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An Analysis of California’s Million Solar Roof Initiative Dennis Silverman Department of Physics and Astronomy U. C. Irvine.

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Presentation on theme: "An Analysis of California’s Million Solar Roof Initiative Dennis Silverman Department of Physics and Astronomy U. C. Irvine."— Presentation transcript:

1 An Analysis of California’s Million Solar Roof Initiative Dennis Silverman Department of Physics and Astronomy U. C. Irvine

2 Conclusions We will show here a basic cost analysis of the million solar roof plan. We will show here a basic cost analysis of the million solar roof plan. We will find that the total installation cost will be $20 billion. We will find that the total installation cost will be $20 billion. The total output from those roofs on average will be about half of that of a single nuclear reactor. The total output from those roofs on average will be about half of that of a single nuclear reactor. Compared to a $1-$2 billion cost of a nuclear reactor, California could build 10 nuclear reactors, for the same money. Compared to a $1-$2 billion cost of a nuclear reactor, California could build 10 nuclear reactors, for the same money. The new nuclear reactors would boost nuclear from 13% of California’s power to 35% on peak power days. The new nuclear reactors would boost nuclear from 13% of California’s power to 35% on peak power days. Along with 19% of hydro power, and 20% of solar and wind power, California could have 74% pollution free and CO2 free power from the same amount of money that will be flagrantly wasted on the million solar roof plan. Along with 19% of hydro power, and 20% of solar and wind power, California could have 74% pollution free and CO2 free power from the same amount of money that will be flagrantly wasted on the million solar roof plan.

3 Cost of Building the Million Solar Roofs The typical photovoltaic solar roof being considered is 3 kilowatts (kW). The typical photovoltaic solar roof being considered is 3 kilowatts (kW). The cost of such an installation with an inverter to the electric grid is $20,000 for panels and $26,000 for integrated roof panels. The cost of such an installation with an inverter to the electric grid is $20,000 for panels and $26,000 for integrated roof panels. Multiplying the $20,000 by a million gives the total cost to $20 billion. Multiplying the $20,000 by a million gives the total cost to $20 billion.

4 How much power is generated? The 3kW installation times a million solar roofs is 3,000 megawatts. The 3kW installation times a million solar roofs is 3,000 megawatts. But wait, that is “peak power” when pointed directly at the sun. But wait, that is “peak power” when pointed directly at the sun. A rooftop installation does not track the sun and is not at the optimal angle for noontime power other than one day a year. A rooftop installation does not track the sun and is not at the optimal angle for noontime power other than one day a year. Other problems: roof slope not at latitude angle, nighttime, seasons, clouds, and the marine layer (June Gloom). Other problems: roof slope not at latitude angle, nighttime, seasons, clouds, and the marine layer (June Gloom). The “average power” is only 1/5 the installed and paid for “peak power”. The “average power” is only 1/5 the installed and paid for “peak power”. Therefore the average power generated by the million solar roof installations will be 600 megawatts. Therefore the average power generated by the million solar roof installations will be 600 megawatts. That is about half of that of the 1,100 megawatts of a nuclear reactor. That is about half of that of the 1,100 megawatts of a nuclear reactor. It is also only 1.2% of California’s maximum power usage of 51,000 megawatts. It is also only 1.2% of California’s maximum power usage of 51,000 megawatts.

5 Comparison to other energy systems In Victoria Australia, they are installing a solar photovoltaic system with sun tracking multiple mirrors on a few, more efficient solar cells (solar concentrator). In Victoria Australia, they are installing a solar photovoltaic system with sun tracking multiple mirrors on a few, more efficient solar cells (solar concentrator). The cost of this per kW is half that of the cheapest home rooftop systems. The cost of this per kW is half that of the cheapest home rooftop systems. Even cheaper, large solar concentrator (mirror) systems that heat mineral oil or sodium come close to the cost of commercial electricity. Even cheaper, large solar concentrator (mirror) systems that heat mineral oil or sodium come close to the cost of commercial electricity. Faced with a choice, PG&E chose the solar concentrator system to be 1/3 to ¼ the cost of solar photovoltaic. Faced with a choice, PG&E chose the solar concentrator system to be 1/3 to ¼ the cost of solar photovoltaic. Since most homes will be connected to the electric grid, and draw most of their power from it, what is the point of building your own more expensive system? Since most homes will be connected to the electric grid, and draw most of their power from it, what is the point of building your own more expensive system? Also, grid electricity will be 2/3 greenhouse gas free in California by 2030 if goals are achieved. Also, grid electricity will be 2/3 greenhouse gas free in California by 2030 if goals are achieved. Bragging rights? Feel good? The rugged hunter gatherer? The provider of fire? The survivalist instinct? Getting a free subsidy from the abstract “government”? Bragging rights? Feel good? The rugged hunter gatherer? The provider of fire? The survivalist instinct? Getting a free subsidy from the abstract “government”?

6 But you forgot about the rebates! I have never yet heard from solar vendors, environmental groups or self- satisfied home or business installers any concern for who pays for the rebates. I have never yet heard from solar vendors, environmental groups or self- satisfied home or business installers any concern for who pays for the rebates. It is taxpayers, and to some extent utility users. It is taxpayers, and to some extent utility users. In this analysis we will analyze the total costs to all involved. In this analysis we will analyze the total costs to all involved.

7 Cost of the embedded roof panels and rebates. For the 3kW installation the cost is $26,000. For the 3kW installation the cost is $26,000. The million solar roof rebate is $8,400. The million solar roof rebate is $8,400. The federal tax rebate is capped at $2,000. The federal tax rebate is capped at $2,000. So the cost to the buyer is $15,600. So the cost to the buyer is $15,600. Not only will the buyer be getting mostly free electricity, but the installation will add to the value of his/her home. Not only will the buyer be getting mostly free electricity, but the installation will add to the value of his/her home. Thanks for the $10,400 gift. Thanks for the $10,400 gift. The million solar roof bill is only for about $3 billion, so later installations will get less state rebate. The million solar roof bill is only for about $3 billion, so later installations will get less state rebate.

8 Nobody was buying? The original bill required the user to pay for electricity based on the rate for the hour of use. This was costly. The original bill required the user to pay for electricity based on the rate for the hour of use. This was costly. The new amendment has them pay only the standard overall rate. The new amendment has them pay only the standard overall rate. However, the original pricing scheme was put in to show some economic sanity and competitiveness. However, the original pricing scheme was put in to show some economic sanity and competitiveness. Solar cells generate electricity during the day when there is less demand, and give a lot of it to the grid. Solar cells generate electricity during the day when there is less demand, and give a lot of it to the grid. Then at evening when demand is highest (and so is cost) the user takes the bulk of power from the grid, now without paying extra. Then at evening when demand is highest (and so is cost) the user takes the bulk of power from the grid, now without paying extra.

9 But after installation the power is free! First of all, the solar panels have to be kept clean. In many locations this would mean a weakly washing involving lots of water from hoses onto rooftops, and the labor of a million homeowners. First of all, the solar panels have to be kept clean. In many locations this would mean a weakly washing involving lots of water from hoses onto rooftops, and the labor of a million homeowners. Maintenance of a million home electric installations has to cost more than in a centralized plant. Maintenance of a million home electric installations has to cost more than in a centralized plant. The economic analysis by vendors shows a profit to homeowners, based on the historical 6.7% increase per year in the cost of electricity. The economic analysis by vendors shows a profit to homeowners, based on the historical 6.7% increase per year in the cost of electricity. In writing off the energy and pollution cost of creating the silicon solar cells, estimates vary from 1-2 years of the system’s power, to that of generating ½ the greenhouse gases of natural gas on a lifetime basis. In writing off the energy and pollution cost of creating the silicon solar cells, estimates vary from 1-2 years of the system’s power, to that of generating ½ the greenhouse gases of natural gas on a lifetime basis.

10 Costs to other Utility users Part of the rebates are being funded by extra utility charges. Part of the rebates are being funded by extra utility charges. While homeowners installing solar cells may only need 25% of their power from the utility, they will only pay 25% of their previous bill, since most costs are proportional to usage. While homeowners installing solar cells may only need 25% of their power from the utility, they will only pay 25% of their previous bill, since most costs are proportional to usage. However, a large part of the bill for most users is the cost of delivery, not the power. That means the costs to construct, upkeep, and run the grid and the link to the homeowner. However, a large part of the bill for most users is the cost of delivery, not the power. That means the costs to construct, upkeep, and run the grid and the link to the homeowner. Why should the cost of the grid be cheaper to the solar cell home? In fact, they use the grid both ways, in sending power to the utility during the day, and drawing as much power as anybody during the night. Why should the cost of the grid be cheaper to the solar cell home? In fact, they use the grid both ways, in sending power to the utility during the day, and drawing as much power as anybody during the night.

11 But what about passive solar adaptation? Usually one would keep a house cool by providing shade. Usually one would keep a house cool by providing shade. With solar cells on the most solar exposed part of the roof, the house would heat up if they were embedded in the roof. With solar cells on the most solar exposed part of the roof, the house would heat up if they were embedded in the roof. The house would also heat more if the embedded tiles are non-reflecting, and used to replace more reflective roof tiles. The house would also heat more if the embedded tiles are non-reflecting, and used to replace more reflective roof tiles. Solar panels might take the place of cheaper and more useful solar water heating, which cannot take place far from the home. Solar panels might take the place of cheaper and more useful solar water heating, which cannot take place far from the home.

12 How much free power do I get? A 3kW peak system with the 1/5 average power generates 3/5 kW = 600 W average power. A 3kW peak system with the 1/5 average power generates 3/5 kW = 600 W average power. Multiplying by the approximately 9,000 hours in a year, this is 5,400 kWh (kilowatt hour) per year of energy. Multiplying by the approximately 9,000 hours in a year, this is 5,400 kWh (kilowatt hour) per year of energy. The average household use is 84,500 million kWh / 11.5 million households, or 7,350 kWh per year. The average household use is 84,500 million kWh / 11.5 million households, or 7,350 kWh per year. So a PV solar system on an average household would account for 5400/7350 = 73% of the power. So a PV solar system on an average household would account for 5400/7350 = 73% of the power.

13 How long until payback? The 7,350 kWh per year at 13¢/kWh will normally cost about $956 per year (this is $80/month). The 7,350 kWh per year at 13¢/kWh will normally cost about $956 per year (this is $80/month). If 73% of that is rooftop generated, it will save the homeowner $956 x 0.73 = $700 per year. If 73% of that is rooftop generated, it will save the homeowner $956 x 0.73 = $700 per year. If the installation is the cheaper $20,000 panels, payback to society will be in 29 years. If the installation is the cheaper $20,000 panels, payback to society will be in 29 years. For the more expensive embedded panels at $26,000, payback to society will be in 37 years. For the more expensive embedded panels at $26,000, payback to society will be in 37 years. Using the price to the above homeowner with the rebate of $15,600, the payback to him/her will be in 22 years. Using the price to the above homeowner with the rebate of $15,600, the payback to him/her will be in 22 years. From radiation damage to the panels, thirty years is about their lifetime. From radiation damage to the panels, thirty years is about their lifetime.

14 Monetary alternatives? I apologize that I am not an economist to do the interest rate calculations to evaluate this long term. I apologize that I am not an economist to do the interest rate calculations to evaluate this long term. A US government analysis only showed the payback for California to be in the 20—50 year range. A US government analysis only showed the payback for California to be in the 20—50 year range. However, most installers want to be paid on completion of the job, not over years. However, most installers want to be paid on completion of the job, not over years. The $26,000 in the bank at a 4.5% interest rate would yield $1170, more than enough to pay the $956 yearly electrical bill. The $26,000 in the bank at a 4.5% interest rate would yield $1170, more than enough to pay the $956 yearly electrical bill.

15 Cost Effective Alternative Solar Power PG&E in Northern California decided on a large scale solar thermal facility heating a liquid which then vaporizes water and runs a turbine. The cost of that system is to be 1/3 to ¼ the cost of solar photovoltaic for the same power. PG&E in Northern California decided on a large scale solar thermal facility heating a liquid which then vaporizes water and runs a turbine. The cost of that system is to be 1/3 to ¼ the cost of solar photovoltaic for the same power. While the grid can distribute solar generated electricity, there is no way to distribute hot water to households. While the grid can distribute solar generated electricity, there is no way to distribute hot water to households. Here, solar hot water heating at a much cheaper cost of $3,000 - $5,000 per household can eliminate 50% to 80% of your water heating energy. Here, solar hot water heating at a much cheaper cost of $3,000 - $5,000 per household can eliminate 50% to 80% of your water heating energy. Household water heating takes comparable energy to the household electricity usage. Household water heating takes comparable energy to the household electricity usage.

16 Conclusions We have shown here a basic cost analysis of the million solar roof plan. We have shown here a basic cost analysis of the million solar roof plan. We found that the total installation cost will be $20 billion. We found that the total installation cost will be $20 billion. The total output from those roofs on average will be about half of that of a single nuclear reactor. The total output from those roofs on average will be about half of that of a single nuclear reactor. Compared to a $1-$2 billion cost of a nuclear reactor, California could build 10 nuclear reactors, for the same money, generating 11 gigawatts of power. Compared to a $1-$2 billion cost of a nuclear reactor, California could build 10 nuclear reactors, for the same money, generating 11 gigawatts of power. The new nuclear reactors would boost nuclear from 13% of California’s power to 35% on peak power days. The new nuclear reactors would boost nuclear from 13% of California’s power to 35% on peak power days. Along with 19% of hydro power and 20% of utility solar and wind power, California could have 74% pollution free and CO2 free power from the same amount of money that will be flagrantly wasted on the million solar roof plan. Along with 19% of hydro power and 20% of utility solar and wind power, California could have 74% pollution free and CO2 free power from the same amount of money that will be flagrantly wasted on the million solar roof plan.


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