Wednesday, November 09, 2005

State of the home power generation

Measurement of success:
In 10 years I will be producing the equivalent of all the energy I use at home and for local driving. The cost will be less than the average cost for a comparable house and cars using traditional energy (i.e. electricity and natural gas from the utilities, and gasoline for fuel). How much less will be based on an estimate of the utility costs verses the cost of purchase, installation, and maintenance over the life of the various systems involved. At the moment I will not define a reduction goal other than it has to cost less than traditional utility costs.

Rules and assumptions:
Solar and wind power are the only two viable home energy production methods for the foreseeable future. Electrical power from natural gas, hydrogen production at home, geothermal, hydro, and nuclear are assumed to be unavailable or impractical for home use (however, I will keep an eye out on developments).

The automobiles will still depend on gasoline or diesel for long trips. Local trips are defined as less than 200 miles per day for each car with time to recharge/refuel at home each day.

In order to have a net positive energy production, not only will power need to be produced but the use of that power will have to be more efficient. In other words, we have to meet in the middle somewhere.

It is permissible to trade "credits" between technologies. For example, it is valid to heat water by natural gas and sell excess electricity if the net cost is to my advantage (i.e. if I make more money selling the electricity than I pay for the natural gas to heat the water). However, it is not permissible to heat the water by natural gas if it would be cheaper to install and maintain a solar heating system as an example.

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