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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 dashster » Sun 23 Nov 2014, 22:01:55

I could be wrong, but I don't think we have reached a point where the majority of people in America think that a big build up in renewable energy is critical, or even important. I don't see that happening until, at a minimum, total liquids peaks. Some people argue that we can move from oil to natural gas for transportation. So it may take natural gas and/or coal peaking in production for people to think we need a big buildup in renewables. Until that time, I expect to see a massive amount of money blown on the military.
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Re: Is solar energy the solution?

Unread postby MonteQuest » Sun 23 Nov 2014, 23:34:59

Graeme wrote: "In the last four or five years, we have seen a doubling of wind and solar.


1% to 2%

We expect another doubling over the next several years...

2% to 4% in several years? More than two years but not many years, so four or five years? 2020?

"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.”

12% to 40% in ten years? When pigs fly and shit lollipops.
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Re: Is solar energy the solution?

Unread postby MonteQuest » Sun 23 Nov 2014, 23:44:34

dashster wrote: 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.


You still have to have the spinning capacity to back it up even if you can predict the intermittency.
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Re: Is solar energy the solution?

Unread postby dashster » Mon 24 Nov 2014, 00:08:30

MonteQuest wrote:
dashster wrote: 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.


You still have to have the spinning capacity to back it up even if you can predict the intermittency.


What is spinning capacity?

I just realized that there is probably another issue with solar. They probably put out more electricity in the middle of the day than early morning and late afternoon. Although that executive talking about thermal solar said it could be putting out electricity at night, so that would probably be able to alleviate changes during the day.
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Re: Is solar energy the solution?

Unread postby Ulenspiegel » Mon 24 Nov 2014, 02:10:24

@Monte

You do not need spinning capacity. Batteries are cheaper and better.

@dashster

A good mix of PV and wind is the solution. The ratio depends on region, winter/summer demand and daytime peak (AC vs. space heating).
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Solar and Wind Energy Start to Win on Price vs. Conventional

Unread postby GHung » Mon 24 Nov 2014, 11:18:20

Solar and Wind Energy Start to Win on Price vs. Conventional Fuels
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/24/busin ... .html?_r=1

For the solar and wind industries in the United States, it has been a long-held dream: to produce energy at a cost equal to conventional sources like coal and natural gas.

That day appears to be dawning.

The cost of providing electricity from wind and solar power plants has plummeted over the last five years, so much so that in some markets renewable generation is now cheaper than coal or natural gas.

Utility executives say the trend has accelerated this year, with several companies signing contracts, known as power purchase agreements, for solar or wind at prices below that of natural gas, especially in the Great Plains and Southwest, where wind and sunlight are abundant.

Those prices were made possible by generous subsidies that could soon diminish or expire, but recent analyses show that even without those subsidies, alternative energies can often compete with traditional sources.

In Texas, Austin Energy signed a deal this spring for 20 years of output from a solar farm at less than 5 cents a kilowatt-hour. In September, the Grand River Dam Authority in Oklahoma announced its approval of a new agreement to buy power from a new wind farm expected to be completed next year. Grand River estimated the deal would save its customers roughly $50 million from the project.

And, also in Oklahoma, American Electric Power ended up tripling the amount of wind power it had originally sought after seeing how low the bids came in last year.

“Wind was on sale — it was a Blue Light Special,” said Jay Godfrey, managing director of renewable energy for the company. He noted that Oklahoma, unlike many states, did not require utilities to buy power from renewable sources.

“We were doing it because it made sense for our ratepayers,” he said.

According to a study by the investment banking firm Lazard, the cost of utility-scale solar energy is as low as 5.6 cents a kilowatt-hour, and wind is as low as 1.4 cents. In comparison, natural gas comes at 6.1 cents a kilowatt-hour on the low end and coal at 6.6 cents. Without subsidies, the firm’s analysis shows, solar costs about 7.2 cents a kilowatt-hour at the low end, with wind at 3.7 cents.

“It is really quite notable, when compared to where we were just five years ago, to see the decline in the cost of these technologies,” said Jonathan Mir, a managing director at Lazard, which has been comparing the economics of power generation technologies since 2008.

Mr. Mir noted there were hidden costs that needed to be taken into account for both renewable energy and fossil fuels. Solar and wind farms, for example, produce power intermittently — when the sun is shining or the wind is blowing — and that requires utilities to have power available on call from other sources that can respond to fluctuations in demand. Alternately, conventional power sources produce pollution, like carbon emissions, which face increasing restrictions and costs.

But in a straight comparison of the costs of generating power, Mr. Mir said that the amount solar and wind developers needed to earn from each kilowatt-hour they sell from new projects was often “essentially competitive with what would otherwise be had from newly constructed conventional generation.”
.....

Also:

Wind energy provides more than 2/3 of [new] US capacity in October
http://www.onlinetes.com/wind-energy-ma ... HPgkdLF-So

Washington – According to the latest "Energy Infrastructure Update" report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (FERC) Office of Energy Projects, wind power provided over two-thirds (68.41%) of new U.S. electrical generating capacity in October 2014. Specifically, five wind farms in Colorado, Kansas, Michigan, Nebraska, and Texas came on line last month, accounting for 574MW of new capacity.

In addition, seven "units" of biomass (102MW) and five units of solar (31MW) came into service accounting for 12.16% and 3.69% of new capacity respectively. The balance came from three units of natural gas (132MW - 15.73%).

Moreover, for the eighth time in the past ten months, renewable energy sources (i.e., biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar, wind) accounted for the majority of new U.S. electrical generation brought into service. Natural gas took the lead in the other two months (April and August).

Of the 9,903MW of new generating capacity from all sources installed since January 1, 2014, 34 units of wind accounted for 2,189MW (22.10%), followed by 208 units of solar - 1,801MW (18.19%), 45 units of biomass - 241MW (2.43%), 7 units of hydropower - 141MW (1.42%), and 5 units of geothermal - 32MW (0.32%). In total, renewables have provided 44.47% of new U.S. electrical generating capacity thus far in 2014.

The balance came from 45 units of natural gas - 5,373MW (54.26%), 1 unit of nuclear - 71MW (0.72%), 15 units of oil - 47MW (0.47%), and 6 units of "other" - 7MW (0.07%). There has been no new coal capacity added thus far in 2014. Thus, new capacity from renewable sources in 2014 is more than 37 times that from oil, coal, and nuclear combined.

Renewable energy sources now account for 16.39% of total installed operating generating capacity in the U.S.: water - 8.44%, wind - 5.39%, biomass - 1.38%, solar - 0.85%, and geothermal steam - 0.33%. Renewable energy capacity is greater than that of nuclear (9.23%) and oil (3.97%) combined. *

"Congress is debating whether to renew the production tax credit for wind and other renewable energy sources," noted Ken Bossong, Executive Director of the SUN DAY Campaign. "The continued rapid growth of these technologies confirms that the PTC has proven to be a very sound investment."
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Re: Is solar energy the solution?

Unread postby Graeme » Mon 24 Nov 2014, 13:12:23

MonteQuest wrote:
Graeme wrote: "In the last four or five years, we have seen a doubling of wind and solar.


1% to 2%

We expect another doubling over the next several years...

2% to 4% in several years? More than two years but not many years, so four or five years? 2020?

"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.”

12% to 40% in ten years? When pigs fly and shit lollipops.


Monte, I think DOE Secretary Moniz (a physics professor at MIT) has more credibility than the EIA or you. I've looked for other sources to check his estimate of 30-40% renewables by 2030. I found this recent 2014 report by IRENA, which clearly states that after reviewing the renewable energy potential of 26 countries this share is possible.

The report focuses on increasing the share of renewables in electricity generation, buildings, transport and industry, saying it is possible to scale up the share of renewables to 36% by 2030. It notes that ensuring such a trajectory will limit global warming to two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by 2100.


What is even more interesting is that they claim that renewable energy infrastructure deployment will restrict global warming to two degrees by 2100. That's an enormously encouraging and quite astonishing.

Since this thread is about solar and not renewables, I'd like to go back to a DOE report on the SUNSHOT initiative and show what their target is for solar:

The results of the study suggest that if DOE and industry partners meet the SunShot Initiative’s goal, solar power could provide as much as 14% of U.S. electricity demand by 2030 and 27% by 2050.


So the answer to the thread question is a qualified yes. Solar by itself can't be the "solution" but it forms a vital part of it.

PS. You may also wish to peruse this report: US Could Generate 100 Times Its Electricity From Solar Power
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Re: Solar and Wind Energy Start to Win on Price vs. Conventi

Unread postby ROCKMAN » Mon 24 Nov 2014, 14:11:27

“Specifically, five wind farms in Colorado, Kansas, Michigan, Nebraska, and Texas came on line last month, accounting for 574MW of new capacity.” Couldn’t find the break down by state but I suspect most of that gain was in Texas. While 574 MW is a nice bump it still only represents less than 8% of the installed capacity in Texas as of last July.

Texas caught on long ago: “Texas has invested about $7 billion in a sprawling wind power network that spans nearly 4,000 miles. Wind power generates more than 12,750 megawatts (MW) of electricity for the state, according to the Texas' Public Utilities Commission. The state ranks first in the country for total MW of wind power capacity. Earlier this year, the state smashed a U.S. record for the most power generated from air power.”

But here’s the reason IMHO: “…renewable energy sources…accounted for the majority of new U.S. electrical generation brought into service.” With the economy booming Texas needed to expand electrical generation capacity as well as update our grid to handle it. So wind worked well here because it was competing with the economics of NEW fossil fuel sourced generation…not the existing power plants. Those are still consuming as much coal/NG as they ever were. The alt sources are not price competitive enough to justify replacing the fossil fuel fired plants in Texas. Which is the key reason IMHO why Texas has jumped out ahead of all the other states: we’re significantly expanding our capacity compared to most other states that are either experiencing a slow growth in demand or even a slight reduction.

Which is why a $400 million pipeline is being built in Texas from the second largest single source of GHG in the country, a coal/NG fired plant, to an old oil field where the GHG will be sequestered: more economical to build the sequestration infrastructure then build more wind turbines to replace the plant. We need that the coal to keep burning as well as the new wind farms.
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Re: Is solar energy the solution?

Unread postby kublikhan » Mon 24 Nov 2014, 15:20:24

MonteQuest wrote:Is solar PV up to the task? Not the whole task, but a significant contribution?
...
We should have done this in the 70’s.
Do you know how expensive solar was in the 70s? Over $70 a watt. Compared to less than $1 a watt today. You complain about how difficult it would be to get renewable investments to the level of $1 trillion per year. With Solar over 70x as expensive in the 70s, how much would it have cost then?

Solar PV Profit's Last Stand

MonteQuest wrote: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.
Annual energy output of renewables have already passed annual energy input. Note that is not even counting total energy output over their lifetime, just annual. And they are on their way to repaying their fossil fuel energy debt within the next few years.

The PV industry ran an energy deficit from 2000 to now, consuming 75 percent more energy than it produced just five years ago. The researchers expect this energy debt to be paid off as early as 2015, thanks to declining energy inputs, more durable panels and more efficient conversion of sunlight into electricity.
Global solar photovoltaic industry is likely now a net energy producer

MonteQuest wrote: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
So you agree with the EIA's BAU happy motoring projections? If fossil fuels decline faster than the EIA predicts, their projections would change dramatically.
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Re: Solar and Wind Energy Start to Win on Price vs. Conventi

Unread postby misterno » Mon 24 Nov 2014, 16:17:42

This news should be the most important for the whole year. Can you imagine what would happen if solar and wind actually becomes cheaper than conventional fossil energy source?

Russia OPEC and all middle eastern countries would collapse, China will thrive. All major energy companies would lose so much market value whereas all wind and solar companies's business would boom. Exxon Chevron Conocophilips stocks would tank. Houston will be a desserted city where the population drops to 100K :)

This means middle east would be a dessert no more wars or conflicts. Because they would not have any money to buy guns. Saudi King would lose power and eventually be toppled down. It is like 3rd world war.

I wish these were all true. On paper it seems to be true though.
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Re: Solar and Wind Energy Start to Win on Price vs. Conventi

Unread postby kublikhan » Mon 24 Nov 2014, 16:35:20

Don't forget about energy storage misterno. It is not enough for solar and wind to be cheaper than fossil fuels for your scenario to unfold. Solar/Wind + storage needs to be cheaper. Currently, it is pretty expensive to store energy in batteries for when the sun isn't shining/wind isn't blowing. Or to putter around in your EV car.
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Re: Is solar energy the solution?

Unread postby MonteQuest » Mon 24 Nov 2014, 20:41:20

dashster wrote: What is spinning capacity?


The spinning reserve is the extra generating capacity that is available by increasing the power output of generators that are already connected to the power grid but not loaded.
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Re: Is solar energy the solution?

Unread postby MonteQuest » Mon 24 Nov 2014, 20:54:41

Ulenspiegel wrote:@Monte

You do not need spinning capacity. Batteries are cheaper and better.


The battery technology to replace spinning reserve is just now coming online. In the US, hydro dominates at 95% of storage with batteries at 26% of that remaining 5%, so, for now, you do need spinning reserve.
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Re: Is solar energy the solution?

Unread postby MonteQuest » Mon 24 Nov 2014, 21:01:16

Graeme wrote: Monte, I think DOE Secretary Moniz (a physics professor at MIT) has more credibility than the EIA or you.


Yeah, but none of us has more credibility than the facts of history. Renewables have hardly moved the needle with regard to their share of our energy mix despite massive growth rates over the last decade. They are just starting from such a small base trying to displace 16TW of mostly fossil fuel energy...and that target keeps moving ahead towards 30TW.
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Re: Is solar energy the solution?

Unread postby MonteQuest » Mon 24 Nov 2014, 21:02:49

kublikhan wrote:
MonteQuest wrote:Is solar PV up to the task? Not the whole task, but a significant contribution?
...
We should have done this in the 70’s.
Do you know how expensive solar was in the 70s? Over $70 a watt. Compared to less than $1 a watt today. You complain about how difficult it would be to get renewable investments to the level of $1 trillion per year. With Solar over 70x as expensive in the 70s, how much would it have cost then?


Less than global climate change will cost now.
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Re: Is solar energy the solution?

Unread postby MonteQuest » Mon 24 Nov 2014, 21:08:13

kublikhan wrote: Annual energy output of renewables have already passed annual energy input. Note that is not even counting total energy output over their lifetime, just annual. And they are on their way to repaying their fossil fuel energy debt within the next few years.


The ones already built. I'm talking about the ones that will get built when energy is scarce. They won't be helping, they will be consuming energy.

If fossil fuels decline faster than the EIA predicts, their projections would change dramatically.


Of course. To me, the only way renewables become a large share of our energy mix is through default by fossil fuels.
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Re: Is solar energy the solution?

Unread postby Ulenspiegel » Tue 25 Nov 2014, 07:39:46

MonteQuest wrote:
Ulenspiegel wrote:@Monte

You do not need spinning capacity. Batteries are cheaper and better.


The battery technology to replace spinning reserve is just now coming online. In the US, hydro dominates at 95% of storage with batteries at 26% of that remaining 5%, so, for now, you do need spinning reserve.


The question is how can we replace conventional power plants. One issue was, that 1 GW very flexible reserve (seconds) requires 10 GW must run capacity. These 10 GW can now easily be replaced by 1 GW batteries. It will take time but there is no need for rotating mass in the same scale as in the past. Change is possible.
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Re: Solar and Wind Energy Start to Win on Price vs. Conventi

Unread postby Zanstel » Tue 25 Nov 2014, 11:01:20

pstarr wrote:4 kilowatts x 5 hours (peak average insolation) = 20 kilowatt hours. The leaf uses 80 kW for its 110 hp motor. So those panels would only drive a Leaf for 15 minutes? Am I mistaken? How about the rest of the house? Like the air conditioner, hair dryer, kitchen range, the TV/tivo, and the hot tub, george forman, hobby tools, not to mention all computers and cell phones? :lol:

No. 110 hp on electric motors is 82kw, but 82kw in peak power. That means "drive" with the accel pedal pressed always :mrgreen: .
That is not the normal drive way. So normally you don't compare with the peak power of the car, but storage. 24kwh for a leaf.
Of course, you can have greater storage, like Tesla. For example, 80kwh.
With 80kwh you can drive for 400 km or better.

20 kwh per 100km is a good aproximation.
That is not the normal range for a person, because is a lot of time driving. 20kwh per dey (100km per dey) is probably more consumption that all the house combined, so is not rare that a selfsufficient house need double or more the PV installation if journeys so large are common.

These is the reason that gasoline and other oil derivates are used on big scale. Of course, if you want to reduce your consumption, the first and simpler way to do it is "to live near you work".
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