Friday, April 9, 2010

Sam and Sudhir Two Green Gringos

My friend Sudhir who is true green (he invested in PV cells for his home) remarked last week that the Green Machine has not blogged in a positive manner for quite long. Sudhir how right you are! The Green Machine has been somewhat negative because a lot of green want to bees are seeing the opportunity to line their pockets by either simply ripping off the government or by going public with their overhyped stocks. Back in 1969 VC stood for Viet Cong. Now these VCs who claim to be super capitalists have found the dumbest investor of all to make money. Yeah the US and State Governments are being told that advanced batteries in advanced vehicles will create Green Jobs. This like the Tet offensive is a sneak attack on us.

But I will now turn my battery terminal to positive and tell you about a couple of technologies that are going to work and are going to be cash flow positive. LED lights have shone brightly for me for several years. In one of my first Thermo Thursdays (the predecessor email to this blog), I touted CREE as a company that was going to blaze a trail in LEDs. This company is one hot stock . I also opined that hybrid vehicles with a small nickel metal hydride battery and small engine would proliferate and become widely available in models from all of the major auto makers. This has transpired and even GM now offers hybrid cars, trucks and God forbid SUVs. I have touted diesel engines and while these have been slow in coming to the Ignited States we are now seeing some market penetration.

Sudhir also shared with me cost and operating data from his PV system on his roof at home. Sudhir installed his system in August of 2007 and did this when government rebates were still fairly low. He spent $30,000 net of tax benefits on his 4.2 kilowatt DC system. The system yields 3.8 kilowatt hour peak AC for a unit cost of $7,895 per kilowatt AC. So far in the 31 months since installation his system has dispatched 16,681 kilowatt hours to the grid. I calculated the total number of hours in the 31 months and calculated what on-stream factor his system has operated at during this time. This equates to 19.2% of all hours day and night. This is what one would expect for a PV system in Northern California.

My friend Sam was a little more patient in installing a PV system on his roof. By waiting till January 2010 to install his 2.1 kilowatt AC system he only spent $11,000 of his own money as the Feds and State now provide larger rebates and the price of the PV cells has dropped as well due to the glut of production capacity. Sam only spent $5,288 per kilowatt AC for his system. As his system has only operated for three months without long summer days his on-stream factor equals 15.1% of all the hours day and night. Of course this will increase to a similar fraction of the time when he operates his system through the spring, summer and the fall. Sam generated and dispatched 566 kilowatt hours in the past three months. I applaud and take my hat off to Sudhir and Sam for being green machines.

I will eat the same hat if Bloom can operate their fuel cell with an on-stream rate of 98% over a period of ten years with an efficiency of 57% LHV. I wonder if it was the British or the Americans who came up with the phrase “I will eat my hat”. Most probably the British as anything tastes better than Bangers and Mash. By the way TET stands for Tesla Equals Tucker.

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