Small reduction in green house gases for $2 trillion? Are you kidding me?

svetz

Works in theory! Practice? That's something else
Joined
Sep 20, 2019
Messages
5,445
Location
Key Largo
A recent election year campaign promise proposes a two trillion program over 4 years to take a bite out of green house gases produced by the U.S. by providing 500,000,000 solar panels, 60,0000 windmills, land for them, and to install/maintain more transmission lines -- all to provide ~5% of the power generation needs of the U.S.

I like the thinking in general and possibly I'm not getting the whole story. The way I read it, the proposal looks like a handout to public utilities - that is tax payers have to pay the tax, and for the power, and they don't even get much cleanup. It'll take up a lot of land and spends a lot of money on transmission lines and maintaining them. All for a 5% decrease?

I'm not against tax payers footing a bill to reduce green house gasses; but why can't their tax dollars get them more than cleaner air and not be spent on things we don't really need (e.g., more transmission lines and their maintenance). Why can't we spend money and really get our money's worth?

It would be much simpler to put solar on the roof of residential homes where transmission lines already exist. Much simpler to offer rebates in exchange for roof solar and wall battery storage distributed across homes throughout the country.

Go big or go home! 50% Reduction for the same $$
From wikipedia, the US uses ~11,500,000,000,000 watt-hours per day from 2018. We don't have to replace all of it, we'll still have a lot of nuclear, hydro, wind, and solar already after all... but let's look at the number if we were to replace 50% of the U.S.'s power with solar, how many watts of solar panels? Let's take a winter insolation of 2.0. At $2/W installed solar could cover the daily needs with just $1.5 trillion. Obviously in summer we'd be producing 2x as much as we need and would have enough for the entire country or to export to other countries to make money.

Sounds cheap, but obviously solar generation is useless without energy storage and with a reserve. Since we can distribute power across the nation and most storms are localized to one or two states, we probably don't need huge reserves, lets assume two days reserve and see where that takes us.

We know DIYer's are making LiFePO4 w/BMSes for under $0.20/Wh and EV manufactures are around $0.16. With the economy of scale for such a big project, we could beat those rates, but lets stay with $0.20/Wh.

That would be 11,500,000,000,000 x 2 x .2 x.50 = $2,300,000,000,000 or $2.3 trillion. Let's call it an even $4 trillion to have 50% of the U.S. powered by solar at the height of winter with 2 days battery reserve. a 50% reduction in green house gases in winter.

Setting up a 50% rebate and loan program (such that they'd not pay more than their current electric bill) with a minimum panel/battery size would encourage a lot of home owners to jump in and it would cut the government's program cost in half to 2 trillion. The program should also be capped such that it encourages the solar market place without artificially inflating prices due to supply and demand (that is it would probably take a decade to complete the project). For that 50%, homeowners are agreeing to export excess solar power and allow their batteries to be used as a national reserve. If the grid goes down, their batteries obviously can't export power to a broken grid...but they can still serve as backup power for the house. So home-owners loose very little by this.

We could even have steep rebates on EV cars where their batteries could be plugged into the grid operating as a reserve, that is a home owner might not even need to use the solar to take advantage of the program. Again, not much impact... even if a whole state needed to go on the reserve, then that would be 1/47th less energy in your tank.

So, this plan has the same price tag, but it's spread over 10 years (to not artificially inflate the cost of solar equipment and services) rather than 4 years, so that's less than half the tax burden per year. Tax payers get closer to 50% reduced emissions rather than 5%, they get more emission reductions quicker (%5/yr), and they get a lot of energy storage which would reduce emissions from less efficient peaker plants. It leverages and strengthens existing infrastructure rather than creating new infrastructure that needs annual maintenance. It promotes small businesses installing solar in residences rather than hand-outs to companies from which there is no recovery. It doesn't take up more land.

Sorry for the long rant... but even if my numbers are way off it seems we could do a whole lot more reusing the existing infrastructure rather than building out new.
 
Last edited:

mapguy525

Solar Addict
Joined
Apr 11, 2020
Messages
395
Location
Western Washington
I think we have to research the origination source of the the political initiative to understand the true intent. It seems like a grab for money to perform deferred grid maintenance and repairs that plague the industry. Especially for rural public utilities.
 

Freep

Solar Addict
Joined
May 11, 2020
Messages
410
Location
USA
It's going to take a long time and a lot of money to catch up with the century of subsidies fossil fuel companies have enjoyed.
 

Ampster

Renewable Energy Hobbyist
Joined
May 3, 2020
Messages
5,779
Location
Kenwood, California
I'm not against tax payers footing a bill to reduce green house gasses; but why can't their tax dollars get them more than cleaner air and not be spent on things we don't really need (e.g., more transmission lines and their maintenance). Why can't we spend money and really get our money's worth?
I agree with your overall sentiment. I would hope that by the time such a proposal is funded that details are carefully looked at. There are some places in the Midwest that have an abundance if wind energy. I think there are market based reasons to export that to places in the east where coal is still being used.

Renewable energy has proven to be less expensive than coal generation. I see no need to subsidize operating costs but I am okay with investment tax credits to stimulate capital improvements such as transmission lines.

I would also support reviewing the existing subsidies for the fossil fuel industry. I think that is what @Freep implied.
 
Last edited:

Freep

Solar Addict
Joined
May 11, 2020
Messages
410
Location
USA
Superconducting power transmission lines would be a game changer. All the excess power from those wind farms could go to just about anywhere in the country.

 

OnTheRoadAgain

Solar Addict
Joined
Feb 22, 2021
Messages
643
Natural disasters and time itself will render this program obsolete before it 's inception.
The massive amount of money spent can never be recouped.

One major Carrington event could wipe out 95% of the millions of solar panels and wind turbines......just as we've spent 5 trillion on the infrastructure.

I do not believe we are advanced enough at this point to successfully implement significant renewable energy.
We need more time to advance technologies like batteries and solar panels etc.

We've lived in a calm period void of major national disasters for some time. it's hard for most to imagine that they do periodically happen.
Asteroid strikes. Volcanic super eruptions. Carrington events etc.
Since oil is deep in the ground, that energy resource is especially protected and will remain available as long as the oil reserves last. Same with coal. That is why those two are far more stable than solar or wind power which are manufactured complex technologies and very subject to surface disasters.

Imagine if the world had already invested heavily in solar and wind power before WW2. Europe would have lost most of it's investment.

ALL renewable energy is predicated on a presumption of stability. Unfortunately that is not the history of the world or mankind.

That's my opinion but yours may vary a lot.
 
Last edited:

Freep

Solar Addict
Joined
May 11, 2020
Messages
410
Location
USA
Interestingly enough we can actually avoid Carrington events if we choose to go that route.


The bottom line though is you can mitigate for a lot but you can't prevent everything. For example we could be wiped out at any second by gamma ray burst and there is no early warning for such an event.


Since oil is deep in the ground, that energy resource is especially protected and will remain available as long as the oil reserves last. Same with coal. That is why those two are far more stable than solar or wind power which are manufactured complex technologies and very subject to surface disasters.

Which is why we should stop using it and keep it in reserve. You never know when we will need it. Right now, by using fossil fuels we're incurring extreme debt.

Imagine if the world had already invested heavily in solar and wind power before WW2. Europe would have lost most of it's investment.

As if they didn't lose almost all their investment in infrastructure? That's more of an argument against war rather than an argument against progress.
 

OnTheRoadAgain

Solar Addict
Joined
Feb 22, 2021
Messages
643
Interestingly enough we can actually avoid Carrington events if we choose to go that route.


The bottom line though is you can mitigate for a lot but you can't prevent everything. For example we could be wiped out at any second by gamma ray burst and there is no early warning for such an event.




Which is why we should stop using it and keep it in reserve. You never know when we will need it. Right now, by using fossil fuels we're incurring extreme debt.



As if they didn't lose almost all their investment in infrastructure? That's more of an argument against war rather than an argument against progress.

Good thing I said ymmv
 
Top