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PostPosted: Aug 22, 2014 11:09 pm 
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Don't we need to look beyond the immediate market forces?

It's the externalized costs that are making the current energy model uneconomical and unsustainable even in the near term, how do you even calculate the coming loss of very valuable coastal regions that has already begun. Two of the largest ice sheets are losing a combined 500 Km^3 a year of ice, nuclear power is about the the only rational alternative to the current system.

And once we transition to nuclear power and develop what are basically unlimited supplies of fuel the whole system will shift to an entirely new model. Anything now is just speculation, all that can really be said is that once nuclear power as the main source of energy is implemented it will almost completely rewrite not just the grid and the market but also society. I think a lot of how we currently identify ourselves as societies and individuals has a great deal to do with our consumption and that includes energy. It's not just a market shift that's coming, it's also going to be a fundamental societal shift, and for the better in my opinion.


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PostPosted: Aug 23, 2014 4:42 am 
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The sea level rise issue is most easily dealt with by hiring as many dutch engineers as you can find and building an enormous complex of sea dykes (to the point of simply sealing both ends of the Irish Sea).
We are already committed to several metres of rise.


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PostPosted: Aug 23, 2014 10:10 am 
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E Ireland wrote:
The sea level rise issue is most easily dealt with by hiring as many dutch engineers as you can find and building an enormous complex of sea dykes (to the point of simply sealing both ends of the Irish Sea).
We are already committed to several metres of rise.


The breakdown of the ice sheets is a highly dynamic process that can't be easily quantified, and it's just one of a host of issues that come from fossil fuel use. The individual end user cost is just a small piece of the puzzle, building and utilizing large scale nuclear power production and distribution has benefits that go far beyond singer user utility.


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PostPosted: Aug 23, 2014 12:11 pm 
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To summarise, a consumer tariff structure based on coincident peak demand could work, but probably does need some small energy price to discourage waste, but this only works so long as all generators have high fixed costs and low variable costs. It would become quite complicated or uneconomic if some generators still had significant variable costs such as open cycle GT peaking plant. Under those conditions they would be a quite a disadvantage.

I remember seeing before feedback from people with a better understanding of economics than I, that the most efficient system is always one that commoditizes the product into a per unit (kWh, L, kg, etc) product bought and sold in an open market. I was hoping draw out some of that thinking on this thread, but we haven't seen that point made yet. However that plays out I think that for a universally and continuously required commodity like electricity it is quite feasible and perhaps desirable to have a tariff structure based on coincident peak demand, with a small energy price attached.

It's a very interesting thought.


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PostPosted: Aug 23, 2014 12:16 pm 
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I have crunched some numbers that show that using a range of reactor prices and using British Government bonds for long term financing you can get capacity at £250/kW for the first kilowatt and then £165/kW thereafter.

That is roughly $400/kW-yr and $265/kW-yr thereafter.

I assume that you can charge capacity overruns at some huge rate (50 cents/kWh or something) using energy from underruns and OCGTs to provide it.

Waste is irrelevant (the consumer paid for it and if he wants to waste it he can) - and you must remember that electricity is not like other commodities in that distribution is a rather large fraction of the cost of providing it. It can also not be easily and inexpensively stored.


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PostPosted: Aug 23, 2014 12:29 pm 
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Good suggestion.

Something like that may work quite well, The OCGT owners get paid a reserve fee to hold those assets available as reserve capacity for the system, as they are cheap in $/kWe terms. If they are called on to run, they get paid for the fuel that they burn and other short run marginal costs. Then on the other side, those consumers that ran over their capacity limit either pay $0.5/kWh or $1/kWh for those peak kWh that caused the problem.


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PostPosted: Aug 23, 2014 12:39 pm 
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Productive 'dump loads' that use solar installations to run immersion heaters (at least decent ones) tend to use proportional control to finely control the power flowing to the dump load.
They normally hold the total demand ~50W below the solar production to prevent meters from registering spurious imports.

I assume our systems would do the same so there will be significant net underruns which would help offset the overruns.
But OCGTs would provide such power most of the time.
Hopefully overrun charges would cover the cost of the overruns and it wouldn't affect normal users.

Might have to significantly re-engineer the grid with increased use of split phase supplies (in Europe where they are very uncommon) to reduce resistive losses.


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PostPosted: Aug 23, 2014 1:18 pm 
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If resistance hot water heating is used and is finely and intelligently controlled (relatively easy to do) it can provide very significant peak shaving/profile shaping. I imagine that would be executed at the consumer level, but may also have a bidirectional communication with a centralised real-time power system operations centre.


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PostPosted: Aug 23, 2014 3:26 pm 
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My desire is to eliminate the 'peak' entirely by just holding people to a kilowatt budget.

How they use it will be up to them - but I imagine they will chose to use it.
Be it electric car charging or just relaxing outside with electric patio heaters.

It prevents having a centralised computer in charge of the operation of the consumer's hardware.
It is also simple to understand.


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PostPosted: Aug 24, 2014 6:04 am 
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I would assume a customer would have 'loads of last resort' - most likely an immersion heater and then a stack of storage heaters.

The immersion heater would have priority because the storage heaters would likely have unlimited juice requirements!
Proportional controllers (likely using a phase triggered PWM topology) would be deployed on the immersion heater and then in each individual storage heater.
Although having controllers in the heaters is likely to be significantly more expensive it means that the heat dispersal fan can be powered by the same circuit as the heater itself - reducing it to three power conductors (230-0-230), an earth line and a two wire CAN bus.

The same CAN bus and a 30A split phase circuit can provide all the storage heat in the house and would likely be wired into a 'ring' - although ring mains are uniquely British practice and you might have alternative arrangements on the continent/in America.
(30 x 460V is 13.8kW which should be enough).
The CAN bus could be used to vary each heaters power demand individually and report temperatures of the storage blocks back to the grid controller, keeping the demand at the desired value and allowing prioritisation of the heat based on temperature of the blocks.


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PostPosted: Aug 24, 2014 8:10 am 
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I think you would also want "dump loads" at the powerplant. Immersion electrical heaters in the condensate storage tank perhaps?


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PostPosted: Aug 24, 2014 12:09 pm 
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I'm not comfortable with the idea of 'dump loads' and I don't think that we need them, but things like storage heaters that heat up a pile of bricks during off peak periods to then use during the rest of the day. Similarly if using electric hot water heating have a large well insulated tank and allow its temperature to range from 50C to 98C at the cylinder and use that range to charge it during periods of low demand.

Coordinating the charging of EV's or even using your EV to minimise your coincident peak demand via a back feed, are all productive techniques to shape your load profile while not wasting any energy. That's the model I would promote.

One thing that you would get with a coincident peak charging model is an explosion in this load shifting technology, because it in effect it allows you to have almost free energy if you can successfully move that demand around at will with the help of an intelligent home energy management system.

One other thought, if there is a genuine grid level excess of capacity and energy at specific times, some of that energy could be used to charge up your MS storage tank. You only get a portion of that energy back as electricity, some number between 50 and 30%, but under some circumstances it may well be worth doing. So the solar plants could help charge up the MS tank at a MSR NPP, wouldn't that be nice :)


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PostPosted: Aug 24, 2014 2:54 pm 
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This coincidence charging model seems needlessly complex. A flat subscription is simpler in my opinion. A dump load might be necessary in a massive underrun situation. I am not sure we should moralise about wasted energy - if a customer doesn't want to use his allotment it is no business of ours and it is likely burning of excess energy is cheaper than throttling back.


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PostPosted: Aug 25, 2014 1:24 pm 
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E Ireland wrote:
This coincidence charging model seems needlessly complex. A flat subscription is simpler in my opinion. A dump load might be necessary in a massive underrun situation. I am not sure we should moralise about wasted energy - if a customer doesn't want to use his allotment it is no business of ours and it is likely burning of excess energy is cheaper than throttling back.
It's not complex, it is being done today in many places for industrial and commercial customers, we'd just be extending that model into the domestic market and reducing energy charges to some small number close to $5/MWh. The real cost of the shift is going to time of use (ToU) metering at the domestic level as old meters are being replaced, it is not a large cost, especially if done en-mass as the new domestic metering standard.

The cost of switching industrial and commercial consumers to this model is almost nil as most are paying the distribution network charges on this basis already. So for them it is a change in billing administration and not a lot else.

There is also an economic imperative to not waste energy, if there is someone who can apply that energy usefully they should be given the opportunity to do so. If we waste off-peak energy because it is cheap they would be deprived of that opportunity to do something useful.


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PostPosted: Aug 25, 2014 1:47 pm 
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Lindsay wrote:
It's not complex, it is being done today in many places for industrial and commercial customers, we'd just be extending that model into the domestic market and reducing energy charges to some small number close to $5/MWh.

It is complex compared to current tarrifs and certainly compared to my proposed system and would likely be seen to be an attempt to confuse customers so that you could rinse them - domestic customers do not have hordes of people who's job it is to optimise billing and contest bills they believe to be unreasonable.
Lindsay wrote:
The real cost of the shift is going to time of use (ToU) metering at the domestic level as old meters are being replaced, it is not a large cost, especially if done en-mass as the new domestic metering standard.

The risk of time-of-use charging is that it potentially catches people out when the time of use happens to be the time they happen to be boiling the kettle or cooking a cooked breakfast or some-such - when their load will be far smaller if the measurement happened to have taken place 90 seconds later.
Lindsay wrote:
There is also an economic imperative to not waste energy, if there is someone who can apply that energy usefully they should be given the opportunity to do so. If we waste off-peak energy because it is cheap they would be deprived of that opportunity to do something useful.

There is nothing to stop customers selling their excess energy to a third party if they wish to and are willing to pay the distribution charges (that would be induced because you would need additional capacity to allow the electricity to be routed to a different location at those times) - just that I expect it would be nowhere near worth it.

A flat tariff allows optimised distribution since you don't have to handle load centres shifting all over the place - and we appear to be chasing marginal gains that will likely be lost in the noise of all the various small inefficiencies inherent in consumer purchasing.
Meanwhile the social benefits of a simple transparent scheme that for most people would simply be a fixed direct debit are enormous.
Energy is so cheap as to be almost worthless.
Power is expensive.

When you have $265/kW marginal cost that takes you to 3 cents/kWh for all electricity - including 'high peak' - it hard to think that huge benefits could be realised at ~1 cent off peak only but which will not be easily accessible at that payment 24/7.
Larger industrial users tapping at ~11kV and ~33kV will have even lower because they miss most distribution costs.

And this way we avoid the non-negligible costs required to operate a wholesale energy market and losses to speculator abuse.
At this point anything other than a flat power charge seems to be having a market for the sake of having a market.


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