Renewable resources and the importance of generation diversity

by Planning Engineer

How feasible are calls for 100% renewable energy?

In previous columns I’ve discussed characteristics of wind and solar generation that will result in increasing concerns as they grow to provide an increase portion of the electric supply. PJM has recently made available a study which discusses these issues and furthermore PJM has done significant modelling to quantify these concerns. This analysis should put to rest any mistaken beliefs that current renewable resources perform just as well as conventional resources as regards grid support. The available reports do not provide full access to the findings and data, but I will attempt to highlight key findings. I strongly recommend that interested denizens read the reports for themselves. I welcome comments, observations and interpretations that I may have missed.

Background

PJM is a regional transmission organization (RTO) located in the Northeastern US that coordinates the movement of wholesale electricity in all or parts of Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. The referenced documents can be found at:

http://www.pjm.com/~/media/library/reports-notices/special-reports/20170330-pjms-evolving-resource-mix-and-system-reliability.ashx

http://www.pjm.com/~/media/library/reports-notices/special-reports/20170330-appendix-to-pjms-evolving-resource-mix-and-system-reliability.ashx

PJM Background

The Appendix document is a good reference. It discusses the drivers and importance of fuel diversity within the USA. The document also notes challenges associated with having limited supply portfolios. The importance of diversity is highlighted by discussions of the polar vortex, the Aliso Canyon storage leak, the South Australia blackout, nuclear dependence in France, Japan’s post-Fukishima energy shift, water scarcity and hydro and the German Energiewende. PJM makes a good for having a diverse portfolio of generation resources. However their report also shows that diversity in itself is not enough. There must be a mix of important attributes contained within the generation mix for reliable system performance. In various generation portfolios the reliance upon the differing resource types will shift which consequently will impact overall system reliability.

PJM Analysis

The PJM document provides a good explanation of grid concerns as discussed in Climate Etc. postings such as All megawatts are not equal, Transmission planning: wind and solar and Renewables and grid reliability. Wind and Solar are identified as generally not having as desirable characteristics as conventional fossil fuel generation in terms of attributes which support reliability. These characteristics include essential reliability services (frequency response, voltage control and ramp capability), fuel assurance, flexibility and black start capability. Based upon the characteristics of the differing types of generators and their respective reliability attributes within potential generation mixes, PJM numerically assessed the overall reliability of various portfolio mixes.

Portfolios are identified as to their risk impacts as follows: 1) infeasible 2) at risk for underperformance, (3) less than baseline, or 4) greater than baseline. Of the studied portfolios, 27% were deemed to have “desirable” characteristics. This “desirable” category include the greater than baseline portfolios and a subset of the less then baseline portfolios which had some consistency of high level performance. Note that the portfolio’s identified as desirable still exhibited some concerns as the study notes that, “Only 34 of the 98 portfolios which were classified as desirable were resilient when subjected to a polar vortex event.” A portfolio deemed in any of these three groups, less then baseline, at risk, or infeasible, would be expected to provide lower levels of reliability than are seen today.

As noted above the complete findings are not available in the provided documentation. I will reference and discuss excerpts from the report which cover the potential for renewable penetration. The study found that:

  • A marked decrease in operational reliability was observed for portfolios with significantly increased amounts of wind and solar capacity (compared to the expected near-term resource portfolio), suggesting de facto performance-based upper bounds on the percent of system capacity from these resource types. Additionally, most portfolios with solar unforced capacity shares of 20 percent or greater were classified infeasible because they resulted in LOLE criterion violations at night.

These findings are very bad news for someone who is hoping that a transition to greater wind and solar would allow those resources to provide say a 30% share of energy needs within the basic framework of today’s bulk grid. From what was provided I could not ascertain what penetration levels would correspond to the “at risk for underperformance” category but that should be expected to hit well before the 20% upper bound for feasibility. Below that boundary would be portfolios with lesser amounts of wind and solar which provide decent reliability, but less than current baselines.

Beginning on P# 31 the document discussed “Desirable” portfolios. Natural gas and coal are identified as performing well across portfolios because they exhibit a majority of the generator reliability attributes. The document noted limitations with wind and solar:

Because wind and solar exhibited limited capability in providing certain generator reliability attributes, upper bounds for wind and solar unforced capacity shares were identified within the desirable category. The upper bound for wind occurred in a portfolio in which a large unforced capacity share of nuclear was retired and replaced exclusively by unforced capacity of wind and natural gas. Similarly, the upper bound for solar within the desirable category occurred in a portfolio in which a large unforced capacity share of nuclear was replaced exclusively by solar and natural gas unforced capacity. Note that, to be included in the desirable category, portfolios with moderate unforced capacity shares of wind and/or solar required relatively large shares of both coal and natural gas. Although an upper bound was identified for wind and solar, a number of portfolios with unprecedented wind and solar unforced capacity shares in PJM were included in the desirable category.

I am unsure of what to exactly make of this paragraph. Apparently they identified an “upper bound” for wind and solar in the desirable category, but they did not choose to share it. They also are indicating that this level of wind and solar (which must be below the 20% infeasible bound) needs to be paired with gas and coal as opposed to nuclear. (Note- Reducing nuclear and increasing coal and gas to support wind and solar does not appear advantageous for CO2 reduction. This problem emerges because nuclear generation, as currently operated in the US, is largely kept at fixed output levels. As has been observed in previous discussions, if nuclear power were allowed to ramp up and down and also able to change their governor responses in reaction to voltage excursions or other disturbances on the system it would be a better candidate for pairing with wind and solar.) Finally what are the “unprecedented levels” which can be achieved by pairing wind and solar with coal and gas? We know that it is less than the 20% level which makes them infeasible. Might it only be 5%, could it be as high as 15%?   Unfortunately we cannot get a “worst case” from these published findings. The details are fuzzy, but the report clearly shows that PJM does not believe that they can approach even 25% renewables through wind and solar without encountering serious reliability concerns.

Conclusions

Overall the document recognizes the need for diversity, but it is not a call for mindless diversity. It notes:

  • More diverse portfolios are not necessarily more reliable; rather, there are resource blends between the most diverse and least diverse portfolios which provide the most generator reliability attributes.

I agree with the above statement. Some areas will be able to integrate more renewables than others because of the attributes of other resources within their portfolios. For example, hydro resources provide high levels of reliability attributes. I did not observe the PJM document to be concerned with alternative hydro scenarios. That is reasonable in that the amounts of hydro resources available are largely fixed. If there are significant amounts of hydro in the area, greater levels of renewables will be able to be accommodated. If substantial hydro is not available, the ability to achieve high levels of renewable penetration through the addition of wind and solar and the absence of fossil fuels will be greatly constrained as critical generation attributes from other resources will need to be present for system support.

POSTSCRIPT

One of the Denizens in a comment on another post was lamenting that the PJM “story” did not get any coverage here although I had covered Secretary Perry’s concern for transmission risk. He stated, “Now, as anyone in the Industry knows, a major companion story to this was the PJM story that their system is/will continue to be stable with significant Renewable penetration levels”   He cited this article, US Transmission Operator Confirms System Remains Reliable with More Gas & Renewables. The commenter believes that the dialogue here at Climate Etc. is “framed” in extremes such that we only compare 100% renewables versus 0% fossil fuels and nuclear. He mentioned that I and other posters make no attempt to discuss energy on “common ground”.

While I don’t think the PJM document tells us a lot about what levels of renewable penetration provide stability. (It more highlights where system problems emerge.) I would like to be clear that I believe that renewables including wind and solar have a role today and should be expected to have a growing role in the future. I believe that certain levels of intermittent renewables can be accommodated without or with minimal adverse impacts upon the system. It’s never been my intention to support anyone who is arguing against such propositions. I seek to limit false “inferences” from my writings, but I cannot be responsible for “inferences” those on the fringes might draw.

As regards the commentator, I think our efforts to reach common ground may be hindered by our respective uses of the words like “significant”. I might say “significant” penetration levels of wind and solar will raises serious reliability concerns. He might say PJM will continue to be stable with significant renewable penetration levels. I think both statement could be seen as absolutely correct and true. If by significant I mean 30% penetration of wind and solar (or more) my statement is strongly supported by the PJM findings. But the commentator’s statement as concerns the PJM findings could be considered accurate if he see’s significant as being 5% (or less) penetration. That is still much greater than what we are seeing today, but is certainly much less than the 20% where serious problems emerge on the PJM system.

I support reasonable calls for renewable resources. I encourage sharing positive information as regards the current and potential capability of our power systems. Unfortunately I think the article he referenced is typical of the poor journalism found in much of the media and it at least mischaracterizes PJM’s findings. As regards the renewable treatment in the actual PJM report, for the general public I think the average reader would walk away thinking the challenges of integrating more renewables with the grid are more complex and difficult than they might have expected. I would expect those who have expressed concerned about the reliability impacts of expanded renewables to feel somewhat vindicated by the findings of the PJM report. I would expect those who think that the German experiment has demonstrated that renewables pose no threat to reliability, to feel those views were challenged and threatened by the actual PJM documentation. I encourage everyone to read the referenced article, the PJM publication as well as my piece and make their own determinations as to whether the PJM study is a green light towards increased mandates and incentives, whether it should serve as a caution or whether you perceive it some other way. I’d appreciate any feedback on this.

I see calls like the recent one from the Atlanta City Council to target 100% renewables. I read stories that stretch credibility about the potential capabilities of wind and solar. I see basic concerns about grid reliability dismissed because of extreme ignorance paired with fundamental misunderstandings. I think overall there is a great asymmetry in misinformation as regards renewables and the grid. (That asymmetry is not likely not a pronounced here at Climate Etc. and perhaps could run in the other direction.) However if there is a “significant” group within the energy/environment discussion arena which has any “significant” power or influence and they are operating on misconceptions around the grid and power supply such that those misconceptions are working to retard the advance of renewables and supportive technology, I will gladly work on a column to seek to correct any such misimpressions.

Moderation note:  As with all guest posts, please keep your comments civil and relevant.

425 responses to “Renewable resources and the importance of generation diversity

  1. It’s really simple. Solar and Wind work well IF they have energy storage that is cheap and reliable. Battery tech will lead this storage and it is happening now.
    That said, the market should decide what works best, and not some idiotic local government or worse, federal level decree.
    Stop subsidizing ALL forms of energy (corn, oil, ng, coal, wind and solar) and let economics decide the winners. It will be solar combined with battery storage IMO but if Oil and NG beat them with unsubsidized and non political means then all the better for all of us.

    • Peter Lang

      I agree with this:

      That said, the market should decide what works best, and not some idiotic local government or worse, federal level decree.
      Stop subsidizing ALL forms of energy (corn, oil, ng, coal, wind and solar) and let economics decide the winners.

      If that happened there would be no more wind or solar power built. And if not for the anti nuclear protest movement’s activism and scaremongering since the 1960s causing massive market distortions blocking nuclear progress, nuclear power might now be supplying 66% of the world’s electricity and have avoided 9.5 million fatalities and 174 Gt CO2 emissions since 1975 from electricity generation https://cama.crawford.anu.edu.au/publication/cama-working-paper-series/9070/nuclear-power-learning-and-deployment-rates-disruption .

      I do not agree with this:

      Solar and Wind work well IF they have energy storage that is cheap and reliable. Battery tech will lead this storage and it is happening now.

      Solar is subsidised by 100 times and wind by 17 times more than nuclear. The are subsidised by many times more than their cost. Batteries are also hugely expensive. Technology costs reduce over time, but very slowly. Batteries were invented 217 years ago. 99% of all electricity storage is in pumped hydro. Most battery storage is in lead acid batteries. Submarines still use lead acid batteries. If there was a viable alternative, the first to use them would be Defence in submarines.

      Renewables can never supply a substantial proportion of the world’s electricity, let alone the world’s energy supply.

      The only known fuel that can supply all the world’s energy sustainably and effectively indefinitely are nuclear fuels.

      • Peter,

        I would suggest your bias in getting in the way of fact finding. While I do not believe CAGW is a problem, I do see the trends in energy moving rapidly to solar and lithium ion storage.
        Unsubsidized solar is already cheaper than wind and coal. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-12-15/world-energy-hits-a-turning-point-solar-that-s-cheaper-than-wind

        I also think that this will cause a rapid shift away from grid distributed energy and towards independent energy generation for each home or business.
        If I can today buy a solar roof that generates all of the energy my home needs, and a battery backup system to store energy for night and low solar days, and if such a system costs less over the life of the home than a regular roof and electricity, I would buy that.
        Wouldn’t you? In this case no need to worry about the grid or the problems FPL, PJM, or PPL may have in regards to peak/baseload, etc. Cut them out of the equation. I would even pay more for the ability to be free from the grid.
        And that system does in fact exist today.

        Plenty of perverse subsidies still exist for FF as well as renewables. Let’s get rid of them all and let the invisible hand sort it out.

      • Peter, John

        I went to the Bloomberg site and it is installed rating not actual. Actual for Jordan, latest data on Bloomberg ‘s calculator showed Jordan at 15% utilization. This means that the bias is in the numbers because using this information and actual production, coal is still about 6.7 times cheaper than solar.

        Peter is correct, not biased. The facts of utilization indicate coal is still much cheaper. John use the Compare – Climatescope at the link you gave to get the numbers. From past experience with Bloomberg, they almost always use installed when making cost comparisons. Plus, they don’t give the numbers in the article you have to go search for them. John you may want to keep this in mind if you use them for a source.

      • @john Ford
        ‘I would suggest your bias in getting in the way of fact finding. While I do not believe CAGW is a problem, I do see the trends in energy moving rapidly to solar and lithium ion storage.’

        Sorry, but the biased one who sees a useless trend is you.
        Do the math, John: the ‘game changer’ Gigafactory from Tesla, capable of producing Li batteries at the rate of 35 GWh/year is équivalent to storing 4 .6 MINUTES of electricity.
        Even setting up 10 similar monster factories/year for 10 years… one would add a mere 100 times more storage capacity… i.e. 460 minutes/year, or 7 hours and 40 minutes, out of 8760 hours of a standard year.
        The associated costs are huge.
        Batteries are a dead end for storing electricity, they are and will be good only for niche applications.

      • Reply to myself,sorry:
        ‘ is équivalent to storing 4 .6 MINUTES of electricity.’
        … that’s US total electricity per year, i.e. ~4000 TWh.

      • John Ford,
        I work in the battery pack design and manufacture field. We in this business (the biggest of that business) are struggling with cell suppliers to get the cells and cell types needed for our products. Lithium does not grow on trees they exist and produced as either rock-ore or brine. Brine has become the (only) profitable choice. Brine requires 9-12 months to “sun dry” producing the necessary oxides for Lithium battery grade product.

        That being said, you can imagine the scarcity Lithium would become and the change in cost/selling price. Gas auto sales in the US 2016 was at the 14 million level. Electric cars next to zero in comparison. Yet, today, EV’s and other large format battery needs (new) are exhausting supplies of Lithium. Lithium is also use in glass and other product production.

        If the US grid and transport systems became dependent on storage using wind and solar the US would immediately be dependent on foreign Lithium since the US reserves are minor compared to places like South America etc. We do not want to go there.

        Wind and Solar, even with infinite storage (battery or otherwise) will always require 100% backup from other sources (fossil or nuclear). Several days in a row with cloudy / stormy weather will affect Wind and Solar production. No demand will be met no storage taking place. Sunshine states will do better but those are few.

        Too many people are drinking the Kool-Aid that subsidies and tax breaks paint.

      • The estimates listed here

        http://innovationreform.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/EIRP-Deep-Decarb-Lit-Review-Jenkins-Thernstrom-March-2017.pdf

        suggest that an all wind and solar portfolio would need weeks or months of storage capacity, not minutes.

      • Peter Lang

        Actually Months. With a high proportion of weather dependent renewables, GB would require 8 TWh of storage to service the 2012 electricity demand through the worst month in that year. That is unlikely to be the worst case.

      • Peter Lang

        Stevepostrel

        Correct.

        GB would require 8 TWh of energy storage to meet demand through the worst month of 2012 if the electricity is generated by a high proportion of weather dependent renewables (i.e. wind and solar) – see Figure 10 here: http://erpuk.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/ERP-Flex-Man-Full-Report.pdf . This excellent report also explains the issues with a high proportion of intermittent renewables.

    • “Solar and Wind work well IF they have energy storage that is cheap and reliable. Battery tech will lead this storage and it is happening now.”

      What is happening now with battery storage does not give me much optimism that it will be cheap and reliable anytime soon.

      PG&E recently completed a technology demonstration (https://www.pge.com/en/about/newsroom/newsdetails/index.page?title=20161110_pge_battery_storage_systems_are_first_to_successfully_participate_in_california_electricity_markets) to explore the performance of battery storage systems. Although it has been touted as a success the report concludes: “The project gained significant real-world data on the financial performance of battery energy storage resources providing energy and ancillary services in CAISO markets that can better inform an assessment of market benefits in cost-effectiveness valuations of future battery storage procurements. Over the course of the 18 months of market participation during this project, the financial revenues from battery participation in CAISO markets were limited. If revenues from market participation are to be the key driver of evaluating the cost-effectiveness of battery storage, it is recommended to be conservative in the forecasting of those revenues. With California Assembly Bill 2514 and its requirements that utilities procure 1.3 gigawatts of energy storage, California ratepayers could expect to pay billions of dollars for the deployment and operations of these resources.”

      Todd Kiefer reviewed the demonstration project at the Grid Optimization Blog (http://www.tdworld.com/blog/caiso-battery-storage-trial). It is well worth reading the whole post but here are his key summary points: Batteries are still far from cost effective, Using batteries to shave peak energy is great in theory but in practice is very difficult, the most lucrative use of batteries on the grid is for frequency regulation but that precludes using the batteries for much peak shaving, the actual revenue from the battery system was much less than the predicted revenue, optimal use of batteries is much different than generation sources, parasitic load is an issue and wholesale prices of electricity varied so much by geographic location on the California grid that often it was not economical for the two demonstration battery arrays to store surplus power being generated by wind or solar farms. He concludes: “Batteries are still a long way from being a substitute for fossil fuel power plants or any other actual power generators because of physical and economic limits of current technology.”

      • Re all the discussion on batteries for grid storage, and specifically the use of and scarcity of lithium.

        Recent battery breakthroughs show that lithium is not required, nor even desirable, for grid-scale, economic, and reliable batteries. The Nobel prize-winning discovery of halogenated polyacetylene (HPA) as a battery component makes lithium obsolete. This is quite similar to the situation years ago with the copper shortage: phones would not be able to operate because not enough copper exists in the world to run the phone lines. The experts switched over to fiber optics, and then to wireless phones.

        See the battery technology (patent pending) by the Nobel Prize winner (2000), Dr. Alan Heeger (University of California at Santa Barbara), at the BioSolar.com website.

        From the Nobel Prize article,
        “In 1977, however, Shirakawa, MacDiarmid and Heeger discovered that oxidation with chlorine, bromine or iodine vapour made polyacetylene films 10^9 times more conductive than they were originally. Treatment with halogen was called “doping” by analogy with the doping of semiconductors. The “doped” form of polyacetylene had a conductivity of 10^5 Siemens per meter, which was higher than that of any previously known polymer. As a comparison, teflon has a conductivity of 10^–16 S m–1 and silver and copper 10^8 S m–1.”

        Regarding scarcity, it is noteworthy that polyacetylene is made of carbon and hydrogen, neither of which is ever likely to be scarce. The halogens, chlorine, bromine, and iodine, are also abundant. Especially is that true for chlorine, a component of seawater, not to mention the millions of tons of the stuff that exists onshore in salt deposits.

        This HPA battery technology is indeed a game-changer. My write up on this is at

        http://sowellslawblog.blogspot.com/2016/04/this-battery-is-game-changer.html

        There are also other, non-lithium battery technologies in the research stage. So, for those who believe that batteries will not rescue wind and solar due to a shortage of lithium, remember the copper shortage and cell phones.

      • You can do a web search and look for levelized cost of energy. Lazard puts out a good analysis and the latest is V 10.
        Grid scale solar is already cheaper than coal according to them.
        Also, we are forgetting that solar makes possible personal energy independence. One does not have this ability with coal, gas or nuclear :)
        I’ll probably get further attacked for this comment as it appears some here have bias against solar because of previous government based market distortions. I made clear in my first post I do not support those. I would also reject the Hegalian notion that it is either solar or gas/coal. It can be a combination of several technologies that allow us to meet our energy needs in the future.
        But surely one recognizes that solar is an infinite source if energy and if it can be harnessed economically why not? Estimates for oil reserves are 100 years or so. Let’s say we can stretch that to 200 years. That is still a problem for our grand kids and their grand kids.
        It also reduces the need for war with other countries to protect the free flow of oil.
        These are good things so I’m not so sure why all the invective here.
        Most people can not fathom solutions as easily as identify problems. This is human nature. It is also why the elimination of subsides while allowing free competition (we need to control utilities and their penchant for seeking government protections and monopoly) will find the answers even when we cannot individually.

    • Steven Mosher

      Coal. Ng and oil are great if you allow them to fill my air and my descendants air with their waste. They give me a benefit, they give plants a benefit but they also transfer an uncertain risk to me . That uncertain risk ranges from low to catastrophic. We HAVE No Clear scientific program to narrow the risk uncertainty.

      • Peter Lang

        Steven Mosher,

        That uncertain risk ranges from low to catastrophic.

        “catastrophic” is a baseless assertion. It’s emotional clap trap. Not scientific.

      • And, Mr. Mosher, what the hell have we been spending the $billions$ over the last 40 years on if “We HAVE No Clear scientific program to narrow the risk uncertainty.”?

        I guess you adhere to the “The future is uncertain! Stay in your caves!”

        Future peoples will be far richer and more knowledgeable. Let them sort things out.

        Go back to Wandering in your Weed Patch.

      • Geoff Sherrington

        SM,
        Do you at least concede that you would die pretty fast if the air did not contain the ‘waste’ called CO2 at a hundred ppm or more?
        Are you not biting the hand that feeds you?
        Geoff.

      • For the clear thinkers of the world, at least the sedation and distraction that pot affords saves us somewhat from the din of Leftist rants that old school energy is going to kill us by filling our lungs with waste. Although considering how healthy pot apparently is, maybe this equation requires more serious thought from clear thinkers.

      • Steven,
        You probably could have left NG off your list (as I’m sure you know).
        CH4 + 2 O2 = CO2 + 2 H2O. One should obviously look at all costs and all benefits of all sources of energy, which is exactly what this article is about.

      • That’s what the Tea Party said about the national debt- it’s an uncertain risk for our children.
        You’re a member of the Tea Party too, right?

      • Steven Mosher

        “SM,
        Do you at least concede that you would die pretty fast if the air did not contain the ‘waste’ called CO2 at a hundred ppm or more?
        Are you not biting the hand that feeds you?
        Geoff.”

        I would die fast if I filled my lings with water, but still you need a little.

        Sorry, your stupid pet trick rhetoric doesnt work

      • Steven Mosher

        Steven,
        You probably could have left NG off your list (as I’m sure you know).
        CH4 + 2 O2 = CO2 + 2 H2O. One should obviously look at all costs and all benefits of all sources of energy, which is exactly what this article is about.
        ######################

        NG is on the list for a reason as you should know.

        The point remains. Folks are filling my air without my permission.
        They give me a benefit, HOWEVER, they expose me to an uncertain risk.

        When they can demonstrate no or little risk… then I’ll let them put their waste in my air.

      • John Carpenter

        “When they can demonstrate no or little risk… then I’ll let them put their waste in my air.”

        There is waste. There will always be waste going into the air, water and land by human activities. Waste poses a risk to everyone and there is no certainty it won’t pose a risk for folks now or in the near future or far future despite best management practices today. Find a way to make the waste a product. Find a way to recycle the waste. Make it not waste.

        https://phys.org/news/2016-08-recycling-carbon-dioxide-climate-warming-co2.html

      • Steven Mosher stated: “The point remains. Folks are filling my air without my permission.
        They give me a benefit, HOWEVER, they expose me to an uncertain risk.

        When they can demonstrate no or little risk… then I’ll let them put their waste in my air.”

        Special pleading. You have admitted accepting a benefit, and in posting on the internet, the guilt of demanding the production of CO2. You are exposing us to this uncertain risk without our permission.

        Whether one uses general liability or strict liability, you are part of the problem.

        I think your use of comparing water and CO2 is correct. But perhaps a little less snark when you are guilty of benefiting as are all but perhaps a few hundreds of persons in this world, would be in order. You stated: “Sorry, your stupid pet trick rhetoric doesnt work” Neither does yours.

      • You criticize Geoff for “stupid pet tricks” Steven, yet employ one yourself. Exactly what is the waste product you supposedly are filling your lungs with? Because if you are referring to CO2, which after all is the product that leads to global warming right, then you are filling the atmosphere with far more of that waste then you are breathing in. In other words you are trying to play on the health impacts of particulates and lump them with the impact of CO2. Unless you actually believe that increasing the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere will have adverse impact to your lungs or other systems and organs.

      • David Springer

        “Ng and oil are great if you allow them to fill my air and my descendants air with plant food their waste.”

        Fixed that for ya!

        https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2016/carbon-dioxide-fertilization-greening-earth

      • Geoff Sherrington

        Steven M
        You comment – “folks are filling my air without my permission.”
        My response – “I hope I can give enough to society to grant me unspoken permission to use earth resources and to more than repay my consumption of them for they belong to everyone.”
        I guess we have to concede we have rather different world views.
        Geoff

    • John,
      Rooftop solar and local battery storage have several hidden “landmines” that can only be seen by looking at their total life-cycle from mining to recycling and waste.

      I’m not predicting the outcomes, but the life-cycle events can be easily seen and anticipated.

      I’ve been mapping, analyzing, and helping change complex global infrastructure networks, on the ground, in more than 40 nations for decades. (Autos, energy, water, food, mobile communications, waste, etc)

      I did this in corporate, government, and educational roles.

      Key to your observation is this question…

      Why are some infrastructure innovations “pulled” to global scale (internetworking protocols and mobile devices)…while others are “pushed” back from scale for long periods of time (electric vehicles)?

      The practical electrical vehicle was first deployed more than 140 years ago, before the petroleum auto. Governments and companies have pushed the EV many times over this period, but fleet penetrations remain minuscule, as they are today.

      Why? Because to scale, EV’s require $Trillion in socially-disruptive infrastructure changes compared to vehicles powered by energy-dense liquid fuels. (See wonderful grid discussions in this forum.)

      The EV has been “pushed back” out of widespread social use, because the tangible and intangible infrastructure costs are much higher than for the established global fleet of vehicles that soon will approach 1.5 billion in a few years and perhaps 2 billion in 15-20 years.

      Same phenomenon will happen to rooftop solar and battery storage.

      Again, I’m not predicting outcomes – just that the process will happen.

      Example. Lithium batteries in Teslas – and in emerging home batteries – contain 1200-2,000 pounds of traditional, recyclable, materials AND lithium that cannot be easily recycled.

      At current useful lives, these batteries will be coming into the waste-recycling streams at volume in about 7-12 years.

      That’s the first “landmine”.

      (The second is the 17-25 year recycling periodicity of the massive “e-waste” in modern solar panels.)

      Tesla right now basically “burns” battery materials and puts the residue in construction materials (cement?) See their own documents.

      This means one of the unique, negative, environmental effects of EV’s is that each new EV made requires NEW mining of lithium and other materials.

      Let me emphasize: EVERY new EV made requires more new mining and material production than any of the existing 1.2 billion petrol-fired vehicles on Earth. And, that is likely to continue for a long time.

      This incremental mining for EV’s affects water tables, energy, and local economic patterns in the Atacama, Western US, China and other areas of lithium production, even at minuscule current EV production levels.

      (Visiting these mining sites is instructive.)

      The current gasoline fired vehicle, in contrast, is more than 95% recyclable, has a highly profitable, and environmentally sound recycling process.

      Further, if the US can increase the penetration of highly-recylable 1.2 to 1.4 liter gasoline vehicles, this mitigates most of the asserted “climate change” effects attributed to petrol vehicles – IF – regulators look at the total life cycles of EV’s and petrol vehicles.

      (I helped construct the CAFE and mobile source emissions regulations, so I know how the sausage is made.)

      So those are the “landmines” for EV’s.

      And for scaled stationary solar.

      If the US begins to put 3-8 Tesla battery equivalents into an appreciable fraction of the 200 million private and public buildings in the US, the environmental effects will be significant, to say the least.

      If the US tries to install “utility grade” batteries beyond this, to balance the massive grid flows…

      …the long term environmental effects will be far beyond most of the “conservation” measures now available to the US population.

      Same life-cycle effects apply globally.

      There is no free lunch here.

      I commend the participants in this forum for establishing a venue for real energy and environmental explorations.

      • M Anderson: Thanks for the useful analysis.

      • Stephen Hawking must be taking you seriously because he says we have about 100 years left before we make the planet unfit for human habitation.
        Personally I think genetic engineering will result in a very different outcome.

      • David Springer

        “Personally I think genetic engineering will result in a very different outcome.”

        You’re not alone.

    • The *If* of battery storage isn’t just one of capability or even cost. Both capability and cost are extremely high at this point, and it is far from clear that sufficient development will fix this.
      The bigger issue is whether battery technology – even *with* sufficient capacity and cost – will actually be sufficiently “green” such that the net manufacturing pollution from both solar/wind capacity production+installation *and* battery production will be less than just burning natural gas or even coal.
      This is very, very far from clear. The various rare earth batteries used at present produce a tremendous amount of pollution in their creation.

    • John,

      Current battery technology is not going to lead anything. It will be utilized in certain scenarios – as our company has done – but it will require some pretty dramatic breakthroughs to do more than that. DARPA spent billions on R&D of battery technology for the Navy. Are you aware of any US Navy submarine which is not nuclear powered?

    • About 40% of the world’s lithium reserves are in Bolivia. The Bolivian government is headed by a communist, Evo Morales, the government provides very little investment security (I would say it’s a very risky investment prospect), an ally of the Maduro and Castro dictatorships, and seems inclined to follow the pattern these left wing autocrats are applying successfully: use the democratic process to take over, then destroy it to change the system to autocracy and dictatorship.

      This is an issue which has to be addressed by Latinamerican nations, but thus far they aren’t able to deal with it. Thus it’s possible (say 50-50 chance that Bolivia will go the way of Venezuela, to be ruled by nutty communists allied with drug cartels and the Chinese and Russians (who will provide loans and invest a little bit to make sure the Western Hemisphere goes as unstable as possible, thus undermining USA security).

      The USA is completely out of the picture in the region. Obama/Clinton actually encouraged the emergence of these red autocrats/dictators by legitimizing the Castro family dictatorship (the darling of the USA left). And Trump is as incompetent as I have ever seen, with his stupid “the Mexicans will pay for it” and his scatter brained foreign policy. Thus any ideas you have that Tesla and friends will have a reliable lithium supply out of Bolivia are unfounded.

      I tend to agree with those who wrote the ability to penetrate a grid with solar and wind is limited. Very low cost energy storage is the obvious enabler, but it’s also obvious the technology isn’t ready for prime time. I’m also sensing that we are being subjected to propaganda paid for by wind and solar corporate interests. Thus technical and economic reality checks will have to row upstream against the CO2 cult as well as very savvy corporations trying to profit from the confusion we see.

  2. Pingback: Renewable resources and the importance of generation diversity – Enjeux énergies et environnement

  3. The tricky part of this discussion is that one must keep in mind that as we discuss, based on current technology, that that technology will improve. It could also be understood an improvement or a series of improvements could change dramatically our current assumptions. End.

    Today we enjoy an electrical power grid (distributed) that allowed the growth witnessed over the past 150 years around the globe and especially in the US. The power systems today, including gasoline allow quick and easy adjustments to fit our changing needs (demand and seasons). One must be very careful not to jeopardize but rather to enhance. Back to foresight to avoid future regrets.

    A given city can make laws requiring 100% renewable by a given decade but that can’t happen without the proper mix of reliable sources of energy, fossil, nuclear, hydro.

    Wind and Solar (with storage) could be very reliable, if in fact there exists back-up diversity to maintain sufficient storage-assistance.

    If scientists are saying that all fossil (including gasoline) generation must cease that would not make any sense nor possible. No sense because if fossil was reduced to 1950’s use-levels (for example) the so-called fossil warming would be very livable as the population growth over the pass 150 years have demonstrated. Considering also that warming since the period ending the Little Ice Age, was too cold to begin-with.

  4. The problem in South Australia was not the wind generators. Wind gusts of up to 260kph brought down power lines that caused a number of voltage drops over a short time tripping the wind farm control settings. The increased draw on the grid inter-connector tripped that.

    I’d suggest at look at the design of power transmission towers. But the AEMO has concluded its investigation. The blackout was not caused by intermittency issues.

    https://www.aemo.com.au/-/media/Files/Electricity/NEM/Market_Notices_and_Events/Power_System_Incident_Reports/2017/Integrated-Final-Report-SA-Black-System-28-September-2016.pdf

    The recommendations include making the control settings less sensitive and increasing the availability of synchronous condensers to compensate for voltage drops.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synchronous_condenser

    • Windmills suddenly tripping(all within a few seconds) is definitely an intermittency problem. Due to the very high subsidies for wind power at peak load times(multiples of base load $/kWh) they were programmed to capture as much subsidy as possible with no provisions for adequate regulated shutdown for grid control and no alternate supply available except for the Victoria connector, powered by dirty brown coal.

      • The wind farms kept turning – the connection tripped out automatically as a result of protective control settings. According to the AEMO these have been changed. Right now most electricity in SA is mostly gas generated – these are the primary supply.

        http://reneweconomy.com.au/nem-watch/

        “The most well-known characteristic of wind power, variation of output with wind strength (often termed ‘intermittency’), was not a material factor in the events immediately prior to the Black System.” AEMO Final Report

    • Rob,

      The tower you show is a common but now obsolete design. Still it is a very reliable one. I know of lattice style towers dating back to the 50’s and older which are still in service. I’ve installed numerous wireless facilities on our lattice towers and even with that added loading they have not failed under high wind conditions. I would want to see the failure analysis of that tower before calling for a “better” design.

      • There were a couple of tornadoes 170km (from memory) apart with wind speeds up to 260km/h. There are some things you can’t design for. Not a major point.

        Cheers

      • And then there are some things you can design for and do a poor job.

        As I understand it, a common problem with these lattice towers is they fail under the broken conductor scenario. At least in modeling. That little has been done to address that “potential” mode of failure tells me the “potential” is extremely low.

  5. ” Finally what are the “unprecedented levels” which can be achieved by pairing wind and solar with coal and gas? We know that it is less than the 20% level which makes them infeasible.”

    The PJM statement on which the 20% is based was
    “Additionally, most portfolios with solar unforced capacity shares of 20 percent or greater were classified infeasible because they resulted in LOLE criterion violations at night.”
    A diurnal issue. It seems to be being stretched a lot.

    • Well duh – what it means is that the Sun doesn’t shine at night.

      http://www.emissions-euets.com/internal-electricity-market-glossary/450-loss-of-load-expectation-lole

      This is a Californian load profile.

      To compensate for the lack of solar generation at peak daily demand there is a need for storage – something that is not yet economically feasible.

      https://www.lazard.com/media/438042/lazard-levelized-cost-of-storage-v20.pdf

      • “what it means is that the Sun doesn’t shine at night.”
        Yes, that’s the diurnal issue. But the 20% is then applied to wind as well.

      • It is, as in the section I quoted. The PJM report sees a specific limit (20%) on solar energy, because of its cycle. I cannot see any specific limit claimed by PJM on wind energy, yet in this article it is folded within the solar 20%.

      • Let m quote from the PJM report summary.

        • The expected near-term resource portfolio is among the highest-performing portfolios and is well equipped 13 to
        provide the generator reliability attributes.
        • As the potential future resource mix moves in the direction of less coal and nuclear generation, generator
        reliability attributes of frequency response, reactive capability and fuel assurance decrease, but flexibility and
        ramping attributes increase.
        • A marked decrease in operational reliability was observed for portfolios with significantly increased amounts of
        wind and solar capacity (compared to the expected near-term resource portfolio), suggesting de facto
        performance-based upper bounds on the percent of system capacity from these resource types. Additionally,
        most portfolios with solar unforced capacity14 shares of 20 percent or greater were classified infeasible because
        they resulted in LOLE criterion violations at night. Nevertheless, PJM could maintain reliability with unprecedented levels of wind and solar resources, assuming a portfolio of other resources that provides a sufficient amount of reliability services.
        • Portfolios composed of up to 86 percent natural gas-fired resources maintained operational reliability.15 Thus, this
        analysis did not identify an upper bound for natural gas. However, additional risks, such as gas deliverability
        during polar vortex-type conditions and uncertainties associated with economics and public policy, were not fully
        captured in this analysis. Risks with respect to natural gas may lie not in capability to provide the generator
        reliability attributes but rather in these other uncertainties.
        • More diverse portfolios are not necessarily more reliable; rather, there are resource blends between the most
        diverse and least diverse portfolios which provide the most generator reliability attributes.”

        PE is very cavalier about wind and solar penetration numbers –
        numbers I might add without much substance. The PJM nominated 20% for solar – but expected that reliability could be maintained with “unprecedented levels of wind and solar resources, assuming a portfolio of other resources that provides a sufficient amount of reliability services.”

        To my mind that gives scope for a technically feasible increased penetration of wind and solar. But you were discussing solar limits without considering lole – that is that the sun doesn’t shine at night. I’m happy to expand the discussion.

      • “PE is very cavalier about wind and solar penetration numbers”
        That is my point

        “But you were discussing solar limits without considering lol”
        My first comment was “A diurnal issue…”.

      • The ‘estimates’ of feasible penetration seem to be pulled out of his arse – but really the ‘diurnal’ issue related to solar only obviously.

        I had assumed it was something less than 20% solar penetration as a practical measure plus wind. The total feasible – according to the PJM – is unprecedented levels of nameplate – I assumed – wind and solar penetration. And that’s considerably less than a 20% contributions to supply given capacity factors.

      • If you build a stable power system that can operate across all periods with conventional resources and then choose to add “extra” or “redundant” intermittent resources which would displace the conventional resources whenever possible (but the conventional are maintained and ready as backup) of course you could “maintain reliability with unprecedented levels of wind and solar resources”. But you must be, as the sentence finishes, the “assuming a portfolio of other resources with provides a sufficient amount of reliability services”. In such cases while you may be limiting fuel use you are not “replacing” conventional generation with renewables. You are merely displacing some generation. The costs of an approach of this sort is huge, but it’s doable.

        The 20% used refers unforced capacity (UCAP). That is equal to installed capacity multiplied by 1 minus the equivalent forced outage rate (EFORD). Completely spelling out the details and implications of that for a posting like this seemed overkill. Certainly neither PJM nor I identifying the problem area as 20% installed capacity. My take is that I used the general relationship between between UCAP, expected energy penetration and most people’s common understandings of what is being discussed in a conservative and limited way to support any arguments made here. If you can argue a more optimistic interpretation for solar/wind penetration levels than I am offering from the PJM material, I would certainly like to see it.

      • In addition to the points PE made there is another inconvenient problem. In addition to the physical constraint limits by wind and solar on the grid there also is a financial constraint. As the subsidized solar and wind resources come on line they displace fossil peaking units but not completely making them less and less viable. Until you can guarantee that the solar and wind resources can completely cover the peaks, don’t forget that northern areas have a smaller but still significant peak in the winter when solar is much less effective, fossil peaking units are needed. However, if they are displaced too much then you will end up subsidizing them so that the grid is guaranteed sufficient power during the peaks.

      • Nick,
        Obviously wind is completely unpredictable, even on an hourly basis. One can look at monthly/seasonal trends, of course, but it varies continuously and randomly. Without excellent backup or storage, increasing the amount of wind will always make the system less reliable. And if you need to install twice as much wind to get the average level of performance higher, it is costly and doubles the environmental damage – to which wind, as with any other power source, still contributes.

      • Assuming no subsidies or targets – wind seems competitive in the US. Additional costs arise if there is lower utilisation of gas plants. The gas plants are free to offer electricity to the market at higher prices – if they need to – when wind and solar are not available – or at competitive rates at other times.

        So the capacity factor for gas plants perhaps drops a little from 87% at reasonable – but unspecified – rates of wind and solar penetration. Despite the hand-wringing about huge costs.

        Weather is predictable days to a week ahead. Energy Diversity provides some security against system disruption or fuel price hikes, wind and solar have no fuel costs so no potential for future increases – the technology costs continue to decline – and it conserves a very limited gas reserve.

        Ultimately the energy mix must include advanced nuclear – and the technology is in the final stages of commercialisation. There are huge problems with light water reactors – starting with cost – the latest designs solve all the problems.

        It seems likely as well that the energy market will expand to include other forms of 21st century energy.

      • “The environmentalist adjusts the data and proves the wind hasn’t changed at all”?

  6. stevefitzpatrick

    Interesting post.
    I suspect pairing of wind/solar with banks of gas fired (very large) internal combustion engine generators might make sense. IC plants have banks of individual engines which can be both throttled and brought on line (or shed) pretty quickly to compensate for varying solar or wind generation. The individual engines produce up to 35 megawatts each, and can reach 55% thermal efficiency. A generation plant might have 20 individual engines. The capital cost is in the range of $1,000 per KW capacity, and the plants are comparabe to other gas fired generation in reliability.

    • General Electric has built a combined cycle gas turbine which delivers up to 500 MegaW, they claim efficiency was measured at 62%. It has some load following capability, but it’s not as quick as say a Solar Mars turbine. I started working as a plant engineer in the 1970’s and saw them evolve a lot over time, have done studies and recommended a gas turbine electrification project (which nowadays runs coupled to wind farms in Argentina).

      The problem I see with the cases where too much gas is used is the reserve depletion issue. I see a lot of enfasis on solutions for the USA, while I spent my career “overseas”, where natural gas isn’t necessarily available so we can plan on using it for 30-50 years. Even very gas rich countries like say Trinidad and Indonesia eventually start running out. And some lack access to gas unless they import LNG, which will become a more expensive commodity over the next 30-50 years as the reserves run out.

      Thus long term there’s a need to find a nuclear option, or some sort of new technology to make solar/wind with energy storage a viable solution.

      • “load following capability”

        I can’t remember where, but I recently read an article about a new CCGT+battery plant that provides the best of all worlds (efficiency + economy + low emissions + very fast ramp-up without idling). Batteries are very good at some things and there are application where their strengths can be utilised to excellent effect (bulk storage not being one of them).

        “30-50 years as the reserves run out”

        30-50 years is a very long time in our current era (at least in terms of technology and markets, if somewhat less so in terms of law and politics). Any solutions that can bridge 30-50 years can be regarded as transformative because the technology landscape is certain to be transformed within this time period (even if we can’t be certain how).

        “And some lack access to gas unless they import LNG”

        World LNG capacity is growing exponentially, which is making natural gas a global commodity. That’s great news for North American producers because global prices are around twice domestic prices. Not so great for North American natural gas consumers when North American prices equalise with global prices. The beneficiaries so far as electricity is concerned are coal, renewables and nuclear, with natural gas only competing where it is strongest (heating). In 30-50 years I predict the cards being arranged in a configuration that closely corresponds to what happens after throwing them up in the air.

  7. The PJM document lists their sources by installed capacity (MW), not by how much energy they deliver (MWhr). So when they say wind and solar need be less than 20%, I assume they mean installed capacity, not the percentage of delivered energy, as wind and solar have very low capacity factors compared to conventional sources.

    In any event, if renewables are limited to about 15% of capacity, I don’t think they make any difference in the long term as that would just reduce fossil fuels to about 1990’s levels of usage. Thinking that could save us is like thinking that if just 15% of the world population dropped off the grid, the whole emissions problem would go away, despite the upward trend in population growth and relentless growth in energy usage in China, India, and other countries.

    • The 20% used refers unforced capacity (UCAP). That is equal to installed capacity multiplied by 1 minus the equivalent forced outage rate (EFORD). That puts it much closer to the neighborhood of the percentage of electricity delivered.

      • There was a study of wind in Wyoming about 2007 that found that once the generated penetration, not capacity, averaged about 3% to 5% problems started occurring and at about 7% to 9% the exponential increase in costs to resolve problems would require load sharing to an area with fossil fuels 3 times as large as the wind service area. To get above this 7 to 9% required hardware and software that did not exist at the time of the study. To get higher than about 15% took storage. At about 30%, reliability was not possible without the above and a computer model that could successfully predict wind and control consumption. The numbers here do not indicate much improvement.

        I don’t see much improvement of the basic challenges in the last decade. At this rate of improvement, it will take about 50 years to get above that 30% penetration with reliability unless a fundamental improvement or discovery is made.

      • Just a couple of comments relating to previous comments. First, anyone who is afraid of breathing the air in NA should review the data on how much the real pollution has been eliminated since the 40s-50s when I was a kid. If fear drives changing the entire power grid supply, I suggest staying in momma’s basement with an HVAC and battery of hepa filters. This would also protect one from tornadoes and strong straight-line winds. You may not need air conditioning, but will need heat and a dehumidifier. Be sure the basement isn’t prone to flooding. Second, any fisher knows that the wind, like the sun, often goes down at night. Mosquitos also know this. Surely there is data on wind speeds for day/night comparisons. Saying that the South Australia blackout was caused by towers going over in 260kph winds doesn’t address the question of how functional wind turbines would have been in the same 260kph winds. They all would have been destroyed if allowed to operate. Third, why would you need any undependable/unreliable solar or wind if you have hydro power? Hydro is very dependable and more environmentally friendly than wind and solar. It also has very good life expectancy.

  8. dougbadgero

    A quick point about storage resources. PJM uses what is known as the RegD signal to control storage resources. They previously used a net energy neutral target of 5 minutes with a 95% probability of energy neutral within 15 minutes. This meant that storage resources could be used for only very short duration frequency response. They recently changed the RegD signal target to 1 hour energy neutral. Operators of storage are claiming they should not be allowed to do even this without approval from FERC.

    Moral:
    Storage resources are not capable of doing what many here think they can do.

    • This is a grid voltage and frequency management issue – rather than compensating for wind and solar intermittency.

      • dougbadgero

        It means that storage cannot provide real load during peak times each day. Look at the daily load curve for pretty much any region. The need to be net energy neutral on such a short time frame means that storage as currently regulated cannot balance supply and demand over a period of many hours.

    • “Until 2016, PJM’s frequency regulation market, which allowed fast-responding resources like energy storage to bid into tenders to provide the ancillary service ahead of existing assets like gas peaker plants, was the biggest front of meter energy storage market in the US, since overtaken by California. Over 265MW of advanced energy storage projects are thought to be in operation in the 65 million-person area covered by PJM, with the market attracting domestic and international players alike.”
      https://www.energy-storage.news/news/pjms-frequency-regulation-rule-changes-causing-significant-and-detrimental

      The frequency regulation market is very different to grid scale storage to smooth wind and solar supply.

  9. Thank God. A new post

  10. Reducing nuclear and increasing coal and gas to support wind and solar does not appear advantageous for CO2 reduction.

    CO2 makes green stuff grow better using less water. That feeds everything that depends on green stuff that grows. CO2 reduction does not appear advantageous for any life on earth. What are those people thinking? Oops, it looks like they really don’t think.

  11. It is very difficult for a layman to understand the complexity of power generation, transmission of power and load management let alone risk analysis. Those of us who have been in the power generation industry just shake our heads at folks who think integrating renewables will be a piece of cake. Often times, one doesn’t realize how good they’ve had it until it is lost or severely compromised.

    Renewables do have their place and it is usually for small loads (e.g. lighting) or where the cost of transporting grid power exceeds the installed cost of renewables. However the maintenance costs of renewables is very high coupled with an overall efficiency rating of approx 20%. But I always encourage folks to try it out themselves. Go ahead and invest in renewables – experience is always the best teacher.

    • Peter Lang

      +1

    • PV is working great for me but I designed my own system. 97% of the folks who comment here either can’t deploy it (renter/correct siting), financing or the curiosity to rigorously research the avail;able technology. Living with a PV system requires just a bit more ingenuity than most here would care to invest.
      Click my name for my system stats.

      “Science is a thought process, technology will change reality.”

      • dougbadgero

        Are you off grid? Do you have storage?

      • dougbadgero,
        If you wanted to, could you install a PV system? How would you know how much you really need? Would you actually need storage except for blackouts? I use my Chevy Volt as a backup system for critical loads but if I wanted to go completely off grid I would plan on at least a 60kWh/4KW storage device or about 5 days of stand alone power. When technology reaches a point where I can buy a 60kWh/20yr storage system for less than $4000 I’ll buy one. No hurry right now.

      • dougbadgero

        Then, no and no.

      • You can install as much PV as you like – but if you are on grid I would expect you to pay a grid connection fee and receive spot prices for exported energy.

      • PV systems generate watts of electricity. I expect I will blockchain sell them on the ONCOR grid eventually after deducting grid connection charges. I am still generating Renewable Energy Credits too. Solar is not for everyone but if you know the technology and have a good place to deploy it then it was a better investment than a 20 year bond at rates we have seen the last 8 years. Frankly, looking at the american consumer debt load I’m amazed there is any residential solar being sold at all.

      • Your data shows 100kwh+ variances in week to week production, with actual numbers ranging from 50 kwh to nearly 300 kwh in the period from December 2016 to April 2017.
        What is your actual weekly electricity consumption?
        If it is more than 10 kwh/day, then you’d be going dark fairly frequently if you were entirely reliant on your own solar PV.
        The 300 kwh generation numbers also show that you have a pretty large install – even with 15 hours of daylight per day, it implies a well over 30KW install.
        RCEI data shows over 11000 kwh per household consumption in the US – that’s somewhat under 1000 kwh per month or more like 30 kwh/day.
        My personal household consumption is under 100kwh per month, but I don’t even possess an air conditioner.

      • ticketstopper,
        The link to PVOutPut.org only captures my production data from 2013 but my PV system went online in Jan. 2012. You will note my array is in the top 3% of the 26,940 PV active systems listed.
        My data sources include;
        a) Solar generation monitored on a per panel basis and system totals.
        b) eGuage real time circuit level monitoring +/- .5w of all A/C use.
        c) Smart meter data @ 5min. periods/ 24hr delayed.
        My PV array is 6.7KW, 28 panels/microinverters
        Ground mounted so easy to maintain and clean.
        My average daily grid use is about 10KWH over the last 5 years.
        Since I connected my system to the grid my grand total as of midnight 5/10/2017 is 9.625MW used from the grid, 24.042MW generated and I currently show a net export of 8.031MW.

      • Jacksmith

        Where are you geographically situated? I am interested to know your annual hours of sun?

        Tonyb

      • Tonyb,
        Explore the link at https://www.pvoutput.org/list.jsp?id=12116&sid=10059.
        There are pictures of my array, Insolation data and a mapping function. You can find monitored PV arrays around the world and all the information is free to use.

      • Oops! Looked at the wrong line in my spreadsheet.
        Corrected line:
        Since I connected my system to the grid my grand totals as of midnight 5/10/2017 is 25.373MW used from the grid, 53.787MW generated and I currently show a net export of 8.031MW.

      • You import and export Joules. One Watt for one second is one Joule.

      • Design one for Jamaica, install it, run it for five years and tell us how it worked out. You can probably get 2 % world bank financing.

    • “Renewables do have their place and it is usually for small loads (e.g. lighting)”

      But it’s good for recharging a Tesla, right?
      At night.
      When one is sleeping and not commuting.

    • “But I always encourage folks to try it out themselves.”

      That’s great if it’s truly on their own nickel. But in NC, your neighbor can install a windmill and the power company is required to buy his power at an inflated rate. Same with solar. So this is, partially at least, on my nickel and that of other ratepayers.

      The windmill guy also gets tax credits. Thus he is subsidized by both the taxpayers and the ratepayers. This is nuts and a good deal only for the windmill guy (and “the environment”, I suppose).

    • Steven Mosher

      how did your experience go? since its the best teacher tell us about how you did things

    • Rich,

      Not sure what you mean by 20% efficiency. Our installed wind generation operates at about 29% of nameplate capacity, which I understand as being pretty good for wind.

  12. Peter Lang

    Don’t anyone be misled. South Australia would not have suffered its state-wide black-out if not for it’s high proportion of wind power.

    • “”The most well-known characteristic of wind power, variation of output with wind strength, often termed ‘intermittency’, was not a material factor in the events immediately prior to the black system.” AEMO

    • Peter Lang

      If there had been a high proportion of synchronous generators operating (coal and gas), SA would not have suffered a state wide blackout.

      • If there had been sufficient synchronous condensers – ditto. The unexpected loss of a few wind farms after the collapse of transmission towers leading to complete system shutdown – demonstrates the vulnerability of the system to unexpected generation loss of any type. It was the failure of the system to stabilise supply for a sufficient time for load shedding or generation ramping to kick in.

        I have no dog in the fight – I suggested elsewhere here that coal and gas are the rational choice for Australia. But the system wide failure in South Australia had nothing to do with intermittency – but with voltage and frequency regulation of the grid. It is not an problem specific to wind and solar.

      • dougbadgero

        “An elegant solution to a problem that should never have existed in the first place.”

    • If the coal and gas plats had not been shut down as a result of interventions by the ideologically driven South Australian state government to implement a high proportion of renewables, the state wide black out would not have occurred. if the coal plants had not been shut down and the gas plants not mothballed and others shut down, the black out would not have happened. The principal difference is that the power stations are located where necessary to supply the load centres – not hundreds of kilometers away as is the case with wind farms. Therefore, even if some transmission lines are disabled, the power is still supplied to the load centres. The principal difference between weather dependent renewables and fuel powered generators (coal, gas nuclear) is that the energy is stored in the fuel; the fuel is transported to and stored at the power station until needed. the power stations can be located where needed, not where hills provide suitable locations for wind farms.

      Others reading here should not believe the selective quotes being posted here. Read the whole report and also read it with blinkers removed. There is enormous pressure applied AEMO from various stake holders (especially the AS state Government) on AEMO to include careful wording to allow everyone and out, and selective quoting. The facts are plain for all to see. the high proportion of wind pwer, the high dependency on it, and the fact that there was insufficient synchronous generators in operation near the main load centres is the real cause of the state wide blackout.

      BTW, anyone following and quoting from RenewEconomy is bound to be an extreme RE advocate.

      • The renew economy link integrates information to show the energy mix today. It is not controversial.

        The problem was voltage drops causing a few farms to drop out. But unexpected outages can come from any generator and the system has insufficient voltage and frequency regulation to cope until load shedding and supply ramping kicks in.

        So a few wind farms dropped out and precipitated total system shutdown.

      • Robert, your comment does not include factors known to be relevant to the discussion:
        1. How often do drops occur;
        2. How long does it occur;
        3. How predictable is the occurrence;
        4. What is the hysteresis.

        With fossil fuels, most are planned shutdowns. The amount, timing,and lags are known. With each dispatchable source, the ramp up if in hot standby is known, and the time from a cold start, as well. All of this is part of the preparation for a stable net.

        For wind, it has random drops, and random increases and decreases. The system has to have a way to address or there is stability loss. The length is not only not known, but can be intermittent not just as a total, but each input. The occurrences for wind are mainly unpredictable, with estimates given to try to band varying output that can include outages and overages. Hysteresis is mainly known for dense energy systems and can only be estimated for wind, since it is not dispatchable.

        The answer by Peter was correct, they estimated what wind required and were wrong. With wind this risk is a given. It was known. They did not have the correct answer. It was because of replacing dispatchable with intermittent.

      • A few transmission towers blew down in high winds causing voltage drops over a few seconds. This tripped too sensitive control settings and 345 MW of wind power dropped out. This resulted in a complete system shutdown as a result of too little power and frequency regulation.

        Power may drop out for any of a number of reasons – especially in extreme weather. The problem is voltage and frequency regulation – not wind farms as such.

      • Robert, as you point out, this tripped “too sensitive” control settings. But from what I read the control settings were “sensitive” because of the wide range and quick acting response of wind power generation as compared to the rest of system response and grid synchronization. And this is just one event.

        There have been several events where the spot cost was $9,000 to $14,000 MWh. Each time, there was a blaming of a system component rather than that the system is trying to accommodate such a variable source.

        Yes, I have lived through problems with extreme weather, transportation crashing into relays, etc. Not to mention spikes when units come on.

        The problems with adding renewables center around the accommodations that have to be done. Stating it is too sensitive without the criteria of determining what that means is not a reason to say it is not wind accommodation that caused the problem.

      • “On Wednesday 28 September 2016, tornadoes with wind speeds in the range of 190–260 km/h occurred in areas of South Australia.

        Two tornadoes almost simultaneously damaged a single circuit 275 kilovolt (kV) transmission line and a double circuit 275 kV transmission line, some 170 km apart.

        The damage to these three transmission lines caused them to trip, and a sequence of faults in quick succession resulted in six voltage dips on the SA grid over a two-minute period at around 4.16 pm.

        As the number of faults on the transmission network grew, nine wind farms in the mid-north of SA exhibited a sustained reduction in power as a protection feature activated. For eight of these wind farms, the protection settings of their wind turbines allowed them to withstand a pre-set number of voltage dips within a two-minute period. Activation of this protection feature resulted in a significant sustained power reduction for these wind farms. A sustained generation reduction of 456 megawatts (MW) occurred over a period of less than seven seconds.

        The reduction in wind farm output caused a significant increase in imported power flowing through the Heywood Interconnector. Approximately 700 milliseconds (ms) after the reduction of output from the last of the wind farms, the flow on the Victoria–SA Heywood Interconnector reached such a level that it activated a special protection scheme that tripped the interconnector offline.

        The SA power system then became separated (“islanded”) from the rest of the NEM. Without any substantial load shedding following the system separation, the remaining generation was much less than the connected load and unable to maintain the islanded system frequency.

        As a result, all supply to the SA region was lost at 4.18 pm (the Black System). AEMO’s analysis shows that following system separation, frequency collapse and the consequent Black System was inevitable.” https://www.aemo.com.au/-/media/Files/Electricity/NEM/Market_Notices_and_Events/Power_System_Incident_Reports/2017/Integrated-Final-Report-SA-Black-System-28-September-2016.pdf

        So the fix for the windfarms was a software fix. Gas generators had insufficient time to ramp up – or for the system to shed load. The question to be asked is whether the system should be more resilient to unexpected loss of power.

  13. This is in Australian dollars. Sans a ‘renewables target’ or an ’emissions intensity scheme’ – the economically rational energy mix is supercritical coal and gas combined cycle. Wind is vaguely competitive – and I don’t mind if altruists spend their own money on solar. Rational policy is not have targets or an EIS. The latter is a variation of emissions trading – rising again as a warmed over corpse. The problem with putting energy policy in the hands of radical economists. If all you have is fiscal policy, everything looks like a tax.

    Our gas prices are too high – but in a country set to be the worlds bigger exporter this is easily fixed. But both coal and gas prices seem likely to increase in real terms in the mid term – as reserve recovery costs increase, production peaks and global demand increases.

    I expect that advanced nuclear will be cost competitive within a decade or so. But so too will be wind and solar. And the PJM reports suggest scope for increased penetration. A higher penetration conserves gas reserves and will keep gas generation costs lower for longer. Swings and roundabouts.

  14. I have installed solar panels on bush material huts – but it is not the global solution needed.

    “A recent analysis from the Center for Global Development, for instance, estimates that if $10 billion were invested in renewable energy technology in sub-Saharan Africa, then 30 million would gain access to electricity. If the same amount of money was given to gas-fired generation, it would supply around 90 million – or three times as many people.

    Commitment to a high-energy planet, the authors argue, “empowers growth and development using the broadest array of energy services, technologies, and policies that can meet the manifold needs of developing societies.” https://thebreakthrough.org/index.php/programs/energy-and-climate/our-high-energy-planet

    • I’ve worked in the bush in subsaharan Africa, and I can’t visualize having a solar panel on each hut. Those huts aren’t built to take such a gadget. But let’s say you mount it on a steel pole next to the hut. This has to be a fairly tall pole to avoid theft. The wire has to run inside the pole to avoid theft, and then it can be run to a smaller pole which pokes through the roof. This will require grounding and surge protection to avoid having a lightning bolt fry the hut. Inside the hut we can put a battery pack to run a light bulb, and what else? A small fridge? What exactly do you think it’s like out there? Also, don’t forget to include the AK47 and 50 rounds the owner needs to keep the panel, poles, wires, batteries and light bulbs from being looted.

      An alternative, I guess, is a community solar panel where they can come charge their cell phones and electricity is generated for a community fridge they can put where guards keep an eye on it.

      For large towns, say Nairobi, this isn’t going to work. They probably can use some wind and hydro. Maybe even geothermal. But the solar option at high penetration isn’t that good. Even if the Norwegians give the panels away.

      • Pole houses with pretty sound construction – but bush materials none the less. Integrated battery packs powering lights for the kitchen and porch, battery charger, 12V outlets, DVD player, small 240V inverter and electronic keyboard. Which I paid for myself. A couple of thousand dollars all up. Not a global solution as I said. Do you not actually read past the first sentence?

        On a matralinear island paradise in the South Pacific. Just a volcanic mountain in a vast expanse of ocean. No guns. The sacred rainbow serpent lives at the top of the mountain and protects the sea eagle clan. They did however eat the first missionaries.

      • They have perennial creeks running down the mountain to a rocky shoreline every 100m or so. High quality water with amazing freshwater prawns. Easily sufficient to power micro-hydro – much more energy. The option was discounted because they didn’t have the technical skills to maintain it. Do you – or are you just prattling on?

      • Community solar is currently being funded by Mercy Corp, based in Portland, OR

      • Meaningless effort for a continent with enormous population growth

    • I live in a condo by the beach in Spain. I dont have a DVD player, but we have a room where we design circuit boards and build gadgets. My favorite dish is Cantabrian Chilindron. The electricity supply is really steady, but a few weeks ago we had a close call when the French started taking too much power for their grid and the wind wasn’t blowing as needed.

  15. “Today’s optimized coal-fired power plants are able to operate at a partial-load level of less than 20% of full-load capacity.”

    “The change (i.e., ramp) between partial load and full load at (coal) power plants involves load changes of approximately three percentage points per minute, and the change in mode of operation can therefore be achieved at all plants in less than half an hour.”

    http://cornerstonemag.net/the-flexibility-of-german-coal-fired-power-plants-amid-increased-renewables/

    The idea is that coal in Germany when combined with natural gas can follow the load. In one of the plots, coal is doing the large majority of the work and natural gas provides the agility.

    The Germans did not accept what is probably conventional wisdom that says coal is just baseload. My guess is they have coal and natural gas is more expensive. If it is more expensive, that’s signaling what is in our future. If you bet on both, you are going to be wrong, but only half wrong. Not all right or all wrong.

    I supposed we’ve heard of German grid problems. I don’t think they care. Are we under estimating them? Who would think that coal can help follow the load?

    What I am after is utilizing all this coal we have. This would tend to reduce natural gas prices. So is it a contest between natural gas and coal? The idea of coal withering assumes natural gas prices will not rise too much. There will no shocks to the supply. Having it even with thin margins, provides back up.

    • The future is here. In parts of the US efficient combined cycle plants have had lower incremental costs then many coal plants for some time and pushed ahead of them in the dispatch stack. Coal is more challenging lower in he stack because of minimum down times and start up. Unlike gas they typically can’t be shut down for the night and easily restarted. Some plants go off on weekends, others sit out for longer periods while gas picks up the base load.

      • Peter Lang

        What is the expected life of the USA’s gas resource?

      • Most power system equipment and elements in the US (except things like protective relays and renewables which are a question mark) is kept in service way past the “studied” life and the “financed” life. The provided link says the average age of US NGST is 45 , though it cites the typical retirement is 42, The average age of the fleet is reduced because a lot of units went in 15 to 30 years ago so 42 seems somewhar low to me. I’ve seen them go longer and not seen many retirements yet. http://www.powermag.com/americas-aging-generation-fleet/

      • Peter Lang

        Planning Engineer,

        Sorry, my question wasn’t clear. I was asking about how long the US natural gas reserves will last if consumed for all purposes plus electricity generation as electricity consumption increases through this century and thereafter. My implication was to ask: is it wise to be burning the world’s remaining fossil fuel resources given there is an alternative (and the alternative is safer and potentially much cheaper)?

      • PL, depends on future LNG exports. Given the new TRR revisions to Haynesville and Bossier shales (up ~200Tcf), at least 100 years of US consumption at projected rate of increase (mostly old coal to new CCGT). Remenber, Utica shale is likely larger TRR than Marcellus (presently estimated at 420Tcf), but has almost no present assigned TRR because as yet largely undrilled beyond the oil window. But not if US starts to supply the rest of the world also.

      • Peter, the gas resource life span depends on growth and exports/imports from Canada. Do remember that Mother Nature usually causes these fields to decline exponentially.

        A gas field is designed to have a set capacity (the choke can be the plant, the pipeline, but seldom it’s the wells, which have a bit of over capacity).

        Eventually the wells can’t deliver the system capacity and decline exponentially. So you can do a rough calculation assuming the system delivers X BCF per day, hits the limit, and begins to decline. To draw the way it comes down multiply each years average rate by say 0.96 (it can be much higher or lower, this is an example).

        A more educated from is to use q sub t = e to the power of (t times decline rate), and associated formulas. I guess I could scribble them on paper, take a photo and put it on Twitter if you want.

      • Peter Lang

        fernandoleanme,

        The answer would be in years, not a pile of waffle with no answer to the question.

      • Trump just cut a deal with China to buy our LNG so it must be profitable at current prices but if for some reason the price of gas goes too high then things might look different.
        Considering the efficiency of using LNG there are so many steps:
        production well head,
        to compressed pipeline network,
        to feed stock reservoir,
        to LNG train,
        to refrigerated shipping depot,
        to refrigerated transport (ship/rail/truck),
        to refrigerated storage tanks,
        to power plant or industrial user,
        to transmission grid,
        to end user.

        Input one Mcf (1.032 MMBtu) = ??

    • I think you will find the pollution control equipment for coal plants run into regulatory emissions problems at around 50% load. Ditto for combustion (gas) turbines.

      • Also, the EPA has been leaning on gas turbines for emissions (NOx) during load changes. Hard to say if that will change under Trump.

      • At 50%, is it the CO2 or heavy metals or black carbon that is the issue?

      • NOx for both, coal SO2, particulates and possibly Mercury. CO2 is not currently regulated.

      • Typically coal plants as modelled within transmission software have minimum limits of around 50%. I believe it’s similar for Combined cycle plants, but that Simple CTs were more flexible.

      • I worked with a couple of coal-fired power plants burning PRB that retrofit advanced LNB and SNCR for NOX and baghouses for everything else. They had no problems with NOX, SO2, particulates or Mercury with low loads, still some issues with load ramp rates. I know of other facilities with different technologies that had the issues Kellermfk describes.

    • This libertarian would like to elaborate. Suggesting a future for coal in the United States can be thought of as a financial hedge. Natural gas is the popular thing right now. It hasn’t always been that way. Researching and building advanced agile coal power seems more tractable than a few things that have been discussed. On par with biofuels perhaps?

      What does have coal going forward. It rarely explodes. Storage is easier. Rail and sea transportation is low tech and safer. Exporting advanced coal technology might work someday. How about to Africa? There is just so much coal.

      What do we know about economic substitutes. One lowers the cost of the other, all other things being equal. Here I am talking about coal and natural gas, not renewables. In the extreme one could argue renewables not including hydro are substitutes, but very weak ones accompanied by mandates. You have to eat so much of this, even if you don’t want to.

      • Pulverized coal & dust are a major fire hazards and have caused numerous explosions & fires. I think the Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle would be a better option than a Supercritical Pulverized Coal Plant. There are other variants on the IGCC that readily meet both existing and proposed EPA regulations. However, the gas power plant is tough to beat because the build cost ($/KW) is exceptionally low.

      • One big benefit for coal is that it is able to be stockpiled for spikes in demand. The same cannot be said for natural gas – the polar vortex caused demand spike resulted in enormous cost increases, because neither large capacity storage nor increase in production capacity is possible.
        That said, the same basis for coal storage is its problem: ash and combustion by products.

      • ticketstopper: “One big benefit for coal is that it is able to be stockpiled for spikes in demand.”

        As Margaret Thatcher worked out in the early 1980’s, the ability to stockpile coal has other advantages.

        The NUM (National Union of Mineworkers) had boasted for decades that it could bring any British government to its knees by stopping coal supplies to power stations through strike action. Maggie was determined to take on the NUM to prove then wrong. From 1979 to 1983 she slowly built up coal stockpiles, and then appointed a chairman of The National Coal Board with a brief to close uneconomic mines. The miners duly went on strike, but the stockpiles of coal outlasted their will to fight.

        The moral of the story is that sitting on a mountain of bankable energy reduces your vulnerability to every type of disruption, including those of the man-made variety.

  16. Peter Lang

    Planning Engineer,

    Thank you for another informative post. Most interesting.

    I would like to ask you to explain your reasons for this statement:

    I would like to be clear that I believe that renewables including wind and solar have a role today and should be expected to have a growing role in the future. I believe that certain levels of intermittent renewables can be accommodated without or with minimal adverse impacts upon the system.

    I agree that certain levels of intermittent renewables can be accommodated with minimal adverse impacts. But just because they “can be accommodated”, does that mean they should? What do they offer that other technologies don’t? Do they improve the supply reliability? Do they reduce overall system costs? What is the advantage of including them?

    • Thanks Peter. As regards the first sentence above, reasons would relate to resource diversity and R&D type concerns coupled with being responsive To concerns and desires of the public. It’s debatable.

      • I’m sure that Planning Engineer is very good in transmission planning. However, his depth and breadth of knowledge in integrated system resource planning appears to be lacking in his posts. We know that Lang has no professional or higher-education experience in the tools that professional system planners use (e.g., G.E. MAPS type models) or is taught at every major engineering school (like the Univ. of Chicago).

        Anyone having this type of in-depth experience/knowledge would answer Lang’s above question differently. Using these planning/modeling tools, planners are simulating the electric utility grid with hundreds of scenarios to find the combination of “integrated system” options which represent the lowest “System” cost (called engineering economics).

        The last time I checked, solar’s penetration level in the U.S. was about one-half of 1%. So with this “big picture” context, there is no conspiracy theory currently going on in decision making. For the most part in the U.S., the addition of Renewables plus flexible combined cycle NG units is simply picking off (replacing) high-cost marginal cost units on the System Economic Dispatch.

      • Stephen invokes the reverse appeal to authority. It’s still a logical fallacy.

      • Stephen – by all means provide an alternative answer to Peter.

        But please don’t take me to your ridiculous extremes. I certainly am not making the case that wind and solar never make economic sense or am I arguing that they never appear on the grid because they actually make stand alone sense in a production costing and financial planning models. It’s a big country with a lot of variance – wind and solar do make sense in many applications. I support all applications that make sense on their own merits. (Sorry if my failure to clarify that caused any general confusion.)

        My answer to Peter interpreted his question as asking, why I would support levels of wind and solar above that (obvious?) threshold of economic justification. Maybe you know Peter better than I do – perhaps he is against every application of solar and wind. But my assumption (and experience) is that he is reasonable enough that I don’t have to go back to the basic level where you are taking issue to explain to Peter what I think is seemingly undebatable issue that when resources are economic economic and beneficial should be pursued.

      • Stephen – I have not been exposed to the world you seem to see where people with power and influence are opposed to cost effective wind and solar. I do see the other side where wind and solar are pushed beyond their merits by people with power and influence. I am willing to go with them a little bit.

        Stephen – do you believe there is some sort of conspiracy or bias among relevant decision makers to favor fossil fuel over more economic wind and solar? In answering Peter’s question I gave my reason for supporting somewhat of a bias for wind and solar over fossil fuels. Do you agree with me there?

      • Planning Engineer — Why are you and folks like Rud Istvan most often silent when Lang (and others like him) says so many things that are incorrect or cherry-picked?

        For example, on the tax subsidies that Lang constantly posts at CE on Renewables: You never mention that (1) the tax credit for wind and new nuclear is almost identical; (2) Existing investor-owned nuclear plants got a ~11% Investment Tax Credit (if the IOU set up an ESOP) when they were placed in service.

        An objective comparison of tax subsidies would be to present value the ITC nuclear units got in the 1980’s and then compare “that” amount to current Renewables.

      • Planning Engineer — As a transmission consultant for Oglethorpe and MEAG your “hands on” experience has to be with the Southern Co. With Southern’s low penetration level with Renewables — what in the world are you talking about in your above statement?

      • I can’t speak for Rud and others. There is no cabal here.

        The current posting ends “…I will gladly work on a column to seek to correct any such misimpressions.”
        I had written but edited out additional wording to the effect:

        “Please note – this is not an offer to police individual comments or commentators.”
        My general answer:
        I don’t have infinite time. My opportunity windows are big at time and narrow at others. I try very hard to make more time when I have made a posting. I certainly don’t always read all the comments. I don’t have an equal interest in all areas. I Somethings I strongly disagree with, others are more grey. I don’t always have something particular to say. If I wait others often have better responses than me. I try not to jump in on opinions. People look at the world differently than I do and different and even conflicting perspectives can both be reasonable. I think we should strive to have common facts as much as possible.
        Specific example – reading through comments I generally glaze over on tax credits. My “opinion” is that they are good way to get you to do something you might not have done otherwise and more than you would think they push you to do something you are going to regret. I don’t want to engage on where the blame lies here, but certainly there are some regrets around nuclear choices these days.

      • Stephen – I am not a consultant for MEAG or Oglethorpe.

        I am not limiting my discussion to Georgia.

        In any case Georgia has a bit of solar and a lot is on the table.
        http://www.seia.org/research-resources/top-10-solar-states

        Your comment/question/accusation is ill-formed and largely unintelligible. Are your referring to my questions as statements? What do you mean? Make your case. You vaguely question things without answering follow ups.

      • Again, my problem here at CE is the receptiveness for objectivity. Another example is that people here at CE go “crazy” over things like the DOE Loan guarantee for Solyndra — but not a peep about the very real possibility of default on the Vogtle Units (Southern Co.) DOE loan guarantees.

      • Peter Lang

        Planning Enfgineer,,

        Please do not respond to Segrest about.

        Segrest is repetitively dishonest. He is not a Professional Engineer and lacks the ethics expected of professional engineers. He continually misrepresents what I’ve said, even after being corrected numerous times. He even writes emails to other people I’ve never even communicated with, such as Michael Shellenbeger and misrepresents what I’ve said.

        Regarding the subsidies for renewables, this is a chart of the EIA’s analysis of Federal Government subsidies for renewables, nuclear, and other technologies.

        The EU subsidies for renewables are similarly exorbitant.

        Subsidies for renewables in selected European countries, 2015 [€/MWh]
        Country France Germany UK
        bioenergy 94.85 153.68 63.13
        hydro 35.21 62.3 73.27
        solar 354.07 276.8 155.19
        wind onshore 50.98 68.82 72.26
        wind offshore – 154.58 61.53
        Source: Council of European Energy Regulators, 2017, Status Review of Renewable Support Schemes in Europe, Table 9
        http://www.ceer.eu/portal/page/portal/EER_HOME/EER_PUBLICATIONS/CEER_PAPERS/Electricity/2017

      • Planning Engineer – Did I misunderstand a bio you referenced a while back about you being a consulting transmission engineer for Muni’s and Co-ops in Georgia? If so, what do you do in Georgia?

      • Peter Lang

        Planning Engineer,

        Just to confirm this assumption is correct:

        But my assumption (and experience) is that he is reasonable enough that I don’t have to go back to the basic level where you are taking issue to explain to Peter what I think is seemingly undebatable issue that when resources are economic economic and beneficial should be pursued.

        I advocate economically rational solutions. Ideally, all unwarranted government mandated market distortions would be removed. Of course this is impossible, but that’s where we should be heading, not adding more interventions, especially on the scale of mandating and subsidising renewables.

        If renewables are economically viable without being mandated by laws, regulations, incentives and subsidies investors will invest in them. However, the information I have seen is that is not even close to being the case. Without the subsidies and other incentives (and disincentives for other technologies) none would be built (except off-grid And fringe of grid).

      • Stephen, the default in the Vogtle Units and those at VC Summer can be found here http://www.kccllc.net/westinghouse/document/1710751170329000000000036
        It was cost overruns associated with delays from regulators and environmental activists. Since money was collected from consumers prior to construction there were penalty charges for delays, which were also caused by the regulatory and environmental activists actions.

      • Peter – Thanks for you advice and concern. I try to respond to any question that seems reasonable despite it’s source. But I do need to avoid some of these exchanges with people who take no responsibility for their position (i.e refuse to answer any questions similar to what they are asking) but just want to throw rocks.

      • aporiac1960

        Stephen Segrest: “called engineering economics”

        When has an engineer ever recommended solar or wind on engineering grounds? It has happened so rarely that in rule of thumb engineering terms it can be considered as never having happened.

        The “engineering economics” that you talk about is better known by engineers who are familiar with their discipline as “clipboard engineering”. In other words, it is pure politics.

        Engineering is a human activity like any other, and where there are humans there will be scumbags.

        When has an engineer ever recommended solar or wind on engineering grounds? It has happened so rarely that in rule of thumb engineering terms it can be considered as never having happened. However, scumbags get everywhere and so it happens all the time.

      • Wind is a pretty good option in some cases. For example, let’s say you have a remote oil field in a windy area, want to install a remote telemetry system, but don’t want to have a generator. The answer is a small turbine, batteries, a microwave tower, and the remote unit inside a heavy gage steel cabinet. The wells can be monitored for pressure, temperature, noise level (we use noise to estimate flow rate), and also for security purposes (small video cameras are used to keep an eye on the wells as well as monitor access roads. The beauty of it is that if the batteries run low you can send a guy in a pickup to charge them, but the wind in some areas is actually very reliable.

  17. Peter Lang

    France’s electricity has been 76% nuclear for 30 years. It is reliable, cheap and, with CO2 emissions intensity of 0.044 tCO2/MWh, it is amongst the lowest emissions intensity electricity systems in the major economies of the world.

    75% nuclear and 25% gas would give an emissions intensity of around 0.1 tCO2/MWh. Replace half the gas with hydro would give emissions intensity of 0.05 t/MWh (close to France’s).

    Proven economic and reliable.

  18. It is dismaying to see that seemingly intelligent persons such as within your group, are getting totally confused in support of man-made global warming. To state just a few alternative real facts: 1) Warming and cooling of the earth has occurred many, many times in the history of this planet, with the earth’s climate being much hotter and much colder than today. The fact that mankind is present in large numbers is no reason to blame mankind! 2) During warming episodes in the past, increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has always followed the warming event, not preceded it – thus eliminating CO2 as the cause. 3) Not one person alive or dead has been able to accurately put together all causes of climate change and accurately predict future climate. However, we know that climate is influenced by over 200 different inputs or factors. It is incredibly naïve to believe that a gas called carbon dioxide which constitutes 0.04% of the atmosphere can control climate! How dumb can you possibly be! Water vapour, which constitutes a much larger fraction of the atmosphere has naturally, a much greater influence on climate! There are so many other arguments to say that carbon dioxide is not the cause of climate change, but perhaps you should be reading some actual scientific reports on this subject. Don’t you think it is time for you as a group, to get properly educated on the subject of your communication? Sincerely………….Allan Eisenbarth Perth, Australia

    • I think you are missing the point of the essay. Namely the impacts of renewables on the grid. Whether or not renewables are needed is another issue.

    • CO2 works like drinking two beers. They don’t control you but they do make you walk sooner to the bathroom.

  19. Planning Engineer, thank you for the essay.

  20. List of renewable sources of 100% renewable energy:
    1. Burning wood delivered by…
    2, Horses, oxen…
    3. Hydroelectric (but built using 100s of millions of gallons of diesel fuel)
    4. Expensive, undependable wind power
    5. Expensive, undependable Chinese-made solar panels

  21. Geoff Sherrington

    It is disappointing to work through so many typos, so much poor spelling and punctuation and the abundance of turgid prose by both the primary author and a fair percent of bloggers. Comprehension is better without the tennis audience syndrome that causes the eyes to move back and forth from error to error.
    It is more disappointing to encounter the high frequency of assertions by bloggers that unlikely scenarios should be taken seriously. To be blunt, nobody needs to discuss the economics of energy from solar and wind and the storage storage thereof, for two big reasons. 1. Apart from boutique applications that are easy to identify in advance, there is no practical need for solar or wind electrical generation, for reasons like cost, intermittency, frequency disruption that were identified decades ago. 2. The optimum generation mix for a scenario is bread-and-butter work for many engineers in the supply industry, professionals with access to prime data and the capability to work at a higher plane of comprehension than the bloggers here. Why even try to invent problems and scenarios and then invent imaginary solutions?
    The grid scale pecking order for types of generation in the 1960s was nuclear, coal, oil, gas fairly equal, hydro when geography favoured, then a very large gap to “alternative energy”, particularly wind then solar. From an engineering or design perspective, not much has changed apart from some better efficiencies from solar converters. This gain only partially offsets the major problem of intermittency.
    Of course, some will respond that THE major change since the 60s has been global warming recognition. If it is accepted that CO2 should be reduced the pecking order changes to put fossil fuels lower down between nuclear/hydro and alt energy, thus putting more importance on nuclear.
    If CO2 is not an issue, there is no way that solar and wind should be on the menu at all, apart from the boutique applications that sum to insignificance.
    Most countries today have deviated from the pecking order and have added complication after complication to increase difficulty. It is a rather serious mess, but one with an easy, known solution.
    Stick to the regular pecking order.
    This will read as elementary or dumbed down or ignorant, but it really is well past the time to go back to basics. Failure is near certain for those who put finesse upon finesse upon invalid assumption upon bog ignorance then join the chattering class.
    Geoff

    • Geoff – could you please go to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and make your argument to him? I agree with your main point that discussions of renewable energy penetration are needless if the fundamentals are considered, but in the current political climate there are many advocates clamoring for more and more renewables and many politicians like Cuomo eager to push that agenda. His energy vision simultaneously has his own war on coal, subsidizes some nuclear units, shuts down other nuclear units, all the while encouraging more and more renewables which completely ignores the regular pecking order. Consequently I am grateful to PE for his exposes of the technical challenges inherent in pushing renewable penetration if for no other reason than it gives me ammunition for counter arguments.

    • Not sure exactly how to interpret/deconstruct this sentence:

      I’m not sure what you mean by pecking order. Two potential things and neither of those seem quite right. The first would be to refer to which resource is overall the best or most economic. One can not argue that in the 1960’s nuclear was generally superior to coal, or that coal was superior to gas. It depended on the load and existing resource balance of the particular utility.
      As Stephen Segrest would agree there is not an overall best resource, or individual lowest cost answer. There were and are distinct needs for baseload, intermediate and peaking resources. The answer to each segment is different. No combined pecking order would work. In terms of the pecking order for peaking resources nuclear comes in dead last. If you can endure the prose, this post explains in more detail: https://judithcurry.com/2014/12/11/all-megawatts-are-not-equal/

      If by peaking order you mean to refer to dispatch order, there are other problems. In terms of incremental cost nuclear remains cheapest, that part would be correct. With efficient combined cycle units and varying gas prices coal and gas plants flip in the dispatch order with gas often retaining the upper hand. Oil today?? Hydro typically falls into run of the river or more often there is some storage. With storage it is held for peak conditions (or operational needs) and does not really fit in with the concept of dispatching resources based on their incremental costs. Similarly solar and wind now have top priority for dispatch because of their low incremental costs. So it does not really make sense to speak of dispatch order as defining overall desirability of any particular resource.

      • My attempt to highlight my quotation from your post – removed it. Here it is.

        The grid scale pecking order for types of generation in the 1960s was nuclear, coal, oil, gas fairly equal, hydro when geography favoured, then a very large gap to “alternative energy”, particularly wind then solar.

  22. “Generation Diversity?” How about Energy that is abundant, reliable and inexpensive? Who cares how and where the energy comes from just as long as it is abundant, inexpensive and reliable? The only reason for “generation diversity” I can think of is for National Security where we would want smaller more numerous generation facilities located is areas that would be difficult to attack, and are well protected and hardened. Wind and solar are the easiest to take out with a bombing run. Solar is nothing but exposed glass, wind are easy to topple turbines. Green energy is our enemy’s dream come true.

  23. Berényi Péter

    Liquid salt nuclear reactors are as good as renewable, only they can handle base load as well as transients. The only question is price, but it is not fuel price, because a ton of ordinary granite, the default stuff continents are made of contains as much recoverable energy as fifty tons of coal. Therefore we shall not run out of this energy source before the sun turns into a red giant and roasts the Earth, so it works exactly like a renewable source of energy. But we have much better ores than that for a long time (tens of thousands of years).

    Not even nuclear waste would build up over time, because it can be run at close to 100% fuel efficiency, which means we shall have a hundred times less waste for a given energy output than in our current low efficiency Cold War Plutonium factories, with no long half life radio isotopes left in it whatsoever. Their radiation decreases to environmental levels in several centuries, and that’s it.

    Then their inherent safety is not even mentioned, due to passive cooling on shutdown, operation on atmospheric pressure, chemically inert composition and their negative temperature coefficient of reactivity, which means there is no way for them to blow up or even catch fire.

    With this energy source it is easy to manufacture hydrocarbon fuels from limestone and water on demand, none of which is in short supply.

    • I think you have badly overlooked the formidable engineering, operational, maintenance and safety issues with the technology. The road from an academic exercise to a useful, economic product is long and difficult, with success a low probability event.

      • Berényi Péter

        Certainly not longer than for nuclear fusion, where orders of magnitude more money was spent, with tangible results always a decade or two away.

        In this case the road blocks all have an engineering and/or regulatory nature, no basic research is needed.

        The point is we do have a long term solution for our energy supply problems, basically proven fifty years ago at Oak Ridge.

        And the technology is inherently safe, unlike our current solid fuel nuclear cycle, for simple physical reasons.

        That said, we should use coal, oil &. gas as long as it is available and cheap.

        But neither solar nor wind power is needed beyond that point, technological civilization can survive without them.

      • I think “inherent safety” remains unproven, particularly when you use highly radioactive, exceptionally hot fluids with steam generators. The amount of radiation in the systems also create vexing maintenance issues.
        Please note the competition is all power generation, not water reactors.

      • So, were are all these extremely hot, highly radioactive fluids in this diagram???

      • Jim, that particular design does not have a steam generator, as you noted. Still left with tough material and maintenance (radioactive contaimination) issues. Also, difficult to provide convincing regulatory defense for dealing with all the radioactive material in the systems and in storage. Will have to convince the NRC that gases/materials will not get loose. Suspect that will be very tough job.

      • Berényi Péter

        particularly when you use highly radioactive, exceptionally hot fluids with steam generators

        No steam generators, no water in the system at all. It’s imperative, since water is an extremely aggressive chemical at high temperature.

        Use an inert gas in the turbines instead as working fluid. In that case it can be run at a much higher temperature as well, up to 800C, improving energy conversion efficiency, because boiling point of molten salt is 1500C, so pressure in the core can still be kept low.

        Also, amount of radioactive fuel in core is orders of magnitude smaller at any one time, than in solid fuel reactors. So even a direct meteorite hit has much smaller consequences.

        There was an actual experimental reactor of this kind in Oak Ridge between 1965 and 1969.

        see also: Why the Molten Salt Reactor (MSR) was not Developed by the USA

        It is a sad story.

      • Not related to molten salt designs, but my dad worked in I&C design for the oak Ridge gas cooled reactor. Also on reactor control systems for the Seawolf’s sodium cooled reactor. They built an operating commercial nuke plant – Ft St Vrain – which was gas cooled. Only problem – they put all of the pumps and motors inside containment. But from a conceptual standpoint, gas cooling was proven viable and would have been from an operational stand point if someone hadn’t had their head well inserted.

    • But is MSR economically viable in an era of LWR? For instance, it’s been known for a long time that vast quantities of thorium can be extracted from seawater, but there are few commercial applications yet.

      MSR does seem to have a promising future in producing power using nuclear waste from LWRs.

      I’ve been watching fusion for a long time and would rate that an open question as well. There are some exciting new designs like Polywell, FRCs, and whatever you call what Lockheed is doing, and NASA is even taking a modestly serious glance at LENR, but commercial applications again seem a decade away at best.

    • Curious George

      “The only question is price.” A bigger question is availability. These are attractive but unproven technologies.

  24. Gail Tverberg analyzed the grid impacts of wind and solar and came to a pessimistic conclusion:

    In fact, I have come to the rather astounding conclusion that even if wind turbines and solar PV could be built at zero cost, it would not make sense to continue to add them to the electric grid in the absence of very much better and cheaper electricity storage than we have today. There are too many costs outside building the devices themselves. It is these secondary costs that are problematic. Also, the presence of intermittent electricity disrupts competitive prices, leading to electricity prices that are far too low for other electricity providers, including those providing electricity using nuclear or natural gas. The tiny contribution of wind and solar to grid electricity cannot make up for the loss of more traditional electricity sources due to low prices.

    https://rclutz.wordpress.com/2016/09/24/climateers-tilting-at-windmills-updated/

    • As Australia is finding out, though many refuse to acknowledge the evidence. Major outages are expected in the two biggest states during heatwaves in the next two summers. South Australia, a smaller state, already suffers serious unreliability leading to the withdrawal of industry and investment.

      • Peaking power seems a difficult problem. It is needed for 20-59 hours in some years.

        “On 10 February 2017, wholesale electricity spot prices reached $12 915/MWh in New South Wales and $12 221/MWh in Queensland at 5pm. Spot prices in New South Wales also reached $13 967/MWh at 5.30 pm and $14 000/MWh at 6 pm.

        The AER’s analysis found the following factors contributed to the high prices:

        High temperatures (38 degrees in Sydney and 33 degrees in Brisbane) led to high demand for electricity in both states.
        A number of generators in New South Wales experienced technical difficulties late in the day. This significantly reduced available low priced local electricity supply. Higher priced supply was needed to meet the demand, causing the spot price to increase rapidly to above $12 000/MWh in both states at 5 pm.
        More electricity was imported into New South Wales than the network could manage. When imbalances like these occur the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) must return the power system to safe state as quickly as possible. To address the imbalance, AEMO instructed a large industrial customer in New South Wales to temporarily reduce its load by 290 MW, avoiding the need to interrupt electricity supply to households and small businesses.”

        What we need to do is open up gas production again and hit co-generation hard by some 3GW on the east coast. Install it in hospitals, schools, universities, government buildings, parliament house, industry, etc. http://www.cleanenergycouncil.org.au/technologies/cogeneration-trigeneration.html

        The South Australian event is quite different – occurred in an extreme event with up to 260km/h winds when several transmission towers blew over. This transient voltage drops caused overly sensitive control settings at some wind farms caused them to trip out and a 345MW supply was shut down. There has been a software fix for this.

        The loss of power tripped the entire system – including the interconnector to Victoria. It wasn’t the operation of the wind farms – and it certainly wasn’t intermittency. It was the loss of power – which may occur anywhere in the system under extreme conditions – and stability was not maintained long enough for gas generators to ramp up or for the system to shed load. The grid itself seems challenged – and that’s not limited to South Australia.

        You – and the rest of these Luddites – may wail and gnash your teeth at windfarms – but it is quite pointless and probably misguided.

      • Faustino, you and Robert are talking about the technical problem of reliable supply of electricity. In addition, Tverberg is drawing attention to the unsustainable economics of adding intermittent sources like wind and solar. Energy from wind and solar, when it comes, is cost-free to the grid (already paid for), so baseload suppliers must curtail in those periods and lose revenue. Eventually, in a commercial grid, the baseload companies go under.

  25. There was a time in the 70s when rain and a hard freeze made coal piles unavailable and factories shut down in Central Ohio.

    • rhh
      That’s just another problem solved thanks to warming. Maintaining the current warmth should be an easy goal to achieve. Living in the Chicago, USA, area, nobody is really complaining about the milder winters and longer summer-type weather, its been great! (May has been very chilly but we’re all expecting that to improve soon). We need to face the fact that the planet was just too cold a few decades ago, and enjoy. Alarmists are downers, never learned how go with the flow.

  26. The really cool thing about these adventures into 100% renewables (wind/solar) is that as more is added to the grid, if a problem exists, it will become self-aware to everyone.

    If 20% is the correct ceiling, at the current rate of renewable growth, an entire century will pass before in-practice awareness is presented for us all to witness. Perhaps we should, instead, extrapolate Hawaii and Germany.

    Also, we need to exit our love of States with constant Sun, great wind numbers and densely populate and examine the other 90% of the globe.

    Electric cars in Minnesota, for example, would only be good for showroom floors.

    • “The really cool thing about these adventures into 100% renewables (wind/solar) is that as more is added to the grid, if a problem exists, it will become self-aware to everyone.”

      Self-awareness of problems with alternatives were realized by everyone in Germany years ago, well before reaching 100%. Germany currently generates about 27% of their energy from renewables but pay about 3x more for electricity then it costs in the US.

      De Welt translation:
      http://www.thegwpf.com/lies-damn-lies-and-green-statistics/

      Die Welt
      https://www.welt.de/wirtschaft/energie/article110067621/Die-krassen-Fehlprognosen-beim-Oekostrom.html

      • “Self-awareness of problems with alternatives were realized by everyone in Germany years ago, well before reaching 100%. Germany currently generates about 27% …”

        Germany sits at 29% renewable today. Wind + solar only sits at 10% + 6% = 16%, looking for that 20% ceiling (viable).

        I don’t consider biomass viable (7%) especially with wood products which produce more CO2 than coal as being viable. German hydro is at 3.2% which is considered viable and steady but at it’s limit and can not add to mix. US hydro is at 6.5% and at limit.

        Cost, is only a concern if it remains 3X after the roll-out costs and then down the road. Creating a new (2nd) energy grid will always cost $$$ in the outset.

        If Germany is today considered at ceiling (@16% versus the discussion’s 20%) then my point is it is self-aware that 100% is not a practical goal, that a few US cities are creating laws to achieve. Very poorly informed leadership.

      • Thanks Albert. Good information. The understanding that Germany is at 16% wind and solar today should be tempered with the understanding that the grid does not recognize national boundaries. The penetration level of importance would include other surrounding generation as well. Germany’s ability to integrate wind and solar is aided by the hydro resources of Denmark and the coal plants of Poland.

      • Albert Hopfer, thanks for the granularity on German energy production, and aplanningengineer for an excellent, thoughtful, well reasoned article.

        I didn’t realize Germany produced 7% energy from biomass. Interestingly I read that Germany is adding back coal plants to its grid to help mitigate runaway utility costs. How much more, anyone know?

      • Germany opened over 10 gigawatts of new coal fired power plants over the past 5 years.

        Here’s a 2016 link that elaborates a bit about Germany’s grid:
        http://instituteforenergyresearch.org/analysis/france-germany-turn-coal/

    • Kind of overlooks needlessly spending vast amounts of money on inherently flawed approaches to supplying the grid. Not sure I would characterize that as really cool.

      • The coolness, is its ability to indicate failure at 20% not to attempt 100%. Costly, yes. Cool, I still think so.

        By the math, lets say the mix was 100% wind. It would take a million windmills to generate the US 2016 electrical output and replace gasoline.

        The US installed 5,000 windmills last year and US today has just 50,000 windmills installed. I think any city planner that passes a law to be 100% renewable by 2035 or 2045 or… is not passing that law for this purpose.

    • “Electric cars in Minnesota, for example, would only be good for showroom floors.”
      Maybe you should speak to a Tesla owner there and see what their experience is.
      I suspect it may surprise you.
      Also I’m not sure why the comment about EVs was even interjected into a discussion about renewables and grid stabilization?
      I agree that solar for example would not be a good choice in most northern climates. But even if NG is the preferred energy source in Minnesota (or nuclear), a Tesla with over 80% efficiency would be a smarter and more economical choice than a Mercedes S class with 20% efficiency, not counting the costs of refinement and transport before the fuel gets into the tank. It’s observably much cheaper to transport electrons than liquid, flammable fuels.

      • Curious George

        80% efficiency is just a battery efficiency – if you charge the battery with 100 kWh, you only get 80 kWh out. http://www.catalyticengineering.com/top-ten-facts-about-teslas-350kwh-powerwall-battery/

      • That’s for a Powerwall.

        You need an AC inverter at 97% efficiency and the Li-ion batteries are up to 99% efficient. Electric motors are upwards of 90% efficient.

        Electric car performance is potentially amazing – as we have seen with Tesla and some others. Still needs much cheaper, more stable and higher energy density batteries. Even then a fossil fuel range extender seems desirable.

      • https://chiefio.wordpress.com/2017/05/07/oh-dear-an-impossible-battery-from-an-impeccable-designer/#comments
        The person claiming this, Goodenough deserves some consideration. The discussion I’ve read mentioned phones and cars only. No news story I could find, said this has crashed because it breaks some law of science. Here’s my guess, 10% chance of a breakthrough.

      • “”… Speak to a Tesla owner there.”

        I work for a battery company in the Chicago area, my boss owns a Tesla S. Even in Chicago, warmer than Minnesota (by a bunch). His Tesla remains in the garage in colder weather. Its dangerous to charge Lithium in cold weather and kills the life of battery. The mileage in colder weather is (1) reduced by more than a third and (2) electric heaters don’t help and defoggers also (3) the gauging of battery use is not reliable in cold (hot also has negative affects).

        Being in the battery pack or battery backup business we are already being squeezed per being able to buy cells, since auto companies are demanding most all of the supply. Lithium is also used to make glass. This should be most alarming since 14 million autos were built in the US in 2016 and electric were very few in number. If an attempt were made to replace new car production into the 14 million per year range…. that is just not feasible. Add to that the storage required for a grid of wind and solar. Honestly I do not know what the heck the world is thinking. Reality is not involved.

        lithium brine deposits are accumulations of saline groundwater that are enriched in dissolved lithium. Although abundant in a nature, only select regions in the world contain brines in closed basins in arid regions, where lithium salts can be extracted at a profit. After 9-12 months, depending on climate (Sun dried), a concentrate of 1 to 2 percent lithium is further processed in a chemical plant to yield various end products, such as lithium carbonate and lithium hydroxide.

        If the US did created a grid using lithium for storage the US would immediately become dependent on foreign Lithium. A no-go in my book.

      • Ragnaar @May 10, 2017 at 9:50 pm:

        The person claiming this, Goodenough deserves some consideration.

        This refers to a very recent story about one of the inventors of the lithium ion battery claiming to have a new breakthrough. It’ll be interesting to hear what Rud Istvan has to say about this:

        https://news.utexas.edu/2017/02/28/goodenough-introduces-new-battery-technology

        Could it be a competitor to Henrick Fisker’s proposed lithium ion capacitor?

        https://judithcurry.com/2016/11/02/vehicular-decarbonisation-two-new-technologies-to-watch/

      • Curious George

        From the linked article, “92% efficiency can only be achieved by running the battery at extremely low current, to minimize resistance losses. (Our Catalytic battery model suggests this is as low as 0.6A per cell) For example, a normal Tesla car battery probably has a DC-DC round-trip efficiency of less than 80% because people charge quickly (one round of resistance losses), and output high power when driving (a second round of resistance losses).”

        The battery actually gets close to usable. I keep my fingers crossed for further improvements. Meanwhile, please don’t feed us inflated numbers. Try to stick to the truth.

      • From the blog post on Tesla Powerwall where some guy has a throwaway line on Tesla EV efficiency?

        “The battery is highly efficient. Li-ion has 99 percent charge efficiency, and the discharge loss is small.”
        http://batteryuniversity.com/learn/article/comparing_the_battery_with_other_power_sources

        “During charge, lithium gravitates to the graphite anode (negative electrode) and the voltage potential changes. Removing the lithium again during discharge does not reset the battery fully. A film called solid electrolyte interface (SEI) consisting of lithium atoms forms on the surface of the anode. Composed of lithium oxide and lithium carbonate, the SEI layer grows as the battery cycles. The film gets thicker and eventually forms a barrier that obstructs interaction with graphite.”
        http://batteryuniversity.com/learn/article/bu_808b_what_causes_li_ion_to_die

        Charge/discharge causes irreversible battery degradation and there are a number of factors that influence battery life. Including charge and discharge rates. The changes result in discharge losses in any cycle.

        The quotes are from a blog run by Cadex Electronics – http://www.cadex.com/en

        All you can do in this online world is cross check and ask how reputable the sources are. It is usually advisable to question our assumptions – it’s quite likely that misunderstandings arise all the time.

        Is Cadex right? I don’t know – I haven’t done the experiment.

  27. Great points — grid power operates under the very important constraint that people place a very high value on the power not going out, particularly in areas where temperatures are regularly below freezing.

    There’s also some relatively unexamined assumptions about how much “renewable” wind and solar we can actually produce at 10-100x current capacity before some rare materials become prohibitively expensive and/or start causing shortages in other industries. In the long run we’ll probably need space solar or fusion (assuming fusion becomes economically viable before cheap fissionables run out sometime in the next 1-100K years per AEC estimates).

  28. It looks to me like a state or country’s viable mix of renewables will be affected by the mix in surrounding states and countries. I recently ran across this tweet by Steve McIntyre responding to a tweet by Naomi Oreskes praising wind power in Canada:

  29. Beta Blocker

    Promoters of grid-scale battery storage claim it is economically feasible now, today, to use current technology in making a rapid transition into a wind and solar energy future.

    A consortium of energy technology consultants and battery manufacturers calling itself the New York Battery and Energy Storage Consortium (NY-BEST) asserts that grid-scale battery storage can play an important role in replacing Indian Point and it’s 2000-megawatt generating capacity, now slated to close in 2021.

    https://www.ny-best.org/page/study-finds-key-role-energy-storage-replacing-indian-point-nuclear-plant

    Looking at NY-BEST’s membership list and on who makes up its advisory board, it is obvious there is a lot of money to be made as a consultant simply advising green politicians in their plans to force the quick adoption of renewable energy technology — let alone from selling this technology to public and private power marketers.

    A big problem faced by private corporations who generate electricity for profit is that selling cheap, high-volume electrical energy in today’s energy markets isn’t necessarily as profitable a business as it used to be.

    Cost alone doesn’t determine economic feasibility. A product’s or a service’s economic feasibility is dependent in good part on what the customer is willing to pay for that product or service, as is that product’s or service’s profit potential for an investor.

    My own view is that if the transition into a mostly renewable energy future is to be quickly accelerated, profit incentives must be offered which make private investment in renewable technologies a guaranteed winning bet for potential investors.

    Suppose we wanted to use the states of New York and California as experiments in the quick adoption of renewable technology; i.e., wind and solar backed by grid-scale energy storage technology of various flavors and types.

    How could this be done?

    Would those two states have to restructure their energy markets in ways which guarantee an attractive profit for those who invest in renewable technology — regardless of how that policy affects ratepayers, if costs are being passed along directly; and/or how it affects taxpayers, if the technology is also being directly or indirectly subsidized?

    • Wind and Solar, yes need storage. But even with infinite storage Wind and Solar will always require backup sooner or later and frequently.

      The rules are (1) provide electricity on demand and (2) while at the same time store energy to release at night or the weather is stormy (overcast) and neither wind or solar are supplying demand or storage.

      Across any national grid system, storms and overcast and or night time if wind is low, backup will be needed for both storage and demand. This backup will need to be 100% if storms and overcast persist for more than 12 hours at multiple locations across the national grid. Areas like the North Midwest of the US could be in those conditions for a week.

      The real problem is the fact that wind and solar are intermittent sources of power. A really dumb idea to base one’s national grid upon. Nobody should want to think of going there.

      • Beta Blocker

        Albert Hopfer, the most ardent advocates of wind and solar backed by energy storage technology claim that only minimal levels of fossil-fuel backup capacity will be necessary once the national grid has been fully optimized for the renewables. Many if not most of America’s voters have bought into these claims, at least to the extent they care about energy issues in general and the price of electricity in particular.

        Let’s recognize too that the most important near to mid-term goal that many if not most advocates of wind and solar now pursue is to eliminate nuclear power altogether. Here in America, California has decided to abandon nuclear power and New York state is in the process of doing so. All of New York’s nuclear plants and those few now remaining in New England will likely be closed by 2030.

        Once most of America’s nuclear plants have been shuttered, the progressive left’s current hard push for making a quick transition into the renewables will be largely abandoned in favor of taking a more measured, slower-growth approach to achieving the transformation.

        I see California and the area surrounding New York state as being the two most useful candidates for seeing what does and does not work practically in achieving a long-term transformation of the power grid.

        Comparing the two candidates for this grand experiment — the area in and around New York state, and the state of California — the Golden State has the edge in that its voters don’t particularly care what electricity costs, only that it be there when they throw the switch. This makes California the ideal place to install massive volumes of energy storage technology, doing this as a real-world experiment in determining what its true lifecycle costs actually are.

        The downside to using California in this grand experiment is that, as Roger Sowell has pointed out, the state’s own wind resources have been pretty much maxed out. And so assessing the optimum balance between wind and solar can’t be done as effectively in California as it could be in the area in and around New York state.

        To be fair about this proposal, the benefits and costs of doing a real-world, highly ambitious experiment in energy technology feasibility must be weighed against the benefits and costs of doing the analysis purely as a paper exercise. We have all the analytical tools we would need to build a series of prototypical, highly-detailed designs for an 80% renewables national grid, varying the relative composition of wind, solar, and grid-scale energy storage as needed to assess their relative total lifecycle costs.

        The problem with doing a paper exercise of this type is that next to no one would pay any attention to the results — certainly not if the outcome of the paper study was tough to swallow or if its conclusions didn’t fit the desired narrative. Regardless of which way a real-world experiment eventually goes, nothing, absolutely nothing, beats the value of doing an experiment which directly affects large numbers of real people in a large number of real ways.

      • I agree it’s best to localize experiments as much as possible, it was one of the purposes for having a republic of states to begin with. The one thing you leave out from this grand alternative experiment however is that the costs won’t be localized. Many states are already feeling the costly effects of CA and NY exporting their inflation because of their respective government programs. Industry has been leaving CA/NY, relocating to reduce their tax burden and to exploit surrounding states lower costs of living, bringing their employees with them.

    • I expanded on my comments earlier in this thread with respect to the NY-Best proposal here: http://wp.me/p8hgeb-1L

  30. For Planning Engineer,

    The quoted “upper bound” and 20 % infeasible bound for wind and solar are certainly suspect. Based on the routine, stable operations of the CAISO in California, where today wind plus solar is providing 40 percent of the grid demand. That’s instantaneous today at 10:15 am 4/11/2017.

    More on your post later.

    • Roger Sowell,

      I think you are comparing apples to oranges. Instantaneous values are not the same at all as average values (or share of total generation). I will assume some blame for the confusion. The PJM report used the term “unforced capacity shares of 20 percent”. I used that as a proxy for “average contribution” (or percent of total generation). I think that is a conservative estimate for PJM where I think the the unforced capacity share will end up being higher than the average energy provided (or percentage share of the total). I went extra conservative though and referred to the 20 % finding of PJM as being bad news for those wanting 30% penetration (on a total or average energy basis)

      If your average contribution from wind and solar is to be more than 20% then your instantaneous will have to exceed 40% at times.

      I am not finding readily available numbers on the percentage of wind and solar available on an average (or total annual) basis in California. They tend to refer to renewables which includes hydro (which works to support the system) as well as biomass (which does as well). I think the goal is 33% renewables by 2020. Wind and solar don’t make up half now, so it’s likely now we are talking a number well under 20% on a total energy basis, probably under 17% in 2020.

      Follow up questions. Do you think the system in California and PJM will have the same problems and limits, or might they have differences? If California achieves a goal of 17% from wind and solar in 2020, do you think it will be with no degradation in reliability? (My guess is if I looked at the advance studies from South Australia – they would show no expected significant dip in reliability.)

      • Yesterday, wind and solar together provided almost 20% of total energy handled by CAISO.

        http://content.caiso.com/green/renewrpt/DailyRenewablesWatch.pdf

      • Do you know the best year on an annual basis?

      • I do not know the best year on an annual basis, but the system is constantly having new solar and wind added. I only meant to show that, for CAISO, more statistics than instantaneous supply are available.

        Yesterday was cloudy where I live, so that isn’t an especially good day, at least here. I do not know about statewide. I think that it is a system worth following.

      • Re California renewables over the past few years the CA Energy Commission has the results tabulated at the link.

        http://energy.ca.gov/almanac/electricity_data/electricity_generation.html

      • dougbadgero

        Most recent year is about 11% wind and solar. That is likely also the best year.

      • So consider the implication here. If the average now is just around 11 to 15% for the year and you are seeing times now when solar and wind are making up over 40% of the resource mix (and don’t forget, these periods are needed to bring up the average because many time it will be low or zero) how much room does that give you to raise wind and solar to 20 or 30% of the total energy for the year? How about 50%?

      • Planning Engineer, in response to yours May 10, 2017 at 2:18 pm:

        It is important to distinguish between annual average production as a percent of total production, aka “penetration”, and instantaneous values. Both have a purpose and both are therefore useful. It may be that PJM coined a new term with “unforced capacity share.” Such a term should be defined.

        No matter the nomenclature, the facts are plain. You wrote, and I quote to ensure no ambiguity, “I . . . referred to the 20 % finding of PJM as being bad news for those wanting 30% penetration (on a total or average energy basis).”

        The facts of wind and solar power generation are that typical annual output is typically 25 percent, approximately, of nameplate capacity. That varies by location, of course. In California, both solar and wind exhibit approximately the same annual capacity of 26 percent. In the Great Plains states, wind turbines have much higher annual capacity of approximately 41 percent.

        The conclusion by PJM that 20 percent represents a hard ceiling is simply not true. I have written many times on what 20 percent or 30 percent penetration would require, and not much of that is original material. Others have studied and written on this at great length. The California experience has already demonstrated that solar with wind at present levels leads to a few curtailment periods because the grid simply cannot absorb all the power from the existing solar plants and wind systems. That leads to a certain set of economics that are driving and will drive in the future battery storage systems. If not batteries, then other forms of storage are required, or perhaps intermittent loads will be favored.

        Next, and quoting again, “They tend to refer to renewables which includes hydro (which works to support the system) as well as biomass (which does as well). I think the goal is 33% renewables by 2020. Wind and solar don’t make up half now, so it’s likely now we are talking a number well under 20% on a total energy basis, probably under 17% in 2020.”

        California renewables definition excludes large hydroelectric generators, but does include small hydro. The CA Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) is 33 percent by 2020, and 50 percent by 2030.

        The CA RPS homepage says that in 2015, the mandated utilities achieved as follows:

        PG&E- 29.5 %

        SCE – 24.3%

        SDG&E – 35.2%

        I confess that this result is a mystery to me, as there appears to be some unusual accounting going on to produce such high percentages of renewable energy on an annual basis, given the total solar capacity is 11,000 MW, wind is approximately 5000 MW, and combined geothermal, biogas, small hydro, and biomass run at approximately 1900 MW.

        Lastly, your questions to me:
        “Follow up questions. Do you think the system in California and PJM will have the same problems and limits, or might they have differences?”

        PJM and CA have significant differences, and therefore will have different problems. The most obvious differences are in the thermal and nuclear portions of the generation mix: CA has but one nuclear plant of 2200 MW running, zero coal plants, and a great number of efficient and agile gas-fired plants. PJM, as I understand it, has several nuclear plants, many coal-fired plants, and also some gas-fired plants. A notable gas-fired CCGT plant was just brought online in Lordstown, OH for PJM to help cope with wind power changes.

        Next, renewables in CA are from approximately 11,000 MW grid-scale solar, and 5000 MW of wind. PJM, again by my reading, has also 5000 MW of wind and very little solar at grid scale.

        It also must be noted that the CA grid is smaller in size, measured in peak load, annual generation, and generating capacity compared to PJM.

        Population – 65 million PJM; 38 million CA (ratio 1.71)
        • Generating capacity – 176,569 megawatts PJM; 70,900 CA (ratio 2.48)
        • Peak demand – 165,492 megawatts PJM; 46,000 CA (ratio 3.59)
        • Annual energy delivery – more than 792 million megawatt-hours PJM; approximately 295 million for CA (ratio 2.68)
        (the differences are almost entirely due to climate, mild in CA and typical US Northeast – aka brutal winters – in PJM region)

        The problems for PJM will stem from much higher nuclear as a percent of total annual generation; as you noted above (my paraphrase), nuclear does not reduce load in the US. (my words next) It appears that PJM has approximately 30 GW of nuclear installed, compared to 2.2 GW nuclear in CA. However, PJM is surely acutely aware that the nuclear plants are closing in great numbers, as they reach the 40 year age mark. The next 10 years will see many if not most of the nuclear plants in PJM territory close. CA will close its final nuclear plant in the early 2020s.

        Also, PJM is facing offshore wind power generation as a soon-to-be reality, with Maryland already announcing projects of approximately 500 MW. That is small as a percent of the PJM market, but will likely grow quickly.

        “If California achieves a goal of 17% from wind and solar in 2020, do you think it will be with no degradation in reliability? (My guess is if I looked at the advance studies from South Australia – they would show no expected significant dip in reliability.)”

        Again, I’m not entirely certain how CA RPS computes wind and solar annual penetration. My quick calculations show that 2017 1Q production would annualize to 8 percent solar, 4 percent wind, and 5 percent for combined geothermal, biogas, biomass, and small hydro. That’s only 17 percent combined for all renewables. But, only 12 percent annual for just wind and solar.

        Even at that rate of 12 percent, the grid still has times of excess production and curtailment orders are issued.

        As to reliability degradation, my answer is no. That will not happen in CA, primarily because state law mandates the electrical grid be operated to deliver power that is safe, reliable, affordable, and environmentally responsible. The CAISO, Independent System Operator, Public Utilities Commission, Energy Commission, all work together to ensure that happens. Storage batteries are already installed in CA, with more already under contract and under construction. Wholesale power prices are also declining, and run at about 3.5 cents per kWh.

        As I also wrote above, smart electronics already are proven by actual CAISO experience to provide grid stabilizing attributes for solar PV power.

        The general problem remains the same: wind and solar have 25 to 50 percent annual production rates compared to nameplate capacity. The grid must reduce non-wind and non-solar output to accommodate the wind and solar. The alternative is storage of some sort, pumped storage hydroelectric, batteries, even hydrogen production that is later run through fuel cells.

      • Peter Lang

        Reality check

        If wind and solar power were anywhere near to viable they would not require subsidies that are 17 and 100 times more than the subsidies for nuclear power. Actually much more than 17 and 100 times because solar and wind also get huge additional subsidies because they do not pay for the higher grid costs they require and the costs they transfer to the generators that provide backup for them.

        If the subsidies for wind and solar stopped, no more would be built and those all ready built would soon be shut down.

      • Roger

        Thanks for your thoughtful reply. I appreciate it and am glad to see us getting past some initial rancor. I hope to give you a good response but I am away from computers and keyboards for a bit. But maybe a couple things for now. Maybe they will provide a good enough response.

        Unforced capacity share is a well defined term. Specific details as to how to precisely caclculate it for differing areas are available, It was first used for traditional plants (coal, gas, nuclear) and then to give renewables capacity credit it was applied to them. In many cases these numbers are filed and available. They can be looked up and the relationship between them and average energy served can be compared. I think they track pretty well, but it should be easy to prove that assumption wrong if it is incorrect or unwarranted. If I had to do it over again, I’d have done more homework here and not settled for a cursory check. What I remember looking up always showed average annual energy at least a little below unforced capacity share on a percentage basis. That fit my understanding, which would also allow the later to be a little higher for a period when wind or solar conditions were above average.

        I was on the NERC task force which defined “adequate level of reliability” for North America. Challenging to define, but far more challenging is specifying metrics to determine if that is achieved. Getting into gradients of determine what is better or worse I don’t think is doable at this time. With that in mind, consider there were all kinds of regulations as to how the pumps in New Orleans were to be maintained. Yet political focus and pressures allowed considerable degradation of the level of reliability of that system.

        Lastly -here is a commentary on PJMs report that reaches vastly different conclusions than mine. I just came across it and it seems so wrong I don’t know where to begin. A key difference is what the author has explained unforced capacity share means. It should be easy to see if his take or mine is more correct. But maybe you will find something useful there. Maybe you can put it n words that better make some of his argument. https://www.evwind.es/2017/04/04/pjm-study-quantifies-winds-value-for-building-a-reliable-resilient-power-system/59294

      • For Planning Engineer, re definition of “unforced capacity share.”

        It is a new term to me, one who has 40-plus years experience in engineering with an emphasis on electrical grids. So, I did a bit of research to see what I have missed all these years. I did only an internet search with Google, and found 2 hits. One is this blog entry on Dr. Curry’s blog. The other is the PJM document referenced at the top of this blog post, specifically, the “Appendix to PJM’s Evolving Resource Mix and System Reliability.”

        It turns out, upon further research, that “unforced capacity” is an East-Coast term used by a very few grid systems. For those interested, this document has a discussion under Capacity Markets.

        https://www.caiso.com/Documents/CapacityMarketGeneralOverview.pdf

        And, that makes perfect sense for you to use the term, as this blog post is about the PJM, one that uses the term in its system.

        “A capacity market, bilateral or organized, allows participants to purchase or sell capacity products that meet
        reliability requirements. In an organized market, participants have a venue to easily purchase capacity
        when they are short, or sell capacity when they have an excess amount. There are primarily three distinct
        organized capacity market models that have been developed in the US:
         NY ISO’s Demand Curve;
         ISO-NE’s Forward Capacity Market (FCM), and,
         PJM’s Reliability Pricing Model (RPM). “

        Regarding legally mandated grid reliability, at least here in California, that is a very sensitive subject. California suffered through market manipulation in the Enron fiasco a few years ago, with grid blackouts during the Winter, our non-peak season. The Governor, Gray Davis, was recalled as one result. Huge lawsuits also resulted, and federal agencies including FERC got involved. The electrical market was restructured in the aftermath. Suffice to say, nobody, but nobody, dares try anything that could be interpreted as reducing grid reliability. The lawyers are ready with legal documents ready to file. That is, at least in part, why CAISO is already curtailing solar or wind as necessary.

        Back to the specific challenges that PJM will face in the coming years, due to renewable wind and solar mandates or goals. The table below lists the PJM states and their RPS mandates or goals over the next few years. On average, that appears to be close to 25 percent by 2025. (source, National Conference of State Legislatures, “STATE RENEWABLE PORTFOLIO STANDARDS AND GOALS”, updated 4/26/2017)

        Delaware……… 25 pct by 2025
        Maryland……….25 pct by 2020
        New Jersey…….24.5 pct by 2020
        Ohio………………25 pct by 2026
        Pennsylvania…..18 pct by 2021
        Virginia……………15 pct by 2025
        West Virginia…..25 pct by 2025
        Illinois…………….25 pct by 2025
        Indiana…………..10 pct by 2025
        Michigan ………..35 pct by 2025

        With PJM facing nuclear plant shutdowns in massive MW amounts, and 25 percent renewables, some grid-scale storage is certainly required. Nuclear plants are simply not compatible with wind and solar production.
        Lucky for PJM, there already exists some pumped storage hydroelectric in the region. More storage will be required.

        I suspect that the ARES rail and gravity storage system will become popular, due to the innumerable hills and mountains. see

        http://sowellslawblog.blogspot.com/2016/05/gravity-grid-scale-storage-system-using.html

      • Roger Sowell -having a hard time sans computer. But an apology reply to you separated from this chain and is at the current bottom of the postings.

    • Beta Blocker

      Roger, legislation has been proposed in the California state legislature to move the state’s 50 percent renewables target forward five years, from 2030 to 2025.

      How is California’s 50% target for renewable resourced electricity currently defined?

      For example, is the target’s definition simply that 50% of the total kilowatt hours consumed in California in any given year must come from qualifying wind and solar resources?

      Or are there provisions in the law which add additional requirements? For example, requirements which might apply to how that renewable resourced energy is to be spread over the state’s 24-hour electricity demand profile?

      • Curious George

        I don’t know how California defines percentages. I know that it specifies a grid storage capacity in megawatts.

      • For Beta Blocker, apologies for my delay in responding.

        The California RPS (renewable portfolio standard) is quite long and complex, but is found at the links below:

        http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displayText.xhtml?lawCode=PUC&division=1.&title=&part=1.&chapter=2.3.&article=16.

        and

        http://codes.findlaw.com/ca/public-resources-code/prc-sect-25741.html

        Since long links sometimes fail, here is the title. This refers to the California Public Utilities Code, CPUC.

        PUBLIC UTILITIES CODE – PUC
        DIVISION 1. REGULATION OF PUBLIC UTILITIES [201 – 3260] ( Division 1 enacted by Stats. 1951, Ch. 764. )
        PART 1. PUBLIC UTILITIES ACT [201 – 2120] ( Part 1 enacted by Stats. 1951, Ch. 764. )
        CHAPTER 2.3. Electrical Restructuring [330 – 400] ( Chapter 2.3 added by Stats. 1996, Ch. 854, Sec. 10. )

        ARTICLE 16. California Renewables Portfolio Standard Program [399.11 – 399.32]

        A short summary is as follows:

        “ “Renewable electrical generation facility” means a facility that meets all of the following criteria:
        (1) The facility uses biomass, solar thermal, photovoltaic, wind, geothermal, fuel cells using renewable fuels, small hydroelectric generation of 30 megawatts or less, digester gas, municipal solid waste conversion, landfill gas, ocean wave, ocean thermal, or tidal current, and any additions or enhancements to the facility using that technology.”

        And, the facility is either in-state California, or connects to a transmission system in a neighboring or nearby state to send power to California. Thus, wind resources from Washington State are counted.

  31. Correction, May 10, 2017 for CAISO and 40 percent wind plus solar.

    • Roger,
      May 10 solar output shows 0% for 10 hours of that day. If sky was overcast you might get 2% for the entire day. Demonstrating that about a day and 1/2 of overcast you are dead in the water needing backup. If the overcast is due to stormy weather one would lose much of the wind as well. Again back up required. No storage occurred as well, so infinite storage capacity does not help. The concern is how does one provide 100% renewable power across the US not just in the Sunshine states. Foul weather across the country for weeks at a time kill wind and solar production. Intermittent sources will never power a nation without 100% backup. Every day some part of the national grid will have foul weather and the stored energy will be used up before weather clears and then demand is not met or entirely missing from renewables.

      • Backup is the usual word the nay-sayers use. A better term is supplemental power. Just as one can view a glass as half empty or half full, the perspective one takes on renewable energy is important.

        The basic idea behind wind, and solar electricity, was to prevent outrageous electricity prices as natural gas scarcities occurred a few decades ago. The wind and sunshine are free, of course. Every kWh produced by wind and solar would have replaced a very expensive kWh from natural gas. The same could not be said for nuclear, because nuclear plants stubbornly refuse to dial back their output. Coal-fired plants are in their own category, with low-cost fuel with some baseload designs and others that can load-follow.

        Then, the gas drilling experts perfected the precision directional drilling and hydraulic fracturing technology, as the seismic experts also improved their technology. The result, as most everyone today knows, is a great oversupply of natural gas, and very low gas prices. Even so, the wind and solar industries kept busy innovating and improving their products. Today, beyond almost all expectations, onshore wind power is profitable in the US at less than 5 cents per kWh (2 cents from the utility, plus 2.3 cents from federal tax credits). Additional cost reductions are in the works, with taller support towers, larger rotor diameters, double or triple the output per turbine, and lower maintenance costs. Within 10 years, the cost to produce wind power will easily be 2 to 3 cents per kWh. Nothing can touch that, except perhaps federally subsidized large hydroelectric plants.

        Offshore wind systems also are on a steep cost reduction curve, with present costs to break even at 11 cents per kWh. Offshore has even greater cost reduction potential, so that within 10 years the break even costs will be 4 to 5 cents per kWh.

        The next point is the economics of reliable, dispatchable power versus intermittent power. Utilities pay more for dispatchable, firm, reliable power. Wind farm owners know this, of course. This is the economic driving force for grid-scale storage, no matter what form the storage takes.

        In Los Angeles, California, a high-cost peaker gas power plant owned by SCE, Southern California Edison, is being replaced by solar-powered batteries with Tesla as the battery supplier. That is profitable at today’s gas prices (very low) and battery prices (relatively high). Battery technology is improving with costs falling each year. As gas prices increase and battery prices decrease, more and more of the grid’s high-cost generators will be replaced by batteries. The batteries will be charged with surplus power, either solar in the Southwest, or wind in other areas.

        So, there are the basic facts. We don’t need weeks or months of battery storage to make wind and solar power extremely attractive economically. Just a few hours, perhaps six hours, is more than sufficient to store surplus daytime solar (or night-time wind power) and release that power as needed at peak times to prevent the running of very expensive peaker power plants.

        Today, 5/13/2017 here in California, (a Saturday with low grid demand), solar and wind combined to produce 58.1 percent of the instantaneous demand at approximately 2:00 pm (14:00 hours PDT). The power grid was quite stable, no lights flickering, no brownouts, and no blackouts. It’s about 4:00 pm as I write this, and the late afternoon increase in load is already underway as the solar output begins its predictable decline. The gas-fired power plants (and a few grid-storage devices) are operating, ramping up as designed, and the grid is still stable.

        Electric power prices are not skyrocketing, in fact, they are stable or declining over the past few years. My article from June 30, 2016 shows the California residential prices. Our prices barely keep up with inflation. The price map for California electricity today showed the entire state with zero (0.00) cents per kWh as the 15-minute marginal price, due to the very high wind and solar output.

        http://sowellslawblog.blogspot.com/2016/06/california-electricity-rates.html

        There are no arguments, there are no reasons to block solar nor wind power. Prices to consumers are low, investors are happy with their returns, the grid operators are satisfied, the grids are stable and operating as designed, natural gas is not burned but instead is being conserved, new industries with major employment and good-paying jobs were created in solar and wind turbines, and battery development and production companies have a very bright future.

        That’s a win-win-win for everyone.

        Except, of course, if one is in the nuclear power industry. That industry is already dead, it just won’t admit it yet.

  32. For Planning Engineer, re wind and solar cannot provide grid support attributes.

    CAISO published results of real-world operations in 2016 – see link- that shows solar PV does provide numerous grid-friendly controls.

    https://www.caiso.com/Documents/UsingRenewablesToOperateLow-CarbonGrid.pdf

    • RS, neither solar nor wind provide grid inertia. It coild be added with sufficient synchronous condensers of sufficient size. But that amounts to adding an equivalent capaxity of undriven generators and further skews the already unfavorable economics. Subsidized renewable generation, plus backup conventional capacity for intermitency, plus equivalent MW of synchronous condensers. A very costly Rube Goldberg solution to a non-problem.

    • I don’t think the quote “wind and solar cannot provide grid support attributes” came from either me or the PJM report. If I am mistaken please let me know. If I did not say that, you should not premise a question to me with such an misattribution.

      My blog did say “Wind and Solar are identified as generally not having as desirable characteristics as conventional fossil fuel generation in terms of attributes which support reliability.”
      Is there something in the referenced 66 page report that contradicts this assertion? If so please identify.

  33. “The ability of synchronous condensers to absorb or produce reactive power on a transient basis stabilizes the power grid against short circuits and other transient fault conditions. Transient sags and dips of milliseconds duration are stabilized. This supplements longer response times of quick acting voltage regulation and excitation of generating equipment. The synchronous condenser aids voltage regulation by drawing leading current when the line voltage sags, which increases generator excitation thereby restoring line voltage.”
    https://www.allaboutcircuits.com/textbook/alternating-current/chpt-13/synchronous-condenser/

    It is all a bit esoteric to me – but the AEMO final report on the South Australian blackout recommends – inter alia – more synchronous condensers for regulating short term voltage drops across the grid.

    The loss of a couple of transmission towers triggered a system wide shutdown that took a week to reset. One of the other recommendations was to improve start up procedures.

    A 30% nameplate capacity for wind and solar gives a 10% contribution to energy supply. This results in a reduction in utilisation of coal, gas and nuclear plants. It probably advantages gas which has low capital/high fuel cost factor inputs. The reduction could be minimised by scheduling downtime when wind or solar is available – and they are free to charge for the increased marginal cost when it is not.

    Wind is competitive in the US – and I can see the time when solar will be too. Meanwhile it can be subsidised by people like Jack on their own feel good dime all they like. These technologies will get more competitive over time – and gas prices will only increase. More slowly where there are alternative energy supplies.

    Can and should wind and solar be stopped? Where there is a demonstrated risk to the system – probably. Where there is not – it would be restraint of trade. I doubt that even Trump is silly enough to try. So most of this is pointless hand waving.

    I’m all in favour of dumping subsidies – but free markets work both ways.

    • FYI – a synchronous condenser is like (and could in fact be) a generator with it’s shaft cut off. As noted it spins in synchronism with the system and depending on whether it leads slightly or lags it injects vars or consumes vars to help maintain the system voltage. It’s an automatic part of a coal plant, hydro plants or gas generation. Since wind turbines do not spin at the same speed of the system, they have to be electrically decouples through electronics. They can be built with additional components to provide or consume vars (at extra costs) but they do not have inertial mass. In some cases a solution to losing a coal plant on the system would be to cut it’s shaft and make it work like a synchronous condenser. Using no fuel and contributing no real power, but generating vars (also called imaginary power).

      • Vars is a new word to me just yesterday. But condensers exist to synchronize the phases of energy from generating assets – and to manage inductance impedance on transmission lines – by consuming and generating vars to improve the power factor. That is to optimally align the phases of power from different sources to maximise transmission efficiency. As I understand it.

        https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-is-electricity-from-d/

        In South Australia the loss of a few transmission towers caused transient voltage drops that tripped out 345MW of wind power and which ultimately cascaded into a system wide shutdown – it took a week to reset the system.

        The solution is to make control settings at some wind farms less sensitive and to improve grid management.

      • RE, you might need to learn more basic AC grid engineering. If you did not previously know about these sometimes huge machines and their need despite sufficient other grid inertia, you did not sufficiently understand AC grids. Forget the complex arithmetic math details where square root of minus one ( x+ iy) is used to among other things to calculate phase shift and reactive power. I mean at a Basic ac grid comprehension level. And, GE has a business cutting off the turbine shaft of an old coal generator, redoing all the oil bearing feeds, and leaving the generator in a partly demolishef plant as a synchronous generator supporting grid inertia.
        Not a direct criticism. Trying to urge general comprehension on all blogs before engaging.

      • What I reported was the outcome of the AEMO report that recommended increased synchronous condenser capacity. What’s that I thought – not pretending to 10 minute interweb expertise in grid technology – and I have admitted that var is a term I discovered yesterday.

        Yes a synchronous condenser consumes or generates vars to optimise grid performance through managing phase leads and lags. Here’s what a vintage one looks like – and yes it doesn’t have a shaft and and doesn’t consume (much) or generate electricity. The entire South Australian grid tripped out because of transient voltage drops.

        I can handle imaginary numbers – but not imaginary expertise driveling on with patronising trivia.

      • A synchronous generator – btw – is not the same thing as a synchronous condenser.

      • Robert- I don’t know what significance you think your statement that a synchronous condenser is not the same as a synchronous generator has, It seems to illuminate that you do not understand things well. A synchronous generator provides the same function of controlling vars as a synchronous condenser. The difference is a synchronous generator can provide/consume real and reactive power (watts and bars) while a synchronous cndensot can not provide/consume real power (watts) only reactive (vars). So technically they are different a synchronous generator is essentially a synchronous condenser with extra features. (Would anyone ever point out that a car without air conditioning is not the same as a car with air conditioning for the point of extolling the benefits of a car without ac?). Synchronous condensers are needed when synchronous generators do not have a sufficient presence. By removing a part of a synchronous generator you make it a synchronous converter. http://www.power-eng.com/articles/print/volume-115/issue-10/features/converting-existing-synchronous-generators-into-synchronous-condensers.html

        I have to remind young engineers with excellent education, skills and ability that in planning needed improvements and fixes not to get carried away with our models and identified solutions. We model numerous system conditions and impose thousands of contingencies (outages) upon them. But does our modeling work really be expected to capture the specific risk conditions and are our solutions the actual fix for that? The answer is no. What we know from experience is that by modeling and planning that way, we create a system that is sufficiently robust enough to work through what the real world throws at us. The more you narrowly define the solution to contingency (potential outages) events the less robust your system and the more likely the real works will bite you in the ___, Adding a specific synchronous condenser here and there is not as robust as having synchronous generators scattered throughout. If your system is seeing problems because it was not sufficiently robust (S Australia) and you focus upon fixes for those problems which were observed in the real world – you have only protected yourself from a small set of known and are at risk to many unknowns.

        Ignoring modesty- this is a good intro. https://judithcurry.com/2015/05/07/transmission-planning-wind-and-solar/

      • Your long comment seems more diversion into the realms of rambling home spun philosophy than a concise technical comment. I’d appreciate it you stuck to the point instead of trying to teach your grandmother to suck eggs.

        “As the generation mix continues to change across the NEM, it is no longer appropriate to rely solely on synchronous generators to provide essential non-energy system services (such as voltage control, frequency control, inertia, and system strength). Instead, additional means of procuring these services
        must be considered, from non-synchronous generators (where it is technically feasible), or from network or non-network services (such as demand response and synchronous condensers)…

        The technical challenges of the changing generation mix must be managed with the support of efficient and effective regulatory and market mechanisms, to ensure the most cost-effective measures are used in the long-term interest of consumers. AEMO is continuing to work in association with its stakeholders to resolve these challenges…

        AEMO has also begun work with the Australian Renewable Energy Authority (ARENA) and others on proof-of-concept trials of promising new technologies, starting with use of the new Hornsdale Stage 2 wind farm to provide grid stabilisation services. These projects can deliver engineering solutions to make the grid more resilient and protect customer supply as the transformation of Australia’s energy system continues.”
        https://www.aemo.com.au/-/media/Files/Electricity/NEM/Market_Notices_and_Events/Power_System_Incident_Reports/2017/Integrated-Final-Report-SA-Black-System-28-September-2016.pdf

        They seem certainly to have the system in place – and it fell over at the loss of a few transmission towers. Everything dropped out – including the interstate connector – as a result of a failure to stabilise the system long enough for generators to ramp up or the system to load shed.

        “What conclusions have come from AEMO’s investigations? From its analysis of the Black System event, many of AEMO’s conclusions provide valuable guidance for improving the management of extreme conditions in SA:

         Access to correct technical information about grid-connected equipment is critical for system security.
         Wind turbines uccessfully rode through grid disturbances. It was the action of a control setting responding to multiple disturbances that led to the Black System. Changes made to turbine control settings shortly after the event has removed the risk of recurrence given the same number of disturbances.
         Had the generation deficit not occurred, AEMO’s modelling indicates SA would have remained connected to Victoria and the Black System would have been avoided. AEMO cannot rule out the possibility that later events could have caused a black system, but is not aware of any system damage that would have done this.
         The following factors must be addressed to increase the prospects of forming a stable SA island and avoiding a Black System:
         Sufficient inertia to slow down the rate of change of frequency and enable automatic load shedding to stabilise the island system in the first few seconds. This will require increases in SA
        inertia under some conditions, as well as improvements to load shedding systems combined with reduced interconnector flows under certain conditions.
         Sufficient frequency control services to stabilise frequency of the SA island system over the longer term. This will require increases in local frequency control services under some conditions.
         Sufficient system strength to control over voltages, ensure correct operation of grid protection systems, and ensure correct operation of inverter-connected facilities such as wind farms. This will require increases in local system strength under some conditions.” op.cit.

        It was not in fact the operation of wind farms that was the problem – they tripped after the transmission towers collapsed due to overly sensitive cotrol settings. That’s a simple software fix in place soon after the storm. It was the loss of 345MW of power that tripped the entire system. Would the loss of a similar amount of power elsewhere again trigger a system wide shutdown?

        So taking my cue from the AEMO report – I looked at synchronous condensers – which are certainly different to synchronous generators. Something that seems quite evident. Taking my cue from rudderless – GE is cutting the shafts off generators, sealing them, filling them with hydrogen and slapping a condenser sticker on.

        I have linked this previously.

        “Synchronous Condenser
        Chapter 13 – AC Motors

        Synchronous motors load the power line with a leading power factor. This is often useful\l in cancelling out the more commonly encountered lagging power factor caused by induction motors and other inductive loads. Originally, large industrial synchronous motors came into wide use because of this ability to correct the lagging power factor of induction motors.

        This leading power factor can be exaggerated by removing the mechanical load and over exciting the field of the synchronous motor. Such a device is known as a synchronous condenser. Furthermore, the leading power factor can be adjusted by varying the field excitation. This makes it possible to nearly cancel an arbitrary lagging power factor to unity by paralleling the lagging load with a synchronous motor. A synchronous condenser is operated in a borderline condition between a motor and a generator with no mechanical load to fulfill this function. It can compensate either a leading or lagging power factor, by absorbing or supplying reactive power to the line. This enhances power line voltage regulation.

        Since a synchronous condenser does not supply a torque, the output shaft may be dispensed with and the unit easily enclosed in a gas tight shell. The synchronous condenser may then be filled with hydrogen to aid cooling and reduce windage losses. Since the density of hydrogen is 7% of that of air, the windage loss for a hydrogen filled unit is 7% of that encountered in air. Furthermore, the thermal conductivity of hydrogen is ten times that of air. Thus, heat removal is ten times more efficient. As a result, a hydrogen filled synchronous condenser can be driven harder than an air cooled unit, or it may be physically smaller for a given capacity. There is no explosion hazard as long as the hydrogen concentration is maintained above 70%, typically above 91%.

        The efficiency of long power transmission lines may be increased by placing synchronous condensers along the line to compensate lagging currents caused by line inductance. More real power may be transmitted through a fixed size line if the power factor is brought closer to unity by synchronous condensers absorbing reactive power.

        The ability of synchronous condensers to absorb or produce reactive power on a transient basis stabilizes the power grid against short circuits and other transient fault conditions. Transient sags and dips of milliseconds duration are stabilized. This supplements longer response times of quick acting voltage regulation and excitation of generating equipment. The synchronous condenser aids voltage regulation by drawing leading current when the line voltage sags, which increases generator excitation thereby restoring line voltage. (Figure below) A capacitor bank does not have this ability.”

        I don’t deal in hand-waving narratives – but reference reputable sources – within broad limits in this case – it was and is a planning failure – to demonstrate specific points. And I like precise language and not dithering about false equivalencies between motors and condensers or appealing to a personal authority. The latter is always especially laughable.

      • Robert – On synchronous condensers.

        I thought we were having a discussion about bulk TRANSMISSION grid support elements. Specifically large three phase synchronous condensers and three phase synchronous condensers. Irrelevant to this discussion in the Honda generator in your mother’s garage or any other DISTRIBUTION or LOAD based elements like MOTORs (be they synchronous motors or induction motors). You have pasted a tutorial on the basics of synchronous motors and synchronous condensers. I agree there is a significant difference as regards the ability for the power system to recover from disturbances between bulk 3 phase synchronous condensers and any element on the distribution system, including synchronous motors. At the bulk level synchronous generators can do what synchronous condensers can do and more.

        I think the first sentence of your quote is a contributor to the confusion that somehow there is some characteristic associated with large three phase synchronous condensers that gives them a property not found in large three phase synchronous generators.

        “As the generation mix continues to change across the NEM, it is no longer appropriate to rely solely on synchronous generators to provide essential non-energy system services (such as voltage control, frequency control, inertia, and system strength). Instead, additional means of procuring these services must be considered, from non-synchronous generators (where it is technically feasible), or from network or non-network services (such as demand response and synchronous condensers)…”

        Technically they could continue to rely on synchronous generators except for the fact that they emit CO2. From a technical standpoint it is perfectly “appropriate” to rely solely on synchronous generators. The oldest approach had enough synchronous generators on the system that there was no need to consider the addition of synchronous condensers in most instances. At lower level of wind and solar the var capabilities of the remaining synchronous generators could adequately get you through disturbances but opening up the potential need for some synchronous condensers. As you add more and more wind and solar replacing the synchronous generators you will need significant additional “new” var sources. You can take a wind farm and appropriately size a synchronous condenser with it and it will behave like a gas plant in many attributes (except inertia-but you could add a big fly wheel while you’re at it to store energy and provide inertia). That certainly raises the cost of wind relative to conventional synchronous generation gave you as part of the basic cost. None of this is new here’s what I said back in 2015 in a comment on the above references post –

        “We could integrate higher levels of intermittent renewables, but it would have high costs. If you add the equivalent of high inertia flywheels to the system and synchronous condensers (basically generator/motor units with all the winding and stuff but no shaft to generate to add or subtract power from they will mimic what conventional generators provide. You can turn existing generators into synchronous condensers upon retirement. But approaches like that have significant costs that go with wind and solar that you don’t incur with traditional generators (because it’s already included).

        Also there are ways to make inverter based resources perform more like synchronous generators – they are just costly. Generators operating from efficient points can add a little boost to the system when it needs it. If you hold back power from wind or solar they can do something similar but it’s only needed once in a great while and it’s wasted. Can you justify a solar or wind plant if you off the top cut it’s effective generation by 5%?”

        Robert – Do you think there is some way (other than being politically acceptable and not emitting C02) that bulk utility three phase synchronous condensers are superior to synchronous generators for maintaining grid reliability.

      • Robert – On your interpretation of the AEMO report

        Major grids do not suffer outages for single limited causes. They are planned to ride through unanticipated but stressing situations. It’s not uncommon to lose towers or have multiple contributing factors. Post hoc saying if we simply fix X and beef up Y we will be fine is naive and dangerous. Next time the system will hit you with a different set of factors. In the US, FERC and NERC reacted to blackouts, not by taking the word of system operators that they had identified the problem that occurred and letting them fix it, but rather by enforcing extensive and comprehensive reliability standards that spanned far beyond the immediate range of the driving outages. I’m afraid right now a comprehensive and expansive look at the grid concerns in SA do not fit the agenda of the powers that be.

        The AEMO report is written by an operator, no doubt under serious political pressure, who had an unfortunate incident and must craft an acceptable answer. Technically what they are saying in the report is true. The problems they are identifying and the need for the cures they are advocating came about because of the loss of the synchronous generation upon which their grid was built. Some of the statements only tell half the story. It’s sometimes necessary to read between the lines to get the implications of what they are saying. South Australia has serious grid problems because asynchronous renewable resources are pushing out synchronous generation. It can theoretically be cured by extensive and costly infrastructure though.

      • Thanks for the discussion Ristvan, Robert, and APEngr. Good detail. APEngr synopsis agrees with what I read at the time of the SA blackout. The sensitivity was set according to criteria of the system, and that the proposed solutions underline the fact that it was renewable wind penetration with loss of synchronous units.

      • Mr. Ellison,
        It seems you’re taking it the wrong way – the attempt to encourage you to learn more about the basics of grid scale electricity operations.
        As an actual power engineering EE major, the difference between theory and reality is already large.
        For someone who is a normal EE, even worse.
        For someone not even an electrical engineer, the gap needs to be addressed through significant study.
        The sad fact is that very few people actually deal with AC power at all, much less at scale.

      • This is where I started – https://judithcurry.com/2017/05/09/renewable-resources-and-the-importance-of-generation-diversity/#comment-848736

        South Australia as a poster child for the evils of wind and solar. I focused on a specific analysis of a failure reflexively attributed to renewables penetration. It wasn’t a failure attributable to intermittency – the wind farms kept turning.

        Transmission towers blew over and resultant transient voltage drops caused overly sensitive control settings at some wind farms to trip – removing 345MW of power from the system. The control settings are a software fix that is in place.

        The loss of power tripped out both the synchronous gas generators and the grid interconnector to Victorian coal power.

        Synchonous condensers are used across distribution lines to optimise grid operation for – inter alia – induction impedance effects. It is just like a synchronous motor – with the shaft cut off, sealed and filled with hydrogen. Give me a break.

        The real question is why the entire grid tripped out on the unexpected loss of 345MW of power. Too much demand for the remaining supply – and the gas generators were unable to ramp up – or load shedding was too slow – to balance the difference. This is where short term stabilisation comes in. The interconnector tripped because because the power draw exceeded capacity.

        Unexpected power loss under extreme conditions can and does happen – even with coal and gas plants. Should this trigger a complete system shut down?

        It took a week to reset the system – which is far too long and down to procedures. So yes they are covering their arses – which I believe I suggested elsewhere.

      • It may be worth noting that there are reliability problems which emerge in the US due to not having “enough” synchronous generators as well. Air quality management standards as well as growth have limited synchronous generators in many metro areas. The local generators help the system recover from faults. What happens with a fault is that the voltage goes down, light bulbs dim until the fault is removed. Normally at that point the local generators (vars don’t travel that well from more distant plants) put out a lot of vars to bring the voltage quickly back. The worst problems are in metro areas with high amounts of air conditioning. When the voltage goes down, they don’t “dim” like a light bulb but react to low voltage conditions by pulling more current. So you have a shortage of vars from no local synchronous generators and AC pulling further off balanced so the system can just collapse (problem is known as FIDVR). This was not foreseen by models, but was seen when the problem started to manifest itself.

        For this specific problem we installed a static var compensator (kind of an electronic version of a synchronous condenser) at a cost of tens of millions. It stands guard monitoring voltages ready to spit out vars (imaginary power) if needed. The probability that it will be needed over the next 50 years is small, but the consequences of such events are judged to be so severe it was considered worthwhile as insurance.

        Two important takeaways. 1) Resource and technology changes can create problems on the grid you don’t always see coming. And 2) there are always fixes but they can come at significant costs.

  34. I love the infrastructure discussion here.

    So far, it is mainly about supply-side infrastructure.

    The demand-side infrastructure changes involved in converting from “fossil” fueled transport, to electricity-fired transport are equally interesting.

    And, this “demand-side” is perhaps even more important for understanding the system (grid) implications of solar, wind, etc.

    I’ve been teaching people how to visualize complex global ecosystems/networks for a long time.

    I usually do this by bringing executives, government officials, and students to infrastructure networks on the ground. (Toyota calls this “going to the Gemba”.)

    If I can’t get them out of the classroom, I do the following…

    BRAIN TEASER:

    In the classroom, or executive suite, I have found that the following, seemingly simple “user-side” question helps people start looking at the real social-commercial-technological realities of environmental innovations and policies.

    EXERCISE:

    1. The average vehicle occupies about 105 square feet of space (approximately 9.5 square meters). This applies to both gasoline fuel vehicles, and electric vehicles.

    2. The average petroleum fired vehicle takes 3-7 minutes to refuel for a 300-500 mile range.

    3. The average electricity-fired vehicle takes perhaps 35 to 150 minutes to “refuel” for a similar range.

    4. If electric vehicles reach 20% of the vehicle fleet in the larger Tri-State, New York City metropolitan area, given current daily traffic patterns, what is the TOTAL LAND USE in that area that will have to be shifted to the user-side charging of electric vehicles?

    5. What are the likely social, political, infrastructure, governmental, and economic effects of this shift in land use?

    I’ve given this question to some of the smartest. most experienced people around the world.

    No group has yet gotten to an “answer”, because the discussions this Brain Teaser unleashes are so interesting and expansive.

    • The other piece of NYC EV use is the percentage of owners who park on the street as opposed to those who have a dedicated spot to park. When I visit my son in Brooklyn we pan 4 hours to the George Washington Bridge, 1 hour to Park Slope and another hour to find a place to park because competition for parking spots is so intense. Obviously it is much easier to provide charging to a dedicated spot but what if you don’t have one.

  35. I believe the soundness of aplanningengineer’s argument for contemporary alternative grid capacity is represented at scale most demonstrably in Germany. Germany represents the model for where the limits of renewables currently are, at 16-20%, relative to a large country with variable needs and conditions. The argument becomes self evident when looking at their recent supplemental buildout of coal fired plants to replace the shut down of nuclear on their grid. Some have used this as the sole excuse/reason for adding more coal to their grid, but it ignores a common sense extrapolation; if adding more solar and wind alternative energy to the grid were viable for them they would have opted to replace their nuclear with yet more solar and wind generation. They didn’t do that for both technological feasibility and cost reasons, they went with coal (which they have in abundance). According to authorities in Germany, it will take 20 years for the country to pay the costs of their current alternative buildout. Germany slightly increased its carbon footprint in 2016, not something you read much about. Adding coal to their grid wouldn’t have been their first option if they didn’t have to do it.

  36. The mistake of switching to renewables follows relentless indoctrination of the false perception that CO2 has a significant effect on climate. CO2 has no significant effect on climate. Thermalization and Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution of molecule energy explain why. At low altitudes there are about 35 times as many water vapor molecules as CO2 molecules. Each WV molecule has more than 170 absorb/emit bands in the range of significant OLR (outgoing longwave radiation) compared to only one band for CO2. EMR (electromagnetic radiation) energy absorbed by CO2 is effectively shifted by the M-B distribution to the many lower energy absorb/emit bands of water vapor molecules. The ‘notches’ in top-of-atmosphere EMR measurements above temperate zones demonstrate this.

    The only thing countering the temperature decline that would otherwise be occurring is the increasing trend in water vapor. (‘Otherwise’ results from declining net effect of ocean cycles since 2005 and declining solar activity which has been declining since 2014 and dropped below ‘breakeven’ in early 2016.) Average global atmospheric water vapor has been measured and reported by NASA/RSS since 1988 and shows an uptrend of 1.5% per decade. WV has increased about 8% since the more rapid increase began in about 1960.

    Links to source data and graphs showing this are at http://globalclimatedrivers2.blogspot.com

    The warmer temperature is welcome but the added WV increases the risk of flooding. IMO all rainwater retaining systems (dams, dykes, etc.) should be upgraded from design for 100 yr floods to 10,000 yr floods.

    • Uh, DP. Whether or not you are correct, yiu are very off topic. Bad form.

      • ris – IMO not off topic at all. The only reason for even considering renewables (wind & solar) at all at this time is the false perception that CO2 has a significant effect on climate. Hopefully wiser heads will prevail before grid instability becomes catastrophic.

        The rising water vapor explains why average global temperature is still slowly increasing . . . for now.

  37. PE: Budischak et al (2013) also studied the PJM region and determined the cheapest method for providing the region with “99.9% reliable” electricity from wind (on-shore and off-shore), solar and power storage. 30% and 80% renewable options are also presented. They started with the hour-by-hour demand and weather for a four-year period and analyzed thousand of combinations that were capable of meeting historical demand. This hour-by-hour analysis made this study unusual. ScienceofDoom discussed this study here: https://scienceofdoom.com/2015/10/20/renewables-xiv-minimized-cost-of-99-9-renewable-study/. The paper is freely available here: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378775312014759

    For 99.9% reliable renewable power, the interesting conclusion was the need to build nameplate renewable capacity about 10X average demand. That way the system can get by on 10% of nameplate capacity without tapping storage. Since solar is not very cost effective in this region and since wind delivers about 30% of nameplate capacity on the average, about 2/3’s of the renewable power generated would be wasted! The cost of storage (and probably transmission to areas with a shortage of renewable power) is too expensive. Several types of storage were considered (and possibly underpriced). They amounted to a total of 9 h of average demand (for the most expensive storage) to 72 h (for the least expensive).

    FWIW, Budischak believed that 99.9% renewable power generation would cost only modestly more than the current mix in 2030. The current generation price (w/o transmission) is about $0.10 W and almost double counting negative externalists. The cost of 99.9% renewable would be only modestly higher, depending on the cost of storage. Given that renewables still require subsides and that 2/3 of the power generated will be wasted and that expensive storage needs to be paid for, these costs don’t make complete sense to me. Someone more familiar with costs could apply them to the Budischak’s analysis. (They didn’t analyze the need for additional transmission capacity, except for off-shore wind.)

  38. Planning Engineer,

    I seem to in permanent moderation (possibly persona non grata for obvious reasons), but may I say I enjoyed your post.

    It’s a pity that common sense is not common practice.

    Oh well.

    Cheers.

  39. Pingback: Replacement Power for Indian Point – Energy Storage – Pragmatic Environmentalist of New York

  40. Australia spends about $3B a year on wind and solar subsideis. Mostly as a renewable energy target which requires utilities to buy a defined percentage of renewable generation. The cost is passed on to consumers and adds about 10% to residential bills. The actual use of renewable energy was about 14% of the total last year. At that level there is no especially onerous integration issues.

    Coal prices have recently spiked on the world market with growing demand – gas prices doubled in Australia in the past few years. Both are the result of artificially constraining production by regulation and through serial, frivolous litigation paid for by a foundation associated with Hilary Clinton.

    It has acted to delay adding to gas generation capacity – and substantially reduced international competitiveness. Some 3GW of new capacity is required essentially now to meet peak summer demand. I’d suggest gas co-generation and tri-generation – in concert with bringing the gas market back into balance – scattered across the country. I’d suggest as well that the LCOE of wind and solar are currently less than coal and gas in Australia. Imagine the money we can save.

    Where fuel costs are increasing – they quickly dominate the energy cost equation – and costs of coal and gas will rise. The cost of nuclear energy is quite likely to fall.

    I suspect that many of you are flogging a dead horse in resisting wind and solar. The rest of you over estimate both the potential of these ‘renewables’ and over estimate the risk of putting carbon dioxide into Emperor Moshpit’s air.

    ‘The timing and scale of the challenges relating to VRE integration will depend on the characteristics of each individual power system. Since many countries are starting to introduce VRE, this report specifically focuses on the initial deployment phase. This report helps policy makers and other stakeholders understand how to determine what challenges are likely to be encountered as they introduce wind and solar power and when these are likely to emerge. Most importantly, it suggests the solutions at hand at each step of the way to a cleaner, more resilient and – likely – cheaper power system.”

    https://www.iea.org/newsroom/news/2017/march/getting-wind-and-sun-onto-the-grid.html

  41. Roger Sowell and Robert Ellison – I must apologize-I got you two commentators confused and was thinking of them both coming from a common source. I conflated some points the two of you were making and misattributed them to a single source.

    No rancor from you Mr Sowell and I am sorry for implying that your previous communications had previously been anything less then polite. You certainly did not tell me to suck eggs or bring my deceased grandmother into things, Obviously you have been well aware of vars for some time. So while i was trying to be polite to Mr Ellison – I probably would have spoken differently if I realized who I was/wasn’t writing too.

    I was heavy involved in some of the WSSC (pre WECC) planning groups back in the late 80s. Likely our paths crossed.

    Thanks for your input and again my apologies for the confusion,

    • No worries here. I appreciate the post, and your responses to my comments. The PJM has a serious problem facing it, if the RPS of the various states are to be achieved. 2025 is only 8 years away, which is very little time in the electrical utility industry.

      Shutting down 30 GW of nuclear and replacing that power will require 30 GW of natural gas CCGT, plus approximately 100 GW of wind installed. Some simple math shows that, with 4 MW wind turbines, PJM will need 25,000 turbines installed in only 8 years. Somebody had better get busy fabricating wind turbines. If the gas-fired plants are not built, then some form of grid-scale storage is required. Somebody had better get busy fabricating the storage systems, also.

      The other fascinating, perhaps inevitable result, is that more wind power installed capacity drives down the market wholesale price of electricity. That leads to economic ruin for nuclear plants, and they shut down. The US has seen this over and over again in the past 5 or 6 years.

      The alternative is for nuclear plant owners to run crying to the state legislatures, begging for handouts in the form of direct subsidies. Some gullible legislatures have taken the bait and use taxpayer dollars to subsidize the obsolete nuclear plants. This is but a short-term solution, as 40-year old nuclear plants face huge investments just to keep running, but the economics are just not there to support the investments. Also, nuclear plants’ onstream factor declines as they age, witness France’s problems. It is a big issue for a grid to have 1,000 MW fail suddenly without warning. PJM will face that problem, also.

      Very interesting times ahead for the PJM. Good luck to all involved.

      I, for one, will be watching with interest.

      Thanks again for an interesting post.

    • I’m pretty sure it’s a metaphorical grandmother.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teaching_grandmother_to_suck_eggs

      I discussed the South Australian black event with reference to the final report.

      I won’t go over it again in any detail. But a few transition towers blew over in high winds, line voltage drops over a few seconds tripped out some winds farms, the loss of a relatively minor resource tripped the interconnector to the national grid and the entire SA island grid system collapsed.

      The sensitivity to short term voltage drops has been addressed – with changed control settings. It was quite obviously not a problem with intermittency. The initial problem was the voltage drops – there is a recommendation for additional synchronous condenser capacity on the SA grid.

      There seems little relevant response to the report except arm waving about inertia and huge costs.

      The IEA report I referenced suggests that there few costs and problems with the levels of penetration of wind and solar – some 7.5% when hydro is discounted – seen in Australia.

      I admitted self-deprecatingly that I don’t know a vars from my arse – it is not really a significant intellectual deficit and I want some credit for researching it. Although I am not an expert on vars – which are to do with synchronizing the phase of the signal on a grid – I am into energy (and water) technology, physics, economics and energy policy. I don’t pretend to be a 10 minute internet expert on everything. I never claim a personal authority and am very disciplined in citing reputable sources. I never indulge in arm waving and tend to get a bit annoyed at it – especially if in concert with an exaggerated air of self importance.

      The moral panic at wind and solar generation seems a vast overreaction consisting of little real information and much arm waving –
      and is at any rate too little too late.

      • Robert – do you have a reason for dismissing inertia? Whether you believe in it or not, have heard or it or not, choose to ignore it or not – it is basic physics. Just like gravity it can’t be ignored. Today’s grids can’t be built with inertia less generation any more then a skyscraper can be built with styrofoam substituting for numerous Steele beams.

        Calling references to inertia handwaving seems like willfull ignorance. Here are some scholarly papers. There is no shortage of such.

        https://arxiv.org/pdf/1312.6435.pdf
        https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/1cd1/9e3ae4b3ff6919570cf6faa693a13d21652a.pdf

        https://www.researchgate.net/publication/285783015_The_relevance_of_inertia_in_power_systems

        Limits amounts of solar and wind are fine, calls for 100% are ludicrous. Concerns exist for levels midway.

      • PE:
        What I am trying to reconcile is Sowell’s California example below. Where is the rotating inertia coming from?

      • Let’s just quickly define generator inertia.

        “Conventional power plants respond naturally and instantly to frequency dips because the momentum of their spinning turbines, synched to the grid, resist deceleration. This slows the frequency drop, buying precious seconds during which power reserves are mobilized to fill the supply gap.”

        The simplest of physics in other words.

        … oh but inertia… doesn’t mean much unless there is a context… and seems not a critical limit at the relatively low levels of current penetration. The technology is rapidly evolving as well. It is –
        seemingly – not relevant to the SA problems.

        “Recent ride-through trouble in Australia appears to be an anomaly. Nine Australian wind farms did shut down during a series of storm-induced faults, that blacked-out the state of South Australia in September, and Australia’s prime minister attacked renewable energy as a threat to energy security. However, an investigation by the Australian Energy Market Operator blamed errant wind farm control settings, and it says some operators have corrected them.

        In fact, most wind and solar farms can do much more than just stick around during trouble. For example, most utility-scale installations—and even some residential rooftop solar systems—are designed to combat voltage sags on power grids. Their electronic inverters can detect brownouts and generate reactive power (AC whose current wave leads its voltage wave) to raise the grid voltage.”

        http://spectrum.ieee.org/energywise/energy/renewables/can-synthetic-inertia-stabilize-power-grids

        There are no technical limits to wind ans solar penetration – certainly not inertia it seems. It needs enough storage which – if batteries – will instantaneously stabilise the system. Advanced nuclear – I admit – is possibly a more practical alternative.

        It seems willful ignorance to persist in irrelevant hand waving about how ignorant I am.

      • Ragnaar – The numbers in Sowell’s California numbers still have plenty of room as it appears the majority of the power even in these periods are comes from synchronous machines. They are providing inertia. Maybe I am misinterpreting your question? If not remember that to achieve averages of 20% you will have many hours with not intermittent so you will need high levels later. So if California is achieving below 20% averages now, but needing 40% days to do it, implicit in the goal to achieve 30% penetration (which won’t be helped by zero times) is the necessity that the periods with 40% now will need to climb significantly above current levels. (I think the climb would be more exponential than linear.) Also, just because they are doing it, doesn’t mean all is good. See Chrism56 below. (I hope to work on and and some comments on that.

        To those following Mr Elliot. He states: “There are no technical limits to wind ans solar penetration – certainly not inertia it seems.” I think he is only making that statement because he thinks synthetic inertia can completely replace rotating inertia.
        The citation he provided are regards the potential for synchronous inertia to allow 100% wind says: “The short answer is good, but not good enough to support massive wind power growth.”

        Synthetic inertia can help but in the foreseeable future it is not remotely envisioned as stand alone solution. Good background info here:
        https://www.ethz.ch/content/dam/ethz/special-interest/itet/institute-eeh/power-systems-dam/documents/SAMA/2015/Telegina-MA-2015.pdf

        See this source “The solution is a viable one, but not enough to support massive wind power growth.” http://www.esdnews.com.au/12179-2/

        I could go on and on and on here.

        As a “helper” solution it imposes large costs which the wind and solar providers do not want to be responsible for.

      • For Ragnaar re May 13, 2017 at 10:20 pm
        “PE: What I am trying to reconcile is Sowell’s California example below. Where is the rotating inertia coming from?”

        If I may, even though your question was not directed to me.

        The data I showed for CA also has quite a bit of conventional, rotating generation via nuclear (1.1 GW in-state, plus imports from Arizona), large hydroelectric, and natural gas-fired. There is also approximately 1 GW of geothermal that is rotating generation. Combined, rotating generation provided approximately 9 GW when solar plus wind provided approximately 13 GW (this was at the most extreme hour, around 3 pm).

        That works out to approximately 4 GW from natural gas, 3 GW from hydroelectric, 1 GW from geothermal, and 1.1 GW from nuclear.

        This is very specific to California’s resources. Most states do not have that much geothermal, nor that much solar. PJM of course has much more coal and nuclear than does California.

      • PE:

        Thank you. I see now. California can have production of around 50% solar and wind without synthetic inertia. I read the semanticscholar link, it is a short read, and it agrees with what you’ve been saying I think and it I found a conservative approach which I think favors reliability. Synthetic inertia is going to cost money and not having it will be replaced with requirements for it as penetration levels increase. If the solar and wind generators not owned by the utilities don’t pay for it, then the utilities will pay for it.

        I seem to recall solar and wind with batteries provide inertia. The generator charges a battery(s) and power is drawn from the battery(s) like in a car. Did I make this up or would requiring solar and wind with batteries on sight be an acceptable answer?

  42. A further comment on a sizable grid, with substantial wind plus solar generation. I use California’s online published CAISO data for this, for the Friday, May 12, 2017. see http://content.caiso.com/green/renewrpt/20170512_DailyRenewablesWatch.txt

    and http://content.caiso.com/green/renewrpt/20170512_DailyRenewablesWatch.pdf

    The data is for a single moment at 4 pm, and the daily total production.

    Grid load at 4 pm: ………………………….. 25,639 MW
    Wind…………………………………………….. 4,318 (16.8 percent)
    Solar (combined PV and thermal)…….. 7,672 (31.8 percent)

    Daily (24 hour totals) in MWh

    Grid total……………………………………… 586,868 MWh/day
    Wind total…………………………………….. 86,659 (14.8 percent)
    Solar total…………………………………….. 84,890 (14.5 percent)

    Total daily penetration, solar plus wind: 29.3 percent.

    It is clear that, having exceeded the “hard limit” of 20 percent renewables (CA obviously managed 29.3 percent for the entire day), the PJM conclusion of 20 percent as a hard upper limit is falsified. (only wind and solar are counted in this assessment)

    Perhaps the PJM generation mix actually does require only 20 percent as a hard upper limit; I would not be surprised with all that inflexible nuclear power on the PJM grid. In California, clearly 20 percent is not an upper limit. California has only 2.2 GW of nuclear on the grid at this time. In the 5/12/2017 day, one of the two reactors at Diablo Canyon nuclear plant was offline for refueling. Therefore, only 1.1 GW of nuclear was running that day.

    None of this is a surprise; IEEE engineers have studied this and published over the years that the key to integrating intermittent renewables is a flexible generation mix that can easily ramp up and down as required. In the alternative, some form of grid-scale storage is required. Or, a combination of flexible generation and storage. Clearly, nuclear plants will not ramp up and down, nor shut down daily if asked to. Gas fired CCGT plants can and easily do this, routinely.

    • It is very different to say you can’t exceed an average annual percentage of more than 20% wind/solar supply and saying that a moment or a day can’t exceed that number. If you are going to average 10 to 15% for the year some days ( and of course hours ) will of practical necessity be over 40% to hold that average as many hours and days will be well bellow the average and must be balanced out. Showing that California has some high days is not an arguement for Disbelieving PJM annual average numbers.

      • For Planning Engineer,

        We will disagree over this one. The fact that California surpasses 20 percent wind plus solar over 24 hours is mute testimony to there not being a limit at that point. That Friday was no fluke, either. The following day, Saturday 5/13/2017, CAISO reported solar at 17.2 percent and wind at 16.3 percent of the daily total production. Combined, they met 33.5 percent of the daily grid MWh. The same will almost certainly happen again today, a Sunday. The CAISO has low demand on weekends, but the sunshine and wind are as strong as usual.

        And, it must be noted that the solar output is not at the peak period, which occurs during June and July because the summer solstice is June 21. Solar production, alone, will be 20 percent or more on weekends in that two-month period.

        There is a slight argument in your favor, that these high daily penetration levels occur in mid-Spring, when grid loads are low due to the mild weather. Air conditioners are not yet running all-out as they will be in mid-Summer. A typical Summer weekend, in August, will have a bit less solar production as a percent of the daily production. However, wind output typically increases in the Summer; this offsets the reduced solar output.

        In any event, CA has approximately 2 GW of solar that will be ready for operation in 2018, and 2 GW additional for each year after that. I hope you will take the time to periodically check the stats and see for yourself that CA easily exceeds the 20 percent annual penetration of solar plus wind. The current planning for solar installations have that as 4 years from now, or in 2021.

        At that time, CA will have approximately 20 GW of solar, and 5 GW of wind installed. I expect that the regulating bodies, CPUC and CA Energy Commission, will mandate grid-scale storage on the order of 5 GW, possibly 7 or 8 GW. That combination will allow rotating generation of at least 5 GW at all times, thus providing the stability required.

        As more experience is gained with smart converters, the solar, wind, and battery-delivered power will provide grid stability on their own. It should also be noted that ARES North America is building a rail-based gravity storage system on the CA border in Nevada. These have very low cost, excellent reliability, and low energy losses. It may not be batteries exclusively that stores power for the grid in California. We also have pumped storage hydroelectric, of course.

      • Roger Sowell – I’m not sure what we disagree about. If anything – maybe we are just making different points. I find you credible. California can deal with the levels we are seeing. California could have 20% renewable 8760 hours per year. I have not disagreed with what you are saying there about the system being able to handle 20%.

        But if it had 20% renewables at all times, shoulder times (for economic use of that resource base) would have to greatly exceed 20%. How much and for how long is the question. Trying to use those resources in there prime hours would not only exceed the capability of the system to work reliably but also it’s ability to absorb the energy.

        Now maybe we disagree as to whether this level comes with a degradation in reliability or not. I don’t understand how you can expect no change in reliability. My comments below to chrism56 explain my take there.

    • I don’t think baseload conventional is the problem. That has inertia. I think he’s talking about rotating sync that gives us something like 50-60 hertz. I imagine a conventional generator turning at X rpms give us so many hertz. Inflexible nuclear is for the most part, in sync contributing to stability.

      • Ragnaar,

        Nuclear is not inherently inflexible. It is just cheaper to use nuclear that is not designed for load following until the nuclear proportion of electricity approaches the baseload. See my comment on nuclear’s flexibility capability here: https://judithcurry.com/2017/05/09/renewable-resources-and-the-importance-of-generation-diversity/#comment-848926

      • I was just using his term to try to be clear what I was responding to.

      • For Lang, (again, as usual) re nuclear power in load-following mode:

        The already extremely high costs of nuclear power will be proportionally higher as load-following occurs. The very high capital costs of $10,000 per kW installed must be recovered by a smaller production of kWh.

        Therefore, I do encourage nuclear plants to run as load-following. They are uneconomic as it is as baseload, and an average of 90 percent onstream (until they reach old age as France’s have – then it’s more like 75 percent). Let’s run them at 60 percent average as load-following and almost double the cost per kWh.

        And just for reference, PJM recently installed a 1000 MW gas-fired CCGT plant at Lordstown, Ohio, specifically to follow the load and stabilize the grid that has 5000 MW of wind power installed. The cost was just under $1 billion, for an installed cost per kW of $1000.

        Nuclear power can never, ever, compete with that.

        Here is what an all-nuclear grid would do to power prices: “Preposterous Power Pricing if Nuclear Power Proponents Prevail,” March 15, 2014

        http://sowellslawblog.blogspot.com/2014/03/the-truth-about-nuclear-power-part-two.html

  43. There is an absolute need to transition to 21st energy relatively soon. It is simple economics – increasing demand for increasingly scarce resources will create price that put global development at risk. It will involve advanced nuclear technology very soon. Not the lumbering dinosaurs currently in use.

    “To provide [electricity] in today’s world, an ‘advanced reactor’ must improve over existing reactors in the following 4-core objectives. It must produce significantly less costly, cost-competitive clean electricity, be safer, produce significantly less waste and reduce proliferation risk. It is not sufficient to excel at one without regard to the others.” Dr. Christina Back, Vice President, Nuclear Technologies and Materials for General Atomics, May 2016 testimony before the US Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on the status of advanced nuclear technologies.

    I think it is likely to include conversion of excess electricity from low LCOE wind and solar generation – with more cost cuts to come – to gas. Solar in particular has significant potential for lower costs and for increases in deployment. The only impediment to producing hydrogen from energy that would otherwise be wasted and injecting it into the gas distribution system is cost.

    e.g. http://www.fch.europa.eu/sites/default/files/Ph%20BOUCLY%20%28ID%202436337%29%20%28ID%202497333%29.pdf

    Over-generate and turn the excess into a product. Liquid fuels or methane for instance. It is just technology.

    “Dr. Huyen N. Dinh, from NREL’s Chemistry and Nanoscience Center, will be the director for HydroGEN. “HydroGEN brings together capabilities that can only be found in the national lab system and makes them easily available to material developers in academia and industry,” Dinh said. “Our research strategy integrates computational tools and modelling, material synthesis, process and manufacturing scale-up, characterisation, system integration, data management, and analysis to accelerate advanced water splitting material development.”

    “In February (2015), the Energy Department announced the launch of the Energy Materials Network (EMN), an initiative crafted to give US entrepreneurs and manufacturers a competitive edge in the global race for clean energy. EMN focuses on tackling one of the major barriers to widespread commercialisation of clean energy technologies-namely the design, testing, and production of advanced materials. By strengthening and facilitating industry access to the unique scientific and technical advanced materials innovation resources available at the Energy Department’s national labs, the network will help industry bring these materials to market more quickly.

    As part of the EMN, the HydroGEN consortium will provide industry and academia the expertise and capabilities to more quickly develop, characterise, and deploy high performance, low cost advanced water splitting materials for lower cost hydrogen production.

    HydroGEN will address advanced water splitting materials challenges by:

    Making novel national lab capabilities, expertise, techniques, and equipment relevant to advanced water splitting materials research more accessible to external stakeholders, including researchers in industry, academia, and other laboratories.
    Establishing robust online data portals that capture and share the results of non-proprietary research.

    Facilitating collaboration between researchers working on the three water splitting pathways and addressing common materials challenges and resource needs, such as high throughput synthesis techniques and auxiliary component design.” https://www.hydrocarbonengineering.com/clean-fuels/25102016/nrel-to-develop-advanced-water-splitting-for-hydrogen-production/

    It is a global challenge and to the swift goes the race.

  44. I don’t know if this study was already linked above (I still have to go through the thread), but here is an interesting meta-analysis of sorts of optimal energy portfolio studies for “deep decarbonization.” One interesting finding is that after a certain point, deeper decarbonization implies a SMALLER share of wind and solar in the optimal power portfolio.
    http://innovationreform.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/EIRP-Deep-Decarb-Lit-Review-Jenkins-Thernstrom-March-2017.pdf

  45. Peter Lang

    Key relevant facts about energy sources to supply the world’s energy after fossil fuels

    Nuclear fuel is sufficient to supply the world’s energy needs effectively indefinitely.

    In contrast, renewables cannot supply a substantial proportion of global electricity – let alone global energy needs – so they are not a sustainable or economically viable solution.

    Nuclear is the safest way to generate electricity – it has been since it began. Therefore, those who argue for market distortions – including regulation because of perceived risk – should really be arguing for subsidies for nuclear, or penalties for other technologies in proportion to the deaths and health effects they cause per TWh of electricity supplied.

    There is no valid basis for the nuclear power scaremongering. The widespread fear of nuclear power has been generated by 50 years of misinformation and irresponsible scaremongering by the anti-nuclear protest movement, including the so called ‘environmental’ NGOs.

    Without market distortions, including the exorbitant subsidies, renewables are many times more expensive than nuclear.

    The current high cost of nuclear is not an inherent property of nuclear power. Nuclear would now be 10% of its current cost if the pre 1970s learning rates had continued: https://cama.crawford.anu.edu.au/publication/cama-working-paper-series/9070/nuclear-power-learning-and-deployment-rates-disruption .

    The root cause of the disruption to progress was the anti-nuclear power protest movement and the enviro-evangelists’ scaremongering over the past 50 years.

    Nuclear power is inherently cheap with almost unlimited potential for cost reductions. But the world can only reap the benefits when the impediments to progress are removed.

    The USA needs to lead the way to remove the impediments. IAEA and Europe and the rest of the world will follow USA’s lead, but they are incapable of leading.

    Nuclear will become significantly simpler and cheaper when production and competition ramps up. This will happen once the irrational impediments that are slowing nuclear power development and deployment are removed. But it will take a long time. Progress has been delayed by 50 years – see Figures 3, 4, 5 and 6 here https://cama.crawford.anu.edu.au/publication/cama-working-paper-series/9070/nuclear-power-learning-and-deployment-rates-disruption. In 1970 a capacity doubling required an additional 76 GW be added globally; in 2015 it required an additional 500 GW. The current deployment rate is similar to what it was in 1967. So, it will take much longer to double capacity now (and reduce costs by 20%-30%) than if learning rates had continued, and deployment rates had continued to accelerate, at the pre-1970’s rates.

    Only slow progress will be made until people get over their fears and beliefs that nuclear is unsafe, that renewables can make a substantial contribution to global energy supply, and that fossil fuels do more harm than good. To achieve this, people need to become better informed about the relevant facts and then inform others.

    • For Lang, re your incessant comments on the (supposed) virtues of nuclear power (that has not been invented yet, but “someday” will exist)

      All that is completely refuted by the following:

      An interesting article from 2011 gives several points why it is highly impractical to use nuclear power for future energy needs (“Is Nuclear Power Globally Scalable?” Abbot, D., Proceedings of the IEEE, Vol. 99, No. 10, pp. 1611–1617, 2011).

      Professor Abbot concludes that there simply are not enough resources (rare metals for alloys, uranium for fuel, etc) to supply [what he stated is ] the 15,000 GW of electricity the world uses. [ Note: checking the 15,000 GW electric installed capacity shows Abbot is off by a factor of approximately 3, as EIA statistics show the world had 5,085 GW installed in 2010, the same year Abbot used. ] However, it would only require 55 years at an annual growth rate of 2 percent per year to reach the 15,000 GW as Abbot states in his article. As this article is about the very long-term future, we can accept the 15,000 GW number.

      Furthermore, replacing the plants as they reach the end of their life creates huge problems. Using 15,000 nuclear plants online at one time (at 1 GW each), and my number of 40 years life (maximum), this requires 375 plants to be under construction every single day. Stated another way, the world must start up a bit more than one new reactor every day, forever. This is probably a low number, as it is likely that world energy consumption will increase beyond present-day 5,000 GW. If, in perhaps 100 years, the world requires 35,000 GW, then there must be almost 4 plants started up every day. (A growth rate of 2 percent per year over 100 years gives 35,000-plus GW).

      More problematically, the world would retire and decommission an equal number of reactors, one per day for the 15,000 demand. Given that many years (10 to 20) are required to decommission, there would be thousands upon thousands of decommissioning projects, in perpetuity. Finding appropriate disposal sites for the radioactive remains of all those deactivated nuclear power plants will present quite a problem.

      Abbot’s article addresses 15 issues, which are good reading but I am not sure how accurate the numbers are. Given the discrepancy in Abbot’s claiming 15,000 GW and the EIA stating 5,000 GW installed capacity as of 2010, the article bears close checking. In any event, here are the 15 issues Abbot addresses:

      1. Not enough plant sites (away from population, near cooling water, etc)
      2. Land area required per plant
      3. Embrittlement problem (nuclear bombardment renders the alloy un-recyclable)
      4. Entropy problem
      5. Nuclear waste disposal
      6. Nuclear accident rate problem
      7. Proliferation (weapons grade materials, and dirty bombs with non-weapons grade nuclear waste)
      8. Energy of extraction (ever-increasing costs of mining dilute ores for uranium)
      9. Uranium resource limits
      10. Seawater extraction for uranium (high costs)
      11. Fast Breeder Reactors
      12. Fusion Reactors (never going to happen)
      13. Materials Resources (lack of suitable materials of construction, especially rare alloy metals)
      14. Elemental diversity
      15. Nuclear power and Climate Change

      It is notable that Abbot did not discuss the economics of an all-nuclear grid, the load-following problems, and that these issues are greatly increased as wind and solar power are added to the grid.

      It’s a shame to see Mr. Lang keep harping on the future of nuclear power, when such an industry is doomed from the start. The nuclear golden age is over; the sunset years are here. Good bye, and good riddance!

      • Perhaps he was referring to the 15TW challenge?

        https://thebreakthrough.org/generation_archive/the_scale_of_the_challenge_and

        We need 60,000 of these – and neither fuel or material is much of an issue. The US could power itself for 400 years from existing waste piles. Mass produced in robot factories – seems doable.

      • You can tell any story you want Roger when you make up your own scenario. Most proponents of nuclear power do not argue for a 100% nuclear world or construction of sites world wide. In other words you make up a scenario in order to then “create” problems which otherwise don’t exist. Take your proliferation scenario. Bogus. Proliferation is driven by nation states wanting their own nuclear weapons and using nuclear generation as a cover. It is not driven by construction of plants in first world democracies. Number’s 1, 2 5, 6 and 9 are also bogus.

        And while even I can tire of Peter’s constant harping on the wonders of nuclear power, his points tend to have a firmer foundation in fact than yours.

  46. Particulate emissions from coal plants are reduced by 99.9% using currently available technology. The link to health problems is quite outdated.

    Light water reactor are stumbling behemoths that use 1/2% of available energy in uranium. If these plants generated all the worlds electricity the entire uranium reserve would be used within decades. Efficiency has remained at around 34% for a long time. Size has increased to increase thermal efficiency economics of scale – but the size and complexity has caused capital costs to increase exponentially. For the new Hinkley reactor in the UK – ‎€18 billion and costs are rising. The very heavy forging capacity in operation today for reactor pressure vessels is in Japan (Japan Steel Works), China (China First Heavy Industries, China Erzhong, SEC), France (Le Creusot), and Russia (OMZ Izhora). Both Japan and France have very serious quality control problems. The aging fleet of nuclear reactors is being rapidly retired and not being replaced. The reactors produce large amounts of long lived waste which is mostly sitting around in ponds and drums. There are large costs and uncertainties with decommissioning. There is still the ever present reality of small to large nuclear accidents. There is still the problem of nuclear proliferation.

    Peter Lang is indulging in the age old practice of flogging a dead horse.

    • … thermal efficiency (and) economics of scale

      • What one President can decide, another can undecided. You are using a policy decision to support your point, not a technical one. There is no risk for running out of uranium unless we create it ourselves.

    • Robert,

      They learned how to recycle the fuel rods a long time ago. Your prediction of the world running out of uranium due to the 1 – 2 % usage flat out false.

      • “France, Russia, the United Kingdom, China, and Japan reprocess commercial nuclear fuel. India, Israel, Pakistan, and North Korea use similar methods to recover plutonium for nuclear weapons from their reactors designed for that purpose. The United States decided, under Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter, not to reprocess commercial reactor fuel because of the risk of nuclear proliferation, hoping to set an example for the rest of the world.

        No private companies reprocess nuclear fuel. Areva is 87% owned by French governmental entities. Russia has reprocessed nuclear fuel in the past and is committed to a closed fuel cycle, but has no reprocessing plants currently operating. The UK has three operating reprocessing plants. China has an operating plant at the Lanzhou Nuclear Fuel Complex and has contracted with Areva to build another one. Japan has had fuel reprocessed in France and Britain and has been building a plant at Rokkasho-mura. The future of Japan’s nuclear program is not clear.

        Building plutonium nuclear weapons requires reprocessing technology, so we may surmise that the countries that have nuclear weapons also have reprocessing capabilities, although they keep that information classified.”

        Reprocessing is a fairly minor aspect of the nuclear industry – I could give you numbers but why don’t you look them up. It remains true – as I said –
        that if these dinosaurs supplied global energy requirements uranium reserves would be exhausted within decades. It also leaves additional intractable waste streams. There are much better options that don’t involve reprocessing.

      • Timg56

        They learned how to recycle the fuel rods a long time ago. Your prediction of the world running out of uranium due to the 1 – 2 % usage flat out false.

        Correct.

        Nuclear fuel is effectively unlimited

        Uranium is sufficient to supply all the world’s energy consumption (10 billion people at the the US per capita energy consumption rate) for thousands of years/

        Thorium – four times more than uranium

        Fusion – effectively unlimited.

      • The US doesn’t have a reprocessing facility – since Jimmy Carter. LWR use about 1/2% of the available energy in uranium. On the other hand – the ‘waste’ accumulated is sufficient to power the US for 400 years with fast neutron reactors.

  47. Peter Lang

    If we assume for simplicity the world average Value of a Statistical Life (VSL) is $1 million, the external cost of deaths per MWh for the various electricity generation technologies is numerically the same as the deaths per TWh http://www.nextbigfuture.com/2012/06/deaths-by-energy-source-in-forbes.html . Using the global average deaths per TWh listed in ‘Deaths by energy source in Forbes’, the LCOE of each technology would need to be increased by ($/MWh) to balance out the external cost of deaths per technology:

    Nuclear: $0.09
    Wind: $0.15
    Solar: $0.44
    Gas: $4.00
    Coal: $60.00

    These are global averages. For coal in USA add $15/MWh

    The key point is that nuclear is the safest way to generate electricity. If we want to argue to penalise nuclear for its health and safety risks, then it would seem fair we should also argue for higher penalties for other technologies. Would you agree?

    • Even at old plants retrofits will enable 98% sulfur and 99.9% particulate reductions. The public health risk from coal plants need not exist. This is no reasonable argument for health damaging pollution. If these actuarial calculations ever had any validity – that was in the past.

      Ionizing radiation on the other hand
      is a far more problematic risk. Ionizing radiation is known to damage cells and cause cancer.

      “Much of what is known about cancer caused by radiation exposures from nuclear power plant accidents comes from research on the April 1986 nuclear power plant disaster at Chernobyl, in what is now Ukraine. The radioactive isotopes released during the Chernobyl accident included I-131, Cs-137, and Sr-90.

      Approximately 600 workers at the power plant during the emergency received very high doses of radiation and suffered from radiation sickness. All of those who received more than 6 grays (Gy) of radiation became very sick right away and subsequently died. Those who received less than 4 Gy had a better chance of survival. (A Gy is a measure of the amount of radiation absorbed by a person’s body.)

      Hundreds of thousands of people who worked as part of the cleanup crews in the years after the accident were exposed to lower external doses of ionizing radiation, ranging from approximately 0.14 Gy in 1986 to 0.04 Gy in 1989. In this group of people, there was an increased risk of leukemia.

      Approximately 6.5 million residents of the contaminated areas surrounding Chernobyl received much lower amounts of radiation. From 1986 through 2005, these people received an accumulated average dose of 0.0092 Gy from external and internal sources of radiation. Children and adolescents exposed to I-131 showed an increased risk of developing thyroid cancer.” https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/radiation/nuclear-accidents-fact-sheet

      The first category had a high death rate. Likely deaths in the hundreds of thousands of clean up workers is unknown and WHO calculates 4,000 deaths from premature cancers among the 6.5 million people in the contaminated areas.
      The number is disputed.

      We can add to that the load of never before seen nucleotides from hundreds of nuclear accidents and releases and bomb tests to which we are exposed. The effects vary depending on how we are exposed.

      You basically wan’t a sealed core with no possibility of meltdown.

      • Risks from ionizing radiation has been greatly exaggerated. The studies reporting increased risk of cancers pretty much pull numbers out of a hat. The majority of fatalities excluding the first responders who went in to fight the fires were children suffering from thyroid cancers. The majority of those deaths were preventable and happened because the Russian government withheld iodine doses from being distributed immediately. They were trying to downplay the severity of the accident.

        Then there is the little matter of reactor design. Anyone who uses Chernobyl was an example of the risks from nuclear generation is at best being disingenuous and at worse intentionally dishonest.

      • Robert: “The effects vary depending on how we are exposed.”

        Very true.

        The effects from exposure to ionising radiation at Fukushima are disputed, but some argue are in the range of 0-1 fatalities.

        The effects from exposure to people with their talk of “nucleotides” are disputed, but some argue are in the range of 0-3,000 fatalities.

        http://euanmearns.com/who-killed-hamako-watanabe/

        As you say: the dose matters.

        And Chernobyl is certainly a worry for Ukrainians. It is good that you worry on their behalf about this disaster because no Ukrainian I know has mentioned it in at least a decade. It seems they have less understanding of what blights them than you.

      • “The effects vary depending on how we are exposed.” Internally or externally makes a difference. The exposure on ingestion or inhalation is much greater than with exposure from external sources – trivial and misguided point scoring notwithstanding.

    • There are a couple of memes here – Chernobyl doesn’t matter because it was – well – Russia and Fukushima doesn’t matter because more people died from stress. The subject was ionizing radiation – and Chernobyl comes up because it was intensively studied over decades. So we had 50 odd deaths immediately, an unknown number at risk in the 100’s of thousands in the clean up crews and a WHO estimated 4,000 death toll in the contamination zone where 6.5 million people live. It tends to suggest that ionizing radiation is not entirely safe – and the risks multiply if radioactive substances are inhaled or ingested. One wonders what the rational alternative to evacuation is? The short answer seems to be that there is no rational alternative – but it doesn’t seem to slow them down.

      This is pre-Fukushima.

      “The background level of radiation in oceans and seas varies around the globe. Measured in atomic disintegrations per second (Becquerels) of cesium-137 in a cubic meter of water, this variation becomes readily apparent. The primary source of cesium-137 has been nuclear weapons testing in the Pacific Ocean, but some regions have experienced additional inputs. The Irish Sea in 2008 showed elevated levels compared to large ocean basins as a result of radioactive releases from the Sellafield reprocessing facility at Seacastle, U.K. Levels in the Baltic and Black Seas are elevated due to fallout from the 1986 explosion and fire at the Chernobyl nuclear reactor. By comparison, EPA drinking water standard for cesium-137 is 7,400 Bq/m3. (Data courtesy of MARiS/IAEA and CMER; Illustration by Jack Cook, courtesy Coastal Ocean Institute, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)”

      Current cesium-137 Becquerel counts in places in the Pacific are over 400 Bq/litre. It is an indicator for novel, anthropogenic nucleotides which add to background radiation doses.

      http://ourradioactiveocean.org/results

      Still let’s look on the bright side – it will help enormously with ocean mixing studies.

      “Perhaps the biggest news of 2015 is that we have begun seeing more sites, especially offshore where we have expanded our sampling, with contamination directly linked to Fukushima. These data are important for two reasons: First, they indicate that, despite the presence of these radioactive isotopes, the levels of contamination remain well below government-established safety limits for human health or to marine life. Second, these long-lived radioisotopes will serve as markers for years to come for scientists studying ocean currents and mixing in coastal and offshore waters.”

      So we have increases in ionizing radiation from novel radionuclides from nuclear accidents both small and large and little understanding of the risk of even small doses in the global population. It is all so unnecessary – there are nuclear options that do not create any of the risks of huge, lumbering, costly, inefficient, dinosaur nuclear plants these guys seem so fond of.

      And they always begin with snark and innuendo in defending their always so obvious groupthink where the memes from blogospheric echo chambers are repeated endlessly. Note that they provide only a blog post and some misdirected arm waving – and not a coherent discussion based on multiple reputable sources. It seems all such nonsense.

      • Tell that to the people who have returned to their homes.

        The WHO numbers are bogus. Almost all of the angst over deaths and cancers following Chernobyl was overblown and has not come to pass. As for Fukushima I believe they are still waiting on the first fatality related to the breach in containment.

        The survivors of the two US atomic bomb attacks have been widely studied. What those studies show is that rates of cancer are no greater than the average in Japan, and that rates of other diseases is actually lower. An honest observer would note that the latter factor could be due to genetics and not an effect of exposure to radiation. Similar studies have been done on US ship workers, with similar results. The body has an incredible ability to repair itself after exposure to ionizing radiation. The fear of it causing cancer is based more on the ignorance seen in 50’s science fiction movies than good science. You guys do know that radiation is used to combat cancers, right?

      • There is a no-threshold linear increase in cancers with increasing exposure to ionizing radiation. This is not widely disputed in the literature from my sparse reading. It seems mostly disputed in blogs.

        e.g. http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/70/18/7187

        There are repair mechanisms – mostly involving cell destruction – but these are increasingly tested with higher dosages. The result is small risks in a large population.

        But I find it difficult to see how radiation is good for you – in the public arena – is an argument that nuclear reactors are safe. You’re flogging a dead horse here.

    • Peter Lang

      Chernobyl and Fukushima are included (doubly) in the 0.09 deaths per TWh. Nuclear is the safest way to generate electricity and has been since the first nuclear power reactor began operations.

      • Incessantly repeating this doesn’t make a lot of sense. Modern – and retrofitted – coal plants are very safe. And I would suggest discounting the global warming costs.

        There are better, safer and cheaper sources of nuclear energy – which have 400 years of operational experience and don’t have the baggage of light water reactors.

      • Peter Lang

        Incessantly repeating your nonsense doesn’t make it so. You have not show the ranking sot be wrong. You are displaying intellectual dishonesty by avoiding the relevant points.

      • Peter Lang

        Coal in USA = ~ 15 deaths per TWh
        Nuclear in USA = ~0 deaths per TWh

      • Rob,

        The issue isn’t “Are there better designs for nuclear power plants.”

        What is the 400 years you refer to? Is that the total hours of naval propulsion from nuke power plants?

      • It is an unmoderated variant of pile design – which has major advantages over lwr. Including cost, fabrication, safety and proliferation. The 4th gen nuclear desings are mostly variants of the fast neutron piles. There have been 20 fast neutron reactors built with a cumulative operational experience of 400 years. They can as well model the cr…p out of them these days. But they are variants of the fast neutron pile. Variants are being licensed worldwide and the first – a pebble bed variant – is being built in China.

      • Peter Lang

        If you have better numbers for global average deaths per TWh from electricity generations fuel types (Coal, gas, nuclear) please post them. They must be life cycle analysis and widely regarded as authoritative.

        40 years of such studies by governments and respected have shown consistent rankings and fairly similar figures.

        Put up or shut up.

      • Peter Lang

        US EPA estimated 15,000 to 35,000 deaths per year in USA are attributable to coal fired electricity generation. EIA says electricity generation by coal is 1.173 TWh in 2013. Therefore, deaths attributable to coal fired electricity generation in 2013 was about 13 to 30 deaths per TWh.

      • Peter Lang

        Correction: 1,173 TWh

      • Numbers need to be adjusted for new and retrofitted plants. It is an argument for pollution controls and not to be used – as you are and the greenies do – for propaganda. The error margins are huge. A concept you don’t seem to understand.

      • Peter Lang

        Numbers need to be adjusted for new and retrofitted plants.

        Produce the numbers you believe, the source, and explain why they are better. Or shut up.

        Clearly you can’t. You know nothing about the subject. Your behaving like Jimmy D

  48. Reality check

    It will be many decades before the “advanced reactors under development” become commercially viable for utilities to risk investing in, other than in a few subsidized demonstration reactors. Large technologies with long operational life times, like electricity generator technologies, cannot progress rapidly like mobile phones.

    Some examples of technology development times (years since invented)

    Steam engine: 319
    Batteries: 217
    Electric motor: 195
    Petrol engine: 143
    Hydroelectric: 139
    Steam turbine: 133
    Wind turbine for electricity generation: 129
    Diesel engine: 120
    Solar thermal engine: 105
    Jet engine: 87
    Nuclear power: 66
    Solar PV: 61

    Advanced fission and fusion reactors will follow eventually, but it will be many decades before they are commercially viable. They will become viable much faster if we remove the impediments that are blocking all nuclear power. With faster deployment and less financial risk for investors, more production and competition between vendors will spur development.

    • The technology is 50 years old and is being built now. There are dozens of designs in commercialization. Licences are being sought and orders made.

      It is nuclear technology with an edge.

    • Peter Lang

      In case anyone is misled by the responses to my comment listing the times it has taken for electricity technologies to reach their current state of development, the purpose was to show that development of large, costly, complex systems with long life times take many decades. Those who believe that because a technology is being designed and developed it will soon be commercially viable are not aware of history, gullible and, in some cases, deniers of the relevant facts.

      The fact that various designs have been in development and demonstration for many decades (and some for 50 years), does not mean they are close to being commercially viable. Utilities and investors will not invest in them until they are convinced they will be profitable over their life, (including with new regulations being imposed). They need to see decades of successful and economically viable operation before they will invest. It takes decades to accumulate that, and requires huge subsidies during that time. Most fail and never become viable.

      New technologies will emerge in time. But don’t believe the claims they are juat about to be launched. Also note, WNA is very careful and conservative. They do not state a time when they will be economically viable. It is a misrepresentation to imply they did. The incessant troll posting here who attempted to imply WNA said the new technologies would soon be viable was displaying his intellectual dishonesty.

      Reality checks:

      Breeder reactors – dozens of designs have been designed, tested and demonstrated over the past 50 years – none are commercially viable (not even Russia’s BN800 or BN1200, or the pebble bed reactors, or the HTR).

      Thorium: UK NNL (2010) The Thorium Fuel Cycle: http://www.nnl.co.uk/media/1050/nnl__1314092891_thorium_cycle_position_paper.pdf

      Imagining fusion power: http://euanmearns.com/?s=fusion+reactors

      Paper versus real world reactors: Admiral Rickover (1953)

      Paper Reactors, Real Reactors

      It is incumbent on those in high places to make wise decisions and it is reasonable and important that the public be correctly informed.
      • An academic reactor or reactor plant almost always has the following basic characteristics: (1) It is simple. (2) It is small. (3) It is cheap. (4) It is light. (5) It can be built very quickly. (6) It is very flexible in purpose. (7) Very little development will be required. It will use off-the-shelf components. (8) The reactor is in the study phase. It is not being built now.
      On the other hand a practical reactor can be distinguished by the following characteristics: (1) It is being built now. (2) It is behind schedule. (3) It requires an immense amount of development on apparently trivial items. (4) It is very expensive. (5) It takes a long time to build because of its engineering development problems. (6) It is large. (7) It is heavy. (8) It is complicated.
      • The tools of the academic designer are a piece of paper and a pencil with an eraser. If a mistake is made, it can always be erased and changed. If the practical-reactor designer errs, he wears the mistake around his neck; it cannot be erased. Everyone sees it.
      • The academic-reactor designer is a dilettante. He has not had to assume any real responsibility in connection with his projects. He is free to luxuriate in elegant ideas, the practical shortcomings of which can be relegated to the category of “mere technical details.” The practical-reactor designer must live with these same technical details. Although recalcitrant and awkward, they must be solved and cannot be put off until tomorrow. Their solution requires manpower, time and money.
      • Unfortunately for those who must make far-reaching decision without the benefit of an intimate knowledge of reactor technology, and unfortunately for the interested public, it is much easier to get the academic side of an issue than the practical side. For a large part those involved with the academic reactors have more inclination and time to present their ideas in reports and orally to those who will listen. Since they are innocently unaware of the real but hidden difficulties of their plans, they speak with great facility and confidence. Those involved with practical reactors, humbled by their experiences, speak less and worry more.
      • Yet it is incumbent on those in high places to make wise decisions and it is reasonable and important that the public be correctly informed. It is consequently incumbent on all of us to state the facts as forthrightly as possible.

      Progress will be slow until the OECD countries lead the way to remove the impediments blocking progress. Rational people need to continually rebut and refute the misinformation and lies spread by the anti-nuke protest movement. Those who argue for delays until the new breed of reactors are proven are actually advocating for decades of delays with hidden agenda to keep pushing for renewables. These people are part of the group that has slowed the pace of economic development and caused more than 10 million fatalities over the past 50 years.

    • Peter,

      Everything is there to start building SMR’s right now, except the will to do so.

      • Peter Lang

        timg56,

        Technically true. However, you didn’t mention the issue of the economics. SMR’s are not economic, given the public opposition and financial risk, otherwise they would be being built. The issue is much bigger than just plant designs. The accumulation of impediments placed on nuclear power over the past 50 years have increased the cost by a factor of 10 (approx) compared with what they would be now if the pre-1970’s learning rates had continued: https://cama.crawford.anu.edu.au/publication/cama-working-paper-series/9070/nuclear-power-learning-and-deployment-rates-disruption

        We need to remove the impediments to nuclear power for the world to return to the economic growth rates that can be achieved with the enormous leap in productivity and development achievable with a transition to nuclear power. I fully recognise the time scales involved (longer than 80 year reactor life) to fully remove all the impediments that are now entrenched in nuclear power. But we need to start, not continue to deny the real cause of the problem.

      • “As the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) prepares to review and regulate a new generation of non-light water reactors (non-LWRs), a vision and strategy has been developed to assure NRC readiness to efficiently and effectively conduct its mission for these technologies.
        The domestic and international non-LWR industries have changed significantly since the last U.S. commercial non-LWR was shut down in 1989 (Fort St. Vrain, a high-temperature gas – cooled reactor (HTGR)). The NRC now operates in an environment where potential non-LWR applicants have a wide and varied range of technical, business, and regulatory
        experience. Additionally, the non-LWR industry has become globalized and commercial non-LWR plants are being designed, constructed and operated abroad. This international activity provides opportunities for information exchanges between the NRC and its international counterparts about non-LWR operating experience, international codes and standards, and
        computer modeling techniques and programs.” https://www.nrc.gov/docs/ML1635/ML16356A670.pdf

        “Generally, modern small reactors for power generation, and especially SMRs, are expected to have greater simplicity of design, economy of series production largely in factories, short construction times, and reduced siting costs. Most are also designed for a high level of passive or inherent safety in the event of malfunction. Also many are designed to be emplaced below ground level, giving a high resistance to terrorist threats. A 2010 report by a special committee convened by the American Nuclear Society showed that many safety provisions necessary, or at least prudent, in large reactors are not necessary in the small designs forthcoming. This is largely due to their higher surface area to volume (and core heat) ratio compared with large units. It means that a lot of the engineering for safety including heat removal in large reactors is not needed in the small ones. Since small reactors are envisaged as replacing fossil fuel plants in many situations, the emergency planning zone required is designed to be no more than about 300 m radius.” http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/nuclear-fuel-cycle/nuclear-power-reactors/small-nuclear-power-reactors.aspx

        “Last week, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) submitted the first-ever permit application to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for a small modular nuclear reactor. The TVA’s application comes as a huge milestone in the pathway of small modular reactors (often abbreviated SMRs) from the laboratory to the marketplace, and brings a glimmer of hope to the future of nuclear power in the United States.” https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/plugged-in/3-ways-small-modular-reactors-overcome-existing-barriers-to-nuclear/

        “The report concludes that there is an opportunity for the UK to regain technology leadership in the ownership and development of low-carbon generation and secure energy supplies through investment in SMRs. This has the potential to position the UK as a global technology vendor in these fields, and consequently to spearhead the development of the UK supply chain, enabling British businesses to develop their capability, and increase
        international trade.

        After two decades of development on SMRs, the last 3-4 years has witnessed a significant acceleration in the pace of the technology progression by many of the major reactor vendors across the globe, bringing SMRs much closer to market as a low-carbon, large scale energy source, and making them a potentially attractive technology.

        “There is a clear need for deeper investigation into the individual technologies and the capability required to deliver them to market, further financial analysis to clarify the economics case, and a testing of the possible engagement models for the UK to partner with a selected SMR technology vendor. Overall however, on initial review, this study concludes that there could be a significant market for SMRs and the UK has a narrow
        window of opportunity to participate in a joint development with a partner country, which could offer the UK a position as a market leader in nuclear low-carbon generation.” etc.

        “The utility plans to close its 3 GW Pickering nuclear plant in 2024, so it needs new carbon-free power to ensure Ontario meets its 2030 goal to cut carbon emissions by 37% below 1990 levels, and its even more ambitious 2050 goal of being 80% below 1990 levels.

        Saskatchewan is a key global uranium producer and is seen as a potential market for grid-size SMR deployment.

        OPG and Saskatchewan’s main power utility Saskpower are examining the “potential to have the same reactor design and whether it fits into the system,” Butcher said.

        “We would prefer not to have a unique reactor in our province as a single unit, we would like to have a fleet across the country,” she said.

        Canada’s own new SMR company, Terrestrial Energy Inc. (TEI), has a new small modular Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR) design that is ideal for this future, that is, a nuclear reactor that:

        – is cheaper than coal and can last for decades longer
        – is a 400 MWt (190 MWe) modular design, one able to be adapted to needs for both on and off-grid heat and power
        – is small and modular enough to allow simple construction in under 4 years, and trucking of modules to the site
        – operates at normal pressures, removing those safety issues, and at higher temperatures, providing more energy for the same amount of fuel
        – it does not require water for cooling and has the type of passive safety systems that make it walk-away safe
        – can load-follow rapidly to buffer the intermittency of renewables
        – generates less waste that is also more easily managed

        Terrestrial Energy’s reactor uses the natural convection of the molten salt to remove the heat to the vessel walls passively where its containment silo simply adsorbs the heat decay and conducts it away – this is passive cooling at its simplest.” etc. etc.

        There is a huge global market – starting with more remote areas and regions without a significant grid infrastructure – and Canada.

      • – is cheaper than coal

        And that has been demonstrated by how many years of commercial operation?

        I recall exactly the same claims being made about Phoenix, IBRII, Wolsung 1, Thorium, Hyperion, PRISM and virtually all the others.

      • All engineering begins with an estimate. You are putting the horse before the cart.

        It is cheaper than LWR for very obvious reasons that are addressed in the quotes above.

      • Here – from the World Nuclear Association – it is again.

        “Generally, modern small reactors for power generation, and especially SMRs, are expected to have greater simplicity of design, economy of series production largely in factories, short construction times, and reduced siting costs. Most are also designed for a high level of passive or inherent safety in the event of malfunction. Also many are designed to be emplaced below ground level, giving a high resistance to terrorist threats. A 2010 report by a special committee convened by the American Nuclear Society showed that many safety provisions necessary, or at least prudent, in large reactors are not necessary in the small designs forthcoming. This is largely due to their higher surface area to volume (and core heat) ratio compared with large units. It means that a lot of the engineering for safety including heat removal in large reactors is not needed in the small ones. Since small reactors are envisaged as replacing fossil fuel plants in many situations, the emergency planning zone required is designed to be no more than about 300 m radius.” http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/nuclear-fuel-cycle/nuclear-power-reactors/small-nuclear-power-reactors.aspx

    • You claim I have no experience in energy or policy and chuck a wobbly when I mention my academic background. I have worked in the gas fields in Queensland and on the Curtis Island export hub. I have worked on law and policy. None of that means anything except that you raised it.

      More relevant is a depth of professional development over decades in diverse areas. I cite hundreds of diverse and highly reputable sources. That’s how to build a credible argument. You should try it sometime.

      • Peter Lang

        Your dead right none of your claimed experience has anything to do with the subjects your comments are about. Profession development is has relevance only to the subjects you were in. However, you don’t demonstrate you got much professional development because you are obnoxious to just about everyone demonstrating you did not learn much about how to behave in a professional manner.

        I didn’t chuck a wobbly. I just pointed out your personality traits and that you including your intellectual dishonesty.

        You should learn how to participate in a rational debate.

  49. EIA’s analysis of Federal Government subsidies for renewables, nuclear, and other technologies.

    The EU subsidies for renewables are similarly exorbitant.

    Subsidies for renewables in selected European countries, 2015 [€/MWh]
    Country France Germany UK
    bioenergy 94.85 153.68 63.13
    hydro 35.21 62.3 73.27
    solar 354.07 276.8 155.19
    wind onshore 50.98 68.82 72.26
    wind offshore – 154.58 61.53
    Source: Council of European Energy Regulators, 2017, Status Review of Renewable Support Schemes in Europe, Table 9
    http://www.ceer.eu/portal/page/portal/EER_HOME/EER_PUBLICATIONS/CEER_PAPERS/Electricity/2017

    Key point: renewables are highly subsidised. They are not viable without the huge subsidies. they are a massive waste of money. Mandating them ans subsidising them is damaging the world economy. They are not as safe as nuclear and cn never supply a substantial proportion of the world’s electricity, let alone its energy needs. There is no valid, economically rational for advocating for renewables, other than irrational ideological beliefs.

    The anti nuke protest movement and renewables advocates, avoid the key relevant facts: nuclear is the safest way to generate electricity; nuclear fuels are effectively unlimited, the potential for cost reductions is huge, there is no justifiable reason for the impediments placed on nuclear power.

    • Light water reactors use some 1/2% of the fuel in uranium – leaving behind large volumes of long lived waste. The subsidies appear to be at the rear end.

      • Of which more than 90% can be recycled and reused Robert.

      • The figure is more like 30%. There are nuclear technologies that burn up most of the fuel in a closed cycle system leaving behind much smaller volumes of short lived fission products.

      • I’m referring to current LWR’s in use in the US. Figure is 90% for them.

      • “Over the last 50 years the principal reason for reprocessing used fuel has been to recover unused plutonium, along with less immediately useful unused uranium, in the used fuel elements and thereby close the fuel cycle, gaining some 25% to 30% more energy from the original uranium in the process. This contributes to national energy security. A secondary reason is to reduce the volume of material to be disposed of as high-level waste to about one-fifth. In addition, the level of radioactivity in the waste from reprocessing is much smaller and after about 100 years falls much more rapidly than in used fuel itself.

        These are all considerations based on current power reactors, but moving to fourth-generation fast neutron reactors in the late 2020s changes the outlook dramatically, and means that not only used fuel from today’s reactors but also the large stockpiles of depleted uranium (from enrichment plants, about 1.5 million tonnes in 2015) become a fuel source. Uranium mining will become much less significant.” http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/nuclear-fuel-cycle/fuel-recycling/processing-of-used-nuclear-fuel.aspx

        The US doesn’t have a reprocessing capacity since Jimmy Carter.

  50. The high cost of renewable subsidies – UK

    UK: Environmental and social policy costs are now 20% of the total electricity bill.

    Source: http://www.energy-uk.org.uk/customers/about-your-energy-bill/the-breakdown-of-an-energy-bill.html

  51. France has demonstrated that nuclear can supply 76% of the electricity for a large modern industrial economy, reliably and economically. No large economies are powered by a large proportion of wind and solar power. The countries with the highest proportion of wind and solar power have the highest electricity costs.

    Furthermore, 60 years of successful and safe operations of nuclear powered submarines and ships demonstrate that nuclear power can supply 100% of the power and full load following capability – i.e. from 0% to 100% power with rapid response time.

    Load following is not a technical constraint, it is just that given the high capital cost of current nuclear power plants (caused by 50 years of scaremongering and misinformation by the anti-nuclear power protest movement), it is cheaper to use nuclear as baseload and fossil fuels, and hydro where available, for load following. However, once the impediments to nuclear are removed and the costs come down (it is recognised this will take a long time), then nuclear will be capable of supplying all power, and in the distant future this may be the most economically viable option.

    The facts are blindingly obvious for all except the anti-nuke protest movement and the ideologically driven “renewables” advocates.

  52. Peter Lang

    No one has shown that solar and wind are better than nuclear on the key requirements:

    • Cost
    • Health and safety
    • Reliability
    • Flexibility
    • Load following
    • CO2 emissions

  53. Peter Lang

    I trust most CE Denizens are not misled by the anti-nuke protesters and renewable advocates who have no experience in energy or policy. It is easy to recognize them: they spray long irrelevant rants about their beliefs, filled with irrelevant factoids and invariably avoid dealing with what is relevant. With 25 years experience dealing with such people I have lots of experience. For example, I recall from 1991 Dr David Mills (University of Sydney), Dr Stephen Kaneff (Australian National University) and Dr Mark Diesendorf (University of NSW) making statements to the effect “solar power is baseload capable and cheaper than nuclear now, if the stupid government would just give us more money to demonstrate it”. In 2010 we had University of Melbourne advocating Australia’s electricity could be 100% Renewables by 2020; our current Prime Minster endorsed that and was the key speaker at the launch of the report. Martin Nicholson and I critiqued it here: https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/08/12/zca2020-critique/ .

    Nothing has changed. The renewable’s advocates, without any real world experience, are still making the same sort of ignorant assertions, stating their opinions and beliefs, dodging and weaving, and avoiding dealing the key issues.

    • Peter Lang

      Oh yes, and we’ve had gullible nuclear enthusiasts, with no relevant experience, believing and repeating that some new design is just about to be launched and will take the world by storm in quick time. There has been no end to these for decades. These people are just gullible and incapable of doing proper reality checks.

      • Dang those gullible fools at the World Nuclear Association.

        “Fast neutron reactors are a technological step beyond conventional power reactors, but are poised to become mainstream.

        They offer the prospect of vastly more efficient use of uranium resources and the ability to burn actinides which are otherwise the long-lived component of high-level nuclear wastes.

        Some 400 reactor-years experience has been gained in operating them.

        Generation IV reactor designs are largely FNRs, and international collaboration on FNR designs is proceeding with high priority.

        About 20 fast neutron reactors (FNR) have already been operating, some since the 1950s, and some supplying electricity commercially. About 400 reactor-years of operating experience have been accumulated to the end of 2010. Fast reactors more deliberately use the uranium-238 as well as the fissile U-235 isotope used in most reactors. If they are designed to produce more plutonium than the uranium and plutonium they consume, they are called fast breeder reactors (FBRs). But many designs are net consumers of fissile material including plutonium.* Fast neutron reactors also can burn long-lived actinides which are recovered from used fuel out of ordinary reactors. ” http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/current-and-future-generation/fast-neutron-reactors.aspx

  54. Unlike many of the commentators above, I am actually a power station engineer. We tend to regard the system operators as the enemy, particularly when they want adjustable governors with 0% droop!
    Here in NZ, we have a mainly renewable energy grid – mainly hydro with geothermal baseload, some thermal plant coal and CCGTs for hydrofirming and open cycle GTs for twoshifting and peaking. We have wind (little solar) and a DC line connecting the two islands. For the North Island, the load is averaging about 500GWh a day and it is often over 10% asynchronous generation with the DC bringing the power north.
    Here is the current state of play: http://www.em6live.co.nz/ Note that despite there being 400MW of installed wind, none was generated this morning when there was very high demand because of the frosts.
    The grid frequency is all over the place, often varying up to 0.2Hz over the space of 5 minutes. This makes it very hard to bring machines on, with the auto-sync, not being able to match the voltage and phase, as well as the frequency. They often go on with a real thump, indicating things weren’t quite right. Looking at the generation data, the instability comes from the wind, rather than the load. Despite the windfarms being up to 800km apart, there is a lot of correlation in their output. They have also been know to change their output faster than the frequency keepers can match. The SO wants all the stations to uprate their AVRs because of the instability. Like in Australia, we are keeping the old systems going rather than try to comply with the ridiculous and expensive rules. The big concern is the big thermal units being decommissioned. Fortunately, they are likely to be replaced with geothermal and OCGTs rather than wind.
    My understanding is that the physical inertia, rather than governor characteristics are important for grid stability. This is particularly so when the GVs are near fully open and there is under-frequency. Whatever it is, we are in for interesting times, but that is better than the fantasy world of Mr Ellison and Segrest.

    • But it looked so good on paper. Perhaps there is a bit of chaos math required in power systems much like climate systems :)

    • Thank you Chrism56. You illustrate an important point – operators have to live with what Planners do and operators face the burden of making it work in the real world. Pushing new technology that does not have a track record of performance hoping our modelling is correct creates huge challenges for you. Inertia was not something operators usually worried about in the past – there was an overabundance of it usually. But it may become a scarce resource at times and you may be dispatching around it in your career.

      Also your post shows that even when there are no major reliability events, systems can be run ragged and be at risks (thought it has not been proved because we are starting from high levels and degrading slowly where consequences are rare until you get to a point).

      To me it seems like the model you sometimes see for safety, called the safety pyramid. http://www.tfs-us.com/safety/safety-blog/the-safety-pyramid.html

      I don’t know how accurate/appropriate the particulars are for safety but for analogy here it works. The pyramid posits that for every fatality (think bulk reliability event – not distribution outages), there are larger numbers of less sever consequence event, then 3,000 near misses and finally at the base 300,000 at risk behaviors.

      For the power system reliability events are rare. As I’ve said before we spent over $25 Million for an SVC to prevent a voltage collapse that across 50 years with current conditions is more improbable to not happen then happen. We did have a reduce many behaviors contributing to the base on the pyramid, so the system can change and accept stresses and give up robustness and become much less “safe/reliable” before it starts to get noticed. But integrating significant renewable will widen the base of that pyramid and events that are now rare enough to be expected every 1000 years, might move to every 500 years. Some might find the reduced reliability levels acceptable and want to argue this trade off is worth it for environmental benefits. But they should be honest about it-and not say there is no risk change. You can get by for short terms with no insurance, some people do it for long terms with no ill-effects. Many people drive while inebriated and suffer no ill consequences. Many smokers see limited health impacts. You don’t have to turn off the circuit breaker before doing electrical repairs. But many will find that undertaking such risky behaviors as the above will have sever personal consequences.

      Thinking of the pyramid analogy when major events happen you can focus, as Mr. Elliot does, on the particular causes and develop simple fixes that would have prevented the one manifestation that was observed. But that one event is an indicator that a base of events that didn’t happen is probably out there and more problems are coming.

      • For Planning Engineer,

        I agree with the safety pyramid analogy. It is well-proven in many industries that catastrophic events stem from a great number of lesser events. We use the same philosophy and data-tracking in chemical plants and refineries.

        As to grid reliability events, it appears to me from my research into this that causal determination is uncertain, indeed it is a problem. Some point to the aging infrastructure, others to adding wind and solar.

        I believe that watching the California grid and the large amount (in percentage terms, not absolute MW) of renewable power will provide important lessons for other grids such as PJM.

        The CAISO’s 2016 annual report has much to say about grid reliability and integrating renewable energy resources. see and search for “reliab”

        http://www.caiso.com/Documents/2016AnnualReportonMarketIssuesandPerformance.pdf

      • Yes The safety pyramid is a very good analogy. With the H&S emphasis nowadays, we do a lot of near miss investigations. And every set of circumstances is different so the Swiss cheese model is appropriate. Closing one hole doesn’t give the complete assurance of safety.
        For day to day stuff, we are more like a duck. Calm on the surface, but going flat out underwater. We are lucky as we are baseload, but our other company’s stations are usually in load following mode. You get the feeling that so much of the day to day management is done by seat of the pants and gut feel. That is not reassuring.
        The SO has investigated and reported on several incidents of concern already. These were ones serious enough to breach grid rules, rather than just the near misses and grid warnings. They were managed OK, but only because there was big units on and there was plenty of water in the lakes (our cascading lakes have very little storage). One of these times, we won’t be so lucky.
        What I get most upset about is wind not being dispatchable means we have to carry the can for their erratic generation. We get pinged if we don’t meet dispatch but their variability is a lot greater than our tolerance band and they get away with it. Trying to synchronise plant when the grid isn’t stable isn’t easy, and we have had to bonafide because we didn’t meet the target time. If all generators had to meet their dispatch targets (or make up shortfall from within their own portfolios), the playing field would be a lot more level. I don’t think their would be many windfarms under the level playing field model though.

    • “Wind and solar PV technologies have seen rapid cost reductions and can now provide electricity at or below the cost of traditional sources in a growing number of countries. This makes them more appealing for countries seeking to meet growing power demand and decarbonize their energy system at the same time.

      Since variable renewable energy (VRE) technologies have certain unique properties, integrating them into power systems means understanding how they relate to other parts of the grid. The level of adaptation needed to effectively integrate VRE also changes as more low-carbon resources are built. Making the right changes when they are needed avoids both overspending, delays and protects security of supply.” https://www.iea.org/publications/insights/insightpublications/Getting_Wind_and_Sun.pdf

      Despite a couple of churlish power engineers with little to zilch inclination to accommodate the reality of both existing and future wind and solar deployment – that horse has already bolted.

      “While wind and solar power are taking off in many countries, there are still some misconceptions about their reliability.” IEA

      “One relevant area for grid codes is the so-called fault ride through (FRT) requirement on generators during voltage disturbances. With wind energy, the initial requirement specified in grid codes was to disconnect in the case of a system fault following a short drop in voltage (“voltage dip”). However, as the share of wind power grew to a substantial level in Spain, for example, this was found in fact to be a threat to system security. This was not a problem with VRE generation technology itself, rather with the way it was required to operate. By changing the grid code and requiring FRT capabilities from VRE power plants, this issue of single voltage dips can be resolved, as shown by the Spanish example where occurrences of VRE
      generators disconnecting after a voltage dip have been reduced to zero (Figure 15). It should be noted that requiring all power plants to have a new capability such as FRT could impose significant cost on pre-existing power plants, which may be an important consideration. Another example concerns solar PV. The grid code for German solar PV power plants originally
      specified that all plants were required to disconnect from the system if frequency rose above a level of 50.2 hertz, which may occur during a system disturbance. While such a rule allows secure system operation at low penetration levels of solar PV, it can pose a threat at higher levels. If all
      solar PV power plants disconnect from the grid at the same moment, the loss of generation capacity may put system security at risk. After this issue was identified, a retrofit programme was put in place to ensure that no sudden loss of generation would occur as a result of grid code requirements.” op.cit

      This is the abstract of a paper presented at the 15th wind integration workshop – the International Workshop on Large-Scale Integration of Wind Power into Power Systems as well as on Transmission Networks for Offshore Wind Power Plants.

      “This paper presents analysis on the benefit of Governor Response service by generators and of the Frequency Keeping ancillary service. The benefit is the value of the services to the System Operator and ultimately New Zealand by maintaining secure operation of the grid. Governor Response and Frequency Keeping manage normal variations in demand and intermittent
      generation, to keep the frequency in the normal band. This ensures secure operation of the grid, and thereby minimises frequency deviations when a contingent event occurs. Ultimately this reduces the likelihood of black-outs, indicating the importance of these services. This is of interest to the GREEN Grid project, which is investigating ways of managing increasing amounts
      of intermittent renewable generation. Knowing the benefits of these services, and how intermittent generation changes that value, enables GREEN Grid to assess the cost of increased intermittent renewable generation, how those costs should best be recovered, and to assess new ancillary service markets for them. These markets may include demand response. An analysis of the value of Governor Response and Frequency Keeping is considered from the
      perspective of avoiding lost load due to sub-optimal management of contingent events. Value is also considered from the perspective of how normal frequency is managed.” The Value of Frequency Keeping and Governor Response to New Zealand -Josh Schipper1(Presenter), Alan Wood2, Conrad Edwards3, Allan Miller1

      It seems even in New Zealand there are people working on integrating higher levels of VRE into the grid.

      http://www.epecentre.ac.nz/events/greengrid.shtml

      There is little doubt that there is a technical challenge to accommodating increasing amounts of wind and solar generation. The challenge is being addressed through grid codes and with newer wind technologies. Leaving aside subsidies – the costs of wind and solar are now competitive with coal and gas in many places and will continue to decline. Gas and coal generation cost will inevitably continue to rise – and likely steeply at times as increasing demand come up against a declining supply sometime relatively soon. 100% reliance on gas and coal generation would be very unwise. There is a limit to deployment of wind and solar in the absence of practical storage technologies – but that’s just technology of which there are multiple options.

      There are political, technological and economic aspects of the inevitable energy transition required this century to ensure global development that has nothing to do with global warming. There is a bigger picture that a couple of recalcitrant power engineers here fail to recognise. As well I am scrupulous about citing reputable sources – and I have here repeatedly. These references are hand waved away failing utterly to address these other experts who have seemingly far more experience in the technology.

      I am a nuts and bolts engineer, a hydrologist, an environmental scientist in the real sense. The real sense is about integrating social, technological, economic and ecological factors into decision making on solutions to complex problems. This post just doesn’t do it for me. The true answer to the question posed upfront is that 100% wind and solar power systems are technically feasible – at current rates of penetration there are few integration problems that can’t be solved with revised grid codes using existing technology – at higher rates of deployment further technological evolution is required. And as I keep saying – fast neutron reactors are probably a better idea.

      The 21st century is when it all begins – why don’t you join us.

      • Churlish? And who is impeding progress?
        If you reread Chrism56’s post you migh observe that he is doing a lot to accommodate renewables. Me too. Just as with other resources I’ve supported and enhanced projects connecting considerable amounts of solar to the grid. Working in the present and being concerned about the future are not incompatible, actually they go together quite well. It’s working in the present with unrealstic expectations for the future that can be dangerous. Depending on technological changes, resources and economics I may not be able to support future solar projects as I have Ben able do so far. But I don’t see see compelling reasons why one should assume that because I don’t see solar going to 100% or 50% or 30% that I am not working to support solar growth from the current low levels now. The world is complex. We need to move away from simple good guy – bad guys, black- white thinking. There are trade offs between alternatives with benefits and costs on both sides that should all be dealt with honestly and openly, not glossed over to show solidarity or as a virtue signal.

      • Churlish is being forced to live with it while bitterly whining. It is not informative – it is just pathetic.

      • Robert
        I actually read the paper which you appear not to have. I note the listed coauthor from the grid operator , who only supplied them data, does not work in System Operations. He is a Principal Market Development architect – what ever that is. The paper is just a modelling exercise though it does have some real world data. Do you know what “reduction in frequency quality” the paper talks about means? You can’t synchronise back up generation like Whirnaki because the autosyncs can’t match the grid. When you need them, they aren’t available as they can’t get on.Notice how their Figure 7 doesn’t meet reality, They are saying even at full wind generation, the system has significant inertia – really? I notice they don’t mention the underfrequency incidents that gave the SO kittens. That definitely wouldn’t fit their model. You might also investigate why Transpower has been fined by the EA. And read this paper which shows that SO are concerned about wind on the grid and loss of inertia,https://www.transpower.co.nz/sites/default/files/bulk-upload/documents/summary%20for%20the%20SA%20black%20system%20event_11_Nov_2016.pdf

        For the North Island Example, you put 500MW extra of wind on and take off a CCGT or Huntly and an OCGT. What will your system inertia do? There model only looked at adding wind, not taking away thermal. They are often running 500MW + north on the DC which their model didn’t account for.

        Unlike you, I only profess to know about power stations – I believe I’m the only Chartered Engineer here with O&M of them in my field of expertise. I get really upset at people who think themselves experts because they have read a few papers. I don’t ever remember seeing you at the power conferences, let alone presenting. I value Planning Engineer’s contributions, even though he comes at it from the other side of the fence as he has been there. You haven’t.

      • Robert I . Ellison,

        I have tried really hard with you. I like discussing ideas on their own merits. Overwhelmingly I don’t care what someone’s qualifications are if they have a good point, interesting questions or can muster a good argument. But if my suspicions here are true I am through with you.

        You said “I am a nuts and bolts engineer, a hydrologist, an environmental scientist in the real sense. “ I suspect you do not have an engineering license and are not entitled to call yourself such. (There’s a loophole for you if you live in a country where registering is not a requirement.)

        Through long experience I well know that it’s highly likely that whenever anyone falsely implies (or worse claims) that they are a medical doctor or an engineer when in fact they are not – a massive amount of BS is about to be dropped on you and fighting through the resultant muck is largely pointless. It doesn’t matter and may be worse if the claim is based on personal assurances of extensive self-study or the fact that they are a tree surgeon, rug doctor, software engineer, custodial engineer or the like.

        So Mr. Chief Hydrologist what is it? Are you a licensed engineer or just a guy with an affinity for cartoon characters, self-aggrandizement and name calling?

      • I am wrong as I see you are a registered engineer in Australia. My apologies. But the name calling really is quite tiresome and unnecessary.

      • What a strange set of reactions. I am apparently gullible, living in a fantasy world, ignorant and now lying about my background.

        Professional standing matters not at all outside specialist work. I have some skills in reviewing literature in all sorts of areas. I provided a number of highly reputable sources.

      • Robert: “I am a nuts and bolts engineer, a hydrologist, an environmental scientist in the real sense. The real sense is about integrating social, technological, economic and ecological factors into decision making on solutions to complex problems. This post just doesn’t do it for me. The true answer to the question posed upfront is that 100% wind and solar power systems are technically feasible – at current rates of penetration there are few integration problems that can’t be solved with revised grid codes using existing technology – at higher rates of deployment further technological evolution is required. ”

        I think you’ve probably just provided good reasons for churlishness on the part of those having to deal with the nuts and bolts of the electricity network. I like engineers to be churlish when forced to provide engineering solutions to non-engineering problems. It goes against the grain for them – and so it should. You suggest they should be up to dealing with “complex problems” and imply that the complexity is of a technical nature and so they should set their minds to finding technical solutions.

        However, the technical complexity is secondary – it is a mere artifact of political complexity. As such, the engineers are really being asked to come up with technical solutions to a political problem. This is obvious to them if nobody else. The renewable energy that has somehow to be integrated is not present because of technical logic or even economic logic. It must be there in order to fulfil the political imperatives of influential groups of people.

        However, the logic of politics and the logic of engineering are unlikely to be compatible except by a very rare and happy accident (i.e. a fluke)! Engineers know that flukes don’t happen even though the ability to have complete and unwavering belief in them is essential when it comes to politics. And so engineers and politicians (I use the term in a broad sense that often includes the senior executives overseeing engineers) work in very different domains. I find it reassuring that many engineers resent having to use their prowess to solve political rather than engineering problems because they see it as a kind of perversion of their vocation.

        You talk about “social, technological, economic and ecological factors” that you have faced as a nuts and bolts person. Unless flukes really do occur you will also have sometimes faced political factors, which by their nature tend to be both insane and implacable. I’m guessing you might have become a bit churlish on these occasions.

        “at higher rates of deployment further technological evolution is required”

        We need to adopt prudential policies that acknowledge the potential hazards of climate change by adopting the prudential principle of selecting a path that depends on something turning up. I hope you would become churlish if faced with such a proposal.

        I think the technical problems are serious, but the market problems are worse: –

        http://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21717365-wind-and-solar-energy-are-disrupting-century-old-model-providing-electricity-what-will

        A good example of a technical/market solution to a supposed technical/market problem that is incapable of addressing either because the problem is neither a market or technical, but political: –

        https://www.cleanenergywire.org/news/loops-and-cracks-excess-german-power-strains-europes-grids-0

      • Andre

        Engineers tend to be rule followers rather than original thinkers. Very few go onto actually solve new problems. But in reality engineers live in a political context – get over it. Engineers are not a technocratic elite as you seem too believe. Project planning is multi-factor – including economics and environment – and multi-disciplinary. It requires a plurality of knowledge and experience and an ability to communicate across disciplines to evolve a synergistic solution. I worked in the private sector – you tend to give them what they want and not ride off on an engineering high horse. The objective is to create a project that is socially valued. Very few people are very good at it.

        You seem a classic op-positional – if especially scatterbrained – thinker. It is all about the politics of the other side. Anyone who doesn’t mouth the relevant meme is automatically on the other side. I thought until recently that groupthink was the preserve of the left – not so it seems.

        The relatively low penetration of wind and solar – mostly – thus far has very little impact according to the IEA. The real need is for an innovative and incremental approach to energy systems that will give the cheapest, most stable and practical supplies. Renewables provide a buffer against fuel price shocks that are inevitable with fast growing demand and supply constraints.

        Winds and solar will continue to expand – they can supply cost competitive energy without subsidies – subsidies should drop to zero sometime in the near future. A branch of economics might support subsidies for new industries – but not the longer term continuation.

        Your popular articles – btw – don’t say what you seem to think they say. One is about proper price signals and the is about grid limitations.

    • Peter Lang

      Chrism56,

      From NZ’s West Island, thank you very much for this excellent, informative comment.

    • dougbadgero

      Chrism56,

      You are not the only one here with operational experience in an actual generating plant. I am a formally licensed operator at a large nuclear plant in the USA, about seven years as a reactor operator and 8 years as a senior reactor operator. In addition, I have a BSE in mechanical design, an MSEE (power systems analysis), and I am a licensed professional engineer in the State of Michigan. I currently work in nuclear safety analysis at the same plant.

      I understand and agree with your points. I don’t know how this is all going to come to a head, but I suspect it will be in California, ERCOT, or New England in the USA. I wish you luck.

      • Doug
        I reread my comment. What I meant by here was NZ, rather than Climate etc denizens. Sorry for being imprecise.
        We (being NZ) are in the very fortunate position of no need for new wind generation as the next plant to be built that is already consented is geothermal and fast start GTs. That also fits the load profile better. The proponents of wind have gone very quiet, possibly because the reliability is not good and maintenance costs very high. And despite what Robert says, wind can’t provide cheap dispatchable power.
        I believe the next major power blackout will be either Australia again, because Hazelwood is gone, northern UK or California. Until then, many grids will continue running on very small margins with a lot of close calls. This will mean the risks will be ignored until the crash, when politicians will blame the engineers.

      • Peter Lang

        chrism56,

        I believe the next major power blackout will be either Australia again, because Hazelwood is gone, northern UK or California. Until then, many grids will continue running on very small margins with a lot of close calls.

        I agree and would add Germany to your list of possible next major power blackout. Germany’s neighbours are already protecting themselves from the power surges being caused by Germany..

      • I have never said that wind was dispatchable – just that at 7% wind and solar penetration it is not a problem according to people I referenced who actually do know what they are talking about – including the AEMO and the IEA. Wind and solar can provide cheap power in many places. Geothermal is typically at the low end of LCOE – and gas too where it is cheap.

        Your biases are crystal clear – but a crystal ball is no substitute for the ability to think strategically.

      • The EIA suggests that 7% penetration barely noticeable for competent operators. Your biases are crystal clear – and a crystal ball is no substitute for the ability objectively and strategically. Or seemingly in other than personal narratives about how difficult it all is because of politicians. I don’t give a rat’s arse. You like Peter are flogging a dead horse.

      • Robert
        The PYM document talks of having wind at 20% unforced capacity. Doesn’t say if this is on GW or GWh rating,that is why their high renewables option has so much fast start GTs (not very renewable is that). that is why their high renewables option has so much fast start GTs (not very renewable is that).
        I suspect the latter Wind and solar aren’t cheap. They have an artificially deflated price as they don’t pay the true cost of their implementation – That is why Germany and Denmark have the most expensive power. For electricity to be of any value to the grid, generation has to be dispatchable. Without that, you put real risks into the system. All these people who blithely comment about distributed generation and demand response, see what happens if that gets implemented. Adelaide showed; it was called brownouts. Suddenly public support disappears.
        Of course my prejudices show, I have spent half a lifetime trying to keep the lights on. I also remember city wide blackouts in the South Island when they ran out of generation. People forget, Our current comfortable lives are inextricably linked to reliable electricity. Go to any country where that doesn’t happen and see what its like.

      • I began with reporting the AEMO final reportr on the South Australian black event. It wasn’t intermittency. Some transmission towers blew over causing voltage drops over a number of seconds that tripped the control settings of some wind farms. This tripped out the rest of the system – including the Victorian interconnector. It took a week to reset. The wind farm control settings have been made less sensitive to transient voltage drops.

        And it all exploded here in the mess of ill informed determined to blame the technology – for ideological reasons – for being intermittent and not having enough inertia. I like to be precise – and you should get your facts straight before wading into a discussion with references to my fantasy world and odd taunts about not knowing the simplest of concepts. I am not biting and I am not impressed.

        And the 20% solar limit in the PJM report is for energy sold – as it usually is in these things – from memory Texas has some 0.5% installed solar capacity. Ramping up a little more is not a problem the IEA suggests. Wind and solar penetration in Australia is about 7%.

        Subsidies are fairly common for ‘sunrise industries’ – and I am not arguing for it. There is equally an argument that gas and coal don’t pay the full cost of ‘externalities’ – I am not buying into that idea either. In Queensland wind and solar subsidies amounts to about 5% on my bill. I am not much fussed – I am frankly far more fussed about the doubling of gas prices in a country that is about to become the world’s biggest exporter.

        The simpler idea is that a 21st century energy transition to low carbon, low cost and abundant energy sources is both necessary and inevitable.

      • Robert
        I’m not sure we are reading the same report.
        Mine says:
        “The following factors must be addressed to increase the prospects of forming a stable SA island and avoiding a Black System:  Sufficient inertia to slow down the rate of change of frequency and enable automatic load shedding to stabilise the island system in the first few seconds. This will require increases in SA inertia under some conditions, as well as improvements to load shedding systems combined with reduced interconnector flows under certain conditions.  Sufficient frequency control services to stabilise frequency of the SA island system over the longer term. This will require increases in local frequency control services under some conditions.  Sufficient system strength to control over voltages, ensure correct operation of grid protection systems, and ensure correct operation of inverter-connected facilities such as wind farms. This will require increases in local system strength under some conditions. ”
        That is all wind farm problems. They will also cost big money to fix. Note the AEMO also specifically says to mitigate the risk of it happening again: ” Requirement for a minimum number of on-line synchronous generators in SA.” That means no more wind unless they can grow the load which with the economy going belly up is very unlikely.

        And your data on wind and solar penetration is wrong for SA, That system is long and stringy. with the closure of Hazelwood, there are real issues with inertia and voltage control. At the most recent EPRI workshop, the grid operators talked about big problems with solar causing a rhino horn.

        You can repeat your mantra and namecalling all you like, but the fact is no-one is building windfarms unless they get subsidies, which are paid for by the consumer. And then they build more GTs because the windfarms aren’t reliable.

      • There is nothing incorrect about what I said. I said that wind and solar penetration in Australia was 7%. South Australia is higher at 42% but then they are connected to the eastern Australian grid.

        The problem was not – as the AEMO states categorically – an intermittency problem. Some wind farms tripped out when loss of transmission towers caused transient voltage drops over a few seconds. The control settings at these plants have been changed. I suppose the argument could be made that if the wonky wind farms were not there they wouldn’t of tripped out.

        The discussion started with another recommendation to add synchronous condensers to the system. How I regret it. Or another aside in the report discussed trials with newer wind technology which have something called synthetic inertia. But whatever solutions emerge engineers look for the lowest cost usually – and let’s face it – they are paid to do a job by a democratic government and going backwards is not an option.

        Australia – btw – has excess generating capacity – it might get tested in an extreme summer day. We could use some 3GW extra gas generation – the problem there is the gas market.

        You’e not a big picture sort of guy are you?

      • Robert
        Considering all the name calling you are doing, you seem might touchy. Oh well, never mind.
        You still don’t seem to understand grids either. The fast start GTs are needed because the wind is unreliable. The 7% doesn’t match AEMO data – that shows nearly 9%, but it is actually greater than that because of plant that is still on the books but in long term storage. Having a lot of steamers in North Queensland is of no benefit to SA. And despite your protestations, the problems in SA was wind causing the lack of inertia. Read the report with your blinkers off – the protection settings were wrong but the RoCoF was what did it in. That is why they have mandated thermal units having to stay on.

      • By the way Robert, the MHI review of the AEMO report on the SA blackout says the trigger was the lack of inertia in the SA part of the grid.
        https://www.aemo.com.au/-/media/Files/Media_Centre/2017/Report_AEMO_Black-System_Incident_Report_Review.pdf
        So there is a lot of ill-informed ideologically driven imprecise comment out there, most of it emanating from you. Or are you still going to argue everyone else got it wrong?

      • The review of the review?

        “On Wednesday 28 September 2016, tornadoes with wind speeds in the range of 190–260 km/h occurred in areas of South Australia. Two tornadoes almost simultaneously damaged a single circuit 275 kilovolt (kV) transmission line and a double circuit 275 kV transmission line, some 170 km apart. The damage to these three transmission lines caused them to trip and a sequence of faults in quick succession resulted in six voltage dips on the SA grid over a two-minute period at around 4.16 pm. As the number of faults on the transmission network grew, nine wind farms in the mid-north of SA exhibited a sustained reduction in power as a protection feature activated. For eight of these wind farms, the protection settings of their wind turbines allowed them to withstand a pre-set number of voltage dips within a two-minute period. Activation of this protection feature resulted in a significant sustained power reduction for these wind farms. A sustained generation reduction of 456 megawatts (MW) occurred over a period of less than seven seconds. The reduction in wind farm output caused a significant increase in imported power flowing through the
        Heywood Interconnector. Approximately 700 milliseconds (ms) after the reduction of output from the last of the wind farms, the flow on the Victoria–SA Heywood Interconnector reached such a level that it activated a special protection scheme that tripped the interconnector offline. The SA power system then became separated (“islanded”) from the rest of the NEM. Without any substantial load shedding following the system separation, the remaining generation was much less than the connected load and unable to maintain the islanded system frequency. As a result, all supply to the SA region was lost at 4.18 pm (the Black System). AEMO’s analysis shows that following system separation, frequency collapse and the consequent Black System was inevitable.”

        So we know what happened. There was a series of failures across the grid in extreme conditions – and hand waving about inertia doesn’t do it justice.

        “The generation mix now includes increased amounts of non-synchronous and inverter-connected plant. This generation has different characteristics to conventional plant, and uses active control systems, or complex software, to ride through disturbances. With less synchronous generation online, the system is experiencing more periods with low inertia and low available fault levels, so AEMO is working with industry on ways to use the capability of these new types of power generation to build resilience to
        extreme events. As the generation mix continues to change across the NEM, it is no longer appropriate to rely solely on synchronous generators to provide essential non-energy system services (such as voltage control, frequency control, inertia, and system strength). Instead, additional means of procuring these services must be considered, from non-synchronous generators (where it is technically feasible), or from networkor non-network services (such as demand response and synchronous condensers).
        The technical challenges of the changing generation mix must be managed with the support of efficient and effective regulatory and market mechanisms, to ensure the most cost-effective measures are used
        in the long-term interest of consumers. AEMO is continuing to work in association with its stakeholders to resolve these challenges, including through the established Future Power System Security (FPSS) program, and collaborative engagement with the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) and the Council of Australian Governments
        (COAG) Independent Review into the Reliability and Security of the NEM, led by Dr Alan Finkel.

        AEMO has also begun work with the Australian Renewable Energy Authority (ARENA) and others on proof-of-concept trials of promising new technologies, starting with use of the new Hornsdale Stage 2 wind farm to provide grid stabilisation services. These projects can deliver engineering solutions to make the grid more resilient and protect customer supply as the transformation of Australia’s energy system continues.”
        https://www.aemo.com.au/-/media/Files/Electricity/NEM/Market_Notices_and_Events/Power_System_Incident_Reports/2017/Integrated-Final-Report-SA-Black-System-28-September-2016.pdf

        So if they know it now why not then? The focus is on solutions and some are in place. They relate largely on grid rules (see Table 1) – including keeping enough gas generation online in extreme conditions to compensate for unexpected power loss.

  55. Beta Blocker

    The article, written by academics at the University of Texas at Austin, contains a good bit of truth concerning the competition that coal and nuclear is seeing from cheap natural gas; and the problems nuclear power is now suffering from self-inflicted wounds.

    The article concludes with “In the end, Secretary Perry has posed good questions. Thankfully, because of lessons learned while he was governor of Texas, we already have answers: despite concerns to the contrary, incorporating wind and solar into the grid along with fast-ramping natural gas, smart market designs and integrated load control systems will lead to a cleaner, cheaper, more reliable grid.”

    One thing is certain. Goodbye, untrammeled vistas, if you live in a rural or semi-rural area. If the wind and solar advocates have their way, America will be covered from the east coast to the west with a combination of windmills, solar panels, and gas fracking wells. But whether or not electricity will be as cheap, as readily available, and as reliable twenty years from now as it is today is whole different question.

  56. Peter Lang

    100% renewable energy is not viable in even the most ideal situations, so what chance anywhere? see video: http://www.dw.com/en/a-tiny-islands-gigantic-green-goals/a-38753320

  57. Pingback: Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #270 | Watts Up With That?

  58. Beta Blocker

    In an earlier comment, I asked Roger Sowell this question:

    Roger, legislation has been proposed in the California state legislature to move the state’s 50 percent renewables target forward five years, from 2030 to 2025.

    How is California’s 50% target for renewable resourced electricity currently defined? For example, is the target’s definition simply that 50% of the total kilowatt hours consumed in California in any given year must come from qualifying wind and solar resources? Or are there provisions in the law which add additional requirements? For example, requirements which might apply to how that renewable resourced energy is to be spread over the state’s 24-hour electricity demand profile?

    The context of my question concerns how we might go about using California and the area in and around New York State in a grand experiment to see how far and how fast the adoption of renewable energy technology might be pushed. The other purpose of the experiment is to see what works and what doesn’t in making that kind of transition; and to use the practical experience gained as a means of predicting the true costs of a renewable energy future.

    Roger responded with links to the text of the RPS legislation which directs how California’s rewewable energy portfolio standards are to be managed:

    The California RPS (renewable portfolio standard) is quite long and complex, but is found at the link below:

    http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displayText.xhtml?lawCode=PUC&division=1.&title=&part=1.&chapter=2.3.&article=16.

    As Roger has noted, California’s RPS legislation is indeed long and complex. My reading of the text discerns no direct instruction as to how load demand profiles are to be serviced throughout any given 24-hour period, only that the availability of power and the reliability of the grid are to be maintained in accordance with applicable regulatory requirements. The general goals of California’s RPS are laid out in the opening section of the law, as follows:

    399.11. The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:

    (a) In order to attain a target of generating 20 percent of total retail sales of electricity in California from eligible renewable energy resources by December 31, 2013, 33 percent by December 31, 2020, and 50 percent by December 31, 2030, it is the intent of the Legislature that the commission and the Energy Commission implement the California Renewables Portfolio Standard Program described in this article.

    (b) Achieving the renewables portfolio standard through the procurement of various electricity products from eligible renewable energy resources is intended to provide unique benefits to California, including all of the following, each of which independently justifies the program:

    (1) Displacing fossil fuel consumption within the state.
    (2) Adding new electrical generating facilities in the transmission network within the Western Electricity Coordinating Council service area.
    (3) Reducing air pollution, particularly criteria pollutant emissions and toxic air contaminants, in the state.
    (4) Meeting the state’s climate change goals by reducing emissions of greenhouse gases associated with electrical generation.
    (5) Promoting stable retail rates for electric service.
    (6) Meeting the state’s need for a diversified and balanced energy generation portfolio.
    (7) Assistance with meeting the state’s resource adequacy requirements.
    (8) Contributing to the safe and reliable operation of the electrical grid, including providing predictable electrical supply, voltage support, lower line losses, and congestion relief.
    (9) Implementing the state’s transmission and land use planning activities related to development of eligible renewable energy resources.

    (c) The California Renewables Portfolio Standard Program is intended to complement the Renewable Energy Resources Program administered by the Energy Commission and established pursuant to Chapter 8.6 (commencing with Section 25740) of Division 15 of the Public Resources Code.

    (d) New and modified electric transmission facilities may be necessary to facilitate the state achieving its renewables portfolio standard targets.

    (e) (1) Supplying electricity to California end-use customers that is generated by eligible renewable energy resources is necessary to improve California’s air quality and public health, particularly in disadvantaged communities identified pursuant to Section 39711 of the Health and Safety Code, and the commission shall ensure rates are just and reasonable, and are not significantly affected by the procurement requirements of this article. This electricity may be generated anywhere in the interconnected grid that includes many states, and areas of both Canada and Mexico.

    (2) This article requires generating resources located outside of California that are able to supply that electricity to California end-use customers to be treated identically to generating resources located within the state, without discrimination.

    (3) California electrical corporations have already executed, and the commission has approved, power purchase agreements with eligible renewable energy resources located outside of California that will supply electricity to California end-use customers. These resources will fully count toward meeting the renewables portfolio standard procurement requirements.

    Section 399.11 is only a small part of the text of California’s RPS legislation. Other sections contain a number of stipulations which define how the law is to be interpreted and implemented.

    IMHO, the legislation as a whole has been finely crafted by renewable energy advocates to serve a larger strategic purpose, one which goes well beyond the list of nominal goals stated in the law’s opening text.

    — The law creates exceptional business opportunities in California and in surrounding states for California’s high tech entrepreneurs. IMHO, this is the primary goal of the law. All by itself, it will keep California’s lawyers, engineers, and software programmers busy for many years into the future.

    — The wording of the law has the overall effect of placing exceptional pressure on all power utilities located both inside California, and in those surrounding states which sell power to California, to close their baseload nuclear and coal-fired power plants.

    — The law is crafted in a way which puts responsibility for meeting the renewable energy targets squarely on the shoulders of the power utilities. They’ll get all the blame if its lofty goals covering energy cost, energy reliability, and energy availability can’t be met.

    — The law is also crafted in a way which makes it difficult for surrounding states to partially or fully isolate themselves from California’s own energy and environmental policies. Surrounding states will either get on board with California’s energy policies or they will lose access to the state’s power markets.

    Although the word ‘nuclear’ doesn’t appear in the legislation, the California RPS law is profoundly anti-nuclear.

    Even if nuclear power’s cost competitiveness issues with natural gas could be overcome using some combination of deregulation and the adoption of cost-saving nuclear technologies such as the small modular reactors (SMR’s), the law’s waste management stipulations guarantee that nuclear power can never be counted as a renewable energy resource, regardless of where and how it is being generated.

    If California’s law is adopted as a model for similar legislation in other states, then some combination of natural gas, wind, solar, and grid scale energy storage technology will eventually replace all of our baseload power from coal and nuclear. It’ll all come from variable energy resources (VAR’s) of one kind or another — and at who knows what total cost measured in dollars and in collateral environmental damage.

    • Provocative post Beta Blocker. I’m looking at the battery jet hybrid refernced here: http://www.gereports.com/power-couple-battery-jet-engine-hybrid-will-help-california-grab-renewables/

      Wondering how much it might cost (anyone seen any numbers of that sort) and how it could practically support such costs. More specifically if this becomes a common grid element, I’d like to know who would decide to dispatch it and how would they recover their costs. Would it’s cost be recovered in an energy market? Would renewables pay to have their resources firmed up? Or would it work more as an ancillary service? Could it be a grid cost as part of transmissions service? Some hybrid with costs recovered from energy sales?

      Maybe it fits very well with the model that is developing in a model,your post s envisioning. If anyone know more about this I’d appreciate info or links.

      • Beta Blocker

        Planning Engineer, if we could guarantee that natural gas would always be available at current prices, wherever and whenever it is needed to support the power grid, and in enough volume to supply seasonal peaks in demand, there would be no sense whatsoever in doing anything else but replacing coal and nuclear with gas-fired generation, and to let wind and solar technology go wherever their true costs allow them to go in gaining their proper share of the energy market.

        The 50Mw jet engine / battery pack hybrid unit described in the GE article has the benefit of being both scalable and deployable in meeting local and regional changes in power demand — assuming one can guarantee it will always have a reliable supply of natural gas in the volumes that are required when it spools up to full power.

        The GE literature also states that a 100 Mw unit is possible, which expands its potential even further, likewise assuming a reliable supply of natural gas is readily available. I would inquire if the LM6000 jet engine can be converted easily to use jet fuel if the supply of natural gas has been temporarily interrupted for some reason.

        As far as I know, there is no inherent reason why a 50Mw or a 100Mw small modular reactor couldn’t be paired with a 30 minute battery pack unit. Such an arrangement would allow the SMR to do what the GE gas-fired turbine can now do in quickly spooling up to handle real time changes in power demand.

        How would the total life cycle cost of a scalable SMR & battery unit compare with that of a GE hybrid gas-fired turbine & battery unit?

        As it concerns the GE unit, the largest variable in the analysis is the prediction of where the long-term price of natural gas is likely to go, and how much will be available at what price in the mid to long-term future. I don’t know that we have nearly enough experience in analyzing future SMR costs to say with any certainty what the total lifecycle costs of an SMR-based load following generation unit might be.

      • PE:
        After fair enthusiasm about the idea of a battery jet hybrid, I thought about is it a question of who does what? To get rid of idling and have a near instant response from batteries, why not put the batteries some place else like near where the use is? The batteries then belong to the renewable generators and they cover the time lag until the peakers ramp up from stopped. At some point the utilities will have to push back if they are making up with their money for renewables shortfalls. Yes, the battery jet hybrid may be the solution but it’s driven by how the issue is framed. Renewables get to free ride and it’s a question of how much do they get to do that? Who wants to pay for batteries if someone else will cover that?

      • I see that a need is developing and this is a potential arrow in the quiver. I suppose it could be the major source of support.

        I like the pairing for what computer control might do to reduce stress on the generator from reacting to perturbations, the battery should be able to smooth and that mends a longer life and less wear and tear. I’m concerned that you have two elements with likely very different life cycles paired together – but maybe the batteries are easily replaced.

        It provides benefits that should be recognized beyond incremental energy costs and arbitrage and it also seems to be providing something more valuable than basic ancillary services. Very curious to see who pays the costs of this “solution” and how that ties to who is creating the “problems”.

      • Don’t know if the “LM6000 jet engine can be converted easily to use jet fuel if the supply of natural gas has been temporarily interrupted for some reason” but know that earlier versions were dual fuel burners. The main problem with fuel oil vs NG is that the number of hours till required maintenance goes down with fuel oil, and storage costs with fuel oil costs is a large factor od cost of the electricity generated. MY uncle used to schedule and work with dual fuel units when the nukes were being refurbished or maintenance downtime.

    • Beta Blocker, great post. Thanks for wading through California’s RPS legislation and highlighting a few salient points.

      Relative to Ragnaars point “…why not put the batteries some place else like near where the use is?” Can’t the same principal be used for micro grids? I’m very interested in what Thermal Energy Partners is doing in the Caribbean today, and the potential for what they can do for Texas, a target for development, and other areas conducive to thermal power generation. They’ll have a 9 MW scaleable thermal micro grid up and running by the end of this year in the Caribbean, Nevis, inclusive of desalination capabilities, and more to follow on other islands. Historically the barrier for this tech has been drilling, but those costs have crashed with oil prices. TEP claims that Texas has the potential to generate 2,500 MW of geothermal power. Is there any reason not to exploit this now?

      http://www.thermalep.com/crude-oil-price-give-geothermal-a-break

      http://www.thermalep.com

  59. Peter Lang

    Key Point:

    No one has shown that solar and wind are better than nuclear on the key requirements:

    • Cost
    • Health and safety
    • Reliability
    • Flexibility
    • Load following
    • CO2 emissions

    • You need to add life cost cycle as well. There is a huge environmental burden with the procurement and disposal, plus shortness of life span for many of the elements. Part of this cost should be land management costs of the site.

  60. I note another power engineer points out the Ontario manages by spilling water and wind to keep thermal plant on because of the need for operating reserves. 100% renewable – not.
    https://achemistinlangley.wordpress.com/2017/05/12/more-on-that-ubc-site-c-study-i-rebut-a-rebuttal/#comments
    But then we are being churlish for pointing out a beautiful soundbit theory is compromised by inconvenient facts and practicalities.

    • Wind is 4% of Ontario’s electricity supply and Jeff Norman seems to be a chemical engineer. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Any yes – from the perspective of my ‘fantasy world’ churlish seems to be about right.

      4% is bugger all – barely a ripple. Ihttps://www.iea.org/publications/insights/insightpublications/Getting_Wind_and_Sun.pdf

      • Robert.
        You are way out of your depth and still digging. You also have a special kind of arrogance denigrating others for not having expertise in a subject, when you have no grid or station operating experience, yet continue to pontificate. You also regularly drag numbers out of the air without giving sources.
        Ontario has 11% installed wind.
        http://www.ieso.ca/power-data/supply-overview/transmission-connected-generation
        which means it is probably 20-25% at night in the shoulder months. The problems that wind causes there are very significant. https://www.ospe.on.ca/public/documents/presentations/wind-and-electrical-grid.pdf
        or don’t the OSPE know what they are talking about?
        And don’t rubbish chemical engineers. A lot of stations have them on staff and they know a lot about the full workings of a station and how it interacts with the grid – a lot more than you ever will.

      • “Phase Two begins as more VRE plants are added to the system…
        At this point, additional considerations for the grid code become important, with a view to developing a comprehensive framework. This aims primarily to make sure that newly built plants will be able to perform as needed, and during their entire lifetime so as to avoid costlier future retrofits.
        Secondly, management of the first occurrences of grid congestion (including on the transmission grid) may be necessary, particularly in areas where deployment is moving ahead quickly Thirdly, the least-cost scheduling and dispatch of non-VRE power plants needs to take into
        account VRE generation. In this phase, the visibility of VRE plants becomes more important and it may be prudent to establish a renewable energy production forecast system. It is relevant to note that even in the absence of a forecast system it is possible to operate the system reliably; it
        will be more costly however. Examples of countries considered to be in Phase Two of VRE deployment at present include Chile, Canada, Brazil, India, New Zealand, Australia, the Netherlands, Sweden, Austria and Belgium.

        https://www.iea.org/publications/insights/insightpublications/Getting_Wind_and_Sun.pdf

        You are not drowning just arm waving.

      • IEA – how many MW do their stations generate? Which grid do they run?

    • 4% is bugger all – barely a ripple.

      Dead right. barely a ripple – actually just a damned nuisance. Uneconomic. And can never make a substantial contribution to world electricity supply, let alone energy supply.

  61. Peter Lang

    Ellison has stated (twice) that the global average deaths per TWh by electricity generation fuel type I quoted are wrong and “the numbers Peter quoted are nonsense”. I’ve asked him to post the numbers he believes are correct (i.e. global average deaths per TWh by electricity generation fuel type), the source and why. I’ve pointed out that the ranking has been similar in the authoritative studies for the past 40 years or so. The numbers I posted are (global average deaths per TWh):

    Nuclear: 0.09
    Wind: 0.15
    Solar: 0.44
    Gas: 4.00
    Coal: 60.00

    For coal in USA the rate is ~ 15 deaths/TWh.

    Below is a chart from ExternE showing Risk of severe accidents in the different energy chains. It is for severe accidents only, i.e. not deaths and chronic health effects from pollution. Polution is the main cause of deaths from coal and gas (and possibly for solar too, but not included in the numbers listed above). In India deaths from three pollutants only from coal fired power stations is estimated to be 99/TWh and in China from all sources is 77/TWh.

    So, Ellison, time to disclose your numbers and sources. If you cannot do so, you should admit you were wrong (if you have the intellectual honesty to admit you are wrong).

    • What I have – precisely and more than a few times – is that modern – and retrofitted – coal plants remove 99.0% of particulates, 98% of sulphur and most mercury. It seems much safer than the old model.

      • Peter Lang

        Irrelevant. You said the deaths per TWh are wrong. Therefore, what do you believe are the correct figures. Put up or shut up and admit you were wrong. If you don’t this demonstrates blatant dishonesty.

      • Peter Lang

        What you said precisely is that “the numbers Perter posted are nonsense”.

        If so, what do you believe are the correct numbers and what is the source. Put up or shut up.

        You are clearly way out of your depth.

      • There are very broad errors in broad scale epidemiological approaches – especially with ionizing radiation – and vastly different estimates of deaths from about 400 reactor accidents. I am not about to quote any of them as definitive.

        Reactors have released ionizing radiation into the water and atmosphere since the 1940’s. There are small individual risks in a large exposed population.

        I have read both sides of the Fukushima ztory.

        “As of February 2016, 116 children in Fukushima Prefecture had been diagnosed with aggressive and fast-growing, or already metastasizing, thyroid cancer, against an expected number of 1 to 5 cases per year, the report notes. For 16 of these children, a “screening effect” can be excluded, because their cancers developed within the past 2 years. An additional 50 children have been diagnosed with suspected thyroid carcinoma.” http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/860141

        Leukemia is the first of the cancers to show up. Children are most vulnerable. There is undoubtedly a staggering increase in leukemia diagnoses that has been hand-waved away as a screening effect. It is unlikely that the true rate of the disease occurrence is 100 times the previous rates of diagnoses.

        It is all so unnecessary. Modern designs do not melt down.

        There is very little argument – except in blogs – about the linear no-threshold ionizing radiation model of cancer incidence. Increased doses will increase the risk of cancer.

      • I have supplied an over and under estimate. New coal is less dangerous and old nuclear may be much more dangerous. It is absurd – in my opinion – to be be so pedantically precise in this.

  62. Peter Lang

    Planning Engineer wrote a courteous reply to Ellision explaining in simple language some relevant facts. https://judithcurry.com/2017/05/09/renewable-resources-and-the-importance-of-generation-diversity/#comment-848772 . PE’s comment began with:

    Robert- I don’t know what significance you think your statement that a synchronous condenser is not the same as a synchronous generator has, It seems to illuminate that you do not understand things well.

    Planning Engineer’s comment contained three paragraphs with 358 words.

    Ellison responded with 23 paragraph, 1170 words, mostly irrelevant rant which began (hypocritically):

    Your long comment seems more diversion into the realms of rambling home spun philosophy than a concise technical comment. I’d appreciate it you stuck to the point instead of trying to teach your grandmother to suck eggs.

    Typical of Ellision. And this comment is to the author of the post.

    And finished:

    I don’t deal in hand-waving narratives – but reference reputable sources – within broad limits in this case – it was and is a planning failure – to demonstrate specific points. And I like precise language and not dithering about false equivalencies between motors and condensers or appealing to a personal authority. The latter is always especially laughable.

    What an objectionable character – needs a life time of professional development.

    • “Robert- I don’t know what significance you think your statement that a synchronous condenser is not the same as a synchronous generator has, It seems to illuminate that you do not understand things well.”

      A synchronous generator can be a synchronous condenser if you cut off the shaft, seal it, fill it with hydrogen and slap a condenser on it. I understand things well enough to know that this is a silly comment.

      “I have to remind young engineers with excellent education, skills and ability that in planning needed improvements and fixes not to get carried away with our models and identified solutions. We model numerous system conditions and impose thousands of contingencies (outages) upon them. But does our modeling work really be expected to capture the specific risk conditions and are our solutions the actual fix for that? The answer is no. What we know from experience is that by modeling and planning that way, we create a system that is sufficiently robust enough to work through what the real world throws at us. The more you narrowly define the solution to contingency (potential outages) events the less robust your system and the more likely the real works will bite you in the ___, Adding a specific synchronous condenser here and there is not as robust as having synchronous generators scattered throughout. If your system is seeing problems because it was not sufficiently robust (S Australia) and you focus upon fixes for those problems which were observed in the real world – you have only protected yourself from a small set of known and are at risk to many unknowns….”

      I thought I was being generous. Spare me the homespun philosophy. There were specific recommendations in a specific context.

      • Putting it in context.

      • Robert – you just said “A synchronous generator can be a synchronous condenser if you cut off the shaft, seal it, fill it with hydrogen and slap a condenser on it. I understand things well enough to know that this is a silly comment.”

        You are insisting that you know a lot about these things, but much of what you say does not make technical sense.

        What is this thing your refer to as a “condenser” that you could “slap on” to the remains of synchronous generator. You description is evidently referring to some part/element that is not already contained within the original synchronous generator. What is this mysterious “condenser” that you are referring to made of ? What is its function? Where does it attache to the synchronous generator?

        If you can tell explain this “condenser” addition to me I might be able to better follow your argument as to what you see as significant differences between synchronous condensers and synchronous generators as relates to bulk reliability. If on the other hand you learn that there is no such thing known of as a “condenser” that can be slapped onto a generator, but rather the elements are the same, than you may be able to better understand some of the information provided to you.

      • It was a typo – condenser sticker. As in ‘ACME synchronous condenser’. A joke. Beep beep. Don’t miss anything do you?

      • Ya get a synchronous motor – cut off the shift – seal it – fill it with hydrogen and slap on an ACME synchronized condenser sticker. Pro tip: save the motors from all the decommissioned fossil fuel plants.

        It is actually a Stargate reference – you can’t take a death glider and slap a US Air Force sticker on it – but I don’t expect you to get that.

      • Whoops – synchronized generator…

  63. Peter Lang

    I fully realise that. But what is really tiresome is your arrogance and intellectual dishonesty – a disgrace to professionals.

    Perhaps you will now implement what you said a few comments ago and not respond to me from now on.

  64. Peter Lang

    India reorients nuclear ambitions

    The Indian Cabinet has announced approval of ten 700 MWe indigenous PHWR nuclear reactors, without locations or timeline, but as a “fully homegrown initiative” with likely manufacturing orders to Indian industry of about INR 700 billion ($11 billion). The Prime Minister said it would help transform the domestic nuclear industry, which appears to suggest deferred expectations of establishing new nuclear plants with Western technology from Areva, GEH, and Westinghouse. The announcement echoes the country’s XII plan for 2012-2017 which envisaged construction starts on eight 700 MWe indigenous PHWRs, as well as completion by now of five reactors under construction since 2011 or before. It also had construction starts on eight larger imported reactors, only the Russian two of which are nearly ready to go. In the announcement no mention was made of the other elements of the XII plan – the Western reactors, and three indigenous advanced units.

    WNN 18/5/17 http://mailchi.mp/world-nuclear-news/wna-weekly-digest-5-12-19-may-2017?e=a3b55276e6

    I guess India doesn’t regard fast reactors as a viable option any time soon.

  65. Interesting article about New York electricity on Power magazine website. NYISO and NYSERDA want to change their grid to a distributed generation model but don’t know how it will ru,n only that “they believe it is possible” They are subsidising new wind at $47/MWh when the wholesale price is $34/MWh . They want to close down their nukes to be replaced by GTs burning fracced gas from Pennsylvania because they won’t allow fraccing in their state. A lot of stench from the hypocrisy through all of this.

    • Peter Lang

      chrism56

      Do you know if the $47/MWh subsidy for wind is a state subsidy in addition to the Federal subsidy of $35/MWh?

  66. The article states the NYSERDA subsidy is $24.24 and there is a federal production tax credit of $23.00.

    • Peter Lang

      Thank you. That answers my question. The NYSERDA subsidy of $24.24 must be added to the federal subsidies of $35/MWh. By the way, the $35/MWh federal subsidies is not the full Federal subsidy and also does not include the subsides for the higher grid costs imposed by intermittent renewables and the higher costs transferred to the dispatchable generators.
      Source for US Federal government subsidies: EIA https://www.eia.gov/analysis/requests/subsidy/

  67. Peter
    I think your subsidy data may be out of date. Your link is 2013

    • It’s the most recent I know of. IEA doesn’t update it yearly. Do you know of more recent data? Anyway, it has changed little over time. The over all cost of subsidies is increasing as the proportion of electricity supplied by renewables is increasing.

  68. There is some stuff going on in Australia that is perhaps an indication that the grid operators are realizing their responsibilities and obligations. Causer pays charges for Frequency Control and probably system inertia have been introduced. The wind and solar are squealing as they don’t like the fact they are now being penalized for problems caused by their generation.
    Next thing you know, they might even lose their subsidies. At least in NZ, there is no subsidies. The major wind farm owner pays a lot of money to keep a couple of Rankine cycle steamers available. At the highest load so far this year early on Monday morning, the windfarms were missing in action again, but coal came to the rescue. The $500/MWh spot price would have been a rude awakening for the 100% renewable brigade.Here is the link to live data
    https://www.transpower.co.nz/power-system-live-data
    They also had multiple line trippings, but with the machines on having inertia, they had low voltage ride though so nothing fell off, unlike SA.

  69. A claim is being made that wind power is now possible without subsidies or other privileges. Is this true or is there a catch ?
    https://www.ft.com/content/f5b164a6-20f8-11e7-b7d3-163f5a7f229c

    • It’s a paywall site. I am sure there are some places and situations in the world where this is true today and there are some places where it can not be true for the foreseeable future.

      Key questions: What is the potential wind power in that region (what speeds over what time periods)? What is the cost of other resources? What are the characteristics of the other resources? How much of the total power can come from wind? How is the power treated in the market is it given privilege relative to what it provides? (for example is it able to lean on other resources for essential reliability services.)

      I think a key point is that when new technologies become competitive – they will do so in niche locations first and gradually spread to more broader applications as the technology improves. Wind and solar should start in areas where they have good performance and other costs are high and then as they develop span out. What we see is that they are starting where politicians set subsidies. (Germany should not have been the nation to develop solar.) Maybe one day wind will see good economics in Pennsylvania – but looking at the potential map of wind capability it will happen in Kansas well before that time. http://apps2.eere.energy.gov/wind/windexchange/wind_maps.asp

      • Peter Lang

        I’d suggest THE key question is the validity of the statement that wind is economically viable without subsidies or other privileges (when connected to any major grid)? [I’ve been hearing this assertion from RE advocates for 30 years]

        Where are they claimed to be economically viable without subsides or other privileges?

        What is the true full cost of wind power in that situation and what is the cost of the alternatives?

        El Hierro is a near ideal situation for wind power with ideal topography for pumped hydro competing against high cost shipped in diesel. Even with huge EU subsidies it is not even close to being viable. if it isn’t viable there, it’s a long way from viable compared with grid power.

        The subsidies I’ve posted on this thread show how far away wind power is from being viable.

        [I recognise that off-grid and remote areas wind and solar are viable, but I doubt they are genuinely viable without subsides and other incentives in any major grid, if the full cost of the hidden subsidies are exposed]

      • Energy from wind turbines is indeed economically viable without subsidies, after about a decade of steadily improved designs and experience.

        In stark contrast, nuclear power is woefully uneconomic after more than 5 decades of worldwide efforts. Modern nuclear plants have demonstrated without any doubt that they cannot be built for less than $10,000 per kWe.

        Offshore wind installations in the North Sea recently won an auction by requiring zero subsidies.

        US state of Oklahoma recently ended the state subsidies for (onshore, of course) wind turbine projects.

        This outcome is exactly what knowledgeable wind power advocates have stated for years: wind technology needed a few years and a small assistance from the government to refine, research, test, and develop the optimal turbine, generation, and support tower structures.

        There is still room for improvement in wind turbines, as is well-known. Wind power costs of production will decrease by approximately one-half over the next ten years, as larger turbines, taller towers, and other features are introduced. Zero subsidies will exist for wind turbines in the US, within approximately 5 years. The wind industry no longer needs such assistance. Presently, onshore wind energy costs approximately 4 cents per kWh to produce. That will be decreased to approximately 2 cents per kWh within ten years.

        Maryland (US state) recently approved an offshore wind turbine project that will have 8 MW turbines. Those are much more cost-efficient than the 6 MW or 4 MW turbines.

        The golden age of nuclear power has ended, with a whimper. The golden age of wind power has arrived, with great fanfare.

        None of this is hyperbole, it is solid fact.

      • Roger Sowell says: “The golden age of nuclear power has ended, with a whimper. The golden age of wind power has arrived, with great fanfare.

        None of this is hyperbole, it is solid fact.”

        Like you, I love this new golden age where my electricity bill is going down with great fanfare.

  70. For Planning Engineer, re my earlier comments on nuclear power plants closing in the PJM territory.

    http://www.powermag.com/two-exelon-nuclear-plants-fail-to-clear-pjm-auction/

    Excerpt: “Exelon’s Quad Cities and Three Mile Island nuclear plants have failed to clear the PJM capacity auction for the 2019–2020 planning year, and the future looks grim for at least one of those plants.

    The Chicago-headquartered company on May 25 confirmed that the two plants would not receive capacity revenue for the period. It also said that a portion of the Byron nuclear plant’s capacity did not clear the auction.

    The news comes on the heels of Exelon’s announcement earlier this month that it would retire its Quad Cities and Clinton nuclear plants if wide-ranging energy legislation to save the two plants and boost solar development is not passed during the spring Illinois legislative session that is scheduled to end on May 31.

    The company has said that both the Quad Cities and Clinton plants have lost a combined $800 million over the past seven years, even though they are two of Exelon’s highest-performing plants.”

    It is quite clear that the trend in the US is for old, uneconomic nuclear power plants to close down rather than continue to lose money. The Nebraska-based nuclear plant recently closed for the same reason.

    As inflexible nuclear capacity is removed from the PJM system, more and more wind capacity will be added, along with CCGT plants. I mentioned the Lordstown CCGT earlier.

    And for Peter Lang, the Lordstown CCGT plant has an installed cost of under $1000 per kW, with a 940 MW capacity. There is absolutely no way that nuclear power plants can ever compete with that.

    see the Siemens (CCGT plant supplier) press release here:

    https://www.siemens.com/press/en/pressrelease/?press=/en/pressrelease/2016/power-gas/pr2016040242pgen.htm&content%5B%5D=PG&content%5B%5D=SFS

  71. Peter Lang

    RS shows he does not understand the difference between capital cost of capacity (power), cost of energy generator, and total system cost of energy. He doesn’t understand the difference between generation costs, value of reliable and unreliable energy, and cost of market distortions such as subsidies, mandates, ‘must take’ regulations, incentives, disincentives, and the impact of renewable advocacy and the anti-nuclear power protest movement (of which he is one).

    • Peter Lang, surely you jest.

      California has not had electricity price increases due to renewable power installations; our prices have barely kept up with inflation over the past 20 years. Yet, renewable energy now represents almost 30 percent of all power sold annually in the state – not counting an additional 13 percent from large hydroelectric plants.

      See my article on this: “California Electricity Rates – Residential – Not That High; Subtitle: Annual Average Price Keeps Pace With Inflation”

      http://sowellslawblog.blogspot.com/2016/06/california-electricity-rates.html

      Unlike you, I live and work in the real world, where actual, demonstrated costs are available. Therefore, one can easily see that wholesale power prices in California have declined in recent years, even though the renewable energy portion has increased steadily. The official CAISO reports have much to say on this. At times, the wholesale energy prices approach zero. Yet, we do not see any utility companies filing for bankruptcy.

      You harp on and on about the supposed virtues of nuclear power, even in the face of overwhelming evidence that nuclear power is not economic, nor is it safe.

      Still, your posts are entertaining. Please, do continue, as those posts provide a great amount of amusement to me and my colleagues.

      Tell us, again, how nuclear plants should be and could be built for one-tenth the present costs if only the regulators would step aside. Then, compare your (idiotic) statement to the actual published successful bid for Hinkley Point C for the steam turbines and generators, which alone represent more than 10 percent of the total plant’s estimated initial cost.

      Tell us, again, how nuclear plant subsidies are so very low – even though governments take on almost 100 percent of any liability from radiation damages. And, how construction costs are guaranteed by government assistance. And, how many governments provide construction capital at below-market rates, or even for free to build nuclear plants. And, how governments provide outright grants to operating nuclear plants just to allow them to break even. And, how new nuclear plants in the US enjoy a government subsidy of 2.3 cents per kWh generated for the first 10 years of production. Please, tell us all about the nuclear plants and their subsidies – that you claim are insignificant.

      Until you are honest about nuclear power, you are simply the entertainer. Not credible in the least.

      For factual backup, I cite the economic disasters under construction at Flamanville, France; Olkiluoto, Finland; Vogtle, Georgia, USA; Sumner, South Carolina, USA; and finally Hinkley Point C, UK. None of these first four plants, that use the latest and greatest technology and construction methods, are on-budget and on-time. Instead, they are billions over budget and many years behind schedule.

      Hinkley Point C is too early to tell at this point, but most certainly will end up many years behind schedule and many billions of pounds over budget. The published initial cost estimate for Hinkley Point C is US $26 billion, for 3200 MWe nameplate capacity. That is $8,100 per MWe at the start. After the inevitable delays, cost over-runs, and inflation, the final cost to build will easily exceed $10,000 per MWe. And please note, this is for a project that is not borrowing the money from a lender, so there are few costs for interest on loans. This is your Nth-of-a-kind, the world’s best technology from France using the European Pressurized Reactor (EPR), with economy of scale at 1600 MWe for each reactor, and further economy of scale by building twin reactors in the same project.

      Please, Peter Lang, do continue with the false statements about nuclear power, how great it is, how cheap it is, and how safe it is. Then, look at the real world data that shows nuclear power has achieved only 10 to 11 percent of the world’s electricity production, after 50 years (and counting) of striving mightily to capture market share. Keep watch as the US’ 99 nuclear plants close one by one, never able to operate profitably at or past the 40 year age.

      The laughs never end with what you write.

      • johnfpittman

        Roger, I don’t know how well you have depicted California. You have failed for the new nuclear facilities scheduled for South Carolina. There is no “construction costs are guaranteed by government assistance” unless you mean the government guarantee to bankrupt by forcing a redesign.

        Your statement: “For factual backup, I cite the economic disasters under construction at Flamanville, France; Olkiluoto, Finland; Vogtle, Georgia, USA; Sumner, South Carolina, USA” is not about the cost of nuclear for Sumner. The bankruptcy documents presented show that the cost overruns were from the anti nuclear activists and the federal regulators who sided with them. There is also the issue that the funds may have been mismanaged by the construction side.

        Neither is an indication that the costs were economic in nature.

    • RS is a lawyer who believes and endlessly the nonsense put out by the anti-nuke protest movement. His comments are full of irrelevant factoids and unsupported assertions that are mostly wrong. He demonstrate his ignorance in almost every comment. his inability to comprehend the difference between power and energy, capital cost of capacity cost of energy, and technology generation cost versus total system cost of energy demonstrates his ignorance of the most basic concepts. His claims about renewables being unsubsidised are incredible. What a gullible egit.

      • For Peter Lang, and yours of May 28, 2017 at 12:50 am,

        For the record, my thousands of delighted clients worldwide very much appreciate my knowledge and skills as one with a degree in Chemical Engineering, and as an attorney-at-law practicing in Science and Technology Law. I will take their assessment of my skills over yours, any time.

        Since I exist in the real world, I freely admit that some renewables have a subsidy, both at the state and federal level. Some also enjoy a local level of support. Due to those subsidies, costs to install (on a nameplate MW basis – you figure out if that is “power or energy”) have declined by more than 2/3 in less than a decade.

        The highly-subsidized nuclear power plants, for which you are a cheerleader, have increased in installed cost per kW over the same period.

        Thanks again for all the laughs. My clients, colleagues, and friends very much enjoy the silly, outrageous comments you write on these blogs. Please, do keep it up.

    • I just saw this. It’s an example of the nonsense RS believes and repeats:

      ENERGY INDUSTRY
      Solar power generates 25pc of UK electricity for the first time
      By Jillian Ambrose
      SOLAR power generation blazed to a new record ahead of the Spring Bank Holiday, making up a quarter of the electricity mix yesterday afternoon.
      The nation’s solar panels passed the previous record set last month by generating 8.7GW of power, more than nuclear and coal power combined.
      Solar power was the second most used generating technology behind gas-fired power and made up around 25pc of the UK’s electricity, its highest ever share of the market on a working week day.
      8
      The number of new-generation nuclear reactors that would be needed to match the 12GW of solar power capacity in place
      The UK now has just over 12GW of solar power in place, the same production capacity as eight new-generation nuclear reactors.
      Paul Barwell, the chief executive of the Solar Trade Association, said: “This is a colossal achievement in just five years, and sends a very positive message to the UK that solar has a strong place in the decarbonisation of the UK energy sector.”
      The boom in solar panels in recent years, driven by subsidies, has far exceeded expectations. The panels feed the power they produce into homes or the local electricity grid, cutting demand on the national system to what is expected to be a record low this year.
      National Grid said the renewable generation boom posed a challenge to its role balancing supply and demand on the national transmission network second by second.
      Duncan Burt, who is responsible for National Grid’s control room, said the ability to forecast weather patterns was becoming more significant.
      “We have a team of forecasters who monitor a range of data, to forecast how much electricity will be needed over a set period,” he said. “We have planned for these changes to the energy landscape and have the tools available to ensure we can balance supply and demand. It really is the beginning of a new era.”
      The Government closed off funding for solar projects through its Renewables Obligation scheme in April 2015, allowing a modest grace period for some developers to roll out new sites until April last year. This helped the boom to continue ahead of last summer, but there is now expected to be a lull in new projects for a year or two.
      Jamie Stewart, a senior power expert at market data provider Icis, said however that this would give way to a renewed surge in new solar projects because plummeting costs mean it will no longer need government handouts. “When this grid parity is reached, the UK can expect to see a lot more solar power put in place up and down the country,” he said.
      Abid Kazim, of NextEnergy Capital, said on Thursday at an industry event that he planned to invest in subsidy-free solar because the cost of the technology was “collapsing”.
      “In energy price terms, solar is low-cost and mostly produces cheap electricity during peak demand hours from 07:00-19:00. This means at peak times it keeps down wholesale power prices, which make up around 45pc of a household bill,” Mr Stewart said.

  72. Pingback: Importance Technology Generation And Development | ci