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Where Are You At On Green Energy?  RSS feed

 
Tyler Ludens
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Both: Promoted by guvmint (information outreach, subsidies) and distributed by the market.
 
Troy Rhodes
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As a libertarian, I think the government does a pretty crappy job at...everything.

So no, I don't want the government to promote green energy. They did that for a while in the 70's, in response to the OPEC oil embargo. Subsidized solar thermal panels and a bunch of similar ideas.

After a few years, (when oil got cheaper) they decided the market had "matured" and didn't need their subsidy. It just decimated the solar hot water and thermal panel industry in the US.


On the other hand, the feds in the US subsidize coal, oil, natural gas, and most electricity. It would help green energy a lot if they just didn't subsidize the fossil fuels and nukes.

But that's not going to happen.

So, to even get a level playing field, maybe they should subsidize green energy. But at the level of the consumer. If you buy photovoltaic, you get a certain subsidy per installed watt. When they give it to the companies directly, it hardly ever turns out how we want, like Solyndra if you remember them.

 
Steve Farmer
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Solar PV is pretty cheap now, to the point that you can get your investment back in 10-12 mths. But you have to use it right.

Solar charging a battery bank and running AC off it doesn't make a lot of sense, unless getting connected to the grid is impossible/expensive. Because the cost and usable life of the batteries, and the cost of the inverters and losses in charging/discharging and voltage step up/step down bring big inefficiencies.

Using electric cars doesn't make sense (yet, but it will in the medium term future) because of the same factors as above plus the energy cost of carrying your batteries around and the higher engineering costs of miniaturisation and weight saving needed in a vehicle application.

Putting solar PV into the grid on a domestic scale doesn't make a lot of sense because modern natural gas and diesel power stations can throttle up and down at a few seconds notice according to demand, and the losses from voltage step up/step down, and inverting DC to AC, and the overhead of only being allowed to connect approved suppliers' equipment to the grid.

Until the total installed base of PV is equal to or greater than humanity's energy needs, we need to intelligently use fossil fuel vs PV in appropriate places. So.. use fossil fuel for mobile applications like a car - where the energy density of gasoline or diesel is way over that of an electric battery, and where the energy is converted from chemical to mechanical in the machine. Use fossil fuels to power the variable demand for the grid to make sure there is energy on cloudy/windless days and at night. Use PV directly in the home or industry, with DC equipment where possible.

Unfortunately, the subsidies misallocate PV to grid tie and elec cars. You buy a Tesla and you get thousands of subsidy off the gov. You get a car that is pretty useless in a lot of scenarios and when it does work you are on the whole using power that starts off as chemical energy in fossil fuel, is converted to heat and/or mechanical then electrical in the power station, is converted to electromagnetic then electrical every time it is stepped up or down at a transformer, is subjected to losses as heat as it travels over the grid, is converted to chemical energy in a battery, is converted to mechanical in an electric motor in the car. Maybe you've got the hundreds of PV panels to be able to charge your Tesla in a practical timescale, but still you would be better using that PV to power your stationary washing machine, TV etc (or for your neighbour to do so if you have a surplus) and use a conventional car.

It's tempting to say let's subsidise the elec cars while they are not a great solution so that they can become a great solution but I disagree. The subsidies are going toward mass producing the bad solution, rather than developing something better. Let's move the subsidies away ffrom the bad solution, and preferably get rid of subsidies but if you have to subsidise, then send that money to development of renewable energy sources, ie better PV rather than to applications like Teslas that essentially use fossil fuel very inefficiently. In other words, subsidise the power generation rather than the power consumption.

Storage is often cited as the biggest problem with uptake of renewables, but I disagree. We are already on the whole connected to the grid. Instead of trying to move off grid, we should be using the grid when appropriate and using PV when appropriate. If it's night or cloudy, no problem, use the grid. If it's sunny use PV. You don't need to fret about not being able to use PV because you can't store it or you can't affford a battery bank when you can use it today without a battery bank and just go to diesel or natural gas powered grid elec as and when needed. That would be the fastest way of reducing fossil fuel use at the power station.


 
Tyler Ludens
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Troy Rhodes wrote:
On the other hand, the feds in the US subsidize coal, oil, natural gas, and most electricity. It would help green energy a lot if they just didn't subsidize the fossil fuels and nukes.


That would be excellent.

 
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