How the wind comes and goes

A nice day to demonstrate how the wind comes and goes. We have about 5GW of installed capacity at present with a lot more on the way, hard to say how much but it could be as much as 20GW over a couple of years. Just in time to replace Liddell in 2022?

Never mind the installed capacity or even the average provision that might be 30% of installed capacity. It is the lowest points that kill the system and that was clearly not considered before the rush to unreliable energy.

It can never work without mass storage. It is being done backwards as explained by a jovial Dutchman who has crunched the numbers for the Netherlands and Germany. He estimated the number of Tesla batteries required to make the combination of wind and solar work his smallish country. The combination of machine translation and his turn of phrase makes for fun reading. I have the translation but can’t find the original link (work continues, it is such a good source).

That flattening of wind-& solar power by using battery storage appears to be rather disappointing. In reality, only 2.66% of the total power requirement can be pushed forward one day. The storage requirement for the remainder is still around 4.1 TWh. The 3 to 4 million Tesla’s used for this are also directly the maximum. There are simply not enough days when you can save a day surplus to use it the next day.

What about pumped hydro?

By far the cheapest way of power storage are pump-water basins, approximately €2.5 cents per kWh. The ‘ free ‘ wind current is then used to fill the water basins. To move that current surplus from the left in the graph to the right (the required 4.1 TWh storage) would then cost about €105 per billion a year. or about €13,300 per year per household. Only the storage that is and just apart from the question of where we are in the Delta Netherlands that will build water basins then.

Backwards, as he said!

And this is the story of peaks and troughs in Australian wind power for those who missed it the first couple of times.

GOOD NEWS, this the original link, it is in Dutch and if you don’t happen to be able to read it you can get an entertaining machine translation.

UPDATE. A particularly good appraisal of the situation by David Bidstrup with an explanation in terms of the clinical syndrome known as delusional behaviour.

The talk by Richard Lindzen that max posted in the comments is just about the best summary of the climate science situation around. Spread it around!

This 1992 piece by Lindzen said just about everything that still needs to be said. A bit long but one of the really important papers to keep handy.

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22 Responses to How the wind comes and goes

  1. v_maet

    https://anero.id/energy/wind-energy/2018/december/4

    Less than 5% (290MW) of nameplate capacity (5452MW) since 11am today.
    Luckily the sun is out so solar should pick up some slack but this doesn’t always happen during the day.

  2. Rafe Champion

    The situation in the daytime is interesting to see Solar making a contribution but that is just completely misleading and beside the point. The whole of the daytime is pretty much beside the point. The point of critical interest is the evening peak, winter and summer.

    In the evening Solar becomes irrelevant. If we are depending on the wind to make up the difference between reliable supply from coal, gas and hydro and whatever people would like to use, we are stuffed.

  3. max

    For Harken Now to

    The Climate Change Hoax, with Professor Willie Soon at Camp Constitution 7-3-17

  4. v_maet

    Rafe, the key points to focus on are definitely evening peak in summer and the night time.

    It’s all good and well for the pro renewable lobby to crow about the good days but the system is only as strong as its weakest link which is when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t up.

  5. DaveR

    I find it interesting that most Green commentators dont understand the impact of capital costs on the true operating cost of renewable energy facilities, preferring to refer to them as “free” or “low cost”.

    Its as if the capital cost of building the facility, and the necessary grid upgrades to connect them (hidden in the ever-increasing “network costs”), and necessary backup conventional generation for when the sun dont shine or the wind dont blow, are not part of the total project power cost.

  6. Dr Fred Lenin

    The fact that these totally useless politicians want to base our societies needs on variables like wind and sun with a tiny bit of help from batteries is indicative of the madness which is corrupting Weastern Society. Many of these muppets went to university ,obviously a total waste of time and money if they pass cretins like these as graduates . I always thought universities were to give graduates a usefull function in life ,even if it was only how to lie like a lawyer. Seemingly they are crucible s of left wing indoctrination . a dogma that has no usefull function except to give power to those who dont deserve it. Just wait tilll the blackouts start during hestwave connditions . The pollies will back off from this folly ,gotta save me career ya know I mean where woukd useless article like me get a real job .

  7. Rafe Champion

    Dave I don’t think we can expect the Green commentators to do better any time soon, we have to get good at talking to people who are concerned about their bills so we can explain what is going on without reference to climate science and if possible without challenging their political allegiance. Just keep it about the arithmetic. We need to get better numbers for the costs you mentioned, they are buried and they need to be dug up

  8. max

    MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) Technology Review:

    The Clean Air Task Force, a Boston-based energy policy think tank, recently found that reaching the 80 percent mark for renewables in California would mean massive amounts of surplus generation during the summer months, requiring 9.6 million megawatt-hours (9.6 TWh) of energy storage. Achieving 100 percent would require 36.3 million (36.3 TWh).

    Building the level of renewable generation and storage necessary to reach the state’s goals would drive up costs exponentially, from $49 per megawatt-hour of generation at 50 percent to $1,612 at 100 percent. And that’s assuming lithium-ion batteries will cost roughly a third what they do now.

    https://www.technologyreview.com/s/611683/the-25-trillion-reason-we-cant-rely-on-batteries-to-clean-up-the-grid/

  9. RobK

    Thanks Rafe,
    Your newly polished presentation is pertinent to the Australian situation as it is now. Well done.
    Gert Jaaps blog addresses the storage conundrum as RE tries to approach 100%. It poses a problem that i have tried to explain in simple terms before.
    Gert has made a good go of it with some figures [ I happen to be able to read dutch] but I fear many will still fail to see the point. In effect, legacy baseload is presently providing the stored energy capacity that RE needs. Your clip warns of the hazard when the rated power output of stored energy(legacy baseload at the moment, for us) is insufficient to meet demand. If we were to increase installed RE and storage to tie over the shortfalls, the costs will be ramping up very quickly all round. The rated output of the storage will ultimately need to be able to carry pretty well the entire load at maxium demand. It will also need to be able to absorb energy at a high rate given that gluts of energy occur as the energy of wind is proportional to the cubed power of wind speed. On top of these requirements in power demands, the new system must have sufficient volume (energy storage capacity) to meet the toughs as you describe along with the more subtle troughs that Gert Jaap mentioned; those where RE output meets direct demand but not the demand to recharge storage in a timely manner. This is the second order trough in RE that we blindly overlook whilst legacy baseload and peakers fill the void.
    I have been aware of this dilema because my farm is off-grid. I have 80kWh of battery storage, enough for 4 days normal use. I have 3kW of solar panels and 3kW of wind power. I live in the windy sunny location of the coastal mid west of WA. Most of the time storage is cycling in the full-20% discharged but usually a couple of times per year the battery goes down to less than 20% charged and the genset starts.
    Note that the norm is that the battery is charged and RE is curtailled (wasted).
    With RE there are massive gluts, short troughs (minutes, hours) and long troughs (days and weeks) where storage is not suitably recharged. The cost of these redundancies should be obvious, you’d think.

  10. RobK

    Max,
    Thanks. Exactly what i am trying to say.

  11. jupes

    Good stuff Rafe.

    Unfortunately we live in an age where facts no longer matter. I woke this morning to a couple of Sky News morons discussing Turnbull sooking about there being some members of the government who “don’t believe in climate change”. It is depressing to be alive when something so obviously stupid can be said without ridicule. But here we are.

    Keep chipping away and who knows, hopefully someone who can do something about will do so before it all goes to shit.

  12. H B Bear

    I find it interesting that most Green commentators dont understand the impact of capital costs on the true operating cost of renewable energy facilities, preferring to refer to them as “free” or “low cost”.

    Windmills also completely stuff the economics of gas and especially coal plants that have even heavier capital costs by displacing them with zero marginal or variable cost output if the wind is actually blowing. This requires them to recover their fixed costs over a reduced power output.

  13. max

    “Unfortunately we live in an age where facts no longer matter.”

    it is complicated more than that:

    “Conflict of interest becomes relevant when “people might be perceived to be skewing their research to come up with pleasing responses for their founders.”

    “Climate scientists are funded by the government, and their goal is to find scientific truth.”

    If Climate scientists is founded by any one else than government he is a liar — like in USSR,North Korea,Cuba….

    this is what happens when government get out of its proper role — big money attract all kind of sociopaths

  14. RobK

    HB,
    Yes, coal fired electricity has to dance to the RE tune whilst stumping up the cost of the subsidies to RE. No wonder there is little appertite for new coal fired electricity generation and a long line of troughers at coals impending corpse. The longer this situation exists, the more expensive will be the fix.

  15. max

    Climate Change: What Do Scientists Say?

  16. Tel

    What about pumped hydro?

    I like the pumped hydro idea … but won’t work for the Dutch, living in flatland.

  17. RobK

    What about pumped hydro?
    If you want to do more than just buffer and peak-shave you will need a very large storage capacity and very powerful pumping/gerating capacity, in the order of scale of what fossil fuel now supplies. Any form of storage is useful to baseload also, for peak shaving. To date only a few sites are used. More sites might become economic if the price of electricity increases sufficiently. Same goes for batteries. It wont be cheap, irrespective of the unit cost comming down, simply because you need a huge amount to approach 100% RE.

  18. Tel

    More sites might become economic if the price of electricity increases sufficiently.

    Ahhh yes, there are actually three very necessary steps to the program, and the first step (which Rafi has overlooked) is force power prices up. After that we then talk about a variety of exciting engineering projects.

    The cheapest and safest power generation is an open cut coal mine with a power station not too far away. We already have that. The next cheapest (not quite as safe but still very safe) is a CANDU design heavy water nuclear plant, which we could get the Indians to build for us any time. Both of those produce good steady reliable power, so until those are both totally off the table no other technology will get a look in.

    Solar is quite good right now for situations where you need something small scale, portable, and you are far from the grid (like in orbit for example).

  19. Rafe Champion

    Look at the Dutchman’s calculations before you get excited about pumped hydro apart from the marginal use described by RobK.

    The talk by Richard Lindzen that max posted is just about the best summary of the climate science situation around. Spread it around!

    This 1992 piece by Lindzen said just about everything that still needs to be said. A bit long but one of the really important papers to keep handy.

  20. The BigBlueCat

    When it comes to climate change alarmists, it’s always good to ask them the question “what is the ideal global temperature?” Another would be “what is the ideal concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere?”. Of course, they have no reasonable answers to those questions; they are lost in a world of relativism, where no action is bad/evil, and total action is good/virtuous – but they have no sense of objective other than “less CO2” and “spend more of other people’s money”.

    I have no concerns with seeking out and using energy sources other than fossil fuels as long as they are economically sound, provide cheap, reliable energy, and are non-hazardous (that would include nuclear). Fossil fuels may, one day, actually run out, or be uneconomic to extract.

    But it’s the irrationality of Australia leading the way in saving the planet that has my head spinning – we produce less than 1% of global CO2 emissions (according to Q&A last night), and are very low in terms of CO2 per head of population and CO2 per GDP $, and all the major emitters aren’t curtailing their CO2 output (indeed many are increasing). And with many eminent atmospheric scientists unconvinced that CO2 is a major forcing in global climate change, it would seem the science is far from settled, and reducing CO2 emissions is unlikely to occur any time soon.

    While our governments (state & federal) seem all too willing to throw cash around in the form of subsidies and offsets for installing PV panels & batteries, I am inclined to take advantage of that since Bill Shorten (for one) wants to keep my franking credits from me. Every time the government wants to put its hand into my pocket to grab my cash, I feel justified to take any cash they have on offer. Unfortunately their arms are longer than my pocket can withstand.

  21. Rafe Champion

    Moral philosophers tell us that should implies can, meaning that if you suggest that something should be done, it is assumed that it can be done. So you don’t say ‘We should practically eliminate hydrocarbon fuels in favour of wind and solar to reduce CO2 emissions” when there is a body of evidence and engineering knowledge that conclusively shows that wind and solar cannot maintain the supply of electricity required. On top of engineering principles (in case anyone is interested) there is the manifest failure of unreliable energy to replace coal or reduce CO2 emissions in Germany.

    Maybe the failure in Germany has only been apparent for a decade but the engineering issues would have been apparent long before that. The question is how they were overlooked in the policy and planning process in Australia since the first steps towards the renewable energy target some 20 years ago. Was there any public discussion of these things at the time?

  22. max

    “The question is how they were overlooked in the policy and planning process in Australia since the first steps towards the renewable energy target some 20 years ago. Was there any public discussion of these things at the time?”

    Mr. Rafe unfortunately when in comes to money (belief, power, influence, authority, prestige ), life is not straightforward like that.

    There are people even today who believe that Thomas Malthus was /is right.

    Upton Sinclair — ‘It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.’

    Max Planck:
    “A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.”

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