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Old 10-21-2008, 01:03 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by dex View Post
I've searched and I can not find what these subsidies are. A lot of search results have the term in them.

Do you have a site that outlines what they are?

This is not to question your point. Just to understand what they are.

There is something below but not much - it doesn't provide a list of all the subsidies.
FactCheck.org: What kind of tax breaks does the U.S. give to oil companies and to corporations that send jobs overseas?
Thanks
Good point Dex. I have to admit here, I am (dangerously) just repeating what I've heard so many times (!). However, I also don't recall the oil companies or anyone else standing up to deny the subsidies either, so I tend to think there it is a 'mostly true' area. I do recall googling this a while back, and I gave up before I found anything solid, which did surprise me too.

And ( careful here, I am trying not to touch on 'soap-boxy' areas), I was not referring to the cost of any activities of the of US govt in certain geo-political regions of the world that might be considered by some/many as a 'subsidy' to the oil industry (vague enough?). I'm talking about straight tax credits for exploration, etc. I'd like to have better data on this issue also - so please post if you find more.

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Originally Posted by al_bundy View Post
it wasn't that long ago that an average PC cost $2500 and a nice one cost close to $5000. around 2000 is when the first sub $1000 PC really hit the market.

wouldn't be surprised if we are getting to this point soon with solar ...
I really don't think we will see anywhere near the same curve on Solar Energy. It really is quite different from a computer cost curve. Computer costs came down partly due to just being able to squeeze more transistors in the same space - it was all about finer processing capabilities. That is *not* the limiting factor with solar.

Solar cells now are roughly ( w/o looking it up), maybe 15-20% efficient? Researchers *might* know how to double that, but that's about it - you hit a limit of diminishing returns. You can't get better than 100%. And just as an example, going from 20% to 60% eff means you cut the wasted energy from 80% to 40%. You can't eliminate another 40% - you would be at 100% eff then, and you just can't get there.

Another way to say that is, at 20%, a 5x improvement is all that is even theoretically possible to improve. There is no more 'there', there. With CPUs, the early line widths were hundreds, maybe thousands of times larger than what is being done today. So, they had room for 100x or more improvements, with theoretical room to go yet.

Yes, they will learn how to cut costs, but just don't expect anything dramatic. And, to the extent that energy goes up - solar cells will go up. A big part of their cost is the energy to turn sand into a photo-voltaic silicon. It takes about two years in direct sun for the solar cell to 'work off' the energy it took to make it in the first place. That's what drives me nuts about (at the present time), using solar cells for a cell phone or iPod charger, or a solar cell on the roof of an electric car, and calling it 'green'. It may be convenient, but it ain't green. It is a waste of energy if that cell isn't put in the optimum spot for sunlight 365 days/year.

And don't let no one tell you no different Well, not w/o proof - and then let me know also.

-ERD50
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Old 10-21-2008, 01:14 PM   #22
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ERD50 - OK txs
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Old 10-21-2008, 01:25 PM   #23
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OK - I got that example - isn't the net affect to the consumer more oil available (lowers price) and lower cost of borrowing (ultimately lower price to the consumer?)

In college I was taught that corporations are pass through entities - They take in revenue (sales) pay out cost of goods sold, salaries, taxes and profits.
So it you increase taxes -they are incorporated into the price (sales), collected and paid to the government. It is simpler to see with a sales tax (a regressive tax) but not with corporate taxes.
Wouldn't these subsidies work the same way (reducing the cost of goods sold)?

Also, if the USA imports less oil doesn't that help the balance of trade numbers.

This sound like a complicated issue and I don't have the info on what the subsidies are.

Their profit margin isn't that out of line:

Exxon's Profits: Measuring a Record Windfall - US News and World Report
The oil industry urges people to look beyond its profits to its profit margin: about 7.6 percent of revenues late last year. That's not much higher than the 5.8 percent profit margin for all U.S. manufacturing, and if you exclude the financially troubled auto industry from that analysis, the oil industry actually appears less profitable than most manufacturers, which were earning 9.2 cents on every dollar of sales.
it's true on a macro level, but in the end no one is going to build a well if they think they can't get enough oil with it to pay the cost of that well, interest and operating costs along with turning a profit and accounting for risk like oil prices being cut in half. you can hedge part of the price of oil, but not the other things. this is where the government comes in. income taxes run 30% to 40% of net income, so if you lower taxes you increase the profitablity of any potential oil well

same concept as why you can't get cable if you live in a rural area
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Old 10-21-2008, 01:33 PM   #24
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Good point Dex. I have to admit here, I am (dangerously) just repeating what I've heard so many times (!). However, I also don't recall the oil companies or anyone else standing up to deny the subsidies either, so I tend to think there it is a 'mostly true' area. I do recall googling this a while back, and I gave up before I found anything solid, which did surprise me too.

And ( careful here, I am trying not to touch on 'soap-boxy' areas), I was not referring to the cost of any activities of the of US govt in certain geo-political regions of the world that might be considered by some/many as a 'subsidy' to the oil industry (vague enough?). I'm talking about straight tax credits for exploration, etc. I'd like to have better data on this issue also - so please post if you find more.



I really don't think we will see anywhere near the same curve on Solar Energy. It really is quite different from a computer cost curve. Computer costs came down partly due to just being able to squeeze more transistors in the same space - it was all about finer processing capabilities. That is *not* the limiting factor with solar.

Solar cells now are roughly ( w/o looking it up), maybe 15-20% efficient? Researchers *might* know how to double that, but that's about it - you hit a limit of diminishing returns. You can't get better than 100%. And just as an example, going from 20% to 60% eff means you cut the wasted energy from 80% to 40%. You can't eliminate another 40% - you would be at 100% eff then, and you just can't get there.

Another way to say that is, at 20%, a 5x improvement is all that is even theoretically possible to improve. There is no more 'there', there. With CPUs, the early line widths were hundreds, maybe thousands of times larger than what is being done today. So, they had room for 100x or more improvements, with theoretical room to go yet.

Yes, they will learn how to cut costs, but just don't expect anything dramatic. And, to the extent that energy goes up - solar cells will go up. A big part of their cost is the energy to turn sand into a photo-voltaic silicon. It takes about two years in direct sun for the solar cell to 'work off' the energy it took to make it in the first place. That's what drives me nuts about (at the present time), using solar cells for a cell phone or iPod charger, or a solar cell on the roof of an electric car, and calling it 'green'. It may be convenient, but it ain't green. It is a waste of energy if that cell isn't put in the optimum spot for sunlight 365 days/year.

And don't let no one tell you no different Well, not w/o proof - and then let me know also.

-ERD50
right now Intel is making chips with .45 nanometer circuits or close to doing it. i've been following the PC industry since the 1990's and i remember the days when everyone thought it would be impossible to break 1 nanometer. i remember the days when new chips from Intel would run close to $1000 just for the CPU and everyone thought it would always be this way.

what happened was people found new ways to manufacture these things that is more cost efficient and prices came down. same with LCD screens and pretty much everything that used to be very expensive but is now cheap. and we can always design better solar panels. back in 2000 - 2005 Intel and AMD were in the gigahertz race and Intel decided to make the P4 to run really fast. the performance was pretty bad because it was very inefficient but people thought it was faster. a team in Israel made up what is now the Centrino CPU on a shoestring budget and working as red haired step children. now no one cares what the GHz rating is on the CPU.

the current hybrid technology is almost 20 years old and only now is being widely depolyed. RSA kept the licensing fees on their patents very high until they expired a few years ago and now we have encyption everywhere. the core x86 technology was first developed in the late 1960's along with the core internet technology and we are still improving it

same thing will happen with alternative energy
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Old 10-21-2008, 01:50 PM   #25
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right now Intel is making chips with .45 nanometer circuits or close to doing it. i've been following the PC industry since the 1990's and i remember the days when everyone thought it would be impossible to break 1 nanometer. i remember the days when new chips from Intel would run close to $1000 just for the CPU and everyone thought it would always be this way.
This is probably true, but the key difference that I am trying to get across and that applies to solar cells (and fuel cells for that matter), is that in your example they *thought* that 1nm was a limit, or they *thought* chips would always cost $1000.

But 100% efficiency *is* a limit, not an opinion or prediction. You just cannot turn more than 100% of the sun's energy that hits a square meter of surface into any more energy than was there to begin with. And since solar cells are around 20% eff, there is an absolute limit of 5X in terms of eff improvements.

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.... the core x86 technology was first developed in the late 1960's along with the core internet technology and we are still improving it

same thing will happen with alternative energy
Maybe some other cost cutting will help, but all I'm saying is don't expect changes on anywhere near the same scale as some other technologies. At 20% of the limit of eff set by the laws of physics, there just is not that much improvement to eek out. CPUs were not at those limits, they were at process limitations, or the physical limitations of the processes available at the time, but they were not about to break the absolute laws of physics.

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Old 10-21-2008, 02:02 PM   #26
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they've had solar powered calculators for a while? why not a solar powered cell phone? doesn't mean you have to charge the battery 100% from solar energy, but say 20%.
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Old 10-21-2008, 05:03 PM   #27
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they've had solar powered calculators for a while? why not a solar powered cell phone? doesn't mean you have to charge the battery 100% from solar energy, but say 20%.
Why would you - do you hate the environment?

Remember, it takes ~ 2 years to get the energy back that it took to make a solar cell, when it is optimally positioned in the sun day-in, day-out. A cell phone solar charger is not going to be in the sun for every available sunlight-hour and sitting at the right angle. It will be a net waste of energy, you will never earn back the original energy. Charge the phone from the wall. Save the solar cells for a roof-mounted permanent install where you can earn the manufacturing energy back.

Solar chargers for cell phones are a convenience issue, but an environmental disaster. Plus, cell phones take a fair amount of juice, a solar cell doesn't do much to pump 'em up. Calculators take very little juice.

A solar cell for a calculator might make some sense though. Mostly, calculators are not using rechargeable cells. So the small solar cell might stretch the useful life of that throw-away cell. And the throw away cell lasts so long, most calculator mfg don't want to bother with the cost and extra circuits of a rechargeable battery. Plus rechargeable have their own set of issues, the have self-discharge, meaning you would need to recharge that calculator that sat unused in the drawer for 2 months.

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