"The most powerful force resisting new nuclear may be a legion of small, fast and simple microgeneration and efficiency projects." - Amory Lovins
There has been a lot of silly things written about micro-generation. The basic idea is to unplug from the grid, and hook up to an energy producing home appliance. The two most often mentioned are a household wind generator and a household solar panel. New Scientist published in its 30 September 2006, a discussion of microgeneration, "Small-scale renewable power - Low wattage thinking? by George Monbiot" Well the answer was yes.
Now Monbiot has written a lot of idiotic things in favor of .renewables, so when he does not like one of Lovins favorite concepts, you know it has to be bad.
Monbiot quoted "misleading rhetoric" by "environmental architect" Bill Dunster who claimed, "up to half of your annual electric needs can be met by a near silent micro wind turbine." Dunster specified the use of a 1.75 meter generator. Actual research reported in a Green magazine Building for a Future found that in an 8 mile an hour breeze the 1,75 Meter generator actually had a power output of 5% of the average household's energy demand.
"In almost all circumstances, micro wind turbines are a waste of time and money," Monbiot concludes.
Monbiot next examines the use of home solar panels. He finds that Jeremy Leggett who heads a solar power business is advising potential customers that "even in the cloudy UK, more electricity than the nation currently uses could be generated by putting photovoltaic roof tiles on all suitable roofs." Monboit then makes an astonishing admission:
"The European consultancy firm Future Energy Solutions, formerly the Energy Technology Support Unit , , , calculated that if solar electricity could somehow achieve an efficiency of 12 to 15 per cent at all points of the compass, the "maximum practicable resource" in the UK in 2025 would be 266 terawatt-hours per year. Total annual electricity demand in the UK is currently 407 TWh." He adds, "seeking to generate all our electricity this way would be staggeringly and pointlessly expensive; there are far better ways of spending the money."
Monbiot's proposed? "[A] massive investment in offshore wind farms. "
I nearly fell out of my chair when I read that. The cost of the Cape Wind project was recently estimated by the New Your Times to run at $1.7 Billion. Project managers provide a lower estimate, $1.2 billion. That is fr 440 MW's of name plate power. Figure that actual power generated will not be more that a thid of that. Long Island power pulled the plug on an 140 MW offshore wind project last year, when the price skyrocketed to $800,000,000.
See what I mean about Monbiot saying idiotic things about renewables.
Monbiot left out many of the problems of microgeneration. For example, what to do when the sun does not shine or the wind does not blow. There are three solutions to this. The first is to do without electrical power when you have outages. Do you really believe that Lovins doesn't turn on his lights on windless nights? The second is to hook your microgenerating appliance and household to the grid. The electricity is fed to the grid and then when it is needed, electricity it is ged from the grid back to the household. There is a problem. The grid is not free. The price the grid pays for your electricity will always be less than what you pay the grid for electricity. Using the Grid is not a Lovins solution anyway. The Grid solution is very expensive. One demonstration system, the Watson Solat House, ended up costing over $35,000. Even with a $16,000 investment rebate and a and a production incentive of $0.38/kWh for the first 3 years of power production, the investment woud not start to pay for the home owner until after 10 to 13.5 years. The total subsidy to the project came to something over $25,000. Of course the Watson project was several years ago, and solar panel prices have gone down in price, but solar panels are not the only expensive thing needed for a solar installation. A 4,56 KW solar PV Net metering system us being advertised on eBay today for a starting bid of $27,360.00.
There is a third solution, using batteries. Electricity from renewable sources is used to charge batteries. Household electricity is then drawn from the batteries. The average US household uses about 11,000 KWh of electricity every year. That would mean that at least 8 KWh of battery storage capacity must be part of the system to provide 24 hour a day household electrical needs. Battery cists are not easy to cme by, but solar microgeneration advisories warn "batteries are the most expensive part of a PV system." Lead acid batteries last no more than 5 years. Don't expect to store your 8 KWhs of overnight power in car batteries either. Look to buy some hefty, big mother, deep discharge batteries. After 5 years lead acid batteries will have to be remanufactured or replaced. Oh and micro-generation advisories warn, "you may have to resort to charging the battery bank with a gasoline, diesel or propane generator set during foggy periods or during a several day period with no wind or sun -- in the winter especially, for independent systems." Well notning is perfect. Generators and fuel also cost money, and need to be servised.
The Advisory says, "Running a generator set for a few hours per day to charge a battery bank IS FAR PREFERABLE to running a generator all day and all night long." Yes but is it preferable to getting steady dependable power from a nuclear power plant?
A Advisory reports that a 1.2 KW solar system with batteries goes for a little more than $15,000. That is about $12,500 per KW.
When you use battery storage, you also have to have battery charge and discharge controllers. They cost and have to be installed. If you don't use the controllers, the batteries will be quickly ruined. Remanufacturing batteries is also an ugly, nasty, dirty business. I believe the remanufactures have all moved to Mexico where environmental and worker health and safety laws are not enforced.
An Advisory also states:
"Actual PV system kW hour output may vary according to weather patterns, obstructing trees or buildings. Shipping and handling are additional. Most shipping is handled UPS. The output of these systems is approximately 11.7 kW hours per day at latitude 46 (Seattle) as compared to 16.8 kW hours per day at latitude 30 to 35 (southern U.S.) For northern latitudes this system can produce up to 70% of needed electrical power for a home that consumes 500 kW hours per month (up to 100% in southern U.S. latitudes are additional. Most shipping is handled UPS. The output of these systems is approximately 11.7 kW hours per day at latitude 46 (Seattle) as compared to 16.8 kW hours per day at latitude 30 to 35 (southern U.S.) For northern latitudes this system can produce up to 70% of needed electrical power for a home that consumes 500 kW hours per month (up to 100% in southern U.S. latitudes."
I wonder if this is what Lovins had in mind?
Some neat videos
|Nuclear Advocacy Webring
Ring Owner: Nuclear is Our Future Site: Nuclear is Our Future
|Get Your Free Web Ring
links The Weinberg Foundation
- The Weinberg Foundation
- Deregulate the Atom
- LFTRS to Power the Planet
- Sustainable Energy Today
- ANS Nuclear Cafe
- Thorium Power
- The Nuclear Alternative
- Yes Vermont Yankee
- Nuclear Townhall
- NNadir's underground blog
- Environmentalists For Nuclear Energy
- Save The Climate (Sauvons Le Climat0
- The Energy Tribune
- Nuclear Fissionary
- Nuclear Archer
- This week in batteries (TWIB)
- Gerald E. Marsh & George S. Stanford on Nuclear Policy
- The Capacity Factor
- Canadian Energy Crisis
- Institute for Energy Research
- Energy from Thorium Documents
- Energy from Thorium Discussion Forum
- Next Big Future
- Knowledge Problems
- Brave New Climate
- Thorium electronuclear
- AREVA Blog
- The Energy Collective
- Climate Change Politics
- Reactor Physics Group Publications
- Alexander DeVolpi on nuclear-weapons nonproliferation
- New Papyrus Magazine
- Pronuclear Democrats
- American Energy Independence
- Energy Density
- SUSTAINABLE ENERGY - WITHOUT THE HOT AIR
- The Atomic Show
- Atomic Watch
- Pebble Bed Reactors
- The Thorium fuel cycle
- Simon Nisan on Nuclear Desalination
- Dr. Ralph Moir
- National Wind Watch
- Wind Energy Resource Atlas
- solar calculator
- THE NUCLEAR ENERGY OPTION by Bernard L. Cohen
- Oil Drum
- Solar Buzz
- Clean Brake (Tyler Hamilton)
- Fuel Cycle Week
- Depleted Cranium: Dr. Buzzo's Bad Science Blog
- Blogging About the Unthinkable
- Uranium Information
- Frank Munger
- The Information Bridge
- Alvin Weinberg Papers
- Left-Atomics (David Walters)
- Real CLimate
- 1 nuclear place
- World Nuclear News
- David Walters
- NIE Nuclear Notes
- Idaho Samizdat
- Atomic Insights blog
- Energy from Thorium
- A Musing Environment