Land Use Implications: the 600 foot high, 2.1 GW Hoover Dam is fed by a 247 square mile reservoir (Lake Mead). At a 50% capacity factor it produces about 1.2 kWh per square foot per year. By comparison a typical solar PV array generates about 10 kWh per square foot per year.
Michael K. Hopefully, before the bottom falls out, we can achieve unanimity regarding the fact that humankind is responsible for adding excessive amounts of carbon (as CO2) to the atmosphere with significant deleterious climate consequences. At that point the “what should we be doing question” comes to center stage. Your approach of “using energy wisely and efficiently to save money” is intriguing enough. How would one go about getting folks to buy in here, and how would progress and success be measured?
Anon - re: "massive energy input into PV cells..." It takes about 1.9 years of electricity output from a PV module to make up for the total energy required for its manufacture. 80% of that is in the mining and processing of silicon, aluminum and glass. All those ingredients can be recycled with minimal energy in the making of a new PV module. And, although the energy presently being employed to process materials for PV modules in China may count on coal, in the fullness of time it is reasonable to expect that Solar PV (or wind or other non-coal energy sources) will be utilized.
Michael K. re: "gloom and doom for solar PV, wind, etc...." At $2/watt installed (no fed tax credit or other subsidy) the direct cost of electricity production over the 25 year lifetime of a PV array is $0.05/kWh. Although it is not a slam-dunk, it is likely that there will be the development that will provide electricity storage.to the intermittent generators (solar PV, wind..) that will add maybe $0.025/kWh to the cost of dispatchable electricity. (Starting point BENCHMARK: automobile battery: $200.00, 1-kWh capacity, 2000 cycles; goes to; $0.10/kwh)..
I think this will change the game as you perceive it.
Anon - 6/1 What is a good way for the free market to account for a commodity, the production and/or utilization of which, has net negative societal effects?
A quite legitimate point worth pursuing; electricity is clearly at the center of all that we are about today.
At today’s prices the cost per kWh (as chemical energy content) as initially extracted from the environment is $0.007/kWh(ch) and $0.009/kWh(ch) for coal and natural gas, respectively. By the time these fuels get delivered, processed and burned they both result in a busbar cost of 4-5 cents per kWh (now as electricity). It is further the case that the carbon content per kWh of electricity generated is reduced by 40-45% when using natural gas rather than coal.
Is there a free market dimension that can help us move down the road here?
Very promising as presented. Much to be done. Great expectations. Curious as to what the difference is that leads to a projected 300-MW Siva Power factory vacuum-line cost of roughly $100 million to build, or $0.32/Watt in capital costs, compared to a 250-MW four-vacuum-line First Solar plant that costs three times as much?
The present $0.7/kW monthly APS charge is essentially a "tax" (works out to be about 5%) on the value of the energy residential PV array owners generate. As Holmes suggests, this is probably just the opening gambit providing the mechanism for future tax increases.
Is it too reasonable to go the following route?
If a residential solar PV owner generates a kWh of electricity and consumes it themselves, then there is no “tax“ owed to the power utility.
If the residential solar PV owner generates a kWh of electricity which they do not consume and place on the distribution line where it is consumed “down the street”, then the solar PV generator should, at least, receive as a credit the same amount that the utility pays for the generation and transmission of the carbon (or nuclear) fueled turbine-based electricity to distribute it to that neighbor down the street.
This simplified scheme neglects other less transparent “credits” that solar PV might be due. These will obviously be the subject of much future discussion/debate.
This is somewhat absurd; it amounts to a surcharge of $1.67/watt (27.8/5000*12*25) on the purchase of a residential system which costs $3.50 to $4.50/watt. Clearly, this changes the economics for any potential system buyer, making it very unattractive, and frankly, probably not worth it.
It may be useful to view the present $0.7/kW monthly APS charge as a "tax" (works out to be about 5%) on the value of the energy residential PV array owners generate.
Or, perhaps as a "surcharge" (as opposed to the recent utility "rebates" that went from $4.00/watt in the 2005 era to effectively zero by 2013,). The surcharge is $0.21/watt (as 0.7 [$/kw-month] * 12 [months/year] * 25 [years - the PV system lifetime]).
An alternative, albeit simplified, view regarding “charges” to residential solar PV owners by their partner utility follows:
1. If the residential solar PV owner generates a kWh of electricity and consumes it themselves, then there is no “tax/surcharge/fee“ owed to the power utility.
2. If the residential solar PV owner generates a kWh of electricity which they do not consume and is placed on the distribution line and consumed “down the street”, then the question is: what “credit” should the solar PV generator receive. It would seem logical that the solar PV generator should, at least, receive as credit the same amount that the partner utility would have pay to the generator and transmissioner of the carbon (or nuclear) fueled turbine-based electricity to distribute it to the neighbor down the street.
This simplified scheme neglects other less transparent “credits” that solar PV might be due and will continue to be the subject of much discussion and debate.
It is interesting to view the $0.7/kW monthly APS charge as a "tax" (works out to be about 5%) on the value of the energy residential PV array owners generate.
Or, perhaps as a "surcharge" (as opposed to the recent utility "rebates"). The surcharge is $0.21/watt (as 0.7 [$/kw-month] * 12 [months/year] * 25 [years - the PV system lifetime]). ]