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Thread: The Remarkable Progress of Renewable Energy

  1. Top | #681
    Administrator lpetrich's Avatar
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    Power shutoffs cause a battery boom in California – pv magazine USA
    In response to the shutdowns and the energy uncertainty they bring for the foreseeable future, Californians are taking measures into their own hands. Citizens across the state are turning to battery storage in order to provide backup power in case of a blackout, with the California Solar and Storage Association (CALSSA) sharing with pv magazine USA that “phones are ringing off the hook for contractors up and down the state.”

    Those who have already installed systems on their roofs are looking to add battery backup, while those who had never even considered solar before are calling to get quotes on the solar + storage systems that they hope will get them through these uncertain times.

    ...
    If there is one thing to celebrate amongst the chaos, it’s that PG&E may have unknowingly prompted the first regional grid mass-exodus in the United States. Will every customer affected install batteries? No. Will even a majority of battery customers go entirely off-grid? Most likely, no. However if a utility can’t safely provide the basic function of a utility, customers are going to look for alternative sources to get the power they need, meaning the dream of a decentralized grid could well be fostered out of necessity in California.
    Batteries can be useful in another way when one is on the grid. One can charge up during low-price times and use the batteries during high-price times.

  2. Top | #682
    Administrator lpetrich's Avatar
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    US wind energy capacity now over 100 gigawatts, says new report
    On a state level, Texas leads the way with more than 27 GW of cumulative capacity, according to the AWEA’s report. Capacity refers to the maximum amount that installations can produce, not what they are currently generating.
    China is Bankrolling Green Energy Projects Around the World | Time
    A solar farm in Argentina. A geothermal project in Kenya. A wind farm off of Scotland.
    Not only is China today the world’s largest producer of solar panels, wind turbines, batteries and electric vehicles, but it has also been the top investor in clean energy for nine out of the last ten years, according to the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management.
    China is the biggest emitter of CO2, but it's good that it's doing as much as it has.
    Beijing’s refocus from fossil fuels to renewable energy is a net positive for a myriad of reasons: protecting scarce resources, cutting carbon emissions that spur global warming, and boosting energy security by reducing reliance on costly fuel imports. While only a hatful of nations boast significant oil and gas reserves, nearly all have the potential to develop clean energy themselves, whether via solar, wind, tidal, geothermal or hydroelectric plants, mitigating geopolitical tensions by making the world less dependent on restive regions like the Middle East.
    However,
    The vast majority of the more than $244 billion that China has spent on energy projects worldwide since 2000 have been on fossil fuels, according to data from the Global Development Policy Center, a policy-oriented research body affiliated with Boston University. Despite Xi telling journalists at April’s second Belt and Road Forum in Beijing that he embraces “open, clean and green development,” China has financed more than 300 foreign coal plants from Egypt to the Philippines.
    So is China doing greenwashing? It'll be a long way to go before China undoes the damage from its fossil-fuel investments.

  3. Top | #683
    Administrator lpetrich's Avatar
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    Wildfires and blackouts? Californians need solar panels and microgrids. - Vox
    Since it first started growing in earnest in the early 20th century, the grid has worked according to the same basic model. Power is generated at large power plants and fed into high-voltage transmission lines, which can carry it over long distances. At various points along the way, power is dumped from the transmission system into local distribution areas (LDAs) via substations, where transformers lower the voltage. Local distribution grids then carry the electricity to customers.

    Distributed energy is different from the conventional model in that its origin lies within an LDA. That’s where it is generated, stored, and managed; no transmission lines are involved.

    ...
    Some distributed energy is located in front of the meter, within the distribution grid itself. Think, for instance, of a community solar park or a small local wind farm. We will return to front-of-the-meter distributed energy later.

    But for now, when most people talk about distributed energy, they are referring to the kind located behind the meter, like solar panels on roofs and batteries in garages.
    Installing one's own solar panels and batteries can make possible "grid defection", leaving the electrical-power grid entirely. Total grid defection is expensive and complicated, but partial grid defection is much more feasible, and it will likely become very common.

    Then, microgrids.
    Technically, a single building, even a single room could be a microgrid, but more often, when people refer to microgrids they are talking about groups of buildings and facilities — a campus, a neighborhood, or even a whole community.

    ...
    With the right equipment and software, a microgrid can coordinate DERs within the group, maximizing local resources while ensuring that enough power is drawn from the larger grid to keep supply and demand matched. (It is possible to have microgrids nested within larger microgrids; a microgrid could even be entirely composed of smaller microgrids, like Russian nesting dolls.)

    While there are freestanding microgrids in developing countries, microgrids are typically embedded in larger distribution grids in the US.
    Solar panels are a natural for microgrids, since they scale down very easily.

  4. Top | #684
    Mazzie Daius fromderinside's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lpetrich View Post
    Solar panels are a natural for microgrids, since they scale down very easily.
    It's been mentioned many times on this thread that solar panels tend to require replacement, which is expensive, often.

    So unless solar roofs last as long as traditional roofs there's going to be resistance to their use as replacements. I don't see any likelihood of a roof lasting 5-10 years replacing a roof lasting 25-50 years.

  5. Top | #685
    Administrator lpetrich's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fromderinside View Post
    It's been mentioned many times on this thread that solar panels tend to require replacement, which is expensive, often.
    How often???

  6. Top | #686
    Veteran Member Sarpedon's Avatar
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    thats new to me. I have heard that solar panels tend to lose efficiency over time, but not needing replacement on that scale. The number appears to be 1% per year.

    If a solar panel pays for itself in 12 years or so, it should still be operating at a high degree of efficiency. Hell, if they don't get damaged, why wouldn't you just leave them for 40 or more years? Sure, they wouldn't be as efficient as new, but they've already paid for themselves, and the extra generation is free money.

  7. Top | #687
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    Getting off grid is easy.

    There are lighting and appliances designed to work off a DC buss. You gain in efficiency by not using an inverted and go with DC off the panels. Washers and driers use DC brushless motors.

    If you want to run video games, multiple computers, and TV all night that is another matter. There are tradeoffs. You may have to plan consumption.

    People do it.

    As to reliability in Loren's context the question is rising demand for energy as population grows. Especial with groing electric cars.

    From a news segment with a developer of wind farms his best estimate is renewable can cover about 80-85% of current demand in the USA. Not including demand growth.

    Without fossil fuels the alternatives are nuclear power or reducing demand, or scheduling consumption. In some areas devices are installed in homes to allow utilities to adjust air conditioning and heating set points based on local demand.

    In the 60s before modern switching power supplies there were brown outs in summer afternoons in the NYC area. You could watch TV screen video shrink as CRT high voltage dropped.

    There is a basic disconnect. increasing demand and supply of energy consuming devices and conviences and a demand for non fossil based energy.

    If you are running multiple computers at home, video games, various wireless devices that need charging, large video and audio systems then you are part of the problem.

  8. Top | #688
    Fair dinkum thinkum bilby's Avatar
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    Domestic power use is an also ran. Sure, you can take your home off grid. But the aluminium in those solar panels, and in your patio door frames, your soda cans, your car, your cookware; and the copper, iron, plastics, wood, bricks, tiles, etc., etc., that are an integral part of your home, contents, and vehicles, all come from industrial plants which use lots of electricity.

    Go solar at home, and you still have a huge carbon footprint from the industrial (and commercial) activities that support your lifestyle.

    Unless you live in a country like France or Sweden, whose 24x7 grid electricity is generated by low carbon sources - such as nuclear power.

    Nobody's planning to take their smelter offline just because it's a night with low winds. Industrial electricity users have to choose fossil or nuclear.

    They can't just tolerate the inconvenience and expense of intermittent renewable electricity. Going off grid is only an option for wealthy citizens of developed nations, who can rely on the existing infrastructure, and their deep pockets, to bridge the gaps; or for poor citizens of undeveloped nations, who have such shitty infrastructure that almost anything is an improvement.

  9. Top | #689
    Mazzie Daius fromderinside's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sarpedon View Post
    thats new to me. I have heard that solar panels tend to lose efficiency over time, but not needing replacement on that scale. The number appears to be 1% per year.

    If a solar panel pays for itself in 12 years or so, it should still be operating at a high degree of efficiency. Hell, if they don't get damaged, why wouldn't you just leave them for 40 or more years? Sure, they wouldn't be as efficient as new, but they've already paid for themselves, and the extra generation is free money.
    Some points. They do get damaged by winds and debris carried by them. Second Depending on where one installs there are changes in efficiency, differences in periodic maintenance, and differences in panel life. I read that panels range in efficiency from 7% amorphous to 41% concentrated si, that life varies from less than 10 years up to about 40 years and that you get what you pay for. So taking a low bid approach one can't expect much. If one has the money it's probably a good investment.

  10. Top | #690
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    All nuclear and fossil plnts require periodic maintenance and have equipment failures. Steam turbines do not run forever. All plants have recurring costs.

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