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Comment Re:Why solar? (Score 5, Interesting) 528

Solar is currently the most expensive renewable by far.

Huh? This thinking seems outdated. Average solar has reached (and beaten) cost parity with all competing generation except for about the top 50%, top 25% of wind projects, and nearly all consequential new hydro proposals. ABY is adding solar yield projects with better returns than prior wind and hydro projects developed under more lucrative subsidy regimes... Projects are breaking ground with PPAs in the sub 6 cent range. First Solar, Recurrent Energy are successfully building projects and generating gross margins of 15-20% by selling power at 0.0387 $/kWh and .047 $/kWh respectively. They are doing it for 5 and 6 cents all over the world, even locations without subsidy. That is competitive with virtually any new energy construction. Companies building owning these projects are and will outgrow the global economy for foreseeable future (absent all subsidies) and then become the most impressive profit machines in the history of markets within a few decades. Minting money from fully-depreciated assets like the world has never seen (haha, except from current utilities :) ) I don't think you fully comprehend the economics of a maintenance free, nearly indestructible, fully-depreciated, solid state, money making machine. And thus business plan can scale to several % of global GDP without a hitch...

but the technology just isn't there yet (at least without tremendous expense).

Huh? Specifically what are the technological challenges? Today's technology will likely generate 70% of its nameplate capacity 50 years from now. All components are now offered standard with warranties that will last the entire amortization period. Solar panels and micro inverters would be among if not the most durable and reliable products in your home. Solar energy is available at higher energy density than necessary for single family construction and multi family construction less than 4 stories, aside from that there is no shortage of cheap land, even cheap land at favorable transmission and distribution locations.

There are tens of millions + homes all over the country for which a homeowner with good credit can go net positive energy using a cash flow positive PV investment (e.g. PV + financing = cheaper than utility bill) and actually provide a pretty good return on investment that has lower risk and better return than many different financial vehicles that would be sold to you as part of a balanced portfolio. For a solar array producing power after the 20-25% amortization period, the reduction in total cost of ownership for the home over the lifetime of these components will be tens of thousands of dollars.

You are clearly not up to speed on the technology, the production costs, the financing, or the global explosion in the industry.You have rested on some older state of knowledge too long. The technology awesome. The economics are extremely favorable. The only barrier is the transition to an enlightened long term view about power production. Don't blame cheap, high performance technology for man's failure to identify the obvious advantages of long term thinking.

Comment Funny goal (Score 1) 528

The US will probably reach that goal by 2027 without Clinton interventions based purely on economics of cheap solar. Of course had she, like other politicians, acted when it was actually important, the few hundred billions of dollars required for this transition would have supported American manufacturing. Instead these dollars will be funding development of the Chinese economy via their increasingly global renewable energy operations.

Comment Re:The future of electric could be much brighter i (Score 2) 291

Battery technology is probably good enough now, will only get better (and cheaper), and swaps are not necessary, but may help in some areas. Batteries will continue to decline in price (learning curve of approx. 22%) at a rate of ~8%/yr as production continues to scale. In about 8 or 9 years they will cost under 150 $/kWh. Probably faster or cheaper, as usually the case with these projections... This will reduce the premium on EVs to -10% to 20% under/over gas cars and reduce the "payback" (based on 0,08 $/kWh and 3 $/gal gas) to 0 - 2 years. I imagine despite their "issues," EVs reaching cost parity with gas cars will spur a large number of sales. But it isn't over

Coupled with today's PV prices (neglecting the 40% haircut they will get over the same time period), anyone will be able to go virtually off grid (will depend on specific utility machinations) for about 0.05 - 0.08 $/kWh, including 10 year battery replacements. Giving you a system that is cash flow positive and under warranty during the entire amortization period. It will be a no brainier for anyone with access to cheap capital (typical middle class home owner with about 6% HELOC rates). In most cases this will be probably the lowest risk AND highest returning financial investment vehicle available to the middle class (except for energy efficiency home improvements). This is essentially the case right now with PV (utility restrictions aside).

The average commuter needs 9 kWh/day for a 30mi round trip commute (average, I think). Power produced under average insolation (like Ohio or New York) is about 3.3 kWh/m^2-day, Cut it by 40% for the winter equals about 2 kWh/m^2-day per day. So you need about 4 panels (5-6m^2) per electric car, less than a parking space.

Panels are about 0.74 $/W ( They would be about 0.6 $/W without tariffs on Chinese imports) So your module cost is just under $800 with about 30% extra area for _really_ bad winter days. You have a surplus of about 200-300% in the summer for powering your house which will help recoup the cost of your PV array (which will have a payback of 4-8 yrs versus gas -without- using any extra power for your home, net metering, etc). IF you do it in the next 2 years you get a 30% off via ITC, afterword 10% off that price.

Add micro inverters and racking for $1000. DIY the install is like running CAT5 and installing a basketball hoop / skylight. A novice can install it in half a day. Or pay a guy $1000 (~150/hr) to throw it up. Depending on your municipality you may have connection fees (you can probably avoid this with the right inverter and have an off grid EV charger...). Now you have a $2000 - $3000 charging system large enough to put out enough charging power on about 90% of days anywhere in the continental US and also about 3 - 13X "regular" days of storage for trips or cloudy weather. Of course we'll need this infrastructure in public too, but the low costs will justify its proliferation, especially when amalgamated into larger, cheaper, and financially sound commercial and utility systems.

Solar doesn't have to get any better, batteries will get cheaper and probably more dense by just incremental economies of scale improvements, and one needs a pretty compelling argument to explain why this relatively conservative scenario won't play out and appeal to at least several million households and hence become an important segment of the private transportation sector within about a decade.

Comment Re:Smart (Score 1) 291

Control of the purse strings is the vital element to argumentation in US politics. Subsidies or credits for things I like are agreeable, permissible, or definitely necessary to avoid economic destruction. Meanwhile subsidies for things I (or my party bosses) do not like are socialist or fascist government intrusion and will result in the reckless and imminent destruction of everything the US was or every will be.

Comment Re: And also, you know; cars, jets, freight liners (Score 1) 299

Not a great plan in long run. Chinese are also building the industrial base to put Terra watts of wind and solar on the grid. It's going to be a great amusing world, when solar and wind are multi trillion dollar industries, exceeding coal potentially matching oil and China lords thier green industrial might over the worl, and Crack pots in the #2 US maybe #3 will still prattle on about freedom and mankind's ,US ?, dominion while continue hastening US irrelevance. 20 to 30 years out.

Comment Re:In other news... (Score 1) 484

the absolute production of kWh from solar, wind, and natural gas are up and the production of power from coal is down. Cleaner sources of energy are displacing coal globally at an unprecedented rate. Even at the present rate we will change over the majority of the energy infrastructure in mere decades, considerably faster than it took to build out in the first place.

Comment Re:No it is not (Score 1) 351

Modern marketing techniques are designed for people like you. They're specifically made for people who don't pay attention to ads.

Is there any evidence to support this claim? It is often encountered in these threads. I remain skeptical. Probably my skepticism comes from the same frame of mind that prevents marketing from gaining an unearned column in my purchasing decision matrix...

Comment Re:Needs to be more convenient (Score 1) 654

So much for common: Nothing close to 90F at 7AM in the last 2 summers. There are only 13 days where you reach 90F since 5/1/2013. I'm not looking through more data. Your remembering is obviously wrong. The other point is not what was stated, but last winter there was nothing remotely close to -15F. 5 to 10 days is not accurate.

Comment Re:Needs to be more convenient (Score 1) 654

Midwest city 90F at 7 AM? -15F with 6" of unplowed snow? These are extremely rare events for any city of 500K + in the Midwest. Planning your commute around something that happens once per few years doesn't seem reasonable. On the other hand planning your living situation around public transport can be exceptionally convenient.

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