New strategy for utilizing highly variable wind power

English: The , also known as the Green Mountai...

Green Mountain Energy Wind Farm (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From the American Institute of Physics

Using fluctuating wind power

Incorporating wind power into existing power grids is challenging because fluctuating wind speed and direction means turbines generate power inconsistently. Coupled with customers’ varying power demand, many wind-farm managers end up wasting power-generation capacity and limiting the service life of turbines through active control – including fully stopping turbines – in order to avoid any possible damage to the power grid from spikes in supply. In a paper published in the American Institute of Physics’ Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy, researchers propose a new strategy to optimize power-generation efficiency and so better control wind farms.

The new strategy is based on continuous predictions of how fluctuating winds affect each turbine’s maximum generation capacity. It also incorporates factors missing in other wind-farm control strategies, including differing power generation between turbines, actual fluctuations in power generation capacity, errors in prediction, communication disruptions preventing active control, and even turbines without the capacity for continuous active control. To demonstrate the feasibility of the new strategy, the researchers compared their predictions to raw data from a single wind turbine. The team then further refined their calculations and simulated a control operation with data from a wind farm of 33 turbines.

The results suggest that wind-farm managers can improve their power-generation efficiency with the new strategy. However, the researchers caution that before implementing the strategy, each wind-farm manager should adjust the underlying parameters – such as how often to adjust each turbine’s speed – based on local conditions.

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Article: “An Active Power Control Strategy for Wind Farm Based on Predictions of Wind Turbine’s Maximum Generation Capacity,” is published in the Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy.

Link: http://jrse.aip.org/resource/1/jrsebh/v5/i1/p013121_s1

Authors: Dewei Liu (1), Jianbo Guo (1), Yuehui Huang (1), Weisheng Wang (1)

(1) China Electric Power Research Institute

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127 thoughts on “New strategy for utilizing highly variable wind power

  1. Should be a piece of cake. Recycle the high velocity automated stock market trading programs. What could go wrong?

  2. “To demonstrate the feasibility of the new strategy, the researchers compared their predictions to raw data from a single wind turbine. The team then further refined their calculations and simulated a control operation with data from a wind farm of 33 turbines.”

    so they never actually USED their strategy on turbines in the real world …

    did you post this as a joke ?

  3. Which part of this ‘new strategy’ deals with creating the right wind speed , for without that they got nothing ?

  4. Why don’t they just ground out the turbines with a variable control on the current flow to ground and keep the current flow to the grid from spiking by sending the spikes to ground?

  5. Don’t these shysters get it. No wind no power- little wind = trickle power. Meanwhile back at the power (back up) station LOTS of power.
    When will this madness end maybe at 97cents /kwh????

  6. on (e.g.) 19/03 at 19.00hr, Elia, the Belgian transmission systems operator, predicted wind generation of 52.88 Mw on a total monitored capacity of 930.65 Mw … (now I must say that 99% of the time their predictions are quite accurate, and as should be the case, too optimistic … but …)

    Actual generation turned out to be 21.80 Mw

    I don’t see how a better (forecasting) strategy can make that 21.81 Mw

  7. Whatever is done to try and improve the efficiency of wind turbines it will never remove the fact that they require conventional power running on standby at all times. As a result there is no reduction in CO2 emissions from deploying wind turbines – unless of course the back-up is nuclear but then why would you want wind turbines in the first place?

  8. Since one cannot make a turbine produce more energy than is available in the wind, then any control strategy must rely on lowering a turbine’s potential to smooth out production. It is possible to make a wind farm’s production perfectly flat and consistent. Simply turn them all off. Since the goal is to produce some power, then it becomes a matter of balancing the reduction in maximum wind farm output with the amount of inconsistent power that can be tolerated by the grid. Sure, some high tech strategy may help, probably by a few percent at best. However, the main problem, economical storage of surplus energy, remains unsolved. Then of course, there are all of those dead bald eagles and bats to worry about. On the bright side, any strategy that call for slowing down turbines in the name of grid stability should at least result in fewer bird fatalities.

  9. Without any quantification at all (or at least apparently not short of what may exist behind the paywall), there is not much to say.

    Actually, nominally unreliable renewables, like solar power as well as wind power, could be made reliable by a global superconducting power transmission grid, for fairly stable power generation 24 hours a day 365 days a year regardless of local weather variation, like we could send power to China during our day and the other way around during theirs.

    Generation from such would still need to be cheaper, though. Places like California may have greatly overpriced residential rates (like Anthony Watts mentioned up to $0.93/kWh at times during the summer in his locale), but, generally at the industrial scale, the present and proper price of electricity is not more than around $0.05/kWh.

    If solar power did eventually become as cheap as fossil fuel for electricity in some future decade (though it is far from so now) and if long-distance superconducting power transmission made it reliable, I bet many of the activists presently supporting it would switch to opposition, from having supported it precisely because it was overly expensive and hence an excuse to pretend energy conservation cutbacks were unavoidable and necessary.

  10. Why should it take so long time to realize that.
    Imagine you set up a power plant of 300MW capacity (like a larger windfarm), then all would concider it should need some way of contol of the output. Nobody would allow it to operate at random power output, except when it is a wind farm.
    If wind farms should be a reliable part og our energi production, they would need to supply backup capacity or make deals with others to secure the same backup, so that you can count on a certain minimum capacity at all times.

  11. Use wind energy for pumped storage only. Less efficent but more predictable and easier on the grid I’d suspect. Do they use this any where else? Do any wind farms employ compressed air storage?

  12. These windmills can produce near 8 gig of power I might add (notice when they did run them they were getting 4 gig of power) (sorry for the spelling, it makes me made every time I see this)

  13. It would be intersting to hear how their strategy will cope with a long term high pressure zone lying over the area. I suppose they could draw power from the grid to drive one turbine to create wind to drive its neighbour?

    That should work, shouldn’t it? Free energy.

    When will they realize that the fundamental problem with wind power is that it cannot produce power when it is required. Over production when it is not required is irrelevant. It may trash the turbine, but that is irrelevant to the grid.

  14. Most of it is waster power when the grid cannot accept it so use it for something. I suggest using it to make methane from atmospheric CO2 and water. Then you compress it using the same wind power. Each week, somebody comes out and takes away the compressed gas for use.
    OR, you use the windmill to fractionally distill air resulting in storage of the very expensive Xe.

  15. Band-aids that can’t address basic physical facts — low energy density & unreliability. Prettied-up 19th century technology.

  16. How about putting a ginormous flywheel on each one or use lead blades or something? Yeah, I can fix that!

  17. I have an idea – make all wind farms virtual wind farms, model the predicted output, and pay the operators in virtual money. We can then generate all the worlds needs using virtual power, and the climate modellers can predict a virtual benefit. They can all be happy and leave the rest of us alone in the real world.

  18. While there may be strategies to enable wind operators to squeeze a few more megawatthours out of their machines, the central deficiency with wind power remains : it’s uncontrollable, and that means it’s worth only a fraction of power that can be produced on demand. Uncontrollable power, no matter how it’s generated, is simply not of very much value, since it introduces side effect costs (which wind enthusiasts NEVER acknowledge or figure into their cost estimates). California is building very expensive pumped storage to allow more wind and solar to be used, but that method extracts a 30% penalty thru losses and the storage facilities cost nearly as much as a nuclear power plant of equal capacity. Of course the pumped facility can only provide 10 to 15 hours worth of power, so if the wind dies for more than a day or two, fossil fuel generation will have to make up the loss.

  19. I recall last year when there was a failure at a coal/gas powered station in California there was the usual hue and cry about wind power. However, stopping to look at the facts posted in that article one can see that the data posted by whatever the power authority down there is called, one finds that the sum of wind and solar was almost constant.

    I’ll try to find that WUWT post.

    The best strategy would seem to be to combine wind and solar since the two are fairly complementary in meteorological terms.

    No surprise to the number of (very) small scale off-grid people I know that find , even on a mirco generation scale they get one or the other.

  20. DBO says:
    March 25, 2013 at 1:10 pm

    Most of it is waster power when the grid cannot accept it so use it for something…”
    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
    Good idea.
    How about grinding flour?
    Tried and tested.

  21. Coincidentally, I’ve been doing some calculations recently regarding wind efficiency, and posted the results yesterday, on my blog:

    http://dereksorensen.com/?p=124

    I’d be gratful for anyone more knowledgeable than me to check my assumptions/calculations because quite frankly I can’t believe the results, which seem to indicate that to guarantee 8.5Gw of power 24/7 from wind would require more than 960,000 square kilometers – almost four times the land area of the United Kingdom.

    (If 8.5Gw seems a little arbitrary, it’s the currently claimed capacity for wind in the UK)

  22. Why don’t we just use wind for pumping water uphill? The only viable way to deal with the fluctuations is to ‘smooth’ it out–and re-adding water to a reservoir does that. Efficient? Certainly not, but neither are back-up generators–which is how this should be viewed.

  23. The solution is quite simple.

    1) At any given time on Earth, some wind farms are experiencing sufficient wind to power thier turbines and generate electricity.

    2) Other wind farms are in the doldrums, and lack wind.

    3) The solution is to erect electrically-powered fans at all wind farms such that they can be turned on when there is not sufficient natural wind.

    4) Power those fans by connecting them to the output of remote wind farms that do have sufficient wind.

    5) Problem solved.

    Ira Glickstein

  24. Greg said:

    “I have an idea – make all wind farms virtual wind farms, model the predicted output, and pay the operators in virtual money. We can then generate all the worlds needs using virtual power, and the climate modellers can predict a virtual benefit. ”

    I thought that’s what we have now.

  25. This would seem to be a fairly minor point in the economical operation of a windmill farm from what I understand. The unexpected high cost of maintenance of wind mills is what is driving profitability (or lack thereof).

  26. “The results suggest that wind-farm managers can improve their power-generation efficiency with the new strategy.”
    “Improve” to generate a more stable power output, or “improve” to maximize the subsidies reaped?

    Oh well, 1) was never an objective for them, so I guess it’s 2).

  27. It is amazing this realization took so long. I used to be the risk manager of a large utility that also was the largest owner of wind generation in the American hemisphere (don’t know if they still are.) We realized about 12 years ago what they are saying in this article. Many don’t realize that these turbines are also stopped when there is TOO MUCH wind. But the challenge is… when do you take the brakes off? Five minutes? Fifteen? Most of these turbines came from Europe and the software which would shut them on and off was written for LOCAL EUROPEAN wind patterns. What a BIG surprise they are not suited to our local patterns.

  28. Bear in mind that power grids already have to deal with large changes in customer demand during the course of the day. In some cases the change from minimum to maximum daily usage can see demand double. Even without any wind power present, power grids already need (and have) the ability to scale generation up and down by bringing sources on-line and off-line. As noted in various studies including real-world examples, this means there is no need for additional “stand-by” generating reserves or power storage (nor the extra costs associated with these things) until wind power and other variable power sources account for about 10-20% of the total grid. That’s a long way off in North America.

    This study is one example of those efforts. It is far too early to write off wind power as a viable source of power generation.

  29. David Y says: Why don’t we just use wind for pumping water uphill?

    Well that’s what they need to do for nuclear to make it workable since it needs to be run flat-out 24/7 to be “profitable” even if there’s little demand,(not counting back door subsidies).

  30. Derek Sorensen says:
    March 25, 2013 at 1:32 pm
    “I’d be gratful for anyone more knowledgeable than me to check my assumptions/calculations because quite frankly I can’t believe the results, which seem to indicate that to guarantee 8.5Gw of power 24/7 from wind would require more than 960,000 square kilometers – almost four times the land area of the United Kingdom.”

    Sounds a little too small, given that large blocking highs can turn half a continent into a region without wind for days on end. (I’m not joking. Basically any GUARANTEE with wind power only would only be achievable with a huge and ridiculously oversized system. Wind CAN’t guarantee anything, just like pigs can’t fly.)

  31. bwdave says:
    Greg said: “I have an idea – …”

    Dave, if you want to make some spurious comment , do it in your own name don’t lie about what I have said.

  32. In re Henry Clark’s superconducting grid; has anyone done a cost/benefit analysis, an analysis better than the investment schemes financing windmills and ‘needles’?

    Don Quixote and his squire Sancho PONZI [sic erat scriptum] sanchismos come to mind.

    Al buen callar llaman Sancho. Literal translation: The good silence is called Sancho. Meaning/use: Recommends prudence and moderation in talk.

    Cada buhonero alaba sus agujas. Literal translation: A peddler praises his needles (wares). Meanings/uses: Each seller tries to convince potential buyers that his merchandise is the best. In a broader sense, people tend to praise what is theirs, often overstating qualities. Used ironically to criticize a person who boasts about his merits.

    Cada gallo canta en su muladar. Literal translation: Each rooster sings on its dung-heap.
    Meanings/uses: Each person rules in his own house or territory. A person manifests his true nature when surrounded by family or close friends, when in his own ambience and in his place of origin.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_proverbs

  33. How about using excess wind power to store water at a high reservoir for Pumped-storage hydroelectricity when the wind doesn’t blow:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pumped-storage_hydroelectricity

    “A new concept is to use wind turbines or solar power to drive water pumps directly, in effect an ‘Energy Storing Wind or Solar Dam’. This could provide a more efficient process and usefully smooth out the variability of energy captured from the wind or sun”
    Just a thought – probably too expensive. Any thoughts on this?

  34. Greg says:
    March 25, 2013 at 1:52 pm
    “David Y says: Why don’t we just use wind for pumping water uphill?

    Well that’s what they need to do for nuclear to make it workable since it needs to be run flat-out 24/7 to be “profitable” even if there’s little demand,(not counting back door subsidies).”

    NOBODY builds a nuke where there’s little demand, Greg. Nobody.

  35. Dub: ” Most of these turbines came from Europe and the software which would shut them on and off was written for LOCAL EUROPEAN wind patterns. What a BIG surprise they are not suited to our local patterns.”

    Presumably as “risk manager” you would quickly have realised that software is called “soft” because it can quickly and easily changed. How, as “risk manager”, did you get on with reducing the risk by having it reprogrammed to fit local wind patterns?

  36. Greg says:
    March 25, 2013 at 1:48 pm
    “Yesterdays production. Looks like wind power peak it pretty well aligned to peak demand. Solar provides a good production to fill the daytime plateau when wind is typically low.
    Looks they they have some engineers designing all this, not green eared monkeys.”

    The primary purpose of solar cells and wind turbines is earning subsidies, not producing energy. Whether or not they produce when the other source does not produce does not affect the subsidies reaped, and is never considered in the investment decisions.

    Show me one piece of evidence that your alleged “engineers” have carefully chosen to design a combination of solar and wind to achieve a stable output.

    It doesn’t happen. One investor builds a windfarm. Another erects a few hectares of solar panels. Each one tries to maximize the subsidies he earns. That’s all.

  37. Greg says:
    March 25, 2013 at 1:28 pm
    “The best strategy would seem to be to combine wind and solar since the two are fairly complementary in meteorological terms. ”

    And abandon countries that can have blocking highs in Winter, as they would have lengthy periods without electricity. Like, Western Europe.

  38. Mike M says:
    “March 25, 2013 at 1:12 pm
    How about putting a ginormous flywheel on each one or use lead blades or something? Yeah, I can fix that”!

    Don’t be silly. Lead is toxic. However gold is plenty heavy, and we have tons of gold sitting in bank vaults collecting dust. As an added bonus, there would be an incentive to clean up the mess when the windmill self destructs.

  39. Being a part time resident of Wyoming where they have serious wind, I’d like to see it used for something and that something is probably NOT going to be for electricity production. So, make Methane because we do have an infrastructure for methane transport.
    There is a company that makes flywheel energy storage and I looked into it because it would be a game changer for wind power. Unfortunately, the amount of stored power/unit is small.
    The best use for wind power is to power oil well pump units for stripper wells (Wells that produce less than 10 barrels/day) because it would make 1 barell/day wells profitable again. AND, I like the irony.

  40. Derek Sorensen says:

    Coincidentally, I’ve been doing some calculations recently regarding wind efficiency, and posted the results yesterday, on my blog:

    http://dereksorensen.com/?p=124

    I’d be gratful for anyone more knowledgeable than me to check my assumptions/calculations because quite frankly I can’t believe the results, which seem to indicate that to guarantee 8.5Gw of power 24/7 from wind would require more than 960,000 square kilometers – almost four times the land area of the United Kingdom.

    ===

    Well the assumptions that need to be looked at are why would you need to produce a flat rate output 24/7 when demand is not 24/7 constant?

    The other thing, as in my earlier comments, it that solar is generally inverse of wind. Wind/sun ratio is considerably higher for countries like UK of course. I like sun more than wind, so I left.

    There are massive hydraulic storage systems in the Scottish highlands that were build to store overnight overproduction from nukes. Same principal can be used to store other energy sources that are not matched to demand.

    I have not checked your calcs but I think your assumptions make that unnecessary.

    Always worth doing that kind of sanity check , back of envelop, but some more reflection would seem to be in order.

  41. Greg says:
    March 25, 2013 at 1:17 pm

    I have an idea – make all wind farms virtual wind farms, model the predicted output, and pay the operators in virtual money. We can then generate all the worlds needs using virtual power, and the climate modellers can predict a virtual benefit. They can all be happy and leave the rest of us alone in the real world.
    __________________________________________________________________________
    They do that already – it is called Sim City.

    On another note I have a very whacky idea. Build a generator backup at the windfarm which can smooth the output at the windfarm itself. The backup can be the windfarm operators pedalling bicycles generators.
    That should work /sarc

  42. Petrossa says:
    March 25, 2013 at 12:20 pm
    So yet another extremely complex non-solution bound to fail. Just give up already

    Yup. Too complicated by half. An interesting exercise for when we go to Mars or Titan and everything has to be fully automated and self-correcting. But economics doesn’t come into things at that point, because you are creating a survival situation, and all the “profits” are sometime in the future. If you make it until then.

  43. Derk: NOBODY builds a nuke where there’s little demand, Greg. Nobody.

    It’s not “where” it’s “when”. Try to keep up.

    Derk: “Show me one piece of evidence that your alleged “engineers” have carefully chosen to design a combination of solar and wind to achieve a stable output.”

    Well, may be they just got lucky and it designed itself.

  44. Kim 2000 your second link set off my work firewall under the category of “Pornography”. Thanks.

  45. Anthony, there are a few other market ‘tricks’ underway in this new strategy. I have a piece ready to be published at another place and will post a link to it in tips and notes upon publication.

    john from DB

  46. For a somewhat cynical view of “wind power”, one might read the novel “Cold Wind” by CJ Box who writes novels about a Wyoming game warden who gets involved in all sorts of nefarious resource schemes. Of course, his view is that “Wind Power” has little to do with producing electricity.
    Now, I think that even though advocates of wind power are mostly technical illiterates who go on “feelings” more than reason, we can manipulate their feelings for the common good. We promise to double wind power BUT, because it is unreliable, we have to keep the old coal and old nuke plants online although operating at lower capacity but capable of quickly coming up to produce what the wind is NOT producing. They get the warm fuzzies of having wind power and we get a reliable power grid with coal and nukes usign existing plants.

  47. The criticisms of wind power almost all assume direct connection to the grid. So does the paper above. Why is direct connection (as opposed to buffered connection) a necessary assumption to this debate? Yes, a buffered connection will be somewhat less efficient. arthur4563 estimates a 30% penalty above. So what? How to accomplish it and how much that value can be improved are engineering questions, not challenges to the underlying science (or politics).

    Several commentors above have already proposed a few of the buffering options. Flywheels (theoretically feasible though not be my pick for safety reasons), chemical batteries (heavy metals), a superconducting distribution grid (ideal but so far more science fiction than technological fact) and water. That last deserves more attention and perhaps even some deference from the list here. It is, after all, an established practice. See, for example, Kinzua Dam and the Seneca Pumped Storage Generating Station. (The local Park Service claims that they were the first such facility though they are by no means the largest.) The solution is not (merely) to regulate supply but also to regulate demand by using your own buffering operations as part of the consumption pattern.

    The approach has some advantages. It takes a lot less time to turn on a pump than to spin up a standby generator. With the right pumps, well, you might not be able to consume unlimited “excess generation” but you could consume an awful lot of it and have very fine control over how much you need to consume at a time. And there is no requirement to co-locate the windfarm and pumped storage facilities – they just have to be within reasonable connection to your grid.

    Or maybe there’s a better buffering mechanism. My point is that we should not be skeptical to the point of becoming reflexively contrarian. The proper role of a skeptic is to give your opposition the benefit of doubt and then show that they are still wrong. Criticisms of wind power should assume the best power-buffering system we can reasonably design and show why it’s not cost-effective even then (or, more accurately, to show under what conditions it can be cost-effective and when it can’t). Simple criticisms that unnecessarily assume unbuffered connection to the grid don’t advance the debate.

  48. I have a different idea that actually takes advantage of fluctuating supply. First, imagine your home is completely “off grid” and is powered by a battery pack with sufficient power to provide 24 hours of an average day’s use. Now lets say that battery pack is connected via a smart charging controller to the grid. Lets also say that the grid transmits the current cost of power at frequent intervals, lets say every 60 seconds. When power is more plentiful, the cost is lower, when power consumption rises and begins to reach capacity, the cost increases.

    What this does is de-couples your time of use of energy from the time you consume it from the grid and allows you to buy power when it is cheap and use it when it is more expensive. Let’s say you want to shift all of your grid consumption to the late night hours unless the price drops below some amount. If a surge of wind power comes along, the utility can lower the announced price of electricity and the individual homes will increase consumption automatically. If we have a day when power consumption is high and nearing the limits of grid capacity, the price goes up and these homes disconnect themselves from the grid and use the power they bought the night before. Maybe if the price is VERY low (lower than the average cost of the power you currently have stored) you run your house completely off the grid even if the battery is charged fully (late at night AND a lot of wind available). This would be particularly effective for offices that operate 24×7.

    If there should be a complete grid outage, one would have power stored to make it through a brief loss without even noticing and in areas where natural gas is available, maybe a natural gas generator kicks in to charge your batteries if they get drained very low.

    None of what I wrote above requires “new” technology. I would use AGM batteries. They are very safe, don’t spill, don’t leak, etc.

  49. Leo Geiger says March 25, 2013 at 1:51 pm

    Bear in mind that power grids already have to deal with large changes in customer demand during the course of the day. In some cases the change from minimum to maximum daily usage can see demand double. Even without any wind power present, power grids already need (and have) the ability to scale generation up and down ,,,

    THOSE CHANGES (in demand) are:

    1) much more gradual than ‘waves of wind’ can and will be (consider frontal passage for instance, or ‘outflow’ from a T-storm miles away even, remember, too, in an active power system DEMAND and GENERATION must match or frequency and voltage move around to the point of possibly becoming UNSTABLE)

    2) that demand is statistically PREDICTABLE over the course of a day.

    For instance, on this chart on the ERCOT (state of Texas’ ISO) webpage note how the *actual* demand consumption pretty well follows the *predicted* demand consumption:

    http://www.ercot.com/

    One can PLAN FOR the amount of generation to bring ON LINE during the course of a day as demand grows, with wind it can be a whole ‘nother ball game.

    .

  50. I simply love the physics behind pepetual wind power generation which will work as soon as the ether supporting the radio waves clears a bit from all that CO2.

  51. Many posters are suggesting pumped storage to ‘smooth-out” wind power production. Well, it is being done, but can only be done for a small portion because the volume is too small. If you look at UK power production sites (there was a great link here a few days ago that I have lost – can someone re-post it?), it showed that there is just 1GW available.

    I remember a paper reviewed here a couple of years ago by a physics prof in the UK (no skeptic, if I remember correctly) who calculated that to reach the UK gov’s wind power estimate would mean thousands of pumped storage facilities, covering almost every hill in the UK. I think he even pointed out that the concrete needed to make these facilities would release more CO2 than the wind power would save for quite a few years as well. Once again, the “solution” turns out to have a higher cost than the “problem”.

  52. “American Institute of Physics’ Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy,”

    That pretty much says it all. Engineers they are not. The name of the journal is further proof of the underlying reason some prominent physicists quit the organization. What is a once prestigious organization like this doing mixing with no-nothing green world-order changers. Give a power engineer the (virtual) “idea” and he will tell you whether you’ve got something or not, Making windmills work better to match the grid is to cut their output even lower than it is now. There is no way to make it greater and certainly no way to make it cheaper and even no way to make it “sustainable” whatever doctrinaire definition of this you have in mind. If you want sustainability, go for a modern designed nuclear plant. There have been remarkably few accidents, even though most of them were designed half a century ago. A modern one would be much lower risk. Or what could be more sustainable than clean coal or natural gas sources – your cooked up CO2 problem is about to take a terminal dive. Rant over.

  53. So just what the hell did they just say was new about their new strategy. So they will generate power when the wind blows, and if it doesn’t, then they won’t; and what’s with this adjust the speed thing ??

    Lemme guess, this is some fuzzy logic thing right ?, all assembled out of “maybe” gates.

    Do these genii realize how much simpler it is to just turn up the gas, or send some more water flowing through the turbine, when you want more electricity.

  54. http://transmission.bpa.gov/business/operations/wind/baltwg.aspx

    You will see that the total generation is always greater than the total BPA load because most of the time BPA is a net exporter of energy. The BPA Load does not include scheduled energy to other balancing authority areas.

    That is another solution to load / demand matching: export to neighbouring authorities.

    France exports nuke to Germany at night while remaining an net importer of electricity.

    These issue are not new and are not restricted to renewables.

  55. A quick update – there are two pumped storage facilities in the UK, one commissioned in 1966 in Scotland with a max power of 440 MW and one in north Wales with a max power of 1,770 MW and that was commissioned in 1983 (I remember a school trip there as youngster while it was being built). The fact that no more have been built during the wind farm era suggests either that they are not all that efficient or useful – or that someone made a big boo-boo!

  56. Put a baby thorium reactor at each site. Cant thorium can be ramped up and down or turned off quickly unlike plutonium?

  57. _Jim says March 25, 2013 at 2:45 pm

    “THOSE CHANGES (in demand) are:
    1) much more gradual than ‘waves of wind’…”

    That will depend on the spatial extent and number of wind turbines in a grid.

    “2) that demand is statistically PREDICTABLE over the course of a day.”

    Weather can be forecast.

    The point is that the devil is in the details. It might work in some places and not in others. There is a tendency by some, however, to dwell on the situations where it may be problematic, or assume all problems are universal and insurmountable, while ignoring other evidence.

  58. The worst instance of this problem of which I know is the Pacific NW, where we have to spill water from the giant Columbia River hydrodams to accommodate the wind power surges. The windmills require massive taxpayer subsidies, kill birds & bats that eat the insects which eat our wheat, need massive amounts of CO2 productive concrete, coal-fired plant backups & cause us to lose real renewable power through the dams. A program only socialists could love.

  59. Greg, thanks for this:

    Greg says:
    March 25, 2013 at 2:15 pm

    Well the assumptions that need to be looked at are why would you need to produce a flat rate output 24/7 when demand is not 24/7 constant?

    That’s understood, however although demand is (fairly) predictable, supply isn’t.

    You might like to take a look at the data raw. The CSV downloadable from gridwatch tracks demand and supply from all sources. I was only interested in wind generation, but there is also data for pumped storage, hydro, coal, imported etc.

    Gridwatch: http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/

    The other thing, as in my earlier comments, it that solar is generally inverse of wind. Wind/sun ratio is considerably higher for countries like UK of course. I like sun more than wind, so I left.

    I’m not sure that’s entirely true. We get very windy sunny days, and very calm overcast or rainy days. And in the UK we don’t really get all that much sun, which is, I suspect, why solar hasn’t really caught on over here.

    There are massive hydraulic storage systems in the Scottish highlands that were build to store overnight overproduction from nukes. Same principal can be used to store other energy sources that are not matched to demand.

    Wind generation fluctuates across a wide range (e.g. low of 6Mw to high of 5Gw) at all times of the day, and those low periods can last for days. Pumped storage will only fill in for so long before it’s exhausted.

    Having said that, pumped could mitigate some of the problem, assuming we can find enough sites; the trouble with such installations is that they tend to be only really practical in mountainous areas, most of which are areas of outstanding natural beauty and planning would (thankfully!) be a nightmare. Worth seeing if I can’t factor pumped storage in somehow though, so thanks for that.

  60. Greg says:
    March 25, 2013 at 2:58 pm
    “These issue are not new and are not restricted to renewables.”

    I beg to differ. As the output of renewables is arbitrary and by law not regulated (When the grid is close to meltdown the authorities BEG wind turbine owners to stop producing here in Germany; there is no law provision that could force them), you simply cannot apply whatever applies to a conventional power source to wind and solar. Therefore, entirely different issues.

  61. Mike Rossander says:
    March 25, 2013 at 2:43 pm
    “Several commentors above have already proposed a few of the buffering options. Flywheels (theoretically feasible though not be my pick for safety reasons), chemical batteries (heavy metals), a superconducting distribution grid (ideal but so far more science fiction than technological fact) and water. That last deserves more attention and perhaps even some deference from the list here. It is, after all, an established practice. See, for example, Kinzua Dam and the Seneca Pumped S
    torage Generating Station. ”

    More than you really wanted to know about how many pumped storage reservoirs a tiny nation like the UK would need to build to make it through a blocking high:

    http://www.withouthotair.com/

    Written by a warmist climate change advisor to the UK govt.
    Spoiler: A LOT.

  62. Greg says:
    March 25, 2013 at 2:31 pm
    “Interesting link. Where does it show anything being “turned off”?”

    Answer:
    I’m a paraglider and fly these sites, there is almost constant wind but, you have to java for this, here is the chart of the realtime winds from many of the wind farm locations, compare the the wind speed with the output and note that it’s windy as heck for most of them and there is zero generations. When I fly those sites, i get to swoop in and out of the blades because they are either feathered or locked, almost all the time (note, not a well written application, it may take a few tries, I actually use it to see if I want to go paragliding at these sites even when the turbines aren’t generating anything-works better in chrome than IE):

    Actually this is a great comparison, look at the wind animation and then look at the output, some of the sites are screaming and yet, zero output:

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

    v the realtime output

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

    Here’s a great example: in this vid, they are flying one of my favorite paragliding sites. Note all the windmills and note that they are all pointing different directions (because they are off) yet all these guys are flying paragliders right under them (notice there several hundred turbines on all the hills):

  63. DBO says:
    March 25, 2013 at 2:40 pm
    “We promise to double wind power BUT, because it is unreliable, we have to keep the old coal and old nuke plants online although operating at lower capacity but capable of quickly coming up to produce what the wind is NOT producing. They get the warm fuzzies of having wind power and we get a reliable power grid with coal and nukes usign existing plants.

    Nice plan. It is about what happens in Germany. It has the consequence that the peaker plants are needed only for very few operating hours. This renders them uneconomic, as they used to make their profit by selling during such peak hours for high marginal prices. As they are needed less and less – but during the few times they are needed they are VERY MUCH needed – they can no longer recoup their capital costs. EON considers shutting several gas peaker plants in Germany down.

    So as the energy market is totally rigged through the guarantee of always accepting arbitrarily high amounts of renewable energy, for fixed prices, more and more rigging is necessary to stem the tide of unintended consequences, and the system becomes more and more expensive. We’ll surely end up subsidizing the peaker plants as well to prevent the owners from shutting them down – and so you have all that power plant infrastructure sitting there waiting until it is needed.

    Environmentalism was always about consuming less yet forces us to double and triple the infrastructure, meaning more concrete, more electronics, more copper, more steel…

    This is the result of listening to idiots.

  64. great example in the video I posted at the 2:31 mark, this should be a poster for the folly of wind.

  65. Derek

    Way up thread you asked someone to check your calculations that providing the power you suggested would take up more land tan the UK has.

    I think you will find the answer in the link above ‘without hot air’.; It was written by Prof Mackay who is climate change adviser to DECC. I think he likened the land needed to Wales, but I do not know the power he suggested would be generated.

    tonyb

  66. The historical fact that sails were abandoned for even the very poor early steam engines for marine transport tells you all you need to know about wind power. Works fine on sailboats for fun, nothing serious.

  67. “including fully stopping turbines – in order to avoid any possible damage to the power grid from spikes in supply.”

    Forgive them for they know not what they do! With the darn things at best cranking out 10-15% of capacity and delivering less than 1 percent of grid demand you aren’t going to affect a sizeable spike in the grid. The grid already has to deal with this and even knows when it will occur. Interconnection with an unreliable source is a 24/7 headache for the grid. Anyway, spikes and valleys in demand are pretty much related to the clock – wind, not so much. I believe the only way to maximize output from windmills is to be able to store it in electrical storage – pumping water is too big a deal for an effective adjunct to a wind farm, unless you are pumping water back in behind an existing hydro dam in the vicinity.

  68. Greg said:

    The other thing, as in my earlier comments, it that solar is generally inverse of wind.
    ——————————————
    That may be true in some places, but it is utterly false for many others. As a previous poster said, blocking highs in winter in Europe can last for weeks, while the sky remains cloudy. In Australia, where I live, summer heatwaves and blasting westerly winds go together.

    When I read the head post, my first thought was “You mean they don’t do this already? How primitive are these operators, and why are they allowed anywhere near our precious power grids?” Imagine the outcry if a conventional power station was fired up and then everyone went home and just let it rip, irrespective of real demand and fluctuating outputs if something went wrong. That is pretty much what wind power does.

  69. Friends:

    I would appreciate an explanation of why anybody would want windfarms in the absence of subsidies.

    Wind farms exist to farm subsidies. They have no other purpose.

    They are expensive, polluting environmentally damaging bird swatters that cover the countryside in concrete for their foundations and roads to access them. And they produce no useful electricity at any time: they merely displace thermal power stations onto reduced output – which increases their fuel requirements and emissions – when the wind is sufficiently strong but not too strong for the windfarms to operate.

    (There may be some who fail to understand why producing less power increases fuel consumption by power stations. This is because a power station has an optimum efficiency. Reducing its output a little reduces its efficiency a lot, so it uses more fuel to generate less power. The effect is similar to driving a car at 5 mph in fifth gear: it can be done but it uses a lot of fuel.)

    Indeed, as the above article says, the electricity from windfarms is worse than useless because it disrupts the grid when it forces thermal power stations to operate less efficiently by reducing their output.

    In this thread, several people have suggested energy storage to reduce the problems of the intermittent supply from windfarms. There is no such storage system and if it existed then it would be used whether or not there were windfarms because it would reduce the need for power stations by about a third.

    Demand for electricity varies from hour to hour, day to day, and month to month. Power stations take days to start-up from cold so they all operate continuously but vary their output to match demand. Pumped storage is inefficient and expensive but is cost effective because it removes the need to operate some power stations solely to meet the few hours of peak demand each day. Adequate energy storage would enable almost all power stations to continuously operate at optimum efficiency and so fewer power stations would be needed. But no such system exists.

    There are several problems of large energy storage. Fuels are stores of energy and they are useful because they concentrate much energy in small volume and release it in a controllable manner and at a relatively safe rate. For example, gelignite stores less chemical energy than coal, but burning a kilo of each of them has different effect because gelignite burns much faster than coal.

    Flywheels store mechanical energy. If flywheels were used to smooth the output from power stations then I would not want to risk getting within 10 miles of them for fear of one coming loose.

    So, my question is, why would anybody want windfarms in the absence of subsidies?

    Richard

  70. Peter says: March 25, 2013 at 3:12 pm
    Put a baby thorium reactor at each site. Cant thorium can be ramped up and down or turned off quickly unlike plutonium?
    ———————————————————————–
    There are no Thorium reactors except for a few research units, and conventional reactors burn mostly Uranium. Plutonium is bred in Uranium reactors, then burned to produce about 20% of the power. Plutonium is also sometimes added to the fuel mix to use up Cold War bomb materials. As for the throttleability, conventional reactors can drop to 1% power in a few minutes, but why would the operator do that? Operating them is cheap, with fuel costs at about $.015 per KWHr. The costs are mostly in building them and the administration paperwork is the same regardless of how much power is generated.

    What happened in Fukushima was that they dropped the power to 1% before the tsunami hit, but that 1% was still enough to destroy the core without pumped coolant. The grid was washed away and they needed backup diesel power to run the pumps. But the diesels were drowned too. They designed for a 5m tsunami (the hundred year maximum) and got a 12m one (the thousand year maximum). New plants will get at least some of the diesels on high ground.

  71. I have way to make all large wind turbines 20 to 50% more efficient and produce power all the time at a consistent rate.. Hint, turbines would never need brakes again and all extra energy is stored to turn gen motor when wind is calm, no batteries. I have been testing it for 3 years and it works. Patent time . I am on twitter

  72. Leo Geiger says March 25, 2013 at 3:35 pm

    Weather can be forecast.

    We’re not to the point yet where we can determine within minutes where a thunderstorm outflow boundary will form … we’re not that good yet. Still reactive (rolling with the punches), not proactive (anticipating the punches), at that point.

    Heck, NOAA’s SPC (Storm Prediction Center) missed (completely blew) a ‘call’ regarding storm initiation made in a Mesoscale Discussion just this last weekend … nothing formed-up as anticipated. And there is the uncertainty as to WHEN T-storms initiate along the West Texas dryline in the spring even; grasp this fact – forecasting is an inexact ‘science’.

    .

  73. Rob Potter and DirkH both challenge the viability of pumped storage to even out wind’s variability based on the total volume of pumped water that would be necessary. Thank you. That is the kind of informed criticism that I have come to appreciate on this site. That said, I suspect that you may be underestimating the volume already in place. Wikipedia has a fairly extensive “List of pumped-storage hydroelectric power stations” with greater than 1 GW.capacity. Many are newly constructed or still in construction, suggesting that at least some bond holders consider it a good investment.

    The MacKay article is illuminating (withouthotair.com). He does calculate that the needed pumped storage capacity for the UK is “a lot” (1200 GW-hours to be precise) but he does not assume that any one solution (like pumped storage) must be the only solution.

    But maybe it is infeasible for an island like the UK. MacKay does, after all, assume that the worst reasonable case is a UK-scale blocking system that shuts down all wind generation for a five-day lull. That does not necessarily make it an infeasible solution for the US with its larger, interconnected electrical grid, unlikely to be simultaneously blocked by any one weather pattern. I don’t know that it’s the right answer but it is an intriguing thought.

  74. China Datang Corp. Renewable Power Co. (1798), a state-owned wind-energy developer, said 2012 profit declined 85 percent as slower first-quarter wind speeds and “grid curtailment” in some regions reduced power generated

    Net income fell to 112.1 million yuan ($18 million) from 729.8 million yuan in 2011. China’s electricity grids are unable to absorb the influx of wind power, forcing the government to tighten approvals on new projects and slow the development of the industry. Installations of wind turbines in China fell 18 percent to 15.9 gigawatts last year from 2011, according to data compiled by Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

    http://www.businessweek.com/news/2013-03-22/datang-renewables-profit-falls-on-intensified-grid-congestion

  75. I went by a windmill farm near Blackwell, OK last week. It wasn’t producing enough electricity to light the red warning beacons on the tops of the windmills. This in windy Oklahoma in March.

    A question I’ve never seen addressed. How are we going to rid the landscape of the huge concrete bases when these windmills are removed? I think the installers of these windmills ought to have to set up an escrow fund for their ultimate removal.

  76. http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/53864

    The bird mortality disaster must no longer be hidden
    Not only has the wind industry never solved its environmental problem. It has been hiding at least 90% of this slaughter for decades. In fact, the universal problem of hiding bird (and bat) mortality goes from bad to intolerable beyond the Altamont Pass boundaries, because studies in other areas across North America are far less rigorous, or even nonexistent, and many new turbines are sited in prime bird and bat habitats.

    The real death toll, as reported by Paul Driessen and others, is thousands of raptors a year – and up to 39 million birds and bats of all species annually in the United States alone, year after year! This is intolerable, and unsustainable. It is leading to the inevitable extinction of many species, at least in many habitats, and perhaps in the entire Lower 48 States.

  77. Henry Clark says:
    March 25, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    Wind and solar simply don’t scale up very well. Sometimes for non-obvious reasons. Sure, go ahead and use it for your cabin or suburban ranchette. You would have to put thousands of > 1 MW turbines offshore to get the wind speeds and the numbers needed to put a dent in our power needs. That’s not gonna happen.

    What the California Energy Commission want is political power. They pretend they are helping people, educating us, and protecting the environment. They are effectively producing just the opposite. What an evil thing Jerry the Gov did to California.

  78. Why are celebrities not speaking out against the windmill slaughter of birds? Write your favorite celeb. A new opportunity for them to get in front of the cameras. An area that so far is wide open.

  79. Greg says:
    March 25, 2013 at 1:28 pm
    However, stopping to look at the facts posted in that article one can see that the data posted by whatever the power authority down there is called, one finds that the sum of wind and solar was almost constant.
    ============
    zero is a constant.

  80. Robert F wrote;

    “However, the main problem, economical storage of surplus energy, remains unsolved.”

    Well, back in the old days we used to pile up coal outside the power plant, or build lots of oil tanks. Sure seemed like “economical storage of surplus energy”, just put it “over there” until we need it.

    Too simple I guess, the hardest part of “optimizing” a coal (or wood) pile is getting the bank angle right so it stays where you put it, must be a computer model around someplace for that.

    Cheers, Kevin.

  81. Leo Geiger says March 25, 2013 at 3:35 pm
    Weather can be forecast.
    ==============
    So far, weather forecasting is moderately successful when predicting the past, though there does appear to be a rather large number of adjustments necessary after the fact to make corrections. I believe these corrections are called climate science. It hardly seems possible they can do a good job predicting the future when they need to make so many corrections to the past.

    If they were wrong in the past isn’t it more likely they will be wrong in the future? It is almost as if every time the experts say temperatures will go up they go down instead, and every time they same they will go down, the temperatures go up. Almost as if after years of schooling, having facts pounded into their heads, these climate scientists are in fact suffering from the global numbskull effect.

  82. Mike Borgelt says:
    March 25, 2013 at 4:09 pm
    The historical fact that sails were abandoned for even the very poor early steam engines for marine transport tells you all you need to know about wind power. Works fine on sailboats for fun, nothing serious.
    =========
    anyone that says the wind is free hasn’t bought a new sail.

    the sails and rig on a sailboat cost about as much as a diesel engine and fuel for 20 years of travel. only the diesel is way more reliable. the only valid technical reason to have sails is that in a small boat you cannot carry enough fuel to cross oceans. (due to the relationship between length and volume).

  83. The solution where ever the government pays a feed in tariff, is to install a diesel genet in the tower base, generate electricity as cheaply as possible and sell it to the grid at the inflated mandated rate.
    If your criminal associates can boost a few tankers of fuel you can clean up big and if the utility ever checks, you can be gone in no time.
    And the utility company is forced to pay you, until they can prove you are a criminal.
    I have to love bureaucratic wisdom.

  84. crosspatch says:
    March 25, 2013 at 2:44 pm
    I have a different idea that actually takes advantage of fluctuating supply.
    ++++++
    I love this idea. It’s actually brilliant. We have a cloud based technology that can do just that. But the system is not in place to take advantage of this idea. In Canada, people have their own generators that the grid is forced to pay a fluctuating price for. When the price differential is profitable based on gas prices, people turn their generators on to the grid and make money.

    Our technology can monitor these price deltas and decide when to turn on the generators to supply the grid with profitable (for the small gas generators) energy.

    Our controls are about 1/10 the cost of traditional SCADA, so they can make sense easily.

    We are using our technology now for small water districts to control local operations. We measure pump energy consumed, water flow and know which pumps are most efficient at moving water. As well, we know the storage and demand capacity in real time. So we can time pumping to avoid peak energy prices (fill the gravity tanks just before rates change) and use the least cost energy and most efficient pumps to move most of the water. We can displace several hundred thousand dollar SCADA systems for $15k to $20k… We also do alarming and all the goodies so we catch leaks and problems before they are costly.

  85. Here’s how to get power from wind turbines when there’s no wind. Equip each one with a winch and a heavy weight on a cable. When the wind blows, wind up the cable then lock the winch, storing potential energy in the weight. Once the weight is up, the blades turn the generator.

    When the wind stops, loose (not lose) the winch so as the weight drops it turns the generator. Apply gearing as needed to make the drop last a while. The whole works could be inside those big, hollow towers.

    Makes as much sense as attempting to rely on inconstant wind for an energy source.

  86. In Norway, an experiment on the island of Utsira involved the mating of a modest wind turbine with a hydrogen generator in order to smooth the relationship between supply and demand.

    http://www.iphe.net/docs/Meetings/Brazil_3-05/Norway_Utsira_Wind_H2.pdf

    http://www.statoil.com/en/NewsAndMedia/Multimedia/features/Pages/HydrogenSociety.aspx

    Started in 2004, this was something of a poster child for clean, green rainbow power, but the fact that the trial has quietly slipped into obscurity and not been repeated or scaled up probably speaks volumes on the practical and economic success of the project (despite the technical success claimed of the project)
    Interestingly, one of the challenges was the inefficiency of the H2 fuel cell generator and despite the modelling indicating that the island should be self sufficient, protracted periods without wind still required the provision of connection with the national grid or diesel generator for the ten households that participated.
    Still, a more proactive attempt at practically smoothing out the intermittent supply of wind energy than a ‘…strategy based on continuous predictions of how fluctuating winds affect each turbine’s maximum generation capacity…’ which just sounds like more of the usual hot air we’ve all come to expect from the champions and benefactors of the cause.

  87. Ira Glickstein said “The solution is to erect electrically-powered fans at all wind farms such that they can be turned on when there is not sufficient natural wind…. Power those fans by connecting them to the output of remote wind farms that do have sufficient wind”.

    I assume – hope – you were joking. The increased energy obtained from the windmills (resulting from the remotely driven fans) can’t be greater than the energy supplied to the fans – otherwise you would just be postulating a large scale perpetual motion machine in breach of the first law. So, the combined output of (a) the farm with insufficient natural wind plus (b) the remote farm supplying energy to the fan would be less overall, resulting from transmission losses in “connecting them to the output of remote wind farms”.

    And most of the world doesn’t yet have wide-area grids – or (come to that) any reliable electricity supply at all.

  88. I observe that nobody has offered any answer to the question I posed (with explanation) at March 25, 2013 at 4:45 pm .

    I remind that it is
    “why would anybody want windfarms in the absence of subsidies?”

    I think the lack of any attempt at an answer is informative.

    Richard

  89. Mario Lento says:
    March 25, 2013 at 10:01 pm

    But the system is not in place to take advantage of this idea.

    It is being installed in California. The so-called “smart meters” are directly wired to the utility via a private internet connection and are capable of doing fine resolution billing. All that is required is to make the charging controller aware of the current cost of electricity from the grid. The idea is rather than having a bunch of regulations, you simply use free market solutions so that you price the product according to current supply and allow the market to take up excess capacity when it is available through purchasing more of it when it is cheap. Software managing the charging controller could allow the rate payer a lot of options including keeping electricity cost below a certain amount, aggressively attempting the cheapest power cost possible, etc. And the home storage system could be expanded as needed through rather easy to install storage modules. If the system knows, for example, that power generated by natural gas would be cheaper than grid power at the moment and the system is getting low on power (hot day, need the air conditioning, grid is stressed, there is no wind, grid price is jacked up to conserve power) it could automatically run the natural gas generator to provide power to the system, if available. The system could also be tied in to the local on-site solar or wind or any other source of generation if any is available, too.

    The notion is to basically take the opposite approach than what most bureaucrats generally think of first. Rather than attempt to manage individual behavior through various decrees, you minimize waste and maximize efficiency by making the “hooks” available for people to purchase power on demand-based pricing and allow the market to respond to that.

  90. As for buffering you would do well to build a thousand mile pipeline from the Dakotas to Texas to accomodate hydrogen from the electrolysis of water. The pipeline would be fed hydrogen from all adjacent wind farms along the route. Utilities would consume the hydrogen by supplying fuel cell electricity to the grid on a nearly constant rate matched closely to the total hydrogen production rate.
    In this way the huge buffering capacity of 1500 psi of compressed hydrogen nearly makes up for the entire massive instability of the windfarm output. The initial cost is high, but the running cost is very low though the running cost of the electricity produced would probably be about 2x higher than the average cost today. The advantage of hydrogen is that consumers of hydrogen could tap the line for fertilizer production, etc.
    The obvious, and much simpler alternative, would just be to use the pipeline to store compressed air and bleed it off through cold turbines to produce constant power.
    Either way the highly intermittent power of a windfarm is reduced to almost a non-variable to the grid.

  91. Jim Johnson says:
    March 26, 2013 at 9:10 am

    We already are a good ways along with that, too. What you do is use a conventional fuel cell that uses natural gas. You enrich the natural gas system with hydrogen. The gas distribution system is already being made “hydrogen tight” which is VERY difficult to do. Hydrogen is very small and leaks from the smallest of imperfections. Then you deploy nuclear power for water desalinization and hydrogen production when you have excess power not needed for the grid. You inject the hydrogen into the natural gas system, release the O2 to the atmosphere and you basically use the gas distribution system for what amounts to a water distribution system. The fuel cells in a place like Palmdale, CA would produce water as a waste product which could be used for toilet flushing, lawn irrigation, etc. Hydrogen is easier to move over hundreds of miles than water is. The atmosphere moves the oxygen for free.

  92. I’m reluctant to be a party pooper on the promise of pumped storage for all the huffers and puffers out there full of wind BUT…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_pumped-storage_hydroelectric_power_stations

    We have already grabbed Gaia’s low hanging fruit of pumped storage largely for our coal fired generation system whereby excess steam turbine generation capacity when we’re all asleep is used to pump our daytime hydro uphill again.

    Notice that Tumut 3 listing for Oz which is part of the massive Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Scheme which took 25 years to complete and harnesses the main water source for our continent of droughts and flooding rains-

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snowy_Mountains_Scheme

    The only other reasonably efficient use for wind energy is desalination and we rushed to build expensive desal plants in response to a long General Drought that could utilise wind power effectively only to find the whole country was flooded with water. Such are the vagaries of Gaia and the best laid plans of mice and men.

  93. Jim Johnson, crosspatch: We have over 20 gig of unusable capacity in the NW (BPA can produce 52 gig of power conservatively), we could be making butt loads of hydrogen everyday. We’ve had over capacity for nearly 30 years. We send some of the over capacity to other authorities but we don’t have the transmission lines to send it all so we dump water over the damns (42 of them), pull the nuke plant back to 20%, turn off the thermal sites (24 of them) and shut off the windmills (several thousand of them). If anybody finds a good use for this excess power generation locally, that would be a great boon! Note that the graph shows each source independently, add them up for the actual generation going on now, the read line is the NW’s demand: http://transmission.bpa.gov/business/operations/wind/baltwg.aspx

  94. Could too much wind power wreck our electric grid? Maybe the windmills need to be articulated — fixed atop the towers so they can be pivoted to position the generator and its blades in a manner that allows rotation either in a horizontal or vertical plane.

    In normal operation, wind would blow against the blades, rotating them in the vertical plane. Then if the wind blows too hard, instead of feeding too much wind power into the grid, some of the power can be reconnected, shunting it into a group of ground stakes that have been driven into the earth surrounding the tower. This should heat the land below the windmill, thereby storing the power for later use.

    Then when the wind is dying, the pivoting mechanism can reposition the windmill blades into the horizontal plane. Now the windmill can be rotated by the rising air currents from the previously heated earth below. OK, so this concept for storing wind power may not be too practical during wintertime, but how about during a torrid summer? Would adding solar radiation to the stored windmill-supplied heat help to rotate the horizontal blades, and turn this into a sort of green utopia — a combined solar power and wind power generator?

    Still not to too practical? Why does anyone to imagine that anything about windmill power is practical for powering our electric grid?

  95. Regarding solar and wind power naturally balancing each other. This clearly will not work for much of the world due to the issue of peak power demand in the winter. For example, in the upper Midwest of the US, winter power demand peaks often approach, and sometimes exceed, summer pwer demand peaks. Winter power demand peaks typically occur from 4-7 pm during weekdays when it is cold outside. Is it always windy at 4-7 pm in the winter? No. And, I think we can confidently predict there will be no solar power produced after the sun sets.

    Regarding the use of pumped hydroelectric storage, it is almost impossible, if not impossible, to get a new, large hydroelectric power project built in the US. The last major pumped storage project to be constructed in the US of which I am aware was built in Michigan decades ago. It was a couple of hundred MW, only capable of providing a little ‘peak shaving’ for the Chicago metropolitan area.

    The US Pacific Northwest (PNW) has huge hydroelectric capacity and also excess wind power generation during the spring snow melt season. So why doesn’t the BPA, just reduce hydroelectric generaton, conserving water for times when the wind isn’t blowing, because other environmental restrictions (primarily minimum water release requirements to help maintain the Salmon population) force the BPA to release lots of water regardless of whether or not the wind is blowing.

  96. It’s even worse than that. BPA has to dump water without generating power when the wind is blowing. The vast windfarms of OR & WA are a huge boondoggle, worse than worthless from the standpoints of energy, the environment & economics, a fact known even to those who benefit from the taxpayer-subsidized royalties paid to landowners.

    As for the proposed Antarctic windfarms, there is this:

    http://www.meridianenergy.co.nz/company/news/media-releases/wind-farms/antarctic-wind-farm-exceeding-expectations-for-antarctic-bases/

    Notice total lack of comparative cost analysis, beyond petroleum presumed saved. At least penguins, unlike flying birds & bats, can’t be killed by the blades, unless they fall over.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/03/03/impractical-proposal-dry-ice-sequestration-on-antarctic-ice-sheets/

  97. I agree Crosspatch. The cloud is a wealth of information which can make the decisions based on multiple parameters accessible through the Internet. The way forward needs to be cost effective… and the cloud enables natural software sharing capabilities rather than local customer software,

  98. Looks like wind power peak it pretty well aligned to peak demand. Solar provides a good production to fill the daytime plateau when wind is typically low.

    Looks they they have some engineers designing all this, not green eared monkeys.

    Greg,
    according to data given here …

    http://content.caiso.com/green/renewableswatch.html

    … there is almost no correlation (<1%) between demand and wind power. The correlation between demand and solar power is around 30% only. You just happened to pick a lucky day it seems.

    So no reasonable way at all to scale and combine these sources to meet demand.

  99. The other thing, as in my earlier comments, it that solar is generally inverse of wind.

    Greg,
    according to the source you took your sample data from, the correlation between wind and solar generation is negligible … sometimes even slightly positive.

  100. The problem with mechanical energy transfer systems, pumped storage, flywheels, 1000-mile pipelines, etc., is the friction losses. In the case of pumped storage, the losses are on the order of 50%. So, yes, you can have wind turbines producing a constant energy supply, as long as you roughly double the number.

  101. davidgmills:

    Thankyou for your post at March 26, 2013 at 6:00 pm that links to the ‘TED talk’ by Donald Sadoway. I had not seen it.

    Sadoway provides a short and entertaining talk about the liquid metal battery which he is developing, and it seems to show some promise. I sincerely hope his work proves successful. But I await further developments before I am convinced.

    At present he has scaled- up from a 1 Wh battery to a 1 kWh battery. This thousand-fold scale-up is impressive but much, much more is needed. Sadoway provides a pretty picture of an imagined 2 MWh battery which could fit into a standard transport container. Pictures are easy to produce, but scaling from 1 kWh to 2 MWh storage may not be. Indeed, his system generates heat to melt the metal to liquid, and controlling the generated heat in the postulated 2 MWh system would not be easy.

    As yet there has been no publicity about a prototype 2 MWh unit although his talk was in 2012 so at least three months have passed since his TED talk. The fact that he made the ‘Ted talk’ demonstrates this lack of publicity about a prototype is not because development of the prototype is a commercial secret.

    Clearly, Sadoway is a good salesman. He is an MIT professor who started with an idea, obtained funds from MIT for research using one assistant, then obtained funding from Federal Government and industry to create a research team of 20 qualified personnel. Now – he says – he has established a commercial company – which he owns – to continue the research.

    Incidentally, in his talk he claims his work is “without subsidy” but that is not true according to his own statements in his talk. To date his work has provided no income and is subsidised 100% by Federal Government and speculative investment from industry.

    The benefits of a cheap, large energy store would be immense (this is explained in my above post at March 25, 2013 at 4:45 pm) so the relatively small investment in ‘blue sky’ research of this kind is a good risk for government and industry: probability of success is small, but cost of seeking the success is also small, while benefits of obtaining success would be huge.

    It is to be hoped that Sadoway’s R&D proves successful and his work merits support. But, at present, his excellent salesmanship should not blind people to the high probability that his battery will prove to be impractical at commercial size. If such a large battery were easy to build then it would have been done because the benefits of building it are so large; i.e. it would remove about a third of the need for existing generating capacity.

    Richard

  102. Here is one of the latest ‘tricks’ to integrate variable electricity sources and a very good rebuttal. Included are other items that are must reads as promised from my earlier post here on
    March 25, 2013 at 2:32 pm.

    http://dailybail.com/home/why-wind-power-wont-work.html

    California ISO and Pacificorp enter MOU on Energy Imbalance Markets

    On February 12, 2013, the California Independent System Operator Corporation (CAISO) and neighboring utility, PacifiCorp, entered a Memorandum of Understanding to cooperate on the development of an energy imbalance market (EIM) in each entity’s respective balancing authority areas, in the hopes of laying groundwork for a broader effort across the western region. Hailed by the CAISO as the “first step in bringing PacifiCorp and ultimately other Western balancing authorities into an automated real-time [five]-minute dispatch system” the CAISO and PacifiCorp agreed in the MOU to work towards implementing the EIM by October 2014.

    Energy Imbalance Markets will raise prices in the West

    Some western energy markets are currently challenged by the increased development of variable renewable energy resources (i.e., wind and solar that vary depending on the availability of the resource and therefore must be integrated onto the electric grid whenever they are available, day or night) promoted through federal tax incentives and renewable portfolio standards in some states. Many of these resources are under development even though the economic recession has reduced the need for electric generation in many areas in the West.

    john from DB

  103. @richardscourtney: Thanks for your input and healthy skepticism. I have no proper background to judge most of the technological ideas that people have. But I read 10 or more hours a day and have for thirty plus years, so I come across a lot of promising sounding ideas. When I do, I just like to call attention to them so that others more qualified can judge.

    Here’s what I appears to me to be the most promising: Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors. Invented at Oak Ridge, tested and proven, extremely safe, hard to turn into weapons (which is why it was deselected by the government that wanted dual purpose reactors) and with a far more abundant nuclear fuel than uranium. The nuclear power we were supposed to have. A TED talk on thorium:

    And the best video on it but much longer:

  104. davidgmills:

    re youir interst in thorium reactors in your post at March 27, 2013 at 8:00 am.

    Yes, thorium power may have some advantages but adoption of it at commercial scale is inhibited by novelty risk. Similarly, novelty risk inhibits adoption of the several clean coal technologies for power generation (i.e. AFBC, CFBC, PFBC, ABGCC, IGCC, etc.).

    However, China is interested in thorium power and normal investment considerations do not apply there and so China may provide a 3-decade commercial demo. of thorium power which would remove (at least, severely reduce) the novelty risk. This is similar to the commercial PFBC power station at Cotbus, Germany, which has now been operating for two decades: one more decade of successful commercial operation of that plant would significantly reduce the novelty risk – so the cost of obtaining money to build – commercial PFBC plants.

    Fortunately, we have adequately efficient and safe conventional nuclear technology so the need for thorium technology is not great. Conventional nuclear is an appropriate technology for power generation especially for providing baseload.

    Much, much more interesting is the liquid metal battery technology which you drew to my attention. In the very unlikely event that this technology proves viable at commercial scale then it would be rapidly adopted because its benefits would be large, several and immediate. Importantly, the unit size of the batteries would be relatively small so many individual batteries would be required with reduction to novelty risk. I explain this as follows.

    A power station has a scheduled life of at least 30 years (and much longer life with extensions). The capital cost of the power station is recouped during the first years (often the first 15 years) of its life, and good profits are made after that, There is severe novelty risk with a new technology power station: the return on investment would be much reduced if the novel power station were – for some unforeseen reason – to reach the end of its usefulness prior to the end of its scheduled life. Hence, the monies borrowed for construction of a novel power station have a high interest rate to compensate for this risk that the novel power station is untested for a complete life schedule.

    As a power station reached the end of its scheduled life then it could be replaced by the putative batteries. There would be very many batteries and if they were to start failing prior to their scheduled life then it is unlikely that all would fail at once: one would fail first and then the rate of failure would increase. As the failures occurred then the needed replacement rate could be assessed with a view to determining if the battery technology should be abandoned in favour of a conventional power station. But there would not be a sudden end to return on investment; instead, there would be a reduction to obtained profits provided by the cost of replacing failed batteries.

    There is an anology which may help understanding. Lenoir invented the first internal combustion engine in 1860. Otto and Daimler developed the 4-stroke engine in 1876. Oil became largely available around ~1900. Ford produced the Model T which was the first first cheap automobile and produced ~15 million of them from 1909 to 1927. The cheap unit cost of the Model T induced rapid replacement of horses for transportation. If the automobile had needed 7 million cars to instantly replace horses then the rapid adoption of automobiles would not have happened.

    The small unit cost of Model T automobiles spread the risk of adopting them between the individual units and over about two decades. Similarly, the small unit costs of the batteries spreads the investment risk over individual units and over time.

    I hope this was of some interest and use to your investigations.

    Richard

  105. @richardscourtney. One of the things that makes thorium so exciting is that it can be scaled very small as well as very large. It has the ability to be used on small islands, for example where other power generation is a real problem. So it might get over the novelty risk real fast. The intent is to make them on an assembly line like a Boeing aircraft. Vastly different than nuclear now. Thorium’s other real advantage is that it can use nuclear waste to kickstart the reaction and burn up the waste we have been producing. It also generates its power at normal atmospheres so that the risk of water under extreme pressure is eliminated. I know the Chinese will unfortunately beat us to market. I would hope that we make these reactors as well because we need the jobs.

  106. 1. Wind turbines are medieval technology. The Dutch have used them to reclaim land from the sea by pumping out water since the Middle Ages. Modern turbines are bigger and shinier, but they are fundamentally the same.

    2. They don’t produce very much electricity for the investment.

    http://www.instituteforenergyresearch.org/denmark/Wind_energy_-_the_case_of_Denmark.pdf

    3. Pumped Storage is not a solution to the intermittentcy problem of wind power:

    “Do the Math: Using physics and estimation to assess energy, growth, options” by Tom Murphy professor of physics at UC San Diego:

    “It is clear enough that pumped storage exists and works quite well in certain locations. But demonstration does not imply scalability, and scaling the existing installations did not deliver a radically different answer (in fact, demanding more installations). The enormous scale I calculate means simple factors of two or even ten here and there do not change the overall flavor of the conclusion. Let’s be clear that I am not making any claim that large scale storage at the level we need is impossible. But it’s far more daunting than almost anyone realizes.”

    http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/2011/11/pump-up-the-storage/

    And, every pumped storage project will be fought tooth and nail by the “environmentalists”:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Storm_King_Mountain_(New_York)

    “In 1965 the mountain became the focus of a landmark environmental battle when local activists formed the Scenic Hudson Preservation Coalition (today known as just Scenic Hudson) to fight against plans by utility Consolidated Edison to cut away part of the mountain near the river and build a pump storage power generator complete with transmission lines across it for an ambitious power generating scheme which would also have entailed creating a reservoir in much of what is now Black Rock Forest. In a lawsuit brought by the coalition, a judge ruled for the first time that aesthetic impacts could be considered in such projects. In 1979 Con Ed finally abandoned even a greatly scaled-down version of the project, and settled a parallel lawsuit brought against their Indian Point facility by agreeing to endow the Hudson River Foundation with $12 million.”

  107. Walter Sobchak:

    At March 28, 2013 at 9:08 pm you say

    Wind turbines are medieval technology.

    Actually, wind turbines are a much older technology than that. And, following thousands of years of development, the use of wind turbines was abandoned when the much greater energy intensity in fossil fuels (than in usable wind) became available by use of the steam engine.

    There are a number of types of wind turbines. They are divided into Vertical-Axis and Horizontal-Axis types.

    Vertical-axis windmills to mill corn were first developed by the Persians around 1500 BC, and they were still in use in the 1970’s in the Zahedan region. Sails were mounted on a boom attached to a shaft that turned vertically. The technology had spread to Northern Africa and Spain by 500 BC. Low-speed, vertical-axis windmills are still popular in Finland because they operate without adjustment when the direction of the wind changes. These inefficient Finnish wind turbines are usually made from a 200 litre oil drum split in half and are used to pump water and to aerate land (3). Low speed vertical-axis windmills for water pumping and air compressing are commercially available (a selection of commercial suppliers is at http://energy.sourceguides.com/businesses/byP/water/wPumpMills/wPumpMills.shtml).

    The horizontal-axis wind turbine was invented in Egypt and Greece around 300 BC. It had 8 to 10 wooden beams rigged with sails, and a rotor which turned perpendicular to the wind direction. This type of wind turbine later became popular in Portugal and Greece. Around 1200 AD, the crusaders built and developed the post-mill for milling grain. The turbine was mounted on a vertical post and could be rotated on top the post to keep the turbine facing the wind. This post-mill technology was first adopted for electricity generation in Denmark in the late 1800’s. The technology soon spread to the U.S. where it was used to pump water and to irrigate crops across the Great Plains.

    During World War I, some American farmers rigged wind turbines to each generate 1 kW of DC current. Such wind turbines were mounted on buildings and towers. On western farms and railroad stations, wind turbines for pumping water were between 6 and 16m high and had 2 to 3m diameter. With 15kmh wind speed, a 2m-diameter turbine operating a 60cm diameter pump cylinder could lift 200 litres of water per hour to a height of 12m. A 4m diameter turbine could lift 250 litres per hour to a height of 38m.

    The above brief history demonstrates that wind turbines can have useful niches to the present day. For example, small wind turbines can be used to economically pump water or generate electricity in remote locations distant to – or disconnected from (e.g. on boats) – an electricity grid supply. But wind power lost favour when the greater energy concentration in fossil fuels became widely available by use of steam engines.

    Wind power has recently found favour for large scale electricity generation in some places, but is completely uneconomic and impractical for the several reasons stated in this thread.

    I wince when I hear environmentalists claim wind turbines need subsidy for their adoption because they are “new technology”. If wind turbines are “new technology” then the steam engine must be future-tech.

    Richard

  108. richardscourtney provides yet another real positive feedback. Thank you sir… from most of us for providing cogent and balanced fact based information.

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