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cross-posted from the Sunday Train origin station Voices on the Square

In Baseload power is a myth: even intermittent renewables will work, Mark Diesendorf, Asst. Professor and Deputy Director of the Institute of Environmental Studies at the University of New South Wales (Australia), writes:

The old myth was based on the incorrect assumption that base-load demand can only be supplied by base-load power stations; for example, coal in Australia and nuclear in France. However, the mix of renewable energy technologies in our computer model, which has no base-load power stations, easily supplies base-load demand. Our optimal mix comprises wind 50-60%; solar PV 15-20%; concentrated solar thermal with 15 hours of thermal storage 15-20%; and the small remainder supplied by existing hydro and gas turbines burning renewable gases or liquids. (Contrary to some claims, concentrated solar with thermal storage does not behave as base-load in winter; however, that doesn’t matter.)
Anyone who engages in online discussion on issues involving renewable energy for any length of time will encounter the myth that renewable energy is unreliable in supplying base-load demand. This myth is pushed into the discussion with substantial financial investment, directly and indirectly, by vested interests in continued reliance on the Global Suicide Pact power sources of coal, petroleum, and natural gas. Writing from Australia, Mark Diesendorf flags the use of the Murdoch press empire in propagating this myth. Here in the United States, the myth is promoted by both Big Coal and Big Oil funded propaganda mills ~ including those libertarian "think tanks" that argue against the government getting involved in defending our economy from the prospect of collapse in the face of climate chaos ...

... because the "free market", together with billions of dollars of government subsidies for fossil fuel industry and tens or hundreds of billions of unfunded third party costs of fossil fuel consumption, will surely choose best.

Status Quo Bias and the Myth of Baseload Power

So-called "baseload" demand is a fiction. To be more specific, it is a social fiction. Total demand fluctuates during the day, and the height of peak demand and of trough demand during the day fluctuates from one day to the next and from one season to the next. One can draw a line at the average floor for power demand during a twenty four hour day during a season and call that "baseload" demand ... but in reality, there are no special baseload electrons needed to supply baseload power demands, following load electrons needed to supply following load  power demands, and peak load electrons needed to supply peak load power demands.

In other words, the electrons needed to meet demands for power are fungible.

Instead of Baseload Power, what exists are baseload generating plants. The "Myth of Baseload Power" is simply that baseload generating plants are required to meet the part of power demand that we presently serve using baseload power generating plants.

The Baseload Power Myth is, in other words, that the way we do things now is the only way things can be done.

Put in those terms, its obvious how the Baseload Power Myth serves existing vested interest groups. If people can be conned into believing, or equally well bought into pretending to believe, the Baseload Power Myth, then it becomes possible to pretend that the most cost effective established renewable energy technologies are unable to perform as the basis of renewable, net-carbon-free electrical power supply, because the way that they work is by investing in equipment to harvest abundant, widely available power that is presently going to waste.

After all, those abundant, widely available renewable power sources are "intermittent", which is to say volatile: they are "use it or lose it" power, and so obviously cannot be relied upon to always "be there" when needed. Because the way we have provided that kind of (almost) always there power is with a system of baseload power generators, following demand power generators, and peak demand power generators, and we cannot ever work out how to do anything in any new ways.

To be fair, that last part, the assumption of global technological incompetence in solving existing problems in new ways, is never said. It is, however, always implied by the Baseload Myth, since if we are not technologically incompetent, and are free to solve the problem in the most effective way possible ... its not a problem.



Baseload Power Comes from Capital and Operating Cost Comparisons

While Baseload Power is a social fiction, it is still grounded in physical reality in power generation.

Suppose that you have a power source which is, in  MacGill & Dieseldorf (2013: 9), capable of producing power at a variable (operating and fuel) cost $8-$9/MWh. However, it has a capital cost of $3,000-$4,000 per kW capacity. Suppose you built your entire generating supply with that technology, operating off of black or brown (anthracite or bituminous) coal. Some of that capacity would be running almost all the time, some would be fired up to act as spinning reserve but only operated providing power for a few hours per day.

So how do you get to a more efficient system. Well, replace the kW capacity used the least often by Open-Cycle Gas Turbine power plants, with a capital cost of $700-$800/kW capacity. The variable cost is $12/MWh, but for a certain portion of the load, the capital cost savings more than offsets the higher variable cost during peak demand periods.

And then there is an intermediate fueled technology, Combined Cycle Gas Turbine, which uses the heat from exhaust gas to run a secondary thermal power plant, brings the variable cost down to $5/MWh, but pushes the capital cost up to $1,000-1,200/kW capacity. That is a dominant cost picture, but Australia does not have as abundant Natural Gas supply as coal supply, so you build the gas power plants up to the natural gas supply available and provide the rest from coal. Because of the lower capital cost of the Combined Cycle power plant, you try to run the coal power plants as continuously as possible, and use the natural gas generating plants to cope with swings in capacity.

If Australian domestic natural gas exhaustion was proceeding at a more rapid pace, the coal would drop out of the mix and the Combined Cycle Natural Gas generators would be the "baseload" power. If Australia had pursued a extensive nuclear program (as France embarked in decades ago), with the even greater capital costs and conceivably lower variable costs for nuclear power, nuclear power might be the baseload.

There is, in other words, nothing intrinsic about "Baseload Power". It emerges from the mix of power demands and power generating sources in use, and:

  • change the mix of power generating sources, and it can entirely disappear.


 
A System With No Baseload Power

MacGill & Dieseldorf (2013: 9) do not set out to make an argument about Baseload Power. They set out to estimate what would be the least cost way to provide a 100% sustainable, renewable energy supply for the Australian National Energy Market (NEM). The NEM covers five of the six Australian States and the Capital Territory, which were a half century ago a set of five free-standing state-operated power generating systems.

Their model uses wind, solar, hydro and biomass power availability from 2010, broken up according to the five regions of the NEM. They use a "genetic algorithm" to determine the least cost mix of 100% renewable power, taking into account the limits in the availability of hydropower and biogas. They perform their simulation at two discount rates ~ 5% and 10% ~ and with two sets of costs for renewable energy, based on estimated ranges of likely costs of various renewable power sources in 2030, with "low cost" taking the low end of the range and "high cost" taking the high end. I will give the results in terms of percentage energy supplied, with percentage power capacity in parentheses, for the low and high cost results at 5% interest rates:

  • Wind: 48%-59% (32%-41%)
  • Photovoltaic: 15%-20% (24%-28%)
  • Concentrated Solar Thermal: 14%-22% (8%-12%)
  • Pumped hydro: 0.2%-0.4% (1.9%-2.1%)
  • Hydro: 5.4%-5.6% (4.3%-4.6%)
  • Gas Turbine: 6.2%-6.5% (20-21%)
  • Spilled: 4%-12%

They also estimate a benchmark fossil fueled system for comparison. Under their comparison, the 100% renewable power system would cost on the order of $10b more for Australia per year than the fossil fuel system, with a carbon cost of $50/ton-$100/ton sufficient for cost break-even between the two. However, that benchmark system includes existing subsidies to the fossil fuel industry, which is on the order of about $10b/year in Australia, so shifting the fossil fuel subsidy to renewable power would itself be sufficient to cover the gap, and any appreciable carbon price would put the 100% renewable system ahead.

This is, of course, without including the fact that allegiance to the fossil fuel power industry is a social suicide pact for any economy that hopes to survive until 2100 AD as a subcontinental industrial society, and without including the substantial third party costs which act as a de facto tax in kind paid to the fossil fueled power system by the population of the societies addicted to fossil fuel generated power.

Now, this is Australia, not the US. The Australian context is particularly favorable for solar power, and particularly for Concentrated Solar Thermal, with thermal storage capacity built into CST. And one way to read earlier research by the UNSW Institute of Environmental Studies is that for part of the year, the thermal storage of CST would be working as baseload power supply during winter.

However, in this new modelling, that goes away. There is no baseload power in this system at all.


 
Where Did The Baseload Power Go?

Someone used to the current system, and thinking in those terms, might ask, "where did the baseload power go?"

But remember, Baseload Power as such does not exist. Rather "Baseload Power Generating Plant" is a role that certain power generators play because of where they fit into the economics of power generation given the mix of available power sources.

So rather than Baseload Power "going" anywhere, it's rather a case that with this mix of power sources, the "baseload power" role simply never emerges.

Wind and Solar Photovoltaic power are the bottom of the merit order. They are "use it or lose it" power, and the cost of one extra Megawatt when the wind blows harder or the sun is shining brighter is very low. So you use them first.

Then you use Concentrated Solar Thermal, which is "use it soon or lose it", but its generation is well correlated with peak power demand, so you normally need it when it is available, or need it not long after it becomes available, or there is some neighboring state that needs it.

And on many days, and during many nights, both peak demand and "baseload" demand, that's enough. However, there are overcast days followed by relatively still nights when that's not enough. That's when you tap (1) surpluses available from neighboring power regions and (2) the dispatchable power supplies from hydro, reverse pumped hydro, and biogas Gas Turbine.

In their least cost 100% renewable system, the majority of "back up" power comes from conventional hydro and biogas, and only a modest amount from the stored energy in reverse pumped hydro. 99.9%+ Power Availability is achieved with dispatchable capacity that is roughly 60% of peak power demand. When they assume the higher cost of renewable power sources, which would include the higher cost estimate for power storage, it emerges that it is more cost effective to over-supply wind power to increase the wind power during "slower" periods, even at the cost spilling 12% of that power. However, if we prove to be more competent technologically, and are operating on the lower end of their renewable power estimates, then the least cost portfolio only "over-investing" in volatile power sources to the point of spilling 4% of our total sustainable renewable power generated.

One element of this model that is of particular interest for the Sunday Train and Steel Interstate proposal is that it includes region to region energy transfers. This is a key element of the system, since with a National Energy Market covering 90% of the Australian population, a particular state can have a shortfall of volatile energy sources, but if at the same time another state has a surplus, there is no need to dispatch power from the limited supply of conventional hydro and biogas.

But in any event, although this study is not setting out to debunk the Baseload Power myth, it does so quite effectively. Simply by pursuing the most cost-efficient sustainable power system, the end result is an energy portfolio that does not have any power generators that play the role of "Baseload Power Supply".

And this is an important point. If a sustainable, renewable system was designed to serve a Baseload Power role, that would be a more expensive system than it has to be. In other words, someone insisting that sustainable, renewable power perform this role, is imposing a hidden tax on sustainable, renewable power. And is therefore, wittingly or unwittingly, an accomplice with the Climate Kamikazes and their Industrial Society Suicide Pact.


 
Conversations, Considerations and Contemplations

As always, rather looking for some overarching conclusion, I now open the floor to the comments of those reading.

If you have an issue on some other area of sustainable transport or sustainable energy production, please feel free to start a new main comment. To avoid confusion among those who might be tempted to yell "off topic!", feel free to use the shorthand "NT:" in the subject line when introducing this kind of new topic.

And if you have a topic in sustainable transport or energy that you want me to take a look at in the coming month, be sure to include that as well.

Originally posted to Voices on the Square on Sun Aug 11, 2013 at 06:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Climate Hawks and Sunday Train.

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Comment Preferences

  •  What do You Believe ... (48+ / 0-)

    ... what do you believe, what do you believe is true?

    You take all the trouble you can afford ... at least you won't have time to be bored.

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    by BruceMcF on Sun Aug 11, 2013 at 05:30:58 PM PDT

  •  how would electric cars affect this? (6+ / 0-)

    I mean if you had millions of electric cars (with solar panels on the roofs?) acting as huge storage batteries, hooked up whenever possible, buying power at the cheapest times, at times even selling back power to the grid.

    This Rover crossed over.. Willie Nelson, written by Dorothy Fields

    by Karl Rover on Sun Aug 11, 2013 at 06:11:52 PM PDT

  •  Your diary is an attempt to describe an electric (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    alain2112, truong son traveler

    utility engineering resource plan using the methods of politics
    and economics rather than by the methods of engineering.

    The Australian example isn't necessarily relevant to
    U.S. electric utility conditions, particularly in northern climates.

    You assume energy storage techniques and methods either not in wide use or not readily expandable in all situations.

    Wind and solar are generation-dispatched, not operator dispatched.

    If your diary is intended to say that all of the base-load electric utility generation stations can all be shut down and substituted with wind and solar while ensuring that all peak load demands can be met.....I don't think you've demonstrated an engineering argument for that claim.

    •  It can be done ... (11+ / 0-)

      ... explaining to engineers why it can be done is likely something best left to engineers. The link to the research is there, feel free to click through, download the PDF, read it, and write a diary that expresses it in rhetoric that is more comfortable for engineers.

      As far as:

      If your diary is intended to say that all of the base-load electric utility generation stations can all be shut down and substituted with wind and solar while ensuring that all peak load demands can be met.....I don't think you've demonstrated an engineering argument for that claim.
      ... its not clear that you read the diary. 100% renewable power with 99.9%+ power availability has already been established in the research literature to be feasible at some cost, so the approach of MacGill and Dieseldorf is to simulate various 100% renewable energy portfolio using an adaptive genetic search algorithm to find the least cost portfolio.

      As I specify in the "A System With No Baseload Power" section, it does not consist entirely of wind, solar PV and CST, so I do not see that someone who had in fact read the diary would suggest that I am talking about an energy portfolio consisting of nothing but wind, solar PV and CST.

      The energy storage techniques that they assume are all presently available technology, and they constrain the energy portfolios to limit the simulation to the available amounts.

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      by BruceMcF on Sun Aug 11, 2013 at 06:32:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I think that if we get a medium high Carbon Tax (5+ / 0-)

      many of those engineering problems will shake out in no more than five years. Once the focus becomes sufficient, I wouldn't bet against the results.

      There can be no protection locally if we're content to ignore the fact that there are no controls globally.

      by oldpotsmuggler on Sun Aug 11, 2013 at 08:19:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The economic & political is more fundamental. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      marsanges, ModerateJosh

      The description of this diary as "attempting to describe an electric utility engineering plan using the methods of politics and economics" is false ...

      ... since this diary is describing recent research in renewable energy from researchers who publish in peer reviewed journals in the field.

      With respect to your four points tossed out in lieu of a coherent critique:

      (1) And the European example "isn't necessarily" relevant to US electric utility conditions, particularly in southern climes.

      But (1a) its certainly relevant to the myth that Baseload as an intrinsic part of the engineering problem that are set by utilities in pursuit of commercial objectives under rules set by politicians, many of them avowedly in pursuit of economic objectives and (1b) given the share of population in Australia living in Victoria and Tassie, and the share of population in the US living in the Sunbelt, its a lot more relevant than many people laboring under "Crocodile Dundee" stereotypes are likely to realize.

      (2) CST with heat storage has been deployed ~ demanding that it be "widely deployed" before it can be considered a relevant option is quite obviously one more example of the status quo bias already described in the diary.

      (3) Wind and solar power being generator dispatched rather than operator dispatched is a non-sequitur in this context, it suggests you didn't bother to actually read the diary.

      (4) I have already pointed out that your "if the diary is intended to say" is a misrepresentation of what the diary actually does argue, so that point rather.

      It is not the main point of this diary, but the simulated portfolio delivers power to meet the historical demand hour-by-hour over a one year simulated period with 99.98% availability, which is the actual NEM design target. If you wish to argue that it fails to meet that standard, download the paper and address its claims.

      This diary, however, is focused on the more fundamental problems, which are political and economic. The engineering challenges of developing sufficient sustainable and renewable power sources to tap available domestic US sustainable, renewable energy for 100% renewable supply have already been overcome. At this point, the engineering challenges are doing so more efficiently, both per technology and, since diversity of power sources improves system efficiency, with a greater diversity of available sources of energy.

      Far more fundamental than the engineering problems, at this point, is the political problem of winning support for some set of policies that can deliver a 100% sustainable/renewable carbon neutral electricity supply.

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      by BruceMcF on Mon Aug 12, 2013 at 10:19:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  In the diary's reference to biogas fired turbines (5+ / 0-)

    I am assuming the biogas comes from sources like methane capture at landfills, feed lots, and so on.  Is that so.  That could take a lot of biogas.

    “The answer must be, I think, that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.” ― Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

    by 6412093 on Sun Aug 11, 2013 at 07:10:51 PM PDT

    •  Yes, as Australia is a ... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      6412093, Shockwave, Calamity Jean

      ... substantial net livestock exporter on a per capita basis ~ to Southeast Asia, South Asia and the Middle East, in particular ~ so they would certainly have greater per capita biogas capacity than the US.\

      We would have substantially more biogas than we now do under an agressive GHG mitigation regime, but not to this scale. Their simulation is calibrated to Australian capacities, so a US simulation would not be likely to have quite so much biogas share.

      In other words, this is not a one-size-fits-all approach, this is a tailored fit approach. This specific study focuses on the energy portfolio that fits Australia. The energy portfolio that would best fit the United States will not have the same ratios.

      For instance, the US has substantially better off-shore wind power resources (the Australian simulation is on-shore only) and there is no run-of-river hydro in their simulation, where the US has substantially greater inland river flow than Australia, the driest populated continent on average. And the US has substantial prospective biocoal feedstocks.

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      by BruceMcF on Sun Aug 11, 2013 at 07:35:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  This is an important diary (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BruceMcF, Shockwave

        because of our baseload power-based grid system, and its implications for 100% carbon-free electrical generation.

         I was surprised to see a diary on Germany that showed that their roof-mounted PV systems were so widespread, that dispersed solar was reliable enough to provide a large percentage of daytime base load.

        I believe we could escape most use of baseload fossil fueled power plants, but it would require massive overbuild of solar and wind, combined with another million miles of transmission lines to wheel the power around the grid, as needed.

        Say what? biocoal feedstocks?  I don't really get good feelings from the air permit applications I read for plants that offer to gasify coal.

        “The answer must be, I think, that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.” ― Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

        by 6412093 on Sun Aug 11, 2013 at 07:51:11 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Distributed production obviates the need for more (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Shockwave, BruceMcF, 6412093

          transmission lines, not increaes it.

          There can be no protection locally if we're content to ignore the fact that there are no controls globally.

          by oldpotsmuggler on Sun Aug 11, 2013 at 08:21:18 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Not really ... (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Shockwave, Calamity Jean, 6412093

            ... for the grid to grid transmission, the distributed production will still be generating a surplus in some regions and a shortage in others, so the grid to grid transmission lines are still required.

            Distributed production does economize on the local power distribution lines.

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            by BruceMcF on Sun Aug 11, 2013 at 08:32:32 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  But "another million miles of new lines"? n/t (0+ / 0-)

              There can be no protection locally if we're content to ignore the fact that there are no controls globally.

              by oldpotsmuggler on Mon Aug 12, 2013 at 09:37:04 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  The millions of miles of lines ... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                oldpotsmuggler

                ... seems to confuse the local transmission from the producers to the substation with the grid to grid transmission being talked about here.

                Depending on the number of wind turbines, a single wind farm produces the power for hundred to thousands of homes, so connecting wind farms to the grid doesn't require "millions of miles" of lines. And even in the wind farm, multiple wind turbines share the same line, so there are fewer local lines connecting from the wind turbines to the grid connect line than there are wind turbines.

                Even fewer lines are require by the Concentrated Thermal Solar, since the power is delivered from the panels or tower to the generator in a heat transmitting medium, and there is just the one grid connect line delivering the power to the grid.

                And the distributed Solar PV doesn't require any additional lines, it just runs the power back the other direction from the house, apartment or commercial building. Typically it functions to reduce load at the substation level rather than feeding power into the main substation to station grid.

                And for the grid to grid 10,000 to 30,000 miles of grid to grid interconnect lines would be ample for the US for the kind of regional import/export discussed in the paper.

                Which is why I think the millions and millions of miles is confusing the local transmission lines from the substations with the main power transmission lines and with grid interconnect lines. There are substantially fewer main transmission lines, operating at substantially higher voltage, and fewer still interconnect lines ... few enough that they can be provided with point to point Ultra High Voltage Direct Current lines, which have much lower line losses over the thousand mile scale than AC.

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                by BruceMcF on Mon Aug 12, 2013 at 09:51:43 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  And we should be able to get enough additional (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  BruceMcF

                  energy efficiency work done that reduced demand effectively offsets increased demand for any number of years into the future (now, electrifying transportation changes that equation some, but still).

                  There can be no protection locally if we're content to ignore the fact that there are no controls globally.

                  by oldpotsmuggler on Mon Aug 12, 2013 at 11:20:44 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

          •  Sorry (0+ / 0-)

            I erred by discussing millions of mile of new transmission lines, that was a vast exaggeration.  There's only 200,000 miles of existing high voltage lines now.

            Nonetheless, there are about 3000 existing, very large fossil-fuel fired power plants to be replaced.

            There could very well be 30,000 new renewable energy plants built as replacements.  Since new wind plants could be somewhat isolated,  10 miles of new line per plant could add up.  Some lines could be reused of course.

            We also need extensive new interconnections between grids.  In the Northwest, we have to "waste" either hydropower or wind energy because we can't transmit it to Chicago.

            “The answer must be, I think, that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.” ― Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

            by 6412093 on Mon Aug 12, 2013 at 10:21:32 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  The more efficient ... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Shockwave

          ... approach for biocoal would be Direct Carbon Fuel Cells, as documented a while back by engineer-poet, but given that about half of the shortfall of load from volatile power sources is predictable a day or more in advance, one could well use the most efficient of our existing coal power plants for biocoal power.

          Remember that the limit for dammed hydropower is the total annual capacity, but the hydro dams are not designed as "baseload" power to spread that capacity across 365 hours, 24 hours a day, but rather to be able to deliver that power as peak power on demand. So the dammed hydropower the US already has offers a much larger share of power generating capacity than its share of total energy supply.

          Its not a "massive" overbuild of solar and wind that is required, it is a capacity to provide 60% of peak power demand from dispatchable power sources plus, in the Australian case, a 4% to 20% overbuild.

          But that dispatchable capacity does not have to be 60% of energy supply: the average energy to cover for the low energy days is much less than the energy required on the low energy days. So the dispatchable power that has a limited energy budget is used to fill in the gaps of the volatile energy supply, and the volatile energy supply only has to be overbuilt to the point where the annual gap can be covered by that budget.

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          by BruceMcF on Sun Aug 11, 2013 at 08:28:52 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Regarding the transmission lines ... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Shockwave, Egalitare

          ... the Steel Interstate proposal does address that element of it. The Australian study notes that new transmission capacity is less problematic as far as NIMBY opposition in Australia, but the Steel Interstate system would put the UHVDC lines above the train electric power supply, so that can be provided primarily on already existing transport right of way.

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          by BruceMcF on Sun Aug 11, 2013 at 08:40:22 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  One of the issues in Germany (4+ / 0-)

          is that its relatively Northern latitude (Munich in the South is about the latitude of Toronto), means that solar pv is most abundant in Summer when demand is lowest, as with a temperate climate, there is little demand for A/C.

          What is interesting however is that the curves for solar potential and wind potential are almost perfectly inverse, both on a daily basis and an annual basis. That is when the sun shines, the wind is calm, and when the wind blows there is less sun.

          This creates a relatively constant generating capacity when the the different sources are balanced correctly.

          Of course you can have the occasional cloudy windless day in Winter, when you would need to kick in some combined gas turbines to make up the difference.

          One last point is that Germany has extremely strict building codes for new builds, which results in very energy efficient buildings. There are no wood framed, dry walled McMansions here. New buildings are all concrete or brick with 8 inch styrofoam insulation, and triple sealed, double glazed windows.

          Thus my annual consumption for heat and hot water for a 2000 sq ft house is around 12kwh/day on average - peaking at around 20kwh when it is minus 10 C in Winter and dropping to 2 Kwh/day in Summer.  Our electronic media devices probably consume more.

          •  And Germany is ... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            peterfallow

            ... on the geographic scale of a smaller Australian state ... include a similarly aggressive sustainable renewable roll-out in all of its neighbors and sufficient grid interconnect transmission, and it can import hydro from Scandinavia & Switzerland. As a technical challenge, EU-wide 100% sustainable is an easier ask than Germany-wide 100% sustainable.

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            by BruceMcF on Mon Aug 12, 2013 at 08:51:24 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Really good relevant book (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BruceMcF, oldpotsmuggler, raoul78

    "Sustainable Energy Without the Hot Air", David MacKay.

    Free online, http://www.withouthotair.com

    He covers the issue of how to provide a guaranteed minimum power supply with renewables.

    He makes the numbers accessible and uses them to cut through various errors.

    Anyone considering a dog for personal safety should treat that decision as seriously as they would buying a gun.

    by Dogs are fuzzy on Sun Aug 11, 2013 at 07:25:19 PM PDT

  •  We used that as a text in a course last winter. I (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BruceMcF

    thought that I might like it as much as you do, and I tried, but, in the end, it just didn't do it for me. At this point in my life I'm finding it hard to have patience with people who try to be neutral on the subject of nuclear power.

    There can be no protection locally if we're content to ignore the fact that there are no controls globally.

    by oldpotsmuggler on Sun Aug 11, 2013 at 08:24:32 PM PDT

    •  I can surely sympathize with ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kurt

      ... a book author that wants to maximize the reach of their message regarding sustainable, renewable power.

      For myself, living in a country who's government does what it does overseas, I'm not confident in the security of light water reactor fuel cycles. I don't know enough regarding thorium fuel cycles to be sure whether its safe with respect to proliferation risks or simply relatively more safe, but I'd be willing to back development work to find out.

      Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

      by BruceMcF on Sun Aug 11, 2013 at 09:04:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Australia seems to produce only 9.64% of its... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    truong son traveler, BruceMcF

    ...electricity from renewable sources, worse than the US 10.15% which is already very bad compared to most countries.

    Will this change?

    Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

    by Shockwave on Sun Aug 11, 2013 at 09:12:51 PM PDT

    •  That is a policy question. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Shockwave, Calamity Jean

      The majority of that for both Oz and the US is hydropower, and as dry as Australia is, its not surprising that the US has more hydro dams than they do.

      As far as wind, solar and other sustainable renewable power sources ... just as for the US, Australia pursues it, they can have it.

      Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

      by BruceMcF on Sun Aug 11, 2013 at 09:59:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Study should take weather data for past 50 yrs (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    onanthebarbarian

    or more to estimate both electric power demand (for current day Australia) and supply to get an estimate supply capacity for 100% and 99% coverage.  

    The linked study only looked at weather for 2010, so a wider sampling of weather sequences is important for a good analysis on the sizing of capacity and its mix.

    The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

    by nextstep on Sun Aug 11, 2013 at 09:18:21 PM PDT

    •  Weather data for the past 50 years ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Calamity Jean

      ... is going to include a lot of information that is quite out of date ... after all, the climate is changing on us. And of course, particularly for wind turbines, Australia was not collecting the information to determine their productivity on a day by day basis in 1960. By the time we get to 2030, we'll have had a decade and a half more information base to go on.

      Note that for this simulation, the way to perform the analysis for five or ten years is to do it again, five or ten times, for which you do have to do it the first time.

      Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

      by BruceMcF on Sun Aug 11, 2013 at 09:56:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  As long as the discussion is decades... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BruceMcF

        ...airborne wind will probably be deemed "economically deploy-able" by 2030. Google's purchase of Makani Power is a sign that the technology is close to "ready for prime time."

        When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative. --Martin Luther King Jr.

        by Egalitare on Mon Aug 12, 2013 at 02:43:06 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes, the portfolio in the study ... (0+ / 0-)

          ... is all presently deployable technology, which is another element of why its a conservative estimate ... we don't know which technologies presently under development will be cost effective to be deployable ten years from now, but there will surely be something, and adding it to the mix will strengthen the portfolio.

          Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

          by BruceMcF on Mon Aug 12, 2013 at 08:46:15 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Repeating data sets does nothing. (0+ / 0-)

        The same data set for weather will just give the same results.

        A much larger sample of annual weather is needed than just the year 2010.

        The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

        by nextstep on Mon Aug 12, 2013 at 10:20:52 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I didn't say repeating the simulation on the ... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ModerateJosh

          ... same data. I said repeating the simulation on new data.

          The simulation can't be done over 1960-1990 data, since the data is incomplete. After all, weather data is only part of the data set ~ we don't know wind speeds at 100 meters, for one thing, and without that, the simulation cannot generate the power availability from the wind farms.

          But the point I was making is that to get the understanding of how variations in weather year to year affects the results, what you would do is to rerun the simulation on 2011 data, 2012 data, 2013 data, and so on, and look at the changes in porfolio that is optimal for the different years.

          To do that, first you have to be able to do it for a single year, which is the research that this paper reports.

          None of this affects the basic argument in this diary regarding the myth of baseload power, since if baseload power was in reality the intrinsic feature of power supply that it is in the myth, then it wouldn't disappear from the power supply system from any power supply system from any place from any year. An optimum for one year in one country that has no baseload supply role is enough to debunk the myth.

          Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

          by BruceMcF on Mon Aug 12, 2013 at 10:34:09 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you. NT (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BruceMcF

    "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

    by HeyMikey on Mon Aug 12, 2013 at 04:27:43 AM PDT

  •  The inevitable paradigm shift is coming. N/T (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BruceMcF
  •  You are wrong mostly. (0+ / 0-)

    Baseload is not defined the way you wish to define it. It doesn't stem from the existence of 'baseload' plants.

    I worked in the power production industry for 20 years. I'm familiar with grid operations to plant operations. Baseload has always, and still is, used differently depending on the context.

    First, the key word is 'load'. It's not 'generation'. Thus was are talking about literally the 'base' amount of electricity on the system at it's most minimum period. Either daily, or, weekly and monthly, etc. It is a definition OF the load used in that chart provided by Bruce. It's the minimum round-the-clock usage of power (defined here as "electricity").

    A baseload power plant is used differently depending on the context. I worked at a plant what was both a 'baseload' plant, meaning it could provide generation to satisfy the baseload need of the grid at any particular point. It was also "RMR", meaning "Required Must Run"...meaning were not allowed to come off line for any reason. My plant, by the way, was a convention gas fired steam plant. Small by today's standard, 210 MWs.

    The generation of my plant was considered "Baseloaded" in that were were RMRed and could provide as much power as out plant could produce when it was needed (unlike renewables without gas turbine or base loaded plants).

    Baseload also meant at the production end, the RMR signification. Baseload can also mean "Full load" to a power plant operator though not used quite in that way. The dispatchers would say "go to baseload" and that meant full load, or 210 MWs.

    AT the end of the day, any grid system, especially if the generation is distributed, has to provide a minimum, that is, amount of generation to the grid. Thats is simply called baseload. Not a myth.

    David

    Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

    by davidwalters on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 10:38:59 AM PDT

    •  Yes, that is another way of saying ... (0+ / 0-)

      ... that "Baseload" power is a role that may or may not be required depending on the composition of the entire portfolio of generating sources, rather than an intrinsic feature of any effective power supply system, which is the meaning that "baseload" carries in the "but windpower / PV / run-of-river hydro / tidal power (etc.) can't serve as baseload because its intermittent!!!" claim.

      There is, after all, no grid-dispatchable "Require Must Run" generation in the cost-optimized 100% renewable system that these researchers arrived at. So intermittency is no intrinsic impediment on providing a majority of the power consumed by a 100% sustainable, renewable electric power supply.

      Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

      by BruceMcF on Wed Aug 14, 2013 at 01:44:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  BTW ... (0+ / 0-)

      ... sorry that I couldn't tip the comment, yesterday was class and I crashed fairly early, so 24 hours had elapsed before I got to the comment.

      Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

      by BruceMcF on Wed Aug 14, 2013 at 01:46:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Another point. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BruceMcF

    We understand that without massive utility level storage...or perhaps serious distributive battery storage...none of this matters OR one's "100% carbon free" grid becomes a sad lie. The huge "intermediate"  building out of gas turbines around the world is proof of this. There is a reason folks why gas companies in particular are fans of wind and solar. They Know it's no threat to their continued profits.

    But on storage. I'm glad BruceF begins to discuss this here. It doesn't exist as of now. And it's a major hurdle.

    Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

    by davidwalters on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 12:35:19 PM PDT

    •  We need to understand ... (0+ / 0-)

      ... that there is a need for ~60% of peak demand as dispatchable capacity.

      How much of that capacity needs to be storage depends on the effective dispatchable capacity of grid-dispatchable power sources, given the total annual availability of energy from the grid-dispatchable sources and the total annual energy required to be provided from grid-dispactable sources.

      In the cost-optimized portfolio in the study for available Australian sustainable, renewable power sources and Australian demands, the actual utility level storage is quite modest.

      Of course, the solar/wind resource per capita in the Australian case may be more tilted to the Concentrated Solar Thermal than in the US, which would mean more intra-day dispatchable power available from the CST, which would mean less need to use existing dammed hydro power for intra-day dispatchable power, which would mean less need for reverse pumped hydro.

      Obviously if "massive" storage capacity is required for the US, then with appropriate institutional rules it can be provided as rapidly as required by the rate at which we can roll out the sustainable, renewable power sources, but it cannot be assumed that "massive" storage capacity is required without fitting the portfolio of grid-dispatchable energy sources to the gaps between demand and abundant volatile sustainable, renewable energy sources, and the optimal amount oversupply of the abundant volatile sources.

      Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

      by BruceMcF on Wed Aug 14, 2013 at 01:35:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Transition (0+ / 0-)

    The author describes the feasibility of a 100% renewable electricity grid but the reality is that we will have legacy carbon and nuclear plants for a very long time to come. The real significance of this finding is that there is absolutely no need to build MORE carbon/nuclear plants to meet increased demand or to replace obsolescent plant. ALL NEW capacity should be renewable and gradually integrated into the existing power mix. Anyone building a new carbon plant now is risking very low utilization levels (not to mention carbon price volatility), and possibly a rather shorter lifespan than might be required to payback capital costs.

    From a national policy point of view, renewable energy increases energy security, creates employment in often very low employment zones, reduces import costs, reduces the impact of carbon price shocks, and frees up scarce carbon resources for tasks where there are no easy renewable substitutes - e.g. air travel. The only losers are the operators of existing carbon/nuclear plants who may not get quite the plant utilization levels they were expecting to optimize their ROCE. Some may choose to retire some plants early but with increasing demand that may not be a problem for some time to come. The wise investors will ensure they have an increasing mix of renewable power sources in their energy investment mix.

    •  Frank, I think you have it wrong, or, rather (0+ / 0-)

      you are weighing different things that you should reconsider.

      First, in terms of climate change, it's not enough to "wait" for plants to be used up and simply replace them with renewables. The inability as of now AND the foreseeable future to contain any form of storage dooms renewables to a practical ceiling. Or one has to over build so much as to make it impossible financially to covert to renewables, despite the myths asserted here.

      We need to end fossil. And this brings in the second point: "CARBON" plants you noted above. Well, yes. But we are building out gas plants at quite a rate. It seems that gas turbines and renewables go hand in hand. That's a real problem when trying to lower the use of fossil fuel plants.

      Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

      by davidwalters on Wed Aug 14, 2013 at 08:19:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Gas plants are currently experiencing (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BruceMcF

        a building boom because gas prices are low (due to shale gas etc.) and capital costs are relatively low. They are thus profitable at very low capacity utilization rates and are also very flexible in terms of meeting sudden spikes in demand. There will always be a role for very flexible plants to meet unplanned demand fluctuations at the very top end of the demand curve. Hydro and pump storage may be able to meet this in some markets but not necessarily all. If and when there is a mass switchover to electric cars using battery and Ultra capacitor storage largely charged overnight when there is overcapacity in the system, then the demand curve may also be flattened or smoothed somewhat.

        However the author's key point is that even intermittent renewable sources contribute to "baseload" (however you define it) as well as peak/intermediate load and the larger the geographical spread of wind/solar farms the less that intermittency will be. With larger, better and smarter grids there is as yet no theoretical limit to the proportion of electricity that can be delivered from sustainable sources. The question of how quickly carbon based plants are phased out is essentially a political question - and the relative political power of the carbon and sustainable industry lobbies.

        •  No one says that renewables don't (0+ / 0-)

          contribute to baseload. But it's not baseload if it's not there, right? The author doesn't "believe in baseload", at least not the way he's defining it. I defined it from an engineering POV.

          Right now an for the foreseeable future there is no storage. Full stop. To plan beyond the existence of utility scale storage is silly and why it is not being done, anywhere, even in Germany.

          [They still run their coal plants and gas plants. They are not going away.]

          What the author doesn't understand is that the indeterminacy doesn't go away unless one is prepared to spend truly vast sums on transmission lines. The author of the paper DOES understand this. The author of this diary does not.

          In fact for those that "into distributive generation" the scenario in the paper represents the most highly centralized form of power. Wheeling power from the South West to the North East requires an incredibly centralized the grid. THe scenarios I've seen with rooftop solar, mid-west wind and s.w. CSP represents the most outrageous centralization I've ever seen. and even then it wouldn't work on those days when it's not sunny or it's not windy or both (as happens in different areas of the country).

          David

          Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

          by davidwalters on Wed Aug 14, 2013 at 05:34:21 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  You use these sloppy terms. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Frank Schnittger

            What do you mean by "truly vast sums" on transmission? The cost of the transmission in the study is not "truly vast" scaled against the total cost of the power system. If its 1/10 or 1/5 of the cost of the power system and it is less expensive than the storage that is the other alternative, then in the context it is quite obviously not "truly vast sums".

            So how many $b are you thinking of as "truly vast" spending for intergrid UHVDC transmission?

            And as far as a portfolio restricted to just wind, solar PV and CSP, their study says quite clearly that "a mix of wind, solar PV, CSP and nothing else" is not the most effective 100% renewable portfolio, and that is in a country almost ideally suited to roll-out of large scale CSP.

            That tells us that critiquing 100% renewable energy plans that consist of "a mix of wind, solar PV, CSP and nothing else" is not addressing the most cost-effective portfolio.

            Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

            by BruceMcF on Wed Aug 14, 2013 at 07:39:47 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  We know that wind can reach ... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Frank Schnittger

        ... 20% in the US without any additional storage, with only modest expansion of inter-regional transmission and without any substantial complementary solar capacity ~ that was established in the 20% by 2020 report.

        Add national inter-regional transmission and substantial solar, and that pushes the the ceiling for wind up to 40% or higher, and of course the complementary solar implies that the volatile renewable up to the 60% range or higher.

        From the other side, grid-dispatchable renewable power for 20% of supply and 60% of peak capacity is certainly not a stretch for the US given the right rules of the road.

        So sure, maybe there's a need for somewhere up to 20% grid storage to be filled from additional intermittent capacity ... whether there actually is a gap that is most cost effectively filled by some combination of storage and excess intermittent capacity is what the cost-optimization is projecting.

        Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

        by BruceMcF on Wed Aug 14, 2013 at 02:19:03 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Bruce, I'm sorry, but this is just silly. (0+ / 0-)

          One would need a massive upgrade to transmission. The US goes through whole regional low wind areas. When that hits after solar peak, you need to make it up somewhere. Solar is literately on at it's own name place capacity for about 4 hours. You can see this on the solar generation meter provided by the Germans. So wind basically has to make up ALL this afterward...and before 10am or 11am depending on season.

          If you look at the gas turbine running in Germany you see it's quite massive. It doesn't follow solar so much as wind as wind is well...there when it wants to be or it's not. No over build of this resource is going to change the laws of physics...you have to get, say, 250 GWs from the midwest to New England/NE when the wind stops blowing, you had better have the lines to do this.

          Can you raise the renewable % in the US? Of course, that's not even at issue. What's at issue is that you have to marry a lot of gas plants to that wind and solar unless you have this truly massive overbuild.

          I've talked with a helluv a lot of ISO folks about this and they shudder at the thought. They also know it's not going to happen out side of certain regional sectors of the US. With opposition to wind growing, it doesn't look good.

          To get "60%" of peak capacity is silly. If you mean the total peak capacity or that % of generation over baseload, you still have to have back up when the wind isn't blowing (and no, solar is not peak available, it's more on the incline too peak. Most peak power is after solar peak by a few hours ... say 1500 to 1900 hours).

          Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

          by davidwalters on Wed Aug 14, 2013 at 05:27:58 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  You ... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Frank Schnittger

            ... are reducing the renewable energy portfolio two elements, wind and solar photovoltaic, and saying that those two elements cannot do anything like the portfolio simulated in the study ...

            ... which, of course it cannot, since otherwise the least cost portfolio in the study would consist of just wind and solar photovoltaic.

            If you continue to argue as if the only renewable in their study is wind and solar PV, you just are not making anything approaching an accurate representation of the renewable energy portfolio that they model.

            Rather, its (in the low cost scenario) Energy Supplied:

            Wind 50%
            Solar PV 20%
            CST 22%
            Hydro & Pumped Hydro: 6%
            Biogas Turbine: 7%
            Spilled: 4%

            Energy Capacity:

            Wind: 32%
            Solar PV: 28%
            CST: 12%
            Hydro: 7%
            Biogas Turbine: 21%

            So in that least cost portfolio for that scenario (5% discount, cost of renewable energy sources at lower end of the cost projections that were used), the longer term grid-dispatchable power is ~11% of supply, ~28% of capacity, the short term power storable at the Concentrated Solar Thermal 22% of energy supply, 12% of capacity.

            As far as the need to invest in substantial regional cross-haul transmission capacity, yes, of course ~ I don't see how repeating what the study concludes in any way contradicts what the study concludes. As I note above, they include the cost of the required transmission and it is on the order of 10% of the capital cost of the system. It is, of course, less expensive than the storage required to operate with less regional cross-haul, since otherwise the algorithm would pick a portfolio with more storage and less cross-haul.

            Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

            by BruceMcF on Wed Aug 14, 2013 at 07:17:32 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  I bought into the baseload myth as well (0+ / 0-)

    thinking that wind could at most penetrate 20-30% in any power scheme. Clearly this is not the case for a well designed system. Great stuff!

  •  Shared to anti fracking sites (0+ / 0-)

    in the UK. The Great and Good™ here claim that only fracking will solve our energy problems. It's actually a problem of poverty of aspiration.

    Each person stands on a shadow. Bill Reynolds

    by northsylvania on Sat Aug 17, 2013 at 02:44:02 PM PDT

  •  For critiques of the MacGill study (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sebastianguy99

    see Brave New Climate, specifically

    http://bravenewclimate.com/...

    http://bravenewclimate.com/...

    http://bravenewclimate.com/...

    Sure, 100% renewable is possible -- if you overbuild the intermittent sources by several times, and are willing to feather the wind turbines on windy days -- thus driving up the cost to economically dubious heights. The trick is to get rid of fossil carbon without increasing the price, and that gets very very difficult without a large reliance on nuclear. Which is why we need to re-think nuclear.

    We are all in the same boat on a stormy sea, and we owe each other a terrible loyalty. -- G.K. Chesterton

    by Keith Pickering on Sat Aug 17, 2013 at 03:44:34 PM PDT

    •  and? (0+ / 0-)

      Nicholson doesn't really say anything other than "they should have considered nuclear." It's unfortunate that he distracts the reader with upfront capital costs (HALF!) while stating:

      wholesale prices are likely to be similar with or without nuclear
      which means it's just a financing issue.

      Russell's description of demand side management and lunch bars are so ridiculous that this "subject matter expert" on, hmmm, let's see:

      With qualifications in mathematics, philosophy and years of experience scrutinising research protocols on the Animal Experimentation Ethics Committees at Flinders Medical Centre and the Department of Primary Industries in South Australia, Geoff Russell is well placed to analyse the research behind CSIRO's Total Wellbeing Diet. His professional career has been spent writing computer software for transport scheduling and timetabling --- including the Sydney Olympics. Geoff has also had work published in peer reviewed scientific journals on both nutrition and mathematics as well as popular articles in various news media such as The Monthly, Australasian Science, Dissent, The Age and The Advertiser. He is a life member of RSPCA and a current member of Animal Liberation (S.A.
      The Trainer article looks good, though. Thanks for that link. I haven't reviewed it in depth, but he at least appears to know what he's talking about, unlike the other two.

      Thirteen men can't tell The People what is Constitutional and what isn't

      Conservative "constitutional scholar" referring to SCOTUS

      by jam on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 04:44:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Better late than never? (0+ / 0-)

    Sorry I missed this last week. It's one of my main areas of interest right now. I have to say that I'm extremely disappointed in the folks that are ostensibly "arguing from authority" without using any critical thinking skills.

    The "technical" argument isn't even an argument. It's technically possible. Period. Full Stop. This mythical "base load" of which people speak is simply a superposition of various generation assets. There is nothing that says that the delta t (d/dt) of the assets' output needs to equal zero (i.e. the first derivative of a constant equals zero). It doesn't even make any sense. Both load and generation fluctuate. The traditional model treats "base load" as if it were some DC offset. It isn't.

    However, being an engineer, I understand that an engineering solution must be economically feasible as well as technically feasible. I personally believe this is where demand shaping will come into play. There is no technical reason why demand has to be allowed to fluctuate at the arbitrary will of the consumer and generation has to follow. Demand response has already shown, at the macro level, that load can be dispatchable. Load shifting can be used to shore up intermittent generation.

    Most large utilities use static price signals under the guise of time of use pricing to shift load already. What if those price signals were inverted? Make it cheapest to use electricity at solar noon instead of overnight. Exaggerate the day-peaking network even more than it is now allowing even more PV/CSP to penetrate the market. Add to that dynamic pricing signals (which is already done for generation) and dispatchable loads can follow the wind and/or sun as need be.

    Why should electric cars all be set to begin charging at midnight? Set them to charge when the wind is blowing greater than 9 m/s or the sun is shining more than 800 W/m2. They can also stiffen the grid by being paid for ancillary services (cf FERC Order 784, Third-Party Provision of Ancillary Services; Accounting and Financial Reporting for New Electric Storage Technologies18 July 2013).

    Thirteen men can't tell The People what is Constitutional and what isn't

    Conservative "constitutional scholar" referring to SCOTUS

    by jam on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 04:13:04 AM PDT

  •  You need energy storage(fuel) i.e. hydrogen. (0+ / 0-)

    The economic system needs on power on demand to grow, in other words fuel. You could electrify everything in sight and you'd still need fuel.
    The batteries we know of are inherently limited in terms of energy density and operating life.

    You probably should look at the whole energy system not just electricity. In the US electricity is 40% of our energy
    and transportation fuels are almost the same. Our cost of gasoline is at ~10 cents/kwh versus electricity at ~6 cents per kwh.

    Most projections have the world shifting to natural gas and then to hydrogen. The most economical source of hydrogen is natural gas.

    The studies I've seen suggest that the grid can tolerate
    at most about 40% wind/solar contribution. Obviously
    we can go quite a ways from 4% to 40% but beyond that
    we can't plan.

    An interesting Australian idea would be converting solar electricity to heat (at 36% efficiency) stored in molten salts overnight to supply 'baseload'.

    But this post suggest we don't need any baseload with no
    suggestions how we live without it.

  •  Outstanding diary! Very thought provoking (0+ / 0-)

    I remember diaries here by Standed Wind (I'm unsure of capitals and spacing in the handle), so I did a web search and came across a website with that name. I don't know if both are indeed related, but there was a posting about windows in buildings, and how improving them is an opportunity to save energy. Here is a link:

    http://strandedwind.org/...

    Carbon di-oxide in the atmosphere is now 400ppm. That is "Climate Cluster Chaos". (hat tip to JeffW for CCC)

    by Zinman on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 06:27:19 PM PDT

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