99.9% renewable by 2030?

What happens when energy modelers drop acid. [ScienceDirect]

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27 responses to “99.9% renewable by 2030?

  1. Oddly they do not consider hydroelectric to be renewable – only the intermittent renewables of solar and wind.
    Their model includes an (unrealistically optimistic) assumption of a 33% duty cycle, with the battery storage carrying the grid during down-times.
    There is no apparent consideration of the $ cost of creating a battery backup for a 72GW grid for the other 67% of the time.
    There is also no accounting for the conversion losses as DC battery systems get inverted to high-voltage AC for long-range transmission.
    There is no consideration for global interconnectivity of the power grid so that one or two continents may carry another when the latter continent is becalmed/darkened/snowed/whatever.

  2. Hydroelectric is not subsidized. It is my understanding that is why it is not counted. Tadchem: Thanks for pointing out the DC to long-range AC. People rarely consider that.
    Has anyone considered modeling what would happen if we put environmentalists on their own island and left them to their own devices? I think that would be a great modeling exercise!

  3. @ tadchem

    They overlooked somethign even more basic than cost.

    They overlooked the basic physical impossiblity of building out such a massive infrastructure change in just 18 years

  4. Hmm, 99.9% uptime is about 10 minutes of blackout a week. I guess I can live with that, and at only something like 10X the cost of the current grid which probably has 99.99% uptime – at least where I live.

  5. These modelers must have no idea how the electric grid works at the most basic levels. Supply must be matched to demand to maintain a level voltage at the outlet. If this is not done correctly you get brownouts or spikes that damage equipment. To accomplish this the grid base load must be provided by sources that are dispatchable. This means that their output can be changed to match the current need, or idled completely during low demand periods and turned back on when demand increases. Neither wind nor solar meet these requirements. And no amount of wishing is going to change that. Trying to convert intermittent sources to stable dispatchable sources would be a massive technological challenge that even if it were possible, it would likely bankrupt us and never work correctly due to the inherent complexities involved. This does not even address the issue of where we would get all the rare earth elements needed to build all those windmills, nor the incredible amount of copper to make wires to interconnect them all. And don’t even get me started on the problems related to solar.

  6. key point: ” 99.9% of hours of load can be met by renewables with only 9–72 h of storage.”

    what exactly consititutes “only” 9-72 hours of storage?

    • Considering the amount of backup needed to stabilize a single industrial facility through a seconds-long power blip, I shudder at the thought.

  7. While looking at costs, etc, of “renewables”, one very fundamental fact of this type of energy is generally ignored. Wind and solar may be limitless, but iron, aluminum, copper, hydraulic fluids, styrene, silicone, rare earth metals and on and on are not. You cannot have a “limitless, renewable” energy source if it requires billions of tons of material to capture and utilize. Solar panels also require washing, using water that we need for other purposes. Energy not is truly limitless nor renewable if you have build huge spinning towers and acres of sun-capturing glass structures to get it. It’s no better than oil or gas and the environmental damage from the mining, refining, and manufacture of these energies far exceeds anything oil and gas can manage.

  8. Well it is anything like what happened forty some years ago,”SOYLENT GREEN”,They’d end up in a cabinet

  9. There is another power generation package,go look.It is incredibily simple,yet takes nano tech to make,not mine to disclose as it was announced by great lab

  10. They have nice charts.

  11. The first chart is especially amusing. At the bottom, they show “Fossil backup generation (GW).” Note that output is zero for a year at a time, then spikes up to about 35 gW. These college boys think you can have 35 gW capacity idling for a year at a time.

    The paper is paywalled, so I didn’t read to see if they had an explanation for that. It is, of course, preposterous.

    Ipso facto, there will be no backup. 99.9% uptime means .1% downtime. Theoretically. Murphy will make sure it gets dragged out into days. Multiple states without electricity for multiple days. Lovely.

  12. @benofhouston–Today we have 29 mph sustained winds which means the turbines are running at capacity. It can stop at any moment–without a gradual tapering off. So, yes, if suddenly the energy for say 40,000 stops, I am imagining backup from batteries or whatever is not going to be sufficient. Plus, the 20 mph winds we often have just start up, in less than 10 minutes sometimes. Imagine if consumers were the ones forced to buy equipment to handle these changes. You can sell many very expensive, worthless things if you can hide the cost.
    @humblist–Planning stages are not finished products. There was an announcement that the supercomputer in Cheyenne would use fuel cells (so to be even more “green”). What was left out is it is an 18 month TEST of the fuel cells. That might have been important. (Though I bet I could make a mint selling this stuff over the internet……)

  13. Update: Winds dropped from 29 mph last hour to 17 this hour. Anyone want to calculate how much backup is needed for that drop?

  14. Theoretically, the best way to make this work is to have all generator output going to the storage system, and all power into the grid coming from the storage system. Generation flux will not be seen by the grid. Except when storage is completely expended.

    As others have alluded, no such massive storage system/technology exists.

  15. On the modeling side, what they did was program their ideas on how to set it all up. All the computer did was select from choices given. Choices are not validated, only selected.

  16. “Dude, don’t take the brown acid.”
    –Wavy Gravy

  17. I don’t know about the rest of the continent, but in Iowa in particular we have enough storage *already built* in the form of ammonia tanks to handle about 20 GW of wind turbines, which is about 3 times the average electrical load of the state.

    If you know anything about how the power grid actually works, you’ll also know that wind turbines with a multi-state grid are the most reliable and predictable generation source you can find, because generator equipment failures generally only take out a single turbine, not an entire 2GW power plant.

    The problem is that there’s no throttle on the wind. We get it when it blows, or we don’t get it. This is where a multi-state grid averages the wind output, in the same way a multi-state grid currently handles 100MW electric arc furnaces turning on an off in minutes.

    If you put some smart-charging electric cars in the mix that only charge when there’s surplus energy, it will cost those doing the charging significantly less per mile even with battery replacements every 2 years than paying for oil for bunch of Arabs to spend on skyscrapers (or for oil execs to get million dollar bonuses)

    • Troy, No.

      I’ve seen reliance on wind power. I’ve seen Fort Worth have a brownout when the winds sudddenly stopped across the entire state of Texas. I’ve heard numerous people who are actually in charge of electrical distribution laugh out loud at your “multi-state” wind power idea. The logistics are insane. Assuming that there will always be sufficient power (very bad assumption), and assuming that there is sufficient power line capacity to shift entire states worth of electrical supply quickly (requires huge transmission upgrades), it might be possible. However, it requires a ludicrous overbuild of the generation supply. How much? You have to build In the neighborhood of 15 times the peak demand in nameplate capacity. The environmental costs of that are nightmarish, to say nothing of the financial costs.

      Finally, how much storage does Iowa actually have? I don’t believe that I that kind of capacity of an experimental technology could have been built up without me noticing it. How many GWHs capacity do you have? Or are you just counting the number of tanks in existence and ignoring the expense of ammonia creation plants?

    • “If you know anything about how the power grid actually works, you’ll also know that wind turbines with a multi-state grid are the most reliable and predictable generation source you can find, . . .”

      Wind is more reliable than gas or coal? BTW, if you knew how the grid actually works, you would know it is a grid . . . multiple sources linked together, enabling sharing and ride through capacity.

      “. . . because generator equipment failures generally only take out a single turbine, not an entire 2GW power plant.”

      2GW power plants have multiple turbines as well.

      Your business website says you are an electrical engineer. So you obviously do know, and still make ridiculous statements.

    • Same question as benofhouston: Do you have ANY tanks being used for said storage? Is it at the “experimental stage”, meaning no one knows if it works?

      I recently read Germany was usurping power grids in their neighboring countries, without payment, trying to balance wind and solar. How long do you think it will be before you would see that between state? What if LA wants more power and blacks out New York City? Nightmare, no doubt.

      What happens when the enviros go after that anhydrous ammonia that is bad for the environment?

      The use of the word “alchemy” says it all.

    • If you know anything about how the power grid actually works, you know it can’t use ammonia.

  18. Checking Troy’s site, it looks like the turbines are manufacturing the anhydrous ammonia. Maybe Troy could explain how wind making NH3 has anything to do with storage or just let us know what all of this means?

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