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Solar Power Milestone


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South Australia generates all its power from solar panels for about an hour:

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-10-25/all-sa-power-from-solar-for-first-time/12810366
 

During daylight hours of course. The bit that caught my attention was this:

"Never before has a jurisdiction the size of South Australia been completely run by solar power, with consumers' rooftop solar systems contributing 77 per cent."
 

I’ve thought for a long time that decentralized power generation with the right tech was the way to go but it’s amazing to see it happen so soon (albeit briefly). Add decentralized power storage to that and it gets really interesting.

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South Australia generates all its power from solar panels for about an hour: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-10-25/all-sa-power-from-solar-for-first-time/12810366   During daylight hours

I don't know the gains to be had, but it has always struck me as madness that all the new homes going up in the UK don't have solar installed on the roofs, mandatorily. Trivial cost. Similarly it has

Coal is the future.

23 minutes ago, TheBlueCat said:

South Australia generates all its power from solar panels for about an hour:

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-10-25/all-sa-power-from-solar-for-first-time/12810366
 

During daylight hours of course. The bit that caught my attention was this:

"Never before has a jurisdiction the size of South Australia been completely run by solar power, with consumers' rooftop solar systems contributing 77 per cent."
 

I’ve thought for a long time that decentralized power generation with the right tech was the way to go but it’s amazing to see it happen so soon (albeit briefly). Add decentralized power storage to that and it gets really interesting.

funnily enough just was talking this morning to an engineer who has big panels on his place.  He was ranting about how when he uses electricity it's 50c per unit but when he give it back to them he get 0.05c per unit.

his numbers were probably wrong, but the underlying truth is there - the system is not set up to reward small contributors.

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3 hours ago, wherebee said:

funnily enough just was talking this morning to an engineer who has big panels on his place.  He was ranting about how when he uses electricity it's 50c per unit but when he give it back to them he get 0.05c per unit.

his numbers were probably wrong, but the underlying truth is there - the system is not set up to reward small contributors.

If what he said is true, a Powerwall system or similar would pay for itself quite quickly. 

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4 hours ago, wherebee said:

funnily enough just was talking this morning to an engineer who has big panels on his place.  He was ranting about how when he uses electricity it's 50c per unit but when he give it back to them he get 0.05c per unit.

his numbers were probably wrong, but the underlying truth is there - the system is not set up to reward small contributors.

In australia it must be getting into the summer season? The problem with solar is it's "feast or famine". I'm not really surprised electricity is worthless when the sun is shining and it cant be stored :(

if I lived there I'd be "storing" electricity by freezing water in a giant chest freezer. When the sun goes down you can still run your air conditioning by using the frozen water.

I'd just hope in a few decades that we have power cables from australia to europe.... it genuinely would be awesome using electricity in the european winter produced in the Australian summer.

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5 hours ago, TheBlueCat said:

South Australia generates all its power from solar panels for about an hour:

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-10-25/all-sa-power-from-solar-for-first-time/12810366
 

During daylight hours of course. The bit that caught my attention was this:

"Never before has a jurisdiction the size of South Australia been completely run by solar power, with consumers' rooftop solar systems contributing 77 per cent."
 

I’ve thought for a long time that decentralized power generation with the right tech was the way to go but it’s amazing to see it happen so soon (albeit briefly). Add decentralized power storage to that and it gets really interesting.

I don't know the gains to be had, but it has always struck me as madness that all the new homes going up in the UK don't have solar installed on the roofs, mandatorily. Trivial cost. Similarly it has always puzzled me why we cover good agricultral land with solar (an installation near me on land that used to grow barley has brambles now covering the panels and saplings growing up between them) rather than upon factory roofs.

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5 hours ago, wherebee said:

funnily enough just was talking this morning to an engineer who has big panels on his place.  He was ranting about how when he uses electricity it's 50c per unit but when he give it back to them he get 0.05c per unit.

his numbers were probably wrong, but the underlying truth is there - the system is not set up to reward small contributors.

Spain has incredibly few solar panels on houses considering the climate. Asked my dad about it and apparently local government makes it very difficult. In bed with the big energy companies no doubt. 

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1 hour ago, Great Guy said:

In australia it must be getting into the summer season? The problem with solar is it's "feast or famine". I'm not really surprised electricity is worthless when the sun is shining and it cant be stored :(

if I lived there I'd be "storing" electricity by freezing water in a giant chest freezer. When the sun goes down you can still run your air conditioning by using the frozen water.

I'd just hope in a few decades that we have power cables from australia to europe.... it genuinely would be awesome using electricity in the european winter produced in the Australian summer.

No transmission losses there. 

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23 minutes ago, The Generation Game said:

No transmission losses there. 

Transmission losses are only one part of the equation though... in the australian  summer solar electricity is more or less worthless because there is too much of it. During the Australian summer we're having winter in Europe and need more electricity.

It's hard not to think a massive transmission cable would be a good idea.

 

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35 minutes ago, The Generation Game said:

No transmission losses there. 

Book and trade, globally. You don't actually need a wire that runs all the way from Oz to Europe. 

I just saw last week though that Ozs aging grid can't cope with the intermittent supply of solar. Going to coat bns to upgrade. Pretty much the same everywhere. 

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6 hours ago, wherebee said:

funnily enough just was talking this morning to an engineer who has big panels on his place.  He was ranting about how when he uses electricity it's 50c per unit but when he give it back to them he get 0.05c per unit.

his numbers were probably wrong, but the underlying truth is there - the system is not set up to reward small contributors.

It was much better here in the days of decent Feed in Tariff (to end 2014).

The last quarter I received was at 19.2p per kWh and I paid out (including 5% VAT) at 18.4p so I'm slightly up.

The amount you receive was set to give you an approximately standard return on installation cost (about 14%) so somebody who installed five years before me will have paid twice the amount I did to install but will be receiving income at double my rate.

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2 hours ago, Great Guy said:

Transmission losses are only one part of the equation though... in the australian  summer solar electricity is more or less worthless because there is too much of it. During the Australian summer we're having winter in Europe and need more electricity.

It's hard not to think a massive transmission cable would be a good idea.

 

If we're in the realms of eco-fantasy discussion, it would be about a thousand times easier just to put in multiple transmission lines from Iceland and hook up half of their volcanoes to geothermic power stations (which can also make power 24/7 not just when it's sunny). 

Build enough of them and they might keep Katla a bit cooler as well, which probably wouldn't be a bad thing.

 

 

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5 hours ago, Great Guy said:

In australia it must be getting into the summer season? The problem with solar is it's "feast or famine". I'm not really surprised electricity is worthless when the sun is shining and it cant be stored :(

 

Exactly.  The price differential in the OP is exaggerated, but it makes sense.

4 hours ago, Hopeful said:

I don't know the gains to be had, but it has always struck me as madness that all the new homes going up in the UK don't have solar installed on the roofs, mandatorily. Trivial cost. Similarly it has always puzzled me why we cover good agricultral land with solar (an installation near me on land that used to grow barley has brambles now covering the panels and saplings growing up between them) rather than upon factory roofs.

Putting solar on domestic roofs is crazy -- they're piddly small units, each of which probably won't get the maintenance and replacement over the long term (both because the cost is so high, and because homeowners aren't really placed to do the sums about where on the panel degrade curve it makes most environmental sense to do the replacement).  This maintenance cost applies to both new-build and retro fit.  Retro-fit itself is double-madness -- massive amounts of one-off costs (cash as well as 'embedded energy').  It only makes sense if you only consider the cash part and give people humongous subsidies.

Solar on low-quality land makes sense.  I'm only surprised that they never seem to put sheep on the land to graze afterwards.

Solar on high-quality land is more troublesome, and is probably best avoided (but the full-life economics aren't clear to me -- perhaps it is a no-brainer).

Factory/office roof installations does make sense -- it is these that should be mandatory.

5 hours ago, Great Guy said:

if I lived there I'd be "storing" electricity by freezing water in a giant chest freezer. When the sun goes down you can still run your air conditioning by using the frozen water.

This.  (and more).

While we're waiting for cost-effective (without subsidy) energy storage, they might as well insist that new-builds have a massive (several thousand litres) insulated water store -- this could be heated using ultra-low cost electricity during the days where too much power is generated, and used as general heating and hot water for other days.  It would remove the problem of 'too much electricity' instantly and make it cost-effective to plan for much higher renewable production (as opposed to being constrained by the over production problem).

In hot countries the 'cold store' would be the equivalent solution (as you suggest).

The cost of doing this would be trivial (the cost is actually embedded in the loss of space, not the capex) and the impact would be rather significant.

 

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4 hours ago, Great Guy said:

Transmission losses are only one part of the equation though... in the australian  summer solar electricity is more or less worthless because there is too much of it. During the Australian summer we're having winter in Europe and need more electricity.

It's hard not to think a massive transmission cable would be a good idea.

 

Better to consider a AlO2 <--> Al transfer scheme.  In the summer hemisphere plants use solar electricity to convert AlO(OH) (sort-of Bauxite) to Al, thenship it to the winter hemisphere to be used in AL-air cells to make electricity.   Now, this isn't 'free' (the electrochemical round trip efficiency is about 30% -- but that's similar to H2) but with a higher usable energy density (per KG) and without all that mucking about with super high pressures that you'd have with H2.

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11 minutes ago, dgul said:

Exactly.  The price differential in the OP is exaggerated, but it makes sense.

Putting solar on domestic roofs is crazy -- they're piddly small units, each of which probably won't get the maintenance and replacement over the long term (both because the cost is so high, and because homeowners aren't really placed to do the sums about where on the panel degrade curve it makes most environmental sense to do the replacement).  This maintenance cost applies to both new-build and retro fit.  Retro-fit itself is double-madness -- massive amounts of one-off costs (cash as well as 'embedded energy').  It only makes sense if you only consider the cash part and give people humongous subsidies.

Solar on low-quality land makes sense.  I'm only surprised that they never seem to put sheep on the land to graze afterwards.

Solar on high-quality land is more troublesome, and is probably best avoided (but the full-life economics aren't clear to me -- perhaps it is a no-brainer).

Factory/office roof installations does make sense -- it is these that should be mandatory.

This.  (and more).

While we're waiting for cost-effective (without subsidy) energy storage, they might as well insist that new-builds have a massive (several thousand litres) insulated water store -- this could be heated using ultra-low cost electricity during the days where too much power is generated, and used as general heating and hot water for other days.  It would remove the problem of 'too much electricity' instantly and make it cost-effective to plan for much higher renewable production (as opposed to being constrained by the over production problem).

In hot countries the 'cold store' would be the equivalent solution (as you suggest).

The cost of doing this would be trivial (the cost is actually embedded in the loss of space, not the capex) and the impact would be rather significant.

 

Agree about retrofit. Didn't think solar on newbuild would be madness, but what you say makes sense re maintenance, degradation of output etc. I also have wondered why sheep aren't used as lawn mowers.

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15 minutes ago, dgul said:

 

In hot countries the 'cold store' would be the equivalent solution (as you suggest).

The cost of doing this would be trivial (the cost is actually embedded in the loss of space, not the capex) and the impact would be rather significant.

 

I dont think a "cold store" would have to be super large. It takes a lot of energy to melt a lump of ice. It takes about 1kwh of energy to heat a bucket of ice (about 10kg) from minus 10C to plus 10C. 200 litres of water could store about 20kwh of "cold". A domestic cold store would really only have to be the size of a washing machine.

I'm surprised no one has taken this to the market place.... I could literally make one tomorrow from an old chest freezer.

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7 minutes ago, Great Guy said:

I dont think a "cold store" would have to be super large. It takes a lot of energy to melt a lump of ice. It takes about 1kwh of energy to heat a bucket of ice (about 10kg) from minus 10C to plus 10C. 200 litres of water could store about 20kwh of "cold". A domestic cold store would really only have to be the size of a washing machine.

I'm surprised no one has taken this to the market place.... I could literally make one tomorrow from an old chest freezer.

Fair point.

The phase change helps here.  For the hot water side you don't have the phase change to help and you'd need much more water.

 

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13 minutes ago, TheBlueCat said:

Maybe not forever though!

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-02895-0
 

Ok, they’ve got to work in the pressure part but it’s not implausible we’ll get there in the end.

So we just need to cool the earth's core to sub 288K and maintain the current pressure? 

That will present an interesting puzzle for people adhering to ideal gas law (unless we use one that doesn't adhere). 

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11 hours ago, wherebee said:

funnily enough just was talking this morning to an engineer who has big panels on his place.  He was ranting about how when he uses electricity it's 50c per unit but when he give it back to them he get 0.05c per unit.

his numbers were probably wrong, but the underlying truth is there - the system is not set up to reward small contributors.

The trick in Oz is to orientate as much use as possible to when the sun is shining. 

Timeswitches help.

Also anyone with solar who puts in gas water heating is insane when you could stick one of these in and operate on a time switch.

https://australianhotwater.com.au/install-service-repair-systems/heat-pump-water-heaters/

 

 

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6 hours ago, Great Guy said:

In australia it must be getting into the summer season? The problem with solar is it's "feast or famine". I'm not really surprised electricity is worthless when the sun is shining and it cant be stored :(

if I lived there I'd be "storing" electricity by freezing water in a giant chest freezer. When the sun goes down you can still run your air conditioning by using the frozen water.

I'd just hope in a few decades that we have power cables from australia to europe.... it genuinely would be awesome using electricity in the european winter produced in the Australian summer.

In the Uk yes. Not so in Oz. 

When I looked at this when living in Perth daily solar output in winter is about 60% of summer output. This works well because electric demand is air con driven. 

In the UK mid winter output is about 15-16% of mid summer. 

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42 minutes ago, Great Guy said:

I dont think a "cold store" would have to be super large. It takes a lot of energy to melt a lump of ice. It takes about 1kwh of energy to heat a bucket of ice (about 10kg) from minus 10C to plus 10C. 200 litres of water could store about 20kwh of "cold". A domestic cold store would really only have to be the size of a washing machine.

I'm surprised no one has taken this to the market place.... I could literally make one tomorrow from an old chest freezer.

The only way we will be using Australian solar is if they can get power to H2 off the ground and we start importing Hydrogen or more likley ammonia as its easier to transport. 

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