The European Tribune is a forum for thoughtful dialogue of European and international issues. You are invited to post comments and your own articles.
Please REGISTER to post.
Do you have any statistics on what excess has to be built into the system to ensure constant supply when the amount available from renewables is low - if there is a long period of calm winds for example?
Like Jerome I would place nuclear fission low on a list of options and would want equal or greater investment in micro generation and renewables. There are considerable resources lying disused in the UK where historically the water courses have been shaped to provide things like mill runs so that water grain mills and later water powered industries thrived. These fell into disuse with the introduction of steam but a lot of the infrastucture is still there if hidden under overgrowth.
One is that at present levels of renewables in medium-sized countries (e.g. Germany, the UK, France, to some extent importing-from-France Spain, but not mismanaged Italy), already existing excess capacities are enough. The main reason is that excess capacities were built to be capable to jump in when a large power plant, say a four-block nuclear power plant with 3.2 GW, breaks down - and this excess capacity is even ensured on a regional basis. Intermittance fluctuations are of the same magnitude.
Second, as there are economies of scale, renewables intermittance (the part that is not day/night or seasonal), especially short-term fluctuations, is also reduced in a larger system (at the price of transmission losses) - e.g. when whole weather systems are covered, the wind always blows somewhere. This is of a bit limited worth for Europe, with most wind being along the Atlantic Coast that may have low winds on the entire length, but for example for the USA, most of the intermittance could be balanced thus. (BTW, you may check in real-time the intermittance of Spanish wind power here - where I note Spanish wind is strongly concentrated in one small region, into Galicia province which is the part above Portugal. The average level to compare to is around 25% maximum capacity.)
Third, note that different renewables could balance each other's intermittance. Most directly hydro and wind (as already practised to some extent in Scandinavia): hydro would be run at varied rather than constant power to balance wind's intermittance (something that also revitalises floodplains and the river ecosystem downriver), and the water spared during strong winter winds means higher reservoir levels during summer droughts. For a more distant future, the balancing of solar and wind is another issue: intriguingly, the day/night and weather patterns of these can be combine to give not a constant power, but one roughly following the daily human usage curve!
Fourth, but this again is an issue for later, there are non-ittermittent renewables that could provide excess in the system: tidal and geothermal. I'm a bit sceptical about the former (low total potential, possible danger to marine life); as for geothermal, it is still rather expensive if we disregard non-renewables external costs, but the potential is there (I wrote more on geothermal, again with a focus on Germany, here).
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
This could be an fruitful area of research. We tend to look at the pros and cons of each type of renewable energy in isolation and each is found wanting in some way, usually for its intermittence or unpredictability. Much more useful would be a serious search for the right mix of renewables to best meet our needs.
"For a more distant future, the balancing of solar and wind is another issue: intriguingly, the day/night and weather patterns of these can be combine to give not a constant power, but one roughly following the daily human usage curve!"
I find this idea very interesting. I would be grateful for any links you might have.
We all bleed the same color.
20% of kWh means a lot more in terms of capacity (MW) as windfarms typically produce one third or less of the kWh of the baseload plants per unit of capacity due to their intermittent nature (i.e. a 200 MW wind farm produces one third of the actual electricity of a 200 MW gas powered plant).
So the cost of intermittence on the system is NOT a valid argument today and will not be for a long time to limit the construction of windfarms.
In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Oui - Dec 5 9 comments
by gmoke - Nov 28
by Oui - Dec 9
by Oui - Dec 95 comments
by Oui - Dec 815 comments
by Oui - Dec 620 comments
by Oui - Dec 612 comments
by Oui - Dec 59 comments
by Oui - Dec 44 comments
by Oui - Dec 21 comment
by Oui - Dec 168 comments
by Oui - Dec 16 comments
by gmoke - Nov 303 comments
by Oui - Nov 3012 comments
by gmoke - Nov 28
by Oui - Nov 2838 comments
by Oui - Nov 2713 comments
by Oui - Nov 2511 comments
by Oui - Nov 243 comments
by Oui - Nov 221 comment
by Oui - Nov 22
by Oui - Nov 2119 comments