Making Solar Competitive

Pioneer still in the field

Bill Opalka | Jun 26, 2011

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Grid parity within a decade. Solar power possibly available to virtually the entire world. Acceptance by both the financial community and utilities. These are more than just dreams for 35-year industry vet Dr. Charlie Gay, but a slowly emerging reality.

I recently spoke to Gay, president of the equipment manufacturer Applied Materials Solar division and a one-time head of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, about solar’s prospects and what it needs to gain wider acceptance. And according to an Applied Materials survey, the public is ready, though its knowledge of the technology’s current use is lacking.

Much discussion of late has been around the lower costs, driven in part by China, but also greater volumes worldwide.

“Certainly the cost of manufacturing modules has continued to drop consistently and predictably, which is really one of the major strengths of any manufacturing industry where the benefits of economies of scale translate directly to a progress curve that these kinds of technologies are able to follow,” he said.

Worldwide installed capacity has nearly doubled in the past two years as a result. And at current growth rates, solar will be available to 98 percent of the world’s population in a decade, Gay notes.

“This is an exciting time, when we need to encompass a lot of new stakeholders:  financing institutions, utilities and government policymakers,” he said. “Now, it’s not a technology problem, it’s a problem of how do you take something that has the potential for dramatically changing the way we get our energy, but get it ramped up to be part of the context in ways we think getting our electricity.”

Globally, solar has an installed capacity worldwide of from 36 to 40 gigawatts, which represents a fraction of 1 percent of all generating capacity.

There’s confidence in the technology on the part of the American public, perhaps too much. That’s not a reflection on solar, but rather a mistaken belief that solar power provides much more energy than it actually does.

Applied Materials just released the results of its third annual Summer Solstice survey.

When asked about renewable power sources—including solar, hydroelectric, wind, geothermal and biomass — the survey found 32 percent of Americans believed solar energy is the most efficient renewable energy source, that is, the most easily converted from a raw material into useable energy.  One-fifth (21%) of Americans believe the U.S. is the solar energy leader, when in fact Germany, Spain, Japan and Italy use more solar power than the U.S and China is by far the global leader in solar manufacturing.

Today, less than one percent of U.S. energy consumption is sourced from solar energy. More Americans understand that solar energy makes up a small portion of the U.S. energy use mix (one-fifth in 2009 compared to one-third in 2011 believe solar energy provides anywhere from zero to five percent of U.S. energy consumption). Still, 51 percent of Americans incorrectly believe that solar energy makes up more than 5 percent of total U.S. energy consumption.

And that’s a perception that needs to be corrected for solar policies to align with its potential, it says here.

The editorial staff at RenewablesBiz.com is passionate about exchanging ideas and dedicated to promoting ongoing conversation about renewables and sustainable energy issues. We invite you to join and contribute to our online community. If you have an idea for an article or editorial contribution, please contact me via email, bopalka@energycentral.com, or phone, 860.633.0090.

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Comments

Motion for Leave to Intervene in Case No. 11-00123-UT

http://www.prosefights.org/pnmrate/pnmrate.htm#motion3
William H Payne, author of Alternate Report, Electric Integrated Resource Plan for the Period 2008-2027 and David B. McCoy, Executive Director, Citizen Action New Mexico in compliance with NMAC 1.2.2.23A hereby request to intervene.

1.2.2.23 INTERVENORS AND COMMENTERS: A. Intervention: Any person other than staff and the original parties to a proceeding who desires to become a party to the proceeding may move in writing for leave to intervene in the proceeding.

(1) The motion for leave to intervene shall indicate the nature of the movant’s interest in the proceeding.


(2) The motion shall also comply with the provisions of this rule governing pleadings except that the motion shall indicate the facts relied upon as grounds for intervention.


(3) Motions for leave to intervene shall be served on all existing parties and other proposed intervenors of record.

state:

1 Movants' interest is to bring to attention to PRC and PNM rate payers that the rate increase proposed by PNM is not justifiable based on a flawed analsys of energy generation and cost from large-scale solar generation of electricity that are not in accordance with New Mexico renewable energy mandates.

2 Fact 1 relies upon is misleading statement in paragraph 5 of NOTICE OF PROCEEDING AND HEARING

PNM states that its 2008 IRP showed that energy efficiency reduced the need for future generation plant additions and that the costs for capacity and energy that can be avoided through energy efficiency and demand management programs could result in a $390 Million net present value savings over the 20-year planning period.



PNM load forecaster Mr Steve Martin identified sources of demand for electricity on August 21, 2007, PNM Alvarado Square, Albuquerque, New Mexico


Mr Martin's foils were not included in the about 1 7/8 pound official report.

Perhaps curtailing sources of electricity demand identified by Mr Martin should be addressed as perhaps more important than energy efficiency?

Abstract explains reason for Alternate Report: Electric Integrated Resource Plan for the Period 2008-2027

Official Electric Integrated Resource Plan [IRP] for the Period 2008-2027 appears to be a product of a verbal faction of attendees of the about 17 sessions. Omission of what others consider important foils from Official report and elimination of which, we feel, are unessential foils in about 229 page report is an obligation to others to write an alternate report. Failure of the Official report to forecast available source of heat [BTUs] which is to be converted to electricity and to address the sources of increased demand, and to make practical arguments for feasibility of natural gas and alternate energy sources renders the Official Report about unusable.


2 Fact 2



asserts that Heat Rate does not apply to CSP or Photovoltaic generation of electricity. And wind too.

PNM Director, Advanced Generation Development, Mr Greg Nelson and engineer Frank Currie both state in writing that Heat Rate only applies to electricity generation from combustible sources.

Mr Jake Rudisill, Vice President, Operation and Project Management of Meridian Energy USA emailed

From: "Jake Rudisill" j.rudisill@meridianenergyusa.com To: bpayne37@comcast.net
Sent: Tuesday, May 10, 2011 4:37:20 PM
Subject: Heat Rate misconception

Mr. Payne,

The definition of heat rate is not the heat content of just the fossil fuel inputting the conversion system—it is the conversion efficiency of the system with whatever is the heat input. ...



We have been in the process, so far unsuccessful, of trying to determine who is right.

Some engineers and scientist will promote technologies for business reasons when the know, or should know, that proposed technology violates physical laws.

Question 5. Does the invention defy the Laws of Thermodynamics? in Nine Critical Questions to Ask About Alternative Energy should be answered for large-scale solar generation of electricity.

Resolution of the heat rate issue is important from the standpoint of justification of whether large-scale solar generation of electricity works or not.

Schott solar may have problems in the sense that more electricity is required to build its solar panels than power produced by the solar panel.

Question1. How Much Energy is Returned for the Energy Invested (EROEI)? in Nine Critical Questions to Ask About Alternative Energy may not be satisfied.

Pehaps Schott solar should be required to erect its solar panels to produce the electricity required to power its Mesa del Sola solar panel production facility?







 

No response received from Schott Solar.


Increases in US Natural gas and coal exports appear to suggest that there is currently no electric energy generation problem in the US.

Thursday June 23, 2011 07:52

Scott Barker
America's Power Army

http://www.prosefights.org/pnmrate/pnmrate.htm#barker


Hello Mr Barker,

Port of St. Helens a potential candidate for a terminal to export coal to Asia and U.S. Coal Exports prompts us to ask America's Power Amy for its official position on exporting coal BTUs.

We visited the proposed Longview coal export site on Tuesday June 21, 2011.

Reason we ask is that New Mexico aspires to be the solar generation of electricity center of the US.

Electric rate payers may possibly be asked to subsidize wind and solar generation of electricity as evidence by a PNM request for rate increase.

New Mexicans are being led to believe that that there is an energy crisis which must be met by switch to altenergy mandated by New Mexico renewable energy laws.

EIA coal export data leads us to question whether there is an electric power crisis or not in the US.

So this is why we ask America's Power Amy help with our intervention motion.

May 24, 2011 is deadline for filing our motion.

Please ack if you receive this email.

Thanks in advance.

bill


Perhaps we are victims of an altenergy liberal arts 'educated' mainstream media business promotion blitz?

3 Fact 3 Liberal arts 'educated' conjectures.

From: “Jason Marks, PRC” Jason.Marks@state.nm.us
To: bpayne37@comcast.net, “David King, PRC” David.King@state.nm.us, “Jerome D Block, PRC” JeromeD.Block@state.nm.us>, Becenti@state.nm.us, “Sandy Jones, PRC” Sandy.Jones@state.nm.us
Cc: dave@radfreenm.org, nmusa@rt66.com, mhartranft@abqjournal.com, “Staci Matlock” smatlock@sfnewmexican.com>, amorales58@comcast.net
Sent: Monday, September 13, 2010 9:12:09 AM
Subject: Re: Large-scale solar generation of electricity fraud in New mexico?

Mr Payne:


I don’t understand your concerns. There are two basic solar electric technologies: photovoltaic panels (PV) and thermal concentrating solar power (CSP). The development and deployment in NM is focused on PV. Hundreds of homeowners with installed PV systems can tell you that their systems produce electricity in line with specifications, as proved by meters.


You (either an individual or a utility) buy a solar system for a certain price, you install it, and it generates electricity for 20 or 30 years or so, with minimal operating and maintenance costs. There are no fuel requirements (and thus no “heat rate”). When you spread the upfront costs over the system’s lifetime electric production and adjust for tax credits and REC incentives, you arrive at the cost per kwh. You get to decide if you think that cost per kwh is reasonable before you make the investment. There is no fraud.


Jason Marks

4 Fact 4 Alexander Braun points out in the April 2010 issue of SEMICONDUCTOR International

Since 2002, photovoltaic production has doubled roughly every two years, increasing at a yearly average of 48%, making it the fastest growing energy technology. By 2008, PV installations worldwide had surpassed 15 GW and the end is not in sight. However, as Obi-Wan might paradoxically put it, "There is a Dark Side to sun power.

Eventually, existing installations will reach the end of their useful lifetimes, requiring replacement. One of the seeming contradictions of producing the means to generate clean renewable energy is that you must manufacture them using stuff that can be pretty deadly to the environment such as ammonia, arsine, cadmium sulfate and diborane. And when you discard these installations, effluvia such as arsenic are released during solar cell decomposition, and then there is all that chromium in screws and frames.


and

But there is more to PV manufacturing than just recycling. According to the SVTC's white paper, "Toward a Just and Sustainable Solar Energy Industry, although the solar PV boom is still in its infancy, what it describes as "disturbing global trends" are emerging. It goes on to say that a considerable amount of the polysilicon feedstock material - the refined silicon used as crystalline silicon solar cells' basic material - is produced in countries like China, "where manufacturing costs and environmental regulatory enforcement are low." It also quotes a March 2008 Washington Post report that at least one plant in China's Henan Province regularly dumps silicon tetrachloride, a toxic waste product of polysilicon manufacturing, on nearby farmland. The Post quoted Li Xiaoping, deputy director of the Shanghai Academy of Environmental Sciences: "Crops cannot grow on this, and it is not suitable for people to live nearby."



PNM has not provided a cost analysis of the efficiency of the provision of solar based generation of electricity in comparison with the available alternatives on any scientifically recognizable basis and environmental concerns.

The above facts support the conclusion that the evidence for the rate increase is incomplete, incorrect and has not
considered actual efficiencies and production costs related to existing alternatives.

PNM request for rate increase should be denied.

Submitted June 24, 2011 by mail and email.



________________________________________
William H Payne



________________________________________
David B McCoy

Will Solar be competitive in the near Future?

I am not that optimistic like you Bill Opalka. Though a lot of talk on CSP,PV is in the air, in reality Solar is yet to make a mark in developing countries. On the other hand Wind is catching up with large Wind Turbines especially for offshore.

One should be realistic in admitting at besr Renewables can only supplement the conventional ones but can never replace them.

In India One lakh megawatt (100,000) power capacity addition in the 12th Five-Year Plan is a must for the country to sustain 9 percent GDP growth, said economist and Prime Minister's Economic Advisory Council Chairman C Rangarajan the other day .

Of country’s total installed capacity of 147,000MW, only around 85,000MW is operational at any given point of time.

India currently has 20,000 MW of renewable energy capacity, constituting more than 11% of the country’s total power generation capacity.

Dr.A.Jagadeesh  Nellore (AP),India

Wind Energy Expert

E-mail: anumakonda.jagadeesh@gmail.com

 


Will Solar be competitive in the near Future?

I am not that optimistic like you Bill Opalka. Though a lot of talk on CSP,PV is in the air, in reality Solar is yet to make a mark in developing countries. On the other hand Wind is catching up with large Wind Turbines especially for offshore.

One should be realistic in admitting at besr Renewables can only supplement the conventional ones but can never replace them.

In India One lakh megawatt (100,000) power capacity addition in the 12th Five-Year Plan is a must for the country to sustain 9 percent GDP growth, said economist and Prime Minister's Economic Advisory Council Chairman C Rangarajan the other day .

Of country’s total installed capacity of 147,000MW, only around 85,000MW is operational at any given point of time.

India currently has 20,000 MW of renewable energy capacity, constituting more than 11% of the country’s total power generation capacity.

Dr.A.Jagadeesh  Nellore (AP),India

Wind Energy Expert

E-mail: anumakonda.jagadeesh@gmail.com