Net Metering

Posted by tkstone 2 years ago to Technology
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I am looking for a few sharp engineering minds. Is it possible that with the advancement of battery technology that we may have reached a point where net metering is a moot point. If individuals can invest in adequate solar production and storage systems while being connected to a community grid that allows for a balanced system that the amount of power is no longer an issue. The key would be adequate production and storage. I think this would require a suitable level of size for flexibility and reliability. Any thoughts? Just looking for some active minds and this was the first place I thought to look.

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  • Posted by CaptainKirk 2 years ago
    Living in Florida, I look into Solar every 3 years or so. And I cry. I got into a twitter fight with an Idiot from Germany who Claimed he spent 3yrs of Electric Bills and now has no Electric Bill. When I pointed out his math does not work unless it was heavily subsidized, he then Explained he lived in Germany (pretended to be stateside American attacking Trump for Paris Climate Accord)... And that it was, in fact, subsidized and a special deal.

    In some places, it works OKAY. I have a friend in Canada who has portable panels he wheels out to run 12V drills, etc. Practices living off the grid, his own water, etc.

    Here is the dilemma overall, and in Florida (specifically). Florida is TOO HOT with TOO MUCH SUN. (new fabrication techniques are addressing this). But as the stuff HEATS UP, it performs worse, like most electronics. In Orlando, they had builders building the homes with the solar panels on the roof, and 20 year warranties. The Companies went under LONG BEFORE the warranty was up. When claims were processed, the LABOR COSTS of replacing/rewiring far exceeded the value.

    My calculation keeps coming down to this. I use about 20=25% of my electricity when there is no sun. So the most I can reduce my electric bill is 80%. My AVERAGE electric bill is $150/month (I have extra attic insulation, and adjusted vents to cool where we need it most, and I work out of the house! 3BR 2 Bath, Attached Garage. I also HEAVILY TINTED All windows. That reduce my Electric bill YEARS ago by $10-12/month). Meaning, I am not the typical person in some ways. Neighbors have $200/mo or more, but slightly bigger homes.

    Batteries in FL outside don't last due to heat. The 5yr Die Hards only get a 2-3yr warranty when you buy them!!! Ignore batteries, because if I have to store them in the house, I don't have the room, and they run up the A/C bill by generating heat.

    150x12 = $1,800/yr * .80% = $1,440/yr. (My potential savings if I got 80% of my power from Solar)

    The last quote I got was $36,000 with a 20 year warranty on PARTS ONLY, and panels pro-rated after 15yrs.
    Lets assume 20 and I have no problems. Lets assume no damage to my roof. Lets assume I get the sun I need,
    although it is Florida, and I know better (we have trees nearby). My house peak runs east-west, making my panels face North and South.

    I am looking at $1,800/year UP FRONT to pay down a $1,440 expense. Over 20yrs.

    If those numbers were REVERSED, I would be investing $28,800 to get a $36,000 benefit... It would START to get interesting.

    Factor in the average person is staying in a house for 7-10 years (going up nowadays because fewer can afford to move).
    And I can't seem to get this investment to make any sense. Now, electricity is going up in price. It's up 20% this year, so I had to update my numbers (they were actually worse before).

    I actually would like to see us go SUPER CLEAN and put IFR Nuclear Reactors out there. Which actually can consume the Nuclear WASTED Rods from the OLD Reactor designs... With no meltdown risks.
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  • Posted by DrZarkov99 2 years ago
    Localized power grids make sense, with outside connections for emergencies. From a strategic standpoint, it prevents sabotage that can take down big geographic areas.

    Power supplies can be tailored to the area. With enormous coal supplies, why should a West Virginia grid struggle with wind or solar? Oklahoma has tremendous wind potential, and can rely on natural gas generators for backup. New Mexico is an excellent choice for a solar grid. Riverfront communities should investigate the new in stream small ganged generators that use the natural flow and don't require dams.

    When you're not talking about limited space for batteries, the power density is less important than the cost per watt. Lithium batteries will remain expensive compared to other types. Lead acid or lead silicate batteries are much less costly to purchase, but the frequency of replacement makes them expensive for large supply systems. Nickel-iron batteries, often called Edison batteries, are cheap to make, and last an incredibly long time, so if I was constructing a storage system, I'd look into the Edison. The problem is that there are few who make the Edison battery anymore, so a community might have to start its own production line.

    Again, the storage system can be tailored to the local conditions. With a good water supply, it may be easier and less costly to pump water into tanks or natural high elevation areas, and use the downslope flow to run backup generators.

    Those are a few ideas, and I have more, including a way to construct large vertical axis wind generators without using heavy equipment.
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    • Posted by 2 years ago
      I agree with your points and appreciate the input. Small hydro is one I had not considered in a municipal setting, but we are located next to a small river that might just cover a small niche. Thanks for bringing it to mind. We have a utility in Missouri that utilizes off peak power to fill a large reservoir that in turn creates peaking power on demand. It suffered a catastrophic failure a few years ago, but to my knowledge it is back in service. Cheap power is definitely the Holy Grail .
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  • Posted by $ blarman 2 years ago
    Metering is just an excuse for government control. The new meters being installed in many places are also "smart" meters and aside from being able to be remotely shut off, they can tell by how much power you are drawing what kinds of devices you are powering - which information they send back to the power companies. And with the event of Power-over-Ethernet, I wouldn't be too surprised if those kinds of meters can't also monitor anything using PoE as well.

    I'm fortunate that they haven't tried this kind of nonsense in my area, but I've read some pretty scary stories about the abuses of these "smart" meters. I've even heard of some people claiming that these "smart" meters were remotely resetting their thermostats and when the people called the power companies, they were told it was for their own good.
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    • Posted by 2 years ago
      I understand your reluctance. While I cannot refute any of the stories you have heard, I can tell you as a utility director I have absolutely no desire to have any detailed information like you are referring to. Smart metering at some level would need to exist if a neighborhood wanted to share access to a battery bank. I know smart metering is controversial. The more connected we are the more vulnerable we are. If we could trust our neighbors it would enhance our ability to be more efficient with our resources. The residents of Galts Gulch trusted Midas and John to run a reliable utility and thus felt free to invest their capital in other more productive areas. Our problem today is that trust has been obliterated.
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      • Posted by DrZarkov99 2 years ago
        Like many other stories, I think these listed are more about "what could happen" than what has happened. As you point out, our trust in government and industry has badly eroded, leading to a degree of paranoia. The new "smart house" ideas, with refrigerators that tell you when your milk supply is low, and coordinates with other kitchen sensors to put together a grocery list sound great, but also a bit creepy, with visions of someone taking over your house remotely.
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      • Posted by $ blarman 2 years ago
        "Our problem today is that trust has been obliterated."

        And that's largely a function of who has control of the information. I'm leery of corporations having my private information, but I'm absolutely paranoid about the government having it - beyond the necessary tax information. We've already seen what the IRS did with private information and how they wanted more for the express purpose of regulating and constraining speech.
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  • Posted by $ Olduglycarl 2 years ago
    I think Solar is the weak link here, it's not very efficient, the cost is high and don't last that long from what I understand.
    Cloudy days are a problem and a problem we will have to live with during The Grand Solar Minimum.

    Batteries? expensive but vital...ever price a tesla battery? and golf cart battery's are very heavy.

    But to your point, Yes,if one had a system that produced reliably, net metering would be moot.

    The new vertical wind generators would be my choice in my area, they would produce something to a lot everyday and they would keep the batteries charged.

    The Grid is another issue, especially going forward. It too, will not be 100% reliable.
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  • Posted by thetuxcat 2 years ago
    I have 8 deep cycle batteries and a 3500 watt inverter hooked up to my home wiring. Just in case power to sump pumps that are powered by the home wiring goes out.
    Any way to use these with the 10 KW of solar panels we just had installed on the roof?
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  • Posted by Lucky 2 years ago
    There are some solar applications that pay their way but not many.
    Nearly all are subsidized by various government rules, let me count the ways (1):

    - requiring power distributors to take solar generation in preference to others
    - giving money to households to buy solar panels
    - requiring power distributors to buy solar power generated by household panels
    at a high rate which government may refund
    - making a charge on coal/oil/diesel generating stations, supposedly for their 'carbon' emissions,
    then using that money, as solar credits, to give to solar generation owners
    - low interest loans, as well as grants (free money), often up-front, to owners of solar power generators
    - preferential supply of various government services such as relaxed zoning, roads and water supply
    to solar companies.

    And so on. Wind generation = same difference.
    There are non-stop claims that solar power is economic, or will be next year.
    Claims that may be hard to dispute unless you know all the subsidy tricks and market manipulations used.

    Electricity generation especially from so-called renewables is capital intensive, that is, money out is usually upfront, and capital costs are there even without sales. This makes pricing difficult and business
    viability analysis complicated and makes it easy for the ignorant to claim the power is 'free'.

    CaptainKirk yes. Solar generation in Germany is economic only with creative accounting.
    As for batteries, heat and irregular use patterns reduce life.
    Important, the power has to be generated before it can be stored.

    tkstone - net metering,
    if electrical power is used, which it is in large amounts,
    do not bank on the net becoming too cheap to meter.

    (1) apology to Shakespeare's sonnet.
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  • Posted by $ mminnick 2 years ago
    Sounds like an excellent idea. The battery tech available (Tesla, GM) and others could/should be able to solve the storage problems. It is the reliable production of the power that is and remains the key problem. Solar, wind geo thermal all have promise but have a way to go.
    The solar and wind farms necessary are at the very least eye pollution and most don't want them near by [property value impact].
    Please kept the Gulch informed of your progress.
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