Friday, August 26, 2011

If You Subsidize Something You Get More Of It. And That's The Only Way to Get More Solar Energy


DAILY MAIL -- "Hundreds of acres of countryside have been carpeted in solar panels after companies from across the globe flocked to Britain to benefit from a lucrative policy on solar power.  The Feed In Tariff (FIT), launched in April last year. promised those who built solar 'farms' an inflated minimum price for the power generated which is fixed for the next 25 years.  In a rush to beat the deadline which expired earlier this month, a sudden flurry of development has seen around 20 farms spring up, covering at least 200 acres across the country.

The speed of the construction, with some 30 acre sites springing up just weeks after planning permission was granted, has left residents stunned. Homeowners also claim the developments are inefficient, with some of the bigger schemes only developing enough power for 1,000 homes. 

Robin Smith's beautiful view of the Somerset Levels has been blighted by 20,000 solar panel which stretch for over a mile near Puriton.  He said: "It is blanket desecration of the countryside. I feel very sad that it is just for people lining their coffers."

The solar industry has exploded at an alarming rate in Britain. In 2010, there were just five solar farms, generating just 60 megawatts of electricity. There are now thought to be around 20 generating 300 megawatts. More than 200 companies from around the world including China, Germany and America are now operating in the UK and there are more than 2,500 certified installers."

MP: As I mentioned before solar energy is produced by mixing sunlight with tax dollars.

HT: Matt Bixler

109 Comments:

At 8/26/2011 11:10 PM, Blogger gadfly said...

We can't criticize the Brits when we do the same thing with wind turbine towers covering America's flat lands in the Midwest. But the Federal giveaways are enticing farmers to permit virtually useless, noise polluting, electric generators to be built all over their land. Soon environmentalists are going to figure out that we also have to build hydrocarbon-powered generators to support these ugly, bird-killing, wind-power generators. Electricity only when the wind blows.

 
At 8/26/2011 11:48 PM, Blogger juandos said...

From the Institute for Energy Research: Government Report Confirms that Federal Energy-Related Subsidies Have Increased 108 Percent in 3 Years; Wind Subsidies Increased 10-fold

 
At 8/27/2011 5:18 AM, Blogger Larry G said...

well.. it's all about money for sure.

It's not that you can't power your home with solar..you can... and, in fact, most are more cost effective or will break even over 30 years.

and the economics are such that someone would rather have a pool or extra bedrooms for the money ....

In Europe they live in about 1/2 the space we do and the pay twice as much for electricity.

that tilts the economics more in favor or solar.

but to give an idea of the economics of coal... take natural gas of which we now have (if you believe the news) more natural gas than Saudia Arabia has oil.

so .. in theory, you could power your home with a natural gas generator....

but it would cost you easily 3 times as much to power your home with NG than coal...

now.. if you had to burn coal yourself at your home.... would it compare to natural gas or solar?

 
At 8/27/2011 6:04 AM, Blogger rjs said...

that why we subsidize oil?

 
At 8/27/2011 6:08 AM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

>> in fact, most are more cost effective or will break even over 30 years.

Yeah, thanks to subsidies up, down, and sideways through the ying-yang.

 
At 8/27/2011 8:43 AM, Blogger Rufus II said...

Actually, it's expected that we'll be installing solar farms, sans subsidies, for $2.00/Watt, and less, by the end of 2012 (my personal prediction is that we will be looking at $1.50/Watt in two to three years.

It's, also, become clear that the danged things last virtually "forever."

PV Solar will turn out, w/o subsidies, to be Way the Cheapest "Peaking Power" that it's possible to install in the Southern/Southwest USA.

 
At 8/27/2011 8:49 AM, Blogger Rufus II said...

As for "Wind:" Iowa already gets 20% of its Electricity from Wind, and in a recent poll, 85% of Iowans wanted "More Wind."

 
At 8/27/2011 9:05 AM, Blogger juandos said...

Well rufus I for one hope you're right regarding the $2.00/watt (unsubsidized) solar collector system...

What are your reading/hearing/seeing that gives you the idea that by the end of 2012 this might start coming about?

 
At 8/27/2011 9:14 AM, Blogger Rufus II said...

Here's and Example Juandos.

 
At 8/27/2011 9:15 AM, Blogger Rufus II said...

"And Example" = "An Example."

:)

 
At 8/27/2011 9:22 AM, Blogger Rufus II said...

San Antonio (USA's 8th Largest City) already has about 20 MW of Solar. They were going to add another 40 MW until the bids started coming in; then they decided to go for 400 Megawatts. It just made sense.

I bet Texas wishes it had a couple of Gigawatts of Solar right now. :)

 
At 8/27/2011 9:36 AM, Blogger Rufus II said...

The CEO of a large manufacturing company was on CNBC yesterday morning. He said, one of the biggest tailwinds to manufacturing in the U.S. right now is the low cost of nat. gas.

Now, nat gas is cheap in the U.S., right now, for a couple of reasons.

One, is that the drillers are frac'ing for nat gas at a loss. It's complicated, but they are.

A Second likely cause is, there aren't many nat gas power plants being built, or planned, at present, due to the lowering costs of Wind, and Solar.

Admittedly, to date, a large part of the popularity of "Renewables" has been the 30% Tax Credit/Subsidy. However, the subsidies (which go away in a couple of months) have stoked a boom in demand that has caused a great amount of competition in the marketplace.

The Manufacturers, especially the Solar Manufacturers, have become/are becoming Vastly more efficient. When the subsidies go away, the efficiencies will remain. This is how these things are "designed to work," and, sometimes, we get lucky, and the plan comes together. This appears to be one of those times.

 
At 8/27/2011 10:33 AM, Blogger Che is dead said...

While lower equipment and installation costs will make solar energy attractive to individual homeowners in certain parts of the country, solar will never be a viable alternative to hydro, nuclear or fossil fuels for large scale energy production. Problems with high ancillary costs, limited production windows and storage make it prohibitively expensive and impractical.

It really doesn't matter if you can achieve an installed base rate of $1 Wt when the panels are producing electricity, on average, only 30 percent of the time and there is no cost efficient method of storing the excess energy for use at times of peak demand. Add in the high ancillary costs, including the need for copious amounts of water in semi-desert climates (solar panels require constant cleaning to maintain peak efficiency), and solar cannot compete with a fuel like coal or natural gas which produce low cost energy 90+ percent of the time at a third of the capital costs.

Solar subsidies simply divert precious resources away from other economic uses, including the viable production of energy.

 
At 8/27/2011 10:50 AM, Blogger juandos said...

Thanks for the link rufus and yeah there's some interesting stuff there without a doubt...

"I bet Texas wishes it had a couple of Gigawatts of Solar right now"...

True, especially in light of Obama's EPA assault on Texas...

Still even for south Texas and similer areas solar can be problematic until there is a safe and cheap way to store solar generated electricity for those once in a blue moon rainy days...

 
At 8/27/2011 10:54 AM, Blogger Rufus II said...

PV panels do Not require "constant" cleaning. That's nonsense. Solar, and Wind require vastly less water than Nuclear, and, I imagine, no more than nat gas or coal.

Solar works wonderfully when correlated with Wind. The very time when wind is weak, solar is strong. Bad Solar days tend to be Good Wind days.

Why Intermittancy, and Ancillary Costs are Not a Big Deal.

 
At 8/27/2011 11:04 AM, Blogger Rufus II said...

To stay with Texas, for an example, they are, also, building some "offshore" wind." It provides a more reliable, steady 24 hr'ish electricity production than inland.

I tend to look at Solar, and Wind somewhat the same way - as "Peaking" power.

Solar in the South, and Wind in the North. As I said, the citizens of Iowa, and Minnesota love their wind. It's not so valuable on a "hot" summer afternoon, but comes to the front, nicely, on those cold, February nights.

And, remember, when Texas ran out of electricity this winter, it wasn't the "Wind" that let them down. Those Turbines did their job, nicely. It was the Coal, and Nat Gas plants that "froze up."

 
At 8/27/2011 11:28 AM, Blogger juandos said...

Well rufus Chris Varrone is lying to the reader by ommission...

The problems with wind turbines hasn't even been remotely addressed...

 
At 8/27/2011 11:33 AM, Blogger Larry G said...

here's the bad part.

if a solar breakthrough really does occur and revolutionizes the industry - the industry is going to go to Congress and the states and ask for "investor relief" ... to make whole their "stranded" investments...

re: natural gas.

I don't know how much it costs in bulk to the power companies but at the consumer level - it would cost you $1500 a month or more to power your home off of a CNG gas generator.

How about this - whatever we subsidize the Nukes with.. we also subsidize solar and wind?

fair ? or shut the Nukes down?

 
At 8/27/2011 11:45 AM, Blogger Rufus II said...

Well, Juandos, that was interesting. I'm not sure it was really very important, but it was interesting. :)

At first glance, it does feel like he was searching awfully hard to find something negative to say. We'll see, huh?

 
At 8/27/2011 11:50 AM, Blogger Rufus II said...

Larry, I somewhat doubt a coming "revolution." What I do foresee is a slow, steady move toward more renewables. After all, Coal, And Gas Are finite resources, and Nuclear, right now, isn't looking so hot (or, Too hot, depending on how you see it.) :)

 
At 8/27/2011 11:55 AM, Blogger Che is dead said...

Solar power plants, while contributing less than 1% of our electricity, use more water than thermal plants to wash the panels and for cooling of Concentrated Solar Power (CSP). Almost all thermal power plants require about the same amount of water to cool a megawatt using conventional cooling methods. -- AHEI

Dust on solar panels can decrease their efficiency by about 3 percent, solar photovoltaic experts said. The larger the solar array, the more electricity lost. Solar photovoltaic developers say their plants don’t use much water, but “much” is relative. -- Las Vegas Sun

Nuclear and coal may be big offenders, but wet-cooled concentrating solar power uses even more water per MWh of electricity generated. -- Energy Self-Reliant States

The high expectations for solar energy tend to overshadow some concerns about this much acclaimed clean, green alternative energy option. Solar facilities require electrical transmission lines, are often located on land providing habitat for plants and animals and, at issue here, consume large quantities of water. -- Arizona Water Resource

North American deserts are prime candidates for solar power, yet they come with a serious lack of water. Solar thermal power plants require large amounts to create the steam that spins the turbines and to cool the steam as it is condensed back into water in cooling towers (called a wet-cooled system). Most of the fresh water used up by these plants is lost in these cooling towers where waste heat is evaporated into the air. -- CalFinder

 
At 8/27/2011 12:12 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

I don't think solar from central plants is going to be where we go.

and Solar on a home or office building won't have the "water" problems alleged.

and in terms of "cleaning"...

office windows and home windows also require "cleaning".. so what?

I was touring a wastewater treatment plant the other day where they use ultra violate "tubes" to disinfect the effluent... and each tube has "wiper" on it.. and the wiper cleans the tube periodically.

If Solar panels replace windows.. then the "cleaning" would be no different ...

but I AGREE.. anything that is exposed is going to get dirty... and need to be cleaned...

but that's not a reason to not use the technology...

if you used that same concept with regard to "cleaning" Nukes or "cleaning" coal ... you'd have much more significant issues...

fact is we don't "clean" Nukes nor Coal Plants... we store the Nuke waste and we dump the Coal waste on the countryside.... as anyone who lives near a coal plant can easily attest to...

 
At 8/27/2011 12:19 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"I'm not sure it was really very important..."...

Really?

So are those folks looking into it merely scare mongering?

 
At 8/27/2011 12:21 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"as anyone who lives near a coal plant can easily attest to..."...

Hmmm, I live within 30 miles of a couple of large, open pit Peabody coal mines and I don't see this supposed mess you're talking about... Then again maybe Illinois or Peabody is different from the others...

 
At 8/27/2011 12:35 PM, Blogger Che is dead said...

"PV panels do Not require "constant" cleaning. That's nonsense. Solar, and Wind require vastly less water than Nuclear, and, I imagine, no more than nat gas or coal." -- Rufus

"and in terms of "cleaning"... office windows and home windows also require "cleaning".. so what?" -- Larry G

Commercial solar arrays do require constant cleaning, particularly because they are most often located in dry, dusty desert and semi-desert areas. But that it the least of the problems with regard to PV. PV does not scale. There are very real physical limitations to the amount of power that can be produced by a PV cell even if they could operate at 100 percent efficiency. In order to scale, PV plants require large surface areas. That is why designers have moved to the concentrated "solar tower" design, which uses more water than conventional sources of energy, but must still be located in semi-desert areas to achieve maximum efficiency. All of this still leaves the problem of peak usage and storage. Without adequate storage conventional plants will have to be built and idled as a back-up. Add up all the ancillary costs and solar and wind are complete bullshit.

 
At 8/27/2011 12:43 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

no .. an operating 24/7 coal plant.. guy....

ask the folks who live downwind of the stacks...

 
At 8/27/2011 12:51 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

" All of this still leaves the problem of peak usage and storage. Without adequate storage conventional plants will have to be built and idled as a back-up. Add up all the ancillary costs and solar and wind are complete bullshit"

in a home situation.. you can have batteries and a CNG backup-generator.

if a home can use solar during the day especially at times where peak demand occurs.. and use the grid power at night ... you don't need "storage".

that's why I think solar is going to gravitate to home rather than central generation.

if you have solar and a CNG backup generator... grid power might end up in a different light.

The power companies are now deploying "smart meters" in many locations where they are using them to charge different rates for different times.. and the most expensive rate at peak demand.

at some point - solar may well be cheaper than paying much higher rates at peak demand periods.

I predict that if/when a power company institutes peak power rates.. it will accelerate the adoption of solar...

 
At 8/27/2011 1:22 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"ask the folks who live downwind of the stacks.."....

Hmmm, I've been living 7 miles (as the crow flies) downwind of an AmerenUE coal fired plant for almost thirty years and I haven't had any problems...

Larry G, are you making it up as you go along? I tend to expect that from lefties...

 
At 8/27/2011 1:30 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

here guy: put this in your Google:

" living downwind from a coal-burning plant"

yeah.. I know it's all lies from lefties!

:-)

acid rain - another figment of lefty imaginations, eh?

 
At 8/27/2011 1:46 PM, Blogger Rufus II said...

Che, you'll notice I was speaking of "Photovoltaic" farms, not "Concentrated Solar Thermal."

Actually, one Big Development that was planned for Solar Thermal is now changing at least the first half to Photovoltaic.

 
At 8/27/2011 1:53 PM, Blogger Rufus II said...

Land Area? My God, you're talking scrub, wasteland, desert.

250 Acres for 100 Megawatts? Of Desert? Come on.

 
At 8/27/2011 1:56 PM, Blogger Rufus II said...

My Lord, you could drop 10,000 Megawatts in the middle of W. Texas w/o a single, living human being knowing it's there.

 
At 8/27/2011 1:58 PM, Blogger Rufus II said...

Or, even better, Nevada.

 
At 8/27/2011 2:01 PM, Blogger Rufus II said...

Larry, I think "Large, Flat-Roofed Commercial" Buildings will be the "next" big cost-effective move.

 
At 8/27/2011 2:10 PM, Blogger Rufus II said...

We get 40% of our thermal coal (the kind used in power plants) from the Powder River Basin. Those mines will be, mostly, played-out in 20 years.

Now, admittedly, there is more coal there, but it is a lot deeper, and will be much more expensive to get to. Illinois has a lot of coal, but it is very high sulfur, and expensive to clean.

Also, overlooked by many, is that way the biggest cost of coal is in the transport. And, as petroleum depletes, and diesel gets more expensive, transport will increase in price.

A Solar Panel, on the other hand, has a one-time, fixed cost (with very, very minor maintenance costs,) and will just sit there, happily, lapping up the Free Sunlight for, quite honestly, no one knows how many years.

They're taking 30 yr old solar panels down, now, that are still within factory specs.

 
At 8/27/2011 2:15 PM, Blogger Rufus II said...

A Watt of Solar in S California seems to be yielding around 3.5 KWhrs/yr.

So, it's not hard to see how pretty that paid-off solar farm is going to look 20, 30, or 50 years down the road.

 
At 8/27/2011 3:49 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"acid rain - another figment of lefty imaginations, eh?"...

Yeah, actually is was a leftie scam ala the anthropomorphic global climate change scam...

 
At 8/27/2011 3:49 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"Well rufus Chris Varrone is lying to the reader by ommission..."

In addition to lying by ommission, he is also just flat out lying.

So far I have read about 10% of this long article, and so far I see several glaring problems.

1. Not only does Varrone misuse the term "externality", but makes this false claim:

"Think about that: the fossil fuel plant is humming along and a storm front moves in. The wind whips up, and the wind farms bid in nearly free power. Well, fossil fuel costs money, so the fossil-plant operator will often choose to ramp down rather than sell electricity for free. But then the storm front moves through quicker than expected — and the fossil plant has to ramp up again. Up and down, over and over, all year long."

If you have anywhere near as much knowledge of power generation as you claim, you must see the problems here. A wind turbine must be adjusted for a relatively narrow range of wind speeds. It cannot just run faster and faster, producing ever more electricity. Increased wind speeds due to a storm would require that the turbines be shut down, to avoid disasters like the one juandos showed you.

Then, a fossil fuel plant, at least a coal powered one, cannot be cycled up and down to save fuel
in the time frame involved when a storm comes up.

Varrone must know this, so he is just making shit up.

2. Then there.s this claim: "Are there rolling blackouts in Europe due to their reliance on wind energy? No, far from it. The reliability of European grids is far better than US grids... ...“The United States ranks toward the bottom among developed nations in terms of the reliability of its electricity service… The average U.S. customer loses power for 214 minutes per year. That compares to 70 in the UK, 53 in France, 29 in the Netherlands, 6 in Japan, and 2 minutes per year in Singapore."

To suggest that other countries have more reliable electric service despite relying to a greater extent on wind, ignores outages caused by the distribution system rather than the source. In the US, most power outages are due to damage caused by severe weather events, and equipment failures, not source failures. To suggest otherwise is dishonest.

I'll continue reading, and if you like I'll report on what I expect will be a large number of additional failures of veracity. I'm particularly interested in reading what Varrone has to say, if anything, about the increible amount of land needed, and the mind boggling amount of distribution from wind machines needed to provide energy at any meaningful scale.

What I see here is a propaganda piece by someone whose business is promoting wind energy, and who cares little for reality. What do you see?

You might want to use more believable sources in the future.

 
At 8/27/2011 4:03 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"in a home situation.. you can have batteries and a CNG backup-generator."

There goes any possible savings. Incentives matter.

 
At 8/27/2011 4:06 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"Larry G, are you making it up as you go along? I tend to expect that from lefties..."

It certainly seems that way, doesn't it? Numbers seem to appear out of thin air, with no attempt to support them.

 
At 8/27/2011 4:25 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

coal plants are dirty and folks who live downstream of them know it...and any number of easily accessed reliable sources will confirm it.

not only soot, but mercury, acid and a wide variety of pollutants .....

all I was pointing out was how ridiculous it is to say that solar panels get "dirty"..... well guys... coal plants get "dirty" too... and Nukes also get "dirty".

and the "dirty" from Coals and Nukes makes the "dirty" from solar look downright silly.

we are about one major breakthrough away from coal an nukes becoming "stranded" investments.... IMHO.

and all over the country whether it be the Columbia Gorge, the Snake River Plains, Nebraska or West Virginia these giant wind turbines are going up.

you have to wonder who is putting them up, eh?

 
At 8/27/2011 4:29 PM, Blogger Rufus II said...

When he said "fossil fuel," perhaps he was speaking of nat gas?

Anyway, keep reading - All will be revealed. :)

Like I said, Iowa gets 20% of its electricity from Wind, and 85% of Iowans, polled, want to increase that number. And Iowa has fairly decent electricity rates if I remember correctly.

That's about all I need to know. :)

 
At 8/27/2011 4:34 PM, Blogger Rufus II said...

And, Larry, when it comes to putting up "Wind," those crazy greenie Chinese are making us All look like Pikers.

Why? Because, Now, they're in the Coal "Importing" business, as well as the "Oil" Importing business, and they don't like it.

 
At 8/27/2011 5:12 PM, Blogger Trey said...

It appears that some folks here have been drinking the green energy kool-aid. I stopped drinking a few years ago after a friend said he wanted to get a rooftop wind generator (he already had solar panels). I looked at the company’s literature and realized it was total BS. The KW or so that they were saying they could generate was totally unrealistic. It was easy to derive the wind power formula: power is proportional to the cube of the wind velocity. (My background is physics.) This means that if the wind speed is 1/2 the rated speed, the power is 1/8th the rated power!!! (1/2 times 1/2 times 1/2.) Think about this. If the wind speed goes from say 10mph to 5mph, only about 10% of the power is going to be generated. We have had some high energy days here in Texas were wind power could only supply 1/20th of it’s total rated power (~10 GW). Why? There's less wind on hot summer days. There may be some wind, but a small decrease in wind speed is a huge decrease in power! When we needed it most, it failed.

I realize that this is an economics blog. There are plenty of economic reasons that green energy is snake oil (as M. Perry is pointing out). I would also recommend getting acquainted with the scientific reasons green energy has not been able to compete with fossil and nuclear: power density. This was a big revelation to me. Energy expert Vaclav Smil (note he is progressive in his politics, see his articles at The Breakthrough Institute) has an excellent primer on power density. It’s long, but it is highly recommended, as is Robert Bryce’s book Power Hungry.

http://www.masterresource.org/2010/05/smil-density-comparisons-v/

Smil gives 2W/m2 for wind and 10W/m2 for solar as average power densities. Natural gas can easily be 1000W/m2 and greater. Nuclear is off the scale.

 
At 8/27/2011 5:32 PM, Blogger Rufus II said...

What was the "power density" of those coal, and nat gas plants that failed in Texas as the Turbines kept, happily, producing electricity?

What was the "power density" of the Fukushima plant?

Why should a "watt" give a hoot what the power density of the source was?

What was the "power density" of the Wind turbines that kept merrily turning while Fukushima was burning?

Why should an Iowan that is kept affordably warm on a cold February night by Wind Power give a lick about the "power density" of the turbine?

Do you think the Texans would love to have a couple of Gigawatts of "power undense" solar-generated electricity along about now?

How's the "power density" of that $300.00/ton coal, and that $20.00 nat gas going to look a few years down the road when that "power un-dense" Solar, and wind, is "free, and paid-for?"

"Power Density" has to be the most non-meaningful phrase I've run into yet in the energy discussions.

 
At 8/27/2011 5:42 PM, Blogger Trey said...

And, remember, when Texas ran out of electricity this winter, it wasn't the "Wind" that let them down. Those Turbines did their job, nicely. It was the Coal, and Nat Gas plants that "froze up."

Good try. Nice spin. Here's a good post with a better explanation of how wind performed:

http://meteorologicalmusings.blogspot.com/2011/02/separating-facts-from-spin.html

and my comment at the same link, which I reproduce here:

What we have here is a problem of expectations. The people giving you heck are saying “look what wind did: it provided 3500-4000 MW during the rolling blackouts, which is at or above the 30% average capacity of wind power. Wind did its job.” As you point out, wind has >9000 MW nameplate capacity available in Texas. Wind could have in principle made up the difference. Instead it was average when it was needed most. The cynic in me says the bar is not set very high for wind energy. The scientist/engineer in me agrees fully with you that money is going to the wrong energy sources. The environmentalist in me says wind is not so environmentally friendly. (Basically due to low energy density – see Robert Bryce’s book Power Hungry.)

But the rent-seekers are more and more entrenched and can afford to have staff that patrol the internet for postings by green-energy heretics. Good luck, heresy isn’t easy.

Trey

PS: Texas appears to have ~ 100,000 MW of electricity capacity (http://ftp.eia.doe.gov/state/state_energy_profiles.cfm?sid=TX). Imagine if only 30% of “conventional” power sources had been available when we needed 45,000 to 55,000 MW.

PPS: If your expectations for wind capacity are as low at 5% , 30% capacity sounds phenomenal. http://www.robertbryce.com/node/374

 
At 8/27/2011 5:45 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"A Watt of Solar in S California seems to be yielding around 3.5 KWhrs/yr."

Be careful, Rufus, remember that you have trouble with numbers, especially on the optimistic side.

That number requires 9.6 hrs of maximum sunlight every day of the year.

Remembering that the average day year round is 12 hrs of total sunlight, and that's total, not maximum, and that most solar estimates use a number of 5-6 hrs.day for maximum sunlight, do you think that 3.5kwh is just a tad over optimistic?

Consider your sources a little more carefully.

Your claim of 2.5 acre/mw is for actual panal area only. You may want to allow more. The proposed Blythe Plant in california will need 7000 acres to produce 240mw.

Last but not least, what you consider wasteland, may be something else to others.

What you see as an easy, obvious, cheap idea, may be anything but.

 
At 8/27/2011 5:56 PM, Blogger Trey said...

I bet Texas wishes it had a couple of Gigawatts of Solar right now. :)

No we don’t. Its economics are poor, and it has many “negative externalities”, as all power sources have. See my above comment: since its power density is low, it uses too much land. It also needs a disproportional amount of “stuff” to make (e.g., silicon, metal, transmission wires). I would personally prefer more nat gas and nuclear over coal. But the positive internalities (?) of coal are tremendous (cheap, abundant, reliable, dispatchable, etc.), giving me less pause for concern. Should I mention how our air quality has improved, even before the EPA?

http://www.amazon.com/Clearing-Air-Real-Story-Pollution/dp/1882577833

 
At 8/27/2011 5:58 PM, Blogger Rufus II said...

It's just common sense, and legitimate accounting, Trey. 30% is the accepted norm (some locations a little less, some a little more.) No one puts up a 100 megawatt windfarm expecting 100 Megawatts 24/7/365. That would just be silly.

You price your windfarm on average results in similar locations. That means you will usually get a bit less than 800 MW hrs X 365.

These are "strawman," and Reducto ad Absurdum arguments.

No One would expect to get 100% of their electricity from Wind. That would be silly. Usually, there is quite a large die-off in wind from about 10:00 AM till 2:00 PM, when it starts picking up again.

That's why "pairing" Wind, and Solar is such a good idea. And, there will still be a place for some nat gas spinning reserve for quite some time I imagine (although, there is the matter of biogas from cellulosic ethanol plants that we haven't gotten around to yet.)

And, we really do have a horrible excuse for a "Grid." I was amazed to find out just how minute is our ability to "load balance" over any sort of distances, whatsoever.

But, that's a topic for, hopefully, another day. :)

 
At 8/27/2011 6:05 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Actually, it's not clear what capacity the Blythe plant will have. Originally planned as a solar thermal plant, it now appears that at least the first half will be PV. It's not clear whether the 500mw figure associated with it is total capacity, or just the first half, but in any case the required acreage is at least 3 times the 2.5 acre/mw figure you coughed up.

 
At 8/27/2011 6:06 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

here's the turbines we saw along the Columbia River this summer:

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

" Phase 3 will complete the project and allow for a maximum generating capacity of 450 megawatts, though the anticipated generation is estimated to average 150 megawatts.[8] The final phase was completed in September 2010, with the project totaling 217 turbines at a cost $1 billion"

now that's a BILLION dollars that comes from investors... (I assume)...

each turbine appears to cost 4+ million dollars...

that's not something the average ranch guy is going to put up...that's real bucks...

it's got to come from investors...

and last I heard.. investors expect a return on their investment....

We saw hundreds of new wind turbine this summer... and at 4 million per... someone is putting their money where their mouth is....

 
At 8/27/2011 6:13 PM, Blogger Trey said...

My Lord, you could drop 10,000 Megawatts in the middle of W. Texas w/o a single, living human being knowing it's there.

No you can’t. The stark desert drive on I-10 out to El Paso is now polluted with 1000s of wind turbines. How ironic that environmentalists support energy-sprawl which is 10^6 times worse than throwing trash on the highway. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_Eyes_Cody)

Solar farms would be visible – probably less of an eyesore -- but they still would be a problem due to power lines. As a happy user of Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, I was very upset to hear that they wanted to put up transmission lines in clear view from the dome. (After complaints, I think the route has been moved.) People (like my parents) in the Texas Hill Country are very upset over having their scenic landscapes blighted by high voltage transmission lines:

http://www.texastribune.org/texas-energy/wind-energy/fighting-power-lines-protect-hill-country-vistas/

 
At 8/27/2011 6:18 PM, Blogger Rufus II said...

I don't know, Ron; I might be a touch high on the 3.5. I kinda estimated it by looking at what their present facilities are doing. I haven't found an exact 12 mo number, so I wouldn't want to "go to war" over it.

Two things, though. In the Spring, summmer, and Fall months the Cal. Solar plants Do tend to produce just about 11 hrs at Max.

Also, those other hours Do produce (just not at max.) Admittedly, Jan, and Feb get mighty skinny, so if someone challenged me to a fight over the difference between 3.5 and 3.0 I'd most certainly decline.

However, I probably would enjoin the fray before I'd go less than 3.0, and That is a plenty big number when you're talking $2.00/Watt, or less.

And, "The Sierra Club?"

They'd sue you for taking a picture of the desert if they got a chance.

And, Trey, I think I read that the base of a wind turbine is something like 40 ft squared, and the power rating, on average, is 1.5 Megawatts (which, in the real world, is 0.5 Megawatts.) All the land in between the turbine bases is available for farming, grazing, fishing, or whatnot.

 
At 8/27/2011 6:33 PM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

>> Actually, it's expected that we'll be installing solar farms, sans subsidies, for $2.00/Watt, and less, by the end of 2012 (my personal prediction is that we will be looking at $1.50/Watt in two to three years.


"Expected"? By WHOM ?


*Un*subsidized to bring it to that point?

How much money would you care to bet on that, Rufus? I'll give you a Simon–Ehrlich wager you're wrong.

Anyone who claims this is ignorant not just of solar reality, but fairly basic physics, chemistry, economics, and mathematics.

It's a flat-out crock.

 
At 8/27/2011 6:36 PM, Blogger Rufus II said...

So, 13 actual megawatts would take up about an acre of land. (42,000 / 1,600)

A Section of land (640 acres) would yield about 8,400 Megawatts, or 8.4 Gigawatts.

Let's see any Nuclear, or Coal Plant top that.

Edit: Actually, it seems an acre is 43,560 sq ft, so it would take bit less than a section for 8,400 Megawatts. - close enough for "blog work," anyway, eh?

 
At 8/27/2011 6:37 PM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

>> As for "Wind:" Iowa already gets 20% of its Electricity from Wind, and in a recent poll, 85% of Iowans wanted "More Wind."

I have news for you: Iowa gets less than 1/10th of 1% of its power from Wind, and, in a recent poll, 312% of Iowans wanted "Less Wind, more Power".

See, I can make up random crap, too.

When you cite "a poll", you'll need to at least provide a link. When you cite a rather blantatly ridiculously ludicrous claim like "20% power from wind", you'll need a link to THAT, too.

Iowans get "20% of the power used to pump water to their hogs", THAT, I might believe.

 
At 8/27/2011 6:41 PM, Blogger Rufus II said...

Bloodyhell, I'm not the least bit interested in making any new friends over the internet, much less gambling with them.

But, I have some actual experiance installing similar things, and if you were a "here and now, known, trusted" acquaintance I would probably make your bet.

 
At 8/27/2011 6:44 PM, Blogger Rufus II said...

Well, the Republican Governor of Iowa used that number just about two weeks ago on Fox News. AWEA, also, states that in 2011 Iowa has produced 20% of its electricity from Wind.

If you don't believe the AWEA, and myself, take it up with the Guv.

 
At 8/27/2011 6:47 PM, Blogger Trey said...

30% is the accepted norm (some locations a little less, some a little more.)

Yes, I know that. So let’s call 30% nominal, keeping with low expectations. As I mentioned, there are times when wind provides 10% or even just 5% of its nameplate capacity. So now we have to go put up extra nat gas plants and idle them until those times when wind is low (and it’s always when we need it the most). What a waste, both economically and environmentally. That’s like having to have say 5 cars because every now and then, when you know you need transportation the most, 4 of the cars will not work.

Did those cars materialize out of thin air? No, they came from resources. If economics is about the allocation of scarce resources for alternative purposes, then wind is the poster child for the worst kind of uneconomic thinking.

Wind farms use 10x more concrete and 10x more steel than nat gas plants, for the same amount of generating capacity. That extra concrete and steel could be used for alternative purposes, such as repairing our highway system.

We wouldn’t go buy ipads, sneakers, milk, or anything else if every now and then, when you needed those things the most, they underperformed as bad as wind.

 
At 8/27/2011 6:49 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"When he said "fossil fuel," perhaps he was speaking of nat gas?"

That's really lame. Is that your final answer? If he meant nat gas, he should say nat gas, not fossil fuel. Twice as much coal as nat gas is used to generate electricity.

What about my other points? do you have defenses for Vallone's other whoppers?

"Like I said, Iowa gets 20% of its electricity from Wind, and 85% of Iowans, polled, want to increase that number. And Iowa has fairly decent electricity rates if I remember correctly.

That's about all I need to know. :)
"

Actually, electric rates in IA are about average for the US. You should consider using the number 81% when you speak of the Neil Newhouse poll, if that's what you are referring to, as that's what the press release from the AWEA says.

You are being sloppy with numbers again.

I wonder how they will like their rates when the rest of us no longer pay part of their electric bill for them?

 
At 8/27/2011 6:52 PM, Blogger Rufus II said...

Governors play a major role in promoting wind energy themselves. In Iowa, Gov. Branstad signed the nation’s first renewable energy standard during the first year of his first term, in 1983. That encouraged Iowa to become the first state to generate 20 percent of its electricity from wind, a goal which the George W. Bush administration predicted the entire nation can reach by 2030.
Source: Clean Technica (http://s.tt/137N3)
Governors play a major role in promoting wind energy themselves. In Iowa, Gov. Branstad signed the nation’s first renewable energy standard during the first year of his first term, in 1983. That encouraged Iowa to become the first state to generate 20 percent of its electricity from wind, a goal which the George W. Bush administration predicted the entire nation can reach by 2030.

Source: Clean Technica (http://s.tt/137N3)

Source

 
At 8/27/2011 6:55 PM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

Here's an example
=========================

You're a friggin' IDIOT, Rufus.

Item ONE giveaway:

"Visit our Solar Stores in Hermosa Beach, Torrance and Fallbrook"

THEY SELL THE #^$@%^&& THINGS.

Geee, THEY've got NOTHING to bias their claims!

Item TWO giveaway:
What this means for the market could be momentous and far-reaching, said Mike Sheppard, analyst for photovoltaics and financial services at IHS. "This trend and milestone is significant in that it opens the door for certain installations to potentially drop to $2.00 per watt, in what one hopes would be an important driver for stimulating demand.

They're seeing a price drop and
a) projecting it as though it were a sustainable thing
b) ignoring the effects of subsidies utterly from any drop
c) failing to see (or lying-by-omission-about) the possibility that what is driving these drops is that the player (aka, the manufacturers) can see that the money is about to dry up and don't want to get stuck with a huge mass of unsellable inventory.

Item THREE Givaway:
Look all over the site. See ANYTHING about WHO they are, WHERE they get their info, or WHAT connections they may have to it?

Hint: They EXIST to provide the gullible and stupid with things to point people at to justify their ignorant claims.

SOLAR IS CRAP.

LAND-BASED solar cannot be justified economically, it requires FAR too large a surface area to get even a small amount of power from -- replacing the US power grid would require NOT LESS than covering FOUR-FIFTHS of the ENTIRE surface area of DELAWARE. Yeah, it's a small State, but, it's still a f***ing STATE.

Furthermore, PV production is a filthy process producing MASSS amounts of toxic waste, ALL of which need to be processed in some way or else produce a huge toxic landfill area to "store" it in.

The Soviet Union had a place like this... they called it "Czechoslovakia". I wonder what China's is called?

Hey, it's A-OK if it's only poisoning them furrin' baybeees.
>:-/

At best, Rufus, you're an ignorant fool. You should STFU until there's some sign that has changed.

 
At 8/27/2011 7:02 PM, Blogger Rufus II said...

No one, to date, has Ever built a nat gas plant to "back up" a Solar, or Wind Farm.

Why should they? They're there already. Remember, it's old coal-fired plants that are getting shut down. Also, Iowa needed extra electricity for cold winter nights. Wind was perfect. It's just added onto the existing coal, and gas. Under less stressful conditions some coal can be shut down, and a couple of gassers kept spinning.

Texas, right now, is in kind of an opposite situation. They need "Peak" electricity for Summer Days like we've had the last two years. Solar would be perfect. Again, under normal conditions they can save the money for some coal, and nat gas by taking them offline. No need to build New plants.

 
At 8/27/2011 7:04 PM, Blogger Rufus II said...

And, you have no idea what IHS is, do you?

You might ought to consider keeping your money in your pocket.

 
At 8/27/2011 7:05 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"and last I heard.. investors expect a return on their investment...."

Yes, they do, and they are getting it from you and I in the form of subsidies and loan guarantees.

"We saw hundreds of new wind turbine this summer... and at 4 million per... someone is putting their money where their mouth is...."

Yes, YOU are. See above.

Keep in mind that wind power is nothing new, and was used for hundreds of years until better energy sources came along. It's ridiculous to consider returning to that losing power source now.

 
At 8/27/2011 7:18 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Trey

Thanks for the reminder about the wind power formula. It's easy to forget that wind turbines can only operate in a narrow range of wind speeds.

Many who advocate wind power seem to ignore the physics and the sheer scale necessary to produce any meaningful amount of power from wind.

Without taxpayer dollars propping up these boondoggles, I expect them to dissapear - as energy sources, not as eyesores.

 
At 8/27/2011 7:37 PM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

>> One, is that the drillers are frac'ing for nat gas at a loss. It's complicated, but they are.

Oh, geez, yeah, 'cause the SOLAR people aren't producing these PVs at a loss if you take away the MASSIVE subsidies that are FAR GREATER than any granted to NG. LOL.

I repeat, Rufus -- you're an ignorant fool who knows virtually nothing about the subject except what you've learned to parrot like a good little birdie.

====
>> PV panels do Not require "constant" cleaning. That's nonsense. Solar, and Wind require vastly less water than Nuclear, and, I imagine, no more than nat gas or coal.

"imagine" all you want, Dufus. The water used in nukes and the rest (excl. oil/NG extraction) is part of a largely contained cycle, not something used and then evaporated.

And your claim is total crap -- the power output of a typical PV goes down by as much as FIFTY PERCENT with as little as 10% interference.

They have to be cleaned, and cleaned REGULARLY.

Anyone want a minwage job standing out in the hot sun, acting basically as a "window washer" for these things all day long?

Hey, it's a stimulus-green job!!!

 
At 8/27/2011 7:38 PM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

>>> Solar works wonderfully when correlated with Wind. The very time when wind is weak, solar is strong. Bad Solar days tend to be Good Wind days.

Oh, horse puckey. Cite a source. Try and do a massively better job than you did with this blatant load-o-manure below:

>>> Why Intermittancy, and Ancillary Costs are Not a Big Deal.

Once more, just to show that Dufus doesn't make ANY effort to do his homework:

David graduated with honors from the University of California, San Diego with degrees in Political Science/International Relations and Sociology, and minors in Biology and Law.

and

Zachary: Master’s in city and regional planning from UNC-Chapel Hill. Bachelor’s in Sociology/Environmental Studies from New College of Florida, honors college of the state university system.

1) "New College of Florida" -- I'm familiar with the SUS of FL --- Never heard of it. So I wikid it. This is the part I like:
(1) each student is responsible in the last analysis for his or her own education
Does the phrase "liberal bullsh** college" mean anything to ya? It's the kind of school women go to to earn their MRS degrees from. Why a guy would be going there, except maybe to find someone to offer an MRS to, I can't imagine. Certainly not to learn anything useful.
And anyone familiar with Mike Adams' columns over at Townhall is probably aware of what a libtard haven the UNC system is.


And finally, what exactly, marks either of these two as capable of vetting ANYTHING technical on their own with the least semblance of reliability...?


Furthermore, and most importantly, the author of the piece itself is:
a special guest post by Chris Varrone, Founder & President of Riverview Consulting and former Chief Strategist, Technology R&D at Vestas Wind Systems.

Yeah, if someone on the anti-side had that kind of background, they'd be all over it doubting if it was likely to be reliable. Because he's clearly got a possible iron in that fire.

So, yeah, sounds like EXACTLY the kind of guys to rely on for accurate technical info, doesn't it, Dufus??

But wait, lest this be claimed to be "ad hominem", here's this little hidden gem in the middle of it:
Many studies have found the cost of wind integration to be in the $3 to $5 per MWh range. Or about FOUR TENTHS of a cent per kWh.

REALLY? It's the single major issue common to BOTH solar *and* WIND at this point -- their unreliability and intermittancy.

And how does our author explain it?

How indeed?
*********************************
A handwave citing "many sources" -- not a one named or even hinted at (allowing one to FIND these mythical "sources"**) -- which list a cost FAR below that of anything *I*ve ever heard of.
*********************************

** My money is his mythical "sources" are the beans he had for lunch. They speak to him in vast detail in the bathroom the next morning.

'Nuff said. I've demonstrated that Dufus has no idea how to vette a source for reliability and competency. That says that
a) you can't trust anything he says without full attribution
b) You'll need to carefully vette anything he points you to for reliability, as its probability of such approaches zero as a limit somewhat faster than an inverse-Gamma curve.

 
At 8/27/2011 7:39 PM, Blogger Rufus II said...

Larry, I went to your Link

The Total cost is $1 Billion. 217 Turbines with a Max capacity of 450 Megawatts - expected to produce about 150 Megawatts on average.

Those numbers are pretty much in the "average" range - perhaps a touch high at "today's" prices.

As long as the Republicans can't figure out a way to "charge" for the wind :) it's going to be a sweet little money-maker going forward.

It IS true that, "We" kicked in $300 million of that, but that tax credit goes away on Dec 31st of this year, and we will have built a nice little industry, and saved some fossil fuels along the way.

BTW, in the previous article I put up, there was an interview with the owner of the Iowa Wind Turbine Factory that produces the Wind Turbines that the Iowans install.

If anyone cares to google "Iowa" it's a hell of a state. 6% unemployment, and one of the top rated k-12 programs in the country. It's not only a net Food Exporter, it's, now, within a gnat's eyelash of being a Net "Energy" Exporter.

Snarky comments about "hog farms," notwithstanding. Agriculture is only about 3% of Iowa State Product.

 
At 8/27/2011 7:40 PM, Blogger Rufus II said...

Oh, I brought that up because the last 10% of the nat gas we use is imported from Canada.

 
At 8/27/2011 7:43 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

" Yes, they do, and they are getting it from you and I in the form of subsidies and loan guarantees."

sounds a lot like Nukes, eh?

 
At 8/27/2011 7:44 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"What was the "power density" of those coal, and nat gas plants that failed in Texas as the Turbines kept, happily, producing electricity?

What was the "power density" of the Fukushima plant?

Why should a "watt" give a hoot what the power density of the source was?
"

You are getting off track here, and just ranting.

Stick to a discussion of the subject at hand. You are beginning to sound like Larry.

 
At 8/27/2011 7:49 PM, Blogger Rufus II said...

Well, you certainly have demonstrated "something," O Bloody One.

I guess I'll leave it up to the readership to determine "exactly what."

 
At 8/27/2011 7:51 PM, Blogger Rufus II said...

The "Subject," Ron, is the economic viability of Solar (and, it seems, Wind.)

For the life of me I can't connect "power density" with economic viability.

 
At 8/27/2011 7:53 PM, Blogger Rufus II said...

Sounding like "Larry" is OK by me. He puts up informative links. Unlike many of his detractors.

 
At 8/27/2011 8:09 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

energy density? it's true that coal and oil are kings in that area and also true that in vehicles it's important for range va tank size.

but in a fixed facility... how important is that?

natural gas - for instance is not as energy dense as gasoline and thus the same size tank yields less range but what is the impact of that in electricity generation?

more important is where the supplies of natural gas are relative to the plant...

and if you burned coal for electric generation at your home... it would be much more expensive not to mention the total polluted mess it would cause....

none of which has much to do with the lower energy density of a remote generation facility.

there are a million places that solar could be "distributed" along roads and medians and parking lots , pipeline and powerline corridors... etc.

it's not a question of siting solar... it's a question of cost and if cost comes down, coal-plants will go the way of whale oil lamps.

and investors will flee the electric utilities that are stuck with "stranded' costs...

 
At 8/27/2011 8:14 PM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

And just to cite a few sources of my own:

Chinese Waste Billions Building Unused Wind Power Capacity

No Free Wind
-- Not a place to trust, but a place to find initial analysis which you can then examine the conclusions it makes using the links, graphs, and other information they provide, while determining your own idea as to its reliability... unlike places like "Clean Technica" which make their own analysis which you're expected to not find any argument with... being a stupid parrot and all that.

Why Alternative Power Is and Will Remain Useless

Cheap Solar Cells Alone Do Not Make Cheap Solar Power
Again -- read, and come to your own conclusions. The links are there for you to examine for yourselves.

Carpe Diem: "Peak Solar" Hits Tennessee as Grant $$ Run Out
--An indication of, as I intimate above, that the reason panel prices are dropping *may* be that the manufacturers are aware their subsidies are about to run dry, and they need to dump their inventory before it becomes unsellable.

Cloudy with 100% Chance of Corporate State
-- Lest you imagine I'm a shill for the GOP candidates... This one jumps down Perry's throat.

Weak Wind
-- Carl @ No Oil For Pacifists fisks some common Wind claims with the actual facts.

Danish Patsies

Obama's Solar Nightmare

For Amusement Purposes Only:
Dilbert

The Empire Strikes Out
-- When the UK government itself starts warning its citizens that they should expect to have electricity more like a third-world country... is that a warning sign, or not?

 
At 8/27/2011 8:14 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

I think your CA numbers for long hours apply to solar thermal plants. You were talking about PV.

"They'd sue you for taking a picture of the desert if they got a chance. "

Don't dismiss them lightly, they and others have blocked or held up desert projects until there is no possible they will ever make any money.

 
At 8/27/2011 8:22 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

re China:

here's the problem I have with articles like you cite:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/11/world/asia/11coal.html

China Outpaces U.S. in Cleaner Coal-Fired Plants

While the United States is still debating whether to build a more efficient kind of coal-fired power plant that uses extremely hot steam, China has begun building such plants at a rate of one a month.

then this:

" China is the dominant player. The country is on track to add 562 coal-fired plants - nearly half the world total of plants expected to come online in the next eight years."

http://www.csmonitor.com/2004/1223/p01s04-sten.html

so what's the truth here?

has China overbuilt power generation of all types or not?

 
At 8/27/2011 8:28 PM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

>>> For the life of me I can't connect "power density" with economic viability.

As I said... you don't know jack sh** about power.

Densities tie to how efficient a facility is, because the greater the GRADIENT is, the more effective the power generation is going to be. While there are a lot of different ways to generate power from different sources and densities, there is almost always a substantial tradeoff in terms of how significant the GRADIENT is, and if you have a diffuse setup the gradient is inherently going to be very, very LOW.

Your actual power generation is going to be very inefficient, in terms of not only how effective your power generation process is, but also in terms of the amount of SPACE and MATERIAL you need to go after it.

I cite to you -- just mining and manufacturing a BILLION square meters of PV cells (or mirrors, for the far less toxic and hence more sensible, "such as it is", thermal solar cycle) is itself an expensive and resource consuming process. The current PV cells of worth all rely on certain less-than-common elements that have to be refined and produced in MASS quantities to cover that kind of an area with cells.

And that number -- around FIVE BILLION square meters -- is not something you can fool with -- it's based on fairly OPTIMISTIC efficiency levels (currently unobtainable) and BASIC PHYSICS. The sun only drops a certain, fairly small, amount of energy on each square meter of Earth's surface even under IDEAL conditions.

Currently, AFAIK, the best we've currently managed -- EVER -- under perfect lab conditions -- is about 60-70% efficiency. That is, of the possible power to generate from any source of any kind, we've managed to get only that much of that available power.

In actual industrial situations the "sustainable" large-scale numbers currently run AT BEST in the 20-30% range.

>>> but in a fixed facility... how important is that?

Go tell a Green you plan to cover ONE HALF of the entire STATE of *Delaware* with concrete pilings, steel support structures, and screens (aka PV panels, or mirrors for solar thermal).

Stand back, their head might explode. Could be a bit messy. Wear old clothing for this task.

Then come back and tell me if "density matters in a fixed facility". If you survive the blowback from your revelation, that is. I think at best the Green is likely to try and rip your head off, myself.

Density ties to EFFICIENCY -- the less dense the objective resource is, the more costly it is to obtain it. This is true as much of energy as it is of ores.

This is BASIC ECONOMICS.

 
At 8/27/2011 8:32 PM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

One of the most promising new techs is by Lonnie Johnson, the guy who invented the Super Soaker water pistol, and got rich enough to fund his inventive genius.

The JTEC is exceptionally efficient and probably scalable to industrial functionality... but (emphasis mine:

Johnson claims the converter exhibits an energy conversion efficiency of as much as 60% compared to 30% efficiency typical of the best photovoltaic cells, although this is a theoretical level based on comparison with a Carnot cycle, and assuming a temperature gradient of 600C
--- From the wiki on JTEC.

Note that the JTEC means you want solar thermal, not PV, if you're going to attempt this at all.

 
At 8/27/2011 8:37 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

" Densities tie to how efficient a facility is, because the greater the GRADIENT is, the more effective the power generation is going to be. While there are a lot of different ways to generate power from different sources and densities, there is almost always a substantial tradeoff in terms of how significant the GRADIENT is, and if you have a diffuse setup the gradient is inherently going to be very, very LOW. "

huh?

natural gas is not near as energy dense as coal but it's become the defacto standard for peak power...

solar can be distributed much more easily than coal plants can be...

in both cases.. solar and natural gas have other benefits that outweigh coal as the ONLY way to generate power.

What coal is best for is base load.

it can't ramp up or down i response to dynamic power demands...

since more power is needed during the day... solar base load makes perfect sense.

seems like I read somewhere that solar put on the Interstates alone would be sufficient to power much of the nation... and as far as cleaning them... the savings from not having to cut grass would be a worthwhile trade, eh?

 
At 8/27/2011 8:41 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"So, 13 actual megawatts would take up about an acre of land. (42,000 / 1,600) "

Not even close. I don't know what numbers you are referring to here, but your previous example was 2.5 acres per megawatt. Now you are producing 13mw per acre? Redo that one. No wonder things look so good to you.

Remember, 10watts/square foot max. Times 43560 ft. = 435kw/acre. That's max rating, not actual real world real time output.

 
At 8/27/2011 8:49 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"Wind farms use 10x more concrete and 10x more steel than nat gas plants, for the same amount of generating capacity. That extra concrete and steel could be used for alternative purposes, such as repairing our highway system."

And, come to think of it, in case anyone still has any interest in such things, steel and cement production are among the highest carbon dioxide producing activities there are.

How long will that wind farm have to produce "free" energy before its 'carbon footprint' is as low as that of a nat gas plant?

 
At 8/27/2011 9:03 PM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

>>> China has begun building such plants at a rate of one a month.

a) China claims this.
b) See my note about the billions China wasted on wind turbines that aren't getting used.
c) This sounds like cutting edge tech. China's recent record with such is not exactly pristine...
Bullet Train
d) Even when the tech is not so high, China isn't what I'd call "reliable":
Building Collapse In Shanghai
(Note: VERY worth looking at for the pictures, pretty unusual to see anything like this happen)

 
At 8/27/2011 9:08 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

And, come to think of it, in case anyone still has any interest in such things, steel and cement production are among the highest carbon dioxide producing activities there are.

you'd need an apples to apples comparison... life-cycle...

but I suspect it's mostly a wash.

A wind turbine has a relatively small footprint.. I would think compared to a natural gas turbine...so I'm skeptical and would need to see some cites to be convinced that there is any earth-shaking disparity.

this comes across as desperate logic... when the big "hit" is the supposedly increased concrete and steel that wind/solar uses verses what coal/gas uses...

 
At 8/27/2011 9:11 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"While the United States is still debating whether to build a more efficient kind of coal-fired power plant that uses extremely hot steam, China has begun building such plants at a rate of one a month."

You are aware, aren't you that China is a Communist country, with total central planning. A few deciders in Beijing can create hundreds of coal fired plants, or complete empty cities with the stroke of a pen. Would you prefer this type of system?

Oh wait! That's right, you have said over and over that you do. Never mind. I withdraw my comment.

 
At 8/27/2011 9:15 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

" a) China claims this."

GEEZE!

oh I suspect we know for a fact since we'd be supplying some of the technology and parts...

It's been reported from a variety of credible sources...including our own DOE:

http://www.netl.doe.gov/coal/refshelf/ncp.pdf

then Wiki (nationmaster)

The People's Republic of China is the largest consumer of coal in the world,[1] and is about to become the largest user of coal-derived electricity, generating 1.95 trillion kilowatt-hours per year, or 68.7% of its electricity from coal as of 2006 (compared to 1.99 trillion kilowatt-hours per year, or 49% for the US

their cite: NationMaster.com. Energy Statistics > Coal consumption (most recent) by country. Accessed 07/01/08.
Gives:
China: 1,310,000,000 Billion short tons of coal consumed per year
United States: 1,060,000,000 (same units)

 
At 8/27/2011 9:21 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

You are aware, aren't you that China is a Communist country, with total central planning. A few deciders in Beijing can create hundreds of coal fired plants, or complete empty cities with the stroke of a pen. Would you prefer this type of system?

Oh wait! That's right, you have said over and over that you do. Never mind. I withdraw my comment.

no my comment has been that central planning is a very common approach in both govts and private industry - with proven effectiveness.

China has 3 times the population that we do and China knows that electricity is how you modernize and increase productivity - arguments that you'd use, eh?

so no... I don't necessarily advocate central planning but at least I'm sane enough to recognize that it's the defacto standard both public and private in the world... and don't live in a dream world that denies such simple realities...

the are two pieces to living in this world.

the first is how you'd like the world to be....

the second is how it actually is

and knowing the difference is important.. in dealing with the world.

 
At 8/27/2011 9:22 PM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

>> since more power is needed during the day... solar base load makes perfect sense.

No, it doesn't solar isn't a fraction as "reliable" as you imagine it to be -- even in someplace like Arizona, which requires you to build a MASSIVE distro network to supplant the current one, IF you were foolish enough to try it.

Solar power out of any area varies significiantly -- by 10s, 20s, even 30s of percent.

The whole issue of power generation and distribution is fraught with pitfalls you have no grasp of -- hell, I just *barely* appreciate the complexity of it.

Recall that TWO major blackouts -- one in the 60s and one in the 70s -- were caused by small initial problems cascading into larger ones.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northeast_Blackout_of_1965

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_City_blackout_of_1977

More generally:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_power_outages

A good, if very very rough analogy to electricity is water -- if you think of the wiring as a pipe, current as the "current", and voltage as the "pressure", you can picture a bit of what happens here -- the relays are like valves controlling flow from one place to the next. They blow, which causes the water to "back up and flood the pumping station" and so forth. VERY crude in terms of what actually happens, but it puts it a bit more in reach.

The load balancing magic done by the Utilities is freakin' MAGIC, in the Clarkeian sense. They're in the position of keeping a few thousand washtubs full of water spinning on top of sticks -- even as the washtubs are being slowly drained at differing rates...

And these geniuses want to add a dozen loose firehoses spraying over the area.

"Brilliant!"

 
At 8/27/2011 9:24 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

OBH

"The Soviet Union had a place like this... they called it "Czechoslovakia". I wonder what China's is called?"

Henan Province.

Yet another advantage of central planning.

 
At 8/27/2011 9:25 PM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

>>> It's been reported from a variety of credible sources...including our own DOE:

These would be the same organizations which told us about the state of the military preparedness and threat represented by the USSR in the 1970s, right?

I DO take things from the Government with a grain of salt.

And it's IRRELEVANT to the issue at hand. I don't give a damn about it, it's got nothing to do with solar power's effectiveness, which is the topic being discussed. Stop trying to sidetrack the issue into irrelevancies. I was simply expressing some doubt as to their CAPACITY to do it effectively, which you have done NOTHING to address, making your comment even MORE useless and worthless.

 
At 8/27/2011 9:31 PM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

Ron: Thx. knew there had to be someplace like that.

Somewhere, I could swear it was Wired back in the early-mid 90s, did a piece on the massive amount of toxic crap the USSR inflicted on Czechoslovakia and the Eastern Euros, dumping all their filthy industrial byproducts into open-air dumps, leeching into the water, and all that. Things to make Love Canal look like a spill of a box of toilet cleaner at the supermarket.

But these maroons want to make BILLIONS of square YARDS (aka "meters", close enough) of this crap, and essentially leave the waste behind in some other nation that doesn't give a crap about their people.

These are the same imbeciles who want to shut down Wal-Mart because, hey, all that stuff they sell is "made in sweat shops off the cheap labor of the world's poor people"... but hey, poisoning them for "clean solar"? That's JUST PEACHY.

 
At 8/27/2011 9:31 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"seems like I read somewhere..."

Great reference. Keep up the great work, Lar.

 
At 8/27/2011 9:35 PM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

>>> no my comment has been that central planning is a very common approach in both govts and private industry - with proven effectiveness.

Rarely proven, but yes, it's proven on occasion.

Free trade works much better in terms of effective production and distribution.

The biggest issue in general is the "tragedy of the commons" combined with its corollary, the capacity to dumps stuff in the commons in a manner in which the cost of cleanup is not passed onto the beneficiary of the production.

Unfortunately, the government tends to fail in its job as a conservator and protector of the commons, because the foxes get in charge of hen-house security.

 
At 8/27/2011 9:36 PM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

>> and don't live in a dream world that denies such simple realities...

No, you live in a dream world that CREATES "simple realities".

In the Real World, nothing is "simple".

Well, except for libtards, Greens, and lefties of all stripes. They're simple, in the classical intellectual meaning of the word.

 
At 8/27/2011 9:41 PM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

>>> the first is how you'd like the world to be....

Cheap, clean power for everyone.

>>> the second is how it actually is

"Cheap", oddly enough, costs money. More importantly, money spent wisely, rather than based on some ridiculous pie-in-the-sky fantasy concept of what power is, how it gets created, what limitations there are on that, and how it gets distributed and used and the limitations on THAT.

>>> and knowing the difference is important.. in dealing with the world

When you get a clue about the difference, come back and actually contribute something to the conversation. Until then, you might want to try spending some time actually learning about the topics rather than parroting what some half-wit idiot only slightly more knowledgeable than you -- mostly in terms of the "big bad magic juju words" involved in the topic, rather than what those words actually mean

Now sit down, or I shall taunt you a second time.

 
At 8/27/2011 9:46 PM, Blogger Rufus II said...

Well, you certainly Try to make it simple, son. Some yahoo way overpays for some solar panels in a bad location, and ALL well-priced Solar Panels in Southern/Southwestern locations are Stupid. Tha's pretty simple.

By the way, there are many factories in the U.S. making Solar Panels, I haven't heard of any Hazardous Waste problems. Have you?

 
At 8/27/2011 10:01 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

Cheap, clean power for everyone.

that's what you'd like to believe.. the truth is different.


>>> the second is how it actually is

"Cheap", oddly enough, costs money. More importantly, money spent wisely, rather than based on some ridiculous pie-in-the-sky fantasy concept of what power is, how it gets created, what limitations there are on that, and how it gets distributed and used and the limitations on THAT.

that's your view - what is going on in the world - is different from your view..

right?


>>> and knowing the difference is important.. in dealing with the world

When you get a clue about the difference, come back and actually contribute something to the conversation. Until then, you might want to try spending some time actually learning about the topics rather than parroting what some half-wit idiot only slightly more knowledgeable than you -- mostly in terms of the "big bad magic juju words" involved in the topic, rather than what those words actually mean

Now sit down, or I shall taunt you a second time.

oh please..

here's the truth:

China is build a lot of power plants of all stripes ... and even killowatt will be used and then some...

Solar and Wind and Tides are increasing - across the entire world.. including in China...

despite your views that it's a wrong choice..

the world disagrees with you..

deal with it.

 
At 8/27/2011 10:14 PM, Blogger Rufus II said...

Like I said, the people of San Antonio are familiar with Solar. They were going to add another 40 Megawatts, but when they saw the new prices they opted for 400 Megawatts.

Yes, the world certainly is starting to agree on Solar.

 
At 8/27/2011 10:15 PM, Blogger Rufus II said...

It's the 21st Century, Buckos.

Time to accept the new things. The old things are gone.

 
At 8/27/2011 11:37 PM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

Yeah, that's why so many solar companies are shutting their doors and going out of business.

Keep repeating your mantra, Dufus. Perhaps it'll make you feel better when your stock in those companies is tanking.

The idea that a city in Cali is "leading the way" to anything but the poorhouse is about as laughable as things get.

As though an organization spending class-IV expenditureswas going to give a rat's ass about quality OR value, just shows the profound degree of your economic illiteracy and cluelessness.

You've not refuted a single argument against your claim, but you do seem to think repeating it and going "lalalalalala i can't HEAR you!!" is a valid argumentation tactic.

Talk to the hand, loser.

 
At 8/27/2011 11:43 PM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

What governments want is irrelevant in certain circumstances. It's like AGW, reality is not subject to "consensus".

Solar sucks, will ALWAYS suck, and there's no avoiding this -- it's basic physics, not "how you want things to be", that counts, here, and the physics is profoundly against you.

Any country that adopts solar seriously as a major energy source, and attempts to bull through the outages, the brownouts, and the loss of reliable EVERYTHING that follows, will become as significant in world financial affairs as Spain, 500 years after they controlled the world, after ignoring most of the Industrial revolution.

Unreliable power will doom any economy to the backwaters of human affairs. Solar is inherently unreliable and inefficient.

 
At 8/28/2011 8:10 AM, Blogger Rufus II said...

San Antonio is in Cali?

You got it figured out, Bubba. Jes keep calling Me a Dufus.

 
At 8/28/2011 4:40 PM, Blogger juandos said...

""Iowa" it's a hell of a state. 6% unemployment, and one of the top rated k-12 programs in the country"...

Well the quaility of Iowa public edudation just might be more than a bit questionable...

Report: Iowa's top education ranking isn't deserved

Regarding Iowa Unmployment Rates, you're spot on...

Regarding wind energy rufus consider this video clip from Reason: Tilting at Wind Turbines

 
At 9/24/2011 1:13 AM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

>>>but I suspect it's mostly a wash.

Ahh, the technical refutation.

LOLOLOLOLOLOLZZZzzzzzzz.

Here's my equally valid reply, which I've placed the same amount of effort into its creation as you did the one above:

*Nuh-UHHHHHHHH*

 
At 9/24/2011 1:24 AM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

>>> By the way, there are many factories in the U.S. making Solar Panels, I haven't heard of any Hazardous Waste problems. Have you?

IDIOT.

I know the chemical processes involved. They're much the same ones which produce computer chips. Go do some research on how filthy and toxic THAT process is, then put two and two together to make "four".

Not the three you want, or the five President Downgrade has deemed official, but FOUR.

If you haven't "heard" about it, it's because you haven't looked, and there's NO WAY IN HELL that industry is going to shoot themselves in the foot with Useful Green Idiots by acking openly that solar isn't a fraction as "clean" as it is sold on.

I haven't seen a hell of a lot about how much it's going to cost to recycle and/or dispose of all those batteries in the freakin' Hybrids being sold these days, but that doesn't make it any less ephing obvious that it's going to be a massive expense applied in a decade or so, and that you're going to hear screams about the problems when owners abandon their stripped, unmarked hulks of vehicles by the road because they can't afford to pay the triple or quadruple digit "disposal fee".

 
At 9/24/2011 1:34 AM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

>>> San Antonio is in Cali?

THIS is the statement being referred to, you prevaricating compost heap of excreta:

>>> "A Watt of Solar in S California seems to be yielding around 3.5 KWhrs/yr."

 
At 9/24/2011 1:38 AM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

>>> the world disagrees with you..

Sorry, "reality" is not subject to concensus.

Go stand in front of a moving bus, tell it it can't hurt you. Your "consensus of one" won't change the result.

The physics, the engineering, the statistics... THE REALITY -- all of them say one thing: Solar sucks. Wind sucks.

And it simply doesn't matter what "the world" has to say about it.

 

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