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app JWBS027-Lieberman April 24, 2010 21:12 Printer Name: Yet to Come

Appendix

Solar Power Potential

I gathered the following data from one of my students (an operator at the Total-Elf
refinery in Holland):

r Unit size: twenty 11-ft2 solar panels


r Rated capacity: 3000 W
r Location: Holland
r Cost (as installed by contractor, including battery storage, inverter, and insur-
ance): 20,000 euros ($28,000)
r Installed: May 2007
r Total metered electricity generated after one year of operation: 3540 kWh
r Average hourly power generation: 405 W

Note that the actual generation rate is only 13 12 % of the rated capacity, due to
darkness, clouds, the angle of the sun, and the panels being less than 100% clean.
Lets assume that this is a project with a 10-year capital recapture. This means that
the cost of the power will be about $1.30 per kilowatt. The maintenance costs are
covered by the insurance policy, which was included in the installation.
In comparison, I am paying 10 cents/kW in New Orleans for power generated
from natural gas and nuclear energy. Of course, this comparison excludes the effects

Process Engineering for a Small Planet: How to Reuse, Re-Purpose, and Retrofit Existing
Process Equipment, By Norman P. Lieberman
Copyright 
C 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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app JWBS027-Lieberman April 24, 2010 21:12 Printer Name: Yet to Come

258 SOLAR POWER POTENTIAL

of government subsidies, which is why my friend from Holland installed his solar
panels. Also, the figure of 10 cents reflects natural gas costs of $6.00 per million Btu.
I have purchased and installed several solar panels myself as an experiment.

r Rated capacity: 120 W (total)


r Location: New Orleans, Louisiana
r Cost: $1000 for panels, inverter, and battery storage
r Unit size: eight 1 ft 3 ft panels

On a bright day, if I move the panels to face directly into the sun, they do generate
120 W of power at 12 V. However, by the time I convert this from the 12 12 V storage
battery to 115 V and dont bother to reposition my panels for the suns movement
in the sky, I have found over a two-week period in September that I only generated
about 20 W of usable power on average.
So, renewable energy is practical, but without taking into account environmental
effects, it seems very expensive to me. But its this environmental effect thats prob-
ably what I should include in my economic analysis of solar power. You all know:
like the cost of scrubbing the CO2 out of the flue gas from the gas-fired power station
down by the west bank of the Mississippi River in St. Charles Parish.