Re: [atheists-27] Solar Energy

From: Mathew G.
Sent on: Monday, March 25, 2013 11:30 AM
The Salon article where I got the numbers for Germany appears to be inaccurate.  I conclude that Salon appears to lack standards regarding what they publish, it appears their editors do not fact check.  The lack of common sense editorial fact checking controls among large publishers of news articles like this is a problem.  

A wooded area shades my roof early in AM, the sun will go to the other side, where they didn't offer to install panels, for almost half the day, which is also shaded by trees and other homes some of the time, my roof is very angled, and many other roofs around here are similar in these ways to mine.  That is the reality, and it limits the usefulness of panels for many households.  But for those who can benefit, sure, try to lower the costs, the cost is one of the problems.

On Mar 24, 2013, at 9:43 PM, Chad  <[address removed]> wrote:

Don,
I'll touch on the question of solar energy and the cost.
Perhaps taking the advancement of wind and solar technology out of the private sector would be a great first step. Some things should be for the good of mankind and the planet and not for-profit. In time solar energy technology could be cheap enough that the grid would draw significantly from it use. Wind turbines, at this time, are far more appealing to me. Good ones are still crazy expensive ($25k +) but they do not depend on sunny skies for optimal output. You mentioned Germany in your post. Admittedly, I am not yet well read enough on the German and European solar energy models to make any intelligent points on their successes or failures. However, I do know how stupidly the US and European governments have misdirected funding and subsidies in the renewable energy markets. Farm produced Bio-fuels especially ethanol have proven to be significantly worse than the disease. As all the heavily subsidized farmers began switching to corn to produce ethanol they displaced vegetation that was much more efficient at soaking up carbon. Indonesia, for example, leveled much of it's lush forests and peat lands to produce palm oil for the European market. It's estimated that it will take 400 years to make up the carbon lost there. The grain it takes coming from Kansas to fill an average fuel tank could feed a hungry family for months. Tax dollars going to farmers to raise corn should stop immediately. Agricultural lobbyists in convincing the US and Europe governments to get behind this bio-fuel movement have done nothing but line their pockets, make fuel more expensive and less efficient, and accelerate global warming. We seem to always be looking in the wrong direction. By most estimates we need to lower carbon emissions by 80% by 2050. We can only do this by having fewer cows(if any at all), fewer people (1-2 kids is plenty), protection of the worlds forests, and ending the farm subsidies and channeling that money into wind and solar. If we fail to mainline solar and wind in the next 20 - 40 years then my daughter may be among the last humans to call this planet home. It's a fine mess we got ourselves into.
Chad

Don Wharton <[address removed]> wrote:

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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