Jump to content

Going solar, going solar, going solar


Recommended Posts

1 hour ago, Impmk2 said:

I find that low level of uptake to be completely nuts. I had no idea. Australia, a country with less than 1/10th the US population surpassed 2 million residential installations last year. Currently on 20% of households with solar power.


we have a political party that has actively sabotaged solar at every opportunity when in power.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...
On 5/7/2019 at 12:36 PM, Tywin et al. said:

But if we’re talking alternative energy sources, why doesn’t geothermal get more attention? It seems like the most practical way to begin.

I just had geothermal installed at my house, so I think I can speak to this.  For those who don't know, geothermal involves drilling a big hole in the ground and putting a tube full of water in a loop through said hole.  These holes can shallow (ten feet) if you have a lot of horizontal room, but if you don't have a huge yard, you'll need to go vertical, in which case you'll go something like 200-500 feet in the ground.  The ground at 10+ feet deep is a constant temperature year round (approximately the average annual temperature).  So you run the water through the tube and it becomes that temperature, then it runs back into the house and then is put into a heat pump.  This provides your building's heating and cooling (and hot water, if you want).  This is MUCH more efficient than using a heat pump with outside air or using some fuel source for heating.  While a good natural gas heater can achieve efficiencies above 95%, a geothermal system can achieve 400% or more.  That's because the heat in the ground (from the sun) is free, and thus you only need to count the energy costs of moving the water and running the heat pump, which are comparatively very easy.

Advantages of Geothermal - Underground portion lasts ~200 years with no maintenance.  GHG Emissions and monthly heating/cooling bills are cut somewhere between 50-70%.  The system works better than our old electric heat pump.  It is virtually silent with either heating or A/C on. 

Disadvantages of Geothermal - Very expensive upfront to do all that digging.  Tears up your yard.  You have to have a yard (doesn't work well for apartment buildings, unless you are drilling a fantastic amount of holes).  You need to find an experienced team to do the drilling or installation, because if they screw it up, it's REALLY hard to fix. 

A bit more about the costs - overall the system cost me about $27k to install.  The federal tax credit is 30%.  The state and county incentives combined for a flat $4500.  So I'm looking at something like $14k out of pocket once those incentives come back.  If I had instead replaced my (nonfunctional) system with an electric or heating oil heating/cooling system, it probably would have run something like $8k.  So this is definitely more, even with the extensive rebates.  But it saves money every month, I expect a payback something like 8 years, with the indoor unit lasting 25 years and the outdoor unit lasting 200.  So it seemed like a good investment to me, I plan to be in this house more than 8 years.  However, if you live somewhere with natural gas, the payback is a little longer (assuming NG prices stay as low as they have). 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A couple of recent developments regarding the decarbonization of the electric grid:

US Renewable Capacity Exceeds Coal Capacity.


The renewable energy sector had slightly more installed capacity than coal in April, according to a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission report.

Also in April, the renewable energy sector was projected to have generated more electricity than coal, according to a separate report published by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis. That transition was partially driven by seasonal issues.

In addition, the long promised breakthrough on batteries is finally happening.  Here's an article (from Politico, strangely enough) about the use of batteries for short term utility storage.


Last year, Florida Power & Light completed a 10-megawatt grid battery hailed as the largest of its kind in the world; last month, FPL announced a battery project more than 40 times larger. Republican regulators in Arizona recently approved more than twice as much power storage in their state as the entire country installed last year; Hawaii is building more than three times as much, and California nearly five times as much. Tom Buttgenbach, the CEO of 8minutenergy Renewables, says his firm alone has signed contracts to build nearly a gigawatt of grid storage in the U.S., more than two thirds of the current nationwide total, in just the past four months.

Overall, the consultancy Wood Mackenzie expects U.S. storage additions to double in 2019, triple in 2020 and increase 13-fold over the next five years, which would store enough electricity to power more than 5 million homes.

Thanks to the dizzying cost declines, utilities are now building new wind and solar farms accompanied by new battery storage for less than they would pay to build new fossil-fuel plants—and in some cases less than they would pay to run existing fossil-fuel plants. Pairing renewables with storage lets grid operators fill in gaps when the weather isn’t cooperating and dispatch power in more predictable ways when it’s needed most.

Battery improvements are finally making wind/solar realistic for baseload power production.  That is a gamechanger. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

They also sell solar panel window blinds and shades. They even come with an app so you can track how much you're generating.

Eventually solar power will be generated in a box no bigger than a backpack. Just hang in there!


Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...