Consumer Energy Report is now Energy Trends Insider -- Read More »

By Robert Rapier on Dec 16, 2010 with 69 responses

Guest Post: Roof Shingles Meet Solar Panels

The following guest post was written by Daniel Fielding, a freelance writer who focuses on gadgets and the environment. He is the lead editor for Shades of Green, a Green Technology Blog.

Roof Shingles Meet Solar Panels

By Daniel Fielding

“We have the technologies for a global clean economy, but they will not deploy in significant numbers without greater public policy certainty and incentives,” said Andrew Liveris, Chairman and CEO, The Dow Chemical Company. “Even without the optimal policy environment, however, we are investing in energy efficiency, in research, development and the deployment of clean technologies, and we are designing innovative financing mechanisms to support investments.”

Solar roof shingles

The first consumer-grade solar shingle, expected to be released early 2011, is just the first of many next-generation photovoltaics aimed at a wider audience.

This was one of the many keystone issues discussed at the recent climate conference in Cancun, Mexico. An annual event hosted by the United Nations, COP 16 included topics ranging from the economy of a sustainable society, to the technical hurdles we have yet to conquer.

One of the more exciting developments recently, lies in the field of photovoltaic technology. Solar energy is quickly becoming the superstar of the alternative energy industry. The first consumer-grade solar shingle, expected to be released early 2011, is just the first of many next-generation photovoltaics aimed at a wider audience. Many on Wall Street speculate that the Dow Powerhouse Solar Shingles will produce revenues in excess of $5 billion dollars between now and 2015. This release, combined with earlier breakthroughs on the protective films that cover the shingles, brings the dream of sustainable energy closer to the average consumer. The reason this energy option stands out from traditional solar panels, is because Dow’s solar shingle is installed onto a roof and performs much like a typical asphalt shingle. The solar shingle not only performs the usual functions of shingling, but also greatly decreases a home’s energy costs.

The transformation of sunlight to electricity is made possible by innovative photovoltaic technology. Dow’s shingles will use copper indium gallium diselenide solar modules (CIGS), which are considered second or third generation solar tech, compared to the much less efficient . CIGS is generally most efficient at turning sunlight into electricity. This CIGS technology is brand new and gaining ground quickly in the field of energy efficiency while simultaneously allowing solar power to be generated from thinner material. According to Dow CIGS-based PV cells are incorporated into the product by molding them with a polymer formulation which results in a unique design that has similar aspect, weight, and installation practices as an asphalt shingle and also generates electricity. Electrical circuitry is integrated into each shingle and connected by plug connectors. The shingles have a life expectancy of 15 to 20 years.

According to Alternative Energy: A 2009 Report Card, solar energy has grown 1,000 percent since the turn of the century. Yahoo Finance says solar energy will grow 1,500 percent globally by 2020. The research industry group GlobalData presents statistics that suggest Cumulative Installed Solar Photovoltaic Capacity will grow from 1,428 in 2000 to 298,415 by 2020. The U.S. has extended tax breaks for solar energy under the recent stimulus package. The domestic tax breaks and numerous international subsidies for solar energy put into place by many Europeans nations as well as China exemplifies that the domestic and international demand for solar energy will only increase.

Even with domestic and international demand for alternative energy sources like solar energy, Executive Vice President Peribere highlights the importance of consistent support via state legislation and incentives in order for the solar market to expand. The company expresses that a lack of clarity surrounding the country’s political agenda is causing businesses and investors to stay on the sidelines. “Businesses have a lot of money they want to spend on growth. Most of that is being spent overseas — including us.” Stephanie A. Burns, Dow Corning Corp. chairwoman and CEO said an example of the “political uncertainty” is the U.S. government’s research and development R&D tax credit. The tax credit reduces federal tax liabilities, based on the amount a company spent in the development of a new product or to improve existing products “It would be great if that was permanent and we knew it was there,” Burns said. “And we knew we could rely on it and we knew the investments we do make here would have a tax benefit.”

  1. By moiety on December 17, 2010 at 4:50 am

    The use as roof shingles however what is the expected cost?

     

    I would disagree with CIGS being efficient especially compared to crystalline silicon. In theory CIGS has the highest conversion efficiency but that has yet to be put into practice.

    http://international.pv-tech.o…..t_powerful

    http://www.nanotech-now.com/ne…..y_id=40954

    Further, CIGS is horribly expensive requiring the use of ultra-rare indium that is slated to ‘runout’ around 2025. Even sources in industry (I will look for the referecne) have very recently said that they woulds be looking at niche markets outside pv for thin film.

    [link]      
  2. By Gary Wollenhaupt on December 17, 2010 at 8:44 am

    PVs that integrate into mission-style roofs are available too –
    http://bit.ly/emHAWI
    Recent surveys show that homeowners will do the green thing if it’s cheap, easy and doen’t disrupt their homes too much. BIPVs seems to be the way to go.

    [link]      
  3. By Wendell Mercantile on December 17, 2010 at 9:51 am

    copper indium gallium diselenide

    Copper, Indium, Gallium, and Selenium.

    No rare earths there, but of the four, only gallium and selenium are abundant and not overly expensive. Copper and indium are both expensive and as the demand for those two metals increases, they will only become more dear.

    It only points out that no matter how attractive a solution might be, it will come down to a competition for limited resources. These PV shingles sound good, but the thought of them must have commodity traders licking their chops.

    [link]      
  4. By moiety on December 17, 2010 at 10:54 am

    It may not be rare earth but economical desposites are very rare. Indium is abundant in vey few minerals. It has a similar price level to Silver but its reserves are low and difficult to define. It has uses in touchscreens and LCD so demand will only increase.

    [link]      
  5. By Herm on December 17, 2010 at 11:42 am

    Is there an electrocution hazard removing the shingles at the end of their life?.. or does it have to be done at night?KissKiss

    [link]      
  6. By russ-finley on December 17, 2010 at 1:08 pm

    I’m a big fan of solar but I’m skeptical this 3,400 square foot house really produces more energy than it uses annually. From here:

     

    “…a home that generates “almost” as much energy as it uses … that costs “virtually” (?) nothing to heat and cool …these (solar panels) can cover “most” of the electrical needs of the home owners …

     

    The solar shingles are on the north side and will provide very little energy. Note the large two car garage. Note in the picture below that the garage has been replaced with a wall of windows to capture passive solar and store it on the garage concrete floor. The engineering compromise is that the glass wall will lose heat all night and will overheat the house in the summer.

    Note that they moved the garage to the right, but note there is no driveway to it. There are photovoltaic solar panels on the south side. I saw two 50 gallon hot water tanks in the cavernous basement, not enough to store much hot water from the two solar hot water panels on the roof of the garage with no driveway. I could find no actual data to verify the home’s actual total energy consumption.

    Part of the problem is the current fad–3,400 square foot McMansions with two car garages, on a cul-de-sac. This builder had to throw out his garage. A buyer will worry about resale of the only house in the neighborhood without a garage. The bank will worry about loaning money for a house without a two-car garage and on and on. Making a 3,400 square foot house like this energy efficient is like putting lipstick on a pig. Status seeking may be built into our social primate genes but smaller homes that really are zero energy should have higher status than pigs wearing lipstick.

    [link]      
  7. By Wendell Mercantile on December 17, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    Making a 3,400 square foot house like this energy efficient is like putting lipstick on a pig.

    Very good Russ. I suspect they’d come out far ahead with a smaller house built into the ground (an earth sheltered house) to take advantage of passive solar heating and the energy storage and absorption abilities of the mass of the earth. But that wouldn’t be fashionable for a McMansion owner, would it?

    Those who lived in what is now New Mexico and Arizona centuries ago and built their homes with three-foot thick adobe walls knew what they were doing.

    [link]      
  8. By BilB on December 17, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    The fact is RussF the house you project (depending to some degree where it is) would be more than energy sufficient in summer and less than energy sufficient in winter. It may well balance out, and then 4 people living in a huge house are not necessarily going to use more energy than living in a small one. What ever the absolute outcome the environment is still ahead.

    [link]      
  9. By rbm on December 17, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    I want to see the Manual J load calculation worksheet on the home.

    There were lot of qualifiers in that sales pitch given in netzero video; almost, nearly etc.

    Also how is the grid connection executed ? the claim was that t was direct.

    [link]      
  10. By Kit P on December 17, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    “but also greatly decreases a home’s energy costs”

     

    I followed the DOW web site to see how they did it at the ‘net-zero energy home’ in Michigan. Very small and lots of insulation. Nothing wrong with that, very cost efficient. Unless you like lots of windows to look at your trees.

     

    “reduce dependence on foreign oil”

     

    In Michigan, they make electricity with coal and nuclear (been there, done that). We can only hope they are not still putting oil heating systems.

     

    “Natural gas heats roughly four-fifths of Michigan homes.”

     

    http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/state…..cfm?sid=MI

     

    It looks like Russ found a similar site,

     

    “Making a 3,400 square foot house like this energy efficient is like putting lipstick on a pig.”

     

    I moved from Michigan to California where build a 3000 square foot house passive solar, thermal mass house at a time when Title 24 energy code specified a Michigan where it got 30 below. Proper over hangs and low-g are a small additional cost. Solid foam insulation in the roof was only a little more expensive.

     

    Solar PV on homes is very expensive and only makes a small amount of electricity. The one things all this type of article never discusses is actual performance. Again my comments about solar do not apply to large scale projects where the object is to make electricity rather than “Status seeking”.

    [link]      
  11. By Wendell Mercantile on December 17, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    The one things all this type of article never discusses is actual performance.

    Good point Kit P. The rule of thumb I’ve heard for solar panels is that it would take a square meter to power a 150 watt light bulb 24/7 — if the Sun were shining 24/7. That seems to be right — not far from where I live the US Government has installed solar-powered street lights surrounding a Federal building. Each light pole has a panel mounted on top that is about a meter square.

    Several months ago I visited an organic food company that is very proud of the huge solar array they’ve installed on the lawn in front of their HQ. I was surprised to find out that huge solar array provided only about 4% of the electricity their building consumed.

    They made a huge investment to save 4%. They could save more than that by installing awnings on their windows, turning off the A/C, and telling people open the windows in the spring, summer, and fall. (I did find out their heating bill was very low. They installed a special venting system to distribute the heat from their large computer room throughout the building in the winter. They found their computers provide most of the heat their building needs to stay comfortable in the winter.)

    [link]      
  12. By Douglas Hvistendahl on December 17, 2010 at 5:36 pm

    One fairly easy design uses attic heat in the summer to warm the soil under a building. This does not require expensive heat pump compressors, just pipe, tubing, and a thermostat controlled circulation pump. A small heat pump does increase efficiency. Wing insulation outside the building does even more. This can be retrofitted with enough work.

    [link]      
  13. By Kit P on December 17, 2010 at 6:34 pm

    “street lights surrounding a Federal building”

     

    Wendell that is the second dumbest things I have heard the federal government do with PV. Just turn off the street lights, it is not like you are going to catch any one in the government actually working at night. I went to a renewable energy energy conference in Seattle back when Clinton was POTUS. The EPA put PV panels on their roof. Those PV panels got photo shopped into numerous power point presentation with the PV panels in the foreground, ferries in the middle, and Mount Ranier in background. No, that is not possible but it made a slide in presentations. All wind turbines are pictured with content dairy cows in the background.

     

    Anyhow, I attended the EPA session on the solar panels and asked how they worked in rainy Seattle. Turns out that the EPA’s PV panels did not produce any electricity. These dingbats did not include the cost of hooking the panels to the grid. Further reinforcing my belief that the EPA is much better at making it more expensive to do business in the US than protecting the environment. That a whole new topic.

     

    I would think the average home owner who can afford PV would make a better decision than the government spending other’s money. Electricity is easy to measure. When you do not report measured generation compared to expected, it makes me skeptical.

    [link]      
  14. By Rufus on December 17, 2010 at 8:07 pm

    Solar has One big advantage; We know what the cost of “Sunlight” is going to be in 2030. Zero. No Inflation involved.

    Right now, All costs of Solar, especially “installation” are greatly elevated due to gov. subsidies. This is allowing some “blue-sueders” to get rich, but it’s also contributing to a rapid build-out in Capabilities. I’m convinced that, within a couple of years, my 2,000 pop. berg will be able to put a solar farm out at the edge of town for a little less than $2.00/watt.

    And that, kiddos, will “pencil out” (especially considering that they are testing solar panels that were installed 30 years ago, and finding virtually NO loss of efficiency.)

    [link]      
  15. By Benny BND Cole on December 17, 2010 at 9:29 pm

    I looked at solar for my 6,000 sf factory–it does not pencil out, I am sad to say. Better lighting pencilled out. I think I can punch some skylights in some day, and that might pencil out.

    The fact is, electricity is not expensive, and not scarce. It can be produced by nukes, which are green. Hydro, wind, big solar, can produce electricity too. If we can scrub CO2 from natrual gas and coal plants, then they will be green also.

    I am all for conservation, and I believe in much higher gasoline taxes (liquid fuel may become scarce and is imported by unreliable thug states), but not sure about small solar until it becomes much cheaper.
    I think the green movement does itself a disfavor when they try to force the market to accept unworthy concepts.

    Build way more nukes, use efficient lighting, and yes insulate to your heart’s content. Wear sweaters, use low-e windows, overhangs, trees whatever. Radiant floors might make sense. Not sure about solar panels—very expensive.

    [link]      
  16. By Kit P on December 17, 2010 at 10:00 pm

    “I’m convinced that, within a couple of years, my 2,000 pop. berg will be able to put a solar farm out at the edge of town for a little less than $2.00/watt.”

     

    But why would they want to do that Rufus? Do you have a good solar resource? No! Do they have have really expensive electricity? No! Do they have large amounts of wealth that compels them to make silly choices because some politician told them to feel guilty. No! Do you have bad air quality caused by generating electricity? No! Will solar improve the environment? No!

     

    What you have is a bunch of solar PV manufactures telling you should buy something that does not work very well because of false claims about the environment.

     

    “And that, kiddos, will “pencil out” (especially considering that they are testing solar panels that were installed 30 years ago, and finding virtually NO loss of efficiency.)”

     

    This one pegs the BS meter. Bet a geduck you can not find a reference to support that? If you keep a PV in a box maybe but put it out in the sun 30 years and it is not going to work very well. Of course they did not work very will to start with. Also tell me how many $5000 components were replaced to make $2000 worth of electricity.

     

    I expect better research form Rufus. The problem with solar is not cost. At best solar does no harm. Small amounts of electricity can be produced from a diffuse source during the day.

     

    [link]      
  17. By Rufus on December 18, 2010 at 10:47 am

    Let me look around, Kit. I was reading an article just a few days ago about a Carter-era solar panel taken out of service (in Nevada, I think) for testing, and it was still within Manufacturer’s specs. I think the manufacturers are talking about 0.23% efficiency loss/yr, now. That’s pretty small; 4% in 20 yrs.

    Do we have a good solar resource? Northeast Ms? Yes.

    Why would we do it? 1) Money 2) Promotion – we’re a tourist area with the casinos, and all, you know 3) For the hell of it. I lot of people do a lot of things “for the hell of it.”

    I read an interesting article on The Powder River Basin mines yesterday. The geology there is interesting. It seems the present mines will last less than 20 years. If they dig new ones they will be goddawful expensive (imagine a bowl sitting on its side – that’s what the PBR coal seams look like.) Also, interestingly, the cost of transportation can be up to Six Times the cost of the coal. And, a couple of railroads have the monopoly, and they burn Diesel.

    It’s the 21st Century, folks. Time to start acting like it.

    [link]      
  18. By russ-finley on December 18, 2010 at 11:34 am

    BilB said:

    4 people living in a huge house are not necessarily going to use more energy than living in a small one. What ever the absolute outcome the environment is still ahead.


     

    I think you’re right about electricity use, assuming it is not used for heating. The size of the house does  matter when talking about heating and cooling.

    Most people have a very loose grasp of what makes evolution work. McMansions are a manifestation of a largely subconscious urge to seek a higher rung in a perceived monkey troop hierarchy. They are an arms race, similar to the one that spawned the Hummer SUV. Like tattoos, they are a fad. Nobody needs that much space to be comfortable. That house also has a huge amount of embodied energy.

    I’d like to see a fad that emphasized energy efficiency over cavernous facade. Those solar panels look like postage stamps on the side of a barge ; )

    My family of four lives in a very comfortable house that would literally sit in the footprint of this house’s dining room. It has three bedrooms, two baths, a guest room, kitchen, living room, study, dining nook, workshop, and attached garage.

     

    [link]      
  19. By Rufus on December 18, 2010 at 11:52 am

    Here’s the article on the 30 yr old panel:

    http://cleantechnica.com/2010/…..zes-owner/

    You ask, “Why?” Stop and think about this: That panel was paid for a long time ago. It’s still sitting up there on his roof producing electricity – and, evidently, will be for a long time to come. When utility rates double (which they will, either sooner, or later,) he’ll still be paying the same for that electricity that he is now – Zip.

    [link]      
  20. By Kit P on December 18, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    “And, a couple of railroads have the monopoly, and they burn Diesel.”

     

    Rufus do you know the difference between a toy train and mile long coal train? The way you talk about solar I ma not sure you know the difference between a toy and real power plant, it sounds like your are not sure.

     

    “Here’s the article on the 30 yr old panel:”

     

    Last week I parked 89′ Ranger with 260k miles next to a 87′ Olds with 470k miles. Both POV are as efficient as they were new as verified by two old engineers. Both look like crap from many years in the sunlight. Since I am know writing this on the internet, Rufus can claim that all 87′ and 89′ POV are as efficient as they were new.

     

    “that they are testing solar panels”

     

    No Rufus, you told a lie, that is not testing. Furthermore, that is not data that supports PV in general make rated amount of electricity for a long time. What do you think the results would be if you test a solar panel that had shorted out? If I wanted to ‘prove’ PV did not work, I would test ones not working.

    I have collected data that says 0% work as expected and only a small fraction are within a few percent. There is several reasons for PV not working very well. The first being putting PV panels where the resource is not good: Rufus wrote,

    “Do we have a good solar resource? Northeast Ms? Yes.”

     

     

    No Rufus, you do not have a good solar resource.

    http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/state…..cfm?sid=MS

     

    Cloud cover and humidity mist be taken into account. TVA has some PV in your area, check them out.

     

    “Why would we do it? 1) Money “

     

    Electricity is a cheap commodity with MS having blow average generating costs. If have to find some stupid people who will pay more for something. It is like going to the casinos to make money.

     

    “It’s the 21st Century, folks. Time to start acting like it.”

     

    What’s that mean? PV is one of the oldest ways to make electricity. If you can no longer get your daily mile long coal train to feed the coal fired power plant, then build a nuke.

     

    “And, a couple of
    railroads have the monopoly, and they burn Diesel.”

     

    Rufus do you know
    the difference between a toy train and mile long coal train? The way
    you talk about solar I ma not sure you know the difference between a
    toy and real power plant, it sounds like your are not sure.

     

    “Here’s the
    article on the 30 yr old panel:”

     

    Last week I parked
    89′ Ranger with 260k miles next to a 87′ Olds with 470k miles. Both
    POV are as efficient as they were new as verified by two old
    engineers. Both look like crap from many years in the sunlight.
    Since I am know writing this on the internet, Rufus can claim that
    all 87′ and 89′ POV are as efficient as they were new.

     

    “that they are
    testing solar panels”

     

    No Rufus, you told a
    lie. Furthermore, that is not data that supports PV in general make
    rated amount of electricity for a long time. What do you think the
    results would be if you test a solar panel that had shorted out? If
    I wanted to ‘prove’ PV did not work, I would test ones not working.

     

    I have collected
    data that says 0% work as expected and only a small fraction are
    within a few percent. There is several reasons for PV not working
    very well. The first being putting PV panels where the resource is
    not good: Rufus wrote,

     

    “Do we have a good
    solar resource? Northeast Ms? Yes.”

     

     

    No Rufus, you do not
    have a good solar resource.

    http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/state…..cfm?sid=MS

     

    Cloud cover and
    humidity mist be taken into account. TVA has some PV in your area,
    check them out.

     

    “Why would we do
    it? 1) Money “

     

    Electricity is a
    cheap commodity with MS having blow average generating costs. If
    have to find some stupid people who will pay more for something. It
    is like going to the casinos to make money.

     

    “It’s the 21st
    Century, folks. Time to start acting like it.”

     

    What’s that mean?
    PV is one of the oldest ways to make electricity. If you can no
    longer get your daily mile long coal train to feed the coal fired
    power plant, then build a nuke.

     

    [link]      
  21. By Rufus on December 18, 2010 at 2:19 pm

    Not an accurate map, Kit. This one is much better

    http://www.nrel.gov/gis/images…..lo-res.jpg

    We are in the 1800 kwh/yr (per kilowatt, installed) area. That’s a’plenty for PV. Put me a panel up for $2.00/Watt, and I’ll make money.

    I have nothing against Nuclear, Kit. I just want some “distributed” electricity to go along with it.

    PS. We are also in a very good “wind,” and “biomass” locale. My dream for NW Ms is some Solar, some Wind, and some Cellulosic Ethanol biorefineries producing Electricity from Lignin (or from biogas made from same.)

    I would like to see MY county keep a little of its money “Home,” for a change.

    [link]      
  22. By Rufus on December 18, 2010 at 2:51 pm

    Wind Potential – NW Ms

    http://www.windpoweringamerica…..stateab=ms

    We’re sitting just a touch below what is considered “suitable,” right now; but, as turbine technology improves that number is steadily dropping. I figure we’ll be there in a year, or two.

    [link]      
  23. By BilB on December 18, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    Great map, Rufus, thanks. That tells us that our GenIIPV system will generate a conservative 18,500 kwhrs in all of California, over 12,000 kwhrs per year in Alaska, and 16,000 kwhrs in Maine.

    Yes distributed energy systems give you flexibility, but as you also point out they preserve your local wealth. People don’t seem to realise (or perhaps don’t care) that every time that you shop at Walmart you make China stronger and the US weaker, and when you fill up your car you make the Middle East stronger and the US weaker.

    Every dollar that you do not have to pay to a utility for electricity is a dollar that you have available to spend in your local area supporting your own local people and businesses. That is a powerful thing which will become ever more important as fuel prices rise due to peak oil. And the US has the same problem that Australia does with an ageing electricity generation infrastructure needing replacement with new more expensive machinery. Renewables aside that 10 cents per unit that you have been enjoying will turn into 20 cents over the next 10 years.

    That is one of the powerful aspects of Robert R’s project, trees grow everywhere and so trees to gas mean that you can have cooking and heating fuel locally produced, creating local employment, while being carbon neutral in the process.

    [link]      
  24. By Rufus on December 18, 2010 at 3:33 pm

    BilB, you’re welcome.

    Just think about which states have weathered the worst recession since the Great Depression the best. Iowa, Mn, Ne, SD, ND, Wy, Wi, Tx. – they produce, and to some extent “export” energy.

    [link]      
  25. By BilB on December 18, 2010 at 4:57 pm

    Kit P,

    You have gone to some length to cast the view that the US has low electricity prices. Not so.

    http://www.eia.doe.gov/electri…..5_6_b.html

    Some states have low electricity prices, and in some of those it is because of hydro renewable electricity, but many states (the higher population states) have very high electricity prices. It would be interesting to do a population breakdown of the domestic retail rates included in the table linked above.

    So as usual your arguments are entirely and annoyingly falaceous.

    [link]      
  26. By BilB on December 18, 2010 at 5:25 pm

    And here is another interesting little piece of the who’s getting what and for how much energy picture
    http://www.neb.gc.ca/clf-nsi/r…..t-eng.html
    It seems that if you have an energy intensive industry Vancouver is the place to be where you can get Oregon hydro electricity for 6 Canadian cents (those little cents) per unit, cheaper than in Oregon.

    [link]      
  27. By Kit P on December 18, 2010 at 5:53 pm

    “We are in the 1800 kwh/yr”

     

    I got some bad news for Rufus. You are not going to get that, those are ideal numbers. In any case the money you are making is $90 per year. BTWE, $2.00/Watt is not the installed cost either.

     

    By Rufus numbers, the North DeSoto Elementary 3-5 School’s 4.1 KWe PV system should get 7380 kwh/year but the best year was 6300 kwh.

     

    “This system is one of nineteen installed in Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas through the Watts on Schools program funded by American Electric Power and ..”

     

    http://www.soltrex.com/systems…..=la&q=

     

    “I have nothing against Nuclear, Kit. I just want some “distributed” electricity to go along with it.”

     

    Neither wind or solar are very good and producing “distributed” electricity. We need “distributed” electricity to provide local regulation of the grid to maintain the power factor. Biomass is very good at that and MS does have good resources for that.

     

    “I would like to see MY county keep a little of its money “Home,” for a change.”

     

    I understand that which is one of the reason I like biomass.

    [link]      
  28. By Rufus on December 18, 2010 at 7:14 pm

    I said, Kit, that the day will come (fairly soon, I think) when I Will be able to install PV for $2.00/Watt.

    I’d love to get a contract to install (labor) a four or five megawatt solar farm for $0.25/watt. The cost of the inverters are coming down, rapidly. The framing systems are easy as pie. Factories to produce the panels are breaking ground everywhere you look, and it’s just a matter of time before you can call up the nearest factory and order a couple thousand panels for a buck and change. When that happens, you’ll start hearing about $2.00 installations.

    [link]      
  29. By Rufus on December 18, 2010 at 7:43 pm

    And, 1,500 kwh/yr for $2,000.00/kwatt? I’ll take it in a heartbeat.

    10 megs = 15,000 megawatt hrs/yr = $1.5 Million (figuring $20 Million investment, and $0.10/watt from Entergy.).

    I’m getting 7.5% on my money. What are thirty yr treasuries giving, now? 4.5%?

    And, you’ll notice I’m not figuring on getting 30% back from the “Feds” (otherwise known as “your hip pocket.)

    If I figured that in it would be $1.5 Mil/$14 Mil or 10.7% return.

    [link]      
  30. By Kit P on December 18, 2010 at 8:01 pm

    “will generate a conservative 18,500 kwhrs”

     

    That is still $950 per year.

     

    “Every dollar that you do not have to pay to a utility for electricity is a dollar that you have available to spend in your local area supporting your own local people and businesses.”

     

    Utilities are local businesses.

     

    “fuel prices rise due to peak oil.”

     

    In the US we do not make much electricity with oil.

     

    “It would be interesting to do a population breakdown of the domestic retail rates included in the table linked above.”

     

    Look at the bottom of the table ‘all sectors – 9.91 cents/kwh’.

     

    “It seems that if you have an energy intensive industry Vancouver is the place to be where you can get Oregon hydro electricity for 6 Canadian cents (those little cents) per unit, cheaper than in Oregon.”

     

    The first problem that BilB has is not understanding the difference between generating costs, wholesale costs, and retail electricity costs. Retail cost include the cost of delivering electricity to the customers.

     

    For example, if 18,500 kwh was used in California then the PV that offset 18,500 that would be 18,500 would be worth about $3,000. Still far from the claimed $9000.

     

    Often different locations have excess low cost generation. The PNW and BC can sell electricity made with hydroelectric in the spring and early summer to California that has a generating cost of 5 cents per kwh. In the winter, PRB coal-based generation that has a generating cost of 3 cents per kwh sells power to Canada.

     

    This is where BilB appears to not understand the costs.

     

    “And the US has the same problem that Australia does with an ageing electricity generation infrastructure needing replacement with new more expensive machinery.”

     

    Equipment to produce electricity is expensive which includes PV. Solar does not reduce the need for base load power. When the new expensive nuke and coal plants are paid off, then the cost of generating electricity will again be low. The cost of the new coal and nuclear generation is about 5 cents per kwh. When I said BilB generation cost were $950 per year I was comparing new cost to new costs. Apples to apples!

    [link]      
  31. By Kit P on December 18, 2010 at 8:12 pm

    and $0.10/watt from Entergy

     

    Why would Entergy pay you $100/MWh for power they can make at $50/MWh?  That is my basic point.  Why do people who have never done something think they can do it better than those who do it for a living? 

     

    [link]      
  32. By Wendell Mercantile on December 18, 2010 at 9:37 pm

    I was walking around the neighborhood this afternoon and one problem with these shingles immediately jumped to mind: Where I live, the roofs are usually covered with ice and snow from about the end of November to mid-March.

    That would mean in this part of the country, the time to recover the cost of installation would be extended by about 25%, unless one is willing to risk life and limb climbing on the roof once a week to clean the roof of snow.

    [link]      
  33. By Anonymous One on December 18, 2010 at 10:55 pm

    The Performance of Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaic Solar Modules after 22 Years of Continuous Outdoor Exposure
    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com…..ip.627/pdf

    [link]      
  34. By BilB on December 18, 2010 at 11:03 pm

    Ah, Kit P, what a short memory you have. For starters that was $8000 for Australia where retail electricity retail rates are settling on 22 cents per unit, and are slated to go as much as 25% higher, meaning that 18500 units are worth $4000. But if the unit is used to power one medium range electric commute vehicle and one family runabout electric vehicle then the combined offset value for electricity and petrol can be $8,000.

    Our concept is similar to the one that RR is involved with which gassifies wood chips to produce a gas (natural?) to feed through gass mains to power specially built engines which produce electricity (for household, transport power, and grid feed) and heat/cool space heating, all entirely carbon neutral. These units are basement type fixtures to replace the traditional basement boiler/heater. Different fuel, similar effect. However all of that beetle struck Canadian dead timber will be a massive resource as it will stand or be stacked for many years.

    I’ve just done a bit of a breakdown of the US electricity rates. it seems that over a third of us residents pay electricity rates avaraging over 16 cents per unit.

    [link]      
  35. By Kit P on December 19, 2010 at 1:08 pm

    Anonymous One thank you for the link.

    “that we have one module with a strong degradation, JA08, of 21.8% from the initial power prior to outdoor exposure. The mean degradation for all 24 modules is 6.4 +4.8% standard deviation….

     

    For the Module OA02 we measured zero current, i.e., open circuit, suggesting that in fact the interpretation given above of a corroded busbar breaking the electrical circuit is correct. Indeed when we re-attached one diode over the ‘top’ string we were able to measure the bottom string.”

     

    There you have it, properly maintained PV panels will continue to make electricity for a long time. Which is why I will continue to advocate utility scale systems. Here is my favorite example:

    Tucson Electric Power 4.6 MWe Springerville Generating Station: http://www.greenwatts.com/page…..Output.asp )

     

    Information is even provided about Module Failure Rate and Inverter Reliability.

    Rufus if you are interested in making money producing renewable energy locally, read the TEP annual report looking for landfill gas.

     

    “TEP takes methane gas from the Los Reales Landfill in Tucson and burns it in place of coal or natural gas to produce electricity. Methane gas from the Los Reales Landfill is piped 3.5 miles to TEP’s H. Wilson Sundt Generating Station to co-fire a boiler that supplies electricity to our customers.”

     

    http://www.tep.com/Green/Servi…..anegas.asp

    Anonymous One thank
    you for the link.

     

    “that we have one
    module with a strong degradation, JA08, of 21.8% from the initial
    power prior to outdoor exposure. The mean degradation for all 24
    modules is 6.4 +4.8% standard deviation….

     

    For the Module OA02
    we measured zero current, i.e., open circuit, suggesting that in fact
    the interpretation given above of a corroded busbar breaking the
    electrical circuit is correct. Indeed when we re-attached one diode
    over the ‘top’ string we were able to measure the bottom string.”

     

    There you have it,
    properly maintained PV panels will continue to make electricity for a
    long time. Which is why I will continue to advocate utility scale
    systems. Here is my favorite example”

     

    Tucson
    Electric Power 4.6 MWe Springerville Generating Station:
    http://www.greenwatts.com/page…..Output.asp
    )

     

    Information
    is even provided about Module Failure Rate and Inverter Reliability.

     

    Rufus
    if you are interested in making money producing renewable energy
    locally, read the TEP annual report looking for landfill gas.

     

    TEP
    takes methane gas from the Los Reales Landfill in Tucson and burns it
    in place of coal or natural gas to produce electricity. Methane gas
    from the Los Reales Landfill is piped 3.5 miles to TEP’s H. Wilson
    Sundt Generating Station to co-fire a boiler that supplies
    electricity to our customers.”

     

    http://www.tep.com/Green/Servi…..anegas.asp

    [link]      
  36. By rrapier on December 19, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    Someone posted this over at The Energy Collective, which republished this post:

    For the last few days electrical output from Solar PV has hovered at or close to zero, fie the entire nation of Germany, despite investments of tens of billions of dollars. Solar PV is a huge energy fraud that will never match the electrical output of nuclear energy.

    RR

    [link]      
  37. By Kit P on December 19, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    I’ve
    just done a bit of a breakdown of the US electricity rates. it seems
    that over a third of us residents pay electricity rates avaraging
    over 16 cents per unit.”

     

    Really!
    Let me see if BilB can make electricity cheaper and better. I have
    provided a link many times for those want to understand energy issues
    rather than just make wild leaps of logic.

     

    http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/state/index.cfm

     

    New
    Hampshire
    :
    A very cold state that with not a big population but what is the
    cause of higher electricity rates:

     

    As
    in other New England States, the growing use of natural gas in New
    Hampshire’s power industry has been driven by natural gas’s lower
    emission levels compared with other fossil fuels and the ease of
    siting new natural gas-fired power plants.”

     

    Connecticut

     

    Then
    there is
    NY
    and New Jersey
    :
    What a mess NY & NJ are politically. Very high taxes but they
    also use lot lots of NG. NJ imports a 1/3 of their electricity.

     

    New
    York also imports electricity from neighboring States and Canada.”

     

    So
    there you have it, less that 10% of the continental US residential
    population have utility rates above 16 cents per kwh. They live in
    regions with big government, high taxes, very cold weather, rely on
    NG and imports from other states.

     

    Most
    Americans enjoy low electric rates. Adjusted for inflation, there is
    a general downward trend. Couple that more efficient homes, energy
    is a smaller part of family budget. The environmental impact of
    producing electricity has also decreased. Most American live in
    states that have PUC that allow power plants to be built to ensure
    low electric rates. States that have made poor choices are the
    exception.

    [link]      
  38. By BilB on December 19, 2010 at 3:33 pm

    Kit P,

    In manufacturing we improve our product steadily. If there are flaws in some panel designs then these will be modified. That is the value of endurance testing. For the weld cleaning machines that we manufacture here we have a 5 stage product improvement programme already mapped out with the electronics programme underway.

    As an example of the ongoing product development for Solar PV

    http://www.siemens.com/press/e…..091943.htm

    This represents excellent efficiency in the energy conversion, as near to 100% as you can expect to get, and with this fitted to older systems an immediate improvement will be achieved with out the addition of new panels. The same improvement programme is underway for the panels themselves.

    A bunch of people sitting around saying “nah it will never work”, which is what I hear from you Kit P, never achieve anything meaningful in life.

    RR,

    Germany solar output? That will be because they are having widspread snowfalls right now, according to this report.

    http://www.weatherzone.com.au/…../frankfurt

    and is perfectly natural for this time of year, ie anticipated. What isn’t anticipated or natural is that it is 9 degrees in Sydney right now which can only mean that the antarctic is getting a thawing blast which is pushing cold air this far north.

    The GenIIPV system can be designed to cope with light to medium snow falls. We haven’t designed that part of the system yet, but it is possible for more northerly climates. That is one of the advantages of your trees to gas programme, it is a widely serviceable renewable energy system with storage. GenIIPV system only has short term internal storage capability likely to be up to 30kwhrs as an add on. This is where the optimal utility companion technologies are hybride trough solar thermal with storage and your tree to gas technology. The gas useage would be mostly for cooking energy and local gas powered Capstone type electricity backup

    http://www.capstoneturbine.com…../products/

    which would be funded by the distributed energy investors. If you add all of that together for many countries that amounts to a very robust completely renewable and sustainable energy delivery system which improves peoples standard of living while improving the economy, contrary to every expectation that to act on global warming will be an economic cost. The Republican naysayers and deniers are doing the entire US economy a massive disservice.

    [link]      
  39. By Rufus on December 19, 2010 at 4:08 pm

    That Tucson Solar field turned out 6908 Megawatt Hrs in 2009. That’s about 1,500 Megawatt Hrs per installed Megawatt. Not too shabby for NorthEast Arizona.

    It’s running below that by quite a bit this year, but it’s basically a “research” facility. I wonder if they haven’t had part of it down for awhile (maybe testing for wear, or somesuch.)

    My take on Solar is: it comes online during the time you need “extra” electricity the most – Hot Summer Days. When it’s raining it doesn’t work; but when it’s raining you don’t have the need for “Peak” air conditioning.

    [link]      
  40. By BilB on December 19, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    No Kit P, It is over 30% pay over 16 cents per unit for electricity from the DOE figures, and some states would also have high electricity prices if they were not able to import huge amounts of hydro electricity from Canada. And what you are admitting here is that the US does not have a free market for electricity, the PUC regulates the way electricity is sold and therefore manages “free” market forces. Without that most of the US would have Hawaii’s 26.5 cent per unit electricity prices.

    America is living in energy denial and by exporting most of your consumer product and steel manufacturing to Asia has become weak and vulnerable as a nation. If it we not for Intel, Microsoft, Boeing and the US’s strangle hold on the flow of oil, the US would be heading for third world status right now. By believing that your energy status is stable your are setting yourselves up for certain economic failure.

    [link]      
  41. By Rufus on December 19, 2010 at 5:04 pm

    Ah, I wouldn’t count the ol’ USA out just yet, BilB. Most of us are old enough we’ve heard all this stuff before – a few times. We do things in kind of a strange way, at least from a foreign perspective, but we always seem to “get there.”

    Besides, there might come a time not too far out from now that seeing 3 or 4 US Carrier Groups sitting between yourselves, and China might be a comforting sight. Peak Oil is going to hit their economy worse than ours, and they might get downright grouchy at some point. That point being, of course, when they can no longer afford to “Buy” that coal, and Iron Ore from you.

    Amidst all the Wailing, and Gnashing of Teeth we are already powering our vehicles with 10% Ethanol, and are well along on getting an interesting amount of Wind, and Solar going.

    I like our odds better than some countries’.

    [link]      
  42. By Kit P on December 19, 2010 at 5:06 pm

    “A bunch of people sitting around saying “nah it will never work”, which is what I hear from you Kit P, never achieve anything meaningful in life.”

     

    Did not say PV does not work. I am saying your GenIIPV system does not work.

    BTW nice inverter. The SINVERT PVM10 has a 5 year warranty and has to cost a least $10K. Let’s say BilB is luck and gets 10 years out of the inverter. That is $9, 000 of generation per a $10,000 inverter. I know who the utility passes those cost on to. What about BilB?

    If customers want solar electricity I have no problem with the cost being pasted along. I have a problem with con artist who tell how much you will save after spending lots of money.

    [link]      
  43. By BilB on December 19, 2010 at 6:04 pm

    Endless wild assumptions, Kit P. If electronics are designed to run cool then they will last forever. So that Siemens inverter at 10kva and 97.5% efficient is dissipating a big 250 watts, a tiny amount of heat for the size of the module. ie long life with the incredible ultra efficient mosfets available today.

    And I don’t appreciate being called a con artist, especially by someone who blatantly lies about his qualifications, Kit P.

    Rufus, I’m not writing off the US. But the US had better start doing things right or all of the negatives will compound to overwhelm the US’s strengths. The only reason why Australia is OK is because we have a mountain of minerals to flog and only 22 million people. With out the minerals we would be a basket case because or soil is extremely poor and we have no significant water resources. The Chinese don’t have to take Australia militarily, they just have to buy the country, and that is just what they are doing, with US WalMart dollars.
    The Chinese are very smart. 80% of their decision makers have engineering degrees versus the US and Australia where we are governed by lawyers and teachers. China has been buying up oil resources that they can control to suit their needs. The US is going to wake up one morning to find out that China owns Iraqi oil. Apart from that they have been investing heavily in renewables of all types, especially wind.

    [link]      
  44. By Kit P on December 19, 2010 at 6:09 pm

    “No Kit P, It is over 30% pay over 16 cents per unit for electricity from the DOE figures..”

     

    Which states did I leave out BilB, I used your link.

    http://www.eia.doe.gov/electri…..5_6_b.html

     

    “And what you are admitting here is that the US does not have a free market for electricity, the PUC regulates the way electricity is sold and therefore manages “free” market forces.”

     

    Yes, providing electricity is a public service in the US. Some places allow customers to choose their power provider but they still have to pay for distribution. Independent Power Producers (IPP) often produce electricity at a lower cost than a utility could. A small utility sometimes does not have the management skills for coal or nuclear. Some coal and nuke plants have been sold to companies that are very good at operating them.

     

    “Without that most of the US would have Hawaii’s 26.5 cent per unit electricity prices.”

     

    Hawaii is one of those places I have only visited. I can explain why most Americans have low electric rates. Of course I did provide a link that might explain why electricity is expensive in Hawaii.

     

    “Petroleum-fired power plants supply more than three-fourths of Hawaii’s electricity generation.”

     

    Rufus let me correct you. BilB does not have anything to worry about from about China. The average American Boy Scout troop has more logistic skills when it comes mounting a deployment. The Aussies ,ay not have 10 of these: http://www.globalsecurity.org/…..rriers.htm

     

    but the Royal Australian Navy is a formidable blue water navy none the less.

    [link]      
  45. By BilB, Australia on December 19, 2010 at 7:02 pm

    New york for starters population 20 million electricity 18.63, California population 37 million electricity 15.3 (nearly 16 cents certainly not 10 cents), and a bunch of other lower population states.

    [link]      
  46. By Kit P on December 19, 2010 at 8:58 pm

    “New york for starters”

     

    NY was discussed.

     

    “California population 37 million electricity 15.3 (nearly 16 cents certainly not 10 cents)”

     

    Well BilB 15.3 cents per kwh is not over 16 cents per kwh but if you want to change the criteria to nearly okay then lets discuss California. Electric rates have increased in California over the years. That along with other watermelon policies have driven a lot of jobs out of California. If you want to claim the US is in trouble based California I would be hard pressed to disagree. My ties to California go back to 1960. I used to work in California at a nuke plant that was closed.

     

    So the first reason California has high rates:

     

    “California imports more electricity from other States than any other State.”

     

    The second reason is how they produce power:

     

    “Natural gas-fired power plants typically account for about one-half of State electricity generation.”

     

    California has high taxes,  no coal, and new nuke plants are banned but if BilB thinks California would be a good place for he would again be mistaken. First California has poor solar resources where people live. Not many people live in the Mojave desert. People live where there is a mild maritime and Mediterranean climate. Fog and smog do not improve solar performance. Because of the mild climate do not use a lot of electricity for heating and cooling. In California a 2 or 4 kwe system will serve nicely if you do not have room for a shade tree.

     

    For those who like to follow California here is a link.

    http://www.caiso.com/green/ren…..sWatch.pdf

     

    Yesterday California produced 75 MWh which is better than Germany. That compared to 4,860 MWh on 6/21, 4,976 MWh on 7/14, and 4,976 MWh on 8/12.

    [link]      
  47. By BilB on December 19, 2010 at 10:19 pm

    It doesn’t matter why the electricity is more expensive, Kit P. What matters is that the retail price offers the impetus to change to change energy sources to renewables from coal, nuclear, gas and oil. Nuclear is not such an issue for the US as you already have to carry the nuclear waste burden, but for Australia it is a huge issue, ie something we do not need or want.

    [link]      
  48. By Wendell Mercantile on December 20, 2010 at 12:06 am

    Nuclear is not such an issue for the US as you already have to carry the nuclear waste burden, but for Australia it is a huge issue, ie something we do not need or want.

    BilB,

    I would think you’d have plenty of uninhabited (or very lightly populated) , geologically stable places suitable for nuclear waste such as the Tanami, Simpson, Great Sandy, or Great Victoria Deserts, or especially the craton area of the southwest. Your country might even be able to make a tidy sum by setting aside an area as a nuclear waste repository for other countries.

    [link]      
  49. By russ-finley on December 20, 2010 at 12:50 am

    BilB said:

    It doesn’t matter why the electricity is more expensive, Kit P. What matters is that the retail price offers the impetus to change to change energy sources to renewables from coal, nuclear, gas and oil. Nuclear is not such an issue for the US as you already have to carry the nuclear waste burden, but for Australia it is a huge issue, ie something we do not need or want.


     

    Consider subscribing to the Brave New Climate feed. Some Australians want it.

    The Nuclear Enhanced Renewable Grid (NERG)

    Reframing Nuclear Power as an Ally of Renewable Energy

     

     

     

     

    [link]      
  50. By moiety on December 20, 2010 at 3:17 am

    Rufus said:

    I said, Kit, that the day will come (fairly soon, I think) when I Will be able to install PV for $2.00/Watt.

    I’d love to get a contract to install (labor) a four or five megawatt solar farm for $0.25/watt. The cost of the inverters are coming down, rapidly. The framing systems are easy as pie. Factories to produce the panels are breaking ground everywhere you look, and it’s just a matter of time before you can call up the nearest factory and order a couple thousand panels for a buck and change. When that happens, you’ll start hearing about $2.00 installations.


     

    I would say thast that day has already come; Spainish subsidies to solar used to be quite generous. However the technologies in current play that bring solar to ‘grid parity’ {ahem with subsidies} are not sustainable. Platnium and palladium make up the base material for many of the existing p-type solar cells. A move to multicrystalline silicon is positive but is still based along the lines of rare-earths.

    [link]      
  51. By BilB on December 20, 2010 at 5:36 am

    RussF,

    Definitely not, BNC are on a total nuclear tilt which has turned Global Warming Abatement into an argument about technologies. My position is that nuclear waste is dumping a massive responsibility onto future generations will who gain no benefit from the management cost that they must bare for however many centuries it takes for the waste to become benign. This is another form of borrowing from our children (next thread). The US already must bare this responsibility, but Australia is nuclear free and will stay that way. Australia has more solar resource per capita than anyother country on Earth 100 times over, it does not need nuclear.

    [link]      
  52. By Kit P on December 20, 2010 at 7:00 am

    “My position is that nuclear waste is dumping a massive responsibility onto future generations ..”

    Is that position based on some expertize BilB? Let see!

    “change energy sources to renewables “

     

    So BilB have you read LCA that quantify the amount of hazardous waste for both renewable energy and nuclear? Of course not. The amount of hazardous waste for both renewable energy and nuclear is about the same.

    “future generations will who gain no benefit from the management cost”

     

    That cost is paid by a tax on nuclear generation in the US.

    “however many centuries it takes for the waste to become benign.”

     

    That would be about three hundred years. Since the hazardous waste from renewable energy is not radioactive it never becomes benign.

     

    “Australia has more solar resource per capita than anyother country on Earth 100 times over, it does not need nuclear.”

     

    That because the sun never set in Australia. The reason Australia does not need nukes is has more coal than any other country on Earth a zillion times over, per capita that is.

    Waste from nuclear power plants is not an engineering issue, it is political one. Ignorant people make absurd statements without bothering to learn about the topic. They just repeat what they have heard.

    [link]      
  53. By Wendell Mercantile on December 20, 2010 at 9:46 am

    Put me a panel up for $2.00/Watt, and I’ll make money.

    Rufus~

    Really? That would mean $200 worth of solar panels to power a single 100 watt bulb, or $2000 worth of panels to power a 1000 watt microwave.

    [link]      
  54. By Rufus on December 20, 2010 at 10:28 am

    To run that bulb for 50 years, or more, Wendell.

    [link]      
  55. By Wendell Mercantile on December 20, 2010 at 10:52 am

    that is the second dumbest things I have heard the federal government do with PV. Just turn off the street lights, it is not like you are going to catch any one in the government actually working at night.

    Kit P.

    I’m not saying using PV panels to power street lights is necessarily a good idea, but this is at a VA hospital, and they do work 27/7/365. The solar-powered street lights are in the parking lot and along the road and street walks leading to the hospital. Whether it’s a good idea or not, there’s no need for you to disparage the workers at that VA hospital. In fact, there are many Federal workers who are on-duty or on-call at operations centers that run 24/7.

    Each street light at this VA hospital has a panel on top that is about a meter square and has a battery included. Solar-powered street lamp

    I’m also starting to see many solar-powered signs along highways. Those do make sense in many cases there is no grid electricity near to which to connect.

    Many of the bridges along the Interstate highways in our state also have weather and wind sensors and cameras that stream data back to our state traffic operations center. Most of those are also solar-powered because it would cost more to run lines to connect to the grid.

    [link]      
  56. By Wendell Mercantile on December 20, 2010 at 10:55 am

    To run that bulb for 50 years, or more…

    Rufus~

    That sounds like a hyperbolic media release instead of being based on facts. Do you know of any solar panels installed 50 years ago that are still in operation today?

    [link]      
  57. By russ-finley on December 20, 2010 at 1:22 pm

    BilB said:

    My position is that nuclear waste is dumping a massive responsibility onto future generations will who gain no benefit from the management cost that they must bare for however many centuries it takes for the waste to become benign.


     

    That was a lot of material to read so fast. Had you read it you may have come to the realization that the waste issue is the least problematic. All of the waste generated to date by America’s nuclear power plants sits on their parking lots waiting for the government to come up with a repository that it has already been paid to build. No need to run numbers. If all of the waste to date, without reprocessing to reduce volume an order of magnitude, without converting it into glass cylinders …fits inside the power plant confines above ground, common sense says, this is not an unsolvable problem.

    Reprocess it, vitrify it, put the glass cylinders in a bone dry geologically stable place away from water tables thousands of feet underground. This is a big planet. We are incapable of generating enough nuclear waste in this manner to do much damage.

    Admittedly, Australia is a different animal from the United States with a lot more sun. Just keep in mind that nuclear energy is not the bogeyman we have been led to believe. The anti-nuke mindset has evolved into a cultural marker.

    A sprinkling of appropriately placed and designed nuclear plants could help make a solar renewable grid feasible.

    Resolving the global warming issue is much larger than you imagine. Insisting on a pure solar grid may bury our grandchildren:

     

    [link]      
  58. By robert on December 20, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    http://www.greendiary.com/entr…..irmingham/

    World’s oldest solar panel turns 60 this year and is still running.

    [link]      
  59. By Wendell Mercantile on December 20, 2010 at 2:16 pm

    World’s oldest solar panel turns 60 this year and is still running.

    Thank you Robert. Interesting.

    [link]      
  60. By Kit P on December 20, 2010 at 6:25 pm

    “Whether it’s a good idea or not, there’s no need for you to disparage the workers at that VA hospital.”

     

    You said Federal Building, Wendell!  It would be nice if the VA spent the money on making veterans more comfortable in their last days.  BTW I have earned the right to disparage.  Before joining the navy I had a few years experience with medical ‘professionals’.  The first the navy did for me is gave me German measles.  The corpsman on duty (most likely just out of ‘A’ school) told me I was gold bricking and the doctor would not see me.  I picked up the phone to call a cab to take off base to a hospital.  Apparently, that is against rules.  I am big on rules but if the navy medical personnel to not want to follow the rules, I am out of there.  The doctor who was too buy watching the idiot box came out to explain I did not have German measles I was gold bricking.  I suppose the doctor had never doctor had never had a little recruit grab him by his tie and jerk him off his feet.  I whispered a question.  If they throw me in the brig for assaulting a commissioned, will a doctor have to examine me? Yes!  Well then would you like to do your job now or after I break your nose?  Not waiting for an answer I jerked him by the tie to look in my mouth.  One holy s*** later I was in a hospital bed.  I would have disparaged louder when the German measles sores are in your moth and throat.  

     

    The sorriest excuse for medical ‘professional’ I have ever encountered was the Air Farce.  My first encounter was as an E-4.  Yes Wendell loud disparaging occurred along with treats serious injury/death and federal imprisonment.  Maybe the AF should not have been running an illegal abortion ward, maybe the AF should not have put my wife in it, but dam sure they should have followed the doctors orders and not put my wife’s life at risk.  When a navy petty officer asks a question respectfully about the treatment of his wife; the rules require a respectful answer.  Maybe it was something I said but the next day I observed very professional behavior at that hospital.  I have a long list of issues with medical care associated with the military 30 or 40 years ago.  My father died in that hospital about 20 years later.  I visited him many times during treatment.  While the care was professional, it had the ambiance of a charity ward.    

     

    My neighbor tells me VA care has gotten a lot better but Wendell I think the VA deserves a little disparaging here.  Making electricity is a profession.  If the VA wants to make electricity I should be able to provide VA personnel with medical care.  I use an old slide rule to slap some sense into them.

    [link]      
  61. By russ on December 21, 2010 at 8:58 am

    Poor old Kit – nothing to do but whine?

    Solar – Rufus you are 100% in form! Your facts and figures are up to your normal standards!

    The 1800 kW/m2 per year you quote and show is gross – now the panels are maybe 15% efficient. That map is a comic strip. Cleantechnica as a reference? You gotta be kidding me!

    Also on the cost front – you are still looking at 6$ per watt installed for a grid connect system – 2$ to 3$ for panels plus engineering, inverter, installation materials, installation etc.

     

     

     

     

    [link]      
  62. By Wendell Mercantile on December 21, 2010 at 9:48 am

    You said Federal Building

    Kit P.

    Last I checked the VA is a department of the Federal government and their buildings (to include their hospitals) are Federal buildings.

    I don’t know why the VA is using solar-powered street lights since this is in a location that has grid electricity they could have easily (and less expensively) connected to. My hunch is that some Congressman/woman attached an amendment to some budget bill requiring the VA use solar-powered street lamps because they have a solar-powered street lamp plant in his/her Congressional district.

    The doctor who was too buy watching the idiot box came out to explain I did not have German measles I was gold bricking

    How can a comment about solar-powered streetlights at a VA hospital set you off on such a tangential tirade? Perhaps this doctor was overcome by your sparkling personality.

    [link]      
  63. By Daniel Fielding on December 22, 2010 at 10:15 am

    Robert had told me the article might get some (comment) attention, but I had no idea it would turn it to a flame war of this magnitude. I probably can’t help very much, but perhaps it would be beneficial to describe my personal outlook on the energy issue (and solar, specifically).

    Our situation is pretty dire as it is right now. While it is great discourse to argue the best methods to solve some of our energy issues, is it really that awful to present ideas that might aid in our efforts to wean ourselves off of fossil fuels and edge closer to a sustainable future?

    Did I accidentally write that solar technology alone will be our savior? What I had meant to say, was that it will be one of the many tools we need to utilize to lower our impact on the environment. Another aspect of this article which was overlooked is the fact that this technology might not be a victory in efficiency or long-term energy feasibility, but rather making solar technology more readily available to the general public. More people are likely to purchase solar shingles than traditional solar arrays; especially if they are easier to install.

    And as far as nuclear energy goes: I’m all for it. On a large scale, it’s probably a better idea. That being said, I’m fairly sure I am in the minority compared to other environmentalists. Although, I must admit, I am a technologist first and an environmentalist second.

    Thanks for reading!

    -Daniel Fielding

    [link]      
  64. By EPDM Coatings on December 23, 2010 at 7:42 am

    Its really been a very informative article indeed. I have got some great tips from your blog. Thanks for sharing such valuable stuff with us.

    [link]      
  65. By Solar Shingle on December 23, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    waiting to see outcomes of this within the us should be interesting to watch it all unfold.With solar power rebates we are seeing a good progression in solar may it continue.

    [link]      
  66. By sameer-kulkarni on December 25, 2010 at 11:29 am

    Let me reiterate the point I made in my previous post. The
    only way for renewable energy process to succeed is by integrating diverse
    technologies. Speaking of Solar PV here is a probable alternative

     

    Solar PV for generating electricity

    Major Drawbacks: High costs of PV & large surface
    area required to harvest the sunlight further adding up to the cost with significant
    energy losses

     

    Solar concentrator technology

    Major Drawbacks: High costs of investment in utilities incurred
    for converting heat into steam & then into electricity again with
    significant energy losses. Not to mention high water consumption.

     

    Now how about combining the two technologies whereby high
    intensity sunlight, with aid of an array of reflecting mirrors, is focused on
    to a single PV to gather more sunlight per unit area of PV. More from less Cool

     

    The people behind the idea: http://www.solarsystems.com.au…..ology.html

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v…..nTbJLmqM_8

     

    Merry Christmas everybody Yell

    [link]      
  67. By jfinlayson on January 5, 2011 at 2:02 am

    Moiety said:

    I would disagree with CIGS being efficient especially compared to crystalline silicon. In theory CIGS has the highest conversion efficiency but that has yet to be put into practice.


     

    Daniel didn’t exactly say CIGS is more efficient than c-Si.  Actually, he didn’t say what it was more efficient than.  He inadvertantly left the last word out of that sentence:

    Dow’s shingles will use copper indium gallium diselenide solar modules

    (CIGS), which are considered second or third generation solar tech,

    compared to the much less efficient . CIGS is generally most efficient

    at turning sunlight into electricity.

    Perhaps he meant to compare it to that other major thin film PV technology — Cadmium Telluride — which CIGS does have an efficiency edge over.

    Indium will pose supply and cost issues if CIGS ever scales up, so finding a substitute is a high priority.  IBM has had some success with zinc and tin:

    http://www.eetimes.com/electro…..efficiency

    [link]      
  68. By Tom Lansing on January 28, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    Different people have different reasons for wanting to use solar energy. For some it’s because of an absolute commitment to the environment. They want to do everything they can to reduce their carbon footprint.

    [link]      
  69. By Wendell Mercantile on January 28, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    They want to do everything they can to reduce their carbon footprint.

     

    Tom,

    Everything?  Wink

     

    If that’s really the case, they could live the way people did in the 1880s.  I doubt they’re really that dedicated to reducing their carbon footprints.

     

     

    [link]      
Register or log in now to save your comments and get priority moderation!