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In the Wake of the News

Full Disclosure - Wind - ORIGINAL CONTENT

Wind is intermittent. Therefore, wind generation is intermittent. Wind is unreliably available around the clock. Wind conditions vary geographically and seasonally. Therefore, wind generation potential varies geographically and seasonally. Wind generation has been implemented initially in the best locations for wind generation potential. However, expansion of wind generation would require installations in less than ideal locations.

US Energy Information Administration uses a capacity factor of 40% for new onshore wind generation. The International Energy Agency uses a capacity factor of 50% for offshore wind generation. Virtually all wind generation in the US and globally is redundant capacity, in that it cannot replace dispatchable conventional generation in a reliable grid, though it can displace the output of that conventional generation when wind generation operates.
Wind farms are typically proposed and reported based on the rating plate capacity of the wind generators. However, since the wind turbine capacity factors are in the 40-50% range, their annual potential output is typically half, or less, of the annual potential output of a conventional generator of the same rating plate capacity.

Wind generation must be supplied with full capacity backup to replace the wind generator output when the wind is not blowing, or is blowing at too high a velocity for the turbines to operate. This backup capacity is currently provided by the conventional generation fleet.

Wind generation capacity cannot be permitted to increase beyond the capacity of the conventional generation fleet if the grid is to remain reliable. This situation could result from an increase in wind generation or from a decrease in conventional generation capacity, or both.

The full cost of wind generation includes the capital, operating and maintenance costs of the wind farm plus the capital and operating costs of the conventional backup generation required when the wind generation is inoperable. The wind generation industry typically ignores the real cost of conventional backup, so that it can claim that wind generation is cheaper than conventional generation.

As conventional generation is retired, either because of age and condition or because of environmental regulation or Executive Order, its capacity must be replaced by storage capable of storing the rating plate output of the conventional generators for the maximum period of time wind generation might be unavailable, plus additional wind generating capacity sufficient to recharge the storage in the shortest period of time between wind interruptions. In this case, the full cost of wind generation includes the capital, operating and maintenance costs of the wind farm plus the capital, operating and maintenance costs of the storage and the extra wind generation capacity required to recharge storage.

Clearly, wind generation is not cheaper than conventional generation when its full costs are considered. Wind generation increases total generation investment in the short term, since it is redundant capacity. It also increases grid investment in the longer term, since it requires both storage capacity to backup the wind generation and additional wind generation capacity to recharge storage. The undepreciated investment in conventional generation retired by environmental regulation or Executive Order also remains as a grid investment, further increasing the cost of the wind generation plus storage which replaced it.

The expected life of wind turbines is 20-25 years. This compares to the 40-year depreciation period typical for conventional generation, increasing the annual ownership costs of the wind farm.


Tags: Wind Energy

Offshore Wind Project - ORIGINAL CONTENT


Dominion Energy has proposed Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind (CVOW), the first large offshore wind project in the United States. CVOW would be a 2.6 GW wind farm consisting of 176 15 MW wind turbines, 3 offshore electric substations, underwater and onshore power delivery cables, a collector station and an interconnection to the existing Dominion grid.



offshore wind schematic

The estimated cost of the project is $10 billion, or approximately $57 million per wind turbine. The 15 MW Siemens Gamesa wind turbines are the largest commercially available wind turbines and will be mounted 800 feet above mean sea level, approximately 27 miles offshore of Hampton, VA.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates the annual capacity factor of offshore wind turbines at 50%. I will use this estimate, since there is no commercial experience with these new wind turbines and no experience with offshore wind turbines in the Norfolk, VA area. At this capacity factor, the actual average annual capacity of the CVOW wind farm would be approximately 1.3 GW, fluctuating over a range from 0 – 2.6 GW. The output of the CVOW wind farm, as proposed, is non-dispatchable. Therefore, it would require either conventional generation backup or massive electricity storage capacity.

The daily average power generated by the CVOW wind farm would be approximately 31 GWh (1.3 * 24). Therefore, storage capacity of approximately 31 GWh would be required to replace wind farm output for each low/no wind day. Replacing wind farm output over a 10-day wind drought similar to that experienced in the UK and Western Europe in the Fall of 2021 would require long-duration storage of more than 300 GWh. Such long-duration storage is not currently commercially available and there is no schedule for its commercial availability.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) estimates the current cost of 4-hour battery storage at $350/kwh. This cost is projected to drop to an average of $150/kWh by 2050. Since long-duration storage capable of a 10-day operating cycle is not commercially available and its future cost is unknown, I will use the current cost of 4-hour storage to estimate the cost of making the output of the CVOW wind farm dispatchable. The approximate 300 GWh long-duration storage requirement is equal to 300,000,000 kWh, at a storage system cost of $350/kWh, or a total cost of approximately $105 billion, or approximately 10 times the cost of the wind farm.

Storage is a passive component of the overall wind energy system. Storage must be charged with surplus electricity generated by the wind farm or elsewhere in the Dominion grid; and, it must also be recharged after each use. While this could be accomplished today using the Dominion grid’s conventional generation capacity reserve margin, charging and recharging in a renewable plus storage grid would require additional renewable generating capacity beyond the capacity required to serve the contemporaneous demand of the grid. The additional renewable generating capacity required to charge and recharge storage would be determined by the number of days allowed for charging and especially recharging storage.


Tags: Wind Energy

“The Thick Plottens” - ORIGINAL CONTENT

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”, Antoine de St. Exupery

The Biden Administration has announced several goals to be achieved regarding climate change, culminating in Net Zero GHG emissions by 2050 in the US. However, the Administration has not publicly introduced plans to achieve these goals, though the elements of such plans must be in existence.

Certain elements of such plans have begun to become obvious over the past 15 months. The Administration has taken numerous actions to hamper the exploration for and production of oil and natural gas to starve the market for these commodities, including delaying or canceling lease sales and “slow walking” operating permits on existing leases. The Administration has also encouraged the financial markets to deny financing to new fossil fuel projects. The Administration is also preparing new environmental regulations intended to make oil and gas production, transmission and distribution more difficult and expensive.

These actions have resulted in an approximate doubling of fossil fuel prices. The intent of these actions and the resulting increases is to make fossil fuel use less attractive and thus make electric end-use more attractive to consumers and businesses. The most obvious manifestation of this intent is the promotion of electric vehicles of all types, including purchase incentives and federal support for the installation of EV fueling infrastructure. The Administration has actually recommended that people buy EVs to avoid increasing gasoline prices. The recent ban on imports of Russian oil will likely further increase gasoline prices, which have already doubled under the Administration.

The Administration is also actively promoting renewable electricity generation and providing continuing incentives for the construction of wind and solar generation. However, wind and solar generation represent redundant generating capacity, since they require full conventional generation backup in the absence of electric energy storage sufficient to power the grid during periods of low/no wind and solar generation. The conventional backup requirement, combined with dispatch preferences for renewables when available, increases the cost of utility electricity while disincentivizing the operation of the conventional backup generation, which operates at progressively lower capacity factors and thus higher cost per unit of power generated.

Interestingly, the proliferation of renewable generation is increasing electricity costs and thus increasing the cost of the electricity required to recharge the batteries in the EVs being promoted to avoid rising gasoline costs.

Perhaps the most interesting outcome of these Administration actions and the resulting price increases and electric grid reliability issues is the “Blame Game”, in which the Administration denies any responsibility for the results of its actions and points the “finger of blame” at the oil and gas industries and the electric utility industry.

The Administration is joined in pointing the “finger of blame” at the electric utility industry by the developers of renewable generation projects, who assert that the utilities should be responsible for extending transmission lines to their projects and also for providing sufficient electricity storage to meet grid demand during periods of low/no wind and solar generation. That position allows the renewable developers to brag about their low generating costs while blaming the utilities for the increased utility rates resulting from these transmission and storage investments.


Tags: Electric Power Generation, Energy Storage / Batteries, Fossil Fuel Elimination / Reduction

Precautionary Principle - ORIGINAL CONTENT

The Precautionary Principle is frequently cited as the justification for actions to halt or retard climate change. This commentary will question the application of the principle to the design of a renewable plus storage electric grid.

The application of the principle to the current US electric grid has centered on the maintenance of a 20% (+/-) capacity reserve margin relative to peak demand. This reserve capacity plus scheduling of generator maintenance during off-peak periods have been very successful in avoiding grid failure. Utility customers with critical loads frequently install standby generators to compensate for distribution or transmission outages caused by adverse weather and accidents.

In recent years, the introduction of intermittent renewable generation and the retirement of conventional generation has tended to reduce capacity reserve margins, as electricity generated by the intermittent renewable generators has displaced electricity generated by conventional sources when the intermittent renewable generators operate. This issue has surfaced in California, which no longer maintains sufficient conventional generation capacity to completely replace the output of intermittent generators when they are unable to generate because of time-of-day or weather conditions. This has resulted in the application of demand-side management programs and in the use of rolling blackouts to avoid grid failure. California also routinely relies on imports of electricity from neighboring states to meet demand.

The critical differences in a renewable plus storage grid with no conventional, dispatchable generation are the very limited availability or complete unavailability of generation sources which are not weather dependent and the unavailability of fossil-fueled standby generators for use in the event of distribution or transmission outages, or worse a grid failure. The unavailability of fossil-fueled standby generators is a particular issue for users with critical loads, such as hospitals.

In a renewable plus storage grid, the dispatchable element is storage. Therefore the Precautionary Principle would appear to require that there be sufficient charged storage capacity with sufficient deliverability to replace the output of the renewable generators over whatever time period the renewable generation is unable to perform or perform at capacity; and, that there be sufficient additional renewable generating capacity to rapidly recharge storage depleted during a renewable generation hiatus in anticipation of the next renewable generation hiatus.

The Precautionary Principle would also appear to require that conventional generating capacity be maintained until sufficient storage capacity and deliverability are installed and operational to replace the conventional generation and sufficient additional renewable generating capacity is available to recharge storage. Renewable generating capacity alone is insufficient to replace dispatchable generation capacity, though it can displace the output of the conventional generation, as is the case today.

While a renewable plus storage grid would require additional capacity to recharge storage, it might not require the type of capacity reserve margin typically used in grids with conventional generation. The individual renewable generators would be much more numerous and of much lower capacity than conventional generators and therefore failure of an individual generator would have far less impact on grid generating capacity.

It would seem that the Precautionary Principle would require that the initial renewable plus storage grid buildout consist of significantly more generating and storage capacity relative to peak demand than the conventional grid it replaces. Experience gained during the early operation of the renewable plus storage grid would help determine the appropriate level of generating and storage capacity and deliverability to be added and maintained as the conversion to an all-electric energy economy proceeds.


Tags: Precautionary Principle, Energy Storage / Batteries, Backup Power

Navigating America’s net-zero frontier: A guide for business leaders - Highlighted Article


From: McKinsey Sustainability

By: Rory Clune, Laura Corb, Will Glazener, Kimberly Henderson, Dickon Pinner, and Daan Walter

Date: May 5, 2022

Navigating America’s net-zero frontier: A guide for business leaders

With the United States’ announcement of targets to halve US greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions by 2030 and reach net-zero emissions by 2050, the world’s largest economy (and second-largest emitter) has joined some 130 nations in its intention to act on climate change.1 Some 400 large US-based companies have also committed to net-zero targets of their own, many of which have set ambitious emissions reductions targets for 2030 or sooner.2 In our experience, few have yet turned those pledges into detailed plans for adjusting their business models to thrive in a net-zero economy.

Creating an effective business plan for the net-zero transition won’t be easy, for uncertainty surrounds the pace and scale at which this transition will progress in America and in other countries. That uncertainty has been compounded by the conflict in Ukraine, which has increased the world’s attention to energy security, creating both tailwinds and headwinds for the energy transition. In light of this uncertainty, US companies may wish to assess the business risks and opportunities and the socioeconomic impacts associated with the transition. We believe the companies that understand these factors can better position themselves for long-term success and positive impact. Those that delay action may miss out on growth prospects that should arise as institutions in America and elsewhere strive to eliminate GHG emissions in pursuit of national and corporate targets.

This article is intended as a guide to America’s net-zero transition. It examines four topics critical for business leaders as they shape strategies for this defining decade. First, we describe America’s starting point and trace a pathway that we modeled for achieving federal net-zero targets. Next, based on this pathway, we identify five areas in which climate solutions could offer enormous potential for both emissions abatement and economic growth through 2025: renewable power, electrification, operational efficiency, clean fuels, and carbon capture. We then examine several macro trends that business leaders should anticipate. Finally, we suggest how executives might define their company’s approach to the transition. Even if the transition plays out differently from what our scenario envisions, it appears that a time of climate-focused innovation, investment, and change has arrived—and that leaders would do well to prepare for it. (continue reading)


Navigating America’s net-zero frontier: A guide for business leaders


Tags: Highlighted Article


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


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

Suspend Skepticism - ORIGINAL CONTENT

Climate skeptics question assertions and projections which are not based on, or are in conflict with, observations and data. These are the common bases for skepticism regarding "adjusted” near-surface temperature measurements, “adjusted” sea surface temperature measurements, conflicting sea level rise measurements and multiple unverified and unvalidated climate models. They are also the common bases for skepticism regarding assertions of a “climate crisis”, “climate emergency” or “existential threat”.

Climate alarmists dismiss this skepticism as “climate denial” or “climate change denial", or label the skeptics as “anti-science“. However, skepticism is essential to the advancement of science and human understanding.

Climate alarmists claim to be able to detect the influence of anthropogenic CO2 emissions in a broad variety of weather and climate events, including: hurricane frequency, intensity and speed; tornado frequency and intensity; heat and cold waves; drought frequency and severity; and, flooding frequency and severity. They project that hurricanes will become more frequent and stronger and that they will advance more slowly, increasing precipitation in their paths. They also project that tornadoes will become more frequent and stronger and that tornado swarms will become more common. These assertions of detection and projections are typically the result of model-based attribution studies and climate model projections.

Let us suspend skepticism and consider the implications of these assertions for a renewable plus storage US energy system. Roger Pielke, Jr. and Bjorn Lomborg, among others, have determined that the increasing costs of damage caused by extreme weather events are largely the result of increased investments in infrastructure in areas historically prone to extreme weather and to the increasing value of those infrastructure investments with increasing GDP.

It is uncommon for energy generation and production infrastructure to be severely damaged by extreme weather events, though damage to electric transmission and distribution infrastructure is far more common. This is, in part, the result of the relatively limited number of generation and production facilities and of the structural design of these facilities.

A US renewable plus storage energy system composed of a mix of on-shore and off-shore wind and ground-mounted solar photovoltaic collector panels would dramatically increase the number of electric generation sites and the area occupied by those generation sites, significantly increasing the exposure of energy generation infrastructure to extreme weather events. The renewable plus storage energy system would also require major transmission infrastructure expansion to connect the numerous, dispersed generators to the existing electric grid.

Professor Michael Mann has suggested that the Saffir-Simpson Scale used to categorize hurricane strength be expanded from the current 5 categories to 6 categories in anticipation of stronger future hurricanes resulting from projected climate change. The Biden Administration has announced its intent to incentivize the installation of 30 GW of offshore wind turbine generating capacity off the East and Gulf coasts of the US. This raises the question of the ability of these offshore wind turbines to withstand the impact of Category 3-5, no less Category 6, hurricanes with sustained wind speeds of up to 200 miles per hour.

There have also been suggestions that tornadoes of greater than F5 strength might be in our climate change future. However, the Fujita scale already extends to F12, though it is generally accepted that virtually nothing is left standing in the path of an F5 tornado with wind speeds of 260 – 318 miles per hour. A combination of increased generation infrastructure occupied land area and increased tornado frequency and intensity would likely increase the frequency and extent of damage to renewable generation infrastructure.


Tags: Climate Skeptics, Climate Alarmists, Power Grid

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


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


Simple Definition of fact

: something that truly exists or happens
: something that has actual existence
: a true piece of information

Simple Definition of fancy

: to believe mistakenly or without evidence
: to believe without being certain

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary


I have described climate science as the science of data that aren’t and models that don’t. Climate science is a science of few “facts” and many “fancies”. Much climate “data”, specifically regarding global average temperature anomalies, is not really data because the actual temperature readings have been “adjusted”, for a variety of reasons, and therefore are not “something that truly exists”. Rather, they are estimates of what might have truly existed if the data had been collected timely from properly selected, calibrated, sited, installed and maintained instruments.

It is certainly a “fact” that the globe has warmed since the trough of the Little Ice Age. However, the degree of warming which has occurred is an estimate, because of the non-uniformity of instrument coverage, the “adjustments” made to the instrument readings and changes which have occurred in the immediate surroundings of the instrument locations. Therefore, the reported temperature anomalies are “fancies”, especially considering the precision with which the anomalies are reported.

It is certainly a “fact” that sea level has risen, at a relatively continuous rate since the trough of the Little Ice Age. However, the rate of sea level rise reported from satellite observations is a “fancy” because the measurements have been taken by a series of different satellites using different instruments. The measurements taken by these different satellite instruments do not agree with each other, nor do they agree with the measurements taken by the tide gauges which produced the much longer historical record. The consensed climate science community might believe that the satellite measurements, or at least one set of the satellite measurements, are accurate but they cannot be certain because of the discrepancies.

The outputs of the climate science models are “fancies”, fundamentally because there are multiple models which produce differing results. It is not certain whether any of the model outputs is “a true piece of information”. It is a “fact” that the model outputs have not accurately projected the temperature anomaly estimates developed from the near-surface temperature measurements or from the satellite observations.

The sensitivity of the climate to the addition of ‘greenhouse” gases to the atmosphere is a “fancy”, in that it is expressed as a range of values, which is a clear illustration of uncertainty; and, because there is uncertainty regarding whether the actual sensitivity value lies within the range of values used. Feedback within the atmosphere are also “fancies”, since it is uncertain whether feedback is positive or negative, no less its actual magnitude.
Finally, observations of weather events such as hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and droughts are facts. However, attribution of some aspect of the characteristics of these weather events, using unverified and unvalidated models, are “fancies”. There is no clear evidence of a climate change contribution to the characteristics of the weather events, their frequency or their duration.

It has become common to portray climate change “fancies” as “facts”, even in the absence of evidence and certainty. This constitutes an excess of hubris and an absence of humility.


Tags: Climate Change Debate, Climate Science
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