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Solar Without Subsidies Installatns Grow to 38.3 GW in 2017

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Solar Without Subsidies Installatns Grow to 38.3 GW in 2017

Unread postby Graeme » Fri 06 Apr 2012, 18:56:23

Solar Without Subsidies: Installations Grow to 38.3 GW in 2017 as the Market Goes Global

Solar installations will stall this year, but make rapid strides in emerging markets and find sustained growth without government subsidies, says Lux Research.

After recent explosive growth capped by a 66% surge to 26.5 GW in 2011, solar installations will grind to a near halt this year — adding a mere 0.4 GW, totaling 26.9 GW of new installations — while industry revenues drop from $110 billion in 2011 to $92 million in 2012 due to crashing prices. However, new installations rebound to 38.3 GW in 2017 as the industry learns to navigate a global market fast losing its subsidies, according to a Lux Research report.
A supply glut, caused mainly by Chinese manufacturers, speculation of incentive cuts in Europe and the end of the 1603 Cash Grant in the U.S., fueled the sharp growth in installations last year. “The solar industry’s storied history has created a massive misperception of technology maturity and commodity status,” said Matthew Feinstein, Lux Research Analyst and the lead author of the report titled, “Market Size Update 2012: The Push to a Post-Subsidy Solar Industry.”


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Re: Solar Without Subsidies Installatns Grow to 38.3 GW in 2

Unread postby sunweb » Sat 07 Apr 2012, 14:02:22

Solar is directly and indirectly subsidized by fossil fuels and their subsidies.
Solar and wind energy capturing devices as well as nuclear are not alternative energy sources. They are extensions of the fossil fuel supply system. There is an illusion of looking at the trees and not the forest in the “Renewable” energy world. Not seeing the systems, machineries, fossil fuel uses and environmental degradation that create the devices to capture the sun, wind and biofuels allows myopia and false claims of renewable, clean, green and sustainable.

Energy Return on Energy Invested (ERoEI) is only a part of the equation. There is a massive infrastructure of mining, processing, manufacturing, fabricating, installation, transportation and the associated environmental assaults. Each of these processes and machines may only add a miniscule amount of energy to the final component of solar or wind devices yet the devices cannot arise without them. There would be no devices with out this infrastructure.

How else would we do it? There is always the old way. Who of us will go down in the mine first?
A story in pictures and diagrams:
From Machines making machines making machines
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Re: Solar Without Subsidies Installatns Grow to 38.3 GW in 2

Unread postby Graeme » Sat 07 Apr 2012, 18:28:32

Sunweb, Thank you for your post. You raised a very interesting point regarding the use of fossil fuels to build to solar industry. Before I address that issue, I would like to point out that the solar industry has stagnated somewhat recently for a variety of reasons outlined in this article. One of them is that Chinese manufacturers have flooded the market with cheap panels. This is known to many posting on this site. It was of interest to me to see that at least one analyst is predicting strong growth again by 2017. Unfortunately, we can't see the details because it is hidden behind a pay wall but others who are actually manufacturing panels would want to purchase this report so they can plan their business.

Unfortunately for the environment, we will have to continue to use fossil fuels for the foreseeable future during the transition to 100% renewable energy use. Everybody here knows that we have passed peak oil and the cost of ff is rising. So how will solar companies adapt to this environment? Well, you can get some idea by following another thread on this very subject! Fedex is using electric vans for short hauls, natural-gas powered trucks for long hauls, and biofuel-powered planes for air freight.
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Re: Solar Without Subsidies Installatns Grow to 38.3 GW in 2

Unread postby sunweb » Sun 08 Apr 2012, 13:27:20

Graeme - there is no math that will show solar, wind, ethanol, biodiesel, nuclear reproducing themselves. This is a dream of business as usual. I suggest two of my essays:
Solar and Wind are not renewable. The energy from solar and from wind is of course renewable but the devices used to capture the energy of the sun and wind are not renewable. Nor are they green or sustainable. Nor are they clean or green if you include the mining, huge machines, fossil fuel requirements, transportation, toxic chemicals to get the components.

An oak tree is renewable. A horse is renewable. They reproduce themselves. The human-made equipment used to capture solar energy or wind energy is not renewable. There is considerable fossil fuel energy embedded in this equipment. The many components used in devices to capture solar energy, wind energy, tidal energy and biomass energy – aluminum, glass, copper, rare metals, petroleum in many forms to name a few – are fossil fuel dependent.

Wind used by sailing ships and old style “dutch” wind machines is renewable and sustainable.
From: Energy in the Real World with pictures of proof.
http://sunweber.blogspot.com/2011/01/en ... world.html
And
We will go kicking and screaming down the path to the new Middle Ages as fossil fuels desert us. With the decline of available energy, those of most of us who have sat at the top of the energy pyramid will become the new peasants. With the popular view of the Middle Ages as a brutal and dirty time filled with famine and disease and at the mercy of armed overlords. We cringe at the thought.

With great sadness, we must recognize the direct connection between present day population levels and the use of fossil fuels in food production, medical procedures, medicines and hygiene. With the fall in fossil fuel availability there will be a reduction in population. Population soared with the industrial revolution and the development of industrial, fossil fuel based agriculture. It cannot be sustained.
From: The New Middle Ages
http://sunweber.blogspot.com/2011/05/ne ... -ages.html
I submit that the middle ages/medieval times were not so dark.
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Re: Solar Without Subsidies Installatns Grow to 38.3 GW in 2

Unread postby kublikhan » Sun 08 Apr 2012, 16:12:51

Sunweb, I read your "Energy in the Real World" article. You touch on some important points such as fossil fuels used in renewables, pollution, embodied energy, etc. All of which have been debated here before. I don't agree with your analysis or conclusions however. Take pollution for example. We know that the manufacture of wind turbines creates pollution. However the pollution created is miniscule created to the amount of pollution coal mining and power generation produce. Therefore I find your argument that we should use renewables sparingly wrong headed. The faster we get our energy production off of coal, the less damage we will do to the planet.

article wrote:Requested by Congress, the report assesses what economists call external effects caused by various energy sources over their entire life cycle -- for example, not only the pollution generated when gasoline is used to run a car but also the pollution created by extracting and refining oil and transporting fuel to gas stations. Because these effects are not reflected in energy prices, government, businesses and consumers may not realize the full impact of their choices.

Coal accounts for about half the electricity produced in the U.S. In 2005 the total annual external damages from sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter created by burning coal at 406 coal-fired power plants, which produce 95 percent of the nation's coal-generated electricity, were about $62 billion; these nonclimate damages average about 3.2 cents for every kilowatt-hour (kwh) of energy produced. A relatively small number of plants -- 10 percent of the total number -- accounted for 43 percent of the damages. Coal-fired power plants are the single largest source of greenhouse gases in the U.S., emitting on average about a ton of CO2 per megawatt-hour of electricity produced, the report says. Climate-related monetary damages range from 0.1 cents to 10 cents per kilowatt-hour, based on previous modeling studies. Estimated climate damages from natural gas were half that of coal, ranging from 0.05 cents to 5 cents per kilowatt-hour.

Burning natural gas generated far less damage than coal, both overall and per kilowatt-hour of electricity generated. A sample of 498 natural gas fueled plants, which accounted for 71 percent of gas-generated electricity, produced $740 million in total nonclimate damages in 2005, an average of 0.16 cents per kwh. As with coal, there was a vast difference among plants; half the plants account for only 4 percent of the total nonclimate damages from air pollution, while 10 percent produce 65 percent of the damages.

Transportation, which today relies almost exclusively on oil, accounts for nearly 30 percent of U.S. energy demand. In 2005 motor vehicles produced $56 billion in health and other nonclimate-related damages, says the report. The committee evaluated damages for a variety of types of vehicles and fuels over their full life cycles, from extracting and transporting the fuel to manufacturing and operating the vehicle.

The life-cycle damages of wind power, which produces just over 1 percent of U.S. electricity but has large growth potential, are small compared with those from coal and natural gas. So are the damages associated with normal operation of the nation's 104 nuclear reactors, which provide almost 20 percent of the country’s electricity.
Hidden Costs of Energy: Unpriced Consequences of Energy Production and Use

Also, you mentioned fossil fuels were used to manufacture renewable energy devices like wind. But alot of mining equipment used today runs on electricity, not fossil fuels. Such as the Bagger 288 you linked to in your article. Or trolley systems for mining vehicles:
Trolley History

You might be interested in a discussion we had on fossil fuels used in wind turbines we had a few years ago:
Wind power in the US stalled?

Even if every last drop of oil is sucked out of the Earth, I don't think mining is going to stop. Nor revert to the mining used in the old days such as the Roman empire.

You also talked about embodied energy. Yet the amount of energy produced during the entire lifetime of the renewable device far outweighs the amount of energy that went into it. All of these is routinely included in comprehensive life cycle analysis of renewable energy. Here's one study on solar cells if you were interested:

Net Energy Analysis for Sustainable Energy Production From Silicon Based Solar Cells
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Re: Solar Without Subsidies Installatns Grow to 38.3 GW in 2

Unread postby sunweb » Sun 08 Apr 2012, 18:10:35

We can agree to disagree. For me it is a total system question. The huge mining trucks are diesel/electric like trains. Trolley's electricity comes from? I do believe that photovoltaics can pay back the energy used to make them, how about the machines used to make them. And when we need new machines? And my world is the earth with billions of people that don't have my energy advantage. Peoples and lands that give me resources so I can have this advantage. I will leave it at that. I don't believe we will accomplish maintaining "business as usual" and fully believe that the earth and its inhabitants will be better off after the end of fossil fuels if we don't do something really stupid.
Good luck with your dream.
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Re: Solar Without Subsidies Installatns Grow to 38.3 GW in 2

Unread postby kublikhan » Sun 08 Apr 2012, 18:52:25

Agree to disagree works for me. Good luck with your doom.
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Re: Solar Without Subsidies Installatns Grow to 38.3 GW in 2

Unread postby sunweb » Sun 08 Apr 2012, 20:09:21

There are those that think that I am a doomer. I think I am a realist. In fact, I agree with a wise woman on one of my mailing lists:

Posted by: kathy Sep 3, 2011
“Got thinking about this morning. Supposing a wife tells her 6 pack a day husband that he is going to die from lung cancer or emphysema? Is she a doomer? Or is he perhaps the doomer as he is continuing to do things that may doom him to an early death?

Is a scientist who warns of global warming a doomer or are the dirty coal burning factories the true doomers?

Is someone who warns of the dire possibility of collapsing more and more fisheries a doomer or are the factory fishing boats the doomers?

Are the people who warn about building nuclear power plants on fault lines doomers, or are those who build them there the doomers? Would living with less energy in Japan be a worse doom than Fukushima?

Warning of potential doom does not make you a doomer IMHO, participating in activities that make that doom more likely - that makes you a doomer”

Of course, we are all caught. Not one of us is voluntarily going to really reduce our consumption to levels that are truly sustainable across decades. It is not the nature of the beast. (See - http://sunweber.blogspot.com/2011/05/we-are-here.html

Try this:
I would like to have lights. Having lived off the grid for 30 years, ten of which was without electricity, I would like to have lights.

During the ten years without electricity, I got my lights from kerosene lamps. I got a masters degree in psychology using kerosene lights. The experience taught me the old saying, “a place for everything and everything in its place” because a kerosene lamp doesn’t give off a lot of light. I love to read and I did okay.

I can’t make kerosene. I could make oil from various plants by pressing them. Whales are scarce in Northern Minnesota so that option is out. So I thought I might make an electric light. Below find an image of an electric light and its components from a mining company.
From: http://sunweber.blogspot.com/2011/10/to ... -bulb.html
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Re: Solar Without Subsidies Installatns Grow to 38.3 GW in 2

Unread postby Graeme » Sun 08 Apr 2012, 20:17:42

Sunweb raised a very important issue about where we will obtain our energy resources in future. Initially, I found this report by the National Conference of State Legislatures on Meeting Energy Challenges of the Future. And this 2010 survey of world energy resources by the World Energy Council. Executive summary here. He may wish to read the Future Energy Technology News thread I started here. Then I found this graph, which puts the future of solar in perspective.

Image

To continue with the theme of the thread, I would like to add this recent report on PV installations for 2012.

Installations of solar PV will grow by at least 3.5% in 2012, despite many governments slashing financial incentives for the technology, a study has revealed.

According to the report from IMS Research, which tracks installations in more than 60 countries, global installations of PV could increase by as much as 21%.

The company forecasts that despite incentive cuts in most of the world’s largest markets, global installations will grow from 26.9 GW in 2011 to between 27.8 GW and 32.6 GW in 2012, with Europe’s share of installations falling from 69% last year to 50% this year.


And this:

Halotechnics – Molten Glass Thermal Storage Could Mean 6 Cent Solar

Halotechnics, an early-stage solar-thermal startup and ARPA-E recipient, has developed two radical new materials for storing solar heat energy, using new kinds of salts and even a new kind of glass.
These allow much higher temperatures than have been used to date to store the heat in solar thermal power plants so they can produce power at night. This will greatly improve the efficiency and lower the costs for solar thermal power.
This is a first. While practically every other day we hear about efficiency innovations that will lower the costs of PV solar, this is a major innovation for solar thermal.


PS, Thanks K for your contribution.
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Re: Solar Without Subsidies Installatns Grow to 38.3 GW in 2

Unread postby kublikhan » Sun 08 Apr 2012, 20:47:17

sunweb wrote:There are those that think that I am a doomer. I think I am a realist.
Even being a "realist" requires you to make assumptions on situations that are often subjective. No matter how dire your situation is, there is never an advantage to giving up and losing hope. Survival has alot to do with your attitude.

If you're allowing your pessimism to prevail, you're slowly killing yourself.

Many people consider "realism" the best position on this scale. But being a "realist" means making an assumption. You're assuming you understand "reality". In fact, as we'll see in future articles on this website, "reality" is often subjective. What you think you see is often not what you're really looking at. And because of that, "realists" tend to assume a more negative outlook than most situations warrant.

Imagine you're facing a life-threatening situation. Put yourself on the Titanic. You've just hit an iceberg and your ship has gone down. Now you find yourself in icy waters with no more rescue boats in the middle of a dark, empty Atlantic ocean.

Consider how each of the attitudes would face the problem:
* The cynic would give up hope, and expect death. As a result, he'd feel the cold of the water much more immediately, and would succumb the quickest.
* The pessimist would assume the worst, but would fight to stay alive. But by assuming the worst, he'd mentally compound every negative thing that happened — it's all affirming his belief that he's unlikely to survive. He'd still have hope, but the despair would give the elements the upper hand.
* The realist would look at the "reality" of the situation. Since it would be statistically unlikely for a boat to find and save him, his presumption (and rightly so) would be that he's in a dire situation with little hope for survival.
* The idealist would assume that everything was going to be okay. As a result, he might ignore warning signs like the coldness of the water, hypothermia, the subtle nuances of action that might save his life. He is actually less likely to work as hard as needed to save himself.
* The optimist would take serious stock of his situation, and factor in all of the negatives he faces. But his optimism would give him hope — that if he holds out long enough, he will survive. The optimist will fight the hardest for his own survival, yet still deal with the full severity of the situation.

THE SAME GOES FOR EVERYDAY LIFE
We don't have to dunk you in the icy ocean to prove that point. In fact, a study in 2004 of nearly 1,000 people found that optimists have a 23% reduction of the risk of heart disease, and a 55% reduction in all causes of death. Think about that. Just by being optimistic about your life, you reduce your risk of many different life-threatening diseases.

A more recent study of nearly 100,000 women over the age of 50 found that the optimists were 30% less likely to die of heart disease. Optimists have a better chance of living longer.
Why Optimism is the Ultimate Survival Skill
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Re: Solar Without Subsidies Installatns Grow to 38.3 GW in 2

Unread postby sunweb » Mon 09 Apr 2012, 04:18:14

At 69, I am developing an orchard/garden for sell and/or trade. I have reconditioned an old home and built a huge root cellar. Here are pictures of how we reconditioned the old house.
http://sunweber.blogspot.com/2010/10/su ... -2010.html
Below is the house at the orchard. The part you see was built in the 1940s. The inside was worse than the outside. We replaced the floor with insulation below the concrete. We tore out all the plasterboard and insulation, added two by two so we could have six inches of insulation on the walls and ceilings down stairs. We did the same upstairs.

So far the windows and the thermal mass of the floor keeps the house at least 30 degrees above the outside temperature during sunny days. We built insulated panels for the window to be inserted at night to preserve the solar gain. The cost was below $3000.

Our potatoes in the root cellar are still beautiful from last falls harvest. I have designed a greenhouse using glass that should be almost self-heating here in northern Minnesota. Put the walls up last week. Am anxious to experiment with growing and drying. Steep learning curve.

Open a new patch of ground for more blueberries and hazelnuts. Already have a large area of blueberries almost ready for bloom. Set up more oak logs for shiitake mushrooms this March. It will take a full season before the produce. Already have two batches producing, pick some yesterday.

I am a nine year survivor of lung cancer. I was given weeks to live. See: http://sunweber.blogspot.com/2012/02/celebration.html

I almost died this last new years eve, couldn't breathe. This March I dropped and split up a huge oak tree that had died. The wood is for two years from now after it has dried.

I have a wonderful partner and a wonderful relationship with her.
This list could go on and on. Optimist, doomer - nah, a happy man who has studied energy for four decades. Who lived off the grid for many years, the first ten without electricity. Who was in the choir and cheering section of renewable energy in the 1970s. Who sees things differently now. http://sunweber.blogspot.com/2011/12/th ... rlens.html
And who is not afraid of hard work or living more simply.
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Re: Solar Without Subsidies Installatns Grow to 38.3 GW in 2

Unread postby kublikhan » Mon 09 Apr 2012, 15:54:46

Glad to hear it sunweb! But I think we have hijacked Graeme's thread here. We should return to the subject of solar.

I read your article "ThruAnotherLens". I was never a "religious" believer in renewable energy like you were. Nor am I hostile to renewable energy as you are now. I just look at the facts. Yes, even the "total system question". And from what I have read, solar energy is net energy positive. Even when accounting for the fossil fuels expended for all of the solar panels inputs, going all the way back to the mining of the sand.

It takes power to make power—even with a solar grand plan. From the mining of quartz sand to the coating with ethylene-vinyl acetate, manufacturing a photovoltaic (PV) solar cell requires energy—most often derived from the burning of fossil fuels. But a new analysis finds that even accounting for all the energy and waste involved, PV power would cut air pollution—including the greenhouse gases that cause climate change—by nearly 90 percent if it replaced fossil fuels.

In fact, most of their dirty side derived from the indirect emissions of the coal-burning power plants or other fossil fuels used to generate the electricity for PV manufacturing facilities.

These four types of solar cells pay back the energy involved in their manufacture in one to three years, according to an earlier analysis by the same team. And even the most energy-intensive to produce—monocrystalline silicate cells with the highest energy conversion efficiency of 14 percent—emit just 55 grams (1.9 ounces) of globe warming pollution per kilowatt-hour—a fraction of the near one kilogram (2.2 pounds) of greenhouse gases emitted by a coal-fired power plant per kilowatt-hour.
Dark Side of Solar Cells Brightens

I read the comment one of the readers of your blog posted, talking about Energy cannibalism. I don't see this as a problem. Fossil fuels at one time were also energy cannibals when they were at their infant stage and experiencing rapid growth. So it is with rapidly growing renewable energy sources as well. This will become less of a problem as the installed base of solar, wind, etc grows to be a larger percentage of our power generation and the rate of growth slows.

Recycling old solar cells at the end of their life into new cells also helps with the energy numbers. Recycling old x-Si cells was shown to cost less than 1/10th the cost of creating a new one from scratch.
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Re: Solar Without Subsidies Installatns Grow to 38.3 GW in 2

Unread postby Graeme » Mon 09 Apr 2012, 19:17:51

K, Thanks for your post. I'd like to add a little more about marketing "clean tech".

Marketing clean technology like we mean it

In the latest Pew Research Center for the People & the Press poll (March 19, 2012), support nationally for alternative energy (a proxy for all of cleantech) has fallen significantly, by 11 points over just the past year, with support eroding further in the west, with men and with Republicans.

Meanwhile, throughout the cleantech ecosystem we are witnessing a renaissance of innovation. Technology, materials, processes and services are being reinterpreted and turbocharged by an increasingly sophisticated information technology infrastructure -- the internet of things -- which is magnifying benefits up and down the food chain. Old records for efficiencies are being blown away while costs are coming down as generational improvements ricochet off design and manufacturing improvements.

And yet we face a public that is losing faith, or simply doesn't understand that the cleantech future is here and how it will benefit them.


What do most clean technologies really offer? A reduction in fossil fuel dependencies; a reduction in waste; lower water usage; lower materials costs; greater visibility into future operating costs; lower volatility in pricing -- for fuel, for electricity, for core inputs; lower risk due to lower dependence on exogenous markets and geopolitical instabilities. Greater certainty. The language of cleantech marketing can and should mirror the key set of concerns most on the mind of CEO's today.

The same is true of consumers. We frequently hear about the high cost of clean technologies like electric vehicles or solar panels in the press, but are consumers likely to see their oil or utility bills go down? Wouldn't they like to know about innovations that can give them increasing control over costs of water and energy?


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Re: Solar Without Subsidies Installatns Grow to 38.3 GW in 2

Unread postby Graeme » Mon 09 Apr 2012, 19:57:00

National Solar Power Orders Several Million(!) Solar Panels for 700-MW Solar Farm in the Sunshine State

National Solar Power (NSP), a “market leader in utility scale solar power solutions” that was just formed in 2010, announced at the end of last week that it had “reached a major milestone in its plans to build solar energy facilities totaling 700 megawatts (MW) in Florida” — it completed an agreement with SolarWorld to order several million solar panels. Can you imagine?
SolarWorld leads the Americas in solar-technology manufacturing, and orders like this make you realize why it has pushed so hard against heavy Chinese subsidies for the country’s solar panel companies.
Of course, one doesn’t take an order for several million solar panels lightly. NSP and Hensel Phelps Construction Co, also involved in the project development, toured SolarWorld’s manufacturing facility in the other corner of the US (in Oregon) beforehand.
“We’re very excited about this partnership, which is a great cultural fit between our companies,” said James Scrivener, CEO of National Solar, which is based in Melbourne, FL. “We are committed to helping make the United States the world leader in renewable energy, and this partnership gives us the building blocks to produce clean energy domestically. Best of all, we will be using U.S. technology that will create thousands of jobs for Americans and help ensure U.S. energy security and independence.”


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Re: Solar Without Subsidies Installatns Grow to 38.3 GW in 2

Unread postby sunweb » Tue 10 Apr 2012, 11:40:31

kublikhan - hostility is your word not my feelings at all. I find it interesting when I pointed out that the huge mining trucks are diesel/electric like trains you changed the subject. When I explained I am not a doomer or pessimist you changed the subject.

I am not hostile to "renewable", I simply don't believe they are sustainable, green or can reproduce themselves.

Most importantly, I don't know how to get through the thought that I am not arguing against the ERoEI of any particular application.

It is infrastructure that supports the making of these devices that I am looking at and questioning. It is this infrastructure that I see as a fossil fuel subsidy for wind and solar devices as well as the surrounding activities to support them.
Will wind and solar electric make the trucks, the factories, the massive buildings? Will they provide the transportation and the food for products and people to implement and provide maintenance for these devices? And if they do (which is what I am questioning) can they then make light bulbs, plows, saw mills and the list goes on.

I am not hostile to solar and wind. I am concerned that they are using up precious resources and time. And I am concerned they are creating a false hope for maintaining the status quo for us at the top of the food/economic chain. And this moral question is a critical one as well but easily ignored.

I started my posting here asking these questions about the infrastructure and they have not been addressed.

There is only one study I know of that proposes that solar and wind could supply all.
http://www.scientificamerican.com/artic ... gy-by-2030
They propose there would be 3800000 wind generators of 5 megawatts each supplying 50% to be accomplished by 2030. In the 18 years to 2030, that would be 211111 machines a year, 578 a day each day. That is 24 machines manufactured and installed each hour each day for 18 years.
http://spectrum.ieee.org/energy/renewab ... he-world/0
and
http://www.scientificamerican.com/artic ... gy-by-2030
And they are still not making hoes, plows, shoes, pants, food, etc.
This is what I am challenging that has not been addressed.
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Re: Solar Without Subsidies Installatns Grow to 38.3 GW in 2

Unread postby kublikhan » Tue 10 Apr 2012, 15:15:59

sunweb, your previous post convinced me you are not a doomer. You seem to have a healthy attitude on life. You also convinced me that you agree with my points on EROEI. So I will not bring that up again. As for your other points, I did not want to go off topic in this thread. We have a new policy here to try and stay on topic. So I created a new thread that answered the questions you ask. Please reply in that thread instead:

Is 100% Renewable Energy Viable?
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Re: Solar Without Subsidies Installatns Grow to 38.3 GW in 2

Unread postby Graeme » Fri 13 Apr 2012, 16:28:34

Solar prices drop more, pressuring panel makers

Solar panels prices have kept marching lower this year, extending steep declines seen in 2011 and keeping pressure on hard-hit manufacturers who have struggled to eke out profits, industry experts said.

Average selling prices for the photovoltaic modules that turn sunlight into electricity have dropped to 80 to 85 cents per watt, a decline of more than 10 percent from levels near 95 cents recorded at the end of 2011, a year that saw prices fall by about 50 percent.

Those price drops have helped boost solar sales and made solar power less dependent on subsidies to compete against fossil fuels. But they also have virtually erased profits at the major manufacturers, such as China's Suntech Power Holdings , Yingli Green Energy Holding, Trina Solar Ltd and U.S.-based First Solar.

Global demand for solar panels grew by about 40 percent last year, but excess manufacturing capacity has created a glut of supplies that forced companies such as Suntech, Yingli, Trina and SunPower to slash prices.

That glut has come as subsidies have declined in Germany and Italy, the two biggest markets. Analysts have forecast total market demand will be near steady with last year's levels around 27 GW.

"I think that the difficult period is apt to last for a couple more quarters at least," said Rob Stone, analyst with Cowen & Co in Boston.


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