A list of tactics compiled by tscheur that are useful in this game.
Playing the tech marketEdit
The cost of technologies simply escalates every time you research a new one. The type and level of advancedness do not affect cost in the slightest. Therefore, the wisest course (unless you are part of a network with a sharing agreement and plan) is to research advanced technology as early and often as possible, by buying the cheaper early technology. Also, as of August 2013, Bio advanced tech sold for highest (75-150k neighborhood), Solar and Wind were also good (50-100k), while Gas and Steam are the worst, often only sellable for 25-35k down the entire tech tree. If you can research high-seller technologies (later Bio, Solar, and Wind), you can buy low-seller technologies with the proceeds and take home a profit.
Lagging mine and drill upgradesEdit
When the mine and coal plant are at the same level, and the drill, CC Gas plant, and CHP Gas plant are at the same level, resource usage is 100% and there is no waste on either side. There is no reason to ever lead with mine and drill upgrades, but it is reasonable to have them lag behind. The output and economy of the coal and gas plants drop when you do this, but not so fast that the immediate savings of not having to upgrade the resource producers are not a valuable boon in some situations. For instance, lagging 2 levels, only 2-3% of the output and economy is lost, and tens to hundreds of thousands of $ in immedate spending may be saved.
The weather in the game is totally random, and severely unfriendly to the green power plants. Building the concentrated solar plant in the desert and the offshore wind plant at sea might lead you to believe these power plants get a better deal out of the weather, but the reality is that they do not. Wind varies randomly between 6 states, 0, 0, 25%, 50%, 75%, and 100%, applied directly to the power plant output. (Note, when you have tech bonuses for output, each one is applied to this figure. 100 becomes 105 or 127, 25 becomes 27 or 32, etc., and *0 stays 0*) Sun has three stages of equal length per day. Two stages vary randomly between 0, 12%, 25%, 37%, and 50%. The midday stage varies randomly between 0, 25%, 50%, 75%, and 100%.
The green power plants do not have excellent outputs or economies even when the weather gives them 100%. The situation is much worse with weather of 50% or below; both wind and solar plants lose money- their cost of power production is higher than the price for which it is sold to the city.
Throttling the green power plantsEdit
This refers to turning the power plants off when weather conditions are not favorable. Throttling off for zero is the obvious option; it offers cost savings without impacting output at all (unless you forget to throttle back on when the weather is better). But it is still not enough to prevent green power plants from losing money- they are profitable only at about 60% and up (unless tech lowers their operational costs). You can therefore decide to throttle out the lower weather states (you pick the number: <25? 50? 63?) as well as zero. Doing so boosts the plant's economy, ideally to the point that the plant ekes out a profit, at the expense of the amount of time it spends outputting power (and with it the average output of the plant).
With :30 o/o times, the photovoltaic, onshore, and offshore wind power plants are easy to throttle. The concentrated solar plant, with a 20:00 o/o time, is more of a tough customer. You can either try to anticipate when the weather will change using the forecast and timetable, or swallow the first 20 minutes.
The hydrogen power upgrade for Onshore Wind basically makes throttling obsolete for THIS POWER PLANT ONLY. It boosts the minimum power output to 40% (such that the four states are 40%, 40%, 40%, 63%, 89%, and 127%). With this, the power plant is profitable if left on all the time. You can still throttle it to improve economy and profitability further, but this extra labor will be minimally rewarding due to forgone output.
It is idealistic to imagine that the pumped storage plant can cover your daily load fluctuations, ironing out your highs and lows so that, by carefully controlling the growth of your capacity, your city grows at maximum rate with no interruptions and your supply never goes far above 100%, maximizing profit. But a big obstacle stands in your way: PS can release stored power much, much faster than it can store/"charge" it. It really makes no meaningful contribution to preventing your grid from overproducing power- if you want to keep your supply around 100%, you have to manually turn off plants. The more likely use that PS will come to is in ironing out the ups and downs caused by your erratic over and undershooting of the target power level in growing your capacity. The way the pumped storage plant really works is that you can slowly fill it during good times when your newly upgraded power plants produce more than your city is using even at peak time, and blow it all at once in a 24 or 48 hour stretch when you neglect something and starve your city of power. In this way, it is a great "loss preventer" since the only measure of competition in this game is keeping your city growth rate up constantly, and if power supply suddenly experiences a severe shortage, population drops much more drastically than it rises. But unless you manage to find a way to use it every day to iron out the peak and off-peak times- this is possible through aggressive trading and power plant throttling but so labor-intensive it's hardly worth it- it will never be a profitable power plant in and of itself.
Smart grid centerEdit
Unlike the PS, which is alright as a financial deduction for your grid because it prevents big losses (and also has an achievement tree that rewards you for upgrading it), the SGC should be viewed as a power plant that is expected to pull its weight like all the others. The only difference is that it has a sort of funny way of calculating its output. Instead of a hard number, the SGC outputs 5% over again of your current pre-waste loss power production, which amounts to +6.6% of post-loss power production. Buying an SGC is a worthwhile second-wave investment, since it is cheap and, once you're producing am appreciable amount, 6.6% is a big gain. But you'll notice that it doesn't become competitive to upgrade for a long time. Each level of upgrade provides an additional .5% pre-loss, .66% post-loss power supply boost, and your power supply needs to be pretty voluminous before this is a good deal. Furthermore, it has no achievement tree to mitigate capitalization costs. But rest assured, once you have a multi-thousand unit power output, SGC upgrades will become competitive with upgrades of other power plants on the same terms, +Z/cost, + :)/cost, economy, and profitability. The best part is that over time the deal only gets sweeter. As your other power plants' production increases, the SGC's output boosts and its economy drops constantly. Upgrades only make this go faster.
Bottom line: since SGC is expensive to upgrade compared to other plants and its output is a percentage over again rather than a hard number, you will be wise to lag its upgrades behind your other power plants initially. But once you become a big city (or a big trader, as traded power is taxed by waste no matter if you're the seller or the buyer, making a 50,000Z loop trade punishing indeed in terms of waste), the SGC will be indispensible and feature the flyaway best economy in the game. For instance, a level 20 SGC in a city producing 180000Z/hr effectively "generates" 26100Z/hr in prevented losses for a cost of only 115$/hr, an effective economy of .004! (For comparison, the economy of the next most economical plant, Coal, is .14)
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