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Clean Power High-Renewable Energy Systems NREL)

Published on August 8th, 2014 | by Sandy Dechert

150

RMI Blows The Lid Off The “Baseload Power” Myth (Video)

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August 8th, 2014 by  

A correct scenario of efficiently balanced renewable energy use (RMI)

Peter Sinclair expressed a great thought in Climate Crocks recently that bears repeating: “Speaking to thousands and thousands of people has convinced me that, if you only talk about the problem, and not the path forward, it’s almost as if people literally, physiologically–can’t hear you.”

There’s a good deal of common sense in what Sinclair says. One of his latest climate crock stories takes on the myth that primary fossil fuel or nuclear generation with renewables and energy storage backup on the side is the only way to choreograph multisource energy use.  To illustrate this point, Sinclair presents a clear, cogent video on the subject from Amory Lovins and the Rocky Mountain Institute. We liked it so much that we’re repeating it for you.

Lovins very effectively debunks the myth that a reliable electricity supply from renewable resources will need either giant “baseload” power stations or yet untested cheap mass electrical storage. He reviewed this at the international nonprofit Technology, Entertainment, Design (TED) 2014 global conference in Vancouver, Canada. (The original talk is scheduled for a TEDTalks release. In the meantime, RMI issued its own interim recording. It’s brilliant.)

Downtimes for fossil and nuclear power plants (RMI)First of all, the RMI presentation reminds us that even the big boys of fossil and nuclear energy have more than 10% downtime.

In plain language and with statistical proof from an hourly dispatch simulator (see graph above), Lovins makes the point that baseload energy does not have to start with fossil or nuclear fuels. In fact, that method appears to be one of the costliest ways to ensure the grid flexibility necessary to counter variable supply and demand. A “renewables first” strategy can both even the power load and keep spilled power to only about 5%. Centralized high-renewable generation now looks something like this map from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory:

High-Renewable Energy Systems NREL)

Give the Lovins model a look. If you already get the point, the presentation of stats in these graphics is really first-rate and may help you educate others less knowledgeable than yourself—or more cynical.

And continue to bear in mind these numbers from the 13th PricewaterhouseCoopers Annual Global Power & Utilities Survey:

  • 94% of senior executives from power and utility companies in countries across Europe (including Russia), the Americas, Asia, Pacific, Middle East, and Africa predict complete transformation or important changes to the power utility business model.
  • 67% expect technology and new supply sources to dramatically reduce dependence on oil and gas-rich countries.
  • 82% see distributed power generation as an “opportunity” versus only 18% rating it as a “threat.”

 

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About the Author

covers environmental, health, renewable and conventional energy, and climate change news. She's worked for groundbreaking environmental consultants and a Fortune 100 health care firm, writes two top-level blogs on Examiner.com, ranked #2 on ONPP's 2011 Top 50 blogs on Women's Health, and attributes her modest success to an "indelible habit of poking around to satisfy my own curiosity."



  • ron davison

    But this is in 2050
    We have ~85% fossil and nuclear now and that will not go away until PV and wind replace it. This is effectively a slop downward to the 2050 scenario described here. will be reduced over time for the next 35 years to about 5 %-10% as this shows.
    My question is what can we do now to remove in the next 5 to 10 years not the fossil and nuclear, but the wastage of JIT or JITW (Just in time wastage) including reserve margins at these sources.
    I know of only one solution that can eliminate 30% of the wastage in todays energy system, that is available to deploy,
    that is storage.
    This provides up to 30% CO2 reductions within a decade, if we started implementing today.

    Thats 50 to 100 PPM reduction in CO2 compared to waiting for future utopias.
    This alone could be the difference in a methane hydrate positive feedback warming catastrophe from not happening before we can actually be reducing CO2 in our future utopia.
    Most of us will be gone by then and will not live to see this great dream come true.

    It is like getting a free decade of damage removed!

    If we can lop off 15% to 30% of the wastage by having thermal storage at fossil fuel and nuclear, then we would be saving the reserve margin overhead via dispatch-able storage that becomes our reserve margin. It just would not be created 24/7 only when it is used would it need to be replenished.
    And it has other benefits as well. higher kWh/btu via keeping burners at the highest possible efficiencies and using storage to fill gaps in the discrete steps of burner sizes at each location. With enough reserve margin storage on tap to cancel todays overproduction needed this can cover most step response scenarios.

    • Bob_Wallace

      We’ve got a lot of electricity wastage coming from inefficient motors and appliances. We’re still using inefficient light bulbs.

      There’s some transmission and distribution waste we can reduce.

      I really doubt that heat storage at thermal plants would do much of anything. Rather than trying to turn thermal plants into dispatchable sources just turn them off. Spend the money on clean generation and effective efficiency.

      • ron davison

        Bob

        I alway like your posts, but please don’t kill me with faint praise.

        I am not 100% correct by definition.

        You can’t shut off 85% of our power!

        And expect anything good to happen.

        Please re-read my post.

        cut&paste my quotes and statements and your critique or questions so we can have a value added discussion.

        “I really doubt that heat storage at thermal plants would do much of anything.”

        please re-read or read if you glossed over my post and ask some questions rather than cast doubt without any reasons given.
        I have always found you to be very thoughtful in the past with your posts.
        I am requesting the same here.

        • Bob_Wallace

          I’m not, I don’t think anyone is, suggesting cutting off all thermal generation overnight. That simply isn’t practical. And wouldn’t be tolerated by the vast majority of the population.

          I suspect the ~ 30% we get from natural gas will be with us for some time. Maybe 20 years or more. Some of our nuclear will likely stay on line for another 15 years or so. Perhaps 15%. So, I wouldn’t be surprised if about 45% of our electricity came from thermal (not counting geothermal and biomass) through 2035.

          It’s the ~40% coal we need to go after first, IMO. Don’t spend our limited money on making coal plants more efficient. Spend the money on replacing them.

          I think we would be very foolish to not replace at least 2% of our total generation with renewables each year for the next ten years and ramp it up higher for the next ten. In 20 years we would have replaced all coal and covered any nuclear that drops out along the way.

          Natural gas would be in a “fill-in” role for the most part.

          And I’m willing to bet that by 2035 wind, solar and storage will be much cheaper than today so we can increase our installation rates without increasing our spending.

          • ron davison

            we can’t afford betting our future on hopes and dreams that fossils and nuclear will just roll over.
            Please comment on what I have proposed with questions or critiques or you join the oil industry by default with delays and lost opportunities..

          • Bob_Wallace

            You propose to take waste heat from thermal plants, store it away, and then turn it into electricity later. Do I understand that correctly?

            That waste heat will have gone through a steam turbine and will have cooled down somewhat. How do you propose to capture and store it? What technology would you then use to make electricity?

            I’m unfamiliar with any technology that does what you suggest. Is there any up and running?

          • ron davison

            Thanks Bob…for the question…for a moment thought I was just barking in the wind…
            No, no storing low quality steam will not work as you correctly have figured out.
            I simply realized that TES at CSP plants don’t care what heat source they receive.
            and it can be used in any thermal generation plant.

            Molten salt or some other form with a high heat quality.
            We do not need every plant converted, just the ones that are not slated to close and make sense to convert/add TES.

            Nuclear plants that will be around are probably the best option relative to fossil plants.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Well, OK, but you’ve got ‘low quality steam’. I suppose it could be sent through a binary cycle system in order to spin some more electricity out of it. But one has to wonder why that isn’t already being done. And one would guess that it isn’t cost effective.

            And that’s without storing the heat. Getting an efficient heat transfer from low quality steam to molten salt/something. I can’t imagine how to pull that off. Seems like you’d need to somehow compress the steam and that would rob power from the ‘mother’ plant.

            Thermocouples would be one way to extract more energy from the waste stream, but the ones we have are too inefficient/expensive.

            Maybe it’s better to just speed up our installation of wind and solar. It’s so much simpler.

  • Job001

    Interesting comments and arguments. Energy is marketed and markets have the cool result that first costs, distribution costs, external costs, grid costs, risks, and value are working into increasingly better match to reality, when not monopoly manipulated.

    Give customers a variable time/cost choice and they will gradually/quickly shift use cheaper sources like wind and solar. In some nations where money is very dear they only use when the sun doth shine and the grid shuts down night(think example; local hut grid with a panel).

    Wind and solar energy are progressively cheaper by 4%/yr and 7%/yr respectively. This will make solar 50% cheaper per decade, no argument, debate or nonsense required. So, make it a market and the consumers will use it, cheaper energy preferentially first with little or no base load nonsense required.

    To use this variable energy human ingenuity shall respond with amazingly clever solutions, even local batteries(EV’s?) sometimes or AC when the sun shines, or do without when more expensive, or whatever, penny pinching super shopper market guaranteed, IMO.

    • globi

      Since PV has gotten cheap, Spain and Germany have introduced a solar tax.
      Unfortunately, that’s how markets are also made.

      • Job001

        Fortunately that is smart, taxing energy hurts greedy cartels, helps reduce pollution, and is better than taxing work which hurts GDP (because cash flow is now constrained through employees/customers(low job income=>low spending)).

        • globi

          I think it is smart to tax fossil fuels in order to reduce dependency on fuel imports and corrupt regimes (and if you will be able to reduce payroll taxes at the same time and boost the local economy).
          I don’t think it is smart to tax renewable power – at least not at this point. Besides, thanks to the sales tax, PV-modules are already taxed anyway.

    • APEppink

      That’s all pretty much true (above). Let the mkt work it’s magic. All these comments in blogs like this are really just wheelspinning and speculation, hardly worth the time. Economics (and politics, unfortunately – most politics has historically been demagoguery and manipulation of the moron masses, far too many of whom are still around and even vote. That’s where the social damage comes in. Too many easily led morons).

      • Job001

        Good point, I am speculating that base load is not necessarily required when a broad source of suppliers operates in a market model independent grid rather than a monopoly major provider provides the bulk of power to their own grid.
        Obviously, some local conditions might not provide stable results. However, some conditions will provide stability. Consequently, I favor a broad base market with independent grid rather than trusting utility monopolies to tell the truth. Lately utilities have been stingy with the truth, especially as the future shows competition they are unexperienced at.

  • Jack

    Sandy Dechert and Amory Lovins conveniently forget to add the cost of DISTRIBUTION into the equation. What makes renewables expensive is that the cost per megawatt quoted generally does NOT include the added cost of the distribution network (the grid). Yes, we can generate enough electricity by renewables if we build enough renewables. Absolutely. But getting that electron from Kansas wind to Chicago street lights is fundamentally limited by the grid. Grid improvements are quite expensive, and coal power INCLUDES estimates for grid repair and upgrade. Wind and solar do not. This article is trying to “beowolf” the electric grid. Add the estimated cost of the grid improvements needed to essentially store the street light (no, this won’t be YOUR street light) power in your car (yes, your Chevy Volt located in YOUR garage) battery, and yeah… I’ll listen to you. But until then, this article is complete bulls*^t. Not practical, nor will it ever be.

    • Bob_Wallace

      What distribution costs are you talking about? The distribution system is already in place and whatever distribution costs will be added on to whatever generation technology produces the power.

      Are you perhaps talking about transmission costs? Yes, in some cases wind is requiring new transmission lines. But that is not a major cost when spread over GWh of electricity over decades.

      Solar is largely being installed close to point of use and requires no new transmission. Even new solar farms are generally built close to existing transmission thus needing only a short run to tie them to the line.

      Your claim that the LCOE for coal includes transmission while the LCOE for wind and solar don’t is bull.

      From this point on “This article is trying to “beowolf…” your powers of communication/reasoning seem to have taken a vacation.

      And cut out the all caps shouting.

      http://cleantechnica.com/cleantechnica-comment-policy/

      • APEppink

        Re: grid, renewables

        There’s huge controversy going on re net renewables generators essentially using the entire grid as their spinning reserve (power backflush at nite, lo wind etc.), while paying nothing toward xmsn and dist grid opn and maint.
        Prior commenter is right. Article is bs directed toward lo info lib suckers.
        …tho there’s emphatically a place for non taxpayer subsidized renewables, none of which currently exist.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Here’s the difference between solar/wind and coal/nuclear when it comes to spinning reserve.

          Since coal and nuclear plants can, and do, go offline suddenly, without notice, it is necessary to keep an ample amount of reserve “spinning” so the grid doesn’t crash when a large thermal plants goes down.

          Since we have the ability to look ahead at how much solar or wind will be harvestable over the coming hours there is no need to keep reserves spinning for long periods of time as backup. A nice sunny, cloudless day and there’s going to be uninterrupted input from the solar panels on the grid for several hours. As the Sun starts to wane then other generation can be gradually brought on line. Same with wind.

          “there’s emphatically a place for non taxpayer subsidized renewables, none of which currently exist”

          Perhaps you haven’t been keeping up. Subsidies for wind expired on 12/31/2013. New wind installations are not subsidized, yet we’re building a boat load of new wind farms.

          • APEppink

            Bob, you’re wrong again. Ignorant. If an xmsn line from a farm trips spinning reserve will be necessary to restore freq to the setpoint. There are any number of circumstances which can give rise it instantaneous loss of renewables of which the preceding example is only one. Also, windmills can and do trip on a number of alarms and subsequent trip points e.g. Gearbox hi lube oil temp, rotor over speed, current differential relay, ground fault etc. , etc. the list goes on and on. In these cases the blades feather into the wind and the brake sets. In the case of an individual mill the grid loss is small, <= 6MW at the outside but spinning reserve is still necessary to regulate freq for whatever disturbances and upsets occur, in addition to normal load following.
            You're blowing smoke.

          • APEppink

            As to non sub renewables, yes, I heard they’re on the way out, spineless demagogue pols and ‘judges’ finally waking up. Still, point out to me an unsubsidized ongoing project.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Look up any wind farm starts post 12/31/2013.

          • Bob_Wallace

            If you’re talking about a grid with only a small number of wind farms, then, perhaps. As we strengthen our grids they will cover vast areas and many wind farms.

            You’re insulting our intelligence and showing yourself to be an ass.

          • APEppink

            I give up Pardner. You’re invincibly ignorant (look it up).

          • APEppink

            By the way, who’s ‘our’?

          • eveee

            You are comparing a transmission line failure from a wind farm to a failure inside a large thermal power plant. Apples and oranges. Also, we have large wind farms, but most of them are not that big. The grid is shared. A transmission failure affects them all. Hardly a description of a problem related only to renewables. You are describing a grid problem, not a renewables problem. And you have neglected to mention how probable such events are. Go ahead. Show some references. There is no dodging it. Many in parallel have more reliability than a few large sources.

          • APEppink

            No. That’s not true. I’m pretty sure most sizable wind farms are grid connected typically w relatively lo voltage (say 69kv) radial sub transmission lines as they’re typically way out in the stix (think Tehachapi in CA or the Texas farms. There’s typically no xmsn line redundancy. New xmsn const’s not cheap. Indeed in areas w huge wind potential e.g. ND and nearly anywhere offshore the huge xmsn line costs are holding up proj, even w massive taxpayer sub’s.
            It’s true, as you say, that line tripping is infrequent but when it occurs the generation loss incurred must be ‘instantaneously’ covered by spinning reserve.

          • eveee

            Transmission line redundancy? That is not what I said or meant. Typical wind farms are 200MW, some smaller. They are all connected to a larger grid over a wider area. That means they are connected in parallel. More units, more farms, more parallel, more reliable. Single large units are at a reliability disadvantage mathematically. I don’t think costs held up the increases in Texas transmission.

            “The PUC approved a transmission plan proposed by ERCOT in 2008 to create more than 2,300 miles of transmission lines linking the five CREZ regions — Central, Central West, McCamey and the Panhandle — to more densely populated cities in Central and East Texas.”

            ” Transmission companies expect to recoup the cost of the CREZ transmission lines — estimated at $4.93 billion — from residential ratepayers by adding a monthly charge of $3 to $5 for about a decade.”

            http://www.texastribune.org/tribpedia/crez-transmission-lines/about/

            I also said that comparing transmission line failures to generation failures is comparing apples to oranges.

          • APEppink

            It’s pretty obvious you’ve no utility exp. Most wind farms are fairly isolated connected to the grid by radial (no redundancy) xmsn lines. Thus, obviously, if thar connector trips, for whatever reason, the power loss must be made up w spinning reserve. It’s pretty simple at base. Of course generating units, of all types, are paralleled into the grid. Sheesh. That’s pretty basic stuff. And of course tripping of the big baseload NG combined cycle units, nukes and coal burners require instantaneous replacement by spinning reserve equal to the load lost. This is all pretty basic hi school shop class stuff. What’s your pt? That the be really smaller farms

          • eveee

            I am familiar. The simple point is that many smaller sources are more reliable than single large ones. That might be so elementary its overlooked. Are we simply having trouble agreeing?

          • eveee

            Wind output failures occur. They are just less likely to cause as large a disturbance as often. If there is some common failure mode between all of them, all bets are off. But so far, it looks like getting a large amount, like a GW to fail at once, is pretty low probability. I have not seen the studies, but I think its less than the 2.5% unplanned outages you get with large thermal PP.

          • APEppink

            “Wind output failures occur. They are just less likely to cause as large a disturbance as often.”

            From a common sense pt of view that seems reasonable. Tho I read/heard that a massive wind falloff in west Texas a few yrs ago almost sunk their grid. The freq fell so far that load shedding relays picked up.
            I’m guessing if you and I met and were mutually reasonable we’d probably generally agree.

          • eveee

            You are probably referring to the one in 2008. Due to a combination of bad forecasting, limited wind geographic dispersal, and grid limitations. Sometimes times the load forecast is good, but generation takes a dive. It happens in Texas a lot, even with conventional generators.

            http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=115×239713

            http://www.ercot.com/news/presentations/2011/Severe%20weather%20events%20one-pager%202-8-11.pdf

            Texas has had a lot of blackout problems in the past in general. As you pointed out, its getting better with Tres Amigas, and the other added transmission is a big improvement in that area. It just seems incredible that we don’t have a national grid infrastructure. There are advantages to Texas being on its own, because it can act quickly and cut through red tape. If we could do that and have a national grid, it would be the best of all worlds.

            I did a little further research on Danish wind. I think they have primary voltage control. It will be a challenge to get very large amounts of renewables on the grid. Primary control for a lot of geographically dispersed turbines is one thing. Combining them with other renewables like solar is another. It definitely takes a much smarter grid and is a change from todays system.

            FYI, solar is a relatively solvable control system. Unlike a thermal PP with thermal and mechanical inertia, and wind turbines with mechanical inertia, solar is like a voltage source. If you remove the load, it goes open circuit and no real issues. It just stops generating. The load is controlled by DC-DC and inverters. Its capable of acting fast. Also supplies VARs. The controllability issue is a matter of communication to distributed sources. I think there is still more utility solar, so I don’t think distributed solar is an issue. Between wind and solar, I think solar is easier to solve, but the issues are different. The morning evening ramp rates are high, but curtailment is easy.

            Some say the biggest problem with renewable control is that it would need to operate below maximum to have some upside control. Thats true, but there is not widespread need just yet at low penetration. Once you get to high renewables penetration, it does make sense to do that most of the time, because there is going to be an excess of generation to cover the load daily and seasonal variation. You know it. Any system will have reserves. If its renewable, renewable reserves or some other kind of reserves like gas.

            I see the biggest gains from studying the source temporal probabilities and combining them in the right way to improve matters. Best example is wind diurnal versus solar daily output. Its not as easy as just hooking up a generator burning fuel, but it is doable.

            You mentioned islands. Thats an interesting subject. Hawaii needs to go to solar and wind a lot more and is. Diesel is just too expensive. It will be interesting to see what they come up with.

          • APEppink

            Sounds reasonable. I haven’t the time to read papers in detail but my thot is that when people finally wise up and ditch the idiot lunatic lib fringe, reasonable governance and, with it, a reasonably modified capitalistic economic system will be possible.
            Thus re electric power, I think some considerable (hard to predict) non taxpayer subsidized renewables penetration will inevitably occur. If the penetration does become large (say > 30%) load/freq control will be difficult absent game changing gridscale storage and freq control algorithms. We’ll see. I think majority centralized generation will continue primarily because of renewables’ diffusivity and technological innovation in generation (P-P Fusion esp – (exceedingly difficult, obviously, but doable I think, if we decide to quit cheaping out on ITER etc. The big problem is far too many of these – what should be – engineering/economic decisions are being made by politicians and ‘judges’ who don’t know their a____ from a hole in the ground).

          • Bob_Wallace

            Do you find it necessary to act like an a$$hole when you post? Are you perhaps able to communicate with people without insults? You really come across as a world class jerk.

            Yes, it is likely that once we reach a penetration point with wind and solar (likely more than 50% rather than about 30%) we will need storage. (Review the NREL findings. Adjust upward for a now larger percentage of natural gas. Adjust upward some more for dispatchable load such as EVs and “storing cool”.)

            Remember, when we got above 15% nuclear penetration we had to start adding storage. Adding storage in order to utilize “non-cooperative” generation is nothing new.

          • eveee

            GE has been doing something about up control for renewables. The first goal is just short time storage for stability and voltage regulation. The new turbine series is also designed to be very interconnected which helps.

            “The GE Brilliant 1.6-100′s Ramp Control, Predictive Power Analytics, and short-term, grid-scale battery storage capabilities open up new revenue-generating opportunities for wind farm operators, enabling them to sell into regional grid operators’ frequency regulation markets.”

            Makes sense what they are trying to do when put in the light of primary control you mentioned. I wold love to see what they are doing in Denmark and on some of the islands you mentioned. Hawaii looks interesting, too.

            I can’t help but wonder if extra renewables could be used as reserves also in a heavily renewable integrated grid, like Hawaii for example. Why not? We do it with conventional.

          • APEppink

            It could be all of this will come to pass but people (utilities etc ) are conservative and rightly so. Grid load/freq control is utterly essential to grid reliability. So I’m guessing any chg w/b incremental. That’s why I so detest demagogic and incompetent lawyers, ‘judges’ and politicians etc (bureaucrats also) dictating sweeping and damaging chg’s to systems etc of which they’ve no knowledge whatever.
            But, you’re right. Development is proceeding right along. Just have to wait to see how things evolve.

          • APEppink

            Good non mathematical grid frequency control primer – ERCOT:

            http://www.texasre.org/CPDL/Frequency%20Control_operations%20seminar%20(2).pdf

            More rigorous load/freq control, balancing paper. Complex, requires study (which I’ve not done):

            http://www.nerc.com/docs/oc/rs/NERC%20Balancing%20and%20Frequency%20Control%20040520111.pdf

            The problem w blogs like this is people want simple, easily understood 15 words or less explanations. But reality o

          • APEppink

            But when reality rears its ugly head things are often not so simple and require experience and study to arrive at competent, practical soln’s to problems.

          • Bob_Wallace

            “The problem w blogs like this is people want simple, easily understood 15 words or less explanations.”

            Fifteen words is an exaggeration, but the gist of your comment is correct. Quite often people want to understand the basics of how things work outside of their own field of expertise.

            What this blog attempts to do is to take the current state and cutting edge renewable energy technology and present it to a general audience in easily understandable fashion.

            That is not always easy, sometimes not feasible, but to the extent knowledgeable people can take what is happening in their field, summarize it, and put it into an understandable form knowledge is shared across the public.

            A better informed public is capable of making better decisions and in our imperfect form of government the public makes the decisions that chart our course.

          • Bob_Wallace

            The Gardiner site on frequency control is well presented. Easy to understand and will be a good resource to pass on to others who want to understand the issue.

            But it needs updating. The words “wind” and “solar” are mentioned once. With no explanation that I saw of the role they will play. There’s also nothing about storage. There’s nothing about the role flywheels might play.

            We’re clearly changing our grids. ERCOT is at 10% wind. They are going to be seeing a lot of solar start coming on line. Iowa and South Dakota are at 25% wind.

            The current grid is not the grid we had when we were middle-aged.

          • eveee

            APEppink – Thanks. I like reading stuff like this. Wind energy is a favorite. The field has come a long way. I hear your pain about arbitrary rulings. Sometimes one can have an easy engineering solution ruined by an arbitrary specification.

            “There is always an easy solution to every human problem — neat, plausible, and wrong.”

            http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/H._L._Mencken

            I am an engineer. Its always tempting to dream of fantasy technology and imagine it happening. Then one has to deal with the reality. I liked wind a long time ago, but I has to admit it was not ready. Now its cheaper than everything but gas in the Midwest. I think the new generation of higher lattice towers and longer blades with higher CF, will bring the cost to the point of having no competitors in its area without subsidy. And it has a lot of challenges going forward, but it is now pretty well established. It now has the challenge of being a major contributor, not just a small player. Its going to take some doing to integrate and control on a much larger scale and with other sources. We need to get ready for it. Its already started in places like South Australia, Denmark, Germany, Spain, and Portugal. Its going to happen in Hawaii and California soon. Its going to require some thinking “big”. The scale is enormous. I think EVs are going to hit in the next decade and the utilities are not thinking ahead to it yet.

          • eveee
          • globi

            Why do you worry about 6 MW of wind power when North America has 167’000 MW of hydro power already?
            http://atl.g.andritz.com/c/com2011/00/01/62/16207/1/1/0/-264796974/gr-cmd-hy-2008.pdf
            This is more than enough to generate a constant frequency.

        • eveee

          Ahhh. Now you are not hewing too close to the industry. You would never know it from reading IEEE Power and Energy,Dec. 2013.

          http://magazine.ieee-pes.org/novemberdecember-2013/

          Renewables using the entire grid as their spinning reserve? Try another one. Solar replaces some spinning reserve. You need less peakers for that and less reserves. Why don’t you explain why base load requires so much spinning reserve? And why don’t you object to that? No debate on so much reserves for that and a big one about such a small amount of renewables? Doesn’t sound too logical.

          • APEppink

            I think you’re missing my pt re spinning reserve. I was trying to be facetious but obviously missed. Picture this: some guy in CA bites into the massive subsidies offered there till recently and plasters his house w solar panels, displacing his personal use and, depending on the tariff employed either net generates, effectively covering his load at retail, giving his xs back to the octopus for free or sells his xs back at some subretail price. In a very real sense this homeowner is using the entire grid as his personal spinning reserve as powerflo reverses back into his house on cloudless days. That’s what I was referring to, tounge-in-cheek.

          • Bob_Wallace

            So how do you feel about us taxpayers paying hundreds of millions of dollars each day to cover the external costs of coal?

            You cool with that? You’d rather pay tax dollars to fund coal for the next 100+ years than to subsidized wind and solar, temporarily, in order to avoid the external cost of coal?

          • APEppink

            Coal’s a mess, undeniably. But it’s cheap and plentiful. What’s really hypocritical w you libs is you want to deny developing countries, e.g. Bangladesh, Thailand etc. The oppty to develop w cheap power, just like the 1st world, did, instead wanting them to ‘develop’ w $50/MWhr renewables etc. It’s grotesquely selfish and unfair, typ of the asinine and irrational libindset.
            Coal going to be around for awhile even if you, obama, and His other
            minions don’t like it.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Bangladesh and Thailand are installing a lot of solar.

            Bangladesh has now installed over 2 million micro-solar systems and is installing an additional 50,000 per month. That’s 50,000 households and small shops that now have LED lighting and a place to charge their cell phone. Even if the grid was some day extended to reach them they wouldn’t have been able to afford electricity.

            Thailand’s grid is pretty well established. Their solar is largely grid tied.

            Both Bangladesh and Thailand are building wind farms.

            Apparently you don’t know the current prices of wind, solar and coal. If so, you wouldn’t be thinking that it made any sense at all for a developing country to build coal plants and find themselves stuck with higher capex costs plus continuing fuel prices.

          • APEppink

            Holy Cow, I’m gonna quit replying to
            you. You’re too ignorant. Thailand had a beautiful new coal plant on the drawing bd’s ready to go not long ago but the lousy libs running the World Bank scuttled the idea. Didn’t want them using coal. Same thing in Pakistan. Look it up.
            You libs are beyond ignorant.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Don’t need to look it up. The World Bank and major global investment banks have stopped funding new coal plants.

            Too damned risky. And there’s the climate change problem which you don’t understand.

          • APEppink

            Absolutely, positively, expressively my last reply to your (hopefully innocent) ignorance.
            The Japanese are no fools, unlike the obamista’s:

            http://www.ibtimes.com/japan-boosts-support-coal-fired-power-plants-built-overseas-despite-obama-led-push-scale-1636622

            In addition to which the Chinese, Indians, Brazilians etc. are building coal units like crazy, while the deluded German libs have been forced to buy our coal lately the keep the lites on.
            That’s it.
            Over & out.

          • APEppink

            Whoops. One last. Aussie’s are no fools re this crazy ‘global warming (cooling, deflating, enfeebling, whatever) lib chicken little situation either. Chgs in trace CO2 conc (tiny @ some 400ppm (0.040%) likely give rise to equally tiny environmental chgs both good and bad. This in spite of the positive feedbacks (look it up Bob) purported to be associated w small conc chgs. Whatever probs arise will be dealt w in the course of normal technological development w the usual difficulties along the way. Sinking the entire global economy in the name of lib hysteria is beyond stupid (think of previous mentioned asinine World Bank attitude). Climatology is entirely empirical (look it up Bob), far too complex to be accurately modeled, subj to wide latitude in interpretation. No functional relationships whatever have been discovered.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Australia made a major mistake and elected a gang of fools to run their country. Fools who support the coal industry. But in spite of their best efforts wind and solar continue to flourish in Oz.

            Look, don’t try to lecturer me on something about which I know vastly more than you. You are very simply climate science ignorant.

            You don’t understand the effects of greenhouse gases and the amplifying forces which are coming into play. You don’t understand the danger of significant planetary warming. You don’t understand how solid the science is. You don’t understand how well the climate models have worked.

            You are simply talking trash.

            And apparently you failed to read the site comment guidelines. I’ll copy them over for you here –

            We love comments. We love people sharing useful information about cleantech and related subjects. We love it all so much that we let people comment by default… no need for your comment to wait for approval by a moderator!
            However, there is a tendency for people on sites all over the web to spew total crap onto the screens of others. Due to the anonymity and distanced nature of comments on the internet people seem to feel comfortable calling strangers horrible names, spamming, and completely straying from the points of the discussion. That being the case we do sometimes have to remove comments. Here are some things that can get your comments removed:

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            CT respects the 97.1% of climate science peer-reviewed papers which have established a position on global warming and the 98% of climate scientists who have stated their position, agree that global warming is real, caused by humans and extremely serious. The only real debate is what to do in an attempt to minimize the harm, which is a primary focus of this blog. Global warming denying comments are always irrelevant on CT and will be removed.
            Global warming denier sites are not reliable sources. If they make a point and reference a peer-reviewed study published in a reputable journal or industry document, reference the study or document directly.

            If you repeatedly violate commenting rules then you will lose the privilege of commenting.

            Of course, we may change our comment policy at any time if we see the need for that.

            We’re funny that way….

          • eveee

            Don’t look now, but South Australia has a coal baseload glut. They turn all their coal plants off in summer.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Sorry, your dog ain’t huntin’.

            China is capping coal use starting in 2017 and dropping the cap to roughly 2011 consumption levels. They are building new supercritical coal plants but closing thousands of inefficient plants. Just a few days ago they placed a ban on new coal plants in the Beijing area and a couple of other critical zones.

            Both China and India are running low on fresh water and will have to cut back on coal mining and use in order to repurpose the water now used for coal.

            India, like China, has a significant and expanding renewable energy industry. The new Indian prime minister is making a major push for solar.
            Germany is buying US coal simply because it’s being sold at bargain prices. Germany’s coal consumption is up only an insignificant amount due to rising NG prices and cheap US coal.

            Coal, as an executive of Deutsche Bank said a year or so back, is a dead man walking….

          • APEppink

            How does solar act as spinning reserve? Can it be somehow ‘instantaneously’ boosted up to support freq, in the manner of a turbine governor etc during freq droops?

          • globi

            Larger German PV-power plants can be remote controlled by the grid operator.
            Even small PV inverters are meanwhile offering reactive power control: http://www.sma.de/en/products/solarinverters/sunny-boy-3000tl-3600tl-4000tl-5000tl-with-reactive-power-control.html
            PV inverters also automatically reduce power not only at a certain grid voltage but also at a certain frequency.

          • APEppink

            Hmmmm…Learn something new every day. Now that you mention it I do think I remember reading that the synchronous inverters employed in pv installations can ‘throttle’ the pv DC input while chopping it up into sine wave 3 ph AC (using gated SCR’s & Thyristors w appropriate control circuitry) and thus can be both used for freq req and pushing leading MVAR’s etc. And it’d make sense that large installations w/b dispatchable from the utility’s dispatch office.

          • eveee

            The control issues are a legitimate concern, but not yet critical in most places. Denmark has met the challenge in wind, and Germany is meeting it in solar. We are going to the next level in Hawaii and South Australia. There are all sorts of engineering challenges, bit I think EEs are up to them. Baseload is gone in south Australia summer months.

          • Roger Pham

            Solar can act as spinning reserve if only a portion of it is fed to the grid while the rest is fed to an energy storage means or dispatchable load that can be instantly removed to allow more solar portion to the grid.

            Solar and wind are so inexpensive now that they are installed for purely economic reason and for energy security. Europe and Japan have to import oil, coal, and NG hence is vulnerable, thus local renewable energy is vital for energy and economic security.

          • APEppink

            S & w prices do look to be declining, no longer in need of taxpayer babysitting but the problem still
            Is diffusiveness. Renewables will never be able to significantly dent world power demand esp as it grows.

          • Bob_Wallace

            “Renewables will never be able to significantly dent world power demand esp as it grows.”

            What’s your thinking here?

          • APEppink

            Common sense. There’s all kinds of data to support that.

          • Bob_Wallace

            That is not an answer. That’s a duck and run.

            Come on. You made a statement of fact. Back it up with a rational argument and facts.

          • Roger Pham

            Diffuseness of S & W, yes, but doable. Total USA’s electricity consumption yearly is 4,000 TWh. If using solar at 2,000 hrs/yr, or 18% CF, will need 2 TW of capacity. At 10% efficiency! or 100 W/M^2, the total area required is 20,000 sq. km. Total land area of US 48 states is 9,600,000 sq. km, or 500 times the land area required for solar PV at 10% efficiency. If wind is to provide 1/2 of the power, then the land area required is only 1/1,000 the land area. Wind does not take much land at all because crops can grow around a wind turbine.

          • APEppink

            Sound good on paper but paper, talk, are cheep. I think diffusness will give rise to probs. Not to mention load/freq control.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Quit dodging the question, Mr. pink.

          • globi

            Besides that many countries get a substantial renewable power amount from hydro power.
            Wind was already at 54.8% in Denmark last December:
            http://www.energinet.dk/EN/El/Nyheder/Sider/2013-var-et-rekordaar-for-dansk-vindkraft.aspx
            Wind was already at 21.1% in Spain last year:
            http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jan/06/wind-power-spain-electricity-2013
            And Spain is not even very much interconnected with other European countries.
            And the potential of PV is significantly higher than of wind, which is why even Shell expects it to be the major energy source in 2070 (not just power): http://solarlove.org/shell-bullish-on-solar-despite-dropping-solar-but-much-more-in-its-new-scenarios-than-that/

          • Job001

            Never say never. Solar installed cost declines at 7%/yr or 50%/decade. Starting with 1% of grid capacity growth to 80% of grid could easily take less than 25 years at 25% growth rate. 1.25^25 =>264% of initial grid output. Grid growth may be negligible for this 25 years, but assuming it grows by 3 to 4% this solar growth rate will still handle it. 1.21^25 => 117%.
            Diffusiveness has very little significant bearing on economics, creativity, and innovation. Learning curves, when they get going are rather reliable, as was Moore’s law. Solar’s learning curve is about 37 years old, improving about 13%/yr for PV cells, 7%/yr for installations. This is exceptional and very tough to compete with.

          • eveee

            You are making up a hypothetical that is truly unreal. I know how solar works in California, and you cannot install massively more than your annual usage worth. If you go to Solar City or any other provider, they tell you that. So forget that. This is a myth. In general, rooftop solar breaks a little one way or the other compared to even, thats all. Compared to the annual bill before, the amount exchanged between the utility and the PV is peanuts. Now lets talk about the retail rate. Turns out in Minnesota, that real sunny place, the state did an analysis of the value of solar and concluded it was worth more than the retail rate. Now me ,thinking that California might have at least as much sun a s Minnesota and all, thought that if Minnesotans deserved more than the retail rate, why couldn’t Californians? So this whole scary “using the whole grid as his spinning reserve” is a bogeyman and FUD. Solar reduces reserve requirements not increases them. It acts like a daytime peak generator because it follows the load and reduces the peak. Being in the industry and all, you do know that peak daytime peak generation is worth more and all right? So naturally, you understand that solar gets more because its there when the peak load happens, right?

    • djr417

      Damn you Disqus and your no vote down option! Its one thing to offer a different view, bring up possible roadblocks- but to say ‘not practical, nor will it ever be’ is borderline trollish.

  • http://plus.google.com/+BobWyman bobwyman

    Lovins rightly points out that ice-storage in HVAC systems can help dramatically in smoothing summer peak demand and lowering the cost of air conditioning. This is well accepted. But, what isn’t as well known is that ice-storage systems can be used as Thermal Batteries in multi-source thermal systems used to heat buildings.

    As system composed of a ground source heat pump, roof-top solar thermal panels and a Thermal Battery, with appropriate controls to manage the thermal energy, will be much more efficient than the alternatives and will allow elimination of fossil fuels during winter heating with minimal impact on the grid.

  • APEppink

    No one ever mentions renewables’ diffuseness which blows a hole in everything. Averaging out renewables’ inputs over large areas no doubt has some smoothing effect but load/frequency control is still difficult with large renewables incursions requiring inefficient running of frequency controlling units at part load for spinning reserve.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Perhaps you’d like to read why you are incorrect. Here’s the NREL to explain things to you…

      http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy13osti/57820.pdf

      • APEppink

        Yes. I’ve read similar articles where renewables ‘dispatchabilty’ is effected by effecting blade pitch changes thru governor algorithms. How this is done w pv I don’t know. Apparently electrical/control schemes are installed which control cell (group) output by cutting groups in and out and(or) by ‘throttling’ group output (changing response to insolation. I don’t know the specific. In the case of windmills blade pitch governing is inaccurate and slow, thus suitable only for regional frequency control, not for primary governing. Additionally there are obvious economic impediments to the effecting of each control system, wind and pv. This all is pretty much a paper exercise for now ex possibly in Texas w its isolated grid and unique economics resulting.

        • eveee

          Germany has had requirements in place for all wind and solar to provide stability to the grid in the form of disturbance ride through and VAR support. This exists in the same turbines in the US, but is not used by the utilities. Blade pitch changing even a degree can change output and quickly. Maybe not as fast as the fastest source, but fast enough. A variation of as little as 15 degrees or less is enough to turn a wind turbine backwards instead of forward. Its angle of attack. Just like an aircraft wing. Why don’t you provide a source for your statement that blade feathering being inaccurate and slow.

          • APEppink

            Windmill blade pitch gain must be held down for many reasons, making primary load/freq cont solely w windmills difficult.

            Primary freq control is difficult w windmills as, esp in hi gain situations, severe structural stresses are imposed on the entire machine, tower & spd increaser esp but also hub and blades. Even countries now requiring active power control in windmills rely primarily on prime mover governor control in baseload and cycling units (the less efficient, older units) for primary load/freq regulation (by throttling steam flo in frequency controlling steam plants, w following boiler firing control and by direct fuel flo regulation with gas turbines (both combined cycle and peakers) and in diesel units.
            Indeed the stresses imposed in the case of windmills are so hi that doubly fed induction generator schemes were developed so as to allow the unit speed to rise and fall somewhat in varying windspds so as to avoid damaging hi tork excursions (which tore up spd increaser gearboxes in synchronous units). Indeed sole windmill freq control is so difficult that co’s like MAN B&W are advertising hybrid small grids (e.g. Pacific Islands etc.) incorporating lg marine diesels both for system redundancy (diesels in no wind cond) and for load/freq control when the windfarm is up and running (of course, fuel cons is minimized in hybrid opn (optimal opn). Hawaii is run much this way now. Hi solar cell penetration there also. HI conditions are unique – extreme fuel costs, typ of any isolated opn. Extremely expensive power there, even w taxpayer subsidized renewables.
            Yes, large grid hiways are best. Indeed that’s supposed to be coming on in the US w the advent of the Tres Amigas superconducting substation near Clovis, NM with w which significant active and reactive power xfrs could finally occur nationally in the US.
            The US grid is currently divided into three grids – East, West (incl parts of Canada and Mexico) and Texas w only weak interties capable only of small active and reactive power wheeling (xfrs) among them.
            You’re off track on voltage support, MVAR shuffling etc. which is a different animal. Voltage reg and load/freq control are separate but related entities – (P apparent)^2 = (P active)^2) + (P reactive)^2). Voltage reg/support has little directly to do w freq governing. Some voltage support can be enabled w the local inclusion of significant capacitor extent to provide wind farm local power factor improvement by providing leading MVAR’s to balance the lagging farm MVAR’s. The capacitor banks will provide limited voltage support in case of grid upsets.

            http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy12osti/54605.pdf

            See last sentence, 2nd to last paragraph in conclusion of paper for info re stresses. That’s the major prob e windmills.

          • APEppink

            One last thing. HI kWh costs are extreme avg ~ $0.325/kWh, Germany and Spain also. Taxpayer supported renewables have backfired on both Germany (which now is buying coal like mad) and Spain w extreme power costs and attendant economic difficulty. Indeed things got so bad in Germany that they had to shutdown their newest big NG combined cycle unit which was the most efficient in the world at some 63% thermal efficiency. VERY expensive, inefficient thing to do.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Germany isn’t “buying coal like mad”. And renewables in no way have “backfired”.

            The decision to close nuclear plants meant that for a few years additional renewable capacity has gone to replacing lost nuclear generation. That has caused a plateauing of fossil fuel use decline.

            Any “like mad” is simply making too much out of a small amount of variability in the data along with the effect of rising NG prices. It’s the sort of cherry-picking of data that we see from climate change deniers.

            Furthermore, were Germany not selling a lot of power to other European countries their fossil fuel use would be significantly lower.

            German utilities have petitioned the government for permission to close 49 fossil fuel plants with a total capacity of 7.9 GW as they are no longer needed.

          • APEppink

            “…climate change deniers.”

            Proud global warming denier here.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I was sort of assuming that was your problem. A person not swayed by facts.

          • globi

            1. Feed in tariffs are paid by the electricity consumers and not the German tax payer.

            2. Coal and nuclear has received far more subsidies than renewables have received feed in tariffs.
            http://www.heise.de/tp/artikel/37/37513/1.html
            Coal: €398 billion
            Nuclear: €213 billion
            FIT (renewables, 1991 – 2012): €67 billion

            3. Germany pays €2000 billion for fossil fuel imports within a time-frame of 20 years (assuming oil&gas prices are stable which is unlikely.)

            4. Thanks to renewables, large power consumers in Germany benefit from the lower electricity prices. http://www.triplepundit.com/2014/04/electricity-prices-fall-europe-german-renewable-energy-increases/

            5. Assuming Germany was seriously interested in reducing CO2-emissions, it could simply take some old lignite power plants off the grid and that new combined cycle unit was all set.

            6. Germany has a world record trade surplus: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/german-trade-surplus-widens-record-high-074803284–finance.html
            while France which is blessed with nuclear power has record unemployment:
            http://www.rivieratimes.com/index.php/provence-cote-dazur-article/items/france-hits-new-record-for-unemployment.html

          • APEppink

            @ 4) Germany was ~$0.35/kwhr last yr., as bad as the island nations and hardly conducive the functioning of their economy. Their captains of industry have complained abt exhorbitant power costs for yrs.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Their captains of industry are crying wolf. And shoveling BS.

            German industrial electricity is less than the EU27 average and has been falling since renewables made a significant appearance on German grids.

            http://appsso.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/nui/show.do?dataset=nrg_pc_205&lang=en

            Take a look at what renewables are doing to the wholesale price of electricity in Germany. (Graph below)

            German retail prices are high for two reasons.

            The first is the non-utility taxes charged to retail consumers. Revenue that has nothing to do with renewable energy and goes straight into government coffers.

            The second, and smaller, is the poorly administered FiT solar program. Germany set their initial FiT high enough to kick-start and build a strong solar industry. But they left the rate high for too long. With hindsight we can see that they should have dialed the rate down faster, perhaps indexed it to the cost of installed solar.

            Are those high electricity prices hurting Germany’s economy? No. German manufacturing is on track to grow 4% in 2014 and employment is up 7% from the low point (spring, 2010).

            As you can see German industry is enjoying lower than average prices. German households use far less electricity than do Americans. We both end up with average electric bills of roughly $100/month.

          • APEppink

            The last thing to be said re wind freq control is that MAN B&W would have no reason to advertise their hybrid systems if freq coil be that accurately controlled w wind turbines alone, esp in areas of more or less continuous hi winds (e.g. hi
            latitudes, the Pribolofs for instance, Sts Paul, George, Lawrence, Matthew. Wind never suits blowing there seems like, esp offshore.

          • eveee

            On wind and frequency control, I think you should read this paper. They are doing a lot more of it in Europe than here. And yes. Control is pretty good.

            http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy12osti/54605.pdf

          • APEppink

            Heeellllllooooo…..
            I was the one who posted that paper awhile ago. Read specifically the last sentence of the 2nd to the last paragraph which injects a little reality into the situation (as I indicated earlier in my prev post w this paper cited).

          • eveee

            “if it is possible for wind plant operation to provide the services required for grid regulation without significantly increasing fatigue damage to the turbines or other turbine costs, like O and M, then wind energy might be viewed as enabling resources for grid regulation objectives, aiding in wind energy penetrations higher than 20%.

            Yes. I know that. Its hard to believe you posted that after all the other comments you made. I could not believe it after I read it, because it actually says those problems are solvable. Well they are not only solvable, they are implemented, but not here. That was why I posted my comment about German and EU grid codes. They are already doing this stuff there, because they have been required to do so for some time, while the US is lagging in this. Its not a paper exercise. Its already being done in Germany and Denmark because it has been mandated. And in fact, that is why they are able to have such high wind integrations there.As far as injecting a little reality into the situation, you might read about the EU grid codes and how they already mandate a level of system operator control and grid support unheard of in the US. Those same EU based turbines get installed here. Whats lacking is the US system, not the turbines. Been there, done that in EU.
            Still, I wonder about what is being done in Iowa and Texas. Iowa is already at German levels, but the amount is smaller. Texas has a bigger wind amount, but a bigger load and grid.

          • globi

            Large power consumers pay wholesale electricity prices and not small household electricity prices. And wholesale electricity prices for large power consumers have dropped considerably, which is why large power consumers such as Norsk Hydro are increasing production in Germany and not in France: http://www.platts.com/latest-news/metals/london/norsk-hydro-boosts-production-capacity-for-aluminium-26742072
            http://www.triplepundit.com/2014/04/electricity-prices-fall-europe-german-renewable-energy-increases/

            Average household electricity prices in Germany were at 26.4 ct./kWh in 2012: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strompreis

            And households don’t run aluminum smelters, but it’s doubtful that you would know about it.

          • Bob_Wallace

            That’s 26.4 euro cents which works out to about 35 US cents.

          • globi

            Btw, I don’t live in Germany but I pay more than 35 US cents/kWh: Since my household is relatively efficient, the basic connection fees are substantial in comparison to the pure electricity costs.

          • globi

            Between 1990 and 2012 Germanys coal consumption has actually been reduced by 40% (!): http://www.energycomment.de/primarenergieverbrauch-deutschland-1990-2012/

            In addition, German power production from brown coal has been reduced by 5.2% and from hard coal it has been reduced by 11.6% compared to last year:
            http://www.ise.fraunhofer.de/en/downloads-englisch/pdf-files-englisch/data-nivc-/electricity-production-from-solar-and-wind-in-germany-2014.pdf

          • Bob_Wallace

            “HI conditions are unique – extreme fuel costs, typ of any isolated opn. Extremely expensive power there, even w taxpayer subsidized renewables. ”

            Hawaii is about 15% renewables and about 85% fossil fuel. Hawaii’s high electricity prices are caused by the high price of oil. Without the small share of renewables their electricity prices would be even higher.

            Wind generation is now under 3 cents per kWh. The federal subsidy is only ~1.5c over a 20 year PPA. Solar is being sold for 5c with the same small federal subsidy.

            Take away the ~15% <5c contribution of wind and solar, then replace them with more expensive oil generation and anyone can tell prices would rise.

          • eveee

            Thanks for the reference. Things are changing fast. That paper is already old, even thought its only two years. Yes, there can be stresses on wind turbines due to load changes. I don’t get your drift on being off track on voltage support, etc. I know what a VAR is. You are talking to an EE familiar with power. Same as there are stresses due to gusts or anything else changing rapidly. US is behind Europe on VARs and control. Germany already has VARs in the grid code. They support voltage control, frequency control, and VARs. They certainly can be all related and interdependent dynamically. I have seen papers describing load disturbance and recovery and there are legislated requirements on how much power can change in frequency and voltage, not to mention practical limits on how much before bad things happen. It is arguably true that if a large fault happens, the voltage and frequency change at the same time. That is not so relevant to steady state. Voltage can and does rise and fall on the grid without frequency changes on the load end.

            See Table 1.

            http://csep.efchina.org/report/201081124622662.0710974012314.pdf/Grid%20Codes%20for%20Wind%20Power%20Integration%20in%20Spain%20and%20Germany.pdf

            “The study, “Active Power Controls from Wind Power: Bridging the Gaps”, finds that wind power can support the power system by adjusting its power output to enhance system reliability. Additionally, the study finds that it often could be economically beneficial to provide active power control , and potentially damaging loads on turbines from providing this control is negligible. Active power control helps balance load with generation at various times, avoiding erroneous power flows, involuntary load shedding, machine damage, and the risk of potential blackouts.”

            http://www.nrel.gov/news/press/2014/7301.html

          • APEppink

            That all sounds good if really practically effective. As to wind turbine durability, doubly fed asynchronous generators were employed specifically to provide rpm variation in a broader band to hold down extremely hi tork spikes which were tearing up older synchronous generator wind turbine spd increasers, not to mention other parts and structures and would’ve otherwise necessitated massive, expensive and heavy overdesigned spd increasers (and associated assy’s, structures and parts). Hi tork spikes even occurred w the more conventionally used induction generators which afford a narrow band spd variation.
            All of which you presumably know.

            “Germany already has VARs in the grid code.”

            What, specifically, do you mean by that? My exp re v/r is simply (synchronous) generator field current variation so as to maintain the terminal voltage set pt (or other
            setpt, e.g. pushing so any MVAR’s for syst pf correction etc., or any of any number of system req’d set pts, as you’re no doubt aware). Additionally, out on the utility grid xmsn line capacitor compensation banks are used to hold down reactive current; in the dist sys variable tapped xfmr’s are used for local voltage reg etc. It’s complex, as you know. (Read up on the SCE Mohave Generating Station xmsn line subsynchronous resonance problem yrs ago. Fascinating.

            Re: legislated freq setpt’s etc. Never heard of such a thing but in crazy socialistic Western Europe I’d guess anything is possible.

            I’ve no objection whatever to non taxpayer subsidized renewables but I think reality must be faced. Putting load/freq reg probs aside, renewables, exclusive of hydro, are exceedingly diffuse, incapable of significantly denting world power req. I think the ultimate soln is the P-P Fusion Rxn firing very advanced hi eff combined cycle (busbar eff > 70%, possibly w solar steam gem assist and condenser waste heat recovery for greenhouses etc.) This is very pie in the sky, I admit, but I think, hope, ultimately doable. We simply must quit cheaping out on fusion proj’s, ITER etc.

          • eveee

            So a source that is already providing electricity at less than 5c/kwhr without subsidies right now and at grid percentages of 30% in some places, and growing at over 20% per year, or doubling every 5 years or so, is no good. But a pie in the sky maybe might work dream fantasy fusion whiz bang is better? Tell me something. How much money and subsidies do you think are being spent and already have been spent on your boondoggle whiz bang fusion? I wonder why you object so strongly to a renewable that is working and providing power, but don’t mind millions for a pipe dream. Yeah. Why is that? I mean reality must be faced, right?

          • APEppink

            I’m an optimist. It’s just like Pham said earlier re renewables diffuseness. He thinks it’s difficult but doable. He may be right, he may not be. We’ll see. That’s my attitude toward fusion, certainly the most difficult engrng prob man has ever attempted. I think it’s difficult but doable esp as the rewards are so great. Infinite in practical terms, and worthy of far more expenditure than the cs cheaping out we’ve done so far.

          • eveee

            There are grid code requirements for the integration of wind in Europe. I assume you are familiar with grid codes, but perhaps not the European variety. European wind requirements are very strict. This paper details some findings of the DFIG generator type. And yes, frequency, voltage, VARs (they give it as P/Q), and voltage ride through are all in there. There is some VAR capability without capacitors by way of electronics. Its not just a synchronous machine with field current. Its doubly fed induction machine. Its quite remarkable technology. It allows the output to be at a different frequency than the input and also reduce the gearbox transient loads as you say. I think you appreciate that.
            http://www.hindawi.com/journals/cpis/2013/437674/

    • globi

      Actually, conventional power requires more spinning reserves: http://aweablog.org/blog/post/

      In fact, Texas grid operator data show that the integration costs for conventional power plants are far larger than the integration costs for wind generation. Because changes in wind output occur gradually over many hours and can be predicted, while failures at conventional power plants occur instantly and without warning, more reserves and more expensive reserves are required to reliably integrate conventional power plants. For example, the Texas grid operator ERCOT holds 2800 MW of fast-acting reserves 24/7/365 to keep the lights on in case one of the state’s large fossil or nuclear power plants experiences an unexpected failure, as all power plants do from time to time.

      • APEppink

        All this is hot air and wheelspinning as the renewables fraction in Texas is small (as is the case nearly everywhere) @ some 16% of their summer peak (>60k MW).

      • APEppink

        “2800 MW of fast-acting reserves 24/7/365 to keep the lights on in case one of the state’s large fossil or nuclear power plants experiences an unexpected failure, as all power plants do from time to time.”

        Std practice. Carry enough spinning reserve to cover the tripping of your largest unit and(or) xmsn line.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Yep. That’s how it has to be done when runs a grid on 20th century technology.

          It’s not how the 21st century grid will operate. Distributed wind and solar generation will mean no abrupt major input losses. Large scale storage will fill in and, as needed, dispatchable generation will be brought on line.

          • APEppink

            Holy Cow Bob. Fairytales. Are you an engr, have a crystal ball? No, I think you’re a typical lo info easily herded lib.

          • Bob_Wallace

            You are invited to cease the personal attacks.

            http://cleantechnica.com/cleantechnica-comment-policy/

          • Bob_Wallace

            BTW, Proud Liberal.

            And that, to me, means that I give a damn about others and not just about myself.

          • APEppink

            “…I give a damn about others and not just about myself.”

            That’s admirable Bob. Keep it up. Just, PLEASE, remember to turn on
            Your brain when you’re doing so.

        • eveee

          Then surely you realize that the same fast acting reserves are capable of supporting 30% renewables integration with little or no extra reserves. Thats NREL. WWSIS. What does the renewables integration level have to do with anything? Yes, I know more renewables beyond 30% changes that. And why do you dismiss 16% of summer peak? If you are living in Texas you are thanking your lucky stars you have that renewables provided that instead of the grid blackouts they frequently experienced a decade ago. So right now and for a while into the future, renewables require less reserves than conventional. And by your own admission, they are reducing peaks. Solar will do that even more than wind.

  • peterjohn936

    Hydro can be used to back solar and wind. And the price for storage isn’t fixed. If we start to build storage then the price will drop over time.

    • http://soltesza.wordpress.com/ sola

      Hydro is is fairly hard to site since it requires specific geography to work. A lot of countries just don’t have the land features to site them.

      • globi

        So what?

        Massachusetts has been getting flexible hydro power from Quebec for decades:

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quebec_-_New_England_Transmission

        Southern California has been getting flexible hydro power from Oregon / Washington State for decades:

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

        Thanks to hydro power, Switzerland has been importing and exporting more power than the entire country consumes (!):

        http://www.bfe.admin.ch/energie/00588/00589/00644/index.html?lang=de&msg-id=38580

        Netherlands does not even share a boarder with Norway and has been getting flexible hydro power from Norway for years:

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

        Power trading has been going on for decades why should it not continue in the future?

        • eveee

          We need to think beyond borders. Kind of hard for Rhode Island to be a self sufficient state, for example.mas big as Texas is, we need regions as large as 1000 miles and stretching past borders to make the best grid and most reliable, affordable power. Too bad the Gris system is not a superhighway or internet. That’s what it needs to be.

          • Bob_Wallace

            We’re evolving in that direction. Right now we’re seeing new transmission lines being built to move Midwest wind to where people need the power. Even the Southeast is starting to tap into Oklahoma wind.

      • eveee

        Illinois is a very, very, flat state. How did they get pumped hydro?

        • Bob_Wallace

          Copying –

          *Editor’s Note: It is hard to quantify the total universe of abandoned rock quarries, but there are more than 1,000 in the National Park system, which encompasses 84 million acres of the total 2.3 billion acres of land in the U.S. These quarries provide infrastructure that could be converted into pumped-storage facilities with less civil work than a greenfield development and minimal environmental impact. The project mentioned in this article is just one example of work under way to tap this resource.*

          The Elmhurst Quarry Pumped Storage Project (EQPS) is a unique application for pumped storage. The site in the city of Elmhurst, Ill., is just 20 miles from downtown Chicago. EQPS is being developed by Dupage County, Ill., to optimize the value of flood control resources and renewable energy production within one of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas. The quarry site is presently being used as a critical flood storage resource.
          ….

          Elmhurst Quarry consists of a surface quarry and an underground mine, with a vertical separation of about 300 feet. The surface quarry operation was initiated in 1890 and continued until 1980, when the dolomite rock source was depleted and operations were transferred to the underground mine. The county took over the land in 1992.

          The surface quarry has east and west lobes, separated by a wall about 125 feet wide and 200 feet high. These lobes are connected by a tunnel through the high wall. Depending on the energy storage capacity selected during final design, the pumped-storage project may utilize either or both lobes as the upper reservoir.
          http://www.hydroworld.com/articles/hr/print/volume-31/issue-08/articles/pumped-storage-investigating-development-of-the-elmhurst-quarry-project.html

          • eveee

            Nice. I slow pitched that one. You hit a homer. Just the way I like it. :)

      • peterjohn936

        All you need is a river and some difference in elevation. And it doesn’t have to be in your country. Next door is also ok.

  • Vensonata

    It seems Armory still considers about 14% storage is required. That’s fine, especially since the “sunshot” goal is storage at 4 cents kwh, by 2020. Maybe some of us who have been thinking about the apparent hopelessness of the clean energy transition for a long time, have trouble realizing that the problem is well on its way to being solved. The old grooves in the brain catch the wheels of new thought. I have to remind myself from time to time that this is not 1982!

    • Bob_Wallace

      I think we’ve got all the tools we need to get (mostly) rid of fossil fuels for electricity, heating and transportation. And at an affordable price. We also seem to be ramping up installation rates to levels at which we could meet the IPCC 2050 goal.

      That’s not to say that better, cheaper and faster wouldn’t be welcome. And I can’t imagine that we won’t invent better, cheaper and faster over the coming decades.

      We’ve already cooked in some pain. But it looks like we can keep it from becoming extreme.

    • globi

      Keep in mind that if you overbuild renewables by 20%, its costs are only increased by 20%.

      So if Wind is at 4 cents/kWh, it will only increase its costs to 4.8 cents/kWh, which is still far cheaper than for instance nuclear at 16 cents/kWh (without storage, without overbuilding, without flexibility, without back-up etc.)

      • globi

        Besides, those extra 20% may be useful to desalt water in the future.

        • Bob_Wallace

          For those very high demand, really hot afternoons when the grid is stressed applications like desalinization may be some of the demand we can dump and purpose the power they would normally be using to deal with the high AC load. So, in this case, we aren’t really “overbuilding”.

      • Bob_Wallace

        The cost of overbuilding wind and solar probably needs to be compared to the cost of storage and peaking generation.

        There will be practical decisions to be made as we get into high penetrations of wind and solar. Would it make sense to add more solar panels to get us through the handful of very hot summer afternoons or store some extra power for longer periods of time or have some gas peakers that we use only a few hours a year? The answer can’t be determined now, we don’t know future prices nor what other technology might be available 20, 30 years from now.

        • Vensonata

          Overbuilding is the new paradigm. I am about to over build my off grid solar by a factor of three. So right now, in the summer with twenty people in residence we over produce electricity with a 3.4 kwh system. And yet we are going to expand this month to 11.4 kwh system. Why? To get to 100% December electric production by solar alone. Economically it still makes sense, we can now produce domestic hot water and cooking with solar electric (not solar water panels…this is also a new way of thinking). There will also be space heating in the shoulder seasons through a 3000 gallon super insulated in ground storage tank. So in summary: over build, you will find a use for the excess.

          • Roger Pham

            Over building is exactly what it will take to minimize the needs for storage and backup. The excess RE can be used for non-electricity energy demand, for example, the processing of bauxite into aluminum, production of H2 for synthesis of fertilizer and organic chemical synthesis and for transportation fuel and for winter space heating, etc…

          • Bob_Wallace

            If we have a use for the power then we aren’t exactly “over” building. What you’re talking about is identifying a number of dispatchable loads which can be taken offline during times of exceptional demand.

            BTW, we have massive overbuilding now. Our coal plants have CFs between 50% and 60%, we turn off coal plants at times rather than run at their theoretical 85% CF level. Our gas plants have CFs between 20% and 30%, lots of our NG turbines run only a few hours per year.

            With enough dispatchable load we may not see any (or very little) overbuilding of wind and solar.

          • APEppink

            “BTW, we have massive overbuilding now. Our coal plants have CFs between 50% and 60%, we turn off coal plants at times rather than run at their theoretical 85% CF level. Our gas plants have CFs between 20% and 30%, lots of our NG turbines run only a few hours per year.”

            Where in the world do you come up w this nonsense? Baseload coal and combined cycle units typically run at 85% or so capacity, nuke at better than 90. Big coal and nuke plants are very inflexible, kept running, as stautup and planned shutdowns are complex and time consuming, often requiring more than three shifts.
            Fairytales.

          • Bob_Wallace

            From the EIA. You know. The part of the DOE that collects the data for our generating plants.

            http://www.eia.gov/electricity/annual/html/epa_04_03.html

            Coal 57.6% in 2011 and 51.4% in 2012.

            Natural gas 24.2% in 2011 and 28.8% in 2012.

            BTW, nuclear reported a 84.3% CF in 2011 and a 81.4% CF in 2012.

            You’re confusing hypothetical CF with real world CF.

          • APEppink

            No. You’ve no idea whatever what you’re talking abt., knowing only what you read in wiki etc. My assumption is you’ve no utility exp. I was referring to baseload (hi efficiency) units, as I stated explicitly. OF COURSE coal cycling (freq controlling) and NG peakers are run less, much less. It’s ignorant people like you who’re politicians’ and ‘judges’ bread and butter.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Look, Mr. pink.

            I gave you real world numbers. I gave you the EIA link so you could check the numbers for accuracy. I posted nothing from Wiki.

            I suggest you learn more before accusing others of not knowing what they state when you clearly are wrong.

            Clearly we have “overbuilt” coal and NG capacity in order to have enough capacity to service periods of high demand. That is no different than “overbuilding” wind or solar so that we can cover periods of high demand and low resource strength.

            BTW, up-rating ones own comment is childish. That you’ve done that is obvious to anyone who hovers over the ‘1’ you gave yourself.

          • APEppink

            Nobody gonna blow my horn if I don’t.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I agree with you. I can’t see any knowledgeable person up-rating the stuff you’re posting….

          • APEppink

            Yeah. You’re prob right w all the demento libs populating this propaganda site.

          • Bob_Wallace

            OK, I’m going to make this as clear as I can.

            You stop the name calling or you will go away.

            If you want to stick around and engage in a civil exchange of information and ideas you are welcome. It would probably do you some good if you were to get up to date on renewables, but if you’d rather stay ignorant, that’s up to you. But your name calling will not be tolerated.

            Capish?

        • globi

          Gas peakers are definitely an alternatively for rare events.
          And as with gas peakers and flexible demands we already know that overbuilding is fairly inexpensive and already available now.
          The storage myth is unfortunately often used as a false excuse to not invest in renewable energies.

          Tiny Norway already has a hydro storage capacity of 84 TWh (I’m sure North America has much more).
          Let’s say battery costs are $50/kWh (which is significantly less than what Tesla is installing batteries for), it would cost $4200 billion to get to the already existing Norwegian storage capacity.
          With $4200 billion one can build thousands of GW of wind power and produce more wind power than North America is consuming electricity in total.

          So, the world should just invest heavily in renewable power and use storage capacity which is already available now (hydro, gas peakers, flexible demand, transmission etc.) and not bother whether cheap battery technology may eventually be available or not.

        • Burnerjack

          Beacon Energy is in the business of making grid sized flywheel storage. More up front cost/kw/h but very stable, reliable, proven technology. I suppose its just not ‘sexy’ enough. If one believes their blurb, they can not only save costs in overall efficiency and grid stability but also in maintenace of peak demand generators. I used to own stock but lost my shirt, that not withstanding, I still see the concept as viable

          • Bob_Wallace

            Flywheels sound very promising for grid smoothing and frequency control but we’re in the early days of this technology shift and it’s hard to tell what will turn out to be the best, financially.

            If batteries are installed for shifting power from low to high demand hours they would also be available to deal with short term grid needs. Given that they could provide multiple functions they might be the winners. But that’s just a guess at this point in time.

        • eveee

          The conventional system overbuilds. Thats what we call reserves. A renewable system would have renewables reserves. When you think about it, its the same. Maybe amounts and other specifics are different, but they both overbuild. Excess capacity is always needed for load variation and unplanned outages. Maybe we should stop calling it overbuild and start calling it renewable reserves. :)
          It makes sense.

    • ron davison

      Waiting for cost parity…
      a song is playing in the brain…

      Been in the desert with a horse with no name…

      Hard to believe we are really here.
      :)
      A better question… now…is how to get fossil on the horse…

  • Ronald Brakels

    The state of South Australia gets almost 40% of its electricity from wind and rooftop solar with no storage. It also became a non-baseload generator state when its final operating coal plant switched to seasonal load following. (Although one unit is now running most of the time thanks to a massive increase in the price of natural gas that has indirectly stemmed from increased gas production.) We can clearly generate much more electricity from both wind and solar without a problem. And to repeat a point the video made, while it would be nice to have low cost storage, it is not necessary. I’ll also mention that South Australia is a little tongue of arable land surrounded by desert and ocean. Just about anywhere in the contiguous US should be better suited for geographical dispersion of renewables. Really, only Florida looks particularly tongue like to me. Or maybe it looks more like something else? A finger perhaps?

    • globi

      “For once, Florida’s clusterfucker is irrelevant,” declared Jon Stewart on The Daily Show. “It’s like hearing, ‘Good news America, the tumor on your dong is benign.'”

      • ron davison

        got to go look that quote up on youtube…
        :)
        or Ronald
        that is Southerns execs holding up a finger just at the right distance from your face to obscure the map you are looking at.

    • eveee

      Ronald – it’s hard to fully absorb the significance of that statement “non baseload generator state” . Most people are struggling to get their heads around the concepts of ” the myth of baseload power”. Guess it’s a lot easier to see that with South Australia doing it. It’s easier to see how it works. Thanks for reminding. Quite amazing.

  • Dave

    Good info, I look forward to the full talk and info. Is not the almost 50% energy efficiency saving that is assumed (and not talked to in detail) in the Texas example a very large one? Where will that come from?

  • JamesWimberley

    “82% [of senior utility executives] see distributed power generation as an “opportunity” versus only 18% rating it as a “threat.”” So why do they pay lobbyists to make the other case?

    • sault

      The utility sector is historically slow to change and has a reflexive opposition to disruptive technologies. While most utility execs see opportunity in renewables, they still have trillions of dollars in fossil fuel / nuclear assets that have guaranteed returns only as long as they can keep them running. And just like your back yard can be seen as an “opportunity” to grow food by tearing up your grass and turning it into a small farm…man, would it be a pain in the ass to do so. Many of these execs are too old to care about the 20-year transition to renewables that is in the pipeline and just want to rake in their huge salaries + bonuses with the least effort possible. Paying lobbyists to preserve the status quo takes a lot less brainpower and effort than completely upending the centralized utility model.

      Besides, a lot of them are adherents to free market ideology (which is hilarious given their regulated monopoly status) and feel that hiring lobbyists to get the company more money so they can hire more lobbyists ad nauseum is just the invisible hand doing its work and renewable energy companies will start doing the same if the market judges them worthy.

    • ron davison

      Will you give up half your income willingly?
      We need to give the utility industry a soft landing or they will fight tooth and nail.
      Remove profits from wastage, by shifting profits of toaday $ for $ down to consumption, not generation, only allow cost pass through for any power lost in the system.
      Give them a carrot and allow any profits from capitol investments in reducing losses to be tax free, IFF they roll it forward into new efficiency improvements.
      Set up a pool for partial capitol to be returned to those plants that ned to close because of effciency improvements. Those that are most efficient and the least polluting get closed last.
      It will happen anyway, just not as fast, and 50cents/$ is better than scap metal returns.

  • Veritasortruth

    Do a read on the author’s bio and it’s another example of people writing on energy who have no background in the area. The Internet is filled with websites on energy created by people who don’t know an amp from a volt.
    And if Amory Lovins is involved in any way, shape, or form, then you know it’s bogus.

    • Bob_Wallace

      You just Pinocchio-ed your way out of here….

  • Victor Provenzano

    Amory’s presentation is very brief and thus a little incomplete. Here is my article published on Clean Technica in August of 2013, which addresses the question a good bit more comprehensively: http://cleantechnica.com/2013/08/12/intermittency-of-wind-and-solar-is-it-only-intermittently-a-problem/

    • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

      Short-attention-span society. :P

      Thanks for dropping one of my favorite CT article in here again :D

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