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PV at 4 cents October 15, 2015

Posted by Maury Markowitz in solar.
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Image of a typical First Solar ground mount installation

The project will likely use FS’s unique thin-film panels.

During the summer, Warren Buffett’s NV Energy in Nevada signed a long-term power purchase agreement (PPA) for 20 years at 3.87 cents a kilowatt-hour. This is for PV generated by First Solar’s 100-megawatt Playa Solar 2 installation.

This means that FS is generating that power, including tax breaks, at less than 4 cents/kWh. Those breaks account for less than 2 cents. The Nevada Public Utilities Commission called the rates “very reasonable”, having outcompeted all other bids including NG turbines. Understatement indeed!

This isn’t the only example. NV Energy signed a similar deal with SunPower’s Boulder Solar at an equally eyewatering 4.6 cents only last year, and Dubai’s 200 MW plant, the first major one in the country, is at  5.85 cents, and the Saudi’s at 4.9 cents. The prices in those areas will go down as the supply chain improves.

Now of course all of these are in sunny locations with few clouds, which some will complain about. But that’s like complaining you build hydro where there’s a river. And prices continue to fall. Even if the US tax credits expire, which they will sooner or later, PV will compete even on the utility side of the meter pretty much anywhere south of the Mason-Dixon.

Does solar generate more waste than nuclear? No. June 18, 2015

Posted by Maury Markowitz in nuclear, solar.
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Picture of the star of Highlander

There can be only one!

As I noted in an earlier post, one of the things you often come across in the energy blogging world is that supporters of one technology attack others.

This example takes the cake. It’s a somewhat old article (archived here) that claims to demonstrate that solar power generates more waste than nuclear.

Update: a reader pointed out a rather obvious error, and when I checked against my original calculations I found a whole section was missing. Both fixed.


Biofuel vs. PV – stop drinkin’ the ethanol! June 13, 2015

Posted by Maury Markowitz in balonium.
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MacKay's biofuel graphic

MacKay’s biofuel graphic

David MacKay has made a name for himself as the green energy “reality man”, bringing what he suggests is a dose of reality to the new energy discussion.

For instance, in a recent TED Talk he suggested that biofuels are a hopeless alternative for transport. He uses a simple calculation to show you’d need a strip of land 8 kilometres wide beside the road to fuel the cars running on that road.

But we already knew biofuels are a bad solution. What happens when you consider a good solution? (more…)

Japan’s rapid switch to PV September 30, 2014

Posted by Maury Markowitz in power grid, solar.
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Kagoshima Nanatsujima PV plant

Kagoshima Nanatsujima PV plant

I came across this article mentioning that Japan has installed 11 GWp of renewables in the last two years. That’s not record-setting by any means (the US beats that), but definitely worthy of comment for a couple of  reasons…


Future grid: energy and transport September 16, 2014

Posted by Maury Markowitz in power grid.
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Do not open the door

I was watching the fairly silly Extant last night and saw a bit of tech that caught my eye; it was a burner cell-phone powered by a chemical reaction you started by twisting it like a glo-stick. It’s a little throwaway prop that I just love.

The reason I bring this up is that they also assume every car is electric. Nothing new there, but in this case they use an actual car instead of a made-for-TV model. Lots of Teslas and BMW i3’s.

And that got me thinking. What sort of overall effect is there on the grid if everyone starts driving electric? I know that electric cars use less power overall, but what sort of effect does that have on the big picture?

Well unless I’m doing the math seriously wrong, it looks like the answer is “bring it on!”


Hidden in plain sight: EIA highlights massive swing to renewables June 27, 2014

Posted by Maury Markowitz in power grid, solar.
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For many years the gold standard in energy reporting in the US has been the various EIA reports. Over the last five years though, it was clear something was going wrong. Renewables were part of the reports but always listed at high costs and low adoption rates. The numbers weren’t wrong, just outdated, as if you were reading a report from three years ago.

And this month’s report drives that home; the EIA has been predicting slow uptake of various renewables for some time now, and long predicted that it would reach about 13.5% of the electrical mix around 2040. However, the latest report, covering the first third of 2014, shows that renewables covered 14.04% of the electrical mix.