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Old 01-31-2019, 02:51 PM   #1
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Default Off Grid in severe cold conditions

Dear Neighbors to the North:

I'll keep the politics out of this as it genuinely is an electrical inquiry, and nobody is better qualified to answer than our good neighbors to the north.

How can an entire planet live off-grid without burning fossil fuels and survive a "Polar Vortex" where temps are -20F, wind calm and cloudy/ snowing?

Can it be done?

Even at the Antarctica Research Station they have fuel oil for survival.

How would you power and heat a city in conditions like this without fossil fuels?
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Old 01-31-2019, 04:02 PM   #2
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Lets say a 2000 square foot well insulated household uses 200 gallons of fuel oil / month, and there are 20,000,000 people in New York, so let's say 5,000,000 households.

fuel oil BTU/gallon = 139,600
BTU / household/month = 200*139,600 = 27,920,000
BTU / hour = 27,920,000/(30*24) = 38,777 (average household)
state heating load (average) = 5,000,000 * 38,777 = 193,885,000,000 btu/hr
Given 1 BTU/hr = 0.00029307107 kW
= 56,822,078 kw = 57 gigawatts
solar @ 20w/sq-ft = 2841103900 sq-ft > 100 square miles
peak demand roughly double average demand - 200 square miles of solar panels.

So I would say a conservative estimate for the amount of solar panels to heat New York State in the winter would be 200 square miles.
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Old 01-31-2019, 04:39 PM   #3
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As I speculate, I would suggest it would be a combination approach of solar, wind and geothermal...

I don't think it is feasible to heat with one source, but perhaps the more accurate answer is about not getting cold, vice creating heat. So finding a shelter that requires minimal heat is more the answer then finding unlimited ways to heat something.

Cheers
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Old 01-31-2019, 04:43 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by splatz View Post
Lets say a 2000 square foot well insulated household uses 200 gallons of fuel oil / month, and there are 20,000,000 people in New York, so let's say 5,000,000 households.

fuel oil BTU/gallon = 139,600
BTU / household/month = 200*139,600 = 27,920,000
BTU / hour = 27,920,000/(30*24) = 38,777 (average household)
state heating load (average) = 5,000,000 * 38,777 = 193,885,000,000 btu/hr
Given 1 BTU/hr = 0.00029307107 kW
= 56,822,078 kw = 57 gigawatts
solar @ 20w/sq-ft = 2841103900 sq-ft > 100 square miles
peak demand roughly double average demand - 200 square miles of solar panels.

So I would say a conservative estimate for the amount of solar panels to heat New York State in the winter would be 200 square miles.
And when the snow covers all your panels? Or it’s so cloudy and snowy, the efficiency of your panels go way down? Besides that, your daylight hours are fewer in the winter.
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Old 01-31-2019, 05:04 PM   #5
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Iceland, just tap into your local volcano.


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Old 01-31-2019, 05:06 PM   #6
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Insulation is key, Eskimos would heat an igloo with a candle made of seal fat.


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Old 01-31-2019, 05:14 PM   #7
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Snow slides off panels eventually.

But yeah, who in their right mind calculates solar at 100% capacity? Maybe 50%?

You also forgot nuclear.
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Old 01-31-2019, 05:35 PM   #8
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This is our forecast for Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Total hours of sun - four.
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Old 01-31-2019, 07:03 PM   #9
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Your -20F is -29C. as per 99's chart we are going to hit that this weekend.

We use Natural Gas to heat up in Alberta.

I guess a long time ago people used Fire and wood and coal to heat. I don't think any modern stuff will do the job. As 99 says... less Sun, Snow covering the panels, etc.
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Old 01-31-2019, 07:23 PM   #10
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It's been a hard winter this season. The snow is kicking my but. Over 111 inch this season and it is not letting up. On the plus side it make for a great blanket and fuel costs are down because of the insulting properties of the snow.
Yesterday we took snowmobiles to one of our sites and I spent 30 minuets digging out the doors just to get in. Have had some great solar days because it has been very cold when it snowed, the snow is fluffy and the wind bows it off the panels. Some days we get rime, others we get milky and on the bad days we get clear ice. It is just part of living and working in the north. Plus side, a tractor and two cars are considered a traffic jam.
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Old 01-31-2019, 09:59 PM   #11
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Nuclear is the only viable source if we want to sustain current output beyond fossil fuels. Otherwise, we need to drastically reduce consumption if other technologies are to provide out energy.
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Old 01-31-2019, 10:37 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by splatz View Post
Lets say a 2000 square foot well insulated household uses 200 gallons of fuel oil / month, and there are 20,000,000 people in New York, so let's say 5,000,000 households.

fuel oil BTU/gallon = 139,600
BTU / household/month = 200*139,600 = 27,920,000
BTU / hour = 27,920,000/(30*24) = 38,777 (average household)
state heating load (average) = 5,000,000 * 38,777 = 193,885,000,000 btu/hr
Given 1 BTU/hr = 0.00029307107 kW
= 56,822,078 kw = 57 gigawatts
solar @ 20w/sq-ft = 2841103900 sq-ft > 100 square miles
peak demand roughly double average demand - 200 square miles of solar panels.

So I would say a conservative estimate for the amount of solar panels to heat New York State in the winter would be 200 square miles.
Now notice this figuring is just to replace fossil fuel while the sun's shining - you'd need far more on a rainy day and you need something else at night.

I think 200 square miles of solar is a staggering amount ... think about a massive 1,000,000 square foot warehouse, 200 square miles is 5,576 of those roofs.
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Old 01-31-2019, 11:40 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by splatz View Post
Now notice this figuring is just to replace fossil fuel while the sun's shining - you'd need far more on a rainy day and you need something else at night.



I think 200 square miles of solar is a staggering amount ... think about a massive 1,000,000 square foot warehouse, 200 square miles is 5,576 of those roofs.


So at least cover all those roofs with solar!
But ya, pretty hard to heat all the buildings we have now when it’s super cold without fossil fuels.
How do Electric cars do in -20, -30 Celsius?? Does the heater/defrost keep up? How much is range reduced?




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Old 01-31-2019, 11:44 PM   #14
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Quote:
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So at least cover all those roofs with solar!
Think about it ... will solar on their roof even light and heat those warehouses in New York in January? No way. (Think of a greenhouse...)
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Old 02-01-2019, 12:10 AM   #15
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You’re right. They would do very little in winter. I was basically saying better to at least cover the giant warehouse roofs before covering more land with them. When you fly over a city it’s always amazing how many acres of flat wasted rooftops there are.


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Old 02-01-2019, 04:52 AM   #16
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Actually - considering @Funksparky's remarks, think about this - if there were 5,000,000 households in NY state; let's say they are all ranch houses with flat roofs, best case for solar, like warehouse roofs. If you covered them all with solar panels, we know that's way way short of supplying heat for those households. All those panels would be way, way short of the heating demand.

But if you had 2000 square feet of panels each for 5 million homes you'd have 10 billion square feet, or about 230,000 acres, or 358 square miles, of panels, and only scratching the surface of demand.

Using the optimistic estimate of $500,000 / acre to develop solar farms, that comes to $115,000,000,000 ($115B) to scratch the surface of NY's electrical demand with solar.

If you extrapolate a little further with New York being about 6% of the US population, you could put a dent in the nations energy demand with maybe a $2 trillion / 4 million acre / 6250 square mile investment in solar.

This makes me think that while rooftop solar suffers too small economy of scale to ever pay off, it will just never add up, but solar farms may have work... but it's a staggering amount of money and land to get there.
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Old 02-01-2019, 06:25 AM   #17
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You’re talking about houses. What about high rise apartment buildings? The roof is tiny compared to the number of residences. Where do you put all the panels?
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Old 02-01-2019, 06:48 AM   #18
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You’re talking about houses. What about high rise apartment buildings? The roof is tiny compared to the number of residences. Where do you put all the panels?
I am just screwing around with these numbers.

@MikeFL 's question had me thinking, just how much solar farm would you need to build to replace fossil fuels? How much area - square feet or acres or square miles?

To do the real calculation, you'd need to know the state of New York's total heating load in BTU-h or kW-h in a month like this, which nobody is going to have.

So just screwing around, let's say for 20,000,000 people in NY State, you had average four people per house, so 5,000,000 houses. How many square feet of solar to heat a house?

I figured even with a best case 2000 square foot flat roof ranch, it's not enough. But use that as a way-low-end number, and it comes to 10,000,000,000 square feet of solar.
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Old 02-01-2019, 06:55 AM   #19
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Listen, if you guys are freezing your balls off, I could if you like use Planet Macmikeman to bump you a bit and get you a half mile closer to your sun. However , if I do you this favor, I don't wanna be hearing Al Gore blowing his horn about no global warming, so it's up to you guys to make sure he keeps his trap shut.

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Old 02-01-2019, 06:55 AM   #20
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A smart species of hairless monkey would work together and commit to building a solar belt around the equator and viable nuclear fusion.
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