Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Solar Fail: Chicago

The problem with solar energy is that it is much more expensive than purchasing energy from power companies.

Much, much more expensive.

It is true that this difference can be reduced by subsidies. But people underestimate how much of a subsidy is required. With installation, batteries, and disposal of toxic waste (batteries are much more poisonous than the exhaust of power plants!), solar panels are almost never cost effective.

And so, we see, yet again, that grandiose claims run afoul of economic reality.
"Green" energy is a huge net waste of resources. Far from making things better, solar panels and solar subsidies are increasing unemployment and causing enormous damage to the environment.

(nod to the Blonde)


nates said...

Rather disappointing post.

You most likely mean Solar Panels when you say "Solar Energy."

If you ever have the option to drive around a Central American country you will notice a giant black cistern on the top of nearly every house. I can promise you they don't use solar water heating because some bureaucrat told them it would save the owls. It's cheap and effective. Even our overcomplicated vacuum sealed systems sold in the US have a recovery period of 3-5 years.

Lack of subsidization of centralized energy production would likely lead to far more adoption of solar panels and solar energy in a sparsely populated nation like ours. Those that think a 5kw roof system is prohibitively expensive should try building a nuclear plant, budgeting the fuel for a diesel generator, damming a river, or drilling 30 miles into the earth for geothermal.

Solar power is modular, decentralized, and lacks externalities associated with most other technologies. It would likely be far cheaper and more popular in a free society.

nates said...

Also, you would likely get a far more popular and intellectually sound position if you point out that solar subsidization, the government picking winners and losers, actually impedes progress in finding the best technologies. Just look at cars, housing, banks, well really anything at this point.

Hasdrubal said...

Yes, I'm sure the solar water heating that Central Americans use will work wonderfully for me up in Minnesota where I have 8 hours of daylight right at the same time I most want hot water.

And sure, most electrical generation methods have very large efficient scales of production. What's the problem with that?

nates said...

There are these things called hot water heaters. They store heat in water. It's amazing technology. Vacuum seal a container inside another and water can stay heated for weeks! Even while your power is out or the local grid decides to turn it off!

Meanwhile in Sweden (practically inside the fucking Arctic circle):

But yes, continue to make absurdly incorrect statements about technology you have no understanding of whatsoever.

Hasdrubal said...

1.) Isn't that the same basic principle that Solyndra was using? Increase the amount of solar energy captured through reflecting it onto the photovoltaics?

2.) I don't see much information on its actual performance, especially during the winter. (How long does it take to clear the frost off in the morning, for example?) And it's intended primarily for larger installations than houses: "Our products are optimally installed in properties that have a high consumption of hot water like for example hotels, hospitals, industries, sport-centers, airports and apartment buildings." Also, how much hot water can you generate per hour and per linear meter of installation at average light levels for, say, Minnesota in the winter?

3.) How much does it cost compared to natural gas? Preferably _before_ subsidies.

I kind of wonder if high latitude locations really get their money's worth when the company says, "Our key markets are: hotels, hospitals, apartment buildings, sport centers and industry in _southern Europe._"

nates said...

I'm not sure what your point is. DeLorean Motor Company had the same basic principle as Toyota: mass produce cars. One is the world leader in doing just that, while the other is a defunct movie prop.

Absolicon's technology differs significantly from most in that it sucks away excess heat with water rather than exhaust it into the atmosphere. It is also easily upgraded using advances in solar panel efficiencies and the design protects the expensive mirror and solar cells with an exterior layer of glass that is easily cleaned or replaced.

Incident light in MN contains between 4-8 kwH/m2/day for a single axis tracker. 5 for the sake of argument. The Absolicon systems are 200,000 euro ($300,000) for 200m2. Assuming an efficiency of 60% (Electric 20% + Water 40%) this system will net you 600 kwH per day in electricity savings. The same amount at prevailing electricity cost ($0.10/kwH) would require $60 a day, $1800 a month, or $22,000 a year. Amortizing the $300,000 system over the 25 year life at current prevailing interest rates yields a monthly payment of ~$1700. You are paying yourself $100 a month for an asset that instantly appreciates the value of your property, is likely upgradable in the future, and allows you to put a stupid giant sticker on your hotel brochure proclaiming your love of nature.

All this is even more profitable in Florida where insolation averages 7+ kwH/m2/day and power is 14 cents per kwH.

Solar Panels said...

Fossil fuels won't last forever man. Just saying.