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PostPosted: Nov 20, 2011 4:08 pm 
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Cyril R wrote:
Varies only slowly over a large area??!! Take a look at the graphs here:

http://uvdiv.blogspot.com/2010/03/uptim ... me_07.html

All of Germany's wind turbines output - a huge variation!

And here we have a much more windy country, Ireland:

http://www.inference.phy.cam.ac.uk/with ... ure213.png

Wind power is routinely out for several days. The idea of powering countries with such unreliable power is insane. If you happen to have a primarily hydro grid then great, you can have more wind. This is an exception, not the rule. We need solutions for the world's energy needs.


I agree a Thorium powered network is going to be cheaper, and you without unlimited storage you can't run 100% on renewables. But with a mix of renewables and good (yes, expensive) interconnections, you can go a lot further than present.

For starters, the graphs above are both over a small geographic area (NW Germany and West Ireland), but these variations could be filled in with fuel cells. If the manufacturers of these can get the price down they'll be widespread enough.

Solar is going to create this issue anyway because from about 2014 it will be cheaper than retail electricity in central Europe (it is about now in Southern Europe). That the number of installations will continue to grow with or without feed in tariffs. I'm sure the same will happen in Southern USA a few years later (lower retail prices), so the same issue will arise - even without a feed in tariff.

Quite a few people in Germany already change their consumption patterns - e.g running dishwashers, and in future charging cars, when the sun shines. With a deep ground heat pump I suppose you could heat the soil in preparation for winter.


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PostPosted: Nov 20, 2011 4:27 pm 
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dezakin wrote:
alexterrell wrote:
3. I'm less worried about wind because it tends to be strongest in winter and over a large area vary only slowly (24 hours or so).


It tends to be negative load. Repeat that and wrap your brain around it. I'd hazard that negative load can be beneficial at up to 15% of the fully dispatchable load of a grid, if the dispatchable load is of no extra cost and transmission infrastructure is free. Beyond that you get situations like Denmark, where you end up dumping load at zero value across the border for no gain. It varies seasonally and the swings are big, so your dispatchable load better be able to supply the whole grid for months at a time. Denmark is as ideal a situation as you could hope for for wind and its pretty awful above 20% of the countries power supply.


Is HVDC negative load? - because where most of the wind power will come in.

Quote:

Solar is a nonstarter given its cost is twice that of nuclear on a per MW/hr basis even before accounting for system costs. I'm sure someday it will be a contender, like in several hundred years when we do a huge amount of orbital industry because we're running out of radiative capacity of planet earth. But civilization isn't using 10^17 watts yet and solar isn't cheap enough to feed it, nor will it be for the half century or more.

Though in the south of France, solar power is cheaper for the consumer (based on a German installation quote, assuming a south facing roof), than retail electricity, which is mainly nuclear. That makes it a contender now.

Admittedly the nuclear benefit tends to go to commercial buyers so consumers have to pay more, but your future statement is way off the mark.

As for space, solar power is superior to nuclear for all applications out to about Jupiter orbit, even before the political issues of launching nuclear reactors is addressed.

[qoute]
I think they're neat technologies, but I will repeat for emphasis: They are inherently incredibly dangerous because of their political effect. They masquerade as an alternative for nuclear baseload, and then when they fail to deliver, baseload is delivered by fossil fuels. Any policy that promotes these, while potentially benign or at least minimally harmful in terms of health of power supply is dangerously compromised in the political effect that it delivers. Why do you suppose Germany has so much higher per capita CO2 emissions than France, and will likely climb higher still.

France is in danger as well...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-15771915

What do you suppose those reactors will be replaced with? I'll wager that the bulk of it rhymes with droll.[/quote]

The French will replace their reactors with other reactors, assuming Arreva can sort out the issues with the EPWR.

Germany underwent a knee jerk reaction and I've said before, you can't rely on renewables 100% without massive storage costs. You do need about 50% (+/- 20%) baseload which ought to be nuclear, but in Germany's instance will be coal or gas. (Unless Desertec works out)


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PostPosted: Nov 20, 2011 11:03 pm 
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Quote:
Is HVDC negative load? - because where most of the wind power will come in.

HVDC is transmission infrastructure, not power production. Further, its not free or even cheap.

Quote:
Though in the south of France, solar power is cheaper for the consumer (based on a German installation quote, assuming a south facing roof), than retail electricity, which is mainly nuclear. That makes it a contender now.


Sorry, what? Some German installation is claiming that they can provide cost cheaper than the grid for a consumer with solar power with grid interconnects and subsidies, with probably no discounting at all is supposed to demonstrate solar as a responsible competitive power supply? Levelized cost comparisons for grid production places the cheapest solar over twice the price per MW/hr as advanced LWRs. Just the cost of individual inverters alone for consumers start to swamp the cost even if the panels were free.

Quote:
Admittedly the nuclear benefit tends to go to commercial buyers so consumers have to pay more, but your future statement is way off the mark.


I don't think so. Basic maintenance issues with such diffuse power supplies will drive costs high even if the panels were free. As is, I don't see negative load solar dropping in price enough to ever compete with baseload nuclear or fully dispatchable hydro this side of 50 years. Sure, you'll have some municipalities or even national governments that fund subsidy programs that waste lots of dollars on feel good projects while the heavy lifting gets done by coal; Because these 'alternative, green' power supplies will be trumpeted as a replacement for nuclear.


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PostPosted: Nov 21, 2011 4:42 am 
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Dezakin - to clarify: The cost of a electricity from a new roof top solar cell installation in Southern Germany is similar to the retail price of electricity
(See figures earlier in thread) This is without subsidy. (though assumes the electricity is used in the home).

German electricity is fairly expensive. But move to the South of France with 50% more sun, and yes, average cost of solar electricity will be comparable to French retail prices. I'm sure that LWRs can produce large scale electricity more cheaply, but I won't get permission to install one.

So from about now, even with no subsidies and no attractive export tarrifs, a supermarket / office block / data centre in Southern Europe would benefit from putting solar cells on its roof where max-output = min-requirement. Homes rely a bit more on export as min-requirement can be very low during the day.

The question on HVDC is this: Lets assume a 16GW capacity wind farm is at the other end of an HVDC line (probably with some Norwegian pumped storage and Icelandic geothermal behind that - and probably several HVDC lines). The conversion of HVDC to AC where it comes on shore is controlled by digital electronics, not analogue power systems. The AC grid just sees the HVDC input. Is that negative load?


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PostPosted: Nov 21, 2011 4:51 am 
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Quote:
Quite a few people in Germany already change their consumption patterns - e.g running dishwashers, and in future charging cars, when the sun shines.


German PV gets 10% capacity factor. It is 'there' 10% of the time, and not there 90% of the time.

How is Germany's industry - a far bigger energy user than households - going to run their factories on energy that is not there 90% of the time?

A factory that runs at 10% capacity factor will quickly shut down for economic reasons. This is not acceptable so what will happen is Germany's industry will run on fossil 90% of the time and then use 10% solar to pretend to be green.

I don't see any reason to cheer for German PV. Consumers doing their laundry when the sun shines is completely unimportant and dangerously hides the reality of solar versus fossil power.


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PostPosted: Nov 21, 2011 5:19 am 
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Fair points Cyril - though most industry runs during the day so you could probably supply it 50% with solar in the summer and 5% in the winter - would do better in southern Italy or California where I also have to run air con in the summer. (Or in India where in the summer it's probably more reliable than the grid connection).

I agree there are issues but these are not intractable - just require an appropriate mix of creativity and money. These two commodities are somewhat interchangeable which is why we have inventors.

I've just plugged in the quote I got for a solar installation, and the 2.98% financing option. If I extended the finance out 40 years (typical life of a roof) and assume 1% degradation per year of cells, and assume the components last with no maintenance, and assume an optimum roof (I don't quite have that), then the electricity costs 10.9 cents / KWhr.

Lots of optimistic assumptions, though the official KWhr/KW figures are pessimistic. And yes, this is not base load and it's not dispatchable (without a big battery). But it's low enough, and the price of solar is still falling fast enough to give pause for thought.


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PostPosted: Nov 21, 2011 7:18 am 
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Quote:
I agree there are issues but these are not intractable - just require an appropriate mix of creativity and money.


Yes, con artists are very creative and love money too.

Personally I have a hamster based energy generator design and am working on powering cars with Chanel # 5, I agree there are some issues with these ideas but these are not intractable. I am very creative, all I need from you is your money.


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PostPosted: Nov 21, 2011 9:01 am 
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Cyril R wrote:
Quote:
I agree there are issues but these are not intractable - just require an appropriate mix of creativity and money.


Yes, con artists are very creative and love money too.

Personally I have a hamster based energy generator design and am working on powering cars with Chanel # 5, I agree there are some issues with these ideas but these are not intractable. I am very creative, all I need from you is your money.


LOL. I think you missed a good opportunity to refrain from posting for a while.


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PostPosted: Nov 21, 2011 11:23 am 
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alexterrell wrote:
Cyril R wrote:
Quote:
I agree there are issues but these are not intractable - just require an appropriate mix of creativity and money.


Yes, con artists are very creative and love money too.

Personally I have a hamster based energy generator design and am working on powering cars with Chanel # 5, I agree there are some issues with these ideas but these are not intractable. I am very creative, all I need from you is your money.


LOL. I think you missed a good opportunity to refrain from posting for a while.


Fair enough. Knowing myself, I suspect I will continue to miss such serene opportunities as long as people keep preferring wishful thinking over running numbers.


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PostPosted: Nov 21, 2011 5:48 pm 
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alexterrell wrote:
Dezakin - to clarify: The cost of a electricity from a new roof top solar cell installation in Southern Germany is similar to the retail price of electricity
(See figures earlier in thread) This is without subsidy. (though assumes the electricity is used in the home).

German electricity is fairly expensive. But move to the South of France with 50% more sun, and yes, average cost of solar electricity will be comparable to French retail prices.

I don't believe this and neither should you.

Quote:
So from about now, even with no subsidies and no attractive export tarrifs, a supermarket / office block / data centre in Southern Europe would benefit from putting solar cells on its roof where max-output = min-requirement. Homes rely a bit more on export as min-requirement can be very low during the day.

Or they could actually run the numbers and invest in something that is more likely to show a return, which they already do; Which is why you see relatively few rooftop solar installations absent a serious subsidy regime. Discounting is often ignored in the sales brochures, as is opportunity cost. A office block would be better off replacing compressor air conditioning with ice storage air conditioning for higher rates of return than a few KW of solar panels.

Quote:
The question on HVDC is this: Lets assume a 16GW capacity wind farm is at the other end of an HVDC line (probably with some Norwegian pumped storage and Icelandic geothermal behind that - and probably several HVDC lines). The conversion of HVDC to AC where it comes on shore is controlled by digital electronics, not analogue power systems. The AC grid just sees the HVDC input. Is that negative load?

Negative load just means intermittent power. It behaves like load on the electric grid that goes the other way, and I apologize for failing to clarify. Both solar and wind qualify as negative load, and require much more infrastructure for managing power than ideally dispatchable sources like hydro or baseload sources like nuclear.


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PostPosted: Nov 22, 2011 8:11 pm 
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dezakin wrote:
alexterrell wrote:
Dezakin - to clarify: The cost of a electricity from a new roof top solar cell installation in Southern Germany is similar to the retail price of electricity
(See figures earlier in thread) This is without subsidy. (though assumes the electricity is used in the home).

German electricity is fairly expensive. But move to the South of France with 50% more sun, and yes, average cost of solar electricity will be comparable to French retail prices.

I don't believe this and neither should you.


What should I not believe?
- The quote that I've received - will the contractor add more cost?
- The Excel spreadsheet
- The standard figures on KWhrs/KW - which in the UK are highly conservative

Quote:
Quote:
So from about now, even with no subsidies and no attractive export tarrifs, a supermarket / office block / data centre in Southern Europe would benefit from putting solar cells on its roof where max-output = min-requirement. Homes rely a bit more on export as min-requirement can be very low during the day.

Or they could actually run the numbers and invest in something that is more likely to show a return, which they already do; Which is why you see relatively few rooftop solar installations absent a serious subsidy regime. Discounting is often ignored in the sales brochures, as is opportunity cost. A office block would be better off replacing compressor air conditioning with ice storage air conditioning for higher rates of return than a few KW of solar panels.

These might make sensible investment choices, but they can also save money with solar installations, but this is a new phenomenon - the price of solar has halved in the last two years, which is why you see relatively few installations.

In other words, the current subsidy driven solar mania in Germany could soon spread to non subsidy countries with good sun and expensive electricity - e.g. Italy. The USA has relatively cheap electricity so is going to need a further halving in the price of solar.

I'm not saying whether this is good or bad - but it will pose interesting challenges for networks.

Quote:
Quote:
The question on HVDC is this: Lets assume a 16GW capacity wind farm is at the other end of an HVDC line (probably with some Norwegian pumped storage and Icelandic geothermal behind that - and probably several HVDC lines). The conversion of HVDC to AC where it comes on shore is controlled by digital electronics, not analogue power systems. The AC grid just sees the HVDC input. Is that negative load?

Negative load just means intermittent power. It behaves like load on the electric grid that goes the other way, and I apologize for failing to clarify.


It's only "load" then in the sense that it's not controllable? Which is like a thermal power plant running at 100%. Ask for more, and you don't get it. In that sense there is little difference between a coal plant and a wind farm, if they're both at the end of a HVDC cable.

The "negative load" is only an issue (at low penetration) if variability is correlated with demand changes. Hence the Royal Society estimates that up to 20% penetration of wind does not require extensive additional capacity.

Solar is more of an issue in Northern Europe because output is negatively correlated with demand, whereas wind is positively correlated with demand. Hence without breakthroughs or costly investments in storage (or fuel cells, or transmission), solar is only really useful where air-con is the main demand driver.

Quote:
Both solar and wind qualify as negative load, and require much more infrastructure for managing power than ideally dispatchable sources like hydro or baseload sources like nuclear.


Agree there.


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PostPosted: Nov 22, 2011 9:16 pm 
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alexterrell wrote:

It's only "load" then in the sense that it's not controllable? Which is like a thermal power plant running at 100%. Ask for more, and you don't get it. In that sense there is little difference between a coal plant and a wind farm, if they're both at the end of a HVDC cable.

No it is quite different from a coal plant. The coal plant provides a steady power level which can be reliably used to meet the minimum loads. The demand variation remains and typically requires more expensive power to satisfy (unless you happen to have a large amount of hydro power available). Wind power adds to the demand variation and is actually even more variable than the demand variation. This makes increasingly painful to add wind power.

Adding wind that can be balanced with hydro power in a particular grid is probably a decent idea. Once you have used up the very best wind sites and matched the hydro power the cost of adding more wind power increases as the sites are less ideal and the cost of balancing the wind power increases as it has to be balanced with peaking natural gas power plants.

In the end though, wind is a 10-20% solution. I think we should focus on the solution for 80%. Once we have that in hand we can as again about what is the best way forward for the last 20%. (Personally, I suspect it is a combination of nuclear run less than 100% for daily variation and hot salt storage for the peak couple of hours).


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PostPosted: Nov 23, 2011 5:06 pm 
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alexterrell wrote:
Quote:
Quote:
So from about now, even with no subsidies and no attractive export tarrifs, a supermarket / office block / data centre in Southern Europe would benefit from putting solar cells on its roof where max-output = min-requirement. Homes rely a bit more on export as min-requirement can be very low during the day.

Or they could actually run the numbers and invest in something that is more likely to show a return, which they already do; Which is why you see relatively few rooftop solar installations absent a serious subsidy regime. Discounting is often ignored in the sales brochures, as is opportunity cost. A office block would be better off replacing compressor air conditioning with ice storage air conditioning for higher rates of return than a few KW of solar panels.

These might make sensible investment choices, but they can also save money with solar installations, but this is a new phenomenon - the price of solar has halved in the last two years, which is why you see relatively few installations.

In other words, the current subsidy driven solar mania in Germany could soon spread to non subsidy countries with good sun and expensive electricity - e.g. Italy. The USA has relatively cheap electricity so is going to need a further halving in the price of solar.

Alright, you've convinced me; In some regions some solar installations might potentially be marginally less costly than retail price of electricity for certain loads. I'm skeptical of policies such as net metering and subsidies for these schemes however, because that I feel imposes larger cost burden on the grid for load management and can drive electricity prices up. In net metering schemes where these installations often have positive return for say houses rather than data centers or office buildings, the grid ends up subsidizing transmission infrastructure that is normally paid for in part by retail rates. I see that as less of a problem where an installation merely reduces the total load of the retail customer rather than forcing the grid to act as a purchaser rather than a provider.

However I'm also skeptical of the current pricing regime of solar power systems with respect to long term prices. Time will tell if this is a temporary price dip or if its a lasting trend that is competitive with other investment options for end customers.
Quote:
I'm not saying whether this is good or bad - but it will pose interesting challenges for networks.


Sure; I still feel that the largest threat from solar and wind is political. People confuse them with baseload, gut nuclear and then act surprised when CO2 emissions end up going up as coal plants are constructed to replace baseload.


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PostPosted: Nov 24, 2011 5:18 am 
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Lars wrote:
In the end though, wind is a 10-20% solution. I think we should focus on the solution for 80%. Once we have that in hand we can as again about what is the best way forward for the last 20%.


I think that's right, though you can probably go a bit higher with:
- smart grid demand management
- Widespread electric vehicle charging
- Electric house heating with heat storage
- Advanced warning of outages - many industrial users are on interruptible tariffs already.

Wind output is actually correlated with demand in the UK, as is solar in regions where air-con is the biggest load.

dezakin wrote:

However I'm also skeptical of the current pricing regime of solar power systems with respect to long term prices. Time will tell if this is a temporary price dip or if its a lasting trend that is competitive with other investment options for end customers.

There's a series on energy in Germany's Spektrum (using it to improve my German). It started this month on solar. (There's no issue planned on nuclear - which says something about the mindset in Germany). Certainly the scientists in the solar institutes expect costs to continue to fall. Whilst they are biased, they're perhaps the only one who really know.

But Germany is bravely/foolishly taking a gamble. In a few years they'll have 50GW of solar power capacity. To be effective, this requires a miracle breakthrough in electric storage. Breakthroughs cannot be predicted.

Lars wrote:
(Personally, I suspect it is a combination of nuclear run less than 100% for daily variation and hot salt storage for the peak couple of hours).


I suggested on a thread sometime back, that where you have a nuclear plant with an intermediate cooling loop (e.g. IFR), this could be used to heat an arbitrarily large container of salt. (Think 100m diameter, 50m high). For 3GW thermal in, you could take out 3GW electric out, but 1/3 of the time. That would make a highly responsive 3GW power supply.


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PostPosted: Nov 24, 2011 12:17 pm 
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In addition to storage there is another expense with using nuclear power peaking. Typically nuclear power plants will be located further away from load centers than natural gas power plants. The transmission line expenses are noticeable (but not killer). If we are using the nuclear power plant for peaking then the transmission lines need to be sized up to the peak power level and go underutilized the rest of the time.

A second phenomenon I would guess we will see is that a nuclear power plant builder may buy up a significant size of land and build out a short transmission line to it to create a heavy electricity users industrial park. I'm guessing for very large electricity users this could be cost effective and provide a secure electric power source. Things like aluminum manufacturing, and compute servers come to mind. I would also imagine that such companies could provide the financing for the power plant in return for long term secure supply.


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