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I'm thinking you could run an icehouse on a wind turbine even with 25% availability.  Or a chilled water plant.  Or even municipal water pumps, if the locality has enough water tower capacity.  If you want to save power, you have to go where it's used, even if it's cities.
by tjbuff (timhess@adelphia.net) on Fri Jan 23rd, 2009 at 10:16:04 AM EST
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... that is 500 miles away that has twice the wind energy available, it makes sense to site a wind farm there, and to bring the electricity to the user that can use intermittently available power, by offering a discount to use power when its more abundant.

On the one hand, doing it that way there is less total intermittency, since access to a greater variety of intermittent energy sources results in a higher minimum amount of power available (as well as lower maximum amount) per user ... connect wind farms from multiple wind regions together, and it is much less intermittent than an individual windmill driving an individual use.

And on the other hand, doing it that way means a much greater range of potential variable demand users ... once the ability is in place to do time of day metering and transmit availability of time of day discounts - the widely discussed "SmartGrid" technology ... all users that can benefit from varying demand to match supply have an incentive to do so.

Both in the US and the EU, we already have substantial swing production on many grids in the form of the main hydropower generators, which are already used to dispatch their available power when it is most valuable. And tying together grids to reduce the aggregate volatility of volatile energy sources also means that readily dispatchable renewable power is more broadly shared.

That alone is the basis, in the analysis in the US DoEnergy report, for effectively accommodating 20% wind power by 2020 (that is not a maximum, of course ... the task of the report was to report on the feasibility of 20% by 2020). And, of course, that does not constrain the ability of the grid to take up other volatile, "use it or lose it" energy sources, provided they are not highly positively correlated with fluctuations in availability of wind energy.

It follows that greater demand flexibility would allow accommodating additional wind power, over and above the amount allowed by nationwide (US) / unionwide (EU) Electricity Superhighways and existing hydro resources and the balance of dispatchable generating capacity.

Further down the track, we can imagine the combination of solar thermal heat collection and heat collection from the exhaust of the first stage of gas turbines stored as heat in molten salts that are used for thermal power generation that can be more readily tailored to peak demand loads in the context of the cycle. The availability of substantial hydro power capacity and substantial responsive demand means that if we are getting supply matched to demand on an eight hour cycle, the ability to fine tune to availability of volatile power sources and non-responsive energy demands is already in the system.

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 Fri Jan 23rd, 2009 at 10:52:48 AM EST
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