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19 comments

Are More Homes Going to Generate Their Own Power?

Posted August 19, 2011 9:25 AM

We've seen several stories recently about trends in home power including homebuilt hydroelectric systems, small wind turbines for household use, and optical batteries that are more efficient than traditional solar panels. With those items in mind, do you think home power generation is going mainstream? Or will it always remain a niche market?

The preceding article is a "sneak peek" from Power Generation & Distribution, a newsletter from GlobalSpec. To stay up-to-date and informed on industry trends, products, and technologies, subscribe to Power Generation & Distribution today.

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#1

Re: Are More Homes Going to Generate Their Own Power?

08/20/2011 3:35 PM

Where I live now, solar energy is mostly a dud. There is undependable wind, most of which doesn't reach me anyway, as I am surrounded by trees.

If/when I retire around the Tri-Cities (WA, USA), both insolation and wind are more promising. With perhaps a modest back-up generator, off-grid power sounds quite practical.

Interfacing these various technologies takes some investment, and some trouble-shooting savvy in case of problems. A "have voltmeter will travel" person can deal with these, but not necessarily everyone in the mass market.

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#2
In reply to #1

Re: Are More Homes Going to Generate Their Own Power?

08/20/2011 9:57 PM

I completely agree with everything you say. At the same time, I can see an increased drive for more residences being completely off of the grid. For a long time this will be nothing more than a niche market, but a growing market none the less.

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#3

Re: Are More Homes Going to Generate Their Own Power?

08/21/2011 12:05 AM

Well, I called it pioneers are now getting the experience. Later we will know at what cost, but definitely here at $10.00 per month per installed 120 Watts panel it pays off. The Bahamas has an abundance of sun and very high (power) bills. Where I live $.42 per kWh.

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#4
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Re: Are More Homes Going to Generate Their Own Power?

08/21/2011 12:19 AM

I don't understand "$10.00 per month per installed 120 Watts panel." The panel should be a one-time fixed cost, not an ongoing per-month proposition.

Where I am, hydro is about $0.13/kwh; but if the lake runs low, then diesel is about $0.30/kwh, which is billed as a surcharge.

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#5
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Re: Are More Homes Going to Generate Their Own Power?

08/21/2011 12:42 AM

Each 120 Watts panel installed (what I have paid for) reduces my bill with $10.00 per month. Or, it generates this amount of power avg. per month.

I have a set up of 2 panels test running for 10 months and compared with the previous bills I pay avg. $20,00 per month less.

Though the hot water also is good for $80,00 per month in my household.

I am now designing a combination system, off grid/on grid where the off grid pilots the 18 panels off grid. Pays my AC

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#9
In reply to #5

Re: Are More Homes Going to Generate Their Own Power?

08/21/2011 8:57 PM

Why have you not invested in solar hot water? It seems like the best bang for the buck and most systems I have seen use a PV panel to power the pump, so the whole unit is off-grid.

Installed prices are about $1600 for a basic system, but I think you can DIY that for half the cost. That would pay for itself in one year for you!

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#10
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Re: Are More Homes Going to Generate Their Own Power?

08/21/2011 9:41 PM

The hot water beats everything! We only need some black bodies here, or even blue or gray. Up North we use parabolic mirrors to get a better heat transfer(t).

I probably forgot to tell. I have 2 solar hot water systems installed - about 42 gallon each. - these are good for about 290 days of hot water. They last already 10 years. I used to have the first solar hot water manufacturing company set up in this part of the world.

These 2 panels and tanks provide for 7 people.

I prefer the thermo-siphon set up where the tank is also on top of the roof. No pump needed in this case. In 2004 we were 3 months without power, but the hot water felt as a heaven's gift.

We had roofs ripped off by hurricanes, except where these where systems were installed, due to the extra weight of tank and TOPPED water panel.

The rest of the days with cold water, I prefer to just stay plain dirty, no I jump in the pool or the canal or the ocean, I think that is the rank. At least in the pool I know what is swimming with me.

I'll take some pictures in the daytime. Thanks

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#11
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Re: Are More Homes Going to Generate Their Own Power?

08/21/2011 11:13 PM

Love to see it.

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#14
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Re: Are More Homes Going to Generate Their Own Power?

09/04/2011 10:17 PM

I'll pick you up at the airport. Let me know when. D

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#6

Re: Are More Homes Going to Generate Their Own Power?

08/21/2011 10:03 AM

The solution is in installing Binary Cycle Power Generation. Though investment heavy, the operation cost is almost zero if you use agro-waste as the fuel. A 10KWH unit requires 450 gms (about 1 pound) per hour of agro-waste, by which it means - fallen leaves, twigs, branches, bark, stalks, stems, etc, etc provided they are fully dry. You can also use LPG ( 0.1M^3 / Hour), CNG/PNG (0.13M^3 per hour) or diesel 440 ml per hour.

The unit is designed for 24/7 operation. The cost is US$ 36,000. You can contact mizunorc(at)ymail dotcom to know more.

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#7
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Re: Are More Homes Going to Generate Their Own Power?

08/21/2011 3:48 PM

Grandmams and frogs... for 10kWh about one pound of agro-waste per hour - wtf ???

If you gotta a good Biomass (2500kCal/h) - you need cca. 700kg/h agro-waste for feeding 10kWh unit.

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#8
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Re: Are More Homes Going to Generate Their Own Power?

08/21/2011 3:57 PM

Not only that, but 10KWH is incorrect units, unless the system generates 10KWH and then just quits.

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#12

Re: Are More Homes Going to Generate Their Own Power?

08/21/2011 11:50 PM

I've installed a lot of micro-hydro, the price can't be beat. 2-4 years and the system is paid for, but it all depends on local availability of hydro potential. Photovoltaics are a 10 year pay back with subsidies and 20 years without. There is not a regular wind out here to make use of.

I think the USA would be in much better shape if we had a lot more micro-generation than a few macro-generation facilities. But that is not how we have pursued our energy policies.

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#13

Re: Are More Homes Going to Generate Their Own Power?

08/22/2011 4:12 PM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9a3AgZ3R9Fk

I think I could improve on that. I'll post something one day, this got me thinking

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#15

Re: Are More Homes Going to Generate Their Own Power?

10/05/2011 3:31 PM

The correct answer for home power is natural gas. The natural gas can be processed into electricity with microturbines. This has already been started in Europe. This will eliminate line loss, which is a very great problem with electricity. It will also eliminate large power outages. Natural gas is clean, cheap, safe and plentiful. We have enough proven reserves for a century, with much more to find.

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#16
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Re: Are More Homes Going to Generate Their Own Power?

10/05/2011 4:23 PM

We have enough proven reserves for a century, with much more to find.

I really hate to burst your bubble but if you believe that there's only enough known fuel for three or four human generations, when do you think we should start looking for alternatives? Should we wait for the lights to go out and virtually all modern, power loving civilization stops to function before we start to explore other methods to feed our power needs. I agree that natural gas is one of the alternatives but I disagree that it is the single correct answer for all. The idea that one energy source should be the answer for all scenarios is what I find wrong with today's reliance on oil.

I also disagree that line loss is a problem with electricity power distribution. The power lost by the grid itself is less than the improvement we gain by the economy of scale effect from having large chemical to mechanical to electrical power generation we do now. Particularly because the required thermal losses of each of these steps is a smaller percentage with large power production than individual power production.

Getting back to the blog's original question and how it fits with your comment, home power production will be a growing niche market. One of the methods will be natural gas fired micro-turbines, but this will not be the correct method for all who produce their own power.

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#18
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Re: Are More Homes Going to Generate Their Own Power?

10/05/2011 11:19 PM

You are wrong on all counts, IMO, so you didn't burst any bubbles. Line loss is a huge problem. Insecure power grids are a huge problem. Existing electrical distribution is inefficient, and vulnerable. New technology makes it possible to provide home power based on natural gas, which will heat with waste energy in cold weather. Especially valuable in colder climes. There is no end in sight for natural gas, biogas, and then methane hydrates. There is no advantage of scale lost if you already have natural gas piped to your home. The advantage is lost over the distance the electricity travels.

Hydro makes sense in some situations. Geothermal is good for some situations. All the greener solutions are great, but not cost competitive. Nothing is more natural than natural gas.

Natural gas is a long term fact. It is here to stay, and the sooner we face it the sooner we will benefit from it. If solar and win can beat it, I will be as happy as anyone, but it is not a realistic hope for most areas. Hopefully the future will bring systems that will compete.

It may be more efficient for cities or companies to run local natural gas turbines, than have them in individual homes, but time will tell. We need to have distributed energy for security reasons and to reduce line loss.

See robertbryce.com for further information on the real future of energy.

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#17
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Re: Are More Homes Going to Generate Their Own Power?

10/05/2011 4:39 PM

Is there something about the word "sustainable" that is hard to fathom?

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#19
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Re: Are More Homes Going to Generate Their Own Power?

10/05/2011 11:28 PM

Sustainable means lasting over time. I am talking hundreds of years ahead. Part of being sustainable means being competitive now. If you are not competitive now, you lose. America loses. We need cheap and abundant energy. Especially as we chose to waste so much of it. I am for conservation of energy and water. Unfortunately most Americans are not. We should all use less energy and water, especially if we live in arid areas or in droughts. Line loss is waste, but nobody seems to care as long as they can plug in.

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