Re: Government hinders solar power

Date: Thu Jan 18 2001 - 01:44:29 MST

zeb haradon wrote:
> I realized something about the price controls on electricity, they severely
> hinder the development of alternative energy sources.
> Solar and wind power are more expensive then fossil fuels - would this still
> be true if the price controls were removed from fossil fuels?

Solar and wind power are already not more expensive than fossil fuels,
if you happen to live way off the grid, and would have to pay for the
connecting infrastructure all by yourself. Because fossil fuel prices
only go up, and PV (and I guess aeolian) generators go down, the islands
of profitability can only grow.

Moreover, decentralized power generation (in extreme cases rolling your own)
does have important synergies. Reliability goes up due to redundancy (in
case a power grid island overloads, you can temporarily separate it from the
grid, so only a small fraction of the grid blacks out), you don't have to
transform up to high voltages (less hardware) to minimize transportation
losses, you get cleaner power (a problem I noticed in the U.S.,
lots of spikes and glitches), can use heat (less lossage due to short average
distances), and couple consumers and producers much more tightly (which is
a Good Thing).

Makes sense, eh?

Right now it should be quite profitable to use large (several 100 kW)
high-temperature natural gas fuel cells for clusters of homes, but
eventually, natural gas reformers and low-temperature hydrogen fuel
cells should become available. Since they burn hydrogen, they
interoperate with photovoltaics and water electrolysis very nicely --
on the long run reducing dependancy on the fossil (though rather
abundant and hydrogen-rich) fuel methane.

> My power company has some plan where you can "sponsor" a windmill. You can't
> just buy power from them which has been windmill generated (and which is the
> simplest most effective way to support alternative energy supplies), because
> it's illegal for them to sell it. They're required by law to offer only the
> cheapest source of power.

Amazing silliness.

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