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The new prominent solar panels were built on unused land surrounding the Fresno-Yosemite International airport. They came online last month, with a capacity of 2 MW.  (Source: ABC)

With 7 football fields worth of solar power capacity, FYI is finding itself gaining national attention as the "greenest" airport. Many airports are considering in adopting similar measures.  (Source: ABC)
New airport uses solar to turn idle land productive

Consumer solar installation is booming.  With many homeowners eager to take advantage of lower prices thanks to smarter production and installation, as well as tax breaks offered to ease installation costs, the home installation business is seeing rapid growth.  This trend is especially apparent in California.  With San Francisco's new solar initiatives, the city is expected to experience a strong influx of solar growth.

However, California's solar gains aren't limited merely to the consumer sector.  Private businesses are also flocking to solar power.  Among these new adopters is Fresno-Yosemite International (FYI).  The airport, which served 1.38 million passengers last year, is situated on 2,150 acres and mostly deals in private air traffic. 

The airport had a problem.  A large amount of the land around it was sitting idle and undeveloped while the airport was struggling to deal with soaring energy costs.  Meanwhile, the airport was launching a trial program to deploy solar panels on the roof of an expansion building which was to house rental car services.

Suddenly the idea clicked -- solar power could fuel the airport's power needs.  Not stopping with the rooftops, FYI expanded its solar offerings, placing panels over the equivalent of seven football fields worth of undeveloped land.  Now, with its construction complete for the time being, finishing last month, FYI has found itself in a new position -- green leader.

Becoming the leading green airport was surprisingly common sense, according to local government officials.  Alan Autry, Fresno Mayor states, "So you take land that's basically idle and useless and turning it into 11-million dollars worth of taxpayer's savings, that's a good day for Fresno."

The transformation yielded a 2 MW solar facility which was finally put to use last month.  Now it powers the airport's lighting and the communications tower.  While modest compared to some dedicated solar plants, the FYI's installation is a perfect example of a business putting solar to use.  Says Russ Widmar, FYI Aviation Director, "This will for us produce about 40-percent of our annual electrical requirement.  Just on the air quality side, 170,000 barrels of fossil fuel a year that we will not use."

The city, which encouraged the effort, donated 20 unused acres to the cause, but did not pay any money to help set up the project, feeling that existing tax subsidies provided enough support.  Without handouts the airport was able to set up clever business deals to make the project financially viable.

Frank Smith, Worldwater and Solar CEO, the company handling the installation explains, "We were paid, Worldwater and Solar Technologies, 16-million dollars but we weren't paid by the airport. We were paid by a third party financial firm. They will then sell the power to the airport at a fixed rate for the next 20 years."

During the twenty years fossil fuel costs will likely continue to rise, but the cost of the solar power won't.  Further, the project efforts were buoyed by generous support from corporate partner Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), who donated $5.5M USD in rebates to the project to help promote an environmentally friendly image.

Greg Pruett, PG&E Corporate Relations VP, states, "It is really a pioneering, cutting-edge project. It puts really Fresno out in front of most other municipalities in being leading in embracing renewables."

The Mayor Autry also adds that the plant is not just a matter of promoting green efforts, but also a matter of national security.  Says Mr. Autry, "All of these so-called little bits that people are doing around the country are gonna add up to a whole lot in terms of our dependence on foreign oil."

Thanks to the success of the program, many airports around the country with spare land are looking to adopt similar installations.  Worldwater and Solar is currently working on a smaller similar project with Denver's airport, inspired by the success.



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Economics don't make sense
By masher2 (blog) on 7/21/2008 10:03:10 AM , Rating: 3
While this story has appeared in thousands of drooling forms on various websites, tracking down actual details of the financial arrangements was more difficult.

Apparently the site will generate some $13M in electricity over its lifespan, assuming electricity costs rise as anticipated. Even though the land was free, the total project cost will be at least $30M ($20M construction costs + $10M M&O over 20 years). So its still a horribly losing proposition, which only appears to make good sense due to the massive subsidies the project is receiving from various sources...subsidies we the taxpayers are ultimately paying.




RE: Economics don't make sense
By masher2 (blog) on 7/21/2008 10:09:17 AM , Rating: 1
And of course, this statement is total bunk as well:

quote:
Just on the air quality side, 170,000 barrels of fossil fuel a year that we will not use."
Converting the 2MW output X AF x hours/year X BOE (barrel of oil equiv energy factor) works out to less than 2400 barrels. Given that only some 3/4 of our electricity comes from fossil fuels, that's actually a savings of about 1800 barrels/year.


RE: Economics don't make sense
By masher2 (blog) on 7/21/2008 10:14:25 AM , Rating: 1
More Bunk:
quote:
Says Mr. Autry, "All of these so-called little bits that people are doing around the country are gonna add up to a whole lot in terms of our dependence on foreign oil."
Given 1.2% of our electricity comes from oil, and only 2/3 of that is foreign, this vastly expensive project will save us a grand total of 50 barrels/year.

50 barrels! Are such "hallelulahs" in order for that figure?

(btw for accuracy, my earlier post should have included the mean efficiency of fossil fuel power plants as a factor. The 1800 figure should be closer to 4500).


RE: Economics don't make sense
By 67STANG on 7/21/08, Rating: 0
RE: Economics don't make sense
By phxfreddy on 7/21/2008 12:59:51 PM , Rating: 2
Nuclear is a great idea! The total installed windpower base = 4 nuclear plants. Solar electricity ...fugitaboutit. Until you can spray paint on titanium nanotubes on to an metal foil base and the spray can of aforesaid nanotubes costs 50 bucks solar electricity will be an insignificant percentage.

I know its hard for you non-engineers to understand these difficult number thingys but what they say is this:

When you divert yourself with ineffective alternatives you are avoiding solving the problem. You are the terminally afflicted deficit disordered.

What your goal should be is to turn alternative energies into mainstream ones. To do that you make the economical.

Getting your airport decorated and otherwise feng-sui'd with solar cells are a distraction.


RE: Economics don't make sense
By 67STANG on 7/21/2008 1:34:18 PM , Rating: 1
It's not a distraction, it's an alternative-- and due to cost and current laws and roadblocks-- a better one than Nuclear.

Although I agree that PV arrays aren't very efficient compared to how much land they take up, there are some impressive developments that could make them viable in the very near future. There are panels that are claiming a 70% conv. eff. instead of the current 17%. What that means is you could make the same amount of power, with 4x less land.


RE: Economics don't make sense
By masher2 (blog) on 7/21/2008 11:03:02 PM , Rating: 2
> "and due to cost and current laws and roadblocks-- a better one than Nuclear."

To make solar power a practical alternative requires quantum advances in two or three different areas of science.

To make nuclear power practical requires the stroke of a pen, to authorize the building of new plants.

The difference between these two situations should be obvious to anyone.


RE: Economics don't make sense
By Solandri on 7/22/2008 4:45:25 AM , Rating: 2
Here's a list of electricity production costs for various energy sources. It's a Swedish company that's the third-largest energy producer in Europe. Care to guess which is cheapest in the absence of the artificial legislative and legal barriers we have in the U.S.?

http://www.vattenfall.com/annual-reports/vf_com/20...


RE: Economics don't make sense
By masher2 (blog) on 7/22/2008 9:59:35 AM , Rating: 2
Thanks for the source; the figures are very closely in line with what I've seen for US utilities. Nuclear power weighs in at just over 4c/kW-h. Wind power is just over twice as expensive.

Solar - which isn't generated by that utility -- comes in much more expensive still. And wind and solar both, when combined with energy storage to allow them to fill any sort of continual role, become *vastly* more expensive. Stored solar electric generation can run more than 60 cents/kW-h...truly a staggering cost.


RE: Economics don't make sense
By phxfreddy on 7/22/2008 11:57:24 PM , Rating: 2
Obviously non-engineers who look at number thingys and giggle. You should look to more obvious solutions like putting a windmill on your electric car. Obviously it should work as its awfully windy when you drive.


RE: Economics don't make sense
By Screwballl on 7/22/2008 2:55:05 PM , Rating: 2
yes thats a great idea... put a nuclear power reactor within any distance from a location that planes has the possibility to crash... so now not only are the 100-200 people dead from the plane crash... the nuclear reactor is spewing radioactive waste into the atmosphere killing many many more...

Great idea!!


RE: Economics don't make sense
By phxfreddy on 7/22/2008 11:54:56 PM , Rating: 2
Then put all liberals nearby before crash for retroactive abortions. Then we can kill several problems with one single little stone.


RE: Economics don't make sense
By 16nm on 7/21/2008 4:02:25 PM , Rating: 2
green energy = warm, fuzzy, giggly feelings (and tax incentives)

nuclear = washington bureaucracy

Now is it so hard to understand why everyone is hot on green and cold on nuclear? Nuclear is not an option we have today, at least not practically.


RE: Economics don't make sense
By 67STANG on 7/21/2008 6:44:01 PM , Rating: 2
Funny... I get rated down every time I point this out...


RE: Economics don't make sense
By Solandri on 7/21/2008 11:00:28 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
green energy = warm, fuzzy, giggly feelings (and tax incentives)

Our economy runs on energy. Expecting to generate economic output by pumping economic-generated tax revenues into alternative energy incentives is the fiscal equivalent of a perpetual motion machine.

Incentives for the sake of offsetting the high initial purchase cost makes sense. But you cannot include those incentives in any long-term cost viability analysis - the incentives are money you paid via taxes, so ultimately they are not "free". They are a net zero sum at best.
quote:
Now is it so hard to understand why everyone is hot on green and cold on nuclear? Nuclear is not an option we have today, at least not practically.

Nuclear isn't a practical option because we've chosen to make it an impractical option. Using that impracticality as an argument against it is like an out-of-shape person saying it's impractical for him to exercise because he's out of shape. It's nonsensical, circular reasoning. The answer is obvious - get into shape / fix the laws making nuclear unnecessarily impractical.

None of the pro-nuclear people I've met are against green alternative energy. They're just for whatever energy makes the most fiscal sense. Nuclear works. The vast majority of green technologies do not at present (hydro and geothermal being the major exceptions). In the interests of a long-term cleaner world, I am all for economic subsidies and incentives for research into green energy to eventually make it work. But forcing us into it here and now will bankrupt the country and relegate us to the economic third world. If we're to break our fossil fuel addiction here and now, we need a viable cost-effective alternative which works here and now in the quantities necessary to replace coal/oil. And right now nuclear is the only solution that works in that equation.


RE: Economics don't make sense
By phxfreddy on 7/22/2008 11:59:46 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe for now. But as the pain is going up due to dollar collapse ( which is due to importing oil ) .....peoples opinions of nuclear and coastal drilling are moving VERY VERY fast. Believe me law of large numbers applies here. You will comply. We just have to find your pain threshold. And that we can do. We just twist harder until you yell.


RE: Economics don't make sense
By JasonMick (blog) on 7/21/2008 10:16:37 AM , Rating: 2
I think its kinda funny you're so opposed to solar. As you said yourself, the cost of initial adoption is certainly, high but it becomes affordable in the long run. To give your examples:

quote:
You're right.

Those $6,000 personal computers didn't eventually trickle down into $500 PCs anyone could afford.

Those $5,000 car phones didn't eventually trickle down into cell phones given away free with an account.

Those $75,000 custom-installed big screen TVs didn't trickle down into $1500 units sold in department stores.

Those $5,000 fax machines and laser printers didn't trickle down into models any home office can afford.

Those $10,000 portable GPS units didn't trickle down into $100 models people can stick on their dashboard.

You're right. Technology never trickles down.


A lot of the money is coming out the pocket of private investors on this one. And while its true solar electricity is tax subsidized on a national level and a state level in California, which some might not like, most would agree that at least they picked an ideal spot for it -- unused, undesirable land.

I think your excellent example of high costs leading to reasonable ones might apply far better than you might like. :)


RE: Economics don't make sense
By mdogs444 on 7/21/2008 10:25:07 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
-- unused, undesirable land.


Perfect, for something like...a small nuclear power center.


RE: Economics don't make sense
By masher2 (blog) on 7/21/2008 10:30:36 AM , Rating: 2
> "As you said yourself, the cost of initial adoption is certainly, high but it becomes affordable in the long run. To give your examples"

I'm surprised you even make this statement. My examples were all electronics. Lithography ensures any such technology will ultimately become dirt cheap. Do you really not see how this doesn't apply here?

Solar panels follow a different curve entirely -- their costs are not primarily R&D...they use vast amounts of expensive and hard-to-produce materials. Assuming they'll follow the same price curve is incredibly fallacious. Seen the price of airplanes drop much in the past 40 years? Despite advances in technology, their price -- even including inflation -- has actually risen a tad.

For solar to become even slightly affordable, it needs a quantum leap in design and/or manufacturing. That may happen tomorrow...or it may not happen for 200 years. Impossible to predict.

And even if solar panels were essentially free, we still couldn't solve all our energy needs with them. If you want solar to fill anything but peak demand reduction, you need another quantum leap in energy storage technology.

> "A lot of the money is coming out the pocket of private investors on this one"

A lot of money is coming from PG&E, which ultimately pulls that coin from the pockets of its consumers. They're quite willing to fund popular, but economically nonsensical projects like this. They'll ultimately fold the costs into another rate hike, which the state regulatory board will only be too happy to pass on.

> "I think its kinda funny you're so opposed to solar"

I'm opposed to all poorly-thought out boondoggles that divert us from true solutions, and ultimately weaken us as a nation. These resources would have been far better spent on an energy source that actually makes sense, or even more research on solar power.

As it is, this is just money down the drain, that wlll help our energy independence not even in the slightest.


RE: Economics don't make sense
By JasonMick (blog) on 7/21/2008 10:58:39 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
My examples were all electronics. Lithography ensures any such technology will ultimately become dirt cheap. Do you really not see how this doesn't apply here?


Huh? On a base level, surely you know that photovoltaic cells are electronics too ... they're built on silicon. A large amount of the costs of solar panels comes from the solar cells.

Perhaps you might argue, "but there's mounting, and installation components as well as mechanical (ie. tracking) components". Well your example of fax machines and laser printers is a good one of a system, which like solar has a fair deal of mechanical challenges too.

On a base level PV cells should be no more or less hard or expensive to produce than any electronics. A silicon wafer is not an airplane wing or turbine, it doesn't need near the precision of engineering.

The basic rule of economics and mass production is anytime you buy something in sufficient quantity people will find ways to dramatically reduce the cost of all aspects of the process -- production, installation, and operation.

Its pure insanity if you're arguing that solar power costs won't come down and efficiencies won't rise as its adopted on a larger scale.

Maybe you don't agree that its the best solution (I'm guessing you'd say nuclear was), but even you have to admit this.

quote:

And even if solar panels were essentially free, we still couldn't solve all our energy needs with them. If you want solar to fill anything but peak demand reduction, you need another quantum leap in energy storage technology.


So basically you're saying we should abandon solar since it only produces during the daytime?? Well obviously there IS a large amount of grid storage research and this technology is slowly but surely being adopted. Further some plants themselves are using molten salt storage to eliminate the daytime/nighttime problem straight at the source.

quote:
A lot of money is coming from PG&E, which ultimately pulls that coin from the pockets of its consumers.


So you're against a corporation making independent decisions? If you don't approve, don't buy their energy or try to get on their board or something...

quote:
ultimately weaken us as a nation


Come on Michel, solar power isn't "weakening us as a nation" if anything strong sales of solar cells to overseas entities like China are strengthening are nation. Don't make sweeping statements like that unless you have some sort of metrics to back up how solar power is the undoing of our nation as you believe.


RE: Economics don't make sense
By masher2 (blog) on 7/21/2008 11:13:02 AM , Rating: 2
> "Huh? On a base level, surely you know that photovoltaic cells are electronics too ... they're built on silicon. A large amount of the costs of solar panels comes from the solar cells."

Oh come now, Jason. Do you really not understand the difference here? PV cells are silicon, but they're not based off lithography. Moore's Law doesn't apply.

> "On a base level PV cells should be no more or less hard or expensive to produce than any electronics"

Sure. But silicon wafers aren't getting drastically cheaper per square meter. Chips get cheaper because they continually shrink, thereby consuming so much less raw materials.

Solar cells don't "shrink".

> "So basically you're saying we should abandon solar since it only produces during the daytime?? "

No. I'm saying we should waste resources on poor solutions. Solar actually *does* make sense in a few, very limited cases. If the technology improves, that will likely grow.

But diverting millions (or potentially billions) into wallpapering vast tracts of lands with hugely expensive PV cells isn't helpful. It's harmful. Worse, when enthusiastic journalists portray it as a money-saving solution, it induces others to fall into the same trap.



RE: Economics don't make sense
By JasonMick (blog) on 7/21/2008 11:36:42 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Oh come now, Jason. Do you really not understand the difference here? PV cells are silicon, but they're not based off lithography. Moore's Law doesn't apply.


Moore's law isn't merely based on gains in photolithography. There have also been great gains in controlling deposition that have dramatically reduced production costs. You're absolutely correct that photolithography has nothing to do with the solar scenario, but PV cells will come down in cost as deposition techniques and materials used are refined. This is a major source of cost savings in the computer-chip industry, and likewise it will yield cheaper solar cells.

You don't need to "shrink" solar cells, you just need to deposit the materials needed more effectively and find cheaper more effective materials.

quote:
Solar actually *does* make sense in a few, very limited cases. If the technology improves, that will likely grow.


Well at least you concede that. I guess you will likely hold steadfast in your solar adoption, so I guess we will have to agree to disagree.

...on a humorous side note, I found it amusing that my previous responses all got downrated, despite the fact that I presented logical arguments. Your supporters seem to have been busily at work, though I am sure you don't approve of such methods. I'd encourage them to follow in your example, though, and submit replies of their own, instead of hiding behind downrating. :)


RE: Economics don't make sense
By masher2 (blog) on 7/21/2008 11:49:07 AM , Rating: 1
> "Moore's law isn't merely based on gains in photolithography. "

Err, yes it is. Read Moore's original paper. Moore's Law is a simple statement of geometry, based on the lithographic nature of chip manufacturer. As feature size shrinks linearly, feature count rises quadatrically.

Do you honestly not understand that? Each time lithography moves to a new node, chips double in feature count per unit area...which means they effectively double in transistor count per unit cost.

> You don't need to "shrink" solar cells"

To get the sorts of price reductions one sees in chip manufacture, you do.


RE: Economics don't make sense
By JasonMick (blog) on 7/21/2008 12:12:02 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Moore's Law is a simple statement of geometry, based on the lithographic nature of chip manufacturer. As feature size shrinks linearly, feature count rises quadatrically.


Fair enough, but these days Moore's Law is often applied to all aspects surrounding the rapidly decreasing cost/increasing efficiency of electronics in general. I agree its a bit of a misnomer.

And in his paper, Moore does discuss improving processing techniques aiding in efficient production, mentioning:

quote:
The advocates of semiconductor integrated circuitry are engineers, schooled in the already using the improved characteristics of thin-film resistors by applying such films directly to an active semiconductor substrate. Those advocating a technology based upon films are developing sophisticated techniques for the attachment of active semiconductor devices to the passive film arrays.


However typically the cost needed for a photolithographic shrink and new materials caused cost increases. However, as you mentioned no shrink is necessary for solar and typically an emphasis is placed on cheaper materials, so deposition yields similar cost savings to computer chips. Maybe not quite as rapid as Moore's law, but still important savings.

I think we're just arguing semantics here, we both agree that solar processing and production costs will come down with time and efficiency will go up, we're just in disagreement on how fast this will happen.


RE: Economics don't make sense
By dever on 7/21/2008 2:21:41 PM , Rating: 1
Jason, you'd better stick to writing articles and not responding to reasoned arguments. I was embarrassed for you after reading this exchange.

Your article was a complete puff piece without any useful information. A project like this quite clearly takes money from the poorest in society by taxing them directly and indirectly through increased energy costs and gives that money to benefit a privileged few. This includes solar industry sucking the teat of government handouts, but also corporate flyers. And, of course, it serves to feed the egos and careers of politicians and administrators who thought up this idiocy.

If you're in favor of the re-distribution of wealth, perhaps you could pick a cause that actual redistributes in the other direction, from the rich to the poor. But... this is nearly impossible when government is involved... thus private charity.


RE: Economics don't make sense
By Hare on 7/21/2008 3:18:28 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
without any useful information.

I personally found it interesting. I may not agree with everything Jason or Masher write but I definately find their articles interesting and while reading I constantly learn new things.

Keep up the good work, both Michael and Jason.


RE: Economics don't make sense
By Bruneauinfo on 7/21/2008 4:24:22 PM , Rating: 2
good job bashing the author and then using an abstraction as your reason. it's especially easy to do we're not required to provide empirical data with our statements. and it's acceptable when there is a good number of paranoid in the readership.


RE: Economics don't make sense
By dever on 7/21/2008 5:54:44 PM , Rating: 2
I'll be more specific. I'm referring to the fact that Jason consistent leaves out the metrics and costs that support his hype. That, specifically, is what I meant by not "useful."

In this case, giving a run down of the total costs vs. those of alternative sources of energy (solar, nuclear, coal, etc.) would have quickly put a damper on his entire premise.

If I want to see whether the object of his article is on the net good or bad, I invariably have to find additional sources and search it out for myself.

In this case, it might very well have to do with the fact that the numbers don't support his conclusion. An author could have more easily concluded that because it is, by far, not the most efficient (costs/output) energy source, the net outcome of this particular project is bad for: the environment; consumers; and the economy.

Paranoia is for celebrities. Skepticism is healthy... it's what separates us from celebrities.


RE: Economics don't make sense
By Solandri on 7/21/2008 11:16:26 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
quote:

Moore's Law is a simple statement of geometry, based on the lithographic nature of chip manufacturer. As feature size shrinks linearly, feature count rises quadatrically.

Fair enough, but these days Moore's Law is often applied to all aspects surrounding the rapidly decreasing cost/increasing efficiency of electronics in general. I agree its a bit of a misnomer.

Jason, to put it another way, the technologies that gained from Moore's law do so because they're able to be miniaturized. Solar cannot be miniaturized because the amount of sunlight that hits a given area is constant. The more you miniaturize, the less energy you get.

The biggest problem I see with solar is that even with 100% efficient panels, the area requirements are enormous. Replacing a 1 GW coal or nuclear plant would require covering 1.5 square kilometers with 100% efficient solar panels just to generate the same power at peak load under ideal conditions. We are much better off letting natural processes collect the sunlight, and tapping those for energy (hydro, biofuels, wave, wind).


RE: Economics don't make sense
By Doormat on 7/21/2008 10:39:02 AM , Rating: 2
Where did you get that $10M M/O amount? I run a larger PV array than the airport and we wont go through $10M M/O in 50 years ($200,000/yr), let alone 25.


RE: Economics don't make sense
By masher2 (blog) on 7/21/2008 10:46:51 AM , Rating: 2
That's 2.5%/year for M&O. The industry average is 1% to 3% per year...and that figure excludes any costs from severe storm damage. One bad storm could easily cost several times that.


RE: Economics don't make sense
By Doormat on 7/21/2008 12:10:07 PM , Rating: 2
I'm far more inclined to say that a large scale PV system (>1.5MW) would have a maintenance cost of 1%/yr. This would be a cost of 4M, not 10M. As your PV system size goes down, the minimum one person you need to maintain the system (check string voltages, fix inverters, etc) is larger vs the initial capital outlay.


RE: Economics don't make sense
By Doormat on 7/21/2008 10:53:50 AM , Rating: 2
Also, "$13M in electricity over its lifespan" - perhaps in the first 20 years (covered by the contract) but out to 25 and 30 years it comes out to $20M and $28M, with the 28M figure more than what the construction costs + M/O costs are.

(12c/kWh now, 5% annual increase, 3.5M kWh/yr)


RE: Economics don't make sense
By masher2 (blog) on 7/21/2008 11:15:19 AM , Rating: 2
You forget that PV cells degrade over time, losing 1% or so output each year of use.


RE: Economics don't make sense
By Doormat on 7/21/2008 12:07:38 PM , Rating: 3
I haven't found that to be the case. You can cite industry urban legends, but three years into this, I have found that the panels lose much less than 1% per year.


RE: Economics don't make sense
By masher2 (blog) on 7/21/2008 11:00:49 PM , Rating: 2
And you've conducted a scientific study and measured output accurately, while correcting for varying levels of solar irradiance, cloud cover, and other factors?

Interesting, because every scientific and government study ever done has concluded quite definitively that solar PV panels degrade on a linear, consistent basis over time. Here's just one such example, which tested degradation at 0.71%...a figure very close to the industry average warranty factor of 0.8%/year.

http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy02osti/31455.pdf

Is that "much less" than 1%? Irrelevant in any case -- when you're computing power output for 25-30 year old panels, you *have* to take degradation into account.


RE: Economics don't make sense
By 67STANG on 7/22/2008 11:27:23 AM , Rating: 2
And you've had hands on experience with solar panels? Instead of reading internet studies? Saying that solar panels degrade 1% in performance every year is a pretty broad/generalized statement. Perhaps if you buy cheap radio shack cells, that is probably the case.

However, there are many different brands manufactured to different levels and there are two mainstream varieties (Crystalline and Amorphous). Amorphous cells have a lower life than Crystalline and have a lower efficiency.

That said there are even newer panels out with made with copper-indium(gallium)-diselenide which have about the same life span as silicon, but without the cost.


RE: Economics don't make sense
By masher2 (blog) on 7/22/2008 11:55:49 AM , Rating: 2
> "Perhaps if you buy cheap radio shack cells, that is probably the case."

But these scientific and government studies didn't test "radio shack cells", but rather commercial-grade crystalline PV cells, used by actual utilties for power generation.

Are you attempting to claim these studies are frauds? Or that you've personally conducted studies on such panels, and quantified the results?


RE: Economics don't make sense
By 67STANG on 7/21/2008 12:40:13 PM , Rating: 4
I've had 4 year old arrays that haven't had any measurable loss in efficiency. Perhaps you should actually have experience with this before posting?


RE: Economics don't make sense
By Pythias on 7/25/2008 5:37:43 PM , Rating: 2
Really? I bought an array last week and three days later, it quit working. Therefore, personal experience say PVs degrade at a rate of...100%/three days.

Brilliant how that math works.


This is where solar makes sense
By FITCamaro on 7/21/2008 7:29:30 AM , Rating: 5
If there is unused land that can't be used otherwise, solar makes sense. But covering hundreds or thousands of acres in solar panels to yield a paltry 50-100MW or so, that doesn't make sense. Especially when a smaller nuclear facility can output 5-30x more power.




RE: This is where solar makes sense
By mdogs444 on 7/21/2008 9:04:24 AM , Rating: 1
Yeah but Fit...you need to get with the program. Its CLEAN and RENEWABLE! And its helping us acheive Al Gore's 10 year plan!

Ok, enough sarcasm. Its stupid and a waste of space.


RE: This is where solar makes sense
By Shortass on 7/22/2008 1:14:17 AM , Rating: 2
Not really stupid, it's great for marketing. 'Greenest Airport' will mean something to some people.

Also, not a waste of space. The space was already unused, therefor unproductive. So that's two against ya.

And a third, just because I'm into baseball (not really), is the fact that large amounts of solar cells purchased by silly marketing endeavors will help promote solar research, refinement, and ultimately will help to make solar a viable solution for energy production. This is a great foolish endeavor! Greatness!

It will never likely be a full replacement for anything, but if it becomes cheap and efficient enough I would certainly consider purchasing enough to cover my roof or so and create a ridiculous folding farm of 64-core monstrous computers. Stop being so negative and think a little. Everyone spewing economic figures should understand how the progression of tech works - it might not happen now, but money is required to make it happen. It's worth trying.


By Solandri on 7/22/2008 4:06:36 AM , Rating: 2
I don't think anyone, even masher, is against R&D into any of these green renewables or their use in places where it makes economic sense. What we're against is cutting off all other avenues of energy generation to fund only the renewable ones. i.e. "No, we shouldn't be developing oil/gas/nuclear, we should be developing solar/wind/hydro."

It's not an either/or choice, and it's terribly dishonest to try to cast it as an either/or choice. Develop what works and is cost-effective here and now. As the technology improves and the renewables become more cost-effective, replace the dirtier technologies gradually with the renewable ones. There's no reason for us to switch immediately and completely to renewables, and given their current cost it'd be economic suicide to do so.


RE: This is where solar makes sense
By emarston on 7/21/2008 9:55:37 AM , Rating: 2
You Sir, make way too much sense. Such talk isn't authorized in this day and age! Alas, the NIMBY attitude will continue to prevail.

I'd be happy with more nuclear, but for some strange reason people (even those not alive at the time, spew out 3-Mile Island or Chernobyl in response). I just wish people were more educated on the topic and understood the technology has come a long way. Safety records have been pretty darn good since those days as well.


RE: This is where solar makes sense
By andrinoaa on 7/22/2008 4:04:58 AM , Rating: 1
Haven't you guys learnt anything over the past 50 yrs. Clean nuclear is VAPORWARE. Its always promissed and never seems to get here. No matter how much you guys say its pure its clean. Shit man, you need to clean your backyard first before you can make such bullshit statements about nuclear power. You don't need to be highly educated to realise there is a major problem with nuclear waste. I say, you are showing signs of "head in the sand syndrome".
Ok so some of these solar ideas aren't total solutions, but where is your critic of the nuclear problems? Its so FUCKING OBVIOUS, man. Stop blowing the same trumpet and you may get more people agreeing with you more often.


By Solandri on 7/22/2008 4:17:40 AM , Rating: 2
Nobody is saying nuclear is perfect or completely clean. Nuclear produces waste, but its significantly less waste and tremendously less dangerous than the coal plants currently in use. It even produces less radioactive waste than coal.
http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=coal-ash-is-mo...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coal_plant#Environmen...

Since solar and wind are currently unable to compete with coal on price in the quantities we need, hydro is almost completely tapped, and geothermal is limited by geography, the solution seems pretty obvious: Replace existing coal plants with nuclear. As solar, wind, and geothermal develop and become cost-effective, we can replace nuclear (and any remaining coal) with those. But to continue burning coal when we can switch to nuclear right now is asinine.


RE: This is where solar makes sense
By Bruneauinfo on 7/21/2008 4:29:43 PM , Rating: 2
you CAN NOT put a nuclear power facility on an airport.


By Solandri on 7/22/2008 4:21:25 AM , Rating: 2
No idea
By Azzr34l on 7/22/2008 12:13:09 PM , Rating: 2
Heh, I live in Fresno and had no idea they did this. Just a couple years ago, Chevron (ironic, eh?) helped fund a 1.1 MW solar installation on the rooftops of a 700 stall covered parking area at Fresno State. At least they're doing something good with all the God-forsaken heat here....




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