California Basking in Record Amount of Electricity from Solar

by
in science on (#2SKB)
The modern era of solar electricity got under way in 1954 as Bell Laboratory scientists unveiled a “solar battery” made from silicon that was used to power a toy Ferris wheel and a radio. In recent years, solar has boomed as costs have declined and government policies have favored a renewable energy source that can help combat climate change.

California’s solar energy generation hit a record earlier this year, accounting for 6 percent of energy from the California Independent System Operator, which manages the bulk of the state’s flow of electricity. Last year’s growth in solar capacity was greater than all earlier years combined. The state backs solar through financial incentives and a law that requires utilities derive 33 percent of their energy from renewable energy sources by 2020.

Good news for responsible energy generation.

Re: Economics Still Not Quite There? (Score: 2, Informative)

by kwerle@pipedot.org on 2014-09-19 16:06 (#2SM4)

I'm a coder for SolarCity.
1. It is completely unfeasible for a typical home to go completely "off-grid" due to the humongous cost, space, and maintenance required for all the batteries to smooth the day/night load patterns.
And there are rainy days. And rainy weeks. That's what the grid is for.
Batteries will be cheaper when Elon finishes the GigaFactory - but that's no reason to wait for solar - just for the batteries.
2. So the vast majority of installations are "grid-tied", meaning they pull power from the normal grid, and sometimes feed power back into it.
Like a big battery.
3. Even with the generous incentives, pay-back time for an initial investment is at least 4-7 years, during which time that $20,000 might have been better spent in a mutual fund.
.. payback in 4-7, leaving you with more than 20 years of profit. Unless you plan on moving in the next 4-7, in which case things get a bit murky. I think the general population does not yet appropriately value panels on the roof of the house they're buying.
4. I didn't really have $20,000 lying around anyway.
Next point...
There are leasing options that mitigate some of this, but not entirely. Do you really want to be paying Elon Musk (investor in SolarCity) every month in perpetuity instead of your electric company?
So this is the bottom line: you would rather pay your electric company to continue business as usual instead of lowering your energy costs and (if you care) carbon footprint by getting panels installed for free on your roof.

Seriously. WTF?
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