A Big Problem WIth Thinking That Solar Is An Effective Means to Energy Independence.

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A Big Problem WIth Thinking That Solar Is An Effective Means to Energy Independence.

So, let's examine this, shall we? 

Per wikipedia, annual US electricity consumption in 2013 was 4.7 billion MW-hrs.

 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_electricity_consumption

From professional experience (I am an engineer and physicist, doing research in power management) I can also assume the following 

Average effective area of a solar panel: 1.6 m

Average Effective Full Output  Hours Sunlight Per Day over the USA: 4.5 

Typical power output of a 1.6 m panel ~ 240-250 W.

Thickness of the silver paste layer in a photovoltaic cell: 700-750 um

Density of Silver: ~ 10.5 grams/cm-cubed

From the above we can calculate the following. 

Replacing just x% of the US electrical consumption, assuming 240 watt panels, 1.6 m-sq, at 4-5 hours equivalent full sun per day  would require the following quantities of silver:
 
Percent USA Electricity Usage Replaced by Solar.  Millions of Troy Oz Silver Required to Replace x% of Electrical Consumption with Solar Percent of 2010 Total Silver Production (per the Silver Institute)
1%  75.52  7.1%
5%  377.58  35.3%
10%  755.16  70.6%
20%  1,510.32  141.2%
50%  3,775.80  352.9%
 
The silver quantity is derived from the known thickness required for the silver paste layer of solar panels.
 
It turns out to be about 20 grams per panel, or 20 grams per 240 watts of power. 
 
Now, there has been a thrust to try to find ways to reduce the content in silver (which is contradictory to efficiency, as silver, it is THEE base element with the highest electrical conductivity and reflectivity, both critical for efficiency), particularly with materials called photovoltaic metalization pastes, which reduce by a nominal fraction the amount of silver needed, but this has been an exercise in nipping at the edges. It does not seem to promise a quantum leap from what I see. What would be needed is a yet to be discovered, economically affordable composite material with super high conductivity and low manufacturing costs (if that were easy it would already be in consumer electronics as heat from power losses and parasitic power losses on battery life are already a super potent incentive to discover it, yet it does not exist). Now I know a lot of folks place their faith in "Don't worry, Science Will Figure It Out" school of thought, but please, don't. That is escapist thinking and is not at all a logical approach to addressing this problem, or any problem for that matter. Like I said, I am involved in power management R&D and very familiar with this kind of stuff, and while definitely optimistic about great improvements, I at not at all convinced that "The Big Happy Magical Rainbow of Science Will Save Us" applies here.  Science rarely succeeds in saving us to the degree that people hope it will (well, I take that back, it can and does, but usually over more than one lifetime, most folks don't realize that the big breakthroughs are the culmination of decades of building block research on issues that would bore the average Joe to death, and yes,  while the rate of breakthroughs is increasing, the magnitude and complexity of the problems are too). A good figure of merit for the near to intermediate future is that 20 gram number falls to 15 grams, maybe 10.  Whoop-dee-doo! Doesn't address the issue. 
 
To power just 20% of US electricity, we’d have to procure 1.5 years worth of peak global silver production. 50% is 3.5 peak production years worth. That's a problem. Particularly since silver is called a precious metal for a reason, and that those numbers would put explosive upward pressure on the metal's cost, and, once we commit to this, what do you think other nations will start doing?
 
Solar photovoltaics are not a panacea. From a national energy policy perspective, we might want to consider molten salt solar thermal as a more viable alternative. But that has its issues too. Another time perhaps.....

 

 

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Correction. The electricity

Correction. The electricity numbers are based on 2012. 

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I'm missing something here

I'm missing something here ... to me it seems like these numbers are comparing apples and oranges.

The "Electricity Usage Replaced by Solar" would be an ongoing saving, whereas the silver needed to manufacture a solar panel would be a one-time requirement.

Using one of your stats as an example (5% replacement requiring 35.3% of annual silver production), if we used roughly one/third of annual silver production to achieve a ~5% reduction, and kept doing that, we could reach 50% replacement within a dozen years or thereabouts. That would obviously be a huge undertaking but not so impossible as your numbers seem to suggest at first look.

Do solar panels wear out? How often would they need to be replaced? That would need to be accounted for and might might change the projections a little or a lot.

I suspect that battery storage (or whatever) would be at least as big an obstacle as photovoltaic solar panels.

We should examine the assumption that rooftop solar setups would only be about generating electricity. Using solar to heat or preheat water could do a lot to reduce electricity usage for many households without requiring such high-tech inputs as photovoltaics would need. Water heat obviously wouldn't feed back into the grid, but it could certainly help to make an individual household more self-sufficient.

I'm no expert, just someone with a lot of questions.

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Yoxa wrote:I'm missing
Yoxa wrote:

I'm missing something here ... to me it seems like these numbers are comparing apples and oranges. The "Electricity Usage Replaced by Solar" would be an ongoing saving, whereas the silver needed to manufacture a solar panel would be a one-time requirement. Using one of your stats as an example (5% replacement requiring 35.3% of annual silver production), if we used roughly one/third of annual silver production to achieve a ~5% reduction, and kept doing that, we could reach 50% replacement within a dozen years or thereabouts. That would obviously be a huge undertaking but not so impossible as your numbers seem to suggest at first look. Do solar panels wear out? How often would they need to be replaced? That would need to be accounted for and might might change the projections a little or a lot. I suspect that battery storage (or whatever) would be at least as big an obstacle as photovoltaic solar panels. We should examine the assumption that rooftop solar setups would only be about generating electricity. Using solar to heat or preheat water could do a lot to reduce electricity usage for many households without requiring such high-tech inputs as photovoltaic would need. Water heat obviously wouldn't feed back into the grid, but it could certainly help to make an individual household more self-sufficient. I'm no expert, just someone with a lot of questions.

Questions are good. It means that you read my post and that made it worth writing already!

Using 1/3 of annual production is not a triviality. Given what we know from the Crash Course, and given what I know of silver deposits and reserves, and given a 35% increase in demand on the market, you would wind up with a positive feedback cost cycle based on skyrocketing demand coupled with finite and dwindling supply. You initiate a series of large buys in a very volatile and finite commodity, and what will result is a skyrocket in silver prices. Worse, our energy independence policy would likely spur other developed nations to get off the fence, thus also jumping into the market to attain silver for energy independence thus further driving up prices. On top of that reserves are dwindling, and since price is a function of both supply and demand, you will wind up with a second order price acceleration which then pushes silver parabolic, and hence the push the cost of solar energy parabolic. It's simple exponential mathematics. Look at it that way. Now keep buying up 35% of a limited resource annually, wash, rinse, repeat, and see where that goes. Nope, I still think molten salt solar reactors are the better approach for an ultra large scale project. 

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Quote: It turns out to be
Quote:

It turns out to be about 20 grams per panel, or 20 grams per 240 watts of power.

I'm visualizing that quantity; it's less than the silver in one of my grandmother's sterling teaspoons.

Quote:

molten salt solar reactors are the better approach for an ultra large scale project

That might well be true for ultra large projects, but wouldn't a big part of the reduced vulnerability concept here be to have lots of small, decentralized power sources?

Remember good ol' conservation and waste reduction. How much of that 4.7 billion MW-hrs was used less efficiently than it could have been?

Back to one of my earlier questions? Do solar panels (photovoltaic) wear out?

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If solar panels wear out and

If solar panels wear out and silver is a much sought metal there will be a way to recycle 100% of the silver in the panels. Building more than 1% per year in solar panels is utopia we do not have the production capacity. 

For me it is imperative that we go decentralized. This is the only way to get energy independence for common people and even nations. Let's be frank. If energy generation where more decentralized we would already be much further on the way of energy independence because there would be no reason to hamper the transition for personal financial benefit. 

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Yoxa wrote:Quote: It turns
Yoxa wrote:
Quote:

It turns out to be about 20 grams per panel, or 20 grams per 240 watts of power.

I'm visualizing that quantity; it's less than the silver in one of my grandmother's sterling teaspoons.

Quote:

molten salt solar reactors are the better approach for an ultra large scale project

That might well be true for ultra large projects, but wouldn't a big part of the reduced vulnerability concept here be to have lots of small, decentralized power sources? Remember good ol' conservation and waste reduction. How much of that 4.7 billion MW-hrs was used less efficiently than it could have been? Back to one of my earlier questions? Do solar panels (photovoltaic) wear out?

Wear not? Well, they don't "wear out" per se, but what they do is lose a nominal fraction of their efficiency, but they are still quite useful 20-30-40 years later (which is why they are a good PERSONAL investment IMO) retaining 80+% of their original efficiency, which for electronics is outstanding, given the daily environmental abuse they are subjected to. 

I have been planning on designing my own system, and my brother is a licensed installer (I have my PE license, but code generally dictates that licenced installers do the work for it to pass code in my state), I just need to get off my duff and do it. Put it this way, if the efficiency fall off over their useful lifetime was a concern to me, I would not have them on my personal agenda, nor would I be so highly in favor of them for a personal home energy system. 

Don't visualize numbers. That will almost always produce erroneous gut feel solutions. 20 grams over the numbers that I showed adds up. It's the aggregate that matters when talking mega scale projects. 

If I am coming across as a photo voltaic opponent then believe me, nothing could be more opposite, more further from the truth! I am saying that on a large national scale, with silver in limited supply, and known reserves in a limited supply, there is a practicality issue, where other types of renewables would be more favorable. That's all. :)

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Energy independence: How to

Energy independence should be thought by individuals for themselves. It is a too large task to be carried out at country scale. Every person should build now its energy independence/resiliency. Yes, prices will go up with more demand. But at the same time, other options will become more interesting. This will promote a variety of solutions, almost always at the optimal price considering the current market conditions. Overall, this should reduce pressure on the large systems.

The knowledge that some materials are in finite supply, should not prevent us of going forward with our individual plans. Always good to be the first.

 

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Quote: If I am coming across
Quote:

If I am coming across as a photo voltaic opponent

I'm not reading you that way, I read you as pointing out that we need to make sure our thinking is realistic about what it would take to switch to photovoltaics on a large scale.

At my end I'm saying, we don't have to assume that photovoltaics are the only tool in the solar energy toolbox.

Quote:

Building more than 1% per year in solar panels is utopia we do not have the production capacity.

If we want production capacity to expand, more of us need to buy the products.

If more of us made personal investments in solar energy we would benefit personally, but we'd also help to nudge the whole system in a better direction.

Morpheus, what's a PE license?

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blackeagle wrote: Energy
blackeagle wrote:

Energy independence should be thought by individuals for themselves. It is a too large task to be carried out at country scale. Every person should build now its energy independence/resiliency. Yes, prices will go up with more demand. But at the same time, other options will become more interesting. This will promote a variety of solutions, almost always at the optimal price considering the current market conditions. Overall, this should reduce pressure on the large systems.

The knowledge that some materials are in finite supply, should not prevent us of going forward with our individual plans. Always good to be the first.

What options are you specifically referring to when you speak of "other options will become more interesting"?

I agree with you on the last statement. IMO buying solar early is like getting into new equity market early. One might counterargue that early entry brings with it the penalty of lack of economy of scale, and hence higher prices due to lower production, but that does not consider the impact that higher production would have on direct materials cost (DM, as we call it in industry) which will work against reduced production costs and DM increases as a function of production. Also, I was just talking about silver only. Rare earth metals are also used in solar energy and they too have limited production potential, so there is another factor that would increase DM.  The question is, with limited reserves of both silver and rare earth metals, does DM skyrocket when demand picks up, thus swamping economy of scale from large-scale production? If so then the earlier you buy the better. (I work in the electronics industry and am keenly aware of rare earth material stocks, and transient shortages (indicative of limited supply) gives us fits with respect to designing around that issue). 

That aspect, and the fact that both energy and industrial silver prices are very low now, is making me seriously consider taking advantage of the present opportunity and getting some solar installed while it is at a great value!

 

 

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Yoxa wrote:Quote: If I am
Yoxa wrote:
Quote:

If I am coming across as a photo voltaic opponent

I'm not reading you that way, I read you as pointing out that we need to make sure our thinking is realistic about what it would take to switch to photovoltaics on a large scale. At my end I'm saying, we don't have to assume that photovoltaics are the only tool in the solar energy toolbox.

Quote:

Building more than 1% per year in solar panels is utopia we do not have the production capacity.

If we want production capacity to expand, more of us need to buy the products. If more of us made personal investments in solar energy we would benefit personally, but we'd also help to nudge the whole system in a better direction. Morpheus, what's a PE license?

Professional Engineer. It's a state license that is required for anyone to sign off on an engineering system that can have an adverse affect on life or property if not designed properly. Without a PE I could not design my own system and get it installed by anyone and approved. All power systems, even integration projects using modular, off the shelf vendor technologies, usually require a PE signoff to be implemented and approved by local code. 

Back to your post Yoxa. You are assuming that production can be expanded, and while that may be true to a certain degree (during the post-crash silver boom, miners tried their damnedest to expand production but the increase was nominal, not anywhere near the required increase for the scenario that I am evaluating, and trust me, they were incentives for them to expand. Big incentives), there is no ocean of silver available for us to just "tap" and all we require is the will to do it. No, silver is in very limited supply. That is why it costs over $200 per pound. Supply and Demand. Right now, demand is a fraction of what it has the potential to be (per its price history), so that says a lot about supply if low demand is generating $200+ per pound. 

Because known proven reserves of silver are limited (and I will now include other rare materials such as rare earth's), recovery costs will skyrocket, which means that production can only be supported by higher price points. Then there's that "limited reserves" thingy that optimistic thinking isn't going to get us around. We, humanity that is, may get lucky and find a huge reserve, but more than likely we may not because we are already incentivized to find that mother lode. 

Not holding my breath. 

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blackeagle wrote: Energy
blackeagle wrote:

Energy independence should be thought by individuals for themselves. It is a too large task to be carried out at country scale. Every person should build now its energy independence/resiliency. Yes, prices will go up with more demand. But at the same time, other options will become more interesting. This will promote a variety of solutions, almost always at the optimal price considering the current market conditions. Overall, this should reduce pressure on the large systems.

The knowledge that some materials are in finite supply, should not prevent us of going forward with our individual plans. Always good to be the first.

Indeed. While that does not mean that we should not reduce fossil fuel usage with larger scale alternative energy projects where economically feasible (we should), what it implies is that large scale projects, are necessary but not sufficient, because at least in this case, it may be counterproductive due to price. 

Mind you, I would opine that millions of homes suddenly gearing up and going solar with household-scale projects, would aggregately have the same supply pressure as a national initiative. Or, more to the point, photovoltaic power whether by mega projects, or millions of small-scale home projects, likely won't put a big dent in our national energy budget. That said, those that exploit it early, before any rise in raw materials occurs (which can occur for a variety of other reasons), will be the fortunate ones indeed IMO. 

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@ Morpheus

What options are you specifically referring to when you speak of "other options will become more interesting"?

Any. Could be wind, micro-hydro (where possible), biofuels, geothermal, marine... you name it. Also, don't forget the option of energy footprint reduction: less use of fossil fuels, better home insulation, smaller cars, etc.... In other words, anything that makes either use of renewable/alternative energy or reduce energy footprint.

Indeed. While that does not mean that we should not reduce fossil fuel usage with larger scale alternative energy projects where economically feasible (we should), what it implies is that large scale projects, are necessary but not sufficient, because at least in this case, it may be counterproductive due to price. 

Mind you, I would opine that millions of homes suddenly gearing up and going solar with household-scale projects, would aggregately have the same supply pressure as a national initiative. Or, more to the point, photovoltaic power whether by mega projects, or millions of small-scale home projects, likely won't put a big dent in our national energy budget. That said, those that exploit it early, before any rise in raw materials occurs (which can occur for a variety of other reasons), will be the fortunate ones indeed IMO. 

What I meant is that because it is technically and financially impossible today to go renewable at the country scale, the best option is at the individual level (at least for those who can and/or want). I agree that millions of homes going solar will bring a lot of pressure on the industry, but:
  • Once a house is equipped, it is done.
  • People have choice: Their choice.
  • The number of houses totally equipped will just increase day after day.
  • The drag from lobbies and alike will be minimal.
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blackeagle wrote:What
blackeagle wrote:

What options are you specifically referring to when you speak of "other options will become more interesting"?

Any. Could be wind, micro-hydro (where possible), biofuels, geothermal, marine... you name it. Also, don't forget the option of energy footprint reduction: less use of fossil fuels, better home insulation, smaller cars, etc.... In other words, anything that makes either use of renewable/alternative energy or reduce energy footprint.

Microhydro is limited, but if you have access to it then IMO it is one of the better options. Biofuels are a boondoggle. The return on energy ratio is often less than unity which is why the require politically based subsidies to produce. They are basically big make work projects for wealthy corporations. Better home insulation I agree with, and there is certainly room in the realm of materials science engineering to expand on that concept. Smaller cars will be addressed by the market as energy scarcity increases, and energy prices, once they get painful enough, will also force the reduction of energy footprints, whether folks want to or not. 

blackeagle wrote:
What I meant is that because it is technically and financially impossible today to go renewable at the country scale, the best option is at the individual level (at least for those who can and/or want). I agree that millions of homes going solar will bring a lot of pressure on the industry, but:
  • Once a house is equipped, it is done.
  • People have choice: Their choice.
  • The number of houses totally equipped will just increase day after day.
  • The drag from lobbies and alike will be minimal.

All good points but you also have to consider that demand increases with population so that offsets items 1 and 3 somewhat. Item 4 is an excellent point but never underestimate the amount of subterfuge that K Street can engage in when big money is at stake. I wouldn't be surprised if lobbyists drafted legislation for their puppet congressmen and senators that would make home based solar an act of terrorism if their pocketbooks were threatened enough. LOL

With your last points though you weave into them a key, no, a critical point. That individuals have to take responsibility for their own energy security since the corporate headquaters for America, Inc. , you know, that place on the Potomac, won't lift a finger to do it for them. I mean, look at the track record. Nor should that be their role (as if consolidation of decision making into a central repository somehow is the best solution). Instead, they should, if they were statesmen and not paid corporate shills, go after the big energy interests that are impeding these types of technologies and then let natural incentives do their thing. But that would interfere with profits and we can't have that, can we?

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Producers need to stay solvent
Quote:

 You are assuming that production can be expanded, and while that may be true to a certain degree

Yes, I'm assuming that it -could- increase somewhat, but I'm also saying that can only happen if someone actually buys the products.

Production dies if the producers can't stay solvent.


Quote:

 anything that makes either use of renewable/alternative energy or reduce energy footprint.

Add passive solar building techniques to that list.

 

 

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Morpheus wrote:

Item 4 is an excellent point but never underestimate the amount of subterfuge that K Street can engage in when big money is at stake. I wouldn't be surprised if lobbyists drafted legislation for their puppet congressmen and senators that would make home based solar an act of terrorism if their pocketbooks were threatened enough.

I read a lot of comment like this one and still I feel perplex about it. It is true that lobbies try (and do!) everything they can (want) to protect their selfish interests (Call it greed), but usually there is an opposite pressure that minimize their scope. I see all this game as a pendulum where the equilibrium point that satisfy both parties is reached periodically (Kind of a compromise in time).

With your last points though you weave into them a key, no, a critical point. That individuals have to take responsibility for their own energy security since the corporate headquaters for America, Inc. , you know, that place on the Potomac, won't lift a finger to do it for them. I mean, look at the track record. Nor should that be their role (as if consolidation of decision making into a central repository somehow is the best solution). Instead, they should, if they were statesmen and not paid corporate shills, go after the big energy interests that are impeding these types of technologies and then let natural incentives do their thing. But that would interfere with profits and we can't have that, can we?

In fact, I think wider: individuals have to take responsibility for their own lives. Energy is just a subset. Could this mindset be called preparedness? wink

 

 

 

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Lets fix my problem and do my one in a billion part

Good discussion, part of this tread reminded me of this quote:

“We're not on our journey to save the world but to save ourselves. But in doing that you save the world. The influence of a vital person vitalizes.” ― Joseph Campbell (I really like this guys work)

So I am installing a grid tied solar power system to my home in a week. One nice feature that I quite like is the inverter has a single 1500 W plug that is active, if the power is out, and the sun is shining with at least 1500 watts available (from 4000 W of solar panels).  There is no battery storage, but I can keep my freezer frozen and fridge active for years on end if I absolutely had to. I have no battery storage (yet), but I would have some power to manage something while the sun is shining. "Being 5% prepared is a whole lot better then being 0% prepared"  

So back to the title “A Big Problem With Thinking That Solar Is An Effective Means to Energy Independence.” … I have not solve the world’s problems, but I personally will know have more energy independence then I have ever had before when it comes to electrical power. 

Yes, getting the entire world on powering stuff with solar panels has physical limits, especially when using power like the current USA person uses today.  I am not refuting that point in the least, it is great that you are bringing it up; it is a piece of the puzzle that needs to be known.  I just wanted to add that there are are other paths I have seen in the murky world.  One I have seen and thought about (but have not done much myself) is a ‘simple’ house that has almost the same utility as our houses today and uses just 300-500 watts to give some light, a TV/computer and one simple fridge.

Thanks for the discussion

 

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Scale makes all the difference

Photovoltaic is an ideal solution for individual household power. It is my first choice for going off grid. However, it has many drawbacks. Morpheus, you have convincingly shown that silver is a limiting factor. But so is the area of the panels. Very few households in urban areas have the space to put a solar panel array of meaningful size.

To save the planet we need great gobs of serious power. In a time of diminishing fossil fuels, that means nuclear power. But NOT the dangerous, uranium based, water cooled reactors that everybody fears. What we need is a full blown effort to develop Liquid Flouride Thorium Reactors (LFTR). http://energyfromthorium.com/

This is a technology that works. All that is required is a relatively trivial engineering project to bring it up to date with modern materials and it can solve our upcoming energy problem. The French and the Chinese are already working on it. The US could have them in less than 10 years if even 10% of the money being pumped into tbtf banks was spent on a 'manhattan project' to develop LFTR power.

 

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Boomer41 wrote:Photovoltaic
Boomer41 wrote:

Photovoltaic is an ideal solution for individual household power. It is my first choice for going off grid. However, it has many drawbacks. Morpheus, you have convincingly shown that silver is a limiting factor. But so is the area of the panels. Very few households in urban areas have the space to put a solar panel array of meaningful size.

To save the planet we need great gobs of serious power. In a time of diminishing fossil fuels, that means nuclear power. But NOT the dangerous, uranium based, water cooled reactors that everybody fears. What we need is a full blown effort to develop Liquid Flouride Thorium Reactors (LFTR). http://energyfromthorium.com/

This is a technology that works. All that is required is a relatively trivial engineering project to bring it up to date with modern materials and it can solve our upcoming energy problem. The French and the Chinese are already working on it. The US could have them in less than 10 years if even 10% of the money being pumped into tbtf banks was spent on a 'manhattan project' to develop LFTR power.

 

My takeaway from this data Boomer is that we shouldn't wait too long to act on getting some personal energy independence. This data tells me that the technology's price, given its present state, may at first decrease with expanding demand (economy of scale), but eventually hit an inflection point when the direct material costs start to rise. It tells me personally to stop procrastinating. 

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Battery Charging Lineup.....

Or just put in a deep cycle battery system on a solar charger.  Don't forget the trickle discharge.  Time to jump in the well and hop some gravities Boomer......

Just a guess, but 598, 608, 616 or 640 class?

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Solar panels wearing out

Solar panels do 'wear out'. Most of the currently produced solar panels have 25 year warranties stating that after 25 years the panels will produce at least 80% of the stated wattage of the panel. So, after 25 years, manufacturers are betting that 240 watt panels will still be producing 192 watts. Take the manufacturer warranty for what you will, but if they don't hold up that well the manufacturers are going to be paying a lot of money to replace a lot of solar panels.

Additionally, Solar World recently improved the warranty on their panels stating a maximum of 0.7 linear performance digression. So, with their panels they're willing to guarantee a 25 year power loss of a maximum of 17.5%. Again, taking our 240 watt panel, this means we'll be producing 198 watts after 25 years.

Lastly, this doesn't mean that the panel performance will degrade this quickly, just that they may degrade this quickly without breaking their warranty.

Hope this helps.

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Solar panels wearing out, energy efficiency

Hi,

 

I have had a 2500 W solar system on my home for just about ten years now. I have installed energy efficient appliances wherever I could. LED lights and high efficiency refriges are now mandated in California and I assume in many other states.

I guess that there will be a continued improvement in efficiency that will do much more to save energy than solar panels themselves. Unfortunately many of the previous comments ignore that fact. But it may be the dominant factor in meeting our future energy needs. As long as energy is cheap, folks will opt for the 'old way'. As soon as energy gets expensive, a multitude of small improvements will come on the market.

Distributed energy generation has two aspects that are both of great value. One is that we would save the costs energy distribution, which I have heard run about 10% to 15%. But the other benefit is that we may be able to get out from under the control of large energy companies that siphon off an even bigger % in profits.

Granted I am benefiting from some state subsidizing of solar costs but my 2500W system has produced more $ value of energy than I use. I still get the benefit of using PG&E as a battery for my energy needs when it's dark but I have not paid them more than a $6 a month connect charge due to having a time of day and annual net usage billing system.

Hopefully you can do as well where you live. I live very close to the Pacific Ocean where it's foggy much of the year.

 

 

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Morpheus
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dpaull wrote: Hi, I guess
dpaull wrote:

Hi,

I guess that there will be a continued improvement in efficiency that will do much more to save energy than solar panels themselves. Unfortunately many of the previous comments ignore that fact. But it may be the dominant factor in meeting our future energy needs. As long as energy is cheap, folks will opt for the 'old way'. As soon as energy gets expensive, a multitude of small improvements will come on the market.

Excellent point Dpaul. I don't think anyone dismissed this concept as much as we became myopic on the energy production side of the equation. 

Reducing energy consumption is even more important for a number of reasons. First, it will reduce the cost of the required solar electrical system (although offset by the cost of "energy hardening your domicile"). Second, energy conservation methods are inherently green, and generally persistent. That is, they don't "wear out that easily". Lastly, and most importantly, alternative energy systems still require resources to create/manufacture, which goes to the point in my thread. Increasing energy demand would place increasing burdens on the rare earth/ precious metal markets, putting tremendous pressure on scarce resources. 

Thanks for adding it to the conversation. 

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Nicklas
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Interesting calcs, not only reason Solar PV's one of many

Liked the calcs, many reasons most solutions has it's limits so what's needed is a whole swag of solutions, just like this:

http://www.altenergystocks.com/assets/McKinsey%20Graph.png

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Michael_Rudmin
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Not just PV solar, not just silver

Couple of points to add: first, I strongly suspect that what you can do with silver, you can do with au, pd, and pt. That's why Kodak could switch between silver and gold at will, and automotive manufacturers could switch between Pd and Pt.

Second, the resource requirements are very different for serious power production using mirror arrays and steam. I strongly suspect that if we're going to get serious about solar power, we're going to use mirror array collectors.

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