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Great Guy

Flawed Technology

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I work in an office with solar panels on the roof. There is a box in the corner that shows the electricity being generated by them.

It snowed last night and the panels have a coating of snow on them so they are producing zero power. Soooo, when it's the cold time of year and people use more electricity solar panels stop functioning. Awesome technology for the UK!!!

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Well, part of the design really.

But I get the point.  Our power needs are biased towards the winter, and the investment in solar power doesn't help here.  So we need to keep all of the historical power infrastructure anyway.

I think, like much technology, the benefits are 'defined' by how useful they are in California.  Now, California has a massive requirement for power in mid-summer (air-con), so solar PV is fantastic.  The fact that is doesn't translate to more northern climes takes a bit more effort to work out, and many people don't bother.

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Even with the subsidy payments it takes 15 years to break even - probably more like 20 years! Without the feed-in subsidy they are financially not viable. Even with the subsidy if you ever finish paying for them they will be out of warranty and running at below 70% output in a country without abundant ☀️ 

I will be fitting some as a power back up (linked to a battery bank). 

My recomendation is evacuated tube thermosolar (water-heating panels).

Edit: There is no subsidy for thermosolar which is bonkers :-(

Edited by OurDayWillCome

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The big picture is that the cost per watt is still coming down - maybe 50 odd cents per watt now. If this continues economically it will make it a no brainer in terms of investment returns without subsidies. Anything that weans us off ME oil has to be a good thing. 

costofsolarpanelsperwatt.jpg

 

Edited by onlyme

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3 minutes ago, OurDayWillCome said:

Even with the subsidy payments it takes 15 years to break even - probably more like 20 years! Without the feed-in subsidy they are financially not viable. Even with the subsidy if you ever finish paying for them they will be out of warranty and running at below 70% output in a country without abundant ☀️ 

I will be fitting some as a power back up (linked to a battery bank). 

My recomendation is evacuated tube thermosolar (water-heating panels).

 

Ignore the missed income bit - not a fan of subsidies either - but it looks like possibly less than 10 years to payback if you can install cheap and bypass the rigged market - we should be just zero rating panels and not putting any trade barriers/tariffs against cheapest supply.  Meanwhile any level of inflation say over 20 years will make other energy supply far more expensive in comparison.

Thermal solar though is very efficient and a good option with less space available. But you do need the space for a large tank for storage.

solar-panel-10-year-price-forecast-2013-

 

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11 minutes ago, onlyme said:

The big picture is that the cost per watt is still coming down - maybe 50 odd cents per watt now. If this continues economically it will make it a no brainer in terms of investment returns without subsidies. Anything that weans us off ME oil has to be a good thing. 

costofsolarpanelsperwatt.jpg

 

Are the Chinese driving the downward cost in an attempt to manipulate/dominate the market?

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2 minutes ago, onlyme said:

 

Thermal solar though is very efficient and a good option with less space available. But you do need the space for a large tank for storage.

solar-panel-10-year-price-forecast-2013-

The A-frame thermo panels with an insulated tank at the top are great but you need a flat roof and there are probably planning issues as it is not on the list of popular green solutions.

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8 minutes ago, OurDayWillCome said:

Are the Chinese driving the downward cost in an attempt to manipulate/dominate the market?

I think that is what the Chinese generally do in any market.  Musk bought up Solar City in the US to back up the charging station and home rollout in the US - wants capacity of 10,000 panels a day apparently.  So it is not just Chinese influence (though they did completely destabilise the market a few years ago the capacity was so high). But advances in tech, larger factories and improved manufacturing processes will help all supplies.

https://www.technologyreview.com/s/600770/10-breakthrough-technologies-2016-solarcitys-gigafactory/

Edited by onlyme

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23 minutes ago, OurDayWillCome said:

Even with the subsidy payments it takes 15 years to break even - probably more like 20 years! Without the feed-in subsidy they are financially not viable. Even with the subsidy if you ever finish paying for them they will be out of warranty and running at below 70% output in a country without abundant ☀️ 

 

7 -8 isn't it?

they've got loads cheaper.

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I was reading an article about that Channel 4 prog where people build their own homes - Home Designs?

Someone commented on the article about some environmental home that the home owners made a big thing about it having solar panels. The person commenting went on to say that they conveniently forgot about the countless truck-loads removing soil from the field so that they could build their eco home. Reckoned that the energy expended by those lorries would never be equalled by the greeness of the solar panels.

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2 minutes ago, The Masked Tulip said:

I was reading an article about that Channel 4 prog where people build their own homes - Home Designs?

Someone commented on the article about some environmental home that the home owners made a big thing about it having solar panels. The person commenting went on to say that they conveniently forgot about the countless truck-loads removing soil from the field so that they could build their eco home. Reckoned that the energy expended by those lorries would never be equalled by the greeness of the solar panels.

That applies to any new home build whether it has solar panels or not. The larger the built the bigger the environmental footprint.

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1 minute ago, Kurt Barlow said:

That applies to any new home build whether it has solar panels or not. The larger the built the bigger the environmental footprint.

True, but this was from people making a big thing, and doing it on national TV, about how green their house was.

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35 minutes ago, OurDayWillCome said:

Even with the subsidy payments it takes 15 years to break even - probably more like 20 years! Without the feed-in subsidy they are financially not viable. Even with the subsidy if you ever finish paying for them they will be out of warranty and running at below 70% output in a country without abundant ☀️ 

I will be fitting some as a power back up (linked to a battery bank). 

My recomendation is evacuated tube thermosolar (water-heating panels).

Edit: There is no subsidy for thermosolar which is bonkers :-(

I think we've come past break-even for solar PV without subsidy.

The trouble with the subsidised panels is that you have to pay out $$$s for the accredited installers.  They price up the job at about a 5-10% ROI, so whatever the projected income from the panels, the install bill will be 10-20 times as much.

If you just get it done cheaply without the chance of subsidy you find that the payback time is about 10 years.

If you do it cheaply, you'd also not put them on your roof -- on a roof maintenance is a pain, as is clearing of snow.

I continue to find it annoying that I'm paying out money to support the subsidies for these people, which is pretty much paying out for a whole industry to overcharge on installs for about a decade.  Frankly, the UK would have been better off if the gov had just mandated decent amounts of PV on new-builds (without subsidy) and just left the retro-fit market to wait for prices to come down.

 

Edited by dgul

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1 minute ago, The Masked Tulip said:

True, but this was from people making a big thing, and doing it on national TV, about how green their house was.

Can be intensely annoying, which is why I tend to look at solar / electric car markets with a technical/financial hat on - if you do that and look at the trends in pricing it is pretty obvious where we are going as long as nothing breaks in the cost reduction trends, which if anything have accelerated as adoption becomes more mainstream. 

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1 minute ago, The Masked Tulip said:

True, but this was from people making a big thing, and doing it on national TV, about how green their house was.

I agree - these ecohomes on Grand designs are just ecohogwash in the extreme.

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2 minutes ago, dgul said:

I think we've come past break-even for solar PV without subsidy.

The trouble with the subsidised panels is that you have to pay out $$$s for the accredited installers.  They price up the job at about a 5-10% ROI, so whatever the projected income from the panels, the install bill will be 10-20 times as much.

If you just get it done cheaply without the chance of subsidy you find that the payback time is about 10 years.

If you do it cheaply, you'd also not put them on your roof -- on a roof maintenance is a pain, as is clearing of snow.

I continue to find it annoying that I'm paying out money to support the subsidies for these people, which is pretty much paying out for a whole industry to overcharge on installs for about a decade.  Frankly, the UK would have been better off if the gov had just mandated decent amounts of PV on new-builds (without subsidy) and just left the retro-fit market to wait for prices to come down.

 

Totally agree, all these installers expect a certain profit level from their over-subsidised days and so generally are no fucking use in rolling out true mainstream adoption of solar when it does make economic sense.

 

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2 minutes ago, Kurt Barlow said:

I agree - these ecohomes on Grand designs are just ecohogwash in the extreme.

I popped into a high end showroom that sold top line eco doors and windows. You could pay up to £6-8K for a high spec front door, presume that included the frame. I'm not sure I believe some of the figures from such programs. It is certainly no way to have any meaningful impact as the vast majority would not have a hope in hell of affording the final cost. Still makes solar panels look a bargain in comparison, for the price of saving a few pennies in lost heat through a front door you could be potentially generating 10's kilowatts per day.

 

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12 minutes ago, onlyme said:

I popped into a high end showroom that sold top line eco doors and windows. You could pay up to £6-8K for a high spec front door, presume that included the frame. I'm not sure I believe some of the figures from such programs. It is certainly no way to have any meaningful impact as the vast majority would not have a hope in hell of affording the final cost. Still makes solar panels look a bargain in comparison, for the price of saving a few pennies in lost heat through a front door you could be potentially generating 10's kilowatts per day.

 

My triple glazing is amazing. Why don't they just zero-rate insulation and windows below a certain U-value. I have given the government a fortune in VAT making my house energy efficient.

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1 hour ago, sarahbell said:

ours clear really quickly, 

so do the man up the road's.

Well they should be south facing. I very rarely have to defrost my windscreen because I park facing south, the ice has cleared by 8.30am.

The answer surely is to be able to store power generated year round, rather than ditch the tech altogether. Once this comes to mass-market and is "affordable" then I think solar will really take off.  Plus the panel sizes are decreasing as they get more efficient.

14 minutes ago, OurDayWillCome said:

My triple glazing is amazing. Why don't they just zero-rate insulation and windows below a certain U-value. I have given the government a fortune in VAT making my house energy efficient.

I seem to remember reading that the difference between double and triple glazing in terms of energy loss is tiny. Something like 2% extra a year saved. Is that not right?

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A payback of 15 years is fairly poor imho. You shell out a sum of money and in 15 years you have made that sum of money back and you have 15 year old solar panels on your roof which are obsolete and worthless...

All these payback calculation also assume nothing goes wrong. If these panels are damaged in a storm/ wires chewed by mice/ kids throw stones at them etc it's likely to cost a good couple of hundred to put right.

Having said that, if I lived in a house I'd probably get them as a hobby/ environmental investment.

I honestly think tidal/ hydro is the way the UK should go for a form of renewable energy....

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2 minutes ago, Great Guy said:

A payback of 15 years is fairly poor imho. You shell out a sum of money and in 15 years you have made that sum of money back and you have 15 year old solar panels on your roof which are obsolete and worthless...

All these payback calculation also assume nothing goes wrong. If these panels are damaged in a storm/ wires chewed by mice/ kids throw stones at them etc it's likely to cost a good couple of hundred to put right.

Having said that, if I lived in a house I'd probably get them as a hobby/ environmental investment.

I honestly think tidal/ hydro is the way the UK should go for a form of renewable energy....

I'm trying to get freestanding ones passed with the council, mainly to piss off the neighbour.

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1 minute ago, spunko2010 said:

The answer surely is to be able to store power generated year round, rather than ditch the tech altogether. Once this comes to mass-market and is "affordable" then I think solar will really take off.  Plus the panel sizes are decreasing as they get more efficient.

I just cant see battery technology improving so that electricity can be stored in the summer and used in the winter... not in the next few decades anyway...

It would be awesome if we had lots of solar panels in Africa and connected it to the European grid network :) It's always sunny somewhere in the world.

Just now, spunko2010 said:

I'm trying to get freestanding ones passed with the council, mainly to piss off the neighbour.

It must save a fair bit to have freestanding ones? No need for scaffolding and less manhandling of panels?

PS You are naughty!

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