Clean Power

Published on September 14th, 2015 | by Guest Contributor

91

National Grid CEO: Large Power Stations For Baseload Power Is Outdated

September 14th, 2015 by  

Originally published on Energy Post.
By Karel Beckman

Steve Holliday, CEO of National Grid, the company that operates the gas and power transmission networks in the UK and in the northeastern US, believes the idea of large coal-fired or nuclear power stations to be used for baseload power is “outdated”. “From a consumer’s point of view, the solar on the rooftop is going to be the baseload. Centralised power stations will be increasingly used to provide peak demand”, he says, in an exclusive interview for World Energy Focus, a publication of the World Energy Council produced by Energy Post. The chief of National Grid also notes that energy markets “are clearly moving towards much more distributed production and towards microgrids”.

“This industry is going through a tremendous transformation. We used to have a pretty good idea of what future needs would be. We would build assets that would last decades and that would be sure to cover those needs. That world has ended. Our strategy is now centred around agility and flexibility, based on our inability to predict or prescribe what our customers are going to want.”

As CEO, since 2007, of a company active on two continents, and being responsible for both gas and electricity transmission and distribution, Steve Holiday finds himself smack at the centre of the whirlwind developments in the energy sector. And since National Grid is a regulated (albeit publicly listed) company, he can speak from a reasonably independent position. Which makes it fascinating to talk to him.

“What is crucial”, says Holliday, “is what consumers will want. In the past all consumers got the same. One size fits all. Now one size will not fit all. People will want to interact with energy in many different ways.” This is why he warns against people who think they can predict the future. “Some people think they have the answer, whatever it may be. But I believe there will be different answers for different places, rural and cities, and for different customers. That’s why flexibility and agility are key.”

Taken by surprise

Nevertheless certain trends that are currently taking place are unmistakable, says Holliday. “The world is clearly moving towards much more distributed electricity production and towards microgrids. The pace of that development is uncertain. That depends on political decisions, regulatory incentives, consumer preferences, technological developments. But the direction is clear.”

“The amount of solar being added to the system is incredible. 1500 MW in the first three months of this year”

For the UK National Grid works with four Future Energy Scenarios, which are available on the internet and updated every year. According to these scenarios, it is likely that by 2020 small-scale, distributed generation will represent a third of total capacity in the UK. Holliday: “This is a quadrupling in just a few years. It represents a massive increase from the old days of centrally dispatched generation.” Recent government measures in the UK to limit subsidies for renewable energy may affect the timing of this development, says Holliday, but not the trend.

He notes that the speed at which the energy system is changing has taken many people by surprise, including himself. “The amount of solar being added to the system is incredible. 1500 MW in the first three months of this year. That’s the capacity of two power stations. I made a comment to the Energy Minister four years ago that there was little probability we would have 20,000 MW of solar in the UK. Now three of our scenarios have more than 20,000 MW of solar by 2035.”

Big systems

That’s not to say that there will be no need for big networks in the future, Holliday adds. “We need big systems that are able to take power that is spilling over. And you are unlikely to economically balance energy needs without some centrally dispatched generation, whether that’s offshore wind, nuclear power or gas. In this sense we see ourselves as a stable long-term business around which new business models are emerging.”

What is the future of baseload generation in such a system? “That’s asking the wrong question”, says Holliday. “The idea of baseload power is already outdated. I think you should look at this the other way around. From a consumer’s point of view, baseload is what I am producing myself. The solar on my rooftop, my heat pump – that’s the baseload. Those are the electrons that are free at the margin. The point is: this is an industry that was based on meeting demand. An extraordinary amount of capital was tied up for an unusual set of circumstances: to ensure supply at any moment. This is now turned on its head. The future will be much more driven by availability of supply: by demand side response and management which will enable the market to balance price of supply and of demand. It’s how we balance these things that will determine the future shape of our business.”

“If you have nuclear power in the mix, you will have to think about the size of these plants. Today they are enormous”

So nuclear power stations will be used to meet peak demand? “If you have nuclear power in the mix, you will have to think about the size of these plants. Today they are enormous. You will need to find a way to get smaller, potentially modular nuclear power plants. I suspect they are going to be associated with fixed demand for businesses rather than household consumers in future, for demand that’s locked in. For small consumers you need flexibility.”

Energy incubator

How much of a problem is the integration of intermittent renewables in Holliday’s view? “It’s simplistic to only look at storage. We will have the intelligence available in the system to ensure power is consumed when it’s there and not when it’s not there.” This is what software companies are working on at the moment, says Holliday. “We have a partnership with New York University where we support a programme for startups. Of the 30 startups we are supporting, 25 are software companies. And this is called an energy incubator!”

These companies, says Holliday, “are building the apps that will transform the energy world, aggregating data, marrying supply and demand. It is a really exciting space to be in.” As an example he notes that “there will be massive amounts of data available from vehicle charging stations in the future. Intelligence is going to decide how this will be used.”

Does this mean network operators are currently overinvesting? For example, do we really need to build big new power lines to transport electricity from offshore wind power farms, as some people are saying? Holliday: “It depends. If you look at Germany, they will have huge offshore capacity in the north and a lot of the consumption in the south. How else can you match that than with transmission lines? But in the UK and Northeastern US, the challenge is to ensure we are smart and limit the building more capacity and sweat our assets.”

Electrifying

In the UK total electricity demand is expected to stay flat until the mid-2020s. Then it will take off again as “enormous amounts of heat and transport are likely to be electrified”. He is convinced “cars will go electric”. So will a major portion of heat. “As the World Energy Council’s Jazz and Symphony Scenarios show, for the moment you can’t square the Energy Trilemma without fossil fuels. But in the future what you really need is electricity.” So could the likes of Shell, BP and Total move into electricity? “If you want to be an energy company ten years from now, it’s hard not to think about that.”

“In a competitive retail market as an energy supplier where volume drives profits it is difficult to incentivise using less energy”

Interestingly, the UK and Northeastern US have very different market designs. The UK retail market is competitive and fragmented. “In the Northeastern US”, says Holliday, “95% of our customers want us to procure their power and gas and simply charge them the wholesale costs.” The advantage of the US structure is that “it allows us to really focus on reducing our customers’ demand without implications for our profit. In a competitive retail market as an energy supplier where volume drives profits it is difficult to incentivise using less energy.” Yet in both markets, new entrants will emerge that will transform the business, says Holliday. “They will ask consumers what they will really value. 100% reliability?  A low price? And they will find or design a product that is suitable.”

Reprinted with permission.


Check out our new 93-page EV report, based on over 2,000 surveys collected from EV drivers in 49 of 50 US states, 26 European countries, and 9 Canadian provinces.

Tags: , ,


About the Author

is many, many people. We publish a number of guest posts from experts in a large variety of fields. This is our contributor account for those special people. :D



  • eveee

    Everyone interested in what the CEO has to say should take a look at this video. Its the same concept, better explained.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=deWtgpheDJM

  • UncleB

    Did you know that American citizens pay
    huge “tariffs” on Chinese solar panels (200+%) because:

    American industrialists found it
    cheaper to bribe (lobbyists) government officials to impose
    “so-called’ dumping tariffs than to do as the Chinese have done:
    Invest heavily in totally automating their factories, streamlining
    their production systems, spending on research for faster, cheaper,
    better, SMARTer ways to compete on world markets, spend money on
    scientists to make more efficient product. Harper’s Handlers follow
    suit and in an act of corporate socialism, deprive Canadians of the
    opportunity for inexpensive solar power, and upheld the U.S.
    barracuda capitalists and their corporate purses over the common good
    for all Canada. Yes, we do, in fact, pay huge tariffs for cheaper and
    better Chinese solar panels in Harper’s Canada, now just a
    protectorate of the U.S.A. under governor Harper . . . Makes my
    little brown spot glow Maple leaf red just to think of this screwing
    by the man we elected.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Do you know for a fact that China was not illegally subsidizing the solar panels that Chinese companies were selling in other countries?

      • UncleB

        America cannot do likewise? Turn the world on to Renewables? Or are they owned and operated by BIG OIL International?

        • Bob_Wallace

          I’ve read your comment a few times.

          I didn’t find an answer to my question there.

    • jeffhre

      “American industrialists found itcheaper to bribe (lobbyists) government officials…” You do know that is was a German owned company which pursued this?

  • Ronald Brakels

    South Australia now gets about 6.5% of its total electricity generation from rooftop solar and about 32% from wind. Around noon its not unusual for it supply over a quarter of total electricity consumption in the state. We don’t have any baseload generators anymore. That is, generators that operate 24/7. We still have an operating coal plant but that has a tendency to follow seasonal load following and will be shut down for good, possibly within six months.

    And with the fall in the Australian dollar, that means the average unsubsidised cost of household solar in Australia is around $1.60 US. That means a 3 kilowatt system costs under $5,000 US. Since we’re not doing anything magic here, that’s the future cost of rooftop solar in the United States and the rest of the developed world.

  • vensonata

    I am glad Roger Lambert has challenged the assertion of rooftop PV as baseload. It gives us a chance to hash out some real numbers. Since Roger lives in Vermont let us take that as an example of what can be done with rooftop PV.
    First, Vermont electricity price is 17.1cents kwh..43% higher than the US average of 11.9 cents kwh.
    The average yearly Vermont electric bill is $1152.
    The average Vermont house uses about 7000 kwh year
    A 7kw PV array installed at the national average of $3.30watt and receiving the tax credit and Vermont rebate produces electricity for 12 cents kwh according to the NREL site PV Watts. That includes interest cost.

    That array produces, at a 55 degree angle fixed rooftop (optimized for December, the worst solar month), 8565 kwh per year. It’s value by displacing grid cost is $1445 per year.
    A really well insulated 1800 sq. ft. house in Vermont will require an average of 12 kwh per day through 120 days of winter for heat. This assumes using a high efficiency air source heat pump. (This example is not the highest standard passivehouse which is quite a bit lower in heating demand)

    The PV will produce on those same winter days an average of 17.7 kwh per day. The total demand including hot water and all plug loads will be, (in a well planned house) about 22 kw per day total. They are short about 500 kwh in actual production through the winter. The house over produces the rest of the year. (A 9 kw array would actually cover that winter deficit).

    That is grid hooked without battery. With battery the average cost of electricity will be, at 50% of production as stored. 12 cents (PV) plus 12 cents battery, =24 cents. Plus 50% only PV at 12cents. Total average 18cents kwh. So only 1 cent above grid rates.
    The cost per year of this 7000 kwh demand is $1260. About $100 more than grid supplied. And the total self produced electricity, presuming a 14 kwh battery is about 93%. 7% will be imported from the grid in winter. This will be more than cancelled by excess exported in the other 8 months of 1565 kwh.
    We need not discuss off grid, but it can be done quite easily by using natural gas backup for a trivial amount for winter heating.

    All of this is realistic and in fact has been done in Vermont and other cold states by numerous net zero energy houses. Some far exceed the efficiency numbers that I have used in the example.
    I am really intrigued by this new phrase that the grid CEO has used: “the solar on the rooftop is the baseload.”

    • Bob_Wallace

      He seems to be saying that rooftop solar is going to be there so the grid’s job is to work around it. Like the grid previously had to work around large thermal plants which were hard to stop and restart.

    • Bob Foley

      It is interesting to see average consumption of 7,000kWh pa. The UK national average is less than half of that.

      • vensonata

        The UK also has much smaller houses and their energy demand is also indeed, smaller at about 4500kwh year total. A 4 kw PV system would easily meet that demand even in the UK.
        The Germans are the kings of efficiency at 3500kwh year for the common all electric house. When they talk about batteries and PV they only need about a 4kwh battery to be able to produce and use 95% of their demand.

        The problem with the ordinary American hearing about solar and battery is that they simply look at their 12,000kwh average electric demand and think they must meet that. They first need to cut it in half through efficiency, then ask “what do I need?”
        There are 2000 sq ft houses in the savage climate of Canada that use good building techniques and their total energy demand per year is 4000kwh. (total heat demand -without heat pump!- is 1210 kwh per year)See “Naugler House”. A 10kw Pv array would completely provide all energy for that house year round including the 375 kwh needed for heat in January. It would be rather easy to go off grid as well with a modest battery bank and provide about 98% of demand through pure solar.

        • Roger Lambert

          Yes – It would be great if we all lived in a super-insulated super-efficient house. But, hundreds of millions of us in the U.S. alone do not.

          So, when we are thinking about how to design, pay for, and distribute the costs of our energy future – we need to do it around the real situation for all of us, not just the privileged few who own that super-duperhome.

          We need to do this in an egalitarian fashion, do we not?

    • Richard Foster

      Nice post for the numbers. Will need to adapt and recalculate based on my own numbers for future reference (of course costs will fall :-))

    • eveee

      Let me repeat. Hopefully this clears the air about what he actually said.

      See the qualifying phrase,

      “From a consumer’s point of view,”

      then following,

      “baseload is what I am producing myself. The solar on my rooftop, my heat pump – that’s the baseload. Those are the electrons that are free at the margin.”

      The meaning of that sentence is entirely altered when its taken out of context:

      “The solar on my rooftop, my heat pump – that’s the base load.”

      He is making an analogy between the utility power system on a large scale and the use of solar in the home on a small scale.

    • Roger Lambert

      The problem with your calculation is that most Americans do not live in “a really well-insulated house”. And they don’t have a high-tech electric heating system ( and an air-to air exchanger will NOT heat a Vermont house in winter, you need a ground system,btw) And the average household has 2.3 automobiles, which are not included in your calculations – they will need to be electric cars, each of which will use a household’s worth of juice a day.

      This idea – that we will not need huge amounts of large-scale power plants (that roof top PV will cover most of our needs, and is therefore a smart investment) is simply wrong.

      We are going to have to be building huge amounts of large-scale solar and wind and tide anyway, OK? So…. how could we spend our monies most efficiently?

  • Ivor O’Connor

    4.3 hours of PV on average in VT. How much energy do you need? Let’s calculate the cost…

  • Bob_Wallace

    And where in your link does one find the number in question?

    Come on, Roger. Step up your game, don’t just be a blowhard.

    • Roger Lambert

      The link gives two links for .pdf’s – part 1 and 2 of this large paper. The number in question is easy enough to find – the abstract alone starts giving solid numbers – but you would have discovered this in five seconds if you had actually bothered to read what is, in fact, the best available evidence on the topic.

      So…. who is the “blowhard” here?

      • Bob_Wallace

        Roger, no one here disagrees with your greater position on our need to get off fossil fuels and onto renewables.

        You are getting a very large amount of pushback from some very knowledgeable people over your “grandiose” statements and reluctance to bring facts into your comments.

        Saying something like ‘the facts that back me up are somewhere in a paper over there’ is not acceptable here. When asked people bring specifics, not generalities.

        Let’s look at an example. I asked you to backup a statement.

        You responded with “Read the best available evidence – a series of papers by Jacobson and Delucchi.” and gave a link to an article where one could find the links to those papers and go fish for the data that you should have provided.

        Here’s the short. If you aren’t willing to back up your claims when questioned, then don’t make any claims.

      • eveee

        1. Make a definitive statement.

        2. Find a quotation or graphs from a reference document.

        3. Provide the url to the document.

        4. Provide explanation and or calculations if necessary.

        No one is disputing J and D.

        Start with your statement

        ” Even with millions of roofs involved, it plays a small role.”

        Define small.

        Notice, I have not disagreed with anything you have said. I just require better documentation and confirmation, thats all.

  • Steve N

    Is my math way off? 1,500 MW in the last quarter times 4 is 6,000 per year. That somehow only equals 20,000 in 20 years?

    • Mike Dill

      The 1.5GW was for the USA, and the 20GW is for the UK.

    • JamesWimberley

      From the report, Holliday believes the 20GW is completely out of date.

  • Dag Johansen

    Nice to see someone in the industry acknowledge reality. We now live in a distributed generation world. Deal with it.

  • Roger Lambert

    ” “From a consumer’s point of view, the solar on the rooftop is going to be the baseload.”

    Ridiculous for a number of reasons:

    1) Most homeowners can’t afford rooftop solar
    2) Not a single renter can install rooftop solar
    3) Most people live in cities, where a rooftop solar install can not even come close to providing baseline power for the people who live in that building
    4) Most rooftops in the U.S. are in areas which don’t get any where near enough insolation – especially in the winter. These homes are almost all currently using fossil fuels for heating and all will have to be retrofitted with expensive electric heating systems – which no one can afford – and then run purely on electricity – which no one can afford either, unless somehow, magically, there are gigantic efficiency gains in electric heating technology..

    5) Homeowners simply should not be part of our national energy plan. The electric utility sector is the most highly socialistic (publicly-owned) sector of our economy. Romancing the notion that homeowners can exercise their “freedom” and “independence” by spending $30,000 of their own money for their own selfish little energy fiefdom is nothing less than the theft of a portion of our public commons system by corporate profiteers. Lots of money to be made by corporate types, don’t you see, through this privatization of a public system.

    6) Our renewable energy future, whether sun, wind, or tide, will be about siting large, efficient energy farms where conditions are ideal, and then sharing that energy over large distances. Make no mistake about it – do the math – rooftop solar will play a very small part of the big picture….. this whole ‘decentralization is the future” is propaganda contrived by entrepreneurs eager to sell you something they never could before.

    Keep the electric utility sector public. And learn to love cost-effective large-scale energy farms!

    • Ross

      1) There are zero down deals.
      2) Many countries have a lot of home ownership.
      3) People living in Apartments need less electricity anyway. There’ll be a lot of overlap with the rented sector.
      4) Germany is to the North of the US.
      5) The electrical utility sector has lacked real competition for a long time. Solar rooftops are helping to squeeze out the bloat.
      6) There’s a lot more decentralisation already.

      • I was going to say most of that lol, sweet counter argument.

      • egriff5514

        There are shared apartment block power schemes starting in Germany…

      • eveee

        Thanks for the list. I will give it a go, too.

        1. Zero down and leasing make it a monthly payment less than your current electric bill.
        2. Renters don’t need their own rooftop. The have community solar.
        3. Read the article. Its not about each owner being their own base load. Its about the aggregate solar, transmission connections, and demand management being the wave of the future, not base load.
        4. US solar insolation is greater than Germany everywhere. Solar is a success in Germany. If they can do it, we can do it.
        5. Homeowners should be part of our energy plan. They are a good part of our electricity consumption and most of our transportation energy consumption. That should not be ignored.
        6.Large energy farms share the disadvantages of all centralized power. If one large power plant is cut off by a transmission failure, it must be replaced instantly, necessitation much cost in reserves.

        The electric utility sector can and should have public transmission and private generation in competition.

    • Dag Johansen

      1) Actually, most homeowners can afford rooftop solar. Take out a home equity line, install solar, and then pay back the home equity line with the savings from the reduce electricity bill.
      2) Renters can participate in community solar. And Rental unit owners can install solar PV.
      3) So? There’s plenty of rooftops in the surrounding community.
      4) Most US rooftops get far more sun than rooftops in Germany where solar PV is hugely popular.
      5) I have no idea what you are trying to say with that conspiracy theory word salad. Oh, and most utilities are PRIVATE not public. You seem to be going off on a rant based on inaccurate information.
      6) No, that is silly. Why not do both? local generation reduces the need for transmission and reduces need for distribution. Rooftop solar will and currently is playing a big part of the future.

      • Aku Ankka

        Wrt (1), especially since banks have equity-backed loans so you get best of both worlds — collateralized loan (low interest), but without needing other collateral (that is, it’s not backed by your home).

        That list is and was just the usual FUD.

        • Roger Lambert

          It’s not FUD. It’s a more inclusive vision of our future than yours.. Hey – you want to go spend $30,000 so you can make a portion of your electricity needs yourself – be my guest. Just realize you are not doing very much to help anyone else. And what you are doing is not going very far to build all the new infrastructure that your country needs.

          • Ross

            You’re repeating false numbers.

          • Mike Dill

            Roger, I live in Las Vegas, where my AC runs 9 months of the year. Currently the cost from scratch to ZERO out my electric bill with rooftop PV would be $28,000 if installed today. You need to get some new numbers, as Ross has suggested.

            Oh, and my LCOE would be US$0.11 per KWH all in.

          • Roger Lambert

            You live in Las Vegas. You have no heating bills. You live i one of the few places on Earth that gets ideal insolation. And you still have not accounted for all your energy needs. You are going to at least double your electricity just to charge one EV car. The average American household has 2.3 cars. – So, multiply by more than two again. You will now need more than 4 times more electricity than right now.

            You don’t pay for gas or oil to heat your home. That takes a LOT of energy. I live in Vermont. Almost NOBODY heats with electric baseboard heat up here – it would easily cost ~ $4500.00 per year to do that – and we have very low electricity rates.

            So, multiply by another factor of two – Now you are up to about 8 -9 times more electricity than you currently use. Let’s call it seven because you use more AC than we do.

            Your roof ( and your rooftop system) needs to be seven times bigger than it is for you to ZERO out your bill.

            And, in Las Vegas, you probably get 1.5 to (I’m guessing here) 2 times more sun per year than we do up here.

            Think about it, and then tell me if my figures are “false” like Ron suggested.

          • Mike Dill

            Good of you to look at your numbers. Yes, heating in Vermont is expensive, as is cooling in Las Vegas. Yes, I probably get twice the annual insolation that you do, so your panel footprint would be about twice the size of mine. About a thousand square miles of desert out here get ‘excellent’ solar insolation, so my situation is not exactly unique.
            I was not aware that we were talking about the additional electric cost from having EVs based on you previous post, and for my short commute (10 miles each way) I would need to generate another 7 KWH each each day (based on 0.3kwh/mile US average) for each car. Not a substantial burden.
            You had not mentioned zeroing out the bill but I did, and if I wanted to go off-grid the cost would be exceptionally high. With an efficient house, (which I admit is rare), you should be able to reduce your demand and go all electric, for much less than the amount you quoted.
            I did have $400.00 monthly electric bills for cooling my house, so I understand how heating and cooling can be costly. I did an energy audit and added insulation, which dropped that cost in half. I do know of a (nearly) Net-Zero house in Fairbanks Alaska, which uses
            the solar insolation there to mostly keep the house warm, so I know that
            it is possible in Vermont.
            I presume that you have also had an energy audit and also have a much more energy efficient house than those people that you are basing your assumptions on.

          • Roger Lambert

            Oh – it is surely possible to have a tight home, intelligently designed, which can use passive solar to heat itself. I’d like one, in fact. Could you buy me one? See, I can’t afford it.

            And there are probably40 million households in the same situation in the U.S. So, we have a huge problem:

            We must all switch to electricity for all our needs – but we won’t be able to afford to do so at the electricity rates our current utility systems charge. But – those utilities are all using fossil fuel tech – which is useless in future for generation.

            So, do we not have an opportunity to not just rebuild ourselves a new infrastructure, but to also change the utility paradigm? Why not change to 100% public ownership and output really inexpensive electricity?

            The great thing about green power is that there are huge upfront capital costs, but no fuel costs. So, why not put the capital expense on the national debt on an easy payment plan, and then enjoy the same free juice as any homeowner who has paid off his panels? The extra taxes we would all pay would be more than payed for by the annual savings in our pockets because we would not be spending any money for fossil fuels (~ $3200.00 per person every year)

            We COULD do this. But not if everyone is blind to the concept of 100% public ownership. Which is a very different thing than the supposedly “empowering” idea of ME paying a corporation to put PV panels on MY roof for MY needs only.

          • eveee

            Quit with the one lightbulb one solar cell model of the electric power system. Its ridiculously naive.

            Admit that better experts than you have done the studies and figured an energy future out.

            Try reading NREL.

            They certainly didn’t do the kind of armchair paper napkin theorizing you espouse.

            http://cleantechnica.com/2015/04/13/80-renewables-by-2050-in-us-says-nrel/

            For gosh sakes educate yourself so we don’t have to repeat these silly discussions. Speak from the expert testimony, not your own limited meanderings. Inform yourself.

            And lets stop repeating the mistake of claiming that because in one isolated case in one area we can’t be X percent renewable, we can’t do it as an overall US average.

            Its myopic.

          • Roger Lambert

            I have no idea what you just said, except that it was demeaning.

            Ok – you asked for experts. I quoted Jacobsen and Delucchi, who have published the best available information in peer-reviewed journal articles. My “armchair paper napkin” calculations are based on their work.

          • eveee

            Ok. Sorry, try again. Your statement has more to do with public than private ownership, so I guess my response was not quite direct to that last statement.

            In fact, I agree that the situation is very non ideal and public ownership of the grid would be better.

            It more refers to the constant referral to one region of the country or another.

            My statement has to do with the fact that you do not need to meet some standard of low carbon in each and every locale to meet a goal on average over a wider area.

            An efficient transmission grid enables that.

            That is more in keeping with your idea of public ownership and a larger, better planned grid, where I agree Balkanization is endemic and unfortunate.

            I feel its better to find practical ways of implementation than to hope to change the system completely. Change like that is not likely.

            I just feel its better to accept some change even if not perfect, than reject it in favor of change that is unlikely to happen soon.

          • eveee

            More inclusive rejecting private over public and distributed over centralized?

            You have it backwards. You are more exclusive.

            Maybe you don’t get it. We are advocating all of those options. You are restricting options to your preferred choices.

          • Roger Lambert

            Go ahead – put up PV on your roof. Then tell me honestly – how much more would you like to spend in increased taxes to pay your share for a new system that would give power to everyone?

            PV on YOUR roof for YOUR needs is kinds selfish in that light, isn’t it?

          • eveee

            Utility solar and rooftop both get the ITC subsidy. But the utility adds profits and charges retail. That raises the question of who benefits. Your comparison is incomplete. Since you asked the question, its only fair that you finish it. It needs further detailed analysis.

            I get your philosophical approach of “common good”. Thats fine. It just needs some detail.

            http://solaroutreach.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/CommercialITC_Factsheet_Final.pdf

          • Aku Ankka

            Huh? $30k would actually be almost exactly cost of system that would fully offset residential electricity usage of my household. This based on our electrical bills, current price of systems.
            And why reduction of 10,000kwH of electricity generation annually would not help anyone else is beyond me. Seems like a very simple and straight-forward way to reduce the need for utility to produce electricity using other means.

            More importantly, however, it’s not a zero-sum game. I have no plans to spend $30k on building a power plant (other than PV panels on roof); nor would do so even if I did not add panels. Conversely, regardless of panels, I will do other necessary investments for improved insulation, new appliances, as need and opportunity arises.

            Haters keep hating I guess.

      • Roger Lambert

        1) What world do you live in? $30,000 to make a portion of your own (and nobody else’s) electricity use IS expensive. Ridiculously expensive on a per watt basis compared to large-scale erected in the American Southwest.

        And since when should individuals shoulder the burden of building their own utilities? That should be, and always has been, the proper bailiwick of government. To my ears, it is like you telling me that you are going to drill your own well, even though you are on the municipal water system; or you are going to install your own home sprinkler system – even tho you have a fire station down the street. Or that individual homeowners should buy their own bodyguards instead of relying on the police force; or that we all should hire a driveway installer to lay down 1/8th mile of blacktop and if everyone does it, hey! we’ll have a new Interstate Highway System.

        2) Community solar makes a lot more sense to me than rooftop. But why not think bigger? High voltage DC transmission lines means that green electricity can be generated very far away from where it is used. So, why not -if we are going to spend so much money on solar anyway – do it in a way where we get the best bang for the buck, and everyone shares the economic burden and enjoys the economic benefits together?

        3) – No, there are NOT “plenty of other rooftops. In your model, they are already being used for that building’s owner. Jesus H Christ, most of our people live in urban cities, where thousands of people can live in a single building that has maybe 15,000 square feet of rooftop. The math doesn’t work at all.

        4) Germany is doing a good job with what they have – but it is still going to have to find some way to build about ten times more production capacity to replace their fossil fuel use down the road.

        5) I don’t know where you live – but in the U.S.about 50% of energy producers are public or quasi public. And the percentage used to be higher.

        So, yeah, I do see a bit of a conspiracy when folks like Elon Musk – who makes profit when people put up their own PV systems – gets out in the media and starts talking about the “freedom” and “empowerment” you are going to receive when you give your money to him in return for OOoh! it is SO Cool ‘non distributed power’.

        Here is some math for you: You spend $30,000 and you get a rooftop system that will make a small percentage of the total electricity your household will need to give up fossil fuels completely. If we all spent that amount of money collectively, we could have a brand spanking new 100% renewable utility system, that would meet our National needs for the next 100 years without need of spending another dime for fossil fuels – complete with smart grid, all homes retrofitted with electrical heating systems, and probably enough left over to put a Nissan Leaf in every driveway. (10 Trillion bucks worth split among 350 million people)

        If 10 trillion bucks seems like an awful lot of money – it is only ~ 7 years of fossil fuel spending in the U.S.

        6) Sorry – but rooftop solar is playing a tiny role right now. Rooftop solar represents about 1/2 of all solar (the other half is (already) made by large-scale farms) and all of solar represents about 0.5 – 0.9% of total U.S. electricity production.

        So, rooftop solar provides between 0.25 – 0.45 % of total electricity.

        And that is current electricity use – with about $1.5 Trillion dollars worth of fossil fuels still being burned. All of which will have to be replaced with electricity.

        So, right now, rooftop solar provides about 6 one-hundredths of one per cent (0.06%) of the amount of electricity we will actually need to go fossil fuel free. That is not “a big part of the future”.

        At least not yet. The question is – how can we best spend our money?

        • egriff5514

          May I suggest that there are multiple, regional solutions, some more appropriate based on where you live?
          It makes absolute sense for home owners to install solar in the south and west US, where good insolation delivers at times of peak (A/C) demand.
          There are some solar solutions for cities already – parking lots, for example?
          There will need to be a different solution for Vermont.
          What’s the problem with that?

          • Roger Lambert

            Nothing. Except is it a Balkanized approach.

            Why should Arizona homeowners put up PV on their roof when they could pay a fraction per watt for PV installed in a large farm as a collective project?

            I am just saying that if we all work together in common interest, we could have a much more intelligently-designed, lower-cost, and better integrated system than the free-for-all we are seeing the public-utility system degrade into right now.

            I am saying that with a power-generation utility system that has no fuel costs a socialized public system makes more sense than a corporate for-profit system. We have to design a system that allows us all to heat and cool our homes, have a complete transportation system, a complete industrial process system, etc and have people and business able to afford it.

            And we need a system that can built – the whole thing – on a tight time schedule. We need to build this basically NOW. We can’t afford to dither away another two decades seeing if an economic-political system which doesn’t want renewable energy to somehow build us the new national utility system we need. And the best way to get that, I am pretty sure, is to demand do their job and build the damn system already.

          • eveee

            Why you ask? Why not.

            I disagree that fundamentally utility solar is better than rooftop.

            User costs are retail, not wholesale, and their energy is local. It reduces transmission and distribution requirements and peak loads at the load, not the source. Thats a big capital savings.

            In a world where everyone pays taxes for energy, but doesn’t pay electric bills to utilities, because the government owns all utilities, there might be some hope of that. But thats fantasy. In the real world, its not going to happen anytime soon.

            And I agree,

            ” that if we all work together in common interest, we could have a much more intelligently-designed, lower-cost, and better integrated system than the free-for-all we are seeing the public-utility system degrade into right now.”

            and

            “I am saying that with a power-generation utility system that has no fuel costs a socialized public system makes more sense than a corporate for-profit system. We have to design a system that allows us all to heat and cool our homes, have a complete transportation system, a complete industrial process system, etc and have people and business able to afford it.

            And we need a system that can built – the whole thing – on a tight time schedule. We need to build this basically NOW. We can’t afford to dither away another two decades seeing if an economic-political system which doesn’t want renewable energy to somehow build us the new national utility system we need. And the best way to get that, I am pretty sure, is to demand do their job and build the damn system already.”

            Retail rates are already having an effect in places like Germany, Hawaii, and Australia. Anyplace with high retail rates is going to install rooftop solar.

            In some of those places, the utilities are the most intransigent and unlikely to change.

            Like I said before. You are campaigning for major economic-political change. While that may be appealing, and you are growing impatient, that change will not happen earlier than rooftop solar.

            Lets be more practical.

            There are ways for solar to be adopted both rooftop and utility in the meantime.

            The Balkanized approach you refer to, I agree is not satisfying. That is the nature of the US power system. You have to start from where we are today and get there step by step.

            An overnight economic-political revolution is not in the cards.

        • eveee

          You are making stuff up. Show us the 30,000 dollars in detail. References, the works.

          But better still, try to understand that neither the utility executive quoted, nor I, are saying replace all centralized generation with rooftop solar and go off grid.

          Thats a complete misread of the article and an extremist point of view.

          • Roger Lambert

            References again? I have named them repeatedly – Jacobson and Delucchi. Read them. In a nutshell they say California can go fossil-free by 2030 with a $1 trillion investment in green tech. California uses 1/6th of the USA’s energy. So, about $6 trillion will buy us a new green utility. I rounded up to $10 trillion to be conservative and to pay for a few other things, like retrofitting northern homes with electric heaters.

            $10 trillion divided by the number of American citizens = $30k.

          • eveee

            You misread and misunderstood the statement by not reading it in its full context.

            Lets do that now, shall we?

            There is a key delimiter omitted immediately preceding the statement.

            “From a consumer’s point of view, baseload is what I am producing myself.”

            Now what does that mean?

            You have to read the rest of the paragraph to get a sense of what he means.

            “What is the future of baseload generation in such a system? “That’s asking the wrong question”, says Holliday. “The idea of baseload power is already outdated. I think you should look at this the other way around. From a consumer’s point of view, baseload is what I am producing myself. The solar on my rooftop, my heat pump – that’s the baseload. Those are the electrons that are free at the margin. The point is: this is an industry that was based on meeting demand. An extraordinary amount of capital was tied up for an unusual set of circumstances: to ensure supply at any moment. This is now turned on its head. The future will be much more driven by availability of supply: by demand side response and management which will enable the market to balance price of supply and of demand. It’s how we balance these things that will determine the future shape of our business.”

            He is questioning the concept of centralized power plants and that existing concept of “base load” meeting demand 24/7 and instead suggests that we look at this from a different point of view. Namely, instead of random demand and large capital expenditures for centralized plants to meet it, distributed supply and managed loads to balance supply and demand.

            He even makes pains to say that in no way does he mean to completely eliminate the existing methods.

            “That’s not to say that there will be no need for big networks in the future, Holliday adds. “We need big systems that are able to take power that is spilling over. And you are unlikely to economically balance energy needs without some centrally dispatched generation, whether that’s offshore wind, nuclear power or gas.”

            That statement is a pretty unequivocal contradiction to your applied assumption of interpreting his comments to mean 100% rooftop solar replacing existing centralized base load power plants.

            You have ignored his new definition of base load and instead kept the old one, leading you to narrowly and literally interpret his statement to mean that rooftop solar would replace the existing base load plants in exactly the same manner they are used now.

            In the words of Roseanne Rosannadanna. Nevermind.

          • eveee

            Those are really shaky calculations with many assumptions. You have misquoted and misinterpreted J and D in the past.

            I don’t have time to see if you misquoted again, but one thing you left out is what the cost of the conventional system would be, business as usual. BAU.

            Before you go answering that one, I have an answer from NREL, but its different, because they did not include absolutely all energy, but did include some estimates for EV growth. They concluded in their 2014 update that the 80% renewable by 2050 estimate would have costs about the same as BAU.

            Here is the critique of your last mangling of J and D.

            ‘Since the claim was that Jacobson and Delucchi said something I looked it up.

            Here it is from the Abstract at the top of the J and D paper.

            “reduces world power demand by 30%”. (by 2030)

            http://web.stanford.edu/group/

            For electricity to increase by 6x, electricity would have to be one sixth of 70% or 11.66% of todays global total energy. Doesn’t add up.

            J and D includes everything converted to electricity including ground sourced heat pumps, etc.

            Electricity was 16% of global energy in 2013.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/

            I will hazard a guess the the 6x comes from 16% being one sixth of 100%. Thats a mistake if energy used reduces because of electrical efficiency.

            Note. J and D incorporates exected EIA growth into that 30% reduction.

            Now we can opine about the J and Ds estimate, but I would like to get it straight about what they actually said.”

          • Roger Lambert

            “Those are really shaky calculations with many assumptions. You have misquoted and misinterpreted J and D in the past”

            Shaky are they? Those are peer-reviewd results from two Stanford Phd’s. You don’t understand them, so you say they are wrong (!)

            You, sir, are a maroon.

          • eveee

            No need use ad hominem.

            Once again, you misinterpret what I said. I did not say J and D were wrong.

            You further state without proof that I do not understand them.

            Its not J and D thats shaky,

            Its your misinterpretation and misquoting.

            I tried to tell you this before. When you quote, quote exactly with actual quotation marks, by cut and paste. Then you avoid mistakes.

            The kind of calculations you made in this case are good for a ballpark estimate. Exact numbers and variation will not come from them.

            You made a rash statement that DOE didn’t do anything useful. (paraphrase) I corrected it by pointing out all the useful work NREL has done as a department of DOE.

            The specific misquote and misinterpretation of J and D is as follows. This is responding to an earlier article.

            J and D does not add up to 6x increase in electricity production.

            “‘Since the claim was that Jacobson and Delucchi said something I looked it up.

            Here it is from the Abstract at the top of the J and D paper.

            “reduces world power demand by 30%”. (by 2030)

            http://web.stanford.edu/group/

            For electricity to increase by 6x, electricity would have to be one sixth of 70% or 11.66% of todays global total energy. Doesn’t add up.

            J and D includes everything converted to electricity including ground sourced heat pumps, etc.

            Electricity was 16% of global energy in 2013.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/

            I will hazard a guess the the 6x comes from 16% being one sixth of 100%. Thats a mistake if energy used reduces because of electrical efficiency.

            Note. J and D incorporates exected EIA growth into that 30% reduction.

            Now we can opine about the J and Ds estimate, but I would like to get it straight about what they actually said.”

    • Jan Veselý

      ad 6) Right now, in my home country, the electricity from huge centralised power plants is cheap, really cheap but once it has to be transported to my home, this transfer cost twice as much as is wholesale price + taxes. So, PV on the rooftop is cheaper then this power and is heading to be cheaper even in the case it would be given for free by central sources.

      • Roger Lambert

        I don’t know where you live. And your electricity rate policy appears to suck. On the other hand – everybody’s electricity rate policy sucks – because renewables just don’t fit very well into a fossil-fuel based utility model. But they fit REALLY well with a public non profit model. Especially one which is socialistic:

        New capital costs of new renewable infrastructure are spread over decades on Federal notes. There are no fuel costs, just maintenance costs. Essentially, electricity could be doled out for free or close to it. – certainly without a model based on use. Just like a homeowner gets “free” electricity after his rooftop capital costs are paid off, so can a nation.

        And we are going to need cheap electricity – to displace fossil fuels. And to allow people to be able to afford to heat their homes without economic hardship.

        • Richard Foster

          5-10 years and both onshore wind and Solar PV will be cheaper than the fuel for coal power.

        • Mike Dill

          Roger, You need to do some independent thinking and research. CZK is Czech Republic Koruna, currently exchanges at about 4.2 cents. So Jan has a grid electric rate of about $0.17 per KWH. Solar PV, even without any government subsidy makes sense at even that level.

          • Jan Veselý

            Ignorance is a bliss.
            And BTW, PV makes sense even here at 50 deg latitude. Cut the cost by half (so, in 2020) and we will get under transmission costs.

          • Roger Lambert

            I need to do some independent thinking? That’s a little funny, you know, as I seem to be the only person saying what I am saying! 😀

            I understand that solar is cost-effective. My beef is that there seems to be a widespread meme asserting itself that because of this, solar (and wind) should not receive government subsidies. This infuriates me – because we need renewables, and that is what subsidies are for.

            But you see, I want renewable power for ALL of us – every person in the world. And when I see people here arguing about THEIR good ethics to put THEIR pv panels on THEIR roofs to provide THEIR electricity I do believe that there are better ways to spend renewable energy dollars – especially subsidies.

        • Jan Veselý

          I live in a colder climate than in Vermont, I heat my house via electricity (ground source heat pump) and my heating bill (including hot water) is less than 500 USD per year. It costs less than our two cellphone tariffs.

          • Roger Lambert

            I am very interested in that! How much does it cost to install? $30,000? If so, it would take about 15 years to recoup the cost. Not bad.

          • Jan Veselý

            It cost about 10,000 USD all in including ground collector. It has the same cost as I would have to pay for gas heating system. Real killer was the cost of 10 m connection the gas utility wanted from me to pay. They are just a bunch of morons.
            BTW.: I have 4 units of heat from 1 unit of electricity in average.

          • Roger Lambert

            Thank you for the information. We have hot water gas heat using a boiler and radiators. Our boiler is ~ twenty years old – passed its theoretical lifetime, so I must investigate options.

    • JamesWimberley

      Holliday is the point man responsible for ensuring that British households and firms can enjoy a secure electricity supply. His opinions are likely to be better informed than yours or mine, and they surely aren’t ridiculous: a major blackout would cost him his job. Note that he didn’t say a word in defence of Hinkley C. The project is going nowhere.

      • Roger Lambert

        I admit I suffer from a U.S.A. bias. I don’t know the situation in Britain. My understanding is that you have large disadvantages compared to the U.S. – we have the American Southwest – huge tracts of open land with ideal insolation. Solar could be very easy and cheap for us. HVDC transmission lines are very efficient at moving large amounts of juice long distances with good efficiency (~ 7% loss over 1000 kilometers).

        We don’t share any latitude with you – Britain is far to our north – and our north is far from having good insolation characteristics com[pared to our south. Britain’s future is going to have a much different mix of renewable technologies than the U.S. – I imagine you will need a lot more wind and tide. Which, of course, are big-scale distributed projects.

        And I would still contend that his position IS ridiculous. I doubt Britain can produce enough baseline juice with rooftop solar to cover your current (today) electricity needs. And you – like the rest of world – are going to need multiple times that amount to replace fossil fuel calories.

        • Richard Foster

          No-one expects the UK to power itself by rooftop solar alone.

          I expect most of our electricity needs (up to 50-60%) to come from a mix of onshore and offshore wind, perhaps 20-30% from solar (both rooftop and ground-mounted) and the remainder from other sources.

          These are purely estimates though.

          • Roger Lambert

            50-60 % of power to come from onshore and off-shore wind sure sounds like:

            Large Power Stations For Baseload Power” to me.

            (Just sayin’ to all the kind-hearted folks who told me I was an idiot for contradicting Steve Holliday! :D)

            You know – there was a plan proposed for Britain to get a lot of power from Northern Africa solar farms. It was technically feasible. Long distance transmission using High Voltage DC lines is pretty efficient. Politics (and probably corruption from oil companies) stopped the proposal.

            Too bad – if you look at the globe, there are deserts sprinkled around the equator such that, if we wanted to, we could always have one or two of them shipping electricity everywhere in the world.

          • eveee

            Solartec was and is a good idea. I hope it will be built. But now you need to take a long deep breath and consider the ramifications. Any large centralized power plant has its downsides.

            A large centralized desert solar source would act like a gigantic centralized base load plant just like today, with all of its headaches. It would probably be run as CSP with storage to get maximum transmission utilization through a single large HVDC connection.

            There is increased distribution necessary to spread that large power source out to many loads. There are also more headaches about reliability with a single transmission and utilization factor.

            What the CEO said is there are downsides to meeting variable demand with inflexible base load. It costs plenty extra to supply the variable load with gas peakers or other flexible sources. Demand management is cheaper.

            You need to look at the technical details first before applying “common good” philosophy.

            Centralized solar may not be best technically in all situations. The CEO says so. He even makes pains to say that does not mean centralized is dismissed. He merely says there needs to be room for both in proper amounts and that the old way of just building more power plants to match demand is inefficient.

        • Karl the brewer

          I’m in the centre of the UK in a well managed – from an electrical usage point of view – 4 person household. Our annual average electricity use is 10.9 kwh per day, which drops as low as 7 kwh in the summer and I reckon i can get that down to just under 6 kwh with a couple of well placed smart sockets.

          Now clearly i’m not going to go off-grid anytime soon but a ‘solar baseload’ of between 6 and 11 kwh per day is not out of the question. Especially with a nice shiny battery 🙂

          • Roger Lambert

            How many electric cars does your 4-person household have?

          • Karl the brewer

            Zero. I have a bicycle and ‘the family’ has a diesel.

        • egriff5514

          The UK has excellent wind, but more of it in winter.
          We’ll use solar to offset daytime summer demand, wind in winter.
          (We have got as much as 4.9 GW briefly from solar this summer, at times of an approx. 38GW demand)

        • globi

          This building in rainy Switzerland is producing 500% as much energy with PV on its surface as the whole building requires (including hot water and heating):
          http://www.ee-news.ch/uploads/articles/images/401852614c88c8b899713c8c430b3ba44ae73781.png

          http://www.solaragentur.ch/dokumente//M-11-12-01%20MedienM-PSchibli-Euorp.%20Solarpreis_Gams.pdf

          A lot can be gained with efficient lighting, good insulation and heat pump heating.

        • eveee

          Did he say solar produced baseline? No. He did not.

          Its a straw man. Its your rubric, not his.

          He said the concept was an anachronism and that a better method is to use demand management and other methods coupled with renewables.

          Please try to be more accurate.

          If you say he said something, try to quote him like this,

          “Some people think they have the answer, whatever it may be. But I believe there will be different answers for different places, rural and cities, and for different customers. That’s why flexibility and agility are key.”

          Almost sounds like he is speaking to you.

          “That’s not to say that there will be no need for big networks in the future, Holliday adds. “We need big systems that are able to take power that is spilling over. And you are unlikely to economically balance energy needs without some centrally dispatched generation, whether that’s offshore wind, nuclear power or gas. In this sense we see ourselves as a stable long-term business around which new business models are emerging.”

          What is the future of baseload generation in such a system? “That’s asking the wrong question”, says Holliday. “The idea of baseload power is already outdated. I think you should look at this the other way around. From a consumer’s point of view, baseload is what I am producing myself. The solar on my rooftop, my heat pump – that’s the baseload. Those are the electrons that are free at the margin. The point is: this is an industry that was based on meeting demand. An extraordinary amount of capital was tied up for an unusual set of circumstances: to ensure supply at any moment. This is now turned on its head. The future will be much more driven by availability of supply: by demand side response and management which will enable the market to balance price of supply and of demand. It’s how we balance these things that will determine the future shape of our business.”

          His comments are much more nuanced than your shorthand solar equals base load would suggest.

          If you read it carefully, you get more than that.

          • Roger Lambert

            He said:

            ” …the solar on the rooftop is going to be the baseload.”

            So…. did I get him wrong?

          • Bob_Wallace

            Yes. You need to read more carefully and get the context.

            It’s a poorly worded comment and the meaning is not clear.

          • eveee

            A Roseanne Roseannadanna moment. Nevermind.

          • eveee

            Yes. You took the statement out of context. Starting with the headline,

            “National Grid CEO: Large Power Stations For Baseload Power Is Outdated”

            That should have been a clue to you that he was talking about a new paradigm where

            ” Large Power Stations For Baseload Power Is Outdated”

            You interpreted that literally without noting that the concept of base load is outdated, not just centralized base load power plants.

            The new concept is variable renewables, dispatch able, flexible renewables, and other flexible sources.

            He even says so.

            “But I believe there will be different answers for different places, rural and cities, and for different customers. That’s why flexibility and agility are key.”

            Its crystal clear that he is talking about a new way of looking at the situation, a new paradigm.

            Thats why he uses the word base load in a way different from the classical meaning of a centralized power plant.

            Are you really so naive as to think that the CEO of a major utility doesn’t know the difference and doesn’t know that distributed rooftop solar is not classically the same as centralized base load power plants with their dispatch ability and capacity vaue?

            You took the statement completely out of context from the entire article to get the old meaning.

            Particularly, the preceding phrase should have been a clue. In fact the whole paragraph changes the meaning drastically. You read his statement literally and out of context to get the wrong meaning. He does not mean literally that the same base load generation plus peakers approach applies to the situation with distributed rooftop solar. Quite the contrary. He makes great pains to explain that approach and paradigm is past. You seemed to have missed it completely.

            “What is the future of baseload generation in such a system? “That’s asking the wrong question”, says Holliday. “The idea of baseload power is already outdated. I think you should look at this the other way around. From a consumer’s point of view, baseload is what I am producing myself. The solar on my rooftop, my heat pump – that’s the baseload. Those are the electrons that are free at the margin. The point is: this is an industry that was based on meeting demand. An extraordinary amount of capital was tied up for an unusual set of circumstances: to ensure supply at any moment. This is now turned on its head. The future will be much more driven by availability of supply: by demand side response and management which will enable the market to balance price of supply and of demand. It’s how we balance these things that will determine the future shape of our business.”

    • Karl the brewer

      I suggest you contact him.

      Here is his twitter account – https://twitter.com/ngsteveh

      Here is his Linkedin page (you may need to join) – https://www.linkedin.com/pub/steve-holliday/7/5a3/b3a

      I’m sure he and the rest of the UK could benefit from your superior knowledge and experience in these matters.

      • Roger Lambert

        All I’m saying… is do the math. Rooftop gets you only a very small part of the way. And it is – by far – the most expensive way to do solar.

        The future lies in large-scale.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Show us some math, Roger.

          So far all you’ve done is talk in generalities with no backup for your claims. What percentage of its total electricity could the US get from rooftops?

          • Mike Dill

            Bob, I have done the math for where I live, and I need 6KW of PV on my roof and 8KWH of electrical storage for 95% independence. That assumes that I will be dumping about 5% of my total supply when there is too much sun, and that about 5% of the time I will need to draw from another source. Currently doing that would cost me about $0.20 per kwh, as the batteries are expensive (and over half the total cost).

            Without the batteries 5KW on the roof gets me 70% of the power I need, at a cost of $0.11 per KWH.

            I agree with your assessment that Roger needs to go back and look at how solar can work using the current costs.

        • jeffhre

          “All I’m saying… is do the math. Rooftop gets you only a very small part of the way. And it is – by far – the most expensive way to do solar.

          The future lies in large-scale.”

          I already own my rooftop. It’s paid for so there cost savings in using that space for power. It avoids expensive transmission expenses as well. Especially when applied to new construction in lieu of conventional power supply systems. Community solar should be made available for existing homes and renters. Distributed solar adds value for the entire grid as shown by studies from Nevada and California, that include all costs.

    • Ivor O’Connor

      Ridiculous because it makes no sense unless you redefine words. Baseload is the power that is always there 24×7. Solar is only available a few hours a day.

      • eveee

        He really is not saying solar alone in the base load generation.

        Read it carefully, noting the qualifying phrase leading into the statement.

        “From a consumer’s point of view,”

        “From a consumer’s point of view, baseload is what I am producing myself. The solar on my rooftop, my heat pump – that’s the baseload. Those are the electrons that are free at the margin.”

        He also used the term baseload twice in the same sentence in a confusing way for laymen. Base load describes the load and is also used to describe the generation source. Not my ideal notion of terminology, but thats what the industry jargon evolved.

        Normally that means both load and generation that is fixed and does not vary, a fiction in itself, or rather an idealization of a real world situation, because there are variations in both, however small.

        The key is the use of the language, “free at the margin”.

        That shows his thinking.

        After that, he loses me a bit. I have to think about that one.

        • Ivor O’Connor

          🙂

    • nakedChimp

      I don’t get your panic..?!
      IF you don’t want or can’t have (enough) solar on your roof – or anyone else for that matter – who cares?
      You’ll just get some sort of RE (be it wind or pv or hydro or tidal or biomass or..) from some distance away, delivered to you by your ‘local’ or ‘global’ energy distributor.
      If large scale 100 km away solar pv is more efficient and economic than local rooftop pv it will be done, no matter what.

      The electric distribution should stay public yes, but that’s about the only thing and that’s also true for any other distribution enabling framework like roads, water, telephone/internet or rail… having said that, you’re off on a limb there labeling that socialistic.

      • Roger Lambert

        “If large scale 100 km away solar pv is more efficient and economic than local rooftop pv it will be done, no matter what.”

        Well, it IS more efficient and economic, but, no – it is not being done as much as it should, compared to rooftop. Why? Because it is not as easy for corporate profiteers to make money on, that’s why. A public project will involve competitive bids, discount pricing, minimal extraneous costs.

        Elon Musk (and I love Tesla, btw) is out there speaking to homeowners about the “freedom” and “enablement” you can get if you privatize and buy PV panels and a home battery from him. He is SELLING this, and people are buying into it. And our energy grid becomes less public every day because of it. I don’t think that is a good thing at all.

        And.. public utilities, public roads, public police and fire departments, public schools – those ARE socialistic programs. What else would they be?

    • Bob Foley

      How many KW of solar PV does $30,000 buy? In the UK only a extremely few houses would have enough roof space to spend anywhere near that much on roof top solar, that alone use that much electricity.

      • Bob_Wallace

        The average price of installed roof-top solar in the US is currently $3.50/kWh. After the 30% federal subsidy that’s $2.45. So $30k would install about 12.2 kW of solar. Huge amount.

Back to Top ↑