Clean Power

Published on September 22nd, 2014 | by Zachary Shahan

123

Solar Energy Advantages vs Disadvantages

September 22nd, 2014 by  

Cost of Solar.

Solar energy has very, very broad support. As I wrote last month, you, your family, your friends, and even your “enemies” love solar. Clearly, most of these people are not solar energy experts and are not aware of all the details of solar energy advantages and disadvantages. Most probably just assume that solar energy is better because there aren’t smokestacks mounted onto solar panels to channel pollution high into the sky. The fact that the sun rises every day probably doesn’t hurt either, nor that most of us love the sun. But if you’re popping in here to learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of solar energy, you probably want more details and the summary of an expert. And that’s just what I’ll provide.

Solar Energy Advantages

Financial Savings

Interestingly, one of the key things that most people think is a disadvantage of solar (hint: $$), is actually an advantage!

No criticism at all to those who think solar power is expensive. Just a handful of years ago, it was. In 1977, the price of solar panels was about 100 times more than today. In 2000, the average price of solar panels was about twice as high as it is today. Even in 2008, the price of solar panels was about 80% higher than today. So, yes, it sort of a new thing that solar panels are so cheap.

How much does solar power cost? Follow that link and you can find the average for each state in the US for the year 2011 — the average for those who went solar. But you’ll also find out something much more interesting. You’ll find out, for each state, how much money the average electricity savings are per month for people who went solar in 2011, the average amount of money that would be saved after 20 years, and the average number of years before a solar power system should be paid back.

As we are keen to note, the average 20-year savings across the US were found to be over $20,000, with savings in some of the most populous states being over $30,000, and savings in Hawaii being over $60,000.

solar energy advantages and disadvantages

Join the US solar power rooftop revolution!

Furthermore, while there are clear benefits to buying your own solar power system, about 75% of people with the choice now go solar by leasing solar power systems. One of the key advantages of such an approach is that you can start saving money from Day 1. Yes, really. Leases for $0 down or close to $0 down let you start making money off your electricity bill savings immediately. I can certainly see the appeal.

Keeps Our Climate Livable

The green power assumption is true. Clearly, we need to make some massive changes in order to keep from baking our planet and, thus, baking the human species (and many others) to death. Electricity is one of the key things we need to clean up. And solar power is one of the top options for doing so. The below graphic from a study by Nathan Myhrvold and Ken Caldeira is one of my favorites for portraying that point. In case the text isn’t clear, the graphs show projections for additional average global temperature increase within the next 100 years in a transition from coal technology to 8 alternative power-generation technologies.

solar energy advantages disadvantages

Clearly, solar PV is the greenest option, with wind and nuclear power just behind it. The Institute of Physics news release about the study these graphs came from noted:

“Delaying the rollout of [these] technologies is not an option however; the risks of environmental harm will be much greater in the second half of the century and beyond if we continue to rely on coal-based technologies.”

Super Water Efficient

A related key environmental issue of our day is access to clean water. We’re already struggling with this in many places around the globe, but the issue is going to get more and more difficult. One of the well known consequences of global warming is an increasing occurrence and severity of droughts in many regions, such as the US West, Southwest, and Great Plains. There’s even a 50% chance the Colorado River will dry up by 2057.

What you may not know is that coal and nuclear power plants use a ton of water, and natural gas power plants also use a lot of water. Another wonderful piece of information about solar power is that it uses hardly any water at all. A study from the Virginia Water Resources Research Center has found that solar PV uses about 21 times less water than nuclear power (per kilowatt-hour of electricity produced), about 16 times less water than coal power, and about 8 times less water than a combined cycle power plant.

Security

The possibility of much greater energy security is a major advantage of solar power that many people are not aware of. However, our military is. The US military has researched the matter and come to the conclusion that solar power, because of how widely distributed it is, combined with microgrids (which can be disconnected from the larger electricity grid network if they are compromised) provide the most secure electricity. And it’s clear from simple logic that it’s much harder to bomb or otherwise take out millions upon millions of rooftop solar power systems than it is to do so with one or two large power plants.

Jobs & Economy

Solar power isn’t just good for our finances. It’s also good for creating jobs and stimulating the economy. A recent study from the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts found that for every $1 million invested in the solar energy industry, you get about 14 jobs, compared to 13 jobs in the wind energy industry, 7 jobs in the coal industry, and 5 jobs in the natural gas industry. Looks like the winner is again solar (though, biomass actually takes the top spot in this category amongst energy sources).

solar energy advantages jobs

Peak Power

The cost of producing electricity isn’t the same at all hours. Electricity supply and demand must match in order for the grid to not go down. As such, a variety of energy sources are used to create electricity for the grid. If just one source were used, there would be more long-term risk. Some sources of power provide electricity rather continuously in order to keep our base electricity needs met. But as electricity demand increase (for example, every day when people wake up and start using electrical devices and lights), other sources of energy must be used. In most places, the most electricity is needed in the afternoon and early evening. At that time, electricity on the wholesale market is most expensive because there are the smallest number of suppliers available and the least competition. However, this coincides almost perfectly with the time of day when the most sun is out and solar energy systems are most effective. So, the electricity generated from solar energy systems is actually much more valuable than electricity on average.

Furthermore, it’s worth noting that air conditioning is actually the largest individual source of electricity use in the US. Air conditioning is most needed when the sun is shining bright and it is getting super hot, just when solar panels are most effective.

Energy Independence

Energy independence is another big advantage of solar energy, particularly for the consumer. It’s a good idea to cut your dependency on big corporations and semi-monopolies, in general. In the case of electricity, this is definitely true. I’ve already written a good summary of this (when discussing the advantages of solar energy more briefly), so I’ll just repost most of what I wrote previously on this matter:

“The price of electricity is projected to rise considerably in the coming decades. We have many old power plants that need to retire, and new power plants and infrastructure cost a lot more than old ones. Going solar fixes your price of electricity for decades to come, so you become immune to those electricity price increases (well, at least when it comes to your home’s electricity supply — you will still be affected a bit as the price of goods goes up).”

Solar Energy Disadvantages

To be honest, I’ve been racking my brain for a couple days trying to think of some real solar energy disadvantages. Of course, there are many myths out there regarding the disadvantages of solar. But they are just that — myths.

The closest thing to a disadvantage of solar is probably the cliche “the sun doesn’t shine all the time” issue. It’s true, the sun doesn’t shine all the time. If it did, we could certainly run the world on solar power. (Of course, such a world wouldn’t be inhabitable.) But no electricity source is always available. And as I’ve shown previously, solar energy potential dwarfs the energy potential of any other source (I guess this should also be in the solar energy advantages section).

Is the fact that clouds sometimes get in the way of the sun a real issue for utilities? Is “intermittency” a notable disadvantage of solar energy? Three utility company CEOs and presidents very clearly say “no” in this utility company CEO/President roundtable discussion.

What does that leave us with? Not much. Sure, the creation of solar panels does create some pollution. But the only other options are basically energy sources that create much more pollution (except in the case of wind turbines and quite expensive marine energy technologies) or cutting our energy use (which is always recommended). Sure, solar panels do cost money, but they are still cheaper than electricity from the grid. Sure, solar panels don’t last forever, but several studies have found that even early-generation solar panels that are over 30 years old are still pumping out almost as much electricity as they were when they were first installed.

I’ve spent years writing about renewable energy. That has included reading and responding to comments from cynics. Yet, not a single true solar energy disadvantage is coming to mind.

So, the final score for solar energy advantages and disadvantages comes to: 8-0.

Join the US solar power rooftop revolution!

Source: Cost of Solar. Reprinted with permission.


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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the typed word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession, Solar Love, and Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in.



  • rabakomabas

    Hi

  • Bob_Wallace

    In Maine you have wind and hydro. Design your grid around your strong suits. No reason to bust your budgets by turning to expensive supply.

  • petr parker

    i am a 80 year old that loves (being sarcastic) solar energy

  • petr parker

    hellooo people

    go taste your rainbow

  • eveee

    Take a look at caiso today. The net generation, demand minus utility wind and solar (does not include rooftop) at 3:30 PM is barely above the lowest demand at 3AM. Yet people are paying peak TOU rates during the day. Pretty amazing.

  • eveee

    Yes – CA tier rates were the utility/PUC compromise. The utility really gouged higher tiers. Now the utilities are unhappy because net metering takes that away from them. Thats their fault. They made their bargain with the devil and now they want a better deal.
    I try to explain to people that net metering is not the same everywhere. In CA, very much so. Tiers make it lucrative to reduce monthly demand. Other states with flat rates are harder to work net metering.

    If you switch to TOU metering, solar is way ahead.

  • Bob_Wallace

    Our country would be much better off if we had political discussions about regulations and taxes where everyone was using facts.

    There will always be people who want the government to do more and people who want the government to do less. That’s fine. We should have those discussions.

  • Hans

    You are more or less saying: if we cannot produce all our power with solar systems, it is not worth the bother. I find this a bit simplistic. A new IEA* report *has found that almost all grids can cost-effectively produce 45% of their annual electric energy using variable renewables. In my book this is not something to spit at.

    *The organisation mostly known for their pro-nuclear and pro-fossil fuels lobbying.

    **google: power of transformation IEA

  • Geektothebone83

    I don’t think net metering will disappear; but I do think it will be restructured. To keep net metering viable at high penetration rates they’ll need to make a couple changes.

    First, utilities will have to be given an arbitrage between the buy rate and the retail sell rate (probably 20-30%). They do provide a useful service and should be compensated for it. (and the grid is not 100% efficient. if you sell them 100kwh at retail rate they will have 99kwh to sell to someone else and retail rate. Already, they are actively loosing money.

    Second, Time-of-Use metering will have to become the norm. People are right to claim that the energy they produce during mid day is more valuable. The gain from this will largely cancel out the loss from the buy/sell rate change. But eventually high production during the day will cause a shift in the rate schedule that will make small amounts of storage (hours, not like full off-grid systems) more attractive.

    My prediction is that grid-tie inverters will eventually have small banks of super-capacitors built into them as standard. They tolerate more rapid charge/discharge cycles and have leakage rates low enough for the purpose of shifting energy from mid day to evening.

    • Hans

      “First, utilities will have to be given an arbitrage between the buy rate and the retail sell rate (probably 20-30%).”

      Then it is by definition no longer net-metering, but a feed in tariff. 😉

      In the long wrong we need a consumer price and a feed-in tarif that is coupled to the instantaneous market price. This would both stimulate grid-friendly behaviour of both consumers and producers. It would also stimulate the development of grid friendly storage.

      • Geektothebone83

        I should have phrased that better. I meant that they would credit you for what you feed in at 70-80% of the retail rate at that instant in time (Time-of-Use Metering is important here). The utilities need to pay for the wires somehow.

        I don’t think feed-in tariffs are a good idea. They encourage macro-economically bad behavior that doesn’t scale well (see Germany). Any subsidy for renewables should be at construction time. This will also eliminates the risk to operators that the government bean-counters may change their mind later and take away the feed-in tariff revenue.

        • Hans

          In an ideal world the electricity market would look like this:
          1) An independent non-commerical transmission and distribution grid operator, that don’t have an incentive to discriminate against new power producers
          2) A realistic price on pollution, e.g. carbon tax. The yield is either given back via lowering the income tax, or used to help the victims of pollution
          3) A really free market for produces an retailers, no (hidden) subsidies for anybody.

          Alas!, we do not live in an ideal world. So we have to choose some other way to stimulate the development of clean power technology. Feed in tariffs have shown to be be the most effective way to do this. For example: the UK has a much better wind resource as Germany, nevertheless are the costs of a wind produced kWh in Germany significantly lower.

          However, I agree with you that a fixed feed-in-tarif is not sustainable passed a certain penetration level (what that level is is open to discussion). Since the ideal solution,described above, is not likely to happen soon, an alternative is to set the feed-in-tarif equal to the (varying) wholesale market price plus some bonus. This bonus can gradually decrease until the technology can compete without help against the much helped conventional and nuclear power plants in the not-so-fair-and not-so-free-market of electricity.

    • Mint

      As far as the utility is concerned, residential PV is only slightly more useful than getting from a generator. Because clouds can pass over a city and drastically cut local solar output at any time, and because residences produce and consume at different times (commercial/industrial consumption dominates during PV hours), transmission costs aren’t really spared with PV:

      A) You still need the grid

      B) You still need transmission capacity from the house to the non-residential areas (when the neighborhood doesn’t use all PV produced)

      C) You still need long transmission capacity from the generators to the consumers (when local PV output is low).

      Cost of electricity generation is often half of the cost of delivering electricity or less. The rest is grid maintenance. Net metering effectively pretends that the latter doesn’t exist.

      So fair value for PV solar is not the retail price. It’s the wholesale price, which is roughly half of average retail, and maybe a quarter of high-tier retail. It’s not the price “they can sell to someone else at the retail rate”, because that sale is already made whether you generate the power or not. It’s the price they’d pay for a competing generator to produce that power (i.e. typically 4-6c/kWh), plus a few percent. That’s fair value.

      Consider that PG&E’s financials in 2013:
      $15.6B in revenue in 2013 ($12.5B from electricity sales)
      $5B in cost of electricity
      $1B in cost of natural gas
      $5.8B O&M
      $3B, depreciation, interest, and tax
      ——
      $0.8B net income.

      Now, let’s say net metering makes 10% of demand switch to solar, and naturally it’ll be high-tier demand. PG&E loses maybe $2B in sales (16% of electricity revenue), but they only save $0.5B in costs (10% less cost of electricity). All other expenses are virtually the same, so now it’s a money losing operation.

      That’s a 4:1 ratio. It’s both unsustainable and poor effectiveness of green dollars. Fixing that is more than just restructuring in my book.

      As for supercapacitors, they’re too expensive and big for this application. You used them only when you need high power (i.e. full discharge in seconds). Batteries will always be cheaper, and they can last many thousands of cycles nowadays.

      • Bob_Wallace

        Thanks for bringing the PG&E data into the discussion. I think it shows us something that most of us haven’t recognized, the large costs that aren’t the cost of electricity.

        I’d like to see more data, how typical this data is. Know a source? Other utilities, other years.

        • Mint

          I just googled PG&E financial data for that, so you can probably do the same for other utilities. To be fair, some of that is for NG infrastructure, but probably only 20% given the revenue split.

          I did previously find this for Australia:
          http://www.aemc.gov.au/media/docs/2013-Residential-Electricity-Price-Trends-Final-Report-723596d1-fe66-43da-aeb6-1ee16770391e-0.PDF

          They have absurd grid costs of AU$0.14/kWh. They pay 28c/kWh retail, but less than 6c/kWh is for wholesale electricity. That’s a market prime for storage and going off grid.

          • Bob_Wallace

            My understanding is that Australian utilities spent a very large amount of money expanding their grid on the expectation that demand would keep growing.

            With efficiency and end-user solar Australian utilities are facing demand decay and they’re stuck with the bills for their grid expenditures.

            The more demand shrinks the higher recovery costs per kWh rise. The higher they jack electricity prices in an attempt to recover expenditures the more people cut demand.

            If AU utilities don’t do something, write off some losses or restructure debts, they are likely to continue a spiral that’s taking them down. High prices will mean customers installing storage and more solar which will further cut demand.

            With a government fighting renewable energy and propping up a dying coal industry along with solar/storage becoming cheaper and cheaper we’re likely to see interesting times down under.

  • Joseph Dubeau

    Yes, finally an article that mentions the water use of coal and nuclear power plants.

  • Bob_Wallace

    No one suggests only solar, all places. Each region has to find the mix that works best for it. The NE is not prime solar area but it does have a lot of wind, hydro and tidal resources.

    On a whelm I checked the average daily Irradiance data for Augusta, Maine.

    Jan 3.48
    Feb 4.16
    Mar 4.63
    Apr 4.76
    May 4.84
    Jun 5.37
    Jul 5.10
    Aug 5.09
    Sep 4.39
    Oct 3.62
    Nov 2.78
    Dec 2.76

    January and February are not all that bad. And the extra sunlight reflected off snow – Maine may not be all that bad for solar.

    What one does about snow on solar panels is what one does about snow on windshields. Clean it off.

    • Hans

      What are the units? kWh per day?

      • Hans

        Oops, slopyy mistake: I meant kWh/(sq. m) per day

      • Bob_Wallace

        Sorry.

        kWh/m2/day

  • Veronika

    I was a bit disappointed by this article. I like when articles really give both sides of a story, and your title implied that. While I agree solar energy is greener than other energies we are currently using, you completely glossed over and ignored talking about creation of solar panels with your dinky sentence about how they create “some pollution”. Some pollution during creation means the score won’t be 8-0. I am NOT saying anything bad about solar panels, just that it is disappointing that people think if they give any negatives about a clean energy then people won’t want to use it. I want to know the negatives in these kinds of articles! I still would have been impressed if the score ended with 8-1 or even 8-3. The fossil fuels still will never reach that score. But to imply this was going to be an unbiased article and then do no research into or scoring of the negative aspects of solar power make me disappointed in this article.

    • smartacus

      I agree

    • eveee

      Yes. That could have been discussed. You can look at papers form many authors on the subject. Most reference technical terms like LCOE. This looks at full life cycle analysis comparison. Look up Sovacool for example. Another term is EROI, energy return on investment. All these are based on comparisons. Wind has some of the lowest implacts of any generation source. Solar is also very good. Right now, PV solar energy payback is not as high as wind. There has been much made of the contents of solar cells. Most solar cells are made are Silicon types, and have very low amounts of toxics. Most toxics are in manufacturing, not in the field. Glass holds things pretty well, practically nothing leaches out, and modules are recycled. Same goes for thin film solar cells. Wind has a much better energy return on investment, and its on the top of the list nowadays. Lifetime, it has some of the least environmental impact of any source by comparison, all factors included, even bird and bat deaths which have been overhyped, especially by comparison.

  • Well done. I didn’t read the water use comparison report, but that won’t stop me from stating an opinion: I think solar (and wind) use even less water than mentioned, when compared to fossil fuel generation and nuke power.

    A key thing about thermal plants is the need for water for steam and cooling. This is water intake. Intake like discharge needs to be permitted under the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). Intake water for power plants is a dicey matter. Power plants and other major water users have been fighting over 10 years to block modifications to NPDES regulation. Modifications may soon come into effect:

    http://water.epa.gov/lawsregs/lawsguidance/cwa/316b/upload/316b-prepub-preamble.pdf

    Water intake under NPDES is commonly referred to as “316(b).” Those modifications are essential. Especially as fresh water becomes more dire in some parts of the country. These modifications may help wind and solar deployment. I realize some of the commenters on Cleantechnica aren’t too jazzed about environmental regulations, given the libertarian purity pledge to Musk, but this environmental regulation is a good thing. It impacts manufacturers and users of lots of water as well, i.e. mining, refining, milling, drinking, agriculture, etc.

  • JamesWimberley

    The energy security point applies to individuals. Depending on the deal you have with the utility and maybe leasing company, you can lock in your low solar cost of electricity for the 30-year life of the panels, impossible any other way. In addition, you have backup power – not 24-hours, but predictable – in the event of grid outages: an insignificant risk in in Germany, rather more in the USA, and huge in Africa and India.

    • GCO

      Er, no, grid-tied systems won’t help in an outage, and hybrid/off-grid setups are much more expensive, and can be quite inefficient.
      The super-rosy picture painted above is misleading, not all advantages can be combined.

      • Some grid-tie systems can now do so. But I agree it’s rare.

        • Hans

          Modern wind and solar power systems have capabilities like fault-ride-through, frequency support, blind current production, and steering of the power output by the grid operator. It is up to the grid operator to make such features mandatory.

          Now it is often the other way around and grid operators forbid these kind of features, because they are used to solve all problems via the conventional power plants. If there is some problem on the grid renewables are ordered to get out of the way until the grid is stable again.

          • eveee

            Hans – thanks for mentioning that. In Germany and Denmark, grid codes demand a lot of grid services from wind and solar. They demand voltage and frequency regulation services, not just fault ride through.

  • Mint

    Zach, this is not a very balanced article. Here are a few points that you really should mention:

    -Solar has reached grid parity in CA, NY, FL, and TX solely due to net metering. That’s a large hidden subsidy that cannot sustain itself for even 10% penetration without increasing rates on others.

    -Your link to CEOs talking about intermittency was nothing but PR speak, especially when they brought up Germany as evidence. Data shows Germany’s renewable intermittency is horrible, sometimes producing almost no energy on high demand days.

    -Not as cost effective as wind for the same green investment dollars

    Solar has a bright future, especially when paired with batteries to take over the evening peak, and even more so when we build robots to install farms for <$0.50/W on top of panel cost. But it's not all roses yet.

    • focusonzenergy

      Solar has reached grid parity in CA, NY, FL, and TX solely due to net
      metering. That’s a large hidden subsidy that cannot sustain itself for
      even 10% penetration without increasing rates on others.

      Increasing rates on others is theft!!!!!!

      • Bob_Wallace

        Net metering is one of the techniques used to bring solar to grid parity. Worked.

        Your charge of theft has gotten very old. You care only about disproportionate spending on a single issue while ignoring all the other disproportionate spending that surrounds us daily.

        BTW, do you know what a modest amount of solar can do to electricity prices? Take a look at what a small amount of solar in a very not sunny place has been doing to the wholesale price of electricity in Germany.

        You’ll soon be able to see that happening in the US as we catch up with Germany. While you may not be able to afford solar panels you will see the wholesale price of electricity drop.

        Say “Thank you” to your deep pocket neighbors who put solar on their roofs and cut your utility bill.

        • focusonzenergy

          Net metering is snake oil.
          And when those that “have” take from the “have not’s” according to the snake oil formula that is STEALING!!!!!!

          You said the utility bills have not been cut by solar electric down thread now you say that solar electric does cut utility rates. Using the old bait and switch tactic I see.

          Well solar electric has not reduced electric rates and here are the graphics. The reduction of utility rates in certain states is totally due to reduction in the price of NG and there has been an insignificant amount of solar electric installed to even show on the second graphic

          The increase in utility rates in other states is totally due to replacing cheap coal generation with expensive NG generation and the funding of mandated rebate programs and net metering totaling upwards of $500M per year depending on the state.

      • eveee

        You are so wrong. Do you have any concept of the cost of peak power? Solar acts at just the right time of day to lower peak loads which lowers costs for everyone. You have everything upside down and backwards. It is those that conserve and add rooftop solar that lower rates for the rest of us. Until time of use metering started, energy hogs that created peak summer air conditioning loads were subsidized by those that used less energy. The heavy cost of increasing generation and transmission was shouldered by those using less. The real freeloaders are those creating huge peak summer demand and then having those costs born by all ratepayers.

    • 1. If you calculate the true value of solar, net metering is unfair to solar producers.

      2. I disagree with you. PR speak? Did you watch the roundtable discussion?

      3. I agree with you there, but solar also provides electricity at high-value times, whereas wind produces at low-value times; and rooftop solar is a cost-competitive option while small, rooftop wind isn’t.

  • focusonzenergy

    “Clearly, we need to make some massive changes in order to keep from baking our planet and, thus, baking the human species (and many others) to death”

    NOT True

    WSJ – Climate Science Is Not Settled
    We are very far from the knowledge needed to make good climate policy, writes leading scientist Steven E. Koonin

    http://online.wsj.com/articles/climate-science-is-not-settled-1411143565?mod=WSJ_hp_RightTopStories

    • Gordon Howell

      Is Steven Koonin a climate scientist? Just because someone is a scientist doesn’t mean that they have the qualifications to comment on this…

      • focusonzenergy

        You should read the article and open your eyes!

        Dr. Koonin was undersecretary for science in the Energy Department during President Barack Obama’s first term and is currently director of the Center for Urban Science and Progress at New York University. His previous positions include professor of theoretical physics and provost at Caltech, as well as chief scientist of BP, where his work focused on renewable and low-carbon energy technologies

        • Bob Fearn

          “Chief scientist of BP”. Does that stand for British Petroleum? Hummmmm?

          • Bob_Wallace

            Yep. The guy worked for the fossil fuel industry.

        • Ross

          Theoretical Physicists usually deal with simple systems, like elementary particles, black holes or the Universe shortly after the big bang not complex systems like the climate. As a TP he’s just a layman with a very good understanding of fundamental physics principles.

          • Haha, well said! Thanks, Ross!

          • smartacus

            Now I’m all confused. I mean he was President Obama’s Undersecretary of Science at the DOE. He knows men and women cause global warming, he says scientific data proves it, at what point did Dr. Koonin leave the plantation? I’m not sure if now I’m supposed to accept President Obama made a mistake by having him? Can somebody clear this up?

          • Bob_Wallace

            I can’t tell you exactly what happened but I can give you a possible answer.

            Early in his first term PBO made a concerted effort to include a wide range of people in his administration, hoping that reasonable people would be able to reason together.

            After it was clear that Republicans had only one single goal, to make the first black president a failure, he had to give on working with the other side.

            I can well imagine that Koonin was brought on board as someone who would offer a different viewpoint but work cooperatively.

          • focusonzenergy

            And the laws of the earths climate are known quantities and relationships? I think not.

            Who made you the HR department head all of sudden?

    • Offgridman

      Not exactly the best reference for a global warming denier such as yourself to use. Did you even read past the title of the article?
      For in it he says that yes global warming is happening, yes it is due to the influence of human activity, and yes we do need to increase our use and development of low emissions energy sources, along with energy efficiency improvements.
      His main conflict is with the accuracy of climate prediction which even the climatologists say we need to continue to improve as possible.
      As he says no scientific prediction is perfect, so with climate analysis we need to continue to improve the methodology like any other scientific field, and adjust your findings and suggestions for what to do as you learn more. I don’t think that you will find anyone here that will disagree with this position.
      However trying to use this article in support of your position that coal and natural gas are the best energy sources for our future is just another example of your totally befuddled thinking in trying to understand the worlds energy situation.

      • focusonzenergy

        I thought you said you were going to shut up RE: my posts

        Sure I read the entire article!
        A green house gas is a green house gas.

        The important point is that before you tinker with a power infrastructure (policy) you had better make damn sure that the actions you take will be worth the expenditures and not cause more harm than that harm which you perceive needs correcting.

        It just as easily could be that the green house gas has been delaying a mini ice age. Koonin points out that climate science just does not know nor can tell the difference between natural variability or AGW because the oceans involvement in the climate models is a huge unknown factor due to lack of long term data.

        Are you willing to take the responsibility for a mini-ice age???

        • eveee

          mini ice age? You need to catch up on paleoclimatology.

          If GHG is halting a mini ice age? The rate of cooling after the last warm post glacial period is a measured slow temperature over thousands of years. The present rise is much bigger and much faster than any change in temperature for thousands of years. We don’t have to add any more carbon for millennia to keep toasty, fella.

          FYI, GHG started with rice farming several millennia ago. That would have been OK.

          • focusonzenergy

            The scientist states that “We know, for instance, that during the 20th century the Earth’s global average surface temperature rose 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit.”

            But we do not know why because the variability is is within the range of the natural variability. Policy should not be set based the unknown!!!!!!!!

          • eveee

            No its not within the range of normal variability unless you make the silly excuse of going back millennia through ice ages and all. The simple fact is that you stubbornly refuse to accept the confusion of the vast majority of climate scientists including this one, that says the recent and rapid rise in temperature is unprecedented in the annals of history and is linked to a manmade cause, CO2. Calm down and read a little.

        • Offgridman

          No I never said that I would “shut up RE: your posts”. It just became irrelevant in the other comment string because all of your conspiracy theories got deleted by the monitors. And what is the sense of answering your other hateful trolling accusations?
          Now that you are presenting more references it makes sense to point out to others that they don’t actually support your global warming denying fanaticism.
          And it is kind of fun to refute with the the references that you use and obviously misunderstand.
          Don’t get yourself so upset about this, it is just a conversation where we are all allowed to have opinions and state them. Of course when you get nasty about it and try to promulgate obvious lies those comments will end up getting deleted.
          The only one that your anger is hurting is yourself, as because I said in the previous strings when you are just ranting it is quite easy to ignore. You know kind of like when my kids throw a temper tantrum the best thing for them is to send them for a time out and ignore them until they calm down again.
          Have yourself a great day and looking forward to the next opportunity to discuss things.

        • Offgridman

          Oh and by the way re: the mini ice age. With the amount of CO2 that has been put into the atmosphere over the past couple of centuries don’t you think that the chance of that happening is extremely unlikely?
          But if I had my preference, yes I would rather try to survive an ice age because it is known fact that humans were able to survive those conditions before.
          Now as to our surviving in a high CO2 atmosphere such as existed in prehistoric times when the earth experienced extreme global warming that is an unknown that I would prefer not to risk. So let’s use our renewable energy and stop whatever CO2 emissions that we can and not have to find out. Okay?

          • focusonzenergy

            “Now as to our surviving in a high CO2 atmosphere such as existed in prehistoric times when the earth experienced extreme global warming that is an unknown that I would prefer not to risk. ”

            That was my point of deleted post. The scenario can never happen. You asked for it!

            48,000,000 billion tons of carbon is sequestered in the limestone(CaCO3) of planet earth.1,000 billion tons of carbon is sequestered in coal and oil (0.002%) Both formed over the last 200 million years.Think about it!

            http://pubs.acs.org/subscribe/archive/ci/30/i12/html/12learn.html

        • Kyle Field

          Here, let’s start with this . Regardless of what your stand on climate change/global warming is, solar pays out. There, now you don’t have to worry about that whole “global warming” thing and can still save some cool cash. Better?

          • focusonzenergy

            Solar thermal pays out whether home installed or utility installed but solar electric panels only payout with massive subsidies and in a lot of states the utility rate payers are actually footing the bill for the solar cell install.

            That is theft.

            Would you stand by and do nothing if you were witness to a robbery on the street?

          • Bob_Wallace

            How do you feel about coal, oil and nuclear theft?

          • focusonzenergy

            Before the environmentalist wack jobs got a hold of them the public service commissions did well managing the resources to provide low cost and reliable electric power and natural gas.

            There was no thievery as I have described. They for the most part were pay as you go companies, who predicted future needs and invested in that future.

            America’s rural electric coops were offering rebates to install ground source heat pumps long before this solar cell mania took hold. And the rebates were paid for by the coop shareholders gladly because it was that or install more high tension wires or pay exorbitant prices for peak power both more expensive propositions.

            What thievery are you referring to or are you just a corporation/capitalism hating communist?

          • Bob_Wallace

            Nuclear and fossil fuels have received massive subsidies.

            Nuclear and fossil fuel external costs are paid by taxpayers.

            That, in your opinion, is theft.

          • focusonzenergy

            NO wrong again

            The subsidies are from taxes collected from all peoples and the benefits are shared by all peoples. All men are treated equal under the constitution.

            When one person can afford the down payment for a solar system while others can not and when the balance of the cost for the solar system is born by those through higher utility rates that can not afford a solar system, Then the purchaser of the solar system stole value from his neighbor for his benefit.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Money is being taken from taxpayers and given to the nuclear and fossil fuel industry.

            Theft!

            What we’re doing with solar is investing in a cleaner and cheaper energy future. We’re using very small amounts of public money to encourage people with deep enough pockets to install solar at today’s prices. As they install the market grows and prices fall to where they are in reach of more of us. Market forces!

          • focusonzenergy

            No wrong again

            The peoples duly elected representatives have be given the power over the purse strings to fulfill their constitutional mandate of

            “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the GENERAL welfare, and secure the blessings of LIBERTY to ourselves and our posterity”

            1. Solar electric cells are not clean
            2. Some people do not have deep pockets
            3. Some states use rate payers money
            4. Best polynomial fit to the graph below does not reveal a cheaper future.

          • focusonzenergy
          • Bob_Wallace

            That graph does not show skyrocketing prices.

            It shows prices rising a bit more than average inflation. The numbers even break lower in 2012. Since we’re adding more solar each year one would expect, were you correct, the price to continue to increase.

            Solar rose 20% 2011 to 2012.

          • focusonzenergy

            Skyrocketing

          • Bob_Wallace

            You’re trying to claim that solar has caused those price increases in states which have almost no installed solar?

          • focusonzenergy

            So you claim that because of solar you expect utility rates to fall?

          • Bob_Wallace

            If not actually fall at least rise more slowly.

            Look, we’ve got a lot of coal and nuclear plants that are aging out. Average lifespan for both is around 40 years. Take a look at how old they were a couple years ago when this graph was made.

            That capacity has to be replaced with something.

            The median overnight cost of coal is $2.95/W (http://en.openei.org/apps/TCDB/). Financing costs during construction will add somewhere between 50% and 100% more to the finished cost. Then add in fuel costs.

            The overnight cost of nuclear,at best, $6.94 (Vogtle current cost estimate $15.5 billion for 2,234 MW). Financing costs during construction will roughly double that price. O&M costs are in the 2-3 cent range.

            The overnight cost of solar is now $1.91/W and dropping (Greentech Media 2nd Qtr 2014 Executive Summary). Operating costs are below 1 cent/kWh.

            Once paid off coal still has fuel costs, nuclear still has significant operating costs, solar still costs less than 1c/kWh to operate.

            Now, solar may pull down the cost of electricity. Peaking power is expensive. Solar performs during most of the peak hours. The peak simply goes away and takes those high cost hours with it.

          • focusonzenergy

            Here is graphic of retail utility prices for all states

            If you study each of those states that have a decrease in utility rate you will find that they are all due to the completion of electrical generators using natural gas as your graphic shows under <10 and 11-20 years of age.

            If you study each of those state you will find that they had one or more of the 384 coal fired plants that were shut down in the pogrom and were forced to switch to more expensive NG fuel.

            At 0.23%, generating capacity for solar electric over total generating capacity then solar electric neither shows on your graphic and has had zero zilch effect on utility rates

            Solar electric will not have an effect on utility rates for 10 to 20 years unless of course if the concentrated PV device is perfected.

          • Bob_Wallace

            You’ve been trying to tell us that solar has caused rates to soar in a few Midwest states that have almost no solar on line.

            Now you’re telling us that the price jumps are due to changes in fossil fuel costs.

            Of course a very small amount of solar has had little or no impact on grid prices. No one has claimed that except you.

            Solar will likely make up about 1% of US generation in 2015. A couple more years of growth along those lines and we’re likely to see suppression of midday peak demand along with dropping midday wholesale prices.

            Yes, coal plants are being shut down. And that’s a very good thing. States, like many Midwest states, that burn a lot of coal are stealing from the rest of us who use little coal. We’re having our tax dollars spent to pay for the external costs of your coal burning.

          • Hans

            You are evading the question asked by Bob.

          • Hans

            Furthermore: There are many influences on electricity price. attributing price increases solely to renewable power, without looking at other influences is either sloppy or wilfully misleading.

          • Bob_Wallace

            1. Of course solar panels are clean.

            2. No one claimed everyone has deep pockets. The deep pocket folks are helping to make solar affordable for all. Just liked they helped bring down the cost of cell phones, flat screen TVs, computers and just about every new technology.

            3. Some states don’t. So what?

            4. Using the history of electricity produced mainly with fossil fuels tells us zip about the new grid we’re building. Wind and solar are cheaper than coal. Wind and solar are cheaper than nuclear. Wind is cheaper than natural gas and solar will soon be.

            Worry about how much money you’re wasting on fossil fuel and nuclear energy. Celebrate the cheaper electricity future that is coming your way.

          • eveee

            Solar panels not clean? There is no point discussing “Clean” form an absolute standpoint. Relative to all other sources of energy, solar is much cleaner, with only a few sources more clean like wind and hydro. You are not going to argue coal or oil is cleaner are you? So whats your point? We don’t get to choose in heaven. We have to choose whats best on earth. Its a false comparison.

          • GCO

            What twisted logic is that? Taxes pay for schools, are you suggesting parents are stealing from people who don’t have kids?
            I don’t use gas, yet have to contribute to the huge subsidies given to the oil industry?

            At least, neighbors solar benefit everyone, by displacing other, more polluting electricity sources.

          • focusonzenergy

            NO
            1. the people who do not have children benefit from the education leading to new life saving inventions and insure survival.

            2. Oil is used in all products that you consume in way or another.

            God why do I have to supplement your education.

          • GCO

            So you agree that non-parents paying for e.g. kids education is fair, because the everyone benefits eventually?
            Thank you, that’s exactly what I was trying to show.

            Coal was linked to 24’000 premature deaths in the US, and astronomical extra health care costs; I don’t have the numbers for the US, but Europe estimates 55 billion$/year.
            http://www.env-health.org/news/latest-news/article/the-unpaid-health-bill-how-coal

            Subsidies given to clean energy not only are a tiny fraction of those enjoyed by nuclear and fossil fuels, but will pay several times over for themselves in public health savings and other benefits.
            http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/ljohnson/scc_electricity_costs.html

          • focusonzenergy

            Education has been proved beneficial to humanity for thousands of years.

            To date solar cells have not been proven to be worth bupkisl. All I here hear is so much pie in the sky! Are you dense?

            Had you guys focused on whats important and not lining your own pockets with solar cell installation contracts You would have discovered that

            1. California suffers the worst health impacts from air pollution, with about 21,000 early deaths annually, mostly attributed to road transportation

            2. a total of 54,000 deaths nation wide annually attributable to car exhaust.

            3. transportation produces 28% of the CO2 while residential commercial NG heating furnaces contribute 10%

            You go after the worst killer and biggest CO2 producers first

            1. Double and triple insulate
            2. 400% efficient Ground source heat pumps
            3. natural gas vehicles

            results in

            significantly reduced oil imports and consumption
            $ per mile travel costs reduced by half utility bills reduced by 1/3 from 20087 levels
            New NG Vehicles prices drop by 15% because pollution control can be eliminated

            Greatly increased disposable income

            Significant reduction of loading of the grid down at least 20% winter and summer electrical loads would be balanced, Eliminating need for peaking generators and resulting in a more stable dumb grid .
            Elimination of emissions from automobiles

            NG is non-polluting and produces less CO2
            A positive US trade balance
            And unemployment back down to around 6%

            But alas it has all been fear based decision making and greed and not sound system engineering.

            NGV conversion cost with EPA regulations $15,000 Without $1500.

          • GCO

            solar cells have not been proven to be worth bupkisl.

            Lol, you should see my power bill 🙂
            More seriously, http://www.caiso.com/market/Pages/ReportsBulletins/DailyRenewablesWatch.aspx

            air pollution … mostly attributed to road transportation

            Funny you should mention that: those “unproven” solar cells also power my car, and possibly the neighbor’s. You wanted to reduce both emissions and fuel costs? Go electric, not NG.

            go after the biggest CO2 producers first

            Ok. That would be power plants: http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/ghgemissions/usinventoryreport.html
            Glad you agree we must ditch fossil fuels, coal especially. Sure, focus should be on conservation first. Now, how do we cover the remainder? Nuclear (long to build, expensive), hydro (hard to get new good spots), wind, geothermal, biomass/biogas and… yup, solar.

          • Hans

            I agree that insulating buildings is an effective and cheap way to reduce CO2 and other emissions. It is the low hanging fruit that is getting too little attention. However, this does not mean we should limit ourselves to that.

            The funny thing with technology is that it gets cheaper the more you deploy it (learning curve theory). Germany and some other European countries have done the heavy lifting with their support programs, and brought the cost of solar electricity below retail price. It won’t take long to be competitive at wholesale price. Solar energy will become the next low hanging fruit.

            Solar cells have been around since the 1950’s first they were employed in space, than on earth in small off-grid systems. Since the 1990s they have, in ever larger scale, been employed in grid connected systems. In 2013 5% of the German electricity came from solar cells. Callig solar energy an unproven technology is just silly.

          • just_jim

            In most vocabularies giving wrong information is not considered supplementing one’s education.

          • Hans

            1. Everybody profits from clean air and a stable climate.
            2. So when we do not use oil for power production and transportation we will have more left to make plastics.

          • Hans

            When did you last build a nuclear power plant? Conventional and nuclear power plants are build by people with deep pockets. These people are known as shareholders. Subsidy for nuclear and coal benefits people who are already rich.

            With solar leasing constructions you can have the benefits of PV without needing money upfront. It is also possible to buy a very small PV system (AC-modules). So even if you are not rich you can get on the solar gravy train!

            Subsidy on solar is also a passing thing. With rapidly declining costs, the subsidies can be reduced as well. Germany did most of the heavy lifting in bringing down the costs. You Americans can profit from this.

            Finally, you loudly ignore external costs. These are paid by everybody, but mostly by poor people who cannot afford to live far away from emission sources. They pay via taxes, health costs, and damage to their lives.

          • eveee

            Do you get to use the roads? The sidewalks? Do you drink water? How about electricity? Parks? You have police? Fire? Post office? Mail any letters? Use the internet? 🙂

          • Larry

            Your statement “solar electric panels only payout with massive subsidies” is blatantly false. In states such as Hawaii, CA, AZ, NV, TX, if you removed any subsidy altogether the PV panels would pay for themselves -it might take a year or two longer than the calculations in this article but they would still save the owner money in the long run.

          • focusonzenergy

            The solar electric panels will not last long enough to payout if they were not subsidized. There payback period is longer than there expected lifetime.

            Solar panel expected lifetime has not been proven under real conditions

            The statement “solar electric panels only payout with massive subsidies” is true!

          • Bob_Wallace

            Our oldest solar array is now 40 years old and at age 35 years was producing 96% as much electricity as when new.

            You are a continuing source of misinformation.

          • focusonzenergy

            The oldest solar power plant is the 354 MW SEGS thermal power plant.

            Get that THERMAL not solar electric.Now you are mixing up/confusing the two solar technologies
            You just lie when it suits you.

          • Bob_Wallace

            SEGS is about 30 years old. It came on line in 1984.

            The “Energielabor” at the University of Oldenburg went on line in 1976.

            http://www.presse.uni-oldenburg.de/einblicke/54/files/assets/downloads/page0009.pdf

            I’m going to ask you to quit accusing me of being a liar. It’s gotten old, especially from someone who has posted so much incorrect “stuff” as you have.

          • focusonzenergy

            SEGS is solar thermal not solar electric

            Energielabor is Monocrystalline which have the longest life and of course they were custom manufactured and hand picked for performance and quality.

            Today’s mass produced Monocrystalline solar cells are not tested and quality controlled to the degree as those babies in the Telfunken lab and the report you cited was written in generalities with no specific test conditions specified so must be taken with a grain of salt. Germans have been known to stretch the truth

            And of course polycrystalline and thin film solar arrays were not available until early 90’s and early 2000’s so there is no reliability test data that has any significance.

            Solar panel expected lifetime has not been proven under real conditions

            And how did that solar array become “ours”. Are you german? Do you work for one of the progeny of Telefunkin? I searched for the oldest US solar electric array and found nothing

          • Offgridman

            Just got back here and see that it has been your turn to try and talk sense with this tin hat troll. While I’m glad he gave up on me due to his comments being deleted (thank you to whoever flagged him this time) sorry that you are having to deal with him.
            In a way I can’t help but feel sorry for him because his thoughts and opinions are such a convoluted befuddled mess, but it certainly is aggravating trying to carry on a conversation with him when he keeps flip flopping on what he is saying.
            It might be best to just ignore him, like you do with a kid having a temper tantrum. After a few unanswered comments, he does stop

          • Larry

            Do you work for FAUX “News” or are you a shill for the Koch Brothers?

          • focusonzenergy

            The truth has no allegiances!!!

          • Kyle Field

            I have a hard time considering legally allocated rebates “theft”. Might want to go check the dictionary…

          • Bob_Wallace

            He’s one of those guys who objects to having his tax money spent on paving roads he never drives on but insists that the roads he uses are in perfect condition.

            Just another taker.

          • eveee

            Are the subsidies for nuclear theft? Coal? Oil? Gas? They all get subsidies. Homeowners get subsidies for loan interest. Labeling all subsidies as theft is sloppy reasoning. Comparing it to robbery on the street…. Well,.. you are stretching the truth to the breaking point.

        • Joseph Dubeau

          Did you flunk 8th grade science?
          Some people prefer Metaphysics over science.

        • Hans

          The important point is that before you tinker with the climate you had better make damn sure that the actions
          you take will not cause more harm than
          that economic harm which you perceive needs correcting.

  • yu tube

    Despite the lower cost of solar panels from highly polluting companies in China. The fact that an infinitesimal percentage of people have installed solar and gone off the grid pretty much refutes the rosy cost and practicality picture painted in this ad..oops article.
    For now solar can provide useful peak power shaving, reducing the need for new carbon based generation. But base load generation will still need coal/gas. The anti nuke/environmental crowd demanded coal after the successful stopping of nuclear plants after the TMI event back in the late 70’s.

    • Ronald Brakels

      I’m in Australia and rooftop solar is the cheapest source of electricity available to households. Using a 5% discount rate the system on the roof above me produces electricity at about one third the marginal cost of grid electricity. In South Australia rooftop solar provides about 6% of total electricity use and its capacity is increasing and over a third of the way towards eliminating baseload demand. So starting in places such as South Australia, baseload demand will disappear. Also South Australia recently went for a year or two without operating any generating capacity in a baseload manner, and there are a large number of places in the world that don’t use coal or gas to meet baseload demand.

      • Jeremy Mauli

        Lucky for Australian Businesses there is a solution, Go Energy who is Australia’s Leading renewable energy provider is offering FREE of charge NO OBLIGATION agreements which protect your business from the federal govt. to abolish RETs , the agreement protects your intentions for future solar installations whether if its 5- 10 years from signing of the agreement, the abolishment of RETs could happen as early as tomorrow if you would like your business protected give me a call on 02 9492 2939 or send your business name ABN and your latest energy bill to jeremym@goenergy.com.au and I will see to it that your agreement to be protected is sent out, the sooner we have the completed documents back the quicker you can secure the protection your business needs. Thanks Guys…………………………….

    • Bob Fearn

      When was the last time you visited a “highly polluting” solar company in China? Tens of millions of people use solar power. How many need do do this before you no longer consider them “infinitesimal”? “The anti nuke/environmental crowd demanded coal”. On what planet did this happen?

      • philofthefuture

        Solar and wind are growing 40%/yr. in the US, though the numbers are small now it doesn’t take too many years of 40% for that to grow into a really big deal.
        I’m of the view that I’m glad we’re a couple of years behind the EU, that means they pay the research costs while we get the commodity benefits. However we’re now at a cost level that the benefits of waiting any longer make little sense, once items reach commodity status future price reductions will come at a slower pace. Between now and 2016 is the purchasing sweet spot, low prices before subsidies expire.

      • yu tube

        China, very lax pollution environmental laws, see Beijing.
        what is % of people who have gone OFF GRID with solar.
        environmental crowd failed to consider the unintended consequences of stopping nuclear plant construction (adaptation of coal fired plants) after TMI (google it if you are too young to remember) three mile island.

        • Bob Fearn

          How tough were American pollution laws 50 years ago? It doesn’t matter if people are OFF GRID if their power is produced by the sun. The environment crowd had nothing to do with the construction of nuke plants

          • focusonzenergy

            50 years ago there we no pollution controls that was soon after WWII and pollution was irrelevant winning a war against fascists had top priority. It was not until the 60’s after people had recovered from the trauma of the war that it was realized something was going on that was not understood- thalidomide babies, love canal, times beach. Then Nixon setup the EPA to manage the cleanup of these dumping sites left over from the WAR..

            The EPA has now grown to a power hungry behemoth directly infiltrated by Marxist ideologies and bureaucratic zealots and overly influenced by private and personnel whim.

            The grid can not be obsoleted!

            The environment crowd of the day had everything to do with switching from nukes to coal. Read yu tube more carefully the next time.

            And study your history so as not to duplicate the mistakes of the past.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I think we’ve had enough of your misinformation.

          • Hans

            I think you need to step out of the wingnut echo-chamber. The Bush administration gutted the power of the EPA and replaced people with actual knowledge of the subject by industry friendly political appointees. The EPA is now a toothless tiger.

          • Bob_Wallace

            The EPA under PBO has grown new teeth. And the Supreme Court has blessed them.

            The EPA is closing somewhere between 189 and 411 coal plants over by 2016. The larger number is from the owner of Murray Energy, a major coal company who was recently railing about “King Obama”.

        • Offgridman

          I don’t know the number of people that have gone offgrid with solar, just know that I am one of them for the past eight years. However since the great majority of rooftop solar installations are grid tied, those people are doing what they can to take care of their own energy needs, and using the extra to help contribute to grid stability and reduce the need for peaker fossil fuel plants, even if they aren’t aware of this affect.
          If you want to discuss Three Mile Island, then talk to me, because I was visiting family at the time and part of the forced evacuation. So would never wish to put anyone else through the fear and uncertainty of what is happening to you or the future possible consequences, like happened back then. Fortunately there were no permanent consequences other than the loss of my cousins home, but no one should have to live through an incident like that because the powers that be decide to build a nuclear plant near them.
          You say that the consequence of that incident was the expanded coal powered production. But our real problem now is the expansion of natural gas powered plants assuming cheap fuel from the fracking boom but not being held responsible for the GHG releases from that fracking, or the earthquakes from the wastewater injections. So since both solar and wind production is now cheaper than that natural gas on the grid scale, let’s get busy and go renewable.

        • Bob_Wallace

          US nuclear plant construction was grinding to a halt prior to the TMI meltdown. Nuclear construction stopped because of costs, not because of public pressure.

          TMI melted on March 28, 1979. Take a look at the graph below. You’ll see that the US nuclear build out was finished before TMI happened.

    • philofthefuture

      It’s true an infinitesimal number have gone off grid with solar, the vast majority use grid tied solar! That market has exploded and will continue to do so because it DOES pay. I did the work myself and my payback will only be five years with a current DIY price of $1.09/W using top of the line panels and inverters.
      Simple choice, buy a new car for $20K and watch it depreciate 20% the minute you drive it off the lot or buy $20K worth of solar and have it pay you as you generate more electricity than you use.

      • Bob Fearn

        Of course the cost of things is important however when we compare the cost of rooftop solar electricity to grid electricity a number of serious solar cost benefits are ignored. We typically don’t include the cost of fixing global warming, the cost of grid transmission systems which use millions of acres, etc. If those costs were included when we compared solar to utility power solar would be way ahead.

        • philofthefuture

          While I’d agree with GW pluses, the grid is still necessary for backup, Otherwise everyone would need battery backup and that is not as yet cost effective.
          I would say that more solar obviates the need for much of grid upgrades since it does off load transmission lines. That is a net plus to utilities that isn’t counted. Also, peaking power is very expensive and solar fills that need very well for next to nothing, another big utility plus. On hot sunny summer days when everyone’s AC is cranking, that’s exactly when solar is putting out maximum power. Utilities would have to fire up far less auxiliary ‘peaking’ power sources when solar becomes more prevalent.

    • “The fact that an infinitesimal percentage of people have installed solar and gone off the grid pretty much refutes the rosy cost and practicality picture painted in this ad..oops article.”

      — Nope. You’re making an assumption there. Lack of awareness ≠ lack of opportunity.

    • Also note that solar was the 2nd-largest contributor to new electricity capacity last year and is on track for that again this year. Also… do the math. 😀

  • joe

    Short term upfront costs, toxic substances used in the production process, disposal of units at end of useful life…

    • Wene3845

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      http://bestearning.,……….

    • Takeshi

      You’re correct, except about the last point; solar panels can be recycled at the end of their 35+ year lifespan.

    • GCO

      Not only there is very little toxic material in modules, but most of the substances you seem concerned about never leave the plant or the modules, which are completely recyclable.
      See e.g. http://www.recgroup.com/en/Downloads/Corproate-downloads/?feed=Sustainability%2breporting

      Compare this to e.g. coal plants: in the US, those release more mercury, arsenic, SO2 etc than all other activities combined: http://www.epa.gov/mats/powerplants.html

    • “Short term upfront costs” — not if you get it with a solar lease or $0 down solar loan.

      “Toxic subtances” — not relative to the alternatives (other than energy conservation and perhaps wind).

    • Larry

      Try factoring in the cost of disposing of those friendly spent fuel rods from your neighborhood nuclear reactor and make an honest cost comparison.

    • Hank1946

      I wonder what the cost of the tear down of a Nuclear plant.OH! “Dismantling the San Onofre nuclear power plant in Southern California will take two decades and cost $4.4 billion, but spent radioactive fuel will be held at the site indefinitely, according to a game plan from Southern California Edison.” Indefinitely! I don’t think Solar panels will be a problem. I would also think that some if not most of the items would have reasonable return for the recycling plant. Aluminum for one! Also if one or two roofs fail it should not be close to $4.4 billion.

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