You do not have to clean solar PV panels.
Not if you live in a dusty place or have a house anywhere near trees that have significant leaf drop or something sappy falling on them or have moss growing on them or overflying birds that poo on them or any other reasons why they might get dirty. For many solar panel owners, cleaning is a requirement. Our 3kW array is on a 45 degree inclined roof, there are no broadleaf trees nearby and funnily enough we still have noticed a small improvement from cleaning the panels despite the addition of natural rainwater cleaning that we get in our rainy country. Cherry tree blossom can be a real problem if it lands on the panels when they're wet - they stick like glue for a few weeks!
Please don't generalise just because you don't clean your PV array.
You cannot choose where the electricity goes that your solar PV system produces.
But you can choose whether or not you use this electricity. You're better of not using it rather than using it as an excuse to justify the PV installation.
It actually helps meet the peak usage (like during hot weather to run A/C).
You shouldn't need air conditioning. Instead of finding another way to get the electricity, fix the design of the house so that you don't have to have air conditioning. People have lived for many millenia in hot countries without air conditioning so why suddenly feel the need for it now? The passive house concept is very practical at solving the requirements for additional heating and air conditioning. Air conditioning is quite an American obsession.
Your friend is not learning from reality.
Neil, I find this somewhat dismissive. My friend has a PhD in renewable energy and is developing a product to assist in commercial renewable energy depolyments, including both solar and wind farms. He also has a small PV array at home installed for research use and does a lot of research work with batteries and their endurance. So yes he has done his homework. What are your
qualifications that make you such a great expert?
You certainly seem to have a chip on your shoulder about EV's and renewable energy. Any particular reason?
You seem to have some a very selective way of reading and I would ask that you restract your 'chip on the shoulder' remark as I take offence at it. It's disappointing that this comes from someone in the position of a moderator. As I've said, we have a 3kW PV array and it works wonderfully. It is not right for everyone however and has its drawbacks. Wind power is however a better way of generating electricity. It's more cost effective and massive offshore windfarms can be built with little environmental impact. You will however not be able to get the base load power from renewable, it's simply too variable unless you're going to build massive pumped water storage stations for load balancing. Once we get fusion power then we'll be laughing anyway and we really do need this as our progress as a civilisation is very much linked to how much clean energy we have available. Electricity shortages may effect fast swathes of the developed world unless we have new power plants built and people plugging in their electric cars to charge will not help. I know you will disagree with fission power but it's the best solution to providing base load that we have until we have fusion power on the grid.
I used to work in the electricity industry so I know about generation, whats your experience in electricity?
As for EVs, I have looked at this before. Before I got my last car I looked at the idea and it simply doesn't make commercial sense (including your beloved Tesla Model S) given the long journeys that I make. If you do a short daily commute backwards and forwards then an EV might make more sense, but not using a car at all would make even more sense. Too many people are commuting and too many of them are driving.
I also have a design for an electric car. Electric motors are afterall inherently more efficient but motor efficiency is not everything. I've got as far as laying out where all major components go, identifying suppliers for all major components and making performance and economy calculations. Using a 150kW motor in a very low, aerodynamic shell and the right (or for efficiency, wrong) gearing I think I can get about 270km/h.
At the moment it does not make sense as a first car so this is very much for a second car for the fun of it. It is definitely easier to make a home made electric car than ICE! It therefore comes down to personal circumstance and as I'm about to move and don't have the space where I'm going to put together a car or somewhere to charge it, it's out for the forseeable future.
I have said time and time again through this thread that I am not inherently against EVs. Maybe you didn't read it but I'll say it again for your benefit just in case you did but chose to ignore it. The main reason why I can not universally back an EV and therefore oppose your arguments is that the battery technology simply isn't there yet. You can get around 20 times the energy density per kg with diesel than you can with even the best LiPo batteries. When someone launches a 50kg battery that will do 1100 kilometres on a single charge, then I'll be the first to buy it! Even a 100kg battery that allowed 500 kilometres for that matter. That would go wonderfully in my electric car and I would find it easier to commit to it as a primary vehicle.
However, just as electric batteries will improve their energy density, ICE will also improve efficiency. I know before you said that electricity is 2-4x more efficient which isn't quite the case as the best common rail, variable-vane turbocharged diesel car engines are beyond 50% already unless you have sourced a 200% efficient electric motor. Exhaust heat recovery systems for example will see this climb to around 60% efficiency while electric motors are unlikely to improve much beyond their ~90% level. I highly doubt ICE will ever beat or come that close to electric motors for efficiency but the gap will continue to close gradually. Don't write off ICE.
So, to summarise: If we had fusion power electricity generation and electricity was so cheap that it didn't need to be metered and we didn't have to worry about the lights going out then using electricity to charge a car would make perfect sense. If we had higher energy density per kg batteries then electric cars would make more sense for more people. Electric drive is inevitable but until that day, I'm not building one.