Author Topic: Solar frickin' Radweg, Erftstadt/Liblar (Germany)  (Read 6645 times)

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Offline FrankBuss

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Solar frickin' Radweg, Erftstadt/Liblar (Germany)
« on: August 06, 2019, 02:54:41 pm »
Last year someone built another solar road in Germany, this time for bicycles, as the one in the Netherlands. Opening:
November 11, 2018
(image caption: "Germany's first solar road near Cologne")

Movie about it, on the website of the company which built it:
https://www.solmove.com/der-erste-solar-radweg-ist-in-erftstadt-eroeffnet/
The movie was produced by RTL, a private television station. They say in the video it was funded with EUR 784,000 by the Bundesumweltministerium (Federal Environment Ministry), which is wrong. I contacted the city government and got the official information about the costs: The EUR 784k was support for multiple projects in Erftstadt, like creating other completely new bicycle ways. The solar installation costs about EUR 150k, 90% funded by the ministry and 10% by the city. But this is only planned, so far the city didn't pay anything, because they have to do this only after inspection and approval. It is all funded by Solmove at the moment. See here for the full answer.

February 18, 2019. It is producing energy, but still nothing fed into the public grid, because they forgot to submit some regulatory papers.

About a month later it finally failed:
March 26, 2019
(image caption: "The solar cycle path must not be used at the moment. Tarpaulins protect the modules from the sun.")

April 4, 2019, more information about the defect, probably water in some of the connectors caused a smouldering fire.

August 6, 2019: I took a look at it today (click on the image for the full resolution unedited photo with camera and GPS info), still not working:


Looks like the pedestrians took it in their own hand regarding the path must not be used  ::) And note the house to the left with the big roof, without solar cells.

This is the location (Copyright Google Maps), the 90m solar way marked in blue:



Note again all the roofs without solar cells. Top is north. This image might be old, but I couldn't see much more solar cells on roofs today. So much for low-hanging fruits.

Different angle:



The sign:



Note the wrong labeling: "Stromerzeugung dieses Jahr in kw/h" (power generation this year in kw/h). It is kWh.

Taking a look under the tarps:









The other end. Looks like the tarps don't cover it all to the end, I didn't remove anything at this side.



Close-up of the other end. Don't know what this is, maybe some broken cells?



The seal doesn't look too good either:



It looks awful with all the dirt. I think the solar cells are only between the bumps, as you can see here:



This would mean that nearly no power is generated if it is getting dirty.



Overview at the other end, different angle:



Nearby were many more houses with roofs without solar cells:



In the distance some wind turbines:



On the way home:



I don't think there are solar cells mounted on the roofs. Why not some solar fricking railway station roofs?!

And some more roofs:



Can you spot the tiny, lonely solar cell installation? (don't search, just kidding :)

February 3, 2020: News on the website from the city about the current status: The city canceled the contract with Solmove at the end of 2019. Solmove filed a lawsuit against the city. As a temporary solution, the city laid out PVC mats over it, so that it can be used again as a way, and for conservation of evidence.

May 31, 2020: current photo of the PVC mats:



At one mat they screwed it up and they overlap. They "fixed" it with the warning sign so that nobody trips over it. Close up, which shows the mat texture and thickness:



The mats are very comfortable to walk over. Similar to hard rubber, as you know it from tracks in a stadium.

Meanwhile the sign got some graffiti, looks like some people weren't amused:



Funny angry face at the nearby train station as well:

« Last Edit: May 31, 2020, 06:57:28 am by FrankBuss »
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Offline Red Squirrel

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Re: Solar frickin' Radweg, Erftstadt/Liblar (Germany)
« Reply #1 on: August 06, 2019, 04:11:12 pm »
I don't know what makes me facepalm more about this whole thing.  The fact that it was tried once... or the fact that they keep trying it over and over.  It does not work, stop it!   Overhead solar panels are so much more effective it just makes no sense to put them on surfaces that see traffic. 
 
Here's an idea if they really want to do roads... how about solar railways?  Put the panels between the tracks.  I can think of a number of issues with this already so it's still a bad idea, but probably better than roads and bike paths. 
 

Offline FrankBuss

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Re: Solar frickin' Radweg, Erftstadt/Liblar (Germany)
« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2019, 06:18:26 pm »
I guess railway solar cells would get very dirty, too, because there is a lot of air turbulence with fast trains, and then sand and dust etc.

But I think mounting it on these railway station roofs would be perfect. They are angled, so probably dust wouldn't be a problem, or at least with the next rain it would be gone. Snow wouldn't be much of a problem either, because there are only a few days when it snows here. Would have cost much less than the bicycle way, would have produced probably more energy, and would be still working. And this is only one station, there are about 5,400 railway stations in Germany, and some are pretty big:

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/39/Koeln_Hauptbahnhof_Luftaufnahme.jpg

I think at the bottom is just some transparent roof, no solar cell. They started only in 2014 with solar cells for their train stations:

https://www.pv-magazine.de/2014/06/20/groer-bahnhof-fr-den-ersten-grnen-bahnhof/

First "green" railway station, which creates as much solar energy as it consumes.
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Offline HighVoltage

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Re: Solar frickin' Radweg, Erftstadt/Liblar (Germany)
« Reply #3 on: August 06, 2019, 06:27:38 pm »
Its even more astonishing of how much it cost !
Some people make a lot of money by offering the government such stupid ideas.

And since the Government feels the push from the public to do something about global warming,
they pay  EUR 784000 for 100m of walkway !

So ridicules !
« Last Edit: August 06, 2019, 06:29:20 pm by HighVoltage »
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Offline edy

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Re: Solar frickin' Radweg, Erftstadt/Liblar (Germany)
« Reply #4 on: August 06, 2019, 06:32:03 pm »
Here's my theory...  I think there is some kind of government budget in many countries ear-marked for such "green initiatives" so they can fund local companies and show the public tax-payer that they are doing something new. Good sound-bite, lots of marketing "fluff" to appease the hard-working taxpayer that the government is using their money for technological scientific improvement of their country (or so they want to trick the average person into thinking).

People who know the system, or have a foot in the door, or know someone on the inside may be able to get their hands on this money. I'm sure the people closest to this political one-hand-washes-the-other may be in the construction industry... one of the handful of contractors who work to keep the road infrastructure in the municipalities maintained. This is also how these companies keep winning bids to put in the plumbing and drains, electrical and road infrastructure whenever a new subdivision is planned by the local city.

Otherwise, the announcements of award money, funding and "innovation" initiatives are being kept behind closed doors or announced to a very limited number of insiders who can jump on the opportunity right away. Practically anyone in this forum will be able to take $1,000,000 from the government, quit their job for a year and try working on and installing a solar-powered project of some kind. What you don't know you learn, or hire others to help you with. But regardless of what you end up doing, one thing for sure is if you try to put it on the ground and drive all over it, it will fail.

Why it keeps coming down to the worst possible installation surface (i.e. roadway/bike path) beats me... Unless the government doesn't want to award proven already-made solutions but needs to throw this money at "new" stuff or companies that they hope will somehow solve the puzzle.  :-//

« Last Edit: August 06, 2019, 06:34:22 pm by edy »
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Offline daqq

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Re: Solar frickin' Radweg, Erftstadt/Liblar (Germany)
« Reply #5 on: August 06, 2019, 06:34:04 pm »
Oh FFS...  :palm: How much money was poured into this crap already? I've lost track... Could someone calculate how many kW of NORMAL SANE solar panels could have been installed for said sum?
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Online 0xdeadbeef

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Re: Solar frickin' Radweg, Erftstadt/Liblar (Germany)
« Reply #6 on: August 06, 2019, 06:52:25 pm »
Talking of wasted money, while a bit offtopic: there were another 15-30 Million (ongoing) left for this brilliant idea:


Screw that medivac chopper, trains are much too oldschool, we have bleeding overhead wiring on our "Autobahn". Well, for 5km at least which somehow fits the five trucks with pantographs.
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Offline ju1ce

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Re: Solar frickin' Radweg, Erftstadt/Liblar (Germany)
« Reply #7 on: August 06, 2019, 07:19:33 pm »
I guess railway solar cells would get very dirty, too, because there is a lot of air turbulence with fast trains, and then sand and dust etc.

But I think mounting it on these railway station roofs would be perfect.

Solar cells on  railway station roofs? So something like this?  :)

 

Offline raptor1956

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Re: Solar frickin' Radweg, Erftstadt/Liblar (Germany)
« Reply #8 on: August 06, 2019, 07:21:33 pm »
The idea of solar roadways is appealing for a number of reasons but there are many challenges that make it very difficult.  We need roads and they are already there so if they could be put to use generating electricity they would do so without consuming additional land.  There are 6,552,000 km of roads in the USA and if we take an average of 10m for the width that translates into about 6.5E10 m^2 of potential solar area.  If the solar cells could generate a net 10% over 5 hours average per day the yearly net would be 1.2E16 WHrs.  The total energy consumption in the USA including all sources is 4.2E15 WHrs so if the solar roads could do 1.2E16 WHrs per year that would exceed the total energy consumption by about 2.8 times.  Or, if the net was 3.5% the roads could generate all the energy needs without occupying any additional land.

OK, that sounds great and is no doubt a factor in the projects that have been suggested, but there are MANY problems accomplishing this -- lets run through a few...

1.  Roads are driven on by heavy vehicles and the damage these vehicles to, mostly from the heavy trucks, requires billions of dollars every year to maintain them and we do a poor job at that.  We tend to go cheap with bed depth and wind up with cracks etc.

2.  Vehicles deposit crap on the roads from tires and leakage of oil and other things -- these reduce efficiency and would require an expensive nationwide system of chemical and mechanical cleaners.

3.  WEATHER -- yep, weather.  In the intermediate climates where the temp goes through the freezing point most often you get heaving and other things that damage roads -- anyone living in these parts needs no explanation.  And lets not discount snow.

4.  Cover.  Not every square meter of roadway is in full Sun do to foliage, landscape, dirt or man-made structures -- the net is likely to reduce the total effective area by, say, 2X.

5.  Cover.  The vehicles themselves will block the Sun though that impact is probably only on the order of a few percent net.

6.  Maintenance.  How often will the solar cells/panels need to be serviced and how would you do that to something embedded in the roadway.

7.  Ownership.  Will these solar roadways be owned by private industry or will the fossil fuels industry just accept being put out of business -- if all the problems could be overcome how likely is it that the fossil fuels industry would go down without a fight.

So, I understand the idea behind solar roadways, but the difficulties in making it happen and be cost effective and reliable would, it seems to me, be a long ways off.  OTH, testing of this is a good idea but has the problem of being a laughing stock and meme that hampers solar development in the long run when the early examples wind up being, well, pathetic.  Many of these early examples appear to me to be the brainchild of someone that has good intentions but lacks common sense.  That some of these projects get funding is not surprising and also not surprising is the willingness of construction companies to get there foot in that door.  Looking down the road perhaps 40 years or so I anticipate that solar roadways will produce, perhaps, 10% of the total energy needs but that's probably about it. 


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Offline FrankBuss

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Re: Solar frickin' Radweg, Erftstadt/Liblar (Germany)
« Reply #9 on: August 06, 2019, 07:35:55 pm »
Tozai Line Nishi-Funabashi Station Japan 1MW

This looks great. Seems to be about the same size as the Cologne main station, should be possible there, too. This website says estimated power generation is 166 MWh per year. Capacity is 1 MW, which costs about $1 million according to this website. For the solar way in Erftstadt they estimated 16 MWh per year (and I guess this was already very optimistic). So you get about 1/10 of the energy of a standard installation, but for the same price :palm:
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Offline schmitt trigger

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Re: Solar frickin' Radweg, Erftstadt/Liblar (Germany)
« Reply #10 on: August 06, 2019, 07:48:52 pm »
The photo where the weeds have started to cover the outermost cells is priceless..............
 

Offline FrankBuss

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Re: Solar frickin' Radweg, Erftstadt/Liblar (Germany)
« Reply #11 on: August 06, 2019, 07:53:34 pm »
Looking down the road perhaps 40 years or so I anticipate that solar roadways will produce, perhaps, 10% of the total energy needs but that's probably about it. 

I've done the calculations, and it just doesn't make sense, because of the far cheaper alternatives. For example to power all of Australia, you would need less than 2% area of Australia, if I didn't make a mistake in my calculations:

https://www.eevblog.com/forum/blog/eevblog-1234-more-epic-solar-roadways-fail!/msg2594253/#msg2594253

Of course this is different for other countries, and for highly populated countries it might be not so easy, but for Australia it is no problem to build some solar cell power plants in the deserts.

I guess the same is true for the US, but it might need a higher percentage, but there are big unused deserts as well, like the Death Valley, with 7,800 km^2, which would be already more than 10% of your estimated road area. Combine this with the higher efficiency of the installation, and just this one big power plant in the Death Valley might be all you need. Of course, might be better to build multiple medium sized power plants to avoid too much losses for long wires and more redundancy, and mix this with other renewable energy sources like water and wind turbines. I hope it is only a matter of time until everyone understands this, but renewable energy is already growing steadily, so I'm optimistic.
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Offline Red Squirrel

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Re: Solar frickin' Radweg, Erftstadt/Liblar (Germany)
« Reply #12 on: August 06, 2019, 08:07:59 pm »
The train station roof tops (or any roof tops) definitely make the most sense.  In fact they could potentially even use the rail itself to send power either to connect all the stations up, or just to trains so they can power stuff on the train.  But simplest is to probably just make each station it's own solar setup.   Bus shelters etc too. I put 400w on my shed, a typical bus shelter can probably fit around that same amount, maybe even 1kw if you go for larger overhang.  It could power lights etc on the shelter and send rest to the grid.

Roofs and ground mount are always going to be the simplest option.

At the end of the day though I think large commercial setups are the best way to go, the issue with smaller setups in public places is dealing with vandalism and theft.  You could do all the bus shelters and offer USB charging ports and lighting and other things, but people are just going to destroy it all.
 

Online nctnico

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Re: Solar frickin' Radweg, Erftstadt/Liblar (Germany)
« Reply #13 on: August 06, 2019, 08:12:14 pm »
Looking down the road perhaps 40 years or so I anticipate that solar roadways will produce, perhaps, 10% of the total energy needs but that's probably about it. 
I've done the calculations, and it just doesn't make sense, because of the far cheaper alternatives. For example to power all of Australia, you would need less than 2% area of Australia, if I didn't make a mistake in my calculations:
Now include the costs for the extension cord from Australia to Germany... Solar roadways don't make sense in areas which have lots of space to place solar farms on land. Even putting solar panels on roofs is just overcomplicating things. However in areas where space isn't available you'll need to use space double somehow.

Last year I already looked at the German company Solmove but I'm not impressed by their engineering abilities. It is basically a single person who has put a lot of his own money into a new company. I'm not surprised their product failed and so far I have not considered Solmove a serious player when it comes to solar roadways.

However the biggest challenge and cost for wind and solar by far is going to be storage.
« Last Edit: August 06, 2019, 08:23:06 pm by nctnico »
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Offline FrankBuss

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Re: Solar frickin' Radweg, Erftstadt/Liblar (Germany)
« Reply #14 on: August 06, 2019, 08:24:25 pm »
Right, there is not one solution that fits all countries. For Germany for example wind power is much better, because the sun doesn't shine often and isn't very strong. The wind power share of the total electricity generation was 18.7% in 2017:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind_power_in_Germany
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Offline Red Squirrel

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Re: Solar frickin' Radweg, Erftstadt/Liblar (Germany)
« Reply #15 on: August 06, 2019, 08:30:16 pm »
However the biggest challenge and cost for wind and solar by far is going to be storage.

Definitely.  If we can come up with a storage tech that has the same density as fuel (it does not necessarily need to even be a battery) I think it would change a lot.   Like say there are places where it may not be viable to put a solar farm you could in theory store the power and ship it somewhere else.  We essentially do this with oil product already.   But even for places that have solar farms, it would mean that the solar could provide power for all days of the year as excess could be stored.   In places like where I live where the days are short for most of the year, but we get 3 months of very long days, you could try to store a lot during those 3 months to make up for the rest of the year which would not produce as much.   The problem with most batteries is that they typically have a certain self discharge rate and also need to be charged to a certain point to be happy, so we'd need a tech that works more like a water tank where it does not matter what the level is at at any given time, and has little to no self discharge.

Perhaps a if there is a type of fuel that can be created using basic chemicals and have that fuel burn cleanly.  Hydrogen is one option but don't think it's viable, but perhaps something similar would be more viable.

Or just a better battery tech.   

To me all the effort that goes towards trying to reinvent solar, or even big oil projects etc, should go towards R&D for storage.   I guess there's two storage problems to solve, one is portable storage to make even big electric vehicles more viable, and the other is simply large scale stationary storage.  For that we already have hydro dams and water reservoirs, but perhaps there is something better. 
 

Offline FrankBuss

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Re: Solar frickin' Radweg, Erftstadt/Liblar (Germany)
« Reply #16 on: August 06, 2019, 08:56:04 pm »
Added some more info to my original post which I just found:
- February 18, 2019. It is producing energy, but still nothing fed into the public grid, because they forgot to submit some regulatory papers.
- the labeling on the sign is wrong
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Offline CatalinaWOW

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Re: Solar frickin' Radweg, Erftstadt/Liblar (Germany)
« Reply #17 on: August 06, 2019, 09:07:49 pm »
The various posts have adequately covered the solar energy fail part of this.  But you would think they could at least make it a decent bike path.  I wouldn't want to ride on those tiles on any kind of road tire (Narrow high pressure tires).  Not that they can't be ridden on, you can ride on cobblestones, but when putting so much effort into it why not have a traction surface that is relatively smooth.  Like concrete or asphalt.

Or maybe they realized that these wouldn't bear up under traffic and designed them so they would be avoided.
 

Offline raptor1956

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Re: Solar frickin' Radweg, Erftstadt/Liblar (Germany)
« Reply #18 on: August 06, 2019, 09:29:54 pm »
Looking down the road perhaps 40 years or so I anticipate that solar roadways will produce, perhaps, 10% of the total energy needs but that's probably about it. 
I've done the calculations, and it just doesn't make sense, because of the far cheaper alternatives. For example to power all of Australia, you would need less than 2% area of Australia, if I didn't make a mistake in my calculations:
Now include the costs for the extension cord from Australia to Germany... Solar roadways don't make sense in areas which have lots of space to place solar farms on land. Even putting solar panels on roofs is just overcomplicating things. However in areas where space isn't available you'll need to use space double somehow.

Last year I already looked at the German company Solmove but I'm not impressed by their engineering abilities. It is basically a single person who has put a lot of his own money into a new company. I'm not surprised their product failed and so far I have not considered Solmove a serious player when it comes to solar roadways.

However the biggest challenge and cost for wind and solar by far is going to be storage.


Solar panels on roofs is likely to be the primary means of generating power in 40 years and by that I mean perhaps as much as 50% -- I've mentioned this before, but with the cost of electricity from solar now down to about $0.02/KWHr and even with battery storage you're still looking at about $0.06/KWHr, people with electric vehicles which consume between 280WHr to 350WHr per mile the cost per mile is then as low as $0.006/mile (267km/USD) to about $0.02/mile (80km/USD).  Of course, if you buy your electricity from a utility you can multiply that by 2X - 4X so why not generate your own power.  A typical home with only half the roof covered with current tech solar cells would be able to generate ALL the power needed for the home plus a couple cars -- why is that a bad idea?


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Offline SiliconWizard

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Re: Solar frickin' Radweg, Erftstadt/Liblar (Germany)
« Reply #19 on: August 06, 2019, 09:59:55 pm »
But you would think they could at least make it a decent bike path.  I wouldn't want to ride on those tiles on any kind of road tire (Narrow high pressure tires).  Not that they can't be ridden on, you can ride on cobblestones, but when putting so much effort into it why not have a traction surface that is relatively smooth.  Like concrete or asphalt.

Spot on.

Or maybe they realized that these wouldn't bear up under traffic and designed them so they would be avoided.

 ;D

Given that most of these projects are complete failures beginning with the fact that the things fall apart after a few months, that is a funny yet valid point. I guess politics who will still fucking insist on having those infamous solar roadways will find themselves with no other choice than making sure nobody would ever want to drive on them. Added benefit is that the roadways would have more exposure to sunlight.  :-DD
 

Offline Bud

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Re: Solar frickin' Radweg, Erftstadt/Liblar (Germany)
« Reply #20 on: August 06, 2019, 10:06:01 pm »
ALL the power needed for the home plus a couple cars -- why is that a bad idea?
Because mighty utility companies do not want you to do that? Each solar home household is a $$$ loss to them.
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Offline SiliconWizard

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Re: Solar frickin' Radweg, Erftstadt/Liblar (Germany)
« Reply #21 on: August 06, 2019, 10:22:10 pm »
ALL the power needed for the home plus a couple cars -- why is that a bad idea?
Because mighty utility companies do not want you to do that? Each solar home household is a $$$ loss to them.

Not just that. It might work with individual houses, but would probably not scale up for appartment buildings, given that they pack a lot more homes for a given roof area. Maybe that could be compensated also sticking solar panels to the facades. Not sure. May not be enough, and would not look very good either...

In many countries/cities, individual houses are the exception rather than the norm.

 

Offline james_s

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Re: Solar frickin' Radweg, Erftstadt/Liblar (Germany)
« Reply #22 on: August 06, 2019, 10:40:18 pm »
ALL the power needed for the home plus a couple cars -- why is that a bad idea?
Because mighty utility companies do not want you to do that? Each solar home household is a $$$ loss to them.

That doesn't seem right. Here our private, for-profit utilities offer various incentives to reduce consumption as it saves them from having to add additional capacity.
 

Offline raptor1956

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Re: Solar frickin' Radweg, Erftstadt/Liblar (Germany)
« Reply #23 on: August 06, 2019, 10:50:19 pm »
ALL the power needed for the home plus a couple cars -- why is that a bad idea?
Because mighty utility companies do not want you to do that? Each solar home household is a $$$ loss to them.

Not just that. It might work with individual houses, but would probably not scale up for appartment buildings, given that they pack a lot more homes for a given roof area. Maybe that could be compensated also sticking solar panels to the facades. Not sure. May not be enough, and would not look very good either...

In many countries/cities, individual houses are the exception rather than the norm.

Apartments wouldn't generate quite 100% of the energy needs using current cells but it could well be pretty close, not counting cars and as the efficieny further improves the day when it could produce all the apartments needs is not far off.  OTH, you don't own the apartment so the people that do would charge you as the utility would -- so what!  Office buildings wouldn't generate all there needs either and energy dense needs like commercial aircraft are not going solar any day soon -- again, so what!

Looking down the road if residential solar is able to produce about half the energy needs I see a mix of other systems to address the other half.  In many places parking lots could be covered providing shade for the cars and all the energy needs of the office buildings they support.  To produce the energy dense fuel needed for commercial aircraft and heavy industry solar farms could produce the power used to produce a fuel like methane which if operated using the Sabatier reaction it would be net neutral environmentally as the CO2 etc produced when it's burned will have been first pulled from the atmosphere to produce the fuel.

And, getting back to the topic of this thread ... I think it very likely that 40 years down the road we will indeed be harvesting solar energy from some of our roads -- probably less than about 10%.

I should add that the petroleum industry isn't likely to disappear completely as the products go well beyond energy -- think plastics and fertilizer.  Additionally, although a fuel like methane could replace the various kerosene based fuel for aircraft it won't do that overnight as the aircraft would have to be designed to run on methane.  I think petroleum will still be in use 40 years from now but it could be less than 20% or even 10%.


Brian
 

Offline dunkemhigh

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Re: Solar frickin' Radweg, Erftstadt/Liblar (Germany)
« Reply #24 on: August 06, 2019, 10:54:56 pm »
Small point: on the Google maps view, the solar path is marked incorrectly. I think the house above the right end is the correct start point, but the line should then go right instead of left.
 


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