Exactly … unless you’re providing a large fraction of your grid demand from wind (in Taiwan it’s like 0.5% or something) then the stop-start issue is irrelevant. It’s purely an economic argument. Unfortunately it all gets screwed when the government is subsidising this and offering tax breaks for that. Nobody knows where they stand anymore when there’s a tax rebate this year (but possibly not next year) for installing a wind turbine, a grant for coal-mining or oil-drilling (as in most of the world), and a completely unpredictable wholesale price for electricity because the government is interfering with the tariffs.
Energy policy is one area where governments really need to just butt out and let pure economics set the scene; sadly, its one of the things they just can’t help fiddling with, even though they’re clueless about the issues. The reason renewable power hasn’t already taken over the world is not that it isn’t cost-competitive (solar is already cheaper than both nuclear and gas) but because governments worldwide pour billions into life-support for the dirty technology.
[quote]Last year I spent more than 6 months off the grid. Loved every minute of it. I had an Android phone to keep up with e-mails, and I also tethered my laptop to it to watch movies and surf the net. I used a small wind generator and a few solar panels to keep it going. I also had a propane generator to power my larger power tools, but found I didn’t need it very much.
For cooking, I used a parabolic solar stove, a rocket stove fueled by pine cones, and a good old-fashioned pit BBQ.
Been back in the world now for 6 months, and I can’t wait to get back to the outback.[/quote]
Ah, but did you wash your hair?
Sounds a lot of fun, was this in Taiwan? How about the solar stove? I’m guessing it only worked on certain sunny days?
You hit the nail on the head, though - the trick is to use the correct energy source for the job in hand. For cooking and high-quality heat, biomass is the most obvious, sensible solution. Low- and medium-quality heat from solar radiation (water, space heating and cooling, some cooking). Electricity from PV. Generators when you’ve got no other choice. If the entire energy-supply industry could be rebuilt that way, we’d not only be more-or-less carbon-neutral, we’d be a lot more efficient, a lot happier, independent of oil suppliers, and with a lot more money left in our pockets after paying the bills.
It would be bloody expensive, certainly … but power loss isn’t an issue. 3-5% maybe.[/quote]
No, it was in the USA, but I am back in Taiwan now. I did wash my hair, using a solar camp shower, basically a bag that is clear on one side and black on the other, it holds 6 gallons of water, and you just hang it up facing the sun until the temp. indicator turns the right color. Yes, the stove only worked on sunny days, but in AZ, that is about 90% of the time. Oviously, I had to cook before dusk as well. The rocket stove is really cool. You can get plans for both using google.