Decentralized power.

Discussion in 'Survival & Sustenance Living Forum' started by Vincine, Jul 3, 2012.

  1. Vincine

    Vincine New Member

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    This is a response to a post in the ‘What are going to be the new currencies?’ thread that I thought got away from the topic. So I started this one.

    (Personally I don’t think the ‘Hippie Mixmasters’ are ugly, not anywhere near as much as a coal fired plant, they’re just not needed.)

    I think the problem with wind, and other renewable energy sources, is that power companies want to be able to sell it. So they apply their investment capital and lobbying efforts toward centralized power plants, or wind ‘farms’ etc., I.e. their power plants. The last thing they want is the development of a simple and effective off the shelf energy storage capability available to the ordinary homeowner. Individually, homeowners don’t have the clout to swing the needed development themselves.

    A generator is just a motor ‘running backwards’. Homesteads used to have windmills to bring the water up. Is it really so out of the pale to think one could gear a generator off the shaft of such a windmill, instead of the mill pumping water up from the table? A water tank could even be the energy storage. The water could spin a couple of small turbines in series on it's way back into the well.

    I bet small weather proof ‘fans’ could be mounted on the peaks of roofs the way small satellite dishes are now. Heck, I bet a turbine vent caps could even be rigged to do it.

    Between small wind generators spinning whenever the wind’s up, day or night; small solar panels generating power whenever the sun’s out, a simple and cost effective storage devices available at the hardware store, more energy efficient electrical devices in the home & judicious use of same; I’d bet a homeowner/steader could make a serious dent in their energy usage. What utility company wants that?

    You’d think the real estate companies would be all over this pushing the technology. Think of all the land that’s cheap because it’s so far from the grid, that would increase in value if homeowners could easily generate their own.

    The reason for the huge windmill farms or any other centralized power plant exists is, of course, that’s the simplest way utility companies can make money off of it.
     
  2. c3shooter

    c3shooter Administrator Staff Member

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    There were folks that were "off grid" before there WAS a grid- look up the history of the Jacobs Company- they were building really high class wind power systems in the 1940s.

    http://www.jacobswind.net/history

    Then we got addicted to cheap AC power. Why wind up a clock?- you can have an electric clock- cheaper than the wind up kind. And a fan, and a radiotvblendermicrowavecordlessphonevcrdvdPCheaterairconditioner and suddenly we had this HUGE mass of STUFF eating watts.

    Downside of off-the-grid and grow-your-own watts is 3 fold-
    1. Capital outlay cost of equipment to produce
    2. Cost of storing power
    3. limits on size of systems

    and you could really add a 4th- having to be much more involved in planning and operating your own powerpatch- as opposed to flipping the switch.

    For folks looking to go off grid- step one is to look at what you have to power- and is there a more power miserly way to do that? Do you want to try to power an electric water heater? Good luck- without a LARGE hydro system, not likely. But a SOLAR water heater could maybe work- and cut down the power demand.

    The price of components HAS been dropping a lot- scale of production economy thing- as is cost of storing. Many folks are also looking at being self producing, but selling excess power to the grid, buying extra power when you need it. I DO think the cost will drop more over the next 5 years or so.

    We went off grid for a country cabin some time back- small scale photovoltaic and small scale wind. Would have loved to go hydro, but not enough water flow on that property. Our storage was 4 ea 115 amp hr deep cycle batteries. We used 12 v DC where we could, and used an inverter to make AC where we needed that. We found we had enough power for a microwave, energy efficient lights, a 12 v water pump (RV suppliers have all KINDS of 12 v stuff) a micro-fridge and a small TV. Our water heater is the "black tank in a glass box" type. It works- but you will not get more than 2 quick showers AT NIGHT.

    We built some from scratch, some from kits, DIY assembly. We spent about $1200. Cost of getting power company to run power to us would have been about $9,000. However, we could also have installed a 5500 watt gasoline generator for half of what we spent, and not had to worry about battery charge levels, etc.

    But I LIKE not listening to a generator. Our upkeep is replacing the batteries about every 5 years. One solar panel quit, and needed replacement. Other than the batteries, system is probably good for 20-25 years.
     

  3. Chandler51

    Chandler51 New Member

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    I have heard that most solar panels...due to the inherent nature of their supply source...after about five years begin to lose efficiency almost exponentially. Basically, the sun damages them as it does everything else. Is there any truth to that, that you've seen first hand, anyway? And if so, what does that do to the ROI of such a system? It seems that by the time it was paid for, it would need to be replaced.

    What do you think?
     
  4. Vincine

    Vincine New Member

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    And then there is this:
    They’re fulfilling a ‘need’,that started out as just a want.

    I do believe there are solar panels now being made with built in invertors. You could install, add, replace, or subtract them just by plugging them in to each other, or a “power strip”. I’m sure it’s not a standard household plug but the simplicity appeals.

    Considering all the new lightweight materials, bearings, magnets, etc. we have available now, I don’t really believe new wind generators have to be as big as the Jacob’s were then, or even are now.
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2012
  5. c3shooter

    c3shooter Administrator Staff Member

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    Yes, output drops as panels age (so does MY output! :p) but do not know about expotentialy. At 10 years, would estimate we are getting about 90% of power we WERE getting- BUT- as long as the batteries get fully charged up, it does not really matter. If it takes 8 hours instead of 6.....

    And yes, anything built by man will eventually wear out.

    And yes, newer materials and manufacturing processes HAVE improved the efficency of wind generators and PV panels- FAR beyond the 1940s tech of Jacobs. But they did a really good job with what they had- many of those units are still running today.

    Was looking at some solar PV units the other day- they look like roofing shingles, and clip together rather easily. Couple more years, I may redo our main home. If I do, will send pictures here.

    But too many folks are still looking for the Free Lunch counter- "I'll put a paddle wheel in the creek, hook it to a generator, and run the whole house for free!" Yeah- but the flow and head of that creek with give you 1/64th of a horsepower under ideal circumstances. That's about 11 watts. Then pull out losses from friction, generator windings, electrical resistance, battery inefficency, losses from inverter or transformer- and you have about 1 watt. That is not enough for a night light.
     
  6. hiwall

    hiwall Well-Known Member

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    For most people green energy is is not even close to being feasible. It requires too big of a change of lifestyle for those people. Solar power is not feasible for electric companies either to high cost and only works about 1/3 of the time. Look at the facts- for a average home to go solar costs about $40,000 or more. You can get the gov to pay 1/3 and your electric company to pay 1/3. Leaving you a cost of about $14,000+. Plus you are still using regular electric power about 1/3 to 1/2 the time. Plus the maintenance on the system. Solar is great for a situation like c3 stated. Wind and solar only produce about roughly 1/3 of the time. Right now natural gas power plants are the best of everything(my opinion).
     
  7. Chandler51

    Chandler51 New Member

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    That makes sense...the quote I had heard, and it's been awhile so I don't remember exactly from where, stated that modern solar panels were "kaput" by 15-20 years old. Which would require a whole new capital expenditure to keep using solar power.

    Thanks for the first hand input, C3.
     
  8. Vincine

    Vincine New Member

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    How would they know? I'm gonna guess that it's some of the solar panels that were made 15 years ago that are 'kaput' now.
     
  9. Chandler51

    Chandler51 New Member

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    That's why I asked the question. Of the person I felt had a first hand answer.
     
  10. Durangokid

    Durangokid New Member

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    Vincine Thx for using my post regards.:) I think if you lived in a pristine area that is being covered with these monsters you would change your mind. Coal fired power plants are not that bad in todays world and they do not impact any where near the surface miles of these Mixmasters. It is coal powered energy that kept or economy strong. Coal power is being shut down in favor of Green Power. Coal Power is down 30% and dropping. There have been 2 million jobs lost. New plants are being located in countries where power in years to come will be affordable. The Coal Powered electrial power that made the U.S. a world power is gone. The shut down of U.S. oil production has caused gas prices to rocket. [Closing of "Stipper" wells] If you like that then you will embrace the 40% jump in your home electric bills. The loss of cheap electrical power and taxes to keep the Green Power movement alive is keeping our econmy below other nations such as China. The American tax payer in tax cost for one Kilowatt of coal power is .64 cents. The American Tax payers tax cost for one Kilowatt of wind power is 70 dollars. Not a good exchange but a standard for government run power projects. This does not take into account the loss of high paying American jobs. Wind mill workers are a small group on Mim. wages. The Power Companies don't profit? Who do you think owns the profit from this tax supported swindle. In my area it is Florida Power and Light. The Wind Mills are imported from Japan. Supporters of Obama are making a fortune.:rolleyes:
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2012
  11. HockaLouis

    HockaLouis New Member

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    Green Energy would be a fable if it weren't actually a vast leftwing conspiracy to control people and enrich itself.
     
  12. Vincine

    Vincine New Member

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    I didn’t say I thought the big wind mills were good, or not. I said I didn’t find them ugly. I think you’re confusing my appreciation of a windmill’s simple clean lines, as compared to other powerplants, as approval.

    While the Adirondacks may not be pristine as Wyoming, they are pretty damm BEAUTIFUL. There is a wind farm up here just outside the park that I drive through on occasion. The first time I saw the mills was a hazy day with low hanging cloud cover They snuck up on me out of the fog. You couldn’t see the hubs of the mills. What you saw were the big bases, and the end of the blades as they slowly came down out of the clouds, arced around the bottom of their travel, and disappeared back into the ceiling.

    They looked like something that was planted here from another planet. The scale seemed off, way off. If you can imagine an open town board meeting being held in a first grade classroom, with all the grown-ups sitting in the kids chairs. That's what these things, sprouting up out of the fields and behind the farm houses & barns, looked like. I thought they were BIG. Really BIG. Astonishingly BIG. I thought they were most bizarre, but I didn’t think they were ugly, not like other kinds of power plants would have been scattered around the area.

    As far as costs. I would prefer that ‘$70 dollar per kilowatt’ be given to me to install my own generating ability. I’m stating I think we'd be better off if we could pull our energy right out of the sky, household by household, and not be subject to forces outside our communities. I think big power plants create dependency instead of independence, whether they’re green or not.

    The photos below were taken with a wide angle lens. They don't give a true idea of the size. Imagine the width of one of the bases is twice as wide as the house, and then extrapolate their height from that.
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jul 4, 2012
  13. Chandler51

    Chandler51 New Member

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    They make the blades close to where I work, and I see them all the time on the highway. They are big. REAL f'ing big. Here's a pic for scale....



    image-3779141493.jpg

    I pulled the pic off of the net, but that's how they move them around here also.
     
  14. c3shooter

    c3shooter Administrator Staff Member

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    Photo I took in San Diego. Watching the cranes on the ship unloading the wind generators. Think these were Japanese.

    scaffold 046.jpg
     
  15. Durangokid

    Durangokid New Member

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    Back in the 1960s the Wind Mills were going to replace every energy product. The Government gave big checks and tax breaks as they are now doing. The Power companies make a killing on these deals. The Feds pay the overhead and the power is fed into the grid where it brings market price. The poor taxpayer is paying twice for his morning toast. The Power Company is then allowed to exempt the profits. We were doing drive systems for the Medicine Bow Wyoming project. When the Tax breaks were removed Florida Power walked away. They left the breaks open and the damn things destroyed themselves. For years the great piles of iron littered the plains. And yes the Taxpayers cleaned up the mess. The results of this will be very high home electric bills. Too bad we had it pretty good.:(
     
  16. BodySnatcher

    BodySnatcher New Member

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    Solar powered Sterling engine. Check it out.
     
  17. Muliemaster

    Muliemaster New Member

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    They also make them in pueblo colorado as well as in brighton co
     
  18. Chandler51

    Chandler51 New Member

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    Have you seen them being hauled? MAN! The first time I saw one on the highway, I wasn't sure I wanted to drive past it. (I did tho). :)
     
  19. Muliemaster

    Muliemaster New Member

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    I have hauled several times, but heavy haul isnt my cup of tea, to much dealings with dot for me
     
  20. TLuker

    TLuker Active Member

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    That's a good point. I never thought about the decentralization of power literally. :)

    Now, I can't help but to wonder how things would have turned out if Edison had won the debate with Westinghouse over DC and AC. Edison wanted small localized power plants to produce DC, which can't travel long distances like AC. And isn't decentralization what makes the Internet so great, and protected from attacks?