2020 Solar PV Performance

Agent

Member
Oct 5, 2011
177
Waupaca, Wi
I'm a bit late to the party, but who doesn't like more data. 7.9KW system at 44 degrees Latitude in WI: Ground mounted at 45 degree angle facing due south, and routinely brushing snow off as well.

It's too bad that our net metering is only on a monthly basis, so no banking summer credits for me.

And this year I even had an inverter kick the bucket in November, and was down for almost three weeks.
 

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Rusty18

Member
Nov 3, 2018
24
Belpre oh
No solar system here...yet. I’m planning on putting about 1kw worth of panels on the roof and running to a few batteries then pulling off of that to run a window ac unit in the summer and (partially) run a small electric space heater in the winter. (no tie in) (added bonus will be power for the stove without having to run the generator)

I’d like to have about 12kw on the barn roof (perfect orientation and slope) and do a grid tied system but the quote for all of that was about$28k. I can’t bring myself to go back to living on credit even though the figures clearly show it will pay for itself in less than 10 years.
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
501
Eastern Long Island NY
I'd consider a bit larger PV system and a minisplit... Way more efficient for the same output(s)
 

ABMax24

Minister of Fire
Can you explain how you are compensated when your Net goes negative?
Are you simply compensated for the Net negative at the Wholesale rate of power?
Apparently I missed this.

Yes I am repaid at whatever my retail rate for electricity is. I pay 2 portions of electricity, the retail energy charge, and transmission/distribution fees. Our system is called net billing, not net metering like many places have. I receive credit for the energy I sell, but not the transmission/distribution fees.

My bill is consolidated on a monthly basis, so every month I have a surplus I get paid for. The reality is I always have a bill, even on the best months my bill is about $10 due to fees. If I had a larger system and actually had a credit at the end of the month it would be carried forward to the next month, if at the end of the year I still had a credit I would be issued a cheque.

Here in Alberta our micro-generation legislation states the utility must allow a system size that covers up to 100% of annual consumption. To go larger than 100% would solely be up to the discretion of the utility, mine is 115% and they were fine with it, but they might take issue with a system 150% or larger. So annual credits really aren't a thing here.
 
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stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
501
Eastern Long Island NY
Here (Long island NY) it used to be that there was a reconciliation date once a year. I.e. if at that date the meter was negative with respect to the reading a year ago, one would get paid the power generation cost of the kWhs.
When I had my panels installed (2018), the reconciliation date had been cancelled. Meaning my meter continues to go backwards year after year for 15 or 20 years as I overdimensioned my array in expectation of an AC system - which turned out to be far more efficient than I had expected).

So maybe I need to get myself a phev (or use my minisplit more in winter - but I like using the BK so much...)
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
5,993
Northern NH
Wow, the Alberta deal does not sound that attractive to encourage solar unless I am missing something. Power looks cheap so I would wonder why anyone would spend the money beyond altruism or a grid backup with a hybrid system?. With a credit for generation only not T&D and no way of banking credit ahead what am I missing?

At near 45 degrees latitude I have significant seasonality for my production and my usage. I need to have access to the grid as a "battery" so I can build up credit in the summer to make up for abysmal production and much high usage in winter. I probably still would have solar but a lot less of it. I am also lucky that I don't have a reconciliation date so I can carry a credit forward.

Most states used Net Metering as a "carrot" to get solar installed. In my state, NH, they needed a big carrot so we got a very generous net metering rule. The trade off is we had near zero solar installations due to the high cost of equipment. My first small system was learning system for me and even though I did my own install, its payback at best is decades. I have some other friends who put in a much larger system and they just regarded it as big down payment on future power bills. This was before the US government passed the 30% (now lower) tax credit for solar. That got the production of equipment up which dropped the price substantially. When I first looked at solar, panels were $10 a watt, I got a "great" deal at $6 a watt. When the federal tax credit was passed panels dropped to $2 a watt and with Chinese dumping of the panels, bulk panels are in the $0.50 range with deals getting as low as $0.30. The reality is that subsidies are no longer needed in most areas as solar is getting down to a four year payback but getting people weaned off tax credits is not easy. My state had a cap on net metering of 1% of the installed generation, that was bumped up to 2% and there is pressure to do it again but the general thought in the legislature is to sunset some of the net metering benefits.
 

ABMax24

Minister of Fire
Wow, the Alberta deal does not sound that attractive to encourage solar unless I am missing something. Power looks cheap so I would wonder why anyone would spend the money beyond altruism or a grid backup with a hybrid system?. With a credit for generation only not T&D and no way of banking credit ahead what am I missing?

At near 45 degrees latitude I have significant seasonality for my production and my usage. I need to have access to the grid as a "battery" so I can build up credit in the summer to make up for abysmal production and much high usage in winter. I probably still would have solar but a lot less of it. I am also lucky that I don't have a reconciliation date so I can carry a credit forward.

Most states used Net Metering as a "carrot" to get solar installed. In my state, NH, they needed a big carrot so we got a very generous net metering rule. The trade off is we had near zero solar installations due to the high cost of equipment. My first small system was learning system for me and even though I did my own install, its payback at best is decades. I have some other friends who put in a much larger system and they just regarded it as big down payment on future power bills. This was before the US government passed the 30% (now lower) tax credit for solar. That got the production of equipment up which dropped the price substantially. When I first looked at solar, panels were $10 a watt, I got a "great" deal at $6 a watt. When the federal tax credit was passed panels dropped to $2 a watt and with Chinese dumping of the panels, bulk panels are in the $0.50 range with deals getting as low as $0.30. The reality is that subsidies are no longer needed in most areas as solar is getting down to a four year payback but getting people weaned off tax credits is not easy. My state had a cap on net metering of 1% of the installed generation, that was bumped up to 2% and there is pressure to do it again but the general thought in the legislature is to sunset some of the net metering benefits.
No it's not that great compared to other areas. When I installed my panels there was a rebate of $0.90/watt from the provincial government to help offset installation costs, this rebate has now ended. As far as electricity prices go, there are no feed-in-tariffs or otherwise to boost the price for renewable energy, now if any large consumer want to sign a PPA with a renewable generator for a higher price they can. I had originally calculated my simply pay back period to be 18 years prior to knowing how much we would self consume. I now calculate that to be closer to 12 years, using our 35% self consumption rate and updated power prices. There is no doubt I would have been better off to invest the money from the system and make higher returns, but the general consensus here is solar doesn't work and is a waste of time and money. I could get the math to pencil out, so went ahead and bought the system, as much in an effort to prove that thought wrong, overall I'm happy with the system and is a hedge against the inevitable rise in power prices.

As far as small electrical consumers are concerned we have a couple options; our electricity connection is provided by the wire service provider (WSP), but the actual electricity is provided by another retailer, this retailer can be the same as the WSP on a regulated or variable rate or we can choose another retailer. I have chosen a retailer that also has the option for consumers to pay an added fee to purchase renewable electricity. As a generator I have the option of 2 rates, currently 22 cents/kwh and 6.5 cents/kwh, and they allow us to switch twice per year. I switch to the high right at the spring equinox, and switch back to the low rate at the fall equinox. Allowing me to get paid more when I have an energy credit, and pay less during the winter.

With Alberta's system there is incentive placed on self-consumption of the energy generated, to avoid paying the transmission fees, and we deliberately time things like the dishwasher and washing machine to run during peak daylight hours. Although at the current time there isn't enough cost incentive to justify a house battery.

We sit at 55.2 degrees latitude. Seasonal variation is a considerable concern up here, I have generated 7.39 kwh so far this month due to snow on the panels, an amount that would equate to a very dark rainy day in June. Without seasonal energy storage solar PV will only have limited success up here on a large scale.

I spent some time up in Whitehorse, Yukon working on their LNG fueled powerplant. Whitehorse's electricity primarily comes from a hydro-electric dam, supplemented by LNG and diesel generators in the winter, when river flows drop and demand increases. It's a very intriguing site with the dam and generators housed on one site. I was also amazed at the amount of solar PV installed within the city, which turns out was installed due to large rebates from the utility and the government. Solar PV was definitely a sore spot with the utility workers, they even brought me over to the dam to show the surplus water being spilled around the dam, at the same time purchasing power from solar PV at inflated prices. There was belief within the utility that if that rebate money had been used to upgrade the reciprocating engine powered generators, the net CO2 reduction benefit and $/kwh reduction would have been much greater, as the extra energy for solar PV is not needed in the summer.
 
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CaptSpiff

Minister of Fire
Jan 13, 2014
538
Long Island, NY
Here (Long island NY) it used to be that there was a reconciliation date once a year. I.e. if at that date the meter was negative with respect to the reading a year ago, one would get paid the power generation cost of the kWhs.
When I had my panels installed (2018), the reconciliation date had been cancelled. Meaning my meter continues to go backwards year after year for 15 or 20 years as I overdimensioned my array in expectation of an AC system - which turned out to be far more efficient than I had expected).

So maybe I need to get myself a phev (or use my minisplit more in winter - but I like using the BK so much...)
Yup,... you can be an early adopter, or you can wait a few more years when the selection of new Electric Vehicles is greater and the price has come way down.
I think waiting for you is the winning strategy, just like waiting on roof top PV got you an array at a fraction of the cost the early PV adopters paid.

The termination of the reconciliation date is another "win for waiting".
The old rules with Net metering meant the value of your avoided costs were about 21 cents for every kwh your PV system sent back into the grid. On Long Island we pay about:
9 cents/kwh for the energy or power product (made by generators not owned by the Utility)
10 cents/kwh for cost of transmission & distribution (poles, wires, transformers and the Utility workers)
2 cents/kwh for taxes and energy incentive programs (mostly collected and managed by the govt)
After one year, as you describe, the Utility would true up the reading and determine if you have any overproduction (banked credits) remaining. Any kwh remaining would be paid out to you at the 9 cents (it might even be less), and you just lost 11 cents of value. The logic for the Utility is that they buy power from generators for their customers as a pass-thru (ie almost no markup), and your energy was energy they didn't have to buy, so they are paying you and settling up.

Now, under the "no reconciliation date" process, you get to keep all your credits for the full contract (15-20 years) at full value. Just remember to use em,.... eventually.
 
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peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
5,993
Northern NH
In NH, the credit stays with the meter so if someone sells the house with the credit the new homeowner gets it.