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PostPosted: Apr 28, 2016 6:52 pm 
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Ray Kurzweil thinks so, and I'm not sure how to reproduce or criticize his numbers.

http://www.kurzweilai.net/solar-power-w ... -281905337

He claims that the world's percentage of energy from solar doubles every 2 years.
i.e. 4 years ago it was 0.5%, now it's 2%.
I'm not sure if he means energy, including transportation and heat, or only electricity.
I think he means only electricity, but even so, if it's doubling, it could get
everything in just a few more years!

Anyway, it's a startling claim. He points out that if it continues on this trajectory, it will reach 100% in 10-12 years.
I know from my own research that a solar panel is now less than $0.30 per watt. (peak production, not leveled.)
Most of the cost of solar is now installation (about $2.40/W, also not leveled).
In the new developments near my home, all the houses have built-in solar. (admittedly, in sunny California)
Also, the city, library and school parking lots all have solar shades.
Huntington Beach's City Hall Parking Lot:
http://lbpost.com/place/2000005775-sunedison-to-install-four-solar-power-plants-in-long-beach
Ambri seems to be developing high-quality long-lasting stationary batteries, which may be able to handle leveling.
My current costing of leveled solar power using Ambri batteries is about $5/W. And falling.


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PostPosted: Apr 29, 2016 4:59 am 
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Then we will run out of silver soon, as solar already accounts for about 10% of silver consumption.

Not really - that's like saying an expansion of nuclear means we'll run out Uranium. Humans do have some capacity for innovation.

More importantly, solar can double from a low base, but as it grows, it suffers from grid integration issues. So without a huge deployment of batteries, Germany can't double it's solar capacity again - even though it's only delivering about 5% of electricity supply.

The intermittency issue may be solvable where peak demand occurs when solar is at it's peak, and where the weather is reliable.


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PostPosted: Apr 29, 2016 9:45 am 
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Thorium power is available in the near term, e.g. utilized in a Flibe Energy machine (LFTR), before orbital microwave power transmission to very large ground rectifying antennae begin delivering significant reliable baseload power. (Nuclear is presently 60% of all nonemitting power.) Boeing is promoting that technology:

"Boeing scientists also led a study on solar power satellites presented to the National Security Space Office and participated in a NASA/DOD study of options for a near-term demonstration of space solar power technology in LEO."

Historical Snapshot

http://www.spectrolab.com/space.htm

The point is that a LFTR is almost ready to be built today. Of all Gen IV designs, the Flibe Energy LFTR is the only liquid reactor that is optimized for the Th/233U fuel cycle that was known to have benefits over uranium for domestic nuclear power, e.g. shorter-lived wastes.

Image

Ray Kurzweil invented sound modeling technology that enabled the manufacture of advanced electronic musical instruments in support of a multibillion-dollar music industry. Ray is aware that exponential growth can level off, e.g. --

Image

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Last edited by Tim Meyer on Apr 29, 2016 10:24 am, edited 4 times in total.

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PostPosted: Apr 29, 2016 9:53 am 
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Solar isn't that much in Northern Europe, where peak electricity demand certainly does not occur in summer, and in Britian it even occurs in the dark.

You would need massive power lines and a one world government really.


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PostPosted: Apr 29, 2016 1:31 pm 
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This document may provide an idea of the troubles ahead if one tries to catch up with the German deployment of renewables:
http://www.eon.com/content/dam/eon-com/ ... en_eng.pdf


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PostPosted: Apr 29, 2016 8:18 pm 
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So far solar has provided only traces of the grid power, so its intermittency problems are masked. If solar continues to grow exponentially it will soon run into various hourly, daily, weekly, and seasonal intermittency issues. Especially since the growth is concentrated in just a small number of countries.

It will be interesting to see how the growth curve responds to these issues.


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PostPosted: Apr 29, 2016 9:55 pm 
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The problem I see with solar power growth is the problem of meeting manufacturing demands. My knowledge on what it takes to make photovoltaic cells is limited. What I do know about semiconductor manufacturing is largely on ASICs, FPGAs, and other computer logic and even that is from college classes, trade papers, and working on digital circuit design. I have never seen a semiconductor manufacturing plant but I have seen some of the numbers. These plants are expensive.

Photovoltaic cells need high grade silicon. I've heard that the grade for photovoltaics is not as high as what is needed for computer chips but I can't imagine this makes it a whole lot cheaper. Where do the people that expect exponential growth of photovoltaics expect the photovoltaics to come from? Perhaps some enterprising people might find a way to steal some capacity from those that make computer chips. There might be some overlap here but I don't believe it would be that much.

With most any industry the ability to double capacity once is almost trivial. Factories like to run on a 9-to-5 schedule like most any other industry. If demand rises then they start asking for overtime. If demand rises more then a new shift is created. If demand rises more then perhaps a third shift is added. This could mean a tripling of output by just going from an 8 hour day to running 24 hours. What starts to happen then is that there is no down time for equipment maintenance. What would have been done in the evening hours after a shift cannot be done any more. The equipment can only be pushed so far.

Assume this situation for a moment, that existing equipment is now run at a leisurely pace for 8 hours per day. By adding two more shifts, doing maintenance on weekends, and running things a bit faster, the current capacity can be quadrupled. Once that is done it takes more equipment. A new photovoltaic factory cannot be built overnight. Given the cost it is going to be difficult to raise the capital necessary. This is also going to be difficult given how much photovoltaics rely on government subsidy and the prices of competing energy sources to be profitable. Lots of people lost a lot of money investing in photovoltaics in the past, these people have been burned once already.

Assuming that they find the money then the construction can begin. It would take years for such a factory to come online and actually produce product. Assuming this growth continues then we start over again, first one shift, then two, then three, and then they have to find capital for another factory. I don't know how many people would be willing to invest with growth like this, they'd have to know this cannot continue forever. It's fine for those that got in at the beginning since their ability to make a profit is nearly assured. The people that get in late are going to be left with more to lose if the demand falls. This basic aspect of economics will control growth.

I have to laugh when I see people claim solar power is going to take over any day now. I just don't know how I can explain to these people the problems that must be overcome for solar power to grow with any speed. I just went over the manufacturing problems but that is just a fraction of the issues.

Unless someone can show where I went wrong then I'll stick with my stance that solar power growth will be very slow if it grows at all.

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PostPosted: Apr 29, 2016 10:14 pm 
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You can produce huge amounts of power in say the Sahara, and thanks to UHVDC and UHVAC you could feasibly power most of Europe with that energy.... during the day.
You would need titanic pumped storage capacity to handle diurnal cycling and probably some sort of winter plant to help offset the winter demand peak - I would have to do some calculations about how big seasonal swings in insolation actually are in the Sahara though (although Norwegian and Alpine hydro might be able to do that, I dunno - the big problem is there are no huge hydro lakes like those in Canada that allow enormous water storage).

Then there is the problem of the political issues that would lead to Europe effectively ruling most of North Africa as a means of protecting this extended jugular of an energy supply.


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PostPosted: Apr 30, 2016 1:33 am 
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From the data I've seen, the integration costs increase exponetially as the source penetration approaches the source Capacity Factor. If the % of electrical enery provided by solar ever approaches 20%, the integration costs will be untenable.

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PostPosted: Apr 30, 2016 7:56 am 
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Kurt Sellner wrote:
The problem I see with solar power growth is the problem of meeting manufacturing demands. My knowledge on what it takes to make photovoltaic cells is limited. What I do know about semiconductor manufacturing is largely on ASICs, FPGAs, and other computer logic and even that is from college classes, trade papers, and working on digital circuit design. I have never seen a semiconductor manufacturing plant but I have seen some of the numbers. These plants are expensive.

Photovoltaic cells need high grade silicon. I've heard that the grade for photovoltaics is not as high as what is needed for computer chips but I can't imagine this makes it a whole lot cheaper. Where do the people that expect exponential growth of photovoltaics expect the photovoltaics to come from? Perhaps some enterprising people might find a way to steal some capacity from those that make computer chips. There might be some overlap here but I don't believe it would be that much.


I'm not too worried about that, just look at the growth in flat screen m2/year production (tot up laptops, televisions, etc.). I think the real issues are to do with the intermittency, unavailability, and low capacity factor. These are currently masked by the low penetration of solar in grids today. In a climate that isn't sunny, you might get 8-11% capacity factor on average. Doing 5% solar PV on the grid is not too difficult even with such a poor availability. Doing 50% is a whole different ballgame. And the climate scientists say we need 80%. The usual renewables enthusiast answer is we'll have wind and other sources too, but those are not reliable either so doesn't solve the problem. Its like thinking, "my car doesn't start 50% of the time. Therefore I will buy another car that also doesn't start 50% of the time." Does that provide reliable means of getting to your work every day?


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PostPosted: Apr 30, 2016 9:28 pm 
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Cyril R wrote:
I'm not too worried about that, just look at the growth in flat screen m2/year production (tot up laptops, televisions, etc.).

What you say may be true but with what I know I must disagree here. The glass on those flat screens are quite thick and durable and so scaling up like we have does not impose forces on the glass that would be an issue. PV cells are very thin, and they must or they get expensive. These cells are as thin and fragile as a potato chip, they can't simply made bigger because then they'd have a tendency to crack. A crack in a PV cell can destroy the output of that cell. A damaged cell in an array can turn it from a power source to a load on the rest of the cells. Once packaged in an aluminum frame and protected by a glass covering they can hold up to hail storms but in the factory they have to be handled more carefully than chicken eggs.

Cyril R wrote:
I think the real issues are to do with the intermittency, unavailability, and low capacity factor.

I agree, I just wanted to point out the logistical obstacles of increasing production at the rate these advocates claim we will see.

Cyril R wrote:
These are currently masked by the low penetration of solar in grids today. In a climate that isn't sunny, you might get 8-11% capacity factor on average. Doing 5% solar PV on the grid is not too difficult even with such a poor availability. Doing 50% is a whole different ballgame. And the climate scientists say we need 80%. The usual renewables enthusiast answer is we'll have wind and other sources too, but those are not reliable either so doesn't solve the problem. Its like thinking, "my car doesn't start 50% of the time. Therefore I will buy another car that also doesn't start 50% of the time." Does that provide reliable means of getting to your work every day?

As anyone that has had even an introductory course on statistics will tell you having two independent items, each with 50% chance of happening, means one of them will happen only 50% of the time, 25% of the time both will occur, and 25% neither will occur.

If we extend this car analogy we can have a pool of cars, each with a probability of working on a given day. Suppose a family has three cars so that they can have a good chance that someone can get to work on a given day. On a day when all three cars refuse to work then they must stay home, walk, or take a bus. If the bus service had busses where each bus with only a 50% chance of running that day then they'd have to have enough spare busses on hand to meet demand on any given day. There's probably been numerous statistics papers written on a model like this. What will be a problem is that even with all these spare busses there is still a chance that a day will come along that there just will not be enough busses to go around, perhaps even a chance that none of the busses would run.

The assumption I gave was that solar panel output is a truly random event, which it is not. Solar output changes with latitude and longitude, weather, seasons, time, and likely more. These events are also not independent from each other, such as storms are more likely in the afternoon. Even if added with the equally intermittent wind power we cannot rely on wind and solar to keep the lights on.

I've seen a number of people that studied this state that intermittent power like wind and solar cannot exceed 20% of total capacity. If solar energy grows oo fast then we will likely see the grid become unstable. This comes from people that have studied this problem in depth.

Assuming that solar energy advocates can make solar energy cheap enough and solve the problems of intermittency then they'd soon find a problem with ramping up enough factories everywhere.

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PostPosted: May 01, 2016 2:43 am 
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I've read that one little investigated problem with solar power is what to do with all those toxic panals when they are worn out.

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PostPosted: May 01, 2016 8:39 am 
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Quote:
If we extend this car analogy we can have a pool of cars, each with a probability of working on a given day. Suppose a family has three cars so that they can have a good chance that someone can get to work on a given day. On a day when all three cars refuse to work then they must stay home, walk, or take a bus. If the bus service had busses where each bus with only a 50% chance of running that day then they'd have to have enough spare busses on hand to meet demand on any given day. There's probably been numerous statistics papers written on a model like this. What will be a problem is that even with all these spare busses there is still a chance that a day will come along that there just will not be enough busses to go around, perhaps even a chance that none of the busses would run.


In reality it is much worse because of failure dependence. In the case of cars, a big reason for not starting is cold weather. So your 2 or 3 or 10 unreliable cars could not start on a cold day.

Solar has that problem too, on various aggregation scales - at night all the panels "fail", during cloudy conditions all the panels "fail". In the winter all the panels "fail". On a calm winter night all solar panels and all wind turbines "fail" Etc. Its a big problem that conventional plants don't have - they can be readily designed to be operable on the coldest day of the year, or even the coldest day in the century (just costs a little more). With solar that isn't an option - the problem isn't with the technology, its the sun itself. I haven't heard a good argument about how we are going to deal with the sun (space solar power is an argument, just not a good one).


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PostPosted: May 01, 2016 8:39 am 
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KitemanSA wrote:
I've read that one little investigated problem with solar power is what to do with all those toxic panals when they are worn out.


One more for the landfill!


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PostPosted: May 01, 2016 10:40 am 
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Cyril R wrote:
KitemanSA wrote:
I've read that one little investigated problem with solar power is what to do with all those toxic panals when they are worn out.


One more for the landfill!
And they bitch about nuclear being toxic!

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