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(The New York Times)   Lancaster, California wants to become the "Solar capital of the universe." Well, I suppose that sounds a lot better than "Last stop until Bakersfield"   (nytimes.com) divider line 19
    More: Unlikely, universe, alfalfa, Antelope Valley, House-building, Ohio Republican  
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1892 clicks; posted to Main » on 10 Apr 2013 at 10:13 AM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-04-10 11:03:52 AM
4 votes:

cirby: The Irresponsible Captain:
Well, it wouldn't take much.

...just an area equivalent to about 1/6 of the area of all of the urban/suburban areas of the planet.

In other words, look at any city over about 50,000 people, and imagine covering 1/6 of that area with solar panels. And yes, that includes ALL of the area, roads, parking lots, buildings, trees, parks, lakes, et cetera.

That's not even considering the cost. At $100/square meter (insanely cheap for an installed system with storage), you're looking at $100 million per square kilometer, times 400,000 kilometers = $40 trillion dollars. This is a fantastically low estimate...

No, thanks.


You are so completely wrong, I have no idea what you're talking about.  You must be trolling.  For home solar installations, it's usually 2 watts of power generation needed for each square foot of house.  1000 square foot home = 2 kilowatts, (2000 watts).  That's about 10 2.5'x4' panels.

A system like that costs $17000.  You can finance it by paying interest only on an equity line of about $50 per month.  You'll save more than that on electricity costs monthly.  It's now cheaper than buying coal/gas power from the city.

I did it.  I'm solar powered.  Those are the numbers.

Don't be stupid.
2013-04-10 11:40:54 AM
3 votes:

cirby: There isn't going to be a "solar revolution" until someone comes up with a radically new and insanely cheap way to install and use the suckers.


While of course there are outliers in any project (say a clay tile roof at a 60 degree angle), when it comes to standard US construction and asphalt roofs, panels are ridiculously simple to install - and can be done by any layperson who can measure correctly, drill holes, screw lagbolts and use rooftop flashing. With a pair of friends, I did the ones on my roof in a weekend, then paid my electrician to do all the electrical ties and final wiring of the panels to the inverter and the grid. Doing it that way dramatically reduced the labor costs involved.

Depending on what you spec, the panels I choose are standardized to US roof construction, at 48 inches on center. As soon as I laid out the first bracket correctly, all I had to do was chalk line 48 inches over. Repeat until done.

sphotos-b.xx.fbcdn.net

sphotos-b.xx.fbcdn.net

The panels then simply drop into the notches:
sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net

The most difficult part was cutting the conduit between the race channels at the correct length and installing them. I let my electrician double check everything before the panels went in, and to do the proper bend in the conduit between the two arrays.  With exception to the final wiring, it was pretty dang easy.

It's a lot more simple if you have a large enough area to keep everything in one bunch.

sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net

sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net
2013-04-10 08:56:34 AM
3 votes:
Is global warming indeed a threat? Absolutely, he said. "I may be a Republican. I'm not an idiot."
www.cyclonefanatic.com
2013-04-10 11:27:38 AM
2 votes:
Also, as an aside, last week I finished upgrading the systems on my sailboat with a larger 8D battery, isolated a separate starter battery, deck PV panel input, & 2000 watt inverter. She's now almost fully solar powered - with my only limit for being off the dock is the fresh water holds. Heck, even the dingy outboard motor is a 4hp electric Torqueedo that charges via the 12 DC system. Getting in and out of the dock still uses a 18 hp diesel engine, which I average about 10 gallons a year of use - but I can live with that.

sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net

+
sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net

I'm pretty much running out of projects these days to get to become solar powered - although with the addition of an electric car, the 3.6 KW PV array on my home's roof should be bumped up to 5 or 6 KW to get the house+car back to being fully solar powered. I enjoy living a life that is nearly independent from fossil fuels.

-100% Solar powered car
-66% solar powered house
-25% solar powered office (with 30+ people and 24/7 servers)
-300% solar powered vacation home
-99% solar powered sailboat

-Difficulty: all of that was done with a ~6 year ROI, in cloudy Seattle.
2013-04-10 10:37:58 AM
2 votes:
The Irresponsible Captain:
Well, it wouldn't take much.

...just an area equivalent to about 1/6 of the area of all of the urban/suburban areas of the planet.

In other words, look at any city over about 50,000 people, and imagine covering 1/6 of that area with solar panels. And yes, that includes ALL of the area, roads, parking lots, buildings, trees, parks, lakes, et cetera.

That's not even considering the cost. At $100/square meter (insanely cheap for an installed system with storage), you're looking at $100 million per square kilometer, times 400,000 kilometers = $40 trillion dollars. This is a fantastically low estimate...

No, thanks.
2013-04-10 12:36:14 PM
1 votes:

cirby: That is true - but the same can be said for roofing in general - and getting a plain old shingle roof installed is still expensive as hell, compared to the cost of the shingles.

Doing it yourself is easy, if you have the basic skills ...along with having the tools, the ladder, and some similarly-skilled friends who will work for free. And insurance to cover them if they fall off the roof (your insurance company would probably throw a fit if they saw those photos). And a city with a minimal permitting process. Even with your "savings" on labor costs, how much of the total price of the system did the panels themselves represent? Don't forget to include the permits and electrical contractor costs.

Of course, there's the "free labor" issue. Just because you didn't write a check to yourself and your friends, the cost of labor is still there - they may have donated their time to you, but how much would a three-man crew cost for two days? Even at a low (for roofing work) $20/hour cost, you're looking at almost $1000 in off-the books labor there.

For 90%+ of the urban population, none of that is really possible (due to lack of skills, fear of heights, and/or legal issues).


Wow, if you're that afraid of getting friends to help, I can only imagine the legal releases you require your buddies to sign if they help you paint the outside of your house or help with moving and lifting heavy furniture. Let's just say that it is possible for 10% of the urban, suburban and rural population - you're still talking about ~10+ million homes that it's possible to install. Since the average price of a solar panel is now hanging around $0.60 a watt, the only remaining + major costs are the labor involved - and frankly with standardization and simplifying of parts, it's rapidly becoming doable for homeowners with any basic skills.

For everyone else, just install Westinghouse panels - which are sold at Lowes, designed for do-it-yourselfers with the tools included, have almost all of the wiring and the inverters installed in each panel. The only professional labor you need to use is an electrician to do the one AC tie into the grid. Even if you use pro labor for the whole install, it should take 3-guys about 3 hours to do the full 2kw install, which they demonstrate the quick install here.

I agree that certain jurisdictions have more permitting and inspection fees - which is why I think we should nationally standardize the code to match California's rules and streamline installs & permits like Germany. They've greatly reduced their installed costs, compared to the US.
2013-04-10 12:02:55 PM
1 votes:
MrSteve007:
While of course there are outliers in any project (say a clay tile roof at a 60 degree angle), when it comes to standard US construction and asphalt roofs, panels are ridiculously simple to install - and can be done by any layperson who can measure correctly, drill holes, screw lagbolts and use rooftop flashing.

That is true - but the same can be said for roofing in general - and getting a plain old shingle roof installed is still expensive as hell, compared to the cost of the shingles.

Doing it yourself is easy, if you have the basic skills ...along with having the tools, the ladder, and some similarly-skilled friends who will work for free. And insurance to cover them if they fall off the roof (your insurance company would probably throw a fit if they saw those photos). And a city with a minimal permitting process. Even with your "savings" on labor costs, how much of the total price of the system did the panels themselves represent? Don't forget to include the permits and electrical contractor costs.

Of course, there's the "free labor" issue. Just because you didn't write a check to yourself and your friends, the cost of labor is still there - they may have donated their time to you, but how much would a three-man crew cost for two days? Even at a low (for roofing work) $20/hour cost, you're looking at almost $1000 in off-the books labor there.

For 90%+ of the urban population, none of that is really possible (due to lack of skills, fear of heights, and/or legal issues).
2013-04-10 11:43:50 AM
1 votes:
I found a GIS of the solar center of the universe

casswww.ucsd.edu
2013-04-10 11:25:16 AM
1 votes:

dryknife: DubtodaIll: The problem with solar isn't harnessing the energy, it's storing the energy for later use.

But the upside is that solar generates during peak load time.


Molten salt is a good way to store sloar-thermal. Run it through the heat-exchnagers to heat the boilers at night.
2013-04-10 10:45:28 AM
1 votes:
Last stop to Bakersfield?

It's not on the road (CA 14) to Bakersfield. To get there you'd have to either take CA 138 to I-5 or further north to CA 58.
2013-04-10 10:39:03 AM
1 votes:

vernonFL: Betelgeuse is about 1000 times larger than our sun, so I would say that it is more of a candidate for "solar capital of the Universe" than Lancaster, Ca.


To be fair, the word "solar" refers specifically to our star and not any other.
2013-04-10 10:32:26 AM
1 votes:
Lancaster may not be in the middle nowhere but you can see it from there.
2013-04-10 10:24:30 AM
1 votes:
userserve-ak.last.fm
knows of Bakersfield
& it's streets
2013-04-10 10:22:37 AM
1 votes:
Well, it wouldn't take much.

solarenergyfactsblog.com
2013-04-10 10:22:36 AM
1 votes:

Sybarite: "I may be a Republican. I'm not an idiot."


If only more of them realized this was an option.
2013-04-10 10:21:32 AM
1 votes:
um ...is not the actual Sun the "solar capitol" of the universe? You know ...Sol, Solar ...our sun?
2013-04-10 10:16:18 AM
1 votes:

JerseyTim: But what do the Amish think?


Honestly, if solar energy could be harnessed within a small community, the Amish would be all for it. They aren't so much anti-tech as much as anti-not-local. Think of them as neo-hippies.
2013-04-10 10:07:12 AM
1 votes:
Are they going to put that award right next to their Meth Capital of Southern California trophy?
2013-04-10 09:49:31 AM
1 votes:
Betelgeuse is about 1000 times larger than our sun, so I would say that it is more of a candidate for "solar capital of the Universe" than Lancaster, Ca.
 
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