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No technical limitation to wind power penetration

by Jerome a Paris Mon Jan 29th, 2007 at 05:09:18 AM EST

With a big nod to ChrisCook for pointing me towards the National Grid report...

One of the main arguments against wind power is that it is intermittent and thus unreliable because not always available when needed. A corollary is that it is usually stated (and I've used these numbers myself in earlier diaries) that wind power will not be able to provide more than 20% of power  - or that beyond that number, its costs rise significantly.

Well, the National Grid, the entity which manages the electrical grid in the UK, is providing some interesting commentary in a special report about the long term outlook of their job, as posted here: National Grid 2006 Great Britain Seven Year Statement.


The output of some renewable technologies, such as wind, wave, solar and even some CHP, is naturally subject to fluctuation and, for some renewable technologies, unpredictability relative to the more traditional generation technologies. Based on recent analyses of the incidence and variation of wind speed, the expected intermittency of the national wind portfolio would not appear to pose a technical ceiling on the amount of wind generation that may be accommodated and adequately managed.



from chapter 4

The proportion of conventional generation needed to be retained in the electricity market, given the variable and unpredictable nature of some renewable technologies such as wind, such that current levels of security of supply are not eroded is the subject of the published paper: "A shift to wind is not unfeasible", by Dale, Milborrow, Slark & Strbac, Power UK Issue 109, March 2003.

For example, for 8000MW of wind (e.g. in line with Government's 2010 target of 10% renewables), around 3000MW of conventional capacity (equivalent to some 37% of the wind capacity) can be retired without any increased probability that load reductions would be required due to generation shortages on cold days. However, as the amount of wind increases, the proportion of conventional capacity that can be displaced without eroding the level of security reduces. For example, for 25000MW of wind only 5000MW (i.e. 20% of the wind capacity) of conventional capacity can be retired. This implies that, for larger wind penetrations, the wind capacity that can be taken as firm is not proportional to the expected wind energy production. It follows that the electricity market will need to maintain in service a larger proportion of conventional generation capacity despite reduced load factors. Such plant is often referred to as "standby plant".

While that may sound bad, remember that a MW of wind power is equivalent to between 20 to 30% of a traditional MW (from coal, nuclear or gas), i.e. it produces one fifth to one third of the number of kWh per year - precisely because of its intermittent power.

Which means that the conventional capacity that can be displaced is quite close, in fact, to what would be need to produce the same number of kWh that wind produces. That means that any wind farm which is built, including when penetration will already be quite high, will provide "real" capacity, and real kWh that only very marginally need to be backed up by conventional capacity, as shown from this graph, from a study you can download from here: Security of decarbonised electricity systems:

More wind farms means more electricity, and more conventional power that can be taken out of the grid. A lot more wind farms means a lot more elctricity, and somewhat more conventional power than can be taken off the grid: in practice, a few conventional power plants will need to be kept, but will hardly ever used (basically only for emergencies and unusual circumstances on the wind side or the demand side) - thus the savings in terms of coal or gas to be burnt are quite real.

National Grid also provides an estimate of the cost of using a lot more wind on the network:


from chapter 4

We have estimated that for the case with 8000MW of wind needed to meet the 10% renewables target for 2010, balancing costs can be expected to increase by around £2 per MWh of wind production. This would represent an additional £40million per annum, just over 10% of existing annual balancing costs.

Balancing costs are what producers must pay if they produce less, or more, power than they informed the network operator (usually the day before). Wind producers are naturally penalised by such system, and thus have, in the UK, to pay for the impact of their intermittence on the system. This has not prevented projects from being built and from selling thier power on terms that make it profitable. Usually, they sell their power to big utilities that manage the intermittence within their larger portfolio, and charge the wind power producers for the service. The number above (about $4/MWh, or 0.4 cent/kWh) represents a pretty small fraction of production costs (typically 3-7 cents/kWh for wind) and are thus bearable.

Thus, at no cost to the reliability and security of the system, and a low investment cost, wind power can be ramped up to represent a high portion of electricity produced. Unlike gas-fired power, its cost of production is predictable (because it is constant, linked purely to the initial cost of financing). Unlike coal-fired power, its costs includes all externalities as wind creates no pollution, emits no carbon, and requires no strip mining. It's probably still more expensive than nuclear, but not always, and not by such a margin that it should be ignored as a large scale source of power.

Disclaimer: as many of you know, I finance the wind power sector. Do note, however, that I also finance the conventional power sector. Which makes me informed of the costs and advantages of each, I guess...

Display:
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2007/1/28/17257/2417


In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Jan 28th, 2007 at 06:38:39 PM EST
Well ... just to let you know, learned about it here and then commented there ...

Same questions, then:

How holistic is the discussion?

Did they discuss (innovative) storage options for dealing with intermittency (and for flattening peaks)?

Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart. NOW!!!

by a siegel (siegeadATgmailIGNORETHISdotPLEASEcom) on Sun Jan 28th, 2007 at 07:06:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The above study I quote is purely based an statistical analysis of wind variations and variability on a daily and seasonal basis, compared to demand volatility, to identify risks of power cuts.


In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Jan 29th, 2007 at 05:21:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Is there any project to use offshore wind + sea water to generate hydrogen ? Hydrogen could be turned to electricity when there is no wind if the farm is directly linked to the grid, otherwise in case of no link, just producing hydrogen and storing it locally.

Might not be feasible (I don't look around).

Probably somewhat wasteful but totally renewable, no carbon involved, and no neighbour NIMBY :).

by Laurent GUERBY on Sun Jan 28th, 2007 at 06:45:47 PM EST
Building a pumped hydro plant at the same time as a wind farm, or hiring the services of one, seems about a thousand times as feasible. :)

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Sun Jan 28th, 2007 at 07:15:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]


Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Sun Jan 28th, 2007 at 07:19:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So it would seem.  The problem is one of siting.  There are favorable sites for wind power, and there are favorable sites for pumped-storage hydro.  The number of sites that are favorable for both are a small fraction of the two.  An alternative is to ship power across the grid from wind farm to storage facility.  Of course that raises technical issues of its own, such as transmission capacity and coordination.  None of those represent insurmountable difficulties, but neither are they freebies.

Now where are we going and what's with the handbasket?
by budr on Sun Jan 28th, 2007 at 07:52:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One of the interesting things about the Tidal Electric

http://www.tidalelectric.com/

 "Tidal Lagoon" solution is that installing pumps allows the lagoon to be used for pumped storage (including pumping OUT at low tide) at several states of the tide, particularly as the lagoon perimeter has to be at a height sufficient to contain the relatively few really high spring tides, plus surges etc.

I'm a big fan of Tidal lagoons, coupled with judicious use of barrages, where tides are not necessarily cut off, but restricted to multiple choke points.

 

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sun Jan 28th, 2007 at 11:06:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
no bid.

I don't much like messing with the coast line as opposed to building reservoirs inland.  Every time we mess with the coast lines we seem to foul up some major habitat.
There are enough mountains in most locales to be able to use water storage.  

If we switch to plug in electric vehicles we should be able to use them to store excess nighttime production as well.  IE, design the plug in points to only function after the local peak or if in an emergency at a much higher price.  Our current electrical systems are sized for the peak + a safety factor.  On our little island that means we have 135 MW of capacity to handle the daily peak of about 75 with an average of 50-55 MW for example.

We also need to shift the location of high energy industry to areas with lots of wind power much as we used to local Al smelters near hydro sources.  Server racks can sit pretty much anywhere.

by HiD on Mon Jan 29th, 2007 at 12:00:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This seems the fastest and most secure route to effective use of renewable sources at much higher levels.

Large-scale penetration of Plug-In and all Electric Vehicles with development of a smart(er) grid that can draw from those vehicles when the grid requires power.  

Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart. NOW!!!

by a siegel (siegeadATgmailIGNORETHISdotPLEASEcom) on Mon Jan 29th, 2007 at 12:47:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The reason I am against big barrages like the Severn scheme and in favour of tidal lagoons (particularly "mini" ones) is that the latter are so much less intrusive environmentally.

Their ability to handle pumped storage as well is just a bonus which makes them even more attractive financially.

But I am 100% with you on the electric car/fuel cell as storage point, which adds to my existing interest in

http://www.autoindustry.co.uk/articles/05-06-06

which is backed by some extremely well-connected auto world people.

Building a car around the fuel cell, rather than vice versa seems like the way to go, and they have brought the necessary fuel cell capacity (and hence cost) right down, which is the key.

I'm also interested in the "Open Source" thinking, because I believe it is possible to come up with a half-way house between "Open Source" ands "Proprietary", but that's another story.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Mon Jan 29th, 2007 at 05:39:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What about energy storage in combination with wind generation? For example each windmill could be tied to a storage facility such as an elevated water storage tank or perhaps even a large weight that was lifted to a certain height. Or perhaps the energy could be stored underground in the form of compressed air or something similar.

Or is it assumed that whenever wind energy is available it will be used and other sources taken off line so that there will never be a period of surplus wind power?

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Sun Jan 28th, 2007 at 07:00:44 PM EST
You and Laurent GUERBY both pose essentially the same question, that of utility scale energy storage.  That is the Holy Grail of electrical energy supply.  In my opinion the development of a feasible, reliable, economical technology for utility scale storage would instantly catapult most of the renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power to the top of our list of preferred sources.  Absent such technology, deployed on a wide scale, wide spread uncertainty about the inherently intermittent nature of most renewable sources threatens to handicap the debate about them.

What you describe is essentially Pumped-Storage Hydro, my personal favorite for utility scale storage technology of choice.  It is already a proven and widely deployed technology in the US.  Unfortunately, most of the good sites are already in use, at least in my country.  I'm not that familiar with pumped-storage facilities in other parts of the world.

Laurent's suggestion of hydrogen as a storage medium is, I think, a promising alternative.  I would like to see significant investment in research and development on hydrogen conversion and storage as a part of any comprehensive energy strategy.

Now where are we going and what's with the handbasket?

by budr on Sun Jan 28th, 2007 at 07:33:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think all current pumped storage facilities are fairly large. This disrupts the environment and causes all sort of NIMBY problems.

What I'm wondering about is a storage facility that is incorporated in the windmill itself. We live in a very flat area and every village has a water tower. This fits on a lot not much larger than a typical house site. Ground water is pumped up (about 100 feet or 30 meters) and then gravity is used to provide the water pressure to the homes. Just imagine if each water tower had a windmill on top, or rather that each windmill was on top of a water tank. The water doesn't need to be part of any municipal system it could just shuttle between an underground and raised tank. How large would the tank need to be (or how high) to store a reasonable amount of power and how would this affect the economics of the project?

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Sun Jan 28th, 2007 at 08:23:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
a water tank big enough to supply surge capacity between a constant supply source and intermittent demand for water is tiny compared to the amount of water you need to run downhill to make enough electricty to take the swings out of a windfarm system.
by HiD on Sun Jan 28th, 2007 at 08:52:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
check this out:

from wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pumped_storage_hydroelectricity

The relatively low energy density of pumped storage systems requires either a very large body of water or a large variation in height. For example, 1000 kilograms of water (1 cubic meter) at the top of a 100 meter tower has a potential energy of about 0.272 kW·h. The only way to store a significant amount of energy is by having a large body of water located on a hill relatively near, but as high as possible above, a second body of water

if 1m3 at 100 meter only gets you 0.25 kWhr, that's going to be one big ass tank

by HiD on Sun Jan 28th, 2007 at 11:46:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I can't answer your question directly, because I don't know.  But I can speculate with the best of them.  Hydro represents pure kinetic energy.  You can store such energy by raising mass up the gravity well.  You can store more energy by raising more mass, or by raising it higher.  

In terms of hydro power, that translates into greater volumes of water, or of greater head, heighth of the column of water.  I have seen numbers relating acre feet of water vs head heighth to MWH of energy stored.  The numbers are huge, generally in terms of volume since available head heighth is usually limited to at most a few hundred feet and dictated by the site.  As best I remember, the volumes of water required to produce a MWH of energy are in the millions of tons.  Granted, the numbers I'm thinking of relate to large hydro projects, but still, the numbers are very large.

I'm thinking storage on the scale of single wind turbines would still involve either relatively great heights or relatively large volumes of water.  If there is any merit to my speculation, a big if, then I would wonder about the relative economics of individual turbine scale storage vs larger scale storage.  Again, I don't know any of that for a fact, just guessing.  I would be glad to hear from anyone who has better information.  

Now where are we going and what's with the handbasket?

by budr on Sun Jan 28th, 2007 at 09:21:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
great news!

why mess with water when any weight will do, and some are so much denser?

anyone remeber those cuckoo clcks where you pulle a chain to raise a weight, and then it slowly ran down, powering the clock?

having said that, i do think that many of our best initiatives will be to encourage swamps, estuaries, marshlands, bayous and fens, because per acre these support the most fauna, much of it edible.

i aslso believe we will make water a much bigger feature of planned landscapes, for its aesthetic and therapeutic value, as much as for storage.

so much rainwater rubs off uncaught, leading to such absurd scenarios as rainy england suffering intense water shortage.

for terraforming, grey water purification, and aquaculture/greenhouse combos, expect to see much heightened consciousness of water, its preciousnessness and its balancing qualities on many levels.

aquarius - the water-bearer...

can we imagine if a tiny portion of the 8 billion$ a month poured into the black hole of baghdad were redirected into battery research?

instead of 'assault-and-battery'?

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Jan 28th, 2007 at 11:00:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
water is a lot easier to move up and down than solids.  I don't want to think about how complicated and expensive a mechanical system of weights and pulleys would be.

People are exploring spinning flywheels and battery systems though.

by HiD on Sun Jan 28th, 2007 at 11:48:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
can we imagine if a tiny portion of the 8 billion$ a month poured into the black hole of baghdad were redirected into battery research?

Indeed.  Talk about opportunity cost...

Now where are we going and what's with the handbasket?

by budr on Mon Jan 29th, 2007 at 06:44:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A rough estimate regarding pumped storage:

Ignoring moderate inefficiencies, storing energy by lifting stuff requires 100 kg-m per kilowatt-second. Choosing a numerically convenient tower height of 36 m, the amount of water required is 10 tonnes per kW-hr.

Choosing some round numbers, a small town might consume 10 MW; at this power delivery rate, a 10 hr energy-storage buffer would require a million tonnes lifted 36 meters. A million tons is about 10 times the mass of this nuclear-powered, Nimitz-class aircraft carrier:

BTW, the U.S. is now fitting out the USS George H. W. Bush, the tenth of this class.

Words and ideas I offer here may be used freely and without attribution.

by technopolitical on Mon Jan 29th, 2007 at 12:00:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Another example of a million tons is a square kilometre of water one meter deep; this gives a sense of why pumped storage into a reservoir can be practical.

Words and ideas I offer here may be used freely and without attribution.
by technopolitical on Mon Jan 29th, 2007 at 12:13:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
From google:

http://www.evworld.com/library/abrooks_carb_nov2_05.pdf


Hydrogen Production with Electricity

65 kWh per kg : Stuart datasheet, and
as derived from Honda's published data
on solar hydrogen station

  • Includes electrolysis and compression
  • In a fuel cell, 1 kg of hydrogen produces
about 16 kWh of electricity to drive the
wheels (50% efficiency)
* 65 kWh in; 16 kWh out
Overall efficiency 25%;
75% of input energy is lost

Also found this

http://www.nap.edu/openbook/0309091632/html/227.html

Hydrogen Production by Electrolysis from Wind Power

Hydrogen production from wind power and electrolysis is a particularly interesting proposition since, as just discussed, among renewable sources, wind power is economically the most competitive, with electricity prices at 4 to 5 cents/kWh at the best wind sites (without subsidies). This means that wind power can generate hydrogen at lower costs than those for any of the other renewable options available today.

In the committee's analysis, it considered wind deployed on a distributed scale, thus bypassing the extra costs and requirements of hydrogen distribution. Since hydrogen from wind energy can be produced close to where it will be used, there is a clear role for it to play in the early years of hydrogen infrastructure development, especially as the committee believes that a hydrogen economy is most likely, at least initially, to develop in a distributed manner.

For distributed wind-electrolysis-hydrogen generation systems, it is estimated that by using today's technologies hydrogen can be produced at good wind sites (class 4 and above) without a production tax credit for approximately $6.64/kg H2, using grid electricity as backup for when the wind is not blowing. The committee's analysis considers a system that uses the grid as backup to alleviate the capital underutilization of the electrolyzer with a wind capacity factor of 30 percent. It assumes an average cost of electricity generated by wind of 6 cents/kWh (including transmission costs), while the cost of grid electricity is pegged at 7 cents/kWh, a typical commercial rate. This hybrid hydrogen production system has pros and cons. It reduces the cost of producing the hydrogen, which without grid backup would otherwise be $10.69/kg H2, but it also incurs CO2 emissions from what would otherwise be an emission-free hydrogen production system. The CO2 emissions are a product of using grid electricity; they are 3.35 kg C per kilogram of hydrogen.

In the future the wind-electrolysis-hydrogen system could be substantially optimized. The wind turbine technology could improve, reducing the cost of electricity to 4 cents/kWh with an increased capacity factor of 40 percent, as discussed previously, and the electrolyzer could also come down substantially in cost and could increase in efficiency (see the discussion in the section "Hydrogen from Electrolysis"). The combination of the increase in capacity factor and the reduction in the capital cost of the electrolyzer and cost of wind-generated electricity results in eliminating the need for using grid electricity (price still pegged at 7 cents/kWh) as a backup. The wind machines and the electrolyzer are assumed to be made large enough that sufficient hydrogen can be generated during the 40 percent of the time that the wind turbines are assumed to provide electricity. Due to the assumed reductions in the cost of the electrolyzer and the cost of wind-turbine-generated electricity, this option is now less costly than using a smaller electrolyzer and purchasing grid-supplied electricity when the wind turbine is not generating electricity. Hydrogen produced in this manner from wind with no grid backup is estimated to cost $2.85/kg H2, while for the alternative system with grid backup it is $3.38/kg H2. Furthermore, there is now the added advantage of a hydrogen production system that is CO2-emission free. The results of the committee's analysis are summarized in Table G-8.

Wind-electrolysis-hydrogen production systems are currently far from optimized. For example, the design of wind turbines has to date been geared toward electricity production, not hydrogen. To optimize for better hydrogen production, integrated power control systems between the wind turbine and electrolyzer need to be analyzed, as should hydrogen storage tailored to the wind turbine design. Furthermore, there is the potential to design a system that can coproduce electricity and hydrogen from wind. Under the right circumstances this could be more cost-effective and

by Laurent GUERBY on Mon Jan 29th, 2007 at 08:06:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Another one :

http://www.efcf.com/reports/E05.pdf

Most report are negative about the use of hydrogen (especially because of low density).

I still think people underestimate the NIMBY issue, we may not have much land spots that meet all requirements (and it would be just like oil politically some with it some without)

Now, if we want to take advantage of offshore wind to store energy for later use, what else?

Grow some alguae, jolt them and bingo methane or something? :)

by Laurent GUERBY on Mon Jan 29th, 2007 at 02:19:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
For closed cycle pumped storage hydro, there is water storage of some sort at both the top and bottom, so all that is required is the access to enough water to fill the system and replace indicidental losses, and the elevation.

It is, indeed, common to site it away from river/lake, to avoid the conventional hydro regulatory burden.

This is sometimes called "modular" ... because it can be produced from modular components rather than tailored to each site like a conventional hydro installation.

There would seem to be quite a large number of suitable sites (100m+ drop) in the Southwest for the solar resource in the desert Southwest, in the Mountain West for the wind resource in the Dakotas, and in the Appalachias for the wind resource in the Great Lakes.

Indeed, this would be an interesting target for a feebate program ... using taxes on externalities involved with fossil fuels to fund the capital costs of this kind of support infrastructure for renewable resources.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Jan 29th, 2007 at 02:44:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
http://www.aw-energy.com/page_1_4.html

You might like to take a look at the latest developments in the bottom wave energy project which I reported last year (disclaimer: a former communications client of mine)

It has now reached the stage of a pilot plant that will be connected to the grid this year.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Jan 29th, 2007 at 03:18:27 AM EST
So it's reached the stage solar energy was 30 years ago. And if its development follows the same pattern, it will produce commercially useful amounts of electricity in 60 years or so. Thank goodness for bottom wave energy, otherwise there would be no answer to peak oil.
by richardk (richard kulisz gmail) on Mon Jan 29th, 2007 at 11:02:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You are an idiot. I will no longer defend you...

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Jan 29th, 2007 at 12:28:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Your conclusions are fucked Jerome. I read your quotes and they clearly state the exact opposite of what you're trying to conclude.

From your own quotes:

For example, for 8000MW of wind (e.g. in line with Government's 2010 target of 10% renewables), around 3000MW of conventional capacity (equivalent to some 37% of the wind capacity) can be retired without any increased probability that load reductions would be required due to generation shortages on cold days. However, as the amount of wind increases, the proportion of conventional capacity that can be displaced without eroding the level of security reduces. For example, for 25000MW of wind only 5000MW (i.e. 20% of the wind capacity) of conventional capacity can be retired. This implies that, for larger wind penetrations, the wind capacity that can be taken as firm is not proportional to the expected wind energy production. It follows that the electricity market will need to maintain in service a larger proportion of conventional generation capacity despite reduced load factors. Such plant is often referred to as "standby plant".

The negligible costs of the former (10% capacity) are of course entirely irrelevant since we already know that you can go up to 20% capacity in Germany.

In order to displace the next 10% block of existing capacity, you have to use more than 3x as many wind turbines as for the first block of capacity.

That's because for the first block, the wind turbines can be used at 37% load factor, while for the second block they can only be used at 12% load factor.

Which means that the price of windpower is tripled.

I do not call these "negligeable" costs and I do not see how you can either. Or how you can mislead by association, implying that since the first block's balancing costs are negligeable then the second block's balancing costs are negligeable.

But more than anything, these are your figures. Your figures which state that wind power triples in cost (for the UK) as you go from 10% of generation to 20% of generation. Wanna bet how much wind power costs in the third block?

We have here a geometric progression. Which makes wind power "fucking useless".

by richardk (richard kulisz gmail) on Mon Jan 29th, 2007 at 10:31:10 AM EST
It does not triple the cost of wind, it triples the capacity that needs to remain in standby, which is not quite the same thing, because that capacity is already here, and it will not need to be used, because the kWh of wind can replace conventional kWh almost one for one (that would be the red line in the graph above).

Capacity and generation are not the same thing, as you well know.

The price that matters is the price per kWh, not per MW.

So the good news is that wind can reach high proportion of generation penetration. So what if we have to keep plenty of (already built) conventional power plants to ensure the safety of the system? They will not pollute and will not emit carbon because they will (almost) not be used.

Ta da!

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Jan 29th, 2007 at 11:03:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It doubles (I made a mistake, it's not triple) the size and cost of the reserve capacity. Especially spinning reserve capacity. For low wind capacity, that reserve capacity is already there. Which is why balancing costs are cheap for low capacity. For higher capacity, well we just don't know, do we? Nothing you quote and nothing you mention really talks about the structure of existing generation capacity.

Furthermore, what you say in

That means that any wind farm which is built, including when penetration will already be quite high, will provide "real" capacity, and real kWh that only very marginally need to be backed up by conventional capacity, as shown from this graph, from a

is just screwed up. The graph you refer to doesn't support you, it disproves you. The "real" capacity which a wind turbine provides is the delta in the lower curve (what it displaces). How much backup it requires is the difference between the deltas of the upper and lower curves. Already at 50% of energy production, adding more wind turbines produces no additional "real" capacity (displaces nothing). At that point, wind turbines have to be matched almost 1 to 1 by some backup form of generating capacity.

This is probably the poorest article of yours I've read. The reasoning and argumentation are just that poor. Nothing you say connects, it's all a bunch of meaningless slogans and mumbo jumbo. You usually only do that when you step way out of your field of expertise.

What you say here has at least a semblance of an argument. And that argument, when stated plainly, is "backup capacity for wind power can be had cheaply because the power plants are already build and can't be moved, so we can forcibly appropriate them from their owners for a song".

You're entirely ignoring that their owners might decide to not go along with your snazzy plan by, for example, selling their plants for scrap. You're also ignoring the operations costs of being on standby, which I admit are negligeable compared to fuel costs. And that certain power plants (coal) might not be suitable as backup reserve.

And you're especially ignoring that at the end of the current crop of gas plants' useful life, you're going to have to build a new generation of gas plants to serve as reserve capacity. And YOU will have to pay for them because they will not have been built.

You're trying to justify the cheap cost of backup reserve for renewable generation on the basis of unsustainable market conditions. This is just wrong.

by richardk (richard kulisz gmail) on Mon Jan 29th, 2007 at 12:01:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
OK

Instead of


That means that any wind farm which is built, including when penetration will already be quite high, will provide "real" capacity, and real kWh that only very marginally need to be backed up by conventional capacity, as shown from this graph, from a

I should have written:


That means that any wind farm which is built, including when penetration will already be quite high, will provide "real" capacity, and real kWh that only very marginally need to be backed up by conventional generation, as shown from this graph, from a

That was sloppy. But the main point stands: wind can replace conventional kWh, even if it cannot replace conventional MW.

As to the poor owners of the existing capacity, I fail to see where they will lose out. Marginal prices will still be determined by them pretty much all the time, so they will get whatever returns they want to have by bidding appropriately their power on the grid - knowing that lots of cheap wind kWh will be displacing the dispatch curve somewhat. The cheapest conventional will still be around (nuclear), and gas fired plants will be able to sell spinning reserves and peak capacity.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Jan 29th, 2007 at 12:13:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, you shouldn't have written that because it's even sloppier. First, it's tautological. And second, the graph doesn't say anything of the kind.

Being able to draw a straight line in a graph doesn't mean that it's actually feasible in reality. And none of your quotes say it is actually feasible because none of them address the > 30% generation scenario.

None of them are concerned with wastage and you never address the issue yourself. See my other comment below.

Quick question: how much wind power capacity would it take to generate 100% of a country's electric production?

If I wanted to, I could take that chart of yours into photoshop and extend the line all the way up to 100% of energy produced. That wouldn't make the chart meaningful since the scenario where wind power generates 100% of all electricity is absurd.

But why is it absurd? Because of wastage. Wastage which the chart you're pointing to blithely ignores. That chart gave you the impression that wastage wouldn't occur at 50% energy production but it would.

The chart lies. It lies by making you think the red line can be extended to 50% without any change in wind power's cost because of wastage.

As for the poor owners of the existing capacity, I don't cry any tears for them because the scenario you outlined, where they were forced to eat losses, is never going to happen. Wind power is never going to be that big a fraction of the energy mix.

by richardk (richard kulisz gmail) on Mon Jan 29th, 2007 at 12:32:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Worryign about what happens when wind reaches 50% when we haven't yet gone above 10% is pointless. Let's get to 30% and then your points might have some relevance.

Until then, you're just objectively helping the coal industry.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Jan 29th, 2007 at 12:42:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I could say the same thing about you. Wind power can't kill the coal industry for many reasons. It hasn't got the potential, it hasn't got the political goodwill (from grid operators), and it hasn't got the necessary low cost. Nuclear power has all of those things. So nuclear is the coal-killer and wind power is the distraction saving coal.
by richardk (richard kulisz gmail) on Mon Jan 29th, 2007 at 01:01:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You will note that I never criticize the nuclear industry while pushing wind. Both are needed. Why can't you return the courtesy?

All the time you spend criticizing what might be an issue with wind generation in 10 or 20 years is time not spent criticising coal. It's a pity.

Also, it's not quite true that wind cannot kill coal. If externalities are properly accounted for (starting with carbon emissions, something now under way) then coal is not very competitive against wind.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Jan 29th, 2007 at 01:21:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Because I disagree that "both are needed". Nuclear is needed, wind is optional.

Note that beyond the 100 / 50 % divide, there's the fact that wind has to be augmented with hydroelectric dams or gas production. The former is enormously destructive environmentally and the latter is enormously draining economically. So if a country such as Turkey is going to be building 2 nuclear power plants, better it build 4 or 8. Especially since you get further economies of scale the more you build.

As for wind killing coal, that proposition is a little dubious. What advantage does wind have over nuclear? Does construction of a wind farm take less time than a nuclear power plant? Do the environmental studies take less time?

Never mind the fact that global wind turbine production capacity is booked solid for the next several years while nuclear production could be quickly ramped up. Probably because hey, 3x as many turbines.

Nevermind also that offshore wind farms cost much more than onshore ones. Nevermind that siting is much more difficult. Nevermind that the grid connections have to be more sophisticated.

Nevermind also the fact that the people who push windfarms, and photovoltaics, are the same crazy idiots who want to kill nuclear power. That's not you, but it doesn't exactly make me like wind power.

So speaking objectively, and not of smoke and mirrors, what's to like about wind farms?

by richardk (richard kulisz gmail) on Mon Jan 29th, 2007 at 02:29:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Note that none of your snazzy graphs, or any of your quotes, proves that wind generation capacity above 30% average energy production isn't wasted.

As soon as the average wind production (as a fraction of the system's total) exceeds your average load factor, exceptionally windy days will produce more than 100% of needed electricity. At 40% of average energy production, you definitely have some waste. At 50%, you have still more waste.

The balancing costs (demands for backup) produce an S-curve that starts low and hits a high point when you need 1-1 matching of wind with backup.

The waste costs produce a geometrically increasing curve that starts at 0% waste at <average load factor> and increases geometrically as you add wind turbines to the system.

The neat little graph with the red and purple lines doesn't say anything at all about wastage. The fact that something is "technically" possible doesn't say anything about its economics. Especially when you ignore some of the costs.

by richardk (richard kulisz gmail) on Mon Jan 29th, 2007 at 12:21:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]

As soon as the average wind production (as a fraction of the system's total) exceeds your average load factor, exceptionally windy days will produce more than 100% of needed electricity. At 40% of average energy production, you definitely have some waste. At 50%, you have still more waste.

One of the authors of the report has provided a separate presentation, which I did not link to (I'll post the link later, I do not have it on this computer) where he suggested to curtail wind power at no more than 50% of total production, in kWh. He showed that even with 40% wind penetration, the number of hours per year when this would eliminate wind production was very low, and with a negligible cost.

In any case, you seem to worry a bit too much about what happens when wind reaches such high penetration. Let's get there first. There are no obstacles, nor costs, to get there, so let's worry about building this, which will have a very real impact on emissions.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Jan 29th, 2007 at 12:40:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You have very little ambition.

The carbon dioxide production in industrialized countries needs to be reduced by greater than 90%. Not 50%, greater than 90%.

Producing steel releases CO2 as a byproduct. So does producing copper, silicon, concrete and even aluminum. And aluminum is produced by electrolysis!

If the industrial countries are to reduce their carbon dioxide output while maintaining their industrial production. And if the developing countries are to increase their own productions, it's pretty clear that there can be no allowance made for the energy sector.

The energy sector has to become completely carbon free by 2050. Not "let's dream about 50% some time in the far off future" but "we need to get rid of CO2 right here and now".

Wastage might be tolerable up to 50% of energy production but it increases geometrically as you add capacity. And since there is a non-zero chance that all of a country's windmills cannot spin on a given day, either because of too little wind or too much wind, the waste curve rises to infinity as production approaches 100%. So it's not even geometric, it's worse.

In the big picture, wind power is useless. It is definitely useful for niche applications like pumping water in isolated communities, but not for large scale decarbonization of the energy sector. For the industrial energy grid, wind power is entirely useless and is in any case not as good an option as nuclear power.

We need to push for nuclear power with everything we have because wind power is just not good enough. And because the developing countries will experience a lag. The sooner and more completely Europe switches over to all-nuclear, the less intransigent China and India will be.

by richardk (richard kulisz gmail) on Mon Jan 29th, 2007 at 12:58:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
George Monbiot, the anti-nuclear fanatic says the UK needs to cut CO2 emissions by 87% by 2030. Good luck doing that with wind power.
by richardk (richard kulisz gmail) on Mon Jan 29th, 2007 at 01:04:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Where did you ever see that I wanted to go with wind alone?

I've always stated that we need to pursue all possible solutions, with the following order of priority:

  • conservation and energy efficiency
  • wind
  • nuclear
  • others

If we go to 30% wind with lower consumption, nuclear can easily cover the gap, with a few gas plants for network stability and peaking needs.

Do remember that I'm in France, so your arguments to do more nuclear sometimes sound silly to me from my EDF-fuelled perspective...

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Jan 29th, 2007 at 01:33:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You know what's really funny? Richardk's ranking of energy sources (including "negawatts" from conservation) in his diary on implications ot technology matches your ranking.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jan 29th, 2007 at 01:36:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Energy

  • conservation
  • shifting demand to off-peak hours
  • nuclear, hydro [update]
  • wind
  • oil, gas; the global warming costs of past usage may easily climb into the tens of trillion USD range
  • coal




In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Jan 29th, 2007 at 01:41:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Where [update] means that wind and nuclear traded places.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jan 29th, 2007 at 02:06:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And conservation isn't monolithic by any means. There's a study on http://nuclearinfo.net about the cost of conservation measures in Australia. The costs of the measures was geometric and only the first block of conservation was cost-effective.

It's odd to think of giant nuclear plants as a tool for the masses. The only thing I can think of to reconcile the two views is that nuclear's non-modularity (you need a half-dozen nuclear plants to get to the cheap rates) adds extra non-monetary costs.

I've learned a great deal about energy production in the last year, since I first made that list.

by richardk (richard kulisz gmail) on Mon Jan 29th, 2007 at 02:15:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
sweet

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Jan 29th, 2007 at 04:43:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
http://www.electricitypolicy.org.uk/events/seminars/sinden.pdf



In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Jan 29th, 2007 at 04:52:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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