The Solar Energy Fraud

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August 14, 2017
The Solar Energy Fraud
By Norman Rogers
Solar energy is not always a fraud. If you live off the electric grid, and
you have a reasonable amount of sunshine, solar power, backed up by
batteries, can be a good option for getting a modest amount of electricity.
It will not be cheap electricity.
Solar is good for powering equipment in remote locations. It is excellent
for powering spacecraft. It is good for direct heating of swimming pools.
Passive solar in the form of buildings designed to utilize sunshine for
warmth and light can save energy.
But, do not think that it is advisable to put solar electricity panels on
your roof. Do not think that it is a good idea for your local utility to
build large solar generating farms. Political influence has created
subsidies and mandates that prop up the solar industry. The money is
extracted from taxpayers and utility customers. The solar industry positions
itself as doing a public service by preventing climate change. Even if you
believe the climate change theories, the solar industry is a negligible
force against climate change.
Utility scale solar in the sunniest climates can generate electricity for
about 7 cents per kilowatt hour (KWh). Outside of the sunny south the cost
is about 9 cents per KWh. Most of the cost is capital cost, amortized over
the life of the plant. Government subsides often cut the price in half for
users of solar electricity.
Residential rooftop solar, under the best conditions, may generate
electricity for about 15 cents per KWh. Usually the cost will be
lives in a sunny climate.
A fundamental error is to suppose that if solar could generate electricity
at a cost equal to conventional generators it would be competitive. The
leading type of conventional generator is combined cycle natural gas. These
plants can generate electricity at a cost approaching 3.6 cents per KWh, or
2 to 3 times cheaper than solar. In order to be competitive, solar has to
generate power not just cheaper than the alternative, but, as will be
explained, cheaper than the fuel consumed by the alternative.
Solar is undependable. It does not work on cloudy days or at night. It stops
working if a cloud passes in front of the sun. Yuma, Arizona, is the
sunniest city in the U.S. Even in Yuma, there are 50 cloudy days and 365
dark nights a year.
Adding solar to the electric grid does not displace conventional generating
plants. Those plants are still there. They just work a little less, sitting
idle when solar is working. The only money solar saves is the fuel that
would have been consumed by the plants that are idle because solar is
generating electricity. Natural gas plants, or coal plants, consume 2-3
cents worth of fuel per KWh. Nuclear plants consume 0.4 cent per KWh and
solar has to compete with natural gas plants, the dominant alternative to
solar. Unless the total cost of utility-scale solar is about 3 cents per
KWh, instead of 7 to 9 cents, it is not going to be competitive with gas.
The less-efficient gas plants consume about 3 cents worth of fuel per KWh of
electricity produced.
Residential rooftop solar electricity costs 15 cents, and usually
considerably more, per KWh. The electricity generated displaces power from
the grid. If the solar power generated exceeds household consumption, the
electricity is exported into the grid. Some electric meters may actually run
backwards if electricity is being exported. In other cases the metering will
measure both grid and solar electricity and payments will be made according
to a prearranged formula.
If markets were not distorted by political influence, rooftop solar would
hardly ever be competitive. But political subsidies and artificially high
electricity prices make rooftop solar competitive in many places. For
example, in California, many owners of large homes are charged over 40 cents
competitive for those owners of large houses.
Just as in utility scale installations, the true value of rooftop solar
electricity is the cost of fuel consumption avoided when the solar is
operating. The result is that the utility is often effectively forced to pay
retail rates, typically about 13 cents per KWh, for electricity whose true
value is about 3 cents per KWh. The owner of the rooftop solar also loses
money unless his retail rate is in excess of the 15-cent, or more, cost per
The organization, Environment America, has published a report: Shining
Rewards The Value of Rooftop Solar Power for Consumers and Society. This
report reviews 11 other reports by solar advocates and utilities that
attempt to calculate the value of rooftop solar to society. The 11 reports
assign a value from a low of 3.5 cents per KWh to a high of 33 cents per
KWh. This wide variation in the value of solar surely indicates that solid
accounting methodology is absent. All the reports by advocates of rooftop
solar found that the value of the electricity to society was greater than
the current retail price of electricity. The three reports from utilities
found the opposite.
How do the advocates of solar assign a value to society? It is a rather
nebulous idea that rooftop solar has a value separate and greater than its
actual economic value. A favorite trick is assigning a social value to CO2
emissions avoided. This is a highly speculative and subjective benefit.
Another trick is to assume that new grid investment can be avoided or
deferred because the solar is present. But on cloudy days, to say nothing of
night, solar is not present, so how can investment in grid infrastructure be
The point of these studies is to make a case that the economic waste of
solar is justified. Once one starts claiming that a dubious climate disaster
ideology, the door is opened to justifying any green foolishness one can
climate disaster. The exact nature of the climate disaster keeps shifting.
It was global warming and that morphed into extreme weather. Global warming
did not work out because the globe stopped warming 18 years ago. Extreme
weather is a better disaster, because nature is always providing extreme
weather that can be blamed on CO2. The recent California drought that turned
into the California flood is a perfect example.
If the believers in the climate cult were logical, they would be promoting
nuclear power. Nuclear power is reliable, does not emit CO2, and has great
prospects for technological advance. Some of the cultists are promoting
nuclear power, but most have an anti-nuclear phobia left over from the
anti-nuclear power movement of the 1970s and '80s. Most of the cultists are
promoting solar and wind power, even though these forms of power can never
dominate the power grid and provide reliable and economic electricity.
Reply to
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Nuclear plants don't work while they are down to change fuel rods?
You really crank your AC and run a ton of lights at 3 am do you? In most places, solar output matches peak-load. You build the solar capacity to supply the difference between day and night. It's very costly to build a conventional plant sized for the peak day load and then let it sit at low capacity all night. The plant costs money whether you are running it or not.
The generators have a life time. Any time they are not running is time before they have to be replaced.
How much when you factor in the disastrous effects on the aquifers from fracking?
How much when you factor in the never ending problem of what to do with spent fuel rods?
There you go. Build lots of dams and electricity will be flat out free for everyone. Ray-o-nomics.
Mostly sold by small time dealers. They mark up the equipment unconscionably and then prohibit you from having storage so they get to be the broker between you and the grid forever. If you sell your house, you have to find a buyer willing to accept the deal you made with the solar guy. Do you think there might be a better model?
True, the solar con-men could not make their sale without tax breaks and controls on what the utility must pay for your energy. As with all good flim-flam schemes, those breaks will go away as soon as they get big enough to hurt government income and the homeowner will find themselves at the short end of a life time contract. Do you think there might be a better model?
Sometimes the power companies say it's cheaper than building new conventional plants. See above re: base and peak load.
The flaw in this pitch is that your old technologies are only cheaper as long as they are already existing and you don't have to build new ones. How long since a new nuclear plant went up?
The fuel cost to operate an existing solar system is ZERO. Might be a hole in your analysis.
A cost of a new conventional plant and a new solar plant is what you need to compare. The framework is how to supply new energy to an expanding market. Do that and your "fuel only - the plant is paid for and free" analysis collapses.
Heck the local water company will pay me handsomely to remove a swamp cooler and replace it with refrigeration. They are flat out against the wall finding new water sources to supply a growing population.
If the value is 3 cents, why doesn't the power company charge me that. It's ludicrous to pretend production cost is only fuel and then go on to pretend production cost is the same as retail. You compare operating cost of existing systems with installation cost of new systems. You have very liberal ideas on the economics of commerce.
Or different service areas, with different solar insolation, and different peak-solar to peak-demand timing, and different regional fuel costs. All costs are equal to everyone ??? Another liberal idea.
Wow. The salesman told me his Gizmodic-7 was the best and Brand X was junk. That's a surprise.
Here we go off the liberal deep end. Nothing to do with dollars and cents, nothing to do with cost and markets. Ray wants to build a better society.
Reply to
Winston Smith
Your solar system costs money 12 hours of darkness every day and runs inefficiently for about half of the remaining 12 hours, unless it's cloudy or winter.
And you still pay depreciation and insurance and salaries and business costs and distribution maintenance and new installations and and and whether you generate electricity not.
If you're willing to have rolling power outages because the grid can't supply the peak load on cloudy days, solar may be just the thing for you. Go live in a third-world country for a while and see how you like it.
The only money solar saves is the fuel that
What do you do with the waste from solar cell production? Or battery replacement?
First thing you have to do is kill off all the tree huggers that want to decommission dams.
I'm listening...
Maintenance, distribution, regulation, fees...
I don't think we have any rational options other than some form of nuclear for the long term. AS long as we're not investing in making nuclear safer and reigning in regulatory blockages, we're losing ground. "Just say no..." is not a reasonable strategy.
Reply to
What is the cost to build a solar system from the raw dirt to the delivery of finished solar panels to your site. I never see that mentioned.....and building solar panels is NOT green. Lots of blood sweat and acids are used just to manufacture them.
I can be a good thing for some people. For others...not so good.
Here in my area..they are pushing solar HARD! Id have to say that at least 20% of homes already have solar panels on their roofs and they have been installed in the past 5 or so years. Now Ive seen many of the installatioins...a shit ton of panels on the north sides of homes. The fucking north side. With a moderately steep roof. Who the hell benefits from that? Sure isnt the home owner. And when you ask the home owner how big the battery bank is...they look at you blankly and say..."batteries"? When I ask do you store your power...they say..."store?".
There were a number of tax advantages to installing what turned out to be largely worthless (to the home owner) solar..but most of them have expired and folks are now dealing with leaking roofs and solar arrays that might make the house look "cool and green"...but serve absolutely zero purpose.
Its been an interesting scam of sorts around here..and the few that will talk about it..look both ways before commenting.
This is very interesting...considering most of our power is generated locally via gas fired generation plants..using natural gas from our very big local oilfields.
Reply to
Gunner Asch
He never said they were green.
Reply to
I didnt indicate that he had.
However...the buzzword in the solar "its gotta be good..its Green!!!"
Reply to
Gunner Asch
Gunner Asch on Tue, 15 Aug 2017 20:19:57 -0700 typed in misc.survivalism the following:
So is copper arsenate. Green.
Reply to
pyotr filipivich
Who cares? You'll never have money for one.
No, you haven't.
Reply to
Harvey Weirman
A map of Bakersfield - cute. No photos of houses with solar panels on the north side of the house. Not that anyone expected there would be.
You haven't seen any houses with solar panels on the north sides of the house. Glad we have that settled.
No "cull", no "list", no "those who keep the list", no "264mph motorcycle ride", and no "solar panels on the north side of the house." All bullshit, every word of it.
Reply to
Harvey Weirman
You didn't see any houses with solar panels on the north side of the house. That's settled.
You always get caught lying, and always *easily* caught.
Reply to
Harvey Weirman

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