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No Solar Roadways Anytime Soon

Sadly, bad science & scant common sense
Wednesday, June 11, 2014, 11:54 AM

A couple of the things I'm most allergic to are bad science and its partner in crime, a lack of common sense. The predicaments we face are factual and plain to see, and yet human beliefs and (in many cases) ignorance often sabotage making progress towards remedying those issues.

Recently, the idea of creating 'solar roadways' swept across the social media universe:

A lot of emails are hitting my inbox as people want to know what I think of this marvelous idea.

First, I'm quite sympathetic to the desire to find ways to turn our many liabilities into some sort of good.  At first blush, the idea of tearing up our roads and covering them with durable solar panels sounds really attractive.

Understandably, a lot of people have been captivated by a slick promo video that went out across the Internet. Funds well in excess of the $1,000,000 goal have been rapidly raised from over 43,000 individuals in support:

(Source - Indigogo site)

Many 'news' sites leaped at this remarkably promising story, with EliteDaily saying, " All [the inventors] need is a little cash and we can kiss economic woes, pollution and a whole lot of car accidents goodbye forever."

Sounds great, right?  A little cash and we can kiss our economic woes, pollution and most car accidents goodbye!

But, sadly, the concept as pitched is simply awful. Why?

Let me count the ways.

To begin, solar panels are barely economic when set up perfectly. That involves orienting them properly to the south (for maximum sun exposure) and tilting them just so.

Lying flat on the ground, as they would in a roadway, will be much less efficient. So, strike one.

Next, solar panels perform exceptionally poorly when they're blocked in any way (by leaves, shadows, etc) and their performance degrades when covered with dirt, grime, or snow.  

If you've ever driven on a road,  you know that all sorts of occlusions  -- dirt, salt, grime, old mattresses lost from the roofs of inept self-movers -- are all part of the game. So if we did happen to install a solar roadway. we'd also be signing up for an extensive and permanent program of cleaning the roads, which is not a cost we currently bear. So, strike two.

Quite humorously, at the indigogo site where the hopeful inventors have taken the time to Photoshop their proposed product into a parade of exciting use cases,  one of their 'visions' includes an installation at perhaps the crummiest of solar sites they could pick, seeing as how it's in the woods and all:

Still, I give this Photoshop high marks for marketing appeal, because the idea of teaching your kid to ride their bike on a solar bike path is pretty catchy. 

But on the flipside, we have to wonder about the technical chops of the people involved who thought this was a reasonable way to demonstrate how their proposed product should be installed. Suffice it to say that if a solar company showed up at my house with this as an example of their work, I wouldn't hire them. More likely, I'd immediately check to see if their stock was publicly traded and short it if it was.

Next, their proposed product offering is a modular design, meaning the 'panels' come in little hexagon shapes which, in turn, means each of the panels is separate from those adjoining it. Water will get down between the border cracks, creating all sorts of roadbed erosion and ice-sponsored mischief, and that's just a recipe for disaster in most temperate climates where water falls regularly from the sky. For example, roadways here in New England where I live are constantly having to be patched and repaired due to water/ice dynamics, and that's a "seamless" surface compared to these panels.

Furthermore, such a modular design is flawed is because of poor load distribution.

What I mean by that is: imagine a very heavy truck tire contacting the front of one of these hexagons, then the middle, then the far side.  As it does so, it will press down the front of the hexagon and then the back. If there's even the slightest up and down motion to this process, over time a set of compaction grooves will set up and these panels will rattle about in their little convex placements. This will create a rough ride, and eventually end up tearing apart whatever electrical connections link them together.

So, for the failure to understand roadway design basics: Strike three.

One final reservation (out of many that remain) is that of cost. Thick tempered glass is not cheap to produce, but asphalt is. I don't know what these little hexagons will cost, but I am certain that on a per watt basis they will cost more than ordinary solar panels because of the additional design features required for them to support massive loads.

I also know that very thick glass is not as good as thinner glass for solar transmission, so the panels will generate less power per unit of area. Here we simply will note that whatever electricity is generated by a solar roadway will be less than a traditional solar panel installation.

Which simply means the cost per generated watt will be higher. My guess is a lot higher, possibly an order of magnitude.

Compared to asphalt, which is very cheap to produce and is the most intensively-recycled material on the planet (with a 99% recycle rate as old roadbeds are torn up, re-melted and reapplied), I can only imagine that these solar roadway panels will be vastly more expensive than asphalt.

And while that alone isn't a good reason to spike the project, given all the other problems noted above, it certainly doesn't help.

Conclusion

I think the vigor and intensity with which people donated to this project speaks mainly to the desire to find a quick fix to our self-destructive ways. Turning our roadways into a magical paths that will end our economic woes, eliminate pollution, and reduce accidents touches right down upon that particular nerve.

But the idea simply does not pass the common sense test.

Why would we spend more on a per watt basis to get less out of a roadway when we could simply put known and proven technology up on all the vacant rooftops?

If people aren't inspired by the current returns of solar on rooftops or in open fields, they are going to positively hate the returns from the solar roadways idea.  Poor orientation, shading, dirt, water and ice, wear and tear, and design considerations being driven by vehicle weight vs. maximizing solar gain are all going to erode this idea's final delivery compared to a traditional dedicated installation.

Instead of getting excited about a solar roadway, it's time to get serious about reducing our use of energy and putting what funds we have at our disposal into the myriad proven technologies that already exist and which can be implemented in known ways with calculable benefits.

Nowhere in this pitch for solar roadways that so many people have responded to is any science, economics or engineering for the viewer evaluate.  There is no guesstimate of cost, no evaluation of output per unit of area, no comparison to existing solar substitutes, and no tests of dirt/grime or other occlusions showing the effect on output.

In other words, nothing that any reasonable person might use to assess whether this is a worthwhile idea or not. 

From a marketing standpoint, though, I think they did fantastically. Solar FREAKIN' Roadways!!!

~ Chris Martenson

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37 Comments

Thetallestmanonearth's picture
Thetallestmanonearth
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 28 2013
Posts: 316
Brawndo the thirst mutilator!

I'm a little surprised this idea is getting airtime on PP.  It's so ridiculous that it would be funny if there weren't so many people taking it seriously.  Reminds me of Idiocracy.

My favorite picture is the one of a parking covered in this stuff that is then full of cars casting shade on fully half of the panels.  Brilliant!

It does kind of get my wheels spinning though.  If people are dumb enough to invest in something like this, maybe there is still time to get rich as the economy whines and moans under it's own weight.  All I need is the next bad idea and a compelling kickstarter video......

Kman's picture
Kman
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Posts: 72
Solar economics

Chris,

     As a solar contractor, I agree completely that the idea of solar roadways is a very long way off and this company is going to take advantage of a lot of ignorant investors.  However, I do not agree with your comment:

To begin, solar panels are barely economic when set up perfectly. That involves orienting them properly to the south (for maximum sun exposure) and tilting them just so

    In many US States this is true.  However, there are about a dozen or so States where solar is growing rapidly as the economics are very attractive.  We are currently installing systems on homes that result in power at around $.10/kWhr when averaged over 20 yrs (well within life of the system).  In Northern CA, the lowest rate for power is $.12/kWhr and it goes up to over $.34/kWhr.  That's todays prices.  In 20 years that will be a very different story.  So to be able to lock in power at $.10/kWhr is incredibly economic in my view.

    Shade and orientation are very important factors to maximize economics.  Fortunately, there are a lot of roof tops out there with good solar access.  We will avoid roads and walkways covered by trees and grime!

Kman

tburcher's picture
tburcher
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Posts: 2
Well, why not?

Well, good points all. I had thought about the snow, road weight and the replacement problems, the proponents of this project did address those.  Whether they're correct or not remains to be seen. Didn't really think about dirt and leaves, mostly those just get blown away or rained off on our current roads now anyway.  The cost factors (of the glass esp) and efficiency are a bit of a concern. The nanotech thin film materials being developed may eventually resolve some of that, they're cheap and collect sunlight from all directions.  They aren't as efficient as the silicon based, but they are far cheaper to produce  and sheer volume alone sucking in all that sunlight outweighs the lower efficiency lost. My biggest concern is that the glass is too slick to hold a tire when braking, and still adds a lot of cost to the project. Not sure how they would resolve that one.  Perhaps some other type of transparent surface can (and likely will be) developed.

Still, they are raising this money to explore the idea, not to implement it in a widespread manner just yet. It's crowd sourcing, not tax dollars, so it's not as though it's coming out of anyone's pocket by coercement.  Maybe the people donating the money are being naive, but I can't see how it will hurt to give it a try. Dumber ideas have been funded before, sometimes yielding solutions to unrelated problems. Many good solutions and products have been discovered that can be useful and profitable by studying something that might seem arcane, or even stupid, even if it's something that wasn't actually the aim of the study. You just don't know until you try.  It's better than sitting on our collective arses doing the same things over and over again that aren't working and hoping it'll get better or waiting for something better to come along.

kevinoman0221's picture
kevinoman0221
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Posts: 144
A good solar roadways debunking video

A good solar roadways debunking video:

gillbilly's picture
gillbilly
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Joined: Oct 22 2012
Posts: 423
Holy Freakin Meeses

I guess a moose is much more dramatic than a deer. I've seen a couple of moose in my lifetime. I've seen a gazillion deer, including the one I hit last fall. Thanks for the info. I'm glad you gave it some coverage so we can pass it along. I'm sure I'm not the only one who has had people send them the videos. I was pretty skeptical as it seems to have recently burst onto the media scene, but I'm also open to the question of "why not?"

Thank you

Poet's picture
Poet
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Posts: 1885
Solar Roadways: Some Numbers, And A Post By A Civil Engineer

Chris, good post. Here are links to discussions using dollar estimates, etc.:

Reddit DredMorbius: "Solar Roadways": either a scam or gross incompetence
http://www.reddit.com/r/dredmorbius/comments/26on7y/solar_roadways_either_a_scam_or_gross_incompetence/

Should we cover all our roads with solar panels?
"Back in 2010, the company assumed that a 12' by 12' glass panel would cost around $10,000. At this rate, covering all of our roads would cost $56 trillion — nearly 20 times the annual federal budget. Even on a smaller scale, these panels are at least 50 percent more expensive than regular roads, and possibly more."
http://www.vox.com/2014/5/14/5717036/should-we-cover-all-our-roads-with-solar-panels

Reddit Oppression: Professional Civil Engineer is banned from /r/renewableenergy and comments removed - all because he did not believe in solar roadways
"I'm a Civil Engineer by profession. I know how much roads cost, and how much these will cost (an immense amount), and how much energy they will create (very little, given that they will be heavily obscured by crap on and around the road). I also know that they will not make a satisfactory road material since they will not be strong enough and without high enough friction. Wear/tear on roadways will destroy these things as well. Several inches of the top of roads is worn away due to wear/tear alone. These are not effective in any way. The amount of energy you gain in no way makes up for the additional costs and hurdles that face these things, nor will they ever be. Duel purpose designs such as these rarely work. Putting solar cells on tops of roofs = great. Replacing windows with transparent solar cells = great. Putting solar cells underneath your tires = foolish."
http://www.reddit.com/r/Oppression/comments/266yni/professional_civil_engineer_is_banned_from/

Reddit AskEngineers: Solar Roadways. Is this affordable at such a big level? I'd like to know what experienced engineers think about this idea
"They are not viable in any meaningful way. Solar energy relies on optic transmittance through the glass/plastic in order to be efficient. When you factor in thick-textured plastic (expensive in its own right, their plastic isn't thick enough either), the extra infrastructure required (storage, frequent cleaning from grime on the road, frequent transformers/storage, etc), and many other extra costs, they are simply not viable. You also cannot rotate them, which limits their viability further since they would only be meaningfully efficiency during the noon hours.
"This invention solves no problem and creates additional ones. There is so much open space already available to put solar cells. In addition, there are so many other more-viable options that aren't even close to meeting their full potential.
"These cells would be so ridiculously expensive that they would probably never be paid off in full."

"Plus, for cars to have any appreciable grip on the plastic surface, it'd have to be very rough, which would probably be even less efficient at letting the light through."
http://www.reddit.com/r/AskEngineers/comments/265ocs/solar_roadways_is_this_affordable_at_such_a_big/chnw908

Poet

cmartenson's picture
cmartenson
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The perfect video

I am attempting to explain my logic out there in Facebook land to people who are taken with the idea.

For some reason, some of those efforts evoke this video (one of my favorites):

At the end of the FB conversations, I sometimes feel like saying, solar roadways.  Great idea.  Let's do that.

The point is, there are a hundred proven, cost effective, things we can do today where we know the risks and the benefits.  Why not start there?

Speaking of which, Kman said:

However, there are about a dozen or so States where solar is growing rapidly as the economics are very attractive.  We are currently installing systems on homes that result in power at around $.10/kWhr when averaged over 20 yrs (well within life of the system). 

I am wondering, is that $0.10/kwhr before or after tax breaks and subsidies?

If it's after breaks and subsidies, that means it's competitive in a dozen states with financial assistance.  

More broadly, my views on stating solar PV set-ups are barely economic stems from the study by Prieto and Hall which concluded that the EROEI for solar PV in Spain was only 2.45

This is the first time an estimate of Energy Returned on Energy Invested (EROI) of solar Photovoltaics (PV) has been based on real data from the sunniest European country, with accurate measures of generated energy from over 50,000 installations using several years of real-life data from optimized, efficient, multi-megawatt and well-oriented facilities. These large installations are far less expensive and more efficient than rooftop solar-PV.

Previous life cycle and energy payback time analyses used models — not years of data from real physical systems — that left out dozens of energy inputs, leading to overestimates of energy such as payback time of 1-2 years (Fthenakis), EROI 8.3 (Bankier), and EROI of 5.9 to 11.8 (Raugei et al).

Prieto and Hall added dozens of energy inputs missing from past solar PV analyses. Perhaps previous studies missed these inputs because their authors weren’t overseeing several large photovoltaic projects and signing every purchase order like author Pedro Prieto. Charles A. S. Hall is one of the foremost experts in the world on the calculation of EROI. Together they’re a formidable team with data, methodology, and expertise that will be hard to refute.

Prieto and Hall conclude that the EROI of solar photovoltaic is only 2.45, very low despite Spain’s ideal sunny climate. Germany’s EROI is probably 20 to 33% less (1.6 to 2), due to less sunlight and efficient rooftop installations.

(Source

One starting point for analyzing what the returns are going to be from an energy source is the EROI.  At 2.45 the solar installations in Spain say that these installations cannot be used to run the center mass of our human energy needs.  They can play a role, but perhaps not the central role as our societies across the globe are fashioned on EROI's of well over 10.

Knowing that optimized solar PV installations are already in the 2-3 EROI zone, I can only conclude that the solar roadways idea as presented is much worse off and may even be negative.  It might make economic sense especially if we subsidize it, but it probably won't pass the EROI energy test.

All of that said, I will be personally installing a 7kw PV system this year on my property.  It pencils out to about breakeven in 12 years given all the current incentives and, heck, who knows how much electricity will cost in the future?  If it goes up (as I am pretty certain it will) then the economics will only turn more strongly in favor of the system.

So this seems like as good a use for my money right now as any other I can think of.

Kman's picture
Kman
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Posts: 72
$.10/kWhr

Chris,

    The $.10/kWhr value I used is based on the 30% federal tax credit.  However, in CA, we used to also get rebates as high as $2.50/WAC.  Today those rebates are gone.  However, solar system costs have dropped significantly in that time, so much so that one buying solar today can get a better financial return than if they had 3 years ago with the full rebate.  The tax credit is planned to drop from 30% to 10% at the end of 2016.  Expectations are that solar costs will drop by about the much by then as well.  So the net cost to Joe homeowner will be similar to todays cost with incentives.

    I should also mention that the $.10/kWhr was based on a $4/WDC system over 20 yr lifespan.  Many systems are already in the low to mid $3/WDC range and good systems should last 25 to 30 years plus.  So the reality is that todays costs without the 30% tax credit can be better than $.10/kWhr.

   In PG&E territory (Northern CA), about 45% of power production comes from Natural Gas.  In addition, the infrastructure (gas and electric) is old.  So when natural gas prices return to norms (and go up from there) and all the needed infrastructure investments are considered, prices have the potential to rise significantly from here as for some odd reason PG&E likes to past these costs onto the consumer.  So $.10/kWhr will be an incredible bargain.

  Using conservative projections, we typically see payback for solar PV in 5-7 years.  Its often less than 5 years for small to mid sized commercial systems.  This is all local solar (roof top), not the solar farms.

  Congrats on finally taking the plunge to go solar (PV).  I think you will be very happy with your system quietly producing away for years to come.

Kman

davefairtex's picture
davefairtex
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"the expert" video

For me that was painful to watch.  Versions of this video happen in engineering all the time.  Sigh.

My fav: this dilbert cartoon:

http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/1994-02-20/

Regarding EROEI in Spain - with a fast-moving tech like PV, I'd be concerned that the measurements of EROEI is anchored to particular deployments made with tech from a specific point in time.  A 2005 system might have a 2-3 rating, but a 2015 system?  Perhaps it might be 5-6?  Still not a home run, but if you draw the curve, we know how those exponential charts work, and hopefully this time they're working in our favor.

That said, solar roadways seem like a dreadful idea.  Rooftops seem perfectly fine, and are already co-located with the actual power consumer, so there is no transmission loss.  Why do we want to fix something that doesn't seem to be broken?

Here's a solar power market analysis by a sell-side wall street analysis firm - worth reading:

http://reneweconomy.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Bernstein-solar.pdf

NZSailor's picture
NZSailor
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Posts: 60
Return on investment

Great discussion Chris... we put in about 7.5 kW of solar photovoltaic three years ago and being an engineer I dutifully record the power generated and power used every month for tabulation (along with solar hot water numbers and water use in general). 

As to costs... here in New Zealand there are no subsidies so its all on the consumer to pay.  When we installed the system the power company was paying for produced power exactly what they charged.  Six months ago they revised the agreement to a complicated generation sliding scale that works out to paying about half of what they charge along with tiered daily connection fees that muddies the equations further.  So much for rational multi-decade economic analysis when the game is rigged.  I'm beyond the "payback period" number crunching as I know who's winning in the game. 

We've got a battery backup system now and a genset beyond that so I'm considering just pulling the plug completely from the grid.  I sleep better knowing we can survive just fine if the grid goes down and like you my bet is that power is only going to get more expensive.  I can't definitively analyze my ROI but I do know I'm much happier with those dollars on my roof than in my bank.

Chip

Sterling Cornaby's picture
Sterling Cornaby
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Posts: 151
Big fan of conserving energy

Energy stuff makes me long winded...

I am OK with someone exploring solar roadways (I would not do it, for the same reasons outlined above) .  Many really good ideas are found on trails explored by "bad" ideas.  If someone believes in something strong enough to give it a try, and can find resources to do so (without government coercion or mismanagement; which is the bane of our society) then go for it.  Just like exploring thorium reactors in a previous article, I want to see people looking into our colossal energy problem.   

I agree with many that conservation of energy/water/sewage/food is high priority.  Making lots of energy to maintain our standard of living is not going to pan out well in the future.  When I think conservation of these things I think Earthships— An individualistic, and self-empowering solution to energy issues; building homes that take care of their own energy, water, and some food needs.  I went to an earthship ‘biotecture’ day long presentation by Michael Reynolds in Salt Lake City this spring --- it was beyond fascinating.  This guy has real solutions to provide people with their true basic needs, what people really really need energy wise in their homes.  There is some real wisdom here; from what I have seen earthships have matured enough to overcome most of the ‘bad ideas’ phase, these seem quite viable. ---some day in the near future I would like to rent one out for a night or two in New Mexico to see one in person.

Check out the documentary garbage warrior for the flavor. 

 

It’s a full movie; but if you have never seen it, it is well worth your time in my option.

This guy has figured out how to make ‘living’ homes that passively take care of heating, water, sewage and some food needs from what nature provides naturally to the home.  They need no inputs of utilities; these are independent cells (though I will admit some clams are over stated; but I am OK with that)   . --- This is completely counter culture and counter ‘normal business’. The ideas, even if not expressed in a “purest” form in an earthship are really pointing the directions we need to be heading in energy and water conservation the future.

Here are some quotes I wrote down from the talk, which I believe captures a bit of the essence of the entire day:

“We build homes that shed the water delivered right to a home by nature and discard it. And then we turn around and build multi-million dollar city wide utilities projects to bring water to that same home!” –Michael Reynolds

Small and simple things (such as earthships) can evolve fast.  Big stuff (like multi-million dollar utility projects) can't. –Michael Reynolds 

He is giving a smaller talk in Colorado June 14 for just 2 hours if you are interested (start of a 400 acre earthship community near Colorado springs), real soon!   One last thing; to give you some scale to the prices, you can build a basic one room 14’x14’  for ~$15k, with passive heating, water, shower toilet and enough solar for lights and a small fridge, but US building codes will not have it (he has been able to build a few in New Mexico and outside the US).  In  "pocket of freedom" areas in the US –meaning  you can get building permits--, you can build one at about 1500 sqft for roughly ~200k; includes all the bells and whistles that the government makes you add. 

 

I will add that I have seen some heating studies that these are at getting at about 55F (13 C) in the winter and 80 F (27 C) in the summer so take that for what it is.  They seem to work great in New Mexico; staying within 20 C to 25 C over winter to summer.  

I also wanted to highlight one book on ‘bigger scale’ energy issues. I bought a fascinating text book on energy and materials “Fundamentals of Materials of energy and Environmental Sustainability”, that I would suggest if you are into the nuts and bolts of what is going on in material science that are desired in our world, and to see what leading scientists are focused on. (Sideways note:  Materials define history---iron age, bronze age, silicon age; materials are worth our attention).  This is more on the ‘normal business’ side of the coin; we (the scientists) solve the problems, companies implement the solution and society pays for all it.  Being in this world I know too well that most stuff –though not all-- is hype that gets you the next grant; rinse and repeat.  Energy is a side show to the real business of the day of getting the next grant; it makes me sad. 

Also, Chris you beat me to the video “The Expert”.  A co-worker set it to me a month or so ago saying that it reminded him of me (I am the resident ‘expert’ in the company I work for).  Every time I see it I don’t know if I should laugh or cry…  

Taint Boil's picture
Taint Boil
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Absolutely ridiculous. Just

Absolutely ridiculous. Just the amount of energy used just to manufacture the “hunk” of glass would use more energy than the solar hexagon could ever produce in its entire lifetime.

Take into account of costs such as transportation, manufacturing, installing, sealant, man hours, infrastructure, on and on and on, it becomes even more ridiculous

The fact that they raised that amount of money shows how ignorant the sheeple are when it comes to the basic laws of physics - amazing.

kaimu's picture
kaimu
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Posts: 125
UNION BONANZA!

Aloha! Lets not forget the "real cost" to install these solar cells on our roads, which is "labor". Unless they create a machine to lay these solar tiles labor will be prohibitive, especially using the Congress mandated labor rates of Davis Bacon. Known fondly as "prevailing wages" a Class 2 Laborer in Honolulu makes $91k per year. A Class 2 Laborer is a ditch digger with no real skills. The labor costs only go up from there and based on the video it seems higher skilled electricians would have to install these tiles while the low skilled workers demo the existing roads and prep the new surfaces. If this solar roadway were ever foolishly implemented then the trade unions would gladly indebt our youth for the next three generations!

Lets consider that the US railroad system would have never been built in the 1800s if Mexcian and Chinese laborers were prohibited and railroad companies were forced to pay unions $91k per year for each laborer! The Golden Spike would have never happened at Promontory Summit, Utah in 1869! 

My own personal Hawaii experience with solar panels is the corrosion factor whereby the connections rust off and even though the panel is still good the connection isn't! I am told that the Korean manufactured panels far exceed the Chinese panels for corrosion resistance and durability.

Thanks to Kevin for the video! Whats next? Perhaps I should do a Indigogo for moon panels and hire my nephew to do the graphics!

LesPhelps's picture
LesPhelps
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PV Cost Benefit Analysis

cmartenson wrote:

All of that said, I will be personally installing a 7kw PV system this year on my property.  It pencils out to about breakeven in 12 years given all the current incentives and, heck, who knows how much electricity will cost in the future?  If it goes up (as I am pretty certain it will) then the economics will only turn more strongly in favor of the system.

Is there a good outline or template available online for doing a PV installation cost benefit analysis?  I could do one myself, but might miss something not obvious to a non engineer.

I live in Wisconsin which means 40% overcast days.  I've always assumed this rules out decent payback for PV setups.  However, current incentive programs may tip the scale.  

As Chris pointed out, my money in the bank is doing nothing useful at this point.  Might as well put some of it to work,if the payback is even remotely practical.

My concern with continuing to live in Wisconsin is not as much electricity as natural gas.  I could put in a backup generator system that runs off of natural gas to make my home safe from electricity blackouts.  Natural gas is another matter.  Our winters are too cold to survive if both electricity and natural gas stop flowing.  I haven't come up with a decent idea on how to heat my home in a worst case scenario.

cmartenson's picture
cmartenson
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Good Humor

davefairtex wrote:

For me that was painful to watch.  Versions of this video happen in engineering all the time.  Sigh.

My fav: this dilbert cartoon:

http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/1994-02-20/

Ha ha!  that's a good one!  Love Dilbert.

My favorite exchange from the Expert Video was:

Head sales guy:  "So what's preventing us from doing this?"

Engineer:  "Geometry"

+++++++++

On other matters, it's entirely possible that Spain has a lot of poorly designed and installed systems...they had a very aggressive feed in tariff program that basically anybody could make money by installing solar, anywhere and recoup money based on the kw installed, so there's a 100% probability that many systems were poorly sited, installed and maintained.

Poor incentives lead to poor outcomes.  That's as close to a human truth as you can find.

Which means the Fed's massive distortion of risk and the price of money will lead to what sorts of outcomes?

Gaborzol's picture
Gaborzol
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Mar 24 2008
Posts: 38
A great idea

I can hardly wait seeing all the cars and trucks gliding around after an oil spill, or even a few drops, on the smoot glass or plastic surface. Much more entertaining, than, say, installing solar panels on all the boring rooftops that are still empty everywhere in the US.

Why didn't *I* think of that. Well, I am still OK, I am planning on installing rotating solar panels this fall over Antarctica: 1/2 year of constant sun, and remember the sun looks larger when it is close to the horizon! I just don't know where to find a fast ship to transport the panels for reinstallation on the ice (while we have it) around the north pole sometime around spring equinox. Any leads, anyone?

But aside all the sarcasm I do think they did superb on marketing, exactly because the idea is impractical, thus it had a chance to be 'new'.

davefairtex's picture
davefairtex
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 3 2008
Posts: 4361
california costs to install

Here's a website from ca.gov that shows random solar facts, including average cost to install: $5.6/watt.

http://www.californiasolarstatistics.ca.gov/

Your Tax Dollars At Work.

At $5.6/watt, costs to install a 2.4 kw system is about $13.5k w/o incentives, and it generates $720/year in electricity, that's a 5.3% return on investment per year, for the next 25 years.  Try getting that at a bank.  Oh yeah, that's a tax-free ROI too.

I don't see a downside.

Now we need access to all that cheap credit provided by the Fed, so we can borrow at 0.25%.  Install solar on 10 million rooftops, and then sit back and collect the spread between 0.25% and 5.3%...

RoseHip's picture
RoseHip
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 5 2013
Posts: 144
The wild animals are wiser than we

There is a saying that this discussion has brought to my mind. Robert Oppenheimer once said "it is perfectly obvious that the whole world is going to hell. The only chance that it's not is if we don't prevent it from doing so." So all those well intended souls and ideas like Guy McPherson's and solar roadways are scary to us cause they are the kind of person or idea that would push the NUKE button just to get rid of all the others that would push it first. They are birthed from the perspective to keep things in order or prevent this or that. However the more we exercise this reality conversion technique, the quicker we will realize the exact thing we are trying to avoid.

Rose 

jaredboice's picture
jaredboice
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Posts: 1
Way to take a dump on a promising idea fellas

Way to take a dump on a promising idea fellas.  It's not that I don't agree with some of the points that were made, but seriously how about trying to look at it from an optimistic viewpoint.  Instead of thinking of ways that the project could fail and therefore isn't worth troubleshooting, how about thinking in terms of problems that need solving.  I see a lot of "Why don't we just put Solar Panels on rooftops?"  Yeah, I agree.  Why don't we?  But that doesn't mean we should altogether abandon Solar Roadway concepts altogether.  I don't think we would have to do one or the other.

(1) "solar panels are barely economic when set up perfectly. That involves orienting them properly to the south (for maximum sun exposure) and tilting them just so."

The first part of this point has already been addressed above by Kman.  In addition, I don't think the point of the Solar Roadways is to produce more efficient energy than other Solar forms such as rooftops (which we can still do).  I think the point is that this idea that is worth exploring ties together multiple industries in one, not the least of which is making powerlines obsolete which solves numerous problems and issues that our society needs to maintain and address daily.  And instead of having concrete roads that just sit there, these would perform a function on top of being used to be driven on while also providing a place for electrical/network wiring.  

(2) "...solar panels perform exceptionally poorly when they're blocked in any way (by leaves, shadows, etc) and their performance degrades when covered with dirt, grime, or snow."

Thankyou Captain Obvious.  There's going to be cars driving across these panels!  It's not like these panels would be expected to be getting 100% of the sun anyway.  Plus, surely the money that we're already spending on powerline maintenance and Snow Blowers could be diverted to finding a solution to debris.  What about some kind of built-in automated vauccum system (where gutters would be?) that detects such objects and sucks/pulls them away to the side when there's no traffic?  I don't know, I'm just thinking out loud.  Maybe that's a dumb idea.  Certainly an engineer could come up with something cost effective.  We already have Google Cars on the way that drive themselves, how about an automated Car/Bus system that has a vaccuum system on its under carriage specifically for this purpose!? Hell, it could serve more than one purpose!  It could also be a means of FREE Public Transportation!!  We could also have "Citizen Highway Cleaning" programs where people can be rewarded for spending a couple hours a week for cleaning up a part of the highway close to their home or office. These ideas may seem expensive but we're already paying to have these roads repaved and powerlines maintained and snow cleaned off.  On top of all of it we're paying massive amounts of our paychecks to unsustainable dirty energy that is manipulated daily by the likes of JP Morgan, plus the cost of having to fill up our gas tanks weekly (some daily) which everybody already knows the cost of, not to mention the hidden costs of Multi Trillion dollar wars for oil resources in the middle east plus the hidden cost of our lives!  So in the grand scheme of things, once we're closer to society driving mostly electric cars and using more and more alternative energy sources, we're talking like $300 a person per month no longer needed for that, plus the labor force and materials needed for creating traditional energy sources would be freed up for the market.  And if we're really so concerned with issues of shade obstructing the sun, how about we start with roads or sidewalks that have no trees over them and see what kind of progress we can make from that starting point??

(3) "This will create a rough ride, and eventually end up tearing apart whatever electrical connections link them together."

I don't think we can say this with absolute certainty.  And even if we could, it's not like bright minds couldn't brainstorm to find a solution.

(4) "Thick tempered glass is not cheap to produce, "

Advancements in nanotech could very well remove this barrier within several years time.

All in all A+ for coming up with problems that will likley need to be solved.  F- for addressing them pessimistically as if we absolutely cannot find cost effective solutions for them.  Maybe I'm wrong.  Maybe these guys are just out to steal everyone's money for a completely bad idea.  But I think it's too early to say that. 

dcm's picture
dcm
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 14 2009
Posts: 137
sunburn

Chris and Kman's debate remind me of a couple of energy realities. Our society, whether we want to our not, is rapidly moving from stored solar energy to current. There's a big difference between the two. Problem is, stored solar took millions of years to create and we've burned through quite a bit in a hundred. No surprise then that it produced both massive dependency problems and massive environmental catastrophe.

Solar is the energy source for all life on earth. Unlike stored carbon forms, the last time I checked, this one will go on for a billion years and doesn't seem to poison life forms...or politicians. Passive solar, intelligent design, and insulation are not only desperately needed, but have been used by mankind for a long long time. They work and they give very good return. Regulate homes and buildings to have unobstructed southern views and deep, thick insulation. This can all be done on abundant, cheap materials. 

Food is our most pressing problem. We must shift our food production and delivery system from stored to current solar. Funny thing there, if you remove the petroleum, GMOs, pesticides, monocrops and poisons, it actually IS efficient. Permaculture demonstrates over and over that mother nature has been at it a little longer than us, and like a HEALTHY economy, actually works on an unrivaled system of check and ballance....  

cmartenson's picture
cmartenson
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Jun 7 2007
Posts: 5145
My expected solar returns

davefairtex wrote:

At $5.6/watt, costs to install a 2.4 kw system is about $13.5k w/o incentives, and it generates $720/year in electricity, that's a 5.3% return on investment per year, for the next 25 years.  Try getting that at a bank.  Oh yeah, that's a tax-free ROI too.

My expected returns are about in that ballpark.

We only have 3.8 hours per day of insolation (averaged across year) here in MA, so my returns are worse than places where you can count on 6, but here's what I get.  Also, I held the current cost of electricity constant.

5.1% is the expected rate of annual return without incentives.

7.3% is the expected rate of annual return with current incentives.

In this environment, those are pretty good returns.

Sterling Cornaby's picture
Sterling Cornaby
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 6 2012
Posts: 151
dcm, I strongly agree

I really agree with you that we will be going back to 'current' solar energy, it is the trend for our future.  Also I strongly agree with you that 'local food' is one of the most urgent pressing big keys to our energy issues.  Permaculture is a word I didn't even really know much about even just a few months ago; that changing for me.  Personally all my other 'energy' thoughts, ideas, and projects have taken second stage to my gardening efforts over the last year and a half (the time I committed to myself to change things I can control).  Once I have my local yard food system built to a higher level, I will go on to some other energy issues i can control, like solar panels on a roof.     

Kman's picture
Kman
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Joined: Jan 19 2009
Posts: 72
15% ROI in Ca

In CA, where solar has been around for some time and there are a lot of solar contractors, cash prices are going to be less than $4/W DC in most cases.  Premium panels, Enphase micro-inverters (love them) and ground mount systems will add to that cost.  We would make a fortune if we could charge $5.60/W DC, but competition has a funny way of not making that work out very well.

We generally do not install systems smaller than 3 kW DC and typical are closer to 5-6 kW.  Under 3 KW the economics are tougher as the fixed costs (design, permit fees, monitoring, mobilization) drive the price/W up.  Those who chose systems less than 3 kW in CA are generally motivated by doing the green thing and not economics.  The reality is that 98% of customers go solar for economics, going green is a side benefit.

Another big plus in CA are the net metering laws that allow production that is sent back to the grid to be credited at retail rates.  This recently has been grandfathered for 20 years.  Many customers elect to use time of use rates.  This means that during peak hours (1-7 pm) rates are much higher than rest of the day.  The solar system produces a lot of power during this time.  So this often enables systems sized to offset 70% of annual kwhr usage to reduce the electric bill by almost 100% (there are meter fees that can not be offset).

So, in CA typical cash solar systems will see 15% ROI in the first year.  Following years see improved ROI if assume the next 20 years are like the last 20 yrs that saw PG&E rates rise on average by 6%/yr.

As a side note, I would say that about 5% of our customers are open to the concepts of the crash course and its pretty clear who they are up front.  The other 95% are the typical population and unfortunately if brought up the crash course would probably cost us deals.  So we do our best to install as much solar as we can using the last 20 years as the guide since that is what customers are comfortable with.

Kman

dpaull's picture
dpaull
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Nov 11 2009
Posts: 21
I've got 9 years on my rooftop solar panels

A few comments.

I use time of use and annual billing tariffs for my PG&E supplied electricity. I have only a 2.5 KW system and this supplies all the electricity my wife and I need based on net costs. My panels face west because I want afternoon sun to maximize the value of my generated power. I generate power during the high cost part of the day and use power during the low cost part of the day. I live on the foggy central California coast, far from the sunny desert.

As noted  above, PG&E is trying to change the tariff structure and if they succeed, I may find the economics changed. Currently (pun intended) I pay only the $6 per month connection fee. My electric bill is running about $-100 per year. PG&E doesn't pay me the $100 so they should be happy having me as a customer.

I have installed several energy saving devices such as LED lights, skylights, etc.

My wife and I do drive but not so much since we are both retired. I would like to have an all electric car but due to my age it probably won't happen.

On that topic, however, I would like to recommend looking into PRT, Personal Rapid Transit. It fits nicely into the Solar Roadway topic. The idea is to provide public transportation using 2 to 4 seat electric vehicles running on an elevated track, computer controlled to allow for close separation when needed and parked when not needed. The tracks could be located such that most folks in urban / suburban areas have a station within one half mile of their homes.

The track could have solar panels overhead to supply all or most of the power needed for the cars, so transmission losses could be minimized. Test tracks have been built to test the concepts but there is a big blowback from the auto industry, as expected. This concept is an example of what could be done if energy efficiency were to become a critical issue. The idea has been around for several decades but it does step on a few toes and has not been tried on a citywide basis. Every new idea has drawbacks and needs to be thoroughly tested and improved upon.

Dennis Paull

KeithM1116's picture
KeithM1116
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 10 2012
Posts: 77
Dilbert

Dave

One of my favorite Dilberts as well!  I was designing cellular handsets for Motorola in 1994 when this came out, and it instantly showed up in about every engineer's office, as it seemed to represent our typical conversation with marketing (especially the telepathic human interface detail)!

But, back to the SOLAR FREAKIN ROADWAYS, I wonder if part of the explanation for the extensive crowd funding response is just another indication of how investors are getting desperate to find ANYTHING that might give them a return on their money these days.

Best,

Keith

cmartenson's picture
cmartenson
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Jun 7 2007
Posts: 5145
It's about hope....

KeithM1116 wrote:

But, back to the SOLAR FREAKIN ROADWAYS, I wonder if part of the explanation for the extensive crowd funding response is just another indication of how investors are getting desperate to find ANYTHING that might give them a return on their money these days.

Keith, I take it more as an indication that people are looking for something to be hopeful about and a technological miracle is usually at the top of the list.

Note that the solar roadways is a crowdfunding effort so returns are not even part of the game.  People donated and that's that.

I see in the defender's list of complaints about pointing out the realities of the project very little in the way of actual, well thought out factual counterclaims.

Many simply say, this is a great idea and I like it and I don't like that you are raining on it!

Fair enough, because I tend not to give much leeway to sloppy ideas and I could be more sensitive to the fact that people are growing desperate for solutions about which they can feel good, or at least better.  But I do feel that false hope is more harmful than helpful.

And it's true that a lot of working things today began as somebody's whacky idea, but some ideas just should not be combined, like flying submarines or combo freezer grills.

Roads and solar are another such combination and I really find it troubling that so many people have been taken with 'brilliance' of this concept.  That this is just an inane mash-ups of ideas seems so obvious to me, and now I wonder how the less obvious predicaments we face can be effectively communicated and promoted?  It's troubling really.

Bill James's picture
Bill James
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Joined: May 5 2010
Posts: 1
JPods: Solar Powered Mobility in Secaucus and Linyi

Moving a ton to move a person on highways is the problem. The defect is the highway network.

JPods networks suspend 500 pound vehicles from overhead rails. Removing the parasitic mass of the vehicle and the repetitive start-stop of highway traffic cuts energy requirements by 90%, converts 90% of highly repetitive urban transport costs to profits/competitive advantage.

Solar collectors mounted over the rails gather mover than 25,000 vehicle-miles of power per mile per day. The 10x transport benefits are combined with the 6x Net Energy of solar over oil as transport fuel (20:1 for solar versus 3:1 for fracked/sand).

http://vimeo.com/87069041

Secaucus, NJ and Linyi, China are moving forward to build JPods networks in 2014.

Norascats's picture
Norascats
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Posts: 1
Present objections to an idea of the future.

Almost all the objections to solar energy take the same position. At current levels of efficiency, they are not really cost effective. Apply that to the 1990 personal computer, or mobile phone and you see that it is not a valid objection.

True, my home is not a good candidate for the current panels. My home's structure is not strong enough for the weight of today's panels, and I would have to ge rid of the trees that currently serve to cool the house. I have seen plastic cloth photovoltaic units. There is much out there that will improve quickly once it gets going.

Back to the roads, What if we started with driveways and parking lots? How about sidewalks? How about smaller applications leading to larger?

I believe in solar. I believe in the energy independence it offers. I believe that much of the objection is big corporate power resisting the potential for independence that solar promises. Next time you think of how impossible it is, look at your cell phone. That was impossible in the 80's.

cmartenson's picture
cmartenson
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Jun 7 2007
Posts: 5145
Impractical vs. impossible

Norascats wrote:

Almost all the objections to solar energy take the same position. At current levels of efficiency, they are not really cost effective. Apply that to the 1990 personal computer, or mobile phone and you see that it is not a valid objection.

True, my home is not a good candidate for the current panels. My home's structure is not strong enough for the weight of today's panels, and I would have to ge rid of the trees that currently serve to cool the house. I have seen plastic cloth photovoltaic units. There is much out there that will improve quickly once it gets going.

Back to the roads, What if we started with driveways and parking lots? How about sidewalks? How about smaller applications leading to larger?

I believe in solar. I believe in the energy independence it offers. I believe that much of the objection is big corporate power resisting the potential for independence that solar promises. Next time you think of how impossible it is, look at your cell phone. That was impossible in the 80's.

Nora, thank you for making the point about the difference between impractical and impossible.  I never said that solar roadways were impossible, only that they are very impractical.

As you noted, your own house is an impractical location for solar panels, but it's not impossible.  You could put them on your land, not cut any trees, and receive a perfectly horrid return for your efforts.  

The same would be true for roadways for all of the reasons I laid out.  If you want to debate those, on their merits, I am all ears.  Do you have a solution for the poor orientation issue?   How about the thick glass being a lousy transmitter of photons?  What about glass being actually quite soft and that it would wear down quickly and become cloudy (like the surface of sea glass) due to the grinding effects of heavy tires, feet etc coupled with grit?  Or how about the most important one which is that such roadways will be massively more expensive than either traditional roads or conventional solar?

However, to say that such questions are just naysaying, or that somebody will figure all that out, is simply avoiding the dialog.  

I know bad ideas when I hear them and solar roadways is a very bad idea.  There are many reasons why even beyond the ones I've mentioned.  

But it's not impossible.  We could build them, but would you support an enormous tax increase to pay for their installation and maintenance?  If not, how do you propose to pay for them?

Not every idea is a good one, and solar roadways really needed to be vetted by some experienced engineers before it even got this far.   It's horribly impractical, but I will concede it's not impossible.

If we cannot expose bad ideas without somehow raining on the whole solar parade, then we're not going to get anywhere quickly and I don't think we have the luxury of handing out trophies to all participants.  

The essence of good business is knowing when you've got a losing proposition on your hands and dumping it quickly.  Learn fast and move on.

I, for one, would not invest a penny with this company, nor would I front you the money the put solar at your location for a cut of the revenue stream.  Impractical is impractical.  Luckily there are a lot of very interesting ideas out there that are very good and make sense.  That's where we should be putting our efforts.

davefairtex's picture
davefairtex
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 3 2008
Posts: 4361
solar roadways and moore's law

I believe in solar. I believe in the energy independence it offers. I believe that much of the objection is big corporate power resisting the potential for independence that solar promises. Next time you think of how impossible it is, look at your cell phone. That was impossible in the 80's.

We have roads.  We want to replace them with panels that generate electricity.  Will the panels be cheaper than the roads are today when the electricity generated is factored in?  If so, panels might have a chance.

It would surprise me if asphalt ends up being more expensive than a roadway panel.  In some sense, it boils down to price - like with everything.  After all, we need oil, Jupiter's moon Titan has a lot of it, why not just send a spacecraft to go and fetch it back to earth?  Duh.  Go to where the oil is!

Ah right.  Cost of spaceship + transport exceeds the benefit from the oil retrieved.  One billion dolllars a barrel is oil that really is just too expensive.

My gut tells me, roadways won't fly economically with our current materials.  Roadway panels are likely to be - and remain - substantially more expensive than asphalt, even assuming they are made durable enough to survive, since I don't think they will be able to generate enough electricity to make up for their higher cost.  And - moore's law won't help solve that issue.

It all boils down to EROEI, and what sort of problem we're facing.

The power of your phone is all about moore's law.  If automobile development & engineering physics were subject to moore's law, we'd be driving around at a million miles an hour.  Of course, they aren't - and we're driving at much the same speed we have been for the past 90 years, even with our fancy new phones.

Is a roadway panel more like a car problem, or a CPU/phone problem?  If its like a phone, and it just needs a smaller and faster CPU, then moore's law will help you out and your logic applies.  Unfortunately, I think its more like the car problem, where moore's doubling effect doesn't apply.

Wildlife Tracker's picture
Wildlife Tracker
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Jan 14 2012
Posts: 403
Solar Roadways Makes the Boston Sunday Globe

http://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2014/06/13/investors-see-bright-futu...

I guess people will have to try this to realize how dumb it is...

Andy_in_Hawick's picture
Andy_in_Hawick
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 6 2009
Posts: 6
PV costs without subsidies

Here in UK, we are looking at £1 per Watt installed for larger systems (£1.40 for domestic-sized installations). Across the country we get between 800 and 1200 hours equivalent per year, ie, about 1kWh/y per installed Watt. If the installation lasts about 20 years, that is approx 5p per kWh without factoring in any subsidies or sales. That is cheaper than most of the electricity tariffs available. (Standard domestic tariffs are three times this at the moment and rising every year.)

(Even factoring in complexities like performance degradation and inverter replacement still gives a reasonable price per kWh.)

The EROEI calculations are important but my understanding is that these are improving due to the scale of manufacturing mainly.

For your own system, 12 years payback (which is longer than we typically calculate here in UK with current subsidies) means 8% ROI, which is better all but the riskiest of investments and well worth doing on so many levels.

KeithM1116's picture
KeithM1116
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 10 2012
Posts: 77
Troubling

Chris

I agree that this whole lack of critical thinking, or the ability to logically analyze the viability of basic concepts in our current society is very troubling. I think this Solar Roadways example is just a case in point.  I blame our educational systems that don't seem to be generating adults that can analyze and apply logic to issues, and the popular media.  What passes for "investigative journalism" these days typically amounts to writers that take a company's press release, or a politician's statement and just regurgitate, oftentimes with such a high extent of plagiarism that our old high school rhetoric teachers would have given us all zeroes if we handed in such an assignment.

I remember when I was young that every time my father got in a conversation with his friends they typically attacked "all the world's problems" on a very analytical and in depth basis.  And my dad was a farmer that never graduated from high school.  BUT, he read the newspapers and magazines at the time and was SO much better informed that most of our society these days.

I don't know what it will take to change this.  Perhaps as more people search the internet for informational sites such as this will help us, but I'm really afraid that students are not being infused with the desire or ability to do such investigations, and to reason out their positions on their own.

And this is what I find to be extremely troubling.

Bill Kerney's picture
Bill Kerney
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Jun 20 2014
Posts: 2
drop in fuel use and going 100% renewable free energy in 5 years

Article I wrote:

http://www.manufacturing.net/blogs/2013/08/engineering-american-energy-i...

Do Fischer-Tropsch in Mexico.  Coal from Kentucky and Alaska. Finance by state initatives rather than national policy.  So a tiny handful of people can set energy policy.  Create our gasoline and diesel in Mexico outside US law suits and control

We can drive down the cost of energy to close to zero so that the value of the dollar shoots through the roof.  Social media means we can write out own laws at the state level at next to no cost.

Space based solar is super easy and launch cost goes to zero using railgun technology developed for the US Navy.  Engineering already done to use railguns for space launchers.

http://research.lifeboat.com/ieee.em.pdf

Engineering has been done on space based solar.

http://www.nrl.navy.mil/media/news-releases/2014/solar-power-when-its-ra...

Ideal solar panel material is graphene.  One pound creates 500 football fields of solar collectors - multiple electrons per photon.

Bring water to Mexico as well.  Build up middle class there and destroy frug cartels.

Here’s a summary of the key points I want to make if I can meet Raul Labrador:



1. have America become energy independent via action at the state level by initiative

 overview of the science

http://www.manufacturing.net/blogs/2013/08/engineering-american-energy-independence



2.  Solve the drought in the SW USA

    water + coal slurry processed in FT plants in Mexico, Central Valley farmers to spearhead political action



3. Defeat the EPA in their war on coal

   barge coal and water slurry from Kentucky down the Ohio and Mississippi to FT plants in Mexico, finance by state initiative



4. Solve the immigration

   create a jobs magnet in Mexico for very high paying middle class jobs, illegal alien Mexicans who vote Democrat return home 

   to better jobs there than the have in the USA.  They prefer their culture to ours.



5.  Solve the problem of flow of drugs into America over our southern border

    a strong middle class in Mexico means they won’t look to the danger of the drug trade for income, bring in former Navy

    Seals to provide security and overpower the drug cartels ability to wage terrorism on the culture,  Last Battle of the Old West - 

    Magnificent Seven



6. Create a combination research centers, golf course retirement communities and water efficient farms all over Northern Mexico 

   and all of Baja California - water and energy enabling the process.  Central valley farmers supplying the know-how on farming



Water and energy powers all of this.



This is enough fresh water in NW Canada and Alaska flowing into the ocean every second to irrigate 37 states in the USA and all of Mexico.  Pipelines are subject to lawsuit.  So we barge the water coal combination to Mexico so we are outside the lawsuits.  The FT process produces drop-in fuels of diesel and gasoline as well as electricity.  The CO2 can be dealt with in a number of methods.



We also want to offer crowd-funding at the pump (pumps have digital options) as an option so that greens can finance renewable alternatives. 



Gasoline moves to $1.99/gallon for the next 500 years or until displaced altogether by renewables.

DrTech's picture
DrTech
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Jun 29 2014
Posts: 1
Inspiration to start a new business

Seeing this many gullible people investing so heavily in bad ideas has made me decide to start a new business of my own.  I am going to offer an online email and file shredding and recycling service.  If you have confidential emails or files you want destroyed, just forward them to me with payment of $1 per megabyte and I will not only destroy them using the latest software but I will email you a certificate showing that 100% of the bits were recycled :)

SPAM_Mary Fosaas's picture
SPAM_Mary Fosaas
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 14 2014
Posts: 1
In my area, power produced

In my area, power produced through the sun will be very ideal. Well I am speaking of a simple home in a tropical country. However, the costs really is not that practical. So even if we opt to go for Solar, we still have challenges to face.

jasonw's picture
jasonw
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 17 2011
Posts: 1017
$3.7 M for 230' of Solar bike path!

A little update on the first "major" installation of Solar FREAKIN' Roadways!!!

Get those darn kids off the solar bike lane! They're blocking the sun! They're standing on US$ 3.7 million of photovoltaics and precast concrete bike lane, running all of 230 feet, that's going to generate enough energy to supply enough electricity for three houses!

solaroad-installaton.jpg.650x0_q85_crop-

© Solaroad via twitter

Now I don't want to rain on anyone's bicycle parade, but all of the complaints that we had with Scott Brusaw's solar roadway project apply here in spades. The Solaroad people, who built this bike lane in Krommenie, near Amsterdam, admit that because of the angle (lying almost flat), these solar panels will only generate 30% of what a conventional roof mounted panel would produces.

http://www.treehugger.com/solar-technology/solaroad-opens-first-solar-bike-path.html

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