Let me first welcome you to this board, there are some very knowledgeable people here. They are very friendly and we love to exchange idea and thoughts.
As for renewable energy, I think it is a great idea. One of my "concerns" I think would be what to do with solar panels if they break. Can they be thrown out with the regular trash or do they need special handling?
Cherrio from across the pond. Welcome to ECN Forum.
My fear fear of govenment red tape and the high cost of development will hinder progress. Very high fuel costs validates the expense of alternative energy remotely but not in town. That's has to do with location as well up in Alaska.
I am a big supporter of solar but the cost is out of the hands of the average Joe. Now with the economy in the toilet. Cuts in the demands which cuts production, which cuts profits which cuts investment into bigger faster cheaper. Even with solar panels, all the raw materials come in by boat, truck, and plane which takes fossil fuel to get from the ground to the customer so that pushes prices up
Depends of what part of the country you are in and what kind of rebates and incentives are available. Joe Solar up in Alaska will probably have a harder time than someone in New Jersey, Arizona or California. Solar installatioins have steadily increased over the last few years but we can do better.
This industry is incentive driven (http://www.dsireusa.org/) and I think we need to get off that model eventually, especially before the money dries up. I don't think that is possible until the modules themselves really come down in price.
Ontario, Canada is enjoying a boom in solar because of a very lucrative microFiT program, the same type that Germany has had for 5 years. FiTs are a great way to encourage people to install solar as long as the program can sustain itself. Spain, for example, showed us how to run a FiT program, and how not to run one.
I am not sure shifting the burden to the overextended government is a great idea. If 3/4ths of the cost is hidden in government subsidies and the government is borrowing 40% of that from the Chinese, is that really better?
There are some renewable energy ideas that do make fiscal sense but none of them involve electricity. Heating water is a winner, either for domestic use or for swimming pools and spas. Using 4 swimming pool collectors I was able to get my spa within 10 degrees of useful, virtually free (covered spa, open collectors). Adding the last 10 degrees was a whole lot cheaper than starting with a 40 degree delta. Next year I an going to try it with glazed collectors. My fear is I could get it too hot.
One concern I have w/respect to Germany's Feed In Tariffs, is that they may have gone too far. It is my understanding that they are now suffering from grid instability because they now have a significant percentage of wind generation.
Relatively speaking, Germany is a small country. When a large weather front moves thru, the wind generation shifts significantly, thus effecting grid stability. As they tie in to the surronding grids, that effect may be reduced.
I like to go look at wind farms when we travel and I notice that it you watch long enough you will see them feather a couple turbines. The only thing that makes sense to me is they are using the wind generators to balance the grid because they don't necessarily feather them all. Usually it is only one or two. I do wonder how you keep a grid balanced when you have a significant amount of the feed being at the whims of wind and clouds.
I was reading an interesting story in a magazine at the doctor's office yesterday. They are building a dam across some big body of tidal water and using it as a bridge with the whole under part being low speed turbines that catch the tide. They said the Golden Gate Bridge could generate enough power to run the whole bay area. I wonder what the down side is ... you know there is one. Would they need gates for ships or would the channel still be small enough to allow enough water to back up to run the turbines?
They are building a dam across some big body of tidal water and using it as a bridge with the whole under part being low speed turbines that catch the tide. They said the Golden Gate Bridge could generate enough power to run the whole bay area. I wonder what the down side is ... you know there is one.
Would they need gates for ships or would the channel still be small enough to allow enough water to back up to run the turbines?
I suspect the width and depth of the shipping channel would depend on the volume of the bay and the speed of the tidal shift. A huge bay would probably just leave a shipping channel open. A smaller bay may need a partial or full dam to drive enough water thru the stationary turbines.