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Alberta turns to natural gas after wind lessens reliability

Alberta power utility Enmax Corp. said yesterday it is building a huge new power station in Southern Alberta fired with natural gas, partly to help boost the provincial grid's reliability after Alberta's aggressive expansion into wind energy made it vulnerable to power disruption.

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape
by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 10:14:14 AM EST
Couple things, which is first blush:

  1.  The reserve plant seems oversized.

  2. This is a real issue -- which is storage for intermittency. Looks like the expansion was not well integrated with the reality that wind is not 24/7, 350 days / year (all systems go down for maintenance). Nor is wind 100% predictable. Thus, need backup/complementary/storage systems.  Seems like they did not do an integrated development.

  3. There are many current options for storage, but few (other than hydro) are really that great on large scale. This is an arena meriting research, development, testing, further investigation.

  4. There's a good chance (cross our fingers) that this natural gas plant will be an albatross a few years from now, as other storage/such paths are developed such that it is no longer required and the rising costs of post-peak NG make it the highest cost electricity.  Problem is: ratepayers will be stuck with paying for it, which reduces resources available for pursuing GHG-free options.

Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart. NOW!!!
by a siegel (siegeadATgmailIGNORETHISdotPLEASEcom) on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 04:05:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Isn't there a design, for wind powered energy plants, that consists (basically) of a whacking huge air pressure energy reserve?  IIRC, excess power is channeled into pumps that increase the air pressure inside a tank.  The potential is then used to drive the turbines during low/no wind.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 04:11:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
to do much good.  

I know those tiny compressed air cars have fairly small tanks, but they operate at very high pressure.  Much easier to build a small strong tank than a huge one.

People are looking at large scale battery systems, giant flywheels etc.  but the old reliable is pumping water uphill for later use.  

by HiD on Sun Apr 22nd, 2007 at 05:35:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There are, as I understand it, functioning versions of this.

There are also potentials for constructing versions of hydro facilities ...

Could use wind to make hydrogen (already occurring in limited cases) ... flywheel storage ... etc ...

Lots of potential storage options ... challenge is to move from the potential to cost-effective large-scale implementation.

Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart. NOW!!!

by a siegel (siegeadATgmailIGNORETHISdotPLEASEcom) on Sun Apr 22nd, 2007 at 11:57:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course, it was not mineral coal that I was talking about in my mischieviously titled Clean Coal for Energy Independence, it was biomass charcoal.

The idea was to have a readily stored renewable power source that can be brought online to fill in for lulls in renewable power sources with variable availability.

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 Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 07:09:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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