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Thread: solar and wind development

  1. #1
    Flashaholic
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    Default solar and wind development

    I saw an article the other day that said Congress removed a two month old moratorium on granting access to public land for solar development. Seems they wanted to analyze it's impact but political pressure to do something caused them to end the moratorium.

    That got me thinking. If big companies can use public land so they don't have to buy the land or pay property taxes, solar and wind should be cheaper to develop. Maybe we should get the same deal. What if Congress passed a law forbiding localities from increasing the property taxes on private properties simply because of the increased value due to your investments in alternate energy? Wouldn't solar whether for hot water or electricity pay back much quicker?

    I'd like to see some solar energy produced on mall rooftops. That might make a difference over time.

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    Flashaholic Aluminous's Avatar
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    Default Re: solar and wind development

    Quote Originally Posted by h_nu View Post
    I saw an article the other day that said Congress removed a two month old moratorium on granting access to public land for solar development. Seems they wanted to analyze it's impact but political pressure to do something caused them to end the moratorium.
    They had been trying to drag out the process on approval for solar/wind projects, while oil/gas projects got much faster approval. Glad to hear they're finally going to make the competition a bit more even.

    What if Congress passed a law forbiding localities from increasing the property taxes on private properties simply because of the increased value due to your investments in alternate energy? Wouldn't solar whether for hot water or electricity pay back much quicker?
    That is a good idea. I don't think property taxes are currently included in the typical evaluations of personal alternate-energy investment payback periods (just up-front purchase and installation costs), and most counties might not currently be increasing the appraisal for this kind of stuff, primarily due to its rarity, but as solar/wind/etc more common, without that being codified, it's only a matter of time till people see it raise their property taxes.

    I'd like to see some solar energy produced on mall rooftops. That might make a difference over time.
    Yeah! Malls are a good targeted area to start, and there are tons of other big commercial buildings with mostly-empty roofs out there too.

    Another thing I kinda like is the idea of putting solar panels on some covered parking areas. If plug-in electric/hybrid vehicles start becoming more common, people who don't live in houses will be at a disadvantage due to the difficulty of charging. Many apartment complexes don't have garages, but do have covered parking, which could provide charging ports.

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    Flashaholic* Steve K's Avatar
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    Default Re: solar and wind development

    I'm a big fan of solar and wind power in general. I heard that T. Boone Pickins (sp?) is developing some huge wind power farms in Texas. One would assume that he knows who to talk to in order to get appropriate tax regulations in place.

    Solar panels on commercial properties like malls sounds like a good idea. They would benefit from the electrical power as well as the shade.

    As far as using public land for power generation, it seems like a great idea. Certainly better than giving away land for mining. I know that a there's a large amount of Arizona used for military purposes. Specifically, there's Yuma Proving Grounds over in the southwest, as well as huge area reserved for bombing ranges and air combat maneuvering practice in the area between Phoenix/Tucson and Yuma. Out of the thousands of square miles in these areas, I'd be happy to see a hundred square miles dedicated to solar power. I wonder if that would be enough to power Phoenix or Tucson??


    Steve K.

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    Flashaholic* BIGIRON's Avatar
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    Default Re: solar and wind development

    I assure you Mr. Pickens knows who to talk to!!! He's recently bought an entire sparsely populated county in West Texas so he can drill and market the ground water. Moved his employees into the county so they are the majority of voters. Rightly or wrongly, he gets it done.

    The silver lining of all the current economic turmoil is that we may finally see some movement toward real solar and wind developement.

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    *Flashaholic* Marduke's Avatar
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    Default Re: solar and wind development

    I wish they would cover more rooftops in cities and towns with solar power. No, it can't/won't power the city, but during the day when both the sun and demand is at it's peak, they sure would help put a big dent and help alleviate the grid.

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    Default Re: solar and wind development

    My house is on a tiny lot and is poorly situated for solar. I wouldn't mind seeing many more houses with solar collectors though.

    My county raises property taxes through assessed value just because you replace a gravel driveway with asphalt or concrete. I'd hate to see what they would do to someone with a good solar installation.

    Distributed power generation, even if a site can only produce 10% of it's needs will help relieve overburdened power lines.

    Energy tax credits would have been a better use of the economic stimulus package than trusting that people would use it to help the American economy. I wonder how many people will buy imported big screen or HD TVs.

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    Default Re: solar and wind development

    I think this is a great idea! While solar obviously can't substitute for all of our energy needs, perfection is the enemy of progress. Instead of looking for one energy source to replace what we have, let's use many different sources, each with their own strengths. Solar is great precisely because solar power generation is at its peak right during the middle of hot sunny days, exactly when the load from air conditioning is at its highest. More solar generation would enable utilities to take their expensive-to-run, highly polluting, oil or natural gas fired peak power generators offline. That alone would probably allow a reduction in electricity rates. Wind and tidal power are excellent complements to solar as those are usually generating at night, or under stormy conditions when solar isn't.

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    * The Arctic Moderator * Sigman's Avatar
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    Default Re: solar and wind development

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve K View Post
    I'm a big fan of solar and wind power in general. I heard that T. Boone Pickins (sp?) is developing some huge wind power farms in Texas. One would assume that he knows who to talk to in order to get appropriate tax regulations in place...
    And here's TBP's plan! I like it! At least it's a step forward...oh I know there's going to be "sniper's" out there taking their own potshots at "The Plan" - well then, what do "they" have to replace it with?
    Last edited by Sigman; 07-09-2008 at 09:28 PM.
    -"Must control self"-
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  9. #9
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    Default Re: solar and wind development

    Quote Originally Posted by Sigman View Post
    ...oh I know there's going to be "sniper's" out there taking their own potshots at "The Plan"...
    Here is a pot shot:

    Surge in wind power causes spike in NW power grid:

    10:18 PM PDT on Sunday, July 6, 2008

    PORTLAND, Ore. -- The wind huffed, and it puffed, and it nearly caused major problems in the Northwest's electrical grid last week.

    Power managers say they have some fixing to do.

    A surge of wind last Monday afternoon jumped far beyond levels forecast by operators of Oregon's burgeoning wind-farm industry, sending more power into the regional grid than it could handle.

    The Bonneville Power Administration is responsible for adjusting hydropower generation levels to accommodate the power from wind turbines so the system isn't overloaded.

    It realized by Monday evening that it could no longer handle the surge without increasing spills of water through hydroelectric dams to levels dangerous to fish. Spilling the water keeps it from the hydropower generators.
    ...
    So, for the first time, BPA power managers began calling wind-farm operators with orders to curtail power generation.

    But calls to some wind farms reached only answering machines, and at another the operators misunderstood and kept generation steady. One wind-farm, which BPA wouldn't name, did reduce generation.
    ...
    But a BPA official said it demonstrated a need to make sure that the growth of wind power in the Columbia Basin doesn't cause more such problems.
    ...
    The variable nature of wind does cause problems...

    -Bill

  10. #10
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    Default Re: solar and wind development

    Quote Originally Posted by BB View Post
    Here is a pot shot:

    Surge in wind power causes spike in NW power grid:



    The variable nature of wind does cause problems...

    -Bill
    I'm sure there are solutions. In some areas they could use the electricity to run pumps for pumped water storage, others maybe electrolysis of water for hydrogen. I've seen some large size flywheels mentioned for megawatt scale storage too. In any case, we should get started with alternatives to importing energy.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: solar and wind development

    There is a solution. Incidentally it's conceptually similar to what the railway industry has been doing for a few decades. For those not familiar, most locomotives (both electric and diesel) and many EMUs (electric multiple units, usually used for subway or commuter rail operations) have dynamic braking. Bascially the motors operate as generators, and generate power. The drag they cause while doing so slows down the train without using the friction brakes. This is conceptually similar to what a windmill does. Now this energy from the electric motors has to go somewhere. Obviously with a diesel locomotive it can't be pumped back into the grid because the locomotive isn't connected to the grid. Therefore, it's dissipated in fan-cooled resistor grids near the roof of the locomotive. Electric railway vehicles have resistor grids also which perform the same function. However, they're generally only used as a failsafe in case the power line (i.e. third rail or catenary) can't accept the power generated. This usually only happens if there are no other trains in the same electrical block to accept the power generated by the train using dynamic brakes. The train can detect if the power grid is receptive to the power it's generating, and if it isn't, route the power to its resistor grid. Something similar could be done with windmills, only instead of wasting the power in a resistor grid, it could either be diverted to a battery for storage, or the windmill's blades could be feathered to reduce the amount of power generated. A third option is to reduce the field of the generator. This will reduce or even stop power from being generated. The detection circuitry is obviously a mature technology as railroads have been doing this for a few decades.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: solar and wind development

    This just came up today on gizmodo. Interesting idea. If they can find a way to concentrate the solar energy hitting an entire panel onto the edge and collect it, this may bring down solar power costs? Does this really sound plausible to the solar experts out here?

    http://gizmodo.com/5024144/scientist...r-from-windows
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