Academics and the grid. Part II: Are they studying the right things?

By Planning Engineer (Russell Schussler)

Influential academics as a body are encouraging an energy transition to renewables, discussing remote hopes and ignoring huge obstacles and greater costs, which will worsen reliability and eventually result in unbearable blackouts.

Part 1 of this series discussed how the findings of academics are often misunderstood so as to make the transition to a high level of renewable penetration seem much easier than it will be. A major part of the problem is that academics study some problems, determine those are solvable and that is then misinterpreted to imply that greater emerging problems are also solved or easily solvable. In this posting we will look at what Academics are studying to determine if they are asking the right questions.

An earlier post discussed many reasons why approaching net zero would be challenging.  For now we will focus on one major challenge to solar and wind penetration.  Before any large generating resource can be connected to the grid, detailed interconnection studies must be performed. These studies seek to determine what will be needed to make sure the resulting system is robust enough to meet requirements for dependable stable operation. If the system in the area is strong and the resource adds additional robustness, then the interconnection requirements are minimal. If the system is weak in that area and especially if the connecting resource “leans” on the system, then significant costly improvements  and additions may be needed in the area and across the wider system.

What makes a system strong or robust?  In additions to high-capacity transmission lines, the anchoring source is large rotating machines that operate in synchronism with the grid. They provide inertia, they can respond quickly through ramping, they can inject vars, they increase short circuit MVA (mega volt amperes).  All good things necessary for a reliable power system.  Asynchronous generation, sources which don’t spin with the system, such as wind and solar, do not as readily add strength to a system; rather they tend lean on other resources.

Synchronous generators provide essential reliability services  which are needed for the operation of the grid.  The primary services are voltage control, frequency control and balancing services. Conventional generators (coal, natural gas, nuclear, hydro) readily provide these ser vices because they rotate in synchronism with the grid.  Not all resources do.  To quote from the US Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy”:

However, newer technologies such as wind, solar, many energy storage technologies, and new types of load controls operate through the use of power electronics and control systems that don’t operate in the same way as historic technologies. Newer technologies offer interesting (bold italics added) opportunities because their control systems can be tuned to operate similar (bold italics added) to conventional generation.

Rest assured the “interesting opportunities” offered by newer technologies will be extremely challenging, and before these challenges can be met much research development and successful engineering will need to be performed or the system will dangerously degrade.   Also note the use of the word “similar”; do not believe that it means “similarly well in a satisfactory manner.”  (I can throw a football similar to the way Tom Brady does, but believe me I could not sustain a high school offensive drive.)   The challenges associated with integrating large amounts of wind and solar do not consist of minor details that can easily be worked out once we find a way to get enough megawatt hours at the right time from wind and solar resources to replace fossil fuel resources.  Wind and solar will add complexity, cost and uncertainty for a long time. The less well these resources perform, the greater the likelihood of service reductions and blackouts.  As noted, solar, wind and batteries, when providing power to the grid, typically lean on conventional technology.

It is a crucial question as to what will provide support when wind and solar have displaced the major supporting elements of the power grid. Hydro capacity is pretty well maxed out in most locations. Nuclear has potential to reduce CO2 while supporting the system, but faces considerable social and political challenges. Without some currently unspecified approach to add significant robustness to the system through the provision of essential reliability services, the increased retirement of conventional synchronously rotating generation and its replacement with asynchronous wind and solar will continue to make blackouts and outages more frequent and severe. There is much work to be done to make solar and wind better emulate essential reliability services, but such work is in the early stages and the results are at best mixed. Let’s look at what is being studied by academics supporting a net zero transition. One would hope that these major concerns would be a prime area of discussion and research within the academic community.

Conveniently as I was finishing up Part 1, I came across this article, Review on 100% Renewable Energy System Analyses—A Bibliometric Perspective. There has been a huge increase on scholarly publications relating to the net zero transition, as can be seen in the figures below taken from the article.

Screen Shot 2023-01-08 at 2.04.37 PM

If we are serious about increased grid penetration from renewable resources, it is critical that additional successful impactful research be done. Breakthroughs will be needed in the planning and operating the grid to ensure reliability as the amount of asynchronous and intermittent wind and solar resources make up more and more of the generation mix. While batteries can help with the intermittency problem, they too are asynchronous resources, and thus may contribute to greater challenges.  Wind, solar and batteries push toward an insufficient supply of synchronous resources, which anchor the system through their ability to provide inertia, vars (volts amperes reactive) and other desirable system needs.

As noted in the article, the study of renewables to achieve a net zero grid, is an international effort with many links among the contributors. Of particular value is the graphic below supplied in the article which shows keywords from the published articles. This graphic describes what is is being studied and receiving attention.

Screen Shot 2023-01-08 at 2.06.57 PM

There are a few key words linked to the major problems associated with grid reliability. The relevant key words are: intermittency, electric power transmission, transmission capacity, seasonal variation, power flows, backup capacity, microgrids, energy demand, weather and storage capacity. There are a large number of words associated with cost, which is good. However, the keyword ‘levelized costs’ shows up, which is a reminder many are unaware of grid issues. Levelized cost does not consider the grid impacts of generation resources and solely focuses on the economics of generation divorced from grid impacts.  This approach is very much out of place in confronting the challenges of obtaining a net zero grid. Trying to justify renewables by quoting levelized cost seems like either a major mistake or mis-direction.  There are many words tied to reasons for reducing CO2 such as atmospheric pollution, decarbonization, air pollutions mortality, global climate and, low carbon.  However, discussion of drivers and need are not helpful in figuring out how to achieve net zero. There are words linked to geographical locations where studies have gone on.  From my review it does not appear that any significant number of these studies are about the grid and how it might be made to operate, but rather mostly resource-based evaluations and justifications for the need to reduce CO2 and calls to action.

What’s striking and most concerning is what is not found in this graphic of key words.  Reliability, stability, inertia, voltage control, balancing, vars, spinning reserve, ramping, quick standby, contingencies, damping and oscillations for example. Words commonly associated with the interconnection process of new resources are nowhere to be found within this review of academic papers on the subject of a net zero transaction. Another notable omission is nuclear. Nuclear power is the best hope for a low carbon resource that could provide critical grid support.  Is the group collectively serious?

The article talks of Energy System Models (ESMs) used to evaluate energy systems. They describe one model thusly,” EnergyPLAN is one of the most widely used ESM tools to evaluate energy systems with high shares of RE (Renewable Energy), applying simulation assumptions.” Taking a lesson from Part 1 of this series that statement should be understood as saying,” EnergyPLAN is one of the most widely used ESM tools to evaluate certain very limited components of energy systems with high shares of renewable energy, applying simulation assumptions”. The other programs referenced can be described similarly as only covering a limited portion of concerns around the proposed energy transitions.  There is a lot of modelling and lot of studying going on, but evidently, the mainstream academics are not focused on the major challenges around generation, transmission and distribution of energy from asynchronous renewable resources nor are they concerned with promoting synchronous resources which could help.  These models are concerned with backup, transmission and capacity at only the most superficial and basic levels when it comes to power supply concerns.

Imagine a body of academic literature surrounding a proposed transition away from both animal and vegetable sources for human diets. Most would hopefully recognize the inherent insanity if the major keywords were flavor, texture, scent, appearance and satiety while words like health, calories, nutrition, protein, fats, carbohydrates and digestible were missing from the literature. A vast literature seeking to eliminate beams from skyscraper would be suspect if the keywords did not include words like loadings, shear, stress and vibrations. The situation with these studies as to the grids ability to handle net zero carbon appears equally insane and ridiculous. A group of studies this large advancing an agenda to greatly increase asynchronous renewable (wind, solar and battery) penetration should show some consideration of the major challenges that will need to be addressed.

Studies about how much energy can be produced from these resources, how it can be stored and how it can be transported, where transmission is treated like plumbing, do not help us advance past the significant hurdles which lie ahead. Seeing many nations advance in lock step toward the goal of increased asynchronous intermittent penetration with no well-studied remediation actions in place is frightening. Instead of joint cheerleading, we should be sharing and documenting the challenges to better work around them.

There are many technical publications and many technical journals which grapple with the concerns around essential reliability services.  For example, engineers, academics and scientists jointly grapple with the critical such as providing synthetic or virtual inertia through inverter technology to aid the Texas grid.   There is some hope that advanced computer controls can be developed so that asynchronous resources perform similarly enough to maintain the grid at higher penetration levels. It should be recognized that the talk is of possibilities not probabilities. Here the National Renewable Energy Laboratory concludes “Ongoing research points to the possibility of maintaining grid frequency even in systems with very low or no inertia”. The unsaid part of that statement is that it may not even be possible to maintain grid frequencies with low inertia. It’s also certainly in the mix at this point, based on the statement from National Renewable Laboratory, that in the next 20 years the best we may be able to do at higher penetration levels of asynchronous renewables is maintain frequency in a highly inferior manner with a boatload of reliability problems, with increasing blackouts at untenably high prices.

The published papers in this area tend to focus more on dealing with problems in the present as system needs are emerging, not critiquing or advocating for potential changes, nor warning of the dangers of the long-term trends. There are many general differences between the literature studying actual grid reliability concerns and the studies in the net zero bibliography. They vary as to advocacy, audience, visibility and impact on policy. Part III of this series to be titled “Visionaries and Problem Solvers” will discuss the differences between these two groups in more detail and compare their distinctive approaches and the important resulting implications.

While the academics I would term as “visionaries” do not highlight or study major grid reliability concerns, I think such concerns are becoming more well known to them. The typical approach of visionary academics, to concerns about observed and emerging grid problems, has been to call for “Smart Grids” as if that magically solves everything.  Modern grids are “smart” but as  with any “smart” technology there are all kinds of applications that could be adopted, so of course not all potential “smart” applications could be employed on any given systems. Some small subset of “smart” applications may provide particular benefits in some circumstances and make it easier for asynchronous wind, solar and batter resources to interconnect and operate with the grid. Unfortunately, it is common for renewable proponents to make the leap to presume that “Smart Grids” could solve many or all of the grid problems associated with wind, solar and batteries. This is a false and dangerous presumption.

This ties to one last observation from the IEE bibliography keywords: “Supergrid” comes up frequently in the keyword search. This is likely because the limitations of “Smart Grids” in accommodating intermittent power are becoming more and more apparent and undeniable. “Supergrids”, the next big thing, can be poised to stifle emerging worries and bolster hopes of greater greenhouse gas emission reductions despite the technical problems seen by conventional grids and even Smart Grids. Rest assured large “Supergrid” applications will introduce additional problems, complexity and many issues which will need to be solved. They do not deserve to be considered as the next magic panacea.    Perhaps there are limited opportunities where the simplest “Supergrid” applications might be considered in a long-term approach across a wide area, but overall, the concept is highly speculative and not ready for widespread promotion.  Including the term in calls for a net zero transition only serves to misinform and distract policy makers.  It’s disappointing to find it as a keyword on the net zero listing. Especially in light of the many crucial terms that did not show up. We should be careful to ignore the distractions of what might be possible one day and advocate for plans consistent with reasonable expectations.

The academic literature arguing for a net zero transition of the electric grid focuses on lesser problems and ignores the larger roadblocks.  As a whole the body of studies might be seen to falsely suggest that the transition is within reach.  The papers in this literature should include the disclaimer: “This paper only looks at a limited set of problems associated with a net zero transition.  Solving the problem(s) studied here still leaves many unsolved and potentially unsolvable problems on the table and furthermore it is likely that this solution may aggravate existing problems as well as creating new ones.” Barring major breakthroughs in the areas of critical technical challenges (which don’t seem to be receiving a lot of attention at the policy level) the grid cannot reliably support the envisioned increase penetration of wind and solar need to get anywhere close to a net zero goal.  Influential academics as a body encouraging an energy transition while focusing on lesser concerns, discussing remote hopes and ignoring huge obstacles will lead to increased likelihoods of greater costs, worsening reliability and eventually unbearable blackouts.

Thanks to Roger Caiazza for review and helpful comments

Bonus Section

This link will allow you to see a 25 second clip of the Eastern Interconnection, the largest grid, responding to a fault and generator outage . On February 26, 2008 a substation fire caused a chain reaction that caused several system elements to trip off line, culminating in the loss of two large nuclear generating units. When generation is lost the rotating machines in the system very quickly increase generation. Because the loss was two large generating units, the protection schemes in Florida called for load shedding as well. The impacts of this event were felt throughout the entire grid. What the graphic shows is the patterns of generation in the east increasing and decreasing their frequencies to ride out this disturbance. In no harmful impacts were experience outside of Florida. This is because the large generators with their inertia were able to change frequency and dampen the oscillation. An electric system where the large rotating machines were replaced with today’s wind and solar applications would show great stress.  In an over stressed system, the observed oscillations would continue and grow until many units were tripped off the grid and the resulting instability led to widespread blackout.


166 responses to “Academics and the grid. Part II: Are they studying the right things?

  1. California is reaping the rewards of having intermittent energy delivered over long transmissions lines during stormy times.

  2. So true about the grid itself. In California they had forest fires last year due to poor maintenance on power transmission lines, and If I recall correctly, this was during the time period where rolling blackouts were common. This is already happening.

  3. It is very well known that we have had little and major ice ages, that alternated with warmer times all warmer than now some warmer over ten thousand years and much warmer over a million years while CO2 was lower than now.
    It is clear that there is a need to look at history and data and study and understand why climate changed the way it did in the past.
    They have established a “normal” climate that is supposed to be the “Equilibrium Climate” that should never change other than as a result of Man-Made CO2 Emissions.
    Now, for the first time in Billions of Years, Climate Change has supposed to have ceased, killed, destroyed by a “Peer Reviewed Consensus” a written piece of paper, or not even a piece of paper, just words, repeated throughout the world by main stream media and the political forces in control.

    I suggest that natural climate change is still working and a best path forward is to study and understand natural factors that cause natural climate change, other than Just Man-Made CO2

    Alex Pope

  4. In years past, there were people who were concerned about cost and reliability, now, with Trillions in funding, the goal is to spend and build as much as possible as fast as possible before someone wakes up and turns the money faucet off.

  5. Bill Fabrizio

    Thank you, Russell. Excellent piece.

  6. This was written:
    In this posting we will look at what Academics are studying to determine if they are asking the right questions.

    They have Consensus, they are not asking questions.

  7. For some 20 years or so I’ve been reading the claims and counter claims of academics and power engineers about designing reliable grids based on unreliable (even that is contested) solar and wind. The subject is impenetrable to even a reasonably well-informed scientist like me. How will a resolution be reached? At what kind of scale can feasibility reliably be established? Indeed, what reliability standards should be applied? Do such grids need to be built at the scale typical of e.g. the USA before we know for sure whether they are working well enough? And ultimately how can the final decision makers tell that adequate relevant evidence has been established so that they can proceed with their decisions? It’s a worry alright, as we Australians like to say.

    • I thought you guys had already discovered the answer!

      • Interestingly, the holy grail in fusion research is the proton-boron 11 reaction, one of whose benefits is direct conversion of charged fusion products into electricity without boiling water to spin generators. Other fusion concepts offer the same opportunity to raise efficiency and lower costs by eliminating the need for thermal spinning of generators. That’s probably one reason why Helion, leading the pack, is planning to start with industrial customers rather than plugging into the grid.

  8. Thank you for your contributions and it is refreshing to hear from an engineer about engineering problems with these so called net zero plans. I am in Australia where we are racing down a path to get rid of large thermal generation and anything I read seems to play down the inertia issues and assumes that voltage and VAR management can be done with synchronous capacitors. In fact in Queensland where I live there is a Government plan to disconnect the generating units from the steam turbines to make them into synchronous capacitors! Again where is the inertia coming from. There was a one liner in the report stating that if necessary a flywheel could be added. This is a plan that commits nearly $au90b … sanity please

  9. To keep the climate glitteratti happy, governments have been writing and shelving “100% renewable plans” for decades. Every activist will tell you they’re feasible and cost less than coal. And not a one has ever been built (though some areas are powered by dams).
    Based on the fawning press coverage of EU climate action over the past three decades, no place on earth should have been better prepared for a Russian fossil fuel cutoff than Europe. “Free” renewable energy abounds!
    It’s been 31 years since the Rio Summit- the “climate debate” now boils down to theology versus competent governance.
    One faction wishes modern life to continue, another pushes doomsday prophecies that are increasingly divorced from science in order to get “solutions” that are now demonstrably ineffective. Why anyone listens to this faction at this point is beyond me. They should have the same media attention as Bigfoot enthusiasts.

  10. Slightly off the topic of academic focus, but…

    You often refer to “synchronous” resources and imply or state that these might not be emulatable by asynchronous resources, or that it would take a lot of research.

    I find that a bit suspect, at least regarding response to relatively short lived events. The physics and behavior of three phase synchronous motor/generators is well understood, with relatively simple mathematics.

    So it seems highly likely that a battery, acting as inertia, and a moderately smart controller/inverter could do the same thing. It could simulate the effect of inertia and three phase synchronous behavior by emulating the known behavior of the traditional synchronous generators, thus providing the same stability as the mechanical

    Obviously, from a reliability standpoint, such systems would indeed need to be proven, and rigorously, before they became significant providers of that stability service.

    And more obviously, without extreme expense, the battery would only offer short term relief.

    But I would be shocked if it proved a difficult challenge to build and then prove such systems. I write as an engineer, but not a power engineer.,

    • Aplanningengineer

      The bleeding edge of research is always optimistic. But there is a lot of work between concepts and implementation.

      • Thanks. The paper is quite interesting, and shows a far less optimistic view of timelines (up to 30 years for implementation on substitutes for inertia in large systems).

        My thinking was basically the synchronverter approach described in there, i.e. a direct simulation of the synchronous mechanical generator, using a DC supply (batteries), an inverter, and a control system. That approach should reduce the instability problems to that of a classical grid with actual, rather than emulated rotational inertia. Modern electronics is fast and smart enough to make the simulation very accurate.

        Except… as the paper mentions… in sudden events, the current required (in or out) could exceed the limits of the synchronverter electronics. And also… failures in that system would behave differently from failures in a classical generator.

        And, the paper talks about multiple approaches other than the synchronverter – more complex in concept.

        Finally, thanks again for all of your articles. I’ve read every one with great interest, as the renewables religion continues to ignore reality.

    • I’ll take a blind guess and stipulate you won’t be able to put together enough batteries to have the same effect as all the spinning inertia on the grid.

      • I can run my house off my Volt’s 14KWh battery and a 2KW/12V pure sine wave inverter. All my electronics work fine and I don’t need a spinning flywheel.

        What get’s these engineers all worked up is the possibility of a grid collapse and then having to attempt a Black start to restart all the separate generators @ the right voltage and in sync.
        Microgrids don’t need spinning reserves.

      • Jack
        Almost all electronics run on DC internally. That means they can take very dirty AC power. Try running big motor sets off battery powered inverters or even a stand-alone generator. It is a very different situation.
        About half the world’s power consumption is supposed to be used driving pumps. That is why there needs to be a grid with inertia.

      • Chris,
        Almost everything can run on Direct Current. Even my Samsung refrigerator uses a digital inverter compressor that use around 30% less energy than ones with single-speed induction motor compressors. Converting a AC power source to DC load will always cost some efficiency. Someday maybe they will start offering household appliances that would work with a 12v/48v system and drop all those internal transformers/rectifiers. Cheaper to make, last longer and more efficient. What’s not to like?

      • Jack
        You might be able to run everything at a household level from DC but how would you get the power to your house? Go back to the electricity war and look at why Edison lost out to Westinghouse/ Tesla.
        Do you really think all the big motor pump sets moving water around (potable, sewage, storm, irrigation) could be viably replaced by DC? Look at DC protection systems. They are really serious bits of kit for relatively small power ratings

    • John
      A 500MVA thermal generator with H=8, not atypical, is 4000MWs inertia. That is a massive battery pack needed to replace just one unit. And the need to be charged at all times so you need surplus renewables. And they need gridforming inverters. Plus your switchyard will need fast acting statcons. Now how much will that cost? It might only be called on once a year so do the cost benefit on that.
      Yet you get all of the above plus more with just one coal-fired unit which is dispatchable. How many thermal units does your grid have? The usual rule of thumb seems to be the inertia in MWs needs to be 3-4 times the actual load in MW. How many trillion do you want to pay for your power, as it will be the consumer/ taxpayer who funds it

      • Chris, I’m not advocating this approach. I am not a big fan of raising our electricity costs through the roof, or reducing reliability, by going too far with “renewables.” My preference is CCGT until we have enough nuclear, with wind/solar only in the system where it makes economic sense *in a free, unsubsidized market*.

        So I was just questioning the idea that true rotational inertia is necessary or at least necessary for decades into the future, and hoping to learn a bit about it that way (the paper our author referenced is quite interesting in that regard).

        Also, a question for you and David… when you give the GWs of inertia, are you talking usable inertia or total inertia? By my calculations, using ERCOT’s generous frequency tolerances, only 2% of the total inertia is available before the frequency of rotation (and hence of the grid) drops below the limits.

        So is the 4GWs that 2% (which would make sense) or is it the total angular kinetic energy of the generator?

        Finally, Chris, if you use a DC source and a sychronverter, it should be a drop-in replacement for a mechanical generator as far as the part grid stability contributed by inertia (see caveats in my response to A P E).

      • John
        To answer your question.
        The inertia of a system is just the standard rotational kinematics laws rewritten. High school physics stuff – well it was when I went through the system. The units are convertible – MWs, kWh, Joules reference the same energy. The energy used is just change in velocity. The rotational energy of a big high speed turbine generator is orders of magnitude greater than that expended in minimising a frequency swing.
        In theory, from what I have read, a grid forming inverter and a battery bank can substitute for inertia. I don’t know what their dampening capacity is, but that may be able to be programmed out, Same with low voltage ridethrough. However, it won’t give VARs, and the waveform won’t be good. This has to be added on the High Voltage side of the switchyard. That all costs megabucks – looks to be so eyewatering for not only capital, but operating and life expectancy, that even the proponents won’t put numbers on it.
        Yet you get all that for free from a synchronous thermal generator being on the grid. That is the comparison people need to do. Engineers do cost-benefits all the time. If it is not mentioned, it is invariably bad. Yet academics either cannot or will not. Why?

    • Hi John – I think a 1,000MW set has about 4GW.s equivalent of energy stored as inertia. See An interesting document that covers the issues and possible mitigations

      • An interesting doc, but mind the pitfalls.

        From sec3.1: ‘The governors historically used in synchronous generators shown in Figure 3 have largely been
        replaced with electronic sensors that rapidly measure frequency and send signals to the generator
        to change output when they detect a deviation. However, synchronous generators still rely on
        valves and other mechanical systems to change the supply of energy, and all these mechanical
        systems take time to respond. Because of the limited response rate from these mechanical
        systems, an adequate amount of inertia has been historically needed to slow the rate at which
        frequency drops and avoid UFLS.’

        The above may not even include effects of fast temperature change on material limits. Modern electronics fitted on old mechanical designs with limited rate of temp swing can be very aggressive and accelerate wastage of plant service life.

      • See my reply above to Chris. Also, thanks for the very interesting NREL document.

    • “So it seems highly likely that a battery, acting as inertia…”
      Your batteries = 1.
      All the rotating mass from fossil fuels, nuclear and hydro on the grid right now = 1000.
      The inertia that has existed on the grid is something large. I suggest you have to replace it. I don’t think it’s low cost or no cost from a few batteries or electrical components.

      • The arc of technology is manifest in the network effect. Telegraph to telephone to radio phone to internet connected smartphone to the IoT (Internet of Things). Each step is more distributed and discrete but also more interconnected. Warning: It would seem the logical next step would be neural links but when you realize someone else could rewrite your own memories maybe we don’t want to go there.

      • Jack:

        The problem is currently solved with large inertia. I suggest you can’t put that inertia into a box in a closet. Point to the current answer. Then point to this future answer solved with a small thing. In South Australian I think it is, they are attempting to solve this same problem with rotating mass.

        I watched a video of a guy with a 160 foot head stream fed generator. Output was 400 watts. I think the Hoover Dam is the better answer.

      • Ragnaar,
        Hoover Dam is down to 27% of capacity, and only about 150 feet above the deadpool level. I wouldn’t put too much stock in Hoover dam as an electricity source for that many more years. I wish it were different – I live in Las Vegas, as do most of my immediate family.

  11. Russell
    Thank you for posting that link showing the harmonic on the grid from not that big a trip. I didn’t realise the rippling occurred and how far it reached. The interconnector flows must have been massive. It is scary to think how easily that could lead to a cascade down to blackness.
    It probably is one of the factors that would set maximum grid size – defeating those arguing for intercontinental transmission systems.

    • That video was very interesting. If my maths is correct the max freq swing was about 0.11%. (not much by may experience). I was wondering about what the majority of governing systems in the rest of the generators was.

      Here’s why. The system I knew years ago was mainly governed by old mechanical gov’s, speed/freq control, a mix of proportional only and PID (4% droop). A new addition had speed control but was over-ridden by a Load-set from a DCS. When that addition found itself isolated it floated about in frequency trying to keep to set load until it met the first trip point – around -3.x% in one case, and was then lost.

      How many generators on the large grid maintain their load set point rather than frequency?

      My experience is that vendors never, or rarely, go into such details when they make their plant offers, and in-house knowledge of such matters is also rare. As to outsiders its non existent.

      • Every grid has different operating procedures, but usual practice seems to be having most of the machines on set point or load limiters with only some on frequency keeping duty. There may also some hydros on tailrace depression as fast reserves as well.
        I haven’t seen a grid map with line loadings on for that grid, but from what has been previously written, I gather it is a number of sub-grids with interconnectors. Those would be choke points and a major influence on behaviour.
        I have tried to learn it but I have found it just too hard to understand grid behaviour in swinging load conditions.

    • Joe - the non climate scientist

      Chris you made the comment that – “It probably is one of the factors that would set maximum grid size – defeating those arguing for intercontinental transmission systems.”

      Can you elaborate in more detail.
      Can you also elaborate on how much power is lost (or not lost) when electricity is transmitted over various distances (ie over 100 miles vs 500 miles or 1,000 miles)


      • Under sea from US to Europe is roughly 5,000 miles.

      • Hi Joe – the limit for an AC system with overhead transmission lines is the voltage drop due to the line reactance hence very long lines are usually HV DC lines

    • Aplanningengineer

      Keep in mind that’s a small easily handled problem. If the system is overstressed each successive oscillations gets larger (though with various harmonics involved they might decrease for a bit as the harmonics cancel each other out, then explode when they hit at the same time). When this happens in the real world, usually a lot of things start tripping off. Unchecked the system crashes instead of just parts.

      • Erik Magnuson

        I was wondering about putting a bit of intelligence into EV battery chargers to increase damping of frequency swings by adjusting charging proportional to instantaneous line frequency, while making accommodations or long term variations in frequency. One tricky part is getting a good frequency measurement so that the phase lag (in terms of frequency swinging back and forth) is substantially less than 90 degrees.

        It’s been my experience that few people who haven’t worked for a utility or ave taken a power systems course really understand whats goes n in keeping a grid running at 60Hz (or 50Hz as the case may be). There’s nothing like a power systems lab with real rotating machines to drive home what happens during a disturbance.

      • Erik …

        > There’s nothing like a power systems lab with real rotating machines to drive home what happens during a disturbance.

        I couldn’t agree more. I wonder what data is already out there from such labs that could illuminate this discussion?

  12. @planningengineer

    I have read every OP you have posted on Climate Etc (I think) but I am still no clearer as to WHY asynchronous power sources contribute to grid instability. WHY is it that asynchronous power sources can’t emulate dispatchibility of synchronous sources?

    Most of this post is about your concern of the lack of understanding academia has for the instabilities and problems trying meet net zero will introduce. I get that, but what I would like to have characterised is the specifics of what those problems are. You talk about them in generalities, but I need a SPECIFIC example to illustrate how this problem would manifest.

    Here is my basic understanding; if a power generator cannot change its output quickly (dispatchible) and is intermittent it increases the strain on generation that can be increasing the variability of available generation. So gas powered generators which are dispatchible are run less efficiently in order to be ready for extra demand. But that does not answer WHY asynchronous generation can’t be throttled.

    Most people have an understanding of how electric power works using an EV or a power tool that can easily change its output, via an accelerator or a speed knob. Why is it that similar throttling outputting to a grid is so hard? I imagine the more batteries involved the more the intermittency is ameliorated, but your suggesting that batteries can’t be made to emulate synchronous source. I believe you, but I don’t understand why.

    How could you explain this issue such that I can then explain to others why it is so problematic?

    • Aplanningengineer

      Watch the video linked to in the end. I was blown away when I saw it graphically, even though I’d seen millions of plots of how the parameters swing during a disturbance (like is shown on the side). Planners study those plots to determine system limits. A scenario with a disturbance that is damped will change if a higher inertia unit is replaced by a lower inertia unit. Such that the oscillations increase and the system becomes unstable. People a couple years into school struggle to understand what’s going on, I’ve seen all kinds of illustrations with springs and sometime even chariots and horses tied together in weird ways. I don’t know briefly how to explain it in a post with the time I’ve got.

      • That was an interesting comment about chariots and horses. I don’t quite know, but those are some brutes with a mind of their own. But I see – maybe – a parallel. It can be complex!

        I recall three turbo-gens on same steam header and same output bus-bar. Steam side all fed pass-out steam to common header but each with its own pass-out input to gov. If all allowed to function, any minor grid change or disturbance started an undamped oscillation between the machines and the passout and electrical output. The whole grid was effected but the source was always from the LP steam take-off.

        The grid may be more than electrical.

      • @aplanningengineer

        I do understand that the asynchronous power generation creates instabilities. I do not disbelieve you. But you keep not specifying WHY. In your analogy, why IS IT that those walls are styrofoam and not able to contribute to the load? Why IS IT that those sources are not able to contribute to stability?

        Why is it that the technology that connects asynchronous sources to the grid cannot also contribute to grid stability?

        I explained in another post, I come from an audio engineering/composing background, so I understand digital signal processing. Making a digital signal, or any type of signal emulate another is trivially easy in the audio realm. I understand the principles, so why does it not translate?

        Passing a DC current through a switch controlled by an LFO is a cinch – I do it on my synths all the time. I can easily set up damping effects so that if there is a change in signal strength (gain – analogous to demand in a grid) it automatically attenuates or increases VCA so a target level is achieved. Anti-feedback circuits are common place in audio gear. All this is run of the mill stuff in the audio realm. I appreciate it is not the same thing exactly but the principles ought to apply oughtn’t they?

        Why does this tech not exist on a grid trying to emulate high inertial power source? Is it because of the high voltage or high currents involved? Obviously, such a system would have to be run at lower than max capacity so as to allow for headroom, is that not possible or is it really inefficient? Why is that? Would it be because of losses involved in restricting discharge? Would that not be easily solvable and if not why not? I stabbing about trying to get a handle on this….

    • Agnostic2015, I wonder whether you are concerned about two different problems. or at least two different levels of complexity.

      The first problem is the slow variation of load that occurs, typically, over hours. This load variation could in principle be addressed by, for example, having large capacity battery banks which are interfaced to the grid via power electronics (i.e. solid state switches with suitable smoothing devices such as capacitors and inductors). However, as wind and solar can be absent for large periods of time, such battery banks would be huge and monstrously expensive. For example, here in the UK we had a lack of wind during the hot, dry summer of 1976 when there was little wind for over 60 days. With a safety factor of, say, 50% that implies a battery pack sufficient to support the grid for about 100 days during which the power electronics would have to work totally reliably. There is also the issue that the smoothing circuitry mentioned above will not be perfect and so the voltage and current waveforms from the battery banks will not be smooth sinusoids of fundamental frequency but somewhat notched waveforms. The battery pack control system would have to decide which part of the battery pack was the master frequency and voltage setter while the other parts of the battery pack operated in slave mode.

      The second problem to consider is the fast-acting fault such as a short-circuit that is typically cleared by the circuit breakers only a few electrical cycles after its occurrence. Such a fault may be over in less than a second or, depending upon the system protection strategy, over in a few seconds. [There is a link elsewhere in this thread illustrating such a fault which originated in Florida.] During such quick-acting faults the rotating inertia of a traditional generator (plus that of its gas- or steam-turbine shaft) act to carry the generator through the huge transient electromagnetic forces created by the short-circuit without much change of rotational speed or of frequency such that, once the fault is cleared, operation continues essentially as before with pure sinusoidal voltage, current and frequency waveforms upon which the grid has traditionally relied. This happens automatically simply due to the huge inertia of the turbine generator string; the generator’s electrical and steam/gas turbine control systems simply support this ride-through capability by damping down the generator’s “hunting” (i.e. slight oscillation in speed) as it adjusts to the new (i.e. post-fault) steady-state power and phase angle.

      By contrast, although a power electronics system would have to perform much the same functions during a fault, the power electronics system would provide (as noted above) inferior sawtooth waveforms and thus risk synchronisation failure when attempting to reconnect to the system at the start of the post-fault period – indeed, what additional complications arise during resynchronisation when both the generator and system waveforms are approximations to pure sinewaves? If memory serves, such a fault occurred here in the UK about 4 years ago following a lightning strike on a power line which resulted in a conventional generator tripping off-line and a large wind farm losing the frequency signal and subsequently tripping off-line too.

      My gut instinct is not to sacrifice the essentially pure sinusoidal nature of the grid except for very good reasons; current wind turbine and solar technologies (with their associated power electronics) are insufficient in my mind to make that sacrifice.
      Regards. John.

      • Thanks to both of you for the reply.

        @planningengineer – yes I did see the video and did find it informative. I understand abstractly what the overall problem is – stability – but I still don’t understand why asynchronous power sources should contribute to it.


        Thankyou for your detailed and thoughtful reply, that helps somewhat. However;

        My day job is a composer – I write music for a living and I play extensively with analogue synthesisers. I also have a pretty fair grasp of digital audio. What you are describing to me sounds like a sample rate problem. When a computer decides on the level and information of a wave it breaks it down into samples, but the high rate at which this is done – 44.1k, 48k, 88.2k, 96k etc etc means it is indistinguishable from an analogue wave.

        I regularly play with arcane analogue synthesis in which we manipulate sound waves (actually electrical current before it is sent to an audio output) from pulse waves, to saw tooth and sine to smooth, stretch, distort in all kinds of ways. Its hard for me to understand why modern electronics that are reading many 1000s times faster than AC cycle should not be able to adapt to such sudden changes in demand as you describe really easily. I’d frankly just put an audio compressor on the signal with fast response time, but there are even more sophisticated tools these such as gain attenuators. These are plugins that do not change the audio but target a specific level of signal level and either boost or attenuate the signal to hit that threshold.

        So the only reason I can imagine why a power conditioning device would not be able to manage this is due to the high currents involved requiring much larger circuits that may not respond as quickly. But we are talking about 250hz not 96000 hz.

        The issue with batteries is noted – but in terms of improving stability, surely that would work. Retaining other forms of power generation such as gas during periods of no or too little wind seems a fair compromise.

        I argue vociferously against renewables as too low density and requiring too much infrastructure. They are my main points against, but I would like to understand better what the technical problems that renewables introduce with regards to grid instability. You’ve helped somewhat so far.

      • aplanningengineer

        “I understand abstractly what the overall problem is – stability – but I still don’t understand why asynchronous power sources should contribute to it.”

        Maybe it’s a question of perspective. You can say asynchronous resources don’t contribute to the problem. In that case the problem is that they do not contribute to the solutions. The synchronous machines help each other. They are all pulling to get the system back to normal. Asynchronous resources are bystanders. The system was built on and depends on mutual support.

      • aplanningengineer

        Think of load bearing walls. Some walls just separate rooms but don’t provide support. You can separate rooms with load bearing walls of walls that are basically styrofoam for sound damping. When you analyze the collapse of a structure the non-load bearing walls did not contribute to the problem, in fact they may not have seen the stress the load bearing walls did. The stress is transferred through the support walls (if I understand my ME). The non load bearing might be more likely to be standing after a collapse, or at least be more intact. But if you don’t have enough load bearing, you are in trouble.

      • John,
        A dirt cheap (pun intended) long duration grid scale will soon be available. Form Energy has perfected the iron-air battery @ the estimated cost of $20/KWh.

        Pro: Cheap, 100+ hour duration, 100% recyclable, no pollution
        Con: Takes 100+ hours to recharge, cannot surge power, needs a lot of space

      • JohnC – I don’t know why you say a sawtooth waveform. We already have quite old (1970 – Pacific DC Intertie) DC to AC systems which produce acceptable waveforms into AC power grids.

        Also, as agnosttic2015 points out, modern electronics can make waveforms in fine detail.

        As an aside, since agnostic mentioned it, I once helped design a digital music synthesizer back in the early ’70s, and got a good feel for the problems (admittedly at low power) from that.

        But I agree… don’t replace what we have unless it makes sense.

    • @agnostic2015 –

      AEMO article on grid inverters. Unless I missed it, the article doesn’t say how many GWh of batteries would be needed to run the entire grid by inverters. I still believe that will be the Achilles heel of this scheme.

      • It is even less definitive than that Jim. To quote the white paper report
        “Across the sector, time and resources will be needed to prove this technology at scale to support the fastest possible transition and capitalise on grid-forming inverter technology potential. Together, AEMO and industry urgently need to focus in the three areas shown in Figure 2 below to capture the opportunities presented by advanced grid-scale inverters. The top priority should be demonstrating and proving advanced inverter technology capabilities at scale, and maximising the inherent capabilities of all new grid-scale batteries.”
        So they work in desktop studies (P18) and small trials but we don’t know what they will do when scaled up. And that is before we look at costs. They identify Costs and Revenue as key barriers.
        Ties back to the head post. Academics extrapolating studies, though in this case, there is a bit of reality behind it.

      • Joe - the non climate scientist

        Chris & PE

        FWIW – we appreciate commentary for people who have actual knowledge and actual experience operating and managing grids – as compared the to renewable energy advocates that are supposedly experts in something they have never done.

        See jacobson et al and the cheerleaders at skeptical science

      • Putting in a correction their Joe. I don’t work for a grid or grid company. I do O&M on generation plant. We just have to comply with grid requirements and grid events cause consequences for our kit.

      • @jim2

        That’s an excellent article – I wish I had seen it sooner. Might have made my bellyaching for an answer to my questions from poor old PE a little less strident. I am still a little unclear as to why these inverters should be so expensive or technically challenging to make.

        I suspect it is cost – you need quite a lot of them, because of the spread-out nature of the grid. Then we should be able to quantify that. How many? Say for a country the size of I dunno…France or UK?

        Then there is the need for that to be coupled with batteries. I am not concerned that the batteries should last for days. Just long enough that if weather conditions required firing up back up gas they can hold. So how long is that? One day? Two? And therefore how many batteries? At what cost?

        Some of the problems outlined in the article make plain that they need to be grid “forming” not just “following”. I don’t really understand the difference.

        @Chris Morris

        Never-the-less, like Joe thank you very much for your informed input. It’s valued.

      • Chris

        It doesn’t matter what area you work in, the comments you and others have made have been invaluable in shedding light on an arena that is opaque for many of us.

        The interdependencies involved in these increasingly large and complex systems of modern living have exposed how vulnerable we have become to failures. The Southwest Airlines delays were apparently a result of under investment in technology. The outage at FAA might have been because of decades old technology. Empty food shelves have occurred from a breakdown of supply chains. The slightest disruption reminds us of the fragility of all of these systems.

        The consequences of any of those systems could harmful, but mostly in the short run. The prolonged outages of our energy systems could be catastrophic, especially in the higher latitudes in winter.

    • Robin Pittwood

      @agnostic2015. This might help answer your question. Take a look at my posts at Kiwithinker where I try to describe the asynchronous vs synchronous difference. And the swing equation.

  13. A second separate question; SuperGrids.

    My understanding of the concept of “super grid” is something that we have in Europe atm. Countries continually import and export energy from one another, and the more interconnected the more reliable the grid – a failure in one area of the grid is supported by the rest, and the larger the grid the less the grid is impacted by a failure.

    This goes for renewable – esp wind. I understand all the arguments against wind and renewables in general, mostly to do with low density power generation and the scale required to meet modern energy demand.

    But one argument, the wind doesn’t always blow is true if your energy is sourced locally. With large grids, if the wind isn’t blowing in one location, it probably is in another, thus the grid can be balanced by importing from there. There are obvs transmission losses, but from the point of keeping a grid going, that’s the solution isn’t it? Or at least ONE solution.

    The UK regularly generates half its power via wind, as it is at the moment. It sometimes exports and sometimes imports. Atm it is net exporting.

    • I think the real problem is there is no need for wind and solar. Nat gas and nuclear are the way to go. In the meantime we continue to use coal, as you in Europe do currently.

      • I’m really not crazy about coal either. Coal emits far more radioactive elements into the environment than nuclear, not that that is in any way important, but its definitely not good for air quality. It’s pretty low density as well and ought to be consigned to the 19th century. It’s safety record is not great either. Natural gas is best if it is going to FFs. It ought really be all nuclear by this stage. IMO of course.

      • We are already seeing the impacts of over reliance on nat gas also. Many ISOs, including PJM very recently, asked customers to conserve even though load was only about 125,000MWs. Their winter readiness plan stated they expected a 136,000MW peak load, and had tens of thousands of more MWs available if needed.

        Based on looking at the issue in real time it appeared to me that they were having issues getting nat gas for generation. They had over 10000MWs of oil generation operating at the time. Normally, there would be no oil generation in PJM, and it is concerning they had to use oil during such a modest load period. Operators still seem surprised that during cold periods nat gas will be needed for heating also.

        Of course, issues like this can be fixed by well understood infrastructure improvements, but we don’t seem to be willing to make those improvements.

      • Based on info coming out now PJM had 10s of thousands of MWs fail to perform. It was mostly nat gas plants, most could not get fuel. PJM capacity market provides for a penalty when generators fail to perform during times of high demand. PJM preliminarily estimates 1 to 2 billion dollars in penalties will be assessed.

        Our haphazard energy transition is more than just wasted money on intermittent renewables. It is increasingly apparent that we are over relying on nat gas, especially in winter.

      • Geoff Sherrington

        agnostic2015 | January 10, 2023 at 9:40 am |
        “I’m really not crazy about coal either. Coal emits far more radioactive elements into the environment than nuclear.”

        What matters – and only what matters – is harm.
        There is trivial harm from the radionuclides escaping from nuclear and coal.
        End of story.
        Geoff S

    • Joe - the non climate scientist

      Agnostic – change the grid scale from one day to one week and from one day to 1 year. – Look at the electric generation by source.

      1) you will notice that wind supplies less than 5% of electric generation for 1-2 weeks at a time. See feb 2022 and summer of 2022 for example. Such long deficits either take huge storage or back up power.
      2) Note that drop in wind is typically continent wide. So the claim that the wind is always blowing somewhere is a bogus talking point. See germany’s electric generation by source for the summer of 2022. See the US generation by source, especially during the Texas Feb 2021 freeze – it wasnt just texas, it was the entire north american continent.

      So yes – when times are good, wind looks quite impressive, yet when the wind doesnt blow – guess what happens.

      • @Joe

        I don’t think “the wind is likely blowing somewhere” IS a bogus talking point. More often than not it is the case. But you are right, there are times when windlessness can be continent-wide. Therefore you need to have some back up generation for those periods. It’s not just wind – the new connection between Norway and UK means UK will have access to Norwegian Hydro, which is definitely there when the wind isn’t blowing. Not-withstanding Norway’s hydro capacity is roughly equal to their demand, they can share their pumped storage in return for wind. While there isn’t much potential for growth in this area, it never-the-less underlines the point that the larger the grid the greater robustness.


        Sure so – by “robust” you mean against instabilities introduced by types of power generation that increase those instabilities – essentially non-synchronous sources, is that right? So the technology to manage that type of power input isn’t ready yet, is costly and complex? I understand that argument, but it would be very helpful to have that difficulty characterised. Maybe it would help to take us through the process of the electron going from a wind turbine to our kettle…or at least on to the grid.

        So the bottleneck is after generation and the connector to the grid that has to be managed and controlled by some master controller? What solutions exist now and why are they problematic not as stable as synchronous sources?

    • Aplanningengineer

      If you can import power and export power and survive the loss of the link that’s a good thing. But it doesn’t solve grid problems or generally make your grid more robust. That’s all I was saying.

  14. These comments are a little different for me. I’m going to be empathetic to the legislator/policymakers in trying to sort out what is the right course of action. This is complicated stuff. Maybe more than climate science.

    I was budget director of a large natural resources and environmental protection agency. We had many dozens of missions, programs and functions. My knowledge of our operations was a mile wide and an inch deep. Compared to the energy issues here, what I dealt with was a piece of cake.

    Based on my experience in dealing with legislators on our budget, I’m trying to visualize how congressional and state legislative members are going to approach this problem. Sadly, I think they are going to have to feel their way, making some huge, costly blunders along the way.

    At the risk of forgetting a few, these are the backgrounds of legislators on our appropriations subcommittees: farming teaching and hotel management. There were also owners of a gas station, a dry cleaners and a mortuary. One was a legislative staff member right out of college before being elected.. One was a physics professor.

    Because of elections, retirements, and later, term limits, the committee turnover was high. Our outreach to inform and educate these members was constant. What we had to remind ourselves was that all the members had other committee assignments and they spent only a fraction of their time dealing with us. Our budget and issues and controversies weren’t the only thing they had to sort out.

    Even though I have gained a great deal of knowledge from PE and others commenting here about the needed future decisions, I’m not sure I would be up to sorting it all out and making the best decision possible. Some members of Congress had their political start in a state legislative body, just like the one I worked with. They probably aren’t any more prepared to sort out the complexities of these issues than those members I knew. If that turns out to be the case, we are in for a rocky road ahead.

    • The best course for legislators is to stay out of it. Let energy companies and consumers determine what energy sources to use.

    • Aplanningengineer

      My experience with politicians and legislators is that those who want to listen to you do, and those who don’t don’t.

      • And in my experience, people in positions like those of CKid fail to talk to productive people with experience, people who place a low economic value on legalised environment protection. That type of position is as little needed as the intermittent electricity sources that they promote. Since both the people and their plans are of fringe value, not responsive to reason, their main available tactic is to bully.
        I have dealt for decades with “environment” people. Watched people scarcely capable of analytical thought and expression evolve over years to be “professors” – a strange title for those with little to teach and little demonstrated capacity for contributing important research advances to the big demands of society. People paid to stop progress while contributing little of their own.
        This whole discussion of problems from increased wind and solar would never have happened if competent engineering recommendations had been followed by decision makers, meaning that national scale W&S would not have commenced.
        I give about 5 more years for the survival of green silliness, before reversion to the much superior engineering that gave us the bulk of our electricity 15 years ago. Geoff S

      • @sherro01 | January 13, 2023 at 2:51 am |

        I think you unknowingly mentioned the real problem. A shift of economic decisions from the free market to “decision” makers.

        This whole discussion of problems from increased wind and solar would never have happened if competent engineering recommendations had been followed by decision makers,

        The government should stay out of any decision what energy source to use for electricity generation.

  15. I wonder if you would comment on the relative reliability and exposure to fire of a thousand small power sources connected by small power lines vs. twenty large power sources connected by big power lines?

  16. Succeed by failing… oftentimes, a good strategy if you don’t fail to recognize reality. The reality is, AGW as always been a hoax and a scare tactic.

    • From the ozone hole and nuclear winter to runaway global warming and Covid-19 infection, it’s often difficult to distinguish between concerns grounded in science versus behaviors stemming from fetish, superstition, ignorance, misadventure, socio-political advantage, corruption and mental aberrations like, Hot World Syndrome.

  17. Pingback: Academics and the grid. Part II: Are they studying the right things? - Climate-

  18. Russell … In Part 1 made a comment about the difference between 10K RMS circuit breakers and 200K RMS fuses, and how the latter gave better protection against ground faults (the 10K RMS breaker literally blows up) and was adopted for protection of electrical services. Which, on the surface, has nothing to do with the topic at hand. Why I mentioned it was that we need to have demonstrations of what asynchronous power coupled to synchronous sources can do. I suggested getting some graduate students, a video camera and blow some things up.

    After reading the above comments of agnostic and others, there is a real need for demonstration. This blog has interesting information on climate. But it is next to impossible to have climate experiments. It’s a discuss and wait and see approach. Your field has seemingly succumbed to the modelism (my word) that plagues climate science. It doesn’t have to. Get back to applied physics/engineering examples where testing and investigation of failures has always moved the electrical industry forward.

    There’s plenty of examples of the affects of harmonics in electrical systems, not just in generation but distribution, as well. And not just high voltage distribution, but low voltage (120-600 Volts) distribution. This didn’t start with renewables, as rectifiers, inverters, arc furnaces, welding, etc have been around for some time. The difference today is the common usage of devices that employ electronics that result in harmonics. For example, electricians may have to run neural conductors at 200% of the size of the ungrounded (hot) conductors in a feeder due to harmonic affects associated with the equipment a distribution panel feeds.

    I’m sure there have been cases where there has been equipment failure. Posting them along with your argument will go a long way.

    Just a suggestion …

  19. Here in the US, much effort in time and money has been spent over many years to improve the reliability of the grid to 99% or better.

    Higher penetration of wind and solar threatens all the past work which has been accomplished so far to improve the grid’s overall reliability.

    It is plainly evident that if the Net Zero transition for electric power is to proceed on an accelerated schedule, then some good portion of today’s grid reliability must be sacrificed in order to get from here to there by 2035.

    How much damage will be done to public health and safety, and to America’s economy, if the grid’s reliability falls to 98%? To 97%? To 96%? To 95%?

    • I think you have got your numbers wrong. You have to distinguish between the Transmission grid and the Distribution networks. The underlying reliability of the Transmission system is usually measured in grid minutes – outages on parts of it compared to the overally load. The numbers there are typically equivalent to around 99.999%. That still is around 4 grid minutes. It is so high because of redundancy; they operate on N-1 to keep it reliable. As a comparison, the forced outage rate of the core generation system (thermals, nukes and hydros) is around 1%. That is when they are scheduled to generate but can’t. They also have longer pre-programmed outages, reducing their overall availability to about 70% thermal, 90+ for nukes. The load factor for nukes is the 90+%, generating full load when on, but thermals being dispatched on and off a lot lower
      The distribution networks are a different matter. There, there are very few parallel circuits. An interruption affects everyone downstream. The low voltage circuits are also a lot more prone to events like storm or traffic damage.
      But your general question is something society needs to consider. How long power outages are they prepared to accept and what are they prepared to pay to keep it at that number? Something the unreliables proponents don’t want to discuss or even contemplate. Isn’t there a saying to the effect that we are only a 12 hour power cut away from the collapse of civillisation?

  20. If the US focused more on energy security, we’d use less gas for baseload, increase capacity & storage, make distribution more flexible, and export excess capacity when not needed. #AntiFragileEnergy #HighlyFlexibleNaturalGas #IncineratePlasticPollution #WasteToEnergy #FissionFuture

    You can only imagine. Cooking thrice a meal in a house without a chimney is like smoking 4 packs of cigarettes. Dirty than the most polluted cities in the world! And yet, more than 70% of Africans use firewood as their cooking fuel.
Most don’t have chimneys.— Jusper Machogu
    The increasing cost of variability is borne by coal, nuclear, gas & transmission, driving up the overall cost & price relative to renewables. The system is also designed to ignore risk to help accommodate addition of renewables to the grid. The addition of renewables is preferred over maintenance of baseload & load following power generation, increasing risk & grid transmission/management cost. As renewables are added & controllable generation is taken offline, the increasing costs are borne by a smaller & smaller pool of controllable generation. The relative price increases drive more shutdowns of reliable generation. It’s a vicious positive feedback cycle.
    If we were properly focused on energy security, greenhouse gas emissions would be a moot point.
    Putting all our eggs in the natural gas basket is dangerous. Natural gas should be used for heat, cooking, & variability. Relying on it also for baseload is risky. It will not always be cheap.
    We need to make our natural gas system much more flexible. Natural gas distribution should be more adaptable with a large capacity range operated at the low end & easily rerouted. Natural gas should be used for load following & minimally for baseload.
    Our gas distribution system should be highly flexible and proven. Excess capacity should be constantly tested and exported when not needed.
    We could also reduce coal use & deal with plastic pollution by increasing our waste to energy efforts by building incinerators. These incinerators could follow load & also burn coal when needed.

    • Bill Fabrizio

      aaron … I agree with you on most of what you said, except that I don’t quite share the negative view of coal, in that I believe that there are ways to burn coal much cleaner than years ago. (Plus thermal coal is needed for industry.) The number 1 thing you mention, IMO, is using plastic waste (and other burnable waste) for power generation. It’s amazing how anyone who calls themselves an environmentalist ignores the crisis of waste in the environment. I applaud you for mentioning waste to energy as it is a solution that should be in wide use, but is very limited at present.

    • Bill Fabrizio

      aaron … thanks for mentioning waste to energy. It’s mind boggling that anyone who considers themselves an environmentalist wouldn’t have this at the top of their wish list. As to coal, with energy prices rising, it shouldn’t be difficult to add clean coal technologies and still have it affordable.

      I tried to comment earlier, but it seems to have been eaten.

  21. U.S. production of natural gas—Chesapeake’s focus—has hit record levels. The country’s crude oil production remains shy of the 2019 level but is otherwise at a peak. Exports of both gas and crude are hitting new highs, easily outpacing overseas sales of aircraft, pharmaceuticals, food and cars. Exxon Mobil Corp.’s shares rose 80% last year.

    • That is the fundamental reason why the US economy has three and a half percent unemployment and is generally very strong

  22. The Australian grid operator AEMO, put out a lot of interesting documents. They not only issue reports on failures and system requirements, but they look into what needs to be done to transition away from thermal stations. They have a lot more practical understanding of grids that any of the academics.
    Here is one that may be of interest to help people understand the grid issues.
    They have done others on Inertia, System Strength and application of grid forming inverters. They may answer many of the questions being posed.

    • Bill Fabrizio

      Thank you, Chris. Very interesting read.

    • Chris, AEMO is a bowdlerised bureaucratic committee with no discernable line of attack/recovery in tight situations.

      When the SA grid fell over in 2016 due to the then sneaky feathering of windmills in high winds, the AEMO produced an interim report listing on its’ grid failure timeline (from actual recorded evidence) that the interstate interconnector failed between feathering and pylons collapsing, so blacking the entire State. That is, feathering was first, not pylon collapse or interconnector failure, so the feathering actually overloaded the interconnector, causing *it* to fail.

      This recorded timeline did not suit the activists at all. From their propaganda viewpoint, high winds caused by AGW pushing some pylons over had to be the root cause. So then AEMO’s follow-up report just left that bit of the timeline out completely, allowing activists and the MSM to corrupt the public record. True rank cowardice.

      • ianl you must be reading a different AEMO report to me . I have the 2017 Integrated Final Report, all 273 pages, which lists the wind farm responses to all the voltage disturbances in Table 8. Most are shown as disconnected or stopped operation. Then Figures 10 & 11 shows their output with the time noted to the nearest second. And following that, there is a multi-paragraph discussion on the impact of wind intermittency and excessive wind speed, which they note was just 35MW out of the 456MW from windfarm sustained disconnection in a seven second period. There are also lots of graphs showing voltage active and reactive power at a lot of the windfarms. They specifically identified that the towers coming down did NOT cause the blackout.
        Then in the conclusions they clearly identify that the 456MW loss caused Heywood interconnector to overload and disconnect (P67). They also mention in points to consider stable and unstable swings, which Australia had not covered in their rules.
        The AEMO publishes very good technical reports on the System Operations and state of technology sides. If they don’t meet with your approval, who do you recommend has credible info on issues like grid forming inverters?

      • Chris

        I downloaded and kept both the AEMO reports immediately following the 2016 SA black, in expectation of exactly the childish politics that did occur. Your silly sarcasm about “different reports” is a good example. My timeline comment stands.

        There are no better resources to recommend. That’s my point. We in Aus are not expecting any better, or at least more honest in the face of grid failure. If you are unaware (and you may be), read the AEMO forecast from October last on the expected status of power supply for Perth (WA) and compare it to the exact situation that transpired less than 2 months later, and the desperation that has ensued and is still causing chaos without and end in sight. The AEMO is *NOT* to be trusted in the face of hard politics.

      • Ian. Please learn to distinguish between System Operations reports and general AEMO documents. They are chalk and cheese.
        Going back to your original comment ” That is, feathering was first, not pylon collapse or interconnector failure, so the feathering actually overloaded the interconnector, causing *it* to fail.” As the AEMO report detailed and you failed to recognise, the feathering caused the loss of 35MW. It was the loss of 456MW that tripped the overloaded Heywood lines.
        Go back and carefully read the March 2017 report as you say you have a copy. Then you can maybe enlighten us with what they got wrong.

  23. RetiredScientist

    May I draw your attention to an article in “American Thinker.”

  24. The discussion has revolved around science, engineering, and complexity. What is missing is the politics and marketing of the “new” grid. Last year I received a letter from our electric power company with a special offer to participate in what has been touted as the “lowest cost source of electricity”… wind and solar.

  25. Michael Cunningham aka Faustino aka Genghis Cunn

    This Australian manual on Power System Requirements might be of interest:

  26. Russell,
    Are you able/interested to comment on behavioral changes as regional power pooling + increasing intermittent generation has occurred?
    Both the ERCOT and SPP – regional, large grids just below a “Supergrid” level – have significant percentages of time where power prices are 0 or less. This has serious economic impacts across the entire system. To my understanding, the percentage of time and absolute level of 0 or negative power prices for these “super” grids (vs. prior smaller regional/utility grids) are significantly higher.
    If my understanding is correct – why would there be any expectation that a Supergrid at a national level would reverse this trend? Particularly with continuing increases of intermittent generation.

    • If the Texas PUC switches from a demand model to a capacity model a lot of new generation like nuclear will be stalled and older power plants will be paid to be on stand-by which will raise the cost to consumers. Of course that ignores the possibility that the fuel supply network might be the reason for a grid crisis. Diversity has value.
      “The credit would be earned by generators in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas footprint, based on their availability…

      • Jack,
        It is not clear to me that Texas is trying to switch “from a demand model to a capacity model”. The measure you reference is one of the raft of changes prompted by Winter Storm Uri and its grid failures; these are collectively part of the drive to improve weatherization of the Texas grid.
        The scale and impact of this measure isn’t clear, particularly vs. the $391 billion in new subsidies available due to the Inflation Reduction (sic) Act.
        As I have mentioned in other posts – even the electricity generation company CEOs, who gush over the opportunities created by the IRA, warn that the impact of all this new solar PV and wind generation could easily turn the spark spread negative at which point any dispatchable backup capabilities would not be economically viable/profitable without massive direct subsidies in the order of the PTC credits which solar PV and wind receive at the federal level.
        Which would, at that point, have brought the electricity generation market full circle on subsidies.

  27. As recently as a year ago, when I would mention nuclear power as a solution for electricity production, the idea would be poo-pooed as too politically dangerous or in some cases physically dangerous.

    But politicians are finding that high energy prices are politically dangerous. So there is a trend to accept nuclear power as a solution.

    STOCKHOLM, Jan 11 (Reuters) – Sweden is preparing legislation to allow the construction of more nuclear power stations to boost electricity production in the Nordic country and bolster energy security, Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said on Wednesday.

    Kristersson has made expanding nuclear power generation a key goal for his right-wing government, seeking to reverse a process of gradual closures of several reactors in the past couple of decades that has left the country relying more heavily on renewable but sometimes less predictable energy.

    • We shouldn’t consider a losing technology like wind or solar to be an area where we compete. I see that from time to time that China is “beating” us in the race for renewables, like solar panels. That’s like bemoaning the fact that someone is beating us in a race to jump in the sewage pond.

      But here is a race worth winning. Currently, China is the hands-down winner.

      Nuclear power capacity worldwide is increasing steadily, with about 60 reactors under construction.
      Most reactors on order or planned are in the Asian region, though there are major plans for new units in Russia.
      Significant further capacity is being created by plant upgrading.
      Plant lifetime extension programmes are maintaining capacity, particularly in the USA.

      Today there are about 440 nuclear power reactors operating in 32 countries plus Taiwan, with a combined capacity of about 390 GWe. In 2021 these provided 2653 TWh, about 10% of the world’s electricity.

      About 60 power reactors are currently being constructed in 15 countries, notably China, India and Russia. Units where construction is currently suspended, i.e. Ohma 1 and Shimane 3 (Japan), and Khmelnitski 3&4 (Ukraine), are not shown in the Table below.

    • How do you see this build-out taking place?

      Government underwriting and government financing through state run energy in a highly centralized state run energy company supported by high taxes? Particularly given the recent cost overruns and missed schedule targets with new reactors in Finland, France, and the UK, that require quite a lot of commitment on the part of the public in support of our federal government. Kind of hard to do when half the public wants to drown the federal government in a bathtub.

      Obviously, a lot of reactors will have to be built. Where do you suggest siting them? How do you propose handling resistance from polities that don’t want nuclear reactors in their back yards?

      • Given the long time horizon for return on investment in nuclear, and the large liabilities involved, and that a large % of the public aren’t sure nuclear is safe, and a large % of the public want to drown the federal government, calls for massive nuclear build-out often (of not always) seem pretty impractical to me – more likely identity-based posturing (useful to attack “alarmists”) than anything else.

      • Building nuclear power plants makes great sense fòr the US. The US has gotten in its own way regarding the construction of nuclear power plants as an example in China it only takes two years from start to finish to build a nuclear power plant here it takes 15.

      • Good point.

        All we need is a centralized, command economy like they have n China.

        Oh. Wait.

      • Joshua you are mistaken yet again. All that is necessary is to eliminate the waste in time from the overlapping bureaucratic processes

      • Rob –

        Like Jim, you just avoid the hard questions and arm-wave at some theoretical Pollyanna fantasy.

        There’s a reason why those countries with more nuclear have relied on heavily centralized energy policies with large measures of federal support.

        Perhaps the Finnish model would be a good one:

        Mankalas are limited liability companies run like zero-profit cooperatives that bring together consortia of Finnish corporations and municipal energy providers to purchase, finance, and share the output of jointly owned energy-generation facilities. They have long been associated with “uniquely Finnish” modes of trust, cooperation, societal cohesion, and transparency.

        I’m sure the “Freedom Caucus” will jump right on that. Not like they’re going to waste time and resources on political theater.

      • UK-Weather Lass

        “How do you propose handling resistance from polities that don’t want nuclear reactors in their back yards?”

        Resistance didn’t stop many wind and solar sites in the UK from going ahead. Funny how the ‘woke classes’ only seem to resist the sensible solutions. Is that because they have a mad agenda or is it just that they (and their political chums) don’t know any better?

      • The buildout could happen just as it did in the 1950’s and 1960’s. The private sector did a great job. Ignoring history and insisting that a powerful government is needed to get nuclear power buildouts is wrong and biased.

      • Lass –

        > Resistance didn’t stop many wind and solar sites in the UK from going ahead.

        I’m curious how you think local opposition will be overcome in the US. Certainly there are examples in the US in the past, such as land seizures to build railroads and highways. So are you suggesting that the federal government should seize property in the US to build nuclear plants over the objections of polities?

      • As it happens, I live a stone’s throw from the Shires of the Ashokan Reservoir, which was built to supply water to NYC via an extensive seizure property though eminent domain. Nearly a dozen towns were flooded and nearly 100 miles of aqueduct built, including under the Hudson River.

        For all the questionable ethics of seizing property and evicting people at that scale, I question whether such a massive infrastructure project would be possible today. For all the pearl-clutching about our “tyrannical” government of today, it’s hard for me to imagine today, government at the state level successfully exercising the level of authoritarian power and control to complete such a project. On the one hand, I think at one level that’s a good thing. On the other hand, so many millions of people over decades have benefitted from the reservoir system that provides such good quality water without the need of a massive treatment system.

      • … shores of…, of course.

      • The issue is not the “need” for a authoritarian government but for the leaders of our own government to support a large project to build standardized designs of nuclear plants quickly. There is simply not the political support for this from either party. Neither party is standing up saying this is how the waste would be handled and here are the long term benefits.

      • The only countries where there have been significant more nuclear build out did so with very centralized energy policies and significant levels of federal support.

        How do you see that happening in this country with half the public desirous of drowning the. government in a bathtub?

      • Political support imo requires the support of a leader who supports the policy in question who can defend said policy with sound logic

      • So you think quality of leadership explains the different levels of integration of nuclear energy by country?

        Why do uyou think we have poorer leadership than France, Finland etc?

      • Joshua
        I don’t agree with your premise. that authoritarian governments necessarily build more nuclear power.

      • Ron –

        Which of the dozen or so countries with a higher percentage of nuclear power than the US (in France by some 400%) achieved that status without highly centralized energy policies and extensive federal support?

        How do you see the US doing a significant built out of nuclear power without the same kind of centralized policies and federal support? If you don’t think we can, how do you see highly centralized energy policies and extensive federal support being feasible in the US given that half the American public wants to drain the government in a bathtub?

      • Sorry – that’s Rob.

      • Josh, Your premise is wrong. The US had a buildout of nuclear in the 1960’s and 1970’s without centralized control. Why do you keep repeating a premise for which you offer no support other than your own assertion of authority?

      • Biden could have advocated for and funded a nuclear program to build 100 reactors across the nation in 2020 and it could have passed Congress. It could have been in place of his infrastructure and stimulus bills.

        It would require adoption of a standardized design and the overhaul of the regulatory processes to speed the construction process to be more in line with what other nations are achieving. This would vastly reduce costs and stimulate the economy.

        The issue is that Biden doesn’t support such a buildout politically. That would require leadership on his part which has never been in evidence. .

      • Rob –

        > The issue is that Biden doesn’t support such a buildout politically.

        Certainly, Biden providing leadership on this would only increases the chances that it might happen. I think it would be good if he did so.

        But I think even with his leadership the chances of it happening would be small.

        First, there’s the reflexive opposition he’d get from virtually all Republicans in Congress and virtually all Republicans who still identify with three Republican party on virtually any policy (no different than a Trump or DeSantis would face on the other side).

        Then there’s the opposition or just lack of support he’d face in both sides of the aisle on pro-nuclear policies.

        And them there’s the widespread opposition perhaps any politician would face regarding highly centralized policies that rely on large-scale support from the federal government (although such opposition is usually mediated by ideological orientation and not the policies in themselves)

      • Joshua writes-“But I think even with his leadership the chances of it happening would be small.”

        It would be small/near zero today but could have happened in 2020 when Biden had political capital. They passed stimulus and infrastructure with zero Republican support. Imo they would have gotten some Republicans for such an alternative back then.
        Such a proposal needs to be initiated by a democrat administration as a green innovation.

      • Rob –

        > They passed stimulus and infrastructure with zero Republican support.

        Where the support among Dems was likely stonger than it would have been for nuclear. It would be nice to have leaders who were out in front on issues like this, but harass rare in current political environment, if it was ever not rare.

        But whether it would have been nice doesn’t have much bearing on the likelihood of success.

        >Imo they would have gotten some Republicans for such an alternative back then

        It’s hard for me to imagine any Republicans backing a large m-scale initiative lead by Biden, particularly one that tried to leverage “big government.”

        > Such a proposal needs to be initiated by a democrat administration as a green innovation.

        To the extent it might have worked (or work going forward), I don’t think it would be as a “green initiative” but as infrastructure and jobs and new technology and better programs. “Green” is a death knell. Almost as bad as “liberal” although not quite as bad as “woke.”

    • The U.S. nuclear industry is generating less electricity as reactors retire, but now plant operators are hoping to nearly double their output over the next three decades, according to the industry’s trade association.

      The massive scaling-up envisioned by the utilities hangs on the functionality of a new type of nuclear reactor that’s far smaller than traditional reactors. About two dozen U.S. companies are developing advanced reactors, with some that could come online by the end of the decade if the technology succeeds and federal regulators approve.

      Utilities that are members of the Nuclear Energy Institute project they could add 90 gigawatts of nuclear power, combined, to the U.S. grid, with the bulk of that coming online by 2050, according to the association. That translates to about 300 new small modular reactors, estimated Maria Korsnick, president and chief executive officer of the institute.

  28. Argonne National Labs releases GEM, a powerful tool to deploy renewable energy and support smart grid design.

    Argonne National Laboratory has released an online geospatial mapping tool to support siting decisions and identify areas that are suitable for solar, wind and other clean energy infrastructure projects.

    The tool comes loaded with over 190 data layers, and nearly 100 modeling criteria. Users can select for population density, proximity to nearest substation, slope, wildfire risk, and low-income household percentage. As a new feature, the map can quickly orient itself to a focus technology like solar, wind, or EV charging infrastructure. This allows for quick loading of multiple data layers directly relevant to the technology under development.

    Argonne will host a virtual tutorial of GEM on Tuesday, Jan. 17 at 2 pm CT.

  29. On some threads here at Climate Etc, the comments produce a Potemkin village populated by straw men.

  30. 800,000 cattle drown in California!!!

    In 1861, farmers and ranchers were praying for rain after two exceptionally dry decades. In December their prayers were answered with a vengeance, as a series of monstrous Pacific storms slammed—one after another—into the West coast of North America, from Mexico to Canada. The storms produced the most violent flooding residents had ever seen, before or since.

    Sixty-six inches of rain fell in Los Angeles that year, more than four times the normal annual amount, causing rivers to surge over their banks, spreading muddy water for miles across the arid landscape. Large brown lakes formed on the normally dry plains between Los Angeles and the Pacific Ocean, even covering vast areas of the Mojave Desert. In and around Anaheim, , flooding of the Santa Ana River created an inland sea four feet deep, stretching up to four miles from the river and lasting four weeks.

  31. Pingback: Academics and the grid. Part II: Are they studying the right things? - Watts Up With That?

  32. Pingback: Academics and the grid. Part II: Are they studying the right things? - Lead Right News

  33. Pingback: Academics and the grid. Part II: Are they studying the right things? - USA weather forecast

  34. Pingback: Lecturers and the grid. Half II: Are they learning the appropriate issues? - news page

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  36. South Australia gave a very good example of the disconnect (pun intended) between academics and the real world. The State has a very pronounced summer duck curve, mainly from rooftop solar. Percentage wise, it is worse than California.
    What happens is they keep the gas turbines on minimum load for inertia requirements (a rule AEMO brought in after the blackout in 2016) It was brought to a head on 16th October. They dispatched off wind and grid solar to keep the GTs on and they minimised exports on the interconnectors. Then as the sun went down, they ramped the GTs up rather than bring any wind on.
    Their big batteries did very little work. I don’t believe they have grid forming inverters so they would not be able to replace GTs.
    A short while after this, the state was islanded for a week when their major interconnection went down. They kept the GTs on as priority again and dispatched wind and grid solar off – just using them as infill. The uncontrollable roof top solar caused major problems. The grid operators wanted them off but couldn’t disconnect them.
    They network company let the lines voltage rise to +10%, hoping to trip a lot of the household inverters off. Pity if you had any appliances running then as it would have shortened their lives.
    Is it any wonder that South Australia has the most expensive and least reliable power?

  37. We do not need a 100% renewables. The CO2 is not a climate change control knob.

    • The use of renewables prolongs the fossil fuels deposits for the future generations.

      The fossil fuels (natural gas, oil and coal) will be in demand for many millennia to follow, if not for ever, for humans’ needs on planet Earth.
      And not only for burning them to generate energy.

      The use of fossils just by simply burning them is a very brutal use of Earth’s natural resources. It is adequate to forest fires.

      I see the humanity in millions, if not billions years perspective existence on Earth.

  38. Geoff Sherrington

    It is stated clearly in AEMO reports that their work follows government policy such as Paris agreement and net zero C by 2050.
    This is why we have major problems. In a rational world, a body like AEMO would have a clean slate charter, not a restricted one.
    In that rational world, AEMO would have a responsibility to advise governments and people of problems they observe in providing the cheapest and most reliable electricity.
    Renewables are not the cheapest nor most reliable option. To my knowledge, AEMO has never published a comprehensive cost comparison of renewables versus fossil in a national scale, actual setting. But AEMO maintains that their charter does not allow them to report this. They say they can report only pathways to low carbon like net zero and study of fossil fuelled is not allowed for them.
    I have no idea who told AEMO to be quiet about these options. Surely people should be able to consult a formal body that covers all of the options, a body charged with responsibility to advise us that we are now on a dangerous path. Presently,. there is no body in Australia required to warn of dangers in the plans for the future.
    Who benefits from preventing AEMO from study of dangerous choice?

    Geoff S

    • Geoff AEMO doesn’t own or manage the grid. There are grid companies in each state that do that. The AEMO is federal so has to follow the government edicts. Other than the Tony Abbott government, the rest have all been for rapid decarbonisation. The same with the State governments. They all have been seduced by the renewables are cheap mantra. However, the AEMO has put warnings in their documentation. Like this in the Statement of Opportunities :
      “Significant challenges have emerged in operating the energy markets in eastern Australia in 2022. Since May 2022, extensive forecast and actual NEM lack of reserve (LOR) events, and the need for a range of market interventions to maintain reliability and system security have occurred due to a range of coincident events. These circumstances have highlighted the need for the NEM to be resilient to external events like extreme weather,
      limitations on fuel availability, and impacts from high global commodity prices”
      The attitudes and reports from the bureaucracy won’t change until the politicians change. That won’t happen until the lights go out. Even then as SA blackout showed, they wouldn’t accept responsibility.
      I follow their System Operations reports as they give very good detailed factual reporting of events without spin.

  39. Bill Fabrizio

    How about we lower the voltage a bit?

  40. The link Judith posted on the South Australian grid is interesting for what it doesn’t say.
    First, they will still be relying heavily on the AC interconnector in the SE. Heywards is rated for about 40% of their normal load. Then they are still doing modelling to see if no synchronous generators will work – not much confidence in all those academic papers then. Most of the inertia provided by synchronous condensers with grid forming batteries topping up. They have problems with sub synchronous operations at Redcliffs where the DC interconnector comes into SA. Provisionally, the cause is seen as all the asynchronous generation. There are plans for a heavy capacity AC line coming to SA costing megabucks about there to try to strengthen the grid. But the big elephant in the room on which they are silent is how much it will cost the consumer.
    My bet is there will be big operational problems just after dusk on second or third calm day in a row in May. Then watch the politicians run for cover.

    • “ My bet is there will be big operational problems just after dusk on second or third calm day in a row in May. Then watch the politicians run for cover.”

      My gut feeling is that they will buy into it until they are forced into not buying into it. Nothing like some ice cold water reality to shake the brains around a little.

  41. Pingback: ≫ Académicos y la grilla. Parte II: ¿Están estudiando las cosas correctas?

  42. Giant Wind Arrays Invade the Ocean As BOEM Spins the Story

    A fun version of my giant wind article, by Tom Shepstone.

  43. Pingback: The Tangled Climate Web – Newsfeed Hasslefree Allsort

  44. According to a study two years ago the majority of warming effect from aviation is non-CO2 related, namely contrails.

    CO2-warming-equivalent emissions based on global warming potentials (GWP* method) indicate that aviation emissions are currently warming the climate at approximately three times the rate of that associated with aviation CO2 emissions alone.

    Lasting contrails are only produced in 10% of atmospheric conditions, which could be avoided by routing software being rolled out.

    Only a few routes would have to be adjusted to eliminate nearly all contrails. Satavia hopes to scale up its operations and is slated to begin another test with KLM. Other groups have realized the potential impact of eliminating contrails. Delta and MIT are collaborating on an open-source routing algorithm to mitigate contrail formation.

    • Contrails appear to have competing effects on local climate: cooling effect during the day by reflecting sunlight away from the earth and a warming effect at night by trapping heat radiating off the surface. Since a contrail dissipate in a matter of hours, the effect is temporary and must be replaced by a new contrail to have a longer effect.

      The question is whether or not the effect is beneficial or not. Are cooler days and warmer nights a problem or not?

      • Dan, yes, contrails are essentially anthropogenic cirrus-stratus (high thin clouds), which are net warmers. Lower clouds are net coolers. I suppose season and latitude have an effect. Both the greenhouse effect and all clouds reduce diurnal temperature range, (cooler days and or warmer nights), which is generally good for habitability.

        Reduced diurnal temperature range from GHE should favor radiative warming, not only from the effect but also from reducing peak atmospheric temperatures when radiation flux is proportional to T^4. So that 1C reduction equates to a larger energy retention that 1C increase at night is able to make up. Diurnal temp range has decreased in the USA from 1911-2012 by ~0.5C. The charts do not seem to follow CO2 curve. It’s likely land use.

  45. Sorry for the jumbled sentence. I’m typing while my wife is driving. ;-)

  46. Gregg Goodnight

    This is brilliant! I attended the hearings in the Texas House State Affairs Committee that reviewed the ERCOT grid operation during Uri and subsequently that authored the SB3 “fix the grid” bill. During these hearings, representatives of the wind and and solar industries made it abundantly clear that they didn’t own grid instability issues, that was ERCOT’s job. Their job was to feed power into the grid, and they had no responsibility for any problems associated with power balance, frequency control, voltage control, no inadequate back-up power, etc. Green energy operates on the economic principle “socialize the costs, privatize the benefits”. No amount of governmental support is unjustified. The problem is that you can slip a modest amount of intermittent, weather-dependent, variable power into the grid, but at some point, this strategy is untenable. ERCOT’s 12GW of coal power saved ERCOT during Uri, but US coal is targeted for complete shutdown by the Biden Administration by 2030. A black start situation would have occurred during Uri and possibly during Elliott. This is a train wreck in progress.

  47. Pingback: Power engineer explains why “renewables” won’t work - Climate-

  48. I have an article on these articles, in the context of FERC’s proposed rule making to constrain renewables.

    No one here seems to have noticed FERC’s action. Too real world?

  49. Pingback: Inginerii și universitarii. O scurtă lecție de aritmetică despre transporturile electrice - 📰 newsflash

  50. Pingback: Net Zero or Good Enough? - Climate-

  51. Pingback: Australian renewables integration. Part 2 | Climate Etc.

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