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posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday April 19 2017, @07:11PM   Printer-friendly

Meanwhile, a report from Scottish Renewables suggests that onshore wind farms could compete subsidy-free in the UK, as long as they were allowed to take part in the country's competitive auction process. (Known as contracts for difference, or CfD, the competitive auction process does not currently include onshore wind.)

Finally, while the loss of incentives and tax credits might have less impact than it once did—thanks to ongoing cost reduction and technological improvement—we are right to be concerned that political obstructionists can still do a lot of damage to the future of renewables. (The exclusion of wind from the aforementioned CfD process in the UK is one example.) But here too, there are signs of progress—because oil giant Shell is lobbying for the Dutch government to quadruple its offshore wind target for 2030 to an installed capacity of a whopping 20 gigawatts (GW). As Shell joins the likes of Statoil—which recently quit tar sands in favor of offshore wind—the shift of political and lobbying power starts to shift.

More signs that the pivot point in the energy economy is upon us.


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  • (Score: 2, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 19 2017, @07:33PM (14 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 19 2017, @07:33PM (#496503)

    If energy can be stored effectively, then all of the problems with "renewable" energy go away.

    The one amazing feature of fossil fuels is that they are an amazing store of energy—one that can be transmitted and handled with relative ease.

    • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Wednesday April 19 2017, @08:05PM (7 children)

      by DannyB (5839) on Wednesday April 19 2017, @08:05PM (#496518)

      If energy can be stored effectively AT LARGE SCALE, then many problems of renewable energy go away.

      But what if you have a prolonged period of no sunlight reaching the Earth surface? Say twenty years or so?

      This would greatly diminish the effectiveness of solar power. It seems likely to have an effect upon wind power as well.

      So you need storage both at large scale and ability to store so much that you can tap into it over a long time until nuclear winter is over.

      Of course, coal would be a solution. And would put the coal miners back to work. Just sayin'

      • (Score: 5, Touché) by Scruffy Beard 2 on Wednesday April 19 2017, @08:10PM (6 children)

        by Scruffy Beard 2 (6030) on Wednesday April 19 2017, @08:10PM (#496521)

        I think if the sun stopped working for 20 years, ineffective solar power would be the least of our problems.

        • (Score: 2) by VLM on Wednesday April 19 2017, @08:26PM (4 children)

          by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday April 19 2017, @08:26PM (#496528)

          Probably talking about cloudy days.

          A lot of people don't realize that cloudy days are still very bright, sure noon sunlight is who knows like 6 times the watts/sq-whatever but its hardly zero.

          Then consider the cost of a watt on the roof drops somewhere between 5 and 10 percent a year.

          now combine them and insert a lot of MBA hand waving and the "true cost" of a cloudy day is brand new 2017 panels on my roof would perform at the same output at an equal amount of dollars of panels installed in 2009 or something like that. So $10K of solar panels installed today on a cloudy day will make as many KWH despite the clouds as $10K of panels installed in '09 at noon on a sunny day. Crazy times.

          I find it fascinating that a "really large array" like an entire residential roof supposedly pumps out enough watts from the full moon to easily electrocute a dumb experimenter. You can't just wait till the sun sets and start Fing around with replacing inverters and rewiring stuff because moonlight is supposedly powerful enough using cheap modern panels to kill. I find that interesting not just in some macabre sense but in that I only need 5 watts to run a rasp-pi so the idea of running a pi off moonlight is kinda cool. I suppose during the new moon I'd be screwed and during full moon, in addition to fighting off werewolves, I'd have too much power to run just the pi, I guess I could charge batteries...

          • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Wednesday April 19 2017, @09:27PM

            by Immerman (3985) on Wednesday April 19 2017, @09:27PM (#496563)

            Since the sun is about 400,000 times brighter than the full moon, a large 1kW (in noon sun) solar panel will produce only around 2.5mW by the light of the full moon. So you'd need 2000 such panels to generate 5W of power from moonlight. And at 1kW we're probably talking about a single panel being roughly 3m^2 - so we'd be talking 6000m^2 of panels, or a square roughly 77m across.

            It might still be true that you can electrocute yourself working on a solar array at night, but that would have more to do with the fact that, with some bad luck, it takes only micro-amps to stop the heart. As well as the fact that (as I understand it) the control electronics for quality solar panels will automatically "correct" their output so that large numbers of panels can be combined without limiting their productivity to that of the least-productive panel. Or even more likely, once you start messing around with inverters, etc. you're likely dealing with battery-backed (or grid tied) electronics that will mostly be receiving full power regardless of what the solar panels are currently (not) generating.

          • (Score: 2) by Scruffy Beard 2 on Wednesday April 19 2017, @09:33PM (2 children)

            by Scruffy Beard 2 (6030) on Wednesday April 19 2017, @09:33PM (#496565)

            I call bull-shit on moonlight killing somebody. Though 20mA at 400V is only 8W.

            Electricity From Moonlight (Cody's Lab -- 5:01) [youtube.com]

            Can moon light produce electricity from solar panels at night? Can moon light generate the electron-hole pair in a solar cell? [quora.com]

            Moonlight can be used to power PV cells at cost of 345:1. That is, a panel that would normally produce 3450 W at high noon would produce only 10 W of power during the full moon. The quarter moon (50% illumination) would likewise produce only 5 W, and so forth.

            So like the story of the guy killing himself with a multimeter (measuring internal resistance), it is in the realm of physical possibility, but you would have to work at it.

            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 20 2017, @06:09AM

              by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 20 2017, @06:09AM (#496715)

              > I call bull-shit on moonlight killing somebody.

              Look who you are replying too.
              The guy's entire world is bullshit.
              I'm VLM probably thinks he himself died from moonlight electrocution.

            • (Score: 3, Interesting) by VLM on Sunday April 23, @01:13PM

              by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Sunday April 23, @01:13PM (#498310)

              Here's experimental results from your link of enough current to stop a heart (A LED is enough current to stop a heart, under perfectly non-ideal conditions)

              Phil Hirsch
              Written Apr 25, 2016

              I have tried it, and the answer is yes. Not much electricity to be sure, but a solar panel that's rated at 50 watts produced enough current to light up a red LED. I didn't measure the current and I don't know how many LED's I could have connected -- I only tried with a single LED, just to see if there was any current at all -- but the answer is definitely yes.

              That dude used a 50 watt panel, I'm talking about doing maintenance on arrays of, say, 4x5=20 100 watt panels, so 2 KW vs 50 watts.

              I suspect an interesting contaminant is urban skyglow, perhaps streetlamps.

        • (Score: 2) by NewNic on Wednesday April 19 2017, @08:32PM

          by NewNic (6420) on Wednesday April 19 2017, @08:32PM (#496530)

          You mean like weather in the UK? Have you seen the number of solar panels on roofs in the UK?

    • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Wednesday April 19 2017, @08:08PM (4 children)

      by DannyB (5839) on Wednesday April 19 2017, @08:08PM (#496520)

      As for storage of energy at small scale to be transmitted and handled with ease, it seems to me that electric car battery tech is improving continuously.

      At some point eliminate most fossil fuel use with electric vehicles once there is a sufficiently developed charging infrastructure. Sort of like having fossil fuel stations on every street corner.

      • (Score: 4, Interesting) by VLM on Wednesday April 19 2017, @08:34PM (3 children)

        by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday April 19 2017, @08:34PM (#496531)

        I was into sailing when I was younger and the concept of solar panel powering a boat trolling motor is tantalizingly close to working but not quite there technologically.

        Just like another doubling of power density and I could run an electric cruising boat across the ocean.

        Its not entirely trivial because seawater destroys everything metallic and everything electronic so the odds of getting my dumb ass stranded in the middle of the pacific are excellent, and there are center of gravity issues with heavy panels, etc.

        But... just a little more work on efficiency and I could build an electric cruising boat that operates by solar panels not sailcloth and wind.

        In practice I'd end up doing both. At night I could get maybe 6 knots off the sails, on a windless sunny day I could get maybe 6 knots, on a windy sunny day who knows at least 7 knots maybe 8.

        There are a lot of sailboats with 100 watts of solar panels because the panels output more power and require less weight and maintenance than a generator, but they're using their panel to run the radar or AIS transmitter or the skipper is watching pr0n or its running the lights at night, its not for main engine drive which takes a couple HP.

        • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Wednesday April 19 2017, @09:43PM (1 child)

          by bob_super (1357) on Wednesday April 19 2017, @09:43PM (#496570)

          Do you have LOTS of cash?
          If yes, the market already has anwsers: http://www.solarwave-yachts.com/english/yachts/solarwave-64-sailor/ [solarwave-yachts.com]

          • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 19 2017, @11:27PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 19 2017, @11:27PM (#496605)

            The-market already-has answers, I-think-you-must-mean.

        • (Score: 2) by tibman on Wednesday April 19 2017, @09:50PM

          by tibman (134) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday April 19 2017, @09:50PM (#496573)

          There are a lot of sailboats with 100 watts of solar panels because the panels output more power and require less weight and maintenance than a generator

          Seen similar things with RVs. It's a really cool conversion. Makes me want a solar powered shed or something.

          --
          SN won't survive on lurkers alone. Write comments.
    • (Score: 2) by kaszz on Thursday April 20 2017, @04:30AM

      by kaszz (4211) on Thursday April 20 2017, @04:30AM (#496688) Journal

      I concur with the statement that storage or at least smoothing power differences over time is the key to really make use of wind and solar. In the meanwhile such power sources will make the power grid unstable and in some cases require shunting the power to a plain heater.

      There's wave power at sea to be had to.

  • (Score: 2, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 19 2017, @09:56PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 19 2017, @09:56PM (#496576)

    Trump orders Battle Group to Scotland to defend (An) American('s) Interests in Sea Views From Golf Courses.

  • (Score: 0, Disagree) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 20 2017, @12:16AM (3 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 20 2017, @12:16AM (#496612)

    great! there were too many birds anyways. super inefficient and polluting wind power to the rescue!

    • (Score: 2, Interesting) by leftover on Thursday April 20 2017, @12:22AM (1 child)

      by leftover (2448) on Thursday April 20 2017, @12:22AM (#496613)

      There are many low-flying birds close to shorelines but not so many
      as you get into open ocean. Migrating birds fly at altitudes far above
      the windmills.

      So, in truth and effect, this argument is for the birds.

      --
      Bent, folded, spindled, and mutilated.
      • (Score: 4, Informative) by frojack on Thursday April 20 2017, @02:20AM

        by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Thursday April 20 2017, @02:20AM (#496662) Journal

        I've dirtbiked under windmill farms in my friends pastures in California. (He makes more money from the windmills than the cattle.) The bird deaths are a myth. In a full day looking around we didn't find one dead bird. Did find one dead calf that attracted quite a few buzzards.

           

        --
        No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by GreatAuntAnesthesia on Thursday April 20 2017, @09:46AM

      by GreatAuntAnesthesia (3275) on Thursday April 20 2017, @09:46AM (#496769) Journal

      great! there were too many birds anyways.

      Wow, I thought that old lie was thoroughly debunked years ago. OK, here we go again:

      Yes, some older wind farms caused some bird deaths. However, those events have been exhaustively studied, and the lessons learned are now routinely applied. Any wind farm built in the last 20 years uses better planning (ie avoiding migration paths and feeding areas) and better technology (slower-moving blades) to almost completely mitigate bird deaths.

      Furthermore, even in their worst ever year, the number of bird deaths caused by wind turbines were not even a rounding error compared to bird deaths caused by double glazing and domestic pets. Hell, even fossil fuels and nuclear were more dangerous to birds. If you really give a shit about birds (as opposed to disingenuously making your factually-incorrect objections based on some kind of fossil-fuel lobby agenda, for example) then go brick up your windows and kill a cat. Perhaps then you will take the time to spend 3 minutes checking online before regurgitating outdated and untruthful right-wing talking points.

      First hit on google for "bird deaths from wind power statistics": https://www.carbonbrief.org/bird-death-and-wind-turbines-a-look-at-the-evidence [carbonbrief.org]

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by frojack on Thursday April 20 2017, @02:16AM (1 child)

    by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Thursday April 20 2017, @02:16AM (#496661) Journal

    Ok, other than the corporate welfare aspects of government subsidies in general, I really don't see the problem with tax breaks (that's really what we are talking about here) for solar installations, regardless of size.

    If the damage from coal power affects all of society then the benefit of wind/solar accrues to all of society by the same amount. The more of these put into operation the more everybody benefits. Even if you don't use that power.

    I can't think of much that the government would do with the tax revenue they didn't get which would benefit everyone as immediately (to say nothing of long term). So I have no problem of incentives to get people to invest heavily in any of these technologies.

    Now if we could just start building some of these new STORAGE projects that always seem 25 years away we would be in great shape.

    --
    No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
    • (Score: 2) by Azuma Hazuki on Thursday April 20 2017, @02:47AM

      by Azuma Hazuki (5086) on Thursday April 20 2017, @02:47AM (#496669)

      This seems uncharacteristic of you but I'm very glad to hear it. Unfortunately, the fossil fuel industry doesn't give a damn about externalities--and yes, the costs to society you mention are "externalities" to them.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 20 2017, @07:26AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 20 2017, @07:26AM (#496732)

    We paid 25million to not have wind farms built because we need to spend several more billions to referb nuke plants that are fast breeders because reasons, which I am sure have nothing to do with the 1 trillion dollars that the US is spending to update it's no longer needed nuclear arsenal that we as and member of the nuclear weapons ban club have nothing to do with because we don't provide technical support did not do the primary design and testing of the cruise missile and are reall a non nuclear nation just ask us trudeu the second will tell you except unlike his father he will be lying

  • (Score: 2) by tomtomtom on Thursday April 20 2017, @07:46AM (1 child)

    by tomtomtom (340) on Thursday April 20 2017, @07:46AM (#496746)

    CfDs are a guaranteed price provided by the government for each unit of electricity generated - they are subsidies. Onshore wind is about to become completely unsubsidized in the UK and will not have access to the CfD regime.

    What the onshore developers are saying here is the exact opposite of the headline - that they want to be able to compete for subsidy money which is currently going to offshore wind etc and which they are currently excluded from. The "no new subsidies" bit is them saying "don't increase the total subsidy pot, just give us a share of it and reduce the amount you give to someone more expensive".

    • (Score: 1) by purple_cobra on Thursday April 20 2017, @02:15PM

      by purple_cobra (1435) on Thursday April 20 2017, @02:15PM (#496862)

      Lovely term, isn't it? I can just picture the faces of the people around the table when that was floated in front of them: "Come on gentleman, let me see your O face for this!".

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