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smsutton t1_ja1dezj wrote

Don’t really need the land. You need to network all the rooftops.


landodk t1_ja1oai2 wrote

Probably not even all rooftops. Just focusing on the large flat commercial rooftops would be huge, and lower installation/maintenance costs


littleday t1_ja1yiyd wrote

You’d need more than that, Western Australia 45% of all domestic rooftops have solar, we cover most of Our needs from solar, but it’s the storage that’s the issue for night time. It can be done, but battery tech needs to get cheaper and it is. In Australia you can buy a 6.6kW system with a battery for 12k USD and it would cover most house holds needs.


aquarain t1_ja39ono wrote

The iron flow batteries are on the way. Much longer duration, higher cycles and way lower cost. Consumes some of the energy though.


mikasjoman t1_ja3qn8s wrote

I'll trust it when I see it at the store. So much tech has been on its way for a decade, "just around the corner" it's ridiculous to even mention them by now.


bejamamo t1_ja59n8e wrote

But solid state battery are going to REVOLUTIONIZE the way we think about battery storage /s


pinkfootthegoose t1_ja3v5bq wrote

iron flow are only good for utility scale storage. moving parts and all that need maintenance.


sunshine-thewerewolf t1_ja25h3x wrote

I have 2 rooftops that would be prime for solar. Most my neighbors also have prime spots. Could easily be feeding the grid and have our own backups. Seems like an easy win


typing t1_ja1ofoe wrote

This is much better than a centralized solution. From a defensive point of view, if you keep all your energy infrastructure in one place it makes the whole country vulnerable to an attack. However if you used this roof top idea it would be fully decentralized making each unit area independent of others, isolating attacks


arfbrookwood t1_ja1qu0y wrote

Yeah like why is a carrier even a thing. Just use 2000 rowboats.


OcculusSniffed t1_ja204mc wrote

I am fascinated that you think those are an even comparison.


Hei2 t1_ja4ab4j wrote

Don't you know? Solar farms are staging points for attacks.


arfbrookwood t1_ja3akw1 wrote

I don’t. Just as i don’t think that thousands of decentralized systems of solar paneling are equal to a central power plant well built, planned, funded, and staffed.


Amazingawesomator t1_ja1fui9 wrote

I always find those estimates of things like "just fill south dakota with panels" as a bit rediculous, heh. Plenty of rooftops on my neighborhood dont have solar; i dont know of any businesses in my area that have solar.

I generate more than i use, and only ~1/2 my roof is panels (i didnt want them to be garish, so they are on the back of the house).

I doubt much extra land is needed


peter-doubt t1_ja1ku9n wrote

Plenty of storage sheds... With simple roofs and no major obstructions... But they're largely unused, too.


Dirty_South_Cracka t1_ja1fiy8 wrote

This is what few people realize... its not the local generation that's a big deal. Any moron who can turn an electric drill can setup a solar array. It's the infrastructure needed to deliver that power reliably on a distributed grid that is difficult and expensive. I'm not even sure if current copper production/availability would survive trying to accomplish such a feat. Much less the amount of lithium needed to make batteries. We're simply trading one eventuality for another.

Solar is doomed as a full replacement for carbon until a cheap battery (sodium maybe) that can be recharged 1000's of times and recycled can be developed.

We don't need more solar technology, we need a better battery chemistry... and we need it quick.


pinkfootthegoose t1_ja1k6g8 wrote

you don't need lithium batteries for batteries that stay in place since their weight would be irrelevant. You can use materials more conducive for the application either commercial or home use.

Also we already have a distributed grid... our current (pun) one.

Also there is already regulation in place for power cut offs for power generation feed back and is not that expensive.

Industry is very aware of the need to move away from lithium ion for in place electricity storage and is spending billions on research with some alternatives already being built.


Dirty_South_Cracka t1_ja1kwf9 wrote

I would love to see more info on how that works. Are they converting DC back to AC for distribution on our current grid? Can our current grid handle DC transmission without significant loss cheaply? I'm not trying to be difficult, I'm geniunely curious.


pinkfootthegoose t1_ja1olke wrote

of course it's converted to AC.. you need to do that to use it in your house anyway.

Well DC is only used for HVDC lines as far as I know, at least day to day for most people.

people without batteries rely on net metering. They use to solar panels during the day to either reduce the amount of power they get from the power company or they even produce a surplus during the day and send some back up the line for local distribution. This reduces their power bill but they still rely power company for power since for safety reason they have the aforementioned power cut off so line workers aren't zapped. So no you generally can't use your panels if you are grid connected with no batteries though in theory you would just manually disconnect from the grid and power the house during the day depending on how much you generate and how much you need.

For those with a battery but are connected to the grid it's a bit different. They of course use the panels to power their house but also charge up batteries for later use and once the batteries are full send power back to the grid. They of course use the batteries at night or during inclement weathers when there isn't much sun. If the power from the grid goes out they can instantly switch to solar, battery or a combinations of the two depending on the circumstances.


djkuhl t1_ja1xzn2 wrote

> Solar is doomed as a full replacement for carbon until a cheap battery (sodium maybe) that can be recharged 1000's of times and recycled can be developed.

Iron Redox Flow Batteries are being deployed at grid scale (only two 75kwh batteries to start) for the first time this year. Super cheap, recyclable, and can last 50-100 years. Now we just have to worry about running out of iron, salt, and water.


TheNatureBoy t1_ja1j5m9 wrote

What if during the day time the grid powers pumps to fill damns?


Cerran424 t1_ja4jbb2 wrote

As an engineer who has worked on several pumped storage projects the big challenge there is location. If you are going to pump water uphill you have to get it from somewhere. In drought stricken areas like CA that’s not super realistic. It’s also limited by geography and the capex costs are very high.

I’m currently working on a pumped storage system but it’s in rural Montana where water is plentiful and building restrictions aren’t as challenging and they still have issues with power wheeling agreements. Simply put pumped storage is far more complicated than most people realize.


TheNatureBoy t1_ja4pbpv wrote

What do you feel about the current project at the Hoover Dam?


Cerran424 t1_ja4r5hm wrote

It has a lot of technical hurdles to solve before it’s a viable project especially with the current drought situation at Lake Mead.


TheNatureBoy t1_ja4s63q wrote

Sorry to bother you again. How does the water level effect the process? Do the pumps just pump to a fixed height? (I understand fluids up to the Navier-Stokes equation)


Cerran424 t1_ja4srkv wrote

The water level question is more how much water can be recycled given the discharge requirements and flow downstream.

You would likely have to design the pumps to lift water to the maximum height of Lake Mead.


TheNatureBoy t1_ja4v5yl wrote

Damn, that sounds like a tremendous energy loss with a low lake.

Thanks for the response.


Cerran424 t1_ja4svx9 wrote

I’m mainly making an educated guess based on requirements of past projects.


pinkfootthegoose t1_ja3vf60 wrote

during the day the dam can just stop letting water flow, they fill themselves.


Cerran424 t1_ja4jhmh wrote

Can’t just stop letting it flow in most cases because of downstream consequences like irrigation and navigation.


peter-doubt t1_ja1kof8 wrote

You're storage will likely be 60% efficient... a start, but too inefficient to be a reliable backup. Why not use wind to do this when demand isn't near full production?


peter-doubt t1_ja1keuz wrote

There's other storage methods, but they don't contradict your point.. they're all too expensive to make solar the go-to at short distances.


billdietrich1 t1_ja2mg9o wrote

> we need a better battery chemistry... and we need it quick.

Multiple are being developed, some have been deployed (e.g. But we don't need them "quick"; we have plenty of room for more renewables in existing grids before we absolutely must have storage.


Dirty_South_Cracka t1_ja306ir wrote

I've been hearing that same bullshit for the last 20 years. We've been perpetually almost there sine the early 2000's. Molen salt was supposed to be the wonder battery then.


billdietrich1 t1_ja34qk7 wrote

Batteries have greatly improved in performance and cost, and we're deploying them at utility-scale. And chemical battery is far from the only form of storage.


Agillian_01 t1_ja39mrz wrote

I read a news article a couple days ago about a group of researchers in one of our universities creating a new sodium addative of sorts to use in Lithium-ion batteries. It seems to increase the lifespan of these batteries by about ten-fold. I believebit had to do with li-ion batteries using up sodium in the batteries to self-repair damage caused by charging and discharging the batteries. By changing the types of sodium in the battery, the amount of sodium used in each cycly was greatly reduced. I am by no means an expert on the matter, so I hope this made sense. I believe the article was released in one of the major physics magazines.


aquarain t1_ja39vyd wrote

Distributed virtual power plants are a thing now, and will only grow. As with anything else, as the units go up the price per comes down.


jeffyoulose t1_ja1p2h8 wrote

What about using photosynthesis to create a ton of biomass stored energy in the form of plants that can be used as kindling to warm up the house at night?


DiablolicalScientist t1_ja1wi6k wrote

Right... And aren't these panels needing replacement every 7 years or something?


Dirty_South_Cracka t1_ja1wz8b wrote

Most modern residential panels are rated for 80%+ output for 25 years. I think that's actually pretty impressive.


Talamakara t1_ja259j8 wrote

No solar panel on the planet exceeds 33.6% efficiency, it's called the Shockley Quizer Effect.


Dirty_South_Cracka t1_ja2yab5 wrote

Efficiency and output are two completely different metrics. That being said, 33.6% efficient is pretty damn good considering there are no moving parts. The most efficient steam turbines are only about 45% efficient and that is modern technology. The ones in use today are right around 35%.


pinkfootthegoose t1_ja3vptu wrote

they come with 25 year warranties to produce something like 80 or 85% of their original power for 25 years.. though they are expected to actually last something like 30+ years. least the new ones.


billdietrich1 t1_ja2m9w2 wrote

Better to put solar PV on light frameworks above parking lots, roads, road medians, etc. Easier to install and maintain, and we have plenty of space there.


-The_Blazer- t1_ja51712 wrote

Utility solar is the cheapest form of solar though. There are very real benefits to industrialized mass-scale infrastructure.


Neo1331 t1_ja5e2x1 wrote

This is why I like the California requirement to put solar panels on new residential building. The power generation is crazy.


tickleMyBigPoop t1_ja3q3za wrote

Lol I’m not networking the solar panels i bought for general use unless someone pays me.

Right now it goes straight into my battery system.


BlitzOrion OP t1_ja1bavd wrote

> Critics of wind and solar routinely raise concerns about how much land would be required to decarbonize the US power sector. Fortunately, the answer is relatively little. A recent National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) study shows that it would take less than 1 percent of the land in the Lower 48 — that’s an area comparable to or even smaller than the fossil fuel industry’s current footprint. And when wind and solar projects are responsibly sited, the environmental and public health impacts would be far less harmful than those from extracting, producing, and burning fossil fuels.


whyreadthis2035 t1_ja1per4 wrote

Pop in salt cooled latest Gen nuclear reactors and that footprint goes way down.


billdietrich1 t1_ja2n89p wrote

Nuclear is losing the cost competition, and every trend line says the gap will get worse. And expecting some new nuclear tech to arrive in some reasonable time and hit its cost targets is unrealistic. The industry has a long history of schedule slips and cost overruns, sometimes by big factors.


whyreadthis2035 t1_ja30yv3 wrote

Yeah, I didn’t say wait. But for long term and stability, it should be part of the solution. It’s issues are those of an industry competing with fossil fuels. With governments fully supporting the industry instead of hindering it for the fossil folks under various guises, it needn’t be as cumbersome.


billdietrich1 t1_ja34kk0 wrote

No, nuclear inherently is a complex, ponderous, costly technology. Unless there's a major breakthrough and someone invents fusion-direct-to-electricity, no steam plant involved, nuclear will dwindle and become niche.


dalumbr t1_ja5m0ye wrote


That's what Helion is doing, planned for the end of 2024 to be fully productive, from running consistently at 10% as of December 2022


billdietrich1 t1_ja70mdd wrote

I think they're still at the "demonstrating that we can heat and contain plasma" stage, not any kind of energy production.


tickleMyBigPoop t1_ja3qqo5 wrote

>Nuclear is losing the cost competition, and every trend line says the gap will get worse

Purely due to over burdensome regulatory compliance. Also solar costs don’t count in battery storage usually.


pinkfootthegoose t1_ja3wdiz wrote

the nuclear industry blames burdensome regulations and protesters as a convenient straw man to beat. No commercial nuclear plant has ever turned a actual profit. ever.

edit: word


aquarain t1_ja39dfu wrote

In addition to the cost, and that nuclear promises have always been false, those new reactors use fuel made only in Russia.


JawsAteAGoonie t1_ja1wuek wrote

Every viable rooftop should have something producing electricity on it.


billdietrich1 t1_ja2naak wrote

Better to put them in neighborhood "farms", maybe above parking lots or roads or flood basins. Easier to install and maintain and upgrade.


JawsAteAGoonie t1_ja368p3 wrote

I don't care where they go as long as it doesn't involve cutting trees down to do it. For every solar panel that goes up 1000 trees should be planted on old farmland that doesn't need to be used to grow corn to feed our addiction with the massive amount of cattle we think we need to raise and slaughter.


aquarain t1_ja397jh wrote

And ethanol fuel production we will no longer need.


charliej102 t1_ja1gwsp wrote

496,905 square kilometers is all that it would take to power the entire world.... a small fraction of the Sahara .


pinkfootthegoose t1_ja1lwn5 wrote

that's a square about 438 miles per side.

While that is a huge area I suspect that solar panel manufactures make a non trivial impact towards that amount each year.

renewables (sun, wind, water, geothermal) are projected to overtake coal world wide as the most common source of power in 2025 if not a bit sooner. (the war in Ukraine has accelerated adoption of renewables)


Dirty_South_Cracka t1_ja1k3as wrote

That's almost 450 miles wide and deep. A single strand of 0000 AWG wire that stretches 450 miles at $10.00 per ft. would cost almost 24 million dollars. I just can't see how that is feasible.


jherico t1_ja1my1k wrote

24 million would be a rounding error to any significant new power infrastructure. Coal and nuclear plants cost in the billions to build.

The real issue with building any kind of massive solar installation is getting power to where it's needed. For instance, a massive solar plant in Africa is useless to Europe, because there's no effective way of getting the power there, not in the amounts needed.


ADMIRAL_IMBA t1_ja21hk0 wrote

The political situation is even worse than the efficiency loss. You need constant government and an army to protect such a facility.


jherico t1_ja22jqh wrote

I think there are political issues but I don't think guarding the site is one of them. The site would need to be remote to avoid conflicting with existing land use, and short of using nukes, how much damage could anyone do to a facility spread out over half a million square kilometers?


pinkfootthegoose t1_ja3xj7y wrote

no one is actually saying put all the solar panels in one place. It's just an illustration so people can get their minds around it. We know the panels are going to be on roofs and on parking lots and spread around here and there by various utilities.


klaagmeaan t1_ja1njsx wrote

You don't háve to build it all in one place eh?


billdietrich1 t1_ja2nm21 wrote

We're going to end up paying trillions to remediate climate change damage. We can afford to deploy renewable energy. It will be more at a neighborhood level than in one huge installation for the whole world. We can deploy solar PV on frameworks above parking lots and roads and flood basins etc, for example.


pinkfootthegoose t1_ja3x5ol wrote

to put things into prospective think of this. The world makes around 78 million vehicles per year. Think of how much materiel goes into each vehicle. what if I told you that if you parked each vehicle side by side in a huge parking lot it would cover roughly the same area as the needed solar panels? We do it every single year with cars.


atchijov t1_ja2dbbs wrote

And don’t forget that it is not like we can not use this land for some other purpose at the same time. With summers getting hotter and hotter shade under solar panels is actually good thing for farming.


Famous-Example-8332 t1_ja36eeb wrote

True but less feasible then it sounds. It’s easier to have them on dedicated land where maintenance would be easier, and also to not have to put them way up on stilts or make avenues under for tractors and risk damage or vandalism that comes with it being a public place. Unguarded panels off to the side of daily life can still get vandalized, but it would be an extra trip…


pinkfootthegoose t1_ja3wo45 wrote

you are right. Agrivoltaics are taking off especially for shade loving plants.


BF1shY t1_ja4wvge wrote

Car-centric America has vast plains of asphalt parking.

Every huge dumb parking lot should have solar panels as a roof. It keeps the car cool and out of the sun and generates power. The fact that new parking lots don't have this as a requirement in 2023 is pretty dumb and sad for America.


roj2323 t1_ja26s2e wrote

Elon has said if it were 100% solar it would take 100sq miles to power the US. I'm assuming battery storage was part of his assumption.

(regardless of your feelings on Elon, he is well educated in this department)


Sovereign_Usurper t1_ja37qns wrote

Solar can go on existing structures. It doesn’t require any additional land.


digitaljestin t1_ja4ls9u wrote

Funny thing, wind and sunlight don't only occur on land.


naugasnake t1_ja2akkq wrote

All of the uninhabited parts of Nevada. But I like the idea of just covering all of nevada, breaking up Reno and Vegas. Nobody really wants those cities anyhow.


bitfriend6 t1_ja26w1q wrote

There's more to PVs than just the panel itself. It's also the manufacturing and nighttime electricity storage. This is non-marginal when PV manufacturing is dirtier and riskier than combustion engineering, because boilers don't require special acids to be made. At least not on a simple level. The larger supply chain needs to be addressed, regardless of how much wishful thinking currently happens most PVs are still made in China and most are made in appalling, dirty conditions that actively contribute to global warming & thus represent an external climate cost to PVs as even the best PVs don't last more than 25 years. Gen 1 PVs are already hitting their end-of-life and most are being landfilled in Asia, contributing to the global microplastics problem.

This doesn't discredit PVs as a technology, but it does discredit neoliberal capitalism as a means to deliver it. We need to stop importing energy, including manufactured energy devices such as PVs and electronics in general.


dasunt t1_ja4mw2q wrote

There's probably some stuff we could do over the course of a decade or two that would help mitigate the battery issue.

For example, modern water heaters can keep water hot for a decent amount of time - oversize them, and there could be a setup that heats water during the day for use at night. Fridges could be similar, but with cooling. And infrastructure at work could allow EVs to charge during the day. Cooling is another area.

Heating will likely be a problem though. Even with heat pumps, a large amount of electricity will be used. In theory, one could build energy efficient homes with thermal mass. In practice, homes tend to have longer lifespans - unlike appliances, the average home should last for decades before being replaced.

We're going to need something to provide electricity at night, be it wind, hydro, etc.


tickleMyBigPoop t1_ja3pzu6 wrote

Less than if we just we used nuclear.


perspicat8 t1_ja1nvra wrote

Two parts of fuck-all is the informal answer.