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(TreeHugger)   In the USA, there are now more workers in solar power than coal miners   (treehugger.com) divider line 304
    More: Spiffy, USA, solar energy, workers  
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3678 clicks; posted to Main » on 23 Apr 2013 at 11:11 PM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-04-24 12:11:10 AM  

Lsherm: [img844.imageshack.us image 492x369]

Two things I don't understand about this:  Why is New Jersey installing more solar panels than anyone else, and what is getting Pennsylvania ahead in manufacturing?

I realize these are state-by-state numbers, so we aren't dealing with a big picture.


The graph isn't saying that Pennsylvanie does more manufacturing of solar panels than other states; it just says that Pennsylvania has far more work manufacturing panels than they do installing, selling , or developing those panels.
 
2013-04-24 12:11:25 AM  

Lionel Mandrake: alaric3: PS. Coal got its energy from the sun. God.

ftfy


Coal was once living matter. Plants, Animals that ate plants and animals that ate animals that ate plants. And the plants got their energy from the sun.
Beyond that it's all star dust.

George Carlin prayed to the sun because it answered his prayers as often as a god, "about 50/50" Of course, He was an animal that ate plants and animals that ate plants so he was solar powered.
 
2013-04-24 12:12:30 AM  

js530: Rambino:

Allow me to highlight one key difference between solar energy and oil/gas/coal/nuclear:

When we stop tending to the mines/pipes/boilers/CTs, what happens?  The energy stops flowing, and the lights go out.

When we stop tending to the now-installed solar panels, what happens?  The energy keeps flowing, and the lights stay on.

Every solar panel installed is semi-permanent infrastructure that we get to enjoy for decades at no additional cost or effort.  That other stuff, not so much.

If solar is a "semi-permanent infrastructure", the average nuclear plant is the most permanent damn infrastructure in existence. There's no way in hell solar infrastructure will last 30-ish years, the average age of current nuclear power plants. Existing solar doesn't last that long. Solar inverters, like all electronics and power electronics in particular, are constantly being fatigued, by light/dark cycles (1/day) and power switching cycles (thousands/second). Panels are losing a percent or two a year (the magic of compounding rates...). Coverglass is being covered in dirt and bird shiat. Hail and wind storms are taking out panels. All of these require maintenance, labor and expense.

The idea that solar infrastructure is permanent is a complete falsehood.


Oh please.

A nuclear power plant "lasts" exactly one minute after the workers depart.  They cannot (or at least should not and do not) operate without human oversight 24/7.  A basic PV system is completely fire-and-forget.

Yes, the inverters tend to blow after a decade. So I amend my statement to note that you have to make a trip to the inverter store once a decade. Otherwise, they generally keep on plugging a whole lot longer than 30 years.  Most importantly, the expensive part (the solar panels) have the longest life.  The stuff that wears out is easy to replace.

Birdshiat? Dirt?  Who cares. Yes, your production goes down, but it Will.Not.Stop.

Hail and storms?  Solar panels are a lot more weather-resistant than most other generating sources.

We only put solar panels on buildings with new roofs, because the panels will outlast the roof.

Heck, the biggest threat to solar panel longevity is obsolescence--as in you throw out a perfectly good panel just cuz you can get a better one for cheap.
 
2013-04-24 12:13:12 AM  

Martian_Astronomer: IIRC, you work in one of the many, many, Si niches out there.


We make good old traditional monocrystalline Silicon panels, so about as non niche as you can get.  I'd love to work on some of the more exotic stuff you are talking about.

On the other hand, it has taken a good deal of innovation to stay alive in the market of the last two years.  A couple of months ago we completely redesigned our device structure, which gave us an extra 15 watts per sixty cell panel and has kept us alive since then....
 
2013-04-24 12:14:13 AM  
Infernalist:

Are there any appreciable downsides to solar panel systems aside from 'lol night time' comments?

I've heard that the waste products from panel creation are not insignificant. Confirm/Deny?


I'll let people better versed (Hollie Maea) speak to this in detail, but it's more or less the same waste you get from making other semiconductors, just in bulk form.

There are some nasty fluorine compounds, those are probably the nastiest, but even those can be dealt with using plasma furnaces and the like.

Whatever the case, unlike coal mining, all of the processing is done in factories and there's a specific waste stream. It's not like "blast the top off of a mountain and let everything run downhill." There's a bit more control over what gets spilled where.
 
2013-04-24 12:14:43 AM  
Fartbongo's taking our jobs!!!
 
2013-04-24 12:15:18 AM  

maxheck: Rambino:

Incontinent_dog_and_monkey_rodeo: The thing about nuclear vs solar is that nuclear takes 8 years to build, even after you get all the permitting taken care of. That's a huge investment of capital for a damn long time before you see a return. With solar, once the permits are in place you're generating electricity within 3 months, very little time to tie up dead money before some cash starts coming back in.

Also, you don't need a billion dollars to throw up some solar panels. Downward scalability is a pretty big deal.

That's why utilities love grid-tie systems. If enough people install them, they can avoid the stranded costs of having to build a half-billion dollar gas plant that only gets spun up during business and air-conditioning hours.

Every time I fly I look down and see huge warehouses and big-box stores and the sort of buildings with literal acres of flat roofs, the sort of things that cluster around airports, and I think of how many of them could be net producers of power to the point where they pay the investment off in 5 years or so and anything after that is pure profit. It's kinda a shame that this isn't being taken advantage of.


Not being taken advantage of because the utilities hate net metered systems.  Undermines their business model completely, and makes them have to think hard about power factors and voltage regulation.
 
2013-04-24 12:16:08 AM  

Infernalist: Are there any appreciable downsides to solar panel systems aside from  'lol night time' comments?

I've heard that the waste products from panel creation are not insignificant.  Confirm/Deny?


Confirm, with caveats.  Some of the thin film technologies such as Cadmium Telluride contain some nasty shiat that needs to be disposed with care.  But for the Silicon wafers that make up almost the whole industry, the nastiest thing they have in them is Silver.
 
2013-04-24 12:16:40 AM  
Sounds like we need to hire more coal miners.
 
2013-04-24 12:18:07 AM  

Hollie Maea: Infernalist: Are there any appreciable downsides to solar panel systems aside from  'lol night time' comments?

I've heard that the waste products from panel creation are not insignificant.  Confirm/Deny?

Confirm, with caveats.  Some of the thin film technologies such as Cadmium Telluride contain some nasty shiat that needs to be disposed with care.  But for the Silicon wafers that make up almost the whole industry, the nastiest thing they have in them is Silver.


Also, most important caveat:  TANSTAAFL, yes, but compared to the "waste" from any other energy source currently in use, it is pretty damned good.
 
2013-04-24 12:19:36 AM  
I should clarify that the actual manufacture of silicon cells does contain plenty of nasty acids.  But the nice thing about acid is that after you use them they aren't nasty any more.
 
2013-04-24 12:20:02 AM  
Hollie Maea:

BTW, I wonder if we have bumped into each at some event or other, just on odds. Small enough industry.

Are you at slwd?
 
2013-04-24 12:20:57 AM  

Lsherm: [img844.imageshack.us image 492x369]

Two things I don't understand about this:  Why is New Jersey installing more solar panels than anyone else, and what is getting Pennsylvania ahead in manufacturing?

I realize these are state-by-state numbers, so we aren't dealing with a big picture.


For the charts, it's a matter of percentages. New Jersey doesn't have higher number of solar panel installation jobs than states like California, just a higher percentage of total jobs that are classified in the installation sector.

So, if California has 10,000 solar-related jobs (just making up round numbers here), and 7,500 of those are installation related, this (75%) is a lesser percentage than New Jersey, which, for example, might have only 2,000 solar related jobs, 1,600 of which might be installation-related (80%).
 
2013-04-24 12:21:33 AM  
almost 25% of the electricity in Iowa is now produced by wind power

ha ha! you guys all blooooooooow


/see what I did there?
 
2013-04-24 12:22:39 AM  

Rambino: Hollie Maea:

BTW, I wonder if we have bumped into each at some event or other, just on odds. Small enough industry.

Are you at slwd?


Yes, I am. I doubt we have bumped into each other...I was part time until a few months ago because I was taking classes at the same time, so I didn't make it to too many conventions or anything.
 
2013-04-24 12:22:55 AM  
Yes. What hlehmann said....
 
2013-04-24 12:23:02 AM  

incrdbil: Dow Jones and the Temple of Doom: Do they even mine anymore? I thought they just blew the tops of off mountains are ruined entire forest ecosystems and rural communities?

Mountain top removal is not the 'strip mining' of old. Forests are not devasttaed, and rural communities benefit, do not suffer from it.  And yes, conventional mining still occurs.


Ahahahahahahahahahaha! *deep breath* Ahahahahahahahahahaha!  Yes I'm sure that the charges are placed to save the trees.  *wipes eyes, blows nose*
 
2013-04-24 12:23:07 AM  

Not_The_Target_Market: Lsherm: [img844.imageshack.us image 492x369]

Two things I don't understand about this:  Why is New Jersey installing more solar panels than anyone else, and what is getting Pennsylvania ahead in manufacturing?

I realize these are state-by-state numbers, so we aren't dealing with a big picture.

For the charts, it's a matter of percentages. New Jersey doesn't have higher number of solar panel installation jobs than states like California, just a higher percentage of total jobs that are classified in the installation sector.

So, if California has 10,000 solar-related jobs (just making up round numbers here), and 7,500 of those are installation related, this (75%) is a lesser percentage than New Jersey, which, for example, might have only 2,000 solar related jobs, 1,600 of which might be installation-related (80%).


Which would make sense, since most of the solar management/admin/finance/development is in California.
 
2013-04-24 12:24:15 AM  

Hollie Maea: I should clarify that the actual manufacture of silicon cells does contain plenty of nasty acids.  But the nice thing about acid is that after you use them they aren't nasty any more.


If you like having bones, respect the HF.
 
2013-04-24 12:24:59 AM  

Hollie Maea: Rambino: Hollie Maea:

BTW, I wonder if we have bumped into each at some event or other, just on odds. Small enough industry.

Are you at slwd?

Yes, I am. I doubt we have bumped into each other...I was part time until a few months ago because I was taking classes at the same time, so I didn't make it to too many conventions or anything.


Ah. I am with your law firm. Perhaps at SPI, if you start hitting the circuit again.
 
2013-04-24 12:26:27 AM  

maxheck: Rambino:

Incontinent_dog_and_monkey_rodeo: The thing about nuclear vs solar is that nuclear takes 8 years to build, even after you get all the permitting taken care of. That's a huge investment of capital for a damn long time before you see a return. With solar, once the permits are in place you're generating electricity within 3 months, very little time to tie up dead money before some cash starts coming back in.

Also, you don't need a billion dollars to throw up some solar panels. Downward scalability is a pretty big deal.

That's why utilities love grid-tie systems. If enough people install them, they can avoid the stranded costs of having to build a half-billion dollar gas plant that only gets spun up during business and air-conditioning hours.

Every time I fly I look down and see huge warehouses and big-box stores and the sort of buildings with literal acres of flat roofs, the sort of things that cluster around airports, and I think of how many of them could be net producers of power to the point where they pay the investment off in 5 years or so and anything after that is pure profit. It's kinda a shame that this isn't being taken advantage of.


Unless the building was designed with solar in mind, it can be challenging. Nobody wants to physically attach the solar structures to the roof, potentially causing a leak, or voiding the roof warranty. Roofing companies want to be the ones to install the attachments. Now it may make more sense to re-roof the building first to get the warranty, and because it will be difficult to get to later. Some systems can be ballasted with cmu concrete cap blocks to avoid penetrations, but then may add too much weight and exceed the structural capacity. California and other areas have seismic concerns. Fire-fighter access pathways, skylight, etc.. The solar capacity of a given roof decreases rapidly, reducing the value of the investment.
 
2013-04-24 12:26:35 AM  
Aaah, the future unemployed receiving top pay instead on unemployment insurance.   This should end well.
 
2013-04-24 12:27:46 AM  

Rambino: Cataholic: js530: catpuncher: Now compare the amount of energy the two produce.

119,000 solar "jobs" according to the article produce .11 quads. Natural gas and coal combined (excluding petroleum) account for 43.1 quad. Or about 43 million solar "jobs" worth. But accounting for natural gas/coal rejected heat, that's only about 20 million jobs.

So if you force every American working in mining, construction, manufacturing, utitilities, and the entire federal government to work in solar, you can still look forward to importing nearly half of your energy in the form of oil.

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-xiG-xPLoLuw/TaHszly8nAI/AAAAAAAABwM/CLEDlE 9t T8k/s1600/LLNL_US_Energy_Flow_2009.png

Seeing as how there were 137,112 coal miners in the US in 2012, I'm going to go ahead and doubt everything else the "Solar Foundation" has to say in their press release.

http://www.msha.gov/stats/centurystats/coalstats.asp

TFA, on the other hand, cites its source as the BLS.  And the BLS says there were 87k coal miners or so in 2012.  http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/naics4_212100.htm#00-0000">http://www. bls.gov/oes/current/naics4_212100.htm#00-0000

Actually fewer than that, since even that number includes thousands of admin and management jobs.

So TFA was exactly correct.


MSHA's numbers do include metal mining, which I hadn't considered.  So there's that.
 
2013-04-24 12:28:18 AM  
Because ....

1. Inefficiency in solar sectors + new infrastructure

2. Coal mines are seasoned infrastructure + high degree of mechanized process
 
2013-04-24 12:28:19 AM  
do ze germans have too much solar power?

nazi sun death beam in 3..2..
 
2013-04-24 12:29:03 AM  

Martian_Astronomer: Hollie Maea: I should clarify that the actual manufacture of silicon cells does contain plenty of nasty acids.  But the nice thing about acid is that after you use them they aren't nasty any more.

If you like having bones, respect the HF.


Yeah that's the scariest stuff we have (well there is some silane gas I would prefer not to light on fire). The floor is covered with calcium gluconate stations.  But we have not had any HF incidents in the years I have been there.  We are pretty careful with that stuff.
 
2013-04-24 12:30:04 AM  

Rambino: A nuclear power plant "lasts" exactly one minute after the workers depart.  They cannot (or at least should not and do not) operate without human oversight 24/7.  A basic PV system is completely fire-and-forget.


As someone who works in nuclear power...
s21.postimg.org
Run that by me again?
The workers don't leave their posts. Nuclear plants work on rotating shifts. The plants are always manned, 24/7/365. Hell, the control rooms will maintain the plant without human interaction if they could. A lot of the "auto" systems are left "off" so the operators HAVE to interact and know what the hell is going on without the systems caring for itself.
Either way it's a lot longer than "one minute". What you're talking about is "time to boil", usually for coolant water in the fuel pool (or open primary system during a refuel but that's another thing). Time to boil is greatly dependent on when the last refuel is, blah blah blah. It's usually a farkton long time actually, in the number of weeks, as automated systems will run as long as there's some kind of power.
Or are you saying, like, zombie apocalypse..? In which case why are we having this conversation?


Yes, the inverters tend to blow after a decade. So I amend my statement to note that you have to make a trip to the inverter store once a decade. Otherwise, they generally keep on plugging a whole lot longer than 30 years.  Most importantly, the expensive part (the solar panels) have the longest life.  The stuff that wears out is easy to replace.

Birdshiat? Dirt?  Who cares. Yes, your production goes down, but it Will.Not.Stop.

Hail and storms?  Solar panels are a lot more weather-resistant t ...


Oh, and they're poisonous. Let's not forget. They're toxic, they degrade to poisons, and they can't support base load. Good for reducing peak load, though.

/a running steam turbine driven generator is 1000 MWe easy
 
2013-04-24 12:30:19 AM  

studs up: I was believing the math until this from tfa:

 solar workers outnumber actors in California

bull-farking-shiat
bullshiat


There are a lot of lazy bums soaking up the sun in Cailfornia.
 
2013-04-24 12:30:30 AM  
images.wikia.com
 
2013-04-24 12:31:02 AM  
This is ironic because solar power is more labor intensive than coal power....
 
2013-04-24 12:31:11 AM  
tinfoil-hat maggie:
Very true, although I haven't rad anything about the waste from Solar power. IE: discarded panels, manufacturing waste, etc. Granted Nuclear has hot fuel rods that stay hot for a very long time.( That's just my limited knowledge)

i2.kym-cdn.com
 
2013-04-24 12:31:38 AM  

Rambino: Hollie Maea: Rambino: Hollie Maea:

BTW, I wonder if we have bumped into each at some event or other, just on odds. Small enough industry.

Are you at slwd?

Yes, I am. I doubt we have bumped into each other...I was part time until a few months ago because I was taking classes at the same time, so I didn't make it to too many conventions or anything.

Ah. I am with your law firm. Perhaps at SPI, if you start hitting the circuit again.


Nice.  Hopefully  they'll have enough money to start sending us to those things again soon.
 
2013-04-24 12:32:00 AM  
More directly, let's have everyone here visit southern WV, Eastern Kentucky, and see what direct burning of coal (still the choice of home heating in many rural areas) looks like. Have you ever been choked by ammonia, fly ash, and charcoal at the same time? Yellow smoke so thick it burns your eyes,clogs your sinuses, and makes you sick too your stomach quicker than cheap tequila. If anyone is brave enough I will personally sponsor all the beer needed for a fark party/ environmental tour of the region, and I guarantee thinking on the benefits/detrimental effects of coal production will be shifted for those who still think coal is the answer.

/I live here
//80% of my power is from coal.
///it sucks..and is killing the earth and the health of my fellow rednecks.
//// too bad most voted for mitt anyway cuz "hurr duurr that negro is gonna take ar gunzz!!!
 
2013-04-24 12:33:46 AM  
But the Republicans told me this would never work!
 
2013-04-24 12:35:00 AM  
Rambino:

Oh please.

A nuclear power plant "lasts" exactly one minute after the workers depart.  They cannot (or at least should not and do not) operate without human oversight 24/7.  A basic PV system is completely fire-and-forget.

Yes, the inverters tend to blow after a decade. So I amend my statement to note that you have to make a trip to the inverter store once a decade. Otherwise, they generally keep on plugging a whole lot longer than 30 years.  Most importantly, the expensive part (the solar panels) have the longest life.  The stuff that wears out is easy to replace.

Birdshiat? Dirt?  Who cares. Yes, your production goes down, but it Will.Not.Stop.

Hail and storms?  Solar panels are a lot more weather-resistant t ...


I'm curious on what planet "ability to run without human intervention" is the primary reason for selecting a power source. And if it were, PV still doesn't make sense. So I'll prove it using your 10 year inverter lifetime

The US produces 1250 gigawatt-years in electricity generation. If we assume the average inverter is a generous 10 kW, with a production capacity of 5 kilowatt-year per year (maybe these are all on the equator?), with an average lifetime of 10 years, we need 25 million inverters replaced per year. So assume an inverter can be replaced by a trained electrician in 3 hours. That seems like only 40,000 full-time electricians are needed. Not so bad. But where do these inverters come from? Do electronic components magically solder themselves to a board? Do inverters magically ship themselves? Do the copper transformer windings magically grow from the ground? Are the old inverters biodegradable? There's a reason inverters are multi-kilobuck expensive, and that's because there's a lot of embodied labor, materials, and energy used to manufacture and install. Power electronics, unlike other electronics, don't really benefit from shrinking semiconductor process nodes.
 
2013-04-24 12:35:00 AM  

Ringshadow: Rambino: A nuclear power plant "lasts" exactly one minute after the workers depart.  They cannot (or at least should not and do not) operate without human oversight 24/7.  A basic PV system is completely fire-and-forget.

As someone who works in nuclear power...
[s21.postimg.org image 341x640]
Run that by me again?
The workers don't leave their posts. Nuclear plants work on rotating shifts. The plants are always manned, 24/7/365.



That was kind of the point...   :)   Nukes require operating personnel, and lots of it, and all the time.  Solar does not.

/Also used to work in nuclear, sort of...
 
2013-04-24 12:36:15 AM  

Cataholic: MSHA's numbers do include metal mining, which I hadn't considered.  So there's that.


An actual retraction, on Fark?

My hat is off, good sir.
 
2013-04-24 12:37:24 AM  

Lidocaine: I'll stand up and cheer about such stats when my utility bills start trending in a downward direction instead of their current upward climb...


Check this out: THAT WILL NEVER HAPPEN.

Based on the fact various government sectors started crying when revenues from gas taxes started going down due to people driving more fuel efficient cars, and the hue and cry over people that went off the grid, with the attendant attempts to figure out how to charge such people essentially "equivalently," the power company and the tax man will never go away. Essentially, any "savings" will be passed on to government programs and corporate welfare.
 
2013-04-24 12:37:45 AM  

Ringshadow: Oh, and they're poisonous. Let's not forget. They're toxic, they degrade to poisons


And what poisons do the Silicon solar cells that make up the overwhelming percentage of the industry degrade to?  Show your work, please.
 
2013-04-24 12:37:54 AM  
I power my house with hamsters on wheels.
 
2013-04-24 12:38:05 AM  
Hollie Maea:   Hopefully  they'll have enough money to start sending us to those things again soon.

Fingers crossed, on many levels.
 
2013-04-24 12:41:00 AM  

thorthor: More directly, let's have everyone here visit southern WV, Eastern Kentucky, and see what direct burning of coal (still the choice of home heating in many rural areas) looks like. Have you ever been choked by ammonia, fly ash, and charcoal at the same time? Yellow smoke so thick it burns your eyes,clogs your sinuses, and makes you sick too your stomach quicker than cheap tequila. If anyone is brave enough I will personally sponsor all the beer needed for a fark party/ environmental tour of the region, and I guarantee thinking on the benefits/detrimental effects of coal production will be shifted for those who still think coal is the answer.

/I live here
//80% of my power is from coal.
///it sucks..and is killing the earth and the health of my fellow rednecks.
//// too bad most voted for mitt anyway cuz "hurr duurr that negro is gonna take ar gunzz!!!


SO MUCH THIS.

Want to know how awesome solar is, and how shiatty coal is?  Visit a coal-powered power plant.  Then visit a solar rooftop system.
 
2013-04-24 12:41:33 AM  
Rambino:

maxheck: Rambino:

Not being taken advantage of because the utilities hate net metered systems. Undermines their business model completely, and makes them have to think hard about power factors and voltage regulation.


I'm pretty sure that varies from utility to utility, and the political climate chimes in as well.

Here in libby-lib Maryland, Constellation Energy nee BGE is pretty forward looking. They encourage grid-tie, they are all about conservation, all about smart meters, and this doesn't surprise me... I worked contract for their transmission / telecom division for a couple years back in the 90's and there were some very sharp, forward-looking people working for them.

But then I read about how some numbnuts legislator in FL proposed banning leasing solar panels, which *is* a good solution in some instances, and I have to shake my head in bewilderment.

Voltage regulation and phase and whatnot is a pretty minor technical issue anymore. There are panels with microinverters built in that handle that with $2.00 worth of circuitry. My dad is seriously considering a 4KW array and I'm prototyping a 60Hz sine-wave generator circuit so he can use it as emergency power when the grid goes down.
 
2013-04-24 12:42:38 AM  

Hollie Maea: Martian_Astronomer: Hollie Maea: I should clarify that the actual manufacture of silicon cells does contain plenty of nasty acids.  But the nice thing about acid is that after you use them they aren't nasty any more.

If you like having bones, respect the HF.

Yeah that's the scariest stuff we have (well there is some silane gas I would prefer not to light on fire). The floor is covered with calcium gluconate stations.  But we have not had any HF incidents in the years I have been there.  We are pretty careful with that stuff.


In addition to the economic issues inherent in a small startup, another one of the reasons I got out of the particular niche I was in was the fact that I had to work on R&D equipment with Silane, Germane, Arsine, and Phosphine, and I was reluctant to accept the drop in life expectancy inherent in working with those materials on a long timescale. Whenever the fire department came to our lab, I was one of the people who had to put on the air tanks to go in and tell the firemen it was safe to come inside, and I also didn't particularly like working with phosphorous-heavy residue that caught on fire on a weekly basis and spewed arsenic-laced smoke into the room.

Being an EE in the semiconductor industry is both fascinating and hazardous. There are parts of me that really miss it, and parts of me that really, really don't.
 
2013-04-24 12:43:30 AM  

lewismarktwo: tinfoil-hat maggie:
Very true, although I haven't rad anything about the waste from Solar power. IE: discarded panels, manufacturing waste, etc. Granted Nuclear has hot fuel rods that stay hot for a very long time.( That's just my limited knowledge)

[i2.kym-cdn.com image 500x312]


Oops, that was totally unintentional, wait why won't you believe me, I mean Nuclear is proven safe. Way safer than coal, I mean a whole town had to be evacuated because of a coal mine fire, nothing similar has happened because of uranium or plutonium.
/so sorry
 
2013-04-24 12:45:13 AM  

js530: I'm curious on what planet "ability to run without human intervention" is the primary reason for selecting a power source. And if it were, PV still doesn't make sense. So I'll prove it using your 10 year inverter lifetime

The US produces 1250 gigawatt-years in electricity generation. If we assume the average inverter is a generous 10 kW, with a production capacity of 5 kilowatt-year per year (maybe these are all on the equator?), with an average lifetime of 10 years, we need 25 million inverters replaced per year. So assume an inverter can be replaced by a trained electrician in 3 hours. That seems like only 40,000 full-time electricians are needed. Not so bad. But where do these inverters come from? Do electronic components magically solder themselves to a board? Do inverters magically ship themselves? Do the copper transformer windings magically grow from the ground? Are the old inverters biodegradable? There's a reason inverters are multi-kilobuck expensive, and that's because there's a lot of embodied labor, materials, and energy used to manufacture and install. Power electronics, unlike other electronics, don't really benefit from shrinking semiconductor process nodes.


What an odd post.

"Able to run without supervision" is not necessarily the primary reason for selecting a power source.  Nobody said it was.  But it is a darned nice feature.

As to the rest:  Rather than point out all of the individual factual flaws, I will make this observation: Nobody is suggesting that we should immediately replace all generation with today's solar energy. Your "it wouldn't work in a theoretically extreme case therefore it is always bad" argument is inapplicable.
 
2013-04-24 12:47:09 AM  

maxheck: Rambino:

maxheck: Rambino:

Not being taken advantage of because the utilities hate net metered systems. Undermines their business model completely, and makes them have to think hard about power factors and voltage regulation.

I'm pretty sure that varies from utility to utility, and the political climate chimes in as well.

Here in libby-lib Maryland, Constellation Energy nee BGE is pretty forward looking. They encourage grid-tie, they are all about conservation, all about smart meters, and this doesn't surprise me... I worked contract for their transmission / telecom division for a couple years back in the 90's and there were some very sharp, forward-looking people working for them.

But then I read about how some numbnuts legislator in FL proposed banning leasing solar panels, which *is* a good solution in some instances, and I have to shake my head in bewilderment.

Voltage regulation and phase and whatnot is a pretty minor technical issue anymore. There are panels with microinverters built in that handle that with $2.00 worth of circuitry. My dad is seriously considering a 4KW array and I'm prototyping a 60Hz sine-wave generator circuit so he can use it as emergency power when the grid goes down.


You are absolutely right that utilities differ on the issue.  I am just bitter over how some of the utilities in the Southwest are dealing with it right now.  Constellation and Duke are both pretty good.  But Florida...  holy cow.  They have the most oppressive utility regulations of any state, by a wide margin.
 
2013-04-24 12:52:00 AM  
Take a look at a 30 yr old coal miner that looks 65, coughs up black particulate constantly, and is as anorexic as a 18 yr old fashion model. He makes just enough money to provide his family with food, lodging, and enough money to bury him when he dies of blacklung at age 50. Then tell me solar panels are bad to produce because of their chemical make up. Get yer heads outta yr asses.
 
2013-04-24 12:59:43 AM  
Liberals are against corporate welfare... except for all those instances they are not.

Wind and solar receive over double thehandouts per kW of other sources .
 
2013-04-24 01:01:30 AM  
I enjoy coming home each night to my comfy house, and plugging in my electric car:
sphotos-b.xx.fbcdn.net

After I plug in, I check the output on the rooftop solar panels for the day - this evening it was 23 kWh. I'll always double check the voltage of the house battery bank, which are always topped off. Sometimes I'll pop out and see how much the net-meter spun backwards . . . it worked today to have an excess of 15 kwh. Figuring that my car gets 4 miles to the kWh, and I drive 25 miles, the car will take about 7 kWh to fully recharge. That leaves me with ~8 kWh of excess electricity before morning. With a highly efficient, all electric house, that won't be a problem.

Today will be a fully net-solar powered day. I don't buy any gasoline, and I send back excess power during peak loading times for the grid. Power outages are a thing of the past for me. If I wanted to, I could live without the utility. I'm no longer beholden to a corporation to live a comfortable and modern lifestyle.

I can't wait for the day when I can tie my electric car into my current inverter & battery arrangement. With the LEAF as a 24 kWh back-up battery, backing up my house batteries, it could run my home for about 3 days before I would need to fire up the generator for a few hours to recharge everything.

I enjoy coming home to a fully powered home each night, even during power outages. I never worry about the food going bad in my fridge and freezers during an outage. And my garage door always works.

/solar power rocks
//subby
 
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