Progress vs Decline: What to expect going forward

What on earth just happened?  Donald Trump is now our president.

For quite a few months now (since early in the primaries), I’ve been saying that, while I don’t support Trump, I saw a viable path for him to be elected President.  I caught a huge amount of flak for that.  Even the week before the election, pointing to the closing 538 probabilities and extrapolating out, I got accused of being ignorant of math, clueless about polling, and generally a complete moron for saying, “Folks?  Don’t be so sure of a Hillary victory just yet.”

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

(Comments from Blogger)

2017-01-22 by ToddG

This article is a tough read, and a tough situation for all of us. I can only suggest that we all get really familiar with the current climate science so we can understand the big picture.

Dr. Richard Gammon [1]. He presented a few months ago at the University Unitarian Church in the U-District (Seattle, WA)[2].



2017-01-23 by David

I enjoyed this piece quite a bit, and come from a very similar perspective. My ability to prepare is hampered in short term by still being in an urban area but we’re making tracks to getting on a homestead property in the medium term to increase our sufficiency and resilience.

Your reference to snow plows makes me wonder if you’re in the same high desert area a friend of mine is in. They have had an insane amount of snow this year.

2017-01-23 by Aaron

So, somewhere in Nevada-ish area along the edge of the Sierras? I have a friend who lives up in Reno, the last couple of weeks they got hammered.

Russell, have you been watching the new TV show Incorporated? Think it’ll get that bad?

2017-01-23 by Russell Graves

An awful lot of the country is dealing with snow plow issues.

Even in an urban environment, there’s a lot you can do. Five gallon buckets with Gamma screw top lids and some vacuum sealing makes for decent food storage.

2017-01-23 by Russell Graves

Sorry, I have no idea what TV show you’re talking about. I don’t really watch much - I’d rather read. We actually don’t have a way to watch live TV even if we want to short of streaming over the internet. My wife & I don’t feel it’s of value to have.

2017-01-25 by Aaron

Well, I don’t really watch live TV either, just watch shows streaming.

Basically, there’s an amendment to the constitution that lets corporations act as sovereigns. They basically take over the US and the world, which has suffered seriously due to climate change with vast areas becoming unlivable. If you have a Corporate job (several major corporations/conglomerates are in competition) you can live in nice clean places, good food, being taken care of, etc. If you aren’t, you live in basically slums or UN climate refugee slum camps.

2017-01-25 by Russell Graves

That seems plausible enough.

2017-01-26 by Ned Funnell

Any suggestions on solar string inverters with black-start capability that are not way more expensive than the usual grid-tie solutions? I have toyed with the idea of feeding a false 240v/60hz signal to the inverter so it will start, but I have a feeling it would either fault for overvoltage as it tried to feed current back into the ‘grid’ or fry itself/the source trying to do so, unless there was a place for it to put all of its excess power.

2017-01-26 by Russell Graves

Anything that can run a load standalone is going to be more expensive, and probably require batteries as well.

The way Radian Outback inverters handle it is that the inverters feed a “critical loads” subpanel if the grid is blacked out, and otherwise will backfeed into the main grid. You need separate charge controllers and a battery bank, and program the inverter to behave as desired with the battery voltages.

Getting a micro-inverter to behave in a blackstart is unlikely - a lot of them rely on pushing or pulling the frequency to see if they’re connected to the grid. The grid won’t budge, but a generator or another inverter will. And, as you note, they rely on an infinite sink for their output. I expect they’d overvolt and shut down if you could get them to feed a standalone island.

If you value standalone capability, you’re just going to be paying more. There’s really no way around it.

2017-01-26 by Ned Funnell

So are Radian Outback inverters the sole player in town for this capability?

2017-01-26 by Russell Graves

They’re not the only one, but they’re certainly a leader in grid tied/backup power systems. If you find others, I’m certainly interested.

But the end to end cost is significantly higher. Your panels go through charge controllers (probably multiple in parallel) to your DC battery bank (48V), then your inverter runs from that and mixes things around as needed - and there’s a bit of an art to getting the charge controllers and inverter to doing the right thing so you make full use of your solar production.

Microinverters are cheaper and easier for a grid tie system, but are radically worse if you want to run without the grid. There exist some ways to hack them into producing power, but you still need a big inverter and battery bank to make that work, at a minimum.

The Radian inverters also support a generator feed that can be blended in a variety of ways. They’re, at least with the research I’ve done so far, the most capable for a “grid tied system” capable of reasonable and indefinite off grid use, should you find the need.

2017-01-26 by Ned Funnell

Thanks for your knowledge. So the Radian systems are essentially double conversion, then? PV voltage to battery bank voltage, then back up to 240VAC. No wonder the efficiency is so low.

Also: What do you think of the notion of using retired forklift batteries as off-grid storage? There seem to be some snake-oil salemen claiming they can rejuvenate these, which I am wary of, but I am curious if there is any legitimate second-life potential for these. Even at 50% capacity remaining, the storage potential for these batteries is huge, if space and handling can be managed.

2017-01-26 by Russell Graves

Pretty much, yeah. The Outback Radian series goes from battery to two phase, and you work out the details yourself to get from panel to battery. It’s not the most efficient system on the planet, but it is a great way to run most of your home on a critical loads panel.

Retired forklift batteries are certainly a thing, but I wouldn’t believe much of the snake oil. They’re also insanely heavy and difficult to move.

2017-06-22 by Ned Funnell

Finally got around to reading Sir Glubb’s essay. Very interesting, and compelling. It does seem quite reasonable to prepare for decline.

2018-05-18 by Joe the Jerk

"Basically, there’s an amendment to the constitution that lets corporations act as sovereigns."

That differs from now how, exactly? LOL