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(Phys Org2)   Solar cone is a current hit, putting a new spin on power generation   (phys.org) divider line 66
    More: Spiffy, electricity, cell phones, power generation, V3Solar, clothes dryer, power pole, metal spinning, solar energy  
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6548 clicks; posted to Geek » on 07 Oct 2012 at 7:42 AM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-10-07 10:44:46 PM

namatad: Quantum Apostrophe: Hardy-r-r: Will they ever recover the energy expended to manufacture the device and all it's components? Sorry about the math.

The next generation will be powered by the keystrokes of the extra apostrophes people put into ITS.

LOL
and if you could never recover the energy required to manufacture, then you would never be able to sell the product.


The "energy" would be more properly defined as the "cost" to manufacture: materials, people, energy, what not. If that cost has a much greater expense/break even point, it is cheaper to just buy energy directly from the current producers. Early adopters often use new tech JUST to say that they are using new tech, not for a cost savings.

Real saving will kick in when all new houses come solar ready or solar pre-installed.

Some of the new window solar coatings are interesting. At what point do we just paint/cover all external surfaces? Efficiency is less important if cost and area covered is large enough.


The ethanol industry would like a word with you.
 
2012-10-08 01:45:15 AM

Killa J: I know Fark isn't really the place to ask questions about solar power, but it seems like there are some knowledgeable (know it all?) people here.

A few of you are talking about how little the electric company pays for electricity you generate. I was under the impression that you don't really "sell" back power to the electric company, but that your meter runs backwards during the day while your PV system is generating power. So you don't make money, but you save the money you would normally pay for electricity. Which is the same as making money. Is that not how it works?


It's called a net-meter agreement, and it's becoming standard in most states for small generators. And yes, you're correct in your assessment. Typically, the net generation is taken for a full year, so if you generate a large excess during the summer, you "bank" the extra production each month, which then can be consumed in the winter months. You'll still have to pay your standard connection charges/fees to the utility. But if you generate a net-excess beyond a 12-month period, they'll usually keep your excess without compensating you. 99.99% of all solar power owners don't have that problem though.

Between my house, my work, and the family vacation house, I manage 5 PV arrays now (22KW of total capacity), and am shareholder of two community PV arrays, with my first personal PV array coming online in 2006. I'm coming very close now to having solar power covering all of the direct energy needs in my life.

My utility does both net metering and buys my excess power at their retail rate, so it works out well for me. This is my most recent utility bill:
sphotos-b.xx.fbcdn.net
 
2012-10-08 04:14:11 AM
s4.hubimg.com 

Madonna could have been generating so much power.
 
2012-10-08 09:12:24 AM

MrSteve007:

I see you in pretty much all the solar/renewable energy threads and I'm tickled by what you've got going. I'd like to ask some fiscal type questions about your situation.

What's the retail rate you pay for electricity? Mine is $0.085 per kW-h.

What's your estimated (or actual) equity date... i.e. how long will it take for a given PV panel or system *you* buy to pay for itself?

I live in an area with pretty good insolation and wind. My problem is that every year for the last 15 or more, I go back, research the current prices for panels and inverters, wind power generators too, and do the calculations. Based on equipment and installation costs, plus my usage rate and current energy cost, the best I ever come up with is about 20 years for any installed system to pay for itself. By then figure I can expect
to have to replace or repair some part of my system, increasing the cost and payout period. Oh, and tax credits that were available in my state have expired and probably won't be renewed any time soon.

 
2012-10-08 12:05:06 PM

RatOmeter: MrSteve007: I see you in pretty much all the solar/renewable energy threads and I'm tickled by what you've got going. I'd like to ask some fiscal type questions about your situation.

What's the retail rate you pay for electricity? Mine is $0.085 per kW-h.

What's your estimated (or actual) equity date... i.e. how long will it take for a given PV panel or system *you* buy to pay for itself?

I live in an area with pretty good insolation and wind. My problem is that every year for the last 15 or more, I go back, research the current prices for panels and inverters, wind power generators too, and do the calculations. Based on equipment and installation costs, plus my usage rate and current energy cost, the best I ever come up with is about 20 years for any installed system to pay for itself. By then figure I can expect to have to replace or repair some part of my system, increasing the cost and payout period. Oh, and tax credits that were available in my state have expired and probably won't be renewed any time soon.


Since rebates and incentives vary by state, it'd be really useful to know what state you're in to do some basic calcs.

I pay about the same rate for electricty here in WA State - but we also have huge incentives available right now; when they're all combined, it works out to be a 6-7 year ROI for installing solar here in Seattle.
 
2012-10-08 03:57:43 PM
Basically what they are saying, if I read that all properly, is that hot cells are a lot less efficient than cold cells, so by spinning the thing, you're always using a cold cell.

Makes sense to me *shrug*
 
2012-10-08 04:00:11 PM
Oh, and that a cell takes longer to discharge than to load, so by spinning them on/off you're making better use of their time.

I have no idea if that is scientifically accurate though.
 
2012-10-08 04:25:48 PM

Killa J: I know Fark isn't really the place to ask questions about solar power, but it seems like there are some knowledgeable (know it all?) people here.

A few of you are talking about how little the electric company pays for electricity you generate. I was under the impression that you don't really "sell" back power to the electric company, but that your meter runs backwards during the day while your PV system is generating power. So you don't make money, but you save the money you would normally pay for electricity. Which is the same as making money. Is that not how it works?


That's my understanding as well, it's called net metering. During the day your meter runs backwards and at night it goes forwards. If at the end of the month your meter is higher than it was last month you owe money to the utility. If less, then they buy the electricity back pennies on the dollar per se. But as I understand things is is definitely not like what some people are describing above.
 
2012-10-08 04:47:47 PM

hutchkc: That's my understanding as well, it's called net metering. During the day your meter runs backwards and at night it goes forwards. If at the end of the month your meter is higher than it was last month you owe money to the utility. If less, then they buy the electricity back pennies on the dollar per se. But as I understand things is is definitely not like what some people are describing above.


As I linked above, a lion's share of the states require utilities to pay you the same retail rate you pay for electricity, not the wholesale (avoided cost) rate. A vast majority of them let you rollover excess generation from month-to-month, over the period of a year. Link

If you don't want to click the link, it works out like this -

States that don't give a shait about renewables: Mississippi, S. Dakota, Tennessee & Oklahoma.
States that allow utilities to rape you for for pennies on the dollar for your electricity: Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Michigan.
States that require utilities to reimburse at full retail rates: Pretty much the rest of the union.
 
2012-10-08 05:18:59 PM

MrSteve007: hutchkc: That's my understanding as well, it's called net metering. During the day your meter runs backwards and at night it goes forwards. If at the end of the month your meter is higher than it was last month you owe money to the utility. If less, then they buy the electricity back pennies on the dollar per se. But as I understand things is is definitely not like what some people are describing above.

As I linked above, a lion's share of the states require utilities to pay you the same retail rate you pay for electricity, not the wholesale (avoided cost) rate. A vast majority of them let you rollover excess generation from month-to-month, over the period of a year. Link

If you don't want to click the link, it works out like this -

States that don't give a shait about renewables: Mississippi, S. Dakota, Tennessee & Oklahoma.
States that allow utilities to rape you for for pennies on the dollar for your electricity: Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Michigan.
States that require utilities to reimburse at full retail rates: Pretty much the rest of the union.


I'm in the latter of your first group.
 
2012-10-08 06:11:21 PM

RatOmeter: I'm in the latter of your first group.


The only place I can think with power prices as low as the Pacific NW are areas serviced by the Tennessean Valley Authority - so I'm going to hazard a guess that you're in TVA territory. If that's the case, you may be in luck. Check out some of the incentives they have available: TVA Green Power Link & State Link

Looks like the TVA will cover $1,000 up front, and they pay you $0.12 per kWh you generate, even if you consume the power on property (effectively making the value be $0.20 kWh, because you're not purchasing that energy). they'll pay a premium for that electricity for 20 years. The program started October 1st, 2012. Combine that with the 30% federal tax credit, and I have a feeling you'll do ok.

The most recent report on average pricing has US installed PV costs at $4.44 a watt. Meaning that for $22,200, you could install a 5KW array. With an insolation rate of 4.45 sun-hours in Nashville, you'd generate, on average, about 18 kWh a day.

So your first year costs would look like this:
Installed cost of PV - $22,200 (22,200)
TVA rebate - $1,000 (21,200)
30% fed rebate - $6,360 (14,840)
Annual electricity you won't buy from a utility anymore, @ 0.08 kWh = $525 (14,315)
TVA Green power program @ $0.12 kWh = $788 (13,527)

So, realistically, you'd pay $13,527 for a sizable 5KW array in TN, after your first year costs. Using today's energy value, taking into account both of offset cost of power you're not buying and the TVA credit, you'd get $1,313 a year. Making the total payback 10 years, for products that are typically warranted for 30 years of operation (panels) - inverters usually have a 5 or 10-year warranty.
 
2012-10-08 08:51:33 PM

MrSteve007: hutchkc: That's my understanding as well, it's called net metering. During the day your meter runs backwards and at night it goes forwards. If at the end of the month your meter is higher than it was last month you owe money to the utility. If less, then they buy the electricity back pennies on the dollar per se. But as I understand things is is definitely not like what some people are describing above.

As I linked above, a lion's share of the states require utilities to pay you the same retail rate you pay for electricity, not the wholesale (avoided cost) rate. A vast majority of them let you rollover excess generation from month-to-month, over the period of a year. Link

If you don't want to click the link, it works out like this -

States that don't give a shait about renewables: Mississippi, S. Dakota, Tennessee & Oklahoma.
States that allow utilities to rape you for for pennies on the dollar for your electricity: Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Michigan.
States that require utilities to reimburse at full retail rates: Pretty much the rest of the union.


Great. I'm in Louisiana. It sure is hot here, but at least we're technologically backwards.
 
2012-10-09 08:08:08 AM

MrSteve007: RatOmeter: I'm in the latter of your first group.

The only place I can think with power prices as low as the Pacific NW are areas serviced by the Tennessean Valley Authority - so I'm going to hazard a guess that you're in TVA territory. If that's the case, you may be in luck. Check out some of the incentives they have available: TVA Green Power Link & State Link

Looks like the TVA will cover $1,000 up front, and they pay you $0.12 per kWh you generate, even if you consume the power on property (effectively making the value be $0.20 kWh, because you're not purchasing that energy). they'll pay a premium for that electricity for 20 years. The program started October 1st, 2012. Combine that with the 30% federal tax credit, and I have a feeling you'll do ok.

The most recent report on average pricing has US installed PV costs at $4.44 a watt. Meaning that for $22,200, you could install a 5KW array. With an insolation rate of 4.45 sun-hours in Nashville, you'd generate, on average, about 18 kWh a day.

So your first year costs would look like this:
Installed cost of PV - $22,200 (22,200)
TVA rebate - $1,000 (21,200)
30% fed rebate - $6,360 (14,840)
Annual electricity you won't buy from a utility anymore, @ 0.08 kWh = $525 (14,315)
TVA Green power program @ $0.12 kWh = $788 (13,527)

So, realistically, you'd pay $13,527 for a sizable 5KW array in TN, after your first year costs. Using today's energy value, taking into account both of offset cost of power you're not buying and the TVA credit, you'd get $1,313 a year. Making the total payback 10 years, for products that are typically warranted for 30 years of operation (panels) - inverters usually have a 5 or 10-year warranty.


No, I'm in OK, which rates an 'F' in net metering. My electricity comes from a rural electric coop which does have a net metering plan. $50 application fee for a
 
2012-10-09 08:32:00 AM
Dang it. Fark HTML handling cut off my post when I tried to use the less than symbol.

I'm in OK, which rates an 'F' in net metering. My electricity comes from a rural electric coop which does have a net metering plan. Their document that I read said there's a $50 application fee for a less than 25 kW system, plus a (undisclosed) monthly net metering fee, plus the member must pay to have an approved additional meter installed. It also says that for 25 kW - 100 kW sized systems, the "member must state that the total annual generation will be less than 25,000 kW-h". It doesn't say that for "less than" 25 kW systems, but I assume that's their stance. Excess generation *does not* roll over to the next month and their upstream supplier (KAMO Power) *may* buy the excess at their avoided cost.

As it stands, I think my first money toward reducing my electric bill would be better spent replacing my electric clothes dryer and oven with natural gas fired appliances (fortunately the house is plumbed for gas for those things). Heating with gas is pretty cheap here and more efficient (in the pure thermodynamics sense) than burning coal to fire a generator, distribute it to my house where I short out some wires just to generate more heat.
 
2012-10-09 12:44:05 PM

RatOmeter: I'm in OK, which rates an 'F' in net metering. My electricity comes from a rural electric coop which does have a net metering plan. Their document that I read said there's a $50 application fee for a less than 25 kW system, plus a (undisclosed) monthly net metering fee, plus the member must pay to have an approved additional meter installed. It also says that for 25 kW - 100 kW sized systems, the "member must state that the total annual generation will be less than 25,000 kW-h". It doesn't say that for "less than" 25 kW systems, but I assume that's their stance. Excess generation *does not* roll over to the next month and their upstream supplier (KAMO Power) *may* buy the excess at their avoided cost.


I'm in OK, too, and I wonder about the feasibility of using solar panels considering our hail storms. It seems to me like the panels would be pretty damaged pretty quickly, but maybe they're more durable than I'm aware of? It seems that a wind turbine might be a better choice for cheap power, but they had one on display in my town that didn't appear to make it through a wind storm. To be honest, I'm really not sure what to think about it all.
 
2012-10-09 02:32:50 PM

QT_3.14159: I'm in OK, too, and I wonder about the feasibility of using solar panels considering our hail storms. It seems to me like the panels would be pretty damaged pretty quickly, but maybe they're more durable than I'm aware of? It seems that a wind turbine might be a better choice for cheap power, but they had one on display in my town that didn't appear to make it through a wind storm. To be honest, I'm really not sure what to think about it all.


While I can't vouch for every panel out there, here's some of the ish they do to USA made silicon energy's panels, which use a laminated ballistic glass on the front and back:

Stop .22 & .38 bullets, fired from 30 feet away:
sphotos-b.xx.fbcdn.net

Spanning a 48" distance, you can park a 3-ton truck on one:
sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net
sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net

Of you can find the biggest guy on your block, and have him jump as hard as he can on them. Link

Or you could mount them on the face of an exposed Puget Sound sea-wall and have the ocean beat them:
www.silicon-energy.com

I have a feeling some dinky hail won't be a problem for quality, modern solar panels.
 
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