SolarCity Installed Over 100 MW of Solar Power At More Than 30,000 Houses in Q2

AUG 14 2014 BY MARK KANE 75

SolarCity at Niskayuna, NY

SolarCity at Niskayuna, NY

SolarCity announced that in the second quarter of this year it increased its number of customers by more than 30,000 – from more than 110,000 to 141,034.

This is another record result, together with 107 MW deployed. Cumulative MW deployed by the end of June stands at 756 MW.

“In the second quarter of 2014, SolarCity continued to build out a stronger and broader platform to significantly expand the adoption of distributed, clean energy. We experienced unprecedented demand in the quarter with triple-digit year-over-year growth in all our key operating metrics. Our development efforts continued to gather momentum with 107 MW Deployed and 218 MW Booked in the quarter. We passed the 140,000-customer mark in June 2014—with more than 30,000 customers added in the second quarter alone—an increase of 218% over the year ago quarter.”

“Our expanding base of leased solar assets is expected to support a meaningful level of operating lease revenue for the next 20 years. We ended the second quarter of 2014 with cumulative MW Deployed of 756 MW and $3.3 billion of Estimated Nominal Contracted Payments Remaining. Our deployed solar power systems are now capable of producing over 1,000 GWh annually, and our aggregate portfolio produced more than 3.5 GWh per day several times before the end of the second quarter.”

The ultimate goal for SolarCity is to be the largest supplier of electricity in the United States. We believe that utilities will not be happy with that.

Interesting is that in Q2 SolarCity had almost an equal number of new customers as sales of plug-in cars (>32,500).

For now, SolarCity is on track to reach 1 GW deployed this year and 2 GW deployed next year.

SolarCity Megawatts deployed by June 30, 2014

SolarCity Megawatts deployed by June 30, 2014

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75 Comments on "SolarCity Installed Over 100 MW of Solar Power At More Than 30,000 Houses in Q2"

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Mark Hovis

I believe the total number of US residential solar installations in 2013 was around 130,000. These current numbers are encouraging for the increase of EVs for 85% who purchase both a solar array and an EV, purchase the solar array first.

Just read a report showing that Germany, who already powers over 30% of their power from renewables, has the most reliable grid with only 16 minutes of average outage per year. That is compared to the US 288 minutes. So much for the myth that renewables destabilize the grid.


“85% who purchase both a solar array and an EV, purchase the solar array first”

Where did you get this statistic? I certainly fall in this camp, but in my case, my solar panels were installed and turned on before an EV was even available for purchase in my area (late 2011, the Leaf/Volt arrived here in early 2012).

I can understand the causality of buying an EV causing one to consider buying PV. I don’t get the impression that it would work the other way – if what you’re saying is true, then those people probably already planned on getting the EV but chose to install solar first. Again, this is surprising to me since solar has a much longer lead time (planning, permitting, installing, inspection) than buying a car (walk into dealer, possibly drive off that day in a new car)

Mark C

Brian, I chose to install solar first because I couldn’t finance it unless I refinanced my home to pull equity out for the install. My wife and I saved for several years to be able to afford a solar array.

The EV will come, but it has to wait until our 2010 Prius is paid off. I can’t stand the thought of making two car payments at once. Did it once before, never again.


Trade in the Prius for something that plugs-in.


While your situation is different from mine, it still reinforces my point. You are already looking into / planning on buying an EV eventually. It has little to do with the PV you had installed.

On the other hand, I know personally of people who specifically installed PV because they had gone to an EV.

Mark Hovis

Same for me Brian. EVs were not available when I bought my array. So to your point, you have to wonder if the 85% statistic will stand. IMO, the 85% is of no matter. The better metric is that last year the US had 130,000 residential solar installations and 97,000 EVs. I feel one number will feed the other.


Agreed. I was just curious where the number came from. It was just surprising to me.

Bob A

We first got our PV system because we wanted to cut our bills and the other choice was replace the Air Conditioner. It made much more sense putting money into a PV system that saved us money year round than an A/C unit that save it only in summer (granted, summer lasts 7 months in the desert).

Only after that, and only when plug-in electric cars really were available did we make the plunge. And, as it has turned out, our net electric bill with the car (Volt) is the same as with just the PV.

Now we are on to replacing the Prius. Would love a BEV or PHEV, but after squeezing into a Prius for 8 1/2 years I need some room. Wish some of those cars coming out in 2016 would get here sooner.


You’ll get the E-Golf this year, and the Audi A3 PHEV in early 2015.

They are the same size as the regular cars, so you can see if they would do you in that respect right now.


What is the source for German grid reliability?

Mark Hovis
Wow, even before I have my coffee! lol Seriously, you gotta love that about this site requiring links. Brian, the 85% was actually in an article here. Let me have a cup of Joe and I will look it up.


Hmm. Found it. The data does show that a lot of renewables does not automatically cause your grid to collapse.

However it does not show that a lot of renewables are the cause of German reliability either:

‘Savia Research attributes the superior reliability metrics in Western Europe to underground cables, yet this does not explain why the UK and France lost roughly six times as many minutes as Germany in 2012.’

‘When I queried RWE about this, Ms Baumann replied that the introduction of green energy did place a high technical burden on the stability of the supply system, but “in 2012, we were able to continue to provide a largely uninterrupted supply of electricity.”’

OTOH Spain, with 6 times more down time than Germany, also has a lot of renewables:

‘Renewable energy provided 42.4% of the electricity demand in Spain this year, 10.5 percentage points higher than in 2012.’

So if you pay enough, in Germany’s case around $0.30kwh, then you can have a reliable grid, even with a lot of renewables, which make the job tougher, but throw enough money at the problem and German engineers will make it work.

So if the German infatuation with renewables has not made the German grid unreliable, what has given? ‘About 200,000 recipients of Hartz IV, Germany’s benefits program for the long-term unemployed, had their power cut off last year because of unpaid bills, according to Paritätische Gesamtverband, an umbrella association for social movements in Germany. The consumer protection organization for the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia estimates that number to be as high as 600,000 per year. Ulrike Mascher, president of VdK, an interest group focusing on social justice, uses terms such as “fuel poverty” and a “blatant violation of fundamental social rights,” when talking about the issue. Meanwhile, the next price hikes are just around the corner. “The cost of electricity will rise, there’s no question about that,” says Jochen Homann, head of Germany’s state-run Federal Network Agency. The federal Economy Ministry calculates internally that prices will increase by between three and five euro cents per kilowatt hour within the next 12 months, in order to finance renewable energy subsidies and grid expansion. Those increases amount to an additional annual burden of between €105 and €175 ($130 and $220) for a family of three.’ So German’s can have a nearly… Read more »
Mark Hovis
Grid stability has clearly had an impact on the cost of electricity in Germany no argument. Then again, Germany’s model is largely a grid tied model, which for now is the most practical. Though not certain, it is pretty likely that this model will change in the next decade as solar storage gains ground. Personally I see a government run utility structure similar to that of Canada when mass numbers of businesses and middle class begin to produce and manage their own energy. Solar is not for every geography, but it is silly to discount it for the majority of places that it is. A quick plug in of your address on PV Watts will tell you what you can expect in each month of the year. The best way to smooth your residential usage is to get a handle on your heating source. I have chosen to heat via a programmable pellet stove which is both renewable and not a drain on winter electricity. Solar is not for everyone, but for me in our current times, it is the most responsible solution to eliminate carbon based electricity, even if means eliminating my neighbors daytime carbon with the solar… Read more »
My comments on solar in Germany are not of course directly applicable to the US, which has far better solar resources everywhere than Germany. However even in the US on average you only get around 25% as much sunshine in the winter as in the summer. This is mitigated somewhat as in most areas peak summer demand is higher than peak winter demand, and of course some areas like the southwest do far better than the average. However the degree of overbuild needed to really, truly run a car on solar in winter in most places even in the US make it out of the question. Those who have entirely falsely been saying that they are running their cars on solar for years are doing so for a reason. That is because the true figures don’t stand scrutiny, and there is no technologies known or in contemplation that will allow them to run their cars and houses on their solar arrays at anything less than absurd costs. That does not mean that solar arrays should not be built in the US. My WAG was that around 250GW nominal could be built replacing the excess of summer peak over winter on… Read more »
Mark Hovis
“However even in the US on average you only get around 25% as much sunshine in the winter as in the summer.” That is nowhere close to factual. A quick look at a solar radiation map will show that comparing the worst month December to the best month June in upstate NY will yield 35%. Removing the high and low month in this region would then place you at 50%. Now applying that to the “average” US puts 25% miles away from reality. Again, plug into the PV WATTS calculator to take the guessing out for anyone interested in their own region. As for powering your EV on sunshine, you have to accept carbon offsetting. Most nations and people do. No, you are not putting solar electrons directly into your battery, but yes you are doing your part to correct a global problem. And even if you do not buy any of that, you are saving yourself money by playing the best hand you were dealt. I get the rub of the statement “I am 100% solar” I am guilty of that myself. But dismissing the viability of solar for the vast majority as a very practical supplement is… Read more »

DaveMart is a grumpy English person who seems to project his UK gloom on the rest of the world. But solar PV works even when it is cloudy. DaveMart tends to always skew the statistics in a manner that is overly pessimistic. And then provides hype for hydrogen fuel cells. Go Figure.


The figures I use include cloud cover.
It is hardly surprising that I am grumpy when I have substantial amounts loaded on my energy bills to pay for ludicrous notions like solar at 50 degrees north and outrageously expensive, often not available off shore wind.

Those amounts are many, many times more than that of hydrogen infrastructure you spend so much time whining about.


Hydrogen infrastructure is just part of their problems. In addition to the that infrastructure to transport, store, and dispense hydrogen, you need an entire hydrogen manufacturing system . . . which also requires massive amounts of energy generation.


Funny you use upstate NY as an example. We have about the same solar resources as Germany, and frankly among the worst in the continental US. That said, it still makes sense, and we are seeing more solar installed every year!

I will point out a major flaw in these numbers, and that is snow cover. My worst month on average is January and my best is May. January produces, on average, about 9% of what May does! Even half an inch of snow kills production far more than all but the darkest storm clouds.


Brian, your summer in New York are lot hotter and the use of air con much more prevalent than in Germany.
Even with your cold winters that gives you a much higher summer peak than winter.

That makes solar a very different proposition to the no-sense it is in Germany, although you still burn scads of fossil fuels as you won’t go truly low carbon and use mostly nuclear, which could take care of your winter needs too.


My figures were based on number series from this source:

Perhaps I was somewhat pessimistic, as Kansas city is as near to slap in the middle of the continental US as makes not matter, and that works out to 28% of the summer peak.

It is still one heck of an overbuild though.


I don’t ‘have’ to accept carbon offsetting at all.
It is a con, which simply build in fossil fuel use for decades to allegedly back up and in fact provide the vast majority of power when renewables just can’t do it.

All this whilst we could almost eliminate carbon emissions without any carbon offsetting nonsense by using a known technology, nuclear.



Using your figures and assuming that you would need a 100% overbuild to be mostly nuclear, what are you going to do with the excess power?

That electricity could be converted to hydrogen at an efficiency of around 70%, with the process heat perhaps used for hot water lifting total efficiency of hydrogen plus heat to over 80%.

That can readily be transported through natural gas pipelines and stored in vast quantities in salt caverns, and put back through the same natural gas network at very high efficiency with little losses.

That is exactly what the Germans are trying to do, since on a hot summers day they have however absurdly, a surplus of solar electricity.


“However the degree of overbuild needed to really, truly run a car on solar in winter in most places even in the US make it out of the question.”

Not true.



How do you embed images, kdawg?

Jay Cole

Spec9, you did it right.

Just drop the link in there and it will convert to picture (albeit a little slowly), just remember the site max width is 700 in the comments, so anything larger than that will remain a URL


Thanks, Jay, that will be a big help.


I’ve got no idea what that figure for electricity use in who knows what location in the US is supposed to prove.

George Bower

I think Germany has made a big mistake by cutting back with plans to eliminate Nuclear energy from their grid. AFAIK their CO2 footprint has increased at the same time that they have added all this solar PV , and as Dave points out the cost of their electricity has gone way up.

The whole anti Nuclear sentiment among the greens is illogical IMO. We can not live by solar alone.

Just my silly prediction but as we get closer to 2100 AD and the warming problem finally clubs homo sapiens over the head there will be a giant swing back to Nuclear. (but I have been saying that for years and the situation just gets worse so what do I know—nada)

….but alas I have given up trying to convince people that Nuclear is a good thing. Once someone has been brain washed into thinking Nuclear is bad there is no convincing them otherwise.

I am often wrongly characterised as a car fuel cell enthusiast. That is only by default, as clearly you should not alter energy from one state to another more than you have to as that entails energy losses. Nuclear is available pretty much when you need it, year round, and the energy losses when it is generated don’t much matter as the fuel is so cheap and you only get tiny amounts of CO2. In places where it is sunny it makes sense to top it up with solar to cover the summer peak, perhaps 250GW nominal in the US. If you aren’t going to build nuclear and want to burn as little fossil fuel as possible the only way that is remotely conceivable is by using hydrogen and fuel cells. Once you have large amounts of hydrogen in the energy economy you might as well use it in transport too. Those who think that they can have lots and lots of renewables, eliminate fossil fuels and nuclear and not bother with hydrogen and fuel cells can’t add up, and to cover that up usually come out with all sorts of gross misrepresentations such as: ‘I run my car on… Read more »

So onshore wind turbines don’t exist? Geothermal does not exist? Big dam hydropower does not exist? Biomass does not exist? Offshore wind does not exist. Run-of-the-river hydropower does not exist? Tidal does not exist?

If you think renewable=solar then you just don’t get it.


Yeah, there are a lot of daft ideas about, some even more spectacularly ludicrous than others.

All fine, if you want to pay for them.
They are hitting European bills hard, at an absurd cost per ton of carbon saved.

And people moan on about the supposed huge cost of a hydrogen infrastructure!

Do do some basic sums, then you will have some idea of where the real money sinks are.


Maybe when someone finally accomplishes an exothermic fusion reaction, people will jump on board w/nuclear again. Lots of groups working on this. My favorite is the giant laser approach.


DaveMart off on his usual solar bashing.

German electricity is expensive because they bought a lot of solar & wind starting some 20 years ago when it was very expensive so they have legacy payments. And also because they shift high-costs to residential customers in order to allow their industry to have lower costs.

Whinging about what Germany did 20 years ago has no relevance as to costs today. And the rest of the world owes a great deal of gratitude for creating the mass market that caused solar PV prices to plummet.


I happen to take carbon emissions seriously and don’t thank the German’s for obstructing the proven way we have of vastly reducing them by getting in the way of nuclear power.

Their ‘cunning plan’ results in their currently having carbon emissions 30% above the European average per person, and way higher than nuclear France.

I find the middle classes proclivity for loading the costs of their ridiculous solar arrays on the poorer parts of society so that they suffer to the point of being cut off repulsive, and their luddite misrepresentations of the supposed risks of nuclear a triumph of unreason.

The one sensible thing that they have done, realise that they need hydrogen to make a stupid energy system have even a dog’s chance of working, is rejected by people even more ideologically blind than they are.

So no, I am not thrilled by German efforts to introduce solar.


What the hell are Germans doing that their carbon emissions have gone UP? How is that possible?

Cut down on nuclear power, partly. They have also ruined their base load generating capacity by obligations to buy solar and wind before other sources. Solar in Germany very neatly peaks during the day in summer, just when demand is at its very lowest. So you can have more than the grid can handle at mid day, and still not cover even demand the same day at breakfast time and dinner time when load peaks even in the summer, let alone on long winter evenings. Stopping and starting up capacity to cover the absurdities is expensive in energy as well as economic terms. More importantly the huge cost of electricity in Germany and equally ‘green’ Denmark means that you have to be mad to use it for heating, for instance, so it is almost never used for resistance heating as it is in nuclear France or even in the UK, and gas imported from Russia is used instead. Meanwhile the anti nuclear brigade ensure mining of the horrifically polluting and carbon emission heavy brown coal deposits expands apace. That is also the reason why vanishingly few Germans are buying battery electric cars, and the German Government looks to hydrogen to… Read more »
I’ve calculated the lifetime cost per KWH of my solar PV system and it is a mere 6 cents per KWH. And that is WITHOUT any tax credit. So I am paying less than you pay for electricity with my solar PV system with no subsidy. Tell me how that is “ridiculous”? Now granted, I did self-install the system. If paid someone to install it, it would be around maybe 9 or 10 cents per KWH . . . still less than what you pay for electricity. And relatively to big onshore wind, solar PV is expensive. So if you combine the two, you can handle a massive amount of electricity with green renewable energy at very reasonable prices . . . but you need to look forward instead of looking backward. Germany did install a lot of PV when it was much more expensive and thus are stuck with those sunk costs that they have to pay off . . . but that is irrelevant to the situation going forward and people that install PV now. Some 10+ years ago, I installed a 2.5KW system and it cost $20K. This time I installed a 6.1KW system and it cost… Read more »

To be clear I have repeatedly said that the US can sensibly use at least 250GW nominal of solar power, many, many times more than it currently has.

What solar and other renewables can’t do without storage almost certainly in the form of hydrogen and its products is move away from fossil fuel use.

For a really high proportion of renewables you need storage in truly massive quantities or you have to continue to burn fossil fuels in equally massive quantities to cover when it is not available.

If we built lots of nuclear the problem goes away.

In my view renewables with hydrogen in the US may just about be a possible way of vastly reducing fossil fuel use.

In northern Europe I don’t think even that is possible at less than ruinous cost.

Renewables without storage are simply a diversion from actually solving energy issues.


You don’t seem to fully grasp the point of having a grid. If you connect together thousands of individual solar, wind, hydro, geothermal, tidal, wave, biomass, and other generating stations together on a grid then much of the variability and need for storage goes away. Geographic and source diversity eliminates much of those issues.

And then on top of that you can add a little bit of storage to deal with peaks, demand-response, efficiency, etc.

The grid works. What do you think happens when a nuclear reactor goes down for refueling or a thermal plant has a break down and has to go off-line suddenly? That is no different than the day/night cycle for solar . . . it is just on a different time scale.

As pointed out above, Germany has a far more reliable grid than the UK or USA . . . and they have far more renewables.


I’m pretty well informed about how a grid works, thanks.

Perhaps you ought to ask yourself why the German grid has ended up burning huge quantities of fossil fuels when it has spent such vast sums on renewables.

Or why the only way they can see out of that it to use equally vast quantities of hydrogen, even though of course turning energy from one form to another is lossy.

Now the US is not Germany of course, and has vastly better renewables resources.

That does not mean that it can magically keep the grid running with lots of renewables without using vast amounts of fossil fuels a Germany does in keeping its grid running with such high reliability and at such vast cost.

Can you see your fellow Americans wanting to pay 30 cents a kilowatt hour for electricity, however reliable?


Of the 288 minutes 280 belong to Maryland and Virginia.


It seems that way, doesn’t it?


Yeah, I doubt the 85% figure. I’ve heard 30% in California before. And someone at the Plug-In 2014 conference said 40% in California. But no way on 85%.


Maybe we should recommend someone from Solar City to run NRG and collect the $100k 🙂

“NRG Offers $100,000 for Referral of New Executive to Run Its Retail Business”


There are 492 coal-fired power plants in the U.S., with an average size of 667 megawatts.

“This is another record result, together with 107 MW deployed. Cumulative MW deployed by the end of June stands at 756 MW.”

So that’s one coal fired power plant removed from the equation. 1/492nd of the way there. That’s a good start.


The Solar City figures are nominal output, ie peak watts, not actual where you have to take out for night-time, low power mornings and evenings when the sun is low, etc.

So divide by 4 or 5 for actual average output.

Micke Larsson

Germany has well proven that added renewables isn’t the same as reduced fossil fuel or closed coal/oil/gas-plants.

Some people seem to not have understood the real goal here. It is to reduce and finally eliminate fossil fuels. The goal is not to add renewables (even though it’s often hard to reach that goal without doing that).


If it’s such a drop in the bucket why are utilities so horrified, and spending millions of dollars to combat solar power?
Plus hardly any new coal fired plants are being built, while a number have been converted to natural gas, and in the mean time, a number that have reached the end of their service lives are being decommissioned. This is a process, converting to renewable fuels to power our society, which will takes decades, along with our transition to electric vehicles.


They need plenty of gas plants, to make up for the intermittency of renewables, they just get used less which puts up costs.

Coal is having to bear some fraction of its true costs in emissions etc, which of course hits it hard,

George Bower


So what is the solution? Germany’s approach of shutting off Nuclear and going renewables has led to an increase in CO2 emissions AND higher electricity.

In your own UK, you guys are putting in a new huge Nuclear plant that is also very expensive and (I think) the rate payers will pay for it with higher utility bills.

In the US, nuclear is all but dead mainly due to the high cost of installing new plants now a days.

I can only conclude that in the US we are going with more gas backed renewables. So in essence we enter an age of Hybrid electric plants…..not a bad way to go since combined cycle gas plants are cost effective and have a very low CO2 footprint.

The only problem is that your still stuck with burning fossil fuels albeit a much lower amount.

Costs for nuclear in the West are hugely inflated for a number of reasons. The same companies can build nuclear plants outside of Europe and the US for a half the cost. Some of that is because we have allowed costs for any major capital project to soar. Look at the costs for the high speed rail in the US and UK, and compare it to China’s rapid rollout of ten thousand kilometres or so of track. If we want to stay as rich nations then we have to take a serious ax to those costs, which are often down to regulation as much as anything. For nuclear costs we have,largely due to the baleful collusion of fossil fuel interests and greens, allowed those costs to escalate to an absurd degree. There is little or no scientific evidence for Linear No Threshold, which means that any dose of radiation however tiny is supposed to repesent some increased risk of cancers and dying. So umpteen billions are spent reducing levels to way below those which are naturally common in many areas of the world without any discernable ill effects. This is not science, but voodoo. At a more basic level, we… Read more »
George Bower

You’re preaching to the choir on Nuclear. I agree with what you say.

Still though. What is the solution? It depends on the country of course. Pick one and speculate.

Lindsay Patten

You may have already seen it but deep decarbonization plans for 15 countries are on the deepdecarbonization dot org web site.

I was disappointed with the plan for Canada which relied on replacing transport fuels with biofuels and a lot of carbon capture and storage. I’ve only looked at Canada and Australia so far.


Here is the data for the UK courtesy the UK Government.

It enables you to plug in the resources you fancy from biofuels to wind to nuclear, and different levels of reducing energy use and various rates of economic growth and see how you do both on cost and carbon emissions.

I’ve set it up with mine, which relies almost exclusively on nuclear, but you can plug in what you fancy:

The US being a lot sunnier would certainly have a lot more solar, which is simply an incredibly daft idea in the UK, but makes sense for summer peak in the US

“If we want to stay as rich nations then we have to take a serious ax to those costs, which are often down to regulation as much as anything.” This is simply not true. I wish it were true so we could easily reduce costs. But it is not regulations that magically increase costs. In fact it is quite the opposite. The USA government massively subsidizes nuclear power in at least 3 different ways: the provide low-interest government backed loans, there is the Price-Anderson act to reduce liability, and there is a promise that the government will create a disposal site for nuclear waste. But despite all those subsidies, nuclear power is a tough sell. It is the design, construction, operation, and maintenance costs that make them so expensive. All that concrete. The massive amount of time to build a plant. All the expensive engineers to design the plant. All the expensive technicians to run the plant. Etc. Yes, it is much cheaper to do nuclear in China or India . . . but for the same reasons that is cheaper to have manufacturing plants there . . . the land is cheaper, the materials are cheaper, the labor is… Read more »

It takes 52 months to build a nuclear plant in China or South Korea from the first spade in the ground to power on.

That is largely due to lack of regulative delays.

It takes 10 years in the West.
With billions in build capital that accounts for most of the extra cost, not the cost of labour.


Yes, they can build apartment buildings in a few weeks too. But we can’t build apartment buildings that fast here either. You are failing to point out specific reason why nuclear is any different than any other major industrial/construction project.

You just have a blind faith ideological view that you are not able to support with hard data. Just hand-waving and saying “Damn regulations!” doesn’t make them the problem or provide a way to solve anything.


“Yes, they can build apartment buildings in a few weeks too.”

What could possibly go wrong?


Blind faith not supported by hard data?
So you haven’t actually go around to reading my posts and supporting links?
For instance on the disconnections of hundreds of thousands of Germans to pay for their insane schemes?
That is data, even if it is data you don’t fancy so you try to dismiss it.

The one doing the arm waving is yourself, as you have produced zero evidence that solar and renewables unsupported by massive amounts of hydrogen storage can actually do the job of more or less getting rid of fossil fuels, just genuflected to the notion of the grid, with its magical powers of enabling several stupid ideas to be put together and supposedly come out with a sensible answer.

On a brighter note the efficiency of gas burn in the US averages 42% as they mostly use the less efficient single cycle turbines for cost reasons as gas is largely used for topping purposes rather than base load. On top of that the US grid loses 6% of power before it hits the wall socket, and coal and nuclear have lower efficiency than gas, although it does not matter so much for nuclear due to its very low carbon impact. One way of mitigating that would be to do as the likes of Panasonic are doing in Japan, and to install fuel cells in the home which reform natural gas to provide electricity and use the process heat to provide hot water. Taking electricity and heat you can comfortably get over 80% total efficiency instead of 36% or so by burning it centrally after T & D losses. Since the fuel cells don’t care if it is winter or summer they combine well with solar arrays, so the efficiency of BEV cars would be maximised by the use of fuel cells in the home. We aren’t there yet, as a lot of development work has to be done particularly… Read more »

That’s a viable path toward reducing CO2, but you don’t need a fuel cell to get there. In a few years, NRG will start selling Dean Kamen’s Stirling-based Beacon home co-generation system.


Yeah, you can use a Sterling cycle.
Most of the home power units now are using fuel cells, and the costs are dropping far faster.

You can build a radio using valves instead of transistors, but that doesn’t mean it is a good idea.

Its fuel cells which are being developed for the purpose by all the European and Japanese companies.

George Bower


Not a bad way to go in the long run.

However, gas backed renewables are probably lower cost and provide the best bang for the buck at keeping carbon out of the atmosphere.

Yes an opencycle GT is only around 43% or so….but combined cycle pushes that number closer to 60%. Then you can add the solar cells for the hybrid zero CO2 part of the system.

In short, for the US I would speculate that we will be going to combined cycle, gas backed renewables. It is the most cost effective way of getting the job done.

Lindsay Patten

Some would argue that it is the most cost effective way of getting the job half done. And then you have to get rid of all the gas plants you just commissioned, unless you pull off CCS.


Given the size of the US, the population growth, and the distribution of the population, there are plenty of roofs to slap on solar and not worry about a base load.

It’s not cloudy everywhere at the same time…also, if it’s calm in one place, then it’s windy in another place…what we need is some buffering and an intelligent grid system than can manage the flow in real-time and integrate it with nuclear generation.

There are countless square miles of flat roofs over all the shopping malls and plazas, storage facilities, shipping/trucking terminals, all the freaking Walmarts and other “big box” stores…not to mention 10s of millions of homes in sprawling suburbs and exurbs…we really don’t need peak plants if we were smart with solar.

AC is the biggest drag, and that’s the worst on clear, sunny summer days, which is also when solar panels are at their peak. To a certain extent, solar PV regulates itself.

F— hydrocarbon fuels and any energy system that derives from them. Pollution must be minimized, and a hydrocarbon economy does not do that.


Never mind the staggering number of massive parking lots…


DaveMart won’t have to worry, though…this will never happen, anyway – too much money from Big Oil – the US is going to choke on natural gas next, since we’re finally starting to kick the coal habit…

George Bower

Someone that doesn’t hate nuclear power?
How can this be?
What about Fukushima?
Think about all those people displaced by that Nuclear EXPLOSION.
What about all that nasty waste?
Oh…and the bomb.
What about the bomb?

I know you were being facetious, but I’ll answer anyway: Some places shouldn’t have volatile sources of energy because of the geographic issues, like Japan…building a nuclear reactor on a fault line is kinda dumb…and since most of Japan sits on the very active juncture of 3 large plates, they are pretty much screwed. I admire their tenacity and technological achievements in building design, etc., but that elusive notion of “common sense” needs to show up at some point. Nuclear is deadly, so locating it out of harm’s way is the smart thing to do. Everything has problems – fusion is awesome, but you need hydrogen (not a lot, fortunately), and it hasn’t worked yet, anyway. Losing containment would mean, if not a big boom, at least substantial amounts of ionizing radiation, but that’s the risk we will have to take for clean energy. Even in Star Trek, an example of a peaceful, clean and efficient future, they risk blowouts of plasma conduits, losing anti-matter containment (the sister of the Enterprise D went up in a ball of light due to that very thing), etc. Those starships are floating bombs of staggering proportions. EVs alone won’t solve the carbon problems… Read more »

“Nuclear is not renewable – it is finite just like any other mined material”

Or the sun, for that matter. In another couple billion years, it will burn down to levels unable to support life on this planet.

Nuclear fuel, by contrast, may have “only” a couple hundred million years until we run out of fuel. But still, don’t you think that’s enough time to get off fossil fuels?


Uranium can be got from the sea, likely at good cost but certainly under $500kg.
It comes from rocks eroded from the continents to the ocean, so as long as we continue to have continental drift we should continue to have uranium supplies.
Good to go for the next few hundred million years, if that is not being too short sighted.

No one bothers at the moment, as it is much cheaper from land based resources, so cheap in fact that no one bothers building the much more fuel economic reactors which incidentally would also solve the nuclear ‘waste’ ‘problem’ by the simple expedient of burning the other 96% of so of the energy in the uranium which is what powers its continued radioactivity.
Our present ‘waste’ contains enough energy according to a talk by Transatomic Energy to power the whole world for 72 years even allowing for economic growth.

With fuel costs for present reactors of the order of 1 cent/kwh no one bothers,unfortunately


Just Fascinating, if I’m willing and able to follow all the links..

DaveMart, blu-sky for a moment – what do you think about the possibility of a nuke farm in a Relatively safe location, serving grid/local via a Huge Home-run central conduit of poured recycled metal – huge so losses become less of an issue against savings from using non-specific metals for a hundred mile (or more) backbone. Tap and pay for local utilities (like we presently do for treated water), test on one major city.

Can a gigantic underground conduit do this or am I just clueless?