Clean Power

Published on February 5th, 2014 | by Guest Contributor


Goldman Sachs Enthusiastically Decides To Invest $40 Billion In Renewables

February 5th, 2014 by  

Originally published on SolarWakeup.

Goldman Sachs sees a transformational moment in renewables and plans to invest in excess of $40 billion by 2021. The motivation for Goldman is to create a return on the capital they invest for their firm and clients, but where will it be invested and how can the capital be to your benefit?

Goldman and peer banks are not new to solar investment. The top banks all have been very active investing in solar, a recent sample includes: Goldman Sachs ($500mm to SolarCity), US Bank and JP Morgan ($630mm to Sunrun), Bank of America ($220mm to SunPower), and Morgan Stanley ($300mm to Clean Power Finance).

This sample of capital was announced for project funds, much of which is going to the large expansion of the residential solar leasing market but these and many other banks are also looking to deploy capital into solar in every market segment. Every day, new capital is entering the solar space, looking for the ‘elusive’ good projects in residential, commercial and utility market segments. With all of this new capital coming into solar, much of it looking to deploy money in large funds within a set timeframe, solar companies are pushing hard to satisfy. This requirement to deploy capital rapidly is spawning the rise of solar startups that make the solar development and financing processes cheaper and faster.

Just recently, SolarCity and Vivint have acquired solar companies to make their capital deployment processes more efficient.  Since the start of the year, Mercatus has closed its Series A Venture round to make the deal sourcing and due diligence process faster while requiring less manpower. Making solar professionals more efficient is also the goal of startups like Folsom Labs, which launched a few weeks ago with their product Helioscope. This web-based software makes creating a solar layout an easy task which any business development professional can complete within minutes. Innovation in solar continues to center about increasing throughput to make the process more efficient in deployment capital.

While most of the announced big bank money will go to a relative few companies, many market participants will benefit financially from the upward pull.  Any innovation, that increases the speed of system deployment and/or lowers the costs per watt, will see interest at every stage of their growth. VCs are becoming much more active in early stage solar startups. Notable VC, Rob Day from Black Coral, tweeted, “Cleantech recruiters working overtime. LPs getting back into the sector. If the economy holds up, 2014 will be a great year for cleantech.” The Department of Energy SunShot Incubator Program also picked up some pace this year, with Round 8 awarding 16 companies the prestigious award.

When large amounts of project capital make its way into the solar market and large companies continue to acquire companies, the hype becomes a noteworthy trend. Smart ideas that enter the market with efficient use of capital get traction because the market will use every advantage possible to take part of this moment seen in solar today. Goldman Sachs and other banks are stating publicly what 140,000 solar market participants already know, solar is growing and will continue to expand. There has never been a better time to execute on your idea for making solar development and financing more efficient, take advantage of this “transformational moment.”

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  • CaptD

    Renewables and especially Solar (of all flavors) are now becoming much more mainstream, as in, “What took you so long to embrace going Green?”.

    Thankfully we are no longer seeing the many variations of “weirdo tree hugger” labels being used to describe all those that now are adopting Green technology, something which in the past, has also slowed down the shift in the marketplace from various forms of energy generation that ever more ratepayers now realize is dirty as compared to what is Clean Green and/or Renewable.

    A great example from our own past, is how the “Ice Men” that delivered and sold block ice for ice boxes tried to pooh-pooh the refrigerator when it was first introduced; now looking back, we can clearly see that it was all just a ploy to protect their market share, in the face of a fundamental change in the marketplace that made their own industry obsolete.

    Now Big Nuclear is now suffering with major market share loses because Fukushima has proven that nuclear can go BAD and when it does for any reason, it can affect a Countries economy, if not the health of the entire Planet. After Nuclear both Big Coal and Big Oil are next in line because they too have huge health issues surrounding their usage. Soon even Big Gas will be faced with the same fate as Big Nuclear, Big Oil, Big Coal and tall hose Ice Men of old, because Big Solar is not only here to stay, but is replacing an ever greater amount of what used to be their market share day by day!

    This is why we are now seeing so many forward looking US Utilities looking into establishing very long term contracts for the energy they provide in the hopes that they can extend their business as far into the future as they can, in order to protect their market share for as long as possible. This may help the Big Utilities in the short term but as ever more ratepayers add their own solar generating capacity, I foresee these same Utilities beginning to an early shuttering their own generation assets in the next few decades because their capacity is either no long needed and/or it simply cannot compete against modern future clean Solar’s ever increasing efficiency.

    • what does give us 2x better batteries mean? this thread makes my head hurt.

      • CaptD

        Felix ==> Twice the capacity as current batteries or another idea might be that new batteries would be half as expensive, so that designers could install TWO batteries instead of just one in eVehicles doubling the distance traveled before needing to be recharged, or some combination of both ideas.

        • So there are a few intricacies that need to be noted. Increasing energy density isn’t that simple cause we’ve been making batteries a long time and haven’t gotten that much better at them over the last almost 100 years. Moore’s law doesn’t apply here. Also there is a funny relationship between energy and power in the various chemistries. Making them cheaper is nice but not if they weight 8 tons. There are a lot of moving levers so willing it into existence is gonna be a tough strategy. But I like the enthusiasm. You and Bobert Wallace are perfect for each other 🙂

          • Bob_Wallace

            Let’s see, in 1991 18650 lithium cells were about 200 Wh/l and in 2009 Panasonic released an 800 Wh/l cell.

            Wh/kg were 88 in 1991 and the Panasonics are 265 Wh/k.

            One could say that that lithium cells “haven’t gotten that much better at them over the last almost 100 years”. But one would be wrong.

          • oh we are only looking at lion apparently. ya you pointed out cost not performance. If you’re talking specifically about lion batteries their performance has sort of increased but the 18650s are usually lithium anode so different from cathode prismatics and rate of improvement is questionable.

          • Bob_Wallace

            After you stated that batteries had not improved much in 100 years I pointed out that in less than 20 years one type of battery had managed to pack 4x as much capacity into a given amount of space. And about 3x as much per weight.

            I suppose I could also report that NiMH AAs went from 900 mAh to around 2900 mAh in a bit more than a decade.

            These are batteries on sale today.

            I said nothing about cost.

          • Kent.Carboy

            True, but NiMH batteries have limit life cycle, beside that they start to degrade within 5 years. Deep cycle batteries lead acid are still the best option out there for cost and storage.

            Vanadium redox have to be pumped in order to work, lots of computer control equipment to over look, not ideal for those looking for storage backup on/off grid.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Trojan recently released a much improved lead acid battery for off grid storage. I bought a dozen a few weeks ago.

            Again, the statement that batteries have hardly improved, however it was said, was incorrect.

          • Kent.Carboy

            That good news to hear, what the battery selling for, do you know what type of Trojan 6V or 8V? do you know if the Amp hour improved from 225amp/h?

            Looking myself to replace old rundown used T105 bought 15 years ago from old solar powered display mobile street sign set of 16 batteries, 3 of 6 volt kick the buck last week, have to replace all the set now given batteries been in operation for 23 years, the life cycle at the end, I try to cash in the old ones at the metel recycler.

          • Bob_Wallace

            They are Trojan T-105 RE. 6 volt ‘golf cart’ batteries with thicker plates indicated by the ‘RE’.

            225 amp hour. I paid $2050 including CA tax for 12. I did an online search for best prices and then called the local Trojan dealer. He was willing to beat the lowest online price by a few dollars.

            Here in the US we turn in our old batteries when buying new in order to avoid a recycle charge.

            I’m really surprised at your battery life. I’ve been getting about 7 years use out of a set of golf carts. The REs are rated for 4,000 80% DoD cycles so they should last me about 10 years.

          • Kent.Carboy

            Thank Bob for that information, that is a very good price you got for 16.2kw

            Only seven years out your batteries life cycle, what inverter and regulator have you been using?

            I moved away from the standard off-the-shelf solar regulators and inverters always had problems with the units frying-up.
            I’ve built my own inverter and powered load driven solar regulator. My own fast response solar power regulator which is expandable, I’ve pushed upward of 300amps or 7kw PV solar energy with temp control that handle any load I apply to it, something you just can’t find on the open market that can undertake such stressful loading.

          • CaptD

            Great to be able to “cobble something together” and have it out preform COTS. Salute ;^)

          • A Real Libertarian

            Here’s the website:


            Here’s the website for the specially designed RE batteries:


          • Kent.Carboy


          • A Real Libertarian

            You’re welcome.

          • Before you start using you fox news sound bite strategy think for a second. How many kwh has been shipped of what chemistry…. batteries have not improved much. NiMH is on its way and was barely used it terms of capacity shipped. Lets think applied knowledge here.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Are you incapable of saying “Oops, I was wrong”?

          • Cause Im not, look at capacity shipments by chemistry and its clear that of the batteries actually being used that could be utilized for large scale storage, we’ve not made a ton of improvement over time. Performance and cost are tied, just because its for sale doesn’t mean its being used. CONTEXT BOB!!! I’d ask you to apologize too but I’m not that kind of a person. ” 2x times better” very derek zoolander lol

          • CaptD

            Felix – As ever more invest in Solar (of all flavors) I look for not one but many new breakthroughs or “Solar cycles” which will further accelerate the shift to Solar and additional R&D.

            Remember that famous quote:
            Get me a lever and I’ll move the Earth

            The modern version is:
            Get me a low cost battery and I’ll power the Earth

          • what are your breakthrough shifts? I’d love to know because the characteristics of single double triple junction pv materials is well understood. the issue is the cost. ive written about investing in solar for a long time, it used to be short the cost trailing and long the cost leading panel manufacturers on an area normalized basis. then profits flowed downstream so I’m not sure that you’ll actually get any roi on manufacturing anymore. good luck though.

  • hahahaha exactly, i would have been impressed if this was 5 years ago. but saying you’re getting into renewables today is funny because its unavoidable congrats on making par?

    • haha, love that — “congrats on making par.” 😀

      • I have a particular disdain Goldmanut Sachs, they were instrumental in tanking the global economy but hurray they’ve decided later than republicans to stop hating renewables. I’m sure they’ve not put out press releases about their short positions against cleantech companies. So ya GS is awful.

        • CaptD

          I’m with you, the only bright thing is that now even GS cannot deny that Solar (of all flavors) is THE investment to tout…

    • Doug Cutler

      Huh . . . seems like I hit on some unintentional irony there. I was just going for the straight up Kermit the Frog reference. Still like your take on it. Anyway. I’m not too savvy with the hi finance. Question: If you’re Solar City are you thrilled to have Goldman Sachs in for half a bil or also a little nervous? Is this a level of redemption for GS or could they somehow screw up again and damage their own green investments further along?

      • Bob_Wallace

        When the big boys get into the game I figure we’re on our way.

        One of the most heartening things for me was when Deutsche Bank declared coal a “dead man walking” a few years back. When a very major investment bank says that coal is no longer a good investment then it’s time to celebrate.

        Likewise, when large banks start making large investments in renewables that’s a very good signal.

        • Ya but I’m not inclined to act like a battered spouse. I think everyone forgets these are the same groups that have no problem deceiving us in other markets and schemes. So ya this isn’t anything good, ignore them unless you like being treated like this. Then again I think most people would look the other way if written a sizable check so screw it. Like snoop lion once said, life aint nothin but bitches and money. I like the precedent ya’ll set, makes me hopeful for the future?

          • Bob_Wallace

            I don’t look at it that way,

            I look at most corporations being driven by the desire for profits. Most need regulations to keep them in line. They are what they are. Corporations are by neither moral or immoral. They operate within the boundaries we set (and enforce).

            If these amoral entities are turning away from fossil fuels and turning toward renewables I see that as a good sign. A very good sign.

          • not a good sign, a very bad sign that we are still dependent on them. We would be living in a different world if we didn’t go through the 2008 housing market crash by in large part due to GS. We could probably own solar manufacturing domestically and dominate the up and down stream markets. Furthermore GS has massive positions in oil/gas. So no, this is a very very very bad sign that we still take it on the chin like suckers.

          • Bob_Wallace

            A world in which there are no large corporations nor large financial institutions is not something we are likely to experience.

            And, IMHO, there is nothing wrong with large corporations and institutions as long a they are adequately regulated. There is an efficiency that comes with size.

          • Doug Cutler

            Human beings, even the best of us, are seldom 100% rational, neither 100% insane. You gotta think a there has to be a few greedy capitalists still enough in touch with reality to read the Clean Tech writing on the wall. The insurance industry, for example, is compelled to look further into the future than others; don’t we see a greater urgency to address climate change there? Also, if we ARE entering a transitional phase, wouldn’t we expect to see some degree of parallel investment in clean and dirty tech in the same portfolios?

          • Bob_Wallace

            Sure. There’s going to be money made in oil for a while longer. It’s going to take 10 to 20 years to significantly cut oil use for personal transportation. Lower production cost wells and refineries will be profitable for some time.

            Coal, things are getting tight. Coal will be the first to go. It’s probably time to start getting out of coal. Unless you’re the low cost provider.

            As for getting into renewables, it’s early. There will likely be a lot of companies that start and fail.

            I don’t think it would make sense to put more than 10% of your money in renewables at this point. And only then if you are young enough to recover if you make all bad choices.

          • Doug Cutler

            First coal, then oil, then natural gas. It will still take several decades and a lot of climate change damage but we just may muddle through.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I expect the transition to accelerate.

            Give us about 2x better batteries and EVs will take off. Cost seems to be only a matter of manufacturing scale. Make EVs functional for all driving and sales will flip over quickly. Once sales switch to mainly EVs ICEVs will disappear quickly.

            Wind is likely going from the current ~ 5 cents per kWh down to around 3 cents. Solar is on its way to $1/watt. That sort of competition will start to force fossil fuels off the grid. Worn out thermal plants won’t be replaced with new thermal plants.

            The Arctic sea ice is likely to melt out prior to 2020. That will be a major eye opener for many.

            Weird weather is likely make many people push for faster progress in eliminating fossil fuels.

            Between dropping costs and increased motivation I think we’re going to get very, very busy. Remember how quickly cell phones and the internet became universal once we crossed the threshold?

            I’d hazard to guess that ten years from now we’ll be very much into a rapid change over and twenty years from now we’ll largely be doing cleanup, getting rid of the last remaining fossil fuel plants.

          • Doug Cutler

            Yes, there’s a plot that suggests linear advance in technology generates exponential growth in market.

            As for solar PV, are you talking 1$/watt manufactured or installed? I thought we were already pushing 50c manufactured on our way to 36c in 2 or 3 years, or is there some catch with that like market lag?

          • Bob_Wallace

            $1 installed. When Secretary Chu predicted this a couple years back I thought it unlikely but prices are moving low rapidly.

            Germany is installing at $2/watt which is a blended average including residential rooftop, commercial and utility so some of the systems must be under $2.

            The UK is installing utility for under $1.60/watt.

            According to Deutsche Bank utility scale is being installed in Italy for around $1.30/watt.

            China is hooking it up for $1/watt. $1.03 is, I think, the number I’ve seen.

            I suspect we’re under $2/watt for utility in the US but I haven’t seen any proof of that yet. Greentch Media reported the utility average at $2.04/watt in Q3 2013. I’d bet some of the numbers are under $2.

            Production cost for panels is around 50 cents and manufactures are predicting 35 cents in about three years.

          • Doug Cutler

            The lower you go the harder it gets as you start bumping up against some rather fixed peripheral costs like labor, cabling, racking etc. Any gains still to be had in those areas?

            Of course, the 1$/watt target would be significantly higher the true cost of carbon were accounted for in the first place.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I’d always assume that someone will figure out how to save a penny or two on racking/wiring sorts of stuff. I think a rack where the bottom rail serves as conduit and panels simply plug into the wire run might be a way to cut labor.

            Something like hook the panels over the top rail and snap them down on the bottom. As quick as they could be handed to the person doing the installation they’d be racked and wired.

            But in the US it’s not labor that is holding prices up. Customer acquisition is way too high as is paperwork/permitting. That’s where our easiest savings should be found.

            If China is installing for $1/watt and the cost of panels is going to drop 15 cents then we should be able to get close to China’s cost in a few years.
            Also we’re likely to see “robots” doing a lot of the utility scale labor in coming years. There are already machines that pour the footings/ballast and set the rack mounts. And machines that install (but don’t wire) the panels.

            $1/watt for utility scale. Something a bit higher but under $2/watt for rooftop. Solar so cheap that it will significantly damage coal and nuclear generation. And with cheap wind taking away the late night market there are going to be a lot of stranded assets.

          • CaptD

            Other reductions in the overall cost of Solar will result in Solar becoming an ever better deal, even if installation costs tends to flatten out.

            One example is providing a better more cost effective way to store what you generate, because this would make installing Solar more cost effective over the next 30 to 40 years of the Solars expected life span.

            I see panel life spans increasing, which will make solar payback charts look even better for all potential investors.

          • CaptD

            I agree 100%.

            If one of the new formulations for high capacity batteries contains something other than rare earth materials, then the resulting boom in battery technology will indeed transform the Solar industry, the personal electronics marketplace and probably many others, like the discovery of transistors did when they started to replace vacuum tubes in ever greater numbers!

            If the US Gov’t. were smart, they would be pushing Battery R&D as a National Priority, because that would fundamentally change the way store and use Energy!

          • Richard

            It is going to take more than just one 2X in batteries for EVs to take off although I do think that the 2X in cost (halving of the price) might happen before the end of the decade. We also need to see half the weight and twice the capacity. Then they will be able to replace ICEVs for many uses. However, don’t expect ICEVs to stand still. Totally new engines may hit the streets before the end of the decade and if fuel cell vehicles become available, expect that Hydrogen ICEVs will also appear. And somewhere down the line, synthetic gasoline and Diesel oil will start to be produced.

            While I can see that the price of wind turbines may continue to decline a little, I don’t understand why you say that wind power would be sold for less than the market value of electricity unless you think that it wouldn’t be worth as much as baseload power.

            I hope that worn out coal plants are replaced with natural gas or advanced nuclear.

            As you should know if you have been reading, weird weather in the Northern Hemisphere Temperate Zone and the melting Arctic sea ice are related. Recent science states that the cause is soot pollution, or more technically Carbon aerosol emissions. This means that Arctic sea ice isn’t going to melt out because new first year ice continues to freeze. But, it is much thinner.

            I hope that people get the message that soot pollution is what we need to take action about in the near future and that something is done.

            I think that ten years from now people will realize that renewables have not grown like some people think that they will. Yes, they will grow exponentially, but the actual amount won’t be much as a percentage of out total electricity use and by that time people will have realized that James Hansen was correct that if we are are going to replace fossil fuels that we will have to use nuclear power — advanced nuclear power. That includes all energy uses not just electric power. There are many energy uses where I don’t see how renewables could possible replace fossil fuels but a high temperature reactor could easily do so. Is that what you had in mind by the remaining fossil fuel plants? How do you produce Portland Cement with renewables?

          • Bob_Wallace

            Twice the capacity is all we need. That will give a ~200 mile range EV which, along with rapid charging, makes it practical to drive an EV all day long. Someone driving an EV 500 miles would get to their destination only a few minutes later than someone driving an ICEV.

            Less weight would be nice, but not necessary.

            Hydrogen will have a significant cost disadvantage. It takes twice as much electricity per mile to drive a H2 FCEV. Then to that 2x per mile cost add in the cost of a hydrogen infrastructure.

            Our coal plants are likely to be replaced by a combination of wind, solar and natural gas. Natural gas because it has low capital cost, is quick to install and is dispatchable. As time goes on the NG will likely be replaced with storage.

            I think you need to brush up on your Arctic sea ice information. Unless something very unexpected happens we will see our first summer meltout before 2020 and some ice scientists calculate that once the first meltout occurs we’ll see year round melting of the Arctic seas starting in a decade or so.

            Hansen is almost certainly wrong about nuclear. He clearly is wrong when he says that only nuclear can replace coal. When he says that he demonstrates that he’s stepped outside his field of knowledge.

            Nuclear is too expensive and takes too long to install. It’s too hard to site.

          • Richard

            A car that could go 200 miles on a charge would be satisfactory for most uses, but still not a complete replacement.

            There are other ways to make Hydrogen. They will clearly be necessary for FCEVs to be practical.

            The “Climate Change” cabal continues to believe that the Arctic sea ice is melting due to Global Warming. But, as I stated, what I read on the NASA web site and in published papers is that it is the older Arctic sea ice that is melting and that there is a higher percentage of new thinner ice. The major cause of this melting appears to be soot pollution. It is also the main cause of melting glaciers. It should be obvious as you can see it on the glaciers. If this research is correct, it is the melting of the ice that is warming the Arctic rather than the Arctic warming and causing the ice to melt. So, that would mean that we have about reached the limit where new ice will continue to form and then melt as it ages and collects soot. However, if the pollution from China gets worse the melting could increase. What do I mean if. China is still building more coal plants despite the renewables and nuclear.

            Do you really think that James Hansen and his three fellow environmentalists relied only on their personal knowledge when they wrote their letter about nuclear power. No, they talked to experts in that field of knowledge.

            I think that you are making the mistake of defining nuclear as being what exists in the US now. Dr. Hansen, et al didn’t make that error. He was talking about HTGRs and Generation IV nuclear — advanced nuclear. So, how long does it take to install a General Atomics GT-MHR. You dig a hole, build the concrete vault for it. Then the two pieces are brought to the site by transporter and a crane places them in the concrete vault. Would this take over a year?

            Yes, we know that NRC regulations quadrupled the cost of standard LWRs in the United States. The next generation (III) AP1000s are going to reduce that somewhat but we can’t be sure until the SC’s go into operation in 2017 and 2018 as scheduled. I understand that the NRC delayed the construction permits so they may be a few months late.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Please explain why a 200 mile range EV won’t be good enough.

            There are at this time no cheaper ways to produce hydrogen. Obviously some unknown unknown could appear and change the game but if we want to predict then we need to use technologies which have been proven.

            Pay attention to ice volume, not area or extent. Ice has three dimensions.
            The reason more surface freezing is observed is because more of the surface is melted away at the end of the season. That first year ice is thin and largely melts away in the following thaw.

            Clearly Hansen did not talk to, or at least did not listen, to those who could have described to him how we can power our grid with renewable energy. How we can do it cheaper than with nuclear. How we can do it faster with nuclear. And how we can do it safer than with nuclear.

            Like your hypothetical ‘other ways to make H2’ the Gen IV nuclear stuff is hypothetical. If/when someone manages to make some of it work we can take at look at the cost and see if it makes sense to use it.

          • ingot

            Well, obviously, if you want to drive more than 200 miles.

            Dissociation of water by heating it is not an unknown method. It is a proven technology. Its cost is dependent on the cost of the heat source.

            I don’t see figures for ice volume. The NASA figures are for area.

            Yes, I am sure that he has listened to those people. He has also listened to engineers. The people that you are talking about are not engineers. The engineers have explained to the group that he represents why the people that say that we can power our grid with renewables are wrong. I say that because he has been quite specific in saying that this will not work.

            The most important point is that we can not do it faster with renewables than we can with nuclear. I realize that Greens believe that it can be done faster with renewables but they have made a false assumption based on the fact that 5 kW of solar PV can be installed faster than 1.1 GW of nuclear power.

            Yes, a HTGR would be a good source of heat to make Hydrogen by dissociation of water. Do you understand that HTGRs have been built and that gas cooled reactors are operating in the world today. Also there are liquid metal cooled fast breeder reactors in the world. Just because these things are not in the US does not mean that they do not exist. Do you understand that to build these in the US requires the NRC approval and that they are not even ready to start considering doing that.

          • Bob_Wallace

            If you want to drive more than 200 miles in a 200 mile range EV then you stop at a L3 charger, grab another 180 miles in ~20 minutes, eat/pee/check your messages while charging an go on your way.

            Two stops and you’ve driving more than 500 miles. That’s about the same number of stops one would make in a gasmobile. The EV driver might arrive a few minutes later but would have saved money on “fuel”.

          • Bob_Wallace

            “I don’t see figures for ice volume. The NASA figures are for area.”

            I have a small pond outside my window. It freezes over several times each winter. Ice area (and extent) go to 100%. But that is not a full measurement of the ice. Ice is three dimensional. Thinner ice melts easier than thick ice.

            Here is the Arctic sea ice volume graph. Volume = all the ice, not just the surface area of the ice.

          • ingot

            Interesting chart although I don’t understand the totally invalid curve fitting.

            I really think that all water ice has the same melting characteristics although obviously a thinner sheet of ice is going to melt through quicker. Although, as I said, the surface emissivity is going to be affected by what is on it.

          • Bob_Wallace

            “Totally invalid curve fitting”? That’s simply math. The best fitting exponential curve.

            An exponential curve better fits the data than does a straight line or a Gompertz curve. It may be that as we more closely approach zero the curve may taper off in Gompertz fashion. Or we may see a single year crash out. That level of prediction is beyond the data now available

            What’s not shown in this volume curve is another very important measurement of the ice – quality.

            Much of the current ice is unlike the ice of old. It has lower structural integrity. It’s getting difficult to find solid ice on which a summer ice lab can be postioned. The Russians had to do an emergency evacuation of their lab last summer when the flow they picked broke up. The captain of one of the ice breakers described what he expected to be sheet ice as “rubble”.

            The ice seems to be cracking earlier and more extensively which allows heat to escape from below and increase surface temperatures.

            This is not your father’s ice.

          • ingot

            How do you know that there aren’t other curves that better fit the data?

            In this case, even linear regression would be questionable since it would predict that the ice volume would become less than zero.

            Obviously the naive people that did this have never taken an engineering statistics class in college.

            What you say about the ice appears to be quite correct. However the volume is still not going below zero and curve fitting should be done with a curve that doesn’t go below zero. One that accelerates toward zero is especially egregious.

            With a short time series like this, it is also very important not to mistake a small part of a cycle for a trend. Another thing that I was taught in engineering statistics and also by my physics instructor.

            So, perhaps a sine wave or the epidemic curve would be a better choice for a curve.

          • Bob_Wallace

            “a false assumption based on the fact that 5 kW of solar PV can be installed faster than 1.1 GW of nuclear power”

            I assume you’ve made an error in your post? I’ve installed a kW of solar, by myself, in one day.

            There’s no doubt that solar can be installed much, much faster than nuclear. Large solar farms are brought on line within a year of start of construction. Because solar requires no specialized training (no experienced nuclear engineers) many more sites can be constructed at one time. Solar takes only routine construction skills.

            As far as approval for Gen whatever reactors in the US, until some company decides it would make sense to build one and proposes it we have no idea whether it would be approved or not. Right now the nuclear industry is not pushing the idea because the math appears to not work.

          • ingot

            OK, so how long would it take to complete a 50 square mile solar PV farm? Some of a large solar farm will require electricians and electrical/electronic engineers to complete.

            Do you live under a rock? And, why do you make things up when you have no idea of what the facts are?

            General Atomics and the DOE are currently trying to obtain approval for the GT-MHR which is a Helium cooled Small Modular Reactor. GA and Rosatom were also planing to build a prototype in Russia and although I recently read about US tests of the fuel, it is possible that GA has given up on US approval. The math works, it will be cheaper than coal.

          • Bob_Wallace

            There are almost no tasks in solar farm construction that can’t be done by an ordinary construction worker with only a few hours of training. Pouring footings. Bolting racks together. Snapping panels on racks. Hooking up wiring harnesses.

            The big electrical jobs are easily done by the sort of electricians who connect large buildings every day.

            It would take us a decade to educate a new generation of nuclear engineers and construction experts and give them enough experience to allow them to build a reactor.

            Now, what does “cheaper than coal” mean? New coal is not cheap, it’s probably more expensive than new nuclear due to fuel cost. Old coal is not cheap if one includes the external cost of coal.

            Are you saying that once paid off these Gen IV reactors would produce power cheaper than a paid off coal plant? That is likely due to lower fuel costs. But before a reactor can be paid off it’s going to have to operate for a couple of decades in a market where it has only expensive power to sell.

            Will someone develop a SMR that can be pumped out of factories on the cheap? Possibly, but we’re at least a decade away from finding out if that’s possible. Got to build one first and test it for a few years.

            Then there has to be a market developed. Building a few dozen of something does not create economies of scale. In order for SMRs to reach minimal cost they need to sell hundreds/thousands.

            I fail to see adequate numbers of “neighborhoods” that will allow a nuclear reactor in their back yard.

            And remember, ten years from now onshore wind is likely to cost three cents per kWh, solar should be around five cents, offshore should be reaching five cents and tidal/wave may be player.

            Who will buy the first 100 SMRs needed to get the process rolling at the sorts of prices the first 100 will have to sell for?

            Westinghouse just said that they see no future for SMRs. You trust Westinghouse or the Russian government?

          • ingot

            Yes, you are correct, there are only a few engineers on a construction job and they are the supervisors. They don’t do the work. It is the same with a nuclear power plant. They are not built by nuclear engineers. Engineers only supervise and most of them aren’t even nuclear engineers but rather civil engineers.

            It would take us a decade to educate a new generation of nuclear engineers and construction experts and give them enough experience to allow them to build a reactor.

            These are just regular construction skills but it is true that the US is lacking is these skills but it doesn’t take a decade to educate construction workers, more like a year or two. We clearly have some of them since 4 AP1000 reactors are being built now.

            I am not sure what the slogan “cheaper than coal” means considering the rather high EIA estimate for new coal plants. I think that they mean the current cost of cost of coal power. They certainly aren’t including the external costs or current nuclear would be cheaper than coal.

            Yes, a paid off HTGR (e.g. the GT-MHR) would produce power for less than a paid off coal plant. It would burn part Thorium which is basically free and run at 50% efficiency.

            Building SMRs would be like building large airplanes, not like building automobiles. Large volumes would not be needed to achieve economies of scale in the assembly. Economies of scale would be achieved mostly in the component parts. Other economies would be achieved from being plant built rather than being site built.

            If they are going to directly replace polluting coal plants, there are probably a lot of neighborhoods that would be glad to have one.

            So, if it is like airplanes, what they would need is 100 orders and then the price would be the ultimate price. The 2003 estimate was $975/kWe for the GT-MHR.

            You appear to have misunderstood Westinghouse. They canceled a specific program. The SMR was a LWR and I presume that they canceled it because they did the math and felt that they could not produce it at a price where it could compete with the AP1000 on power prices. However they then announced another SMR.

            The Generation IV GT-MHR is a project of a consortium led by General Atomics. Rosatom is only a member of it. However, although Rosatom is still a state owned company, if you have read the news you would see that they are doing quite well. They are selling reactors all over the world.

          • Bob_Wallace

            “Yes, I am sure that (Hansen) has listened to those people. He has also listened to engineers. The people that you are talking about are not engineers. The engineers have explained to the group that he represents why the people that say that we can power our grid with renewables are wrong. I say that because he has been quite specific in saying that this will not work.”

            Obviously Hansen has listened to people who have told him that the only way to power our grid without fossil fuels is nuclear. Obviously those people were either ignorant or lying.

            To power our grid with nuclear would mean installing a lot of storage so that we could match supply to demand.

            In order to power our grid with renewables we would need to install storage to move supply to demand.

            Both nuclear and wind/solar need storage. Both, with enough storage, would work to power our grid.

            We have our first 100% solar grid on the island of Tokelau. Solar and storage provide all the electricity. (We already had 100% renewable grids using hydro.)

            There is no shortage of wind/solar/hydro/tidal/wave/biomass/biogas power.

            Hansen is clearly 100% wrong.

          • ingot

            So, now we resort to the standard Leftist method of personal attacks and insults when you have no rational argument. Well, I take this as an admission of the fact that you have no rational argument.

            I see that you didn’t read Hansen’s letter since you are guessing about what he said. He said what I said that he said that it wouldn’t work to replace fossil fuels with all renewables.

            And, you bring up the Red Herring argument that you obviously copied from an anti-nuclear site about nuclear needing storage. This is a Big Lie. You keep saying it but that doesn’t make it true.

            The first goal is to replace all of the coal fired power plants with nuclear power plants. The coal plants don’t need storage so the nuclear plants that would replace them wouldn’t need storage. Is that simple enough for you? If this was going to be done with all large capacity plants, it is true that we would need slightly more extra generation capacity in order to have the extra grid capacity needed.

            And then you come up with another irrelevant cherry picked example. How do you expect to scale up a small pacific island of 1400 to the USA? How many years would it take?

            There is no shortage of wind/solar/hydro/tidal/wave/biomass/biogas power.

            It is obvious that you do not understand that although there may not be any shortage of these energy sources that there isn’t enough of the infrastructure needed for people to use them and that it will take some time to produce it. That is what Hansen found out by doing some research and it is obvious that you do not know or understand it yet. You just live in a dream world — the dream world that many Greens live in.

          • Bob_Wallace

            ” He said what I said that he said that it wouldn’t work to replace fossil fuels with all renewables.”

            I read it very soon after he said it. When the press first reported it. He was wrong when he said it and he’s still just as wrong today. As are you.

            Now, nuclear not needing storage. Let’s build a simplified grid with nothing but nuclear. Assume a grid that needs an average of 2 GW supply but, like most grids has a significant difference between peak and off-peak demand. At peak the grid needs 3 GW but at off-peak 1 GW.

            Two ways to deal with this. Build 3 GW of load following nuclear or build 2 GW of “baseload” nuclear and enough storage to move power from off-peak to peak.

            Storage is likely to be cheaper than load following with plants which are still paying off their construction costs.

          • ingot

            Actually Bob, to clarify this, he has said that it wouldn’t work to replace fossil fuels with all renewables because it would take too long — because we don’t have enough time.

            First note that I was talking about first replacing coal with nuclear.

            Second, there is a large difference between determining what might be cheaper and saying that something is “needed”. You are confused again.

          • Bob_Wallace

            James has it backwards.

            We can build large wind farms in one to two years, bring sections of them on line in months.

            We can build large solar farms in months. Large commercial rooftop arrays in days.

            We have the trained workers to build massive amounts of wind and solar at the same time.

            This is ground we’ve plowed before.

          • ingot

            And, you are making the same logical error. You are presuming that because it would only take 2 years to install One 4 GW solar farm that this would scale. The problem, and James Hansen’s point, what he found out by doing some research, is that it will not scale.

            I note that I doubt that it could be done in 2 years.

            Greens make the logical error of presuming that because it takes longer to install individual nukes that it will take longer to install a lot of nuke capacity. But, you can build 100 of them at the same time. Can you build 400 GWs of solar in the US in 8 years? But, that is only 1/3 enough to replace coal.

          • A Real Libertarian

            “Can you build 400 GWs of solar in the US in 8 years?”


          • ingot

            Where do you get the panels?

          • A Real Libertarian

            From solar panel factories.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Of course solar will scale.

            It took us only two years to bring two more silicon processing plants on line, We could bring 10, 20 , 40 more on line in a couple of years if we needed them

            It takes less than a year to bring a new solar panel plant on line. We could create as much production as we desired. Silicon, glass and aluminum are not limited.

            It takes only a few hours (an hour or less?) to train someone to bolt racks together. To snap panels to racks.

            China installed 12 GW of solar in 2013. That’s 3x your “can’t do 4 GW in two years”/whatever.

            You really need to understand that we do not have the ability to build many nuclear reactors at the same time. Try doing some research and find out how limited our trained and experienced work force is. Take a look at the problem of an aging workforce both in the US and France.

            It seems you have bought into the nuclear myth. You simply don’t seem to have taken any time to confirm the claims made.

          • imgot

            Before I answer any more of your comments, tell your attack dog not to call me a “moron” again especially when he is wrong and I am right.

            I would appreciate it if you would reopen the other page and require that he apologize and remove the insult.

            Sorry if I flagged the wrong post in error, but an insult like that is certainly a proper reason for flagging a post.

          • A Real Libertarian

            1. I’m an attack cat

            2. You can’t figure out things change over time, that makes you a moron.

            3. The ban is for socking, learn what you’re talking about and no one will know that’s you.

          • CaptD

            Nuclear Energy should also be added to your list of what is no longer going to be seen as an acceptable way to generate energy since it is not clean “cradle to grave” and can turn into a Trillion Dollar Eco-Disaster if something goes BAD for any reason under the Sun.

          • Doug Cutler

            We’ve had a fully functioning fusion reactor all along. Its called the sun.

          • CaptD

            Yes and that is the ONLY reactor that has proven itself as a long term energy source, at least as long as there are no large solar flairs or similar issues… ;^)

          • Richard

            The Sun is actually a very dangerous reactor. It is only the Earth’s electromagnetic shielding that keeps us safe from the dangerous radiation that it emits. Mars lost its shielding and the results weren’t good.

            This is intended as humorous.

          • Bob_Wallace

            The Sun is a very dangerous nuclear plant that is adequately sited.

            Were there a way to build additional nuclear plants and position them that far away from us then we wouldn’t need worry about them melting down.

            But since the Sun gives us far, far more electricity than we could possibly use we’re in the very fortunate position of not needing more nuclear.

            We good with what we’ve got….

          • Richard

            We use fossil fuel for things other than transportation and electric power. How can we use renewables for those?

            So, we really do need nuclear, but not LWRs. We need reactors that aren’t water cooled, ones that can’t melt down, and, preferably, are walk-away safe.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Nuclear is simply a heat source. We use it to boil water.

            We know how to make electricity without boiling water.

            We have other ways to make heat when we need heat.

            The things we can’t (yet) do with electricity such as flying planes can’t be done with nuclear energy.

          • A Real Libertarian

            “The things we can’t (yet) do with electricity such as flying planes can’t be done with nuclear energy.”


            Long story short, the people who brought you Project: Nuke the Moon, the Cyborg Spy-Cat and thought they could overthrow Castro by poisoning his beard decided it was too crazy.

            Just think about that for a second.

          • ingot

            Yes, nuclear powered jet engines. Seriously strange, isn’t it.

            But, that is where the Molten Salt Reactor came from.

          • CaptD

            RE: “The things we can’t (yet) do with electricity such as flying planes can’t be done with nuclear energy”

            Bob, I bet you are old enough to remember how the concept of nuclear powered aircraft was at one time pushed by the nuclear industry just like using nuclear power for Marine Shipping like the USS Savannah which proved far to expensive to operate and is now being used as a museum in South Carolina.
            I think that Solar (of all flavors) will actually be used to “fly airplanes” and I’m not just talking about powering small ones with large PV covered wings directly by the use of Solar. I believe we will soon see a new generation of large transport aircraft that will be “Solar powered” in that they use some form of “new” fuel like Liquid Hydrogen or something yet to be developed that is not only clean burning (unlike Jet A fuel) but also has a high energy to weight ratio that is be initially converted via Solar power before used as a fuel by the aircraft. Another key factor is the idea of using something other than Jet A fuel is the concept of a new generation of large transportation aircraft or “powered glider” that uses something like a specially designed tow aircraft and/or even a large Solar powered “rail gun” to catapult (like used on US Navy Aircraft Carriers) these new lighter airliners up to their required flight speed. This would allow them to safely climb out, cruise and then descend for landing, all flight elements which have far lower energy requirements than having to provide their own take off power. By designing these aircraft with much less powerful engines that only require smaller fuel tanks, the huge weight savings would allow them to carry more passengers (instead of fuel) providing much higher efficiency. Future airports will have longer runways and be far quieter since most noise generated by current “traditional” aircraft is made during takeoff not landing.

          • ingot

            That, Liquid Hydrogen powered jet engines, has been tried already too. Rather expensive and also expensive because the fuel tank needs to be in the fuselage rather than in the wings so it cuts down on cargo space.

          • ingot

            We can make electricity without boiling water, it is called the gas turbine or the Brayton cycle. There is also the esoteric MHD and variants of it related to fusion.

            What would these other ways to make heat be? Would they be suitable for making Portland Cement? That is the main use of coal besides electric power and coke for smelting iron. Natural gas can be used to produce iron from ore but it is a chemical reaction so I don’t know of a substitute for fossil fuel.

            I hate to be picky, but isn’t flying planes “transportation”?

          • CaptD

            N☢, we really do not need nuclear power plants (NPP)!

            Imagine if the UN declared NPP’s illegal today. We would then “shift” to a non-nuclear power plant future and the people of Earth would then start to become safer than they are now decade by decade, as every more existing NPP got decommissioned. This would be a fundamental change to mankind’s safety, just like if the UN outlawed all “NUKE” weapons and all Nations agreed …

            Once free from the RISK, WASTE and COST of using nuclear power to generate energy, the advancement of Solar (of all flavors) would then be accelerated by at least two orders of magnitude because mankind would then be focused on advancing the use of Solar energy. Then the dream of almost free Energy would be much closer to becoming a reality as less expensive Solar costs would provide ever more people with ever more low cost Energy, that is until we can connect to large solar collectors in space which then would provide unlimited Energy 24/7.

            I admit it seems like Sci-Fi now, but looking back to the 1940’s and 1950’s so did the futuristic idea of using nuclear to generate Energy “too cheap to meter”…

          • ingot

            I am afraid that this would result in going back to coal and as you should know, burning coal kill Tens of Thousands of people each year. That is not my idea of safe. OTOH, if we quit building Light Water Reactors and moved on to safer designs and replaced coal with then the world would be a much safer place.

            It would take much longer for solar power to replace coal than it would take for nuclear to do so, but if it eventually was able to replace nuclear power, that would be OK. However, by the end of the decade, I expect to see fusion power that works. Not ready to deploy as power plants but that works.

            Do you understand what “too cheap to meter” means? It doesn’t mean that it would be free. It just means that they would charge you so much a month no matter how much you used.

          • CaptD

            Humor is a good thing, especially if one has a Sunny disposition – CaptD

          • Richard

            You are committing the:

            Nuclear Power = Light Water Reactor

            fallacy. This is a serious error in reasoning and shows a lack of critical thinking skills.

          • ingot

            Is this:

            Nuclear Energy = Light Water Reactor


          • ingot

            Burning coal is an eco-disaster every day.

            You might want to check into the life cycle pollution for wind turbines (steel, REEs, and cement) and solar cells (toxic chemicals and elements).

          • Bob_Wallace

            The lifetime carbon footprint for wind, solar and nuclear are all so significantly lower than coal that any are acceptable.

            And let me copy this over from a National Geographic article…

            “A long deferred cleanup is now under way at 114 of the nation’s nuclear facilities, which encompass an acreage equivalent to Rhode Island and Delaware combined. Many smaller sites, the easy ones, have been cleansed, but the big challenges remain. What’s to be done with 52,000 tons (47,000 metric tons) of dangerously radioactive spent fuel from commercial and defense nuclear reactors? With 91 million gallons (345 million liters) of high-level waste left over from plutonium processing, scores of tons of plutonium, more than half a million tons of depleted uranium, millions of cubic feet of contaminated tools, metal scraps, clothing, oils, solvents, and other waste? And with some 265 million tons (240 million metric tons) of tailings from milling uranium ore—less than half stabilized—littering landscapes?”


            BTW, a study of the cost of recycling a used up wind farm finds that the resale value of the steel along would more than pay for all the costs of returning the land to original condition. That’s before pricing out the tons of very valuable copper and all the REEs. (The concrete would be crushed and used for road base.)

            Our used up, shut down reactors? Rotting in place for a few decades until it’s safe enough to break them up and put them in a hazardous material landfill.

          • CaptD

            Good Comment.
            BTW: The investments in “dirty” energy generation are happening, they are just in the development pipeline (pun intended) and are not being touted at this time. With at least some components of Solar (of all flavors) overall costs dropping almost monthly, Wall Street has seen the light (pun intended) and is shifting away from getting involved in riskier dirtier and most importantly more expensive forms of energy generation. This is especially true of nuclear generation, since many nuclear projects have seen multiple billion dollar cost overruns and /or even entire nuclear project cancellations which nobody wants to be a part of…

          • Doug Cutler

            Increasingly I suspect some investors are playing a game of guess the tipping point, trying max out profits coming and going between clean and dirty tech. Naheed Neshi is the mayor of Calgary Alberta, basically one of the guy’s presiding over the party that is the Oil Sands oil boom. You can imagine who his luncheon buddies are. Here he is speaking in support of any and all oil pipelines leading out of town. Notice the nuance:

            “We’ve got a resource [tar sands oil] that is valuable to us and to our kids and to our grandkids, and we know that someday it’s not going to be that valuable; someday we’ll have a low carbon world. And I think it would be deeply irresponsible for us to leave that resource in the ground so that it will be worthless for future generations.”

          • CaptD

            RE: “… I think it would be deeply irresponsible for us to leave that resource in the ground so that it will be worthless for future generations.”

            One BAD spill or pollution accident and those future generations will curse him and his Corp. sponsors…

          • Doug Cutler

            The worst Canadian oil related accident in recent memory – likely ever – is the oil train derailment and explosion in Lac-Megantic, Quebec in June of 2013. An unattended oil train lost its breaking and wound up destroying half the town center. 47 lives were lost to the blast and fires. The accident might have been easily prevented with back-up supervision but the train company CEO explained post accident such measures weren’t cost effective.

            Now the Federal Government is picking up half the tab worth several hundreds of millions and the company involved is retreating to legal maneuvering. Meanwhile, the oil sands is doing more business than ever. Its going to take geeks in lab coats developing next generation car batteries to bring this to an end. That’s still a few years away yet but I’ll be watching and waiting for it the whole time.

          • Richard

            This is especially true of nuclear generation, since many nuclear projects have seen multiple billion dollar cost overruns and /or even entire nuclear project cancellations which nobody wants to be a part of…

            It is fortunate that the Congress put an end to that happening again. The 5 reactors now being built have a total license and are not subject to the goalposts being moved while they are being built.

            That is, I hope that you know, why those things happened. The NRC changed the rules, or allowed a delay, while the plants were under construction or delayed an operating license after the plant was completed. But, Wall Street is still twice shy from being burned and needs insurance from the government against the risk of the government to loan money for building a nuclear power plant. I find that somewhat ironic.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Let’s have a moment of honesty here.

            Five reactors are not being built. One is a reactor that was 80% built, mothballed and now being finished. That one is costing 20% of new.

            The two Vogtle reactors are being built partially with money “seized” from consumers. Ratepayers have been overpaying their electric bill and that money is being given to the utility to offset some of the costs.

            Even with that free head start the Vogtle plants are well over budget. Southern Company has found the problem so embarrassing that they are refusing to release any further cost information until after completion.

          • ingot

            You really are a neo-Marxist.

            What do you mean “seized” from consumers?

            Why exactly do you think that this is wrong for customers to pay for the fact that the utilities demand for electric power is growing and that new power is costing more? You do understand that by doing it this way that the rates will go up less?

            I must ask, did you make this up, or did you read it somewhere? I have to ask because this makes no sense:

            Even with that free head start the Vogtle plants are well over budget.

            What does the budget have to do with how they are paying for it? There is no relationship at all. Is that how you think?

            The secrecy has nothing to do with embarrassment. Did you miss the fact that there is now a law suit over the $900 million cost overrun. If only they could sue the NRC.

      • Guest

        its like a battered spouse overlooking the knife in their forehead because the abusive spouse got them a new bag of ice for their black eye.

  • Doug Cutler

    Its getting easier to be green.

    • CaptD

      Not just easier but it is also becoming more mainstream, as in what took you so long to embrace being Green?

      ==> Please see my expanded comment at the top of this blog.

    • CaptD

      Here is yet another new creative way to Pay for Solar:

      A “Pay-It-Forward” Approach to Funding Solar Power

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