Scientific American: Wind Power to Stabilize Grid

September 18, 2014

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Scientific American:

Last month, General Electric (GE) consulting presented the results of a U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) sponsored study testing if wind turbines can be controlled to manage the stability of the electric grid. The authors found that wind turbines might actually be a valuable tool for controlling and stabilizing the grid in the future, disputing the conventional notion that wind energy doesn’t play well with the grid. To understand the source of this counterintuitive result—and its implications—let’s review the key aspect of power grid control at play here: frequency regulation.

Frequency regulation is the process through which the grid operator maintains the frequency of the grid’s alternating current at a precise, predetermined level. In the United States, for example, grids are strictly controlled to put out electric current with a frequency of 60 Hertz. To maintain this level of frequency, the grid operator must carefully ramp power plants up and down so that the total amount of electricity flowing into the grid is perfectly balanced with the total electricity being withdrawn by electricity customers.

The balance and frequency of the electric grid can be illustrated with the analogy of a spinning merry-go-round. The grid operator’s goal is to keep the grid’s electrical frequency constant, or to keep the merry-go-round in our analogy spinning at a constant speed. To increase the speed of the merry-go-round, the grid operator can order generators to increase their power output—or literally increase the torque on their spinning turbine shafts to “push” the grid up to speed. Electricity withdrawn from the grid by customers slows down the merry-go-round in our analogy, decreasing the grid’s electrical frequency. The inertia of the merry-go-round—or its tendency to stay in motion—is determined by the mass and momentum of all of the spinning turbines and generators feeding power into the grid. The job of the grid operator is to keep the whole system in balance by regulating the flow of power into the grid. The job of the grid operator is to keep the whole system in balance by regulating the flow of power into the grid so that it always matches electric load.

The grid’s alternating current varies like a sine wave. The frequency of this wave is controlled by all of the spinning generators feeding power into the grid. The grid operator controls the output of each generator to maintain a specified electrical frequency, e.g. 60 Hertz in the United States. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Concern about the effect of wind energy on the grid stems from the fact that wind turbines cannot produce power on demand, so intuitively it seems like adding too much wind energy might reduce the grid operator’s capability to keep the grid’s frequency balanced—but GE and NREL’s study suggests otherwise.

The study sought to model what would happen if the wind penetration of the eastern U.S. grid increased to 25 percent, a sharp increase versus today. The authors modeled the frequency and stability of the grid using equations similar to those for a spinning mass, like the merry-go-round referred to in our analogy above. Moreover, they modeled wind turbines equipped with commercially-available mechanical controls, which can tweak the pitch of the blades or the torque of the generator to slightly adjust the turbine’s power output as described in this recent paper.

Despite what intuition suggests, the authors found that wind turbines could actually help stabilize the grid if they hold back just 5 percent of their power output using governor and inertial mechanical controls. By doing so, turbines unlock the ability to rapidly increase or decrease their power output by a small amount if called upon to do so by the grid operator. The net effect of employing these controls is that the grid operator sees a relatively steady and predictable aggregate output signal from all of the wind turbines connected to the grid.

German Energy Transition:

It’s bad news for the folks insisting that renewables are wreaking havoc on the grid – last year, the average number of minutes of power outages in Germany fell below the already leading level of 2012 and below the average over the past seven years.

“German power supply remains very reliable, even in comparison to other European countries,” Homann adds.

It also remains very reliable in comparison to the US, though the Network Agency does not make that comparison – probably for a lack of data. The US does not collect reliable power outage statistics – SAIDI or otherwise – but all indications are that Americans easily put up with 10 times as many minutes of power outages on average per year.

Rocky Mountain Institute:

Denmark made a large-scale shift to decentralized energy beginning in the 1980s; its “cellular” grid—at over 50 percent—now leads the world for a country’s portion of electricity from decentralized energy resources. The main push for decentralization was to make the system more resilient to external shocks such as those that came about in the 1970s with the oil crisis. Although many government officials pushed for nuclear energy, there was strong opposition. By 1979 there had been a decisive shift in Danish society against the nuclear option and in favor of wind power, which grew dramatically over the next two decades. In 2013 almost a third of the country’s electricity consumptionwas covered by wind, and the majority of the turbines are owned by local cooperatives and individual farmers. It also has one of the highest rates of grid reliability in Europe.

Likewise, the German grid is one of the most reliable in Europe. In 2011, Germany set a record with a downtime of only 15.31 minutes (as measured by SAIDI—System Average Interruption Duration Index—a common measure of reliability used in both the U.S. and Europe). After Germany shut down over half of its 17 nuclear plants after the Fukushima accident, pronuclear activists claimed the grid would become unreliable. They couldn’t have been further from the truth. “The country not only avoided major blackouts during the winter,” according to CleanTechnica, “but its availability actually increased over the average going back to 2006, when reporting began thanks in part to the recent increases in small-scale renewable energy.” As a comparison, the United States had a downtime—not including planned interruptions or extreme weather events—of 240 minutes in 2007 (the most recent year for which national data is publicly available).

In fact, many European countries are now conducting research programs and pilot projects to encourage the use of distributed energy resources. In February 2013, reports Barbara Vergetis Lundin, editor of FierceSmartGrid, “the Spanish utility Iberdrola, along with 11 utilities and research institutions in Europe, developed the European iGREENGrid project to enhance the reliability, stability, and quality of power supply in the distribution network through the integration of distributed renewable energy systems into the grid.”

70 Responses to “Scientific American: Wind Power to Stabilize Grid”


  1. The article fails to mention that both Denmark and Germany get their reliability by burning coal.

    • MorinMoss Says:

      It’s hard to make out on the terribly squeezed chart but it looks to me that the Netherlands & Austria, (and Italy??) along with Germany are consistently significantly more reliable than France.

      Congrats on effectively undermining the case for nuclear as the base of a reliable grid.


    • More on Germany and coal.

      Looking for a long German word? Try “Kraftwerksstilllegungsanzeigenliste,” the list of (conventional) power plants for which a decommissioning request has been submitted. This month, the number reached 49 plants with a total capacity of 7,900 megawatts.

      http://www.renewablesinternational.net/german-utilities-want-to-shut-down-79-gw/150/537/80674/

      • dumboldguy Says:

        Another link that needs to really be read before making something big of it. A closer read reveals the following:

        “German utilities would LIKE to shut down 49 plants with a total capacity of 7.9 GW. The Network Agency, which has to review the requests to ensure reliability before giving its approval, has ONLY allowed 246 MW to be decommissioned to date, however”.

        “Of course MOT ALL of these plants will be shut down. Some 4.5 GW of them are in southern Germany, where bottlenecks are expected over the next few years as additional nuclear plants are removed up to 2022”.

        Translation: “A chatty snapshot of where things may or may not be heading in Germany. A projection that may or may not come true”. (Perhaps they’ll even need to burn some more lignite before it’s all over?)


      • Those coal,plants are requesting to shut down because they are a losing proposition. German utilities are losing money on coal, gas, and nuclear. German energy demand is low.
        http://nuclear-news.net/2013/08/19/german-utilities-losing-money-on-coal-gas-and-nuclear-plants/
        German coal use is headed down.
        http://www.renewablesinternational.net/german-coal-power-generation-at-10-year-low-in-august/150/407/81593/

        • dumboldguy Says:

          A new day, a new round of Arcus’s seeking out “references” with titles that seem to say what he WANTS to hear and posting them. And not really reading and understanding them before doing so, which means that he is again clouding the discussion rather than contributing. Why is he constantly trying to mislead us?

          The first link is over a year old and has been superceded by later developments and analyses. It’s mostly “gossip” anyway.

          The second link is focused on a one-month decline in German coal use. Anyone who reads it will be struck by how little German coal use has actually declined. A look at the link within that article (“coal conundrum”—near the end) reinforces that view and has a nice graph that shows that the growth of renewables in Germany is real but has gone mostly to take up the slack from the decline in nuclear, not replace much coal.

  2. redskylite Says:

    In Germany (Mecklenburg) Younicos have opened the first large battery park paving the way to providing a 100% renewable grid system.

    http://cleantechnica.com/2014/09/16/first-100-green-grid-online-figuratively-speaking/

    • redskylite Says:

      The system is a real-world example of the kind of battery storage recently described in the recent study for a 100 percent supply of renewable power.

      http://reneweconomy.com.au/2014/battery-storage-make-reserve-coal-plants-redundant-80130


      • In Germany (Mecklenburg) Younicos have opened the first large battery park paving the way to providing a 100% renewable grid system.

        First, the system is very small.  5 megawatts is about 0.0083% of Germany’s average load (yes, about 8 thousandths of one percent).  Second, it’s obviously a net energy sink; look at the A/C units on the roof of the building, required to reject energy that’s been converted to heat in the electronics and the batteries themselves.

        Third, no price is mentioned.  How much does it cost to do things this way?  Are other ways cheaper?  What’s it in environmental terms, e.g. €/tCO2?  If this unit has the regulation authority of a fossil-fired generator of 10x its capacity, GREAT… but it still needs to justify itself.

        Fourth, how much RE generation (both nameplate and average) does this truly enable?  If 5 MW of battery system is required per 20 MW of wind and PV, the feasible expansion is a whole lot smaller than the article implies.  Sixth, if the fossil-fired generators are only shut off part of the day, not truly gone, the environmental benefits are much less than promised.

        Last, is there some other use for these batteries that would produce greater environmental benefits?  For instance, putting them in plug-in hybrid cars and using the chargers as schedulable loads, foregoing perhaps half of the grid benefits (the back-feed) but displacing petroleum consumption?

        I know this is raining on your parade.  But if you’re truly going to get rid of fossil fuels you MUST consider these issues and deal with them.  Refusing to do so means your scheme won’t work as you intended, and your system may fail completely (e.g. Soviet agriculture under Lyseknoist doctrine).


  3. Wind power has had frequency control, voltage control, and voltage ride through. Those capabilities have been required in Europe for some time now. The news has filtered out slowly.
    http://www.midwestenergynews.com/2014/01/28/study-how-wind-energy-can-improve-grid-reliability/


    • What the True Believers fail to notice is that the article is about how it CAN…

      … which implicitly admits that to this point, it hasn’t and still doesn’t.  In other words, the critics were and are correct, and will be until the True Believers finally deliver on this yet-unfulfilled promise.

      • jpcowdrey Says:

        E-P,

        You’ve worked yourself into a bit of a logical conundrum here. If you accept the possibility of CAN, you undermine the critique of CANNOT. The fact that it has not been done yet doesn’t make the assertion that it will not be done ever, logically correct.

        Moreover, beyond the initial theoretical study cited, the article goes on to address how grid stabilization strategies are actually being implemented now in those parts of the world where it has become a real issue.


        • You’ve worked yourself into a bit of a logical conundrum here. If you accept the possibility of CAN, you undermine the critique of CANNOT.

          Oh, come on, it’s obvious.  If the output is scaled back from the maximum available, you can achieve a much greater degree of firmness.  But what you CAN’T do includes:
          1.  Providing reliable spinning reserve.  The maximum available output will only be nameplate power if the winds are very favorable; it will typically be an uncertain and varying quantity below that.
          2.  Generate maximum total energy while also providing semi-firm generation.
          3.  Collect the maximum possible PTC.

          #3 was the apparent complaint about curtailment.  However, even #1 sets a bad precedent for the Greens; if wind can be curtailed to meet a target for firmness, it can also be curtailed in the interest of emitting minimum carbon to avoid having to throttle back firm carbon-free generation… such as nuclear.  With that, the argument that nuclear has to go because it can’t track the up-and-down variations of wind and PV is lost by forfeit.  A lot of people aren’t going to like that (myself not included).

          The fact that it has not been done yet doesn’t make the assertion that it will not be done ever, logically correct.

          Not as long as you don’t mind sacrificing capacity factor, PTC payments and other things which affect profitability.  So far I’ve not seen that much idealism from the owners of wind farms.  I wonder if they’ve got something in the works to be paid for NOT generating power too?

          the article goes on to address how grid stabilization strategies are actually being implemented now in those parts of the world where it has become a real issue.

          Since this was foreseeable (and foreseen), was it asking too much to address it BEFORE it became “a real issue” anywhere?  Shouldn’t the people who claim sage wisdom because they foresee massive damage from climate disruption also address the hitches in their remedies before they cause problems, and maybe hold up desperately-needed progress?

          Just asking.


        • Renewables provide stability as required by grid code in Germany and other EU countries. The reason those same features are not universally used in the US is because the grid codes do not require them there. Some people who claim to have a knowledge of the power system are functionally ignorant. Loud mouths proclaim, but no references provided for endless streams of biased blathering.

          Here is a paper about EU grid codes. Wind provides reactive power, voltage control, ride through, and many other grid support services.

          “The voltage levels in a power system must be maintained constant (within a very narrow range) because equipment of the utility and consumers are designed to operate at specific voltage levels. Recent adaptations to national grid codes demand from wind farms to contribute to voltage regulation in the system, as conventional power plants do. They must have the ability to generate or absorb reactive power in order to influence the voltage level at the point of common coupling (PCC). Under normal operation the voltage at the PCC can be increased by injecting reactive power to the grid and can be decreased by absorbing reacting power. Wind farms should have reactive power capabilities in order to support the PCC voltage during voltage fluctuations and to assist in balancing the reactive power demand in the grid.”

          http://www.hindawi.com/journals/cpis/2013/437674/

      • ppp251 Says:

        Denmark has had days with over 100% power from wind, so I guess frequency and voltage control has been done at least to some extent.


        • Denmark exports its surplus wind power to Sweden and Norway, both of which are hydro-heavy and can just turn the taps off.  If you have a way to make Swedens and Norways and put them next to all of the countries that you expect to run on wind power, do let us in on it.  I’m sure it’ll be fascinating.

          BTW, Sweden gets about half its electricity from nuclear power.  When western Denmark imports power from the north, at least some of it is from fission of uranium and plutonium.


        • ppp – See the technical reference and comments above. Grid services like voltage control, reactive power, and all the rest have been a done deal for some time now in EU.

  4. dumboldguy Says:

    I will renew my chant. COAL-COAL-COAL-INDIA-INDIA-INDIA-CHINA-CHINA-CHINA. Will any of you ever look at the data and face the reality that rapid growth of renewables from a small base in small countries is meaningless in the face of a steady 1.6% annual worldwide growth in coal use (and particularly in the large countries)? Will any of you ever look at the fact that natural gas and oil use is also increasing? Again slowly, but from a large base.

    http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/ieo/coal.cfm.

    I will have more to say tomorrow about what Arcus’s link really says to us, as well as address the “break” with reality he is apparently suffering. There is much irony in the “Troll of Bright-sidedness and Links he Doesn’t Understand” making the kind of comments we see at 1:03 AM on 9/20. Perhaps he was returning from “a night out” and is himself demonstrating for us how to be “….real annoying, like an itch you want to scratch” and “that obnoxious drunk that insults” (everyone’s intelligence)?

    For now, look at the graph in the Arcus link and think about the populations of the countries listed. Compare just the top three to the bottom three. The reality should be obvious to all but the self-deluded and bright-sided.

    http://cleantechnica.com/2014/09/19/solar-wind-power-mainstream-can-cost-competitive-every-country/

    • ontspan Says:

      China added 30 GW of new coal capacity in 2013 and 16 GW wind capacity alone. I find these numbers quite remarkable.

      And given the new clean-air regulations, the new coal-ash quality standards and permissions the gap may close even further. For 2014 even solar alone is about to add 14 GW.

      • dumboldguy Says:

        I find those numbers to be “quite remarkable” also. TWICE as much “coal capacity” added as compared to wind in 2013. How do you interpret that to mean the gap is CLOSING?.

        As long as there is growth in world economies, there will be growth in fossil fuel use, and I will repeat that even exponential growth in renewables will not take place rapidly enough to produce the needed stabilization and reduction in CO2 levels. Oil, coal, and natural gas presently provide ~80% of the world’s energy. renewables barely 10%, nuclear and hydro under 10%.

        The CEO of Royal Dutch Shell as quoted in a Washington Post blog interview titled “Climate change discussion ‘has gone into la-la land’. This guy is living in La-La land himself, along with Tillerson of Exxon-Mobil. They both think that we are going to be able to continue burning fossil fuels (and actually MUST continue to do so).

        “…..the world will have to go to a tremendous growth in supply of energy simply because demand will double in the first half of the century for very strong fundamental reasons. First of all growth in population but even more importantly growth in living standards in places like Africa and India and China and Latin America where the energy intensity is a fraction of what it is in the Western world. We cannot deny very very large parts of the global population the sort of standards that we enjoy. And therefore it’s just going to happen whether we like it or not”.

        “You can say don’t worry it will all be supplied by renewable resources. Well that’s a fantasy. I’m not against renewable resources. We’re very much invested in research and other ways of participating in it. But if you look at the most optimistic scenario, we think we are looking at still 75 percent of that energy demand by the middle of the century coming from fossil sources, down from probably 85 percent. At the moment we’re about 11 percent of renewables, 10 percent [age points] of which is hydropower, which doesn’t have an awful lot of growth. So 1 percent is wind and solar. So how on earth do we think that one percent is going to become 90 percent of a system twice as big as what it is by the middle of the century? Whether you like it or not, it won’t happen. That might be a gloom and doom type picture. But I think the real challenge is not so much how do we accelerate renewables but more about how do we decarbonize the system we have. How do we take coal out and replace it with gas? That’s half the CO2 already. How do we fit carbon capture and storage on electricity generation where you can bring the carbon emissions of a third of the energy system down by 30 percent?”

        http://wapo.st/1CR4zzY

        • ontspan Says:

          I guess you see a glass half empty where I see one that is half full. It’s not even 10 years ago that windpower was practically non-existent in China, nowadays new builds are at 50% of coal builds. There are already 50+ GW permits signed for new wind in China, so why think it won’t match coal one day?

          Replace wind with nuclear and you have the same situation: it currently(!) is no match for coal capacity additions. Does that dismiss nuclear too? Does that stop E.P. from posting one more of his ‘nuke-whoohoo-yeah!’ comments?

          • dumboldguy Says:

            No, I look at NUMBERS, not metaphorical “glasses”, and your numbers simply don’t add up. I will ask again—-how can wind be “closing the gap” when coal added more capacity than wind? To make it easier for you, let’s say that both have 10 units right now—if coal doubles to 20 in a given period and wind is 50% of that, does that not result in only 5 new wind builds? And wind losing ground rather than having any hope of “matching coal one day?”

            Your comment on nuclear is just as wrong, and you need to learn some basic math and logic before you start questioning E-Pot. He may be a bit “obsessed”, but his ‘nuke-whoohoo-yeah!’ comments make far better sense than what you say here.

          • ontspan Says:

            DOG, before you go low-ball again with ‘learn some basic math’, look at the growth numbers of wind and tell men that wind capacity additions won’t be able to close the gap of coal additions. Basic math says: When yearly coal growth is stalling while yearly wind growth is increasing they will cross one day.

            Looking at actual production instead of capacity it already happened.

            Is your glass still half empty?

          • dumboldguy Says:

            It is not “low ball” to suggest you need help with basic math (or reading comprehension, or logic). I am your friend and I’m trying to help you regain the level of respect we all held for you before you decided to succumb to your cognitive dissonance and egomania.

            Your one link is about nuclear vs. coal, and you’re having that discussion with some one else, not me—-irrelevant. An extreme slowdown “right now” in coal use does NOT mean it will continue or that it will be replaced by wind. Why do you refuse to accept that 1.4 billion Chinese who want to live like us will suck up all the electricity that exponential wind growth will bring and probably STILL need coal? Reread the link with an open mind—-it mentions that.

            “Is your glass still half empty?”, you so cutely and cleverly ask? I’ve said before that I deal in facts and logic rather than metaphors, so I will merely ask “Is your head still half-full of horsepucky and self-delusion?”

          • dumboldguy Says:

            OOPS. I’m getting my clowns confused. That first paragraph was meant for Arcus, not you.


          • ontspan – You spotted the inconsistency. DOG is not gonna like that now that his hero ( Hansen ) has told him that nuclear is a panacea. Kind of hard for him to toot the nuclear panacea horn about China while he’s busy trashing wind.
            https://climatecrocks.com/2013/03/01/sign-of-things-to-come-in-china-wind-surpasses-nuclear-in-energy-production/
            This is all really old , rehashed stuff.
            Nuclear is dead.
            Its the age of renewables.
            And a few old farts and ideologues are clinging to the past.
            Just don’t count on that pay phone down the street
            to make your wake up call to these guys.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            I am becoming quite concerned about Arcus’s mental state. The string of comments on this thread approaches the manic and is more evidence of a break with reality. He is so intent on fighting his perceived “war” with me that he is making ever more frantic, nonsensical, and irrelevant comments

            Case in point is this one. “ontspan – You spotted the inconsistency. DOG is not gonna like that now that his hero ( Hansen ) has told him that nuclear is a panacea. Kind of hard for him to toot the nuclear panacea horn about China while he’s busy trashing wind”. I’ve read it several times, and it simply makes no sense.

            Second, a link to one of Peter’s more “intemperate” postings that was followed by a string of “wild and crazy” comments hardly proves anything, and Arcus is apparently TOTALLY unaware of the fact that one of the outcomes there was an INCREASE in actual and projected COAL USE in China.

            https://climatecrocks.com/2013/03/01/sign-of-things-to-come-in-china-wind-surpasses-nuclear-in-energy-production/

            And the closing is reminiscent of the kind of babbling to oneself that drunk or drug-addled homeless folk do on street corners. (Or what the smug and self-satisfied egomaniac thinks is oh-so-clever and a substitute for intelligent discourse).

            “This is all really old , rehashed stuff.
            Nuclear is dead.
            Its the age of renewables.
            And a few old farts and ideologues are clinging to the past.
            Just don’t count on that pay phone down the street
            to make your wake up call to these guys.”

          • ontspan Says:

            DOG, China’s slowdown in coal aditions is not a temporary one, it’s been slowing since 2006 where every later year sees less new coal capacity. In 2013 only 30 GW was added, from 50 GW in 2012. Wind on the other has show near exponential growth in the past years and is expected to add 20+ GW each year for the next few years.

            It’s time for you to quit your cognitive dissonance and see the reality: it is quite possible that wind capacity additions overtake coal additions even as early as 2015.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            Ontspan can’t be serious. I am beginning to believe that he is another high school kid or troll that is here just to play and waste our time. He apparently hasn’t even read his own links. If he had, he would NOT be making idiotic comments about bans and “additions” that will “overtake” etc. Here are some direct quotes from the link with some emphasis added. Pay attention, ontspan.

            “The regions covered by the ban currently account for about 28 percent of China’s coal consumption. According to 2012 estimates, China had 363 proposed coal-fired power projects in the pipeline, with a total capacity of 557,938MW.

            “Fifteen of these proposed projects (see table below) are located in the key-three city clusters and could be affected by the new action plan. These plants represent ONLY 5 PERCENT OF THE TOTAL PROJECTED CAPACITY of China’s new coal-fired plants.

            “In addition, the action plan may affect more coal plants than just those that fall within the three-key city clusters. The action plan also calls for imposing emissions standards on new coal-fired power plants proposed for development in 10 other quickly developing regions.4 This stipulation may considerably reduce the economic attractiveness of certain proposed projects, and thus indirectly slow down development of new coal power plants in these areas. We estimate that 48 projects, or ABOUT 13 PERCENT OF THE TOTAL PROPOSED NATIONAL CAPACITY, could be affected by the special standards.

            “However, most of China’s coal development is moving westwards to less developed regions. The graphs below show that current coal consumption is strong in northern provinces (left), and the geographic distribution of proposed coal power projects (right) indicates a further growth of coal consumption in the northwestern provinces. Most of these regions are not covered by the action plan, and MORE THAN 80 PERCENT of the proposed projects in the 2012 pipeline are CURRENTLY EXEMPT from the ban and special standards.

            And ontspan lectures me about cognitive dissonance? That’s the only explanation for his inability to read and accept what’s right in front of him.

          • ontspan Says:

            DOG, Somewhere else in the comments of this post you complain about insults from another participant, yet you insult everyone who does not agree with you. Please behave as you ask of others.

            I do hope you know the difference between what companies proposed in 2012 and reality? Anyway, the historic numbers speak for themselves.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            No, I may have mentioned “insults” but I never complain about them in a personal way. The work I did during my professional career made me immune to what you call insults. Arcus is the one who may have been whining about how we insulted him on this thread. I complain only about “insults to our collective intelligence” when fools like you make outrageously STUPID comments and refuse to use their brains, just as you have done yet again with “Anyway, the historic numbers speak for themselves”. WHAT “historic numbers speak for themselves” about WHAT? You haven’t even read and understood the data in the links you have cited or what I have pointed out to you about the logic fails in your comments. You ARE a troll or a high school kid who is here to waste our time. Go away.


          • ontspan- you have to have thick skin to be in renewable energy. This is nothing compared to what I have seen over 40 years. the topic is wind and grid stability. Other than my comments, I have seen little or no discussion of the topic. Without any limitations, it becomes a messy free for all, and an invitation to trolls. There are many great papers on wind and grid stability if you are interested. One of the challenges is the large number of turbines and farms spread over distance. This is more complicated than controlling fewer, larger plants. Nonetheless, grid services, reactive power, voltage and frequency control, are a reality in Europe.
            http://www.jestr.org/downloads/volume3/fulltext352010.pdf
            One of the ways that large numbers of turbines are controlled and sensed is through the Internet. Denmark is way out in front, having the high wind integration already achieved. There must be some of these kinds of things in the US, in states like Iowa, and increasingly, Texas.

          • ontspan Says:

            I know Christopher. When the ‘opposition’ resorts to using personal attacks then I think it’s wisest to just shut up and focus my energy on something more constructive. Readers will have a good idea who reasons from fact and who doesn’t by now.

            I’ve been in the renewable and climate discussion for over 10 years now (though mostly in my own country). I’m not bothered by dumb old guys with strong opinions and a big mouth.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            Just look at ontspan borrowing the perfumed sleeve hankie from Arcus and sniffing it in disdain. He is trying to convince himself that he is smarter, better informed, and (probably) better looking than wjat he calls the “opposition”. Just another demented rooster strutting around the barnyard whining about “personal attacks”.

            Yes, readers will have a good idea who reasons from fact and who doesn’t by now, ontspan, and YOU are the one who has lost that battle whether you want to admit it or not. As one who has been involved in ALL the environmental discussions of the past 40+ years, and has the science training and knowledge to back up my strong opinions, I have pointed out that you have made errors of fact and logic in what you have said here, and there is nothing “personal” about that—-you are just some anonymous name on a blog that says things that need to be corrected.

            Yes, it probably IS “wisest to just shut up and focus your energy on something more constructive”. How about going out and really learning some science and math so that you can make intelligent comments when next you leave your country to comment on Crock?

            You may not be “bothered by dumb old guys with strong opinions and a big mouth,” but I myself AM bothered by fools and lightweights that peddle horsepucky. You and anyone else who fits that description can expect to hear from me.


      • China added 30 GW of new coal capacity in 2013 and 16 GW wind capacity alone. I find these numbers quite remarkable.

        China’s wind farms have a capacity factor around 20%, generating perhaps 3.2 GW average.  China is now commissioning 4-6 nuclear plants every year and currently has 27 under construction (with plenty more in the pipeline, including 14 AP1000’s alone).  Figuring 5 GW(e) at 90% capacity factor, the new nuclear is generating more GWh than the new wind and providing firm capacity that directly replaces fossil-fired generators.  Neither wind nor solar can do that.

        And given the new clean-air regulations, the new coal-ash quality standards and permissions the gap may close even further. For 2014 even solar alone is about to add 14 GW.

        14 GW at a generous 20% capacity factor is 2.8 GW average.  Meanwhile, China plans massive “coal bases” in the hinterlands to move the air pollution problem away from the populated coasts.  China’s coal consumption has fallen slightly, but that’s not a solid trend yet.

        If wind and PV were going to cut the CO2 emissions and air pollution in China, you’d expect to see the leaders already there.  Denmark, at 48% coal-fired, isn’t exactly an inspiration in that regard.

        • ontspan Says:

          “Figuring 5 GW(e) at 90% capacity factor, the new nuclear is generating more GWh than the new wind and providing firm capacity that directly replaces fossil-fired generators. Neither wind nor solar can do that.”

          Well, sorry, but wind already did. In TWh from new additions as well as total generation.

          “14 GW at a generous 20% capacity factor is 2.8 GW average. “
          Ehm, ‘conservative’ you mean? ‘Generous’ would be if you said 30%…

          “Denmark, at 48% coal-fired, isn’t exactly an inspiration in that regard.
          Without their windpower it would be close to 100%, or at least much higher. No?


          • Had Denmark installed the same nameplate capacity of nuclear as wind, they’d be roughly at zero.  They’d also be exporting electricity to Germany and probably making a nice profit.

          • MorinMoss Says:

            It stands to reason that France must have been profiting enormously from electricity exports from their sizable nuclear investment.
            I wonder how much they’ve earned in the past 20 years; yet they’re indebted to the tune of $40k per citizen, 50% higher than the average Dane with a per-capita GDP that’s 40% lower.

            Clearly no one country has all the answers.


          • yet they’re indebted to the tune of $40k per citizen, 50% higher than the average Dane with a per-capita GDP that’s 40% lower.

            France has also been spending a lot on public-employee retirements at age 55 and a massive, unproductive immigrant population.

            Clearly no one country has all the answers.

            Denmark restricted immigration in major ways, and IIRC required linguistic assimilation to get residency.  It hasn’t the ethnic conflicts of France or even neighboring Sweden (google Malmö for some reading on that issue).  In short, you can’t make broad comparisons on single criteria which don’t encompass the full spectrum of contributing factors.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            “….you can’t make broad comparisons on single criteria which don’t encompass the full spectrum of contributing factors”.

            AMEN (and can I say “coal” now?)

            And dang those immigrants! We should send them all back where they came from (said the Native American in 1493).


          • 1492 was just the great-great-great grandchildren of the Solutreans taking back the land that they’d been ethnically cleansed from by Asian invaders.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            Nah, all the Solutrean artifacts were just sweepings from cleaning out the Chariots of the Gods at the great car wash in the sky.


      • ontspan – I hate going off topic. I find it impolite to others that want to focus on the article topic. It is worthy to explore that renewables can provide better power reliability.

        But this blog never pays any attention to topic.
        And even worse, there are very few references, and little research. I think Peter should not be the only one doing research. Here is something to balance out the conversation. The way it works here, if Peter sees an off topic come up in discussion, it often becomes an article.
        http://cleantechnica.com/2014/08/26/chinas-coal-consumption-finally-decreased/

        • dumboldguy Says:

          What a load of smug and self-satisfied crap from Arcus. I can see him now sitting on his high horse and sniffing the perfumed sleeve hankie that he stole from E-Pot. How impolite of him to go off topic and once again feed us a link that he fails to understand and misinterprets, although he implies that it is the result of “research” and is a reference” that we should accept as gospel. In reality, it is again the result of his hurried “looking up” of things that SOUND good to him and SEEM to prove his point. This one is a classic:

          1) Arcus is enthralled by graph #1 because it shows coal use leveling off and a GDP line that is going “up”. Those of us that know how to extract data from graphs are going OMIGOD at the news that China increased its coal consumption by an additional 1-1/2 times the 2000 level in just TEN years—-a 15% annual growth rate. The GDP line is irrelevant. Those of us that read the text are also not impressed by the thought that coal use is now growing only slowly or declining slowly. Since China is the world’s biggest coal consumer, things need to happen a lot faster, and in a clearly DOWN direction.

          2) Graphs #2 and #3 also get Arcus jumping—just look at that downward slope! And one even goes to ZERO! It’s too bad that they are graphs not of absolute values but of changes in RATE OF CHANGE, and can therefore be quite misleading. A decrease in the rate of increase of coal use is NOT the same as a decrease in the amount of coal used. Until the plot goes into negative territory and STAYS THERE, coal consumption is at best staying flat.


        • I suspect this blog and sites like CleanTechnica are funded in part by the wind industry, given their constant excuses for its environmental impact. A “green” industry can be driven by money like any other, and quietly hire shills. The wind industry HAS TO greenwash because its machines can’t be hidden. The case of Ontario, Canada is a textbook study: http://www.windontario.ca/pictures/

          You can’t build that many invasive projects and claim you’re an ally of nature just because you say so. It reminds me of those Chevron “People Do” ads where they cherry-picked friendly stories while going about their usual business. At least the public understands that the fossil fuel industry is impure. The wind business still gets off the hook too often. It’s main excuse is that it somehow isn’t fossil fuel dependent, plus the presumption that global warming is the world’s only real environmental problem now. The same old landscape plundering is fine if it’s done by wind power projects, in the biggest possible way. https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=world%27s+biggest+wind+turbine

          None of this blog’s regular posters show concern for what’s being obviously ruined by wind projects. True conservationists would at least say things like “These turbines are radically affecting landscapes and it can’t continue.” They’d want to maintain the legacy of Aldo Leopold, John Muir and Rachel Carson instead of making excuse after excuse for wind power’s intrusions on nature.

          Mention ruined mountains in Vermont and they’ll talk about coal mines 900 miles away. Mention rural wind turbine noise and they’ll talk about NYC taxi horns. Mention shadow flicker in the country and they tell you about neon lights from a city bar. Mention dying rural birds and they’ll change the subject to city cats. They want you to think it’s normal for the whole planet to be equally degraded to justify urban angst. Ignoratio Elenchi!

          http://cutt.us/blightfornaught

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Back to the cleantechnica link from Arcus.

      Note that the top two (most successful) countries, Denmark, and Ireland, have a combined population of ~10 million. All the countries down to and including France together have a combined population of 365 million.

      The bottom two (least successful) countries, Brazil, and Japan, have a population almost as big as all the rest—-310 million—-and throwing India and (the strangely unmentioned) China in adds 2,600 million for a grand total of almost 3,000 million.

      Tell me again why we are so fixated on “progress” in Denmark, Germany, and 365 million people in a bunch of developed world countries when 3000 million folks are standing still at best?

      And I hope that Arcus has recovered from his little “break” with reality—-a good night’s sleep can do wonders. Let’s hope that he is done talking to those voices in his head that always agree with his horsepucky (“It just feels nice to tell it to someone who knows exactly what I am talking about”). He may have banished his demons enough that “we don’t have to mention it again” and can instead try to look at the reality of where the world’s energy is coming from and the reality of the “projections”.

      • ppp251 Says:

        “Tell me again why we are so fixated on “progress” in Denmark, Germany, and 365 million people in a bunch of developed world countries when 3000 million folks are standing still at best?”

        Because Denmark and Germany show how it can be done. They are a model which other countries can follow.


        • Denmark, getting 48% of its electricity from coal and emitting on the order of 400-480 gCO2/kWh, is an example of “how it can be done”?  What, the best job of greenwashing?

          • ontspan Says:

            Well, if that’s your benchmark. While getting 78% of ther electricity from coal while emitting ~900 gCo2/kWh better make sure you never mention China as your role model for nuclear build-out.

          • ppp251 Says:

            In the 80ies they had nearly 100% coal power (about 900gCO2/kWh), so cutting that in half is quite impressive.

            http://www.iea.org/stats/WebGraphs/denmark2.pdf


          • My model is France.  The rest of the world doesn’t have the hydro resources required to do it the Swedish way, but France’s 77 gCO2/kWh is a laudable accomplishment and allows the de-carbonization of many other things by switching from combustion to electric power.

            The USA could have been France, had “environmentalists” not stopped the industry.


          • cutting that in half is quite impressive.

            Not when the climate needs 90%, it isn’t.  50% is still abject failure and looming catastrophe.

            I’m shocked that you didn’t grasp this at the outset.  You are one of those who confuse effort with results, like the Texans praying for rain.


        • ppp- You are good at spotting the logical fallacies.

          “3000 million folks are standing still at best”,

          What loopy logic. Lets not use renewables, because they work, but not everyone has used them yet, so they don’t work. LOL.

          🙂

          • dumboldguy Says:

            Ever more out of touch with reality as the day wears on. Symptomatic of ????

            I would suggest that it is necessary to read and comprehend what is said before one makes accusations of “loopy logic”. Otherwise, one appears rather “loopy” themselves.


      • WOW – The quoted opinion of the CEO of Royal Dutch Shell as a refutation of renewables? Thank you. 🙂

        • dumboldguy Says:

          Not yo be redundant, but……Ever more out of touch with reality as the day wears on. Symptomatic of ???? I would YET AGAIN suggest that it is necessary to read and comprehend what is said before running one’s mouth, because the quote of the Shell CEO has ABSOLUTELY Nothing to do with any “refutation” of renewables.

          I will append a “WOW” and “Thank You”—-for showing all Crockers what it looks like to figuratively “over-rev” and put a rod through the crankcase.

    • MorinMoss Says:

      Let’s not sell China short – they build & install a LOT of everything.
      They added 12 GW of solar PV in 2013 for a total of 18GW and a 20x increase just from 2010. They’ve also been the world champion in solar hot water for a long time with well over 100GW and as much as 3x the rest of the world COMBINED.

      India is probably not even in the top 25 for solar hot water heating and is general lagging badly on renewables. Their relatively low per capita energy use is the only saving grace but that won’t last forever and their population desperately needs better infrastructure.
      Can you imagine a Western politician campaigning on the promise of a toilet for every home? Even Herbert Hoover’s America wasn’t in such dire straits.

      I’m not at all happy about China’s coal usage but it has been almost 3 yrs since they radically restricted the emissions from coal plants and the lifeline for existing plants should be running out just about now.

      If my understanding is correct, there are ZERO grandfathered plants – either you meet the regs by the deadline or close up shop.

      Of course, enforcement will make all the difference or the law is meaningless.

      • dumboldguy Says:

        Do some googling and you will find many facts re: China and coal. This is from the EIA and not the very latest data but is in the ballpark. Note the second paragraph, which reinforces my point, as well as that of the CEO of Shell Oil.

        “Coal supplied the vast majority (69%) of China’s total energy consumption in 2011……The Chinese government plans to cap coal use to below 65% of total primary energy consumption by 2017 in an effort to reduce heavy air pollution that has afflicted certain areas of the country in recent years. The Chinese government set a target in its 12th Five-Year Plan to raise non-fossil fuel energy consumption to 15% of the energy mix by 2020 in efforts to ease the country’s dependence on coal. EIA projects coal’s share of the total energy mix to fall to 63% by 2020 and 55% by 2040 as a result of projected higher energy efficiencies and China’s goal to increase its environmental sustainability.

        “However, absolute coal consumption is expected to increase by over 50% during this forecast period, reflecting the large growth in total energy consumption.

        “As a result of high coal consumption, China is also the world’s leading energy-related CO2 emitter, releasing 8,715 million metric tons of CO2 in 2011. China’s government plans to reduce carbon intensity (carbon emissions per unit of GDP) by 17% between 2010 and 2015 and energy intensity (energy use per unit of GDP) by 16% during the same period, according to the country’s 12th Five-Year Plan. China also intends to reduce its overall CO2 emissions by at least 40% between 2005 and 2020.

        As the saying goes, “we shall see” on that last sentence.

      • dumboldguy Says:

        “If my understanding is correct, there are ZERO grandfathered plants – either you meet the regs by the deadline or close up shop.”

        That’s only within the “exclusion zones” around selected cities. See my more recent reply to ontspan, which quotes from HIS link.

        “The regions covered by the ban currently account for about 28 percent of China’s coal consumption. According to 2012 estimates, China had 363 proposed coal-fired power projects in the pipeline, with a total capacity of 557,938MW.

        “Fifteen of these proposed projects (see table below) are located in the key-three city clusters and could be affected by the new action plan. These plants represent ONLY 5 PERCENT OF THE TOTAL PROJECTED CAPACITY of China’s new coal-fired plants.


  5. Why is every topic about nuclear?
    Womens dress sizes.
    Nuclear.
    Penguins.
    Nuclear.
    Fritatta recipes.
    Nuclear.

    I can just see it now. The shrink gives EP a Rorschach.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Arcus is once more making insulting and irrelevant jokes about things he does not understand. Actually, the “shrink” would likely administer the MMPI rather than the Rohrschach to E-Pot. And although the results there would be interesting, I’m sure they would not be significant compared to whatever Arcus would “score”.


    • How did he find out about my frittata obsession?  I thought that was Top Secret!

      My cover is blown, I shall have to go back into the Foodie Protection Program again.  And if you see a new user by the name of Hyman Rickover, it’s certainly not me.

  6. climatebob Says:

    It is pointless to try and draw comparisons between Germany and the USA. The German people decided to shut all nuclear plants ahead of schedule. Could America do the same? Not a hope. The German people have decided to embrace renewable energy as a nation, Could the USA do the same? Not a chance. The Germans pay taxes and spend money on infrastructure, There is no point in going on with this list. There is no central organisation in the USA.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Although the figures may be a bit out of date, Germany is also right behind the USA in per capita coal consumption, and both are near the top of the list. The only ones ahead of them are much smaller countries. China is way down the per capita usage list.

  7. dumboldguy Says:

    Re: Arcus’s comment on 9/23/14 at 11:48 am

    Arcus again whines about “messy free-for-alls” and “trolls” and “off-topic”.

    It’s too bad that his thinking is so narrow and his fear of “global thinkers” is so great. He would have us stick to the topic even when the topic is only a small and inconsequential part of the REAL topic—-global climate change—-and more specifically AGW—-which is impacted far more by COAL than grid stability in DENMARK. Such are the consequences of cognitive dissonance.

    “Other than HIS comments…blah, blah”, Arcus says so smugly. It takes big balls for the “UberTroll of Brightsidedness and Focusing on Inconsequential Details” to make such a comment and imply that others are the trolls here. Such are the consequences of lack of self-awareness.

    Let’s go off-topic yet again and look at some “big picture” thinking. You may recall that I suggested on another thread that we take time out from AGW to worry about was perhaps an even more serious near-term threat to the survival of the human race? The Ebola epidemic? Arcus replied with “yeeeeoow” or some such inanity when I brought that up. Such are the consequences of thinking small.

    Guess what folks? My concern was well-founded. The Washington Post today carries an article that all should read. It is headlined “Ebola could infect 1.4 MILLION in Liberia and Sierra Leone by January”. In case anyone is unaware, the combined population of those two countries is about 10 million, and that ~14% infection rate is equivalent to 1 in 7 or ~45 million Americans. The whole thing is another example of the man’s “too little, too late” approach to crises like AGW. Guinea and Nigeria are conveniently not mentioned in the article, and should the Ebola infection rate “hockey stick” in Nigeria as it has in the smaller countries (Nigeria has 170+ million people), all bets are off—-the infected number could quickly jump to 20 to 30 million, and that would be difficult if not impossible to contain.

    AGW connection? Nigeria produces and exports a small but not insubstantial quantity of oil and LNG. What would be the impact on world energy markets if Ebola knocks Nigeria out of the picture?

    Keep watching Ebola for the next few months rather than worrying about grid stability, folks. Leave that to the bright-sided—-those who Aristophanes would describe as having their faces to the ground while their rear ends peruse the heavens.


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