What happens when solar power is cheaper than grid power?

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Opinions on this vary, but it appears that sometime in the next ten
years, domestic solar power will have an unsubsidised cost that is below
the daytime domestic grid tarrif.

I need to be clear here what I mean by "unsubsidised". I mean that the
equipment can be bought and installed without a contribution from either
the government or the suppliers(s) of electricity. I'm also assuming
that customers will be able to net off their daytime electricity
consumption by selling their surplus solar power to the utility at the
same price as they'd buy it at that time of day.

There are arguments about whether such a framework is really
unsubsidised, but that's the definition I'm using here.

The subject is "what happens when...?"

At that point, rational consumers will install solar power systems.
Further, for those that cannot raise the capital, I would envisage
business moving in to install and lease the equipment to the consumer,
because it will be possible to let the consumer have electricity for
less than the grid price while providing a profit to the lessor.

So there should be solar panels on every domestic roof that receives
enough sunlight. The grid will only be supplying electrity during the
day when the sky is overcast. This affects the economics of the power
plant. In particular, I would anticipate a move away from combined cycle
(CCGT) natural gas generation to the less capital intensive, and less
energy efficient, generation plant.

That less efficient plant will produce more CO2 per kWh than the plant
that it replaces, but will produce less energy overall (since the solar
panels are producing some). I have to wonder how that pans out. Is the
CO2 purportedly saved by having the solar panels actually simply
tranferred to the outputs of the less efficient generators?

The cost of this less efficiently generated power is higher than that
produced by CCGT. Since that higher cost must be passed on to consumers,
it means that the unit cost of grid power during the day will go up,
thus further pushing the installation of solar panels.

Of course, that's based on unsubsidised solar panels with a simple
net-off of consumption. For some bizarre reason, governments still want
to help create the problem earlier than it would otherwise occur by
subsidising installation, and forcing retailers to pay more for solar
generated power than it's worth to the retailer.

I'm left wondering whether solar power is a mirage. Is it providing any
benefit whatsoever? Or is it a complete and utter waste of money,
regardless of whether CO2 emissions are a problem?

Sylvia.


Re: What happens when solar power is cheaper than grid power?
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yeh right.  they'll turn off the 24 hours generators during the day
to produce more CO2 while they wait for the solar panels to stop
working
and can turn on again to make less CO2.

everyone over a means test should be paying 10X quota for grid
electricity,
if you have the means you can provide your own electricity easily

the only drawback to solar is it takes 20-40 years to install more and
more panels,
they're on 5% of houses in 2010, 10% of houses in 2011, now 15% of
houses have panels.

the carbon electricity grid will just be a method to transfer power
from one house
to another - no power plants needed.


Herc

Re: What happens when solar power is cheaper than grid power?

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Er, I think the fact that they don't produce power when the sun isn't
shining is another drawback.

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And when it's cloudy? What then?

Sylvia.


Re: What happens when solar power is cheaper than grid power?
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Herc's brainfart theories based on a blend of naivity, stupidity and
ignorance fall in a stinking heap, as always.



Re: What happens when solar power is cheaper than grid power?
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Can you stop being an idiot?
If you stalk me in aus.electronics its the last aus group I'm posting
to.

Here is my 4 battery stack that runs a lot of things, flouro lights
all night
even though the solar panel angle is wrong for winter.

http://camaffiliate.com/4-20AH-GelCells.jpg

Doing a 100 page print job!

See the $80 regulator 20AMP.

With solar you just have to budget your usage.

Most appliances are 50W - 200W

It's only HEATING and COOLING that taxes the full 2KW installed in
houses.

Mind you I'll be upgrading to a $4K Amorphous System to run a
Microwave and 400W heater soon.

Herc

Re: What happens when solar power is cheaper than grid power?
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I'm not stalking you aywhere, you crosspost everywhere and I respond
depending where I'm reading it. You make it public, I can respond. That's
not stalking.

Stalking is what you did when you were convinced you were the son of God and
you thought you found your "Eve".

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If you used the same budgeting for grid power it would cost you less than
the money you have tied up in that setup. The ongoing costs (batteries don't
last all that long)would mean it would probably be no more cost effective to
use solar over the grid supply.

The money spent on the solar setup could earn you more interest over a year
than a fluoro and your low wattage short usage items would consume in $ off
the grid.

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4K buys a lot of power off the grid, especially if you economise it in the
same manner as you will have to using solar.

I'm considering using something similar for my workshop, but since I can get
a lot of bits and pieces for cheap or even free it's more economical to do
so as a fun hobby project.



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Your scenario is based on the assumption that electricity can not be
stored economically. Having batteries of such a scale will soon be more
common though, especially with ever more electric cars, the numbers will
make them cheaper. Lithium batteries are increasing in efficiency by
about 7%/year, and with panels getting ever cheaper even the low
efficiency NiFe type could be considered.

One has to wonder why large power plants based on solar and wind with
battery storage are not in the pipeline yet. Large renewable plants with
battery storage exist already at least in the US, Japan and China.
Example:
http://www.powermag.com/business/4410.html

Personally I'd prefer nuclear LFTR generation, at least for base load.
Shame that there is no hope though.

Tony



Re: What happens when solar power is cheaper than grid power?
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Part of the issue there relates to who would pay for them. Consumers
will not install them themselves while they can use the grid as a free
energy store, which is what the net-off amounts to. Disallowing net-off
would change the economics of solar panels such that the large scale
deployment wouldn't occur until the combination of batteries and solar
panels were a cheaper source of electricity than grid power. It's going
to a long while before that's true, the electric car developments not
withstanding.

But I think it would be a brave politician who'd disallow net-off
because most consumers would never understand the rationale, and would
feel (as they're ever willing to) that they were being ripped off.

The grid side of the equation wouldn't install batteries unless forced
to, because there are cheaper ways of supplying electricity -
particularly when one considers that those other ways still have to
exist to handle the not-uncommon situation where the sun doesn't shine
for days on end.

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The answer is that they're hopelessly uneconomic, and only get built
from political motives.

Sylvia.

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Apart from the solar issue, I reckon they should start a national grid
system followed by an international one. That would go a long way
towards solving the shortages in one area and taking the surplus from
the active areas. Costly I know but the longer it's left the more costly
it will become. The same goes for water.

R.P


Re: What happens when solar power is cheaper than grid power?

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Transmissin losses in both cases. You can shift electrical AC power
around and minimises the losses by bumping the transmission voltage. SFA
you can do with water, except pay monstrous power bills for pumping.



Re: What happens when solar power is cheaper than grid power?
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Sure of course there are losses in transmission but if you are wasting a
surplus that might help a bit to compensate. There are some very
efficient electric transmission lines about and pumping is not the only
way to move water although the most used I guess. You any relation to
Tony Abbot ?

R.P


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Pump during the day!   5KW solar rig every 100 meters should push a
few liters up a few miles.

Australia should be pumping salt water to the desert to cool some
nuclear reactors, then use the infrastructure in 10 years to pump
desalinated water there.

Not that I think nuclear power is necessary, but people like their
1000W games computers and such..

Giant salt lakes in WA would evaporate into rain for Eastern States..

Herc

Re: What happens when solar power is cheaper than grid power?
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hint, the riverbed doesn't think so.

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I've got the chair and popcorn. Post away with the information on other,
economically feasible methods of moving water.

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 > You any relation to Tony Abbot ?

Thank diety,I an not related to any current politician.

Re: What happens when solar power is cheaper than grid power?
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Ohh, for a moment there I thought you were Doctor No :-)
Ok so we might be able to do the electric bit, for the water I don't
profess to be an expert on all this but if there is the will, usually
there is a way.

R.P


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the only problem with solar is how to store the energy for 12 hours!

you can run a cable from Sydney to Brisbane if there's a cloud!

If people can't afford a $10K battery to run the aircon all night,

then the GRID can supply to surplus.

ALL AIRCONS should be MANDATORY RUN OFF SOLAR during the day.

You put $100MILLION solar panels just out of town on a few paddocks.

You heat a few megalitres of water or salt slew.

Thermal insulation gains with economy of scale.

VOLUME > SURFACE AREA
SIZE^3 > SIZE^2
THERMAL CAPACITY > THERMAL LOSS

as size increases.

That's one theory why Dinosaurs grew so big to combat the ice age.

You run a PELTIER GENERATOR or STERLING ENGINE or STEAM ENGINE at
night that taps the megalitre of hot water stored energy.

No battery needed.

Herc

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or wind up springs!

Herc

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An ice age, perhaps. They died out long long before the most recent one,
which is the one usually referred to as "the" ice age.

Sylvia.

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Looks like you have drifted off into fantasyland again...



Re: What happens when solar power is cheaper than grid power?
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Wot Rot!

If you can pay your power bill 3 years in advance you can go to Solar
and never pay a bill again!

You put a sheet of cardboard on your roof and get 100W for every 1m2!

Oh no!  the clouds!  the clouds!

What have you got your mums head in a cryogenic freezer in the
basement?

Herc

Re: What happens when solar power is cheaper than grid power?
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Graham, there are two entirely different situations.

The first, which is the one you're talking about, is where the
government subsidises your solar panels, and lets you treat the grid as
a free battery, and possibly pays you more for the electricity you
generate than it's actually worth.

The other is the real world, unmodified by politicians who think you can
legislate that one chicken be counted as two, where all of the costs of
acquiring power have to be paid by someone, not just some of them.

Sylvia.


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