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Running the US Power Grid on 100% Renewables

Discussions of conventional and alternative energy production technologies.

Re: Running the US Power Grid on 100% Renewables

Unread postby Ibon » Mon 26 Jun 2017, 08:10:06

There are trade off's and Kub's post addresses some of these. Our hydro system is the nucleus of our project, we have a mini grid as we run power lines from the hydro plant to an employee cabin, the lodge, 2 cabins and now the last construction which is an additional cabin and coffee processing building. This mini grid starts at the intake of the water, runs 200 meters of penstock, the small building where the pelton wheel and generator are stored, the load controller, the dump cistern with 8 channels of 1500W, the individual power lines to each of the building mentioned above, the timers on the electric hot water tanks to stagger their output, switching out heating elements from 4500W down to 1500W on the electric hot water tank, the whole big ball of managing power distribution recognizing like any other grid that there are peak times of consumption and how we have to optimize this. All the while that pelton wheel spins 24/7 putting out a steady 7.6kw except in the late dry season for a couple weeks when the intake sucks air and water due to a drop in the water level and our power drops to about 5.5kw

4 Refrigerators, 2 floor freezers, 1 electric hot water tank, microwave, toasters, coffee brewers, power tools on the construction site, rice cookers, coffee roaster.

The one over riding big asset of going off grid is that you get super intimate with all your power appliances, super intimate with your power generation, you never ever take for granted generating your own power, and for me, much like Kub's post, I have a new respect for the electrical grid and what a marvel it is that it runs as well as it does.

Having said that there are frequent power outages in the town nearest us about 20km away. We are up here humming along with our 7.6kw while the entire town nearby is often having a brown out or black out. When this happens I sit back and smile and say to myself.....it's all worth it....

We are the classic case of off grid being justified because we have no choice. WE have guests that journey up here to this remote location not expecting to find internet, hot water, refrigerators, etc. They often come from other resorts that are off grid and depending on solar and they marvel at all the power we have.

It would take a lot of square footage of roof space to set up a solar system with 7.6kw out put......

Hydro applications are really specific though, solar can go up anywhere, few places have perennial streams with elevation drop required for hydro systems.

I enjoy Baha's posts and enthusiasm and success with solar.... keep it up.
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Re: Running the US Power Grid on 100% Renewables

Unread postby baha » Mon 26 Jun 2017, 08:33:53

KJ - The grid is a tool used by TPTB to keep you ignorant and dependent.

You're own argument proves it. Trashing the grid would do more to improve our personal independence than anything. We would no longer take power for granted and suck down cheeseburgers. We would understand our place on the earth and how everything we have is connected to energy. Miracle cure for complacency and waste.

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Re: Running the US Power Grid on 100% Renewables

Unread postby asg70 » Mon 26 Jun 2017, 09:30:30

baha wrote:The grid is a tool used by TPTB to keep you ignorant and dependent.


TPTB (aka civilization) is why you're able to type the above on your keyboard. It also supplies all sorts of amenities besides just grid power which you would not want to have to live without, including the ability to periodically replace your battery bank. You're still plenty dependent--and shockingly ungrateful about it.
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Re: Running the US Power Grid on 100% Renewables

Unread postby baha » Mon 26 Jun 2017, 09:52:43

I accept all of your criticisms...And KJ, I was not picking on you :)

I'll even admit the grid has uses :) But it should be a public cooperative that serves the public not TPTB. Let it answer to the public not the shareholders.

Yes, I know. I am just trying to support the premise of my debate argument :)
There is some philosophy in there too. I do appreciate what I have and I treat it with great respect.

By the logic of money and capitalism...my stuff is all paid for. That means it is mine. Do I have to keep bowing down for the rest of my life?
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Re: Running the US Power Grid on 100% Renewables

Unread postby pstarr » Mon 26 Jun 2017, 09:58:48

kublikhan wrote:Baha - This is really only appealing to a small niche of society who want to do something like this for reasons other than economics. Or for households that lack grid electricity to begin with and are far away from a grid connection . . .

Or for households whose income is generated by installing more off-grid systems. Or pot farmers.

In 1977, Real Goods President and founder John Schaeffer was 29 years old and living in an off-grid community in Mendocino County, California. As one of the few members of the community with a vehicle and a commute, he became the designated person to pick up supplies for the community. In 1978, Schaeffer took $3,000 in savings and a $5,000 loan from his father and opened his own general store with a partner in Willits, California that sold all the "real goods" for off-grid living at fair prices.

During the store's first year, Schaeffer bought 100 9-Watt solar panels for $600 each and sold them for $900 each to people interested in getting their electricity from a source other than an electric utility. These sales made Real Goods the first company to sell a solar panel commercially in the United States.[1]

By 1982, Real Goods had opened two additional stores in Ukiah, California and Santa Rosa, California, and published the first edition of the Solar Living Sourcebook (now in its 14th edition), written by Schaeffer as a comprehensive source for sustainable living principles and practices. By 1985, the three Real Goods stores had closed and Schaeffer invested his last $3,000 in a 16-page catalog, successfully reinventing the company as a mail order business operating out of his garage.

In 1991, Real Goods held its first direct public stock offering (DPO), selling stock directly to its customers, and raised $1 million. The following year, Real Goods declared a National Off-The-Grid Day - which became the National Tour of Solar Homes - during which the public could see solar-powered living firsthand. Real Goods held its second stock offering in 1993. In 1994, the company used those funds to break ground on the Solar Living Center in Hopland, California, which is home to the Real Goods retail store today, as well as the Solar Living Institute. The same year, Real Goods launched its e-commerce business.
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Re: Running the US Power Grid on 100% Renewables

Unread postby baha » Mon 26 Jun 2017, 10:14:01

If you think I can't build a battery without a grid, you are just proving the point that the grid affects the way you think :) Batteries came first.
Last edited by baha on Mon 26 Jun 2017, 10:29:07, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Running the US Power Grid on 100% Renewables

Unread postby asg70 » Mon 26 Jun 2017, 10:28:49

baha wrote:If you think I can't build a battery without a grid, you are just proving the point that the grid affects the way you think :)


Please do so and get back to us.
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Re: Running the US Power Grid on 100% Renewables

Unread postby pstarr » Mon 26 Jun 2017, 10:50:24

asg70 wrote:
baha wrote:If you think I can't build a battery without a grid, you are just proving the point that the grid affects the way you think :)


Please do so and get back to us.

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Re: Running the US Power Grid on 100% Renewables

Unread postby Outcast_Searcher » Mon 26 Jun 2017, 11:03:42

baha wrote:I accept all of your criticisms...And KJ, I was not picking on you :)

I'll even admit the grid has uses :) But it should be a public cooperative that serves the public not TPTB. Let it answer to the public not the shareholders.

Yes, I know. I am just trying to support the premise of my debate argument :)
There is some philosophy in there too. I do appreciate what I have and I treat it with great respect.

By the logic of money and capitalism...my stuff is all paid for. That means it is mine. Do I have to keep bowing down for the rest of my life?

It seems to me by the logic of this ongoing grid vs. not disussion, that we are in the best of worlds in the US, and most of the first world at this point. People with a little capital and time/ability to think and do some planning are free to CHOOSE. Both economically and personally (needs, convenience preferences, "stuff" preferences, etc.)

As one who leans moderate and libertarian, this is one thing I always try to appreciate -- when technology, government, and social custom align to make lots of choice available and even convenient, we live in a great world (at least for that topic).

For those who want more electric independence, are concerned about power outages, hate the grid or power company, want to charge their own EV from their roof, or WHATEVER -- the choice is there. Intelligent behavior and moderation makes the choice to be off grid or mostly off grid more practical -- but again, it's there.

For most of us, the idea of both seems eminently sensible if real world costs of solar PV continue to decline, and choices for installers and available technology continue to increase. (Like they have for, say, computers over the past 40 years or so).

For one thing, if a large percentage of people end up with solar roofs (say, 25% or more), that puts a HELL of a big dent in a power outage of a couple/few weeks in an area being a total disaster. For example, if you can keep your critical refrigerated drug (like insulin) in a neighbor's running fridge (even for a fee - libertarians are fine with trading) -- the consequences are obvious. Just having a critical mass of information via charged phones, working Wi-Fi, etc. in the modern world would make such a situation immensely better -- if nothing else, to prevent panic, but also to help people make better choices, learn about available resources (say, from government), etc.

As a moderate capitalist -- you're going to have trouble getting me to be unhappy about reasonable voluntary choices for first world living.
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Re: Running the US Power Grid on 100% Renewables

Unread postby KaiserJeep » Mon 26 Jun 2017, 11:18:39

Baha, TPTB do not control all the public power utilities, and there are about as many of those as privately held power companies. They may manage the grid, but only under government oversight. They are absolutely held to account and even prosecuted when they fail to meet customer expectations for power availability - as they were after hurricane Katrina in the GOM and hurricane Sandy on the East Coast.

As for Physics, it has been my observation that the majority of people - even those that studied Physics and got a good grade - never actually use what they learned to understand the world around them. This class of people who never apply Physics includes many academics, some scientists, and darned few engineers.

Yet Appplied Physics is what is needed to live off-grid. Most people cannot manage this, and never will be able to live off-grid. Fortunately they don't have to. If you and a dozen of your neighbors form a microgrid, chances are that the 12 of them will depend on you to keep the lights on. One or two others may be talented tinkerers, but that's just not enough. Engineering largely is Applied Physics. So don't confuse your abilities with the public at large.

OS, I think you are making some of the same mistakes as baha. I am a graduate Electrical Engineer with 34 years work experience. Yet I choose to cut a deal with my power company Pacific Gas & Electric, and THEY manage my Solar PV roof for me via a cellular modem in the inverter chassis. Believe me, there are good reasons to do this, and anybody who both has a grid connection and produces his own power, had best work out a deal with the local power company - lest they lose everything they own if someone gets injured by their power back-feeding the grid.
Image

BTW, grid-connected PV or wind or hydro does NOT provide backup power in a grid outage. To feed power into the grid, your inverter (i.e. the box that converts DC to AC) must be "in phase" with the power grid. Without the grid present, you need a different type of inverter, which is standalone.

YES, there are workarounds, but you better know what you are doing. For example, my 2800w PV roof goes offline with the grid - until I disconnect from the grid and feed power to my house from a dinky 500w generator. Then 5 minutes later, the PV inverter thinks it sees a stable grid and adds 2800w to the 500w I have - enough to run my house, the A/C, the oven, just about everything except for the gas furnace blower and the electric clothes dryer.

I have done this twice in 8 years. Once as proof of concept, and once in a 4.5 hour power failure - but I know how to manage and minimize the risks. A small UPS box with batteries could be used to replace the $99 generator, but at the cost of several hundred $. I decided the grid was too reliable to bother, and the generator requires no ongoing maintenance as would a UPS chassis.
Last edited by KaiserJeep on Mon 26 Jun 2017, 11:36:17, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Running the US Power Grid on 100% Renewables

Unread postby Ibon » Mon 26 Jun 2017, 11:32:55

The mistake is binary thinking, creating a division when there isn't one. Both on and off grid together create a more resilient society.

Why do we tend to take every damn topic and create a binary choice?
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Re: Running the US Power Grid on 100% Renewables

Unread postby KaiserJeep » Mon 26 Jun 2017, 11:38:12

Ibon wrote:The mistake is binary thinking, creating a division when there isn't one. Both on and off grid together create a more resilient society.

Why do we tend to take every damn topic and create a binary choice?


Ibon, I believed I was arguing against that. Sorry if I confused you. Are YOU by chance the primary "engineer" for your micro hydro power plant?
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Re: Running the US Power Grid on 100% Renewables

Unread postby Ibon » Mon 26 Jun 2017, 11:49:18

KaiserJeep wrote:
Ibon wrote:The mistake is binary thinking, creating a division when there isn't one. Both on and off grid together create a more resilient society.

Why do we tend to take every damn topic and create a binary choice?


Ibon, I believed I was arguing against that. Sorry if I confused you. Are YOU by chance the primary "engineer" for your micro hydro power plant?


You were and I am agreeing. I think Baha is creating a dichotomy that doesn't really exist.

I got the pelton wheel and generator used here in Panama from the previous owner who never set it up property. So shortly after buying the property I went on Yahoo and joined a micro hydro group and through expertise found there I was slowly able to put together all the components. The load controller I got from New Zealand was the critical piece of the puzzle for managing the distribution of power. I have an electrician locally who did the wiring and a construction foreman that built the intake and stabilized the penstock with cement columns the whole distance. The rest has been by trial and error. One person on the Yahoo group was a retired Colombian living in Houston who was disabled and no longer able to travel. He had set up these micro hydro systems all over the world Way back in 2010 the local electrician I hired, my construction foreman and myself would sit in the kitchen table of the original farm house and Skype with this Colombian in Houston, everything in Spanish, and he took us through step by step everything. He was an invaluable help and back then I would say from afar he was the chief engineer who helped us. He did not survive a heart surgery and passed away a couple of years ago and the letters of condolences from all over the world where amazing. I am forever grateful to this guy.
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Re: Running the US Power Grid on 100% Renewables

Unread postby pstarr » Mon 26 Jun 2017, 11:50:39

Ibon wrote:The mistake is binary thinking, creating a division when there isn't one. Both on and off grid together create a more resilient society.

How so?

Ibon wrote:Why do we tend to take every damn topic and create a binary choice?

Yes, I do that. Given the various global unfolding crises, inappropriate or outmoded thinking is particularly bad. In business 'creative destruction' replaces failing modes with newer better ones. This is not a new idea
The phrase, Thesis -Antithesis -Synthesis, forms an important tenet of Marxism, and is said to have been developed by the German philosopher Hegel. Thesis stands for a proposition or theory that is widely believed in. Antithesis is a negation or refutation of this theory. Synthesis is a new theory that reconciles these two opposing viewpoints.

Example:

Thesis: People need to go the bank to draw cash.

Antithesis: It's not necessary to go to the bank to draw money.

Synthesis: Develop ATMs that can dispense cash at convenient locations.

The thesis must be refuted before a new theory arises. Until the new theory is agreed upon, then there is no one really ready or able to judge the refutation. My rule is graciously and generously. It is an endless cycle: thesis, antithesis, synthesis. Start all over with a new thesis.
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Re: Running the US Power Grid on 100% Renewables

Unread postby KaiserJeep » Mon 26 Jun 2017, 12:27:41

The world is analog, the possibilities are endless, binary thinking is wholly inappropriate, and Marx was an ignorant idiot who never wrote anything worth reading.
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Re: Running the US Power Grid on 100% Renewables

Unread postby pstarr » Mon 26 Jun 2017, 12:38:23

KaiserJeep wrote:The world is analog, the possibilities are endless, binary thinking is wholly inappropriate, and Marx was an ignorant idiot who never wrote anything worth reading.

Was Hegel an idiot also?
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Re: Running the US Power Grid on 100% Renewables

Unread postby baha » Mon 26 Jun 2017, 13:43:36

Ha, Ha. We're getting some meat into this discussion now...
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No, I didn't build it...but I could. Not what you expected? Engineers are very literal :)

OS - Do you have to make so much damn sense? I chose a side of the argument and I am defending it the best I can. The underlying blessing is that I get to make the choice.

Ibon - see above

KJ - I support electrical cooperatives. I may build one someday. TPTB are not just the govt, the big corporations are complicit. It's not a conspiracy, it's the momentum of 'the way things are done'. We need to do it different. NC makes the national news everytime Duke power is 'held to account' and then the rates go up :) You know as well as I do rates do not include the true cost of the power. The rest comes from taxes and health care.

Yes, applied Physics...system engineering...integration...standards and certifications...Plug and Play.

Yes I will maintain a micro-grid if you raise the chickens :)

Here's some meat...or maybe just fire...using a small generator to wake up a grid-tied PV system can result in a generator explosion and fire. I'm glad you know what you are doing. Remember how puny and insignificant your FF technology is to the Sun.

However, I have a standalone PV inverter that creates a grid. I can use it to wake up as many grid-tied inverters as I want (for a small fee). This is what a micro-grid is. A bunch of PV inverters with one in charge...mine.
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Re: Running the US Power Grid on 100% Renewables

Unread postby KaiserJeep » Mon 26 Jun 2017, 14:18:43

No, Hegel was not an idiot. Marx and Engels were idiots, because they wrote about bogus theories of economics and society. They were entirely ignorant of the nature of mankind the ape, and assumed that one could act in ways in opposition to ape instincts. Not their fault, perhaps, as they were contemporaries of Darwin and the modern science of Anthropology which is built upon a foundation of Darwinism. Their economic theories are wholly mistaken and thus of historical interest alone, since they never did describe a workable economic system.

Marxism in all it's permutations has killed more people than Fascism. In the 20th Century, mass murders were perpetrated by Marxists in the USSR, China, Cambodia, Bulgaria, East Germany, Romania, North Korea, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, and Hungary. Marxists make the Nazis look like pikers, they are evil incarnate. Marxism appeals to despots, as long as they can be in charge, and they will slaughter endlessly to make that happen.

This if off-topic, start another thread if you must discuss Marx and his bogus economics.
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Re: Running the US Power Grid on 100% Renewables

Unread postby pstarr » Mon 26 Jun 2017, 14:30:37

Then your partisan obsession missed the point of my post. All theories are subject to negotiation.
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Re: Running the US Power Grid on 100% Renewables

Unread postby asg70 » Mon 26 Jun 2017, 15:39:21

pstarr wrote:Given the various global unfolding crises, inappropriate or outmoded thinking is particularly bad.


And you're here to save the day??

News flash: spending thousands of hours of your life trying to enforce right-think onto a handful of posters here is not going to move the needle so get off your high-horse.

pstarr wrote:It is an endless cycle: thesis, antithesis, synthesis. Start all over with a new thesis.


You seemed to miss the part where peak-oil doom got discredited.
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