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On Renewable Energy Delivers 70% of New Generating Capacity in First Half of 2015

Tom,

Capacity, MW, built is not important, except to installers, etc.

What is important is the energy produced, MWh.

August 1, 2015    View Comment    

On Around the World, Nuclear Can't Compete With Growing Renewables

Katherine,

The nuclear industry is alive and well, except in hysterical Europe and Japan.

Here are some Russian data:

Russian has sold a large number of nuclear reactors to various nations during the last half of 2014 and the first half of 2015, which indicates Russia is doing business as usual, despite sanctions. Is this how “isolating Russia” is meant to work?
http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Country-Profiles/Countries-O-S/Russia–Nuclear-Power/

Country………. Qty………Capacity, MW……..Cap. Cost, $billion
Turkey……………4…………..1200…………………..20
Jordan……………2………….1000…………………..10
Hungary………….2………….1200…………………..10.6
Iran………………..9………….1000……………………45
Egypt……………..4………….1200……………………20
India……………..12………….1000……………………40
China……………..2………….1000……………………20
Nigeria……………4………….1200……………………20
South Africa…….8………….1200……………………50
Saudi Arabia….16………….1200………………….100
Argentina………MOA signed
Indonesia………MOA signed
Bangladesh…..

These are orders Russia has contracts for. There is nothing theoretical about them. 

The rest of the world (not Europe, not Japan, not the US) is busy placing orders, designing, building and commissioning reactors.

It is true, more capacity, MW, was shut down than was commissioned last year, but, as Russia’s order book shows, that trend may reverse itself over the next few years.

Russia and China are taking advantage of the self-induced nuclear coma of Europe, Japan and the US, which likely will put their nuclear sectors out of business.

http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/368081/russian-gas-exports-and-western-encroachments-russia

July 31, 2015    View Comment    

On Nine Reasons Why Low Oil Prices May "Morph" Into Something Much Worse

Sean,

Warren Buffett stated wind turbine projects do not make sense without the subsidies. Would he make such a statement, if he did not have the spreadsheets to back it up? The same goes for solar.

Wind and solar are starting to come down in terms of cost of production, due to various efficiencies, but those costs are further reduced by the subsidies. As a result, the costs are nearer to regional wholesale prices at which utilities buy energy. 

There are some areas with favorable wind (Great Plains) and solar (US Southwest) that have lower costs of production than elsewhere, and most wind turbines and solar panels are located in these areas, just as most solar panels are located in southern Germany which has slightly better solar conditions than northern Germany.

BTW, the reason you find it easier to argue with younger people is because they likely have less education, insight and experience in the energy sector. What is "so obvious" to you, in fact, entails many caviats to experienced energy systems analysts.

You likely do not understand with greater penetration of variable wind and solar energy on the grid, the OTHER generator population has to be flexible enough to ramp up and down to maintain grid stability.

That means those generators typically operate (less efficiently) at about 75% of rated capacity so they can go up and down; operating below 50% renders them unstable, high Btu/kWh and high CO2/kWh. As a result their ramping range is limited.

That means the rest of the generators on the grid are operated less efficiently all because of having to accommodate the variable wind and solar energy.

That is just one hidden cost utility operators are very familiar with, but wind and solar folks like to pretend it does not exist.

The more you know about the actual operations of the grid the more complex it becomes. People with litlle knowledge usually have simple answers to complex problems.

July 31, 2015    View Comment    

On Nine Reasons Why Low Oil Prices May "Morph" Into Something Much Worse

Gail,

A great article that raises many interconnected issues.

Around 2000, the growing Chinese economy caused a worldwide increase in commodity prices, but the trend has been down since about 2011, per figure 6. 

One must not forget the increased efficiency of oil extraction. Rig counts are down, but the rigs replacing them and those remaining in production are more productive and make money at lower oil prices.

LNG is becoming more and more competitive with pipeline oil, as making LNG is so much more efficient than in the past.

You are right about wind and solar energy being more expensive than fossil energy and its increased penetration ADDING to increased inefficiency, making adverse trends worse.

Also, wind and solar energy are parasitic, as they cannot exist without the flexibility of the existing generating plants, which causes these plants to operate less efficiently, again making adverse trends worse.

Rich Germany can still afford to be the poster child of that experiment, but other countries, in near-zero-growth mode, are one by one slowing their RE efforts.

Oil supply and oil price have little correlation, per figure 7. It is not the daily price that matters, but what is PAID for oil on a year to year basis. If what is paid over that year is significantly higher, then it will slow economic growth, as happened after the 1973 price increase.

The world oil supply is on a steady growth path, as is the Gross World Product, meaning a long-term oil price increase of about 2% per year has had minimal impact of GWP growth.

July 30, 2015    View Comment    

On Energy Storage and the Cost of Going Off-Grid

Geoffrey,

This article explains in detail the PV solar, thermal storage and battery storage and propane generator required to be off the grid in a 2000 ft2, energy-efficient house.

http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/2162036/comparison-grid-connected-and-grid-houses 

A house south-facing roof, 44 ft x 18 ft = 792 ft2.

About 10% of free-standing houses have such large, flat (no dormers), south-facing roofs. Other roofs are facing in unsuitable directions or are otherwise unsuitable, based on Vermont survey data.

Area of a 250 W PV panel, 64.5 in x 39 in = 17.55 ft2

Maximum installation 250 x 792/17.55 = 11.25 kW, 45 panels in 3 rows of 15; cost about $45,000

Northeast production = 11.25 x 8760 x 0.145 = 14290 kWh/y, or an annual average of 39 kWh/d; this is for a solar-south-facing roof, at the proper fixed angle for maximim annual production, with NEW, CLEAN, unshaded panels.

Less production for deviations from these ideal conditions. In fact, on a national basis, these deviations cause about 15% less PV production in Germany.

Northeast ratio of best summer month/worst winter month generation is about 3.8, but this ratio could be greater, say 6 - 8, if much snow and ice and overcast conditions occur.

Two EVs use 2 x 0.30 kWh/mi x 12000 mi/y = 7200 kWh/y

A standard house uses about 6,000 kWh/y; an energy-efficient house about 3500 - 4000 kWh/y

If no heat pumps, a 2000 ft2, energy efficient house uses about 600 gal fuel oil/y for heating and hot water.

If cold climate, minisplit heat pumps, about 75% (450 gal) of the heating and hot water is with heat pumps (increasing the 3500 - 4000 kWh/y) and the rest with fuel oil (150 gal).

 

July 14, 2015    View Comment    

On Do Residential Energy Efficiency Investments Deliver?

Nathan,

You are right, and if 50% less energy/$GDP is used due to energy efficiency, as is the case in Denmark, Sweden, Japan, etc., with strict building energy codes, then only half the capacity of these nuclear plants would be required. A win-win all around.

July 14, 2015    View Comment    

On Do Residential Energy Efficiency Investments Deliver?

Meredith,

Part of the problem is contractors overstate savings, either because they do not know how to estimate, or because they want to make a favorable impression on a client to get the job.

When they do get the job, they usually revert to "standard" practices.

During a whole house energy retrofit, one must insist on before and after blower door tests, to make sure the sealing was properly done.

I just completed an addition to my house, part redo/part addition, and if I had not been there to oversee the job 100%, the energy savings would not have been realized.

If the outside envelope is not properly sealed, taped, etc., one might as well not bother to install fiberglass insulation, as it merely would act as a filter. Also, it is best to install blueboard on the outside of the sheathing, as described in this article.

 

http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/2162036/comparison-grid-connected-and-grid-houses

July 13, 2015    View Comment    

On Can We Really Decouple Living Standards from Energy Consumption?

Nathan,

Increasingly greater percentages of the soon to be 10 billion world population experiencing standing room only, living on top of each other, diseased, in poverty, starving, a la India? More and more boat people? The remaining fauna and flora extinct, because of destroyed habitats?

June 13, 2015    View Comment    

On Can We Really Decouple Living Standards from Energy Consumption?

Darius,

From your lifestyle description, I deduce you use more Btus/yr, including for long distance travel, than you did 25 years ago, because many of the energy consuming activities you engage in, you likely did not engage in 25 years ago.

Make a complete activities, etc., list for a person 25 years ago (such as yourself), and a list for a SAME AGE person to-day (such as your son).

Add the energy for each activity item and for each good and service consumed, etc.

 

June 13, 2015    View Comment    

On Can We Really Decouple Living Standards from Energy Consumption?

Schalk,

Great article.

"Overall then, the US appears to be the shining light in the story of continued economic expansion despite declining energy consumption."

Japan and Europe have trade surplusses which increases their energy consumprion (and CO2 emissions), whereas the US has trade deficits which decreases its energy consumption (and CO2 emissions). The graphs need to be adjusted to reflect that.

Regarding the last two graphs, could you add 4 graphs, 2 for Europe and 2 for Japan, to see if the US experience is unique.

June 13, 2015    View Comment    

On A Look at Wind and Solar, Part 2: Is There An Upper Limit To Variable Renewables?

Joris,

It is not likely nuclear energy will become minimal, as Russia obtained worldwide orders for about 50 nuclear reactors, each 1000 MW and up, during the past 12 months. They will produce 50,000 x 8760 x 0.90 = 394 TWh/yr of world energy production of about 22,000 TWh/yr.

China and India are rapidly expanding their nuclear capacity, MW.

http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/368081/russian-gas-exports-and-western-encroachments-russia

June 5, 2015    View Comment    

On A Look at Wind and Solar, Part 2: Is There An Upper Limit To Variable Renewables?

Spec Lawyer,

The measures you list are the usual ones frequently seen in RE publications.

That list aims to show lay people how to fit RE into the existing power system.

In practice it is much more difficult, as Germany has found out. Fortunately, it is rich enough to afford its programs, whereas most other countries are not.

The 2-reservoir concept was proposed by a leading, Dutch doctor-engineer. It is planned to be implemented as a pilot program for $1.8 billion near Maastricht, the Netherlands.

You can be sure it is not nonsense.

In the future, energy storage would be essential to enable using weather-dependent, 100% wind and solar energy, after fossil energy becomes minimal.

NOTE: It is not likely nuclear energy will become minimal, as Russia obtained worldwide orders for about 50 nuclear reactors, each 1000 MW and up, during the past 12 months. They will produce 50,000 x 8760 x 0.90 = 394 TWh/yr of world energy production of about 22,000 TWh/yr. China and India are rapidly expanding their nuclear capacity, MW.

http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/368081/russian-gas-exports-and-western-encroachments-russia

The world already has a lot of experience with digging large, reinforced-concrete-lined tunnels.

The tunnels would be similar to those under the Alps, which are many decades old. A facility could have in parallel any number of such water storage tunnels. The chamber with T/Gs and pump rooms would have reinforced, half-cylindrical roofs. The Alps of Switzerland, France and Italy would be a natural, as some of the lakes could serve as upper reservoirs. It would be best to start while low-cost fossil energy at 5c/kWh is still available, instead of doing it with RE at 10 – 15 c/kWh.

http://euanmearns.com/flat-land-large-scale-electricity-storage-fles/

June 5, 2015    View Comment