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Wind & Solar Are Wrong Path Pt. 2

Discussions of conventional and alternative energy production technologies.

Wind & Solar Are Wrong Path Pt. 2

Unread postby Outcast_Searcher » Tue 08 May 2018, 23:42:38

ROCKMAN wrote:Outcast - And all things being equal if someone wants to lose money for that energy security it should be their choice and not mandated IMHO. I also suspect that upfront cost doesn't included the battery storage. And also maybe the finance cost of that installation over a 30 year mortgage.

Correct. I'd call it paying money instead of "losing money", as in exchange for money, someone can get more power security, just as they'd pay for any other good or service.

And yes, batteries are NOT cheap, at least the maintenance free LI-ION batteries that make things pretty much automatic, such as the Powerwall batteries for the home. They could easily double the cost of a solar installation if one wants a multiple day reserve of power to handle rainy days, very hot or cold weather, etc.

I don't think I said or implied anything about ANYTHING being mandatory re such systems. I'm definitely talking about someone making a personal choice of spending money for energy security. My main point was that energy security could be a powerful incentive for some people, depending on their circumstances.
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Re: Wind & Solar Are Wrong Path

Unread postby Outcast_Searcher » Tue 08 May 2018, 23:51:16

GHung wrote:To carry Baha's points a bit farther, every independent kWh I produce and use gets a 30% - 40% bonus because it's untaxed income. If we were writing a check every month to a utility, we would have paid income tax on that money at some point, along with taxes and fees to the utility. That money-not-spent goes into tax-deferred savings which has added up nicely over the years. And if folks have taken state and federal tax credits to install their systems, the deal gets sweeter. The math works out quite well over time, all things considered, especially for those who stay put and don't move every few years.

I don't understand. Unless you want to buy annuities (with high fees and complexity and downsides) or tax free bonds (that pay lower interest rates), there are strict limits on how much money you can save tax deferred in 401-K's and such.

So how is money saved not paying the power company (after a solar / battery system is fully paid off) untaxed income more than any OTHER money saved in general?
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Re: Wind & Solar Are Wrong Path

Unread postby KaiserJeep » Wed 09 May 2018, 01:09:05

Think of it as you would a bartered commodity that is never assigned any dollar price. You generate power on your roof, and use it in the house. It never goes through the power meter, it is never counted as income, it incurrs no tax liability. It reduces the amount of power you would otherwise withdraw from the grid, and pay for with money. If you have an EV, it allows you to drive on a road without paying any taxes for that, either.

You don't need a battery for this, as long as you are in a place (such as California) that mandates "net metering". The power grid is effectively a lossless free battery in such a net metering jurisdiction.

I've been doing this for years. California hit 60% solar energy this year, and exceeded 100% renewable energy, because last year was a wet one and lots of hydropower was online again. In prior years we were importing power from places like Texas, primarily wind. Now we have new renewables in-state and will soon be a net exporter of renewable energy. Most of California's new renewable capacity is solar, mostly residential and medium-scale (malls, parking lots, schools, misc. empty lots covered in solar panels, etc.).

So now California is going to mandate solar roofs on new construction residences. The next step would be net zero energy homes, and with EVs, all of a sudden, the suburban lifestyle is again practical and affordable, and even ecologically sound.
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Re: Wind & Solar Are Wrong Path

Unread postby vtsnowedin » Wed 09 May 2018, 03:40:01

baha wrote:
vtsnowedin wrote: And on top of that this is supposed to be a free country where you can make your own decisions.


Of course not :) You are not allowed to live in a shack with no electricity or water. Makes sense to me to require you to make your own power and pump your own water when possible.

What planet do you live on? There are a lot of off grid "shacks" out in rural America and elsewhere. And everybody has water. It maybe hand pumped from a well or bailed from a brook or pond in a bucket but everybody has water. Even a Bedouin in KSA herding camels and goats.
There are people living homeless in the streets of our cities and you think there is a law preventing people from living in shacks on their own land?
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Re: Wind & Solar Are Wrong Path

Unread postby pstarr » Wed 09 May 2018, 12:12:45

vtsnowedin wrote:
baha wrote:
vtsnowedin wrote: And on top of that this is supposed to be a free country where you can make your own decisions.


Of course not :) You are not allowed to live in a shack with no electricity or water. Makes sense to me to require you to make your own power and pump your own water when possible.

What planet do you live on? There are a lot of off grid "shacks" out in rural America and elsewhere. And everybody has water. It maybe hand pumped from a well or bailed from a brook or pond in a bucket but everybody has water. Even a Bedouin in KSA herding camels and goats.
There are people living homeless in the streets of our cities and you think there is a law preventing people from living in shacks on their own land?

It is illegal to live off the grid. You may be able to build the structure and even power it. But not live in it without permission. There are endless roadblocks to receiving such permission. They include:

--Camping on Your Own Land is Illegal – Yes! In most places throughout the USA, it is illegal to camp on your own land for more than 2 weeks.

--Minimum Square Footage For Your Home – There are zoning restrictions which say your dwelling (whether a cabin or a house) must meet the minimum square footage requirements or the city/county will not issue a building permit.

--Minimum Lot Size – Usually within city limits the lot sizes are small (sometimes as small as 5000 sq ft., and placed closer together. But once you move out further from the city/town center into rural areas, the minimum lot sizes become much larger and the county will not allow you to parcel out your land less than a certain size in acres. Most minimum lot sizes are around 5-10 acres.

--Water – There must be a water source. This is for sanitation and health.

--Septic System – This is a big one! You can’t just dump your septic waste into the ground without a ‘proper septic system’. Usually counties will require you to have a minimum size septic system, the ground must be tested (called a perc test) “…A percolation test (from percolation, colloquially called a perc test) is a test to determine the absorption rate of soil for a septic drain field or “leach field”. The results of a percolation test are required to properly design a septic system…” ~ Wikipedia This means more time and higher costs. Some counties do not require a perc test, but some will require you to use a licensed contractor. Meaning you cannot build or install the septic system yourself. If you do it anyway, without a permit, you will be breaking the law and that makes it illegal. So this puts you in a difficult position where you have to spend more money or not build the septic system at all.

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Re: Wind & Solar Are Wrong Path Pt. 2

Unread postby vtsnowedin » Wed 09 May 2018, 16:13:29

Smoking pot is illegal in most places so of course nobody in those places ever smokes any. :)
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Re: Wind & Solar Are Wrong Path

Unread postby GHung » Wed 09 May 2018, 18:37:14

Outcast_Searcher wrote:
GHung wrote:To carry Baha's points a bit farther, every independent kWh I produce and use gets a 30% - 40% bonus because it's untaxed income. If we were writing a check every month to a utility, we would have paid income tax on that money at some point, along with taxes and fees to the utility. That money-not-spent goes into tax-deferred savings which has added up nicely over the years. And if folks have taken state and federal tax credits to install their systems, the deal gets sweeter. The math works out quite well over time, all things considered, especially for those who stay put and don't move every few years.

I don't understand. Unless you want to buy annuities (with high fees and complexity and downsides) or tax free bonds (that pay lower interest rates), there are strict limits on how much money you can save tax deferred in 401-K's and such.

So how is money saved not paying the power company (after a solar / battery system is fully paid off) untaxed income more than any OTHER money saved in general?


I guess you'll find it surprising that most folks haven't maxed out their 401Ks, IRAs, college funds, all that. Or put it towards other home energy improvements that get tax credits. If you are one of that group who already has a significant financial surplus, it may not make sense, financially. Then again, that group tends to view the rest of us through their lens of surplus.
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Re: Wind & Solar Are Wrong Path Pt. 2

Unread postby KaiserJeep » Wed 09 May 2018, 20:41:41

pstarr, there are few places as f*cked up as California when it comes to government intrusions. I have never lived in a state before that would require building permits outside of a city. There is some overiding considerations at the Federal level for protected wetlands, but those are seldom enforced, and if you don't need a building permit, they'll never get a chance to say no anyway.

Nor are septic systems required most places. Outhouses still exist in Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusets, Alaska, and North Carolina. Those would be the other states I have resided in. None are states where counties require building permits or perform inspections or limit the duration of camping. Building permits, inspections, and such things are the stuff of cities and towns. Even tax rates ignore the presence or lack of structures, coarser distinctions such as "agricultural" or "forest" are made, or in some states such as Wisconsin, "MFP" (Managed Forest Program) meaning that you allow the cutting of firewood and recreational activities such as snow mobiles and ATVs. "MFP" is actually cheaper taxes than "Forest", and the state designates which trees can be felled for firewood.

Still, I find your assertion that "it is illegal to live off the grid" amazing. Care to expand on that? Because if there is no law preventing you from doing something, it is your Constitutional right to do so.
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Re: Wind & Solar Are Wrong Path Pt. 2

Unread postby GHung » Thu 10 May 2018, 10:14:43

KaiserJeep wrote:pstarr, there are few places as f*cked up as California when it comes to government intrusions. I have never lived in a state before that would require building permits outside of a city. There is some overiding considerations at the Federal level for protected wetlands, but those are seldom enforced, and if you don't need a building permit, they'll never get a chance to say no anyway.

Nor are septic systems required most places. Outhouses still exist in Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusets, Alaska, and North Carolina. Those would be the other states I have resided in. None are states where counties require building permits or perform inspections or limit the duration of camping. Building permits, inspections, and such things are the stuff of cities and towns. Even tax rates ignore the presence or lack of structures, coarser distinctions such as "agricultural" or "forest" are made, or in some states such as Wisconsin, "MFP" (Managed Forest Program) meaning that you allow the cutting of firewood and recreational activities such as snow mobiles and ATVs. "MFP" is actually cheaper taxes than "Forest", and the state designates which trees can be felled for firewood.

Still, I find your assertion that "it is illegal to live off the grid" amazing. Care to expand on that? Because if there is no law preventing you from doing something, it is your Constitutional right to do so.


North Carolina does require building permits for permanent structures, though requirements vary from county to county. Septic permits are completely separate in our county, and one can get a septic permit for an RV site or other non-permanent structure. This is why "tiny houses" on frames/wheels are growing in popularity, here and in other places. A "permanent structure" is defined as a structure with a permanent foundation. A Certificate of Occupancy for a permanent structure is generally dependent on having passed all inspections, including an electrical inspection required by the utility, but temporary structures including RVs and tiny houses can have an electrical hookup set. Generally referred to as a "construction drop" around here. Full sized mobile homes require septic/sewer and electrical inspections (for the hookup), and I think in recent years, they require the mobile home be properly anchored in an approved manner; a gray area between permanent and non-permanent structures.

Bottom line is that one can have a septic system approved and installed without building a permanent structure, and get an RV style electrical connection, and stop there. In our county, all structures are taxed in some form. If an RV has a current registration, there is no property tax levied. If not, property tax is levied per its current value. My old RV is taxed about $10/year because I haven't paid the registration for several years.

Of course, if you live in a subdivision where covenants and/or restrictions are attached to your deed, other rules apply beyond the state and county requirements.

Many folks are 'grandfathered' in around here. If you've been living a certain way for a reasonably long period of time, have had no complaints and pay your taxes on time, the authorities aren't going to evict you. A few old timers I know have had issues with poor sewerage going into lakes or streams, and if the authorities find out, they will take action. My experience in rural areas is that common sense and flying under the radar, while meeting basic tax and sanitation requirements, go a long way towards letting folks live the way they choose.
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Re: Wind & Solar Are Wrong Path Pt. 2

Unread postby Tanada » Thu 10 May 2018, 10:25:11

KaiserJeep wrote:pstarr, there are few places as f*cked up as California when it comes to government intrusions. I have never lived in a state before that would require building permits outside of a city. There is some overiding considerations at the Federal level for protected wetlands, but those are seldom enforced, and if you don't need a building permit, they'll never get a chance to say no anyway.

Nor are septic systems required most places. Outhouses still exist in Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusets, Alaska, and North Carolina. Those would be the other states I have resided in. None are states where counties require building permits or perform inspections or limit the duration of camping. Building permits, inspections, and such things are the stuff of cities and towns. Even tax rates ignore the presence or lack of structures, coarser distinctions such as "agricultural" or "forest" are made, or in some states such as Wisconsin, "MFP" (Managed Forest Program) meaning that you allow the cutting of firewood and recreational activities such as snow mobiles and ATVs. "MFP" is actually cheaper taxes than "Forest", and the state designates which trees can be felled for firewood.

Still, I find your assertion that "it is illegal to live off the grid" amazing. Care to expand on that? Because if there is no law preventing you from doing something, it is your Constitutional right to do so.


In Michigan where I grew up outhouses are often seen in the less populated areas especially at parks and campgrounds where plumbing would be difficult and expensive. Also in Michigan for something like $5 you can get a permit to harvest about three full cords of firewood from the state forest, about the quantity needed for a medium size home to be worm and cozy all winter. In Ohio where I live now the population density is higher, but I have still experienced outhouses in parks well away from cities and easy plumbing access. Sometimes the really popular parks will install a septic system and well to keep the tourists happy, but that is more often the exception, not the standard.
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Re: Wind & Solar Are Wrong Path Pt. 2

Unread postby Tanada » Thu 10 May 2018, 10:29:20

When I started this thread series it was to point out that the idea of a purely renewable energy infrastructure equaling a 21st century lifestyle was utopian in the extreme. I have seen nothing in the now 26 total pages of discussion to refute that belief.
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Re: Wind & Solar Are Wrong Path Pt. 2

Unread postby Yonnipun » Thu 10 May 2018, 13:32:59

A septic system needs a lot of room and in some places you can not install it. My summer house is near a lake and by the law it should be prohibited to install a septic but my neighbours still have it installed. I myself am not going to install a septic because I will keep my summerhouse as low tech as possible. In winter I do not live there and I do not want to heat the building so therefore I do not even have a water piping in the house.
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Re: Wind & Solar Are Wrong Path Pt. 2

Unread postby GHung » Thu 10 May 2018, 22:30:01

Tanada wrote:When I started this thread series it was to point out that the idea of a purely renewable energy infrastructure equaling a 21st century lifestyle was utopian in the extreme. I have seen nothing in the now 26 total pages of discussion to refute that belief.


Yep. Absolutists are usually disappointed.
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Re: Wind & Solar Are Wrong Path Pt. 2

Unread postby pstarr » Fri 11 May 2018, 00:38:16

Yeah, we are Amuricans and it is our god given right to crap in the streams and dump our waste out in the backyard.

Screw regs, I say lol
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Re: Wind & Solar Are Wrong Path Pt. 2

Unread postby ROCKMAN » Fri 11 May 2018, 13:48:42

"...it is our god given right to crap in the streams...". No, it is our constitutional right. Just as it is for all our other "rights". We are a representative democracy. We elect our representatives by majority vote. Thus they outline our rights. If the majority does not like their interpretation of those rights we replace them the next election cycle.

God has no say in what the USA does or doesn't do.
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Re: Wind & Solar Are Wrong Path Pt. 2

Unread postby Outcast_Searcher » Fri 11 May 2018, 14:35:28

GHung wrote:
Tanada wrote:When I started this thread series it was to point out that the idea of a purely renewable energy infrastructure equaling a 21st century lifestyle was utopian in the extreme. I have seen nothing in the now 26 total pages of discussion to refute that belief.

Yep. Absolutists are usually disappointed.

But it doesn't take anything close to being an absolutist to be disappointed on that front.

At the rate we're going it will take several decades to reach even CLOSE to a highly renewable energy infrastructure, much less a purely renewable one. And whether the energy can be produced renewably to affordably produce a 21st century lifestyle is yet to be determined, especially as BAU growth continues apace.

In fact, given the lack of meaningful CO2 taxes, I'd say we're not even making a reasonable EFFORT. And no, I don't think the giant can kick representing the Paris Climate Accords is at all reasonable, unless the ONLY true goal is to get current politicians re-elected for as long as possible.
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Re: Wind & Solar Are Wrong Path Pt. 2

Unread postby vtsnowedin » Fri 11 May 2018, 16:42:26

Outcast_Searcher wrote:
GHung wrote:
Tanada wrote:When I started this thread series it was to point out that the idea of a purely renewable energy infrastructure equaling a 21st century lifestyle was utopian in the extreme. I have seen nothing in the now 26 total pages of discussion to refute that belief.

Yep. Absolutists are usually disappointed.

But it doesn't take anything close to being an absolutist to be disappointed on that front.

At the rate we're going it will take several decades to reach even CLOSE to a highly renewable energy infrastructure, much less a purely renewable one. And whether the energy can be produced renewably to affordably produce a 21st century lifestyle is yet to be determined, especially as BAU growth continues apace.

In fact, given the lack of meaningful CO2 taxes, I'd say we're not even making a reasonable EFFORT. And no, I don't think the giant can kick representing the Paris Climate Accords is at all reasonable, unless the ONLY true goal is to get current politicians re-elected for as long as possible.

But we don't need a purely renewable energy infrastructure right away or perhaps even ever. What we need is enough renewable energy to fill the gap between our needs and the fossil fuel supply, which is today zero but is expected to grow quite rapidly once the peak of oil production is actually reached.
Factories that only work when the wind blows and sun is shinning arn't necessary at present but would become quite likely and workable say ten years post peak oil.
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Re: Wind & Solar Are Wrong Path Pt. 2

Unread postby ROCKMAN » Sat 12 May 2018, 11:40:51

vt - "What we need is enough renewable energy to fill the gap between our needs and the fossil fuel supply, which is today zero..." And there's the rub. First, who is "we"? For folks in Africa their "needs" greatly exceeds the fossil fuels they are currently consuming. Even true in the US but to a much less extent.
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Re: Wind & Solar Are Wrong Path Pt. 2

Unread postby Outcast_Searcher » Sat 12 May 2018, 12:01:04

vtsnowedin wrote:But we don't need a purely renewable energy infrastructure right away or perhaps even ever. What we need is enough renewable energy to fill the gap between our needs and the fossil fuel supply, which is today zero but is expected to grow quite rapidly once the peak of oil production is actually reached.

We don't "need" that re energy to consume to run the economy, true. However, we "need" it very badly if we want to have a shred of hope of mitigating CO2 damage long enough to allow science and resources a decent chance of dealing with all the damage AGW has already in the pipeline. This would include removing a HELL of a lot of CO2 from the atmosphere and sequestering it. Given how huge and expensive that task will be in total (and getting worse the longer BAU growth persists with lots of FF burning), I'd say we NEED it very badly. Obviously, "need" must be defined, and I'm looking beyond just short term energy needs re humanity's well being.

Factories that only work when the wind blows and sun is shinning arn't necessary at present but would become quite likely and workable say ten years post peak oil.

Only if we assume the whole concept of a growing battery (and other sources) storage network can't happen. Only if we ignore the fact that, for example, the wind tends to blow more when the sun doesn't shine. Or the fact that other sources like waves, geothermal, etc. can be brought into play. If we're talking 10 years post peak oil (from all sources), that could be two, three, or more decades away. That's a LOT of time to build green power networks and power storage networks. Tesla is already showing the concept to work -- now the questions are scale and cost.

Sure, if we must, we could run factories intermittently -- especially if the human labor drops to near zero in them. (It doesn't cost a wage and benefits to have a machine sit idle.) However, given the costs of such intermittency, I believe profit seeking businesses will only put up with that if they have to.

Example: Look at the MESS Ford is in due to a shortage of parts for F-series vehicles. Last I looked, multiple production lines idled, due to one fire at a supplier due to "just in time" delivery. Businesses are NOT going to put up with that on a routine basis, every time there is a green power shortage, if there are no good backup power sources. IMO, the entire global economy would be chaos -- or MUCH more expensive to run, since massive local parts stockpiling for everyone (a giant step backward in cost and efficiency) would then be necessary.
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Re: Wind & Solar Are Wrong Path Pt. 2

Unread postby jawagord » Fri 18 May 2018, 15:58:17

I like this commentary, "the slayer of bullshit" ! So appropriate for those thinking renewables are going to power the future.

Smil has forced climate advocates to reckon with the vast inertia sustaining the modern world's dependence on fossil fuels, and to question many of the rosy assumptions underlying scenarios for a rapid shift to alternatives."He's a slayer of bullshit," says David Keith, an energy and climate scientist at Harvard University.

Give Smil 5 minutes and he'll pick apart one cherished scenario after another. Germany's solar revolution as an example for the world to follow? An extraordinarily inefficient approach, given how little sunlight the country receives, that hasn't reduced that nation's reliance on fossil fuels. Electric semitrailers? Good for little more than hauling the weight of their own batteries. Wind turbines as the embodiment of a low-carbon future? Heavy equipment powered by oil had to dig their foundations, Smil notes, and kilns fired with natural gas baked the concrete. And their steel towers, gleaming in the sun? Forged with coal.
"There's a lot of hopey-feely going on in the energy policy community," says David Victor, an expert on international climate policy at the University of California, San Diego. And Smil "revels in the capability to show those falsehoods."


Smil's writing career kicked off in the mid-1970s, just as an embargo on oil sales by Middle Eastern nations woke up developed nations to just how hooked they were on petroleum, for transportation, heating, farming, chemicals, even electricity. The jolt came just after the publication of The Limits to Growth, an influential study that, using a simple computer model, warned of a pending depletion of the planet's resources.
Smil was intrigued and taught himself programming to re-create the model for himself. "I saw it was utter nonsense," he recalls; the model was far too simple and easily skewed by initial assumptions.
He constructed a similar model of how carbon dioxide emissions affect climate and found it similarly wanting. He understood the physics of the greenhouse effect and the potential for a carbon dioxide buildup to warm Earth, but models seemed too dependent on assumptions about things like clouds. Ever since, he's held models of all kinds in contempt. "I have too much respect for reality," he says.



http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/03/ ... out-energy
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