[clug] OT: Solar power recommendations and advice
felix.karpfen at gmail.com
Tue Apr 20 15:21:18 MDT 2010
On Tue, 20 Apr 2010 20:59:33 +1000, Paul Wayper wrote:
> As Alex said, that power goes *somewhere* and you get paid for it, end
> of story.
> It will have contributed to reducing the load on a coal-fired power
> station somewhere, no questions asked.
This is the point at which I stalled 3+ years ago, when I looked into the
As pointed out in the previous (not quoted) posting, power stations will
fire up enough generators to supply the anticipated demand (based,
presumably on previous usage patterns) and it takes some hours for the
generators to come up to speed and produce electricity at the most
If the producers get it wrong, you either get brown-outs (when there is
not enough to meet the demand) or waste (when some of the available
electricity does not find a buyer).
So electricity producers have greater flexibility than my initial
simplistic analysis uncovered. However, the basic conclusion holds.
They will continue to match the anticipated demand as long as the revenue
from that demand exceeds their total costs.
My other complaint against solar-cell electricity (not previously voiced)
is that it is stunningly inefficient. I am advised that the theoretical
maximum conversion of solar power to electricity is about 33%. The (1st
generation) cells currently marketed in Australia (based on silicon)
achieve conversions of 12-13% max. 2nd generation cells (currently
marketed in the US) achieve an 18%+ conversion; 3rd generation cells can
be found in laboratories at the ANU; I know nothing of their capabilities.
Finally - although this is OT raised to a higher power - the best (and
cheapest) way to cut electricity-generated greenhouse gas emissions is to
reduce demand. I chose that route by insulating the walls and ceilings
of my house and installing double windows. No brownie points for
originality; both are standard practice in much of Europe and in Canada.
I also installed the European version of "solar hot water" (Dux SunPro in
Australia). The total cost was a fraction of the cost of solar panels.
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