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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Good News on the Energy Front



Solar electric installations are way up. The United States has surpassed Germany in solar electric output. Only the growth of natural gas power generation has exceeded solar.

That snuck up on me. I've been saying that the price is right for solar. Others have also noticed. The article doesn't say how much of that power is feeding back into the grid and how much is stand alone with battery backup. That's something I'm curious about.

For years my home system has been a sort of hybrid. While I could not feed power back into the grid, I could use it to charge my batteries. This is the year when I've gone completely off-grid, so that's a milestone from me. Prices have come down far enough that adding a bit more solar is a no brainer. I've a few little energy projects to do when I get back home in the spring, but hooking back to the grid isn't going to be one of them. No sense supporting a system I don't believe in.

The most efficient way to use small scale solar is to use it where you make it. Putting power back into the grid keeps the beast alive. The old grid system is horribly inefficient. 2/3 of the power generated is lost in transit. So a power plant burning fossil fuels, using nonrenewable resources, polluting the environment, is not even going to be able to deliver most of the power to customers. Madness.

That being said, even grid tied solar is a step in the right direction. I've seen solar electric installations that were built for he sole purpose of generating income. Month after month, the power company has to cut them a check. If a pile of money fell in my lap, I might do the same thing. Sure beats any return the bank is paying. Besides, the thought of the power company having to pay out money to individuals amuses me.

Solar electric has quietly become a game changer. The best part, it's mostly small scale, the way it should be.

-Sixbears



6 comments:

  1. I haven't plugged into the national grid for more than twenty something years as I'm sure I've mentioned before. I've three good sized solar panels and a 510amphours of battery and I'm a happy man with all the power I need to run a laptop up to eighteen hours a day, a fridge that hasn't stopped running 24 hours a day for a lot of years, lighting, phone charging and all that sort of thing. It's so easy. The price of solar panels has never been cheaper. I can't understand why everybody doesn't do it...

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    1. Someone noticed the solar panel on my boat and said: we should have doing this 20 years ago. I said I was doing this 20 years ago. Surprising it's taken so long for people to catch on. Of course, now the price of entry is as low as it's ever been.

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  2. I'm thinking that I should set up some panels here at Mom's house, especially since the prices are within reason right now!

    Be good to have for the outages during the storms on the coast!

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    1. Even a small system that can charge your phone and run a couple lights makes a world of difference.

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  3. Here we have no choice but to buy an expensive automatic transfer switch and are forced to feed the grid if you install solar/wind power. Discourages us peons from getting too uppity and independent...

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    1. Mount the panels and batteries on a utility trailer and sneak a cord into the house.

      I got off the grid now because i expect something crazy like that soon.

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