It makes economic sense, when intermittent wind (or solar) generation rises, to turn down the most expensive fossil plants. Or does it? Join the dots to health costs and it may make more economic sense to turn down the most polluting plants first. Jennifer Chu at MIT describes research there that creates models and scenarios to interrogate that theory. Using hourly generation records, pollution and health cost data from across the U.S. they found … [Read more...]
Reversible Hydrogen fuel cells: can H2 gas-to-power support the grid economically?
We know about making green hydrogen from excess intermittent wind and solar. We also know that that same intermittency means the gaps in wind and solar generation need filling. Green hydrogen is very expensive to make. But what if that green hydrogen could be economically converted back to power when needed? Writing for Stanford University, Edmund Andrews describes new research, in collaboration with the University of Mannheim in Germany, into … [Read more...]
Electricity markets with high shares of Wind and Solar will need Nuclear
When electricity markets have high shares of wind and solar – the goal of many regions around the world – is it more efficient to build a nuclear power plant instead of investing further in more renewable capacity? The answer is yes, according to a study by Machiel Mulder, Xinyu Li and Arjen Veenstra at the University of Groningen. In essence, it’s because nuclear benefits from the high (scarcity) prices when there’s little wind or sunshine. Here … [Read more...]
Solar + Storage Hybrid plants are poised for explosive growth in the U.S.
At the beginning of 2021 the U.S. had 73 solar and 16 wind hybrid projects, amounting to 2.5GW of generation and 0.45GW of storage. By the end of 2021, over a third of the 675GW of solar in the grid connection queue were hybrids, and 19GW were wind hybrids. Only one in four typically get approved, built and connected. But that still points at a twenty-five-fold increase in hybrid generation. It’s why Joachim Seel, Ben Paulos and Will Gorman at … [Read more...]
Lifting and lowering tons of bricks: the best storage solution for Wind and Solar intermittency?
It’s a high capacity storage system that’s simplicity itself. Use excess wind and solar to raise heavy weights. Keep them at a height for as long as you like. Lower them to generate electricity. James Conca looks at a system being developed by Energy Vault and already being demonstrated in the Swiss national grid. At scale, a single “vault” with 10,000 bricks will have an annual output of 27 GWh, sitting on only 14 acres of land. The bricks are … [Read more...]
Improving grid response to support climate targets and increased renewables [Energy Post event video]
We present our video of the online discussion from February 24, 2021 on smartgrid response. Digital, automated, data-driven smart response systems can play a key role in grid security and stability going forward. This makes asset monitoring and controllability - underpinned by the Smart Grid Indicator which is now part of the EU Electricity Directive (Article 59) - a vital link in the chain. Taking part were Vera Silva, COT, General Electric and … [Read more...]
Creating a market to trade excess wind/solar between states (without outsourcing your emissions!)
How do you get neighbouring states, with different renewables mixes, and different emissions targets and penalties, to trade their surplus energy? It’s one of the biggest challenges to face the rapid growth of intermittent wind and solar. Meredith Fowlie at the Energy Institute at Haas describes how an “Energy Imbalance Market” (EIM) is operating across eight states in the west of the U.S. Bidding for your neighbour’s excess renewable energy is … [Read more...]
Wind Farm “wake steering”: small re-alignments of turbines can increase output by 40%
The wake from one wind turbine makes the turbines behind it less efficient. It’s similar to the way a speedboat is slowed by the choppy water caused by the boat in front. Vincent Xia reports on how scientists at Stanford University have been testing ways of fine-tuning the alignment of turbine arrays to reduce turbulence and increase output. The biggest wins (a 47% increase) are at low wind speeds, when turbines can otherwise stop altogether. At … [Read more...]
Climate Change and the Third Energy Revolution
The anxiety expressed by young people today about Climate Change is reasonable, but they offer no thought-out solution. We should examine the available scientific options in a form accessible to those without specialised knowledge and starting from what natural science has to say about energy and where to find it. (In this article precision is set aside to allow the science underlying the orders of magnitude to be clear and simple.) … [Read more...]
Solar intermittency: upbeat “annual” carbon reduction estimates miss the “hourly” reality
There is a maximum speed at which solar capacity can expand. You know you’ve passed it when insufficient storage means solar curtailment, or selling the daytime excess means curtailment of other clean energy generators. As solar grows, so too will this problem. Vincent Xia, at the Precourt Institute for Energy, Stanford University, reports on a new Stanford study which says emissions predictions are not taking this into account, thus … [Read more...]
Barriers to intermittent renewables and battery storage come tumbling down
The astonishing growth of the renewable energy sector shows little sign of slowing, as costs continue to plummet, along with the cost of energy storage, to remove many of the barriers to using intermittent renewable generating sources in a range of applications. Much of this is down to the fact that the cost of battery energy storage is one third lower than this time last year. … [Read more...]
Why does coal survive? A detailed real-world cashflow analysis
Everyone knows coal plants are bad for the environment. So why do countries still use them? Coal’s attractiveness comes from the relatively low up front capital investment required to start generating energy. On top of that, the rapid rise of variable renewables (solar, wind) need something to rise with it to fill the generation gap when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow. In his final instalment - after his similarly detailed … [Read more...]
IEA: Battery storage races to keep up with solar and wind’s demand-matching challenges
Yesterday’s article from the IEA posed the question: will solar’s inherent intermittency slow its rise as a major power supply. For variable renewables like solar and wind to grow to over 50% of global capacity additions by 2040, storage technology must keep up with this pace. For this to happen, “flexibility” – the ability of the power system to quickly adapt to changes in power supply and demand – needs to grow by some 80% in the next decade … [Read more...]
IEA: solar’s exponential growth could make it less competitive, not more
Solar’s current growth trajectory means a doubling of annual deployment every three years. But despite further expected reductions in some cost areas (e.g. cheaper tech and economies of scale), the IEA’s new VALCOE (value-adjusted levelised costs of electricity) metric calculates that solar’s relative competitiveness per unit added will actually decline as its inherent demand-matching issues scale up with the growth. Brent Wanner, WEO Energy … [Read more...]
How much subsidy does solar need, and for how long?
Schalk Cloete presents his latest paper looking at what affects the profitability of an investment in a power sector. After reviewing onshore wind and nuclear, he now looks at solar. His analysis of coal and gas are to come. Intermittency, market share, maintenance, integration costs and other factors are modelled in detail to help predict solar’s future. *This article is brought to you via our new author platform. If you have an article you … [Read more...]