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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.

 

Epstein on Energy: ‘Fossil Future’ on Deck - Highlighted Article

  • 3/5/22 at 07:00 AM

 

From: Master Resource

By: Robert Bradley Jr.

Date: February 21, 2022

 

Epstein on Energy: ‘Fossil Future’ on Deck


"History might well record Alex Epstein as the First Philosopher of Energy. How to think correctly amid the politicization of all-things-climate is a quest that only one person has really tried to master. And it starts not with deep ecology notions but on the premise of human betterment, now and over time.

With the remake of The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels (2014) on deck (mid-April release scheduled), Fossil Future will join Steven Koonin’s Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What It Doesn’t, and Why It Matters (2021) as a best seller on the reality of energy and climate. And it could not come at a better time given the energy crises from anti-fossil fuel policies leaving consumers at the mercy of the momentary output of the wind and sun.

Neo-Malthusians, the case is joined!

Recently, Epstein teased his audience with “33 controversial conclusions I have come to, explained thoroughly in Fossil Future, based on full context, pro-human thinking.” He is putting his ideas front and center and wants everyone from newspaper editorial boards to public forums to social media to colleges and universities to debate his ideas. No intellectual hiding from this fellow…" (continue reading)

 

Epstein on Energy: ‘Fossil Future’ on Deck

 

Tags: Highlighted Article

Wind 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 wind capacity factor for calendar year 2020 at 35.3%, with a monthly average range from 28.2 – 41.1%. Monthly average capacity factors for 2021 through October range from 22.9 – 44.0%. Capacity factors are highest in the Spring and lowest in the Summer.

A 2.5 Megawatt (MW) wind turbine would have produced at an average rate of 0.8825 MW (2.5 * 0.353) per hour, or 21.2 MWH per day in 2020, with a monthly average rate ranging from 0.705 – 1.02 MW, or 16.92– 24.48 MWH per day. These averages mask the fact that wind turbine output could range from 0 – 2.5 MW uncontrollably throughout the day and from day to day. Therefore, on an annual basis and applying a typical utility capacity reserve margin of approximately 20%, a 2.5 MW wind turbine could be relied upon to provide approximately 0.5875 MW (0.705/1.2) 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 0.60 MW during a typical day.

A 2.5 MW wind turbine would also require storage capacity of approximately 20 MWH for each low/no wind day which might be experienced at the wind turbine location. The recent “wind drought” in the UK and parts of the EU lasted for approximately 10 days. Using this experience as guide, a 2.5 MW wind turbine would require storage of approximately 200 MWH capable of continuous discharge at a rate of 20 MWH per day. This storage would have to be recharged at the end of the period of low/no wind. However, the output of the wind turbine 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 wind turbine would be required. More rapid recharging would require additional wind turbine capacity.

The availability of long-term, low-loss storage would permit the reliable capacity of the wind turbine and storage system to be increased from the approximately 0.6 MW calculated above to approximately 0.75 MW [(0.8825/0.705) * 0.6)]. 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 wind turbine capacity required to increase output in the lowest output month of the year to the average annual output of the 2.5 MW wind turbine.

 

Tags: Energy Storage / Batteries, Wind Energy

REALISM OR UTOPIANISM? A proposal for reform of Net Zero policy - Highlighted Article

  • 2/24/22 at 07:00 AM

 

From: The Global Warming Policy Forum

By: John Constable and Capell Aris

Date: May 2021

 

REALISM OR UTOPIANISM? A proposal for reform of Net Zero policy

 

Summary

"This paper calls for root and branch reform of the UK’s Net Zero pathway to avoid intolerable cost and societal disruption. The alternative route proposed is a Gas to Gas-Nuclear programme.

As a matter of urgency, electricity generation policy must refocus on dispatchable low-emissions plant, which can deliver a secure and competitive electricity system as an enabler for the UK’s manufacturing industries.

The resulting lower electricity prices will facilitate some limited electrification of domestic and commercial heating and mobility, with potential for longer-term decarbonisation in transport and heating to be investigated via a medium-term nuclear programme, including the generation of hydrogen from high temperature reactors via the thermal decomposition of water.

The action points for reform are:

  • Remove market distortions and reduce consumer cost without delay, by buying back all subsidy contracts to renewables at a discount, compelling them to operate as pure merchant plant, and institute a rolling program for closure of the wind and solar fleets to reduce system operation costs.
  • License rapid construction of high-efficiency combined cycle gas turbines, perhaps fitted with carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) if this proves economic. A variety of new approaches to gas turbines – for example Allam cycle turbines, may soon deliver zero-carbon electricity much less expensively.
  • Use low-cost government debt to finance a new generation of nuclear plant, ideally of smaller scale than those currently envisaged.
  • While reduced electricity costs will encourage adoption of heat pumps and electric vehicles where economic, the government should investigate the use of high-temperature nuclear reactors to generate hydrogen to provide an alternative option, seeking close co-operation with the Government of Japan, which is already steering in this direction.

Current UK policies will struggle to deliver Net Zero by 2050, or ever, and run a high risk of deep and irreversible societal damage. Because of the harms already inflicted, the programme outlined here cannot meet the government’s timetable either, but it will reduce emissions rapidly and sustainably without destabilising British society, leaving the option for further emissions reductions as technological development makes this feasible and economically attractive. It therefore represents a realistic rather than a utopian decarbonisation model.

On the other hand, failure to reform along these lines will result in extreme costs, painful reductions in living standards for all but the richest, national weakness, societal instability and the eventual failure of the decarbonisation effort. The UK’s hoped for climate leadership will become only a stern deterrent." (continue reading)

 

REALISM OR UTOPIANISM? A proposal for reform of Net Zero policy

 

Tags: Highlighted Article

RDD&D - ORIGINAL CONTENT

The path to new technology consists of research, development, demonstration and finally deployment. Research and development frequently continue in an effort to improve the technology. However, at some point, the technology is determined to be far enough advanced to proceed to demonstration; and, upon successful demonstration, to deployment.

Wind and solar technology have advanced through demonstration to deployment. However, it is important to understand what has been demonstrated and what is being deployed. Wind and solar have demonstrated that they are capable of generating electricity when the wind is blowing and the sun is shining. They have also demonstrated that they cannot generate electricity in the absence of wind and/or sun.

Both technologies are being deployed as “source of opportunity” generators and are provided with conventional generation backup for periods when they cannot generate.

Several jurisdictions in the US and Europe have also attempted to demonstrate that wind and solar could replace conventional generation. These attempts have been unsuccessful. They have clearly demonstrated that wind and solar, as intermittent generators, require full capacity backup to maintain a stable and reliable electric grid.

California and several European countries have decommissioned conventional  generation as wind and solar capacity were installed. During periods of low/no wind and solar availability, they have resorted to importing electricity from nearby states or nations. California has also resorted to rolling blackouts during periods when adequate imported electricity was unavailable.
 
The UK and Germany have also shut down conventional generation as wind and solar were installed and have relied on imported electricity during periods of low/no wind and solar availability. However, a recent fire disabled one of two undersea cables carrying electricity from France to the UK and one French nuclear generator experienced an issue and was shut down, thus limiting the ability of the UK to import electricity.

Texas decided not to decommission conventional capacity, but also not to keep some of the capacity operating at idle, ready to increase output as required. The recent polar vortex disabled so much wind and solar generation that the conventional generators operating at idle did not have sufficient capacity to supply the contemporaneous demand of the grid; and, the conventional plants which were not operating at idle were unable to come on line quickly enough to prevent grid failure for a variety of reasons.

These experiences were a clear demonstration that wind and solar cannot replace conventional generation, though they can displace its output when wind and solar conditions allow them to operate.

It remains to be demonstrated that wind and solar, combined with electricity storage, can replace conventional generation. This demonstration cannot begin until battery R&D produces battery technology that can demonstrate the ability to efficiently store and redeliver electricity over multi-day periods of low/no solar availability. The number of days of battery operation required for this demonstration to be successful would be a function of the maximum number of days of “wind drought” or “solar drought” which might occur at the generating sites. The excess wind and/or solar capacity required to recharge storage after depletion would be a function of the frequency of occurrence of low/no wind and solar days.

Until this demonstration has been completed successfully it would be irresponsible to decommission the conventional generating capacity required to supply the grid when wind and solar are unavailable. However, there will likely continue to be political and regulatory pressure to do so to limit electric rate increases resulting from maintaining redundant generating capacity.

 

Tags: Solar Energy, Wind Energy, Energy Storage / Batteries

Electric Transition

 

The US EIA graph below summarizes the sources and uses of energy in the US economy. The Administration has established a series of progressive goals to eliminate fossil fuel consumption in the energy economy and achieve Net Zero emissions by 2050.

 

U.S. energy consumption by source and sector 2020

 

Currently, electricity from all sources represents 12.5 quads of the total of 69.7 quads of energy consumed in the economy, or approximately 18% of total energy consumption. Net Zero would require that all uses of petroleum, natural gas and coal which result in the emission of CO2 be replaced by renewable electricity. This would specifically exclude the petroleum and natural gas consumed in the production of chemicals and plastics. Therefore, approximately 30 quads of petroleum, 30 quads of natural gas and 9 quads of coal end-use consumption would be transitioned to renewable electricity by 2050.

Assuming that the Industrial and transportation electric end uses would average three times the efficiency of the fossil fuel end uses and that the residential and commercial electric end uses would average twice the efficiency of the fossil end uses, renewable electricity generation would be required to replace not only 7 quads of fossil fuel-generated electricity but also provide approximately 7 quads to replace fossil energy consumption in the industrial sector, approximately 7 quads to replace fossil energy consumption in the transportation sector and approximately 5 quads to replace fossil energy consumption in the residential and commercial sectors of the economy.

The combined effect of these energy transitions is to approximately quadruple current electricity demand and consumption in the economy. US electric utilities currently operate approximately 850 GW of fossil-fueled electric generation capacity, which historically operates at approximately a 40% system load factor and represents an approximate 20% capacity reserve margin relative to peak demand.

US EIA uses a 45% capacity factor for wind and a 30% capacity factor for solar PV generation. Therefore, a combination of wind and solar generation would have a capacity factor similar to the grid capacity factor. However, current grid generating capacity, with the exception of wind and solar generation, is dispatchable to meet contemporaneous grid demand. Wind and solar generation require storage to render them dispatchable. The storage system design must accommodate timing differences between peak generation and peak demand, multi-day periods of low/no wind and/or solar availability and seasonal variations in capacity factor. Currently, storage systems capable of multi-day and seasonal compensation are unavailable.

The transition of the existing electric grid to renewable generation is currently being accomplished by relying on conventional generation sources to supply the grid during periods of low/no wind and/or solar availability. However, the requirement to discontinue operation of existing fossil generation capacity, combined with the increased demand and consumption which would result from the electrification of all current fossil fuel end uses in the industrial, transportation, residential and commercial sectors of the economy would require that all additional renewable generating capacity be combined with adequate storage to render the capacity dispatchable, plus the additional generation capacity necessary to recharge depleted storage while still meeting the contemporaneous demand of the grid.

 

Tags: Electric Power Generation

Gas Appliance Phaseout

Achieving Net Zero GHG emissions by 2050 would require a complete phaseout of residential and commercial gas appliances, including furnaces and boilers, water heaters, ranges and ovens, laundry dryers, grills, and standby generators.

US DOE, in cooperation with the US electric utility industry, has been attempting to eliminate gas end uses for decades. Initially, this effort was based on the ludicrous fantasy that electricity magically appeared at the customers’ meters at 100% efficiency. This fantasy ignored the primary energy losses during the generation processes as well as the secondary losses, including generating plant parasitic power consumption as well as transmission and distribution losses. This approach placed gas end uses at a disadvantage since gas parasitic losses and transmission and distribution losses are far lower than those in the electric system, and gas equipment losses occur downstream of the customer meter.

This fantasy rationalization has now been replaced by the fantasy of climate change as a “crisis”, “emergency” or “existential threat". The federal government has set Net Zero as a goal to be achieved by 2050, but with no published plan to achieve the goal. The Administration has taken several steps toward a gas phaseout, including a proposed ban on gas exploration and production both offshore and on federal lands. The Administration is also pressuring lenders to refuse to finance new gas system investment. Several state governments have banned hydraulic fracturing for natural gas production. Other states have refused to approve pipeline expansions to serve growing consumer demand. One state is attempting to halt operation of an existing pipeline that serves both US and Canadian markets. Several cities have banned or announced bans on new natural gas connections.

These actions have already driven significant increases in natural gas prices and have threatened supply shortages. The situation will only get worse as supply is restricted further.

Replacing existing gas end-use appliances and equipment with electric end-use equipment would often require electric service upgrades of 100 amperes in residential dwellings and of several hundred amperes in commercial buildings. The replacement appliances and equipment would add thousands of dollars to the cost. The replacement electric appliances would also increase consumer energy bills as electricity rates increase due to the transition to renewable energy sources plus electricity storage.

The realization that gas service would become unavailable in the future would cause builders and their customers to choose all-electric construction to avoid later conversion costs. It would also cause customers faced with appliance replacement decisions to choose electric appliances to replace worn-out gas equipment. Progressive appliance and equipment replacement would increase gas costs as the existing transmission and distribution infrastructure was used to deliver less and less gas over time. It is completely predictable that these cost increases would be blamed on the suppliers, rather than on the government actions which caused the increases.

The unavailability of gas standby generation systems would increase the vulnerability of customers which require an uninterruptible power supply, such as hospitals, nursing homes, prisons, and some residential buildings including high-rise apartment and condominium complexes, to grid interruptions.

 

Tags: Net Zero Emissions

Highlighted Article: 2022 Energy Predictions: Coal Decline Accelerates, Federal Funds Spur Clean Energy, Millions Of New Electric Vehicles And Chargers

  • 2/5/22 at 07:00 AM

 

From: Forbes

By: Silvio Marcacci

Date: January 10, 2022

 

2022 Energy Predictions: Coal Decline Accelerates, Federal Funds Spur Clean Energy, Millions Of New Electric Vehicles And Chargers


"2021 was a landmark year for clean energy and climate policy, from dozens of nations pledging to phase out coal, to the most ambitious federal climate proposals in United States history, to automakers going all in on electrified transportation.

Many of these developments were forecast by policy experts who thought Democratic control of the White House and Congress, fast-falling clean energy and electrified technology prices, and the undeniable need to confront climate change by cutting emissions portended a groundswell of action.

But the outlook for 2022 is not as clear. Will China commit to phasing out new domestic coal plants? Will the U.S. Senate finally pass the Build Back Better Act (BBBA) and unlock hundreds of billions in investment? How will billions in electric vehicle (EV) and grid investments from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) be allocated? And will growing consumer demand for clean energy drive new renewable energy, EV, and electrified appliance sales?

Five leading policy experts shared their predictions for the year ahead including coal’s accelerating decline, federal investments energizing clean energy adoption and grid expansion, and millions of EVs hitting U.S. roads to help EV chargers become a new investment class." (continue reading)

 

2022 Energy Predictions: Coal Decline Accelerates, Federal Funds Spur Clean Energy, Millions Of New Electric Vehicles And Chargers

 

Tags: Highlighted Article

Highlighted Article: The Cost of Net Zero Electrification of the U.S.A.

  • 2/3/22 at 07:00 AM

 

From: Watts Up With That

By: Ken Gregory, P. Eng.

Date: January 12, 2022

 

The Cost of Net Zero Electrification of the U.S.A.

 

"This article by Ken Gregory, P. Eng. is a critique of an influential report  by Thomas Tanton “Cost of Electrification: A State-by-State Analysis and Results” and provides corrected new capital cost estimates to achieve net zero emissions in the U.S.A. Estimating the increased operating costs is beyond the scope of the study.  This post provides a condensed version of the blog post previously published at Friends of Science here.


Executive Summary

Many governments have made promises to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by replacing fossil fuels with solar and wind generated electricity and to electrify the economy. A report by Thomas Tanton estimates a capital cost of US$36.4 trillion for the U.S.A. economy to meet net zero emissions using wind and solar power. This study identifies several errors in the Tanton report and provides new capital cost estimates using 2019 and 2020 hourly electricity generation data rather than using annual average conditions as was done in the Tanton report.  This study finds that the battery costs for replacing all current fossil fuel fired electricity with wind and solar generated electricity, using 2020 electricity data, is 109 times that estimated by the Tanton report. The total capital cost of electrification is herein estimated, using 2020 data, at US$433 trillion, or 20 times the U.S.A. 2019 gross domestic product. Overbuilding the solar plus wind capacity by 21% reduces overall costs by 18% by reducing battery storage costs. Allowing fossil fuels with carbon capture and storage to provide 50% of the electricity demand dramatically reduces the total costs from US$433 trillion to US$24 trillion, which is a reduction of 94.6%. Battery storage costs are highly dependent on the year’s weather and the seasonal shape of electricity demand.

 

The U.S.A. government has set a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel use and cement manufacturing to net zero economy-wide by no later than 2050. Some believe this could be achieved by replacing most fossil fuel use with non-emitting energy sources and sequestering carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the remaining fossil fuel use by carbon capture and storage (CCS)." (continue reading)

 

The Cost of Net Zero Electrification of the U.S.A.

 

Tags: Highlighted Article

US ICE Vehicle Phaseout

We need to make green energy much cheaper.”, Bjorn Lomborg

Global policymakers appear to have adopted a uniform approach to the green energy transition – making fossil energy unavailable through supply restriction or legislative and regulatory prohibition, or more expensive through taxation. They either lack confidence in future green energy cost reductions or they lack the patience to wait for those cost reductions. Lomborg sees the need to make green energy cheaper in absolute terms, while policymakers pursue the approach of making it cheaper in relative terms by increasing the cost of conventional energy and its end uses.

The US government and some state governments are pursuing these approaches to phaseout internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles and transition to electric vehicles (EVs) or hydrogen fueled vehicles. California plans to ban sale of ICE vehicles in 2030, while the federal government plans to ban their sale in 2035. The federal government currently pays incentives of up to $7,500 to purchasers of electric vehicles and plans to increase the incentives to up to $12,500 for vehicles produced by union labor. The federal government also intends to incentivize installation of up to 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations, with a focus on disadvantaged and underserved neighborhoods. Incentives are also planned for electric school buses and transit buses.

These mandates and incentives are deemed necessary because current electric vehicles are expensive, largely because of the cost of their batteries. Also, current EVs are range limited by their batteries, reducing their utility for other than short trips. EV owners also experience “fuel anxiety” because of the limited EV charging infrastructure.

The EV transition is also currently being impeded by concerns about battery fires, which have resulted in major vehicle recalls. Concerns regarding battery fires are also causing some jurisdictions to consider prohibiting EV charging stations in public and private parking structures and underground parking facilities in residential complexes.

There are currently light duty and medium duty EVs available in the market, though they represent only approximately 7% of passenger car sales and a lesser share of light and medium duty truck sales. Heavy duty EV trucks are just being introduced to the market and EV semi-tractors are under development. The major concern with these heavy-duty vehicles is the effect the weight of the batteries has on the gross vehicle weight (GVW) of the truck and the limitation that imposes on cargo weight.

The conversion of railroad vehicles to EV is a major challenge. EV passenger rail in highly populated areas of the country has been in use for decades. However, passenger rail power demands are much lower than for freight service. Freight locomotives in current service use electric drive motors at the wheels, but the electricity is provided by diesel generators in the locomotives. Installing overhead electric lines of sufficient current carrying capacity on the 140,000 route miles of freight rail infrastructure and converting existing locomotives with catenaries and transformers would be an extremely expensive undertaking.

Conversion of off-road vehicles, such as farm and construction equipment, to EV operation present interesting charging and utility challenges.

 

Tags:

Renewable Transition

The US transition to renewable electric generation is proceeding down a path which assures that electric rates will rise. Wind and solar are “source of opportunity” generators, producing electricity when the wind blows and the sun shines. They are intermittent, unreliable, non-dispatchable sources of electricity, which require backup from conventional generation sources or storage when they are not producing electricity. The renewable generating capacity connected to the grid is redundant capacity, in that it cannot replace conventional generation capacity, though the electricity it generates displaces electricity generation from conventional generators.

This duplication of generating capacity increases electricity infrastructure investment, thus increasing required return on investment and consumer electric rates. The addition of the renewable generation combined with the requirement to retain conventional generation, in the absence of electricity storage capacity, decreases the quantity of electricity generated by the conventional generating plants while increasing the cost of the electricity they do generate, since plant investment must be recovered from decreased generation volumes. The subsidies and incentives provided for renewable generation reduce the cost of the electricity they produce to consumers by transferring that cost to taxpayers, most of whom are also consumers.

The renewable energy industry is very quick to point out that the cost of the electricity it produces is declining and, in some cases, is cheaper that electricity produced by conventional sources. However, this is a faulty argument since renewable electricity is not reliable and dispatchable. The renewable energy industry asserts that providing transmission access and the storage capacity necessary to make renewable electricity dispatchable is the responsibility of others, such as the utility industry. This position allows the renewable energy industry to maintain the fiction that renewable energy is low cost and would result in rate reductions. Transferring this responsibility to the utilities also allows the renewable energy industry and its allies in government and the media to blame rate increases and grid unreliability on the utilities.

Logic suggests that the storage capacity required to render renewable generation reliable and dispatchable should be co-located with the wind or solar generation. The generators produce DC electricity and batteries store DC electricity. Inversion to AC power at transmission voltage would occur when the capacity of the generation / storage facility was dispatched. This approach limits losses to the in and out losses of the storage system and the energy lost in the inversion to AC power at grid voltage.

Remote location of the storage required to achieve reliability would require that the DC electricity generated at the site be inverted to AC electricity at transmission voltage, transmitted to the storage facility, rectified to DC electricity at storage voltage for storage, then inverted to AC electricity at transmission voltage again for dispatch. These multiple DC to AC to DC to AC conversions cascade the losses associated with each of the conversions.

Regardless of the transmission and storage approach pursued, the conventional generation fleet cannot be decommissioned until a fully dispatchable alternative is in place and operating. However, even after the renewable generation and storage infrastructure replaces the conventional generation infrastructure, electricity rates would still likely be higher until the cost of the required storage infrastructure declines significantly.

 

Tags: Solar Energy, Wind Energy, Renewable Energy, Electric Power Generation

Highlighted Article: So, What Exactly Is Long-Duration Energy Storage?

  • 1/20/22 at 07:00 AM

 

From: Greentech Media

By: Julian Spector

Date: October 26, 2020

 

So, What Exactly Is Long-Duration Energy Storage?


"Long-duration storage occupies an enviable position in the cleantech hype cycle. Its allure has proven more durable than energy blockchain, and its commercialization is further along than super-buzzy green hydrogen.

Depending on who you talk to, long-duration storage technology can knock out coal and gas peaker plants, turn renewables into round-the-clock resources and generally pave the way for a carbon-free grid.

But beyond the high-level predictions, it’s hard to find a consistent definition of what this category actually means and exactly what it's supposed to do. That's largely because a market for such things hasn't really existed.

That’s starting to change. On October 15, a coalition of community-choice aggregators in California released the first major request for proposals targeting long-duration projects. To qualify, plants must be:

  • 50 megawatts or greater
  • Able to discharge electrons at that level for eight hours or more
  • In operation by 2026

Companies interested in this process cover a range of technologies, including pumped hydro, gravity-based, compressed air and flow batteries, as well as current market leader lithium-ion batteries.

GTM previously covered the main technologies vying for this emerging grid role and recently published an explainer on green hydrogen, another long-duration contender. In light of the new effort to actually buy some of this stuff, GTM has compiled a guide to why it matters, what products and companies are competing to supply it, and what hurdles this category faces." ...

 

So, What Exactly Is Long-Duration Energy Storage?

 

Tags: Highlighted Article

Gas Generation Phaseout

The US currently generates more than 500,000,000 Megawatt-hours, or approximately 25% of electric utility annual electricity production, in coal-fueled generating stations, which the Administration has said will all cease operation by 2030. The US currently generates more than 800,000,000 Megawatt-hours, or approximately 37% of electric utility annual electricity production, in natural gas fueled generating stations, which the Administration has said will all cease operation by 2035. US natural gas fueled electric generation has more than doubled over the past 10 years because of the lower cost of natural gas and the higher generating efficiency of natural gas combined cycle powerplants.

The US currently generates 338,000,000 Megawatt-hours, or approximately 8.4% of all utility-scale electric generation. This electricity is generated by approximately 60,000 wind turbines with a total nameplate capacity of 122,465 MW operating at an average capacity factor of approximately 32%.

Replacing the generating capacity of the US coal-fueled generating fleet would require installation of approximately 625,000 MW of wind turbine rating plate capacity, plus the electricity storage capacity to store the output of the wind turbines for the maximum number of days duration of a potential “wind drought”. Additional generation capacity would be required to recharge storage after such a “wind drought” while meeting the contemporaneous demand on the grid.

Replacing the generating capacity of the US natural gas generating fleet would require installation of approximately 1,000,000 MW of wind turbine rating plate capacity, plus the storage capacity required to make the wind generation reliable and dispatchable, and the additional generating capacity required to recharge storage after periods of low/no wind generation.

US wind turbine installations peaked in 2020 at 14.2 GW (14,200 MW). Installation of 625,000 MW of wind turbine rating plate capacity over the period 2022-2029 would require installation of an average of 78 GW of new wind turbine generating capacity per year, or 5.5 times the capacity added in 2020. Installation of an additional 1,000,000 MW of wind turbine generating capacity over the period from 2030-2034 would require installation of an additional 200 GW of new wind turbine generating capacity per year, or 14 times the capacity added in 2020.

The current installed cost of new wind turbine generating capacity is approximately $1.3 million per MW. Assuming anticipated cost reductions resulting from increased manufacturing volume would be offset by cost increases resulting from increased demand for the rare earth materials required for fabrication of the wind turbines, the total cost of replacing existing fossil fuel electric generation with wind generation would be approximately $2 trillion. This estimate does not include the cost of the land on which the wind turbines are installed, the cost of the storage batteries required to make the wind capacity reliable and dispatchable and the cost additional transmission infrastructure required to connect the wind farms to the existing electric grid.

The replacement of both the coal and natural gas generating capacity would be deferred toward the ends of the required decommissioning periods to assure grid reliability through the transition, as operating experience was gained with the replacement wind and storage infrastructure.

 

Tags: Electric Power Generation, Net Zero Emissions

US Coal Phaseout

The US currently generates more than 500,000,000 Megawatt-hours, or approximately 25% of annual electricity production, in coal-fueled generating stations. Coal generation has decreased by more than half over the past 10 years, largely replaced by lower cost natural gas in more efficient combined-cycle power plants or repowering coal plants to burn natural gas to reduce emissions.

The Biden Administration had expressed a goal of reducing US electric generation CO2 emissions by 50% by 2030 and achieving Net Zero electric generation CO2 emissions by 2035. This two-step goal dramatically changes the electric generation landscape. Essentially, all coal fueled powerplants would be required to cease operation by 2030, unless they were repowered to burn natural gas. However, since all natural gas fueled powerplants would be required to cease operation by 2035, it is not likely that many coal fueled powerplants would be repowered to extend their lives by an additional 5 years.

US electric utilities had scheduled closure of the remaining coal fueled powerplants by the end of 2048. However, Kerry’s statement appears to require that the 65 coal generators currently scheduled to be retired after 2029 would be retired early. These generators have a combined generating capacity of approximately 35,000 MW. Many of these generators are relatively new and would have been candidates for future life extension projects. These generators represent an initial investment of approximately $100 billion and would have an estimated residual value of approximately $50 billion, which would become an economic dead loss upon closure of the plants.

Termination of coal fueled generation would also strand approximately $30 trillion of coal resources in the US. The federal government might continue to permit the mining and sale of US coal to other countries, although such a decision would make no sense if the intent is to eliminate CO2 emissions from coal combustion, since the resulting CO2 would enter the same atmosphere regardless of where the coal was burned.

Current US coal generating capacity is approximately 200,000 MW. If that capacity is eliminated prior to 2030 as envisioned by Mr. Kerry, it must be replaced by equivalent dispatchable capacity consisting of renewable generators combined with massive electricity storage systems. It is highly unlikely that much, if any, of the replacement generation would be fossil fueled, since all fossil fueled generation is to be retired by 2035, unless equipped with carbon capture and storage capability.

Wind turbines are currently the leading source of renewable electricity generation in the US. Replacing current US coal generation of 500,000,000 Megawatt-hours with wind turbines would require the installation of approximately 76,000 2.5 MW wind turbines at an estimated investment of approximately $1.3 million per MW, or approximately $250 billion. However, if the coal generators were being operated in load following mode, at a grid capacity factor of approximately 40%, replacing their capacity would require installation of approximately 190,000 2.5 MW wind turbines and an investment of approximately $625 billion. The installed cost of equivalent solar photovoltaic generating capacity would be approximately the same. Neither of these system costs includes the cost of the land the systems would occupy or the storage required to make them dispatchable.

The installed cost of dispatchable wind or solar generating capacity is not possible to estimate because the battery storage technology required to store electricity for more than a few hours is not commercially available. However, a stable and reliable electric grid would require that renewable generating capacity be dispatchable and that sufficient excess generating capacity be available to recharge storage after use while meeting the demand on the grid.

Decommissioning one coal fueled electric generator each month over the next 8 years is a massive task, but it pales in comparison with the task of replacing those generators with dispatchable renewable capacity over the same period. Anticipated electric demand and consumption growth resulting from federal efforts to electrify transportation and other fossil fueled end uses would make the replacement process even more daunting.

 

Tags: Coal, Electric Power Generation

Renewable Design

This commentary provides a simplified overview of the process of replacing a single dispatchable powerplant with either wind or solar generation plus storage.

The powerplant to be replaced is a 1,000 MW plant, either coal or nuclear fueled. This powerplant would be capable of generating 24,000 MW Hours (MWH) of power per day as a baseload powerplant. Replacing its nameplate generating capacity with 2.5 MW onshore wind turbines would require installation of 400 turbines. However, even assuming very favorable siting, the wind turbines would be expected to generate at approximately 40% of their nameplate rating throughout the day, so replacing the generation capability of the 1,000 MW dispatchable powerplant would require 1,000 wind turbines. However, the instantaneous output of those wind turbines could vary between 2,500 MW and 0 MW throughout the day. Therefore, dispatchable storage would be required to stabilize the output of the storage supported wind farm at 1,000 MW for baseload service. Storage capacity of 10,000 – 15,000 MWH would be required to stabilize facility output and render it dispatchable, depending on characteristic wind conditions.

Typical electric utility load factors are approximately 40%. Therefore, if the powerplant being replaced were in load following service, 400 wind turbines operating at 40% of nameplate capacity would be sufficient to meet the typical daily load. However, the instantaneous output of those 400 wind turbines could vary between 1,000 MW and 0 MW throughout the day. Therefore, dispatchable storage would be required to stabilize the output of the storage supported wind farm at the output required to meet the current load. Storage capacity of approximately 4,000 – 6,000 MWH would be required to stabilize facility output and render it dispatchable, depending on characteristic wind conditions.

Replacing the conventional powerplant with solar generation would require a solar field with a nameplate rating of approximately 4,000 MW, assuming solar panel output of approximately 25% of nameplate rating throughout the day. The facility would require storage with a capacity of approximately 18,000 MWH to render the facility dispatchable in baseload service. In load following service, assuming 40% load factor, the nameplate rating of the solar field could be reduced to approximately 2,000 MW and the storage capacity reduced to approximately 8,000 MWH.

The above calculations are based on a single representative day with storage adequate to smooth output throughout the day. However, assuming significant variations in wind conditions from day to day would require installation of additional storage capacity. For example, accommodating one still day would require an additional 1,000 wind turbines and additional storage capacity of 24,000 MWH in baseload service, or an additional 400 wind turbines and additional storage capacity of approximately 10,000 MWH. Similarly, accommodating one cloudy day would require an additional 4,000 MW of solar collector nameplate capacity and additional storage capacity of 24,000 MWH in baseload service or approximately 10,000 MWH in load following service. Each additional day of anticipated potential low/no wind or solar conditions would add an addition requirement of 24,000 MWH for baseload operation or 10,000 MWH for load following operation.

In addition, in the event stored energy was consumed to support the grid during a period of low/no wind or solar availability, the renewable facility would require additional capacity to recharge storage in anticipation of future low/no wind and solar availability conditions. The additional capacity required would be a function of the local frequency and duration of low/no wind and solar days and the required storage recharge period.

 

Tags: Wind Energy, Solar Energy, Energy Storage / Batteries

Highlighted Article: IEA’s Net Zero: Private to Socialist Investment (OPEC, Russia gift?)

  • 12/2/21 at 07:00 AM

 

From: Master Resource

By: Robert Bradley Jr.

Date: November 11, 2021

 

IEA’s Net Zero: Private to Socialist Investment (OPEC, Russia gift?)

 

Introduction by Lucian Pugliaresi, President, Energy Policy Research Foundation, Inc.

"In May of this year, Fatih Birol, speaking as head of the International Energy Agency, stated publicly that “The pathway to net zero is narrow but still achievable. If we want to reach net zero by 2050 we do not need any more investments in new oil, gas, and coal projects.” Mr. Birol’s comments notwithstanding, large parts of the world continue to rely upon a wide range of petroleum products to sustain and improve their living standards.

If such a strategy is pursued without a commensurate reduction in demand, it would inevitably lead to rapidly rising prices for fossil fuels, diminished living standards, and even potential shortages. It would also lead to serious concerns about the energy security of the member states of the IEA, which Mr. Birol heads. Oddly enough, the central mission of his organization is to promote the energy security of the developed world." ...

 

IEA’s Net Zero: Private to Socialist Investment (OPEC, Russia gift?)

 

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