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Bob Wallace
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Solar is currently between 6.5 and 8.5 cents per kWh (SW vs. NE). Wind is somewhere in the <4 to 5.5 cent range. The cost of both is expected to drop. Ten years from now it's very likely that both wind and solar will be producing electricity for well under 5 c/kWh. The best estimate we have for new nuclear is from the recent LCOE numbers produced by Citigroup for the Vogtle reactors. They report that the price of power from those reactors will be 11 cents. If there are no further cost/schedule overruns. They also report that it is very unlikely more reactors can be built and deliver 11 cent electricity. Vogtle has taken advantage of unusually low interest rates. Rates which will almost certainly not be available to future builds. We should expect any further nuclear electricity to cost 12+ c/kWh Storage for nuclear would actually be more expensive than storage for wind and solar using identical technology. Since onshore wind produces more at night and solar produces during midday storage systems would cycle twice a day. Nuclear would produce excess power only during off-peak hours resulting in a single storage cycle. The more frequently storage is cycled the larger the revenue stream.
And how about a little update on the cost of onshore wind in the US? In 2011 and 2012 wind PPAs averaged 4 cents per kWh. Adding back in the PTC that's about 5.5 cents. We have preliminary (non-confirmed) data that the average PPA for wind in 2013 was 2.1 cents. If confirmed that would mean that the full price of wind (without subsidy) has dropped to to under 4 cents.
E-P, try reading what I wrote. Solar PPAs (Power Purchase Agreements) are being signed in the US SW for $0.05/kWh and a bit less. Add back in the federal subsidy and the price is around 6.5 cents. Adjust the price for the lower sunshine of the NE and the price would be around 8.5 cents. I started with the selling price of solar, 5 cents. I then added back in the federal subsidy, ~1.5 cents to get 6.5 cents. The non-subsidized cost of electricity from solar in the US SW is about 6.5 cents, far less than the 12 cent number used earlier. You would be correct if I had claimed that the cost of solar was 5 cents and did not account for the subsidy.
" If solar is $0.12/kwh" Solar PPAs (Power Purchase Agreements) are being signed in the US SW for $0.05/kWh and a bit less. Add back in the federal subsidy and the price is around 6.5 cents. Adjust the price for the lower sunshine of the NE and the price would be around 8.5 cents. We're well under 12 cents in the US. We're getting close to the point at which is will make sense to store daytime solar for late afternoon and early evening high demand hours. Stored solar isn't likely to ever be competitive with late night onshore wind (which is apparently now signing 2.5 cents/kWh PPAs).
Seems like most of the industrial moves were before 2007.
"That is not the case in other climates and especially not at higher latitudes." Europe has been building 'zero energy' houses for a while. Houses that produce as much energy as they use. Here's an example from Denmark. http://inhabitat.com/ultra-efficient-danish-home-produces-more-energy-than-it-needs/ Here's one in Sweden... http://www.ecomagination.com/meet-the-energy-plus-home-villa-akarp-ups-the-ante
The California duck graph is somewhat of a cherry-picked worse case day. There will be a need for morning and late afternoon supply to fill in around solar. Thermal solar with storage is one answer. Importing wind from Wyoming is another. Work is underway to build a HVDC line from Wyoming to the Pacific Intertie and Intermountain Intertie. That would create a loop that would tie together the Pacific Northwest, SoCal, Utah, Nevada and Wyoming and allow sharing of PNW hydro, SoCal solar, Nevada geothermal, and Wyoming wind. SoCal (Arizona and New Mexico) can provide solar during the day. Wyoming wind starts really kicking in in the late afternoon. The PNW has hydo to smooth things out. Storage and backup can be shared.
Actually it appears that Germany's CO2 output did not increase in 2013. Some reporter jumped the gun and used partial year data to project CO2 emissions for the entire year. Now that data for the rest of the year is being released it looks like 2013 will be a bit lower than 2012.
You misunderstand the 35%/85% findings. Wind farms can produce "baseload" electricity 85% of the time. That is similar to large thermal plants. Not all the output from wind farms is reliable enough to be "baseload", but 35% of the output is. With both wind farms and large thermal farms we would need some way to fill in the "other 15%". You need more spinning reserve for thermal plants because they can go offline abruptly without notice. Wind and solar are highly predictable hours in advance which makes it easy to ramp up reserve as the wind dies or Sun sets. The reserve plants can sit idle for many hours at a time, saving fuel. Wind's capacity factor is not a measure of how many hours per year the wind blows. Nuclear capacity factor is a fair measurement of now many hours per year the reactor operates as most reactors operate either full on or stopped.
Archer and Jacobson found that if wind farms over a modest area are connected a sizable portion of their overall output (35%) is available 85% of the time. We accept generation (coal and nuclear) as "baseload" with 85% run times. We don't demand 100% always on. We fill in when thermal plants are down. Build some wind farms in good wind resource areas. Connect them to the grid. You've got baseload. You'd need to build about 3x your annual minimum, but some of that is going to get used when demand exceeds baseload/minimum and the rest can be stored.
Give them wireless charging dedicated parking spaces and card swipe rentals and Bob's your uncle.
When reactors are offline for repair as was the case with Crystal River and SONGS their generation is still counted in CF calculations. It's not until the decision has been made to permanently retire them that their capacity is removed from the total. Fort Calhoun was offline for over a year then came back on line. -- The US has some existing dams that are candidates for power production. A 2012 study of some of the 77,500 existing dams which are not currently power producers found potential to add up to 12 GW (12,000 megawatts or MW) of new renewable capacity — a potential equivalent to increasing the size of the existing conventional hydropower by 15%. http://www1.eere.energy.gov/water/pdfs/npd_report.pdf Based on a number of government and private resource assessment the National Hydropower Association estimates run of river potential to be as high as 60 GW. http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2012/01/run-of-the-river-hydropower-goes-with-the-flow We'll see more hydro coming on line.
From your link... Eleven month capacity 2011 88.5% Eleven month capacity 2012 86.7% From the EIA 12 month report - 2011 nuclear nameplate capacity was 107,001 MW. On a 24/365 hour basis that would have produced 937,328,760 MWh. Actual production was 790,204,000 MWh. 84.3%. 2012 nuclear nameplate was 107,938 MW. Potential productions would have been 945,537 MWh. Actual production was 769,331 MWh for 81.4% http://www.eia.gov/electricity/annual/html/epa_04_03.html http://www.eia.gov/electricity/annual/html/epa_03_01_a.html Why the EIA has differing sets of numbers I can't explain. Might it be that December is a month in which reactors are commonly shut down for servicing? I would think spring more likely. 85.7 - 84.3 = 1.4 pct difference. Not much. 88.5 - 81.4 = 7.1 pct difference. Significant. This site seems to be indicating that outages were climbing at the end of 2012. http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=8611 Always appreciate your gentlemanly like behavior, Mr. Poet.
No, the CF for nuclear in 2011 was 84.3% and in 2012 it was 81.4%. 2013 numbers have not yet been released. Those are from EIA data.
"However, what about seasonal energy supply and demand mismatch? You're gonna need H2 to fill in the gap." Will there be a seasonal supply/demand mismatch? Or will we do with renewables what we do currently with traditional generating technologies and over build? Our current grids are built (IIRC) to supply about 125% of maximum peak demand. We need more than peak in order to deal with plants that may not be functioning during periods of highest demand. If you look at the CF (capacity factor - actual annual output/potential annual output) for nuclear it's low 80%, coal is low 50%, and natural gas is about 25%. Our existing plants spend a lot of time not producing electricity. In fact, we have more NG capacity (55%) than coal and nuclear combined (45%). That means that our traditional plants spend well over 50% of the time idle. Then we have a large span between normal peak and off-peak demand. If we charge mostly during off-peak it's hard to see where there will be a supply shortage. Remember, electric vehicles can be opportunistic. They can sit idle for long periods and then grab the power they need during supply peaks. The renewable grid will need some storage, but probably less than most people assume. How we will store is yet to be decided. We might use H2 but battery technology is looking very promising. Compressed air storage is looking viable. And we have enormous potential for pump-hydro should we decide that's the best answer.
Then let's look at bit about the storage issue. First, since most cars are likely to be charged late at night when the wind blows hardest probably well over 50% of all charging is going to be done directly from wind. The part that has to be done from stored electricity. Storage losses are likely to be less than 20%. So 60% with zero loss and 40% with a 20% loss (trying to be conservative about the amount of direct charging) means for 1 kWh of charging we would have to supply 1.1 kWh of electricity going in. Even if we charged with all stored electricity it would take only 1.25 kWh input to obtain 1 kWh out. Since the best case assumption seems to be that it takes at least 2x the amount of renewable energy to power a H2 FCEV a mile the electricity use for the fuel cell vehicle is going to be a lot higher.
Roger, capacity factor is not an indication of how many hours a source operates but a reporting of how much of their nameplate capacity they operate over a period of time. In the case of generation which can't load follow the CF is somewhat indicative of operational hours. US nuclear, for example, has a CF in the low 80% range and coal in the low 50% range. In many locations the wind blows a great deal of the time, just not often will enough force to max out production of the turbine. A turbine could, for example, run 24/365 at half nameplate output and have a CF of 50%. Since onshore wind generally blows harder at night when demand is lower it becomes an excellent source for charging electrics. The average EV will need to charge only an hour and a half on a 240 vac outlet. That means that electrics can be excellent dispatchable loads. As we move into higher range EVs it will be possible to skip one or more nights charging when winds are low and then fully charge when supply is high. Someone with a normal 30 mile a day driving style and a 200 mile range EV might allow the utility to charge their 'last 100 or 150' mile range as best fits the utility's needs in exchange for a price reduction. If the wind was up on a given night and expected to be low for the next few days then the utility could fully charge the batteries and then skip up to five nights while still meeting the driver's 50 mile range minimum.
H2 is one option for long haul trucks. Electrified rate can do the job as well. Use BEV trucks for 'the last mile'. Europe and Asia uses electrified rail and we have some on the east coast. Someone has already built a 100 mile range 18 wheeler. For places not reasonably reached by rail trucks using battery swapping could make the rail connection. I would think the higher efficiency of using electricity direct rather than converting its energy to H2 for storage would be a better financial decision.
Pollution does come from all burning all the substances you listed. But burning wood and biofuel does not put "new" carbon into the system. Coal, petroleum and natural gas burning takes carbon that was safely sequestered beneath the Earth's surface and adds it to our already much too high levels.
We seem to have the option of leaving NG in the ground. Not overnight. NG will help us get coal shut down first and coal is a larger problem than NG. But as we develop and install storage we can slow our use of NG. It looks like we have a new storage company coming on line that will use batteries to cut our use of NG for peaking power. If they can pull it off then our NG use decreases. We've already flown aircraft with biofuels. That's a non-fossil fuel option. We've found non-fossil fuel feedstock for some of industrial needs. I don't know what percentage.
Natural gas is a fossil fuel. Using it puts more CO2 into the atmosphere and makes our climate problems even worse. We need clean, green solutions.
Tunnels may be the easiest things to navigate. They are fixed. Their shape and length won't change. Just store that in the database. The tunnel walls will give excellent positioning feedback. I'm seeing the magnets as interesting solutions for places where snow accumulates on roads and some sort of magnetic guide for detours. Something that could be temporarily installed and moved as the project needed. Store "start detour here - refer to magnets" information in the GPS/download system.
"As someone who HAS made cross-country roadtrips I can tell you - after a few hours you look for reasons to stop and get out of the car." I just drove from the Atlantic to the Pacific. I stopped every day for a 20 minute nap.
Google has apparently had some trouble with snow covered roads where the side lines can't be detected. I can see coded positioning of magnets. Put two close together at the beginning of a straight section. Position them closer on curves, letting the car track more carefully.
"The *only* advantage the FCEV will have is refuelling time on longer journeys" It's not likely to be a major advantage. Assume a > 500 mile driving day and both vehicles starting full/charged. Both will have to stop 2x. The FCEV for about 5 minutes, the EV for about 20. That would get the FCEV to destination 30 minutes sooner. But while the EV is charging the driver can grab a meal, pee, walk the dog. The FCEV driver is going to have to make any of that extra stops. A 15 minute stop for food and 5 minutes to pee pretty much wipes out the advantage. And the FCEV driver will have spent 2x to 3x more per mile. Spend $40 to get there ten minutes quicker? And spend 2x to 3x for all other driving as well? Nothing against FCEVs but I can't make the math work. Lack of affordable higher capacity batteries could tip things toward FCEVs but it just seems like we're going to see better, cheaper batteries. It's always fun watching changes in technology.