Tag Archives: solar

Short December Days Lead to Low Solar Output

 

December 21st was the shortest day of 2018.   Given the short days of December solar output is usually fairly dismal:

December 2018

A monthly total of ~157 kWh is roughly on par with the prior year’s production, so it is a trend that December basically sucks for solar.  At least it will get better in January as the days get longer!

On a related note, I am a few days away from signing on the dotted line for a used Nissan Leaf EV.  The next step is to contact the good people at Moxie Solar, the installers of my current solar array, to see about expanding my system.  In order to produce enough electricity for my anticipated driving I will need to install at least 8 290 watt panels but I would like to install anywhere from 12 to 14 290 watt panels.  We shall see what they say.

Until next time.

 

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Friday Linkage 12/21/2018

Ryan Zinke is not the worst Interior Secretary in history.  That distinction belongs to Albert B. Fall who actually went to prison.  Ryan Zinke is just number two.

At least we now get to say that Ryan Zinke was the Secretary of the Interior in 2019.  Trying to look on the bright side of things.

On to the links…

Ryan Zinke’s Legal Troubles Are Far From Over—The modus operandi of the Trump administration is to get in, get corrupt, and hopefully get out before the posse comes to drag you out of your office.  However, with Democrats taking control of the House of Representatives in January there is sure to be some uncomfortable hearings with former cabinet officials.  Oh, and resigning does not get you out of investigations into breaking the law.

New Poll Shows Basically Everyone Likes Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal—I hope that the Democratic leadership in Congress sees these poll numbers and takes the message to heart.  People like these ideas.  A politician can run on these ideas and win.

The Suburbs are the Spiritual Home of Overconsumption. But they also Hold the Key to a Better Future—I want this thesis to be true on so many levels.  I want to imagine a future where acres of boring suburban lawns are turned into kitchen gardens and food forests.  I want to imagine a time when all of our roofs are covered in solar panels and we glide gently by on bicycles.

Congress just Legalized Hemp. That’s Huge for the CBD Industry.—Think about that headline for a moment.  Congress just legalized hemp.  If you do not think that full legalization will happen soon you are not paying attention.

It’s Time to Stretch Out the U.S. Offshore Wind Pipeline—This is the next boom area in renewables.  As the pipeline for onshore wind matures into its slow growth cycle and solar does its thing, offshore wind will allow communities in places like the heavily populated eastern seaboard to get green power.

New Offshore Windfarms Push UK Renewables to Record—A third—yes, a third—of the UK’s electricity came from renewable sources in the period from July through September.  Do you remember a time when critics of renewables said that these sources could never amount to anything more than a few percent?

Solar Power Achieved a New England Milestone on Chilly Thanksgiving—This is a geeky energy graph:

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The dusty rose colored space under the dashed line represents how solar power cut the peak off of the projected demand from the grid.  That is good stuff.

Next-gen EV Charger Adds 62 miles of Range in Three Minutes—This is the missing link for a lot of people unwilling to adopt an electric vehicle.  Now imagine plugging you EV in, going to get a latte, and coming out to another couple hundred miles in range.

Can Cross-Laminated Timber Save the World?—Probably not save the world, but it would be a lot better if we built more things out of wood as opposed to steel and concrete.

Australia Cuts 80% of Plastic Bag Use in 3 Short Months—This just shows that if you cut things off at the source big changes follow.

Our Lock-and-Leave Culture: The Rise of Self-Storage and Clinging to Stuff We Hardly Use—I hate mini storage with a passion.  It is one thing if you are storing stuff because of a move to a far away location or as a temporary solution, but if you are renting one of these off-site closets to store whatever then the problem is you.

The Spare Button Represents all the Ways We Fail to be Good Consumers—The saddest thing to me is that we think of ourselves as consumers first and foremost.  Not humans, but consumers.

November was the Lowest Solar Production Ever

This past November was the weakest month ever for my solar system’s electricity production:

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Just 144.4 kWh.  That’s it…144.4 kWh…I feel like Bob Uecker’s character in Major League discussing the woeful Cleveland Indians’ game stats.

The silver lining, so to speak, is that we did not use very much electricity in November.  All in, the household ended the month about 60 kWh in the red.

December, January, and February are likely to be pitiful months for solar production based on the prior year’s production history.  However, an upgrade is on the horizon.

An upgrade just over a year into ownership?  Yes, my friends I am looking to add solar capacity in anticipation of acquiring an electric car.  No Tesla for me.  I have a line on a used Nissan Leaf for a good price that will serve as my daily drive.  According to my calculations, based on observed system performance, an addition 8 290 watt panels or a 50% increase in system size should cover more than 100% of my in town driving for the year.

Actually, it will cover more than 100% but I want to build in some buffer for months like November.  Stay tuned…

Friday Linkage 11/30/2018

I feel that this article on CNBC.com just about nails the past two years:

Donald Trump’s all-GOP government in Washington ends a two-year run as it began, by struggling to govern at all.

The president who vowed to make America great again has rattled financial markets, reduced farm exports and raised manufacturing costs with his tariff policies. As growth slows, he blames the Federal Reserve for raising interest rates and threatens General Motors for closing plants.

The president who promised law and order, having previously fired the FBI director, fired his attorney general over the Justice Department’s Trump-Russia investigation. The acting attorney general has been openly hostile to the probe.

The president who insisted Mexico would finance a border wall now wants American taxpayers to pay as a condition of keeping their government open. Congress doesn’t intend to build the wall, so the government could shut down next week.

Thus completes the chaotic circle of governance by Trump and the GOP Congress: fanciful promises, contradictory priorities, presidential provocations that Republicans won’t rein in. Voters responded this month by handing the House to Democrats.

Obamacare survived. The better, cheaper Republican alternative never existed.

The infrastructure plan Trump promised business and blue-collar supporters has not materialized. GOP congressional leaders prefer to spend on tax cuts.

Republicans delivered tax cuts, but not as advertised. Proceeds profited the wealthy far more than the middle class and ballooned the budget deficit, with no evidence of giving the economy more than a short-term stimulative boost.

Trump’s abandonment of the fight against climate change has not revived the coal industry, which keeps closing unprofitable facilities. The president answers his own government’s warnings about the climate by saying he doesn’t believe them.

Republican congressional leaders want cuts in Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security to shrink government, reduce deficits and relieve pressure for tax hikes. Trump vows to protect those popular benefits.

Tough executive branch oversight, which preoccupied Obama-era Republicans, vanished when their party won the White House. Lawmakers who talked of prosecuting Hillary Clinton skipped past Ivanka Trump’s use of personal email for government business.

Unlike Obama, Trump has supplied a steady stream of genuine scandal. Cabinet members and senior presidential aides have departed under ethical clouds, while Trump’s former national security advisor and campaign chairman confessed to felonies.

Unprecedented turnover and turmoil hinder White House operations. Trump has filled just over half the administration jobs important enough to require Senate confirmation.

How Republicans attempted to retain power in this fall’s elections exposed the chasm between their policies and public sentiment. Most voters believe the GOP tax cut has not made them better off, so Trump promised a new one.

Republicans who earlier favored repeal ran as defenders of a principal Obamacare achievement — guaranteed coverage for people with pre-existing health conditions. Trump accused Democrats, rather than his own party, of threatening Medicare.

On Election Day, Americans issued their verdict. They cast 9 million more votes for Democrats than Republicans in House races, the largest margin in midterm election history.

Yep, that pretty much sums it up.

On to the links…

Trump’s Latest Talking Points on Climate Change Will Make Your Brain Hurt So Bad—This is what happens when a minority of the American people elect a coddled man child with the intellectual capacity of a fifth grader throwing a temper tantrum about chicken nuggets.

The White House Talking Points About the National Climate Assessment Are Demonstrably False—There has to be a special place in hell for Sarah Huckabee Sanders who has spent her time in the Trump Administration glibly lying her way to a position as a commentator on Fox News.

Solar Energy Beats Coal On Critical Infrastructure Resilience—Remember when Rick Perry was going to save coal and nuclear plants by using an obscure national security rationale?  Looks like renewables are good for a resilient grid after all.

US Could Meet Paris Emissions Pledge with ‘Natural Climate Solutions’—Restoration and better management of our natural resources could go a long way in helping us mitigate the worst effects of climate change.  These are not exotic technological solutions waiting for discovery.

Climate Change: Report says ‘Cut Lamb and Beef’—No surprise here, but the evidence is getting to be as damning as that against smoking.  Eating beef and lamb is bad for the environment.  It’s just a question of how bad.

Massive 14-Year Oil Spill Ordered To Be Cleaned As Leaks Continue—It is appalling that this has taken fourteen years and over 150 million gallons of oil to finally come to this solution.

Colorado Joins California Low Emission Vehicle Program In Rebuke To Trump—Our federal government is hamstrung by the fact that the Senate is controlled by a minority of Americans.  However, the states with the most population and dynamic economies can move forward with climate sensible policies.

FedEx is Getting 1,000 More Electric Delivery Vans—FedEx has over 60,000 trucks so 1,000 is not a sea change, but it is a start.

Meanwhile In China, The Electric Mobility Revolution Is In Full Swing—There is a lot to dislike or even loathe about China—Muslim “reeducation” camps in the western part of the country for example—but the command driven economy is really moving forward on electric mobility.

The Case Against Cruises—Apparently, cruises are a disaster for the environment and the communities in which these mega ships port.  I always liked the line about cruises being the penultimate example of “premium medicore.”

Lettuce is Stupid and You Shouldn’t be Eating it Now Anyway—Lettuce is just a refrigerated water delivery vehicle.  Salads are a waste.  Never mind that eating lettuce is about the most likely way to get food poisoning anymore.

Friday Linkage 11/9/2018

The midterm election is over save for the inevitable recounts, runoffs, and lawsuits.  So, it is not really over.  Heck, if you are anything like Donald Trump you will never get over the last election.  Just saying.

If anyone thought that Democrats taking back the House of Representatives was going to serve as a check on Trump’s worst instincts think again.  Within twenty four hours he was already back to his Orwellian self when he held a press conference full of combative lies and followed it up with a Soviet style doctored video to support his banishment of Jim Acosta from the White House.  We live in strange times indeed.

On to the links…

How ‘Makers’ Make the Classroom More Inclusive—Maybe we need to make school a little less about preparing for tests and more about making things.  I do not care if kids are making art or wooden clocks or theater productions because being responsible for the creation of something is instruction in and of itself.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke might Face a Criminal Investigation—Right now is not a good time to be a grifter in the employ of Donald Trump.  Ryan Zinke is not facing an ethics complaint, he is facing a freaking criminal investigation for being a con artist and thief.

UN says Earth’s Ozone Layer is Healing—It was not all political news.  Too bad China is not honoring commitments to phase out certain ozone destroying compounds and is, instead, allowing for unregulated use.

Voters Raise Nevada Renewables Goal to 50%, NV Energy Has $2B Plans—Nevada’s goal of 15% renewable energy by 2025 was rejected by voters in favor of 50% by 2030.  Way to go Nevada.

Navajo Nation Eyes Utility-Scale Solar with Growing Interest—The Navajo Nation possesses a lot of land with a lot of solar potential in the southwest United States.  Think about some of that land being deployed to produce clean, green utility scale solar fed into the grid.

Indiana Utility Submits Plan to Move from Coal to Renewables—Losing Indiana to renewable energy is pretty bad for coal because the Hoosier State is surprisingly reactionary in its right wing attitudes toward anything that might be labelled progressive.  You know that the economics favor renewables when this is the headline.

Scottish Utility goes 100% Renewable, Pushes Electric Vehicles too—If it’s not Scottish, it’s crap!  Could not help myself.  I love me some So I Married an Axe Murderer.

British Renewables Hits 42 Gigawatts & Surpasses Fossil Fuels—I am sure that someone will put a half dozen caveats on these numbers, but renewables are a big part of the grid.  There was a time when most “experts,” probably just shills hired by coal and gas companies, said that renewables could not be more than a sliver of the grid because of unreliability, etc.  Reality has proven them wrong.

The Secret Power of the Flexitarian—The power is in being flexible in achieving your goal.

American Diet Changes Gut Bacteria of Immigrants—This might not be so bad, but apparently the resulting changes lead to an increase in conditions like diabetes, obesity, etc.

One Third of Britons has Drastically Reduced Meat Consumption—This was not done in response to any major external stimuli like a war or depression.  Imagine what is possible in this world if we would just decide to live less destructive lives.

Fish Fingers Surprisingly Sustainable, say Conservationists—Fish sticks, or fish fingers to those of you across the pond, are the offal of the seafood aisle.  In my house fish sticks still get some love, but we also happen to be big fans of catfish.

Finland: Where Second-Hand Comes First—Think about the impact if we all thought about buying something secondhand before buying new.  Sure, new stuff would need to be made to feed the consumption cycle at some point but a world of more durable and high quality goods is a better place.

Embracing Inconvenience—We could all use a little more inconvenience in our lives.

An October Surprise for My Solar System

It is five days until election day.  I cannot stress how important it is that everyone who is legally eligible to vote goes to the polls to cast a vote.

October turned out to be a decent month for solar:

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Production for 2018 beat the production from the same month in 2017 by a little bit.   According to my calculations I also ended the month in positive territory (production minus consumption) to the tune of ~45 kWh.  I say it was a surprising month for production because the month started out very gray with a lot of rain.  You can see the low production numbers for several days, but the sun came out at the back half of the month to bring in more than 316 kWh of clean, green electricity.

An unexpected car repair—nothing says welcome home quite like coming back from vacation and having your car not start—got my wife and I thinking about a new car.  Naturally, as someone who has a solar array on top of their house an electric vehicle of some sort is part of the consideration set.  The hard part, beyond the financial commitment of a new car which is something significant to consider after having zero car payments for the past five years, is comparable vehicles.  Is a Chevy Bolt, or Volt for that matter, really comparable to a Tesla Model 3?  Where does the Nissan Leaf fit into the equation?

In the end the part that got me the most excited about this discussion was how much solar photovoltaic capacity I would need to add to my roof to generate enough electricity to account for our annual driving of a single vehicle.  In an average year we drive less than 10,000 miles for either of the vehicles in our garage.  Some years it is quite less if we do not take any extended road trips, which are one of our indulgences.

How does 10,000 miles equate into electricity?  Based on a cursory search of various message boards for EV owners I am going to use a figure of 3.5 miles per kilowatt hour of electricity.  Therefore, a system would need to produce ~2,850 kWh per year to account for 10,000 miles of driving.  Based on the actuals from my current solar photovoltaic array I figure that I would need to add 9 or 10 290 watt panels, which are equivalent to what is on my roof today.  At a cost of $2.5 per watt installed I would be looking at $7250 before state and federal incentives.

Does anyone realize how scary that idea must be for oil companies?  With just 10 panels on a west facing roof in Iowa I can account for 100% of my annual miles driven at a cost of little more than seven thousand dollars.  No gas stations, no wars in the Middle East, no refineries…yeah, that is truly scary for oil companies.  The revolution will be powered by the sun!

Friday Linkage 11/2/2018

It is four days until election day.  I will start every post for next eleven days with the same message.

I just spent a few days in central Florida—hence the light linkage this Friday—and I do not remember ever being assaulted with that many political ads.  It’s not just the headliner races for Senate and Governor, but down ballot races were all over the airwaves.  It actually continued during my time driving south from Minneapolis where ads for the state’s attorney general race were omnipresent on the radio.

Thinking I escaped it all was but a wispy dream when I opened my mailbox to a flood of mailers for Iowa races.  Damn, I cannot wait until Wednesday.

I understand that it is hyperbole, to some extent, in claiming that this is the most important election in history.  However, I do believe that this may be the most important election in my lifetime.  At least until 2020.

On to the links…

Zinke and Trump Are Ignoring the Public—One of the tropes of the 2016 election was that of the “liberal snowflake” who was too brittle of psyche to handle direct criticism of foundational beliefs.  Does anyone find it funny just how scared of the public that Republican leaders are right now?  Who was really the “snowflake” all along?

‘Unfit to Serve’? US Interior Secretary Faces Fresh Ethics Scrutiny—Is “unfit to serve” going to be the term that describes the Trump era in American history?

A Guide to the Ryan Zinke Investigations—Just a handy breakdown of the corruption at the head of the Department of Interior.

The Older Kids Get, the Less Time They Spend Outdoors—This is probably true for most of us.  As we get older we spend less time outdoors.  Maybe that is a reason why we, as a society, are so broken.

Electric Vehicles are Going to Render the Fight over Fuel Economy Standards Moot—Trump can try and turn back the clock for automobile fuel efficiency, coal, or whatever strikes his Diet Coke addled brain at the moment but the march of progress is constant.

7 US States Set To Double Their Wind Capacity—These are good numbers, but not great.  I would like to see Iowa get back on the list of states deploying a lot of wind although I believe that the numbers for the fourth quarter of the year will be strong because of a few projects coming on line.

Is Australia on the Verge of Having too Much Solar Energy?—In short, no.  Do you notice a trend with these arguments?  First, it was renewables would be too small a percentage of the overall electricity supply to be relevant.  Second, it was renewables were too intermittent to be a reliable source of power.  Now, it is the threat of too much renewable energy.  If someone keeps moving the goal posts for measuring success you know you are doing something right that scares the shit out of them.

Coal Report says Australian Exports have Peaked and are in ‘Terminal Long-Term Decline’—My dad used to say that these large industries are like dinosaurs.  Even though they may be dead it takes a long time for them to roll over so that anyone actually notices.  The best thing we can do is find ways to hasten the decline.  Push that snowball downhill.

Tall Wood gets Green Light from Building Code—From the boring but important files.  Building codes are boring.  Like, very boring.  However, so much of what we build is determined by how building codes are implemented and adopted.

Low Cost, Low Energy Cooling System Shows Promise—On a hotter planet reducing the energy need for cooling will be a critical pieces in the fight to erase climate change.