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Thread: Solar Energy Becomes Cheaper than Diesel Generation

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  1. #1
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    Default Solar Energy Becomes Cheaper than Diesel Generation


  2. #2
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    Default Re: Solar Energy Becomes Cheaper than Diesel Generation

    well... it sounds good...

    wonder when we'll hear the other c1ue... uhhh... i mean SHOE drop?
    ;)

    dont get me wrong mr juju - i AM a proponent/advocate of PV, but still think its only a very small part of the big energy picture - altho its definetly cost effective in remote locations (...or where the status quo keeps the electric utilility monopoly too profitable to buck without massive subsidies that then allow those with the means to o/w pay for it themselves to have their stuff paid-for by those who cant afford to, without giving away all the incentive to some 3rd party Finance outfit, which then takes the subsidy, jacks up the price to increase the subsidy, causing The Rest of US to pay thru the nose for it all...)

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    Default Re: Solar Energy Becomes Cheaper than Diesel Generation

    I am sure our good friend c1ue will have much to say and I welcome him to chime in!

    I agree that solar energy is only part of the puzzle; however, it is an increasingly important part and I look forward to seeing more developments. For my part, I think we should dramatically ramp up nuclear power development and renewable energy generation. From there, we should gradually phase out nuclear power until it forms only the backbone for a vibrant renewable energy grid.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Solar Energy Becomes Cheaper than Diesel Generation

    Is major uptake of solar technology still in the 3rd world?

    Another technology that could speed adoption of solar (3rd world still) is ultra-cheap UV LED technology, which is making great gains in power output and is getting cheaper seemingly by the minute.

    Get some solar, get some UV LED lamps and voila, more cleaner water ... maybe not cleaner of soluble toxins but definitely of bacteria and viruses.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Solar Energy Becomes Cheaper than Diesel Generation

    What an idiotic article.

    In case you haven't noticed - the only countries that still use diesel as a major electricity generation platform are:

    1) Oil producing Middle Eastern countries
    2) Oil producing African countries
    3) Japan post-nuke shutdown

    Diesel electricity production costs something like $0.50 or more per kwh generated. This sucks bad. Yes, solar's levelized cost is now lower than that, but big fiddlydee.

    We do still have diesel electricity generation in the US. Why? Because that's what happens when peak electricity usage hits - the utility companies' have to ramp up electricity supply very quickly. Diesel generators are just fine for this in terms of responsiveness.

    So let's review:

    1) Solar is now cheaper than expensive petroleum based electricity generation.
    2) Solar has no additional ramp up capability, so is literally in a completely different generation category. What that category is, is quite unclear until we create a 'salve for environmental guilt' category, because it is neither cheap nor reliable nor useful as a peak load rampup.

    Coal is cheap and reliable with medium ramp up.
    Natural gas is cheap and reliable medium ramp up.
    Diesel is reliable, expensive but ramps fast.
    Nuclear is cheap and reliable, but ramps very slow (both ways).

    Quote Originally Posted by Spartacus
    Another technology that could speed adoption of solar (3rd world still) is ultra-cheap UV LED technology, which is making great gains in power output and is getting cheaper seemingly by the minute.
    That sounds great, but far from clear to me it is possible. For one thing, LED requires semiconductor manufacturing - and the capital and operation costs for semiconductors are extremely high. An iPhone doesn't care if the chips inside it cost $200, but in terms of actual area (gallium arsenide or some such vs. silicon) - an LED isn't all that different than one of the CPU chips in an iPhone.

    Why does this matter? Because a wafer costs a certain large amount of money. The reason semiconductors are getting cheaper is because the area consumed by a given capability chip has been shrinking; this dynamic does not exist for LEDs because they are gigantic on the individual device level. For computers and cell phones, the actual chips have been shrinking despite the complexity and capability of designs increasing - this ain't going to happen to any significant degree with LEDs. To give an example: a Y2K era Athlon manufactured to a 2013 process would shrink to 1/4 or 1/6 of its original semiconductor area.

    This presentation talks about the challenges in reducing LED cost. The reductions seen thus far have very little to do with manufacturing and very much to do with amortizing R & D costs. As you can see, the ability to reduce manufacturing cost exists, but it is going to be small quantitative as opposed to qualitative:

    http://semiconwest.org/sites/semicon...Virey_Yole.pdf

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Solar Energy Becomes Cheaper than Diesel Generation

    thanks c1ue +1

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    Default Re: Solar Energy Becomes Cheaper than Diesel Generation

    I should note a couple other things:

    The $0.50 I quote above for diesel electricity generation is a lower bound. Actual costs extend up to $2.00/kwh.

    I'll also add that the reason solar is a poor fit for peak demand is twofold:

    1) Sure, you can install a solar panel which does nothing but feed electricity into the ground when not needed - rather than have a diesel generator. This increases the cost per utilized kwh for solar, however. Peak demand is, by definition, a rare occurrence. How much economic sense does it make to install a full time electricity producing capital good in order to meet a 5% or less situation?

    2) The demand profile for electricity is changing. With the addition of electric cars into the mix, it can no longer be safely assumed that peak electricity usage coincides with hot days in Southern California/Nevada. A peak electricity usage might instead by a holiday weekend where everyone charges up to drive to Grandma's house - and if that day is cloudy, then we'll have to fire up the diesel generators.

    Equally the notion that electric cars' batteries can be an off-grid storage medium. This is even more ridonkulous.

    If an electric car had sufficient range that an owner could drive it for 2 week's or more normal driving - which is what a gasoline car does - then the above statement might be true. However, if the range of electric cars is only 2 or 3 days worth, then there is no storage capacity to speak of.

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