Arctic Sea Ice : Forum

AGW in general => Policy and solutions => Topic started by: Bob Wallace on April 24, 2013, 04:40:41 AM

Title: Renewable Energy
Post by: Bob Wallace on April 24, 2013, 04:40:41 AM
Quote
“The apocalyptic views about what it will cost to shift the world to renewable energy simply aren’t true,” Liebreich said in an interview. “Three years ago, we thought wind and solar would be cheap as chips, and they’ve even gone below that.” What this suggests, he says, “is that we are beyond the tipping point towards a cleaner energy future.”

Quote
Global annual investment in renewable energy is set to grow by anywhere from two-and-a-half times to more than four-and-a-half times between now and 2030, leading to a future energy mix that would see renewables accounting for between 69–74 per cent of new power capacity added by 2030 worldwide, according to a new report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

The research, published today, suggests that the most likely scenario for the renewable energy market outlook – a scenario BNEF is calling the “New Normal” – will see a jump of 230 per cent, to $630 billion per year by 2030, driven by further improvements in the cost-competitiveness of wind and solar technologies, and an increase in the roll-out of non-intermittent clean energy sources like hydro, geothermal and biomass.

The result will be renewable energy projects including wind, solar, hydro and biomass accounting for 70 per cent of new power generation capacity between 2012 and 2030, the report said. By 2030, it finds,  renewables will account for half of the generation capacity worldwide, up from 28 percent last year.

“It’s a strong forecast, but it’s believable,” said Guy Turner, BNEF chief economist. “That represents compound annual growth of 6.7 percent, and many industries have grown faster than that at this stage of their development.”

http://cleantechnica.com/2013/04/23/investment-in-renewable-energy-set-to-triple-by-2030-costs-plunging/#comment-873751701 (http://cleantechnica.com/2013/04/23/investment-in-renewable-energy-set-to-triple-by-2030-costs-plunging/#comment-873751701)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: TerryM on April 24, 2013, 08:16:49 AM
Bob


Cheap renewables & their rapid utilization is good news but will it serve to decrease the rate at which fossil fuels are burned or simply augment them?
I can't conceive of a situation in which valued, buried assets are going to be left unexploited by those wonderful philanthropic corporations that now count these resources on their balance sheets. - Nor can I concieve of the governments that these organizations have purchased passing laws which will cause their owners financial inconvenience.
If local legislation should prevent the use of the most odious sources, will it at the same time halt the exportation of say brown coal or tar sands oil?


Terry
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Jim Hunt on April 24, 2013, 12:00:45 PM
Bob - We've be been through this in various places (http://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/index.php/topic,16.0.html) now over the months, but I've never received a plausible answer to the following point.

My focus is UK centric, whereas yours seems to be US centric, but over here planning applications for "wind farms" are currently being rejected (http://econnexus.org/permission-refused-for-the-totnes-community-wind-farm/) left, right and centre, and the sun is below the horizon when demand peaks.

Even if Terry is overly pessimistic and all the renewable generation you anticipate/hope for gets built, how will the grid cope? A "Tipping point" for renewables becomes a "Breaking point" for grids?
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on April 24, 2013, 07:14:21 PM
The article is about global investment in renewables.  And rapidly falling prices are global.

Let's look at the UK.

The UK has good tidal potential.  About 20% of its electricity could come from tidal.

https://www.gov.uk/wave-and-tidal-energy-part-of-the-uks-energy-mix (https://www.gov.uk/wave-and-tidal-energy-part-of-the-uks-energy-mix)

The UK has excellent offshore wind.  I can't find the study right now but I recall that the UK has could generate more than 100% of its electricity needs from offshore wind.  (I'll keep looking.)  I did find this report which lays out a path to the UK getting 50% of its electricity from offshore by 2050.

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/48279/4467-tina-offshore-wind-summary.pdf (https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/48279/4467-tina-offshore-wind-summary.pdf)

It looks to me that the UK could power itself with wind and water.  Of course the wind component is variable so some system of storage or power trading would be needed to match supply to demand. 

The UK is already connected to continental Europe via HVDC transmission lines to the Netherlands and France.  These allow shipment of surplus electricity to the continent in exchange for electricity when needed.  Europe is on its way to be one big connected grid, most likely stretching from Iceland to Eastern Europe, from the edge of the Arctic Ocean to North Africa.  The UK could well ship nighttime wind electricity south to Spain, Portugal, Greece, Italy, or Morocco and get some of their excellent solar supply back during UK peak demand hours.

We've got a major job ahead of us.  One which will not be completed in a couple of years but will take a few decades.  We will need new transmission lines in order to bring electricity from where it is easiest/cheapest to generate to where it is needed.  Those transmission lines are already being worked on around the world - in Europe, in North America,  in Asia.  There's a new HVDC line between Leinster, Ireland and Anglesey, Wales, UK which was scheduled to be completed in 2012.

Average solar capacity for the whole of the UK is about 15% (some counties have 20% capacity).  That is not terrible.  At Germany's current $2/watt installed price and 15% capacity PV solar would produce electricity for about $0.12/kWh (about half the current price of electricity?).  The price of solar is expected to fall much lower.  And solar delivers during peak demand hours which makes it more valuable. 

And let's throw one more thing into the mix.  Enhanced geothermal is starting to look like a viable technology.  It's far too early to put any numbers on the potential, but it could be major. 

"How will the grid cope?"

I expect it will cope quite well.  It's functioning now to carry electricity to homes and businesses.  It will have to develop new, clean sources for its electricity and run transmission lines from those new sources into the existing grid.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on April 24, 2013, 07:50:56 PM
Jim - found this...

"The Centre for Alternative Technology prepared a plan entitled Zero Carbon Britain 2030.  The report details a comprehensive plan through which Britain  could reduce its CO2-equivalent emissions 90% by the year 2030 (in comparison to 2007 levels).  The report proposes to achieve the final 10% emissions reduction through carbon sequestration.

In terms of energy production, the report proposes to provide nearly 100% of UK energy demands by 2030 from renewable sources.  In their plan, 82% of the British electricity demand is supplied through wind (73% from offshore turbines, 9% from onshore), 5% from wave and tidal stream, 4.5% from fixed tidal, 4% from biomass, 3% from biogas, 0.9% each from nuclear and hydroelectric, and 0.5% from solar photovoltaic (PV) (Figure 3).  In this plan, the UK also generates enough electricity to become a significant energy exporter (174 GW and 150 terawatt-hours exported, for approximately £6.37 billion income per year).

(https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.skepticalscience.com%2Fpics%2FUK_Renewables.png&hash=06cb83b18597e5fbcfd004e5599c8241)
Figure 3: British electricity generation breakdown in 2030

In order to address the intermittency associated with the heavy proposed use of wind power, the report proposes to deploy offshore turbines dispersed in locations all around the country (when there is little windspeed in one location, there is likely to be high windspeed in other locations), and implement backup generation consisting of biogas, biomass, hydro, and imports to manage the remaining variability.  Management of electricity demand must also become more efficient, for example through the implementation of smart grids.

The heavy reliance on wind is also plausible because peak electricity demand matches up well with peak wind availability in the UK.
(https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.skepticalscience.com%2Fpics%2FUK_wind_seasonality.png&hash=02765e4ce16b60133428073492a97340)

 (Figure 4, UK Committee on Climate Change 2011).

http://www.skepticalscience.com/print.php?r=374 (http://www.skepticalscience.com/print.php?r=374)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on April 24, 2013, 08:10:57 PM
Bob


Cheap renewables & their rapid utilization is good news but will it serve to decrease the rate at which fossil fuels are burned or simply augment them?
I can't conceive of a situation in which valued, buried assets are going to be left unexploited by those wonderful philanthropic corporations that now count these resources on their balance sheets. - Nor can I concieve of the governments that these organizations have purchased passing laws which will cause their owners financial inconvenience.
If local legislation should prevent the use of the most odious sources, will it at the same time halt the exportation of say brown coal or tar sands oil?


Terry

With adequate amounts of wind and/or solar on the grid in some locations coal plants are already encountering financial difficulties.  If you've got wind or solar able to sell for almost nothing due to their low operating expenses coal has to sell at a loss, it can't turn off and back on quickly.  Selling at a loss means having to increase your price during other hours. 

Then, at least in the US, there is cheap natural gas.  If wind eats up coal's (or nuclear's) nighttime market, forcing them to sell at a loss then NG can produce at a lower price during less windy times.  Over time gas prices will rise and solar prices will continue to fall.  At some point in the not too distant future their lines will cross and NG will be reduced to a fill-in role for wind and solar.  And, hopefully, NG will be replaced by cheaper storage.

We're seeing the fossil fuel industry attempt to use legislation to hold back renewables and they've largely failed.  The fossil fuel industry was just defeated in Germany in the last couple of days.  Legislation to hamper renewables in conservative, red US states has failed.  Renewables are starting to get their own political power and renewables create more jobs and local income than fossil fuels.

Canadian tar sands will most likely be defeated by the development of an adequate EV battery.  When/if we have a battery that lets us drive about 180 miles at highway speed and grab a 90% recharge in less than 20 minutes, oil is finished.

The high cost of EVs is due to low manufacturing volume.  When we have an EV that can drive 500 miles with only two modest stops people will loose their range anxiety, manufacturing volumes will increase, prices will drop.

When presented with a choice between two identically priced vehicle except one an ICEV and the other an EV people will pick the one that costs 1/4th as much to operate.  Oil use will plummet.  The most expensive to extract and refine (tar sand oil, for example) will be the first to shut down.

Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on April 24, 2013, 08:16:20 PM
Terry, you might find this interesting reading...

"Australian based analysts at Citigroup says fossil fuel reserves in Australia face significant value destruction in a carbon constrained world, with the value of thermal coal reserves likely to be slashed dramatically if governments get serious about climate action. It says fossil fuel asset owners could be best advised to dig the resource up as quickly as they can.

In a further sign that the idea of carbon budgets is gripping mainstream investment and business discussion, Citi recognises the potential impact of “unburnable carbon” – where decisive climate policies will force the bulk of the world’s fossil fuels to be left in the ground. It says the declining cost of renewables could have the same impact.

The Citi report – lead authored by Elaine Prior – downplays any immediate threat to these fossil fuel investments, and is warning its clients not to bail out of fossil fuel investments too early. But it concedes that half  of the value ascribed to the thermal coal assets of BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto and specialist coal miners could be lost if the world took decisive action on climate change by 2020."

http://reneweconomy.com.au/2013/dig-baby-dig-citi-says-coal-investments-at-risk-20942 (http://reneweconomy.com.au/2013/dig-baby-dig-citi-says-coal-investments-at-risk-20942)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on April 24, 2013, 09:39:32 PM
Jim, I have not found the research paper I mentioned earlier, but I think this will do in its stead...

The UK has the best offshore wind resources in Europe. Recent independent
analysis for DECC suggests that the UK can maintain its place as global leader
in offshore wind with the potential to deploy over 40 GW by 2030. Such significant capacity, enough to power the equivalent of all the homes in the UK,
can play a vital role in increasing our energy security and decarbonising power
generation


https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/48128/2167-uk-renewable-energy-roadmap.pdf (https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/48128/2167-uk-renewable-energy-roadmap.pdf)

A bit of back of envelope math -

In 2008 the UK used about 950 GWh/day. 

40 GW of offshore turbines running 24 hours per day at 45% capacity (what Denmark's more recently installed wind farms are producing) would produce about 430 GWh of electricity.  That's getting close to half of what the UK uses.

That, of course, does not use up the UK's offshore potential.  Then add in onshore wind, tidal, solar, geothermal and biomass along with residual nuclear.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: TerryM on April 24, 2013, 09:58:41 PM
Bob


I suppose my primary concern is that as renewables lower the per unit costs of power people and businesses will use more energy, possibly so much additional energy that even though the percentage of FF (fossil fuel) drops the units of FF energy actually increase.


If FF prices were to drop when supply exceeds demand, wouldn't poor countries simply buy up the excess on the cheap and enter into the burn baby burn phase while richer nations convert to renewables? Tar sands may be priced out of the market, but most other FF will simply be less profitable per unit requiring more units to be exploited to keep the companies (and countries) in the black.


Do you remember the studies from a few years back finding that adding more and better freeways actually increased congestion? People simply moved further out along these arteries causing longer, slower commutes and more traffic jams. I see the same thing happening as energy costs decrease because of cheap renewables. Rather than using less FF, people simply increase energy usage until they've burned through the renewables and require more dirty energy to meet their now higher demands.


Terry
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on April 24, 2013, 10:36:57 PM
That's pretty much the Jevon's Paradox argument, but I don't think it holds when it comes to energy.

In the developed world we use pretty much as much as we want now.  If the price of electricity or oil dropped significantly consumption wouldn't change very much, if at all.  And we are at the same time continuing to increase our efficiency. 

People might make an extra long driving trip or two each year, but they will be doing that with a more efficient car.  They might leave an extra light on, but it will be an 18 watt LED/CFL rather than a 100 watt incandescent.

The less developed world is going to install a lot of new capacity.  They will install what is cheapest.  New wind is roughly 5 cents, new solar dropping below 10 cents, geothermal less than 10 cents, coal at least 12 cents, nuclear as high or higher.

Those are US prices.  Many less developed countries would have to pay even more for new coal or nuclear because they would have to import fuel at a higher price than we pay. 

And do remember, the developing world understands climate change.  Many of the developing countries are in greater danger than are the developed.  Their food supplies are more tenuous, their water supplies often stretched thinner. 
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: crandles on April 25, 2013, 12:02:43 AM
That's pretty much the Jevon's Paradox argument, but I don't think it holds when it comes to energy.

The set up costs of renewables are still substantial so energy doesn't suddenly become much cheaper due to lack of fuel cost.

There is a bit of an effect of cheaper when there is lots of surplus and more expensive when no surplus. But storage systems will grab the cheap power so it doesn't get too much cheaper. If there is insufficient storage then it is more of a problem.

Less developed countries have less infrastructure so often easier to install excess local renewables than lots of grid infrastructure. Also do poor countries have the ability to pass on cheap prices to consumers when there is excess supply? That doesn't seem to happen in developed countries unless you are something like a hydro pump up storage / generator so why would you expect it to happen in less developed countries?

Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on April 25, 2013, 01:04:08 AM
Cheaper electricity is both here now and longer term.

We pay a tremendous amount because of the health damage caused by burning coal.  Probably over 15 cents per kWh.  Tax dollars and health insurance premiums.

In the US we've cut our percentage of electricity from coal from over 50% to about 35% in the last few years.  That's less coal pollution and fewer health problems to treat.


Surprisingly small amounts of wind/solar are reducing the wholesale cost of electricity in Germany.  Those savings are not being passed on to end-users, but that's a market problem not related to renewables. 

Wind has lowered the cost of electricity in Texas.  There is some data that suggests that solar has lowered the cost of electricity in San Diego.

People in Hawaii and other parts of the US are saving money by installing rooftop solar.  As are Walmart and Ikea.  The same is happening in Australia and parts of Europe.
--

The long term savings comes when we reach the "20 year" payoff for wind turbines and solar panels. 

Our first generation wind turbines at Altamont Pass worked for 30 years before repairs made it more profitable to replace them.  Our newer tech wind turbines should last much longer.  Many are being built without gear trains which is the wind turbine weak point.  Additionally they are able to detect sudden shifts in wind speed before they arrive and adjust their pitch in order to lower the impact which will extend their useful life.  Twenty years to pay off, twenty-plus years of almost free electricity.

Our first generation solar panels are now reaching 40 years and are still producing at about 80% of their original output.  Twenty years to pay off, twenty-plus years of almost free electricity.
--

Less developed countries often use diesel to generate power.  India certainly does.  Installing solar and using it when the Sun is shining allows the generators to be turned off for several hours per day, saving expensive fuel.

As we get better storage places which have high fuel costs will be among the first to switch to renewables + storage.


Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Glenn Tamblyn on April 25, 2013, 01:49:44 AM
It has actually been amazing to watch the price of PV Solar plummet in the last few years. I worked in Solar Energy research 25 years ago and back then everyone said that if the were a large enough market for them, prices would crash - the hope then was that large government involvement would provide the initial 'orders' to kick start things.

Fast forward 25 years and the Chinese have done it.

The pressing need now is actually to get the some impetus in energy storage technologies. A lot of good stuff in prototype but nothing really mass market yet. That is really the missing ingredient now.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on April 25, 2013, 04:15:29 AM
There are several interesting storage technologies that seem about ready to exit the lab.  Here's a new one that's still in the lab that I found out about today.

"Among the most promising batteries for intermittent grid storage today are "flow" batteries, because it's relatively simple to scale their tanks, pumps and pipes to the sizes needed to handle large capacities of energy. The new flow battery developed by Cui's group has a simplified, less expensive design that presents a potentially viable solution for large-scale production.

Today's flow batteries pump two different liquids through an interaction chamber where dissolved molecules undergo chemical reactions that store or give up energy. The chamber contains a membrane that only allows ions not involved in reactions to pass between the liquids while keeping the active ions physically separated. This battery design has two major drawbacks: the high cost of liquids containing rare materials such as vanadium -- especially in the huge quantities needed for grid storage -- and the membrane, which is also very expensive and requires frequent maintenance.

The new Stanford/SLAC battery design uses only one stream of molecules and does not need a membrane at all. Its molecules mostly consist of the relatively inexpensive elements lithium and sulfur, which interact with a piece of lithium metal coated with a barrier that permits electrons to pass without degrading the metal. When discharging, the molecules, called lithium polysulfides, absorb lithium ions; when charging, they lose them back into the liquid. The entire molecular stream is dissolved in an organic solvent, which doesn't have the corrosion issues of water-based flow batteries.

"In initial lab tests, the new battery also retained excellent energy-storage performance through more than 2,000 charges and discharges, equivalent to more than 5.5 years of daily cycles," Cui said."

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130424140603.htm (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130424140603.htm)

It's not clear what would wear out in this battery.  The barrier on the piece of lithium metal?  If so, that sounds like a quick, low cost rebuild job.

2,000 cycles might be something shorter than 5.5 years.  Most likely there would be a lot of '2 cycles per day' days.  One to move night wind to morning, another to move solar to afternoon/evening.

--

eta:  Here's a better page/description along with a video.

http://phys.org/news/2013-04-battery-solar-power-grid.html (http://phys.org/news/2013-04-battery-solar-power-grid.html)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Artful Dodger on April 25, 2013, 07:13:48 AM
It's not clear what would wear out in this battery.  The barrier on the piece of lithium metal?  If so, that sounds like a quick, low cost rebuild job.

2,000 cycles might be something shorter than 5.5 years.  Most likely there would be a lot of '2 cycles per day' days.  One to move night wind to morning, another to move solar to afternoon/evening.
Hi Bob,

In a battery, ions flow between a cathode and an anode. Charging a battery forces ions from the cathode to the anode; discharging the battery reverses the flow.

This process wears out the cathode, resulting in reduced capacity. A typical lithium-iron-phosphate battery loses about 20 percent of its capacity after 2000 charge cycles.

BTW, 2000 cycles is 5.5 years since a cycle is one complete daily charge  & nightly discharge routine. When large battery banks have replaceable cathodes (http://www.google.com/patents/US4246324), or better yet self-repairing cathodes (http://www.google.com/patents/US4317874), things will get much better from the economics pt-of-view.

Biological sciences, nanotech, future developments, they're all fine. But we can not wait. It's time to switch to today's tech, right now!
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on April 25, 2013, 07:36:58 AM
Jim, re: your concern about a bunch of renewable capacity and the grid.  Just saw this today...

A European research consortium, supported in part by the European Commission, has launched the e-Highway2050 project with the aim of developing a long-term planning methodology for the necessary expansion and conversion of the European electricity transmission grids. The resulting approach will propose a Modular Development Plan for the pan-European transmission network from 2020 to 2050. The development of an integrated European electricity market emphasises the importance of increasing interconnections between existing and future transmission networks. This research project paves the way for an integrated pan-European grid, able to meet European commitments such as integrating large quantities of electric power generated by renewable energy sources (wind, biomass and solar) and transporting it over long distances to consumption sites. Such a complex and networked transmission system at a pan-European level raises interest in the innovative concept of “electricity highways”

If you check at the bottom of the article it looks like almost all of Europe is aboard, including the UK.

Read more at http://solarlove.org/e-highway2050-electricity-highways-for-europe/#y0cFhb4VYtC9TXr9.99 (http://solarlove.org/e-highway2050-electricity-highways-for-europe/#y0cFhb4VYtC9TXr9.99)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on April 25, 2013, 07:54:20 AM

In a battery, ions flow between a cathode and an anode. Charging a battery forces ions from the cathode to the anode; discharging the battery reverses the flow.

This process wears out the cathode, resulting in reduced capacity. A typical lithium-iron-phosphate battery loses about 20 percent of its capacity after 2000 charge cycles.

BTW, 2000 cycles is 5.5 years since a cycle is one complete daily charge  & nightly discharge routine. When large battery banks have replaceable cathodes (http://www.google.com/patents/US4246324), or better yet self-repairing cathodes (http://www.google.com/patents/US4317874), things will get much better from the economics pt-of-view.

Biological sciences, nanotech, future developments, they're all fine. But we can not wait. It's time to switch to today's tech, right now!

In this case the cathode is a polysulfide solution.  It's not clear what would "wear out" over time.  And if it does it would seem to be simple to do a quick solution exchange.  It's cheap juice.

Yes, one cycle per day does make a 2,000 cycle battery good for 5.4 years.  I suggested that in actual use batteries may be cycled twice per day.  Night/wind + day/solar.
--

BTW, the Toshiba SCiB is rated at over 6,000 100% DOD cycles before it reaches the 80% level.  Honda and Mitsubishi are using them in their EVs but, I think calling them 4,000 cycle batteries.  (4k cycles at 80 miles per = 320,000 mile battery life.)

Trojan has  a new lead-acid battery on the market (T105 RE) which can be drained to 0% for 1,000 cycles.  If held to 20% discharge as most offgrid applications do, it's good for 4,000 cycles.

There's some pretty sweet stuff already on the market.  But not the low, low priced solution for massive grid storage.  We also aren't needing that kind of storage for several more years, so all is fine. 
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on April 25, 2013, 08:07:20 AM
Another very promising grid storage battery which is further along than the newly announced one from Stanford is the Ambri (MIT) liquid metal battery which is apparently working well in prototype size.  They say that they are currently scaling it up for grid use.

"Ambri’s liquid metal battery technology is distinct from other storage options on the market today. Each cell consists of three self-separating liquid layers — two metals and a salt — that float on top of each other based on density differences and immiscibility. The system operates at elevated temperature maintained by self-heating during charging and discharging. The result is a low-cost and efficient storage system.

Liquid electrodes offer a robust alternative to solid electrodes, avoiding common failure mechanisms of conventional batteries, such as electrode particle cracking. The all-liquid design avoids cycle-to-cycle capacity fade because the electrodes are reconstituted with each charge."

http://www.ambri.com/ (http://www.ambri.com/)

"avoids cycle-to-cycle capacity fade"
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Jim Hunt on April 25, 2013, 06:19:43 PM
Hi Bob,

I'm familiar with the "predictions" and the "plans" and the "potential" and the "projects" and the "technology". By way of example, in the early 1970s my supervisor for my 3rd year project at the University of Southampton left to become the first ever technical director of The Centre for Alternative Technology. He's reminiscing about it on the BBC this weekend if you're interested:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01s393k (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01s393k)

I've been discussing the pros and cons of building solar PV "farms" on Britain's best agricultural land with the ZCB2030 team for quite some time now:

http://econnexus.org/a-brief-view-of-the-bowhay-farm-solar-pv-public-information-evening/ (http://econnexus.org/a-brief-view-of-the-bowhay-farm-solar-pv-public-information-evening/)

The UK's very own EcoIsland isn't, because nearly all the planning applications to build wind farms on the Isle of Wight get refused:

http://www.infinergy.co.uk/news_detail.asp?item=103 (http://www.infinergy.co.uk/news_detail.asp?item=103)

I hear from all directions about how "the market" will fix the problem real soon now, but CO2 will race past 400 ppm long before that happens. My business card says I'm a "Smart Grid Consultant" and in that capacity I went to the "Seizing the Smart Grid Opportunity" conference in London last week, along with a couple of hundred other experts in the field including speakers from the EC, OFGEM and a variety of standards bodies, as well as "the industry". I asked them all if they'd heard of eMIX. Only one person in the whole room had, and he was on the panel with his IEC hat on.

IBM's Director of Smart Grids said:

Quote
The need to replace ageing infrastructure is a massive issue for DNOs

Then the CFO of UKPN (a DNO)  said:

Quote
EVs will drive that change, if it happens. Investment will be "bottom up" and not "top down" until the next funding round.

That starts in 2023:

http://www.ofgem.gov.uk/Media/FactSheets/Documents1/RIIO%20factsheet.pdf (http://www.ofgem.gov.uk/Media/FactSheets/Documents1/RIIO%20factsheet.pdf)

What do you suppose CO2 will be up to by then? How much sea ice will be left come to that?

My understanding is that the US grid(s) are older and even less "smart" than in the UK. Your mileage may vary of course.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on April 25, 2013, 10:02:50 PM
"What do you suppose CO2 will be up to by then? How much sea ice will be left come to that?"

I have no doubt that CO2 levels will continue to rise for some time.  I have very little doubt that we will see the Arctic sea ice melt out soon.

I also have little doubt that the world, in general, will sit around and wring hands, pull out hair as opposed to working on preventing the worst.

I cannot predict how bad things will get and perhaps we've waited too long and done too little.  But it is very clear to me that efforts are increasing and many, many people are getting serious about getting the work done.

CO2 has peaked in Europe and the US.  China has set a goal for hitting their peak and so far every renewable energy goal that China has set has been reached early and a new, higher goal set.

Yes, the US grid needs work. But it is being worked on.  Individual grids are getting "smarter".  We're building new HVDC transmission lines to move wind-electricity from where it is best generated to where it is needed.  All the new capacity that came on line in March in the US was renewable.  82% of all new capacity in Q1, 2013 in the US was renewable.

I think the UK might be stalled out a bit at the moment.  There has been a large amount of pressure to build new nuclear but the realities of price seem to be killing that idea.  Get the nuclear issue put away and the UK should pick up the pace on renewables.  (They are leading the world in offshore wind.)

What we didn't do in previous decades is not an indicator of what we will do going forward.  Renewables have become cheap.  Awareness of climate change has risen.  Awareness that we are currently getting our butts kicked by climate change is something new.

Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Neven on April 25, 2013, 10:37:07 PM
There's a good piece on ClimateCrocks:

Dave Roberts: The Renewable Threat to Utilities (http://climatecrocks.com/2013/04/25/dave-roberts-the-renewable-threat-to-utilities/)

This is happening in Germany as we speak, also mentioned by Roberts.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Jim Hunt on April 28, 2013, 11:01:07 AM
Here's a brief clip from the BBC Radio 4 programme a bit later on this morning (BST) about the genesis of the Centre for Alternative Technology:

The 'crazy idealists' who energised environmentalism (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0187v1x)

It includes a still of Bob Todd "stringing cables across trees all around the site. If we'd had to have health and safety I don't think we could have done it"
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Jim Hunt on April 28, 2013, 12:57:21 PM
Sue MacGregor asked Bob Todd:

Quote
Zero Carbon Britain 2030. Is it realistic? Can it happen?

Bob replied:

Quote
Technically and economically it IS feasible.

That just leaves "politically" I guess?
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: jbg on May 02, 2013, 05:22:03 AM
I expect it will cope quite well.  It's functioning now to carry electricity to homes and businesses.  It will have to develop new, clean sources for its electricity and run transmission lines from those new sources into the existing grid.
How will one secure the grid from terrorists or even pranksters?
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on May 02, 2013, 08:27:19 AM
I expect it will cope quite well.  It's functioning now to carry electricity to homes and businesses.  It will have to develop new, clean sources for its electricity and run transmission lines from those new sources into the existing grid.
How will one secure the grid from terrorists or even pranksters?

Like with everything else, we'll have to try to anticipate what someone might do to interrupt the grid and attempt to prevent if from happening.  If someone does manage to mess with it then we'll have to clean up the mess and learn from what they did.

It's no different than when some guy tried to take down some transmission towers with explosives a while back.  Stuff will happen.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: CraigsIsland on May 02, 2013, 08:57:27 AM
I expect it will cope quite well.  It's functioning now to carry electricity to homes and businesses.  It will have to develop new, clean sources for its electricity and run transmission lines from those new sources into the existing grid.
How will one secure the grid from terrorists or even pranksters?

Like with everything else, we'll have to try to anticipate what someone might do to interrupt the grid and attempt to prevent if from happening.  If someone does manage to mess with it then we'll have to clean up the mess and learn from what they did.

It's no different than when some guy tried to take down some transmission towers with explosives a while back.  Stuff will happen.


Calculated risk. To survive (i.e. liberty)in a democracy, there's always risks (political, social, economic) that are built into the possibilities of market activities.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: NeilT on May 24, 2013, 04:21:14 PM
Apologies I didn’t intend this to go on so long, but I’ve been looking at this from inside and out for a long time now.

Just to add a little bit of additional reality to this.

I've been studying PV for my home in France for a good 7 years now.  It comes down to a few basic things, some of which I was discussing with an engineer in power production back in 2000 on a flight to Stockholm.

1. Store and forward.  We have to be able to store terawatts of power generated by renewables at inconvenient times (middle of the night/day) and be able to draw on it afterwards.  Ditto with tidal.  Tides don't come in and out at the same time, they vary with the moon cycles.

2. Generation is OK but we have to have conversion.  Line loss on DC is horrific. So we need to produce AC at acceptable voltages to reduce line loss

3. Economies of scale and protectionism.  China, for better or worse, is the manufacturing hub of the world.  Scale up with China and it will undercut everyone in the market.

4. EV  is going to triple our energy requirements or even more.  We can’t shift the calorific energy content of vehicle fuels to Electric and expect the same supply to support it.  That simply won’t work.


So for 1, we have no technology to store terawatts of power.  We can't store hundreds of gigawatts. The best solutions, so far, thought up by the power engineers is things like lifting weights and using friction motors.  OK new advances such as super frozen air are a possibility, but they have losses too.  Certainly there's no way of using traditional lead acid which is readily available. Already lead prices are skyrocketing due to power storage demands of off grid installations.

For 2, we have the issue of inverters.  Most are Grid Tie, but, still, if you want to store your DC in local storage and then draw it back out, then you need a heavy inverter.  Most homes have a supply of 12kw – 18kw.  That is at least 70kg of Copper.  Copper is becoming scarce and prices are skyrocketing.  Even then, an 11 kw inverter is now available for around £1,200.  By weight I’d say it’s probably not aluminium.

Yes we could go Aluminium but they are not reliable.  So we can’t go off grid and we can’t store the energy we create and we can’t just transmit it somewhere else it’s needed.  Although there is some really smart thinking going on around your EV being your power buffer, but that simply doesn’t work when you may need to get in it and drive it 300 miles without charging it…

For 3, we have an even bigger issue.  The US and the EU have accused China of dumping solar products on them.  Erm, I humbly submit that this is economy of scale and not dumping.  If you want to lead in the world, you have to pay to trailblaze.  Pharma has been doing it for decades.  However that’s not the point.  The point is the EU just slapped a 45% tax on Chinese PV products.  Which means the UK and the rest of the EU just saw their PV plans set back a couple of decades.

For 4, just what are we going to do?  It’s only cars which are EV, nobody has even mooted a truck for EV.  EV cars are made of very light construction to reduce the power draw as much as possible.  Trucks are designed to haul great loads.  Are we going to move to Hydrogen?  That’s even worse.  Currently I’m working for the company that has the largest production of hydrogen in the world.  It’s created by using massive amounts of electricity, so much so that the company has a very sophisticated command and control centre in the southern hemisphere which manages cost by source of electricity.  Electricity almost totally produced by coal.

The only possible way I can see renewables filling the baseload power equation is if we use HDR Geothermal and I’m not talking steam powered from fracture chamber, which you have to move every decade as the lost water saturates the hot rock strata. I’m talking about insulated thermal conduction.  Which as far as I know doesn’t even exist today y but it’s so obvious that they will get there in a decade or two.

Then let’s think about renewables  such as hydrogen and ethanol replacing traditional fuels.  Not only would we have to create fuel processing to generate the same calorific value as we use for transport today, but we would also have to transport and store it ready for vehicles.  OK hydrogen can be piped, but, probably, only in liquid form as it’s way too hard to seal the pipes against hydrogen gas.  That requires a massive investment in transport infrastructure.

Even then we desperately need to produce a much more efficient IC engine for our cars and trucks. Something which will be a good stopgap in reducing emissions today and will radically reduce the amount of renewable fuels we need to produce and transport in the future.

Is anyone even listening to any ideas for an improved IC engine?  The answer to that is a resounding NO.  Everyone is on EV and the “next new thing”.  Nobody is thinking about transition.  Current Turbo Diesel engines, at absolute maximum efficiency, waste 59% of the potential  fuel energy put into them.  Let alone mechanical advantage, the IC engine is all mechanical and thermal disadvantage.  Also less than 5% of the vehicles on the road in any country are running at maximum efficiency for more than 60% of the time.  My journey to work in the morning, by car, averages about 22mph and I reach >70mph in some stages.  I bought a large motorcycle.  It does 50mpg on average…

Add to all of that, the fact that EU governments are pulling subsidies from PV installations faster than you can say “what no return” and the idea of renewables hitting a tipping point is risible.  Yes they are making gains, but, as Jim says, they are hitting serious resistance in the UK now.  People don’t’ like them, don’t want them and are willing to stand up and fight to stop them.  They’re even willing to stand up and fight to get rid of them.

If we work extremely hard to solve the core problems we have, then renewables may play a large part in the future of electricity generation.  However, in the UK today, the funding is following a more traditional path.  Biomass is getting a lot of funding and we’re putting in straw burners (and other burners), around the country.  Sweden produces 73% of its baseload power with biomass.

I’d think my ideas for tidal positive/negative buoyancy power generation or my (totally off the wall), ideas for a gravity engine would be quite useful in this. But I have neither time not space to play with them and everyone is too busy to even listen to an unknown.  They’re all busy running around trying to convince people that wind and PV is the only way to go….
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on May 24, 2013, 07:00:28 PM
That's a long one, Neil.  Let me start with only one part - EVs.

Quote
4. EV  is going to triple our energy requirements or even more.  We can’t shift the calorific energy content of vehicle fuels to Electric and expect the same supply to support it.  That simply won’t work.

First, we don't have to replace the energy now used in ICEVs, we have to replace only the energy that does work.  About 80% of the energy in liquid fuels is turns into wasted heat.  ICEVs are about 20% efficient, EVs are about 90% efficient.

Then, there is a lot of energy used in extracting, refining and distributing petroleum.  Some of it electricity.  With EVs we don't need to use fossil fuels for the extracting, etc. stuff and we could send the electricity directly to EVs.

EVs are going to mostly charge at night.  In the US were all cars and light trucks to magically turn into EVs overnight we could charge 70% of them with existing capacity and transmission. 

EVs on the grid will create more market for off-peak power which will make wind farms more profitable.  Onshore wind in the US tends to blow harder at night when the wholesale price of electricity is low.  Increase off-peak demand and wind turbine installation will accelerate.  (And that means more less-expensive electricity for the daytime grid.)

We're also seeing that people who drive EVs and PHEVs are more likely to put solar panels on their roofs.  That's a second way that EVs create more renewable energy capacity.

There are electric trucks on the road right now.  You can buy an electric delivery van if you want one.  Large companies such as FedEx, Pepsi and UPS are testing EVs trucks in their delivery fleets.  A 100 mile range is fine for in-town deliveries.  We've got battery powered buses on the road now.  We're using electric trucks to move shipping containers in our ports.  We're doing heavy work in mines with electric machinery, some battery powered.
--

If you were a normal 13,000 mile per year US driver doing your miles in a Nissan LEAF and using 0.3 kWh/mile you'd need about 2.5 kW of solar panels to produce all the electricity you'd need for the next 40+ years. 

Germany is installing rooftop solar at less than $2/watt.  That's $5,000 for something close to a lifetime supply.  About $10 a month for "fuel".  Wind is even cheaper.

EVs make so much financial sense that we'll install plenty of capacity to charge them.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on May 24, 2013, 07:22:14 PM
Quote
For 3, we have an even bigger issue.  The US and the EU have accused China of dumping solar products on them.  Erm, I humbly submit that this is economy of scale and not dumping.

This is probably something we shouldn't get too worried about.  Panel prices are so low that adding even a 45% penalty is not likely to slow installation very much.  It would be a move from 60 to 87 cents per watt.  Studies in the US have found that the US trade penalties would have little effect on installation rates.

Plus China, the US and the EU are in talks which will probably smooth all this out.

And if it doesn't, solar panels have a very low labor input.  They can be manufactured about as cheaply in Europe or the US as in China.  If China is creating an unfair advantage for their panels we can block them and ramp up production in our own plants.  Our production cost would be very similar to China's.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on May 24, 2013, 07:33:57 PM
Quote
2. Generation is OK but we have to have conversion.  Line loss on DC is horrific. So we need to produce AC at acceptable voltages to reduce line loss

No, DC works better for long distance transmission.  We lose a bit at each end with the AC/high voltage DC conversion and DC/AC but HVDC is an excellent way to ship electricity long distances.

Inverters are very efficient, going from solar panel DC to grid AC.

You also get into off-grid in your #2 discussion...

Going off-grid doesn't make sense for most people.  I've been off-grid for over 20 years, I have some experience.

Off-grid makes sense when 1) the cost of hooking to the grid is expensive ($300,000 for me) or 2) the cost of grid electricity is extremely high (Hawaii, for example).

Off-grid means having a backup generation method.  Purchasing enough batteries to carry one through several days of cloudy weather would be extremely expensive.  Few people want to deal with a generator.

Off-grid is not cheap electricity.  Battery storage costs at least $0.18/kWh.  Add in solar system costs and backup generation costs.  I'm going to guess going off-grid means electricity costs of well over $0.20/kWh and probably over $0.25.

 
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on May 24, 2013, 07:40:20 PM
Quote
1. Store and forward.  We have to be able to store terawatts of power generated by renewables at inconvenient times (middle of the night/day) and be able to draw on it afterwards.  Ditto with tidal.  Tides don't come in and out at the same time, they vary with the moon cycles.

It's not as bad as you imagine.  There are a number of studies that use real time supply and demand data to model what a renewable grid would look like.  You can access some of them here -

http://cleantechnica.com/70-80-99-9-100-renewables-study-central/ (http://cleantechnica.com/70-80-99-9-100-renewables-study-central/)

Let me paste in a summary of one that I wrote a while back.  This is a study which took on the claim "You can't run a real world grid with wind and sunshine, they're too variable".  Because of that they limited their inputs to only wind and solar.

(Oops, I'll paste it in later.  Google Drive isn't working.)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on May 24, 2013, 09:27:54 PM
OK, Google got CPR and is back on the job...

This is a "could we run a real world grid with only wind, solar and storage and do it for a reasonable price?".  It's not an attempt to design the efficient/least expensive 100% renewable grid.


Researchers at University of Delaware used four years of weather and electricity demand/load data in one minute blocks to determine 1) if a combination of wind, solar and storage could meet 99.9% of demand and 2) the most cost effective mix of each to meet demand.

The data for 1999 through 2002 came from the PJM Interconnection, a large regional grid that services all or part of 13 states from New Jersey west to Illinois, from Pennsylvania south into Tennessee and North Carolina.  This is the world's largest competitive wholesale electricity market, serving 60 million customers, and it represents one-fifth of the United States' total electric grid.

They used currently available technology and its projected price in 2030.  They included no subsidies for wind and solar in their calculation.  They did not include hydro, nuclear, tidal or other possible inputs.  They also did not include power sales to and purchases from adjacent grids.  They used three existing storage technologies - large scale batteries, hydrogen and GIV (grid integrated vehicles).

They found that by 2030 we could obtain 99.9% of our electricity from renewable energy/storage and the remainder 0.1% from fossil fuels for about what we currently pay “all-in” for electricity.  The all-in price of electricity which includes coal and oil produced health costs currently paid via tax dollars and health insurance premiums.

During the four year period there were five brief periods, a total of 35 hours, when renewables plus storage were insufficient to fully power the grid and natural gas plants came into play.  These were summer days when wind supply was low and demand was high.  The cheapest way to cover these ~7 hour events was to use existing natural gas plants rather than to build additional storage.  Adding in hydro, tidal, etc. would further reduce this number.

After 28 billion simulations using differing amount of wind, solar, storage and fossil fuels they found the best solution was to over-build wind and solar and at times simply "throw away" some of the produced power.  Building "too much" wind and solar turns out to be cheaper than building more storage given the storage solutions we have at this time.  Finding markets for the extra production, selling electricity to offset natural gas heating for example,  further reduced costs.

Budischak, Sewell, Thomson, Mach, Veron, and Kempton   Cost-minimized combinations of wind power, solar power and electrochemical storage, powering the grid up to 99.9% of the time  Journal of Power Sources 225 (2013) 60-74

https://docs.google.com/file/d/1NrBZJejkUTRYJv5YE__kBFuecdDL2pDTvKLyBjfCPr_8yR7eCTDhLGm8oEPo/edit

Remember, this is a "worst case" study.  Add in hydro, tidal, geothermal, and residual nuclear and the price drops because less storage will be needed.  The same happens when there is exchange of power between grids.

And those 2030 wind and solar prices?  The authors used somewhat dated (2010) projections.  Current prices have already brought the cost of wind down to their projected 2030 level and solar is already cheaper than their 2030 numbers. 

We almost certainly will have better/cheaper storage than they used in their study.  It's coming on line now.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Jim Hunt on May 24, 2013, 11:16:59 PM
Hi Bob,

We've had a similar discussion before. Remember that this isn't actually a "worst case" study. Some simplifying assumptions made by the UD team that aren't actually valid in "the real world":

"We simplify our grid model by assuming perfect transmission within PJM"

"We did not include additional computing-intensive considerations, such as how much additional transmission is optimum, or reliability issues not related to renewable resource fluctuations"
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on May 25, 2013, 07:40:02 AM
OK, take away a few percent if it makes you happy, Jim.

I'm not going to dick around with you over grid transmission losses or other issues outside the parameters set. 

If you paid attention, this is not a "real world best case design for the optimal renewable energy grid".  It does not include other renewable generation such as hydro, geothermal, tidal or biomass/gas.  It doesn't include power exchanges with adjacent grids.  It does not include load-shifting. 

Bringing those generators and options on the grid lowers variability and decreases the amount of storage needed.

These things combined far, far outweigh transmission losses.

It uses projected prices that are already lower than anticipated by 2030.  They use $2,848/kW for PV capital cost in 2030.  A new array just went on line in the UK for $1,600/kW.  They use $1,202/kW for wind capital cost in 2030.  Wind is now being installed in the US as low as $1,130/kW.  Prices will almost certainly continue to fall, especially solar.

Transmission losses are nothing compared to how rapidly renewable prices are falling.

If a couple percentage points of distribution losses is that important to you then pay no attention to this study.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Jim Hunt on May 25, 2013, 01:46:49 PM
Bob - I am paying attention, and taking away a few percent wouldn't make me happy. I'm not primarily referring to "grid transmission losses", but to a variety of "other issues outside the parameters set" which you continually neglect to address. Another quote from the UD paper:

Quote
A single renewable generator at one site produces intermittent power, we seek combinations of diverse renewables at diverse sites, with storage, that are not intermittent and satisfy need a given fraction of hours.

There are technical issues associated with getting such "combinations" of diverse supply and diverse demand to work reliably. Here's an example of the sort of thing that can go wrong, courtesy of the American Institute of Physics:

What's wrong with the electric grid? (http://www.aip.org/tip/INPHFA/vol-9/iss-5/p8.html)

You appear to be relying on a "market based" solution to such issues, but even if China gave away unlimited supplies of PV panels free of charge such technical problems wouldn't go away. They could certainly be solved, albeit at non-zero cost, so that just leaves the financial and political problems.

Transmission losses are nothing compared to the price of building a grid that works reliably.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on May 25, 2013, 08:43:52 PM
Improving our grids so that they work more reliably is an issue separate from whether it is possible to run a grid with only solar and wind inputs.

The Budischak, et al. paper deals with the hypothetical "What if we had nothing but variable wind and solar?  Could we run a grid?"  A worst case for available inputs.

Our grid problems exist now, when most of our generation is thermal, nuclear and hydro.  We are in the process of making our grid "smarter" which will make it more reliable and decrease the current ~6% transmission and distribution losses.

Having large generators on line actually make it harder to make a grid reliable.  When one goes down unexpectedly it becomes a major headache to keep the grid operating.  Wind and solar are more dispersed and they don't go down unexpectedly in large numbers.

Plus, with the future renewable grid it looks like we will be installing storage at the "neighborhood" level with shipping container sized storage units being installed around the grid.  This makes local grids more dependable and will help cut electricity losses. 

(Some transmission/distribution loss comes from heat loss when the amount on power being transmitted overloads the carrying capacity of the line.   If we can store locally and charge up when demand is low then we can pull from storage when demand is high and decrease the amount we have to ship in to the area.)
--

I don't think the market will save us.  At least it won't save us "soon enough". 

We need citizen and government action in order to get fossil fuels off our grids and off our highways quickly.

The market is gearing up to install the solar we need.  Solar has hitting grid parity in more and more countries.  People and companies are saving money by installing solar and utility companies are installing solar in order to avoid more expensive peak demand sourcing.

Walmart, Ikea and other large corporations are putting panels on their roofs because it saves them money.  It increases their profits.

Individuals are installing so much solar in Australia (where the installed cost is under $2/W) that fossil fuel interests are starting to panic.

The market is also installing wind.  Wind is currently slightly more expensive than combined cycle natural gas, but the price of wind is locked in for 30+ years and most expect the price of gas to rise as time goes along.

But we need to accelerate the movement away from fossil fuels.  The market, alone, won't get us there fast enough.  We're already too late to keep climate change from hurting us.  Our option now deals with how badly we are willing to let ourselves be hurt going forward.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on May 25, 2013, 09:53:50 PM
Jim, take a look at the sidebar on your link - the chronology of a grid failure on August 14, 2003.

http://www.aip.org/tip/INPHFA/vol-9/iss-5/p8.html (http://www.aip.org/tip/INPHFA/vol-9/iss-5/p8.html)

"While Mid West ISO and First Energy controllers try to understand the failures, they fail to inform system controllers in nearby states."

"Many transmission lines trip out, first in Michigan and then in Ohio, blocking the eastward flow of power. Generators go down, creating a huge power deficit. In seconds, power surges out of the East, tripping East coast generators to protect them, and the blackout is on."

The whole episode reads as a series of events which humans can't understand and control fast enough to keep the larger grid from collapsing.  The same thing happened again not long ago...

Quote
The Great Southwestern Blackout of 2011 is full of lessons for critical infrastructure protection. We don’t have a lot of details as of this writing about what Arizona Power Service is calling an “employee-generated event,” but it demonstrates that the nation’s power grid is interconnected and fragmented, fragile and resilient, and that we don’t have to wait for our enemies to attack us.

The lights began going out about 3:30 p.m. Pacific Time on Sept. 8, when the North Gila–Hassayampa 500 kilovolt transmission line near Yuma in the southwest corner of Arizona tripped off line, according to APS. The resulting power outage cascaded into Southern California and northern Mexico, leaving more than 5 million people without power at its peak.

Power had been restored to most if not all customers by dawn Sept. 9, although a nuclear power plant that generates power for San Diego remained offline after an automatic shutdown.

A screw-up in Arizona knocked nuclear reactors offline in California.

Installing smart switches in the grid will allow a computer to open needed circuits and isolate problems like those rather than letting them cascade through the system.  And utility operators will know exactly where and what the  problem is.

Right now if a tree falls across a power line crews have to get in their trucks and start driving routes to find where and what the problem is.  With the smart grid maintenance crews will be informed exactly where to head.  And the grid will have already gotten most customers back on line by move service to different lines. 

All this is totally separate from moving to renewables.  It is a necessary and unrelated cost.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: ghoti on May 26, 2013, 03:49:04 AM
Thanks Bob for pointing this out. I was going to refer to the huge outage in 2003 which occurred long before those pesky renewables were online. Crappy grids and terrible grid management have nothing to do with intermittent renewable power sources. Quebec didn't lose power in that huge outage because they had already effectively firewalled themselves off by using DC transmission to their huge US customers. The power failure stopped at the Quebec border.

The management of supply and demand both of which have always been variable is a normal well understood process. Sure smart grids might make it easier but it is nothing new. Watch this video about the UK national gird for more.

National Grid | Fully Charged (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vX0G9F42puY#ws)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Jim Hunt on May 26, 2013, 12:41:00 PM
Bob - Surely that "necessary and unrelated cost" still has to be paid somehow. Who's going to foot the bill? One of the reasons why I linked to that article is that apart from "the chronology of a grid failure" it also refers to the (perhaps unanticipated?) side effects of changing "the markets". From the "How to fix it" section:

Quote
The solution advocated by deregulation critics would revise the rules to put them back into accord with the grid physics.

If "the markets" won't solve the problem unaided, should government get involved and impose revised regulations? In practice that doesn't seem to be what's happening. Another proposed solution:

Quote
Change the grid physically to accommodate the new trading patterns, mainly by expanding transmission capacity.

According to the National Grid spokesman in ghoti's video (at around 9 minutes) when asked about "the key thing" needed to integrate renewable generation:

Quote
There's no substitute for "wires in the sky". Network reinforcement, getting more throughput through existing overhead lines.

Unfortunately that doesn't seem to be happening. According to the latest ENTSO-e annual report (https://www.entsoe.eu/news-events/announcements/newssingleview/article/the-entso-e-annual-report-2012-europes-low-carbon-challenge-and-the-electricity-network/?tx_ttnews) (using slightly strange English!) the cost is actually necessary and related:

Quote
Substantial transmission system upgrading and new power lines are indispensable to meet the requirements of the internal electricity market (IEM) and to integrate of ever larger quantities of renewable energy (RES).

Unfortunately they also say that:

Quote
Roughly one third of the infrastructure projects planned in 2010 are already delayed. Together with the European Commission, we are
now looking at ways to make the public more aware of the need to invest in the European grid.

Do you think the European public will be happy to pick up the tab? Alternatively should government get involved and fund the construction of more transmission lines?


 
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: NeilT on May 26, 2013, 03:53:26 PM
Do you think the European public will be happy to pick up the tab? Alternatively should government get involved and fund the construction of more transmission lines?

Not a chance.  Although the very unrepresentative nature of the EU, where the institutions are not directly answerable to the public at large, means that they can pretty much force their will on the EU at large.

Although, as can be seen (http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/904121cc-c569-11e2-af7a-00144feab7de.html#axzz2UKm2y8Lp), the British government is not supporting infrastructural changes for renewables.

Bob, you say that the study shows that renewables could provide all but 35 hours of power which could easily be filled in by natural gas...

OK that's at current power usage.  We all know areas of the US are at almost brown out levels right now.  At home in France if you try and bake a cake or cook Jam at 6-8pm you are stuffed because the power drop is horrific, you simply can't get full power out of your kitchen appliances.  The UK is heading this way too.

So what happens when 1m people come home from work and plug their EV in and cook their evening meal and it's a cloudy day without a breath of wind?

This is what baseload power is all about and these scenarios are going to be very real very shortly.  Current renewables simply won't meet that requirement, no matter how we wish it to be so.  Also people don't want to change.  Asking people to change their lifestyle so that Government's don't have to build the infrastructures that are required for the modern world is a vote loser.  In the end, national politics are driven by votes.

We have to stop producing academia "pie in the sky" studies which we know will never fly and start working on real world broad spectrum clean energy initiatives.  Anything else and Governments will try to do it on the cheap.

It is now common knowledge in that 90% of the windmills in the UK do not even reach the projected 30% of potential power delivered, on an annual basis.  It is also common knowledge that in the UK it is feast or famine with many windmills either dormant due to lack of wind or stopped due to producing more power than the local grid requires at that time.  This is mainly due to the lack of a good power storage device, but this is not going to change on a country wide basis for a long time.

But you simply can’t hold up a vertical study and say this is the pattern for the future.  It is so easy for the deniers to throw reality in your face and say that you are trying to drag us back into the 19th century or even before.  If we are going to have action and movement, we have to have the right action and movement.  We can’t afford to go down the wrong track or we’ll be like China, one new coal fired power station a month, to meet the growing demand.

Britain has plenty of coal and open cast mining is ever more feasible.  All we need is an excuse to use it and Oil/Gas prices to rise enough to make it viable.

If there is no joined up holistic approach then we will wind up with the worst of all possible solutions.  All for the want of a bit of reality and planning for the future.  I don’t see that planning but I do see a lot of noise about how the piecemeal work being done now is “good for us” and how “EV on Coal is better than IC”.  Neither of which, in my opinion, is a recipe for success.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on May 26, 2013, 06:06:21 PM
Jim, I haven't tracked grid improvements around the world.  I can tell you that we are doing grid improvement in the US.  Progress differs from grid to grid, but overall our grid is getting smarter. 

China is also starting to work on its grid problems, which are quite significant.

The need for grid modernization has nothing to do with renewable energy.  It's something that needs to be done, and will be done, regardless of generation method.

It's cheaper to not waste power.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on May 26, 2013, 06:27:14 PM
Quote
We all know areas of the US are at almost brown out levels right now.  At home in France if you try and bake a cake or cook Jam at 6-8pm you are stuffed because the power drop is horrific, you simply can't get full power out of your kitchen appliances.  The UK is heading this way too.

So what happens when 1m people come home from work and plug their EV in and cook their evening meal and it's a cloudy day without a breath of wind?

This is what baseload power is all about and these scenarios are going to be very real very shortly.  Current renewables simply won't meet that requirement, no matter how we wish it to be so. 

No, baseload is not how we deal with variable demand.  We need dispatchable generation or storage to meet changes in demand. 

Right now we are largely using natural gas to deal with demand changes.  As time goes along we will almost certainly replace natural gas with stored renewable electricity.  The "pie in the sky" study I summarized is one of many who show us that this a feasible route forward.

(EVs are unlikely to be charged as soon as people get home.  Most likely their charging will be dispatchable load controlled by the grid.  By letting grid managers decide what hours your EV charges you will get the best price.)



Quote
Also people don't want to change.  Asking people to change their lifestyle so that Government's don't have to build the infrastructures that are required for the modern world is a vote loser.  In the end, national politics are driven by votes.

You're right, people do not want to change.  I don't think people are going to be required to change their lifestyles. 

They'll get their light from LEDs that use 1/5th as much electricity as incandescents but the amount and quality of light will be the same.

Their refers, washing machines, dryers, TVs and computers will work exactly the same but use less electricity.  (eta:  ...will work better and use less electricity.)

Their vehicles will let them skip visiting gas stations and cost them less to drive, so this will actually be a lifestyle improvement.

Right now in the US we have reduced coal from generating over 50% of our electricity to about 35%.  Wind is now producing 3.5% or more of our electricity.  Some of our electricity is now coming from solar.  I've heard exactly no one complain that the quality of electricity coming out of their outlets is different.

Quote
It is now common knowledge in that 90% of the windmills in the UK do not even reach the projected 30% of potential power delivered, on an annual basis.

The UK's good wind is offshore.  Last I heard capacity was in the 50% range.

The UK may need to resize its turbines/blades.  Capacity is largely a matter of putting the correct hardware in a location.  Manufacturers are now building turbines/blades for lower wind areas.  We're past the 'one size fits all' phase.

People in the UK need to abandon their knuckle-headed idea that they need to generate the electricity they consume on a 24/365 basis.  It's too small and area to be 100% self-sufficient at an affordable price.

Use the areas around you.  Trade your extra wind into the European grid and take back southern Europe solar or northern Europe hydro. 

(Read up on E-Highway 2050.)



Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on May 26, 2013, 10:38:59 PM
To return to the point of the thread, that renewables seem to have reached a tipping point, I just ran across come installed solar prices for Australia.

Currently the nationwide average for rooftop solar is $1.88/watt and solar is being installed as low as $1.44/watt.  These are prices that move the cost of solar-generated electricity well below $0.10/kWh.

http://www.solarchoice.net.au/blog/solar-pv-price-index-may-2013/ (http://www.solarchoice.net.au/blog/solar-pv-price-index-may-2013/)

These prices are knocking the stuffing out of coal plants in Australia.  Large losses are starting to appear and the coal industry is mounting a major counter attack in hopes of killing, or at least slowing, the growth of solar.

http://reneweconomy.com.au/2013/how-fossil-fuel-incumbents-hope-to-tame-solar-juggernaut-57147 (http://reneweconomy.com.au/2013/how-fossil-fuel-incumbents-hope-to-tame-solar-juggernaut-57147)
(A good read.)

A new large array was just brought on line in the UK for $1.60/watt.  The $2/watt threshold has been crossed.  We're heading for $1/watt before 2020.

Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: NeilT on May 27, 2013, 03:26:21 AM
The cost of the components have dropped drastically over the last 3 years.

http://www.off-grid-europe.com/solar_cells_and_accessories/solar_cell_kits/1kw_a-grade_3x6_solar_cell_kit_for_diy_solar_panel (http://www.off-grid-europe.com/solar_cells_and_accessories/solar_cell_kits/1kw_a-grade_3x6_solar_cell_kit_for_diy_solar_panel)

But I don't believe that we are near a tipping point for pervasive solar, wind or HDR geothermal.  Mainly due to the issues Jim has brought out and the issues with the way they create HDR today.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on May 27, 2013, 05:38:36 AM
The cells in your link seem to be unmounted.  They aren't really solar panels, they're the cells one uses to make panels.  You've got to provide the cover glass, backing panel (glass/whatever), frame and wiring.

Current panel prices in the US are running from $0.53/watt (low thin-film) and $0.60/watt (low silicon) to an average of $0.65 (thin-film) and $0.73 (silicon).

You can choose to not believe that we are at a tipping point, but world wide installation data suggests you aren't correct.  Installed solar is now cheaper than grid electricity in over 100 countries.  Wind is very close to the price of natural gas generation and installing wind locks in that price for 25 to 30 years.  Gas is almost certainly going to get more expensive over time.


(What's HDR?)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Artful Dodger on May 27, 2013, 07:52:53 AM
Good points, Bob. Agreed. It's time to join the 21st Century  8)

BTW, HDR (hot dry rock (http://www.ees.lanl.gov/ees11/geophysics/other/hdr.shtml)) is a scheme for geothermal energy extraction.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: NeilT on May 27, 2013, 01:39:19 PM
Bob, the cells are unmounted. That is the only way to get truly cheap panels in the UK today, make them yourself.

Completed panels in the UK are still running at around £1 to £3 per watt ($1.5 to $4.5).  Then you have to add the EU anti dumping tax which pushes the price up to around $2 a watt (cheapest), which is far and away beyond the prices you are talking about.

If you want to go for used equipment, including batteries which have exceeded their 3 year warrantied life, but are supposed to be good for 10 years, then you can get close to the US prices, but nothing from a leading main supplier.

Even then, if you really want people to go for home solar, they have to have off grid capability tied to the grid.  There simply isn't enough lead or copper, easily available, to do this for everyone.  The price of copper is currently skyrocketing; I know I have buildings to plumb.  This is driven by demand and demand is not going to drop with a huge jump in renewables.

Yes necessity will drive design and there are some interesting innovations out there including very cheap and easy to build square wave generators which don't use any copper at all.  But that restricts you to applications such as water heaters and electric showers.  You can't even use it for cookers, air con or washing machines due to the sensitive electronics now embedded in them.  Also 230v DC is absolutely lethal and square wave generators just switch, they don't transform.

This I have studied for years as I wish to get my home off the grid and into my own control for management of bills and also management of supply in any crisis. I don’t have renewable issues for power, I have a nuclear power station 30 miles downriver.  Yes I know it’s not renewable, but you know what I mean, it doesn’t pollute that much CO2 for the power it generates.

Simply wishing for renewables to hit a tipping point is not going to overcome a very large number of obstacles.  Cost of PV cells is only a very small part of the entire infrastructure.  Not insignificant, but not the critical part either.  Using extremely large generators with a small number of generating sets, transmitted over the country by wire, is one of the most efficient in terms of materials.  If it wasn’t, we’d have done something else a long, long time ago.  Witness Tesla AC won over Edison DC for this very reason.

Try pricing out a system.  Cells, wire, connectors, mounting kits, inverter.  For off grid, batteries, charge controllers, more wire.  Battery duty cycles and maintenance.  Over provisioning for high draw low input events.

Inverter prices, per watt can be two or three times the price of solar cells if you really want to run your home on them and if you are going to build farms, they you need even bigger inverters.  Costs of inverters do not decrease with scale, they increase.  Try buying a 15kw inverter.  Then look for a 25kw one if you can find one.  25kw of solar cells may only cost you $15k but your inverter will cost you $25k to $50k.  Then if you want to push this level of power into the local grid you are going to have to transform it up to thousands of volts or the line loss will kill you.  Care to guess the cost of such transformers on the scale of low density dispersed rural power production???

As I see it today, small scale renewables are already pushing the boundaries of our capabilities. We need a sea change in the way we produce, store and use power and it’s simply not happening fast enough to get rid of the grid and large dirty power stations.

So, as I say, HDR geothermal power stations are a feasible replacement for large centralised power stations, backed by local renewables.  But only if we stop pumping water into the ground and doing a steam dance…
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on May 27, 2013, 06:23:53 PM
Neil, I've never suggested that people go "off the grid".  I've been off the grid for over 20 years and I very well know that is not the solution for most people.  Going off the grid makes sense only when the cost of connecting to the grid is excessive ($300,000 in my case).

The price of grid-connected solar has reached grid parity in many countries.  Rooftop, grid-connected solar installed at Germany and Australia prices would be cheaper than the price of electricity in more than 100 countries.

Utility scale solar, installed at UK, German and US prices is cheaper than electricity from gas peaker plants.

This is the tipping point.  When electricity from solar becomes cheaper than electricity from other, conventional sources.

Wind crossed this threshold years ago.  New wind generation is very much cheaper than new coal or nuclear.

We've tipped.  Installation rates are accelerating. 
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: NeilT on May 27, 2013, 10:25:53 PM
We've tipped.  Installation rates are accelerating.

Only because we're not building new centralised installations.  If we did that, only one or two a year, the installation rates of renewables would fall back again.

The reason I mentioned off grid is that it is a storage mechanism which could be fed back at peak times or used at peak times to balance the grid.

But, again, even grid tie inverters use too much copper to make this possible on a truly large scale.

We need better solutions and they are not coming fast enough.  Right now what is happening is that pressure is building for centralised solutions.  As the cap on fossil power continues, that pressure will continue to grow.  As EV expands our power consumption, then that pressure will become even greater.  When the pressure becomes unbearable, words like Joe Romm's "at least coal powered EV is better than gasoline" will be used to create new coal power plants.

That, sadly, is the reality of life.  If we do not solve the material issues bounding local renewables and their link to the grid, then we will fail.  I don't see that being addresses right now.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on May 27, 2013, 11:10:42 PM

Quote
Only because we're not building new centralised installations.  If we did that, only one or two a year, the installation rates of renewables would fall back again.

We are building new centralized installations.  We're building wind farms and large solar arrays.  The reason we're building wind farms and solar arrays rather than nuclear and coal plants is because we reached the tipping point at which wind and solar became cheaper than coal or nuclear to bring on line.

Quote
But, again, even grid tie inverters use too much copper to make this possible on a truly large scale.

I do not believe this is correct.  I've been observing the prices of inverters dropping over time.  And, clearly, we are seeing large scale solar come on line both at the utility and roof-top size.  Had inverters become too expensive we would see a decrease in solar installations and not the large increase we have experienced.

The price of copper in inverters is part of the price of an installed solar system.  While the price of copper might be rising (actually it's been falling since mid-2010), the price of installed solar has been dropping quite rapidly.  It's down 50% in Germany in the last two years.

EVs coming on line will almost certainly fuel the installation of new wind turbines, not coal plants.  EVs and wind are practically made for each other.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: crandles on May 27, 2013, 11:33:08 PM
Only because we're not building new centralised installations.  If we did that, only one or two a year, the installation rates of renewables would fall back again.

I guess you might think that for wind. However, more wind installations driving price down towards marginal cost of zero is more of a consideration than new centralised FF plants. More centralised FF plants would provide some comfort that at least you can beat their marginal cost.

I don't see new centralised installations having much effect on rooftop installations. Price of installation versus cost of buying electricity is the consideration in this situation. Cost of buying electric might fall with excess supply but that doesn't seem very likely to me.

So I don't really see your argument. Cost of installation of renewables is falling faster than other costs are changing so I would expect that to be the prime source of change not the number of new centralised installations.

Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on May 28, 2013, 12:06:51 AM
Neil, here is what has been happening with solar.  These are accelerating curves and it is expected we'll see even more increase in 2013.


(https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi619.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Ftt275%2FBob_Wall%2FGlobalInstalledSolar2012.jpg&hash=1f271b928be9decd9f2c7c41aff26e4a) (http://s619.photobucket.com/user/Bob_Wall/media/GlobalInstalledSolar2012.jpg.html)


eta:  The following graph is US electricity generated by solar.  The vertical axis should be Thousand Megawatt Hours.  Sorry.

(https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi619.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Ftt275%2FBob_Wall%2FUSElectricityfromSolar.jpg&hash=6645c1d7bafe736b2c792a284dbe8b17) (http://s619.photobucket.com/user/Bob_Wall/media/USElectricityfromSolar.jpg.html)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on May 28, 2013, 12:11:09 AM
Here's PV solar without the thermal solar contribution through 2012....

(https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi0.wp.com%2Fcleantechnica.com%2Ffiles%2F2013%2F05%2Fglobal-solar-PV-capacity-growth.png&hash=1c1501e6073cfb48e9439ba8ec18777e)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Artful Dodger on May 28, 2013, 07:54:53 AM
here is what has been happening with wind and solar.

(https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi619.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Ftt275%2FBob_Wall%2FUSElectricityfromSolar.jpg&hash=6645c1d7bafe736b2c792a284dbe8b17) (http://s619.photobucket.com/user/Bob_Wall/media/USElectricityfromSolar.jpg.html)

Hi Bob,

1800 Thousand Megawatts of solar capacity in 2011? Are you sure about the units? That's 1.5 Terawatts (https://www.google.com/search?q=1%2C800%2C000+megawatts+in+terawatts)! Do you have a reference for the data?

At any rate, it's impressive growth! I've enjoyed solar charged electric transportation since May 2000, and my 13 year old panels are still producing electricity at full rated capacity.  :)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on May 28, 2013, 08:49:41 AM
Quote
1800 Thousand Megawatts of solar capacity in 2011?

Clearly a mistake, sorry.  I grabbed the incorrect graph and the vertical axis is not labeled correctly on this one. 

The second bar graph I posted for solar is US electricity generated from solar panels and solar thermal by year.  The vertical axis should be Thousand Megawatt Hours.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on May 28, 2013, 08:58:16 AM
Here's global cumulative installed wind capacity by year.  A 19% increase from 2011 to 2012. 

(https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.gwec.net%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2012%2F06%2FGlobal-Cumulative-Installed-Wind-Capacity-1996-20122.jpg&hash=b13626dc778f3a31dcb459cfcf67c044)

Source:
http://www.gwec.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Global-Cumulative-Installed-Wind-Capacity-1996-20122.jpg (http://www.gwec.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Global-Cumulative-Installed-Wind-Capacity-1996-20122.jpg)                              
               
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Artful Dodger on May 28, 2013, 09:06:00 AM
Thank, Bob. I really appreciate your posts!  ;D

I just did a quick estimate of 2012 global installed wind capacity. I got about 230 GW for the top 10 countries. So sounds good.  8)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on May 28, 2013, 09:33:53 AM
Since 1996 we have average a 27% annual increase in the amount of wind capacity installed world-wide.  And since 2000 we've averaged a 43% annual increase in solar installed world-wide. 

I expect we'll see a very large increase in 2013 and the years following.  With solar now under $2/watt, even at the end-user rooftop level, it's going to take off.  Countries which have had little renewable power are starting to install large solar arrays.

We're going to see some real scrambling on the part of utility companies as they devise new business plans.  Coal and nuclear are being hurt and the pain is going to increase.  Midday demand peaks are going to start disappearing in more countries than just Germany.  This will not be your father's utility company.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Artful Dodger on May 28, 2013, 09:45:41 AM
We're going to see some real scrambling on the part of utility companies as they devise new business plans.
Hi Bob,

I think solar will do to utilities what Netflix did to your neighborhood Video store.  ;)

Companies with a business model based on leased home solar installations will thrive. People want a low capital solution, and business wants a reliable income stream. It will happen.  8)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on May 28, 2013, 10:03:10 AM
Yeah, but the Sun doesn't shine 24/365 while Netflix streams around the clock.

We're going to need the grid to supply power when solar isn't and move solar from those who have panels to those who don't.

If you put panels on your roof you generally make about 5x your rate of use when the Sun is shining.  You use 1x, send 4x away to the grid and take that power back when the Sun goes shy. 

(4.5 solar hours / 24 hours = 18.75%. One out of five.))

Optimal solar means that only 1 out of 5 roofs needs solar installed.  That capacity will supply all needs while the Sun is out.  Got to distribute that 4x around town.

The hot, sunny hours has been when electricity generators made the most money, if they were selling into a merit order pricing system.  Now those most profitable hours will be wiped out.

Utilities that own coal and nuclear are going to see more hours when their output has little value.  It's already getting whacked by wind and natural gas during off-peak.

We're going to need other generation (and storage) for the other 4 out of 5 hours.  That, and the distribution system, have to be paid for.  Financial model has to change.  We need the "video store" to stay in business.
--

I'm not sure solar  leasing is going to be a huge business.  With solar dropping under $2/watt installed we're under $10k for a sizable solar system.  I suspect $10k is a financial psychological threshold.  More people are going to be willing to purchase if the price is under $10k and won't opt for leasing.

As solar approaches $1/watt I doubt many will lease unless it's a relatively short 'lease to own' program for people who don't have great credit.
 
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: NeilT on May 29, 2013, 03:02:44 AM
The graphs are good Bob, but I spend my days dealing with migrations.  l spend my days trying to get people to understand small scale %'s as opposed to large scale %'s.  So if you do one installation this year and two next year, growth is 50%.  That is feasible when your installed base is very low.  When your installed base is in the hundreds of thousands, 40% or more growth becomes increasingly untenable without billions of $ of investment.  Government investment in solar is withdrawing.  German households who installed solar for the benefit of 200% payback from the input to the grid are now only just breaking even with the reduction in government subsidies.  Eventually it will be a net cost.

In the UK Government subsidies scale back every year now.  We have seen a large bubble in rush installations in 2012 to beat the cuts, but that will not replicate in 2013.  In fact there are significant issues cropping up with people unable to get mortgages to buy houses which have PV fitted due to banks unwillingness to certify an installation which might just damage the structure of the house.

The figures may look good over the last decade, but they are not going to look quite so good over the next.

Personally I still think the materials issues will be the big problem of the next decade of PV.

I will be very happy to be wrong, but I'm not hopeful.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on May 29, 2013, 05:07:49 AM
I don't think anyone is predicting that installation curves will continue to accelerate.  There are physical and financial limits.  As the annual installation amounts reach practical limits acceleration will slow and most likely settle into somewhat constant year to year installation amounts.

I actually expect worldwide installation rates to continue to accelerate for five or more years.  Installations are starting to occur in more and more countries.  Some haven't really gotten started yet.
--

Perhaps you don't understand what has happened to the cost of renewables. 

If one wants to add capacity to the grid there is no cheaper way to do that than building a wind farm.  Natural gas is a slight bit cheaper but prices are artificially low (in the US) and rising.  No one (except those who hype the gas business) is predicting natural gas to remain as cheap as it is now.  If fact, the price of gas is up more than 30% from its low of June, 2012.  The EIA is predicting that gas will rise to a level in 2014 which will cause a small increase in coal use.

If one wants to bring more peak hour capacity on the grid solar has become a major choice.  The price of solar is cheaper than running a gas peaker and installing solar locks in the price of electricity for 3-4 decades.

This is not government money.  This is utility company money.  Government money has pretty much played the role it needed to play.  Like many emerging technologies, prices are quite high at first until the technology begins to mature,  efficiencies discovered, and economies of scale kick in.

US subsidies for residential solar are designed to scale back.  They are based on a percentage of system costs.  They cut the cost by 30%.  There's a point at which the 30% discount will not be necessary to make putting solar on your roof cheaper than buying electricity from the grid.

Right now rooftop solar is being installed in Germany and Australia for $2/watt.  No subsidies, no government money.

Solar on ones roof in Southern California at $2/watt and financed at 5% generates electricity for about 8 cents per kWh.  The average cost of electricity in SoCal is something like 18 cents per kWh.  No government money is needed to make that math work.

The UK just installed a large solar array for $1.60/watt.  A large array in SoCal installed at $1.60/watt and financed at 5% would mean that the utility could lock in electricity at 6.5 cents per kWh for the next 20 years. And for another 10 to 20+ years they would get electricity to sell for the cost of about 0 cents per kWh.  Right now they may be paying over 30 cents per kWh for peak hour supply.

You can't build a new coal or nuclear plant and produce electricity for even 10 cents per kWh, try 15+.  If a utility needs more capacity then what makes sense is a mix of wind and solar then to use your existing gas and hydro to fill in around.
--

Then, there's something else happening, I think.  I think the world's governments have decided that they must do something to curtail climate change.  When you have China rushing to the front of the parade to help lead it you know things have changed. 
---


I don't know how people think in the UK.  Here in the US we value having solar on houses.  A rather large scale study found that people paid more for a house with solar installed.  In fact, the premium they paid often exceeded the cost of the system.

"All those homeowners who have been installing residential solar panels over the last decade may find it was a more practical decision than they thought. The electricity generated may have cost more than that coming from the local power company (half of which, nationwide, comes from burning coal), but if they choose to sell their homes, the price premium they will get for the solar system should let them recoup much of their original capital investment.

That is the conclusion of three researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, who looked at home sales — both homes with photovoltaic systems and homes without — in California over an eight-and-a-half-year period ending in mid-2009. The abstract of their study states, “the analysis finds strong evidence that California homes with PV systems have sold for a premium over comparable homes without PV systems.”

The premium ranged from $3.90 to $6.40 per watt of capacity, but tended most often to be about $5.50 per watt. This, the study said, “corresponds to a home sales price premium of approximately $17,000 for a relatively new 3,100-watt PV system (the average size of PV systems in the study).”

And the bottom line: “These average sales price premiums appear to be comparable to the investment that homeowners have made to install PV systems in California, which from 2001 through 2009 averaged approximately $5/watt.”

http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/04/21/study-finds-solar-panels-increase-home-values/ (http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/04/21/study-finds-solar-panels-increase-home-values/)

 
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on May 30, 2013, 02:09:56 PM
Right now rooftop solar is being installed in Germany and Australia for $2/watt.  No subsidies, no government money.
In Germany PV is not paid by government money but by other poeples electricity bill (guaranteed price for solar electricity in the grid). Germans poeple paid the price (and further will for 15 more years), that PV is now brought to the tipping point and is produced in China cost effectively. Now the poeple really would appreciate US-poeple to do something similar to rescue our planet. Any plans allready? And I do not mean plans like "saving some money by buying PV" - I am talking about some effort like several hundered $/year/person nation wide for some decades. It could really help if US would join the Europeans soon. Otherwise poeple will get even more upset here about the increasing unfairness.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: NeilT on June 13, 2013, 01:51:51 AM
In Germany PV is not paid by government money but by other poeples electricity bill (guaranteed price for solar electricity in the grid).

Erm, yes, guaranteed by the government, not the Utilities...  And the guarantee rate is falling, so my close friend who has solar installed tells me.

Bob, you asked how Solar PV is viewed in the UK?  Well first you have to look at the region the studies are in.  In SoCal, aircon, in summer, is a requirement, not a "nice to have".  In winter, comprehensive central heating is not not necessarily a requirement all the time.

In the UK it is the opposite.  In summer aircon is a nice to have.  In winter a good quality central heating system is a requirement.  Now in winter in the UK, you are at your absolute minimum of PV input.  Unless you massively overspec your system, you would be insane to install electric central heating and rely on PV to keep your costs down in winter.

Also you need to understand how the Government subsidies worked and how they were marketed.

Only certified companies were able to install and provide Government backed PV systems in the UK. The last time I looked, there were only 8 companies on that list.  Every other firm who sold and installed the PV under the scheme, did it under license from one of these companies.

Many (or most), of these systems were installed with 100% of the electricity going to the grid for 25 years and a "subsidy" being paid to the owner for their Electric bills.  The worst of these I saw was full installation for free and £100 per year off the electric bill for 25 years.  Simply put, literally billions of £ went into the pockets of companies rather than the homes of the people who had the PV fitted.

In this case you are looking at buying a house which has a pre existing contract, tied to the house for 25 years, which blocks you from getting significant benefit from your PV and may even tie you to a less cost effective supplier.  All in a region which delivers max energy at a time of minimal usage.

Add to that the impact of mortgage companies drawing away from homes which may have questionable installs and you can imagine that personal PV installations are not growing very quickly right now.  Also the Tory Government, well aware that this is a money sink for unscrupulous companies, have been cutting back significantly on the subsidies for PV in the Uk.

That is how it is being seen.

Can you imagine a bigger mess?  Also do you have a similar comparison for PV fitted house sales in, say, Illinois???
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Jim Hunt on June 15, 2013, 06:12:41 PM
An article from this weekend's Economist, "Tilting at Windmills (http://Kitikmeot)", about Germany's Energiewende.

Quote
In principle, this bold plan brings huge opportunities for Germany, not only to help save the planet but to become a global leader in tomorrow’s energy-efficient and green technologies. The reality has been messier, marked by price distortions, political U-turns, surging costs and inadequate infrastructure.

On sunny days Germany pushes its excess power into the European grid at a loss. Because producers of renewables are paid a fixed price, their subsidy rises as the spot price of electricity falls. On cloudy days Germany relies ever more on brown coal. Last year its CO2 emissions rose.

All this is happening as prices for natural gas and electricity in North America are plunging, thanks to the shale revolution, so Germany’s most energy-intensive industries are now eyeing expansion on the other side of the Atlantic.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on June 15, 2013, 06:42:30 PM
On cloudy days Germany relies ever more on brown coal. Last year its CO2 emissions rose.

All this is happening as prices for natural gas and electricity in North America are plunging, thanks to the shale revolution, so Germany’s most energy-intensive industries are now eyeing expansion on the other side of the Atlantic.
You got it - that makes poeple really angy here: That "energy-intensive" industries have allready an exceptional case - they do not pay the extra-costs of the renewables. So "normal" poeple have to pay the share of the energy-intensive industries, too. That is considered as unfair. And since you need your own roof (most poeple in Germany do not have that) to profit from that - poor poeple have to pay the transition to the biggest part now. But fortunately for poor poeple, 5% of roofs are allready used for PV - so costs can only rise by a factor of 20 - so maybe a limit 2.000€/year/person. Politics will change that.

What politics is not willing to change is burning of brown coal - that stupid stuff. The country NRW is governed also by green party - and they do not stop burning the most brown coal and plan new power stations...

So we have paid a lot and the results are still small. "Energiewende" is in a very critical stage due to "double-U-turn" Merkel's politics especially since 2009.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: domen_ on August 16, 2013, 12:33:47 AM
I don't think there's a tipping point. Penetration of renewables will be a continuous process. Getting cost of wind and solar below coal is first step. Next step will be getting cost of short term storage (pumped hydro and batteries) low enough. And last step will be getting cost of interseasonal storage (biofuels, biogas/syn-gas) low enough. Then there will truly be the end of coal.

But at the moment, short term storage is few steps away, and interseasonal storage another few steps away. Only solar and wind with some amount of fossil fuel backup are here. Which is actually not bad, because we could cost-effectively reduce 80-90% of coal and gas (which is huge). Politics seems to be the only problem now.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: jbg on August 16, 2013, 03:09:18 PM
I don't think there's a tipping point. Penetration of renewables will be a continuous process. Getting cost of wind and solar below coal is first step. Next step will be getting cost of short term storage (pumped hydro and batteries) low enough. And last step will be getting cost of interseasonal storage (biofuels, biogas/syn-gas) low enough. Then there will truly be the end of coal.
It would be great if we could solve the storage problem. This past week the very liberal New York Times had a big spread on the issue of the inability of the grid to absorb large amounts of intermittent electricity sources.  The key is being able to store and then re-sell electricity generated by winds for calm periods, or solar for overcast and winter periods.

Otherwise this is a lot of politically correct pablum.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: wili on August 25, 2013, 09:35:12 PM
The storage problems are not minor, but Germany has moved very far toward having a significant portion of their energy come from renewables, so it is clearly possible to do much more than we have done in this country without running into major problems. Also note that the newest generation of wind turbines will have some storage capacity right on site and will respond to the needs of the grid/price points. Maximum insolation also corresponds quite well with maximum use of electricity in the summer.

Oops, never mind. I forgot that you are a denialist troll. ;D
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: TerryM on August 26, 2013, 12:11:26 AM
domen et. al.
By pulsing hydro generation to come on line only when solar or wind can't keep up with demand the area served by the combined solar/wind/hydro can be greatly expanded simply by increasing the number of turbines at the hydro plant.
No need to resort to batteries or pumps, just make use of the head retained while the sun is shining or the wind is blowing. Most of the infrastructure is already in place.
Terry
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Shared Humanity on August 26, 2013, 12:16:52 AM
domen et. al.
By pulsing hydro generation to come on line only when solar or wind can't keep up with demand the area served by the combined solar/wind/hydro can be greatly expanded simply by increasing the number of turbines at the hydro plant.
No need to resort to batteries or pumps, just make use of the head retained while the sun is shining or the wind is blowing. Most of the infrastructure is already in place.
Terry

Absolutely. We need to rethink the idea of energy storage. Batteries are not the only method.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: domen_ on August 26, 2013, 01:26:35 AM
It's a good idea, but I think it has some drawbacks. It would require bigger dams and bigger flooding area (which can be a problem), and also many of existing hydro power plants are run-of-the-river type, which don't have dams.

Also, concept of power grid is changing. It's making a huge shift from small number of big centralized generators to high number of decentralized local sources. Local batteries somehow fit better into this story.

Although the most important thing today seems to be cost. And that's why we need price on carbon, to speed up penetration of renewables.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: wili on August 26, 2013, 01:34:59 AM
I think the biggest shift we have to make is to the idea that we should always have access to as much electricity as we want (or can pay for, 24/7/365). Here in the upper midwest we are accustomed to snow days, when the snow fall is so heavy that it can't get removed fast enough, so everything has to pretty much stop.

Why not have low-sun-and-wind days: times when non-essential activities take a break till nature provides the resources to continue? Why must we have a civilization that is almost completely oblivious to the natural world around it? Why not have one that responds to what is provided by the world within its natural cycles and variabilities?

It requires a bit of a shift in thinking, but it's not so far off from some relatively recent European traditions such as siestas.

(Note that many crucial institutions, such as hospitals, already have back up systems.)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: domen_ on August 26, 2013, 02:10:45 AM
In Europe winters are problematic, because there can be a week or two without wind (and solar is very limited in winter time), and that's too much. You need power for at least heating and cooking. But if you combine wind and solar with biomass/biogas/hydro then it can be done. It's even economically viable.

So why aren't we doing it? Well, invested coal and gas plants seem to be in the way and there's no political will to really change anything.. Makes me sad sometimes.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: TerryM on August 26, 2013, 03:20:18 AM
It's a good idea, but I think it has some drawbacks. It would require bigger dams and bigger flooding area (which can be a problem), and also many of existing hydro power plants are run-of-the-river type, which don't have dams.

As I'm conceiving it larger dams would not be necessary. Instead of steadily drawing down a foot an hour for 24 hours we shift to drawing down 2 feet per hour for the 12 hours when the sun isn't shining and for the next 12 hours we let the level restore itself. - Extremely simplified, but you get the idea.
The power lines are already in place so the only major costs I see are building and installing extra turbines. Far less expensive than building higher dams.


The river run systems would have to be dammed for this system to work, but almost all hydro in North America already has dams in place. I'd imagine adding turbines would be relatively inexpensive (as compared to any other system of generation & storage).
Terry
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: jbg on August 26, 2013, 01:22:58 PM
domen et. al.
By pulsing hydro generation to come on line only when solar or wind can't keep up with demand the area served by the combined solar/wind/hydro can be greatly expanded simply by increasing the number of turbines at the hydro plant.
No need to resort to batteries or pumps, just make use of the head retained while the sun is shining or the wind is blowing. Most of the infrastructure is already in place.
Terry
Where does the extra power magically come from?
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: wili on August 26, 2013, 03:11:11 PM
We have to move toward houses so well insulated that they need no or hardly any extra heat. We also may have to get used to cooler houses, not heat areas not in use, turn down heat very low at night (investments in warm bedclothes and bed canopies are well worth the expense and are romantic!), have more people per square foot of living space...

Lots of free or cheap solutions that just take a different frame of mind (one that could be helped by some more rational pricing of death fuels).

[removed this, don't be angry, if you don't want to feed, then don't insult either. Let's continue to give jbg some more benefit of the doubt, it's not like he's derailing/gish-galloping or anything that much; N.]
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Shared Humanity on August 26, 2013, 06:11:51 PM
We have to move toward houses so well insulated that they need no or hardly any extra heat. We also may have to get used to cooler houses, not heat areas not in use, turn down heat very low at night (investments in warm bedclothes and bed canopies are well worth the expense and are romantic!), have more people per square foot of living space...

Lots of free or cheap solutions that just take a different frame of mind (one that could be helped by some more rational pricing of death fuels).

(Oh, and DFT utterly moronic denialist T  :D)

I have set the heat in my house at 62 degrees for the past 20 years. When I am cold, I put on a sweater.

Imagine, wearing sweaters in the winter!
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Shared Humanity on August 26, 2013, 06:16:43 PM
Where does the extra power magically come from?

How is water stored by accumulating rain behind a dam any different than a battery storing excess electricity? You release this stored water in larger amounts which drives the turbines and generates more electricity when demand exceeds the other renewable sources. When the additional electricity is not needed, you slow the flow and reduce the electricity created by the dam. This allows water to accumulate until it is again needed.

There are far more ways than batteries to store energy.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: JimD on August 26, 2013, 07:37:06 PM
I have set the heat in my house at 62 degrees for the past 20 years. When I am cold, I put on a sweater.

Imagine, wearing sweaters in the winter!

I used to laugh and cry at the same time as in most of the office buildings I went into in the States in the summer half the women had sweaters on and some had space heaters going because the AC was so cold they were freezing.  But building maintenance would not turn the AC down.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: TerryM on August 26, 2013, 09:24:15 PM
Quote
Where does the extra power magically come from?


The magic is the solar & wind energy added to the system.
Niagara Falls is throttled principally for the benefit of the tourist industry.(More flow over the falls when more people are watching). This particular installation is a river run system that has no reservoir that could be recharged when usage is down.
The much, much larger hydro facilities in northern Quebec don't have tourists to worry about and are fed by the largest man made lakes in the world. Manipulating the flow there on a diurnal basis shouldn't raise any problems and I suspect varying the flow to accommodate seasonal variations could be done in a cost effective manner.
Since most of the electricity is sold in the States where coal generation is a major player the end result might be the closure of a number of the worst polluting plants in the north east.
The beauty of this solution is that the dams are already in place and the high voltage transmission system is already there. The ecological damage has already been done & adding turbines will simply add efficiency to the existing infrastructure.
I'd guess that almost all distributed wind or solar installations on the Eastern Seaboard could be added to the grid without resorting to pumped hydro or battery storage.
If the Colorado generating facilities were upgraded in a similar manner most of the Southwest could accommodate lots of growth in solar/wind generation (as long as the snow pack holds out). The reservoirs wouldn't be quite as inviting to boaters, but they weren't designed for these uses anyway.
To my mind this is a far better solution than building peak load plants that run on (fracked) natural gas. The costs of building new generating facilities has to exceed the cost of adding capacity to facilities already in place. Even if fracking was benign and the gas reserves were unlimited they still pump CO2 into the atmosphere.
Is anyone aware of any installations of whatever size where this is presently being done?
Terry
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: jbg on August 27, 2013, 01:34:18 AM
Where does the extra power magically come from?

How is water stored by accumulating rain behind a dam any different than a battery storing excess electricity? You release this stored water in larger amounts which drives the turbines and generates more electricity when demand exceeds the other renewable sources. When the additional electricity is not needed, you slow the flow and reduce the electricity created by the dam. This allows water to accumulate until it is again needed.

There are far more ways than batteries to store energy.
What if there's been a drought? And how fast can a decision be made to release excess water assuming there is any to release?
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: jbg on August 27, 2013, 01:42:50 AM
To my mind this is a far better solution than building peak load plants that run on (fracked) natural gas. The costs of building new generating facilities has to exceed the cost of adding capacity to facilities already in place. Even if fracking was benign and the gas reserves were unlimited they still pump CO2 into the atmosphere.
Is anyone aware of any installations of whatever size where this is presently being done?
Terry
How would you meet a peak in LA or Denver during a heat wave under your scenario?
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: ghoti on August 27, 2013, 02:55:34 AM
The peaks are already being met. Add solar and there is less demand for fossil fuel generation at peak demand. This is not complicated unless you go way out of your way to make it so.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: TerryM on August 27, 2013, 03:27:27 AM
ghoti
i'm afraid our new friend has a very different agenda than you and I. We seek knowledge and solutions. PDFTT
Terry
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: wili on August 27, 2013, 04:27:35 AM
What Terry said.

The thing to keep in mind is how miniscule wind and especially solar is compared to current (not to mention prospective) global energy use/demand: iirc, wind is somewhere around 1%, solar not even .1%. So they have a ways to go to be really significant. The exponential looking curves are hopeful, but policy changes in a few countries could put a big damper on that, though the economics do seem to keep moving in the right direction.

Unfortunately, even at exponential rates of growth, solar and wind are not going to replace coal, oil and NG fast enough to keep us from busting through the (itself too high) 2 degree C internationally agreed upon limit.

To have even a remote chance of staying under that mostly political limit, we have to look at supply as well as demand.

People avoid addressing demand, presumably because it seems more depressing. But when you combine utter waste with consumption that actually makes us less healthy and happy, you have quite a bit we can cut out with no, or actually positive, effects on lifestyles. The highest-level, top global ~20% consumers (yeah, that would include probably all of us) doubtless have to go a bit further and actually mostly give up doing some things we have enjoyed--flying comes to mind (though the airlines have managed to make the experience less and less enjoyable recently).

One point to make here is that top energy consumers, such as Americans, tend to show lower values for general happiness than do some who only consume energy at about a quarter of our level, such as Latin Americans. So in theory, we can slash our consumption by 3/4 and still end up being happier.

But, given that the future survivability of the planet is at stake, would it be really way too much to ask those who have benefited the most to actually make something like sacrifices? The Brits during WWII cut their domestic consumption of petrol by 95% essentially immediately to save their country. They also cut way back on meat and dairy consumption. All of this left them much healthier, on average, with high reports of well being, in spite of the traumas of war, partly because they were engaged in a collective, meaningful pursuit beyond the hollow pursuit of personal gratification that society tries to tell us is the only rational and valid goal of life.

Here's the must-watch video by Kevin Anderson on the need to address demand even faster than we can ratchet up supply. I'm a bit more sanguine about the (at least theoretical) possibility of avoiding the worst consequences of economic contraction. But the main point is that it has gotten to be quite late in the day indeed, and just waiting for renewables to catch up just won't cut it if we want to even pretend to be remotely serious about the crisis now upon us.

Cabot Institute Annual Lecture 2012 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RInrvSjW90U#ws)

Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Jim Hunt on August 27, 2013, 02:29:06 PM
A long list of potential storage technologies:

http://www.geni.org/globalenergy/research/energy-storage-technologies/Energy-Storage-Technologies.pdf (http://www.geni.org/globalenergy/research/energy-storage-technologies/Energy-Storage-Technologies.pdf)

Prof. David Mackay (Chief Scientific Advisor to the Department of Energy and Climate Change) on the difficulties of delivering "sustainable energy" here in the UK:

http://www.withouthotair.com/ (http://www.withouthotair.com/)

Cambridge Ideas - How Many Lightbulbs? (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UR8wRSp2IXs#ws)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: ritter on August 27, 2013, 06:01:01 PM
Where does the extra power magically come from?

How is water stored by accumulating rain behind a dam any different than a battery storing excess electricity? You release this stored water in larger amounts which drives the turbines and generates more electricity when demand exceeds the other renewable sources. When the additional electricity is not needed, you slow the flow and reduce the electricity created by the dam. This allows water to accumulate until it is again needed.

There are far more ways than batteries to store energy.

Shared,

One issue this doesn't account for (typical hubris, and not directed at you) is the needs of species inhabiting the rivers. We didn't give a damn when we built the dams and have, in many ways, since attempted to mitigate the damage we'd done to riparian ecosystems with minimum/maximum/periodicity flows, largely determined by US Fish & Wildlife and NOAA Fisheries due to lawsuits under the Endangered Species Act. It is not as simple to manage a reservoir purely for power needs as it was in the 50s and before. We've got to do what we can to maintain the already degraded habitats of the creatures we share this rock with.

There are also issues associated with the real need for flood control (mitigation) provided by many of the reservoirs. We've currently only got a tenuous hold on disasters related to building out floodplains (bad idea to begin with!). This will be even more necessary as rainfall timing, duration and quantities change over the coming decades due to climate change.

We've built a very complicated system. Unraveling it and/or re-purposing it is not going to be easy.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: jbg on August 27, 2013, 06:18:28 PM
We've built a very complicated system. Unraveling it and/or re-purposing it is not going to be easy.
The problem is that there really is no good way to produce energy.  Even though I am at odds with many on this Board about AGW I think we can all agree on that concept.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Shared Humanity on August 27, 2013, 08:08:11 PM
Thanks, Ritter. I did not take it personally. I agree there are other considerations but doubt riparian environments will figure heavily in future decisions. If spoiling ground water doesn't stop fracking, driving species of fish to extinction won't matter either.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: ritter on August 27, 2013, 08:11:36 PM
Thanks, Ritter. I did not take it personally. I agree there are other considerations but doubt riparian environments will figure heavily in future decisions. If spoiling ground water doesn't stop fracking, driving species of fish to extinction won't matter either.

Agreed. But there are still currently laws on the books that would prevent the suggested use of water storage/energy production. Those laws likely won't mean much in the coming lean times, as you suggest.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Anne on August 28, 2013, 11:54:09 AM
The western USA, that is.

Cost Gap for Western Renewables Could Narrow by 2025
Quote
Aug. 27, 2013 — A new Energy Department study conducted by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) indicates that by 2025 wind and solar power electricity generation could become cost-competitive without federal subsidies, if new renewable energy development occurs in the most productive locations.

The report, "Beyond Renewable Portfolio Standards: An Assessment of Regional Supply and Demand Conditions Affecting the Future of Renewable Energy in the West," compares the cost of renewable electricity generation (without federal subsidy) from the West's most productive renewable energy resource areas -- including any needed transmission and integration costs -- with the cost of energy from a new natural gas-fired generator built near the customers it serves.
Including wind exports from Wyoming, Montana and New Mexico, solar from California, Nevada and Arizona and geothermal from Idaho...

From Science Daily (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130827204538.htm)

I haven't read the full report (133 pages) but a swift glance suggests that they are predicating it on falling renewables capital costs rather than rising costs of gas.

Full report here (http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy13osti/57830-1.pdf) (pdf)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: wili on August 28, 2013, 08:02:56 PM
Is there any evidence outside (say Germany) that renewables at a global level that renewables are actually replacing rather than supplementing ff? Is there any carbon that has been left in the ground because some renewables have been developed?

If not, I would aver that renewables are in fact part of the larger problem.

Even before GW has really gotten going, we were well into the human caused sixths great extinction event.

So even without excess C we have put into the atmosphere, humans are in the midst of wiping out much, perhaps most, of complex life on earth.

The more energy that is made available to modern industrial civilization, even carbon-free  energy, the faster this annihilation of life on earth will proceed.

Thoughts?
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: domen_ on August 28, 2013, 08:53:47 PM
Starting point is 0%, so don't be too hard on renewables because they're only at the start. But they are economically viable and they do make a significant difference where policies allow them to penetrate into energy system (Denmark and Germany are leading examples). But as you may already know, inertia of politics and powerful fossil fuel industry is massively preventing them from being adopted.

However, as you pointed out, renewables are only an answer to energy problem, not sustainability problem. For long term sustainability on this planet we'll have to do much more than just manage carbon cycle. We'll have to manage phosphorus and nitrogen cycle as well, we'll have to stop dumping waste and chemicals into environment, we'll have to stop gambling with planetary life support systems,..

There is zero probability that sustainability issue could be solved in the following decades. Even managing climate crisis is barely achieveable, but sustainability is at present completely out of reach.

I think this problem has been created by traditional religious thinking. We have to stop thinking that "God gave us Earth, that we are something better than other animals, and that because we are something better we can exploit environment without consequences". This kind of thinking that can be seen particularly in european tradition is problematic. We should update our thinking, there are limits in the environment.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: wili on August 29, 2013, 01:19:53 PM
Quote
I think this problem has been created by traditional religious thinking. We have to stop thinking that "God gave us Earth, that we are something better than other animals, and that because we are something better we can exploit environment without consequences". This kind of thinking that can be seen particularly in european tradition is problematic. We should update our thinking, there are limits in the environment.

Nicely put.

Do you see any major movement aiming toward changing these deeper-seated mind set that continue to drive us toward destruction?
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: TerryM on August 29, 2013, 05:37:36 PM
Probably the wrong thread but I'm assuming an uptick in religiosity in the future. As things spin further from familliar patterns people may seek comfort in the absolute certainty that religious fundamentalism provides.
I understand that a few groups are preaching a message of respect for all of "God's Creations", but most are locked into the "He put it there for our use" paradigm. I've never understood the popularity of religious dogma but vast numbers of people are swayed by it and unsettling times often see it spreading as people are ripe for anything that proclaims itself as a universal unchanging truth.
We offer statistical probabilities. They offer clear and certain truth.
Terry
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Anne on August 29, 2013, 08:59:54 PM
As another atheist I agree with you, Terry. The blinkered sense of entitlement among many large religious groups, especially more fundamentalist, is alarming and as things get worse there could well be a temptation to cling even harder to doctrine. (I'm reminded of the grim joke (http://bofh.ntk.net/OtherStuff/RealOtherStuff/christian-joke.php) of the man on the roof in a flood.) The only crumb of comfort in all this is the present Pope's choice of name and his rejection of ostentatious consumerism and his pronouncements on the environment. When I was looking just now for his comments on the Amazon during his recent visit to Brazil, I came across this group, Catholic Climate Covenant (http://catholicclimatecovenant.org/about-us/). I don't know how much traction they have. There is one obvious clash between Catholic doctrine and their own admirable objectives (http://catholicclimatecovenant.org/the-st-francis-pledge/). They acknowledge the question of population control (http://catholicclimatecovenant.org/catholic-teachings/climate-change-population/), but deflect attention to comparing the relative carbon footprints of those in the developed world with those in poorer countries.

With that important caveat, I'm not in favour of opening up another front against religious so long as we may find allies among people like this, whatever our other differences may be. So I guess I'm an accommodationist, but life's too short to fight absolutist battles. There are plenty of religious people who accept conventional science. As for the fundamentalists, climate change may be the greatest argument but it's hardly the only one, nor are those of us who are alarmed by climate change the only ones who have arguments with them.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: domen_ on August 30, 2013, 01:03:03 AM
I agree that opening up another front against religious is not going to do any good.

It's just when thinking about how did we get into this mess, this is something that naturally comes up. Maybe it's even wrong to formulate it in religious terms because not all religions have this kind of attitude. Indians, for example, don't think that nature is there for unlimited exploitation. In today's globally populated world this would be a much healthier attitude.

I agree that when conditions worsen there will probably be an uptick in religiosity. Religion offers comfort and absolute answers, and that's something people will need even more in future climate chaos.

Back to the renewables: I'm afraid that we have massive disinformation campaign not only about climate change, but also about renewable energy. I don't know where massive amounts of myths about renewables came from, but number of misleading claims and half-truths-half-lies is just astonishing.

A couple of examples:
Myth1: renewable energy will always be just a minor part of energy sources.
Reality: Already today Denmark (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind_power_in_Denmark) gets over 30% electricity from wind and Germany (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renewable_energy_in_Germany) 25% from several renewable sources, and both of them don't have any real hydro potential.

Myth2: renewables are expensive.
Reality: In sunny parts of the world solar energy is already cheaper than coal (for example New Mexico (http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/first-solar-macho-update)), in windy parts wind is cheaper than coal (for example Australia (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-02-06/australia-wind-energy-cheaper-than-coal-natural-gas-bnef-says.html)), and in many other less ideal parts (or maybe I should say: in most parts) renewables are very close to fossil fuels. Note that if fossil fuels weren't massively subsidized (2.5% of global GDP goes just for fossil fuel subsidies (http://www.imf.org/external/np/pp/eng/2013/012813.pdf)) renewables would be, already at present moment, way cheaper practically everywhere.

Myth3: you need fossil fuel backup for cloudy days without wind.
Reality: that's only half of the truth. The other half is: you also need backup when existing coal plants (or nuclear, for that matter) are shut down for repair/maintenance. So what's the difference? Not much, if any. You can simply use existing backup and significantly reduce fossil fuel use.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: wili on August 30, 2013, 01:58:43 AM
I agree that all these are myths.

But I must point out that, on the global level, wind and especially solar are still very minor players in the mix of sources of energy. IIRC, wind is still around 1-2%, and solar an order of magnitude smaller, or less, as I've pointed out.

That doesn't mean that some countries aren't doing much better, or that they couldn't increase dramatically given time and incentives.

But it is my impression that most people think we already get a much higher proportion of our energy from these sources than we do. This kind of myth can be as damaging, imho, as the kinds of myths you propose. If people think we are right on the verge of replacing all our coal with wind and solar because they have heard so much about these renewables, they may not press hard enough politically and in other ways to get these in place. But if they know that we are globally (and in most countries) far, far behind where we need to be, they may push with the kind of vigor needed.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: JimD on August 30, 2013, 09:57:35 PM
I know that saying I agree doesn't add much to the discussion but I found domen's last couple of posts and Terry's last post very on the mark. 

Wili your comments about the scale of renewables well demonstrates that point one often sees about the rollout time for new technologies.  It usually takes several decades to become dominant over the technology it is replacing.  That certainly does not bode well of us in our current circumstances.  If we could just get all new electricity generating capabilities built in renewables then when we eventually (if ever I suppose) obtain the political will to start cutting back we can much more easily turn off the remaining coal plants first.  I must be dreaming today.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: wili on August 31, 2013, 09:01:51 PM
OK, I broke down and consulted the Great Oracle, Wikipedia, and found:

'Wind power market penetration is expected to reach 3.35 percent by 2013 and 8 percent by 2018'

Quote
Electricity Generation from Solar[29]
Year    Energy (TWh)    % of Total
2005    3.7            0.02%
2006    5.0            0.03%
2007    6.7            0.03%
2008    11.2         0.06%
2009    19.1            0.09%
2010    30.4            0.14%
2011    58.7            0.27%
2012    93.0            0.41%

So recent values of % of total power are a bit better than I had been quoting, according to this source, .4% for solar in '12 and 3.3% for wind by the end of '13, so probably collectively they are over 4% already, or will be soon.

Even better news is that they are on a trajectory that should make them major players in just a few years:

8% for wind by 2018 according to this source. Furthermore:

Quote
GE has installed a prototype wind turbine with onboard battery similar to that of an electric car, equivalent of 1 minute of production. Despite the small capacity, it is enough to guarantee that power output complies with forecast for 15 minutes, as the battery is used to eliminate the difference rather than provide full output. The increased predictability can be used to take wind power penetration from 20 to 30 or 40 per cent. The battery cost can be retrieved by selling burst power on demand and reducing backup needs from gas plants.

So if wind keeps doubling about every four years, and these innovations allow to reach 40% penetration, we could get there by about 2027 or so. (And keep in mind that there are other means of getting storage available already, and surely this will not be the last innovation in this area.)

As for solar, if it keeps on its doubling-to-tripling-every-two-years rate it has had for the last few years, it could surpass wind by 2020 or shortly there after, at which point, together they would make up about a quarter of all power sources in the world.

Of course, various factors could come along to slow or accelerate these levels of growth.

"General Electric's Chief Engineer predicts grid parity without subsidies in sunny parts of the United States by around 2015." That could be a major accelerant in the near future.

But none of this makes terribly much difference unless we start actually retiring coal plants in droves and start using much less oil; basically, until we stop UNsequestering carbon at the massive rate of 10+ billion tons per year.

When I starting hearing about discussions of whether the UN or other entities should go in to bomb a coal mine or oil derrick because it operating them comprised a violation of international law, then I will know that we have become serious about reducing (however marginally at that point, since we are starting 40-50 behind schedule) future horrors of ourselves and our children.

I'm not holding my breath.

(It all reminds me of that line from the Dylan song, "You ain't goin' nowhere":

THE BYRDS /// 1. You Ain't Goin' Nowhere - (Sweetheart Of The Rodeo) - (1968) (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sinMvuvIdz8#ws)

We'll climb that hill, no matter how steep,
After we're way past it.

ETA: I see that the second line is a variation from the original, which said, "When we come up to it." I find the variation more fitting and more interesting. )
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: JimD on September 03, 2013, 10:29:05 PM
Quote
As the world swelters, so will energy demand rise: the heat extremes generated by climate change are likely to raise the global demand for air conditioning by 72 percent. So people will generate more heat and release more carbon dioxide just to stay cool as the thermometer soars.

Quote
Right now, the U.S. uses more energy to keep cool than all the other countries in the world combined.....
In all, 87 percent of U.S. households now have air conditioning and it takes 185 billion kilowatt hours of energy annually to keep American homes cool. But other countries have begun to turn down the thermostat. In 2010 alone, 50 million air conditioning units were sold in China. Air conditioning sales in India are growing at 20 percent a year....
.....Out of his top 25 countries, 14 were in Asia, seven in Africa and two each were in North and South America. The U.S. has the coolest climate of these 25 countries, even though it has the highest demand for cool indoor breezes.

Altogether, he reasoned, eight of the world’s nations have the potential to exceed U.S. air conditioning use: India would surpass the U.S. 14-fold if Indians adopted U.S. standards of cooling; China more than five times and the Indonesians three times.

Because 22 of the 25 countries are by World Bank definition low-income nations, demand is currently nowhere near its potential peak. But, he writes, future demand has the potential to exceed demand in the U.S. by a factor of 50.

Consider the impact this will have on trying not to add capacity but to use new capacity to eliminate coal/fossil fuel burning.   Thus we demonstrate another one of the downsides to rising affluence (every silver lining has a cloud).

http://www.climatecentral.org/news/air-conditioning-rise-may-raise-temperatures-16418 (http://www.climatecentral.org/news/air-conditioning-rise-may-raise-temperatures-16418)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: JimD on September 04, 2013, 09:49:43 PM
The Alternative Energy Matrix

Another article from Tom Murphy a physics professor at UCSD.

Excellent read.  One of the best surveys of the potential alternative energy technologies and their prospects for impacting our energy needs I have ever seen.  Well worth the read to see how your favorite technology stacks up under analysis.  Note:  he does not take AGW into account in how it could impact the ranking of technologies - probably to hard to determine for a short work like this one.

http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/2012/02/the-alternative-energy-matrix/ (http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/2012/02/the-alternative-energy-matrix/)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: JimD on September 06, 2013, 06:31:50 PM
Ivanpah - worlds largest solar thermal plant in Mojave Desert

(if this has been posted before I apologize but I could not find it anywhere)

Click through the pictures at top of 2nd link page.  Awesome infrastructure.  300,000 mirrors  Note that the link indicates that the workers are installing 500 mirrors a day and at that rate it takes 600 days to install all of them.  wow

Quote
A 377 megawatt net solar complex using mirrors to focus the power of the sun on solar receivers atop power towers.

Quote
The Mojave Desert is blooming. Construction crews are erecting mirrors —each measuring 70 square feet—at a rate of 500 per day across some 3,500 acres. When completed in late 2013, the $2.2 billion Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System—the largest of its type in the world—will power 140,000 California homes.

http://www.brightsourceenergy.com/ivanpah-solar-project (http://www.brightsourceenergy.com/ivanpah-solar-project)

http://www.treehugger.com/slideshows/renewable-energy/see-worlds-largest-thermal-solar-plant-370mw-under-construction-mojave-desert/ (http://www.treehugger.com/slideshows/renewable-energy/see-worlds-largest-thermal-solar-plant-370mw-under-construction-mojave-desert/)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Shared Humanity on September 07, 2013, 02:09:29 AM
Ivanpah - worlds largest solar thermal plant in Mojave Desert

(if this has been posted before I apologize but I could not find it anywhere)

Click through the pictures at top of 2nd link page.  Awesome infrastructure.  300,000 mirrors  Note that the link indicates that the workers are installing 500 mirrors a day and at that rate it takes 600 days to install all of them.  wow

Quote
A 377 megawatt net solar complex using mirrors to focus the power of the sun on solar receivers atop power towers.

Quote
The Mojave Desert is blooming. Construction crews are erecting mirrors —each measuring 70 square feet—at a rate of 500 per day across some 3,500 acres. When completed in late 2013, the $2.2 billion Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System—the largest of its type in the world—will power 140,000 California homes.

http://www.brightsourceenergy.com/ivanpah-solar-project (http://www.brightsourceenergy.com/ivanpah-solar-project)

http://www.treehugger.com/slideshows/renewable-energy/see-worlds-largest-thermal-solar-plant-370mw-under-construction-mojave-desert/ (http://www.treehugger.com/slideshows/renewable-energy/see-worlds-largest-thermal-solar-plant-370mw-under-construction-mojave-desert/)

Whenever I read about these extraordinary engineering masterpieces, I wonder about whether they are built to withstand extreme weather. Fukushima is a vivid example of when these considerations are not taken into account. Any sense as to whether the design is resilient?
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Vergent on September 07, 2013, 03:37:56 AM
Whenever I read about these extraordinary engineering masterpieces, I wonder about whether they are built to withstand extreme weather. Fukushima is a vivid example of when these considerations are not taken into account. Any sense as to whether the design is resilient?
SH,

While I am not a big fan of active mirror arrays, I find your comparison to Fukushima puzzling. There are no kilotons of radioactive waste to make a nightmarish aftermath. At worst, after the f5 tornado, they will have a big non-radioactive recycling job.

Here in California, we also have wind farms. The first small units are still producing and have long past their break even point, they are now making profit. I hope this project reaches that point. But, like you I have doubts. However, the failure scenarios are nothing like Fukushima.

Vergent
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: ccgwebmaster on September 07, 2013, 06:10:11 AM
Whenever I read about these extraordinary engineering masterpieces, I wonder about whether they are built to withstand extreme weather. Fukushima is a vivid example of when these considerations are not taken into account. Any sense as to whether the design is resilient?

Since when was anything built to withstand extreme weather - past a point where the architects and engineers expected it to be so exceptionally rare it might as well never happen (if the climate wasn't changing - I'm not sure an earthquake induced tidal wave is precisely the strongest lead into extreme weather here)?

Every country pretty much has built their infrastructure within the parameters dictated to engineering for their climate, and it isn't cost effective to go into the realms of what would've been never never land at the time a lot of the infrastructure was being conceived.

Consider that in the UK during heat waves, the roads can start to melt - even though in much hotter countries they don't. That's because the formulation used in the UK is more suited to cooler and sometimes freezing weather than to very hot weather.

Consider that even in Australia railway lines can buckle during recent heat waves and power sub stations get overloaded. Again - they were built to go up to a certain point and not beyond.

In all cases, our infrastructure stands to be rapidly degraded past a point - even things that people might not usually give a second thought as they view the infrastructure as just dumb lumps of matter - eg railway lines, roads, bridges, etc

Moreover, as resources deplete and costs rise (and other matters occupy the attention of the powers that be) - I think it unlikely it will be fixed as fast as it breaks or rebuilt stronger.

As a global civilisation predicated upon consumption, we are going to eat ourselves - once we have nothing else to consume.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: TerryM on September 07, 2013, 09:42:06 AM
I sailed Ivanpah Dry Lake for years. The winds from the north are strong almost every evening in the summer. When the winds really blowing you have to set the brakes on your pickup truck or it will blow away across the lakebed. Another problem with the local is that it floods badly about once every ten years. When it floods the sand/clay is extremely expensive and extremely soft, walking out you can sink in past your knees, a vehicle will sink to the frame. It generally takes a month before it's solid enough to walk on again. The lake bed is surrounded by mountains and while flash floods don't occur because of the flat terrain it fills with water whenever it rains in the valley or higher on the slopes.
It's not a location I would chose for anything much more permanent than a tent. I have to assume that the people that built this are aware of the unique problems that the area presents & have designed something that will stand up to the conditions that until the recent 20 year drought were regular occurrences.
Terry
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Vergent on September 07, 2013, 12:27:25 PM
What could go wrong? 2,100,000 years of bad luck.

V ;-)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: JimD on September 07, 2013, 04:56:27 PM
Terry

I Google Earthed the plant and it is several miles west of the dry lake bed towards the mountains.  Just north of Interstate 15 about 6-8 miles from Primm, NV.   So it looks like the location is not prone to anything but runoff from rains and there would be no pooling of water there.  I am sure it is just as windy though.

BTW I think you guys might have misunderstood the slant of SH's comment on engineering standards.  I think SH was really wondering if the large engineering projects of today were adjusting their safety factors to take into account the changing climate.  Not that there was a Fukushima type danger if this plant was destroyed by bad weather, but that this is a very expensive development (2.2 billion) and we better make sure it does not blow down in the wind.  This is a good question and, in a way, it isn't a question but rather a statement that all engineering projects should be adjusting their safety factors in light of the changes that are coming.  We are going to be very constrained on resources and we will regret it if we have to spend them rebuilding infrastructure that a good design would have saved from destruction (a la Fukushima).
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: TerryM on September 07, 2013, 10:35:08 PM
Jim


I took the time (finally) to google the sight & it is to the west of the worst area. We used to sand sail from the present site of the Stateline Casino (formerly a very small bar/casino called The Towers) almost to Nipton. They held the "America's Cup" for land sailing there and many of us practised on most summer weekends. It was a hoot racing up to the Towers, tying your sand sailer to the hitching post and chugging a few cool ones after a day of emulating Ray Bradbury's Martians.
A herd of longhorns returned to Yates Wells in the late afternoon. Zipping through them with a red sail was fun until the wind suddenly died and you were faced with a few hundred aggravated bovines with horns longer than you were tall.
Prim, the resort near the new structure was built on the flat ~25 years ago by hauling in mountains of fill. I don't think they've had a flood that overwashed I 15 since that time although there were several prior to the 90's. The drought in the area has been longstanding.
They had an solar mirror array to the south near the Marine Base at Barstow. It operated for a decade or so, then was removed. They tried a wind turbine near that site also but it was blown down in a gust.
I loved the dry lake beds, particularly Ivanpah, and hate to see the development that's taken place on it's fringe. I am relieved that they stayed west of the freeway & hope they have enough elevation to keep them out of the quagmire when a good rain hits the area.


Forgive the ramble, I'm missing the desert.
Terry



Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: ccgwebmaster on September 07, 2013, 11:43:00 PM
BTW I think you guys might have misunderstood the slant of SH's comment on engineering standards.  I think SH was really wondering if the large engineering projects of today were adjusting their safety factors to take into account the changing climate.  Not that there was a Fukushima type danger if this plant was destroyed by bad weather, but that this is a very expensive development (2.2 billion) and we better make sure it does not blow down in the wind.  This is a good question and, in a way, it isn't a question but rather a statement that all engineering projects should be adjusting their safety factors in light of the changes that are coming.  We are going to be very constrained on resources and we will regret it if we have to spend them rebuilding infrastructure that a good design would have saved from destruction (a la Fukushima).

With the exception of the Svalbard seed vault I can't think of much (anything?) that's really climate proofed. I can't see any chance - given the same short term consumer capitalistic thinking driving this major mess - of a conservative and more (short term) expensive attitude being employed towards infrastructure in the context of climate change.

Consequently I expect most nations to continue with business as usual, cut every corner they can, take the IPCC forecasts and plan those in for infrastructure at most (with local modelling where available). This may be expected to result in lots of unwelcome surprises - but again - if they take years of decades to manifest - the original parties who built or decided upon the infrastructure specifications (or surrounding regulations) have likely escaped or can escape culpability.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Shared Humanity on September 08, 2013, 04:43:59 AM
Terry

I Google Earthed the plant and it is several miles west of the dry lake bed towards the mountains.  Just north of Interstate 15 about 6-8 miles from Primm, NV.   So it looks like the location is not prone to anything but runoff from rains and there would be no pooling of water there.  I am sure it is just as windy though.

BTW I think you guys might have misunderstood the slant of SH's comment on engineering standards.  I think SH was really wondering if the large engineering projects of today were adjusting their safety factors to take into account the changing climate.  Not that there was a Fukushima type danger if this plant was destroyed by bad weather, but that this is a very expensive development (2.2 billion) and we better make sure it does not blow down in the wind.  This is a good question and, in a way, it isn't a question but rather a statement that all engineering projects should be adjusting their safety factors in light of the changes that are coming.  We are going to be very constrained on resources and we will regret it if we have to spend them rebuilding infrastructure that a good design would have saved from destruction (a la Fukushima).

This was exactly my point. Over $2 billion and 2 years to complete. Heaven help us if there is a massive storm with grapefruit sized hail and 90 mph winds.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Jim Hunt on September 08, 2013, 01:20:05 PM
FERC chairman Jon Wellinghoff thinks "Solar Is Going to Overtake Everything (http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/ferc-chair-wellinghoff-sees-a-solar-future-and-a-utility-of-the-future)"

There are a couple of provisos though:

Quote
If FERC does not ensure the grid is ready to integrate the growing marketplace demand for distributed solar and other distributed resources we are going to have problems with grid reliability and overall grid costs.

Rate structures need to be formulated in ways that fully recognize the costs and benefits of distributed resources. In many utility retail rates, a disproportionate amount of the fixed costs are recovered through a variable rate. That is problematic when a lot of people go to distributed generation.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: wili on September 08, 2013, 01:25:01 PM
"if there is a massive storm with grapefruit sized hail and 90 mph winds."

But that could never happen.

Could it??

http://www.businessinsider.com/tornado-and-hail-storm-granbury-texas-2013-5 (http://www.businessinsider.com/tornado-and-hail-storm-granbury-texas-2013-5)

Quote
On Wednesday night, hail the size of grapefruits rained down on Granbury, Texas, right before as many as three tornadoes rolled through the town, resulting in at least six confirmed deaths
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: JimD on September 08, 2013, 05:21:45 PM
ccg

Don't forget the insurance industry.  They have a big impact on the engineering safety factors used in designs.  I would expect for some years yet that the insurance factor will keep things from being built too cheap.  Look at the changes which occurred in Florida and along the rest of the Gulf Coast following Hurricane Andrew.  All new houses built there since can withstand much higher winds (Cat 4 I believe) than before (so they will be there until slr washes them away).

Looking around a bit I found the following.

Quote
Atlanta, GA (May 24, 2011) – Beecher Carlson, an industry specialized insurance brokerage and risk management consulting firm, announced that it has brokered a customized solution to mitigate warranty risk for the solar field components at the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System (ISEGS). Construction began in October 2010 on the Ivanpah project in California’s Mojave Desert.

Quote
The extended warranty is a product that mitigates long term warranty and serial defect risk.  It is customized to cover defects in design, materials and workmanship for all manufactured solar components and design specifications.  The policy extends coverage for serial defects, as well as costs incurred for research, re-design and re-engineering.


That being said I think ccg has a point also as I found the following as well.

The entire site has been graded and a series of flood protection berms and channels have been created in order to drain rainfall and control flash flooding for the 100 year event.  The average precipitation is 8.3 inches a year and the 100 year rain event is 3.33 inches in 24 hours.  The flood control berms are 10 ft high and the channels are 2 ft deep and 40 ft wide and are designed to take the flood waters and divert them around the site and on downhill to the lake bed.  The roads servicing the site are not up to this grade of protection however.

The point could be made that they should have planned for a 500 year flood vice a 100 year flood.  But there is also the point that climate projections for this area in the future are deep drought and one might expect less rainfall (but why not make the berms 15 ft high and the channel 5 ft deep and 80 ft wide.  It is just moving dirt.

I think the big item we are wondering about is the heliostats (the structure that holds 2 of the mirrors) of which there are 175,000 and whether they might blow down in the wind.  These look just like the structures used all over the southwest to hold the large solar panels.

I note that the world record for land speed by a wind powered craft was set on the lake bed here in 2009 at 126 mph (Terryyyyyyyeee!!!...phft!...wow! Who would have known there were that many pieces in one of those things!).

I spent a fair amount of time looking for wind specs on the heliostat's and could not find any actual design specs but we know they took this into mind.  I did find a very involved mechanical engineering research paper, performed by Colo State for Sandia National Labs, on calculating wind loads on heliostats to cover all situations.  Full of calculus and wind tunnel tests which provides a set of formulas to enter in wind data that return structure load figures for every conceivable situation.  It even include separate formulas for the heliostats which were on the end of the rows or in the middle of the rows.  Comprehensive.  So, unless they were stupid and punched in the wrong wind values they should be able to get the proper design specs drawn up. 
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: ghoti on September 08, 2013, 08:44:15 PM
I'd like to point out something that's seems to have been left unsaid here. If the engineering projections turn out to have underestimated the severity of some weather event and the site is damaged what are the consequences to everyone in the surrounding area? Practically no consequence. It becomes a business and insurance problem for a few. Shall we compare this with the effects and cost of nuclear plants with problems (eg. San Onofre) or the continuous consequences of coal generation plants.

You can't engineer for every scenario but you can choose the more benign technology options.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: domen_ on September 08, 2013, 09:16:58 PM
If whole world would get power from nuclear then all of the uranium reserves would perish in 20 years. And that's only beginning of problems with nuclear. Other significant problems are high cost and radioactive waste.

I don't see any other serious options than renewables. They're cheaper, they're plenty, they're scalable, they can be deployed fast enough (which nuclear cannot), they have very low impact on environment. The only problem seems to be intermittency. But batteries will solve this as soon as mass production kicks in. Germany started subsidies for batteries a couple of months ago and it seems they'll be on the frontier of progress again.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: TerryM on September 08, 2013, 11:17:27 PM
While I doubt that hail will be a problem having never experienced any in the 30+ years I lived in the area I do worry about rainfall and winds. I was never able to coax my sand sailer much above 80 MPH, but speeds in excess of 60 (100 KPH) were very common. I did pilot the craft that had won the America's Cup the previous year and it was capable of 100 MPH speeds with the right combination of wind and piloting skill.
Dust devils are common in the summer but i don't know if their wind speeds exceed the winds that funnel down through the canyons due to pressure differentials. In 1994 winds associated with a thunderstorm did $50 million in damage in nearby Las Vegas. 84 MPH gusts have been recorded in Las Vegas, but Ivanpah's winds are much stronger.

As I see the flooding problem it's that the dry lake bed is the lowest elevation for miles in all directions. When it rains water runs off, races through gullies and finds it's way to the low area. The soil is an extremely expansive mix of sand and clay and when it expands by up to 50% it heaves whatever structures are on it similar to the way structures built on melting permafrost are tossed about in slow motion.
The rail line to the east of the valley carefully stayed at a higher elevation, then raised the tracks about 10 feet from this base. Trains are required to creep through that stretch because of the flexing that the tracks faced whenever moisture is present.
The annual rainfall figures are deceptive in that all the rain generally comes at one time. You will have 51 weeks without precipitation, then one week in which everything is inundated. The Nelsons Landing flash flood was east of this location and resulted in the removal of a community, buildings roadways and people (9 dead?) in the early 70's. The 40 foot wall of water turned a gently sloping valley into a rugged canyon with tall hoodoos standing to commemorate where the surface of the land had been.
Ivanpah dry lake bed is the second valley west from Nelson.
When flooding does occur those who say little damage will be done to anything other than the solar installation are correct. Cactus Kate's and Whiskey Pete's were originally portable structures designed to be abandoned if the water suddenly rose. There's little evidence that paleo people utilized the area since flooding removed whatever evidence might have been found. Nearby dry lakes are replete with stone fishing weirs and at least one huge freshwater clam midden left by people in more pulluvila times. Ivanpah is almost unique in showing no evidence of ancient habitation, in my mind evidence of very destructive inundations in the past.
I recognize that solar is the future and that insolation in the Mojave is among the highest in the world. I do wish that they would build them at higher elevations relative to the local terrain. As weather becomes less predictable building in areas that have in the past been underwater isn't any more sensible than building permanent structures on a floodplain near a major river.
Terry
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: JimD on September 12, 2013, 05:50:29 PM
Well!!  This ought to generate some comments.

(disclaimer: I am not advocating for the position the article takes, but it sure points out the other side of the German wind/solar program which we do not hear much about.)

Romantic Germany risks economic decline as green dream spoils

Heading for a train wreck?  Or not?

Quote
Chancellor Angela Merkel tied a deadweight around the ankles of her country when she suddenly - and flippantly - abandoned her nuclear policy after Japan’s Fukushima disaster in 2011. “This has forever changed the way we define risk,” she said at the time. “It’s over.”....

....Eight nuclear reactors were shut immediately, the rest to be wound down by 2022. This will cut off a fifth of Germany’s total power. To global astonishment - and the Left’s chagrin - she then unveiled her Faustian “Energiewende”, the grand plan to derive half of all German electricity from wind, solar, biomass and other renewables by 2035, and 80pc by the middle of the century.  The assumption was that Germany would gain a “first-mover” lead in renewables, reaping the reward later. They overlooked the Chinese,  who copied the technology. Chinese firms gouged the German home market with the aid of cheap labour, a cheap yuan, cheap state credit and a global trade system that let them get away with it.

The German solar industry has been smashed. QCells, Conergy, Solon and Solarworld have all gone bust or faced debt restructuring. The subsidies for feed-in tariffs have been leaked abroad. Eight of the world’s 10 biggest solar firms are now Chinese.

......Utilities are turning to coal - and cheap lignite, emitting 30pc more CO2 - to plug the gap. Germany’s greenhouse emissions rose 1.6pc last year.....
....Sudden surges of power - the intermittency effect - are overloading the grid and crippling utilities E.ON and RWE. The pair have threatened to shut down 21,000MW of power plants.....

....Electricity prices are twice as high as in America. Natural gas costs are four times as high, forcing the chemical giants of the Ruhr and the Rhine to decamp across the Atlantic. BASF is building its new site for emulsion polymers in Texas, the latest of a €4.2bn investment blitz in the US.

Günther Oettinger, Germany’s EU commissioner, has called for a top-to-bottom review of the policy and a dash for shale. “We need industry; we cannot be the good guys for the whole world if no one is follows suit,” he said. .... 

Comments?

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/comment/ambroseevans_pritchard/10303285/Romantic-Germany-risks-economic-decline-as-green-dream-spoils.html (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/comment/ambroseevans_pritchard/10303285/Romantic-Germany-risks-economic-decline-as-green-dream-spoils.html)


Edit  additional interesting link

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/10295045/Brussels-fears-European-industrial-massacre-sparked-by-energy-costs.html (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/10295045/Brussels-fears-European-industrial-massacre-sparked-by-energy-costs.html)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: domen_ on September 12, 2013, 09:09:09 PM
Unfortunately there is a massive anti-renewables campaign out there and it's been quite successful at making lots of confusion. It's evil twin is confusion about global warming, and both of them are fueled by fossil fuel industry (which is not really surprising).

I've read the linked article and first thing one should note is that Telegraph has posted dubious articles in the past (like recent pile of ignorance: "Global warming? No, actually we're cooling, claim scientists" (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/climatechange/10294082/Global-warming-No-actually-were-cooling-claim-scientists.html)) so one should take it with a grain of salt. Nonetheless let's take a look at some of the claims. It says:
Quote
It was an earthquake and tsunami that caused the Fukushima tragedy. Germany’s nuclear plants are not at risk from such flooding, nor are they built on tectonic faultlines. As a scientist with a PhD in subatomic reactions, Dr Merkel knows that the post-Fukushima panic in Germany was hysterical.
While it is true that Germany is not on major tectonic faultlines, that does not imply that there is no danger. There certainly is a risk from flooding because all nuclear plants are built next to rivers and use water for cooling. A major flooding event can enforce an involuntary shutdown (this happened two years ago in my country, Slovenia, just a little bit south of Germany). Germany also had several nuclear accidents (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_power_in_Germany#Accidents) with radiation leaking into surrounding areas and rivers (and also causing lots of economic damage).

Anti-nuclear public opinion in Germany is very strong and it started decades ago, even before Chernobil. They planned to shutdown all of their reactors long before Fukushima and it's wrong to say it's just a hysterical reaction. It isn't. It may have speeded things up a little, but their nuclear plants were planned for shut down either way.
Quote
Utilities are turning to coal - and cheap lignite, emitting 30pc more CO2 - to plug the gap. Germany’s greenhouse emissions rose 1.6pc last year.
There are two things to be said about Germany turning to coal. First is this one:
(https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e2/Electricity_production_in_Germany.PNG)
Most of closed nuclear has been replaced by renewables and only a minor portion by coal. Note that the trendline of renewables is speeding up.

And secondly, most of current German coal plants that are being built were planned 5-6 years ago. There are no plans for any new ones. They are only making plans how to phase existing ones out.

It's not a perfect transition, that's for sure. Also, it's not big enough and fast enough to cope with challenge of climate change. But making a claim that coal use in Germany is rising is nonetheless false. It's not rising, it's been more or less steady in last couple of years, and it's planned that it's going to decline significantly after 2015.
Quote
The German solar industry has been smashed. QCells, Conergy, Solon and Solarworld have all gone bust or faced debt restructuring. The subsidies for feed-in tariffs have been leaked abroad. Eight of the world’s 10 biggest solar firms are now Chinese.

 As a solar enthusiast, I am grateful to the Germans for their altruism. Roughly €100bn of their money has gone up in smoke - one way or another - developing solar technologies that have helped drive down costs to near “grid parity” in low latitudes. The great prize of market-based solar is within grasp. Sadly for German citizens, they will see no special benefit.
First of all, not just German solar industry has been smashed. USA's also (Solyndra), Chinese also (SunTech), Spain's also,... Numerous bankruptcies were (and still are) a consequence of global financial crisis and market consolidation. It's not just Germany that is suffering from that.

And secondly, German citizens benefited enormously from their renewable program. Renewables have become very cheap (rooftop solar has become cheaper than grid), there 4x more jobs for the same amount of energy in renewable sector than in conventional fuels, there are huge environmental gains and power production is going away from the hands of big utilities into hands of communities and citizens. Big changes there.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on September 13, 2013, 10:32:24 AM
Hi JimD and domen_,

first comment: In Germany we have election next week resulting in a lot of noise - the current government (Coalition of conservative and liberal party, while "conservative" not try to conserve the planet but the outdated way of life and "liberal" is mainly the lobby of investors interested in efficiently transfering wealth from future to present time) is trying to reduce investment in renewables. So  Merkels "Faustian “Energiewende”" is only words and not a plan - it was just an popular U-turn (Fukushima 2011) after an U-turn (increased life-time of nuclear in 2010). There was no "hysteric panic" in Germany after Fukushima - most poeple just were upset because Merkel killed the "Energiewende" in 2010. It was just very easy  because of Fukushima to find public ears those days, forcing Merkel to react as she always is reacting instead of acting.

The real "Energiewende" from 2000 was a strategy based on broad agreement of industry and consumers. The real thing was nearly killed in the past 4 years - there is no working strategy left now, Merkels Energiewende from 2011 was a proclamation solely.

After election in 10 days we will see, if Germany is willing to work on a strategy again. It is needed, to develop the energy sources based on costs including future costs - everything else would not turn out fruitfull for German population in future.

The future costs of energie sources and costs of consumption of environment are quite well known allready. Only that costs are the reason to invest in renewables. E.g. additional cost of coal in Germany is about 8 c/kWh while PV is 1-2c/kWh additional - so renewables are competetive allready (article in Zeit from yesterday - not online yet. Edit 09/19: now online here http://www.zeit.de/2013/38/energiewende-chaos-wahl (http://www.zeit.de/2013/38/energiewende-chaos-wahl)). Future cost of nuclear is close to infinity considering safatey costs for the next million years, which has to be paid solely by tax payers (German energy industry was convinced to start nuclear by that promise).
Furthermore - energy price should rise in future anyway, if energy cost shall be constant: That is the way to trigger energy efficiency and reduction of consumption to get sustainable soon.

So - we need a new strategy in Germany. Once renewables are 25% or more, the investion/subvention must not solely depend on amount of energy but on fluctuating demand. That must work on fluctuating price. If that will be done properly, Germany poeple will benefit from from the strategy because of cheap energy costs in future - in 15-20 years the plants produce energy nearly for free and long term costs are minimal for future generations.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Neven on September 13, 2013, 11:07:10 PM
One thing I almost never read about is that profits generated by renewables aren't paid to tax payers - in form of lower prices, which would be fair because they pay for the FIT subsidies - but get pocketed by the big utility companies. To fully complete the circle of irony, they probably use some of that money to finance the propaganda we see from Der Spiegel etc.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on September 14, 2013, 12:49:03 AM
Neven, at least for Germany that is probably wrong: Big utility companys here do not profit from renewables, they lose money because electricity prices droped much because of renewables and the big utility play-ground off-shore wind is not profitable yet. The profits from renewables go to house owners, farmers and the banks (because of risk-free credits).
Now big utility is sitting on fading nuclear and non-flexible old big power plants. They will perhaps not get enough profit to invest in their future - looking much like deceasing dinosaurs http://www.zeit.de/2013/37/energiewende-konzerne-stromversorger (http://www.zeit.de/2013/37/energiewende-konzerne-stromversorger).
Perhaps that is the reason why Spiegel forum is flooded by insane posts...

And renewables are not paid by German tax-payers but by normal electricity consumers (the large consumers do not have to pay that fee...). Tax-payers will have to pay the future extra costs for nuclear (storage) and partly for coal.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: domen_ on September 14, 2013, 01:18:31 AM
SATire, thanks for sharing, it's great to hear comments from someone from Germany.

I am actually a bit surprised that Germans don't see Angela Merkel's government as a success as far as renewables go. Because renewables really speed up in the last 5-6 years and this is actually time of Merkel's government. Why would you say that this government nearly killed Energiewende? I don't really understand that.
Quote
Once renewables are 25% or more, the investion/subvention must not solely depend on amount of energy but on fluctuating demand. That must work on fluctuating price.
What about batteries and other types of storage? And where does this number 25% come from? Denmark has 30% wind power and they can handle it within their existing grid. Germany has 5% of PV and 8% of wind and it seems that there is some space left before you'd need to start managing demand side (not that I'm against it).
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Neven on September 14, 2013, 07:52:17 AM
Thanks, SATire, I watched a documentary on the Energiewende a while back, and there they explained that there was some money being made related to the Energiewende, but that utility companies pocketed this money. Can't remember how it worked exactly, but it amounted to energy prices being higher than necessary, and that renewables opposition used it as a populist argument to kill renewables (prices too high because of renewables).

Quote
What about batteries and other types of storage?

The German government has actually introduced a subsidy for batteries, partly to compensate for their faster-than-initially-promised reduction of feed-in tariffs.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on September 14, 2013, 01:20:56 PM
Hi domen_

First a comment on the portion of renewables from total electricty, after which one should switch from fixed prices to demand driven prices:
I agree, the number of 25% is a bit arbitrary and could also be 30%. But keep in mind that Denmark has the relatively bigger battery Norway next to it while Germany has the small battery Netherland - that is an important practical factor.

Second comment on "why this government nearly killed Energiewende":
Keep in mind, that the EEG from 2000 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erneuerbare-Energien-Gesetz (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erneuerbare-Energien-Gesetz) triggered the transition to renewables and it is still working today. In a start-up phase you allways see the greatest absolut increase in the latest years.  It is normal problem in politics, that the fruits are harvested by later governments.

Why this government is nearly killing the thing:
1. By exceptions: More and more big consumers are excluded from paying the fee making the fee more expansive for small consumers. Poeple are normal consumers and thus acceptance of renewables is driven down.
2. By their wording: The government argues only on current price of electricity blaming renwables and is not talking about future costs or consumption of environment.
3. And mainly by refusing to act: The EEG must be adapted to future needs. I need to explain that in more detail here.

The EEG (guaranteed fixed prices for renewables and preference for renewables on the grid) was very good to get renewables past the tipping point. If you include also future costs of the energy sources, that tipping point has already passed in Germany - so a clear "yes" to the topic of this thread.
The next thing to do is to produce as most electricity from renewables as possible. To do that cost efficiently the prices must follow demand. We have days in Germany with allready 60% electricity from renewables and other days with much less.
http://www.topagrar.com/news/Energie-Energienews-Neuer-Weltrekord-bei-erneuerbaren-Energien-in-Deutschland-1183168.html (http://www.topagrar.com/news/Energie-Energienews-Neuer-Weltrekord-bei-erneuerbaren-Energien-in-Deutschland-1183168.html)
You may find a lot of detailed numbers in the download area here: http://www.ise.fraunhofer.de/en/renewable-energy-data?set_language=en (http://www.ise.fraunhofer.de/en/renewable-energy-data?set_language=en)

To fill the gaps, we need both flexible production and flexible demand. Therefore a new law must link production and demand in a way, that both change to meet each other. This is the task avoided by the current government. In future production and demand must be met cost efficiently. I think, batteries are to expensive and we need all that rare materials to put it in our cars. There are way easier methods than batteries: Power the fridges just when there is much wind/sun and reduce your air-conditioning to more healthy temperatures - I always get a cold in USA or Singapore because I forget to take coat with me when I go shopping...

Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on September 14, 2013, 05:04:39 PM
A picture is telling more than words - so attached (need to log in) you see the cost and FIT of PV and how they were brought to the tipping point since 2000. Source: pdf "Recent facts about photovoltaics in Germany" on this site: http://www.ise.fraunhofer.de/en/renewable-energy-data?set_language=en (http://www.ise.fraunhofer.de/en/renewable-energy-data?set_language=en)

If you add 10ct/kWh external cost for coal, you see we are well beyond the tipping point for new installed PV and soon also for roof-top. Wind on land is even better.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on September 15, 2013, 11:36:36 AM
I feel that I have to explain my critics of old EEG a bit more explicite:

In my opinion what we need in Germany to transit to 100% renewables until 2040 or so is splitting the red curve in the picture above in two different electricity products:

1) Electricity delivered on demand by customer: High price, sometimes even very high. E.g. for cooking, lighting, TV, ...
2) Electricty delivered by the time determined by the producer: Low price, sometimes even negative. E.g. for fridges, air-condition, charging the car battery, ...

The customer with a car battery may also become a producer: In very high price peaks, currently met by oil combustion or gas turbines, the car battery could be discharged to some level to earn some money.

Bioenergy (from waste not crops - we need the alcohol from crops for our drinks ;-) is another energy usable for peaks. Furthermore storage in water energy (e.g. Norger, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NorGer (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NorGer)) could be extended also in cooperation with Austria and Switzerland. Power-to gas is another way. But in general case politics should not rule the price - the market should do it now under fair guidance. The reason for a different way in 2000 was, that PV was way to expensive but it was assumed, that the cost reduction potential was also greatest. That fully turned out - green party was right those days. So some exceptions make sense.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on September 15, 2013, 01:28:16 PM
(yet another addition to the former posts as explanation)
The problem of the current system in Germany is, that prices change due to renewables (see picture attached, need to log in). Renewables are allways preferred on the grid, since running costs are lowest. Since you can not tune sunlight or wind, something else must be tuned. Big fossile-nuclear utility typically can be tuned only to 40% and must fade out anyway. So the prices will be increasingly variable in future.

But today in Germany neither customers (fixed prices for households) nor the 1.3 million producers of renewables (fixed FIT for installed systems up to 20 years) can feel the prices at the stock-market. Such system must collapse in the case, renewables shall be succesfull in future, too.   

Source: slide 15, http://www.ise.fraunhofer.de/en/downloads-englisch/pdf-files-englisch/news/electricity-prices-and-production-data-2013.pdf (http://www.ise.fraunhofer.de/en/downloads-englisch/pdf-files-englisch/news/electricity-prices-and-production-data-2013.pdf)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Jim Hunt on September 15, 2013, 07:21:52 PM

2) Electricity delivered by the time determined by the producer: Low price, sometimes even negative. E.g. for fridges, air-condition, charging the car battery, ...

What they call "Demand Response" in the U S of A is essential IMHO. To some extent at least, reduce the demand to suit the supply, rather than increase the supply to meet the demand. "Low cost" storage is essential too. EV batteries, either still in the vehicle or pensioned off?

I actually sit on IEC committees that decide on international standards for this sort of stuff, so if you have any bright ideas do please let me know!  The process is largely driven by the incumbent utilities of course, so I can't promise to deliver anything much I'm afraid, but if you never ask the question you never find out the answer!
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on September 15, 2013, 11:42:30 PM
Hi Jim,

it is very nice to have an expert here. I am not and expert on standardization but I want to take my chance.

In Germany and Scandinavia or other liberal countries it is important that private data is secure. So private machines must not phone home to companies or governments about their existence or needs. That would not be accepted by poeple and such system must fail.

Instead, the local distributor of electricity (typically community owned) should mail the "day ahead" data of prices to the machines (see blue line in post above). The fridge should be programmed by the owner - since a "class A" fridge needs power every few days, it could decide on that basis and the programming by the owner (e.g. for a -18°C fridge: if Temp >-20°C buy for 20C, if Temp >-22°C buy for 10C...). Similarly for the battery in my car: It should be programmable, that it always has 30km to get me to work and back - the rest can be used to sell expensive electricity and buy cheap one to pay for degeneration and some profit for me.

For all other purposes it would be desirable, that the current price and the forecast for the next hours would be displayed in the home. That would allow the consumer to decide properly.

The local electricty distributor will learn about the flexible demand in his region and can adapt to it in his forecasts and may give this data to broad distributers for their forecasts.

On the producers side, there should be e.g. some extra FIT for PV adjusted to east or west instead of south - resulting in less absolute power but more expensive power in the morning and the evening.

And lastly - the system must be compatible with 100% renewables in future. E.g. see attached picture from: http://www.ise.fraunhofer.de/de/veroeffentlichungen/veroeffentlichungen-pdf-dateien/studien-und-konzeptpapiere/studie-100-erneuerbare-energien-in-deutschland.pdf (http://www.ise.fraunhofer.de/de/veroeffentlichungen/veroeffentlichungen-pdf-dateien/studien-und-konzeptpapiere/studie-100-erneuerbare-energien-in-deutschland.pdf)

(translations: Stromnutzung: demand of electricity, -erzeugung: generation, KWK: cogeneration of heat and power, GUD: gas and steam turbine, P2G: power to gas, Wärme Sp.: Heat storage)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Laurent on September 16, 2013, 12:20:42 PM
Plant-e: living plants generate electricity (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ku1-_MOzkTE#ws)
A new form of renewable energy !?
Only 0,4w/m2...They expect more in the futur...

It would be nice if the companies that sell the electricity could adjust the production according to the demand real time. Let's give them a 1/4 of the control over the production...!?
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Laurent on September 16, 2013, 12:26:23 PM
Prepare for the race... vrooom, vrooomm !
Teams prepare for solar challenge across Australian outback (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fOqcvpJvJRo#ws)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on September 16, 2013, 01:20:10 PM
It would be nice if the companies that sell the electricity could adjust the production according to the demand real time. Let's give them a 1/4 of the control over the production...!?
Laurent, they can not do that.
Most of the 1.3 million plants in Germany are PV or wind - they can not tune and they do not want to tune, because running cost is about zero.
The nuclear-fossil fraction in high production time is mainly nuclear and brown coal - that can not be tuned below 40-60%. That is why they produce electricity even for negative price (see picture of utilization attached). That is also the reason, why CO2 emission is constant while renewables increase: The brown coal must burn in steady rate - so that electricity must go to export even if they have to pay someone for taking that power... Brown coal is bullshit - it is so cheap only because external costs are ignored.
 
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: slow wing on September 16, 2013, 02:00:57 PM
Agree with the importance of demand response as raised by Satire and also addressed by Jim Hunt.

The market can address the matching of demand with supply if real time pricing is available to the consumer that reflects the instantaneous supply and demand for electricity. For example, the consumer electricity cost could be marked up from the wholesale price by a constant factor.

Doing that would make electricity available for a few cents per kWh for those willing to buy it for off peak use and for those with batteries.

The cheapest 'battery' that I am aware of is well-insulated hot water tanks that can store 24 hours worth of hot water. Hot water accounts for around 30% of total energy usage in a typical household. If that energy is available at only a few cents per kWh then such tanks could play a major role in matching energy demand with supply even for grids with large amounts of renewable energy such as wind power.


Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Jim Hunt on September 16, 2013, 02:55:52 PM
Some interesting news about a large renewable energy project in the waters off Scotland:

http://econnexus.org/meygen-gets-go-ahead-for-86mw-tidal-energy-project/ (http://econnexus.org/meygen-gets-go-ahead-for-86mw-tidal-energy-project/)

Quote
It is the largest tidal stream energy project to be awarded consent in Europe and constitutes the first phase of a site that could eventually yield up to 398MW.

(https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.atlantisresourcescorporation.com%2Fimages%2Fstories%2Fss-02.jpg&hash=eb7f90410ce8a0b9521d028146b8205c)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on September 16, 2013, 03:35:56 PM
The cheapest 'battery' that I am aware of is well-insulated hot water tanks that can store 24 hours worth of hot water. Hot water accounts for around 30% of total energy usage in a typical household.
Hello slow wing, you are absolutely right with that. The brownish color in the picture "Stromnutzung = utilization of electricity/ demand" in post #131 is just that "heat storage=Wärme Sp.". Of course that makes only sense, if the electricty comes from wind (wind on-shore or wind off-shore) and then it is a valuable "battery". For 100% energy from renewables that is the way to heat in 2050.
If electricity is not from wind, it is is way cheaper to get heat by solar collectors. And to burn some fossils to get ~40% electricity energy and to convert that back to heat is absolute nonsense - heat that water better directly by the flame at home, if you really want to burn something.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: JimD on September 16, 2013, 06:01:26 PM
Japan turns off last nuclear reactor

Since the 2011 Fukushima disaster Japan has been shutting down its nuclear reactors.  The last one today.  Over 50 reactors which supplied 30% of Japans electricity.

This has resulted in a dramatic rise in demand for natural gas which is putting upward pressure on global natural gas prices.

Quote
German businesses have complained that they pay the highest energy bills in the EU following the pioneering decision to subsidise renewable production. Much of the subsidy cost is passed on through higher bills, forcing major manufacturers BMW, Mercedes and Siemens to pay double the cost of electricity in the US. The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, has promised to cut subsidies to solar and wind farm operators, but has yet to specify the size of the cut or the timescale.

It is also unclear what will replace the more environmentally friendly forms of electricity if operators are discouraged from further investments by lower subsidies. At the moment Germany and the UK have dramatically increased their consumption of coal and gas to make up the shortfall from nuclear production.

Quote
Japan, which ran huge trade surpluses until the Fukishima disaster, has seen its balance of payments thrown into reverse by the costs of purchasing LNG.

Japan consumes about a third of the world's LNG and it is likely that demand will grow to record levels over the next couple of years

Yikes!

As natural gas prices rise I see a few things happening.  One is that renewables will become a bit more competitive.  Two coal will become much more attractive and consumption of coal will likely rise at a several percent.  Three drilling for shale gas in the US will become profitable again (currently they lose money on each well).  One good, one bad, one maybe.

http://www.theguardian.com/business/2013/sep/16/japan-nuclear-shutdown-raises-energy-prices (http://www.theguardian.com/business/2013/sep/16/japan-nuclear-shutdown-raises-energy-prices)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on September 16, 2013, 07:13:36 PM
Quote
The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, has promised to cut subsidies to solar and wind farm operators, but has yet to specify the size of the cut or the timescale.
[...]
It is also unclear what will replace the more environmentally friendly forms of electricity if operators are discouraged from further investments by lower subsidies. At the moment Germany and the UK have dramatically increased their consumption of coal and gas to make up the shortfall from nuclear production.
Hi JimD, the information you got is very misleading in the 2 quoted points:
1) Even if the FIT would be turned to zero now - it would not change electricity prices much. The high FIT-times are long over - see post #127 - the FIT for new installations is now very close to fossil-nuclear price. We just have to pay the bill for getting solar to the tipping point 15-20 years anyway - after that, we will have it for free. So we give a bit back to our children we have stolen by using nuclear.
2) The coal burning in Germany has not much to do with nuclear. Especially the CO2-rich brown coal is burning for export even for negative prices just because it can not be tuned (post #134).
3) do not blame Fukushima for German Energiewende dated in year 2000 (post #121 and #126) - the exit from nuclear was due to large future prices & risks, which are both not accepted by poeple. Nuclear can not help renewables anyway.

(edit) JimD - the above is not critics to your comment. I assume the source you cited is election campaign. That pretty much explains also, why Merkel "has yet to specify the size of the cut or the timescale". She will tell soon after next weeks election , that solar companies all around the world will have yet another bad year...
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: JimD on September 18, 2013, 05:31:00 PM
SATire

I understand the effects that elections can have on reporting and what politicians say and do.  We have the same problem here.

But the big take away from the above article for me is the climbing consumption of coal.  Germany is up 1.6% for whatever reason.  This is a bad number to be getting from the country which is foremost in the attempt to switch to a heavy reliance on renewables. 

There is going to be a continuing upward push on natural gas prices and this will result in coal becoming more competitive price wise.  It is highly likely that coal consumption will continue to increase for a number of years yet. 

I am always looking for the first evidence of increasing capacities of renewables being used to offset fossil fuel use (we turn this coal plant off because we have wind to replace it).  To date I have not seen any meaningful evidence of this occurring.  As far as I know essentially all renewable capacity installed in the world to date has just added to capacity.  It has not been used to retire fossil capacity.  We will know that we are starting to turn the corner on this issue when retiring old  capacity becomes the norm.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on September 18, 2013, 07:00:18 PM
I am always looking for the first evidence of increasing capacities of renewables being used to offset fossil fuel use (we turn this coal plant off because we have wind to replace it).  To date I have not seen any meaningful evidence of this occurring. 
JimD - that is ecactly what I am looking for. But as I have tried to explain in all the posts above, in Germany that will not happen with current set-up of "Energiewende". Just look at the graphs - renewables just make the electricity from coal to get exported instead of get it switched off. Therefore, the CO2 emission is not effected by renewables.

Maybe I have to be even more explicit: In Germany the reason for that problem is brown coal.

Why not hard coal? Because it can be tuned down to 10%. So electricity by wind and PV result in less hard coal to be burned. If there is no wind or sun, the hard coal is burned and the plants run according to demand. Just look at the utilization graph.

Why is brown coal to be blamed? It can only tuned down to ~50% of full capacity of the plant. Because of all the water in the brown coal, it can not be tuned lower - the fire would die. So if there is wind and sun, the brown coal keeps on burning for nothing. They even export the electricity for large negative price - they pay someone to take the power while emitting CO2!

Why do they not switch off brown coal plants for a day (since day-ahead prices are quite precise, that would be the way to do - see post above)? Because it takes 15h to start the brown coal plant again - that takes a lot of energy. And because every shut-down and start-up results in serious degradation of the plant. Both reasons translate to large costs for the owner and are avoided by paying someone to get rid of the power while emitting CO2 for nothing...

So you will not see significant reduction of CO2 emissions in Germany before some brown coal plants close (without being replaced by new ones, of course). But new brown coal plants are already planned...

What we need to get arround that are: storage, tunable renewables like water and biogas, and for transition period we need only tunable fossils.
What we do not need are: continuous fossil like brown coal, nuclear (which is also not tunable well, too). Those do not help us to prevent CO2.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on September 18, 2013, 07:29:17 PM
to give some evidence to my words in the post above please find atached a picture from here: http://www.ise.fraunhofer.de/de/downloads/pdf-files/aktuelles/kohleverstromung-zu-zeiten-niedriger-boersenstrompreise.pdf (http://www.ise.fraunhofer.de/de/downloads/pdf-files/aktuelles/kohleverstromung-zu-zeiten-niedriger-boersenstrompreise.pdf)
Be careful - it is election time in Germany and this study was ordered by green party from solar Fraunhofer institute ;-)

top picture: prices in week 12 (large negative price on sunday)

lower picture: where did the energy come from
(translation: Laufwaser = river water, Braunkohle=brown coal, Steinkohle= hard coal, Pumpspeicher= water pump accumulator)

edit: Utilization on that sunday in March at 2-3pm (during the negative price peak) was: river water 32%, nuclear 77%, brown coal 56%, hard coal 12%, gas 19%, wind 55%, solar PV 42% of installed peak capacity. That was for -7 c/kWh and a lot went for export...
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: dlen on October 05, 2013, 03:33:03 PM
Satire, I had noticed that electricity export craze in Germany, too - good, You bring the point.
Concerning "tipping point":
Grid parity of a kwh of solar or wind electric energy is not sufficient for a breakthrough.
The cost of the kwh are basically the capital costs of the investment.
And to make large scale renewables workable, there has to be much more investment than just installing all the windmills and pv-panels and tidal turbines (which are great!!):

* storage (both research and investments - for electricity, there is no cheap solution)
* long distance high voltage lines ( which can to a degree diminish the necessity of storage)
* demand modification (which comes also at a price for control technique)
* general decrease of energy demand by efficiency increase and - horribile dictu - just using less

All these costs have to be added to the core windmill-and-panel-costs.
So we are not through for quite a while.
There is still no consistent resolution to tackle climate change anywhere. There is still this narrative "We do it with some better technology and get away without paying the price. Energy has to be cheap to keep the economy running!".
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: domen_ on October 05, 2013, 07:04:59 PM
Fossil fuels are not cheap. This is rise of reinsurance costs because of increasing frequency of natural disasters:
(https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fshrani.si%2Ff%2F2K%2Frv%2F1IWtShed%2Fmunichre.jpg&hash=6efa97ace38b9fdea9e9de6aab055210)
You have to add these kind of costs to fossil fuels and when you do this, it's clear that renewables are much cheaper no matter how you look at it.

Barriers for wide spread renewables are not costs, but lack of political will, inflexibility and system inertia, some ideological barriers (libertarians come to mind), fossil fuel propaganda,..
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: AbruptSLR on October 05, 2013, 07:09:37 PM
The following link leads to a short article discussing some of the hidden costs of renewable energy:

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=renewable-energys-hidden-costs (http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=renewable-energys-hidden-costs)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: JimD on October 05, 2013, 07:26:36 PM
Fossil fuels are not cheap. This is rise of reinsurance costs because of increasing frequency of natural disasters:
.......
You have to add these kind of costs to fossil fuels and when you do this, it's clear that renewables are much cheaper no matter how you look at it.

Barriers for wide spread renewables are not costs, but lack of political will, inflexibility and system inertia, some ideological barriers (libertarians come to mind), fossil fuel propaganda,..

Domen,  One needs to be careful when using stats like this as it is easy to give or take the wrong impression from them.  Your point of view is based upon a "total" cost not on a business cost.  There is a huge difference involved.  While from a societal point of view the total cost is certainly relevant, from a business point of view what is most important is the bottom line of what the costs directly to the business are and how they effect the profitability (often the quarterly profitability).  Thus, if costs which are part of the total are 'external' to the companies bottom line they are not taken into account in making business decisions.

This is a long way of saying that, from a business perspective, it is actually the opposite of
Quote
it's clear that renewables are much cheaper no matter how you look at it

You are describing a situation which "should" exist as if it does exist.  Besides the barriers you speak of the most important factor required to change the external/internal cost situation is to assign ALL costs to any activity before evaluating the benefits of that activity.  This would require the complete reorganization of business activity across pretty much the entire world and, as such, is not something we are likely to see any time soon.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: domen_ on October 05, 2013, 08:00:32 PM
Jim, you are absolutely right. There is huge difference between total cost and business cost. But I think that it is fair to say that when people start talking that storage, grid expansion and demand management costs must be added to solar/wind, then we should also add pollution, health, insurance costs to fossil fuels. In both cases they are externalities which are not included in business cost. In both cases we are talking about total costs.

I don't mind if people point out that solar/wind have some additional costs. But that doesn't imply that fossil fuels don't have them. Policy should deal with these things. In current situation, we need a price on carbon.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on October 05, 2013, 08:28:18 PM
In current situation, we need a price on carbon.
That is a good point. In Germany the increased use of brown coal in 2012 and 2013 was due to extremly low prices for CO2 emission certificates (source given above). Due to European crisis and the success of renewables prices for CO2 emission dropped so much, that brown coal became competetive again - quite surprising and an ugly thing for global warming.

So we lost some years due to that low emission costs. Since PV is now down to 10ct/kWh (and still getting installed for that price) and electricty prices for households went up to 25-30 ct/kWh and both trends will continue we may argue if we passed the tipping point last year, this year or next year. It will be passed anyway.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on October 05, 2013, 08:34:07 PM
Concerning "tipping point":
Grid parity of a kwh of solar or wind electric energy is not sufficient for a breakthrough.
[...]

There is still this narrative "We do it with some better technology and get away without paying the price. Energy has to be cheap to keep the economy running!".
dlen, grid parity was some years ago - now PV is getting 10ct/kWh and sold for 25-30 (including taxes, grid and so on).
Storage: As you may see in above projection for 100% renewables in 2050 there is some battery and a lot of power2gas planned for the future. I am not sure, since efficiency for power-gas-power is in the range of 30-50%, that would increase wind power on average by a factor of 2 or so. So it would be a bit more expensive than PV today. Nevertheless - we are going to pay that.

Your last points: Some poeple are aware of the costs - they paid it and will pay for 10 more years. But some other still have to learn that lesson, they did pay nothing and just benefit from the work of others.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: dlen on October 08, 2013, 12:52:41 AM
The problem is, that we have a sort of negative scaling effect with renewables, which counteracts the decreasing cost of pv/wind installations. The more we have of them, the more expensive the accompagnying measures become. There is no such thing as one tipping point - there is only one for each degree of scale (and for each yearly insolation time/rated wind speed time for that matter). This is because with low market penetration, virtually no energy storage/long distance transport is necessary, but with high percentages of renewables, very considerable storage/transport/demand-control facilities have to be built.
The German energy export pointed out by You is feasible only until all the neighbour countries have their own noon PV surplus peaks.
Of course storage technology will evolve with time, too. It will become cheaper. Interestingly, with storage facilities, costs per kwh depend very strongly on storage frequency. Weekly storage is roughly seven times more expensive then daily storage of the same energy amount, because the capital costs of the storage facility has to be carried by 1/7th of the energy. And with rising renewables penetration, the need for longer time storage will increase too.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: domen_ on October 08, 2013, 01:09:50 AM
Quote
but with high percentages of renewables, very considerable storage/transport/demand-control facilities have to be built.
How high is "high percentage"? Germany has 25% of renewables, Denmark has 30% wind, and they both don't have any significant hydro power.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: dlen on October 08, 2013, 01:33:26 AM
I don't know what Denmark does with its excess wind power, but Germany's 25% is definitely already in the range, where storage/transport investments start to be significant. As Satire showed, this is somewhat due to the high percentage of brown coal usage. Without that, a lot more variation could be compensated for by quick reacting gas power stations.
So I forgot one thing to mention: quick reacting kinds of power stations. Yes, we can use them, as long as we have still a mixed electricity economy. But their load factor becomes smaller with each wind farm connecting to the grid, which in turn increases their capital costs per kwh. But I think, for the time beeing, this is the way to go: lots of gas power stations, which can be started or throttled within an hour or so. Not cheap! But provenly feasible. And more effective in terms of GHG emissions.
There is a row going on in Germany about the big north-to-south power lines already necessary to connect the northern wind farms to the southern industries.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on October 08, 2013, 10:57:52 AM
Quote
but with high percentages of renewables, very considerable storage/transport/demand-control facilities have to be built.
How high is "high percentage"? Germany has 25% of renewables, Denmark has 30% wind, and they both don't have any significant hydro power.
Denmark allready has a power line to Norway - their large hydro power stations act as green "battery". In 2015 the NorGer line between Germany and Norway will be ready, that will help a lot.
http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2011/08/renaissance-for-pumped-storage-in-europe (http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2011/08/renaissance-for-pumped-storage-in-europe)
Right now Germany uses e.g. Netherlands gas turbines as "battery" and exports a lot of PV power. That has to change of course. Next to batteries in cars power-to-gas is a good storage possibility. We have storage capacities for gas for about 3 month in German - that would do the job in future.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on October 08, 2013, 11:11:19 PM
I have just realized, that a feed-in tarif like in Germany is quite common in more than 60 countries allready. It looks like renewables are internationaly the accepted future for energy. That really gives some hope and there is no reason anymore to feel lonesome. Here is a nice overview: http://www.ren21.net/REN21Activities/GlobalStatusReport.aspx (http://www.ren21.net/REN21Activities/GlobalStatusReport.aspx)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: dlen on October 15, 2013, 12:51:29 AM
An interesting article on the cost of adjusting not only the grid but also the companies, which run it:

http://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21587782-europes-electricity-providers-face-existential-threat-how-lose-half-trillion-euros (http://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21587782-europes-electricity-providers-face-existential-threat-how-lose-half-trillion-euros)

Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: JimD on November 27, 2013, 09:00:12 PM
Solar Dominates New US Generating Capacity

Quote
The monthly energy infrastructure report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [PDF], which tracks utility-scale projects, shows that through October, 190 solar units totaling 2,528 megawatts in installed capacity had been added in 2013. That’s more than double the 1,257 MW for the same period in 2012, and constitutes 21 percent of all new electrical generating capacity this year....

Quote
..That said, for the year, natural gas remains the king in new capacity brought online, accounting for 6,625 MW of the overall total 12,327 MW added. Wind, still bouncing back from last year’s production tax credit scare, has seen 1,027 MW of new capacity come online. The industry appears headed for its weakest year since 2004, but expects to benefit next year from a pipeline now filling up with projects....

Not too bad.  But it still means coal grew by about 2100 MW.   But I am sure that it used to be much worse.

http://www.earthtechling.com/2013/11/solar-dominates-new-us-generating-capacity/ (http://www.earthtechling.com/2013/11/solar-dominates-new-us-generating-capacity/)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: ggelsrinc on November 27, 2013, 10:43:35 PM
The problem is, that we have a sort of negative scaling effect with renewables, which counteracts the decreasing cost of pv/wind installations. The more we have of them, the more expensive the accompagnying measures become. There is no such thing as one tipping point - there is only one for each degree of scale (and for each yearly insolation time/rated wind speed time for that matter). This is because with low market penetration, virtually no energy storage/long distance transport is necessary, but with high percentages of renewables, very considerable storage/transport/demand-control facilities have to be built.
The German energy export pointed out by You is feasible only until all the neighbour countries have their own noon PV surplus peaks.
Of course storage technology will evolve with time, too. It will become cheaper. Interestingly, with storage facilities, costs per kwh depend very strongly on storage frequency. Weekly storage is roughly seven times more expensive then daily storage of the same energy amount, because the capital costs of the storage facility has to be carried by 1/7th of the energy. And with rising renewables penetration, the need for longer time storage will increase too.

Of course, we have a sort of negative scaling effect with renewables and it will only get worse as our current damns (sp) lose glacier fed water. Wind and solar can't do the job, so only safe nuclear can. There are ways to provide energy and not pollute our planet, though they aren't in vogue. What is?
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: domen_ on November 28, 2013, 12:30:44 AM
In Germany new products are starting to appear on the market which boost self consumption a lot.

It works like this (a house with rooftop PV): when Sun is shining and you don't need electricity, you heat water and store it in hot water tank (which you need anyway). If some device turns on (lets say refrigerator) then you reduce water heating so that electricity from PV is also used for refrigerator. When refrigerator doesn't need electricity anymore, then you ramp up water heating again. This way house is using practically 100% of electricity that solar generated (if size is not too big) with very little integration costs.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: domen_ on November 28, 2013, 01:10:58 AM
If anyone interested, this seems to be the way storage will be dealt with: converting excess power to methane, store it, and then use it later when Sun isn't shining/wind isn't blowing. It's a carbon neutral process.

Methane (or methanol) can also be used for transportation.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Power_to_gas (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Power_to_gas)

There are several pilot projects up and running, Audi also has one commercial one.

http://www.powertogas.info/ (http://www.powertogas.info/)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: ccgwebmaster on November 28, 2013, 04:17:01 AM
If anyone interested, this seems to be the way storage will be dealt with: converting excess power to methane, store it, and then use it later when Sun isn't shining/wind isn't blowing. It's a carbon neutral process.

Methane (or methanol) can also be used for transportation.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Power_to_gas (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Power_to_gas)

There are several pilot projects up and running, Audi also has one commercial one.

http://www.powertogas.info/ (http://www.powertogas.info/)

That's interesting - I didn't even realise it was possible to produce methane like that - however I'm not sure it would be easy to make it carbon neutral - wouldn't it be very difficult to scavenge enough carbon dioxide from the atmosphere?

Sure enough Wikipedia describes the process behind it as a low CO2 option rather than carbon neutral - and even as a low CO2 option I think it's still predicated on fossil fuel power plant exhausts...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sabatier_reaction#Energy_storage (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sabatier_reaction#Energy_storage)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: ggelsrinc on November 28, 2013, 11:42:33 AM
If anyone interested, this seems to be the way storage will be dealt with: converting excess power to methane, store it, and then use it later when Sun isn't shining/wind isn't blowing. It's a carbon neutral process.

Methane (or methanol) can also be used for transportation.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Power_to_gas (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Power_to_gas)

There are several pilot projects up and running, Audi also has one commercial one.

http://www.powertogas.info/ (http://www.powertogas.info/)

Quote
The methanol economy is a suggested future economy in which methanol replaces fossil fuels as a means of energy storage, ground transportation fuel, and raw material for synthetic hydrocarbons and their products. It offers an alternative to the proposed hydrogen economy or ethanol economy.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methanol_economy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methanol_economy)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: wili on November 28, 2013, 04:31:35 PM
dom and ccg, that's all fine and good, as long as the methane doesn't end up escaping directly into the atmosphere. Good to see yet another technique being developed though to handle the intermittency issue (though this was never as damning a problem as the ff/nuke folks claimed).
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: ccgwebmaster on November 28, 2013, 09:22:11 PM
dom and ccg, that's all fine and good, as long as the methane doesn't end up escaping directly into the atmosphere. Good to see yet another technique being developed though to handle the intermittency issue (though this was never as damning a problem as the ff/nuke folks claimed).

Oh, I wasn't really saying I thought it was a good answer for energy storage for wind turbines per se (I favour flywheels personally as most sensible, with compressed air a distant second) - as it has a key issue in the sourcing of the carbon dioxide, but nonetheless it's interesting. Possible applications for transport fuel? Also if an organised scheme was undertaken to sequester carbon dioxide from biochar - one could combust some of the biomass to provide the energy to create the biochar and use the carbon dioxide from that for gas creation for vehicle fuels (I appreciate liquid methane won't have the same energy density as gasoline but it's still probably easier to handle than hydrogen).

Although methane is a potent greenhouse gas it isn't as threatening as carbon dioxide at low levels of release due to the short residence time. My primary concern with it in relation to submarine clathrates is the potential for a rather large and nasty positive feedback. In terms of atmospheric methane from human activities that's actually an area that - theoretically - could be addressed pretty fast to reduce forcings (much faster than carbon dioxide).
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: ggelsrinc on November 28, 2013, 09:35:20 PM
dom and ccg, that's all fine and good, as long as the methane doesn't end up escaping directly into the atmosphere. Good to see yet another technique being developed though to handle the intermittency issue (though this was never as damning a problem as the ff/nuke folks claimed).

Oh, I wasn't really saying I thought it was a good answer for energy storage for wind turbines per se (I favour flywheels personally as most sensible, with compressed air a distant second) - as it has a key issue in the sourcing of the carbon dioxide, but nonetheless it's interesting. Possible applications for transport fuel? Also if an organised scheme was undertaken to sequester carbon dioxide from biochar - one could combust some of the biomass to provide the energy to create the biochar and use the carbon dioxide from that for gas creation for vehicle fuels (I appreciate liquid methane won't have the same energy density as gasoline but it's still probably easier to handle than hydrogen).

Although methane is a potent greenhouse gas it isn't as threatening as carbon dioxide at low levels of release due to the short residence time. My primary concern with it in relation to submarine clathrates is the potential for a rather large and nasty positive feedback. In terms of atmospheric methane from human activities that's actually an area that - theoretically - could be addressed pretty fast to reduce forcings (much faster than carbon dioxide).

The most sensible answer I've seen so far for grid storage are sodium sulfur batteries, because the materials are cheap. Getting enough lithium by mining or using nuclear reactors is another option. Most large hydro facilities are regulated to store energy. Smaller hydro can add some additional energy, so look into it! A three foot or one meter drop with minimal equipment is all that is needed to make energy.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: JimD on December 03, 2013, 04:47:55 PM
An interesting article on Europe's energy situation and the potential for problems going forward.

Note: the source is an oil industry publication of which one has to retain a certain amount of suspicion of intent.

Europe and Its Slippery Energy Slope

Quote
....The narrative is that energy is what is dragging Europe down – not low birthrates and pervasive social-safety networks, but increasing dependence on expensive energy imports and hopelessly tangled markets.....

...many had comments about the energy dependence across Europe; its labyrinthine regulations in nearly all 28 countries, its inability to form capital for large projects like nuclear, and governments intruding into the market....

...The result is a patchwork of contradictions, counterproductive regulations, political fiats and multiple objectives that leave Europeans paying more for energy than they need to and failing to develop indigenous sources, such as their own shale gas deposits in Ukraine and Poland. It also leaves countries dependent on capricious and expensive gas from Russia....

....Germany and other countries are dealing with what is called “loop flow” – when the renewables aren't performing, either because the wind has dropped or the sun has set, fossil fuels plants have to be activated. This means that renewable systems are often shadowed by old-fashioned gas and coal generation that has to be built, but which isn't counted toward the cost of the renewable generation.

With increasing use of wind, which is the most advanced renewable, the problem of loop flow is increased, pushing up the price of electricity.
...

So?  Oil industry push back and an attempt to set the stage for influencing policy shifts, or what?

http://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/Europe-and-Its-Slippery-Energy-Slope.html (http://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/Europe-and-Its-Slippery-Energy-Slope.html)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: wili on December 04, 2013, 06:45:49 PM
http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/12/03/3016441/solar-competitiveness-natural-gas/ (http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/12/03/3016441/solar-competitiveness-natural-gas/)

Solar Will Achieve Near-Global Competitiveness With Natural Gas By 2025

Quote
Solar power may be well on its way to near-global cost competitiveness with natural gas by 2025, according to new numbers from Lux Research. And rather than acting purely as market competitors, the two energy sources could form a symbiosis with the construction of hybrid plants that make use of both.

Lux Research used a “bottom-up system cost model” to analyze the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) for solar, natural gas, and hybrid systems using both sources. In plain terms, the LCOE is the cost per kilowatt-hour of a given energy source, accounting for all the costs involved across its life cycle. Lux’s analysis covered 10 global regions through 2030, and ran through three different scenarios: a “Low Gas Price Scenario,” a “High Gas Price Scenario,” and a “Likely Gas Price Scenario.”

The result was that under both the Likely and High scenarios, the LCOE of solar — unsubsidized by any government program — met or dropped below natural gas’ LCOE in virtually every region of the world by 2025.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: ghoti on December 06, 2013, 03:12:25 AM
It seems that the cost effectiveness of reducing peak demand price is often overlooked when considering solar competitiveness. I just ran into an example of solar with storage is commercially cost effective in California. See SolarCity's latest offering. http://t.co/rvXBzQXbsc (http://t.co/rvXBzQXbsc)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: wili on December 06, 2013, 09:42:12 PM
Good point, fish. That's what I find myself often trying to remind people of. Someone should be selling air conditioning units that run on DC (DC-AC?) and are fed directly by attached solar panels. If the house is well insulated and shaded (by solar panels!) enough, the house itself can act as a storage unit of 'cold' for a while. And then in extremely hot areas you could have backup ac's for those relatively rare times when it gets very hot while very cloudy.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: ghoti on December 07, 2013, 05:32:50 PM
Coolerado demos (or at least they used to) their air conditioning system at outdoor events by running it on the power from a couple of solar panels.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: JackTaylor on December 09, 2013, 10:33:33 PM
Thalassothermics -- throwing an additional term for renewable's ???

A hospital in Saint-Pierre, Réunion, will soon be air conditioned using… sea water.
http://pulse.edf.com/en/sea-water-air-conditioning-making-waves/ (http://pulse.edf.com/en/sea-water-air-conditioning-making-waves/)

Let's help the oceans warm while we cool !!!
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: wili on December 09, 2013, 11:35:25 PM
LOL, for some reason I first read that as 'thanato-thermics' which would have meant something like "heating (or cooling?) with dead people"!
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: TerryM on December 10, 2013, 01:55:42 PM
Jack


Toronto does something similar for cooling - and heating!


Terry
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: JackTaylor on December 10, 2013, 02:31:27 PM
LOL, for some reason I first read that as 'thanato-thermics' which would have meant something like "heating (or cooling?) with dead people"!
LOL - dead people - when our "gut feelings" pan out we may be doing plenty of heating with dead people.

Do crematoriums emit excessive GHG's ?

thanato-
a combining form meaning “death,” used in the formation of compound words: thanatophobia.
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/thanato?s=t (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/thanato?s=t)

thalasso-
a combining form meaning “sea,” used in the formation of compound words: thalassocracy.
Origin:
combining form representing Greek thálassa  sea
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/Thalasso?s=t (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/Thalasso?s=t)

Should have added links in first post, as I am not a Greek Scholar.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: wili on December 13, 2013, 08:49:26 PM
Thanks for the etymological links.

We will need those 'tipping points' to tip pretty soon and pretty steeply if we are to avoid extreme cutbacks in energy supply while still having any hope of avoiding catastrophic CC:

http://www.skepticalscience.com/South-Scores-11th-Hour-Win-on-Climate-Loss-and-Damage_IPS.html (http://www.skepticalscience.com/South-Scores-11th-Hour-Win-on-Climate-Loss-and-Damage_IPS.html)

Quote
To have a good chance at staying under two degrees C, industrialised countries need to crash their CO2 emissions 10 percent per year starting in 2014, said Kevin Anderson of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of Manchester.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: wili on December 16, 2013, 04:55:41 AM
Interesting debate on oil/gas vs renewables:

http://www.treehugger.com/energy-policy/amory-lovins-vs-charles-c-mann-future-oil.html (http://www.treehugger.com/energy-policy/amory-lovins-vs-charles-c-mann-future-oil.html)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: JimD on December 16, 2013, 05:39:32 PM
I urge readers to read all the links in wili's above post.  They present a great view of the various issues and really highlight our problem with getting the burning of oil and gas eliminated. 
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: domen_ on December 16, 2013, 09:17:51 PM
Stoping burning coal and gas for making electricity is certainly well within reach. It's just a matter of time when people will realize that renewables have become cheaper. The same goes for energy efficiency in buildings. In next couple of years renewables will take off like crazy.

Transportation (cars, ships, planes) is a bit more difficult. There are some electric cars available, but they're not yet competitive. Maybe in a couple of years. But I don't see any real solution for ships and planes anytime soon. There's some work to do there.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: wili on December 17, 2013, 10:48:22 AM
By and large, that's true, domen. But as the some of discussion in my above link makes clear, storage is, in fact, an issue that become more pressing as renewables reach up to the high percentage of the energy mix.

But I do think that many are thinking about this in rather the wrong way.

We (at least in industrialized countries) got our expectations for both the quantity and consistency of electricity we use from a background of ff generation (mixed with some hydro and nukes).

The problem those had (especially coal and nukes) that people struggled with early on was base load--what do you do with all the extra energy generated at night and at other times when people didn't really need it. This was 'solved' by (among other things) lighting up the night sky so that the once 'dark' face of the earth now looks like another star from afar.

Now not having base load is seen as a problem. But if we rethink our need to constantly light everything up, it will seem less so.

Similarly we have the habit of expecting electricity 24/7 unless there is a storm or something. But if we can adjust our expectations to those natural events, we should also be willing to adjust our expectations to using much less or no electricity when there is neither sun nor wind.

The expectation that we should not have to be sensitive and accommodating to the ebbs and flows of nature is exactly part of the modern sickness that use of ff had infected us with.

But this represents a rather deep difference in mindset that will take a while (generation at least) to get used to--to see as just a different relationship to energy and the earth, rather than a horrible deprivation and lowering of quality.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: JimD on December 17, 2013, 04:29:57 PM
wili those are good points, but there is another factor which complicates the situation.  While we certainly could do a lot more to conserve on electricity usage and modify our use and expectations (I live a development which has no street lights for instance - each house has a very low wattage bulb mounted above the mail box) it is much more difficult for industry to manage efficient production when there are outages or brownouts.

This industry issue is one reason that there are a significant number of German factories relocating to the US right now.  Especially to Texas.  Reliable power is critical for many industries.

Of course if we were already scaling back the world economy as we should be it would not be much of a problem to deal with either.  We could also leave out the robots and give people jobs to I suppose.  But where would the fun be in that.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: wili on December 17, 2013, 05:22:16 PM
Nicely put, and I don't mean to minimize the difficulty of the transition--just that part of it is a mind change thing.

Your point about industry pretty much makes my larger point. Industrial society grew up with, and largely because of, access to large quantities of cheap fossil fuels.

So of course industries expectations/requirements are to have more of the same. One would think that the argument would be one of 'sunk costs'--that industry could not radically rework it's processes to accommodate intermittent electric availability because its too expensive to rebuild everything. But these companies are not only willing to rebuild everything, but to move production nearly half way around the world.

So sunk costs aren't exactly the issue in these cases, and is likely in part at least a failure of imagination, imho, to rethink what it means to do industry as if we were actually on the planet we are on and were not in the process of madly rushing to its, and our own, demise.

Ultimately, though, we do have to face the question of what if anything post ff 'industry' can look like, if anything. If it is to exist at all, I think it is going to have to start looking very different than industry of the last 200 years or so that could work 24/7. Even hydro, which provided primary energy for mills well into the industrial civilization, will become less reliable as we move toward a world where the hydrological cycles have been knocked completely off kilter.

"We could also leave out the robots and give people jobs to I suppose."

You radical luddite, you! ;D
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: JimD on December 17, 2013, 06:18:41 PM
I am sort of a Luddite.  Pretty funny since I was trained as an engineer.  I hate robots.

One thing about hydro as a renewable.  If we don't do something about the silt build up behind the dams throughout the country they will be useless for producing power in another few decades to half a century.  Just in time for collapse.  All that silt which was supposed to be deposited on the potential farm land is being caught behind the dams and they are filling up.  It needs to be flushed out or we will lose the ability to generate power from them.  How do we fix that?

I have read that China's new Three Gorges Dam will silt full in just a few decades as the river it is on is one of the most heavily sedimented there is.  The tangled web we weave.

Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: wili on December 17, 2013, 07:43:40 PM
My bro wrote his masters thesis on 3gorges way back in the early '80s when it was just in planning stages. These and other problems were very well understood by the technocrats. It actually caused a bit of a rupture in that class, with some for the first time recognizing the environmental consequences of development as a real concern. Of course, that didn't stop the damn thing ( :)) from going through, nor many others since. But there is at least some level of environmental awareness starting to spread across the top echelons, and my bro (at least) traces the beginnings of that to resistance against this mega-project.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: domen_ on December 17, 2013, 09:21:29 PM
Quote
This industry issue is one reason that there are a significant number of German factories relocating to the US right now.
This is not correct. It's quite the opposite. German grid has become even more stable in past 5 years and lower prices for industry (not households) are attracting ever more industry in Germany.

http://energytransition.de/2013/08/energiewende-separating-fact-from-fiction/ (http://energytransition.de/2013/08/energiewende-separating-fact-from-fiction/)

Be careful about what media says about renewables. Always check for facts. Fossil fuel companies have launched massive anti-renewables campaign, it's like a twin of climate change denial. There's all sorts of deliberate misinformation out there.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: JimD on December 18, 2013, 04:28:35 PM
domen

You are mistaken on this point about German (and other European) industry not moving to the US.  There is quite a bit of it going on and a lot more planned for the next few years.  The financial press has had many articles about this during the last year.  This is not to say what Germany and other European countries are doing re: alternate energy supplies is not a good idea, but there are consequences.  And others will take advantage of them.  The US intends to grab a bunch of that business and our having lower energy costs, lower labor costs, laxer regulations and a very business friendly operating environment means (temporarily to be sure) that many businesses will take advantage of those circumstances.

Quote
...•Airbus is building an aircraft assembly plant in Mobile, Alabama.  It will produce A320 jets for the American market.  Der Spiegel noted that Airbus “could save on manufacturing costs compared to its plants in Hamburg, Germany, and Toulouse, France.”
•Siemens, a German multi-national engineering and electronics company, is making turbines for fossil fuel power plants in Charlotte, North Carolina.
•BASF, the German chemical company, has opened a $33 million facility expansion in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.
•Michelin, the French tire producer, is developing a $750 million facility in Greenville, South Carolina.
•BMZ GmbH, a German company, opened its U.S. facility in Virginia Beach, Virginia for research, development, assembly and distribution of lithium ion rechargeable batteries.
•SO.F.TER Group, an Italian plastics compounding company, is building a new plant in Lebanon, Tennessee.
•Prufrex Innovative Power Products, a German producer of digital ignition systems and electronic control units, is spending  $7.3 million to build a manufacturing plant in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
• Thomas Magnete GmbH provides engineering services and hydraulic equipment for the automobile, agricultural and construction industries, and it will be opening a manufacturing facility in Brookfield, Wisconsin.
•Wacker Polysilicon, which makes hyper-pure poly-crystalline silicon, is opening a $5 million pilot plant and training center in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
•Kayser Automotive, a German producer of metal and plastic components for cars, will build a $1.5 million manufacturing facility in Fulton, Kentucky.
• British-based Rolls Royce decided against expanding a plant in the U.K. and instead built a plant in Prince George County, Virginia for producing engine parts.
• The Kűbler Group, a German manufacturer of motion sensors, opened a U.S. production facility in Charlotte, North Carolina.
•The Austrian steelmaker Voestalpine AG is building a $715 million plant near Corpus Christi, Texas.
• Royal Dutch Shell, headquartered in the Netherlands, announced it would build a multi-billion dollar petrochemical plant in Pennsylvania.
•Dow Chemical closed facilities in Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain and the U.K., while  opening a plant in Texas.
...

...The German government tried to stem the outflow of investment capital and jobs by making electricity available to aluminum, chemicals, steel and other big energy-intensive German companies at subsidized low rates.  Naturally, many more companies began lobbying for those subsidized low rates, and the government expanded eligibility by changing the official definition of  “energy-intensive” from those using more than 10 gigawatt-hours annually to those using more than 1 gigawatt-hour annually....

...If, as seems likely, the European Commission strikes down Germany’s subsidized electricity rates, German businesses will be hit hard.  German Chancellor Angela Merkel has acknowledged  that subsidies will have to be cut.  Sharply higher electricity costs could accelerate the  de‑industrialization of Germany,...

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jimpowell/2013/09/19/how-europes-economy-is-being-devastated-by-global-warming-orthodoxy/ (http://www.forbes.com/sites/jimpowell/2013/09/19/how-europes-economy-is-being-devastated-by-global-warming-orthodoxy/)

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/56f252aa-4adf-11e3-8c4c-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2nlKbU25N (http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/56f252aa-4adf-11e3-8c4c-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2nlKbU25N)

https://www.bcgperspectives.com/content/articles/lean_manufacturing_sourcing_procurement_behind_american_export_surge/ (https://www.bcgperspectives.com/content/articles/lean_manufacturing_sourcing_procurement_behind_american_export_surge/)

http://www.cnbc.com/id/100993061 (http://www.cnbc.com/id/100993061)

Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: wili on December 18, 2013, 06:23:49 PM
Something that may help on the storage and grid problems?:

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/12/18/3080751/solarcity-tesla-storage-solution/ (http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/12/18/3080751/solarcity-tesla-storage-solution/)

Quote
The system is called DemandLogic, and it involves batteries produced by Tesla Motors — “about the size of a small refrigerator” — combined with a solar array and software that communicates with the wider grid, responding to changes in rates and electricity demand and balancing those with what the solar array and the battery can provide.

The industry refers to the process as “load leveling.” It not only provides customers with a more reliable stream of power, it also helps out utilities by smoothing out demand peaks. That means they don’t have to fire up extra plants as often to fill in supply gaps, which saves them costs as bringing those plants on and offline is inefficient. Plants for covering those demand peaks also tend to be fired by fossil fuels, so cutting down on their usage benefits the environment through fewer carbon emissions.

Solar arrays are also well-suited to this kind of peak demand management, since they’re generating the most power when the sun is shining, which also tends to be when air conditioning use is at its highest.

But...there's always a 'but':

Quote
But while it looks good on paper, the system still needs to prove its feasibility. “It’s not a no-brainer,” said Sam Jaffe, a senior research analyst at Navigant Research. “You still have to have the exact right combination of rates and demand charges and the cost of that equipment.”

ETA: And there's more from TP on innovations in alternative energy this year here:

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/12/18/3060131/13-clean-energy-breakthroughs-2013-2/ (http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/12/18/3060131/13-clean-energy-breakthroughs-2013-2/)

Of special note wrt the intermittency issue currently under discussion now, #3:

Quote
The next generation of wind turbines is a gamechanger. May of 2013 brought the arrival of GE’s Brilliant line of wind turbines, which bring two technologies within the turbines to address storage and intermittency concerns.

An “industrial internet” communicates with grid operators, to predict wind availability and power needs, and to optimally position the turbine
.

Grid-scale batteries built into the turbines store power
when the wind is blowing but the electricity isn’t needed — then feed it into the grid as demand comes along, smoothing out fluctuations in electricity supply.

It’s a more efficient solution to demand peaks than fossil fuel plants, making it attractive even from a purely business aspect. Fifty-nine of the turbines are headed for Michigan, and two more will arrive in Texas.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on December 20, 2013, 10:44:01 PM
domen
You are mistaken on this point about German (and other European) industry not moving to the US.
JimD,
I am quite sure that domen did not deny that German companies are expanding also to US (as they do towards China). But to blame non reliable electricty supply in germany is very strange. Most of the companies just move towards their markets and not due to renewables - that is a myth.

If, as seems likely, the European Commission strikes down Germany’s subsidized electricity rates, German businesses will be hit hard.  German Chancellor Angela Merkel has acknowledged  that subsidies will have to be cut.  Sharply higher electricity costs could accelerate the  de‑industrialization of Germany,...
How could de-industrialization in Germany could accelerate? De-industrialization is just not happening right now. Of course, if EU would force Germany to kill its industry, that could happen. But maybe EU will not force Germany to kill its industry. That would not be beneficial for anybody in the world.
The industry is not strong due to cheap energy but due to well educated poeple - those can not be found somewhere else easily. The main effect of rising energy prices have been innovations...
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: JimD on December 21, 2013, 02:23:19 AM
SATire

Quote
..Most of the companies just move towards their markets and not due to renewables - that is a myth. ...

The issue certainly is complex but energy costs are a big part of doing business for industrial firms.  This issue about energy costs is not my opinion.  I have read it many times in the financial press.  It is given as a prime reason that some German and other European companies are building factories in the US.  Other factors are the low US labor costs, lower taxes, etc.  There is no way this is just phony press.  These are real issues. 

But let us not miss the point that, while the drive in Germany to develop alternative energy is certainly a good idea, there are consequences.  I am not praising the fact that the US is taking advantage of the stress that German energy policy puts on industrial companies.  I am just pointing out that they are.  By the US doing this there will be consequences for us as well.  Some will be perceived here as good; higher employment, economic growth, improved trade figures, marginally improved tax receipts, etc.  There will be downsides as well of course; mostly long-term and somewhat hidden in AGW data but more destabilizing than if the work was performed in Germany.

This situation points out our critical need for consistent policy on an international basis.  If one country tries to do what is right (Germany in this case) but another country, which ignores its responsibilities (the US), takes advantage of the situation to advance its short-term economic interests it makes it very difficult for progress to be made on the overall solution.  It may also blow back onto Germany's energy policy and impact their internal politics. 
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: tombond on December 21, 2013, 04:18:25 AM
In 1999 Germany generated 193 TW of electricity or 35% from non carbon sources, mainly nuclear and hydro.   At that time Germany’s total GHG emissions were about a billion tonnes annually.
That year it made the political decision to replace nuclear power with renewable energy, wind, solar and biomas.   
By 2012 it had installed 66GW of wind and solar plus 8 GW of biomass at a capital cost of about 150B euros.  This capital cost is repaid by an annual feed in tariff guaranteed for 20 years.  By 2012 the annual feed in tariff repayments had risen to 20B euros. 
In 2012 Germany generated 230TW or 38% from non carbon sources. 
•   66GW of wind and solar supplied 73TW or 12%.
•   11GW of hydro and biomas supplied 62TW or 10%
•   12GW of nuclear generated 94TW or 16%.
In 2012 Germany commissioned the first of 10GW of coal burning power plants by the opening of a 2.2GW facility.   http://www.greencarcongress.com/2012/08/rwe-20120816.html (http://www.greencarcongress.com/2012/08/rwe-20120816.html)
In 2012 after the closure of 6 nuclear plants Germany’s GHG emissions rose by 1.6% and are set to rise again in 2013 as more coal plants come on line.
By 2022 Germany plans to;
•   Close the remaining nuclear power capacity.
•   Reduce electricity demand by 20% by efficiency measures to about 500TW.
•   Generate 200TW of electricity or 42% from renewable sources mainly from 60GW of wind (including 13GW of offshore) and 54GW of solar. 
•   Complete 10GW of coal burning capacity.

After 23 years and a capital expenditure of say 250B euros (feed in tariff repayments will be much higher) Germany’s electricity production from non carbon sources is almost unchanged from 1999 at about 200TW and less than the 230TW generated in 2012 with 300TW still generated from fossil carbon sources.

Germany is often cited as an emissions reduction model for other nations to follow.  However this model, even if copied world-wide does not give me any confidence that the requirements of RCP 2.6 by 2100 will be met.

The next ten years will indeed show if renewables have reached a tipping point. 
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Neven on December 21, 2013, 10:56:16 AM

By the US doing this there will be consequences for us as well.

Yes, if you don't stop fracking, you will all be speaking German soon.  ;D ;)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on December 21, 2013, 11:18:29 AM
Germany is often cited as an emissions reduction model for other nations to follow.  H
You know, that most of Germanys reduction in CO2 since 1990 are do to breakdown of east Germanys inefficient industry - that breakdown was our biggest "success".

The big costs you mentioned were paid to scale renewables by mass production. That was not seen possible 10 years ago but now they are quite competetive and will become more competetive every day in future.

There was not a big effort undertaken to reduce CO2 in the electricity market - that goal was changed to exit nuclear faster (double U-turn after change to exit slower). By no means Germany can be considered as example for CO2 efficiency - instead efficiency is worse than in most other countries. But ist can be considered as example how to scale renewables faster than expected - and as an example how to prevent CO2 reductions while boosting renewables - also some kind of a miracle ;-).
Title: New German Government - some hope for "Energiewende"
Post by: SATire on December 21, 2013, 12:31:11 PM
Since we are allready discussing German politics, I would like to let you know some news from our new German government.

Maybe you realized that we had elections in September and before that date a lot of misleading stories about German "Energiewende" and mainly about its costs were spread.

Now the negotiations between CDU and SPD are done and we have a new government since the beginning of this week. The greatest surprises are directly related to "Energiewende" (energy turnaround):

The vice-cancellor Sigmar Gabriel (SPD) will lead the newly combined "super" ministery for economy and energy. His challenge is the Energiewende - if he can not do that, his party SPD will have no chance for future governments. But if he can do that, chances are good for him to become the next cancellor (media are telling allready now).

Secondly, the ministery for environment is also lead by SPD (Barbara Hendricks). In history and especially the last 4 years, it was typical that environment and economy were ruled by rival ministeries from different parties (e.g. economy from liberal and environment from christian) - that rivalry resulted in a lot of stalemate.
Today both are from the same party and one of them (Gabriel) is even the head of the party.

Thirdly, although green party is not part of the government, a state secretary from green party was choosen! That makes it much easier to get the states in the boat, which are often run by green party.
Especially the state secretary of economy&energy is a sensation: Rainer Baake http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rainer_Baake (http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rainer_Baake) is surely the best person to do the job "Energiewende" - he also managed the real one 1999-2002. A comment: http://www.sueddeutsche.de/politik/kuenftiger-staatssekretaer-baake-gabriels-gruener-1.1844462 (http://www.sueddeutsche.de/politik/kuenftiger-staatssekretaer-baake-gabriels-gruener-1.1844462)
And the place where R. Baake developed the latest plans is this think-tank: http://www.agora-energiewende.org/ (http://www.agora-energiewende.org/)

You may find an english explanation of ideas for a future Energiewende here: http://www.agora-energiewende.de/fileadmin/downloads/publikationen/Impulse/12_Thesen/Agora_12_Insights_on_Germanys_Energiewende_web.pdf (http://www.agora-energiewende.de/fileadmin/downloads/publikationen/Impulse/12_Thesen/Agora_12_Insights_on_Germanys_Energiewende_web.pdf) )

To conclude: I see hope for the future. The artificial opposite between industry and renewables could come to an end. Renewables are industry - next to efficiency the only one future-proof. And it fits to the hype around production 4.0, digital production and "economy with sense". I even started a new tech-company myself because those needs are real and the climate is very good for future-proof innovations. I know I am sounding very optimistic - it is just the right time to be optimistic and to do the transitions into the future now.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: JimD on December 21, 2013, 04:17:12 PM
A bit off topic but related to our last few posts.

For our non-US readers this is how the US beats European entities on industrial wage costs.

Quote
...The more recent influx of European- and Japanese-owned nonunion factories to the South has had a similar effect. In their homelands, Mercedes, Volkswagen, and Toyota work closely with unions, and the German companies pay their workers as much as or more than the most highly paid American autoworkers. When such companies move into the American South, however, they go native, not only paying their workers far less than they do in Europe or Japan but also opposing their efforts to form a union. (Under pressure from the German autoworkers union, however, Volkswagen has recently committed itself to establishing a consultative works council at its Tennessee plant. Such councils are standard at Volkswagen plants in Germany and other nations; in the U.S., the particulars of American labor law require that the company recognize the UAW as the workers’ representative.)

One way these factories reduce workers’ wages is not to employ them directly. By the estimate of one former manager, roughly 70 percent of the workers at Nissan’s plant in Smyrna, Tennessee, aren’t Nissan employees but rather are under contract to temporary employment-service companies that pay them roughly half the hourly wage of Nissan’s own employees. One academic survey found that while just 2.3 percent of manufacturing workers in 1989 were temps, by 2004 the number had risen to 8.7 percent.....

The link to the quote above I am going to post in the Empire thread as it more belongs there.
Title: Re: New German Government - some hope for "Energiewende"
Post by: Neven on December 21, 2013, 05:32:50 PM
To conclude: I see hope for the future. The artificial opposite between industry and renewables could come to an end. Renewables are industry - next to efficiency the only one future-proof. And it fits to the hype around production 4.0, digital production and "economy with sense". I even started a new tech-company myself because those needs are real and the climate is very good for future-proof innovations. I know I am sounding very optimistic - it is just the right time to be optimistic and to do the transitions into the future now.

Thanks for this, SATire. I'm also slightly optimistic, but for completely subjective reasons, having installed 5.25 kWp on my home last month, and plans to add a combination of a 10 kWh battery system and 80%water/20%air wood oven to really push the limits on how far you can go building an eco-house with standards that are very much acceptable to most people.

I watched some documentaries and discussions about the Energiewende on Youtube a while back, and was soon convinced that a lot of the propaganda smearing the Energiewende is wrong, although of course nothing is perfect. But I highly respect the Germans for what they're trying to do. If you want to do this (get rid of nuclear and fossil fuels), this is how it's done.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Shared Humanity on December 21, 2013, 09:36:53 PM
Just back from the liquor store where I've purchased some Meyers dark rum, straight bourbon and Baileys. I believe I've reached a tipping point.

Happy Holidays everyone.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: JimD on December 22, 2013, 04:46:21 AM
Good job!  You too!
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: wili on December 24, 2013, 04:15:30 PM
http://www.climatecentral.org/news/giant-battery-can-store-renewable-energy-16852 (http://www.climatecentral.org/news/giant-battery-can-store-renewable-energy-16852)


Giant ‘Battery’ Can Store Renewable Energy


Quote
...Norwegian reservoirs could be constantly recharged with water delivered by electricity generated by surplus wind power, with the water power used as a “green” battery in times of shortage.

“If this large wind project is to succeed, we must secure stable electricity supplies”, says Daniel Huertas-Hernando at SINTEF. “Today, forecasts of wind velocities provide the only information which gives us any indication of power generation levels from wind farms for the next 24 hours.

“If these prognoses turn out to be wrong, or if bad weather makes generation from the turbines impossible, we will need an effective stand-by source which can fill the energy supply gap at short notice.
“This is exactly what Norwegian hydropower can do, because it makes it possible to store energy which can then be released on tap as and when it is needed,” he said.

By refurbishing existing plants and installing pump storage, the research shows, the potential of Norwegian hydropower plants could be increased by between 11 and 18 gigawatts, enough to provide adequate backup.

I guess I had assumed that they had already been doing this for some time.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: JimD on December 24, 2013, 05:07:10 PM
Wili

It is going to get much bigger but it pretty small still along the lines of the Norwegian plant.

There are quite a few pumped storage facilities out there as this idea has been implemented for about 100 years.  Ones that are primarily set up to store wind or solar do not seem very common yet, but many are being planned I believe.  Locations are a big issue.  If your wind and solar generating sources are not located close of an existing hydro plant you need to build a generating facility with an upper and lower reservoir or locate on an existing river and dam it up.  Issues as they say, pop up.  Cost becomes a big factor.  Energy efficiencies are good at hydro facilities where it can be as high as 80%.

Quote
... In the U.S., there are 40 existing pumped storage projects providing over 22,000 MWs of storage, with largest projects in Virginia, Michigan and California (Bath County, Ludington and Helms, respectively).  Additionally, there currently are 51,310 MWs representing over 60 pumped storage projects in the FERC queue for licensing and permitting.    Globally, there are approximately 270 pumped storage plants either operating or under construction, representing a combined generating capacity of over 127,000 megawatts (MW). As a proven technology, it been shown to be cost effective, highly efficient, and operationally flexible....

Here is a list of large power plants (1000MW+) that use pumped storage but it does not say what type of power generation is being pumped.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_pumped-storage_hydroelectric_power_stations (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_pumped-storage_hydroelectric_power_stations)

http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2013/11/pumped-storage-hydropower-projects-attractive-means-of-storing-excess-energy-stanford-study-says (http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2013/11/pumped-storage-hydropower-projects-attractive-means-of-storing-excess-energy-stanford-study-says)

www.hydro.org/wp-content/.../NHA_PumpedStorage_071212b1.pdf (http://www.hydro.org/wp-content/.../NHA_PumpedStorage_071212b1.pdf)‎

http://www.fairfaxclimatewatch.com/blog/2013/07/is-pumped-storage-hydro-power-the-answer-to-storing-wind-and-solar.html (http://www.fairfaxclimatewatch.com/blog/2013/07/is-pumped-storage-hydro-power-the-answer-to-storing-wind-and-solar.html)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on December 26, 2013, 01:42:34 PM
It is going to get much bigger but it pretty small still along the lines of the Norwegian plant.

JimD - you are right with this point - most hydro power plants in Norway are not pump storage plants today and power lines are missing. But there is a good chance for the future as I will explain later.

[...]  Energy efficiencies are good at hydro facilities where it can be as high as 80%.

Quote
... In the U.S., there are 40 existing pumped storage projects providing over 22,000 MWs of storage, with largest projects in Virginia, Michigan and California (Bath County, Ludington and Helms, respectively).  Additionally, there currently are 51,310 MWs representing over 60 pumped storage projects in the FERC queue for licensing and permitting.    Globally, there are approximately 270 pumped storage plants either operating or under construction, representing a combined generating capacity of over 127,000 megawatts (MW). As a proven technology, it been shown to be cost effective, highly efficient, and operationally flexible....
JimD, those numbers look very tiny: 22,000 MWs are only 6 MWh - could you have mixed up seconds and hours maybe?

In Germany (about 1/4 population of USA - so in USA following numbers should roughly be scaleable by about 4 times) the hydro pump storage plants have a capacity of 40 GWh (=40,000 MWh= 144,000,000 MWs) and can deliver a peak power of 7 GW http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pumpspeicherkraftwerk (http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pumpspeicherkraftwerk) . That numbers sound huge - but it is a very small capacity if we rely on renewables and if there are 2 weeks without wind in winter:
Since Germany consumes during a working day about 70 GW all the pump storage plants can deliver 10% of that demand for 6 hours  (40 GWh/7GW)- then the "battery" is empty.

So pump storage is very usefull to substitute several gas turbines to meet typical peak demand in the morning and evening hours (the time, when PV output is low but demand is high because poeple are working) - but domestic pump storage (which is build allready close to its natural limits and poeples acceptance - maybe a factor of 2 could be possible in best case) will never bring us through the cold days of winter. Together with Norway it could be feasible in future - I want to explain that in a following post.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: johnm33 on December 26, 2013, 03:04:00 PM
On a smaller scale, these storage systems, for either domestic, pv, or small scale wind turbines could go a long way to providing for peak demand, or storing overnight wind power to sell into the morning peak.
  http://www.williamsf1.com/AdvancedEngineering/Stationary-Flywheel-Systems/ (http://www.williamsf1.com/AdvancedEngineering/Stationary-Flywheel-Systems/)
  http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/blogs/dept/energy-solutions/power-storage-flywheels (http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/blogs/dept/energy-solutions/power-storage-flywheels)
adding impetus to this trend http://www.testosteronepit.com/home/2013/12/23/clean-energy-presents-perfect-storm-for-utilities.html (http://www.testosteronepit.com/home/2013/12/23/clean-energy-presents-perfect-storm-for-utilities.html)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on December 26, 2013, 03:21:39 PM
http://www.climatecentral.org/news/giant-battery-can-store-renewable-energy-16852 (http://www.climatecentral.org/news/giant-battery-can-store-renewable-energy-16852)


Giant ‘Battery’ Can Store Renewable Energy

[...]
I guess I had assumed that they had already been doing this for some time.

Wili you are right that they are already doing this for some time:

Since 1977 there are power lines between Denmark and Norway - wind power is flowing from Denmark to Norway and hydro power is flowing back with now >1.6 GW  http://new.abb.com/systems/hvdc/references/skagerrak (http://new.abb.com/systems/hvdc/references/skagerrak)

Since 2008 there is a power line between Netherland and Norway with 700 MW - transmitting nuclear power from Netherlands to Norway during the night and hydro power back during daytime http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/NorNed (http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/NorNed)

A power line between Germany and Norway is planned - construction will start next year and it shall be operative in 2018 and another one after 2020 http://www.faz.net/aktuell/wirtschaft/seekabel-stromaustausch-mit-norwegen-11794385.html (http://www.faz.net/aktuell/wirtschaft/seekabel-stromaustausch-mit-norwegen-11794385.html)
One DC -line (to avoid losses due to capacitance of 2 close conductors) will transmit 1.4 GW and cost 1.4 billion euro http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/NorGer (http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/NorGer)

Since Norway produces about 130 TWh/year from hydro (about a quarter of Germanys production of 556 TWh/year) http://www.europa-auf-einen-blick.de/norwegen/energie.php (http://www.europa-auf-einen-blick.de/norwegen/energie.php) it would be possible to cover 20% of German demand from hydro power in future - if
1) we build 50 power lines like NorGer
2) Norways power plants produce electricty only during that time, when wind and PV is low and Norway is using electricty from Germanys wind & PV during the other time
3) Norways hydro power plants must be equiped with 5x the turbines power compared to now (but same capacity - so neither new dams nor pump storage are needed).
4) Reduction of Norways hydro power capacity (due to the power lines like NorNed less hydro power was necessary) should be reversed to pre 2008 levels.

Including similar actions in Sweden, Austria, Swizerland and Italy existing hydro power plants equiped with additional turbines could act as battery for total Europe http://www.umweltrat.de/cae/servlet/contentblob/1001596/publicationFile/66394/2010_05_Stellung_15_erneuerbareStromversorgung.pdf (http://www.umweltrat.de/cae/servlet/contentblob/1001596/publicationFile/66394/2010_05_Stellung_15_erneuerbareStromversorgung.pdf)

So the path to 100% renewables is surely feasible - but massive investions are needed.




Title: Energiewende 2.0 - how to proceed now
Post by: SATire on December 26, 2013, 04:31:49 PM
Another view from the German perspective - how to proceed now?

After a dozen years of Energiewende in Germany it is now the time for politics to get to the next stage.

What are the results of the first step?

The technological development of renewables and their scaling have winners. The main reason for EEG ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_Renewable_Energy_Act (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_Renewable_Energy_Act) ) was to push various renewable energies like photovoltaics, wind on-shore, wind off-shore, CSP, geothermal and biogas / biofuel to get them competitive using scaling effects.

The winners in Germany are: photovoltaics and wind on-shore

Both have been prooven to be scalable and further potential for the future and both can compete on system level with fossils or nuclear. All other sources are more expensive or not scalable enough

Now it is time for Energiewende 2.0 to build the energy business ready for >80% renewables. The new secretary now in charge for doing this did formulate 12 theses to draw the big picture
http://www.agora-energiewende.de/fileadmin/downloads/publikationen/Impulse/12_Thesen/Agora_12_Insights_on_Germanys_Energiewende_web.pdf (http://www.agora-energiewende.de/fileadmin/downloads/publikationen/Impulse/12_Thesen/Agora_12_Insights_on_Germanys_Energiewende_web.pdf)

1) it is all about wind and solar
2) "Baseload" power plants disappear altogether, and natural gas and coal operate only part-time;
3) There's plenty of flexibility – but so far it has no value;
4) Grids are cheaper than storage facilities;
5)  Securing supply in times of peak load does not cost much
6)  Integration of the heat sector makes sense;
7) Today's electricity market is about trading kilowatt hours – it does not guarantee system reliability;
8) Wind and PV cannot be principally refinanced via marginal-cost-based markets;
9)  A new Energiewende market is required;
10) The Energiewende market must actively engage the demand-side;
11)The Energiewende market must be considered in the European context;
12) Efficiency: A saved kilowatt hour is the most cost-effective kilowatt hour.

E.g. including the heat market into the electricity market (6) could be done using efficient heat pumps. During high wind times the supply spikes are used for heat storage.
By this way >80% electricity and  >60% of all energy can be renewables.

By including "hydro storage" abroad (https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/index.php/topic,256.msg18176.html#msg18176 (https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/index.php/topic,256.msg18176.html#msg18176)) and later also the transportation sector (battery / wind gas / wind petrol /wind kerosine) a path to 100% renewables for all sectors could be feasible. On a system level such systems should be competitive with systems based on fossils (in the case you have to import that fossils and do not get it "for free" by robbery from your children...).
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: wili on January 03, 2014, 11:31:59 AM
Point 12 strikes me as the most important. We really need to take a hard look at what we use energy for.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: JimD on January 03, 2014, 05:23:39 PM
But what is the mainstream message being broadcast in the US right now?  We are in an ENERGY boom!  Natural gas, oil, yippie!  It was on the news yesterday that the oil shale play in thje Bakken formation in North Dakotra and Montana went over 1 million bbl/day last month.  WE ARE SAVED!   People are being encouraged to use more not less.

Sorry ranting.

But what is really happening with the Bakken?  Compared to 2009 it now takes 1 1/2 wells to equal the production rate from 1 well in 2009.  Hmmmm.  Existing wells are in a production decline of negative 63,000 bbl/day.  This is expected to be around negative 80,000 bbl/day by the end of this year.  It will take about 130 new wells PER MONTH to offset this decline.  Keeping in mind that the best locations have already been drilled and that decline rates are increasing there is a good chance that the Bakken will hit peak production in 2015. 

In the meantime government subsidies for oil, gas, and corn to ethanol are about 3 times as high as they are for wind and solar.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Shared Humanity on January 03, 2014, 08:03:05 PM
Point 12 strikes me as the most important. We really need to take a hard look at what we use energy for.

Here is a simple visual for  the U.S. These are different for each nation or region of the world. Europe, for example, uses less of their consumption for transportation than the U.S. What is most striking  about this visual is the rejected energy component, well over half of the energy generated. This rejected energy is the waste calculated by use (residential, commercial, industrial, transportation). 25% of the energy consumed via transportation is actually used, the remainder is wasted. Fully 2/3 of the electricity generated is  'rejected energy'. This is not explained but I would imagine it includes things like transmission loss.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on January 03, 2014, 09:23:56 PM
Point 12 strikes me as the most important. We really need to take a hard look at what we use energy for.
Wili, it is quite well known what we use the energy for. The broad picture is shown nicely by Shared Humanity above. In Germany that is similar - a bit less for transportation and more for industry but qualitatively the same situation.

For a individuum in Germany (and quite similar in US) I would rank personal energy consumption like this:
1) Most energy is used for producing the things you buy - machines (like cars), electronics, food, ...
2) Transportation (cars, flights)
3) Heating / cooling your home
4) smallest part: Electricity you use at your home (mainly cooling and heating in the kitchen)

So to save energy you should:
1) use your old stuff as long as possible, buy reused things, buy long lasting high quality things, avoid fashion/life-style stuff you have to buy every 1-2 years again
2) use trains, busses, bikes
3) insulate your home, use efficient heat pumping or calorific value boiler, use moderate temperatures (wear a T-shirt in summer and a pullover in winter indoors)
4) buy a smaller A++ fridge (or how a efficient device is rated at your place), use LED instead of bulb - such things pay off very fast

A lot of those things are regulated in EU to lower consumption. Only transportation is very poorly regulated - just to please our car industry :'(
E.g. bulbs are not allowed anymore, there are laws forcing you to update your heat equipment (yearly house search by the chimney sweeper), regulations for minimum thermal insulation if you touch your houses face), taxes for petrol and electricity (more than 50% of the energy costs for consumers are allready taxes).

What is poorly regulated is No.1 - the things. It makes not much sense if the kWh used to produce something is saved only by moving to other places in the world.

That is the a big problem in our global world: Similar to Apple not paying tax for its incredible profits by moving the profits to a tax haven like Ireland the production moves to countries with low energy costs, unfair conditions of work or bad environment protection - that does not help anyone - it is only good for a few individuals and for a short-term. I think taxes or customs could help to address that problem.
E.g. if one country has a carbon tax and the other doesn't - it would make sense to take customs charges to take the difference at the border. In this way the consumer has a chance to feel the real costs and to make a proper choice.   

But to come back to points 1-12): While point 12) is surely the easiest way to get to the future it will not be a nice future without points 1-11). We will need energy and it must be emission free. And it must be emission free _very_ soon. Therefore, all those points must be done right now. Maybe you skip a few points and add a few more appropriate for your country, since that points are specially for Germany. E.g. in other countries off-shore wind, nuclear or geothermal could be ranked higher for good local reasons. It just has to be renewable in less than a generation.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: wili on January 03, 2014, 11:33:42 PM
SATire, yes, in principle we should be able to vastly reduce the first three items from your first list. But the whole economy is right now based on every higher levels of #1 (and to some extent of the others.)

So how quickly can we rethink the basis of our economy?

I'm not a hunter, but I often point out to students who are disgusted by it for moral reasons that when they shop at a mall, there are not any legal limits set, even though the mall and its parkinglot and access roads...probably wiped out a whole ecosystem/biome that probably once supported many wild animals. That development wiped those animals out much more effectively and permanently than hunters keeping within limits could have. (But I don't let hunters off the hook too easily either. No free passes in my classes! >:( :D)

We need some kind of counter to tally what percentage of an atomic bomb worth of GW energy each purchase creates or some such, but also the force of actual law as well as moral suasion behind it.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Shared Humanity on January 04, 2014, 06:30:37 PM
75% of the energy consumed via transportation is actually used, the remainder is wasted.
Shared Humanity - I think you confused the shades of grey: 25% of energy are used for transportation and 75 are wasted as heat... That is typical for combustion engines - in electric trains the situation is _much_ better and similar to your statement.

Thanks. I reversed the numbers by accident.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: JimD on January 04, 2014, 08:32:37 PM
Well, well, well. Cracks form in the monolithic industrial agriculture system. 

Quote
Ethanol producers are panicking amid speculation that the ethanol mandate could be drastically reduced or scrapped entirely this year as the biofuel loses its allure and bipartisan allies and former friends team up against it.

December saw California Democrat Dianne Feinstein—a renewable fuel champion--coordinate efforts with Oklahoma Republican Tom Coburn to come up with a Senate bill to get rid of ethanol from the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), citing fears that corn-based fuel production mandates will harm livestock producers.

In November, Washington proposed cutting the biofuels mandate for 2014 by 16% to 15.21 billion gallons....

Quote
...Beyond that, poultry companies are going bankrupt due to rising prices of feedstock as crops are diverted to ethanol. The rising costs of farming and egg production are taking their toll on states like Minnesota.

On the other side of this divide we have the biofuels producers for whom uncertainty is rising fast as a resolution on the ethanol mandate looms. States like Iowa are leading the lobbying here because they have been reaping the benefits of all that demand for corn. This has come along with new jobs. Iowa will certainly baulk at the proposed cuts because the bulk of US biofuels are made from corn, with soybeans, grasses, crop waste and Brazilian sugarcane playing lesser roles.
...

This situation is being assisted by the surge in oil production in the US as well as the continuing drop in fuel consumption here.

http://oilprice.com/Alternative-Energy/Biofuels/Producers-Panic-as-Ethanol-Mandate-Loses-Support.html (http://oilprice.com/Alternative-Energy/Biofuels/Producers-Panic-as-Ethanol-Mandate-Loses-Support.html)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: JackTaylor on January 06, 2014, 01:57:38 PM
Quote
JimD:
"Well, well, well. Cracks form in the monolithic industrial agriculture system"

http://oilprice.com/Alternative-Energy/Biofuels/Producers-Panic-as-Ethanol-Mandate-Loses-Support.html (http://oilprice.com/Alternative-Energy/Biofuels/Producers-Panic-as-Ethanol-Mandate-Loses-Support.html)
Never - Never - Land - of - Make - Believe; being pushed off on folks like me.

I believe there were good intentions among (some) pol's when RFS was approved

I also believe there was a profit seeking agenda among (some) pol's when RFS was approved.

I hope it continues to develop as an issue and eventually be repealed or modified as I believe in renewable's but not starvation, damage to engines, ff ghg for nitrogen fertilizer,,, etc...

Numerous times what seems to be a good idea turns out to have more un-predicted (undisclosed?) aspects. 
Personally, I for one remember the lead up time to RFS,
and now I'm unable to recall whether I supported - opposed - or was uninterested - ambivalent.
Better get my butt in gear and pay closer attention to things, LOL.


 
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on January 06, 2014, 08:41:46 PM
Numerous times what seems to be a good idea turns out to have more un-predicted (undisclosed?) aspects. 
Personally, I for one remember the lead up time to RFS,
and now I'm unable to recall whether I supported - opposed - or was uninterested - ambivalent.
Better get my butt in gear and pay closer attention to things, LOL.
Jack Taylor - I think you are right with your feelings. And there is a reason why biofuels are not included in point 1) in post #201: Biofuels will not save the world - they may only help a tiny little bit. 

The reason is following: Biofuels make no sense if you grow them instead of food (very low energy return on energy invested - worse than tar sands, and we will need that soil more urgently for our food). Biofuels make a lot of sense if you make them from waste (e.g. waste from paper industry like in Sweden or from waste resulting from food production). If they are made from waste you can not scale that energy source - e.g. would you read more newspapers to fuel more cars??? So - biofuels from waste make sense, it is some kind of re-use and is important. But it is not part of the "tipping" of renewables like wind or solar. Wind and solar deliver allready 25% of electricity here - we just have to double that another two times, which is easily feasible. The last 75% will cost less than the first 25% because of the scaling, which worked much better than expected. Maybe 1-2 more doublings for heating sector and transportation (windgas) and we are in the future.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: JackTaylor on January 06, 2014, 11:01:21 PM
Quote
SATire:
~ bio-fuels from waste make sense, it is some kind of re-use and is important. But it is not part of the "tipping" of renewable's like wind or solar ~
Yes, bio-fuels from waste make sense, but not from food stocks.
 
Eliminating the "profit motive" for food producers is going to take a lot  of work - time.

Where there is a "profit motive" there will be a BIG fight to change policy.

I hope your country does go well past the 33% renewable's level in a practical and economic way.

Was it a good scare from the Fukushima EVENT that truly promoted progress in renewable's there?
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: wili on January 07, 2014, 07:15:25 AM
"bio-fuels from waste make sense"

Except that there are no 'wastes.'
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on January 07, 2014, 08:38:11 AM
Was it a good scare from the Fukushima EVENT that truly promoted progress in renewable's there?
No, definitly not. Evidence: The action to boost renewables and to exit nuclear was taken in the years 1998-2002, that was prior to Fukushima (2011). Just look at the historical facts.

That absolut growth of renewables is biggest in recent years is due to the tipping. That is a property of a growth curve (so, growth is not allways a bad thing ;-).

Fukushima only forced our conservative party to exit nuclear, too. It forced the "exit from the exit of nuclear" the conservative did in 2010 - that is why we call our cancellor sometimes "double U-turn Merkel". Fukushima made the conservative to accept to exit nuclear first and coal secondly - of course that may be different in other countries. But to boost renewables was never beyond question.

I hope your country does go well past the 33% renewable's level in a practical and economic way.#
Thank you. We hope that, too. And our new government has poeple with good plans for that, as I did explain in post #201.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: crandles on January 10, 2014, 12:51:14 AM
Battery advance could boost renewable energy take-up

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-25674738 (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-25674738)

Quote
The researchers say their new battery already performs as well as vanadium flow batteries, but uses no precious metal catalyst and has an underlying chemistry that is metal-free, instead relying on naturally abundant, more affordable chemicals called quinones.

These water-soluble compounds are organic (carbon-based) and are similar to chemicals that store energy in plants and animals.

"These molecules are cheap and they're in all green vegetables, as well as crude oil," said co-author Michael Aziz from the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on January 10, 2014, 02:30:13 PM
Battery advance could boost renewable energy take-up

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-25674738 (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-25674738)
Thank you CRandles for sharing this. From your link I have learned that the technology and the benefits are similar to power2gas - so similar hugh storage capacity and efficiency could be possible.

The storage capacity of e.g. batteries is often overrated: E.g. if all German cars would be electrical, they could store about 10 kWh x 43 Million cars = 430 GWh. Since Germany takes about 70 GW during the week, all that batteries would help us 430GWh/70GW= 6 h through a cloudy cold winter day - after 6 h all German cars would be empty...

So we need the big storage capacity for gas (thanks to cold war) or that flow batteries to be able to bridge 2-4 windless weeks in winter. However, that will be needed to do the step from 80% renewables to 100% - that is on roadmap for 2050. And we will need that time since power2gas is still prototype here - the largest plant is only 6 MW - we would need >10 GW to build up a 2 week reserve in 3 windy/sunny months...

But power2gas will probably needed much earlier to get the transportation 80% fossil-fuel-free: For long distant travel, transportation and flights we need hugh amount of power2gas - I have no idea where to get all that CO2 from, that would be needed and that of course must not come from fossils again ;-)

edit: Didn't I mention in post #200, that we have a battery in Europe? How could I forget that 130 TWh/year battery Norway! No further need for battery can be hold responsible for making us not aiming at 100% renewables!
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: domen_ on January 10, 2014, 03:38:50 PM
I doubt that Norway can store 130TWh, where did this number come from?

Some interesting news from Spain:
Quote
Surge in wind power and hydropower drives emissions down by more than 23%
http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jan/06/wind-power-spain-electricity-2013 (http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jan/06/wind-power-spain-electricity-2013)

This is probably one of the first examples that renewables have actually reduced coal consumption. It's good news, because it means it can be done.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on January 10, 2014, 04:43:15 PM
I doubt that Norway can store 130TWh, where did this number come from?
You are right, they can not store it now. But in post #200 I explained it could be done (after executing points 1-4, some effort but feasible) without new dams and without pump storage. The number is the Norway consumption per year (near 100% hydro, link given above). It becomes a storage, if water would not flow continuously through the turbines but pulsed. So it would deliver electricity only during low wind times. Thus 5x turbines capacity and 70GW power lines are still to be build to form that battery. That is way cheaper than any other storage option.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on January 10, 2014, 04:49:55 PM
Some interesting news from Spain:
Quote
Surge in wind power and hydropower drives emissions down by more than 23%
http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jan/06/wind-power-spain-electricity-2013 (http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jan/06/wind-power-spain-electricity-2013)

This is probably one of the first examples that renewables have actually reduced coal consumption. It's good news, because it means it can be done.
It is very heartening to read that positive news. Since it must be done it is very comforting to learn examples that it can be done. And it is encouraging to read good news from other countries and to realize, that we (Germany) have been way to lazy in recent years. I hope we will do better soon.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: JimD on January 10, 2014, 07:35:15 PM
I doubt that Norway can store 130TWh, where did this number come from?

Some interesting news from Spain:
Quote
Surge in wind power and hydropower drives emissions down by more than 23%
http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jan/06/wind-power-spain-electricity-2013 (http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jan/06/wind-power-spain-electricity-2013)

This is probably one of the first examples that renewables have actually reduced coal consumption. It's good news, because it means it can be done.

Not so fast please.  Let us not forget that Spain is in the middle of what can only be called a depression and economic activity has fallen off a cliff.  That is a huge impact on energy consumption.  If you have renewable capacity and reduced demand (from the article consumption of electricity fell 2.1%in 2013 - that is a really rare occurrence in an industrial country) the first thing the power company is going to do is curtail the use of plants for which they have to buy fuel. 

So claiming that the renewables cut coal usage is going a little too far unless one attributes some of the decline to economic factors.  Some of that declining economic activity was responsible for part of the rise in percentage of renewable generation and part of the decline in emissions. 
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on January 11, 2014, 01:14:58 PM
Let us not forget that Spain is in the middle of what can only be called a depression and economic activity has fallen off a cliff.  That is a huge impact on energy consumption.  If you have renewable capacity and reduced demand (from the article consumption of electricity fell 2.1%in 2013 - that is a really rare occurrence in an industrial country) the first thing the power company is going to do is curtail the use of plants for which they have to buy fuel. 
JimD - you are right that the good numbers from Spain are the result of a combination of BAU, "Green-BAU" and "de-growth-BAU" (ok - I am not very sure how you actually distinguish the different BAU's...).

Good thing: Absolut number of power from renewables raised
Bad thing: Depression resulted in a breach of confidence mid 2013 (cutting subsidary) - future invest in renewables in Spain is now unlikely
http://www.forbes.com/sites/peterdetwiler/2013/05/08/renewable-energy-in-spain-the-good-and-the-downright-ugly/ (http://www.forbes.com/sites/peterdetwiler/2013/05/08/renewable-energy-in-spain-the-good-and-the-downright-ugly/)

But the 2.3% decrease in consumption is not the only reason for big reduction of CO2 emission. Also is a decrease of consumption not purely related to economic crysis. E.g. in Germany electricity consumption peaked in early 2000s and there is no crisis now. But production did not clearly peak - export soars and that is import of emission. That is quite similar to China - they emit CO2 for the benefit of others. That is making them looking worse and importers looking better than actually true, since the consumption of goods is the thing, that must be reduced. 

Maybe one should not judge a single year. Green-BAU is on its road to renewables and is a long-term project accepted by majority of the poeple.
Current southern european "de-growth-BAU" may be a matter of a few years but nothing poeple really want to have. Maybe similar to the thing that happened in eastern Europe earlier, poeple are glad moving from de-growth-BAU to the new green-BAU. ("new green-BAU" sounds like a contradiction - I am not sure how poeple actually define green-BAU, since that started 1980-2000 and is relatively new...)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: domen_ on January 11, 2014, 09:27:45 PM
Germany exports electricity to Netherlands (alot) and also Switzerland, Austria and Poland (less). So you have to look emissions in these countries if you want to see whether German coal really increased emissions.

Overall, emissions in EU are decreasing, but slowly. Economics plays a big role and EU has additional problems with lack of growth.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on January 12, 2014, 12:30:32 AM
domen,

actually I was talking also about exporting of things and not only electricity. For the production of things lot of energy is used. Therefore it made sense to mention also China in this context. By importing products you export emissions - that can not be related to sucess with renewables.

German increase of emissions is mainly due to increased use of brown coal (lignite) and I explained that some pages up. And that may be a reason of very low price for CO2 emission. And of course due to the fact that nuclear is replaced by renewables first.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: JimD on January 12, 2014, 06:36:12 PM
SATire

Your point about exporting emissions is very valid to the US as even not counting our exported emissions due to having our products manufactured in China and elsewhere we are still easily the largest emitters.  Add in the exported emissions and.....it is ugly.  Few people here have any understanding of that issue at all.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: JimD on January 13, 2014, 06:08:10 PM
This is the first potential very large capacity battery concept that I have read about that really seems to address all of the serious faults of battery technology.  It will be interesting to see how development goes.

Organic Mega Flow Battery Promises Breakthrough for Renewable Energy

Quote
The paper reports a metal-free flow battery that relies on the electrochemistry of naturally abundant, inexpensive, small organic (carbon-based) molecules called quinones, which are similar to molecules that store energy in plants and animals.

Quote
Flow batteries store energy in chemical fluids contained in external tanks -- as with fuel cells -- instead of within the battery container itself. The two main components -- the electrochemical conversion hardware through which the fluids are flowed (which sets the peak power capacity), and the chemical storage tanks (which set the energy capacity) -- may be independently sized. Thus the amount of energy that can be stored is limited only by the size of the tanks. The design permits larger amounts of energy to be stored at lower cost than with traditional batteries.

Quote
The new flow battery developed by the Harvard team already performs as well as vanadium flow batteries, with chemicals that are significantly less expensive, and with no precious metal electrocatalyst.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140108154238.htm (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140108154238.htm)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on January 13, 2014, 08:20:31 PM
Organic Mega Flow Battery Promises Breakthrough for Renewable Energy
JimD - it looks like CRandles was just 3 days faster than you ;-)
Personally I would call this kind of storage "hydrogene storage" and not battery - but you may call me nitpicking. This way electrolysis + gas storage + fuell cell would also act as huge battery.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: JimD on January 14, 2014, 06:39:50 PM
Ah, I missed his post.  Well it deserves extra I guess  :)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: JimD on January 16, 2014, 08:48:50 PM
I'll bet this is a surprise to a whole bunch of people.

Global Clean Energy Investment Fell for the Second Year Running

Quote
Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) has released a report stating that despite increasing interest in and awareness of clean energy technologies, for the second year in a row global investment in renewable energy has fallen. Last year it was down to $253 billion, and in Europe it fell by a staggering 41% compared to the year before.

This news has come just as investors meet at a United Nations summit aimed to encourage investment in clean energy and build momentum towards the shift to a clean energy economy. It marks the second year of declining investment in the sector, down from the record high of $318 billion in 2011. It has been calculated that in order to make the transition global investment in renewable energy technologies must reach $1 trillion a year by 2030.

http://oilprice.com/Latest-Energy-News/World-News/Global-Clean-Energy-Investment-Fell-for-the-Second-Year-Running.html (http://oilprice.com/Latest-Energy-News/World-News/Global-Clean-Energy-Investment-Fell-for-the-Second-Year-Running.html)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: domen_ on January 17, 2014, 08:34:26 PM
It's not that much of a surprise, because Europe has substantialy cut back subsidies.

Notice that renewable capacity growth is still speeding up, despite lower investment. This is because they have become much cheaper, even cost competitive in many places.

But of course lower investment is not good news. Investment in renewables should be heading up, not down.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: johnm33 on January 18, 2014, 08:37:02 PM
Whilst we live in hope that renewables will reach that tipping point, the reality may be that they cannot. http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/seven-sustainable-technologies.html (http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/seven-sustainable-technologies.html) 
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: slow wing on January 20, 2014, 11:41:49 AM
Johnm, thank you for posting that blog post from "the Druid". However, I find it unconvincing, relying as it does on precise numerical comparisons of energy return on energy invested (EROEI). Furthermore, references aren't provided for most of the stated EROEI values.


For the example of solar PV, the Druid says...

"According to best current estimates, the EROEI needed to sustain an industrial civilization of any kind is somewhere between 10 and 12; according to most other calculations—leaving out the optimistic estimates being circulated by solar promoters as sales pitches—the EROEI of large scale solar photovoltaic systems comes in between 8 and 9 ... [so] the energy return from solar PV isn’t high enough to support the kind of industrial system needed to manufacture and maintain solar PV."


And similarly for wind power...

"...estimates of the EROEI of windpower cluster around 9, which again is too little to support a society that can build and maintain wind turbines."


  The first obvious question concerns the rigour and true uncertainty in the unsourced estimates for "the EROEI needed to sustain an industrial civilization". With what confidence can one model that, or place constraints, for an as-yet unknown future technological state? Can it really be boxed in to within plus-or-minus 10%, as claimed? (Namely, 11 +- 1).


  And that matters, as the EROEI values quoted for today's renewable technologies are close to that: 8 or 9 for PV (though with one study giving much lower), and 9 for wind.


  The pessimistic conclusion of the article hinges largely on the above numerical comparison.


  I am more accepting of the further argument that is made only for wind power - notably not for solar -  that the size of the wind resource might be too small to supply 100% of the world's energy needs.

  It has to be wondered why the equivalent presentation isn't made for solar where, in contrast, the amount of energy available is easily large enough at least in principle. Enough solar energy falls on the world's deserts that collecting over only around one percent of their area could supply the world's entire energy needs, as was pointed out as early as before World War One by solar thermal electricity pioneer and visionary Frank Schuman(n?) - see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Shuman, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Shuman,) and Google for further information on this fascinating person and his achievements.


  The relative size of the solar and wind sources is unsurprising given that the wind is itself largely driven by solar energy. The extra energy conversion to mechanical energy for wind makes it entirely sensible for the harvestable wind resource to be, say, around three orders of magnitude down on its driving solar resource.





So in summary I would argue that the solar energy resource is easily large enough to sustainably supply our future on timescales of decades and centuries, even on its own. The Druid's argument to allegedly exclude this scenario, which is based on a fine balance of EROIE calculations, lacks force.


  Personally I am optimistic on a sustainable energy future, perhaps involving some growing pains but eventually with at least a comparatively high standard of living to today. The largest contributing energy source will presumably be solar energy.







Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Neven on January 20, 2014, 02:43:33 PM
Enough solar energy falls on the world's deserts that collecting over only around one percent of their area could supply the world's entire energy needs, as was pointed out as early as before World War One by solar thermal electricity pioneer and visionary Frank Schuman(n?) - see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Shuman, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Shuman,) and Google for further information on this fascinating person and his achievements.

Thanks for that link, slow wing. I had never heard of Frank Shuman. I always find it amazing to read about people with such foresight. From the Wikipedia article (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Shuman):

Shuman's visionary ideals, most of which were not publicly accepted until sixty years later, were evident when he made the statement, "One thing I feel sure of... is that the human race must finally utilize direct sun power or revert to barbarism."

We have proved the commercial profit of sun power in the tropics and have more particularly proved that after our stores of oil and coal are exhausted the human race can receive unlimited power from the rays of the sun.
    —Frank Shuman, New York Times, July 2, 1916


1916! Almost 100 years ago someone was already getting it...

Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on January 20, 2014, 03:06:21 PM
I agree with slow wing, the values in that article (linked by johnm) are probably not right. That is a common problem due to scaling of PV - e.g. 2 years old numbers are often way of newer numbers. In the time needed to review a paper most numbers are old...

E.g. here you may find EROI in Germany for PV~4 (poly Si) (Southern Europe ~7) and Wind ~ 16 - and they included a lot of things which were not included in previous years...
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544213000492 (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544213000492)
http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erntefaktor (http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erntefaktor)

If you look at a quite densely populated country with not very much sun like Germany you can easily conclude, that PV and wind are sufficiently available there. So I would estimate that would also hold for about 95% of places in the world. Maybe very dense populated places like Singapura or Monaco need some import in future. But wind and sun are surely sufficient for current world energy consumption and also for some further growth.

And a few words related to "growth" of renewables. In Germany they want to stabilize the transition. That means: stop of growth of renewables is now desired. That makes sense - in the time between 25% and 75% you should have linear growth of renewables (= constant installation of power, thus decreasing investments since plants become cheaper).

Keep in mind it just makes no sense to grow exponentially until you hit 100% and than you destroy your production capabilities suddenly. Instead you should have exponential growth until about 25%, linear growth until 75% and than reduction of installation until you reach a production of plants needed for steady replacement. That would be stable and future proove. Government will discuss that plan (given above) on Wednesday with our industry - they are all needed in the boat of course.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: werther on January 20, 2014, 03:37:37 PM
Hi Slow wing,
To me, having followed the link to the Druid’s article Johnm33 gave, the content isn’t that unconvincing. Apart from all the ‘cultural identity’ strangeness of which this ‘Archdruid’ Greer seems to be an exponent, I guess there is good reason to suppose renewable energy sources will not suffice to support a high tech civilization.

Personally I would be happy to imagine the basic technologies mentioned in that article to be sufficient to support some kind of livelyhood for people in the future.
As you may know, I’m on the other hand quite pessimistic that the collapsing ecology can support life in much more than quite basic life-forms when the accumulated pollution and global warming settle in a new equilibrium.

SATire,
I admire the way you sustain your opinion with numbers and valuable examples. I have not much at hand to support my stance. But keep in mind it is hard to imagine that "Rome could fall".

Neven,
I didn't read that about Shuman, but I'd say a lot of chances would have looked much better if the EROEI from fossil deposits would have been used to invest in renewables much earlier. We have partied the stuff and now miss the basic capital in a wrecked economical system to make suitable adjustments.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on January 20, 2014, 04:21:03 PM
But keep in mind it is hard to imagine that "Rome could fall".
From my perspective Rome did not fall but was kicked over. That was a long-term/high-risk project and a lot of effort/killing was necessary. This transition to renewables is a comparably simple thing, it is a low risk task and nobody needs to be killed for that.

The work against population increase could be more risky. In some countries that did stabilize allready - maybe some increase due to immigration, but that should not count. In other regions no progress is feasible due to fundamental religions - such things could smell like a burning Rome. Luckily this thread is only about planning/reviewing a simple engineering project.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: werther on January 20, 2014, 04:36:24 PM
OK, thanks SATire...
Maybe some illustration on that 'Rome' meme... While campaigning for our local Green Party saturday, I stood on the tenth floor of an appartment building and could overlook 15 miles, featuring a rehabitated harbour basin filled with large scale Offshore equipment, the refineries at Pernis stretching all the way in the direction of the North Sea some 25 miles to the West and the shiny new scyscrapers of Rotterdam imitating Manhattan to the East.
Confronted with that scale and the dash that it represents, it is almost unimaginable that could collapse....
Such an image sticks to the mind, personal and collective, like it probably did to inhabitants of the ancient world up to the moment they heard of the sacking of Rome.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on January 20, 2014, 04:57:14 PM
I understand you, Werther. And you know how to proceed - in my region we call it "the dutch way of decision making": When green party was elected 1998-2002 the first thing was to ask nuclear industry for suggestions how to exit nuclear - and to plan and execute the exit together with them. You can not exit a show without the poeple running the show. So - I am sure you will find a consensus at your place ;-)
 
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: JimD on January 20, 2014, 05:10:04 PM
There is always a lot of loose talk about EROEI numbers for various technologies.  This happens for many reasons.  Marketing, protecting your industry from another, failing to take into account the dozens of relevant factors in each individual calculation, ideology, and so on.  As and engineer and someone who has followed this issue and the arguments and calculations for a decade on the internet I must say that you cannot believe hardly anyone's numbers.  Even from links where the work is done by fairly qualified people unless you closely examine their assumptions and agree with them (and you can be certain that others will not agree with them).  Most people do not perform realistic calculations and they frequently high or low ball the numbers because they are not being objective (scientific?) in their analysis. 

All that being said, John Michael Geer, independent of his religious agenda, has been a participant in discussions regarding EROEI for the entire time I have followed it on the internet.  He is not a neophyte nor is he uneducated in the issue.  He writes an editorial/opinion piece each week and it is not reasonable to expect him to put links in such commentary.

Here is a link to a Scientific American article on EROEI and the aggregated values of EROEI for different energy sources.  It gives one a better understanding of the issues in calculating values and their worth in a specific or general discussion.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/eroi-behind-numbers-energy-return-investment/ (http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/eroi-behind-numbers-energy-return-investment/)

http://www.carbonbrief.org/blog/2013/03/energy-return-on-investment-which-fuels-win/ (http://www.carbonbrief.org/blog/2013/03/energy-return-on-investment-which-fuels-win/)

Every oil well has a different EROEI.  Just as each wind installation and solar and so on.  Different designs result in different EROEI.  Location makes a big difference.  Does the calculation take into account the entire life cycle of the energy source and the technology being discussed?  Does it take into account the fossil fuels used to make the equipment which generates solar or wind power (no body performs large scale manufacturing without fossil fuels)?  Does the EROEI calculation of an electric car take into account that coal is being burned to generate the electricity it is charged with?  Does it take into account the decommissioning of a nuclear plant (and cleanup after accidents)? And so on.  Rigourousness is very difficult and controversial.  Real world numbers are always less than theoretical.

It is quite possible that everyone's numbers are accurate in  some respect.  And just as likely that none of them are accurate in some respect.

Some things, however, are certain.  We will never again have an energy source which rivals the early sources of crude oil in terms of EROEI.  Or of coal.  Civilization as structured today was built on EROEI numbers which are very likely never going to be seen again with any other energy source.  That is just physics.  This begs the question.  Can we maintain the current form of civilization with other technologies which have dramatically lower EROEI.  Many very thoughtful people have looked into this over and over again for many years and the answer seems to clearly be no we cannot.  This is what the article by Geer was getting to.   

Another critical factor in making this transition to alternatives is that roll over time involved in building replacement energy infrastructure. The proponents of solar, wind, electric cars, etc almost always do not take this issue into account.  The reason for that is it quickly bogs them down in the reality of resource requirements, competing interests, the effects of a degrading financial system, and the sheer vast scale of the work required, increasing deleterious effects of AGW, etc.  Is the solar/wind power installation resulting in a reduction in fossil fuel power generation (not yet anywhere) or is it just going to increased capacity to handle the increasing demand of a growing population and a growing economy.  Which does us almost no good at all.

Ladies and gentlemen.  We do not have the time left to make a transition to an alternative energy infrastructure which could even come close to supporting our current global infrastructure and population.  Let alone one of 9+ billion people.   And such a concept is not likely possible in any case.  And realistic EROEI numbers for the alternate power sources provide very little promise of changing that conclusion in any way.  Green-BAU at its best.

We must deal with reality or it will deal with us.  Our only choices are solutions which fall into the realm of what is possible.  EROEI numbers of 10-12 cannot support anything close to 7-9 billion people nor our vast infrastructure. 

Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: wili on January 21, 2014, 05:02:25 AM
Game changer, or more politics?


http://www.nationaljournal.com/energy/clean-energy-experts-to-offer-obama-a-path-forward-without-congress-20140120 (http://www.nationaljournal.com/energy/clean-energy-experts-to-offer-obama-a-path-forward-without-congress-20140120)

Clean-Energy Experts to Offer Obama a Path Forward Without Congress:

The White House was briefed on new report to be released Tuesday


Quote
President Obama's efforts to sidestep Congress on environmental issues will get a big boost Tuesday from more than one hundred independent experts who will suggest some 200 ways he can build a legacy on climate change and clean energy through executive action.

Nearly a year in the making, a report from green-energy leaders will make recommendations for executive-branch actions in six areas: energy efficiency, renewable markets, renewable-energy financing, alternative-fueled vehicles, new business models, and natural-gas rule-makings.

"This is an exercise to have a group of people who are outside the Beltway think about how to help the president move a clean-energy agenda forward with a Congress that doesn't act," said Bill Ritter, a former Colorado governor who spearheaded the report as part of his work directing the Center for the New Energy Economy at Colorado State University.

"It isn't that the president can do all of this over the remainder of his second term; the thought is to give the president a menu of options," said Ritter, who would not disclose details of the report.

I don't see anything about stopping or limiting the mining of coal or the drilling for oil and NG (except maybe the tighter rules on the latter mentioned last in the list).
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Buddy on January 23, 2014, 02:57:29 PM
Natural gas prices continue to rise.  The current and future price increase of nat gas will give alternative energy a BIG boost in coming months AND years.

Although much of the "pricing" of nat gas is REGIONAL right now....there is more and more LNG (liquified natural gas) shipping that is taking place.  As well....the "early wells" (fracking wells is what I am talking about here) are starting to run out.

I fully expect nat gas prices to head back up to the $8 level or beyond in the next year or two.  We are at $4.69 yesterday in the US....from a low of $1.90 in March of 2012 (and $3.25 in August of 2013).

There are still a LOT of issues with natural gas THAT WILL NOT GO AWAY.  "Small things".....like poisoning of aquifers, nearby streams, nearby neighbors wells.....etc.  That is really the 64,000 pound elephant in the room of "natural gas."  Kind of like the issue of sucking in 900 degree smoke with tobacco:  How could that POSSIBLY BE BAD FOR YOU?

I think the tipping point has ALREADY BEEN REACHED for alternative energy.  Now....it is just a matter of additional increases.  And I expect it to happen MUCH FASTER than most people expect it to happen.

A higher cost of nat gas will do a LOT of good for alternative energy.

 
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: JimD on January 23, 2014, 04:31:30 PM
No argument here about the rising price of natural gas being good for the alternative energy industry.   It they persist and are not a weather related spike.

But, any rise in natural gas prices which are not just short term spikes will also make the price of coal much more attractive to the power companies.  The prime factor in the improvement in the US carbon emissions numbers has been the low natural gas prices.  This could reverse in a heartbeat if those prices rise much further.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Buddy on January 23, 2014, 06:21:23 PM
<<It they persist and are not a weather related spike. >>

Part of it is certainly weather related (at least SHORT TERM).  But again, keep in mind that nat gas prices have been going up since early 2012 when they were under $2.00.....so a large portion of it is not weather related.



Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: JimD on January 23, 2014, 08:23:11 PM
To better clarify my point.  The natural gas rise from 2012 to date (not counting the current spike) was not sufficient to boost coal consumption nor was it enough to really impact renewables. 

But we are getting close and the price is not likely to drop back all the way to before the spike I would hazard a guess. 

Since renewables have only, so far, been used to increase capacity they are not going to effect the coal/natural gas dynamic much.  The power companies will ramp up coal consumption as soon as the economics cross that nearby line again but going the other way this time.  And US emissions would then rise.  It is a dual edged sword.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Buddy on January 24, 2014, 12:36:37 PM
Longer term.....some good things are happening "under the covers".

1.  China understands....and their people are beginning to demand....that they take care of their pollution issue.  While coal is not going to "disappear" for some time....China is moving faster than anyone else in the alternative arena.

2.  For several reasons.....I think nat gas is heading higher over coming years:  (a) easy frac wells are behind them, (b) increased scrutiny by residents, (c) increased worry about what is actually happening to the water supply (it's being poisoned in case nobody here knew that) (d) increased shipment of LNG to countries with high priced local nat gas (which is NOT us).

3.  Climate change isn't going away....and the drumbeat will only get louder against fossil fuels.  Far too slowly for my liking....but it will continue to happen.

This is a 20 year movement to renewable energy.....and that is part of a growing realization that we need to build a "sustainable economy" around the world.  There is a long way to go....but I believe NEAR TERM climate events over the coming 1 - 3 years will continue to move us in the right direction.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Buddy on January 28, 2014, 05:37:44 AM
Tick...tick.....tick.....tick.  Slowly but surely, alternative is moving forward.

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/01/27/3206691/google-swedish-wind-energy-investment/ (http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/01/27/3206691/google-swedish-wind-energy-investment/)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Buddy on January 30, 2014, 11:05:54 AM
Natural gas hit $5.47 yesterday.  It was $3.40 three months ago on November 1st, 2013.

Obviously the recent cold snap has a BIG SHORT TERM effect on nat gas....but there is more at play than just the short term spike due to a cold January.

Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Buddy on January 30, 2014, 01:28:09 PM
Two announcements from Shell today:

1)  They will NOT try to drill in the Arctic in 2014.

2)  Announced lousy earnings today (conference call later on in the day).

http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/jan/30/shell-shelves-alaskan-arctic-drilling-oil (http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/jan/30/shell-shelves-alaskan-arctic-drilling-oil)

Going forward......oil companies margins are going to shrink as cost to develop oil increases which is great news for alternative energy companies.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Buddy on January 31, 2014, 11:02:14 AM
England not so giddy about fracking......

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/01/30/3222091/fracking-defensive/ (http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/01/30/3222091/fracking-defensive/)

We are in...if not PAST....the tipping point.

1)  China has horrible pollution problems with coal....and they know it
2)  The onion on fracking continues to be peeled back in this country and elsewhere
3)  Costs of renewables continue to come down while NAT GAS and Oil are, and will be, on the rise over time.
4)  With each passing month....and each passing "event" (fires, record high temperatures, ice melt, etc)....we continue to march into the bowels of warming...

I believe we are past the tipping point.....and the next stage in this "process" will be the "oh shit moment" for the public.  Most climate scientists reached the "oh shit" moment years or decades ago.  Now....it will be the public's turn.  And it won't happen all at once....but more and more people.....with each passing event......and each passing set of "bad numbers" (temp, ice melt, etc) realize we are truly f***ed if we don't get off our ass and get down to some "serious" work on climate change.

I'm not talking about Al Gore apocalypse....but I am talking about the continued "grind" of news that keeps pointing at global warming and our friends in the fossil fuel business.  The type of news like "wildfires on the Oregon coast IN JANUARY" which has never happened before.  The problem with fires on the Oregon coast has never been to put them out.....it was trying to get a fire started!!!

The truth NEVER goes away.....it just waits for people to discover it.


Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: JimD on January 31, 2014, 04:52:10 PM
Buddy

If you are saying the tipping point means that the growth of renewables is pretty well set in and thus there will be the typical slow change over in technology which normally takes several decades is now going to happen.  Then I agree with you, but I would not think such qualifies as reaching the tipping point.  To me that is just the normal historical pattern of switching out technologies.  And it won't make any difference to lessening the dire effects of AGW at all.

To me the tipping point should be defined in one of a couple of different ways.  On would be when the growth  of renewables is used to "retire" fossil fuel capacity vice just adding to total capacity.  This, if/when it occurs is only barely sufficient to count as it will not make any meaningful difference in carbon emissions in time to matter.  The other would be when panic over AGW results in a deliberate massive surge across the globe in power generation from renewables and the shuttering of massive fossil capacity.  We are obviously many years from this point, maybe even 20-30 years.

So to me we are no where near the tipping point.  But, YMMV
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Buddy on January 31, 2014, 06:02:56 PM
Jim:

You're right....tipping point can, and likely does, mean different things to different people.  When I say "tipping point", I mean "the time that someone can LOOK BACK ON IN THE FUTURE, and say "that was the tipping point back there".   I think.....when people look back to the LAST 16 MONTHS (September 2012 - January 2014) we will be saying........THAT was the tipping point.....that period of time.

For me....this last 16 months WAS the tipping point:  (1) Arctic ice sheet set all time low in late September of 2012 (2) Greenland ice sheet had record melting in 2012, (3) Record drought in middle US and south/middle US (Texas, Oklahoma, etc), (4) record drought in California in calendar 2013, (5) record wildfires in southwest US (6) Continued DROP in solar and wind costs relative to fossil fuels, (6)"grid parity" reached in some areas of he world, (7) most current IPCC report that is "more agressive" in its assessment, etc.

To me...tipping points are like "bottoms" or "tops" in the stock market:  You can only REALLY tell where they ACTUALLY HAPPENED when a period of time passes....and you're able to LOOK BACK and say:  "It was there"........ "that was the point of no return".

Going forward.......I believe we will continue to see VERY LARGE GROWTH in the solar, wind, and other renewable resources over the next 5 - 15 years.  And as the economy's around the world continue to recover and grow, some of that growth will INITIALLY be enabled by fossil fuels (nat gas and coal).  But as alternative energy sources continue to expand and become more accepted, more affordable, and establish a LARGER BASE.......the speed of installation in absolute terms will quicken.

It's kind of like the growth of Southwest Airlines.  Once SWA established their business model and established a few markets to "prove" their business model.......the rest was just multiplication.  They just kept adding markets.

The business model of solar and wind has been proven and other areas of alternative energy are being developed........and everyone KNOWS where the cost of fossil fuels is going in the LONG TERM (up....as remaining supply of untapped resources goes down).  So if grid parity has been reached in JUST A FEW markets....and we KNOW that LONG TERM COSTS of fossil fuels are GOING UP......the rest is just time and multiplication (although it will be a LONG TIME to replace fossil fuels).

I consider myself a "late bloomer" to the idea of alternative energy.  As some of you know, Thomas Edison in 1931 was quoted as follows:

"We are like tenant farmers chopping down the fence around our house for fuel when we should be using Nature's inexhaustible sources of energy — sun, wind and tide. ... I'd put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don't have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that."

I do believe we will reach an "oh s**t moment" sometime within the next 1 - 3 years where more people...and more policy makers........will be saying..."oh s**t we REALLY need to get going."  It is just like the "bank debacle and housing debacle" of 2007 - 2009:  It will be the "Lehman moment".....when Lehman "flatlined" and then people understood the true magnitude of the issue.  In my mind...the "tipping point" was WAY BEFORE the "oh s**t" moment.









Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: JimD on January 31, 2014, 06:42:58 PM
Buddy

Ah.  I understand your viewpoint now.  I thought you meant something else.

A couple of points.

Quote
Going forward.......I believe we will continue to see VERY LARGE GROWTH in the solar, wind, and other renewable resources over the next 5 - 15 years.  And as the economy's around the world continue to recover and grow, some of that growth will INITIALLY be enabled by fossil fuels (nat gas and coal).  But as alternative energy sources continue to expand and become more accepted, more affordable, and establish a LARGER BASE.......the speed of installation in absolute terms will quicken.

It's kind of like the growth of Southwest Airlines.  Once SWA established their business model and established a few markets to "prove" their business model.......the rest was just multiplication.  They just kept adding markets.

The business model of solar and wind has been proven and other areas of alternative energy are being developed........and everyone KNOWS where the cost of fossil fuels is going in the LONG TERM (up....as remaining supply of untapped resources goes down).  So if grid parity has been reached in JUST A FEW markets....and we KNOW that LONG TERM COSTS of fossil fuels are GOING UP......the rest is just time and multiplication (although it will be a LONG TIME to replace fossil fuels).

What you are describing here is a snapshot of the turnover of an industrial system (SW airlines is in a different kind of category as it does not require vast amounts of capital infrastructure being built and abandoned).  This is the process I mentioned that normally takes several decades and would cost a couple of trillion dollars.  As you rightly indicate in your last sentence above.  Thus this rollover has no prospect of providing meaningful help with AGW because we ran out of time some time back.  Another 30 years of carbon emissions and we have baked in enough change to destroy the ecological basis for a large complex civilization.

Quote
I do believe we will reach an "oh s**t moment" sometime within the next 1 - 3 years where more people...and more policy makers........will be saying..."oh s**t we REALLY need to get going."  It is just like the "bank debacle and housing debacle" of 2007 - 2009:  It will be the "Lehman moment".....when Lehman "flatlined" and then people understood the true magnitude of the issue.  In my mind...the "tipping point" was WAY BEFORE the "oh s**t" moment.

If by 'we' you mean the general world wide public you and I are in deep disagreement.  I would not expect that moment until we have a major global level event which either kills large numbers of people (think at least a million) or a situation which directly threatens a much larger number.  Looking at the possible likely first events to hit that threshold I would not expect that "oh s**t moment" for at least 20-30 years.

Your assumption in the first quote:

Quote
And as the economy's around the world continue to recover and grow,


is huge and sort of flies in the face of what is happening to the world.  Declining EROEI, increasingly bad effects of AGW, a highly leveraged and debt ridden financial system, and a rapidly rising global population, to name just a few items going bad, just do not equal economic recovery and the right kind of growth.  This situation equals an increasingly difficult problem in any kind of infrastructure reindustrialization.  We are looking at less per capita wealth, less per capita energy, less per capita food, etc as time goes on.  If you want to change we must do it now.  It is really already too late as we should have started 30 years ago, but 20-30 years from now is so far too late that it is out of meaningful consideration.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Buddy on January 31, 2014, 07:36:16 PM
<<If by 'we' you mean the general world wide public you and I are in deep disagreement.  I would not expect that moment until we have a major global level event which either kills large numbers of people (think at least a million) or a situation which directly threatens a much larger number. >>

I think the "oh s**t" moment happens way before that.  Again....I think that happens WITHIN 3 years from now.  That doesn't mean we will change "in time".....because the effects of climate change (even our self induced climate change from fossil fuels) are so "delayed", and we have "baked into the future" a lot of climate change already that we can't do anything about.

By the "oh s**t" moment....I don't mean everybody (FOX News will rot in hell before they admit that.........oh wait, they are going to rot in hell anyway:).  We'll see.  Maybe I am too optimistic.

If the western US doesn't get some SERIOUS rainfall SOON....we could have multiple "events" THIS YEAR.  California, Oregon, Nevada are BONE DRY.  I think the Arctic ice sheet is poised to disappear by Sept 2016 EXCEPT for a "stubborn 500 mile wide swath" north of the Canadian archipelago and Greenland....and we could see another record low this year.  Later this year is setting up to be a possible El Nino and that would pump up temps.

Jim....I'm not sure where you reside....but I live in the middle of "denier heaven" (Georgia....figures that Judith Curry is from Georgia).  And even here....some attitudes are starting to change for the better.  In the northeast US and far west US (Oregon, Washington, California).....they already "get it".  Clearly the coal/oil/gas companies will do anything they can to keep the Golden Goose laying her eggs.  But climate scientists are getting more and more "activist" because they don't want to see things continue on the same slow path.

<<turnover of an industrial system>>

Yes....it IS the turnover of the industrial system.  And yes....it will take time.  But I believe we are moving towards the time (within 3 years) where that "oh shit" moment will happen....and that will speed up the process.  In describing Southwest Airlines....I was just describing what I meant as a "tipping point"......I wasn't equating the difficulty of the changeover in a global energy system, with the starting of an airline....I was only describing tipping point.

<<If you want to change we must do it now.  It is really already too late as we should have started 30 years ago, but 20-30 years from now is so far too late that it is out of meaningful consideration.>>

You're "singing to the choir".  There are ALWAYS early adopters, average adopters, late adopters......and "you won't get me to change till I die" adopters.  We are still CLEARLY in the early adopter stage...but we're moving  in the right direction.

The thing is.....I BELIEVE WE REALLY DON'T HAVE MUCH CHOICE OTHER THAN TO CHANGE ENERGY SYSTEMS.  I would have preferred that the planet started on this LONG AGO (Dr. Hanson gave his testimony to Congress in the lat 1980's).

And there are many ways this whole thing can play out.  It is easy to imagine it turning out REALLY BAD.  But there is also a "case" that could play out much better than expected.  The key of course, as you have noted, is STARTING IN TIME.  Some think it is already too late and we won't change ENOUGH in order to prevent "really bad stuff."

I just try to focus on the small things I can do to help move the process like talking with city/county officials and communicating with others about it.  Since I am in Georgia........I have a LOT of minds to change.....and a lot of talking to do:)     

Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: wili on January 31, 2014, 08:02:03 PM
Jim said:

Quote
I would not expect that moment until we have a major global level event which either kills large numbers of people (think at least a million) or a situation which directly threatens a much larger number.

Well, the European heat wave of '03, which killed tens of thousands in the heart of the developed world and which would not have happened without GW (one in a million chance or something like that, iirc) didn't prompt a global "Ah-ha" moment. So, yeah, apparently the disaster has to be a few orders of magnitude larger than that, if disasters can even prompt such a response by themselves (of which proposition I am dubious).

And Sandy threatened millions, so, again, orders of magnitude larger population needs to be threatened, apparently.

But mostly, if all modes of communication to the great unwashed continue to be controlled by right wing moguls, and if even the more supposedly enlightened parts of the press (NYT...) continue to present false balance on gw issues, there is no event that will articulate the situation to them. In fact, on another blog, I have seen people blame the current California drought on environmentalists.

These are the kinds of idiotic explanations that we will see more and more. And just as the rumors of Jews killing Christian babies helped lead to pogroms and ultimately to the holocaust, such lies about environmentalist, permaculturalists, Arctic ice obsessors... and others could quite easily lead to similarly horrific slaughter of those the least responsible for the current and coming shit storm--"feces entering the ventilation system" as that famous phrase translates literally into Norwegian, as I am told.

Hey, just 'cause one is paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you! ;D :-\

Buddy said:
Quote
Since I am in Georgia........I have a LOT of minds to change.....and a lot of talking to do:)
Good luck with that!! I used to live in Macon--a whole different world that people from other parts of the country can't begin to imagine.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: JimD on January 31, 2014, 09:01:51 PM
Buddy

I live in central AZ.  Ground zero for the drought.  We just finished our 15th consecutive year of drought where I live and are in the midst of the longest winter period with no rain since records have been kept in the 1800's.  Trees are dying, rangeland is useless.

Other than an occasional news piece here about water and the drought there is not much worry about AGW.  Hey!  It's nice and sunny!  Even here it is widely understood that AGW is legit, but awareness of the potential consequences is not.  And likely won't be given the control of the news as wili mentioned above.

You are a very optimistic guy in thinking that kind of change could come in 1-3.  But that is just a heart beat away so we will find out in no time if you are right.

Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on January 31, 2014, 10:21:29 PM
Sorry, I have a different view on that tipping. Tipping in my view is, that you can not stopp renewables from increasing more and more market share in electric power generation. It is now a self amplified process - renewables are allready quite competitive, and the more we install the more competitive it gets.

Another hint for passing that tipping point are e.g. 2 points in the current Energiewende 2.0 discussion in Germany:

1) Limit of growth of renewables by law - they seem to grow to fast now. New wind power installations may be limited to 2.5 GW/year, solar installation is planned also lower 2.5GW/year (after a peak at 7.5GW/year!). A steady growth instead of uncontrolled exponential growth is the goal.

2) Installation of renewables for direct consumption is considered unfair - companies cut cost by installing renewables instead of buying electricity. Therefore, a discussion started to tax the electricity generated from renewables for self consumption instead of delivering it to the grid (where it gets taxed, of course).

So - we tipped allready and now are working for a smother ramping. It tips to fast...

 
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: ghoti on February 01, 2014, 04:05:55 PM
It seems to me the tipping point has past in some jurisdictions in the US as well. The result is that PV installation is being limited by utilities, legislation and extra PV taxes/charges.

The cost has come down far enough that SolarCity can offer PPA and leasing deals with overall cost lower than the home owner's original electricity costs. The cost structure is even now where commercial use of lithium batteries combined with PV installations can be used to offset peak usage and result in savings (in California).
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Buddy on February 01, 2014, 04:13:06 PM
ghoti:

ABSOLUTELY AGREE.  Now it is just a "time and math" issue.  As time goes by.....fossil fuel costs will continue to rise, and alternative energy becomes more competitive in more markets.

Fossil fuels....after all...are NOT renewable.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Buddy on February 04, 2014, 03:14:24 PM
Couple of interesting things regarding tipping point on alternative energy.

First:  Florida Power and Light video regarding solar and natural gas used at the SAME PLANT.

Florida Power & Light - Think About It (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M_5iHZOao4g#ws)

Note....this is in agreement with what I see as decreasing coal use globally (coal seen as the worst of the fossil fuel sisters).  This is just one of several reasons that I expect nat gas prices to rise over coming months/years.

Second:  Renewable energy "becoming a player".

http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/markets/2014/01/31/renewable-energy-winning/5082181/ (http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/markets/2014/01/31/renewable-energy-winning/5082181/)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Shared Humanity on February 04, 2014, 04:20:05 PM
Buddy..

It is encouraging to read the stories about moving away from coal but I do not share your optimism regarding the near term (next 30 years) trend in worldwide coal use.

http://www.ericgarland.co/2012/07/16/the-future-will-run-on-coal/ (http://www.ericgarland.co/2012/07/16/the-future-will-run-on-coal/)

Coal use is accelerating rapidly and when you consider that this growth is being driven, in large part, by investments in coal fired electricity generation you realize that these capital investments and the associated coal use has been locked in place for decades.

China's coal consumption has more than doubled in the last decade and accounts for almost half of the world's coal consumption. This has been driven by a 200% increase in electricity generation by coal.

http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=9751 (http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=9751)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Buddy on February 04, 2014, 04:56:17 PM
SH:  I don't disagree with SOME of your assessment.  The US is certainly a "bright spot" of sorts when it comes to coal.  And yes....the REST of the world (especially China and India) are the primary culprits...

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/12/16/remember-the-war-on-coal-coal-is-losing/ (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/12/16/remember-the-war-on-coal-coal-is-losing/)

And I am not naive enough to believe the people who are "guarding the hen house" (fossil fuel industry) are showing ANY signs of "giving up".  It is going to be a LONG HARD GRIND....and most people realize that.

As more and more impacts from climate change become "obvious".....it becomes harder and harder to ignore them unless someone lives in the FOX world of delusion and anti-science (by the way...I don't minimize that....there are quite a few poor soles that are following FOX over the cliff).

Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: JimD on February 04, 2014, 05:26:54 PM
Buddy

Let me be frank a bit here.  Your opinion that coal is in decline is not backup by the data that we see all the time.    You might take some time and read through the coal topic.  Renewables are certainly growing but there is no great surge going on and no diminishment in global coal use.  Economic indicators are aligned currently to actually increase coal use and slow the spread of renewables.

I checked your link out and pulled up the report it was based upon.  The report used data only up through 2011.  It was published about a year ago I think and it clearly states that coal use had only declined in the US.  And we know why that was.  Cheap natural gas.  Which has gone away as you have recently mentioned.  Natural gas is much more expensive now so that wipes out that entire reports conclusions about the likelihood of closing lots of coal capacity in the US.  If natural gas prices stay high coal use in the US will go up again.  Pure economics.

We have never yet used new renewable capacity to retire coal capacity.  Until that is occurring on a regular basis there is no reason for being too enthusiastic about new renewable capacity as all it is doing is putting us even further from sustainability. That is the most meaningful interpretation of a tipping point.  When the renewables are actually used to lower carbon emissions.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: JimD on February 07, 2014, 06:41:36 PM
My views on whether renewables will make a meaningful difference on when we collapse aside, there is an interesting article about Jeremy Grantham's views on fracking, natural gas and fossil fuel production that show that not all billionaires are clueless about AGW.

Quote
Jeremy Grantham, whose GMO LLC investment firm manages $117 billion in assets, says the Great American Shale Boom is a dangerous waste of time and money....

http://www.businessinsider.com/grantham-against-shale-2014-2 (http://www.businessinsider.com/grantham-against-shale-2014-2)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on February 07, 2014, 08:06:45 PM
We have never yet used new renewable capacity to retire coal capacity.  Until that is occurring on a regular basis there is no reason for being too enthusiastic about new renewable capacity as all it is doing is putting us even further from sustainability. That is the most meaningful interpretation of a tipping point.  When the renewables are actually used to lower carbon emissions.

JimD - it might be your and my private opinion, that renewables should be used to reduce CO2 emissions. Unfortunately most poeple disagree about that point - just count the number of countries and their population that signed any contract on CO2 reduction. That is clearly the minority - maybe Europe is still talking about it but not anymore acting seriously. Frustration is perfect after 20 years search for an agreement on reduction of CO2 emission and now Europe skips that goal (at least some European countries skipped allready and we need 100% of countries for a decision like that in EU). Is there any country left outside EU? So - all international CO2 emission reduction goals are gone, the 2°C goal is allready gone and nobody is eager for an other international treaty anymore, since e.g. USA and China wouldn't sign it anyway. Even a collapse wouldn't make them sign it - so forget that, too.

Therefore, renewables and CO2 emission are now two totally independent things. Some countries use renewables to reduce nuclear and some others use it to replace the most expensive imported fossils. Since the prices vary the outcome varies. But you can not call the success of renewables a minor one, just because coal happens to be cheaper than gas somewhere... Renewables tipped but fossils are still burning and will keep on burning as long as someone wants to burn it.

If you want to reduce CO2 you have to make it to cost something, that is the only thing all poeple understand. If burning is for free every thing we consume less will be eaten by someone else. Still not burning fossils (by green BAU or Amish BAU) is the right way to act. If that way is attractive and >50% of poeple go after it, it will prevent collapse. If not (e.g. because to many fossil poeple or other radicals argue against green/Amish BAU), we may still loose with >80% renewables. But you can not blame renewables for our failure. Renewables are fine.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: JimD on February 10, 2014, 03:59:07 PM
A major nuclear plant operator in the US is contemplating closing plants due to their unprofitability.  Claim is that the ones in the mid-west can't compete with wind (subsidized) and natural gas.  Of course they didn't complain when we subsidized nuclear 9which we still do in some ways as the govt picks up the insurance for nuclear I believe).

What happens to the nuclear price calculation when gas prices stay up or rise further , and if the wind subsidies are cut?

http://oilprice.com/Latest-Energy-News/World-News/Wind-and-Gas-Forcing-Out-Nuclear-in-Midwest.html (http://oilprice.com/Latest-Energy-News/World-News/Wind-and-Gas-Forcing-Out-Nuclear-in-Midwest.html)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: JimD on February 13, 2014, 05:29:48 PM
An interesting article in the WSJ today on the Ivanpah solar plant (mentioned earlier in this topic) which just started generation recently.  This is the world's largest concentrated solar generating plant.  It uses 370,000 garage door sized mirrors to focus sunlight on boilers to generate steam and thus turn turbines to generate electricity.  The facility occupies 5 square miles of the Mojave Desert in California.  It now looks like this technology, once thought to be a very positive development, is not viable going forward.

Prime is of course the cost of electricity produced.  The Ivanpah plant cost $2.2 billion to produce electricity for 140,000 homes.  This is 4 times what a natural gas plant costs which has the same capacity and occupies several dozen times less space.  Solar panels are a much cheaper route to take for solar power generation.

A new problem identified is that now that it is up and running it turns out that it cooks a lot of  birds which fly inside the cone of focused sunlight that reaches temperatures of 1000 F.  We obviously cannot build a lot of these given that problem.

Of the 4 plants originally intended for California one is built, one is cancelled, one delayed indefinitely and the other California is recommending that it be built with solar panels vice the mirror design as that plant would be larger and in a much more sensitive area (it would have tower for focusing on that are 750ft tall vice the 450ft tall towers at the Ivanpah facility).
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: ccgwebmaster on February 13, 2014, 08:31:36 PM
Prime is of course the cost of electricity produced.  The Ivanpah plant cost $2.2 billion to produce electricity for 140,000 homes.  This is 4 times what a natural gas plant costs which has the same capacity and occupies several dozen times less space.  Solar panels are a much cheaper route to take for solar power generation.

I don't think you're comparing like with like. The concentrating solar thermal stations are at a much earlier point in their development than the solar panel farms - plus you need to consider they can be built more sustainably in terms of resource dependencies (rare earth metals for instance).

I don't see why the costs and problems associated with concentrated solar that you're describing can't be addressed and won't improve? There are far more solar panel farms out there than there are concentrating plants. Economies of scale and refinement in manufacturing techniques, research and development to improve problems - not like birds aren't a concern at airports for instance, but we somehow still seem to manage them (and one wonders if one could use netting or something to protect the area albeit at a cost of some energy loss).

Would solar panels really be cheaper if you take the long term view (exotic resource dependencies) and compare for an equivalent point in the lifecycle (some of the very earliest solar panel farms of comparable scale)?
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on February 13, 2014, 11:27:39 PM
JimD - 15 years ago I thought CSD would be much more efficient than PV and that we were betting a huge amount of money/ressources/energy on the wrong horse. Since some years it is clear, that I was wrong.

Still it was necessary to give every chance a trial those days - the investment was very risky in all cases. Even fusion was a way to try in history. Now we know, that wind and photovoltaics (PV) are the way to go. And that is a very good thing, because those two can be installed efficiently and localy in small amount but big numbers. We do not have to rely on big utility companies, which could potentially be hindered by conflict of interests.

Some research on alternatives is allways usefull, but the straight way to electricity is the combination of wind&PV and nobody can stop us anymore (short of ourselfes of course...).
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on February 13, 2014, 11:44:13 PM
I don't think you're comparing like with like. The concentrating solar thermal stations are at a much earlier point in their development than the solar panel farms - plus you need to consider they can be built more sustainably in terms of resource dependencies (rare earth metals for instance).
[...]
Would solar panels really be cheaper if you take the long term view (exotic resource dependencies) and compare for an equivalent point in the lifecycle (some of the very earliest solar panel farms of comparable scale)?
ccgwebmaster, there are no rare earth metalls in PV but in windmills (magnet, mounting) - but they are substituted in modern facilities. Furthermore, if you take care you can produce rare earth without harming environment. That is more expensive than producing them careless - that is the only reason why there is a monopol in China. Rare earth metalls are not rare. To get sustainable you need to take care of the whole production chain. And once we got the set-up running, recycling is easy and the life-cycle is closed. That is the way to sustainability: Think about the whole thing and close all cycles. We gained a lot experiences the last 30 years and that must be used in large scale now.

The answer for your last question is a clear yes. For production of PV you need sand and electricty (EROI is reasonable but not very nice). In future you will need old PV and a bit of electricity for replacement (EROI will be great - from one old pannel you can produce a lot of thin film pannels). Scaling will also be great - similar to DRAM (computer memory). The way is clear and sooner or later everybody will go it.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: ccgwebmaster on February 14, 2014, 02:15:33 AM
ccgwebmaster, there are no rare earth metalls in PV but in windmills (magnet, mounting) - but they are substituted in modern facilities.

[snip]

The answer for your last question is a clear yes. For production of PV you need sand and electricty (EROI is reasonable but not very nice). In future you will need old PV and a bit of electricity for replacement (EROI will be great - from one old pannel you can produce a lot of thin film pannels). Scaling will also be great - similar to DRAM (computer memory). The way is clear and sooner or later everybody will go it.

Well, I'm being a little sloppy in my terminology it turns out, not exactly rare earths - but still some things that aren't necessarily that plentiful for some panels:

http://www.solarblogger.net/2013/01/down-to-earth-will-scarce-rare-earths.html (http://www.solarblogger.net/2013/01/down-to-earth-will-scarce-rare-earths.html)

Indium, gallium and tellurium but apparently principally for thin film panels. So if that means the standard ones only require very common (and accessible) elements, fair enough - more sustainable than I thought.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: TerryM on February 14, 2014, 03:52:31 AM
Are any solar panel manufacturers powering their own operations with their own products?
Terry
BTW
I'm very familiar with Ivanpah & birds don't fly by. This is desert with nothing to sustain avian life.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: wili on February 14, 2014, 05:48:30 AM
Yes, lots. The first was decades ago already. Too tired and drunk to link. Many searchable sources on this, though......
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: JimD on February 14, 2014, 05:00:31 PM
Are any solar panel manufacturers powering their own operations with their own products?
Terry
BTW
I'm very familiar with Ivanpah & birds don't fly by. This is desert with nothing to sustain avian life.

As the link stated Terry they are frying a lot more birds than they expected to.  So obviously there are birds there.  But an additional part of the problem is that other locations are proposed which are in more hospitable places and thus there will be a lot more birds.  And considering the footprint of the place at 5 sq mi it does not take a high bird concentration to end up with a significant number flying into the concentrated sunlight.

ccg  netting is not an option.  Ivanpah's towers are 450 ft tall.  The next location which Calif regulators are trying to have the company switch to pv panels vice the mirrors would have towers 750 ft tall.  And don't forget the footprint.  Ivanpah's mirrors occupy 5 square miles or about 3500 acres.

As to the mirror approach being in an earlier stage of development are you sure about that?  We have been making mirrors and steam boilers for a couple of hundred years.  I would not expect dramatic improvements in either at this point and there is no other significant technology involved is there? 
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on February 14, 2014, 05:36:05 PM
As to the mirror approach being in an earlier stage of development are you sure about that?  We have been making mirrors and steam boilers for a couple of hundred years.  I would not expect dramatic improvements in either at this point and there is no other significant technology involved is there?
Next to mirrors significant technology is in the collectors and heat exchange systems. I know only the Schott systems e.g. in Spain, Almeria: The tricky part was glass-metall welding lasting huge temperature cycles and agressive media. The things were solved and facilities run fine and are quite mature - but not many scaling effects in sight. Advantage of CSD over PV is that you can store energy several hours and tune the output. Problem is, that scaling seems to be worse than PV with battery - so every day CSD will loose more ground even if investments would be similar. And global investments are not similar... CSD might be a niche for some deserts with low wages workers (to clean the mirrors without water every day...) but it will not save the world. (But please prove me wrong in future - I have a nice track record in wrong predictions).
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: TerryM on February 14, 2014, 06:07:12 PM
Re. Ivanpah


~30 years ago I was spending every weekend on the dry lake. The only birds I ever saw were misguided seagulls who mistakenly thought there might be food when flash floods inundated the area. We did spot 2 Great Horned Owls in the only tree for many miles far off road further south near Afton. Buzzards don't come by because there's nothing there that might die. I've never seen so much as the skeleton of a coyote until I was further south than Nipton. Desert Tortoise burrows are in the hills to the west, but it's a pretty lifeless place.
Avicide is probably not going to be their main problem going forward. The winds are such that wind powered land speed records are sought there. Flooding is a regular occurrence with flash flooding virtually guaranteed during El-Nino events. The soil is almost unbelievably expansive when it gets wet - I measured 50% in a simple experiment where I added water to a one inch layer in a dish and measured an extra 1/2 inch within moments. The other problem is that when expanded the soil won't hold any weight. A vehicle driven out there before everything has had time to dry thoroughly will sink in to the floor pan, and it takes months to dry.
They built a similar facility ~ 50 miles south just outside Barstow that ran for ~ 10 yrs before they tore it down. It was quite the sight glowing red in the night sky, but apparently was never competitive with FF.

Terry
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: JimD on February 14, 2014, 06:17:27 PM
The $2.2 Billion Bird-Scorching Solar Project

At California's Ivanpah Plant, Mirrors Produce Heat and Electricity —And Kill Wildlife

Quote
...power project officially opening this week in the California desert is the first of its kind, and may be among the last, in part because of growing evidence that the technology it uses is killing birds....

....reported finding dozens of dead birds at the Ivanpah plant over the past several months, while workers were testing the plant before it started operating in December. ...

....The dead birds included a peregrine falcon, a grebe, two hawks, four nighthawks and a variety of warblers and sparrows. ....

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304703804579379230641329484 (http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304703804579379230641329484)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: ghoti on February 14, 2014, 06:20:15 PM
Wall Street Journal (Fox News on paper) - lying about environmental issues for over 40 years.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: ccgwebmaster on February 14, 2014, 07:08:19 PM
ccg  netting is not an option.  Ivanpah's towers are 450 ft tall.  The next location which Calif regulators are trying to have the company switch to pv panels vice the mirrors would have towers 750 ft tall.  And don't forget the footprint.  Ivanpah's mirrors occupy 5 square miles or about 3500 acres.

As to the mirror approach being in an earlier stage of development are you sure about that?  We have been making mirrors and steam boilers for a couple of hundred years.  I would not expect dramatic improvements in either at this point and there is no other significant technology involved is there?

Mirrors and steam boilers haven't received anything like the total investment of solar panels, I'd wager. Just because a technology is older doesn't mean it's been fully explored or researched. Airships would be an example of another technology I think has been neglected that could well have promise if research was updated to reflect decades of modern expertise and materials.

I submit it would be possible to put nets up - it's possible to cover the site with the much more solid materials already there. You would only need them before the sunlight reaches concentration levels lethal to birds (relatively near to the receiver). But as also noted there are plenty of other bird scaring technologies developed for use at airports.

In any event - airports have a similar problem with birds.

And wind turbines kill bats (if not birds) - roads also kill a lot of animals (including birds) - so why are the bird casualties in this instance a particular concern?
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Neven on February 14, 2014, 07:18:32 PM
Quote
dozens of dead birds at the Ivanpah plant over the past several months

Our neighbours' cat killed dozens of birds over the past several months (and I can assure you it's not the only cat in Austria, Europe or the world), but as it isn't a threat to fossil fuel profits, I don't expect a WSJ article soon.  ;D

The number of birds killed by cats, windows and cars is hundreds if not thousands of times bigger than the number of birds killed by windmills or other alternative energy technology. The argument is very disingenuous.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: TerryM on February 14, 2014, 07:38:11 PM
Jim
You live within a half days drive. Book a room at Cactus Kate's and post photos of all the birds you see. A dozen birds over the time of construction and a few months of operation may represent all the birds that flew over during that period ( a 100% mortality rate) - but I think this has more to do with Mr. Murdoch than reality. The argument about how much land is required may sound reasonable to someone unfamiliar with the Mojave Desert, but land out that way is pretty cheap.
I don't think building it was a good idea, but if every bird that flew over that lakebed died it wouldn't have as much effect as one hotel in Toronto.
Terry
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: ghoti on February 14, 2014, 08:07:58 PM
Neven the multiplier is more likely a million times...

https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/800519-environment-canada-bird-study.html (https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/800519-environment-canada-bird-study.html)

Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Buddy on February 14, 2014, 08:30:08 PM
So.....let me get this straight.  The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) is worried about a dozen birds being killed, but they aren't worried about millions of fish being killed by oil and gas......and hundreds of thousands of people in West Virginia being poisoned by coal.

That would almost lead one to think that the WSJ is owned by the same company that FOX "News" is owned by.....:)

Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: JimD on February 14, 2014, 08:36:05 PM
I have been through there Terry.  I travel through the Mojave every time I go visit my son in CA.  I also spend a lot of time hiking/backpacking in the Sonoran desert as I am a Wilderness Steward for the Forest Service so I have a very good understanding of the scale of wildlife in the desert.  It is a lot more than many think.

If bird mortality is near 100% and the facility occupies 5 sq miles that can kill a large percentage of the birds over a  much larger area over the course of a year.  This would have a big impact on the ecosystem in a few years.  Locating other plants which are even larger in locations which have higher concentrations of wildlife would have a much larger impact.  Note that the article says California wants to change to other designs so I would say, given their track record on supporting alternate energy installations, there are significant issues here.  The 4 times the cost of natural gas facilities being one of them also. This sort of points out the irrelevance of the snipping about the WSJ being the same as Fox news doesn't it?

Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: ccgwebmaster on February 14, 2014, 08:59:58 PM
If bird mortality is near 100% and the facility occupies 5 sq miles that can kill a large percentage of the birds over a  much larger area over the course of a year.

But the mortality region won't be 5 sq miles as the heat will only become categorically lethal as you approach the concentrator. In any case, having one test site lets research be done to determine how to cost effectively reduce bird kill. I can't see why it's a big issue in the grand scheme of things.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Buddy on February 14, 2014, 09:03:43 PM
"This sort of points out the irrelevance of the snipping about the WSJ being the same as Fox news doesn't it?"

No....actually, it doesn't.  I think ALL "news" outlets.....should be "upfront and evenhanded" in dealing with ALL issues, and that includes environmental issues.

I would have NO PROBLEM with a news outlet reporting on this SPECIFIC environmental issue....if that news outlet also reported on environmental issues of the fossil fuel company's as well (you know.....fair and balanced:).

FOX News or the Wall Street Journal reporting on an environmental issue is laughable.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: JimD on February 14, 2014, 09:32:39 PM
Buddy

The trouble for you then is that ALL news outlets are biased.  If you don't realize that you have missed a big issue.  Read any publication or blog or any specific author.  Not one of them is unbiased and many are just spewing propaganda..from either the left or right.  People talk crap from all perspectives.  It is the readers responsibility to use their intelligence to work though those issues. If they care to, which most don't, as they are so comfortable in their biases to not want to listen to or read what their "opponents" are saying.

I read a very wide range of news sources from the very hard right to the very hard left and in between.  There is value found in all places and crap as well.  If one does not know how to articulate all sides of an issue one does not actually understand it very well.

One of the troubles with being very ideological is that one is going to be dead wrong about a third of the time, about a thrid of the time it does not matter either way, and about a third of the time one has it pretty right.  The trouble is figuring out which third is which. 
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: TerryM on February 14, 2014, 09:45:18 PM
I'm sorry Jim I should have put a smiley after the 100% comment.


The Mojave is real desert & that valley is a particularly desiccated one. For years I sand sailed just east of the freeway & had a friend with a malachite mine between Nipton and Afton. The number of paleo and archaic sites in the area is fantastic & I've been through most, but bird do-do was never a problem. Can we leave it that it's a lousy place to build anything, including I15 and the handful of casinos that have sprung up since the 70's?
I've always felt that dry lake beds were one of the jewels of the SouthWest and that despoiling them was a sacrilege. When we camped on them everyone was very good at removing their trash in hopes that future generations would be able to experience the same pleasure that the barren landscape gave us. The casinos killed those fantasies, but the Californian side had still been untouched. Now it's not.
A friend discovered a large paleo site between Sandy Valley and Ivanpah since I moved to Canada & last time I was down he took the head of the anthropology dept at  UNLV, the emeritus prof. of anthropology, my wife and myself to the site. It was thrilling to be with the first handful of gringo's to recognize it for what it was. In that period there had been a large stream emptying into a small lake and the encampment was on the south face of a hill overlooking the confluence.
During the ice age the area must have been like a garden of Eden, especially if one were partial to clams & freshwater fish. Ancient fish weirs are still visible at Silver Lakes dry lake bed not too far from Ivanpah & a huge midden of clam shells indicates the peninsula they inhabited.
Sorry for the rambling - I really miss the desert.
Terry
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Buddy on February 14, 2014, 09:54:23 PM
Jim:

I don't think all news outlets are biased.  I do think that MANY of them are biased to some extent.  But FOX and WSJ (Newscorp companies) are worse than biased.....they INTENTIONALLY LIE OR MISLEAD.  THAT.....is not bias.  That is much worse than bias.

For me....I am an Independent.  Always have been....and always will be.  Bias in most cases it is NOT a good thing.  After all.....we should be looking for the "best" answer....or "truth".....not what satisfies our bias.  As an Independent, I look for the truth.

For environmental issues.....and specifically issues dealing with renewable energy and climate change, I will not be looking for any "news" from the WSJ or FOX.  I think their record speaks for itself (painfully).  I would LOVE for their to be a conservative, HONEST news source.  But unfortunately, FOX and the WSJ do not fit the bill.  If they will lie about climate change......they will lie about anything.

We apparently disagree on that.





Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: JackTaylor on February 15, 2014, 01:14:33 PM
Quote
dozens of dead birds at the Ivanpah plant over the past several months

Our neighbours' cat killed dozens of birds over the past several months (and I can assure you it's not the only cat in Austria, Europe or the world), but as it isn't a threat to fossil fuel profits, I don't expect a WSJ article soon.  ;D

The number of birds killed by cats, windows and cars is hundreds if not thousands of times bigger than the number of birds killed by windmills or other alternative energy technology. The argument is very disingenuous.
Neven,

Neighbors cats in South Carolina USA are very good at killing birds here also.  Numerous feather piles I clean from my yard each year.  Feral cats are also becoming notorious for bird - small animal deaths.  Don't you dare poison them sweet little 'puddy-cats' so the only hope for birds is that our growth in coyotes will eliminate the cats.

Feral pigs digging up vegetable plots with deer knocking down garden corn is another problem, but off topic for this thread.

Also, OT, it's too bad the cats can't be trained to kill more squirrels that eat my zucchini&squash - cucumbers, have to grow lettuce in a half-inch mesh cage to escape squirrels, and worst of all they have an appetite for my tomatoes just as they become "vine ripe."
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: JimD on February 15, 2014, 04:33:49 PM
Since I posted the article about Ivanpah I have found the responses very interesting.  Not in a good way however.

The technical specifics of whether the concentrated solar plants are viable economically aside (an interesting discussion on its own of course - and one tending so say that it is not it seems) are the tone of a number of the other responses which have surprised me a bit.  I have spent some time thinking and reading a bit in regard to that and I want to point out something.

One of the human behaviors which has inevitably led us into the mess we are in is the discounting of the value of other species when balancing their continued existence against human needs or desires.  This has been observed and commented on extensively by biologists and environmentalists for many decades.  It has led to the decimation of species for sport such as the sport killing for pleasure which Teddy Roosevelt was famous for in the late 1800's.  He believed it was a demonstration of virility and manhood to go out and shoot large numbers of animals for no other purpose than to kill them.  On hunting expeditions in the west he would routinely shoot several hundred large game animals in the course of a few weeks (he kept detailed records).  And leave the carcass' laying to rot.  Only in later years when he realized that the game was almost gone did he convert to conservation principals.  But only for the purpose of continuing his sport.  In the late 1800's and into the early 1900's it was common in the US for large shooting parties to assemble along the continental flyways to intercept the vast flocks of birds migrating north/south (Americans seem to have had it in for migrants throughout our history).  I have read accounts of hunting parties of 20-30 men who killed 40,000 songbirds in a single day.  The flocks of the big migratory birds used to darken the skies for literally days along the eastern and central flyways before the vast majority of the birds were exterminated.  Mostly all for sport.

The salmon runs of the Pacific Northwest were so heavy at one time the native American's fished with baskets.  The rivers were solid fish.  Through building dams and overfishing they are mostly gone now.  I could go on in this vein for many hours or even days describing the human decimation of the natural world.  I am sure that most of you are at least somewhat aware of these past and present practices of humans discounting the value of other life.  Many here express great concern about the ongoing human caused mass extinction event. The death of  life in the ocean due to overfishing and acidification is a frequent topic.  Most decry what is happening and the callous disregard for the long term impacts.

Yet, here we have an article which mentions that a favorite Green-BAU project, which besides having big financial problems, is  proving to be troublesome in terms of the numbers of birds it is killing and all of a sudden 'those' birds are not important in the face of our needs.  If a technology proves highly fatal in percentage terms to an animal population this means that over a fairly short amount of time that population will be exterminated.  This is just a fact we have proved over and over again.  ALL ecosystems are valuable and contribute to what used to be a working whole.  Each one you degrade or destroy lessens the ability of the whole to continue to function.  They are intimately related and interconnected to each other.  Need I remind anyone that our survival is wholly dependent on the continued functioning of Natures ecosystems in part and in whole. 

Saying the birds have no value is no different from saying the whales have no value, or the tuna, or the last rhino, or tiger, or polar bear, or the indigenous peoples we empire builders have exterminated over the last few hundred years.  Do you really want to advocate this position?  That all that exists is here for us to exploit and control.  That we have dominion over the Earth by a God given right?  Do you want to advocate that common belief in the face of evidence that it is a suicidal one?

Attitudes like I have seen above and the full acceptance of the premise that modern civilization should be maintained even though it is completely unsustainable in any form are what lead me to my belief that there is no difference between standard BAU approaches and Green-BAU desires.  Both discount the value of all other species to the point of our collective suicide.  Other than our parasitic buddies the cockroaches the only species in overshoot on this planet is us.  The only population which needs to shrink is ours.  Every bird killed by the Ivanpah plant is worth more than any individual human being.  We need the birds we do NOT need the human beings.

Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: JimD on February 15, 2014, 04:40:43 PM
Quote
dozens of dead birds at the Ivanpah plant over the past several months

Our neighbours' cat killed dozens of birds over the past several months (and I can assure you it's not the only cat in Austria, Europe or the world), but as it isn't a threat to fossil fuel profits, I don't expect a WSJ article soon.  ;D

The number of birds killed by cats, windows and cars is hundreds if not thousands of times bigger than the number of birds killed by windmills or other alternative energy technology. The argument is very disingenuous.

Domesticated cats are a human created invasive species.  Anyone who owns such an animal is responsible for keeping it from killing birds.  Birds are essential to a functioning ecosystem domestic cats are not.  It would be far better to exterminate the cats than the birds and in some places in the world feral cats are killed on sight and should be.  The birds being killed by cats are just part and parcel of the human destruction of nature and the dismissive attitude about what they do is another sign of the blindness of the human condition.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: ccgwebmaster on February 15, 2014, 05:06:28 PM
Yet, here we have an article which mentions that a favorite Green-BAU project, which besides having big financial problems, is  proving to be troublesome in terms of the numbers of birds it is killing and all of a sudden 'those' birds are not important in the face of our needs.  If a technology proves highly fatal in percentage terms to an animal population this means that over a fairly short amount of time that population will be exterminated.

I'm not precisely disagreeing that we should consider the wildlife, in this case the welfare of birds, but I think you might gain insight from my wider perspective.

I am young enough to expect to see a significant chunk of the sixth mass extinction play out. I have every expectation of seeing my ancestors policies (and those of the richer and more powerful of my generation in the end perhaps) almost completely destroy the oceans. A majority of coral is already gone in some areas. Modern infrastructure and habitat loss have already killed vast amounts of wildlife before climate change even really gets going. My species has a history of over harvesting animals even before modern technology came into play. As others have pointed out animals kept as amusement kill vast numbers of birds too.

In the context of the desolate (potentially hellish) wasteland my future world is - what significance do a few more dead birds really have? They are just a tiny drop onto a staggeringly massive heap of rotting carcasses, just another little increment in the destruction of my habitat. Later generations will not know so many animals because they will all be gone (I also expect to see billions of my own species die in my lifetime).

Why are these birds so special to merit all this attention compared to the rest of the dying world?

Now even if you think this viewpoint reprehensible (though it accounts for my personal indifference to smaller scale bird slaughter), I suggest that we cannot live within the world (even sustainably) without some impact on other species. We are always going to need at least some space for our own species, always going to need some resources - the usage of which will negatively affect other species. We are a part of the ecosystem and therefore cannot have zero impact on it.

I would not hesitate to kill an animal for food, or to protect my food. While I think the natural world needs a significant allowance of it's own (and personally would see a majority of the planets surface set aside left virtually untouched for nature to maintain balance) - we are always going to have an impact on other species for as long as we exist. The responsibility that falls to us as a super predator with excessively potent technological advantages (even just fire and sharp sticks) is to use intelligence - to be careful in how we interact with the rest of the system, to understand how to work within limits and not against them.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: ccgwebmaster on February 15, 2014, 05:12:17 PM
Domesticated cats are a human created invasive species.  Anyone who owns such an animal is responsible for keeping it from killing birds.  Birds are essential to a functioning ecosystem domestic cats are not.  It would be far better to exterminate the cats than the birds and in some places in the world feral cats are killed on sight and should be.  The birds being killed by cats are just part and parcel of the human destruction of nature and the dismissive attitude about what they do is another sign of the blindness of the human condition.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2013/05/15/new-zealand-may-declare-a-war-on-cats/ (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2013/05/15/new-zealand-may-declare-a-war-on-cats/)

Some people in New Zealand get it.

Don't forget birds are also killed through habitat loss. Neither in the farms or in the cities are reasonable expanses of their habitat typically preserved by people for their continued existence.

When you get the corpses to count, it's easy to see the death - when they're just quietly squozen out of existence (and presumably die after being displaced into territories without sufficient food for the new population) it isn't so visible.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: JimD on February 15, 2014, 05:14:02 PM
Jim:

I don't think all news outlets are biased.  I do think that MANY of them are biased to some extent.  But FOX and WSJ (Newscorp companies) are worse than biased.....they INTENTIONALLY LIE OR MISLEAD.  THAT.....is not bias.  That is much worse than bias.

For me....I am an Independent.  Always have been....and always will be.  Bias in most cases it is NOT a good thing.  After all.....we should be looking for the "best" answer....or "truth".....not what satisfies our bias.  As an Independent, I look for the truth.

For environmental issues.....and specifically issues dealing with renewable energy and climate change, I will not be looking for any "news" from the WSJ or FOX.  I think their record speaks for itself (painfully).  I would LOVE for their to be a conservative, HONEST news source.  But unfortunately, FOX and the WSJ do not fit the bill.  If they will lie about climate change......they will lie about anything.

We apparently disagree on that.

You say you are unbiased and independent but the rest of your words say the opposite.  I appreciate your 'sort of' honesty that you make no real attempt to learn all parts and issues of a subject and are appear to be fully committed to a one way of viewing things no matter what.  It allows me to discount anything you say unless it is backed up by linked serious academic work.  Same as I do with George Will. 

ALL news sources are biased and intentionally LIE.  It is naïve in the extreme to think otherwise.  No one is pure, no one comes without an agenda, maybe your wife won't sell you down the river but just about anyone else will if the price is right. 

I spent my working career in the US intelligence community.  I know ideology, bias and lying.  I have direct experience with it at the highest levels possible.

I also have relatives and acquaintances at very high levels of the US environmental movement to include Greenpeace, the NRDC, the Sierra Club, and the Nature Conservancy.  If you think that they are pure in action and do not resort to falsehoods, propaganda and outright lies when the benefits seem worth the risk you are walking through this world blind.

Disagree with you?  I don't think you have any idea what you are talking about here.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: JimD on February 15, 2014, 05:30:15 PM
I'm not precisely disagreeing that we should consider the wildlife, in this case the welfare of birds, but I think you might gain insight from my wider perspective.

I am young enough to expect to see a significant chunk of the sixth mass extinction play out. I have every expectation of seeing my ancestors policies (and those of the richer and more powerful of my generation in the end perhaps) almost completely destroy the oceans. A majority of coral is already gone in some areas. Modern infrastructure and habitat loss have already killed vast amounts of wildlife before climate change even really gets going. My species has a history of over harvesting animals even before modern technology came into play. As others have pointed out animals kept as amusement kill vast numbers of birds too.

In the context of the desolate (potentially hellish) wasteland my future world is - what significance do a few more dead birds really have? They are just a tiny drop onto a staggeringly massive heap of rotting carcasses, just another little increment in the destruction of my habitat. Later generations will not know so many animals because they will all be gone (I also expect to see billions of my own species die in my lifetime).

Why are these birds so special to merit all this attention compared to the rest of the dying world?

Now even if you think this viewpoint reprehensible (though it accounts for my personal indifference to smaller scale bird slaughter), I suggest that we cannot live within the world (even sustainably) without some impact on other species. We are always going to need at least some space for our own species, always going to need some resources - the usage of which will negatively affect other species. We are a part of the ecosystem and therefore cannot have zero impact on it.

I would not hesitate to kill an animal for food, or to protect my food. While I think the natural world needs a significant allowance of it's own (and personally would see a majority of the planets surface set aside left virtually untouched for nature to maintain balance) - we are always going to have an impact on other species for as long as we exist. The responsibility that falls to us as a super predator with excessively potent technological advantages (even just fire and sharp sticks) is to use intelligence - to be careful in how we interact with the rest of the system, to understand how to work within limits and not against them.

I hear you.  Discounting is a slippery slope.  You find issue with worrying about 'some' birds.  even though it may virtually eliminate them from an ecosystem.  The same thoughts as yours occur to the Japanese fisherman harvesting the whales.  I need to feed my family so this individual shipload of whales (or tuna) is not that big of a deal.  But we started out hunting whales from rowboats in sight of land in New England and Japan and elsewhere.  Look where we are today.  That common human attitude results in nothing being left eventually.  I am sure I am talking to the choir here and you are fully aware of the above problem.

Your comment leads me back once again to my fundamental point in all of our discussions here.  Given that natural human attitude you expressed above it clearly leads one to the conclusion that total human population levels are primary to any and all solutions.  Any large number of humans living by the attitude you expressed will destroy the ecosystems and our climate.  We are not sustainable in any way of measuring.  Never will be.  But as you point out, if we are very careful and cognizant of our impact we can probably live on this Earth successfully for a very long time.  But to keep our damage inflicted on the eco-systems minimal we must find a way to reduce our population.

Given the probable amount of time we have left to accomplish such a task there are no humane, fair, painless options left to make that reduction happen.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: ccgwebmaster on February 15, 2014, 06:22:38 PM
I hear you.  Discounting is a slippery slope.  You find issue with worrying about 'some' birds.  even though it may virtually eliminate them from an ecosystem.  The same thoughts as yours occur to the Japanese fisherman harvesting the whales.  I need to feed my family so this individual shipload of whales (or tuna) is not that big of a deal.  But we started out hunting whales from rowboats in sight of land in New England and Japan and elsewhere.  Look where we are today.  That common human attitude results in nothing being left eventually.  I am sure I am talking to the choir here and you are fully aware of the above problem.

Your comment leads me back once again to my fundamental point in all of our discussions here.  Given that natural human attitude you expressed above it clearly leads one to the conclusion that total human population levels are primary to any and all solutions.  Any large number of humans living by the attitude you expressed will destroy the ecosystems and our climate.  We are not sustainable in any way of measuring.  Never will be.  But as you point out, if we are very careful and cognizant of our impact we can probably live on this Earth successfully for a very long time.  But to keep our damage inflicted on the eco-systems minimal we must find a way to reduce our population.

To the extent that you're highlighting the attitude as a problem - I agree wholeheartedly - attitude is the key foundation of the problem.

To me though it's a numbers game - logically one fights this sort of fight at the points which matter the most. A classic optimisation of effort - maximum results for minimum efforts. To that extent, one should start with the things that kill the most birds the first. That has the most likely effect in terms of reducing bird slaughter? That is to say that I think initiatives such as the one in New Zealand are to be applauded - and in any case with respect to your population note - check out the amount of food calories and resources that are poured into supporting pets such as cats and dogs? Pets kept for nothing more than amusement or sometimes company? Pets are therefore fair game on two counts.

Infrastructure bird kill (which arguably includes any kill from concentrated solar energy) and habitat loss are also very significant - but as explained above we cannot totally negate these while our species continues to exist (though population arguably is a lever of control). For those there is the more complicated requirement to determine what is acceptable and reasonable, and what is not. It is not inherently wrong to fish (even for whales, unless exempting them on intelligence grounds) - but it is wrong to over fish. There is a gray area (hard to measure, if not to quantify) around the line there in terms of at what point you move from fishing to over fishing. The basic principle is simple enough though - take only what can easily be replaced before you take more, and what will not cause widespread damage to other species in the process (whale harvesting by anyone except eskimos fails on just about any count you care to consider).

Consider however that even photovoltaic panels have negative impacts on birds and wildlife?

http://www.kcet.org/news/rewire/solar/water-birds-turning-up-dead-at-solar-projects-in-desert.html (http://www.kcet.org/news/rewire/solar/water-birds-turning-up-dead-at-solar-projects-in-desert.html)

http://migratorysoaringbirds.undp.birdlife.org/sites/default/files/RSPB%20Solar%20panel%20briefing.pdf (http://migratorysoaringbirds.undp.birdlife.org/sites/default/files/RSPB%20Solar%20panel%20briefing.pdf)

And then the question becomes - are you entirely against all forms of solar power as all have implicated negative effects on birds?

But then you look at the monstrous fossil fuel powered plants that are destroying the system at a much larger - global - scale? How many birds invisibly die as an ultimate consequence of that? Is it not an improvement to roast a smaller number in concentrated solar beams than are already dying with the existing power infrastructure? (while I take your point that it is a question of scale in relation to population and am sure you will note that the new energy infrastructure is tending to add to existing stuff and not replace it - I'm talking hypothetically somewhat)

And for me - while I accept what you say about discounting, I have discounted the whole world. Animals, people, civilisation, my own quality and quantity of life - everything. Whatever ashes or scraps I should have under my control at any point in time I try (and will continue to try) to behave responsibly with - but the rest is a fight I cannot win, nor see any way to achieve a significant advance within. And so I watch the world dying and mostly shrug, planning my fight for a bit later, when I think I can make more of a difference and achieve something more productive.

Given the probable amount of time we have left to accomplish such a task there are no humane, fair, painless options left to make that reduction happen.

Once again (as with carbon dioxide emissions), to pick this battle and to achieve a victory - you need a time machine. A lot could have been achieved 40 years ago with limits to growth, climate change science and associated recognition, the population bomb, the first oil shock and so on - all things that happened before I was even born.

To me that makes it also not worth too much effort, people just the same as birds. So many are going to die, in both cases I only have a shrug in response. Those battles are (to me) lost causes - but we can still try to do better in the end. Accepting a violent and hellish outcome - the question becomes how do we learn and avoid repeating all these mistakes?

Sustainability (of which population is a key component) applies at any scale. A small group, a diminished nation - there are still limits within which they must remain to be remotely sustainable (and moreover those limits are going to be far less in the diminished future world than they are now).

So the principles you espouse still have value even if the battles of today are essentially lost causes. They are still things the species must adopt and value to have any chance of going anywhere.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Buddy on February 15, 2014, 06:25:21 PM
"You say you are unbiased and independent but the rest of your words say the opposite."

Jim:  Obviously....you didn't read my post carefully.  I did NOT say I was not "biased".  I said I was an Independent.  We can pee back and forth at one other forever...and it won't accomplish anything.  And I assume others aren't too interested in it as well (and probably don't want to get hit by the spray:).  So...this will be the last of this "thought" for me.

First...EVERYONE is biased to SOME EXTENT.   For instance, humans are BORN BIASED (and yes...research backs that up).  We are automatically biased towards people who look like us, talk like us (sorry Boston:), or act like us.  At one point in time hundreds or thousands of years ago, it probably was a GOOD THING because people who "weren't like us" probably wanted to kill us.  Here is a link if you or anyone else wants to look at a discussion of "prejudice" and "bias".

http://www.differencebetween.com/difference-between-prejudice-and-vs-bias/ (http://www.differencebetween.com/difference-between-prejudice-and-vs-bias/)

To me...it is pretty simple.  We (humans) should always be looking for the truth....not just that which is in line with any bias we may have.  That certainly applies to climate change, and I think it applies to everything in life.  It makes life a LOT easier when we look for the truth.  And we make much better decisions when we use FACTS to arrive at decisions, rather than relying on what one group or another "thinks".

And THAT is where "journalism" comes into play.  This is one definition of journalistic integrity:

"Journalistic integrity is based on the principles of truth, disclosure, and editorial independence."

Journalists at some stations take their "journalistic integrity" much more serious than others.  With the advent of cable, many of them have apparently dropped the "integrity" part.

I'm glad you have friends in high places at Greenpeace.  I hope I don't offend them or you, by telling you I have never visited a Greenpeace website, nor ever gotten any information from them.  Sorry.  I'm not the liberal "treehugger" you apparently have in mind.  I'm a fiscal conservative and a social moderate.  I look for information that is BASED ON FACTS...not ideology.

Just remember this:  If someone is to the "far left" in ideology, EVERYONE looks like a conservative.  And if someone is to the far right in their ideology.....EVERYONE looks like a liberal.

Journalists CAN be an important part of our society.....but only if they keep "journalistic integrity" as part of their DNA.  And that means they report ON and look FOR the TRUTH.  Not that which supports their bias.  The reason that I have absolutely no respect for FOX is that they AVOID FACTS AND SCIENCE LIKE THE PLAGUE.  I would LOVE it if there was a CONSERVATIVE news outlet on tv that embraced science and facts.  FOX..... is not it.

Cheers...:)






Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: ccgwebmaster on February 15, 2014, 06:29:05 PM
Journalists CAN be an important part of our society.....but only if they keep "journalistic integrity" as part of their DNA.  And that means they report ON and look FOR the TRUTH.  Not that which supports their bias.  The reason that I have absolutely no respect for FOX is that they AVOID FACTS AND SCIENCE LIKE THE PLAGUE.  I would LOVE it if there was a CONSERVATIVE news outlet on tv that embraced science and facts.  FOX..... is not it.

Can you cite an example of a single unbiased news outlet?

Even the author of an article and the editor fine tuning it are going to add a little bias onto it.

Sometimes much stronger factors are at work too such as how it relates to funding (whether through eyeballs and adverts or direct funding).

Have you considered that to outlets such as Fox - it IS the truth?
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: TerryM on February 15, 2014, 07:31:30 PM
"[size=0px]Can you cite an example of a single unbiased news outlet?"[/size]
[/size]Not sure that I have this correct, but my understanding was that the BBC when it began international broadcasting was up against larger, more established networks broadcasting from other European nations. To separate themselves from the others (and increase their listeners) they made a decision to broadcast factually even if it showed England in a poor light.[size=0px]
[/size]As far as Foxes guarding Avians, that's been an old saw for a long time.[size=0px][/size][size=78%]
Terry[/size]
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on February 15, 2014, 07:48:28 PM
Can you cite an example of a single unbiased news outlet?
I would recommend the printed (weekly) version of www.zeit.de (http://www.zeit.de):
Different journalists are publishing there - sometimes two with different opinions next to each other on one topic. If any article is to biased you will find some feed-back a week later correcting for that. Those journalists are taking their jobs very seriously and also try to correct their errors.
If it is biased then liberal in European understanding: They love to show different opinions and debates. How can a real journalist not be liberal in that sense ;-)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Neven on February 15, 2014, 09:44:41 PM
When I said the bird argument was disingenuous, I didn't mean to say that birds didn't matter.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Shared Humanity on February 15, 2014, 09:56:41 PM
When I said the bird argument was disingenuous, I didn't mean to say that birds didn't matter.

Who could look at these pictures and not arrive at this conclusion? In fact, I'd argue that this bird matters more than any 10 randomly selected humans.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: JimD on February 20, 2014, 05:10:22 PM
Will the U.S. Follow the U.K. Into Power Shortages?

Quote
As Britain endeavors to build new nuclear power plants to avert an electric crisis in 20 years -- with the retirement of nearly all the nation's installed capacity, as it falls prey to age -- the question arises whether the United States is destined for the same crisis.

http://oilprice.com/Alternative-Energy/Nuclear-Power/Will-the-U.S.-Follow-the-U.K.-Into-Power-Shortages.html (http://oilprice.com/Alternative-Energy/Nuclear-Power/Will-the-U.S.-Follow-the-U.K.-Into-Power-Shortages.html)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: JimD on February 20, 2014, 05:39:28 PM
I should have included this in my previous post.

Uneconomic US nuclear plants at risk of being shut down

Quote
More US nuclear power plants are at risk of closure because they are no longer economic, industry leaders have warned, jeopardising the administration’s hopes that the reactors can help support energy security and limit greenhouse gas emissions.

Exelon and Entergy are among the US power generators facing pressures to close some of their nuclear plants, as a result of lower electricity prices, competition from cheap gas, and sometimes political opposition.

On Wednesday Ernest Moniz, energy secretary, said the government would offer $6.5bn in loan guarantees to support the construction by a consortium led by Southern Company of two new reactors at Vogtle in Georgia, scheduled to start up in 2017-18.

Over the next five years, however, it is possible that more nuclear capacity will be shut down in the US than started up.

Quote
High quality global journalism requires investment. Please share this article with others using the link below, do not cut & paste the article. See our Ts&Cs and Copyright Policy for more detail. Email ftsales.support@ft.com to buy additional rights. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/da2a6bc6-98fa-11e3-a32f-00144feab7de.html#ixzz2tsf8oqkF (http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/da2a6bc6-98fa-11e3-a32f-00144feab7de.html#ixzz2tsf8oqkF)


Where nuclear plants have to go head-to-head with gas-fired plants, and with wind and solar power that are supported by regulatory mandates, they are finding it hard to compete.

....It has been clear for years that the shale gas boom made it hard for costly new reactors to compete. Over the past year, though, it has become clear that even some existing plants are no longer commercially viable.

Another way to look at it is that wind and solar are knocking off the nuclear plants but not the coal.

Note especially the graph in the article and what the trends for coal, gas and renewables were over the most recent year.   Coal is up the most.  Gas is down the most.  This makes sense in regards the rising cost of gas and the low price for coal.

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/da2a6bc6-98fa-11e3-a32f-00144feab7de.html?siteedition=intl#axzz2tmlqrHlP (http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/da2a6bc6-98fa-11e3-a32f-00144feab7de.html?siteedition=intl#axzz2tmlqrHlP)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: wili on February 20, 2014, 05:44:01 PM
It's behind a paywall, so I can't see the graph to which you refer. But this article claims that quite a few coal plants are likely to be shut down by 2016: http://www.climatecentral.org/news/flurry-of-coal-power-plant-shutdowns-expected-by-2016-17086 (http://www.climatecentral.org/news/flurry-of-coal-power-plant-shutdowns-expected-by-2016-17086)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Shared Humanity on February 20, 2014, 08:10:23 PM
SH:  I don't disagree with SOME of your assessment.  The US is certainly a "bright spot" of sorts when it comes to coal.  And yes....the REST of the world (especially China and India) are the primary culprits...

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/12/16/remember-the-war-on-coal-coal-is-losing/ (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/12/16/remember-the-war-on-coal-coal-is-losing/)

As more and more impacts from climate change become "obvious".....it becomes harder and harder to ignore them unless someone lives in the FOX world of delusion and anti-science (by the way...I don't minimize that....there are quite a few poor soles that are following FOX over the cliff).


Buddy....been away for a while but thought I would respond. I think you are missing my main point about trends in coal use. It simply does not matter whether humanity suddenly (as in tomorrow) has an epiphany about global warming and CO2. Once the capital investments have been made, the coal fired plants that are in place will simply not be dismantled. Each and every plant will live out its economic usefulness. Our coal consumption can only be reduced slowly from its current record use. Since I believe we are still a couple of decades away from that epiphany, I would expect that worldwide coal consumption will be doubled by 2030.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: JimD on February 20, 2014, 08:28:15 PM
It's behind a paywall, so I can't see the graph to which you refer. But this article claims that quite a few coal plants are likely to be shut down by 2016: http://www.climatecentral.org/news/flurry-of-coal-power-plant-shutdowns-expected-by-2016-17086 (http://www.climatecentral.org/news/flurry-of-coal-power-plant-shutdowns-expected-by-2016-17086)

Wili,  I saw that and we hit it on another thread.  The article is based upon a few assumptions which may not hold.  One is that the price of natural gas will stay low enough to make it cheaper than the coal plants.  This assumption may well not hold as natural gas is going up and its long term outlook is higher still.  Another big problem is that all those EPA regulations have to get by big opposition from the Republican Congress and very likely federal lawsuits.  I expect that you will find a lot of those plants still in operation come 2020.  As SH pointed out the coal companies invested a lot of money and they are going to fight to recoup every penny of profit they can.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: JimD on March 13, 2014, 05:58:45 AM
A new study on the EROEI of large scale solar installations indicates that they ONLY have an EROEI of ....2.45..yes 2.45...I am not joking.  This is devastating news for advocates of solar.   

Many people have gotten very upset with me when I point out the big problems with large scale solar installations and the cost of them.  I have said that there is no chance that we can convert to renewables and run civilization as it exists today.  If you look at the numbers they just do not work out.  And I said this based on information about the EROEI of solar being much higher than this real world performance indicates is the actual EROEI.  This should be the last nail in the coffin for the idea that we can live the way we do now using just renewables.  It is just not possible. 

Please read this full article as it will knock your socks off.


Quote
This is the first time an estimate of Energy Returned on Energy Invested (EROI) of solar Photovoltaics (PV) has been based on real data from the sunniest European country, with accurate measures of generated energy from over 50,000 installations using several years of real-life data from optimized, efficient, multi-megawatt and well oriented facilities.

Other life cycle and energy payback time analyses used models that left out dozens of energy inputs, leading to overestimates of energy such as payback time of 1-2 years (Fthenakis), EROI 8.3 (Bankier), and EROI of 5.9 to 11.8 (Raugei et al).

Prieto and Hall added dozens of energy inputs missing from past solar PV analyses.  Perhaps previous studies missed these inputs because their authors weren’t overseeing several large photovoltaic projects and signing every purchase order like author Pedro Prieto. Charles A. S. Hall is one of the foremost experts in the world on the calculation of EROI.  Together they’re a formidable team with data, methodology, and expertise that will be hard to refute.

Prieto and Hall conclude that the EROI of solar photovoltaic is only 2.45, very low despite Spain’s ideal sunny climate.  Germany’s EROI is probably 20 to 33% less (1.6 to 2), due to less sunlight and efficient rooftop installations.

I have been reading work by Hall for many years.  He is good. 

Quote
Oil
◾The world burns 400 EJ of power, though after fossil fuels begin their steep decline, there’ll be 10-20 EJ less per year.
◾Very large oil fields provide 80% of oil, and they’re declining from 2 to 20% per year, on average at 6.7%.
◾The rate is expected to increase to 9% if not enough investments are made – and perhaps 9% even if they are.

Spain’s solar photovoltaic electricity
◾It’s the 2nd largest installation of PV on earth
◾Produces about 10% of the world’s PV power: 4,237 MW—equal to four large 1000 MW coal or nuclear power plants
Solar PV would have to cover 2,300 square miles to replace the energy of nuclear and fossil fuel plants.  You’d also need the equivalent of 300 billion car batteries to store power for night-time consumers.
◾In 2009, these plants generated 2.26% of Spain’s electricity, the largest percent of any nation in the world

http://energyskeptic.com/2013/tilting-at-windmills-spains-solar-pv/ (http://energyskeptic.com/2013/tilting-at-windmills-spains-solar-pv/)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Neven on March 13, 2014, 06:49:37 AM
My PV solar array has just produced its first mWh, so I'm a bit biased.  ;)

It might be true that the creation of huge PV solar plants costs so much energy, that the EROI is barely 2.5. But how about a distributed network of rooftop PV solar arrays? One would think it costs a lot less concrete and paving, rooftops already there, etc.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: idunno on March 13, 2014, 07:41:21 AM
Tesla to invest billions in storage batteries forcars, wind and solar...

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/mar/09/cheap-batteries-renewable-energy-market-big-power-companies-wind-solar-power (http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/mar/09/cheap-batteries-renewable-energy-market-big-power-companies-wind-solar-power)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on March 13, 2014, 09:40:22 AM
My PV solar array has just produced its first mWh, so I'm a bit biased.  ;)

It might be true that the creation of huge PV solar plants costs so much energy, that the EROI is barely 2.5. But how about a distributed network of rooftop PV solar arrays? One would think it costs a lot less concrete and paving, rooftops already there, etc.
Neven, I am a bit biased, too. So I am quite satisfied that rigorous calculation of EROI is allready >2 for old installed solar with guarantee to become better each year (~30% reduction per doubled capacity). Of course that is not as easy energy than burning oil swelling from the sand in Saudia Arabia - but enough to be used for sustainable living allready today once you installed the first piece.

But do not expect that small installations have higher EROI: You probably paid ~50% of the costs for craftspeople installing that modules and pannels. Indirectly you paid that for energy: The amount of cars and life style accessoires the worker needs to get out of bed and spend his time at your house translates to energy and other ressources quite well. That is also the reason why it is a bit more energy efficient to buy that stuff from China - they still need less stuff per day than European poeple...

JimD - nobody really advocates that the use of renewables provides sustainable life (or what you call green BAU). But it is very clear that any sustainable society must rely solely on renewable energy sources (or we do have a strange problem with the words "sustainable" and "renewable"?). Same for agriculture: The "US marketing organic" is clearly not sustainable. Also the much older anthroposophic bio-dynamical agriculture (~100 years - direct answer to industrial agriculture those days - every child learns to manually pull a plough through the wet soil in that Waldorf schools but still they prefer to use a machine later) is not 100% sustainable but a good root for that since it is prooven to work quite close to sustainablity.
A future sustainable society will have to make use of such roots and we must grow those roots right now. So we have to install only renewables now. That is the reason why renewables allready have "tipped".
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Buddy on March 13, 2014, 11:47:39 AM
<<(or we do have a strange problem with the words "sustainable" and "renewable"?)>>

BINGO...  There are only two types of worlds in the long run (thousands of years) with the number of people we have on the planet now:  (1)  sustainable, and (2) not sustainable.

The world is starting to figure that out.  Individuals were the first to figure that out (some a LONG time ago), businesses are also figuring that out, and governments (politicians) will be the last that are dragged to the sustainable table.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Jim Hunt on March 13, 2014, 12:55:27 PM
Please read this full article as it will knock your socks off.

People have been known to get upset with me too Jim!

http://econnexus.org/floods-of-planning-poppycock-in-teignbridge/ (http://econnexus.org/floods-of-planning-poppycock-in-teignbridge/)

Since the book is rather expensive, here's some slides from messrs Prieto and Hall:

http://www.wire1002.ch/fileadmin/user_upload/Documents/Reports/110403_How_much_net_energy_does_the_Spain_s_Solar_PV_program_deliver.pdf (http://www.wire1002.ch/fileadmin/user_upload/Documents/Reports/110403_How_much_net_energy_does_the_Spain_s_Solar_PV_program_deliver.pdf)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: JimD on March 13, 2014, 06:09:22 PM
My PV solar array has just produced its first mWh, so I'm a bit biased.  ;)

It might be true that the creation of huge PV solar plants costs so much energy, that the EROI is barely 2.5. But how about a distributed network of rooftop PV solar arrays? One would think it costs a lot less concrete and paving, rooftops already there, etc.

I think it is highly unlikely that roof top solar installations would have EROEI's as high as very large scale concentrated installations like power plants.  That would fly in the face of all of our experiences with deploying technologies.  That is not to say that there could not be reasons to go that way or both ways as long as the discussions were bound in a limited fashion.  But if we have that discussion and remove those bounds we will get a different answer.


This leads us back to a theme I am always returning to.  What is the primary problem we always face?  Most people when asked this question are incapable of anything but short term responses that focus on jobs, taking care of their families and other items that directly effect their lives.  But the primary problem is always and will always be survival of the species (I am bought into the concept of human exceptionalism).  This is always a long term concern, but has become a medium term issue due to AGW focusing our attention a bit.

This leads us to the issue of sustainability as mentioned above.  In a rigorous sense sustainability means the ability to live here on the Earth indefinitely.  In practice most of us seem to think that criteria is impractically strict and opt for phrases like 'thousands of years'.  My preference is for a period of several 'tens' of thousands of years.   The reason I pick a period that long is that I think it will give us time to ride out AGW, reorient/rebuild our societal structures of how to live, rebuild a complex civilization based upon more suitable technologies, and hopefully fulfill human potential (yes I have anthropocentric tendencies).  But if we take actions which dramatically worsen AGW from what we have done so far we might need a lot longer than 'tens' to ride it out if it would even be possible.

The issue of sustainability leads one to the concept of the carrying capacity of the Earth.  For the landbase has primacy over all other factors affecting human survival.  It is not religion, or ideology or race or morality or ethics.  The landbase (which includes the oceans) determines how many species and how much of each, including people, can live on the Earth.  The carrying capacity is intimately linked with the chain of life. Species diversity is critical to how that chain of life functions and without those other species we die. The concept of the food chain has great import in this discussion as our actions are breaking down that chain... and without it we die.  We cannot live alone on this planet.  We have to leave space for all the other species we evolved in tandem with and who are essential to our well being.  This too is part of sustainability and directly related to carrying capacity.  Everyone has to have their space. 

Human population is quite likely 4-5 times the carrying capacity of the Earth if we use my goal of being 'sustainable' for several tens of thousands of years.  In a rigorous sense one would have to go back to when human populations were not such that they materially damaged wide scale parts of the globe.  Since such damage was already evident when human populations were at 1 billion then we would likely end up with a human population something like 500 million for rigorous sustainability.  This leads me back to something I harp on all the time.  Human population and its growth.  We are heading towards 9+ billion people and increasing industrialization and growing the global economy.  This is measured quite accurately by the rising CO2 levels.  But what this means in terms of carrying capacity is that we are making the divide between it and a sustainable population wider all the time.  The pristine Earth's carrying capacity was much higher than that of the damaged Earth we have now.  The damage is increasing and the population is going up.  That is an artifact of industrial civilization.  In no sense of the term that we can visualize at this time is civilization sustainable.  Industrial civilization is far less sustainable.  Trying to maintain it is suicide.  If we do not stop this gap from widening we will reach the point where the carrying capacity is essentially zero.  Just like exponential growth cannot continue forever neither can our damage to the earth's carrying capacity.  [To digress a bit I want to note that many seem to think that dumping 'civilization' implies we go back to being cavemen.  But that does not follow.  Human intellect and philosophy and how to live ethically and morally did not come from civilization.  If we give it up for a time we do not lose all the essential stuff.  Maybe it even helps us to return to the real meaning of such things.]

The above is self evident in the numbers.  If we all managed to learn to live as efficiently as you (Neven) indicated was your goal (2.5 tonnes CO2 emissions per year if I remember correctly) that would be quite an accomplishment from where we are now, but it would also mean that when we have those 9+ billon people our CO2 emissions would be more than 22 Gtonnes per year (better than the 35 now but not enough to make a difference overall).  Suicide.  If we all lived like the average African (sort of half industrial and non-industrial) we would still have CO2 emissions of 10 Gtonnes a year.  Also suicide.  1 billion humans living that way would still result in emissions of 2.5 Gtonnes per year.  Even at that level ppm of CO2 would possibly continue to rise though the recovering bio-sphere might generate enough growth to balance concentrations out.  Maybe there would even occur a slow reduction in ppm from that point.  Thus sustainability would be within reach.

This is where the sustainability arguments get us.  There is no form of large scale civilization or technology which is sustainable.  Electric cars will not help us solve the primary problem nor will converting our vast power generation capabilities to renewables.  Businesses cannot be sustainable.  You cannot even build houses and grow food for populations like ours sustainably.

We must work continually to focus on the core problem and stop taking the easy way out.  It is false progress.  We are making our decisions on what to do based upon faith not reason.  Dreams of technical miracles are no different than expecting God to come down from heaven and save us at the last instant.  Or aliens. 

I sit here and think where we are likely to be in another 20 years.  The food productivity of the oceans will be down significantly from where we are now if not in almost collapse mode.  AGW will be starting to have big impacts on land based food production.  We will still be consuming vast quantities of fossil fuels even if we are trying to make the unsustainable transition to all renewables as they will be required to keep the lights on during the transition and to mine the resources and run the factories making the renewable infrastructure.  We will have emitted another 600 Gtonnes of CO2 and will have long ago crossed the trillion tonne level of total emissions.  We will have baked into the cake temperature and sea level rises of staggering amounts.  How many would disagree with the likelihood of that happening.  As that is the focus and direction of the BAU and Green-BAU approaches.  It is suicidal.

I point back to the crash on demand discussions.  Which approach results in less suffering (and is thus more humane) and which approach results in the best chance of solving problem number 1?  I am too old and crippled up to become a soldier for Deep Green Resistance so this is what I try and do (would that I had known when I was 18 what I know now).  Point out the cold hard facts and urge a conversion to a more honorable and ethical approach to how we live the rest of our lives.  Though we have been taught to live for ourselves by this 'civilization' I think we should be living for our descendants.  They are the innocent we are not.  They are the future we are not.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Shared Humanity on March 13, 2014, 06:18:48 PM
My PV solar array has just produced its first mWh, so I'm a bit biased.  ;)

It might be true that the creation of huge PV solar plants costs so much energy, that the EROI is barely 2.5. But how about a distributed network of rooftop PV solar arrays? One would think it costs a lot less concrete and paving, rooftops already there, etc.

I have always felt that there is a problem with concentrated solar arrays that use the existing grid to deliver electricity. I have mentioned this before.

1st, I feel these concentrated arrays are vulnerable to violent weather. A warming planet will be delivering weather extremes that have rarely or never been recorded in human history.

http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2014-03-11/news/48118432_1_hailstorms-central-maharashtra-maharashtra-farmers (http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2014-03-11/news/48118432_1_hailstorms-central-maharashtra-maharashtra-farmers)

A coal fired electricity generation plant will stand up very well to this kind of weather. A solar array will look a lot like this wheat field.

2nd, I believe that for us to eliminate BAU, we need to move towards "local" in everything we do. This is true for each and every activity that occurs in civilization today, agriculture, production, water management. The more we are able to move to local, the more we will cut down on waste. For example, U.S. domestic agriculture is better then flying strawberries from Argentina, family farms are better than industrial farms, home gardens are better than family farms. Follow this logic with anything that occurs and you will find the same, less wasteful results.

Let's look more closely at electricity generation. (See chart below.)

In the U.S., this is what the power generation supply chain looks like. For the moment, let's just look at "electricity generation" and "residential use". 68% of the energy used to generate electricity at plants is wasted as can be seen by the "rejected energy" box on the right of this chart. In fact this waste (26.1 Quads) is the single largest waste of energy in the U.S with transportation waste coming in 2nd at 20.23 Quads. Think of these losses as CO2 contribution to the atmosphere with no benefit to humanity. This is not entirely accurate as 31% of the electricity generated does not come from fossil fuels (nuclear, wind, hydro, solar and geothermal) This energy loss in electrical generation is a function of "conversion efficiencies" and "transmission losses". It is estimated that 7% of the electricity generated in the U.S. is lost during transmission.

http://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.cfm?id=105&t=3 (http://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.cfm?id=105&t=3)

Now let's look at residential use of electricity.

The first notable observation is that only 20% of the electricity delivered and consumed by residences is waste, far better than the 68% in the generation and transmission of electricity. This conversion waste would be in the form of heat etc. (My laptop is getting warm as I type.) Anything we can do to locate energy generation at the residence will reduce transmission loss. Moving to solar generation at residences will obviously also eliminate CO2 released to the atmosphere. If we were to generate all residential electricity requirements using solar and located at the residence, (I understand this is not feasible but I am using this to make a point) we would reduce fossil fuel consumption in the U.S. and its associated CO2 emissions by 26.16 Quads or 32% of the total consumed.

Why aren't we doing this now?

Up till now, we have relied on individuals to decide to install the rooftop panels. The high costs and "payback periods"....

http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy04osti/35489.pdf (http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy04osti/35489.pdf)

can make this a difficult decision for the individual consumer. When you factor in the current state of the U.S. economy and the general lack of disposable income, you get very low installation rates.

So, how do we do this?

While the capital outlay and 4 year payback may be prohibitive for the individual consumer, this represents an amazing opportunity for utility companies to turn a profit. 4 year payback is small and the elimination of resource costs out into the 30 year lifespan of a residential photovoltaic installation is a phenomenal long term ROI. Have the utility companies install and own the residential panels. Have them charge the residents for the energy generated and watch how quickly inefficient coal fired plants will be taken offline. This  business model is not unlike the way phone companies use to deliver service to residents. They owned the phones and serviced the lines for free.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Neven on March 14, 2014, 10:20:19 AM

But do not expect that small installations have higher EROI: You probably paid ~50% of the costs for craftspeople installing that modules and pannels. Indirectly you paid that for energy: The amount of cars and life style accessoires the worker needs to get out of bed and spend his time at your house translates to energy and other ressources quite well. That is also the reason why it is a bit more energy efficient to buy that stuff from China - they still need less stuff per day than European poeple...

The materials I bought were at least put together in Austria and Germany (probably prefabricated elsewhere, like wafers), but you're right that when you look at costs purely as a proxy for energy, the whole array will pay for itself about 2.5 times during its lifetime (25 years) without the subsidy (25% of total price of 10K euros), based on today's energy prices and one inverter change halfway.

It is indeed true  - intuitively - that large centralized solar arrays will be more efficient and thus have higher ROI than distributed solar on homeowner's rooftops. But when I saw how much energy goes into stuff for centralized that doesn't apply to distributed, I wasn't so sure.

From the article (http://energyskeptic.com/2013/tilting-at-windmills-spains-solar-pv/) that Jim linked to are the energy costs of several aspects of Spanish PV solar plants (I assume these are the big centralized ones, and not the smaller distributed ones) in GWh/y. The total amounts to "2,065.3 GWe of the above energy inputs used annually to generate electricity is 40.8% of all the electricity generated by the solar PV plants of Spain, resulting in an EROI of 2.45". Here are things that are built especially for centralized, but already there for distributed:

Quote
56.6   Foundations, canals, fences, accesses

4.7   Evacuation lines and right of way

138.6   Security and surveillance

That's already about a 10% difference. I also think that a lot less metal goes into rooftop mounting vs building constructions for the modules to be mounted on. Another point would be less transportation losses when power comes directly from the roof. These are all aspects I don't have (time to find) the numbers for, sorry.

Some more detailed info from the previous link (http://energyskeptic.com/2013/tilting-at-windmills-spains-solar-pv/):

Quote
The access roads from the main highway to the plant, which across all the PV plants in Spain added up to about 300 km (186 miles),  used 450,000 m3 or 900,000 tons of gravel.  That takes 90,000 truckloads of 10 tons each traveling an average of 60 km round-trip, or 5,400,000 km (3,355,400 miles) at .31 of diesel per km or 1,620,000 liters of diesel. At 10.7 KWh/liter, that’s 17.3 GWh of fuel.  Then you need to add the energy used by other equipment, such as road rollers, shovels, pickups, and cars for personnel, and the energy to grind, mix, and prepare the gravel and the machinery required.

There are also service roads onsite to inverters, transformers, and distributed station housings, the control center, and corridors between rows of modules.  There are foundations and canals.  A total of 1,572,340 tons of concrete was used, requiring 489.3 GWh of energy.

Surrounding all these facilities are fences 2 meters high that used 3,350 tons of galvanized steel, and another 3,350 tons of steel posts, or 385 GWh of energy.

Maybe the difference between centralized and distributed isn't that high, but centralized will get precedence because centralized power (energy) is good for centralized power (the thing that corrupts) and thus fits in well in the capitalist growth-at-all-cost system.

Like SH says:

Quote
2nd, I believe that for us to eliminate BAU, we need to move towards "local" in everything we do. This is true for each and every activity that occurs in civilization today, agriculture, production, water management. The more we are able to move to local, the more we will cut down on waste. For example, U.S. domestic agriculture is better then flying strawberries from Argentina, family farms are better than industrial farms, home gardens are better than family farms. Follow this logic with anything that occurs and you will find the same, less wasteful results.

Like it says in the article: "Solar PV doesn’t come close to providing the 12 or 13 EROI needed to run a complex civilization like ours." The question is: what kind of culture/civilization can we run on an EROI of 2.5? And would that be bad or good?
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Shared Humanity on March 14, 2014, 04:42:10 PM
I actually believe the single biggest obstacle to the mass installation of residential photovoltaic panels is the difficulty in monetizing the investment. Let the local utilities have a monopoly on the communities installations and watch how quickly they get installed.

One added benefit of residential installations is that it reduces the investment required for a smart grid. The reductions in electricity use will simply look like individual users being disciplined about turning off lights and appliances and using air conditioning expeditiously.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on March 14, 2014, 04:52:21 PM
[To digress a bit I want to note that many seem to think that dumping 'civilization' implies we go back to being cavemen.  But that does not follow.  Human intellect and philosophy and how to live ethically and morally did not come from civilization.  If we give it up for a time we do not lose all the essential stuff.  Maybe it even helps us to return to the real meaning of such things.]
JimD - I understand and agree to most of the words in your article. But the words I quoted here are just wrong or I did not understand them: In my world civilization is the way poeple live together. It is culture, education, law system, philosophy and then also the scientific&technological background of that poeple. It is by no way related to the amount of stuff poeple consume or to the way they apply their technological background for business - you do not need that for civilization.

So civilization as I know that word is quite independent of EROI - as long as poeple can keep their society/education/culture together.

A lot of poeple have prooven that it is possible to life sustainable in small groups. And there are many of such groups and practical experience is old - some allready forked during the beginning of industrialization and a lot more switched back since the 80ies.

I think Neven hits the nail here:

The question is: what kind of culture/civilization can we run on an EROI of 2.5? And would that be bad or good?
To find a save way to future we should calculate with this EROI number - any progress would be appreciated but we must not rely on that to be on a save path.
Therefore, since any sustainable society must rely solely on renewables we should find a way to maintain human live at EROI ~2-3. We should organise that civilization to be good and not bad.

Surely that results in lower population density necessary - so more education is needed at places, where population degrowth is still not significant.

PS Neven: small scale renewables are the guarantee for the transition since nobody can stop individuals from installing renewables or a small group of 10-100 poeple from installing a efficient wind turbine right now. We do not rely on big utility which could have different interests. Furthermore, in some groups craftsmen install your modules not for energy (cars, electronics...) but for education/culture/health care/food - that would easily double the EROI of your installation.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: JimD on March 14, 2014, 05:30:48 PM
SATire

I think our differences on this might be our working definitions of what 'civilization' means are different.  I use the standard encyclopedic definition of the word and use other terms to describe aspects of how people live together.

Quote
Civilization or civilisation (in British English) generally refers to state polities which combine these basic institutions, having one or more of each: a ceremonial centre (a formal gathering place for social and cultural activities), a system of writing, and a city. The term is used to contrast with other types of communities including hunter-gatherers, nomadic pastoralists and tribal villages. Civilizations have more densely populated settlements divided into social classes with a ruling elite and subordinate urban and rural populations, which, by the division of labour, engage in intensive agriculture, mining, small-scale manufacture and trade. Civilization concentrates power, extending human control over both nature, and over other human beings.[1]

In other words you cannot 'have' a civilization until you have cities, intensive agriculture, social classes, ruling elites, and manufacturing centers.  Then you end up with industrial civilization when one adds in the technologies requiring fossil fuels and all that other stuff.

So what I am saying is that before civilization existed humans had already developed morals, ethics, law, rudimentary philosophy (without which you cannot get to morals and ethics), religion, etc.  All of the really important and fulfilling aspects of human interaction predate 'civilization' so that is what I mean when I say that dumping civilization should not scare us off from the need to do so. 

Regarding your and Neven's comments on EROEI and sustainability.  Solar or wind renewable technologies require mining, manufacturing, produce pollution, transportation and so on.  Thus it is not possible that they are sustainable in any true sense of the word.  Are they better than using coal - sure, but they do not bring carbon emissions down to zero and thus will not stop AGW getting worse.  Eventually we must stop making it worse.

Quote
A lot of poeple have prooven that it is possible to life sustainable in small groups. And there are many of such groups and practical experience is old - some allready forked during the beginning of industrialization and a lot more switched back since the 80ies.

One would have to look hard at the living situation of each person claiming that they are living sustainably and see what one's own conclusion on that would be.  Many forget to take into account the benefits they are still taking advantage of that are provided by industrial civilization.  Are they using steel, making their own clothes from their own animals, going to the doctor in town, only trading with other farmers or buying stuff in town, etc?  None of my ancestors who farmed across America from the 1600's to the 1940's did so in a sustainable fashion.  It was less abusive of the land than depending on Monsanto and John Deere is today but would they have been able to live that way for 10,000 years.  Not a chance.  1000 years?  Highly unlikely.  Sustainable is very hard to achieve.

Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on March 14, 2014, 06:52:12 PM
JimD - you are right, the definition of "civilisation" is variing with places. I just learned e.g. that the common distinction between "culture" and "civilisation"  in Germany is not typical in roman or anglo-saxon countries. However - a broader basis could be that civilisation depends on a lot of poeple interacting e.g. in cities and they develop structures to handle that. So - we could leave it at that.

You are also right, that we are not living sustainable. And also renewables will not make us sustainable. And another common background is, that population is to large for sustainability. And that this problem is due to the fact that education is missing.

But to come back to the topic here: If a society wants to live sustainable because it wants to stay, it must use renewables solely. So this thread still makes sense. So it come down to the question how to get energy sustainable. The obvious way is: to get it renewable. Renewable means, that the sources get back to where it came from: The sun and the earth. Renewables are renewables, if the materials are used again without degeneration and these processes are driven by the sun. 

Of course that is only possible, if population is not growing and the consumption of the individuals is not growing. If poeple need more and more stuff, you have to dig more and more from the earth. But I see now reason why to blame "interaction of poeple in cities" for that. Poeple love to interact and that interaction does not cost ressources or energy. So the only thing to do is to learn to live with the stuff allready digged and present while installing the renewable basis in the mean time...
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: ccgwebmaster on March 18, 2014, 02:08:02 AM
Though we have been taught to live for ourselves by this 'civilization' I think we should be living for our descendants.  They are the innocent we are not.  They are the future we are not.

I think this is especially pertinent - and yet - far too many people think only of themselves, even when they have children.

With respect to solar power EROI I think it's worth noting it's still relatively early days for the technology? But I think early days are all it will see in the end, particularly if collapse comes sooner than later. We shouldn't need to consume the vast amounts of energy that we do - and yet our collective energy consumption in many ways is the fabric of modern civilisation.

Take it away and what is left?
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Buddy on March 18, 2014, 11:05:23 AM
Quote
I think this is especially pertinent - and yet - far too many people think only of themselves, even when they have children.

Agree....and the "Rick Santorum ban contraception" idea is easily one of the three worst ideas in history.  What the hell is he thinking?  We don't have enough food as it is in the world....so let's see how fast we can get to 10 billion and REALLY screw things up.  Incredible....



 
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: JimD on April 07, 2014, 05:53:57 PM
Quote
Wind power in the U.S. is on a respirator.

The $14 billion industry, the world’s second-largest buyer of wind turbines, is reeling from a double blow -- cheap natural gas unleashed by the hydraulic fracturing revolution and the death last year of federal subsidies that made wind the most competitive of all renewable energy sources in the U.S.

Without restoration of subsidies, worth $23 per megawatt hour to turbine owners, the industry may not recover, and the U.S. may lose ground in its race to reduce dependence on the fossil fuels driving global warming, say wind-power advocates.

Quote
Both wind and gas cost about $84 a megawatt hour to install worldwide, excluding subsidies, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. That’s 3 percent higher than a coal-fired power plant costs and about half that of nuclear reactors.

Quote
The best wind farms in the breeziest areas such as south Texas can be built for $60 a megawatt-hour, below the $65 price of a high-efficiency gas turbine, according to New Energy Finance.

Behind those headline figures are hundreds of variables that determine whether a utility picks wind or gas. The best wind farms may operate 45 percent of the time, while ordinary ones work less than a third of the day. The tax credit often is the decisive factor in determining whether to build a wind farm.

No Parity

“Without the Production Tax Credit, we don’t expect wind to be at cost parity with gas” in most places in the U.S., said Stephen Munro, an analyst at New Energy Finance.

The political environment in the US right now is not favorable for renewables.  There is good reason to expect that global installation numbers for renewables for this year will not impress come next Jan.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-04-06/shale-gas-boom-leaves-wind-companies-seeking-more-subsidy.html (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-04-06/shale-gas-boom-leaves-wind-companies-seeking-more-subsidy.html)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Buddy on April 07, 2014, 07:43:34 PM
I expect global installation of solar in calendar 2014 to be SIGNIFICANTLY higher than 2013:

1)  Natural gas prices have gone up in the US from $2.00 per unit in April of 2012.....to $4.42 per unit today.  Thus.....it has more than doubled in the past 2 years.

2)  Natural gas will move up over the coming 2 - 3 years towards $8 per unit.  Supply is NOT as great as many of the drillers had originally estimated.  In fact...if you look at many of the quarterly reports of publicly held gas drillers.....you will see that many of them have dropped their expectations for their "in ground inventory" of nat gas to be about 20 - 25% LESS than they originally expected (their initial expectations were based on a SMALL number of very good wells....which didn't turn out to be representative of additional drilling activities).

3)  US will be shipping more LNG later this year.....and in 2015 exports of LNG expect to rise again significantly.  Europe will be the primary user of the LNG exports......  Markets look ahead....and will price this in as time goes by.  I expect nat gas prices in the US to be around $6 per unit by the end of this year.  That will likely rise to $8 sometime in 2015 or 2016.

4)  India, China, Middle East, Japan, and US markets CONTINUE to gain strength in alternative energy.

5)  Politicians in the US are lagging other countries regarding solar........and it is starting to matter less and less as the cost differential between nat gas and solar continues to disappear.  Companies are now acting on (1) current costs, (2) expected FUTURE cost of nat gas.

6)  The "leasing mode" of installing solar for home owners is just now starting to take off.....in what will be a LONG run for the leasing companies.......taking away the "sticker shock" for the homeowner of installing the system, while at the same time getting a reduction of their monthly electric bill.

Interesting times indeed.....:)





Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: JimD on April 07, 2014, 09:04:44 PM
Well we will eventually have real data to find out.

But it is worth keeping in mind that there are different definitions of growth that do not always give the same answer as regards the health of an industry.

For instance, renewable capacity every year for some time.  But global dollar investment in renewables fell 12% in 2013 as compared to 2012.

And global dollar investment in renewables fell 9% in 2012 as compared to 2011.

That is a real trend also and not a good one.

The political climate for government support is waning currently in many countries.  This matters a lot and it has a big effect.  All is not rosy.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: sidd on April 07, 2014, 10:41:05 PM
To my naive mind, the fact that investment decreases as capacity increases implies more bang for the buck

but i am sure someone will be along soon to disabuse me of my oh-so-shallow conclusion ...

sidd
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: crandles on April 07, 2014, 11:02:36 PM
To my naive mind, the fact that investment decreases as capacity increases implies more bang for the buck

but i am sure someone will be along soon to disabuse me of my oh-so-shallow conclusion ...

sidd

Certainly more bang for buck is happening. Note that capacity largely accumulates while investment is an annual thing. The question is why more bang for buck isn't leading to more investment. I suspect part of reason is declining subsidies.

An expectation of more competition in future can also cause decline in investment as you get more bang for the buck with later investment. Possibly this is particularly true with energy market if the price moves second by second. If you expect or fear price while sun is shining to be nil and high when sun isn't shining. What is the point in investing if you expect that?
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: JimD on April 08, 2014, 05:25:13 PM
To my naive mind, the fact that investment decreases as capacity increases implies more bang for the buck

but i am sure someone will be along soon to disabuse me of my oh-so-shallow conclusion ...

sidd

Very correct.  But it does not have as big an effect as one might suppose as this effect is basically due to increasing efficiency of production, better efficiency of PV technology and such. In any such progression there is a diminishing return from such effects as one approaches technical limits to improvements.

The industry is still at a state where rapid growth requires govt support and subsidies.  Such things are always somewhat controversial and these especially so.  General economic troubles - like we are all facing - also contribute to forcing down govt support and, lastly, entrenched industrial competitors got to the public trough first and have a lot more bought politicians and plenty of money to buy more.

In other words, a tough situation and one must expect fluctuations in growth until the pure economics land solidly on the side of the renewables.  Not that that will end the competition, just that the tide will have turned finally.  We are some time from that point however - 10 to 15 years or so.

The above paragraph however just refers to the financial turning point and not to the carbon emissions turning point.  That happens when new renewable capacity is deployed in a one for one turn 'Off' of fossil capacity.  That is very hard to do when we are trying to grow the economy and deal with large population growth.

Now if our budding Super El Nino can cause enough havoc maybe we can ramp up the political will to grow govt support more and beat down the fossil interests.   "Cry havoc! And loose the dogs......."  and all that I guess.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: solartim27 on April 09, 2014, 07:29:51 AM
I believe this is my first post, been lurking for a while.

We have a 2.5 kW rooftop solar system, (would have liked to go bigger, but area was limited ) and drive a regular Prius and a Leaf.  We just received our annual electric bill, and will pay $300 US with 10k miles on the Leaf over the year.

When we installed the system the contractors were recommending against it because our electric use was so low the ROI was over 50 years out.  I am very happy with our decision.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: JimD on April 09, 2014, 06:31:36 PM
I believe this is my first post, been lurking for a while.

We have a 2.5 kW rooftop solar system, (would have liked to go bigger, but area was limited ) and drive a regular Prius and a Leaf.  We just received our annual electric bill, and will pay $300 US with 10k miles on the Leaf over the year.

When we installed the system the contractors were recommending against it because our electric use was so low the ROI was over 50 years out.  I am very happy with our decision.

Welcome.

Your decision is a great example of what an individual can do even though the ROI does not justify the decision.  However, a corporation CEO who started to make decisions where the ROI was 50 years out would wake up and find they were in the unemployment line and the house in the Hampton's was up for sale.

Thus another argument for continued govt support for renewables being required to maintain growth in the industry.   
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: sidd on April 09, 2014, 07:15:40 PM
"However, a corporation CEO who started to make decisions where the ROI was 50 years out would wake up and find they were in the unemployment line and the house in the Hampton's was up for sale."

I disagree. Look at the movers and shakers of the financial world who took a big pile of our money and set it on fire a few years ago. Unemployed ? Ha! Rewarded, rather.

Huge investments were made which any sane person could have predicted had negative ROI, enuf to bankrupt everybody. Failure is rewarded. Failure is expected. failure is a part of the "great consolidation," one that will impoverish the 99% further, while consolidating power and wealth to the 1%

The only thing that is punished is any move to threaten the preeminence of the oligarchs. They don't care at all if you lose money for your company, as long as it furthers their purposes.

I see that China and Russia realize this, they have made a pact with their plutocrats, the thieves are allowed a certain amount of money, but not power. I fear they have made a devil's bargain, but we shall see.

sidd

Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: ccgwebmaster on April 09, 2014, 11:04:05 PM
Huge investments were made which any sane person could have predicted had negative ROI, enuf to bankrupt everybody. Failure is rewarded. Failure is expected. failure is a part of the "great consolidation," one that will impoverish the 99% further, while consolidating power and wealth to the 1%

Failure isn't rewarded. Being friends with the right people and being born into the right families and having the right connections is rewarded.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: JimD on April 10, 2014, 04:00:56 AM
sidd

I was sort of joking and largely agree with you regarding what would happen in the case of mismanagement by those in charge of the big financial institutions.

In the case of CEO's of non-financial entities to get the same treatment as the bankers one would have to be in charge of a critical industry like autos that is responsible for a large part of the GDP and employment.  If you are running anything but a power company ROI's like 50 years are just not acceptable.  And I don't think even power companies go anywhere near that far out.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: sidd on April 10, 2014, 05:17:50 AM
1) "Being friends with the right people and being born into the right families and having the right connections is rewarded."

Not quite. Gore Vidal comes to mind, as someone who had all the right connections and background, and is hated terribly by the oligarchy for telling the truth. No doubt others will occur to you.

2)Power companies :

Enron, where the CEO conveniently dies, and the money is all gone, but the 1% prosper.  All USA power companies are caught in the tightening jaws of the iron triangle of coal, rail and transmission. Don't get me wrong, the oligarchs are not stupid and see this clearly, hence my interest in getting em to fight each other. The war of all against all is not a pretty thing, but i'd rather they do so first ...


3)In a larger sense, as others have explored, money has suborned state power in the USA, for example the rise of prison sentences for debt. A state retains legitimacy through monopoly of violence within its borders. Consider now the increase of private security forces in this context, or the employment of new york police and other city police forces to crush the Occupy movement. Try gatecrashing a gated community for example. We now see the rule of robber barons, unchecked. This will end in either a) a reassertion of state power through forcible expropriation of assets (ha! not in the USA) or 2) well you fill that in.

sidd
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: JackTaylor on April 10, 2014, 03:07:19 PM
Seawater to Gasoline
Quote
"Navy researchers at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), Materials Science and Technology Division, demonstrate proof-of-concept of novel NRL technologies developed for the recovery of carbon dioxide (CO2) and hydrogen (H2) from seawater and conversion to a liquid hydrocarbon fuel."
http://www.nrl.navy.mil/media/news-releases/2014/scale-model-wwii-craft-takes-flight-with-fuel-from-the-sea-concept (http://www.nrl.navy.mil/media/news-releases/2014/scale-model-wwii-craft-takes-flight-with-fuel-from-the-sea-concept)
"The predicted cost of jet fuel using these technologies is in the range of $3-$6 per gallon, and with sufficient funding and partnerships, this approach could be commercially viable within the next seven to ten years."

Some loose ends, gasoline (AV-Gas 100/130) vs. Jet Fuel (JP-5 kerosene) ?

$3 - $6 (USD) seems like a good deal, before taxes of course.

Some claims it would help to reduce ocean acidification, a big plus.

Let's wait and see if this one has legs.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: JimD on April 11, 2014, 06:41:58 PM
Hi Jack

Seawater to Gasoline
Quote
"Navy researchers at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), Materials Science and Technology Division, demonstrate proof-of-concept of novel NRL technologies developed for the recovery of carbon dioxide (CO2) and hydrogen (H2) from seawater and conversion to a liquid hydrocarbon fuel."
http://www.nrl.navy.mil/media/news-releases/2014/scale-model-wwii-craft-takes-flight-with-fuel-from-the-sea-concept (http://www.nrl.navy.mil/media/news-releases/2014/scale-model-wwii-craft-takes-flight-with-fuel-from-the-sea-concept)
"The predicted cost of jet fuel using these technologies is in the range of $3-$6 per gallon, and with sufficient funding and partnerships, this approach could be commercially viable within the next seven to ten years."

Some loose ends, gasoline (AV-Gas 100/130) vs. Jet Fuel (JP-5 kerosene) ?

$3 - $6 (USD) seems like a good deal, before taxes of course.

Some claims it would help to reduce ocean acidification, a big plus.

Let's wait and see if this one has legs.


Some interesting tidbits about this idea.  It is not actually new.  I found info about it back to 2009.

From Energy Trends in 2012

Quote
mac  • 2 years ago 

From Seawater to CO2

Scientists at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) are developing a process to extract carbon dioxide (CO2) and produce hydrogen gas (H2) from seawater, subsequently catalytically converting the CO2 and H2 into jet fuel by a gas-to-liquids process.

“The potential payoff is the ability to produce JP-5 fuel stock at sea reducing the logistics tail on fuel delivery with no environmental burden and increasing the Navy’s energy security and independence,” says research chemist, Dr. Heather Willauer.

NRL has successfully developed and demonstrated technologies for the recovery of CO2 and the production of H2 from seawater using an electrochemical acidification cell, and the conversion of CO2 and H2 to hydrocarbons (organic compounds consisting of hydrogen and carbon) that can be used to produce jet fuel.

“The reduction and hydrogenation of CO2 to form hydrocarbons is accomplished using a catalyst that is similar to those used for Fischer-Tropsch reduction and hydrogenation of carbon monoxide,” adds Willauer. “By modifying the surface composition of iron catalysts in fixed-bed reactors, NRL has successfully improved CO2 conversion efficiencies up to 60 percent.”

Quote
Must process 23,000 gallons of seawater to get 1 gallon of JP-5 jet fuel.

Note the efficiency quoted is for what counts as a laboratory model and when one travels the path from the lab to a working commercial scale facility well over 50% of the lab models cannot be scaled up and no full scale facility ever results, and the efficiencies always go down of course.  They are still a long ways from success.

The Fisher-Tropsch process has been around since the 1920's and was used heavily by the Germans in WWII.  Note the efficiency numbers from Wiki when FT is used with coal or gas as a feedstock.  With seawater the numbers are likely to be quite a bit lower.  The military is not real focused in general on EROEI but rather on the ability to execute their missions in any circumstances.

Quote
Process efficiency[edit]

Using conventional FT technology the process ranges in carbon efficiency from 25 to 50 percent[38] and a thermal efficiency of about 50%[39] for CTL facilities idealised at 60%[40] with GTL facilities at about 60%[39] efficiency idealised to 80%[40] efficiency.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fischer%E2%80%93Tropsch_process (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fischer%E2%80%93Tropsch_process)

Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: JimD on April 11, 2014, 09:03:06 PM
In addition to the post above there should be a reminder that the process they are using is an energy conversion process.  Converting a kind of energy that will not power a plane into one that does.  The entire process is going to use more energy than is contained in the jet fuel by a substantial amount. 

The navy needs jet fuel and hauling it out to sea and transferring it to an aircraft carrier is very expensive and in time of war perhaps not possible.  If they can build a small plant that is installed on the aircraft carrier that uses power from the nuclear reactor to produce jet fuel they could care less if it ends up 25% efficient as it solves military problems for them. 
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: ccgwebmaster on April 11, 2014, 11:13:18 PM
In addition to the post above there should be a reminder that the process they are using is an energy conversion process.  Converting a kind of energy that will not power a plane into one that does.  The entire process is going to use more energy than is contained in the jet fuel by a substantial amount. 

It's still interesting though - as it shows that truly niche applications could still be fed fuel, and you'd still have hydrocarbon feedstocks for industrial processes such as pharmaceuticals and plastics and so on.

All one needs is a plentiful supply of sustainably sourced energy and to put the genie back in the bottle on all the other problems...
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: JackTaylor on April 12, 2014, 01:30:50 PM
"It's still interesting though - as it shows that truly niche applications could still be fed fuel"
Let's wait and see if this one has legs.

Hopefully the NRL researchers will not be ridiculed for chasing something like the philosophers' stone
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: jdallen on April 14, 2014, 11:11:35 PM
"It's still interesting though - as it shows that truly niche applications could still be fed fuel"
Let's wait and see if this one has legs.

Hopefully the NRL researchers will not be ridiculed for chasing something like the philosophers' stone

Many things may be said of the US Military, but logistics is not something they tend to slack on.  The Navy in particular has been working for a while to try to cut the fuel umbilical.   The efficiency 22000 liters of sea water to one liter of fuel - is actually not that far off from some values of ore extraction - and does not consider that the recovery is non-destructive and requires little beyond filtering to prepare it for extraction.  It also returns *cleaner* water when done.  The process appears to be catalytic rather than heat driven, so as such at first glance does appear to offer a very good energy storage solution.

Back to ROI on solar... I bluntly consider most business analysis of this to be fatally flawed - much as that done for the nuclear industry - as for conventional generation it consistently keeps indirect costs of activity on someone else's books, in the form of pollution, effects on public health, and out and out environmental destruction.  For example, one of Halls assertions for Spain was that it would require 2300 square miles of panels.  If you consider land lost to coal plants and land taken out of service for mining. I'd say that number is either irrelevant or comes down in favor of solar. Add to this, that much of the solar can be done in situ, in distributed installations, and that number gets smaller still.

We have seen also business has been ridiculously off in assessing long term non-fixed costs when evaluating their effect on returns. This includes such things as Nuclear decommissioning, commodity costs for fuel, and required remediation to address pollution and environmental destruction.

In short, i remain to be convinced of the validity of the markets assessment of solar ROI.

(Money where mouth is - currently working up an expandable 1KW solar installation in Seattle. Now researching Edison batteries because of their mostly unlimited life.)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Neven on April 14, 2014, 11:54:54 PM
Jack, FWIW, I had a long look at NiFe batteries, but in the end wasn't convinced (look around in this forum (http://www.solarpaneltalk.com/showthread.php?3381-Nickel-Iron-vs-Lead-Acid-Off-Grid-battery-debate/page23), lots of info and personal experiences as well).

Original Edison batteries might work better, but it still takes a lot of time, work and know-how to run them properly. And even then life isn't unlimited.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: jdallen on April 15, 2014, 01:20:26 AM
Jack, FWIW, I had a long look at NiFe batteries, but in the end wasn't convinced (look around in this forum (http://www.solarpaneltalk.com/showthread.php?3381-Nickel-Iron-vs-Lead-Acid-Off-Grid-battery-debate/page23), lots of info and personal experiences as well).

Original Edison batteries might work better, but it still takes a lot of time, work and know-how to run them properly. And even then life isn't unlimited.

I will poke around. (Jeff, btw, but all good). I am also watching new tech.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: JimD on April 15, 2014, 03:53:36 AM
Here is some good skinny on the making of jet fuel from sea water.  I (along with a few other people) contacted Robert Rapier a nationally known expert on bio-fuels and energy (I have a slight acquaintance with him from some years ago) to ask for an analysis of this announcement.

Here is what he has to say.  There is no free lunch as one would expect.

Quote
What I would say is that this is a technically feasible process (so far it has produced enough fuel to run a model airplane), but quite energy intensive and expensive. Nowhere have I seen an overall energy balance, but it’s going to be very unfavorable. If I had to guess, the process is going to require 5-10 Btus minimum of energy inputs for each Btu of liquid fuel produced......

Conclusions

Claims such as the one I have addressed today pop up often in the popular media, aided by ignorance of basic thermodynamics. When it comes to energy, there is no free lunch, and you should be very skeptical about claims that so much as hint that the lunch will be cheap.



http://www.investingdaily.com/20076/one-more-free-lunch-in-energy-2/ (http://www.investingdaily.com/20076/one-more-free-lunch-in-energy-2/)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: JackTaylor on April 15, 2014, 11:25:54 PM
Jack, FWIW, I had a long look at NiFe batteries, but in the end wasn't convinced (look around in this forum (http://www.solarpaneltalk.com/showthread.php?3381-Nickel-Iron-vs-Lead-Acid-Off-Grid-battery-debate/page23), lots of info and personal experiences as well).

Original Edison batteries might work better, but it still takes a lot of time, work and know-how to run them properly. And even then life isn't unlimited.
Neven, I agree that NiFe batteries for powering Naval Aircraft very unconvincing - weight won't work.

Many things may be said of the US Military, but logistics is not something they tend to slack on.  The Navy in particular has been working for a while to try to cut the fuel umbilical.   The efficiency 22000 liters of sea water to one liter of fuel - is actually not that far off from some values of ore extraction - and does not consider that the recovery is non-destructive and requires little beyond filtering to prepare it for extraction.  It also returns *cleaner* water when done.  The process appears to be catalytic rather than heat driven, so as such at first glance does appear to offer a very good energy storage solution.
jdallen, Yes "cutting the fuel umbilical" is probably the objective of the NRL seawater-to-gasoline research.  I doubt they're doing it to produce gasoline for our automobiles.  Their claim of cost $6 - $8 (USD) per gallon, is that say from the energy from a nuclear powered ship not sailing at full or flank speed.  Perhaps there is some time when an aircraft carrier is not at a high speed for launch and recovery of aircraft requiring less than near full output from nuke reactors for propulsion. Just reducing the cost of accompanying "oiler - refueling" ships could go a long ways toward $10 - $20/gal cost being a payback.

If it has legs (that is if it works out to be feasible) we'll hear more about it within ten years.

Alchemy ( philosophers' stone - Magnum opus) is much older and well before Harry Potter novels - movies.

How long did Navy "coalers" sail the seas?





Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: TerryM on April 16, 2014, 09:05:44 AM
I'm totally ignorant about battery technology & curious about why the new batteries are preferable to lead acid when size and weight aren't a concern.
Reliability is high, costs are low & maintenance is fairly simple. Do the new batteries require less energy to charge? If not what are their advantages in stationary uses where space isn't critical.


Terry
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: werther on April 16, 2014, 09:11:55 AM
A critique on Krugman's recent blogpost (my thoughts in italics):

http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/04/15/rising-sun/?_php=true&_type=blogs&module=BlogPost-Title&version=Blog%20Main&contentCollection=Opinion&action=Click&pgtype=Blogs&region=Body&_r=0 (http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/04/15/rising-sun/?_php=true&_type=blogs&module=BlogPost-Title&version=Blog%20Main&contentCollection=Opinion&action=Click&pgtype=Blogs&region=Body&_r=0)

Apr 15, 11:37 am 70
Rising Sun
Joe Romm draws our attention to the third slice of the latest IPCC report on climate change, on the costs of mitigation; the panel finds that these costs aren’t that big — a few percent of GDP even by the end of the century, which means only a trivial hit to the growth rate.

The costs should be tracked from several different viewpoints. One is the specific conditions in a region. Another is the challenge rising from unknown feedbacks while the basic needs for a low emission scenario are followed. An example might be Dutch watermanagement. Under present IPCC scenario’s sea level rise might be manageable in the Netherlands. A question remains the energy-source needed to adapt and maintain the immense safety-structure. If, for whatever reason, the scenarios and forecasts are worse, the costs will rise significantly.

At one level this shouldn’t be considered news. It has been apparent for quite a while that given the right incentives we could maintain economic growth even while greatly reducing greenhouse gas emissions. But there is, in fact, some news that greatly strengthens the case that saving the planet would be quite cheap.

Where’s the source that that has been apparent for a while? The Stern-report perhaps? This sounds like pep-talk…

First, a word about the general principle here. Actually, for once I get to play “balanced” journalist, and bash both left and right. For there are some people on the left who keep insisting that economic growth is incompatible with reduced emissions, and that therefore we have to turn our backs on growth. Such people have no power, and therefore don’t do any real harm. Still, it’s worth pointing out that they have a much too narrow notion of what it means to have a growing economy. It doesn’t necessarily mean more stuff! It could be better stuff, or more services — and there are also choices to be made in how we produce and distribute stuff. There is absolutely no reason to believe in a one-for-one link between real GDP and greenhouse gases.

Apart from the tone, where does Krugman think originates the basic energy that drives any economy? It looks like there’s an unspoken rule within mainstream economy, whether supply- or demandside, to regard the economic system as a ‘perpetuum-mobile’. No one-for-one link GDP-GHG? What link is he looking for? One in the past, or in the future? Looking at the past, is it so hard to accept that almost any material or societal productivity has been fed by the use of abundant fossil energy?Even wars were started and won on the stuff. Maybe he’s right that future deployment of renewables might change the link. It should be tried,even though it remains unclear whether it will successfully support civilization.

As a practical matter, the fallacies of the right are much more important — indeed, they may destroy civilization. What’s notable about right-wing commentary on the economics of emission reduction is how people on that side suddenly seem to change their views about the effectiveness of markets. Normally they extol the magic of the marketplace, which can brush aside all limits; but somehow they simultaneously believe that markets would be totally unable to cope with a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade system. Scarce resources are no problem; limited rights to pollute are catastrophic. It’s not hard to see the ulterior motives here, but it’s still peculiar.

It looks like Krugman puts his faith in integration of the mitigation in the market-system. Any way looked upon, mitigation is still a form of regulation. The scarcity of resources or the difficulty in exploiting them is ‘a natural thing’. The driver of the market-economy is profit; any regulation is ‘incompatible’ with the system. The relatively small success on regulating the emission of CFC’s was possible because there were alternatives (that didn't spoil profit).

In fact, you should be optimistic about the ability of a market economy to reduce emissions given the incentives. And now we know something new: the technological prospects for a low-emission economy have gotten dramatically better.

Given the incentives? Subsidizing renewables?Will that work because ‘technological prospects got dramatically better’? Does he really think there’s a chance ‘we don’t have to do anything’ ?

It’s kind of odd how little attention the media give to the solar revolution, but this is really huge stuff:
(see in his article for the graph)

Nice graph, but does it incorporate the energy needed to exploit the raw materials needed for these modules? The energy needed to support the maintenance of this exploitation infrastructure?

In fact, it’s possible that solar will displace coal even without special incentives. But we can’t count on that. What we do know is that it’s no longer remotely true that we need to keep burning coal to satisfy electricity demand. The way is open to a drastic reduction in emissions, at not very high cost.

Tell me why the Chinese government is investing massively in ‘liquidifying coal technology’? They are that good in solar modules. Why would they not do it?

And that should make us optimistic about the future, right? I mean, all that stands in our way is prejudice, ignorance, and vested interests. Oh, wait.

Wait. That’s exactly the situation. Waiting until it is too late to do anything at all. I hate to sound pessimist. I like krugman when he takes on austerity prophets from a Keynesian viewpoint. But I doubt whether he is realistic on climate change physics.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: werther on April 18, 2014, 07:51:01 PM
Partly, the questions raised in the Krugman critique are answered on another thread:

(quote author=wili link=topic=66.msg24452#msg24452 date=1397829991)
Terry wrote: "I wonder if global GDP or GNP figures are available & how they would plot on your chart."
This guy has plotted global GDP with the Keeling curve itself and finds a close match.

http://collapseofindustrialcivilization.com/2014/03/27/the-biophysics-of-civilization-money-energy-and-the-inevitability-of-collapse/ (http://collapseofindustrialcivilization.com/2014/03/27/the-biophysics-of-civilization-money-energy-and-the-inevitability-of-collapse/)


A quote from the content: “You cannot reduce emission rates without reducing the “wealth” of civilization. Wealth is energy consumption; energy consumption is carbon dioxide emissions. The two are inseparable.”

That looks like a straight riposte to the Krugman (and mainstream economy) axioma’s.


Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on April 18, 2014, 10:17:01 PM
Partly, the questions raised in the Krugman critique are answered on another thread:

(quote author=wili link=topic=66.msg24452#msg24452 date=1397829991)
Terry wrote: "I wonder if global GDP or GNP figures are available & how they would plot on your chart."
This guy has plotted global GDP with the Keeling curve itself and finds a close match.

http://collapseofindustrialcivilization.com/2014/03/27/the-biophysics-of-civilization-money-energy-and-the-inevitability-of-collapse/ (http://collapseofindustrialcivilization.com/2014/03/27/the-biophysics-of-civilization-money-energy-and-the-inevitability-of-collapse/)


A quote from the content: “You cannot reduce emission rates without reducing the “wealth” of civilization. Wealth is energy consumption; energy consumption is carbon dioxide emissions. The two are inseparable.”

That looks like a straight riposte to the Krugman (and mainstream economy) axioma’s.

But that is historical, right?  We now have the ability to generate new energy (wind and solar) without CO2 emissions -- at least, no emissions once they are up and running, compared to the 24/7 emissions of fossil fuel plants.  So after a couple decades of clean energy installations, we'll have more energy with less emissions.  Also, less energy consumption due to efficiency does not equal less wealth.  So, not exactly "inseparable."
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: werther on April 18, 2014, 10:53:16 PM
Hi Sig,
I hate to spoil anyone's positive energy. So I will retreat from the trenches on the general idea of GDP = CO2. But let me try to paint an example.

The only way to keep the sea out of the Netherlands in the near future is by adding billions of tons of sand against the (semi-)natural dunes.

(https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1036.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fa446%2Fhanver1%2FHopperzuiger_zps8a95ad6f.jpg&hash=6f2d78a84dcf16b482b443e90dfad889)

Massive hopper dredgers (pic) do the job. They consume large amounts of diesel. The machines have to be built and maintained. From the myriad of raw materials needed to do that, one is iron ore. It is a 'common interest' plan to get that ore from new mines FI on Baffin Island.

To accomodate that exploration, the Canadian Gov is planning large infrastucture works. The ore will be shipped in massive barges. Guess where they can dock? In Europe only Rotterdam can facilitate that sort of vessels. To accomplish that, the hopper dredges (again) are deployed on a daily 24 hour basis.
If not, the river Rhine sediment will fill the ports' basins and the route, cut in the seabed, in a short while.

I guess I've made my point; it is a circular ideocracy, part of what we call 'economy'. I doubt very much that its energy circulation could be sustained on solar and wind power. Heck, even their 'raw materials' probably cannot be sustainably 'grazed' by their surplus energy budget.

At least, I fail to imagine how it could be calculated anyway....
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on April 18, 2014, 11:45:14 PM
Werther,
Thanks for the illustration.  I guess I'm struggling with the premise that "things have to continue on pretty much as they do today."  We've gotten ourselves into this mess by exploiting fossil fuel energy without paying for the damage it causes.  What if that were no longer the case?  What if the more energy you used, the less wealth you have?  What if the dredging and the ore were made so horribly expensive, pretty much any other alternative would be preferable?   I suppose I simply push back against anyone saying, "This is the way it is, and there's no way out."  There are always alternatives.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on April 19, 2014, 01:48:06 PM
OK, prepare for another patented Sigmetnow head-'splody idea:   :D

Whereas:  Top levels of the military have, already, declared climate change as a national (global) security issue. (1)
And remembering that:  In WW2, industry was switched to making war supplies, practically overnight.

Therefore:  recognizing the threat (and acknowledging how fossil fuel companies have benefitted obscenely from subsidies, and no price on carbon pollution), governments act and require fossil fuel companies to pay for the building of a certain amount of renewable/grid infrastructure for every X amount of fossil fuels they extract or refine.  As the need for fossil fuel declines, the rate of fossil fuel extraction declines.  As we learn to live on renewables (and, more efficiency/less energy/less wastage) fossil fuels become an expensive luxury -- available if absolutely required, but not easy to get.

Because:
Navy Rear Adm. David Titley (US, retired):  "People working on climate change should prepare for catastrophic success. I mean, look at how quickly the gay rights conversation changed in this country."(2)

(1)
US:  http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=121237 (http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=121237)
UK:  http://www.rtcc.org/2014/02/20/climate-change-is-a-national-security-issue-say-military-experts/ (http://www.rtcc.org/2014/02/20/climate-change-is-a-national-security-issue-say-military-experts/)

(2)
http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/future_tense/2014/04/david_titley_climate_change_war_an_interview_with_the_retired_rear_admiral.html (http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/future_tense/2014/04/david_titley_climate_change_war_an_interview_with_the_retired_rear_admiral.html)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Shared Humanity on April 19, 2014, 05:46:12 PM
OK, prepare for another patented Sigmetnow head-'splody idea:   :D

Navy Rear Adm. David Titley (US, retired):  "People working on climate change should prepare for catastrophic success. I mean, look at how quickly the gay rights conversation changed in this country."

I thoroughly enjoy your usually optimistic view of what is possible. It will often pull me out of the quagmire of dread I find myself trudging through.  :)

I absolutely agree with the Admiral's point. Opinions about an idea can shift rapidly and  I actually believe there is just such a shift occurring. The majority of Americans  are certainly waking up to the fact of AGW.

This does not mean rapid change will occur in our economy, however. No one stood to make  trillions exploiting and repressing gay rights. Once opinions shift, policy can quickly follow. This is not true for the economy. Every single human being whose livelihood depends on fossil fuel consumption will fight to the death to preserve the status quo.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: ccgwebmaster on April 19, 2014, 06:37:29 PM
This does not mean rapid change will occur in our economy, however. No one stood to make  trillions exploiting and repressing gay rights. Once opinions shift, policy can quickly follow. This is not true for the economy. Every single human being whose livelihood depends on fossil fuel consumption will fight to the death to preserve the status quo.

There are all sorts of barriers to action.

Right now we're still fighting the "is it happening" battle, closely followed by the "how bad it is and how much time do we have" one (as if we ought to dally another decade or two if we think we can - but I guess our parents generation did it in the 70s).

Trouble is - getting the idea out there to get enough people to agree that it is happening and that it needs to be addressed quickly is still only a first and early step.

Then you need to get into the details of solutions, and here lies another major argument - people who think the all powerful market will correct it all, people who think little incremental changes will be enough, those who are unprepared to let go of their energy hungry lifestyles, those who demand other people sacrifices first (think US vs China and the propaganda around China overtaking the US for absolute emissions).

Worse - such discussions and processes must happen in the vast majority of the earths population, split as it is into different nations, religions, histories, starting positions, etc.

Considering it has taken as long as it has to start to become optimistic that the first step can be surmounted soon (probably with an empirical demonstration of collapse imminence), do we seriously think there will be much progress in all the other steps needed?

It is not just opposition to changing the status quo that is the issue - but also the confusion and lack of consensus on next steps. We see this in the vague pledges of various governments making promises on behalf of future people - "we'll cut 20% in 20 years" - nice soundbite, but you should cut the first % in the first damn year if so... (and it would still fall far short of requirements).
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on April 21, 2014, 01:52:44 AM
"Ukraine is seeking U.S. investment in its biomass, wind and solar power industries. The idea is to use renewable energy to curb its reliance on fuel imports from Russia..."

"According to the research center, biomass and biogas are the most promising forms of renewable energy for Ukraine, in part because the nation’s network of electric-power lines and substations can’t easily adjust to the addition of significant amounts of wind and solar energy.

"Biomass may help replace natural gas used in the nation’s 24,000 boiler plants, officials from the Energy Industry Research Center said." ...

"Glamazdin of the Energy Industry Research Center said Ukraine’s heating supply accounts for about 40 percent of all gas imported from Russia, which could be replaced with renewable energy within three to five years.

"By 2030, renewables could account for about 15 percent of Ukraine’s electricity supply, up from about 2 percent now, with adequate investment, he said."

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-04-17/ukraine-seeks-to-boost-biomass-to-lessen-dependence-on-russia.html (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-04-17/ukraine-seeks-to-boost-biomass-to-lessen-dependence-on-russia.html)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on April 24, 2014, 01:47:32 AM
Reclaimed landfills and polluted "Superfund" sites are fitted for solar and wind power generation in the US.

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/04/22/3428958/solar-superfund/ (http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/04/22/3428958/solar-superfund/)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on April 27, 2014, 01:43:05 PM
General Electric to invest $1 billion a year in renewable technology. 
According to the UN, another 1,000 companies like this and we've got it made!   :D

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/04/26/3430973/ge-to-invest-1-billion-a-year-in-renewable-projects/ (http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/04/26/3430973/ge-to-invest-1-billion-a-year-in-renewable-projects/)

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/video/2014/jan/14/christiana-figueres-investment-clean-energy-1-trillion (http://www.theguardian.com/environment/video/2014/jan/14/christiana-figueres-investment-clean-energy-1-trillion)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: icefest on April 27, 2014, 02:49:33 PM
According to the UN, another 1,000 companies like this and we've got it made!   :D

Just a pity there's only 24 companies that size or larger: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_largest_companies_by_revenue
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on April 28, 2014, 12:31:01 AM
According to the UN, another 1,000 companies like this and we've got it made!   :D

Just a pity there's only 24 companies that size or larger: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_largest_companies_by_revenue

So... 2,000 companies investing 500 million dollars.... ;)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on April 28, 2014, 02:40:09 PM
According to the UN, another 1,000 companies like this and we've got it made!   :D

Just a pity there's only 24 companies that size or larger: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_largest_companies_by_revenue

So... 2,000 companies investing 500 million dollars.... ;)
Sigmetnow - big utility investions in renewables are insignificant and will stay insignificant. Big utilites only playing fields are hydropower and wind off-shore - everything else has same efficiency in small or large scales, so the profit can also be made by farmers and private poeple. There is no need to give the profits to a few companies anymore. If you do not have your own roof (like the majority of poeple here) you may join one of the >900 lokal cooperatives to invest in renewables and to participate from the profits.

So what we need instead are 100 million poeple investing 10,000 dollars. 1-2 million poeple allready did that in Germany, two more doublings and we will be at >80% renewables here - with further linear increase of capacity that will be around 2040. The time for exponential growth is over here for renewables, too and it is now the time for linear growth of capacity and thus de-growth in investments.

So please do not rely on big utilities, since it would not fit to their business models anyway. Their time for big profits is over since everybody can participate now with similar efficiency. GE, E.ON and the like may build the off-shore wind parks, water pump storage facilities and of course the long range power lines - since transmission is allways more efficient than storage.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on April 28, 2014, 03:29:23 PM
Surprisingly they have found a natural material suitable for wind-resistant large constructions like wind mills ;)

Since wind energy plants with > 100 m hub height can not be made of steel and concrete (to heavy, not strong enough) they use now: wood http://www.timbertower.de/news-en/ (http://www.timbertower.de/news-en/)

That may also count for another step towards a bit more sustainable renewable energies and reduces costs and increases efficiency, too.

Please find attached a picture of a 100 m high wooden tower with the wind turbine
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on April 28, 2014, 04:58:02 PM

Sigmetnow - big utility investions in renewables are insignificant and will stay insignificant. Big utilites only playing fields are hydropower and wind off-shore - everything else has same efficiency in small or large scales, so the profit can also be made by farmers and private poeple. There is no need to give the profits to a few companies anymore. If you do not have your own roof (like the majority of poeple here) you may join one of the >900 lokal cooperatives to invest in renewables and to participate from the profits.

So what we need instead are 100 million poeple investing 10,000 dollars. 1-2 million poeple allready did that in Germany, two more doublings and we will be at >80% renewables here - with further linear increase of capacity that will be around 2040. The time for exponential growth is over here for renewables, too and it is now the time for linear growth of capacity and thus de-growth in investments.

So please do not rely on big utilities, since it would not fit to their business models anyway. Their time for big profits is over since everybody can participate now with similar efficiency. GE, E.ON and the like may build the off-shore wind parks, water pump storage facilities and of course the long range power lines - since transmission is allways more efficient than storage.
SATire, GE is much more than a "big utility."  It has a huge financial arm. I doubt they are investing in renewables purely for altruistic reasons.
http://www.reuters.com/finance/stocks/companyProfile?symbol=GE.N (http://www.reuters.com/finance/stocks/companyProfile?symbol=GE.N)

And it's clear to pretty much everyone that energy companies must divest from fossil fuels and move strongly into renewables to survive.
http://unfccc.int/files/press/press_releases_advisories/application/pdf/pr20140304_ipieca.pdf (http://unfccc.int/files/press/press_releases_advisories/application/pdf/pr20140304_ipieca.pdf)
http://mobile.businessweek.com/news/2014-04-03/un-tells-fuel-producers-to-abandon-reserves-amid-record-output (http://mobile.businessweek.com/news/2014-04-03/un-tells-fuel-producers-to-abandon-reserves-amid-record-output)

So the big companies have a huge part to play -- and not just utilities, but any large company.  Like Walmart:
http://corporate.walmart.com/global-responsibility/environment-sustainability/renewable-energy (http://corporate.walmart.com/global-responsibility/environment-sustainability/renewable-energy)

You wrote:
"So what we need instead are 100 million poeple investing 10,000 dollars.”

That would be great!  As prices for solar and wind continue to drop, of course individual consumers and builders will increase their participation.  No argument there.  But the big companies (and governments) with the big bucks are what is needed to lead the way and ramp us up to the $1T/yr investments as quickly as possible.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on April 28, 2014, 06:22:01 PM
Sigmetnow, you are right GE is more like our Siemens (a bank producing also some electric stuff ;-)) and not like an E.ON (big utility) - so it just invested its money in such projects as everybody may do, too. Nevertheless, poeple can easily outperform such big players. At least they did it allready - 40% of renewable investments here are by private poeple, 20% by farmers and the rest by a lot of companies, cooperations, banks and such. So - no reason to wait for 1999 big companies acting like GE since the poeple can do it (and a lot did it in countries where that was made possible by making other poeple pay for that profit - but better make them pay for other poeple then for the big companies). 
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: JackTaylor on April 29, 2014, 12:06:54 PM
~~ poeple can easily outperform such big players. At least they did it allready - 40% of renewable investments here are by private poeple, 20% by farmers and the rest by a lot of companies, cooperations, banks and such. So - no reason to wait for 1999 big companies acting like GE since the poeple can do it (and a lot did it in countries where that was made possible by making other poeple pay for that profit - but better make them pay for other poeple then for the big companies).
SATire,
It's will be some time for the people in the USA to achieve what you're experiencing across the pond.

We (the people) Are Actually Restricted - Prevented by State Regulations
Not all states are as restrictive as mine, but, about a mile out my backdoor
South Carolina prevents Furman University from using more Solar Power (http://www.examiner.com/article/sc-prevents-furman-from-using-more-solar-power)
mostly under the name of all users of public utility paying an equitable amount for "grid maintenance."
Also, a "google" if more interest
https://www.google.com/#q=furman+university+solar+panels+power (https://www.google.com/#q=furman+university+solar+panels+power)
And, highly recommend more about obstacles
Introducing Freeing the GRID 2012 (http://freeingthegrid.org/#dev/2012/09/11/introducing-freeing-the-grid-2012/) from http://freeingthegrid.org/ (http://freeingthegrid.org/)

EDIT:  BTW;
Forgot to include big electric utilities (power companies) are usually not restricted in capacity when building solar - wind farms which are part of their generation to supply the grid.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on April 29, 2014, 02:39:32 PM
ALEC is a fossil-fuel-funded organization acting all over the US to block and roll back clean energy initiatives, with some success.

"The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an organization known for helping to advance corporate interests by writing and then pushing to pass conservative legislation at the state level, has created a new initiative with the goal to expand its influence in cities, towns, villages, and other local municipalities throughout the country. ALEC has actively pursued an anti-clean energy and anti-climate agenda in states across the country and its vast network of donors include the notorious petrochemical billionaires Charles and David Koch."

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/03/10/3383411/alec-infiltrate-cities-towns/ (http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/03/10/3383411/alec-infiltrate-cities-towns/)


http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/04/24/3430258/us-solar-capacity-418-percent/ (http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/04/24/3430258/us-solar-capacity-418-percent/)

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/01/02/3110731/california-rooftop-solar-2013/ (http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/01/02/3110731/california-rooftop-solar-2013/)

http://www.midwestenergynews.com/2014/04/07/in-defeat-for-alec-kansas-lawmakers-pass-net-metering-plan/ (http://www.midwestenergynews.com/2014/04/07/in-defeat-for-alec-kansas-lawmakers-pass-net-metering-plan/)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on April 29, 2014, 04:52:09 PM
"Too big to fail" just failed.  The once-largest energy holding company files for bankruptcy.  Even the natural gas price spikes last winter couldn't save it. 

http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2014/04/29/big-texas-utility-files-for-bankruptcy/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0 (http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2014/04/29/big-texas-utility-files-for-bankruptcy/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: JimD on April 29, 2014, 06:02:14 PM
"Too big to fail" just failed.  The once-largest energy holding company files for bankruptcy.  Even the natural gas price spikes last winter couldn't save it. 

http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2014/04/29/big-texas-utility-files-for-bankruptcy/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0 (http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2014/04/29/big-texas-utility-files-for-bankruptcy/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0)

Sigmetnow

Your post sort of implies that the reason for the failure of this company is the growth of renewables and low natural gas prices.  If that was your intent I want to disagree.

Reading your link about how this company was taken over by a leveraged buyout at the height of the economic bubble and then was run over by the 2008 economic crash would lead to a different conclusion.  The prime reason for this companies demise was that its takeover was highly leveraged and this large bet was dependent on a continuation of the economic boom which would result in high natural gas prices.

Quote
Indeed, while it faced a total debt load of about $38 billion, much of which was taken on to complete the buyout in 2007, its underlying business – the generation and sale of electricity – deteriorated sharply. In the deregulated Texas market, electricity prices are strongly related to those of natural gas. That fact, essentially, made the buyout of Energy Future Holdings a towering bet on the price of natural gas.

With the crash and very deep recession this turned out to be a bad bet.  While the growth of renewables certainly had some effect on this deal the real killer was economic stagnation at the same time a glut of natural gas hit the market thus resulting in natural gas prices plummeting. The new owners obviously worked hard to extend out as long as they could while waiting for an economic rebound but the writing was on the wall and it was unlikely they  could make it once the crash occurred. 

Quote
And even while natural gas prices spiked sharply higher last winter as bands of arctic air froze broad swaths of the country, it was simply too little, too late for Energy Future Holdings, analysts say.

“You’d need to see higher natural gas prices for a sustained period of time to get the company out of trouble, and they just ran out of time,” James Hempstead, an analyst with Moody’s Investors Service, said in an interview in early March. “There was simply too much debt on this organization.”


The real bottom line is that this bankruptcy will not result in any benefit to the electricity consumer in Texas.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Laurent on April 30, 2014, 02:10:25 PM
UK solar farm subsidies to be cut

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/apr/30/uk-solar-farm-subsidies-cut-panels-buildings (http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/apr/30/uk-solar-farm-subsidies-cut-panels-buildings)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on April 30, 2014, 02:37:48 PM
Your post sort of implies that the reason for the failure of this company is the growth of renewables and low natural gas prices.  If that was your intent I want to disagree.

The point is not that renewables crushed the company, but rather that high-flying fossil fuel companies are no longer the unquestionable success they once were.  Even big ones can fall....
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on April 30, 2014, 02:39:03 PM
"For 100 years, [US] state and local infrastructure finance agencies have issued trillions of dollars’ worth of public finance bonds to fund the construction of the nation’s roads, bridges, hospitals, and other infrastructure—and literally built America. Now, as clean energy subsidies from Washington dwindle, these agencies are increasingly willing to finance clean energy projects, if only the clean energy community will embrace them."

http://www.brookings.edu/research/reports/2014/04/16-clean-energy-through-bond-market (http://www.brookings.edu/research/reports/2014/04/16-clean-energy-through-bond-market)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on April 30, 2014, 03:09:12 PM
Quote
World's Biggest Fund Manager to Help Create Index That Bars Fossil Fuel Companies
Apr 30, 2014
(Financial Times, sub. req.'d)
BlackRock, the world's biggest fund manager, has teamed up with London's FTSE Group to help investors avoid coal, oil and gas companies without putting their money at risk.

In a sign that a global campaign against fossil fuels is entering the financial mainstream, companies that extract or explore for such fuels are excluded from a new set of indices created by FTSE, a large provider of stock market indexes

Several market benchmarks have already been developed to cover companies likely to profit from tougher environmental regulations, such as renewable energy or water management groups.

But the FTSE ones are believed to be the first from a leading index group that specifically bar fossil fuel companies.

http://insideclimatenews.org/breaking-news/20140430/worlds-biggest-fund-manager-help-create-index-bars-fossil-fuel-companies (http://insideclimatenews.org/breaking-news/20140430/worlds-biggest-fund-manager-help-create-index-bars-fossil-fuel-companies)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on April 30, 2014, 03:37:44 PM
Quote
But the FTSE ones are believed to be the first from a leading index group that specifically bar fossil fuel companies.
That is really funny since FTSE is the market with the largest fossil share (>30%, as posted a few pages above). When fossils start tipping / poeple with some money start taking AGW seriously we will recognize that first by a sudden drop in London...
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: JimD on May 01, 2014, 05:32:02 AM
More on the power companies fighting back

Arizona May Impose Unusual New Tax On Customers Who Lease Solar Panels

Quote
A new interpretation of state law in Arizona could force customers to pay property taxes on leased solar panels. In a state with an estimated 20,000 solar customers and 85 percent of new solar installations being leased systems, the implications of an extra charge are tremendous. The new tax could result in an additional $152 per year for a residential solar array and even more for larger installations, the Arizona Republic reported. What’s more, the tax would apply to both new and existing customers...

If the Arizona Department of Revenue’s interpretation stands and solar customers are faced with an additional charge, “it would help the utilities like APS to meet their longstanding goal of severely injuring the solar industry,” Craven said....

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/04/30/3432172/arizona-solar-property-tax/ (http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/04/30/3432172/arizona-solar-property-tax/)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on May 01, 2014, 04:41:03 PM
"With the opening of a new wind farm next month, El Hierro, population just over 10,000, will become the first island in the world to be fully energy self-sufficient through combined wind and water power. The five wind turbines will provide 11.5 megawatts of power, enough to meet the demand of the population and the desalination plants on this small crop of land off the coast of Africa in the Atlantic Ocean."

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/05/01/3433002/spanish-island-renewable-energy/ (http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/05/01/3433002/spanish-island-renewable-energy/)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on May 01, 2014, 05:06:38 PM
Quote
As part of their commitment to cover 42 percent of their energy needs with renewable sources by 2020, Morocco is about to launch construction on the largest wind farm in Africa.

Tarafya, a city situated in southwestern Morocco, is home to this wind farm which stretches over 100 square kilometers. As of October 2014, the facility will generate up to 300 megawatts of electricity, which is enough power to fulfill the electricity needs of thousands of Moroccans. GDF Suez, a French energy company supporting this project, says this wind farm will help reduce CO2 emissions by 900,000 tonnes.
...
This 690 million dollar wind farm will also be instrumental in creating jobs, requiring 50 employees and the assistance of 700 construction site staffers until the project is complete. The announcement of this project also comes to light just a couple of months after the Moroccan government pledged to invest $11 billion dollars into clean energy.
http://tcktcktck.org/2014/04/morocco-launches-largest-wind-farm-africa/61839 (http://tcktcktck.org/2014/04/morocco-launches-largest-wind-farm-africa/61839)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on May 06, 2014, 07:30:58 PM
Utilities see big changes in the near future:

Quote
In a 2013 survey of global utility companies by PricewaterhouseCoopers, the results revealed that the utility industry leaders anticipate major changes to their business model in the near future. Ninety-four percent of international industry representatives surveyed predict that the power utility business model will be either completely transformed or significantly changed between today and 2030, while only 6 percent expect that the utility business model will stay "more or less the same."

In North America, 40 percent of respondents believed that utility companies' means of making a profit will see major changes over the next two decades.  A strong majority — 82 percent — of North American respondents also said future energy needs will be met by a mix of traditional centralized generation and distributed generation, which feeds power from a mix of sources.
Quote
But while renewable on-site energy generation offers a major challenge to the electric utility business model, the lower capital cost energy efficiency approaches, will be the hardest hurdle. Not only because the initial capital costs are lower, the payback is faster, and the energy savings are huge. In fact just four effiency options can cut building electricity use by 50 percent, and there are many more options than what I cover here.
He discusses Smart Thermostats and Controls, Lighting, "Vampire loads," Solar Water Heating (And Others).

And then this:
Quote
Commercial Energy Storage Set to Rise to 2.3 GW in 2017

According to a new report from IHS Inc., global installations of photovoltaic storage systems for commercial use, currently the smallest part of the global solar energy storage business, are projected to expand by a factor of 700 in the coming years and become the largest market segment in 2017, from only 3.2 MW in 2012. And thus will increase the commercial segment’s share of PV installations to 40 percent in 2017, up from 5 per cent in 2012.

North America is expected to lead the world in commercial PV storage, accounting for more than 40 percent of installations in 2017. So if electric utilities attempt to stifle net metering, energy users will just dedicate renewable-powered battery banks to dedicated loads, pulling them off the electric grid forever since and storage prices are beginning to fall low enough and systems are becoming more standardized and reliable. And since these storage systems do not need utility back-up, and thus no electric grid interface, utilities will be unable to throw up regulatory roadblocks.

The electric utility industries are not monolithic, and in fact the municipal utilities have been ardent supporters and leaders in energy efficiency, distributed generation, storage, and smart controls. In States with pro-active state utility commissions, traditional independently-owned utilities (IOUs) have also jumped on board.
http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2014/04/utility-nightmares-halving-electricity-consumption-and-distributed-generation (http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2014/04/utility-nightmares-halving-electricity-consumption-and-distributed-generation)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on May 10, 2014, 01:51:19 PM
The solar panels on top of the White House are mostly symbolic, but I've been waiting for them to return for a long time.
Quote
Barack Obama will on Friday unveil several new initiatives intended to expand the deployment of solar power on Friday, as officials confirmed that a set of solar panels on the roof of the White House was now operational.

Obama will – once again – bypass a deadlocked Congress and use his executive authority to announce $2bn funding for energy-saving measures at federal government buildings, as well as new financing and training programmes for solar installations.
http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/may/09/obama-solar-power-initiatives-california (http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/may/09/obama-solar-power-initiatives-california)

Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: domen_ on May 10, 2014, 08:30:25 PM
Surprisingly they have found a natural material suitable for wind-resistant large constructions like wind mills ;)

Since wind energy plants with > 100 m hub height can not be made of steel and concrete (to heavy, not strong enough) they use now: wood http://www.timbertower.de/news-en/ (http://www.timbertower.de/news-en/)

That may also count for another step towards a bit more sustainable renewable energies and reduces costs and increases efficiency, too.

Please find attached a picture of a 100 m high wooden tower with the wind turbine
Any commercial built yet?
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on May 11, 2014, 04:07:16 PM
New York state plans a radical shift in power.
Quote
Gov. Cuomo envisions moving from big, centralized power stations controlled by utilities to de-centralized power options that families, businesses and towns can control. This would change the landscape in New York — and serve as a model for the nation.
http://www.timesunion.com/opinion/article/Cuomo-s-energy-plan-is-worthy-of-praise-5466412.php?cmpid=twitter (http://www.timesunion.com/opinion/article/Cuomo-s-energy-plan-is-worthy-of-praise-5466412.php?cmpid=twitter)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on May 12, 2014, 08:29:57 PM
In India, solar is replacing diesel generators, widely used off-grid:

Quote
Jakson Group, one of India’s biggest suppliers of diesel generators, expects about half of its sales to come from the solar business within three years as rising fuel costs make sun-based power more attractive.
...
“It’s no longer sustainable to use diesel generation as a continuous source of power” as the government unwinds subsidies for the fuel and its import-cost surges, Gupta said. “There’s no constraint on solar radiation in India. Sooner or later people will realize that.”

Factories, homes and businesses in India fire up diesel engines daily to combat chronic blackouts that can last eight hours in some areas. Those machines amount to an estimated 60 gigawatts of capacity, according to New Delhi-based consultant Bridge to India Energy Pvt. That’s roughly equal to Australia’s total power generation capacity and a quarter of India’s official capacity.
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-05-12/jakson-expects-solar-to-match-diesel-sales-by-2017.html (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-05-12/jakson-expects-solar-to-match-diesel-sales-by-2017.html)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on May 12, 2014, 08:39:24 PM
The price of moving slowly:  IEA says the cost to decarbonize the energy sector ($36t two years ago) has increased to $44t.
Quote
The cost of cutting carbon emissions from power generation enough to restrict global warming to safe levels is rising because growing coal use outweighs the progress in renewables, the International Energy Agency said.

Investments of $44 trillion through 2050 are needed to decarbonize the energy sector, the Paris-based agency said today in an e-mailed report, up 22 percent from the figure it gave two years ago. The spending would ensure the average temperature rise since the industrial revolution is limited to the 2-degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) target world leaders have endorsed.

The cost of containing global warming is growing because of the “bleak” progress made in reducing emissions, the IEA said. The agency previously estimated the decarbonization cost was $36 trillion, and today it said “the longer we wait, the more expensive it becomes to transform our energy system.”

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-05-11/power-decarbonization-cost-rises-22-to-44-trillion-iea-says.html (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-05-11/power-decarbonization-cost-rises-22-to-44-trillion-iea-says.html)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on May 13, 2014, 01:40:21 PM
A new Greenpeace Report describes a path for the US to transition to 97% renewables by 2050.
Quote
Washington DC - The United States can quickly transition to nearly 100% renewable energy and phase out coal and nuclear power, according to a major new report from Greenpeace and the Global Wind Energy Council. Energy [R]evolution - A Sustainable USA Energy Outlook provides a blueprint for transforming our electricity, transportation, and heating systems to dramatically reduce carbon pollution, and demonstrates to policymakers and investors that rapid changes in the way we produce, distribute, and consume energy are possible and cost effective.
http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/en/media-center/news-releases/Energy-Revolution-report-details-how-US-can-transition-to-nearly-100-renewable-energy (http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/en/media-center/news-releases/Energy-Revolution-report-details-how-US-can-transition-to-nearly-100-renewable-energy)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on May 13, 2014, 02:17:00 PM
Surprisingly they have found a natural material suitable for wind-resistant large constructions like wind mills ;)

Since wind energy plants with > 100 m hub height can not be made of steel and concrete (to heavy, not strong enough) they use now: wood http://www.timbertower.de/news-en/ (http://www.timbertower.de/news-en/)

That may also count for another step towards a bit more sustainable renewable energies and reduces costs and increases efficiency, too.

Please find attached a picture of a 100 m high wooden tower with the wind turbine
Any commercial built yet?
Yes, it is a company and they builded a prototype in 2012 (to see some pictures click on "Gallery" in following link: http://www.timbertower.de/media/ (http://www.timbertower.de/media/) ). You may buy that tower anytime. However, to get a power station you have to add the turbine machine on top of the tower. For every type of turbine machine they have to get through the approval process for the combination tower & machine (by law). That is what they are doing right now - approving the tower for use with some machines.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Shared Humanity on May 13, 2014, 04:53:53 PM
In India, solar is replacing diesel generators, widely used off-grid:

Quote
Jakson Group, one of India’s biggest suppliers of diesel generators, expects about half of its sales to come from the solar business within three years as rising fuel costs make sun-based power more attractive.
...
“It’s no longer sustainable to use diesel generation as a continuous source of power” as the government unwinds subsidies for the fuel and its import-cost surges, Gupta said. “There’s no constraint on solar radiation in India. Sooner or later people will realize that.”

Factories, homes and businesses in India fire up diesel engines daily to combat chronic blackouts that can last eight hours in some areas. Those machines amount to an estimated 60 gigawatts of capacity, according to New Delhi-based consultant Bridge to India Energy Pvt. That’s roughly equal to Australia’s total power generation capacity and a quarter of India’s official capacity.
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-05-12/jakson-expects-solar-to-match-diesel-sales-by-2017.html (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-05-12/jakson-expects-solar-to-match-diesel-sales-by-2017.html)

Distributed energy generation, on grid and off grid, is the most powerful, energy efficient and resilient approach for any community.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: JimD on May 13, 2014, 06:47:29 PM
The price of moving slowly:  IEA says the cost to decarbonize the energy sector ($36t two years ago) has increased to $44t.
Quote
The cost of cutting carbon emissions from power generation enough to restrict global warming to safe levels is rising because growing coal use outweighs the progress in renewables, the International Energy Agency said.

Investments of $44 trillion through 2050 are needed to decarbonize the energy sector, the Paris-based agency said today in an e-mailed report, up 22 percent from the figure it gave two years ago. The spending would ensure the average temperature rise since the industrial revolution is limited to the 2-degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) target world leaders have endorsed.

The cost of containing global warming is growing because of the “bleak” progress made in reducing emissions, the IEA said. The agency previously estimated the decarbonization cost was $36 trillion, and today it said “the longer we wait, the more expensive it becomes to transform our energy system.”

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-05-11/power-decarbonization-cost-rises-22-to-44-trillion-iea-says.html (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-05-11/power-decarbonization-cost-rises-22-to-44-trillion-iea-says.html)

It is worth pointing out that the Stanford study I mentioned earlier comes up with numbers of around 100 trillion to convert all energy systems over to renewables.  And folks looking into those calculations say the analysis left out a lot of related work which would  be required to support that.  So I think their numbers might be less than 50% of the actual.

I find it completely unrealistic to think we will have that kind of wealth available as we move into the serious effects of AGW and system collapse. 
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on May 14, 2014, 02:11:47 AM
Quote
America's nearly 3,300 electric utilities increasingly are being portrayed as if they are on the proverbial Titanic, futilely rearranging the deck chairs of an ill-fated industry doomed to disappear beneath the powerful waves of 21st century innovation.

The nightmare scenario goes something like this:
As "disruptive challenges" (PDF) gain steam with insurgent energy efficiency, grid management and alternative supply solutions, kilowatt-hour sales will take a dangerous dive, profitability will plunge, and one after another, traditional electric companies will succumb to the frigid and fatal waters of the ominous, impending "utility death spiral."

Customers, meanwhile, awakened to the much-improved "economics of grid defection" through battery-backed solar electric systems, will jump ship in mutinous masses and sail away to the warm shores of blissful renewable energy autonomy.

But if the $370 billion-a-year U.S. electric utility sector truly is on the brink of disaster, then it is very strange indeed to see numerous utilities already deeply engaged with some of the very forces that someday could be their undoing. Here are six innovators defying doomsday prophets.
http://www.greenbiz.com/blog/2014/05/12/6-electric-utilities-charging-new-energy-course (http://www.greenbiz.com/blog/2014/05/12/6-electric-utilities-charging-new-energy-course)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on May 14, 2014, 02:28:50 AM
Quote
Colorado’s renewable energy standard, one of the most ambitious in the U.S., has the distinction of being approved not just by the state legislature but also by voters in a statewide referendum.
Now it’s been approved in the courts.
...
“It confirms that states do have the authority to mandate the use of renewables.”
http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/05/13/3437403/right-wing-attack-on-colorado-res-slapped-down-by-court/ (http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/05/13/3437403/right-wing-attack-on-colorado-res-slapped-down-by-court/)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on May 15, 2014, 01:10:52 AM
World’s Largest Solar Array: Agua Caliente in Arizona Set to Crank Out 290 Megawatts of Sunshine Power.  Megaplants herald a new efficiency in solar-sourced electricity.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/world-s-largest-solar-array-set-to-crank-out-290-megawatts-of-sunshine-power/?&WT.mc_id=SA_WR_20140514 (http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/world-s-largest-solar-array-set-to-crank-out-290-megawatts-of-sunshine-power/?&WT.mc_id=SA_WR_20140514)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: jbg on May 15, 2014, 04:42:26 PM
A new study on the EROEI of large scale solar installations indicates that they ONLY have an EROEI of ....2.45..yes 2.45...I am not joking.  This is devastating news for advocates of solar.   

Many people have gotten very upset with me when I point out the big problems with large scale solar installations and the cost of them.  I have said that there is no chance that we can convert to renewables and run civilization as it exists today.  If you look at the numbers they just do not work out.  And I said this based on information about the EROEI of solar being much higher than this real world performance indicates is the actual EROEI.  This should be the last nail in the coffin for the idea that we can live the way we do now using just renewables.  It is just not possible. 

Please read this full article as it will knock your socks off.
I will read article.

But I tend to agree. I don't see a solution to the problem of forcing utilities to by excess solar-generated power at the same time as they have to provide base-load power for non-sunny periods.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SteveMDFP on May 15, 2014, 05:29:45 PM
 
[/quote]

But I tend to agree. I don't see a solution to the problem of forcing utilities to by excess solar-generated power at the same time as they have to provide base-load power for non-sunny periods.
[/quote]

Not so sure.  If energy is priced according to load (the utility pays low rates when it's windy/sunny, higher rates when it's hot/cold/dark/still) then all kind of incentives arise for anyone with storage and panels hooked to the grid to adjust when power goes into the grid. 
Utilities can reasonably charge a flat fee for being connected at all, then charge consumers at a load-weighted price.  Ultimately, one could have a "utility" with no generation capacity of its own.

You could have some folks "pay" for all their electricity by savaging old automotive batteries from junkyards and stacking them in their basements.  Then buy low, sell high.

Obviously, there'd need to be regulation of items hooked  to the grid.  Fees for licenses could ultimately be the main income of utilities.  Distributed power could be made to work.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on May 18, 2014, 09:20:44 PM
New material looks to improve efficiency of solar cells.
Quote
The new cells are made from a relative of the perovskite mineral found in the Ural Mountains. Small but vital changes to the material allow it to absorb sunlight very efficiently. The material is also easy to fabricate using liquids that could be printed on substrates like ink in a printing press, or made from simple evaporation. These properties suggest an easy, affordable route to solar cells.

By playing with the elemental composition, it is also possible to tune the perovskite material to access different parts of the sun’s spectrum. That flexibility can be crucial, because it means that the material can be changed by deliberately introducing impurities, and in such a way that it can be used in multijunction solar cells that have ultra-high efficiencies. Multijunction solar cells are an NREL invention from 1991, but because of high material costs, standard multijunctions are used mostly in outer space applications such as satellites and the Mars rovers. Cheaper multijunction cells based on perovskites could radically change this.

In four years, perovskite’s conversion efficiency—the yield at which the photons that hit the material are turned into electrons that can be used to generate electricity—has grown from 3.8% in 2009 to just north of 16%, with unconfirmed reports of even higher efficiencies arriving regularly. That’s better than a four-fold increase. By contrast, efficiencies of single-crystal solar cells grew by less than 50% during their first five years of development, and most other types of solar cells showed similar modest improvements during their first few years.
http://www.redorbit.com/news/science/1113126686/researchers-unlocking-secrets-of-new-solar-material-042214/ (http://www.redorbit.com/news/science/1113126686/researchers-unlocking-secrets-of-new-solar-material-042214/)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Jim Hunt on May 18, 2014, 09:57:36 PM
I will read article.

Try reading the book (http://www.amazon.com/Spains-Photovoltaic-Revolution-Investment-SpringerBriefs/dp/144199436X/) instead. From page 119:

Quote
This book is written assuming fossil fuels, not sunlight, as the fuel we need to invest. We do know that if we take three heat units of coal we can generate one unit of high value electricity in a thermal plant. If we instead were to invest three heat units of coal into a PV system in Spain it would yield some 7.35 units of high value electricity.

The problem is that the first delivers the electricity immediately; the problem for the latter is that these units are delivered over 25 years and need an up front fossil fuel investment of about 2 thermal units in the first year for the solar PV system.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on May 20, 2014, 03:15:02 AM
@KrapelsMarco: 88%: Q1 2014 new power production in US coming from solar and wind. No longer "just" a niche power.

Here is the FERC report from which this data was taken:
http://www.ferc.gov/legal/staff-reports/2014/mar-infrastructure.pdf (http://www.ferc.gov/legal/staff-reports/2014/mar-infrastructure.pdf)

Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on May 20, 2014, 03:26:32 AM
"Maryland’s $200 Million Wind Energy Project Will Move Forward Thanks To Governor’s Veto"

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/05/19/3439187/omalley-vetoes-wind-delay-maryland/ (http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/05/19/3439187/omalley-vetoes-wind-delay-maryland/)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on May 20, 2014, 03:32:29 AM
Quote
There were more solar panels installed in the U.S. over the last 18 months than the last 30 years.
...
SolarCity can provide the upfront financing for the solar system so that the customer doesn’t have to put any money down to get the panels, and this is the key that has unlocked the solar panel business. Instead of paying tens of thousands of dollars for a solar panel system, the customer pays SolarCity for the cost of the solar energy on a monthly basis, which can be less expensive than what they’ve been paying the local utility. Depending on the deal, the contract can last a couple decades.
http://gigaom.com/2014/05/16/as-solar-panels-boom-it-was-the-simple-business-model-that-the-big-energy-players-missed/ (http://gigaom.com/2014/05/16/as-solar-panels-boom-it-was-the-simple-business-model-that-the-big-energy-players-missed/)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on May 23, 2014, 12:16:15 AM
Australia: Lismore protest blocked coal seam gas drilling; city council sets target of 100% renewable energy within 10 years.

http://reneweconomy.com.au/2014/lismore-city-council-aims-100-per-cent-renewables-2023 (http://reneweconomy.com.au/2014/lismore-city-council-aims-100-per-cent-renewables-2023)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Laurent on May 23, 2014, 10:04:27 AM
CCTW: Solar Roads, Suing for Climate Action, and More!
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mary-ellen-harte/cctw-solar-roads-suing-fo_b_5377188.html?utm_hp_ref=green&ir=Green (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mary-ellen-harte/cctw-solar-roads-suing-fo_b_5377188.html?utm_hp_ref=green&ir=Green)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: RaenorShine on May 23, 2014, 10:27:19 AM
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-27505207 (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-27505207)

Quote
One of the finest old mansions in Wales is making history with a new technology that sucks heat from sea water.

Plas Newydd, with spectacular views of Snowdon from Anglesey, will in future have its collection of past military uniforms warmed by a heat pump.

The National Trust in the UK (owner of a lot of land and stately homes for the nation) has a mixed relationship with renewables.  On the one hand they are doing there bit with small scale investments such as this and a small hydroelectric plant (http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/apr/23/snowdonia-national-trust-hydro-power-hafod-y-llan-grid (http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/apr/23/snowdonia-national-trust-hydro-power-hafod-y-llan-grid) to minimize their direct emissions.

On the other hand their blanket opposition to just about any wind farm visable from their land (which does not actually leave a lot of prime hilltops to build upon as they own a lot of moorland) shows that they do not grasp the change needed to power the full nation by renewables.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on May 28, 2014, 08:07:24 PM
This is a new one, for me.  Other than the first sentence, the article is amazingly positive without being dire or threatening, and there is no questioning the need for renewables.  But the tone of the article is: "yes, we could be 80/90/100% renewables in a couple decades.  The technology is there, and is proven, and cost-efficient.  No biggie.  But... should we really, you know, do it?"

Almost like it would be too easy!  Are we turning a corner?

http://www.theguardian.com/big-energy-debate/uk-renewables-2030-bold-future-energy (http://www.theguardian.com/big-energy-debate/uk-renewables-2030-bold-future-energy)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: sidd on June 03, 2014, 09:04:35 PM
Barclays warning for electric utility bonds citing renewable threat

http://blogs.barrons.com/incomeinvesting/2014/05/23/barclays-downgrades-electric-utility-bonds-sees-viable-solar-competition/ (http://blogs.barrons.com/incomeinvesting/2014/05/23/barclays-downgrades-electric-utility-bonds-sees-viable-solar-competition/)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Yuha on June 06, 2014, 03:58:15 AM
Renewables 2014 Global Status Report by REN21 (Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century) has been published:

http://ren21.net/REN21Activities/GlobalStatusReport.aspx (http://ren21.net/REN21Activities/GlobalStatusReport.aspx)

It's a massive package of (apparently) well researched, up to date statistics on renewable energy. Here's a couple of quotes from the executive summary that drew my attention.

Quote
Some highlights of 2013 include:
◾◾ In the European Union, renewables represented the majority
of new electric generating capacity for the sixth consecutive
year. The 72% share in 2013 is in stark contrast to a decade
earlier, when conventional fossil generation accounted
for 80% of new capacity in the EU-27 plus Norway and
Switzerland.
◾◾ Even as global investment in solar PV declined nearly 22%
relative to 2012, new capacity installations increased by about
32%.
◾◾ China’s new renewable power capacity surpassed new fossil
fuel and nuclear capacity for the first time.
◾◾ Variable renewables achieved high levels of penetration in
several countries. For example, throughout 2013, wind power
met 33.2% of electricity demand in Denmark and 20.9% in
Spain; in Italy, solar PV met 7.8% of total annual electricity
demand.
◾◾ Wind power was excluded from one of Brazil’s national
auctions because it was pricing all other generation sources
out of the market.
◾◾ Denmark banned the use of fossil fuel-fired boilers in new
buildings as of 2013 and aims for renewables to provide
almost 40% of total heat supply by 2020.
◾◾ Growing numbers of cities, states, and regions seek to
transition to 100% renewable energy in either individual
sectors or economy-wide. For example, Djibouti, Scotland,
and the small-island state of Tuvalu aim to derive 100% of
their electricity from renewable sources by 2020. Among
those who have already achieved their goals are about 20
million Germans who live in so-called 100% renewable
energy regions.

Quote
Global new investment in renewable power and fuels—not
including hydropower projects >50 megawatts (MW)i—was an
estimated USD 214.4 billion in 2013, down 14% relative to 2012
and 23% lower than the record level in 2011. Including the
unreported investments in hydropower projects larger than
50 MW, total new investment in renewable power and fuels was
at least USD 249.4 billion in 2013.
The second consecutive year of decline in investment—after
several years of growth—was due in part to uncertainty over
incentive policies in Europe and the United States, and to
retroactive reductions in support in some countries. Europe’s
renewable energy investment was down 44% from 2012. The
year 2013 also saw an end to eight consecutive years of rising
renewable energy investment in developing countries.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on June 06, 2014, 09:33:21 PM
Quote
It is abundantly clear that the energy transition tipping point is here, and the coal market is in structural, terminal decline.

Wind is already competitive with coal, solar is expected to reach parity with it by 2016, and both will only get cheaper going forward.

For countries like Australia – which is currently one of the biggest exporters of coal to China – failing to decarbonise will leave them with billions in stranded assets and wasted capital if they cannot find another buyer for its coal.
http://tcktcktck.org/2014/06/report-billions-coal-investments-risk-chinas-appetite-coal-wanes/62376 (http://tcktcktck.org/2014/06/report-billions-coal-investments-risk-chinas-appetite-coal-wanes/62376)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on June 11, 2014, 02:51:12 AM
"A new way to make the most efficient and powerful types of solar cells could help solar power compete with fossil fuels."

http://www.technologyreview.com/news/527926/exotic-highly-efficient-solar-cells-may-soon-get-cheaper/ (http://www.technologyreview.com/news/527926/exotic-highly-efficient-solar-cells-may-soon-get-cheaper/)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: ghoti on June 11, 2014, 03:28:00 AM
Lots of incorrect info in the first 4 paragraphs of that article at which point I stopped reading. Regular cheap silicon PV cells now routinely meet the 18% level. PV cell cost really isn't the issue anymore. Supply chain, installation, and regulatory costs make up the majority of the price these days. Making some new cheaper (per watt per area) cells won't help much.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: domen_ on June 11, 2014, 12:43:07 PM
Actually making them more efficient would make whole installation cheaper, because there are just less inverters, cables, etc, to deal with.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on June 11, 2014, 02:02:28 PM
domen_, any efficiency increases are taken greatefully. But we will not wait for new technologies - there is no time left. Therefore, such new technologies will not play a role in the transition to renewables. They may play a role in future when old renewables are renewed again. So if they learn to make more efficient PV-modules from old PV-modules it makes sense. If they use other materials (like in that article above) than it will not renew old installations and it is probably nonsense. Sorry - it is to late for such games.

In 2050 we will have 100% renewables and now we have about 25% - so assuming further linear replacement in about 10 years 50% of all renewables will be installed allready. That will be existing technology and the main scaling is completed after that. You see, it is allready to late for any technology needing >10 years for penetration of 50% of the market. So we have to concentrate on things working today. At this place that are wind on-shore and PV.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: domen_ on June 12, 2014, 01:04:45 AM
SATire, I agree. I was just trying to point out that more efficient panels (no matter which technology) leads to further cost reductions.

But I agree that we should go all-in with solar and wind, because they are here, they work and they are cost efficient.

What do you think about offshore wind? In Europe offshore wind currently makes about 0.7% of electricity (compared to 7.1% for onshore wind and 3% for solar).

There are many projects in the pipeline in North sea:
(https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fshrani.si%2Ff%2F1M%2F7q%2FCk6fxUN%2Foffshore.jpg&hash=15d652cf52b697658238a162d1bdf2d3)
http://www.4coffshore.com/index.html (http://www.4coffshore.com/index.html)

When all these projects are built then offshore wind will provide about 10-15% of electricity in EU.

That is a bit more than hydro power (which contributes about 10% in EU), so it's quite a substantial contribution. And this is not the full potential.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on June 12, 2014, 09:49:35 AM
What do you think about offshore wind? In Europe offshore wind currently makes about 0.7% of electricity (compared to 7.1% for onshore wind and 3% for solar).

[...]

When all these projects are built then offshore wind will provide about 10-15% of electricity in EU.

That is a bit more than hydro power (which contributes about 10% in EU), so it's quite a substantial contribution. And this is not the full potential.
domen_, usually all my comments refer to Germany because I know that best. In Germany off-shore wind is not competetive (see also http://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/index.php/topic,256.msg18178.html#msg18178 (http://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/index.php/topic,256.msg18178.html#msg18178) ). The reasons against off-shore wind in Germany are the rough weather & waves in the shallow north sea and the fact, that the sea floor here is covered with dangerous weapons from 2 major wars. Both facts make the installations expensive and companies are still in the learning courve.

For EU the picture is clearly different - but you should allways investigate the potentials of all renewables regionally. E.g. in Denmark off-shore wind is important and in UK it may be a good idea, too. 

But there is also politics in involved in Germany - with good cause: In this summer the concept for "Energiewende 2.0" will be presented and I would not be to surprised, if off-shore wind would play a significant role despite its low local competitiveness. The reason for that could be, that off-shore wind is the only energy source left to the 4 big utilities solely - so they do not have to compete with decentral poeples PV & wind. And the good reason for politics to give the 4 big utility companies some candy could be, that we need them for 20 years healthy enough to deconstruct all the nuclear power plants. Storage of nuclear waste is paid by tax payer, but for deconstruction of the plants the big utilities have reserves by law which would be lost, if they go bankrupt. So for German poeple it could pay off, if we spend some money for expensive off-shore wind to save some money for deconstruction of nuclear by the big utilites.

To conclude: The energy mix must be optimized locally and also the big picture must be taken into acount. We will see in a few month how things will go in Germany...
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on June 17, 2014, 01:43:36 AM
They don't give many specifics on exactly how much power these SolarWindow Coatings generate, other than "53% more than other similar publicized products," but it was certified by the US Dept. Of Energy:

New Energy Technologies’ See-Through SolarWindow Coatings Set New Record for Generating Electricity

"Using today’s certified power-production data, Company engineers estimate that a SolarWindow™ installation on a fifty (50) story commercial building located in Florida could generate enough electricity to power at least 100 homes while eliminating the equivalent carbon emissions produced by vehicles driving approximately 2,750,000 miles per year."

http://www.azom.com/news.aspx?newsID=41122 (http://www.azom.com/news.aspx?newsID=41122)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on June 17, 2014, 04:41:32 PM
Elon Musk's SolarCity just announced they will build a huge solar panel factory in upstate New York.  Despite current oversupply of low-efficiency, cheap panels, the objective is to address the "massive volume of affordable, high efficiency panels needed for unsubsidized solar power to outcompete fossil fuel grid power."

Quote
SolarCity has signed an agreement to acquire Silevo, a solar panel technology and manufacturing company whose modules have demonstrated a unique combination of high energy output and low cost. Our intent is to combine what we believe is fundamentally the best photovoltaic technology with massive economies of scale to achieve a breakthrough in the cost of solar power. Although no other acquisitions are currently being contemplated, SolarCity may acquire additional photovoltaics companies as needed to ensure clear technology leadership and we plan to grow internal engineering significantly.

We are in discussions with the state of New York to build the initial manufacturing plant, continuing a relationship developed by the Silevo team. At a targeted capacity greater than 1 GW within the next two years, it will be one of the single largest solar panel production plants in the world. This will be followed in subsequent years by one or more significantly larger plants at an order of magnitude greater annual production capacity.
...
SolarCity was founded to accelerate mass adoption of sustainable energy....
http://blog.solarcity.com/silevo/ (http://blog.solarcity.com/silevo/)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on June 18, 2014, 10:00:48 PM
Texas Utility Doubles Large-Scale Solar, Says It Will Be Coal-Free By 2016
Quote
According to the agreement, signed last year, EPE would buy solar power from Macho Springs for 5.79 cents a kilowatt-hour — less than half the 12.8 cents per kilowatt-hour average price for electricity from new coal plants, according to Bloomberg.
http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/06/17/3449604/texas-utility-solar/ (http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/06/17/3449604/texas-utility-solar/)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: crandles on June 19, 2014, 12:35:43 AM
Vanadium batteries?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-27829874 (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-27829874)

Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Jim Hunt on June 19, 2014, 11:14:53 AM
Vanadium batteries?

As used in the UK!

http://www.energystoragejournal.com/redt-provides-windy-scottish-island-with-flow-battery-storage-system/ (http://www.energystoragejournal.com/redt-provides-windy-scottish-island-with-flow-battery-storage-system/)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on June 19, 2014, 01:18:57 PM
A bit more on Silevo and their solar panels.  Peak Efficiency 18.4 %; up to 22% has been demonstrated.  Uses copper instead of silver, which saves on cost.  Factory in Buffalo, NY.

http://www.zacks.com/stock/news/137334/solarcity-moves-into-manufacturing-with-silevo-takeover (http://www.zacks.com/stock/news/137334/solarcity-moves-into-manufacturing-with-silevo-takeover)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on June 21, 2014, 07:28:13 PM
Utilities in Texas and Utah switching to solar -- because it's cheaper.

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/06/17/3449604/texas-utility-solar/ (http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/06/17/3449604/texas-utility-solar/)

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/06/20/3451429/utah-solar-purpa/ (http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/06/20/3451429/utah-solar-purpa/)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on June 21, 2014, 10:24:34 PM
The Major Solar Projects List is a database of all ground-mounted solar projects, 1 MW and above, that are either operating, under construction or under development in the US.

Quote
- There are over 550 major solar projects currently in the database, representing over 32 GW of capacity.
- The list shows that there is over 6.3 GWac of major solar projects currently operating.
- There remains an enormous amount of capacity in the pipeline, with over 26 GW of PV and CSP projects either under construction or under development.
- Under the Obama Administration, 16 projects have been permitted on federal lands, which will provide 6,058 MW of generating capacity.
http://www.seia.org/research-resources/major-solar-projects-list (http://www.seia.org/research-resources/major-solar-projects-list)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Laurent on June 23, 2014, 09:49:02 PM
5 unexpected countries that are leading the way on renewable energy

http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/energy/stories/5-unexpected-countries-that-are-leading-the-way-on-renewable-energy (http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/energy/stories/5-unexpected-countries-that-are-leading-the-way-on-renewable-energy)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on June 23, 2014, 10:05:19 PM
"Organic" solar cells are paper thin and flexible.  And you can get a sample for free!
http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/06/23/3451684/future-of-solar-technology/ (http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/06/23/3451684/future-of-solar-technology/)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on June 24, 2014, 10:14:26 PM
Two Washington, D.C. Universities sign a 20-year agreement to buy "cheaper than brown power" solar power from three solar farms to be built in North Carolina -- the biggest solar set-up east of the Mississippi River.

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/06/24/3452290/universities-solar-deal/ (http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/06/24/3452290/universities-solar-deal/)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: jonthed on June 26, 2014, 01:00:45 AM
Here are two more emerging technologies that I'm excited about:

1 - Wind Turbine/Water Condenser combo: Produces electricity, and also harvests water from humid air in dry regions. Providing off grid electricity and water in one swoop. Desalination may work out better value for coastal cities, but for remote communities who can't expect a network of water pipelines to cover the whole country, this is a simple solution.

http://www.treehugger.com/wind-technology/wind-turbine-makes-clean-water-desert.html (http://www.treehugger.com/wind-technology/wind-turbine-makes-clean-water-desert.html)
http://www.eolewater.com/gb/home.html (http://www.eolewater.com/gb/home.html)

2 - EmDrive - New type of thrust engine, requires no fuel or propellant, simply electricity. Has now been demonstrated and explained theoretically. Has major implications for Satellites and space craft, but also potential implications for air travel and sub orbital travel.

http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2013-02/06/emdrive-and-cold-fusion (http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2013-02/06/emdrive-and-cold-fusion)
http://www.emdrive.com/ (http://www.emdrive.com/)

See in particular their proposal for a hybrid vehicle:

http://emdrive.com/terrestrialapplications.html (http://emdrive.com/terrestrialapplications.html)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: slow wing on June 26, 2014, 02:57:07 AM
Jonthed,

That EMdrive is rubbish, based on your first link.

Quote
Shawyer aimed to develop an EmDrive: a closed, conical container which, when filled with resonating microwaves, experiences a net thrust towards the wide end. It seems to violate of the law of conservation of momentum, implied by Newton, which says that no closed system can have a net thrust. However, Shawyer says net thrust occurs because the microwaves have a group velocity which is greater in one direction than the other and Einstein's relativity comes into play. Group velocity, the speed of a collection of electromagnetic waves, is a tricky business -- a pulse of light can even have a group velocity which is greater than the speed of light -- but can it really cause net thrust?

Einstein's relativity doesn't save it because momentum is conserved in relativistic systems as well.

No, a closed system cannot sustain net thrust, no matter what is inside it.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: jonthed on June 26, 2014, 04:43:42 AM
slow wing,

This EmDrive was first announced back in 2006 and was apparently met with much skepticism and ridicule, along the lines of what you have said. They claim to have addressed these concerns with physics and maths I don't understand, and even have a working prototype now. Did you read their FAQ? I know I can't discern the physical possibility or impossibility of what they are proposing, but it seems they have addressed the issues raised, and proven the theory with their working prototype.

They even have formulas showing how momentum is in fact conserved. Either way, no point arguing with me about it, I just wanted to make sure you had read the FAQ, and not dismissed it too quickly. Like I said, there have been many years and several teams working on this since it was first critiqued several years ago.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: jonthed on June 26, 2014, 04:57:35 AM
From the EmDrive FAQ: http://emdrive.com/faq.html (http://emdrive.com/faq.html)

Quote
Q. Why does the EmDrive not contravene the conservation of momentum when it operates in free space?
A. The EmDrive cannot violate the conservation of momentum. The electromagnetic wave momentum is built up in the resonating cavity, and is transferred to the end walls upon reflection. The momentum gained by the EmDrive plus the momentum lost by the electromagnetic wave equals zero. The direction and acceleration that is measured, when the EmDrive is tested on a dynamic test rig, comply with Newtons laws and confirm that the law of conservation of momentum is satisfied.

For more details see their last published paper on their latest work (found on their home page):

http://www.emdrive.com/IAC13paper17254.v2.pdf (http://www.emdrive.com/IAC13paper17254.v2.pdf)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: slow wing on June 26, 2014, 10:48:34 AM
...I just wanted to make sure you had read the FAQ, and not dismissed it too quickly. Like I said, there have been many years and several teams working on this since it was first critiqued several years ago.

Don't worry, I'm also quick at dismissing perpetual motion machines, and there are plenty of people working on those as well.



OK, I looked on their theory page...

http://emdrive.com/principle.html (http://emdrive.com/principle.html)
Quote
The inevitable objection raised, is that the apparently closed system produced by this arrangement cannot result in an output force, but will merely produce strain within the waveguide walls. However, this ignores Einstein’s Special Law of Relativity in which separate frames of reference have to be applied at velocities approaching the speed of light. Thus the system of EM wave and waveguide can be regarded as an open system, with the EM wave and the waveguide having separate frames of reference.

That is poppycock, presumably intended for those unfamiliar with special relativity. People analyse relativistic systems all the time using a single frame of reference.


And then the claim that their method of relativistic analysis somehow makes it an open system is ridiculous.


Momentum is conserved, component by component, in any (inertial) reference frame.

They can pump up the EM energy inside the cavity all they want - the cavity won't start shooting off in one direction without something else shooting off from it in one or more other directions.



It's not even a clever fraud.


This EmDrive is mumbo jumbo, voodoo science, ...
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: crandles on June 26, 2014, 03:30:20 PM
domen_, any efficiency increases are taken greatefully. But we will not wait for new technologies - there is no time left. Therefore, such new technologies will not play a role in the transition to renewables. They may play a role in future when old renewables are renewed again. So if they learn to make more efficient PV-modules from old PV-modules it makes sense. If they use other materials (like in that article above) than it will not renew old installations and it is probably nonsense. Sorry - it is to late for such games.

In 2050 we will have 100% renewables and now we have about 25% - so assuming further linear replacement in about 10 years 50% of all renewables will be installed allready. That will be existing technology and the main scaling is completed after that. You see, it is allready to late for any technology needing >10 years for penetration of 50% of the market. So we have to concentrate on things working today. At this place that are wind on-shore and PV.

I really don't follow this. If the product is 40 years from being ready to be sold then yes and perhaps even if it is 25 years from being market ready. If only 10 years from market, I don't see all available areas having been covered in PV within 10 years so there will be new areas without waste to recycle that will want to use best efficiency for price type of panels.

You don't seem to be saying that all available areas will be covered within 10 years so is there some reasoning that I am missing?


Perhaps this:
If it really is just a simple switch to a less toxic chemical, Magnesium chloride instead of Cadmium Chloride, perhaps this might be rather less time than 10 years from market?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-27987827 (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-27987827)

Quote
More than 90% of the solar cells are made from silicon. Around 7% are made from a material called cadmium telluride. The cadmium telluride cells are thinner than silicon and these are popular because they are also lighter and cheaper.

Perhaps 'magnesium telluride'? could become cheapest for a while before something else takes over for a while and so on. Thus it seems quite possible to me that no panel type ever gains more than a 20% share.

What is wrong with that reasoning? Are you saying everyone should abandon development of promising materials if they are more than 10 years from market?
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on June 26, 2014, 04:33:59 PM
domen_, any efficiency increases are taken greatefully. But we will not wait for new technologies - there is no time left. Therefore, such new technologies will not play a role in the transition to renewables. They may play a role in future when old renewables are renewed again. So if they learn to make more efficient PV-modules from old PV-modules it makes sense. If they use other materials (like in that article above) than it will not renew old installations and it is probably nonsense. Sorry - it is to late for such games.

In 2050 we will have 100% renewables and now we have about 25% - so assuming further linear replacement in about 10 years 50% of all renewables will be installed allready. That will be existing technology and the main scaling is completed after that. You see, it is allready to late for any technology needing >10 years for penetration of 50% of the market. So we have to concentrate on things working today. At this place that are wind on-shore and PV.

I really don't follow this. If the product is 40 years from being ready to be sold then yes and perhaps even if it is 25 years from being market ready. If only 10 years from market, I don't see all available areas having been covered in PV within 10 years so there will be new areas without waste to recycle that will want to use best efficiency for price type of panels.

You don't seem to be saying that all available areas will be covered within 10 years so is there some reasoning that I am missing?


[...]

What is wrong with that reasoning? Are you saying everyone should abandon development of promising materials if they are more than 10 years from market?

CRandles, the reasoning is much more simple. But I agree it is a bit confusing that I talk about 2 different 10 years at once and also about 2 different time-scales at the same time. So I try to give some more details.

There are typically 2 different time scales in market penetration: Technology & economic scaling. First thing is time-to-market for a new technology. That is usually 10 years in this kind of markets. So it would take ~10 years from a new material development to a new kind of solar cell you can buy.

The second thing is the time that new product needs to penetrate the market, e.g. the time that some significant amount of electricity is produced by this new technology. So it is the time you need to produce and install a lot of TWh. Remember the reason for scaling effects: Things like solar cells or computer chips are not getting cheaper just because time goes by but because the price drops with a slope proportional to the number of things produced before. That is the typical learning curve, like "Moors law" and can be applied for computer chips as well as chicken wings...

The second 10 years I mentioned is a different time: It is the time after which we will have 50% of electricity from renewables. So in 10 years 50% of all the renewables we need will allready be bought and be installed. That means, in 10 years some technologies are succesfully scaled and much more competetive than any other technology (including nuclear, fossils and other renewables). Any new technology eager to replace fossils must therefore be scaled in 10 years to get any significant market share before e.g. 2034. If it is only coming to visit the market in 10 years it will not have a chance. And every year it comes later reduces its chances significantly. To conclude: If any new technology wants to get its own color in such a graph like the one attached (and not only beeing part of "the others"), it must be scaled to mass production within 10 years. Otherwise it will by out not because of technology reasons but because of simple economic scaling reasons.
(https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.agora-energiewende.org%2Ftypo3temp%2Fpics%2F76d1ccd882.jpg&hash=0dfd8dd48714c4abe898903a33ce697d)

http://www.agora-energiewende.org/topics/the-energiewende/germanys-clean-energy-transition-what-is-the-energiewende/ (http://www.agora-energiewende.org/topics/the-energiewende/germanys-clean-energy-transition-what-is-the-energiewende/)

But please understand: I am allways with development of new technologies (and not only because that is my business). But a lot of new technologies mentioned today will have no chance to replace fossils just because they will be to late. Those new technologies, which come to market today have a small chance to be scalled sucessfully in 10 years and to participate to the replacement of fossils, which will be completed in about 20 years. All other new technologies must aim to replace wind and solar - which will be much tougher after 20 years of further scaling PV&wind than e.g. replacing fossils is today. I hope you understand this simple economic logic - it is just to late because wind and solar are scaling so good. You have to overtake a fast Ferrari with your new soapbox and the Ferarri is allready getting speed while you still tighten the screws...
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: crandles on June 26, 2014, 05:28:44 PM
OK, 10 years development and 10 years scaling to fully realise minimum price per unit so starting now doesn't get the cost right down until 2034. That makes more sense; 2024 seemed too early.

Even so, if in 2024 material X is cheapest now but offers little scope for further economies from scaling. While material Y is a little more expensive but offers much more scope for further economies.

A new entrant to market may struggle to sell enough Y. An existing company already selling X may be concerned about competitors using Y and getting enough scaling economies, but could well stick with X despite such a risk, certainly if all competitors are likely to reach this same decision.

However, if Y has some advantage for certain niches then I could see existing company using both X on large scale and Y for niches markets until sufficient experience gained to be sure they can get price of Y to be lower than X.

Getting to market by 2034 seems likely to be too late. However, if likely to be competitive by 2024, I wouldn't see that as a lost cause.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Shared Humanity on June 26, 2014, 06:08:15 PM
I would like to make the obvious point that while it is a renewable, biomass and biogas does not solve our CO2 problem. We should take that one off the table.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on June 26, 2014, 06:58:09 PM
I would like to make the obvious point that while it is a renewable, biomass and biogas does not solve our CO2 problem. We should take that one off the table.
Everybody including me agrees to that point. In 2000 biomass had some hope in competition to PV - but that is lost. It is all about PV & wind...
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on June 26, 2014, 07:05:26 PM
OK, 10 years development and 10 years scaling to fully realise minimum price per unit so starting now doesn't get the cost right down until 2034. That makes more sense; 2024 seemed too early.
CRandles: In 2034 the party is over and fossil is gone. If you have the cost down in 2034 for your new technology to replace fossils you have lost the race, because in 2034 fossils are allready replaced. In 2034 you have to replace wind and solar, if you want to make a point.

Of course any improvements compatible with current PV & wind technologies will be included and used by PV & wind - that is normal evolution during the learning curve. So if you have some technology helping PV or wind like some cost reducing processing step or improving efficiency 0.1 % you may have some economical success.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: domen_ on June 26, 2014, 08:53:57 PM
I would like to make the obvious point that while it is a renewable, biomass and biogas does not solve our CO2 problem. We should take that one off the table.
Biomass + CCS makes some sense. It may eventually be needed to reduce CO2 in atmosphere for a couple ten ppm.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: sofouuk on June 29, 2014, 05:29:39 PM
'fossils will be gone by 2034'? 'in ten years 50% of the renewables we need will already have been bought and installed'? not that I wouldn't like to see it, but I'll bet very serious money that neither prediction even comes remotely close to coming true
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on June 30, 2014, 10:33:07 AM
'fossils will be gone by 2034'? 'in ten years 50% of the renewables we need will already have been bought and installed'? not that I wouldn't like to see it, but I'll bet very serious money that neither prediction even comes remotely close to coming true
sofouuk, "bet very serious money that neither prediction even comes remotely close to coming true" is exactly, what a company investing in future renewables must do. I would suggest to reconsider your bet due to some reasons I will explain. But first I want to make clear what I was talking about:
I was talking only about electrical power generation - the market for PV & wind and its competition from new renewables technologies. Fossils will probably be used for e.g. transportation longer.

Furthermore I would consider the market for fossil electrical power generation "dead" after renewables have >70% market share. At that time fossils will only be used in windless winter time as backup for wind & PV and only until the future grid is ready rendering backup and storage useless. The latter may be in 2034 if politics reacts now accordingly or may be later if politics does nothing...
However - any new renewables technology based on sun will not compete with fossils anymore in 2034, since in the dark time it is out, too.

So you think 50% renewable in 10 years is unlikely? Since we have 25% today and will have 43% in 2020 and 63% in 2030 (prognosis by federal network agency, see my Reply #423) - I think it is a conservative linear extrapolation.
 
If you are betting now your money by investing in renewables not on the market now / not scaled to mass production (dozens of TWh) in 10 years you should know, that we have allready "peak capacity installation" for renewables these days (in Germany that peak was in mad 2011 Fukushima year). It is safe to assume, that new installation (in Wh) will be constant between now and we reach about 75% and decline after that a bit to converge to a constant replacement rate. At the same time prices keep on dropping - so the renewable market is allready a shrinking market in terms of revenue. That is also observed by Renewables 2014 Global Status Report by REN21 (see Yuha's Reply #398) - that is the best free renewables market report I know. Maybe some extra demand in undeveloped countries will be generated when prices drop significantly - but you will not like to bet your money on new technologies sold for low prices.

So you are betting your money, that a new technology starting now and maybe scaled in 10 years will comepete in a shrinking market against existing technology, which allready is prooven to scale nicely? You should not need that money you are betting on that...

The same for fossil and nuclear: In this situation described above it is insane to invest in fossil or nuclear power plants unless you can get a guarantee from government for fix prices for 20-30 years (similar to renewables). But in a free market such investments would be like suicide. Renewables are so much tipped.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: sofouuk on June 30, 2014, 02:37:07 PM
fine. not sure that '50% of electricity from renewables' is the same as '50% of the energy we need', also Germany is clearly far ahead of the global curve and hardly representative. I wouldn't consider 30% market share as 'dead' or 'gone', either, but never mind
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on June 30, 2014, 02:58:17 PM
also fine. The discussion above was about new renewable technologies for electricity and if that developments still makes some sense to replace fossils. So the context was clear for poeple involved and "no" was my answer above. It is all about PV & wind and nothing new is needed to save us, the new technolgies hardly have any chance.

I would see Germany as representative for countries transitioning towards renewables. It is not leading the pack but well mainstream transitioning and pretty standard in respect to wealth & industry and such things - so what Germany is doing can be done by any other developed country, too. Of course for some of the few countries not starting the transition yet that looks well ahead, but that perspective is surely not representative either.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on July 04, 2014, 05:05:45 PM
Had not thought of this:  floating solar panels in a lake!  No need to purchase land, and it ties into the local hydropower grid.
However, despite what they say, I imagine it would affect the ecology of the lake, if only for the shade it creates.

http://cleantechnica.com/2014/07/02/india-plans-worlds-largest-floating-solar-power-project-50-mw/ (http://cleantechnica.com/2014/07/02/india-plans-worlds-largest-floating-solar-power-project-50-mw/)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on July 08, 2014, 10:05:27 PM
Due to solar power, Queensland Australia experienced a period when the wholesale cost of electricity was below zero -- in the middle of the day. 

"As early as 2018, solar could be economically viable to power big cities. By 2040 over half of all electricity may be generated in the same place it's used. Centralised, coal-fired power is over"

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jul/07/solar-has-won-even-if-coal-were-free-to-burn-power-stations-couldnt-compete (http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jul/07/solar-has-won-even-if-coal-were-free-to-burn-power-stations-couldnt-compete)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on July 21, 2014, 06:08:48 PM
It's a solar roof and a wind roof!  ROI for this Jamaica location is 3-4 years.

http://phys.org/news/2014-07-kingston-jamaica-hybrid-harness-sun.html (http://phys.org/news/2014-07-kingston-jamaica-hybrid-harness-sun.html)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on July 30, 2014, 03:18:30 PM
Interesting graph showing solar cell efficiency improvements over the years.

http://cleantechnica.com/2014/02/02/which-solar-panels-most-efficient/ (http://cleantechnica.com/2014/02/02/which-solar-panels-most-efficient/)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Yuha on July 31, 2014, 03:35:35 AM
Interesting graph showing solar cell efficiency improvements over the years.
The latest version of the graph (http://www.nrel.gov/ncpv/images/efficiency_chart.jpg) is available from NREL (http://www.nrel.gov/ncpv/).
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on August 03, 2014, 04:58:06 PM
Interesting graph showing solar cell efficiency improvements over the years.
The latest version of the graph (http://www.nrel.gov/ncpv/images/efficiency_chart.jpg) is available from NREL (http://www.nrel.gov/ncpv/).

Cool.  Thanks!
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on August 12, 2014, 04:57:15 PM
Wind energy takes over for sudden loss of nuclear in the UK.
http://reneweconomy.com.au/2014/wind-energy-to-rescue-as-edf-takes-part-of-uks-nuclear-fleet-offline-90185 (http://reneweconomy.com.au/2014/wind-energy-to-rescue-as-edf-takes-part-of-uks-nuclear-fleet-offline-90185)

South Australia wind energy jumps to 43% of power mix in July; at times renewables provided 100%.
http://reneweconomy.com.au/2014/south-australia-wind-energy-jumps-to-43-in-july-88992 (http://reneweconomy.com.au/2014/south-australia-wind-energy-jumps-to-43-in-july-88992)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on August 16, 2014, 01:50:03 AM
Queensland, Australia tries a $500/day fee for using electricity -- no matter how little you use -- to protect utilities from decreased revenue due to customers using their own solar power.  Would that dissuade you from installing solar panels?  Or, persuade you to drop off the grid entirely?

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/08/15/3471837/queensland-energy-fee-kills-solar/ (http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/08/15/3471837/queensland-energy-fee-kills-solar/)

Edit: added this fixed-fee story from the US.  It involves Wisconsin politics:

http://www.eenews.net/stories/1060004470 (http://www.eenews.net/stories/1060004470)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: ghoti on August 21, 2014, 10:50:22 PM
I realized today that in the Canadian Arctic territory of Nunavut 100% of their electricity is generated with diesel generators. This is shocking to me given the abundant wind in the Arctic.

Nunavut has no electricity grid and has to have generators in every community. (something like 27 generators in 25 communities)  Their electricity was reported to cost between $0.50 and $1.00 (CDN) per kWh in 2011.

I can't imagine that wind wouldn't be extremely competitive. I can't figure out why nobody has put up at least one utility scale wind turbine.

Anyone now any more about this?
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on August 21, 2014, 11:00:04 PM
US PPA (Power Purchase Agreements) for onshore wind averaged $0.025/kW in 2013.  Down from $0.04/kWh during 2011 and 2012.

Those are subsidized prices, so add in about 1.5 cents. 

This means that the price of producing electricity with wind turbines in the US has dropped below 4 cents.  Cheap and should get cheaper.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on August 25, 2014, 07:54:32 PM
Florida's largest beer distributor adds the state's largest private solar power system.  Because it just makes economic sense.

"Although renewable energy advocates say Florida's old-guard utility companies have dissuaded the state's government from adopting incentives to help with the upfront investment in solar power systems, the raw benefits of producing on-site power has proved incentive enough for many business owners."

http://tbo.com/news/business/huge-solar-grid-will-keep-beer-cold-in-st-pete-20140824/ (http://tbo.com/news/business/huge-solar-grid-will-keep-beer-cold-in-st-pete-20140824/)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on August 25, 2014, 07:59:04 PM
I realized today that in the Canadian Arctic territory of Nunavut 100% of their electricity is generated with diesel generators. This is shocking to me given the abundant wind in the Arctic.

Nunavut has no electricity grid and has to have generators in every community. (something like 27 generators in 25 communities)  Their electricity was reported to cost between $0.50 and $1.00 (CDN) per kWh in 2011.

I can't imagine that wind wouldn't be extremely competitive. I can't figure out why nobody has put up at least one utility scale wind turbine.

Anyone now any more about this?
This article has some interesting information:

http://www.nunatsiaqonline.ca/stories/article/65674wind_power_for_nunavut_dont_hold_your_breath_qec_boss_says/ (http://www.nunatsiaqonline.ca/stories/article/65674wind_power_for_nunavut_dont_hold_your_breath_qec_boss_says/)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: ghoti on August 25, 2014, 11:11:31 PM
Yeah, I emailed a company that specializes in renewable infrastructure. They have 8 wind farms in development across southern Canada. They sent me this same article too.

My read of the article says a government utility with only diesel generator expertise won't do a good job of wind. The complete lack of a grid in Nunavut makes wind even tougher. They did a terrible job 15-20 years ago when wind was much more expensive and much less well understood. They feel burned and won't consider it again.

Seems like very small scale wind by individuals for home use would pay for themselves very quickly given the price they pay for electricity. It would even probably pay for itself even if it is just used for water and space heating.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on August 26, 2014, 03:03:02 AM
Electricity from the tides:

"Scotland is building what it calls the world’s biggest tidal array in the Pentland Firth in northern Scotland, the country’s government announced last week."

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/08/25/3475122/worlds-biggest-tidal-array-scotland/ (http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/08/25/3475122/worlds-biggest-tidal-array-scotland/)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: deep octopus on August 28, 2014, 03:57:02 PM
Blog post regarding renewable energy in the UK (and globally.)

via Carbon Brief

Quote
Why we’re going to be breaking renewable records for the foreseeable future, and what that means

UK wind power shattered records last week, spinning out 22 per cent of electricity demand for a day. One in five of our morning cups of tea was renewably-powered, if you like.

Sound familiar? It should, because renewables keep  breaking  records. In 2013 records were smashed. The same was true in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

In fact, the amount of power generated by renewable sources of electricity in the UK was record breaking through much of the 1990s… and in every single year since 2004 (graph, below).

<snip>...<snippity><snip>...

While not forgetting that electricity accounts for only a small part of our overall energy use, it's true that a renewable revolution of sorts really is under way.

It's just that it's happening at the same time as a revolution in living standards, with billions of new consumers hooking up to the electricity grid and millions more buying the latest power-hungry flat-screen TVs, made in China.

The IEA expects these twin revolutions to continue. Even though renewable power output will expand rapidly, its share of total electricity generation around the world will reach just 26 per cent in 2020.

Nevertheless, we can expect renewables to continue to demolish records - much like a wrecking ball. If we want renewables to help limit global temperatures to no more than two degrees, there's no other way.
http://www.carbonbrief.org/blog/2014/08/why-were-going-to-be-breaking-renewable-records-for-the-foreseeable-future-and-what-that-means/?utm_content=buffer7ac20&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer (http://www.carbonbrief.org/blog/2014/08/why-were-going-to-be-breaking-renewable-records-for-the-foreseeable-future-and-what-that-means/?utm_content=buffer7ac20&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on September 01, 2014, 12:54:47 AM
In this short video, Amory Lovins argues that bulk storage and fossil fuel plant backups are not needed for renewables to work, and the proof already exists in some regions of the world.

http://www.rmi.org/storage_necessity_myth_amory_lovins (http://www.rmi.org/storage_necessity_myth_amory_lovins)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Laurent on September 03, 2014, 02:04:41 PM
Some examples on ROI. (Return on investment)
http://www.greenandsave.com/master_roi_table.html (http://www.greenandsave.com/master_roi_table.html)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: jbg on September 06, 2014, 11:20:03 PM
I realized today that in the Canadian Arctic territory of Nunavut 100% of their electricity is generated with diesel generators. This is shocking to me given the abundant wind in the Arctic.

Nunavut has no electricity grid and has to have generators in every community. (something like 27 generators in 25 communities)  Their electricity was reported to cost between $0.50 and $1.00 (CDN) per kWh in 2011.

I can't imagine that wind wouldn't be extremely competitive. I can't figure out why nobody has put up at least one utility scale wind turbine.

Anyone now any more about this?
The wind is not steady or reliable in Nunavut. And turbines freeze.  New Brunswick has had that happen with the turbines on the supposedly perfect Bay of Fundy.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on September 07, 2014, 01:56:52 AM
So, defrost the wind turbines.  Use geothermal heat pumps to produce the warm temps needed to keep things flowing.  Use wind when the wind is blowing and solar when the Sun is shining.  Fill in with diesel (or biodiesel)

BTW, do you not find it strange that we're worried about diesel usage in Nunavut where a grand total of 31,906 people live?  That's 0.0004% of the world's population.

Our goal between now and 2050 is to cut CO2 emissions by 40% to 70%.  We don't need to be CO2 free everywhere.  Go for the low hanging fruit.  Leave the hard nuts to crack for later.



Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on September 07, 2014, 02:01:46 AM
Four turbines installed at a mine on the Nunavut boarder for $31 million.  Saving $6 million per year on diesel fuel costs.  Six year payback.

http://www.nunatsiaqonline.ca/stories/article/65674diavik_mines_wind-driven_power_saves_5_million_in_diesel_costs/ (http://www.nunatsiaqonline.ca/stories/article/65674diavik_mines_wind-driven_power_saves_5_million_in_diesel_costs/)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: ghoti on September 07, 2014, 02:26:21 AM
Bob, thanks for the link. You of course are right this is a drop in the bucket but if you can't make renewables work in a location where non-renewables are stupid expensive it is discouraging. It figures that a mining company would see the money savings as incentive to use wind and do it successfully. Pity the govt utility had their attempt go bad. Maybe with a visible success more wind power with emerge up north.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: jbg on September 07, 2014, 03:54:43 AM
So, defrost the wind turbines.  Use geothermal heat pumps to produce the warm temps needed to keep things flowing.  Use wind when the wind is blowing and solar when the Sun is shining.  Fill in with diesel (or biodiesel)
Nunavut gets a bit nippy for doing that. And when it freezing rains up there it can be around 0 F.
BTW, do you not find it strange that we're worried about diesel usage in Nunavut where a grand total of 31,906 people live?  That's 0.0004% of the world's population.

Our goal between now and 2050 is to cut CO2 emissions by 40% to 70%.  We don't need to be CO2 free everywhere.  Go for the low hanging fruit.  Leave the hard nuts to crack for later.
Agreed.  CO2 consumption is not going to be driven by use in Iqaluit or Baker Lake.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on September 07, 2014, 04:20:18 AM
Nunavut gets so cold that one can't melt ice by applying heat?

Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on September 07, 2014, 04:25:22 AM
Quote
Protecting wind turbines from ice requires a de-icing system. The leading edge of a wind turbine blade builds up ice and in order to keep the blade spinning and generating electricity, de-icing must continually take place. Imagine workers scaling a wind turbine to de-ice its blades manually! There are currently six different solutions to wind turbine icing: hot air, coating paint, blade control systems, built-on or integrated heating panels, geometrical enabled blades and new nanomaterials.

Perhaps the most interesting systems for de-icing blades involve biomimicry and nanotechnology. Scientists have been developing “superhydrophobic coatings” in which water droplets roll off of surfaces in the same way this occurs on specific types of leaves. In essence, the molecular surface of these coatings do not permit binding with H2O which simply runs off.

A company called Kelly Aerospace has been creating de-icing systems for planes for many years and is now providing de-icing solutions to the wind power industry. According to the company, its Wind Turbine Ice Protection System (WTIPS):

Sheds ice during operation
Does not require shut down during icing conditions
Protects blades from leading edge erosion
Involves simple external installation on blades
Uses PLC controlled deicing system
Uses a flexible graphite foil
Limits laid in balances when ice is present
Reduces wind turbine vibration and wear
WTIPS measure relative humidity, blade temperature and ambient temperature to determine the right time to de-ice. Once de-icing begins, it only takes 7-14 minutes for the cycle to complete.

http://www.industrytap.com/wind-turbine-de-icing-technology-keeps-blades-turning-in-harsh-conditions/11939 (http://www.industrytap.com/wind-turbine-de-icing-technology-keeps-blades-turning-in-harsh-conditions/11939)

Quote
As my outside thermometer struggles to achieve double-digits on the Fahrenheit scale (around -12oC) I thought it would be an appropriate time to discuss the new Vestas De-icing System (VDS) for wind turbines. Cold climates often provide the best wind resource, but ice on turbines can reduce electricity production by up to 20%. Ice buildup can also cause unbalanced spinning of the rotor, leading to mechanical failure. In addition to inefficient operation and potential damage to the turbine, ice flying off of the turbine blades can pose a threat to life and property. These factors make de-icing technology a necessity in cold-weather regions.
Vestas developed an innovative de-icing system that combines sensors, databases, and communications. The system can be customized to each specific wind farm location and customer preference. VDS can detect an icing condition, shut down the turbine, and perform the de-icing procedure automatically. Rather than detecting actual ice buildup, the VDS algorithm measures several variables, including temperature, humidity, wind speed, and turbine output. When icing conditions are favorable and measured output levels are lower than predicted, the de-icing procedure is initiated. VDS is even smart enough to determine whether it’s worth shutting down the turbine to perform de-icing. If turbine production is just slightly low because of icing, it may be more economical to just continue running the turbine. On the other hand, if the energy output is low enough, it’s worth shutting it down and de-icing it; the improved efficiency will more than pay back the temporary down time.

Each turbine blade includes a small heating element and fan. The outer third of the blade and most of the blade’s leading edge are heated, since this is where icing is likely to occur. Since these turbines are utility-scale, a small amount of grid power (up to 150 kW) is used to run the heating system. (I know - 150 kW doesn’t sound like a small amount of power, but Vestas makes turbines in the 2 to 8 MW range. It’s all relative.) During de-icing, the turbine is shut down, so there’s no danger of it throwing ice around.

So far, the VDS concept has been successfully tested in Canada and a prototype has been installed in Sweden. The Swedish unit will be tested over the winter. Vestas has received orders for four turbines with VDS to be installed in Austria in 2014.

http://www.engineering.com/ElectronicsDesign/ElectronicsDesignArticles/ArticleID/6776/De-Icing-Wind-Turbines.aspx (http://www.engineering.com/ElectronicsDesign/ElectronicsDesignArticles/ArticleID/6776/De-Icing-Wind-Turbines.aspx)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on September 07, 2014, 09:18:32 PM
Quote
The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) is out with its Solar Market Insight Report for the 2nd quarter of 2014, and it’s overwhelmingly “sunny” news. Here are a few highlights:

“- The U.S. solar market had another strong quarter in Q2 2014. Photovoltaic (PV) installations reached 1,133 MWdc in Q2, up 21% over the same quarter in 2013.”
- Solar power accounted for 53% of new U.S. electric generation capacity in the first half of 2014. That put solar ahead of natural gas (30%) and wind power (14%).
- Utility PV procurement is surging, as “utility-scale solar project developers have amassed more than 3 gigawatts of new contracts over the past twelve months” This is a result of solar’s “increasing cost-competitiveness, along with a variety of new procurement mechanisms.”
- The “residential solar juggernaut continues,” and “its momentum shows no signs of slowing.”
- The top five states for solar PV installation in the 2nd quarter of 2014 were: California, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New Jersey and North Carolina.
- Solar power in the U.S. is increasingly becoming “mainstream,” as “solar PV has moved light years ahead of where it stood back in the first half of 2012″ (e.g., utility solar PV cumulative installations have quadrupled).
- Utilities are starting to jump into the residential solar power market: “the two major utilities in Arizona (Arizona Public Service and Tucson Electric Power) are now the first utilities in the U.S. to formally propose plans to own rooftop solar on residential customers’ homes.”
http://scalinggreen.com/2014/09/seia-report-u-s-solar-pv-installation-growing-fast-becoming-mainstream-power-source/ (http://scalinggreen.com/2014/09/seia-report-u-s-solar-pv-installation-growing-fast-becoming-mainstream-power-source/)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: icefest on September 09, 2014, 06:40:33 AM
Is nunavut colder than antarctica, where wind turbines have been used for over ten years without issues?
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on September 13, 2014, 06:36:55 PM
Google invests in its 17th renewable energy project:  a solar power plant on a former oil and gas field near Bakersfield.

"Google said its renewable energy projects are expected to generate more than 6 billion kilowatt-hours of energy annually, which the tech giant said is 'far more electricity' than it consumes and is enough to power all public elementary schools in New York, Oregon and Wyoming for one year."

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-google-sunedison-solar-20140910-story.html (http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-google-sunedison-solar-20140910-story.html)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on September 14, 2014, 04:58:18 PM
Article on the switch to renewables, focussing on the German energiewende.  Great graph compares the power sources of a few countries.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/14/science/earth/sun-and-wind-alter-german-landscape-leaving-utilities-behind.html?ref=world&_r=1 (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/14/science/earth/sun-and-wind-alter-german-landscape-leaving-utilities-behind.html?ref=world&_r=1)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on September 14, 2014, 05:34:45 PM
Ontario, Canada closes its last coal power plant.
(Not sure about their claim as the only jurisdiction in North America to be coal-free, since, in the US, the states of Vermont and Rhode Island have no coal plants.)

http://ecowatch.com/2014/09/12/ontario-renewable-energy/ (http://ecowatch.com/2014/09/12/ontario-renewable-energy/)

http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Existing_U.S._Coal_Plants (http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Existing_U.S._Coal_Plants)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: jbg on September 15, 2014, 03:14:31 AM
Article on the switch to renewables, focussing on the German energiewende.  Great graph compares the power sources of a few countries.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/14/science/earth/sun-and-wind-alter-german-landscape-leaving-utilities-behind.html?ref=world&_r=1 (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/14/science/earth/sun-and-wind-alter-german-landscape-leaving-utilities-behind.html?ref=world&_r=1)
You beat me to it. I just logged on to post the article. I had it spread over the kitchen table.

The article is quite impressive until at the end the article states that large subsidies will still be needed to bring the electricity generated by wind power down to market rates.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on September 15, 2014, 05:04:10 AM
Massive error in the NYT article -

Quote
Wind power, too, has come down sharply in price in recent years, and it is now competitive with the cost of new coal-burning power plants in parts of the United States.

Non-subsidized wind in the US Midwest is now selling for 4 cents per kWh.  The operating cost for a paid off coal plant is over 3 cents per kWh.  Making payments on a new coal plant takes the cost well over 10 cents per kWh.

Quote
The article is quite impressive until at the end the article states that large subsidies will still be needed to bring the electricity generated by wind power down to market rates.

What do you think the cost of not getting off fossil fuels might be?  Let's say we warm good old Earth up 4C or 6C?

Actually I found the end of the article quite heart-warming...

Quote
For now, the German offshore farms are adding billions to the costs consumers are already bearing for solar panels, onshore wind turbines, biogas plants and the rest of the transition to renewable energy. Polls suggest it is a burden they are willing to carry.

“Indeed, the German people are paying significant money,” said Markus Steigenberger, an analyst at Agora, the think tank. “But in Germany, we can afford this — we are a rich country. It’s a gift to the world.”

Germans are very energy efficient.  The average monthly German electricity bill is only $10 more than the average US monthly electricity bill.  Germany is giving the world a great gift and it's costing them very little per person.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on September 25, 2014, 07:37:44 PM
Developers Plan Huge $8 Billion, 2.1-GW Wind Plus Storage Project in California

Quote
NEW YORK -- Four energy companies are proposing an $8 billion renewable energy project that would supply Los Angeles with more than twice the power generated by the Hoover Dam.

The project includes a 2,100-megawatt wind farm in Wyoming, a 525-mile (845-kilometer) power line and a $1.5 billion storage facility....

“This project would be the 21st Century’s Hoover Dam — a landmark of the clean energy revolution,” Jeff Meyer, managing partner of Pathfinder Renewable Wind Energy, said in the statement. Magnum Energy Inc. is the fourth developer.
http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2014/09/developers-plan-huge-8-billion-2-1-gw-wind-plus-storage-project-in-california-2?cmpid=rss (http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2014/09/developers-plan-huge-8-billion-2-1-gw-wind-plus-storage-project-in-california-2?cmpid=rss)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on September 25, 2014, 08:51:27 PM
The Wyoming wind project is promising.  The wind tends to pick up speed in Wyoming about the same time the Sun stops giving the West Coast solar power (I've heard).  This would make Wyoming wind a great solution for the late afternoon/evening demand peak.  It would decapitate the duck.

The idea is to run a HVDC line southward and to hook up with both the Intermountain Intertie and the Pacific Intertie.  That would create a loop in the HVDC system and greatly increase reliability.

Once in the HVDC loop Wyoming wind could flow to the entire West Coast as well as Utah and parts of Nevada.  And SoCal solar, PNW wind/hydro could flow up to Wyoming.  Next thing that needs to be brought onto the western grid is Idaho hydro.  That power should be used as a fill-in for wind and solar.  Tying stuff together greatly reduces the need for storage.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on September 25, 2014, 09:35:48 PM
Thought I'd share this...


(https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi619.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Ftt275%2FBob_Wall%2FWindPPAs2013Rpt.png&hash=6f9d42832efba77639dd3f2238356ead) (http://s619.photobucket.com/user/Bob_Wall/media/WindPPAs2013Rpt.png.html)

It shows the price of wind contacts (PPAs) in the US over the last 18 years.  It's easy to see the upturn in prices up to 2010 due to a shortage of turbines.  Then as more manufacturing came on line demand was met and prices dropped.

And if you look there are some large wind farms that signed 2 cent/kWh contracts in 2013.  Add in the PTC (subsidy) and they are producing and selling wind for a profit at less than 3.5 cents.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on September 28, 2014, 02:00:32 PM
New "sunflower" design for concentrated solar energy produces electricity, hot water, and desalinization.
http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/sep/28/solar-energy-sunflower-ibm-airlight-electricity (http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/sep/28/solar-energy-sunflower-ibm-airlight-electricity)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on September 28, 2014, 03:39:44 PM
High fuel costs and lack of grid access spur airborne wind power tests in Alaska.

http://www.nbcnews.com/business/energy/will-they-fly-wind-power-alternatives-buffeted-technical-squalls-n211571 (http://www.nbcnews.com/business/energy/will-they-fly-wind-power-alternatives-buffeted-technical-squalls-n211571)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on September 29, 2014, 05:46:22 PM
Quote
Hawaii’s utilities just resubmitted long-term energy plans to the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission, and there was at least one very nice surprise: Hawaii Electric Light Company (HELCO), the utility that serves the Big Island, now plans to achieve 92 percent renewable electricity by 2030.
...
The best part of the new plan? It will save customers buckets of money. HELCO projects that average residential bills will fall, under the 92 percent renewables plan, by 27 percent from 2014 to 2030, and that’s without taking inflation into account.

http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/Can-the-Big-Island-of-Hawaii-Get-All-of-its-Electricity-From-Renewables (http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/Can-the-Big-Island-of-Hawaii-Get-All-of-its-Electricity-From-Renewables)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on September 29, 2014, 07:28:15 PM
Britain's first floating solar panel project installed.

Quote
The technology, which is already being used at far larger scale in Japan, involves solar panels mounted on plastic floats, forming a giant pontoon.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/energy/solarpower/11110547/Britains-first-floating-solar-panel-project-installed.html (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/energy/solarpower/11110547/Britains-first-floating-solar-panel-project-installed.html)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: domen_ on September 29, 2014, 10:49:47 PM
Quote
Hawaii’s utilities just resubmitted long-term energy plans to the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission, and there was at least one very nice surprise: Hawaii Electric Light Company (HELCO), the utility that serves the Big Island, now plans to achieve 92 percent renewable electricity by 2030.
...
The best part of the new plan? It will save customers buckets of money. HELCO projects that average residential bills will fall, under the 92 percent renewables plan, by 27 percent from 2014 to 2030, and that’s without taking inflation into account.

http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/Can-the-Big-Island-of-Hawaii-Get-All-of-its-Electricity-From-Renewables (http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/Can-the-Big-Island-of-Hawaii-Get-All-of-its-Electricity-From-Renewables)
So Big Island has 27% renewable grid today. How much of that is solar, wind, etc?
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on September 29, 2014, 11:07:54 PM
Found this -

(https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi619.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Ftt275%2FBob_Wall%2F2014-09-29_140507.png&hash=028d3a655e4905355a9b91d3ca20b2ad) (http://s619.photobucket.com/user/Bob_Wall/media/2014-09-29_140507.png.html)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: domen_ on September 29, 2014, 11:30:45 PM
That's odd, these numbers don't seem to match the upper ones.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on September 29, 2014, 11:40:31 PM
First two columns seem to be correct, according to my calculator.  What are you seeing?
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: domen_ on September 30, 2014, 12:53:40 AM
Oh sorry, I misread. They expect prices to fall 27%, but renewables are at about 40% penetration (on Big Island).

But if I'm not mistaken again, this 40% doesn't include about 10% of distributed solar PV (according to the first chart in the article).

This 10% of PV is interesting because it shows that you can introduce 10% of PV without significant amounts of storage. Italy, which has second highest PV penetration, is at 7%.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on September 30, 2014, 03:15:38 AM
Steve Cohen argues in the Huffington Post that a carbon tax is not needed; we should instead fight for the funding of the basic research required to make the transition to a fossil fuel-free economy.

Quote
...The fact that the U.S. has not signed onto a meaningless non-binding resolution on the way to another round of meaningless climate talks in Paris next year is a non-issue.

Instead of wasting time and effort on a futile attempt to tax carbon, we should be gearing up our national laboratories, research universities and high-tech sector on a massive effort to invent new forms of renewable energy. New battery technology, carbon capture and storage, new energy efficiency technologies and smart energy transmission technologies should be part of the mix....
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steven-cohen/its-time-to-abandon-the-d_b_5899448.html (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steven-cohen/its-time-to-abandon-the-d_b_5899448.html)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on September 30, 2014, 03:36:50 AM
Steve Cohen argues in the Huffington Post that a carbon tax is not needed; we should instead fight for the funding of the basic research required to make the transition to a fossil fuel-free economy.

Quote
...The fact that the U.S. has not signed onto a meaningless non-binding resolution on the way to another round of meaningless climate talks in Paris next year is a non-issue.

Instead of wasting time and effort on a futile attempt to tax carbon, we should be gearing up our national laboratories, research universities and high-tech sector on a massive effort to invent new forms of renewable energy. New battery technology, carbon capture and storage, new energy efficiency technologies and smart energy transmission technologies should be part of the mix....
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steven-cohen/its-time-to-abandon-the-d_b_5899448.html (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steven-cohen/its-time-to-abandon-the-d_b_5899448.html)

That's something I've heard quite often from anti-renewable, pro-fossil fuel people. 

It's kind of like the folks who admit that the climate is warming but we should wait to see if it's going to be a problem before we do anything about it. 

Besides, (a carbon tax/doing something) might hurt our economy....
----

We are pouring huge amounts into research for better storage.  Very large amounts of private money are seeking market share.  Our solar panel manufacturers are constantly improving efficiency.  Our wind turbine companies constantly release improved product. 



Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on September 30, 2014, 06:49:52 AM
Here's a great picture that shows how quickly solar reached the tipping point.  That's a rather amazing cost decline.  I can't think of any prices that have moved downward that rapidly.

(https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi619.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Ftt275%2FBob_Wall%2Fbernstein-solar.png&hash=12bf1bfb722a9b1d388495d2e8f10248) (http://s619.photobucket.com/user/Bob_Wall/media/bernstein-solar.png.html)

Solar prices continued to fall in 2013 and have continued to fall in 2014 and are expected to keep on falling.  First Solar has stated that their prices will be down another 30% in a couple of years, for example....
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on October 04, 2014, 01:46:53 AM
Quote
The cost of solar power plus battery storage is about to dip below the average electricity bill in Germany.
...
But the fact remains that the costs of battery technology and solar power are headed nowhere but down. Another recent and very similar analysis by the investment bank UBS projected that by 2020, small-scale solar-plus-storage power generation will become economic enough for individual homeowners in Europe that there simply won’t be any market incentive for building more fossil fuel power plants on the Continent.

Here in America, Tesla thinks the costs of battery storage could fall to $100 per kilowatt-hour by the end of the decade. As John Aziz pointed out at The Week, that would drop the combined cost of a home solar array and a home battery to $17,000 over the system’s 20-year lifespan — well below the $26,000 the average U.S. household currently spends on electricity from the grid.
http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/10/03/3575371/hsbc-solar-battery-germany/ (http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/10/03/3575371/hsbc-solar-battery-germany/)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on October 04, 2014, 03:50:06 PM
New solar technology stores energy right in the panel.  Oh, and it uses oxygen.  "Basically, it's a breathing battery."

http://www.nbcnews.com/science/science-news/worlds-first-solar-battery-captures-stores-suns-energy-n218091 (http://www.nbcnews.com/science/science-news/worlds-first-solar-battery-captures-stores-suns-energy-n218091)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on October 04, 2014, 09:57:07 PM
Grist:  New IEA reports are even more bullish on clean electricity helping us to meet the 2°C challenge.
Quote
Electricity’s share of total global energy use has climbed from 9 percent in the ’70s to 17 percent today; depending on how things play out, that’s expected to rise to around 25 percent by 2050. (I would bet substantial money that even that is an underestimate.)

That could be a good or a bad thing. If the carbon intensity of global electricity remains the same, it would massively drive up emissions, because, well, coal. On the bright side, though, electricity is much easier to decarbonize than liquid fuels, so electrification presents a big opportunity to take a chunk out of global emissions. Specifically, to get on IEA’s “2DS” pathway — that is, to keep warming at or under 2 degrees C warming, per international agreement — the carbon intensity of global electricity would have to plunge by 90 percent.

Luckily, IEA concluded, that’s doable. It would cost a lot — global investments in electricity systems, including grids and storage, would have to roughly double — but the fuel savings alone would mean the benefits outweigh the costs. It won’t happen on its own, though. The mix of policies and technologies needed, from flexible grids to energy storage to solar, would require systems thinking, planning, and political coordination.

Anyway, that’s all background. Today, the IEA released two new solar-power roadmaps, one for solar PV and the other for solar thermal. The interesting news therein is twofold.

One, with the right policies in place, solar could be the largest provider of global electricity by 2050. That should put to rest the notion, widespread in some quarters, that solar is a marginal technology of interest only to fruity greens.

The second interesting bit is that IEA has gotten much more bullish on PV, even since May. The agency now believes it capable of providing 16 percent of total global electricity by 2050 (in the 2DS scenario), up from less than 1 percent today....

Anyway, there are lots more details in the documents themselves, including detailed policy recommendations for reducing costs and increasing grid flexibility. The main thing I want to highlight is just that solar costs are plunging so fast that even the stodgy IEA is scrambling to keep up.

At virtually every point in time over the last several decades, IEA has been behind the curve, underestimating the growth of renewables. Raise your hand if you think this is the last time it will reassess and upgrade solar’s potential contribution.
http://grist.org/climate-energy/how-solar-can-provide-over-half-the-planets-electricity/ (http://grist.org/climate-energy/how-solar-can-provide-over-half-the-planets-electricity/)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on October 04, 2014, 10:54:14 PM
Quote
It would cost a lot — global investments in electricity systems, including grids and storage, would have to roughly double — but the fuel savings alone would mean the benefits outweigh the costs.

And estimate which I saw recently is that the world would need to spend $550 billion per year to transition off fossil fuels.

However that estimation did not take into account the $600 billion we now spend each year exploring for and extracting oil. 

It did not take into account the  $140 billion to $242 billion that the US and the  €42.8 billion a year in health costs associated with coal-fired power stations that the US and Europe now spend.  Nor did it take into account the cost of coal-pollution in the rest of the world.

And it did not take into account the amount we will spend each year replacing worn out thermal plants.  Money we will spend one way or another, which would be wiser spend on renewables.



Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on October 05, 2014, 10:41:34 PM
Private entrepreneur is planning to grow the US grid to support wind power.

Quote
The wind is so strong in Iowa and Kansas that more wind farms there could power the country's largest cities if only there was a way to move that electricity to where most people live.

Enter Michael Skelly, a Houston businessman who envisions building five superhighways — transmission lines — to carry vast amounts of wind-generated power across more than 3,000 miles, multiple states, hundreds of jurisdictions and thousands of pieces of privately owned land.
http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-clean-line-transmission-1005-biz-20141005-story.html#page=1 (http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-clean-line-transmission-1005-biz-20141005-story.html#page=1)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on October 05, 2014, 10:57:34 PM
That's an interesting article.  I'd like to know what the rate of return might be.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: ccgwebmaster on October 06, 2014, 02:40:50 AM
Private entrepreneur is planning to grow the US grid to support wind power.

Quote
The wind is so strong in Iowa and Kansas that more wind farms there could power the country's largest cities if only there was a way to move that electricity to where most people live.

Enter Michael Skelly, a Houston businessman who envisions building five superhighways — transmission lines — to carry vast amounts of wind-generated power across more than 3,000 miles, multiple states, hundreds of jurisdictions and thousands of pieces of privately owned land.
http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-clean-line-transmission-1005-biz-20141005-story.html#page=1 (http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-clean-line-transmission-1005-biz-20141005-story.html#page=1)

If you can't move the electricity to the people, you could move the people to the electricity.

I'm not entirely joking - if you made it cheap enough that it was a reason for energy intensive industries (if the US has any left) to set up there, people would go for the jobs.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on October 06, 2014, 03:33:41 AM
There's a reason why more people don't live where the wind blows hard and much of the time.

Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on October 06, 2014, 08:03:25 PM

Just discovered that the NREL keeps track of end-user/distributed solar generation in addition to large scale/utility solar generation.  The EIA reports only utility scale solar.  Here's how the two databases look when plotted.

(https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi619.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Ftt275%2FBob_Wall%2FNRELandEIASolarGeneration.png&hash=40dc63f713dd2ec38d3d5775c332367c) (http://s619.photobucket.com/user/Bob_Wall/media/NRELandEIASolarGeneration.png.html)

The NREL 2013 report  should be out later this month.  Will update then.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Shared Humanity on October 07, 2014, 12:20:41 AM
I actually find wind farms beautiful. These are in Indiana.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Shared Humanity on October 07, 2014, 12:22:25 AM
They're going up quickly.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on October 07, 2014, 02:19:22 AM
Massive Concentrated Solar Power Project for California Desert Scrapped
The project had come under fire as a potential threat to migrating birds.

http://www.kcet.org/news/rewire/solar/concentrating-solar/palen-solar-project-canceled.html (http://www.kcet.org/news/rewire/solar/concentrating-solar/palen-solar-project-canceled.html)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on October 07, 2014, 02:46:47 AM
New report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance lists new renewables by country.

"In China, solar investment reached a new record of $12.2 billion, more than 22 percent of global clean energy investment over the quarter. Up from $7.5 billion in the same quarter last year and $8 billion in the second quarter of this year, China may add more than 14 gigawatts of solar capacity this year — almost a third of the global total, according to BNEF."

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/10/06/3576255/australia-clean-energy-plummets/ (http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/10/06/3576255/australia-clean-energy-plummets/)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on October 07, 2014, 04:57:13 AM
Quote
The project had come under fire as a potential threat to migrating birds.

While it is true that there has been a lot of noise about bird kills at the Ivanpah site the first six months data does not support that noise.  The high kill estimates were created by a "used to be a scientist" who simply pulled an estimate out of his rear end.

What seems to be actually killing thermal solar is price.  PV solar is looking to be far cheaper.  The Palen project might have been competitive, but not once it was required to scale down.

Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: jbg on October 07, 2014, 07:04:35 PM
There's a reason why more people don't live where the wind blows hard and much of the time.
Cape Horn and Ushuaia are nice this time of year.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on October 10, 2014, 10:02:01 PM
Japan added solar power too fast.
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-10-09/japan-solar-boom-fizzling-as-utilities-limit-grid-access.html (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-10-09/japan-solar-boom-fizzling-as-utilities-limit-grid-access.html)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on October 10, 2014, 10:25:04 PM
Japan added solar power too fast.
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-10-09/japan-solar-boom-fizzling-as-utilities-limit-grid-access.html (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-10-09/japan-solar-boom-fizzling-as-utilities-limit-grid-access.html)

Good for Japan.  They will now have a lot more power on partial cloudy days and can curtail a bit on sunny days while they beef up their grid.

Germany, China and the US have run into similar problems where generation and transmission were not closely coordinated.  These are fixable problems, unlike the seemingly going on forever problem of getting Fukushima stabilized. 
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on October 11, 2014, 03:38:42 AM
How much energy does it take when you don't change a lightbulb?

http://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelkanellos/2014/10/05/a-light-bulb-shows-how-solar-and-wind-beat-coal/ (http://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelkanellos/2014/10/05/a-light-bulb-shows-how-solar-and-wind-beat-coal/)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on October 11, 2014, 04:13:48 AM
Well, Michael reappears.  Haven't seen anything from him in years since he suddenly exited GTM.

Anyway - "lighting consumes 19% of world power".  If by power one means electricity.

And - " can’t find a 100 watt incandescent bulb in the U.S. You’ll be stuck doing this comparison on a 13 watt LED".  A 13 watt LED is about the lumen count of a 60 watt incandescent.  Should be 18 watts.  But the point holds....
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on October 11, 2014, 04:16:00 AM
Good for Japan.  They will now have a lot more power on partial cloudy days and can curtail a bit on sunny days while they beef up their grid.

Germany, China and the US have run into similar problems where generation and transmission were not closely coordinated.  These are fixable problems, unlike the seemingly going on forever problem of getting Fukushima stabilized.

We need many more utilities with this "problem," so we have many more people working on solutions.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on October 11, 2014, 04:32:56 AM
Hawaii's utility was basically told: "Find a way to make it work."

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/05/02/3433587/hawaii-utility-more-solar/ (http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/05/02/3433587/hawaii-utility-more-solar/)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on October 11, 2014, 04:55:07 AM
Speaking of Japan and renewables.  They are, right now, towing their first offshore, floating wind turbine into place.  The cable is laid and buried. 

This thing's a monster.  7 MW with a 110 meter hub height.  They are not starting slow and warming up....

(I hope they're well lashed down for the blow headed their way.  I should try to check that out.)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: crandles on October 11, 2014, 01:09:03 PM
Good for Japan.  They will now have a lot more power on partial cloudy days and can curtail a bit on sunny days while they beef up their grid.

Germany, China and the US have run into similar problems where generation and transmission were not closely coordinated.  These are fixable problems,

Lets hope the fixes don't include too much 'pay less for solar generation' thereby removing the incentive for more solar installations.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: domen_ on October 11, 2014, 03:46:50 PM
Speaking of Japan and renewables.  They are, right now, towing their first offshore, floating wind turbine into place.  The cable is laid and buried. 

This thing's a monster.  7 MW with a 110 meter hub height.  They are not starting slow and warming up....

(I hope they're well lashed down for the blow headed their way.  I should try to check that out.)
Have a link?

This won't be Japan's first floating wind turbine, they already installed one 2MW unit off the coast of Fukushima.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-11-11/fukushima-floating-offshore-wind-turbine-starts-generating-power.html (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-11-11/fukushima-floating-offshore-wind-turbine-starts-generating-power.html)

I guess floating wind turbines are the next logical step for offshore wind power. The potential is really big, environmental impact very low and so far experience with pilot projects has been positive (there's one 2MW in Portugal and one in Norway).
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: ghoti on October 11, 2014, 05:06:20 PM
http://www.windpowermonthly.com/article/1228423/japan-plays-long-game-floating-technology (http://www.windpowermonthly.com/article/1228423/japan-plays-long-game-floating-technology)

Quote
The second phase of the project is scheduled for 2015, with the installation of two 7MW Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) SeaAngel turbines, one on a semi-submersible foundation, the other on an advanced spar design.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on October 12, 2014, 05:11:50 AM
Speaking of Japan and renewables.  They are, right now, towing their first offshore, floating wind turbine into place.  The cable is laid and buried. 

This thing's a monster.  7 MW with a 110 meter hub height.  They are not starting slow and warming up....

(I hope they're well lashed down for the blow headed their way.  I should try to check that out.)
Have a link?

This won't be Japan's first floating wind turbine, they already installed one 2MW unit off the coast of Fukushima.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-11-11/fukushima-floating-offshore-wind-turbine-starts-generating-power.html (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-11-11/fukushima-floating-offshore-wind-turbine-starts-generating-power.html)

I guess floating wind turbines are the next logical step for offshore wind power. The potential is really big, environmental impact very low and so far experience with pilot projects has been positive (there's one 2MW in Portugal and one in Norway).

Here's some basic info about the SeaAngel - the 7 MW turbine. 

http://www.rechargenews.com/wind/1377781/SeaAngel-set-for-year-end-installation (http://www.rechargenews.com/wind/1377781/SeaAngel-set-for-year-end-installation)

After my last post I checked the typhoon news and saw something about an unnamed turbine tow being rescheduled to December (IIRC).  Sounds like they may be hunkering down until the storm season is over.

Thanks for the info on the 2 MW.  I knew Japan was testing a couple of platform designs but I wasn't aware they had hooked a turbine to their grid.

Offshore is where the wind is for several countries.  While there's a lot made about all the wind in the center of the US the really big stuff is off our coasts and over the Great Lakes.  The West Coast bottom drops off very quickly so we need floaters there.  Our first floater is about to be launched out of Coos Bay Oregon in a year or so.  Right now we've got some sophisticated wind stations moored out collecting a year's worth of detailed wind data.

(https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi619.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Ftt275%2FBob_Wall%2FUSWindMap.jpg&hash=9a5014942a6dbbf7c2cae1fa83b73e9b) (http://s619.photobucket.com/user/Bob_Wall/media/USWindMap.jpg.html)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Csnavywx on October 12, 2014, 08:29:25 AM
High Plains generation is pretty good, but it does have a few issues to work around (besides the omnipresent storage issue at the moment): Lower wind speeds during summer days (during peak demand) and most generation is related to the nocturnal low-level jet (LLJ) that sets up when the atmosphere decouples at night during the warmer parts of the year. Solar could help even the gaps there if deployed in sufficient force.

Great Lakes generation is a bit tougher due to the relatively extreme conditions over the lakes during the cold months. Icing (both from extensive lake-effect clouds, precipitation and lake spray) can significantly hamper efficiency and wear down parts pretty quickly. This isn't a problem in say.. the Pac NW where airmasses are sufficiently modified by the Pacific. With some tech used by the aircraft industry, we could help offset some of those losses.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on October 12, 2014, 08:50:22 AM
By adding a large amount of dispatchable load to the grid we can install very much more wind without needing to curtail during low demand hours.  That means that we'll have more wind input during times when the wind is blowing slower.

It's hard to imagine a better dispatchable load than EVs.  The average EV needs less than 3 hours of charging on a regular 240 vac line (clothes dryer, water heater stuff).  Cars spend 90% of their time parked.  And as we move to 200 mile or greater EVs many drivers are going to be able to skip charging for one or more days.

In exchange for a lower rate drivers could turn over actual charge time to the utility.  They would set a minimum.  ("Gotta have 50 miles by 7am" might be the minimum for someone with a 20 mile RT commute.)  Windy nights the utility fills everyone up.  Wind down, skip some cars.

The same will work for solar.  With cars plugged in at work/school during the day we can install a lot more solar than grid demand would justify.  Charge hard on sunny days.  Hold back on charging on less sunny days, sending all or most of the power generated to the grid.

Deal with a lot of the variability by greatly overbuilding supply for the grid and then selling the peaks to EV owners at a bargain price.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on October 14, 2014, 09:33:41 PM
Quote
There have been several instances in recent months when wind energy has accounted for all, or nearly all, electricity demand in South Australia. Last Tuesday, however, set a new benchmark – the combination of wind energy and rooftop solar provided more than 100 per cent of the state’s electricity needs, for a whole working day between 9.30am and 6pm.
http://reneweconomy.com.au/2014/south-australia-hits-100-renewables-whole-working-day-86069 (http://reneweconomy.com.au/2014/south-australia-hits-100-renewables-whole-working-day-86069)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on October 15, 2014, 05:37:55 PM
Quote
Southern California Edison, a utility that serves about 14 million people, has amassed more than 600,000 lithium-ion battery cells -- enough to power 2,000 Chevrolet Volts -- at a substation in Tehachapi, California. The $54 million, two-year test project aims to collect power generated from the area’s 5,000 wind turbines and store it for future use.
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-10-13/giant-battery-unit-aims-at-wind-storage-holy-grail-commodities.html (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-10-13/giant-battery-unit-aims-at-wind-storage-holy-grail-commodities.html)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on October 16, 2014, 03:12:03 AM
Scientific American: 
”Despite all the metals and raw materials that go into making solar cells and wind turbines, these sources of low-carbon renewable electrify will have a low climate and environmental impact through 2050”

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/renewables-are-as-green-as-you-d-expect/ (http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/renewables-are-as-green-as-you-d-expect/)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on October 21, 2014, 12:39:23 PM
Quote
Prudential Plc, the largest U.K. insurer by market value, today said it’s investing in the construction of a tidal lagoon power plant that may generate as much as 8 percent of Britain’s electricity.
http://about.bnef.com/bnef-news/prudential-investing-in-1-billion-pound-u-k-tidal-power-plant/ (http://about.bnef.com/bnef-news/prudential-investing-in-1-billion-pound-u-k-tidal-power-plant/)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on October 22, 2014, 09:47:08 PM
Quote
If free donuts, gym memberships, or flex pay programs aren’t your preferred employee benefit, cheap solar systems could soon be an option. On Wednesday, three major companies — Cisco Systems, 3M, and Kimberly-Clark — announced they will now give employees a deeply discounted way of buying or leasing solar panels for their homes.

Called the Solar Community Initiative, the program promises a flat rate that is on average 35 percent lower than the national average and roughly 50 percent less expensive than average electric utility rates. According to the announcement, the offer will start as a benefit to more than 100,000 employees. If one percent choose to power their homes with solar, more than 74,500 metric tons of carbon emissions would be avoided each year.
http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/10/22/3582763/cheap-solar-power-employee-benefit/ (http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/10/22/3582763/cheap-solar-power-employee-benefit/)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on October 24, 2014, 10:09:02 PM
Burlington, Vermont, USA (population about 42,000; home of Ben & Jerry's ice cream) has gone 100% renewable.  Mostly.   :)

http://www.benjerry.com/whats-new/renewable-energy-burlington (http://www.benjerry.com/whats-new/renewable-energy-burlington)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on October 26, 2014, 11:31:05 PM
Residential solar is contagious!

http://www.vox.com/2014/10/24/7059995/solar-power-is-contagious-neighbor-effects-panels-installation (http://www.vox.com/2014/10/24/7059995/solar-power-is-contagious-neighbor-effects-panels-installation)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on October 27, 2014, 04:56:17 PM
@insideclimate: RT @Sustainable2050: Danish wind power provided >100% of national electricity demand entire night, peaking at 130%
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on October 28, 2014, 02:09:59 PM
Just saw a comment that Denmark was exporting wind-electrici That price will hurt fossil fuel generators.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on October 28, 2014, 04:31:37 PM
That price will hurt fossil fuel generators.
Bob - that price hurts wind generators the most. The fossil plants go idle on such days, since they know a day ahead the prices. But wind generators are hurt each time if there is much wind. And if there is no wind, they are hurt again, because they have nothing to sell during expensive times. On such windy days as posted above prices are below zero: They pay someone to burn all the power... (see prices e.g. here: http://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/index.php/topic,256.msg15017.html#msg15017 (http://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/index.php/topic,256.msg15017.html#msg15017) )

That is the reason why wind needs subsidies still and that is also the reason, why such subsidies make really sense economically. Therefore, the market needs new rules to prepare for fluctuating renewables in the grid.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on October 28, 2014, 09:28:40 PM
Something weird happened to my comment.

Denmark is exporting wind-electricity at an average cost of 4 euro cents per kWh.  That price will cause NG to stay offline and will undercut some coal.

Wind has very low operating cost.  Wind can sell, without subsidies, for as little as 2c and make some money.  Wind needs a higher average price to be profitable but wind can force other generators to curtail and still do better than breaking even (compared to shutting down).

It costs wind little to run (some extra wear on bearing surfaces) so if there's any money available over fixed operating expenses wind might as well run and accumulate a little toward annual expenses.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on October 29, 2014, 01:18:02 AM
Scientific American: Study of Eastern U.S. Shows Wind Energy Could Stabilize the Grid

Quote
While the study’s results are counterintuitive at first glance, they make sense when you consider the inertia associated with a spinning windmill over 100 feet (30 meters) in diameter in the context of our merry-go-round analogy. While wind turbines might not have electrical energy storage (e.g. batteries), all wind turbines have a significant amount of passive mechanical energy storage in the inertia of their spinning blades. GE and NREL’s study shows that with the right mechanical controls, this inertia can be harnessed to keep the grid’s frequency under control—even in a high wind penetration scenario—disrupting the notion that wind energy will destabilize the grid.
...
GE and NREL’s study shows that the entire eastern U.S. grid could achieve a dramatic increase in wind penetration without suffering any major destabilizing effects, without threatening electric reliability, and without installing any costly energy storage. For now, at least, wind energy’s intermittent nature should not be held up as a barrier to its development.
http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/plugged-in/2014/09/16/study-of-eastern-u-s-shows-wind-energy-could-stabilize-the-grid/ (http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/plugged-in/2014/09/16/study-of-eastern-u-s-shows-wind-energy-could-stabilize-the-grid/)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on October 29, 2014, 03:54:51 AM
Swiss-based group launch new battery technology that they claim will be a breakthrough for storing excess clean energy, and create 2,500 jobs in the US.

Quote
It said its lithium ferrophosphate and graphite batteries would help guarantee an even flow of electricity over the grid, and smooth deployment of wind and solar power.

The battery arrays can run 24/7 and be recharged within 30 minutes, with a lifespan of 40,000 charges. There is a lower fire risk than lithium ion batteries.
http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/oct/28/power-storage-group-alevo-plan-1bn-us-battery-plant (http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/oct/28/power-storage-group-alevo-plan-1bn-us-battery-plant)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: deep octopus on October 29, 2014, 11:06:43 PM
Grid parity is coming to a state near you.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-10-29/while-you-were-getting-worked-up-over-oil-prices-this-just-happened-to-solar.html (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-10-29/while-you-were-getting-worked-up-over-oil-prices-this-just-happened-to-solar.html)

Quote
While You Were Getting Worked Up Over Oil Prices, This Just Happened to Solar

Every time fossil fuels get cheaper, people lose interest in solar deployment. That may be about to change.

After years of struggling against cheap natural gas prices and variable subsidies, solar electricity is on track to be as cheap or cheaper than average electricity-bill prices in 47 U.S. states -- in 2016, according to a Deutsche Bank report published this week. That’s assuming the U.S. maintains its 30 percent tax credit on system costs, which is set to expire that same year.

Even if the tax credit drops to 10 percent, solar will soon reach price parity with conventional electricity in well over half the nation: 36 states. Gone are the days when solar panels were an exotic plaything of Earth-loving rich people. Solar is becoming mainstream, and prices will continue to drop as the technology improves and financing becomes more affordable, according to the report.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on October 31, 2014, 01:06:03 AM
A bunch of positive renewables and fossil-fuel-lessening stories.  Included:  "solar donkeys."

http://www.1010uk.org/itshappening (http://www.1010uk.org/itshappening)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on October 31, 2014, 01:36:15 AM
Quote
India is about to witness a massive scaling up of solar power capacity to 100,000 Mw, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi asking the ministry of new and renewable energy (MNRE) to prepare an action plan by November first week.

Aiming to reach this target in five years, before the next general elections, the government is expediting the work by directing states to identify suitable locations across terrains - deserts, wastelands, national highways, river banks and even over canals (as was done in Gujarat).
http://www.business-standard.com/article/economy-policy/govt-chalks-out-plans-for-massive-solar-power-push-114102800028_1.html (http://www.business-standard.com/article/economy-policy/govt-chalks-out-plans-for-massive-solar-power-push-114102800028_1.html)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on November 02, 2014, 02:04:49 AM
Five towns in Austalia have put their hands up to become the first zero net energy town (ZNET) in the state – and indeed the country.
Quote
It was also encouraging that many small towns had engaged a large part of their population – and community groups – into the idea. Blakester says that once a blueprint is developed for one of the towns, then these could be adapted for other towns in the region and elsewhere in Australia.
http://reneweconomy.com.au/2014/five-nsw-towns-bid-to-be-australias-first-zero-net-energy-town-16968 (http://reneweconomy.com.au/2014/five-nsw-towns-bid-to-be-australias-first-zero-net-energy-town-16968)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on November 06, 2014, 04:43:38 PM
EU to create an interconnecting grid and balance renewables.
Quote
Forty leading organisations from research, industry, utilities and grid operators are combining in a €63 million research programme aimed at incorporating all renewable energies into a supergrid that can balance intermittent sources of electricity and ensure uninterrupted supplies.

It is part of a wider European Union policy to make the 28 states less reliant on imports of power. States along the border with Russia are particularly concerned about over-reliance on gas pipelines from Siberia, which have been turned off periodically in the recent past because of disputes over prices.
http://www.rtcc.org/2014/11/05/eu-plans-power-supergrid-to-boost-renewables (http://www.rtcc.org/2014/11/05/eu-plans-power-supergrid-to-boost-renewables)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on November 07, 2014, 01:47:19 AM
Use the internet?  You're an environmentalist!  (In the U.S., anyway.)

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2014/11/06/like-kite-surfing-the-internet-why-google-microsoft-and-yahoo-are-buying-up-wind-energy/ (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2014/11/06/like-kite-surfing-the-internet-why-google-microsoft-and-yahoo-are-buying-up-wind-energy/)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on November 16, 2014, 09:16:38 PM
The UK tests giant batteries for energy storage.

Quote
Improving the way we store energy is important for the UK’s energy security, as it will allow us to decouple energy generation and its usage. If we can find a better way to store energy it will allow us to save it when it’s generated and use it when it’s required, replacing our current awkward system where generation has to match demand in real time.

The UK’s first two-megawatt (MW) lithium-titanate battery is to be connected to the energy grid as part of a new research project to tackle the challenges of industrial-scale energy storage. The project aims to test the technological and economic challenges of using giant batteries to provide support to the grid. We’ll also test whether used battery packs from electric vehicles can be given a second life, and applied in hybrid systems to lower the cost of storage.
http://www.theguardian.com/big-energy-debate/2014/nov/14/giant-batteries-connected-to-the-grid-the-future-of-energy-storage (http://www.theguardian.com/big-energy-debate/2014/nov/14/giant-batteries-connected-to-the-grid-the-future-of-energy-storage)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on November 18, 2014, 11:59:46 AM
Huge solar thermal plant in California is not quite ready for prime time.  But documents show a learning curve was expected.
Quote
Holland said the company always expected a ramp-up period of four years to reach maximum output. That extended period was not publicly disclosed, however. Holland said it is outlined in confidential agreements with two California utilities buying the power, Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas and Electric Co.

Brightsource said on its website that the weather has generally been substantially worse than historical averages - in other words, cloudy - resulting in reduced output in certain months.

"We remain confident that over time the sun at Ivanpah will be more than sufficient for the plant to meet its expected performance targets," the statement said.
http://m.apnews.com/ap/db_289563/contentdetail.htm?contentguid=LquqP5en (http://m.apnews.com/ap/db_289563/contentdetail.htm?contentguid=LquqP5en)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on November 21, 2014, 04:31:12 PM
Quote
LOW AUCTION BID PRICES SHOW SOLAR CHEAPER THAN COAL IN INDIA

NEW DELHI: India’s fast-expanding solar industry has received another shot in the arm with the news that a recent solar auction has resulted in remarkably low-price bids.

Bid prices for an auction of 500-MW grid-connected solar projects that took place in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh last month reached new lows, signaling a shift in the energy market to solar.

An oversubscribed 63 bids totaling 1,291 MW were proposed in the auction. According to Indian newspaper Business Line, First Solar, a US-based solar module manufacturer, submitted the cheapest bids of all, quoting INR 5.25 (just over US$0.08) per kWh for 40 MW.

LOW COST SOLAR

These low bids show large-scale solar is slipping further down the price-ladder and is now below the price needed to make coal imports economically viable, which means power generation from solar plants in India is now cheaper than indigenous or imported coal.
http://www.theclimategroup.org/what-we-do/news-and-blogs/low-auction-bid-prices-show-solar-cheaper-than-coal-in-india/ (http://www.theclimategroup.org/what-we-do/news-and-blogs/low-auction-bid-prices-show-solar-cheaper-than-coal-in-india/)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on November 21, 2014, 05:33:46 PM
Large US energy company sets greener goals, pushes renewables and CCS:
Quote
On Thursday, one of the country’s leading energy companies announced new goals aimed at subtantially cutting carbon emissions over the next several decades. NRG Energy, a massive enterprise with over 100 power plants situated primarily across the Northeast, set a target of cutting its carbon emissions 50 percent by 2030 and 90 percent by 2050.
...
While NRG is pushing renewables hard, to accomplish these objectives the company is also banking on cost-effective carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) for its emissions-intensive coal-fired power plants as well as new natural gas generation coming online. According to a ThinkProgress review of NRG’s assets, the company has 21 coal-fired power plants in the U.S. and around 100 more split between oil and gas. The company also has about 30 wind-power plants and five solar plants totaling close to 2,300 megawatts.

“I would hate to see the country sort of turn its back on coal,” Crane told the New York Times. “I think we, alone or with the Chinese, have to direct our attention to capturing the carbon. ”
http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/11/21/3594916/nrg-groundbreaking-emissions-cuts-power-plants/ (http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/11/21/3594916/nrg-groundbreaking-emissions-cuts-power-plants/)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on November 21, 2014, 06:24:05 PM
Quote
Ikea plans to invest a total of $1.9 billion in wind and solar power by the end of 2015.

Ikea will continue purchasing power plants to meet its goal of producing as much renewable energy as it uses globally by 2020, Rob Olson, the acting president and chief financial officer of Ikea’s U.S. unit, said in an interview.

“We see the need to offset our energy usage,” said Olson. He expects the project to deliver a positive return. “Whenever we do investments, we also evaluate the return. That’s part of being a sustainable business.”
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-11-18/ikea-buys-second-u-s-wind-farm-plans-more-in-renewables-push.html (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-11-18/ikea-buys-second-u-s-wind-farm-plans-more-in-renewables-push.html)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on November 21, 2014, 07:45:44 PM
UN report maps out Decarbonization plan for the U.S.
Quote
The U.S. can reach the “[80% by 2050]” goal in many different ways, the net costs of which would be roughly 1 percent of U.S. gross domestic product per year.
http://www.climatecentral.org/news/report-maps-out-decarbonization-plan-for-u.s-18362 (http://www.climatecentral.org/news/report-maps-out-decarbonization-plan-for-u.s-18362)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on November 25, 2014, 08:33:16 AM
Quote
The cost of oil, coal and gas has steadily climbed in past years, but the major change is caused by the price of renewables, which has dropped at a fantastic rate. In some markets in the US, the tipping point where the price of renewable energy equals that of conventional energy has already been reached. This was made possible by subsidies which may or may not be continued, but recent analyses conclude that even without those subsidies, alternative energy can often compete.

Texas, one of the biggest oil producers in the States, has developed a deal which will provide 20 years of output from a solar farm at less than 5 cents a kilowatt-hour. In September, the Grand River Dam Authority in Oklahoma announced its approval of a new agreement to buy power from a new wind farm expected to be completed next year. It’s like Christmas for wind energy – everywhere you go, it’s there, and it’s cheap.

“Wind was on sale — it was a Blue Light Special,” said Jay Godfrey, managing director of renewable energy for the company. He noted that Oklahoma, unlike many states, did not require utilities to buy power from renewable sources. “We were doing it because it made sense for our ratepayers,” he said.
But how low are prices actually going at a national level? A new analysis conducted by the investment banking firm Lazard showed that with subsidies, solar energy costs on average 5.6 cents a kilowatt-hour, and wind is as low as 1.4 cents. Just so you can get an idea, the cost of energy from natural gas is 6.1 cents a kilowatt-hour on the low end and coal comes at 6.6 cents. But even without subsidies, wind is really cheap. Without subsidies, solar comes in at 7.2 cents a kilowatt-hour at the low end, with wind at 3.7 cents – competitive to say the least.

“It is really quite notable, when compared to where we were just five years ago, to see the decline in the cost of these technologies,” said Jonathan Mir, a managing director at Lazard, which has been comparing the economics of power generation technologies since 2008.

http://www.zmescience.com/ecology/renewable-energy-ecology/solar-wind-energy-usa-24112014/ (http://www.zmescience.com/ecology/renewable-energy-ecology/solar-wind-energy-usa-24112014/)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on November 29, 2014, 03:03:48 AM
Storing energy in molten aluminum.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-11-27/molten-aluminum-lakes-offer-power-storage-for-german-wind-farms.html (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-11-27/molten-aluminum-lakes-offer-power-storage-for-german-wind-farms.html)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on November 29, 2014, 03:22:23 AM
Molten aluminum tanks was where Sadoway got his inspiration for liquid metal batteries.  His company, Ambri, is currently testing prototypes on line while developing a factory for production - last I heard.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Laurent on November 29, 2014, 01:01:29 PM
India shines with renewable energy announcement
http://wwf.panda.org/?uNewsID=234271 (http://wwf.panda.org/?uNewsID=234271)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on November 30, 2014, 01:25:55 AM

Dubai just received bid for a new solar far - 25 year PPA contracts.  The low bid was 5.98 cents/kWh and the runner up was 6.13.  These are non-subsidized prices.

Best US PPAs have been just under 5 cents/kWh but come out close to 6.5 once subsidies are removed.

http://cleantechnica.com/2014/11/29/dubai-shatters-solar-tariff-records-worldwide-lowest-ever/ (http://cleantechnica.com/2014/11/29/dubai-shatters-solar-tariff-records-worldwide-lowest-ever/)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: crandles on November 30, 2014, 02:00:44 AM
There is also mention of a 5.4cent/KWh bid in that article for a larger quantity than was being asked for.

Just 5 days after the last article quoting 7.2cent/KWh as the lowest unsubsidised price, that is quite a rate of decline.  ;)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on November 30, 2014, 08:46:19 AM
Utility scale PV solar is likely to move into the second least expensive slot for electricity production very soon.  US onshore wind is at 4 cents (no subsidy).  If Dubai can do 5-6 cents the US can as well.

That's cheaper than everything else (a new:new comparison).

With solar and wind falling below 5c/kWh, avg, coal and nuclear are going to have a hell of a time staying in business in open markets.  Wind is already tearing apart their late night pricing, forcing thermal plants to sell at no profits, even loose some money.  Now solar will start taking away a lot of their most profitable hours. 

And storage seems to be coming on strong.  EOS Energy's zinc-air battery can probably take some of the morning and evening business away from fossil fuels if they have to price above 10 c/kWh in order to recoup their losses.  It looks like EOS will be able to sell 4c electricity for about 9c if it can cycle, on average, 1x per day.

The more wind, solar and storage eat into thermal profits, the higher their selling prices  have to rise.  We could be a only a few years from a wind/solar/storage/NG grid.  (With some hydro, geothermal, biofuel thrown into the mix.)  At least a grid that was clearly headed that way, working it's way through the remaining coal plants.  (Can't close them until there is adequate replacement generation.)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on November 30, 2014, 06:05:13 PM
Bob,

I face the risk that I bore you by repeating myself, but I have to give this statement as a warning again, since nothing is more dangerous than risking the transition to renewables by ignoring the obvious problems and causing disappointments in the population. That will make poeple turn away from the renewables future.

Wind and solar will not be competitive on the grid without a very good grid. Even the modern grid in Europe is not sufficient for that (no chance in e.g. US). Cheap storage could also be a solution but that is not present today (or in 10 years) and will be much more expensive than expanding the grid.

Wind and solar are competitive only for privat use (cheaper than electricity bought including all the taxes and grid prices) or in the case, that renewables are not significantly present in the grid (e.g. less than 25% mean).

Why can wind and PV not be competitive and will not pay the investions back without subsidies? Because we have a free market and the prices for electricity are derived from a supply and demand on hourly basis. If wind is blowing or sun is shining the prices for electricty on the spot market will be 0-4 ct/ kWh - it will not be enough to pay investions back and can never be due to the simple math of the market. If there is no sun nor wind the prices will be high - but you can not sell any electricity for that higher prices because there is no wind nor sun. Thus we need either subsidies or a drastically improved grid enabling long range transport of hugh powers from windy/sunny areas to dark regions without wind to solve this problem.

Without such massive investments in infrastructure the present "tipping of renewables" will not help much. And please do not hope for electrical batteries in cars and such - it is a tiny amount (less than 6h storage, after which all batteries will be empty) and way to expensive, since even a 100$/kWh battery with about 2,000 cycles in its life-time would add 5ct/kWh to the costs... 

So the grid is the thing to put all the billions in today, because that pays off the fastest. All the good news about falling prices are really very good - but it will not help us much if not backed up by poeples efforts like subsidies or investments or change of life-style and such. The rescue will never come for free or by itself, "the market" or such hopes.

Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on December 01, 2014, 12:39:56 AM
I'm finding myself in disagreement with just about everything you wrote.

With wind now at 4c and solar at 7c - unsubsidized - in the US they are now almost as cheap or cheaper than all other new generation.  If you add in the external costs of fossil fuels wind and solar are massively cheaper.  (Dubai is now contracting solar for under 6c which in the US would be the second cheapest source of new electricity.)

Wind and solar can be about as cheap to install in all countries.  Everyone can buy the hardware for the same price and few places have higher labor costs than the US.

Wind and solar are what they are.  The grid is what it is.  We will need more long distance transmission  (in the US, Europe, China and probably other places) to bring costs down as possible but that will be built as economics deem it desirable.  (Remember, we're talking a 20 to 40 year project to transform our grids.)

Affordable storage is already here.  Cheaper storage seems to be about here, we should know in the next year or two.  And there's a long line of storage technologies lining up behind the ones being prototyped and tested now.

"Why can wind and PV not be competitive and will not pay the investions back without subsidies?"

Wind, without subsidies, is now our cheapest way to bring new capacity on line.  Solar, without subsidies, is only a penny or so more expensive than CCNG and coal.  And that's not considering the high external costs of fossil fuels.

Do not forget - All things wear out.  We will be replacing all our current coal and nuclear plants over the next 40 years or so.  That is money we will spend.  It is much cheaper to replace with renewables and storage than with coal.

The change is coming.  It's now being driven by the market.  Utilities are signing wind and solar PPAs because that power is cheaper than fossil fuel power and protects them from market fluctuations.  Utilities are starting to replace gas peakers and "spinning reserve" with batteries because batteries are cheaper.

Letting the market control the rate of transition is too big a risk.  The rate of change may not be fast enough.  We would be well advised, IMHO, to pour some catalyst (subsidy money) into the reaction to speed things along.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on December 01, 2014, 01:22:24 AM
From Climate Reality's 24 Hours of Reality, 24 Reasons for Hope:  The Electric Grid is Evolving.

http://climaterealityproject.org/blog/electric-grid-evolving (http://climaterealityproject.org/blog/electric-grid-evolving)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on December 01, 2014, 01:24:52 AM
The world's largest solar plant is up and running on nine million solar panels covering 9.5 square miles of California's Carrizo Plain.
http://www.engadget.com/2014/11/28/topaz-solar-power-plant/ (http://www.engadget.com/2014/11/28/topaz-solar-power-plant/)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on December 01, 2014, 12:57:59 PM
Another one bites the coal: One of our "big for" electric utility companies E.ON plans to concentrate on renewables, grid and customer solutions and prepares to sell the old stuff: Coal and gas and nuclear.

German: http://www.zeit.de/wirtschaft/unternehmen/2014-12/eon-energiekonzern-umbauplaene-energiewende (http://www.zeit.de/wirtschaft/unternehmen/2014-12/eon-energiekonzern-umbauplaene-energiewende)

the Source: http://www.eon.com/en.html (http://www.eon.com/en.html)
"Our new strategy: Empowering customers. Shaping markets.

E.ON will focus on renewables, distribution networks, and customer solutions. Its conventional generation, global energy trading, and exploration and production businesses will be combined in a new, independent company."
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on December 01, 2014, 05:01:24 PM
Here's the article in The Guardian.
Quote
Germany’s biggest utility firm, E.ON, has announced plans to split in two and spin off most of its power generation, energy trading and upstream businesses, responding to a crisis that has crippled the European energy sector.

E.ON said it wanted to focus on its renewable activities, regulated distribution networks and tailor-made energy efficiency services, citing “dramatically altered global energy markets, technical innovation, and more diverse customer expectations”.

“E.ON’s existing broad business model can no longer properly address these new challenges,” the chief executive, Johannes Teyssen, said in a statement.

Germany’s power sector has been in turmoil, hit by a prolonged period of weak demand, low wholesale prices and a surge in renewable energy sources which continue to replace gas-fired and coal-fired power plants.

E.ON said it would prepare next year for the listing of the new company created by its breakup, with the spin-off taking place after its 2016 annual general meeting.

The split will not be accompanied by job cuts, E.ON said, adding that about 40,000 employees would remain with the parent group, while the remaining 20,000 would join the new company.
http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/dec/01/eon-splits-energy-renewables (http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/dec/01/eon-splits-energy-renewables)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on December 01, 2014, 05:04:28 PM
And from Bloomberg:
Quote
“We are the first to resolutely draw the conclusion from the change of the energy world,” Teyssen told reporters in Dusseldorf today. “We’re convinced that energy companies will have to focus on one of the two energy worlds if they want to be successful.”
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-11-30/eon-banks-on-renewables-with-plan-to-spin-off-conventional-power.html (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-11-30/eon-banks-on-renewables-with-plan-to-spin-off-conventional-power.html)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on December 02, 2014, 02:28:16 AM
Meanwhile, in Florida ("the sunshine state"), regulators vote to gut the state's energy efficiency plans and cease supporting rooftop solar.    :(

http://cleantechnica.com/2014/11/30/florida-gutting-energy-efficiency-goals-terminating-solar-power-rebates/ (http://cleantechnica.com/2014/11/30/florida-gutting-energy-efficiency-goals-terminating-solar-power-rebates/)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: oren on December 02, 2014, 07:32:39 AM
So a (stupid) question for Bob and all. When comparing costs per kwh for wind, solar, NG etc., how is this calculated? Considering solar and wind can only run during parts of the day/year, depending on sunlight and weather, what is the methodology of the calculation?
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on December 02, 2014, 09:20:18 AM
Nothing stupid about the question.  And the answer is complicated.

The general metric used to price out various systems is the Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE).  To calculate a LCOE you take the installed cost (which may include both capital costs and financing costs during construction), capacity factor,  operating costs including fuel if needed, the heat loss rate, the financing cost (years and rate).  That gets cranked through a formula. 

Easy way to calculate a LCOE is by using a online calculator like this one -

http://www.nrel.gov/analysis/tech_lcoe.html (http://www.nrel.gov/analysis/tech_lcoe.html)

You can find definitions for all the stuff I listed on the page.

Then there's a second way to figure price.  Use real world reported prices.

Then, when you have some prices that you think are pretty accurate they have to be filtered through several layers. 

Time of delivery can impact the value of a particular source.   While solar might be a little higher than another source solar is generally more valuable because it produces when demand is high.  Nuclear, however, might be a bit less valuable since it runs 24 hours a day.  If you have plenty late night capacity adding some new (kind of expensive) nuclear might cause you to have to pass on some cheaper wind and raise your overall cost.

Dispatchability, the ability to turn on or off quickly, makes power more valuable.  Natural gas and hydro are more valuable because they can be brought on line quickly when more power is needed.  Wind and solar can't be turned on 'at will'.  Coal and nuclear take a long time to turn on and off.

Then there are other issues.  If you're considering adding wind, solar, coal or nuclear do you have enough storage and backup capacity to cover this new addition?  Or will there be additional expense?  How about transmission costs?

I'll put this up and continue...
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on December 02, 2014, 09:33:26 AM
Wind, solar and stuff.  I'm going to put up some prices and their sources...

Quote
Wind = $0.025/kWh average 2013 PPA (subsidized). 

DOE "2013 Wind Technologies Market Report"

http://energy.gov/eere/wind/downloads/2013-wind-technologies-market-report (http://energy.gov/eere/wind/downloads/2013-wind-technologies-market-report)

Solar = $0.05/kWh PPAs (subsidized) being signed in the US Southwest.  Working backwards through a LCOE calculation extrapolates a cost of about $0.02 higher for the less sunny Northeast.

 Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory entitled “Utility-Scale Solar 2012: An Empirical Analysis of Project Cost, Performance, and Pricing Trends in the United States”

http://emp.lbl.gov/publications/utility-scale-solar-2012-empirical-analysis-project-cost-performance-and-pricing-trends (http://emp.lbl.gov/publications/utility-scale-solar-2012-empirical-analysis-project-cost-performance-and-pricing-trends)

http://reneweconomy.com.au/2013/big-solar-now-competing-with-wind-energy-on-costs-75962 (http://reneweconomy.com.au/2013/big-solar-now-competing-with-wind-energy-on-costs-75962)

PPA prices for wind and solar are lowered about 1.5 cents by PTC (Production Tax Credits).  Both wind and solar are eligible for 2.3 cent/kWh tax credits for each kWh produced during their first ten years of operation.  Half of 2.3 is 1.15, but getting ones money early has value.  That means that the non-subsidized costs of wind are a bit under 4 cents and solar is running 6.5 to 8.5 cents/kWh.

http://energy.gov/savings/renewable-electricity-production-tax-credit-ptc (http://energy.gov/savings/renewable-electricity-production-tax-credit-ptc)

An analysis of the Vogtle reactor costs by Citigroup in early 2014 found the LCOE for electricity from those reactors will cost 11 cents per kWh (subsidized).  That is assuming no further cost/timeline overruns.

They also stated that reactors build after the Vogtle units would likely produce more expensive electricity as they would not be able to receive the low financing rates as Vogtle has obtained.

http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/citigroup-says-the-age-of-renewables-has-begun (http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/citigroup-says-the-age-of-renewables-has-begun)

Summary version...

Quote
Wind 4c/kWh
Solar 7.5c/kWh
CCNG 6.2c/kWh
Nuclear 11c/kWh

Notice coal isn't included.  We're done building coal in the US.  I've removed the wind and solar subsidies.  The nuclear price includes subsidies (the price is higher than 11c).

OK, let's see what it would cost (very rough math) to run a wind/solar/CCNG grid vs. a nuclear/CCNG grid.  Or to run the "baseload", the part no larger than the annual daily minimum demand.

I'm going to assume wind would provide about 40% of our power, solar about 30% and we'd use 30% NG for fill-in.  In the nuclear case I'll use 90% nuclear and 10% NG.

Wind/solar/NG
0.4 * 4c + 0.3 * 7.5c + 0.3 * 6.2c = 5.7c/kWh

Nuclear/NG
0.9 * 11c + 0.1 * 6.2c = 10.5c/kWh

Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on December 02, 2014, 09:47:39 AM
Here's some recent LCOE numbers from Lazard -

(https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi619.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Ftt275%2FBob_Wall%2Funnamed.jpg&hash=fbe6f92be754d180e5e5b835955d4e76) (http://s619.photobucket.com/user/Bob_Wall/media/unnamed.jpg.html)

Wind is now our least expensive generator.  Solar is hitting the 6 cent point and working its way into the second least expensive slot.

Of course efficiency is the real bargain...
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on December 02, 2014, 10:14:12 AM
I'm finding myself in disagreement with just about everything you wrote.
Bob, since we are talking here not about opinions but about facts and planning we have to work this out. This is about reasoning, simple math and preconditions. So there could be a difference in the preconditions or one of us (or both) made some error in the calculations. So it is worth the effort to track that error to improve our calculations to enable better planning.

Concerning preconditions I repeat myself to be sure we are talking about the same thing here:
Wind and solar are competitive only for privat use (cheaper than electricity bought including all the taxes and grid prices) or in the case, that renewables are not significantly present in the grid (e.g. less than 25% mean).

I think we can probably agree on the cost for installation of renewables (basically investment costs devided by life-time) and the number of kWh produced during life-time (there are maps showing the wind & sun for each reagion available and knowing the angle of the PV or the heigth of the hub you know average production during life-time at your place).

So I believe we have different opinions about the market: For which price can you sell your renewables power e.g. at EEX? (If you know an other market with >25% renewables I would be glad to learn about it).

For Germany that data is available in conventient presentations here: http://www.ise.fraunhofer.de/en/renewable-energy-data/electricity-production-data (http://www.ise.fraunhofer.de/en/renewable-energy-data/electricity-production-data)

Let us look in a month (April 2014) and a single week (week 11 in 2014) of electricity production and the prices at the market (pictures attached, so log in to see it):
You see, that the prices vary between e.g. 2 and>5 ct/kWh (20-50 €/MWh: Right axis of the graphs: You need to use the slider under the picture to see that). But if there is wind and sun the prices are well below 4 ct/kWh. So the average price you will earn with your PV will be much less than the average price you will earn e.g. by burning coal. And this will get more extreme if the long-range grid is not growing as fast as renewables installations. Do you see what I try to explain? Without a guaranteed price you will never invest in a turbine to sell the power at EEX...
 
edit: Even more convinient you may look at the power generation and the prices on the web here: https://www.energy-charts.de/index.htm (https://www.energy-charts.de/index.htm)
 
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: crandles on December 02, 2014, 12:39:07 PM

You see, that the prices vary between e.g. 2 and>5 ct/kWh (20-50 €/MWh: Right axis of the graphs:

If everyone was selling all their electric production at those prices then everyone bar wind would be losing money according to Bob figures. Therefore, I would suspect that little electric production is sold though that spot market. Producers could well be selling what they can guarantee to have available at higher prices and only sell surpluses through that spot market.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on December 02, 2014, 12:56:11 PM

You see, that the prices vary between e.g. 2 and>5 ct/kWh (20-50 €/MWh: Right axis of the graphs:

If everyone was selling all their electric production at those prices then everyone bar wind would be losing money according to Bob figures. Therefore, I would suspect that little electric production is sold though that spot market. Producers could well be selling what they can guarantee to have available at higher prices and only sell surpluses through that spot market.
Crandles, in Germany all power from PV and wind is sold via that spot market. But there are subsidies (EEG): Poeple get fixed price (the older the installation, the more) and the electricity is sold on the spot market. And renewables will allways be sold first by law, because there are no running costs. The difference (between that fixed price for producer and the price on the spot market) is put on the prices for end users.

But without subsidies you can only get money with PV or wind if you are the only one.  Once a lot of poeple do the same the price is dead. I guess in 10 years it will be similar in US and elsewhere - so please calulate in such a way, that you have your investments back before that date...

And Crandles, pardon me: "Producers could well be selling what they can guarantee to have available at higher prices" with PV on your roof, what are you going to guarantee? That is the heart of the problems with renewables: You need a big long grid to get all power to places far away and next day you let it flow reverse.

edit: The volume of trading at the spot market is on the bottom side of the picture, e.g. in April >20 TWh day ahead and >1.6 TWh intraday.
And here trend of the monthly volume (source again http://www.ise.fraunhofer.de/en/renewable-energy-data/electricity-production-data (http://www.ise.fraunhofer.de/en/renewable-energy-data/electricity-production-data) ) in attached picture:
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: crandles on December 02, 2014, 01:49:53 PM
Thanks for filling in the picture re use of that market.

(BTW I thought you had accepted that "Wind and solar are competitive for private use" so the discussion was about what price a solar farm perhaps in a desert like near Dubai or in Sahara would produce so it would be possible to guarantee some production. For the odd sandstorm you may have to buy some on the spot market.)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on December 02, 2014, 01:51:43 PM
Private use is different since the price is way larger at your home. E.g. 30 ct/kWh after grid & taxes & someones profit & EEG-subvention...

And here a final word about production vs. spot market price in Germany: Renewables are always used in the grid. The conventional power generation is tuned to meet demand. From the attached picture you may see how conventional producers react to the prices and you may guess their running cost from that picture.

You see, that this is only true for gas (>5 ct/kWh) and hard coal (>3 ct/kWh). The installed nuclear basis ist not designed to be tuned - so they produce also for negative costs (they pay that someone takes that power). Brown coal is only be tuned to 50% below 1 ct/kWh. 

What does it tell us? The market is not properly designed for renewables yet. So some work is underway to prepare for that. Please do not dream that "the market will do it". The market is a tool we did design for some purpose. Now the purpose needs to be changed and we need to set up new market rules until that tool fits the new goal. Please forget the ideology - it is all just business made to serve us.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: icefest on December 02, 2014, 02:10:12 PM
How does storage fit in the picture, SATire?
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on December 02, 2014, 09:11:39 PM
How fast will solar grow?
Quote
Even Greenpeace has underestimated the growth of renewables.  In particular, solar has been growing exponentially, and may continue to be so for a while, though likely at a slower percentage rate.
...
Nevertheless exponential growth inevitably runs into limits as some stage.  This is captured by the classic fable of grains of rice on a chessboard, where one grain is put on the first square, two on the second, four on the third, eight on the fourth and so on, doubling with each square.  Half way through the chessboard the pile of grains, though very large, is manageable – around 50 tonnes for the 32nd square.  However amounts then quickly begin to go beyond all reasonable physical constraints.  The pile on the final square would contain 263 grains of rice, which is about 230 billion tonnes.  This is about 300 times annual global production, and enough to cover not just a square of the chessboard but the entire land surface of the earth (to a depth of about a millimetre or two).

Extrapolating growth rates for solar PV from the period 2000 to 2013, when cumulative installed capacity doubled every two years, runs into similar limits.  At this growth rate the entire surface of the earth would be covered with solar panels before 2050.  This would provide far more energy than human civilisation would need, if there were room for any people, which there would not be because of all the solar panels.   So are there constraints that imply that renewables are now in second half of the chessboard – or, if you prefer a more conventional model, the linear part of an s-curve for technology adoption?
http://theenergycollective.com/onclimatechangepolicy/2164071/grains-rice-japanese-swords-and-solar-panels (http://theenergycollective.com/onclimatechangepolicy/2164071/grains-rice-japanese-swords-and-solar-panels)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on December 02, 2014, 09:24:51 PM
Quote
Worldwide, governments, companies and families could be saving trillions of dollars by improving efficiency with cars that go farther on less fuel and improved appliances, light bulbs and factories, experts say.
...
Some also argue that making energy cheaper by reducing demand just leads consumers to use more, a phenomenon called the rebound effect. Steven Nadel, executive director of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, said the effect was real but relatively modest, with about 20 percent of saved energy in developed countries being used as a result.
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/01/business/energy-environment/energy-efficiency-may-be-the-key-to-saving-trillions.html (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/01/business/energy-environment/energy-efficiency-may-be-the-key-to-saving-trillions.html)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on December 02, 2014, 10:30:16 PM
How does storage fit in the picture, SATire?
icefest, in Germany pumped-storage hydropower is used for storage to bridge the gaps in the morning and in the evening: 40 GWh capacity with 7 GW power for about 4-8h time to bridge some part of the demand at ~70% efficiency.

Some poeple talk about car batteries for storage - but that is actually nonsense. Today such electrical battery can be used for 1,500 cycles - it would be a pitty to put a single electron into the grid at such costs (>>5 ct/kWh only due to the battery storage). But batteries make sense for private use because it is competitive compared to the price for electricty bought from the grid after tax and such. Such storage can make your home completely independent from CO2 emissions and you may use your home made PV power - ask Neven how much fun that is. 

In future, when we want to have >80% renewables in the grid that storage will be essential. Possible today are powerlines to hydro-places like Norway - I explained that above: http://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/index.php/topic,256.msg18176.html#msg18176 (http://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/index.php/topic,256.msg18176.html#msg18176)
Next storage technology is power-to-gas possibly: Convert electric power by electrolysis to Hydrogen or with some CO2 from combustion to methane. But that is a future dream since it is only in prototype stage today (e.g. the Audi plant with 6 MW, http://www.etogas.com/ (http://www.etogas.com/) ). Redox-flow batteries in Japan are at a similar stage. Maybe in 10-20 years such technology or another one may come close to hydro power storage. But today the most promising and most efficient technology are power lines bridging regions with wind/sun with regions without. Powerlines are allways more efficent than storage. Only pricate use or isolated places are exeptions, where batteries make some sense.

The next thing is to consider tuning the demand: In a >50% renewables grid it makes a lot of sense to run e.g. the aluminum production or such on the weekend, in the night or during sunny noon... Please take a look at todays graphs of power production and you can easily see how to act.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Neven on December 02, 2014, 11:22:51 PM
Such storage can make your home completely independent from CO2 emissions and you may use your home made PV power - ask Neven how much fun that is. 

(https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fal-murphy.com%2Fmceuploads%2Fpersonal%2Ffun_in_sun.jpg&hash=420f52420cd9bd27c5f525a4da377c31)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on December 03, 2014, 02:45:24 AM
Quote
A new world record for the conversion of sunlight into electricity has been established in Europe, after a multi-junction solar cell developed through a French-German collaboration achieved 46 per cent efficiency – up from 43.6%.
http://reneweconomy.com.au/2014/new-world-record-for-solar-cell-efficiency-set-at-46-73582 (http://reneweconomy.com.au/2014/new-world-record-for-solar-cell-efficiency-set-at-46-73582)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on December 03, 2014, 03:16:32 AM

Bob, since we are talking here not about opinions but about facts and planning we have to work this out. This is about reasoning, simple math and preconditions. So there could be a difference in the preconditions or one of us (or both) made some error in the calculations. So it is worth the effort to track that error to improve our calculations to enable better planning.


I gave you US prices and the latest Lazard LCOE for all electricity sources.  I don't see any sense in trying to do our own calculations when we have  both real world and high quality LCOEs.





Quote

Wind and solar are competitive only for privat use (cheaper than electricity bought including all the taxes and grid prices) or in the case, that renewables are not significantly present in the grid (e.g. less than 25% mean).

I really don't know what that means.  Clearly grids all around the world are incorporating wind and solar as part of their energy mixes.  We have US states that now get more than 25% of their electricity from wind.  The fact that more places don't get more than 25% from wind/solar is simply a matter of not enough installation time has yet passed. 

Actually, after checking Denmark got 33% of  its electricity from wind in 2013 and 41% during the first half of 2014.

Now please don't spin that into "Bob's talking about a 100% wind and solar grid" - I've said nor implied nothing of the sort.

Quote
So I believe we have different opinions about the market: For which price can you sell your renewables power e.g. at EEX? (If you know an other market with >25% renewables I would be glad to learn about it).

I gave prices earlier.  Reply #549. 

Denmark.

Quote
Do you see what I try to explain? Without a guaranteed price you will never invest in a turbine to sell the power at EEX...

It is true that in the US we do not have any "merchant" wind or solar farms.  Those are generators who go to the market to sell 15 minutes blocks of power.  All our wind and solar (except end-user produced) is pre-sold in a contract called a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA).

Apparently because wholesale prices are high in Chile a large solar farm is coming on line as a merchant source.

I'm not sure what it matters whether power is sold on or off contract.  Contracts protect both parties and utilities are signing PPAs for solar to protect them from fluctuating natural gas prices.

I can see how it would make sense to do a PPA with a gas peaker plant.  Guarantee a payment that would cover fixed expenses along with a per kWh payment that would cover fuel and 'wear and tear'.  That way the gas plant stays in business and makes some money even if the plant doesn't run.

Actually, we already do that with "capacity contracts", not that I think of it.  We basically pay plants to "be there" in case we need them.  Exelon recently tried to get capacity payments for its reactors that are losing money.  Unfortunately for them, they were turned down.

Now, did I cover your issues?  If not, get back to me.  And how about we take on one topic and work it through rather that trying to deal will multiple issues at the same time?
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on December 03, 2014, 03:36:41 AM
Quote
If everyone was selling all their electric production at those prices then everyone bar wind would be losing money according to Bob figures.

If we had a free market working then when the wind was blowing it would push all other generation off.  Except solar which while it has a higher LCOE it also has zero fuel costs and slightly lower operating costs.  Making a penny over costs is better than making no penny.

The wind doesn't blow all the time and the Sun doesn't shine all the time.  When there's not enough wind and solar input there's opportunity for other generation/storage.

To the extent that there was any nuclear, and possibly coal, those hard to stop and start thermal plants would sell for a price below the wind and solar minimum, take their loss, and hope to make it up later.

Gas and hydro are dispatchable.  They would simply shut down and save fuel/water.

--

The future in my crystal ball...

It seems extremely likely that wind and solar will rule.  (Perhaps tidal and wave will join them in second place - higher opex.)  The rest of the market will be divided up among the sources which can provide fill-in for the lowest cost.

I'm guessing the order would be right now 1) already built hydro, 2) CCNG, 3) storage.  Obviously hydro would grab all the market if there were enough of it, but there isn't so NG is selling a lot of fill-in.  Storage is starting to take a little of the market away from NG and lots of people expect storage to keep eating away at the NG share.  Over time storage is likely to push NG into a deep backup role.  For the few hours a year which are not affordably handled by storage.

Notice the lack of thermal plants?
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on December 03, 2014, 10:21:55 AM
Now, did I cover your issues?  If not, get back to me.  And how about we take on one topic and work it through rather that trying to deal will multiple issues at the same time?
Hi Bob - no, I am not through that. By far not, because such market systems are complicated and very different at different places. You explained well how to calculate the cost using some formulars and data. But I could not get it how you determine the prices you get if you sell your electricity to the grid at your place. I guess you need a good idea of both numbers and also a good projection for the life-time of your plant before you do the investment and put some PV on your roof.

You mentioned Denmark: They pioneered renewables and managed to stay ahead and do very well. Of course they pay the price for that - Denmark is the only place in Europe where electricity is more expensive for privat end users than in Germany.
In Denmark they use the bonus system: If you sell your home made electricity you get the market price plus a bonus of several ct/kWh you delivered to the grid. So as in Germany that is not a market where renewables are competitive without subsidies (So my statement above still holds: Renewables in larger amount are not and will not be competitive in the grid without subsidies).
The market in Denmark is joined with Norway, Sweeden, Finland and Lithuania in Nord Pool: http://www.nordpoolspot.com/Market-data1/Elspot/Area-Prices/ALL1/Hourly/?view=table (http://www.nordpoolspot.com/Market-data1/Elspot/Area-Prices/ALL1/Hourly/?view=table)
I do not see big problems for Scandinavia to go ahead to even 100% renewables: With Norways close to 100% hydro that market will surely be able to buffer even several winter weeks without wind and sun. Furthermore, those reasonable societies are used to good regulation and will continue to try hard to have both a high quality supply and to fight climate change. I would consider them as ideal example. 

I believe in USA the reference in terms of renewables could be California: http://www.caiso.com/Pages/TodaysOutlook.aspx (http://www.caiso.com/Pages/TodaysOutlook.aspx)
But I do not know how they determine the selling price there and how the conventional power plants react: Is the behaviour as one would expect according to the costs you calculated above? Can/do they tune nuclear?
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on December 04, 2014, 12:06:03 AM
Quote
I guess you need a good idea of both numbers and also a good projection for the life-time of your plant before you do the investment and put some PV on your roof.

I didn't deal with end-user solar.  That's not how utilities purchase energy.  (BTW, I've had panels in my yard for over 20 years.  I've been off the grid for over 25 years.)

Quote
- Denmark is the only place in Europe where electricity is more expensive for privat end users than in Germany.

Danish and German retail electricity prices are high due to taxes, not the cost of electricity.  Best to use wholesale electricity prices when making comparisons.

I don't have wholesale prices but I can show you the price charged medium sized industries in the EU.  You'll notice that both Germany and Denmark are lower than the EU 27 average.

(https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi619.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Ftt275%2FBob_Wall%2F2014-11-26_112821.png&hash=47bfc262fd02f6f255ce58073f177246) (http://s619.photobucket.com/user/Bob_Wall/media/2014-11-26_112821.png.html)

Quote
. So as in Germany that is not a market where renewables are competitive without subsidies

As Germany has added renewables to their grid their wholesale cost of electricity has fallen.  Yes, it took FiT systems up front to get the German solar industry started, but now solar has matured to the point where support is basically not needed.  Don't make the mistake of comparing the cost of new wind or new solar with paid off coal or nuclear.  New:new is the proper comparison.

If renewables are not competitve then you need to explain why Germany wholesale prices have been dropping...

(https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi619.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Ftt275%2FBob_Wall%2FGermanWholesaleElectricityPrices.png&hash=97b0fe9ebc918dd99d38c427295073ba) (http://s619.photobucket.com/user/Bob_Wall/media/GermanWholesaleElectricityPrices.png.html)

And why solar has knocked the price of wholesale power to the basement on sunny days...

(https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi619.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Ftt275%2FBob_Wall%2FGermanyPreandPostSolar-1.jpg&hash=d75b3a67691e03b4aa3a37b4a8b15a81) (http://s619.photobucket.com/user/Bob_Wall/media/GermanyPreandPostSolar-1.jpg.html)

Quote
Can/do they tune nuclear?

I'm not sure what you are asking.  Is it whether US reactors can load-follow?  If so I think a few might be able to but most can't.  (Not sure of any of that.)

You do realize that load-following makes nuclear-electricity more expensive, do you not?  Nuclear has very, very limited variable costs.  Almost all of the costs are fixed, slowing production saves no money to speak of.  Fuel is only $0.0079/kWh (less than a penny) and if the plant is dropping production by dumping steam then they aren't even saving fuel.  The cost of nuclear...

Total annual costs / total annual production = X

If you load follow and drop output by 50% then it's...

Total annual costs / 0.5 total annual production = 2X



Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on December 04, 2014, 03:04:20 AM
Falling Oil Price Won’t Affect Solar Industry, SunPower CEO Says
Quote
Plunging prices for crude oil will have little impact on the solar industry, said the chief executive officer of the second-largest U.S. solar manufacturer SunPower Corp. (SPWR)

Oil would have to drop “a lot more” for the economics of burning oil or diesel to be cheaper than solar power,’’ Tom Werner said today at the Credit Suisse 2014 Annual Technology Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona.

The price of oil has fallen nearly 40 percent since June, amid swelling supplies from U.S. shale and OPEC’s decision last week to maintain production.

Green energy is expected to be unaffected, in part because it’s set to receive almost 60 percent of the $5 trillion forecast to be invested in new power plants over the next decade, according to the International Energy Agency.

Werner said that recent contracts signed by power companies in the U.S., Chile, the United Arab Emirates and other places show that the price of power from the sun is competitive with fossil fuels.

In May, for example, the U.S. utility Southern Co. and billionaire Ted Turner’s renewable energy company agreed to buy a First Solar Inc. solar farm in New Mexico that has a deal to sell electricity for 5.79 cents a kilowatt-hour.

The cost of electricity from a typical advanced combined-cycle natural gas power plant is 6.4 cents a kilowatt-hour for plants coming online in 2019, according the the U.S. Energy Department.
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-12-03/falling-oil-price-won-t-affect-solar-industry-sunpower-ceo-says.html (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-12-03/falling-oil-price-won-t-affect-solar-industry-sunpower-ceo-says.html)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on December 04, 2014, 10:44:04 AM
Bob, I try to answer step-by-step because I believe in this way I can explain better what I tried to explain in all the last posts. It is not complicated to understand but I have the feeling our viewpoints are different: You seem to look on the costs to produce electricity and I try to explain that the price we get on the market is not enough to cover the costs of renewables. And that this problem is a matter of principle because we did design the market like that.

I didn't deal with end-user solar.  That's not how utilities purchase energy.  (BTW, I've had panels in my yard for over 20 years.  I've been off the grid for over 25 years.)
Here all renewables go in the grid and change the prices on the market. If your PV is not at the grid it will not change market prices - you only step out of the market. Future utilities are we, because the renewables are produced decentral by us poeple.

Danish and German retail electricity prices are high due to taxes, not the cost of electricity.  Best to use wholesale electricity prices when making comparisons.

I don't have wholesale prices but I can show you the price charged medium sized industries in the EU.  You'll notice that both Germany and Denmark are lower than the EU 27 average.
That is not the complete thruth: Of course we have taxes (in Germany 19% VAT + eco tax and others), and grid price but also the subsidies are in that price (EEG): So the difference between cost of renewables and the price they fetch at the market is directly put on end-users price. In germany that is 6 ct/kWh. See the composition of the end-users price here:
 http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strompreis#mediaviewer/File:Strompreiszusammensetzung_2014.png (http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strompreis#mediaviewer/File:Strompreiszusammensetzung_2014.png)

(https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi619.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Ftt275%2FBob_Wall%2F2014-11-26_112821.png&hash=47bfc262fd02f6f255ce58073f177246) (http://s619.photobucket.com/user/Bob_Wall/media/2014-11-26_112821.png.html)

To look at the prices industry pays in Germany may be very misleading, since the "big consumers" do not pay that EEG to help them against competition from countries without "Energiewende". So some of them pay reduced prices and some others not.


As Germany has added renewables to their grid their wholesale cost of electricity has fallen.  Yes, it took FiT systems up front to get the German solar industry started, but now solar has matured to the point where support is basically not needed.  Don't make the mistake of comparing the cost of new wind or new solar with paid off coal or nuclear.  New:new is the proper comparison.

If renewables are not competitve then you need to explain why Germany wholesale prices have been dropping...

And why solar has knocked the price of wholesale power to the basement on sunny days...
Bob, the pictures you show are very similar to the ones I attached above (but for some reasons I can see your pictures only on my phone and not on my computer - so sometimes I will miss information you give, sorry for that). But please read them in the right way: The prices we get on the market are not the costs we have producing power with PV or wind - because subsidies are there and will be there.

To explain why renewables are not competitive but caused the price drop is easy: We have feed-in-tarife here, the producer (that is e.g. me with PV on my roof) today gets about 10 ct/kWh for a 15 years time whenever sun is shining. This power is sold on the market at the price the market finds: That is a low price at noon (e.g. <4ct/kWh), since a lot of poeple have PV on their roof. The difference of 6 ct per kWh I deliver is put on the electricity bill of all customers by our EEG law.
If this subsidies where not present I would get only the 4ct/kWh and I would not be able to pay of my investions. And furthermore nobody would invest anymore, since the more PV is in the market, the lower is the price you get at noon. You see, since we want to increase renewables we need this subsidies to make that happen. Do you understand now, the market can not do that in principle?


Quote
Can/do they tune nuclear?

I'm not sure what you are asking.  Is it whether US reactors can load-follow?  If so I think a few might be able to but most can't.  (Not sure of any of that.)

You do realize that load-following makes nuclear-electricity more expensive, do you not?  Nuclear has very, very limited variable costs.  Almost all of the costs are fixed, slowing production saves no money to speak of.  Fuel is only $0.0079/kWh (less than a penny) and if the plant is dropping production by dumping steam then they aren't even saving fuel.  The cost of nuclear...

Total annual costs / total annual production = X

If you load follow and drop output by 50% then it's...

Total annual costs / 0.5 total annual production = 2X
Bob, with "tuning" I mean more than "load-following": The conventional power plans must follow load minus production by renewables. That is way more challenging, since on a windy day in Denmark or a sunny Sunday in Germany 100% of the demand is produced by reneables, the prices on the spot markets are about 0 ct/kWh and every plant burning something should be just off.

Of course our nuclear does not tune: They have only fixed costs for construction, deconstruction and nuclear wast treatment. So they run 24/7. That is the reason why we can shut down them first: In a grid with >25% renewables there is not such a thing as "base load" but a fluctuating "demand minus production by renewables" between 0 and 100%. The next thing to shut down here is brown coal and later hard coal and finaly we have to replace natural gas by power-to-gas... You see the reasons why, if you look at plant utilization attached to my post 555.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: icefest on December 04, 2014, 11:30:35 AM
Thankyou SATire.

I'm quite envious of your setup neven. Another year until I finish uni and start working, another couple of years after that and I should be able to have a similar set-up. :D
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on December 04, 2014, 04:46:27 PM
Quote
You seem to look on the costs to produce electricity and I try to explain that the price we get on the market is not enough to cover the costs of renewables. And that this problem is a matter of principle because we did design the market like that.

I'm looking at two things.  1) the LCOE and 2) selling prices.  Wind and solar have become cheap in the US looked at either way.

We built our grids around coal, nuclear and hydro.  Now we are in the process of refurbishing our grids and markets so that they can operate on renewables.  This is not an overnight process but will take years, perhaps decades to complete.

(My comment about being off the grid for over 25 years was to indicate that I have a bit of experience with a mostly renewable grid, tiny as it is.)

Quote
That is not the complete thruth:

No, that is the truth.  It's right there in the numbers.

Quote
To explain why renewables are not competitive but caused the price drop is easy: We have feed-in-tarife here, the producer (that is e.g. me with PV on my roof) today gets about 10 ct/kWh for a 15 years time whenever sun is shining.

FiTs, ITCs, PTCs and other subsidy systems are investments in future generation.  We've spent some money up front in order to bring the cost of renewables down.  And, for the most part, the cost of renewables are down.

We will be paying off those investments for some more years, but at we're about at the point at which no more investment is necessary for onshore wind and solar.  Those are almost-mature technologies.  We've reached or almost reached price parity.

Some countries that are only now starting to install renewables will need to invest in their local installation but they won't have to spend money to get the cost of hardware down.  That job has been done by countries such as Germany, the US and Spain.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on December 04, 2014, 04:53:02 PM
Quote
Bob, with "tuning" I mean more than "load-following": The conventional power plans must follow load minus production by renewables.

Load-following is load-following.  Even before renewables appeared grids had to constantly adjust for differences in supply and demand.  Load-following had to deal with both changes in demand and changes in output as non load-following supply entered and exited the grid.

Load-following is easier (according to ERCOT - the Texas grid) with renewables than with large thermal plants.  The behavior of wind and Sun are very predictable over near hours.  There is no way to predict when a large coal or nuclear plant will go off line without notice.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on December 05, 2014, 09:55:19 AM
I can very well understand the disappointment resulting from the realization, that despite renewables going down in cost all the time they still will not be able to compete on a free market. That was a tough time for me, too. But once you realize reality you do not have to rely on dreams and wishes anymore and in that state of mind you are able to see new routes towards the future. Anyway we can be sure, that renewables will be our energy source - just because we make them our future energy source.

And once we accept that we cannot sell electricity from renewables we are able to realize, that selling electricity is anyway not our main goal. The goal is to produce our electricity using renewables to get independent from CO2 emissions. The other goal is that we want to use electricity anytime we need it. So instead of selling and buying electricity we could also share it. Think of the way we share videos these days without the need for big central companies: That is the road for us, too.

What is needed for that are:
* A grid collecting and delivering electricty from/to our homes. That "last mile" is present in high quality.
* A long range broad power network connecting regions far away: That has to be built. Today we have a high power network able to bypass a few large power plants for the case they shut down for maintenance and such. In future with >50% renewables in the grid we will have situations with 200% supply in one region and with <50% in other regions very far away. So we will need 50 NorGer and similar lines crossing large distances. That is a necessary investment similar to the set-up needed for the internet but this time for power. If this is paid again by people’s money (e.g. from taxes or states) there will not be any need to pay or get paid for electricity in future, since the marginal costs of renewables are close to zero. Just as videos at youtube and such.

That is why we need to build the long range international high power grid to prepare for a renewables future. Some storage (power-2-gas or hydro) in large quantity (>100 TWh) could help for back-up in critical times - e.g. similar to our gas storage still present from cold war times here (e.g. we can store gas for >1/2 year here).
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on December 06, 2014, 05:58:34 AM
Quote
I can very well understand the disappointment resulting from the realization, that despite renewables going down in cost all the time they still will not be able to compete on a free market.

Are you kidding me?  In what reality do renewables not compete with fossil fuels and nuclear? 

Quote
And once we accept that we cannot sell electricity from renewable

Absurd.

We share videos because the cost is essentially zero for us as individuals.  Companies pay for our ability to share in order to get us to see their advertising.

You start out by claiming that renewables can't compete in the market and that we can't generate the electricity we need and then you go on to talk about how we do exactly that by creating "long transmission".

Furthermore, there is no need to transmit power over "regions" if by regions you are talking about areas larger than Europe or the central area of North America.  In fact, we don't need to transmit power even that far.

We've got a pile of studies which show that we can build affordable, reliable grids on a single country basis.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: jbatteen on December 06, 2014, 04:43:06 PM
I can very well understand the disappointment resulting from the realization, that despite renewables going down in cost all the time they still will not be able to compete on a free market.

What?  Unless there exists on earth an infinite supply of fossil fuels, then at some point they will get scare enough that renewables will become cheaper than fossils.  Do we agree on that?

That transition is beginning now.  It's not complete, it's only beginning in certain markets with excellent wind and solar resources.  Mostly wind, because the good solar states here are having internal disagreements about how to handle it.  (Other than California which is doing well.)  New grid scale wind is cheaper than new gas plants all up and down the plains.  Bob showed us 4-5c per kwh.

Even with home retail electricity at .08-.12c per kwh in Arizona, some of the cheapest in the nation thanks to the Palo Verde nuclear power plant, rooftop solar pays back in under 20 years.  The utilities are fighting solar on their grid because they don't want to lose their investments on their plants, but they can't stop the homeowners from dropping out of the grid.  It's going up everywhere.

I travel the country frequently and I'm watching the transition happen.  Where I spend the summer in Minnesota, giant trucks carrying wind turbine blades and tower parts drive by all day long while I'm out working the fields.  South Dakota is building out massive new capacity along with transmission lines to neighboring states.  As we speak, new capacity is being built.

I actually have a sneaking suspicion that the transition will occur far faster than anyone could have predicted once it ramps up.  In America, it's all about the almighty dollar, and eventually even generations of accumulated wealth and influence won't be able to prop up the fossil industry in the face of overwhelming cheap renewable energy.  In the 2020s when the gas boom ends and natural gas power prices start to creep back up toward those of coal, the fossil industry is done.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: wili on December 06, 2014, 04:54:45 PM
I should let people speak for themselves, but the claim I've heard is that, as long as the production of alternatives is powered largely by ff's, their price will be tied to that of ff's. So if ff prices go up, that won't give alternatives much of an advantage, since the price of producing windmills and solar panels will also go up.

I'll let others poke holes in this argument, or yet others correct it if I have not presented it fairly or fully. I'll just point out that there are, indeed, holes of various sizes to be found.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: crandles on December 06, 2014, 05:49:24 PM
Wili, that argument might have been believable when renewables were much more expensive than ff.

Most costs are labour related not fuel related so when you see prices like

ff 6.1 to 6.6 cent/KWh (post 532)
solar 5.4 cent/KWh (post 536&7)
Wind 3.7 cent/KWh (post 532)

it becomes obvious that the amount of energy required to build renewables is a lot less than they produce in their lifetime.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on December 06, 2014, 06:10:53 PM
Are you kidding me?  In what reality do renewables not compete with fossil fuels and nuclear? 
In a reality with significant renewables (e.g. 25%) in the grid and with a free market for electrical energy (e.g. EEX) this is just an observation. Take a look at the pictures you and me provided above.

You start out by claiming that renewables can't compete in the market and that we can't generate the electricity we need and then you go on to talk about how we do exactly that by creating "long transmission".
Yes, no and yes. (I never claimed we can't generate the electricity - I did say that we are doing that and I claimed, that we will continue to do that. The way we do this is by subsidies, since we know, that renewables can not compete in the free market.)

Furthermore, there is no need to transmit power over "regions" if by regions you are talking about areas larger than Europe or the central area of North America.  In fact, we don't need to transmit power even that far.

We've got a pile of studies which show that we can build affordable, reliable grids on a single country basis.
I talked above about regions with sun, regions with wind, regions without wind, regions without sun, regions with demand and such. We need efficient transmissions between that - e.g. in Germany from the coast to Norway’s hydro plant, from the windy coast to industry in Bavaria and Baden-Würtemberg, from sunny regions to regions under clouds. The longer the transmission lines the less fluctuations we have and thus the the more efficient the electricity production is in general - that is much less costly than batteries to be build for a similar purpose.

All my statement above where just observations (backed up with the data in the pictures) - just the claim about "sharing power like we share videos" is some kind of a vision. I was not talking about making money with commercials like some companies do. I was talking about sharing videos you produce with your own equipment and deliver it other people with zero marginal costs. Same could be done e.g. by today’s 1.4 million electricity producers once the systems are paid. But this part is really not an observation but a vision to work around our problem. 
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: wili on December 06, 2014, 06:16:57 PM
crandles--yep, those are a few of the holes I was referring to.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on December 06, 2014, 06:27:11 PM
I can very well understand the disappointment resulting from the realization, that despite renewables going down in cost all the time they still will not be able to compete on a free market.

What?  Unless there exists on earth an infinite supply of fossil fuels, then at some point they will get scare enough that renewables will become cheaper than fossils.  Do we agree on that?

The cost is not the reason, why renewables can not compete without subsidies. The reason is, that it can not earn the money back, because the price is < 4 ct/kWh in any time with wind and sun (post 551, 565). So wind and PV will always earn less than needed to pay back the invest. 
Of course wind and PV pushes coal and others out of the market during that time - so they stop burning coal (post 555). But when sun is gone and wind stops blowing the prices go up >5 ct/kWh and coal is able to make profit. So while fossils can make some profits in dark hours without wind the renewables have not a single hour to make profit to pay back the invest.
This is not the case, when you have not much renewable energy in your grid because they make no effect. But once you get to e.g. 25% the bubble will collapse and all systems paid on loans will go default. So I hope you do not pay your wind and PV with loans - such will become junk bonds just after you have been successful.

Since this problem is essential I want to use a citation, since it could be, that you do not understand me since I am not a native speaker (from here http://www.agora-energiewende.org/topics/electricity-market-and-system-reliability/how-does-germanys-electricity-market-work/ (http://www.agora-energiewende.org/topics/electricity-market-and-system-reliability/how-does-germanys-electricity-market-work/)):
Quote
In addition, there is the question of whether the energy-only market will ever be in a position to refinance wind power and solar power, even if their total costs are below those of coal or gas power plants. For the problem of wind power and photovoltaic systems, based as they are on the marginal-cost-determined spot market, is that they price themselves out of the market. When the wind blows and the sun shines, all the wind and PV systems within the same weather zone produce electricity at the same time. Once a certain number of wind turbines and PV systems are in the system, this impacts the price on the electricity market. Thus, when the wind blows and/or the sun shines, a lot of power is available with a marginal cost of zero, the market price decreases because power plants with more expensive marginal cost won’t be needed and power plants with lower marginal costs will determine the market price (the so-called merit-order effect). As a consequence, wind and solar power cannot refinance themselves on today’s break-even market.

Please find also attached a picture explaining, how our market is working (from same source as the quotation above):
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: crandles on December 06, 2014, 09:26:00 PM
The cost is not the reason, why renewables can not compete without subsidies.

You then go on to use current market prices to show that solar cannot make money. But if you looked at wind with 3.7 US cent /KWh which converts to about 3 Euro cent /KWh.

so the price of <4 Euro cent/KWh while there is wind is sufficient to be profitable. (I assume the rule that renewables are always used first continues after subsidies are eliminated.)

FF suppliers have to cut output during periods of sun and wind and while fuel costs might be slightly reduced, other running costs are not. Their costs of 6.1 US cent /KWh converts to about 5 Euro cents/KWh so while profitable during some times this is probably more than made up for by losses during times with wind and sunshine.

If solar fell in cost to around that of wind and you had solar plants as far east as Dubai and as far west as Morocco which were started at such low cost prices with suitable power distribution through Europe to cope with peaks and troughs in demand.... then surely solar would also be able to be profitable.

The capacity of renewables can with such infrastructure, then be set without creating too much excess production capacity. If the production capacity surplus kept rising then the difference between your prices of over 5cent/KWh and under 4 cent /KWh might separate further and this would stop investors going mad installing too much renewables electricity production capacity.

However, with suitable power production in diverse locations and suitable power distribution there is much less need for renewables to create excess production capacity. This would lead to a narrowing of the price differential.

So it seems to me that we are not there yet for solar to compete in Germany but with the way prices are falling, I don't think you can rule out solar being able to compete in future.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: wili on December 06, 2014, 09:30:01 PM
Does anyone have linked data on the latest Energy Returned on Energy Invested (EROEI, or sometimes just EROI) for PV? Is it higher than 7:1 now?

(I'm in a bit of a debate with someone on a different forum about it. I hadn't kept up with official estimates, but I had assumed the rapidly dropping prices also had something to do with rapidly improving EROEI. Was I wrong?)

Apologies ahead of time if this was recently addressed and I missed it. I don't get to every post on every thread here, much as I would like to.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on December 06, 2014, 09:42:24 PM
The cost is not the reason, why renewables can not compete without subsidies.

You then go on to use current market prices to show that solar cannot make money. But if you looked at wind with 3.7 US cent /KWh which converts to about 3 Euro cent /KWh.

so the price of <4 Euro cent/KWh while there is wind is sufficient to be profitable. (I assume the rule that renewables are always used first continues after subsidies are eliminated.)
Crandles, no, 3 Euro cent are not cheap enough. Look at the pictures Bob and me posted above (e.g. #551): Most time with wind & sun selling price is < 2,5 ct/kWh. On windy days it can be only 0 ct/kWh you get. And the more wind/PV we build the lower that price will be. You can turn it as you want: The market is dead and we need subsidies in future or we have to change the way we run a market. Both things are not a big deal. We will go for >50% renewables anyway and we will have to build "grid 2.0" now. Forget all the ideological mind traps - we can do it but we have to do it reasonably.

edit: And didn't I say that cost is not the problem? Please take that seriously and think about it a night. It is strange but easy to understand, since it is only stupid economics...
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: crandles on December 06, 2014, 10:08:29 PM
Satire, do you accept that it is capacity oversupply that makes the price differential you are pointing out?

So if there was little capacity oversupply, then a small differential would be enough to limit supply adequately? Desert solar supplies very much as expected I would think with very little overcast and cloudy conditions.

Wind might have this price problem if you installed too much wind because you need generation when there is no wind so you end with a lot of capacity oversupply and big price differentials. Desert solar doesn't have the same problem - ff capacity can be cut as you add desert solar.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on December 06, 2014, 10:21:24 PM
crandles,
the reason is regional and temporal over supply. So a long range transmission line would be the easiest solution. Next thing could be storage - e.g. hydro and power-2-gas in the future. Maybe someday even battery could get down in costs to help a bit.

On the other hand: Some subsidies are really ok for the society: Renewables bring the over-all costs down and really cut the revenues of big utility now. So to put some ct/kWh back on the costs really hurt no one (but CO2 burners...). So I think we could life with that quite well.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: jbatteen on December 06, 2014, 11:46:20 PM
Quote from: SATire
The cost is not the reason, why renewables can not compete without subsidies. The reason is, that it can not earn the money back, because the price is < 4 ct/kWh in any time with wind and sun (post 551, 565). So wind and PV will always earn less than needed to pay back the invest. 
Of course wind and PV pushes coal and others out of the market during that time - so they stop burning coal (post 555). But when sun is gone and wind stops blowing the prices go up >5 ct/kWh and coal is able to make profit. So while fossils can make some profits in dark hours without wind the renewables have not a single hour to make profit to pay back the invest.
This is not the case, when you have not much renewable energy in your grid because they make no effect. But once you get to e.g. 25% the bubble will collapse and all systems paid on loans will go default. So I hope you do not pay your wind and PV with loans - such will become junk bonds just after you have been successful.

You make it sound like there are only two states of being, one in which the wind is absolutely still and one in which the wind is so strong that they can't export all the power and the price goes to zero.  In the Great Plains, a slow but steady wind is always blowing.  They are getting that 4c per kwh most of the time.  The people building these towers aren't flying blind.  They put up test towers with anemometers to gauge the yearly potential of a site against the wind towers specifications.  Knowing climatological averages they have a good idea of how much power the turbine will produce in its lifetime.  They also sign multi-year purchasing agreements with local grid operators to ensure a steady buyer for their power.  If they wouldn't pay for themselves, they wouldn't keep building them.  Yet, they keep going up in droves.
(https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fupload.wikimedia.org%2Fwikipedia%2Fcommons%2Fthumb%2Fb%2Fba%2FWind_Generation_Percentage_Bar_Chart_U.S._2013.svg%2F220px-Wind_Generation_Percentage_Bar_Chart_U.S._2013.svg.png&hash=26f1396cae85b946ce7616f83816a94c)

Two states have passed and several states approach that magical 25% mark yet installations show no sign of decreasing. 
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on December 06, 2014, 11:52:24 PM
Quote
I should let people speak for themselves, but the claim I've heard is that, as long as the production of alternatives is powered largely by ff's, their price will be tied to that of ff's. So if ff prices go up, that won't give alternatives much of an advantage, since the price of producing windmills and solar panels will also go up.

The production/manufacturing is largely carried out with electricity, not petroleum.  Rising petroleum prices could have some impact on wind and solar hardware to the extent that we use petroleum to mine and transport.

Coal is very unlikely to see cost increases going forward.  As we close coal plants demand will fall and the more expensive producers will drop out.  Multiple coal businesses have already shut down leaving the least expensive producers in business.

Then, if for some unforeseen reason coal were to get expensive there might be a short term increase in electricity cost, but the transition to renewables would speed up which would bring the prices back down.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on December 07, 2014, 12:03:15 AM
Quote
The cost is not the reason, why renewables can not compete without subsidies. The reason is, that it can not earn the money back, because the price is < 4 ct/kWh in any time with wind and sun (post 551, 565). So wind and PV will always earn less than needed to pay back the invest.

The market will always have to pay producers enough money for them to stay in business.  The average wholesale price will not drop below the cost of the energy needed to supply demand.

There will be short periods at which wholesale costs drop below cost of production but those are averaged out by higher prices during peak hour.

What is currently killing coal and nuclear is that wind is now setting the late night floor at a point where thermal plants often sell at no profit or a loss.  And solar is starting to lower the peak hour ceiling where they used to make their profits and recover their losses.

Nuclear reactors are closing in the US because they are no longer competitive.  German coal plants run at a loss most days.  We will see a thinning of our large thermal plants down to the number that are actually needed to meet demand.

As we add more and more cheap wind and solar we will see more thermal plants go bankrupt.

BTW, 4 cents for wind does not include subsidies.  I have been very clear about that.  The actual average selling price (which does include subsidies) during 2013 in the US was 2.5 cents/kWh with one wind farm selling (at a profit) for 1.4 cents per kWh.

Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on December 07, 2014, 12:12:09 AM
You make it sound like there are only two states of being, one in which the wind is absolutely still and one in which the wind is so strong that they can't export all the power and the price goes to zero. 
jbatteen, for prices please look at the right axis in the pictures attached in above post here: http://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/index.php/topic,256.msg40749.html#msg40749 (http://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/index.php/topic,256.msg40749.html#msg40749)

You see, the price for electricity varies on (quarter-) hourly basis between more than 10 ct/kWh and less than 0 ct/kWh. Most of the time price varies between 2.5-5 ct/kWh and it is lower during times with wind and/or sun (I gave that 4 ct/kWh example just because Bob named that cost for wind in US - maybe at a different place). Of course nobody is flying blind in respect to weather or climate. But a lot of people are flying blind in respect to the amount of wind to be installed in the future and in the same region - that will reduce the earning of course and people will have problem to refinance their systems. The more successful renewable will be, the less they will earn. But maybe that is a problem related to the liberalized markets in Europe and in US you sell different - as far as I understood Bob with long-term fixed contracts somehow. In that case the private producer is safe and someone else has the risk - the grid company? The consumer maybe?
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on December 07, 2014, 12:25:49 AM
Does anyone have linked data on the latest Energy Returned on Energy Invested (EROEI, or sometimes just EROI) for PV? Is it higher than 7:1 now?

(I'm in a bit of a debate with someone on a different forum about it. I hadn't kept up with official estimates, but I had assumed the rapidly dropping prices also had something to do with rapidly improving EROEI. Was I wrong?)
 

There's currently some horse hockey stuff being floated around by nuclear advocates about EROEI and "balancing" that's suppose to show that renewables can't work.

Let's start with this concept of EROEI.  It arose when we started worrying about Peak Oil.  Fearing an end of oil (or at least affordable oil) people starting thinking about whether it was making sense to use as much oil as we did to get more oil.

Since we use very little oil, and could use no oil at all, to manufacture and install wind turbines and solar panels we can disregard EROEI.  What we want to look at is the role energy inputs drive the final price of the energy released.

Now, since the non-subsidized cost of wind and oil are well under 10 cents per kWh it's clear that there can't be an unaffordable amount of energy embedded in the technology. 

How much energy is embedded?  Wind turbines return their embedded energy in 3 to 8 months based on the wind resources where they are installed.  Solar panels return their embedded energy in one (thin film) to two (silicon) years.

Taking a conservative lifespan of 20 years that would mean that wind has, at worse, an eroei of 30 (240 months / 8 months) to 80 (240 months / 3 months).  Solar has an eroei of 10 (20 years / 2 years) to 20 (20 years / 1 year).

Taking more of a real world lifespan of 30 years for wind and at least 40 for solar the eroei numbers take big jumps.  Wind could be as high as 120 (360 / 3) and solar as high as 40 (40 / 1).  Or solar could be still higher, we don't yet know the lifespan of a solar panel.
--

You're likely arguing with someone who has picked their points up from a paper by written by a nuclear advocate named Weissbach and posted on a non-journal web site.

http://festkoerper-kernphysik.de/Weissbach_EROI_preprint.pdf (http://festkoerper-kernphysik.de/Weissbach_EROI_preprint.pdf)


The "eroei of 7" stuff involves attributing energy inputs to wind and solar which have nothing to do with wind and solar and is based on out of date  manufacturing data.  And the paper that started all that charges wind and solar with storage and backup while not doing the same for coal and nuclear.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on December 07, 2014, 12:30:41 AM
Quote
The more successful renewable will be, the less they will earn.

The more successful renewables are the lower their cost will be.

Renewables are already among the cheapest ways to bring new generation to our grids.  Natural gas is in that "cheapest" mix.

The wholesale price of electricity will not fall so low that the least expensive providers will not making a profit. 

Think carefully about my last sentence. 
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on December 07, 2014, 12:45:39 AM
The wholesale price of electricity will not fall so low that the least expensive providers will not making a profit. 

Think carefully about my last sentence.
But observation of today's prices tell us, that exactly that is the case. Only subsidies make sure, that the 1.4 million producers in Germany with PV on their roof or a wind turbine on their farm can be refinanced. This topic is a real problem observed in Germany today (see link above to Agora) and not just my thought-experiment ...

This situation can be improved with new transmission lines. Maybe the shut-down of nuclear will help a lot in a few years (not following load-renewables and low marginal costs) and the later exit from lignite (only tunable down to 50% and second lowest marginal cost).
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on December 07, 2014, 01:13:09 AM
Quote
But observation of today's prices tell us, that exactly that is the case.

No they don't.  We see the more expensive producers being shoved out of the market.  We don't see the least expensive providers going bankrupt.

I think you've got a flawed way of looking at prices.
---

Transmission lines will or will not be built if they are competitive.  In some cases the best economic decision might be to build more transmission. In some cases the best decision might be to over-build generation or to use storage.

In the end it's fairly certain that we'll do some of each. 
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: wili on December 07, 2014, 06:08:08 AM
Bob, thanks for responding to my query, but your logic wrt eroei seems, to put it kindly, flawed.

 Because the concept first gained recognition in peak oil circles, it is irrelevant for renewables?? Isn't that like saying that since an early use of statistics was to figure out how eugenics might work, it is not relevant to anything else??
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on December 07, 2014, 07:47:16 AM
If the energy going into wind turbines and solar panels is essentially unlimited/infinite  (wind and sunshine) why would it matter if we used a ton of it to get a pound of electricity?

We can be as wasteful as we wish with wind and sunshine.  We won't run out.


Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: crandles on December 07, 2014, 01:10:34 PM

I think you've got a flawed way of looking at prices.

Transmission lines will or will not be built if they are competitive.  In some cases the best economic decision might be to build more transmission. In some cases the best decision might be to over-build generation or to use storage.

In the end it's fairly certain that we'll do some of each.

I don't think that way of looking at prices is flawed. It is particularly relevant if the 'over-build generation' route is used.

Suppose we got to the position that with moderate winds, wind could supply all the electricity needed. Would it make sense to build more wind power electricity generation?

In the absence of an expected big increase in demand for electricity the answer is no and the market should reflect this with a big differential in prices between when there is little wind and when there is moderate wind. Electricity distributors should be very reluctant to enter fixed price agreements because they should expect to be able to buy it from the spot market for very little if anything when there is sufficient wind.

I think it should be clear that the differential in prices paid should be taken into consideration when considering adding more generation capacity.


Looking at the graphs it seems wind can at times generate a substantial proportion of Germany's electricity demand. It may not take much more such generation capacity before Germany should consider removing subsidies for wind. If the subsidies are not removed then electricity users will end up paying for wasteful excess generation capacity. I assume the level of subsidies are constantly reduced as appropriate and will be removed when appropriate.


Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on December 07, 2014, 06:09:06 PM
Quote
But observation of today's prices tell us, that exactly that is the case.

No they don't.  We see the more expensive producers being shoved out of the market.  We don't see the least expensive providers going bankrupt.

I think you've got a flawed way of looking at prices.

Bob, that is one possibility. There are always several ways to look at prices e.g. given in the picture attached to my post #551. That flaw could be the way I look at it or it could be the basic behind that numbers, which is the market in the way we designed it in year 2000.

In this German market we see both: The more expensive producers are being shoved out of the market in Germany and also in Netherlands and other neighbours: Unfortunately the energy with the highest marginal cost is gas. This is very undesirable because it is the best fossil energy in terms of CO2 and also load-following ability. Actually gas is the best fossil fuel to be combined with fluctuating renewables but we made the marked in such a way, that gas is kicked out - stupid us, that was easy to see earlier.   

Furthermore we see the conventional energy with the lowest marginal cost being shoved out of the market: Nuclear. But this is not due to the way we set up the market but by the peoples will. So that is not due to the market. And finally we realize (as shown above), that both wind and PV can not refinance themselves without subsidies. No matter how low the costs are - just by the way we designed this market. It is even not oversupply, since there are only a few hours with about 100 % renewables in the grid. It is negative price, that breaks wind & PV. Of course that hurts nuclear to (but that is dying anyway) and also lignite, since it is to expensive to shut down such plant just for a day or 2 - it is more cost efficient to keep it running even if you have to pay someone >10 ct/kWh to take that power...

So what can we do now? We can say it is just me and how I look at the costs. We could lean back and watch our flawed market doing its thing: Wasting money, distressing our neighbours gas plants and producing unnecessary CO2.

Or we could analyse the difference between the market effects and the goal, for which this market was designed and change the rules until it fits the purpose. Please do not misunderstand me - this EEG thing was very successful to bring renewables into the market. And this is not only the German view, since the concept was copied now by 60 countries. But obviously it is not really good for reducing CO2 and to kick coal out of business. Thus there are good reasons to change it now to get to the next level (e.g. 42% renewables in 2023 and >60% in 2033). Those changes are worked out these days in Germany. So this is a good time for such discussions again. 
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on December 07, 2014, 06:09:17 PM
Quote
Suppose we got to the position that with moderate winds, wind could supply all the electricity needed. Would it make sense to build more wind power electricity generation?

Again, cost will likely be the driver of decisions made.  If we could supply all our electricity cheapest by running wire/super conductors from Galway to Dublin, the long way, then that system may evolve.  It's more likely we'll settle for moderate area grids rather than a world grid. 

Solar will be cheap.  Solar performs when demand is highest.  Rather than ship wind from thousands of miles away locally produced solar (or hydro, geothermal, biofuel, tidal) will sometimes be cheaper.  And storage is likely to be cheaper. 

I think it's the case that from about 1,000 miles away (or some number like that) wind speed/availability is very uncorrelated.  Plus within that range wind systems move across the area with one part falling while another rising.

I can see us getting to the point at which one may be able to trace a line of connection from the west coast of Ireland (or Iceland) to Japan by way of local grids that connect with their neighbors.  But I'm skeptical of the ability to move massive amounts of power along that route.

Quote
Electricity distributors should be very reluctant to enter fixed price agreements because they should expect to be able to buy it from the spot market for very little if anything when there is sufficient wind.

PPAs benefit both sides.  Obviously for the seller, since they have a contract in hand that ensures them both a market and a selling price that ensures profitability.  But also for the buyer.  They have a contract with a determined price that protects them from market fluctuations.  In the case of some solar (I don't know about wind) PPAs the contract price has no inflation factor.  A contract signed for 5c/kWh today means 5c/kWh in 2034, paid with deflated 2034 dollars.

If you can lock in costs which are acceptable to your customers and are unlikely to be badly undercut (worst case) later on then that's good business.  When you're contracting for 2.5 cent wind or 5 cent solar you aren't taking a large chance that wholesale costs will drop significantly lower.

Perhaps when fusion comes on line in 20 years.  Or 20 years after that....

Quote
Looking at the graphs it seems wind can at times generate a substantial proportion of Germany's electricity demand. It may not take much more such generation capacity before Germany should consider removing subsidies for wind. If the subsidies are not removed then electricity users will end up paying for wasteful excess generation capacity. I assume the level of subsidies are constantly reduced as appropriate and will be removed when appropriate.

I don't know about Germany, but subsidies for wind and solar probably won't last much longer in the US.  If they do it will be more about job creation than making wind and solar more affordable. 

Wind subsidies are about done in the US.  We haven't had subsidies for wind since 12/31/13.  They may be put back in place for a year, but perhaps not.  Solar drops from 30% to 10% at the end of 2016 and the 10% goes away two years later.  (I think those are the correct years.)

Wind is already our cheapest (non-subsidized) new capacity.  Solar is close to being number two, give it year or two.  Neither will need subsidies to help them compete in the market. 

Further subsidies would serve to increase installation higher than simple replacement and new market demand.  The goal of further subsidies would be job creation and carbon reduction.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on December 07, 2014, 06:31:55 PM
Quote
we realize (as shown above), that both wind and PV can not refinance themselves without subsidies

New wind and new solar are less expensive than new coal and new nuclear.  If the grid needs more power it is unlikely to pick the most expensive source.

Quote
Actually gas is the best fossil fuel to be combined with fluctuating renewables

Yes, but being expensive in Germany, NG will not play as large a role as in the US.  Your new coal plants can load-follow to some extent.  Because NG is more expensive we'll probably see Germany move more to storage for load-following, again the market....

Quote
Furthermore we see the conventional energy with the lowest marginal cost being shoved out of the market: Nuclear.

That is due to a decision made by German citizens to move the danger of nuclear energy out of their backyards.  Yes, it does kill off some affordable generation, but the decision has been made.  (And I both understand and respect the decision.)

Now Germany will have to push a bit harder with efficiency and renewable installations.

Quote
It is negative price, that breaks wind & PV.

The negative price periods are due to fossil and nuclear plants committing suicide in an attempt to stay in business.  If they lose money during low demand hours then they have to look for times to make up those losses.  Wind and solar, having lower operating costs, can make up their losses easier during higher demand hours. 

Quote
this EEG thing was very successful to bring renewables into the market.

 But obviously it is not really good for reducing CO2 and to kick coal out of business.

You seem to contradict yourself here.  Germany has installed quite a bit of solar and wind.  Coal plants are losing money.  Had the decision not been made to close nuclear (but that's a done deal) and if Germany was not selling coal-electricity to other countries coal use would be down far below what it is today.

Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: crandles on December 07, 2014, 06:48:52 PM

Again, cost will likely be the driver of decisions made. 

If storage was available very cheaply maybe. While it storage is expensive and the situation was such that there is a need for more generation when it isn't windy but no need for more generation when it is windy?

More wind in such a situation wouldn't make sense. The market would clearly point this out with zero or negative prices when it is windy and high prices when it isn't. To ignore the prices that the market is pointing out is ludicrous.

OTOH

Quote
that both wind and PV can not refinance themselves without subsidies.  No matter how low the costs are

This is also nonsense. It does matter how low the costs are. The first part looks true with current costs and prices but renewables costs are likely to fall further.

Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on December 07, 2014, 06:55:53 PM
While we are still waiting for EEG 2.0 in Germany, Agora is already working for the next modification scheduled for 2016: Especially the problem, that renewables can not refinance the investment in an "energy-only spot-market". The capacity market is the thing they will introduce in EEG2.0 to pay someone for delivering capacity for the case that there is no wind nor sun.

So Agora suggests to include such a capacity bonus for renewables installation which are "system appropriate". It is not translated yet so here is only the link to the German version:
http://www.agora-energiewende.de/fileadmin/downloads/publikationen/Impulse/EEG_30/Agora_Energiewende_EEG_3_0_KF_web.pdf (http://www.agora-energiewende.de/fileadmin/downloads/publikationen/Impulse/EEG_30/Agora_Energiewende_EEG_3_0_KF_web.pdf)

In case you do not know Agora Energiewende: That is not some esoteric green people club but some kind of "energy think tank". The person responsible to construct EEG 2.0 is the former head of Agora - so it is save to assume they have some real impact.   
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on December 07, 2014, 07:03:30 PM
Quote
that both wind and PV can not refinance themselves without subsidies.  No matter how low the costs are

This is also nonsense. It does matter how low the costs are. The first part looks true with current costs and prices but renewables costs are likely to fall further.
Crandles, it is not non-sense. Even & because renewable fall in costs you will have problem to refinance without subsidies. Why? Because you have to pay the installation of the PV on your roof now based on today's prices and feed-in-tarife. If there are no subsidies you would only get the price at the spot market. Since that is too low and will get smaller during the calculated life-time of the PV on your roof it will not pay back the investment.

If you pay that PV with money you have that is not a big deal - you will just get less money than you thought but you are fine. You would not destroy your PV because marginal costs are zero - you only realize you wasted some money. But in case you bought it by loan you will get default: You will not be able to pay the interest with earning from free market. And you can not sell your PV, because 50% of the cost was labour for installation and the price for the modules will fall in future. So: Please try to avoid the usual bubble just because you ignore such simple facts actually known in advance. There is no magic in the market helping you.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on December 07, 2014, 07:10:18 PM
Quote
If storage was available very cheaply maybe. While it storage is expensive and the situation was such that there is a need for more generation when it isn't windy but no need for more generation when it is windy?

But storage isn't expensive.  Pump up hydro is not expensive (not expensive is not the same as cheap).  Five cent wind plus six cent PuHS is cheaper than new coal or nuclear.  We aren't building large amounts of new storage at the moment because we don't yet need it, not because of cost.

Quote
More wind in such a situation wouldn't make sense. The market would clearly point this out with zero or negative prices when it is windy and high prices when it isn't. To ignore the prices that the market is pointing out is ludicrous.

Zero/negative wholesale prices arise only because coal and nuclear can't shut down and restart quickly.  Wind and solar can sell on open markets for a little over zero cents as they have low operating costs and no fuel costs.  A little profit is better than no profit.

As coal and nuclear go away so will zero/negative prices.

Actually negative prices are a side effect of subsidies.  Wind and solar can actually sell in the US for zero pennies but still make a penny due to PTC.  This is a temporary market distortion.  Subsidies in both Germany and the US will fade away.  Both are being reduced and will likely end before long.  The original programs which will take years to finish will be diluted by new non-subsidized generation.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: wili on December 07, 2014, 07:14:19 PM
Great, Bob. You don't want to engage with the topic since you seem to think that wind and sun are the only inputs. Fine.

Can anyone else help me with these eroei issues?
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on December 07, 2014, 07:18:19 PM
Quote
Even & because renewable fall in costs you will have problem to refinance without subsidies. Why? Because you have to pay the installation of the PV on your roof now based on today's prices and feed-in-tarife. If there are no subsidies you would only get the price at the spot market.

If you wish to switch the topic from utility scale renewables to roof top, end-user solar  then, yes, things may not work out so well in the future.  It may not make sense to install solar above what you can directly consume and sell your surplus to the grid at wholesale prices.

But remember that you are paying retail for the electricity that you purchase from the grid.  As we go along it may turn out to be less expensive to self produce most of your electricity and store from day to 'that evening/night/next morning'.  A big part of the cost of retail electricity is the distribution cost.  One day storage may be cheaper than purchasing during the evening/early morning peaks.

And if end-user storage doesn't become competitive then it would still make sense to install enough solar to cover your sunny hour demand and switch as much use to those hours as possible.

Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on December 07, 2014, 07:23:37 PM
Great, Bob. You don't want to engage with the topic since you seem to think that wind and sun are the only inputs. Fine.

Can anyone else help me with these eroei issues?

I don't understand your complaint.

I did not say that wind and Sun are the only inputs. 

I said that we don't need fossil fuels to manufacture and install wind turbines and solar panels. 



We now use fossil fuels because that's how our infrastructures evolved.  As fossil fuels become more expensive (cost or carbon) then we will replace them with renewables.  Running out of oil is not an actual problem for renewable energy, therefore we don't need to worry about eroei. 

Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on December 07, 2014, 07:27:19 PM
If you wish to switch the topic from utility scale renewables to roof top, end-user solar  then, yes, things may not work out so well in the future. 
Bob, please avoid this suggestive languages. I am not stupid nor do I want to switch topic. In Germany roof-top is to be sold to the grid just like wind or nuclear. The 1.4 million electricity producers are e.g. the roof-top PV. Didn't I explain that several times? Electricity is also made by the people and not only by big utility. There is a reason why the biggest utility wants to concentrate on renewables, grid & customer solution and wants to sell the big thermal plants: The future is on its way...
"Normal people" are a significant part of Germany’s Energiewende and that shall be that way in future, too.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on December 07, 2014, 07:54:08 PM
If you wish to switch the topic from utility scale renewables to roof top, end-user solar  then, yes, things may not work out so well in the future. 
Bob, please avoid this suggestive languages. I am not stupid nor do I want to switch topic. In Germany roof-top is to be sold to the grid just like wind or nuclear. The 1.4 million electricity producers are e.g. the roof-top PV. Didn't I explain that several times? Electricity is also made by the people and not only by big utility. There is a reason why the biggest utility wants to concentrate on renewables, grid & customer solution and wants to sell the big thermal plants: The future is on its way...
"Normal people" are a significant part of Germany’s Energiewende and that shall be that way in future, too.

I am having difficulty understanding your point. 

Would you please restate your point in as few words as possible?  Is it about end-user solar in Germany or about renewables in general? 

Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: crandles on December 07, 2014, 08:06:57 PM
Quote
that both wind and PV can not refinance themselves without subsidies.  No matter how low the costs are

This is also nonsense. It does matter how low the costs are. The first part looks true with current costs and prices but renewables costs are likely to fall further.
Crandles, it is not non-sense. Even & because renewable fall in costs you will have problem to refinance without subsidies. Why? Because you have to pay the installation of the PV on your roof now

UK FIT is guaranteed to increase with inflation for 25 year.  After 3 years I am about half way to recouping my cost. With the subsidy in place existing systems are OK. It is pointless being concerned about a non-existent problem, I want to see that there is incentive to install new renewables if it makes sense.


The problem I have is with you saying "No matter how low the costs are". If wind's costs fell to 1 cent /KWh and some pumped storage or new battery of some kind could be profitable buying for 1 cent/KWh and selling up to a week later for 4 cent/KWh while solar and ff remained at around 5 cent/KWh .... clearly we would want to install more wind and this storage and the economics would encourage it.

How does your "No matter how low the costs are" stand up to such a scenario? It simply doesn't.

Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Sigmetnow on December 07, 2014, 08:09:05 PM
I just came across this, and a search doesn't indicate that the link has been posted elsewhere, so here goes:
IEA's World Energy Outlook 2014 -- Executive Summary.
http://www.iea.org/publications/freepublications/publication/WEO_2014_ES_English_WEB.pdf (http://www.iea.org/publications/freepublications/publication/WEO_2014_ES_English_WEB.pdf)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on December 07, 2014, 08:35:15 PM
SAT - can I ask what  you mean by this-

"refinance without subsidies"

I've been assuming you mean get financing for new projects. 

But perhaps you mean that some people where you live take out short term loans which are not paid off by system savings/income before the loan expires.  And then need to go looking for a new loan?
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on December 07, 2014, 09:01:59 PM
SAT - can I ask what  you mean by this-

"refinance without subsidies"
Bob - in industry if you want to produce something to make profit you may buy the machine on loan and pay the interest and the loan back with the profit. "Refinancing" is financing the machine reverse (not in advance). Normally if you can not refinance your investment you would not do it. So if you can not refinance wind then no new wind will be installed. That is to be avoided due to climate change.

"Without subsidies" means: Only with the money you get on the free market. So without the feed-in-tarife or something like that.

edit: Private people normally get a loan only, if they have 20-50% of the money in advance to reduce the risk for banks and such. And since they make no profit they do not refinance. But if people put PV on their rove and want to sell electricity they have to become a company - so the people need to learn that language since they do business now and have to pay taxes and such...   
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bruce Steele on December 07, 2014, 09:06:24 PM
Wili, I was hoping someone out there could put some good EROEI numbers on your solar EROEI question. I looked around and found a claim at the 7 figure you mentioned but it wasn't sourced so I blew it off. It seems like we could better answer this but if you don't accurately describe all the energy inputs in each energy source you never really get to a good apples to apples comparison. Damn important to get some numbers we could all have some confidence in.
 I paid for the solar option but just flinging crap at the wall hoping I have made the right decision with
$ 28,000solar array( and  a new roof+ $10,000 , $38,000 total with about  $9,000  in tax breaks) I won't likely ever have to spend again. If you and I can't get numbers on these questions then convincing my right wing friends that solar is a good investment will only be voodoo and smokescreens. 
   
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on December 07, 2014, 09:16:53 PM
Bruce, I believe it is hard to convince anybody with any EROI number since you may discuss every little thingy in the list and still you may not convince anybody. In my experience it is best to convince "right wing people" with the money you can make with PV - that is the thing they understand and rate important. I would not be sure if they are really interested in EROI or maybe just want to keep you busy...

And with the total cost you cover also the energy the craftsmen needs to get out of bed (that energy bound in the things to buy from the money...). Often this part is ignored but that can be 50% of "energy" invested... 
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on December 07, 2014, 09:45:43 PM
SAT - can I ask what  you mean by this-

"refinance without subsidies"
Bob - in industry if you want to produce something to make profit you may buy the machine on loan and pay the interest and the loan back with the profit. "Refinancing" is financing the machine reverse (not in advance). Normally if you can not refinance your investment you would not do it. So if you can not refinance wind then no new wind will be installed. That is to be avoided due to climate change.

"Without subsidies" means: Only with the money you get on the free market. So without the feed-in-tarife or something like that.

edit: Private people normally get a loan only, if they have 20-50% of the money in advance to reduce the risk for banks and such. And since they make no profit they do not refinance. But if people put PV on their rove and want to sell electricity they have to become a company - so the people need to learn that language since they do business now and have to pay taxes and such...   

That is not how the word "refinancing" is used in the US.

Refinancing means to replace an existing loan because a) its term expired or b) you found a better rate.

Power plants are financed.  Generally they make take on a construction loan which may have a higher interest rate as the risk is greater.  The plant may not be completed (happened with a lot of nuclear reactors). 

Then, when the project is brought on line, there's a switch to a new operating loan.  It may even be with the same lender but at a lower rate and for a longer term.

Most companies would not break ground on a new project unless they had both the construction loan and operational loan in hand.

New projects will not be built if there is no market for their electricity.  If the market isn't there the project won't get their construction loan.

 
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on December 07, 2014, 09:53:24 PM
Quote
Wili, I was hoping someone out there could put some good EROEI numbers on your solar EROEI question.

(https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi619.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Ftt275%2FBob_Wall%2Fd8bd4ba13c8f83ca754098e914095df1.png&hash=35e24855795e4912135d63926e6501af) (http://s619.photobucket.com/user/Bob_Wall/media/d8bd4ba13c8f83ca754098e914095df1.png.html)

A silicon solar panel returns embedded energy in under two years and produces electricity for 20 or more years.

20+ / <2 = 10+

That is the lower bound ERoEI for a silicon solar panel.

-----

A thin film solar panel returns embedded energy in under one year and produces electricity for 20 or more years.

20+ / <1 = 20+

That is the lower bound ERoEI for a thin film panel.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on December 07, 2014, 09:58:24 PM
Quote
And with the total cost you cover also the energy the craftsmen needs to get out of bed (that energy bound in the things to buy from the money...). Often this part is ignored but that can be 50% of "energy" invested...

Exactly.  What matters is final cost of product.

Anti-renewable people try to use ERoEi, energy density, variable output, amount of concrete, and anything else they can scrounge up to argue against renewables.  The only important metrics are a) cost and b) are you using up some input that is finite and our supply is low.

(Time of delivery is a different issue.  It has nothing to do with cost of electricity from a source.  It has to do with value to the grid.)
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on December 07, 2014, 09:58:52 PM
That is not how the word "refinancing" is used in the US.
OK - another possible translation for the German word is "refund". Is that better?

Important is: if you invest your money in something you want the money back and also some interest rate. If the profit is not at least that high you would not do it. in that case the climate would be doomed. So we have to design the market that way, that we are sure this will not happen. Right? And all I tried to explain and to back up with data is: In Germany is a market in which that is not possible without subsidies. We could change the market system or we continue with subsidies. Whatever people like more - that doesn't matter for me.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on December 07, 2014, 10:02:12 PM
No, refund means to give back some of what has already been paid.

Let's make sure we're being clear.  Setting aside the words you're talking about

a) financing while the project is being built and

b) financing after the project is being built, financing that extends until the loan is paid?

Or are you talking about something else?
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on December 07, 2014, 10:11:56 PM
Quote
I looked around and found a claim at the 7 figure you mentioned but it wasn't sourced so I blew it off.

That 7 number comes from a paper by a guy with the last name of Weissbach.

In it he takes out of date energy payback numbers for wind (perhaps for solar, I haven't checked) and then adds in the energy inputs for storage and backup generation. 

He compares this to the ERoEI he picks for nuclear and coal (I have not checked to see if he uses realistic numbers or 'best case') and then fails to include storage and backup energy inputs for nuclear and coal.

Clearly nuclear and coal plants require backup generation.  They are offline for 10%/15% of the time in best of conditions.  Sometimes these plants go offline for weeks, months and years.

As well, since neither nuclear and coal can precisely load-follow they need some sort of storage or dispatchable generation to deal with faster supply/demand changes.


Weissbach ignored these support systems for nuclear and coal but charged them to wind and solar.  It's a most dishonest paper.  Anytime you see anyone talking about solar having an ERoEI of 7 you can bet it came from here -

http://festkoerper-kernphysik.de/Weissbach_EROI_preprint.pdf (http://festkoerper-kernphysik.de/Weissbach_EROI_preprint.pdf)

Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on December 07, 2014, 10:15:07 PM
No, refund means to give back some of what has already been paid.

Let's make sure we're being clear.  Setting aside the words you're talking about

a) financing while the project is being built and

b) financing after the project is being built, financing that extends until the loan is paid?

Or are you talking about something else?
Bob - are you kidding?
Let us take the example of PV on your roof: You need the money before it is build to pay someone to build it. After it is build you expect the money and the interest rate back - e.g. in 20 years by selling the electricity to the grid (today with feed-in-tarife of ~10 ct/kWh  - after end of subsidies with 2.5 ct/kWh...).

Since we have feed-in-tarife here fixed for 15-20 years it is easy to get a loan from a bank since the bank knows, it will get its money + interest back (the invest will be refunded or whatever word you use here). If this would not be the case, the bank would not give a loan and it makes economically no sense for you. The same works with a wind mill or even a big nuclear power plant: You will not do the investment if you are not sure, that you will get the money back + interest + hopefully some profit.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on December 07, 2014, 10:56:21 PM
No, I am not kidding. 

I am making a large effort to figure out what you are talking about.  When you use English words in a non-standard way communication is difficult.

Now it seems that you are trying to talk about whether roof-top solar will pay for itself in Germany.

Is that the case?
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on December 07, 2014, 11:05:01 PM
No, I am not kidding. 

I am making a large effort to figure out what you are talking about.  When you use English words in a non-standard way communication is difficult.

Now it seems that you are trying to talk about whether roof-top solar will pay for itself in Germany.

Is that the case?
Bob, I am sorry, that I am not a native speaker and my words may not be precise. That is a pity since actually those words should be precise.

But you could also try to be precise. You asked me to explain what I tried to say by using the word "refinance". So I tried to explain that with some examples, which should help you to understand, what I did try to explain in the 20-30 posts I did use to explain you a simple fact.

Now you ask me, if I tried to explain "whether roof-top solar will pay for itself in Germany"? You are really asking me that??? After I did explain you that even wind can not pay for itself in our market without subsidies? Don't you know that PV is still more expensive so the subsidies for PV roof-top are way larger than wind? No - I do not think that you ask me that. I think you know that roof-top PV is more expensive and thus that you are kidding again.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on December 07, 2014, 11:10:19 PM
Since this problem is essential I want to use a citation, since it could be, that you do not understand me since I am not a native speaker (from here http://www.agora-energiewende.org/topics/electricity-market-and-system-reliability/how-does-germanys-electricity-market-work/ (http://www.agora-energiewende.org/topics/electricity-market-and-system-reliability/how-does-germanys-electricity-market-work/)):
Quote
In addition, there is the question of whether the energy-only market will ever be in a position to refinance wind power and solar power, even if their total costs are below those of coal or gas power plants. For the problem of wind power and photovoltaic systems, based as they are on the marginal-cost-determined spot market, is that they price themselves out of the market. When the wind blows and the sun shines, all the wind and PV systems within the same weather zone produce electricity at the same time. Once a certain number of wind turbines and PV systems are in the system, this impacts the price on the electricity market. Thus, when the wind blows and/or the sun shines, a lot of power is available with a marginal cost of zero, the market price decreases because power plants with more expensive marginal cost won’t be needed and power plants with lower marginal costs will determine the market price (the so-called merit-order effect). As a consequence, wind and solar power cannot refinance themselves on today’s break-even market.

Please find also attached a picture explaining, how our market is working (from same source as the quotation above):
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on December 07, 2014, 11:30:13 PM
First, I am not criticizing you for your English.  I live with someone whose native language is not English and we struggle constantly to communicate.  She speaks marginal English and I know about a dozen words in her language.

Quote
Now you ask me, if I tried to explain "whether roof-top solar will pay for itself in Germany"? You are really asking me that???

Yes.  I am still trying to understand what you are talking about.

And you confuse me further...

Quote

 After I did explain you that even wind can not pay for itself in our market without subsidies?

Don't you know that PV is still more expensive so the subsidies for PV roof-top are way larger than wind? No - I do not think that you ask me that. I think you know that roof-top PV is more expensive and thus that you are kidding again.

I am 100% sure (OK, 99.999% sure) that wind is cheaper than new coal and new nuclear.  And I'm also convinced that PV solar, when installed for less than $2/watt is cheaper than new coal and new nuclear.

Do you disagree that wind and solar are less expensive than new coal and new nuclear?

And, if so, what numbers do you use and where do you get them?
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on December 07, 2014, 11:42:07 PM
Do you disagree that wind and solar are less expensive than new coal and new nuclear?

And, if so, what numbers do you use and where do you get them?
No, Bob. I did never disagree on that. I told you several times that the costs are not the problem in refinancing. I suggest you read the article linked above (#622), maybe you can understand those words better than mine. I am quite sure now, that you did not get the slightest clue about the things I tried to explain you...
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bruce Steele on December 07, 2014, 11:55:44 PM
Bob & Satire, Everybody here knows this is more than a question of economics. There are tax breaks and incentives that cloud our decisions re. Money.  What the actual energy costs ( calories ) involved in final rollout for nuclear, wind ,solar or fossil fuel power delivery including cement for nuclear& wind, methane emissions from natural gas drilling or any other cost in delivery to end user for energy should involve an accounting.Somewhere there should be a way to enter energy costs and energy returns in the accounting books or we will forever be lost in the weeds. Never been fond of money as the first and final decision matrix. BAU is happy with our confusion and religious support of the almighty $.     
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on December 08, 2014, 12:13:40 AM
OK, I read the article you linked " How Does the German Electricity Market Work?"

First, a general statement.  If the present or planned German electricity market will not pay for enough generation to keep the lights on it will be changed.  The future German electricity grid will be heavily wind and solar because 1) Germany is closing nuclear, 2) Germany is very unlikely to build more coal but rather close coal, 3) natural gas will remain expensive, and 4) Germany has no appreciable hydro resources to tap.

Germans will pay what wind and solar costs.  And luckily for Germans, wind and solar are becoming cheap.

Now, this jumped out at me.  Because it's incorrect.

Quote
The Energiewende exacerbates this issue: Even with ever increasing amounts of renewable energy Germany will require almost as many fossil fuel plants as we have today in order to compensate for low-wind and sun-deficient hours (for example, during winters) and to meet demand. However, many of these plants will operate only a few hours a year.

Germany and most/all other countries will install storage.  Germany will likely install more wind and solar than is needed in the best of times because that will provide more power during the worst of times.  Over-building, in some circumstances, is cheaper than storage.  And Germany will continue to exchange power with its neighbors, most likely those exchanges will increase.

Take a look at this graph of German wind and solar production over a year...

(https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi619.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Ftt275%2FBob_Wall%2FGermany-renewable-energy-power-weekly.png&hash=edd72f7d4ef96737b521dab0b9bfbc60) (http://s619.photobucket.com/user/Bob_Wall/media/Germany-renewable-energy-power-weekly.png.html)

There's an optimal horizontal line that one can draw across that graph (let's assume it to be 1.25 TWh) that minimizes the amount of storage, over-building, and even deep fossil fuel backup.

A four year study of the largest wholesale grid in the US found that a combination of over-building, storage and 7 hours per year of fossil fuel use made an affordable supply of electricity. 

We do that now in the US.  We pay some plants for "capacity", to be available to assist the grid even if they are almost never needed.  And since those plants will already be paid off they  won't require large amounts of money to be standing by.

This claim - "Germany will require almost as many fossil fuel plants as we have today in order to compensate for low-wind and sun-deficient hours (for example, during winters)" is incorrect.


Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on December 08, 2014, 12:20:50 AM
Bob & Satire, Everybody here knows this is more than a question of economics. There are tax breaks and incentives that cloud our decisions re. Money.  What the actual energy costs ( calories ) involved in final rollout for nuclear, wind ,solar or fossil fuel power delivery including cement for nuclear& wind, methane emissions from natural gas drilling or any other cost in delivery to end user for energy should involve an accounting.Somewhere there should be a way to enter energy costs and energy returns in the accounting books or we will forever be lost in the weeds. Never been fond of money as the first and final decision matrix. BAU is happy with our confusion and religious support of the almighty $.   

Bruce, just speaking for the US, it ain't going to happen.

We pay between $140 billion and $242 billion every year in taxpayer dollars to cover the external cost of coal.  If we had a Chernobyl/Fukushima ($100+ billion) type disaster taxpayers would pick up the cost.  We've spent and estimated $9 trillion on oil wars.  We will never put those costs back on coal, nuclear and oil.

To date nuclear has received more than $185 billion in direct subsidies.  Wind and solar have received something around $25 billion.  Wind and solar are short years from no more subsidies.  Any future nuclear reactors will receive direct and indirect subsidies.

Life is not fair.  But wind and solar are becoming so inexpensive that they will bring about the end of coal and nuclear.  And EVs along with other electricity-based transportation should wipe out most oil use.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bruce Steele on December 08, 2014, 12:34:41 AM
Bob, Some days the inevitability of things makes me , very tired, angry, and bummed. Doesn't mean I am going to give up the fight and failure is always a real possibility. BTW any time I use the word religion I have already gone too far. Apologies for the angry part.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: crandles on December 08, 2014, 12:47:08 AM
Bob, Satire point of an electricty price differential between when it is windy and not windy is perfectly clear. You dismiss this with


Quote
More wind in such a situation wouldn't make sense. The market would clearly point this out with zero or negative prices when it is windy and high prices when it isn't. To ignore the prices that the market is pointing out is ludicrous.

Zero/negative wholesale prices arise only because coal and nuclear can't shut down and restart quickly.  Wind and solar can sell on open markets for a little over zero cents as they have low operating costs and no fuel costs.  A little profit is better than no profit.

As coal and nuclear go away so will zero/negative prices.

I disagree. While these are factors involved in how big the price differential will go, the main cause is excess supply when it is windy.

If there is sufficient supply when there is very little wind then there is bound to be excess supply when it is windy unless you can export large amounts of power. A sensible market will create different prices: higher when it isn't windy and lower when it is windy.

Assume subsidies are ceased and you cannot yet export large amounts of power.

This means that just because wind costs less say 3.7 cent/KWh than gas at 6.1 cents/KWh does not mean the market will install more wind if the wholesale electricity prices are 2.5 cent/KWh when it is windy and 7 cent/KWh when there is little wind. (In reality, there are various levels of wind but lets ignore that as it just complicates the analysis.)

Solar at 5.4 cent/KWh would be installed while wind at 3.7 cent /KWh would not be installed.

Obviously as coal / lignite / nuclear plants reach end of lives, prices will rise and as more generating capacity is added prices fall.

You may not like this, but this is the way it is. I don't understand why you are not accepting this reality of lower prices when it is windy albeit with caveats like the power distribution will improve and storage will become cheaper such that the gap will reduce.

.
Within a week wind can come and go so you need to look at hourly graphs not weekly total graphs.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: Bob Wallace on December 08, 2014, 01:43:00 AM
Quote
Bob, Satire point of an electricty price differential between when it is windy and not windy is perfectly clear. You dismiss this with

Yes, because it is not the price at a given moment, but the average price over time.  There are times at which solar is driving Germany's wholesale electricity very low.

(https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi619.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Ftt275%2FBob_Wall%2FGermanyPreandPostSolar.jpg&hash=707488e597898edbd25b429653345c56) (http://s619.photobucket.com/user/Bob_Wall/media/GermanyPreandPostSolar.jpg.html)

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I disagree. While these are factors involved in how big the price differential will go, the main cause is excess supply when it is windy.

Wind is over 100% of demand?  Or is it that the total amount of wind + coal + nuclear + everything else is over 100% of demand? 

The problem to me seems to be that Germany has a excess of "always on" generation that can't easily be shut off when there is plenty of cheap wind available. 

Quote
Assume subsidies are ceased and you cannot yet export large amounts of power.

This means that just because wind costs less say 3.7 cent/KWh than gas at 6.1 cents/KWh does not mean the market will install more wind if the wholesale electricity prices are 2.5 cent/KWh when it is windy and 7 cent/KWh when there is little wind. (In reality, there are various levels of wind but lets ignore that as it just complicates the analysis.)

Solar at 5.4 cent/KWh would be installed while wind at 3.7 cent /KWh would not be installed.

Obviously how much of which will be determined not only by absolute cost but also when each source delivers and what the grid needs at specific times.  I've been talking about that in terms of "Value to the grid".

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Obviously as coal / lignite / nuclear plants reach end of lives, prices will rise and as more generating capacity is added prices fall.

No, that's not so obvious.  It may be the case over a short term but let's look at why power is cheaper now.

The German grid, as is the case with many others, has a large amount of paid off coal and nuclear capacity.  Since both have rather low fuel costs they can sell power for a profit at a reasonable cost.  But those plants are going away.  Either because Germany intentionally closes them or because they will "wear out" and have to be replaced.  Replacement coal and nuclear plants would be very expensive.

I'm going to use US prices for a while.  Simply because I know them best.

New wind (unsubsizided) is about 4 cents.  New solar (unsubsidized) is about 7 cents.  New nuclear (subsidized) is over 12 cents.  New coal (without external costs) is over 15 cents.

Replacing closed/worn out nuclear plants will be cheaper with wind, solar and storage/dispatchable fill-in.

After 20 years or so those wind farms and solar panels will be paid off and will produce power for a penny per kWh or less.  Cheaper than power from a paid off coal or nuclear plant. 

Our future mix of new renewable and paid off renewable gen will be cheaper than would a future mix of new coal/nuclear and paid off coal/nuclear.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: crandles on December 08, 2014, 01:32:03 PM

Quote
I disagree. While these are factors involved in how big the price differential will go, the main cause is excess supply when it is windy.

Wind is over 100% of demand?  Or is it that the total amount of wind + coal + nuclear + everything else is over 100% of demand? 

I am talking wind + coal + nuclear + everything else is over 120% of demand. I believe you need 120% of demand rather than 100% for a safety margin. That 20% figure may vary but probably needs to be more if generation is more variable as well as demand being variable.

Quote
The problem to me seems to be that Germany has a excess of "always on" generation that can't easily be shut off when there is plenty of cheap wind available. 

Obviously how much of which will be determined not only by absolute cost but also when each source delivers and what the grid needs at specific times.  I've been talking about that in terms of "Value to the grid".

You now seem to be not only accepting that what Satire is talking about is real but also saying you have been talking about it which seems a sudden jump in progress.

Quote
There are times at which solar is driving Germany's wholesale electricity very low.

When are those two graphed days? (presumably is during summer). During Winter solar is fairly insignificant. Looking at several weeks like 32 that Satire posted earlier or 33 or .... It seems to me that solar is fine as it occurs during peak demand as you have pointed out. Therefore there is scope for further expansion of this type of renewable.

There is some extra scope for more wind generation in Germany but before long it will reach a point where total demand is more than satisfied by wind when winds are strong. At this point adding more wind starts to look less attractive due to inefficiency but this is significantly alleviated by its cheaper cost.

Germany's wholesale electricity is always very low and at those prices alone all generators would be losing money. However the subsidised generators don't get those prices alone - they are allowed to pass on the difference between what they get from those markets and the subsidies that are paid. It is possible that this means that subsidies cannot be removed in Germany for a considerable number of years but this isn't too bad provided the subsidies are set at sensible levels. i.e. if there is sufficient generating capacity without producing too much CO2 you set the subsidies at a really low level like 1 cent/KWh. If more generating capacity is forecast to be needed then you increase the subsidies until sufficient projects start construction.

Government can effectively decide what type of renewable to build by setting different subsidy levels by type of generation. While it might be preferable for industry to decide (profit motive rather than corruption risk and foolish interference to try to create jobs and growth), I think there is sufficient market information available that government should be able to set sensible subsidy levels.
Title: Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
Post by: SATire on December 08, 2014, 05:46:08 PM
OK, I read the article you linked " How Does the German Electricity Market Work?"
[snip]
Now, this jumped out at me.  Because it's incorrect.

Quote
The Energiewende exacerbates this issue: Even with ever increasing amounts of renewable energy Germany will require almost as many fossil fuel plants as we have today in order to compensate for low-wind and sun-deficient hours (for example, during winters) and to meet demand. However, many of these plants will operate only a few hours a year.

Germany and most/all other countries will install storage.  Germany will likely install more wind and solar than is needed in the best of times because that will provide more power during the worst of times.  Over-building, in some circumstances, is cheaper than storage.  And Germany will continue to exchange power with its neighbors, most likely those exchanges will increase.
[...]
This claim - "Germany will require almost as many fossil fuel plants as we have today in order to compensate for low-wind and sun-deficient hours (for example, during winters)" is incorrect.
Bob, they are right and you are wrong in this point, too. Germany did install storage: 40 GWh pump hydro - most good places are already used now. And that is really peanuts. Forget your baseline: For 2 weeks in winter without wind we would need >20 TWh storage. To feel save we would need >