it is they don't realize there would be jobs in THORIUM mining, since Australia has vast reserves.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by The Finger Prince View Post
    Yes, are costs for all these things but apart from tobacco settlement no serious effort made to actually factor in to cost paid by consumers in systematic or rational way- even for tobacco, rationality could be disputed.
    You're entire point is not only unsupported by you but also off point of this discussion.

    There are however studies of the "true" cost of coal.
    Full cost accounting for the life cycle of coal - Epstein - 2011 - Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences - Wiley Online Library
    "We estimate that the life cycle effects of coal and the waste stream generated are costing the U.S. public a third to over one-half of a trillion dollars annually. Many of these so-called externalities are, moreover, cumulative. Accounting for the damages conservatively doubles to triples the price of electricity from coal per kWh generated"

    --
    Coal's hidden costs top $345 billion in U.S.-study | Reuters
    "The United States' reliance on coal to generate almost half of its electricity, costs the economy about $345 billion a year in hidden expenses not borne by miners or utilities, including health problems in mining communities and pollution around power plants, a study found.

    Those costs would effectively triple the price of electricity produced by coal-fired plants, which are prevalent in part due to the their low cost of operation, the study led by a Harvard University researcher found."
    Beg pardon, feline-canine, but it was dotcomrade inow who brought up issue of "true(or hidden) costs", a separate and worthy topic deserving of its own thread. Cursory inspection of trend of posts since then will reveal more in keeping with topic and fewer digressions LIKE THIS ONE.

    Incidentally, Prince has carefully considered your unsolicited advice regarding "sarcasm" and other verbal abuse and vows to do better- since you are no moral midget nor hypocrite, he expects others to return courtesy, and for policy to be most rigorously enforced. Also, Finger says hi.
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    Anyhow, this plan may work in sunny Spain, but Norway will be another proposition entirely, forgive the obvious observation. Solar is highly site-dependent, another disadvantage.

    Also of note is the fact this and related solar facilities are situated on flat land, which is generally advantageous for agriculture, and that mirrors require frequent washing, using water also needed for agriculture, arguably the most effective use of solar energy in the history of mankind.
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  70. #69 How to make PV and other altnerate energy sources more cost effective 
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    Granted, we need to move off of our dependency on fossil fuels as our sole life-operating resource. However, what we don't consider is the type of architecture we've evolved, and their insulation status, in over 50% of all buildings in the U.S. and near 80% in the world. When we realize that up to 50% of its total energy generated in a building is lost through windows, regardless of the energy source.

    Windows, whether single, double, double-e or triple pane will lose from 84-72%, respectively, of its heat (during winter months) and allow approximately the same degree of heat penetration (during summer months) resulting in higher cooling and heating energy required.

    So, if we were to first focus on "sealing the envelope" - insulating windows, as well as walls, ceiling, floor - we will reduce our energy requirement by up to 50%. This means that our overall energy-generating requirement could be reduced by 20-40% resulting in a smaller PV or other alternate energy solution.

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    Last edited by Lynx_Fox; August 16th, 2011 at 05:21 PM.
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    I wonder if increased focus on insulation could be accomplished by changing the way energy costs are billed. Like, charge all customers the normal price up to a certain monthly limit, but after they reach that imit if a single customer continues to use up energy in excess of that, maybe that customer would start having to pay more per kilowatt hour consumed? It would be like how you pay workers overtime if you require them to work more than 40 hours a week. Maybe the limit could be based on the size of the building, just to be fair.

    That would create a strong economic incentive for building owners to insulate their buildings, so as to avoid runaway energy costs.



    Quote Originally Posted by The Finger Prince View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    At the extreme, if whole landscapes were covered with massive numbers of solar cell panels absorbing sunlight, do you think that would begin to affect the weather? Maybe create some global cooling due to portions of the spectrum being absorbed and not turned into heat?
    All of the collected energy is returned as heat, either at the point of collection, where the power losses happen as it's moved and where the energy is used.
    If a large area is covered there would be some local effects from changes from what was there before. For example replacing a grassy field probably reflected less light perhaps evaporated more water etc.
    And bet bottom dollar environmentalists would oppose it, as they oppose dams, wind energy installations and damned near everything else, militant obstructionists that they are.


    (This post has very little to do with the thread and exaggerates things; there's very little militancy, as in blowing stuff up, in the US by environmental groups...Lynx)
    I guess the word "militant" would take on a whole different meaning for someone who's actually seen combat.

    In the more broad sense of the word, there are are groups in Oregon such as the Sierra Club in Portland, who fight to do things like completely ending all logging in Oregon, even logging of new growth forests that have been replanted after previous loggings, because they're not content with existing legislation. Oregonian hippies will oppose just about anything for the sake of boredom, or to feel like they have a purpose.
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  72. #71  
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    I wonder if increased focus on insulation could be accomplished by changing the way energy costs are billed. Like, charge all customers the normal price up to a certain monthly limit, but after they reach that imit if a single customer continues to use up energy in excess of that, maybe that customer would start having to pay more per kilowatt hour consumed? It would be like how you pay workers overtime if you require them to work more than 40 hours a week. Maybe the limit could be based on the size of the building, just to be fair.

    That would create a strong economic incentive for building owners to insulate their buildings, so as to avoid runaway energy costs.
    that's sort of the way it works, but sometimes it's bass ackwards.

    If you actually examine your electric bill (depending on the state or country), rates increase in the summer over a set amount of kwh.

    However, in the winter, the more you use, the lower the rate.

    I know, it's wierd, but believe me, I track these things day by day and month by month. I'm not making this up.

    Edit: And oh, BTW, it makes a big difference whether you are a residential or a commercial customer. The Non-Profit I manage utilities for is considered a "commercial" customer, and the prices and thresholds for the rate changes mentioned above are far different. Guess who get's screwed in the process?

    Hint:::
    It ain't the businesses, who could do the most to change our waste and pollution.

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    Energy is much expensive in china, and it has a tendency to be building up. a few months ago, several hydro-power energy firms were slack at their work for the low energy price. which caused electricity shortage, putting a pressure on the government to rise up the electricity price. but ended in failure.

    actually, the price is very high(1.00RMB/Kwh), but the benefit allocation along the energy distribution chain is not fair, some benefit chain node have more, whereas some less. so less benefit workers or firms began to let out their resentment to our ordinary people and also the government, it is really an abnormal society.

    everybody is money-oriented, every firm is money-oriented, the whole society is money-oriented, pathetic!!!!!!!!!!!


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    Quote Originally Posted by Dable View Post
    Energy is much expensive in china, and it has a tendency to be building up. a few months ago, several hydro-power energy firms were slack at their work for the low energy price. which caused electricity shortage, putting a pressure on the government to rise up the electricity price. but ended in failure.

    actually, the price is very high(1.00RMB/Kwh),



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    That's less than what I pay here in the US, but I am in one of the more expensive areas.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dable View Post

    actually, the price is very high(1.00RMB/Kwh)


    I guess that's what China gets for trying to peg it's currency to a 8 to 1 exchange rate with the US dollar. Sure it allows them to export goods into our phat consumer market at a good price, but since oil is traded in USD, ...... that just makes fossil fuels all the more expensive for them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Dable View Post

    actually, the price is very high(1.00RMB/Kwh)


    I guess that's what China gets for trying to peg it's currency to a 8 to 1 exchange rate with the US dollar. Sure it allows them to export goods into our phat consumer market at a good price, but since oil is traded in USD, ...... that just makes fossil fuels all the more expensive for them.

    Renminbi - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Current exchange rate is about 6.4:1
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  77. #76  
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    Quote Originally Posted by MeteorWayne View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Dable View Post

    actually, the price is very high(1.00RMB/Kwh)


    I guess that's what China gets for trying to peg it's currency to a 8 to 1 exchange rate with the US dollar. Sure it allows them to export goods into our phat consumer market at a good price, but since oil is traded in USD, ...... that just makes fossil fuels all the more expensive for them.

    Renminbi - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Current exchange rate is about 6.4:1
    Yeah. The 8 to 1 peg (actually 8.27 to 1) was officially lifted in 2005, but it had been official policy for over 10 years at that time. (That's what they're paying the price for now.) They built most of their whole economy on an export strategy aimed at American markets, and now they can't afford the fuel to run their factories anyway.

    It's a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation for them. They have to maintain a tenuous balance. If they let the exchange rate get too low, then the effective sale price of Chinese made goods sold in the USA goes up. The Chinese workers still eek out a living, but from the perspective of Americans it looks like their wages are higher because they're making more USD per hour. If they let it get too high, then they have to find their own energy sources.

    Quote Originally Posted by wiki RMB
    For most of its early history, the RMB was pegged to the U.S. dollar at 2.46 yuan per USD (note: during the 1970s, it was appreciated until it reached 1.50 yuan per USD in 1980). When China's economy gradually opened in the 1980s, the RMB was devalued in order to improve the competitiveness of Chinese exports. Thus, the official RMB/USD exchange rate declined from 1.50 yuan in 1980 to 8.62 yuan by 1994 (lowest ever on the record). Improving current account balance during the latter half of the 1990s enabled the Chinese government to maintain a peg of 8.27 yuan per USD from 1997 to 2005.

    As of April 29, 2011, yuan's exchange rate at 6.49 to the U.S. dollar—its highest official level since a currency revaluation in 2005.[31] China's leaders raised the yuan to tame inflation, a step U.S. officials have pushed for years to help repair the massive trade deficit with China.
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    If the cost comparison is for Lebanon, there's no sense in bothering with nukes or coal. Another relevant modification would be comparing apples to apples - home installation, and independence from an unreliable and much abused grid seems to be a desired feature. The relevant comparison might be between small diesel generators and PV panels, say - since we don't have home-installation CST setups, or even much research on them.

    Otherwise, Lebanon seems like a pretty good location for community thermal solar plants - the many benefits over fuel oil or natural gas would include lower security and military costs. To avoid the water problem, maybe some attention to Stirling generators?
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    When speaking of solar power, i think we have to differentiate between small scale devices, like solar panels, which everybody can mount on his roof top, and large scale devices, like CPS and Solar Thermal Updraft Towers. Comparing the cost of small scale devices to such of huge power plants IMO makes no sense at all.

    A good challenger to nuclear energy could be large Solar Thermal Updraft Towers, or CPS parks with hundreds of devices, only then will a cost comparison make sense.

    The Australian company ENVIROMISSION has started building a 200 MW Solar Updraft Tower in Arizona, funded with Californian money. The author of this article here (sorry it's in German), the famous German architect Jörg Schlaich, calculated electricity production cost to appr. 8 € cents per kWh, when building a device of this scale (appr. 800 m high), compared to coal at 6-7 € cents.

    However, when looking at the total resulting cost for society/mankind when using coal as an energy source, like carbon footprint, global warming, etc., it's most likely even today already cheaper. Problem of these beasts is that they only become truely efficient, if you are building them REALLY big :-D ..... . In the article he is mentioning another very important aspect, being that the bigger part of the investment cost is going to local companies for the erection of the tower, rather than into the pockets of huge companies building power plants, like AREVA from France for nuclear power plants. Once built, such a tower will have almost no operation cost at all, it will literally produce energy for centuries.

    The big DESERTEC organisation i was told is currently looking at models where poor North-African countries do lend their space for 99 years to Western investors, mainly in desert areas with a lot of sun and no population. Those erect large solar power plants there, and give 8% of the produced electric energy to the country providing the space. The rest is brought to Europe, using high voltage DC transmission. Needless to say, those African and Middle East countries with Oil are having no big interest doing so, but countries like Marokko, with a stable political situation since many years and no Oil, have.

    There are very interesting concepts of using solar energy on large scales, but i doubt that solar panels will be a viable option for such in a short to mid-term period of time .....

    Christian

    EDIT: I found a link for Jörg Schlaich's article in English language
    Last edited by ChristianHJW; August 19th, 2011 at 03:50 AM. Reason: Added LInk
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    Once built, such a tower will have almost no operation cost at all, it will literally produce energy for centuries
    .
    I think that's optimistic. The huge area of greenhouse glass will have to be cleaned on a regular basis, and the turbine will need maintenance.
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    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    If the cost comparison is for Lebanon, there's no sense in bothering with nukes or coal. Another relevant modification would be comparing apples to apples - home installation, and independence from an unreliable and much abused grid seems to be a desired feature. The relevant comparison might be between small diesel generators and PV panels, say - since we don't have home-installation CST setups, or even much research on them.

    Otherwise, Lebanon seems like a pretty good location for community thermal solar plants - the many benefits over fuel oil or natural gas would include lower security and military costs. To avoid the water problem, maybe some attention to Stirling generators?
    What water problem? It keeps coming up and I'm not seeing any high demand for water in thermal solar plants. The water and steam is self contained and based on my experience in the extremely dusty Southern Iraq where PV panels are all over the place, the cleaning requirements are pretty minimal.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    Once built, such a tower will have almost no operation cost at all, it will literally produce energy for centuries
    .
    I think that's optimistic. The huge area of greenhouse glass will have to be cleaned on a regular basis, and the turbine will need maintenance.
    If these images are accurate, then they don't always have to have glass.






    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_updraft_tower

    Probably the most practical way to build them would be on mountainsides, though, which is also one of the possibilitise that gets mentioned in the article. Then the structural materials don't have to be so strong.

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    Unabomber was an environmentalist terrorist, also various animal "rights" groups have used violence or arson in the past. "Monkeywrenching" or sabotage is also practiced, esteemed moderator. Spiking trees to destroy sawmills and injure workers is an example.

    Solar cell maker files for bankruptcy

    Returning to topic, recently leading US manufacturer of photovoltaic panels relocated to China following bankruptcy. Heavily subsidies fail to retain this industry, not encouraging. Solar thermal uses mirrors to heat fluid to drive turbogenerators, photovoltaic solar panels employ diodes by totally different means, it is wise to differentiate between the two.
    Last edited by The Finger Prince; August 20th, 2011 at 02:14 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Finger Prince View Post
    Unabomber was an environmentalist terrorist, also various animal "rights" groups have used violence or arson in the past. "Monkeywrenching" or sabotage is also practiced, esteemed moderator. Spiking trees to destroy sawmills and injure workers is an example.

    Solar cell maker files for bankruptcy

    Returning to topic, recently leading US manufacturer of photovoltaic panels relocated to China following bankruptcy. Heavily subsidies fail to retain this industry, not encouraging.
    Perhaps instead of returning to the topic, you should have just stayed with it in the first place.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChristianHJW View Post
    When speaking of solar power, i think we have to differentiate between small scale devices, like solar panels, which everybody can mount on his roof top, and large scale devices, like CPS and Solar Thermal Updraft Towers. Comparing the cost of small scale devices to such of huge power plants IMO makes no sense at all.

    A good challenger to nuclear energy could be large Solar Thermal Updraft Towers, or CPS parks with hundreds of devices, only then will a cost comparison make sense.

    The Australian company ENVIROMISSION has started building a 200 MW Solar Updraft Tower in Arizona, funded with Californian money. The author of this article here (sorry it's in German), the famous German architect Jörg Schlaich, calculated electricity production cost to appr. 8 € cents per kWh, when building a device of this scale (appr. 800 m high), compared to coal at 6-7 € cents.

    However, when looking at the total resulting cost for society/mankind when using coal as an energy source, like carbon footprint, global warming, etc., it's most likely even today already cheaper. Problem of these beasts is that they only become truely efficient, if you are building them REALLY big :-D ..... . In the article he is mentioning another very important aspect, being that the bigger part of the investment cost is going to local companies for the erection of the tower, rather than into the pockets of huge companies building power plants, like AREVA from France for nuclear power plants. Once built, such a tower will have almost no operation cost at all, it will literally produce energy for centuries.

    The big DESERTEC organisation i was told is currently looking at models where poor North-African countries do lend their space for 99 years to Western investors, mainly in desert areas with a lot of sun and no population. Those erect large solar power plants there, and give 8% of the produced electric energy to the country providing the space. The rest is brought to Europe, using high voltage DC transmission. Needless to say, those African and Middle East countries with Oil are having no big interest doing so, but countries like Marokko, with a stable political situation since many years and no Oil, have.

    There are very interesting concepts of using solar energy on large scales, but i doubt that solar panels will be a viable option for such in a short to mid-term period of time .....

    Christian

    EDIT: I found a link for Jörg Schlaich's article in English language
    This is 200 MW PEAK, average is more like 57 to 80 MW, depending on which source you find more credible. Until hailstorm comes along, when output may very well drop to zero. And did you mean Morocco? Generally AC transmission of high voltages is preferred on this planet, which one do you come from?

    Caveat emptor, dotcomrades.
    Last edited by The Finger Prince; August 20th, 2011 at 02:28 AM. Reason: Nitpicking.
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    Quote Originally Posted by MeteorWayne View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by The Finger Prince View Post
    Unabomber was an environmentalist terrorist, also various animal "rights" groups have used violence or arson in the past. "Monkeywrenching" or sabotage is also practiced, esteemed moderator. Spiking trees to destroy sawmills and injure workers is an example.

    Solar cell maker files for bankruptcy

    Returning to topic, recently leading US manufacturer of photovoltaic panels relocated to China following bankruptcy. Heavily subsidies fail to retain this industry, not encouraging.
    Perhaps instead of returning to the topic, you should have just stayed with it in the first place.
    Yes, dotcomrade, you are right, but same applies to all above deviation, not so? Your participation is most welcome- does it seem to you that the claims of "producing energy for centuries" are at all realistic? Yes, certain buildings have indeed stood for centuries, but to date none of them have been constructed primarily of GLASS, or does Prince err once more?
    The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding go out to meet it.- Thucydides
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    If the cost comparison is for Lebanon, there's no sense in bothering with nukes or coal. Another relevant modification would be comparing apples to apples - home installation, and independence from an unreliable and much abused grid seems to be a desired feature. The relevant comparison might be between small diesel generators and PV panels, say - since we don't have home-installation CST setups, or even much research on them.

    Otherwise, Lebanon seems like a pretty good location for community thermal solar plants - the many benefits over fuel oil or natural gas would include lower security and military costs. To avoid the water problem, maybe some attention to Stirling generators?
    What water problem? It keeps coming up and I'm not seeing any high demand for water in thermal solar plants. The water and steam is self contained and based on my experience in the extremely dusty Southern Iraq where PV panels are all over the place, the cleaning requirements are pretty minimal.
    Cleaning requirements minimal because output also minimal. It is standing to reason that light-powered devices will benefit from frequent removal of opaque material. If performance is still poor, well, Prince says nuke, nuke, nuke...
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  88. #87  
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Finger Prince View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by MeteorWayne View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by The Finger Prince View Post
    Unabomber was an environmentalist terrorist, also various animal "rights" groups have used violence or arson in the past. "Monkeywrenching" or sabotage is also practiced, esteemed moderator. Spiking trees to destroy sawmills and injure workers is an example.

    Solar cell maker files for bankruptcy

    Returning to topic, recently leading US manufacturer of photovoltaic panels relocated to China following bankruptcy. Heavily subsidies fail to retain this industry, not encouraging.
    Perhaps instead of returning to the topic, you should have just stayed with it in the first place.
    Yes, dotcomrade, you are right, but same applies to all above deviation, not so? Your participation is most welcome- does it seem to you that the claims of "producing energy for centuries" are at all realistic? Yes, certain buildings have indeed stood for centuries, but to date none of them have been constructed primarily of GLASS, or does Prince err once more?
    You are darn right he's correct. You're comment which brought up the Una-bomber, environmental terrorist, animal "rights" groups and spiked trees didn't even have a tangential relationship with a solar power thread. You're comments added nothing to the thread and are unwelcome here.
    --

    Your solar tower postings are good additions.
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  89. #88  
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Finger Prince View Post

    This is 200 MW PEAK, average is more like 57 to 80 MW, depending on which source you find more credible. Until hailstorm comes along, when output may very well drop to zero. And did you mean Morocco? Generally AC transmission of high voltages is preferred on this planet, which one do you come from?

    Caveat emptor, dotcomrades.
    Maybe Wild Cobra could add some light to that, but apparently long range transmission is usually high voltage DC. I don't fully understand why. I think it's because energy seeps out of an AC wire if it gets too long, in the form of radio waves.


    Quote Originally Posted by The Finger Prince View Post

    Yes, dotcomrade, you are right, but same applies to all above deviation, not so? Your participation is most welcome- does it seem to you that the claims of "producing energy for centuries" are at all realistic? Yes, certain buildings have indeed stood for centuries, but to date none of them have been constructed primarily of GLASS, or does Prince err once more?
    I think we have to assume there would be some maintenance involved. Also, I don't think the tower is made of glass.
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  90. #89  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by The Finger Prince View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by MeteorWayne View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by The Finger Prince View Post
    Unabomber was an environmentalist terrorist, also various animal "rights" groups have used violence or arson in the past. "Monkeywrenching" or sabotage is also practiced, esteemed moderator. Spiking trees to destroy sawmills and injure workers is an example.

    Solar cell maker files for bankruptcy

    Returning to topic, recently leading US manufacturer of photovoltaic panels relocated to China following bankruptcy. Heavily subsidies fail to retain this industry, not encouraging.
    Perhaps instead of returning to the topic, you should have just stayed with it in the first place.
    Yes, dotcomrade, you are right, but same applies to all above deviation, not so? Your participation is most welcome- does it seem to you that the claims of "producing energy for centuries" are at all realistic? Yes, certain buildings have indeed stood for centuries, but to date none of them have been constructed primarily of GLASS, or does Prince err once more?
    You are darn right he's correct. You're comment which brought up the Una-bomber, environmental terrorist, animal "rights" groups and spiked trees didn't even have a tangential relationship with a solar power thread. You're comments added nothing to the thread and are unwelcome here.
    --

    Your solar tower postings are good additions.
    Thank you esteemed moderator, Prince was responding to other comments on thread which likewise have no place here. For all their other failings, Prince has no knowledge of solar energy advocates resorting to terrorism, but this may in time be a different story.

    Our story so far regarding solar energy is mostly one of failure, this is the important thing to communicate.

    Large Solar Energy Projects

    Regretfully, Prince must contradict his friend kojax, citing the Wikipedia:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_power_distribution

    Also, whilst towers themselves may not be made of glass, vast expanses of landscape are covered by glass or other transparent material, allowing Sun to heat ground and air below, which rise in chimney like tower.

    Hopefully this post becomes more clarifying than otherwise. Goodwill to all plus accuracy!
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  91. #90  
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Finger Prince View Post


    Regretfully, Prince must contradict his friend kojax, citing the Wikipedia:

    Electric power distribution - Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaAlso, whilst towers themselves may not be made of glass, vast expanses of landscape are covered by glass or other transparent material, allowing Sun to heat ground and air below, which rise in chimney like tower.

    Hopefully this post becomes more clarifying than otherwise. Goodwill to all plus accuracy!
    I think you're confusing distribution with long range distribution. This is an example of what I'm talking about:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pacific_DC_Intertie

    I
    t's a long range power cable, from Northern Oregon down to Los Angeles California, and it uses high voltage DC.
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    @The Finger Prince: For long distance, low loss energy transport, high voltage DC is the preferred option. Most of the new off-shore wind parks in the Northern Sea are or will be connected by high voltage DC (German: HGÜ, Hochspannungs-Gleichstrom-Übertragung).

    You are right, rather than looking at the peak or average power, we should be looking at the yearly output of such a device. Schlaich is naming 1.500 GWh/a for a nominal 200 MW tower, resulting in 47,6 MW average over the year (day and night). However, please take into account that energy consumption will typically drop over night, and that this energy source will (of course) be working together with other renewable sources, like wind energy. Wind is typically blowing day and night, and i recently saw a statistics that Germany will, if we continue building all the planned projects, have enough wind capacity to cover the countries energy consumption in the hours between 10 PM and 6 AM with just wind power. However, as written in the article, thermal updraft power plants can be designed to also give energy during the night, by storing heat energy in water containers, if necessary.

    And Hailstorms are not a problem, the Spanish test site that was financed from the EU survived several of those just fine, in its almost 30 years lifetime.

    @Harold14370: You are right, but the cost for this is so marginal compared to the operational cost of a normal power plant, leave alone a nuclear plant, it's not even worth mentioning. ENVIROMISSION have designed a cleaning robot already that will automatically keep the complete area clean, can't remember the cycle it will be able to do, probably a month or so. The Spanish test site is also a good example here, there were no issues keeping the glass clean.

    @all: Sorry for being OT, but i thought it could make sense bringing a large scale alternative to solar panels to the table, as people were comparing electricity production cost of solar panels to such of normal power plants.
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    Quote Originally Posted by shekib82 View Post
    By how much should the price of solar panels drop for them to become viable alternative to coal fire power in places with abundant sunlight?
    "Abundant sunlight" can be seasonal thing- at poles sun shines very much half the year, not so much the rest, not so? Hint: In SPACE, are no seasons...
    The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding go out to meet it.- Thucydides
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by The Finger Prince View Post


    Regretfully, Prince must contradict his friend kojax, citing the Wikipedia:

    Electric power distribution - Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaAlso, whilst towers themselves may not be made of glass, vast expanses of landscape are covered by glass or other transparent material, allowing Sun to heat ground and air below, which rise in chimney like tower.

    Hopefully this post becomes more clarifying than otherwise. Goodwill to all plus accuracy!
    I think you're confusing distribution with long range distribution. This is an example of what I'm talking about:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pacific_DC_Intertie

    I
    t's a long range power cable, from Northern Oregon down to Los Angeles California, and it uses high voltage DC.
    Prince thanks his friend for clarification, Edison would appreciate such a development! More power to you all, dotcomrades!
    The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding go out to meet it.- Thucydides
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    Quote Originally Posted by shekib82 View Post
    By how much should the price of solar panels drop for them to become viable alternative to coal fire power in places with abundant sunlight?
    1) I do not know who them are. But to me the answer is simple, assuming we are discussing solar electricity. When the total cost (including maintenance, pollution, etc.) per kWh of one exceeds the cost of the other.

    2) The total cost of solar heating, as far as I know, is already smaller, in many regions on earth, than heating with coal or wood.
    .
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    Quote Originally Posted by kowalskil View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by shekib82 View Post
    By how much should the price of solar panels drop for them to become viable alternative to coal fire power in places with abundant sunlight?
    1) I do not know who them are. But to me the answer is simple, assuming we are discussing solar electricity. When the total cost (including maintenance, pollution, etc.) per kWh of one exceeds the cost of the other.

    2) The total cost of solar heating, as far as I know, is already smaller, in many regions on earth, than heating with coal or wood.
    .
    1.) Per kilowatt-hour solar is at a disadvantage right away because it is dependent upon clear daylight skies, preferably near the equator.

    2.) Total cost of solar heating is low compared to coal or wood EVERYWHERE on Earth, but is it effective? Some parts of planet get excess of such heating in season, eh, you get what you pay for.
    The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding go out to meet it.- Thucydides
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    1.) Per kilowatt-hour solar is at a disadvantage right away because it is dependent upon clear daylight skies, preferably near the equator.
    Coal is dependent on continent-scale industrial transport systems. Nukes require intercontinental ones.

    That the sun will shine, at reasonably well predicted intervals during the year, is a pretty reliable feature of our environment.

    2.) Total cost of solar heating is low compared to coal or wood EVERYWHERE on Earth, but is it effective?
    Without considerable technological innovation, nothing is effective at heating or cooling a modern city full of people.
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Finger Prince View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    At the extreme, if whole landscapes were covered with massive numbers of solar cell panels absorbing sunlight, do you think that would begin to affect the weather? Maybe create some global cooling due to portions of the spectrum being absorbed and not turned into heat?
    All of the collected energy is returned as heat, either at the point of collection, where the power losses happen as it's moved and where the energy is used.
    If a large area is covered there would be some local effects from changes from what was there before. For example replacing a grassy field probably reflected less light perhaps evaporated more water etc.
    And bet bottom dollar environmentalists would oppose it, as they oppose dams, wind energy installations and damned near everything else, militant obstructionists that they are.


    (This post has very little to do with the thread and exaggerates things; there's very little militancy, as in blowing stuff up, in the US by environmental groups...Lynx)
    True, the environmentally motivated terrorist Unabomber was not a member of any organized "group" endorsing such tactics- to clarify, Prince points out that solar requires large areas of land due to being inherently diffuse and that environmentalists have in the past demanded that such areas not populated or under cultivation be set aside in the interest of preserving wildlife habitat.
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    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    1.) Per kilowatt-hour solar is at a disadvantage right away because it is dependent upon clear daylight skies, preferably near the equator.
    Coal is dependent on continent-scale industrial transport systems. Nukes require intercontinental ones.

    That the sun will shine, at reasonably well predicted intervals during the year, is a pretty reliable feature of our environment.

    2.) Total cost of solar heating is low compared to coal or wood EVERYWHERE on Earth, but is it effective?
    Without considerable technological innovation, nothing is effective at heating or cooling a modern city full of people.
    Sun shines, in summer keeps Arizona plenty warm at no cost. Sun shines at same cost in Minnesota winter, less warm, is the point. "Reliable" is a relative term, perhaps reliably unreliable is more accurate, or even Zen-like. Prince takes exception to claim that "nukes" require intercontinental transportation systems as matter of necessity, is perfectly plausible to mine uranium in Canada and consume it to make power in same country. If Prince is not mistaken this is exactly what happens. Nuclear fuel is smaller volume for same output and, if anything, EASIER to transport than coal accordingly.
    The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding go out to meet it.- Thucydides
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bunbury View Post
    I think the opening post was thinking in terms of central power generation, not individual homeowner installations.
    I think you are correct. My own endeavours to get solar pv installed in the feudal economy around where i live is proving tricky. The details are here 1 mtb per child « newolder@microsoft but progress is slow...
    So it goes. Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
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    Yes, but central power generation is an application for which PV is unsuited. It is best for charging batteries in remote locations and not too much else, being diffuse and unreliable.
    The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding go out to meet it.- Thucydides
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