> found different BOMs used within the same product code for one manufacturer identified a near-5% difference in potential-induced degradation (PID) between the two BOM combinations.
Different batches within "the same product" can be made very differently, making it hard to buy for reliability since you can only determine this in retrospect. There's probably going to be an "IBM deathstar" or "capacitor plague" issue in the medium term. But it won't be very apparent outside the industry.
If you are financing a project and the degradation occurs faster but not at a rate of which it gets swapped out on warranty - you want something to cover that financial difference. Also swapping out the asset has costs that aren't covered - so it isn't as simple as it would seem.
It's the same as all insurance products - might need it, might not. At least in this case they put forward some real statistical data. And their comment that residential performs worse than commercial completely resonates given the LOE difference.
Insurance companies are well suited to study this EXACT thing and to come to a very correct answer. Also, if there were an independent expert who arrived at this same conslclusion, wouldn't you expect him/her to monetize their knowledge?
Now, what they communicate to customers is another thing. I bet they know very well what they are getting into... but I agree they aren't likely to be transparent with you about it.
It’s frustrating to see nonsense like this associated with seemingly every industry.
There's a reason why this "nonsense" is widespread across (usually capital intensive, commodity producing) industries, and it's usually not because of speculation.
I’ve never seen anyone claim a solar panel would last 40 years. Something is fishy.
This puts the entire study in a poor light.
Pricing insurance is a balancing act.
If you overestimate then your rates will not be competitive.
If you underestimate then you pay out more in claims then you collect in premiums.
As a consumer, I only want insurance if I think they've assessed the value to be lower than what I'd pay out of pocket to 'self insure.' As an insurance company, I want people the opposite, that reality of risk lies lower than what you think it is, so I can make money. I want a bunch of worried low risk people to pay overhead and marginal fees so my margins are frothier.
I don’t think that’s entirely right — the main value add of insurance is to the rare, mind numbingly expensive events — ER visits, crashing into a RR, house burning down, etc. You’re paying to minimize tail risk, including risk you couldn’t possibly self-insure against in reasonable time (my payments to insurance is not going to reach the value of my home — the bet is whether my home will ever burn down).
Regardless, it’s still a conflict of interest in this case
However you want to interpret insurance, there's clearly a conflict of interest that the business based entirely around assessing and managing risk publishes information that risk is higher than people thought and they are therefor more relevant as a business than people thought.
Consider a risk of losing $200 with probability 5% on an asset of $2000. The expected value of the loss is $10. So under your argument, if the insurance company charges over $10, it's worth it to self-insure. But what does self-insure actually mean? I assume it means keep $200 lying around. If you only keep $10 around then you won't have the money to actually fix the problem, and convert a loss of $200 (say, repair costs) to a loss of $2000. Under my values here it would take over 20 years' of premiums to build up what you would need to save to self-insure!
As a consumer, I pay a premium (literally) to get rid of the risk and cap my expenditures. So in my example, there is some price between $10 and $200 where the insurance company can profit and I still come out ahead because I can take $200-P and do something else with it.
Of course, you are still correct that within the $10 to $200 do have an interest in making you believe that the value of the insurance is on the higher end of the range than the lower.
Also, if an insurance company had perfect knowledge of future claims by being clairvoyant, they could charge a suitable risk premium to write policies where they wouldn’t lose any money, since they would also know how many policies they would be writing.
In this specific case where the firm is publishing research they have funded, there are essentially two interests or activities at play:
A. research to determine the extent of solar panel installation performance or lack thereof
B. selling financial products based on performance
Since interest B would be negatively impacted by a certain outcome from interest A (a finding that solar installation performance is optimal, in this case), that implies the firm's performance of activity A may have been affected in order to reduce negative impact to the firm overall.
We see this a lot in industry-funded research. Its not unusual. For example, recently a lot of airlines have funded studies about Covid19 spread in airplane cabins. To be published in a reputable journal, researchers are compelled to declare these interests in the cover page of their papers. Also, a good journalist will state this somewhere in their piece (normally at the top or the bottom, conventionally in italics).
To your point about competition and rates, that is really not any part of conventions on declaring interest conflicts in academic research but I'll entertain an argument about it here because I don't think the market forces are as strong as you imply.
The idea that a product will be priced perfectly simply does not apply in a niche market such as this. When you are selling a niche product, the market will not be deep enough to force firms into the behaviour you are describing. This already applies to things as widely held as flood insurance where the market is so shallow, that the federal government has to intervene to make it viable. Solar PV Installation performance insurance (not to mention options) is extremely niche.
I think "conflict of interest" is frequently misused. I was taught it describes situations where one's professional/ethical/legal obligations are opposed, such as an attorney representing competing clients, or a board member approving a contract with a company he is an investor in. I realize this is a semantic point.
In this case, I don't think kWh Analytics has any professional obligation to a standard of science or journalism, so there's no conflict.
In this case the authors probably have the latter but not the former (they're not doing anything wrong legally). "Conflict of interest" is definitely the kind of phrase which has a context-specific definition, so I think semantics is probably more important here than it might normally be.
FWIW, I re-read my above comment and I think came off more hostile than I intended. Your point about pricing insurance is a really interesting one and I think a lot of other commentators had good takes. Specifically, someone mentioned how information asymmetry benefits insurers which is worth considering too.
If they do, then spreading viral stories about the need for their kind of insurance is probably a valid strategy too.
How is it a conflict of interest?
All that gets thrown out the window when an insurance company funds research. Because insurance companies don't profit from consumers being informed...they profit from information asymmetry. Deliberate exaggeration of risks is pure profit for them.
I'm not sure I understand why that should be the case?
After all, plenty of research gets handed over to the company that paid for it, who get to decide whether to release it publicly it or not - so negative reports never see the light of day.
* If the research points in the opposite direction of the desires of the research funders it will likely get squashed. Researchers aren't typically keen on putting their name on publications that are pointing to the opposite direction of the truth.
* If the research points in the same direction as the desires of research funders, it gets published. It may be exaggerated, but research that has the correct direction but exaggerated scale isn't quite the black and white ethical dilemma that the former scenario is.
So asbestos companies might publish research saying that the risk of cancer is low, but they won't publish research that says that it is an excellent antioxidant.
This same observation also extends to insurance companies, but with insurance companies, the conflict of interest isn't the direction of research, it is the magnitude of the exaggeration. Because the gap between real risk and the fake published risk is their entire profit margin.
Some other points mentioned that, wild fires reduces the yields with 6% and hail storms damage the PV systems. Interesting work! Value proposition for PV is lowered by climate change impacts.
But it seems it's hypothetical. As far as I know most of these, in North America, end up in the trash. Which is not great due to the toxic materials used leaching into the water system.
Anyone know more about this?
I'm guessing the recycling industry will start ramping up in a decade or two wWhen most of the recently installed stuff starts reaching the end of its useful life. Older PV exists of course but there's just a lot less of that. It's one of those things that will get sorted as demand increases and economies of scale increase.
Meanwhile, local regulations are probably a great way to avoid people dumping toxic stuff in landfills. How that's not a thing to begin with is a bit mind boggling. On a positive note, those landfills might be the mines of the future as they contain lots of valuable resources that people discarded.
Panels have gotten so much better, I know folks who replaced 10-15 year old panels with brand new panels, even though they were still producing and within warranty. Panels are also entirely recyclable and infra to do so is being spun up.
By contrast, there are very few businesses that will be unprofitable if their LED lightbulbs burn out 2.3% faster than predicted. (LED lightbulbs burning out is a stupid market-for-lemons market failure, but that's a different topic.)
Panels getting better is actually another potential risk for these projects—if, three years from now, low-cost PV modules cost €0.09 per peak watt instead of €0.17 like today, then PV plants built at that point will have dramatically lower costs than PV plants built today, and probably PPAs signed then will also have dramatically lower costs. When plants are built without a PPA, this could result in those plants being "stranded assets" that can't make enough money to pay the interest on the bank loan, like many coal plants today, but even when there is a PPA, the electric utilities and ratepayers (who in many cases are also taxpayers) have strong incentives to find ways to circumvent it, for example through inflation or bankruptcy.
Now, €0.09/Wp sounds like a ridiculously low price; window glass, for example, costs substantially more than that. It's hard to see how PV panels could reduce their raw material use enough to get that low. So maybe it won't happen. Or maybe we'll find a way. (In Derctuo, for example, I suggested that new solar modules could use chicken wire instead of glass, though that might drop the efficiency of low-cost panels from 16% to 15%.)
* First 5 years : 95%
* After 5th year : 0.4% annual degradation
* 25 years : 88.4%
The NEON-2 380W from this year looks roughly equivalent, and they have these specs:
* 1st year 98.5%
* from 2-24th year: 0.33%/year down
* 90.6% at year 25
This is the lifespan of some homes, and power plants.
The long lasting ones are substantially more expensive than asphalt shingles, 3x at a minimum.
Stone, slate, tile roofs in Europe (and in some parts of the US) have lifespans measured in centuries.
Also, I spoke with some roofers in Pennsylvania who explained to me the difference between Welsh slate and the stuff from PA ... way less durable because the layers are not as tightly bonded, and then you add freeze/thaw and it just doesn't last as long.
Unfortunately, we will have squandered 3 decades of not using it more extensively.
What’s that Churchill quote about Americans?
- I mean the start of building because we will realize we need it.
- Solar won’t provide a base load, no matter how cheap it gets. Yes, i know about the billions and billions of batteries
- We didnt need next generation nuclear. it was important to reduce emissions over the past 3 decades
Like, 10 years ago I thought nuclear was an essential part of the future energy mix, just as a sensible hedge against other things not working out. It's maybe been 5 years since that became obviously unnecessary as renewables continue to progress.
My opinion on nuclear hasn't really shifted in absolute terms. It's still much better than coal for example. But the possibility and now near certainty of solar, wind and batteries being better and cheaper has put them way ahead in relative terms. It's renewables that I've been getting new information or confirmation of old information which was speculative in that time frame. Nuclear hasn't really changed.
The people who remain loudly pro-nuclear, then seem in fact to be super pessimistic about renewables compared with me, rather than super positive about nuclear.
As you kind of confirm with your edits, you think solar is inadequate, when I think it is one of the most astonishly successful power technologies ever conceived by man.
How did we end up with such divergent views on renewables if we're broadly in tune about nuclear?
The oil industry funds anti-renewable but pro-nuclear efforts. That might seem counterintuitive, since nuclear also competes with fossil fuels, but the fossil fuel industry knows that nuclear plants take a very long time to build. During that time, more fossil fuel plants get built, and the renewables industry struggles and possibly withers.
That creates a stripe of Internet commenter convinced that nuclear plants are the solution and renewables are terrible. They all use the same lines of reasoning, and it doesn't really matter how many times they're refuted because... well, because this is a playbook that has been used many times over.
I can't recall ever seeing one of those.
I hope you're not filing everyone that wants a high nuclear:battery ratio into that box!
The very odd belief that nuclear power does not rely on storage and peaking capacity to deliver electricity when people actually want it, at a price they can afford, and without carbon externalities is one of the key things that indicates to me that nuclear support is an irrational tribal thing.
You could easily think nuclear fans live in a parallel dimension where electricity demand is entirely flat and unchanging, so focused are they on the mythical "baseload" to the exclusion of everything else.
A desire to only have a day's worth of storage is not a belief that storage is unnecessary.
> I would put anyone who thought that in that box.
> You could easily think nuclear fans live in a parallel dimension where electricity demand is entirely flat and unchanging, so focused are they on the mythical "baseload" to the exclusion of everything else.
You're going out of your way to strawman.
Cheaper, most certainly, but better, according to what metric exactly? PV has a higher carbon footprint than nuclear. Same for wind if you add storage. Both require at least one order of magnitude more raw materials (mostly extracted using fossil fuels). Land use is also an issue with wind turbines, not all countries can put them offshore. And then there's the geopolitical angle and the huge dependence on China. I know that the nuclear fuel supply chain has its own issues as well, but again the amount of raw materials is relatively small and fuel can be stockpiled.
It's not about being for or against renewables. They have a very real environmental footprint and we're past the point where we can simply disregard that.
Not inherently, though. This is only because the current energy production is 90% non-renewable globally. See e.g. here, page 11: https://group.vattenfall.com/de/siteassets/de/verantwortung/...
I'm kind of surprised we aren't already well on our way to building the latter, considering the potential benefits.
I've never really found what he argues particularly compelling.
His December 2017 piece, Electric Vehicles: not so fast, seems kind of wrong in retrospect but also pretty empty of intellectual heft.
A big reason is that the price effectiveness of solar and the price effectiveness of solar+batteries are wildly different values.
Storage is much more expensive,yes. So much so that building extra solar (and or wind) and just wasting some of the energy when it's above the demand is cheaper overall then storing every drop of generation with batteries.
But how does that impact nuclear vs renewables?
Solar plus batteries is cheaper than fossil fuels (without carbon fees!) in many markets and use cases. And continues to get cheaper. That's an amazing thing that we should celebrate. It pretty much guarantees a solution to climate change even if sensible regulation doesn't get implemented.
Is nuclear cheaper than fossil if you don't include the carbon and pollution externalities? I don't think it is. So the only hope for it (if we assume renewables all stop working tomorrow and we need a plan B) is widespread government intervention.
Even if you're building out for the worst case scenario?
> Is nuclear cheaper than fossil if you don't include the carbon and pollution externalities? I don't think it is.
It can be if we stop using NASA-style one-off engineering methods.
No, it won't be back here for decades, if not a century, if ever.
Insurance, financing, and NIMBYs.
They're essentially intractable problems that make it cost-ineffective when NG and renewables are cheaper. Why sink billions into something that doesn't have a clear ROI?
I find this to be overly optimistic. Even millennials and gen-Z parrot the tired NIMBYism that has characterized all discussion of nuclear power for the past few decades, so that overly-emotional, irrational mindset seems to be alive and well.
Its problems are entirely emotional and political. We could completely solve waste storage, completely solve safety, and we'd still be dealing with the ignorant general public for another couple generations.
Hands on training is hard to provide and acquire. As in expensive and not widely dispersed geographically around the world.
Nation states actively pursue programs that restrict the flow of nuclear knowledge and the development of expertise. Particularly flows toward low wage economies.
UIUC has a great nuclear program (NPRE PSE), and so does the US Navy with hands-on experience.
Building that back to a fraction of what it was would take decades and wouldn't be the same.
They also need to be near large water sources to use evaporative cooling.
its only the largest nuclear plant in the country :-)
I don't think that using waste water from a city an hour away would be considered "close to a large source of water".
Also, thanks for the link - it was interesting. Maybe they can get my electric bill down some more :-)
I don't think I did ?
Of course, you could argue that cities shouldn't be in deserts.
Hey Now! I resemble that comment :-P
Isn't Gates new plant all about creating standardized, modular, repeatable designs to lower costs ?
Actually, it turns out that the medicinal value of certain isotopes that we could manufacture at nuclear facilities far outweigh the energy value per fissile event.
This is especially true for cancer destroying isotopes that are many orders of magnitude more effective in terms of precision and kill rate then typical radiation sources used today (or for targeted quantum dot medicines).
Other benefits include potential safe nuclear batteries that would allow an iPhone to last a few years without charge. But these are inventions for future generations.
Within a decade, solar will have dropped another 300% and "next gen nuclear" will still be 10 years away.
At this point, it's a dead heat between next gen nuclear and fusion.
It's a 24/7 fusion reactor that requires no supervision or maintenance. There are minor energy losses due to its transmission being over 8 light-minutes in distance, but it provides 50% cover of the entire planet 100% of the time.
I actually made the same joke about 10 years ago while working for a CPV (concentrated photovoltaic) startup collaborating with Sandia National laboratory.
I was talking to a Sandia researcher who was working on their huge fusion-inducing laser and he was all pumped up about it, then, I mentioned that I really don't know what the big deal was, we already had working fusion power. The joke did not go over too well.
I'm not optimistic that it can be cost competitive without massive government subsidies for construction, fuel production, waste disposal, and/or insurance.
The MIT Sparc and Arc projects are one group's attempts at coming up with a practical design. They seem to be making steady progress.
Confined fusion has been demonstrated at Q=0.6, it just hasn't hit break-even yet which would make it industrially useful. ITER should exceed break-even and DEMO should produce power in 2051.
- Powered flight: from first demonstration to commercial application was less than a decade.
- Computation: I know about Babbage and Lovelace, but from the invention of the transistor to practical computing was years to decades depending on how you count.
- Electric motors: similar
- Batteries: don't know the history, probably they were known in ancient times, but it's not like their development was held back by anything, people just didn't have much interest in finding applications for them.
- IC engines: At most two decades between invention and useful work. But probably less by more reasonable definitions.
- Rockets: Again, depends on what you count as successful. But people had working versions pretty fast.
Fusion is unique in that we've known how to do it for 80 years, spent billions of dollars on it and outside of scientific research and weapons have no real applications for it. The only way to make the timeline for others seem similar to fusion is to stretch the start date back to when people imagined being able to do something, e.g. to put the start date for powered flight at da Vinci, but you could do this with fusion too (perpetual motion machines?) and make it begin arbitrarily back in the past as well.
In basically all other cases of technological development precise characterization of the underlying phenomena to commercial application takes a few decades at most.
Edit: Also, those older technologies had the massive disadvantage that materials were much harder to get and of less consistent quality. Fusion research has basically not had these problems.
- In 1000 tonnes of uranium ore, there is 1 tonne of uranium. This contains about 0,7% U-235 used as fuel in most civilian applications. U-235 is used in the fuel in concentrations of about 3-5%. In the end, from a tonne of uranium, you can make about 100 kg of fuel used by a nuclear reactor. This is all used up in about a day in a largish installation. So you have to dig and process 1000 tonnes of ore each day to keep a 1 GW electrical output reactor running. The recycling of the fuel isn't economical unless you have a nuclear military program or want to do some research with various isotopes. That doesn't seem like a huge improvement compared to coal, gas and oil. Nuclear just isn't very clean in this respect either.
- The technology and mentality of how we build actual nuclear reactors is stuck at best in the 1980s. This might change, but there isn't any conceptually new reactor running in production anywhere. Compared to wind and solar, where replacement with better technology is the norm, this is just nuts. Also, wind and solar starts to be competitive to fossil fuels when producing electricity in some cases.
- Solar and wind don't have to produce stable output if the output is very cheap. In such a case, it will be economical to build better transmission lines, motivate consumers to adjust use based on production capacity and finally invest in clever energy storage projects. Good transmission lines (which we will need anyway, because of EVs and other electricity consumers) will spread out the production and load in such a way that the Central Limit Theorem will guarantee something similar to the traditional "base load" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_limit_theorem Cheap batteries acting basically as grid capacitors will smooth out most of the peaks in production or demand, which will make the whole thing more economical still. (As we can already see in several places.)
- For winters, long term energy storage from the summer or very good inter-continental transmission lines are needed. This is not a solved problem but we still have plenty of time to think about solutions, but we really should think about them. Just building something conceptually stuck in the 1980s that is more expensive just to ensure we have electricity and perhaps heat in the winter without having to think about perhaps more efficient solutions doesn't seem like a situation we want to be in. We can decommission existing power plants over the next 10-20 years, while we think about storing the energy/ producing energy intensive stuff mostly in the summer or something like that. There is e.g. the possibility to produce ammonia, sodium metal or something else with excess energy that we can transform into electricity in the winter. There is also HVDC lines that might actually connect continents, which would solve some of this as well. There really is plenty of energy in wind, solar, tides/ waves, etc. that we can use. If it is produced at a low enough price, we might be able to throw some even rather substantial portion of useful energy away to transport it to the consumers be it on a different continent and still end up with cheaper power.
It might be more economical to buy storage to have enough for the winter or to transport some form of fuel. I think, the reality will be a mix of all approaches.
- We might do a better job of insulating our homes and more stuff like that to reduce some obviously inefficient use of electricity (e.g. for "just" heating, cooling, drying). Actually making infrastructure better is a good long term investment as it enables new approaches to solving problems and makes the quality of living better for everybody but especially for the less affluent.
- Nuclear is regulated as hell, where wind and solar isn't really all that much. Wind and solar is very flexible, as can be seen in poor bu sunny countries, where solar is a way to have electricity most of the time without having to worry about diesel (or uranium for that matter). Some people have a much better quality of living thanks to the dropping price of solar electricity in their circumstances and they don't have to ask anybody for permission to use solar. They just throw it on the roof of a hut and have enough electricity to power a phone and a battery so they have light at night. They can now communicate e.g. about the price of their produce and educate themselves. These people will not see nuclear or fossil fuels as a solution when they progress into the middle class, where they actually can affect some things e.g. by engineering infrastructure solutions.
- Nuclear always has the risk of a nuclear meltdown, which just isn't an option in large population centres. We humans are just too error prone to be able to reliably design and handle this. Because we are quite risk averse and have all the preventive measures (that have failed multiple times already) the cost of producing nuclear power just skyrockets.
- Finally, if there were no nuclear reactors, it would be even more uneconomical to keep a large stockpile of nuclear weapons or to power attack submarines and other stuff that is made only for the purpose to solve problems by force. Perhaps there is some advantage to the fear of guaranteed destruction but in reality, we just wage wars using ransomware and proxy countries - nuclear weapons aren't useful there at all.
The other uses of nuclear science e.g. in scientific instruments, medicine etc. can be done without nuclear being used to produce electrical power. We will have the current reactors for perhaps at least two more decades, so we have time to think about this even without building any new nuclear power generating capacity.
That's an estimate of output that should be exceeded 99 percent of the time, so it should be a very cautious estimate.
But it seems weird to specify only P99. Does that mean all the other more ambitious estimates from the same system are fine? If not then why didn't they just say "PV isn't performing as well as predicted"?
I'm trying to figure how that would be mathematically possible but I'm mostly confusing myself.
There's greater variance in sunshine between years than some business plans accounted for, so while average performance for a site over time, and solar PV on a nation scale is still as predicted, one individual solar business can go under if they borrow all the money up front and don't plan ahead for having a bad year or two early in the term.
So, after 33 years (12,000 days producing, oh, 10kWh per day = 120 MWh), they'll only put out 2/3 of their rated output? ? Without doing the financial math, already sounds like a damn good investment to me.
And, I'd guess, we'll get better at making them in that time.
In particular, how much more would anyone pay for a less-quickly degrading panel, or for insurance against its lost performance, given how much less need be paid for its replacement in ten or twenty years?
This principle applies to most things in life. Having a dumb TV and a separate internet connected streaming box, a computer with a dumb monitor, an audio amplifier and standalone speakers, etc.
Combining things typically makes their initial setup easier but in the long run they cost more and generate more waste.
Fossil fuels extraction is the best of the industrial/non-talent based sectors, Saudi Aramco basically sticks straws in the sand and oil comes out at 7 dollars per barrel.
Electrons they are all the same, there is not some consumer convenience in using green electrons.
The only success story in terms of marketcap is Tesla, but that company is based on constant lies told by the CEO to keep people energized.
If we manage to solve climate change it would be the biggest letdown ever for the general population: the way this thing is being socially and politically advertised people expect a technoutopian future where all of a sudden rainbows would appear all over the place from cows derriere in lieu of methane. A technoutopian pipedream sold by Musk and the like.
In reality we'd just manage to keep things as they are now, our lives won't change that much.
Tl;dr Long SaaS and fintech, short energy and construction
people in the west don't want an Arab hegemony, they want to control everyone, including their assets
energy sells very well because everyone needs energy
the only reason why terrorism exists today in ME is because of this, america doesn't want his hegemony to go
If this is not just an issue with Chinese solar panels, then it is bad news for the industry. Solar power generation at home will not be economically viable if the solar panels don't perform and last to the 10 years or so that they currently guarantee. Especially when they are already hampered by high battery costs (which needs to be replaced every 3-5 years).
China's been making 50% of all our stuff for a few decades now. From the cheap knock-offs to the actual, high quality things.
China's "not famous for quality" because a lot of people don't want to pay for quality, but they can for sure make quality things.
Several of Huawei's phones had just been declared "the best phone hardware money can buy" by several big reviewers, just as they got hit by US sanctions last year, for example.
China's "not famous for quality" because a lot of people don't want to pay for quality, but they can for sure make quality things.