Join Early Retirement Today
Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
More photovoltaic solar installed on Oahu in 2012 than in the last decade... combined
Old 12-27-2012, 12:54 AM   #1
Moderator Emeritus
Nords's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Oahu
Posts: 26,620
More photovoltaic solar installed on Oahu in 2012 than in the last decade... combined

More PV installations on Oahu this year than in past decade combined - Pacific Business News

Quote:
It was quite a “hot” year for Hawaii’s solar photovoltaic industry, arguably the fastest-growing sector in the state.
And that may be the understatement of the year when it comes to the blossoming renewable energy arena in Hawaii.
One local PV contractor, who has been tracking the market by tabulating the number of permits, says that there were a total of 9,526 installations across the state from 2001 to 2011.
But, according to Marco Mangelsdorf, president of Big Island-based ProVision Solar Inc., more than 15,000 permits will have been issued by the end of this year for net energy metering systems on Oahu alone.
“[This number] is more than 150 percent of the cumulative total in one year compared to the previous 10-plus years,” he said.
So one would wonder: How is the notoriously slow City and County of Honolulu’s Department of Planning and Permitting churning this through its system?
Just a couple of months ago, it launched a new online system as a way to cut down on the number of people who wait in line each day at the city’s permit center.
The department was overwhelmed by the heavy loads of PV systems, and the applications for them were causing delays for other types of building permits, according to officials there.
In its very first day of the online system, the department said that it issued more than 300 PV permits.
At Oahu's retail electric rate of 30-35 cents/KWHr, with 35% state tax credits and 30% federal tax credits, it doesn't take long to pay back the cost of a net-metered system. For us it was just over five years (used hardware, sweat equity) but for most it's been about a decade. As hardware prices have imploded over the last couple years, that payback is dropping to 6-7 years.

That's about the payback of a solar water-heating system on Oahu, but in 2010 the state passed a law mandating that solar water heating be included on every new home built in the islands. There are still some solar water heating tax credits, but it's nowhere as big a source of revenue for the solar industry as it used to be. Today they're making mostly wholesale contracts to the homebuilders.

Our neighborhood PV installations are running close to the local electric grid penetration limit of 15%, and people are starting to agitate for higher limits or a better grid voltage control system. Today our neighbors across the street told us that they oversized their system (out of ignorance and contractor's overselling) and are now running their air conditioning 24/7 just to use up their excess KWHr credits.

The state's big debate is limiting the credits for 2013. The legislature stalled out on a change to the state laws, so the local Dept of Taxation took the initiative to set their own limits on the credits. This has embarrassed spurred the legislature to act before the local PV industry starts taking everyone to court over the process.

The looming issue, however, is that PV prices have dropped enough to boost the PV industry, just as was intended, to the point where even the legislature is noticing the revenue "lost" to tax credits. They're talking about reducing the state tax credit five percentage points per year over the next seven years... until it goes to zero. Even without the subsidies it'll still make sense for some homeowners to go PV.

Spouse and I recently found out that our 2004 net-metering permit was approximately #26. Back then we paid a "runner" $150 to stand in line at the permit office just to take care of the paperwork.
__________________

__________________
*
*

The book written on E-R.org, "The Military Guide to Financial Independence and Retirement", on sale now! For more info see "About Me" in my profile.
I don't spend much time here anymore, so please send me a PM. Thanks.
Nords is offline   Reply With Quote
Join the #1 Early Retirement and Financial Independence Forum Today - It's Totally Free!

Are you planning to be financially independent as early as possible so you can live life on your own terms? Discuss successful investing strategies, asset allocation models, tax strategies and other related topics in our online forum community. Our members range from young folks just starting their journey to financial independence, military retirees and even multimillionaires. No matter where you fit in you'll find that Early-Retirement.org is a great community to join. Best of all it's totally FREE!

You are currently viewing our boards as a guest so you have limited access to our community. Please take the time to register and you will gain a lot of great new features including; the ability to participate in discussions, network with our members, see fewer ads, upload photographs, create a retirement blog, send private messages and so much, much more!

Old 12-27-2012, 06:59 AM   #2
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
donheff's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Washington, DC
Posts: 8,649
PV will get better and cheaper year by year like a lot of technology. Incentives can drop out soon and it will keep increasing penetration. I still think the incentives were worthwhile to kick start the industry.
__________________

__________________
Every man is, or hopes to be, an Idler. -- Samuel Johnson
donheff is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-27-2012, 07:21 AM   #3
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 1,567
30 cents is crazy high.
__________________
gerntz is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-27-2012, 07:52 AM   #4
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Indialantic FL
Posts: 1,202
There was just an article in the paper about plans in Spain for some massive solar projects that will be built with little government subsidy. Worldwide glut of panels has reduced prices.
__________________
JimnJana
"The four most dangerous words in investing are 'This time it's different.'" - Sir John Templeton
jimnjana is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-27-2012, 08:44 AM   #5
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 1,361
If you look at a long-term chart of PV costs per watt and extrapolate it out, it isn't terribly long before it will make sense for utilities to replace conventional power sources in some well-suited locations.

I suspect that within 10 years we will see massive solar installations start sprouting up in the US southwest, for example.
__________________
Hamlet is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-27-2012, 10:31 AM   #6
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
grasshopper's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 1,671
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hamlet View Post
I suspect that within 10 years we will see massive solar installations start sprouting up in the US southwest, for example.
Except I only average $40 a month in electric, and my neighbor spends that much in batteries and maintenance on his mostly solar home. I say mostly because he needs a diesel generator to pump water from his 1300 ft well.
__________________
For me experiences are not good or bad, just different
grasshopper is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-27-2012, 10:49 AM   #7
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Texas
Posts: 1,038
With electricity at 30 cents a KWH I can see how the economics look better for solar in Hawaii. I am now paying 8.9 cents in Texas. That and the frequent hail storms probably make it not a very good buy here. I don't see anyone doing it anyway. I have seen a few hot water panels around though.
__________________
In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they are not.
Lazarus is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-27-2012, 10:59 AM   #8
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Northern IL
Posts: 18,299
Quote:
Originally Posted by donheff View Post
PV will get better and cheaper year by year like a lot of technology. Incentives can drop out soon and it will keep increasing penetration. I still think the incentives were worthwhile to kick start the industry.
I doubt the incentives help at all in the long run. Technology progresses, and many products ride that wave. There are plenty of uses for solar PV at higher prices that would encourage development. As prices naturally come down, the market opens at each step.

I think it makes far more sense to use the technology when/where the price performance is appropriate for the application, than to use other people's money so some people can buy it at an artificially low price.

Example: Portable music players didn't become cheaper and better featured because of demand. The technology that portable music players use improved enough for the price/performance to improve - and that increased demand.

Subsidies for portable music players would not have shaped that curve significantly. Portable music players relied on improved batteries, displays, CPUs, flash memory, etc. All a subsidy would have done is to allow people to buy that current technology at a lower price with OPM. In fact, it might have decreased R&D - why invest much in making them smaller/cheaper when people are buying them now because they get an 'incentive'? It could very well be counter-productive.

I don't see why I should be contributing 30% towards the price of a PV system for someone who chooses to live where electricity is $0.30/kwh. And then they get a seven year payback on my money? Why am I subsidizing some else's budget?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Hamlet View Post
If you look at a long-term chart of PV costs per watt and extrapolate it out, it isn't terribly long before it will make sense for utilities to replace conventional power sources in some well-suited locations.

I suspect that within 10 years we will see massive solar installations start sprouting up in the US southwest, for example.
Maybe, but there is more to the cost than meets the eye. People forget to take into account that these are intermittent sources. If electricity use is increasing, then for every solar kwh installed, you need to add the cost of a peaker plant so that power can be supplied on a cloudy day. So it's not so cheap. Solar plus peaker is the true cost.

If capacity isn't increasing, than all the solar is doing is offsetting the cost of natural gas use in the peaker plants when the sun is shining and peak power is being called on. So that's only a portion of the power that could be produced, and it's only offsetting fuel costs, not infrastructure costs.

The traditional power plants in Texas are already complaining about this - they are being called on to make up for the intermittent nature of the wind power plants, and that increases their costs, while the wind farms got subsidies.

Bottom line, I don't think the reality is as rosy as it seems on the surface. Maybe when any excess can be cheaply stored in another form of energy - but that has costs too.

-ERD50
__________________
ERD50 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-27-2012, 11:39 AM   #9
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 1,361
Correct you're not going to replace baseline power with solar power. But instead of building a natural gas peaker plant, it will probably make sense to build a solar peaker plant instead, since peak times are usually afternoon and early evening on very sunny summer days.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ERD50 View Post
Maybe, but there is more to the cost than meets the eye. People forget to take into account that these are intermittent sources. If electricity use is increasing, then for every solar kwh installed, you need to add the cost of a peaker plant so that power can be supplied on a cloudy day. So it's not so cheap. Solar plus peaker is the true cost.

If capacity isn't increasing, than all the solar is doing is offsetting the cost of natural gas use in the peaker plants when the sun is shining and peak power is being called on. So that's only a portion of the power that could be produced, and it's only offsetting fuel costs, not infrastructure costs.
__________________
Hamlet is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-27-2012, 11:41 AM   #10
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 1,361
I wasn't making a prediction on home-based solar power.

I've always suspected that people would prefer not to hassle with creating their own home-based power systems, even if it did make economic sense.

Quote:
Originally Posted by grasshopper View Post
Except I only average $40 a month in electric, and my neighbor spends that much in batteries and maintenance on his mostly solar home. I say mostly because he needs a diesel generator to pump water from his 1300 ft well.
__________________
Hamlet is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-27-2012, 12:00 PM   #11
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
Rambler's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 2,250
Another data point: we have a pretty large system, with maintenance free AGM backup battery bank at our home. We have not lived there full time, so it is hard to tell. However, we have run the pool pump and chlorinator several hours a day, 30% or so of the lights in the house, two fridges, and all 30 lights outside the house 24 hours a day for the past 7 years, and so far have had no maintenance costs at all, nor have we paid an electric bill, since the system was installed. We also designed the home to require little use of the a/c in the summer. All of that said, we have not lived there full time...only a couple months a year for DW, plus a couple weeks for me, and then a day or two at a time during business trips.

Going forward, I will be better able to notch back the pool pump in the winter, and most of those lights that stay on perpetually have been turned off, and only a couple left on only at night. On the other side of the equation, now that we ERd, we will be using the electric laundry dryer more often (on he fritz, so will probably change to a simpler propane model) and will run the propane furnaces a bit more (wood is our main heat source). So with a little luck, we'll run +/- 0 on the electric bill going forward.

All in all, I'm very happy with our system and the design of our home...our neighbors spend $6000-8000 per year on electricity, for homes averaging around 3000-3300 sq ft, in central valley CA. My takeaway is that while going solar is a positive thing, it has to be combined with design sensibilities and energy saving features otherwise it becomes cost prohibitive to install a system to cover everything.

R
__________________
Find Joy in the Journey...
Rambler is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-27-2012, 12:04 PM   #12
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Northern IL
Posts: 18,299
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hamlet View Post
Correct you're not going to replace baseline power with solar power. But instead of building a natural gas peaker plant, it will probably make sense to build a solar peaker plant instead, since peak times are usually afternoon and early evening on very sunny summer days.
I bolded 'usually', because that is the point I was making. 'Usually' isn't good enough. What are you going to do, have a rolling brown-out every time this happens?

Utilities face fines now if they 'usually' provide power. People pay for and expect reliable power. You are going to need a peaker plant, even if it is only used once or twice every couple months.

-ERD50
__________________
ERD50 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-27-2012, 02:12 PM   #13
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
grasshopper's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 1,671
Quote:
Originally Posted by ERD50 View Post
I bolded 'usually', because that is the point I was making. 'Usually' isn't good enough. What are you going to do, have a rolling brown-out every time this happens?

Utilities face fines now if they 'usually' provide power. People pay for and expect reliable power. You are going to need a peaker plant, even if it is only used once or twice every couple months.

-ERD50
Forecast for Eastern Cochise County below 5000 feet
Area Forecast For:
Issued: December 27, 2012 02:40:34 MST

Today: Breezy. Partly cloudy. Isolated showers in the afternoon. No snow accumulation. Highs 51 to 56. West wind 15 to 25 mph in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation 10 percent.

Friday: Partly cloudy. Highs 46 to 51.

Saturday: Partly cloudy. Highs 50 to 55.

Sunday: Mostly cloudy. Highs 56 to 61.

Monday and Monday night: Breezy. Mostly cloudy with a 30 percent chance of showers. Highs 49 to 54. Lows 30 to 35.

New years day and Tuesday night: Mostly cloudy with a 30 percent chance of showers. Highs 48 to 53. Lows 26 to 35.

Wednesday: Partly cloudy with a 20 percent chance of showers. Highs 52 to 57.

Sunny southwest.
__________________
For me experiences are not good or bad, just different
grasshopper is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-27-2012, 07:07 PM   #14
Moderator Emeritus
Nords's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Oahu
Posts: 26,620
Quote:
Originally Posted by gerntz View Post
30 cents is crazy high.
A couple months ago I was paying 35 cents/KWHr, and we've paid higher. Neighbor islands are routinely paying north of 50 cents/KWHr.

It's still cheaper than running an extension cord to San Francisco. Or Tokyo. Or through the Long Beach Tunnel.

There's a proposal to cover Lanai with windmills and PV panels, and then to transfer the electricity to the neighbor islands via underwater cables. IIRC Murdoch still retains the rights after selling the island, although Lanai's new owner Larry Ellison certainly has the resources to make it happen. However there's a hailstorm of negative "Big Wind" protesting against the environmental consequences (which are unclear) to say nothing of the engineering challenges. $2B seems like a lowball estimate.

When oil reaches $250/barrel, all the whining will stop and the construction will proceed... even without government subsidies.
__________________
*
*

The book written on E-R.org, "The Military Guide to Financial Independence and Retirement", on sale now! For more info see "About Me" in my profile.
I don't spend much time here anymore, so please send me a PM. Thanks.
Nords is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-27-2012, 07:58 PM   #15
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Texas
Posts: 1,038
Seems like Hawaii should have a nuclear power plant.
__________________
In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they are not.
Lazarus is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-28-2012, 03:48 AM   #16
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
clifp's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 7,451
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lazarus View Post
Seems like Hawaii should have a nuclear power plant.
We have lots of nuclear power plants, they just are all aboard Navy ships and subs. I don't think we have nearly enough electricity demand to justify having a nuclear power plant. The problem is that nuclear plant have to be taken out of service for maintenance etc and without a grid to hook up that would require essentially having twice the capacity.
__________________
clifp is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-28-2012, 08:00 AM   #17
Dryer sheet aficionado
 
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 49
After reading about small "nuclear batteries" a while back maybe in a few years these could help isolated areas, possibly converting areas in total electric communities (heat, cooling, cooking, etc) at a reasonable cost.

Toshiba 4S - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
__________________
painterbill is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-28-2012, 08:11 AM   #18
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Texas
Posts: 1,038
Quote:
Originally Posted by clifp View Post
We have lots of nuclear power plants, they just are all aboard Navy ships and subs. I don't think we have nearly enough electricity demand to justify having a nuclear power plant. The problem is that nuclear plant have to be taken out of service for maintenance etc and without a grid to hook up that would require essentially having twice the capacity.
Your right. You have to have double the capacity so you can shut one down for maintenance. I know the carriers have two reactors. Can they run on one ? I assume.
__________________
In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they are not.
Lazarus is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-28-2012, 08:19 AM   #19
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 1,361
They will do the same thing they do when a nuke plant trips and goes offline (not exactly a rare occurrence). They will manage their capacity and load to make sure they always have some excess.

In Minnesota, the utility makes deals with large users of electricity to be willing to go offline at their request at certain peak times in exchange for a break on rates. When I worked at the U of M, we would occasionally get the call from the utility, and in response we would fire up our back-up generators.

None of this is going to prevent solar from being a decent piece of the mix if it becomes much cheaper than the legacy alternatives.

In 10 years, given the slope of solar cell prices (and an expected ramp up in US natural gas exports), I expect that solar will become a decent part of the mix.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ERD50 View Post
I bolded 'usually', because that is the point I was making. 'Usually' isn't good enough. What are you going to do, have a rolling brown-out every time this happens?

Utilities face fines now if they 'usually' provide power. People pay for and expect reliable power. You are going to need a peaker plant, even if it is only used once or twice every couple months.

-ERD50
__________________
Hamlet is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-28-2012, 11:12 AM   #20
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Northern IL
Posts: 18,299
Quote:
Originally Posted by painterbill View Post
After reading about small "nuclear batteries" a while back maybe in a few years these could help isolated areas, possibly converting areas in total electric communities (heat, cooling, cooking, etc) at a reasonable cost.

Toshiba 4S - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Agreed - seems like Hawaii would be a perfect place to try these out. IIRC, they figured an amortized cost of ~ 10 cents/Kwhr


Quote:
Originally Posted by Hamlet View Post
They will do the same thing they do when a nuke plant trips and goes offline (not exactly a rare occurrence). They will manage their capacity and load to make sure they always have some excess.
They don't have much/any 'excess' - they have a planned amount of redundancy, based on the nature of the power source. That's my point. Say that maybe they plan for 1 out of 10 nukes being down for maintenance/repair. Then they need 10% redundancy. That redundancy is for the nukes - it isn't 'excess' that can be used for variable wind/solar. If they applied it to that purpose, it wouldn't be there if/when needed for the nukes.

With things like solar and wind, you need to plan for near 100% redundancy, and that adds to the cost. Cloudy weather and low wind can cover a large geographic area for many days.

I'm not saying solar/wind don't have a place. All I'm saying is they aren't as cheap as it seems. You really need to factor in the peaker plants (or some future storage tech) to back them up, or you are just artificially pushing that cost over to others. Or, we learn to accept unreliable power like some third world country.

-ERD50
__________________

__________________
ERD50 is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


 

 
All times are GMT -6. The time now is 01:03 AM.
 
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.