Fossil Fuel Industry Attack On Solar Energy

Discussion in 'Too Hot for Swamp Gas' started by 108, Apr 28, 2014.

  1. 108
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    108 Premium Member

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    This surely isn't the "free-market" at work, but Capitalists using Government to prevent competition...aka Crony Capitalism

    Any justification here?

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/27/opinion/sunday/the-koch-attack-on-solar-energy.html?_r=0
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  2. gatorman_07732
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    gatorman_07732 Well-Known Member

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    You just got to love how this starts out: "For the last few months, the Kochs and other big polluters"
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  3. 108
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    108 Premium Member

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    yes, not the best article to elicit serious discussion, but nonetheless, Koch or not, any justification here?
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  4. gatorman_07732
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    gatorman_07732 Well-Known Member

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    Solar has receive a lot of money from the government and is still not close to being a viable source of energy. That is just the fact of the matter. For the sake of argument you should probably take the Koch brothers out of it because there is so much stuff out there right now about them being the devil of everything it's hard to even know what the truth is anymore.

    http://www.aei-ideas.org/2013/11/re...ergy-unit-produced-than-fossil-fuels-in-2010/

    [​IMG]
  5. Tasselhoff
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    Tasselhoff Well-Known Member

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  6. 108
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    108 Premium Member

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    hence me not using them in my personal response, but I do get the point...

    a graph showing today's current direct subsidies versus one another, isn't showing the full picture.....current or throughout history

    do you know how much tax payer money indirectly subsidizes fossil fuels?
  7. 108
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    108 Premium Member

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    I have often railed against Big Money special interests in politics, left and right, but is there anything more to this story? I don't mean to make light of that, but this isn't a story about simple idological opposition..

    And let's not hijack this thread while there is already one for that...
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  8. G8trGr8t
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    G8trGr8t Premium Member

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    under the current rules in many places, the homeowners are not paying for the infrastructure required to be on reserve in the event they need it when they need it. lot of utilities do not have a base facility fee that covers the cost of their capital investment so they make little from those who invest heavily in renewables while they still have to have the capacity to provide service to them tomorrow in the event the sun doesn't shine. the rate structure ahs to change to provide that base facility charge to keep the plant in operation and the lines up and humming.


    another big challenge and costly to overcome is grid instability when renewables exceed 10% +/-. Should I have to pay for expensive upgrades to the grid so you can run your house on solar until the sun isn't shining anymore?

    http://www.instituteforenergyresear...ys-green-energy-destabilizing-electric-grids/

    Germany is phasing out its nuclear plants in favor of wind and solar energy backed-up by coal power. The government’s transition to these intermittent green energy technologies is causing havoc with its electric grid and that of its neighbors–countries that are now building switches to turn off their connection with Germany at their borders. The intermittent power is causing destabilization of the electric grids causing potential blackouts, weakening voltage and causing damage to industrial equipment.

    The instability of the electric grid is just one of many issues that the German government is facing regarding its move to intermittent renewable technologies. As we have previously reported, residential electricity prices in Germany are some of the highest in Europe and are increasing dramatically (currently Germans pay 34 cents a kilowatt hour compared to an average of 12 cents in the United States). This year German electricity rates are about to increase by over 10 percent due mainly to a surcharge for using more renewable energy and a further 30 to 50 percent price increase is expected in the next ten years. These changes in the electricity generation market have caused about 800,000 German households to no longer be able to afford their energy bills.

    The Destabilization Problem

    More than one third of Germany’s wind turbines are located in the eastern part of the nation where this large concentration of generating capacity regularly overloads the region’s electricity grid, threatening blackouts. The situation tends to be particularly critical on public holidays when residents and companies consume significantly less electricity than usual with the wind blowing regardless of the demand and supplying electricity that isn’t needed. In some extreme cases, the region produces three to four times the total amount of electricity actually being consumed, placing a strain on the eastern German electric grid. System engineers have to intervene every other day to maintain network stability.

    [​IMG]

    Source: http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/bild-850419-389683.html

    To illustrate the problem that renewable energy instability can cause, here is an example. When the voltage from German’s electric grid weakened for just a millisecond at 3 am, the machines at Hydro Aluminum in Hamburg ground to a halt, production stopped, and the aluminum belts snagged, hitting machines and destroying a piece of the mill with damages amounting to $12,300 to the equipment. The voltage weakened two more times in the next three weeks, causing the company to purchase its own emergency system using batteries, costing $185,000.

    These short interruptions to the German electric grid increased by 29 percent and the number of service failures increased 31 percent over a 3-year period, with about half of those failures leading to production stoppages causing damages ranging from ten thousand to hundreds of thousands of Euros. These power grid fluctuations in Germany are causing major damage to a number of industrial companies, who have responded by getting their own power generators and regulators to help minimize the risks. However, companies warn that they might be forced to leave if the government does not deal with the issues quickly.
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2014
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  9. 108
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    108 Premium Member

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    Thanks for the informative post
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  10. ncgatr1
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    Oh gee more special interest groups using politicians to hold the American people hostage, what a shocker. On the a Repub side it's the big oil, on the democrat side it's the moonbat environmental agencies like he EPA and BLM led by groups like the Sierra Club. What a complete joke both parties have become.
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  11. gatorev12
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    gatorev12 Well-Known Member

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    Equal thanks for the nonpartisan reply.

    Many conservatives have nothing against renewable energy and support it. I for one would much rather keep the money and the jobs in the USA rather than sending hard-earned capital overseas (and especially to many of the countries that are major oil suppliers).

    But Germany and Europe are good cautionary tales about relying on technology that isn't ready for the mass market or is ill-suited to be a reliable alternative.
  12. G8trGr8t
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    not sure it was the answer you were looking for but the article you linked had an agenda before it was penned and was woefully short on info on utility finance and grid instability and the costs that solar panels and net metering put back onto the rest of the consumers using the grid. it was more like a hit piece. sad reflection on the editorial board
  13. gatorev12
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    gatorev12 Well-Known Member

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    G8tr...do you think it'd be a better use of taxpayer money to instead install them for individual home use?

    People are already doing this in many areas, but with greater subsidies and tax credits, I could see it expanding. In places like the SW and much of the South, it would greatly cut down on electrical demand during daylight hours from suburban homes during some of the peak hours when people use AC and do household chores, etc.
  14. wcj786
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    I have actually been researching using solar energy for my parent's place with a grid-tie system (selling energy back to the utilities). The recommended approach to designing a solar system is to use the total kWh per year and divide it by 12. That would give you the average monthly kWh used. If you come us with 1500 kWh/mo, then you would need a 18,000 kW system to break even at the end of the year.

    In some months, you would be selling excess energy back to the utility, but in other months, you would be using energy from the grid. At the end of the year, you should break even, so there is no overall cost for your electricity for the year.

    The main problems with solar are the high price of the panels AND that if the electric grid goes down, you can not use the solar energy you are still receiving. To utilize that energy, you have to have batteries, which makes the system cost even more and provide a possibility of catastrophic damage due to not perofrming proper maintenance on those batteries. The best batteries are still only good for approximately 10 years and you have to have enough to handle a grid outage of quite a few days in some areas.

    The better solution would be the solar grid-tie system with a propane generator and large propane tank. The generator would allow for grid outages, while the solar would be used while the grid is up.

    Now, I have just gone over what would be a good approach for a homeowner, but here are some issues. Why allow a 30% federal rebate on residential solar? I can understand state rebates, as in places like California, providing incentives to reduce the use of electricity from the grid and even selling back to the utilities actually help the grid. But, there is actually no reason the federal gov't should provide any incentive to the homeowner for putting in solar, especially the 30% that it currently provides.

    As far as the "fossil fuel industry" attacking solar, I am all for the use of residential solar, if the individual homeowner is willing to put out the up-front costs. I even can handle the incentives being handed out by the federal, state, and local governments, as well as the utility companies, but the "fossil fuel industry" does have legitimate complaints, in that they are not receiving any of the same benefits being provided for solar.

    What I do not agree with is the government providing these benefits to companies who supposedly build solar farms. A business first responsibility is to provide a profit to it's owners. By providing massive incentives, the federal government is propping up these businesses and it is costing the tax payers. Make the businesses prove their business will work without incentives (including Big Oil, farms, and every other business that receives subsidies/massive tax breaks), then the government can think about providing incentives to those who do less harm to the environment.

    Contrary to some who think that conservatives don't care about the environment, we do. We just don't think the problem is anywhere near the hysteria they make it out to be. Nor do we think that we should throw taxpayer money at every idea that could "help the environment". We are willing to put money in proven cost-effective technologies and even SOME money into research on those technologies that look promising, but are not yet cost-effective.
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  15. buddhistgator
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    buddhistgator Active Member

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    Those are solar panels in my avatar picture. I live in a very sunny and relatively cloudless locale. They will pay for themselves 5-6 years at current power prices.

    The issue with comparing to non renewables like oil is that those alternatives don't put in any dollar value on environmental impact.
  16. Emmitto
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    YES.

    The utilities are desperately trying to stymie residential use. But they are all over using it themselves. Witness Dominion tell Virginia what to do and when to do it. And that's not the only place. I am 100%, absolutely, no questions-asked against utilities and centralized producers being subsidized in any way for solar (that goes for fossil fuels too). They'll F this up for everyone if we let them. We should fight tooth and nail to prevent them from getting their hooks into this, unless they just pay for it themselves.

    But subsidizing solar to finish off the storage aspect? And for residences. Oh yeah. That's all that's left to get you off the pipe (or stack, or rail, or whatever other analogy you want to use). This would've been done decades ago with any serious energy policy. But it's on the way.

    And sorry to parse words, but "solar isn't a viable source of energy" should immediately be rephrased if one's agenda is to stop its progress.
  17. Gatorrick22
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    Gatorrick22 Well-Known Member

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    Does the sun shin all the time? Does the sun shine at night? Then it's not good enough to rely on.... FACT!
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  18. Emmitto
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    You know there are already ways around this, right? But some other facts are that while the sun is free to you and everyone else, all of those other things are only owned by a few who keep you plugged into the Matrix and have to externalize monumental costs in order to make it work (subsidized). But more and more people are taking the red pill.

    Another inherent flaw with the current model is indeed the grid. Not for what people are complaining about here, but because it's owned by a relatively tiny number of entities and is becoming obviously outdated. They left a gaping hole for companies to come in and establish microgrids, which complement alternatives and address the Dinosaur Grid's issues.

    Thus the breathless attacks on solar by The Juice, coupled with trying to get in on it on the backside (and keep it centralized...distributed power, in any form, is the real enemy to the literal power brokers). Aside from the mere philosophy of controlling your own life, I have even less love for utilities and distributors who have intentionally chosen not to embrace solar (until now...so long as THEY own it, not you).

    It was a good gig for them, for a loooooooooong time. Good riddance.
  19. Gatorrick22
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    Then why do we need to subsidize it and regulate other fuels just to make it more competitive? Solar power is nice if you live in a desert and it's summer-time (long days) all year-round.

    I'm actually for all of the above approach to energy (unlike Obama), as long as we have an even playing field and don't regulate other fuels out of existence.
  20. Emmitto
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    Surely you're not going for this "fossil fuels aren't subsidized" line? Although I'd be all for NO SUBSIDIES for ANY of them. But that would also mean factoring in the cost to society for all of them also. I don't know what the value of West Virginia, Kentucky, and the rest of Appalachia used to be, but now just cut to the chase and avoid those disaster zones altogether. And if you can't, at least take your own water with you that you got somewhere the coal isn't acquired or the ash isn't awaiting release.

    Plummeting cost of solar aside, the primary reason (aside from the artificial externalizing of fossil fuel costs) solar needs subsidizing is because of the ancient system this country has built and insisted on not updating. Again, centralized production and then transmission from a tiny group, with gargantuan infrastructure costs. When you're producing it at home and sending to a responsive and efficient micro grid you're going to wonder what we were thinking all that time.

    And FTR, I find the electrification of America to be one of the world's more impressive technological achievements. We just let it get captured for decades longer than it should have (if it should ever be captured at all). There was no incentive to advance it in any meaningful way. Still using the fuel that the first droolers to figure out fire picked up on the beach. Guaranteed monopolies and profits. Still building billion dollar buildings to do those things. Captured government agencies and elected officials to perpetuate that system. And so on. The Model T was badass in its day too.
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