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View Diary: Kansas to consider opposition to wind energy (102 comments)

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  •  On your first point (1+ / 0-)
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    the author notes:

    Gas power stations are much faster to start up, and can be online in 45 minutes operating at full efficiency, nevertheless every single start of a gas turbine burns a significant amount of fuel21, energy that is irrevocably lost when its switched off and cools down again. And that means that gas is a two edged sword. Yes it can be held in cold reserve and still be operating in less than an hour, but, conversely if its offline all day it's going to be cold on restart and will need nearly as much fuel to start up as it would have burnt all day in hot standby mode.
    The author similarly rejects a number of other arguments.

    The challenge, it would seem, is to search for convincing counters of comparable authority.

    United We Understand — e MMT unum

    by dorkenergy on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 11:53:14 PM PST

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    •  Uh... (1+ / 0-)
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      That's only true of gas-fired power plants that use gas to heat boilers. Not true of gas turbines, which can be switched on and off very quickly.

      •  My purpose here was to encourage a critical (1+ / 0-)
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        reading of the source -- which examines issues on multiple levels and deserves more than cursory dismissal -- rather than a response with generalities all of us "know".

        In some other life, I could take this on myself but was hoping to encourage others in our community to parse the author's arguments more closely.

        The document is 33 pages, builds cumulatively, and is difficult to abstract.

        Here is the TOC:

        The three necessary concepts
        What is energy and power density, and why is it important?
        The important problem of intermittency
        What is dispatch, and why is it important?
        Nuclear power, dispatch and co-operation with intermittent renewables
        Dispatching with hydro electricity or pumped storage
        Dispatching with fossil fueled power stations
        Capacity factor, and cost benefit analysis
        Where capacity factor originated
        The cost of variability
        Deriving costs of electrical generation
        Costing mixed grids of medium intermittent renewable content.
        Indirect social, financial, resource and environmental costs of intermittency
        The real economics of nuclear power
        Safety, waste disposal,and decommissioning
        A pessimistic view?
        The section on "Dispatching with fossil fueled power stations" is 4 pages. Taking the next step re Dogs are fuzzy's comment, I searched for references to validate the Smith's contention in footnote #21 in the para I quoted, where he indicates a cost of 10,000 Euros (in Ireland) as the cost of gas to start up a medium 600MW gas turbine. (He couldn't locate the cite for that figure.)

        That led me to the following references that cover a mix of related issues. I hope to look more closely at these but might not for quite a while:

        • Parsons-Brinckerhoff's 2008 Cost Estimates for Thermal Peaking Plant
        • Black & Veatch's 2012 report for the NREL
        • Brinkman's 2012 slides on Impacts of Renewable Generation on Fossil Fuel Unit Cycling
        • The Brattle Groups 2011 report on Cost of New Entry Estimates For Combustion-Turbine and Combined-Cycle Plants
        • Schwarzbözl, et al.'s 2005 paper on "Solar gas turbine systems: Design, cost and perspectives" (available from

        If someone(s) here could look through those or provide other references more directly on point on this or his other arguments, I imagine Smith would be willing to engage in serious discourse on the technology, economics, resources, and emissions.

        In any case, this would add significantly to our knowledge base re this line of argument that, I see now, has gained currency elsewhere.

        United We Understand — e MMT unum

        by dorkenergy on Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 08:51:55 PM PST

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        •  I wish that I had the time too (1+ / 0-)
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          This all looks very interesting.

          I did recently read an interview with the head of the German energy department where he debunked the concept that we need "base load" power (read nukes or coal/gas boiler plants) because renewables are intermittent. He said that the experience that Germany has gained from their massive use of wind and solar, is that they don't need base load power - they need "back-up power", and he said that gas turbines work quite well for that purpose. Similar to what I need at my off-grid solar house (via small gas generator).

          Of course energy storage technologies would be better. Batteries and flywheels are an option, but need much fuller development to be practical. I've run my house on batteries/solar for almost 30 years now, but that is not practical on a large scale.

          •  Glad you agree (1+ / 0-)
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            On your first point, I had also found this.

            I think I'll try to prompt one of the dKos groups, perhaps kosowatt


            United We Understand — e MMT unum

            by dorkenergy on Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 10:08:29 PM PST

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            •  Great article (0+ / 0-)

              Thanks for the link.

              We are going to see a lot of shill pushback from the nuclear and coal industries as baseload power becomes less useful.

              •  If you have the "energy" for this: (1+ / 0-)
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                here's another instance of pushback, directed a bit differently, from Carbon Democracy by Timothy Mitchell:

                The need to conserve environmental resources and protect them for the long term also helped with another calculation. For the oil companies, the large increase in oil prices carried a risk. It threatened to make affordable a rival source of energy, nuclear power. However, if the oil companies could force producers of nuclear power to introduce into the price of the energy they sold a payment to cover its long-term environmental effects — the cost of decontaminating reactors when they went out of service and of storing spent fuel for millennia — it would remain more expensive than oil. To promote such calculations, the oil companies joined the effort to frame the environment as a new object of politics, and to define it and calculate it in particular ways. Like the economy, the environment was not simply an external reality principle — against which the oil industry had to contend. It was a set of forces and calculations that rival groups attempted to mobilize. (p. 420)
                I highly recommend this read in its entirety.

                United We Understand — e MMT unum

                by dorkenergy on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 12:02:06 PM PST

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                •  That is actually very funny (0+ / 0-)

                  So the oil companies wanted to hurt the nuclear industry by accounting for the environmental cost of nuclear power production.

         if the environmental cost of using fossil fuels, like ...ahem...climate change caused by CO2 emissions, were included in the cost of the fuel product...

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