07.02.2011 lecture diary

The lecture was mostly about how to get the money back from the investments in the rural electrification of developing countries.

First topic I considered quite controversial was that the lecturer said that when developing the rural electrification we should first calculate how much the power we produce will cost. He also mentioned that 20 kw/h is too much to pay for most. Now I was wondering that how can we start from calculating the cost without knowing anything about the projected consumption?

The largest factor determining the price seems to be the size of the power plant thus wouldn’t starting from the price mean that we end up either with too much generation or too little? If we have too much power we end up being cost ineffective and that may mean that we can’t keep the plant running for too long. If we have too little, we end up with blackouts when too many people are trying to use the electricity at the same time.

Also, how much can we expect people to pay us for the electricity? Isn’t this value case specific and thus we need to find it out before we make any investment plans? Making plans without the customer specific information seems like a bad idea when we are talking about huge investments like power supply.

Moving on to the incentives I was wondering if the PBI is just a system where the energy producer gets money from producing carbonless energy? Also, what is the difference between the revenue based carbon credit and the CDM?

On page 15 we have a formula for the availability factor of the solar panels. The issue with this formula is, as I stated during the lecture, that according to it, the panel would give more power when the temperature is higher, which contradicts the earlier lecture. In that earlier lecture it was said that PV output is higher when the temperature is low. Also, according to the same formula, we’d have zero yield at 25 degrees.

In the wind power section, we have nice segregation of the prices by the parts. What I was wondering is that do we need to replace any parts during the lifetime of the wind turbine. Especially the gearbox is interesing, as those don’t last 30 years in cars at least, and they are rated as over 10% of the total cost in the image on page 26.

A low load factor isn’t necessarily bad for the system. It just means that the system has to be designed with bigger margins which means it will be more expensive to build. The smaller the system is, the more probable this problem is due to smaller demand factor.

If the cost of global electrification is 3% extra, or $756 billion, then who will pay for that? The lecturer said that the costs would have to be subsidized, so that sounds that the more wealthy citizens will pay for it via higher taxes. Or maybe these countries will become more lucrative to the corporate investors due to the electrification and the problem solves itself. I guess we have to wait and see.