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How not to do it perhaps

What Europe showed the world about renewable energy

Err, yes. How not to do it perhaps?

There is nowhere in Europe where that’s a sensible method of mounting solar panels.

20 thoughts on “How not to do it perhaps”

  1. Well, if the alignment of the gable is north-south and you want to get get something out of mornings and afternoons, why not? And who wants to deal with the hassle of re-engineering the roof to slant them all towards the sun. Virtue signaling doesn’t work like that.

    I did read the article. Wow, true believer.

  2. As Ltw says, if that ridge is N/S it’s a perfectly good arrangement. It not only produces about the same amount of power as a south facing system(*), it produces it nearer the morning and afternoon peak demand periods so matches consumption better than a south facing system.

    (*) Because you get power from scattered ambient light as well as direct. My PV can produce reasonable amounts of power on days with light cloud, whereas the solar thermal does need direct sunshine.

  3. The article is really amazing, just some examples:

    “So did some large-scale efforts by governments and corporations: Countries turned down the heat in public buildings, France turned off the lights early on the Eiffel Tower, and public education campaigns encouraged people to use electricity outside peak hours.”

    Turning off the lights early on the Eiffel tower is a large scale effort to reduce energy consumption?

    “Remaking the EU’s entire fossil fuel system to accept US gas instead of Russian will take years to get up and running, longer if governments are doing their due diligence in reviewing permitting.”

    So slow permitting is a good thing?

    “Gas companies building infrastructure might find that by the time it’s complete, it will be too expensive to compete with renewables.”

    Only if we count the cost of Infrastructure needed for gas but disregard the cost of grid upgrades and storage required for renewable

    “The EU has plenty of other challenges to sort out that don’t involve building redundant fossil fuel infrastructure. One is cracking harder renewable challenges, like scaling up mass storage for all the rooftop solar being installed.”

    So if redundancy is a bad thing then why are we going after technologies that require more redundancy?

  4. N/S alignment. S is at the top of the photo. Sure, morning & afternoon capture. But at what efficiency? Without even reading the article, it’s obvious the installation’s at high latitude. So atmospheric attenuation. Couple that with the inefficient placement & you’re headed towards where the lifetime generating carbon saving doesn’t compensate for the carbon creation in manufacturing & install. And that’s just the environmental budget. The cost benefit ratio’s a suitable punishment.

  5. AtC: A friend of mine has solar panels covering most of a South-facing roof, and he reckons he gets a few watts from the full moon!

  6. ‘… and public education campaigns encouraged people to use electricity outside peak hours.”

    I lived in France from 2001 until late 2021 and France had had campaigns including special discounted rates to use electricity outside peak hours since before I arrived – Option Bleu- Heures Creuzes (off peak) which was eight hours in total but staggered round the Country. In my case 3 hours between 1pm to 5pm and 5 hours from 1am to 6am. In a nearby town it was 10,30pm to 7,30am. There also was Option Tempo (discontinued about ten years ago) which had White days, Blue days and Red days and off-peach and peak for each day with different rates, Red being very high and eye watering at peak times. White days was Summer months, Blue for Autumn and Spring, Red for Winter (except weekends).

    Appliances like washers, tumble dryers, dishwashers mostly came with delay timers to use cheap rates.

    Now this wasn’t because France didn’t have enough electricity or was ‘saving the planet’. In fact France had an over-capacity of nuclear electricity which provided (and still does) 80% of demand. The reason was the grid could not carry the load and was undergoing a nationwide upgrade – and still struggles – as people modernised particularly in rural areas moving away from wood-burning to electric. France has no National gas grid like UK, so gas use is only in large towns and cities.

    But why when France emits next to nothing in terms of CO2 emissions from electricity production, the use less electricity to save the planet makes no sense except as a political exercise on the climate change scam.

  7. Always it’s about electricity generation, not energy use. Electricity being a fraction (1/4-1/3?) of total energy that society uses.

    So renewables are an increased fraction of a fraction of total energy. We are saved!

  8. “he reckons he gets a few watts from the full moon!”

    With the greenhouses here, you can get a couple of watts from the light pollution on an overcast night.
    It all depends, and light is light to those things.

    Whether that setup would ever generate/save enough to cover the cost-over-lifetime, let alone cover for that whole “zero-carbon use” depends on factors already mentioned in posts above.
    But generate ‘leccy it will.

  9. Grikath – Whether that setup would ever generate/save enough to cover the cost-over-lifetime

    Depends on how long you plan on living.

    The Sun should be good for another couple of billion years, after that we’ll need to think about other stars, entropy, and the final dissolution of all baryonic matter in a cold, dead universe.

    By that point, heat pumps might be a good idea.

  10. But generate ‘leccy it will.

    On the basis that some useful electricity is better than none at all, the owners may be satisfied with the installation. With some battery storage, a diesel generator in that shed along with some fuel for the solid fuel burner under the chimney, they might survive a harsh winter in a little comfort.

  11. It’s subsidy harvesting – ecoloons arranging for money to be transferred from poorer people (with electricity meters) to wealthier people (who can afford PV panels). See also: wind turbines.

  12. ‘What Europe showed the world about renewable energy’

    Don’t cut off your fossil fuel supply when you have insufficient storage??

  13. Bloke in North Dorset

    My mate moved in to a house in a new build estate in Worcester a couple of years ago. When I went to see him last year I was surprised to see all the south facing roofs at the back of the houses were full of solar panels whereas the south facing front roofs had none.

    That’s how serious the problem is, planners think aesthetics trump global warming.

  14. @ Ltw
    “A true believer” but not a believer in truth. I saw the claim that renewables had overtaken gas in electricity supply so I clicked on “Gridwatch” which shows currently Gas 49%, renewables 24% – less than half Gas. Over 2022 average Gas 27%, renewables 18.5%, just over two-thirds.
    Yes, for *one day* at the end of 2022, on a particularly windy day on a weekend when demand was a lot lower than a working day, renewables overtook gas: it didn’t last long.

  15. @john77

    “For one day at the end of 2022” definitely isn’t right if you mean “there was only one day that all renewables combined were above gas”.

    Probably depends what stats you look at but the National Grid give for the 2022 UK electricity mix:

    Gas 38.5%
    Wind 26.8%
    Nuclear 15.5%
    Biomass 5.2%
    Coal 1.5%
    Solar 4.4%
    Imports 5.5%
    Hydro 1.8%
    Storage 0.9% (think this was almost all pumped hydro)

    Gas + Coal makes 40%, versus Wind + Solar + Biomass being 33%. If you also throw in Biomass (not the most environmentally friendly thing but people will often include it as “renewable”) and pumped hydro, then we get up to 39.1%, which is more than Gas, but not quite as high as Gas + Coal.

  16. @john77

    Forgot to include the link to the monthly reports:

    There are many days on which Renewables produce more electricity than Gas. There are even entire months where Wind alone produces more than Gas – October 2022 was 36.2% Wind versus 36.0% Gas, for example, while January 2023 (admittedly not within the range you were looking) was even more extreme, at 36.4% Wind versus 27.5% Gas.

    Figures are going to vary depending on source for various reasons – UK vs GB (NI has a separate grid), classification of what exactly counts as Renewable and how you account for Imports or just focus on domestic generation, and the fact some sources include local Solar that isn’t fed into the grid while others don’t. But the claim that renewables overtook gas in 2022 doesn’t seem to me to be a lie: whether this trend is the unalloyed good it’s being presented as is quite another debate.

  17. The point is not how much electricity those solar panels generate. The point is how much the house owner was paid to put them there. When the house is sold the ignorant buyer might be suckered into paying more as well.

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