An article over on CNET titled Got a deck? Solar panels now a plug-in appliance, suggests that you can buy from Amazon.com a 1,000 watt solar panel system that plugs into your wall outlet for only $1,099. I thought they were really on to something until I read the comments:
This article was written very poorly. At first read, it would appear that the 1,000 watt system costs $1,099.95, but going over to Amazon, that is just the price of one panel whose rating is 240 watts.
At about $4.58/watt, these panels will not produce electricity to pay for the finance charges alone. You will not be able to recover your investment on this, as the panels deteriorate through time.
If the 1,000 watt system costs $1,099.95, it would truly be disruptive as it will be feasible. But no, this solar PV will not cut it, still too expensive. If they can just sell these to about $2/watt, then it would be very worthwhile, given that you will mount these yourself.
A recent study published in the subscription only Nature Climate Change (which I do not have a subscription for) found the price Americans are willing to pay to have 80 percent “clean” energy by 2035. Drum roll please … $13 bucks a month.
The researchers went a step further and calculated that the cost would have to drop even further to overcome political barriers:
The researchers — Joseph E. Aldy, Matthew J. Kotchen and Anthony A. Leiserowitz — ran a what-if exercise and found the current level of public support insufficient to overcome entrenched opposition in Congress.
Majority rule does not really apply there, of course: getting anything controversial through the Senate, for example, requires 60 votes to break filibusters. With some number-crunching and assumptions about how preferences back home would influence the votes of lawmakers, the researchers found that the annual added cost per household of a clean energy policy would have to drop below $59 a year to pass the current Senate and below $48 a year to pass the current House.
Some test drive reports for the electric Ford Focus are out–fake radiator grill, optional leather seats, looks like a regular car, blah, blah, blah. Other than superficial appearances, it’s almost indistinguishable from a Leaf in performance, and costs a few grand more. One was used as the pace car at the NASCAR Sprint Car Series race last week in Richmond so at least they are marketing the thing and the Leaf really could use some competition. Then again, I also thought the Prius would have met some stiff competition from American hybrids by now. The latest episode of the sitcom 30 Rock was about an American engineered couch that was so uncomfortable the government bought them to torture terrorists …I think I have one of those couches.
Senator Bernie Sanders is using Grist Magazine to lobby against government assistance for nuclear energy on the grounds that it’s a mature industry. I might agree with him if it really were a mature industry and if renewables really could carry the day without it. But it isn’t, and renewables can’t. It always irritates me to watch ignorant politicians screw with my children’s futures. As sometimes happens with my long-winded comments, the one I left over there got large enough to convert into a post over here.
Senator Sanders may have good intentions, but what’s new? We don’t need any more roads to hell paved by those. He’s just another member of the generation that has been systematically misinformed by “the end justifies the means” anti-nuclear lobby and our sensationalist for profit lay media.
An earlier article on Grist recently (and inadvertently) demonstrated with a simple graph that the most optimistic estimates for renewable energy do not come close to meeting our energy needs, all cost issues aside. CONTINUE»
The Domestic Fuels Protection Act Racket Just classic. According to Consumer Reports, the corn ethanol lobby has introduced legislation that would: “ … leave consumers on the hook for any product damage caused by E15 …Rather than trying to solve the problem of preventing damage from E15 and easing its transition into the marketplace, this bill would simply sweep aside all liability for everyone but the consumer,” That picture of a decomposed gasket is an example of what happens over time when an improperly engineered component meets a corrosive compound at elevated pressures and temperatures. In this case, the compound was coffee in an espresso machine. Click here to see a gasket destroyed by ethanol in a gasoline engine. It’s… Continue»
Last week, Kate Galbraith wrote an article in the New York Times with the headline A Competitor Emerges for Solar Panels, which is somewhat nonsensical.
It’s about the small co-heat and power (C.H.P) electric generator and hot water systems available for residential homes. This technology is not just emerging. I wrote an article about these five or six years ago when they were first marketed in Japan.
The article suggests that you can sell your excess power back to the grid (which I could not confirm), like is done with solar panels, and I suspect that is why she thinks they compete with solar, but solar panels “generate” zero emission renewable energy. These C.H.P units “consume” a non-renewable GHG emitting fossil fuel. Cogeneration competes with other energy consuming devices like 95% efficient condensing forced air gas furnaces and heat pumps. It’s an apples to orange comparison when it comes to solar.
Why is Germany planning to phase out nuclear power? In a nutshell, because they fear it — self-serving behavior based on irrational fear. They’re doing it because a sufficient number of German citizens have been convinced by the fear tactics used by the anti-nuclear lobby that their nuclear power poses a significant safety risk (which it doesn’t).
They will be removing from the European grid their low emission nuclear power exports while simultaneously increasing the use of fossil fuels domestically in addition to using more from the E.U. grid, which is almost entirely nuclear and fossil fueled. They are counting on that power from the E.U. grid to fill in the gaps inherent in their own renewable power. To meet their goal of 100% renewable they would have to isolate themselves from the European grid.
Updated Charging Technology
An email recently came in from Blink telling me they want to install a new card in my electric car charger. New technology always involves a learning curve. If any discipline should be a science (other than science), it is engineering but even engineering involves a lot of trial and error. The first jet engines were unbelievably primitive by today’s standards.
The new Leaf will have a more efficient heating system that will extend the range in cold weather. Not sure what they are up to but hopefully it is one of these heat pumps. It will also come with a charger that is about twice as fast as the one on my car. Oh well. Obsolete already.
Welcome to the sixth extinction event.
This is a portrait of an axolotl. My youngest daughter has two of them. They are almost extinct in the wild. However, because they breed well in captivity and because they are valuable for research (they can regenerate entire lost appendages), there is a large captive population. Coincidentally, she also has a pet New Caledonia crested gecko, also on the verge of extinction in the wild, which also breeds well in captivity, and also has a large captive population.
A regular commenter on the R-Squared blog made some reasonable, articulate, and civil comments under my previous post. Rather than address them in the comment field I’ve opted to give my response (which got rather lengthy) in a new post.
If the EPA doesn’t want to up the blend wall, there’s plenty of demand for ethanol around the world. It’s an excellent oxygenate, if nothing else. And there’s no shortage of smog filled cities.
Nobody is arguing to remove the freedom to blend corn ethanol into fuel as an additive if desired by refiners. A 2004 CARB study showed that ethanol actually increased smog forming emissions relative to non-oxygenated gas by 45%. Two years later the EPA dropped the requirement to oxygenate gas. Modern cars can meet very strict emissions standards in a variety of ways.
The official stated goal of ethanol mandates is to reduce dependency on foreign oil, not smog. Although, spending billions to create a corn ethanol refinery infrastructure to replace a modest portion of our oil with a fuel that itself derives 70% of its energy content from fossil fuels seems like a rather (pick a word) way to accomplish that goal. A corn crop can be seen as just one of many steps needed in a process to convert diesel, natural gas, and coal into ethanol.