Jump to content

Pundit thinks that Tesla's batteries won't solve their short term problems...


wa_desert_rat

Recommended Posts

In this article a pundit for Business Insider says that Tesla's main business is cars and focusing on the new SUV and the new "mass market" vehicles are more important than the home battery everyone thinks is what Elon Musk is going to announce on April 30th.

 

http://www.businessinsider.com/a-home-battery-isnt-going-to-solve-teslas-short-term-challenges-2015-4

 

In the same article he says that Musk could become the Standard Oil of home and vehicle batteries.

 

The two biggest investments most Americans make are their homes and their cars. Sure, if you own a business (and the building your business is in) that would be big, too; but most people own neither a business nor a business building. So it looks to me like Elon Musk is CEO of the only outfits in the world that are aiming major products at both of these markets.

 

I have been saying for at least 20 years that enough solar panels on enough rooftops just in the US and we would never have to build another fossil-fuel or nuclear point-source generation plant. And it would be cheaper, too.

 

Musk is poised to dominate that market.

 

Of course the power utilities are going to fight this tooth-and-nail. In fact they already are. Some states are penalizing home solar for what the utilities are calling a "free ride" on the grid. And if they succeed they may see the one thing that they really would not want; large scale abandonment of the grid even by a population with an easy connection. Penalize them too much and Musk could step in and say "so what?. You don't need GE or whoever supplies your power. With solar panels and our battery bank you can be free of them for the rest of your life."

 

And with appliances like heat pumps on the market that can offer 16,000 btus of heating/cooling for 8,000 btus of electrical power a modern home with no connection to the grid is entirely possible. Even today. In five or ten years that might be ramping up to a majority of new homes on the market and a major renovation industry.

 

I'm not sure that he's poised to dominate the EV market though. I think plenty of people will be satisfied with 100 to 120 miles of EV coverage at a price point of around $20k and both of those are going to happen.

 

But no one is set up the way Musk is in the home power business.

 

WDR

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Right on WDR....

 

If I was building a house now (I won't be, but just imagine...) I'd likely build it to be total grid independent. I'd push to the grid, but I'd want to be totally independent. So that would require compromise with the battery bank at the moment. But not in the future. Plus if I was in a state that allowed it, I'd capture water from my roof and be independent on the water front as well. No problem doing that "most" places.

 

Times are gradually changing.....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Our plans for the northern "home base" (basically a 600 sq. ft. apartment adjoining my shop) are, right now, no grid in the apartment at all. Only grid connection will be the shop side (where we need 240vac for welders, air compressors, etc).

 

The apartment side will take advantage of the large 35-deg south-facing rooftop that will provide enough solar for a heat pump. Since we don't plan to spend much winter time there (head south after Thanksgiving and home some time in April) we shouldn't have any "heating" issues but we do expect cooling issues. Still, with the right battery bank and enough solar that is solvable.

 

Our local PUD has been corrupt for decades, rife with nepotism (question: why do you pay your employees so much more than the pay rate in this area? Answer: Because we have to search for employees all over the US. Question: Why is it then that you always hire sons, daughter, cousins, brothers and other relatives of the existing employees then... do they all live in New York or something?

 

No answer.

 

Musk is the right guy at the right time. Utilities are doomed unless they can come up with a new business plan. Some of them are partnering with Musk to lease solar to homeowners but that keeps control with the utility company. They'll decide how much to pay you for the power and how much to charge you for... well... for whatever.

 

The only way to be free of these folks is to disconnect.

 

Now if we can only figure out how to beat the insurance companies....

 

WDR

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Right on WDR....

 

If I was building a house now (I won't be, but just imagine...) I'd likely build it to be total grid independent. I'd push to the grid, but I'd want to be totally independent. So that would require compromise with the battery bank at the moment. But not in the future. Plus if I was in a state that allowed it, I'd capture water from my roof and be independent on the water front as well. No problem doing that "most" places.

 

Times are gradually changing.....

 

Why wouldn't you drill a well for water?? That is a LOT simpler than "harvesting" water from you roof.

 

We are totally independent EXCEPT for propane for heat while we are gone, hot water, and running the generator during cloudy periods in winter. Oh at this state in life, probably need gasoline for the snowblower!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

Why wouldn't you drill a well for water?? That is a LOT simpler than "harvesting" water from you roof.

 

We are totally independent EXCEPT for propane for heat while we are gone, hot water, and running the generator during cloudy periods in winter. Oh at this state in life, probably need gasoline for the snowblower!!

Not really. I'd pretty much filter it the same way. And roof collection - where it is possible to do - does not require a 240 volt pump running off of battery. I'm not saying water harvest is for everyone. But I have seen the system in action and it is quite successful assuming you have enough water available. Granted you have to store it, but that is not a big deal to do.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It all depends on how deep you have to go for water. If it's 50' then it's not so bad but if it's 600' you're going to shell out a bundle.

 

Then there are the restrictions on well drilling in many areas.

 

On our Royal City farm we took 150' of pipe out of a 200' well. The water table had risen that much over 50 years of canals leaking into the aquifer.

 

Harvesting water from a rooftop isn't difficult. Just a good filtration system (sand in a barrel) and some pumps running off solar. The DW plans to use water collected from our shop to drip irrigate her garden.

 

WDR

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It turns out that there's a name for what Jack and I were talking about a few posts up... "Grid Defection". As the price of solar power generation and energy storage systems drop down to near - or below - the price of grid power more rooftops will be festooned (I like that word) with solar panels. This obviously cuts into the business model that utility companies - both public and private - have carved out for themselves. The time may come when all the point-source power generation (coal, natural gas, hydro and even wind) will be doing is furnishing power at night and to high-power use facilities. Aluminum plants, silene producers (ironically enough - if you know what silene is used for) and large manufacturing outfits.

 

And night-time power to neighborhoods... right now the cheap power.

 

Some utilities have chose to fight this by refusing to hook up new grid-ties solar systems or imposing charges for "net metering". And this might be the equivalent of shooting themselves in the foot. Because it's very likely that homeowners - faced with increasing utility rates but decreasing solar generation costs - simply defect from the grid entirely. Utilities thus lose that source of power AND any income from those dark days when the panels don't quite cut it.

 

Then, what happens when entire neighborhoods notice that a dozen homes remain lit up and functioning during a wide area power failure? What will those neighbors think when they discover the excess charges made the owners of those homes give up the idea of routing their excess power back into a micro-grid that could allow others to have lights on? Because a micro-grid is entirely feasible today with modern grid components that many utilities refuse to install. Smart relays that identify outages and isolate areas electrically so that linemen can work on the outage without fear of electrocution but still allowing most homes to remain powered. (Today, despite technology, most linemen find power line faults by driving their trucks around during a power failure and looking for visible signs of the problem in order to begin fixing the issues.)

 

Nuclear, with a ten year lead time from idea to switch-on, are probably dead. Especially since they cost 5 times the cost today of using solar to generate the same power; and nuclear costs are going up while solar costs are going in the opposite direction.

 

Not many grid-tied solar fans are going to quibble at being paid wholesale rates for the power they generate but tacking on ridiculous (and imaginary) charges for the "grid" will move a lot of people off the grid entirely.

 

The next step in the utilities' bag of tricks will be trying to make moving off the grid illegal by vigorous lobbying of state and federal legislators and a large media campaign. In fact you can see the beginnings of that now But that will certainly look like an unconstitutional "taking" of private property and would eventually result in a court battle. If the utilities lose that sort of court battle they could lose a lot more besides; including the rights they have now under eminent domain.

 

http://www.edf.org/blog/2014/05/28/better-energy-storage-and-grid-defection-may-soon-upend-utility-industry?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social-media&utm_campaign=main-Tc

 

versus...

 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/utilities-sensing-threat-put-squeeze-on-booming-solar-roof-industry/2015/03/07/2d916f88-c1c9-11e4-ad5c-3b8ce89f1b89_story.html

 

It's going to be an interesting ten years.

 

WDR

Link to comment
Share on other sites

They are making micro grids. Those scare the utilities even more except the smart ones. http://energy.gov/articles/how-microgrids-work

Yes... but it's not the utility companies leading the way to microgrids... at best they're being dragged into it kicking and screaming. REC Solar has a silane plant about 8 miles from my house and the local public utility cannot keep them on line. REC has said that they will PAY to upgrade the substation outside their plant so it will be redundant and automated. When their power fails it takes them about 24 hours to get the plant back up to speed and that is a full day of production. But the PUD won't do it.

 

Of course, maybe the PUD has an ulterior motive to sabotage a silane plant...

 

The automation of the grid is certainly a national security issue... and it's not like the gear has to come from China. Here is a lab in Pullman, WA that makes the equipment needed to update the grid: https://www.selinc.com/

 

The stuff they make is not hobbyist equipment but certainly appropriate to the concept of micro grids and keeping power on for most people 24/7/365.

 

WDR

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I said "they" meaning solar distributed power scares the utility companies. They don't want community owned or neighborhood owned micro grids they can integrate but not control the profits and maintain monopolies over.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I said "they" meaning solar distributed power scares the utility companies. They don't want community owned or neighborhood owned micro grids they can integrate but not control the profits and maintain monopolies over.

Yes... I was not really trying to tell you anything... just amplifying. You and I seem to agree on this completely. I was a bit slow on realizing how far they were down the road towards making this all a reality. I've been talking up solar since 1982 when we put two 33-watt solar panels on our sailboat and headed into the tropics. Years later my log books show 30 minutes of engine use every week just to keep it lubricated. Otherwise solar and wind did it all. Of course we just had lights and radio... not much current draw.

 

The power companies want to control the power. If they have to put up with rooftop solar then they want to own the panels (and the power they produce) and make the home owner pay for leasing the panels. Otherwise it's all point-source with them.

 

Their business model is doomed. I think in 20 years the utility companies will be in charge of maintaining the grid and a few backup power systems (hydro along with point-source wind and solar). But the days of the giant utility outfits are numbered.

 

WDR

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Economies of scale kick in and it becomes affordable. The energy revolution had to come and the old have only two choices same as the young. The train is coming, they can get on board, or get run over. They aren't going to slow it down. EVs and solar, wind and waves all coming into general use or about to be. Some folks come in doing the status quo grumbles and groans.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I paid ~$5500.00 for a 15kw propane whole house backup genset a few years ago. It needs new battery, propane, oil and filter changes etc. The genset cost $3k, the 200 gallon propane tank1200.00, filling it $350 electrician to wire it in $750.00, propane tank installation and gas certification$75.00. It is noisy and emits toxic fumes so it must be kept outside in all weather.

 

I think everyone is missing that it is also for just home backup. It stays charged until the lights go out off the grid.

 

My wife and I look at each other when it kicks in, and can't help turning to each other and say that it will never offer $6k ROI, just a priceless quality of like addition.

 

We can say we never break even on a car and intrinsically it will not ROI except quality of life if you live in a city with public transport.

 

I think lots of folks also miss that the car companies don't need the oil companies to make cars and busses that run on electricity. The oil companies need them to keep us stuck in the last century.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

I think lots of folks also miss that the car companies don't need the oil companies to make cars and busses that run on electricity. The oil companies need them to keep us stuck in the last century.

Yes... we keep getting that backwards. Meanwhile the oil companies have a harder and harder time finding new oil to replace the stuff we burned up. I worked on drill rigs for quite a few years and it is truly amazing how hard it is to find new oil.

 

We need to get moving towards distributed solar and micro grids as quickly as possible. It's a national security issue now.

 

WDR

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The pay-back time for solar installations for houses is still very much based upon where the house is located. While there are locations that can be reasonably effectively supplied by sources that are now available, those areas are still quite limited. Unless you happen to be where it is sunny and/or windy nearly every day, it just is not cost effective. Batteries may be part of the answer and I'm sure that the day will come when it gets better, but most of us who build today are located in areas that "off grid" living is only for those who have very deep pockets.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The pay-back time for solar installations for houses is still very much based upon where the house is located. While there are locations that can be reasonably effectively supplied by sources that are now available, those areas are still quite limited. Unless you happen to be where it is sunny and/or windy nearly every day, it just is not cost effective. Batteries may be part of the answer and I'm sure that the day will come when it gets better, but most of us who build today are located in areas that "off grid" living is only for those who have very deep pockets.

What if we don't care about "payback"? What if a significant percentage of the world's population suddenly realizes that it's not about "return on investment" any more?

 

WDR

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What if we don't care about "payback"? What if a significant percentage of the world's population suddenly realizes that it's not about "return on investment" any more?

 

WDR

Yeah, that would be me....As long as it comes close to being economical I'll go for it. after all, there is no real payback for lots of things in life. It is a matter of peace of mind as much as anything.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

More nay-sayers with all sorts of imaginary issues plus comments from CEOs of companies producing competitive products. Funny that when all we had were lead-acid wet cells the arguments against solar were all about the battery and how we just needed better batteries (or "storage") to make it viable. Then, when someone comes up with better batteries on a large enough scale to actually be useful, it's still all about how it's not enough (using inflated household power statistics).

 

Yet I used solar panels when all we had were wet-cells and the only charge controller was a hefty germanium blocking diode and my (then new tech) digital voltmeter.

 

My "return on investment" strategy was based on the fact that I could not throw $500 into the ocean and come up with a charged battery so maybe I should buy something now.

 

That strategy works well in the desert too.

 

http://www.itworld.com/article/2918417/green-it/can-elon-musks-battery-really-cut-your-power-lines.html?phint=newt%3Ditworld_today&phint=idg_eid%3Dafbdce93df1132e5de07d306edf23bac#tk.ITWNLE_nlt_today_2015-05-05

 

WDR

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What if we don't care about "payback"? What if a significant percentage of the world's population suddenly realizes that it's not about "return on investment" any more?

No matter how honorable or high minded your intentions are, you still have to have sunshine for the solar system to supply you with a useful amount of energy. Many areas of this country are just not sunny enough of the time to be free of the grid. No battery will overcome a lack of sunny weather. For some reason, you just don't see many solar homes in Alaska..... :P

Link to comment
Share on other sites

No matter how honorable or high minded your intentions are, you still have to have sunshine for the solar system to supply you with a useful amount of energy. Many areas of this country are just not sunny enough of the time to be free of the grid. No battery will overcome a lack of sunny weather. For some reason, you just don't see many solar homes in Alaska..... :P

Wow... are you ever misinformed: http://www.solarpowerrocks.com/alaska/

 

Rate of return on solar investment in AK is 6.3% according to that website. Connection to the grid in AK is very expensive and then the power you draw is also expensive. Plus the residents of AK have learned how to live off the grid.

 

Solar panels do not need "sunshine"; they just need sunlight. Actually any light. A friend of mine with 1kw of panels on his 40' motor home reported 4-amps of charging while parked under the lights all night at Walmart. And while the ROI on panels is partly dependent upon politics, the ability of panels to let you control your own electrical power remains the same everywhere.

 

Solar panels actually pay off quicker in cloudy and rainy WA than they do in TX according to the link provided by CaseyJ (six years in WA versus 12 years in TX).

 

Any one can live off the grid almost anywhere; it's just a matter of balancing the power you need with the batteries that can provide it and the solar panels that can charge the batteries.

 

WDR

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I guess the solar pay back eludes me. I live in CO and in one of the areas where sunshine is abundant. Probably as good as it gets for solar. When I received bids from 3 different companies each had pay back calculations that stretched reality sometimes to extremes. Each company plugged in figures of the cost of grid electricity with high annual increases of up to 10 to 12% each year. History doesn't support that claim and I don't think we will see that. The figures indicated the cost of electricity would double every 6 to 8 years. When I used figures of around 3% the pay back stretched to more like 15 to 17 years if the power company continues solar friendly policies. The power company is trying to change some of these policies. I installed solar hot water panels for heat and hot water. Since I installed it myself the pay back was about 7 years. That is without goverment assistance. I can live with that!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

KIrk,

 

I beg to differ with you. That sounds like that Fox news report that said the reason the US is not doing as well with solar as Germany is because they get more sunlight than the US!! :lol::lol: I can supply the link privately if anyone emails me for it at RV at rvroadie dotcom It is in the middle of a 3 minute video that has too much politics in it too.

 

Now you are right it is not possible to get off the grid with just solar now, but that ignores the fact of the summers with almost no darkness, wind power, hydroelectric, and geothermal. For folks that have never been to Alaska for a summer have no clue about the solar energy then. Here is a quote from Wikipedia:

 

Guys check these out too!

 

"Solar power in Alaska has been primarily used in remote locations, such as the Nenana Teen Center, near Fairbanks, where long summer days provide most of the electricity generated. Rooftop solar panels could provide 23% of all electricity used in Alaska. Net metering is available for PV systems up to 25 kW but is limited to 1.5% of average demand. IREC best practices, based on experience, recommends no limits to net metering, individual or aggregate, and perpetual roll over of kWh credits.

 

In 2011, Alaska's largest solar array was the 17.28 kW array installed on a building in Anchorage.

 

A 12 kW solar array installed in Lime Village in July 2001 helped reduce electricity costs."

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_power_in_Alaska

 

The thing about Alaska is that it has wilderness all over the place and lots of wind daily as anyone who drove up the tundra road to Deadhorse and/or Prudhoe bay can readily attest to. They could likely get wind power for the whole state from a couple of thousand acres along the Alaska pipeline. Geothermal projects are well under way now too, initiated during a recent governor's terms in office: http://thinkgeoenergy.com/news/alaskan-renewable-energy-plan-and-geothermal/

 

Have you heard of REAP?

http://alaskarenewableenergy.org/

 

You see it takes a custom solution for each area and it will be 20 years before the plans now under way are realized. In the meantime, with fossil demand dropping faster each year, the price of fossil fuels will drop a lot too. Trying to hold back renewable energy sources will go down in the history books as a side note to stupidity in hindsight 30 years from now. Imagine how we would remember it if the steam engine folks fought against the advent of fossil fuels. No one fought to stop fossil fuels from taking over for steam, did they?

 

For some spectacular pics of the geothermal, water, offshore wind projects, and solar projects already completed go Justin Gerdes fabulous article called "The Triumph Of Clean Energy" here: http://www.paradigmcg.com/digitaleditions/aam-0415/index.html and at the bottom of the page in the rectangle with arrows punch in 64 for page 64 of the Alaskan Airlines magazine, with some spectacular pics. They show a new Danish turbine that delivers 8MW of power enough for 30,000 households according to the story. Kodiak Island gets kudos for reaching their 2020 energy goals to go all renewables, last year! Steady winds propelled them to 99.7% of all their power coming from Wind and hydroelectric, which allowed Kodiak Electric utility to save $4.5 million! Electric bills would be 20% higher if they had stayed with fossil fuels.

 

See they have no pipelines just diesl deliveries for big generators and that is very expensive. The Alaskans are way ahead of the rest of the US in alternative energy, solar equally as important as the others.

 

Exciting times, no?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
×
×
  • Create New...