Friday, May 31, 2013

Economics of Photoelectricity - June 2013

Economics of Photoelectricity - June 2013 (click me... I'll take you to a download page)

- New stuff...
- I reworked the Inputs page. The new layout has some bugs but it works most of the time. In situations where the suggested inputs block contains data with Standard Deviation values the code will execute a Monte Carlo type simulation - takes about 5 seconds on my computer. The graph tab (4th over) has an interactive visualization of the results - See picture below.
- As far as the calculations go I shifted away from prorating the code by month. I figured out that my prorating code was changing results significantly. Basically what was happening with previous versions was that if you chose January as a start month you'd be fine but if you chose any other month you'd be hooped. This occurred because I didn't prorate my inflation and discounting equations. I understand how to fix the problem but have decided against making the program unnecessarily complicated. I want this program to make sense to people (me first off). All the new prorating logic would work against my goal of making this program readable. So... I've decided (for now) to eliminate first year and last year prorating and run the simulation as if the system was installed in January. This effects the code by 1%. The code isn't meant to be +/- 1% accurate so WGAF.
- Plenty of new Feed in Tariff data - new countries and updates to existing countries.
- Added a retail electricity price converter. This new converter allows you to look at retail electricity prices in any currency.
- Added a System ASP converter. This new converter allows you to convert the price of a Photoelectric system from its native currency to the currency of your choosing.
- Added a Unit Converter and a Currency converter with simple interfaces.
- Et Cetera....

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Installations and FiTs in Germany

Germany recently published installation statistics showing that 367.717 MW were installed in April. That's actually more than the 359 MW installed last year in the same month. The April statistics show a continuation of healthy performance in the sub 10 kW category and the over 1 MW category with weaker performance in the middle categories.

Germany is only just finishing with one of the worst winters ever recorded so there's a chance that some pent up demand spilled into April from the long winter - I can't say for sure but am only speculating on the conservative side. If May and June show strong performance we'll know the market is balancing. If the anti-dumping tariff goes through all bets are off.

If healthy growth continues in the sub 10 kW category it would make sense to combine the sub 10 kW tranche with the 10 to 40 kW FiT tranche. As it stands the difference between these categories is less than a penny and the rates are slowly converging. Harmonizing the rates between these tranches would remove the artificial barrier to sizing systems over 10 kW. Ideally, all the solar FiT rates should be the same but the market isn't quite ready for that - maybe sometime next year - baby steps...


Solar installation in 1-minute from WattElse Solar on Vimeo.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Mac Bandy

My dad use to say opinions are like assholes... everybodys got one... In a perfect world opinions and assholes are in perfect balance. Trouble is we live in a world of douche bags getting paid for extra opinions. One douche bag can easily have four assholes. All these extra assholes running around causes a havoc. This is why we need extra dicks to keep the extra assholes in check. Truth... Thanks for that breakdown dad.

Answering Variability with Vanilla

Imagine if you had a single 200 watt solar panel on your roof and your minimum usage was 200 watts. In this arbitrary circumstance your minimum usage is driven by the standby requirements of all your gadgets - VCRs, record players and such. This 200 watt solar panel would never backfeed any power to the grid because your production would never exceed your minimum usage by default.

Imagine if you had two panels on your roof. In this situation you'll backfeed sometimes because your minimum usage is only 200 watts and sometimes your two panels will be producing more than 200 watts. Now what if you had a fancy refrigerator that knew when your panels were producing more than 200 watts and what if this fancy pants refrigerator had a logic circuit that told it to run when there was excess power available from the solar panels. What if your two panels only produced more than 200 Watts for 100 hours a year and what if your refrigerator could run in all of those hours? If that was the case you'd never backfeed because your usage would always be above your production. FNA... check...

Imagine 5 panels producing 1000 watts. You'll back feed right? Well... What if your refrigerator, dish washer, clothes dryer and water heater all knew when your panels were producing. Imagine these appliances powering up when power was available.

Imagine X panels producing Y watts. Imagine a collection of appliances starting and stopping to consume the Y watts.

What people don't get is that this thought problem is important. If solar households and businesses start coordinating power production and power use the whole way we run the grid changes. The fascinating thing here is that consumers who manage consumption actually make managing the grid easier. Variability of supply is cancelled by flexible variability of demand. It's just that easy. It really is.

Few see this. Energy geeks want Rocky Road solutions but the solution is plain Vanilla. Vanilla is plenty good. Get used to it Geeks.

Hi... I'm gay... Looking for a pirate to jump on this caboose.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Threat of Euro Tariffs on Chinese PV

Man this tariff shit is a total bummer. I really hope the parties resolve their issues without a tariff and without these quota and price fixing ideas being implemented - these price fixing ideas are horrendously backwards. Ack cough spit. The devil you know is better than this quixotic bureaucratic plan  The quota idea feels like a rogue wing of the civil service trying to get a cut. It's so nakedly un-thought out? How did the idea make the airwaves?

What we know

We know solar is getting cheaper. What can we do with this know? I think we should keep making solar cheaper. Keep pressing progress. We're on track to make solar cheap enough to start making a real difference. Solar will foster an ecosystem of energy management and efficiency technologies. The whole way we build and operate the grid will slowly evolve to a 5% grid, then 10% then 20% then 40%. How far can we take it? It depends on how well efficiency, energy management and solar work together. I myself cannot perform the cost optimization math at the architectural level but I understand that you could if you had good software.

I want to see the future sooner rather than later. I don't want to wait a few extra years while all these trade organizations figure out how to unfuck themselves. Resource wars are a bitch. This whole case is a really weird version of a resource war but in this version one country is dumping a cheap resource on another rather than restricting it. Weird version.

The counter argument here is that China is only temporarily dumping cheap product. Supposedly they'll stop once the Americans and Europeans lose all their solar manufacturing ability. By stop I mean jack up their prices. This argument would hold water if photoelectrics were cheaper than wind, coal and natural gas. Solar is cheaper in some areas but not most. You have to think that European demand for solar shrank last year due the interrelated issues of falling tariffs and difficult macroeconomics. If demand for solar at X price is shrinking you can be assured that demand for solar at X + 20% price is going to shrink more. We need to continue pressing prices down across Europe to where the Germans have taken prices. Why shoot yourself in the face just because you can't make solar panels domestically? Give manufacturing to the Chinese for a few years. Make a supply deal. Trade your few manufacturers (a bishop at best) to keep your rooks (sales, design, installation, energy management, efficiency markets and polysilicon manufacturing). That's a whole lotta loss for a quirky fairness beef.

Like I said. Total bummer.

Friday, May 17, 2013

CO2 vs Snozberries

The effort to reduce CO2 emissions is secondary to the effort to reduce the costs of CO2 free technologies like wind, solar and efficiency. The CO2 clowns have got to hang it up and shut up and stop being hysterical scare crows. We live in a capitalist world... Capitalists don't care about the environment. We care about competitiveness. CO2 is a secondary concern if we can engineer wind, PV, efficiency and energy management into cheaper sources of electricity than coal, nuclear, gas et cetera. CO2 is essentially irrelevant if a non-CO2 sources of power are cheaper than CO2 sources of power. Its the basic argument for nukes just different. i.e. If nukes were cheaper than coal we wouldn't have a CO2 problem. Here's my thinking... Focus on pollution if you want to stick it to coal. That shit is nasty - mercury, NOx, SOx, particulate and all sort of other bad stuff. Fuck coal with the EPA and call it a day.

It's gotten ridiculous how big the writing is on the wall. Big letters. 

Average PV efficiencies are trending at 15ish percent currently. Efficiencies will ratchet up to 20% plus over the next decade. A 33% improvement in efficiency will be accompanied by a >33% improvement in costs. Big time wow stuff. This ain't the 70's. We've got lots of data on long term learning curves and such. Meanwhile the conventional players have their costs going up. The trends are crossing. Gay acceptance trends, Pot acceptance trends and Wind/Solar competitiveness trends are all crossing. Liberal hippy paradise here we come.

I think the all of the above energy policy espoused by Obama and his DOE is silly political posturing. I prefer a best of the above policy.
Nuclear doesn't make the cut so it's cut.
Carbon capture doesn't make the cut so it's cut.
Offshore wind doesn't make the cut so it's cut.
CSP doesn't make the cut so it's cut.
Storage doesn't make the cut so it's cut.
PV, Wind, Efficiency and Management make the cut - keep them. 

That's how it breaks down. Lux and IMS and Willy Wonka Energy Analysis Factory can write all the goofy reports they want about how storage or concentrating solar or wish energy or whatever else is going to become a fictional multi-billion dollar biz. It's bogus Snozberry flavor of the month garbage. Fundamentals and trend analysis tell us this.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


According to the quote, roughly 30% of households can
monetize the the 30% ITC.  Note: As you lower installed
costs you dramatically raise the accessibility.  

"...those with $75,000 income per household would probably have a tax liability to monetise the ITC tax credit, an easier process with a tax return than filling out a FedEx shipping form."
Will 2016 be the end of the roof for third party lease models?
This article slings and arrows the TPO model something fierce. It also answers the question: Why does the fleshless TPO model get so much attention? Answer. Greedy Charlies.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Compensating For Something?

Jinnis are awesome... Asked for a Giant Bronze... Got a Building.... Shit...

Wednesday, May 8, 2013


The Siege of Sparta, by Jean-Baptiste Topino-Lebrun.
"Die Schutzzölle werden ein Pyrrhussieg der wenigen Solarfirmen um EU ProSun sein, den sie gegen den erklärten Willen der großen Masse der europäischen Solarfirmen angezettelt haben"

Tuesday, May 7, 2013


I’m expecting that the low costs being attained by the technology right now is exciting for everyone involved in the industry, so despite the present period of financial hardship, I think everyone has realized that the technology has got to the stage where it’s got a guaranteed future.

Sunday, May 5, 2013


"We are therefore on the threshold of it being more cost-effective for German industrial companies, which consume between 500 and 2000 MWh, to use PV energy they have generated themselves, than to obtain energy from the grid at a price of 0.125 euro/kWh."
Study, Levelized Cost of Electricity from Renewable Energies - Christoph Kost et al. - Fraunhofer - May 2012

Installed costs in Germany have fallen by 20% since the Fraunhofer report was published last year... i.e. Industrial companies have crossed the threshold of cost-effectiveness.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Love Stream

Love is like the Sun

Both create energy out of matter
Both cycle in funny ways
Both consume and give
Both are forever and ever will be

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Economics of Photoelectricity - May 2013 Update

Shipwreck of the SS American Star off Fuerteventura
Economics of Photoelectricity - May 2013 Update

I updated several LCOE models that have been in prototype mode up to this point. The updated LCOE models cover Diesel, Wind, Fossil and Nuclear electricity production costs.  The Assumption sets that feed the LCOE models have also been updated. I've primarily been working on the Fossil Model so there may be some blatant problems with the Diesel, Wind and Nuclear calculations - As always send me a note if you find something wrong.

I would encourage anyone who thinks photoelectricity is too expensive to run the numbers on the costs of new coal electricity - You're in for a surprise.