Great analysis. You hit the nail on the head. The idea that 3rd party financing is the best alternative for everyone is frankly bullsh%^. Cash sales will also be more and more attractive as installed costs drop, rates increase, and risk declines. http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/guest-post-betting-on-the-decline-of-residential-solar-pv-financing
Thanks for the comment. I agree, it's not true in the absolute sense just for the mass market customer, for the average homeowner with a grid tied solar PV project, it's not directly displacing oil, but may be displaying nuclear, coal, hydro, etc depending on where it is.
Agreed on all your points. Especially for #3, there's a strong case for all electric homes with passive homes and using PV to supply the electricity to power a air source pump which double the output of the electricity. Because the load in these homes is so low, ground source and biomass tend to be too large.
Thank you for your comments. However, please do research before making comments. I'm talking about the massachusetts market. You can download the whole list of every solar pv installation in the state of MA here and I assure you 5.50/watt is not a high price (http://www.masscec.com/index.cfm/pk/download/id/13416/pid/11163). Yes, UK prices are much lower.
Again, thank you for your comment. All of these calculations were made in the calculation of the baseline building. Feel free to send me an email at email@example.com and I can share them with you.
Thank you for your comment. I have to disagree for New England. Look at the citations for solar pv costs, $5.50/watt is reasonable.
Regarding geothermal, the yearly COP of 3.75 is taking into account the small amount of time operating at COP of 1 for electric resistance. The analysis is assuming the heat pumps delivers 63MM BTU over a heating season, typically for the Northeast, at an average COP of 3.75. I have data on this from Ground Energy Support which monitors system in real time: http://groundenergysupport.com/.
I assure you, the numbers and my basic analysis are solid for it's purpose.
I agree, air source and biomass will be part of the mix. To say that they're the only real choice is nonsense.
Give me a call to discuss 800 393 2044 ex. 33.
There are a few data points I have that are in direct contradiction to what you're saying.
1 - GSHP do not have high failure rates. This is a myth.
2 - The power coil in GSHP has less impact then you think, it will run less in electrical resistance than ASHP. If you wanted, you can also run GSHP with Gas, if you have gas.
3 - Regarding demand side reduction for utilities, GSHP wins hands down. Here's a well done study by Western Electric Coop that found ASHP feel short on their EERs and didn't reduce peak demand for cooling as much as promised: http://www.geoexchange.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=6315:seer-vs-eer-for-utility-dsm&catid=376&Itemid=33
Not trying to have an argument. There is simply a substantial amount of misinformation about geothermal that is myth and not based on fact, "high failure rates" being one of them.
Thank you for the comment. To be blunt, no, that's not the point of the post! I don't think PV incentives should be stopped, reduced, or put into another source. I think they are a wise investment and make a lot of sense. The purpose of the article is to show that 1) if we agree that PV incentives make sense in the northeast then 2) thermal incentives make even more sense and should be invested in. Most of the debate around this has stopped because no one has put specific numbers to anything. This post is the first attempt to do that, and I'll be working on more in the future.
Again, this is a yes and conversation, not a solar PV bashing conversation. I sell solar PV projects for a living, and I own systems too. They're great.
I felt that I made this message clear in the article, sorry if I did not.
Just a quick thought. We should stop wasting time talking about the technology and start talking about implementing policy so we can stop wasting so much money on oil. That's the purpose of the article, not to discuss the finest points of technology efficiency, etc, etc.
PACE is too complex to explain to the homeowner and doesn't provide quality control on the design and installation.
Production based incentives are a better. FITs are the best.
Thank you for my comment. Without getting into technical issues, I think part of the reason solar PV seems to growing faster could be due to randomness. Perhaps the state of the CA market depended on a few swing votes that decided to go with PV.
From an "pure" (if you can define this) economices perspective the "product of raw energy / cost of installation" is INCREDIBLY higher for solar thermal. What does this mean? Adoption is not being hinder for technology efficiency reason, but for business efficiency reasons. The same sales person will make 4 to 5X more for the same work selling PV in attractive markets.
With that said, there are some EXTREMELY attractive solar thermal markets. I don't know about payback (it's a useless term in my opinion) but, as the report points out, the right customers (high water use, expensive fuel source) in the right market (the northeast, and southwest) will get 15%+ IRR on their investment. This is just amazing.
I also wouldn't discount small difference in the technology, that impact a companies decision by impacting how 'risky' they view the technology.
I agree, the PV industry has been much better at being extremely loud and associating just solar PV with solar. Also, the fact that solar thermal is a mature technology and solar PV is heavily subsidized is to the determinant of solar thermal and for a very simple reason. I'd argue in many ways how a sales person decides to spend their time drives residential adoption. It will take the same amount of time to sell a residential thermal and residential PV system, but the sales person makes a lot more money on PV. How to solve this? It's all about positioning, and finding the right customers in the right markets. Plumbers could, key word could, up-selling solar thermal but most plumbing shops aren't good sales people, as a rule of thumb.
Thank you for the comment. I'm familiar with Wagner's systems, I linked to the Secusol system in the in the article. I'm a fan of drainbacks because you can use them and size for solar space heating if the application permits. Also, you're claims about installed costs are backed up by the MA CEC Residential Water database. Link here --> http://www.masscec.com/masscec/file/CSHWR%20Awarded%20Project%20Database%2001_27_12%20for%20website.xls
It seems like you have some nice installations partners that are good business people, i.e. they know how to profile customers to find systems that are cheap to install and offset a lot of energy. Congratulations on this.
Also, I like your goal about costs. The benefit of SHW is on a residential level, if you're good, you can size a system with 90% accuracy is about 10 minutes.
Thank you to everyone else who commented, I don't have the time to respond to every point, but I feel they mainly fall into the "technical efficiency vs business efficiency" debate. For the most part, I only think the technical aspects of the system matter in as much as they impact the business aspect of the installation and the surrounding business. Incremental changes or advantages in technology will not be adopted unless the benefit is GREATER then the transition costs for a business (perceived risk, new training, etc). If a new technology is only 10% better it often doesn't matter (unless you're in a commodity market with HIGH volume) because it's difficult to change people's behaviors.