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In the Wake of the News

Positive Climate News - ORIGINAL CONTENT

 

Climate Sensitivity

The IPCC has recently lowered its estimated range of climate sensitivity to a doubling of atmospheric CO2 concentration. The IPCC AR6 estimated range is 2.5-4.0, with an expected value of 3.0. However, studies conducted by several researchers have produced estimates at or below the bottom of the range estimated by AR6.

 

Resource Consumption Pathways

The IPCC has recently acknowledged that RCP8.5 represents an implausible future. IPCC is now using RCP4.5 as the “business as usual” future pathway, which reduces the expected range of potential global warming.
However, RCP8.5 is still being used as the basis for numerous studies intended to produce “scary scenarios” of the effects of future climate change. Dr. Roger Pielke, Jr. reports that such studies are being published at the rate of approximately 20 per day. Such studies add nothing to the understanding of the science and consume funds which could be far more usefully applied.

 

Satellite Sea Level Rise

A paper published in Nature Scientific Reports determines that the much-discussed acceleration in sea level rise supposedly measured by NASA satellites is instead an artifact of sequentially combining the output of measurements made from four different satellites. The study determined that, after correction, the supposed acceleration in sea level rise was not significantly different from zero at the 95% confidence level.

 

Satellite Based Sea Level from Four Satellites
 
However, the rate of sea level rise reported from satellite measurements is still approximately twice the rate of rise in the much longer tide gauge measurements. Regardless, sea level has been rising since the trough of the Little Ice Age at a consistent rate, with no indication of climate change driven acceleration.

 

Satellite Tropospheric Temperature Anomaly

The satellite tropospheric temperature anomaly record shows the development of another “pause” in atmospheric warming, now stretching to 8 years 4 months, as shown in the graph below. The previous “pause”, which extended from 1998 – 2013, was controversial, resulting in more than 60 studies explaining its cause and other studies claiming it had not happened. The current “pause” is not as controversial, though it would likely become more controversial if it extended to 15-year duration. The previous pause was arguably triggered by the 1998 super El Nino and ended by the runup to the 2016 super El Nino. The current “pause” was arguably triggered by the current triple La Nina and will likely end with the end of the La Nina.

 

UAHv6 Global Mean Temperature Change: 100 months September 2014 to December 2022

 

Near-Surface Temperature Anomaly UHI Distortion

Dr. Roy Spencer has begun a series of analyses of the effects of urbanization and the resulting Urban Heat Island effect on the near-surface temperature record. His analysis of US East Coast cities suggests that the rate of temperature anomaly increase in the near-surface temperature data is approximately 50% too large. The UHI effect appears to have the greatest impact on daily low temperatures, as heat absorbed by urban infrastructure during the day is released to the surrounding atmosphere, partially offsetting normal nighttime cooling.

 

Summary

Each of the situations above strongly suggests that there is no climate crisis and that the effects of climate change will likely be far less adverse than projected by the “scary scenarios”.

 

Tags: Temperature Record, Temperature Anomaly, Sea Level Rise, Sea Level Change

Net Zero or Good Enough? - Highlighted Article

 

From: Climate Etc.

By: Russell Schussler and Roger Caiazza

Date: February 9, 2023


Net Zero or Good Enough?


This good enough plan may get you to net zero before the more ambitious ones.  It is likely to have less carbon emissions than the more aggressive plans over time.  It certainly will be more reliable and affordable.

Electric generation plans need to be well crafted and carefully considered. Because of concerns around  climate change many politicians have become galvanized to hastily enact legislation to target  net-zero anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.  The authors argue that the more seriously you take climate change, the more important it becomes that you have a good plan for electric generation in the near and midterm planning arena.  Taking foolish actions in the near to mid-range time periods will not help with CO2 reductions or climate change and may be far worse than doing nothing.  Maybe we all could compromise and find a less grand strategy that has more likely benefits with far fewer threats to reliability, affordability, and overall environmental impacts.

The authors have both been writing about the proposed net-zero transition by 2050 for years.  Schussler (aka the Planning Engineer) has been writing about the challenges of “green energy” since 2014 at the Judith Curry’s Climate Etc. blog.  Caiazza has focused on New York energy and environmental issues at Pragmatic Environmentalist of New York blog since 2017.  Since the original proposal for New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (Climate Act) in 2019, he has written over 280 articles about that plan to transition to net zero by 2050. (continue reading)

 

Net Zero or Good Enough?

 

Tags: Highlighted Article

The New Normal? - ORIGINAL CONTENT

The US electric utility industry has historically sought to achieve “four nines” (99.99%) reliability of service. One key to achieving very high system reliability has been maintaining an approximate 20% capacity reserve margin compared to peak system demand, which typically allowed peak demand to be met even in the event of failure of the utility’s largest single generator.

Achieving this goal is being complicated by the addition of intermittent renewable, non-dispatchable wind and solar generation capacity. Federal and state incentives and the lack of a requirement for dispatchability make the output of these generation sources the lowest cost alternative when available. Federal and state regulation require that their output be used when available. Their output displaces the output of conventional generation when it is available, but cannot replace conventional generation because it is not dispatchable and is subject to rapid and unpredictable fluctuations in output which must be supplemented by the conventional generators or, if available, by storage.

Periodic power outages resulting from severe weather, accidental damage to power poles and lines, and equipment failure have been normal events. However, as intermittent, non-dispatchable renewable generation proliferates, offsetting progressively greater portions of conventional generation output and increasing the cost per unit of the remaining output, conventional generators are being idled or even shutdown to control operating expense.

Conventional generators maintained at hot idle can be brought into service relatively rapidly in the event of a rapid decline in wind or solar output. However, natural gas combined-cycle generators which have been shut down require several hours to be returned to service and coal plants require several days. The utility might not retain the ability to respond to rapid and unpredictable reductions in wind and solar output as rapidly as the renewable output declines, resulting in the potential for grid failure.

The utility response to such situations is brownouts or rotating blackouts. The geographic extent and duration of these responses is a function of the magnitude and duration of the generation shortfall and/or of the demand spike and the time required for the utility to bring additional conventional generating capacity online.

This issue can be further aggravated by the permanent shutdown of conventional capacity due to age and condition, or to unacceptable operating economics resulting from market conditions or contractual provisions, or to government mandates. It becomes critical when the utility no longer has sufficient dispatchable capacity to replace the intermittent renewable capacity at the demand peak with the coincident failure of the utility’s largest capacity generator.

This situation prevailed over much of the US upper Midwest and East coast during winter storm Elliott, resulting in the implementation of rolling blackouts by numerous utilities in the regions. These rolling blackouts were certainly inconvenient, but were also dangerous due to the very cold temperatures and high winds, which combined to produce sub-zero windchill factors over much of the affected regions.

Hopefully, rolling blackouts will not become the “new normal” for electric utility service as the transition to renewable generation proceeds.

 

Tags: Electric Power Generation, Electric Power Reliability, Electric Power Dispatchable

Climatologist David Dilley: ‘We’re Going Into A Global Cooling Cycle Now’ - Highlighted Video

 

From: Climate Change Dispatch

By: Tom Nelson

Date: January 24, 2023

 

Climatologist David Dilley: ‘We’re Going Into A Global Cooling Cycle Now’


Government agencies say that carbon dioxide levels are rising entirely due to human activity and the burning of fossil fuels. But are they?

Professor Dilley will show that today’s temperatures and carbon dioxide levels are very close to where they should be based on historical cycles. [emphasis, links added]


He will also show that we are sliding into a long-term global cooling cycle. Global warming begins and ends at the poles—and global cooling is now occurring in the Arctic and Antarctic. (contrinue)

 

 

Tags: Highlighted Article

US Coal Generation - ORIGINAL CONTENT

The US currently has approximately 1,250GW of electric generating capacity. Approximately 200GW of that capacity is coal generating capacity, of which approximately 50GW is scheduled to be retired through 2029. The remaining approximately 150GW is currently scheduled to be retired between 2030 and 2048. However, the Biden Administration has “committed” to ending coal generation in the US by 2030, which could force closure of approximately 150GW of dispatchable generating capacity before the end of its useful life.

US peak electricity demand is approximately 725GW, or approximately 60% of total generating capacity. However, approximately 200GW of the total generating capacity is comprised of wind and solar generation, which is not dispatchable, has a capacity factor of approximately 30% and requires 100% backup to assure adequate capacity on peak. Current coal generating capacity is essentially equal to the 100% backup required by the current wind and solar generation. However, all of that coal generating capacity would be out of service by 2030 if the Administration is to meet its “commitment”.

Replacing current coal generating capacity with wind and solar by 2030 would require installation of approximately 650GW of wind and solar nameplate generating capacity, plus the storage capacity necessary to backup that generation during periods of low/no wind and/or solar availability. However, storage capable of providing backup for more than 4 hours is not currently available and might not be available by 2030.

The retirement of 200GW of coal generation and the commissioning of 650GW of wind and solar generation would result in a grid with total nameplate generating capacity of approximately 1,700GW (1,250 – 200 + 650), of which only 50% would be dispatchable, essentially matching the capacity of the wind and solar generation requiring backup in the absence of appropriate electricity storage. That would leave no capacity margin on peak compared to the typical 20% capacity margin currently maintained by the electric utility industry. This situation could easily lead to increased grid instability and the likelihood of rolling blackouts to prevent grid collapse.

The early retirement of approximately 150GW of coal generating facilities creates another issue for the plant owners, most of which are electric utilities. Assuming typical electric utility 40-year straight line depreciation of assets, average original plant cost of $1 billion per GW and average 10-year premature retirement, generating assets with a remaining book value of approximately $35-40 billion would be stranded. It is uncertain how the federal government, which is forcing the premature retirements, and the various state utility commissions would deal with the financial impact of these stranded assets on the plant owners.

Beyond 2030, the availability of adequate long-duration electricity storage capacity becomes critical. Wind and solar generation continue to increase while the Administration “commitment” forces closure of approximately 550GW of dispatchable natural gas generation capacity over the following 5 years, leaving only approximately 250GW of nuclear, hydro, geothermal and biomass generation as dispatchable backup. Clearly, the Administration “commitment” can not result in a reliable grid without massive, long-duration storage.

The above scenario assumes no load growth over the period, though population growth and the Administration push for “all-electric everything” would certainly cause load growth.

 

Tags: Coal, Electric Power Dispatchable, Electric Power Generation

A Critical Examination of the Six Pillars of Climate Change Despair - Highlighted Article

 

From: Watts Up With That

By: Doug R Rogers

Date: January 19, 2023

 

A Critical Examination of the Six Pillars of Climate Change Despair


World still ‘on brink of climate catastrophe’[1]
World close to ‘irreversible’ climate breakdown[2]
Large regions of the world are becoming unlivable – lethal for 3 to 5 billion of us[3]
…slaughter, death, and starvation of 6 billion people[4] – Roger Hallam, Extinction Rebellion

    In 2023 it’s hard to avoid seeing images and headlines like these. The result for many is a deep seated fear[5], anxiety[6] [7], and pessimism[8] [9] about the future. The topic of Climate Change (CC) has seeped into nearly every facet of our lives, and never in a positive way. It’s always present as a dark cloud hanging over society; a source of guilt for those who indulge in some of life’s most basic pleasures, the basis of moralistic judgments by those who like to signal their concern, and the cause of nihilism[10] [11] and hopelessness[12] felt by many in the youngest generations.

    Why does CC have such deeply negative connotations and harmful effects on people’s mental well being? Because we are constantly reminded of the six dark and destructive consequences of CC:

      1) heat will cause millions to die or live in misery

      2) tens of millions (some say billions) will be forced to migrate

      3) a million or more species will become extinct in just a few decades

      4) sea level rise will have disastrous world-wide consequences

      5) agricultural production will be devastated, causing widespread famine

      6) humanity will suffer floods, droughts, and other terrible natural disasters

    These are the six pillars of climate change despair that activists and the media obsess over. The activists do it because they think they are saving the planet; the media do it because bad news gets more clicks than good news. Plus, they both do it to appear virtuous. They both keep ramping up the rhetoric so that with each passing year the predictions about each of these consequences become even more frightening and apocalyptic. There are some lesser concerns (eg. Arctic and glacier melting), but these six are the catastrophic ones.

    No wonder so many people are depressed and pessimistic about the future. It shouldn’t be surprising there’s an epidemic of “climate change anxiety”. (continue reading)

 

A Critical Examination of the Six Pillars of Climate Change Despair

 

Tags: Highlighted Article

Tropical Cyclone Attribution - ORIGINAL CONTENT

Tropical cyclones (hurricanes in the Atlantic and Northeast Pacific basins and typhoons in the Pacific and Indian Ocean basins) are weather events which involve wind, rain, thunderstorms and storm surge and can trigger tornadoes. The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale rates tropical cyclones based on their maximum sustained wind speed. Storms are rated in categories 1-5 based on maximum wind speed range, which is associated with the extent of expected damage to infrastructure in the path of the storms.

Each tropical cyclone is unique because of the myriad of weather conditions each storm encounters throughout its duration. Each storm begins as a tropical depression which might or might not develop into a tropical storm, which then might or might not develop into a tropical cyclone. In the current satellite era, each tropical depression is identified and tracked throughout its duration.

The intense global focus on climate change and its potential effects on weather events such as tropical cyclones, tornadoes, floods, droughts and heat waves has led to the development of climate model-based attribution studies which attempt to identify the extent to which climate change might have affected the frequency, intensity and other characteristics of weather events. These attribution studies have recently evolved into attempts at “instant attribution”, which permits estimates of potential climate change affects on severe weather events to be reported while the weather event is still in the news and fresh in the public’s minds.

The attribution studies for tropical cyclones focus on storm frequency, intensity, speed, associated rainfall and track. One recent example is the attribution of a 10% increase in rainfall associated with Hurricane Ian. This attribution was based on analysis of those characteristics for similar storms in the past. However, our limited understanding suggests that these attributions are premature.

While the focus of attribution studies has been on the damage caused by tropical cyclones, there has been little focus on other potential attribution issues related to tropical cyclones. These issues include whether climate change has any impact on the frequency and timing of the formation of tropical depressions, or the frequency with which tropical depressions develop into tropical storms and tropical storms develop into tropical cyclones. There has also been little focus on the potential affects of climate change on the paths of tropical cyclones or the frequency with which tropical cyclones dissipate at sea.

The 2022 hurricane season is a case in point. The map below shows the tracks of all named tropical storms in the Atlantic Basin in 2022. The season was originally predicted to be above average, but was nearly average on most metrics, though accumulated cyclone energy was significantly lower.

 

2022 Named Storms
 

The media predictably focused on the loss of life and financial damage caused by Hurricane Ian. However, Ian’s track and potential landfall location were predicted accurately well in advance of landfall, allowing ample time to secure properties and evacuate. The financial damage, while major, was consistent with historical norms on a GDP adjusted basis, because of the continuing construction of expensive infrastructure in areas subject to hurricane landfalls.

 

Tags: Severe Weather

“Rare Earths,” Electrification Mandates, and Energy Security (Part II) - Highlighted Article

 

From: Master Resource

By: Mark Krebs

Date: January 12, 2023

 

“Rare Earths,” Electrification Mandates, and Energy Security (Part II)


“What we have is one-way bureaucratic command-and-control making poor decisions with funding derived from captive consumers and one-sided radical agendas. Accordingly, the environmental zealots demonize fossil fuels, while maintaining that only wind and solar are ‘green’ enough to ‘save the planet.’ This itself is greenwashing.”

Like Rob Bradley’s “Renewable Energy: Not Cheap, Not ‘Green’” (see Part I), my colleague Tom Tanton wrote a major piece about the over-regulation of the rare-earth extraction industry in the U.S.: “Dig it!  If you want more information on the importance of rare earths within the U.S economy, this would be a good place to start.

The long-term feasibility of this transition to renewables simply assumes sufficient raw materials exist for it at all. Professor Michaux of the Geological Survey of Finland (GTK) has studied these issues, probably more extensively than anyone else and thinks not. Professor Simon Michaux took on these issues via the following ground-breaking work:

It’s Time to Wake Up – The Currently Known Global Mineral Reserves Will Not Be Sufficient to Supply Enough Metals to Manufacture the Planned Non-fossil Fuel Industrial Systems

The upshot of Professor Michaux’s work is that “we need a new plan” as there are not enough raw materials to sustain this transition nor can recycling or reprocessing mining waste make up for the shortfall.  Since the success of free market economies is predicated upon informed citizens, I urge you to visit Professor Michaux’s website or, at a minimum, view the following YouTube: (continue reading)

 

“Rare Earths,” Electrification Mandates, and Energy Security (Part II)

 

Tags: Highlighted Article

Climate Change Extremes - ORIGINAL CONTENT

They're rioting in Africa
There's strife in Iran
What nature doesn't do to us
Will be done by our fellow man.

The Merry Minuet, Sheldon Harnick


Mother Nature has been providing the earth with numerous types of severe weather and climate events over the millennia. Heat waves, cold waves, droughts, heavy rains, tropical cyclones and tornadoes are all part of weather history. Ice ages and warm and cool periods during interglacials accompanied by rising and falling sea levels are part of climate history. These weather and climate events have occurred almost exclusively without human influence.

However, since the inception of the industrial revolution, humans have been emitting “greenhouse gases” (GHGs) including carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide to the atmosphere. The addition of these anthropogenic GHGs is believed to have contributed to a warming of the global climate, though it is not possible to measure the relative contributions of anthropogenic emissions and natural climate variability to this warming.

There exists an alarmist faction which insists that most or all of the recent warming has been anthropogenic, that it poses an existential threat to life on earth and that the burning of fossil fuels must be halted rapidly to avoid climageddon. This faction also asserts that this anthropogenic warming is increasing the frequency, severity and duration of severe weather events. Both the threat assessments and the attribution assertions are based on unvalidated and unverified climate models.

Virtually all of the nations of the globe have agreed to take steps to reduce GHG emissions, though the specific steps and their timing varies greatly among the nations. The developed nations, which have been accused of responsibility for the recent warming, have focused on achieving net zero GHG emissions by 2050. Their programs have included closing coal and natural gas electric generating stations, incentivizing renewable electric generation, limiting or eliminating oil and gas exploration and production, banning new natural gas end uses and requiring production of electric vehicles. Some have even suggested closure of farms to reduce GHG emissions, threatening food supply, while others are restarting coal plants to deal with a perceived energy crisis.

Developing nations, while giving lip service to emissions reductions, remain focused on economic development, including expansion of electric service based on coal and natural gas generation. Nations in Asia, including China, India, Indonesia and South Korea are in the process of constructing more than 175 GW of new coal generating capacity. Numerous nations in Africa are expanding coal and natural gas production for both local consumption and sale. Several nations have expressed a willingness to consider pursuing lower emissions trajectories if the developed nations fund the programs.

Assuming a general agreement to reduce global annual CO2 and other GHG emissions, the contrast between massive coal-fired generation increases in the developing nations and plans to close farms in the developed nations is awe-inspiring. The experience of Sri Lankan agricultural failure after its ban on the use of synthetic fertilizers to limit nitrous oxide emissions should cause national governments to carefully evaluate steps to reduce agricultural GHG emissions.

 

Tags: Severe Weather, Greenhouse Gas, Net Zero Emissions

“Rare Earths,” Electrification Mandates, and Energy Security (Part I) - Highlighted Article

 

From: Master Resource

By: Mark Krebs

Date: January 11, 2023

 

“Rare Earths,” Electrification Mandates, and Energy Security (Part I)

“My major argument: any planned transition to an all-electric renewable energy monoculture is likely to fail, at least in America. That is mainly because peak winter heating requirements can greatly exceed peak summer cooling requirements by as much as 400 to 500 percent in cold climates and because the required minerals are severely limited.”

On August 27, 1997, the Cato Institute published “Renewable Energy: Not Cheap, Not ‘Green’,” written by Robert L. Bradley Jr. (A 58-page PDF of the study is available here and a 25th anniversary review here.)  Bradley’s piece focused on the many stark ecological tradeoffs of politically favored renewables, as well as the high cost/low value associated of dilute, intermittent sourcing. This post extends that thinking to the deep decarbonization/all-electrification government program.

Rare earth minerals, on which the forced transition to “clean energy” depends, are critically constrained by many of the same factors as fossil fuels. Supplies of these minerals are dominated by regimes with intent to cultivate and exploit our growing dependency on them. As these raw materials are extracted and the strategic dominance of China increases, prices will have a premium that will impact consumers. Finding and developing supply chain alternatives will also bring increased energy expenditures necessary to secure and process these rare earth minerals. This will decrease ostensible environmental benefits from “green energy.” (continue reading)

 

“Rare Earths,” Electrification Mandates, and Energy Security (Part I)

 

Tags: Highlighted Article

A New Paradigm - ORIGINAL CONTENT

Electric grids have demonstrated the ability to adapt to some fraction of intermittent renewable generation, as long as there is sufficient dispatchable generation available to meet contemporaneous grid demand when the intermittent renewables are not producing power or are producing power at less than rated capacity. The dispatchable generating capacity is currently predominantly fossil fueled, since existing nuclear generating capacity is largely base loaded.

However, as grid demand grows as the result of population growth and a move to “all-electric everything” and the quantity of intermittent renewable generation increases, there will be a growing need for additional dispatchable generating capacity. However, the parallel pressure to close both coal and natural gas generating facilities will lead to decreased, rather than increased, dispatchable fossil-fueled generation capacity in both absolute and percentage terms. This would lead to reduced grid reliability and resiliency, and probably to managed blackouts to avoid grid collapse.

The current industry paradigm is for the utility industry to accept connection to unsmoothed and non-dispatchable intermittent renewable generation and to accept all power produced by those generators on a priority basis. That paradigm is sustainable as long as dispatchable generation capacity exceeds intermittent renewable generating capacity. However, current federal climate change efforts to promote intermittent renewables and force closure of dispatchable fossil-fueled generation presage the end to that paradigm.

The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) is currently raising concerns about grid reliability and resilience. NERC should work with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners to assure that the transition to a grid based on intermittent renewable generators continues to provide economical, reliable power. Two essential aspects of such a transition are dispatchable generation and economic dispatch.

The federal and state regulators should encourage and support a utility requirement that all new intermittent renewable generation sources connected to their grids include sufficient storage to render them dispatchable and sufficient excess generating capacity to recharge storage after use. The storage necessary to meet this requirement would depend on the maximum number of consecutive hours or days during which the generators were unable to operate because of low solar insolation or inadequate or excessive wind conditions and the frequency of such occurrences. The generators could be required to be dispatchable 85% of the year, which is the common dispatchability percentage for coal generating stations.

The resulting dispatchable renewable generators would be capable of replacing conventional coal and natural gas generators, rather than merely displacing the output of conventional generation when the intermittent generators were operating. Their ownership and operating costs would be directly comparable to the ownership and operating costs of conventional generators, particularly if current federal and state incentives were terminated. A return to economic dispatch would maximize power supplied by the lowest cost generators, eliminating the current preferences for renewable generation and minimizing wholesale power costs.

The storage required to render intermittent renewable generators dispatchable is currently very expensive and is not capable of delivering stored power for the expected duration of renewable generation unavailability. This is a critical impediment.

 

Tags: Electric Power Generation, Electric Power Reliability, Electric Power Dispatchable

Misperception and amplification of climate risk - Highlighted Article

 

From: Climate Etc.

By: Judith Curry

Date: December 13, 2022

 

Misperception and amplification of climate risk

 

“Something frightening poses a perceived risk. Something dangerous poses a real risk.” – Swedish physician Hans Rosling et al.[i]


This post is a follow on to my recent post Victims of the faux climate ‘crisis’. Part I: Children.  The issue of psychological trauma of children is one that I am continuing to work on, to identify root causes and a way forward.

The theme of this particular post is how our perceptions of risk differ from the actual risk itself.  Understanding this difference provides insights to understanding these fears, as well as providing insights into how these differences are manipulated by propagandists.

Apart from the objective facts about a risk, the social sciences find that our interpretation of those facts is ultimately subjective.  Risk science makes a clear distinction between professional judgments about risk versus the public perception of risk. Risk perception is a person’s subjective judgement or appraisal of risk, which can involve social, cultural and psychological factors.

No matter how strongly we feel about our perceptions of risk, we often get risk wrong. People worry about some things more than the evidence warrants (e.g. nuclear radiation, genetically modified food), and less about other threats than the evidence warrants (e.g., obesity, using mobile phones while driving). This gap in risk perception produces social policies that protect us more from what we are afraid of than from what actually threatens us the most.  Understanding the psychology of risk perception is important for rationally managing the risks that arise when our subjective risk perception system gets things dangerously wrong. (continue reading)

 

Misperception and amplification of climate risk

 

Tags: Highlighted Article

Future Grid - ORIGINAL CONTENT

 

"The Navy is a master plan designed by geniuses for execution by idiots."    Herman Wouk, The Caine Mutiny

It currently appears that the Administration’s vision of the future US electric grid, supplied predominantly by intermittent renewables and supported by electricity storage, is a master fantasy designed by politicians for execution by geniuses with the unique talent of Rumpelstiltskin. There appears to be no plan to assure that the required number of geniuses will be available timely.

Wind and solar generation operate intermittently, and their output fluctuates continuously when they are operating. The grid is currently required to accept this intermittent, fluctuating output on a priority basis and to smooth the output and dispatch alternative sources of generation when the intermittent generator output declines or ceases as the result of time of day or weather conditions. This requirement imposes predictable but uncontrollable costs on the grid and on the conventional generation capacity which supplies the grid during periods of low/no intermittent generation.

As the grid expands in line with the Administration’s “all-electric everything” goal and the capacity of fossil-fueled conventional generation declines as the result of federal mandates and the unfavorable economics of reduced operating hours, there will be a growing need for increased electricity storage capacity and for “Dispatchable Emissions-Free Resources”(DEFR). Unfortunately, the long-duration storage which would be required to support the grid through multi-day renewable energy “droughts” is not currently available and the DEFR remain undefined.

One approach to long-duration storage is pumped hydroelectric facilities. These facilities require paired reservoirs separated by significant elevation differences. There are approximately 23 GW of pumped storage capacity  in the US. This compares with a total US generating capacity of approximately 1,200 GW, of which approximately 140 GW is wind and 65 GW is solar renewable generating capacity. The move to “all-electric everything” over the next 28 years would require a rough tripling of US generating capacity, to approximately 3,600 GW, assuming no demand growth.

The conventional generating capacity which would be replaced by renewable generation plus storage consists of coal (~85% availability), Natural gas (~90% availability) and Nuclear (~95% availability). The renewable generation would consist of wind (~35% capacity factor times ~85% availability) and solar (~25% capacity factor times ~ 90% availability). Therefore, the rating plate capacity of the renewable generation required would be approximately four times the rating plate capacity of conventional generation capacity to serve the same grid demand, or approximately 14,000 GW.

The storage capacity required to support renewable generators during periods when they are not available to generate is the capacity of the generator times the maximum number of consecutive hours over which the renewable generation might be unavailable. The current US electricity storage capacity of 23 GW would be capable of replacing only one third of the current solar generating capacity. Assuming that storage capacity is all 8-hour storage (8 hr * 23 GW = 184 GWh), that storage capacity is the equivalent of replacing current US solar generating capacity for approximately 3 hours.

The ”all-electric everything” grid would require approximately 70 times current US renewable generating capacity and approximately 5,000 times current US electricity storage capacity.

 

Tags: Power Grid, Electric Power Generation, Electric Power Reliability, Energy Storage / Batteries

Level Playing Field - ORIGINAL CONTENT

Wind and solar generation are intermittent forms of renewable generation. Wind generation functions only when wind velocity is above a minimum threshold and below a maximum threshold. Solar functions only during the daytime, and then only when the sun shines. This wind velocity intermittency is reasonably predictable over the short term. The nighttime unavailability of solar is totally predictable and the sunshine intermittency is reasonably predictable over the short term.
However, these are not the only intermittency issues with wind and solar. There are also second-by-second volatility events which affect the output of wind and solar generators. The graphs below are taken from papers authored by Thunder Said Energy.
The graph below displays the short-term volatility of wind output from a 25 MW wind facility over a one-month period. During this month there were an average of 75 short-term volatility events per day during which power output dropped by more than 10% and as much as 100% for at least 1 second and fewer than 100,000 seconds (~28 hours). While every day and every month are unique, this monthly record displays a type of wind variability which is rarely discussed. This volatile wind facility output is fed to an electric grid which must match supply and demand for 60 cycles every second.

 

2250 volatility events

 

The next graph shows the variation of wind power output from the 25 MW wind facility over the course of a single day, during which maximum output was approximately 6.5 MW, or approximately 25% of rating plate capacity, and the average output was 2.3 MW, or approximately 10% of rating plate capacity.

 

Average Output 27 August

 

The next graph shows the output of the 25 MW wind facility over a period of a single day during which maximum output was approximately 2.3 MW and the average output was 0.1 MW.

 

Average Output 10 August

 

The graph below displays the short-term volatility of solar output over a period of 1 year. During this year there were an average of 96 volatility events per day during which power output dropped by more than 10% and as much as 95% for at least 1 second and fewer than approximately 13,000 seconds (~3.6 hours).

 

35000 volatility events

 

The final graph shows the variation in solar insolation on a single day. This is the type of intermittency which is generally discussed regarding solar energy. The times of day when measurable insolation becomes available and ceases to be available would change with latitude and with the seasons, as would the maximum daily insolation.

 

variation in solar insolation on a single day

 

Currently, it is the responsibility of the grid operator to compensate for the volatility of wind and solar generation output. Typically, the grid operator is dealing with input to the grid from numerous wind facilities and/or solar fields, each of which is experiencing volatility to some degree. The volatility might be either synchronous or asynchronous at any given time. Smoothing this volatility imposes costs on the grid which result in increased electricity prices.
To level the playing field for the various sources of electric generation, the volatility of wind and solar output should be smoothed prior to output delivery to the grid. Smoothing could be accomplished with capacitors or batteries, or a combination of both. This will become increasingly important as the fraction of intermittent generation on the grid increases and the availability of dispatchable conventional generation to compensate for wind and solar volatility decreases. Of course, the maximum output of the wind and solar generation facilities would be reduced somewhat by the need to recharge capacitors or storage used to smooth the output volatility.

 

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