Another publicly larded solar company – this one wants to walk away from their solar manufacturing plant

BOSTON (AP) — Evergreen Solar is asking a bankruptcy judge for permission to walk away from its former plant in Devens.

The company, which received tens of millions in state aid before shuttering its facilities last year and moving its manufacturing operations to China, filed the notice in federal bankruptcy court in Delaware on Monday.

Interested parties including MassDevelopment, which helps finance and develop new projects, have until Friday to respond to the filing.

A spokeswoman for MassDevelopment declined comment Tuesday, saying the filing speaks for itself.

Evergreen received more than $20 million in grants and $11 million in tax and lease initiatives from Massachusetts. That doesn’t include other tax benefits and millions in upgrades to roads and utilities around the plant.

Gov. Deval Patrick championed Evergreen Solar early in his first term.

http://www.manufacturing.net/news/2012/03/evergreen-solar-seeks-ok-to-abandon-delaware-plant?et_cid=2532923&et_rid=54680111&linkid=http%3a%2f%2fwww.manufacturing.net%2fnews%2f2012%2f03%2fevergreen-solar-seeks-ok-to-abandon-delaware-plant

h/t to WUWT reader Ed Mertin

Here’s the Devens plant from the air:

Image from PV-tech.org

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54 thoughts on “Another publicly larded solar company – this one wants to walk away from their solar manufacturing plant

  1. Where are all the solar cell panels that should be powering the factory? Shouldn’t they have covered the roof with them? It’s their own product, they could have gotten them at cost, with no shipping charges!

  2. I don’t live in Massachusetts[*], so I’m not as familiar with this company as I could be, but they had the decency to run into financial problems before they could spend all the money the state had planned to lend them.

    Sometimes New Hampshire loses out on attracting new business by not being able to offer big tax breaks and whatnot. Oftentimes that winds up being a good thing, the businesses we get tend to be strong enough to not need taxpayer assistance.

    [*]: I was in Massachusetts in 1974 when they passed their “temporary” state income tax surcharge. I thought it a bit odd that the legislation didn’t have an expiration date….

  3. Evergreen. Smells just like Solyndra.

    “Patrick began touting Evergreen during his 2006 campaign, and moved quickly as governor to wager tens of millions of taxpayer dough to entice the firm to build its solar panel plant in Devens. But by then, Krop said, solar companies in Asia were rapidly expanding their solar panel plants in a bid to undercut U.S. manufacturers, meaning the Devens plant was doomed.”

    http://www.bostonherald.com/news/politics/view/20110119evergreen_solar_eclipse_gov_slow_to_release_public_records_on_deal/

  4. It isn’t clear to me just what “to walk away from” means. Who takes possession? Often these “designed for a single purpose” buildings, if auctioned, will bring only a fraction of the cost of construction. One, I think, was then bought by a principal of an original investor in said company. A sweet deal.
    ———————————–
    On the NoTricksZone, Peter Gosselin’s site, there is this quote about batteries:

    For a single electric car, about as much additional energy is consumed as what is contained by 10,000 litres of gasoline.

    http://notrickszone.com/2012/03/13/spiegel-lets-the-genie-out-writes-on-germanys-church-of-environmentalism-and-its-absurdities/

    Has anyone seen a report about batteries that would confirm this? Links?
    I wonder about solar panel production, installation, and maintenance.

  5. Jack H. Barnes says: I’ll bid $1…

    SOLD!
    Now lemme see, I paid $19,007 for what is now 1667 shares of ESLRQ, worth $116. Your generous bid of $1/sh will bring my losses down to only $17,340.

  6. Solar power will become viable when the cost of panels reaches $1 per Watt. Until then it simply cannot provide a reasonable ROI to justify installing it, except perhaps in really high power rate locations such as Hawaii… I’d love to put solar shingles on my roof, but not at current prices.

  7. The failure of individual new ventures is not significant. High-risk brings high failures: you cannot have one without the other. What is significant is the proportion that fail, and when that failure is either technological or principle-economic. The failure of solar power (as well as wind) results from both.

  8. I believe there’s a half-million dollars property tax for the land leased thru a Mass. agency, so they asked to be relieved from it. Think it was in the WSJ. No one was interested in purchasing it. Sold their infrastructure or whatever for like $10mil.

    On a positive note, so far no video of the destroying product, post bankruptcy, like with Solyndra.

  9. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nitrogen_trifluoride#Greenhouse_gas

    Solar is not particularly environmentally friendly. Why do people think it is?

    In China they make little to no attempt to recover NF3 during production. It escapes into the atmosphere. It has a greenhouse warming potential 17,200 times greater than CO2 and a lifetime over 500 years vs a few for CO2.

    Tests done a few years ago “unexpectedly” found levels 400% greater than expected. Fortunately it is measured in parts per trillion.

    “Research has questioned the previous assumptions. High-volume applications such as DRAM computer memory production, the manufacturing of flat panel displays and the large-scale production of thin-film solar cells in regions with insufficient ecological awareness continues to increase the emissions of NF3.[11][12]” – from the wikipedia article…

  10. Has anyone seen a report about batteries that would confirm this?

    It seems high. A gallon of gasoline has a lot of energy in it; that’s why it makes such great fuel. IIRC a liter contains roughly 10 kW-hours, so that’s 100 MW-hours of energy total. That’s stating, in other words, that to build the batteries in a single electric car requires the total power output from a megawatt plant for over four days.

    I doubt it. Very much. It sounds more than an order of magnitude high — smelting metal requires energy, sure, but not that much energy and surely not so much more energy than that required to smelt the steel, aluminum, titanium, and other metals that go into making a car and an ordinary engine.

    Solar power will become viable when the cost of panels reaches $1 per Watt. Until then it simply cannot provide a reasonable ROI to justify installing it, except perhaps in really high power rate locations such as Hawaii… I’d love to put solar shingles on my roof, but not at current prices.

    Precisely. Although the prices are dropping fast and predictably. The sad thing isn’t “just” that the Chinese undercut US prices and (given a complete lack of protection, just like all of the other businesses that are undercut by third world manufacturing in countries where people will work for janitors’ wages here) — it is that we can’t seem to build a foundry that uses our one edge — superior technology — to make them cheaper than the Chinese can in spite of their advantages on the labor front. Of course the Chinese government subsidizes the hell out of their new solar foundries, looking at the long term global market and countries that (like Hawaii) have little reliable energy infrastructure and high energy prices.

    OTOH, at $1/watt or better, installing roof units will be close to a no-brainer, and the big US players will get into the game and build serious foundries and the prices will then really drop. Sometime between 2015 and 2020, extrapolating the price curves…

    Yes, I know Willis doesn’t like this, but:

    http://solarcellcentral.com/cost_page.html

    …I disagree. I think that this site does a decent job of laying out the economics, both with and without subsidies of any sort. Even without subsidies, at $1/watt solar is going to be cheaper than everything but nuclear and hydroelectric power. It won’t replace fuel based plants (at least, not unless/until someone engineers serious high-density storage) but there will be a crossover to where solar grows much faster than any other technology for producing energy.

    I’ll state up-front (and take the inevitable flames:-) — I personally think that trying to stimulate local manufacture of solar cells is a really good idea, and that the Chinese are kicking our ass because they understand this. After all, they have a huge population, lousy energy resources, and a whole modern industrial base to build that is hungry for energy (as does India). They also have enormous amounts of essentially fallow land — the population is concentrated in regions with water, for example, near the main rivers. They don’t give a goddamn about CO_2 emissions, but they do care a great deal about importing expensive fuel, and they are perfectly happy to build solar plants that can drive daytime manufacturing and fall back to alternative energy for “people” in the evenings and nights.

    But then, I also think that we should be investing in — and subsidizing — the aggressive development of thorium-based nuclear energy generation, the building of next-gen regular (uranium-based) fission, and fusion, where the latter is the mother lode — “the” energy resource for the next million years of human evolution.

    As for electric cars or other electrical means of transportation — we’ll see. We are once again watching what happens to energy prices in a world with political and military volatility that affect global supplies. This isn’t all “Obama” — look at what happened to oil and gas prices under GWBush, who had to be the best friend the oil industry ever had in office and who fought an entire pointless war to ensure that his buddies would continue to have access to all that oil under the sands of Iraq. Personally, I’d like to see the US move away from dependence on imported resources, especially energy resources. Coal is good — we have lots of coal. Oil, IMO, is too valuable to burn and will be increasingly expensive to obtain in the quantities we require, completely independent of the question of whether or not it is actually desirable to pump up atmospheric CO_2 to 600 ppm or more. Cheap and abundant electricity will provide a strong incentive to reconfigure our society around electric transportation, I think.

    I drive a Ford Excursion — the world’s largest passenger car, actually, although not quite the worst mileage (the Hummer has even worse mileage and is marginally smaller) at 11.5-13.5 mpg. We also have a Toyota Prius, one of the most “socially conscious” cars. The Excursion costs roughly 4x as much to move around town (however useful it is for long distance hauls with lots of people and luggage). I’d be perfectly thrilled to have a second (well, third) car that is more like the Prius, very high mileage, for everyday commuting, and given that I drive only 3 miles to and from work, an electric car or electric scooter would be perfectly adequate. Note well that my 6 mile commute costs me around $2/day in gasoline in the Excursion; a trip over to Chapel Hill to buy brewing supplies adds $7-8 to the cost of a batch of beer.

    Sure, maybe one day gasoline will be cheaper again as tensions in Iran ease, or maybe Israel will bomb Iran, Iran will close the Straits of Hormuz and nuke Israel, which will nuke Iran back, and we’ll see half the oil fields of the middle east doused with fallout and blockaded by wars, driving the price of gasoline in the US to $7-8/gallon almost overnight. It wouldn’t even take a war — a single earthquake in just the wrong place, a medium sized asteroid (like the two that are making near-miss passes over the next three years) in just the wrong place, and world energy supplies could be horribly disrupted to our great detriment.

    I think it would be just peachy to not depend on gasoline quite so much — ideally not the hard way, but the easy way that doesn’t actually require us to give up our luxurious personal transportation lifestyle. Maybe it will be electric cars, maybe it will be the development of domestic resources, maybe it will be something startling and new, but it is by no means clear that the “modern” automobile is anything like optimal for human civilization.

    rgb

  11. Johannes Herbst

    Wilky says:
    March 13, 2012 at 10:51 pm
    Solar power will become viable when the cost of panels reaches $1 per Watt. Until then it simply cannot provide a reasonable ROI to justify installing it, except perhaps in really high power rate locations such as Hawaii… I’d love to put solar shingles on my roof, but not at current prices.

    Hi Wilky,

    Here in Germany the costs of solar PV panels are already down to 0.59 Euro plus 19% VAT per watt. This should come close to the 1$ benchmark. Of course, they are from China, but Monocristaline ones and with a 10 years guarantee.

    I’m somehow green, but no warmist, and I like the idea of getting independent from power companies. I plan to replace on the southern part of my roof the old roof tiles with solar modules, saving the costs of new tiles. This would cut down the costs of PV solar even more.

  12. Jack H Barnes says:

    March 13, 2012 at 9:33 pm
    I’ll bid $1…

    Be careful ! Obama may snatch your hand off.

  13. Instead of blackmail, the US taxpayer has been GREENmailed…..AGAIN!

    As long as the government is the one picking winners (a rarity) and losers (99% of the time), there will always be HUGE misallocations of limited resources of land/labor/capital.

    Just let the market decide what and when a technology is feasible. It’s very good at it; certainly far better than bureaucrat hacks with agendas are…

  14. Samurai; I think you are only half right. The government can not pick winners,but they are near 100% at picking losers. God help the small business (or big business) that gets any attention from one of the three-letter job killers; IRS, EPA, DEA, FDA . . .

  15. Robert Brown says:
    March 14, 2012 at 12:21 am
    “I’ll state up-front (and take the inevitable flames:-) — I personally think that trying to stimulate local manufacture of solar cells is a really good idea, and that the Chinese are kicking our ass because they understand this.”

    Robert, I’m with you with regard to the price curve of solar and that in 10 to 15 years it will just be too cheap to not use it. But

    -subsidizing the use of solar cells simply redistributes billions of Dollars, as can be seen in Germany, if you want that, be my guest, we now pay close to Danish electricity tariffs and they have the world’s highest. The redistribution is from poor to rich, and it reliably KILLS employment – energy intensive industries are moving out of Germany right now. Again, maybe that’s the goal.

    -We should WAIT until it becomes cost-efficient to use PV. Billions of subsidies do nothing much to an exponential curve but shift it by a few months; and the cost-effectiveness of PV is an exponential.

    -The Chinese “manufacture” their solar cells using machinery from Centrotherm and Roth&Rau. You want to “manufacture” some? (not much “manus” in there…)? Send money to Centrotherm or Roth&Rau. They’ll build you a complete factory. That factory will be good for about 5 years, then you buy the next one…

    Competition drives the prices down all by itself. The subsidies were just shifting the exponential a bit foreward, but didn’t change its exponent (It’s always like that with exponentials).

    At various times there have been announcements by semiconductor companies that they’d beat Intel’s roadmap – and Intel bases its roadmap on Moore’s Law. Sun said, we’ll double performance in half the time Intel takes. Years later, NVidia made a similar announcement. Both of these announcements amounted to nothing. You can’t change the exponent of these developments – you can try really hard, and invest all the money you can borrow, yet all you’ll achieve is a one-time shift of the curve on the time axis, but probably it will exhaust your resources so much that the competition will then make good lost ground while you have to reduce your relentless speed…

    Solar power is one of several energy sources of the future. But you can’t rush it. That’s a losing proposition. In some remote spots and islands, solar power plus batteries is already the cheapest and most reliable way to get electricity. As it gets cheaper, this market niche will naturally and steadily expand. And that’s how it should be.

    Commercial electrolysis units have an efficiency of 85%. We will synthesize NatGas (Methane) from solar power and wind power. Again, this is inevitable. You can pump billions of subsidies into it but that is just redistribution. Makes a politician look powerful, I suppose. Doesn’t accelerate the technological development by much. Creates lots of opportunities for grift.

  16. Johannes Herbst says:
    March 14, 2012 at 12:38 am
    “Here in Germany the costs of solar PV panels are already down to 0.59 Euro plus 19% VAT per watt. This should come close to the 1$ benchmark. Of course, they are from China, but Monocristaline ones and with a 10 years guarantee.”

    Johannes, these days the Chinese silicon monocristalline modules are perfectly fine with regards to durability.

    When talking about price per Watt-peak you have to include cost of inverter and installation; usually that doubles it.

  17. Wilky says:
    March 13, 2012 at 10:51 pm
    “Solar power will become viable when the cost of panels reaches $1 per Watt. Until then it simply cannot provide a reasonable ROI to justify installing it, except perhaps in really high power rate locations such as Hawaii… I’d love to put solar shingles on my roof, but not at current prices.”

    Do not forget to include the cost increase of your home insurance, if any company will include solar panels at all. In SW Florida, I doubt wind insurance will cover these and it would make no sense to chance losing panels due to a hurricane without the ability to insure the cost of replacement. Also, will installation of solar panels on a shingled roof void the roof warranty?

  18. Oh, another reason why the Chinese dominate PV cell manufacturing: Cheap energy. The production takes a lot of energy. EROEI for PV in Germany (granted; not the sunniest of places) is currently about 3.

    So you don’t want to make your PV modules in Denmark or Germany, where electricity is a priced good.

    I expect this very bad EROEI to go up in the future; perfectly in sync with the price reductions – the price of PV modules simply reflects the amount of energy used in their production, it’s that simple.

  19. How many acres of solar panels does it take to replace an average fossil fuel power plant? For that matter, how many wind turbines does it take to do the same? How would complete replacement with such impact the climate?

    You may be surprised by the answers you find :-)

  20. I bid 3 dollars. The new Obama 3 dollar bill is coming soon. (it is only worth 1 dollar due to inflation)

  21. I can walk to this plant (this portion of Devens is in Ayer, MA). Lovely that the economic hit is going to be on my small town.

    AJ

  22. I’d like to repeat what Elmer said. “Tariffs” . I’ve been in manufacturing my whole life. The Chinese are at war with the American manufacturer. Its time for one of the political parties to address the unfair trade practices of our partners.
    “Kozlowski March 14, 2012 at 12:20 am” Addresses part of the problem. China does not care one bit for the environment. They also don’t care about our patent laws, copyright laws, labor laws, currency manipulation, dumping, and counterfeiting. Put on top of that our manufacturers pay higher taxes and wages.
    Free trade has been nothing more than a war on our middle class and is the root of our economic downturn.

  23. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:
    March 13, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    Where are all the solar cell panels that should be powering the factory? Shouldn’t they have covered the roof with them? It’s their own product, they could have gotten them at cost, with no shipping charges!

    Exactly my question. There is a BP Solar facility outside Fredrick Maryland and that thing is coated with solar panels of every shape, size, and description.

  24. Henry chance said on March 14, 2012 at 5:49 am:

    I bid 3 dollars. The new Obama 3 dollar bill is coming soon. (it is only worth 1 dollar due to inflation)

    Uh-oh. You’ve stated there’ll soon be a connection between the ‘Bama and dead presidents.

    Is someone knocking on your door right now? Will HSA even bother to knock?

  25. Robert Brown says:
    March 14, 2012 at 12:21 am
    “ It seems high. ”

    Thanks, Robert.
    ——————
    And about the cost of travel and $8 gasoline: We live in an agricultural area where pruning of fruit trees and grape vines is underway. Low paid workers may drive 2 miles one day and 15 miles the next to get to the job site. The nearest “big box store” is 50 miles away. Teachers, nurses, and other such workers may travel 100 miles round-trip 5 days per week. Boating, horse riding, snow skiing, snowmobiling, and other such activities often require big/low-mileage vehicles. Contemplating a real doubling of the price of gas requires visualizing a significant restructuring of rural America.

  26. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:
    March 13, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    Where are all the solar cell panels that should be powering the factory? Shouldn’t they have covered the roof with them? It’s their own product, they could have gotten them at cost, with no shipping charges!

    __________________________________________________________________________

    They didn’t need to as they weren’t going to be there long.
    Can you say, “All your money to us belongs.” ?

    Classic pump and dump in bricks and mortar form.

  27. Sure, walk away from it AFTER you repay all tax money you received.
    The grants and tax breaks are given to encourage you to produce a product, not pay yourself bonuses and pay off corporate debt.

  28. Current prices are ~$1.20 / Watt for panels. With tax breaks, subsidies (if they are still available) and a friend with an installers license you could actually make money right now. This won’t last once inventories start dropping. The long term outlook requires conventional electrical rates to keep going up. The low cost of natural gas has pushed the magic cross-over date further down the line.

  29. Johannes Herbst says March 14, 2012 at 12:38 am
    “Here in Germany the costs of solar PV panels are already down to 0.59 Euro plus 19% VAT per watt. This should come close to the 1$ benchmark. Of course, they are from China, but Monocristaline ones and with a 10 years guarantee.”

    DirkH says March 14, 2012 at 4:31 am

    Johannes, these days the Chinese silicon monocristalline modules are perfectly fine with regards to durability.

    When talking about price per Watt-peak you have to include cost of inverter and installation; usually that doubles it.

    Batteries?

    Night use?

  30. I see from Google Maps that the Devens plant is located on Barnum Road.
    P.T. Barnum is widely credited with coining the phrase “There’s a sucker born every minute.”
    Jes’ sayin’…

  31. The mad hatter Eco loons continue there march to destroy the Economy!

    SETBACK FOR MERKEL’S VISION

    Funding Shortage Threatens Germany’s Energy Revolution

    Germany’s climate fund, a cornerstone of the government’s much hyped transition towards renewable energy, has been massively underfunded during its first year of operation. The Green Party has accused the government of failing in its plan to create an energy revolution.

    The fund was created to provide additional financing for renewable energies, energy efficiency and national and international climate protection. Most of the fund’s financing was intended to come from the auctioning of emissions certificates. As of 2012, all the proceeds from Germany’s emissions trading will go into the fund. = anther part of the same scam!!!

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0%2c1518%2c814905%2c00.html#ref%3dnlint

  32. AJ Abrams says:
    March 14, 2012 at 6:20 am

    I can walk to this plant (this portion of Devens is in Ayer, MA). Lovely that the economic hit is going to be on my small town.
    ___________________________
    That is why I moved out of that area a couple of decades ago. Too much regulation kills business and every single company my husband and I worked for in MA (several) no longer exists.

  33. You also have to consider that in some areas of the country roof top solar panels might only survive for 4-5 years before they get wiped out by large hail.

    There are lots of “hidden expenses” to solar, so the user needs to include not only the cost per watt for the panels, but the inverter/controller, battery packs if he/she uses local storage or the hardware to use grid storage. Then add in various maintenance expenses like cleaning the panels periodically, dealing with reduced output due to aging, shading of the panels at certain times of the year by trees and occasional bird droppings on the panel etc. Battery packs have maintenance requirements if lead acid and periodic battery replacement depending on how well they are held at float charge voltages and properly maintained so they never are over charged, run with low electrolyte levels etc.

    Throw in small risks for damage to the panels by lightning, wind storm, snow loads and just plain aging causing bad electrical connections and the “life time system cost” will be several times the cost of the panels.

    I have some solar panels in storage as emergency backup power during storms or other long duration power outages. I also went completely off grid one summer on a small solar panel system. It worked great as long as I very carefully managed my power consumption. Right up until a wind storm with 80+ mph wind gusts destroyed the solar panels.

    Larry

  34. DaveR says:
    March 14, 2012 at 6:24 am

    I’d like to repeat what Elmer said. “Tariffs” . I’ve been in manufacturing my whole life. The Chinese are at war with the American manufacturer. Its time for one of the political parties to address the unfair trade practices of our partners….
    ___________________________________
    I agree but a world agreement on tariffs is why the USA is in the World Trade Organization and why China was allowed to join. It is an international agreement on tariffs by an international organization run by international corporations. Presently only about 30% of all goods imported into the USA are subject to tariffs. Profit not loyalty to a country, not concern for the worker, not concern for the environment is what it is all about and all it has ever been about. Everything else is window dressing for the ordinary Joe so he will swallow it without kicking up a dust.

    the WTO was signed in 1995 and China signed in December of 2001. SEE:
    Details of the USA – China – WTO Trade Deal aka CHINA TRADE RELATIONS ACT AND China’s Entry Into The WTO 10 Years Later Is Not What President Clinton Promised

    Then take a look at the Trade Balance Graph

    This chart on historic tariffs vs tax revenue for the Federal government is also really interesting. When you compare say 1960 (7.3% tariff) to 2010 (1.3% tariff) The % of the Federal budget stayed the same so the politicians and the International Corporations are very happy with the situation.

    There is much more info (links) on the whole sorry economic mess in this comments I made:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/03/13/climate-craziness-of-the-week-eugenics-is-making-a-comeback-with-climate-optimized-human-engineering/#comment-921845

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/11/01/britain-pulls-the-plug-on-solar-subsidies/#comment-784546

  35. The tragedy is that panel costs are down well below $1/watt and no one bothered to look because they were too busy subsidizing a sector that was loaded up with also rans in start-up mode and a sizable number of entities that were driven by Federal DOE grant and loan money with the incentive to look busy and buy time with other peoples money. Meanwhile the subset of solar firms with viable business plans and cost profiles did not get the attention and focus they deserved. This pretty much defines the outlines of what political science of fake energy policy looks and smells like. It did not have to play out this way, but too many people looked the other way out of ignorance and fast buck greed that was on par with anything on Wall Street.

  36. Robert Brown says: March 14, 2012 at 12:21 am

    Solar power will become viable when the cost of panels reaches $1 per Watt. Until then it simply cannot provide a reasonable ROI to justify installing it, except perhaps in really high power rate locations such as Hawaii… I’d love to put solar shingles on my roof, but not at current prices.

    OTOH, at $1/watt or better, installing roof units will be close to a no-brainer, and the big US players will get into the game and build serious foundries and the prices will then really drop. Sometime between 2015 and 2020, extrapolating the price curves…

    http://solarcellcentral.com/cost_page.html

    …I disagree. I think that this site does a decent job of laying out the economics, both with and without subsidies of any sort. Even without subsidies, at $1/watt solar is going to be cheaper than everything but nuclear and hydroelectric power. It won’t replace fuel based plants (at least, not unless/until someone engineers serious high-density storage) but there will be a crossover to where solar grows much faster than any other technology for producing energy.
    ———————————————-
    Several points. First, if the modules were $1 per Watt, installation costs and inverter costs are not coming down at the same rate. At that price point, the PV modules are not the most expensive component.

    Second, that reference is comparing retail price with generation cost. That’s only valid if the installation is owned by the retail-paying consumer. Transmission and distribution costs, capital equipment investment, and profit must be added to get the difference between cost and price.

    Third, at least some of the numbers are badly skewed. For example, the cost of “advanced nuclear” is given at $.10 per KWh. Current wholesale price of nuke power is half that, therefore cost must be less than half that given.

    Fourth, the reference claims the cells are good for 50 years, and usees longer payback times to calculate low cost/KWh. I think that’s an optimistic projection considering the cell technology is far younger than that and obviously, nobody has actual performance figures for that duration.

    I like PV power, but let’s not ‘adjust’ the data.

  37. I am highly skeptical that large scale solar or ‘natural’ energy collection techniques will ever be elaborated to such an extent that it will replace the carbon-based, geo-chemical fuels now in use. I see this as a low energy return on energy investment (EROEI) issue. It would also be an environmental problem if large tracts of land had to be set aside for solar energy collection in an attempt to provide the same energy for society now provided by carbon. Many would decry the mandated extinction of endangered animals and plant species as these huge solar energy collection structures took over the land.

    The initial reason for assuming that the use of carbon energy would become a thing of the past was the theory that we were nearing a climatic breaking point that was going to force the immediate suspension of carbon power use. Many still believe this even though there is mounting evidence that this fear developed as a result of a self-deprecating, anti-humanistic mythology that feeds on itself.

    A second and more inescapable reason for predicting the eventual end of the era of carbon energy is the finite nature of the resource. Sooner or later, it will be exhausted, at least as a resource we can afford to use. As fear sells, there have been several premature predictions that modern society was about to collapse from imminent energy starvation. Currently, some have said that our sub-prime mortgage crisis was due to financial miscalculations because petroleum production had not doubled once more, as it had done in the past. It does, however, appear that we are now in a transition period between using high EROEI petroleum that gushes out of the ground to low EROEI petroleum that has to be extracted or mined.

    I believe that the message of eventual carbon depletion is that we should be looking for a new sustainable concentrated energy source with a positive attitude and not dismiss any untried option out of hand until it is actually *proved* to be impractical. It does look like many ‘green-energy’ schemes like the one above have now proven themselves to be inadequate for our current population.

    For reference, there is an “Olduvai Theory,” which states that our industrial civilization will have a lifetime of less than or equal to [and perhaps greater than] 100 years (1930-2030) based on the assumption that no new alternative sustainable energy source will be found.

    The Olduvai Theory

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

    A recent YouTube video cartoon with the ominous title “There’s No Tomorrow” seems to make the best and most entertaining case I have seen for eventual carbon depletion, often referred to as ‘Peak Oil.’ As far as I can tell, this video does not predict a specific date for the end of the carbon era. I think anyone who says “We will never run out of oil,” may one day find himself in the same category as Congressman Barney Frank, or Senator John McCain when he said “The economy is fundamentally sound.”

    There’s No Tomorrow

  38. Kozlowski says:
    March 14, 2012 at 12:20 am

    NF3 … has a greenhouse warming potential 17,200 times greater than CO2 and a lifetime over 500 years vs a few for CO2.

    We have a winner! A way to combat the coming chills, and then the Marching Ice Sheets whenever the current anomalously extended interglacial temps drop like a (very heavy) stone.

  39. RE: Brian H says: (March 15, 2012 at 7:54 am)
    “Yawn”

    Of course, if everyone were willing to accept the consequences of an eventual forced rollback to all natural energy, we would not need to think about developing any new post-carbon energy resources. It seems that mankind has lived for hundreds of thousands of years without carbon-power and should have no problem doing the same in the future. Some think that outcome would be better for the planet. In any case, this is probably a next generation or two issue. Except for the third world, we do not have any killing shortages now.

    I have heard that it would probably take about forty years from the first demonstration of a new-technology power plant before that process would be replicated to general usage–an estimate based on the time that it took for steamships to replace sailboats. As yet, we do not seem to have any proven, indefinitely sustainable carbon-power replacement waiting in the wings–we do, however, have a number of temporary alternatives that might work for a while.

  40. Spector;
    Read the links. There is no need for alternatives, temporary or otherwise. That’s the point. Try hard, and you may get it.

    Howsomeever, I’m personally fairly confident that one particular alternative is going to detonate and demolish the whole issue: LPPhysics.com has a project that should be passing out inexpensive mfr’s licenses for a tiny super-hot “DPF” fusion generator (~5MW capacity) in about 5 yrs., that will economically undercut best current sources by a factor of 10, without waste or radiation (aneutronic, produces normal He4 from boron and hydrogen).

    Every Greenista’s mental crutches will turn to vapor on the spot. Ehrlich will be horrified, however, the idiot child (society) having been issued his machine gun (abundant cheap energy).

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