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US Energy Policy

US Energy Policy

Energy Policy

The incandescent lightbulb is now outlawed.[1]  This fact is a perfect metaphor for “energy policy.”  Should it be illegal in the United States to manufacture, sell, buy, and use a traditional incandescent light bulb?  Your informed answer to that question will provide deep insight into your views on hundreds of other energy policy questions.   (BTW, my answer is no, but I bet you guessed that.)

Energy is the lifeblood of our economy; it touches your life in a hundred ways each day.  Yet energy policy--the set of government rules and regulations that prescribe how energy is produced, delivered, and consumed--is a complex and even a chaotic subject.

Energy was an uninteresting subject for the average person prior to the OPEC Oil Embargo in 1973.  Oil prices had been stable at about $20 a barrel in real terms for nearly a century and electricity prices had declined from about 22 cents per kilowatt to about 13 cents from 1960 to 1973, even as consumption of electricity quadrupled from 1950 to 1973, as more and more homes and appliances used electricity and utilities became better at building large coal and nuclear plants.

But the OPEC Embargo changed everything about energy and energy policy.  Four points will illustrate this importance. 

  • President Jimmy Carter’s presidency (1976 to 1980) was dominated by energy issues which he characterized as the “moral equivalent of war.” 
  • A little more than two decades later a California governor was recalled because he botched an electricity crisis in California and Arnold Schwarzenegger was elected Governor. 
  • There is a widespread perception that the US has gone to war in the Middle East over oil issues.
  • The Pope of all people has recently declared war on climate change, most of which is laid at the feet of fossil energy.

Part of the complication in energy policy is that it must be addressed on many fronts; international, national, State, and local governments all have a role in stirring the pot. 

Many books and articles are written on very specific aspects of energy policy but most are written for other experts.  Surprisingly, few are written that cover the broad landscape of energy policy.  Even fewer of these writings take a strong market-oriented perspective; the vast majority take an interventionist approach largely for environmental and oil import reasons.  And none that I have found are addressed to the pro-market political activist who has a real job during the day and then tries to save the country in his or her spare time.  This discussion is for that heroic citizen, The Forgotten Man.

So what’s the bottom line on energy policy? 

  • First, we make energy policy much more difficult than it has to be.  Energy is a commodity just like wheat or cars or hamburgers.  Mostly, we rely on competitive markets in each of these other commodity industries to make sure that we have an adequate supply to meet the consumers’ needs at reasonable prices.  But we treat energy differently.  I venture to guess that there are only a few industries more affected by government intervention than energy.  Why is that?  Does that mean we benefit from that intervention?  Is there a better way?  The article explores these questions.
  • Second, right now energy policy is being driven by climate change.  Even if one is sympathetic to some of the claims made about climate change, many stupid actions are being taken in its name that has profoundly negative effects on energy markets. 
  • Third, oil issues get the most attention but we do not face any real danger in oil markets.  Oil trades in global markets and while there may be price fluctuations (as I write, oil is about $35 a barrel, having been over $100 in the recent past), we will never face a situation where we run out of oil.  Most countries with plentiful oil have built their economies on oil revenue and the recent drop in oil prices has created serious political problems for these countries.  They simply can’t afford not to produce oil.  But problems in oil markets can result in unnecessarily higher prices and thus we need to pay some attention to them in order to promote prosperity. 
  • Fourth and most important, electricity faces real problems that could result in catastrophic failure of the system, thus threatening not only prosperity but human life.  The major framework for electric policy was set in 1935.  That framework worked fine up to the OPEC Embargo.  Electricity can compete against oil and natural gas in many applications.  Thus adjustments were necessary to the historical framework after the Embargo.  But policymakers have only nibbled at the edges of electricity policy and have not fundamentally changed the 1935 framework.  Yet little more than additional tinkering is being done to promote an electricity industry for the 21st Century.  Many special interests are pushing and pulling on the antiquated framework for personal gain but few are fundamentally committed to a complete rethinking of the role of the electric system of the future, especially given the increasing digitalization of our economy.  And as noted above, unsound policies on climate change make electric issues even more difficult.


[1] This is a good place to make a point.  Some pointy headed academics will disagree with even this first sentence.  Technically, Congress did not “ban” incandescent bulbs in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.  Rather, they set a standard that most, if not all, traditional incandescent bulbs could not achieve and established a schedule for light bulbs of different wattages to meet this standard.  So it is fair to say that Congress outlawed incandescent bulbs.  But since the accompanying Article is a synthesis of the broad topic of “energy policy” it would needlessly clutter and complicate the text to be “technically” accurate in every instance.  The size of the document would need to double and the reader would understand less of the essence of energy policy if I did not make some broad generalizations.  Nonetheless, I am sure I will receive some criticism that many of my statements are not “technically correct.”  I hope that making this point early in the article will allow for a better understanding of the content of the Article.

 

Uncertainty - ORIGINAL CONTENT

Definition of uncertain (Merriam-Webster)


1a : not known beyond doubt : dubious an uncertain claim
b : not having certain knowledge : doubtful remains uncertain about her plans
c : not clearly identified or defined a fire of uncertain origin
2 : not constant : variable, fitful an uncertain breeze
3 : indefinite, indeterminate the time of departure is uncertain
4 : not certain to occur : problematical his success was uncertain
5 : not reliable : untrustworthy an uncertain ally

We live with uncertainty and make the best decisions we can based on the uncertain information available. Weather and climate are not constant, nor is our knowledge regarding what they are and what they will be in the future. Many factors regarding climate are not known beyond doubt, such as climate sensitivity and feedback. Many weather and climate events are problematical and their timing indefinite, including ENSO (El Niño-Southern Oscillation) events, PDO (Pacific decadal oscillation) and AMO (Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation) shifts, tropical cyclone timing, frequency and intensity, tornadoes, droughts and floods. The origin of wildfires is frequently unidentified. Forecasts of future weather and climate events are not reliable. The existence of multiple but differing near-surface temperature records, sea level rise measurements and climate model projections are all examples of uncertainty regarding climate and climate change.

The uncertainty regarding weather and climate leads to uncertainty regarding the performance of systems dependent on weather, such as wind and solar electric generation. History provides some basis for estimating typical wind velocities and solar insolation levels in specific locations. However, sufficient uncertainty remains to require the inclusion of some redundant generating and storage capacity to deal with events beyond previous experience. The recent “wind drought” and extended period of below normal solar insolation which affected the UK and Western Europe are examples of such events. Daily variations in wind speed and solar insolation are reasonably predictable, but the accuracy of the predictions declines over longer periods.

The goals of electrifying all energy end uses and supplying all of them with a renewable electric generation and storage infrastructure add additional uncertainty regarding the pace of the transition and the relative efficiencies of the fossil and electric end uses. There are also end uses, such as the production of iron and steel and the calcining of cement, for which there are currently no non-fossil alternatives and for which the potential availability of alternatives is unknown.

The uncertainties regarding weather and its impact on the operation of weather-dependent electric generating systems greatly complicate the design and operation of a renewable plus storage electric grid. The frequency and duration of low/no wind and solar events affect the design capacity of the generation system, the relative design capacity of wind and solar generation in the system, and the capacity and discharge rates of the storage.

The mix of these system components would vary considerably from region to region within the US and around the globe as a function of wind and solar availability. The design of the storage systems will be heavily dependent upon the mix of wind and solar and upon the likely frequency and duration of low/no wind and solar events.

 

Tags: Climate Predictions

A Mostly Wind- and Solar-Powered U.S. Economy Is a Dangerous Fantasy - Highlighted Article

  • 5/12/22 at 07:00 AM

 

From: Gatestone Institute

By: Francis Menton

Date: April 25, 2022

 

A Mostly Wind- and Solar-Powered U.S. Economy Is a Dangerous Fantasy

 

When President Biden and other advocates of wind and solar generation speak, they appear to believe that the challenge posed is just a matter of currently having too much fossil fuel generation and not enough wind and solar; and therefore, accomplishing the transition to "net zero" will be a simple matter of building sufficient wind and solar facilities and having those facilities replace the current ones that use the fossil fuels.

They are completely wrong about that.

The proposed transition to "net zero" via wind and solar power is not only not easy, but is a total fantasy. It likely cannot occur at all without dramatically undermining our economy, lifestyle and security, and it certainly cannot occur at anything remotely approaching reasonable cost. At some point, the ongoing forced transition... will crash and burn.

[I]t doesn't matter whether you build a million wind turbines and solar panels, or a billion, or a trillion. On a calm night, they will still produce nothing, and will require full back-up from some other source.


If you propose a predominantly wind/solar electricity system, where fossil fuel back-up is banned, you must, repeat must, address the question of energy storage. Without fossil fuel back-up, and with nuclear and hydro constrained, storage is the only remaining option. How much will be needed? How much will it cost? How long will the energy need to remain in storage before it is used?(continue reading)

 

A Mostly Wind- and Solar-Powered U.S. Economy Is a Dangerous Fantasy

 

Tags: Highlighted Article

“A Promise Kept: Biden’s War on American Energy” - Highlighted Article

  • 5/5/22 at 07:00 AM

 

From: Master Resource

By: Robert Bradley Jr.

Date: April 26, 2022

 

“A Promise Kept: Biden’s War on American Energy”


Some policy statements and summaries are valuable for the historical record. The Republican review below highlighting Biden oil policies relative to gasoline prices is worth studying and memorializing.

Presidential politics and tone are important to the investment health of consumer-driven, taxpayer-neutral energies. Biden campaigned against the very energies the America needs, including those of motorists and other consumers of transportation fuel. Ditto for natural gas. Ditto for coal in the generation of electricity.

It is past time for the oil, gas, and coal industries to wise up and stop trying to appease the radical left. It is past time for Democrats to become the party of the working class. And it is past time for Republicans to become more consistent and forceful against government favors to any energy (ethanol and nuclear included) and any technology (carbon capture and storage) that a business lobby wants. (continue reading)

 

“A Promise Kept: Biden’s War on American Energy”

 

Tags: Highlighted Article

Renewable Productivity - ORIGINAL CONTENT

The wind and solar generation systems installed in the US have been installed in the most favorable locations available, for obvious reasons. However, as wind and solar generation are expanded toward a renewable plus storage generation infrastructure and electric demand increases as the result of electrification of transportation, residential, commercial and industrial appliances and equipment, wind and solar installations will have to be extended into less favorable locations.

US EIA Electric Power Monthly reports the annual average capacity factor of US wind installations as 35.3%, with capacity factors ranging from 28.2% - 41.1% seasonally. The annual average solar photovoltaic capacity factor is reported as 24.2%, with capacity factors ranging from 14.9% – 33.3% seasonally. These capacity factors would be expected to decrease somewhat as installations expanded into less favorable locations. However, capacity factors for offshore wind installations are expected to be somewhat higher than for onshore wind, in the range from 40-50%.

Solar installations in the northern tier of the US would be expected to have lower capacity factors during the Winter as the result of the lower sun angle and snow accumulations on the collector surfaces. Wind turbines operating in colder climates would require heating of the blades to avoid snow and ice accumulations, which would impose parasitic power consumption on the turbine generating capacity.

However, the greatest expected impact on renewable generation capacity factors would likely be the need to overbuild generation to have excess capacity available to recharge storage when storage replaces fossil generation as grid support when renewable generation fluctuates and during periods of low/no wind and solar availability. Significant renewable generation capacity would be in surplus during periods of good wind and solar availability when storage is fully charged.

The analysis of the need for storage is somewhat simpler for solar than for wind. On a clear day, solar collectors might generate at rated capacity for as long as 8 hours. However, they will predictably generate no electricity for the remaining 16 hours of the day. Therefore, any loads they serve would have to be served from surplus wind availability or from storage. Some solar generators are installing 4-hour storage to serve the daily peak in the late afternoon, after the solar system stops generating. However, that storage capacity must be recharged from excess capacity during the 8-hour solar generating day.

Wind generation is less predictable throughout the day and its fluctuations and interruptions must be met from storage, which must also be recharged from excess capacity during the day.

The increased investment resulting from generation overbuilding and the requirement to provide short and intermediate duration storage to smooth fluctuations in renewable generation output and long-duration storage to support the grid during periods of low/no wind and solar availability will also substantially increase the cost of the renewable plus storage grid. However, these additional costs are unavoidable if the grid is to be stable and reliable and not subject to catastrophic failure. Renewable generation developers have been able to ignore these issues in the mixed renewable and fossil grid, but will be unable to do so going forward.

 

Tags: Backup Power, Renewable Energy, Energy Storage / Batteries

Grid Balancing - ORIGINAL CONTENT

The electric utility grid requires instantaneous balancing of demand and supply. Historically, most fluctuations on the grid were the result of changes in customer demand. However, as intermittent renewable sources of generation are added to the grid, changes in the output of wind and solar generation sources increase the complexity of grid balancing. A recent report by Elexon regarding grid balancing in the UK illustrates the rapid increase of grid balancing costs as the intermittent renewable fraction of generation increases. The report suggests that this trend will continue as the percentage of intermittent generation on the grid increases.

The principal source of grid balancing generation in the UK is natural gas combined-cycle generators, as it is in the US. Battery storage is currently a minor source, though it is planned to grow considerably. However, it is critical that battery storage growth exceeds the rate of reduction of capacity of the other sources of grid balancing generation, particularly natural gas generation. This is especially important because of the anticipated growth of electric demand resulting from the electrification of transportation, residential, commercial and industrial energy consumption.

As the transition from fossil generation to renewable generation proceeds, the contemporaneous transition from fossil grid balancing to storage grid balancing would increase the renewable generation capacity required to support the grid. Storage would support the grid during periods of low/no wind and solar generation, but would require the availability of renewable generating capacity in excess of the contemporaneous grid demand to recharge the storage batteries so that they are ready for the next requirement for grid balancing.

The excess generating capacity required would be a function of the duration of the grid balancing demand on storage resources and the period over which storage must be recharged. For example, the “wind drought” which affected the UK and parts of Europe in the fall of 2021 lasted for approximately 10 days. In that case, the grid balancing was accomplished with fossil generation in the UK and nuclear-generated electricity imported from France. However, in a renewable plus storage grid, the balancing generation previously provided by fossil generation would have to be replaced by withdrawals from storage. A requirement to replace the electricity drawn from storage in such a 10-day period over the following 10 days would require a doubling of renewable generating capacity, half to serve the contemporaneous demand of the grid and the other half to recharge storage, assuming no further demands on storage for grid balancing over that period.

It has been common in the US grid to maintain a 20% capacity reserve margin relative to peak demand, should one or more generators need to be taken offline for maintenance or repairs. In a renewables plus storage grid, both the renewable generation and the storage system would have to include such a capacity reserve margin. A requirement to function through a 10-day period of low/no wind and solar and to recharge storage over the succeeding 10-day period, with a 20% capacity reserve margin, would require renewable generating capacity approximately 2.4 times peak demand on the grid.

 

Tags: Backup Power, Renewable Energy, Energy Storage / Batteries

Demonstration Reporting - ORIGINAL CONTENT

This commentary suggests a reporting format for the renewable plus storage demonstration discussed in the prior two commentaries.

 

Pre-demonstration electricity generation infrastructure:

 

Fuel

Rated Capacity (MW)

Capacity Factor (%)

Annual Generation (MWH)

 
 

Coal

       
 

Natural gas (CCT)

       
 

Natural gas (SCT)

       
 

Nuclear

       
 

Other

       
 

Total

       
           
 

Peak Demand:

     
 

Capacity Reserve Margin:

     
           

Initial demonstration electricity generation infrastructure:

 

Source

Rated Capacity (MW)

Capacity Factor (%)

Annual Generation (MWH)

 
 

Wind

       
 

Solar

       
 

Nuclear

       
 

Other

       
 

Total

       
           
 

Design Peak Demand:

     
 

Design Capacity Reserve Margin:

     
           

Initial demonstration electricity storage infrastructure:

 

Storage

Rated Capacity (MWH)

Rated Discharge (MW)

   
 

Short Duration

       
 

Intermediate Duration

       
 

Long Duration

       
 

Total

       
           

Demonstration electricity demand growth (MW):

           

Demonstration electricity consumption growth (MWH):

           

Initial demonstration electricity storage infrastructure:

 

Source

Rated Capacity (MW)

Capacity Factor (%)

Annual Generation (MWH)

 
 

Wind

       
 

Solar

       
 

Total

       
           

Demonstration electricity storage infrastructure additions:

 

Storage

Rated Capacity (MWH)

Rated Discharge (MW)

   
 

Short Duration

       
 

Intermediate Duration

       
 

Long Duration

       
 

Total

       
           

Demonstration annual withdrawals from storage:

 

Storage

(MW)

     
 

Short Duration

       
 

Intermediate Duration

       
 

Long Duration

       
 

Total

       
           

Demonstration emergency capacity requirements:

 

Total events (#)

       
 

Peak emergency demand (MW)

     
 

Total emergency consumption (MWH)

     
           

Pre-demonstration customer electricity bills ($/MWH):

           

Demonstration customer electricity bills ($/MWH)(inflation adjusted):

           

 

This proposed demonstration project has several important objectives:

  • Create a unique renewable plus storage service area
  • Force design of a standalone capable renewable plus storage grid
  • Highlight the critical nature of electricity storage in this grid
  • Highlight the evolving status of grid storage technology
  • Highlight the sensitivity of this grid to daily and seasonal weather variations
  • Document in and out storage losses in real storage systems
  • Document inversion system losses in real grid operation
  • Demonstrate the advantages of storage at the generation sites
  • Establish the real cost of electricity in a renewable plus storage grid
  • Document the number and magnitude of grid emergencies
  • Document the effects of the transition to electric vehicles on the grid
  • Document the effects of the transition to electric appliances and equipment
  • Document the effects of the transition to electric industrial processes

The information collected using the form above should be available to the general public on a website designed to provide easily understandable access to information on the performance of the renewable plus storage grid demonstration, since this is the intended future national electric grid. The project should be treated as a learning experience for grid designers and operators, but also for customers served by the grid.

It is regrettable that the demonstration must begin with largely pseudo-storage, rather than physical storage systems. However, it is not possible to design and operate a reliable grid based on renewable generation without storage. The proliferation of renewable generation with conventional generation support has created the impression that renewable generation system design can be simple and inexpensive. However, in a fossil-free generation system, additional renewable generation plus storage must replace the conventional backup currently relied upon for generation when wind and solar generated electricity is not available in sufficient quantities to meet the contemporaneous demand of the electric grid.

 

Tags: Backup Power, Renewable Energy, Energy Storage / Batteries

A ‘Plan B’ for addressing climate change and the energy transition - Highlighted Article

  • 3/31/22 at 07:00 AM

 

From: Climate Etc.

By: Judith Curry

Date: March 17, 2022

 

A ‘Plan B’ for addressing climate change and the energy transition

 

I have a new article published in the latest issue of International Affairs Forum.

The topic of this issue is Climate Change and Energy.  Mine is one of twenty papers.  A range of topics are covered.  My article is the least alarmed among them.  You may recognize several of the authors, which include Don Wuebbles and Bill McKibben.

Here is the text of my article:

A ‘Plan B’ for addressing climate change and the energy transition

Climate change is increasingly being referred to as a crisis, emergency, existential threat and most recently as ‘code red.’  Climate change has become a grand narrative in which manmade global warming is regarded as the dominant cause of societal problems. Everything that goes wrong reinforces the conviction that that there is only one thing we can do prevent societal problems – stop burning fossil fuels. This grand narrative leads us to think that if we urgently stop burning fossil fuels, then these other problems would also be solved. This sense of urgency narrows the viewpoints and policy options that we are willing to consider in dealing not only with our energy and transportation systems, but also regarding complex issues such as public health, water resources, weather disasters and national security.

So, exactly what is wrong with this grand narrative of climate change?  In a nutshell, we’ve vastly oversimplified both the problem of climate change and its solutions.  The complexity, uncertainty, and ambiguity of the existing knowledge about climate change is being kept away from the policy and public debates.  The dangers of manmade climate change have been confounded with natural weather and climate variability. The solutions that have been proposed for rapidly eliminating fossil fuels are technologically and politically infeasible on a global scale. (continue reading)

 

A ‘Plan B’ for addressing climate change and the energy transition

 

Tags: Highlighted Article

Transparency - ORIGINAL CONTENT

I believe that the demonstration project described in the previous commentary should be conducted rigorously and transparently, with broad website access to hourly, daily, monthly and annual data.

The first step in this process would be detailed documentation of the generation resources serving the demonstration zone by type, capacity and capacity utilization over a historical reference period. This information would provide the basis for the design of the renewable plus storage system.

The next step in the process would be the initial design of the renewable plus storage system to replace the existing conventional, dispatchable fossil generation resources. This would include designation of the types and capacities of the wind and solar generators, plus designation of the capacities and delivery rates of short, intermediate and long duration storage to be installed or simulated by pseudo-storage.

The demonstration would commence once the solar and wind generators and any actual storage capacity had been installed and tested. The new wind and solar generators plus the existing non-fossil generation would be used to meet the contemporaneous demand of the grid and to charge both actual and pseudo-storage.

The demonstration website would report the quantity of electricity generated by each type of generation both in absolute terms and as a percentage of rated capacity, as well as the electricity in both actual and pseudo-storage and its deliverability.

Failure to satisfy contemporaneous grid demand with the demonstration zone resources would be compensated for by measured deliveries from conventional fossil resources, but would require immediate determination of the renewable generation resources and/or storage resources required to avoid such emergencies in the future, and the costs of acquisition and installation of those resources.

Transparency would also require that all renewable generation and storage resources installed in the demonstration zone be capitalized at their full cost, with no federal or state incentives of any kind. The full costs of land acquisition, site preparation and facilities installation would also be included. Actual storage facility costs would be documented and pseudo-storage costs would be set equal to wind and solar generator costs for systems with equivalent delivery capacity times the number of days of capacity stored. Such calculated costs would be replaced with real facility costs when real storage equipment becomes commercially available. This approach would assure that customers in the demonstration zone pay the real costs of the electricity they consume.

All emergency generation and pseudo-storage electricity deliveries would be priced at the full cost of providing the service on an emergency basis. This pricing could be negotiated between the demonstration zone management and the utilities positioned to provide the service. These costs should be based on the cost of the next increment(s) of generation for the supplying utilities, since this is the electricity which would have to be generated over and above the supplying utility’s contemporaneous grid demand.

These approaches to the demonstration should assure that the demonstration zone facilities would be designed to be a reliable and flexible renewable electric system and that the electricity costs in the demonstration zone would representative of a renewable plus storage grid on a national scale.

 

Tags: Energy Storage / Batteries, Renewable Energy, Backup Power

Renewable Demonstration - ORIGINAL CONTENT

I believe it is essential that at least one large scale demonstration of a completely freestanding renewable plus storage powered grid be conducted under carefully controlled conditions. This demonstration should begin as soon as possible to gather the information necessary to assure that a national renewable grid is reliable. Regrettably, such a demonstration would require installation of long duration storage, which is not currently available commercially.

However, the demonstration could begin by requiring that the renewable generation in the demonstration zone be isolated from eternal sources of backup power and required to deliver surplus electricity to external grids which would function as pseudo-storage. The electricity delivered to pseudo-storage could be returned to the renewable demonstration zone in quantities equal to the quantity of electricity “stored”. The management of the renewable demonstration would be required to specify the storage capacity they required to achieve renewable grid reliability and could deliver only that quantity of electricity to pseudo-storage and draw only that quantity from pseudo-storage.

The demonstration could permit the demonstration zone managers to “install” additional generating capacity and pseudo-storage as required to compensate for lessons learned during the demonstration. The reasons for addition of additional generation and storage, as well as for the selection of particular generator and storage types should be carefully documented.

The demonstration managers would be able to import electricity from external sources if required to avoid demonstration grid failure, but would then be required to install additional generation capacity or contract for more pseudo-storage to avoid a repeat of the imminent grid failure condition. The demonstration managers should not be permitted to deliver electricity outside the demonstration zone, other than to pseudo-storage.

The demonstration zone should not include hydro generation capacity, since it is not broadly available. Nuclear generation capacity in the demonstration zone should approximate the 20% share of generation nationally, if necessary by limiting electricity delivery from nuclear generators to the demonstration zone. The demonstration zone should be located near the coast, so that offshore wind generation could be included in the generation mix as it becomes available.

A demonstration of this type would rapidly identify essential design characteristics and illustrate design flaws in a way that current attempts at demonstration and deployment have failed to do. Actual electricity storage should replace pseudo-storage as it becomes available.

No special provisions for environmental impact statements or siting approvals should be permitted, so that the establishment and development of the demonstration zone mirrors the actual experiences expected during the national transition to a renewable plus storage grid. Again, this approach would quickly identify issues which would affect the national transition. Issue resolutions implemented to facilitate the timely rollout of the demonstration should be available for all future environmental and siting issues, not limited only to the demonstration.

It might be ideal to site the demonstration zone in the metropolitan Washington, DC area to assist agencies of the federal government and federal legislators to understand the various issues with a renewable plus storage grid in real time and work to resolve them in a timely fashion.

 

Tags: Backup Power, Renewable Energy, Energy Storage / Batteries

Turning Down the Climate-Change Heat - Highlighted Article

  • 3/19/22 at 07:00 AM

 

From: National Review

By: Bjorn Lomborg

Date: March 3, 2022

 

Turning Down the Climate-Change Heat


The fixation on warming is harming the planet

We live in an age of fear — particularly, a fear of climate change. One picture summarizes this age for me. It is of a girl holding a sign say­­ing “You’ll die of old age. I’ll die of climate change.”

This is the message that the media are drilling into our heads: Climate change is destroying our planet and threatens to kill us all. The language is of apocalypse. News outlets refer to the “planet’s imminent incineration,” and analysts suggest that global warming could make humanity extinct in a few decades. Recently, the media have informed us that humanity has just a decade left to rescue the planet, that 2030 is the deadline to save civilization, and that we must radically transform every major economy to end fossil-fuel use, reduce carbon emissions to zero, and establish a totally renewable basis for all economic activity.

The rhetoric on climate change has become ever more extreme and less moored to the actual science. Over the past 20 years, climate scientists have painstakingly increased knowledge about climate change, and we have more — and more-reliable — data than ever before. But at the same time, the rhetoric that comes from commentators and the media has become increasingly irrational. (continue reading)

 

Turning Down the Climate-Change Heat

 

Tags: Highlighted Article

Achieving Net Zero: A report from a putative delivery agency - Highlighted Article

  • 3/17/22 at 07:00 AM

 

From: The Global Warming Policy Forum

By: Michael Kelly

Date: March 2022

 

Achieving Net Zero: A report from a putative delivery agency

 

Preface

I imagine that I have been appointed the first CEO of a new agency set up by Her Majesty’s Government with the explicit goal of actually delivering Net Zero by 2050. I asked for a few months to be able to scope the project and to estimate the assets required to succeed. This is the result of that exercise, and the consequences that flow from the scale and timescale for meeting the target.

 

Executive summary

The cost to 2050 will comfortably exceed £3 trillion, a workforce comparable in size to the NHS will be required for 30 years, including a doubling of the present number of electrical engineers, and the bill of specialist materials is of a size that for the UK alone is comparable to the global annual production of many key minerals. On the manpower front we will have to rely on the domestic workforce, as everywhere else in the world is working towards the same target. If they were not so working, the value of the UK-specific target is moot. The scale of this project suggests that a war footing and a command economy will be essential, as major cuts to other favoured forms of expenditure, such as health, education and defence, will be needed. Without a detailed roadmap, as exemplified by the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors that drove the electronics revolution after 1980, the target is simply unattainable. (continue reading)

 

Achieving Net Zero: A report from a putative delivery agency

 

Tags: Highlighted Article

Storage by the Numbers - ORIGINAL CONTENT

A reliable electric grid supplied predominantly or exclusively by intermittent renewable generators such as wind turbines and solar arrays would require massive energy storage to provide continuous power to the grid when the output of the wind turbines and solar arrays was fluctuating, inadequate or unavailable.

Some renewable electricity providers have installed batteries capable of compensating for output fluctuations of several minutes duration. More recently, some renewable electricity providers are planning installation of battery storage systems capable of delivering power to the grid for up to 4 hours.

NREL estimates that the current cost of such 4-hour storage systems is approximately $350 per kWh and that it is expected to decrease to approximately $150 per kWh by 2050. Based on these estimates, 4-hour storage for a 2.5 MW wind turbine or solar array would cost approximately $3,500,000 and that cost would be expected to decrease to approximately $1,500,000 by 2050. This compares with the estimated installed cost of a 2.5 MW wind turbine or solar array of approximately $3,200,000.

It is important to remember that the 10 MWH available from the storage system must first be provided by the wind turbine or solar array. US EIA Electric Power Monthly reports that a 2.5 MW wind turbine would have produced an average of 21.2 MWh per day in 2020, while a 2.5 MW solar array would have produced an average of 14.5 MWh per day. Therefore, the electricity stored in the batteries would constitute half to two-thirds of the total electricity output of the generators on an average day. In this example, the storage system would be capable of providing more electricity to the grid in 4 hours than the renewable generators did in the remaining 20 hours of the average day.

While these 4-hour storage systems would provide some ability to tailor electricity supply to demand load shape, they would add little to electricity supply reliability during periods of low/no wind and solar availability. Storage systems designed to provide continuous electricity delivery to the grid during multiple hours or days of low/no wind and solar generation are referred to as long-duration energy storage. California has recently solicited bids for such systems with a capacity of 50 MWh or greater and a delivery time of 8 hours or greater. While such systems would represent a significant advancement of the state of the art, they fall far short of the requirements for a storage system which could continue to supply electricity to the grid through a “wind drought” such as the recent ten-day event experienced in the UK.

Form Energy claims to have developed an iron/air storage battery capable of continuously delivering electricity to the grid for up to 150 hours, or about 60% of the duration of the UK wind drought. Such a storage system for a 2.5 MW wind turbine would require a storage capacity of approximately 130 MWh, which would first have to be provided by the wind turbine. Initial estimates place the cost of such a system at approximately $20 per kWh, or approximately $2,600,000, not including installation and land costs.

 

Tags: Energy Storage / Batteries

Solar by the Numbers - ORIGINAL CONTENT

The Administration goal of a fossil free grid by 2035 would require that the renewable portion of grid energy supply be supported by additional renewable generation plus electricity storage. The hourly, daily, monthly and seasonal variability of renewable generator output would no longer be supported by conventional fossil generation.

The US Energy Information Administration (US EIA) Electric Power Monthly reports an average solar photovoltaic capacity factor for calendar year 2020 at 24.2%, with a monthly average range from 7.1 – 33.3%. Monthly average capacity factors for 2021 through October range from 6.3 – 30.2%. Capacity factors are highest in the Summer and lowest in the Winter.

A 2.5 Megawatt (MW) solar collector array would have produced at an average rate of 0.605 MW (2.5 * 0.242) per hour, or 14.52 MWH per day in 2020, with a monthly average rate ranging from 0.1775 – 0.8325 MW, or 4.26 – 19.98 MWH per day. These averages mask the fact that solar output could range from 0 – 2.5 MW uncontrollably throughout the day and from day to day and would be zero at night. Therefore, on an annual basis and applying a typical utility capacity reserve margin of approximately 20%, a 2.5 MW solar array could be relied upon to provide approximately 0.15 MW (0.1775/1.2) if combined with storage capacity capable of storing electricity at a rate of up to 2.5 MW and discharging electricity at a rate of approximately 0.15 MW during a typical day.

A 2.5 MW solar array would also require storage capacity of approximately 15 MWH for each low/no solar day which might be experienced at the solar array location. The recent “solar drought” in the UK and parts of the EU lasted for approximately 10 days. Using this experience as guide, a 2.5 MW solar array would require storage of approximately 150 MWH capable of continuous discharge at a rate of 15 MWH per day. This storage would have to be recharged at the end of the period of low/no solar. However, the output of the solar array would be required to meet contemporaneous grid demand, so additional generating capacity would be required to recharge storage. Assuming that recharging the storage over the same number of days over which it was discharged would be acceptable, another 2.5 MW solar array would be required. More rapid recharging would require additional solar array capacity.

The availability of long-term, low-loss storage would permit the reliable capacity of the solar array and storage system to be increased from the 0.15 MW calculated above to approximately 0.51 MW [(0.605/0.1775) * 0.15)]. However, such long-term, low-loss storage is not currently commercially available and its likely cost, based on current technology, would exceed the cost of the additional solar array capacity required to increase output in the lowest output month of the year to the average annual output of the 2.5 MW solar array.

 

Tags: Solar Energy, Energy Storage / Batteries
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