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Can Renewable Portfolio Standards make RE Work?

Can Renewable Portfolio Standards make RE Work?

Guest post by Geo who is a geologist working in Alaska

People want energy to be cleaner (i.e. emit less carbon dioxide). One way to do this is to use regulations to force either greater efficiency, or a switch to cleaner fuels.

A good example would be Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards in the United States. They were first enacted by the United States Congress in 1975, after the 1973–74 Arab Oil Embargo, to improve the average fuel economy of cars and light trucks (trucks, vans and sport utility vehicles) produced for sale in the United States. The idea was that slowly, across the board, the mileage of all cars and trucks produced in the U.S. would gradually increase. Over time this would result in cleaner air, and reduced oil usage. And perhaps save consumers money…

And it more or less worked as advertised. Standards were raised, and efficiency increased, largely without additional cost. U.S. cars are twice as fuel-efficient today as they were 40 years ago, saving car owners millions of dollars, and reducing air pollution. Arguably a win-win.

Figure 1: EPA “Light-Duty Automotive Technology, Carbon Dioxide Emissions, and Fuel Economy Trends: 1975 through 2017,” EPA-420-S-18-001, January 2018.

A slight nuance was added in some markets. Certificates for high mileage vehicles could be traded, so that some manufacturers could continue producing low mileage vehicles. For example, under California’s Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Regulation and those of states that have adopted California’s standard, vehicle manufacturers are required to earn or purchase credits for compliance with their annual regulatory requirements. This means that a certain number of electric cars must be sold to balance any low mileage vehicles.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Open Energy 4: Renewable energy versus nuclear: dispelling the myths

Open Energy 4: Renewable energy versus nuclear: dispelling the myths

Don’t believe the spurious claims of nuclear shills constantly doing down renewables, writes Mark Diesendorf. Clean, safe renewable energy technologies have the potential to supply 100% of the world’s electricity needs – but the first hurdle is to refute the deliberately misleading myths designed to promote the politically powerful but ultimately doomed nuclear industry.

The strategies and tactics of RE deniers are very similar to those of climate science deniers.

To create uncertainty about the ability of RE to power an industrial society, they bombard decision-makers and the media with negative myths about RE and positive myths about nuclear energy, attempting to turn these myths into conventional wisdom.

The article Renewable energy versus nuclear: dispelling the myths was published in The Ecologist in April 2016. The Ecologist describes itself as “The Journal for the Post-Industrial Age” which leaves me a little confused. Diesendorf appears to be promoting 100% renewable energy as the best option for the future of industrial society but promotes this image in a journal that represents the collapse of industrial society as we know it.

Perhaps I have grown a little sensitive, but I truly resent the use of the term “denier” to describe scientific skepticism.  The connotations with Holocaust Deniers makes this vile language to use.

But a part of what Diesendorf says is true. The tactics deployed by renewable energy skeptics and climate change skeptics are very similar. The common name for these tactics is science.

Let us take a quick look at some of the Myths that Diesendorf wants to dispel. In the spirit of Open Energy threads I am going to resist excessive commentary myself but invite commenters to deconstruct what Diesendorf says. He lists 15 Myths in all, I have only reproduced 5 of those below. Please feel free to reproduce more in the comments.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Gyle Premier Battery – The Loch Ness Minnow of energy storage

The Gyle Premier Battery – The Loch Ness Minnow of energy storage

The Gyle Premier Inn in Edinburgh has just installed a 100kW Li-ion storage battery, enough to power about 70 hair dryers. Rarely in the history of renewable energy has a battery so tiny attracted the attention of so many. Here, based on limited information, I make an attempt to scope out the specifications of this battery and how it might assist in cutting the hotel’s costs, if at all, and whether it makes any difference if it does.

Everything we know about the E.On Li-ion battery is contained in these excerpts from the 7 Jan, 2019,  which was reported by numerous other web sites:

Whitbread-owned Premier Inn is trialling a new 100kW lithium ion battery at the 200-room site in Edinburgh. The battery is 3m3 in size and weighs approximately five tonnes. It has capacity to run the Gyle hotel – including powering meals cooked at its Thyme bar and grill – for up to three hours. The battery takes two hours to fully charge and will be used for at least 2-3 hours per day on-site. The battery allows the Premier Inn to avoid increased peak-time energy costs and generate revenue by offering energy support services to the National Grid. The installation is expected to save the hotel £20,000 per year.

In summary:

  • Power output 100kW
  • Charge time 2 hours
  • Discharge time up to 3 hours
  • Full charge-discharge at least once/day
  • Size 3 cubic meters
  • Weight Approx. 5 tonnes

I looked for E.On battery specifications on the web but couldn’t find any. It is in fact now virtually impossible to obtain battery specifications from UK web sites without requesting a quote whether you want one or not.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

El Hierro fourth quarter 2018 performance update

El Hierro fourth quarter 2018 performance update

In 4Q 2018 Gorona del Viento (GdV) supplied only 27.7 % of El Hierro’s electricity and 6.4% of its total energy consumption, down by a factor of almost three from the 74.2% and 17.1% recorded in 3Q 2018. Since project startup in June 2015 GdV has supplied 45.2.% of El Hierro’s electricity and 10.4% of its energy. During 2018 it supplied 56.6% of El Hierro’s electricity and 13.0% of its energy, up from 46.3% and 10.6% in 2017. Whether this is a result of improved practices or stronger winds in 2018 is unclear at this time. There is an ongoing labor dispute at the Llanos Blancos diesel plant, where workers are demanding more money because their work load has quadrupled since GdV came on line.

Performance since project start-up

Figure 1 shows daily mean percent renewables generation since full operations began on June 27, 2015. The data are from Red Eléctrica de España (REE):

Figure 1: Daily average percentages of diesel & renewables (wind plus hydro) sent to the El Hierro grid since startup. The black lozenges show monthly means.

The Table below updates the monthly grid statistics since project startup on June 27, 2015 through December 31, 2018:

Fourth Quarter 2018 performance

Figure 2 plots the REE 10-minute generation data for October, November and December 2018:

Figure 2: Total generation by source, 4Q 2018, ten-minute REE data

During 4Q 2018 the 11.5 MW wind farm generated a total of 4,053 MWh, representing a capacity factor of 16.0%. But because of inadequate storage coupled with the tendency of the wind to blow in gusts only 64% (2,597 MWh) of this generation was delivered to the grid. The remainder was consumed in uphill pumping. Figure 3 shows total wind generation (wind to grid plus wind to pumping) during the quarter. There is no evidence for any significant curtailment of turbine output. The bimodal distribution of wind generation (either “on” or “off”) discussed in the previous report is again evident.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The end of the Little Ice Age

The end of the Little Ice Age

The Little Ice Age (LIA) was a recent and significant climate perturbation that may still be affecting the Earth’s climate, but nobody knows what caused it. In this post I look into the question of why it ended when it did, concentrating on the European Alps, without greatly advancing the state of knowledge. I find that the LIA didn’t end because of increasing temperatures, decreasing precipitation or fewer volcanic eruptions. One possible contributor is a trend reversal in the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation; another is an increase in solar radiation, but in neither case is the evidence compelling. There is evidence to suggest that the ongoing phase of glacier retreat and sea level rise is largely a result of a “natural recovery” from the LIA, but no causative mechanism for this has been identified either.

The Little Ice Age (LIA) was a period of lower global temperatures defined by temperature reconstructions based mostly on tree ring proxies. Figure 1 shows the results of fifteen such reconstructions for the Northern Hemisphere with three instrumental records added after 1900 (data from NOAA/NCDC). The period of lower temperatures between about 1450 and 1900 roughly defines the LIA, but the high level of scatter (cunningly muted by plotting the more erratic reconstructions in lighter shades) makes it impossible to pick exact start and stop dates:

Figure 1: Northern Hemisphere temperature reconstructions over the last 2,000 years

Because of the problems with temperature reconstructions this post concentrates on the European Alps, where long-term instrumental records – some going back to the early 1700s – provide information on temperature and precipitation changes around the time the LIA came to an end. Another reason for concentrating on the Alps is that almost half of the world’s glaciers that have long-term monitoring data are located there.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Powering the Tesla Gigafactory

Powering the Tesla Gigafactory

Tesla has repeatedly claimed in publications, articles and tweets from Elon Musk that its Reno, Nevada Gigafactory will be powered 100% by renewables.  Specifics on exactly how Tesla plans to do this are sparse, but the data that are available suggest that Tesla’s 70MW rooftop solar array won’t come close to supplying the Gigafactory’s needs and that the other options that Tesla is now or has been considering (more solar, possibly wind, battery storage) will not bridge the gap. As a result the Gigafactory will probably end up obtaining most of its electricity from the Nevada grid, 75% of which is presently generated by fossil fuels.

Lest there be any doubt about Tesla’s claim that the Gigafactory will be powered with 100% renewables, here are some tweets from Mr Musk:

July 27, 2016: Should mention that Gigafactory will be fully powered by clean energy when complete

June 8, 2018: Gigafactory should be on 100% renewable energy (primarily solar with some wind) by next year. Rollout of solar has already begun

August 25, 2018: Tesla’s Gigafactory will be 100% renewable powered (by Tesla Solar) by end of next year

Plus this excerpt from the January 2016 Gigafactory tour handout:

(The Gigafactory) is an all-electric factory with no fossil fuels (natural gas or petroleum) directly consumed. We will be using 100% sustainable energy through a combination of a 70 MW solar rooftop array and solar ground installations.

Plus this one from Tesla’s “press kit”:

The Gigafactory is designed to be a net-zero energy factory upon completion. It will not consume any fossil fuels – there is no natural gas piped to the site nor are there permanent diesel generators being used to provide power … The entire roof of the Gigafactory will be covered in solar array, and installation is already underway. Power not consumed during the day will be stored via Tesla Powerpacks for use when needed.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Attenborough and the deluded elites of Katowice

Attenborough and the deluded elites of Katowice

Transcript of the speech by Sir David Attenborough COP24, Katowice, Poland
3rd December 2018.

Your excellencies, ladies and gentlemen.

‘We the peoples of the United Nations’. These are the opening words of the UN Charter. A charter that puts people at the centre. A pledge to give every person in the world a voice on its future. A promise to help protect the weakest and the strongest from war, famine and other man-made disasters. Right now, we are facing a man-made disaster of global scale. Our greatest threat in thousands of years. Climate Change.

If we don’t take action the collapse of our civilisations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon.

The United Nations provides a unique platform that can unite the whole world. And as the Paris agreement proved, together we can make real change happen. At this crucial moment, the United Nations has invited the world’s people to have their voice heard, by giving them a seat. The People’s Seat; giving everyone the opportunity to join us here today, virtually, and speak directly to you the decision makers.

In the last two weeks, the world’s people have taken part in building this address, answering polls, sending video messages and voicing their opinions. I am only here to represent the ‘Voice of the People’: to deliver our collective thoughts, concerns, ideas and suggestions.

This is our ‘We the peoples’ message.

…….THE PEOPLES’ SEAT VIDEO SEQUENCE…..

The world’s people have spoken. Their message is clear. Time is running out. They want you, the decision makers, to act now. They are behind you, along with civil society represented here today. Supporting you in making tough decisions but also willing to make sacrifices in their daily lives.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Fact-checking the second volume of the U.S. National Climate Assessment

Fact-checking the second volume of the U.S. National Climate Assessment

This recently-issued study (the “Assessment”) was seized on by the media as proof of the massive damage the US will suffer if nothing is done about climate change. The Assessment’s conclusions are based largely on speculative model projections that aren’t amenable to checking, but it also claims that the US is already experiencing some of the impacts of man-made climate change, and these claims can be checked. This post accordingly evaluates them claim-by-claim and finds that they are rarely backed up by any hard data, that in some cases they are contradicted by disclaimers buried in the text, and that in no case is there any hard evidence that conclusively relates the impacts to man-made climate change. The credibility of the Assessment’s predictions can be judged accordingly.

The Assessment is 1,600 pages long and I doubt that anyone has read it from cover to cover – I certainly haven’t. I have obtained my information from the Summary Findings, Overview, Report Chapters and Downloads sections in the boxes that clicking on this linkleads to. These sections themselves contain several hundred pages of text, much of it repetitive, but there is always the possibility that I’ve missed some critical graphic or piece of text. On the other hand, if I’ve missed it the media, who will have read the introductory sections only, will have too.

And how did the media report the Assessment’s results? Here are some excerpts:

Guardian

Climate change is already harming Americans’ lives with “substantial damages” set to occur as global temperatures threaten to surge beyond internationally agreed limits ……… The influence of climate change is being felt across the US with increases in disastrous wildfires in the west, flooding on the east coast, soil loss in the midwest and coastal erosion in Alaska

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Now Spain proposes to go 100% renewable

Now Spain proposes to go 100% renewable

The list of countries, states, cities and towns that have announced ambitious plans to go 100% renewable continues to grow. The latest entrant is Spain, which according to the Guardian plans to switch to 100% renewable electricity by 2050 and aims to fully decarbonize the country’s economy shortly after. Evaluating the full decarbonization option is beyond the scope of a blog post, so here I give Spain the routine Energy Matters treatment to see whether it has any chance of converting its electricity sector to 100% renewables by 2050.


A couple of observations to begin with. First, Spain’s plans are set forth in a draft Climate Change and Energy Transition Law that has yet to pass Congress. The recently installed Sánchez government has a shaky hold on power and will need support from other parties to make it official. But which politician these days can resist the magic catch-phrase “100% renewables”? Even Conservative MPs in the UK are now calling for it.

Second, the data presented here are for the Spanish “Peninsula” – i.e. mainland – only. The Balearic and Canary Islands are ignored.

The table below summarizes Spain’s generation capacity at the end of 2017. The data are from the Red Eléctrica de España (REE) Statistical data of electrical system report 2017:

Two more comments are in order here. First, REE conveniently segregates generation sources into renewable and non-renewable categories as follows:

NON-RENEWABLE ENERGIES: Includes pumped storage, nuclear, fuel/gas, combined cycle, cogeneration and renewable waste.
RENEWABLE ENERGY: Includes hydro, hydro-wind, wind, solar photovoltaic, solar thermal, biogas, biomass, marine-hydro, geothermal and renewable waste.

Segregating the results in accordance with these definitions shows that renewables supplied about a third of Spain’s electricity in 2017. It’s not clear whether distributed generation is included in REE’s numbers, but word searches for “distributed”, “embedded” and “rooftop” yielded zero hits.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The cost of wind & solar power: batteries included

The cost of wind & solar power: batteries included

For some time now we here on Energy Matters have been harping on about the prohibitive costs of long-term battery storage. Here, using two simplified examples, I quantify these costs. The results show that while batteries may be useful for fast-frequency response applications they increase the levelized costs of wind and solar electricity by a factor of ten or more when used for long-term – in particular seasonal – storage. Obviously a commercial-scale storage technology much cheaper than batteries is going to be needed before the world’s electricity sector can transition to intermittent renewables. The problem is that there isn’t one.

Assumptions:

Making detailed estimates of the future costs of intermittent renewables + battery storage for any specific country, state or local grid requires consideration of a large number of variables, plus a lot of crystal-ball gazing, and is altogether too complicated an exercise for a blog post. Accordingly I have made the following simplifying assumptions:

* The grid is an “electricity island” – i.e. no exports or imports.

* It starts out with 30% baseload generation and 70% load-following generation . Renewables generation, including hydro, is zero.

* Baseload and load-following generation is progressively replaced with intermittent wind and solar generation, with baseload and load-following generation decreasing in direct proportion to the percentage of wind + solar generation in the mix. This broadly analogs the approaches a number of countries have adopted or plan to adopt.

* Annual demand stays constant.

* Enough battery storage is added to match wind + solar generation to annual demand based on daily average data. Shorter-term variations in generation, which will tend to increase storage requirements, are not considered. Neither is the option of installing more wind + solar than is necessary to meet demand, which will have the opposite effect but at the expense of increased curtailment (see this post for more details).

* Transmission system upgrades are ignored.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How to save the world from climate catastrophe – the IRENA study

How to save the world from climate catastrophe – the IRENA study

IRENA, the International Renewable Agency, has just published a study showing how the world can meet the not-to-exceed-2°C emissions goal set by the Paris Agreement. It’s not a 100% renewables study – it still includes a little oil, gas and nuclear – but it concludes, unsurprisingly, that a massive expansion of renewable energy in all sectors will be needed between now and 2050, along with major improvements in energy efficiency, to keep the Earth within its allowable carbon budget. The study provides information on the changes that will be needed to meet this goal but provides no specifics on how they are to be met. It estimates the costs of the changes at $120 trillion (~$4 trillion/year from now to 2050, or about 5% of total world GDP) but provides no specifics on where the money is to come from. It is nevertheless confident that this massive outlay will be “dwarfed by the benefits”.

The IRENA report contains 73 pages, only 10 of which (Analysis and Insights in Key Sectors, pp. 31-40) deal with the specifics of the changes that are needed to achieve IRENA’s proposed “energy transition”. But no information is provided on how these changes are to be achieved and whether they will work if they are. Simulation models, such as those used in the Jacobson, Lappeenranta and Blakers studies, are normally used to perform this task, but IRENA seems to have by-passed this step. It has simply estimated how much renewable energy and improved energy efficiency is needed to meet the 2°C emissions goal, and the costs thereof, and it presents these estimates as achievable solutions rather than targets.

IRENA considers two scenarios. The base year for both is 2015.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

A brief review of the Buckland, Alaska, solar project

A brief review of the Buckland, Alaska, solar project

Buckland is one of a number of projects in remote Alaskan villages that aim to replace expensive diesel with “cheap” solar. Here I examine how much diesel the Buckland array will actually save and how cheap the solar electricity that replaces it will be. The results show that Buckland’s solar array will cut its annual diesel consumption by 3% at most and that any impacts on electricity rates will be imperceptible. If the array’s capacity is expanded to the level where the impacts do become perceptible then electricity rates will probably increase because solar electricity will likely be more expensive than the diesel electricity it replaces. The rationale for the project is therefore questionable (Inset: Buckland Village, Credit NANA regional corporation).

The article on Buckland solar in Blowout Week 252 attracted some interest, so I thought a more detailed review of the project would be in order. As is usual in such cases a number of assumptions have had to be made to complete the review, so the numbers and graphs presented here should be regarded as approximate.

The Figure 1 Google Earth map shows the location of Buckland relative to:

  • Three nearby native villages. The monthly electricity consumption data from these villages were used to estimate monthly consumption at Buckland.
  • Fairbanks, the closest place with data from operating solar arrays. These data were used to estimate monthly solar generation at Buckland. Fairbanks is 630km east of Buckland but lies at about the same latitude (64° 50’N vs. 65° 58’N).
  • Anchorage, the state capital.

Figure 1: Buckland location map

The Buckland solar array:

No specifications or costs for the Buckland array have been published, so I have made the following assumptions:

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Quantifying wind surpluses and deficits in Western Europe

Quantifying wind surpluses and deficits in Western Europe

This post updates my January 2015 Wind blowing nowhere post using 2016 rather than 2013 data. The 2016 data show the same features as the 2013 data, with high and low wind conditions extending over large areas and a decreasing level of correlation with distance between countries. The post also quantifies the surpluses and deficits created by high and low wind conditions in January 2016 in gigawatts. The results indicate that wind surpluses in Western European countries during windy periods will be too large to be exported to surrounding countries and that wind deficits during wind lulls will be too large to be covered by imports from surrounding countries. This casts further doubt on claims that wind surpluses and deficits in one region can be offset by transfers to and from another because the wind is always blowing somewhere.

2016 Wind Generation:

The wind and other data used in this post are from the P-F Bach data base used in “wind blowing nowhere”. Three of the countries for which 2013 data were available – Finland, Ireland and Belgium – have no 2016 data, but three countries that had no 2013 data – Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands – do. As a result we now have a contiguous block of nine countries that extends from Gibraltar to North Cape, a distance of 4,400km, and which has a width of up to 1,900 km (Figure 1). The total area covered by the nine countries is 2.66 million sq km:

Figure 1: Countries with 2016 wind generation data

Wind capacity factors by country are shown in Figure 2 (click to enlarge). Capacity factors instead of actual generation values are plotted to avoid swamping countries with low levels of wind generation with generation from large producers, and daily rather than hourly data are shown for readability. Capacity factors are adjusted for capacity additions during the year:

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Scotland’s wind exports to England and the myth of a 100% renewable Scotland

Scotland’s wind exports to England and the myth of a 100% renewable Scotland

Well over half of Scotland’s wind generation between January 12, 2018 and the present was exported to England and not consumed in Scotland. Euan Mearns reached substantially the same conclusion in his review of January and February 2016 data. Scotland’s government nevertheless assumes that all of Scotland’s wind generation is consumed in Scotland, that intermittency is not an issue, and that Scotland is therefore on track to meet its target of obtaining 100% of its electricity from renewables by 2020. The chances that Scotland will meet this target are of course zero, and Scotland’s government is pulling the wool over the public’s eyes by pretending otherwise.

[Inset image: Stirling Castle with environmentally enhanced scenery in the background.]

This post is an update of a number of posts Euan Mearns has written since 2015, with the most recent being Scotland-England electricity transfers and the perfect storm in March 2017. It uses five-minute Scotland-England transfer data between January 12 and October 23, 2018 that are now publically available on Leo Smith’s Gridwatch site. Gridwatch, however, does not break out any other grid data for Scotland, meaning that some assumptions have had to be made. These were:

1. Scotland’s wind generation. According to BEIS data UK wind generation totalled 50,004 MWh in 2017 and Scotland’s wind generation totalled 17,063 MWh, 33.5% of total UK generation. In the first two quarters of 2018 UK wind generation totalled 27,802 MWh and Scotland’s wind generation totalled 9,121 MWh, 32.8% of total UK generation. In both cases Scotland’s wind generation amounts to about a third of total UK generation, so it was simulated by dividing the Gridwatch 5-minute UK grid values by three. This conversion assumes that variations in wind generation were the same in Scotland as they were in the UK as a whole.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Every Big Bit Helps

Every Big Bit Helps

The post describes how new supercritical CO2 Brayton Cycle turbines may revolutionise the efficiency of electricty generation. Background image, existing Rankine Cycle steam turbine. Foreground, Brayton Cycle turbine with same power rating.


Let’s say you and I need to move 1 million tons of sand. You show up to the site with a backhoe and a dump truck, and I show up with a teaspoon. Naturally you ask me what the heck I’m planning to do with that teaspoon. I answer seriously with “Every little bit helps.”

Would you think me rational?

The problem with people advocating reducing carbon dioxide emissions is they are frequently bringing a teaspoon to do the work. Oh, they don’t call it a teaspoon, they’ll show you all sorts of fanciful projections and imaginary outcomes, but at the end of the day, it is still a teaspoon. And no, the teaspoon doesn’t help – we are wasting time energy and money on things that have no hope of moving that mountain.

The U.S. EIA International Energy Outlook 2017 projects that world energy consumption will grow by 28% between 2015 and 2040. Most of this growth is expected to come from countries that are not in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Non-OECD Asia (which includes China and India) accounts for more than 60% of the world’s total anticipated increase in energy consumption.

The world currently uses nearly 22,000 TWh/yr. of electricity. But this is far less than what we need. If the world, everyone on it, used electricity as frugally as Europeans, we would need approximately 34,617 TWh/yr. So we need a LOT more electricity. That is just electricity mind you – if we go to electric cars we need much more than that to power transportation.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
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