Solar Cost

I noticed a message back on 2002 and have seen various comments regarding the subject of solar cost so I felt the urge to post a response.
Until now solar cost has indeed been an issue. Solar residential systems have not been a very cost effective method of fuel but if like me you've been out pricing things lately you will know that prices on pre made solar power kits are coming down almost daily. Technological advances along with more manufacturers getting into the marketplace are driving costs down while boosting efficiency of these kits at the same time. Even Ikea are getting into the fray! However, generating solar power at home couldn't be simpler. To generate the electricity all you really have to do is put up the solar panels in an appropriate location within your house and wire them up. Virtually all the stuff you need to build your own system you can buy at the local hardware store and over time it can pay for itself many times over thereby saving you a bundle so with a little knowledge and the use of a good solar how guide you can have your own solar system up and running in no time. Helping you get off the grid and possibly even sell your excess power back to the utility company for credits! There are a lot of misconceptions about solar power some interesting ones here www.solarhowblog.com One is - It's cloudy, so solar hot water systems won't work Truth- For example, Seattle in the USA receives a Good rating from FindSolar.com meaning that enough solar energy is available on a typical day to provide for most solar hot water needs. Seattle has about 30% more sun per year than Germany- the current world leader in solar installations. Another - It's too cold in the winter for solar hot water. Truth- Even in sub zero temperatures, solar hot water collectors can reach temperatures greater than the cold water introduced to your domestic water system, meaning there is less energy needed to heat it to the desired level and you are saving money.
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If anyone might be in any doubt, that is spam from
snipped-for-privacy@thedreammarketeer.com Origin : 79.153.164.117
snipped-for-privacy@thedreammarketeer.com Origin : 79.153.164.117
snipped-for-privacy@thedreammarketeer.com Origin : 79.153.164.117
snipped-for-privacy@thedreammarketeer.com Origin : 79.153.164.117
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Harry (M1BYT) (L)
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I think most of us know that, but solar power is a very interesting subject. I bought a few large panels from ebay and stuck them on a shed roof which is south facing. I wired the panels through a regulator to two large car batteries from a diesel car and they connect to an invertor. My lights and some power outlets are connected to the invertor through a circuit I built. When the battery level is above 11v the invertor is switched in and the mains switched out. If the invertor stops working or the voltage drops then verything goes back to mains. I use fluorescent lighting and energy savers everywhere! The low current power outlets will also run my laptop and a DAB radio for quite some time. The switching is so fast it's not noticable. Obviously I couldn't run a TV for long and a 10KW shower is out of the question, but this saves me a fortune in electric costs. I can even use this system to charge a laptop and many other devices.
Give it a try, altering the output from your consumer unit is not too difficult. I was going to try a wind turbine but they are next to useless! If you like DIY you can make one from a car alternator bought from the local scrap yard.
Experiment and try things out.
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Ian wrote:

What did it cost you, and how much power do you reckon you get?
Andy
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Anyone fancy checking my calculations?
On Fri, 24 Oct 2008 19:10:49 +0100, Ian wrote:

... snip

There are roughly 8000 hours in a year. The sun is up for 4000. However it's only really sunny for (maybe?) 25% of the time - so we get 1000 hours of sunshine per year. Now, even if your panels are south-facing, the sunshine won't always be when the sun is due south, so reckon on average the sun is at 45 degrees to the panel. That means the incident light on a panel is sin(45) = 0.71 of the maximum intensity. Next step, estimate the best-case sun's intensity in the UK. I'd guess maybe 600 Watts/sq. metre, so for an ebay panel of 1470*680 mm (about 1 sq. metre) that comes out to 600W * 0.71 = an average power _onto_ the panel of ~ 420 Watts. Assume an efficiency of 20% to convert the sunlight to electricity comes out at 85Watts (these panels are rated as 110Watts). Last calculations. 85Watts for 1000 hours per year is 85kW Hr. which at 12p per kWHr means you generate about £10 worth of electricity from 1 panel in a year. The panels are up for grabs at £375. Add all the other stuff (regulators batteries, invertors) - say double that for the whole system. That means that to generate £10 worth of electricity per year, you have to spend £750. As near as I can work out, our electricity usage is about 4,000 kWhr per year[1], so we'd need about 50sq. metres of panels, which is nearly twice the total area of the roof, to satisfy just our electricity needs.
[1] doesn't include heating or water heating, which is gas.
Personally, I don't see how it's possible to come anywhere close to being cost-effective. Even in a skin-sizzling desert, with 1000 Watt/sq. metre of sunlight, for 4000 hours a year, you'd have to have these units running for 11 years just to recoup the cost of the equipment - let alone pay the interest on the money invested. Maybe when the cost of the total system is down to about £100, or electricity jumps to £1 per kWhr it might just start to be a viable alternative.
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Fossil fuels are merely a store of solar energy in chemical form. Taking 10-100million years to process, fossil fuels would therefore seem, on the face of it, to be an even less cost effective concept than photovoltaics.
#Paul
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snipped-for-privacy@delillo.lsr.ph.ic.ac.uk wrote:

I don't remember paying to make the coal in the first place, do you?
What an extraordinarily dumb comment...

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snipped-for-privacy@delillo.lsr.ph.ic.ac.uk writes

What an idiot statement
they are not our 10.000 years, the twopence was invested long beore our time
the inheritance is in the bank, its just that it's going to run out one day and the bank charges are rocketing
--
geoff

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pete wrote:

Thats my take also. Solar works well enough in southerly climes where it can totally REPLACE a conventional boiler of similar capital cost, and do the 'hot water' and is good where there isn't a reliable electricity supply. My sister lives in Greece, and that's the way it works for her.
She gets, essentially free hot water. And a little bit of background heating in the autumn, and needs a little stove burning wood if it gets ultra chilly .
Up here its completely cost ineffective if any other source of energy is available.
A typical installation probably saves 50-100 a year.
The real need is for deep winter nheat..thats where we burn fuel domestically. When te days are very shiort, very overcast, and generally bloody cold.
There is only one form of solar heating that really works, and that is a ground source heatpump where the excess of energy in summer, can be tapped over the winter.
But that is neither free, nor inexpensive. It does seem to be cost effective though.
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pete wrote:

<snip>
My understanding is that you still get 1kW per square metre - but the square metre has to be angled at the sun, so 55 degrees or so, and ideally tracking. I can believe the 110W peak.
But OTOH I bet the efficiency drops with age... so I can also believe your 11 years is optimistic. Especially as you have not factored in the cost of capital.
Andy
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On Sun, 26 Oct 2008 18:44:42 +0000, Andy Champ wrote:

Have a quick google for "atmospheric extinction". Briefly, this is the amount of light from a star, or the sun, that is absorbed by the atmosphere the closer it is to the horizon - compared to at the zenith. (Which is why the sun is v. bright at noon, but dim enough to look at directly at sunset). At our latitude, you lose about 0.5 magnitudes due to the increased amount of air as the sun's angle is lower than in the tropics. Magnitudes are calculated as X log10 (brightness), so for 1000W/m2, log10 (1000) == 3. Knock off 0.5 for the UK latitude comes out as near as dammit to 10 exp 2.5 ~= 300W/m2. Oh dear, even worse than I thought.

Correct on both points. I was only aiming for an approximate figure. But taking all these factors into account makes me think it'll be *decades* to pay for itself, not my original guess of 11 years.

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energy savers?

If it does then you're the first person to make it pay. Tell us how you achieved that

eh?
NT
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Its easy..
borrow a van.. drive around until you find a house with solar panels.. steal them.
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Ian wrote :

Agreed.
They do not however save energy if fitted everywhere. They only save energy if fitted where they are turned on for very long periods of time. Turning these type of lamps on and off reduces their life considerably and they are really that green to make nor very green to dispose of.

Even with equipment installed which produces masses of energy there is the problem of storing the energy produced. Batteries do not last for ever, decent capacity costs lots of money and they will need replacement.
Even the commercial windmill builders, the electricity producers cannot make them pay without lots of subsidy and massaged output figures, what chance has a tiny domestic windmill installed in a back yard of working?
--
Regards,
Harry (M1BYT) (L)
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I was working with a Dane a couple of weeks ago. Apparently, the Danish government have withdrawn their windmill subsidy, as it's just not working. Although you can look at the power output and claim it was equivalent to 20% of the Danish demand, they can't switch off any power stations to match this because of the unreliability of the wind supply, so they end up with an unsalable electricity surpless in high winds, because no one is interested in buying an electricity supply that blows with the wind. Removal of this subsidy is not popular in Denmark, not because of the green issues, but because export of windmills is a significant industry and with the home government admitting they can't make it work, this expected to hit exports hard too. Apparently the large backout which hit much of Europe (last year?) (although not the UK) has been blamed in part on too high a proportion of Europe's supply now relaying on unstable generation, and since then a number of other European countries have also cancelled their windmill subsidies.
I think that if there's to be any hope of getting windmills to work, we have to work out how to store energy more efficiently than we can today (around 60% at best). It may be that we're using windmills in the wrong way by trying to directly generate electricity from them, and they might do better to directly pump water to the top of a two resoviour system, and then generate electricity by hydro when it's actually required.

None whatsoever.
--
Andrew Gabriel
[email address is not usable -- followup in the newsgroup]
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Andrew Gabriel wrote:

My thoughts have gone in the same direction - pumped storage. But, while I have not done anything like calculate the figures, my gut feel is that the size of the reservoir required would be unachievable. (Mental picture of Dinorwic multiplied many times over.) After all, we can have many days of strong wind but low demand followed by several days of low wind and high demand. Unless the storage is capable of lasting for at least a few days, I can't see it helping much overall.
Also, if such huge volumes are involved, where can we flood as it is released? The sea seems attractive - but we would probably not wish to use saline in the high reservoir. So we would need to source fresh water to go back up.
And further, the enviromental effects of swishing such large volumes back and forth could have their own repercussions.
(I did think of everyone having their own pumped storage system with a tank atop a pole. But when I work things out it was amazing how much water/height was required for anything much more than a new-style Nokia SMPS.)
--
Rod

Hypothyroidism is a seriously debilitating condition with an insidious
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Rod wrote:

You are in danger of talking sense, rather than Hansen style ecobollox. Be careful
Actually, the one storage system that is very cheap and will store a lot is a bloody great mass of something in an insulated area. Heat bank as it were. However the problem is its a bloody useless way to generate electricity or make fuel out of.
And if you make it very hot, so it is useful, then it gets expensive, and loses heat much faster..
Perhaps we should use the earths core. Build lots of windmills to add heat to it, and then when the sun sets, cool it down again.
Sounds no more fantastic than most ecobollox.
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Rod pretended :

The only place pumped storage is viable, is in mountaneous areas. I put one in, in south Wales. The water was pumped the hill on off-peak lecky, then ran turbines during peak demand. The water just ran between two large reservoirs, rather than going to waste.
--
Regards,
Harry (M1BYT) (L)
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On Sat, 25 Oct 2008 12:20:36 +0100, Rod wrote:

You don't have just one FFS! There are many places with cascaded reserviours that it wouldn't cost that much (in the grand scheme of things) to fit turbine/pumps to. There are also any number reservours that are always letting water down to keep the river levels below them up. They don't have turbines in that outflow...

There is no one solution. This single solution mindset, be that wind, nukes, or cow farts needs to be stomped on and serious joined up thinking must take place.
--
Cheers
Dave.




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Dave Liquorice wrote:

Sorry - I thought it obvious that I was using "reservoir" as a sort of collective for "the set of reservoirs required to make a sizable difference (to the UK)". Obviously it wasn't. :-(
I do agree that locally there might well be opportunities. But, unfortunately, for most of us 'personal' pumped storage does not appear to be a viable option.
My personal 'really tiny thing that might help' is to ensure that queues for petrol stations roll downhill towards the pumps. :-)
--
Rod

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