Dr. Quinn's Koestler-like Energy Future Shock

    We had an interesting guest appearance by Quinn re: the slide to renewables in perhaps 30-40 years.

    Presuming this all goes as (un)planned and coal/oil/gas can mostly be phased out, it begs some interesting questions, what with nearly limitless almost-free energy (& electric cars, super-grids & presumably electric planes to go along with it)

    1) what happens to our global warming concerns as we replace fossil fuels with non-CO2 & non-heat producing alternatives?

    (nuclear of course releases heat, but solar just takes a light/heat source already in our atmosphere and converts it to a different type of energy - no net gain)

    do we really need to worry about carbon caps and trading now? can we stop worrying about Mauritius sinking, or are there other important factors?

    2) what happens to the Middle East? all our effort the last 15 years to control our energy future, and instead it turns out Al Gore was right? our love of the internal combustion engine is over? will they sink into a primitive religion-obessed culture with no money, only grudges, or what?

    (can we get Texas to secede anyway, and laugh as it turns into a land sadly similar to the Mideast?)

    along with that, what happens to Russia, which more and more looks like a 1-trick pony (who might go rogue without a cash supply)?

    3) what happens to our traffic & city scape as driving turns amazingly cheap, but we have automatons to drive cars and buses and Elon Musk's hyperloop moving people quickly cross country...

    4) will the situation in Africa change, what with electricity to allow inexpensive water purification and afforable travel...

    5) how will the combination of near-free electricity with near-global internet & mobile communications work in the hands of the average person to challenge the 1%, Citizen's United, Wall Street, & the rest of the rather oppressive top-down global management?

    How will near-free electricity affect the IMF's typical recommendations for poor countries and countries in crisis, since often that advice is made in the face of draconian energy costs such as with winter-coming-on-with-no-heat that hits Ukraine in its standoff with Russia...?

    6) with near-free electricity and improved desalinization, how will that affect habitation on the ocean, where most of the globe's surface exists in watery real estate? will we end up with a new type of squatter's community, similar to Bengalis occupying sinking islands in the Bay of Bengal until they move to another, or those cute super-cherry Dubai housing settlements built on lagoons?

    Feel free to discuss, add other interesting scenarios, or kvetch to your heart's delight - poverty, health, space travel, nanofabrics, political shifts, immigration, blah blah blah.


    Maybe we should sell Texas to Saudi Arabia before the price point crashes for both places.

    With less tongue in cheek, I think we need to get busy doing everything possible to protect fresh water supply as a global project.

    Hey PP. Thanks for this. Useful set of questions. 

    Thought I'd take a wander through, drop a few charts and blablah and such.

    1. My primary concern has long been global warming. And the key techs to winning that war have always been solar and electric vehicles. Sure, wind could help along the way, efficiency too, and other useful things - like heat pumps. But anyone could tell that what would eventually turn the PUBLIC mind was always gonna be solar, and electric cars. 

    Now, the cost of solar and such was always trending lower, but sooner or later almost every tech hits a wall and progress from there gets sludgy - and that posed a risk to solar. What if it stopped just short, and would mean we had to pay TWICE as much as with fossil fuels? Not good. 

    But today... with solar... it's ALREADY entered a low enough cost zone that it already makes sense in big chunks of the world. Maybe not in all our hoods, but for hundreds of millions of people. And THAT'S a big enough market to move it along. Plus, the major barriers to cutting solar's price in half again have to do with the efficiency of installation and approvals, not manufacture. So THAT's another push downward. And finally, the next round of tech improvements are already in hand, and just need to be installed in plants. e.g. The world's largest solar firms already have these in hand. No magic future inventions required. 

    Which means, yes, we now have the tools to make the transition beyond global warming.

    The little 2 minute blog item below has four of the greatest charts in history on it. People should go look.


    For example, here. Look at the collapse - in orange - of solar prices. And the rise - in blue - of solar sales. BOOM.

    And the one below is my fave. See that lightning bolt coming down? That's how fast the cost of solar has fallen. 

    Now ask yourself. Do you see any reason why the cost decline of that solar lightning bolt will suddenly stop, completely? Slow down, sure. It has to. But stop? No way. 

    Solar wins.

    The reason I say the electric car is ALSO important is a simple one. We use oil, liquid fossil fuels, for our cars. Which means all the solar and wind in the world can't help us, since they produce electricity, right?

    But once you have an electric car, you can now switch out your oil use, and plug-in your solar-generated electricity. The techies like to call this the "electrification" of our energy systems - so that you get not just power, as we do today... but also transport and heating, from electricity. 

    So..... for instance.... you could have a solar panel, which would produce power for your lights, PLUS energy for your car, PLUS you can power your heat pump, to heat/cool your home.

    Anyway. That's why I feel like the tools are now in our hands. [And yes, the cost of batteries and of storage is also coming rapidly down a slope.]

    1B. Does this mean global warming is SOLVED, though? Errrm, no. This transition could maybe be done in 20-30 years, but we could also screw it up, and take 40-50-60. 

    And the problem with that is, all that carbon we drop into the air will be up there for a long time. Plus, each bit we add pushes us over top of a few more natural thresholds. Which means we could accidentally, stupidly, push past a couple of big natural walls, and trigger runaway effects, and thus ruin the planet.

    Shit can, in fact, happen.

    So I'm kindof still keen on hurrying things along, eh?

    That said, and while I'm against geo-engineering to try and stop global warming NOW, and very much suspect we'll do some smaller scale adjustments at some point in the future. You know, act like an artificial volcano and drop some reflective particles in the atmosphere. 30 years from now, I could see that being done. [Though I'm not a fan, obviously.]

    Anyway, my point is that I really don't think life on Earth is doomed. At least not by activity in this front.

    2. The Middle East, on the oil side, is f*cked. Seriously. And a lot of people, big investors, inside industry advisors, know it. They know they need to take their coin, now... and invest it on generating renewable power for themselves, and maybe to create some future export sales opportunities. A lot of people are out there are saying the big oil price crash has as much to do with future expectations as it does with fracking, and I tend to agree. Maybe some countries [the Saudis?] have just decided they want to own the next 10-20 years worth of revenue streams, in order to invest their winnings NOW, knowing that the long-term revenue picture for oil looks disastrous. 

    Al Gore, by the way, has a new roadshow, which is built up almost entirely around the kind of statements I've made above. He's becoming blindingly positive, it seems. I'd say that, Al being Al, he's late, but better Al-late that Bush-never.

    Russia? You much be joking. Their only chance is to sell Siberia off piecemeal to China. Oh wait. That's already underway? Well then.  Guess we better have some military distractions along the way.

    3. Not convinced the self-driving thing is gonna be that big. It's running smack up against one of the last outposts of male self-determination [Imma drive my car], as well as one of the last tools in the hands of working class culture. Also, what happens when we start seeing accidents from self-driving cars? The first kiddie killed? This transition ain't gonna be smooth. 

    And even if it is, I think there are 100 other forces more likely to shape our cityscapes. Like... working online.

    4. Africa will change, but maybe we'll see its shape first in India. Go check out SunEdison sometime, and their movement into rural India. Aiming to give every rural Indian family electricity, for lighting, for cell phones, for..... Same in Brazil and likely same in Africa. 

    Cellphone access, the ability to work/study at night, cleaner water, and as you say, maybe access to some electrically-driven transport. Pretty big forces. And NONE require centralized, capital-intensive, government action or construction. Solar + Batteries will give it to you.


    Hell, I used to work on pedestrian-controlled electric vehicles, back in the 90's, and those things can HAUL loads.... Incredibly flexible, they're basically the motive power of an ox, only handleable through fingertip control. Wanna move crops, water, people? Easy. Chargeable through a solar panel. Cheap as dirt, don't need a road.

    5. I've never felt, funny enough, that low cost energy will automatically free anyone or anything.

    In fact, I know it won't. 

    My dear old Manitoba sells its power to its citizens at 5 cents/kwh, and industry at 2 cents/kwh. That's basically as "free" as anyone's gonna see within the next 30 years. This won't be a driving force for change, as far as I can see, for average citizens. 

    Now, for regions which are in extreme JAMS because of energy constraints, like a Ukraine etc., it absolutely offers a way to ease those constraints. So 20-30 years from now, we'll see less of that nonsense.

    Will cheap-energy-accessing citizens go on to challenge the 1% more freely? I'm not sure the one leads to the other (sadly.) Mostly because the 1% will maintains strangleholds over food, military/police and many other things.

    If the 99% are gonna change this, then..... the 99% are gonna change this. But it'll be through organized action by people, perhaps greased by the Internet, but not driven, magically, by cheap energy. IMHO.

    6. Here's a longer article, from Tomgram, worth a read. Also worth noting that these links I'm tossing in are just from the last 2-3 DAYS. i.e. This stuff is now coming in a torrent. 


    Future? Nano stuff is cool. And one of its first major areas of gain is in the.... manufacture of better batteries. 

    Space travel? I wish. I'm getting old, and hanging around fighting these backwoods-inbred-moronic political battles - that almost no one under 30 can even grasp - is beyond tiring.

    It's just plain boring. 

    We need a political movement that does 3 simple things:

    1) Grasps that we now have a technologically-prepared path that will lead us beyond almost all the day-to-day battles we've been fighting these past centuries, and that WE NEED TO GET ON WITH IT; and,

    2) That we're not going to waste another moment, not another breath, on the ancient-social-religious-nationalistic idiocies that shrinking minorities cling to. [Yup. They're clinging. Said it, meant it.] i.e. We're not spending another day arguing with these morons about the Insatiable Gays and the Wimmins and the Coloured Folk - that stuff is for the dustbin of history.

    3) The 1% cannot get us to this future. They can only get THEM there. Worse, it's very apparent that their present trajectory is to get themselves to lifespans of >100, and to inhabited worlds elsewhere, ASAP. In the meantime, tropical islands and gated compounds are mere waiting areas. We, the 99%, can, in fact, get us there. Can get us ALL there. So that's what we're going to do. We're all gonna move forward, and we're all gonna have a damned fine future, and we're all gonna move into it, together.

    Amen bro.

    A different-sized copy of that 2nd chart, which seems not be showing up through to the end.

    Usually easiest to adjust the size when you first enter the link (Ithink it remembers proportion the first you enter the link, after you have to do the math yourself or just start over)

    I read the original chart awhile ago.

    I am really not prepared to comment right now without links.

    But I know this:

    Wisconsin per Walker is funding a ridiculous study on Solar and Wind for 250 grand WHICH IS NOTHING but a hats off to big oil interests and which will mean nothing.

    Arizona wishes to penalize individuals who make use of its own greatest asset: THE SUN.

    We as individuals are able (if not legally or strategically) to use Solar and Wind and actually end up selling energy to THE GRID.

    I was a caddy in 1965-1966 and we had electric carts at that golf course. I wondered even then why we need gasoline even though I worked at Grampa's gas station. Well, 'they' are not only selling electric cars but golf cart makers are manufacturing golf cart derivatives--for real. Just slap a license plate on the carrier and you can drive to the grocers.

    The increase in Solar and Wind energies are incredible over just the last five years.

    A barrel of oil is not nearly as expensive as it was only five or ten years ago.

    BP actually began investing heavily in wind over the last decade and has evidently sold its interest in this massive enterprise. Other oil companies are pissed about this fact.


    Like Peracles points out, there are down aspects to anything new.

    Batteries and Turbines and Solar Panels use energy in their manufacturing processes.

    We must eventually 'recycle' the batteries of course. But damn, the batteries are becoming less and less of an environmental hazard.

    By the way, Africans are already benefiting from the use of Solar energy.

    Just as an aside, look at what satellites have done to change the technology world wide.

    Finally, and Mike W is correct, a book is in order.

    I might do a thing just on fracking and Eminent Domain and the fraud regarding mineral rights and how those rights began to be excised from millions of owners over the last hundred years through fossil fuel corporations and how our water is being polluted per the search for oil.

    We will no find Eden. 2020 will be a better year for renewables and 2050 will be even better for renewables.

    Like Peracles says, there may be consequences such as war and poverty in many areas of the world.

    So our governments must adapt to these changes.

    Our corporations WILL adapt to these changes.

    Forget governmental incentives; the capitalists SEE MONEY.

    And when the oligarchies SEE MONEY, things change.







    Article on the Ozone Hole 30 years later- how we were quick to notice and come to agreement but still the CFCs are up there and haven't been reversed. So yeah, some natural trip points can exist that can't easily be put right. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/apr/18/scientist-who-discove...

    In line with wresting energy production from the hands of very large players, more equipment and products can be developed to increase the power of small outfits to take on projects that presently require infrastructure that only the large players can provide.

    The cad/cam developments along with 3D manufacturing equipment are certainly tending toward multiplying the ways to massively reproduce commodities. An equally large trend is needed that shapes the market of small machines that allow a human to amplify their capacity while building things or going somewhere.

    As a builder, I want Bluetooth hydraulic jacks, weighing under 10 pounds with a capacity to support 1 ton controlled by hand held pressure bulbs that are easily extendable to any required length. I want Safety equipment brought to a level that makes OSHA requirements a quaint remnant of a tme between now and when children sewed on buttons in airless rooms.

    More immediately important than sharing wealth is sharing life. Human scale labor is good. It is beautiful. There should be a market demand for it driven by proletarians. It is not going to be produced unless a desire for for it builds up.

    When it happens it will be very quick.  I would say within 10 years in this country. 

    Nano fiber was first developed in the early 80's at U of Pittsburg. Solar has been in R&D for the last 30 to 40 years. It is ready now.  That is how long nano tubes have been around. Getting the right reaction to transfer the energy into the tube took some refinement. The energy is then stored in the tube for usage.  

    I am very optimistic about all of this.  This will be an energy revolution.  

    The Saudis now own the largest plastic company in the world, GE Plastics. They are already planning their transition. 

    Politics always follows the money.  God, guns, and gays are circling the drain. 


    Quinn puts forward pretty well what a rational people would do, given a limited amount of time to act rationally, the less than perfectly rational is more than possible.

    He's been talkin about me again, ain't he? Backstabber. Ah may go off my but here and there but ah ain't completely irrational. Gots me a paper to prove it, dagnabbit. But that reminds me - what will the gods-given-right-to-drive-a-gassguzzler and leave on all the lights folks do when it doesn't threaten our planet or energy security or Mideast war? Walk around gloomy or find another self a destructive habit?

    Maybe actual reprogramming is not in the budget.
    I propose gradually making certain behavior very expensive and others surprisingly affordable.
    Not that something like that could be planned, exactly.


    Uh, Free Beer on Tuesdays? major motivator for humanity. except for all the fights & wrecked cars Wednesday morning, can't see any drawbacks

    I've got nothing intelligent to add. Just want to say that it's fascinating reading all around. I hope you're right, Q.

    PS This would make a great book topic

    How might renewable energy affect the feasibility of desalination plants? Using California as an example, one major concern affecting both cost and environmental impact is the massive amount of energy required for operation.

    Lots of sunlight  and wind in Southern California. They will have to build the solar grid and wind turbans to produce the electricity to run the operation. This is something that the federal government will have to finance because of the size.  It will be like doing Hoover Dam or Tennessee Valley Authority. It is just too big for corporations. Water is too important and there is no room for profit taking. It should be a function of government.   

    Desalination of course benefits from rapidly dropping costs for that "massive amount of energy", and frequently the solar & wind energy can be produced near those plants.

    PLUS the dealinization process is going through its own technical/cost efficiency curve, such as this use of graphene for near 100% filtering. Singapore's 2013 plant is now below 45 cents per cubic meter.

    Easiest, most effective installs would be parts of Africa, Mideast, India & SE Asia near enough to the sea (over a billion people?)

    I'm wondering when those NASA spacelab systems for re-processing urine to potable water will be useful on an industrial/metropolitan scale.

    From Water-Challenge.com:

    Parts of California would no doubt benefit as well.

    Screw them - they brought the drought upon themselves by being Satan's Spawn, with Jerry Brown as the antichrist. I read it somewhere. From 9th most prosperous country to Ethiopia West.

    But yes, you make a great point - the economic incentives & ability to pay for desalination will likely be much greater in Burbank & Silicon Valley than say Dar-es-Salaam. BTW, did you know "Evian" spelled backwards is "Naïve"? I can just picture dem bottles coming over the San Fernando Pass, Mulholland's great-grandkids trembling with delight and corrupt glee. "Forget it, Jake - it's Chinatown" - another chapter gets written.

    An interesting Technocratic view of a vision of a clean green future depending on the same rapacious dirty and polluting Industrial Civilization that created our present crisis. The claim of ' near-free electricity' brings back the memory of promises from the Nuke Industry of  ' clean electricity too cheap to meter.'

    The main roadblock to this pipe-dream is that our economy and lifestyle are based on never ending growth and the early data has shown that the rapid expansion of solar/wind production has only added another, somewhat cleaner, source to feed this growing demand. US electric power demand will increase by 29% by 2040 and solar/wind may fill much of that increased demand but the base demand will still be supplied from fossil fuels and Nukes.

    Solar/wind power may appear clean viewed from the downstream angle but its manufacture is an industrial process requiring huge amounts of carbon and other pollutant producing inputs. Massive new mining operations, processing, transportation and . the manufacturing plants will be required to achieve this goal and all of this has to be added to the carbon emissions already in the atmosphere.

    Some Japanese industrialists have a plan to ring the Moon with solar panels manufactured by robots with lunar resources to broadcast power back to Earth but this plan will probably be too late to stop the catastrophe we face.


    Not sure this is showing out of control growth. But apparently, that's the storyline that appeals to you, so have at it.

    Here's a real chart though, not a forecast one, but of actual results in recent decades.

    You guys have sparked my interest in installing a solar system on my farmette in N. Texas.

    On Ebay there is an on-grid, ground mount 6.68 Kw package for $15,000. (I'm considering mounting it on a very large flat bed trailer for portability).. It includes 28 Renology panels which have a 25 year warranty.

    At 50% efficiency, it would produce approximately my usage level, about 2400 Kwh per month:

    (3.34 kw per hour  X 24 hrs. per day  X 30 days = 2404 Kwh per month)

    My co-op price is 11.5, so about  $275 per month.  With their connector package my system will run the meter backwards but won't go negative.

    Roughly speaking, about a 5 yr. payback on the package itself. Am I dreaming, or are these numbers in the ball park? My efficiency factor may be too optimistic.

    There are of course other expenditures, installation of a ground mount system, etc. But there may also be a 30% federal  tax credit.

    I have some very handy guys out here so most likely we could invent a battery back-up charging system to go with it as we do get frequent outages.


    edit to add: I think about one third or less efficiency is more realistic. And I assume figures like "6.68 Kwh " are maximum output.


    My son who lives in southern California installed, with a bit of prodding from dear ol' dad, a solar system about two years ago. A neighbor had done a great deal of research and my son piggy-backed on his knowledge and added his own study. I cannot quote the details but the plan promised to mostly pay its own way for ten years and by that time the investment would have been paid off and it would begin providing cost free power. So far it is performing as expected. He lives in a place very well suited for photo voltaic systems.

    Your idea of mounting the system on a trailer, since it is possible in your circumstance, seems very smart. If possible, build in a mount which swivels to follow the sun for much greater efficiency over the whole daylight span.  My own experience with solar comes from some years of living aboard a boat. If I were to install a home system now I would want to completely do away with any reliance on lead-acid batteries. If batteries are needed or wanted, research other types because otherwise you will grow to hate lead/acid.

    Thanks, Lulu.

    My daughter has a system but the payback is upwards of 15 years. I'm just trying to see if I have the essential math any where near right---i.e., what a "6.68 Kwh" system will produce.

    I have built a number of small cottages,etc. on the property and was contemplating a new project so maybe the trailerable energy plant would be the thing.. And like you say, it should include a tracking system. Also, a possible switch to batteries---that's a whole other research area, and thanks for the advice.

    In my compound-avec-cottages design I neglected to consider the fact that on a re-sale the property is "non-conforming"---i.e. a buyer would have a problem getting a home loan. So eventually I might have to rearrange things, divide the property, etc.---in which case the portable system would give me more options.

    As a boat guy you might be interested to know that a large new reservoir will be built very close to the property. This could have a lot of disadvantages---construction of the dam, traffic, more Ram dualies. But then there is the thought of having a boat nearby. And something I don't know whether or not is true, but it is being said that the reservoir will lower the ambient temperature a few degrees.

    I am sure you know most of what I might say but I’ll throw out a few more thoughts anyway. The most common solar setups are hooked up to the grid and send their DC power through a 110 converter and then to the bottom or power out side of the electric meter. That automatically moves the meter in the appropriate direction depending on whether the solar system is producing more or less electricity than you are using. In this way you can use standard appliances and standard lighting. To cover grid outages you would need a battery backup going through a converter to 110 or else a generator. My choice would be a small generator that would handle minimum demand and would free you from an expensive battery bank that would need maintenance even though it would be expected that it would very seldomly be used. Off-grid would obviously need batteries.

    Another thing to consider if you choose to mount the cells on a trailer is that low voltage DC current loses a lot of power to the resistance of the wire carrying it, much more than 110 volt AC. Greater distance, bigger loss so putting it out of sight on the south forty probably isn't a realistic consideration. Unless the trailer were close on the south side of the house and otherwise free from shade you would need to figure the expense of whatever length of heavy guage low resistance stranded wire needed to make the connection.

    Going off topic to boats and remembering your interest in tiny houses I’ll show a project which I am strongly considering. I love to travel, to camp out, and to spend time on the water. I hate motels and cannot afford them for any extended time so this would fit me quite well, I think. A slightly larger version is in the works. This would definitely be for getting off the grid. I hope you keep us posted on your research and final decision.


    Lulu, thanks so much for your comments. And I love the camper boat design.

    I hadn't been able to get excited about a  new project this year and had been trending toward a trailerable building but didn't like my designs. But doing a combination, and making the energy plant the functional driver for the overall design, does get my interest up.

    In Peracles' blah, blah category I see a new form of rural community, one centered on the energy plant with members who are bound together by energy management and minimal foot prints. I think making investments in solar energy systems would encourage people to develop mores around reduced consumption rather than encourage greater consumption. I was thinking that if I invested money in a system I would try like hell not to exceed my limits for the month---I would be in more of a conservation mode than I am now.   

    Yeah, you'll need a pro to run the numbers Oxy. But for starters, you won't get 24 hours of power from solar... for some reason. wink

    Thanks, Q., this discussion really was important. I was figuring 33% to 50% sunlight which was still optimistic, it's about 25%  (5.8 hours out of 24) for my area, and about half of that "up North".


    Right. So I called the vendor.

    The 6.68 package at my location would produce 11, 448 Kwh per year. (Conversion to AC drops it to 5.1 Khw and the index is 5.8 hours of sunlight per day). Or less than half my requirements of 2000 Kwh per month.

    The $ 15 K ground mount is more expensive than the roof mount, which is $11K.

    Funny thing, the 12 Kwh system, roof mount, is $16,000. (The inverter is amortized over a larger system---or the guy figured he had a live one.)

    So, $16,000 less tax credit is $12,000.

    Payback on the package about 4 years.

    Of course there is shipping, installation, dealing with the co-op, getting a trailer (or two), if need be, all at which is going to double the $12 K. Still, looks like a good deal to me, even at 8--10 years' payback.

    Thanks for bringing this subject up. I never before seriously looked at it.

    Interesting graph, Q it shows modest efficiency gains in the US but not future population growth driven demand pressure. The huge PCEC difference between the the US and Europe does clearly show what power gluttons we are and solar/wind will not affect that behavior.

    I've long supported rooftop solar and its rapid expansion to supply individuals homes and reduce the need for additional power plants but this growing segment of wealthier power consumers is already causing some unforeseen problems. Most of these systems are connected to the grid and the Power Companies are required to buy their  excess power  at retail rates. As this trend grows and the PC's lose revenues from this growing segment and cannot profit from the electricity they provide the costs of maintaining the distribution/production system will have to be shifted to those less affluent homeowners/renters left as consumers of their electricity. Some PC's are already charging connection fees to solar system owners to offset these loses so unless solar users disconnect from the grid there will be no free electricity unless those with these solar systems think that the less affluent subsidizing their free green power is ethical.

    I'm not saying that solar/wind power won't reduce the growth of CO2 emissions, it is debatable how much, but that unless we address our power gluttony  and population growth driven energy demand many people around the world will be standing in knee- deep water staring at solar panels and wondering why technology failed them again.

    Peter, you have to compare the effects of immediate investment, say in solar as per my above $20 K system, upon job creation versus the process of possible cost shifting. I'm no economist but I'm guessing the investment and multipliers would substantially outweigh negative effects of cost shifting. It seems that more and better paying jobs would be a benefit to less affluent homeowners, and even renters.

    An average solar system installer makes about $15.50/hr so few of them will be able to afford a system or even the electric rate increase to subsidize your system's connection to the grid, these are mostly low wage jobs and there wil not be a huge number of them but they are better than working at Walmart whose employees may also pay this cost. Some utilities in Texas i think are already charging about $5/mo for solar system connection to the their grid so other consumers may not see this cost but it is a cost that can't be avoided.

    I think solar/wind power can be a very positive addition to our power supplies but it must be used in addition to drastic cuts in overall energy consumption otherwise it just adds more supply and promotes more waste and over-consumption. If we could reduce our consumption to something near what Europeans use we would be rapidly reducing our carbon emissions while transitioning to solar/wind supplies.

    I have to comment on LuLu's idea of using oil to power his solar power system, I hope that was a joke!


    No, I wasn't joking. Oxy said earlier that he would have to look into battery backup because the area had frequent power outages. Remember that an operating grid is part of the system that he is contemplating. If the grid goes down he needs backup. I then recommended a generator for a backup. I had, by that time, forgot that he said that outages were frequent and based my opinion partly on rare usage.  A generator might still be the best realistic choice for his situation for now. It isn't as if the construction and eventual disposal of batteries have no carbon footprint.  Or, maybe you were joking and it is me who didn't get it. I agree with you that reducing per capita consumption is a necessary part of any grand solution.


    Sorry LULU i misinterpreted your recommendation as backup for the solar system not the grid. The gas generator is certainly the best choice  for that job  but the fact he is on a system that has regular outages is  bad news and relates to my concerns about grid and generation maintenance costs. During the day the solar component could help avoid these outages if they are demand problems and there is enough solar generated excess power. The problems could become more critical if the utility is having problems now with revenues to support maintenance and a large enough segment of their customers reduce or eliminate their contribution to revenues. The utility would have to supply less  power but still maintain the same distribution system.

    There is another problem that will have to be addressed as solar power grows and provides a larger share of power during the day. When the sun stops shining there will be a huge spike in system demand and coal power plants or even Nukes cannot be turned on and off rapidly, gas generators are more versatile so it may be necessary to construct new plants to meet this changed condition.


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