Monday, May 29, 2017

Hybrid renewable systems

Kind of new to me, but obvious enough:  wind blows some of the time when the sun doesn't shine, so put wind generation and solar on the same location and reduce some infrastructure cost while getting less-intermittent power. Obviously it won't work everywhere, but it helps. I read somewhere (and sadly can't find the link now) that night winds are very reliable in India during monsoon season, and India's the big challenge now that China is all-in on renewables, so this could be huge.

Alternatives include renewables with large hydro and with power storage. And my personal favorite, floating solar panels.

Tangential thought: we would live in the energy world that denialists think we live in if it weren't for solar and wind (and soon, battery storage). I mean that denialists argue we can't maintain a modern lifestyle without fossil fuels. How that translates within their minds into climate change not happening is unclear, but regardless, that view of the energy picture has been wrong for a decade. And now even the denialists have to add a throwaway statement that "I support solar and wind too" before defending massive pollution of our environment.

Is it just luck that wind and solar and hopefully storage are taking off in terms of cost savings just in time to save us from ourselves? Certainly it's also a function of years of government-funded research, but other fields like wave power, instream hydro, and biofuels have had the same research with limited results. Maybe I'm just looking at the gift horse in the mouth, but if the technology for solar and wind were 20 years behind where they are today, then we'd be in a hell of a mess on climate. I'm curious why it's worked out relatively well.

Some thanks to Jimmy Carter perhaps, starting something that Reagan couldn't quite totally bollox?

64 comments:

Beakers said...

The few early proposals that I have seen in the UK dont need to be part of the wind or solar development, they are just there as the wind and solar generators have a convenient grid connection with predictable periods of spare capacity. A Short Term Operating Reserve generator site would be just as good a location with a grid connection but is unlikely to benefit from quite as much free space as a wind farm or Solar PV field. I expect that many of the STOR using modular diesel units in containers, will progressively turn over to battery systems over the next few years.

David B. Benson said...

We are still in trouble regarding climate. For example, the Great Barrier Reef is now broken. We are on the route to an eventual global temperature increase of 2--3 °C and 25 meters of sea level rise.

The wind plus solar component of just electrical energy is small. Mostly coal burners when turned off are replaced by gas turbines, only maybe somewhat better regarding global warming potential.

But I suppose Polyannaism feels good...

Fernando Leanme said...

The proposal to put solar and wind facilities in the same place is quite impractical. We have high voltage lines to transmit power in a central grid, and that's much more efficient.

Floating solar panels are mostly nonsense, they won't pass a quality enviromental impact assessment because they block sunlight, alter the water columns ability to oxygenate, and probably lead to dead zones which in turn will emit methane and hydrogen sulfide. The Chinese aren't too concerned about the environment so of course they will cause a lot of damage with their infamous floating solar panel plant. It's a communist dictatorship which commits serious human rights abuses, so of course this is peanuts given their record.

Beakers said...

If anyone is concerned that the wind and solar component of electricity generation is small, get behind adding more. It certainly can not be honestly argued that the contribution of intermittent renewables is insignificant - as Matt Ridley tries to. Yes gas generation is less bad than coal, but add wind and solar generation and the consumption of fossil fuel for electricity generation, whatever that fuel happens to be, is cut.
I dont know about the US and its fragmented grids, but in the UK we have a variety of tiers in the single mainland national grid (along with significant interconnectors to other grids with more in development). However embedded generation in the local DNO grids has advantages for that DNO. Large generators on a 400KV spine and embedded generation on 66 or 33KV grids are not antagonistic. If years from now someone builds some as yet imaginary mega battery stores connected to the high voltage grid (complementing the existing pumped storage), it will not be in conflict with the smaller battery stores on the DNO grids, able to provide benefits now before any new giant store gets off the drawing board.
The existence of Dinorwig clearly does not make adding new battery storage pointless, and the significant investment in new battery storage is not an attempt to steal market share off the bought and paid for Dinorwig.

8c7793aa-15b2-11e5-898a-67ca934bd1df said...

Fixed location sodium ion batteries seems to be a no brainer for me too.

Bernard J. said...

" We are on the route to an eventual global temperature increase of 2-3 °C and 25 meters of sea level rise. "

Sorry David, but I need to correct you just a little:

" We are on the route to an eventual global temperature increase of at least 2-3 °C and 25 meters of sea level rise. "

It's inevitable now that we'll pass 2 °C, and highly likely that we'll easily tip 3 °C. We should brace for at least those consequences, even as we try to minimise further warming.

On other matters...

FL, you can rail against China's 'communism' (which it's so utterly not*) as much as you want, but the fact is that China is very likely the future of the planet. It's simple weight of numbers, and implacable control of policy. The US had a chance at retaining some semblance of pre-eminence for a big slice of the 21st century whilst the Dems were at the helm (although the Clinton branch was probably going to wither whatever the outcome of elections), but the Trump circus has simply cemented the fall of the American little 'e' empire.

The rest of the world has already come to that conclusion, and is moving on. And the kicker is that you can't say that you weren't warned - you were, repeatedly.

[*Lest you think I support China's system of government, I do not. On the other hand American/Australian/UK democracy is demonstrably failing due to the undue influence of rent-seeking corporations and RWNJ media, so whatever China's system is, it's likely to outlive the major Anglophone axis' 'democracy'. The west European nations' models may have had a better chance, if only they didn't have the disproportionate weight of stupidity and avarice coming against them from the longitudes to either side.]

Canman said...

Matt Ridley has a devastating piece on wind:

https://www.spectator.co.uk/2017/05/wind-turbines-are-neither-clean-nor-green-and-they-provide-zero-global-energy/

Turns out that wind turbines need a lot of coal:

"A two-megawatt wind turbine weighs about 250 tonnes, including the tower, nacelle, rotor and blades. Globally, it takes about half a tonne of coal to make a tonne of steel. Add another 25 tonnes of coal for making the cement and you’re talking 150 tonnes of coal per turbine. "

CapitalistImperialistPig said...
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CapitalistImperialistPig said...
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CapitalistImperialistPig said...

@Canman - Devastating? Hardly. Since a ton of coal can produce a bit less than 2 MWhr of electrical energy, the wind turbine 'pays off' the coal used in producing its steel in 150 hours or not quite one week.

Dan Riley said...

Government-funded research was always speculative wrt what technologies would become cost-effective, so the idea was to fund a diverse enough mix that there'd be enough winners, which they seem to have got about right. Though we're probably about a decade behind where we could have been if renewable energy R&D had been funded more consistently.

wrt "wind turbines need a lot of coal", 150 tonnes of coal burnt in a power plant is about 400 MWh of electricity at 33% conversion efficiency. That's not all that much--back of the envelope says a nameplate 5 MW turbine at 40% capacity pays that back in about a week, and the cost in coal goes down as the total renewable capacity increases. All that kind of stuff is included in the standard emission intensity estimates.

BBD said...

Following on from Beaker's two comments, what is required is *storage* and more W&S. Just building out W&S on their own is going to be a major own-goal for the renewables transition. Also much more HVDC grid interconnectors, but above all, *storage*. Even a supergrid is only as good as the amount of dispatchable electricity on it and W&S aren't dispatchable. The energy they generate is dispatchable once it's been stored (pumped hydro; utility-scale battery farms; STOR etc).

BBD said...

All that kind of stuff is included in the standard emission intensity estimates.

Are there any references for the carbon footprint of very large-scale renewables build-out? It's an interesting problem: if we are going to decarbonise total energy, not just electricity, then something in the order of 15TW of clean energy supply will eventually be required. As it is built, energy used in the construction process is energy not available to meet global demand and so, presumably, fossil fuels will be necessary to make up the shortfall.

667-per-cm.net said...

Apart from all the distracting comments above ("It's not enough," "It can't be done," "It's not efficient," etc), the correlation of wind and solar has, to some extent, been studied. References below. It depends where the systems are located. My readings suggest co-located sitings at energy cooperative in the U.S. Midwest and Western plains can make a bunch of sense. When coasts are considered, the local climatic conditions are important. Deep offshore wind blows consistently, but the power needs to be hauled back to land. Onshore wind, near the coast, is highly variable, but it is also much cheaper than deep offshore to construct and maintain, for obvious reasons. In New England, wind does tend to anti-correlate with solar, particularly in winter.

Anyway, here are some references:

* https://arxiv.org/pdf/1505.07071.pdf
* https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/1ed4/cc47724f3bd230fe01330412fb3d86942814.pdf
* http://matras.ujaen.es/pdf/2012_santosalamillos_et_al_jamc.pdf
* http://ascelibrary.org/doi/abs/10.1061/(ASCE)EY.1943-7897.0000189

The big success story for doing this is ERCOT in the State of Texas. Michael Osborne has a couple of YouTube interviews and presentations where he describes this, and also alludes to the difficulty traditional utility power engineers have wrapping their minds around a Mark Jacobson-style world, especially when profitability of existing organizations are concerned. In Texas, they invested deeply in good long-term forecasters, and sited wind on the Gulf Coast and well into the west, using solar right up near cities and the like. The pattern which was exploited was a wave where the Gulf powers in the morning, the solar panels pick up much of the midday, and then the wind from far out west evens out the "duck curve" because it is a solar hour or so lagged behind the power consumption in the east.

Europe, e.g., ELIA, has excellent forecasting capabilities, not only of generation but of consumption. Much if not most of U.S. utilities have a poor idea at neighborhood, let alone household granularity about patterns of consumption. Indeed, I have participated in meetings where they expressed shock at having to deal with a million data points an hour, which I loudly laughed at. Unsurprisingly, there is a bevy of startups, many staffed by people in the industry I work, which are offering services to utilities to digest millions of series of household electrical energy consumption and then recovering and reporting back to them regarding not only patterns, but appliance profiles, appliance composition, and things like EV presence and solar presence, without having to ask the homeowner. To the utilities this is just magic, but, actually, it's no big deal. They need better technical imaginations.

BBD said...

667

I noticed from your first reference Bett & Thornton (2015):

This work emphasises the importance of considering the full distribution of daily behaviour rather than relying on long-term average relationships or correlations. In particular, the anticorrelation between wind and solar power in Britain cannot solely be relied upon to produce a well-balanced energy supply.

This is a generalised issue, not specific to the UK. Hence: storage, storage, storage. W&S alone do not cut it, especially not at higher penetrations in the energy mix.

Russell Seitz / Bright Water said...

Canman, your optimistic view of Ridley is offset by the discount Viscount:

https://vvattsupwiththat.blogspot.com/2017/05/paris-accord-make-that-north-korea-and.html

Steve Bloom said...

"Is it just luck that wind and solar and hopefully storage are taking off in terms of cost savings just in time to save us from ourselves?"

If by save you mean not go extinct, sure. Otherwise no. Had we pushed very hard starting in the late '70s, things might be different.

Bernard has it generally right, but I would point to the missing (from models) carbon feedbacks as the overwhelming factor in guaranteeing our journey into Dangerousland if not Catastropheland.

Only permafrost has been minimally quantified (~150 Pg by 2100; "minimally" because that number is going to go up a lot, in part because it neglected the tundra fire mechanism), but even recent pathway analysis has elided it (with the single exception of Rockstrom et al.). That's a big enough bite out of the budget, but unfortunately there are all the other carbon feedbacks, mainly from plankton, forests (tropical and boreal) and soil. There are no similar quantifications of those as yet (the permafrost one was actually an expert elicitation based on admittedly incomplete data), but both observations and the research that has been done point in the wrong direction for all of them. The potential C injection for each is huge.

Tom said...

Extinct. 25 meters of sea level rise.

Very Serious People.

Brian Schmidt said...

At the price of being distracted - Fernando, you couldn't be more wrong about floating solar and its water impacts. Could you try looking some of this stuff up first? It's not like they're going to build them on trout streams - these are reservoirs that we're talking about. To the extent that panels reduce algae growth, they'll have the exact opposite effect of what you describe.

I suppose I could imagine over-shading reservoirs, where 90%+ of the surface area is covered and having some negative effect, but we're very far from that world.

Richard Mercer said...

For places with lots of sunshine, like the American Southwest, solar thermal with heat storage has huge potential for day and night base load power, some of which could be delivered to other states via HVDC lines.
An NREL study found potential for 285 GW generating capacity in Arizona alone, using a very small percentage of available and suitable land.

Beakers said...

Hi BBD
Here in the UK it is an often made claim of renewable antis that wind and solar 'need storage' and/or 'need backup' while blithely ignoring that all the wind and solar that we have added has not required the addition of any additional storage, and has not required the addition of any 'backup'. Infact we now have capacity auctions to try to get generators to replace the 'backup' conventional generation at the end of its working life, or even just to try to persuade them to not close the existing plant early. Market failure issues rather than anything to do with wind and solar needing backup.
The battery storage being co-located with wind and solar plants is going there because these generators have space and a bit of spare grid capacity going cheap. They are not supporting the renewables through troughs in production, just buying power when it is cheap and then selling it again when it is at a premium at peak demand.
Adding wind and solar generation to the grid cuts the generation by the already existing gas plant that regularly matches output to changes in demand anyway. When you still have ample headroom of gas generation to displace (and we do) it would not be very bright to not displace that generation but instead charge a battery (at additional capital cost) for use at a later time.
And Canman, are you genuinely impressed by Ridley's claims in the Spectator? Or like Ridley, are you just interested in spreading reactionary scaremongering in the hope of netting a few gullible armchair generals.

BBD said...

Here in the UK it is an often made claim of renewable antis that wind and solar 'need storage' and/or 'need backup' while blithely ignoring that all the wind and solar that we have added has not required the addition of any additional storage, and has not required the addition of any 'backup'.

Because the W&S so far installed is a free rider on existing conventional capacity which is curtailed / ramped up to accommodate W&S variability. Once W&S are are grown to a significant share of the energy mix, this comfortable co-existence will cease. At that point, large-scale non-FF backup will be necessary to compensate for W&S variability (especially in winter). HVDC interconnections with the Continental grids would also help - but only if there is a dispatchable supply surplus always equivalent to demand. The best way to ensure this is to add lots of storage to all regional grids.

The battery storage being co-located with wind and solar plants is going there because these generators have space and a bit of spare grid capacity going cheap.

I know; I wasn't really talking about stuff like Pen y Cymoedd.

Russell Seitz / Bright Water said...

"Alternatives include renewables with large hydro and with power storage. And my personal favorite, floating solar panels."

The only predictable result would be a rush to research on photovoltaic seagull droppings.

Mal Adapted said...

Tom

Extinct. 25 meters of sea level rise.

Very Serious People.


Yet again, Tom: how are you so confident Bernard J's scenarios aren't in the PDFs for the Earth of 100, 500, or 1000 years from now? Do you assume uncertainty is in your favor?

Perhaps the reason you've never been willing to support your optimistic assumptions rigorously, as a genuine skeptic would, is that you're just not a serious person.

Tom said...

Ask the scientists looking at Greenland. 3,000 years of unabated warming to lose half the Greenland ice.

Do you guys even read the IPCC assessment reports?

David B. Benson said...

Tom, from the Wikipedia page on Pliocene climate one sees that during the mid-Pliocene with carbon dioxide levels of about 400 ppm, similar to today's, the sea level was 25 meters higher than now and the global temperature was 2--3 °C warmer than now. So if carbon dioxide levels remain at or above 400 ppm at equilibrium the same temperature and sea levels will result.

The only question is how long it takes to equilibriate. On various grounds I estimate about 1000 years, but most of the change might be compressed into the first century or two.

David B. Benson said...

That is not what IPCC WG3 states for Greenland.

David B. Benson said...

Oops. WG1.

BBD said...

Tom

Ask the scientists looking at Greenland. 3,000 years of unabated warming to lose half the Greenland ice.

Do you guys even read the IPCC assessment reports?


Can you quote the relevant text and provide a chapter.section reference for context? Thanks.

As an aside, much of the sea level rise expected in future centuries is going to come from the WAIS and the more unstable sectors of the EAIS, not the GrIS. So focusing on the GrIS could be seen as misleading.

Mal Adapted said...

Tom:

Ask the scientists looking at Greenland. 3,000 years of unabated warming to lose half the Greenland ice.

First: without sarcasm, Tom, thank you for finally responding substantively to a request to support your argument with evidence, like a genuine skeptic.

Now: my own handwaving argument is that the extinction of Homo sapiens is unlikely as long as any part of the global remains habitable. AFAICT, however, there is a small but finite probability of enough warming to render all parts of the global uninhabitable by our species, at least without capital- and labor-intensive technological support.

Also, an eventual 25 meters of SLR does appear inevitable; and 3000 years is within the foreseeable future.

So: please tell us, Tom, why you scoff at even the possibility of both extinction and 25 meters of SLR, within unspecified time intervals. Is it because you think talking about worst-case scenarios is "CAGW alarmism"?

TIA!

Mal Adapted said...

Do I really need to say "substitute 'globe' for 'global' in my last comment"?

Russell Seitz / Bright Water said...

The historical experience of the last millennium is that a lot can happen in a millennium.
Imagine how much more will happen by the time science & the technology arising from it turn 500.

Beakers said...

BBD - If you are going to point fingers at free riders, the herd of elephants in the room are the externalities of fossil fuel consumption. The grid is a portfolio of lots of different systems 'free riding' off each other. A slow to react nuclear generator (of which we need new ones) can only work on the grid if it free rides off dispatchable generation, storage, trading, curtailment etc.
The gas plant that picks up when wind contribution drops is already there on the grid, and without the wind power would still be ramping up and down to follow demand (assisted by faster reacting peaking plant). Thanks to the presence of the wind power it burns less gas. That is the point of the wind power. There is still (sadly) plenty of gas generation headroom to displace. If we get to a position where we start breaking past that headroom, that is when the economics of storage and/or opportunistic use of 'surplus generation' (such as producing ammonia, displacing fossil fuel consumption in the gulf states for our N fertiliser) come in. We are not there yet. The storage so far is peaking plant (charging at low spot prices, delivering at high spot prices) and assisting with local grid stability eg where adding a battery store is a cheaper solution than upgrading lines where the pattern of demand is changing.
In time, we may start seeing huge batteries sitting on the grid as end of life replacement for gas generation capacity, but our renewable and painfully slow nuclear build would have to progress a long way further for us to start planning that. That is so far off that with the current progress in renewables and storage costs, plans made now are subject to massive uncertainty. Look across to how far the playing field has changed since 2007 when the UK energy white paper put us onto a nuclear renaissance. The first plant was going to be operational this year (ha bloody ha) and in that 10 years, the cost of wind has plummeted, costs of solar and storage are sailing past unprecedented lows, and the key nuclear providers are preoccupied with keeping what they have working rather than the new build ambitions. HPC construction is underway, just, but EDF show little enthusiasm to progress SZC. Wylfa will probably go ahead, but if anyone builds anything at Moorside it will not be Toshiba/Westinghouse with their three reactors. Why the hell would anyone fret over renewables needing storage, when we are a long way from needing that storage, have economic storage technologies working now, have more storage technology coming forward, and have falling prices for storage?

BBD said...

BBD - If you are going to point fingers at free riders, the herd of elephants in the room are the externalities of fossil fuel consumption.

Why are you changing the subject?

You then go on to repeat yourself. You are, I think, missing the point here, which is that unless a great deal of storage is added to the grid at the same time as W&S are grown substantially, you end up with a failed energy transition. Nobody is disputing that W&S reduce FF usage as you keep repeating; but unless non-FF storage is provided, W&S will never displace gas. The necessary energy transition will stall.

We are not there yet.

This is what troubles me. Given the decadal timescale for large storage projects versus the (hopefully) rapid and sustained build-out of W&S the storage expansion needs to begin now.

Why the hell would anyone fret over renewables needing storage, when we are a long way from needing that storage, have economic storage technologies working now, have more storage technology coming forward, and have falling prices for storage?

Well, see above. Short-term market 'thinking' is setting us up for failure (again).

The first plant was going to be operational this year (ha bloody ha) and in that 10 years, the cost of wind has plummeted, costs of solar and storage are sailing past unprecedented lows,

I dislike the 'cheap renewables' meme. SPV modules are cheap and getting cheaper. Turbines somewhat cheaper now and also likely to get cheaper still. Obvz true. *But* these are only the inexpensive components of the full system necessary to get W&S working at scale and moving towards a full energy transition. Panels and turbines are not the total system cost.

The 'cheap renewables' meme ignores the fact that the very expensive but absolutely necessary large-scale storage and grid interconnections are not costed. Nor is it widely acknowledged that W&S total system cost increases as W&S scale. The ubiquity of the 'cheap renewables' meme in this context is IMO, pretty damned close to misleading.

My view is that we are setting ourselves up for a failed energy transition because we are still playing short-term games and telling ourselves fairy tales. So no change there, then.

BBD said...

This really deserves rather more scrutiny:

we are a long way from needing that storage(1), have economic storage technologies working now(2), have more storage technology coming forward(3), and have falling prices for storage?(4)

I've suggested why (1) is not true. (2) is gas and must be designed out of the system starting now - see argument why (1) is not true. (3) is a very risky bet if we are talking about utility-scale battery technology which is a long way from market ready and may never be market ready at the necessary capacity (xGWh). (4) is not true at utility scale. A few MWh from shipping containers full of car batteries doesn't count.

Hank Roberts said...

Also, please cover all the parking lots at the fission plants with solar panel shade structures, and add windmills, and add enough storage capacity to run the emergency cooling system overnight. It's insane they don't have backup power aside from a few hours of diesel generation and grid connections, given how fragile we know the grid can be and how tempting a target the spent fuel storage pools are for t'rists.

Hell, buy every employee a Tesla and use them as plugin storage while they're parked. They won't be running away when there's a problem.

Bernard J. said...

Russell, Russell, Russell…

You seem to have a wee problem of induction, leading to a bit of an outbreak of hasty generalisation. It would be wise to sample more millennia and to actually model all of the salient parameters so that you avoid any logically fallacious inferences about the future.

On a related subject, I have a visitor (grimace...) who’s a staunch Trump supporter. Observing his responses this week to the snowballing disaster that is Trump and the current Republication White (in name only...) House, I’m recognising not only motivated reasoning but a growing indication of normalcy bias amongst a lot of conservative folk that I know. I wonder how much this will delay a serious response to the Russian installation of a puppet as US president, and to the damage thus caused...

Cue the tears.

For now, I have a pair of black swans and their three cygnets to gently shoo from the road a few hundred metres away. And Popper’s sarcophagal tachyometer is red-lining, so I should probably disconnect the astral link.

8c7793aa-15b2-11e5-898a-67ca934bd1df said...

That will never fly with the industry, Hank, too obvious and rational.

That's like putting a solar panel on the roof of your car. Won't work. You'll just need to get a jump or run a long extension cord to a wall plug. And if there is an emergency? Too bad. Call a tow truck.

Mal Adapted said...

Russell Seitz / "Bright Water" WTF?:

The historical experience of the last millennium is that a lot can happen in a millennium. Imagine how much more will happen by the time science & the technology arising from it turn 500.

Yes, Russell, one can imagine that. Are you unable to imagine even the possibility that it might not save us from extinction?

Tom said...

Extinction again...So... serious.

Russell Seitz / Bright Water said...

Is Mal unable to imagine the possibility of the Energy Crisis that inspired Carter to turn on the coal and go after bitumenous shale morphing into the Oil Glut? Or a doofus like Julian Simon skinning John Holdren and Paul Erhlich on a commodity scarcity bet?

As we are already exercising our imagination of disaster, I doubt we will be fatally surprised, although many may perish of tedium atop various mountains waiting for the end to come.

8c7793aa-15b2-11e5-898a-67ca934bd1df said...

Large body mass mammals, Tom, so well paleorecorded in the paleorecord.

Fernando Leanme said...

Facts: 1. Geography and Ocean currents where different during the Pliocene (look up Scotese's videos on YouTube). 2. Crude oil and condensate production is running at a 80-81 mmbopd plateau over the last 2 years or so. 3. CO2 emissions aren't rising much over the last three years.

My conclusions thus far: solar and wind continue to struggle because the are intermittent, and in many countries such as Jamaica and Congo they don't make much sense. The economic benefits of the current elitist mindset in Paris and California aren't demonstrated. It would be really useful to research geoengineering and develop new fission nuclear plants. The pope is useless, hobnobs with dictators and human rights abusers. China is humanity's number one enemy.

Nigel Franks said...

The real elephant in the room is agriculture and especially the wasteful habit of feeding anything up to fifteen calories of crops to animals to get one calorie of meat.

BBD said...

Facts: 1. Geography and Ocean currents where different during the Pliocene (look up Scotese's videos on YouTube).

A bit different. Not really all that much. So, all you can argue from mid-Pliocene warmth is that the climate system is really quite sensitive to small changes in boundary conditions.

Russell Seitz / Bright Water said...

Blogger Nigel Franks said...
The real elephant in the room is agriculture and especially the wasteful habit of feeding anything up to fifteen calories of crops to animals to get one calorie of meat.


A strong argument for extending deer and wildfowl seasons alike.

Mal Adapted said...

Tom: Extinction again...So... serious.
Sigh. One step forward, two steps back...

Mal Adapted said...

Nigel Franks: The real elephant in the room is agriculture and especially the wasteful habit of feeding anything up to fifteen calories of crops to animals to get one calorie of meat.

The "real elephant in the room" is that the invention of agriculture was the worst mistake in the history of our species.

Tom said...

Ah, Mal--so diet joins attitude in the Paleolithic?

I hear farmers were all deniers anyway.

Hank Roberts said...

> scrambled userid: "too obvious and rational.... Won't work."

What? We need a guaranteed local supply of the amount of electricity needed to cool a fission pile that was scrammed late in its fuel cycle, when the fuel rods are loaded with short-lived fission daughters producing the maximum amount of heat.

You know why they're not replacing the coal burners with standard fission plants, right? It's because coal plants run hotter than a fission pile can be safely operated -- because the hotter you run a fission pile, the longer it takes to cool the thing off once it scrams.

You know why China is building pebble bed fission piles to replace coal burners at their power plants, right? Because they can; because they're saving money by not building containments around them; because they feel lucky.

Check this article by an enthusiast:
https://www.forbes.com/sites/rodadams/2016/11/08/china-is-taking-serious-stides-towards-cleaner-air/

Want to check his reasoning?

Try this. It'll shock you, I suspect:
http://questioningattitude.blogspot.com/2010/06/it-is-probable-that-atmospheric.html

Russell Seitz / Bright Water said...

T'he "real elephant in the room" is that the invention of agriculture was the worst mistake in the history of our species."

Mistake? What elese can you do after you've eaten the last pachyderm?

Cue Francis Fukuyama to write The End Of History And The Last Giant Ground Sloth?

Russell Seitz / Bright Water said...

The apotheosis of lead paint :

http://tinypic.com/1r55guxl

David B Benson said...

Hank Roberts, a properly designed pebble nuclear power reactor has a drain to a geometry which suppresses fission.

Beakers said...

Hi BBD - not changing the subject, just pointing out that the concern you express is several orders of magnitude down on the scale of problems we have to deal with. When you say W&S will never displace gas without storage, you ignore that W&S (and nuclear for that matter) are displacing gas right now, and adding more capacity will displace more gas. Adding storage now makes economic sense where it is a cost effective alternative to local peaking plant and/or line upgrades. That is also provides additional distributed storage is a fringe benefit as, with plenty of gas headroom yet to displace, we dont yet need extra storage for its own sake. Dinorwig was decadal long timescale for deployment. Musk has been promising Oz '100 days or it is free' so lets see what that does for decadal long storage planning. Loads of other battery systems ready to go when they are needed (sodium sulphur ones having worked successfully in orbit) just not needed yet. Car battery developers would like us to use their Lithium tech but for a stationary battery, low weight and volume are not priorities.
Total system costs - again, EVERY generator depends on being part of a grid. A nuclear plant is technically and economically poor at following demand so sits on a grid alongside dispatchable and peaking plant to handle variation. Some grids built storage like Dinorwig to manage the inflexibility of coal and nuke plants. It would be silly to claim that costs of a new nuclear plant should be described as being higher to account for other generators and grid facilities that it would run alongside, yet you are trying to do this for W&S? I agree with you on the short term games - Trump being exhibit A.
1) Suggested, but I would politely point out that the significant renewable generation that we have benefited from so far coupled with the lack of addition of any backup and the MWh of gas generation headroom plain for all to see put paid to your suggestion.
2) No, we have had storage on grids for decades (Dinorwig 'Electric Mountain' being the the best known UK example) and batteries on local grids are now cheap enough to be used instead of line upgrades. So not gas.
3) one of the storage techs coming forward is Ammonia, with the added benefit of the surplus Ammonia going to N Fertiliser, displacing current N fert production from Gulf States Gas. Siemens (with a demonstrator) say it is not economic yet, but it is just one storage tech coming forward, and some of these may even follow the price trajectory that we have seen with the previously impossibly expensive solar PV and car battery. I did read of Ammonia storage being used for grid stability on a small grid in Alaska. Answers are out there to the problems that we are not yet up against and remain a long way off from.
4) Not true at utility scale as we are not building them at utility scale, owing to there not being a need to build them at utility scale. Why build something well in advance of when you need to build it when its costs are falling and alternatives are being appraised?
Add more W&S, and we will cut our gas consumption. We have plenty headroom and in the UK with the current development of interconnectors, that headroom is being enhanced. Add nuclear too but dont neglect W&S because of nuclear, because of the slow build time and horrible risk of delay. Once the gas headroom starts to diminish, then look at adding more storage that will benefit that future grid regardless of the mix of nuclear and renewable generation on it.

BBD said...

Beakers

It would be silly to claim that costs of a new nuclear plant should be described as being higher to account for other generators and grid facilities that it would run alongside, yet you are trying to do this for W&S?

We still seem not to be on the same page. Take the UK. Going forward, we need very large scale wind to decarbonise. Wind, because DJF in the UK are very low output months for solar and so wind is going to be the backbone of deep decarbonisation. There's not much potential left for biomass or hydro, so wind (and maybe nuclear, if the industry ever gets it shit together) is going to have to do the heavy lifting.

But every winter, we get national scale lulls in windspeed during anticyclonic conditions that sharply reduce wind fleet output for several consecutive days at a time. So, what - if not very large scale pumped hydro - is going to step in to meet the supply shortfall?

The standard example is assume a 33GW UK wind fleet with an average 10GW output (30% capacity factor). To compensate for a five day lull we'd need about 1200GWh of storage:

10GW x (5 x 24hr) = 1200GWh

That's many orders of magnitude beyond the capabilities of any known battery technology for the foreseeable future. It's about 130 Dinorwigs.

That's why we need to start thinking about large-scale storage *now*.

That's why the total system cost for wind (/solar) is fundamentally different than for nuclear, FFs etc. That's why I said that the cheap renewables meme is misleading - because it is.

Add more W&S, and we will cut our gas consumption.

But we will *never* displace gas because the whole infrastructure, from wells to pipelines to CCGT plant will have to be kept going to deal with occasional multi-day lulls in windspeed during winter. Unless very large scale storage is constructed, starting now, because it will take a couple of decades at least to complete. And no, we can't just assume that there will always be a dispatchable surplus equivalent to UK demand at the other end of an interconnector whenever we need it. That might be an okay bet for hours or a day, but not a week.

Beakers said...

Hi BBD 'That's why we need to start thinking about large-scale storage *now*.' Think about is a long way short of plan or start building. We are thinking, yes. As I pointed out, Siemens amongst others are looking at opportunistic production of Ammonia. Flow Cells have been trialed in Ireland and Australia, Sodium Sulphur batteries have had a number of applications. BUT we do not need to start deploying these now. We are thinking but not doing because we do not yet need to do, so doing now would be wasting money that could be better spent on cutting the Gas MWh headroom to get us closer to the need to add storage.
Hydro and biomass are not scalable, but the more we cut gas consumption, the higher the fraction of dispatchable generation these will comprise.
We have lots of treasure locked in gas grids, LPG ports, 2 weeks of storage (at current UK consumption) and gas generators. Each of these are harmless. Only the consumption of gas is problematic. Given the scale of problem we face cutting CO2, the occasional application of this existing infrastructure to cover renewable and/or nuclear shortfall is trivial. You appear to be fretting about a far off issue that has lots ahead of it on the cost curve, and may be unrecognizable by the time we get to it.

BBD said...

Hi Beakers

I've just realised what this conversation reminds me of: talking to 'lukewarmers' about climate sensitivity.

Mal Adapted said...

Tom: Ah, Mal--so diet joins attitude in the Paleolithic?
I'll cop to insufficient unpacking. I was alluding to this 1987 article by Jared Diamond in Discover magazine:

The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race

Mal Adapted said...

Speaking of large-scale energy storage, this recent article in the Business section of the New York Times may be of interest:

The Biggest, Strangest ‘Batteries’

Compressed air, flywheels, molten salt, pumped hydro, and so forth; all just waiting for the "invisible hand of the market", namely the pressure of thrift for consumers and the lure of profit for entrepreneurs, to drive our transition to a carbon-neutral energy economy.

Meanwhile, in the US, the artificial market advantage fossil fuels enjoy over alternative energy sources and storage is maintained by the "freedom" of FF producers to hold their marginal climate-change costs external to the market price of their products. America's large-scale transfer of carbon from geologic sequestration to the climatically active pool continues unabated as a result.

If only we'd enact revenue-neutral carbon fee and dividend with border adjustment! Unfortunately, the good ol' invisible hand has also driven the growth of the for-profit disinformation industry, turning out skilled "communications" professionals offering their services to the highest bidder. By successfully planting tenacious false memes in the American electorate (prominently among them, the self-refuting notion that the market-driven Tragedy of the global climate Commons is only tragic for "liberals"), prudent investment of mere $billions of fossil fuel wealth in a sophisticated AGW-denial disinformation campaign, over at least five decades, has yielded hundreds of $billions in profits annually through the present day.

As reasonable people will acknowledge regardless of their position on the political spectrum, that kind of money is empowering. Dislodging enough deeply-implanted AGW denial to impose an effective carbon price on ourselves is going to take a lot of work, most of it in mass communications and political organizing; and it's probably going to take a lot of money, too. Sadly, my own, purely voluntary efforts in those arenas have probably made things worse; communications professionals may obtain more positive results, but exposure to the dismal science inclines me toward pessimism. Depressive realism, or mood-congruent ideation? You be the judge, as if I could stop you ;^).

None of the above is novel to the bunnies, of course. YMMV, but on the date of my first link I was encouraged to see another NYT article titled How G.O.P. Leaders Came to View Climate Change as Fake Science, also appearing not as an opinion piece but in the Politics section. Is it possible the NYT, after so many years of false balance, is finally getting it sussed?

Mal Adapted said...

When someone asks me how global CO2 levels represent America's fossil carbon emissions, I'll tell them how glad I am they asked ;^).

Mal Adapted said...

Yeah; wary of Russell-esque obscure-allusionism, I'd better make it clear the "dismal science" link was ironic.

Russell Seitz / Bright Water said...


"The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race"

Come on, Mal- Jared may be a policy debate question dodger in the grand tradition of Former Next President Gore, but some of his comrades have recently come clean in what the presumed to be a Safe Space:

https://vvattsupwiththat.blogspot.com/2017/06/an-honest-broker-isnt-afraid-to-say.html



Russell Seitz / Bright Water said...

Canman does not seen to have run his numbers across a single envelope back-

if Viscount Ridley is correct as to a 2 megawatt wind turbine reoesenting 150 tonnes of coal , and a kilo of even bad coal representa roughly kilowatt hour of electrical power, then a two megawatt wind turbine works off its coal carbon footprint in its first two weeks of operation.

In some circles this is referred to as a "fail" .



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