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Old 04-20-2016, 08:15 PM   #61
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Today, Germany has 35 gigawatts (GW) of installed solar capacity and is on track to hit 52 GW in the near future, representing about 7 percent of the nation’s wholesale generation.
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For the past 15 years or so, Germany has embarked on an ambitious set of policies to transform its electricity (and broader energy) sector. The nuclear accidents in Japan led to an acceleration of the efforts, which have produced some of the fastest increases in renewable power generation in the world. With almost a third of globally installed solar PV capacity, Germany has now reached levels of renewable energy production leading to significant interactions with the rest of the electricity system.
Solar Energy Support in Germany: A Closer Look | SEIA
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Wind and Solar are Crushing Fossil Fuels
Old 04-20-2016, 08:40 PM   #62
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Wind and Solar are Crushing Fossil Fuels

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I would have no problem with it. In fact, I live less than eight miles from up to six nuclear reactors at any given time. Most people in San Diego live closer than that and they aren't even aware of it. I've spent six years operating nuclear plants. I'm not afraid of stuff that's not worth being afraid of. YMMV.

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/...e-infographic/


I could see the cooling towers from where I grew up and never gave it a thought. But being a person who has almost all my money in utilities, I would sell the minute a proposal was on the board to build one. Those things just about bankrupted utilities building them back in the 70s and 80s. For those with a memory, I would not want to be associated with a "WHOOPS". Maybe someone here will remember that word, and hopefully were too young at the time to be bond holders!
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Old 04-20-2016, 08:42 PM   #63
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Don't confuse "installed capacity" with "production".

A solar array with a capacity of 1 GW produces zero at night, and only reaches near that peak at solar noon on clear days, and only in June unless they are using seasonal axis tracking arrays.

A nuke or coal plant with a capacity of 1GW can produce that 24/7, near 365/year.

So the real measure is output. Sure, Germany is increasing solar installs. But as they cut those nukes, a lot of it is being back filled with coal. And they rely on coal when the sun doesn't shine.

Play around with the date choices on this site, select " all sources" for the detail.

https://www.energy-charts.de/power.htm

June 2011, looks like ~ 7~10% uranium range through the month, day in, day out, 24 hours a day. Solar, sharp daytime peaks ranging around 7~12%.

June 2015, looks like ~ 8~9% uranium range through the month, day in, day out, 24 hours a day. Solar, sharp daytime peaks ranging around 7~19% range. (some eyeballing in all that).

So yes, more solar, but not much affect on nukes. And notice I used JUNE, take a look at January.

Solar is great, but it still requires us to keep baseline and peaking power on hand. And replacing baseline means adding peaking. That might be the right thing to do, but it isn't near being all gravy.

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Old 04-20-2016, 08:47 PM   #64
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I like clean renewable energy. The problem is that for a 24/7 reliable source of power, we have no inexpensive way to store the daily production to use at night, let alone storing it in the summer for use in winter.

See daily solar production of Germany in the following graph, and note the seasonal variation.

Even the daily production in the summer itself can vary 4 to 1 from one day to the next due to cloud cover.

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Old 04-20-2016, 10:34 PM   #65
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It's called progress
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Old 04-20-2016, 10:47 PM   #66
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Actually we see the beginings of an expansion of pumped storage in Ca, to locations off rivers where the water is used over and over. One location planned is in the middle of the Mohave desert at an old iron mine where two pits exist at different elevations. Another is above Bakersfield on the Techapai pass which has the advantage of having among the highest relief profiles. Pumped storage is an old technology (run a hydroturbine as a pump to move the water uphill, and then down when needed. Perhaps we take old surface coal mines in W Va and turn them into pumped storage plants.
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Old 04-21-2016, 07:24 AM   #67
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There were a fair number of companies looking to build new nuclear power plants back in the mid-2000s. After a 2005 law established a federal loan guarantee program for new nuclear power plants there was a bit of a rush to submit applications to the NRC for reactor design approval. These were the first applications to build new nuclear plants in the U.S. for many decades.

But the problem with building any of these plants was always economic. They're hugely expensive. PPL's Bell Bend plant is expected to cost over $8,000 per KW ($13B-$15B for a 1,600 MW plant). For comparison purposes, a combined cycle natural gas plant costs one-tenth as much at about $800 per KW of installed capacity.

At the time, though, U.S. natural gas prices were around $6 / MMbtu with occasional spikes into the low teens. At those prices existing nuclear plants were printing money. Everyone thought NG was heading higher, too, so maybe it made sense to build nuclear under those circumstances.

Now with NG down below $2, nuclear is sucking wind. At current NG prices nuclear barely has any fuel cost advantage at all.

So what happened to all those new nuclear plans? Here's the NRC application list. Reading down the application status column goes something like this "Suspended, withdrawn, withdrawn . . ."
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Old 04-21-2016, 07:58 AM   #68
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Pumped storage works for energy storage. We just do not have enough of them. How much more do we need to build? Let's look at some numbers, as this is a good exercise for me as a layman who has never worked in power generation industry.

Let's consider Los Angeles County with 10 million people. I looked up its total electricity consumption in 2014 at 70 billion kWh. Divide that by 8760 hours/year, and we have an average power consumption of 8,000 MW. There's a big difference between day/night power usage, but let's just use 8,000 MW for now.

The US has the world's largest pumped storage facility, called the Bath County Station in the Allegheny Mountain in Virginia. It can generate 3,000 MW, using two reservoirs with a height difference of 1,260 ft. Even at this great height due to an ideal location, the water usage to generate this 3,000 MW is so great that running flat out would deplete its 28,000 acre-ft water storage in around 10 hours. This storage capacity is only used for day/night equalization for the main thermal generation.

So, we need a lot more water storage. How much do we need, if we want to store energy for a few cloudy or windless days?

Look at Niagara Falls. Counting both the Canadian and US sides, the total generation is around 6,000 MW peak. If we diverted 100% water and let the Niagara Falls stay dry, perhaps we could increase the peak power 2x. I could not find out the seasonal variation in the river flow, but on the Canadian side they already pump water upstream at night to store power from thermal plants. That's the kind of water flow that we need. And we need about 50x that flow for the entire US.

Hmm... If we use the entire Great Lakes for storage and pump seawater up there and back, would it be enough to store energy for the summer/winter solar power variation?
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Old 04-21-2016, 08:14 AM   #69
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You don't really need to store power to deal with intermittancy. You pretty much just need to build back-up fossil generators to handle any short-fall. The redundancy adds cost to the system, but that's still less expensive than current storage technology. And installing a wind farm and CCGT is less expensive than nuclear.
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Old 04-21-2016, 08:44 AM   #70
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My quick-and-dirty calculations were only to see what kind of storage we would need to have no conventional thermal plants, whether fossil fuel or nuclear. It bugs me when laymen say it should be a no-brainer to go as close to 100% renewable energy as possible.

A look at the solar generation chart of Germany and an understanding of the current method of energy storage will tell us that conventional generation will be with us for a very long time to come. In fact, as wind and solar power generation may be so little at times depending on the weather, we will need to have all the thermal plants we are having now as backups. We would consume less coal or NG surely, but having to maintain the old equipment and the new ones too is going to cost more money. Having power 24/7 is not cheap, nor easy.

By the way, the Bath Station described earlier has also been called the "world's largest battery". A Web site says that it has usable capacity of 24,000 MWh (8 hours of running flat out at 3,000 MW). Its construction cost was $1.6 billion. To build a battery bank of the same size using lithium technology at a cost of $200/kWh, it would cost $4.8 billion just for the batteries. And the current batteries will not last as long as that facility.
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Old 04-21-2016, 08:48 AM   #71
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There were a fair number of companies looking to build new nuclear power plants ...

But the problem with building any of these plants was always economic. ...
How does France do it? Maybe we could learn from them.


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Pumped storage works for energy storage. ...
I recently did a fairly deep dive into this. It is amazing, as you point out, how many gallons are needed for the kind of storage a big city would need for even a few hours. The force of gravity is part of the equation, and gravity is called a 'weak force'. These numbers demonstrate that.

There is a big project being proposed in CA (SMUD?), and even though it is huge, and they point out there are few places that have the geography for this, all it will be used for is to flatten the daily peak and level it a bit for a few hours a day. IIRC, the peak drops so sharply, that they need to keep the coal plants running near full throttle through the peak, and then slowly bring them down (the demand peak drops faster than the coal can be throttled down). This will allow them to shut the coal down sooner, feeding a part of the tail of the peak from this stored hydro while the coal slows down.

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You don't really need to store power to deal with intermittancy. You pretty much just need to build back-up fossil generators to handle any short-fall. The redundancy adds cost to the system, but that's still less expensive than current storage technology. And installing a wind farm and CCGT is less expensive than nuclear.
Exactly. I wish that all the people who expect to see a large % from renewables would realize this. It isn't as cheap as they are led to believe when you add the fossil based peaker plants, and coal or nuke base load that are needed.

Though I'm not sure that CCGT are useful as peakers, I think they are more in the intermediate range between peakers and base-load, or at minimum they loose efficiency when used as a peaker?

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It's called progress
Well, you might not consider it progress if you had to go for days or weeks with rolling blackouts.

Sure we want more clean energy, but the realities must be faced. It's not all unicorns and rainbows.

-ERD50
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Old 04-21-2016, 10:26 AM   #72
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This looks interesting.

This Solar Power Plant Can Run All Night

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Crescent Dunes looks and sounds a bit like an invention lifted from a science fiction novel. Deep in the Nevada desert more than 10,000 mirrors—each the size of a highway billboard—neatly encircle a giant 640-foot tower.

But the engineers and financiers behind the facility, located in the desert about halfway between Las Vegas and Reno, say the power plant’s promise is anything but fiction. The solar power facility built and operated by the company SolarReserve can power 75,000 homes. What sets it apart from other big solar projects is that this plant can store power for use when it is most needed, including cloudy days and after dark—a major advance for renewable energy technology.
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Old 04-21-2016, 10:35 AM   #73
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How does France do it? Maybe we could learn from them.
I think we have . . .

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Construction on a new reactor, Flamanville 3, began on 4 December 2007. The new unit is an Areva European Pressurized Reactor type and is planned to have a nameplate capacity of 1,650 MWe.

EDF has previously said France's first EPR would cost €3.3 billion and start commercial operations in 2012, after construction lasting 54 months.

On 3 December 2012 EDF announced that the estimated costs have escalated to €8.5 billion ($11 billion), and the completion of construction is delayed to 2016.

In September 2015 EDF announced that the estimated costs had escalated to €10.5 billion, and the start-up of the reactor was delayed to the fourth quarter of 2018.
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Old 04-21-2016, 10:45 AM   #74
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Don't know about running all night!

The Solana plant in Gila Bend, AZ, has been in operation using the same molten salt energy storage principle. It could run for a few hours after sunset. The idea is to extend operation for the period when the sun is down, but AC requirement remains near the top due to high summer temperature. In Phoenix, temperature may stay above 100 until very late in the evening. The lowest night temperature before sunrise may still be above 90!

The Solana plant cost more than $2B, and spreads out over 2000 acres. It has a peak power of 280MW. That's not very much.


PS. On July 15th, 2003, the "low" temperature before sunrise was 96F (35.6C)!

PPS. The above article says that the proposed Crescent Dunes power plant can power 70,000 homes. That's the same as the existing AZ Solala plant. The difference is the Solana uses trough parabolic solar collectors instead of the central tower/distributed mirror like the new one. This later idea was tried out by Martin Marietta in the late 70s during the oil embargo. I happened to read up on this when I was in college.
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Old 04-21-2016, 11:00 AM   #75
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The Solana plant cost more than $2B, and spreads out over 2000 acres. It has a peak power of 280MW. That's not very much.

PS. On July 15th, 2003, the "low" temperature before sunrise was 96F (35.6C)!
That's about what a Nuke costs for the same name plate capacity. Only you can count on nukes to run at ~98% capacity factor, so you'll get far more MWh from them.
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Old 04-21-2016, 11:03 AM   #76
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It is interesting, but it would take about eight of those to match just one typical coal plant in IL (edit/add - and we have ~ 20 that size).

wiki says the collector area for this one plant is 300 acres, and the site is ~ 1600 acres. Though it would be interesting to compare that to the coal fields required to mine the coal for a coal plant? They state 10 hours storage, but that might be at reduced output, that wasn't clear?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cresce...Energy_Project

There's one in Spain, and I think that has not gone so well. Environmentalists are upset that these things literally cook birds mid flight - yuck! But again, coal has nasty effects too. Maybe these kinds of systems will play a role in our future electricity supply?

More here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o...power_stations

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/18/bu...ning.html?_r=0

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Old 04-21-2016, 11:04 AM   #77
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Then there is this:

Clean energy poster child SunEdison files for bankruptcy - Apr. 21, 2016
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Old 04-21-2016, 11:09 AM   #78
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Yup, because nobody in the fossil fuel industry ever goes bankrupt. Oh, wait.
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Old 04-21-2016, 11:11 AM   #79
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And Solyndra has sucked up a half billion in tax dollars. It seems that the rush to appear green by promoting alternative energy means that due diligence is often overlooked.
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Old 04-21-2016, 11:13 AM   #80
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Talking about SunEdison, allow me to make a detour here.

It started out as MEMC, a company making silicon wafers for semiconductor companies to make IC chips, and solar wafers too. In the mid-2000s, there was a shortage of silicon wafers due to solar demand, and MEMC made good money hand over fist. I traded its stocks and made good money myself.

MEMC decided to take the next step, and made the solar wafers then the panels too, as this was a hot market. Then, it tried to get into entire solar installations, and bought other businesses. I bailed out of my last shares last year, when this bubble started to deflate. Man, talk about a good company getting bad by drinking its own Koolaid.
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