A Clearer Path to Kyoto

Recent developments in Public policy initiatives in the area of renewable energy, have proven to me that there is a disconnect between our leaders and the common sense I know they possess.

I'd like to think this is merely a product of myopia, as opposed to some deeper problem such as collusion with energy companies and/or an apathetic approach to their responsibilities as a public servant. Whatever the cause, the term "progress" has very little to do with the few steps that have been taken, and that needs to change.

There is quite a bit of controversy and conflicting opinions about not only the sustainability of biofuels, but the ecological and economical impact that cash crops will have on our country and the rest of the world. As a piece of the solution, I give you:

"The WTW model for cellulosic ethanol showed greenhouse gas emission reductions of about 80% [over gasoline]," said Wang. "Corn ethanol showed 20 to 30% reductions." Cellulosic ethanol's favorable profile stems from using lignin, a biomass by-product of the conversion operation, to fuel the process. "Lignin is a renewable fuel with no net greenhouse gas emissions," explains Wang. "Greenhouse gases produced by the combustion of biomass are offset by the CO2 absorbed by the biomass as it grows."

Feedstock sources and supplies are another important factor differentiating the two types of ethanol. Agricultural wastes are a largely untapped resource. This low cost feedstock is more abundant and contains greater potential energy than simple starches and sugars. Currently, agricultural residues are plowed back into the soil, composted, burned or disposed in landfills. As an added benefit, collection and sale of crop residues offer farmers a new source of income from existing acreage.

Industrial wastes and municipal solid waste (MSW) can also be used to produce ethanol. Lee Lynd, an engineering professor at Dartmouth, has been working with the Gorham Paper Mill to convert paper sludge to ethanol. "Paper sludge is a waste material that goes into landfills at a cost of $80/dry ton," says Lynd. "This is genuinely a negative cost feedstock. And it is already pretreated, eliminating a step in the conversion process."

http://www.harvestcleanenergy.org/enews/enews_0505/enews_0505_Cellulosic_Ethanol.htm

How many people here have a hybrid vehicle? I caught this on Kos earlier today, and I couldn't stop smiling:

Converting a hybrid to a plug in hybrid saves CO2 emissions, and helps stabilise the grid if it is set up as a V2G Vehicle to grid PHEV plugin hybrid elctric vehicle. This helps us add much more wind power to the grid, which our Democrats are trying to do. Daytime solar charging stations like this mean you could plug in during work and if you wanted, earn money for selling excess back to the grid.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2007/6/24/143611/302

Speaking of...

Recently, we've looked at some of the aspects of individuals making the move to Solar energy for their homes, and examples have been calculated to show how the ROI (Return On Investment) is relatively quickly gained. But you know what? It's still way too expensive for mass usage, and that is something that must be addressed. We also need to force energy companies to remove caps on the amount of net-metered wattage they will handle, and be willing to take it out of their ass if they refuse (sorry—I got carried away). The thing is, we have to make sure the roadblocks to Solar are removed and no new ones are put in their place.

I can see a future where our carbon emissions are much lower, where the fuels we use are mostly derived from waste material, where the power grid only relies on a few scattered facilities to augment the power generated by citizens tapping into the Elements (not the band, the natural stuff :) )

Can you see it, too?

Comments

I can see it

and I am really glad we have an energy nut around here these days. Seriously. I've been longing for someone who would write reliably and informatively on all the stuff you're thinking about . . . and I count my lucky stars that you're here. Thank you thank you thank you.

Recommended

PS I'm trying to do a better job recommending posts so they make the list over on the right side of the page. Would a few of you join me please so this post stays up there for a good long while?

Purty please?

Sure nuff -

I have a soft spot in my heart for sc anyway.

All that green energy talk makes my heart flutter. :)

Thanks for inviting me

here in the first place, kiddo.

By the way, guess who filed to change his party affiliation this week? Like it or not folks, you now have a freshly minted Democrat to make the party even more confusing. :)

Congratulations and Welcome

to the Party of the People.

Feel free to bring like minded friends ... uh... like I did. :)

Woo hoo!

Congratulations and welcome - we're glad to have you.

Yay! Welcome

I have thoroughly enjoyed your first weeks here and look forward to sharing many more with my new fellow Dem. Now I have something to celebrate. Hmmmm...now have to decide whether it will be with beer or ice cream. :)

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.



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Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

New Democrat,

we welcome your confusion! Unconfusion is the problem - when the Senate choice is between the corporations and the citizens! Your contribution of confusion can considerably counter this Unconfusion that continues to confuse ....

I, too, appreciate your articulation of Energy Issues. It has been a grim week, especially for energy nuts. This House (and Senate) Fire that Anglico is starting can also help turn the renewable-energy-bill-turned-corporate-boondoggle back towards HB77, the House version of a true Energy Bill.

Ha. The upside of this down week is that the House is poised to powerfully promote the Progressive Power of the People .... if We The People support them! Could they borrow the cape?

Email Action Time!

Thanks, A.

It's impossible for you to know how much I appreciate your words of encouragement. :)

The pleasure is all ours!

:)

I think it would be neat

to propose a very simple bill that stated the things identified on this thread and then see what orginazations start hammering the sponsers of this bill.

It will be shown that moving toward alternative power will hit someones pocket and someones monopoly on a service and they wont like it.

That to me is not compitition. That to me is big money manupulating politicians for power and money.

Can the people around Chappel Hill, Charlette, or any big metropolitian effectively switch to solar and wind power? I truely do not think so. But could folks East of 95 do it? probably. Is there any real incentive to do so? Dont think so.

But if we could get rural areas moved over and off fossel fuels for lighting and running our houses/business that would be a huge reduction in fuel requirements/year. That would help the overall concerns. Or having wind/solar farms augmenting the power grid. We have a lot of wind in the East....seems like we could put these things someplace. Just do people want em? Today, maybe not, 40 years from now, probably yes!

Hell, I am not opposed to nuke power. If it gets us off of fossel fuels. Only problems I truely see with nuke power is preception of the plant and what to do with the rods when they are expended.

There are 5 total reactors going in NC producing 39,981 million watts of net power.

Dont see why we cant get more going. Figure out what environmental issues are needed and then go with that. Set an environmental bar to shoot at and turn em loose.

Alternative sources are needed and we should be looking at them. However, they are not for everyone, yet....17 years to recoup the $25,000 invested? I might be wrong with that thou. I think he is talking that it would take 17 years of excess energy being sold back to the grid to get the $25,000 invested. It would seem that if the panels are supporting 25% of his power requirements, that would be a 25% savings going toward the price of the panels. Do these panels last 17 years to make them a viable option? Or better yet, will they last long enough to pay for the loan on the things? And egads, when you have to replace them.

How many people have this kind of money to invest in a project like this?

How many lending instatutions are going to give a loan for a project like this if there is nothing outthere to help the homeowner or to back him up in case of a catistrophic failure. The lending instatution is not going to give a $25,000 loan with only the panels as colatteral and stay in business. I am not going to put my house up as collateral for these panels...kinda at an empasse?

Even this article shows that a reduction of 25% can be realized, but still this guy has to rely on fossel fuels for 75% of his power demands (statement assumes his power is not hydro or nuclear). Is he really making a diffrence for the price?

These are the things I see as challenges to moving off of fossel fuels and over to alternatives.

And I did not even mention agrofuels. But my cut on that is I want to eat corn, not shove it in my car...I can ride a horse to market, but if my tummy is a grumbly, all the gas in my car aint gonna get that cow fat. Corn is for cows, chickens, pigs and not for my car.....also, agrofuels still rely on fossel fuels. In my opionion, not smart either. Still going to run out of oil, just a little be later.

Cost is a major factor,

but there are tax credits that will recoup 35% of the installation costs up to $10,000.

How many lending instatutions are going to give a loan for a project like this if there is nothing outthere to help the homeowner or to back him up in case of a catistrophic failure. The lending instatution is not going to give a $25,000 loan with only the panels as colatteral and stay in business. I am not going to put my house up as collateral for these panels...kinda at an empasse?

People take out second mortgages all the time, often for stupid things that won't increase the value of their homes or generate savings. If you're planning to stay in your home for several years, this is one of the smart ones.

Even this article shows that a reduction of 25% can be realized, but still this guy has to rely on fossel fuels for 75% of his power demands (statement assumes his power is not hydro or nuclear). Is he really making a diffrence for the price?

This guy set up a 2.5 kilowatt system, which is only big enough to generate about a fourth of his needs. The article also fails to mention the capacity of his energy storage or whether he's net-metered, either of which are critical in making a system cost-efficient.

Is he making a difference? You betcha. He's setting an example for the rest of us by producing his own energy. The more people that invest in Solar the more businesses will spring up to compete with each other in the manufacture/installation of such, bringing the costs down even more.

Great point!

Is he making a difference? You betcha. He's setting an example for the rest of us by producing his own energy. The more people that invest in Solar the more businesses will spring up to compete with each other in the manufacture/installation of such, bringing the costs down even more.

I thought all meters where net meters? Thought if you "pushed" power onto the meter, that the meter would go backwards effectively reducing your power bill. At least thats my understanding from a laymans point of view. I understand the concept, just not the mechanics. With these new digital meters, not sure if that works anymore.

You gotta get a special meter to allow the power to flow from your house to the grid? Seems smart, just wonder how much that item is and how much it really costs the power company to make. I know how easy it is for a meter to be switched out. It plugs in. In most cases, its easier to replace a meter then it is to replace a covered light bulb in your vaulted ceiling.

I am willing to bet there are more "restrictions" imposed on this net-metering concept then actually needs to be just to discourage folks from doing it keeping people dependant on big power companies.

How many politicians have voted for, and will continue to vote for restrictions on little guy power sources that can augment the big power grid because big power is supporting their reelection campaigns?

What are the restrictions to creating a little guy power company for personnel use that is plugged into the main power grid that incorporates a net-meter?

I can see a restriction where if I used fossel fuels to generate my power that I should not get any breaks and I should not be allowed on the grid in the first place. Kinda defeating the purpose. But if I am using solar, wind or hydro to create "passive" power, I should only have to ensure my system is properly phased to work with the grid and give me a net-meter. Heck, the net-meters should be free.

Has the power companies and politicans established a painless process with guidelines that show how someone can get on the grid? Should be a matter of the county inspections office and not big power, comes out, performs the inspection, and then OKs the system and tells the power company to bring out and install the net-meter. That is how regular power service is approved at a house or personal level.

A nice program I found that trys to discribe some of the questions I had concerning cost etc. Seems well thought out. What I did notice was NC gives a credit for this, then taxes you on that credit. For my example I ran for my house, this tax of $2900 was higher then the credit received by the Feds for doing this. Why?

Net metering rules But my power coop does not fall under this rule? Albermarle electric.

This site confuses me

There is a $100 application fee for residential systems and a $250 application fee for nonresidential systems. Generators are responsible only for upgrade and improvement costs associated directly with a system's interconnection, but these costs may be determined by utilities. Utilities are prohibited from imposing indirect fees and charges.

my bold...$100 to apply seems reasonable. but this bolded section is what confuses me. What is this interconnection fee that the power company gets to set the price at?

A redundant external disconnect switch is required, and the capacity of all interconnected generation is limited to a maximum of 2% of rated circuit capacity.

Does this mean that as a particapant in this program, I can only sell to the power company 2% of their capacity? Or is it 2% above what I normally use?

I hope this is not saying that the power company only has to buy back 2% of all the power people are generating collectively? Cause if it does, once enough people where the 2% saturation point is routinely met, all others will lose out on the sell-back functionality of this program or we will all start getting a prorated or fair market distrubution back. But the power company will still continue to accept the power above the 2% onto the grid for use by others.

It appears that I cannot buy the 30kW system and sell power back, assuming I can make the 30kW/month because I will hit this saturation point at some point.

While power companies

are in business to make money, if they are not proactively moving forward to finding alternatives then if we start assisting and puting power onto the grids, we should be able to receive an appropriate monitary compensation for our power generation as well as beable to assist in reducing our needs on fossel fuels. the more smaller hands pulling on the rope, the less overall requirments on the big guy, reducing his requirements.

We have paid for the cables, power transformers, etc and because our systems will probably never make us completly independant on big power, we will need big power. Many folks will never beable to generate their own power because of where they live and will require big power.

However, instead of big power having to invest in making wind and solar farms, or daming up rivers similar to the TVA all of us that can create smaller farms should be encouraged to put our resources to maximum useage and to make the excess available to help reduce the demands on fossel fuels until a better system is devisied. Heck, it might be found that if enough folks went this route, and we put up a few more nuke plants, we could get rid of fossel fuel generation plants for good. Maybe where true huge farms could be set up, they where and we augment that.

Sorry big power, but keeping folks dependant on fossel fuels just so you have a check every month is not smart.

By looking at that program I showed you, my house and lot I paid $110,000. To get a 7kW system, I think thats how much I use a month. I would need a $64,000 system and I would still be dependant on big power. I am on a fixed income, thus paying more than half my house for a power generation system is just unfeasable at this current juncture in my life.

But if the price comes down, I would have to reevaluate. Currently, I do not wish to reduce my power consumption requirements. Horrible as that might seem to folks, that is reality.

At some point, the cost will be acceptable to folks and many more people will move over to individual power systems augmented by big power.

A depressing anecdote

Today I took my mom and one of my sisters on a miniature "Sideways" jaunt, by driving around to some North Carolina vineyards to do some wine-tasting. Actually, they did the tasting, since I'm a good boy these days and have put away the evil spirits for good (tell it, Steve).

Anyway, I informed my passengers that, in return for my sacrifice (it was actually my idea anyway :) ), they were to assist me in spotting Solar arrays on homes or other structures. I had it in my mind to take some digital pics so I could compare the different set-ups people had, which types of homes they were on, how many panels were used, etc.

I drove some 295 miles today, and we didn't spot a single Solar panel. Not one. My sister lives in Seattle, and Solar panels are virtually ubiquitous in some neighborhoods. I'm not talking about rich neighborhoods, just run-of-the-mill middle-class ones. Granted, being Green is not just in style in the Puget Sound area, it literally permeates the culture. But still. After all the conversations she and I have had about environmental issues and cool new technologies, for us to not see a single Solar panel was frankly embarassing.

New call to action:

We have to vigorously advocate for the proliferation of photovoltaic systems for both residential and business, with the goal of me not being embarassed the next time my Green sister comes to visit from Seattle. I cannot stress too much the importance of this worthy goal, especially since I have three (3) sisters who are all older than I am, and any loss of credibility on my part seriously impacts my ability to compete in family arguments.

I know you'll do the right thing.

I'd love to have some solar panels

but the last time I looked around for some the only thing I could find offered in the Piedmont was solar water heating panels. As I understand, this requires another water tank and I have NO room for one.

The one hundred year old house that I live in also has a steep pitch to the roof and lots of trees. It just doesn't seem like I'm destined to have solar here.

I agree there are perfect roofs out there though. I'd like to ask those who have specific information on vendors, available technology, and situations where solar can be used that they post it so it can be shared with friends and family.

Could we maybe even have an updateable informational reservoir of info permanently installed here on BlueNC?

a review of the available systems

in the Real Goods link for $26k complete. Well almost complete.

Bad thing about this is what is a 4kW system. How much do I need and how can I tell if 4 kW will work for me.

I have a portable generator that produces 3.6kW and it only runs my frig, one fan, tv, radio and one light. What is not covered is my heating/AC unit, water heater, stove, microwave, pool, computers! and the rest of the lights in my house. I do not wish to switch out from one thing to another just because my PV cells can’t handle the load. Technology should not require me to determine do I want hot water for a shower, or heat in the house. Should I cook today, or keep the food cold. Based on this calculator, this system will not truly benefit me. I will still be 300 to 1000kWH / month short forcing me to rely on the power company. While I have wonderful access to the sun, limited trees, I could actually put a wind generator on my land and harness wind, but the cost is just to prohibitive. I would not be able to stay in my house utilizing this green technology today. I have to utilize the power grid as of today.

If I expand this 4kW system over a 25 year timeframe, I am paying $86 a month (assuming no interest on this loan) + what ever additional power I need from the power company for electricity.

It is cheaper for me to avoid green then to go green. One way I can live, one way I have to move.

The idea is not

I have to utilize the power grid as of today.

to become totally independent of the power grid, it's to become one of (hopefully tens of thousands) a group who produce/harnass naturally occurring energy sources, thereby reducing the amount of the overall load that needs to be produced elsewhere.

I do not wish to switch out from one thing to another just because my PV cells can’t handle the load. Technology should not require me to determine do I want hot water for a shower, or heat in the house. Should I cook today, or keep the food cold.

Setting aside the issue of producing your own energy, taking steps to become more energy efficient and conservative are not nearly as painful as most people think:

Switching from incandescent to fluorescent lighting, for instance, actually improves your daily quality of life because the bulbs last much longer and draw fewer kilowatts, Incandescents also put out a whole lot of heat, which (in the Summertime) forces your AC to constantly displace.

Adjusting the target temperatures on systems such as water heaters, AC, refrigerators, etc., can have a huge impact on kilowatt usage, but people would still rather run some cold water into their bath so it doesn't burn them :) and let their dishwasher scorch the bejesus out of their dinnerware, and they want those leftovers to be cold enough that it takes three weeks to grow fungus on them instead of two.

There are others who are much better equipped to detail all of the efficiency steps that could/should be done in the home, so I'll give that one a rest (for now :) ).

Your conclusions about the prohibitive costs of installing residential Solar are mostly correct, and that is a shame. It's a tough nut to crack, but crack it we will.

The nut is on the shelf

and I am looking at ways to crack it. Right now I have not found the hammer that gets the shell off AND keeps the yummie meat intact.

But I have done some of the things you mentioned. I went from AC setting of 70 to 78 and my house is not miserably hot like I thought it would. I let my dishwasher drip dry vice burn the water off. just to name a few...yea, its small, but that nut's shell has cracks in it.

Not all that thrilled with paying $5+ for one light bulb.

My Best Investment

It didn't cost much (~$75) and it saves me bunches -

an attic fan installed in one end of the house. The thermostat is set at 100 degrees; when the temperature in the attic hits 100, the fan comes on. It's on a switch so I can shut it off in the winter (to keep the attic heat)

Know how often I run the AC?

Never.

Because I don't need to - and nope, no shade for this roof either.

I will admit I was tempted a couple of days last week - but then it rained and cooled us off and June is the month typically the worst for the heat/humidity combo.

Hopefully, I'm good for the no AC til next June.

Several months ago,

a company advertised on BlueNC that had a leasing or renting opportunity for solar energy for homeowners. (or something) I don't remember the details, but perhaps Lance the god of all things technical - or whoever deals with the advertising on the site - can pull that out of the memory banks. I think some of the people here looked into it further. My husband and I actually talked about it, but decided against it since we don't own our home.

I actually think there was a blogpost as well

The man behind the ad stopped by to join the discussion. Good memory. I'll see if I can scare it up. I'd forgotten about that.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.



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Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.