Friday, September 28, 2012

October Updates

The one I built when I was a kid was way better.
Economics of Photoelectricity - October

Several new tables have been added and/or expanded. The sources section was updated. Plenty of general housekeeping.


I finished up a prototype of the appliance model. I've done some preliminary work on a Domestic Hot Water model but am mostly still in research mode trying to understand how to PEPE-fy the NREL model I have to work with. Unfortunately, I noticed there's something very wrong with the DNI model I have so that code will have to get a tune up.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Dreaming Big

I threw mine first. NO! I threw mine first.
NO NO NO! I threw mine first!
The recently announced goal of 200 GW of PE in Germany will be sufficient to replace all the lost nuclear power with some spare left over to displace a quarter of their current coal power. Efficiency measures, LEDs and heat pumps specifically, will push another quarter of the coal off the grid by the time Germany reaches 100 GW ten-ish years from now.

The German example has lead the world to install around 100 GW of PE over the last half a dozen years. They've shown how to drive installation costs down below $2/Watt. They've said to the sun-baked world... Look here, if you can reach our costs with your sunshine you can make electricity for around 7 cent/kWh from your roof! Vat is nicht to love? It's not at all hard to imagine costs coming down to $1/Watt in the next few years for installs in China and India.

These low costs will drive installation rates well in excess of 100 GW/year only a few years from now. Those GW will be displacing coal, nukes, gas, diesel and wind plants. China will likely get up to a rate of 200 MW per week by next year. The US will reach this installation rate once we work our policy issues out. And so on with Brazil, Russia, India, South Africa, Pakistan, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and on and on.

The big dream goal is to reach an installation rate of 300 GW per year by 2025. This is from the current rate of ~35 GW/year in 2012. The 300 GW goal appears to be solidly possible considering the industry has grown 10 fold over the last 5 years. The guantlet has been thrown. It's a big guantlet.

Note on U.K. Market

The UK market appears to be undergoing a steady recovery following the August FiT adjustments. The 4 MW per week installation rate is too little for some but the current growth in installation rates is encouraging. If growth rates continue to climb the weekly installs will be up to around 10 MW by the end of the year. I wouldn't be at all surprised by a weekly installation rate closer to 20 MW.

The FiT rates in the U.K. remain sufficiently attractive to drive double digit IRRs - an investment that's hard to beat. With system prices down under 2,000 pounts/kWp (~$3,000 USD/Watt) a 3 to 4 kWp system is price accessible for the middle class. The word will most definitely get out during the family dinners this holiday season. The next FiT cut is set for November 1st but it's a minor cut from 16 to 15.4 p/kWh for systems under 4 kW. This minor FiT cut is unlikely to result in an installation spike. That's a good thing considering the herky jerkiness the UK solar market has experienced in 2012. It rather looks like smooth sailing for the Brits... Famous last words.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Atom: My that thing has gotten huge!!
Kohle: Immediately stop any further growth!

Note on German Market

Installs in Germany have reached an estimated 5236 MW through August. Some analysts are expecting lackluster results for September through the end of the year. I think several things could help the German market have a strong 2 plus GW finish to the year.

1. The EEG surcharge for 2013 will be announced by 15 October 2012. The surcharge is expected to jump from the current 3.592 cet/kWh up to 5.21ish ct/kWh. It makes sense that all the hair-pulling press around higher electricity rates could drive some to install photoelectric systems.
2. The lower temperatures and shorter days of fall are likely to drive electricity bills higher. These high electricity bills could push some extra photoelectric demand. In the past we've always attributed the end of year rush to the re-indexing of FiT rates but going forward we may be able to see a cold-weather effect.
3. There may be some last minute September installs associated with the cut-off date for grandfathering of systems on so-called conversion areas. These installs could be in the neighborhood of 1000 MW give or take.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

US Installers to Lay Off Paint in Favor of Amphetamines

Why Are Residential PV Prices in Germany So Much Lower Than in the United States?

Survey results indicate that, on average, systems are installed roughly 10 times faster in Germany than in the U.S. (7.5 vs. 75 hours per system).

How could the Germans be 10 times faster? What the hell is going on? Are zee Germans on speed? Are we sniffing paint?

In other Amphetamine News...

One of the greatest mathematicians of the 20th century, Paul Erdős, took amphetamines after the age of 58 until his death at the age of 83 (he had previously sustained himself on copious amounts of coffee). He took amphetamines despite the concern of his friends, one of whom (Ron Graham) bet him $500 that he could not stop taking the drug for a month.[84] Erdős won the bet, but complained that during his abstinence mathematics had been set back by a month: "Before, when I looked at a piece of blank paper my mind was filled with ideas. Now all I see is a blank piece of paper." After he won the bet, he promptly resumed his amphetamine use.

For the Bedouin who has Everything

Monday, September 24, 2012

Shit... This guy Christian Breyer is Pretty Damn Smart Too!

If we are to consider the global PV industry growing to 300 GW/a by 2025, it would be a part of a major energy transformation. Why do you think such a transformation is necessary?
The key is energy, always energy. It’s the driver of the world and of course we hear that about oil but at the end it’s energy. We need to reach a minimum level of wealth to get the population growth down, and then we have a chance to manage all the further problems in the world. To stabilize the population at 10 billion people, we need to get people much wealthier than they are today in the developing countries. There is a minimum per capita income to get the birth rate per woman down to a level of two, and for that minimum income you need a minimum energy level. Without managing global population growth, we will for sure lose everything. If we get that fixed then we have a good chance to find a path to sustainability.

Read more:[backCat]=207&cHash=1b3ffb784c93162a145f7e2a33d3245d#ixzz27Q80JmYm

Martin Green is the Smartest Guy in the Room

Professor Martin Green

"A PV market of 300 GW/a by 2025 definitely seems possible, corresponding to an installed capacity of about one TW by the end of that year and producing about 6% of world electricity — about the same level as in Germany in 2012. The economics will be very favorable for residential and commercial systems with the German experience showing that such penetration levels pose few problems. Increasing resistance from market incumbents, such as we are now seeing in Australia, is likely to be the main impediment. On the technology front, I would still see silicon maintaining its dominance, with polysilicon prices continuing to drop, directionally solidified ingots becoming larger and also largely monocrystalline, sawing costs decreasing and efficiencies on the resulting very thin wafers approaching the UNSW lab record of 25%. Perhaps some of the newer technology our group is now working on, aimed at growing thin film crystalline tandem cells on top of standard silicon cells, will have found its way to the market by then, providing a path to above 40% efficiency."

Read more:

Thursday, September 20, 2012

PV as the Utility... The beginning of an Idea...

A comment posted on a site I like.

Ditto to Warwick's comments and then some. If the opposition is saying PV is middle class welfare let them. So what if they're right... Don't argue against the opposition - argue for your proposition. Be forward and pick your field and force the opposition to argue the points on your ground. We know that PV in high quantity pushes prices down in the wholesale market. Everybody, whether they have PV or not, should benefit from those lower wholesale prices. This should be a leading argument on our side.

PV starts out as an option that lowers electricity costs for the entity that installs the system. In the beginning PV systems are subsidized so there are costs that are spread out into the larger community. PV in Australia grew through the "in the beginning" stage like bamboo on steroids. PV is now growing into a utility.

Utility: Noun, The state of being useful, profitable, or beneficial

I see PV as becoming a utility. Utilities aren't free. We all recognize that utilities need to make a profit but that's ok because they provide a service that's worth paying for. Why not frame PV as a utility? The people that install PV get to make their profit but they also share a useful service with the community.

And oh yeah... No smoke is involved in PV... No Sulfur oxide... no nitrogen oxide... no mercury... no particulate.

I don't think the case for PV should lead with the green aspects but I think they are great closing arguments.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

7 Layer Gyp

One of these things is not like the other.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Graphic Future Updated - Now sprinkled with Brits

Solar Choice recently published updated info that allowed me to fix the Australian data from the previous graph I posted. As expected the cost per watt went up by around 800 dollars a kilowatt. That said, Australian systems are still going for nearly half the cost of solar in the U.S. Tragic... 

I've also added a graph which shows the trajectory of system costs in the U.K. Note that in the U.K. you have to pay the VAT on a PV system (at least that's my understanding) but in Germany the VAT is refunded. Italy as I recall has a reduced VAT on PV systems. So many VAT rules, so little time.

*German data comes from BSW. US data comes from GTM & SEIA. Australian data comes from IEA & Solar Choice. Italian data comes from IEA and personal research. U.K. data comes from Compare my solar. I've thrown in some guesstimates here and there to smooth out spaces with sparse data. Data with sources can be found in the Economics of Photoelectricity spreadsheet. 

**The current Australia data has the STC striped out but the pre-2012 data still has the STC included in the system price. This is why the Australian data takes a strange dive and then suddenly plateaus. If I had the STC removed from the pre-2012 data the graph would probably be much more gradual. Here's a similar graph that shows the dive in system prices. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Zero Milestone in Washington, D.C.
Any day now the world will reach 100 GW of cummulative photoelectric capacity.

And the dreams go on... And the dreams go on...
La dee da dee dee... La dee da dee die...

Friday, September 7, 2012

Sigh the Petition

Read about the Petition

The petition started yesterday. 117,000 had signed by this morning when the article was written. Just over 350,000 had signed it by the time I found the poll this evening

It takes less than 30 seconds to sign it... Spread the word.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Aphorism of the Day

Never underestimate the power of bad luck, the remarkably insane or yourself.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Robo-Samurai Vs. MondoBot

Samurai Jack and the Voltron hack play cat and mouse through the city
The mouse is saved by an asphalt wave and robots who take pity

Andromeda you see was a metropolis of dreams defended by wit and steel
But the steel went sour and made WAR with its power until all was dust under heel

So Jack comes along, seems he’s the chosen one and a prophesy gets him a diving
A mystery whose key is sunk in the sea… AH-HA! Jolly Green Jack arriving

Godzilla would be proud of the silence and the loud in the duel between these titans
It’s Jack’s show after all so don’t expect a draw but DAMN...that was some good fightin’

Undersecretary of go fuck yourself...

Rahm and the F-Bomb

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Apparently it's like being stabbed in the eye with a rainbow...

Is there a Clown Convention in Town that I don't know about?

SEIA Sheds Light on Tax Treatment of Solar Financing 

"Regardless of the financial structure used, studies have suggested that the government gets back more than the amount of the tax credit or Treasury cash grant in cases where solar systems are leased or the electricity is sold under a PPA. The government collects income taxes on the rents or electricity payments, unlike where systems are owned by customers directly.|
This is a multi-billion dollar lie.

The SEIA is actually suggesting that a cookbook manufactured by SolarCity qualifies as a study? Wow... Jeez... SEIA... You're fired. 

I read from over 20 different solar sites from the US, Europe, Australia and Asia just about everyday. You know how often I run into stuff from the SEIA? Once maybe twice a month. This in an era of massive solar tectonic movement no less. And then when they do open their mouth it's to be neutral on the CASM situation and/or this type drivel?

Dear SEIA,
Do better. 

What Manner of Jackassery is this?

Solar Energy in the Central Valley and the Chicken and Egg Challenge

What's green, clownish and wrong all over? Carl Zichella. He's easily my least favorite green bureaucrat on the planet. It's like Robot says in Heavy Metal... "How'm I gonna fix this guy? He's fucked."

On one side of the aisle you have environmental organizations like Basin and Range Watch, Western Lands Project and Solar Done Right lobbying for local solar on previously disturbed land that avoids the need for expensive/unnecessary transmission projects. On the other you have folks like Zichella at the NRDC being backwards and having the audacity to advertise their backasswardery as virtue.

Note to self... Bureaucrat is a perfectly dispicable word - even spelling it is a pain. Speaking of which...

zichella (n): A phony green/environmental person, place, puppet or thing that says one thing and does another. AKA: greenwasher, shillbilly, D n' A

zichical (adj): Of pertaining to, or concerned with double negative advocacy (D n' A).

zich (vb): Fraudulent activity performed by an environmental group.

Least Enlightened Path Possible

Enlightened Buddha Statue

Environmental groups protest U.S. Interior Department plans for solar

"By converting public lands to industrial energy factories in fragile, remote areas with massive requirements for transmission at great cost to ratepayers and the environment, our renewable energy policy is taking the least enlightened path possible, while attempting to create the illusion of innovation and progress..."

When asked for comment regarding the environmental group's position Madame Von Stupp replied, "Oh it's twue, it's twue, it's twue, it's twue!"

Saturday, September 1, 2012

PEPE - September 2012

After taking most of the last year off I have started back at work on PEPE. At this point I'm 50% refamiliarized with the algorithm but some of the code still looks like magic. I really should have left better notes, especially on the Synthetic Weather section of the algorithm. Meh... I'll figure it out eventually.

I'm working on two tracks at the moment. Track A) Go through the existing code, break it into blocks and move those blocks into modules. This process is rather mindnumbing but reorganizing the code is long overdue. Track B) Add a Load Simulation code.

I'm using the load model from "Domestic electricity use, A high-resolution energy demand model" as a guide. The load modelling procedure starts off with a simulation of active home occupancy - in this case Active Occupancy means you are home and you're also awake.  This section of code essentially looks at three things:

1. How many people live in the house?
2. What day of the week is it?
3. What time of day is it?

These three questions are used to look up a set of coordinates in a transition probability matrix. The transition probability matrices are built to take into account the behavior of normal people. For example, normal people are active during the day rather than at night. It's also normal for people stay up later on the weekends compared to the weekdays. The Active Occupancy model wasn't too hard to translate and reconfigure to my needs. I still have some tweaking to do but my version of the model seems to be working for the most part. As it turns out solving this Occupancy algorithm offered a smooth way to slide back into coding.

Anyways... once you have an Active Occupancy profile you can use the data to predict the likelihood of people using energy in the home. This makes sense when you think about the fact that people generally only watch TV and run the Microwave when they're home and awake. The goal here isn't to predict exactly when people are using electricity to watch TV - I'm interesting is predicting approximately when people are likely to use electricity. The overall goal is to build a bottom up load model. This bottom up model will compile the demand from individual loads - things like lighting, dishwashing, TV, stove.

Lights, Camera, Action

After the Occupancy model I moved on to my first load - Lights. I lifted the Lighting Model from the same jokers that put together the Occupancy model. These guys designed their lighting demand model around the rather reasonable idea that people are more likely to have their lights on if it's dark outside. The model came with a database that had generic sunshine profiles for 12 different days - one standard day for each month. If you wanted to know how sunny it was you'd look up the sunsine for that time of day and particular month in a data table. You'd then scale the table's sunshine value by a random number to come up with an Irradiance value. This lighting simulation method is all well and good for a quick and dirty Irradiance estimator but PEPE already has an hourly synthetic weather model which calculates Sunshine. It wasn't too difficult to fix things so that the Lighting Model is working off my Synthetic Sunshine data versus the table lookup method. At this point I still have another 10% of the Lighting Model to finish up but I think I have my head wrapped around what needs to be done. Tick and Tack... Can I get a Toe?

I've got a Sunday shift tomorrow which should be quiet enough to allow me to complete the Lighting Model and move over to the Appliance model. I'm thinking the Appliance model is similar to the Lighting model so it's shouldn't be all that hard to rejigger. Once the Appliance model is out of the way I'm hoping to move on to a water heating demand model and finally a space heating demand model.

All these individual energy simulations put together will give a simulated load profile for an idividual home. The load profile with be a synthetic simulation but if done right the simulation will be statistically accurate.

Once I have a simulated load profile the next step is to develop an energy management system strategy. The goal of the EMS strategy will be to maximize the home's solar self-consumption. This is done by identifying the shiftable loads and developing a shifting strategy. As a general rule shiftable loads have one of two qualities - A shiftable load either stores heat and/or the load performs some sort of flexible batch process like cleaning dishes or drying a load of laundry. Shiftable loads are sub-classified as Autonomous or Semi-Autonomous. Here's how the classifications of shiftable loads break down.

Refrigerator - stores heat and batch process (ice making), autonomous
Dishwasher - potentially flexible batch process, semi-autonomous
Washing machine - potentially flexible batch process, semi-autonomous
Dryer, - potentially flexible batch process, semi-autonomous
Water heater - stores heat, autonomous
Space heater - stores heat, autonomous
Pool pumps - potentially flexible batch process, autonomous
Air dehumidifier - potentially flexible batch process, autonomous

A refrigerator is a basic autonomous load. Here's how a refrigerator might operate when under the control of an Energy Management System

Scenario 1.
Fridge: Hey, EM (EM is short for Energy Management System)
EMS: What can I do for you?
Fridge: I'm currently running at X degrees.
EMS: I have no surplus power. Standby. Run down to X + 4 degrees. I should have excess power for you then. If not run a half-cool cycle back to X degrees.
Fridge: OK.

Scenario 2.
Fridge: Hey, EM
EMS: What can I do for you?
Fridge: I'm currently running at X degrees.
EMS: I have surplus power available. Run to lowest temperature (X - 6 degrees). That should take 22 minutes.
Fridge: Why are you so bossy?
EMS: Shut up and do your job.
Fridge: You're a dick.

Scenario 3.
Fridge: Hey, EM
EMS: What can I do for you?
Fridge: I'm running at 75% ice capacity. Is now a good time to top up?
EMS: I have surplus power available. Top up to 100% ice capacity.
Fridge: OK. Sorry about calling you a dick.

A dishwasher is a semi-autonomous load. By semi-autonomous I mean a user has to trigger a start but once triggered the machine runs through a pre-programmed cycle.

The Sitch...

1. You've got a load of dishes that you want done.
2. You don't need the dishes clean for a few hours so you press the Delayed Start Button
3. It's 8 a.m and the Sun is low on the horizon.

DW: Hey EM.
EMS: What can I do for you DW?
DW: I just got a Delayed Start command. What should I do?
EMS: I don't currently have any surplus power but the weather forecast indicates clear skies today. I should have enough power for you to run in approximately 1 hour.
DW: Sounds good. Slot me in for 9 a.m.

The idea behind all this load management is to maximize the amount of power delivered from the photoelectric system to the loads in the home. If we assume the solar power is cheaper than utility electricity it means that each extra sliver of solar power that is used saves the end-user money. Make sense? Good...

Economics of Photoelectricity - September 2012

Economics of Photoelectricity - September 2012