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'So What Are You Waiting For?' Say Climate Campaigners After IEA Says Solar Now 'Cheapest Electricity' in Human History

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/10/13/so-what-are-you-waiting-say-climate-campaigners-after-iea-says-solar-now-cheapest

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I have used solar for many years…AND I LOVE IT!

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Prefect timing, solar becomes the cheapest form of power at the same time the working class is flat broke from the economic effects of the pandemic.
Not being a chemist, could someone please explain to me, and probably others here, what the heck “low carbon hydrogen” is? Thanks.

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At risk of repeating myself, the peanut farmer told us, warned us, way back in the late 70’s to go solar. In fact he provided tax incentives back then to go solar. And just imagine where the tech might be today if … ~ 50 years ahead.

I won’t talk about the rethuglicans here cause there’s nothing to talk about when it comes to conservation.

And, Obama, yeah, him, Mr. republican light. What did he do, he created low cost gov loans to PRIVATE FOR PROFIT solar rooftop companies, so that these private for profit upstarts could find a way to turn your roof, the roof on your home, into a permanent lease mortgage of sorts.

Now, just imagine if you owned your roof top, and owned the solar on top of it, and the energy companies had to buy your excess energy production. And imagine the installation and maintenance jobs that would create. And imagine what might happen if millions of homes had the extra income created by the monthly reduced energy utility bill, plus the surplus income from sold energy.

Ah, but see, this is what terrifies Wall Street, terrifies the capitalist donkeys and the capitalist elephants and their 1% sponsors.

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Yes Carter put solar panels on WH roof and Reagan decided not to replace them after a roof repair. 30 years later Obama reinstalled them.
I still remember Carter talking to the nation with sweater on and advising us to cut back on energy (oil) use and turn the thermostat down. He was laughed out of office and replaced surreptitiously by the actor (bad actor).
It is sad and frightening to think about all the wasted time and about the disasters that are upon us so quickly. Tipping points are sailing by.
We need to keep our minds clear here, and all work together and with upmost vigor to try to reverse the black hole of the 6th Extinction.

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I hadn’t heard the term used either, but my guess was right - the carbon just refers to the process, not the product (from: ~https://www.worley.com/what-we-do/our-markets/new-energy/low-carbon-hydrogen)

Today, less than 1% of current hydrogen production is low-carbon. This means most of the hydrogen we make comes from fossil fuel plants that release carbon into the atmosphere. However, pathways already exist for a hydrogen economy that can quickly and reliably slash emissions.

Specifically, I think the main reaction is steam reforming of methane (~https://www.energy.gov/eere/fuelcells/hydrogen-production-natural-gas-reforming).

@Trog has discussed ways to do electrolysis with nuclear power taking advantage of the high heat available, but with the current cost of natural gas vs electrolysis of water using any source of electricity, it is clear that steam reforming has won the economic argument with the current set of carbon taxes (none, which I’d like to see remedied ASAP - see ~https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/would-a-green-new-deal-add-or-kill-jobs1/)

Note that this fact has an impact on whether a hydrogen fuel cell car is a good option in terms of carbon released per mile for a given size of car - as of 2014 they were apparently not worth pursuing (so it’s good we aren’t seeing many of them). See ~https://cleantechnica.com/2014/06/04/hydrogen-fuel-cell-vehicles-about-not-clean/. There is the potential this could change with low carbon hydrogen and better fuel cell efficiencies, but I’m not holding my breath - the battery car won basically.

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Many years ago Germany decided to wean off nuclear and go clean energy and subsidized all homeowners to install solar panels. They are well on their way to gain that goal.

Although rooftop solar is popular, I lean toward investing in solar farms, or maybe toward solar shingling of roofs. There are hidden costs associated with panels, such as removal and reinstalling panels for re-roofing or repairs.

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The corporate control of life -

wherein we are all resources to be used for the increased wealth of a minority of the greediest people -

does not benefit when the majority of (what the greediest see as) their resources

can have any level of self-sufficiency.

The capitalist politicos haven’t finalized how they can make solar power into another trap for their

owners to use for maximum privatized domination over their planet.

So, they are stalling as long as they can.

The addiction to other toxicities has been too reliably profitable for them to let go of it.

For us to improve our lot, we, their subjects, must take control of our lives and

doing that is the last thing they want us to do.

The majority of politicos need to keep us addicted. That is where they derive their funding.

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Thank you for the explanation and the link.

But better have a backup for those years when a volcano somewhere erupts or similar, and solar, wind, hydro etc. and the price of natural gas hits the stratosphere for years.

Simply selling our natural gas is going to make big parts of the country too expensive to heat in many’s eyes.

The shift in their energy sector looks like this:

~https://www.cleanenergywire.org/sites/default/files/styles/gallery_image/public/paragraphs/images/fig2-gross-power-production-germany-1990-2019.png?itok=b60n1-1q

Lignite production has remained high. Hard coal reduced a little, displaced by increases in natural gas. Nearly all of that huge and costly increase in renewables went to offset the also-costly reduction in nuclear. The downturn in coal and lignite production after 2018 had no corresponding increase in renewable generation, so nearly all of the dip had to do with lower electricity production overall–an effect which is likely to be short-lived.

If Germany seriously wanted to clean up their energy sector, they should have eliminated the high-pollution energy industries first. In the process, they might also have saved all the villages, towns, and old-growth forests which were destroyed by keeping the lignite mines open.

Maybe you can speak to this, but I read somewhere that Germany ditching nuclear had the impact of leading to the import of more natural gas and coal. Is this true?

Hard coal imports in 2008 amounted to 43.3 million tonnes, and in 2018, they were about 41.4 million tonnes, so it did not lead to the import of more coal relative to how much they previously imported. But they definitely imported more coal relative to how much they would have imported if they had prioritized displacing coal energy production first.

If you compare on the basis of million tonnes hard coal equivalent, renewable energy production increased by about 23 million tonnes equivalent from 2008 to 2018. But during the same period, nuclear energy production fell by about 27 million tonnes equivalent–more than wiping out all the renewable energy gains during that period. They could have used that renewable energy to displace a portion of imported coal, or a portion of domestic lignite, though it would not have been enough to fully displace either. It would have been largely pointless to use it to displace some gas while they are still burning coal, but not as pointless as using it to displace nuclear.

One of the more intriguing of the advanced nuclear reactor designs is the Dual-Fluid Reactor, from a German research institute. In theory, it looks like it has great potential, but official German opposition to all things nuclear will probably ensure that they never get to test the theory, and try it out. In a slightly different reality, Germany might have turned out to be a leader in both a renewable energy and an advanced nuclear revolution. Instead, their example is being used as an argument against a large rollout of renewables. And when advanced nuclear does arrive, their options will be to import that as well, or get left behind.

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Yes, what are we waiting for? If also we take into consideration the cost of climate change destruction through hurricane wind speed increases, the cost of sea shore line destruction due to rising sea levels, the cost of lost seafood harvest due to reef Coral death due to sea temperature increases caused by fossil fuel combustion; all among probably many other things… then solar energy is by far the cheapest solution to energy production.

If solar power ever took over as the leading source of global energy, the USA would try invading the sun.

What about LEPCON/LUMELOID technology developed by Alvin M. Marks?
~https://www.nytimes.com/1986/09/09/science/new-plastic-solar-design-promises-efficient-power.html

“Glass panels and plastic sheets of LEPCON* and LUMELOID* respectively convert sunlight to electric power with an efficiency of 70 to 80%, at a cost of 0.01 to 0.02 per kwhr. The investment in I square meter of a LEPCON* glass panel is about 250.00. It produces 500 W of electric power in bright sunlight. The investment then is 0.50/W, spread over a life expected to exceed 25 years.”

~http://www.rexresearch.com/marks2/marks.htm

~https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hMGyob166Cg

I am sort of ‘invested’ in the above idea because many years ago I heard about this new highly-efficient way to convert sunlight into electricity (And I was actually thinking of investing money into it at that time. But I never did, but I did get a big bunch of material sent to me when I wrote to the people involved in the initial research on it.). Supposed to be way more efficient than what is capable with traditional solar-cell technology. But it hasn’t really panned out so far anyway. But now here is some new stuff I am reading about concerning this idea:

~https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Optical_rectenna

Here is a book on the idea (you can buy individual chapters for $25.95 – are they kidding?) just to show you it is a legitimate interest in this field:
~https://www.springer.com/us/book/9781461437154
They give a little preview of each chapter. The preview for the 1st chapter gives you a nice summary of the idea of using antennae instead of semiconductors to achieve much higher efficiencies in capturing energy from solar rays.