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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Solar wins



The Guardian” article about solar is a good one. It's confirms what I've been saying for some time now.

Solar electric is big in Australia. Sure, we think of it as a sunny place, but it's also a place with cheap abundant coal. In short it boils down to the cost of transmission. Coal has to be used in centralized power plants and transmitted long distances over power lines. It's reached the point where it can't compete against power produced by solar on-site where it's to be used. Even if the coal was free, it can't compete.

I've been saying for years how most of the power generated in far away plants is lost in transition. It only made sense when there were few other options. We have options now for locally produced power. It's here now. No scientific breakthroughs are needed. Manufacturing of solar panels has reached the financial tipping point and there's plenty of improvements in the pipeline.

Coal is dying. If you are in a coal producing area, take note. You don't have to like it. Blaming Obama won't help. Economic forces are killing the demand for coal. If you can't imagine life without the big coal plants, it's time to stretch your imagination and figure out what to do.

There will be some demand for coal, but not for energy. It still has some value as a chemical feed stock. The chemical market is growing, but I'm betting it will not replace the fuel market.

The article points out that solar is now getting competitive for powering large cities. That's a huge change even I wasn't expecting this soon.

-Sixbears

16 comments:

  1. I'm sitting here with a major storm having its wicked way around me, in front of my gorgeous cosy fire fueled by coal.
    Sure I use wood too What a bad 'Greenie' I am.
    But it's the middle of winter.
    And I'm warm...

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    1. You didn't invent the world. You have to do what you can. When I bought my first house there was a coal stove and 700 pounds of coal in the basement. I used it all -then sold the stove. Of course, I do live in the woods and trees are plentiful.

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  2. Another solar contribution in Australia are at the cattle stations (ranches). Austrailia has some areas with very sparse rainfall, and because of this, large areas are required to graze herds of cattle. Because they need water, this requires widely dispersed cattle water troughs. Servicing windmills in an environment like that would be very time consuming.

    So rather than erecting the windmill, they instead use solar powered water pumps to pump water to the trough. When done, they move the pump to the next trough, one or two pumps doing the work of many.

    Solar (especially in the sunny Southwest) is a no brainer. As long as the sun is trying to cook us, we may as well get some benefits from it too.

    Thanks Sixbears.

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    1. You are welcome. Why every house in the south doesn't have solar is beyond me. Maybe soon they will.

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  3. Even in here in the country you see more and more older homes with solar panels on them - and some barns, too.

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    1. Barns, what a great place to mount panels!

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  4. I've ALWAYS been for competition to determine the outcome, however, I WILL blame Obama for sutting down coal plants still needed (one in my area), just to further his own agenda.

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    1. Coal plants have poisoned my lakes and rivers so I won't miss them. It would be nice to able to eat mercury free fish one day.

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  5. Love your post.Germany is example.People in China has no choice Communist wont let it happen.Gorges eyes must be cloudy of coal dust. Coal causes cancer.MD Anderson Loves coal heeps its hospital full.Sinse smokers are down in numbers.

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    1. Germany sometimes gets half its power from solar. If it works in dark gray Germany, it'll work most places.

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  6. Government regulations and extraction/transmission costs may have made solar electric more affordable for places in the outback or some such but solar energy still overall requires more energy input to create than it delivers. Socialistic or communist green ideology coupled with government power to tax and fine has only created an artificial bubble in alternate energy technology. What helps a few wealthy end users isn't gonna do jack when society starts running out of cheap energy.

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    1. That may have been true at one time, but not now. Did you read the article?

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    2. Sure I read it and despite the cheerleading of the author the article says absolutely nothing about the energy input into producing the panels, materials, installation nor year long maintenance and especially overall degradation of the equipment.

      But the most important aspect that has yet to have even a hint of a solution is storage. There is simply no way to store solar energy to make it useful and economical over long term. It can win in the right circumstances in specific climates only.

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  7. Hi Y'all,
    Yeh, we have a heap of sun here in the land of Oz. And yes, after several years of rebates and substantial cost reduction for installing panels, we are finally seeing widespread take up of solar. However, our current government is in the pockets of the coal lobby (along with the miners, banks and other big international industry). They are doing their best to wind back any incentives to go off grid. They are also ripping the guts out of our main research body, CSIRO, and doing their darnedest to take us backwards in oh so many ways, both economical and societal.
    Methinks PP is quoting some of the mistruths coming from aforementioned lobbyists. There are plenty of cost effective ways to store energy and balance load demands on the grid. There is also a quietly growing movement here to work on micro-grid, rather than the large scale distribution that we have now.
    Either way, Mrs Dweeze and I are remote and totally off grid. Apart from the joy of independence, it was cheaper than hooking up to the grid (which is flaky here anyway). Win for us...

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  8. Believe what ya must but there is simply no long term storage for Solar energy that is cost effective. The end result of any off grid system is more costly electricity over the life of the system. Doesn't mean it isn't a worth while endeavor nor depending on location the best option even financially on the small scale . However attempting to adapt it in mass into an economy as we have today would cause a financial collapse or more to the point cause the one already under way to speed up.

    For those who can absorb the costs more power to them (pun intended) but we are well past the point of no return numerically speaking for Solar to ever blunt the edge that's coming. Further more once that edge begins to cut you will see the end of Solar anyway. The very construction of Solar equipment is as dependent on cheap fossil fuels as the rest of the world.

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