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Comment: Re:Can other students sue this group? (Score 1) 198

by Firethorn (#48432405) Attached to: Harvard Students Move Fossil Fuel Stock Fight To Court

If you want to influence the direction of a company, you would want to own as much of its stock as possible, not get rid of it. If you are extremely wealthy, you can just buy all of the company's shares and have total control over its direction.

Bingo. A 'responsible' party owning 10% of Exxon could be the difference between Exxon having executives who are mustache-twirling villains and having a responsible board that has the company investing heavily into renewable technology to position itself for the inevitable decline of oil.

Comment: Re:Sell everything (Score 1) 198

by Firethorn (#48432399) Attached to: Harvard Students Move Fossil Fuel Stock Fight To Court

Oil isn't just used for fuel, it's a lubricant.

If we're not using it as a fuel, there's plenty of organic sources that can rather easily provide for our lubrication needs. Thermal depolymerization, for example, generates what's effectively an extremely pure light sweet crude. The processes used to make synthetic oils don't need to use fossil oil as a feedstock.

It's a bit like worrying about people getting enough drinking water when they're living in a city in the desert and thus dying of thirst. It's not the people we have to worry about so much - drinking is near the bottom of the list for municipal water. You use more washing hands. Obtaining enough water for people to keep their clothes washed is a much bigger problem in such a case. Drinking water is such a small usage that we could truck it in if we had to.

Comment: Re:So you want people living in caves? YOU GO FIRS (Score 0) 198

by Firethorn (#48432391) Attached to: Harvard Students Move Fossil Fuel Stock Fight To Court

You want people swear off coal and oil right now when it makes up over 85% of the total power generated in this country? That's basically asking them to go back to living in caves. To having their kids die of preventable diseases. To going hungry if their crops fail or hunting sucks.

We don't have to. Let's say we pass a few reforms. Things like house the homeless($10k annually vs $40k to leave them on the street), reform sentences and prisons(1/2 the prison sentence AND less likely to come back?), and healthcare. The fed.gov already spends 90% of what it would take to provide single-payer UHC if we were paying the median for industrialized nations. The individual states more than pick up the remaining 10%. We currently spend ~$6.7k vs $2.9k. So fixing this ONE problem would enable states to put more money towards other important things without going into debt, help with the federal deficit, AND dump about a grand more into every family's pocket a month.

What does $3k a year, per person, pay for? A hell of a lot of solar panels and other sources of renewable power. We can improve our lives in a lot of other ways.

Comment: Re:But but but (Score 1) 198

by Firethorn (#48432371) Attached to: Harvard Students Move Fossil Fuel Stock Fight To Court

The tuition is ~$40k. Sure, they give scholarships based on need etc, but Harvard charges tuition because they can.

Unless you're the child of a multi-millionaire you're not going to be paying full rate for Harvard. Due to the continuing endowments and such they don't technically have to charge a cent to anybody. Yale as well.

Matter of fact, I think my state college should at least start on the same. Encourage all the graduates to donate their tuition at some point in their lives. Perhaps in their wills. Once you reach about 20 times the annual tuition costs interest in safe investments alone should keep costs controlled.

Comment: Re:My two cents... (Score 1) 493

by Firethorn (#48415697) Attached to: Rooftop Solar Could Reach Price Parity In the US By 2016

Yep, like I said, it's a special case - good mostly for examining to see where we might be in ~15-20 years if solar panels keep getting cheaper.

They still have quite a ways to go to make power cheaper during the day, but I actually think it's a worthy goal. I like the idea of cheaper cleaner power that's distributed enough that, worst case, I'd be able to keep the freezer frozen* even if I have to use flashlights/lanterns at night until they get the power fixed.

*I have a good one, it won't defrost if you keep it closed and give it power for a couple hours a day.

Comment: main house breaker (Score 1) 493

by Firethorn (#48415573) Attached to: Rooftop Solar Could Reach Price Parity In the US By 2016

It may be illegal to be off-grid but there's no law against opening the main house breaker.

They'll still make it illegal because, you know, you could always turn the breaker back on. ;) They'll remove the meter, and you won't care until city officials show up and condemn your house because solar panels or no, without a grid connection you 'can't sustain a quality of life there'. Never mind that the alternative had her sleeping in her car... I'd take my house unheated over trying to sleep in my truck, even in an Alaskan winter.

Comment: Re:My two cents... (Score 1) 493

by Firethorn (#48415483) Attached to: Rooftop Solar Could Reach Price Parity In the US By 2016

When you are on an island with no coal, oil or gas and consumption is so low that you have to use small and inefficeint generators then it doesn't take much of a price drop for solar to be cheaper.

Hawaii does have a coal plant, but they have to ship the coal in, and they are big enough for the generators to be efficient, even though it doesn't leave much slack.

and probably would have imported some geothermal technology from NZ, Iceland or wherever a couple of decades ago.

If it was cheaper I would have expected them to do it just to improve their bottom line. Seems that they have one in Puna. Of course, it also mentions that the largest/most populated island, Oahu, isn't a good candidate for geothermal power. To the point that they're considering stringing a power cable undersea to connect the islands in order to transfer power between them, exploiting Big Island's geothermal plant for Oahu's benefit.

As for Alaska, hell no, save the oil for heating and selling down south. We have coal up here as well, we're currently in the process of trying to restart a coal power plant - it's even a 'clean coal' one that was built with the assistance of federal subsidies for the purpose of research.

Finally, I swear I've had a conversation similar to this before about Hawaii - Sure it's a special case, but that makes it a good candidate to look at for the potential problems the mainland could face if solar installs explode. IE look at where Hawaii is now to see where the southern US could be in 15-20 years.

Comment: Battery bank (Score 1) 493

by Firethorn (#48415425) Attached to: Rooftop Solar Could Reach Price Parity In the US By 2016

I take it you're talking about a full size fridge, not a cube?

It's not the size of your home that's the kicker, it's the maximum draw you need to size for. I'm not going to call your contractor incompetent, but he was probably sizing the battery bank for you to be able to run your whole service off of it. If you're willing to deal with something like no AC during a power outage, the battery system can be a lot smaller. Did he quote wattage and kwh, or even run time for that bank of batteries? Was it supposed to provide power overnight?

A quick google search showing a 2Kw battery bank, 4 batteries. It'll run your fridge(or a sump pump) and some lights, beyond that it'd need the pictured generator pretty quickly. Pictured here is a battery bank for an off-grid house.

Comment: Re:Who pays for the infrastructure costs? (Score 1) 493

by Firethorn (#48415385) Attached to: Rooftop Solar Could Reach Price Parity In the US By 2016

What is the appropriate "level of penetration" for this tech compared to total generation? Half a percent? A whole percent

Personally, I'd go with 20%. We use about 50% more power during the day than we do at night. So if we say night uses 2 units of power, we use 3 during the day, for a total of 5. 1/5th=20%.

Anything over 20% of power from solar means we start getting close to cutting into power production by base load power plants. Much above that and you'd see night power costing more than daytime. If we get much above 30% we'd need some massive storage banks to actually use the power efficiently.

Comment: Re:My two cents... (Score 2) 493

by Firethorn (#48414821) Attached to: Rooftop Solar Could Reach Price Parity In the US By 2016

Besides, on average, solar power users produce power during the day, when demand is high and the cost of production is relatively high (because peaker plants are expensive).

That's currently true, but look at Hawaii - they're quickly reaching the point where they'll need their peakers more at night than during the day. They're quickly reaching the point where some of their distribution circuits will occasionally go negative during the day.

Net metering only works when you are indeed on average selling expensive electricity for the same rate you're buying cheap electricity. If more than 20% or so homes and businesses install solar panels the equation flips - now nighttime power is more expensive than daytime.

Comment: Solar power terminology (Score 5, Informative) 493

by Firethorn (#48414805) Attached to: Rooftop Solar Could Reach Price Parity In the US By 2016

Charging a battery off of AC? Surely you mean RECTIFIER.

Nope, he said inverter, he was talking about a intelligent hybrid inverter like this Outback one.

The trick is that while it's called in inverter, that's only one of the things it does. Not only can it feed solar power to the grid, it can operate your home off of batteries, and if that isn't enough it can signal a generator to turn on(and off) as needs and power supply(solar AND grid) varies.

Hackers of the world, unite!

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