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« Elm-Cornwallis rezoning news | Main | Muzzled and gelded »

Dec 07, 2008


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My PUBLIC electric utility charges me about $.07/kwh.

What's NC resident being charged ?


RBM: depending on use 8.5-14.8 cents per kwh. Churches, massage parlors, stadiums, manufacturing, hospitals, residential have different rates. The electric chair is out of the question now that everything is going green, unless the juice comes from windmills. Rates at co-ops are going up next month on the east coast.


When it comes to energy, the US could use a bit more R&D money going to alternative source development. Solar and wind power is not going to be feasible until they are much more efficient, but to say that they never will be efficient enough is defeatist thinking and not worthy of Americans. We've spent too many decades being told how things should be done by those who profit the most from keeping the status quo.
I watched the segment last night on 60 minutes when the Saudi oil minister said candidly that their goal is to keep demand for oil strong (in the US and elsewhere) forever. That means that we are being controlled by "dictators" from afar. Do we really want this?


ish: who do think put the dictators in place and props them up. The Sauds have 2 legions of private forces from Pakistan to protect the royal family in case one force turns on the infidel puppets of the West. Only subscribers to National Geographic recognize the Saud family as any authority. Percy Cox drew the lines of the current boundaries. To the rest of the Middle East they are pirates who allied themselves with the oppressors of the region. There are no plans for "democracy" in the Land of Saud. They supply a large amount of the fuel to keep the world in flames. The descendents of Ibn Saud and his Wahhabi shock troops have much in common with the current pyromaniac puppet masters in DC. The program you watched sounds like a nice pilot for a fantasy themed mini-series. Could you see the strings during the interview?


@ Beeze
Here's a handy-dandy chartfor some perspective on several parameters,

@ Ish
have you read anything about the IEA Wrold Energy Outlook for 2008

Some commentary about the IEA WEO solar chart from Robert Rapier:

This figure suggests that by 2030, the cost for solar PV and CSP will still be higher than all other renewable technologies are today. And not just a little higher; solar PV is predicted to be twice as expensive in 2030 as hydro and onshore wind are today. So much for Moore's Law applying to solar PV.

I was surprised by the price projection - but I'm just a Joe on the street.


I think they're way off on the (future) cost of Solar PV. Due to its scalability, a great deal of the economics are tied to issues of consumer demand, which is now about to push manufacturing to a new level. I hope.


We owe it to ourselves to continue to explore the possibilities in solar power. The main reason is that any breakthrough would be a tremendous gain as it is probably the cleanest and most renewable of all resources. It is true that right now we cannot hope to use the present technology to shore up our electric grid - energy in the form of coal and oil are still relatively cheap for solar on a large scale to be attractive. However, in China they are already working steadily on solar power in hopes that it will cut energy consumption, reduce pollution, and possibly give their country a technological edge.
A couple of decades ago it was fashionable to do everything possible to make homes energy efficient but then something happened - cheap gas gave us amnesia and cars and homes became huge. Expert knowledge, as powerful and true as it may be, does not affect the lives and choices of scores of citizens when they are lulled into the belief that there will be no end to a wasteful lifestyle that makes us vulnerable to the plans of countries thousands of miles away who share few of our beliefs and do not really have our best interests at heart.
What is needed is more serious discussion of our plight and leaders, both in industry and government, who are willing to create a climate of innovation and inspiration.


@ Ishmael

A couple of decades ago it was fashionable to do everything possible to make homes energy efficient but then something happened

Can you be a bit more specific ? Fashionable ?

What is needed is more serious discussion of our plight and leaders, both in industry and government, who are willing to create a climate of innovation and inspiration.

Sure - you feel lucky ?

Look around wouldn't you consider the bailout a clue as to what exactly Business As Usual (BAU) is ?


@ scharrison

So much for Moore's Law applying to solar PV.

Did you miss that, from Robert ? Robert accepts the IEA WEO, apparently.

I think they're way off on the (future) cost of Solar PV.

Robert doesn't indicate why his acceptance but see below->


In recent years, global PV production has been increasing at a rate of 50 percent per year, so that accumulated global capacity doubles about every 18 months. The PV Moore’s law states that with every doubling of capacity, PV costs come down by 20 percent. In 2004, installing PV cost about $7 per watt, compared to $1/W for wind, which at that time was beginning to stand on its own feet commercially, Last, year, as recently noted in this blog, average global solar costs had come down to between $4 and $5 per watt, right in line with the PV Moore’s law. Extrapolate those gains out six or seven years, and PV costs will be below $2/W, making photovolatics competitive with 2004 wind.

Even with Moore's PV law,
they're waiting for a breakthrough.


Yeah, I caught that. But it seemed (to me) like he was saying, "I don't believe it but I can't argue with it."

Then again, that could be my reading perception skills again. ;)

They've actually come a long way in increasing the (power) conversion efficiency and reducing the cumulative damage from heat. Meaning, the currently available PV panels should last considerably longer after ROI is achieved.

I don't know if they're factoring in "free" electricity to the cost figures, but they should.


To answer your question:
In the last twenty years, the average size of a home has increased substantially. Before that time, houses were not only smaller, but inadequately insulated, poorly designed, and expensive to heat. New methods of construction and government incentives of the time allowed people to save money on their fuel bills, but unfortunately the size of homes grew so the savings were absorbed in the extra square footage.
At the time, solar grids were installed on rooftops to collect heat for hot water and government incentives help pay for them. Over the years the incentives evaporated, and solar and other energy saving ideas were no longer "fashionable".
I remember touring a home in Utah that during that time that used very little conventional fuel in the winter for heating - most of the heat was provided by a simple design that oriented the house and most of its windows toward the south. The heat rose and was circulated throughout the structure also by design. It was a large and comfortable home too.
I remember thinking that this was the home of the future. I thought in the future more of these homes would be available, but instead they were built only by those who could afford the extra cost (!) of the design and materials.
Someone needed to recognize a long time ago that energy controlled our destiny. There was a point those many years ago that the ball started rolling up that hill but wasn't able to make it to the critical point and fell back to where now we are having to start all over again.


@ Ishmael

Thanks for the reply. That's about the time frame I was thinking about.

There have been fleeting incentive programs and as you say fashionable attempts at energy saving designs.

My community college trades programs collectively build a house on campus to be sold on the open market. The houses have been built for several years with 2X6 exterior walls. I have been told that locally that is NOT standard. I also had HVAC/R alumni from Kansas tell me it's NOT standard their either.

I framed house and apartments in the late '70's for a few years. Standards have not appreciably risen in relation to energy issues - and you point out what has been done instead by buyers.

The choices will be changing more and more I believe. As a result, it is a market niche I am presently job searching within.


@ scharrison

In the case of that author, I read anything and everything he writes. I have for almost 2 years. What he writes about is directly related to my new career.

If he there was a factual basis for an disagreement he would make note, all other things remaining the same.

I'm just not able to get that deep into solar manufacturing issues, ATM.

Since I think it's an important lever bar to energy savings, I'll be keeping an eye out for the products out in the field in a hope to catch up.

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