Brad Wardell's views about technology, politics, religion, world affairs, and all sorts of politically incorrect topics.

So I have a 20KW solar array. Love it.  But it has one big problem for me that is surprisingly hard/expensive to solve: If the grid power goes off, so does the solar array.

That’s because the solar array feeds into the grid with me taking what I need first.  But if the grid isn’t up, the solar array has to shut down because it is no longer connected to the “circuit”.  Besides that, you wouldn’t want to run your house where the power could go on and off randomly based on clouds moving in the sky.

The solution is to have a battery sink for the solar array. The solar panels feed the batteries and if the power goes off, the house uses the batteries until they run out with the solar array feeding the batteries as best they can.  However, it turns out that those batteries can be expensive. Very. Very expensive. As in tens of thousands of dollars expensive.

My house has a backup generator already in the event that power goes out. But in a true Zombie apocalypse scenario, my solar array would be worthless.


Comments (Page 2)
on Mar 06, 2013

Kamamura_CZ
Not likely. Hydro-fracking wells have steep falls in production, and huge ecologic costs
http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2013/02/u_s_shale_oil_are_we_headed_to_a_new_era_of_oil_abundance.html
It is mainly a new investor bubble, as were algae biofuels, corn biofuels, etc. No silver bullets for the mess we are in.

That's America, not Australia....

on Mar 06, 2013

20 trillion dollars of recoverable shale oil in Australia will likely change the world's 'dynamics' re Oil and its exploitation as a global 'power' of influence.

It's in a part of the planet where fracking may even be 'tolerated'....

Alright! Now we get to invade Australia! Always knew they were connected to alquadia.

on Mar 07, 2013

Blackmantle_

 Synopsis: We are mostly happy here with our "wrong" choice. Not all of us sure. As I said raging battle with no clear outcome.

Germany's Offshore Fiasco: North Sea Wind Offensive Plagued by Problems 

http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/german-offshore-wind-offensive-plagued-by-problems-a-852728.html

German renewable surcharge to rise by 47 percent 

http://uk.reuters.com/article/2012/10/10/us-germany-energy-renewables-idUKBRE8990PC20121010

Sunny Business: Germans Cough Up for Solar Subsidies 

http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/german-solar-subsidies-to-remain-high-with-consumers-paying-the-price-a-842595.html

„Energiewende könnte bis zu einer Billion Euro kosten“

http://www.faz.net/aktuell/wirtschaft/wirtschaftspolitik/energiepolitik/umweltminister-altmaier-energiewende-koennte-bis-zu-einer-billion-euro-kosten-12086525.html

and last but not least Danmark: 

A Problem With Wind Power

In 1998, Norway commissioned a study of wind power in Denmark and concluded that it has "serious environmental effects, insufficient production, and high production costs."

http://www.aweo.org/problemwithwind.html

Yep, sounds like a real good deal to me. And France talks the talk because it has to (EU directive) but for sure isn't going to walk the walk being completely broke and doesn't need to since it relies on 98% clean energy production. 

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on Mar 07, 2013

petrossa

And France talks the talk because it has to (EU directive) but for sure isn't going to walk the walk being completely broke and doesn't need to since it relies on 98% clean energy production. 

By "clean energy" you mean nuclear fission? Riiigggght...

on Mar 07, 2013

Nuclear fission is actually extremely clean with proper recycling of the waste products.  You can feed an insane percentage of the wastes back into the reactor after they're recycled.

on Mar 08, 2013

petrossa


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Some lame script thingie that comes with the page

on Mar 08, 2013

 

jackswift85


Quoting petrossa, reply 18
And France talks the talk because it has to (EU directive) but for sure isn't going to walk the walk being completely broke and doesn't need to since it relies on 98% clean energy production. 

By "clean energy" you mean nuclear fission? Riiigggght...

As Spardason21 says, about 98% of the energy content is used. Per kw/h generated fission is to date the safest,cleanest,least expensive,most reliable form of energy production in existence.

France is 80% fission, the rest hydro and other forms of clean energy. 1.something percent is for gasfired backupgenerators.

 

 

 

 

on Mar 09, 2013

SpardaSon21

Nuclear fission is actually extremely clean with proper recycling of the waste products.

Therein lies the fun part. Up here in my neck of the woods we've recently had 6 nuclear waste storage tanks leaking into the ground. The government's answer is to ship it to an even more remote location in New Mexico.

I'm all for nuclear energy. I agree that it's one of the best options for power generation in the near future and is probably our best bet to kick the crude oil habit. I know that it has a lot of advantages to it (like being cheap, relatively safe and reliable). 

I view nuclear power like airline travel. Airlines are statistically the safest way to travel, but when something goes wrong on an airplane, something usually goes really wrong. We still travel on airlines for the convenience, safety and reliability, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't care about airline safety procedures.

You can say nuclear power is "clean", and while going off of just emissions is it technically true, I'm not sure you or I would want one in my backyard, especially after Fukushima.

on Mar 09, 2013

jackswift85


Quoting SpardaSon21, reply 20
 
You can say nuclear power is "clean", and while going off of just emissions is it technically true, I'm not sure you or I would want one in my backyard, especially after Fukushima.

To put your mind at rest here is the WHO fukyousima report: https://dl.dropbox.com/u/1828618/fukyousimaWHO.pdf Nobody died yet, nor is likely to.

As for leakage, yep that's bad. Not as bad as most people think, since it all depends on the nature of the stuff and when it's stored just like that it's not that toxic. What most people fail to realize you get a way higher dose of radiation in your won home if you live in a modern well insulated ecological house then the average nuclear worker.

And... even then the 'safe' level of radiation per day is really really really ridiculously safe. Way beyond safe, it's absurd.

 

 

 

 

 

 

on Mar 11, 2013

Well, if your Gouvernment is broke (I assume you mean french national budget) its likely they will also walk the walk.
Since feed-in tarifs are consumtion based not state finance based (I assume the french feed-in tarif moddel works like ours, if your government pursues the spanish model of state financed feed in tarifs your guess that it can't work is understandable. But that is unlikely for the very reason of your state finances) meaning frenchs national budget and regional budgets whould majorly profit as do ours (usually here regions going all or majorly renewable massively profit from it, hence the places where renewables are actually built fastly up their targets substantially).
While the cost of electricity for individual households is likely to rise steeply by expanding the installed renawble capacity (since its relatively low in france. On average at a bit over 10 Eurocents per KW/h)
Here overall consumer electricity prices are set to fall mid-term not rise since they are so high (on average at about 26 Eurocent per KW/h with quite a lot of individual variation and steeply rising each year) due to our oligopolist structures on selling electricity (meaning no private consumer ever sees the rather low production costs for fossil.), the (profit) premium slapped by our 3 remaining old-thinking utilities for conventional energy is very high here (one reason why customers desert them in droves).
The allready paid state-budget-based (or alternatively alleviation of taxation and subsidies) for nuclear might very well be the reason why your national budget is broke.


A trillion (1 000 000 000 000 for my fellow countrymen and those of other countries which might mix up the words since our "eine Billionen" is translated into english "one trillion") € might sound alot but that is a pirme example how scaremongering is done.

Since the trillion (which isn't paid up-front, but with each actually delivered KW/h when its actually delivered by the private electricity end consumer) is actually very cheap (in fact so cheap I think its somewhat unlikely by todays predictions in price decline for renewable generators which might as usual/ever be to conservative by quite a bit so comming around being a possibility.)

Here is why: The trillion for completely switching to 100 % renewables (including most of the research, infrastructure, flexibility options as well as profits for the operators) is for getting 20 Years of all (or nearly all) of our electricity from renewables which means: that the trillion is divided by 600 TW/h (600 000 000 000 KW/h) germany as a whole (very roughly) consumes annually divided again by the time (20 years) it is paid for.
(Or to put it to be clearly and easily understood the way it is paid:
1 000 000 000 000 € divided by 600 000 000 000 KW/h divided by 20 years of this ammount delivered annually equals a whopping 0,083(period 3) € per KW/h so a tad above 8 cent per KW/h and thus even below the price the average private consumer in france pays, according to your statements with large variation since you just pay about 5 Eurocent)
Aferterward the renewable plants (especially solar panales which unlike what you have assumed in your initial post in the thread don't by and large technically break on average after 20 years, its just the time the feed-in tariffs are guaranteed if electricity is delivered during that timeframe) will have been paid for but still be running not much unlike the old conventional plats which run way longer than initially intended (since written off plants are a huge moneymaker for their operators). With two important differences: those plants don't consume fuel (minus biomass which is getting more and more marginal here for just this reason and others) and if something happens to the plant the investor carries the risk not wider society (since no more money flows if no more electricity flows that is also true during the 20 Years not just after and the overall risks are marginal).

That's especially cheap compared to the 600 billion (600 000 000 000) € which nuclear has cost us in Germany initially, is costing us currently and will cost us in the future taken together (and that is shouldered indeed by the taxpayer + a big chunk of it was shouldered up-front unlike with renewables where the electricity end-consumer foots the bill.) for the measly 25% of our electricity nuclear provided to our mix before a good number of the plants where switched off in the aftermath of fokusima. A loss of a key former conservative federal state to the greens cemented the societal concensus to exit nuclear at 2022 at the very latest, likely much earlier (after our current renewable hating and formerly nuclear loving government both spectacularly failed to push through an exit from our prior nuclear exit strategy in 2010/ early2011 and then 1 year later and more spectacularly failed to push through an exit from solar expansion in spite of them badly wanting to. Parliaments and especially people didn't let them. The very people who foot the bill for renewable btw. Talk about clear sign of intent to pay the bill if there ever was one...).
But Mr. Altmeier is quite apt at putting up perfectly low sums as something scary by summing something up which isn't paid in one (if the same thing was done for fossil-nuclear here the sum whould be about 3 times higher for the same timeframe. With a much larger chunk being the profit margins of the operators.).

No politically non-suicidal politician in Germany publicly declares his / her support for nuclear anymore. So its not even worth discussing much here from a german perspective (and whould also be vastly off-toppic in a thread about grid-connected solar plants). The next and possibly final battle will be about / against coal and especially lignite here (since anthrazithe coal is no longer feasible, not as bad for operators as gas but still to bad to do without usage / monetisation of excess heat).

The major faliure of offshore wind in its curent form is elating since its an incompetent effort by our government and 3 left big utilities to force the old paradigms (tax-based, pre-payment, society foots the bill if something fails) onto renewables which doesn't work by and large to the luck of the electricity end-consumer (and whould have been exessively expensive if widely implemented the way our government and 3 big utilities had planned).
Also offshore windparks as planned (and failed) are centralized (both financially and technically) and take larger (and higher layers of the) grids to transport the power to places of consumption as well as producing power more spread out than onshore wind and relying on that power being consumed / paid for to be financially feasible thus being incompatible with fluctuating renewables (putting that money into onshore whould have been much more sensible but it doesn't work for our 3 big left utilities since the profit margins are much lower for them there. Whould have still been worse than going the regular feed-in-tariff model anyways. Good riddance.).
So from all angles incompatible with the new energy system germany will have in the next 10 to 20 years (depending on how vigorously our governments resist the shift to renewables which any of our governments in the last one and a half decades has done less or like currently more.) which will be based on mainly fluctuating renewable energies (solar PV from small to large as well as onshore wind are the very likely winners of the race for best generators of power)
Putting large ammounts of a technology very early in its development cycle (offshore wind is basically an utterly different technology  and technically where Solar was 10 years ago and Wind about 15 years ago.) is not the best of ideas (yet). Better starting small (which regular feed-in tarrifs allow and foster as seen with wind and solar as well as other technologies) and go up from there when problems have been fixed and prices have lowered considerably.
Another failed try of our 3 big untilities to take over renewables by force and profit from it. Another Nail in their coffin (not a big one mind you, having to switch out their old written off nuclear plants has hurt them so much more.).
Doesn't show that renewables as a whole are a failure though, just shows that our government and 3 big utilities don't get how broad-scale implementation of renewables works.

The reuters article you quoted (while a bit flawed here and there) reported on the core reason for our most recent renewable surcharge rise (with the renewable surcharge itself being a gross misrepresentation of how renewables work whichs implementation has caused much damage especially to operators of the neccessary gas plants. The mechanism was implemented by our current government with futile hope to integrate renewable electricity into a non-existing market not achieving anything set out to do while costing alot and not adding a single KW/h to our grid. Feed-in tarrifs worked much better without it. But one could say that was the main hidden intent.): The disproportionate exemption of our large-scale electricity consuming industry to the hurt of the end-consumer (that part doesn't have to do the slightest with getting more renewable or any kind of electricity into the grid. Exemption from net-usage tarrifs has recently been declared illegal by the EU which is bound to lower the burden consumers have to pay).

Quoting studies from one and a half decades ago (the denmark one) doesn't sound like a solid base for discussion in a world where in energy technologies realities change in a few months time (especially if said study was a base for a policy which the then acting prime minister of Denmark today defines as one of the worst choices of his term in gouvernment. Proof how politically charged studies can yield abysmal results in reality)

Lastly digging up press articles from renewable critical journalists in Germany
(and "Der Spiegel" famos for its "Man bites Dog" journalism in terms of reporting on energy is about as loony as they get summoning up the myths of renewables couldn't contribute any substantial part of our electricity supply, to implying that prices for renewable electricity per KW/h whould go up, raising the spectre of blackouts as well as offering a broad platform for climate change sceptics makes them a proven source of misinformation about renewables and energy as a whole, no matter how important their other rather more serious contributions to our media landscape are on the line between Boulevard and serious journalism)
won't get this thread anywhere (besides being even more off topic than even the discussion about nuclear) since there is abundant material backing all positions there so we could fill another 2 or 3 threads 10 times the size of this one with citing german media opinion about the issue (which is largely irrelevant for the people on all sides struggling for the new system + is obsolete all few months since the battle rages and what looks likely today might look much different tomorrow.)
Unless of course you fully indend to kill this thread and frogboys search for bakup options complementing his solar plant which he outspokenly likes (as stated in his OP) and discussion about it  (Or are you seriously implying he should operate a small nuclear plant in his cellar to cover his grid outages)?

If you like nuclear in your own country so much why not make a thread in this section of the forums all of its own about the (in your opinion) wonders of nuclear power?
Rather leave out references about germany (whichs populations majority was from the very start anti nuclear power about the state japans society is in after fokusima, while being radicalized much more after the latest meltdown) and japan though since we can speak / think and fight out our economic coices by ourselves without generalizing statements which are bound to draw flack (as are nearly all statements about other countries politics.).
I don't go and declare other countries (notably france's) citizens as loons for their economic choices (no matter how much I deslike said choices in case of nuclear for example. Even less in threads which have nothing to do with nuclear) for a reason. Doubt that is even fully covered by the rules of this forum.
We will see which country had the better idea 10-20 years from now. Any prediction is bound to very likely to be anyways (as have all previous ones, to conservative in the case of renewables.)

on Mar 13, 2013

I'll talk about whichever country i like, and Germany is a perfect example of how NOT to do it. Although UK comes close second.

As for 'old' articles, physical laws of nature don't change at all, so it's valid whenever. But here is a recent article to please you:

Germany’s Wind Performance Was Just As Bad As Great Britain’s – Sun And Wind Are Often AWOL http://notrickszone.com/2013/03/04/germanys-wind-performance-was-just-as-bad-as-great-britains-sun-and-wind-are-often-awol/ 

 And facts are just facts, no matter who tells them. And the facts are very clear, variable energy is not a realistic option for any nation. That is why for example Japan just recommenced building a new nuclear reactor instead of a wind/solar whatever system 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/in-japan-two-years-after-fukushima-nuclear-accident-work-resumes-work-on-new-reactor/2013/03/10/d572879c-83d6-11e2-a350-49866afab584_story.html

I guess they have less ecological hysterics to deal with. I rather not wait 20-30 years to find out the nation suffers all the time from blackouts and prices rise through the roof once the subsidies dry up. 

 

on Mar 18, 2013

Reality is a bitch: As prices for carbon emissions continue to languish, Berlin is planning to cancel some key subsidy programs aimed at increasing reliance on renewable energies. Germany and other European countries seem uninterested in fixing the problem. 

That the German government is facing a massive budget shortfall for projects aimed at transforming the country into a model of alternative energy and environmental friendliness is hardly new. The European cap-and-trade system has for months been sliding into inconsequence as prices for CO2 emissions have stubbornly remained below €5 ($6.47) per ton. The revenues Berlin earns on the mandatory emissions certificates have suffered as a result.

In response, SPIEGEL has learned, the Environment Ministry is set to cancel several flagship subsidy programs this month -- programs that were to be key elements of Germany's transition away from fossil fuels and towards complete reliance on renewables.

http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/germany-cancels-trio-of-climate-programs-amid-funding-shortfall-a-889483.html

on Mar 20, 2013

Germany once prided itself on being the “photovoltaic world champion”, doling out generous subsidies—totaling more than $130 billion, according to research from Germany’s Ruhr University—to citizens to invest in solar energy. But now the German government is vowing to cut the subsidies sooner than planned and to phase out support over the next five years. What went wrong?

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/project_syndicate/2012/02/why_germany_is_phasing_out_its_solar_power_subsidies_.html