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Solar Power. Talk to me.

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Jaymann
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Re: Solar Power. Talk to me.

Post by Jaymann » Fri Mar 18, 2016 12:51 pm

They could be using Schrodinger's tracking system.
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Re: Solar Power. Talk to me.

Post by stessier » Fri Mar 18, 2016 2:20 pm

Rip wrote:
Isgrimnur wrote:You really need to get your eyes checked.
What I see is.
Ivanpah officials have maintained that they always expected it to take about four years for the plant ramp up to peak production levels.

An official with BrightSource Energy said in statement Thursday that the plant remains on track.
and

http://ww2.kqed.org/news/2015/12/15/nrg ... E-contract
Energy production has picked up at the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System in the Mojave Desert, but not enough to allow the plant’s owners — who include Google and Oakland-based BrightSource Energy — to avoid the risk of defaulting on their contracts to deliver electricity to Pacific Gas & Electric.

Majority owner and plant manager NRG Energy said in its most recent quarterly report that it won’t be able to deliver the electricity promised in its power purchase agreements with PG&E. The agreements cover output from two of Ivanpah’s three units.

The contracts are confidential, but in its Nov. 4 filing NRG said it “expects that the units will not meet their guaranteed energy production amount for the initial performance measurement period,” which ends in January, two years after commercial operations began. NRG said that if that happens “PG&E may, at its option, declare an event of default,” and that it was “exploring options to mitigate this risk or its consequences.”
So my question is if they are on track but can't meet their obligations, does that not suggest they never planned to meet the obligations?

The only way to be both on track and yet failing to meet obligations is if that track never had any chance of meeting obligations.
Not true - They could have been significantly below output on year 1 and be on track for their output on year 2 - which means they are on track for future years' outputs - and still fall short of the guaranteed amount during the measurement period.

Said another way -

Measurement period = 2 years
Goal = 100 units

Year 1 Target = 50
Year 2 Target = 65

Year 1 actual = 20
Year 2 actual = 65

Actual values show they are on target for production, but total production will fall short of goal.
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Re: Solar Power. Talk to me.

Post by Daehawk » Fri Mar 18, 2016 2:27 pm

SolarWorld hits 22% efficiency . Not sure thats in the thread already if so sorry. Normal is like 16%...so a huge leap in tech.
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Re: Solar Power. Talk to me.

Post by hitbyambulance » Sun Mar 20, 2016 2:47 am

the parents are getting solar panels installed on their house (about 22 miles south of Minneapolis) - just signed the installation contract yesterday. i'll post back on the company and details.

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Re: Solar Power. Talk to me.

Post by RunningMn9 » Sun Mar 20, 2016 9:44 am

I'm more than a full year in, and couldn't be happier with the solar installation. The panels overproduced above the guaranteed minimums in year one, even considering a very soggy and sun-less June here in NJ. 2016 has gotten a strong start due to the near-total lack of winter here. I think that since I had the panels installed in Dec of 2014, I've paid my electric company a total of $70 (over 15 months or so). I was paying them $228 per month. I exchanged that for a $110 lease payment on the panels.

That's about $1700 in savings so far, without having to pay anything up front. I can live with that.
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Re: Solar Power. Talk to me.

Post by Zaxxon » Sun Mar 20, 2016 9:45 am

Nice. Out of curiosity, what's your total output so far? I'm about to hit 10 MWh after 21 months, from my relatively small 4.2 kW system.

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Re: Solar Power. Talk to me.

Post by RunningMn9 » Sun Mar 20, 2016 11:28 am

Zaxxon wrote:Nice. Out of curiosity, what's your total output so far? I'm about to hit 10 MWh after 21 months, from my relatively small 4.2 kW system.
About 15 MWh in about 16 months I guess. It's a 9.99 kW system, but it's really not since it's two arrays that see the sun at different times. Either way - it produces "enough". :)
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Re: Solar Power. Talk to me.

Post by Zaxxon » Sun Mar 20, 2016 11:39 am

hitbyambulance wrote:the parents are getting solar panels installed on their house (about 22 miles south of Minneapolis) - just signed the installation contract yesterday. i'll post back on the company and details.
Image

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Re: Solar Power. Talk to me.

Post by em2nought » Sun Mar 20, 2016 7:01 pm

RunningMn9 wrote:I'm more than a full year in, and couldn't be happier with the solar installation. The panels overproduced above the guaranteed minimums in year one, even considering a very soggy and sun-less June here in NJ. 2016 has gotten a strong start due to the near-total lack of winter here. I think that since I had the panels installed in Dec of 2014, I've paid my electric company a total of $70 (over 15 months or so). I was paying them $228 per month. I exchanged that for a $110 lease payment on the panels.

That's about $1700 in savings so far, without having to pay anything up front. I can live with that.
That is awesome! I wonder how often you'll have to replace storage batteries, and how much that will be? Or maybe the entity you lease from takes care of that?
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Re: Solar Power. Talk to me.

Post by Zaxxon » Sun Mar 20, 2016 7:05 pm

There are no storage batteries on either of our systems. Solar arrays are extremely reliable. No moving parts.

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Re: Solar Power. Talk to me.

Post by Rip » Sun Mar 20, 2016 7:10 pm

Zaxxon wrote:There are no storage batteries on either of our systems. Solar arrays are extremely reliable. No moving parts.
One of those deals where the utility buys your excess during the day and deducts your nighttime usage? That is the most logical and effective method. They have peak usage when you are producing and they have excess available at night when usage is low.

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Re: Solar Power. Talk to me.

Post by Zaxxon » Sun Mar 20, 2016 7:11 pm

Exactly that. Known as net metering. Power meter runs backwards when we're overproducing, so our monthly bill is for our net usage.

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Re: Solar Power. Talk to me.

Post by Rip » Sun Mar 20, 2016 7:16 pm

Zaxxon wrote:Exactly that. Known as net metering. Power meter runs backwards when we're overproducing, so our monthly bill is for our net usage.
I think it is brilliant and an obvious way to go. It is without opponents though it seems.

http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/ ... t-Metering

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Re: Solar Power. Talk to me.

Post by Zaxxon » Sun Mar 20, 2016 7:20 pm

It's OK for now. The problem is that many (most?) power companies recoup fixed fees in their usage fees. Combined with net metering, this means people like me effectively get to use the power company's infrastructure as a free unlimited battery. The clear solution is to decouple fixed costs from usage fees and leave net metering alone, but embedded interests would rather try to nuke net metering altogether.

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Re: Solar Power. Talk to me.

Post by RunningMn9 » Sun Mar 20, 2016 7:30 pm

Zaxxon wrote:It's OK for now. The problem is that many (most?) power companies recoup fixed fees in their usage fees. Combined with net metering, this means people like me effectively get to use the power company's infrastructure as a free unlimited battery. The clear solution is to decouple fixed costs from usage fees and leave net metering alone, but embedded interests would rather try to nuke net metering altogether.
I do pat a nominal fee every month for the ability to connect to their grid, but that's like $2 or something. I don't think the desire is to nuke net metering altogether, but rather to credit you the wholesale rate rather than the retail rate for KWh you push up to the grid. I personally think that the benefit they get now (distributed power production without paying for the infrastructure to add capacity - used during peak power consumption periods) is worth more to them than they are letting on. But they can afford to buy my state govt and I cannot, so I'll certainly lose in the end.
And in banks across the world
Christians, Moslems, Hindus, Jews
And every other race, creed, colour, tint or hue
Get down on their knees and pray
The raccoon and the groundhog neatly
Make up bags of change
But the monkey in the corner
Well he's slowly drifting out of range

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Re: Solar Power. Talk to me.

Post by Zaxxon » Sun Mar 20, 2016 7:34 pm

Well, that's another issue. Yes, the power generated by solar typically offsets peak usage power, so they're definitely benefitting more than wholesale rates (what's physically happening to our excess power is that it's being fed to our neighbors' homes, and those hosers are paying retail).

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Re: Solar Power. Talk to me.

Post by Rip » Sun Mar 20, 2016 7:37 pm

RunningMn9 wrote:
Zaxxon wrote:It's OK for now. The problem is that many (most?) power companies recoup fixed fees in their usage fees. Combined with net metering, this means people like me effectively get to use the power company's infrastructure as a free unlimited battery. The clear solution is to decouple fixed costs from usage fees and leave net metering alone, but embedded interests would rather try to nuke net metering altogether.
I do pat a nominal fee every month for the ability to connect to their grid, but that's like $2 or something. I don't think the desire is to nuke net metering altogether, but rather to credit you the wholesale rate rather than the retail rate for KWh you push up to the grid. I personally think that the benefit they get now (distributed power production without paying for the infrastructure to add capacity - used during peak power consumption periods) is worth more to them than they are letting on. But they can afford to buy my state govt and I cannot, so I'll certainly lose in the end.
Yea, I don't see the problem. Distributed production is a gift of it's own. Besides isn't it quite an incentive for those not using solar to do so? Sounds like a cheap incentive. In the end you get nearly full residential penetration of the heavy industrial users fund the infrastructure. Seems like a self collecting tax that makes the country better without much ability for politicians to redirect it to unworthy causes.

Win-Win-Win-Win

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Re: Solar Power. Talk to me.

Post by Zaxxon » Sun Mar 20, 2016 7:44 pm

It's a tricky situation for power companies, as we're not far from the 'death spiral' situation that's been predicted by some for awhile now. Solar costs keep dropping, efficiency keeps improving, and now battery storage is becoming more feasible/economical. This combo means it's starting to be possible for some households to disconnect from their utility entirely. Only in certain ideal locations/profiles right now, but more each year.

What happens if the utility raises costs for net metering customers? (Either by raising fixed fees, paying wholesale for production while charging retail when you buy it back, etc) It makes it easier to justify defecting from the grid.

And then when more defect? The power company has to raise rates on those who remain. Which makes it justifiable for a new set of customers to leave. Toss in continual improvement in solar cells / storage systems and reduced 'soft' costs, and...

Rinse, repeat.

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Re: Solar Power. Talk to me.

Post by Jaymann » Mon Mar 21, 2016 11:19 am

During the mild winter with minimal heater usage I actually got an electric bill for $-26!
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Re: Solar Power. Talk to me.

Post by hitbyambulance » Mon Mar 21, 2016 9:40 pm

Zaxxon wrote:
hitbyambulance wrote:the parents are getting solar panels installed on their house (about 22 miles south of Minneapolis) - just signed the installation contract yesterday. i'll post back on the company and details.
Image
they're getting All Energy Solar to install 285w SolarWorld panels - 22 in all; i think it's 14 on the detached garage they constructed about eight years ago and 8 on the house, all south-facing. the rep said it should provide 113% of their power needs.

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Re: Solar Power. Talk to me.

Post by Zaxxon » Mon Mar 21, 2016 9:51 pm

Nice. I've actually got 15 280-watt SolarWorld panels.

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Re: Solar Power. Talk to me.

Post by em2nought » Tue Mar 22, 2016 1:37 am

Now that I know storage batteries aren't involved I'm seriously considering this.

If power goes out from the utility such as after a hurricane, can you still run? It's not so tied to the utility that you can't? Sorry if it's been mentioned before, maybe I'll just go back and read the entire thread.
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Re: Solar Power. Talk to me.

Post by Rip » Tue Mar 22, 2016 1:43 am

em2nought wrote:Now that I know storage batteries aren't involved I'm seriously considering this.

If power goes out from the utility such as after a hurricane, can you still run? It's not so tied to the utility that you can't? Sorry if it's been mentioned before, maybe I'll just go back and read the entire thread.

You should be fine I believe as long as you are producing sufficient power.

I would imagine you could also float a relatively small battery system to help cover for short night time outages.

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Re: Solar Power. Talk to me.

Post by Zaxxon » Tue Mar 22, 2016 3:58 am

Most systems without batteries will shut down if the grid goes down. This is a safety issue for the power company's workers: they don't want power from your panels potentially hitting their lines while they're fixing them. The inverter senses that the grid has no power and shuts off until it's back.

That said, there are grid-tie inverters that include some outlets that you can use while there's an outage. And with a system that doesn't feed back into the grid, you're fine.

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Re: Solar Power. Talk to me.

Post by RunningMn9 » Tue Mar 22, 2016 9:12 am

Zaxxon wrote:Most systems without batteries will shut down if the grid goes down. This is a safety issue for the power company's workers: they don't want power from your panels potentially hitting their lines while they're fixing them. The inverter senses that the grid has no power and shuts off until it's back.
While technically true - I believe that the primary issue is so that the solar panels don't immolate your home, which will likely happen before any techs get to working on the lines. :)

Edit: The same sensing equipment that shuts down the panels could just as easy disconnect system from the street and keep providing power to the house. They don't do that because your house can't handle that kind of current (usually).
And in banks across the world
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Make up bags of change
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Re: Solar Power. Talk to me.

Post by RunningMn9 » Tue Mar 22, 2016 9:22 am

Zaxxon wrote:That said, there are grid-tie inverters that include some outlets that you can use while there's an outage. And with a system that doesn't feed back into the grid, you're fine.
I know that they talked to me about this when they were selling the system, but I don't know if they ended up installing an inverter that had that capability (I have a 6500W portable generator so wasn't really worried about it, but it would be handy to have regardless).
And in banks across the world
Christians, Moslems, Hindus, Jews
And every other race, creed, colour, tint or hue
Get down on their knees and pray
The raccoon and the groundhog neatly
Make up bags of change
But the monkey in the corner
Well he's slowly drifting out of range

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Re: Solar Power. Talk to me.

Post by Jaymann » Tue Mar 22, 2016 12:17 pm

I hear the Tesla battery system will efficiently store your peak production to get you through the night. As well as charge your electric car. Definitely something I want to explore.
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Re: Solar Power. Talk to me.

Post by Zaxxon » Tue Mar 22, 2016 12:32 pm

Jaymann wrote:I hear the Tesla battery system will efficiently store your peak production to get you through the night. As well as charge your electric car. Definitely something I want to explore.
It does look cool, but it's unclear how many they're shipping at this time. They're producing them at their Nevada gigafactory, but I believe most of the output thus far has been the larger Powerpack option targeted at businesses. If I had a PV system capable of producing enough during the day to get me through the night, I'd be looking closely at the Powerwall. At a 92.5% round-trip efficiency, it doesn't take much of a skew between your power sale rate vs buy back (eg wholesale vs retail) to make it more economical to keep your power rather than sell it back during the day and re-buy at night.

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Re: Solar Power. Talk to me.

Post by RunningMn9 » Tue Mar 22, 2016 1:06 pm

Zaxxon wrote:It does look cool, but it's unclear how many they're shipping at this time. They're producing them at their Nevada gigafactory, but I believe most of the output thus far has been the larger Powerpack option targeted at businesses. If I had a PV system capable of producing enough during the day to get me through the night, I'd be looking closely at the Powerwall. At a 92.5% round-trip efficiency, it doesn't take much of a skew between your power sale rate vs buy back (eg wholesale vs retail) to make it more economical to keep your power rather than sell it back during the day and re-buy at night.
Ideally I'd want a system that has enough juice for like 3 days. That's what they used to calculate for what you'd need to go off grid. On good days, I generate way more than what I use in a given day. But full-on battery systems are terribly expensive. An overnight system that allowed the panels to work at capacity during a power outage, and sent excess power to the grid after the batteries were charged (rather than just bleeding out as heat)...that would be fantastic as well I suppose.
And in banks across the world
Christians, Moslems, Hindus, Jews
And every other race, creed, colour, tint or hue
Get down on their knees and pray
The raccoon and the groundhog neatly
Make up bags of change
But the monkey in the corner
Well he's slowly drifting out of range

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Re: Solar Power. Talk to me.

Post by Zaxxon » Tue Mar 22, 2016 1:13 pm

That's basically the Powerwall. You can buy one and have overnight coverage,or chain multiple for the off-grid. Their pricing is not bad for what you get.

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Re: Solar Power. Talk to me.

Post by RunningMn9 » Tue Mar 22, 2016 1:24 pm

Zaxxon wrote:That's basically the Powerwall. You can buy one and have overnight coverage,or chain multiple for the off-grid. Their pricing is not bad for what you get.
Yeah, I think that two would be enough for me to be generally happy during a power outage.
And in banks across the world
Christians, Moslems, Hindus, Jews
And every other race, creed, colour, tint or hue
Get down on their knees and pray
The raccoon and the groundhog neatly
Make up bags of change
But the monkey in the corner
Well he's slowly drifting out of range

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Re: Solar Power. Talk to me.

Post by Zaxxon » Tue Mar 22, 2016 1:46 pm

RunningMn9 wrote:
Zaxxon wrote:That's basically the Powerwall. You can buy one and have overnight coverage,or chain multiple for the off-grid. Their pricing is not bad for what you get.
Yeah, I think that two would be enough for me to be generally happy during a power outage.
Same here, unless said outage included a full day of summer AC weather. If you consider someone who already has solar (and an appropriate inverter), you're looking at $3k apiece plus installation. So say someone settles on three units--$9k, or around $10k with installation. Take out the 30% ITC and you're at $7k. Not cheap, but far cheaper than even a couple of years ago, and for a far better system. If my power company didn't pay me exactly what I pay them per kWh and have virtually no connection charge, I might get me some Powerwall.

As a thought experiment, let's pretend I lived in a relatively energy-expensive state, like New York ($0.15/kWh retail), and that my power company only pays me wholesale (let's say $0.07/kWh). Let's further pretend that it's 2020, and most power companies have succeeded in introducing a grid connection fee of $10/mo. Finally, let's say Tesla's accurately gauged their product needs and that I buy back 6 kWh/day. Each kWh I sell back to the grid and later re-buy costs me $0.08, or about 50 cents/day. That's $15/mo plus the connection fee of $10, or $25/mo.

That comes to $300/year, or $3k over the warranted lifespan of the unit. Exactly the cost of the unit, minus installation. Probably about break-even when taking the ITC into account. Still a tough sell on economics alone. For someone who wants to green their production or get off-grid for other reasons, at least it's not a money pit.

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Re: Solar Power. Talk to me.

Post by Jaymann » Tue Mar 22, 2016 6:14 pm

If I had to do solar from scratch I would plaster my whole roof with with high end panels and get 3 Powerwalls. Seems like that would be enough to go off the grid.
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Re: Solar Power. Talk to me.

Post by stessier » Wed Jun 01, 2016 3:35 pm

So I'm looking into installing a system in the (likely) slim hope of taking advantage of the federal tax credit before it expires. I read through this thread a while back and am going over it again now. Is there anything people who've had the systems for a while wish they had known or suggest I look into closely? Anyone hate what they've done to their place? I really would prefer not to install a money pit. :)
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Re: Solar Power. Talk to me.

Post by Zaxxon » Wed Jun 01, 2016 3:37 pm

The credit was extended. 30% is now through 2019. You've got time. That said, install soon anyway!

Most of the details of my system are covered earlier in this thread. Short version is I have a 4.2 kW system consisting of 15 280W SolarWorld panels, with Enphase microinverters. I've been happy with it, and have had no issues in the 26 months it's been live. Happy to answer more questions if you have them.

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Re: Solar Power. Talk to me.

Post by stessier » Wed Jun 01, 2016 5:18 pm

Cool - then I don't have to rush! I will, of course, but I don't have to. :)

I'll probably have more questions after I get the quotes. I sent requests to three local companies. We shall see.
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Re: Solar Power. Talk to me.

Post by Zaxxon » Wed Jun 01, 2016 5:33 pm

Good luck.

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Re: Solar Power. Talk to me.

Post by RunningMn9 » Wed Jun 01, 2016 9:00 pm

I represent the lease crowd and can also report nothing but positive things, after about 16 months. The only downside now is that I hate rainy days even more.
And in banks across the world
Christians, Moslems, Hindus, Jews
And every other race, creed, colour, tint or hue
Get down on their knees and pray
The raccoon and the groundhog neatly
Make up bags of change
But the monkey in the corner
Well he's slowly drifting out of range

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Re: Solar Power. Talk to me.

Post by em2nought » Thu Jun 02, 2016 3:23 pm

Is there someplace to look to find what companies might be best for purchase and install? Floriduh specifically. I didn't feel like I was finding much good info back in March with my apparent limited search skills. Seems like it's getting harder to get results that aren't paid advertisements on google. Anyone else feel that way, or maybe there's something better out there? I used to use dogpile, just for the name alone. :mrgreen:
Waiting for the tide to bring me a sail.

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Zaxxon
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Re: Solar Power. Talk to me.

Post by Zaxxon » Thu Jun 02, 2016 3:24 pm

em2nought wrote:Is there someplace to look to find what companies might be best for purchase and install? Floriduh specifically. I didn't feel like I was finding much good info back in March with my apparent limited search skills. Seems like it's getting harder to get results that aren't paid advertisements on google. Anyone else feel that way, or maybe there's something better out there? I used to use dogpile, just for the name alone. :mrgreen:
You might try something like Angie's List, or Yelp if AL isn't an option.

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