Open thread weekend

I have an important project to finish this weekend, so I’ll be offline much of the weekend.

Here’s some pictures of what I’m up to.

BTW global warming and CO2 reduction did not figure into my decision to do this again (we downsized our original home that I first put solar on) one bit. The economics and out of control regulations that will make electricity prices “necessarily skyrocket” starting this fall were the main impetus.

Details next week, along with instructions how how you can get one easily and put your own sweat equity into it and save a bundle…and have it paid off quickly and fully own it…unlike those lease programs that require 20 year payoffs…and by that time the company may be gone and the panels fading.


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Looking forward to the details. At least they’ll be coming from a source that will probably be reporting on it accurately!


Up here above 50 degrees latitude it becomes less practical, since our heaviest usage occurs during the winter.

It may be good for air conditioning. Not much else with no huge, expensive & inefficient battery packs.
However, natural gas powered air conditioning might still be cheaper to install & run (fuel costs & maintenance included).

California’s multi-tier power prices certainly makes residential solar PV more attractive financially.


I am all for people generating their own power for their own use.
I do object to having to pay for other people’s choices through taxpayer subsidies (which is true in Australia, don’t know about the US).
I also object to having inconsistently phased power being put into our clean and even phased power grid (also true in Australia and again I don’t know what the deal is in the US).
So, once you put finish putting this in, how often are you planning to get up onto the roof to clean the panels? You are going to have to do it regularly to keep the efficiency up. Rain is not going to do it for you.
I guess it does not hail very often where you live. Mind you it only has to do it once every five years or so and you investment is looking a little, shall we say, fragile …
Be safe working on the roof and using ladders.


That’s one of the things I have considered doing for some time too, though here in Omaha I need to take winter snow and hail from thunderstorms into the equation. I would think it should tend to keep the attic space cooler as well since the light would not reach the shingles to bake them in the first place, which in and of itself would lend itself to a cooler house and lower utility bills. I have been considering a solar powered attic fan as well.

Hmm, I had some topic that I thought would be good for discussing on an open thread weekend.
Possibly the status of get-out-of RGGI proposals if you live in a RGGI state.
I recently updated my RGGIWatch page at .
A couple highlights:
Jun 26: Gov. Lynch allow NH’s restructuring of its involvement to become law without his signature. While NH stays in RGGI, it’s mostly defanged, and if some other states pull out, that may trigger NH’s withdrawal too.
Jun 8: The results from RGGI Auction 16, held on Jun 6, have been released. 57% of the current control period allowances sold at the floor price of $1.93. 5% of the allowance went to non-compliance entities. It’s hard to understand how they expect to make any money in this control period, perhaps other vehicles like or money market or municipal bonds are paying so little that CO2 allowances are worth speculating on.
June 12: A New York lawsuit to pull New York out of RGGI was dismissed due in part “The court held that plaintiffs lacked standing to bring the lawsuit because they did not suffer a distinct injury. It also ruled that plaintiffs’ claims would have been barred (regardless of their lack of standing) based on their failure to bring a timely challenge.” A pity, as NY’s participation is not a matter of state law.
A bill has been introduced that likely won’t pass, but would ban such arrangements and take NY out.
New Jersey is still out, and efforts to get them back look doomed to failure.
If anyone knows of other efforts I’ve missed, please let me know.

Its important when someone lives their convictions.


Care to share some technical numbers (hrs of sunshine, KW, etc.)?
Did they say how often you will need to clean bird poo off of the panels?


Brave skeptic, Alexander Cockburn, has died.


Cool. I look forward to your blog over it next week. It’s something I am also considering for the new house I’m building in central Texas. The high cost of electricity in the future is something I am very concerned about if the federal gov’t continue to push Obama’s wishes. Who knows what Romney will do if he wins?
There’s something I am concerned… what about rolling blackouts? I’m just wondering how both solar panels and blackouts work together. I did another round of researching on the latest stuff on solar panel technology to see how much they have improved over the past few years. My concern is that I may not have enough roof space facing right direction for maximum exposure and I was looking for highest efficiency possible but I do not wish to go bankrupt by paying for it for long term when someone makes a breakthrough in efficiency after a few years. Much like we saw with computers…

It seems solar panels are built to withstand hail of a size that will break normal clay roof tiles.

One point we want to make, as it seems to be the case, it that those that are pushing the AGW scam today are primarily extreme leftists. Steven Goddard did a post talking about the leftist congressman Ed Markey making a big squawk about climate change. My comment:
The National Journal gave Ed Markey a Composite Liberal score in the mid-nineties, close to the most left wing congressman in the country. Chuck Slowe put it this way:

Markey is a blatantly liberal ideologue. As he rides around in his gas guzzling super-sized SUV, he disdains that the regular, man on the street has the audacity to be driving on the same roadways…
He loves to think of himself as a thoughtfully learned man, in all matters pertaining to the world. Unfortunately, Markey is a typical blowhard of the political left. He is also an alarmist with his sites set on crippling the country’s economy in typical Obama fashion. As long as we continue to send such idiots back to Capitol Hill, we will continue to have the same level of insanity heaped upon us in the form of higher taxes, bigger government and a far less responsive bureaucracy.

It seems that the only ones now that are making a lot of noise about AGW theory are these wacko leftists like Markey. If the warmists want to gain some needed credibility, why not try to get some mainstream types to stand up for their cause? Try to avoid always relying on these extreme leftists to make their case.

Dan in California

PMH says: July 21, 2012 at 4:20 pm
Care to share some technical numbers (hrs of sunshine, KW, etc.)?
Here’s a link to a US national map showing energy produced and utility bill savings estimate for various locations and various types of solar panels:


Here’s a question for you Anthony: Are you applying for the federal and state tax rebates and subsudies?


It will be interesting to see the “energy” flow.

Dan in California

Nerd says: July 21, 2012 at 4:29 pm
There’s something I am concerned… what about rolling blackouts? I’m just wondering how both solar panels and blackouts work together
They work together perfectly. When the grid goes down, your PV array goes offline too. You get no power from either. Grid tie inverters are required to poll the grid and disconnect. This is for the safety of the lineman who goes to fix the problem. They don’t want to worry about non-utility sources energizing a supposed dead line.
If you want backup power during a blackout, you need battery storage, you need to switch the PV array from grid tie to battery charging, and you need a separate inverter designed to run off grid. I personally have just enough of that to run my refrigerator. Costs more than a gasoline powered generator. Here’s a link to a company that sells the stuff and has good explanations on what to buy.

What’s your point, Alvin? Turning down free, legal money would be pretty stupid, no?

Bill D

Have you considered lowering the load with LED?

Power Engineer

The cost of solar pv is about 40 cents per kWh. It saves about 3 cents per kWh worth of natural gas ($4 gas at 7000 heat rate = 2.8 cents/kWh) and adds significantly to grid operations costs. The difference between 40 and 3 is 37 cents /kWh which is all subsidy.
If all our electricity could generated by solar PV the cost increase would be over a trillion $ per year or a subprime crisis and a half every year.
Of course due to its variability Solar could never generate all our electricity.
The latest solar snafu is that clouds could decrease solar output 50 percent in 30 seconds which is much faster than the 10 minute spinning reserve that most systems are designed to. More unaccounted costs to integrate large scale solar.


the Carbon Comedy continues:
20 July: Reuters Point Carbon: Kathy Chen and Stian Reklev: China keen to avoid CO2 rollercoaster ride
European permits have lost 80 percent of their value since mid-2008 and 50 percent in the last twelve months, spurring claims that the carbon market is becoming irrelevant in the EU’s efforts to cut emissions.
“China will consider introducing both a price ceiling and a price floor to prevent the dramatic price fluctuation seen in the EU ETS,” said Chen Jianpeng with the State Council’s Development Research Centre, which is involved in studying the impact of a future Chinese ETS.
China, which accounts for almost a third of global CO2 emissions, plans to use the experiences from its pilot schemes to set up a national CO2 market later this decade.
The Beijing municipal government, which will host one of China’s seven pilot schemes from 2013 or 2014, plans to implement a price floor and ceiling in the capital’s CO2 market…
Tax evasion, theft of permits and re-usage of credits have also damaged the reputation of the world’s biggest carbon market.
China, which is generally skeptical about financial markets, is planning to keep its CO2 scheme under tight control.
After state-owned power company China Aviation Oil lost $550 million on speculating in oil futures in 2004, Beijing has ruled out forward markets in all but a handful of commodities.
Emissions trading will take place on government-approved exchanges, and recently announced regulations by the State Council means only spot trading with a five-day delay on delivery will be allowed.
***(LOL) Some observers said it would be beneficial to keep the market simple, at least initially, as Chinese compliance traders lack experience in emissions markets.
“The market is not ready to have carbon derivatives, green bonds and green funds in the pilot phase,” said Shi Minjun, deputy director at the China Academy of Science’s Research Center on Fictitious Economy and Data Science.
But other observers were doubtful whether an emissions market could be effective if it did not provide a forward price, because companies would lack the information they need to make future investment decisions…


22 July: Guardian: Carbon course
Grab some counters, a die and your family or friends, and move along the footprint path. Start with three carbon feet points each. Whoever reaches the end with the least carbon points wins


Eric Simpson says:
July 21, 2012 at 4:38 pm
One point we want to make, as it seems to be the case, it that those that are pushing the AGW scam today are primarily extreme leftists.
You’re in a fish bowl talking to other fish. And the fish often end up talking to their own reflections in the glass. And the refraction distorts their view of the outside world. You need to get out more.


Very nice,Anthony.Just a few points/questions.How will this work above the 50th?I think 3 feet of snow would tend to dampen the generation of power,when we need it the most.
There is no way a solar panel can withstand the impact of hail,moving at 120 mph(yeah,that’s the average up here in Canada).How much power is generated with the sun only at an optimum angle for three hours a day,on average?
I’m all for new means of getting and maintaining power,but reality rears its ugly head in northern climes.As asked above,do you want to spend most of your daylight hours cleaning those panels? Dust,grime and soot occur 24/7.Me? I’ll stick with my 3 cords of wood and BBQing at -40.Besides,extra blankets and a warm body next to you works wonders.:):)

Mike McMillan

You must have grabbed some of those thousands of solar panels Solyndra threw in the dumpster after their $500 million taxpayer-funded bankruptcy.

Perhaps the Left should pass laws requiring flat rooves made of cement to encourage tomato farming.

Max Hugoson

The local student run coffee house in Hopkins MN “The Depot” got a PV addition a couple summers ago.
It’s been producing a prodigious $900 worth of electricity every year since then.
It took a few notes to people in “low places” to find out that the “Gummit” (per Jimmy Carter’s pronunciation) grant to put it in, plus money from the Depot board, amounted to about $72,000.
Let’s see, the way I figure it…it’s merely a 100 year payback.
Great investment. I’m looking for the GUMMIT to help me out. I think I can make my house COMPLETELY SOLAR AND WIND for a mere $750,000…I’ll do my own contracting.
Max 🙂

Harold Pierce Jr

I’m going to buy some stock in SC Johnson, makers of Windex.
Anthony, you should might check out glass-cleaning products that have silicones which will prevent road dust from sticking on the panels. Since there is an enormous amount of road dust generated in Cal, you will probably spend a lot of time keeping the panels clean.


“I’d make cheap energy expensive so that expensive energy would seem cheap”
That’s what Obama promised, and that’s what his officers are doing.

Old woman of the north

UP to July 9 householders in Queensland, Australia were able to sign up for subsidised solar power. Contracts have been issued paying these people 48c/unit for intermittent, unreliable power versus the normal rate being 23c/unit until 2028. They have paid various sums but around $15000Au for their solar panels (again with subsidy). The current rate dropped to 8c/unit subsidy.
One person told me that they are advised to use their electrical appliances at NIGHT so that they use ‘cheap’ power!!
None of these people seem to realize that no matter how much power their roofs generate that will never recover the cost of the solar cells.
14 years ago we built a house, intending to install a solar hot water system. The cost then was around $3000. Our builder convinced us that the biggest electrical hot water system would be a better deal at a cost of $500. We sold the house 3 years ago and calculated the cost of all of the power used over the time we had the house. We were still thousands of dollars better off than the cost of that solar hot water system.

Gary Hladik

Not to pry, Anthony, but will you be sharing details of costs, performance, generated power, reairs, etc. over the next few years? It would be great to have data from a real solar installation for those who may be considering their own system (I’m not…yet).
Better yet, will we have a “Anthony’s Real-Time Solar Gauge” gadget on WUWT? 🙂

James McCauley

“MattB says:
July 21, 2012 at 4:08 pm
…. I have been considering a solar powered attic fan as well.”
Matt, I live in Cleveland, OH and installed a ac powered attic vent fan (the largest one at Home Depot) on our house three years ago so that it would exhaust air from throughout the entire two story house and it continues to work better than I thought it would – and not too costly, either, relative to the A/C that we don’t have to use any longer. I also thought of using a solar powered fan, but quickly discovered that it would not displace nearly the volume of air that a line powered fan would (or as consistently considering not infrequent clouds and lack of sun at dusk and night, etc.!). The displacement of solar fans is pitiful – fogettaboudit. We use our fan alot as it moves and exhausts the humid, warm/hot air very noticeably even on the first floor (through the slightly open pull-down attic ladder door I installed in the second floor ceiling). We still use minimal localized A/C during select periods but the house is incredibly comfortable at much lower cost than without the attic fan. The shingles benefit from the cooler attic here maybe as much or more than panel covered shingles as the non-covered shingles would still be radiated, anyway. Sorry, I don’t have the fan spec’s handy, but you can quickly check up on them – just compare before you buy.
I wouldn’t worry too much about electricity going too high (except in CA) since one bad power shortage and the citizens will tar and feather the energy minimalists and demand back cheap, plentiful, dependable traditional coal, oil, gas, nuclear (hopefully modular) with continued work on viably developing newer, longer term sources of power (most promisingly lower level nuclear, fusion (hey,someday!)) that we’ve got a hundred plus years to put together a reasonable energy program without going “CAGW Green” on it. .
Good Luck!


MattB says:
July 21, 2012 at 4:08 pm
That’s one of the things I have considered doing for some time too, though here in Omaha I need to take winter snow and hail from thunderstorms into the equation. I would think it should tend to keep the attic space cooler as well since the light would not reach the shingles to bake them in the first place, which in and of itself would lend itself to a cooler house and lower utility bills. I have been considering a solar powered attic fan as well.

I had a thermostatically controlled attic fan installed. It was cheap, simple, and made a noticeable difference in the temperature on hot days. (I have no A/C.) I urge everyone to install one.
Another quick-payoff item is an awning–as large and high on the wall as possible, to shade the maximum house-wall exposure. They’re cheap from Sunsetter–but you have to assemble and install them yourself. (You can ask the company for a list of installers now, I think.)
Another cheap item is to add an insulating blanket around your water heater.


The latest thread on CA is interesting. It’s contains a long list of questions that has recently come to light that the UEA prepared Jones for because they might have been asked at the Parliamentary inquiry. They weren’t–and should have been, because they probed the weakness of Jones’s position. Here’s the link.


@Max Hugoson
I recently grabbed a cup at “The Depot”. There is not a consensus as to the effectiveness of their solar install at the 43rd parallel.


Spending $10/day for electric in a huge, recently SpacePac air conditioned, 100 year old house with 130 total light bulbs and a small plug in hot tub.. $10/day for water too, to keep all the mature (huge) trees and perennials alive during the heat wave and this drought. (But we do have twelve people living here just for a few months, more efficient ah four separate households, no?)
The man who installed the subsidized solar hot water system in 1982, defunct for some 5 years now, said he was now too old to take down the six huge panels from the 30′ high roof. The original system had convection heaters throughout the house, and two large hot water tanks. It would have cost about $8,000 to replace the tanks and maintain the old system. I sold the four Myson heaters on ebay and made some compensation. The bray oil and exchanger were recycled by the original installer.
The shake roof will have to be replaced someday soon, though repairs have been cheap the last ten years. The trees by the driveway have grown too big to get a crane in, what to do?
We do have natural gas and in other seasons it’s quite affordable. Our local geothermal company went broke and is gone,
For us the most efficient thing we could do is get rid of the gas log, line the chimney, rebuild the mantle and burn wood again, since it’s free here. We have the heat on from mid Sept through part of May, frequently. With two stairways the heat might waft upstairs quite nicely, but, oh, the mess! The 1960 Hydro Therm hydronic gas boiler is obsolete too but the contractors stare at it with respect as the double boilers are cast iron, heat both in 7 minutes and is not economical to replace.
It’s been a hard thing to ponder as our house was built for maximum heat gain in 1906 at 39 degrees n latitude at 5000′ elevation in a very dry, sunny climate. People slept in the screened porch if it got hot, and watered the grass in the evening to cool off the whole house. Funny how the walls weren’t originally insulated at all, they had coal forced air heat, state of the art, and knob and tube wiring.
In rural areas reality is what you live with.

A highly social endeavour: you need someone to use what you produce when you don’t need it (at noon) and some different source to supply you with electrical power when you need it but don’t produce it (nights). And the feed-in tariff is politically (=arbitrarily) defined because there is no objective way to price home-made things when entering such a complex market.
Do you participate in the corresponding investment for complementary grid and stand-by capacity?


The subsidies are going away.

The goal for solar power is to be able to compete on parity with conventional energy sources. The subsidies have always been intended as a short-term incentive for growth and innovation, not a permanent crutch. By reducing the subsidized rate aggressively, but not wantonly, the government has set a stretch objective that the industry can bear, allowing market forces to drive innovation and cost reduction.

Germany is dropping the subsidies. Ontario has dialed them back. The solar (and wind) experiment hasn’t succeeded. Different jurisdictions will take different times to figure that out but my guess is that the subsidies will be gone everywhere in a decade.
The real killer of alternate energy will be shale gas. Expensive oil led to huge alternate energy research in the 1970s. All that work evaporated when oil became cheap again. The same thing will happen now. Shale gas can even be used as a transportation fuel:

Mr. Tech says in a couple of years, one in three Navistar trucks sold will burn natural gas. “This is not a subsidy-driven market,” Mr. Tech says. “It’s developing on its own because the economics are compelling.”

P. Solar

Those who invest in a bit of energy autonomy will probably find it to have been a wise choice in the future.
IIIRC, Anthony has an electric powered vehicle, so I’d guess he is counting of storage rather than grid tied. Maybe both, should be interesting to see the details.

Colin Porter

Until I saw the photos of what you were up to, I thought you must have been working on a major scoop such as :-
“Has the publisher of the world’s most popular site on the science and politics of climate change sold his soul to the devil?
For years, the appropriately named Anthony Watts has campaigned tirelessly against the corruption that stems from big business such as solar and wind funding and promoting climate change alarmism. Now it seems, Mr Watts is getting his own little chunk of Paola, but what is worse, he is going to tell his disciples, who have looked to him for inspiration and guidance, how to get their bit of this dirt money also. It seems that when it comes to the crunch, the great American principle of looking after number one trumps even the most cherished of principles.”
Or as we say in England, “I’m all right Jack.” I criticise my own rich friends for capitalising on the outrageous feed in tariffs just for personal greed and at the expense of those less well off in society who are forced by our corrupt governments to pay for it in their electricity bills. I hope I am wrong in my assessment and that you have not become a lackey to the solar PV industry and the government machine which promotes such selfishness in the obtuse reasoning and justification of saving the planet.

I remember seeing an interview with an African bush doctor. His surgery had a solar panel and he had a choice between running a refrigerator to keep injection drugs viable or a strip light to aid patient examinations. Tough choice and crap solar panels. A friend has recently had his thermal roof panels, which worked well and kept his hot water to at least 30C, replaced with photovoltaic. I await his report but since he has been quiet on the subject I conclude that the new panels are not working as advertised.

If you live in a colder climate, I’d say a gas powered combined heat and power unit is your best bet for short term energy independence. Run off either mains gas or a gas storage tank.
BTW, here in Perth, pretty much every vehicle that does more than 30,000 Ks per annum, except big trucks (and we have the biggest truck trailer combinations in the world, locally called road trains) run on LPG or NG.


Can’t remember where I found this link. Might even have been from WUWT.
Many above commenters questions are answered. Bird poo reminded me. 🙂

cui bono

Looks like you have got your work cut out for you this weekend,best of luck with it.
Thought I would pass this on, since it is an open thread.
We are currently in Spain, our house faces East-West (West at the back) I have a small weather station with an external temperature sensor at the top of the rear facing window, so it is always in the shade. The back of the house has a high white wall and terracota tile paving. At this time of the year the sun is almost overhead at noon (we are 36.5 degrees North, 4.8 degrees West. It is 1:00pm and the outside temperature is 27 celsius, I can comfortably walk around in bare feet, as the sun moves towards the West, it is impossible to walk on the tiles in bare feet and the temperature soars by 10 degrees, purely due to the heat stored in the tiles.
I would imagine that tarmac/ashphalt that is black would make the temperature even higher. My point is that thermometers will give false readings at airports and city centres which is where the majority of readings are taken from.


Bill D says:
July 21, 2012 at 5:31 pm
Have you considered lowering the load with LED?

He’s got that installed too. I’ve seen a couple of his threads on it–the most recent almost a year ago, iirc.

James McCauley says July 21, 2012 at 9:54 pm
“I installed a ac powered attic vent fan”
James, That’s all very nice except for the neighbours, who will be getting free heat from your attic over the fence whether they want it or not.
One has to keep property rights in mind when doing these things.
That’s why I’d never do what Anthony is doing, if indeed he is taking advantage of state subsidies to make his panel system affordable. Show me a subsidy system and I’ll show you some official who is gaming the system, either financially or ideologically, by taking other peoples’ property rights.


Despite my doubts that solar (and wind) can scale, I would love to get off of “the grid” and be at least partly energy self-sufficient. And I wouldn’t like to be required to sell whatever electricity I generate back into the grid. Interesting times…