2010-11-21 06:08:10Renewables can't provide baseload power rebuttal - feedback
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
71.137.148.215
I drafted up a rebuttal to the argument "renewables can't provide baseload power".  Feedback would be appreciated.  Currently I've got it as the Intermediate level rebuttal, but I'd also appreciate feedback as to whether it's an appropriate level for Intermediate.
2010-11-21 10:02:49
Riccardo

riccardoreitano@tiscali...
151.97.21.221

Good for intermediate level.

I think that in the first section you should say a bit more on how peak demand is currently covered.

Just to be a bit patrioctic :), the first CSP research plant using molten salt both as heat carrirer and heat storage liquid as been recently put into production. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/jul/22/first-molten-salt-solar-power)

Section geothermal, second paragraph, second line,  "which which doesn't require ..."

2010-11-21 10:59:27thanks
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
71.137.148.215

Thanks Riccardo, I'd forgotten about the Sicily plant.

Do you have a specific suggestion how to augment the first section?

2010-11-21 20:40:24
Riccardo

riccardoreitano@tiscali...
93.147.82.92
My point is to say a few words on current energy production structure, coal and oil (and nuclear) for baseload, gas and hydro for peak demand. Caol and oil are cheap, dirty and the plant output cannot be varied easily. Hydro is cheap too, clean and good for both baseload and peak demand. Gas is not clean but less dirty than coal and oil, more expensive and used for peak demand. The investments costs are high for coal, oil and very high for nuclear, and the return time of the investements long.
In a few words, just a bit about the context in which alternatives are going to operate.

2010-11-21 20:56:38
MarkR
Mark Richardson
m.t.richardson2@gmail...
78.149.133.56

I'd suggest making it obvious that "backup" must be included in the cost of renewable energy, which means that in the short term it's unattractive (since renewable is generally more expensive anyway! Never mind the connections and backup).We can use gas at the moment since it's cheaper than batteries, but it's also inefficient to use it as spinning reserve.

 

A few more papers and studies on potential effects wouldn't hurt. iirc the UK National Grid did one and found that up to 20% of UK electricity could come from renewables without troubling the current grid.

I'd also consider mentioning thermal storage, which looks fantastically promising:

http://www.isentropic.co.uk/index.php?page=storage

 

 

I spoke to renewable energy experts quite a lot during my masters and I think it's only fair to get across that, whilst we have the technology for baseload renewable power, we are currently some distance from the economics.

In the short term, however, that's not a huge problem. Intermittent renewables can provide 10-20% of our electricity with hydro and geothermal on top of that. Even if we continued wind's exceptional growth, it'll be over a decade before we start needing big storage levels!

2010-11-22 07:51:03thanks
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
71.137.148.215
Okay I made some updates to incorporate Riccardo and Mark's comments.  Hopefully I covered everything.  Let me know if there are any other comments.
2010-11-23 17:36:27Storage research
Jim Meador

jimm58@gmail...
99.38.250.207

One thing about temporary storage of energy is that it is a relatively new problem. The old way to solve it was to build more fossil fuel plants.  Apart from pumped hydro, there are few available mature storage technologies. It seems likely that by the time renewable energy sources begin to displace a significant part of hydrocarbon generation, there will be new storage technologies coming into play. The US DOE has made storage one if its research priorities, and there is a list of recent research grants here. (Scroll down to "Grid-Scale Rampable Intermittent Dispatchable Storage (GRIDS)".

To say in 2010 that there is currently no practical way to store renewable power to meet baseline loads is like saying in 1908 that there is currently no network of airports to facilitate air travel.

There is a difference between "can't be done" and "can't be done today".

2010-11-24 03:31:59good point
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
38.223.231.252
Good point, Jim.  I'll add a bit about those research grants and potential to develop new technologies.
2010-11-24 18:03:04
Glenn Tamblyn

glenn@thefoodgallery.com...
121.214.177.166

Dana

Sorry I am coming to this a bit late.

Several points to consider. The extent to which Baseload power is partly true baseload, and what part of it is policy generated. Here in Australia we have Off-Peak power at around 40% of Peak power. This is to try and shift demand to the quiet periods to maximise how much of the demand curve is baseload. This is because the biggest most efficient and cheapest power sources (ignoring GH Gase emissions) are large Coal based Staem Turbine plants. These can take 1 to several days to spin up from stone-cold and when running can only be 'throttled back' by a limited extent - I believe only to about 80%. And if the power is being generated it has to be used; Pumping mor electrons into a grid than are being pulled out is a VERY BAD THING. Think giant capacitors. So using pricing policy to shift demand to quiet times allowed a higher percentage of the generation capcity to be cheap.

As we move to renewables, we can use policy to move demand to other times - midday for solar for example. So we need to be clear which parts of 'baseload' really are base.

I read a report some time ago, done by a company promoting renewables in California, looking at how renewables could supply essentially all power demand with some Nuclear. This was based on matching hypothetical renewable installations with known supply characteristics to the actuakl demand curve from California. Unfortunately I can't fin the source - maybe someone else knows. Also here is an article in SciAm recently on this http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=a-path-to-sustainable-energy-by-2030

Key in this is using the characteristics of the different renewables to balance out each others limitations. Also the distribution grid needs to be able to support this. A major area that will improve this is the use of Very High Voltage (VHV) DC rather  than AC. This allows transmission of powre over much greater distances with lower losses than AC but is technically more complex due to the need for Ac-DC conversion of very high power. But this allows balancing of supply sources over very large distances.

2010-11-25 02:20:19
MarkR
Mark Richardson
m.t.richardson2@gmail...
134.225.187.80

I can't see the SciAm piece, but I think it uses averages over a long time to determine when renewable power happens. (iirc?)

 

i.e. on a cloudy day with low winds you're fucked.

 


I could be thinking of another piece, but in general my research suggests that renewables are largely useless as full replacements until you have good energy storage (and demand management can really help out too). Either way, these add to the costs of renewables. It really shows we need lots more breakthroughs: onshore wind turbines might be very close to grid parity if you just look at production costs, but you have to add on some storage and most pro-renewables groups don't cover this properly.

 

I imagine this will push back 'true' grid parity by 5-10 years.

2010-11-25 11:55:37intermediate
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
71.137.148.215
I don't want to get too detailed here either.  This is just the Intermediate level rebuttal, and it's already got quite a bit of detail regarding the various ways renewables can provide baseload power and a discussion about whether or not they even need to in the short-term.
2010-11-28 06:31:12comments
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
71.137.148.215

Ugh, some of the comments on this article are just painful.  t23 especially -

"I am resentful this article was posted, as it is a bunch of half-truths at best, which damage the stellar reputability of this blog. Here is my list of objections:"

His list of objections then show that he didn't even bother to read the article.  His first objection is that all renewable energy sources were rejected 200 years ago so we shouldn't even be using them now.  WTF?  His third objection directly contradicts the article.  And so on and so forth.  Makes me wonder if he works at a coal power plant or something.

Oh well, I guess some annoying comments are to be expected in climate solutions posts.  These are much more annoying than my economics of carbon pricing post though.

2010-11-28 18:42:09
Glenn Tamblyn

glenn@thefoodgallery.com...
124.181.73.184

Dana

This is why SkS is moving into this area. To generate debate, not always friendly. And discussions about technologies will bring in voices with strong views - debates about technologies and their viability can be every but as tense as debate about AGW itself.

Many of these voices will bring useful insights to a discussion, just due to their cantakerousness. And they may well have insights about the technologies that are useful in the discussion.

Simple question. Gave you ever seen a post  from t23 here at SkS before? I haven't. So this subject drew him/her/it out. Maybe that's the point.

When we post, we aren't just trying to put a point of view. We are trying to elicit enagement. I am far more heatrened by the person who is passionately opposed to me than the person who just lurk's.

 

2010-11-29 09:30:53
Riccardo

riccardoreitano@tiscali...
93.147.82.108

Dana

it's a completely different playground, it's not good old science anymore. I agree with Glenn, the new goal is to generate discussions and we should not presume it will be less polarized. You did a good job in framing the discussion on the potential of renewable as baselod; the reaction of the pro-nuclear folks has been exactly as expected. The good thing is that we are now exploring the possibilities we have for our, hopefully near future,

In case you missed it, a new paper on phasing out coal in the US.

2010-11-29 11:18:22discussions
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
71.137.148.215

I'm all for engaging in good discussions.  It just bugs me when people completely ignore the article itself while simultaneously criticizing it.

I thought I remembered seeing t23 before - probably obsessing over nuclear power in other comments too.