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How many PV solar panels would it take...?

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How many PV solar panels would it take...?

Old 04-27-2019, 04:49 AM
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Hi crazybeard

I used 250w panels because here cheap and plentiful. My assumption of a 250w panel only giving 1 kWh per day allows for less Han optimal mounting, no tracking an the occasional cloud. With perfect weather, perfect tracking mounting etc, they could give more hanouble that. The include battery allows for some peak shifting and usage when the sun isn’t shining. A dc coupled battery and inverter per panel is for simplicity and fault tolerance, but it was mainly for my simplicity of costing based on units I had recently researched (installed price in Aussie dollars, with a decent allowance for a quality dc coupled battery) mounting the battery between the panel and the inverter helps with efficiency and uses less inverters...


you say perfectly mounted 250w panels would only require ~625 million panels or “about half of what I came up with”, 625 million is not half of my 11 billion. Then again, your suggestion of ~4.5 billion 390w panels does seem to be in the right ball park. Assuming your 390w panels are newer and more efficient than my example (not hard), they should be able to occupy similar space pe panel, so 2 square meters per panel is reasonable (allowing space between groups of panels for access etc), 4.5 billion lots of 2 square meters is 9 billion square meters, is just shy of 35000 square miles, or ~120 million house roofs.

distributed across a dry wide area, such a system should not need too much additional stuff to feed into the grid, certainly no more than 400 odd nuclear reactors would. OTOH try an locate it all in one spot, you’ll just vapourise transformers and feeder lines....

dont forget in your nuclear option costing,to add in the cost of the fuel, and disposal of waste after its spent. How often do reactors need refueling and at what cost?
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Old 04-27-2019, 04:52 AM
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Originally Posted by AUTiger98 View Post
The electric utility industry speaks in terms of kilowatts and megawatts, hence the terrakw reference. I agree, it could have been written simpler but I'm sure the author was keeping it the terms used by the industry.
the kinda embarrassing bit,is that the OP didnít introduce the terminology - I did :-( from my searching for us annual usage data - itís all there in my first post
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Old 04-27-2019, 05:03 AM
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Originally Posted by mickt243 View Post
Further rough numbers (based on the 10kw system I had installed recently), and assuming $1k for a 1KWh battery....and sticking to 250w panels, because they are plentiful and cheap....

lets break the system down, so as to not have all ~80GWh/d production in a single spot (the grid would melt!)

82,200,000 - for simplicity and redundancy, letís round up to 100 million units, of a single 250w panel, micro inverter and 1KWh battery, will cost somewhere in the vicinity of $1500us per unit.

total installed cost of $150,000,000,000. Not that bad really....... again, triple it fro weather resistance etc.
half a trillion...... whats the replacement cost of a power Plant? Fuel costs?

how many houses in the us? 10 units per house on 30 million houses, youíd get a lot mor on factories and warehouses..... so a low install cost per house/building

Bad assumption. Every house, factory, warehouse, etc is not a candidate for rooftop solar. Trees, other buildings, structure orientation, geography, etc greatly diminishes the number of candidates.

The cost to build a new gas/oil combined cycle power plant is anywhere between $750 - $1300 per kw. So on the high end, a 1,000 MW CC unit costs approximately $1.3 billion to build (currently). I'm not sure how many are being built with this type of capacity. I want to say most of the new construction plants are currently about 860 MW. In a regulated state, fuel costs are a pass through to the customer.
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Old 04-27-2019, 05:04 AM
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Originally Posted by mickt243 View Post


the kinda embarrassing bit,is that the OP didnít introduce the terminology - I did :-( from my searching for us annual usage data - itís all there in my first post
Ha! I completely missed that (obviously!).
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Old 04-27-2019, 05:28 AM
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Originally Posted by AUTiger98 View Post
Bad assumption. Every house, factory, warehouse, etc is not a candidate for rooftop solar. Trees, other buildings, structure orientation, geography, etc greatly diminishes the number of candidates.

The cost to build a new gas/oil combined cycle power plant is anywhere between $750 - $1300 per kw. So on the high end, a 1,000 MW CC unit costs approximately $1.3 billion to build (currently). I'm not sure how many are being built with this type of capacity. I want to say most of the new construction plants are currently about 860 MW. In a regulated state, fuel costs are a pass through to the customer.
true, not every roof is suited to solar, but those that are are a better proposition for solar than repurposing farm land or digging up environmentally sensitive areas (both of which have happened here)

other than that, please disregard that whole post of mine - Iíve already said it contains errors
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Old 04-27-2019, 07:49 AM
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Originally Posted by mickt243 View Post
I used 250w panels because here cheap and plentiful. My assumption of a 250w panel only giving 1 kWh per day allows for less Han optimal mounting, no tracking an the occasional cloud. With perfect weather, perfect tracking mounting etc, they could give more hanouble that. The include battery allows for some peak shifting and usage when the sun isnít shining. A dc coupled battery and inverter per panel is for simplicity and fault tolerance, but it was mainly for my simplicity of costing based on units I had recently researched (installed price in Aussie dollars, with a decent allowance for a quality dc coupled battery) mounting the battery between the panel and the inverter helps with efficiency and uses less inverters...
If you're going to factor in tracking units to improve efficiency, then you must also add the significant purchase and installation costs that goes with it. They also require much more spacing between the cells so that one cell won't overlap another cell's sunshine. THEN, you'd have to add the significant costs of maintenance of those tracking systems, because they will CONSTANTLY have motors, sensors, and bearings failing among other things.

Originally Posted by AUTiger98 View Post
Bad assumption. Every house, factory, warehouse, etc is not a candidate for rooftop solar. Trees, other buildings, structure orientation, geography, etc greatly diminishes the number of candidates.
Cut the damn trees down!!! (which is kinda funny, as there have been many solar installations that have done exactly that, and then tout that they're "saving the planet from CO2", most of which would have been consumed by the trees if they hadn't cut them down!!)


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Old 04-27-2019, 05:03 PM
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Originally Posted by crazybeard View Post

cost wise, we have about 100 Nuclear reactors with capacity of 100,000MW so about 2.4B kWh. That means we need another 390 reactors to meet the current demand with nuclear only at $6billion each that's around $2.35 trillion.




I was writing a post about nuclear reactors based on the plant in AZ, but I wasnt certain of my calculations so I erased it. It was roughly 100 sq miles of land use to generate the quoted power for the nation running at 80% capacity and roughly adding another 150 power stations the size of the one in AZ. The cost came out to $15 billion.

I didnt trust my calculations tho. If someone wants to run the numbers.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palo_V...rating_Station

The Palo Verde Generating Station is located on 4,000 acres
Thermal capacity3 ◊ 3990 MW
Capacity 93.77% in 2017 and 82.8% lifetime
Annual net output 32,340 GWh in 2017

China has also just put a new reactor online, Taishan which consists of two 1750 MW reactors. Cost is/was roughly $8.5b USD for 3500 MW at 100% capacity.

Last edited by clear; 04-27-2019 at 05:11 PM.
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Old 04-27-2019, 07:01 PM
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I think the conversation going on about the size of the plant, whether it's 100 square miles or 1000 square miles, is pretty much a moot point. The United States has an area of about 3.8 million square miles. I think we could tuck a few of Elon's solar farms in there somewhere. I think that multiple smaller plants tying into the existing grid really sounds like a more viable solution.
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Old 04-27-2019, 07:31 PM
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You guys missed the most important thing in this thread. Corndog38 figured out how to like something twice!

Post 35.



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Old 04-27-2019, 08:54 PM
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I've been watching FPL install the panels on one of their new solar farms for the last couple of months. It's just north of Fort Pierce. They're currently building solar farms around the state. There must be some economical advantage to it
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Old 04-28-2019, 07:39 AM
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While I would certainly agree that any solution would be more appropriate if it was distributed across the whole country rather than concentrated in one state, the fact is that this started around the comment about placing all the capacity in AZ. This is likely because they have some pretty idea conditions for solar PV, which wouldn't apply to a lot of other technologies like wind turbines, combined-cycle gas generation or nuclear power.

So, with that, lets just assume all the generation capacity is stuck in AZ. Ignore all the transportation logistics of getting it out of there with massive transmission lines.

We also might have a problem with the massive generation of heat. Regardless of the generation method, there's going to be a huge concentration of wasted heat developed. If you need to deliver 3.95 trillion kWh, that means you're going to generate somewhere between 18,000,000,000,000,000 and 36,000,000,000,000,000 BTUs of heat depending on the efficiency of the method used to generate the electricity. Imagine what impact that would have to the local climate in AZ or in neighboring NM. Think it's a "dry heat" there now??
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Old 04-28-2019, 03:51 PM
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Due to the unreliable nature of solar, the question is irrelevant.
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Old 04-28-2019, 04:16 PM
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Not to change the subject, but the next step for commercial power is storage. If they can run power plants base loaded at peak efficiency all night when demand is low and store that power for peak demand during the day, it will lower the cost and need for new plants. Might be a good investment opportunity for leading capacitor companies or other storage technologies.
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Old 04-28-2019, 08:10 PM
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Originally Posted by OReely View Post
I think the conversation going on about the size of the plant, whether it's 100 square miles or 1000 square miles, is pretty much a moot point. The United States has an area of about 3.8 million square miles. I think we could tuck a few of Elon's solar farms in there somewhere. I think that multiple smaller plants tying into the existing grid really sounds like a more viable solution.


This is how itís being done at the moment. Itís the most economically efficient way. Plant size are limited by regulations.

Iím not familiar with tge regulations, but there is a reason solar plants in FL are below 75 MW
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Old 04-28-2019, 08:13 PM
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Originally Posted by FishnDive View Post
I've been watching FPL install the panels on one of their new solar farms for the last couple of months. It's just north of Fort Pierce. They're currently building solar farms around the state. There must be some economical advantage to it
Yes, Sunray Energy Plant, it should have gone commercial operation already. Our company did some testing and commissioning there.

I think there is a commercial reason they built this plant in plan sight view from the highway, to get people interested in the solar arena. Land is more expensive there than other locations where they built over the last 2 years. There is another solar farm a couple of miles west of that one.

Last edited by JoseG; 04-29-2019 at 07:26 AM.
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Old 04-28-2019, 10:07 PM
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You don’t have to worry much about powering Hawaii with solar from Arizona. The biggest problem with solar in Hawaii is having to put panels on North-facing as well as South-facing roofs. For about five weeks a year the sun is to the North so South-facing panels go dark at the period of peak demand.
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Old 04-29-2019, 04:48 AM
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Want some cheap, environmentally friendly storage check out pumped hydro, us Aussies are leading the way! Roif top solar now generating enough to overload our current grid as storage is limited but with pumped hydro and smarter distribution networks the technology gets more and more viable. Rome wasn't built in a day but its coming fast now. Tesla out sells merc in the US and is closing in on BMW!
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Old 04-29-2019, 05:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Marky mark View Post
Want some cheap, environmentally friendly storage check out pumped hydro, us Aussies are leading the way! Roif top solar now generating enough to overload our current grid as storage is limited but with pumped hydro and smarter distribution networks the technology gets more and more viable. Rome wasn't built in a day but its coming fast now. Tesla out sells merc in the US and is closing in on BMW!
Our lake house is on a pump storage lake used for peak demand.
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Old 04-29-2019, 06:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Marky mark View Post
Want some cheap, environmentally friendly storage check out pumped hydro, us Aussies are leading the way! Roif top solar now generating enough to overload our current grid as storage is limited but with pumped hydro and smarter distribution networks the technology gets more and more viable. Rome wasn't built in a day but its coming fast now. Tesla out sells merc in the US and is closing in on BMW!
Marky mark,

We have been using pumped hydro here in the US since the 1930's. I'm not so sure I would consider it particularly "environmentally friendly" although it has created a lot of high value real lake front real estate and increased the tax base on what was once forest and agricultural land.

I recently read an article on Hawaii having a problem with too much roof top solar. During peak generating hours, the panels saturate the grid and pose a danger to the base load generation and transmission system. Hawaii is trying to figure out the best way to deal with this "good problem". Interestingly, Hawaii has the ideal situation to make solar PV work and yet they still struggle and project they will not achive 100% renewable power until 2045. They have a very high cost per kw/hr for conventional generation ($.30 kw/hr) which incentivizes home owners to install PV. However, someone has to pay for the infrastructure to support this and the utilities have no vested benefit in doing it as they will lose load and profits.

What I don't understand is why Hawaii has not utilized geothermal power more, as they have done in Iceland. I give Iceland the renewable energy award. Less than 2% of generated electricity today is from from fossil fuels. It is primarily hydroelectric followed by geothermal. They need no wind or PV. It is clean and efficient and does not require cutting down acres of forestland or use of agricultural land for obscene fields of glass.

But back to the topic. Tesla is talking about battery storage for solar generation in Hawaii at a proposed cost of $0.14 kw/hr. Imagine paying to install your rooftop solar system, then being charged a storage fee for the power you do not use, and paying the utility $.30 kw/hr for baseload power when your panels are not producing what you need. Talk about a kick in the keyster.

I will give this much to Elon. He does have the foresight to understand that the more cars he sells, the more peak shift we will see to hours when solar generation capacity is 0. This means some type of electrical storage is critical to his success. Since pumped storage is not viable in all areas, he is banking on battery storage and investing huge sums of money in scaling up battery production. Will this gamble pay off? Hard to say. I don't see it as particulary clean or efficient and doubt that the carbon footprint of PV, Batteries, and overpowered EV's, is much less than that of its dino based counterparts. I am a firm believer that the only real solution is efficiency and conservation. Consumption and "free" power typically drives the conservation pendulum in the wrong direction.
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Old 04-29-2019, 06:39 AM
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Hmmmmm...having all the power generation for the entire USA in one central spot...what could go wrong? It's kind of a good plan to have multi fuel generating facilities spread all over the country.All fuels have benefits and drawbacks but coal,oil and gas is pretty much drop dead reliable and abundant.
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