Solar industry on the rise

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Via Slashdot Hugh Pickens writes:

According to Rhone Resch, the last three years have seen the U.S. solar industry go from a start-up to a major industry that is creating well-paying jobs and growing the economy in all 50 states, employing 93,000 Americans in 2010, a number that is expected to grow between 25,000 to 50,000 this year (PDF). In the first quarter of 2011, the solar industry installed 252 megawatts of new solar electric capacity, a 66 percent growth from the same time frame in 2010.

Solar energy is creating more jobs per megawatt than any other energy source (PDF) with the capability, according to one study, of generating over 4 million jobs by 2030 with aggressive energy efficiency measures. There are now almost 3,000 megawatts of solar electric energy installed in the U.S., enough to power 600,000 homes.

In the manufacturing sector, solar panel production jumped 31 percent. ‘The U.S. market is expected to more than double yet again in 2011, installing enough solar for more than 400,000 homes,’ writes Resch. ‘Last year, the industry set the ambitious yet achievable goal of installing 10 gigawatts annually by 2015 (PDF) – enough to power 2 million more homes each and every year.’

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148 thoughts on “Solar industry on the rise

  1. I hope that solar energy becomes economically viable for many uses–without subsidies. One question–“is more jobs per megawatt than any other energy source” another way of saying that it is economically inefficient?

  2. One needs to calculate jobs/(investment + subsidy) to understand whether the jobs created are a net drain or positive for the economy.

  3. Solar energy is creating more jobs per megawatt than any other energy source

    Translation: solar is more capital-intensive than any other energy source.

  4. “Solar energy is creating more jobs per megawatt than any other energy source (PDF) with the capability, according to one study, of generating over 4 million jobs by 2030 with aggressive energy efficiency measures.”

    Imagine for one moment that it is 1908 and Henry Ford announces to the world that he has discovered a new car manufacturing process for the model T that creates more jobs per model T produced than any other technology available.

    Wouldn’t that have meant the death of the model T? If Ford had required more jobs created to produce a model T than any other car, then how would Americans been able to afford the model T? Wasn’t the secret of Ford’s success to reduce the manpower required to build the model T and thereby reduce the cost so that everyone could afford to buy a Ford model T?

    It seems that by taking the other route, by requiring the most workers per megawatt produced, that solar power is pricing itself out of the market. Why not simply hire people to turn hand cranks to produce energy. That would certainly create even more jobs than solar power per megawatt.

  5. And all power to Solar. Advances in materials have made them cheaper and better. They’re now just getting below the cost/effectiveness zone that limited their use to only high-income hobbyists. If you live in California through Florida, I can see Solar as being quite worthwhile. Of course, all the labor costs of manufacturing those in the U.S. will mean we’ll likely be purchasing Chinese solar panels, but oh well. If I had a home, and the time, I

  6. Solar energy is certainly the green energy everyone can get behind – if only it weren’t so damned expensive.

    I do not support inflated feed in tariffs though – this is a mechanism for unfair wealth distribution – and without these government subsidies solar makes no economic sense to the individual.

  7. Maybe , as long as the goodies keep coming :
    http:masterresource.org/2011/07/federally-guaranteed-loans-for-clean energy-projects-are-nonsense

  8. The Model T was introduced on October 1, 1908. … The car was very simple to drive, and easy and cheap to repair. It was so cheap at $825 in 1908 ($20,100 today) (the price fell every year) that by the 1920s, a majority of American drivers had learned to drive on the Model T.[13]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Ford

    Can the same be said for solar? That the technology is so cheap and simple, and the price has fallen every year and that in just over ten years after introduction, the majority of American use it to power their homes? I believe that technology already exists. It is called coal. About 3 cent a kwh to produce as compared to solar at 50 cents a kwh.

  9. This is an absolutely frightening statement, “Solar is creating more jobs per megwatt than any other energy source”. That is saying it is the most labor intensive source of power, not a good thing to be in a developed country.

  10. What is the average life of a solar panel ?
    What is the cost of electricity over the life of the device, including installation, maintenance and degradation through dirt ?
    How does the use of resources such as copper etc compare with power from coal ?

    My feeling is that the economics of a device reflect the energy used in its contruction, including smelting of metals, labour etc . Solar panels use a lot. Is there any research on this ?

  11. It’s a pity they don’t know that MW is power not energy. Do all these homespowered by solar only use energy during the day time?

  12. If American consumers are forced to pay higher prices for solar electricity, as Spanish consumers have been forced to do, then the jobs are a very dangerous illusion. The Spanish experience will apply, that is, for every new job created in solar energy, between 2 and 3 jobs will be lost elsewhere because of reduced competitiveness. [Similarly if the solar energy is heavily subsidised by government.]

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

    Optimistically treating European Commission partially funded data1, we find that for every renewable energy job that the State manages to finance, Spain’s experience cited by President Obama as a model reveals with high confidence, by two different methods, that the U.S. should expect a loss of at least 2.2 jobs on average, or about 9 jobs lost for every 4 created, to which we have to add those jobs that non-subsidized investments with the same resources would have created.
    My link for the original paper http://www.juandemariana.org/pdf/090327-employment-public-aid-renewable.pdf appears now not to work.

    If the solar energy is truly competitive, then the jobs are genuine.

  13. How much of that installed capacity in in those little garden lights (I have 10) that recharge the NiCd battery and run the LED? Just wondering what the breakdown is in that so-called capacity in terms of large vs small production? At still 8-10% efficiency, solar makes no economic sense for house -sized installations.

  14. “Solar energy is creating more jobs per megawatt than any other energy source” is in part an indicator of the costs of the industry, ie., it is more labour intensive (and henxce expensive) than other forms of energy production on a per mega watt basis.

    Aggressive marketing is fine, however, the story may read differently in some years time when customers realise that their investment will not pay for itself, and they may feel that the aggessive marketing was in reality mis-selling on the basis of false assurances.

    That said, I wish this industry well and potentially, it is far better than wind power provided one lives in a sunny climate and not at high latitudes.

  15. An accurate date for this study would be informative since one of the countries ‘premiere’ solar manufacturers, Evergreen Solar, decided to can its manufacturing in Mass., even after receiving a large tax break/credit and investing a lot of money in new facilities and hiring. I wonder if these stats reflect that.

  16. ferd berple says:
    July 28, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    “Solar energy is creating more jobs per megawatt than any other energy source …
    ———————————————————————————————————————
    That’s even before economics 101. They have just stated that solar is the least efficient of any other power source. And they claim that as a point in its favour?

  17. And when the credits are removed, I dare say it will go back the other direction. Do not get me wrong. I have a 10 KW plate solar system on my house, but even with cheap panels, things cost quite a bit if you want power 24/7. If you want to play grid tie boost when the sun is out, that is a different matter. But then you run into the old problem of what happens when the sun does not shine.

  18. Most people I know already generate about 70Watts just sitting on their butts.

    Seems like it would be more cost effective to just put the people in an array……

  19. Solar energy is creating more jobs per megawatt than any other energy source

    This is the very definition of inefficiency.

  20. If the price were low enough, I would install panels, batteries and inverter to power my home. Same thing with solar hot water heaters. In Georgia USA, the sun beats down hard most of the year, so here it makes sense. If I lived in Minnesota, I wouldn’t even think about it.

    I haven’t researched to find out how many square feet of solar panel it would take to power the AC unit on one of these 100 degree Georgia days, but it is bound to lower the electric bill a good bit. I am looking to build a house on a farm plot and so far I can’t find any published plans that include straight roof lines to maximize the southern exposure with a ~33 degree slope. For some reason all the rage these days is for wrap around roofs with lots of outcrops.

    I think one of the stumbling blocks for solar is battery technology. Storing excess daytime energy for use at night is limited by the paltry storage capacity and cost of batteries.

  21. There are a lot of issues with this article. Just a few points:

    Across Europe, the solar subsidies kill much more jobs than they create due to the higher electricity cost

    In Germany, 3% of electricity is now generated solar with the following consequences:

    Cost for this for the consumers over the next 20 years are estimated at 100 billion dollars.
    As the supply is not steady, ALL conventional power plant need to be in place, not a single plant is replaced.
    Huge investments will be necessary to transport the electricity to consumers. For example, a town utility complained that it is obliged to use all its capital (millions) to invest in lines just to help a few people to make money (thousands) with subsidies.
    At summer peak generation, there have already been negative electricity market values, meaning that even with as little as 3% mean power, the peak electricity cannot be sold and money has to be for consumption.
    The generous German subsidies have attracted more than 50% of installations in this country in the last years. However, Chinese companies now dominate the market, and even in Germany 70% of cells installed today are now coming from China.

    All that doesn’t mean, that solar is no option for the future. Particularly where consitions are much better as in the US deserts, or where air conditioning is common or particularly where solar thermal solutions are practical with heat storage overnight for 24 hours electricity generation.

  22. Our local paper, the San Jose Merc., ran an article yesterday talking up how great it is that the new visitor’s center in Yosemite is the largest grid-connected PV installation in the U.S. national parks. The article went on to extol the claim that the installation will save the U.S.P.S. over $50,000 annually in electrical bills. All of this at a cost of only $4.4 million.

    Let’s think about this for a moment. $4,400,000 divided by the $50K per year savings means that it will take only 88 years to recover the initial investment. This yields a ROI of 1.1%. I have read various numbers for the estimated life expectancy of the panels with most clustering in the 25-30 year range so they will have to be replaced twice before the initial installation cost has been recouped. Absolutely brilliant.

    The bottom line is that the U.S.P.S. and, therefore we the taxpayers, would be better off continuing to buy the electricity from PG&E. Just one little hiccup with that idea. The installation was actually funded by PG&E which means that we, the PG&E customers in Northern California actually paid for this in our electrical rate. The taxpayers in the rest of the U.S. dodged a bullet on this one.

  23. When total system install costs can be recovered in a short enough time frame to make them an attractive financial investment, then we will have a lot of solar roofs.
    Until then, subsidized solar install schemes are a tasteless joke on the taxpayers.

  24. comin up soon:
    really really cheap surplus solar panels!!!
    it’s just a niche market until a storage solution is found.
    lolz – when they find a way to make coal from sunshine at a cheaper price than swamp ferns did, send me the line card.

  25. Nearly all solar power is supported by heavy subsidies. An honest accounting of the economics of solar power would acknowledge that every dollar in subsidies represents more than a dollar mulcted from taxpayers. The private sector is much more efficient at allocating capital and creating jobs, but solar power requires stealing private capital, giving a generous cut to bureaucrats and politicians, and then picking one technology as a political winner.

    As other comments have pointed out, trumpeting claims that “Solar energy is creating more jobs per megawatt than any other energy source” is a sign of astonishing economic ignorance, not something for boasting.

    Rephrase it this way: “Solar power is draining more money from investment in private sector businesses than any other form of energy. Solar power is also responsible for more growth in government bureaucracy and taxation than any other form of energy.”

  26. “Solar energy is creating more jobs per megawatt than any other energy source”

    I disagree. Collecting camel dung is far superior.

  27. What can I add that people haven’t mentioned already? Increasing employment per MW of installed capacity means higher energy costs and subsidized jobs. We wish solar energy well, but please keep taxpayer money away from this.

  28. “Solar energy is creating more jobs per megawatt than any other energy source …”

    It means markets are created by law, and cost is hidden behind subsidies. The fraudsters behind it get credit for creating union-ready jobs, businesses get paid regardless of the efficiences and vagaries of the open market, and the tax payers get unreliable, inefficient energy whether they need it or not. Its win-win for almost everyone. /snark

  29. Dr. A Burns:
    Your trenchant observation is very un-PC. Please don’t bring it up again, OK. We can’t have energy-balance realities intruding upon the Left’s gradiose socialist madness.
    The AGW fraud is nothing but the Lefties’ usual economics-be-damned.
    I’m rooting for the Indians who block the vast solar plants seeking to blight their sacred desert.
    The only thing you can say for solar is that it’s not nearly as obscene as ethanol mandates, windmills, or CAFE standards, all of which have produced nothing but economic and ecological destruction, and lots of extra people-deaths too (no doubt privately cheered-on by the anti-human population-suppression lobby).

  30. Solar photovoltaic has come a long way in the last 50 years with improved efficeny, longer life, and reduced price per watt, BUT I feel it needs another 20 to 30 years on improvements before it can become cost effective.

  31. Wolfman and ChE summed up my initual impression on this one.

    The question that Dr A Burns asks often arises and I have come to the conclusion that cost in monetary terms is a pretty accurate indicator of the energy that has gone into making something.

    Does anyone have any thoughts on this?

    To me it seems a justifiable, accurate and very convenient measure but I would be interested to hear any opinions on this.

  32. We need significant advances in ENERGY STORAGE than energy production. Solar-derived electricity is limited by its availability *only* during the day – when there’s basically no-one at home to use it. Energy demands rotate around mornings and evenings and until we can STORE power efficiently (cheaply) no ‘instantaneous’ electricity production system will be worthwhile (cost effective).

  33. Dr A Burns says:
    July 28, 2011 at 2:15 pm
    “What is the average life of a solar panel ?”

    30 years for good quality modules. Early cheap Chinese stuff suffered from premature aging of the laminate. You will probably have to replace capacitors in the inverters several times as they dry out over time.

    “What is the cost of electricity over the life of the device, including installation, maintenance and degradation through dirt ?
    How does the use of resources such as copper etc compare with power from coal ?”

    A lot of German studies allege that energy payback time is “1 to 3 years depending on insolation”; I don’t believe a word of that; i think they don’t account for any energy used but for the PV cell manufacturing itself. There is IMHO NO honest study.

    “My feeling is that the economics of a device reflect the energy used in its contruction, including smelting of metals, labour etc . Solar panels use a lot. Is there any research on this ?”

    Go by the prices. You get 1 Watt peak performance for 2.40 Euros (1.20 for the PV module, 1.20 for the inverter and the rest of the installation). At 800 sunhours per year in Germany this produces 0.8 kWh/year or 16 kWh over 20 years. At 5 Eurocent/kWh real value (before taxes and transmission fees are slapped on) this results in a value of 0.80 EUR.

    So you managed to turn 2.40 EUR into 0.80 EUR and it took you 20 years.

    The situation is of course slightly better in Portugal (2 times the insolation) or the Sahara (2.5 times the insolation). The situation will also improve with further drops in price; expect prices to half in 5 years. So, we’re 10 to 15 years away from calling it economically viable in Germany.

  34. Imagine how many more jobs there would be if we started driving nails into tires and breaking windows? Aside from putting these things on our roof tops, where else are they going to go?

    Suppose the government paid so much, (i.e. we are forced to pay a lot more taxes), to subsidize them that they were basically ‘free’ to anyone who wanted them. Given that unlikely degree of “incentive”, everybody and his bother would be cutting down forests and covering up crop land to set-up ‘solar farms’ to reap huge profits.

    You say that can’t happen but, consider an alternate path leading to a virtual parallel condition whereby a given government incentive ‘X’ is based on being some percentage of an assumed investment cost ‘Y’ but that cost suddenly drops WAY lower than anyone ever imagined? Suppose someone invents a new approach in material or manufacturing tomorrow that dramatically lowers the price and existing government policy will now result in 1000X more solar panels being installed than anyone ever dreamed?

    So then what happens? Will the ‘greenies’ then flip and demand that the subsidies have to stop in order to save the forests and keep the poor fed? Or will they shrink away fearful of being blamed for laying-off all the new solar panel workers (now unionized of course..)?

    I don’t about the rest of you but I do not want to be put into a position where I’d ever find out the answer to that question – having to rely on them to get us out of a problem they created in the first place.

    Let’s not forget how the greenie push for bio fuel is working out…

  35. “creating more jobs per megawatt than any other energy source”

    That’s because it is inefficient….presuming you believe thesee numbers.

  36. I am absolutely sure generating electricity by treadmills would create even more jobs per megawatt than solar. I hope no one will push such a policy in Europe though.

    But America, Land of the Free, Home of the Brave is another matter.

    /sarc off

  37. I suggest we use human powered-treadmills to generate electricity. That will create EVEN MORE jobs per Mwatt.

  38. Brewster said on July 28, 2011 at 2:19 pm:

    An accurate date for this study would be informative since one of the countries ‘premiere’ solar manufacturers, Evergreen Solar, decided to can its manufacturing in Mass., even after receiving a large tax break/credit and investing a lot of money in new facilities and hiring. I wonder if these stats reflect that.

    It’s even worse than that.

    Boston Scientific to build in China
    Natick co. hiring 1,000
    By Brendan Lynch
    Thursday, July 28, 2011 – Updated 3 hours ago

    Natick medical device maker Boston Scientific, which has received millions in state and local tax breaks for its facilities in Marlboro and Quincy, despite cutting its Bay State work force in recent years, said yesterday it would hire 1,000 workers and build a $150 million factory — in China.

    “It’s disappointing that Evergreen Solar and Boston Scientific both decided to build in China and not in Massachusetts,” said state Sen. James Eldridge, an Acton Democrat. “It’s even more disappointing Boston Scientific did it, because they’re a successful company.”

    Maybe the job loss will be offset by all those jobs building and servicing that offshore wind project that Ted Kennedy is no longer around to block.

    Leave it to Massachusetts to have a governor who gladly points out “the upside”:


    The Patrick administration saw a silver lining yesterday in Boston Scientific’s China expansion.

    “When a locally based company expands and increases their sales in other markets, Massachusetts benefits,” said a spokeswoman for Greg Bialecki, economic development secretary for Gov. Deval Patrick, in a statement. “Having global life sciences companies headquartered here is one of the many factors that contribute to the commonwealth’s global leadership in this innovation sector.”

    There’s a linked related article, Boston Scientific to eliminate up to 1400 jobs, same date.

    Evergreen Solar is eliminating 800 Massachusetts jobs, Boston Scientific “…expects to shed between 1,200 and 1,400 employees by the end of 2013.” But it still benefits the state when the company is headquartered there.

    Until the company realizes how much it will save in taxes by “moving their headquarters” to a post office box in the Bahamas. Oh well, that’ll only be temporary, it’ll only last until the anthropogenic global warming causes the seas to rise enough to eradicate the Bahamas and thus all the PO boxes. Wait for it. ;-)

  39. I work in the semiconductor industry, there is nothing “Green” about the manufacturing process.

  40. Mike Jonas says: July 28, 2011 at 2:16 pm
    ////////////////////////////////////////////
    The feed in tariffs were so generous that widespread fraud has taken place. Investigation has found that a number of solar farms use diesel generators to ‘top up’ electrity being generated by the solar farm and sold to the grid. The surveys suggest that this occurs at night, but there is no reason to conclude that the practice is adopted only at night since the cost of running a generator is far less than the subsidised tariff being given to the solar farm operator so why not use a generator day and night to max out on profit.

    We all know that where there is a subsidised or false market there is a scam to be had. europe is seeing that in the carbon credit trade.

  41. Solar is still pretty damn expensive. The cost of the PV panels are only part of the equation. About 8 years ago I became enamored of PV technology. I decided I’d make my own little system to power my laptop or my ham gear in the event of power failure. I bought a 55 watt PV panel, a charge controller, a glass pack deep cycle battery and a little power inverter. By the time I was done buying hardware, switches and wire, I was into this “little” project to the tune of about $500.

    I could run my ham gear (at 5 watts output) pretty much 24/7. The laptop, however, drew 65 watts and had to be connected via the power inverter. On a sunny summer afternoon I could get about 2 hours of use before the battery had discharged too much. The $150 battery was the first component to fail.

    You can apply solar in a variety of ways. One friend of mine lives in an “earth ship” that is wired for 12 volt lighting and appliances. Another has about half his roof covered in PV panels and he sells his “extra” electricity to the grid. I still think he buys more grid electricity than he sells and he has spent a fortune on panels, controllers and inverters. Another acquaintance of mine built his house in the middle of nowhere. He opted for solar because he couldn’t cost justify the expense of paying to get wired to the grid and then paying for grid electrons. He went full bore. He has three huge arrays, a shed filled with deep cycle batteries and heavy duty inverters. He also has a big propane tank, runs a propane refrigerator, propane heating and has a propane backup generator. It increased the cost of his pre-fab home by at least $50K. Ironically, about the time he breaks even vs. the grid, he’ll have to start replacing panels. Batteries get changed relatively frequently as they only have a 5-10 year lifespan. No matter how you slice it, solar is expensive and inefficient.

  42. Here in the UK, I woke up this morning to the sight of a new PV installation on the other side the road. Not only do I have to look at this ugly slab of technology, but I am forced to pay for it as well.

  43. The TÛRANOR PlanetSolar Journey Around the World
    The M/S Tûranor PlanetSolar, the world’s largest solar boat, began her journey around the world in Monaco on 27th September 2010. The mission is to demonstrate that existing renewable energy technologies are reliable and effective.
    The project also aims to advance scientific research. The PlanetSolar project, founded by the Swiss Raphaël Domjan and based in Yverdon-les-Bains (Switzerland/ Canton Vaud), has made technological developments possible in different fields such as the production of composite materials and structures as well as the storage of solar energy.
    For the tour, PlanetSolar can rely on technical data provided by Metéo France. A solar routing technology was specifically developed for the project.
    Sailing under Swiss flag and measuring close to 102 feet in length and 50 feet in width, M/S Tûranor PlanetSolar is covered by a 5,700 square feet solar generator, using solar cells made by the California-based SunPower Corporation.
    SunPower offers solar cells which are 50% more efficient than conventional solar cells. Within a sponsoring scheme, PlanetSolar main partners are the Swiss watchmaker Candino (www.candino.com) and the energy management company Immosolar (www.immosolar.com). The project is supported by many further companies and institutions, amongst those the Swiss Confederation as Official Partner.

  44. ferd berple says:
    July 28, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    Why not simply hire people to turn hand cranks to produce energy. That would certainly create even more jobs than solar power per megawatt.

    I started working on this before your comment, but wisely checked comments before posting. Here is my not-so-quick (but still-took-a-long-time) estimate on comparing solar power to bicycle power.

    93,000 people to create 3,000 mega watts which powers 600,000 homes.

    Why not hire the homeless to generate power through bicycles? At 75 watts per hour per bike (Pedal Power, Wilson, D. G., McCullagh, J., 1977 : Cited in EcoHearth, ““Pedal-powered appliances for home, business and leisure”, 2011) this would supply 61,101 mega watts a year, which would power 12,220,200 homes?

    Since it would involve little skilled labour, and maintenance costs would be enormously decreased, it seems like a much cheaper option — not to mention giving employment to an underprivileged segment of the population while improving their health.

    Of course, I’ve probably made an error somewhere along the line,

  45. “Solar industry on the rise”

    Ahhh, an article heading that could be from the 70’s Jimmy Carter era. Nothing has changed, but the folks, folks.

  46. The article states:
    “There are now almost 3,000 megawatts of solar electric energy installed in the U.S., enough to power 600,000 homes.”

    It should say:
    “There are now almost 3,000 megawatts of solar electric energy installed in the U.S., enough to power 600,000 homes, sometimes.”

    I humbly submit that every solar panel connected to the grid ends up costing everyone more. The power is intermittent, meaning that it requires “spinning reserve” power to back it up and, when each home based panel generates more electricity than the home uses the local utility must buy it back from the homeowner. The unreliable nature of this excess power causes it to pop up on the grid and then, just as unpredictably, disappear. When this happens the excess power is just dissapated as all unused power is. It provides no benefit but costs the utility and all other power consumers some amount of money. As the number of these orphan (not known specifically to the utility in a way that the utility can rely on them) solar panels increases, the cost of all electricity will rise proportionally.

    Another incredibly stupid idea being crowed about as though it were the salvation of man. A little education would go a long way for the people who write these articles. The technical IQ of America is shameful.

  47. Maybe someone has already posted this.

    “An ambitious solar energy project on a massive scale is about to get underway in the Arizona desert. EnviroMission is undergoing land acquisition and site-specific engineering to build its first full-scale solar tower – and when we say full-scale, we mean it! The mammoth 800-plus meter (2625 ft) tall tower will instantly become one of the world’s tallest buildings. Its 200-megawatt power generation capacity will reliably feed the grid with enough power for 150,000 US homes, and once it’s built, it can be expected to more or less sit there producing clean, renewable power with virtually no maintenance until it’s more than 80 years old.”

    ” virtually no maintenance until it’s more than 80 years old” It will be interesting to see how this pans out.

    http://www.gizmag.com/enviromission-solar-tower-arizona-clean-energy-renewable/19287/

  48. Since solar power is doing so great let’s stop the taxpayer funded subsidies. By the way, isn’t a lot of CO2 generated refining silicon dioxide in to silicon?

  49. DirkH says:
    July 28, 2011 at 3:15 pm
    A lot of German studies allege that energy payback time is “1 to 3 years depending on insolation”; I don’t believe a word of that; i think they don’t account for any energy used but for the PV cell manufacturing itself. There is IMHO NO honest study.

    The 1 to 3 years payback time is so short becasue in Germany, the power produced is sold directly to the grid for which one gets paid twice or more the cost of a ‘normal’ KWHr. In my (EU) country, we get a rebate of €3000 for a domestic installation costing around €7000 (about 2KWp installed power), then get paid about €0.09 (9 eurocents) for each unit exported to the grid. Thus, payback is about 6 years. But if no stupid socialist style subsidies are included, the payback would be about 12-16 years, depending on quality of PV’s (Chinese unbranded to top branded).

    This is actually robbing the poor to subsidise the rich. The poorer section of society do not afford to purchase PV’s, so what is happening is that the government/power producerss push up the price of an oil-fired KWHr to subsidise the scheme (scam), which KWHr is then sold to everyone included the poor. But it is the rich who are buying the PV’s thus milking the cow, while the poor just have pay up at a higher price of electricity without benefiting from the scheme.
    This is socialism standing on its head.

  50. ” There are now almost 3,000 megawatts of solar electric energy installed in the U.S., enough to power 600,000 homes.”

    Has anybody figured out that all 600,000 of those homes powered by solar would be dark after sunset? All those folks would have to watch TV by candle light.

  51. America the Idiocracy

    O silicon for everyone
    For rising labor costs
    For union labels, on the sun
    Opportunity lost
    America, America, sweet land of sub-si-dy
    And public goods made by (the) brotherhood
    From sea to shining sea!

  52. Berényi Péter says:
    July 28, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    I am absolutely sure generating electricity by treadmills would create even more jobs per megawatt than solar. I hope no one will push such a policy in Europe though.
    You’re on to a winner there ;-) Solve unempolyment, health and ‘the energy crisis’ in one fell swoop.

  53. “Solar energy is creating more jobs per megawatt than any other energy source”

    @Mark Wagner CPA July 28, 2011 at 2:36 pm
    “This is the very definition of inefficiency.”

    Too true, Mark. May as well ask “How many hippies on welfare does it take to change a light bulb?”

  54. OK, I went to the study, and–surprise!–it’s worse than I thought. Solar photovoltaic indeed has the highest jobs-per-megawatt ratio, but ALL non-fossil fuel alternatives (including energy efficiency!?!) came out higher than coal and gas (nuclear was just barely higher). Has anyone ever made a stronger case for continued reliance on fossil fuels???

    BTW the “megawatts” in the study are the output averaged over the life of the plant, so the numbers are sensitive to errors in estimates of plant durability (*cough* solar *cough* wind *cough* ).

  55. Look, I’m all in favor of solar. I’m guessing that by the end of the century, the spectre of exhausting natural hydrocarbons is going to be looking more and more immediate to the world’s 7 or 8 billion inhabitants. The next century is likely to be the century of solar, fission and (hopefully) fusion with minor contributions from hydro, oil, natural gas, coal, biofuels, geothermal, tides, etc.

    And unlike Germany and England, most of the US is close enough to the equator that solar may well work pretty well.

    But 4 million solar jobs created in the US in the next two decades? How can a I take a source that makes predictions like that seriously?

  56. It’s, now, expected that some Solar Farms will be installed next year at a cost of $2.00/watt, or even less.

    Considering, that these panels are assumed to last, at least, 50 years, and possibly much longer, and considering that in most areas of the U.S. the electricity needed most is during that time that Solar Cells are most effective, and there’s very little doubt that that electricity will be the cheapest ever installed.

  57. RayG,
    “Our local paper, the San Jose Merc., ran an article yesterday talking up how great it is that the new visitor’s center in Yosemite is the largest grid-connected PV installation in the U.S. national parks. The article went on to extol the claim that the installation will save the U.S.P.S. over $50,000 annually in electrical bills. All of this at a cost of only $4.4 million.

    Let’s think about this for a moment. $4,400,000 divided by the $50K per year savings means that it will take only 88 years to recover the initial investment. This yields a ROI of 1.1%. I have read various numbers for the estimated life expectancy of the panels with most clustering in the 25-30 year range so they will have to be replaced twice before the initial installation cost has been recouped. Absolutely brilliant.”

    Better the USPS hired a few competent CPAs. The lost opportunity cost is huge!

    IINACPA, but it seems like they’d have been FAR better off if they’d taken that 4.4 mill and invested it, using the proceeds to pay for the electricity. They’d need around 1.2% return to get 50K interest. I think ING has CDs that’ll pay that no problem. At 5% it’s more like $220k. Plus, it’ll run at night.

  58. RE: Frank Lee MeiDere says: … Why not hire the homeless to generate power through bicycles? At 75 watts per hour per bike … “Tests cited in this book, carried out by Oxford University Professor Stuart Wilson, found that the average cyclist can generate 75 watts per hour.”

    The average cyclist is in much better shape than the average person, who is in better shape than the average homeless person. My first hand experience trying to generate 25 watts on a generator bike tells me that getting even 25 watts per hour is a too much to expect.

    Given the high cost for equipment and the limited power, generating electricity by treadmills is just like trying to push solar electrical power today. Nice, but not practical or cost effective.

  59. The energy source itself should create as few jobs as possible, in order that the inexpensive energy will stimulate and make possible as many jobs that actually produce something as possible.

    If you put each and every unemployed worker in the country to work generating electricity….where would we be? Right where we are now, but subsidizing work that could be done far more efficiently with a high-density energy source. As soon as you become inefficient, someone (or some country) takes up the slack, fills the void, and you go backwards that much more.

  60. Last time I checked, semiconductor production produced lots of toxic waste that can only be disposed of in toxic waste landfills. I suspect the scale of solar panels compared to consumer electronics means orders of magnitude more toxic waste to dispose of.

  61. @Frank Lee MeiDere

    75 watts on a bike is skinning it back dude. Gonna have to spend more than you generate producing the food to feed them. And, they’re gonna have to take about a 15 minute break to recover from each 30 second burst of production. On day two, they’re not gonna show for work, no matter how much you offer them. You’ll need to bring in illegals.

  62. From Dr. Dave on July 28, 2011 at 3:32 pm (excerpts):

    I bought a 55 watt PV panel, a charge controller, a glass pack deep cycle battery and a little power inverter.

    The $150 battery was the first component to fail.
    ==
    He has three huge arrays, a shed filled with deep cycle batteries and heavy duty inverters.

    Batteries get changed relatively frequently as they only have a 5-10 year lifespan.

    Use Nickel-Iron batteries, aka Edison cells or batteries. Old design that works very well. They withstand repeated deep discharges, are tolerant of overcharge and even (limited?) short-circuiting. There are ones over 70 years old still in use, at 100% rated capacity. People actually collect the old ones, and use them. They are stored discharged. When needed you replace the electrolyte (potassium hydroxide), I’ve seen recommendations of every 10 to 20 years. And the used electrolyte you can pour on your garden if you want, it’s safe for the environment.

    There’s quite a bit of interest in them for renewables (wind and solar), well worth looking into. See the linked Wikipedia entry and references, Google for more info. If it’s just the batteries keeping solar from being worthwhile, here’s the solution.

  63. The state of Massachusetts gave Evergreen Solar millions of dollars to build a plant in the state. The company is now on the edge of bankruptcy, due to Chinese competition, and the state will never see its money. Thanks to Governor Deval Patrick for picking a winner.

  64. ‘Last year, the industry set the ambitious yet achievable goal of installing 10 gigawatts annually by 2015 (PDF) – enough to power 2 million more homes each and every year.’

    A few weeks ago I put up a similar fluff piece that reported that, world-wide, the installed manufacturing capacity should be about 20 gigawatts per year, by the end of 2011. Right now, it looks like the 10GW/yr goal for the US is achievable by 2015. The cost might be $0.05/kwh (lifetime) for large systems by then, based on extrapolating recent trends.

    It is true that solar systems generate their power in the daytime, but that matches peak electricity consumption (I previously linked the California Independent Systems Operator web site, which displays predicted and actual demand by quarter hour, and also generation from various sources. You can see that solar power is at least 80% of max from 9am – 5 pm.) For night time use, solar requires backup, but the backup is already in place, and solar generation will allow it to last longer. I previously linked to a Home Depot system for homes; the cost of electricity for that system, per kwh, is lower over its estimated life span than the cost from other methods of providing peak power. Eventually, all of the electricity in the US will be priced according to the load at the time it was used, and then the incentives for home-owners to install their own PV systems will be blatantly obvious — at least in some parts of the US.

    Local solar power is proportional to local insolation, as is local A/C use, and both are eminently predictable.

    This is a topic that should be revisited annually.

    About feed-in tariffs. I support a low feed-in tariff. If I generate electricity to the grid, my neighbor uses it, it goes through his meter, and he pays the utility company for it. It seems fair to me that I get a small share, the large share to go to the local utility which provides and maintains the local grid and which pays CAISO for maintaining the larger grid. To get things started, I would recommend $0.01/kwh; it can be adjusted in light of experience, if such experience justifies keeping it at all.

    Most jobs per megawatt-hour? Really, it is true that some solar backers are not clear thinking. However, that is also a transient, since most of the labor is in the installation.

  65. I have no problem with some funding for R&D for solar power though not wind……….we have been researching wind power for 3000 years. However, it is stupid to subsidize the PRODUCTION of solar energy.

  66. Photovoltaic totally works under the right circumstances. Powering a whole house 24 hours a day is not one of those circumstances. In fact, photovoltaic might not be economical for that application even if the panels were free.

  67. Lead story in our local weekly paper (which is a subsidiary of Murdoch’s empire) is that locals are devastated at how much they’ve spent on their solar panels for very little return and to make matters worse many of them are breaking because of cold temperatures costing over $1000 to fix.

  68. The purpose of a gravy train, is the ride, not the destination. The purpose of solar power is the installation, not the energy. It will be the salesmen who derive the benefit, and the consumers will be left with the pane.

    The easy solar build-outs will be sold first. Rural locations with open sunny areas and southern suburbanites with untapped home equity will buy first. Following will be larger professional installations over parking lots and roof tops of businesses.

    Here on the Gulf coast of Florida, they are already placing highly visible solar panels on top of the tall, free standing advertising signs. When the big box home improvement stores start mass retailing solar panels, the amateur weekend handyman will be putting up panels just like the ones they see on those Lamar signs. The trouble will start when the next hurricane blows through and those 100 pound, glass and metal panels become 90 mile per hour missiles flying around the neighborhoods.

  69. Ask Portugal and Spain how many net jobs were created in their competition to become “solar capitals of the world”. Forty-plus cents per Kwh power destroys many times the number of jobs created nationally than those created within the solar industry itself. Hiding that effect from consumers via subsidies funded by taxpayers does not change the overall economic effect of solar.

  70. Bob Diaz says:
    July 28, 2011 at 4:29 pm

    RE: Frank Lee MeiDere says: … Why not hire the homeless to generate power through bicycles? At 75 watts per hour per bike … “Tests cited in this book, carried out by Oxford University Professor Stuart Wilson, found that the average cyclist can generate 75 watts per hour.” …

    Hi Bob. Sorry, about that. I re-read my post and realised that it could have been taken as a serious suggestion.

    And then I felt sad.

    Because, while the idea of powering our civilisation by the use of human generators may seem self-evidently unacceptable, and outright horrifying to most of us at WUWT (and to most of the general population, I hope), it’s true that a large number of urban eco-warriors would appear to view it as so self-evidently acceptable, and outright utopian that they can only believe those who object to it are motivated by personal greed.

    Rest assured — I never meant it as a real proposition. I was mostly interested that on a theoretical, ideal plane, this woefully inefficient and inhumane system would still be producing far power than the solar method.

    But I really should have realised that, from a certain angle, it could look like I was being serious.

    It’s a bad old time, isn’t it, Bob?

  71. What dunderheads. “We find that all non-fossil fuel technologies (renewable energy, EE, low carbon) create more jobs per unit energy than coal and natural gas.”
    First, who ever said that that is a legitimate or proper standard by which to judge anything? Some years ago someone claimed that microchips consumed more energy per mass that the average car. OK, but so what? Does that mean we get rid of microchips? It is irrelevant. We shouldn’t set energy policy based on job creation. Energy policy should be based on getting useable energy to the consumer most efficiently and in the least costly way.
    Second, coal and natural gas are established, mature industries. They did their job creation years ago. What if coal and natural gas employ a million people but green energy after its meteoric growth only employs 100,000? What if to create those 100,000 jobs the millions in the traditional energy industry have to lose theirs.
    This is data, for the sake of data, totally irrelevant and largely worthless, except to advance a political agenda.

  72. re commieBob- “In fact, photovoltaic might not be economical for that application even if the panels were free.”

    I’ve been tracking panel prices for a while now. China and Taiwan have ramped production from zero 3 years ago to more than 50% of the global market this year. They will dominate the globe within 5 years. This shift has driven prices down at the same time that production is being automated. Blemished poly-Si panels with some defects are available for 0.70/Watt right now.

    Now assume the panels are free. If these are installed by you, using home-made panel supports, and grid tied inverter, disconnect to breaker panel, no tax credits or subsidies taken, the cost is still about $1.50/W(pk). The payback time here in Florida (5 hrs/day full sun, 80% efficiency), at 0.13/kWhr grid prices, is about 8 years, assuming you didn’t take out a loan for the initial outlay, and there are no maintenance costs (ha!).

    This is basically at my threshold for installing them on my home. Of course, it means I am doing all of the design, installation and commissioning work.

    If the free panels are installed by a contractor, the payback period is multiple decades, even with the 30% tax credit. This is partly because the installers jack up prices to grab as much of your tax credit as possible. I have a grid-tied system price quote from last fall for $9.50/W(pk) installed by a contractor. Yikes!

  73. Frank Lee MeiDere says:
    July 28, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    … Here is my not-so-quick (but still-took-a-long-time) estimate on comparing solar power to bicycle power.

    93,000 people to create 3,000 mega watts which powers 600,000 homes.

    Why not hire the homeless to generate power through bicycles? At 75 watts per hour per bike (Pedal Power, Wilson, D. G., McCullagh, J., 1977 : Cited in EcoHearth, ““Pedal-powered appliances for home, business and leisure”, 2011) this would supply 61,101 mega watts a year, which would power 12,220,200 homes?

    Two items:

    1) Can I be politically incorrect? (That’s a stupid question, I’m well skilled in being politically incorrect.)

    Hire the obese to do the peddling – they come with their own energy supply!

    2) watts, watt hours, and watt hours per day.

    You have abused the units to the point I can’t figure out what you mean.

    3,000 mega watts which powers 600,000 homes is 3 Mw per 600 homes, 5 kw/home. At 720 hours per month, that’s 3600 kwh per month. That’s a lot more than my peak usage. Perhaps they’re assuming electric heat.

    93,000 people to create 3,000 mega watts is way too few people! You need multiple people per house – one person has no hope of powering six houses!

    A professional bicyclist in the Tour de France can’t sustain 400 watts for an hour, your figure is some 30 kw per person – off by a factor of 100. http://www.srm.de/index.php/gb/srm-blog/tour-de-france/661

    75 watts per hour per bike – 75 watts per bike makes sense (achievable, even) 75 watt-hours per hour per bike is okay, but silly. For a 40 hour work week, call it 2000 hours per year, that would be 150 kwh per bicyclist per year. I’d need a lot of them, even if I shut off the air conditioning! At $0.10 per kwh, each would only supply $15 of electricity per year.

    People don’t appreciate exactly how cheap energy is today….

    ——–

    Power – units are watts, joules/sec, calories/sec, foot-lbs/sec, horsepower etc. It’s the number printed on a light bulb.

    Energy – power use over time. units are watt-hours, killowatt-hours (kwh), joules, BTU, etc. It’s what you pay the utility company for. 100 w light for an hour, that’s 0.1 kwh. two 100 w lights for 5 hours, that’s 1.0 kwh, 10X the energy. 75 watts per hour – that’s turning on another 75 watt light every hour. You’d have 24 of them on a day later.

  74. Perhaps its not such a good idea to compare jobs per installed MW but rather per MWh. Cost structure of solar is rather different and so is its visual impact. This is a developing technology that has made fantastic gains in the last few years. It will not make coal he nuclear obsolete anytime soon, if ever, but it most probably already can do good in countries where electricity is used for cooling and ease the load on the power grid. That may prove to be really handy when an increasing number of vehicles rely on electricity. Now, if that happens, there will be a lot more batteries around. This will make the business case for solar look better as well

  75. chris y wrote: I have a grid-tied system price quote from last fall for $9.50/W(pk) installed by a contractor.

    Large scale systems in California recently have been priced at $3.50/watt — total costs, no credit offsets. Home systems about double that. I posted links to a couple of examples a while back.

  76. yeah, a minimal look at Edison iron batteries show that while they have a long life-cycle, they suck at storing energy. 30% storage, and heavy.

    The only good battery is hydro, (or really, coal/methane/oil) and Greens don’t like it.

  77. How much has all this cost the taxpayer? Because of the huge subsidies required, solar energy is absolutely worthless for consumers.

  78. Wolfman says:
    July 28, 2011 at 1:58 pm
    “One question–”is more jobs per megawatt than any other energy source” another way of saying that it is economically inefficient?

    Yes. You tee’d up the first comment… and ‘put it in the cup’! Hole in One!

  79. TO: Frank Lee MeiDere
    RE: Hi Bob. Sorry, about that. I re-read my post and realised that it could have been taken as a serious suggestion.

    I understood you intended this as satire and I failed to include a comment on the satire. However, just to have some fun with numbers…

    Assume an average person could generate 25 watts for 8 hours, that’s 25 watts x 8 hours = 200 watt hours. / 1,000 to convert to kWh = 0.2 kWh. Ignoring the cost of the equipment, the federal minimum wage for covered nonexempt employees is $7.25 per hour effective July 24, 2009. Thus $7.25 per hour x 8 hours = $58 for 0.2 kWh or $290 per kWh!!!! Now that makes solar power look cheap.

  80. There was an article in the May/June issue of IEEE Power and Energy Magazine entitled ‘State of the Solar Union’, by Shyam Mehta. Shyam Mehta is a Senior Analyst at GTM (GreenTech Media) Research, focusing on global solar markets. He is a solar PV cheerleader.

    It has this gem-

    “Almost half of 2010 demand for PV, in terms of Megawatts of installations, was driven by a single market- Germany, with 7.5 GW. That country has the ideal combination of qualities required of a PV market: a still-attractive feed-in tariff (despite numerous reductions over the years), short project-cycle times, and an uncapped incentive program.”

    Notice anything missing from this list? Yup, no mention of daily solar insolation. Now why would that not even get a mention?

    Another gem- “The exception is 2008, where Spain briefly assumed that role [of savior market]; again, it was an irrationally generous incentive program, along with a loophole, that effectively produced an uncapped market that year,…”

    So as of June 2011, with Si PV panel prices dropping below $2/Watt (peak DC), and panel manufacturing costs below the holy grail of $1/W, the global solar PV market remains completely dependent on subsidies, tax credits, property and sales tax exemptions, cash rebates, renewable portfolio standards, feed-in tariffs, accelerated depreciation rates, fast-tracking of construction permits, no-cost land leases, environmental impact exemptions, etc, etc, etc.

  81. And the tax payers don’t subsidize nuclear or oil? All the externalities of oil and coal fully priced?

  82. Solar PV is a complex subject. Add in variable rate costing, and the subject goes beyond
    the comprehension of almost everybody.

    When I lived in California I spend months trying to understand the electrical rate structure,
    US Federal tax credits for solar, insolation variation, mount angles, inverter systems,
    local zoning codes, state tax credits and several other interacting factors. As it so
    happened I had
    1) Tier 3 and Tier 4 power usage
    2) Good roof area
    3) Electrical and mechanical skills
    4) Cash to self fund purchase up front
    5) Income to take advantage of the tax benefits
    6) Enough physics background and computation modeling experience to calculate
    the right array size

    So I researched, purchased, installed and operated a PV system at my CA home.
    No salesman, sell-back lease, installer, etc. involved. Lowest cost was not my object,
    but rather maximum ROI — something nobody will sell you.
    I was on the 7 year ROI schedule, which was quite an accomplishment. My 1.2 KW
    system cut my power bill around $100 per month.

    Then I got laid off, sold my house, and moved to Oregon. Since I owned my system
    outright, it was easy to move it to a new house. Except that I had to once again
    research mounts, angles, wiring and ROI. We chose to keep the system and
    it is now installed at the new house and producing power. ROI is worse, but
    we also use more power now that we have an electric dryer, electric range and
    electric well pump. So ROI remains good, but not 7 years good.

    ROI calculations for owner-builder PV systems are amazingly complex.

  83. I think subsidies of solar energy can be justified in the short term if the result is a viable industry that can stand on its own. If solar energy will ALWAYS require subsidies, then that is no good. As far as creating more jobs per megawatt-hour of energy, that might be positive if it means the creation of jobs in many different industries that are supporting solar power. Of course, if we are talking about the solar power industry alone, that is inefficient. But we do need to make our energy production much less carbon-intensive.

  84. Sal Minella says:
    July 28, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    Sal, thank you, and this is the hidden cost rarerly considered or quantified by anyone. PLEASE read Sal’s post, if anyone has a stuDY which quantifies this, I would appreciate it.

  85. Harnessing fossil fuels brought an end to the need for slavery. It looks like harnessing the sun will bring it back.

  86. Solar energy is creating more jobs per megawatt than any other energy source

    Wow, and that probably doesn’t take into account maintenance. Have to hire people to keep the grass around the solar arrays trimmed and to blow off the dust, you know.

  87. Kum Dollison says:
    July 28, 2011 at 4:20 pm
    It’s, now, expected that some Solar Farms will be installed next year at a cost of $2.00/watt, or even less.

    Considering, that these panels are assumed to last, at least, 50 years, and possibly much longer,
    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
    I looked into solar 8 years ago when I was building a new farm house. I know things have improved but NO ONE would guarantee their solar panels for even 20 years back then – read the fine print, they prorated them so the 20 year guarantee at the end of 20 years was virtually nil. And batteries – that is another story. Solar was at least 10 times the cost of grid power at that time when you included back up generation, battery and inverter replacement and solar panel failure rate and replacement. I have many solar panels around the farm for fencing and water pumping so please don’t tell me how maintenance free they are. They need regular cleaning in the summer to keep the voltage up, and they need even more cleaning in the winter to keep the snow off. So, I have a propane generator and a grid connection. Love to see where you got the “at least” 50 year life of solar panels as I have never seen anything much over 30 years – and since those panels have not done 30 years yet ….

  88. Economists used to refer to government attempts to manipulate taxes and tariffs to create local industries as hot house industries. Perhaps such efforts will be called greenhouse industries soon.

    I wish the solar (and wind) developers would focus on he niches where their products make sense (areas without a well developed electric grid for rich now) and not try to saddle the consumers with their expensive, unreliable product by political edicts.

  89. Frank Perdicaro at 9:56 pm has an excellent cautionary tale. You need to spend a lot of time with your calculator before you make a purchase. There are sad stories everywhere, notably the case of Spain.

  90. Graham wrote:

    Too true, Mark. May as well ask “How many hippies on welfare does it take to change a light bulb?”

    Wow man, that would be about… Umm… Hey, stop bogarting that joint! I needs some Pringles…

  91. From joe Matais on July 28, 2011 at 3:36 pm:

    The TÛRANOR PlanetSolar Journey Around the World
    The M/S Tûranor PlanetSolar, the world’s largest solar boat, began her journey around the world in Monaco on 27th September 2010. The mission is to demonstrate that existing renewable energy technologies are reliable and effective.

    Good news!

    World’s largest, most advanced solar-powered boat in Phl
    By Rhodina Villanueva (The Philippine Star) Updated July 28, 2011 12:00 AM

    MANILA, Philippines – The world’s largest and most advanced solar-powered boat, M/S Tûranor Planet Solar, has arrived in Manila to promote solar power, the World Wide Fund (WWF) for Nature announced yesterday.

    WWF-Philippines chairman Vincent Perez said the multi-hulled catamaran aims to be the first solar-powered boat to circumnavigate the world, traveling over 55,000 kilometers westward across the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans.

    “It set sail from Monaco in southern France last September 27, 2010 and has just arrived in Manila from Australia. The Philippine stop is a recognition of the country’s strong support for renewable energy,” Perez said.

    Wow, it only took them 10 months to get that far. Quick math with 30-day months, that’s 183 kilometers per 24-hr day, a bit more than 7.6 kph. Yup, as clearly shown by ‘the world’s most advanced solar-powered boat’, solar is well-positioned to become the “fuel of choice” for commercial shipping. Maybe the US Navy should consider it as well. Either that, or switch back to wind-powered sailing ships.

    BTW, after reviewing the geographical placement of the Philippines, what qualifies as going across the Indian Ocean to get there? Taking the long route around the Western coast of Australia? If so, why’d they do that?


    The German vessel measures 31 by 15 meters and tips the scales at 85 tonnes; 537 square meters of photovoltaic solar panels provide up to 127 horsepower – enough to keep the craft moving at a constant 14 kilometers per hour. The ship is exclusively powered by 38,000 high-efficiency solar cells all produced in the Philippines at the manufacturing facilities of SunPower Corp. Already it has won two accolades – the fastest crossing of the Atlantic by a solar-powered vessel and the longest distance covered by a solar-powered electric vehicle.

    Quick math: 14kph * 10 months * 30 days/month * 24 hrs/day = 100,800 kilometers. So it’s traveled a bit more than half of the maximum amount possible.

    Searching for the nearest fossil fuel-burning equivalent, a new Evinrude E-TEC 130HP outboard motor can be had for around US$12,000. It’s very clean running: “Fully stratified combustion for an exceptionally cleaner boating environment, meeting EU2006 and CARB’s 3-star ultra low emissions standards.” For cost comparisons one would have to guesstimate the gasoline and oil (it’s 2-stroke) consumption and prices wherever they end up filling up.

    Of course I’ve seen pics of boats, often in developing countries, where the “motor” looks like a standard automotive engine counterbalanced on a pivot with a very long shaft and propeller on the end, tilt the prop in and out of the water by hand, also provides directional control. Entire setup could probably be had for $3000 to much less. That could definitely be around 127 HP to somewhat more.

    Gee, I wonder how those prices compare to 38,000 high-end high-efficiency solar cells, the electric motor, and everything else needed. But hey, the fuel is free so it’ll pay for itself eventually.

    BTW, did any other solar-powered vessel ever cross the Atlantic before? If so, just how slow were they?

  92. 252Mw of installed capacity? When the wind industry talk of installed capacity they ignore the fact that you get 20% of that, if lucky. Since solar panels are around 10% efficient then that gives 25Mw. So all those jobs for such paltry returns, is it worth it.

  93. Cover your roof with solar panels and a solar hot water heater, fill your basement if you have one with batteries and inverters then you are off the grid. To live like your neighbours you will need to spend the odd 100,000 dollars but you will be free of the grid, the battery maintenance and longevity is like looking after a swimming pool in a bad place. This is predicacted on the fact that the sun will shine, This is not always the case, and not only is the shower not particularly to your liking but the TV will not work either, a couple of weeks of nasty weather and your 100,000 dollars looks like a bad investment. Especially when you have to ask your neighbours if you can have a shower.

  94. Specifically, the authors state “we find that all non-fossil fuel technologies (renewable energy, EE, low carbon) create more jobs…” As many readers here have observed, “waste more jobs” is the reality. Who do they think pay for the scam?

    @kuhnkat July 28, 2011 at 8:53 pm
    “What happens when the gubmint can no longer subsidize this boondoggle??”
    Spain’s idiocy answer’s that.

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/06/17/spain_sustainability_scam/

  95. ferd berple says:
    July 28, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    “Why not simply hire people to turn hand cranks to produce energy. That would certainly create even more jobs than solar power per megawatt.”

    That is very funny!
    So, instead of “Power to the People”, it will be “Power from the People”.

  96. edbarbar said on July 28, 2011 at 7:30 pm:

    yeah, a minimal look at Edison iron batteries show that while they have a long life-cycle, they suck at storing energy. 30% storage, and heavy.

    The only good battery is hydro, (or really, coal/methane/oil) and Greens don’t like it.

    Perhaps, but not many homeowners have two suitably-sized reservoirs, high and low ones, in their backyard, especially in the suburbs. And they’re a real pain to install in apartment buildings. If you’ve doing solar with storage on less than a large-commercial or utility scale, batteries are most likely the only practical choice, likely the only storage method possible. And compared to lead-acid and other competing battery technologies, nickel-iron holds the lead for long-term price advantage.

    Where did you pull that “30% storage” from? For a longer look try this vendor’s FAQ. They specify new ones as 90% efficient, then leveling off to around 80% during their lifetime, which can easily be many decades. See their main page for more info and assorted testimonials and magazine excerpts. Which includes an excerpt and pic from a 1980 Mother Jones article about a guy who collects and uses the old ones, some of which were 80 years old at the time of writing and still working.

    I am not a Green (capital g), often not even “small-g green”, but I can acknowledge “green” technology that actually works and is worthwhile. Home-based PV can be right at the edge of being fiscally prudent, even an acceptable choice when self-installed and even home-brew (panel construction). Batteries are a problem, nickel-iron works and can be a deciding factor, I’m just admitting they can be a good choice, likely the best choice. ;-)

  97. See the Energy Information Agency statistics (year to date) in the executive summary part 1.

    http://www.eia.gov/cneaf/electricity/epm/epm_sum.html

    In electricity generation coal is still king followed by natural gas, nuclear, and hydro a distant fourth. Everything else added together is minimal. Solar is generation and storage have to become much more efficient to be a realistic energy source for the nation. We generate ten times more electricity from landfills, industrial waste, agricultural waste, and other biomass than we do from solar.

    As a nation our trash generates more electricity than photovoltaics.

  98. >>Rosco says: July 28, 2011 at 2:09 pm
    >>Solar energy is certainly the green energy everyone can get
    >>behind – if only it weren’t so damned expensive.

    Everyone??

    Hey, Rosco, I work the night-shift.

    .

  99. >>Solar-boat
    >>Quick math: 14kph * 10 months * 30 days/month * 24 hrs/day = 100,800
    >>kilometers. So it’s traveled a bit more than half of the maximum amount possible.

    Perhaps they forgot to factor in the fact that the sun goes down at the end of each day !?!

    Seriously, just what do they do at night with that solar-boat? I bet there is not a whole load of excess power to recharge a vast array of batteries, so I imagine that the craft is pretty much dead in the water at night or after a week of cloudy days.

    This is what the Green fraternity fail to tell the public – that their pipe-dreams are simply that. They may champion a solar aircraft, and pretend that this is the future of air travel, but fail to mention that its payload is just 80kg and it is so fragile it needs a crew of 12 to handle it (Solar-Impulse). They may champion wind power for boats, but fail to mention that when we did use wind power, the entire fleet was often bottled up in port for weeks due to unfavourable winds, or likewise becalmed in the Sargasso Sea.

    We are building a ‘future’ on unrealistic pipe-dreams.

    .

    P.S. The concept of a solar boat is not new. Here is one from 2500 BC (/sarc)

    .

  100. Doug Badgero said on July 28, 2011 at 5:10 pm:

    I have no problem with some funding for R&D for solar power though not wind……….we have been researching wind power for 3000 years. However, it is stupid to subsidize the PRODUCTION of solar energy.

    I agree, as the fuel is free and the production will go on regardless. However I can envisage some politician somewhere pushing a “solar power production replenishment tax”:
    The Sun will not always produce free solar energy! The fuel is being consumed. We need this tax now to save enough money to refill the Sun with more hydrogen someday. And we can’t wait to do this until after the Sun runs out of hydrogen, we will all freeze to death as soon as the solar flame goes out!

  101. chris y says:
    July 28, 2011 at 9:42 pm

    ….

    Notice anything missing from this list? Yup, no mention of daily solar insolation. Now why would that not even get a mention?

    =====

    I took the trouble a few months ago to look up the day length and maximum sun angle in December in Berlin. Less than 8 hours and 17 degrees respectively. It looks like there is simply no way that solar is going to work well except possibly in extremely specialized off grid applications for about a third of the year in Germany.

  102. Ferd Berple:
    Why not simply hire people to turn hand cranks to produce energy. That would certainly create even more jobs than solar power per megawatt.

    The article says 93,000 people made enough solar for 252MW per quarter, or 1GW annually. 1e9/93e3 = 10,752W per person. Using, say, 25W per person per crank, you would need 93000*10725/25 or 40,000,000 people to generate 1GW. The USA uses 29.26 PWH per year, or 29.25e15/365/24 watts, or 3.33e12 watts. So you would need only 1.33e11 people 24×7 to run bicycles to generate that kind of power. Or only 435x the entire population of the USA. Seems rather inefficient.

    Exercise: After how many years of growth of the solar industry at current rates will it supply 100% of USA power, assuming it runs at 100% capacity and is always on? Assume no constraints. How many years if it runs at normal capacity and is 100% storable?

    Energy is unbelievably cheap. Real energy, that is.

  103. re Frank Perdicaro-

    “My 1.2 KW system cut my power bill around $100 per month. ”

    This claimed savings is way too high. Depending on where in CA you were located, the average hours of direct sun per day is around 5.6 hrs/day (based on average of latitude-fixed-tilt panels at 10 sites in NREL database for CA). A perfectly operating 1.2KW system (always quoted based on panel DC peak output power operating at the maximum power transfer point on the VI curve) will provide about 1 KW AC maximum. That comes to 5.6 kWhr/day, or 168 kWhr/month.

    If you are saving $100 per month, then you must have been paying about 60 cents/kWhr from your power company. This seems outrageously high, even for California…

    Or perhaps the feed-in tariff was 60 cents/kWhr? That would be similar to Ontario, Canada’s FIT.

  104. It is impressive to see ‘gigawatts’ associated with solar energy.
    However, there is a question that needs to be answered:
    What is the actual output of solar vs the nominal power capability?
    In wind mill power,the actual output is a small fraction of the stated capacity in most situations.
    What is actual vs. stated in solar PV?

  105. Mike Jonas says: July 28, 2011 at 2:16 pm “If American consumers are forced to pay higher prices for solar electricity, as Spanish consumers have been forced to do, then the jobs are a very dangerous illusion.”

    Mike here in the state of CA we have in place a legislated mandate for green power as defined in our Renewable Energy Standard for the electrical market (we recently passed a law to have 33% of our electrical energy coming from RE sources- we are not allowed to count our large hydro generation as a RE source by the way- by the year 2020). And yes, in order to install solar generated electricity the cost of the generation has to be paid for by someone. Approved RE projects will be paid as follows for the electricity they generate. http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/PUBLISHED/FINAL_RESOLUTION/111386.htm

    The costs of the generation will be paid for by-
    1) consumers of the RE electricity in our state- (see above link for the costs that PG&E, SCE and SDG&E customers will be paying for the generation of RE-note that the time of delivery factors are very important in calculating the costs that will have to be absorbed (via some cost allocation process) by the ratepayers.
    2) the taxpayers of the state through various incentive programs (rebates, tax credits) to individuals, institutions and corporations
    3) the taxpayers of the country through various incentive programs (rebates, tax credits, accelerated depreciations, etc. etc.)

    The opportunity costs of paying a generator $.24+ (PG&E) or .34+ (SCE) for solar energy for 20 years of output during peak times was discussed by a former chief of staff to the chairman of the PUC (http://www.sacbee.com/2010/08/13/2955810/state-should-look-before-it-leaps.html#none) And yes, the disposable income of the ratepayers in the state will be less then otherwise would of been the case so other jobs will be lost as only governments can run deficits for long periods of time.

  106. In SoCal, power rates are highly non-linear, thus the Tier numbering.
    IIRC, Tier 4 was like $.5 per KWH — stupidly high. The inverter system
    I bought is particularly good at capturing power at non-peak hours.
    Behavior modification also comes into play a bit. My neighbor on one
    side had a $400 bill, and on the other in the $200 range. Our bills
    infrequently went above $80.

    Now here is some news. Unlike almost anybody else, I publish my solar
    power statistics on-line in real time! No PRAR or FOI needed to check
    my power production. See

    http://enlighten.enphaseenergy.com/public/systems/YTjf174

    Looking at the Lifetime graph you can clearly see the variation as a
    function of time of year, and when I reposition the panels for greater
    yield and when I bought a few more.

    You can even see the panels from space via Google Earth.

  107. hunter says:
    July 29, 2011 at 5:42 am
    “What is actual vs. stated in solar PV?”

    You usually announce the peak performance of your plant. For every place on the planet you can look up the number of hours of full insolation per year; 800 hours for Germany, for instance. So you get this number of hours times the peak performance as the power delivered per year. For Germany, this results in a capacity factor of about 10%.

  108. Kum Dollison says:
    July 28, 2011 at 4:20 pm
    “It’s, now, expected that some Solar Farms will be installed next year at a cost of $2.00/watt, or even less.

    Considering, that these panels are assumed to last, at least, 50 years, and possibly much longer, and considering that in most areas of the U.S. the electricity needed most is during that time that Solar Cells are most effective, and there’s very little doubt that that electricity will be the cheapest ever installed.”

    It’s 2.40 EUR per Watt for silicon PV ATM; at about 1.40 EUR/USD that’s 3.36 USD. You have to include the cost of the inverters. I often get the impression that people think it suffices to mention the price of the modules; but that’s only half the cost.
    Assuming that the price goes down with 20% a year we would arrive at 2.8 USD next year for panel+inverter. Maybe by using cheaper thin film panels you might arrive at a slightly lower cost, but the gap between thin film (First Solar, Cadmium Telluride) and silicon is getting narrower. Also, you will have to use more area with the thin film solution as they’re less efficient. So it only works out when you have a lot of cheap land. The cost of the land is usually not mentioned in all these wildy optimistic cost assessments.

    So, yes, i very much doubt that you will get cheap electricity from that. Wait another decade.

  109. In 2010, the median US household income was $52,026. When someone proposes a solar project that costs $1 million and will create anything less than 20 jobs, they are proposing a NET DESTRUCTION of wealth. The project funds will come from somewhere, even if they are borrowed or made available through theft-by-dilution (aka printing money).

    One of the reasons the left (er, “progressives”) gives for hating oil is that they insist “we are not paying the full price”. And to the extent we have to have to buy a large military to protect the flow of foreign oil, they are right. But where is their desire to have the public pay the full price of solar energy? They don’t dare raise that issue because they know that solar power is not presently “sustainable”. But the left, who is the first to claim any cut in government services is done at the expense of the poor, is happy to have solar power at the expense of everyone by government subsidies and policy distortions.

    I look forward to having solar panels on my roof, when doing so makes economic sense. Not a penny before that.

  110. I began experimenting with solar (PV and water heating) a few years ago. For my location (central NM) the water heating is a big win. For my family of three, $3k in hardware has eliminated any non-solar energy being used during the summer months to around 50% in the winter months (note that I did all the installation myself). Adding more collectors would boost the winter numbers but since I’m already saturated in the summer, the cost/benefit would be much less. Also note that my house is all electric (wood for winter heat).

    For solar PV, I have 1KW pseudo grid tie system connected to a computer for monitoring. I paid about $2.50/Watt a few years ago for the panels. The same panels are now about $1/Watt cheaper.

    Testing shows that my system will produce, on average, 200 Watt/hours 24/7. Of course the power produced is higher when the sun is out and zero at night 8^). This is the total power produced divided by the time of the test. Power drops during the winter months, but panel output is actually higher due to the cooler temps.
    Of course payback is many years away, and I saved by doing my own install. but it goes to show that in my area, a 20% ‘efficiency’ rating is ballpark. That is, when a system has a claimed capacity (usually the peak power rating of the panels), the actual averaged power is 20%. A 5-KW ‘system’ will actually produce 1KW. A 5 KW system theoretically would 100% cover my typical electric usage, which cost about $100/month. A rough guess on the hardware costs means about a 10-year payback. Paying for installation, etc. could easily double that time.

    I read somewhere that for every Watt you can save by reduced usage (i.e. turning off the light in an empty room), you could effectively eliminate 4 Watts of installed solar costs. Basically it’s far cheaper to save what you can by conserving usage versus trying to offset the usage with solar.

    Passive solar water heating (good deal)
    PV electric (pure novelty item)

  111. Depending on whether you use the Spanish (2.2) or Scottish/Danish (3.7) numbers, those 93,000 jobs cost 204,000 or 344,100 jobs elsewhere (in the real economy, that has to pay its own way–plus carry the rent-seekers).

  112. I heard a solar installer on the radio the other day waxing about the wonders of solar energy and freeing yourself from the power companies.
    Using the numbers he provided on the show.
    A 2.5kW system cost $20,000. The nice kind generous taxpayers pick up half of that, so the cost to the homeowner is only $10K.
    He has found that this system can reduce your power bill by $50/mo during the summer.

    That sounds great, doesn’t it.

    Assuming summer lasted all year. That would be $600/yr of power. Let’s assume that you got a 30 year 5% loan to buy that panel. That works out to a payment of $53.86 a month.
    $53 is greater than $50. That’s a problem.

    Here’s another problem. It isn’t summer all year long. At this latitude, we have about 14.5 hours of sunlight in the summer. It drops to 9.5 in the winter. Also the sun is lower on the horizon. Also we get several feet of snow per year. I bet the power production drops dramatically when there is even 1 inch of snow on the panels. So in the winter, you will get much, much less power from these panels.

    Here’s another problem. Your payments last for 30 years, but the panel won’t.
    In addition to snow, you have to clean the dust and the bird poop off of the panels, otherwise your power output drops. Oh, and be careful not to scratch the glass, otherwise that will also drop your efficiency.

    Final note, good luck finding a 5% loan. 10% is more likely.

    In other words, even with taxpayers picking up half the tab, these things will still lose you lots of money before you are done.

  113. “One needs to calculate jobs/(investment + subsidy) to understand whether the jobs created are a net drain or positive for the economy.”

    Ya, but there’s no calculation necessary.

    On a network basis each MW of solar has to be backstopped by about a MW of Nuclear/Thermal/Hydro.

    This means that you for each installed solar MW you need a second MW “on standby” from a stndard nuke, steam or gas turbine that’s ready to rumble.

    It does not take an economist to realize that each MW of solar therefore costs not only the cost of the solar + subsidy + eyesore rating, but also the investment for the standby power, which “oh by the way” could have handled the load without the solar.

    So, with no math, I can demonstrate that solar power is a waste of money until you can store power cheaply in industrial quantities .

    ( invent that: cheap dense power storage, and your wealth will make Bill Gates look like a pauper starving in rags. Young nubile women will beg to be your mistress, world leaders will plead to have you for a luncheon. )

    Next question?

  114. My husband was a top executive at two different solar companies within the last 3 years. He knows how much money is required to produce each watt. And he also knows that it isn’t possible to make a profit without a government subsidy. If the solar companies had to produce a product on their own, they would all quickly go under. The numbers don’t lie. And all the wishful thinking in the world isn’t going to change the facts.
    Which is why he is no longer involved in the solar industry….

  115. “There are now almost 3,000 megawatts of solar electric energy installed in the U.S.”

    OK – So that is about equal to 3 large base-load coal or nuclear plants. But its not even that, the base-load plants run 24 hours a day while solar doesn’t. The “3,000 megawatts” is capacity not output. Solar doesn’t run at night, it runs at reduced output at all times other than noon. Overcaste reduces it still further. So in actuality the total installed U.S. solar output equals 1 rather small generating station.

    Then there is land usage. Large base-load plants take about 40 acres each (so a total of 120 acres to match the 3,000 megawatt capacity). How much land is required for the 3,000 megawatt solar capacity? I don’t know, but it is in the multiple square mile range.

  116. Mark Wilson – you math isn’t adding up (again)

    A 2.5kW system will drop you bill by a lot more than $50/mo during the summer for most people

    Your latitude isn’t the only one on earth – try this in NM, AZ, TX, NV,CA etc. Not every area is equal in output.

    A HELOC after tax is probably under 5% net cost.

    Put that all together and you are looking at 7-10 repay, which is shorter than panel lifespan.

  117. Actually – 7-10 is probably a bit too aggressive although I’ve seen it. 9-15 is probably safer to use.

  118. Bystander
    Most systems are specified in peak power capability of the panels. This is determined by an industry term ‘STC’ (standard test conditions). You might exceed this value slightly when the sunlight is intense and your panels are cold. More likely you will start to factor in losses when the panels are not incident to the sun, there is dirt/etc. reducing panel efficiency, the cell temperature is above STC (this loss can be huge), and the sunlight is passing through more atmosphere (early am/evenings). There are also losses in the inverters (5% typ.) and of course you don’t produce this ‘peak’ power throughout the day/year. The 2.5kW system dropping costs $50/month
    fits in very nicely with my empirical testing.

  119. “Solar industry on the rise”? Normally that would be fantastic news, especially in a down economy as we have now. And, 93 k jobs is certainly nothing to sneeze at. Too bad it’s an “industry” built on the backs of both ratepayers as well as taxpayers though. As such, it is a sham, and an expensive one at that. And in a down economy, at a time when here in the USA we’re bumping our heads up against a debt ceiling of over 14 $trillion, with the possibility of default. Greenies must be thrilled.

  120. Keith wrote: As a nation our trash generates more electricity than photovoltaics.

    That’s true, and harvesting trash is spreading, a good development. That is no argument against developing solar power.

    Brewster wrote: The 2.5kW system dropping costs $50/month
    fits in very nicely with my empirical testing.

    How much you save depends on how much electricity you consume, what time of day you consume it, how much sunlight you receive, and the local electricity rates. I have neighbors who in the summer and spring and autumn spend as much as $300/month on electricity, 90% of that for daytime A/C. We have enough sun that they could power their A/C entirely by solar, and then power a heat pump in winter to save most of their gas bill. In consequence, more and more rooftop systems are being installed. It’s cheaper to reduce electricity usage the way I do (which makes solar prohibitively expensive), but for people who want A/C, solar is a very attractive alternative at today’s prices.

    Fred2 wrote: It does not take an economist to realize that each MW of solar therefore costs not only the cost of the solar + subsidy + eyesore rating, but also the investment for the standby power, which “oh by the way” could have handled the load without the solar.

    In most parts of the U.S. the standby power is already in place, but is wearing out and will have to be replaced. In most parts of the U.S., the standby power is not sufficient to meet peak loads, so new generators must be purchased to meet the increasing peak demand, and those generators for peak demand produce high-priced electricity because they only sell their electricity for a few hours per day. In some of these places, such as CA, AZ, NM, and TX, solar is currently the most cost-effective way to add new peak generating capacity. To the degree that it reduces the demand on the standby power plants, it increases their lifespan.

    The only general truth here is that all of the economic calculations depend on time of day, use of the electricity, and locality; and that the costs are changing rapidly, compared to the historical trend.

  121. Solar=CO2 Increase? The solar advocates claim that a 5 kW residential solar system is equivalent to planting an acre of trees.. which is just about the amount of trees I would have to cut for sun to reach the solar collectors on my roof. Of course doing so would also significantly increase the heat loading on my house and I’d be operating the a/c all summer like my neighbors rather than a couple of hot nights each year.
    And then there’s the increased emissions from all the backup. I understand that solar can change output much more rapidly than wind– 50% change in 30 seconds —which means more CO2-..producing spinning reserve.
    The installation of more efficient air conditioners would cost much less in terms of $$/CO2 than solar.

  122. What is the situation in Flanders, a region in Belgium? Here, solar energy is generously subsidied. I give an example.
    If I install this year solar panels of 3 kWp:
    1. Cost of installation, including VAT: 12,720 euro.
    – federal tax refund: 40% or 5,088 euro (spread over three years)
    – local tax refund: 7.5% of 5,088 or 381.6 euro
    – total tax refund: 5,469.6 euro
    Final cost of installation: 12,720 – 5,469.6 = 7,250.4 euro.
    2. Saving
    – of energy costs: 3 kWp produces about 2,550 kWh per year. This renders a saving of € 433.5 per year.
    – You receives certificates for the production of green energy: € 330 per 1,000 kWh or € 330 x 2.55 = € 841.5 per year (during 20 years).
    Total saving per year (during 20 years): € 433.5 + € 841.5 = € 1,275

    But the sting is in the tail! Finally, the certificates have to be paid by all consumers! The more there are solar panels in a region, the more the consumers have to pay. Due to the certificates for the production of green energy, the consumer will in 2020 have to pay about € 132 per year. An average electricity bill of a family amounts to € 700. So, there will be an increase with 18% of the electricity cost (supposing the prices of energy remain constant). And 28% of all costs of green energy will be related to solar panels in 2020 while the solar panels represent only 14% of all renewable energy. So the government promotes the most expensive renewable energy projects. It is known that the inhabitants of Belgium have already a very high fiscal pressure. (Source: De Standaard, July 26, 2011) The implications of this policy are that the poor cannot afford to pay their energy bill. Where is reason?

  123. “Solar energy is creating more jobs per megawatt than any other energy source (PDF) with the capability, according to one study, of generating over 4 million jobs by 2030 with aggressive energy efficiency measures. There are now almost 3,000 megawatts of solar electric energy installed in the U.S., enough to power 600,000 homes.”

    This is total bull crap. Without massive subsidies and back-up generation during the night and even in daylight when it is cloudy. Solar power cannot otherwise be part of the base load power.

    If new, high paying jobs is the objective, turn the oil and gas companies loose in the Gulf, coastal waters,in various states and Alaska with known deposits. This would yield 1,000,000 new, very high paying jobs within a year or two. In the Santa Barbara Channel alone there are numerous capped well to be turned on, and known deposits that that can begin producing within 18 moths or so. CA would get $2 billion/year in royalty income once full production is restored.

  124. With roof PV’s you are actually paying the capitol cost and maintenance of an intermittent power station, assuming the power goes back into the grid. This is an enormous swindle, the power companies should rent your roof space, supply and maintain the structure in return for a long term rental agreement.
    At least with solar thermal, the hot water created is yours and is not shared.

  125. Keith Minto says:
    July 29, 2011 at 4:37 pm

    With roof PV’s you are actually paying the capitol cost and maintenance of an intermittent power station, assuming the power goes back into the grid. This is an enormous swindle, the power companies should rent your roof space, supply and maintain the structure in return for a long term rental agreement.
    That’s absurd. Power companies do not in any way benefit from these backyard power stations, and who would end up paying that rent? Why, the rest of us, who are already subsidizing those solar panels either through our rates or taxes, or both. That, friend, is where the big swindle is.

  126. The suggestions of Minto are not absurd. They are standard
    practice in SoCal. The energy companies payed municipalities to
    replace stoplight bulbs so as to reduce demand. The energy
    companies pay for upgraded residential lights, refrigerators,
    freezers, doors, windows and insulation. In SoCal electricity
    rates consist of a base rate that varies by zip code and time of
    year, plus a 4-part exponential escalator based on usage.
    Power demand peaks at or near time of peak insolation. Due
    to line heating, and peaker power plants, grid efficiency declines
    at peak insolation. PV is a good fit for SoCal, even without
    all the tax rebates.

  127. Bruce Cobb says:
    July 29, 2011 at 4:56 pm.

    Precisely my point, if the power companies, by doing a long term cost-benefit analysis would consider my proposition unviable, why should the householder shoulder the burden of owning their own intermittent power station ?
    It is a swindle, these proud greenish naive PV householders have been sold a pup, and we all share the cost burden.

  128. I’m in the central UK, I’m just enquiring about solar PV. The company offering it claims that they’ll supply, install & maintain for free.
    The UK government in (currently) offering silly feed-in tarrif prices. So I’ll be asking plenty of questions when they contact me.

  129. Here’s some actual numbers from Southern California. One can drive to the local store (Costco) and purchase a 5 kW solar PV kit for $16,999 (US dollars) plus approximately 7 percent sales tax. This kit provides 22 panels, with each panel producing 230 watts (peak). http://www.costco.com/ and input “solar panels” into the search box. The description is “Grape Solar 5060 Watt, Grid-tied Solar Kit, Includes: 22-230 Watt Solar Panels, 1 PVP-4800 Inverter, Roof Mounting Kit, Item # 573492.” There are several rebates and subsidies available that bring the cost down somewhat, but installation must be included. The approximate net number of $17,000 is used for this example.

    Locally, we obtain about 8 hours per day of decent sunshine, for about 5 months of the year. If the solar output replaces purchased power at the next-to-highest price tier, for the SCE (Southern California Edison) utility, the solar power is worth $0.27 per kWh. The annual savings in electricity not purchased is then $1,639. The payback period is then approximately 10 years.

    Note that this relatively attractive payback period is only possible due to two reasons: 1) rebates and subsidies, and 2) the tiered electricity rate structure. Before California adopted the tiered-rate structure, electric power was much cheaper. Now, the more the customer uses, the more expensive the electricity becomes. If there were no rebates nor subsidies, the installed cost of the above system would be approximately $27,000. Also, if electricity was sold at a flat rate, of $0.14 per kWh, then the economics of a roof-top solar PV system would degrade to 31 years payback.

  130. Adam Gallon says:
    July 30, 2011 at 7:34 am

    I’m in the central UK, I’m just enquiring about solar PV. The company offering it claims that they’ll supply, install & maintain for free.
    The UK government in (currently) offering silly feed-in tarrif prices. So I’ll be asking plenty of
    questions when they contact me.

    Interesting, Adam, that is getting closer to a reasonable proposition, are they renting your roof space ?, if you have more details on this I would be curious.

    I am in rural Queensland on a property and ground based PV’s are viable here with ‘trackers’ that move the panels from east to west to give 30% more output.

  131. Of course sales are up. Hard working citizen of modest means like myself are paying half of the price for the rich folks buying these status symbols. Tax credits make it a bargain.
    Thanks for laying another liberal externality on me. This is not sustainable.

  132. Roger Sowell says (July 30 at 3:01 pm) ……… “Costco and pv system costs and payback.”

    Roger thanks for the details on what is available at Costco. I put a PV system (6.12 kw sts) in back in 2006 (Northern CA- PG&E territory). I found it beneficial to use the web to get some estimates of what kind of actual (vs. the STS ratings noted above) output I could expect at my location with the panel orientation and pitch that would be specific for my roofs. There are lots of sites these days on the web that allow you to independently estimate the monthly output of any particular combination of panels, inverter, pitch, and panel orientation. I have found the Sharp site to be fairly accurate for my systems actual performance- http://sharpusa.cleanpowerestimator.com/default.aspx

    The Sharp site allows you to select from different rate schedule options, based on your zip code, to calculate ROI based on a few assumptions. My 6.12 kw PV system will produce (as measured at my E-7 time of use Net meter from PG&E) 1088 +/-2 kwh this month. I will be using a total of about 1600 kwh this month.

  133. Now we need to convince the giant energy suppliers to finance solar installation on all homes, including wind turbines in areas of the states that can make use of that technology. I’m sure that might create some jobs, refit some empty factories and reduce reliance upon stripping the earth to the point where our water and lands are inhabitable.

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