Re: [atheists-27] Solar Energy

From: Don W.
Sent on: Sunday, March 24, 2013 12:09 AM
I was rather sure that even the Wikipedia data was outdated.  From:
 
More than 30 percent of all installed PV power in the world is installed in Germany. In[masked] gigawatts (GW) of new solar power was installed, beating the 2011 record of 7.5 GW. In total 32,4 GW of PV power produces 28.5 TeraWatthour of solar electricity per year, enough to supply 8 million households with clean power. That’s 4,8 percent of the total electricity consumption in Germany.
 
 
I found another site that said the 2012 German solar production was running about 50% higher than 2011.  That seems confirmed with the above data.  Obviously 2013 will see German solar energy over 5% of the total and possibly over 6% of total electrical energy consuption in Germany.  Even with the extremely low amount of sun that they get in Germany it is getting to a lower cost than the standard residential grid costs.  I don't see that they will have to provide any subsidies going forward.
 
Don
 
 

From: Don Wharton <[address removed]>
To: [address removed]
Sent: Saturday, March 23,[masked]:50 PM
Subject: Re: [atheists-27] Solar Energy

Some of your data is a bit outdated and inaccurate.  From Wikipedia:
The German solar PV industry installed 7.6 GW in 2012[7] and 7.5 GW in 2011,[8] and solar PV provided 18 TWh of electricity in 2011, about 3% of total electricity.[4] On midday of Saturday May 26, 2012, solar energy provided over 40% of total electricity consumption in Germany, and 20% for the 24h-day. The federal government has set a target of 66 GW of installed solar PV capacity by 2030,[9] to be reached with an annual increase of 2.5–3.5 GW,[10] and a goal of 80% of electricity from renewable sources by 2050.[11] From 3.5 GW to 4 GW are expected to be installed in 2013.
 
My understanding is that an overcast day does not prevent all electricity from the solar panels.  It just reduces to the extent that the light is reduced.  Note that the solar panels are now selling wholesale at $0.66 per peak watt both in Europe and the US.  The "soft costs" are the major part of any system now installed.
 
The Germans have pushed the market to the point where it would approach the magical point of grid parity if we accomplish the same low price points here.  Yes they did that with high feed in tarrifs.  However, the price points quoted are irrespective of those tarrifs.  The $2 per peak watt is just what the homeowner pays.  The tarrifs just got the market to the scale where humanity can start viewing solar as the low cost provider of electricity. 
 
Don
 
 

From: Mathew Goldstein <[address removed]>
To: [address removed]
Sent: Saturday, March 23,[masked]:16 PM
Subject: Re: [atheists-27] Solar Energy

A good policy change for Maryland would be to allow construction of communal solar panel arrays.  Individual rooftops can be small, angled too much or too little, and may not face the sun much of the day, or may be shaded.  Erecting larger solar panel arrays that are then shared by a group of households can be more efficient.

I got a solar panel quote for my roof some months ago under a rental arrangement and I decided that it is not price competitive yet.  I pay extra for wind power electric and carbon offsets natural gas.  Some people no doubt are also willing to pay more now for obtaining some independence from the grid.  But my bet is that the solar technology will continue to improve, so I am going to spend my money on a rain garden now and maybe some years from now I will revisit solar again.  

Part of the problem may be with extra cost for permits and inspections.  But Germany also subsidizes solar totaling more than $130 billion, doing things like setting minimum rates utilities must pay for solar power from solar power producers.  They are phasing out the subsidies, having concluded that they are inefficient.  Germany’s minister of economics and technology, called the spiraling solar subsidies a “threat to the economy.”  On short, overcast winter days, Germany’s 1.1 million solar-power systems can generate no electricity at all.  Despite the massive investment, solar power accounts for only about 0.3 percent of Germany’s total energy.  By the end of the century, Germany’s $130 billion solar panel subsidies will have postponed world temperature increases by 23 hours.  However, because Germany is part of the European Union Emissions Trading System, the actual effect of extra solar panels in Germany leads to no CO2 reductions, because total emissions are already capped. Instead, the Germans simply allow other parts of the EU to emit more CO2.  Each job created by German green-energy policies costs an average of $175,000—considerably more than job creation elsewhere in the economy, such as infrastructure or health care.

The bottom line is this:  Solar panel technology still needs to be improved to be effective enough to make a difference.

On Mar 23, 2013, at 9:24 PM, Don Wharton <[address removed]> wrote:

Chad,
Yes the general support of atheists for science means we support the scientific consensus on the environment. There is nothing in the Bible saying that God wants them to support fossil fuel companies against this consensus. However, that is one of the contentious battles we have with many of those who are religious.
I have been impressed with the dramatic market achievements of the Germans on solar energy. One of our proposed questions to the DC candidates at our forum: Germans install solar energy systems on residential roofs for about $2 per peak watt. In DC multiple vendors are able to do it for $4 per peak watt or slightly less. A major difference is that in Germany there are no required permits and inspections reducing costs by about $2,000 on average. There is a web based form that needs to be filled in no more than two hours. A German installation is typically done in two weeks or less. The complexity of the American process can requires much more time and higher profit margins. What would you advocate to bring DC costs down to something closer to the average in Germany?
A big part of the difference is this differential in permitting and inspection costs. Much of it is also lack of experience. Another big part is the time spent in the sales effort in acquiring customers. Of course, a big fat part of the differential is a difference in the net profit margin. Obviously with a much longer sales cycle (perhaps six months instead of two weeks) a bigger profit margin is required.
I think this is again an area where we need to get out of debating mode and push the political process. This is especially so if we can get electricity that is cheaper than what we now pay for from the grid. The technology is near the point where that can be what we get. All we need is a range of governmental policy changes to get it done. Washington DC has enormous roof area. Many of our office buildings are of the same or similar height. That means those roofs are not shaded by other buildings. This is an ideal city to become the solar revolution city in our region.
Don
From: Chad <[address removed]>
To: [address removed]
Sent: Saturday, March 23,[masked]:16 PM
Subject: Re: [atheists-27] AND no Anti-Liberarianism till Sunday

Don,
You asked about what values we may share as atheists specifically within this group. Surely among our numbers there is no quarrel concerning the axioms of the natural world and the falseness of religion. However, personal values concerning what we do individually to address environmental issues, animal welfare issues, to raising our children would be of particular interest to me. As a bleeding heart liberal vegetarian with a toddler I would wade right into such topics.
Chad


Don Wharton <[address removed]> wrote:




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