Wind power not coming through for California – power alert issued by the CAISO

I called the media support line for this press release issues today, to ask a couple of questions, here are the answers:

1. Q: Besides the heat wave, what other factors are contributing? A: “A Natural Gas plant of 775 megawatts went offline last night. The San Onofre nuclear plant remains offline with no restart scheduled.”

2. Q: Where is wind power in all of this, is it performing? A: “Well as you know, wind has to blow for wind power to be effective. “

The graph from CAISO tells the story, wind power has tumbled when it is most needed:

Of course, renewables are a drop in the bucket compared to the total demand seen here.

California ISO Declares Flex-Alert Statewide
With a major heat wave bearing down on California, the ISO is declaring a Flex Alert tomorrow through August 12.

Consumers are urged to reduce their energy use during the afternoon when air conditioners drive consumption. Find Flex Alert tips at http://www.caiso.com
Electricity conservation today, August 9, would also be helpful during the afternoon peak between 11:00 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Today’s Forecast peak demand: 47,125 megawatts
24-Hour Ahead Outlook for Friday, Aug 10: Flex Alert

High temperatures are forecast statewide. Energy demand is expected to be high and consumers are urged to reduce energy usage between 11:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.

Forecast peak demand: 46,800 megawatts
48-Hour Ahead Outlook for Saturday, Aug 11: Flex Alert

The heat wave continues through the weekend. The California ISO is urging reduced energy usage between 11:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. on Saturday
Forecast peak demand: 43,000 megawatt

72-Hour Ahead Outlook for Sunday, Aug 12: Flex Alert
Temperatures will continue to be hot. Conservation is helpful between noon – 6 p.m.
Forecast peak demand: 43,000 megawatt
Go to http://www.caiso.com and click “Notify me” to sign up for Flex Alerts and other updates. Follow real time grid conditions at http://www.caiso.com/Pages/TodaysOutlook.aspx.

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Welcome to the third world.  h/t to Roger Sowell.

 

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114 thoughts on “Wind power not coming through for California – power alert issued by the CAISO

  1. It’s all the fault of those one-percenters at Enron.

    I wonder what the greenies will do when instability in the grid results in hundreds of thousands buying home generators.

  2. Commiefornia to peasants: “Were reducing the amount of power your going to have and will continue to reduce it… for you anyway.”
    Peasants: “We’ll just use the same amount and if it breaks its commiefornia’s fault.”
    Commiefornia to peasants: “O you will use less power and those that don’t… well we know who you are and you WILL BE punished…. and don’t even bother asking that we install more power this is your fault peasants now you must pay your fair share.”

  3. Wind here in Mojave is about 10 knots, temp 40.8 C (105 F). But with dewpoint of 7 C, at least it’s a dry heat…

  4. There is a large wind farm between Shelby and Cut Bank Montana. That power is sold to San Diego. The blades are turning as I write.

  5. Patrick says:
    August 9, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    It’s all the fault of those one-percenters at Enron.

    I wonder what the greenies will do when instability in the grid results in hundreds of thousands buying home generators.

    Perhaps it’s the home generator manufacturers behind it all!

    :-D

    DaveE.

  6. This should encourage quite a few in the “undecided” bracket to give a thumbs down to Green policy – I hope!

  7. California obviously didn’t do their homework on how this has already happened in Denmark with wind power.

  8. Good post. As every one here knows, I support alternatives to fossil fuels for the long term. I have been sharing the recent CAISO web pages with some of my even more boosterish friends as displaying the evidence that California can not achieve its Renewable Portfolio Standard on the schedule required by AB32, at least not without a dramatic reduction in GDP.

    The graphs clearly display a fact that some one here addressed my attention to as a fatal flaw in solar power: solar power production starts to fall off while electricity consumption is still rising toward its peak. For a lot of purposes, such as irrigating crops and air conditioning homes and supermarkets, that is not a fatal flaw, though it is a flaw for many other purposes.

  9. Another detail is clearly presented in the full graph: peak use was less than the day-ahead peak forecast use; most likely that is because people responded to the Flex Alert, and most likely that represented businesses reducing their work or closing early. Businesses enjoy a lower rate if they agree in advance to shut down when asked to do so by CAISO. To some degree, Californians sacrifice their commercial output to maintain their comfy homes and spas, though that may be changing with demand-weighted billing.

  10. Simply amassing. The “Planning Commission” in San Diego just denied a natural gas peak power plant next to a garbage dump next to all existing power lines and the next week approved a development for 1,000 housing units which equals 2 to 3 thousand more people all within a 5 mile area. There is no plan!

  11. Last note: peak demand was about 44,000 megawatts. At peak demand, the renewables were generating 2900 megawatts, or about 6.6%. Ignore the imaginary claim of precision in the first decimal, the key here being “about”. When wind power peaks and demand bottoms, the contribution of renewables is around 12%. So California is about 1/3 of the way toward the goal of 30% by 2020. Hopefully, we’ll have another chance, before its too late, to repeal AB32.

  12. I believe it was last year when Texas had a period of heat occasioned by a stationary high.
    Stationary highs mean no wind – their windmills were operating at around 5 to 10% of their normal output levels, which is roughly 25 to 30% of nameplate capacity. Note that when a new solar or windfarm is inaugurated, it is always characterized by its nameplate capacity, a totally misleading
    number – a solar farm with a nameplate capacity of 570MW, is about the equivalent of an SMR
    of roughly 180 MWe. By the way, a survey of 30 studies of carbon emissions per GWhr of power produced, from govts, universities and think tanks around the world, showed solar to produce more than twice as much CO2 emissions as nuclear and almost half as much as natural gas.

  13. A timely post I see, I can now take this out of Tips and Notes and onto this thread.

    Consumerreports.org Aug 6, 2012
    “Recouping cost of wind turbine may take more than a lifetime
    At the rate the WT6500 is delivering power at our test site, it would take several millennia for the product to pay for itself in savings—not the 56 years it would take even with the 1,155 kWh quote we received.”

    http://news.consumerreports.org/home/2012/08/results-of-consumer-reports-wind-turbine-tests.htmlblockquote>

    H/t Climate Depot and Bishop Hill.

    A few winters back Scotland’s windpower failed when it was needed most. They were forced to buy in filthy, dangerous, toxic nuclear energy from France.

  14. cwoop: They do about 52,000 megawatts in Oregon and Washington. Most of it goes to California.

    Can it really be most? The CAISO does not show that much.

  15. Simple part solution, turn off all of those airconditioners in the government bureaucracy … let them show solidarity and sweat it out with the common man.

  16. David A. Evans says:
    August 9, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    Enron Wind is now GE Ecomagination. Still worse than useless for us, but great for government propaganda and scoring brownie points for GE with Obama’s Administration.

  17. 24 hours in Ca.
    Three stable renewable-power sources; Geothermal, Small Hydro and Biomass producing a total power of circa 1500 Mw.
    Two fluctuating power-technologies (wind and solar) that together cumulatively produce a maximum of 1900 Mw at 1 a.m. to a minimum of roughly 6-700 Mw at 8 am.
    Let’s call that 1500 + (1900+700)/2 Mw average capacity -> 2800 Mw ranging from 3400 Mw to 2200 Mw throughout the course of a day (+/- 21% of mean).
    That’s a pretty wide range to keep on top of but, luckily, using Anthony’s link to CAISO this is a small fraction of ‘current’ demand of roughly 36000 Mw with a capacity of 50000 Mw at hand comprising some 47000 Mw of non-renewable power ( 94% ).
    If we take the used capacity as non-renewables/ total demand as (36000-2800)/36000 we still get a creditable 92% as coming from ‘non-green approved’ sources.
    This is all good news, so far, for Ca residents and manufacturers alike but there’s bad news looming.

    Double the amount of wind and solar, reduce current stable-baseload generators to comply with new green-regulations and we get an increasing double-whammy that not only boosts the price of energy for producers and consumers but makes it less reliable!
    To get to the demented targets of some e.g. 80% via renewables (wind, solar but very little else) does not require a doubling from the current 5-6% or so but a redouble to 10-12%, followed by a further redouble to 20-25% and then with reckless abandon to an ‘all-in’, shirt-betting scenario.
    Madness. Total madness. Verily, the lunatics are now clad in white coats!!!!

  18. When we lived in South Australia, with its California-like mediterranean climate, we didn’t have A/C, nor did most people. Since the ferociously hot weather almost always coincided with low humidity, everyone used fans; in extreme cases they’d sleep downstairs temporarily.

  19. This entire effort is such a fraud. One has to wonder if any consideration was given to the power supply that has to be supplied in order to save lives aka hospitals, surgeries, old age homes, refrigeration on a massive scale etc. It was refrigeration that allowed us all to have food when needed and stored safely, as we all already know.
    Their insane efforts to try and effect the weather with this is akin to blowing in a storm, it is way past ludicrous and meanwhile, people will die, just so they can feel good about themselves. They have chosen to follow a religion that is based on misinformation and downright lies. It truly is incomprehensible.

  20. Please show the base load capacity and daily output (coal and natural gas) that covers their rears every 24 hour cycle. In graph form; more please and thank you.

  21. In the olden days they stalled nuclear and banned coal plants. In more civilized modern times they delayed and and stalled most solar farm projects. And in the new normal they blame heat waves on global warming while funding studies of rising sea level. Not to worry, they have now turned attention to stalling housing developments and forcing the population into small stacked units where permitted of course. They might want to go look for hidden power supplies to go with their hidden park funds.

  22. Somehow, it just doesn’t seem right that an intelligence test, an Intelligence Test mind you, should ever be this simplistic. California leads the nation, and the nation leads the world, even in reverse evolution!!!!

    But just last Friday we have this from Energy and Environment:

    Majority of Californians have heard nothing about cap and trade — poll

    Debra Kahn, E&E reporter

    Published: Friday, August 3, 2012

    Among policy experts, California’s economywide cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gases has been a topic of heated debate for years. But that focus has not carried over to voters, as evidenced by a new statewide poll by the Public Policy Institute of California. Fifty-seven percent of respondents said they had not heard anything about the system, set to start next year, with an initial auction of carbon allowances this November.

    Once informed, 53 percent of total respondents were in support of the system, with 36 percent opposing it and 11 percent unsure.

    Cap and trade proved less popular among the cognoscenti. Of the 12 percent who said they had already heard a lot about it, 62 percent opposed it. Republicans considered themselves significantly more informed; 90 percent of Democrats had heard little or nothing at all, compared to 75 percent of Republicans.

    Two-thirds of respondents said they had very little or no confidence that state government would spend the proceeds from cap and trade — estimated at $1 billion in the first year — wisely. Another point of contention was the plan’s potential to increase pollution in low-income areas where high-emitting facilities are located. Forty-eight percent said they thought cap and trade would cause disproportionate pollution in low-income communities, with 40 percent disagreeing.

    Political support, but little understanding

    But nearly three-fourths of respondents — 71 percent — supported the overarching 2006 law that set a goal of 1990 emissions levels by 2020. That law, A.B. 32, was the subject of a 2010 ballot initiative that sought to overturn it; it failed, 62-38.

    ……….

    Talk about anthropology! Knowing a population has reversed evolution is one thing, but not even being aware of it? Priceless!

  23. Stationary highs produce the hottest, most prolonged temperatures in the summer and the coldest, most prolonged temperatures in the winter.

    In neither does wind coincide–the movers and shakers behind wind energy can’t seem to recognize reality.

  24.  

    Here is a story that may help explain why we need to wind back renewable power projects, in particular the use of wind powered turbines. I believe that there are many good engineering and economic reasons why wind turbines will not achieve the aim of reducing greenhouse gases or cheap power. However there is a more pressing story based on history in which the entire industry can be used as an example of the folly of wind power. In the 1800s, the entire merchant fleets of the world were wind powered and in both naval and civil uses wind technology had reached its zenith in terms of efficient use of the wind. In 1805 the Royal Navy had defeated Spain and France at Trafalgar, in the years that followed the sea became essentially peaceful and great efforts were put into making it merchant fleet faster and more effective. Weapons were removed from many merchant ships as with the exception of a few pockets of piracy the sea was effectively governed by the Royal Navy. This led to ships like the Cutty Sark which was a clipper ship characterised by carrying up to 4 masts of sail which allowed these ships to reach speeds of more than 17 knots. They sailed between England and Australia and reduced the sailing time by months. The fuel costs was near zero, they could stay at sea for months only limited by their food supply and the crews represented the pinnacle of skill based on hundreds of years of experience. Yet with all these obvious advantages of new fledgling steam powered ships, fuelled by coal with unreliable machinery were able over a course of less than 50 years to completely replace the wind powered ships in all but back water trade routes and recreational boating. When you look at what that meant you see the huge change and indeed the huge costs that needed to be absorbed to achieve this change, you could wonder why it happened at all. In terms of cost this change required coaling stations to be built along all routes that the ships would use. Coal is a bulky fuel and the ships range was limited by the amount of coal it could carry. If you take the Australia England route it required about eight stations to be established and indeed in the early part the coal itself needed to be transported to the stations often from the Welsh coal mines or mines of New South Wales. Yet despite the steamships having dirty exhausts, needing totally new skills to operate, having much less range compared to the sailing ships and indeed with all the teething problems of the new designs they succeeded. The reason that all these costs and obvious disadvantages did not stifle the change was because wind is inherently unreliable and the steamship halved once again the sailing time and as oil replaced coal as the fuel source the sailing time was reduced by a further 50%. In simple terms wind energy could move the ship 12,000 miles in three months, fossil fuel moves a ship the same distance in one month or less. If we convert that into today’s challenge then we need between three and four times the generating capacity when driven by wind over that powered by fossil fuels. This is a lesson from history devoid of all the technical details and I hope it will help explain why wind power is never going to be an effective and cost efficient power source. 

  25. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) obtains 52% of its electricity from coal-fired plants in Utah, Arizona, and Nevada. So California gets the power while these other western states get the pollution. It seems like a sweet deal but it’s not good enough for them. They have vowed to go coal-free by 2020. I’m curious to see how that works out over the next 8 years.

  26. I wonder what the Mexicans, etc. think of this state? Any global warming scientists available to help out with this crisis from Guatemala, El Salvador? Perhaps Honduras has a couple of wind turbine experts who know how to tweak them for maximum output? Does East LA have a couple of Electrical Engineers who can “in a pinch” figure out how to store some of that FREE solar current to use at night? sarc/off

  27. The Reuters article is skimpy on obviously useful facts.

    The San Onofre nuclear plant is given as 2,150 MW and will be offline “at least through the end of the summer”. Question: is the time required to actually fix the problem, or just regulatory process delay? Inquiring minds want to know.

    The 775 MW gas plant went offline “suddenly”. Question: is there an initial status on what the problem is there and how long that might take to correct?

    In other words, the story is long on panic and short on what any rational person would want to know to actually manage the situation.

    Perhaps Gov. Brown could talk with Senator Harry Reid and get him to tone down demands to shut down the Reid Gardner coal power plant in Moapa Nevada. Sounds like Californians would be happy to take that dirty power off his hands. Maybe Gov. Brown could offer some of those valuable California carbon credits to sweeten the deal.

  28. dearieme says:
    August 9, 2012 at 6:52 pm

    When we lived in South Australia, with its California-like mediterranean climate, we didn’t have A/C, nor did most people. Since the ferociously hot weather almost always coincided with low humidity, everyone used fans; in extreme cases they’d sleep downstairs temporarily.

    Yes. Hydrate and stay in the shade has worked for centuries. When that isn’t enough, get in the pool. Back in the day not only did people survive without air conditioning, men wore coats & ties and women wore dresses, stockings, hats and white gloves to go out in public. Often “going out in public” in the summer meant going to a movie theater which had air conditioning.

    In cities like New York in the summer when it got too hot to sleep inside people would take their mattresses out on the fire escapes of apartment buildings and sleep outside. People with better living quarters had screened in sleeping poarches.

    Those good old days may be making a comeback, courtesy of green power mandates. Don’t forget to stock up on cologne and perfume.

  29. Resourceguy says:
    August 9, 2012 at 7:43 pm
    “…forcing the population into small stacked units where permitted of course…”
    People in the USA are waking up to this goal of UN Agenda 21 and ICLEI (implemented locally). Especially in the San Francisco area thanks to the work of Rose Koire, the eminent domain expert. I think her best presentation is:

    A little long but entertaining & informative, especially in the beginning…

  30. wind power… the inverse of power…..

    wind power… anti power

    wind power,.. exactly when you don’t need it.

    wind power… giga watts of stupid

  31. You can have a reliable electricity supply or you can have a green electricity supply… but you can’t have both.

  32. … renewables are a drop in the bucket compared to the total demand…”

    *sigh*
    One of these days you are going to GET IT: the low-quality power sources this term refers to use scarce rare earths and other things that are not renewable. The term is a misnomer.

    More cogently, fossil fuels release carbon dioxide, which can generate biofuel or wood plus food renewably forevermore. These are the true renewable fuels and I call them superrenewable, because they only become renewable once you burn them. You have to eat this cake in order to have it, too.

    And I challenge everybody to find one blasted life form that does not rely on the biochemical reduction.of carbon dioxide as the foundation of its existence. No matter how ignorant SCOTUS is, no matter how loudly Hansen and The Team and others scream, they cannot meet that challenge.. Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant; it is the foundation of Life. Fossil fuels–and ONLY fossil fuels–increase the carrying capacity of the Earth.

  33. In the category of “that’s another fine mess you’ve got us into Ollie” my local electric power delivery entity has evidently incorrectly ‘provisioned’ (maybe in their database or perhaps in the not-so-Smart meter proper) the ZigBee Landis+Gyr meter’s “Gridstream RF” 2-way data radio ‘monitoring’ my electric usage … the bill, as delivered (electronically via e-mail), is about twice that expected whereas the actual accrued reading displaying cyclically on the physical meter is today what it should be given nominal daily use as the analog meter *used to* indicate.

    Long story short, my bill was prepared using billing data obtained from a meter not-mine but probably close-by and possibly next door … all this YET to be straightened out with the electric ‘retailer’ and the electric delivery entity (ONCOR for me) who actually own/services the meter and lines … (I have verified so far the meter number shown on the meter *is* assigned correctly to this property via the retailer and ONCOR, but obviously the ‘data’ belongs to some other meter somewhere else.)

    Meanwhile “Service Disconnects” directed to me wirelessly (and remotely) for non-payment of my bill would result in ‘Lights out’ for someone totally unawares of the situation, hence, “That’s another fine mess you’ve got us into Ollie.”

    .

  34. I can see a demand for cardboard boxes, aluminum foil, a sheet of glass, and a pot. These should be mandatory in CA.

  35. Wind is back up now. Sure this is not at least partially the normal daily wind fluctuation from landward to seaward?

    http://www.caiso.com/Pages/TodaysOutlook.aspx

    REPLY: Yes, but the point is that during peak loads, during the day, the times they ask us to do electricity conservation…wind isn’t performing in this sort of heat wave weather pattern. – Anthony

  36. Matthew R Marler says: August 9, 2012 at 5:10 pm
    [ As every one here knows, I support alternatives to fossil fuels for the long term]

    Fossil Fuel?
    Neptune: Trillions of tons of Methane and no Fossils.
    Uranus: Trillions of tons of Methane and no Fossils.
    Saturn: Trillions of tons of Methane and no Fossils.
    Jupiter: Trillions of tons of Methane and no Fossils.

  37. cw00p:

    The power that goes to California is on the intertie. That comes from hydro on the Columbia river. The expensive wind stuff at places like Kittitas? We get to keep that. And pay for it, of course. Amd that is because the intertie does not suffer the variability of wind power well.

    Washington is removing dams and replacing them with dreams of a green future. Nukes are out thanks to the Whoops fiasco, and wind is wind. It replaces nothing, is unreliable, and is renewable so long as you are committed to replacing burned out windmills. Hydro in Washington is not considered renewable because it depends on intermittent rainfall and God knows the rain in this state could stop at any time (and please, God, let it happen. Just for a day!).

    It turns out replacing burned out windmills is not so popular as siting new wind mills near the burned out carcases. These new wind mill farms are springing up around the world but typically near where dead mills rot in the still air because that is where the wind blows. And so the dead farms expand. The dead mills are so prevalent you can google dead windmills and get hours of entertainment. Here is why tracking dead wind mills is important. The proponents of wind, we call them “Big Wind”, claim land use efficiencies of x mills/acre or X megawatts/acre. They conveniently ignore the growing acreage of dead mills when doing the numbers. Take a drive from Oakland, CA to Livermore and look at the idle machinery. And if you have time, look at the idle birds of prey since we’re talking about carcases.

    If you have rural acreage and Big Wind promises you the world if you let them consume your wind, be sure to check the fine print regarding who carts away the dead bodies when these majestic monoliths give up their last joule on your back 40.

  38. Peter Colthorpe says:
    August 9, 2012 at 8:29 pm
    [ long discussion on the ascendancy of steam over sail for ocean transport ]

    I’ve made this point many times about the energy density of wind: it simply isn’t there. If it was we would still be moving passengers and cargo by sail. Peter covers some of the reasons why we are not.

    There are other factors besides speed which favored steam over sail. With wooden keels and planks the absolute size limit for an ocean vessel is about 100 meters and only a very few wooden ship were built to that size. Even 80 meters was very large for a wooden ship. A wooden keel any larger simply has too much flex and opens seams in the planking. Keep in mind this is at the end of many centuries of development in wooden hulls.

    When coal replaced charcoal as the fuel used to smelt iron starting in the mid 18th century, iron production quickly grew to previously unattainable levels with a consequent reduction in cost. Instead of just fittings and bracings, there was enough iron to use as major structural members, and eventually the manufacture of iron plate advanced enough that the entire hull could be iron, riveted onto iron ribs attached to an iron keel.

    That made possible vastly larger ships. And the vastly greater internal volume in turn provided sufficient coal storage to make transatlantic crossings solely under steam power. And a good thing because these early iron steamships also had conventional masts and sail “just in case”. It was quickly discovered that sail power simply did not scale up to the now possible size of iron hulls; it was either make steam or drift.

    Take for example three ships designed by the great engineer Isambard Brunel:

    The Great Western was launched in 1838 at a length of 72 meters with an iron strapped oak hull. She was the first vessel to cross the Atlantic solely under steam (paddle wheels). The iron-hulled Great Britain was launched in 1843; at 98 meters she was the largest vessel afloat at the time and incorporated a screw propeller. While “only” 35% larger in length, the Great Britain was nearly three times the tonnage of the earlier ship. Just 15 years later (1858) Brunel’s final ship the Great Eastern was launched at 211 meters, having both paddle wheels and a screw propeller (largest single-screw ever built). So in a span of just 20 years hull lengths tripled and gross tonnage increased 24-fold, made possible by the vastly greater strength of now plentiful iron and absolutely dependent on steam for propulsion.

    Coal, iron and steam made the industrial age possible, and we wouldn’t have one without the other two. We have better fuels, metals and thermodynamic engines now, but we owe it all to those three.

    And in the modern age to which coal, iron and steam have delivered us, electricity makes most everything possible. If we want to keep our technical civilization going and enjoy its many benefits, we had better ensure that electricity is plentiful, reliable and affordable, even if we have to burn coal to do it.

    California is not setting a good example.

  39. Why is this called a “Flex Alert” and not a power shortage? Is that because Californians will have to Flex when tons of refrigerated food is needlessly endangered? Is it called a Flex when the government has mismanaged the power so badly that there are needless risk of heat strokes to the most vulnerable (babies, the sick) in mid-August?

    Look, if this is this state’s idea of a Flex, then obviously, what they mean by the need for a “Smart Grid” is to make sure that the Smart class has uninterrupted electrical energy while others Flex.

  40. Good graphs on the CAISO website. That is, good use of the vertical scale to catch the unwary. The vertical axis for renewables is expanded 10x compared to the scale for total energy.

  41. Who told Bob Dylan about wind & when did he 1st know it ?
    ” … Idiot wind, blowing like a circle around my skull
    From the Grand Coulee Dam to the Capitol
    …Idiot wind, blowing every time you move your teeth
    You’re an idiot, babe
    It’s a wonder that you still know how to breathe …
    “… Idiot wind, blowing through the buttons of our coats
    Blowing through the letters that we wrote
    …Idiot wind, blowing through the dust upon our shelves
    We’re idiots, babe
    It’s a wonder we can even feed ourselves”

  42. “A Natural Gas plant of 775 megawatts went offline last night. The San Onofre nuclear plant remains offline with no restart scheduled.”

    Shouldn’t this article be about how gas and nuclear are not coming through. At least the wind turbines are producing power which is more than these 2 plants are. Why no comment on the unreliability of gas and nuclear. They are the ones offline.

  43. Eventually this will be self regulating. More wind farms = higher prices for a very basic commodity. Higher prices will drive businesses interstate thus reducing demand. Fewer businesses and fewer people = less state income and thus the State and its (remaining) people spiral downwards into bankruptcy. Contrast to China which realises that it is a “right” that their people can afford to keep cool and / or warm AND that for businesses to be effective on the world stage necessitates low cost power. Behind the scene the Chinese, Indian and Russian leaders are laughing at the stupidity of the west as we fervently push our nations into an increasingly uncompetitive status.

  44. A change greater than wind to coal is looming. Google LENR (COLD FUSION) and see what N.I., MIT,BOEING ,GE, NASA and SIEMENS and many more are up to. In little time Solar, Wind ,Wave and Fossil power will be obsolete ,together with national grids and pipelines.
    What will the Warministas do then? Poor things.

  45. Yesterday morning I logged the total UK wind power output at 14 Mw. That’s right, those thousands of useless windmills that desecrate our countryside were generating just 14 Mw.
    This morning, as I write, it’s a massive 21 Mw.
    Fortunately we still have nuclear, coal and gas power stations that actually work. But if these morons actually achieve their aim of 30% from wind power then, whenever we have similar high pressure conditions over the UK, we’re going to lose one third of our capacity. Result: massive and sustained power cuts. And these conditions often occur in winter, precisely when we most need energy for heating.
    As far as I’m aware the UK has no plans for any backup capacity at all, obviously because of the massive extra cost.
    Complete and utter madness.
    You can monitor the UK’s power output here:

    http://www.bmreports.com/bsp/bsp_home.htm

    Look at the table about two thirds down the page.
    Chris

  46. I blame Anthony for charging up his car and bringing the system crashing down. Perhaps if everyone with a brain in California turned on the AC at the same time, you could kill off renewables forever.

  47. John:

    At August 10, 2012 at 12:05 am you quote then ask:

    “A Natural Gas plant of 775 megawatts went offline last night. The San Onofre nuclear plant remains offline with no restart scheduled.”

    Shouldn’t this article be about how gas and nuclear are not coming through. At least the wind turbines are producing power which is more than these 2 plants are. Why no comment on the unreliability of gas and nuclear. They are the ones offline.

    I write to answer your question in case there are any ‘lurkers’ who do not know its answer.

    No!
    Nuclear and gas operate for ~95% of the time and only normally shut-down for scheduled maintenance. However, there is a small possibility of the failure of a power station or the transmission lines from it. It takes days to start a power station from cold (they utilise steam turbines and anybody who has boiled a kettle knows it takes time to boil the water, to superheat the steam, and to heat all the components of the plant). Therefore, some power stations operate as “spare capacity” so they can provide the grid with electricity needed to overcome any shortfall in supply from such a failure.

    “Spare capacity” is kept as small as possible for provision of adequate protection against the equipment failure risks because operation of “spare capacity” is very expensive (it needs additional power stations, fuel and operating costs).

    Wind power provides failure of supply for most of the time because a windfarm only operates when the wind is strong enough but not too strong. Hence, use of wind power increases the need for “spare capacity”. Indeed, this increase is such that if windpower is more than ~20% of supply then additional power stations need to be built and operated to provide sufficient spare capacity to enable the grid to use the wind power.

    So, large addition of wind power to the grid supply without construction and operation of additional spare capacity provides severe risk of supply failures in the event of the failure of a power station or the transmission lines from it. This is the Californian situation which has required the reported “flex alert”. As the article says, Californian electricity consumers have been asked to reduce their electricity demand. Lower need for electricity supply provides reduced need for the additional spare capacity which California lacks because of California’s use of wind power.

    About a decade ago this problem was so severe that California enforced reduced electricity demand by means of “rolling brown-outs”. The severity of that problem was then obtained by California relying on excess electricity in adjacent States to provide much of California’s needed spare capacity, and risks of supply failures arose when those States increased their electricity use so they had reduced their electricity excess that Californian used as spare capacity.

    So, no windfarms and there is no need for additional spare capacity.

    And the windfarms contribute no useful electricity to the grid at any time.
    The power stations need to provide all the power supplied from the grid when the windfarms are not supplying to the grid. When windfarms do supply electricity then they displace the power stations
    (a) onto ‘spinning standby’ (so they continue to consume their fuel and emit their emissions)
    or
    (b) to operate at lower output. This reduces their efficiency so they increase their use of fuel and increase their emissions (this like driving a car at 10 mph in fifth gear: it can be done but it uses much fuel).

    The power stations operate like this while waiting for the wind to change because it takes days to start a power station from cold.

    One caveat. Gas-fired turbine units can start rapidly because they do not use steam turbines but they are very inefficient so provide very expensive electricity. Combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) units are much more efficient so they are the preferred option for gas-fired generation..

    Richard

  48. This situation advocates the introduction of Smart Meters – the instigators, backers and supporters of the ‘green’ initiatives that have resulted in potential power cuts could then fall on their swords and be the first to have their power cut off……. voluntarily of course.

  49. “California obviously didn’t do their homework on how this has already happened in Denmark with wind power.”

    What are you talking about, Justus?

    Denmark has never had a black out due to wind energy. We use coal as our primary energy source and we have no problems handling changes in wind energy output. Just look at this site were you can see Danish energy production and use in real time with import/export added.

    http://energinet.dk/Flash/Forside/index.html

  50. A couple of points.

    Flex Alerts are a request for all Californians to postpone electrical use until after 6 pm. So, we wait to run the clothes washer, clothes dryer, dish washer. We are to set thermostats to 78 degrees F for indoor cooling until 6 pm.

    The advertising was to Flex Your Power. I works, in some small way.

    Regarding the demand and power shortage, the State does not consider wind power reliable so gas, nuclear, and large hydroelectric are required to meet peak load.

    While Anthony is correct that wind did not come through, planners don’t expect wind to carry that burden. Same for solar. What is expected is the nuclear plants would be at 100 percent. The SONGS plant (San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station) is offline now since January, I believe, so approximately 2109 MW is not available. Leaking heat exchangers caused the shutdown of both reactors.

    Additionally, a large gas-fired plant broke down.

    The State has further steps to take to ensure reliable power during heat waves, with some large users agreeing to shut down if requested to do so. Many government buildings do this, and some private sector users too.

    Yesterday was a bit troubling, as the alert was issued for an expected peak of roughly 45,000 MW. Available supplies were about 50,009 MW. Yet, the state’s previous peak demand was roughly 50,000 MW. Perhaps population decrease, economic recession, improved efficiency, and conservation are reducing the peak load. There is no way the state could meet 50,000 MW demand today.

    Also, as today is Friday, fewer state workers are working due to budget shortfalls. Offsetting that is the start of school for millions of children.

    Finally, wind production peaked earlier around June 30 at 3,300 MW, with almost 70,000 MWhr daily production. Wind was strong and steady that day. In late summer this typically will not occur. It is up to the gas-fired plants to meet the challenge.

    The nukes at SONGS are broken, we import all the power we can, solar and wind are known to be unreliable, so the workhorses of the industry, the gas-fired plants, must step up.

  51. @richardscourtney 4:25 am Aug 10, 2012

    Interesting comment, but the facts are against you. I have no time at the moment but plan to respond more fully later this evening.

  52. Just curious… Where do EV’s fall in the power allocation prioritization? Can I call my boss and claim that flex-alert prevented me from charging my electric-only car last night, so I cannot make it in to work today?

  53. I can see that California represents a useful experiment in the energy craziness. The data is starting to come in. Maybe someone there will begin to make some prognostications on where this silliness is really heading. Californian bureaucrats may not connect the dots, but those contemplating the grand zero CO2, zero nuclear, zero hydro plan may adjust.

  54. OK, I am in a quite corrupt part of the world, and we do whatever “European” exporters and local crooks masquerading as Renewables businessmen tell us. So we have equally decorative wind “farms”. What IS California’s excuse? What a waste of money… Haven’t they heard? Wind is marginal in substituting actual fuel (and has never replaced a single conventional plant).

    The stuff has been around since 1975, and has never made it They exist only for the subsidies they get. Other things get subsidies, but they produce electricity 365/24 for 40-50 years… 99.9% availablitiy. Not 15 and 20% that wind gets… Ever tried running an elevator or an ER of a hospital on wind power? Try manufacturing a wind turbine from wind power…

  55. I love the ignorance of the general populace when it comes to matters of electrical power.

    “Craig Moore says:
    August 9, 2012 at 4:58 pm

    There is a large wind farm between Shelby and Cut Bank Montana. That power is sold to San Diego. The blades are turning as I write.”

    1. Just because the blades are turning doesn’t mean any power is being generated.
    2. There is no way that the electrical energy generated in that wind farm goes to San Diego. It is just too far. AC transmission has a limit of 1000-1200 miles. You can go farther but it takes higher voltage and you still get lots of losses.

    The buying and selling of renewable energy is just a big shell game. An accountant puts a drop in the buck on one spreadsheet and he thinks he should be able to take a drop out of another spreadsheet. Here in Wyoming, FPL (FLORIDA!) has a wind farm. I am sure they show themselves providing a ton of wind power to their customers. They aren’t even on the same interconnection grid!

    Anthony showed the real problem in the original post. The San Onofre nuclear plant should NEVER be taken offline until it is to be decommissioned. Every time you turn off a nuke plant you cause lots of maintenance problems that you have to address before you can start it back up gain. Nuke is probably the best base load generation you can have since there is no reliance on daily fuel deliveries.

  56. “Jonathan Smith says:
    August 9, 2012 at 11:49 pm
    Good graphs on the CAISO website. That is, good use of the vertical scale to catch the unwary. The vertical axis for renewables is expanded 10x compared to the scale for total energy.”

    Yup. The peak from wind in the middle of the night was 1500 Mw, which happens to be the same as the 6 AM difference between the predicted load and the actual demand. The amount of wind power is lost in the noise. Light up two natural gas generating plants, and we get as much power as the forest of windmills… and indeed those two plants will be running because they are backing up the wind plants between gusts of wind. (For later readers who can’t see today’s graph, the total amount of available resources is about 50,000 Mw.)

  57. Bloke down the pub: Perhaps if everyone with a brain in California turned on the AC at the same time, you could kill off renewables forever.
    I dunno, Bloke, there may not be that many of us. Remember the voters recently reaffirmed AB 32 in a statewide election.

  58. People are catching on to the renewable portfolio standards (RPS) fiasco so the latest is to repackage the RPS as “local sustainability” , “critical infrastructure” reliability ,and/or “microgrids”.
    The fuel cell gang is often behind this to sell their uneconomic products which require 50% more gas to generate a kWh than modern gas turbine combined cycle plants. (The fuel cells also generate 50% more CO2).

    HR 762 was introduced Friday which encourages towns to generate 20% as locally.

    The RPS is being repackaged.

    From Power Engineering:

    Tea Party Republican Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (Md.) on Friday introduced H.R. 762, a bill that encourages communities and organizations to generate at least 20% of their own electricity demand to ensure independent operation of critical infrastructure in the event of a grid emergency.

    “The U.S. electric grid is one of our nation’s 18 critical infrastructures. However, none of the other 17 will function without electricity. America’s grid is vulnerable to widespread blackouts of extended duration,” the lawmaker noted.

    The bill notes that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) have established five separate Low Frequency–High Impact (LFHI) events that could inflict extended-duration grid blackouts to the North American power network: cyber attack, solar geomagnetic storm electro-magnetic pulse (EMP), coordinated physical attack, nuclear EMP, or a pandemic.

    It also cites a series of workshops in October 2011 on energy security that highlighted the need for greater local sustainability in light of a prolonged nationwide power loss, as well as a Hoover-Brookings joint report that shows distributed power for security applications is “either cost competitive or approaching competitiveness as new innovations come to market.”

    The bill calls for every community and institution—local fire halls, schools, and faith-based organization—to create “sustainable local infrastructure and planning capacity” to mitigate high-impact scenarios. It also calls for states and the federal government to “support the ability of local communities to become stronger, and self-reliant.”

    “In light of these known risks, my legislation encourages communities and organizations to generate at least 20% of their own electricity demand to ensure independent operation of critical infrastructure and vital national security missions and to provide adequate supplies of basic necessities and services,” Bartlett said at a press conference on Aug. 3, flanked by experts on civil defense preparations. “It is critical that we in Congress send the message that it is in the interest of national security that every community and institution, especially our military, reestablish their capabilities to be self-sufficient independent of the grid.”

    “We also need to encourage individuals to develop and implement a plan that will provide for themselves and their family sufficient food, water and other emergency supplies necessary to weather an electricity outage when there is no one there to call,” he added.

    Bartlett’s bill, which was referred to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, was cosponsored by Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y), Rep. Henry Johnson (D-Ga.), and Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.). Analysis by govtack.us suggests that the resolution has a 52% chance of being accepted.

  59. I thought this site was devoted to Climate Science. Instead I see every topic listed on Heartland Institute’s site related to the fossil fuel industry: Global Warming Skepticism, Arguments against alternative energy, defense of fracking, and on and on. Where does this agenda come from, anyway?

  60. Neil Gundel says:
    August 10, 2012 at 8:38 am

    I thought this site was devoted to Climate Science. Instead I see every topic listed on Heartland Institute’s site related to the fossil fuel industry: Global Warming Skepticism, Arguments against alternative energy, defense of fracking, and on and on. Where does this agenda come from, anyway?

    Its a conspiracy funded by the Koch brothers, didn’t you know? Although none of us has ever received communication or checks, its just a conspiracy man. Evil oil is financing this evilness. We want to trash the Earth and we want the sky to fall.

    /sarc

    But to answer your question, the politics comes from stupidity from climate scientists. They tell the politicians that coal is bad or whatever all the time not based on science but on emotion. Just look at Dr. Hansen and his “coal trains are death trains” meme or other climate scientists that tell the world we need to act now and that nuclear is not the answer (although it emits no CO2). And what happens? Well these scientists give their OPINIONS based on emotion and it sets into motion such nonsense as subsidies for wind, solar and other nonsense that makes no difference to CO2 emissions and is a vastly more expensive and inferior form of power.

    Where does this come from, common sense. If you don’t see it, I can’t help you, but in the end global warming science is just as much about what policy decisions are made as it is about actual science…since climate-gate when we confirmed that the climate scientists and activists are the same pea in the pod.

    And why is their defense of certain forms of power and attacks on others? Why it has to do with actual economics and actual facts instead of emotional tirades. We are trying to be reasonable and set the bar high with facts, figures etc. That is not happening with the climate scientists.

    And a final quote because I can:

    “For the first time in history, people shouting “the end is nigh” are somehow the sane ones, while those of us who say it is not are now the lunatics!”

    -New Zealand Climate Science Coalition.

  61. Jonathan Smith: Good graphs on the CAISO website. That is, good use of the vertical scale to catch the unwary. The vertical axis for renewables is expanded 10x compared to the scale for total energy.

    Actual supply and demand numbers are right there in large type. I expect that most of the “unwary” don’t visit this site to get caught.

  62. Neil Gundel: Where does this agenda come from, anyway?

    It is and always has been set by Anthony’s interests. Enjoy the visit!

  63. Steve Fletcher: The San Onofre nuclear plant should NEVER be taken offline until it is to be decommissioned.

    Pipes in the cooling system had to be replaced due to wear; then the replacement pipes had to be replaced. You really would not want those pipes to fail during operation. Eventually the pipes will be fully repaired, and the plants will be up and running again.

  64. Steve Fletcher says:
    August 10, 2012 at 7:11 am

    2. There is no way that the electrical energy generated in that wind farm(ed. Cut Bank,MT) goes to San Diego. It is just too far.

    Montana is on the BPA/PNW power grid. The Cut Bank Windfarm is tied into the Hungry Horse Dam which is tied into the Grand Coulee Dam which in turn is tied into the John Day Dam where the Pacific DC Intertie is located.

    The average export via the Bonneville Power Grid to CAISO over the last 30 days has been 6,000 MW. The max export capacity via the Bonneville Grid is 7,900 MW.(practical limit is lower) There is a 3,100 MW DC Intertie that runs from the John Day Dam on the Washington/Oregon border to Los Angeles. There is also another 4,800 MW of AC transmission lines running from Oregon to various localities thru out California.

    http://www.nwcouncil.org/energy/powersupply/outlook.asp

  65. Roger Sowell

    Your entire post says at August 10, 2012 at 6:00 am:

    @richardscourtney 4:25 am Aug 10, 2012

    Interesting comment, but the facts are against you. I have no time at the moment but plan to respond more fully later this evening.

    I await your “facts” with genuine interest. In the interim, I draw your attention to this statement from David Tolley. He is Head of Networks and Ancillary Services, Innogy (a subsidiary of the German energy consortium RWE) which operates windfarms in the UK. He said of windfarms in the UK,
    “When [thermal] plant is de-loaded to balance the system, it results in a significant proportion of deloaded plant which operates relatively inefficiently. … Coal plant will be part-loaded such that the loss of a generating unit can swiftly be replaced by bringing other units on to full load. In addition to increased costs of holding reserve in this manner, it has been estimated that the entire benefit of reduced emissions from the renewables programme has been negated by the increased emissions from part-loaded plant under NETA.”

    NETA is the New Electricity Trading Arrangements, the UK’s deregulated power market. And Tolley made the statement in a keynote address to the Institution of Mechanical Engineers on January 15, 2003. The UK has increased its use of windpower since 2003 so it can be assumed that the problem has increased since then.

    Richard

  66. A timely article link in an email just appeared. FYI, FWIW, YMMV, and all that sort of thing apply here. I’m just passing the link along :-)

    http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1395&doc_id=248263

    With wind and solar power growing in popularity, “grid storage” has taken on greater meaning in the lexicon of utilities and power providers. Wind turbines and photovoltaic cells, it seems, need a backup if they’re going to take their place as major energy suppliers. When the sun’s not shining and the wind’s not blowing, they need help. As a result, a new breed of technologies — giant batteries and flywheels — are emerging as a way to store the energy from the sun and wind for later use.

  67. I noticed on the graph that the wind power peaks around 1 am. I wonder if most of that power is coming from the wind farm at the west end of the Coachella Valley? I’ve driven through there a number of times over the years and found there to be little wind in midday but very windy at 5 am. It appears the wind blows at night there. That’s not much help for peak power demand in the afternoon and unnecessary for the low demand early morning hours.

  68. “Matthew R Marler says:
    August 10, 2012 at 9:45 am

    Pipes in the cooling system had to be replaced due to wear; then the replacement pipes had to be replaced. You really would not want those pipes to fail during operation. Eventually the pipes will be fully repaired, and the plants will be up and running again.”

    You are telling me there was no redundant system to keep the plant running during the replacement? I suppose if the pipes were in the “dirty” side of the loop they may have to shut down. Sounds like the excuse Enron gave to shut down a base load plant during 2000.

    “harrywr2 says:
    August 10, 2012 at 10:21 am

    Montana is on the BPA/PNW power grid. The Cut Bank Windfarm is tied into the Hungry Horse Dam which is tied into the Grand Coulee Dam which in turn is tied into the John Day Dam where the Pacific DC Intertie is located.”

    I hadn’t realized that! The Pacific Northwest DC tie is base load supply for southern California. Even though you can spin up hydro resources a lot faster than coal, I wouldn’t think they would risk much of that 3,100 MW dropping out suddenly due to fluctuations in wind. Then again, this is the federal government and California.

  69. Patrick says:
    August 9, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    It’s all the fault of those one-percenters at Enron.

    I wonder what the greenies will do when instability in the grid results in hundreds of thousands buying home generators.

    It is not at all clear that the California grid would be unstable if there were no ISO. In fact there’s no indication that the grid here is unstable, not in comparison with say the northeast where there have been major, multistate power outages far larger than any that California has ever experienced. The biggest problem in Ca. is cost, not availability (at least until the whackos convince people to vote to drain the hydroelectric system reservoirs). Since the late ’90s and early years of this century, California-produced electricity has been transmitted out of state by “brokers” and then sold back at a significant mark up. Enron, now happily defunct, definitely helped set that pattern up and without that mark up, energy produced here would be considerably less expensive. PG&E and So. Cal. Edison would simply be selling energy rather than selling, buying and selling again. The markup may very well go into the pockets of the one-per-centers; it certainly isn’t going to cost for production or wage earners anywhere.

  70. I’ve had the CAISO site bookmarked for quite some time and check it quite frequently, although not daily. The wind production curve is almost always similar, although not always as extreme, to the one in the post. Wind nearly always peaks in the hours before and after midnight and goes in the tank just as the demand curve starts to rise toward its late afternoon peak. In many ways California is one of the states where wind power should be most viable, but if the government mandates, coercions , and subsidies were removed the entire wind industry there would very likely disappear in little more time than it took for the the lawyers to draft and submit the bankruptcy paperwork. This merely highlights the complete folly of attempting to inflict the worthless wind turbines on other states where they face much greater challenges to economic viability.

  71. richardscourtney says: August 10, 2012 at 10:28 am
    “When [thermal] plant is de-loaded to balance the system, it results in a significant proportion of deloaded plant which operates relatively inefficiently. … Coal plant will be part-loaded such that the loss of a generating unit can swiftly be replaced by bringing other units on to full load. In addition to increased costs of holding reserve in this manner, it has been estimated that the entire benefit of reduced emissions from the renewables programme has been negated by the increased emissions from part-loaded plant under NETA.”

    Richard:
    There are major differences between the UK grid and the current situation in CA. Certainly, trying to adjust the output of a coal plant is bad for the reasons stated. But in CA, the vagaries of wind power are mostly offset by adjusting natural gas burning Brayton cycle plants. They are better suited to that service. This is also true of the newer Brayton/Rankine “combined cycle” plants. They’re expensive to run, but not inherently dirty when throttled. But when did CA regulatory agencies ever care about the *cost* of electricity?

  72. Steve Fletcher says:

    I hadn’t realized that! The Pacific Northwest DC tie is base load supply for southern California. Even though you can spin up hydro resources a lot faster than coal I wouldn’t think they would risk much of that 3,100 MW dropping out suddenly due to fluctuations in wind.

    In the Pacific North West day ahead wind forecasting is okay, well within the ability of hydro operators to load balance.

    Here is a chart for the last 7 days comparing base-point(forecast) with actual wind generation.

    http://transmission.bpa.gov/business/operations/wind/twndbspt.aspx

    The problem comes when the wind and rain come together. A couple of years ago we ended up zeroing out all our fossil plants, throttling back the hydro as far as possible without killing the fish, throttling our nuke plant down to 20% power, exporting to anyone who would take our ‘excess’ for free and in the we ended up feathering the windmills. The wind farm owners demanded to be compensated for the fact that they had to feather their windmills and wouldn’t get their subsidy as a result.

  73. Dan in California:

    Thankyou for the information in your post at August 10, 2012 at 1:47 pm.

    Firstly, you say;

    But in CA, the vagaries of wind power are mostly offset by adjusting natural gas burning Brayton cycle plants. They are better suited to that service. This is also true of the newer Brayton/Rankine “combined cycle” plants. They’re expensive to run, but not inherently dirty when throttled.

    I said nothing about “dirty”: I discussed “emissions”. Some of those emissions are CO2 and the stated purpose of the windfarms is to reduce CO2 emissions from electricity generation.

    At August 10, 2012 at 4:25 am I said:

    And the windfarms contribute no useful electricity to the grid at any time.
    The power stations need to provide all the power supplied from the grid when the windfarms are not supplying to the grid. When windfarms do supply electricity then they displace the power stations
    (a) onto ‘spinning standby’ (so they continue to consume their fuel and emit their emissions)
    or
    (b) to operate at lower output. This reduces their efficiency so they increase their use of fuel and increase their emissions (this like driving a car at 10 mph in fifth gear: it can be done but it uses much fuel).

    Later, at August 10, 2012 at 10:28 am I quoted from a keynote lecture by David Tolley (which your post wrongly attributes to me) that also says the same but with specific reference to coal-fired plants in the UK.

    Inportantly, the point is also valid for gas-fired combined cycle plants (as I explained in my post at August 10, 2012 at 4:25 am).

    Secondly, you admit the additional cost induced by use of windfarms then ask me:

    But when did CA regulatory agencies ever care about the *cost* of electricity?

    I answer that I don’t know, but add that nobody who desired low-cost electricity would add windfarms to an electricity grid supply. Also, your point supports my caveat (in my post at August 10, 2012 at 4:25 am) which said:

    One caveat. Gas-fired turbine units can start rapidly because they do not use steam turbines but they are very inefficient so provide very expensive electricity. Combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) units are much more efficient so they are the preferred option for gas-fired generation.

    Richard

  74. Drove over Altamont pass last night around 1900 PDT, about half the avian Cuisinarts were spinning but there was no wind at all – the flag on the east side was limp against the flagpole – stopping at the summit and getting out of the car confirmed that there wasn’t the slightest hint of a breeze at that level – so what exactly was the “output” of that wind farm? – what was the recorded wind speed?

  75. Duster says August 10, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    It is not at all clear that the California grid would be unstable if there were no ISO.

    Sorry, but, who would coordinate and oversee ‘economic dispatch’, which means (in part) acting as the ‘traffic cop’ on the system who maintains performs generator scheduling and enforces ‘operational constraints’ on transmission lines which means observing (and running the vaunted area state-estimator and this is state as in ‘stable’ phase or power-flow ‘state’) for the ‘safe’ non-overloading flow of electricity through the various transmission lines (some run in parallel or branch across different parts of the system) and if ‘free market’ principles are in play then the ISO can also act as the ‘settlement’ (billing) clearinghouse all the while assuring sufficient generator capability is scheduled for the upcoming 1, 5 and 10 day ‘windows’?

    None of this would occur without some entity being ‘delegated’ the responsibility (and authority!; the force of law); in Texas, we have ERCOT who does all this …

    http://www.ercot.com/about/profile/history/

    http://www.isorto.org/site/c.jhKQIZPBImE/b.2604605/k.C12F/ERCOT.htm

    .

  76. @ richardscourtney, from above.

    RSC says “Wind power provides failure of supply for most of the time because a windfarm only operates when the wind is strong enough but not too strong. Hence, use of wind power increases the need for “spare capacity”. Indeed, this increase is such that if windpower is more than ~20% of supply then additional power stations need to be built and operated to provide sufficient spare capacity to enable the grid to use the wind power.”

    Not true. Dispatchable power plants, such as natural gas, coal, or hydroelectric, are built to supply safe, reliable power to the grid no matter if wind generation is zero percent or 30 percent. It is obvious that wind sometimes does not blow but the demand for power exists. Therefore, there is no need for more power plants to be built simply because wind supplies energy to a grid.

    RSC says “So, large addition of wind power to the grid supply without construction and operation of additional spare capacity provides severe risk of supply failures in the event of the failure of a power station or the transmission lines from it. This is the Californian situation which has required the reported “flex alert”. As the article says, Californian electricity consumers have been asked to reduce their electricity demand. Lower need for electricity supply provides reduced need for the additional spare capacity which California lacks because of California’s use of wind power.”

    Again, not true. There is zero need for additional spare capacity due to the installation of wind energy. The flex alert has zero to do with wind, but has much more to do with high demand and major power plants being offline. As stated earlier, the SONGS nuclear plants and a large natural gas –fired plant are not available. The grid in California would have a flex alert even if the wind was blowing simply because wind is unreliable.

    RSC says “About a decade ago this problem was so severe that California enforced reduced electricity demand by means of “rolling brown-outs”.

    The severity of that problem was then obtained by California relying on excess electricity in adjacent States to provide much of California’s needed spare capacity, and risks of supply failures arose when those States increased their electricity use so they had reduced their electricity excess that Californian used as spare capacity.
    So, no windfarms and there is no need for additional spare capacity.””

    Again, not true. The rolling blackouts did occur but not for the reasons RSC gives. Power generating companies had recently been separated by law from the grid, and had strong incentives to manipulate the system into a false and unnecessary lack of power. After investigation, Enron and others were found to have deliberately shut down power plants to create a shortage, thus driving up the price of electricity sold into the grid. Additions to California power generating capacity were delayed by environmentalists despite sober warnings by electric utility experts. California finally allowed the needed plants to be built.

    RSC says “And the windfarms contribute no useful electricity to the grid at any time.” (bold in original)

    This is absolutely false. For example, according to the CAISO, wind generation on June 30, 2012 contributed 69,894 MWh into the grid. Peak wind production that day was 3,318 MW. As an exemplary day, the wind was very steady for almost the entire 24 hours. Average was 2,912 MW for the day. If wind “contribute[s] no useful electricity to the grid at any time,” to where did that almost 70,000 MWh of electricity go?

    Electricity must follow the laws of thermodynamics, and those laws are never violated. The First Law requires that energy cannot be created nor destroyed – absent nuclear reactions – at normal Newtonian conditions. Therefore, electrical energy created by the wind generators entered the grid that day. It certainly did not disappear, as that would violate the First Law. Indeed, that wind-generated electricity was measured, metered, and was paid for by the distributors according to contracts.

    RSC says “The power stations need to provide all the power supplied from the grid when the windfarms are not supplying to the grid. When windfarms do supply electricity then they displace the power stations (a) onto ‘spinning standby’ (so they continue to consume their fuel and emit their emissions)”

    The first sentence is true. From there, again RSC makes a false statement. A power plant with reduced load consumes some fuel but not 100 percent. Emissions are also reduced.

    RSC says “or (b) to operate at lower output. This reduces their efficiency so they increase their use of fuel and increase their emissions (this like driving a car at 10 mph in fifth gear: it can be done but it uses much fuel).”

    This is almost completely untrue. At lower output, a power plant may have a slightly reduced thermal efficiency, but it may also increase, depending on the type of plant. In any event, the slight reduction in efficiency is more than offset by the reduced load. An example of how this works may be instructive. An analogy is made to riding a bicycle, one with only one gear. On level ground with no wind, a person must exert some force to propel the bicycle from standing still to a given speed, we shall use 10 miles per hour. Once the speed is attained, very little effort is required to maintain that speed. This is analogous to a power plant being brought from cold condition to spinning speed, but with zero load. The level road is equivalent to zero load.

    Next, the bicycle is ridden up a slight incline, but the speed must be maintained at 10 miles per hour. The bicycle’s speed is analogous to the grid frequency, and cannot change. It is obvious that the bicyclist must exert more energy to propel the bicycle up the slight incline and maintain his speed. A power plant at part-load, we will use 50 percent load, must also consume more fuel to produce power at 50 percent of rated capacity. Finally, the bicycle is ridden up a steeper incline, with the bicycle speed maintained at 10 miles per hour. Much more effort, or energy, must be expended by the bicyclist to ride at 10 miles per hour up the steeper hill. Similarly, more fuel is burned in the power plant to produce its full rated capacity.

    The reverse is also true, such that if the bicycle now changes to an incline slightly less than that from the 100 percent case, the rider can reduce his output of energy into the pedals. A power plant does exactly the same when the load is reduced.

    Next, RSC offers this regarding a German grid, “it has been estimated that the entire benefit of reduced emissions from the renewables programme has been negated by the increased emissions from part-loaded plant under NETA.” “

    The reduced emissions, or lack of reduction, due to wind energy integrated into power grids is a contentious issue. As with the catastrophic man-made global warming issue, there are various interests with conflicting data and conclusions. I don’t know the source of the data that purportedly support the statement that emissions reductions were negated. I do know that various US studies have shown that emissions reductions are real, quantifiable, and have been observed and quantified. See e.g. http://www.awea.org/blog/index.cfm?customel_dataPageID_1699=16631

    This is from the AWEA, the American Wind Energy Association. This association has an interest in promoting wind energy, and is under intense scrutiny by those opposed to wind energy. The references cited within the article are from the US Department of Energy (DOE) and data from Illinois, Colorado, Texas, and the Independent grid operators ERCOT, MISO, PJM, and New England. ERCOT operates the Texas grid, MISO operates the Mid-West grid, PJM operates the Pennsylvania-Jersey-Maryland grid.

  77. Roger Sowell:

    Thankyou for your long screed at August 10, 2012 at 7:35 pm in response to my comments at August 10, 2012 at 4:25 am.

    I suspect that I alone read all your post but I write this reply because you were sufficiently kind as to write it all. And I apologise to Moderators and to readers that this reply is – by necessity – also long.

    You dispute my accurate statements saying;

    “Wind power provides failure of supply for most of the time because a windfarm only operates when the wind is strong enough but not too strong. Hence, use of wind power increases the need for “spare capacity”. Indeed, this increase is such that if windpower is more than ~20% of supply then additional power stations need to be built and operated to provide sufficient spare capacity to enable the grid to use the wind power.”

    But your rebuttal is plain wrong. It says;

    “Not true. Dispatchable power plants, such as natural gas, coal, or hydroelectric, are built to supply safe, reliable power to the grid no matter if wind generation is zero percent or 30 percent. It is obvious that wind sometimes does not blow but the demand for power exists. Therefore, there is no need for more power plants to be built simply because wind supplies energy to a grid.

    NO! Your answer suggests risk management is independent of the reliability of grid components. And your answer implies that you are being disingenuous because it makes no mention of my ~20% figure. The problem is induced by the non-linear nature of risk management. I explain the matter as follows.

    Windfarms provide intermittent power. Hence, windfarms increase the risk of supply failures. Indeed, they give the certainty of supply failures when the wind is too strong or not strong enough.
    But, as you say, the increased risk of supply failures from windfarms is insignificant when there is small contribution of electricity to the grid from windfarms. All the output from the windfarms forces thermal power stations to operate spinning standby or at reduced output that can cope with the risk.

    But the problem of managing the risk increases disproportionately as the risk increases.

    Electricity is not wanted in the same amounts everywhere, and electricity is lost when it is transmitted over long distances. The additional risk management difficulties require additional spinning standby when the risk of supply failures is very large. Otherwise it would be impossible to match supply with demand throughout the grid when a large supply failure occurred.

    Therefore, additional power stations must be built and operated on spinning standby (using their additional fuel and providing their additional emissions) to manage the increased risk of power cuts from supply failures (e.g. of a power station or transmission lines) when windpower contributes more than 20% of the potential electricity supply
    (ref. Laughton, M.A., Renewables and the UK Electricity Grid Supply Infrastructure, Platts Power in Europe. 2002).
    Indeed, this limit is the reason why the UK target for ‘renewable’ electricity generation is 20%: the UK generates hydropower (mostly in Scotland) so wind power will not reach the 20% limit if the target is met. The problem is inherent to any grid infrastructure and not only the UK’s grid.

    You then compound that error of omission by disputing my statement which said;

    “So, large addition of wind power to the grid supply without construction and operation of additional spare capacity provides severe risk of supply failures in the event of the failure of a power station or the transmission lines from it. This is the Californian situation which has required the reported “flex alert”. As the article says, Californian electricity consumers have been asked to reduce their electricity demand. Lower need for electricity supply provides reduced need for the additional spare capacity which California lacks because of California’s use of wind power.”

    Your dispute consists of your repeating your fallacious assertion that

    There is zero need for additional spare capacity due to the installation of wind energy.

    As I explain above in this reply, your assertion is plain wrong.

    You follow that with dispute of my accurate explanation of the major reason for the enforced rolling “brown-outs” imposed around California in the latter part of the last century. I provided that history merely as illustration so it has little importance in this discussion, and this post is already too long, so I will not challenge your version of history: I merely mention that I stand by what I said concerning the “brown-outs”.

    The remainder of your post is meaningless twaddle.

    You make silly dispute of my accurate statement that said

    And the windfarms contribute no useful electricity to the grid at any time
    Your silly dispute ignores that my statement concerned useful electricity and I explained that this as follows.
    And the windfarms contribute no useful electricity to the grid at any time The power stations need to provide all the power supplied from the grid when the windfarms are not supplying to the grid. When windfarms do supply electricity then they displace the power stations
    (a) onto ‘spinning standby’ (so they continue to consume their fuel and emit their emissions)
    or
    (b) to operate at lower output. This reduces their efficiency so they increase their use of fuel and increase their emissions (this like driving a car at 10 mph in fifth gear: it can be done but it uses much fuel).

    So, the windfarms increase both the costs of electricity and the emissions from electricity generation but provide no needed addition to electricity generation.
    Their contribution is not “useful” electricity: it is an expensive, polluting nuisance.

    Nothing you say addresses that. Instead, you assert that all electricity is “useful” if it is put on the grid and you support that assertion with daft points (e.g. concerning Laws of Thermodynamics).

    I think you know my point about usefulness is correct because you attempt to dispute my points (a) and (b) in my explanation of why the electricity from windfarms is not useful.

    And the “evidence” you provide to deny my accurate points (a) and (b) is an assertion that they are “contentious” because the American Wind Energy Association tries to refute these truths.

    Also, I said nothing about “the German grid” although my comments pertain to any electricity grid supply system.

    Richard

  78. Anthony said :

    Yes, but the point is that during peak loads, during the day, – the times they ask us to do electricity conservation – wind isn’t performing in this sort of heat wave weather pattern.

    Anthony, I don’t understand why you are making such a big deal out of this.

    Wind power in California is such a small percentage of overall power use, that it does not make any sense to even argue about is performance pattern w.r.t. consumption curve.

    Wind power provided mimics us consumers using less power at irregular times.

    As I see it, the market will solve the issue you raise all by itself. Wind turbine operators cannot decide to power-up or down. They always sell all they have the moment they get it, for whatever the price is. Same for solar-power plant operators, who just have the advantage that (so far) the price during the day is higher than during the night.

    With or without wind/solar, conventional power plants can still decide to power-up or down based on the price (demand), as they have been doing since the first plant powered up.

    And if consumers are going to be made aware (and be charged) for the price that it takes to generate power at any specific moment, then we can expect some really creative consumption behavior as well. For example, you could charge your electric vehicle when the price is low, and discharge it to the grid if the price is high. That way, you make money just having your electric vehicle parked and plugged in.

    See ? It will all work out fine.

  79. Rob Dekker:

    Your post at August 11, 2012 at 2:23 am would be true
    (a) if there were no subsidies (so price related to cost and demand)
    and
    (b) if the supply regulations were the same for all electricity suppliers (so all supplies had to compete on an equal basis).

    Neither of these is true and, therefore, your conclusion is not true.

    Richard

  80. We should just build some large (really large) solar powered fans a few hundred yards behind the wind farms. When the power demand outpaces the wind generated electricity,the solar fans kick in and supply the wind necessary to move the turbines,and presto,all the electricity we could ever want.

    No need to thank me,just send some grant money my way.
    .

  81. Thomas Sowell,

    This is almost completely untrue. At lower output, a power plant may have a slightly reduced thermal efficiency, but it may also increase, depending on the type of plant.

    Please get a degree in mechanical engineering. Every thermal engine ever built has an ‘optimal efficiency’ operating range. There are also issues related to plant maintenance costs and shortened life expectancy caused by ‘cycling’.

    You also conveniently ignore why ‘peak power’ is so expensive. Fuel isn’t the dominant cost. The dominant cost is that there are billions of dollars of investment in generating assets that only occasionally get used, adding wind to the grid reduces the utilization rate..which causes ‘peak power’ to be even more expensive because those assets get used even less.

    John Q Public ends up paying for ‘total system cost’…not just ‘fuel cost’.

  82. Rob Dekker
    For example, you could charge your electric vehicle when the price is low, and discharge it to the grid if the price is high. That way, you make money just having your electric vehicle parked and plugged in.

    Peak power rates occur at about 3 PM – 6 PM in the US. Mr Electric Vehicle Owners car is plugged in at the office charging at 3 PM because he wants to make sure he has a ‘full charge’ to get home. He’s not going to let the grid borrow his charge leaving him ‘stranded at work’ until the ‘peak power period’ subsides. I witness it every day at the office.

  83. A reminder that wind energy is a good idea in some places, such as Pakistan:

    http://cleantechnica.com/2012/08/10/143000-mw-of-solar-and-wind-for-pakistan/

    Obviously, they are not going to install 25,000 MW of wind-powered electricity in 3 years, but Pakistan is one of the places where fossil fuel is expensive and unreliable. Costs of wind power are being reduced, but it’s doubtful that fossil fuel costs will decline.

    “All of the above” is the right strategy for developing energy, imo. It’s a shame that we here in California have made it illegal to develop more of our fossil fuel resources. As an aside, we in S.C, maybe about 2 million of us, suffered a power outage lasting about half a day last spring when there was a mistake made at a facility near Yuma. One of my neighbors ran his gas-powered generator, but most of us simply got by without the electricity until it was restored.

  84. harrywr2: Peak power rates occur at about 3 PM – 6 PM in the US. In fact, the CAISO graph shows power consumption at 90% of peak from 1pm to 9pm, approximately, with the peak at 5. So your point is actually stronger than you made it.

  85. 3pm, just as power needs are going up, solar is going down.
    So much for the mythology of solar as “peak” power.

  86. “Matthew R Marler says: August 10, 2012 at 9:45 am
    “Pipes in the cooling system had to be replaced due to wear; then the replacement pipes had to be replaced. You really would not want those pipes to fail during operation. Eventually the pipes will be fully repaired, and the plants will be up and running again.”

    You are telling me there was no redundant system to keep the plant running during the replacement? I suppose if the pipes were in the “dirty” side of the loop they may have to shut down. Sounds like the excuse Enron gave to shut down a base load plant during 2000.
    ————————————————————————————
    Heat exchangers in power plants are not redundant for the same reason your car doesn’t have a redundant engine. They are not safety critical, and they almost never fail, and they are expensive. Therefore the economics argues against redundant heat exchangers (or turbines, etc). This particular design was new and different and the manufacturer, Mitsubishi, is working with the owner of the power plant and the NRC to get it back online ASAP.

    http://djysrv.blogspot.com/2012/08/no-restart-date-yet-for-songs-reactors.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+blogspot%2FYiuo+%28Idaho+Samizdat%29

  87. Sorry, the quote above got cut off, It was from; Steve Fletcher says:
    August 10, 2012 at 11:48 am
    responding to Mr Marler

  88. Thrus and Friday of this week were both Flex Alert days (no reference at the CASIO website of an alert today).

    I assume that PG&E called for an official “Smart Day” demand response from the residential market.

    “The catch is that customers must be mindful of saving energy on up to 15 “SmartDays” called each season when exceptionally hot weather drives up electricity use and the cost of power on the wholesale market. On those few days, from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m., the price that PG&E charges jumps by 60 cents per kilowatt-hour.” http://www.pgecurrents.com/2012/06/21/smartrate-time-to-take-the-plunge/

    On my end our little PV system sent back to the grid 6 kwh on Thursday at peak times and 5 kwh on Friday. The ramp up of temperature has been occurring earlier in the day each day this week at my location. Thank goodness we get a slight breeze coming down from the mountains just before the sun is fully up on the horizon.

  89. Dan in California:

    Thankyou for your post at August 11, 2012 at 12:21 pm.

    That is good and useful information. If you have more and similar then please post it so others can share that, too.

    Richard

  90. Roger Sowell says:
    August 11, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    Tube vibrations wore thin spots and allowed radioactive steam to escape into the atmosphere.
    The leaks were on the radioactive part of the heat exchanger

    http://www.nrc.gov/info-finder/reactor/songs/tube-degradation.html

    The estimated leak rate was 75 gallons per day, which is less than .06 gallons per minute. The Plant Operating License allows full- power operation with a steady leak rate of less than 150 gallons per day.

    The licensee reviewed the amount released and estimated it was much less than is permitted by the plant operating license. NRC inspectors independently reviewed the release data and verified the licensee’s findings. The release posed no threat to the public or the workers onsite.

    The licensee determined that there was a high probability of several Unit 3 steam generator tubes failing the in-situ pressure test. In-situ testing was conducted from March 13 to March 20, 2012. The licensee accurately ranked each tube according to the probability of failure, and the top eight tubes with the highest probability of failure did fail the pressure test. All other tubes passed, and all of the failures occurred on the 3E088 steam generator. The leaking tube was one of the tubes that failed the pressure test.

    SONGS Unit #3 has two steam generators with 9,727 tubes each.

    http://www.nrc.gov/info-finder/reactor/songs/songs-unit-3-steam-generator-tube-wear-data.pdf

  91. Perhaps it’s been said and I missed it but, were the gas and nuke plants offline for “Green” reasons?
    I can understand that making a “Green” decision can feel good. Maybe sometimes even be good. But when “feeling good” about an energy grid is the primary goal the end result is, well, we all know the end result of “cow meets Green”.

  92. Gunga Din:

    I suspected harrywr2 would answer the question you ask at August 11, 2012 at 6:57 pm. He has not so I write to answer it.

    Your question is

    were the gas and nuke plants offline for “Green” reasons?

    I answer,
    “Green reasons” did not induce the plant to go offline
    but
    “Green reasons” have induced the need for the flex alerts.

    I explain this answer as follows.

    The steam generator tubes in a nuclear power station are exposed to heat and radiations from the controlled nuclear reaction. The heat boils the water in the tubes and the radiations slowly degrade the material of the tubes.

    The degradation of the tube material is monitored, and when the degradation becomes too great then the tubes are replaced (as harrywr2 explains at August 11, 2012 at 5:44 pm). A power station must be shut-down for conduct of the tube replacement. And this replacement is normal maintenance which is accounted as part of the economic planning conducted before the power station is financed and built. However, all such maintenance requires that power stations stop operating.

    Most maintenance is scheduled, but the shut-down for tube replacement is not precisely scheduled because it cannot be known when the degradation of tube material will become discernible.

    The grid system is constructed such that the system does not fail (i.e. does not provide power cuts) when power stations shut-down for maintenance.

    Importantly, the system requires sufficient ‘spare capacity’ such that loss of a power station does not provide power cuts. And the system is constructed with such sufficient ‘spare capacity’.

    However, as I explain in my post at August 11, 2012 at 1:20 am, addition of wind power to the system increases the need for ‘spare capacity’. And California has added wind power to its grid supply system. So, when the expected but unscheduled maintenance of the nuclear power station was needed then the ‘flex alerts’ were needed. As I said

    So, large addition of wind power to the grid supply without construction and operation of additional spare capacity provides severe risk of supply failures in the event of the failure of a power station or the transmission lines from it. This is the Californian situation which has required the reported “flex alert”. As the article says, Californian electricity consumers have been asked to reduce their electricity demand. Lower need for electricity supply provides reduced need for the additional spare capacity which California lacks because of California’s use of wind power.

    Richard

  93. harrywr2 said: “Montana is on the BPA/PNW power grid. The Cut Bank Windfarm is tied into the Hungry Horse Dam which is tied into the Grand Coulee Dam which in turn is tied into the John Day Dam where the Pacific DC Intertie is located.”

    So Harry, does even a single electron make it from a windmill in Montana to a toaster in San Diego? If not, how is this not a shell game? Some San Diegan is paying for “green energy” from Montana while receiving who-knows-what kind of energy from a nearby generator.

  94. @richardscourtney re radiation causing leaks in tubes.

    Absolutely false. Where do you get such false information?

    The tubes were thinned due to rubbing against tube supports, induced by unexpected tube vibrations.

  95. Roger Sowell:

    I am getting fed up with your pro-wind propaganda which spouts total nonsense while pretending that those who understand your falsehoods are ignorant. The latest example of this behaviour is your post at August 12, 2012 at 7:47 am which says in total

    @richardscourtney re radiation causing leaks in tubes.

    Absolutely false. Where do you get such false information?

    The tubes were thinned due to rubbing against tube supports, induced by unexpected tube vibrations.

    My correct information is basic material science and is known to all material scientists. I admit that I simplified because I was posting on a blog. But what I wrote is correct.

    Read this paper from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) which is available at

    http://www.iaea.org/Publications/Magazines/Bulletin/Bull043/04305001518.pdf

    It is titled
    RADIATION DAMAGE IN SOLIDS AND REACTOR MATERIALS
    and it begins by saying
    Hardly considered a separate area of science some 20 to 25 years ago, solid state physics has now become a vigorous and rapidly growing discipline.
    The reason for its great stimulation is that modern technology has placed increasingly drastic demands on materials. Nowhere perhaps is this trend more evident than in nuclear technology, where the novel demands for certain optimum combinations of physical properties have necessitated an almost complete r e examination of materials and their associated properties from both fundamental and technological points of view. One of the most important requirements imposed by this new application is an entirely new one, viz. radiation stability. In order for a material to be useful within a nuclear reactor it must be able to withstand not only high temperatures but also high fluxes of energetic nuclear radiation for prolonged periods.

    (my emphasis RSC)

    So, metals in nuclear reactors experience degradation directly from exposure to radiations.

    Then read the paper titled
    Eddy Current Signal Analysis Techniques for Assessing Degradation of Support Plate
    Structures in Nuclear Steam Generators
    By
    Laura OBRUTSKY, Robert CASSIDY, Miguel CAZAL, Ken SEDMAN, AECL CRL,
    Nucleoléctrica Argentina Sociedad Anónima, Bruce Power, Argentina
    It is available at

    http://www.ndt.net/article/ecndt2006/doc/Th.3.1.2.pdf

    Recent eddy current (ET) inspections of two nuclear power plants revealed
    degradation of some of the tube support plate (TSP) structures, which was also
    confirmed by visual inspection. The phenomena was described as metal loss, caused
    by flow-accelerated corrosion [FAC] of the carbon steel trefoil support plate and varying
    from minor to complete loss of the ligaments. This loss of TSP ligaments results in
    lack of support for the adjacent tubes making them more susceptible to fretting-wear
    damage and fatigue cracking.

    (my emphasis RSC)

    So, radiation exposure reduces the resistance to FAC of the metal supports for nuclear reactor steam tubes so the tubes become loose and suffer fretting-wear.

    And read the statement from the IAEA at

    http://www.iaea.org/NuclearPower/Engineering/CRP/FAC/

    which includes this
    All reactor types have experienced some type of FAC related events in their piping systems. Many utilities have started the analysis of pipe wall thinning phenomenon using the available large amount of measurement data from operating plants. Plants have had FAC campaigns implemented for many years, and even with a mature and established FAC approach, events continue to occur.
    (my emphasis RSC)

    Their “piping systems” include their tube supports.

    And read this statement from the Argonne National Laboratory concerning corrosion and mechanical degradation in pressurised water reactor (PWR) nuclear power stations in the item at

    http://www.ne.anl.gov/capabilities/cmm/highlights/sgt_integrity_program.html

    Steam generator tubes, which account for more than 50% of the primary pressure boundary surface of PWRs, have experienced in-service corrosive and mechanical degradation of various forms since the beginning of PWR commercial operation in the late 1950s. Various forms of degradation have resulted in the plugging of well over 100,000 tubes to date around the world. In addition, 68 steam generators in 22 U.S. plants had been replaced by the end of 1998 at a cost of about $100 to $200 million each, and more replacements are underway or planned.

    In summation, the tubes thinned because of the common experience in PWRs that radiation damage loosened the supports in the steam generating piping system with resulting fretting-wear inducing the thinning of the tubes.

    In my simple explanation of this immense subject I stated

    The steam generator tubes in a nuclear power station are exposed to heat and radiations from the controlled nuclear reaction. The heat boils the water in the tubes and the radiations slowly degrade the material of the tubes.

    I do not consider that statement to be “absolutely false”. Indeed, I consider it to be clear and accurate as a simple explanation for non-material scientists who read a blog. (Of course, I would provide much more information and detail of this complex subject if I were writing a university course unit).

    Richard

  96. eric1skeptic says:
    August 12, 2012 at 7:13 am

    So Harry, does even a single electron make it from a windmill in Montana to a toaster in San Diego? If not, how is this not a shell game? Some San Diegan is paying for “green energy” from Montana while receiving who-knows-what kind of energy from a nearby generator.

    It has always been a shell game.

    Most of the windmills in Washington and Oregon are congregated near the Pacific DC Intertie.

    So a strong case can be made that the Wind Power from Washington and Oregon is being exported directly to Californians until we look at the fact that Washington and Oregon are importing coal power from Montana, Northern Wyoming and Northern Nevada. Simple fix…put up windmills in Montana and Wyoming at Californian Electric Utility Payer expense.

    San Diego Gas and Electric is the party paying for the windmills in Montana.

    http://billingsgazette.com/news/state-and-regional/montana/naturener-gets-m-loan-for-wind-farm-near-cut-bank/article_1e8ee8f8-3bda-11e1-9be5-001871e3ce6c.html

    And here we go…a delegation from Wyoming(home of 40% of US coal production) recently visited California in an effort help themselves to some of California’s ‘Green’ money.

    http://billingsgazette.com/news/state-and-regional/wyoming/wyoming-seeks-california-colorado-wind-power-buyers/article_309de46f-af42-5d7b-980c-5bb2421de736.html

  97. When high pressure areas park themselves, the area below heats up and wind usually falls off to unnoticeable at the center. Why should California’s experience with wind power be such a surprise. When it is needed most, wind power will generally be unavailable.

    Wind power must be backed up by at least 90% as the Germans have learned from their experience. So, California has the answer: Hope the already strained backup systems stay on line, don’t build any new backup capacity, and pray for wind and Sun. It is laughable yet sad.

  98. Roger Sowell says:
    August 10, 2012 at 5:34 am

    Regarding the demand and power shortage, the State does not consider wind power reliable so gas, nuclear, and large hydroelectric are required to meet peak load.

    Actually, some wind power was included in California’s 2012 On Peak Summer Analysis – It’s in Appendix D of this report –

    http://www.caiso.com/Documents/Briefing_SummerLoads_ResourcesOperationsPreparednessAssessment-Report-MAR2012.pdf

    The problem with the formula is that there isn’t good data on large blocking highs since they tend to be infrequent.

    California is lucky the Pacific Northwest Reservoir levels are high, because we don’t have any wind either but we still have plenty of hydro to spare.

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