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View Diary: For electric power generation, the end of fossil fuel is in sight (215 comments)

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  •  Solar has the potential to eliminate the grid. (15+ / 0-)

    Point of use generation is better in that there are many fewer points of failure. Living off the grid is much safer.

    The third world is going that way because they haven't already invested in the grid infrastructure and can't afford it now. Someone with a cell phone in a village in India doesn't charge it by plugging it in to the wall because there are no plugs in the wall. Instead they buy a solar charger when they buy a phone.

    The grid probably won't completely disappear any time soon, but the more we can downgrade its importance the better off we will be.

    •  What is needed is a massive effort at residential (14+ / 0-)

      and commercial roof top solar which is also married to comprehensive energy conservation programs.

      This type of energy development will create high employment and a diversified electric generation system.

      We also need:

      Renewable generation public power authorities

      Research on integrating home space heating, water heating and electricity generation.

      District heating systems designed around new residential and commercial development.

      Massive refrigerator  change out program to get energy star units in widespread use (very big energy payback on this).

      •  We also need, here in the north country,..... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        of massive changeout of any remaining less than 85% thermal efficiency residential furnaces and massively changing those out for 96% thermal efficiency condensing type units [make by Amana, Lenox and others.

        Next, we need to create sewage sludge gasification projects that are near existing industrial gas users in the steel industry and the petroleum industry for material gasification units with cryogenic gas processing to create concentrated flows of needed H2, CO, NH3, H2SO4 products for industrial use, as well as a concentrated CO2 flow for potential sequestration or industrial use.

         In addition to solving the sewage sludge disposal problem [which can also be solved in other ways], such a gasification process can also be used to solve the trash/landfill disposal problem for municipal solid waste [but only after current waste recovery industry for materials reuse gets it first; materials recycling recovery efforets are a form of greenhouse gas emission control stewardship since their recovery preserves the benefit of the use  of the material achieved by the original energy input [and thus inherent CO2 generation].

        We should probably rebuild much of the steel industry as
        well, focusing on direct reduction to iron process and nonrecovery coking with integrated electrical cogeneration.

    •  The electrical grid isn't going to "completely (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Yoshimi, Andrew F Cockburn, BYw

      disappear" ever because an electric utility that disconnected its interconnect to other systems would be committing an act of electric utility system design engineering misconduct.

    •  Economy of scale (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Andrew F Cockburn, ferg, Joieau, elginblt

      Right now, its more economical to do solar at a utility scale (Soitec and First Solar).  The solar plants in this country are doing really well.

      •  That's only because the banksters (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BYw, Just Bob, Calamity Jean

        have figured out how to manipulate the incentives to their advantage (their evil, not stupid). If we want to create a lot of jobs and not tax the electric grid, we should promote residential and light commercial solar.

        -7.5 -7.28, A carrot is as close as a rabbit gets to a diamond.-Don Van Vliet

        by Blueslide on Mon Feb 04, 2013 at 05:45:12 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  No, its because the parts and components (0+ / 0-)

          and maintenance at a large scale is more economical and have a better ROI than a single panel on your roof.

          •  I dunno (0+ / 0-)

            The latest installed cost for a couple MW is $1.50/watt? Then you have to ship it to where its needed and the utility may have to accomodate the connection with more gear. You can do a small residential job for under $4/watt, no connection woes and most power gets used within earshot. You also employ more people wit the installation, get more individuals invested in solar and send incentives paid by local ratepayers to mom and pop who will likely spend it locally...its win-win unlike multi MW installs funded by bankers that ship in cheap labor, siphon out the local incentive money and walk away.

            -7.5 -7.28, A carrot is as close as a rabbit gets to a diamond.-Don Van Vliet

            by Blueslide on Wed Feb 06, 2013 at 01:56:32 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  Andrew - that works in the third world (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Andrew F Cockburn, Roger Fox

      because they don't demand 24/7/365 uninterrupted power. First world power needs can't be compared to any third world application.

      "let's talk about that"

      by VClib on Mon Feb 04, 2013 at 01:19:51 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  We could stop demanding 24/7/365 (8+ / 0-)

        uninterrupted power...

        I am writing this on a laptop with a four hour battery life. It is snowing outside but my house is well insulated. We have battery powered lights for emergencies.

        It would still take lots of work to get off the grid, but it isn't impossible. In twenty or thirty years I think that it will be common. Even if you are on the grid, it will be more to even generation out and provide capacity for the rare times when you need a lot of juice.

        Even if we could only generate 25% of our total power, most of us would have no trouble ramping our usage down to that level in the case of a disaster. That would mean that Lowes wouldn't be selling out of generators every time there is a big storm and people wouldn't be freezing to death if they can't afford one.

        When I was a kid no one was talking about eliminating the telephone grid. Instead we were trying to expand it out to the rural areas. Now most college students don't have a land line and never will. Things change.

        •  Industries (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Andrew F Cockburn, VClib

          require a lot of power, 24/365. Additionally, moving to more renewables will require a much more robust grid to distribute the intermittent power from the different generating regions.

          Going to renewables won't eliminate the grid, it will put much, much larger demands on the grid.

        •  Sure, and I can get my pony too. (0+ / 0-)

          next week.

          FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

          by Roger Fox on Mon Feb 04, 2013 at 05:32:45 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

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