1. Subscribersonhouse
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    20 Jun '14 14:10
    Half their energy came from solar! Of course at night that will go down but the rest of the world is lagging far behind Germany on this:

    http://phys.org/news/2014-06-germany-day-energy-percent-solar.html
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    20 Jun '14 15:051 edit
    This points to the future no matter how much the politicians drag their heals kicking and screaming.
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    20 Jun '14 15:33
    This is undoubtedly impressive. [Although I will be much more impressed by someone
    hitting the 50% AVERAGE power generation mark]

    But I'm not sure [for Germany] that it's cost effective.
    Their solar program is hugely expensive, now they might [hopefully] recoup
    costs selling technological improvements to other nations, but I'm not convinced
    that Solar Electric is the best allocation of resources for Germany and other northern
    countries with limited sunshine hours.

    I find it faintly ridiculous that a northern European country on a similar latitude as
    Quebec is leading the world in solar power.

    There are far better locations for solar energy plants, where they would be much more
    cost effective.

    The USA has plenty of hot sunny deserts it could be building solar power plants in which
    would be more economic. Part of good resource allocation is taking advantage of the
    resources naturally available to you.

    If you're in Nevada, that's sunlight... Germany... not so much.
  4. Subscribersonhouse
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    20 Jun '14 16:091 edit
    Originally posted by googlefudge
    This is undoubtedly impressive. [Although I will be much more impressed by someone
    hitting the 50% AVERAGE power generation mark]

    But I'm not sure [for Germany] that it's cost effective.
    Their solar program is hugely expensive, now they might [hopefully] recoup
    costs selling technological improvements to other nations, but I'm not convinced
    tha ...[text shortened]... s naturally available to you.

    If you're in Nevada, that's sunlight... Germany... not so much.
    That would work fine, harvesting energy in the deserts for local use but a cost analysis was done on the total picture and they found they would have to add a lot of high voltage lines because the main lines bypass the desert and go around from the north so the desert has only enough for its own use.

    The cost for that project is said to be on the order of a trillion dollars to get whatever energy is harvested in the desert to the cities on the perifery like Chicago, LA, Miami, NYC, Portland, and so forth.
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    20 Jun '14 16:49
    Originally posted by sonhouse
    That would work fine, harvesting energy in the deserts for local use but a cost analysis was done on the total picture and they found they would have to add a lot of high voltage lines because the main lines bypass the desert and go around from the north so the desert has only enough for its own use.

    The cost for that project is said to be on the order o ...[text shortened]... n the desert to the cities on the perifery like Chicago, LA, Miami, NYC, Portland, and so forth.
    That may very well be true... But it should be noted that due to certain
    political considerations it costs about 5~10 times as much to do a major
    infrastructure job in the USA than other first world nations [like say Japan].

    Which is one of the reasons the infrastructure in the USA is so dilapidated.


    Other alternatives are that you store the energy generated chemically and
    transport it by rail/truck/pipes.

    But that does have it's own inefficiencies of course.
  6. Cape Town
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    20 Jun '14 17:48
    Originally posted by googlefudge
    Their solar program is hugely expensive, .
    Expensive in what way? I think the main thing they did, was promise to buy power from producers at a fixed rate - but I don't think it was significantly higher than other sources. And that was before the price of solar dropped dramatically. Now days, solar is competitive with other sources and here in Cape Town, all we need is the local authority to agree to buy back power at the same rate they sell it at - or even a bit below. The problem is, that the local authorities make money selling electricity and are not willing to change the system to where the primary producers are private individuals.
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    20 Jun '14 19:032 edits
    Originally posted by googlefudge
    This is undoubtedly impressive. [Although I will be much more impressed by someone
    hitting the 50% AVERAGE power generation mark]

    But I'm not sure [for Germany] that it's cost effective.
    Their solar program is hugely expensive, now they might [hopefully] recoup
    costs selling technological improvements to other nations, but I'm not convinced
    tha ...[text shortened]... s naturally available to you.

    If you're in Nevada, that's sunlight... Germany... not so much.
    But I'm not sure [for Germany] that it's cost effective.

    I think it is probably cost effective because each solar panel should pay for themselves within a few years.
    I tried to get specific statistics on this to confirm this but couldn't get any specific to Germany but solar panels typically more than fully pay for themselves before their operational lifetime is up and need to be replaced thus, usually, within a few years, they are cost effective. As for their high production cost, I guess that doesn't matter in the long run if you more than get your money back, right?
  8. Cape Town
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    20 Jun '14 19:10
    Originally posted by humy
    I think it is probably cost effective because each solar panel would pay for themselves within a few years.
    I tried to get specific statistics on this to confirm this but couldn't get any specific to Germany but solar panels typically more than fully pay for themselves before their operational lifetime is up and need to be replaced thus, usually, within a few years, they are cost effective.
    They key is using the grid for storage. If you are off grid, you need to have batteries to store the power, which can be a major cost. If however you can sell your power to the grid when the sun is shining, then buy it back when the sun is not, then the costs drop significantly. Enabling this is what Germany did.

    Another major factor is that solar requires a fairly large upfront cost, with savings years later. One way to resolve this is to provide loans for the solar equipment, or to encourage companies that install and rent out the solar panels so that the consumer experiences the savings immediately. This is what happened in Germany. Solar businesses essentially rent roof space from other people.
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    20 Jun '14 19:131 edit
    Originally posted by humy
    But I'm not sure [for Germany] that it's cost effective.

    I think it is probably cost effective because each solar panel would pay for themselves within a few years.
    I tried to get specific statistics on this to confirm this but couldn't get any specific to Germany but solar panels typically more than fully pay for themselves before their ...[text shortened]... fetime is up and need to be replaced thus, usually, within a few years, they are cost effective.
    Repaying for themselves doesn't necessarily imply cost effective.

    If [as an example] a 1 MW solar plant pays for itself in 20 years,

    and a 1 MW Wind turbine pays for itself in 10 years,

    Then the Wind Plant is more cost effective than the solar plant despite
    the fact that both made their money back.


    Solar efficiency increases the more and stronger sunlight you receive.

    The fact that Germany can use solar power any way effectively demonstrates
    the practicality for places which get much much more sunlight [like many places
    in the USA for example].

    But it doesn't mean that it was a cost effective solution for Germany if Germany
    has other more economic energy sources it could tap.

    The UK does a lot of wind power generation [with lots more to come] because
    wind is much more cost effective for us than solar power is. Because wind is
    much more abundant than sunlight.

    That's not to say that we don't [or shouldn't] generate any solar power, I think
    most new build housing/factories should have solar power/thermal generation
    capacity.

    But it makes much more economic sense for us to build wind turbines than solar
    panels for the bulk of our renewable energy generation.

    EDIT:
    As for their high production cost, I guess that doesn't matter in the long run if you more than get your money back, right?


    It does matter because solar panels don't last for ever, so the manufacturing cost needs to be factored
    in to the running cost because every 20~30 years [or whatever the ave lifespan is] you have to replace
    the panels.

    Also, if you have big upfront costs you [usually] need to take out a loan to finance the construction.
    That loan will accrue interest, and the longer it takes to pay it off the more expensive the loan is
    and thus the greater the price of the electricity.
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    20 Jun '14 19:282 edits
    Originally posted by googlefudge
    Repaying for themselves doesn't necessarily imply cost effective.

    If [as an example] a 1 MW solar plant pays for itself in 20 years,

    and a 1 MW Wind turbine pays for itself in 10 years,

    Then the Wind Plant is more cost effective than the solar plant despite
    the fact that both made their money back.


    Solar efficiency increases the more an ...[text shortened]... o pay it off the more expensive the loan is
    and thus the greater the price of the electricity.
    It does matter because solar panels don't last for ever, so the manufacturing cost needs to be factored
    in to the running cost because every 20~30 years [or whatever the ave lifespan is] you have to replace
    the panels.

    that is why I said “if you more than get your money back, “ i.e. the operative word here is IF. In the long run, it matters if you don't get your money back but doesn't matters if you DO get your money back -THAT is what I just said (it is an entirely different matter in the short run )
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    20 Jun '14 19:341 edit
    Originally posted by humy
    It does matter because solar panels don't last for ever, so the manufacturing cost needs to be factored
    in to the running cost because every 20~30 years [or whatever the ave lifespan is] you have to replace
    the panels.

    that is why I said “[b]if
    you more than get your money back, “ i.e. the operative word here is IF. In the long ru ...[text shortened]... your money back -THAT is what I just said. It is an entirely different matter in the short run.[/b]
    Yes, but we are not just concerned with getting our money back.

    We are concerned with how fast we get our money back as compared with competing
    systems
    .

    Energy costs are like a regressive tax, everyone needs energy, and the relative cost
    is greatest on the poor. It also acts as a break on the entire economy.
    The price of energy effects the price of almost everything else.

    So we want energy to be as cheap as possible. [while also being green, safe, secure, ect]

    So its not enough that a system can make it's money back, it can always* make it's
    money back by putting up prices. Cost effectiveness is about how much does it cost
    as compared to the alternatives.

    *Assuming that you are not so overpriced that people stop being able to afford it at all.
  12. Cape Town
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    20 Jun '14 21:351 edit
    Originally posted by googlefudge
    We are concerned with how fast we get our money back as compared with competing
    systems
    Actually 'getting our money back' is a measure of how it compares with competing systems.
    If you are government or a company running the generation, then you get your money back by selling the power at the prevailing rate (which will be set based on what competing systems there are).
    If you are an individual, you get your money back by either saving on your electricity bill, or selling the power to the power company. Again, it is dependant on the prevailing electricity prices.
    Solar may also have 'savings' when the location is initially off grid, as you do not have to pay for connection to the grid (which might be very costly if long distances are involved).

    At present, its not a question of wind competing with solar, its a question of both of them competing with fossil fuels.
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    20 Jun '14 22:20
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    Actually 'getting our money back' [b]is a measure of how it compares with competing systems.
    If you are government or a company running the generation, then you get your money back by selling the power at the prevailing rate (which will be set based on what competing systems there are).
    If you are an individual, you get your money back by either sa ...[text shortened]... estion of wind competing with solar, its a question of both of them competing with fossil fuels.[/b]
    Head/desk moment.

    We only have a limited budget and resources.

    We want to get as much for that budget and those resources as possible.

    Therefore we must weigh possible solutions of problems against each other
    to see which gives us the BEST return for our investment [of time, money,
    and resources].


    If you have two possible solutions, and one costs 1 billion, and the other 2 billion,
    with otherwise similar results, then the 1 billion option is better.

    Because if you go for the 1 billion option then you have used 1 billion less resources
    [that could potentially be used for something else] to achieve the same result.


    My point, is that I am not convinced that it is the most economic, the most efficient,
    solution for countries as far north as the UK and Germany to go all out for solar power.

    That's not to say it isn't possible, or that it couldn't work, but that other solutions are
    better in terms of achieving the goal of sustainable energy generation for lower cost than
    the choice Germany has made/is making.


    I don't get how this is such a hard point to make.
  14. Cape Town
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    21 Jun '14 07:28
    Originally posted by googlefudge
    Head/desk moment.
    I don't get how this is such a hard point to make.
    I don't disagree on those points. But I don't think you understand that it is not necessarily a choice needing to be made by 'the UK', nor was it a choice made by Germany.
    All you do is make both wind and solar viable, then leave it up to 'the market' to figure out which is more cost effective - and this will change over time.
    Admittedly the two power sources are quite different in that wind requires a company to manage it, whereas solar can be done by individuals.

    And I must re-iterate that the key right now is that they are competing with fossil fuels - largely because fossil fuels are heavily subsidized. Remove the subsidies from fossil fuels and put them on green energy in general and let the market decide which green energy to go for.
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    21 Jun '14 07:311 edit
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    Actually 'getting our money back' [b]is a measure of how it compares with competing systems.
    If you are government or a company running the generation, then you get your money back by selling the power at the prevailing rate (which will be set based on what competing systems there are).
    If you are an individual, you get your money back by either sa ...[text shortened]... estion of wind competing with solar, its a question of both of them competing with fossil fuels.[/b]
    Actually 'getting our money back' is a measure of how it compares with competing systems.

    exactly the point I was just about to make! And, in particular, how much more money you get out compared to the money you had put in.
    How long it takes and how long you are prepared to wait until you get your money back is a different matter.
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