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Forced variations: Apr 2020

Filed under: — group @ 1 April 2020

Open thread for climate solutions.

669 Responses to “Forced variations: Apr 2020”

  1. 151
    Ric Merritt says:

    nigelj, #100, asks “doesn’t the same problem [construction currently needs FF] apply to renewables” as to nukes.

    Yes, of course. No special expertise, just a concerned citizen, but I’ll take credit for pointing out that exact problem from time to time quite a few years ago in comments on this very blog, in response to what struck me as, at that time, a general lack of awareness of what should be the obvious. Awareness is better now.

    And that problem is why we should have had some escalating price mechanism to reflect the externalities of FF burning long ago. That would have helped greatly to sort out what to spend our last reasonably permitted FF budget on. Lacking that, we’re subject to pretty dubious claims from pseudonymous blog commenters.

    I’m more inclined to trust someone with a good track record of sound sources and reasoning. On climate, certainly the posts here, but not necessarily the comments. On climate response and energy choices, for example, Dave Roberts on Vox. For better or worse, the unwashed public can’t comment over there and ask Dave questions, but it’s well worth following.

  2. 152

    BPL makes another un-sourced claim @134:

    Ernest Sternglass did.

    Funny about Sternglass.  From a 1992 interview transcript:

    In it is the story in which Oppenheimer and Fermi discuss the possibility of using all of this radioactive strontium-90 to kill as many Germans as possible. And in fact they were themselves afraid that the Germans, who were also trying to build nuclear bombs, would send missiles filled with radioactivity over to Chicago. They literally believe that what was called radiological warfare was going to take place.

    This is extremely funny, because that is LITERALLY science fiction from the war period.  Not sure if it was Heinlein or who, but someone wrote a story about “dust” which was used as a WMD much like poison gas, only radioactive; columns of refugees left “dusted” cities, already doomed.  So we have Ernest Sternglass passing off stories from pulp magazines as fact.

    A long-lived beta emitter like Sr-90 has a HL of 29 years; it is about 1/1320 as active as I-131, and it doesn’t all settle in one small gland.  It would be interesting to do an analysis of just how much exposure someone would get from e.g. even distribution of a reactor’s worth of micron-scale strontium oxide dust over many square miles.  It’s got a specific activity of 5.21 TBq/g and it’s produced in 5.8% of U-235 fissions.  A 1-GW(e) reactor fissions about 1 ton per year, so you’d get 1000*0.058*(90/235)=22.2 kg/yr.  Spread evenly over a square 10 km on a side would give 1.15e9 Bq/m².  That’s about 30 milliCuries per square meter.  That’s actually quite a bit, but as a beta emitter it’s harmless at a distance.  All you’d have to do is wash things down to get the dust off roofs and pavement and such; once it was soaked into the ground it would be harmless to humans.  Avoid growing food there until the stuff washes down below the root zone of your crop plants.

    Ironically, Sr-90’s decay chain ends at Zr-90.  Nuclear fission is literally a net producer of zirconium; so much for “elemental depletion”.

    And they’ve certainly found them in Ukraine and Belarus.

    There’s been a measured spike in thyroid cancers from the I-131 released by Chernobyl.  That’s it.  The I-131 has a half-life of about 8 days, so it was gone in a mere 3 months.  Aside from that, the main cancers produced by radiation are leukemias.  Radiation is a very weak teratogen; birth defects are far more likely to come from chemical poisons.  Look at the pesticide industry, not Chernobyl.

  3. 153
    nigelj says:

    Zebra @136 talks about “his grid” apparently being a house with solar panels and a battery and smart meter connection to the main grid. It’s still not clear. I wish people would just clearly state in plain language what they mean, and not to to be too clever.

    I’m not sure where the innovation is, because such systems already exist.

    Zebra says his system doesn’t need ancillary services, apparently when its relying on its own power generation! But that is self evident anyway although it obviously needs basic voltage regulation. It doesn’t change the fact that a centralised electricity supply serving multiple users, say for example a hydro dam, or gas fired plant, or wind farm or solar farm, would need ancillary services. Zebra hasn’t shown why this would not be the case. His own pdf reference certainly suggests it would be the case.

    Zebra makes some interesting suggestions, but needs to do less teaching, and more learning and write more clearly. This is the conclusion I’m slowly reaching.

  4. 154
    nigelj says:

    BPL @137, normally I tend to agree with your views on things, but the DOE study you quote related to Chernoblyl deaths is speculation written in 1987, and since then there is no evidence of tens of thousands of deaths. Cancer trends in Europe haven’t changed, (apart from the expected spike in thyroid cancers).

    Ok maybe its hard to pick these trends up, but intuitively I would expect SOMETHING to show up, somewhere. But nothing has.

  5. 155
    David B. Benson says:

    Killian @145 — But see mine @142. What is observed is ever tighter integration over larger portions of grids. Promotes efficiency and, I believe, reliability.

  6. 156

    BPL goes off the rails @137:

    http://www.cogamble.org.uk/media/other/14705/torch_executive_summary-1.pdf
    (4,000 exposed people under 18 had thyroid cancer by 2005; future total is 18,000-66,000 in Belarus alone)

    You realize that one comes from “The Other Report on Chernobyl”, written literally by the rabidly anti-nuclear Green party?  It doesn’t have a single cite in it, and its own math doesn’t even work.  It claims 4000 cases of thyroid cancer in ~20 years, but somehow expects as many as 66,000 more on a LINEAR risk model?!  Are they expecting people to live to an average of 300-odd years?

    THIS is the quality of stuff that underlies your positions?

  7. 157

    Al Bundy pens @143:

    humans ain’t robotic mathematical devices and humans, including their fears and aspirations, matter.

    Yes, but human fears and aspirations must respect the laws of nature or they will lead to disaster.  (We know a lot of people who have no such respect; we call them “climate denialists” ’round these parts.)  The Philosopher’s Stone was supposed to convert base metals to gold.  Otherwise-intelligent people worked for centuries trying to create one, until they learned more about the laws of nature and that such a thing simply wasn’t possible.  The wealth the new knowledge led to was far greater than just gold.

    I submit that “100% renewable economy” is today’s Philosopher’s Stone.  It’s a fraud to promise it, a waste of time to pursue it as an individual, and the road to ruin to pursue it as a civilization.

    I would claim because I do consider you a friend

    Why, thank ya kindly.

  8. 158
  9. 159
    Killian says:

    Dave Roberts writes a lot of good stuff. He has no clue what “sustainable” actually is.

    Almost nobody does.

    There might be three to five who have posted on this blog over the last 12 years who do.

    The rest of you need to start shutting up. Soon. And listening.

    Time’s up and you’re about to get another clueless president. (Both, icymi.)

  10. 160

    E-P 152: So we have Ernest Sternglass passing off stories from pulp magazines as fact.

    BPL: Apparently you’re completely unaware of the epidemiological studies he did.

  11. 161

    n 154: normally I tend to agree with your views on things, but the DOE study you quote related to Chernoblyl deaths is speculation written in 1987

    BPL: Apparently you didn’t read further than the first paragraph. Look at the post again.

  12. 162
    zebra says:

    #148 Kevin McKinney,

    Kevin, hope you had a chance to look at the Scientific American piece. Again, it’s there to show that the technology is not the problem, but money and politics.

    I’ve addressed your question previously, which you may have missed. Let’s go to an “end game” ideal scenario, to illustrate the concept.

    I have a small wind farm, and I have a contract with 1,000 very smart suburban houses. My software detects a hot bearing on one of the turbines, which requires at least slowing it down, which reduces my output.

    My software then sends a signal…remember, at the speed of light… to all the smart meters controlling the smart houses, and shuts off 500 of the AC systems for an hour, and alternates with the other 500 every hour. Same with refrigerators, on some schedule. Life goes on!

    Of course, if the houses aren’t quite that smart, we can do a “rolling blackout”, where all power to a number of house is cut off for short periods at the appropriate rate.

    I thought you understood this concept when you agreed that my approach would not require ancillary services? Why would the frequency change at all?

    Now, if one is such a snowflake that having the AC off for an hour at a time is intolerable, there are multiple options:

    -Don’t buy electricity from my little wind farm… or any other “unreliable” source… just sign up with the local nuclear plant.

    -You have an app that deals with electricity supply. Set it to automatically buy in real time from the nuclear plant, or some other source, when needed, which would probably require paying a premium.

    -Get a Powerwall, or backup generator, or have a thermal-storage AC unit installed, or whatever tech some clever engineering entrepreneurs will be developing.

    That market approach is what I keep offering up to escape the endless and pointless repetitive “debate” that is going on. (Killian finally got something right there at #144.)

    The thing is, however much people claim that their tech is Nirvana, they are never willing to put it to the test of a true market system.

  13. 163
    Al Bundy says:

    Killian: Hey!!!! People!!!!!

    If after 2 years of grids and nuclear horse apples, guess what?!! You haven’t solved a single damned thing! Nobody has changed their minds!

    Killian: Told you that back in 2008. Do I need to post it yet again?

    AB: Golly gee, mirrors obviously don’t work.

  14. 164
    nigelj says:

    Killian @159

    “Dave Roberts writes a lot of good stuff. He has no clue what “sustainable” actually is.Almost nobody does.There might be three to five who have posted on this blog over the last 12 years who do.The rest of you need to start shutting up. Soon. And listening.Time’s up and you’re about to get another clueless president. (Both, icymi.)”

    Perhaps Kilian could either define what sustainability is in his own words, or copy and paste another reasonably concise definition? I’ve asked him before twice, and I’m still waiting.

  15. 165

    zebra (paraphrasing):  “We can do it all with renewables, you nukees are wasting your and everyone’s time.”

    IEA, way back in 2015:

    global capacity must more than double, with nuclear supplying 17% of global electricity generation in 2050, to meet the IEA 2 Degree Scenario (2DS)….

    Who you gonna believe?

  16. 166
    nigelj says:

    Zebra @162 says “My software detects a hot bearing on one of the turbines, which requires at least slowing it down, which reduces my output.My software then sends a signal…remember, at the speed of light… to all the smart meters controlling the smart houses, and shuts off 500 of the AC systems for an hour, and alternates with the other 500 every hour. Same with refrigerators, on some schedule. Life goes on!…..I thought you understood this concept when you agreed that my approach would not require ancillary services?”

    Ok “Zebras software” would obviously help with that particular turbine problem, but I dont see any great innovation or magic in that. And ancillary services don’t really relate that much to potential blackouts caused by a generator going offline. They essentially relate to variations in supply and demand on the grid creating voltage and frequency issues requiring correction by some central authority and appropriate technology. So Zebra needs to do some research on this and list all the issues (many have been mentioned by EP) and explain how his “grid” doesn’t need the conventional solutions to these problems. I cannot see how he would do that, and how a smart meter would solve the issues and he offers no explanation.

    “That market approach is what I keep offering up to escape the endless and pointless repetitive “debate” that is going on. (Killian finally got something right there at #144.)….The thing is, however much people claim that their tech is Nirvana, they are never willing to put it to the test of a true market system.”

    Having market options is great, but is nothing new and doesn’t tell anyone which is the better generating option to build, or the consumer to contract with. For that you need technical information, reliability data, and costs.

    And Zebra doesnt provide any evidence that Nuclear power advocates oppose electricity markets in principle, although EP’s position is unclear. So Zebra is going in circles.

  17. 167
    nigelj says:

    Research study: Why carbon pricing is not sufficient to mitigate climate change—and how “sustainability transition policy” can help. Daniel Rosenblooma,1, Jochen Markardb, Frank W. Geelsc, and Lea Fuenfschillingd.

    https://www.pnas.org/content/pnas/early/2020/04/07/2004093117.full.pdf

  18. 168

    #162, zebra–

    Sorry, still don’t get it. What happens if the “local nuclear plant”–a third party unconnected to your contract, if I understand you correctly–goes offline, or has to reduce output because (say) there’s a restriction on water for cooling? Do they, too, have customers who can do everything with demand management? If not, your wind farm can’t necessarily ramp up output to compensate. So why doesn’t the frequency and/or voltage sag? Who has reserves they can dispatch to support those parameters with actual power?

  19. 169
    David B. Benson says:

    Perhaps the closest to a so-called free market for electricity is the ERCOT Texas grid, claiming an energy-only market for generators in the day-ahead market. Note that there’s also the required ancillary services market

    Despite this, the nuclear power plants in Texas have no difficulty competing despite the growing wind farm and gas turbine generators.

    I would rather that the gas turbines used so-called green hydrogen or else green methane made from green hydrogen. But whatever, the large proportion of coal burners are on their way out. But there are no plans, yet, to replace those units by nuclear power plants.

  20. 170
    Adam Lea says:

    164: Would this be an adequate description?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sustainability

  21. 171

    E-P 157: I submit that “100% renewable economy” is today’s Philosopher’s Stone. It’s a fraud to promise it, a waste of time to pursue it as an individual, and the road to ruin to pursue it as a civilization.

    BPL: I submit that you don’t know what you’re talking about.

  22. 172

    nigelj writes @166:

    zebra:

    “My software detects a hot bearing on one of the turbines

    Ok “Zebras software” would obviously help with that particular turbine problem

    Not even that.  The turbine is on the same shaft as the alternator, which cannot generate power unless it is synced to the grid; it cannot slow down without going off-line.  His use of this scenario is proof that he has zero understanding of how the grid works.  I suspect that he derides “industry jargon” because he is unable to grasp the concepts which it describes.  It is all over his head.

  23. 173

    LUT University, Finland, models pathways to a carbon-neutral future, and finds that a 100% renewable pathway is not only the fastest, but also cheapest:

    https://www.solarpowereurope.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/LUT-100-Renewable-Europe-150420-3.pdf?cf_id=10749

    Reporting, not necessarily advocating; I think we’ll see a mixed energy future.

    But I’m interested to see what percentage of critiques of this report will be pure ad hom, based on the fact that one of the study sponsors is a solar energy institute. Some folks here, I’ve noticed, feel that while allegiance to nuclear technologies is a guarantee of perfect objectivity, any link to any other technology is just the reverse.

  24. 174
    David B. Benson says:

    Economists attempt to predict:
    https://techxplore.com/news/2020-04-analysis-energy-expansion-billion-economic.html
    result of expanding so-called wind energy.

  25. 175
    David B. Benson says:

    US nuclear power plants lower costs of generation once again:
    https://bravenewclimate.proboards.com/thread/671/energy-demand-2018-onwards?page=2#post-6535

    Some units continue to compete.

  26. 176
    Al Bundy says:

    zebra: I have a small wind farm, and I have a contract with 1,000 very smart suburban houses. My software detects a hot bearing on one of the turbines, which requires at least slowing it down, which reduces my output.

    My software then sends a signal…remember, at the speed of light…

    AB: The odds of your farm producing exactly as much power as those houses need at any moment in time is incredibly low. You’ll have loss of service via load shedding or loss of production via curtailment perhaps 99.99% of the time.

    You just described a dumpster fire.

  27. 177
    jgnfld says:

    EP @165 states: “IEA, way back in 2015:”

    The actual paper states: Nuclear power is a critical element in limiting greenhouse gas emissions, and a new Technology Roadmap co-authored by the IEA AND the Nuclear Energy Agency for the most effective and efficient means of limiting global temperature rise…

    Odd that the smartest guy in the room missed, or “accidentally” missed mentioning, that this was in part an industry response to Fukushima and other events in the decade prior to 2015. Odd too he missed the fact that the press release didn’t provide a single shred of data from which to conclude anything at all about “effectiveness” and “efficiency”. It was a simple assertion without data.

    The full JOINT [caps added] report which this news release lists the goals of the report as follows:

    The 2015 edition of the Nuclear Energy Technology Roadmap aims to:

    -Outline the current status of nuclear technology development and the need for additional R&D to address increased safety requirements and improved economics.

    -PROVIDE AN UPDATED VISION OF THE ROLE THAT NUCLEAR ENERGY COULD PLAY [Note: Caps added] in a low-carbon energy system, taking into account changes in nuclear policy in various countries, as well as the current economics of nuclear and other low-carbon electricity technologies.

    -Identify barriers and actions needed to accelerate the development of nuclear technologies to meet the Roadmap vision.

    -Share lessons learnt and good practices in nuclear safety and regulation, front- and back-end fuel cycle practices, construction, decommissioning, financing, training, capacity building and communication.

    Can’t say I ever would have guessed this from 165’s post. They make no claim this represents anything remotely resembling a scientific analysis. Somehow the OP missed this. Worse, someone neglected to communicate the full context to readers…again “accidentally”, no doubt.

  28. 178

    DBB, thanks for the report on the economic study you linked at #174.

    But it’s a bit strangely written, IMO: the consistent use of the neutral term “economic impact” had me scratching my head as to the *sign* of said impact until the final paragraph, which says:

    “We are so dependent on coal energy because the infrastructure has been built and it’s so cheap,” Singh said. “But this study shows that there is significant economic opportunity from increasing wind energy production, as well as spillover that touches every state and many employment sectors along with long-term impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

    So, the summary paragraph–paragraph 4, again rather oddly–should read:

    The analysis considers the effects of adding 500 megawatts each in 10 different states that produce the most wind energy in the U.S.—Texas, Iowa, Oklahoma, California, Kansas, Illinois, Minnesota, Oregon, Washington and Colorado. The result would be almost $24 billion in economic impact benefit in those states, as well as an additional $3 billion throughout the rest of the United States.

  29. 179

    #175, DBB–

    Yes, once you get your reactors up and running, they can be competitive. (New capacity, not so much.)

    But that’s one reason why I don’t advocate closing extant nuclear facilities barring solid operational or economic reasons.

  30. 180

    #176, AB–

    AB: The odds of your farm producing exactly as much power as those houses need at any moment in time is incredibly low.

    Unless, of course, its mean output capacity is considerably higher than the mean load at the houses. Wind can flexibly ramp *down.* True, that does mean a lower effective capacity factor and thus an economic penalty. But there’ve been analyses showing that there can be a ‘sweet spot’ where overbuilding and strategic curtailment are the most economically efficient strategy.

    Oh, wait–you already mentioned curtailment in your comment. Ah, well.

  31. 181
    zebra says:

    #168 Kevin McKinney,

    “Do they too have customers?”

    Yes.

    Remember, this is the z-grid, and everyone has smart “meters” at source and load.

    If source A goes down or is constrained, it dumps its load… or if it can, reduces it accordingly.

    Likewise source and load B, C,…and so on.

    Kevin, you’re still thinking in terms of the old paradigm. You see “the grid” where the “utility” is a monopoly, and it is responsible for providing the electricity, rather than just transporting it.

    What I see are “virtual microgrids” (I think I just made that up) where the generator (source) is responsible to its particular customers (load).

    So, the nuclear plant has to figure out how to keep its customers happy, just like my windfarm does.

    The z-grid stays stable because the interface (‘meters’) allow for the kind of interaction I described with load management, and they would also provide a failsafe independent of the contractual microgrid… if the source software doesn’t pick up on an imminent failure, the load would still be dumped when the source crashes.

    So, the grid does not explode. Faults are isolated.

    If you are asking about “spinning (instantaneous) reserve” or “backup for intermittency”, that, again, is determined by the market. Generators are free to participate as they see fit and profitable. (Maybe directly to the customer through an app, maybe in contracts with existing sources.)

    What I still don’t understand is why, given that ERCOT and other early versions exist, and I’ve given the references about the technology, people see it as far-fetched. There are lots of very serious players working on this.

  32. 182
    Michael Sweet says:

    Engineer poet at 152:

    Everyone informed knows that Sr-90 accumulates in bone marrow and causes leukemia and bone cancer. Since it is water soluble it will be readily absorbed into plants. If there was significant Sr-90 deposited on the ground that ground could not be used for growing crops for approximately 10 half-lives or 300 years. Your claim that Sr-90 does not accumulate is deliberately false.

    So you have changed your assertion that you never claimed to run the world on waste heat to your post at 122. Previously you said you never claimed to use waste heat as your primary power source. At 122 you build 1.3 TW of nameplate nuclear (no mention of how much that would cost). I note that your reactors run 24/7/2365 with no maintenance or upgrades for their entire life. Using a more realistic 90% capacity factor (for breeder reactors that would be 70%) and 15% time off for long term maintenance you only have 1.0 TW available at any one time (.77 TW for breeder reactors).

    According to this peer reviewed reference: https://www.uib.no/sites/w3.uib.no/files/attachments/mathiesen.et_.al_.smartenergysystems.pdf the amount of energy required for transportation is about the same as generated electricity. You claim an average of 470 GW for electricity with 470 for transportation you have only 60 GW left over for peak power (breeder reactors are in negative power territory). You will need massive storage for peak power since you cannot generate enough power with your reactors. It also leaves you with little for electrofuel so you will have to run all industry, agriculture, ships and airplanes on waste heat.

    You did not address the problem that your claim to use mini reactors to power ships requires an additional 50,000 reactors. How will you deal with shipwrecks when all ships have a reactor on board?

    Your “plan” changes with every post. That is a sign you are just making it up as you go.

  33. 183
    nigelj says:

    Adam Lea @170, thanks, and that is a mighty interesting definition of sustainability, to add to many that I have read, however I was specifically interested in Killians preferred definition.

  34. 184
    nigelj says:

    DBP @179, does Texas or your Federal Government have any climate policies pushing the gas turbines towards converting to sustainable fuels?

  35. 185
    nigelj says:

    Al Bundy @176

    “AB: The odds of your (zebras wind)farm producing exactly as much power as those houses need at any moment in time is incredibly low. You’ll have loss of service via load shedding or loss of production via curtailment perhaps 99.99% of the time.”

    Yes but who’s worried about houses having their air conditioning and fridges constantly going off line? As long as we have a simple grid that isn’t run by evil authoritarians!

    That sort of fridge unreliability is really bad for frozen meat, even if the meat hasnt actually thawed.

    I would have thought it makes more sense for the wind farms to have storage. In other words I cannot see how Zebras grid is an improvement, indeed it seems like a step backwards.

    ——————-

    Zebra @181 and elsewhere ignores the questions KM asked and shifts the goal posts.

  36. 186

    Michael Sweet can’t get his facts straight @182:

    According to this peer reviewed reference: https://www.uib.no/sites/w3.uib.no/files/attachments/mathiesen.et_.al_.smartenergysystems.pdf the amount of energy required for transportation is about the same as generated electricity.

    You don’t quote any of it, and it’s easy to see why:  it says nothing of the sort.

    Figure 4(a) on page 8 shows 4 units of electricity replacing 13 units of fuel for transport.  Figure 4(d) shows something more or less like what I’ve been describing, with electrofuels replacing a considerable amount of remaining fossil fuel for transport.  They say this:

    . . .transport demands should be met by electricity and for demands where direct electricity cannot be used, renewable electrofuels using electrolysis based on electricity from fluctuating renewable energy sources should be used, due to limitations in the bioenergy resource. . .

    Of course, in my scenario I have no fossil fuel, replace fossil-fired CHP plants with nuclear and require a lot less electrofuel capacity due to higher capacity factor of the power supply.

    Your 470 GW claim requires completely unrealistic efficiency figures.  Back in 2004 I calculated 183.5 GW average power at the crankshaft.  This was based on EIA figures for petroleum consumption and guesstimated efficiencies.  Unlike you, I cite my sources and show my work.

    Everyone informed knows that Sr-90 accumulates in bone marrow and causes leukemia and bone cancer.

    There have been exactly two cases of leukemia attributed to therapeutic use of Sr-89 to treat pain from metastases.  One patient was administered almost 7 milliCuries, the second got a total dose of 15.9 mCi.  Note that this was intravenous, not oral.  In my scenario you’d have to get all of the Sr-90 from between 1/4 and 1/2 a square meter of soil into your blood somehow to equal that dose.

    The Japanese are not having problems with persistence of radio-strontium.  Fukushima is growing rice again and exporting persimmons to the UAE.  If someone was attempting a “dirty bomb” attack they’d go after cities rather than farmland anyway; the solution is “if you intend to grow food there, bring in some new topsoil”.  Sr-90 would be a very poor area denial weapon.

    You did not address the problem that your claim to use mini reactors to power ships requires an additional 50,000 reactors.

    Lots less than that.  There’s a minimum size for a nuclear powered ship.  Smaller ships can use electrofuels like ammonia, and oil and LNG tankers would disappear almost entirely.

    How will you deal with shipwrecks when all ships have a reactor on board?

    A lot more easily than when they have thousands of tons of toxic HFO on board.  A fair number of nuclear submarines have sunk.  Their reactors have not leaked.

    Your “plan” changes with every post.

    Funny, I started with 3.3 TW(t) and I still have that.  Your problem is that you either don’t have the technical chops to understand, or are just plain dishonest.

  37. 187
    nigelj says:

    I might have missinterpreted Zebras comments on smart meters. So Zebras answer to grid fluctuations is not traditional ancillary services. Instead a smart meter is programmed to turn selected peoples appliances on or off, causing mini blackouts. This is a really dumb idea that hugely inconveniences people. I didnt register this at first because it made no sense.

    This is not in any way an improvement on the traditional system where extra generation or reactive power is used etcetera. (I actually have a smart meter for remote gathering of data. No problem with that).

  38. 188
    Killian says:

    Re #164 nigelj lied Perhaps Kilian could either define what sustainability is in his own words

    Been done over and over. It has never impacted your mind. You lying about that over and over doesn’t make it true.

  39. 189
    Killian says:

    Re #170 Adam Lea said 164: Would this be an adequate description?

    No, because that’s not “a” definition, it’s a topic. Which of the varieties do you mean to say is “the” definition?

    This comes close: “The study of ecology believes that sustainability is achieved through the balance of species and the resources within their environment. To maintain this equilibrium, available resources must not be depleted faster than resources are naturally generated.”

    However, I don’t think that is what ecologists actually believe, and certainly they don’t all hew to the same definition.

    There is a lot of discussion there, which is good.

    Note that so far as I skimmed over the article, not once did it discuss limits directly, nor principles of ecological design, nor the only viable universally applicable system of design.

    Keep imposing human constructs on Nature, rather than develping human constructs from the Natural world, keep failing.

  40. 190
    Killian says:

    Interesting. I’ve never posted a definition of sustainability here… yet, a simple site search…

    Some people, ladies and gentlemen, simply never intend to honestly engage.

  41. 191
    Al Bundy says:

    EP: The turbine is on the same shaft as the alternator, which cannot generate power unless it is synced to the grid; it cannot slow down without going off-line.

    AB: So current turbine designs use blade pitch to keep their frequency in sync with the grid? Or do they ramp their amperage up and down via electrical engineering voodoo?
    ______

    On the z-grid:
    It seems really time-consuming and risky for the average Joe who just wants stable access at a stable price with, perhaps, peak and trough pricing based largely on time of day and total low carbon generation availability.

    Joe would be thrilled if he could just find someone to spend the perhaps 10 hours a week needed to do the research and analysis required to ensure that Joe isn’t raped via his unfortunate choice of providers, via “stuff buried in page 42 of his contract”, you know, like phone providers do with roaming charges. Joe would love not having to frequently research the spot market when his house goes dark.

    Hmmm, Joe has that service now (though smart meters aren’t even close to universal yet). He can say that he wants green supply when it is available even if it’s a tad more expensive.

    Basically, I don’t see any value added by overlaying a huge time-consuming bureaucracy that turns the supply of electricity into a game where Joe essentially guesses which contract to sign.

    So I ask you, Zebra, assuming smart meters are universal (in the future) what value per hour of effort by Joe is gained by Joe via a z-grid as compared to the public utility model? How much does the z-grid reduce curtailment? How much less loss of service will Joe suffer?

    So, EP, is the z-grid’s brutally enforced curtailment coupled with finding consumers willing to go dark when supply is insufficient sufficient? (Of course, that can be done within the public utility model, too)

    My guess is that lots of Joes will just Roll Coal because it’s reliable, takes zero effort, and cheap enough. Of course, that means that on sunny and windy days coal and CH4 plants will keep spewing carbon while renewables are being curtailed.

  42. 192
    Al Bundy says:

    Kevin M: I think we’ll see a mixed energy future.

    AB: and even if the future is predominantly nuclear or predominantly renewables there really isn’t a significant downside to expanding both at this point. Fossilizing fossils is the name of today’s game. Tomorrow can incorporate the lessons learned.

  43. 193

    #181, zebra–

    Kevin, you’re still thinking in terms of the old paradigm. You see “the grid” where the “utility” is a monopoly, and it is responsible for providing the electricity, rather than just transporting it.

    To some extent that is true, in that my primary interest on all FV topics is understanding what should be done in this historical moment. Given that, I must perforce deal with ‘the grid as it is,’ because, well, it is. Further, the electricity consumer is paying precisely for the *provision* of electricity, and doesn’t in principle give a flying flip about the business structures underlying that provision. That’s a reality that isn’t going to change with the z-grid, should it ever come to pass.

    However, all that said, I don’t see the essence of the question being that the utility is responsible for “providing the electricity, rather than just transporting it.”

    In fact, while the situation in North America is unbelievably piecemeal/patchwork, with non-coinciding organizational structures at different levels of function, it’s not uncommon now for the functions of provision and transportation to be separated. That’s the essence of the “system operator” concept, right?

    Current North American examples would include those shown in this graphic:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regional_transmission_organization_(North_America)#/media/File:RTO_v2.png

    “[A]n electric power transmission system operator (TSO)… coordinates, controls, and monitors a multi-state electric grid.” It does not, however, own generation capacity, as I understand it, but coordinates generation via contractual arrangements. For instance, the Ontario IESO owns no generation capacity; generators include Ontario Power Generation, a Crown [ie., public] corporation, which owns over 17 GW capacity, of which roughly 5.7 GW is nuclear and 7.5 hydroelectric. Says here that’s about 60% of Ontario capacity. So there’s a pretty clean separation of functions in Ontario, and as I understand it, in most if not all of the ISO jurisdictions.

    No, the crux of the question is not monopoly ownership of generation capacity, but the functioning of the grid. Again, it is a complex machine, and it requires operators… at least, the ‘grid as it is’ sure does. Here’s an interesting descriptor of “systems operators,” not in the sense of organizations, but individual technicians:

    http://www.incsys.com/power4vets/what-is-a-system-operator/

    (There are two embedded videos, both of which show system control rooms, one in ERCOT, one in PJM.)

    You’ve described ancillary services as “mere bookkeeping.” To review, the term encompasses:

    –scheduling and dispatch
    –reactive power and voltage control
    –loss compensation
    –load following
    –system protection
    –energy imbalance

    To me, all of those are not bookkeeping, they are physically necessary for reliable, consistent operation of the grid. That’s why the source above distinguishes “Market Operators” who:

    …are functionally separated from the reliability-oriented jobs listed above. (Ie., Interchange Operator, Balancing Operator, Transmission Operator, Reliability Coordinator.)

    The Market Operators are concerned with ‘mere bookkeeping.’ The other classes of tech are not.

    If I understand you correctly, your contention is that all of that can be efficiently substituted by the ‘z-grid.’ As you’ve described it, that grid is completely decentralized, and governed primarily by bilateral contracts between producers and consumer (not to mention ‘prosumers’ who both produce and consume). The balancing of load and supply is primarily bilateral as well, though you seem to envision the capacity to purchase from alternate sources as well, and relies on load shedding, or as they are often called, “outages,” as a primary mechanism.

    Al has already noted that this would seem to be a recipe for a much less reliable grid from the consumer point of view, since every reduction in output must then affect some subset of consumers. That’s in contrast to normal operation now, in which every outage is attempted to be compensated without loss of service to the consumer. The underlying issue is structural: if supply and load are so tightly coupled, that’s what you get. The ISO model is quite different: supply is essentially pooled, which largely uncouples generation and consumption except in the aggregate: power in must match power out, but potential intermediate flows are extremely numerous and only visible at the operational level. The result is a highly reliable ‘product.’

    There’s another consequence I can foresee, though: in the ERCOT video, one of the technicians [sysops] says: ‘We’re protecting equipment–not just lines, but transformers, and really anything connected.’ [Paraphrased.] If flows are not carefully managed, stuff burns up. And of course, when stuff burns up, it must be replaced, which costs money. So if frequency and voltage are not kept within spec, maintenance and operation costs are going up. Maybe *way* up.

    Don’t see how you propose to deal with these issues. You are, of course, welcome to elaborate.

  44. 194
    nigelj says:

    Nearly half of global coal plants will be unprofitable this year – Carbon Tracker,
    by Reuters, Tuesday, 7 April 2020 23:01 GMT

    https://news.trust.org/item/20200407222207-s5huc/

  45. 195
    David B. Benson says:

    Those particularly concerned about exposure to radioactivity should consider the petroleum industry:
    https://www.desmogblog.com/2020/01/22/american-petroleum-institute-oil-workers-radioactive-nobel-rollingstone

  46. 196
    David B. Benson says:

    nigelj @184 — Texas certainty has no plan. convert away from the embarrassing over abundance of natural gas. I suppose that DoE supports research into so-called green hydrogen and its derivative, green methane. Here is what I have:
    https://bravenewclimate.proboards.com/thread/718/hydrogen-fuel

  47. 197
    nigelj says:

    Killian @118

    “Re #164 nigelj lied Perhaps Kilian could either define what sustainability is in his own words. Been done over and over. It has never impacted your mind. You lying about that over and over doesn’t make it true.”

    Never seen you post a definition of sustainability. By definition I mean “sustainability is defined/ means xyz” or something like that which is reasonably concise. Not a 10 page essay “about” sustainability but I havent seen you write that either.

    Define sustainability in a couple of sentences in your own words or copy and paste your preferred definition. You can’t can you.

  48. 198
    nigelj says:

    Regarding Killian @189, I have just spotted that Killian has at least posted a definition of sustainability that “comes close” so thanks. “This comes close: “The study of ecology believes that sustainability is achieved through the balance of species and the resources within their environment. To maintain this equilibrium, available resources must not be depleted faster than resources are naturally generated.”

    All good, but given he holds himsellf up to be an expert on regenerative systems, it’s not to much to ask him to define sustainability in his own words. And given the internet is full of definitions with no widely agreed definition, he has plenty of scope.

    The definition that “comes close” has merit but also one massive problem, because to use minerals sustainably they would have to be used at the rate that they are naturally generated which is so slow as to be useless to modern humans. It would mean either massive compromises to our way of life, or we have to accept we cannot be 100% sustainable. Im ok with the later position because I have never seen this issue as being about being sustainable or not sustainable. Instead we just try to be as sustainable as reasonably possible.

    ——————-

    David B. Benson @196, seems like Texas only care about cheap power and not so much about climate change?

  49. 199
    nigelj says:

    KM @193, I found this the other day on ancillary services:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancillary_services_(electric_power)

    The z grid is not compelling to me. Granted it could deal with all sorts of fluctuations just by switching peoples appliances off or on. I dont see how it would deal with frequency control. But I’m not interested in being part of a z grid that switches my applainces on or off. It might have slightly cheaper power, but is way too too unreliable and time consuming to deal with. The motivation appears to be to get away from having grid operators which sounds anti authority and ideologically motivated, and this might not be a sound basis for a new grid.

    I dont have a problem with traditional ancillary services structure and grid operators. Its like a ship having a captain. Of course one day it might all be automated.

    Monopolies are another thing and I recall reading somewhere that electricity markets are building more renewables, while the old state run monopoly providers are still building coal.

  50. 200
    Al Bundy says:

    Sweet Michael: Your “plan” changes with every post. That is a sign you are just making it up as you go.

    AB: I haven’t seen it. EP has clarified, but I’ve not seen diddly that suggests that he’s changed his tune. You can whine and moan, but he’s got more spare neurons than your total number of neurons and he’s 100% truthful and open. He says what he thinks regardless of whether it brings gentle showers or devastating hail.

    Comes with his non-typical brain structure. I’m thinking it’s kind of like Greta’s, but of course, that’s just a guess.

    Zebra: What I still don’t understand is why, given that ERCOT and other early versions exist, and I’ve given the references about the technology, people see it as far-fetched.

    AB: Because the vast majority of folks don’t want yet another burden. Why should they have to spend ever so many hours “solving” the z-grid? Kind of like health care. They want to not have to fret about it. They want to get on with their life.

    Vegas exists. Those who want to spend hours and hours gambling can do so. But why do the rest of us have to gamble?
    ________

    Killian: It has never impacted your mind. You lying about that over and over doesn’t make it true.

    AB: Contradict yourself much? If your first sentence is correct your second sentence makes no sense.