24 hour a day thermosolar powered electricity is now possible.

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jagec

Lifer
Apr 30, 2004
24,442
6
81
Sure, if you are willing to pay 20x more for everything. Or simply settle for having 20x less of everything.

Right now--today--I can get a completely off-grid solar-electric system that will provide all of my power needs for 30 years for about $0.30 /kWh (assuming a self-install). That includes battery+inverter replacement. This is weather-dependent, of course--it would be more expensive in Alaska or Seattle, and cheaper in LA.

Yes, that's more expensive than grid power by a fair amount, but it's not 20x as much. Also, that figure is BEFORE rebates/tax credit.

That said, I believe that renewables would be impractical above 20-30% of total global power supply without some big improvements in energy storage technology. We'll still need coal/gas/oil/nuke, but we can probably supply our needs for a LONG time just by growing renewables and adjusting the price of electricity to actually reflect the cost of production (ie, Time-of-use pricing).
 

QuantumPion

Diamond Member
Jun 27, 2005
6,010
1
76
Right now--today--I can get a completely off-grid solar-electric system that will provide all of my power needs for 30 years for about $0.30 /kWh (assuming a self-install). That includes battery+inverter replacement. This is weather-dependent, of course--it would be more expensive in Alaska or Seattle, and cheaper in LA.

But you don't have to grow your own crops, make your own clothes, mine your own metals, build your own machines, etc. A commercial farm or factory, which is what makes modern conveniences affordable, cannot operate at that price. If you had to be 100% self sufficient, you couldn't use solar because you wouldn't have enough resources to allocate towards it and still feed yourself.

Yes, that's more expensive than grid power by a fair amount, but it's not 20x as much. Also, that figure is BEFORE rebates/tax credit.

You don't understand. There is no such thing as free money. Solar is only cheaper for you because everyone else is picking up the tab. If everyone was using solar, everyone would be paying the full cost.
 

Fenixgoon

Lifer
Jun 30, 2003
31,698
10,153
136
Right now--today--I can get a completely off-grid solar-electric system that will provide all of my power needs for 30 years for about $0.30 /kWh (assuming a self-install). That includes battery+inverter replacement. This is weather-dependent, of course--it would be more expensive in Alaska or Seattle, and cheaper in LA.

Yes, that's more expensive than grid power by a fair amount, but it's not 20x as much. Also, that figure is BEFORE rebates/tax credit.

That said, I believe that renewables would be impractical above 20-30% of total global power supply without some big improvements in energy storage technology. We'll still need coal/gas/oil/nuke, but we can probably supply our needs for a LONG time just by growing renewables and adjusting the price of electricity to actually reflect the cost of production (ie, Time-of-use pricing).

if you actually live in Bmore as your profile indicates (no i didn't click anything, it's right above your post count).... i am very curious as to how you'd be able to satisfy your energy and power needs with only solar.

energy for total usage (kWh/month)

power is instantaneous usage (kW) at any given point in the day.
 

cave_dweller

Senior member
Mar 3, 2012
231
0
0
Nuclear was never the future. Nuclear was the stop gap between the old air polluting plants to when wind, solar or any other usable and environment friendly ways to generate electricity that comes along. Nuclear was never a thing seen as the future of energy. Certain factors lead to the current power plants.

John Douglas Cockcroft and Ernest Thomas Sinton Walton were the first to split first to split an atom using artificially accelerated particles. Now they noticed the fast amount of energy available in such atom. In practical units, the fission of 1 kg (2.2 lb) of uranium-235 releases 18.7 million kilowatt-hours as heat

Unfortunately it was before the war and and military applications took over. But to put that aside the reactors that was used was for that purposes. Breeder reactors was designed so that dangerous mining of uranium do not have to take place which destroyed a lot of families. Now a breeder reactor produces more fuel than it consumes
The breeder system that has had the greatest development effort is called the liquid-metal fast breeder reactor (LMFBR). The breeder system that has had the greatest development effort is called the liquid-metal fast breeder reactor (LMFBR). It produces about 20 percent more fuel than it consumes. In a large power reactor enough excess new fuel is produced over 20 years to permit the loading of another similar reactor. In the LMFBR system about 75 percent of the energy content of natural uranium is made available, in contrast to the one percent in the LWR.

The USA has not bothered to build or develop new plants because they had cut the emissions. So it was just a "It will do for now" technology.

Now the interesting thing is the accidents people refer to. In 1979 at Three Mile result of human error was the cause as the emergency cooling system was shut off. In an operating reactor, the fuel elements contain by far the largest fraction of the total radioactive inventory.

The safety and the design prevented a serious catastrophe. They designed it where a number of barriers prevent fission products from leaking into the air during normal operation. The fuel is clad in corrosion-resistant tubing. The heavy steel walls of the primary coolant system of the PWR form a second barrier. The water coolant itself absorbs some of the biologically important radioactive isotopes such as iodine. The steel and concrete building is a third barrier. Backup safety systems that inject boron into the coolant to absorb neutrons and stop the chain reaction to further assure shutdown are part of the PWR design.

Now at Chernobyl it was due to unauthorized testing of the reactor by its operators. The reactor went out of control; there were two explosions, the top of the reactor blew off, and the core was ignited, burning at temperatures of 1500° C. Again human stupidity and to add the reactor at Chernobyl' did not have a containment building. It could have prevented material from leaving the reactor site. Again no safety standards.

The world’s supply of enriched uranium fuel for powering commercial nuclear power plants is produced by five consortiums located in the United States, Western Europe, Russia, and Japan. Now there is where Iran also have problems. They wanted to sort of push in their own consortium which will break that cycle of control and monitoring the above ones have. They can not see who is doing something they are not suppose to do with it and that is where the US and other nations do not want Iran to mine their Uranium. That is why Russia has offered enrichment for them. Also since those accidents strict protocols have been in place for the safety of such plants. That is also a reason for the inspectors to visit and look at the sites. It is more for Irans own safety and to see if the plants are according safety regulations as the world do not want another Chernobyl. 30 years ago Nuclear was the answer but today it has done its purpose to fill that gap. Sweden committed to phasing out nuclear power. France canceled several planned reactors and was considering the replacement of aging nuclear plants with environmentally safer fossil-fuel plants. Germany announced plans to phase out nuclear energy as well.

CChina is now no 1 in five renewable technologies and aims to be in all. Thanks to private enterprise, China passed its 2020 wind power target in 2010, and India has more wind power than nuclear power. China’s 2006 renewables (excluding large hydro) had seven times nuclear’s capacity and were growing sevenfold faster and that gap had widened despite the world’s most ambitious nuclear program.

Some stats I got from THE WORLD NUCLEAR INDUSTRY STATUS REPORT 2010–2011

As of April 1, 2011, there were 437 nuclear reactors operating in the world—seven fewer than in 2002. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) currently lists 64 reactors as “under construction” in 14 countries. By comparison, at the peak of the industry’s growth phase in 1979, there were 233 reactors being built concurrently. In 2008, for the first time since the beginning of the nuclear age, no new unit was started up, while two were added in 2009, five in 2010, and two in the first three months of 2011b. During the same time period, 11 reactors were shut down.c In the European Union, as of April 1, 2011, there were 143 reactors officially operationald, down from a historical maximum of 177 units in 1989. In 2009e, nuclear power plants generated 2,558 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity, about 2 percent
less than the previous year. The industry’s lobby organization the World Nuclear Association headlined “another drop in nuclear generation”—the fourth year in a row. The role of nuclear power is declining steadily and now accounts for about 13 percent of the world’s electricity generation and 5.5 percent of the commercial primary energy.
 

jagec

Lifer
Apr 30, 2004
24,442
6
81
But you don't have to grow your own crops, make your own clothes, mine your own metals, build your own machines, etc. A commercial farm or factory, which is what makes modern conveniences affordable, cannot operate at that price. If you had to be 100% self sufficient, you couldn't use solar because you wouldn't have enough resources to allocate towards it and still feed yourself.

Ah yes, the typical "if energy ever gets more expensive, civilization will collapse" argument. I seem to remember people making that argument about $4 gas back in the 90s.

Not saying that there wouldn't be complications if energy got more expensive, and I don't think that solar could ever be more than 30% of the energy mix, but the fact that the cost of an individual off-grid installation (as in, without the benefits of economies of scale) is approaching grid parity is encouraging. The cost of fossil fuels certainly isn't decreasing.



You don't understand. There is no such thing as free money. Solar is only cheaper for you because everyone else is picking up the tab. If everyone was using solar, everyone would be paying the full cost.

Which is why I said BEFORE--as in WITHOUT--tax credits and rebates. Full retail price, no subsidies, understand?

if you actually live in Bmore as your profile indicates (no i didn't click anything, it's right above your post count).... i am very curious as to how you'd be able to satisfy your energy and power needs with only solar.

energy for total usage (kWh/month)

power is instantaneous usage (kW) at any given point in the day.

Glad you asked! The numbers that I quoted were for a solar installation designed to keep a battery bank charged up (off-grid). This is a good deal less efficient than grid-tied, but it provides power 24/7.

The math:
Sunelec will sell you an off-grid system with everything you need except for batteries for $2.85 a watt (rated). The panels, wiring, etc. will last at least 30 years. The inverter might need to be replaced at 15 years. I'll spec out a 6.5 kW system, as this would be a good match to my current on-grid energy consumption.

This is a good size to keep a 48-volt, ~1000 Ah forklift battery charged. These batteries cost $6k. These batteries will last upwards of 20 years if cared for, but I will assume that it will only make it 15 years.

That gives me a total system cost of $18.5+$6k (initial cost) +$9k (15-year battery and inverter replacement = $33.5k 30-year cost.

Using PV-Watts (a solar estimator using 30 years of data gathered by the government), with a derating factor of 0.5 (assuming that fully half of the daytime energy that my panels would harvest would be lost through charging inefficiencies or from trying to charge a full battery), I would harvest about 5,000 kWh a year with this system. That's 150,000 over 30 years, for a per-kWh cost of $0.22. I rounded up significantly to account for mounting hardware, maintenance costs, lower than expected harvests etc.

If power needs were higher than my estimates, a bigger system would be installed, but the per-kWh cost wouldn't change much.
 
May 11, 2008
19,896
1,242
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The 2 towers in Arizona will have a combined output of 400MW, and they are just the beginning. So a GW isn't out of the range of possibility soon.

I read about the technology :
Have i read about the wrong solar tower ?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/09/hyperion-energy-solar-tower_n_1265393.html
This tower uses a different technology or am i confused ?
Both projects plan to use a vast canopy to trap and heat air that would have nowhere to go but up through a tower at the center of the canopy. Thirty-two turbines would capture the energy of the air as it is sucked into the tower, producing up to 200 megawatts of power.

The one in Spain uses molten salt for storage and conventional ways to generate electricity through steam turbines.
The Arizona version uses hot air and wind turbines.
 

werepossum

Elite Member
Jul 10, 2006
29,873
463
126

EagleKeeper

Discussion Club Moderator<br>Elite Member
Staff member
Oct 30, 2000
42,591
5
0
Obviously the Arizona one should be located in D.C.
You would have to extend the canopy anchor points out quite a few miles; To much hot air from within the area around where the tower would be located.
 

chucky2

Lifer
Dec 9, 1999
10,038
36
86
Ah yes, the typical snip

Curious: What happens when it's raining for a week straight, cloudy, and little sun energy is making it through the clouds? How is your air conditioner + house fan + sump pump + refrigerator + 2 TV's + a desktop + a laptop + washer + dryer + all the other electrical devices in your household going to work drawing just out of those batteries being charged by just your solar panels for that rainy week?

Is the tech actually advanced enough now where that's possible? If so, is that the price you quoted, or would a substantially larger solar array and/or battery array be needed?

Chuck
 

chucky2

Lifer
Dec 9, 1999
10,038
36
86
jagec not sure if you subscribed to this thread but if you did could you answer my post above if you know that info?
 

jagec

Lifer
Apr 30, 2004
24,442
6
81
Curious: What happens when it's raining for a week straight, cloudy, and little sun energy is making it through the clouds? How is your air conditioner + house fan + sump pump + refrigerator + 2 TV's + a desktop + a laptop + washer + dryer + all the other electrical devices in your household going to work drawing just out of those batteries being charged by just your solar panels for that rainy week?

Is the tech actually advanced enough now where that's possible? If so, is that the price you quoted, or would a substantially larger solar array and/or battery array be needed?

Chuck

Generally speaking you size your system for 3-4 days of low production, and use a backup generator to charge up your batteries if Mr. Sun still won't show up after that time. The nice thing about that is that you only have to run the generator until the batteries are fully charged, so you're loading it up to 80% or so of capacity the whole time it's getting used. That's a much more fuel efficient use of a generator than keeping it running 24 hours just to keep a few lights on.

The system that I spec'd out is closer to 2 days of reserve. A little on the low side, but if you're mindful of your loads it's doable.

You CAN just get a system that's sufficiently oversized to carry you the full week or more, but it ends up being a pretty big waste of money just to save a couple of gallons of gas a year.

Of course, the cheapest form of off-grid energy is the "nega-watt"...the power that you don't use. There are plenty of off-gridders who live comfortable lives with a mere 500 watt-hours of power per day. A gas or propane furnace, stove, and water heater (maybe with solar hot water as well) is a must to get down to THOSE numbers.

Even with a big system, though, you have to be more aware of your power use than if you're on the grid. People complain about the cost of power, but it's cheap for what it is.
 

chucky2

Lifer
Dec 9, 1999
10,038
36
86
So if someone got a gas generator tied to their gas line for their furnance, stove, and oven, then basically they would be set? (meaning: they'd never need to worry about filling up their generator when the power ran too low)

Another question: How viable are these solar arrays in areas like Chicago? We don't have powerful sun rays hitting here the whole year. Maybe 6-7 months a year one could go outside and actually develop any sort of tan. How are these things keeping snow off them, as in, do they have a self heating element for winter installations?

I'd seriously consider one of these for a remote property (that has gas run to it) in the Chicago zone but I really wonder at year 10, after some degradation, how these would be doing in the colder months where we sometimes get days or weeks of straight gray weather almost all the time, many times with some snow.

Chuck