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  • FIRST POST
    • Martyn1981
    • By Martyn1981 9th Jun 15, 6:25 AM
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    Martyn1981
    Green, ethical, energy issues in the news (last 2 weeks)
    • #1
    • 9th Jun 15, 6:25 AM
    Green, ethical, energy issues in the news (last 2 weeks) 9th Jun 15 at 6:25 AM
    MSE Insert:

    We've seen some debate on this thread about the relevance of some posts to the topic.

    To ensure the thread remains on topic for forumites wanting to discuss the latest news we're asking that all posts contain a link to the news you're discussing.

    For the purposes of this thread the "news" needs to be within the last two weeks.

    Back to Martyn1981's original post.

    ---

    I thought it might be a good idea to have a thread for posting general news items that may be of interest.

    PV and the 'Solar in the news' thread attract a lot of interest, so here's a thread for all the other goings on.

    Mart.
    Last edited by Former MSE Andrea; 09-10-2018 at 9:41 AM.
    Mart. Cardiff. 5.58 kWp PV systems (3.58 ESE & 2.0 WNW)

    For general PV advice please see the PV FAQ thread on the Green & Ethical Board.
Page 122
    • GreatApe
    • By GreatApe 11th Jul 19, 4:16 PM
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    GreatApe
    Small Nuclear power for district heating

    I don't think it's at all likely in the UK but it is a great idea for rapidly growing countries like China/India
    In China they build 50 million new homes each year so could add district heating powered by low cost heat only Reactors. They can transition to heating via biomass or wind power at some point in the future so the district heating can still be used if a better solution of found

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.nextbigfuture.com/2017/12/chinas-super-low-cost-heat-only-nuclear-plants.html

    These reactors are much smaller and much less complex (obviously since your not generating electricity just low temp heat)
    • GreatApe
    • By GreatApe 11th Jul 19, 4:20 PM
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    GreatApe
    That's not what I remember when I crossed it (twice), unless things have changed since.... Plus I can tell you that that place is very, very, very empty. You could put PVs in there to satisfy the world's entire energy demand and no one would notice!

    Sunshine hours in January: Sahara 290, London 60.

    You guys will probably tell me otherwise, but wouldn't that be cheap enough to displace the single most carbon intensive element of UK's emissions: natural gas for home heating?
    Originally posted by Piddles
    Anywhere on the Northern hemisphere is more during our summer and less during our winter

    It's not at all likely because the cost to move the power will be too much but more importantly no nation would want to rely on another for its electricity imports

    The UK isn't going to invest a trillion dollars (or whatever) in an African country when all it takes is one 'democratic vote' to vote that investment as no longer yours. Or do it in one of hundreds of other ways. Introduce an electricity export tax. Same thing basically extortion. It's not like we will nuke them for them. We will just look back at the idiots today who made this crippling decision as we sit in our cold homes and try to figure out a way to heat homes domestically

    It's somewhat different with fossil fuels because there are many suppliers
    With the mass PV in country X you can't take your trillion dolla investment and put it in another country
    • GreatApe
    • By GreatApe 11th Jul 19, 4:24 PM
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    GreatApe
    It can damn windy to. On-shore wind with zero NIMBY factor!
    Originally posted by Piddles

    We won't and probably can't afford to send that much capital overseas especially due to the risk

    It will have to be domestic even if it costs more to do it domestically

    Electricity is an economic enabler we can't give control of it to any other countries even our besties
    • GreatApe
    • By GreatApe 11th Jul 19, 4:48 PM
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    GreatApe
    http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/CNNC-completes-design-of-district-heating-reactor

    This is fascinating and solves hearting in perhaps the cheapest way possible

    It also solves the problem of loss of coolant accidents (which is what got Fukushima) by simply immersing the reactor in a large enough pool of water such that decay heat problem is irrelevant the thermal mass of the pool is sufficient to absorb the decay heat.

    Run it for the colder 6 months and have it off (or at lower power) for the remaining 6 months.

    The chance of it being deployed in the UK.... pretty much zero

    But it is a technically brilliant solution and could work so well in China (where 98% of homes are apartments so you can build District heating when building their homes)
    • Martyn1981
    • By Martyn1981 11th Jul 19, 5:09 PM
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    Martyn1981
    CF?

    Presumably the Sahara sun is more reliable than the North Sea wind?
    Originally posted by Piddles
    CF is capacity factor. For UK PV we can expect about 1,000kWh's pa from 1kWp of PV. To work out the capacity factor we divide that by 8,760 (24hrs x 365 days) and get approx 11.5%cf.

    For North Africa, a quick play with PVGIS suggests between 1,500-1,700kWhs pa, so upto 19.5%cf.

    [Edit - Spain is around 1,400-1,600kWh/kWp so approx cf of 18%. So an expansion of interconnectors across Europe to exchange leccy would do the job without N. Africa. But including N. Africa via southern Spain or Italy is clearly excellent. M.]

    The latest off-shore wind farms are around 45%cf now, and should hit/exceed 50%cf* soon.

    But, I don't think you are particularly concerned about cf, since that's reflected in the cost of the leccy, and PV comes out cheaper anyway. So, as you point too, reliability/predictability over cf.

    This is something that makes Spanish PV so much better than the UK, not only does it generate approx 50% more pa, but crucially it's more predictable and varies less across the year. June v's Dec in the UK is about 4:1, or 3:1 for steep pitched panels, whilst steep pitched Spanish panels only vary by about 1.5:1. So 5kWp would generate approx 500kWh's in December, making PV highly suitable for the demand side and year round dependence (with storage).

    *Word of warning, cf's for wind are not as simple as PV, since they can be manipulated to suit the needs and location. For instance, installing a slightly smaller generator on the same size WT will increase the cf, but reduce annual generation slightly, and vice versa. If low speed generation is crucial (you need generation all year round), and maximising annual generation isn't, then cf's can be lifted to help.
    Last edited by Martyn1981; 11-07-2019 at 5:13 PM. Reason: Added an edit
    Mart. Cardiff. 5.58 kWp PV systems (3.58 ESE & 2.0 WNW)

    For general PV advice please see the PV FAQ thread on the Green & Ethical Board.
    • GreatApe
    • By GreatApe 11th Jul 19, 5:15 PM
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    GreatApe
    *Word of warning, cf's for wind are not as simple as PV, since they can be manipulated to suit the needs and location. For instance, installing a slightly smaller generator on the same size WT will increase the cf, but reduce annual generation slightly, and vice versa. If low speed generation is crucial (you need generation all year round), and maximising annual generation isn't, then cf's can be lifted to help.
    Originally posted by Martyn1981

    Better to oversize blades and keep everything else the same and aim for 55%+ CF wind farms

    Much less of a need to do storage the higher the CF goes
    • Martyn1981
    • By Martyn1981 11th Jul 19, 5:59 PM
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    Martyn1981
    Well, that went over my head somewhat....
    Originally posted by Piddles
    Quick lesson if you're interested, as this is a major step, and it's hard to over-stress the significance.

    The main subsidy mechanism for renewables and nuclear is the CfD (contracts for difference). Typically the government announces a pot of subsidy money and desired capacity and invites bids for a technology type. For nuclear they negotiate directly.

    Example - So for off-shore wind they may ask for bids on 1GW of capacity, and the auction (a reverse auction) looks for the cheapest bids. The CfD mechanism also has max prices for bids to be considered.

    Let's say they get 6 bids, each for 250MW

    A. 50/MWh
    B. 51/MWh
    C. 52/MWh
    D. 53/MWh
    E. 54/MWh
    F. 55/MWh

    Next they add up the cheapest bids to reach the 1GW target, so that's A to D.

    They then issue a CfD contract to companies A, B, C & D for 53/MWh (the highest successful price, so as not to 'punish' the lower bidders). That 53 figure is known as the 'strike price'.

    Once commissioned the wind farms will start selling their leccy onto the open market, and the market will have 'spot prices' (I think they are half hourly). The sell price and the spot price are compared for subsidy purposes.

    Let's say they sell at 40/MWh (and that's the spot price too, this eliminates fraud by selling cheap to your mates) then the company will get a subsidy top up of 13/MWh.

    If they sell at 53 they get no top up, if they sell at say 60, then they have to pay 7/MWh back into the subsidy pot.

    Effectively the wind farm gets a guaranteed 53/MWh for everything it produces.

    So, onto the fun bit. With average wholesale prices around 40-50/MWh, the closer the strike price gets to the average, the smaller the total subsidy payments will be.

    So, if we compare the 65/MWh off-shore wind strike price to the 102/MWh HPC nuclear price, then whilst there is a significant difference between prices, the subsidy difference is far greater. As prices head for an expected 50/MWh average, then the subsidy payments are 15 v's 50.

    Looking at off-shore wind CfD's we see strike prices falling from 170 to 65. That's mighty impressive, but even more significant if we compare the subsidy (on a 50/MWh average price) and it's dropped from 120 to 15/MWh.

    To confuse matters most prices are stated in 2012 base prices, so the cheapest deal of 65 might get referred to as 57.50, and HPC referred to as 89.50.

    Also worth remembering that prices should really be considered in context of when commissioning will take place, as bids today, will take into account falling costs, so whilst the 65 price exists today, it's really a reflection of costs from the date works start to 2023 when commissioning will take place.


    Now, for a quick history lesson we have the government's estimate of future costs. A figure I love as it was spread all over the Guardian's comment section for most of 2016 and 2017 despite mine (and others) comments saying they were out of date. The anti-RE poster even repeated it the night before the last results came out:

    Th̲i̲s̲ i̲s̲ t̲h̲e̲ ̲G̲o̲v̲'̲t pr̲e̲d̲i̲c̲t̲i̲o̲n̲ f̲o̲r̲ 2̲0̲3̲0̲.̲ ̲(2012 pricing)
    Onshore wind to be in the range 45-72/MWh
    Offshore wind will be in the range 85-109/MWh
    Nuclear, at 69-99/MWh.
    For solar they predict 59-73/MW

    So the government (tbf the House of Lord's was very critical of these figures saying they did not reflect rapidly falling costs) claimed that off-shore wind would cost 85-109/MWh in 2030, when reality delivered contracts of 57.50 for 2023.

    The difference here is staggering, and again greater still when you consider subsidies not prices, since 7.50 v's 35-59 is immense.


    Back to the article, even cheaper bids are now expected from this latest auction. In fact the bid caps were set at 56 and 53 for 2024 and 2025 delivery respectively (again, 2012 baseline pricing).

    Hopefully now its clear why this is so important and significant, off-shore wind prices (which are higher than on-shore wind and PV*) are getting close to subsidy free (net subsidy free**) meaning that the subsidy pot stretches further and further.

    *Both have been excluded from CfD auctions by the government since 2015 when they launched an absolute raft of policies against both technologies.

    **Net subsidy free, since even a 50 strike price on a varying market that averages 50 will mean subsidies paid out at times, and paid back at times.)
    Mart. Cardiff. 5.58 kWp PV systems (3.58 ESE & 2.0 WNW)

    For general PV advice please see the PV FAQ thread on the Green & Ethical Board.
    • Martyn1981
    • By Martyn1981 11th Jul 19, 6:12 PM
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    Martyn1981
    Example - So for off-shore wind they may ask for bids on 1GW of capacity, and the auction (a reverse auction) looks for the cheapest bids. The CfD mechanism also has max prices for bids to be considered.
    Originally posted by Martyn1981
    For anyone still hanging in, and interested.

    This CfD auction is for upto 6GW of capacity and upto 65m in subsidies.

    I believe that's the total pot for the 15yr period, so to get 6GW of capacity, we'd need bids to come in at around 16p/MWh in subsidies (I think).

    Which may sound crazy, but they are getting closer to the estimated average wholesale price, so maybe?

    From there we get a lovely comparison v's nuclear and HPC, with 6GW of off-shore wind providing approx 3GW of (average) generation and HPC's 3.2GW providing approx 2.94GW (92% cf).

    We get Ff displacing RE generation in 2024/25 (some earlier due to the modular built out) v's HPC around 2028.

    And 65m in subsidies v's 45bn.
    Mart. Cardiff. 5.58 kWp PV systems (3.58 ESE & 2.0 WNW)

    For general PV advice please see the PV FAQ thread on the Green & Ethical Board.
    • GreatApe
    • By GreatApe 11th Jul 19, 6:49 PM
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    GreatApe
    The bit Marty misses probably on purpose is the fact that wind and nuclear are not comparable

    We can say the UK grid would be total carbon free if we had 55GW of nuclear... We could shut down all the gas plants and coal plants if we had that much nuclear

    Mart in his previous post was trying to suggest 1.875 units of offshore wind capacity is equal to one unit of nuclear. It isn't equal because it is quite clear 103GW of offshore wind power would not allow us to close the thermal fossil fuel plants. We would more or less need 50GW of CCGTs as backup and perhaps 30% of our generation would come from natural gas when the wind isn't blowing


    Of course we don't need the extreme of one or the other

    The UK grid is actually going to go towards 40% wind 25% import 2% hydro 3% solar 10% nuclear 20% biomass/Nat-Gas and that's a pretty good low carbon mix more than almost any other large (non hydro heavy) nation and we will get there before 2030
    Last edited by GreatApe; 11-07-2019 at 6:52 PM.
    • GreatApe
    • By GreatApe 11th Jul 19, 8:40 PM
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    GreatApe
    The bit Marty misses probably on purpose is the fact that wind and nuclear are not comparable

    We can say the UK grid would be total carbon free if we had 55GW of nuclear... We could shut down all the gas plants and coal plants if we had that much nuclear

    Mart in his previous post was trying to suggest 1.875 units of offshore wind capacity is equal to one unit of nuclear. It isn't equal because it is quite clear 103GW of offshore wind power would not allow us to close the thermal fossil fuel plants. We would more or less need 50GW of CCGTs as backup and perhaps 30% of our generation would come from natural gas when the wind isn't blowing


    Of course we don't need the extreme of one or the other

    The UK grid is actually going to go towards 40% wind 25% import 2% hydro 3% solar 10% nuclear 20% biomass/Nat-Gas and that's a pretty good low carbon mix more than almost any other large (non hydro heavy) nation and we will get there before 2030
    Originally posted by GreatApe

    Not that it matters because I'm not suggesting we burn down the current infrastructure to go nuclear but we wouldn't need 55GW of nuclear capacity something closer to 25GW would have been a deep decarb. And it wouldn't mean 25GW of new nuclear more like 15GW new nuclear plus keeping the existing nukes longer

    With 2.8GW link to Norway and 7.4GW to France 2GW to rEU (basically what we will have in a few years) the UK grid would be extremely low FF with just 25GW nuclear 20GW CCGTs (mostly idle). With a small carbon tax we'd be about 60% nuclear 20% imports 20% NG so about 80% non fossil

    Thus a direct comparison is 25GW of nuclear Vs roughly
    30GW offshore wind plus
    15GW onshore wind
    10GW PV
    45GW CCGT backup
    10GW of interconntors
    4.8GW domestic nuclear
    Which is more or less our 2030 plan

    Both get the same results roughly 80% non fossil
    Both good results and sufficient imo

    If you want to go further than 80% each additional % point is easier to do with nuclear than it is with wind and there is an obvious way to hit 100% with Nuclear (although costly) but there isn't an obvious way to get to 100% with wind power or wind and PV


    Also interesting if we didn't build any wind or PV or nuclear and instead just built the interconnectors we have built and keep our old nukes and had a modest carbon tax we would be roughly 50% fossil free still pretty good. Interconnectors have/will actually do a lot of the heavy lifting and we are lucky to be in-between France (which has about 30% of its nukes on its north coast easy to export to England) and Norway (which is in the Nord pool of cheap power so will export us a lot of cheap hydropower)
    Last edited by GreatApe; 11-07-2019 at 8:59 PM.
    • michaels
    • By michaels 11th Jul 19, 9:22 PM
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    michaels
    1) I didn't realise that the CFD prices were mirrored - ie that if spot exceeds CFD then the generation is still only paid CFD price. I had always assumed it was a floor but that anything above that went to the supplier.

    2) One issue I guess is that the more wind capacity you have the more it is likely to supress spot when it is windy and thus actually increase the cost of the cfd (although obviously not the price of the leccy)
    Cool heads and compromise
    • GreatApe
    • By GreatApe 11th Jul 19, 10:01 PM
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    GreatApe
    In a parallel universe had Germany in 2010 kept its nukes and what was existing at that time and instead of going on a PV and Wind binge had instead built just 4 nuclear power stations (average 3.5 reactors each) she would have exceeded her current 2030 plan/target

    While nukes take a long time to build, so do renewables....

    If they had built 8 nuke stations by 2030 (starting 2010) she would have had roughly the same nuclear capacity as France (~65GW capacity) annual nuclear output would have been about 94% and their hydro another 4% taking them to 98% non fossil instead they plan to produce ~17 X more fossil in their grid come 2030
    • Hexane
    • By Hexane 11th Jul 19, 11:16 PM
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    Hexane
    http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/CNNC-completes-design-of-district-heating-reactor This is fascinating and solves hearting in perhaps the cheapest way possible
    Originally posted by GreatApe
    Personally, I was always sure that it would be GreatApe who would solve hearting, before anyone else did.
    7.25 kWp PV system (4.1kW WSW & 3.15kW ENE), Solis inverter, myenergi eddi & harvi for energy diversion to immersion heater. myenergi hub for Virtual Power Plant demand-side response trial.
    • Martyn1981
    • By Martyn1981 12th Jul 19, 6:15 AM
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    Martyn1981
    1) I didn't realise that the CFD prices were mirrored - ie that if spot exceeds CFD then the generation is still only paid CFD price. I had always assumed it was a floor but that anything above that went to the supplier.

    2) One issue I guess is that the more wind capacity you have the more it is likely to supress spot when it is windy and thus actually increase the cost of the cfd (although obviously not the price of the leccy)
    Originally posted by michaels
    1. Yes, it's effectively a guaranteed price. A suggested variant for on-shore wind and PV was to issue CfD's below the expected average price, let's say 40/MWh v's an anticipated 50 average. This would simply be to provide income certainty and thereby reduce financing costs (by reducing/eliminating risk).

    This system would pay out subsidies as a top up when below 40/MWh (per the example), but when prices exceed the 40 figure, the companies would get to pocket the extra ..... but only after repaying any subsidies first. So a subsidy free support mechanism.

    2. Yes, but (there's always a but), the price will get suppressed when there's too much supply, but we have still have gas to displace, and nuclear closing down, and perhaps a small but steady rollout of storage too, so hopefully these will all slot together nicely (not particularly nice for the gas generators!)
    Mart. Cardiff. 5.58 kWp PV systems (3.58 ESE & 2.0 WNW)

    For general PV advice please see the PV FAQ thread on the Green & Ethical Board.
    • Martyn1981
    • By Martyn1981 12th Jul 19, 6:26 AM
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    Martyn1981
    Sticking with off-shore wind, couple of news items today.

    1. The Netherlands has issued another subsidy free contract. But for clarity, these tend to be near shore and shallower water, reducing costs, and UK contracts tend to come in higher again as they include the cost of building out the leccy infrastructure to serve them, whereas most European countries pay those costs centrally.

    Vattenfall Wins 760 Megawatt Subsidy-Free Dutch Offshore Wind Tender


    2. More meat on the bones of the idea about installing off-shore wind hubs to serve multiple countries. This article is more about the theory, no idea if it'll ever happen, but interesting none the less.

    Plan To Build 10 Offshore Wind Power Hubs In North Sea Deemed Feasible
    Mart. Cardiff. 5.58 kWp PV systems (3.58 ESE & 2.0 WNW)

    For general PV advice please see the PV FAQ thread on the Green & Ethical Board.
    • Piddles
    • By Piddles 12th Jul 19, 3:58 PM
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    Piddles

    That's not what I remember when I crossed it (twice), unless things have changed since.... Plus I can tell you that that place is very, very, very empty. You could put PVs in there to satisfy the world's entire energy demand and no one would notice!

    Sunshine hours in January: Sahara 290, London 60.

    You guys will probably tell me otherwise, but wouldn't that be cheap enough to displace the single most carbon intensive element of UK's emissions: natural gas for home heating?
    Originally posted by Piddles
    Did anyone answer this? (putting geo-politics aside, of course)
    Last edited by Piddles; 12-07-2019 at 5:14 PM. Reason: clarity
    • Martyn1981
    • By Martyn1981 12th Jul 19, 6:02 PM
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    Martyn1981
    Did anyone answer this? (putting geo-politics aside, of course)
    Originally posted by Piddles
    It's very tricky to answer for real, but if as you say 'putting geo-politics aside' and just theorizing, then it would work fine, with a few issues*.

    First, let's see how much land would be needed, and here we can cheat, since the work was done years ago with this wonderful article that looks at producing all the world's energy (that's all energy) by just PV (or off-shore wind):

    TOTAL SURFACE AREA REQUIRED TO FUEL THE WORLD WITH SOLAR

    As can be seen from the map, the Saharan square would power all of Europe and Africa. And looking at the bottom LHS, that square represents the area of PV needed for the whole world (to scale), which itself would fit easily in the Sahara.

    Also note that at the time this article projected forward to 20% efficient PV, but we are already passed that, bi-facial even higher, and Silicon/Perovskite expected to get into the 30's, so the area would be even less.

    Cost wise, not a problem as prices for PV in sun rich areas with cheap land values have hit $20/MWh.

    *So issues (ignoring politics, wars etc).

    We'd need storage even if we went for overcapacity.
    Need to include the costs of HVDC build out.
    Balance of payments issue as all energy costs would leave the country - Or each nation pays towards the build out, solving this.
    Building our own PV (in reality a mix of RE) would probably work out competitive when all additional costs are taken into account.


    But the takeaway here, I think, is to note that the technology we have today, costs and land area, all show that the problem is 'easily' solveable, it's just about changing the way we do things.

    After all, a 100yrs ago, producing around 350TWh of leccy per year for the UK would have seemed almost impossible, but in reality it was, dare I say, easy, as supply simply ramped up alongside growing demand.


    Edit - BTW for a more comprehensive mix of energy sources for Europe, including N. African solar, then Google Desertec.
    Last edited by Martyn1981; 12-07-2019 at 6:04 PM. Reason: Added an edit.
    Mart. Cardiff. 5.58 kWp PV systems (3.58 ESE & 2.0 WNW)

    For general PV advice please see the PV FAQ thread on the Green & Ethical Board.
    • ed110220
    • By ed110220 12th Jul 19, 7:26 PM
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    ed110220
    Anywhere on the Northern hemisphere is more during our summer and less during our winter

    It's not at all likely because the cost to move the power will be too much but more importantly no nation would want to rely on another for its electricity imports

    The UK isn't going to invest a trillion dollars (or whatever) in an African country when all it takes is one 'democratic vote' to vote that investment as no longer yours. Or do it in one of hundreds of other ways. Introduce an electricity export tax. Same thing basically extortion. It's not like we will nuke them for them. We will just look back at the idiots today who made this crippling decision as we sit in our cold homes and try to figure out a way to heat homes domestically

    It's somewhat different with fossil fuels because there are many suppliers
    With the mass PV in country X you can't take your trillion dolla investment and put it in another country
    Originally posted by GreatApe
    This is not strictly true. Most of the tropics and subtropics have a peak in rainfall (and cloud) around or after the summer solstice ie around July in the northern hemisphere and January in the southern hemisphere. This is often enough to cancel out or invert the pattern of sunnier summers and gloomier winters we are used to in North West Europe. Eg Mumbai gets its monthly minimum of about 90 kWh/kWp in July (its summer) and its maximum of 173 kWh/kWp in March.
    • Piddles
    • By Piddles 12th Jul 19, 10:30 PM
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    Piddles
    It's very tricky to answer for real....
    Originally posted by Martyn1981
    Fabulous, educational post Mart, great links, thank you.

    But without the geo-politics and without the storage, might it be cheap enough to displace natural gas home heating?
    • Martyn1981
    • By Martyn1981 13th Jul 19, 7:00 AM
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    Martyn1981
    Fabulous, educational post Mart, great links, thank you.

    But without the geo-politics and without the storage, might it be cheap enough to displace natural gas home heating?
    Originally posted by Piddles
    I don't know, there are too many variables for me, so I can only guess.

    I know that Iceland can produce dirt cheap leccy, around 20/MWh, but the expected CfD for 'Icelink' which includes the cost of the huge interconnector was around 80/MWh, and didn't progress any further (yet), so we really have to take the cost of interconnectors very seriously.

    There again, a build out through Europe, shared by all countries, and 'Desertec' style designed to shift leccy in all directions, might help reduce costs.

    The difference here being Iceland to the UK is a long, one direction, single stop off cable, whereas an expanded Europe route with multiple countries, and multiple inputs, and multi-directional is obviously different, but my brain gives out at that point on any cost guesses.

    Ignoring interconnector costs, then $20/MWh leccy from Africa kills gas for space heating even on simple and cheap direct leccy heating, but add in 3-4x greater efficiency from heat pumps and there's no contest.

    But back to reality, let's look at wholesale prices v's retail, and we are really talking something around 5p/kWh v's 15-20p/kWh (when standing charges are included too), so we see the fuel cost is actually smaller than all the delivery and administration costs. So comparing fuel cost differences doesn't really answer the question.

    I appreciate this answers nothing, but just trying to convey how complicated things get when you start to include some of the variables.

    I love the idea of African sunshine, but a simpler solution might just be for Spain to build the PV and sell more leccy to Northern Europe, but that too hits the problem of who pays for the interconnectors, as that cost is the bigger issue (I think?)

    [Slight diversion, but this issue becomes very, very important in countries like Australia, where the cost of PV generation and storage on the demand side is heading for the cost of leccy distribution. When generation and storage gets cheaper than distribution, then even if the fuel cost of centralised generation was zero, it will still cost more to buy grid leccy than going off-grid. This problem is almost insurmountable, almost, as working with customers and sharing their storage for grid demand peaks (and paying them high rates) is a way of potentially preventing the loss of upto 1/3rd of the Aussie domestic customer base as self generation grows.]

    A variant on the idea, might be ammonia shipments. Australia and Japan are taking this very seriously and already trialing the transportation of Aussie 'sunlight' to Japan to test the idea.

    So Africa overbuilds PV for their own needs, then ships PV as ammonia (safer and more dense way to move hydrogen) to UK. Think of it like LNG.

    But then we have to compare African PV + all conversion and transport costs, against UK off-shore wind (since this will be a winter issue), and I'm once again completely out of my depth.

    Hope this is fun, even if actual conclusions are too hard to achieve.
    Mart. Cardiff. 5.58 kWp PV systems (3.58 ESE & 2.0 WNW)

    For general PV advice please see the PV FAQ thread on the Green & Ethical Board.
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