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THE Alternative Energy (general) Thread pt 3(merged)

Discussions of conventional and alternative energy production technologies.

Re: Is solar energy the solution?

Unread postby MonteQuest » Fri 21 Nov 2014, 14:01:01

Ulenspiegel wrote:Monte,

your graph is 100% nonsense.


Tell that to the EIA. That graph is from their "latest" Energy Outlook.
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Re: Is solar energy the solution?

Unread postby MonteQuest » Fri 21 Nov 2014, 14:06:41

isgota wrote:And what guarantees you will get zero investment in RE?


What??? Did you miss the humor? My point was how much longer can pundits spin the decline in RE investments as attributed to declining costs?
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Re: Is solar energy the solution?

Unread postby MonteQuest » Fri 21 Nov 2014, 14:14:23

kublikhan wrote: Renewable investments are trending up this year.


Ok. +1 for Kublikhan. 8) Let's see if that continues. $175 + billion is a lot less than the $318 billion peak. I still see the huge world debt as a major obstacle. Japan just went into recession.

We need a trillion per year investment.
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Re: Is solar energy the solution?

Unread postby Graeme » Fri 21 Nov 2014, 15:23:22

MonteQuest wrote:
isgota wrote:And what guarantees you will get zero investment in RE?


What??? Did you miss the humor? My point was how much longer can pundits spin the decline in RE investments as attributed to declining costs?


It's not spin; it's a fact as stated in Forbes.

Solar Ran A $40 Billion Surplus In 2013: Here's What It Means

The Climate Policy Initiative came out with one of the more interesting reports in a long while on funding for renewable projects this week. The report stated that funding for renewable projects declined $28 billion in 2013, skidding from $359 billion to $331 billion in 2013.

The decline, however, wasn’t from lack of interest among investors. It came because solar and other renewables got cheaper. In particular, the annual decline in the cost of solar technology caused the 2013 total to be reduced by $40 billion.

“Around 80% of the sharp fall in private investment came from falling costs for some renewable technologies (particularly solar PV) where efficiencies are increasing and unit costs are coming down. If investment solar costs had remained the same in 2013 as in 2012, the 2013 solar deployment would have resulted in an increase of USD 12 billion in global climate finance flows rather than a decrease of USD 28 billion,” the story stated.


And costs will get cheaper when this new method of installation catches on.

Solar Panels That Configure Themselves

Ordinarily, installing and connecting a new array of rooftop solar panels takes days, weeks, or even months because the hardware is complex and various permits are needed. Yesterday, on a frigid day in Charlestown, Massachusetts, researchers completed the process in about an hour.

Homeowners can install the system themselves, by gluing it to a rooftop. The permitting is handled by a combination of electronic sensors and software that communicates with local jurisdictions and utilities.

Installation and permit-related expenses currently account for more than half of the overall cost of a new solar power setup. “By simplifying the system so that it’s like installing an appliance, we envision that the soft cost will be virtually eliminated,” says Christian Hoepfner, director of the Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems, which developed the system. Doing so would lower the cost of a typical residential solar installation from $22,000 to as little as $7,500, he says.

“It’s impressive to see how quickly the installation went up,” Fouad Dagher, manager of new products and services at the utility National Grid, said after the demonstration. “It makes it easier for consumers and utilities.”
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Re: Is solar energy the solution?

Unread postby MonteQuest » Fri 21 Nov 2014, 19:06:59

Graeme wrote: It's not spin; it's a fact as stated in Forbes


A fact used as spin to mask the drop in investment. Shouldn't the drop in costs have spurred investment?

So, if this year's investments in RE drops again, can they say it is due to declining costs again?
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Re: Is solar energy the solution?

Unread postby MonteQuest » Fri 21 Nov 2014, 19:15:39

The energy infrastructure for fossil fuels is well-established, accounting for approximately 87% of the 16 terawatts of power consumed globally. For renewable energies to contribute a relevant role in our future energy mix, they must be able to scale to the TW level of deployment.

Richard Smalley estimated that it would probably take a staggering 60 terawatts to provide a comfortable first-world lifestyle to all the planet's 10 billion or so inhabitants expected to be around in the year 2050.

"To solve the energy challenge, we will have to find a way to produce, every day, not just what we are producing right now, but at least twice that much. We will need to increase our energy output by a minimum factor of two... certainly by the middle of the century, but preferably well before that... To give all 10 billion people on the planet the level of energy prosperity we in the developed world are used to... we would need to generate 60 terawatts —the equivalent of 900 million barrels of oil, per day."-- Smalley (2004)

The IEA estimates that by 2050 we will need to produce 30 terawatts or the equivalent of 450 million barrels of oil/day.

Is solar PV up to the task? Not the whole task, but a significant contribution?

According to BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2014, world consumption of solar electricity reached 125 terawatt-hours in 2013. In 2013, solar electricity consumption accounted for 0.2 percent of the world primary energy consumption. 16 TW x .2%=.032 TW

With all these news stories about the massive growth in solar, it makes the casual observer believe that solar is garnering a huge share of the mix. Trouble is, it has an awful small base to grow from, especially since energy demand is a moving target upwards towards 30 terawatts.

How much could that share realistically rise by 2050 in a debt-ridden, climate changing, declining fossil fuel world? Remember, nothing grows exponentially forever.

From what I read, at current efficiencies it takes more than two years for a solar cell to generate the amount of energy that was used to make the silicon it contains. Thin-film solar cells attempt to overcome this problem, but they are considerably less efficient as a result.

All forms of renewable energy have a significant energy payback time. So, to me, renewable energy development represents a new energy consumer, just at the time when energy becomes more expensive and not as readily available. I'm not optimistic we will get much done.

We should have done this in the 70’s.
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Re: Is solar energy the solution?

Unread postby MonteQuest » Fri 21 Nov 2014, 19:35:26

isgota wrote:
MonteQuest wrote:
Yet, investment is declining almost 11%/yr. I don't see that changing for "large scale" projects as RE costs drop. Too much debt.

Solar PV is mostly small scale installations on buildings, right? I am talking about large scale installations.



Wrong.


I stand corrected.
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Re: Is solar energy the solution?

Unread postby Graeme » Sat 22 Nov 2014, 15:58:36

Solar is Disrupting the $2 Trillion Energy Industry: This CEO Tells You How

The solar energy industry is rapidly changing from an industry reliant on government subsidies to a disruptive force driven by competitive costs and rapid innovation. One company at the center of the solar revolution is SunPower (NASDAQ: SPWR ) , manufacturer of the world's most efficient solar panels. The company builds solar energy systems as small as a handheld device and as large as a power plant that will power 255,000 homes every year.

At SunPower's recent Analyst Day, the company announced it would triple production capacity over the next five years and is doubling down on the growing residential solar market. After the meeting I sat down with CEO Tom Werner to discuss SunPower's future in this booming industry.

A full transcript follows the video.



Werner: When we did Analyst Day we did talk about some specific things we are doing but we talked about the backdrop we're operating in and it's really phenomenal. I mean if you think about how solar has a 30% annual compound growth rate for 20 years. So, you say this is a really big industry, it must have a huge impact or a big market share. But in fact, in the electricity generation industry we're 1%. So, while we've grown 30% a year, we're 1% of a $2 trillion market. Really we're just at the beginning. It's a $120 billion solar industry that's just at the beginning. When you look at out to 2035 the electricity generation industry will be twice as big, $4 trillion, and we think -- and industry analysts think -- that solar distribution will be 10 times what it is today. So were just at the beginning; this is a massive opportunity.


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Re: Is solar energy the solution?

Unread postby MonteQuest » Sat 22 Nov 2014, 23:20:01

Graeme wrote:
I mean if you think about how solar has a 30% annual compound growth rate for 20 years. So, you say this is a really big industry, it must have a huge impact or a big market share. But in fact, in the electricity generation industry we're 1%. So, while we've grown 30% a year, we're 1% of a $2 trillion market. Really we're just at the beginning. It's a $120 billion solar industry that's just at the beginning. When you look at out to 2035 the electricity generation industry will be twice as big, $4 trillion, and we think -- and industry analysts think -- that solar distribution will be 10 times what it is today.


So, in 2035, he projects that solar distribution will be about 10% of the electrical generation industry. Industry analysts also predict that without increasing the number of frequency regulation generators in use (backups to offset intermittency), solar power won't be able to supply more than 5 percent of our current power demands.

And since the use of solar power cannot be increased without also increasing backup services, the cost of solar electricity, which is already much higher than other sources, will also increase.

Of course, we all could go off grid. 8)

EIA predicts a cost of $130/megawatt hour for 2018 installed Solar.

$95.60 for coal

And $66.30 for NG
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Re: Is solar energy the solution?

Unread postby MonteQuest » Sat 22 Nov 2014, 23:29:36

Ulenspiegel wrote:We see already a shift from NG back coal in electricity generation in the USA at a large scale due to economic constraints (low price for coal, higher price for NG), WTF should an investor finance much new NG capacity?


"Relative fuel costs have favored coal-fired generation over natural gas this year, leading to an expected increase in coal's share of total generation from 39.1% in 2013 to 39.6% this year, while the share supplied by natural gas falls from 27.4% to 27.0%. In 2015, EIA expects that natural gas's fuel share will rise to 27.6% and coal's fuel share will decline to 38.8%."--EIA
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Re: Is solar energy the solution?

Unread postby dorlomin » Sun 23 Nov 2014, 10:32:41

I have been blown away by the progress of solar pv over the past decade. It is shaping up to be the disruptive technology of the next 20 years. It certainly wont solve our energy problems but it will give us tools to reduce their impact.

When I first arrived on this site I thought solar was a toy for well off people to buy a bit of social conscious, now I believe they will be a major part of the post peak energy mix in the better locations.
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Re: Is solar energy the solution?

Unread postby MonteQuest » Sun 23 Nov 2014, 10:55:28

dorlomin wrote:When I first arrived on this site I thought solar was a toy for well off people to buy a bit of social conscious, now I believe they will be a major part of the post peak energy mix in the better locations.


Yet, projections say otherwise. 10% in 2035 is not major.

To be major, it would need to replace either oil, coal, or natural gas.
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Re: Is solar energy the solution?

Unread postby dashster » Sun 23 Nov 2014, 11:44:07

MonteQuest wrote:
dorlomin wrote:When I first arrived on this site I thought solar was a toy for well off people to buy a bit of social conscious, now I believe they will be a major part of the post peak energy mix in the better locations.


Yet, projections say otherwise. 10% in 2035 is not major.

To be major, it would need to replace either oil, coal, or natural gas.


The projection above that talks about 10% also talks about the electric generation industry doubling in 20 years. I don't think there is enough coal and natural gas to double in 20 years. Wikipedia entry for Peak Coal says "Global coal reserve data is generally of poor quality and is often biased towards the high side. Collective projections generally predict that global peak coal extraction may occur sometime around 2025 at 30 percent above current extraction."
For Peak Gas it says "The US Energy Information Administration predicts that world gas production will continue to increase through 2030, with a total increase of almost 50%"

It will be very hard for electrical output to double by 2035. So if someone says solar will 10% of 4 trillion industry, if they are right on the growth of solar, it is more likely to be 15% of a 3 trillion industry or 20% of 2 trillion industry.
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Re: Is solar energy the solution?

Unread postby Graeme » Sun 23 Nov 2014, 14:53:51

MonteQuest wrote:
dorlomin wrote:When I first arrived on this site I thought solar was a toy for well off people to buy a bit of social conscious, now I believe they will be a major part of the post peak energy mix in the better locations.


Yet, projections say otherwise. 10% in 2035 is not major.

To be major, it would need to replace either oil, coal, or natural gas.


Now you accept the possibility of 10% of the US energy needs being met by solar. That's an order of magnitude higher than the number you so often quote. Actually it's not that difficult to achieve yet another order of magnitude jump - you just need the land:

The short answer is that there is MORE than enough energy striking our planet every minute of every day to provide the energy we need, and that only a small part of our land area need be dedicated to harvesting that energy to keep our society running. The United States used about 12.7 Quad of electricity in 2011 – about 3,800 billion kilowatt*hours. Assuming a typical solar ground array that provides about 375,000 kilowatt*hours of electricity annually per acre (in the American Southwest), that means we need to dedicate about 10 million acres of real estate. That is just under 16,000 square miles.

That is a lot of space – but let’s put it into context. That represents about half a percent (0.5%) of the land area of the US. We dedicate about 20% of our land area to growing food, so is it really so crazy to dedicate one fortieth of that space to generating ALL the electricity our energy intensive society needs to function? And there would be no emissions once installed, and no dependence on fuel supplies of any type. As it turns out, the federal government owns a huge tract of land just outside Las Vegas that would do the trick – the Nevada Test Site is about 16,000 square miles, and is a stretch of undeveloped dessert used primarily for target practice by navy fighters. If we were to dedicate this land, already owned by the American people, to solar energy production, almost all of our electricity needs would be met indefinitely, without greenhouse gas emissions or other pollution. And as a society, we would never be held hostage to the economic consequences of future fuel increases, since sunlight continues to be free.
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Re: Is solar energy the solution?

Unread postby MonteQuest » Sun 23 Nov 2014, 15:52:43

dashster wrote:It will be very hard for electrical output to double by 2035. So if someone says solar will 10% of 4 trillion industry, if they are right on the growth of solar, it is more likely to be 15% of a 3 trillion industry or 20% of 2 trillion industry.


Or 5% if the NG and coal aren't there for intermittency backup.
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Re: Is solar energy the solution?

Unread postby MonteQuest » Sun 23 Nov 2014, 15:56:51

Graeme wrote: Now you accept the possibility of 10% of the US energy needs being met by solar.


That's 10% of the world's electrical energy needs being met by solar PV in 2035.
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Re: Is solar energy the solution?

Unread postby Graeme » Sun 23 Nov 2014, 16:21:11

And also America's energy needs.

“Given the growth of solar over the last few years, getting to 10 percent of U.S. electricity from solar should happen far sooner than 2030,” said Jigar Shah, a solar industry pioneer and President of Generate Capital.
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Re: Is solar energy the solution?

Unread postby MonteQuest » Sun 23 Nov 2014, 18:09:35

Graeme wrote:And also America's energy needs.

“Given the growth of solar over the last few years, getting to 10 percent of U.S. electricity from solar should happen far sooner than 2030,” said Jigar Shah, a solar industry pioneer and President of Generate Capital.


Image

The share of U.S. electricity generation coming from renewable fuels (including conventional hydropower) grows from 12% in 2012 to 16% in 2040 in the AEO2014 Reference case. Consumption of solar energy grows the fastest, but starting from a small base it accounts for only a small share of the total in 2040.--EIA

Solar’s share of total U.S. generation capacity now stands at 1.13% up from .9% in 2012.

That 2012 mix breaks down to:

6.9% Hydro
3.2% wind
1.3% Biomass
.3% Geothermal
.9% Solar
Image

In 2035 that 16% without hydro leaves ~10%. Assuming that wind, biomass and Geothermal don't change much, that leaves about 5% for solar in 2035. And that's generation capacity, not actual generation. Due to intermittency, many experts say that actual generation may be in the .5% to .9% range.

Who will be right?
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Re: Is solar energy the solution?

Unread postby Graeme » Sun 23 Nov 2014, 19:25:02

Definitely not the EIA. They are well known for being too conservative.

However, EIA also offers several other scenarios — including the No Sunset and CHG25 cases — in which "renewables account for 24 percent and 27 percent, respectively, of total electricity generation in 2040...In fact, renewable penetration of electricity supply in both cases meets or surpasses 16 percent by 2020, which is the level attained in the Reference case by 2040."

Significantly, these latter projections are higher than those presented in the past by EIA. However, while more credible, these scenarios will also almost certainly prove to be unduly conservative.

In fact, based on the actual growth rates for renewable energy sources (i.e., biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar, wind) over the past decade, multiple other studies, and even analyses from EIA itself, it is likely that renewables will comprise a much larger share of the nation's electrical generating supply by 2040 — perhaps two, three or more times higher than the Reference case level forecast by EIA.

There are multiple grounds for challenging EIA's "Annual Energy Outlook" projections — particularly the Reference Case:


Even the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy Ernest Moniz implicitly disagrees with EIA's renewable energy projections. In a March 2014 interview, he was quoted as stating: "In the last four or five years, we have seen a doubling of wind and solar. We expect another doubling over the next several years...we are looking by 2030 to having a very, very large fraction of our capacity in wind, solar and other renewables…30 percent, 40 percent.”
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Re: Is solar energy the solution?

Unread postby dashster » Sun 23 Nov 2014, 21:56:44

MonteQuest wrote:
dashster wrote:It will be very hard for electrical output to double by 2035. So if someone says solar will 10% of 4 trillion industry, if they are right on the growth of solar, it is more likely to be 15% of a 3 trillion industry or 20% of 2 trillion industry.


Or 5% if the NG and coal aren't there for intermittency backup.


When I see intemittency talked about, it is usually with regard to wind farms. At least with the desert areas of the southwest - or even most of California, it seems like solar arrays would be a much much easier to handle with regard to intermittency. There might even be a device that could be set up to give sufficient advance warning if clouds go over it prior to going over the solar arrays. In which case intermittency would be entirely predictable, save the failure of the warning device.
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