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Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Topic Author's Original Post - Oct 11, 2008 - 11:12pm PT
Attached to the $700,000,000,000 federal bailout, the solar tax credits were renewed and expanded. Starting 1/1/09 The Federal Govnt will provide a solar tax credit of 30% of the cost of new solar installations on homes. In addition, there are rebates in most states and many cities. If you install solar in San Francisco now you can get 60%+ paid for.

AND, a way to save even more money is through Solar Power Community Purchasing. You get a bunch of neighbors together, who then bid out the projects to installers to get a bulk discount of 10-20%.

The group is called One Block Off the Grid http://www.1bog.org/

So, i am planning to go Solar at my home in South Lake Tahoe next spring. I am making an attempt to get other people in the area psyched so we can all save $$$. anyone else psyched? Also, I am trying to convince all my friends and family that have homes to look into solar. When you get 50% of it paid for, its a no-brainer investment (and good for planet).

You can read a cool article about One Block Off the Grid here: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/10/11/HOMS12TISR.DTL&hw=solar&sn=001&sc=1000

More info on the new tax credits here as well as some solar links:
http://www.solarpowerrocks.com/solar-trends/tax-credits-passed/

UPDATE JAN 2012
I put solar panels on the SuperTopo Global HQ
just passing thru

climber
Oct 11, 2008 - 11:19pm PT
"If you install solar in San Francisco now you can get 60%+ paid for."


Way to go Nancy Pelosi!



Thanks for saving our markets from crashing with your brilliant bail out!!!



Edit: And props to McCain for his vigilant fight against earmarks for voting against this bill, what a maverick

:(



Nohea

Trad climber
Aiea,Hi
Oct 11, 2008 - 11:24pm PT
We love our solar water heater. Rarely turn on the electric one so we save a few $$. Our electric bill is barely $100/mo, and I think the water heater being turned off helps quite a bit.

Get one folks!
wil
TradIsGood

Chalkless climber
the Gunks end of the country
Oct 11, 2008 - 11:50pm PT
Chris, report back if you can actually install meaningful generation on your site.

Facing east/west - half the houses in the country is a loser - and you likely won't get a credit.

Being shaded by trees even in the winter by deciduous is also a loser.

Then there are those chimneys that wipe out an amazing chunk of your roof.

A shaded solar panel is like a resistor reducing output of the other panels.

That said, if you have the site, go for it!
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Oct 12, 2008 - 12:00am PT
I have no problem with the government investing any amount in wind and solar. It's one of our true investments in our future while we burn billions every week in Iraq.

Good on ya Chris

peace

Karl
Mike Bolte

Trad climber
Planet Earth
Oct 12, 2008 - 12:06am PT
hey Chris,

we put in a 3.2KW system two years ago. Love it.
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 12, 2008 - 12:10am PT
good point, i should have said "I would encourage people to see if their site works." i am lucky to be on a south facing slope that gets all day sun.
Chaz

Trad climber
So. Cal.
Oct 12, 2008 - 12:12am PT
Here's an example of the kind of *investment* The Government tends to make.

The prison where my brother-in-law works is installing a solar-to-electric generating system.

This will cost the Taxpayers $65,000,000.

OK so far, until you find out the prison only spends about $55,000 a month on electricity.

If everything works as planned, it will take almost one hundred years to pay for itself, assumimng no maintnence costs and also assuming the thing lasts a hundred years.

Government spending is a lot of things, but "investment" it isn't.

kunlun_shan

Mountain climber
SF, CA
Oct 12, 2008 - 12:29am PT
Chaz, which prison is the solar generation system at?

edit:

wondering if its this one:
http://www.upi.com/Science_News/2008/05/28/California_prison_gets_solar_power_plant/UPI-92661211998490/

(see also http://tinyurl.com/4x6tjb )

SunEdison Sets Up Solar Power at Ironwood Prison

June 2, 2008

Ironwood State Prison in Blythe, Calif., and SunEdison on May 28 announced the activation of a new 1.18 megawatt (MW) ground-mounted photovoltaic solar power system.

The photovoltaic system was deployed through a public-private partnership between the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and SunEdison, North America's largest solar energy services provider.

Under a solar power services agreement, SunEdison financed, constructed, and will operate the solar energy system. The department avoids all upfront capital costs and will purchase the solar energy at predictable prices equal to or less than current retail rates.
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
sorry, just posting out loud.
Oct 12, 2008 - 12:37am PT
so what you all are saying is that the environment is important to climbing, and therefore is on topic. cutting it close here peeps.

;)





second the motion on which prison. I've got 3 inlaws that are DOC.
Chaz

Trad climber
So. Cal.
Oct 12, 2008 - 01:08am PT
I'm pretty sure that's the joint. There are two prisons out there, right next to each other and I can never remember the exact one where he works (turning keys or something - NOT making license plates).

I'm glad to see the State not paying for this, but why does it take so damn long for a system to pay for itself?

Give me something that will start making money while it's still new enough not to need maintnence and I'll buy two.

Sunshine is free. Wind blows for nothing. Why are these two sources more expensive than the usual coal/petrolium/nuclear we're getting power from now?

I'm going to lay the blame at American Capitalist Greed, which seems to infest Big Green as bad as it does Big Oil. Maybe worse, because as noted above, wind and sun are free and are everywhere, while oil costs money, is hard to find and has to be hauled great distances.
Number 666

climber
Oct 12, 2008 - 01:09am PT
the sun is good

because from light comes darkness...

(just sayin')



Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 12, 2008 - 01:20am PT
When you predict payback time, you have to take into account rising energy costs. Nobody know what future energy costs will be. I think on average, energy costs have increased on average 5.5% a year over the last 30 years.
WBraun

climber
Oct 12, 2008 - 01:24am PT
I read a while back that the amount of energy it takes to manufacture solar cells is more than it's return.

An inefficient technology when you look at the WHOLE picture.
nick d

Trad climber
nm
Oct 12, 2008 - 01:25am PT
Since Chaz got every other aspect of the story wrong, anybody know what it actully did cost?
Chaz

Trad climber
So. Cal.
Oct 12, 2008 - 01:29am PT
It's going to get better and way cheaper in the future, like everything else technical.

I'm willing to wait. I don't want to be the idiot sitting on the $900 1990 DVD player because I just had to have it right now.
MisterE

Trad climber
My Inner Nut
Oct 12, 2008 - 01:38am PT
WBraun: Contrarian, exacerbator, curmudgeon, Spiritualist, Saint.

The kind of guy I want saving my ass in Federal Parks. haha, Werner!
Chaz

Trad climber
So. Cal.
Oct 12, 2008 - 01:41am PT
You're right, Nick. I was working from memory on a Saturday night. Always dangerous.

I was indeed wrong.

It will take 130 years to see a return on the *investment*, not the "almost one hundred years" as I had said earlier.

http://www.pe.com/localnews/publicsafety/stories/PE_News_Local_D_solar29.410f48d.html

"$6.5 million project"

"...the system unveiled Wednesday is expected to save the state $50,000 a year in energy costs"

Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 12, 2008 - 01:51am PT
The panels may get cheaper. But its hard to imagine there will ever be more rebates. For example, in san francisco, you could get a 3kw system after rebates for $6000. That can wipe $100 off your bill per month. it pays back in less than 5 years. at which point you are then saving $1200 x (cost of energy increases) per year.

if you didn't have $6000, but could get a home equity line of credit for 6%, you would be financing the system for $30 a month while saving $100 on electricity.

not for everyone. but some people can save a lot money, get away from future rate hikes,
WBraun

climber
Oct 12, 2008 - 02:00am PT
So?

It takes energy to make the cells, right? .... No?

The amount of energy required to make the cells is more than the amount you get back.

Am I wrong?
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 12, 2008 - 02:05am PT
according to the American Society of Mechanical Engineers:

the energy returned on energy invested (EROEI) for solar is in the range of 10 to 30. They thus generate enough energy over their lifetimes to reproduce themselves many times (6-31 reproductions, the EROEI is a bit lower) depending on what type of material, balance of system (or BOS), and the geographic location of the system.

you can read more here

http://jupiter.clarion.edu/~jpearce/Papers/netenergy.pdf

I have heard anecdotally that the EROEI of solar has doubled every 5 years for the last 25 years. That report was in 2002. i imagine that EROEI has gone way up since then.

are there other engineering or science papers out that that contradict this?
Chaz

Trad climber
So. Cal.
Oct 12, 2008 - 02:10am PT
The little solar yard-lights I got this year kick ass over the ones from just a couple years ago. And they were cheaper.
WBraun

climber
Oct 12, 2008 - 02:14am PT
Thanks for the information Chris.
dirtineye

Trad climber
the south
Oct 12, 2008 - 02:39am PT
Mechanical engineers?

Wonder what the ELECTRICAL Engineers have to say about that?
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Oct 12, 2008 - 10:23am PT
Yeah, Like the war will pay for itself in 100 years. Did the moon shot pay for itself?

New energy technology is critical for this planet. If it costs too much now, spending that money will support the developing tech and lead to eventual economies of scales.

Peace

Karl
noshoesnoshirt

climber
Oct 12, 2008 - 10:31am PT
"Mechanical engineers?

Wonder what the ELECTRICAL Engineers have to say about that? "


Dirt,
The job description of a mechanical engineer is transferal of power from one system to another. We're the ones designing and running your generating plants.
And the materials engineers working on new PV cell design? Bingo, MEs.
Really though, it's a cross-discipline field.

And Chaz,
If you're worried about the efficiencies of PV cells, go passive solar; it's simple and cheap.
Jeremy Handren

climber
NV
Oct 12, 2008 - 10:37am PT
Worth mentioning that the price of panels is going to drop next year.
Large increases in polysilicon supply will be starting to hit the market by the end of the year. Manufacturers have been ramping up volume to the extent that analysts are expecting a glut of panels over the next couple of years. This coming at a time when demand could take a big hit, since the cost and availability of credit is central to the economic viability of PV systems, both big and small.

Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Oct 12, 2008 - 10:41am PT
"I have heard anecdotally that the EROEI of solar has doubled every 5 years for the last 25 years. That report was in 2002. i imagine that EROEI has gone way up since then. "

You have to wonder how good solar would be now if it had received the billions in subsidies that Nuke got over the years

Peace

Karl
Brian

climber
Cali
Oct 12, 2008 - 10:49am PT
Chris,

Good for you. I've been thinking about/trying to budget for solar for a year or so now.

Quick question:
How do you get the 3kw system for 6000 (even post rebate)? One of the sites you linked us to (http://www.solarpowerrocks.com/california/); suggests that a 3kw system in SF would run more like $26,000 (before rebates).

Brian
minexploration

Social climber
Whitefish Montana
Oct 12, 2008 - 11:32am PT
The crazy part about all this discussion is that everyone is talking about solar panels. There are many new solar technologies out there that could make solar panels a thing of the past and allow houses that are not perfect to benefit from solar technology.

Just one technology is the Solar tube that collects light in a 360 degree environment. An interesting site is www.solyndra.com and an interesting article is http://blog.wired.com/wiredscience/2008/10/thin-film-solar.html

Just thought that I would throw this out there to chew on.

JRW
Engineer by training
SteveW

Trad climber
The state of confusion
Oct 12, 2008 - 12:16pm PT
Chris
I had a 1.76 KV array installed a couple of years ago and
I couldn't be happier. With the Excel Energy rebate and my
federal tax credit, I paid about $7k for the entire setup.
And aside from nighttime, I generate all of my electricity.
I am hooked into the grid, and sell my power back to the
utility, which additionally subtracts from the cost.
A great deal, and it's clean!!!! (When I use power from the
grid I'm using power generated by windmills too)!
I hope you can get your block to do it Chris! Way to go!
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 12, 2008 - 01:10pm PT
Nice work, steve W

here is how you would get a crazy cheap set up in san francisco:

IF you have a good site

3 KW system

$27,000 List Price ($9/watt) Pre-Rebate
-8100 Federal ITC
-5700 Cal. Solar Initiative ($1.90/W)
-6000 SF Solar Initiative Program

$7200 Market Price

If you also join the 1Bog solar collective you save - $1.50/watt so that total cast would be...

$3200!!!

If you dont live in san francisco, but live in CA, or NV or another state that gives a rebate of $1.90/W the cost would be $9200

you you save about $1200 a year on electricty. Assuming the historical annual rate increase of 5.5% a year, its pays back 6.5 years after installation

if you finance the system at 6% interest only you pay $46 per month while saving $100 in electricity

here is a chart that helps calculate the cost savings of rebates HOWEVER you need to update the fact that the Federal Tax Credit has increased from a cap of $2000 to 30%

http://www.1bog.org/what-is-one-block-off-the-grid/what-does-it-cost/

i don't think anyone knows for sure how much installing solar increases the value of your home. but its something.
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Oct 12, 2008 - 01:55pm PT
Chris, you rock.

Nothing could be more patriotic nor protect you better for the future than supporting alternative energy companies with money (even gov money) and becoming more energy independent yourself

Peace

Karl
Brian

climber
Cali
Oct 12, 2008 - 03:00pm PT
Chris,

Thanks for the saving calculator.

I'd really like to go solar for philosophical and environmental reasons; but the cost calculation has kept be focused on other ways to 'green."

Our electrical bills are on the order of $25-$40 a month, generally toward the lower end of that spectrum (with 4 people in my family). I guess we don't have as many electrical gadgets as other folks or something. The payback period for that kind of savings is long (12+ years). Especially because my current understanding is that CA will not buy back excess power from home systems, so any energy you generate over what you use goes back to the state, but you don't get paid for it.

I'm still interested in working out a good solar system. Here in southern CA I should be a prime candidate for solar. I just have to get someone over here to give an estimate, price the system and rebates, etc.

Thanks again for getting folks interested in this.

Brian
Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Oct 12, 2008 - 03:12pm PT
The biggest energy savings, as always, are from conserving. That is, modest sized houses built with energy conservation in mind, both in terms of materials and construction, and actual operation. In urban areas, at least, with reasonable density, to support functional public transit etc.

It's a bit like sidewalks - it costs virtually nothing when building them to provide for wheelchair/scooter ramps at corners. It costs a lot to retrofit them.

Recognizing that south Lake Tahoe probably will never have very high density, that houses there are probably fairly large and spread out, and not built with energy conservation in mind.

Good to see that Chris is taking the initiative on this, though, as every bit helps. And a willingness to try new things is essential in terms of the problems facing the U.S., whether energy or otherwise.
spyork

Social climber
A prison of my own creation
Oct 12, 2008 - 03:43pm PT
3.2 kW system on my roof. southwest exposure. The shade is not a problem because my dickwad neighbor poisoned my shade tree a couple years before I had solar put in.

I have to wash the panels at least 2-3 times per year or I take a big hit on production. Been running the system for 3 years now. No real issues.
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 12, 2008 - 06:47pm PT
Alright, corey rich is in. Anyone else?
blake

Trad climber
Berkeley, CA
Oct 12, 2008 - 07:26pm PT
Chris, I'm glad you're promoting solar, and looking into it for your own property.

It is true that with the (now uncapped) residential Federal ITC, combined with the CA CSI/NSHP programs, and especially combined with the SF rebate, residential PV is a better deal than ever.

Commercial PV is often an even better deal, depending on rate schedules and patterns of site electrical usage.

This thread has some good information (mostly from Chris) and some common misconceptions (lifecycle energy analysis, E/W orientation "not good" or "not eligible for rebates", 100 year payback, "better to wait for next generation technology", etc).

The reality is that there are only a few choices for truly renewable energy available today, and for many home and business owners, PV makes a lot of sense, both environmentally and financially.

I know because the company I've worked at for the last 5+ years has designed and installed going-on 1,000 real-life, working systems, both solar electric (PV) and solar thermal ("hot water"). As a few posters on this thread have confirmed, there are many happy solar system owners available to share their success stories.

Chris, if you or any other climbers reading this thread can use any help understanding the technical details of PV for your building (electrical, structural, mechanical, environmental), or evaluating proposals from (the huge number of) installation contractors, feel free to email me.

[company plug: if you're relatively local to the SF Bay Area, we are also available to provide a free estimate for your solar project]

Go Solar!

Blake


Blake W. Gleason, P.E.
Engineering Department Manager
Sun Light and Power
1035 Folger Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94710
Office: 510-845-2997
Fax: 510-845-1133
blake@sunlightandpower.com
http://www.sunlightandpower.com
SteveW

Trad climber
The state of confusion
Oct 13, 2008 - 09:01am PT
Chris
I've heard there are moves in places where the expense of
the solar systems would be wound into the house's value,
so if the owner sold the house, the buy would be paying
a pro-rated amount for the solar installation. That would be
a super way to energize this market too--the owner, unless they
lived their life out at the home, would get some additional
financial incentive to purchase one.

GO SOLAR
(On my way to Facelift, my friend Bob drove us by a huge
solar installation north of Crestline, CA).
dirtineye

Trad climber
the south
Oct 13, 2008 - 09:29am PT
God help ups in MEs are doing all the work on solar ( sorry for a little Math/physics/EE joke)

And not everyone is talking about panels.

THE thin film revolution is about to hit big.


BTW, isn't one of Obama's proposals a 35% credit for going solar?

Ant any rate ( haha a joke) thanks CHris fro posting the details of your investment.

ANd yes Karrl, as you know, the moon program paid for itself oer and over, with things line miniturization VLSI and all its much smaller reltaives came from that) and latex paint for example.

IF The idiot rethuglican icon Ronald Rayguns had not dismantled Carters's energy commission, we'd be 30 years ahead of where we are now. THE USA would likely be the world leader in alt energy, and THAT would be GOOD for everyone. Well except oil companies and oil men.
just passing thru

climber
Oct 13, 2008 - 10:41am PT
HA! History is repeating itself. The gov did this years ago. Tons of folk in Boulder ponied up for gov-subed panels in the late 80's. Stuff goes eventually wrong with the system and it is very expensive to fix. 6/10 of the houses on my parent's street have nonworking panels attached. The savings look great on paper…

Social engineering never works…this is similar to the sub prime fiasco in that the gov is helping people into stuff they otherwise couldn’t afford. Who is going to bail you out when sh#t goes wrong with your expensive system?


This is what happens when the gov tries to meddle in the free markets...you get contrived solutions...that eventually fail. Talk to Fannie or Freddie about that, they'll tell you…




Solar is the new ethanol...
SteveW

Trad climber
The state of confusion
Oct 13, 2008 - 10:47am PT
I would question your thoughts, JPT.
Yes, there are old solar panels that are nonfunctioning.
That could be for any number of reasons. If the owner
keeps on top of things, especially with the new technology,
there should be years of worry free power.
I'm enjoying my second year of emission free power, and
love it all of the time.
It will NOT be the next ethanol. . .

thhhhpppppt!
jstan

climber
Oct 13, 2008 - 11:01am PT
Chaz:
I pulled up the link which is posted out below.Your correction to your correction still seems at odds with this report. You still quote a payback time of more than 100 years. As the state had no upfront costs there is no payback time at all.

Can we get a correction to your correction’s correction?

Desert sun powers Blythe prison
10:00 PM PDT on Wednesday, May 28, 2008
By PAIGE AUSTIN
The Press-Enterprise

Better known for its blues, the state's prison system is going green with a 13-acre solar-panel field to provide energy to Ironwood State Prison in Blythe.

The largest and most advanced solar-energy project in the California Department of Corrections, the system unveiled Wednesday is expected to save the state $50,000 a year in energy costs and will serve as a model for 10 other prison projects, said Harry Franey, the department's chief of Energy Management and Sustainability.

"We have finally hit on a formula. Up until now we have only been able to build systems on a one-time basis," Franey said. "Partly because of the economy and the technology, things are coming together. ... We're not going to stop until we look at every single site."



Built and funded by SunEdison, the 6,000 solar panels shift to track the sun across the sky, taking full advantage of the desert sun.




SunEdison used tax rebates to fund part of the $6.5 million project, and the company will recoup its expenses over the course of a 20-year contract with the state, Franey said.

The system is expected to generate roughly 2.4 million kilowatt-hours during its first year of production and offset nearly 38.5 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions over 20 years, prison officials said. The effect on the environment would be like taking 3,770 cars off the road for one year.

All of the energy produced will be sold back to the medium-security men's prison at a discounted rate, Warden Debra Dexter said.

"We're looking at a 15 percent rate reduction," she said. "We're trying to be good neighbors by doing what we can for the environment."

Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 16, 2009 - 10:53pm PT
I have been telling a lot of friends how solar now pretty much pays for itself (if you get all the tax credits and can finance it for a reasonable rate - see above).

But haven't gotten any of my friends to really go for it... So i realize that before i recommend this to too many more people I should do it myself. Since there is now a 30% instant rebate from the government, i am going to try and do this in the fall - if i can save up pennies. ill keep you posted on how it goes for me.
Ricky D

Trad climber
Sierra Westside
Mar 16, 2009 - 11:03pm PT
Chris - good intentions on ya to give it a try - but for a lot of people, even with the rebates it can an "upside down" investment in financial terms. Takes a long damn time to get your money back so to speak.

If money is not someone's primary concern - than do it for the long-term environmental statement! Absolutely!

Prices on solar panels have dropped about 12% in the past 6 months as global demand has declined. But considering that panel prices had risen upwards of 85% since 2005 - they're still not cheap!

Also, are you going supplemental - meaning panels and controller only so you can only "save" commercial AC during the day?

Or will you be installing a nighttime system which includes deep-cell batteries and an inverter/charger along with the panels and such?


apogee

climber
Mar 16, 2009 - 11:22pm PT
Chris- good on ya for taking the plunge. Nevermind the naysayers- change is hard, and they resist it mightily.
Wonder

climber
WA
Mar 17, 2009 - 01:31am PT
India is way ahead of you guys and they ain't sticking it on top of some stinking prison.

http://www.e-greenstar.com/India/launch/Press-release.htm
Forest

Trad climber
Tucson, AZ
Mar 17, 2009 - 01:39am PT
I read a while back that the amount of energy it takes to manufacture solar cells is more than it's return.

this is flat out false and has been for several decades now.

What other random things did you hear someone say once?
graniteclimber

Trad climber
Nowhere
Mar 17, 2009 - 01:46am PT
"This will cost the Taxpayers $65,000,000.

OK so far, until you find out the prison only spends about $55,000 a month on electricity."


Let's assume those numbers are correct.

"If everything works as planned, it will take almost one hundred years to pay for itself, assumimng no maintnence costs and also assuming the thing lasts a hundred years."

Wrong. The electricity that is generated that isn't used by the prison will be sold so it will pay for itself much sooner.
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 17, 2009 - 02:04am PT
i am getting a grid tied system. Since ill probably finance it, the pay back period will be zero days: as described in more detail above, my monthly payments will be less than my energy savings. well, that is the theory at least. we will see how it works in practice.
tooth

Mountain climber
Guam
Mar 17, 2009 - 04:41am PT
Chaz, is money the only 'cost' of coal power?

If you were an American producing solar panels in your garage you would appreciate the news.

Isn't clean energy worth more money than coal? The only cost in clean energy is the unit. The costs of coal/dam/nuclear power includes more than the original units. There are environmental costs to factor in as well.

I want thin film solar panels for window tint. Paste it on the glass, get tint/power from the same thing. Wonder when that will come out...
Danielle Winters

Trad climber
Alaska
Mar 17, 2009 - 07:50am PT
I installed a small solar system at my Homestead in Alaska about six years ago and have been very happy with it . I run satelite dish, computer, freezer ,washing machine Lights and other small applinance with it .

Let the sun shine!

I will try and and post a few pictures. if I can remember how in a few moments
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 17, 2009 - 10:46am PT
here are two short videos on developements in thin film solar. its actually "ink jet" solar in one case. they "could" bring the cost of solar down a lot. maybe. or maybe not. either way, very interesting stuff

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ic3SGAIZAWw

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cGT-sS1AljE
Eric Beck

Sport climber
Bishop, California
Mar 17, 2009 - 02:25pm PT
Good for you Chris.
A proposal which will greatly increase solar installations involves paying people for their excess generation. For a grid tied system the excess of generation over consumption is called can be rewarded in several ways. Here in California we get a credit which may be applied to the following months bill. These credits may accumulate, but at the end of the year, any unused credits vanish. Less politely, they are confiscated by the utility.
In both Wisconsin and Minnesota, excess generation is paid for at retail. In Germany it is paid for at $.40/kwh. In Japan a plan is being implemented to pay $.25/kwh. Since solar by it's nature corresponds to peaking capacity, this is a bargain for the utility, although not as good a bargain as confiscated power. The actual cost to utilities of peaking capacity seems to be closely guarded; I have not been able to learn this. Does anyone have some actual data on the cost of peaking capacity.
Paying for excess generation creates millions of little capitalists. It is an idea even republicans can love.
the Fet

Knackered climber
A bivy sack in the secret campground
Mar 17, 2009 - 02:36pm PT
Great info, thanks Chris.
tolman_paul

Trad climber
Anchorage, AK
Mar 17, 2009 - 02:57pm PT
As much as I'd like to, it wouldn't work for us. Our house has good Southern exposure, but a mountain range to the South that puts us in the shade for about 3 months during the winter.

The long term plan is to get some land and build an energy efficient house. Depending on the location I'd consider a small wind turbine, small hydroelectric or solar. Short term plan is to ride my bike to work when the roads are clear.

For our energy use, electricity is at the bottom, first its vehicle fuel, then natural gas for heating, then electricity.
TradIsGood

Chalkless climber
the Gunks end of the country
Mar 17, 2009 - 04:04pm PT
The cost of peaking capacity is going to be quite variable.

Depending on the location it could come from something as small as a jet engine or two running on kerosene (jet fuel), or it could be a power plant running on natural gas, or even No. 6 fuel oil. It might even be purchased off the grid from another supplier.

It is easy to understand that it would be hard to find good numbers since you would have to account for the quite variable costs of these types of fuels, even if they were purchased at fixed prices.

In practice, they may even be purchased in fixed quantities at a fixed spread to some reported index (which varies) to the fuel cost.

That said, being paid full retail (running meter backward) is truly a nice little windfall, since if you set up a business, you would normally not get paid close to retail for wholesale supply!
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 4, 2012 - 09:47pm PT
UPDATE JAN 2012
I put solar panels on the SuperTopo Global HQ and wrote a trip report on it at the preceding link
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