Energy planning magic or facts

Discussion of coal, oil, gas, solar, wind, ethanol, energy policy, and global warming.
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Location: Rhinebeck, NY

Energy planning magic or facts

Post by edpell » Jun 05, 2014 6:48 pm

Here in New York State we are "Reforming the Energy Vision". We have several billion dollar state programs to install solar and heat pumps. We have a state energy plan that says natural gas will just grow and grow in annual production every year out the the planning horizon 2030.

No one is able to talk about the need for storage and transmission lines if one really tried to go solar. No one takes these unspeakable costs into account. It is not clear who is outright lying and who is ignorant. The net effect is a debate/discussion that is not based on any facts or figures. Leaving all to manipulation by Manhattan investment banks like The Blackstone Group. There is an impression that many parties are into market manipulation for profit. The supposed neutral party NYISO (New York Independent System Operators) is a monopoly trust of regulated monopolies staff by executive from the monopolies. It is not the fox guarding the hen house, it is the fox designing the hen house.

I see that the "modernization of the grid" is a theme in any states and in many countries in Europe. Personally the current system seems to be working fine. With electric consumption down due to efficiency and economic contraction and people moving to warmer climate areas there is no need for more electric in New York State.

Of course no one ever mentions nuclear in New York State.

signed, disgusted by the fools parade

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Re: Energy planning magic or facts

Post by rgvandewalker » Dec 24, 2014 12:58 pm

Coal power is much more prevalent back east than it is here. Perhaps you are living in a coal-powered paradise, and ignoring the pollution from it?

About 10% of a grid's power can be saved by improved management. The typical model now is to install smart meters at the end of feeders, and phase measurement units in substations. Then a computerized monitoring system pushes generator governors, switches capacitance and transformer secondaries to manage volts and volt-amp-reactive (i.e. keep voltage just at minimums, and retime voltage so the voltage is in phase with the current, delivering more usable energy).

About another 10% of peak power can be saved with automatic load-shedding at the peak. E.g. the classic is to have air-conditioners that can change their duty cycle, or even better, heaters that can heat water or boxes of rock with off-peak power. This has cost savings out of proportion to the quantity of power, because dispatchable power is sometimes much more expensive than baseload power.

Managing distributed generation is another issue. Where I live, (S. California) power is pricey because most coal plants are illegal or retired and the natural gas pipeline to our region has limited capacity. The big nuclear plant, San Onofre, just closed. We import most of our power over expensive long-distance power lines from hydro plants in the northwest and a big nuclear plant in Arizona.

So all the public buildings (even many schools) have parking lots shaded by PV panels. Any industry that burns a lot of fuel (e.g. a cement plant, or a coking oven) should consider a cogeneration plant. Also, our sewage plant and some land-fills have have digesters that produce methane, and generators that run from it. A lot of computer server installations now have commercial fuel cells to power the servers at peak, when the cost of electricity crosses the cost of natural gas. There's a strong move to heat buildings with cogeneration, and even some tech. that uses absorptive coolers with cogeneration for air-conditioning, rather than classic electric heat pumps.

A surprising amount of power can be saved, reused or cogenerated if that's a goal. However, a lot of these schemes are more expensive than a big, simple nuclear plant.

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Location: Vitoria-ES-Brazil

Re: Energy planning magic or facts

Post by macpacheco » Dec 24, 2014 1:24 pm

Actually, big hydro is the only electricity source that is economical to transmit a thousand miles away. It is dirt cheap, as a hydro dam lasts 100 years easily, with the lowest O&M costs of any electricity source. Up front costs are significant per GW installed, but it pays itself over 20-30 years due to the very low O&M costs.
Any hydro dam that has spare capacity is a big economical and environmental sin.
What you really need to find out is if you are importing 100% hydro electricity or a hydro+coal combo !
How old is the Hoover dam ? Brazil has a couple of dams that are just as old.
Perhaps in a decade or two wind will become as cheap as hydro, except it will always have much higher maintenance costs and I doubt a turbine will last 50 years in areas where the turbine is actually producing the hyped 35% productivity of off shore wind !
Looking for companies working to change the world.

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Re: Energy planning magic or facts

Post by jagdish » Dec 25, 2014 12:54 am

Only the river systems have been used for electric power so far. Most of hydro-power in nature is in the form of ocean currents.
Technology of propulsion of floating craft and submarines can be used in reverse for extraction of power from the ocean currents. The craft can be anchored and oversize propellers could run the shafts which can run the electric generators. Technology of undersea cables is also existing.
Hydro-power from rivers forms bulk of the renewable energy now. Run of the current systems could multiply it.

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Re: Energy planning magic or facts

Post by gar37bic » Jun 18, 2015 12:44 pm

If I ran an electric utility today, in the vein of long term planning I would be seriously pondering how to change the basic paradigm of the company from an electricity provider to an electricity distributor. With this shift, the company could make plans and technological changes to allow us to welcome (with appropriate pricing etc., which is tied up with state politics for good and/or ill) power provided by anyone connected to the grid. I would seriously consider selling off all of the company's generation capacity and investing in distribution capacity.

The present rules in many states both encourage installation of new power sources like solar, and by forcing them to pay too much they tend to reduce the utilities' interest in those sources, as it tends to make them uneconomic for the utilities. But at the same time they are pushing installation volumes up and prices down to where that may change.

Then the company can become more like an arbitrager of power - buying power where it's cheaper at the moment and delivering it where it's more expensive. The generation plants then, on their own, would have to find a way to compete or shut down.

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