Running the Numbers, and the Country, on Renewables

January 15, 2013

There is general agreement across the (sane, rational) political spectrum that renewable energy is the future. In 2009, Scientific American published a detailed vision of how a renewable planet could be achieved, and what such a world might look like.

Now, in a major effort at the University of Delaware, a much more detailed and specific look at how a shift to renewables could replace, watt for watt, the current system in a large regional grid called the PJM Interconnection, representing 13 states and one fifth of the US grid.

IEEE Spectrum:

Intermittency may be a problem for an individual wind farm or solar power plant, but a diverse array of renewable energy systems—coupled with storage in the form of batteries or hydrogen tanks—apparently wouldn’t suffer such issues.

study by researchers at the University of Delaware modeled how well renewables could sustain a big chunk of the U.S. grid—72 gigawatts worth, where the entire country has a capacity just north of 1000 GW—and found as high as 99.9 percent reliability at reasonable costs.

The Delaware researchers evaluated 28 billion combinations of renewable energy and storage, modeled out over a theoretical four-year period using historical weather and electricity load requirement data. “At 2030 technology costs and with excess electricity displacing natural gas, we find that the electric system can be powered 90 to 99.9 percent of hours entirely on renewable electricity, at costs comparable to today’s,” the authors wrote. Senior author Willett Kempton has long pushed forvehicle-to-grid (V2G) systems in which plugged in electric vehicles can provide power back to the grid.

-

The 99.9 percent figure can be achieved with, for example, 17 GW of solar power, 68 GW of offshore wind, and 115 GW of onshore wind. The most cost-effective solutions featured huge excesses of generation capacity—up to three times the load requirements at times—in order to minimize costly power storage additions. The authors wrote that “at 2030 technology costs, 90 percent of load hours are met at electric costs below today’s.”

University of Delaware:

One of several new findings is that a very large electric system can be run almost entirely on renewable energy.

“For example, using hydrogen for storage, we can run an electric system that today would meeting a need of 72 GW, 99.9 percent of the time, using 17 GW of solar, 68 GW of offshore wind, and 115 GW of inland wind,” said co-author Cory Budischak, instructor in the Energy Management Department at Delaware Technical Community College and former UD student.

A GW (“gigawatt”) is a measure of electricity generation capability. One GW is the capacity of 200 large wind turbines or of 250,000 rooftop solar systems. Renewable electricity generators must have higher GW capacity than traditional generators, since wind and solar do not generate at maximum all the time.

The study sheds light on what an electric system might look like with heavy reliance on renewable energy sources. Wind speeds and sun exposure vary with weather and seasons, requiring ways to improve reliability. In this study, reliability was achieved by: expanding the geographic area of renewable generation, using diverse sources, employing storage systems, and for the last few percent of the time, burning fossil fuels as a backup.

During the hours when there was not enough renewable electricity to meet power needs, the model drew from storage and, on the rare hours with neither renewable electricity or stored power, then fossil fuel. When there was more renewable energy generated than needed, the model would first fill storage, use the remaining to replace natural gas for heating homes and businesses and only after those, let the excess go to waste.

The study used estimates of technology costs in 2030 without government subsidies, comparing them to costs of fossil fuel generation in wide use today. The cost of fossil fuels includes both the fuel cost itself and the documented external costs such as human health effects caused by power plant air pollution. The projected capital costs for wind and solar in 2030 are about half of today’s wind and solar costs, whereas maintenance costs are projected to be approximately the same.

Interview with study author Willet Kempton below:

Midwestern Energy News:

Midwest Energy News: Earlier studies showed that in theory there’s far more than enough wind and solar power to meet the world’s electricity demands. But many believe that wind and solar are too intermittent to be reliable as a source of baseload power, and our limited ability to store that energy until it’s needed will keep us continually reliant on fossil fuels for baseload power. You found that wasn’t the case. If renewables and storage were adopted as you describe in this study, what would the electrical grid look like in 2030?

Kempton: You have a diversity of sources because you’re more likely to have power generated when you need it if you have onshore wind and offshore wind and some solar. A lot of the time you’re generating more power than you need. And when you are doing that you store it, but before long your storage fills up, so most of the time you’ve got excess power.

Sometimes, when you don’t have enough power being generated by renewables, you discharge your storage and run on that, plus whatever renewables you’ve got. And a few times per year, you actually have to look to some other source. In our analysis we used fossil, using legacy plants that are already in existence, and just running them much less frequently.

So, that’s what the system looks like: Lots of apparently excess renewables, a very small amount of storage, and some older fossil plants that are being kept around for these situations.

Earlier computer modeling efforts by renewable energy analysts had tried to match wind, solar and hydro generation to electricity use to see if renewables could provide reliable electricity. Your model instead tested 28 billion combinations of renewables and storage and sought out those that were least expensive. Why did you seek to minimize cost rather than maximize reliability?

We did set a reliability limit, so we said you have to enough power to run the system 30 percent of the time, enough for 90 percent of the time, enough for 99.9 percent of the time. For each of these, we ran for minimum cost. The reason we did that is that we really were trying to match two fluctuating things. People talk about renewable energy fluctuating, but load also fluctuates. So, unless you really understand whether the fluctuations are in sync or out of sync, it’s very hard to know how much renewable generation you need to make load.

[It’s also hard to know] which types, because wind on land tends to peak in production more in the evening, though that varies with location. Wind offshore tends to be more constant, but tends to peak when you have storm patterns moving through.  And solar, of course, peaks at noon. So, what’s the least-cost combination of those three and storage? We couldn’t know that in advance. We really had to try all combinations.

Your model found that the most affordable renewable-dominated grid was one with more than twice the generation capacity than would seem to be needed. Does that mean the excess energy would be wasted?

If we only had today’s uses of electricity, and didn’t change anything about how we use electricity, than yes it would be wasted. But what we saw when we did this model is that the excess primarily occurs in the cold months. That’s not necessarily something we expected. I mean, we knew there was more wind in the winter. We’re getting lots of excess electricity, especially September, October through May.

And lo and behold, that’s when we’re using a lot of fuels for heating. So . . . we asked the question, suppose we displaced natural gas for heating with this excess electricity? And when you calculate the energy value of that excess electricity, it’s pretty close to the same as the amount of energy burned for natural gas.

In this study, you sought to minimize all the costs of burning fossil fuels, and you included costs that ratepayers don’t pay for today, such as the damaging health and environmental effects of harvesting and burning coal and natural gas. Given the political power of utilities and fossil fuel companies, that seems like a big assumption. Why do you think it’s justified?

We’re not saying this is going to happen. We’re not saying this is a prediction of the future. We’re just saying let’s just look at what the costs are. Because people say, Renewable energy is expensive, or electric cars are expensive. Let’s figure out what the cost actually is.

Say I opened up a new business. I want to buy some things, manufacture a product and sell it, but I’m going to take some of the costs and I’m going to put it on somebody else’s ledger. So I’m not going to actually pay for the steel I’m using. I’m going to charge Dan for that. Well, I’m going to be able to offer my product at a lower price.

That’s what the fossil fuel industry is doing right now. Especially with health costs, which is an immediate, current cost that actually just goes right over on the ledger of health.

We’re not saying that’s going to change, just like I wouldn’t have said in 1960 people are going to stop smoking cigarettes. We’re just saying, what is the actual cost of this? So don’t tell me that cigarettes are cheap, or that electricity from coal is cheap–it is, by market price–but that’s not the total cost. We were trying to calculate total cost.

At the same time, we did not subsidize the renewables. We didn’t say, hey, there’s a production tax credit now and that’s a cool policy and you can get the taxpayers to pay for part of your wind turbine. We took away all the subsidies. We just put the actual costs of renewables and the actual cost of fossil, and put them together.

To achieve the sort of all-renewable grid that you write about, do we need new or improved generation or storage technologies?

We did not assume any technological changes. We took the numbers that were projected for 2030–what the same technologies would cost then, with the kind of minor refinements you get when you manufacture a product over 20 years. And, we took the cost projected for storage. I don’t think that’s realistic. I think that we will have step changes in both storage and in renewable generation, and they’ll probably occur before 2020, much less by 2030. But we didn’t assume that. We just assumed current technologies with refinements, but not new discoveries.

What policy changes would have to happen to make the grid you describe a reality?

My first answer would be let’s just charge what stuff costs. So, a new technology gets subsidized for 10 or 15 years, but if you’ve got external costs, they ought to be included in the price. So, we can estimate, when you build a coal plant, you don’t know if Jones is going to die of cancer vs. Smith, but you know from epidemiological studies that it will cause approximately this many deaths and lost work days and so forth. So that should be part of the cost of generation. If you do that, then the market will just do this stuff by itself.

In the policy area, the other way to do it is what we’re doing now, which is to subsidize renewables until they get to enough volume that they’re actually able to compete without subsidies. But that’s a policy answer.

The other way to answer the question is, What would we do to get there? I think I would say we would need some analysis by the energy planners to ask not just what’s cheaper today–onshore wind or offshore wind or solar–but to ask what kind of systems do we want when we build this out to 30 percent or 50 percent of our energy production from renewables. Our study shows you don’t want to keep just picking the cheapest source. You want to pick sources that go together so that one that might be a bit more expensive, but produces power when your cheaper ones are not producing much power–you want to have that as part of the mix.

That’s not the way we do planning now. You need another 100 MW? What’s the cheapest way to do it? That [describes] all state energy planning and all [utility] planning. Nobody’s doing this kind of analysis like we have done here.

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29 Responses to “Running the Numbers, and the Country, on Renewables”

  1. Bruce Miller Says:

    Strangely enough, Hydro a renewable = perpetual = eternal, and Tidal, and Geothermal too, which are not intermittent: are not mentioned here – nor is Biological –
    an Ontario Canada farmer puts power into the grid when it profits him most – peak demand times – with German built methane burning generators run off methane from his cow manure anaerobic digestors! He stores the methane, (standard propane tanks!) starts up the engines when the meters indicate top profit and flattens the peak demand curves in his region – from manure!
    Anaerobic digestion of humanure another renewable = perpetual = eternal resource flow can do the same. Cities! Wake Up! Save your shit! turn it to money! Even sell remaining sludges, processed into top soil building fertilizers for even more money!
    China supplements her energy picture now with clean cheap, Thorium reactors but the U.S.A. is too fucking dumb to figure this one out it seems, (Bill Gates’ company in China with working “neutron Guns as we speak!) Canada has CANDU reactors reconfigured in China operating on clean thorium fuel as we speak – and these plants are only supplemental to China’s massive Solar, Wind, Wave, Hydro, Tidal, Geothermal, Biological, domestic, clean renewable – perpetual = eternal energy sources.
    Also: the horrendous costs of accumulated nuclear waste disposal (P.S. a fuel for China’s Thorium LFTR reactors) for the current American designed, circa 1950’s, enriched uranium, fuckoshima styled reactors has yet to be included in the price of the commodity(electricity) sold. WTF? This “Special” kind of costing out has led to the bull shit “comparison” figures to Solar, Wind, Wave, Hydro, Tidal, Geothermal and Biological domestic energy methods. Also omitted by some hard to fathom “American Schoolboy” logic: the notions of renewable = perpetual = eternal, and no decommissioning costs, no re-fueling costs, rising scarcity of Uranium factors? For even more honesty: To stay wedded to foreign Oil, America pays huge interest payments to a thriving China (weakening America) for the loan of money (Yuan gets stronger) to pay “World Oil Prices” (rising due to high demand, highest bids, in Yuan) for the foreign oil U.S. burns (over 80% Oil U.S. burns is foreign). The real cost of this cycle when properly calculated by sane mathematics is astronomical. When this oil cost is compared to the renewable domestic energy, Btu for Btu, the reality of the situation is shocking!
    Prairie Wind Corridor is calculated by American scientists (dependable folk) to contain more Btu’s per year than all Saudi Arabia has(forever) at the moment! and: this is renewable energy source, like a bonanza Oil field that can never go dry! Renewable = Perpetual = Eternal Power for America! and: no foreign bank loans to pay, no interest on foreign bank loans to pay, no shipping to pay, no warring to protect foreign shipping lanes for oil to pay, no warring for the plundering for oil to pay, no parasite OPEC nations to support, nobody can ever “cut” this supply to “strong arm” the U.S. government again. More?
    South Western U.S.A. has the same amount of electrical energy potential! All over again! all renewable = perpetual = Eternal power to the American people! and will never go dry like the Texas oil did! More?
    Off-shore Wind as already measured by U.S. Scientists has the same renewable = perpetual = eternal Btu’s for the American peon – forever! Tidal power already used in Scotland, Wave power a contributor, Geothermal is very big in Germany, Switzerland, and just for Hellery now, a better liquid fuel run in better engines with less pollution is possible synthesized from electricity and the very air we breathe! Even, with Biological adjuncts, methane can be made this way! H2 for military use is currently being developed, and the 20th Century lifestyles we cling so desperately to, are giving way now to the 21st Century technologies.


    • “World Oil Prices” (rising due to high demand, highest bids, in Yuan) for the foreign oil U.S. burns (over 80% Oil U.S. burns is foreign). The real cost of this cycle when properly calculated by sane mathematics is astronomical. When this oil cost is compared to the renewable domestic energy, Btu for Btu, the reality of the situation is shocking!

      The reality is that as far as electrical production goes oil plays contributes only 1.2 percent of the power generated in the US; petroleum liquids represented 0.7 percent, with the remainder from petroleum coke. If the US wants to cut down on imported oil, then liquefy natural gas and use it in vehicles like much of the rest of the world does.

      Year-to-date, coal-fired plants contributed 46.1 percent of the Nation’s electric power. Nuclear plants contributed 21.0 percent, while 20.5 percent was generated at natural gas-fired plants. Of the 1.2 percent generated by petroleum-fired plants, petroleum liquids represented 0.7 percent, with the remainder from petroleum coke. Conventional hydroelectric power provided 7.0 percent of the total, while other renewables (biomass, geothermal, solar, and wind) and other miscellaneous energy sources generated the remaining 4.1 percent of electric power”. (these figures have changed some since these figures were current, if you have any interest in this type of thing, look it up yourself.)

      http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/epm/epm_sum.html


      • For those that imagine that the only thing that petroleum is used for is fuel for their ride. They need to examine this list in detail for a different view of oils importance, such as all of the plastic high density pipe that is now being used instead of steel pipe that rust while the plastic almost impervious to many of the things that destroy steel.

        A partial list of products made from Petroleum (144 of 6000 items)

        One 42-gallon barrel of oil creates 19.4 gallons of gasoline. The rest (over half) is used to make things like:

        http://www.ranken-energy.com/Products%20from%20Petroleum.htm

         
        When China flexes its muscles…
        China is currently the number one producer in the world of wind and solar power, but don’t use it themselves. While they manufacture 80% of the world’s solar panels, they install less than 5% and build a new coal fired power station every week. In one year they turn on more new coal powered electricity than Australia’s total output.

        http://www.stockhouse.com/bullboards/messagedetailthread.aspx?p=0&m=31395259&l=0&r=0&s=amy&t=LIST


  2. “At the same time, we did not subsidize the renewables. We didn’t say, hey, there’s a production tax credit now and that’s a cool policy and you can get the taxpayers to pay for part of your wind turbine. We took away all the subsidies. We just put the actual costs of renewables and the actual cost of fossil, and put them together.”

    1) So they compared the cost of renewables with the costs of the petroleum industry which has already received many billions of dollars in subsidies.

    2) Why in the world would we NOT want to give renewable energies all the subsidies we can manage? Whether we have civilization as we know it is what is at issue here, after all.

    This is a crucial issue. For the past three decades, we have tried to use market-based incentives to encourage the adaptation of renewable energy and this approach has been a spectacular failure. In 2012, CO2 emissions were the largest in human history and accelerating. We have run put of time for a market-based approach.

    We must construct a 100% renewable energy national utility within 10 years if we have any chance of a non +4C world. We must make this a Federally-funded project. Dear God, can we please move away from this mind set that encouraged the authors of this study to not even calculate the advantages of government subsidies for renewable energy production???

    My rough calculation is that the entire world could build a 100% solar PV society – virtually eliminating the combustion of carbon fuels, for $40 trillion dollars. Joe Romm has repeatedly posted a study which calculated that the cost of staying on our present trajectory – using market-based strategies to no avail – will cost the world $1240 trillion dollars in mitigation costs by 2100 alone. That is 30 times more than the cost of using government monies to build large, super efficient installations.

    Anybody care to challenge my math? Anybody even seen calculations by a bona fide scientific panel which has even begun to DO the math?


  3. We had here in Australia, the ZCA2020 plan which was a ten year blueprint to shift all of Australia to 100% renewables in just a decade. It was a comprehensive study by University of Melbourne looking at everything from the technical aspects to social shifts from the changing workforce. It was fully costed and the reception it received was not even close to lukewarm. The lack of vision and political will in this country is astounding.

    • MorinMoss Says:

      Very cool. But the hard part will be finding the political will.


      • Not long after the plan came out I sent a copy to all 152 ofourfederal lower house politicians asking if they would consider implementing it. I received 7 replies. One idiot, and I no longer have the email unfortunately said, and I remember this word for word, “Saw that, read it, and am looking to implement it at a local level.” Clearly that politician hadn’t read it.

  4. joffan7 Says:

    Solar fans should be unhappy with this, I’d imagine. The economic message seems to be “Don’t bother with solar unless you’re going for that last 1% of supply”.

    And that seems to be correct – for solar PV, at any rate. Life costs for PV systems – which are no longer dominated by panel costs – are still significantly higher than wind. Once you identify that large-scale 24+h storage is a necessity in any case, even the advantage of solar daytime production cannot push it into the optimised solution.

    As a nuclear power fan myself, this report’s idea of a 6x overbuild of capacity with massive storage seems like an insupportable waste of effort and resources.

    • andrewfez Says:

      I think the overbuild is more like 3x. It’s 72/(17+68+115)=36%. That’s not bad considering all the wasted energy that happens everyday at the typical fossil energy plant, since they are not perfectly efficient:

      ————————————————————————————————-
      “Typical thermal efficiency for electrical generators in the industry is around 33% for coal and oil-fired plants, and 56 – 60% (LHV) for combined-cycle gas-fired plants. Plants designed to achieve peak efficiency while operating at capacity will be less efficient when operating off-design (i.e. temperatures too low.”

      Source: “ELECTRIC GENERATION EFFICIENCY: Working Document of the NPC Global Oil & Gas Study”. Highbeam Research. Retrieved 18 July 2007.

      ————————————————————————————————-

      Not to mention the poor efficiency of a internal combustion motor:

      “Most steel engines have a thermodynamic limit of 37%. Even when aided with turbochargers and stock efficiency aids, most engines retain an average efficiency of about 18%-20%.”

      Source: “Improving IC Engine Efficiency”. Courses.washington.edu. Retrieved 2010-08-28.
      ————————————————————————————————-

      I’d like to see a cost comparison between running the grid on 100% Nuclear versus 99% Renewables. The comparison should also take into account health and environmental risks of the full-nuclear scenario. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t nuclear one of the most heavily subsidized energy producers to date? My gut tells me the renewable plan would be significantly cheaper. But that’s not to say nuclear doesn’t have its place on the grid, especially the latest technology.

      • joffan7 Says:

        I was using table 8 (and I should have specified which numbers I was looking at), where the average power to load is about 32GW. That was my divisor, rather than the 72GW you used. And 200GW, the number we both generously used (since it was comfortably the lowest generation figure) is actually wrong, too, because we should have added the storage generation, which brings the true overbuild to about 8x.

        Some overbuild is not a bad thing, but awareness of the true number is important.

        The efficiency of thermal power stations is as irrelevant as the efficiency of solar panels.

        A full nuclear + storage solution – which I wouldn’t necessarily advocate – would require nuclear build to approximately 120% average demand, plus about 20% storage delivery. Then I’d add 10% average demand to both, for margin, giving a total of 1.6x overbuild (relative to average power) for generation and storage combined.

        Nuclear costs already essentially include environmental protection, with charges for spent fuel disposal and decommissioning included as part of the cost reckoned into the electricity produced.

        Subsidies are an area that people disagree about, often on the basis of pre-existing preferences. Nuclear subsidy figures are typically dominated by R&D, and often fail to split out science projects like fusion. Renewable subsidies are highest per power delivered and are dominated by operating subsidies, which suggests that they will not dilute at higher production levels.

        • greenman3610 Says:

          nuclear subsidies do not generally take into account the expense of an occasional war to stop other countries from acquiring nuclear weapons with safe, clean, cheap nuclear power.

          • joffan7 Says:

            That’s a desperate throw of the anti-nuclear dice which ignores geopolitical reality.

            Most countries using nuclear power do not have nuclear weapons. By contrast, countires attempting to acquire nuclear weapons do not do so as a spin-off of having nuclear power – they do so to alter the balance of power, regionally or globally. And mostly they don’t have nuclear power programs in the first place.

          • greenman3610 Says:

            There are no countries with nuclear weapons that didn’t start with “peaceful’ nuclear power.

          • joffan7 Says:

            Indeed there are such countries. I bet you could name at least two, if you tried.

            I don’t, incidentally, regard this line of argument as particularly relevant to the benefits of nuclear power.

          • greenman3610 Says:

            by all means – try.
            as to the relevance, our previous president regarded it as relevant to start “world war 3″ in his words.

          • joffan7 Says:

            I’m inviting you to try to name them – they are that obvious. You could think about countries that start with “U”.

            Are you really citing Bush II as a trustworthy source?


          • Uganda? Utopia? What’s it matter? The whole point of this is a discussion about renewables. Maybe in your world, uranium is a renewable resource but here in the real world it isn’t. Why take the risk anyway? Got some shares in a mine or two perhaps?

          • greenman3610 Says:

            I cite Bush II as the most perfect example of how and why unnecessary wars get started. give them an excuse, and they’ll do it.
            there are still a large number of neocons that are looking for Iran to give them that excuse, – just pick up a newspaper.
            btw, the first US nuclear reactor was built a decade before the Manhattan project – a “peaceful” research project.
            You are incorrect about Israel – they started their program a “peaceful” reactor from the French.
            It’s because we know that Israel is the model, that we are so concerned about places like Iran.
            I’ll concede UK and USSR developments as wartime programs – but your argument is a dodge if you pretend that
            the “peaceful” model is not a concern to national security.

          • joffan7 Says:

            First off, the very first man-made fission reactor was built at the University of Chicago in 1942 as part of the Manhattan project. There was no decade-earlier reactor and certainly no nuclear power program.

            Bush II is an example of why geopolitics has far more impact on weapons programs than nuclear power.

            Really, to make a sliver of your original point, you need a country that was generating nuclear electricity and then decided to embark on nuclear weapons. But there is no such country.

          • greenman3610 Says:

            you are correct. I was factually wrong on that.
            Nevertheless, the point remains. If nuclear is going to power the world, and if
            the energy growth of the new century is happening overwhelmingly in the developing
            world, then you will have to come up with a list of countries that we will
            “allow” to develop nuclear energy, and those that we must bomb, invade,
            and occupy.
            picture algeria, mali,syria, tunisia, yemen,somalia, the congo and sudan, with nukes.

          • joffan7 Says:

            Well, it’s a discussion worth having, but it isn’t a slam-dunk gotcha.

            Firstly, there are plenty of countries where nuclear power can take up a lot more of the load and nobody will worry. Secondly, it sounds like you already have a list, and I’m sure the State Department does, of countries where high-tech assistance of any sort, nuclear or otherwise, is not going and the military are keeping a close eye. And thirdly, you could probably say the same about Pakistan (at times) as a lot of those countries, but they already have nuclear weapons.

            History says that nuclear weapons do not follow nuclear power, though, basically.

          • joffan7 Says:

            United States, United Kingdom, USSR, and probably Israel are counterexamples to this tired claim, in case you didn’t get it.

  5. skeptictmac57 Says:

    Does anyone know what the smallest investment would be for a PV system with say,only one standard panel? What would be the minimum amount of equipment needed,assuming that you didn’t require any storage?


  6. IEEE has finally admitted that renewables are real – now that everyone else already knows. Don’t look now, but somebody did not read the article. “Your model found that the most affordable renewable-dominated grid was one with more than twice”. (not 6x) For everyone else who has been asking, yes renewables can power all the electricity at low costs, high reliability, and even without storage. Why? Electrical loads are variable seasonally, daily, etc. Its just matching the variable generation to the variable demand. Some would say more solar is better and this may be true, because solar produces the maximum during the day when demand is highest. Ironically, what is apparent from the article is the electrical demand and usage is not random. Lower rates and excess capacity caused by over generation would cause enough electricity to be available during winter that it would probably displace gas heating.

    The whole point of the article is to put to rest the notion that energy is only available when there is wind or sun in one place. Its a demand curve, not a straight line. With enough distributed wind and solar, and sharing loads and generation across a modern transmission grid, demand can be met with efficiency, reliability, and affordability.

    • joffan7 Says:

      Christopher, going to the numbers in the actual paper, Table 8, using the _lowest_ capacity build (H-storage) for 99.9%, you find that 200.4GW of renewable has been built to deliver 31.5GW of average demand. 200.4/31.5 = 6.36. And there’s another 58GW of storage supply capacity that isn’t counted there: 258.4/31.5 = 8.2.

      Read the article by all means, but don’t forget to check the numbers.


  7. Joffan – you seem to be lost in the details.

    “the electric system can be powered 90 to 99.9 percent of hours entirely on renewable electricity, at costs comparable to today’s,”

    So what’s your point? What difference does it make how much capacity or storage there is. What matters is whether its efficient, reliable, and economic. Study says it is.
    So far, you have shown nothing to contradict that.

    These studies are for a wide range of scenarios. Nobody said you couldn’t power most of the loads with good on time without storage. Either way, we are nowhere near the potential of renewable resources.

    “As a nuclear power fan myself, this report’s idea of a 6x overbuild of capacity with massive storage seems like an insupportable waste of effort and resources.”

    So you recalculated the numbers the way you liked them to appear, and discarded the main assertion of the report that said renewables were economic and reliable.
    To me it sounds like cherry-picking by a “nuclear power fan”.

    If it meets cost and reliability goals, your objection does not appear to be based on reason.


  8. [...] 2013/01/15: PSinclair: Running the Numbers, and the Country, on Renewables [...]


  9. [...] January I posted on a University of Delaware study showing how a key, energy intensive region of the country could be run entirely on renewable [...]


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