Adjustment will be a pretty simple matter that most people will not notice.


HOUSTON (Reuters) – As Monday’s total solar eclipse sweeps from Oregon to South Carolina, U.S. electric power and grid operators will be glued to their monitoring systems in what for them represents the biggest test of the renewable energy era.

Utilities and grid operators have been planning for the event for years, calculating the timing and drop in output from solar, running simulations of the potential impact on demand, and lining up standby power sources. It promises a critical test of their ability to manage a sizeable swing in renewable power.

Solar energy now accounts for more than 42,600 megawatts (MW), about 5 percent of the U.S.’s peak demand, up from 5 MW in 2000, according to the North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC), a group formed to improve the nation’s power system in the wake of a 1964 blackout. When the next eclipse comes to the United States in 2024, solar will account for 14 percent of the nation’s power, estimates NERC.

For utilities and solar farms, the eclipse represents an opportunity to see how well prepared their systems are to respond to rapid swings in an era where variable energy sources such as solar and wind are climbing in scale and importance.

Power companies view Monday’s event as a “test bed” on how power systems can manage a major change in supply, said John Moura, director of reliability assessment and system analysis at the North American Electric Reliability Corp.

    “It has been tested before, just not at this magnitude,” adds Steven Greenlee, a spokesman for the California Independent System Operator (CISO), which controls routing power in the nation’s most populous state.

CISO estimates that at the peak of the eclipse, the state’s normal solar output of about 8,800 MW will be reduced to 3,100 MW and then surge to more than 9,000 MW when the sun returns.

    CISO’s preparation includes studying how German utilities dealt with a 2015 eclipse in that country. Its review prompted the grid overseer to add an additional 200 MW to its normal 250 MW power reserves.

Read the rest of this entry »

Mike does a nice job explaining in simple terms for an Australian morning show.



If recent forecasts are accurate, the electric vehicle market is about to take off. The latest research on EVs from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) — which gets more optimistic every year — now estimates “that EVs will account for 54% of new car sales by 2040, not 35% as previously forecast,” which means that “a third of the global light-duty vehicle fleet will be electrified by 2040.”

That means tens of millions of batteries floating around, storing electricity while the cars aren’t in use and releasing it when they are.

Theoretically, all that energy storage could be very useful to the grid, which needs all the storage it can get in order to integrate more variable renewable energy. It needs big, steady, long-term storage, for monthly or yearly variations in sun and wind, but it also needs fast, responsive, short-term storage, to smooth out smaller variations of seconds, minutes, or hours — to provide “voltage regulation,” “frequency response,” and other grid services (many of which are now typically provided by natural gas plants, which will have to go soon).

The hope among EV enthusiasts is that, when they are not in use (remember, the average car is parked 90 to 95 percent of the time), all those EV batteries will be able to hook up to, and communicate with, the grid. If the grid could communicate simultaneously with thousands or millions of distributed EV batteries, it could treat them as one big virtual battery, capable of storing or producing electricity as circumstances require, serving that vital short-term storage role.

That would both help the grid, smoothing out variations in renewable energy, and increase the value of EV batteries, stimulating EV markets.

It’s called vehicle-to-grid, or V2G, and if it works, it will be a win-win.

Read the rest of this entry »

Greenland by Drone

August 20, 2017

One new tool I took to the Greenland ice this summer – a drone.

Game changer.

New York Times:

When medicine delivered a wave of vaccines in the 20th century, doctors predicted that widespread use would cause childhood deaths from illnesses like whooping cough and diphtheria to fall. The public trusted the doctors, and those deaths plummeted.

So what predictions has climate science made, and have they come true?

The earliest, made by a Swede named Svante Arrhenius in 1897, was simply that the Earth would heat up in response to emissions. That has been proved: The global average temperature has risen more than 1 degree Celsius, or almost 2 degrees Fahrenheit, a substantial change for a whole planet.

By the 1960s and ’70s, climate scientists were making more detailed predictions. They said that as the surface of the Earth warmed, the temperature in the highest reaches of the atmosphere would fall. That is exactly what happened.

The scientists told us that the Arctic would warm especially fast. They told us to expect heavier rainstorms. They told us heat waves would soar. They told us that the oceans would rise. All of those things have come to pass.

Considering this most basic test of a scientific theory, the test of prediction, climate science has established its validity.

NPR on Greenland Wildfires

August 18, 2017

All Things Considered:

More than two weeks after they were first spotted, wildfires on the western coast of Greenland are still burning, worrying local residents and drawing the attention of scientists.

The fires are roughly 90 miles northeast of the second-largest Greenlandic town, Sisimiut, as we previously reported. There are currently three growing hot spots, according to an analysis of NASA data by Stef Lhermitte, an assistant professor of geoscience and remote sensing at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands.

Nina-Vivi Andersen, a reporter for Nanoq News in the capital, Nuuk, has lived in Greenland her whole life and says she has never heard of a wildfire there.
“It’s very unusual,” she says, and the timing is particularly bad because reindeer hunting season just opened on Aug. 1.

Satellite data suggests that a campfire or a cigarette likely started the fires.