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+ - Did the politicians do all the math on solar energy?->

Submitted by gadget junkie
gadget junkie (618542) writes "Funnily enough, Northern European countries have put the most solar panels in place. in this story on the Daily Telegraph, some of the foreseable problems seem to emerge: grid bottleneck, wide differences between peak output and average output. The suggested solution is mindboggling to an economic analyst like me: install them at an angle which would cause them to generate the most energy in the afternoon (namely: face west, and all will be fine). This adds to the cost obviously, since it is less efficient. Why is it practically impossible to get an unbiased economic study on alternative energy?"
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Comment: Re:No real surprise (Score 1) 710

did you also included a calculation on the subsidies for nuclear ? http://laka.org/docu/boeken/pd...

first off, let me thank you for the link. I will most certainly read it in full, but if I may, there's a phrase at page 5 which put my nose slightly out of joint:

[...]When only looking at money transfers and tax reliefs (see Table S.1), it can be concluded that the total amount of subsidy that the EU and its Member States give to renewable energy is substantially lower than the amount of subsidy to fossil fuels, and probably in the same order of magnitude of the subsidies to nuclear alone.

It 's my view that no serious analyst would be caught writing such a phrase in a study summary, and I'll show you why.

Imagine that the total available energy pool at the grid operator is 100 units, of which 85 is fossil, 10 is nuclear and 5 is renewables. in a "neutral" world, subsidies per unit would be equal (or zero, which is a subset case), and subsidies to fossil fuels would dwarf subsidies to renewables 85 to 5. So, knowing that fossil fuels get mmore money does not show or imply any preference or disdain against any particular source, unless some other information is added. in my view therefore calling that page a summary is an insult to the english language, or an ode to gullibility. As Dr. Evil said, " I am the boss, need the info"

Comment: Re:No real surprise (Score 1) 710

I'm not sure what your point is. Of course, it is possible to use analysis to reach the opposite conclusion in particular small holding situations. For example on my terribly oriented (NW-SE) roof in northern climate ~45deg, and relatively cheap coal electricity (~11c/kWh), a smallish (~1 kW), no subsidy solar system will pay back financially (1) is cashflow positive based on my HELOC rate (2) pays off more quickly than the local utility's new gas plant, and (3) utilizing only self consumption, thus requiring no grid support for enhanced payback (net metering)[...]

There, fixed it for you.I was talking about a 1500 MWh plant, functioning about 96% of the yearly available hours. that includes nights and winters, btw. that means that you would need about 8,4 million plants like yours, plus an intermittent generating capacity that big to cover nights, bad weather etc.
calculations look like this:
1.500 MW/h plant;
365 days a year;
24 hours a day;
yearly availability stats, 96%;
kilowatts instead of Megawatts, multiply by 1.000;
there it is, 8.409.600. multiply by two, because the sun sets, winters bite ( I live at 42 north myself ) etc.

Comment: Re:No real surprise (Score 1) 710

Global warming is a money/power grab, the ultimate in "Do as I say, not as I do" diplomacy.

That's no surprise. the surprise is finding people with no skins in the game that actually believe, and finding out that they do not change attitude, consumption habits etc.
In my experience, one of the things I found out is that many of these people, while being mostly able in basic math/science/problem solving, are utterly unprepared in the "analyse" department. they seem unable to gather data, see which is relevant, build a logical thought model and then deciding: the process is inverted, they jump from conclusions to (agreeable) facts, not the other way around.
One day, one of these people was extolling the virtues of Solar energy, while saying that he hated nuclear. I live in a region of Italy, Piedmont, which is weaseling about that, since we get about a fourth of our electricity from French nuclear plants upwind from us, about 250 km away as the crow flies. When I told him and asked if he had already cut a fourth of his electricity needs, his jaw dropped. I then showed him some quick excel calculations about how big an area was needed to replace that with solar, and the attending costs after subsidies, and he went pale. then I added back the subsidies. Ooh, the joy of seeing ignorance squirm!

Comment: Re:What? (Score 1) 753

by gadget junkie (#47449467) Attached to: Predicting a Future Free of Dollar Bills
mind you, I am in exalted company. one of the more interesting factoids about the Euro is that the Bundesbank wanted another denomination printed: the 1.000 Eur Banknote, which belies an attachment to paper money as a store of value alternative to the bank accounts that is remarkable. Germany had the 1.000 Dmark note, issued by the same people who came out of the war on their knees, which tends to instil more paranoia that I can shake a stick at.

Comment: Re:What? (Score 1, Flamebait) 753

by gadget junkie (#47449411) Attached to: Predicting a Future Free of Dollar Bills

...... the fact remains that money is a representation of wealth, and it's the only direct representation which you can own and have custody of irrespective of the banking system.

But modern money does rely on the banking system because it has no intrinsic value. Notes are just that - notes from the bank that they owe you X amount of dollars. Coin used to be worth their actual weight in copper, silver or gold (and was thus international) but those days have long gone. In the UK at least, the "copper" coins are copper-plated steel. Notes and coins only work because people want them to and trust them to, but that could break any time.

not imprecise but incomplete. See, if I leave my money in my country's banking system and or in an electronic form, not only as you just said it is fiat money, BUT, the government can skim how much money they want during a weekend with nobody being the wiser. Here in Italy, it really happened like that years ago, in the process of joining the Euro . It happened in 1992, under the premier Giuliano Amato, and it was enacted retroactively . If I hold US dollars at home, I do not have European fiat money risk, and the currency cannot be "devalued" by MY political masters.

Interestingly enough, when Greece went practically bust, one of the wild stories going around was that banks would freeze account with a view to going back to drachmas. Vigorous capital controls at the frontiers would be enacted, and Euro banknotes would only be exchangeable at the banks. To put some kind of money in circulation, there would have been an interim period in which Euro banknotes would be "stamped" by the banks to recycle them. Seriously, you cannot make up such stupidity alone. my usual question was what happened to a greek citizen who held a bond issued by an American entity denominated in Euros, in the local branch of a German bank. The company issuing the bond HAS to pay Euros, through the central depository. all the rest is a mix of stupidity, fantasy and the ability to discard all the experience accumulated since the Sumer regulated financial transactions in 3.000 BCE.

Comment: Re:What? (Score 1) 753

by gadget junkie (#47446903) Attached to: Predicting a Future Free of Dollar Bills

At the cost of anonymity for those who want to frequent such establishments without so much log file trail. And there are plenty of other use-cases for people wanting their name decoupled from their deeds. Not all of them are exactly bad, either.

that's the bits and pieces. the other is that this would have been any dictator's wet dream but that's a sideshow, really.
over and above fiat money, the fact remains that money is a representation of wealth, and it's the only direct representation which you can own and have custody of irrespective of the banking system. that's the principal issue, but a secondary and even more useful to citizens is that cash is a good tripwire on faith in the political system, for the obvious but not so widespread reason that you can always own currency by another country. so the funnel of doom looks like this:

1. use credit cards;
2. use cash;
3 OWN cash in the house as a precaution;
4. own another country's cash.

the abolition of printed cash drives a wedge between 2 and 3. at the first whiff, run.

Comment: Re:How about (Score 1) 385

How about you stop posting talking points you can't even back up with a single fact?

need facts? the net tax intake from fossil fuels is quite high, here in Italy it's over 80% of the final price. substituting recipients of subsidies only impacts the industrial price, while switching fuel sources in a revenue neutral way means imposing taxes on renewables equals to 80% of their final industrial price.
, Now who's volunteering to tell goverments that they shall rely on 10% less overall revenues to"redistribute"? the government here in Italy is already sweating a diminished tax take in the order of 5% from fossil fuels, obtained through a mix of the economic crisis impacting on family expenses, including car travel, and drivers being more careful fo fuel consumption when they drive.



anybody spot the error yet? OK, I'll show you.

to make it revenue neutral, taxes on renewable energy should be 400% of the final industrial price. that comes by dividing 80% by 20%, which is the correct answer, since given 100 as the final price of fuel, 80 is taxes and 20 is the oil industry revenue. That's taxed as well on earnings, but that's another story, and most probably covered by subsidies.

Comment: Do they know that? (Score 1) 305

by gadget junkie (#47357757) Attached to: How Often Do Economists Commit Misconduct?
As a professional in finance,I've had to wrestle with economists. To a large extent, the profession itself is a fake: the ultimate employer is the Sovereign, who will look askance on anybody saying that it either goofed or that he must get smaller.
start with this in your mind 30 years back, fast forward, and you'll see that macroscopic events in the Economy dept. get ignored, simply because they are in opposition to the academic thought.
I can give you an example: it made the papers in Italy that the European powers that be are starting a study of Abenomics, with a view to applying it here. While as an Italian I can understand the politicians' liking of a mix of runaway deficits, easy money and public investment, this disregards a number of problems:

1.most of the Abenomics tenets are already in place, to no perceived improvement;
2.public spending as a percentage of GDP is way above 50% in most places here, so the actual tax base is shrunk;
3. and last, there's an example that worked that the politicians are emphatically ignoring.

the example is Canada. it exited the 2008 crisis better than Europe, in part because of his proximity to the USA and the free trade it has with that nation, but also because it embraced a reduction in the public sector, and a control/reduction of tax pressure.
Do you believe in that causality? after 25 years tallking with these shamans who are called economist, my opinion is "insufficient data": economy is a dismal science. BUT, it worked. and Europe is studying a failing policy simply because it is similar to what they want to do.

Comment: Re:Sounds about right... (Score 4, Interesting) 441

except, that are at least 4 types of energy ... coal, oil, gas, wood,gravity

there, fixed it for you. otherwise dams would generate no electricity at all, would they?
whenever I see discussions like this, I think:" is this an IRS convention or what?!?!". all these modelling is heavily dependent on transferring tax money from other things to Renewable energy subsidies. In no paper, or law, the requirement is for the plan to provide continous, on demand generation. Do that and every analyst will become far more honest.
one of the reasons? if like in Italy a renewable energy producer gets paid a multiple of the marginal price when he produces, all projections should be made with the same producer installing continous capacity on his own, with the attandant environmental impact statesments, pollution control, etc, or buying the availability from someone else, at twice the same price. the obligation on the grid operator to retire and pay produced energy would have a limit at the continous capacity declared by the operator.

Comment: Re:Mmhmm (Score 1) 382

by gadget junkie (#47175649) Attached to: High Frequency Trading and Finance's Race To Irrelevance

Depends on how you define 'most trading'.

Most of the HFT is set up to make a market. Some large companies even set it up to HFT internally, in dark pools for rather esoteric reasons -some not so honest.

Amen to that.
I've been a professional in the market for 25 years. The hypothesis that " [...]those fractions of cents would otherwise most likely be accruing to the big banks instead of these new, smaller HFT firms. As long as people have been trading stocks, there have been middlemen taking a cut; HFTs just mean that the cut is now captured by those with the fastest computers." is true and false. the evolution into "dark pools", "hft" etc. was allowed and encouraged by the authorities, eager to bolster bankprofit and balance sheets.
Think about this. in olden days, the nyse used specialist firms to trade stocks. they acted as the ultimate middlemen, took in a very good profit, and in return they provided liquidity to stocks, so most of the trading volume was concentrated there. with the passage of time and the evolution of technology, there has been a spawning of trading venues, who DO NOT have the obligation to make their trades public in real time, in any shape or form.
Go back centuries, and the concept of a single trading venue, in which all trades of a particular goods were done, was strictly enforced. Public official checked scales, and reputation was the most important good traded. that did not mean a profitless economy, but it was more transparent then. Would you really want to trade with a company that originated an IPO, traded it for its own account, acted as prime broker for an ungodly number of hedge funds, many of whom used it both as a depositor and as prime broker, and also managed both hedge funds and mutual funds? this scheme is legal. that the so called "chinese walls" between the various pieces would ever work, it's open to scrutiny.

Comment: Re:Great job David! (Score 1) 86

by gadget junkie (#47134789) Attached to: A Bike Taillight that Goes Beyond Mere Taillighting (Video)

I do expect my investment in an onboard camera to pay off, unfortunately, when one of these bumbling fools gets too darn close for comfort. Sorry, but stupidity should pay a price in real life. Why should I get stuck with the bill because I drive carefully and you do not?

Well you are driving around in a massively dangerous thing that destroys the lives of so many people, that's why you should pay when you hit a person. Because when cars are driven too fast, anything above 30 km/h, they kill people.

Lol ! you are the perfect example. in what universe one race can flout all existing laws, an as a consequence the other race is stuck with more laws, and it had many more to comply to begin with?
where I live, there are bike only lanes physically separate from car lanes. I am more likely to spot Godzilla reading a sport magazine at my cocktail bar than a cyclist using them.
for a start, all those who use a racing cycle will never use a cycle lane. it's not as clean a car lane, where the traffic gets rid of pebbles, leaves and other residue on the lane. As purists, they are loathe to mount any front lights, back lights and so forth. the rest, the "recreational cyclists", are even worse.
I can on a humane level understand your instinct to protect the weak, but when there are laws for that, everybody is expected to follow them, especially if they make sense: Being visible in the dark, when you are a cyclist, it's not something people should be reminded of. So I am interested in your opinion:if I hit a cyclist who is dressed to be invisible, in a dark road with a separate cycle lane, and he's going in the wrong direction, at what speed society thinks that morons like that should pay my car instead of the other way around? that's why I use an onboard camera. People have been hardwired that provided that they are perceived as doing the "right thing", it's always someone else's fault.

Comment: Re:Great job David! (Score 1) 86

by gadget junkie (#47133067) Attached to: A Bike Taillight that Goes Beyond Mere Taillighting (Video)

It was a bit hard to see in the video... and I think it needs to be a little bit brighter in any case, even in daylight a good bike light is clearly visible. Note to cyclists: as a motorist who often drives down poorly lit country roads with lots of bicycle and car traffic, I see many cyclists with poor illumination, namely those poxy blinky LED lights. The blinking red ones are hard to see and the blinky front ones usually are *way* short on power, and hard to see during dusk or dawn. Please get one that doesn't blink and puts out a good amount of light. I'd hate to damage my car again... (and in NL, the motorist pretty much always pays)

lucky you. I live in Italy, where usage is low, but authorities have an hardon to increase bike usage. Pity that in their enthusiastic laissez faire attitude they do not enforce any kind of behaviour on cyclists, so in the dark you simply try to avoid dark shapes against a darkish background. Tonight, out of about twenty bikers, 1 (one) had a working light set but he was cycling on the wrong side, the rest were practically invisible, without even reflectors, and two were cycling in the dark side by side. some were handling their cell phones at the same time of course.
I do expect my investment in an onboard camera to pay off, unfortunately, when one of these bumbling fools gets too darn close for comfort. Sorry, but stupidity should pay a price in real life. Why should I get stuck with the bill because I drive carefully and you do not?

Comment: Re:Buggy whips? (Score 1) 769

by gadget junkie (#46858465) Attached to: The Koch Brothers Attack On Solar Energy

Seems like it is only a matter of time until coal power goes away. It will be a long time, granted, but in the next decade or two solar will get so cheap that the impact on traditional centralized generation will be quite severe. I guess they are watching what is happening in Germany with horror and realizing that is their future too.

Actually, the Germans seem to be looking at Germany with horror: Der Spiegel, before the new energy law was passed, published a statistics in which it showed that Solar, one of the sacred cows of sustainable energy, had produced next to zero in a six month period including the winter. Moreover, no one has published a viable estimate of the costs of upgrading the energy trasmission network to cope with the high volatility/low energy production density of a system overwhelmingly based on renewables.
anyway, in the meantime German industry is talking with its shoes: new chemical plants are based in the USA, not Germany. of course, plaudits to the Germans for being more ecological, but I cannot but remember that the lowest energy footprint if you look at Earth from space is North Korea, not actually a place attracting droves of ecologically minded citizens from all over the world.

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