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peteshimmon
2012-Jul-13, 08:30 AM
I hear the UK has just passed 1 Gwatt of
installed solar panels! Yayyyyyy. Then I
hear that Germany installed 8 times as
much this last year. And has 25 Gwatts
total. Those goody goodies.

A Gwatt is a whole power station I suppose.
All that free energy! You know what I mean.
Must be much economic benefit to the germans
while we catch up.

Wonder how the power output drops off over
the years. 5-10% over ten years perhaps?

Antice
2012-Jul-13, 08:40 AM
I hear the UK has just passed 1 Gwatt of
installed solar panels! Yayyyyyy. Then I
hear that Germany installed 8 times as
much this last year. And has 25 Gwatts
total. Those goody goodies.

A Gwatt is a whole power station I suppose.
All that free energy! You know what I mean.
Must be much economic benefit to the germans
while we catch up.

Wonder how the power output drops off over
the years. 5-10% over ten years perhaps?

you should be more worried about the 100% drop in energy production every evening. solar only really produce at full power a tiny fraction of the time.

Just to put this into perspective. solar has never and will never replace any other power generating station. it just can't do it because it is not there most of the time. it's just being built as window dressing for coal and gas.

profloater
2012-Jul-13, 08:47 AM
Well that is a cynical if realistic view of the current state but I think it will not be too long before international solar gets going, with solar systems near the equator, probably heat traps running generators and distribution and storage technologies sorted out and delivering to Europe and North America. Of course it will not be free but it will be clean and serviceable. The major contribution would be a global grid. It is ambitious but I reckon it can be done.

Antice
2012-Jul-13, 09:04 AM
Well that is a cynical if realistic view of the current state but I think it will not be too long before international solar gets going, with solar systems near the equator, probably heat traps running generators and distribution and storage technologies sorted out and delivering to Europe and North America. Of course it will not be free but it will be clean and serviceable. The major contribution would be a global grid. It is ambitious but I reckon it can be done.

the claim that "insert renewable of choice here" will get going soon has been claimed for years and years. it's like the fusion claims. just another 20 years and we'l have managed to do it.
I no longer buy that kind of reasoning.
If one is serious about trying to mitigate increasing pollution problems (CO2 is only one factor here) then one must turn to technology that is known to already work and build as much as possible of that right away. I do not want to turn your thread into another nuclear power debate. we already have a couple of those.
But i can tell you. the inherent disadvantages with solar makes it a poor fit for solving the environmental issues we face. global super-grid or not.
Sheesh. a global grid would really be mindbogglingly expensive to build. we are not talking minor connections here. but multi TerraWatt transfer lines more or less crossing the entirety of the globe.
the cost on that would make the Apollo project seem downright cheap in comparison.

primummobile
2012-Jul-13, 09:46 AM
The problem with most renewable energy sources is that we have no good way to store the energy they convert. It needs to be converted to some type of fuel and at a faster pace than what we consume it. Hydrogen is one possibility, but we're really not very close to that.

We do not have the economic capability, nor the engineering knowledge, to build a global solar super grid with TW transmission lines.

profloater
2012-Jul-13, 09:49 AM
I have the same experience that solar is always just around the corner but at least the technology really is nearly there. The Spanish have been showing how heat collection and generation is more effective than PV. Flow battery technology promises high volume storage and high voltage DC lines offer next generation transmission. Mega costs means employing people, it's all wages really. I see the biggest obstacle to be international mistrust and short termism. Fusion might get there but its still a long way off, and of course a mixed energy economy is a good thing anyway.

profloater
2012-Jul-13, 09:52 AM
The problem with most renewable energy sources is that we have no good way to store the energy they convert. It needs to be converted to some type of fuel and at a faster pace than what we consume it. Hydrogen is one possibility, but we're really not very close to that.

We do not have the economic capability, nor the engineering knowledge, to build a global solar super grid with TW transmission lines. I would think flow battery technology will scale up to very large capacity in the next twenty years.

Ivan Viehoff
2012-Jul-13, 10:15 AM
Then I hear that Germany ... has 25 Gwatts total. Must be much economic benefit to the germans while we catch up.
I presume you are being ironic. The cost of that solar electricity to Germany is very large. The panel owners are subsidised with high feed-in tariffs, money for which is spread among electricity users, contributing to making German electricity some of the most expensive in the developed world.

They did actually achieve a peak output of 22GW one day in May, which was quite a chunky percentage of Germany's overall demand for that brief period. But overall the load factor I think is less than 10%. German wind turbines have a poor load factor too.

Just think how much more electricity they would have got for their investment if they had installed the panels the other side of the Alps - perhaps twice as much - and built some transmission capacity. In fact they wouldn't need so much transmission capacity because currently there are large net electricity flows in the other direction over the Alps into Italy, which this would set off, at least so long as the sun was shining.

Antice
2012-Jul-13, 10:43 AM
I have the same experience that solar is always just around the corner but at least the technology really is nearly there. The Spanish have been showing how heat collection and generation is more effective than PV. Flow battery technology promises high volume storage and high voltage DC lines offer next generation transmission. Mega costs means employing people, it's all wages really. I see the biggest obstacle to be international mistrust and short termism. Fusion might get there but its still a long way off, and of course a mixed energy economy is a good thing anyway.

Solar technology has not really improved all that much the last 10 years. it's gotten cheaper, and more sturdy perhaps, but not really any better power production wise. it is limited by physical constraints after all. we are already pretty close to these physical limits, so don't expect massive improvements to ever materialize either.
The main issue is and has always been the intermittent nature of the source.
Storage is only viable in limited amounts. if you need enough storage for multiple GW over several days worth then it becomes prohibitively expensive to do.

Now onto the employment argument. this is a variant of the broken window fallacy. someone has to actually pay for this make-work. the costs of this mega grid is taking resources away from other aspects of the economy. you cannot just print out money willy nilly and expect money to retain it's value. you would hyper inflate the economy into ground long before getting anywhere with that global super-grid. (ignoring any of the political issues with getting permission to build it in the first place ofc).

However. if we really wanted to get rid of our dependence on fossil fuels we would have to build a ton of energy infrastructure at any rate. but rather than waste money and time on building gigatonnes of wires and install invasive grid control systems (smartgrid) we should focus on building power-plants that deliver cheap power to their local area reliably and on demand.
The savings in grid infrastructure build-out can be used to increase the speed at witch we replace fossil fuels with synthetic ones for transport and industrial processes instead.

Antice
2012-Jul-13, 10:53 AM
I presume you are being ironic. The cost of that solar electricity to Germany is very large. The panel owners are subsidised with high feed-in tariffs, money for which is spread among electricity users, contributing to making German electricity some of the most expensive in the developed world.

They did actually achieve a peak output of 22GW one day in May, which was quite a chunky percentage of Germany's overall demand for that brief period. But overall the load factor I think is less than 10%. German wind turbines have a poor load factor too.

Just think how much more electricity they would have got for their investment if they had installed the panels the other side of the Alps - perhaps twice as much - and built some transmission capacity. In fact they wouldn't need so much transmission capacity because currently there are large net electricity flows in the other direction over the Alps into Italy, which this would set off, at least so long as the sun was shining.

That huge flow of electricity going south is due to italy's own flirt with solar power tho. adding more won't really help any. the entirety of Europe can actually be overcast for as long as an entire week at a time. capacity factors are poor at best. you'd have to move those arrays way down into the Sahara desert if you wanted them to perform while the clouds rule the skies in Europe. There is no high voltage grid connections from there to Germany at present, so that would be expensive. But yeah. Germany being where it is on the globe sure makes it a bad spot for solar.

I think i actually saw a limit analysis for a global grid somewhere some time ago. gonna try and find it again, but i distinctly do remember that even when global distribution is considered with real historical weather data you end up having entire days where none of the facilities produce more than 20% of their average output.
Gonna dig around and edit in a link here when i find it again.


ETA: Here it is: Linky (http://bravenewclimate.com/2011/10/29/gws-sg-es/)

primummobile
2012-Jul-13, 12:39 PM
I would think flow battery technology will scale up to very large capacity in the next twenty years.

We work with flow batteries now in some power grids to store excess generation for later use, and the steel mill my company is building right now actually incorporates a form of flow battery on the rotary furnace. I think we need to solve some intermediate problems, mostly that the batteries are overly complex and have a low energy density, before we can scale them to use on any kind of a global scale like this.

Twenty years sounds like a good timetable for that. Of course, twenty years is the timetable for everything in power generation and distribution.

On another note, about five years ago we installed fuel cell power on a residence. This was in southeastern Ohio, which isn't exactly a great solar power area. The engineering was performed by another division of the company I work for, but iirc they used a combination of wind and solar power to electrolyze water. The hydrogen was used to power the fuel cells and the oxygen gathered was stored and then sold. At the time, I think it cost somewhere around 250-300K to outfit one residence with this, and it still wasn't able to be completely self-sufficient. I wish I had more information about it because I think it's pretty interesting, but we sold that division of the company a few years ago and I don't know anyone who worked on the project. But I think it's indicative of the large hurdles we still face in making solar power a viable alternative to fossil fuels and nuclear power.

profloater
2012-Jul-13, 01:17 PM
very interesting that you have direct experience of flow batteries, I just read the conference papers! We can see the growth of electric vehicles which will load the grids and governments can use fiscal pressures to encourage more distribution. For the long term I guess hydrogen is a contender for flight although there is enough oil for that.

Antice
2012-Jul-13, 01:22 PM
very interesting that you have direct experience of flow batteries, I just read the conference papers! We can see the growth of electric vehicles which will load the grids and governments can use fiscal pressures to encourage more distribution. For the long term I guess hydrogen is a contender for flight although there is enough oil for that.

Hydrogen is such a nuisance to handle tho. has to be kept at cryogenic temperatures at all times and all that hassle. it may be worth it for flight if we get something like this (http://www.reactionengines.co.uk/lapcat.html). otherwise synthetic hydrocarbons will do fine. just need a nice stable source of high temp process heat to make em. (nuclear fits that role nicely as well)

aquitaine
2012-Jul-13, 01:44 PM
I hear the UK has just passed 1 Gwatt of
installed solar panels! Yayyyyyy. Then I
hear that Germany installed 8 times as
much this last year. And has 25 Gwatts
total. Those goody goodies.

A Gwatt is a whole power station I suppose.
All that free energy! You know what I mean.
Must be much economic benefit to the germans
while we catch up.

Wonder how the power output drops off over
the years. 5-10% over ten years perhaps?

Firstly divide those numbers by 3 or 4 and you'll get how much is really being produced. Secondly Germany's solar capacity is not benefiting the economy but rather is a huge drain on it. (http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/solar-subsidy-sinkhole-re-evaluating-germany-s-blind-faith-in-the-sun-a-809439.html)

In reality Germany is actually building more coal fired power plants than any other country in the world except China. They say its a stopgap, but seriously those things have a service life decades long. So instead of nukes they go with solar, wind............and considerably more fossil fuels.



Hydrogen is such a nuisance to handle tho. has to be kept at cryogenic temperatures at all times and all that hassle. it may be worth it for flight if we get something like this. otherwise synthetic hydrocarbons will do fine. just need a nice stable source of high temp process heat to make em. (nuclear fits that role nicely as well)

About the only area I can see hydrogen making sense is hypersonic spaceplanes/airplanes. Otherwise there's too many disadvantages to make it worthwhile.

djellison
2012-Jul-13, 02:56 PM
All that free energy!

What makes you think solar panels are free? What makes you think maintenance is free?

peteshimmon
2012-Jul-13, 03:51 PM
Well I said you know what I mean. The way
solar is being implimented means it is
reducing the power having to be generated
and supplied. So no super grid needed here.
We may be paying through the nose for
it but it is one of the ways the CO2 problem
is being tackled and we find where it leads.

Thanks for the link Antice, I appreciate
the detailed insights that are out there.

Common sense suggests that this "free energy"
is nontheless being used to some economic
benefit somewhere. Utilities have been juggling
supplies for the least cost since the industry
began. Just a continuation therefore!

primummobile
2012-Jul-13, 05:53 PM
Well I said you know what I mean. The way
solar is being implimented means it is
reducing the power having to be generated
and supplied. So no super grid needed here.
We may be paying through the nose for
it but it is one of the ways the CO2 problem
is being tackled and we find where it leads.

Thanks for the link Antice, I appreciate
the detailed insights that are out there.

Common sense suggests that this "free energy"
is nontheless being used to some economic
benefit somewhere. Utilities have been juggling
supplies for the least cost since the industry
began. Just a continuation therefore!

I'm not sure how this qualifies as "free". The source is free. The collection, distribution, and maintenance are far from free. We would need a world-wide grid because the far northern and southern latitudes can't get solar energy, and we're probably going to find that it is too inefficient to try this in much of the middle latitudes. That's the problem with something being free when it's not.

I'm not sure what you mean by utilities juggling supplies for the least cost. In any case, it would be incredibly irresponsible of them to not try to achieve what they do in the most cost-efficient manner possible. Conventional coal-fired plant construction costs can reach as high as $3500 per kilowatt of capacity. Solar energy equipment costs around $9000 per kilowatt of capacity, and that's not counting the extra trillions of dollars it would cost for changes to our distribution system, worldwide, that would be needed to make this viable. We can't measure the cost of solar power on a KWH basis like we do for fossil fuel power, but it really doesn't matter at this point because the set-up and distribution problems are very daunting. With worldwide daily energy consumption at around 15TW and climbing, we have a lot of work ahead of us and it is not even close to being free.

starcanuck64
2012-Jul-13, 06:13 PM
Would there be any advantage in building large solar power farms in desert regions that tend to ring the globe at around 30 degrees latitude I think? IIRC that's where the cooler dry air from the Hadley cells decends to the surface.

They tend to have clear weather and receive more direct sunlight than the more northerly or southerly regions, countries like Saudi Arabia could become solar power exporters instead of oil in the future. You would need to provide some sort of protection from extreme weather events like sand storms, and transmission lines to distant consumers.

Also for storing solar power would flywheel technology be appropriate?

Antice
2012-Jul-13, 07:14 PM
Would there be any advantage in building large solar power farms in desert regions that tend to ring the globe at around 30 degrees latitude I think? IIRC that's where the cooler dry air from the Hadley cells decends to the surface.

They tend to have clear weather and receive more direct sunlight than the more northerly or southerly regions, countries like Saudi Arabia could become solar power exporters instead of oil in the future. You would need to provide some sort of protection from extreme weather events like sand storms, and transmission lines to distant consumers.

Also for storing solar power would flywheel technology be appropriate?

It would make sense if transmission of power and maintenance was free. But as you yourself mentions. sandstorms is a big issue, but also counter intuitively enough, so is access to water. solar concentrating mirrors and solar cells need to be kept extremely clean to function. even a couple of micron thick layer of dust can cut their efficiency severely.
I'm not entirely certain that building big solar power arrays is even going to make any economic sense for the saudi arabians own use. those desert conditions are harsh on anything man made.

Flywheels is one interesting storage technology. one that has it's own set of advantages and dis advantages. one is cost. it takes a lot of mass to store energy in the form of movement. (kinetic) another is that flywheels are never going to be 100% friction less. that means that they are unsuited for longer term storage like a couple of days, rather they are well suited to help balance second to second variability. like pumped hydro it actually works better if you pair it with a reliable baseload generator like coal or nuclear. in that role the flywheel is used to smooth out ramping rates so that the base-load generators can run more evenly, and hence at a better overall efficiency. whenever a power-plant has to load follow rapidly, efficiency takes a major hit.

primummobile
2012-Jul-13, 07:33 PM
Would there be any advantage in building large solar power farms in desert regions that tend to ring the globe at around 30 degrees latitude I think? IIRC that's where the cooler dry air from the Hadley cells decends to the surface.

They tend to have clear weather and receive more direct sunlight than the more northerly or southerly regions, countries like Saudi Arabia could become solar power exporters instead of oil in the future. You would need to provide some sort of protection from extreme weather events like sand storms, and transmission lines to distant consumers.

Also for storing solar power would flywheel technology be appropriate?

Interesting question about the flywheel. You can find a little information about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grid_energy_storage#Flywheel

As you can see, they have a limited range of applications, and our current flywheel technology isn't up to this. We use flywheels more like capacitors than batteries.

As for building large solar farms at certain latitudes.... almost anything is possible in theory. But besides the difficulty of simply constructing such a system, there are also two other problems. One is that a lot of the countries in that area around the globe are pretty unstable. Concentrating world wide generation in a <relatively> small area as opposed to having generating facilities spread over the globe also gives terrorists a great target.

You also need to consider I^2R losses over the lines themselves. In order to minimize loss, we need to step up the voltage. But at voltage potentials around 1800KV or more between the transmission lines and ground, corona discharge losses become severe and that limits how much we can step up the voltage. Transmission conductors are mostly aluminum because better conductors are too expensive. Using conductors with a larger cross-sectional area will also make losses smaller, but that adds significant cost and weight to the system. Simply put, there is a limit to how far we can economically transmit electricity. I don't know how the distribution engineers calculate it, but the last I heard it was not economically feasible to transmit AC power more than 3000 miles from source to load. All of our transmission lines today are considerably shorter than that.

I think if we want to distribute power long distances it is going to have to be in the form of a fuel that can be easily moved. I'm a big fan of hydrogen, and would like to see more research in that direction, but there are people here who are way more knowledgable about that than what I am who are not fans of hydrogen.

aquitaine
2012-Jul-13, 09:02 PM
Well I said you know what I mean. The way
solar is being implimented means it is
reducing the power having to be generated
and supplied.

When economies grow they use more energy, when they are in recession they use less energy. So what you're talking about is basically a permanent recession.



Would there be any advantage in building large solar power farms in desert regions that tend to ring the globe at around 30 degrees latitude I think? IIRC that's where the cooler dry air from the Hadley cells decends to the surface.

They tend to have clear weather and receive more direct sunlight than the more northerly or southerly regions, countries like Saudi Arabia could become solar power exporters instead of oil in the future. You would need to provide some sort of protection from extreme weather events like sand storms, and transmission lines to distant consumers.

Also for storing solar power would flywheel technology be appropriate?


Which is basically taking an already uneconomical source of energy and making it more uneconomical. That reminds me of the "Sahara Solar" idea, which is thoroughly debunked here (http://depletedcranium.com/the-realities-of-sahara-solar-power/)

Ara Pacis
2012-Jul-13, 11:18 PM
Interesting question about the flywheel. You can find a little information about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grid_energy_storage#Flywheel

As you can see, they have a limited range of applications, and our current flywheel technology isn't up to this. We use flywheels more like capacitors than batteries.There are advances to be made, certainly, but flywheels may be better used at a smaller level, such as for neighborhoods or in each house, itself perhaps having a solar PV roof or panels placed elsewhere. An integrated solution can be widely distributed instead of centralized.

As for building large solar farms at certain latitudes....I'd expect them to do better in the summer with more sun-time, if the angle allows enough of the suitable wavelengths through. In the winter you know it won't operate, so put it in storage and go with something else, like nuclear, and use a combined Heat and Electricity solution to make it even more efficient.

primummobile
2012-Jul-13, 11:53 PM
There are advances to be made, certainly, but flywheels may be better used at a smaller level, such as for neighborhoods or in each house, itself perhaps having a solar PV roof or panels placed elsewhere. An integrated solution can be widely distributed instead of centralized.

That's pretty much how we use flywheels now. They are usually at the point of service. Where I said that we don't use flywheels all that differently than capacitors, it was meant to point out that they can't supply long-term power like a battery. In most applications, an electric motor turns the flywheel to get it up to speed and maintain that speed. An electric motor and a generator are basically the same thing. In fact, many motors can be used as generators. That's what happens in most flywheel systems. The kinetic energy of the flywheel turns the rotor of the motor which induces a voltage in the stator that can be used. The problem is that unless it is a very well designed and expensive system that kinetic energy is gone in seconds. The momentum of the flywheel makes it cost effective for the motor to keep it up to speed. But I've never seen a flywheel that can function as a secondary power source for anything other than momentary needs. I think what you're talking about would require a more massive flywheel than you think. I'm not saying it is impossible, just that it may not be the solution.

Ara Pacis
2012-Jul-14, 06:10 AM
I think what you're talking about would require a more massive flywheel than you think. I'm not saying it is impossible, just that it may not be the solution.

A single electric cell doesn't hold much power either. Hence the reason we put them in battery.

JCoyote
2012-Jul-14, 03:41 PM
A single electric cell doesn't hold much power either. Hence the reason we put them in battery.

This doesn't mean that flywheels are maintenance free. They have moving components, and are still relatively expensive. I worked in a hard drive array testing facility. They had a flywheel for uninterrupted power, but it was only to hold until generators kicked in. The only reason this was done was that the cost of interrupting formats and tests and possibly crashing thousands of drives in a power outage... made it worth it.

I remember seeing the suggestion for cars, but personally I think sodium borohydride could be a good choice for utility level hydrogen storage. It could make a solid, low volatility long-term storage system for hydrogen at large scales. (I think its application to cars is wrong, I'm starting to lean toward interchangeable battery-electric in cars for another reason: it simplifies cars people have to maintain.) But at industrial scale, I could see having a pressurized tank of "ready" hydrogen to last a half hour or more of peak output, then a vast storage field of sodium borohydride that gears up to meet demand.

starcanuck64
2012-Jul-14, 05:24 PM
Which is basically taking an already uneconomical source of energy and making it more uneconomical. That reminds me of the "Sahara Solar" idea, which is thoroughly debunked here (http://depletedcranium.com/the-realities-of-sahara-solar-power/)

Thanks, that answers some of my questions.

Van Rijn
2012-Jul-18, 07:47 AM
Firstly divide those numbers by 3 or 4 and you'll get how much is really being produced. Secondly Germany's solar capacity is not benefiting the economy but rather is a huge drain on it. (http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/solar-subsidy-sinkhole-re-evaluating-germany-s-blind-faith-in-the-sun-a-809439.html)


Interesting article. I didn't think Germany was that great for solar. So apparently that 20 gigawatt figure is peak output, which is very misleading. Up to a point, solar can offset the need for peaking plants in summer use, which can make a fair bit of sense where air conditioning is a big factor. But that doesn't work for peak use in winter (usually after dark, electricity used to prepare dinner). As solar increases as a percentage of total electricity production, storage becomes a critical requirement for the day-night cycle and weather variations. Storage also substantially raises cost, both because of the additional hardware that needs to be built and maintained, but because there's no 100% efficient storage, requiring more input.

Anyway, the point is that the sweet spot for solar as a percentage of total generation is maybe 5-10%, depending on where it is (you could do better in Arizona than Germany, for instance), but it becomes much less economical as you push beyond that. Ultimately, you'll need a lot of spare capacity to handle the variations. Maybe if solar gets really cheap with thin film solar panels that could work, but despite the improvements it's still quite costly.

Van Rijn
2012-Jul-18, 07:54 AM
Which is basically taking an already uneconomical source of energy and making it more uneconomical. That reminds me of the "Sahara Solar" idea, which is thoroughly debunked here (http://depletedcranium.com/the-realities-of-sahara-solar-power/)

Then there are the non-technical issues with the Sahara solar idea: Do you really want to be reliant on other countries for your energy again? That would be an issue both economically and politically.

noncryptic
2012-Jul-18, 12:39 PM
solar has never and will never replace any other power generating station. it just can't do it because it is not there most of the time.

Yeah, it's really to bad we don't have any technology to store energy...

NEOWatcher
2012-Jul-18, 01:45 PM
Yeah, it's really to bad we don't have any technology to store energy...
True; Every solar project that I have heard of relies on being on the grid.
For example, In Florida, there is a project called "Babcock Ranch" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Babcock_Ranch) claiming to generate more than it uses. But:

Babcock Ranch's solar power plant will connect to the main grid so a consistent energy supply can be maintained by importing power on overcast days and exporting it on sunny days

There is a project in Abu Dhabi to run a city entirely carbon neutral and off the grid (Masdar City (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masdar_City)).. But; the entire city is designed for drastic energy savings which would be nearly impossible for anywhere else without completely rebuilding.
From what I infer in the article, they will be making hydrogen off the solar and wind to burn in thier "world's largest hydrogen power plant".

Also notice the latitudes of both projects.

Antice
2012-Jul-18, 05:25 PM
Yeah, it's really to bad we don't have any technology to store energy...

I don't know if you are being sarcastic or not.
but the fact is that we do not have any technology that scales up to the amount of storage needed to balance a solar dominated grid.
Nor a wind dominated on either.
turning excess electrical energy into somethign that is storable, like hydrogen and synfuel,introduces a lot of losses into the system. If you want fuel for a vehicle, then fine. this is how it would have to be done for a low impact switchover from fossil fuels in transport, but turning that back into electricity for lamps and other uses introduce yet another level of massive losses. in the end you end up with a system that is productive only 20% of the time, and that stores the excess at a system level efficiency of less than 10%. in other words. you are just wasting energy for almost no gain.
I havent even mentioned just how incredibly large the land areas that have to be set aside for generating power has to be under this method.

compare this to the nuclear option. where you can make plenty of electricy and/or high grade process heat in a single pretty small construct. electricity to cleanly power our cities and futuristic EV's and what have you's. use the excess heat to make synfuel, desalinate water etc. (provided we go the route of Gen IV tec like MSR's who run at high temps)
We could ease the transition pain by making synthetic fuels compatible with our existing vehicle fleets. either by dedicated high temp reactors (this is more energy efficient than converting to electricity first, since it skips a step)
We could if we went this way become entirely independent of fossil fuels and still enjoy the benefits of a high energy society.
So remind me again. why should we waste time on solar? or wind for that matter? expensive storage schemes?

peteshimmon
2012-Jul-18, 06:49 PM
Most of the installed solar is on rooftops
which if you think carefully about, does
not require new land.

Utilities in various countries are in the
process of learning to use this energy. It
may be that special low tariffs for an hour
at a time is signaled to industry to take
advantage of good output times like sunny
days. Whatever, these solar cells are giving
energy out that will be more than was used in
manufacturing them.

Antice
2012-Jul-18, 07:46 PM
Most of the installed solar is on rooftops
which if you think carefully about, does
not require new land.

Utilities in various countries are in the
process of learning to use this energy. It
may be that special low tariffs for an hour
at a time is signaled to industry to take
advantage of good output times like sunny
days. Whatever, these solar cells are giving
energy out that will be more than was used in
manufacturing them.

Heavy industry is dependant on a steady suply of power to their processes. it takes time to start up and shut down big industrial machinery. interuption to that suply both can and will cause massive losses in relation to productivity of these facilities.(it can even ruin large amounts of product) The owners of said industry will not under any circumstance allow themselves to be regulated in a way that will make them uneconomical like that. Not going to happen ever. they will pack up their machinery and leave for another country where their access to the power they need is better assured. or switch over to inhouse power production trough the use of fossil fuels like coal or gas.

controlling demand trough the use of smart grids has been touted as a solution for the solar/wind advocates for a long time now.
They do not take into account the fact that people will go into open revolt if they get cut off like this at bad times like during a heat wave or cold snap.
it's the same with EV charging and using those batteries for balancing the grid. I'd be realy pissed off if my car was suddenly out of juice when i needed to get to my workplace because the grid demand was a bit above average that day.

When you actually think the consequenses of using invasive control methods like this against people then one should quickly realize that we get a energy tyrany where some central entity is suposed to control who get's and who don't get any energy at any given time. this is not a bearable situation.

Daffy
2012-Jul-18, 08:44 PM
So often I hear the argument against solar that it can't completely replace existing sources. So what? What's wrong with reducing demand? Several of my neighbors have installed solar systems and are now saving quite a bit of money, even though they are still customers of Edison. I'd do it myself, but I don't qualify for the loan.

spjung
2012-Jul-18, 08:49 PM
In New Jersey, at least in my area, many telephone poles have small solar panels attached to them. It's part of a 200,000 panel-40MW project (http://http://www.petrasolar.com/company/projects) by the electric company. Coincidentally, the company installing them, Petra Solar, is across the parking lot from where I work.

IsaacKuo
2012-Jul-18, 09:53 PM
So often I hear the argument against solar that it can't completely replace existing sources. So what? What's wrong with reducing demand? Several of my neighbors have installed solar systems and are now saving quite a bit of money, even though they are still customers of Edison. I'd do it myself, but I don't qualify for the loan.

The effect of reducing demand depends on the nature of the other power sources. If the other power sources include coal or natural gas, then reducing demand can help reduce operating costs. The operating costs of those power sources depend greatly on fuel costs, and those power sources are good at ramping up/down. So, solar can reduce those operating costs.

On the other hand, if the other power sources are mainly nuclear, then solar doesn't really help. Fuel costs aren't a big driver in nuclear costs. Ramping up/down nuclear doesn't really help reduce operating costs much. So, the primary effect of solar is to shift costs from those with solar panels/heating onto those who don't have solar. These increased rates make nuclear less competitive, relative to coal and gas etc. In other words, it's good for the people who buy solar but it's bad for those who don't, and bad for the nuclear power companies.

aquitaine
2012-Jul-18, 10:04 PM
So often I hear the argument against solar that it can't completely replace existing sources. So what? What's wrong with reducing demand? Several of my neighbors have installed solar systems and are now saving quite a bit of money, even though they are still customers of Edison. I'd do it myself, but I don't qualify for the loan.


Growing economies always and everywhere require more energy. Contracting economies, namely those in recession, always use less. What you're talking about is a permanent recession and the goodies that permanently high unemployment brings.

Ara Pacis
2012-Jul-18, 10:39 PM
I saw a better way to use solar might be passively for HVAC perhaps in concert with Solar Thermal and that would reduce then eed for Solar PV, allowing the lower efficiency of PV to better meet demand, which is consequently lower.

But, as NEOWatcher states above, it requires some rebuilding. In North America there's a lot of old homes that are very inefficient due to drafts, inadequate insulation, lack of proper fenestration and awnings and window dressings. So, a little remodeling could go a long ways.

Ara Pacis
2012-Jul-18, 10:52 PM
I don't know if you are being sarcastic or not.
but the fact is that we do not have any technology that scales up to the amount of storage needed to balance a solar dominated grid.
Nor a wind dominated on either.Hydro-reservoirs.


We could ease the transition pain by making synthetic fuels compatible with our existing vehicle fleets. either by dedicated high temp reactors (this is more energy efficient than converting to electricity first, since it skips a step)Or alter the vehicle fleets. Using hybrid electrics with turbines powered by synfuels might be a better route than piston engines due to lower weight and greater range of fuels that can be burned.


We could if we went this way become entirely independent of fossil fuels and still enjoy the benefits of a high energy society.
So remind me again. why should we waste time on solar? or wind for that matter? expensive storage schemes?Solar is good for individuals because it increases independence and reduces transmission losses and helps maintain a level of power, perhaps a critical level of power, during transmission outages during storms, etc. In concert with batteries, it can help maintain home-care life-support technologies in an aging population.

aquitaine
2012-Jul-18, 10:58 PM
Hydro-reservoirs.


Doesnt that just exacerbate the biggest disadvantages they have, needing huge land areas and lack of economical competitiveness?

Ara Pacis
2012-Jul-18, 11:05 PM
The effect of reducing demand depends on the nature of the other power sources. If the other power sources include coal or natural gas, then reducing demand can help reduce operating costs. The operating costs of those power sources depend greatly on fuel costs, and those power sources are good at ramping up/down. So, solar can reduce those operating costs.

On the other hand, if the other power sources are mainly nuclear, then solar doesn't really help. Fuel costs aren't a big driver in nuclear costs. Ramping up/down nuclear doesn't really help reduce operating costs much. So, the primary effect of solar is to shift costs from those with solar panels/heating onto those who don't have solar. These increased rates make nuclear less competitive, relative to coal and gas etc. In other words, it's good for the people who buy solar but it's bad for those who don't, and bad for the nuclear power companies.

Baseload is as baseload does. I doubt solar will be able to reduce the daytime baseload completely, although it's conceivable well designed housed might get close. Larger buildings and industry will still probably use a lot and multiple shifts may allow this to be constant, in addition to the night load from houses no longer producing from solar. I'm not familiar enough with the new generations of nuclear to say off the top of my head if any are throttle-able on a diurnal basis, although they might be on a seasonal basis. The difference between baseload and the peakload that is not satisfied by distributed generation might need to be satisfied with a throttle-able carbon-based fuel (fossil or synfuel, preferably). Alternately, tapping energy storage in the form of hydro-reservoirs where available or chemical energy storage (hydrogen or boron) might be used for the difference between base and peak loads. I'm not sure I care for a smart-grid, although I think we need a grid-management system that's smart. More importantly, I think, would be home batteries and a smart home that can designate certain circuits that must always have power and others that can be allowed to shut off at certain times of the day or if energy production is low.

Ara Pacis
2012-Jul-18, 11:08 PM
Doesnt that just exacerbate the biggest disadvantages they have, needing huge land areas and lack of economical competitiveness?Depends on topology and other uses for that submerged land. Some people like having recreational opportunities on that lake and also having the potential to use it for irrigation and drinking water and fishing. But that doesn't have to be a natural topological reservoir. Theoretically, you could build a large tank on a hill, which is how we get our water here.

Daffy
2012-Jul-18, 11:17 PM
Growing economies always and everywhere require more energy. Contracting economies, namely those in recession, always use less. What you're talking about is a permanent recession and the goodies that permanently high unemployment brings.

I have no idea what you mean by that. If we find other sources of power we will cause permanently high unemployment? That makes no sense. Perhaps it would cause lower employment within current power companies/sources (I don't know that it would), but, if so, surely that would be offset by increased employment in companies with other sources. Not to mention a boost to the economy via more spendable income from lower energy bills.

Antice
2012-Jul-18, 11:23 PM
Hydro-reservoirs.

Or alter the vehicle fleets. Using hybrid electrics with turbines powered by synfuels might be a better route than piston engines due to lower weight and greater range of fuels that can be burned.

Solar is good for individuals because it increases independence and reduces transmission losses and helps maintain a level of power, perhaps a critical level of power, during transmission outages during storms, etc. In concert with batteries, it can help maintain home-care life-support technologies in an aging population.

Using turbine generators is an interesting idea for road vehicles, but i do have one objection. they tend to be much more noisy than piston based engines. also. piston engines that are optimized for making electricity for electric drives are actually pretty efficient already. that is why we use diesel electric locomotives when not having an overhead powerpickup available.
As far as anything/electric goes. I'l just let the customers decide what they like the best. that is why i like synfuels. we can easily make both synthethic gasoline or diesel. it's a matter of production cost, and i guess the cheapest (for the end user) solution should sort itself out pretty quickly when crunchtime for fossil fuels come around.

Nobody is claiming that solar cannot and does not perform nicely in niche aplications. what some of us object to is trying to run the entire society on solar, it does not scale up enough to be viable. and just to have mentioned it. solar helping out during a storm? solar panels don't survive storms all that well. might as well just charge those emergency batteries from the grid. (or existing generators running on synfuel.) that way the emergency system works more reliably.

Adding pumping to existing hydro could make sense however when paired with nuclear. (for peaking purposes in areas that does not have a surplus of rain) since it reduces the load following stress on the baseload generators. (hydro is the number one load following generation of choice where available) but storing hundreds of GW/h of electricity in order to allow for more solar? No way. It becomes too much for all the current hydro reservoirs already in existense. the peak power is limited to what more or less existing hydro can already handle. unless one wants to start building gigantic artificial lakes to hold water. hydro is pretty much already maxed out on capacity in the industrialized part of the world. the remaining sites are either wildlife sanctuaries or somesuch... and we really shouldn't destroy those.
Quite a few of the existing Hydro dams are also used to regulate water flow in order to insure water availability for irrigation and flood prevention. can't use those for pumping uphill either.

Antice
2012-Jul-18, 11:30 PM
I have no idea what you mean by that. If we find other sources of power we will cause permanently high unemployment? That makes no sense. Perhaps it would cause lower employment within current power companies/sources (I don't know that it would), but, if so, surely that would be offset by increased employment in companies with other sources. Not to mention a boost to the economy via more spendable income from lower energy bills.

It's simple: No power to run those factories? well tough luck. poof goes the factory jobs and all the employees are now unemployed. Anyone promoting a policy of energy scarcity is promoting a de facto reduction in economic activities. and with that comes all the joys of a diminished economy. like high unemployment rates. it can quickly become an ever worsening spiral where entire nations ends up bancrupt.

ETA: If this thread really were about alternate sources of power that actually could replace everything we have today, (like the almost mythical holy grail of practical fusion power)
then there would be no energy scarcity. and the economy would not suffer, but expensive solar and the even more expensive infrastructure it requires is not such a panachea for energy.

TooMany
2012-Jul-18, 11:38 PM
On the other hand, if the other power sources are mainly nuclear, then solar doesn't really help. Fuel costs aren't a big driver in nuclear costs. Ramping up/down nuclear doesn't really help reduce operating costs much. So, the primary effect of solar is to shift costs from those with solar panels/heating onto those who don't have solar. These increased rates make nuclear less competitive, relative to coal and gas etc. In other words, it's good for the people who buy solar but it's bad for those who don't, and bad for the nuclear power companies.

I live in Sol Cal so I have to disagree. It's not all about fuel costs. We are getting close to the point where solar power generation is competitive with the grid. Home roof-top solar has the advantages that transmission lines aren't involved, fuel costs are zero and so is pollution, subsequent to manufacture. Home solar has the effect of distributing the load when it is worst, on hot sunny days. This reduces the need for surplus generating capacity.

The problem of capital investment by the home owners has been addressed by enterprising companies like SolarCity who pay for your solar installation and charge you on a monthly basis for the solar electricity that you use. Any that you don't use goes into the grid. Right now this works and reduces electric bills for families with fairly large electric bills. I'm seeing more and more of these installations in my neighborhood. I'm not sure why you claim that this is bad for the people who don't have solar. Perhaps it's fair to say at this point that the people with solar get something in return for the subsidies and people without don't. That's a great incentive.

Eventually if the cost per installed watt and maintenance are low enough, while the lifetime of the collectors is long, it will make enough economic sense that we will see it on most roof tops including commercial ones. There is a hotel a few miles from me that has a hillside installation that is larger than the entire sun facing area of the building. The electric lines and generating stations will still be needed and will eventually sell electricity for a prices substantially higher than solar. Everyone will still need the grid until (if ever) someone finds a way to store the energy over long periods. The cost of grid electricity will depend less on the amount consumed (e.g. the fuel) and more on just having it available, like a phone.

All that said, I'm a big proponent of nuclear for at least the next several decades. Unfortunately, the public is ridiculously fearful of nuclear even though it's proven by far the safest over the last few decades.

TooMany
2012-Jul-18, 11:53 PM
Heavy industry is dependant on a steady suply of power to their processes. it takes time to start up and shut down big industrial machinery. interuption to that suply both can and will cause massive losses in relation to productivity of these facilities.(it can even ruin large amounts of product) The owners of said industry will not under any circumstance allow themselves to be regulated in a way that will make them uneconomical like that. Not going to happen ever. they will pack up their machinery and leave for another country where their access to the power they need is better assured. or switch over to inhouse power production trough the use of fossil fuels like coal or gas.

controlling demand trough the use of smart grids has been touted as a solution for the solar/wind advocates for a long time now.
They do not take into account the fact that people will go into open revolt if they get cut off like this at bad times like during a heat wave or cold snap.
it's the same with EV charging and using those batteries for balancing the grid. I'd be realy pissed off if my car was suddenly out of juice when i needed to get to my workplace because the grid demand was a bit above average that day.

When you actually think the consequenses of using invasive control methods like this against people then one should quickly realize that we get a energy tyrany where some central entity is suposed to control who get's and who don't get any energy at any given time. this is not a bearable situation.

That scenario is entirely unrealistic. We cannot fully depend on an intermittent source without storage, period. It simply won't happen. What will happen (at least in some parts) is that solar will reduce peak loads on hot sunny days and perhaps support an important fraction of the total load. That will result is less fuel being mined and burned. It's a win even if it is intermittent. It cannot be a replacement without some new storage technology.

Antice
2012-Jul-18, 11:59 PM
Solar has it's uses in some areas. places where the sun shines practically every day. but everyone does not live in sunny California. actually, I'd say most of us didn't last i checked. People tend to live mostly in areas that are quite far from good/excelent solar locations.

It's not a freebie with the subsidies no matter how you try to spin it. that money has to come from somehwere. be it taxes or by increasing everyone elses electricity rate.
In essense. taking money from the have not's and giving it to the have's.


The scenario i showed upthread was to show just how far one would have to go to have a significant fraction of energy comming from renewable sources like solar.
Thing is. If we go the nuclear route. (as i think everyone is probably aware of that I think we should) then we don't need solar. nor wind. they get relegated back to their old niche uses like powering weather stations out in the wilderness and stuff like that. Nuclear coupled with synfuels and the existing hydro can without any further technological develpoment replace fossil fuels already. it would take some time to build all of those powerplants we would need. but not more so that it would take to try to build the same capacity worth of renewables. I actually think we could do it way faster this way if people would stop protesting this buildout based on unfounded fear.

Edited: too avoid double posting.

TooMany
2012-Jul-19, 12:26 AM
Solar has it's uses in some areas. places where the sun shines practically every day. but everyone does not live in sunny California. actually, I'd say most of us didn't last i checked. People tend to live mostly in areas that are quite far from good/excelent solar locations.

It's not a freebie with the subsidies no matter how you try to spin it. that money has to come from somehwere. be it taxes or by increasing everyone elses electricity rate.
In essense. taking money from the have not's and giving it to the have's.


The scenario i showed upthread was to show just how far one would have to go to have a significant fraction of energy comming from renewable sources like solar.
Thing is. If we go the nuclear route. (as i think everyone is probably aware of that I think we should) then we don't need solar. nor wind. they get relegated back to their old niche uses like powering weather stations out in the wilderness and stuff like that. Nuclear coupled with synfuels and the existing hydro can without any further technological develpoment replace fossil fuels already. it would take some time to build all of those powerplants we would need. but not more so that it would take to try to build the same capacity worth of renewables. I actually think we could do it way faster this way if people would stop protesting this buildout based on unfounded fear.

Edited: too avoid double posting.

Although I don't agree that solar will be confined to a wilderness niche (when it becomes economical), I can't really argue with the nuclear option. I think it may be our only option, unless we want to tear up the country and submerge our coastal cities (where most of the world population lives).
These things are not controlled by scientist or even sense; they are controlled by powerful self-interests. I can't see the political situation changing enough to do something sensible. So probably future generations will pay.

Van Rijn
2012-Jul-19, 12:31 AM
So often I hear the argument against solar that it can't completely replace existing sources. So what? What's wrong with reducing demand?


Pointing out the limitatons of solar is not arguing against solar. I support solar where it is a practical option. Adding a few percent of variable electricity production, and reducing the need for peakers in sunny climates with hot summers, looks pretty good. But it gets a lot more difficult if you want it to supply twenty percent or more of the total electrical supply, and there would need to be huge development of power storage to deal with the variability.

Antice
2012-Jul-19, 12:49 AM
Although I don't agree that solar will be confined to a wilderness niche (when it becomes economical), I can't really argue with the nuclear option. I think it may be our only option, unless we want to tear up the country and submerge our coastal cities (where most of the world population lives).
These things are not controlled by scientist or even sense; they are controlled by powerful self-interests. I can't see the political situation changing enough to do something sensible. So probably future generations will pay.

Well. with some imagination one could probably find some more cool uses for this technology. I just don't think it's wise to toss so much money at it as is being done.
It all boils down to public oponion tho. The real task is to inform that opinion of the real options they have to choose between. something that is not always easy.
Things like solar is popular because it has some of that magical "Free energy" apearance going for it. The public at large does not know of all the minutae of generating energy, if they did they would not swallow the image of solar so easily.

aquitaine
2012-Jul-19, 05:12 AM
Depends on topology and other uses for that submerged land. Some people like having recreational opportunities on that lake and also having the potential to use it for irrigation and drinking water and fishing. But that doesn't have to be a natural topological reservoir. Theoretically, you could build a large tank on a hill, which is how we get our water here.

Given the amount of power we're talking about storing you would need considerably more than a large tank on a hill, probably that lake you mentioned. The problem is, lakes are expensive. Let's get some perspective here. The Bonneville dam cost, in adjusted 2012 dollars about $4.5 billion to build and has a generating capacity of about 1.1 GW. Now, in and of itself that's a pretty good deal, but in this case we're not talking about daming an existing river but rather storing energy generated elsewhere. To be extremely generous I'm going to assume we're using some sort of natural topography, if I wasn't so generous the cost would be many billions higher. Now add to that to the already very high capital costs of a 1 GW wind or solar farm. So, does a system like this make any sense?


I have no idea what you mean by that. If we find other sources of power we will cause permanently high unemployment? That makes no sense. Perhaps it would cause lower employment within current power companies/sources (I don't know that it would), but, if so, surely that would be offset by increased employment in companies with other sources. Not to mention a boost to the economy via more spendable income from lower energy bills.

If energy costs go lower it gets used more. Energy is the lifeblood of our civilization, without it our industry would grind to a halt. The only way to reduce demand is to destroy it, which is what going green would do by making it significantly more expensive. It's not really a matter of finding other sources of power, it's a matter of finding other sources of power that are economical, which sadly solar, wind, tidal and wave are not.


I live in Sol Cal so I have to disagree. It's not all about fuel costs. We are getting close to the point where solar power generation is competitive with the grid. Home roof-top solar has the advantages that transmission lines aren't involved, fuel costs are zero and so is pollution, subsequent to manufacture. Home solar has the effect of distributing the load when it is worst, on hot sunny days. This reduces the need for surplus generating capacity.


I'll take that statement, bolded by me, a lot more seriously when these go away. (http://www.dsireusa.org/documents/Incentives/US37F1.pdf) A 30% subsidy is rather substantial.

Ara Pacis
2012-Jul-19, 05:23 AM
Using turbine generators is an interesting idea for road vehicles, but i do have one objection. they tend to be much more noisy than piston based engines. also. piston engines that are optimized for making electricity for electric drives are actually pretty efficient already. that is why we use diesel electric locomotives when not having an overhead powerpickup available.Turbines can have about the same efficiency as diesel, IIRC, however, their advantages are that they are lighter, use multiple types of fuel and may also be smaller when paired with an electric drivetrain (compared to the previous turbine-powered cars)


As far as anything/electric goes. I'l just let the customers decide what they like the best. that is why i like synfuels. we can easily make both synthethic gasoline or diesel. it's a matter of production cost, and i guess the cheapest (for the end user) solution should sort itself out pretty quickly when crunchtime for fossil fuels come around.That's why a turbine would be better, the operator can choose whatever fuel they want at the time of driving, a decisionwhich can happen a couple times a week, instead of at the time of purchasing the vehicle, a decision which can only happen every few years under current models of vehicle ownership.


Nobody is claiming that solar cannot and does not perform nicely in niche aplications. what some of us object to is trying to run the entire society on solar, it does not scale up enough to be viable.I'm not talking about niche applications but Distributed Generation. That is, home/building-owners providing their own power and thereby reducing their demand on the grid.


and just to have mentioned it. solar helping out during a storm? solar panels don't survive storms all that well. might as well just charge those emergency batteries from the grid. (or existing generators running on synfuel.) that way the emergency system works more reliably.The news is reporting tonight that local severe storms knocked out power to 20,000 customers. I can't be sure, but I suspect that it was not caused by 20,000 trees in 20,000 yards falling on 20,000 roofs and disconnecting 20,000 drops in a way that would also damage solar panels if they had been so emplaced. What generally happens is that the electrical distribution networks use a branching topology so that a failure in one location can result in outages for everyone downstream. If you're worried about hail, don't be (http://www.motherearthnews.com/ask-our-experts/solar-panels-and-hail.aspx). However, be aware that other things can result in power outages, such as: automotive collision with a utility pole, blown transformer due to temperature, plant accident and shutdown, solar CME, Hacker attack on network, terrorist attack of generator facility, and global thermonuclear war.


...unless one wants to start building gigantic artificial lakes to hold water.

That's what I'm suggesting. But it's not a new idea (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pumped-storage_hydroelectricity). The TVA has been doing it for over 30 years (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raccoon_Mountain_Pumped-Storage_Plant).

aquitaine
2012-Jul-19, 02:43 PM
That's what I'm suggesting. But it's not a new idea. The TVA has been doing it for over 30 years.


How much did it cost?

Daffy
2012-Jul-19, 03:49 PM
Pointing out the limitatons of solar is not arguing against solar. I support solar where it is a practical option. Adding a few percent of variable electricity production, and reducing the need for peakers in sunny climates with hot summers, looks pretty good. But it gets a lot more difficult if you want it to supply twenty percent or more of the total electrical supply, and there would need to be huge development of power storage to deal with the variability.

That may be true---but that does not seem to be Antice's point in #45. He is suggesting that any use of solar will cause permanent unemployment. Although he does contradict that in #48.

Antice
2012-Jul-19, 04:50 PM
That may be true---but that does not seem to be Antice's point in #45. He is suggesting that any use of solar will cause permanent unemployment. Although he does contradict that in #48.
I think you are miscomprehending what was said in post 45. it is a clarification of why going with an overly expensive energy alternative will cause am economic recession.
several posters have tried to clarify this for you. we have almost a page full of diferent ways to explain this phenomena of how tied to energy suply our economy is.
I'l try to clarify it in more detail here.

to the rest of the readers. skip this if you are familiar with the concept of ecomics as they relate to energy availablity. this will boore you to tears.

Solar and other intermittent power sources are unfit for delivering cheap reliable energy.
using an unfit technology leads to increased energy costs. this is so because you have to add expensive normaly un-needed facilities like excessive amount of surplus capacity in the form of backup generators and storage. this aspect is not really up for debate. solar wind and other intermittent generators have added costs that other more common forms of energy generation do not have.
Energy producers refuse to sell energy at an economic loss to themselves. so they won't deliver from these sources until the market prices are high enough to make them economic. this is a policy of scarcity. this makes energy prises go up.
High energy prices makes industry costs go up because energy is what actually performs the work that allows the production of products.
for products where you have a captive customer base this is not a big issue. they will just pass the cost on to consumers. the food industry generally does this.
Not all industry has a captive customer base however. things we can buy less of, like clothes, cars, luxury foods etc will get into a position where customers do buy less, since a bigger share of their income get's used on necesities like food and energy. that is. the economic buying power of the end consumers is set by the sum of all the consumers income.
Less buying = less money cirulating in the economy. thus we say that the economy contracts. (it's measured in wealth excange after all) this is the metric we use to see if the economy is healthy or not.
The biggest issue tho, is what hapens with those industries that no longer manage to sell enough of their product to pay their bills. they go bancrupt, and everyone working there is now unemployed.
unemployment leads to destruction of the populations buying power since a subset of the population now get less money than before.
this has a downward spiraling effect, since the net sum of the customer base now have even less money to spend. ot feeds back into making times even harder for industries and services that are already under a lot of economic pressure due to high energy costs in the first place. more bancrupsies may follow.
I hope this makes the concept more clear for you Daffy, and anyone else who feels that this is confusing.
All of those car manufacturers that went belly up? well that was energy costs. during the prior time period oil got more expensive. much more expensive. people bought less vehicles because they suddenly found that their money didn't reach as far as it used to do. this also caused a lot of people to not be able to repay their debt. if too many people default on their debt then the banks get into trouble. (the banks lend out money they themselves have borrowed from the customers savings accounts)
There are all manner of complex interactions between different parts of the economy, but history has shown that energy prices are one of the most important factors when deciding if there is going to be growth or recession.

Ivan Viehoff
2012-Jul-19, 05:17 PM
Depends on topology and other uses for that submerged land. Some people like having recreational opportunities on that lake and also having the potential to use it for irrigation and drinking water and fishing. But that doesn't have to be a natural topological reservoir. Theoretically, you could build a large tank on a hill, which is how we get our water here.
There's this excellent site which does order of magnitude calculations on energy, http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/ somewhere on there he does some order of magnitude with hydro storage, and demonstrates that expecting to get a large fraction of our storage requirements from hydro is unrealistic, the available opportunities are just too small. Unfortunately just 1 unit of electricity, 1kWh, for which you'd pay 15 cents or something, is equivalent to 1 tonne of water raised 360m (at 100% efficiency of conversion), so quite enormous amounts of water have to be raised a long way to store much electricity. Many inhabited parts of the world just don't have the topography for it.

Nevertheless in locations where there is substantial installed hydro capacity (in comparison to local requirements), typically it can act as virtual storage for solar - when the solar is on you stop running the hydro, and then run the hydro when the solar is on. Now a few lucky countries, like Norway and Chile and the like, have a lot of hydro capacity in comparison to their overall energy requirements, so this is excellent. In fact Norway is expanding is grid links to further south, because it can be used as virtual storage for excess PV from further south, but in the context of a country the size of Germany its hydro quantity starts to look less overwhelmingly huge. But most countries don't have this huge hydro resource that can be used as virtual storage.

Daffy
2012-Jul-19, 05:49 PM
I think you are miscomprehending what was said in post 45. it is a clarification of why going with an overly expensive energy alternative will cause am economic recession.
several posters have tried to clarify this for you. we have almost a page full of diferent ways to explain this phenomena of how tied to energy suply our economy is.
I'l try to clarify it in more detail here.

to the rest of the readers. skip this if you are familiar with the concept of ecomics as they relate to energy availablity. this will boore you to tears.

Solar and other intermittent power sources are unfit for delivering cheap reliable energy.
using an unfit technology leads to increased energy costs. this is so because you have to add expensive normaly un-needed facilities like excessive amount of surplus capacity in the form of backup generators and storage. this aspect is not really up for debate. solar wind and other intermittent generators have added costs that other more common forms of energy generation do not have.
Energy producers refuse to sell energy at an economic loss to themselves. so they won't deliver from these sources until the market prices are high enough to make them economic. this is a policy of scarcity. this makes energy prises go up.
High energy prices makes industry costs go up because energy is what actually performs the work that allows the production of products.
for products where you have a captive customer base this is not a big issue. they will just pass the cost on to consumers. the food industry generally does this.
Not all industry has a captive customer base however. things we can buy less of, like clothes, cars, luxury foods etc will get into a position where customers do buy less, since a bigger share of their income get's used on necesities like food and energy. that is. the economic buying power of the end consumers is set by the sum of all the consumers income.
Less buying = less money cirulating in the economy. thus we say that the economy contracts. (it's measured in wealth excange after all) this is the metric we use to see if the economy is healthy or not.
The biggest issue tho, is what hapens with those industries that no longer manage to sell enough of their product to pay their bills. they go bancrupt, and everyone working there is now unemployed.
unemployment leads to destruction of the populations buying power since a subset of the population now get less money than before.
this has a downward spiraling effect, since the net sum of the customer base now have even less money to spend. ot feeds back into making times even harder for industries and services that are already under a lot of economic pressure due to high energy costs in the first place. more bancrupsies may follow.
I hope this makes the concept more clear for you Daffy, and anyone else who feels that this is confusing.
All of those car manufacturers that went belly up? well that was energy costs. during the prior time period oil got more expensive. much more expensive. people bought less vehicles because they suddenly found that their money didn't reach as far as it used to do. this also caused a lot of people to not be able to repay their debt. if too many people default on their debt then the banks get into trouble. (the banks lend out money they themselves have borrowed from the customers savings accounts)
There are all manner of complex interactions between different parts of the economy, but history has shown that energy prices are one of the most important factors when deciding if there is going to be growth or recession.

Ignoring the condescension, your point seems to be that we can't try new energy sources because it will bankrupt the existing power companies. Yet you yourself said that solar will never be a viable alternative to the existing power supplies. Sorry, but as a consumer, it's basic supply and demand---if someone comes along that can provide me energy at a cheaper price, that's where I'll go. That's how supply and demand works. And since solar can never seriously threaten---by your argument---the major power companies, then there is no reason why i shouldn't do that. I imagine the suppliers of animal labor used arguments similar to yours when the Industrial Revolution started.

noncryptic
2012-Jul-19, 07:02 PM
I don't know if you are being sarcastic or not.
but the fact is that we do not have any technology that scales up to the amount of storage needed to balance a solar dominated grid.
Nor a wind dominated on either.
turning excess electrical energy into somethign that is storable, like hydrogen and synfuel

Try salt:

"The Andasol power plant in Spain is the first commercial solar thermal power plant to utilize molten salt for heat storage and nighttime generation. It came online March 2009.[67] On July 4, 2011, a company in Spain celebrated an historic moment for the solar industry: Torresol’s 19.9 MW concentrating solar power plant became the first ever to generate uninterrupted electricity for 24 hours straight. It achieved this using a molten salt heat storage design.[68]"
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_thermal_energy#Molten_salt_storage


Energy Storage Industry Grows To Integrate Wind, Solar
http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2011/08/energy-storage-industry-grows-to-integrate-wind-solar
"“We still hear people say storage isn’t ready for primetime, but that isn’t the case because we already have 20-MW storage plants being built all over the country,” said Brad Roberts, executive director of the Electricity Storage Association (ESA)."

aquitaine
2012-Jul-19, 08:46 PM
Ignoring the condescension, your point seems to be that we can't try new energy sources because it will bankrupt the existing power companies. Yet you yourself said that solar will never be a viable alternative to the existing power supplies. Sorry, but as a consumer, it's basic supply and demand---if someone comes along that can provide me energy at a cheaper price, that's where I'll go. That's how supply and demand works. And since solar can never seriously threaten---by your argument---the major power companies, then there is no reason why i shouldn't do that. I imagine the suppliers of animal labor used arguments similar to yours when the Industrial Revolution started.


You completely missed one very important point: Solar, even by itself without energy storage, is not economical. If it were, then would we really be having laws requiring utilities to use it? Would there be big government subsidies? Would we have so called "green quotas" that favor solar and wind? I somehow doubt it. Adding energy storage simply makes an uneconomical system that much more uneconomical, regardless of how inexensive the system itself actually is.

Daffy
2012-Jul-19, 09:00 PM
You completely missed one very important point: Solar, even by itself without energy storage, is not economical. If it were, then would we really be having laws requiring utilities to use it? Would there be big government subsidies? Would we have so called "green quotas" that favor solar and wind? I somehow doubt it. Adding energy storage simply makes an uneconomical system that much more uneconomical, regardless of how inexensive the system itself actually is.

I didn't miss that point---I have not once advocated Solar Energy as the solution by itself. I am just saying that the idea of individuals buying solar systems collapsing the economy is ridiculous.

Antice
2012-Jul-19, 09:54 PM
Ignoring the condescension, your point seems to be that we can't try new energy sources because it will bankrupt the existing power companies. Yet you yourself said that solar will never be a viable alternative to the existing power supplies. Sorry, but as a consumer, it's basic supply and demand---if someone comes along that can provide me energy at a cheaper price, that's where I'll go. That's how supply and demand works. And since solar can never seriously threaten---by your argument---the major power companies, then there is no reason why i shouldn't do that. I imagine the suppliers of animal labor used arguments similar to yours when the Industrial Revolution started.

solar + the required storage will never be cheaper than coal sans CCS (Carbon Capture and storage)
solar by itself may become as cheap as coal or nuclear on a capacity by capacity basis one day, but as soon as you factor in the intermittency of solar/wind and the cost of dealing with those issues the story changes to one of maybe it could work, to the proverbial snowflake in sahara chance of being as cheap as fosil fuels.
That is the gold standard, because it's these sources we have to replace. and we have to do it without forcing the energy price up trough legislation because that hurts the economy.

If you think that solar can replace fossilo fuels without costing more than the currently cheapest alternatives per kw/h produced (and that must take into account all of the subsidies as well) then you better be ready to give some pretty good evidence to back that up. I have spent several years learning and debating energy options. I have yet to see anyone make a truly convincing case for solar as anything but a severely limited highly situational energy source.

There has only been 1 renewable that actually deliver the goods so to say, and that is hydro. unfortunately for us, the available hydro is outrstripped by demand many times over. It's pretty close to being maxed out already.

Lastly. the luddite movement never made arguments similar to mine. Altho both arguments contain the factor of employment, the luddite movement was concered with the destruction of jobs caused by automation and mechanization. in particular the loss of jobs requireing a skill. like weavers.
My argument is about the contraction of the economy caused by high energy prices. Employment rates is just one of the victims of an economic contraction.

IsaacKuo
2012-Jul-19, 10:05 PM
solar + the required storage will never be cheaper than coal sans CCS (Carbon Capture and storage)

That's a bold prediction. Do you really mean NEVER?

Van Rijn
2012-Jul-19, 10:10 PM
Energy Storage Industry Grows To Integrate Wind, Solar
http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2011/08/energy-storage-industry-grows-to-integrate-wind-solar
"“We still hear people say storage isn’t ready for primetime, but that isn’t the case because we already have 20-MW storage plants being built all over the country,” said Brad Roberts, executive director of the Electricity Storage Association (ESA)."

Also from that article:


In just three years, the storage industry has grown rapidly from a handful of prototypes to revenue-generating corporations, Roberts said. Current battery technology has a long way to go before renewable energy can be stored and dispatched in meaningful amounts. Meanwhile, revenue is limited to ancillary services, critical observers say. And then there’s the price: At $43.6 million, the 36-MW Notrees system costs $1,211 per kilowatt. Others are down to $400.

“But the price is still way too high for this market,” said Donald R. Sadoway, Professor of Materials Chemistry at MIT.

If you want mass storage for solar, it's going to need to get cheaper, and a great deal of hardware will need to be built. It's not a question of whether it is technically possible, but cost and practicality.

Antice
2012-Jul-19, 10:11 PM
I didn't miss that point---I have not once advocated Solar Energy as the solution by itself. I am just saying that the idea of individuals buying solar systems collapsing the economy is ridiculous.

Nobody argued that. the economy is not affected by single individuals at all. we re talking about major non niche uses of solar as an energy source. someone padding their roof in solar cells has no effect on anyone but themselves as long as there are no subsidies given to the roof owner. when it's your money then you spend it as you see fit. it does not matter at all,
But the moment that everyone else have to help pay for it. (like covering the cost of subsidies) then the overall economy do take a hit. the hit is ofc dependent on how large this amount is compared to the overall value of the economy. if we are talking a few million $ then no big deal, but once we get into the hundreds of billions, then we start getting into some trouble.
the thing is however, that this also holds true for the retail price of energy. we don't need to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on subsidies to get in trouble. all we have to do is refuse to build new suitable replacement powerplants whenever the old ones expire. thus creating a shortage of energy. suply and demand can easily levy a toll in the trillions if you just double the price on energy trough scarcity.
Big solar has the potential to make this happen. It's unsuitedness for the role of baseload provider means that we get into the energy scarcity scenario where prices go sky high.

Antice
2012-Jul-19, 10:20 PM
That's a bold prediction. Do you really mean NEVER?

Not really. Coal will run out sometime in the future after all, but it will never match the current cost of coal generated power was what i meant to type. (It's getting a tad late here)
Fact is. coal could be replaced with currently existing nuclear. without having an impact on the cost of energy. most of the cost of nuclear is political in nature. I will therefore not discuss details about that problem here, there are plenty of places out there where the politics side is discussed down to the most tedious detail if one cares to search for them.

It all boils down to 2 choices. we either go for a high energy future with all the benefits that entail. (but it will most likely require that we primarily use nuclear until we hopefully get practical fusion power)
Or we go for a low energy future. with all the not so nice benefits that include.

aquitaine
2012-Jul-19, 10:41 PM
I didn't miss that point---I have not once advocated Solar Energy as the solution by itself. I am just saying that the idea of individuals buying solar systems collapsing the economy is ridiculous.

It won't unless we're forced to depend on it and other "green schemes" by regulations, but reducing overall demand will. Largely because demand reduction for electricity is usually caused by a contracting economy in a normal situation.

Daffy
2012-Jul-20, 02:55 AM
solar + the required storage will never be cheaper than coal sans CCS (Carbon Capture and storage)
solar by itself may become as cheap as coal or nuclear on a capacity by capacity basis one day, but as soon as you factor in the intermittency of solar/wind and the cost of dealing with those issues the story changes to one of maybe it could work, to the proverbial snowflake in sahara chance of being as cheap as fosil fuels.
That is the gold standard, because it's these sources we have to replace. and we have to do it without forcing the energy price up trough legislation because that hurts the economy.

If you think that solar can replace fossilo fuels without costing more than the currently cheapest alternatives per kw/h produced (and that must take into account all of the subsidies as well) then you better be ready to give some pretty good evidence to back that up. I have spent several years learning and debating energy options. I have yet to see anyone make a truly convincing case for solar as anything but a severely limited highly situational energy source.

There has only been 1 renewable that actually deliver the goods so to say, and that is hydro. unfortunately for us, the available hydro is outrstripped by demand many times over. It's pretty close to being maxed out already.

Lastly. the luddite movement never made arguments similar to mine. Altho both arguments contain the factor of employment, the luddite movement was concered with the destruction of jobs caused by automation and mechanization. in particular the loss of jobs requireing a skill. like weavers.
My argument is about the contraction of the economy caused by high energy prices. Employment rates is just one of the victims of an economic contraction.

Firstly, I never compared you or anyone else here to a Luddite; my point (which I grant I could have been more clear about) was that people resist change, especially when their own career is threatened. And, no, I don't know you or anything about your career; I am speaking in general.

So what do I tell my neighbors? They tell me their solar system is working "perfectly" and is netting them about $100 per month in energy savings. Do I tell them they are deluded and their system is actually inadequate for them? How do I convince them of that? Or do I tell them they are threatening the nation's economy by saving money? If I tell them they are causing unemployment, what do I say to the fellows that installed their solar system as part of their job?

TooMany
2012-Jul-20, 03:06 AM
Nobody argued that. the economy is not affected by single individuals at all. we re talking about major non niche uses of solar as an energy source. someone padding their roof in solar cells has no effect on anyone but themselves as long as there are no subsidies given to the roof owner. when it's your money then you spend it as you see fit. it does not matter at all,
But the moment that everyone else have to help pay for it. (like covering the cost of subsidies) then the overall economy do take a hit. the hit is ofc dependent on how large this amount is compared to the overall value of the economy. if we are talking a few million $ then no big deal, but once we get into the hundreds of billions, then we start getting into some trouble.
the thing is however, that this also holds true for the retail price of energy. we don't need to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on subsidies to get in trouble. all we have to do is refuse to build new suitable replacement powerplants whenever the old ones expire. thus creating a shortage of energy. suply and demand can easily levy a toll in the trillions if you just double the price on energy trough scarcity.
Big solar has the potential to make this happen. It's unsuitedness for the role of baseload provider means that we get into the energy scarcity scenario where prices go sky high.

The government investment is not yet significant (but it is a political football). The argument that someone using solar doesn't help you is wrong, unless you believe that coal mining and emissions help you more?

A fiscal disaster over solar power will not happen. Cuts in the solar investment are already proposed; there are powerful opponents. Instead we will just burn more coal. There is a heck of a lot of it. It could last quite a long time. Are we willing to tear up the landscape and accept the environmental damage? Look at all the excitement over fracking for gas. That and increased oil exploration are hailed as bringing us "energy independence". People believe this stuff (e.g. drill baby drill), but there is no long term future in it, just a few more decades of profits.

The fact is that we are between a rock and a hard place. The public has been propagandized (deliberately or through stupidity) to firmly reject the nuclear option. The interests and power of the fossil fuel industry are obvious. In the last administration, the President, Vice President and Secretary of State were all from that industry. The only alternative to fossil fuel acceptable to the public is solar (and less practical approaches like biofuels).

This problem also exists in Germany. The public paranoia lead them to shut down their nuclear plants! They are pursuing a solar/wind solution, but now burning more coal now than they were before the tsunami in Japan.

Is the idealistic solution of nuclear power really going to happen here?

Antice
2012-Jul-20, 04:58 AM
The government investment is not yet significant (but it is a political football). The argument that someone using solar doesn't help you is wrong, unless you believe that coal mining and emissions help you more?

A fiscal disaster over solar power will not happen. Cuts in the solar investment are already proposed; there are powerful opponents. Instead we will just burn more coal. There is a heck of a lot of it. It could last quite a long time. Are we willing to tear up the landscape and accept the environmental damage? Look at all the excitement over fracking for gas. That and increased oil exploration are hailed as bringing us "energy independence". People believe this stuff (e.g. drill baby drill), but there is no long term future in it, just a few more decades of profits.

The fact is that we are between a rock and a hard place. The public has been propagandized (deliberately or through stupidity) to firmly reject the nuclear option. The interests and power of the fossil fuel industry are obvious. In the last administration, the President, Vice President and Secretary of State were all from that industry. The only alternative to fossil fuel acceptable to the public is solar (and less practical approaches like biofuels).

This problem also exists in Germany. The public paranoia lead them to shut down their nuclear plants! They are pursuing a solar/wind solution, but now burning more coal now than they were before the tsunami in Japan.

Is the idealistic solution of nuclear power really going to happen here?

The only way to get to the nuclear future is by being an activist. there are lots of ways to put pressure on those in power in order to get what one wants. it's mostly about becoming as large and visible a group as possible. but any further discussion of that kind of activities I think we mayhaps have to take elsewhere lest I outstay my welcome here at cosmoquest.

Antice
2012-Jul-20, 05:31 AM
Firstly, I never compared you or anyone else here to a Luddite; my point (which I grant I could have been more clear about) was that people resist change, especially when their own career is threatened. And, no, I don't know you or anything about your career; I am speaking in general.

So what do I tell my neighbors? They tell me their solar system is working "perfectly" and is netting them about $100 per month in energy savings. Do I tell them they are deluded and their system is actually inadequate for them? How do I convince them of that? Or do I tell them they are threatening the nation's economy by saving money? If I tell them they are causing unemployment, what do I say to the fellows that installed their solar system as part of their job?

I never thought you were comparing anyone to being a Luddite. you were comparing an energy argument to a very different job loss argument against technology. witch i think is a false comparison since the mechanism for job loss is different enough to not be comparable.

We are both arguing for making new energy, our disagreement is about the efficacy of using solar for this task.
As for your neighbor. He did pay a big chunk of the costs himself, so he does deserve to get the use of the facility so that he may recoup his investment. what you should do however is try to convince him to also support the build-out of new nuclear plants. It wont hurt his solar investment any.
Rooftop solar is a case of being not 100% useless, but being a very sub-optimal solution. If people want to build them then fine. let em. as long as they only get to spend their own money and not anyone elses. it's those subsidies that need to go.

As for those chaps that install these panels. they would be just as easily employed building/maintaining nuclear powerplants If we went for a major nuclear rollout. A big drop in the rooftop solar market does not equate to job-loss as long as those jobs are replaced with new job's elsewhere.
We do need energy. so something has to be built. the question is what kind of energy source do we go for, not if we need one.

Ara Pacis
2012-Jul-20, 05:55 AM
How much did it cost?

$300 Million (http://www.tva.gov/heritage/mountaintop/index.htm)


Given the amount of power we're talking about storing you would need considerably more than a large tank on a hill, probably that lake you mentioned. The problem is, lakes are expensive. Let's get some perspective here. The Bonneville dam cost, in adjusted 2012 dollars about $4.5 billion to build and has a generating capacity of about 1.1 GW. Now, in and of itself that's a pretty good deal, but in this case we're not talking about daming an existing river but rather storing energy generated elsewhere. To be extremely generous I'm going to assume we're using some sort of natural topography, if I wasn't so generous the cost would be many billions higher. Now add to that to the already very high capital costs of a 1 GW wind or solar farm. So, does a system like this make any sense?

I missed this part previously. Tank or lake, as in constructed walls or natural walls. I don't demand that we'd have natural walls. We could put straight walls on an existing or artificial mesa and only the floor would be "natural" although it'd probably be sealed. We could also dig caverns under flat land, which was mentioned in the article. Or we could simply build the hill on the mound of material from which we dig the lower reservoir. It may not be cheap, but that's now where I'm coming from in this discussion.

Ara Pacis
2012-Jul-20, 06:19 AM
There's this excellent site which does order of magnitude calculations on energy, http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/ somewhere on there he does some order of magnitude with hydro storage, and demonstrates that expecting to get a large fraction of our storage requirements from hydro is unrealistic, the available opportunities are just too small. Unfortunately just 1 unit of electricity, 1kWh, for which you'd pay 15 cents or something, is equivalent to 1 tonne of water raised 360m (at 100% efficiency of conversion), so quite enormous amounts of water have to be raised a long way to store much electricity. Many inhabited parts of the world just don't have the topography for it.

Nevertheless in locations where there is substantial installed hydro capacity (in comparison to local requirements), typically it can act as virtual storage for solar - when the solar is on you stop running the hydro, and then run the hydro when the solar is on. Now a few lucky countries, like Norway and Chile and the like, have a lot of hydro capacity in comparison to their overall energy requirements, so this is excellent. In fact Norway is expanding is grid links to further south, because it can be used as virtual storage for excess PV from further south, but in the context of a country the size of Germany its hydro quantity starts to look less overwhelmingly huge. But most countries don't have this huge hydro resource that can be used as virtual storage.

I read it, and though I see his point, his point addresses a different issue, using it to store all the energy need of a country for 7 days for a totally renewable energy scheme. I am not suggesting that. Also, the topology he suggests isn't the only way, as he admits when he refers to the same examples I linked to above.

Ara Pacis
2012-Jul-20, 06:34 AM
solar + the required storage will never be cheaper than coal sans CCS (Carbon Capture and storage)
solar by itself may become as cheap as coal or nuclear on a capacity by capacity basis one day, but as soon as you factor in the intermittency of solar/wind and the cost of dealing with those issues the story changes to one of maybe it could work, to the proverbial snowflake in sahara chance of being as cheap as fosil fuels.
That is the gold standard, because it's these sources we have to replace. and we have to do it without forcing the energy price up trough legislation because that hurts the economy.

If you think that solar can replace fossilo fuels without costing more than the currently cheapest alternatives per kw/h produced (and that must take into account all of the subsidies as well) then you better be ready to give some pretty good evidence to back that up.
Are you taking into consideration the visible and invisible subsidies for fossil fuels when you compare them to subsidized renewables? I didn't see any details indicating that you were. You may also want to consider future subsidies, such as seawalls needed by sea level rise caused by climate chance caused by CO2 emissions.


I have spent several years learning and debating energy options. I have yet to see anyone make a truly convincing case for solar as anything but a severely limited highly situational energy source.What do you mean by situational? Did you read my response about local use from Distributed Generation? Solar doesn't have to be a commercial baseload scheme to be useful. If there is a break-even point for solar on a home, then it would appear to be a sound investment. Of course, anyone who's studies economics has probably run across the concept of Robert Kagan's License to Operate and realizes that the Social License is not unimportant to the successful operation of a business, even a competitive business. And then there are those other deferred costs that are paid by somebody eventually, like pollution-related morbidities, climate-change-related agricultural failures, resource wars, toxic effluent remediation, etc.


There has only been 1 renewable that actually deliver the goods so to say, and that is hydro. unfortunately for us, the available hydro is outrstripped by demand many times over. It's pretty close to being maxed out already.You could create new hydro cycles.


Lastly. the luddite movement never made arguments similar to mine. Altho both arguments contain the factor of employment, the luddite movement was concered with the destruction of jobs caused by automation and mechanization. in particular the loss of jobs requireing a skill. like weavers.
My argument is about the contraction of the economy caused by high energy prices. Employment rates is just one of the victims of an economic contraction.Or people could work in new jobs that use less energy.

Cougar
2012-Jul-20, 01:31 PM
....climate-change-related agricultural failures....

....which the U.S. seems to be experiencing as we speak....

Extracelestial
2012-Jul-20, 07:21 PM
...Germany's solar capacity is not benefiting the economy but rather is a huge drain on it.[/url]

In reality Germany is actually building more coal fired power plants than any other country in the world except China. They say its a stopgap, but seriously those things have a service life decades long. So instead of nukes they go with solar, wind............and considerably more fossil fuels...

Good point, as this is my main objection against germany's alleged "energy turnaround" - away from nuclear that is. I'm one of the few left here in Germany that isn't opposed to nuclear energy.
So far photovoltaic energy production contributes about 4% to the total energy "production" but consumes almost 50% of subsidies over here. The problem with renewable energies is that it has to scoop up a thinly spread good and needs a disproportionally large area and mass for that. This is not my idea of conserving the environment as this mode of energy harvesting eats up large chunks of nature.
Besides, at nightfall, or when clouds prevail as it is often the case here in Germany, some fossil fueled plant have to compensate for fluctuations. Over in Tchechia, a new power nuclear plant is being built with the sole purpose to sell its output to Germany as the guys over there figured there will be shortfalls when we rely on wind and sun only.
Speaking of economic drain, there are already discussions going on whether electricity may soon become to expensive for less wealthy citizens as every installed "renewable energy" system is guaranteed a compensation in case it can't produce energy. This is a great folly in my book since this money has to earned by utilising "dirty energy".

Ex

Antice
2012-Jul-20, 07:44 PM
Good point, as this is my main objection against germany's alleged "energy turnaround" - away from nuclear that is. I'm one of the few left here in Germany that isn't opposed to nuclear energy.
So far photovoltaic energy production contributes about 4% to the total energy "production" but consumes almost 50% of subsidies over here. The problem with renewable energies is that it has to scoop up a thinly spread good and needs a disproportionally large area and mass for that. This is not my idea of conserving the environment as this mode of energy harvesting eats up large chunks of nature.
Besides, at nightfall, or when clouds prevail as it is often the case here in Germany, some fossil fueled plant have to compensate for fluctuations. Over in Tchechia, a new power nuclear plant is being built with the sole purpose to sell its output to Germany as the guys over there figured there will be shortfalls when we rely on wind and sun only.
Speaking of economic drain, there are already discussions going on whether electricity may soon become to expensive for less wealthy citizens as every installed "renewable energy" system is guaranteed a compensation in case it can't produce energy. This is a great folly in my book since this money has to earned by utilising "dirty energy".

Ex

When the poorer fraction of a population has to start living without proper access to electricity, then I'd say we are well into the range where energy prices are starting to hurt.

Ara Pacis
2012-Jul-20, 08:01 PM
....which the U.S. seems to be experiencing as we speak....

Exactly. But I gotta be careful how I frame it, because short term trends are chaotic and reversible. So I tell them that current events are in line with predictions.

TooMany
2012-Jul-21, 02:29 AM
Over in Tchechia, a new power nuclear plant is being built with the sole purpose to sell its output to Germany as the guys over there figured there will be shortfalls when we rely on wind and sun only.


Now there's a great opportunity for the French. Build some nuclear plants near the German border. They could get carbon credits in addition to the profits.

It's disappointing that some of the most technically advanced and prosperous countries in the world have a nuclear-phobic populace. It's like cavemen being afraid of this new idea called "fire" and banning it's use.

Extracelestial
2012-Jul-21, 01:43 PM
Now there's a great opportunity for the French. Build some nuclear plants near the German border. They could get carbon credits in addition to the profits.

It's disappointing that some of the most technically advanced and prosperous countries in the world have a nuclear-phobic populace. It's like cavemen being afraid of this new idea called "fire" and banning it's use.

Exactly!

Ex