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The US Virgin Islands

Discussion in 'Energy, Environment, and Policy' started by TheTalkingMule, Nov 17, 2016.

  1. TheTalkingMule

    TheTalkingMule Active Member

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    I hang out in St John quite a bit and am always amazed by the lack of solar there. St Thomas/St John/St Croix(I believe) all share a grid powered exclusively by diesel generators. There are a few large scale solar operations(they have net metering) and they hit something like 15% of demand at peak.

    If they're paying 30 cents per kWh(or more) now, wouldn't it be cheaper to simply have a voter referendum, take over the grid entirely, and outsource operations to an entity like TSLA/SCTY who could very rapidly transition to 100% wind/solar/storage? They need fresh water production so using all that excess solar at peak would be no problem at all. Build supply up to 200% and either store it or use it for fresh water production.

    Obviously the residents of the USVI outnumber the villa population considerably. Wouldn't it be fun to have a ballot initiative that bought out the current grid operator, gave Tesla a 30 year utility contract with set profit and all excess profits went to the USVI school systems? You could even set a "free standard usage" fee scheme that kept high energy villas paying about what they do now while less energy intensive shack owners got paid a bit each month for conserving.

    Wouldn't that end up cheaper in the end? I wonder what their rights are with ballot initiatives.
     
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  2. timpierc

    timpierc Member

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    I thought the same thing as well. Figured maybe I could set up a company, and pull off to the Virgin Islands, what happened in Hawaii (all the while wasting away in margaritaville). Unfortunately the permanent population there is significantly more disadvantaged then those on Hawaii, and couldn't afford the lease/loan payments for a system. The rest of the dwellings belong to those who own vacation homes, and don't see the investment as worth it.

    Your premise about turning the islands utility over is interesting. Maybe do it like the nations national labs. The government owns the assets, but is managed by a company, like Lockheed, or a university. I don't know how the local government, and voters would see that arrangement for one company managing the system.
     
  3. TheTalkingMule

    TheTalkingMule Active Member

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    That's the beauty of it, the permanent population has the power of the ballot and could force the issue. If the costs are the same or less and there are huge ancillary advantages....who has a leg to stand on in opposition? The villa/resort owners would simply be forced to come along.

    This could be a very nice post-merger project for the Rive brothers to analyze and propose. Get people talking.
     
  4. TheTalkingMule

    TheTalkingMule Active Member

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    Talked to the brother of the biggest USVI installer and I hear there are some major caps on solar installs across the entire USVI right now. Pretty insane when you think about it, but not far from what we saw with Hawaii. Will be researching micro-grid legality within the USVI and if there are fees for leaving the grid.

    If you can link up with 6-10 villas most with good solar potential, I have to think you could very easily install a 3 battery pack micro-grid for much cheaper than paying the $.30/kWh they pay today. Smart wire all the pool pumps and air conditioners and you're all set. All these fancy villa neighborhoods already have full time maintenance and management personnel who could monitor the system and usage. Big business coming down the pike for solar/battery installers.
     
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  5. TheTalkingMule

    TheTalkingMule Active Member

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    Irma essentially destroyed large parts of the US Virgin Islands. St John is a wasteland with barely a tree left standing and maybe 20% of homes with an undamaged roof. Great opportunity for the DoE to step in with a transition plan to solar/wind+storage.

    [​IMG]
     
  6. RubberToe

    RubberToe Supporting the greater good

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    Marshall plan for solar, wind and storage. Mother Nature has provided (unfortunately) a blank canvas to paint a new picture on. Is it going to be more of the same (diesel electric generators, gas burning cars, etc.) or the first step into the future. No better place to start than on an island.

    Tesla should put in an unsolicited bid to supply solar panels and storage to run the entire island. Offer to get it all up and running in 6 months or its free. Come on Elon, you can do it. Best thing that could ever happen to that island going forward.

    RT
     
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  7. TheTalkingMule

    TheTalkingMule Active Member

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    And now it looks like the next hurricane may breeze by on Tuesday. FEMA, etc are leaving St John and trying to evacuate everyone.
     
    • Informative x 1
  8. GoTslaGo

    GoTslaGo Learning Member

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    Offshore Wind Farms Could Knock Down Hurricanes (2014)

    "Hurricanes are unstoppable, right? Apparently not. An intriguing new computer simulation shows that 78,000 large wind turbines spread across 35,000 square kilometers of ocean outside of New Orleans would have cut Hurricane Katrina’s category 3 winds at landfall by 129 to 158 kilometers per hour (80 to 98 miles per hour) and reduced the storm surge by 79 percent. The same collection of turbines offshore of New York City would have dropped Hurricane Sandy’s winds by 125 to 140 kph and the surge by up to 34 percent.
    -----------
    Jacobson acknowledges that turbines could still be damaged by a ferocious storm. Today operators shut off and lock down turbines when winds reach about 125 kph (78 mph). Once winds surpass 180 kph (120 mph), the borderline between a category 2 and category 3 hurricane (Katrina’s winds were 190 kph when the storm struck New Orleans), turbines will likely sustain damage. Although Jacobson says the power dissipation of the wind farms should keep winds below those levels, engineers at places such as the National Renewable Energy Laboratory are studying how to strengthen turbine towers and blades."

    Why offshore wind turbines can't handle the toughest hurricanes (2017)

    "Researchers predict new offshore turbines would face hurricane wind gusts of more than 223 miles per hour — but the turbines can only manage gusts of 156 miles per hour based on current engineering standards. Part of the problem: Offshore turbine designs often draw from onshore wind turbines in Europe, where hurricane conditions are essentially nonexistent."


    Maybe offshore wind farms with battery storage really should be the next step for the Caribbeans (And solar). Just need better technology to strengthen the turbines (and it seems that it has improved from 120 mph max to 156 mph max in 3 years). If this can be done it would be fascinating to see if we can mitigate Hurricanes in the future.

    Maybe the entire Caribbeans should consider a large scale power entity and invest in a "sea-wall" of offshore wind farms throughout the Caribbeans...
     
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  9. croman

    croman Active Member

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    My prayers to my Cruzan brothers and sisters on their safe passage through this latest storm, Maria. I remember Hugo. St. Croix was mostly spared Irma but it does not look so lucky with Maria.
     
  10. wycolo

    wycolo Active Member

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    Hurricanes are essentially unidirectional events re wind turbines which can be tethered as the wind speed approaches their max rating. But what might a Cat 5 solar array look like? I have no clue.
    --
     
  11. DFibRL8R

    DFibRL8R Member

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    #11 DFibRL8R, Sep 28, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2017
    Any word on how existing solar installations fared in these storms? I like the concept of solar + storage with microgrids being collectively more robust than a large centralized fossil fuel-based energy distribution system but I see a lot of roofs off of houses in the photos. Can only assume that any solar attached would be damaged or destroyed. I know St Thomas Airport had a large grid-tied array. Here's some video of another large array after Irma:

    'It is in shambles': St. Thomas solar farm destroyed by Irma :: WRAL.com

    ST Thomas.jpeg

    And this photo from St Thomas shows some damage:
    170907093025-04-st-thomas-irma-0907-exlarge-169.jpeg

    Maybe some of those panels are salvageable? Maybe a Tesla solar roof would fare better?
     
  12. TheTalkingMule

    TheTalkingMule Active Member

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    I've definitely seen rooftop arrays on St John that looked immaculate after Irma's 200+mph eye passed over. I think it's more a matter of the mounting being able to hold out and a lack of flying debris smashing the panels. The unaffected ones I saw were mounted directly onto the metal roof of a stone villa, everything around the house was completely destroyed. Cars, trees, wooden homes, etc.

    On another note.....Tesla is reportedly on St John working on some form of emergency solution for the more remote Coral Bay side of the island. Solar/storage grid feed? Should be interesting!
     
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  13. DFibRL8R

    DFibRL8R Member

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    Thanks. I read somewhere that a panel that gets (for example) hail damage can look ok but still have damage internally that decreases it's output. Maybe the panels on hurricane-prone areas need storm shutters of some sort.
     
  14. MorrisonHiker

    MorrisonHiker S 90D 2017.34 2448cfc

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  15. TheTalkingMule

    TheTalkingMule Active Member

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    Storm shutters would likely more expensive than the panels themselves. As energy firms get more organized within these islands, a few containers-ful of replacement panels could be distributed to the various homeowners with insurance claims for quick professional install and hook up on the existing mounts. Nice to think about how much easier restoring electricity will be under this new reality.
     
  16. MorrisonHiker

    MorrisonHiker S 90D 2017.34 2448cfc

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  17. DFibRL8R

    DFibRL8R Member

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  18. MorrisonHiker

    MorrisonHiker S 90D 2017.34 2448cfc

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    I saw a lot of photos from Puerto Rico and for the most part their solar installations were undamaged. It does look like some of the wind turbines lost a blade.
     
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  19. TheTalkingMule

    TheTalkingMule Active Member

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    Scattering free Powerwall installs around these islands will do wonders for the marketing cause down the line. It'll help everyone wrap their heads around the possibilities.

    Another advantage of scattering them is to drop phone charging into many different areas.
     
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  20. DFibRL8R

    DFibRL8R Member

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