Renewable electricity sources are now a no-brainer

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Pointedstick
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Re: Renewable electricity sources are now a no-brainer

Post by Pointedstick » Mon Jan 23, 2017 2:47 pm

These are desperation moves. They're fighting their own economic interest. It won't last.
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Re: Renewable electricity sources are now a no-brainer

Post by Desert » Mon Jan 23, 2017 3:06 pm

rickb wrote:Coal supporters in Wyoming have introduced a bill that would effectively prohibit Wyoming utilities from using renewable energy sources:

https://insideclimatenews.org/news/1201 ... nge-denial
Wyoming cranks out almost half the nation's coal ... they're going to have a hard transition to make.
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Re: Renewable electricity sources are now a no-brainer

Post by dragoncar » Mon Jan 23, 2017 5:53 pm

Pointedstick wrote:If you bemoan the poor state of political discourse nowadays but can't resist making bitter, snarky comments about your political opponents and their follies, foibles, and failures, understand that you are part of the problem. Be the change you want to see in the world.
Are you talking to me? Because I'd love it if people pointed out everyone's follies, foibles, and failures... that's how we avoid them in the future.
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Re: Renewable electricity sources are now a no-brainer

Post by Desert » Wed Feb 08, 2017 2:03 pm

Regarding residential rooftop solar, I've been looking around a bit, and it appears that the 20 year NPV is still less than zero, at least in a few areas that I looked at. Of course it looks FAR better than it did just a few years ago, but it doesn't appear to be an obvious financial choice for most homeowners just yet (in the absence of large incentives).

PS, what do you think? I'm still looking around, and maybe I'll uncover a more positive scenario in another region of the country.

Edited to add: I found some more recent pricing, and it appears a 10 year payback is feasible in many areas.
http://news.energysage.com/how-much-doe ... n-the-u-s/
Last edited by Desert on Wed Feb 08, 2017 2:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Renewable electricity sources are now a no-brainer

Post by Pointedstick » Wed Feb 08, 2017 3:35 pm

What's the simple payback on a treasury bond? At 3%, it's 33.3 years. Does that seem like a very good investment if you look at it from that perspective? I don't use simple payback as my measurement. I look at the cheapest price to avoid a recurring cost.

Let's say I have a $50/mo electric bill. It costs me $15,000 in investments (4% SWR) to get rid of that forever. If I can buy a solar PV array for less than that price, then the balance tips in that direction. And in many cases it's very easy to do that. The cost of solar is about $4/watt on average, and $2.8/watt after federal tax rebates (state rebates can sweeten the pot even more). In my neck of the woods, $50 will buy you 375 kWh. Multiple that by 12 and you have a yearly electricity consumption of 4,500 kWh. To generate 4,500 kWh yearly, PVWatts says someone in my area code would need only a 2.8 kW array! At the aforementioned pricing, your total cost for that should on average be $7,840.

So where I live, if a person wants to get rid of a $50/mo electric bill, they can buy $15,000 of investments, or a $7,840 solar PV array. Seen in this light, which makes more sense? Even without the tax credit, the PV array is still almost $5,000 cheaper than the investments!

Of course, there are complicating factors. The investment portfolio is more liquid and raises your net worth by 100% of the purchase price. But the solar PV array has a better chance of actually paying the bill for life when you take into account inflation; the electricity price that the investments need to offset is constantly rising, but the PV array keeps on producing kilowatts with a constant value, not dollars with a falling value. Also, it's better for the environment.

The numbers are even more favorable for solar if your electric rates are high.
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Re: Renewable electricity sources are now a no-brainer

Post by Desert » Wed Feb 08, 2017 3:43 pm

Yep, I agree with all that. Of course elimination of the power bill requires that you stay in the house forever. But I agree that's a great way to look at the investment for a lot of us.

Honestly, the case for rooftop solar is looking so good, I'm trying to find some good reason not to start a business in the sector right now. The payback period is something I think a lot of typical consumers might look at. Unfortunately, I think the mean time of homeownership is somewhere around 7 years, so paybacks that approach that timeframe may not be real attractive to the typical homeowner. But the number of homeowners willing to make the bet on staying in their houses long term may well be enough to support a pretty big business in the right region.
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Re: Renewable electricity sources are now a no-brainer

Post by Pointedstick » Wed Feb 08, 2017 5:56 pm

Desert wrote:Yep, I agree with all that. Of course elimination of the power bill requires that you stay in the house forever.
Much if not all of the value of the array comes back to you when you sell the house, though. It's not 100% of the purchase price the way it is with an investment portfolio, true, but it's not nothing.

The way to stand out as a solar company is to get the price down, and the best way to do that is to find a way to reduce the "soft costs": marketing and customer acquisition, licensing and permitting, etc. Panels are dirt cheap and labor isn't going down, but the soft costs are much higher in the USA than they are in Europe and Australia. In Germany and Australia the all-in cost is about $2/watt, which is unbelievable.
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Re: Renewable electricity sources are now a no-brainer

Post by moda0306 » Wed Feb 08, 2017 6:34 pm

Pointedstick wrote:
Desert wrote:Yep, I agree with all that. Of course elimination of the power bill requires that you stay in the house forever.
Much if not all of the value of the array comes back to you when you sell the house, though. It's not 100% of the purchase price the way it is with an investment portfolio, true, but it's not nothing.

The way to stand out as a solar company is to get the price down, and the best way to do that is to find a way to reduce the "soft costs": marketing and customer acquisition, licensing and permitting, etc. Panels are dirt cheap and labor isn't going down, but the soft costs are much higher in the USA than they are in Europe and Australia. In Germany and Australia the all-in cost is about $2/watt, which is unbelievable.
I'm sure someone hit on this, but don't these things deteriorate? I can't imagine a useful life being longer than 40 years on something like that... am I wrong?
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Re: Renewable electricity sources are now a no-brainer

Post by Pointedstick » Wed Feb 08, 2017 6:48 pm

moda0306 wrote: I'm sure someone hit on this, but don't these things deteriorate? I can't imagine a useful life being longer than 40 years on something like that... am I wrong?
Thankfully, you are! http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/blo ... aic-module

Fun quote:
“A PV cell is a rock that makes electricity,” said Davidson. “Unless something corrodes the electrical contacts, it will still keep working.”
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Re: Renewable electricity sources are now a no-brainer

Post by dualstow » Wed Feb 08, 2017 8:14 pm

Pointedstick wrote:Old steam trains are amazing to me. People built those things with hand tools and no electricity. Some of the finest pieces of pre-electric technology that have ever existed, IMHO.

There's actually no reason we couldn't keep doing it. With our modern understanding of thermodynamics and materials science, I'm sure we could design super high efficiency engines that barely emit any smoke at all.
Like this? http://opensourceecology.org/wiki/Hadden_Engine
I'm not sure whether that's actually in production.
If you have a Fidelity account, you may have some new 30-year treasury interest as of Saturday
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Re: Renewable electricity sources are now a no-brainer

Post by I Shrugged » Wed Feb 08, 2017 9:59 pm

I don't know, I've read that the panels do degrade. I bet his 30 year old one was built a lot better than the cheapies today.
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Re: Renewable electricity sources are now a no-brainer

Post by Mountaineer » Thu Feb 09, 2017 6:13 am

I Shrugged wrote:I don't know, I've read that the panels do degrade. I bet his 30 year old one was built a lot better than the cheapies today.
The small panels on my patio LED lights last about 2 years before UV exposure degrades them to the point of about 1/2 to 1/4 original battery charging capability.
"Blind reason gropes around in matters belonging to God (1 Corinthians 2:14). According to its own imagination, reason seeks consolation in its own works and cannot remember Christ and faith." Smalcald Articles III III 18
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