Tag Archives: efficiency

2012 solar deployments driven by Moore’s Law price reductions

Moore's Law in solar Watts/$100 Moore’s Law for solar is about decreasing price per Watt, or more Watts per dollar. Here’s an example of a common confusion, to think it’s about efficiency:

“The curve will obviously become asymptotic at some point, ie,. the rate of improvement will flatten out, so we end up with a sort of squashed “S” shape curve, because you can’t get more than 100% efficiency — 36 watts/m2 or so.”

And indeed efficiency probably will flatten out soon. But it’s not solar efficiency that’s improving by Moore’s Law: it’s price per watt. That can keep improving for a long time.

Here’s an example of decreasing price. Scott Detrow wrote for NPR 23 December 2012, Forget Fracking: 2012 Was A Powerful Year For Renewables,

Rhone Resch “Just to give you perspective,” Resh said, “in Washington, D.C., where I live, when I installed solar on my house six years ago, the average install cost was about $14 a watt. Today it’s about $4 a watt.”

Here’s another comparison, this one just for solar panels. KC 170 solar panels, purchased 2005 In 2005 the first set of solar panels we got cost $670 each and produced 170 Watts DC each, or $4.94/Watt. In 2011 our second set of solar panels cost $562 each for 235 Watts DC each, or $2.39/Watt. That’s more than 50% price decrease for solar panels in six years. (I can’t compare inverters or support structures directly, because those were sized so differently, but those have also come down in price, helping lower the overall install cost).

Yearprice /Wattprice /panelWatts /panel Dimens.square inchesWatts /100 sq in. Model
2005 $4.94 $670 170W 50×39″ 1950 8.7 KC 170
2011 $2.39 $562 235W 39.1×64.6″ 2525 9.3 Sharp ND 235 QCJ
2012 $1.32 $310 235W 39.1×64.6″ 2525 9.3 Sharp ND 235 QCJ

Meanwhile, the Watts per surface area hardly changed, from about Continue reading

Vermont Comprehensive Energy Plan

Georgia can do this if it wants to, Final Comprehensive Energy Plan 2011
The Comprehensive Energy Plan (CEP) addresses Vermont’s energy future for electricity, thermal energy, transportation, and land use. This document represents the efforts of numerous state agencies and departments, and input from stakeholders and citizens who shared their insights and knowledge on energy issues over the past ten months. The plan can be downloaded from this website or may be viewed at the Department of Public Service, 112 State Street, Montpelier during regular business hours.
More about those public comments:
The release of the Final CEP 2011 includes the CEP Public Involvement Report II (above). This document summarizes the written comments received during the second public comment period, between the release of the CEP Public Review Draft (CEP) on September 13, 2011 and the close of the public comment period on November 4, 2011. Over 1,380 written comments were received via email, the Comprehensive Energy Plan website, and hard copy between July 15 and November 4. Approximately 350 stakeholder groups, including municipal, business, and non-profit entities, submitted comments. Over 830 form-letter comments were signed and submitted by members of at least three different organizations. Over 200 comments were submitted by individual members of the general public.
Real input from the entire state. Imagine that!

Vermont’s population is about 622,000, or the size of a single Congressional district, so maybe it’s easier for them than for Georgia. On the other hand, maybe a regional south Georgia energy policy, or even a county policy, would be possible.


After Fukushima: Fewer nukes most places; More in Georgia

Most countries are not building more nuclear power plants, and some are shutting down some of the ones they have, because Fukushima has confirmed what Chernoby and Three Mile Island already told us: maybe the physics is sound, but the business model leads to unsafe plants. But in the U.S. and Georgia, it’s full speed ahead for new nukes, regardless of the risks of radiation leaks or cost overruns.

Christopher Joyce wrote for NPR today, After Fukushima: A Changing Climate For Nuclear

“We don’t see Fukushima as having a significant impact on the U.S. industry,” says Scott Peterson, vice president of the industry’s Nuclear Energy Institute. “The Nuclear Regulatory Commission was renewing 10 licenses for U.S. plants, extending them 20 years in operation. We were continuing to move forward in examining new reactor designs.”
Nevermind that those extensions mostly go well beyond the design lifespans of the plants extended.
Marc Chupka, who advises electric utilities as an economist with the Brattle Group in Washington, wonders who’s going to pay for them.

“Right now, just the plain economics of nuclear power are underwater,” he says. He notes that over the past decade, construction costs have skyrocketed and natural gas got more plentiful and cheaper.

“Things change significantly over relatively short periods of time,” Chupka says, noting that it takes about a dozen years to plan and build a new nuclear plant. “That makes it an incredibly challenging environment to plan for the long term. And that adds to the risk and it makes investors understandably skittish.”

So we could do what Germany is doing:
Germany says the same: The government will throw its weight and wealth into solar and wind energy to replace nuclear power.
Or we could listen to the same old excuse: Continue reading

Financing for renewable energy projects

Most of the cost of a corporate or personal renewable energy installation can be funded through federal and state rebates, but the remainder is what stops most people. Here is what I know about that. There are many other sources of information.

Federal 30% and Georgia 35% rebates add up to 65% (see below under DSIRE). That’s for solar (PV or hot water), wind, and some other related items.

The other 35% is what stops most businesses and people. 35% of a $25,000 house solar system is still $8,750. People like that it will pay itself off in 9-15 years, but most people don’t have $8,750 to invest.

That’s a business opportunity for some enterprising local bank or banks. As Dr. Noll has explained, if you pay for that remainder yourself, the system will pay itself off in about 9 years. If you get a bank to finance it, more like 15 years. And local banks currently require collateral other than the system itself (they like real estate as collateral). The simplest business opportunity is for a local bank to accept the solar equipment itself as collateral. After all, it’s worth 65/35 or 185% of the total loan amount.

The Georgia Solar Energy Association (GSEA) can probably tell you more.

Other ways to finance renewable energy projects include: Continue reading

To the people of Valdosta and South Georgia —Occupy Valdosta

Posted today in Occupy Valdosta’s facebook page:
To the people of Valdosta and South Georgia

We, the local citizens occupying Valdosta, urge you to assert your power.

Exercise your right to peaceably assemble; to nonviolently occupy public space; to create an open process to address the problems we face, and to generate solutions accessible to everyone.

Our issues are varied, yet related.

We seek

Continue reading

Solar is cost-effective —Dr. Noll @ LCC 13 September 2011

Dr. Noll made the case for the cost-effectiveness of solar energy through, among other things, an analogy to finaninc buying a car.

First Dr. Noll thanked people who had supported WACE’s anti-biomass work, and hoped people had had time to read his recent LTE in the VDT, Waste Not, Want Not. Then he addressed Commissioner Raines’ comments of the previous day. Dr. Noll pointed out that solar is fast becoming less expensive and with financing costs little more than a car or truck.

Here’s the video:

Solar is cost-effective —Dr. Noll @ LCC 13 September 2011
Regular Session, Lowndes County Commission (LCC),
Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia, 13 September 2011.
Videos by Gretchen Quarterman for LAKE, the Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange.


Southern Company committed to communities, renewable energy, energy efficiency

Thomas A. Fanning, chairman, president and CEO of Southern Company, says his company is committed to communities, renewable energy, and energy efficiency. So helping finance municipal refitting and solar projects should be a natural for Southern Company!

According to PR from Southern Company, 25 May 2011, Southern Company Holds Annual Meeting of Shareholders

Fanning also emphasized a continued commitment to the communities the company serves and stressed the need for a national energy policy and a robust research and development initiative.

“Southern Company keeps customers at the center of every decision we make,” said Fanning. “We remain committed to providing reliable, affordable energy for our customers and to do that we need to maintain a diverse fuel mix as well as stay focused on developing the newest technologies.”

Referencing a diverse fuel mix, Fanning highlighted the company’s commitment to nuclear energy, including building the nation’s first new units in 30 years. He also discussed the importance of preserving coal – America’s most abundant energy resource – as well as the role of natural gas, renewable energy and energy efficiency in meeting its customers energy needs.

“Furthermore, we are the only company in the industry that is doing it all. We’ve committed more than $20 billion to these efforts,” Fanning said.

Sure, he listed renewable energy and energy efficiency last. But this is the same Thomas A. Fanning who said in May that he’s “bullish” on solar. The same CEO of the parent company of Georgia Power, which just connected a 300 kiloWatt solar plant in Lowndes County. The same CEO who’s being nagged by the Georgia PSC chairman “to come up with options in the next 30 days for expanding the tiny amount of electricity generated from solar power.” And a company that spends more than $20 billion on new energy projects can afford a few tens of millions for community refitting and solar.


Birmingham U.K. municipal solar didn’t wait for larger governments

Banks and power companies can fund municipal solar projects; cities and counties don’t have to wait for state or federal governments to provide them grants. Or at least Birmingham, U.K. has done it for public housing. And Quitman, Georgia did it last year, too.

According to Larry Elliott in the Guardian, 3 October 2010, 10,000 Birmingham council homes to get solar panels: City agrees £100m scheme, partly funded by banks and energy suppliers, to meet target for cutting carbon emissions

Plans to fit power generating solar panels to council-owned properties in Birmingham will be pushed forward this week after the council agreed a “green new deal” scheme covering 10,000 homes.

In the biggest proposal for retrofitting houses through an energy efficiency upgrade yet seen in the UK, the council agreed a £100m proposal last week designed to create jobs and meet the city’s ambitious targets for reducing carbon emissions.

The plan – Birmingham Energy Savers – will be jointly funded by Birmingham council and investment from energy suppliers and commercial banks, and follows two successful pilot schemes conducted in Europe’s biggest local authority.

Energy efficiency and solar power to create jobs!

We have local proof of concept right next door Continue reading

Renewable Energy Network at Opportunity Central

Renewable energy for jobs: that’s something that would interest a Chamber of Commerce.

Partly due to MAGE SOLAR at Lowndes High School (thanks, Jerome Tucker!), the Valdosta – Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce (VLCoC) has taken an interest in renewable energy. ReKasa Deen, Business Development Director, already heads the Chamber’s Opportunity Central:

The Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber is positioning Metro Valdosta as Opportunity Central with opportunities for business to grow and thrive, career opportunities for well-educated young professionals and opportunities for cultural interests and active lifestyles.

The key phrase I keep hearing from VLCoC president Myrna Ballard is “knowledge-based businesses and jobs.” As it says on a recent Opportunity Central blog post:

New jobs follow bright and creative professionals…
Ms. Ballard and Ms. Deen have repeatedly said they see renewable energy as a source of jobs for graduates of our local high schools and colleges.

What do they mean by renewable energy? Continue reading

Georgia clean energy tax credits: yes, they are available

Inquiring minds want to know if Georgia still has its energy rebate program. The answer is yes.

The usual place to look for state tax incentives is DSIRETM (Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency). That database shows for Georgia not only state financial incentives but also a local loan program for Athens-Clarke County and a local rebate program for Atlanta. There’s a thought! Valdosta or Lowndes County could do a loan program for real clean renewable energy! or the Valdosta-Lowndes County Industrial Authority (VLCIA) could do that using some of its $15 million in bonds and other debt, assuming it hasn’t already spent all of it on locking up land.

Or Georgia Power or Colquitt Electric could do that, Continue reading