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Reworking the equation (was: Solar sham) - Page 4

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Posted by Mauried on February 16, 2008, 10:50 pm
On Sat, 16 Feb 2008 01:36:32 -0800, Anthony Matonak

The word "free" gets used a lot in newsgroups like this in relation to
various forms of power generation.
Solar power is "free".
Well it is , in the sense that the input fuel is free, but all the
rest of the power station isnt free.

A coal fired power station thats owned by the Government also uses
free fuel, in that the coal is also free.
The Govt doesnt have to pay anyone for the coal, as its simply in the

Even a Nuclear Power Station uses almost free fuel.
Almost free , in the sense that the fuel cost for running a Nuke is
neglible compared to the cost of building it.

Even a power station built with solar cells that cost $ a watt
wouldnt be free, as you will still have to incurr the costs of buying
the land , installing all the solar panels , wiring then all up,
buying a large 3 phase invertor, building a small switch yard etc.

Posted by J. Clarke on February 16, 2008, 5:11 pm
Bill Ward wrote:

So what, you only run the smelter 4 hours a day?

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(was jclarke at eye bee em dot net)

Posted by daestrom on February 15, 2008, 12:00 am

Perhaps, but Al isn't the only material that can be used, it just happens to
be a (currently) inexpensive and lightweight material.  Of course, since Al
is one of the most heavily recycled metals, it's not really appropriate to
charge all original smelting energies to the PV system now is it?  If more
than 80% of an aluminum product is from recycled aluminum, the high value
electricity to smelt just 20% seems more appropriate.


Posted by Mauried on February 15, 2008, 2:46 am
 On Thu, 14 Feb 2008 19:00:29 -0500, "daestrom"

It is , because Solar panels are not like soft drink cans, where the
aluminium in the solar panel is recycled a very short time into the
panels life,as it is in a coke can.
Every new Solar Panel made will need new aluminium.
Using other metals like Magnesium is just as bad as the smelting
process is just as energy hungry.

The other factor is that  Aluminium Smelters dont pay a realistic
price for the electricity they use.
In Australia the Smelters get the electricity for 2 C per KWH which is
less than the exit price of the power from the Coal Fired Power
Its essentially free electricity.
If AL smelters actually had to pay realistic rates for the power they
use there simply wouldnt be an Aluminium industry.
The reason for this madness is that the Country wants the revenue from
the Alumium exports.

This will be one of the major dilemmas facing the world if moving to a
cleaner energy base increases the price of electricity.
No Country is going to accept a loss in export revenue, especially
countries with a massive inport / export deficit.
China and soon India will become or are already major exporters
and those exports are underpinned by very cheap electricity.
Pretty hard to convince those countries they have to switch to clean
and green , but more expensive electricity generation.

Posted by daestrom on February 15, 2008, 1:05 pm


The Al from some old infrastructure (say, an old airplane) is recycled into
something new.  Just as in the future some solar installation will be
recycled into something new.  The time between first use and recycle does
not completely disqualify solar for using recycled materials.

And just exactly what is wrong with a low-energy material?  Say, steel or
even wrought iron?  All you really need is a stiff substrate.

Sounds like an Australian oddity.  But considering that coal-fired power can
run in the 1.5 - 2 cents per kWh in the US, I don't see your point.

No, more like the high volume of sales in one locale means that many of the
T&D costs are avoided and the savings passed on to the consumer.

I guess you need to think about what 'realistic rates' are.  If you think
the price a homeowner pays is the price that a large industrial customer
pays, you need to learn some more about the electric industry and finance.

Funny, you make it sound like Australia's already doing just that.
Subsidizing Al smelting so it can export more Al.


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