Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?

Slashdot videos: Now with more Slashdot!

  • View

  • Discuss

  • Share

We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).


Comment: Re:Help me out here a little... (Score 1) 218

by Registered Coward v2 (#49506155) Attached to: Utilities Battle Homeowners Over Solar Power

Then everyone should pay of the electricity they use (preferably by time of use since the cost of electricity to utilities varies during the day) and the utilities should pay all providers of electricity (fossil fuel, hydro, solar, wind, etc.) for the energy they provide (again, according to time of production since electricity at peak demand times is much more expensive than at slack demand times). The market would then sort out how much was used and produced.

The problem is what happens when the utilities do not need the power from a solar producer? For the plants they decide how much they want and when, the same should apply to solar. That means each installation needs a way to regulate output according to demand and to handle load orders 24x7 when they are not taking electricity

All of this is possible with Internet connected meters and power equipment. Utilities need to stop whinging and get to work managing the grid. The grid is changing and they need to adapt to do their job.

Again, the question is who pays for the grid modifications? Ultimately, it's the end users of course but new producers should cover the costs of modifications to accommodate them.

Comment: Re:Ok.... Here's the thing, though ..... (Score 1) 218

by Registered Coward v2 (#49505765) Attached to: Utilities Battle Homeowners Over Solar Power

The power companies are all moving towards "smart meter" technologies anyway. Why not make sure they've put one in that can monitor the output of a PV solar (or even a wind turbine) installation while they're at it?

For that matter, it seems perfectly reasonable to require the homeowner to install such a meter as part of a solar installation, as a condition of being able to sell power to the utility -- or even to push power into the grid at all.

Not only a meter, but a disconnect so that if the power isn't needed then the transmission system can drop them form the grid. At that point it becomes the producer's responsibility to determine what to do with the excess power. Alternatively, the solar operator could drop prices to be the lost cost producer or even pay to have them take the power.

Comment: Re:Help me out here a little... (Score 1) 218

by Registered Coward v2 (#49505745) Attached to: Utilities Battle Homeowners Over Solar Power

Power companies are lazy. They do know about every single solar installation attached to their grid and they can get "solar forecasts" to plan for sunny days, etc. They may not be using this information but they can and should use it to design the grid and manage it. They can design their grid for solar.

Who pays for this? The utility? The solar providers who are essentially mini-power plants and thus responsible for their impact on the grid? All users via a "solar fee?"

Comment: Re:Help me out here a little... (Score 1) 218

by Registered Coward v2 (#49505725) Attached to: Utilities Battle Homeowners Over Solar Power

IT's early (for me) and my standard disclaimer of "the caffeine hasn't kicked in yet" applies, but "a power grid designed to carry it in the other direction" doesn't make a huge amount of sense to me.

I admit that circuits was a long time ago, and I never took (or had to take) the high power courses... But what does that even mean? The system is still AC, isn't it? So it's been handling carrying things in both directions forever.

Is this industry BS, or is there something to this claim?

There is technical merit to this claim. An electrical systems balances production, demand, and how the power it transmitted over the grid. Production is controlled by a load dispatcher who tells plants what to produce and when, and adjusts output based on changing demand. When you start adding in sources they cannot control it makes it much harder to maintain a balanced system and ensure it works properly. If, for example, you a significant number of producers pumping solar power into the grid you now have to figure out how to transmit it across the transmission system and maintain stability. if the products suddenly drop off you've got a new set of problems. Maintaining profitability is certainly a concern by system operators is also a viable one.

Comment: Re:vs. a Falcon 9 (Score 1) 64

by Bruce Perens (#49501071) Attached to: Rocket Lab Unveils "Electric" Rocket Engine

They can carry about 110kg to LEO, compared to the Falcon 9's 13150kg. That's 0.84% of the payload capacity. A launch is estimated to cost $4 900 000, compared to the Falcon 9's $61 200 000. That's 8.01%. That means cost per mass to orbit is nearly an order of magnitude worse.

Yes, this is a really small rocket. If you are a government or some other entity that needs to put something small in orbit right away, the USD$5 Million price might not deter you, even though you could potentially launch a lot of small satellites on a Falcon 9 for less.

And it's a missile affordable by most small countries, if your payload can handle the re-entry on its own. Uh-oh. :-)

Comment: Re:You Can See (Score 1) 110

Microminiature accelerometers are really cheap and very very light, and you don't have to wait for them to spin up or deal with their mechanical issues. I doubt you will see a gyro used as a sensor any longer.

Similarly, computers make good active stabilization possible and steering your engine to stabilize is a lot lighter than having to add a big rotating mass.

Comment: Re:and people say unions are bad this is what happ (Score 2) 292

by Registered Coward v2 (#49489495) Attached to: IT Worker's Lawsuit Accuses Tata of Discrimination

However, workers can undertake actions to increase their bargaining power and thus wages, as can any other supplier. [...] is no different than any economic transaction

It is different, because of the official governmental support worker-unions enjoy — instead of being treated with the anti-trust laws, like any other entity working to raise the prices of what its members are selling.

Except, unlike a group of producers acting in concert to exert market power; an employer still has many other options for labor. They can outsource, refuse to sign a contract and bring in replacements, move to another non-union location; unlike a monopoly where there is no other source of the product. Granted, those are not easy things to do but hey still are viable competitors to a union workforce. The government has intervened in the workplace in many ways, sometimes to the workers favor (unions, labor laws) and other times to the employers (non-competes, right to work laws,letting bankruptcy abrogate contracts and pension liabilities).

Comment: Re:New product (Score 1) 340

A video from the barge is now online here. If you step through the final frames, you can see that the camera mount ends up knocked over and pointing at the ocean, but the lens and its cover are unbroken and all we see flying appear to be small debris. So not a really high-pressure event.

If you steal from one author it's plagiarism; if you steal from many it's research. -- Wilson Mizner