Quoted from DCFAN:
Commercial buildings having flat roof construction would seem to be a good place to put more solar panels, but who eats the costs is the age old question?
Quoted from Brijam:
On large buildings it’s easier to amortize the costs because it is a business. The payoff on these systems is just a few years now. It’s remarkable. Others here will be more knowledgeable about that than I, I don’t have a solar system yet.
I missed this one, but there is a fascinating answer... I apologize if this got covered elsewhere, as I need to sleep so I haven't ready about 9 pages as I write this... anyway...
Companies with flat top stores are going all in on solar, and fast. What is fascinating about it is the reason those companies are doing it isn't because it's "green" in the environmental sense, but "green" in the money sense. Target, who owns 200 MW of generating capacity, doesn't really ever say that they do because for them, it's all about the savings from it!
I have a solar array on our house from 1886, and I think it looks fine. Wish we would cut down a tree that limits it's output, but haven't convinced the wife of that yet. The solar array at current payback rates will have paid itself off in 15 years, and will generate for the rest of my life. And that's if the stupid tree keeps living there. Without it, payoff time would have been half that or less.
Since our house is a duplex, we looked into what we could do to expense it and since I also own a business with a friend, we looked into it. We don't have a way to do it as those at the moment, but the company that I got to install told me that they only did residential houses that called them directly (which I had done) because they have so much commercial business now that they are pretty much booked solid. Due to accounting and discounts and whatnot, commercial solar has a return on investment of somewhere between 3-4 years. In freaking Wisconsin where I haven't seen the sun in what feels like a month.
Solar will continue to grow in the market and I expect to see it absolutely dominate the grid in the future. Storage will be solved by a combination of EV battery capacity with grid connections, rampable hydropower and battery backups.
As for how the grid will deal with both this and the increase of electric cars, two things are going on behind the scenes... my father in law is an electrician, and when we were setting up the power for our Leaf I asked him if we needed to expand power for the house. He said no - because of the massive increases in energy efficiency, most houses have FAR more power running to them than they use. Our house, which uses mainly electric baseboard heat and charges two electric cars (although the 3 is just on the slow charger) has had no issues without increasing capacity. He said LED bulbs was the biggest thing, and pointed out that charging the Leaf at 6.6kw can be absorbed just by replacing 75 or so 100 watt bulbs with their LED equivalents. If we hit 100% market penetration of EVs, it won't be absorbed quite as easily, but the grid was built for much more power than it is running now.
The second is that power companies are chomping at the bit to have an excuse to build this infrastructure. It turns out that paying the electric company to charge a car means that you are paying the electric company, and that's how they make money, so they want that money. They are going to have to upgrade infrastructure at some point or another anyway, as a lot of it was built a long time ago and doesn't make as much sense today, and when they do they will upgrade it to infrastructure that supports solar and wind anyway since that is already the cheapest generation you can get.
A lot of this is confusing because of the whole "sun don't always shine" thing that people who don't understand how the change is happening just think that their lights will turn off when the sun goes down, but that is all being solved. Recently, an Indiana power company did a study and found that the cheapest option for them is retiring all coal and going almost entirely with solar plus storage, plus a bit of wind (10% of solar / storage capacity), plus some demand triggers with a tiny bit of outside stuff. In fact, while they plan to phase out coal by 2028 entirely, the plan that would have cost the least would be phasing it out entirely by 2023, but they are a bit concerned with how the grid will hold up with a phase out that quickly.
People that just look at the topline think that it's uneconomical and that it can't change. It's surprising how quickly it is changing, and how little of the change has anything to do with regulations.
What else is interesting to think about, and to bring this back to Tesla, is that coal is still used significantly in power generation, but it's power has faded and faded fast. It happened when peak demand for coal was hit. With the electrification of transport starting to kick in, along with mileage improvements, we are far closer to peak oil demand than most people realize. Demand in the developed world has already peaked, and demand in the developing world is coming to an end quicker than anticipated. Two reports from last month highlight that, and here is a good article talking about it from just a few days ago:
When peak coal demand was hit, the value of coal deposits plummeted, and tons of companies declared bankruptcy... all for a resource that is still in extensive use today, and one which is tougher to get off of because changing from a coal power plant to solar plus storage has basically just become possible in the past two years, and the timelines on other things take a long time to set up. When peak oil demand hits, and suddenly everyone is talking about how the future of oil is bleak, who is going to want to keep throwing money into buying new gas cars at that time? It's going to hit the market hard, and suddenly oil companies which have so much power today because they are so highly valued (it's something crazy like $25 trillion dollars of petroleum assets in the world) will suddenly be seen as the past like coal is, and their power will rapidly decline.
I'm happy to be out of the gas game, excepting one snow blower...