More on the economic damage caused by solar and wind power

Still have more catching up to do on describing the damage caused by wind and solar power. Here are two articles on the economic disruption involved.

11/29 – Forbes – Levelized Cost of Electricity: Renewable Energy’s Ticking Time Bomb? – I don’t quite understand the whole concept, but apparently there is a new technique in circulation that cooks the cost of renewable energy.

The core error is based on the idea that there are several times a year when the cost of electricity goes skyhigh for a short time. Those peaks in prices are what makes the power plants profitable. If the electricity is not available at those minutes, the bottom line for the year suffers.

If I get the point, the new miscalculation, LCOE, ignores this in order to make renewables appear to be lower priced sources than coal or gas.

As an accountant, I am fully aware that numbers can be cooked. Looks like this is a way to cook cost numbers for renewables.

3/24 – Los Angeles Times – California’s push for clean energy has a problem: no place to store it – Curtailment.  That’s a new term to me. Also a massive problem for renewables.

Last April, CalISO asked wind and solar producers to reduce the combined output by 1,142 megawatts for an hour and a half. Cutback the output and throw away the electricity. Why? The amount of output was a high enough portion of the total electricity demand that it would destabilize the entire electric grid.

Wasn’t a one-time thing either. That 1.1GW was merely the highest curtailment during 2014.

Several humongous problems. Electricity can’t be stored so wind and solar must be used at the instant the sun shines or the wind blows or it goes away.

Even bigger issue: Too much renewable electricity into the grid destabilizes the grid.

The graph accompanying the article gives the power demand along with production from wind & solar on the day of the massive curtailment. For context, the amount curtailed, 1.1GW, is in relation to about 8GW from wind & solar during the morning peak demand of about 23GW. The peak renewable output is in the early afternoon at about 9GW compared to an afternoon trough of 22GW demand. At the peak power demand of about 26GW around 8 pm the renewable output is about 3GW.

Let me see if I can rephrase that: Increasing wind & solar output by about 1.1GW from output level of around 8 or 9 GW would destabilize the grid when total demand is around 22 or 23GW. A shift in about 5% of the energy source is destabilizing.

Again, the entire electric grid in the state becomes unstable with a 5% increment of renewable energy.


Risk of state-wide electrical failure.

Anyone else see a problem here?

The rest of the article focuses on the issues that there are not any feasible ways to store electricity. Several experiments are underway. One will hold 2 MW which is rather inconsequential compared to the tens of thousands of MW used during the day (2 vs 20,000 or 30,000?)

Current dictat from the California legislature is that the three largest utilities in the state must obtain one-third of their energy from renewables by 2020. The proposal now under discussion would increase that arbitrary order to 50% by 2030. (I’m a little fuzzy whether the 50% is on the legislator’s wish list or has already be moved into law.)

The utilities have been ordered to install hundreds of MWs of storage over the next few years.

There are a few things missing from the article.

There is no indication of what technology will be capable of storing hundreds of MWs of electricity. Or what it will cost to install that capacity. Or how reliable that storage will be. Or what the extra costs will do to the retail price of electricity.

My not-so-wild guess is that nobody anywhere knows the solutions to any of those issues.

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