Claim: Let’s put batteries on wind and solar farms

From Stanford University

Stanford scientists calculate the energy required to store wind and solar power on the grid

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

Green Mountain Energy Wind Farm, West Texas. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Renewable energy holds the promise of reducing carbon dioxide emissions. But there are times when solar and wind farms generate more electricity than is needed by consumers. Storing that surplus energy in batteries for later use seems like an obvious solution, but a new study from Stanford University suggests that might not always be the case.

“We looked at batteries and other promising technologies for storing solar and wind energy on the electrical grid,” said Charles Barnhart, the lead author of the study and a postdoctoral scholar at Stanford’s Global Climate and Energy Project (GCEP).

“Our primary goal was to calculate their overall energetic cost – that is, the total amount of fuel and electricity required to build and operate these storage technologies. We found that when you factor in the energetic costs, grid-scale batteries make sense for storing surplus solar energy, but not for wind.”

The study, which is supported by GCEP, is published in the online edition of the journal Energy and Environmental Science.

Climate change and renewable energy

Most electricity in the United States is generated at power plants that run on coal and natural gas – fossil fuels that contribute significantly to global warming by emitting large amounts of carbon dioxide. Solar and wind power are emissions-free and renewable, but depend on sunlight or wind to operate.

“For the grid to function efficiently, power supply needs to match power demand at all times, but with renewables, that’s not always the case,” Barnhart said. “For example, wind farms sometimes produce too much electricity at night when demand is low. That excess energy has to be stored or used elsewhere. Otherwise it will be lost. However, the U.S. grid has very limited storage capacity.”

A wide variety of technologies are being developed to address the lack of grid-scale storage. The Stanford team looked at several emerging technologies, including five battery types – lead-acid, lithium-ion, sodium-sulfur, vanadium-redox and zinc-bromine.

In a previous study, Barnhart calculated the energetic cost of building and maintaining each of the five battery systems for grid-scale storage. Lead-acid batteries had the highest energetic cost, lithium-ion the lowest, he found.

“We calculated how much energy is used over the full lifecycle of the battery – from the mining of raw materials to the installation of the finished device,” Barnhart said. “Batteries with high energetic cost consume more fossil fuels and therefore release more carbon dioxide over their lifetime. If a battery’s energetic cost is too high, its overall contribution to global warming could negate the environmental benefits of the wind or solar farm it was supposed to support.”

For this study, he and his colleagues calculated the energetic cost of grid-scale photovoltaic solar cells and wind turbines.

“Both wind turbines and photovoltaics deliver more energy than it takes to build and maintain them,” said GCEP postdoctoral scholar Michael Dale, a co-author of the study. “However, our calculations showed that the overall energetic cost of wind turbines is much lower than conventional solar panels, which require lots of energy, primarily from fossil fuels, for processing silicon and fabricating other components.”

To store or curtail?

Next the scientists looked at the energetic cost of curtailment – the practice of shutting down solar panels and wind turbines to reduce the production of surplus electricity on the grid.

“Curtailment of renewable resources seems wasteful,” Barnhart said. “But grid operators routinely curtail wind turbines to avoid a sudden, unexpected surge of excess electricity that could overload transmission lines and cause blackouts. Curtailment rates in the U.S. will likely increase as renewable energy becomes more prevalent.”

Shutting down a clean source of electricity seems counterproductive, but is storing surplus energy in batteries a practical alternative?

To find out, the researchers compared the energetic cost of curtailing solar and wind power, versus the energetic cost of grid-scale storage. Their calculations were based on a formula known as “energy return on investment” – the amount of energy produced by a technology, divided by the amount of energy it takes to build and maintain it.

Using that formula, the researchers found that the amount of energy required to create a solar farm is comparable to the energy used to build each of the five battery technologies. “Using batteries to store solar power during periods of low demand would, therefore, be energetically favorable,” Dale said.

The results were quite different for wind farms. The scientists found that curtailing wind power reduces the energy return on investment by 10 percent. But storing surplus wind-generated electricity in batteries results in even greater reductions – from about 20 percent for lithium-ion batteries to more than 50 percent for lead-acid.

“Ideally, the energetic cost of curtailing a resource should at least equal the amount of energy it cost to store it,” Dale said. “That’s the case for photovoltaics, but for wind farms, the energetic cost of curtailment is much lower than it is for batteries. Therefore, it would actually be more energetically efficient to shut down a wind turbine than to store the surplus electricity it generates.”

He compared it to buying a safe. “You wouldn’t spend a $100 on a safe to store a $10 watch,” he said. “Likewise, it’s not sensible to build energetically expensive batteries for an energetically cheap resource like wind, but it does make sense for photovoltaic systems, which require lots of energy to produce.”

Increasing the cycle life of a battery would be the most effective way to improve its energetic performance, Barnhart added. Conventional lithium-ion batteries last about four years, or 6,000 charge-discharge cycles. Lead-acid batteries only last about 700 cycles. To efficiently store energy on the grid, batteries must endure 10,000 to 18,000 cycles, he said.

“Storing energy consumes energy, and curtailing energy wastes it,” Barnhart said. “In either case, the result is a reduction in the overall energy return on investment.”

Other options

In addition to batteries, the researchers considered other technologies for storing renewable energy, such as pumped hydroelectric storage, which uses surplus electricity to pump water to a reservoir behind a dam. Later, when demand for energy is high, the stored water is released through turbines in the dam to generate electricity.

“Pumped hydro is used in 99 percent of grid storage today, ” Barnhart said. “It works fantastically from an energetic perspective for both wind and solar. Its energy return on investment is 10 times better than conventional batteries. But there are geologic and environmental constraints on where pumped hydro can be deployed.”

Storage is not the only way to improve grid reliability. “Energy that would otherwise be lost during times of excess could be used to pump water for irrigation or to charge a fleet of electric vehicles, for example,” Dale said.

It’s important for society to be energy-smart about implementing new technologies, Barnhart added. “Policymakers and investors need to consider the energetic cost as well as the financial cost of new technologies,” he said. “If economics is the sole focus, then less expensive technologies that require significant amounts of energy for their manufacture, maintenance and replacement might win out – even if they ultimately increase greenhouse gas emissions and negate the long-term benefits of implementing wind and solar power.”

“Our goal is to understand what’s needed to build a scalable low-carbon energy system,” said co-author Sally Benson, the director of GCEP and a professor of energy resources engineering. “Energy return on investment is one of those metrics that sheds light on potential roadblocks. Hopefully this study will provide a performance target to guide future research on grid-scale energy storage.”

Adam Brandt, an assistant professor of energy resources engineering in Stanford’s School of Earth Sciences, also co-authored the study.

###

This article was written by Mark Shwartz of the Precourt Institute for Energy at Stanford University.

227 thoughts on “Claim: Let’s put batteries on wind and solar farms

  1. I calculated many times the cost of storing energy and with every new technologies and promises I saw, it was always 2×3 times minimum the cost per kw/h of the source. So let say you spend 25cents/kwh for wind, you will pay 50-75 cents/kwh for your storage cost. I would rather pay for nuclear at a fraction of the cost.

  2. “contribute significantly to global warming by emitting large amounts of carbon dioxide. Solar and wind power are emissions-free and renewable”
    Fail.

  3. Perhaps other methods other than battery storage, I heard of this (Storing electricity with compressed air)http://robertkyriakides.wordpress.com/2008/04/02/storing-electricty-with-compressed-air/ perhaps an idea?

  4. By all means let’s put some large holes in the ground to dig up lead, zinc and other heavy metals to store electrons. Idiots.

  5. “Energy that would otherwise be lost during times of excess could be used to pump water for irrigation or to charge a fleet of electric vehicles, for example,” Dale said.

    But if you are relying on that excess energy to power your pumps are charge your vehicles and there is no excess for two or three days then your fields don’t get irrigated and your vehicles stop running.

    Now you could say that in those cases then use non-excess energy to run the pumps and charge the vehicles. But then you are making them normal loads on the system (as they actually already are) and they no longer exist as a source for the excess energy.

    The only solutions for excess energy are storage or waste. Using it for something that you would do anyways is a zero sum game and accomplishes nothing.

  6. Is it true that in California, hydro-electric power is NOT considered renewable energy?

    [REPLY: Sadly, yes … because if they did, we’d already be meeting the renewable target. It’s criminal but true. -w.]

  7. Any use of the word “renewable” when refering to energy is an automatic fail for any scientific paper. That’s not my rule, it’s Thermodynamics.

  8. By using the criteria that storage had to be competitive with generation does that mean the least cost efficient power to produce is the most is the most cost effective to store? Also, as a chemist who knows a little bit about electrochemistry, it would be interesting to look at the scale of the battery backup being discussed along with their durability over the long hall. The Li batteries I know of can only take 500 cycles before they are substantially degraded. The pumped hydro seems to make the most sense to me and from a solar point of view, many areas that are deserts are that way because they are on the leeward side of a mountain range so topography should work in favor of this type of storage in those circumstances.

  9. Many years ago I read that raising a weight was an almost perfect way to store energy, a bit like a grandfather clock. Might sound daft but surely some sort of clockwork mechanism might work without having to use costly batteries at all, these things are very tall.

  10. Use the “surplus” electricity to convert water to browns gas. Store the browns gas. When extra electricity is required, burn the browns gas in direct gas turbine generators.

    Simple

  11. ‘But there are times when solar and wind farms generate more electricity than is needed by consumers. ‘
    The real problem is the time they cannot , which are far more often . Indeed none of the renewable fan club can answer how much money or R&D would it take to overcome the reality caused intermittent nature of supply from this source .
    Worse the major demand comes at the worst time for either of these sources, winter , low sun , not much wind , but lots of need.
    Frankly these cannot meet demand without massive cuts in that demand , which is the real green agenda.

  12. @DGP “Any use of the word “renewable” when refering to energy is an automatic fail for any scientific paper.”

    That brings up an interesting question I have never seen addressed. Both wind and solar obviously are removing energy from the normal cycle. What effect does this have.

    Wind turbines most be causing a reduction in the energy of the wind and thus its velocity. True in small numbers turbines effect can be ignored, although even the builders of wind farms have to place the turbines so they don’t block each other. But what is the long term effect of large numbers of turbines changing wind patterns?

    Solar panels absorb energy that would have been absorbed by the earth and buildings which would have then been re-radiated back to the sky. But if absorbed and converted to electricity it isn’t re-radiated, or at least isn’t immediately re-radiated. Wouldn’t a large number of solar farms cause an imbalance in the downwelling and upwelling solar radiation? Aren’t greenhouse gasses supposed to be bad because they cause just such an imbalance? What might be the effect on global temperatures if there are lots of solar farms in operation?

  13. Friends:

    The article says:

    Charles Barnhart, the lead author of the study and a postdoctoral scholar at Stanford’s Global Climate and Energy Project (GCEP).

    Our primary goal was to calculate their overall energetic cost – that is, the total amount of fuel and electricity required to build and operate these storage technologies. We found that when you factor in the energetic costs, grid-scale batteries make sense for storing surplus solar energy, but not for wind.

    OK. Storeage works for solar but not for wind.

    The article also reports

    Using that formula, the researchers found that the amount of energy required to create a solar farm is comparable to the energy used to build each of the five battery technologies.

    Using batteries to store solar power during periods of low demand would, therefore, be energetically favorable,

    Dale said.

    In other words, the energy required to build a solar farm is approximately doubled by use of the putative battery storeage.

    And the article says

    Storing energy consumes energy, and curtailing energy wastes it,

    Barnhart said.

    In either case, the result is a reduction in the overall energy return on investment.

    Have these people never heard of money?!

    Nobody cares about the “energy return on investment”.
    Everybody cares if the monetary return on investment is decreased because their electricity bills go up.

    Richard

  14. “Energy that would otherwise be lost during times of excess could be used to pump water for irrigation or to charge a fleet of electric vehicles, for example,”

    But those electric vehicles have batteries in them, so what’s the difference? Surely all you’ve done is change the location of the battery?

  15. I don’t accept the intial premise of this paper that ‘there are times when solar and wind farms generate more electricity than is needed by consumers.” Also, I see no mention of the power lost in the conversion from AC to DC and back again (inverters).

    Futhermore, if in fact solar and wind actually produced more than was needed, it would just be a simple matter of turning down the back up fossil or nuclear plant that are always required.

  16. “However, the U.S. grid has very limited storage capacity.”
    Where does the grid have any storage capacity?
    Leaves are the only renewable solar panel that works, they capture solar energy and remove CO2 from the atmosphere, and they are biodegradable when their useful lifespan is over. Wood and other cellulose materials are the best batteries for solar energy, animals are also stored solar energy. Both are renewable and biodegradable, and are much cheaper, more efficient and require no toxic mining operations. As far as it goes all “fossil” fuels are stored solar energy, great for long term storage.

  17. I dont know why more people dont push the MIT/JET energy NANOR or E-Cat or LENR technology….

    The 2 law works perfectly well if you draw the box around the whole universe…

  18. why not use gravity storage.

    One of the largest pumped lake storage systems was built in Scotland , not for wind or solar but for nuclear. Since to even pretend to be economically viable (without the hidden subsidies) NP needs to run pretty much flat out 24/7 for it full plant lifetime.

    In order to us the off peak you either need something like gravity storage or 1970’s bonanza of cheap off-peak tariffs and thermal storage in the form hot bricks in everyone’s house aka storage heaters.

    Those usually moaning about the inconsistency of solar etc ignore the fact that NP has a similar but opposite problem, that it HAS to run even when you don’t need it.

    Apparently the turn around efficiency of pumped water storage is surprisingly good when done on a large scale.

  19. All our forms of energy are solar based, where else could we get energy from? Wind, hydro, nuclear and hydrocarbons are all dependent on the sun at some stage. The only solar idea that doesn’t make any sense is photovoltaic, and that is the hole we dump the most money in.

  20. These people are so far behind the curve even crampons wont help them.

    The global warming ’caused’ by mankind’s fossil fuel use is approaching zero. The rest of their guff is, well … guff.

  21. The best scalable pumped hydro I have read about involves using large pipes placed offshore. Water is pumped out into the ocean, and then allowed back in. Let’s also consider linking conventional hydro to other renewable in order to load balance (since hydro is almost an instant on). The full (non-conventional dam) back up need not be weeks, but probably ~2 days to balance a month or so of load. When the reserve drops to ~25% extra generation can be turned on to both power the grid and return the reserves to ~80-90%. These would not need to be quick peaking plants, but could take at least a day to turn on. Also coupling to some energy intensive controllably intermittent uses (desalination, smelting) could be a plus as well as long as those have a spin up/down time on the order of hours not days or weeks.
    This might even allow fossils to move to an arena of almost exclusively base-load type operation at which they are the most efficient.
    However, it would be a lot of moving parts and may not work.

  22. Oh goodie. Who’s up for starting a new green battery company with $500,000,000 in taxpayer loans to invest in this exciting new technology?

    Al and his buddies are probably working on it right now.

    It doesn’t matter if it works or not. The instigators will pay themselves handsome salaries and benefits. The taxpayer will get stiffed, again!

  23. I see this report as nothing more than another propaganda sermon against the demon CO2. Where is the proof that CO2 causes the climate to warm?

  24. Very first sentence Renewable energy holds the promise of reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

    But why would we want to reduce CO2 emissions that are now shown NOT to cause any dangerous changes in climate but CO2 emissions ARE shown to increase the ability of plants to cope with heat and drought stress leading to greening the deserts and better agricultural yields. All these low CO2 output technologies should be banned while there is hunger in the world.

  25. DGP you write “Futhermore, if in fact solar and wind actually produced more than was needed, it would just be a simple matter of turning down the back up fossil or nuclear plant that are always required.”

    I dont think you realise the fundamental problem with wnd and solar, which the article does no mention. This is a very simplistic explanation. Power from wind is proportional to the cube of the wind velocity. Unless you are in a desert, solar power varies with the amount of cloud cover. Both these mean that the power from renewables is extremely variable. Power grids need to be stable. In the usual way, if renewables are more than 15% of the generating capacity, the grid becomes unstable. With things like hot fired natural gas generators, these can be used to stabilize the grid up to about 20% of renewables. So, in general, 80% + of the power in the grid must come from things like coal, gas, hydro, or nuclear. Which means that if you take all the power being generated by the renewables, at times of low demand, this becomes the factor that determines the minimum power you must generate.

    So it is not “a simple matter of turning down the back up fossil or nuclear plant that are always required.”

  26. MIke (UK) says:
    September 9, 2013 at 10:22 am

    Many years ago I read that raising a weight was an almost perfect way to store energy, a bit like a grandfather clock. Might sound daft but surely some sort of clockwork mechanism might work without having to use costly batteries at all, these things [wind turbines] are very tall.

    Right—and the weight could be raised inside the pole. It could even rest below ground level, at the pole’s buried base.

  27. Obviously, greenies won’t accept flooding a valley to make a reservoir either. But since they object to whatever is proposed even if it’s renewable and “low carbon” bio-degrable and the rest, what they think ceases to weigh one way or the other. It’s always Nein Danke.

  28. The fundamental problem with this study, interesting and useful as it is, is that it is based on two unsupportable assumptions:
    1) Burning fossil fuels releases CO2 in quantities which are solely responsible for changing the climate
    2) That using Industrial Wind and Solar power reduces CO2 emissions by displacing fossil fuel consumption.

    Since neither of these 2 assumptions are valid, the conclusions reached by this article must be considered very carefully before any credence can be given to them,

    The main problem (other than the whole AGW thing) is that storage, even if feasible, cannot eliminate the need for conventional generation to back up the ‘unreliables’ when the wind doesn’t blow and/or the sun doesn’t shine. Wind power here in Ontario spends 47.5% of the time producing less than 15% of nameplate capacity. You lose power when storing it & releasing it, whether from batteries or pumped hydro. So instead of 15% average capacity you are only looking at 7% or less, which means more conventional generation to back them up…

    This doesn’t even consider the huge variability of wind output which requires conventional generation to ‘smooth’ it out.

    This is just more green Pixie dust and unicorn horns, similar to what you get out of a bull on spring pasture.

    As for the effects of Wind turbines, regionally they have a similar effect as the global warming they are supposed to be saving us from, see the following references from a recent submission we made to the Environmental Bill of Rights Registry:
    11- Impacts of wind farms on surface air temperatures, Somnath Baidya Roy,1 and Justin J. Traiteur, PNAS, http://www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1000493107, 2010
    12- Can large wind farms affect local meteorology?, S. Baidya Roy and S. W. Pacala, Journal of Geophysical Research, VOL. 109, D19101, doi:10.1029/2004JD004763, 2004
    13- Baidya Roy, S., Simulating impacts of wind farms on local hydro meteorology. J. Wind Eng. Ind. Aerodyn. (2011), doi:10.1016/j.jweia.2010.12.013

  29. Some earlier comments on the “super-battery concept.

    Still not a fan of grid-connected wind power.

    Regards, Allan

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/02/16/wind-power-plug-pulled-in-illinois/

    Sabastian says: February 18, 2012 at 7:14 am
    RE: Allan MacRae: If we ever develop a “super-battery”

    The “Super battery” like fusion is a fanciful illusion. Batteries have been around for 150 years. Plot watts per pound and watts per dollar, and you will discover that the rate of technical progress is very slow. Because of huge demand for mobile devices (not including autos), the rate of progress has moved up recently. But extrapolation of the plot shows it will be many decades before an electric car has the range and price point of a gas vehicle.
    ___________

    Sebastian, your comment seems inappropriate in tone and context, as if I were a big fan of wind power (I’m not) and had great hopes for a “super-battery” (I don’t).

    Furthermore, you say: “But extrapolation of the plot shows it will be many decades before an electric car has the range and price point of a gas vehicle.”

    Electric cars are now appearing in the marketplace, and they may succeed or fail, but there is no need for them to have the same range as a gas vehicle – most people seldom use the full range of their gasoline vehicles, instead using their cars almost exclusively for short daily commutes to and from work.

    The key to using all these electric cars in a ‘super-battery” is that this application is essentially free (secondary use of the resource), which means that your economic argument about the high cost of batteries does not have much traction.

    I still see great practical obstacles for the “super-battery” concept, and I use the term broadly, to include batteries, capacitors, recycled hydroelectric power, or whatever, and I doubt that a super-battery will become a practical reality in the next twenty years.

    In conclusion:

    Wind power is still an energy dog. I wrote this conclusion, with confidence, in newspaper articles in 2002 and 2003. A decade later, this energy dog still has fleas. Even if we overcome the fatal flaws of wind power’s highly intermittent power generation profile through the use of a “super-battery”, there is still the serious problem of bird and bat kill.

    Grid-connected wind power is uneconomic and anti-environmental.

    Let me repeat yet again, for those who missed it:

    “Wind power – it doesn’t just blow – it sucks!”

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/12/14/wind-energy-subsidies-to-be-discussed-in-senate-todayopportunity-for-input/#comment-831871

    I have studied this subject for decades and I agree with the above guest post by John Droz.

    Any energy technology that requires life-of-project subsidies is fundamentally uneconomic and anti-environmental. To date, this includes corn ethanol, some biodiesel, and grid-connected wind and solar power.

    Technological improvements could hypothetically improve some of these renewable energy schemes over time, but most are already technologically mature.

    A super-battery, consisting of millions of electric cars plugged into the grid, could significantly improve the economics of wind and solar power.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/01/10/polar-sea-ice-changes-are-having-a-net-cooling-effect-on-the-climate/#comment-72001

    [excerpt]

    Storage of electricity is much easier said than done.

    One interesting idea for electricity storage is a “super battery”, consisting of many plugged-in electric cars. This should be possible in a decade or two.

    Wind power is supposed to work well in conjunction with (excess) hydro power, but I have not seen this clearly demonstrated.

    I have studied this subject and in conclusion I am yet not a fan of wind power.

    Regards, Allan

  30. In the conditions of a UK winter, rechargeable batteries perform very poorly. That is why military (e.g. countermine) people use the more expensive non-rechargeacle batteries.

  31. Wind farms and solar farms, suck up 9,500 Sq Mi, of land area…A coal mine that produces more energy uses 85 Sq Mi. And they whine about pumped storage, reservoirs using up space ….

    Of course compressed air in salt mines has been tried…Still being used…
    There are only two working compressed-air facilities today, in Germany and the U.S. Essen-based RWE is developing its own technology and hopes to build a demonstration project in central Germany in 2016.

    http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-08-27/ski-lifts-help-open-25-billion-market-for-storing-power-energy

    The lifting weights idea. uses trains on a slope…

  32. Wind farms and solar farms, suck up 9,500 Sq Mi, of land area…A coal mine that produces more energy uses 85 Sq Mi. And they whine about pumped storage, reservoirs using up space ….

    Of course compressed air in salt mines has been tried…Still being used…
    There are only two working compressed-air facilities today, in Germany and the U.S. Essen-based RWE is developing its own technology and hopes to build a demonstration project in central Germany in 2016.

    http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-08-27/ski-lifts-help-open-25-billion-market-for-storing-power-energy

    The lifting weights idea. uses trains on a slope…

  33. richardscourtney says: @ September 9, 2013 at 10:28 am

    The article also reports

    Using that formula, the researchers found that the amount of energy required to create a solar farm is comparable to the energy used to build each of the five battery technologies.
    Using batteries to store solar power during periods of low demand would, therefore, be energetically favorable,

    Dale said.

    In other words, the energy required to build a solar farm is approximately doubled by use of the putative battery storeage.

    Barnhart said.

    In either case, the result is a reduction in the overall energy return on investment.

    Have these people never heard of money?!

    Nobody cares about the “energy return on investment”.
    Everybody cares if the monetary return on investment is increased because their electricity bills go up.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Yes, You keep hearing

    “Both wind turbines and photovoltaics deliver more energy than it takes to build and maintain them,” said GCEP postdoctoral scholar Michael Dale, a co-author of the study. “However, our calculations showed that the overall energetic cost of wind turbines is much lower than conventional solar panels, which require lots of energy, primarily from fossil fuels, for processing silicon and fabricating other components.”

    However those calculations are always subject to lots of fudge factors.
    Charles S. Opalek, PE, did the calculations for Windpower and then wrote the book WIND POWER FRAUD: WHY WIND WON’T WORK “Wind turbines have an embarrassingly low Energy Returned On Energy Invested value of 0.29. The manufacture, installation and operation of wind power facilities will consume more than 3 times the energy they will ever produce.”

    Energy Return Ratio
    …From an energy perspective, we must form a more complete picture of the technological picture. To date, we have only focused on operational energy but there can be extremely high embodied energy costs as well. Most technological solutions depend on advanced scientific materials that come out of research labs. There are currently 2 types of products that can provide technological solutions:
    semiconductor (including nanotechnology)
    biological/genetic solutions
    Both of these have serious issues that need to be dealt with before they can be sustainably employed on a massive scale.

    Semiconductors are notorious for the amount of energy required to produce them. The manufacturing process can take up to 400 steps, use highly toxic materials and a vast amount of energy. As we shall see below, one of the dirty secrets of Solar and Wind is the vast amounts of energy used to make them, use of exotic raw materials and toxic waste.
    Embodied energy of semiconductors
    Exotic raw materials – The Rare Earth Metals
    Toxic ingredients and E-Waste

  34. You know the sign that says, “It’s happy hour somewhere”? If you really want to make solar and wind power work, instead of storing it — expand where you transmit the power. I guarantee that it is peak energy demand SOMEWHERE on this planet, no matter what the demand is where you are. Of course, it may not be economically feasible to build a worldwide power grid.

  35. How about springs? Or massive weights hanging from the windmills on steel cables — like a grandfather clock. Or an inclined track on the side of a mountain with railroad cars full of lead. Or they could sink huge tanks deep in the ocean, use excess electricity to pump them full of air (displacing the water) and when needed, allow them to rise to the surface pulling a cable connected to generators on the seabed. The mind boggles at the possibilities.

  36. Greg Goodman says:
    September 9, 2013 at 10:40 am

    Apparently the turn around efficiency of pumped water storage is surprisingly good when done on a large scale.

    About 80%, depending on a lot a factors. Pumped hydro is by far the best developed of any grid-scale energy storage technology, but favorable locations are relatively rare. It’s only economical if natural terrain provides most of the containment walls for you.

    Take Hoover Dam as an example. Lake Mead contains 35,200 km^3 of water with a surface area of 640 km^2. Yet the actual constructed dam is 221 meters high by 379 meters long — a tiny fraction of the total containment wall creating the reservoir.

  37. Has anyone considered using excess electricity for electrolysis of water? This might come in handy once, or perhaps if hydrogen fuel cells become commonplace. A person could have a solar array at their house that would spend the day generating hydrogen while the user is at work. You could fill your car in the evening, andbe ready for the next day. This would eliminate the cost of batteries, mining zinc, lead and the environmental impacts associated with mining activities. Certainly there would be a need for safe storage of hydrogen, but I think that expense would be comparable to the cost of batteries.

    Any thoughts?

  38. Greg Goodman, I urge you to reread the article, it covered pumped hydro.

    They note one challenge is location.

  39. This analysis puzzles me. The battery storage has a certain capital cost, whether used with windmills or solar panels. Their claim that battery storage would be economically beneficial for solar panels, but not windmills, seems to assume that the absence of the battery storage would be made up for by building more of the panels or mills, and that because panels, but not mills, are more expensive than batteries, battery backup is justified only for panels. By that analysis, if there were a completely free (i.e., no capital investment), but intermittent, source of energy that was available only at low-demand times, it would not be worthwhile investing in batteries to store it for use in high-demand times. It seems to me that they are not taking into account that the need for the energy storage is just that the vagaries of wind and periodic nature of solar preclude electric generation at some times, and neither would satisfy demand without either storage or alternative generation.

  40. You’re all missing the real answer, which of course I came up with in seconds. All we need is a mainspring the size of Wyoming…why, hardly anyone lives there anyway…and then we wind it up using solar and wind power… ;)

  41. Been There, Done That.
    See: WUWT: Getting Energy From The Energy Store, June 29, 2013.

    The key concept is that one safe storage of electrical energy is a ton of coal.
    coal with 40% energy conversion = 2.68 KWH / kg coal to elec generation
    Burn it when you need it. True, ou can only burn the ton once, but it is sooooo much cheaper than recharge facilities.

    for 1.5 GW-day.
    $90 Billion dollars of Li-ion batteries, or
    $0.00045 Billion dollars of delivered coal.

    From: Cost of Li-Ion vs Coal
    Li-Ion cost (June 30, 2013)
    Electrical energy “stored” in one coal unit train

  42. This study has some glaring problems just based on the Stanford PR blurb.

    First problem- “Lead-acid batteries only last about 700 cycles.”

    Depends on what battery design, and the depth of the cycle.
    Deep cycle AGM batteries typically give 3000 cycles at 30% depth of discharge.
    Deep cycle flooded batteries typically give 4500 cycles at 30% depth of discharge.
    Utility grade flooded batteries give 20 year design life and 1200 cycles at 80% depth of discharge.

    Maximum number of cycles is usually specified as the point where the capacity of the battery has dropped to 80% or 70% of initial capacity.

    Second problem- “Conventional lithium-ion batteries last about four years, or 6,000 charge-discharge cycles.”

    Aside from the obvious question of why you would even consider a high Joule/kg battery for a stationary application where weight doesn’t matter, it depends on technology and depth of cycle, once again.
    A top tier lithium ion battery lasts 2000 – 2500 cycles at 25% depth of discharge.
    This is actually inferior to deep cycle lead acid batteries, both in cycles and lifetime expected. There are constant new research results with great promise, and lots of claims flying around on improved lithium ion designs. So, these numbers will improve.

    A utility-scale battery storage facility will be a climate-controlled building complex (or underground?) with O&M procedures in place to maximize battery life and recycle everything.
    A 20 year battery life with well over 4,000 (30%) cycles should be routine.

  43. “If economics is the sole focus, then less expensive technologies that require significant amounts of energy for their manufacture, maintenance and replacement might win out.…”
    Quelle horreur – we might end up producing even cheaper electricity if we’re not careful.

  44. One of the issues with wind and solar is that it directly generates DC, which has to be inverted to AC for use in the grid. (As a relevant aside, my solar grid was switched on for a test today, I have now saved the world 3 kwh so far.)

    Rather than create DC, convert to AC, and feed the grid a highly variable supply of energy, necessitating curtailment and other measures, why not use the DC to power pumps and go direct to pumped hydro? Obviously dependent on location, but would solve a couple problems at once, the cost of the inverter, and the challenge of the variable rate.

    See http://www.inference.phy.cam.ac.uk/sustainable/refs/tide/WindPumpedStor.pdf for a related project in the Canary Islands

  45. And nowhere is the CellCube mentioned at all??? Amazing that so many people are unaware of this existing technology that solves the energy storage problem. In production for 3 years now.

  46. “…there are times when solar and wind farms generate more electricity than is needed by consumers…”

    Anthony, here is your quote of the week. This is the most ridiculous, dishonest statement I’ve seen on wind and solar power. Wind especially. Its best is about 15% of rated capacity. This is putting a positive spin on the statement that they generate power only when the wind blows plus it often blows when you don’t need the power – the “times” for all practical and economic purposes when it is not needed is 100% of the time..

  47. Too many IFs!
    If the assumption was right that release of carbon-dioxide “contributes significantly”! to global warming…….(with no global warming in sight!)
    If batteries weren’t too expensive for grid-scale storage! (They didn’t even touch the point how much 1KWh of the surplus energy would cost, if stored in batteries with, let’s say, 6 hours capacity!)
    If,if,if……. if my aunt had eggs, she would be my uncle!

  48. “Dave says:
    September 9, 2013 at 11:19 am

    Has anyone considered using excess electricity for electrolysis of water? This might come in handy once, or perhaps if hydrogen fuel cells become commonplace.”

    Good Idea but fails on several fronts Dave:
    Storage of Hydrogen, difficult and expensive/requires large volume and high pressures and special materials.
    Fuel cells are two orders of magnitude the cost of traditional power plants.
    Fuel cell stacks are costly to maintain and have fairly short life spans.

    Chris.

  49. The BESET strategy is when used with hydro-electric dams. When there is excess wind electricity, you let dam water levels move higher (and use the wind power), and vice versa. No loss in efficiency. Obviously, it also means that wind power can only be a complementary source of power (not reliable, and can`t be greater -meaning more of – than hydro power). This is the strategy Hydro Quebec uses. With the majority of energy produced by hydro-electric dams, integrating wind is easy. Drawback is that wind is A LOT more expensive than hydro, and is added to the mix to make a specific group happy.

  50. The notion that that any chemical battery in use today is the answer for large-scale environmentally friendly storage is absurd. Pumping water to a height or even using the excess to split water, Iceland-style, has to be better.

  51. The write up says Li batteries last 6K cycles. I will dispute this because there are at least a dozen differing chemistries of this type of cell all with different lives and densities.
    They also last far longer if the duty cycle is less than 100%. Kept at a constant room temperature. We’re talking about 25,000+ cycles for LiFePo4’s here!

    Also Sun comes around the highest demand times and wind is used as a load balancer anyway.
    The best man in the game are high level pumped reservoirs. AKA “Electric Mountain”, North Wales.

    Electric cars can be used as home load balancers if the day/night costing rates have a large enough difference.

  52. Did they factor in the high costs of the toxic heavy-metal cleanup associated with lead, zinc, etc.???
    Did they factor in the number of deaths associated with the mining, manufacturing and disposal of those same heavy-metal items?

  53. @Greg Goodman at 10:51 am
    Cruachan Dam: capable of generating 440 MW of electricity. It can go from standby to full production in two minutes,

    Read on from the Wiki:

    It can operate for 22 hours before the supply of water in the top reservoir is exhausted. The power station is required to keep a 12 hour emergency supply; this is referred to as a Black Start.

    So, it can really only operate for 10 hrs as pumped storage. 12 hrs are “break glass in case of emergency.”
    10 hrs at 440 MW is 0.2 of a GW-day. A fifth of a coal unit train; 20 cars.

    That’s the problem with pumped storage. Good energy efficiency and response, but the electrical energy capacity you store is frustratingly low for the land it consumes.

  54. “The Stanford team looked at several emerging technologies, including five battery types – lead-acid, lithium-ion, sodium-sulfur, vanadium-redox and zinc-bromine.”

    Since when are lead-acid batteries an emerging technology?

  55. “Batteries with high energetic cost consume more fossil fuels and therefore release more carbon dioxide over their lifetime.”

    These people really do live in a world all their own. God forbid they should ever be put in charge of our planet.

  56. Here is a zinc-air that produces two times the energy of a lithium-ion battery at a third of the cost,

    http://cleantechnica.com/2013/09/09/zinc-air-battery-company-claims-novel-electrolyte-will-do-the-trick-ct-exclusive/

    “If we build an electric vehicle with a 500-mile battery, with 500 recharges, that’s 250,000 road miles, so we’re looking at it that way. Five hundred cycles is a reasonable customer expectation,”

    Another company, Eos has deployed a grid sized prototype that claims to have a 10,000 true (full discharge) cycles battery, or about 30 years, with a cost of 1000/kW and $160/kW-hr.
    Eos also has a Zinc-air battery the size of a washing machine that will hold 1 MW and can handle up to 5,000 charge cycles and last 25 years.

    http://www.elp.com/articles/2013/07/eos-energy-storage-develops-1-mw-battery-storage-device.html.

    Look at it this way, couple a good zinc-air battery with a matched PV array and you can lock in your energy costs for 25 years – better than investing in Government bonds.

  57. There is a very efficient pumped storage strategy that could use surplus grid energy:
    Ice Storage Air Conditioning. (Wikipedia)

    You run refrigerators to freeze a volume of water when rates are cheap or surplus. You use the ice to chill the air in your air conditioning units during the day.

    One metric ton of water (one cubic meter) can store
    334 million joules (MJ) = 317,000 BTUs = 93kWh

    If we consider the energy I would get by lifting it to a higher altitude instead of freezing it, how high must I lift that ton of water to store the same energy?
    Enthalpy of Fusion (ice) = 334000 J/kg
    Enthalpy of Fusion (ice) = 334000 m^2/sec^2
    If PotEnergy = mass * g * height
    and g = 9.8 m/sec^2
    height = PE / (m * g) = 34082 m

    Freezing a ton of water stores the same energy as lifting it 34 KILOMETERS in the sky. Best of all, the water doesn’t go anywhere. It can be in the basement of a city’s office buildings. It can be close to where you need it. You don’t need to flood valleys miles away.

    The only drawback is that it doesn’t store electricity per se. It stores the ice made with surplus electricity. It time-shifts refrigeration from times of excess power to times where you need to cool things off. But Air Conditioning is such a huge use of electricity, the time-shift of electrical supply to demand is cost effective and energy efficient.

    (Discussed Jun 30, 2013 12:04 in WUWT …The Energy Store

  58. A simple solution: Place a pulley around the wind turbine hub with a long wire to the ground. Attach an electric car to said wire. Fill car with as many climate scientists as possible for added weight. When the wind blows, car is raised to the top of the turbine tower thus slowing it and reducing output. When the wind stops the weight of the car plus scientists keeps the blades turning as it falls, Result…constant output for the turbine and an actual purpose for the otherwise completely useless climate scientists and electric cars. Now if we could only find a use for the hot air emanating from the scientists and the excreta as they s-hit themselves on the way down…

  59. Many really excellent comments posted here. The common sense of WUWT readers easily trumps this “PhD” article. For example:

    Richard111 says:

    “I see this report as nothing more than another propaganda sermon against the demon CO2. Where is the proof that CO2 causes the climate to warm?”

    That’s it in a nutshell. There is no proof. There is not even any credible evidence that CO2 causes global warming. There is no scientific evidence that the small portion of human-emitted CO2 makes any discernible difference in global temperatures.

    The whole “carbon” scare is a scam on the taxpaying public.

  60. “DGP says:
    September 9, 2013 at 10:33 am

    I don’t accept the initial premise of this paper that ‘there are times when solar and wind farms generate more electricity than is needed by consumers.” Also, I see no mention of the power lost in the conversion from AC to DC and back again (inverters).

    Furthermore, if in fact solar and wind actually produced more than was needed, it would just be a simple matter of turning down the back up fossil or nuclear plant that are always required.”

    Already happening in Germany, and causing lots of problems:

    http://notrickszone.com/2013/09/05/handlesblatt-calls-germanys-feed-in-act-energy-madness-large-consumers-are-paid-to-waste/

    Additionally I would remind you that it is NOT “just a simple matter of turning down the back up fossil or nuclear plant that are always required”. Nuclear is very slow to respond and normally runs at maximum output. Large Coal plants are also difficult to vary rapidly. CCGT can be wound down reasonably quickly, but this reduces the efficiency. OCGT’s are about the only suitable source of fast responding fossil fuelled power, but have poor efficiency. And in any case the service life and reliability of large boilers and turbines quickly drops with frequent thermal cycling. In conventional grids this can largely be avoided as the demand, and timing, is very predictable. Once you start adding wildly variable sources of supply (and give them priority access) the situation changes completely.

  61. Coal energy comes from the coulomb bonds between electrons and the nucleus in atoms. Nuclear energy comes from the nuclear forces between particles in the nucleus which are MUCH MUCH stronger and, like stronger springs, can release a great deal more energy. We ought to be working full steam ahead on all forms of nuclear, since when the Holocene ends, we are probably going to need it.
    It is a finite resource, but then, so is the human life form. Humanity will end or evolve eventually.

    For the present, the sensible, technologically sound and solved solution to carbon alarm is, of course, contraception. But you never never hear the envirozealots talk about that.

  62. The other Phil:

    Your post at September 9, 2013 at 12:17 pm says in total

    I’ve always been enamored of the possibility of flywheels—not the clunky, iron ones but vacuum sealed carbon fiber flywheels. Unfortunately, they haven’t yet been good enough, but some recent news is promising:
    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=new-flywheel-design

    I’ve always been frightened that some idiot may try to build flywheels for storing electricity supply.

    The UK generates electricity to the energy equivalent of ~30 Hiroshima atom bombs per day.

    Storing a third of that in flywheels would be a major disaster waiting to happen.

    Richard

  63. Hmmmm…. started thinking about the battery farm they would have to create (every seen an inline UPS?) With that size, and it was Li-ion, one lightning strike is going to be a really big show.

  64. Hydro pumped storage here:

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

    Get a satellite view and note the size of the reservoir behind the dam versus the circular storage area. Pronunciation is Kin-zoo; not Kin-zoo-a.
    ~~~

    Dave says:
    September 9, 2013 at 11:19 am

    Any thoughts?” – about Hydrogen

    Hydrogen is not friendly. Search on the topic using the word embrittlement. Having hundreds of thousands of Hydrogen generators connected to an equal number of (or multiple) storage devices would likely cause a reduction in the total population.

  65. Dave, In reply to “any thoughts”; I would have thought that householders generating their own hydrogen and filling their own vehicles with it would bring with it the need for society to expand a number of services. Double the size of the nations fire brigade, treble the number of specialised burns units in hospitals, and increase mortuaries, cemeteries etc by perhaps 10%.

    Hydrogen is dangerous stuff, including burning with an invisible flame, I read somewhere.

  66. A massive problem with these energy storage schemes is the length of time they would have to be able to yield full power output during prolonged periods of calm or cloudy weather over a large area.

    Blocking high pressure systems can last for weeks Anthony’s piece on the Russian heat wave of 2010 – http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/08/19/noaa-on-the-russian-heat-wave-blocking-high/ – has information on the frequency and duration of blocking highs. Two weeks electrical storage for the whole of Western Russia – suggestions anybody?

  67. Most countries don’t have enough water in some locations, but have ample water elsewhere. Despite Greenie objections we will build national and even continental scale water distribution systems. Such systems could also function as pumped hydro storage systems.

    Use intermittent solar and wind to pump water up over hills/mountains then harvest the energy used on the other side when electricity is needed. The big advantage of such an approach is that transporting water isn’t time critical, as reservoirs along the way buffer supply to demand for periods of days to months.

  68. Batteries, storage. Oh, yes, this is the problem with renewables such as solar and wind. Fact of the matter is that no one has come close to solving this problem in a cost effective way. That is why there has to be another form of base electricity production, something many renewable promoters too easily forget.

  69. The best storage for wind energy is by leaving the material used to build those windmills in the ground and using the money to build much more efficient forms of energy production on much less space instead.

  70. CellCube is vanadium redox as far as I can tell. If were really that good (ditto other great technologies) lots of outfits would sell them. Hype and reality often differ.
    Compressed air and flywheels have a major drawback: catastrophic failure. OK if nothing goes wrong, best not to be nearby if something does.
    Compressed air has another gotcha: Boyle’s Law. Air gets hot when you compress it. Either need good insulation, or give up a bunch of energy.

    Then there is the shredded tweet problem …

  71. @richardscourtney: Sure they consider economics in these pipe dreams. I’m sure, if you asked, you would receive superior economic benefits from controlling the climate and preventing the earth’s fevor to burn it to a cinder when compared to today’s costs. It’s easy, what number do you want?
    Some observations/questions: 1. Peak electricty demands in the PJM area (east coat VA/MD/PA/NJ and west to MI) in winter are roughly 5-7AM and 5-7PM, when there is little sun and little wind. Summer is 10AM-10PM. Wind and solar aren’t very practical for over half the year because you need other capacity at peak. BTW: go live in western MI and see how many days of sun you get for the 6 cold months.I had a passive solar on a house in Kalamazoo. Worked great all three days in the winter we had sunshine. :)
    2. How many tons of battery per gigawatt does it take to store all this “zero cost” renewable? What’s the price of raw materials when we start sucking these materials out of the market?
    3. Don’t you need two lakes for hydro? If not, where does the water come from? If it would be darn near impossible to build one dam and artificial lake, how about 2 in tandem?
    4. If batteries don’t work well in the winter in the UK, you ought to try them in the northern half of the US, Canada and AK.
    Engineering details that could be overcome if there were no reasonable, less expensive alternative supplies.

    Under any rational examination economics kills these ideas. I wonder when we will be rational.

  72. I can see where wind would not be worth storing … it doesn’t make sense to try and charge a battery bank with a source that is not capable of charging the battery bank. You’d just waste a bunch of money building the battery bank.

  73. “Likewise, it’s not sensible to build energetically expensive batteries for an energetically cheap resource like wind, but it does make sense for photovoltaic systems, which require lots of energy to produce.”

    Ehhhhh? Only in a grant-driven world. Sorry, it’s totally the other way round. With expensively-generated energy, you’d better try to sell it directly. With cheap energy, you can afford to lose a bit in the accumulation cycle.

  74. Jim Cripwell

    So it is not “a simple matter of turning down the back up fossil or nuclear plant that are always required.”

    Having personally operated power generating steam turbines I assure you that it is. These machines can rapidly respond to changes. Especially the gas-turbine and nuclear plants. However, the nuclear plants are somewhat limited by regulations. Every time a load is started, an adjustment is made automatically. You just don’t notice it.

    There are limits of course, but the small gradual transients that solar and wind are likely to provide are better accomadated than the large transients of say, losing a large baseload plant.

  75. It seems like they could build a natural gas plant next to a wind farm and use excess wind energy to preheat water for the boilers so they could use less gas. This probably would not make wind really useful but might nudge it closer.
    But since ‘green’ energy is really about passing money to politicians cronies and throttling our economy any thing that might make it more practical will never happen and if it did happen the ‘environmentalists’ would suddenly find all the eagle and other bird deaths that they currently ignore to be a problem and would lobby against wind power.

  76. dave ward

    That article says that buyers are incentivised to consume all the wind and solar power that is created. When it was too much they did exactly what I suggested. Shut down or turned down the conventional sources. No mention of the use of batteries.

    Also, nuclear is only slow to respond because of procedural limitiations brought on by government regulations. Many of the ones in the US were originally desinged to be peaking plants, but are now used as base load. Trust me, when the “All-Ahead Flank” speed was rung up on the Los Angeles class submarine I drove, it changed power very rapidly. From an engineering standpoint, the only thing faster than nuclear is the gas-turbine

  77. I applaud any study of “energy storage” costs associated with solar and wind because it highlights the question that never seems to get asked: “What is the true cost of solar and wind power?” As things currently stand, declining costs of photovoltaic cells are daily trumpeted as evidence of solar’s eventual “cost competitiveness”. What is never included in those costs is the current capital expense of all that “spinning reserve” generation capacity that must stand by to pick up the slack “when the wind don’t blow and the sun don’t shine”.

    When a battery storage system comes along that is more cost-efficient than a simple, natural gas combustion turbine and associated fuel bill, then you’ll have a “breakthrough”. Until that time, the cost of that stand-by turbine and its fuel bill should be included in the true cost of wind and solar.

  78. What about storing the solar energy as low, less than 100c, temperature heat. Use my thermodynamic cycle, gravity, rankine, and my latent heat extracting sealed turbine. Efficiency beyond 80%, sealed environmentally friendly.

    A single acre, 100 feet deep, can store 5 megawatts of heat with only a 40c temperature rise.

    Jerome Lurtz, patents, on the web.

  79. So it is now triple the cost. Brilliant. Fails the CFS test.

    Build wind & solar because it is a good greenie thing to do. Then build a full capacity hydrocarbon powered system to use as base load and because people actually expect their lights to go on when they flick the switch.

    Now they want to spend even more money to build a storage system because wind power produces electricity most often when it is not required and we don’t want to waste it.

    Only professors with a panoramic view from an Ivory Tower and with a regular taxpayer supplied paycheck would think that is a good idea. The rest of the us can stop laughing now.

    Because you can be smart enough to work in a university to avoid the reality everyone else lives in.

    Common.
    Frikin
    Sense.

    CFS.

  80. CHRIS Y. at 11.27 am – We don’t know the battery duty cycle/cycle life on which the study based its conclusions, but as the dominant cost component of large batteries is the cost of the active materials, a system that extends battery life by limiting the depth of discharge to 30% of capacity would almost certainly be prohibitively expensive. IMHO battery storage of any type is a non starter for this application.

  81. 1) Shift thermal usage (water heaters, boilers, and air conditioners)
    2)Build better pricing signals for high energy industries (smelting, desalination)
    3)Integrate some backup (2 days maximum, some combination of pumped hydro, gravity trains, compressed air, liquefied air. and thermal storage, max 1 hour battery backup)
    4) Use the 5% of US electricity supply that is conventional hydro to flatten supply
    5)Expand interties between regional grids easing transport of renewables from one grid to another
    6)Expand hydro using in place dams that do not have generators in place
    These together will go a long way to building a reliable network that can provide more than 20% of electricity need. The system would give a long lead time (minimum 1 week) to prep slower cycle thermal plants to turn on and off in case of a protracted downturn. This way if the storage starts to drop you turn on slower systems to stabilize the grid and rebuild the backup.

  82. As for FLYWHEELS, the best way to store energy in them on this scale is to build them from timber and burn them!

  83. Wow, yeah! Let’s use crappy inefficient part-time sources of electricity and then store the electricity in crappy inefficient short-lived batteries before we get to use it. That’ll really improve things!

    /sarc <–Do I need this?

  84. ddPalmer says

    “Solar panels absorb energy that would have been absorbed by the earth and buildings which would have then been re-radiated back to the sky. But if absorbed and converted to electricity it isn’t re-radiated, or at least isn’t immediately re-radiated. Wouldn’t a large number of solar farms cause an imbalance in the downwelling and upwelling solar radiation? Aren’t greenhouse gasses supposed to be bad because they cause just such an imbalance? What might be the effect on global temperatures if there are lots of solar farms in operation?”

    Good point, I agree and have raised this same question before and never got a satisfactory answer since the consumption of all energy ends up as heat.
    What you indicate is exactly correct, especially if someone installed solar collectors above our clouds, etc., since energy would be brought into earth that would never arrive in the first place.
    Of course if we take energy stored as carbon and/or hydrogen and burn it or transform Uranium to electricity we are also generating heat that needs to be radiated to the universe in order to the earth in heat balance.

    I tend to agree with Roy Spenser in his book “global warming blunder” which proposes that the earth tends to regulate it’s temperature naturally since the system is much more complicated that the simple minded CO2 theory.

  85. Re: Old’un says:
    September 9, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    “As for FLYWHEELS, the best way to store energy in them on this scale is to build them from timber and burn them!”

    Here, here! Best idea of the day!

  86. “Energy Return on Investment”?
    I will advice all not to make any of their real-world investments on this kind of analysis. A joule wasted is as joule wasted in my book, be it solar, wind or coal. Not that i ever heard of someone calculating the “Energy return on Investment” for battery storage of coal Power, much less installing it. Except for Hydro Power this is the achillevs heel of renewables and i hope Barnhart will redo his analysis with a more useful parameter like (monetary) “Return on Investment”.

  87. @Clayton E. Cramer

    … expand where you transmit the power. I guarantee that it is peak energy demand SOMEWHERE on this planet, no matter what the demand is where you are. Of course, it may not be economically feasible to build a worldwide power grid…

    It’s quite economical to build a grid all around the world. In fact, it would cost very little (as giant world-wide projects go). Because it’s actually been done. Each country (speaking generally) has a grid.

    Unfortunately, like fine wines, electricity doesn’t travel very well. Inductive resistance (I2R losses) mean that you start losing a lot of electricity. It is UK practice not to pass electricity over 100Km through standard lines. You can build special high voltage DC lines which lose less energy – they go about 2000km. But it would be very expensive to build a network of those unless there was a guaranteed continuous electric flow, and your proposal does not seem to cover that…

  88. No one has mentioned the reason why 4 of the 5 chemical battery systems in the study cannot be used for baseload storage.

    There isn’t enough lithium, lead, zinc, bromine and vanadium in the world for that level of usage.

    For example current world lithium production, if used exclusively for lithium based electric car batteries would allow about 2 million cars to be built. The US alone purchases something like 8-13 million new cars per year. Even with a massive and highly efficient recycling program there would never be enough.

    Energy storage for an economy wide transformation to base load solar would be much larger.

    As soon as anyone tried to actually deploy some of these battery systems widely the inevitable would happen: the prices would go up explosively. In 2010 as wind energy really started to boom the price of neodymium went up by a factor of 10 within a year, as it went into shortage. And wind turbines only use a tonne or so of Nd each.

    The only possible system which makes any sense at all is sodium-sulfur, because these two elements are abundant and aren’t likely to be very price sensitive in the long term. But even they can swing massively in price over the shorter term as the market swings between surplus and deficit. It takes a long time, and lots of capital, for production plants to be built.

    There is plenty of sodium and sulfur in seawater…but for the sulfur, which is present as sulfate ions, to be useful it has to be chemically reduced to a low oxidation state first. And the only practical way to do that is to use…coal.

  89. @J Martin Hydrogen is dangerous stuff, including burning with an invisible flame
    Pale blue, nearly invisible.
    If you can see the color of the flame, consider yourself luck — you avoided the explosion.
    Hydrogen is dangerous stuff. It explodes under a huge range of air mixtures, unlike methane.

    Here is a question for others. With Methane, or specifically household natural gas, we include tert-butyl mercaptan as a safety smell. For household applications for hydrogen, leaving it oderless would seem to be irresponsible, judging by natural gas standard handling.

    The generation of hydrogen in household generators, would then need to add in a safety chemical, a problem of practicality. But I have to ask, Does a safety chemical added to hydrogen poison fuel cells? More specifally, can we find a safe safety chemical that won’t poison fuel cells that is affordable and can pass EPA global warming / ozone requirements?

  90. I have an acquaintance who is a VP for operations at a company that installs power storage systems in China. Lithium batteries are prone to fires, and they have since switched entirely over to lead acid batteries, despite hazmat issues and relatively short life cycles. It’s still an awful solution and he admits it – but the Chinese are willing to pay.

  91. When you plough through all Barnhart’s B.S. there is a simple answer.
    It doesn’t work. Period.

    “Renewables” need to be stored in the Dustbin of History.

  92. @Bruce of Newcastle at 2:54 pm
    No one has mentioned the reason why 4 of the 5 chemical battery systems in the study cannot be used for baseload storage.
    There isn’t enough lithium, lead, zinc, bromine and vanadium in the world for that level of usage.

    I’m in full agreement. Almost… It has been talked before: A Scott June 30, 2013 at 3:44 pm talked about USGS Lead reserves.

    It should be recognized that as demand for a material raises its price and expand efforts to add reserves. But, let’s also recognize that just to store one week’s worth of electricity, we need a thousand times more lead than what is currently in reserves.

    Our current reserves of lead converted into national batteries might then run the country for 1/1000 of a week or about 9 minutes.

    There is, however, another material that can be mined that will give the nation hundreds of years of stored electricity. — coal.
    And Thorium, Uranium (with full reprocessing), hydropower.
    Not exactly new ideas, true, but still the best.

  93. It would appear that whenever pumped hydro is considered then the surplus power from (say) a renewable source is used to pump water into an enormous lake, with it’s enormous dam, and so on. Obviously this sort of stuff is not readily available near to centres of population, etc.

    Now, consider a diesel power station. This is probably the most efficient energy transfer device known to man (simply because of thermodynamics). In practice we have yer basic diesel engine driving an electrical generator. However, that basic diesel carries it’s own individual turbocharger, it doesn’t share a common giant turbocharger with a whole bunch of other basic diesel sets, that would be absurd. Similarly it will probably have it’s own intercooler sets, a set for each basic diesel. And so on. Individual self-contained units, paralleled up. Unbelievable reliability.

    Yet with renewables, we persist in storing our surplus power in mighty lakes and dams.
    Unfortunately these are not really compitable with centres of population.

    Let us have a renewable plant design based on (say) individual wind turbine sets (compare diesel sets). So each turbine of course, is connected to it’s own generator. Thus for wind power surplus situations, each turbine has an adjacent water column, simply a large water tower, capable of accepting all of the surplus energy output of each turbine as water head and equipped with it’s own dedicated hydro-generator.

    I realise of course that diesel sets (which I love) do not over produce by reason of governing and/or selective starting/stopping.
    The direct comparison with windturbines would be governors, such that in case of excess power production, the blades would be feathered.
    Why don’t they do this?

  94. “””””…… Claim: Let’s put batteries on wind and solar farms

    Posted on September 9, 2013 by Anthony Watts

    From Stanford University

    Stanford scientists calculate the energy required to store wind and solar power on the grid

    English: The , also known as the Green Mountain…
    Green Mountain Energy Wind Farm, West Texas. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    Renewable energy holds the promise of reducing carbon dioxide emissions. But there are times when solar and wind farms generate more electricity than is needed by consumers. Storing that surplus energy in batteries for later use seems like an obvious solution, but a new study from Stanford University suggests that might not always be the case…….””””””

    Well for 69Cents, and a senior coffee at McDonalds, I could have told him, that !

    Seldom, is a solution good for every problem.

  95. Concerning a potential future National Battery Project and resources needed:
    I always think back to a Barney Miller episode “Child Stealers” 1980

    One of the subplots was a vagrant that told Det. Harris he was really a Columbia Univ. sociologist researcher…. from the year 2057. While the guy was in the holding cell, Harris calls his broker thinking about investing in gold (then at $850/oz before the plunge). Harris catches the guy in cell subtly shaking his head in pity.

    Harris hangs up. He talks to the “researcher”. “What’s wrong with investing in gold?”

    “I shouldn’t be telling you this, but in a couple of years there will be a huge gold strike in the Yukon. It drove the price right back down to $35/oz. In the Economic turmoil the worlds governments had to find a new base metal for currencies.”

    Harris: “So… what did they switch to?”
    Guy: “Zinc!”
    Harris (puzzled goes back to desk) (dials broker). “I’m back. I’m not sure about gold at these prices. …. Say, what is the current quote on Zinc?
    Seventeen and a half CENTS a POUND?!
    (glances at guy in cell who is giving a thumbs up). Ok, pick me up a couple of tons.”
    Another link to the story: “Climateer Investing”

  96. I have the perfect solution for storage of electricity from wind, and solar PV.

    The wind can rotate a huge propeller, so they say; even can be coupled to a generator to make electricity. Well you don’t need the generator; you use the propeller rotation directly to operate a pump; when the wind blows of course.
    And you use the wind operated pump to pump oil out of the ground (when the wind blows). When the wind doesn’t blow, it doesn’t pump oil, but when it does, it does.

    With the solar PV, you are at a disadvantage, because you have to use the PV electricity to run an electric motor to pump the oil out of the ground (when the sun shines of course).

    Well then you pipe the oil to someone who has an electric power station, to provide continuous uninterrupted electricity.

  97. The conclusion of the study … that battery storage makes sense for photovoltaic farms but not for wind farms … is based upon faulty logic. Rather than looking at the cost per kWhr, the study looked only at the energy cost of the generator system vs the cost of the battery storage.

    Using the logic of this study, if the capital cost of a generator is low, then it never ever makes sense to couple it with a battery backup. Think about how ridiculous that conclusion is if one it looking at the whole system from the perspective of minimizing either cost or CO2 emissions.

  98. The one battery they didn’t compare but should have is Nickel Iron. The will last over 30 years and are the longest life battery out there. The one problem is they waste the most power in the charge part of the cycle. In the early 1900’s they were very common but have fallen out of favor because of size an weight. I don’t think wind and solar power are there yet and may not ever be but Nickel Iron is still used today for off the grid applications mostly with older batteries that are still in service.

  99. Google VRB Technologies of Vancouver, B.C. Vanadium storage batteries, long out of business. Seemed like a good play at the time.

  100. Dr. Harold Punnett says:
    September 9, 2013 at 11:39 am
    And nowhere is the CellCube mentioned at all??? Amazing that so many people are unaware of this existing technology that solves the energy storage problem. In production for 3 years now.

    A Japanese tool maker put in a 10-100 for 34,000,000 yen, which you can round to $250,000. It stores 100kWhr of power, delivered at a rate of 10kW. To store one day’s output from a 1,000 MW power plant would require 240,000 of them for a total of $60 billion (with a “B”) dollars. It would be cheaper, by a factor of about 10, to build a spare power plant.

    If they made one a tenth the capacity for a tenth the price, it would still be cheaper for me to buy a natural gas-fired 10KW generator and hook it up to my home and spend all the avoided installation cost for the solar or wind power to charge the battery as fuel for the indefinite future.

  101. My personal favourite energy storage is supercapacitor storage.

    Say you wanted to store the output of a 1GW renewable facility for 1day – to cover 1GW of grid usage for 24 hours of no wind.

    The energy storage requirement is:-

    1GW x 1 day
    = 1,000,000,000 watts x 86400 seconds
    = 86,400,000,000,000 joules or 8.6 x 10^13 joules.

    By an interesting coincidence, the amount of energy released by little boy, the nuclear bomb which destroyed Hiroshima, was 6.3 x 10^13 joules. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Boy

    So if your 1GW supercapacitor storage facility suffered sudden catastrophic dielectric failure, as highly stressed capacitors sometimes do, or terrorist attack, earthquake, or lightning strike, the resulting energy release would be indistinguishable from a 10 kiloton nuclear explosion.

    You would need 100s of supercapacitor storage facilities to stabilise a 100% renewable grid, all of them would have to be located physically fairly close to major cities, to reduce transmission losses.

    You know what? I’d rather face a little global warming.

  102. Stephen Rasey says:
    September 9, 2013 at 3:17 pm

    Another issue, Stephen, is the run-of-mine grade of metal ores have been falling as easily found rich deposits have been exploited. Pricing changes means this isn’t a great barrier to production, since if the price is higher you can afford to mine and process lower grade ores. And increase recycling, although the lead recycling rate is already about 85%.

    Unfortunately mining and processing of lower grade ores requires more energy per tonne of metal produced, since you almost always have to crush and grind the rock before you can extract the metals. This would be made worse if large increases in battery metals production were to be required since average head grades would fall even faster.

    Here in Australia energy use by mining already is about 10% of the total used in the country, and a lot of that is the trucking and grinding of ore. The energy intensity of mining is getting worse because of the grade effect.

    At a certain point as grades decline the energy required to extract the metals required for the batteries will become more than the solar or wind generator can produce in its lifetime. This would be a good study for Stanford team to do, although they probably wouldn’t like the results.

    I am aware that bromine and some lithium comes from non-hardrock sources, but the grade vs energy consumption relationship would be much the same. For example the energy and cost of recovering bromine from seawater will be considerably higher than from the rich waters of the Dead Sea, which is the biggest single source of bromine at the moment.

  103. richardscourtney nailed it when he pointed out that there was nothing in the study about economics. It doesn’t matter one bit how much energy it takes to make what. The ONLY thing that matters is the cost effectiveness of the systems with and without batteries. By leaving money out of the equation, they manage to avoid the central issue which is that solar and wind are both uneconomical and if you add batteries to the system, they can only become more uneconomical.

    Their safe analogy is equally ludicrous. No, you wouldn’t store a $10 watch (wind power) in a $100 safe. You also wouldn’t store a $200 watch (solar) in a $100 safe if you could get a $10 watch in the first place! And you would purchase neither a $200 solar watch nor a $10 wind watch if you could get a coal or gas watch for 10 cents that didn’t need a $100 safe/battery in the first place.

  104. i read of all these so called scientific studies on all sorts of “what if” situations that all assume we are all going to hell in a CO2 heated global bread basket unless “we do something” and i can never quite get over the utter futility of the logic that drives this sort of inane, so called climate warming science and research.
    But most of all the complete ignoring by present science and scientists and the media and blog commentary of the really important items that are fundamental to the survival of the human race. And that is the almost pathological concentration on climate, something that is almost entirely peripheral and inconsequential to our survival as a species.

    My reaction is that all this climate BS and crap can only come from so called researchers who like their acolytes have full bellies and all the world’s goods, who have never experienced hunger and who cannot in any way comprehend a world where their local supermarket has rows of shelving and refrigerators almost empty of food items.
    [ I saw for myself that rather shocking to a westerner situation of rows of empty supermarket shelves during the last days of the USSR in 1991. ]

    One good plant breeder, be it a breeder in any of the world’s basic food grains, is worth a whole truckload or perhaps far more of climate scientists in terms of their importance to mankind.

    Sadly in our collective stupidity, the plant breeders and their stupendous achievements in breeding the basic food crops to provide constantly increasing yields and resistance to disease and pests that has led to the ability to feed the world’s ever growing population for near a century now are totally ignored and almost unrecognised in every format and media outlet in the western world..
    And yet the climate scientists who together with their so called and mostly heavily biased towards warmist based research, collect vast amounts of publicity, fame, notoriety and some wealth despite being almost completely peripheral and of little consequence to the survival and the quality of the life and of little or no consequence to the survival of billions of people.

    Plant breeders and their research and practical application of their research to the plants that feed humanity on the other hand are vital and absolutely fundamental to our ability to adequately feed and to provide a adequate standard of living for the entire human race, all seven billion plus of us.
    .
    Sadly in our total stupidly, we reward and pay those two groups of researchers, the ultimately inconsequential climate researchers and their vast output of what is just mostly high falutin science sounding and generally useless crap and the fundamental to our survival as humanity, the plant breeders, in completely inverse proportions to their importance to the human race.

  105. In the original batman movie with jack nicholson as joker the evil power company was claiming there was not enough electricity so they needed money to build another plant. But really there was plenty of electricity and they were secretly building a GIANT CAPACITOR!

  106. Using batteries to store energy does seem to be futile and potentially fraught with problems from the availability of raw materials needed to build them and the need to keep them in working order. Not to mention how to dispose of them once they are no longer useable. The US Department of Energy is currently funding experiments into the use of various schemes using battery storage. (Vanadium Redox). It is also funding flywheel technology used to capture energy from wind and solar as a means of storing energy for use when needed. Flywheel technology seems much gentler to the environment than batteries but it doesn’t seem to be talked about. A project in Temecula, California, received $40 Million to start up in 2010 but I can’t find any news, good or bad. You’d think the US DOE would have something to say about it by now?

  107. @Eric Worrall
    You know what? I’d rather face a little global warming

    That Sir, is a great closing line.

    When the cure is worse than the disease.
    When we are taking chemotherapy for a cold
    When it is 50 times more expensive to stop global warming than adapt to (or welcome) it
    When electricity rates must “necessarily skyrocket under” a Progressive’s Plan,
    Before we freeze in the dark because the coal mines are closed,

    You know what? I’d rather face a little global warming, too.

  108. davidmhoffer says:
    September 9, 2013 at 5:42 pm

    richardscourtney nailed it when he pointed out that there was nothing in the study about economics. It doesn’t matter one bit how much energy it takes to make what. The ONLY thing that matters is the cost effectiveness of the systems with and without batteries. By leaving money out of the equation, they manage to avoid the central issue which is that solar and wind are both uneconomical and if you add batteries to the system, they can only become more uneconomical….
    >>>>>>>>>>>>
    No David, I disagree. The first test is whether you use more energy making the darn things and installing them than will be returned over the live of the equipment.

    Once that test is passed THEN you look at the $$$$.

    Solar, biofuel and wind fail before they get out of the starting gate. They use more energy to manufacture and site than they will generate over their lifetime.

  109. Here in the UK on Channel 4, we have just watched a genuinely frightening play called ‘Blackout’. It showed how quickly slightly annoyed reaction would turn to terror and violence: rioting mobs, theft and murder. With no telephones or mobiles and no petrol pumps operating communications would be at a standstill. Food stolen from unlit stores and no deliveries, leading to panic, housefires and hospitals reduced to batteries as the generators dry up. Then armed soldiers and police deployed (and would we lose democracy at this point?) The helplessness of ordinary people certainly scared me!
    So let’s get [fracking] without delay and forget giant batteries.

    [Cracking works also. Mod]

  110. I wrote FRACKING but the mobile changed it!
    Hope it’s OK this time. In case it writes cracking again that word should begin with an ‘f’.

  111. Philip Bradley says: @ September 9, 2013 at 12:46 pm

    ….Use intermittent solar and wind to pump water up over hills/mountains then harvest the energy used on the other side when electricity is needed. The big advantage of such an approach is that transporting water isn’t time critical, as reservoirs along the way buffer supply to demand for periods of days to months.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    That is the most sensible suggestion but I rather use nuclear power to do the pumping and desalinization.

  112. Its funny how those scientists or researchers trying to fix spilled milk , instead to avoid it in the first place . Can you imagine how much money was wasted in this study alone in wages ? Most people without any academic title know how not to spill milk . Yep , maths are simple , the more wind and solar we build from now on , the more we lose .

  113. @Eric Worrall 5:11 pm – Supercapaciters = Hiroshima
    Yes. Any energy storage system contains the danger of releasing it’s energy in uncontrolled ways. Gasoline can catch fire. Gas pipelines can leak. Coal stock piles can combust. We’ve learned hard lessons how to handle these and how to prevent and limit trouble.

    Supercapaciter banks, Li-Ion banks, flywheel banks. These hold new types of disasters. All these have the potential for cascading failure, especially in large facilities. Each can release a day’s worth of energy in a few seconds. Immense Power = Energy/Time. Imagine a flywheel breaking free of its mounts imparting its momentum to its housing and neighboring equipment and people.

    There might be a Fat Man of electrical energy stored in a supercapaciter bank. There is also the aluminum of the capacitor bank that will burn to add to the inferno. The energy stored in a Li-Ion battery is a fraction of what the battery can release if it burns.

    Next to these disasters, I rather adapt to a little global warming. ;-)

  114. @richardscortney – 10:28 am – economics, not energy return.
    @davidmhoffer 5:42 pm – $10 watch in $100 safe
    @Gail Combs 6:32 pm – energy payout
    You all have excellent points. What I want to add is the question, “What are you willing to pay for electricity when you do not have it?”

    A Boy Scout flash light with batteries is a device that takes far more energy to make than it will ever return. It is outrageous on a $/watt and $/kwr basis. But it is essential equipment because it provides some crucial light when and where you need it.

    Why should I buy oil at $100/bbl or gasoline at $3.50/gal when I can get Natrual Gas at $4 / mcf. For one thing, I can carry a gallon of gas, not so the methane. It is a form of energy that can be turned on and off easily, transports safely and lightly, and keeps for months. When connected to a pipeline, nothing better than Nat Gas. When it comes to ease of handling, coal is a pretty useless commodity — except when you work with it in units of 100-ton railroad cars @ $30/ton for base load electricity and steam.

    I was taken aback by that bit about Cruachan Dam (10:51am) and the need to keep 12 hrs of storage for a “Black Start”, an emergency storage of energy to restart other power stations. Kind of like that Boy Scout Flash Light — it’s not meant to payout, only to save the day if you need it. A little like that flashlight.

    Barnhart’s mistake is to consider using battery powered flashlights for everyday lighting instead of for their intended purpose of providing energy when and where you have no other choices.

  115. Really enjoyable thread. After Willis showed that a tonne of coal is the best battery perhaps he could turn his analytical skills to this problem.

    It seems from the above and as per previous posts, mitigation is the way to go. Here we can buy water heaters that use the waste heat from air conditioning units. 20% power saving at least there. Solar water heaters can drive space chillers. Better insulation. All make massive savings on the bottom line, how much you pay per moth.

    Regarding storage, how about pump from the Med, fill a balance lake higher up. then when power is needed drain to the Dead Sea. Several places that can be done around the world.

    Re spreading the power around. Comments made on HVDC transmission. No need to make a grid with it, just link grids. Example Indonesia to South East Asia. Power it up with Geothermal. Same in Japan, link to Korea-Asian Mainland. You get clean power and greater flexibility. The UK is looking at Importing same power from Iceland.

  116. @Bruce of Newcastle 5:34 pm – low grade ores
    I totally agree, Bruce. When I mentioned that we’d need 1000 lead than current reserves, it was to make the point that it is a tall order. Price increases will ultimatly increase reserves, but 1000 times is unlikely.

  117. If, (and it is a very big IF) and when (likely not to soon), battery storage becomes viable I think it will negatively impact ‘renewables’. Conventional energy generation will benefit by running FLAT-OUT at high efficiency 24 hour a day and store the off peak excess power and push to the grid as needed. A propeller on a pole will never compete. Cheers, Mark

  118. Here is a Na-S battery system, of 1 MW capacity, that is installed on Santa Catalina Island offshore Los Angeles, California. This is not for wind or solar power storage, but to reduce pollutants into the air from the diesel-powered generators on the island. The local air pollution control district required the emissions be reduced, and this is the agreed solution. The diesel generators now run at a nearly constant rate, with excess power stored in the batteries at night. Power is drawn from the batteries the next day. A suitable monitoring and control system ensures the local grid is stable.

    http://www.energystorageexchange.org/projects/77

    “The isolated electrical system on Santa Catalina Island has daily load variations from approximately 2 MW in the very early morning to approximately 5 MW in the late afternoon. SCE’s existing diesel generating capacity must be constantly cycled to accommodate the varying system load. One of the major consequences of cycling the diesel generators is operating the units at less-than-optimal Nitrous-Oxide (NOx) emission operating points.”

  119. Uh. Roger.

    That’s 2 Megawatt. Not needed, but politivally required 2 Megawatt – so it really doesn’t matter whether or not that little bitty 2 meg battery system is economically justified or ecologically justified (energy and time “in” > energy and time and value “out” ) but merely “Did the government demand we do this?”

    Now, a little itty bitty 2 MegWatt “overnight” power supply is good enough to replace ONE wind turbine. One time. IF that wind turbine is only “out” for one night.

    Ya got another 300 battery systems to work with ONE combined cycle gas turbine of 600 Megawatts?

  120. I’m too much of a tyro to know which of the preceding suggestions could be the basis for a future Nobel prize, and which could be the deluded ramblings of an old man wearing tinfoil headgear. (*)

    One thing, however, comes through very clearly: while all (or most) of those commenting may be AGW skeptics, you are as invested in protecting the environment as those who stage protests under a banner for Gaia. There is an obvious passion for facts; pet theories are discouraged. Every theory or plan for harnessing power from Nature is examined with a hope for success, but with an eye for flaws. And when something works, you embrace it. Many of you (with Anthony being a prime example) have adapted “green” technologies to a far greater degree than those who publicly endorse them.

    Nor is this phenomenon unique to this site (although I think this site exhibits it to an unusually high degree). The fact is, aside from a kind of loony fringe of skeptics who don’t believe in AGW because it’s all part of a nefarious plan set in motion centuries ago by a secret, but very, very powerful society whose members include not only past presidents of the United States and Russia, but also the entire writing team for Saturday Night Live — aside from such outliers, one of the most obvious traits of AGW skeptics is their respect for the environment and their desire to protect it as much as possible.

    So the question is, how come the “anti-environment” label sticks so readily to them?

    I didn’t say I had an answer.

    —————–
    * While popular culture and common usage refer to thought-protection helmets as “tin foil hats,” tinfoil is no longer the recommended material. Research conducted by Michael Menkin indicates that Velostat, available in rolls from the 3M company, is far superior, with an apparent 100% efficacy in preventing alien abductions by blocking out their spy rays. [ Stop Alien Abductions

  121. You mean that batteries are not included when you get these blasted windmills? For the price they cost you’d think the manufacturers could throw in a couple of AAs.

  122. @ RACookPE1978, actually, the Catalina Island battery system is only 1 MW, per the article. The night-time load is approximately 2 MW.

    “In response to diesel engine emission reviews at PBGS, the 2009 SCE-SCAQMD settlement agreement directed SCE to install a 1 MW battery system to help stabilize the generation fluctuations. The battery project was completed in 2011 in partnership with S&C Electronics. It provides the necessary energy storage capacity during off-peak periods, and energy supply capacity during on-peak periods, to allow for steady operation of the diesel generators at fixed, minimum emission operating points. Additional benefits include improved system voltage regulation, system stability, and system reliability.” (Note, SCE is the utility, Southern California Edison. SCAQMD is the air pollution agency, South Coast Air Quality Management District)

    The battery technology works, so there can be no debate about “does it work.” The only question is one of economics. It is well-known that energy storage at grid-scales, as you suggested 300 MW is too expensive for any but rare installations. As others above wrote, pumped storage hydroelectric can be economic, but the number of suitable sites is small.

  123. @Margaret Smith

    Before you start writing “f’ words, please remember that some of us have had a delicate upbringing.

  124. Teresa says:
    September 9, 2013 at 1:21 pm

    It seems like they could build a natural gas plant next to a wind farm and use excess wind energy to preheat water for the boilers so they could use less gas. This probably would not make wind really useful but might nudge it closer.

    It’s a matter of scale, heat transfer area and method, water flow rate and delta temperature, and availability of many things: The natural gas pipeline, the need for the electricity at that location, the availability of the water for the natural gas plant cooling, the availability of the extra power lines required, and the ability to actually preheat that much water that fast with the electric heaters from the wind generation facility. A steam plant needs a LOT of reheating power every second – many hundred times what the wind generators normally produce.

    A wind on average only generates 23% of its ‘rated power”. When it is “out” – which is most of the time – you have to be able to preheat that water anyway over in the natural gas-fired/coal-fired plant, right? SO you’d have to build two sets of heat exchangers – one set of which is not going to be doing anything but wasting pumping power and money being built but NOT heating the water more than 4/5 days of the year. (The regular steam-heated/waste-heat recovery heat exchangers have to always be on-service, so the electric heaters form the wind generators require more piping, more heat exchange area, and more pump resistance in the power plant pipes. ) When the wind generators are “on” they may be turning, but only creating 10% to 30% of their maximum rated load.

    But notice that you HAVE to build the extra power lines and transformers and wires and controls and switch-yards and monitors AS IF the wind turbines WERE creating 100% of their rated load, but – every now and then – they do actually generate 100% rated power. So you end up building many millions of extra expensive material consuming resources only to use them only 23% of the time.

    Also, not “all” of the wind-created power is “not used” – many days, what little is generated CAN be used on the grid. The number of days of “over-production” by the wind turbines is actually very, very few.

  125. Grey Lensman said “how about a pump from the Med …”. Nice concept (as the Med is essentially non-tidal) but I think the real problem is practical politics: there are just too many stakeholder countries around the Med (all of whom will be saying what’s in this for us, as we now need to build raised harbour walls) including some of the most volatile in the world…

    And as to connecting national or regional grids, this is of course happening anyway where tariffs can be agreed (eg England/France) but at quite short range – the real benefits will only come where connections are at long range – eg to balance night and day (perhaps crossing the Atlantic?) or even summer and winter…!

  126. The unspoken problem with flywheel storage;
    1. Kinetic energy – E=mv2 so if energy is taken out at a constant rate speed loss is exponential.
    2. Electromagnetic induction – V=blv2 so as speed drops voltage drops exponentially. This cause huge regulation problems and a very limited period of useful output.

  127. Roger Sowell-

    “Here is a Na-S battery system, of 1 MW capacity, that is installed on Santa Catalina Island”

    An important battery system spec is energy storage. The S&C brochure describing the Catalina project indicates it may have a maximum energy storage capacity of about 7000 kWhr. Also, the system cost is $6.1M. So, that comes out to about $870/kWhr. Very pricey.

    Onshore wind turbine installed is about $3/W, or $9M for a 3MW turbine. At 25% capacity, it generates on average about 18,000 kWhr/day. Since there are times when this turbine may be idle for a week, a battery backup for the wind turbine should have a capacity of 126,000 kWhr.

    The $9M wind turbine needs a $110M Na-S battery backup to guarantee power delivery during a potential windless week.

    http://www.sandc.com/edocs_pdfs/EDOC_075872.pdf

  128. Is there no thought given to the poor Power System Dispatcher that would have to manage all these pipe dreams. I used to be one and had enough issues with conventional. This talk about a smart grid, bring that subject up with a Power Dispatcher then stand back to get away from the spittle coming out of his mouth.

  129. Cam_S says:
    September 9, 2013 at 10:15 am

    A hydroelectric facility over 35 MW capacity does not qualify for RPS. It seems they don’t want to encourage new storage.

    Why don’t we use excess wind to make H2 from wastewater? You only need half of that battery. Throw the O2 away. You can get it back anytime.

    LH2 from wastewater using nuclear would be better. No gasoline needed. And you could easily get superconducting conduits for power in your pipe to deliver LH2. Boiled off H2 can replace natural gas. EMP protection too.

    California loves its command and control economy. Gone are the days of great innovation and leading the world forward. Now the dream is to be just like Cuba. Viva Che!

  130. Consider this from another view point: the free market has always produced, and will always produce the cheapest form of energy generation. Period. Take away the gov’t subsidies (and that will happen eventually as even we can’t afford to keep printing money forever) and the renewables market turns to vapor in a heartbeat. The free market will still continue to produce affordable electricity (relatively speaking) because it must in order to stay in business.

  131. Tim OBrien says:
    September 9, 2013 at 12:05 pm
    Did they factor in the high costs of the toxic heavy-metal cleanup associated with lead, zinc, etc.???
    Did they factor in the number of deaths associated with the mining, manufacturing and disposal of those same heavy-metal items?

    Tim you forget that these people don’t live in developed countries with vocal green groups. Their lives, therefore, do not get factored in to the costs (they are not even middle class!).

  132. Gail Combs:

    I rarely disagree with one of your usually very fine posts, but this is one of those rare occasions.

    In your post at September 9, 2013 at 6:32 pm

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/09/09/claim-lets-put-batteries-on-wind-and-solar-farms/#comment-1412862

    you quote davidmhoffer having said

    It doesn’t matter one bit how much energy it takes to make what. The ONLY thing that matters is the cost effectiveness of the systems with and without batteries. By leaving money out of the equation, they manage to avoid the central issue which is that solar and wind are both uneconomical and if you add batteries to the system, they can only become more uneconomical….

    And you reply to that saying

    No David, I disagree. The first test is whether you use more energy making the darn things and installing them than will be returned over the live of the equipment.

    Once that test is passed THEN you look at the $$$$.

    Solar, biofuel and wind fail before they get out of the starting gate. They use more energy to manufacture and site than they will generate over their lifetime.

    Sorry, but David is right.

    The ONLY valid consideration is financial return, and energy return is not relevant.
    This is because people buy what they want. And they buy the energy they want in the form that they want. They pay for what they want in money and NOT energy.

    For example, a person who wants to power a portable radio will buy the needed batteries. He has no interest in whether the life cycle of the batteries provides or consumes net energy. He only considers how to power his radio most cheaply and reliably.

    Wind and solar are expensive sources of electricity for supply to a grid. And they are guaranteed to be unreliable because they only work some of the time.

    Also,
    A ‘Rule Of Thumb’ is that if something costs most then it uses most energy.
    This is because energy is ability to do work, and
    Money is payment for work done.

    Richard

  133. Grey Lensman:

    re your post at September 9, 2013 at 8:02 pm.

    Your suggestions are both technically and politically difficult to implement.

    Building fossil fueled or nuclear power stations would be cheaper, more reliable and far less environmentally damaging.

    Richard

  134. Mark:

    At September 9, 2013 at 8:10 pm you say

    If, (and it is a very big IF) and when (likely not to soon), battery storage becomes viable I think it will negatively impact ‘renewables’. Conventional energy generation will benefit by running FLAT-OUT at high efficiency 24 hour a day and store the off peak excess power and push to the grid as needed. A propeller on a pole will never compete. Cheers, Mark

    Yes, and it would reduce the need for power stations by about a third.

    Richard

  135. Sounds like a plan conceived by idiots.

    Energy losses converting the generated AC to DC for battery storage, then back to AC for distribution would wipe out any power produced. Then extra infrastructure costs, battery costs would make the whole thing totally unaffordable.

  136. Back in the early 90’s I lived in Switzerland. At that time the French and Swiss had nuclear power plants that generated significant power at minimum, base load output levels, more than enough for off-peak periods but not enough for peak periods. The ever entrepreneurial Swiss had a great scheme going, they bought the French off-peak base load power from the nuclear plants at a discount price so the French could manage their nuclear plants and they used it to pump water uphill to holding dams in the mountains. Then, during peak period, they would run the stored water back down through a hydroelectric power plant and sell the power back to the French at a profit! Kinetic storage batteries on a vast scale!

  137. Richard and others. Turning water to gas uses more energy than output, no doubt, same as a battery. That was the point of the suggestion, as well as pointing out, by their green methodology it is a viable mechanism, more so than most other suggestions.

    Note also according to a recent energy/political report in Germany, most Pump Storage systems are being retired, huh.

    The whole energy in/out claim is false. Fill your car with petrol, drive till the tank is empty. Wow, you have used all the energy, none left. not viable???????????????????????. What counts is what you pay. Ask German electricity consumers.

    For reliable, efficient and clean power, we have gas, oil, coal , hydro and nuclear. All well proven. On the sidelines, Geothermal and Biomass ( inc natural methane). Wind and Solar need to be retired, or downgraded to packaged domestic units, sold on their price and applicablity

    The real aim must be plentiful cheap and clean energy. Full stop.

  138. Grey Lensman:

    I am at a loss to understand why your post at September 10, 2013 at 4:16 am is addressed to me when it concludes

    The real aim must be plentiful cheap and clean energy. Full stop.

    I have repeatedly argued that same ;point in this thread; e.g. at September 10, 2013 at 2:48 am I wrote to you saying in total

    Your suggestions are both technically and politically difficult to implement.

    Building fossil fueled or nuclear power stations would be cheaper, more reliable and far less environmentally damaging.

    However, your post I am answering says

    Note also according to a recent energy/political report in Germany, most Pump Storage systems are being retired, huh.

    Yes, and the over-use of windpower is responsible for that.

    Pumped Storage is useful because it avoids the need for a few power stations to operate all the time so they are available to provide power in the short periods when there is peek demand. Pumped storage is expensive and cannot provide power for very long (this inability to provide power for several days is why pumped storage is not a useful back-up to windpower). But pumped storage is cheaper than continuously operating power stations to supply for the short periods of peek demand.

    Windfarms require so much back-up that there is no need for the pumped storage: the additional back-up (plus safety factor) for the windfarms is available. And this back-up is but one of the reasons why windfarms are so expensive an addition to electricity grid supply.

    Richard

  139. Mike Hohmann:

    At September 10, 2013 at 3:41 am you ask

    OK, pumped storage of surplus energy is ‘good’, but not ubiquitously possible. But splitting water and storing the hydrogen is. Too obvious for words?

    No, it is too stupid for words.

    Please read this thread and note the comments (from several commentators) which state both the technical difficulties and the hazards of storing hydrogen. Hydrogen storage is almost as dangerous as large energy storage using flywheels.

    Richard

  140. Richard, It was not my suggestion, it was a concept that I put out there to demonstrate the logical fallacy of batteries. That is why i replied. Also to point out that I agree with you and others re what we should be doing. Not keen on nuclear but well done, it has a strong case. I admit no science, no facts, no data, i just dont trust nuclear.

    The Dinorwig Pump Storage in Wales, cost so much and used I believe, amongst many other things, one million tonnes of concrete. I am certain, again gut feeling, that greens have little between the ears.

    Is storing browns gas better than hydrogen. Even can it be done?

    There are now several, well thought out and documented papers, that tell the truth about Wind and Solar, plus the Spanish Green energy managers book saying the same but from actual operational experience, they are not sustainable. How to get that message, out and understood, thats a real problem.

  141. Stephen Rasey says: @ September 9, 2013 at 8:00 pm

    You all have excellent points. What I want to add is the question, “What are you willing to pay for electricity when you do not have it?”
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Stephen, I have zero problem with wind and solar and biofuel = “Gobar Gas” in niche markets. Heck I use a solar powered fence charger in areas where it is difficult to run commercial electricity. Windmills were often used to pump water for live stock in the USA but have now been replaced with diesel generators.

    Where I have a problem is MANDATING western civilization be run using power generation that has a negative return on energy invested. Are we going to use school kids on treadmills to generate the electric to make the solar panels and windmills to supply the elite with power?

    Our civilization is based on cheap readily available power. 82% of Americans are in non rural areas per the last census. Take away electricity for several days (no refrigeration, no stores open…) and you are looking at massive riots especially if the cause is rotten governance instead nature causes.

  142. I read somewhere that all the batteries on earth could store global electricity demand for ten minutes…
    Bit simplistic, but if true it gives a feeling for the scale of the challenge..!

  143. nc says:
    September 9, 2013 at 11:02 pm

    Is there no thought given to the poor Power System Dispatcher that would have to manage all these pipe dreams…..
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Oh we hear you. The key words being Unreliable and intermittent.

    Only bureaucrats and ivory tower idiots with no real world experience could have dreamed up this massive idiocy and then think a SMART Grid and constantly shutting down power to consumers is the answer.

    I worked in a chemical plant where if the lights flickered everyone from the plant manager down headed for their emergency stations at a dead run so we could shut down the continuous process in an orderly fashion. I also worked for another company that ran steel foundries making aircraft parts. Again constant power is an absolute must. Too bad our bureaucrats and academics don’t have similar experiences under their belts.

  144. ***
    Stephen Rasey says:
    September 9, 2013 at 8:00 pm

    I was taken aback by that bit about Cruachan Dam (10:51am) and the need to keep 12 hrs of storage for a “Black Start”, an emergency storage of energy to restart other power stations. Kind of like that Boy Scout Flash Light — it’s not meant to payout, only to save the day if you need it. A little like that flashlight.
    ***

    In the utility I worked for, a black-start would be initiated by a relatively nearby once-thru (not pumped-storage) ~60 MW hydro-plant. Once our coal power plant got started, it could power other plant restarts further away. The pumped-storage hydro-plant on our system never came into consideration for a “black-start”.

  145. @ Chris y, it appears you performed a linear scale-up to obtain the $110 million figure. The cost would be far less, due to economies of scale.

    We use an exponent of 0.6 to estimate costs of larger systems. Therefore, a system 9 times larger would cost 9 ^0.6 = 3.7 times the base cost. Just roughing the numbers, and assuming the base cost is correct, the $110 million should be about $45 million.

    That is still prohibitively expensive.

  146. richardscourtney says: @ September 10, 2013 at 2:37 am

    Gail Combs: I rarely disagree with one of your usually very fine posts, but this is one of those rare occasions….
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    We are coming at this from two different directions. As Stephen Rasey indicated Wind, Solar, Batteries, “Gobar Gas” are fine at filling niche markets and I have zero problem with that. However there is no way on God’s little green earth that you can run an entire modern civilization on energy that costs more in energy to produce than it delivers. PERIOD

    Unfortunately that is the current plan so that is the point of view I am coming from. It is the only reasonable way to look at the current political situation. Will Wind and Solar and Biofuel provide the energy for modern civilization? The answer is NO, not because of the $$$ but because of the underlying problem of energy expended vs energy return. All life runs on that principle. Break that rule and you eventually end up dead.
    My usual backup data:

    BARACK OBAMA’S PLAN TO MAKE AMERICA A GLOBAL ENERGY LEADER
    Our nation is confronted by two major energy challenges – global climate change and our dependence on foreign oil – both of which stem from our current dependence on fossil fuels for energy….

    Global warming is real, is happening now and is the result of human activities…
    Reduce Carbon Emissions 80 percent by 2050: Barack Obama is a champion of the national effort to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Obama supports implementation of a market-based cap-and-trade system to reduce carbon emissions by the amount scientists say is necessary: 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. Obama will start reducing emissions immediately in his administration by establishing strong annual reduction targets, and he’ll also implement a mandate of reducing emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.….

    WUWT: The Grand Prize in Obama’s War on Coal™
    There is a strong supporter of the Obama climate plan named Chris Hope, who has done the math for us. His blog says:

    Chris is a climate change policy researcher, PAGE model developer, and faculty member at Cambridge Judge Business School, interested in environment and energy.

    He has used his whiz-bang model to do the calculations. His assumption is that the US will do the following

    1) Lower the CO2 emissions to 83% of the 2008 level over the next seven years, and

    2) Maintain that low level of emissions for the succeeding 80 years.

    EU Aims for 80% CO2 Reduction with New Renewables & Smart Grid
    European Union countries aim to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide by 80% below 1990 levels by 2050; keeping within scientific recommendations to limit global temperature increases to 2°C.

    Poland put on the breaks:

    BBC: Poland resists EU push for deeper CO2 emission cuts
    EU’s green ambitions

    The EU’s new climate ambitions are contained in a European Commission Roadmap for moving to a competitive low-carbon economy in 2050.

    It says the most cost-efficient way of moving to a low-carbon economy is by achieving a 40% cut in CO2 emissions by 2030 and a 25% cut by 2020, compared with 1990 emission levels.

    The overall target is an 80% cut by 2050, based on the “greening” of industry, investment in energy-efficient electric cars and housing, renewable energy and modernised, “smart” electricity grids.

    Nuclear and hydro are the only non CO2 producing energy sources that would do the trick of reducing CO2 emissions AND allow a reasonable level of civilization. However these are two energy sources that are vehemently opposed by the GREENIES so we are left with Wind Solar and Biofuel.

  147. Mike Hohmann says:
    September 10, 2013 at 3:41 am

    OK, pumped storage of surplus energy is ‘good’, but not ubiquitously possible. But splitting water and storing the hydrogen is. Too obvious for words?
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    No too darn dangerous! Storage of hydorgen is a (self-snip) nightmare. Take it from a chemist who wrestled with hydrogen tank leaks for years and had a tank blow through a cement wall.

    The molecule is so small it leaks through just about anything with a junction. And that is before you deal with Hydrogen Embrittlement of Metals

    1. Introduction
    Hydrogen embrittlement is the degradation of structural properties of solids due to hydrogen. Its primary impact on metals takes the forms of loss of ductility and reduced load carrying capacity. Hydrogen embrittlement occurs in most metals, but not usually in copper, gold, silver or tungsten.

    The effects of hydrogen embrittlement can take be observed in many forms….
    1.1 Hydrogen-induced cracking….

    1.2 Delayed failure
    Steel may undergo “delayed failure” when exposed to a sustained load, even at a relatively low level, and/or a hydrogen environment, or if there was hydrogen pick-up during the forming process, thereby pre-charging the material with hydrogen. Delayed failure is a phenomenon whereby a steel containing hydrogen fails at a lower stress level than its tensile stress as measured in a notched tensile test; this happens when increased diffusion of hydrogen yields high concentrations in regions of localized stress…..

    1.3 Flaking and shatter cracking….

    1.4 Hydrogen attack
    ….Hydrogen combines with carbon to form methane at grain boundaries, and the internal pressure caused by the methane leads to enlarged pores or fissures in the metal. The damage caused by hydrogen attack cannot be reversed by a low-temperature annealing process; the reduction of strength and ductility are permanent…..

  148. Gail, thanks for your hydrogen info input. it seems then that any hydrogen solution, is fatally flawed and that includes hydrogen solids, that require low heating to gas. The resultant gas destroys any pipework, devices after generation.

    I really cannot believe the sample quoted. The cost of a 1mw battery triples the capital cost, maybe more, of the generating plant, all to reduce nox slightly??. I just cannot believe how they get away with it.

    The worlds most powerful electric car, 1,000 hp plus, claims a range of 250 miles, yet only has a massive heavy 92 KW/Hr battery. How does that work?

    Richard, sorry for the misunderstanding, at my little place, I am used to being “implicit” rather than “explicit” to cater for my readers less academic qualification. nevertheless, they are still thinkers and I am used to getting them to think, hopefully.

    Somehow, we need to get a paper out, with full fanfare and global reach that nails the wind/solar myth once and for all. My readers are still locked into “wind is free how can it be unsustainable”. They just cannot believe it, so strong is the meme. When I direct them here, all I get is “OH, wattsupwith that a very questionable place” lol

  149. @ Gail Combs, and energy systems that consume more than they deliver.

    Actually, our modern electrical grids do exactly that. We consume 2.5 to 3 times as much energy as is delivered to the customers.

    A modern grid in the US has approximately 45 percent thermal efficiency for the generating plants, with a mix of nuclear at about 33, coal at about 40, and natural gas power plants at up to 60 percent. Allowing for losses in transmission and transforming up and down in voltage, the system easily consumes the above numbers, 2.5 to 3 times the delivered power.

    It becomes much worse for certain systems, such as a simple cycle gas turbine peaking power plant. Such a plant has low efficiency and can consume 5 times as much energy per unit of energy delivered. We don’t care, because we need that peaking power to stabilize the grid on high-load days.

    The prime consideration is economics.

  150. Grey Lensman:

    Thankyou for both your comments addressed to me in your post at September 10, 2013 at 7:50 am

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/09/09/claim-lets-put-batteries-on-wind-and-solar-farms/#comment-1413294

    I write to answer this one

    Somehow, we need to get a paper out, with full fanfare and global reach that nails the wind/solar myth once and for all. My readers are still locked into “wind is free how can it be unsustainable”. They just cannot believe it, so strong is the meme. When I direct them here, all I get is “OH, wattsupwith that a very questionable place” lol

    Perhaps it would help to point out the following.

    All energy is free. It was all created at the Big Bang. But it is costly to collect energy and to concentrate it for conduct of useful work.

    Fortunately, nature has collected and concentrated energy for us.

    For example, the little energy available in sunlight has been collected by photosynthesis over geological ages, and the collected energy exists in dry, compressed stores known as fossil fuels.

    The energy available in sunlight as it falls, or the solar energy collected as biomass is in such small amounts that collecting it costs much more than collecting the energy concentrated in fossil fuels.

    Wind is also energy supplied by the sun but it is also too feeble in normal winds to make its collection affordable when the solar energy collected by fossil fuels is so much and is so concentrated.

    However, hydropower is solar energy collected by evapouration over large areas which is concentrated when it falls as rain and is routed to rivers by geography. This large collection area makes hydropower affordable in competition with fossil fuels and nuclear power. (Nuclear power is energy concentrated by now long-dead stars).

    The high concentration of energy in fossil fuels is why windpower and muscle power (from animals and slaves) were abandoned when the high energy intensity in fossil fuels became available for use as power by using of the steam engine.

    But hydropower was not abandoned and is still used because the energy intensity in falling water is comparable to the energy intensity in fossil fuels.

    In summation, collecting energy for use is cheap by using hydropower, fossil fuels and nuclear power because nature has done most of the collecting. But collecting energy is expensive from wind and solar because we have to do all the collection ourselves.

    Richard

  151. Thank you Richard an excellent summation. Indeed the worlds very first hydroelectric plant is still in operation.

    “In 1868, a hydraulic engine was installed, with water being used to power labour-saving machines such as laundry equipment, a rotisserie and a hydraulic lift. In 1870, water from one of the estate’s lakes was used to drive a Siemens dynamo in what was the world’s first hydroelectric power station. The resultant electricity was used to power an arc lamp installed in the Gallery in 1878. The arc lamp was replaced in 1880 by Joseph Swan’s incandescent lamps in what Swan considered ‘the first proper installation’ of electric lighting.

    The generators, which also provided power for the farm buildings on the estate, were constantly extended and improved to match the increasing electrical demand in the house.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cragside

    It is also a place of beauty and wildlife. Also see Willis report re English Canals, industrial behemoth converted to environmental havens and beauty spots. Sad the greens just cannot see themselves in the mirror.

  152. Grey Lensman says: @ September 10, 2013 at 7:50 am

    ….Somehow, we need to get a paper out, with full fanfare and global reach that nails the wind/solar myth once and for all. My readers are still locked into “wind is free how can it be unsustainable”. They just cannot believe it, so strong is the meme. When I direct them here, all I get is “OH, wattsupwith that a very questionable place” lol
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Check out Charles S. Opalek, PE book WIND POWER FRAUD

    Also THE DARK SIDE OF “GREEN”: WIND TURBINE ACCIDENTS, INJURIES AND FATALITIES RAISE SERIOUS SAFETY CONCERNS

    For a response to “OH, wattsupwith that a very questionable place”
    use Amelia Sharmanab, Mapping the climate sceptical blogosphere paper where she says

    ABSTRACT
    …. A network of 171 individual blogs is identified, with three blogs in particular found to be the most central: Climate Audit, JoNova and Watts Up With That. These blogs predominantly focus on the scientific element of the climate debate, providing either a direct scientifically-based challenge to mainstream climate science, or a critique of the conduct of the climate science system, and appear to be less preoccupied with other types of scepticism that are prevalent in the wider public debate such as ideologically or values-motivated scepticism. It is possible that these central blogs in particular are not only acting as translators between scientific research and lay audiences, but, in their reinterpretation of existing climate science knowledge claims, are filling a void by opening up climate science to those who may have been previously unengaged by the mainstream knowledge process and, importantly, acting themselves as public sites of alternative expertise for a climate sceptical audience…..

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/09/09/mapping-the-skeptical-blogosphere-wuwt-seems-to-be-the-most-central-blog/

    or

    http://www.lse.ac.uk/GranthamInstitute/publications/WorkingPapers/Papers/120-29/Mapping-the-climate-sceptical-blogosphere.pdf

    There is also my count of over 100 people with degrees in math, science and engineering here at WUWT. This means the conversation may get a bit technical but there is usually someone available to explain matters to a newbie.

  153. Roger Sowell says:
    September 10, 2013 at 8:09 am

    @ Gail Combs, and energy systems that consume more than they deliver.

    Actually, our modern electrical grids do exactly that. We consume 2.5 to 3 times as much energy as is delivered to the customers…..
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    You missed the entire meaning Roger.

    The amount of energy produced by a wind turbine during its ENTIRE WORKING LIFE is LESS than the amount of energy needed to mine the ore, process it, manufacture the parts, fabricate the turbine transport it and set it up. Wind turbines are a dead loss! They are an energy BLACK HOLE! Heck you have to use grid energy to turn them during days of no wind so they do not deform or seize up.

    That is why Charles S. Opalek, PE says WIND POWER FRAUD: WHY WIND WON’T WORK

    …The truth is: Wind power is unsustainable and a total waste of resources.

    This the book exposes the utter uselessness of wind power, including how:
    Wind turbines rarely produce their advertised full power. On average, wind turbines only produce about 20% of their nameplate rating.
    * Wind power is unreliable and undispatchable. When it is needed most, it will likely be unavailable to provide any power when it is needed most.

    * Wind power is not clean. It takes a lot of dirty energy to make the materials, manufacture and install a wind turbine facility.

    * Wind turbines are not environmentally friendly. They are noisy, unsightly, kill bats and birds, interfere with radars, and have been shown to be responsible for a slew of health problems.

    * Wind turbines consume electricity whether operating or not. Often this power is not even metered. Care to guess who is paying the bill for this power?

    * In theory, if 20% of US electric generation was replaced by wind power, the decrease in CO2 emissions would be an unnoticeable 0.00948%.

    * In reality, wind power doesn’t reduce CO2 emissions at all, because backup fossil power plants have to cycle wildly and inefficiently trying to keep up with erratic wind power output.

    * Wind power will not replace fossil fired power plants. Germany estimates that by 2020 up to 96% of its wind power capacity will need to be backed up by new coal fired power plants.

    * Wind power will not reduce US dependency on foreign oil. If wind power replaced 20% of US electric generation, the resulting decrease in oil imports would be a measly 0.292%.

    * Wind turbines have an embarrassingly low Energy Returned On Energy Invested value of 0.29. The manufacture, installation and operation of wind power facilities will consume more than 3 times the energy they will ever produce.….

    Wind power is nothing but a massive wealth transfer mechanism that is sucking money out of the pockets of the poor and placing it in the pockets of the rich. In the UK it is even taking the lives of the poor as they can not afford to eat and stay warm.

  154. It always amazes me that as soon as “batteries” are mentioned, the environmental impact of manufacturing those batteries are never included in the equation. The mining process produces all kinds of toxic runoff. The shipping and refining of the ore, the actual manufacturing of the battery, the shipping of the battery to it’s needed location and eventually the disposal of the battery use all kinds of energy, most of it from non-renewable energy sources. I’m sure the manufacturing of the battery offsets any benefits the storage of “renewable” energy when it comes to the impact on the environment.

  155. RE: Roger Sowell at 8:31 pm
    This is not for wind or solar power storage, but to reduce pollutants into the air from the diesel-powered generators on the island. …. The diesel generators now run at a nearly constant rate, with excess power stored in the batteries at night.

    This is what I do not understand about the design and operation of hybrid cars. Are there any models where the gasoline engine runs at a constant speed and is not connected to the drive train?

    Back in the late 70’s early 80’s I remember a Scientific American article on a flywheel storage hybrid car. (To their credit, they included a photo of the damage a failed flywheel can cause!) The point I remembered from that was it takes only 50 hp to maintain freeway speeds and replace the energy drain from air resistance and rolling friction. Accordingly, these authors maintained that you install a small gasoline engine, run it at its most energy efficient and environmentally clean constant speed to top off the energy storage bank, either batteries or flywheels. The bank itself doesn’t store much energy, only enough for a few miles. What the bank does is provide the power to accelerate and using regenerative braking. I thought at the time it made sense. Flywheels had the advantage of being able to take high power rates for charge and discharde. Flywheels had a bunch of disadvantages, especially in a moving, tilting, bumpy device and that is only some of the reasons we haven’t seen them.

    But the concept of a constant running gasoline engine + battery bank for variable power seemed solid.

    Yet today, I see a top hybrid 2012 Toyta Prius C: 1.5 L, 4 cyl, Automatic (variable gear ratios). Gear ratios? The gasoline engine has a direct connation to the drive train? 1.5 Liter? That’s not the small, constantly running engine of my youthful imagination.

    What the heck is wrong with the continuously running electrical generator, no transmission, totally electrical powered and regenerative drive train concept? Why doesn’t it win on cost from simplicity alone? Is it a human cognitive disconnect of an engine that doesn’t run faster as you accelerate? Is there a more fundamental engineering problem?

  156. The proposed tidal barrage across the Severn Estuary in the UK looks promising as as it would generate the equivalent of 3 modern nuclear or 8 large coal-fired power stations during tidal max. Boats get in and out via a system of locks but migratory fish eg salmon can’t. The risk of flooding, seaward side is increased.

    It would divert funds away from unreliable wind power as it would cost £40 billion. The one in La Rance, France has been running for 40 years without major mechanical problems. The warmist WWF, RSPB and Friends of the Earth are against it as they prefer wind farms.

  157. Stephen Rasey says: @ September 10, 2013 at 9:30 am
    …..What the heck is wrong with the continuously running electrical generator, no transmission, totally electrical powered and regenerative drive train concept? Why doesn’t it win on cost from simplicity alone? Is it a human cognitive disconnect of an engine that doesn’t run faster as you accelerate? Is there a more fundamental engineering problem?
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Possibly too simple, too easy to fix and would last too long. Corporations are not interested in the best engineering only in the engineering needed to sell the product and get repeat customers. Emphasis on repeat customers. Why else don’t we have cars that are powder coated and would last for 25 years without rusting out?

    As King Gillette said. “Give them the razors and sell them the blades”

    Also do not forget interconnecting board members between corporations not to mention banks.

    The Network of Global Corporate Control

    ABSTRACT
    The structure of the control network of transnational corporations affects global market competition and financial stability… We present the first investigation of the architecture of the international ownership network, along with the computation of the control held by each global player. We find that transnational corporations form a giant bow-tie structure and that a large portion of control flows to a small tightly-knit core of financial institutions. This core can be seen as an economic “super-entity” that raises new important issues both for researchers and policy makers.

  158. paulinuk says: @ September 10, 2013 at 9:34 am

    The proposed tidal barrage across the Severn Estuary in the UK looks promising…

    The warmist WWF, RSPB and Friends of the Earth are against it as they prefer wind farms.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Check out who actually funds and therefore controls WWF, RSPB and Friends of the Earth. You can start here: http://nofrakkingconsensus.com/category/money-funding/

  159. @ Gail Combs, re missing the point.

    I fully understand the point of using more energy to manufacture a device than the device will produce. My point is, we do not care.

    Economics is what matters.

    All energy systems have losses. That means that always, always, always, more energy goes in than goes out.

    As to energy used in manufacturing a device, again nobody cares. If we can build a device by using huge amounts of cheap energy, then the device delivers energy when and where it is needed, we charge enough money for the product energy and walk away happy.

    I have not run the numbers, but I suspect that a prime example is a diesel-powered emergency generator. The energy required to mine the metals, refine the metal, shape the machine, and transport it to its destination is likely far more than the energy delivered by its infrequent use.

    So, why do we allow emergency generator systems? We can ask the patients in a hospital. Patients would die during a power outage, if not for the emergency generators.

    Energy required to build a system is not the issue. Economics is the issue.

  160. Absolutely ridiculous Gail. If a company sells an inferior product then another company will put them out of business. The reason manufacturers don’t powder coat the bottom of cars is
    1) The powder will get scratched off anyway (road debris)
    2) The customers of new vehicles don’t care so much if a car lasts 20 years since their needs will typically change in less time than that anyway.
    3) The average vehicle age in the US is already 11 years meaning for every brand new 2013 on the road somewhere there is a 1991 Geo Metro still running. That is pretty impressive, and the average age is getting older.

  161. @Gail Combs at 9:44 am
    Corporations are not interested in the best engineering only in the engineering needed to sell the product and get repeat customers. And interlocking corporate directorships.

    Gail, I share much of your cynicism about oligopolies, crony capitalism, and government cures worse than the disease. While there may be some truth in what you say above, I’m not convinced that’s the problem here. With all the money governments have been throwing at high mph cars and battery companies, there is every incentive for corporations to adopt bad engineering ideas, much less bury good engineering ideas in this area.

    I’ll keep your comment running in “spinning reserve”. Meanwhile until I get more information, I’ll pursue the dual hypotheses that
    1.) The public just doesn’t take to a car with a motor that runs at the same RPM whether you are going zero or 80. I believe it might be necessary to add sound effects that sound like a typical car to make it a constant RPM hybrid sell. On the other hand, the habits of Hybrids turning their motors off at stop lights would turn me off.
    2) There is some fundamental electrical engineering control issue with simultaneous constant charge and highly variable discharge and charge through regen. But haven’t existing Hybrids ironed these problems out?

    A third possibility is that batteries alone can’t provide the needed acceleration and needs direct drive assist. But Tesla Motors invalidates that hypothesis.

  162. Richard, excellent study but needs updating. Example with geothermal, Hawaii could be totally energy independent, as could Japan, Indonesia, New Zealand to name but a few. Also water turbines are not beefed up fans, East River in New York found that out to their cost, idiots. Suggest turbine integrated with the generator. Much more viable.

  163. Roger Sowell says:
    September 10, 2013 at 10:18 am

    @ Gail Combs, re missing the point.

    I fully understand the point of using more energy to manufacture a device than the device will produce. My point is, we do not care.

    Economics is what matters.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    No it is energy returned on energy invested AS A WHOLE. Our entire civilization works because we use energy from fossil fuels and nuclear to replace the energy from slaves and animals.

    To put it in simpler terms. If we build a sail boat we expend X amount of muscle power using hand tools. However that sail boat with care will return Y amount of energy via the wind moving product that we otherwise would move by rowing (muscle power = Z). We do this because the effort Z is greater than the effort X. The same goes with building an old fashioned mill for grinding grain. The effort in grinding by hand over the years is much greater than that of building a mill that will last a life time. Mankind has advanced by making these energy trade-offs.

    Now back to wind turbines. If ALL your electric power is from Wind and “The manufacture, installation and operation of wind power facilities will consume more than 3 times the energy they will ever produce” Then ALL the energy produced by Wind gets reinvested into producing a smaller and smaller number of replacement turbines.

    This means you can only run Wind turbines and Solar panels to make an ever decreasing number of Wind turbines and solar panels. There is no energy left over to light an electric lamp or keep a refrigerator cold.

    To run a civilization you have to have an NET ENERGY GAIN form your activities or it is not worth the work invested.

    Minimum EROI required for each Activity
    1.1 : 1 Extract oil
    1.2 : 1 Refine Oil
    3 : 1 Transportation
    5 : 1 Grow Food
    7-8 : 1 Support Family of Workers
    10 : 1 Education
    12 : 1 Health Care
    14 : 1 Arts and other culture Source: (Lambert, The “Net Energy Cliff”)

    Economic Cost of Energy
    It is possible to examine the ratio of the cost of energy compared to the benefits of
    using it to generate wealth. This is accomplished by dividing the money required to
    buy energy by the total gross domestic product:

    Economic cost of Energy = Money to buy energy/GDP

    When this ratio is low, typically around (EROI). five percent, economies grow strongly [6].
    When this ratio is high, about ten percent (and, historically, up to fourteen percent), recessions tend to occur. For example, in 2007 over eight percent of US GDP spent on the acquisition of energy necessary to produce the goods and services that comprised the GDP… [This is the point you guys are trying to make]

    ….Much of the argument used by the energy community revolves around the concepts of “net energy” and “energy return on investment” (EROI). Net energy analysis is sometimes called the assessment of energy surplus, energy balance, or, as we prefer, EROI.

    Net Energy
    Net energy analysis is a means of measuring the quality of various fuels by calculating the difference between the energy delivered to society and the energy invested in the capture and delivery of this energy. This technique enables the flow of energy in a society to be correlated with the growth and well being of that society. Traditionally, economic growth is measured by changes in the production of goods and services. These goods and services are physical manifestations of the net energy once delivered to society. [This is what I was trying to talk about]

    EROI
    Energy return on investment (EROI, or energy return on energy invested, EROEI) is the ratio of energy returned from energy extraction and production activities compared to the energy invested in those energy gathering processes….
    Extended EROI (EROIext)
    This expanded analysis considers the energy required not only to get but also to use a unit of energy…

    However, energy equivalent values and subsequently EROI analyses do not assess the complex combination of physical, technical, environmental, economic, and social attributes that determine a fuel’s usefulness to society [13]. No single measure of an energy system is able to evaluate this multitude of variables. Kaufmann’s work (1994) validates this assumption that over time, market signals (prices) tend to reflect the perceived economic usefulness of a fuel….
    EROI of Global Energy Resources – Robotics Caucus

    At this point we can not use ‘Market Signals’ because they are badly distorted by government subsidies and by manufacture using coal, cheap labor and little to no pollution controls in China. The CAGW scammers are using this confusion in the market place to hide the fact that wind and probably solar don’t return a useful net energy and certainly not enough energy to run a modern civilization with.

    Your insistence on looking at the economics only helps them hide how useless solar and wind are for major energy generation that much longer.

  164. Thankyou, Richard Courtney

    I read your .pdf and consider tidal coffer dams a neater solution as power output is continuous. Tidal barrages only provide varying power with zero output 4 times a day and present all sorts of environmental problems.

  165. Grey Lensman:

    Your post at September 10, 2013 at 11:03 am says in total

    Richard, excellent study but needs updating. Example with geothermal, Hawaii could be totally energy independent, as could Japan, Indonesia, New Zealand to name but a few. Also water turbines are not beefed up fans, East River in New York found that out to their cost, idiots. Suggest turbine integrated with the generator. Much more viable.

    The paper dealt with the UK situation where nothing has changed except to get worse. Hence, I do not agree it needs updating.

    As for application of geothermal, the only one of the places you list which I have studied is Hawaii (i.e. the Big Island). As you say, technically it could more than supply all its electricity needs from geothermal, and the power would be cheap. However, local culture would put obstacles in the way of taking power from what would be perceived as being the volcanoes. A good alternative for Hawaii (all the islands) would be OTEC for supply of cold water to operate air conditioning. This would be very cheap air conditioning and would provide its own electrical power.

    Not being familiar with the situations of the other places in your list, I cannot comment on them.

    Richard

  166. paulinuk:

    re your post at September 10, 2013 at 1:02 pm.

    Glad to help. That is why we post on WUWT: we can learn from each other. It is a rare day when I don’t learn something from WUWT.

    Richard

  167. @ Gail Combs, you are fixated on a very irrelevant issue, energy returned over energy invested. It is a useless measure, because energy has many different forms and prices.

    I repeat myself: we simply do not care. We can, and often do, use huge amounts of cheap energy to produce more valuable but less energy. I gave the example of diesel-powered emergency generators. I also gave the example of a simple cycle gas turbine peaking power plant. How many more examples will it take to convince you? Here is another: small wind generators that recharge batteries on sailboats.

    You have been trapped into worrying about a non-issue. I hope you can see that, someday.

  168. Excellent, and let’s have the owners of these solar and wind sources PAY for those batteries out of their own pockets and not pull the usual green scam of placing the costs created by green into someone else’s wallet.

  169. @Roger Sowell at 1:49 pm
    We can, and often do, use huge amounts of cheap energy to produce more valuable but less energy

    Name some cases.
    The ones that are true are more like the Boy Scout Flashlight.
    Apollo Fuel Cells.
    Cassini Radioisotope Thermocouple Generators.
    Backyard emergency generators

    What is any thing big?
    The Kern River Steam Flood Oil Field. Back in 1980’s they were burning 1 barrel of every three produced to generate the steam. The point is, if you left it in the ground, there were zero barrels. If you do steam flood, you may burn 1 in 3, but you net 2 you otherwise wouldn’t have.

    Maybe, someday, we could use coal to make oil well drill and casing steel that would ultimately be net energy negative, but burning cheap coal to get valuable liquid hydrocarbons. Maybe… but we are not there yet and there is no guarantee we will.

    Perhaps we can point to agriculture. We might use more energy in petroleum-diesel to farm and bring to market the energy content of the grain we grow. …. Drum Roll …. That’s Biofuels!. But we hardly do that without political subsidies to support that folly. A money loser as well as an energy loser

    Here is another. Electrical heating. Natural Gas is a far better heat source… but it works only if you have a pipeline to your home. Without the pipeline, it is the next best choice.

    Plastics? No. You are taking a cheap feedstock and adding value to turn it into something useful and in demand be thay trash bags or joint replacements.

    What else? Oh! Wind Turbines and PV Solar Panels.

  170. Roger Sowell says:
    September 10, 2013 at 1:49 pm

    @ Gail Combs, you are fixated on a very irrelevant issue, energy returned over energy invested. It is a useless measure, because energy has many different forms and prices.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>…
    Roger, you again missed the whole point. I do agree that things like solar powered fence energizers or diesel generators or flashlight batteries have NICHE markets where energy can have many different forms and prices and you match the usefulness to the price. However the emphasis is on NICHE and a FREE MARKET. President Obama and the EU are NOT TALKING NICHE markets, they are not talking free market. They are talking about drastically changing the major form of energy to fuel our civilization. They are talking and writing laws/regulations implementing lowering CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050 WITHOUT the use of nuclear (which you are against) without the use of coal, without the use of oil, or natural gas. That means your point about “energy has many different forms and prices” just got shot in the head. So you are down to hydro — OOPS, forget hydro the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act already shot that down. As a matter of fact the Greenies want to remove dams and have been meeting with quite a bit of success.

    ….Some 1,000 dams have been taken down over the last 50 years across the United States, but none of the projects was larger than the one that began this week.

    The largest of the two dams stands 210 feet tall. The $325 million project is expected to last three years and eventually restore the Olympic Peninsula river to its wild state and restore salmon runs.

    Before two towering concrete dams were built nearly a century ago, the river teemed with salmon but the structures blocked the fishes’ access to upstream habitat, diminished their runs and altered the ecosystem.

    There has been an acceleration in dam removal in recent years in the United States.

    Numbers provided by American Rivers suggest the 1999 removal of Maine’s Edwards Dam on the Kennebec River set the stage for more than 430 other such projects across the country in the past decade — more than three times the 130 taken down between 1990 and 1998…. http://www.nbcnews.com/id/44554709/ns/us_news-environment/t/largest-dam-removal-aims-bring-salmon-back/#.Ui-UHLARhoA

    So without Fossil fuels, without Natural Gas, without Nuclear and without Hydro what the heck is left that actually returns a decent Net Energy, Unicorn Farts? It is definitely not wind, or solar and again geothermal only works in some areas.

    You may not understand what I am trying to say but it seems some are finally getting the message.

    Nine of Europe’s biggest utilities have joined forces to warn that the EU’s energy policies are putting the continent’s power supplies at risk. Their intervention will put added pressure on EU leaders as they weigh the future of the bloc’s climate change policies.

    They will say that, partly as a result of failed EU policies, Europe’s energy security is no longer guaranteed, carbon emissions are on the rise, investments in the sector are not happening and fuel bills are rising.
    Mr Mestrallet said one of the biggest problems was overgenerous renewable energy subsidies that had pushed up costs for energy consumers and now needed to be cut: “We have to reduce the speed at which Europe is building new wind farms and solar panels. At the moment, it is not sustainable.”

    Governments are split over whether to extend mandatory 2020 targets requiring fewer greenhouse gas emissions and more renewable energy by setting new targets for 2030.
    The nine utility companies – in line with the UK government and some others – do not favour another binding renewable energy target.”

    http://www.thegwpf.org/green-energy-policy-threatens-eus-energy-security-utilities-warn/

  171. @ Gail Combs, now you change the subject. From energy returns to EU policy on curbing CO2 emissions.

    Again, economics will win. If a society can remain competitive with a carbon tax and carbon capture on power plants, then I’d like to see it. If they cannot remain competitive with their Carbon Curbs, then the election process will turn out the greenies and bring back some rational policies. We see this now in Australia.

  172. My husband just came up with the solution. Get the Chinese to hide a mini thorium nuclear reactor in the base of every wind turbine they ship to us and DON”T TELL THE GREENIES (or Roger Sowell)

  173. Stephen Rasey says:
    September 10, 2013 at 3:16 pm

    Gail, Let’s see them take down the dams without the use of fossil fuels.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Can I hand them the pick axes and sledges?? PLEASE? PLEASE?

    They would probably just get Earth First to place b*mbs.

  174. Roger Sowell and Gail Combs:

    With respect, I think you are talking past each other. And you are both right in specifics you are addressing.

    Roger is right when he says at September 10, 2013 at 1:49 pm

    @ Gail Combs, you are fixated on a very irrelevant issue, energy returned over energy invested. It is a useless measure, because energy has many different forms and prices.

    The easiest way to see this is to consider a thermal power station. It loses most of the energy from its fuel and the remaining energy is electricity. Clearly, energy returned is much less than energy invested. But the obtained electricity is worth it. The important thing is the value of the electricity.

    However, Gail is right when she discusses niche markets for e.g. wind. It can be very beneficial to use wind to pump irrigation water distant from a power supply.

    At present, the most important issue is – as Gail says – allowing the market to decide what is wanted where. Mandates for energy sources prevent that.

    Richard

  175. Roger Sowell says:
    September 10, 2013 at 3:19 pm

    @ Gail Combs, now you change the subject. From energy returns to EU policy on curbing CO2 emissions…..
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    No Roger that has been what I have been saying all along and WHY I was saying it. See my comment HERE.

    Without the politicians involved it is may the best technology win and I am all for it. That is what I meant by free market. But that is not the situation as it exist right now. Not with Obama/EPA determined to shut down coal via regulation. See: President Obama’s war on coal is real, industry supporters say

    Why ever did you think I was talking about anything else than the current idiotic political situation?

  176. richardscourtney says: @ September 10, 2013 at 3:29 pm

    …The easiest way to see this is to consider a thermal power station. It loses most of the energy from its fuel and the remaining energy is electricity. Clearly, energy returned is much less than energy invested…..
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    That is not quite it.

    Yes you loose a lot of energy via heat but the total amount of energy invested is still less than the energy gained with coal, oil and natural gas. (Adding up energy cost of mining, transport, fabrication and construction.) This is not true for wind power. Again from Charles S. Opalek, PE, “Wind turbines have an embarrassingly low Energy Returned On Energy Invested [EROI] value of 0.29. The manufacture, installation and operation of wind power facilities will consume more than 3 times the energy they will ever produce.”

    The EROI of oil and natural gas has shrunk from higher than 100 (for domestic US oil at the wellhead) in the 1930 s (Cleveland et al., 1984; Cleveland, 1992; Cleveland, 2005), to around 30 for global oil in the 1990 s (Gagnon et al., 2009), and down to approximately 20 by now (Gagnon et al., 2009; Murphy and Hall, 2011)….

    Calculated EROI values for coal are in the 40 to 80 range (Cleveland et al., 1984; Hall and Day, 2009; King, 2010), and appear to have thus far mostly remained relatively stable….

    To date, approximately 80% of global electricity is of fossil origin…..

    http://www.clca.columbia.edu/241_Raugei_EROI_EP_revised_II_2012-03_VMF.pdf

    AUTHORS:Marco Raugei *1,2, Pere Fullana-i-Palmer1 and Vasilis Fthenakis2,3

    1UNESCO Chair in Life Cycle and Climate Change, Escola Superior de Comerç
    Internacional (ESCI) Universitat Pompeu Fabra, 08003 Barcelona, Spain
    2 Center for Life Cycle Analysis, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027, USA
    3 National Photovoltaic Environmental Research Center, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Upton, NY 11973, USA

    Their graph shows EROI of ~4 to 10.5 for oil fired electricity and ~ 12 to 24 for coal-fired electricity. Since the report is fluffing up Solar the numbers are probably good. (Solar was in the same ball park as oil in this report but as they admit it is real easy to play games with the numbers.)

    I never realized this point was so difficult to get across. Maybe it is because I deal with horses that I find it so clear. If I want to farm with horses I need ~ 5 ac per horse. I also need to add grain to make up for the energy I ‘Steal’ when I have those animals work for me for several hours instead of grazing (The five ac is 2 ac for grazing, the rest for hay and grain.) The more I work the animals the more I have to change the hay/grazing to grain ratio. If I mess up and feed too much grain the animals get too fat and I waste grain. If I do not feed enough grain while working them they become too thin and lose muscle. If I feed them nothing they die.

  177. @ Gail Combs, again, you are fixated on an irrelevant issue. Energy returned is of interest only to academics. No amount of quoting sources or making the same argument will change that.

    And yes, your passing comment about nuclear power was noticed. Nuclear power is just about the MOST expensive, and therefore UNeconomic means of producing electricity that has ever been devised. See Figure 14, from http://www.energy.ca.gov/2009publications/CEC-200-2009-017/CEC-200-2009-017-SD.PDF This is a Comparative Costs of California Central Station Electricity Generation performed by the California Energy Commission, August, 2009. With the sole exception of simple-cycle gas turbines, nuclear power is the most expensive way to generate electricity. The study compared 21 different types of electricity generation, from natural gas, advanced coal, nuclear, wind onshore, wind offshore, geothermal, solar thermal, solar PV, hydroelectric, ocean waves, and biomass. The biggest loser, excepting solo gas turbines, is nuclear at 34 cents per kWh. There are other studies that reached the same conclusion: nuclear power is far too costly.

    So, pardon me if I’m against nuclear power. (insert a large dose of sarcasm on that “pardon me!”) I don’t like to see poor people’s electric bills skyrocket because some fools think it is “cool” to build nuclear power plants. I’ve been poor and unable to pay my electric bill. I do all I can now to stop this nuclear madness. It may not be much, but it’s a worthy goal for which I strive.

    For what little it is worth, I had a little something to do with the South Texas Nuclear Project expansion being mothballed – due to economics. The project was to install an additional two reactors at 1100 MW each, and was cancelled when the reactor designer/vendor reluctantly conceded that the installed cost would be somewhat higher than $17 billion. How much higher, they would not or could not say.

    My views on nuclear power for commercial power generation are on record here:

    http://sowellslawblog.blogspot.com/2011/10/on-nuclear-power-plants.html

  178. Roger Sowell says:
    September 10, 2013 at 5:06 pm

    @ Gail Combs, again, you are fixated on an irrelevant issue. Energy returned is of interest only to academics.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    No Roger it is THE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE.

    Energy invested vs energy gained is the driving force for everything living things do.

    If I am on a South Seas Island and can live off the sea and land every day without much effort there is zero reason to farm or to move. If I live in North America at latitude 43 N I had better invest the energy during the summer/fall to stockpile food to last the winter or invest the energy in following the herds south. Life is all about investing some amount of energy in hunting, gathering plants/fire wood, farming or work for a greater return in the future (food/warmth/shelter/clothing) Modern energy is just an extension of these basics. If you have fire you do not have to burn as many calories to stay warm. Therefore it is worth the calories expended to gather firewood for the winter so you burn less calories later.

    Again in a free market this all gets sorted out. However as soon as politicians get involved and add laws and regulations to the mix Energy Invested vs Energy Gained gets skewed badly. That by the way is what you see in nuclear in California.

    I would also suggest you read The Broken-Window Fallacy since killing off coal and fossil fuels is akin to breaking a perfectly good window.

    BTW Energy invested vs energy gained is the killer for most ‘Green Energy’ if you would just bother to try and grasp the concept.

  179. @ Gail Combs, what you fail to grasp is that I am perfectly familiar with the concept of Energy Returned over Energy Input. That is why I assure you that it is irrelevant. I’m also very familiar with the Broken Windows concept, but I’m puzzled why you raise that issue. Nobody is breaking windows, just to replace them with more windows. If you want to argue that renewable energy is like Broken Windows, I’m afraid that argument has no merit. Renewable energy is an adjunct to the existing power plant infrastructure. It is like adding a smaller window to a house that already has windows.

    Your example of Stockpiling wood for the winter is not in either category. That is simply harvesting energy (wood) now for later use (in cold winter). Where some academics get all excited at EROEI is when evaluating, for example, oil reserves as they gleefully predict Peak Oil. They observe that some oil fields have declining production rates, (note that some have increasing production rates, it depends where one is on the production curve), and that more and more energy is required to keep producing oil. Being impractical academics, they extrapolate where they ought not to, and conclude that eventually, it will require more energy to extract the oil than is obtained from the wells. They then conclude that the EROEI is less than 1 so we should stop using oil at that point. That is completely wrong. Oil has a high value, as lubricants, petrochemical feeds, paving and roofing asphalt, and transportation fuels. It is entirely economic to use a great amount of a low-value energy source such as coal to provide the energy necessary to extract oil. This will be increasingly true as, if and when, oil ever becomes sufficiently scarce that the price increases. To date, oil price on the world market has not risen at all in inflation-adjusted terms since OPEC set the price at $32 in 1980. Again, the energy returned for an investment is useless. Economics is all that matters.

    We can go on and on, arguing the same points, if you like. I do grow weary of this, and it is clear to me that you have a cherished ideal and will not let it go. So, I will conclude my end of the argument and wish you well. One last point: engineers and our investors have spent trillions of dollars over many decades in almost every country on the basis of EROEI being irrelevant. We know, and have always known, that economics is what matters. I suggest you drive past the industrial parks or complexes in any country, and look at all that was built and is still running, probably at a profit, because engineers laugh at EROEI.

    I do hope you reconsider your stance.

  180. @ Gail Combs says:
    September 10, 2013 at 7:32 am
    ***********************************************
    OK, let’s not hyperventilate over the dangers of hydrogen. I worked for Matheson Gas Products for a number of years and the storage, transport, and use of hydrogen wasn’t high on the worry list, even at pressures to 6,000 psig. For the last 40 years or so, GE has produced steam turbines whose bearings are cooled using H2 as the cooling medium, so clearly the handling issues are not intractable. Consideration of electrolysis as a means of storing excess energy is strictly a matter of economics and engineeing (which also in the end comes down to economics).

  181. “”””””…….Stephen Rasey says:

    September 10, 2013 at 10:52 am

    @Gail Combs at 9:44 am
    Corporations are not interested in the best engineering only in the engineering needed to sell the product and get repeat customers. And interlocking corporate directorships.
    ………………………….
    2) There is some fundamental electrical engineering control issue with simultaneous constant charge and highly variable discharge and charge through regen. But haven’t existing Hybrids ironed these problems out?

    A third possibility is that batteries alone can’t provide the needed acceleration and needs direct drive assist. But Tesla Motors invalidates that hypothesis…….””””””””””””

    Well your third possibility, is not a fundamental limitation; as you point out Tesla Motors demonstrates.

    But they have a 416 horsepower engine, along with the accompanying torque to get their thrilling acceleration.

    I would suggest that the Toyota Pius is a better design point, if one is designing practical transportation.

    But having said that, the Tesla Model S, as silly an idea as an electric car is, is a marvelous piece of engineering design. I would have done some things differently; but perhaps if I had a chat with Elon Musk, he might show me why his chosen architecture is better.

    The model S Tesla (and the other model) has a single three phase electric motor. So it has a semi normal rear end with a differential for driving both rear wheels. Not exactly like a regular Detroitosaurus Maximus rear end, but functionally the same.

    I would have put in a pair of three phase electric motors, one for each rear wheel, and used solid state electronics, to generate the three phase AC drive, instead of a rotary DC to three phase AC inverter. Then the differential goes bye bye.

    An advantage of a three phase electric motor, is that it is perfectly happy running with the rotor stalled. That produces the maximum torque; enough to climb trees in the case of the Tesla Model S.

    On potential weakness in the model S is the liquid cooled battery system. Now because of high battery efficiency (low internal resistance) the heat generated is not too severe, so the cooling fluid radiator is quite modest in size.

    But it is positioned in a highly vulnerable location for collision immunity. I’m sure they can fix that, and tuck it away where it is less vulnerable.

    As I said, I think it is an excellent piece of engineering and manufacture; but I still think a can of gasoline, is a much smarter way to store a lot of energy.

    Down the road, if Tesla survives, they probably will have cars with less than 416 horsepower; this one seems to be a proof of concept demonstration. Good luck to them anyway. I’m always happy, when somebody figures out how to take money away from people who have more of it, that common sense.. But if you can get a Tesla model S for the price of a fancy Porsche or BMW; then why not, if you only need a 90 mile driving radius.

    Incidently did you know, that Ferdinand Porsche designed the German Tiger Tank, of WW-II.

    He also designed a rear engine Italian race car called the Cisitalia, sort of a souped up VW beetle. It had a horizontally opposed flat 16 twin overhead camshaft engine; I think it was 1.5 litres supercharged; but don’t quote me on that. Very cool design.

  182. Well down at the far end of the internet, it says the Cisitalia, was a flat 12; well so I made a [mistake]. I think I did that once before; something about CO2 snow. Well never mind; Ferdinand Porsche was some sort of mechanical genius.

    [Most often, misteaks come from cows. Mod]

  183. Richard, I think you forgot the recent M.O.U. between Iceland and the U.K. to import geothermal energy. I believe Belkin will supply the “extension cable” ( TIC)

    As an aside, I worked on the MIDAS scheme in South Wales connected to the building of the Severn Barrage. That was back in 1976. Not much moved along it seems. I agree no need for a barrage but well designed independent turbines, linked by bridge would be very useful. Note double the height of a dam and you double the power but double the speed of flowing water and you quadruple the power.

  184. Pumped water is potential energy storage. I’ve always wondered about kinetic energy storage. I know we have fancy new flywheels made with exotic high tensile materials. But how about going in the other direction by spinning huge amounts of cheap mass at moderate speeds? Perhaps an iceberg could be spun or a specially shaped disk of pykrete. How about a huge circular platform mounted on concentric circular railroad tracks? After all, liberal progressives seem to love trains! On top could be a city, a garden or a slag pile.

    I did some calculations using Wikipedia’s flywheel formulas. I would have a turning disk 1 kilometer in diameter covered with one meter of sand weighing 1500 kilograms per cubic meter. The energy stored could be doubled by adding another meter of sand. My results are a bit discouraging, especially since they do not include any adjustments for conversion losses or friction. I have made a listing of energy values stored for various outside diameter speeds. While I could have made a mistake somewhere, the numbers do seem to make sense. Energy stored increases exponentially with speed. I included a couple g force numbers which also increase exponentially.

    (500 m)**2 * 1 m * 3.14 * 1500 kg/m**3 = 1177500000 kg

    Moment of inertia is: 1177500000 / 2 * 500**2 = 147187500000000 kg*m**2

    Angular velocity is: Outside speed (km/hr) * (2 radians/km) / 3600 sec/hr =
    Outside speed / 1800 radians/sec

    Kinetic energy = (1/2) * 147187500000000 kg*m**2 * (Outside speed/1800

    radians/sec)**2 = Outside speed * 22714120 Joules * .000000278 kilowatt hr/Joules

    = Outside speed**2 * 6.314 kilowatt hr

    5 km/hr (walking) = 157 kwh
    10 km/hr (jogging) = 631 kwh
    20 km/hr (running) = 2525.6 kwh
    30 km/hr (fast running) = 5682.6 kwh
    50 km/hr (city driving) = 15785 kwh
    100 km/hr (highway cruising) = 63140 kwh — pulls .16 g’s
    150 km/hr (autobahn cruising) = 142065 kwh
    200 km/hr (Modest high speed rail) = 252560 kwh
    300 km/hr (fast high speed rail) = 568269 kwh — pulls 1.4 g’s!

  185. Roger Sowell says: @ September 10, 2013 at 7:09 pm

    ….If you want to argue that renewable energy is like Broken Windows, I’m afraid that argument has no merit. Renewable energy is an adjunct to the existing power plant infrastructure. It is like adding a smaller window to a house that already has windows…..
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Missed it again.
    Destroying perfectly good coal power plants and replacing with less useful renewable energy is breaking the window.

  186. NOTE: Everything I am trying to say is in the context of replacing fossil fuel energy with renewables as mandated by a 80% reduction in CO2 by 2050 as I already stated above. It is also using the earlier House of Representatives 25X25 resolution (U.S. Senate unanimous consent on 25×25 in July 2007) Which I forgot to mention earlier.

    America is seeking a new energy future – one that is cleaner, improves national security and strengthens local, state and national economies. The 25x’25 Alliance believes that America’s working lands can provide 25 percent of our energy from renewable resources like wind, solar, and biofuels by the year 2025 while continuing to produce safe, affordable and abundant food, feed and fiber.

    http://www.25×25.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=985&Itemid=57

  187. Grey Lensman:

    I am answering your post at September 10, 2013 at 11:01 pm which is sufficiently short for me to copy it and not link to it here. It says

    Richard, I think you forgot the recent M.O.U. between Iceland and the U.K. to import geothermal energy. I believe Belkin will supply the “extension cable” ( TIC)

    As an aside, I worked on the MIDAS scheme in South Wales connected to the building of the Severn Barrage. That was back in 1976. Not much moved along it seems. I agree no need for a barrage but well designed independent turbines, linked by bridge would be very useful. Note double the height of a dam and you double the power but double the speed of flowing water and you quadruple the power.

    Sorry, but I “forgot” nothing. I also did not mention the connector with France which imports nuclear power to the UK. I was discussing indigenous electricity in the UK as can be seen from the Introduction which explains that the paper is about fulfillment of the objectives specified by UK legislation. The connector to Iceland is not relevant to the subject I was considering unless you wish to claim that 20% of UK electricity demand can be met by import from Iceland of geothermally produced electricity.

    And your suggestion of tidal turbines would avoid the dredging and coastal degradation of a barrage. However, they would be an expensive and pointless addition to power supply for the same reason as windfarms: i.e. they provide intermittent power and variable. This requires back-up from thermal power stations which need to run all the time whether or not the tidal turbines exist. The better option is to not waste money on the turbines and to use the electricity from the thermal power stations which operate – so consume their fuel – all the time whether or not the tidal turbines exist. The same is true for wind turbines.

    As I explained the best option is tidal coffer dams. And paulinuk summarised my argument of why they are preferable to a tidal barrage (or tidal turbines) in his post to me at September 10, 2013 at 1:02 pm where he wrote

    I read your .pdf and consider tidal coffer dams a neater solution as power output is continuous. Tidal barrages only provide varying power with zero output 4 times a day and present all sorts of environmental problems.

    I remind that the “.pdf” is at

    http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/images/stories/papers/reprint/courtney_2006_lecture.pdf

    Richard

  188. Gail Combs:

    I write to ask a serious – n.b. not rhetorical – question.

    In your post at September 11, 2013 at 4:23 am you quote “U.S. Senate unanimous consent on 25×25 in July 2007″ as saying

    America is seeking a new energy future – one that is cleaner, improves national security and strengthens local, state and national economies.

    OK. Any country is entitled to decide whatever energy policy it wants, and I am not questioning that.

    However, a stated (in the quote) objective is “strengthens local, state and national economies”.

    Energy policy can only strengthen “local, state and national economies” by providing cheap, reliable and continuous energy supply. Electricity suppliers maximise their competitiveness by providing cheap, reliable and continuous energy supply. And electricity consumers want cheap, reliable and continuous energy supply.

    But renewables provide expensive, unreliable, and intermittent energy supply.

    So, my question is
    What reasons does the government state for mandating expensive, unreliable, and intermittent energy supply from renewables when government, electricity suppliers and electricity consumers all want cheap, reliable and continuous energy supply?

    I know the reasons stated by UK government and the EU but I am asking about the US situation that you are reporting.

    With thanks in anticipation

    Richard

  189. @ Gail Combs, even if coal-fired power plants are shut down by green mandates, they will not be replaced by renewable power. They will be replaced with natural gas-fired power. Renewables may be built also, but they will trade off with the natural gas on almost a one-for-one basis.

    The net effect is positive, because the natural gas-fired power plants are more efficient, less polluting, and use less cooling water. Ask any engineer, all of us can confirm this.

    Even in crazy California, where green laws are very strong, natural gas-fired power is what we build.

    You could look it up.

  190. Canman 11:25 pm
    an Interesting mental visual.
    “200 mph = 252560 kwh”
    When dealing with home storage of electrical energy, kwh is an appropriate unit.
    But in discussions of grid scale energy storage, you must use gigawatt-day (GW-Day)
    1 GW-Day = 24,000,000 kwh.
    This does not help much until you equate in your mind that
    1 GW-Day = one 100-car coal unit train converted to electricity. We see those every day.

    So that 1 km diameter by 1 meter thick disk spinning with an edge speed of 200 km/hr will store the energy of about 0.01 GW-day or 1 coal car.

  191. @george e. smith at 10:07 pm
    My comment about Tesla was just to establish the point that the battery alone is enough to provide the desired acceleration of an all-electric vehicle.

    So I return to my root question. If the battery is enough, why does Prius and other hybrids use the gasoline engine through a gear-box for direct drive instead of simply using it solely as a constant speed elecrical generator?

  192. Stephen Rasey says:
    September 11, 2013 at 8:26 am (replying to)

    Canman 11:25 pm

    When dealing with home storage of electrical energy, kwh is an appropriate unit.
    But in discussions of grid scale energy storage, you must use gigawatt-day (GW-Day)
    1 GW-Day = 24,000,000 kwh.
    This does not help much until you equate in your mind that
    1 GW-Day = one 100-car coal unit train converted to electricity. We see those every day.

    So that 1 km diameter by 1 meter thick disk spinning with an edge speed of 200 km/hr will store the energy of about 0.01 GW-day or 1 coal car.

    A second comparison: A 1200 Megawatt power plant spins a 250 ton high-pressure turbine and rotor + a intermediate pressure turbine and rotor + 2 or more low pressure turbines and rotors + generator rotor at 3600 rpm to generate 60 Hz power to the grid. If steam power is lost, that total inertia of all of those spinning parts can continue to generate power for …. about 2 or 3 seconds. After that, it is spinning too slow to continue to link to the grid frequency, and must be shut down. But to keep that mass of very carefully balanced steel and blading and rotors cool and to keep the system from being destroyed, it must be kept turning with cooling oil and condensor vacuum for another 2 days before the oil can be turned off.

    That spinning mass of fiberglass and steel in a gyro generator storage device will need to be 3600 TIMES the capacity of our largest current power plant turbines and generators just to maintain power for one hour (3600 seconds in an hour). And don’t evenTHINKaboutwhat will happen to that carefully balanced ultra-high speed spinning mass of plastic if the operators …

    Lose vacuum for a minute.
    Lose lube oil to the bearings.
    Have an earthquake which shakes the whole county (much less the building!)
    Get flooded out.
    Have an ice fall on the building roof or turbine support piping.

    It would be like ten Saturn 5 rockets blowing up. Not much left to salvage – including the operators.
    Sure. It’s not “radioactive” and eventually all of the parts will stop moving and hit the ground. Somewhere.

  193. Gail is right about energy return. Her point is if you find two barrels of oil and you can burn those two and pull 5 more out of the ground then you can run your society with three of every 5 barrels you pump. These can be used for charging batteries, electrification, asphalt production, or whatever else you need. However, if you would only be able to pump 1 barrel then it is game over for everything else since you cannot run your society.
    Roger, you are talking about uses of the oil after it has been pumped. Gail is not saying that energy stored in oil will never be converted to other types, she is saying that if for every therm you dig up you can only extract 0.5 therms then society is in big big trouble.
    However, there is also the issue of economics. The fact is that if extra energy cannot be extracted and sold into the market then nobody would finance such an operation since there could never be any profit. The endeavor is limited by both energy return and capital return.
    Also for everyone talking about flywheels, they are used for frequency regulation on the grid. They are indeed useful, but for very specific purposes. Batteries would only be used to load balance until bigger reserves (hydro) could turn on. The batteries needed would be on the orders of minutes, not weeks.

  194. Roger Sowell says:
    September 11, 2013 at 6:57 am

    @ Gail Combs, even if coal-fired power plants are shut down by green mandates, they will not be replaced by renewable power. They will be replaced with natural gas-fired power….

    Even in crazy California, where green laws are very strong, natural gas-fired power is what we build.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Roger, I am well aware of the fact the Natural gas advocates jumped in bed with the greenies. But that does not mean they will not eventually be a target if the suicidal Greenies get their way.

    Enron And BP Invented The Global Warming Industry – Chris Horner
    Enron, joined by BP, invented the global warming industry. I know because I was in the room….
    The basic truth is that Enron, joined by other “rent-seeking” industries — making one’s fortune from policy favors from buddies in government, the cultivation of whom was a key business strategy — cobbled their business plan around “global warming.” Enron bought, on the cheap of course, the world’s largest windmill company (now GE Wind) and the world’s second-largest solar panel interest (now BP) to join Enron’s natural gas pipeline network, which was the second largest in the world. The former two can only make money under a system of massive mandates and subsidies (and taxes to pay for them); the latter would prosper spectacularly if the war on coal succeeded.

    Enron then engaged green groups to scare people toward accepting those policies. That is what is known as a Baptist and bootlegger coalition. I sat in on such meetings. Disgraceful….

    (This answers the actual ‘Why’ for Richard)

    The problem comes in when you look at the mix.
    The EU pledged “80% reduction from 1990 levels for all greenhouse gases” and so did Obama. The USA Congressional Resolution is 25 % renewable from farms and forests by 2025, 12 years from now.

    So what do the numbers from the US government show us?
    U.S. carbon dioxide emissions from energy in 1990 were 5.039 billion metric tons CO2 and in 2011 = 5.471 billion metric tons CO2. Reducing US emission by 80% gives 1.0078 billion metric tons CO2 allowed in 2050. Since in 2011 Natural Gas is ALREADY 24% of that 5.471 billion metric tons CO2. You will not be able to substitute Natural Gas for Petroleum or Coal. In fact to meet the political target you will have to CLOSE DOWN some of the natural gas usage.

    RANDOM INFORMATION SUPPORTING THE ABOVE:
    Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Annual Energy Review 2011

    http://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/annual/pdf/aer.pdf

    Notes:
    • Data are preliminary.
    • Values are derived from source data prior to rounding for publication.
    • Totals may not equal sum of components due to independent rounding.

    That source gives for domestic use in the USA in 2011:
    Petroleum 35.28
    Nat’l gas 24.84
    Coal 19.64
    Nuclear 8.26
    Renewable 9.14
    TOTAL 97.16

    The EIA graph: Share of Generation by Major Fossil Fuels for selected years (19990 – 20101) in the middle of the page gives: (For electric generation)

    YEAR……….1990………2011
    Coal…………54.2%…..43.4%
    Petroleum…..4.1%…….0.7%
    Natural Gas…10.7%…..23.5%

    A last set of charts on the page gives Energy-related CO2 emissions, share by fuel”
    …….Energy Consumption… CO2 Emissions
    Coal……………………20%…………34%
    Petroleum……………36%…………42%
    Natural Gas…………26%…………24%
    Other…………………..18%…………N/A

    I am sorry Roger, natural gas is not going to get us out of the political dilemma except in the short term. Do I think we will stay on this suicidal course? Of course not. We will only stay on it until the hidden objectives of the powerful are achieved. But whatever those objectives are they are NOT favorable for the likes of you and me because otherwise they would not have to be hidden now would they?

    Roger Sowell says:
    September 11, 2013 at 6:57 am

    @ Gail Combs, even if coal-fired power plants are shut down by green mandates, they will not be replaced by renewable power. They will be replaced with natural gas-fired power….

    Even in crazy California, where green laws are very strong, natural gas-fired power is what we build.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Roger, I am well aware of the fact the Natural gas advocates jumped in bed with the greenies. But that does not mean they will not eventually be a target if the suicidal Greenies get their way.

    Enron And BP Invented The Global Warming Industry – Chris Horner
    Enron, joined by BP, invented the global warming industry. I know because I was in the room….
    The basic truth is that Enron, joined by other “rent-seeking” industries — making one’s fortune from policy favors from buddies in government, the cultivation of whom was a key business strategy — cobbled their business plan around “global warming.” Enron bought, on the cheap of course, the world’s largest windmill company (now GE Wind) and the world’s second-largest solar panel interest (now BP) to join Enron’s natural gas pipeline network, which was the second largest in the world. The former two can only make money under a system of massive mandates and subsidies (and taxes to pay for them); the latter would prosper spectacularly if the war on coal succeeded.

    Enron then engaged green groups to scare people toward accepting those policies. That is what is known as a Baptist and bootlegger coalition. I sat in on such meetings. Disgraceful….

    (This answers the actual ‘Why’ for Richard)

    The problem comes in when you look at the mix.
    The EU pledged “80% reduction from 1990 levels for all greenhouse gases” and so did Obama. The USA Congressional Resolution is 25 % renewable from farms and forests by 2025, 12 years from now.

    So what do the numbers from the US government show us?
    U.S. carbon dioxide emissions from energy in 1990 were 5.039 billion metric tons CO2 and in 2011 = 5.471 billion metric tons CO2. Reducing US emission by 80% gives 1.0078 billion metric tons CO2 allowed in 2050. Since in 2011 Natural Gas is ALREADY 24% of that 5.471 billion metric tons CO2. You will not be able to substitute Natural Gas for Petroleum or Coal. In fact to meet the political target you will have to CLOSE DOWN some of the natural gas usage.

    RANDOM INFORMATION SUPPORTING THE ABOVE:
    Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Annual Energy Review 2011

    http://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/annual/pdf/aer.pdf

    Notes:
    • Data are preliminary.
    • Values are derived from source data prior to rounding for publication.
    • Totals may not equal sum of components due to independent rounding.

    That source gives for domestic use in the USA in 2011:
    Petroleum 35.28
    Nat’l gas 24.84
    Coal 19.64
    Nuclear 8.26
    Renewable 9.14
    TOTAL 97.16

    The EIA graph: Share of Generation by Major Fossil Fuels for selected years (19990 – 20101) in the middle of the page gives: (For electric generation)

    YEAR……….1990………2011
    Coal…………54.2%…..43.4%
    Petroleum…..4.1%…….0.7%
    Natural Gas…10.7%…..23.5%

    A last set of charts on the page gives Energy-related CO2 emissions, share by fuel”
    …….Energy Consumption… CO2 Emissions
    Coal……………………20%…………34%
    Petroleum……………36%…………42%
    Natural Gas…………26%…………24%
    Other…………………..18%…………N/A

    I am sorry Roger, natural gas is not going to get us out of the political dilemma except in the short term. Do I think we will stay on this suicidal course? Of course not. We will only stay on it until the hidden objectives of the powerful are achieved. But whatever those objectives are they are NOT favorable for the likes of you and me because otherwise they would not have to be hidden now would they?

    Roger Sowell says:
    September 11, 2013 at 6:57 am

    @ Gail Combs, even if coal-fired power plants are shut down by green mandates, they will not be replaced by renewable power. They will be replaced with natural gas-fired power….

    Even in crazy California, where green laws are very strong, natural gas-fired power is what we build.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Roger, I am well aware of the fact the Natural gas advocates jumped in bed with the greenies. But that does not mean they will not eventually be a target if the suicidal Greenies get their way.

    Enron And BP Invented The Global Warming Industry – Chris Horner
    Enron, joined by BP, invented the global warming industry. I know because I was in the room….
    The basic truth is that Enron, joined by other “rent-seeking” industries — making one’s fortune from policy favors from buddies in government, the cultivation of whom was a key business strategy — cobbled their business plan around “global warming.” Enron bought, on the cheap of course, the world’s largest windmill company (now GE Wind) and the world’s second-largest solar panel interest (now BP) to join Enron’s natural gas pipeline network, which was the second largest in the world. The former two can only make money under a system of massive mandates and subsidies (and taxes to pay for them); the latter would prosper spectacularly if the war on coal succeeded.

    Enron then engaged green groups to scare people toward accepting those policies. That is what is known as a Baptist and bootlegger coalition. I sat in on such meetings. Disgraceful….

    (This answers the actual ‘Why’ for Richard)

    The problem comes in when you look at the mix.
    The EU pledged “80% reduction from 1990 levels for all greenhouse gases” and so did Obama. The USA Congressional Resolution is 25 % renewable from farms and forests by 2025, 12 years from now.

    So what do the numbers from the US government show us?
    U.S. carbon dioxide emissions from energy in 1990 were 5.039 billion metric tons CO2 and in 2011 = 5.471 billion metric tons CO2. Reducing US emission by 80% gives 1.0078 billion metric tons CO2 allowed in 2050. Since in 2011 Natural Gas is ALREADY 24% of that 5.471 billion metric tons CO2. You will not be able to substitute Natural Gas for Petroleum or Coal. In fact to meet the political target you will have to CLOSE DOWN some of the natural gas usage.

    RANDOM INFORMATION SUPPORTING THE ABOVE:
    Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Annual Energy Review 2011

    http://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/annual/pdf/aer.pdf

    Notes:
    • Data are preliminary.
    • Values are derived from source data prior to rounding for publication.
    • Totals may not equal sum of components due to independent rounding.

    That source gives for domestic use in the USA in 2011:
    Petroleum 35.28
    Nat’l gas 24.84
    Coal 19.64
    Nuclear 8.26
    Renewable 9.14
    TOTAL 97.16

    The EIA graph: Share of Generation by Major Fossil Fuels for selected years (19990 – 20101) in the middle of the page gives: (For electric generation)

    YEAR……….1990………2011
    Coal…………54.2%…..43.4%
    Petroleum…..4.1%…….0.7%
    Natural Gas…10.7%…..23.5%

    A last set of charts on the page gives Energy-related CO2 emissions, share by fuel”
    …….Energy Consumption… CO2 Emissions
    Coal……………………20%…………34%
    Petroleum……………36%…………42%
    Natural Gas…………26%…………24%
    Other…………………..18%…………N/A

    I am sorry Roger, natural gas is not going to get us out of the political dilemma except in the short term. Do I think we will stay on this suicidal course? Of course not. We will only stay on it until the hidden objectives of the powerful are achieved. But whatever those objectives are they are NOT favorable for the likes of you and me because otherwise they would not have to be hidden now would they?

    [Gail: Duplicate paragraphs in the above? Mod]

  195. Richard: The 25X25 press release is at:

    http://www.25×25.org/storage/25×25/documents/PartnerContactDocuments/houseadoptsresolution10-15-07-final.pdf

    Congressional Endorsements: http://www.25×25.org/storage/25×25/documents/Endorsements/congressional_endorsements.pdf

    That is from: http://www.25×25.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=349&Itemid=57

    The Propaganda blurb says:

    Why Renewables

    Most Americans support an increasing role for renewable energy. Renewable energy comes from local resources, so it improves national security; creates jobs in rural America and in manufacturing; provides energy at stable prices that will never run out; and reduces urban smog and pollution that contributes to global warming.

    Renewable energy can be harnessed in every one of our 50 states-from resources like wind, solar, hydro, and biofuels. 20 states and the District of Columbia already require a minimum level of renewable energy in their electric power consumption. Renewable energy, in the form of biofuels, can also be used in the transportation sector to power our cars and trucks, which reduces our dependence on oil from the Middle East.

  196. Stephen Rasey says:
    September 11, 2013 at 8:34 am
    @george e. smith at 10:07 pm
    My comment about Tesla was just to establish the point that the battery alone is enough to provide the desired acceleration of an all-electric vehicle.

    So I return to my root question. If the battery is enough, why does Prius and other hybrids use the gasoline engine through a gear-box for direct drive instead of simply using it solely as a constant speed elecrical generator?

    As an engineer, I would answer your question with another: What happens to the motorist if the battery goes south suddenly for any reason under a) direct gas drive available and b) direct gas drive not available? To most engineers the correct design solution is immediately obvious.

  197. Gail Combs:

    Thankyou for the answers you provide to my question in your posts at September 11, 2013 at 9:41 am and September 11, 2013 at 9:53 am.

    As you say in the former of those posts

    The EU pledged “80% reduction from 1990 levels for all greenhouse gases” and so did Obama. The USA Congressional Resolution is 25 % renewable from farms and forests by 2025, 12 years from now.

    I understand those are the decisions. And the links in your latter post inform how strongly those decisions are politically endorsed in your country. Thankyou for that information.

    Possibly the answer to my question is not known or I failed to state it adequately.

    I remind that I wrote

    What reasons does the {US} government state for mandating expensive, unreliable, and intermittent energy supply from renewables when government, electricity suppliers and electricity consumers all want cheap, reliable and continuous energy supply?

    I know the reasons stated by UK government and the EU but I am asking about the US situation that you are reporting.

    The EU is mandating adoption of renewables in hope of fulfilling ‘green’ desires.
    The UK is mandating adoption of renewables in hope of fulfilling EU dictates.

    But the US does not have significant ‘green’ representation in its legislature, and I am not aware of any ‘green’ political activity in the US with sufficient public support to influence US government policy. Therefore, it seems the reason for mandating adoption of renewables in the US cannot be the same as it is in the EU.

    Hence, I am trying to understand why adoption of renewables is being adopted in the US when the US does not have the influence of ‘green’ political parties to encourage that adoption.

    My interest is more than mere curiosity. If ‘greens’ fail in the EU then whatever is affecting US energy policy may remain. So, I am interested in determining what is affecting US energy policy.

    And I feel sure that some American readers of WUWT must know the answer to my question.

    Richard

  198. @richardscourtney at 10:33 am
    when the US does not have the influence of ‘green’ political parties to encourage that adoption.
    The Green’s are in bed with the Big Government Democrat Party and mistress to crony capitalists of the Republican Party who like Big Government when it suits them.

  199. @D.J. Hawkins at10:13 am
    As an engineer, I would answer your question with another: What happens to the motorist if the battery goes south suddenly for any reason under a) direct gas drive available and b) direct gas drive not available? To most engineers the correct design solution is immediately obvious.

    Maybe I’m think, but it is not obvious. There are always cost/benefits to be considered in every design choice, with Cost and Benefit intersecting probability distributions.

    I take it you come at it from a redundancy argument. I could counter that a simpler and cheaper approach would be to make the Batteries physically redundant, so that a failure of one doesn’t cascade into the failure of others. Separate motors could be used for front and back wheels, too. How many spare engines do you have in your gasoline car? (“That is not the trunk. That is the auxiliary motor!”)

    It just occurred to me that I might be mis-understanding the gearbox. Maybe it is a pure direct electrical drive, but using the gearbox to optimize electrical torque. Anyone know?

  200. @ Gail Combs, we finally agree, at least in part, on something.  I wrote in 2010 of the folly of 80 percent reductions in carbon emissions.  From my blog, 

    “Now for the grim part. (referencing Figure 1) The last pair of bars, above “2050,” shows what California must do to meet the “80 by 50″ portion of the regulations. “80 by 50″ means that by 2050, emissions must be reduced to 80 percent below the 1990 level. The Business as Usual case (the dark red bar) for 2050 is just over 1200, yet the regulations require emissions of only 87, as shown by the pale bar. That is a 93 percent reduction. Californians will be allowed only 7 percent of the emissions compared to what would ordinarily occur without such regulations. And that, my friends and readers, is a problem. It is a problem because no society, ever, not in all of history, has accomplished such a thing. Not even California with all its Silicon Valley innovators and green startup companies knows how to do this. How can I say this with confidence? Because I am an engineer, and not only studied physics and engineering, but practiced in the field for decades before learning the law and becoming an attorney. As I wrote here, there are certain physical limits to the amount of energy that must be applied and supplied to accomplish any given task. To believe that today’s techniques waste 93 percent of that energy is naive.”

    http://sowellslawblog.blogspot.com/2010/02/80-by-50-under-california-ab-32.html?m=0

  201. richardscourtney says: @ September 11, 2013 at 10:33 am
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Sorry I did not make the connections obvious. Enron and a bunch of other corporations/elite saw CAGW as a great mechanism for transferring wealth via tax dollars from the general population to their pockets.

    So you get as Chris Horner said “what is known as a Baptist and bootlegger coalition.” This was in the office of the Republican President Bush by the way.

    What no one ever connects is how these fringe groups ever got so much power in the first place. It take money, political pull and the ear of the ‘Press’

    “Very few of even the larger international NGOs are operationally democratic, in the sense that members elect officers or direct policy on particular issues,” notes Peter Spiro. “Arguably it is more often money than membership that determines influence, and money more often represents the support of centralized elites, such as major foundations, than of the grass roots.” The CGG has benefited substantially from the largesse of the MacArthur, Carnegie, and Ford Foundations. http://www.afn.org/~govern/strong.html

    The Rockefeller/Maurice Strong connection
    Maurice Strong, “a socialist in ideology, a capitalist in methodology,” (his words) worked in Saudi Arabia for a Rockefeller company, Caltex, in 1953 He left Caltex in 1954 and worked at high levels in banking and oil. By 1971, he served as a trustee for the Rockefeller Foundation, and in 1972 was Secretary-General of the U.N. Conference on the Human Environment,. He was Co-founder of the WWF and Senior Advisor to the World Bank and the UN.

    …in 1989, he [Strong] was appointed Secretary General of the Earth Summit — shortly thereafter flying down to Rio.
    Strong’s flexibility, however, must not be mistaken for open-mindedness….given his ability to get things done, the consistency of his support for a world managed by bureaucrats is alarming. As Elaine Dewar wrote in Toronto’s Saturday Night magazine:

    It is instructive to read Strong’s 1972 Stockholm speech and compare it with the issues of Earth Summit 1992. Strong warned urgently about global warming, the devastation of forests, the loss of biodiversity, polluted oceans, the population time bomb. Then as now, he invited to the conference the brand-new environmental NGOs [non-governmental organizations]: he gave them money to come; they were invited to raise hell at home. After Stockholm, environment issues became part of the administrative framework in Canada, the U.S., Britain, and Europe….
    Strong blurted out that he’d almost been shut out of the Earth Summit by people at the State Department. They had been overruled by the White House because George Bush knew him. He said that he’d donated some $100,000 to the Democrats and a slightly lesser amount to the Republicans in 1988….

    …Above all, he served on the Commission on Global Governance — which, as we shall see, plays a crucial part in the international power grab.  The Commission on Global Governance. (CGG) was established in 1992, after Rio, at the suggestion of Willy Brandt, former West German chancellor and head of the Socialist International. In 1991, the Club of Rome (of which Strong is, of course, a member) issued a report called The First Global Revolution, which asserted that current problems “are essentially global and cannot be solved through individual country initiatives.”… http://www.afn.org/~govern/strong.html

    The whole Rockefeller/Strong/Saudi/Khashoggi/CIA/Bush/oil/banking interconnections are worth pursuing considering the 1973 Oil Crisis bankrupted third World Countries so they had to get World bank/IMF loans with SAPs strings controlling their governments.
    SEE: (http://www.whirledbank.org/development/sap.html )

    Strong’s early work with YMCA international “…may have been the genesis of Strong’s realization that NGOs (non-government organizations) provide an excellent way to use NGOs to couple the money from philanthropists and business with the objectives of government.” (sovereignty.net/p/sd/strong.html )

    The ‘Innocents’ Clubs’
    (http://www.heretical.com/miscella/munzen.html )

    …During the 1920’s and most of the 1930’s Münzenberg played a leading role in the Comintern, Lenin’s front for world-wide co-ordination of the left under Russian control. Under Münzenberg’s direction, hundreds of groups, committees and publications cynically used and manipulated the devout radicals of the West….Most of this army of workers in what Münzenberg called ‘Innocents’ Clubs’ had no idea they were working for Stalin. They were led to believe that they were advancing the cause of a sort of socialist humanism. The descendents of the ‘Innocents’ Clubs’ are still hard at work in our universities and colleges. Every year a new cohort of impressionable students join groups like the Anti-Nazi League believing them to be benign opponents of oppression…

    And what is left out of that quote is they are now funded and controlled by elite foundations.

    … Over the last quarter-century, historians have by and large ceased writing about the role of ruling elites in the country’s evolution. Or if they have taken up the subject, they have done so to argue against its salience for grasping the essentials of American political history. Yet there is something peculiar about this recent intellectual aversion, even if we accept as true the beliefs that democracy, social mobility, and economic dynamism have long inhibited the congealing of a ruling stratum. This aversion has coincided, after all, with one of the largest and fastest-growing disparities in the division of income and wealth in American history….Neglecting the powerful had not been characteristic of historical work before World War II. ” (http://hnn.us/roundup/archives/11/2005/3/#11068 )

    Notice how the 25X25 organizations invokes the name of “US FARMERS” as part of the justification.

    Economic Concentration in Agribusiness: Testimony to the United States Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry (1999)

    …There is considerable evidence that the economic power of global agribusiness giants has increased dramatically in the decade of the 1990s. If this power grows unchecked, a few closely knit global agribusiness corporations may control the food supply and food prices. It is my considered opinion that market power is getting out of balance…. http://www.competitivemarkets.com/ipowerweb/library/testimony/2002andunder/1-26-99.htm

    And this was before we got stuck with the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2010.

    It is a nasty tangle of power, money and politics and the losers are always the little guy.

    International Monetary Fund Report
    ….In many countries the distribution of income has become more unequal, and the top earners’ share of income in particular has risen dramatically. In the United States the share of the top 1 percent has close to tripled over the past three decades, now accounting for about 20 percent of total U.S. income (Alvaredo and others, 2012)….

  202. Roger Sowell says:
    September 11, 2013 at 12:01 pm

    @ Gail Combs, we finally agree, at least in part, on something…..
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    AHhhh, so we are finally on the same page. :>)

    I am not an engineer so I may have been using the incorrect words to try and get across my concept. (Would not be the first time.)

    I am just hoping people wake up to the fact that humans only exist outside the tropics because we have been able to harness energy and use it. Cut off a cheap plentiful USEFUL supply of energy and you sentence us to death/riots/war.

  203. Stephen Rasey and Gail Combs:

    Sincere thanks for the answers to my question which you provide at September 11, 2013 at 10:58 am and September 11, 2013 at 12:11 pm, respectively.

    The issue seems to be summarised by these two comments of Gail

    What no one ever connects is how these fringe groups ever got so much power in the first place.

    and

    It is a nasty tangle of power, money and politics and the losers are always the little guy.

    OK. I get that. And although – because I am not an American – I can never fully understand American culture, I do understand how in America influence can be so great that it amounts to power: hence, the common American phrase, “Follow the money”.

    Clearly, the American situation is not likely to be transferable across the pond, at least not in its American form. But our present problems are similar in effect because ‘greens’ have direct political power over here.

    Your answers have been very helpful. Thankyou.

    Richard

  204. Jim Cripwell says:
    September 9, 2013 at 10:56 am

    So it is not “a simple matter of turning down the back up fossil or nuclear plant that are always required.”

    It’s much worse than that. Ramping up and down is very costly, compared to steady baseload operation, and very hard on the hardware. And the sweetheart pricing and prioritizing means the conventional plants get fractions of the revenue for output that the “clean” sources do, and are swiftly driven into bankruptcy.

    Stupidity on stilts.

  205. A “bypass” solution [is] in the works, which I like to direct attention to periodically.

    Dispatchable 24/7/365 (= easy to ramp instantly)
    5¢/W capital cost.
    0.3¢/kWh output
    Unlimited fuel sources.
    No waste.
    No radioactivity.
    Distributed.
    Very compact (about 1-2 shipping containers/5 MW generator w. housing)

    LPPhysics.com

    Additional funding required, $2M short-term (1 yr.), $50M long-term (4 yrs) Thereafter wildly profitable.

  206. Counterpoint on LPPhysics.

    The results quoted by Lerner did not show that the focus device which he has developed was significantly better than other devices and there was no evidence that a commercial fusion device was any closer. (Hopkins Jun 20, 2012)

    http://mikebhopkins.wordpress.com/2012/06/20/why-lawrenceville-plasma-physics-results-are-not-even-wrong-a-detailed-analysis/

    There is surprisingly little info for something so wildly profitable in the near future.

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