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Re: Yosemite Solar Panel Project

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avatar Yosemite Solar Panel Project
July 26, 2011 01:24PM
http://www.mercedsunstar.com/2011/07/25/1982009/yosemite-to-unveil-58-million.html


Yosemite National Park officials will unveil the National Park Service's largest grid-connected photovoltaic solar panel system during a press event on Wednesday....



The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan
avatar Re: Yosemite Solar Panel Project
July 26, 2011 03:51PM
This will save the park about $100,000 a year in electricity costs and take about 6 years to pay it off..... if my math is correct.
Re: Yosemite Solar Panel Project
July 26, 2011 04:59PM
If it saves $100,000 per year, it takes 10 years to save one million dollars. To save six million dollars would take 60 years. And since it was paid for with government borrowing, it actually will take longer. Of course, the solar panels will be obsolete or no longer functioning long before they pay for themselves.
avatar Re: Yosemite Solar Panel Project
July 26, 2011 05:25PM
I don't know what commercial kwh costs the NPS from PGE or whatever provider, but internet suggests that 20 cents per kwh is rough estimate:

$0.2/kwh X 800,000= $160,000/year

Assuming that there is no increase in cost of electricity and ignoring repair costs, the time cost of the dollars to purchase the equipment or the debt service if finaced:
5.8million/ 160000 = 36 years

In all likelihood the cost of commercial electricity will increase faster than the cost of the dollars used to finance the project ( lost interest that the dollars would generate if invested elsewhere (time cost); if the entire project is financed, then the cost of the project would include the debt service). In addition, if it is on the grid, perhaps the park can sell excess production back.

Without all the numbers, I bet the project would pay for itself in about 20 years or less if the cost of electricity doubles or triples.



The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan
avatar Re: Yosemite Solar Panel Project
July 26, 2011 07:28PM
Quote
Frank Furter
I don't know what commercial kwh costs the NPS from PGE or whatever provider, but internet suggests that 20 cents per kwh is rough estimate:

$0.2/kwh X 800,000= $160,000/year

Assuming that there is no increase in cost of electricity and ignoring repair costs, the time cost of the dollars to purchase the equipment or the debt service if finaced: 5.8million/ 160000 = 36 years
Your math is better than mine. I was going on the residential 12 cents/kwh. The industrial rate is closer to what you used.
Quote

In all likelihood the cost of commercial electricity will increase faster than the cost of the dollars used to finance the project ( lost interest that the dollars would generate if invested elsewhere (time cost); if the entire project is financed, then the cost of the project would include the debt service). In addition, if it is on the grid, perhaps the park can sell excess production back.

Without all the numbers, I bet the project would pay for itself in about 20 years or less if the cost of electricity doubles or triples.
What is the life of the equipment? Will it last that long?
avatar Re: Yosemite Solar Panel Project
July 27, 2011 05:38AM
Quote
Dave
What is the life of the equipment? Will it last that long?

I dunno. There aren't many moving parts. 20 years doesn't seem that long, so I suspect that it will.



The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan
Re: Yosemite Solar Panel Project
July 27, 2011 09:40PM
As a rule of thumb, the output of the panels will drop by about 1% per year, so the break-even time is probably greater than 36 years.
avatar Re: Yosemite Solar Panel Project
July 28, 2011 11:45AM
Quote
basilbop
As a rule of thumb, the output of the panels will drop by about 1% per year, so the break-even time is probably greater than 36 years.

Before then I would expect that it would make more sense to buy a full replacement when the price goes down and performance goes up. They're not doing this to achieve breakeven.

I think the reason for photovoltaics is a sense that the costs of utility generation are often hidden. It's more than just the cost of production and delivery, but also of the hidden costs on society as a whole. California doesn't get a whole lot of coal electricity, but even natural gas isn't without its hidden costs in environmental degredation.
avatar Re: Yosemite Solar Panel Project
July 28, 2011 01:42PM
Quote
y_p_w
Quote
basilbop
As a rule of thumb, the output of the panels will drop by about 1% per year, so the break-even time is probably greater than 36 years.

Before then I would expect that it would make more sense to buy a full replacement when the price goes down and performance goes up. They're not doing this to achieve breakeven.

I think the reason for photovoltaics is a sense that the costs of utility generation are often hidden. It's more than just the cost of production and delivery, but also of the hidden costs on society as a whole. California doesn't get a whole lot of coal electricity, but even natural gas isn't without its hidden costs in environmental degredation.


How can the projected 800 megawatt/hrs mean a saving of only $50,000? I suspect the park has "tiered" electrical bill and the saving should be in the most expensive tier (the rates at peak usage, essentially the marginal cost). Also, project provided some economic stimulus. Finally, who believes that electrical rate are going to remain the same for the next several decades?



The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan
avatar Re: Yosemite Solar Panel Project
July 28, 2011 11:40AM
Quote
Frank Furter
I don't know what commercial kwh costs the NPS from PGE or whatever provider, but internet suggests that 20 cents per kwh is rough estimate:

$0.2/kwh X 800,000= $160,000/year

Assuming that there is no increase in cost of electricity and ignoring repair costs, the time cost of the dollars to purchase the equipment or the debt service if finaced:
5.8million/ 160000 = 36 years

In all likelihood the cost of commercial electricity will increase faster than the cost of the dollars used to finance the project ( lost interest that the dollars would generate if invested elsewhere (time cost); if the entire project is financed, then the cost of the project would include the debt service). In addition, if it is on the grid, perhaps the park can sell excess production back.

Without all the numbers, I bet the project would pay for itself in about 20 years or less if the cost of electricity doubles or triples.

This is all relatively early adoption. As was noted, the output is expected to drop over time (and unevenly among different panels), and it gets interesting if a panel completely fails. They primarily work efficiently because they're initially matched well, and drive a DC to AC inverter that takes the whole thing in series. Once one is relatively unmatched, the output starts getting unpredictable. Think of it like a bunch of batteries in series. If one cell is unmatched and output drops, the rest of the cells can't really produce more output to keep up. I've heard of one way to mitigate it (smaller single inverters at each panel) but the initial costs are higher.

This is more of a demonstration project than anything else. I remember a friend whose mom worked for a large power company. Mom leased a GM EV1 because the employer had a large subsidy for employees who leased electric cars. I believe they thought it was catalyst for adoption of electric car technology.

I would expect that costs will go way down in the future, much like with consumer electronics. I remember when a DVD player cost about $1000.

Over at Yellowstone, they built the new Canyon Area Visitor Center with PV cells over the entrance. It actually looks pretty good:



http://www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/canyonvc.htm
Re: Yosemite Solar Panel Project
July 26, 2011 04:14PM
Are they on top of buildings or on the ground?
Re: Yosemite Solar Panel Project
July 26, 2011 04:22PM
Quote
parklover
Are they on top of buildings or on the ground?

They will actually cascade down the waterfalls. They will double as waterwheels also generating power from the sun and the water. This might change the views to Yosemite Falls, but the different look will also give new opportunities for not only nature lovers to view, but techies also to see.
avatar Re: Yosemite Solar Panel Project
July 26, 2011 07:30PM
Quote
parklover
Are they on top of buildings or on the ground?
Both. Some cover some parking areas, some are perched on a wall, and others are on the side of the building.
Re: Yosemite Solar Panel Project
July 28, 2011 08:48AM
Are there any pictures of the project?
avatar Re: Yosemite Solar Panel Project
July 28, 2011 09:55AM
Quote
parklover
Are there any pictures of the project?

(from the NPS today)
Yosemite National Park Unveils Largest Solar Energy System in the National Park System - news release $5.8 Million Photovoltaic Project in El Portal Grid Connected and Producing Power Scott Gediman 209-372-0248 Kari Cobb 209-372-0529

Yosemite National Park Superintendent Don Neubacher led a ribbon cutting ceremony today, July 27, to dedicate the El Portal Photovoltaic Project. Neubacher was joined by representatives from the offices of Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Congressman Jeff Denham (R-19th), Mariposa County Supervisor Lee Stetson, contractors, and National Park Service staff. The event dedicated the largest grid-connected photovoltaic system within the National Park Service (NPS).
The photovoltaic system at the El Portal complex is the largest NPS-managed photovoltaic project with the Pacific West Region and the largest grid-connected photovoltaic system owned and operated by the NPS. The 672 kilowatt (KW) system consists of 2,800 solar panels and produces approximately 800,000 kilowatt hours (KWh) per year. The park estimates saving approximately $50,000 per year on electricity purchased off the grid and is expecting to receive a $700,000 energy rebate from Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PG&E) over the next five years. This represents an approximate 12 percent reduction in electricity purchased off the grid.
“The collaborative effort to design and build this system has come to fruition and we are extremely proud of the results,” Stated Neubacher. “We are committed to being a leader in renewable energy and this project exemplifies our efforts.” The project was funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment act and cost $5.8 million. Construction of the
system was completed in February 2011 and the interconnection agreement with PG&E was signed in late June 2011.
The El Portal Maintenance and Administrative Complex is located at the western edge of Yosemite National Park adjacent to Highway 140. The facility includes park offices, vehicle maintenance facility, the park warehouse, and other park operations. The location was chosen for the photovoltaic project due to the high amount of direct sunlight the site receives. (.... Photos of the El Portal Photovoltaic System .. available by emailing Kari_Cobb@nps.gov.)



The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan
Re: Yosemite Solar Panel Project
July 28, 2011 10:54AM
With these new figures, this is hardly something to brag about.

5.8 million minus the $700,000 they'll receive from PG & E = 5.1 million.

5.1 million minus the $50,000 per year in savings = over 100 years before the initial cost is paid for.

The average solar panel is expected to last for 25 years.

Another candidate for a Fleecing of America award.
Re: Yosemite Solar Panel Project
July 28, 2011 12:22PM
Quote
Mom
With these new figures, this is hardly something to brag about.

5.8 million minus the $700,000 they'll receive from PG & E = 5.1 million.

5.1 million minus the $50,000 per year in savings = over 100 years before the initial cost is paid for.

The average solar panel is expected to last for 25 years.

Another candidate for a Fleecing of America award.

But, you didn't add in the cost of the good feelings that people get when they think they are doing something positive, even when it is obvious they aren't.
avatar Re: Yosemite Solar Panel Project
July 28, 2011 12:30PM
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