The insanity of greenery

First, let me say I’m a fan of solar power when done correctly and without financial carrots hung out for electricity generation that entice abuse of the system. I put solar on my own home.

Bishop Hill points out that some solar power installations in Spain were producing power at night.

The SARCLIGHT® - The soon to be patented "solar power at night" arclight system

He writes of what was thought to be a joke:

…The prices paid for green energy were so high that it appeared to be profitable to generate that energy by shining conventionally fuelled arclights on the solar panels.

But finds truth to be stranger than fiction:

Although the exact details are slightly different there is now an intriguing report of the scam in practice. The text is based on a machine translation of the original German text:

After press reports,  it was established during inspections that several solar power plants were generating current and feeding it into the net at night. To simulate a larger installation capacity, the operators connected diesel generators.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” said one industry expert to the newspaper “El Mundo”, which brought the scandal to light. If solar systems apparently produce current in the dark,  will be noticed sooner or later. However, if  electricity generators were connected during daytime, the swindle would hardly be noticed.

As I said last time around, this is the insanity of greenery.

Here is the Google Translation of the article.

You too can generate energy with your solar system at night, all you need is an 850 million candlepower WWII era searchlight, now available for rent.

Hey, it’s not crazy. There are so many fees, taxes, add ons, etc to power bills here in California now it is actually cheaper to generate your own electricity running a diesel generator than it is to buy it from PG&E. Anyone have a used diesel-electric locomotive I can buy?


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150 thoughts on “The insanity of greenery

  1. Any diesel-electric locomotive old enough to be for sale would probably be using a generator and generating direct current, so figure the cost of converting DC to AC into your calculations. However, if that isn’t cost effective the diesel locomotive division of General Motors produces large skid-mounted systems which are ready to go, generate AC power and aren’t well-used hauling freight cars, which does put a lot of stress on the locomotive.

  2. Is this the column you meant to run on April 1st?

    Yeah, I know, it’ll be coming our way soon.

  3. Hook up a belt to a stationary bicycle and generator and put the pedal to the metal. I heard tell it makes some people a bit cranky.

  4. Anthony,
    Its actually a German article about a project in Spain.

    “Vertigo, with solar power in Spain busted” (google translate of title)

    Does not really matter, the point is exactly the same, lots of money floating around = lots of room for fraud, and no one is asking questions.

    JT

  5. My favorite appliances are solar powered flashlights. They work best when the sun is shining brightly.

    For those people who don’t have the luxury of bright sunshine to illuminate their flashlight, they can purchase a mechanical flashlight which recharges by winding or shaking. Then they don’t have to wait for the sun to come out before they can have light.

  6. stevengoddard (19:10:57)–

    Instead of one of those solar devices, when I was a kid visiting family back in NJ, we would catch about a 100 fireflies and put them in a jar, then give it a shake. Worked pretty good. Let the flies loose in the morning.

  7. How do they verify that the power is from the solar cells? why not just hook the diesel generator to the grid and CLAIM that it came from one’s solar array?

  8. I hope to be first to say something crazy…

    Wind power when there is no wind…

    Use nuclear to power fans to blow on windmills… With the tax rebate, you will make money… And no CO2.

    What a crazy world we live in

  9. My new home in FL has solar for the pool. Apparently, FL offers $4/watt for new photovoltaic installations, and 1 for 1 credit for backflowing your meter. Limit of $20k/residence. No wonder electricity prices will “necessarily skyrocket”.

  10. Human ingenuity and entrepreneurship as applied to the global warming scare is limited only by human credulity.

    In other words, there are bottomless profits to be had from this rubbish.

  11. I’ve so enjoyed a site where true Science debates freely but wondered, as I read the blogs, when we would get back to the ‘Point’.

    Stewardship is the answer and the technology has been on the books for quite a while thanks to Science and DOE grants.

    The issue isn’t re-tax and spend.

    The issue, taxed since the late ’70s, is to implement the innovation we have already paid for.

    Unless you have a very short attention span, why is solar considered? The issue is energy storage and grid efficiency.

  12. Actually, this is brilliant.

    But instead of just running a diesel generator, I could buy a $5.00 solar cell and use it to control the output of a diesel or coal-fired plant. That way nobody will suspect that my giant field of solar panels is completely fake, and I get to sell cheap coal-fired electricity to the network at heavily subsidized solar prices.

  13. “Anyone have a used diesel-electric locomotive I can buy?”

    Most oil & gas drilling rigs (onshore) are powered by diesel-electric motors – basically are train engines used to run the rig. Might be able to find an old one to power your house + all your neighbors – but they are expensive – I am guessing the payout on that investment would be longer than the payout on solar power .

  14. What a strange and incomprehensible world we live in today. Would someone please tell me why we are pursuing wind and solar again? Why such a literal quixotic venture? Are we hell bent on proving to our ancestors that we can be motivated by an idealism that overlooks practical considerations more than their best work of fiction? We can’t say we weren’t told. Sigh, on to Orwell.

  15. The issue with solar — either On or Off without storage.

    The loons are attempting to use wind to compress air in old mines to deliver peak load the next day. Solar is even worse when compared to the costs for construction – a huge waste of resources.

    Storage is the issue and there are numerous solutions we have already paid for with grants that they fail to implement on our behalf.

    Welcome to Government Science… the ultimate Global Disfunction. : (

  16. another hitch!

    10 April: North County Times: ENERGY: Solar fire raises questions about panel safety
    Building codes leave firefighters unable to fully kill power
    A small house fire caused by a solar panel in San Diego last week exposed a potentially dangerous flaw in the building codes of many cities across California, which is pushing for tens of thousands of homeowners to install the generating systems on their rooftops.
    Experts say that in most cities, installers are not required to place a switch on the roof to cut power from panels in an emergency —- leaving firefighters unable to put out certain fires and helpless to stop dangerous amounts of electricity from flowing along wires as long as the sun is shining..
    Snyder, who has investigated electrical fires for 25 years, said he’s seen 50 solar-fed fires like this one, and on five occasions there was major damage….
    In the meantime, Pavis said she isn’t sure if she wants to continue being a solar guinea pig.
    “I had them cut all the wires to both of the panels right now until we find out what the heck is going on,” she said. She said it had been a stressful day. “It wasn’t fun.”

    http://www.nctimes.com/business/article_8a32fb03-9e3f-58ca-b860-9c7fe1e28c7e.html

  17. It will be this way for some time. Yes, the sun and wind are free. No, the application isn’t. We still can’t store AC power. One loses so much power in conversion from AC to DC and then back to AC that it isn’t even a viable alternative today. And that still doesn’t mention the ability to even store such power. It’s not like we’ve a giant battery that we can stick in the ground. No such mechanism exists!!! (As mentioned above, there are some compressed air places, but again, it isn’t viable.) Then, we have to think of redundancy. We can’t mandate the wind to blow nor the sun to shine, so we need a backup. One that is available 24/7. Further, it must have the ability to be powered up on demand. One can’t wait for the coals to warm. Nuclear is out of the question because the power output requires preset determinations before bringing online. So, the redundancy must be generated by the higher cost fuel, gas. Given that it is redundant in every way, in terms of transmission construction, and all the aforementioned, it’s probably more efficient to power the solar panels with diesel generated electricity. And just we I thought the world couldn’t get anymore dumber……..I am truly amazed.

  18. lol, the beer is really getting to me tonight…….we I, should read……well, one or the other…..hahahaha

  19. I have to admit, I’m a fan –as polls of Americans have consistently shown– of “all of the above” thinking re energy independence.

    Government subsidy will *always* introduce some weirdness in the short term. Eh, okay, it happens. To me, it’s more important to monitor what happens in the longer term.

    I’m a “lukewarmist”. Take that prediliction into account. I’m very much a fan of not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good in shorter time-frames. This means, to me, that econmic weirdness can be tolerated in the short term, but you have to monitor it in the longer term and act accordingly if the situation doesn’t improve.

  20. The Law of Unintended Consequences – this is something often discussed in economics. I’m not sure, now that I think about it, if this was ever really formalized but it’s at least a good rule of thumb. There is always someone crafty enough to exploit a loophole in the system – it’s economic efficiency in action… and as soon as someone plugs hole A someone else will find hole B. It’s a lot like spam when you think about it – when there’s a buck to be made, someone is going to go for it.

    An easier way to do this is just to feed power from a regular grid connection back through the solar connection – instant “green energy”

  21. Ontario, Canada will be a prime location for such gaming of the rebates. They recently announced the following feed-in tariffs for renewables (by the way, basic electricity rates are only 6 – 8 cents/kWhr, thanks to the current generation mix of hydro, nuclear and coal)-

    # Less than 10 kW – 80.2 ¢/kWh
    # 10 – 100 kW – 71.2 ¢/kWh
    # 100-500 kW – 63.5 ¢/kWh

    What a remarkable opportunity for government-sanctioned theft from your taxpaying neighbors.

    http://www.morgansolar.com/blog/2009/03/13/new-ontario-feed-in-tariff-rates-for-solar-energy/

  22. Amazing we can get all of this hyper-silliness, but we can’t get a proper grammar check.
    Ya know, most electrical distribution systems in the U.S. today use a “Y” configuration(as opposed to a delta), where a “return” or “ground” line is utilized. If our resources were truly in peril, and the need for additional electricity wasn’t a manufactured difficulty, then there would probably be a way to utilize the current infrastructure that already has power RUNNING DOWN A LINE!!!!! But, that’s only if someone really gave a rat’s ass.

  23. My brother gave me a tip a few years ago, that the best deal on diesel powered generators was DOD Surplus sales. Many of the generator were from de-commissioned missile sites. The generators were used for back up power and the only time they were run was the weekly test runs for a few minutes to charge the batteries. These generators had 100s hours on them, and they were designed for over a 10,000 hours at medium speed.

    According to my brother who was in the diesel repair business, the Air Force was changing our these generators every ten years regardless of the hours. Most have a run time meter, so you can check the remaining life. We looked into getting a large one to power the neighborhood, but noise became the issue.

    I decided on a small Kabota that could power up our house during an emergency power outage. We have used it during the Governor Brown Brownouts and when the snow and falling trees take down the power lines for a few days. I will have to look into using my diesel to offset my power usage during the new high rate periods.

  24. It is possible (though the outlay would be costly) to recapture wasted street light. The closer you get to the light, the smaller the outlay and higher the capture.
    It would be better, and most likely cheaper, to install a timer to switch off every other light in the wee hours.
    Explore the possibilities.

  25. “… I’m a fan of solar power when done correctly and without financial carrots …”

    The Fat Spaniel tracking page for The Little Chico Solar Project at http://www.chicousd.org/dna/little_chico_creek/Solar_Energy_Project.html shows it produced 269 kWh today, maybe $30-$40 worth.

    http://www.getsolar.com/blog/solar-panels-finally-popular-enough-to-steal/899/ “Only 17 of the 46 panels were recovered … represented only about 1/15th of the total installed capacity at the Little Chico Creek School”

    How many solar panels are actually installed at Little Chico? How much did the entire system cost? What was the dollar value of the financial carrots from California taxpayers and US federal taxpayers?

  26. James Sexton (20:29:02) :

    A 90 year old man who spent most of his life studying told me that he had the solution: Pump water up hill using solar or other non-fossil fuels in the day, release it during the night to regenerate the power and release it to the grid.

  27. Someone said earlier, coal fired wind farms. Already being done. Since the wind farms need an electrical backup, don’t be surprised to discover the backup is coal generated.

  28. Something’s fishy.
    Electricity to light and back is about 1% efficient, at best. I have a hard time imagining that the solar subsidy could be anywhere near large enough to make this plan work.

  29. I just don’t see the sense in buying a used diesel locomotive to run a spot light to power a solar panel. Diesel locomotives aren’t just noisy, they stink and they are ugly, and this approach is outside the spirit of the program.

    Instead, I think you should buy a used fighter jet. Mount the solar panels on the jet and then follow the Sun, legit solar power 24 x 7. You can land every so often and drop off the charged batteries and pick up another set. Way more cool than a diesel locomotive and I promise the whole neighbourhood will suddenly be your pals. Just don’t let ‘em drive.

  30. In former East Germany, to fill the gap in everyday demand, peasants were motivated to sell eggs, fruits, vegetables to a state-owned store. Got paid a subventioned price, then stepped in the same store through the front door and bought the their stuff back at a quarter of the price they’ve got paid minutes ago. In ’89 I thought these crazy times were gone for ever.
    Wrong.
    Producing solar power on your rooftop in sunny Germay today gets paid approx. 40 and 50 Eurocent per kWh. Guaranteed for 20 years.

    Glad it’s not a German desease. However, Germans are always concerned that the poor pay for the wealthy somehow, but this is the biggest move-money-from-low-income-households-to-more-wealthy-households program I have seen.
    Installed by social-democrats and greens, called a success story.

  31. R. Craigen (19:18:30) :

    “How do they verify that the power is from the solar cells? why not just hook the diesel generator to the grid and CLAIM that it came from one’s solar array?”

    Think the meter reader would miss the quite hum of a locomotive in your backyard, with the three 4 inch black cables going to the huge meter?

  32. Using an arc light to power a solar array, and here I thought the discussions of the first law of thermodynamics was heated over the viability of hho generators for cars.

  33. It just keeps getting worse!

    I’m sure as long as the appropriate carbon offset payments or carbon taxes or carbon tithes or whatever are paid to the appropriate people then the appropriate peer reviewed consensus would agree that diesel powered solar power will indeed save us from the planetary fever.

    Simon Filiatrault’s suggestion (19:22:03) to use nuclear power to blow air at windmills is also double-good although it would be more efficient and double-green just to power the windmills directly.

    We are at war with climate change. We have always been at war with climate change. We must not ask questions in a time of war.

  34. rbateman (20:58:26) :

    James Sexton (20:29:02) :

    “A 90 year old man who spent most of his life studying told me that he had the solution: Pump water up hill using solar or other non-fossil fuels in the day, release it during the night to regenerate the power and release it to the grid.”

    Beautiful idea!!! But would it work on a large scale as a substitute for our traditional energy? In some places, perhaps. The problem is, your max demand, typically, is during the day. Further, you still have the “sun shining all the time” problem. Remember, AC power is immediate. It cannot be stored.

    A man nearing retirement. who spent his whole life working as a lineman, recently told me(2 years ago), “our world would be a lot easier if we figured out how to put that stuff(paraphrased) in a bottle.” (referring to AC power) I truly believe, that is where our focus should be. If and when that happens, then all of my stated problems regarding wind/solar/storage/peak….ect, go away.

  35. I thought some solar panels could produce electricity at night time, they harness cosmic rays striking the panel??

  36. Just the other day a friend was telling me of a new plant that they built here in the UK. All built to the new regs and very green including a large wind turbine, and minimal concrete. Lots of glass and steel.

    Except that the turbine has been dismantled as it cost more in power & maintenance to keep it running than was generated. As to the super energy efficient building: with so much glass the inside gets so hot that they have to turn up the ac, resulting in much larger electric bills.

    Madness.

  37. rbateman (20:58:26) :

    James Sexton (20:29:02) :

    A 90 year old man who spent most of his life studying told me that he had the solution: Pump water up hill using solar or other non-fossil fuels in the day, release it during the night to regenerate the power and release it to the grid.

    ———

    By far the best way to do it if you’ve got a hill or tower big enough. The other option for solar would be to go solar thermal and use molten salts to retain enough heat to keep generating power through the night. In fact that’s what I thought this piece was about before I started reading. Off hand I don’t know what the efficiencies of solar thermal are though.

  38. Mods, I noticed my comment is still pending approval – if it’s because of the “an easier way” comment feel free to snip it – no harm no foul.

    We don’t need Anthony or WordPress getting in trouble for hosting instructions on how to break the law. Sorry if I caused any heartburn.

    As always, you guys are all doing an amazing job – thanks for all you do : )

  39. We don’t see that much sunshine so I’m thinking of buying a solar panel that runs on fairy dust. The drawback is, the little winged buggers are hell to catch…

  40. If you have solar panels don’t you already have DC to AC converters?
    What about storage batteries? No one ever talks about the cost of these items. Just the cost of the panels.

  41. The UK is embarking on a massive crop of expensive offshore windmills. Apart from the capital investment, the cost and inefficiency of moving electrical current over or under the sea into the grid is prohibitive.

    I’m baffled why they don’t use the power generated to manufacture hydrogen for fuel cells on site. There’s plenty of H2O to crack right there, and plenty of current or soon-to-be redundant platforms to host the process. There are even pipelines laying around which could be adapted (mild steel is eroded by hydrogen) to shift product on-shore. Transient gusts and calm periods would matter less for manufacturing than they do when trying to manage them live on the grid.

    Regardless of AGW mysticism we shall need to diversify from carbon fuels. Forget batteries, hydrogen is the obvious fuel replacement for gasoline. Offshore wind farm development can then be grown to meet the developing hydrogen infrastructure.

    Just my 2c

  42. I memory serves me right those locomotive engines are 2 cycle diesels. Not real efficient but lots of power. You might think that somebody in the neighborhood would notice the diesel smoke and complain.

    Also I was wondering a while back about the compressed air idea except using pipelines instead of abandoned mines. I realize there is a huge energy difference between nat gas and compressed air…but…we store lots of nat gas in pipelines and pull off what ever we need during times of peak demand. Couldn’t you do the same thing with compressed air? Here in MN we are having a huge debate about a new power line program called Capx2020. This is going to be a series of high voltage lines running all the way from North and South Dakota, thru Wisconsin and on to Chicago. What if you used pipelines instead? Could you generate enough air pressure and volume to run a generator hundreds of miles away instead of using high voltage lines. At least pipelines are out of sight for the most part. Not to mention that hot air balloning would be alot safer..

    Can anybody here do that math?

  43. Ron Pittenger (19:01:55) :

    Is this the column you meant to run on April 1st?

    You should laugh, April 1st was when this insanity (FIT) was launched in the UK.

    The scheme here gives you 4x the going (grid) rate for your ‘solar’ power. There don’t seem to be any checks and balances in place. Just register your solar array and collect the cash. With incoming at electricity at 12p and outgoing at 41p What could go wrong?

    The current ‘opposition’ party, far from rushing to scrap the scheme, has promised to expand it about ten fold! Can’t imagine why though.

    More laughably all this comes at a time when our thieving politicians are talking about inevitable cuts in public spending after the election. Presumably 10′s of billions in subsidies (for this scheme alone) isn’t real money and so won’t be exempt.

    The UK will likely become the worlds first economy where the entire population is employed and rewarded from a complex web of green scams.

    As a sceptic I will probably be sent to a re-education camp and retrained as paperwork falsifier.

    I despair, April 1st just isn’t funny any more.

  44. I am currently designing a home for an electrical engineer – and – he has expressly requested No PV panels and No LED lighting.

    According to my client – the manufacture, life expectancy and disposal costs of PV panels and required accessories – results in a NET Negative in terms of environmental costs and actual money. (Scamsudies notwithstanding)

    They may be fun to play with, but they are not realistic yet.

    LED’s are similarly overpriced and unstable per my client.

    My client is intrigued with VU1Corp bulbs.
    ___________________________________________

    However, I do see the irony in scamming the system using Diesel, Coal or what the heck, lets build a really big fake solar system and power it up with Nukes.

    (Geothermal? – anyone)

  45. rbateman (20:58:26) :

    James Sexton (20:29:02) :

    A 90 year old man who spent most of his life studying told me that he had the solution: Pump water up hill using solar or other non-fossil fuels in the day, release it during the night to regenerate the power and release it to the grid.

    The Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric scheme discharges water during the day to generate electricity and returns some of the water at night using gas fired pumps. Apparently the economics of this arrangement are OK. Power is produced by water at peak times and water is returned off-peak.

    At (20:54:53) you mention It is possible (though the outlay would be costly) to recapture wasted street light. The closer you get to the light, the smaller the outlay and higher the capture.
    Now if that capture involved capturing wasted light escaping to space, now that would be interesting! A PV hood over the top of each street light ,but the efficiencies here are getting very low.

  46. I once started writing a story which starts: “And the pigs turned to all the animals and said: ‘we have made mistakes, from now on animal farm will be a democracy and you can all vote for whichever pig you like to run the farm’”.

    And central to my animal farm was a wind turbine (to replace the old windmill) which the animals work so hard to build and which eventually stands there turning day and night, night and day, through wind rain, snow and calm.

  47. @James Sexton (20:29:02)

    The UK has a couple of pumped storage schemes which still produce useful amounts of “peak” electricity. Built (at huge cost) to ensure a reasonable degree of reliability in the National (electricity) Grid. Those were the days.

    http://www.fhc.co.uk/ffestiniog.htm

    http://www.fhc.co.uk/dinorwig.htm

    There have been studies looking at using old coal mine workings (of which we have a good supply in the UK) together with a surface reservoir, hydraulic turbines to generate electricity from dropping water into the mine and bird choppers to pump it back out again (when the wind’s blowing).

    The potential energy of thousands of cubic meters of water and a hole a thousand meters deep is highly significant!

    Biggest problem is stopping the energy NOT captured by the hydraulic turbine from destroying the bottom of the shaft and the old workings.

  48. feed in tariffs in italy will pay around 45 eurocents per kwh, versus an average cost of grid electricity of +/- 16 eurocents kwh.

    i have calculated that a household of 2 people will consume around 800 euro of electricity a year, however, if a PV system large enough to produce the full amount of electricity the household uses is installed, the family will RECEIVE 800 euro/year. talk about miracles. it was just a matter of time before people would realize that there is a very good business case for frauds.

  49. Sinking turbines blow ill wind across offshore energy sector

    Hundreds of offshore wind turbines could be suffering from a design flaw that makes them sink into the sea.

    Energy company engineers are urgently investigating the extent to which their offshore wind farms are affected, after flaws were discovered on a Dutch wind farm last autumn.

    The problem could cost £50 million, said Renewables UK,

    http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/natural_resources/article7096654.ece

  50. James Sexton:
    “It’s not like we’ve a giant battery that we can stick in the ground. No such mechanism exists!!!”

    Well, there’s the gravel pit concept, where you use “excess” power to run a heat pump to suck heat from one pit of gravel and pump it into another pit of gravel. When you need the stored power, the concept is reversed and the pump becomes a generator working on the difference in temperatures between the pits. Both pits live underground, are heavily insulated, have few moving parts and need no high investment of energy to make them in the first place (unlike solar panels, for example).

    Basically, a big battery you can stick in the ground.

  51. Apparently, in some regions the output of solar farms were up to 65% of all energy put into the net during night hours (pretty efficient solar panels there!)

    Google translation of the original paper from Spain: http://tinyurl.com/y4rsmtx

  52. From the tone of the comments it appears most here are already convinced of the folly of the alternative energy program. If you have yet to be convinced of that folly I recommend reviewing this table from EIA

    http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/epm/table1_1.html

    It shows net generation by source from 1995 to 2009. The Other Renewables column is most pertinent to this discussion. It includes ” [4] Wood, black liquor, other wood waste, biogenic municipal solid waste, landfill gas, sludge waste, agriculture byproducts, other biomass, geothermal, solar thermal, photovoltaic energy, and wind.” Hydro has its own separate column.

    Despite the billions ratholed to inflate this sector, it has managed to grow from 2.2% in 1995 to 3.5% in 2009, a number that was only achieved because total generation declined by 200 million MWhrs from the peak in 2007 presumably due to the big downturn in the economy.

    Those who have suggested pumped storage as being of possible value may want to note that the contribution from that sector has been negative for every year of the record.

    The growth that did occur in the OR sector has been mostly from wind turbines, but given the way these blights on the landscape have proliferated in the last decade, imagine what the country would look like with 20 times more of them, which would be the minimum necessary to achieve the least ambitious of the politician’s goals i. e. 20% of generation fro renewables by year xxxx. And that is without allowing for a big spike in demand if they succeed in bribing a sufficient number of people into electric cars.

  53. Strange stuff indeed.

    These sort of shenanigans were cunningly envisaged up by Lord Turnbull speaking in the UK House or Lords in an older WUWT post.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/12/10/climategate-reaches-the-british-house-of-lords/

    Paragraph 14 or there abouts.

    “My electricity costs me 11p per kilowatt hour. If I erected a wind turbine, I could sell the power I produced to the grid for a whopping 23p. I think I would go out and buy a gizmo which linked my inward meter to my outward meter.”

  54. Surprise surprise! The industry games the system when green energy subsidies are too high. In order to protect taxpayers, European governments will need to add a whole new layer of bureaucracy to police wind farms and solar facilities. And each green energy company will need to hire an under-qualified and over-paid Vice President in Charge of Going to Jail.

  55. I agree that this is the tip of the ‘green iceburg’

    As an electrical engineer I can suggest that the biggest scam is probably much simpler. You could connect a suitable DC switch-mode rectifier to your mains and pump the DC output directly back into your Grid-Connected inverter. The inverters usually have a few spare input feeds available so it would be a very simple exercise. Down here in Australia we pay around 6 cents per kw/h at night but receive 60 cents per kw/h for power we return to the grid, so this could be very profitable.

    To me, the biggest issue with solar is that it provides little CO2 benefit for countries using coal fired power stations. This is because the peak demand period extends to 8pm at night, at which time there is no real solar benefit, and since the coal stations take up to 24 hours to reach full capacity they will still need to burn at full power for the solar shortened peak period. Gas power stations are apparantly better in this regard but the best of all is Nuclear, which can be turned up and down in almost real time to adjust for variation in green energy outputs such as wind or solar.

    fyi – I have installed a 3kw system on my roof, but only to reduce my bill as it will do little to reduce the CO2 output of our coal powered energy supply.

  56. So far nobody has come up with a device to harness the “backradiation” illustrated as having a value of 324W/m2 as against a puny 168 W/m2 for solar radiation in IPCC documents.
    Enthusiasts for back radiation tell me that there are very high readings at night as well Some sceptics however think that it is all just to good to be true!

  57. I once had a tutor who was a world expert on solar power, he confided to me that “The only profitable thing to do with solar power is to write books about it”. It seems he may have been wrong.

    BTW, when they close or upgrade a telephone exchange, BT often give away well maintained, lightly used diesel generator sets. I don’t understand why they have no second hand value, but they have nowhere to store them for future re-use and its cheaper than paying someone to take them for scrap. I understand that many of the diesels end up driving boats in the developing world.

  58. The sums don’t add up for using artificial light – the product of the efficiencies for Elec to light to elec is less than the ratio of £/kWh bought to £/kWh sold. Marginal using generators on the UK rate. A direct shunt from one supply line to another could work but I guess this is not that different to bypassing the meter which goes on anyway. Battery storage buying at night selling in the day could work and could be argued as a desirable outcome to provide peak load smoothing and capacity management on the grid. Don’t know how the figures work out on batteries. I’d guess a bit of intelligence in the invertors/meters and the panels should be able to prevent all but the most determined scammers.

  59. Further to the comments of 3×2 at 23.10.40 there is even more to the scam than that.

    Those who sign up are paid 41p for electricity that they put back into the grid, or are paid!! 36p for the electricity generated and used by themselves. These prices are indexed linked and guaranteed for twenty five years and they are offered a grant and I believe, very favourable interest rates. The main reason that they have to offer such a high tariff is that solar power from PVs offers such a low return, especially in the UK. They will likewise do absolutely nothing to solve the energy deficit. In mid winter, peak demand is going to occur when these things are producing next to nothing, i.e. when it is dark or typically cold, wet and overcast. What absolute nonsense from our politicians.

    I am sickened that the Government can offer these incentives. They are prepared to pay a rate which is about 15 times the generation costs of gas turbine power plants and all because they have failed to take action to bring new capacity on line in time before the EU forces us to shut down ageing and “dirty” plants. These politicians have not got the sense to tell the EU where to get off, or to pay the penalty for retaining old plants, or to quickly build a few more gas plants, which would be needed under their plans anyway to provide back up for the ridiculous numbers of windmills that they intend to install.

    I am equally sickened by all these people who are taking advantage of the scheme, such as the typical left wing liberal elitist Guardian reader (The Guardian have already promoted the scheme) and even a rich friend of mine, who are quite prepared to screw those less fortunate than themselves. All this has to be paid for with increased fuel bills, so these people are stealing from the poor and the pensioners already in fuel poverty. With a twenty five year life of the scheme, they are even stealing from people who have not yet even been born.

  60. stevengoddard (19:10:57) :
    (…)
    For those people who don’t have the luxury of bright sunshine to illuminate their flashlight, they can purchase a mechanical flashlight which recharges by winding or shaking. Then they don’t have to wait for the sun to come out before they can have light.

    A good friend of my mother sent her an inexpensive “shaker” flashlight. I looked it over, noticed the plunger was actually a crudely sheared-off steel slug… and the little circuit board wasn’t populated… and a clip on the other side of the board held two coin-sized lithium batteries… Works great! Lights right up whenever she needs it!

    ================

    MattB (21:11:19) :

    Using an arc light to power a solar array, and here I thought the discussions of the first law of thermodynamics was heated over the viability of hho generators for cars.

    Back in the ancient days of muscle cars and the initial worries about better mileage in the late 1970′s – early 1980′s, they had water injection systems, a fine mist going into the engine intake that allegedly cooled the chamber and generated better performance and mileage by converting heat into expanding water vapor, plus some extra lubrication benefits. Major drawback was piston rings and valve seals are not absolute, high-pressure chamber gases escape and get into the oil thus excess water would accumulate in the oil.

    Today’s engines are engineered to run hotter for better emissions and efficiency, anything that results in chamber cooling will irritate those sensitive electronic controls. So the HHO generators simply break down the water beforehand using alternator current, and the water is reformed in the chamber upon combustion. There may be something to it, you may get some better numbers, but you still end up with excess water in the oil and related maintenance problems.

  61. Are ALL our governments trying to bankrupt themselves?

    With subsitites in place, there is absolutely no reason to look at new development or even encourage any. Many manufacturers of these junk products, they love this.
    The actual efficiency of any one of these devices is less than 2% at peek running due to being designed for BULK harvesting. Not efficient harvesting.

    Our oceans carry a massive amount of stored energy through pressure. If you figure out how to break the water holding bond then cheap energy.
    Atmospheric pressure, we have silos that can generate a good amount of wind.

    Green would be a good concept if figured out properly and not greedily.
    I have seen tinted windows on office buildings that the sun NEVER shines on.

    Efficient? Ya….right.

  62. Here’s another “Dark Side” story. The truth about Brazils sugarcane ethanol industry:

    http://www.dtnprogressivefarmer.com/dtnag/common/link.do?symbolicName=/ag/blogs/template1&blogHandle=ethanol&blogEntryId=8a82c0bc268be2db0127f7c5788f11de&showCommentsOverride=false

    The Dirty Underside of Brazil’s Clean Energy Revolution

    While Brazilian sugarcane ethanol has a leg-up on corn ethanol in U.S. federal and state-level low-carbon fuel standards, Foreignpolicy.com in Washington, D.C. said the Brazilian industry has its share of environmental and other problems that have gone largely unnoticed.

    Most notably, Foreignpolicy.com said sugarcane ethanol produced with crops grown in Brazil’s Atlantic rainforest have led to “deforestation and, paradoxically, more carbon emissions.”

    Brazil has lost about 93 percent of the Atlantic rainforest there is just a small remnant of it remaining today.

    Foreignpolicy.com said Brazil’s sugarcane ethanol industry the Atlantic rainforest, which is home to tens of thousands of plant and animal species.

    “Despite the hellish conditions for the workers, ethanol has been able to sell itself to the public on its ability to reduce carbon emissions,” Foreignpolicy.com said.

    Brazilian ethanol raises other greenhouse gas emissions issues.

    The industry uses more than 240,000 tons of nitrogen fertilizer a year.

    In addition when cane is cut by hand controlled fires are used in fields to smoke out razorsharp leaves, snakes and tarantulas.

    The burnings pollute the air with soot release methane and nitrous oxide.

  63. O’Success = O’Failure = Insanity.

    O’s AGW-Nuke Deal = n’O Deal x 2.

    1. n’O Nuke Deal:

    “Both Obama and Harper described the summit as a success despite the fact that it concluded without a formal or binding deal requiring states to secure their nuclear materials.”

    http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/Politics/2010/04/13/13567696-qmi.html

    …-

    2. n’O AGW Deal:

    “UN climate chief: new deal ‘out of reach for 2010′

    With a little over a year until the Kyoto Protocol expires, the United Nations’ climate chief has warned that a new deal is still a long way off. The first global climate talks since last year’s near-fiasco in Copenhagen were held at the weekend in Germany and afterwards, UN climate negotiator Yvo de Boer bluntly confirmed a new deal was out of reach for this year.”

    http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/connectasia/stories/201004/s2871136.htm

    http://www.smalldeadanimals.com/mt/mt-comments.cgi

  64. More “two birds, one stone” Green Logic:

    New hydroelectric solution: Dump seawater into old mines.

    We have very deep old mines below relative sea level. We just need a pipeline to get the water to a mine, where it will flow through a water turbine and generate power. The pipeline can run over land, just need to “prime the pump” to start the flow, have the discharge at a lower level than the intake, and a normal siphon effect will take care of the rest.

    Free electricity, and it will help out on that pesky sea level rise problem. Win-win!

  65. kadaka (05:05:37) :
    What chu try’n to do man?
    That there’s my drink’n water you’re pollut’n.

  66. There are a lot of states that now offer some form of “net metering” so that residential solar installations can sell excess power back to the grid. Each state program stipulates the total amount of power that a single residential customer can sell back to the grid and whether the power company must pay the retail or wholesale price, etc. In this area, New Jersey is considered to be the most progressive net metering state because enrollment is unlimited and the total individual generating limit is 2 MW (which seems quite reasonable!):

    http://www.dsireusa.org/incentives/incentive.cfm?Incentive_Code=NJ03R&state=NJ

    Another interesting thing about New Jersey is that it has some of the cheapest fuel prices in the nation:

    http://gasbuddy.com/gb_gastemperaturemap.aspx

    I haven’t done the math on this because I don’t know how much the wholesale electricity rates are in NJ but it would be interesting to figure out if an efficient diesel (or natural gas burning) generator could make a profit under NJ’s net metering scheme. The only major drawback to this idea is that you’d have to live in New Jersey.

  67. kadaka (05:05:37) :

    You don’t think a trillion gallons a day enough to get out of the eco-system?
    Bottled, bagged, canned and producing products, along with pumping it into the ground for oil. Millions of miles of trapped water in pipes and towers along with pools with sludge on top to hinder evaporation.

    Is it a wonder that predicting weather is so difficult when we change our own environment around us that used to be swampland?

  68. Another law of unintended consequence here is that these government programs have essentially ensured prices will remain high for solar panels and there is little (no?) incentive for the manufacturer’s to improve efficiency.

    Richard111
    Most new solar installations are what they call grid-tied. The panels tie into an inverter which hook into the grid – no batteries required. You can still have batteries in a system like this as a UPS, but you can do that without the solar panels. The only time you have to have batteries with solar now is for a home not connected to the grid.

  69. My father bought old generators from drilling rigs. He ran his on natural gas as part of agreement to drill on his property was free NG from the well. I don’t think they ever expected him to use generators. He never pushed power back to the grid, and had to keep a few things running on the meter.

  70. ******
    13 04 2010
    GregO (19:18:55) :

    Diesel powered solar panels – what’s next; coal fired wind turbines?
    ******

    That might not be so far-fetched. While traveling during late summer in W Pennsylvania on the PA turnpike, we stopped on the road very near a wind-farm. There wasn’t a breath of wind. Most of the pinwheels weren’t turning, but a couple were turning merrily around.

    Amazing. There wasn’t a breath of wind on the ground very near them. A few low clouds above were almost stationary. I can’t say for certain, but it seemed these were actually motoring — drawing electricity to turn.

  71. The Solar/Green Experiment in Spain has been a huge BUST!

    Read….

    Study Finds That Every “Green Job” Created In Spain Resulted In 2.2 Other Jobs Being Destroyed

    “The loss of jobs could be greater if you account for the amount of lost industry that moves out of the country due to higher energy prices,” Dr., Calzada said recently in an interview with Bloomberg News.

    Ironically, as noted recently by the Institute for Energy Research, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) has calculated that Spain’s annual emissions of carbon dioxide have increased by nearly 50 percent since the launch of the subsidized “green jobs” program.

    “The price of a comprehensive energy rate, paid by the end consumer in Spain, would have to be increased 31 percent to begin to repay the historic debt generated by this rate deficit mainly produced by the subsidies to renewables, according to Spain’s energy regulator. Spanish citizens must therefore cope with either an increase of electricity rates or increased taxes (and public deficit), as will the U.S. if it follows Spain’s model,” the study found.

    Read more:

    http://www.westernroundtable.net/mail/util.cfm?gpiv=2100037119.11869.40&gen=1

    http://www.juandemariana.org/pdf/090327-employment-public-aid-renewable.pdf

    Is this what we want for our country????

    JT

  72. Man mandated intervention. The fires in the cane fields before the sugar cane harvest cracks me up. It must get nasty in the head of a greenie weenie to see all the smoke before the clear ethanol is produced. The burnings are part of the calculation of emissions by ethanol whether they want to ignore them or not.

  73. Anthony,

    Once again, you make mention of your novel approach to solar power. Clearly you have uncovered some secret that DOE and, more to the point, all known energy/utility companies have failed to address. May I suggest that you produce a manifesto that can be shared with the ignorant masses? Clearly, you are sitting on knowledge which could be both personally and professionally rewarding.

    I ask this of you because I am one of the “nitwits” falling prey to the “industry scheme” of “Green Logic”. That is, I pay a premium of ~$8.00 a month and in return my electricity comes from the renewable sector. This is primarily wind, but has also been geothermal and hydroelectric when I lived out West.

    Leaving CO2 out of the equation, coal is still the dirtiest fuel known to mankind. The mercury emitted alone is reason enough for me to seek out alternative energy. Coal is the primary source of energy in the country for because it’s cheap. End of story. Coal-fired power plants are paid off and generating 100% profit.

  74. “Lowell (22:58:40) :Also I was wondering a while back about the compressed air idea except using pipelines instead of abandoned mines. (. . .) What if you used pipelines instead? Could you generate enough air pressure and volume to run a generator hundreds of miles away instead of using high voltage lines. At least pipelines are out of sight for the most part. Not to mention that hot air ballooning would be a lot safer..

    Can anybody here do that math?”

    To determine the pressure drop of compressed air, there is a formula here:

    http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/pressure-drop-compressed-air-pipes-d_852.html

    You will need to know the initial pressure, air volume flow, length of pipe, and inside diameter of pipe. There is an online calculator at the above site (for both metric and imperial units).

    There is a caveat for any formula such as this, though. It probably assumes that the air is a certain temperature and humidity, which can change your throughput. Summer and winter will probably see different throughputs.

    Remember, any energy transfer, whether it be over distance or through mechanical means, will see a loss. It is that silly first law of thermodynamics, raising its ugly head. That is the precise reason why we have gasoline-powered cars. Gasoline is a very dense energy source (lots of carbon packed into a small space). Gasoline is easily transported and contained (unlike hydrogen, which seeps out of everything it is put into). Gasoline is quite efficient for the size it takes (unlike batteries, which are heavy and take a lot of space).


  75. I don’t know if anyone has yet made this observation, but Diesel fuel is essentially the same as home heating oil – except for a red coloring agent added by law to the latter.

    With less taxation imposed upon home heating oil, the relative cost of that fuel is much, much lower than the cost of Diesel at the pump. Inspections of commercial Diesel trucks regularly check the fuel tanks for the presence of the red coloring agent, with dire consequences in terms of penalties if this is discovered.

    But if you want to run a stationary Diesel generator, and you have access to #2 home heating oil, it’s doubtful that any inspector is going to be checking the fuel tank of your device.

    Just a little tip to help make life in California perhaps a bit more bearable for those poor bastards who are represented in the U.S. Senate by Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein.

  76. >>>>A 90 year old man who spent most of his life studying told me that he had the solution: Pump water up hill using solar or other non-fossil fuels in the day, release it during the night to regenerate the power and release it to the grid.<<<<

    I'm only 48, but… but I have to say… why not use solar power to pump water up into a water tower… not to convert back to electricity… but for the actual application of a water tower… you know, to store water for personal or municipal use and create water pressure for your plumbing…

    In other words use solar power for applications where it makes sense to use it, not for mass consumpution in power grids.

  77. Just remember,

    The largest most modern solar farm sits on 82 acres of land. I produces 800 mega watts of power. This is just enough energy to run the newest mega computer designed to study climate change with.

    We live in strange times.

  78. Whenever you have an economic system that pays a producer above market rates, you have the potential for this kind of abuse. Heck, you actually guarantee it.

    In the UK, the Feed In Tariff that became operational on 1st April, pays anyone who installs a solar panel on their roof, 45 pence per KhH of electricity fed back into the grid. Those that have bothered to profit by this always buy the cheap electricity from the grid and sell back 100% of their own at the much higher price.

    Yet, I can see an even better scam. Why be content to sell the miserly amount of power that they are able to generate from their solar panels? Wouldn’t it be even better to hook up a diesel generator in parallel with their panels and sell even more elecricity to the hapless consumer?

  79. Al Gore’s Weather (AGW): Ah invented “rumbling” “Rivers” and “the insanity” and “the Eyjafjallajokull glacier could erupt soon, “.

    “Rivers near the glacier have already risen, reports stated.”

    …-

    “Rumbling Iceland Volcano Forces Evacuation Of Hundreds

    Reykjavik, Iceland (AHN) – Authorities in Iceland evacuated approximately 800 people Wednesday because a volcano near the Eyjafjallajokull glacier could erupt soon, according to reports from emergency personnel.

    Crews began evacuating around 2 a.m. (10 p.m. ET Tuesday), reports from the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management stated.

    Chief Inspector of the agency, Rognvaldur Olafsson, said they found the fissure erupting beneath the surface of the glacier. Scientists were surveying the area by air for more details, the inspector reported.

    The eruption so far has created a large crevice in the glacier. Flooding, not lava, is the biggest concern right now in the area.

    Rivers near the glacier have already risen, reports stated.”

    http://www.allheadlinenews.com/articles/7018395876

    http://www.smalldeadanimals.com/mt/mt-comments.cgi

  80. Re: rbateman (20:58:26)

    Even better is the approach of Bellows Falls (VT) Light & Power in the 1930s with their Grandpa’s Knob wind generator. They simply shut the sluice gates on their hydro plant when the wind was blowing and allowed the head to rise in the impoundment. Mother Nature did the rest. Why bother pumping the water uphill? When the wind died down they had all that energy stored that they could use to make electricity with vanishingly small costs to acquire it.

    C. the C.

  81. Not counting fixed service availability charge I pay about $0.11/kwh. If I generate more electricity than I use and feed it back into the grid I get paid $0.035/kwh. I don’t use much electricity and it’s mostly not during the peak generating hours for solar. The cost of the electronics for a grid interconnect is obscene but without it I’d need a bank of batteries to store power for night-time and to see me through cloudy days. That’s so expensive it’s not worth thinking about and lead-acid batteries have a limited lifetime of a few years so a grid interconnect is the only option. I’m in south central Texas which has excellent conditions for solar panels. If Obummer was serious about this he’d turn one of the automakers we now own into a producer of solar panels and grid interconnects so we get some good old fashioned economy of scale going and congress would make a law that all electric companies must accept excess generation and pay for it at the same rate they charge, or at least something more reasonable than 33%. I can see some small offset for delivery charge being fair but in fairness any electricity I generate will be taken up by my neighbors within a few hundred feet of me so it’s not like my juice is going through fifty miles of wire back to the power plant. If these things were done it would be a decent investment. I might even be tempted to invest in a small electric vehicle for all my short distance driving (which is most of my driving) if something along the same lines were done to get some economy of scale in those hideously expensive things.

    These are things I was hoping would change when my ill-advised countrymen decided to put the socialist party in power. So far all they’ve done is taken over some large industries and put them on a track to become even less efficient.

  82. Rbateman
    Ah….But how many deisel powered trucks, will it require, to build the hill (here on the Fens) to pump the water up?

  83. I have no problem with subsidies – but subsidies of a very specific type:

    * subsidise the end user, or as close to the end user as possible;
    * the subsidy has no ‘cost’ associated with it.

    On the first point, the ‘end user’ usage means there is limited capacity for scamming (oh, it’ll exist – you can never get rid of it). The enduser benefits directly and is two fold: you get the supossed benefit of the subsidized item, plus you get the subsidy.

    On the second point, if the subsidized item is truly a desirable thing people will use it and take advantage of the subsidy. If it’s a white elephant, then no-one takes advantage of the subsidy.

    An example is high efficiency windows, or housing construction techniques. These ‘things’ are useful and advantageous to the end user, but are relatively expensive. However, if you use them, as the end user, you gain a rebate for purchasing them to offset your taxes, for example. The tax rebate is your ‘subsidy’ (caveat is that you never get more back than you put in, however).

    A lot of people see these as ‘loopholes’ for the rich, or favors the rich: nothing could be further from the truth (poor people should not be spending $10K on replacing windows in their house). Additionally, the economics effect occurs – as rich people spend money, that money is quite naturally spread to other people.

    (I could probably go on further with this idea – but I’ve found a lot of people get locked into the ‘it’s not fair you are giving stuff to rich people’ mode or the ‘it’s not fair why I can’t have that’ mode, or the ‘you just hate poor people’ mode. Even though I’m currently one of those ‘poor’ people by their measure, yet am able to reduce my consumption/impact, even at my own initial expense and without any kind of subsidy, and still afford all (most) of the things of comfort).

  84. Here in Michigan, ultra-lib Gov. Granholm has installed a law that requires 10% of electricity be from renewable sources. As a practical matter, this means wind and solar. Nuclear would qualify, but high costs and long lead times rule it out because the law takes effect in just a few short years.

    To ramp up, Michigan power companies are letting 10-year contracts to buy solar and wind produced power at rates 5-8 times that currently charged to consumers. This cost is calculated at the source and does not include the cost of transmission to the grid.

    Even at the optimum scenario, 10% of power at 5 times normal yields a net increase of 40% in overall electricity costs, paid either in higher rates or in taxes to the State to be paid in subsidy.

    And you wonder why the economy of Michigan is in the tank.

  85. Marginally OT, but a Northridge, CA company – Capstone Energy makes a nifty little gas turbine generator which will run on methane, nat gas, biofuel, diesel, or propane/butane – $2K/KW with a 30KW minimum. Being in TX, I’m thinking gas well and off the grid for ever!

  86. Tucci (06:44:52) :
    But if you want to run a stationary Diesel generator, and you have access to #2 home heating oil, it’s doubtful that any inspector is going to be checking the fuel tank of your device.

    Wow – haha, another efficiency in action moment… aka law of unintended consequences… aka people will find a loophole and exploit it.

    I’d love to do the numbers on this sometime, just to see how much self-generated electricity using subsidized heating oil vs. electricity from the grid might cost.

    I guess it would also make sense to know what kind of laws one might be breaking by doing this too :)

  87. John from CA (20:21:53) :
    The loons are attempting to use wind to compress air in old mines.

    What? Did Al Gore visit an old mine?

  88. r (07:12:10) :
    Just remember,
    The largest most modern solar farm sits on 82 acres of land. I produces 800 mega watts of power. This is just enough energy to run the newest computer designed to study climate change with.

    That one soundspretty efficient land wise. This one was just built. Apparently we have a lot of extra land here in Kansas!

    Smoky Hills Phase I >
    Project Location:
    West of Salina, Kansas about 20 miles, and just north of Interstate 70 on both sides of Highway 14. The project is located in both Lincoln and Ellsworth Counties.

    Project Interconnection:
    Midwest Energy 230 kV transmission line in Ellsworth, County.

    Project Size (Phase I):
    100.8 MW (Phase II is an additional 150 MWs)

    Project Turbines:
    1.8 MW V80 turbines manufactured by Vestas, with an 80-meter hub height and 80-meter blade diameter.

    Landowners and Acreage Involved:
    Over 30 landowners and 12,000 acres are involved in the project.

    Commercial Operation:
    February 2008.

  89. OceanTwo (08:19:26)
    I’m not disagreeing here, but one thing you didn’t mention – and there is no workaround for this – is that subsidies typically correlate with if not directly cause inflationary pressures on whatever is being subsidized. Increased demand puts an upward pressure on prices after all.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for efficiency and energy efficient upgrades to homes, in particular, are probably the best use of money – it’s almost always cheaper to save 1 kWh of consumption vs. producing an additional kWh – but subsidy regimes rarely deliver good value for the money IMO

  90. Dave Springer
    Just for reference, transmission losses are usually estimated at 7-8% – those high voltage lines are surprisingly efficient.

  91. Concentrating solar thermal can indeed continue to produce power at night – using storage: Abengoa is the company (world leader: Spanish). Spain is far ahead of the US in solar power.

    Solar storage that releases power for about 7 hours after sundown is also being considered in California. Several contracts have been approved by the CPUC and contracts signed with PG&E and a SoCal utility: here’s one company – from ex rocket scientists in the US:

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=ex-united-technologies-rocket-scien-2009-11

  92. Will the nuclear option be prohibited, as a source of energy, because its nuclear fuel could be eventually used by terrorists?

  93. Re: Joe (05:20:02)
    [Green Logic on]
    I don’t see the problem. Ground is amazing for water filtration, anyone with a well and a septic tank system on the same property knows this. Besides, seawater is heavier than fresh water and those mines are rather deep. There would be layering, the water on top would have the least amount of stuff in it (salts, etc), could even qualify as equivalent to normal well water, which does vary in quality an annoyingly large amount. (As the well drillers put it, we’ll drill until we hit water, no guarantee as to the quality and drinkability of said water.) So you take a mine going down a half-mile or more from sea level, fill with seawater, and the wells around it could be drilled about only 400 feet deep from the surface (average-ish here in central Pennsylvania). Shouldn’t be an issue.

    Re: Joe (05:32:25)
    I just saw a figure here the other day, something like 97% of the water on this planet is salty. We won’t be draining off enough from the seas to disturb the saltwater lifeforms, and over time whatever liquid water eventually gets out of the mines will be somewhat filtered with less salinity, thus more usable by freshwater and land-dwelling life.

    Oh, isn’t there a problem with collapsing old mines? Filling them with water, putting more pressure on the surfaces than air alone, should help with that.

    So now we’re up to free electricity, helping with the sea level rise, and preventing mine collapses. Three scores at once, a hat trick!
    [Green Logic off]

  94. Susan Kraemer (09:52:17) :

    “Spain is far ahead of the US in solar power.”
    That is the perfect example of GREEN INSANITY with a record of unemployment caused as a consequence of the green passion of Spain’s leftist government. Spain is already reaching the same levels of deficit as Greece. A real perfect example.

  95. kadaka (10:01:47) : There is something missing in Joe’s idea: It would be better to inject all that water in San Andreas’ fault, so you won’t wait for the Big One any more. Though it may spoil Baby Al’s beach property…hmmm

  96. Re: Tucci (06:44:52)

    I have commented here before about the similarity between #2 heating oil and road diesel, and there likely is a legal method to accomplish the intent of what you said. The state is interested in you paying road taxes for fuel used in vehicles on the road, so to duck them you file paperwork saying the fuel is for off-road only. This is a long-recognized exemption for farm equipment, often used to not have to pay road taxes for gasoline used in agriculture, and often involves having the fuel delivered to a tank on your property.

    Plus there is an issue of possible additives in diesel to make it work better in an engine, as opposed to the rather tame conditions when #2 is burned in a furnace. If you have a new generator under warranty, best not to possibly void that warranty by using #2 if not specifically allowed in writing to use such.

  97. “If you have solar panels don’t you already have DC to AC converters?
    What about storage batteries? No one ever talks about the cost of these items. Just the cost of the panels.
    Richard111 (22:52:34) :”

    Inverter for Grid-Tie purposes $3000 + (converts DC to AC)
    Charge Controller $100 + (charges the batteries)
    Batteries (6V deep cycle) $400 +/each. Number of batteries depend on the voltage system you use.

    I live off grid. I have 18 x 195 watt hi voltage panels at $900 dollars each. 2 passive trackers at $7500 each. 2 MPPT charge controllers at $700 dollars each (one charge controller per 9 panel array). One 48V inverter $4500. 3 banks of 8 batteries/bank @ $400 per battery. (The more banks of batteries the longer their lifespan). Expensive yes, but would have cost me two to three times that amount to bring electric lines to my property.) Finally don’t forget that you have to do monthly maintenance on the batteries.

  98. wsbriggs (08:38:05) :

    Sounds awfully expensive per kilowatt. I have a 20 Kw Cummings Onan backup generator that cost $0.50 per Kw.

  99. beng (05:55:53) :

    Amazing. There wasn’t a breath of wind on the ground very near them. A few low clouds above were almost stationary. I can’t say for certain, but it seemed these were actually motoring — drawing electricity to turn.

    This is a fairly common occurrence. Wind turbines are of necessity tied into the power grid and are equipped to disconnect when they stop producing usable power, but from what I’ve seen these disconnects are one of the more common failures of the many that wind systems seem to be prone to. If you have any doubts about what you are observing, turbines that are motoring will be rotating backwards.

  100. ” NickB. (08:50:22) :
    [...]
    Wow – haha, another efficiency in action moment… aka law of unintended consequences… aka people will find a loophole and exploit it.

    I’d love to do the numbers on this sometime, just to see how much self-generated electricity using subsidized heating oil vs. electricity from the grid might cost.”

    A trend towards microgeneration as it is called is already being recognized by energy research institutes at universities; it is estimated that in about 5 or 10 years large numbers of microgeneration installations will be rolled out. Japan is subsidizing fuell cells for microcogeneration (heat + electricity for a household) to develop a product for the international market, 5000 of these things are installed already. BBC reported.

    So it’s not as anarchistic as some might think; big industry is already developing products for this market. The Bloom box is another one. Of course it sails under the banner of reducing CO2.

    Here’s a report:

    http://www.ciobinternational.org/news/view/1720

  101. enneagram (09:58:39) :
    Will the nuclear option be prohibited, as a source of energy, because its nuclear fuel could be eventually used by terrorists?

    Check out the Union of Concerned Scientists (yup, the same club Bill Nye is in) site for the background on this. Nuclear power is not their complaint when it comes to proliferation – they have plenty of other objections, see here – the proliferation concern is around “reprocessing”

    Note: they don’t call it “recycling”, which it is, because “recycling” is good and “reprocessing” is bad:

    Dangerous Nuclear Reprocessing Plan Curtailed
    Solid UCS research and the involvement of thousands of UCS activists helped strike a major blow to the Bush administration proposed Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) program, an ill-advised plan to reprocess spent fuel from nuclear power reactors. UCS strongly opposes reprocessing, which separates plutonium from other nuclear waste, since separated plutonium can be used to make nuclear weapons. Reprocessing would make it easier for terrorists to acquire nuclear weapons materials, and for nations to develop nuclear weapon programs.

    Over the last several years, we have helped convince Congress to provide significantly less funding for the program than requested by the Administration. As a result, construction on a proposed large-scale reprocessing facility and a nuclear reactor of a new, unproven design has not begun. In April, 2008, the Administration announced that the decision to proceed with the program would be left to the next administration.

    http://www.ucsusa.org/nuclear_power/successes/

    Thanks to Jimmy Carter (ref) we stopped all our nuclear recycling in the mid 70′s and started storing it locally at the power plants.

    For the current style of nuclear reactors (there are posts in here discussing other types in development) reprocessing results in left-over plutonium and “would add the risk of nuclear materials being stolen to build nuclear weapons” (Ref).

  102. NickB. (12:12:30) : Thanks for the link. I was asking about it because perhaps what there is behind all that “serious concern” it is not other than the “undesired consequence” (for their purposes) of cheap and wide energy availability, which would go against their Malthusian and Brave New World Paradise, chosen by them to be OUR FUTURE.

  103. chemman (10:44:23) :
    Expensive yes, but would have cost me two to three times that amount to bring electric lines to my property.) Finally don’t forget that you have to do monthly maintenance on the batteries.

    Definitely a situation where solar (maybe even a wind turbine) DO make sense!

    DirkH (11:29:27) :
    Distributed generation is a cool deal. Don’t take my comments about the efficiency of the grid too literally, I think the distributed stuff can be really interesting but typically only makes sense for situations like chemman’s. New developments in this space are coming which may change that – over here I think they’re usually referred to by the relatively generic label of “Combined Heat and Power” (CHP). More info here

    BTW – if you’re into cool building technology this place is great: http://www.toolbase.org/

    It’s geared toward the US but a lot of this stuff should be available for you too.

    Cheers!

  104. Using cheap electricity to produce expensive electricity is the equivilant of a “renewable energy carry trade”

  105. I like solar and wind power. I love america and oppose the expensive power which in Spain’s case gives then 22% unemployment. I see many can’t learn from the spanish fiasco.

  106. Florida Power and Light just put its DeSoto photoelectricic solar plant on-line.

    http://www.instituteforenergyresearch.org/2009/10/26/highest-cost-generating-plant-comes-on-line-in-florida-to-obama-fanfare/

    It cost 152 million dollars to construct and provides daytime electrical power too all of aproximately 3,000 homes and businesses.

    That is a bit more than $50,000 per each home and business.

    One engineer and 6 groundskeepers are employed full time, the engineer to trouble shoot and the groundskeepers to keep the grass trimmed and keep animals away . . . oh my, the “green jobs” provided.

    Those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad.

  107. AGW’s Weather (AGW): Hope and Fear.

    Al wants to know which way is Northeast.

    The answer:
    “eastward from the Dakotas. Instead it will take the long way, traveling northwest to central Canada, then will dive southeastward to the New England coast.”

    Wants to know if “Snow” will be runned in Boston Mareathon.

    Al says, after all, Boston is Teddy’s seat.

    …-

    “Snow Is Possible for Part of Northeast Saturday

    A storm set to begin as rain in the Northeast late Thursday into Friday may bring accumulating snow to parts of the region Friday night into Saturday.”

    “The storm will not be swinging up from the Gulf of Mexico or plow due eastward from the Dakotas. Instead it will take the long way, traveling northwest to central Canada, then will dive southeastward to the New England coast.”

    http://www.accuweather.com/blogs/news/story/27449/snow-is-possible-for-part-of-n.asp

    http://www.smalldeadanimals.com/mt/mt-comments.cgi


  108. John from CA (22:03:30) :

    if you have the time its fun but from 45:00 on its a great point.

    While a little bit of knowledge may make some one dangerous, in the hands of a lecturing PhD (to the young, mold-able and undiscerning minds of undergrad students) I think it can be wielded with a deadliness heretofore unmatched in human history …


  109. DirkH (11:29:27) :
    Distributed generation is a cool deal. Don’t take my comments about the efficiency of the grid too literally, I think the distributed stuff can be

    What do you think the term ‘grid’ connotes anyway?

    ‘Lumped’ (antithesis of connection within a grid)’?

  110. > James Sexton (20:29:02) :

    > And that still doesn’t mention the ability to even store
    > such power. It’s not like we’ve a giant battery that we
    > can stick in the ground. No such mechanism exists!!!

    Actually, for $25 million, you CAN get a BOB (Big Old Battery) that’ll output 32 megawatt-hours (4 megawatts for 8 hours). See article about the NaS (Sodium Sulpher) battery at… http://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2010-04/texas-town-turns-monster-battery-backup-power Note… this thing is *NOT* merely a theory, it’s actually implemented and running. The article also says…
    > Such a battery could also serve as a test bed for utility
    > companies to see how the devices can help with energy
    > storage regarding renewable energy, such as wind power
    > or solar power.
    Stuff like this could overcome the flakey nature of wind and solar power.

  111. @geo (20:42:08) : It is all well and good if you don’t mine some “economic weirdness” with your money. But the substudies you are talking about cost me money. I have no tolerance what so ever for economic weirdness with my money. You want to pay for it go right ahead, but do so with your money not mine.


  112. James Sexton (20:44:46) :


    Ya know, most electrical distribution systems in the U.S. today use a “Y” configuration(as opposed to a delta), where a “return” or “ground” line is utilized.

    Neutral; that’s the “neutral” wire. In a properly loaded 3-phase system _no_ current flows in the neutral wire … incidentally it is most often also grounded as well (for safety of both the system and personnel; anything exposed to atmospheric processes e.g. thunderstorm production of static potentials and eventual lightning requires a ‘grounding’ to control the effects of both displacement currents as well as induced currents.)

    Note: The the ‘neutral’ wire in a home or office _will_ be carrying current, unless, you’ve got a 3-phase (or in the US a 240V) appliance connected …

    Ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three-phase_electric_power

    .
    .

  113. I happen to be an electrician, since March 1983. In all this time, I have spent at least 11 years working on schools, new and remodel. Anyway, most any school these days has an emergency generator (diesel) with enough fuel to run for 3 full hours. So, you might research a new school and find the design firm and see what generator they spec’d and find out what company they ordered from and see what you can afford. Also, there is a brand of portable, towable generators by Rand that you could rent or arrange to by. If you have acreage, you can do what escavation companies do and have an above ground, gravity-drain refillable tank and have your fuel delivered directly.

    A friend of mine has a gas generator that he hooked up to his house, including a transfer switch for when the power is interrupted from his normal service provider.

    Long live John Galt.

  114. rbateman (20:58:26)

    “Pump water up hill using solar or other non-fossil fuels in the day, release it during the night to regenerate the power and release it to the grid.”

    The Taum Sauk reservoir uses off-peak nuclear power to pump water to the reservoir, then generates power during peak periods. This must be economic, because they are now rebuilding the reservoir after it collapsed after many errors that should not have happened.
    e.g. wrong material for the reservoir walls, no spillway, faulty level-monitoring devices, ignoring prior faults, ignoring a whistleblower. Perhaps Taum Sauk will be done right this time.

    Just don’t have anyone living under a reservoir for 20 miles. That gives them time to run up a hill!

  115. Re: “If you have any doubts about what you are observing, turbines that are motoring will be rotating backwards.”

    This statement is absolutely untrue. Neither induction nor synchronous generators “reverse direction” when shifted from generating to motoring. Power utilities routinely motor certain of their hydroelectric generators in what they call “condensing mode” by depressing the tail water, cutting off motive power and letting the machines “motor”. When additional power is needed, they simply open the wicket gates (throttle) and additional power generation is instantly provided. In all cases, the machine rotates in the same direction, whether motoring or generating.

  116. Hydroelectric pumped storage is the the only efficient bulk electric power storage mechanism ever devised and commercially demonstrated by man. It is typically between 75% and 80% efficient, returning to the grid 0.75 to 0.8 kWh for every 1.0 kWh withdrawn from the grid. Since the difference in price between “peak” demand power and “off-peak” power is much greater than the ratio of input/output of pumped storage, pumped storage is an economic money machine. It allows very efficient “base load” machines such as nuclear, that would otherwise have to be throttled back at night, to continue at full throttle with the excess power diverted to drive the pumping operation. During the daily demand peak, instead of firing up relatively inefficient combustion turbines, the shortage between base generation and peak demand is made up by bringing the stored water down through the reversible pumped storage turbines running in their “generate mode”.

    Why do we in the U.S. not have more of these economically efficient marvels? Try getting permits for ANY hydroelectric project in the U.S. today! As T. Boone Pickens discovered the hard way in the Texas panhandle, you can’t get past the environmental intervenors for a big wind farm, much less a hydroelectric project.

  117. Jim,
    That was my poor wording not Dirk’s. Micro-generation, onsite generation… pick one.

    Was there a disagreement – I’m not sure I caught your point?

  118. On the question of energy in versus energy out, That is solar cell manufacture versus productivity : ‘Energy output is 9 to 17 times energy input’ . Point two, nobody knows how long solar panels will last, they could last for a hundred years or more.

    http://www.solarbus.org/documents/pvpayback.pdf

    linked from http://www.ecogeek.org/component/content/article/794

    Looking at news reports on solar panel degradation:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8386460.stm

    Although it is not clear from this BBC article how the ’30 years’ was arrived at , and it is not clearly shown what the degradation curve looks like.

    Current warranties give 20 years at 80% original capacity. Degradation is higher in space due to the higher levels of radiation, so this cannot be used for terrestial calculations.

  119. Vargs
    “I’m baffled why they don’t use the power generated to manufacture hydrogen for fuel cells on site.”
    Hydrogen is a hoax, Ballard Power Systems who research and develop fuel cells, even said they can never work. Hydrogen is not a fuel, it has to be produced, by far the cheapest way is with fossil fuels. It doesn’t liquefy easy like propane, so it requires expensive equipment and a lot of wasted energy to compress it. It’s the lightest element so it leaks out of everything and it doesn’t have much power so you need lots of it to do anything. This is why fuel cells are essential to try to get a better return for your effort.
    Batteries are much cheaper they give you a better return, and have gotten much better over the years.

  120. OK, the language is German, yet it’s been released in Switzerland. You won’t hardly find a sillable about this scandal in the heavily biased German press.

    EU and Germany are terminal green, will drop carbon tax on us pretty soon and the industry controlled law-making EU commissioners are deep in Desertecs pockets.

    (from germany)

  121. ” Dennis Nikols (22:20:50) :

    After living through Enron why am I not in the least bit surprised. Greed and self-interest have no morals, never have, probably never will.”

    Another way to look at it, Dennis, is that both Enron and Greenscams have a common source: efforts of the government to repeal the laws of economics and physics with subsidies and regulations. The “unintended consequences” in each case are actually people doing the monetary/financial equivalent of water running downhill by the shortest available route.

  122. “First, let me say I’m a fan of solar power when done correctly and without financial carrots hung out for electricity generation that entice abuse of the system. I put solar on my own home.”
    And yet in that article (@link in the intro) you detail all manner of rebates etc. involved. Those rebates are economic distortions, and fundamentally have only one justification: minimizing CO2 emissions. Which is a false and illusory benefit.

    In overall terms (taxes + installation + use) we are paying more — much more — for solar energy than for grid energy. But on an individual basis, you are “externalizing” many of those costs to the whole taxpayer base. In the extreme, if everyone did the same thing, it would become obvious that the total costs were much higher. It’s only by being one of the privileged few who can game the system that it makes sense.

  123. Peter (05:14:09) :
    Hydrogen is a hoax

    I’m not sure I’d go that far, but I agree with everything else you said. People need to stop thinking about hydrogen as a fuel, and start thinking about it as a battery… a really, REALLY, expensive gas battery that still sources its power from fossil fuels.

    A lot of people don’t realize that the only remotely economical way to produce hydrogen is with fossil fuels. Splitting water to produce hydrogen by other means is extremely inefficient. Not to mention the storage challenges. Batteries are still better.

  124. I put solar on my own home.

    I do my part too. We have a solar powered bathroom scale. We have to turn on extra lights in the bathroom to get it to work, but it’s the thought that counts.

  125. You have no idea how perverse this system is…in France, if you produce electricity, EDF has to buy it at a preferential price far higher than the price of electricity they supply.
    They are obliged!

    Many people simply buy some land close to a tiny river, put a generator there…and it brings them an additional salary everyone else is paying for it in their bill. And if they simply take current from the plug of the next neighbor, and say it came from the generator…they can sell EDF their own current for higher price they bought it.

  126. I bought a 1 kw inverter for $70 at COSTCO. I have a Diesel car. In an emergency (and if my gas generator runs out of gas…) I can turn my car into a very easy 1 kw power supply (and with an 18 gal tank built in…).

    HONDA made (makes?) a very nice 12 kw Diesel generator. Figured the cost based on fuel burn specs for it once. Oddly, the was very close to “Fuel in $/gal divided by 10 per kW/hr”. So if Diesel is $3.00 / gal it was 30 Cents / kW-hr.

    If you want to bypass the whole controlled economy thing, get a Diesel generator designed to run directly on plant oils. These are commonly available from India (often based on a very old Lister design). If used as a home heating source too you get nearly 100% fuel efficiency. (exactly how near depends a lot on just what all you run through heat exchangers and if you go so far as to run a heat pump… having a pool to heat in non-winter seasons helps ;-)

    A link based on a semi-random but well thought out Google Terms:

    http://www.generatorsales.com/order/Vegetable-Oil-Lister-Generator-6600-Watt.asp?page=L09989

    Then just plant a bunch of Soybeans…

    (nut and seed presses are also available to make the oil, if desired. The ‘leftovers’ make great pig and chicken feed… )

    Yeah, I grew up in ‘farm country’ prior to university…

    Solar is fine and all, but oils store energy better and it’s hard to beat Diesel for efficiency… So I’m a bit more partial to “solar power” via cottonwood trees, a wood stove, soybeans, and a Diesel… Now I just need 10 acres and the CARB to go away…

  127. @ E.M.Smith (23:46:36):

    I’ve been considering the septic tank, and wondering about tapping it for methane. How much is it generating right now? Does it serve any function in keeping the system working? How about a house hooked to a municipal sewer system, does it have a source of “free” energy waiting to be used (at least until too many neighbors tap it as well)?

    I’ve read that some municipalities now have treatment facilities that trap the methane for energy use. I’ve also heard of a few farmers that use it to power generators, gathered with a simple tarp over a pit for the animal waste, provides all the electricity they need. For a basic home the potential energy available may not be much, but that sure doesn’t mean it’s not worth considering at all.

    More research is needed. Where do I send the grant application?

  128. In Germany there is also this issue. Currently selling the power from solar panels makes more financial sense than using the power. But the price is fixed forever. Subsidies may be a factor in causing the energy price to rise in th e fututre, when this happens the type of crime, described in the main article, will dissappear. People know when they are committing crime. Every one who thinks they are subsidising solar will get their money back when solar power contract prices are lower than grid prices. Then we will have ‘cheap solar energy’.

  129. Every once in a while I point people here and elsewhere to the project being advanced by Lawrenceville Plasma Physics, see lawrencevilleplasmaphysics.com and focusfusion.org . It got go-ahead funding in late ’08, and is targeting unity this year or early next using D-D, and will move on to p-B11 aneutronic thereafter. If it all pans out, there will be proven designs for manufacturing license world-wide within a couple of years thereafter.

    The economics will kill all the green alternatives, and most conventional, dead within a very short timespan. The plan is for 5MW generators, about the size of a container or home garage including all housing, costing ~$250,000. Which is $0.05/W, 1/20 of best conventional, and about 1/100 of solar, etc. Output will cost about $0.001-$0.003/kwh at source, which is again 1/100-1/20 of current retail, and even better compared to all Greenscams.

    Deployable anywhere there is reasonable monitoring and bi-annual or annual maintenance/refueling access. Distributed disruptive tech, with a vengeance.

    Existing plant, and even fission plans, will be economic roadkill in short order.

  130. Dave Springer said “I can see some small offset for delivery charge being fair but in fairness any electricity I generate will be taken up by my neighbors within a few hundred feet of me so it’s not like my juice is going through fifty miles of wire back to the power plant.”

    The problem is that when you are producing solar power your neighbors are not home and the power is needed at an industrial plant miles away. When your neighbors get home and demand peaks (about 8PM), you produce nothing. For your system to make sense you need to be paid what your power is worth which might be a few cents during the day.

  131. They’re obviously not thinking big. Searchlight? Pfui! Put a really big mirror in geosynchronous orbit and use it to direct sunlight onto the solar panels at night.

  132. Last year Americans were driving across the Mexican border to buy gas from Pemex, the state owned petroleum company at about $2.00/gal then returning to sell it about $3.50/gal.

    Pemex soon ran low on gasoline and had to send tankers across the border to buy at about $3.50/gal so they could sell it again at $1.50/gal.

    It took several weeks for the Governments to notice

  133. Solar energy has so many advantages and a number of companies are working on increasing the efficiency that a few, at least I hope it’s a few, “cleverly” try to take advantage is always unfortunate. I hope those honestly interested in advancing this technology will out those few.

    I read today that Spectrolab has a photovoltaic panel used in space that boasts an efficiency rating of 30%. Nothing mentioned about making this available for the average homeowner, but they won’t be the only company that achieves this level of efficiency. I found this hopeful.

    If you are interested in learning how you can transition to solar energy or incorporate solar energy into your life, check out http://www.solar-energy-advantages-blog.com for a practical approach.

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