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Power Harvesting (Solar)

03/02/2015 9:23 AM

I have a secluded 10 acres. Elevated 30 to 50 feet above surrounding area. There is a distribution line within 100 yards. What, if any, potential is there to implement a solar power system to sell back to local utility.

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#1

Re: Power harvesting (solar)

03/02/2015 9:43 AM

they dont want you

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#2

Re: Power harvesting (solar)

03/02/2015 9:59 AM

You don't give your country so that limits the ability of others to give a good answer.

In the US and most countries with developed power grids I believe solar does not yet economically compete with other power sources. Thus, my guess is that you will not make money installing a large solar system for profit.

If you are going to install solar anyway then you might be able to offset some of the cost by selling power on sunny days.

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#3
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Re: Power harvesting (solar)

03/02/2015 10:04 AM

I suspected solar power is not yet economically feasible in the US.

I am in the US and the state of GA (GA Power).

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#4
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Re: Power harvesting (solar)

03/02/2015 10:11 AM

your utility is in the business of selling power, not buying it. when they do buy renewable power they charge for transmission.at best selling power to a power company will offset your current bill. it is not a money making business model.

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#23
In reply to #3

Re: Power harvesting (solar)

03/03/2015 8:05 AM

Georgia Power has had a lottery system whereby they were taking applicants for both small and large scale solar projects and leasing (or purchasing, I'm not sure) their property from them to install generating facilities. I live in a little town of about 2,500 people called Reidsville and Georgia Power just completed in the last few months a small scale solar installation of about fifty acres just outside of town. They have 37 projects in this lottery program of less than 100kw and 12 between 100kw and 1mw as of 2013. More about this program can be found on their website at Georgia Power Lottery Winners. I drove past one in Oglethorpe awhile back and they have several sites there.

My brother and I also had a private concern contact us about leasing our property for a large scale project. They were out of North Carolina where the tax incentives for this kind of project is better. They were looking for land owners with 150+ acre fields that were crossed by a power distribution line. They would lease the property for $500.00 per acre and install the generating facility on the lease. We were willing to clear land for them and completely remove all of the stumps. We were even willing to pay Georgia Power to run a three phase power line to the property. They said that if we had the same property in North Carolina they might be willing to talk to us but the regulatory and tax environment in Georgia did not lend itself to proceeding in this state.

There are opportunities out there for small to large scale facilities but the legislative and economic environment has to be right. With low oil prices of late the impetus might not be as strong but it surely will come back around. We should have listened to Jimmy Carter in the 70's and we would be on a stronger path to energy independence today.

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#5

Re: Power Harvesting (Solar)

03/02/2015 10:27 AM

Even if you can get your local utility to buy it. They are only going to give you the going rate per KWH. You have to look at cost of your solar array. May take 5 to 10 years to recoup the cost of the solar array. Most fiqure it about 7 or 8.

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#6
In reply to #5

Re: Power Harvesting (Solar)

03/02/2015 11:50 AM

I may have antiquated data stuck in my head, but PV panels have a 20 year life as they loose capability from hydrogen molecules polluting the silicon.

That, and the energy consumed making the silicon panel and it's glazed carrier, consumed more energy then it will ever produce.

I'm not aware of any physics improvements of the silicon panel's power efficiency that are commercial sold.

If I'm wrong, sorry.

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#11
In reply to #6

Re: Power Harvesting (Solar)

03/02/2015 12:45 PM

Your data is indeed antiquated. When solar panels were less than 10% efficient, and panel manufacturing processes were in their infancy, indeed it was true that more energy was put into the panels than was ever recovered.

These days even the cheapest panels are better than 14% efficiency. The best on the market are better than 20% and we keep hearing about advances in technology that push the bar to 25% or more.

After 20 years most panels still produce around 90% of the power that they did when new.

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#24
In reply to #6

Re: Power Harvesting (Solar)

03/03/2015 8:12 AM

Ignator, if you don't know what you are talking about, why post. Embedded production costs are now recovered, or produced, in less than one year, in most cases. Smaller systems have a longer payback periods. PV has never been cheaper.

To the OP

All tier one PV modules produce over 80% of rated output for at least 25 years.

Generally, a solar PV system becomes economically viable and useful if you have demand on site. You can avoid retail purchase (effectively sell at retail). (think factory roof, irrigation pumps)

There are other attributes that could be valuable, like SREC's, that could generate cash flow.

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#7

Re: Power Harvesting (Solar)

03/02/2015 11:54 AM

Growing tomatoes and peppers would be feasible.

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#8
In reply to #7

Re: Power Harvesting (Solar)

03/02/2015 12:04 PM

Vegetable farming is option 2

Soil is sandy with some trees that are weak; believed to be because of sand. Any advice on making soil suitable for veggies?

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#9
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Re: Power Harvesting (Solar)

03/02/2015 12:29 PM

Manure. Lots of it.

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#10
In reply to #8

Re: Power Harvesting (Solar)

03/02/2015 12:31 PM

Get some cows.....

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#13
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Re: Power Harvesting (Solar)

03/02/2015 1:09 PM

A stock pile of compost(wood chips, leaves cuttings, kitchen scraps) perhaps or have some vermiculture going on. A raise bed or hydrophonics gardening. There is self sufficiency in farming. Almost all waste can be recycled. Is the place near the beach or access to plentiful sea weeds?- a good organic fertilizer. You could start as a mere hobby, later on big time. Wait, eat, get busy, share and market some stuff. - Nature surely is a mother.

This guy might be a good help to kick start your project. MPH Gardener- I was a fanatic of him

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#21
In reply to #13

Re: Power Harvesting (Solar)

03/02/2015 11:42 PM

Any equine animals (donkeys, horses etc.) nearby? Cows? Chickens? if so, dig long trenches, and add such manure, mix with native soil, or add organic material if necessary, then , as mentioned, then add red worms to break it down. As you follow the trench breakdown, add more ahead, add more worms if necessary, and harvest the beginning edge of the trenches as you go along. Pure , worm compost--some of the best you can get, and sells for a premium at local Farmers markets, etc. You can even make worm tea. All info available on -line . Just one option that is really cheap to do, and the yield very high.

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#14
In reply to #8

Re: Power Harvesting (Solar)

03/02/2015 2:38 PM

Contact the UGA Cooperative Extension Service ->http://extension.uga.edu/ for advice on conditioning your soil and deciding which crops to grow. You could try a solar-powered greenhouse if you want to grow stuff all year round and experiment with solar power.

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#22
In reply to #8

Re: Power Harvesting (Solar)

03/03/2015 12:28 AM

Hydroponics may be a way to invest if the soil needs too much attention to grow anything.

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#28
In reply to #8

Re: Power Harvesting (Solar)

03/03/2015 10:26 AM

Charcoal

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#31
In reply to #28

Re: Power Harvesting (Solar)

03/03/2015 11:06 AM

Just curious what is charcoal going to do for vegetable cultivation? Release of usable forms of minerals?

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#34
In reply to #31

Re: Power Harvesting (Solar)

03/04/2015 7:46 AM

I had added charcoal to my garden after an article I read in a very popular periodical years ago. Amazon tribes used burnt vegetation to make marginal soils very fertile.

It made a great improvement to the garden soil. Increased plant growth measurably.

What studies I have read is that the charcoal accelerates bacteria growth that brakes down bio matter like compost. To increase nutrients for the plants

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#12

Re: Power Harvesting (Solar)

03/02/2015 12:46 PM
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#15
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Re: Power Harvesting (Solar)

03/02/2015 3:13 PM

Overview of the Programs

Distributed Generation Program - Small and Medium Scale GPASI programs

The Small and Medium Scale programs will seek 45 MW of projects in 2013 and 2014, with a target allocation of 11 MW and 34 MW respectively in each program. The Small Scale option, designed with residential and small commercial customers in mind, is for projects up to 100 kW. The Medium Scale option is for 101 kW up to 1 MW. Additionally, participants are limited to 35% (20MW) of program capacity in 2014. Applications for the 2014 Small and Medium Scale programs will be accepted beginning March 26, 2014. Georgia Power expects that all projects will be brought online through these programs by the end of 2014. For more information, please visit our GPASI Small and Medium Scale webpage.

It can't be much more clear than this, Georgia Power is interested in your watts. If they keep you connected, you won't squeeze them out of the picture by using Edison storage cells to totally be self-sufficient.

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#16
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Re: Power Harvesting (Solar)

03/02/2015 3:18 PM
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#17
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Re: Power Harvesting (Solar)

03/02/2015 3:33 PM

Funny you should bring that up. My current home project includes the following:

(1) old bicycle $0

(2) wasted metal and wood in attempt to build a support frame $30 $80

(3) actual bicycle support stand for exercising and special tire to run on it $180

(4) small automotive alternator $X

(5) Edison storage battery(s) (Iron-nickel alkaline cell) $XX

(6) Suitable 120 VAC inverter to power my shop, 300-600 W ~$300-up.

Getting finally something that is not on the grid, that actually works every time (as long as I work-out) - priceless.

I have heard contradictory optics regarding the Edison battery though. It appears you do have to pay attention to the electrolyte level above the plates, and need to regulate carefully the charging rate, as gassing and heat up can lead to thermal runaway. Lead-acid batteries just will not stand up to "off the grid" energy storage, deep cycles, constantly cycling, etc.

Other option is go $$$ with the Lithium battery tech, perhaps LiPFe (a new cell mostly made in China, AFAICT). We shall see, shall we not?

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#18
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Re: Power Harvesting (Solar)

03/02/2015 4:58 PM

Why stop there?

Go around your town and buy up all those exercise machines sitting unused in basements and garages. Fit them out with alternators, and then open an exclusive fitness center next to your shop and charge an exorbitant membership fee. Hire a couple sadistic trainers and equip them with whips to motivate the members. Now you will not only earn income from the fitness center, but you will have plenty of power to run your shop. And, your members will surely lose some of their excess fat. If they complain, tell them that what they are doing is good for the environment and will stop global warming.

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#29
In reply to #18

Re: Power Harvesting (Solar)

03/03/2015 10:57 AM

And unfortunately, most of them would be gullible enough to believe it!

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#32
In reply to #18

Re: Power Harvesting (Solar)

03/03/2015 11:27 AM

This idea was actually pitched on the start -up reality show with Mark Cuban--Forget the name of the show….They shot it down...

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#37
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Re: Power Harvesting (Solar)

03/04/2015 8:26 AM

Nice pic by the way. Did you see the bit in yesterday's The Engineer about Westinghouse. I did not know he invented the air brake (for railways), held multiple patents on metal filament lamps, and was exceedingly quick minded. I did know about his associated with Tesla (whom he also screwed out of a lot of money).

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#19

Re: Power Harvesting (Solar)

03/02/2015 8:37 PM

Grow corn, get a distill running, feed a small generator with the distillate or skip that step for the benefit of having some supply for the family events.

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#20

Re: Power Harvesting (Solar)

03/02/2015 10:41 PM

Interesting comments regarding return on investment. Obviously it depends on where you are.

Here in Port Macquarie Australia, I have a 2kW grid tied system on my roof. The local utility purchases ALL of the electricity produced by that array from me at 60 cents per kWh and legislation requires them to continue to do so until December 2016.

I currently purchase the electricity that I consume from them for 27 cents/kWh general tariff and 15 cents/kWh controlled load 2 tariff.

My system has been in operation for 4 years and it's amortisation period was a tad over 2 years, so I have been experiencing almost free electricity for the last 2 years and expect to do so for the next 2.

My quarterly bill is never more than $20 in the solstice quarters and reducing to a similar refund in the equinox periods. Average solar rebate per account is around $550

I would class that as a good investment.

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#25
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Re: Power Harvesting (Solar)

03/03/2015 8:23 AM

Here also, the power authority(Ontario Power Generation) purchases power from solar producers, that is, where they are able to be connected to the grid. However, they are quite slow at upgrading the grid to accomodate all the inputs. A drive through the countryside shows myriads of small solar arrays that have signed agreements to sell the excess power(initially I believe at about $.79/KWH as mandated by legislation, the "Green Energy Act", but now at a lower rate), but I do believe that most are still not connected to the grid. Buying power at those rates and selling it back at about $.17/KWH doesn't seem to make much sense financially. For those who can get the high rate for selling their excess power, great, but what has to be done to offset that high rate with other modes of power generation.

I'm not anti-green on power production, but as a taxpayer, it is costing me.

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#26

Re: Power Harvesting (Solar)

03/03/2015 8:35 AM

I did the research here in Texas and found the pay back to be 16 years. That price was also confirmed by local installers. The site would have a yield of 1kWh/hour of good sunlight.

Even the installer said that the installation was only realistic if there were state or federal incentives to supplement the installation costs.

So, solar is only realistic if using someone else's money. No wonder there is so much in California!

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#27

Re: Power Harvesting (Solar)

03/03/2015 8:40 AM

Not sure how your energy supplier is affected by FERC however in Arizona the decision to allow a small producer attach to local power distribution system is strictly left to the utility that owns the power distribution system.

A local resident recently made the fatal mistake of not entering into a binding agreement with the presiding utility in our area before building a very large and very expensive solar array.

Despite several court appeals and hearings he has not yet been allowed to connect to the grid and cannot market the excess power to any customers within the local utility company's distribution area.

I would contact your local utility company first to find out if they own the distribution lines and system.

I would then ask for all information and requirements pertaining to their guidelines for accepting and allowing small generation facilities to connect to their distribution system. Be sure that they include all electrical protection equipment specifications and settings as well as all mechanical installation requirements.

I would then draft a detailed business plan complete with PE certified drawings of all equipment to clearly illustrate the operation, system protection, and hazard controls of your proposed system.

After you are certain that your system can meet all requirements I would make an appointment with the utility to review the details and respond with their approval and/or changes required.

Once you have received written approval that your proposal meets all utility requirements you can draft a contract and enter into a binding agreement to sell excess power to the utility based on their stipulations.

Good luck.

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#30
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Re: Power Harvesting (Solar)

03/03/2015 11:04 AM

If he can't sell the power, can he convert the power to something else? Hydrogen?? Who knows, that might really catch on. He will need to waste a tremendous amount of energy in Arizona collecting air humidity as condensate just to have the water to operate on, but it might be worth a try. Or deep wells, depending on the location in AZ.

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#38
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Re: Power Harvesting (Solar)

03/05/2015 8:51 AM

To date he has not resolved what to do with all of the excess power from his system.

He is wealthy enough to pursue the cause and I am hopeful his challenging the utility company's proprietary hold on energy sales in our area will come up with a solution.

I understand and agree with the utility controlling access to their distribution system grid however I see no reason why he cannot install his own distribution system on private land from neighbor to neighbor.

I shudder to think about all of the risk and liability issues of owning your own power distribution system not to mention the high cost of maintenance.

My suggestion was/is that he find a manufacturing process that is in demand and build a small plant to take advantage of his solar power.

As far as water is concerned; He has access to a large supply of underground water within 40 feet of the ground surface however we have state adjucated water rights which in itself is overwhelming to gain permission to use groundwater on any large scale.

He is definitely "caught between a rock and a very hard place."

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#39
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Re: Power Harvesting (Solar)

03/05/2015 1:13 PM

Hmmm. Let me see. Lots of power available, and questionable water resource availability....Even in the desert, there is some humidity in the air. It is possible (in various ways) to induce water vapor to condense, not the least of which is by compressing the air, and cooling it. Now suppose he further starts pulling carbon dioxide out of the air, and collecting that. He could try some basic chemistry by producing hydrogen from the water (compress and store up the oxygen? also separate out argon and nitrogen?) then react hydrogen with carbon dioxide (Fischer-Tropsch) to make some hydrocarbons which are marketable, perhaps even specific use ones such as certain olefins, but what a regulatory nightmare that would be.

At any rate, he won't get rich with oil south of $50/bbl. Maybe he could get into high temperature processing of materials, and make silicon?

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#40
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Re: Power Harvesting (Solar)

03/05/2015 5:32 PM

All sound like viable ideas to me. (Maybe even Hydrogen generation?)

I even suggested he package dry heat and market it back East in the winter time but he wasn't receptive to that idea.

We do have a new gold mine that is in the process of opening up a few miles North of him and they will need some forms of processing the ore which might lead to a viable market for him.

One can only hope.

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#33

Re: Power Harvesting (Solar)

03/03/2015 1:40 PM

Probably not a money maker in the US. But then again if you were in the US you could start a bogus company and get millions in grant money for renewable energy initiatives then you could build half the array and disappear and sell the property after the bogus company goes bankrupt...at least that seems to be a popular business model for US array fields.

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#35

Re: Power Harvesting (Solar)

03/04/2015 8:07 AM

Please do not put charcoal in your garden or recommend that others do this. Some one inevitably use the self lighting kind with fuel in it and contaminate the soil to the point of forced removal/disposal.

The reason Charcoal worked is because of the carbon in it. For compost to work ideally you need a carbon to nitrogen ratio around 30:1.

http://compost.css.cornell.edu/calc/cn_ratio.html

You can use wood chips or sawdust or shredded paper for the carbon additive and get an even better result.

Compost is an awesome soil amendment and for compost to work properly the c:n ratio needs to be addressed.

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#36
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Re: Power Harvesting (Solar)

03/04/2015 8:13 AM

Mainly, I use leaves and grass clippings, with some vegetable waste, and maybe a few eggshells thrown in. I try really hard to keep the dog crap out of it. Too hot in nitrogen, usually. I sometime purchase a starter culture of cotton burr/cow manure compost from a nearby composting fertilizer business. Chicken poop compost is good too, depending on the intended purpose.

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