EIA: “About 25% of U.S. power plants can start up within an hour”

Guess “Did you know?” by David Middleton

In a world where mostly unreliable power plant (solar & wind) construction is on the rise, backup power generation becomes more important every day. Unreliable generation capacity in the US has doubled since 2013 and now comprises 12% of our generating capacity. Backup power needs to be able to spin up quickly, ideally within minutes, certainly in less than 1 hour.

NOVEMBER 19, 2020
About 25% of U.S. power plants can start up within an hour

About 25% of U.S. power plants can start up—going from being shut down to fully operating—within one hour, based on data collected in EIA’s annual survey of electric generators. Some power plants, especially those powered by coal and nuclear fuel, require more than half a day to reach full operations. The time it takes a power plant to reach full operations can affect the reliability and operations of the electric grid.

Generator startup time differs across electricity-generating technologies because of the differences in the complexity of electricity generating processes, especially when starting again after all processes have been stopped (cold shut down). A generator’s startup time is different from a generator’s ramp rate, which reflects how quickly that generator can modify its power output once it’s operating.

Most hydroelectric turbines, which use flowing water to spin a turbine, can go from cold start to full operations in less than 10 minutes. Combustion turbines, which use a combusted fuel-air mixture to spin a turbine, are also relatively fast to start up.

Steam turbines often require more time. A fuel heats up water to form steam, and that steam needs to reach certain temperature, pressure, and moisture content thresholds before it can be directed to a turbine that can spin the electricity generator.

Nuclear power plants use steam turbines, but these plants have additional time-intensive processes that involve managing their nuclear fuel. Almost all nuclear power plants require more than 12 hours to reach full operations. Power plants that require more than 12 hours to start up are increasingly rare. Only 4% of the generating capacity that came online from 2010 to 2019 requires more than half a day to reach full load.

Natural gas combined-cycle systems, which involve both a steam turbine and a combustion turbine, account for more capacity than any other generating technology in the United States. Most of those systems can reach full operations in between 1 hour to 12 hours, although some can start up within an hour.

The percentage of the generator fleet that does not respond to this question in EIA’s survey has doubled—from 6% in 2013, when EIA first collected this data, to 12% in 2019—as a result of the number of utility-scale solar and wind power plants added in recent years. This question is not relevant for these types of plants.

Principal contributor: Owen Comstock


63% of US generating capacity requires more than 1 hour to go from cold start to full load.

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Annual Electric Generator Inventory

Hydroelectric turbines are the fastest fastest from cold start to full load.

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Annual Electric Generator Inventory
Note: Only technology/fuel combinations with at least 10 gigawatts of operating capacity are shown.

The concept is not applicable to wild and solar. In the example below a wind turbine starts generating electricity when the wind speed exceeds 8 miles per hour (mph), reaches full output at 31 mph and blows up (/Sarc) at 55 mph. To quote Sammy Hagar, “I can’t drive fifty-five!”

The Power Curve: Note specific wind speeds vary by types of turbines. (Figure Credit: Sarah Harman, DOE)

On sunny days, solar PV takes about 4 hours to go from cold start to full output, works for about 4 hours and then ramps down for about 4 hours.

Solar PV keeps “banker’s hours”. (DOE)

Unless the weather’s bad.

Solar doesn’t show up for work on cloudy days. (DOE)

Fortunately for those of us who like to have electricity at night, on cloudy days and on days with too little or too much wind, natural gas combined cycle is the generating source that’s mostly replacing coal.

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Annual Electric Generator Report and Preliminary Monthly Electric Generator Inventory

And we all know where that cheap natural gas is coming from…


How about some Sammy Hagar?

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November 20, 2020 2:18 pm

Molten salt small modular nuclear reactors can ramp up (or down) very rapidly, eliminating most peak load generators.

Carl Friis-Hansen
Reply to  ColMosby
November 20, 2020 2:59 pm

Mosby, are MSRs fast due to small power or is it due to the way they function?

tsk tsk
Reply to  Carl Friis-Hansen
November 20, 2020 9:30 pm

it’s more due to the way they function. It’s not just turn off/on like a gas turbine, but they can load follow better than conventional light water reactors.

Reply to  ColMosby
November 20, 2020 3:05 pm

Why don’t you show us the production units that you used to make this claim?

Oh, you still don’t have anything but small scale short term laboratory experiments?

What is it about investors and their desire to push press bulletins as if they were real data?

John F Hultquist
Reply to  ColMosby
November 20, 2020 3:59 pm

That’s great Col,
As I write it is 4 pm.
Please show how much electricity your installed plants can be producing by 5 pm.

Dennis G Sandberg
Reply to  John F Hultquist
November 20, 2020 5:37 pm

John, 5 PM, November 20, 2035 full scale commercial operation…at best.

CD in Wisconsin
Reply to  ColMosby
November 20, 2020 5:53 pm


I have replied to one of your comments like this in the past, and it looks as though I will have to do it again.

You need to be careful about posting comments here at WUWT that sound like sales pitches for a nuclear technology which is still many years away from demonstrating commercial viability, if it will at all. Here in the 21st century, research and development for MSRs has only been going on now for about 10-12 years (since being rediscovered in 2008), and any possible demonstration plant being planned is still many years away. In the meantime, I keep my eyes on the many companies working on the MSR with both public and private money behind them. Elysium’s Molten Chloride Fast Reactor is but one example….


While I too fully support the R&D work going on for MSRs and other 4th generation nuclear, my enthusiasm is tempered by the realization that there are no guarantees regarding their commercial viability. MSRs do indeed look good on the drawing board, and the MSR experiment at Oak Ridge back in the 1960s did indeed sounded promising. But the abandonment of the technology in the early 1970s in favor of the pressurized light water reactor resulted in nearly 4 decades of lost development time for the MSR. Nixon and a U.S. Navy rear admiral (whose name escapes me at the moment) were two of the people responsible for it.

The bottom line is that you shouldn’t count all of your chickens before they are hatched Colonel. If MSRs do indeed turn out to be as good in real life as they do on paper, their day in the limelight will come soon enough.

In the meantime Colonel, please spare us the sales pitches. Thank you.

Reply to  CD in Wisconsin
November 20, 2020 7:45 pm

Rickover. Wanted light water for the plutonium potential.

tsk tsk
Reply to  OweninGA
November 20, 2020 9:34 pm

That’s a myth. Civilian reactors are useless for making weapons grade Pu. It’s made in specialized reactors run in sprints to prevent excessive 240PU production which poisons it for weapon building.

LWR reactors work just fine in steel shells in submarines and even carriers where you only need 10s of MW of power. The problem is they don’t scale well in the GW range and using steam as a coolant with its small phase change range is very suboptimal, but it’s what we have today.

tsk tsk
Reply to  CD in Wisconsin
November 20, 2020 9:28 pm

Fast Breeders killed MSRE, not PWR. Then when that project didn’t pan out we simply fell back to what we already had.


CD in Wisconsin
Reply to  tsk tsk
November 21, 2020 7:20 am

You are correct tsk tsk. Thanks for refreshing my memory.

Leo Smith
Reply to  ColMosby
November 20, 2020 6:16 pm

No, they cannot.
Not from cold.
a nuclear reactor is operable from about 25% full load to 100% full load with a slew rate of around 25% per hour. But to start from cold still takes the best pat of a day – they all still drive a steam turbine in the end.

Jeffrey H Kreiley
Reply to  David Middleton
November 21, 2020 11:53 am

Idiots have an irrational fear of most everything. Before, you knew they walked amongst us but you thought they were in the minority. Now it’s in your face everywhere and they’re close to 50% and gaining new recruits daily. Imagine how far the human race could’ve gone without all the fearful deadweight. Only my opinion.

J Wurts
Reply to  Leo Smith
November 20, 2020 8:36 pm


I spent 3 years on board a US Navy Nuclear Powered surface ship. (1967-1969) My job was to sit at the Reactor Control Panel. This was the electrical/electronic panel that actually controlled the reactor. We could be at sea steaming along using 20% power from each (of 2) reactors and within 5 minutes we could be at 90 -100% power. There is absolutely no way the USN would buy a ship that would take 30 to 60 minutes to reach Flank speed. I think that would be called “sitting duck”

I have no idea where you get this 25% per hour limit.


Ron Long
Reply to  J Wurts
November 21, 2020 2:15 am

JWurts, thank you for your service and the good comment.

Doug Huffman
Reply to  J Wurts
November 21, 2020 4:53 am

Thank you for your service. USN SS ‘69 – ‘75. SSN-660

From my bull-throttleman days, I remember 5% / second, with no requirement to clock rate of power change.

Pop Piasa
Reply to  J Wurts
November 21, 2020 1:44 pm

I think Leo means commercial power plants, not just reactors in general. It all has to do with warming the metal evenly when bringing a turbine-generator set the size of a football field off the turning gear and eventually up to speed. If the turbine speed is too high for the temperature of the shell (too much steam flow through the turbine inlet bypass) the rotor will expand beyond it’s clearance in the shell and metal to metal contact may occur. The nuclear reactor warms up long before the turbine in a commercial 500MW unit.

Thanks to our vets here for their service, I was an operator in a power station during the time I should have been in the military. I relate the above from personal experience there.

Mark A Luhman
Reply to  J Wurts
November 21, 2020 2:30 pm

Size, commercial reactors a huge bemouths slow to heat up slow to cool down. That is why they melt down! Those small 100 to 300 mega watt reactors that you worked on would work as backup power and do it safely. It is sad we could have lot of CO2 free electricity if the greenies were not so anti nuke. Of course we really don’t need to worry about CO2, the CO2 scare is about control not the environment.

Doug Huffman
Reply to  ColMosby
November 21, 2020 4:49 am

Perhaps, but there are no functioning “molten salt small modular nuclear reactors.”

Reply to  Doug Huffman
November 21, 2020 10:44 am

That just means that there is no data to contradict any of the Col’s claims.

Ain’t science wonderful?

Reply to  Doug Huffman
November 21, 2020 10:45 am

This is post modern science, in which something is true unless someone can prove you wrong. And you get to decide what constitutes proof.

CD in Wisconsin
November 20, 2020 3:15 pm

“.. In the example below a wind turbine starts generating electricity when the wind speed exceeds 8 miles per hour (mph), reaches full output at 31 mph and blows up (/Sarc) at 55 mph…”

Yes they do…

CD in Wisconsin
Reply to  David Middleton
November 20, 2020 3:29 pm

I think I remember reading somewhere that the wind turbine operators can shut off the turbine when it gets too windy. Is that true or am I mistaken?

Reply to  CD in Wisconsin
November 20, 2020 3:44 pm

Yes it’s true,
but sometimes something goes wrong ( bad coms, system fail ) once it runs away there is only one (spectacular) outcome.

Carl Friis-Hansen
Reply to  CD in Wisconsin
November 20, 2020 4:04 pm

At 27m/s most turbines shuts down automatically.
Some have pitch-able blades which adjust to the wind and then slams the brake.
Other turn the nacelle 90° to the wind and slam the break.
There used to be other variants though.

Back in 1983 or 84 I experienced one of our research turbines experience an error in the control unit: It disconnected from the grid, galloped up in rotational speed so the ground 200 meter away was shaking under our feet. The control unit did not react on pressing the manual break button on the control panel. Finally my colleague turned the key on the control unit, which effectively switched off the control and the electronics in the nacelle registered something wrong and engaged the break. A huge cloud of smoke came up from the turbine, as the disk break had surface rust due to not being used for a long time.
When we went up to the top of the turbine, we could see that everything not anchored with 7 mm steel or there about, was broken loose and fallen to the ground.

Doug Huffman
Reply to  Carl Friis-Hansen
November 21, 2020 5:41 am

In re turbine over speed.

There was a ~10 MWe steam power plant at my facility. It used two turbines and generators with cross connected low pressure steam for load balancing. Shutting down a turbine once, the LP cross connect was not isolated with the HP supply. The output breaker was opened and the unloaded turbine and closely connected generator catastrophically oversped. The 500# generator rotor broke off and destroyed the generator room of the powerhouse. I saw 2” sections of cast iron shattered.

There after the powerhouse supplied quality steam.

Pop Piasa
Reply to  Carl Friis-Hansen
November 21, 2020 9:25 am

Doug, I remember running overspeed tests on three 25MW GE turbines at the recently razed Wood River coal power station in Illinois. It’s pretty scary, but it’s even more so when a grid or plant auxiliary system glitch trips the unit at full load. On those 1950’s vintage units that required manual intervention to prevent the boiler from popping the safeties at the boiler drum while cooling the superheater slowly enough to prevent fatigue.
If the turbine didn’t cool off too much and it’s auxiliaries were normal, we could usually be back on-line in 15-20 minutes before the turbine slowed to turning-gear speed.

The scariest experience I had was when we took a turbine off-line and the main ACB (air circuit breaker) in the switchyard failed to trip. The generator motorized and within minutes was hot enough to peel the paint on it’s shell and the Hydrogen coolers were discharging steam and scalding water. Finally, the ACB was manually tripped (very dangerous due to arcing) with a hot stick, after which we all went to the locker room to change our underwear.

Reply to  David Middleton
November 20, 2020 8:27 pm

Yeah. Sometimes they just catch on fire:

Doug Huffman
Reply to  David Middleton
November 21, 2020 4:55 am

Every – EVERY – turbine will blow-up on over speed.

Reply to  David Middleton
November 22, 2020 1:09 pm

It’s not always possible to feather the blades. Take what happens during the dynamics of a passing thunderstorm. Much of the wind may be down vertically from down bursts, particularly if the storm has great height, also updrafts from the inflowing wind would pose a similar problem. Another feature with frontal thunderstorms is that as the front passes the wind veers 180 degrees in the opposite direction and this happens in seconds – there is no way feathering systems can overcome this.

Even if the blades can be moved to a feather position, that position is only of benefit whilst the wind is horizontal or parrellel to the blades. In the downburst situation and in big storms it can be upwards of 200 mp.h., all three blades are then being driven down towards the ground with the widest possible blade area to the wind. No wonder the gear boxes and bearings fail periodically, because you can’t design against vertical sheer.

November 20, 2020 4:05 pm

In order to meet these times, the plant workers will need to sit around in the dead facility for days or weeks at a time in case they need to make an emergency startup.

November 20, 2020 4:07 pm

I’m assuming that “one hour” means operators and maintenance personnel are already on site waiting to push the start button. Are there any stats of maintenance required to keep these power plants in a ready condition? Every time there’s a Green claim to cost savings it usually leaves out hidden but necessary costs.

November 20, 2020 4:19 pm

Illusions are grand until a life lived in the Twilight and cold.

Doug Huffman
Reply to  n.n
November 21, 2020 5:46 am

Thank you. Well said. Westerners have forgotten.

Ken Follett has written (September 2020) a prequel to his *Pillars of the Earth* that has inspired me to again read the series that now starts in the middle of the Ninth Century, in the Twilight and the Cold.

Previously I have been reading Jackson Crawford’s translations of the Viking Norse Eddas and marveling at the hardiness that has been lost to history.

Doug Huffman
Reply to  Doug Huffman
November 21, 2020 5:53 am

… Tenth Century …

Rud Istvan
November 20, 2020 4:20 pm

There are actually at least two grid issues, both explored in essay ‘true Cost of Wind’ over at Judith’s.
The first is what you quite nicely describe, spin up of standby generating capacity to provide load on demand. The lag can be Minutes to hours depending on grid details.

But there is a second much Faster problem, grid inertia. It is still related to load, since if supply is inadequate to load, grid voltage/frequency sags. Grid inertia smooths these ‘instantanious’ minutia Out. But grid inertia imbalance (provided by conventional generation or massive synchronous condensers spinning with synchronous kinetic energy) happens on the order of milliseconds to seconds, NOT HOURS, and can still trip interconnections as in South Australia last year. The higher the NO GRID Inertia renewable penetration, the larger the frequency instability risk is independent of slower capacity reserves. Just basic AC math. For the math allergic, read my essay over at Judith’s or Google any reputable engineering article on ‘AC grid inertia’.

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  Rud Istvan
November 20, 2020 6:59 pm

Yes, people simply don’t grasp that an electric grid is a living beast, there are waves that travel thru it and lap back and forth like a tsunami in the ocean.

It is elastic and the inertia of those massive spinning rotors dampen these occillations that occur from faults, or from starting 50000hp compressors even if using some sort of soft start mechanism (inductor, capacitor, wave chopper, VFD).
We are implementing extremely high speed wide area networks and concepts like synchrophasors to track the grid and produce beautiful animated maps that look like weather maps showing flows in subcycle time frame, needed to even attempt to control a grid real time with massive intrusion of unreliable intermittent power coming on and off at random times during the day.

Wind and solar have no inertia, “flicker” will result destroying grid connected equipment everywhere without enough inertia.

Climate clowns just don’t grasp any of this.

November 20, 2020 5:18 pm

All the wind and solar issues are solved with my two new inventions:
(1) Nuclear powered fans for the wind turbines
(2) Nuclear powered LED spotlights for the solar panels
Technology solves all problems.

I am currently choosing the color for my first Ferrari,
to be purchased with the cash from my Nobel Prize.
Probably red.

November 20, 2020 5:21 pm

Great Sammy Hagar video.

Gas is cheap now, but with lockdowns I can’t drive at all.

Pop Piasa
Reply to  WalterF
November 21, 2020 9:31 am

David, Sammy takes over KSHE 95 in St. Louis every Sunday afternoon after “Vinyl Exam” and plays songs that follow his chosen theme for the week. You should check it out, he’s a great DJ.

Pop Piasa
Reply to  Pop Piasa
November 21, 2020 10:54 am

(you can listen online at https://www.kshe95.com/ )

Gunga Din
November 20, 2020 5:26 pm

A question.
In all the reported figures showing the wind and solar are “reliable”, does the line between their power and their backup’s power get mixed together?

November 20, 2020 5:42 pm

I we had cheap an safe nuclear why would we need any renewables?

Pop Piasa
Reply to  David Middleton
November 21, 2020 9:37 am

Maybe he meant to ask “If we had cheap and safe and true renewables, would we need nuclear power?” The answer is YES and the reason is ENERGY DENSITY.

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  Lowell
November 20, 2020 6:51 pm

We have cheap safe nuclear

Reply to  Pat from kerbob
November 21, 2020 10:56 am

and we don’t need renewables.

November 20, 2020 5:44 pm

Rud writes

But grid inertia imbalance (provided by conventional generation or massive synchronous condensers spinning with synchronous kinetic energy) happens on the order of milliseconds to seconds, NOT HOURS, and can still trip interconnections as in South Australia last year.

And batteries. Grid stability is determined by the ability to react very close to instantaneously much more than being able to increase supply over minutes, let alone hours. All the examples of generators that can react in the order of an hour or less are useless for the kinds of events that typically take down grids.

Chris Morris
Reply to  TimTheToolMan
November 20, 2020 8:55 pm

Batteries, if set up correctly, can provide a synthetic inertia. However to do this, they need a fair charge in them, so they can’t be used for grid support. Grid failure are often preceded by grid disturbances. If the batteries are run down because they have sold their power to the grid for the high prices, they have no inertia. A synchronous unit on the grid at 5 or 10% load has essentially the same inertia as one at full load. VARs are also what synchronous machines do well. With the others, not so good. The synchronous units also provide very good low voltage ride through for grid faults that occur near generation plant. This is something asynchronous generation doesn’t do very well if at all.

Chris Morris
Reply to  TimTheToolMan
November 20, 2020 9:09 pm

The other thing that synchronous machines give you for free but batteries can’t is no deadband. For the latter they have a allowable variation before they start operating. This is typically 0.05 to 0.1Hz. If it didn’t have that, it would be constantly charge/discharge the batteries, shortening their lives. That means the frequency can have rapid fluctuation around grid speed but the batteries don’t do anything. It does cause issues. Here is something from Australia illustrating the effect.

Reply to  Chris Morris
November 21, 2020 1:20 am

If the batteries are run down because they have sold their power to the grid for the high prices, they have no inertia.

True enough, but by stabilizing the grid at peak demand, its already doing its job of catering for the period the generators are least likely to be able to respond. Otherwise a large load dropping off the grid or coming onto it could happen at any time and so I would argue that the batteries are most likely able to hold the grid for the minutes it takes for slower generators to ramp up.

Pop Piasa
Reply to  TimTheToolMan
November 21, 2020 11:16 am

Pulverized coal, gas and oil fired boiler-turbine units can respond almost instantly to grid changes and even generate above the nameplate capacity for short periods when necessary. In the 70’s to 80’s we had older, smaller units we used as “peaking” power to follow load changes. Most of (my employer) Illinois Power Co.’s peaking units were converted from locally mined pulverized bituminous to gas with oil ignitors and we operated them only during peak hours or extreme temperatures outdoors. We didn’t burn any soft coal at all and precipitators were already in use then due to EPA regs.
We didn’t have batteries at all in the grid then, and even if we lost our 360MW unit there was enough rolling capacity and interstate grid reserve to prevent a cascading outage.

Chris Morris
Reply to  TimTheToolMan
November 21, 2020 11:30 am

No Tim, the inertia is not there stabilising at peak demand. It is there stabilising when there is a difference between load and demand. That is what causes the frequency swings. And inertia is for 5-10 seconds to allow the fast response units governors to then take over.

Reply to  Chris Morris
November 21, 2020 2:06 pm

At peak demand the generators are least likely to be able to increase supply. Inertia only helps smooth the moment to moment fluctuations. Inertia doesn’t help for an actual load change that is more substantial over a longer duration. At that point you’re looking at ramp times for the generators and batteries are best. Hydro is close. Anything steam driven, not so much.

Chris Morris
Reply to  TimTheToolMan
November 21, 2020 11:44 am

The other important thing, as Pop alludes to, is the batteries are only needed because they are replacing stable synchrous generation like steam and gas turbines with the unreliable asynchronous stuff like wind and solar. The old system was inherently stable but the new system isn’t. They are causing the problem for which they have an expensive solution. And most power companies like it as they are cost plus, so more expensive power means more profit.

Reply to  Chris Morris
November 21, 2020 3:53 pm

The old system was inherently stable but the new system isn’t.

Its true traditional fossil fuel generators produce a nice stable supply (unlike solar and wind) but its not true the grid was inherently stable as a result. Grid problems inevitably happened when the load (or supply) changed significantly, and traditional fossil fuel generators weren’t great at coping with that.

If a significant generator goes offline for whatever reason, the grid needs to load shed immediately or else cascade the failure. We’ve seen cascaded failure here in my home State, Tasmania where we’re almost entirely Hydro powered and Hydro is very good at ramping up. The whole State went out and restarting it was no small task. We’re better protected against that now.

Batteries help protect against that.

But yes, batteries will be most useful in a world where generation is increasingly non-dispatch-able. And IMO geographically distributed batteries and solar collection (ie every home has one) will result in a much more stable and fault tolerant grid.

Chris Morris
Reply to  Chris Morris
November 21, 2020 5:40 pm

Tim there is a lot to unpack in your assertions. Firstly I note Tasmania has spent a lot of time in the last day importing much of its power, so you are using the coal to balance the load. Even then they had massive price spikes. And Yallourn and Loy Yang burning coal are running flat out to support you.
And how is King Island going? Last I heard, they couldn’t run solar/ wind/ batteries and needed diesels with big flywheels (high inertia) to balance the load.
Domestic batteries can’t stabilise the grid. Even if every house had 10kWhs, it wouldn’t work. The cost of setting them up to do it would be prohibitive. And they make the grid less fault tolerant. What happens when you get an earth or 2ph fault on the LV side of a distribution network. Where is the protection if the solar is exporting?
The problem with Hydro is when it doesn’t rain. Remember not so long ago in Tassie when the DC was out how you had to restart all those thermal plant. And importing diesels as well from memory.
The Oz grid was stable until the unreliables took over. Read the AEMO reports. That is also why they have mandated minimum inertia in each state. Having a number of machines on governor control and partload was satisfactory in the high inertia world. And they often ran OCGTs which gave very rapid response.

Reply to  Chris Morris
November 21, 2020 6:26 pm

Chris writes

Even then they had massive price spikes. And Yallourn and Loy Yang burning coal are running flat out to support you.

Tasmania is perfectly capable of supporting itself in terms of peak load as you can see from the peak hours at around 6pm. We generated enough for ourselves and exported more to Victoria so its in fact Tasmania supporting Victoria not the other way around.

The coal fired generators can run efficiently and not try to track demand and instead Tasmania’s fast reacting Hydro does that.

Where Tasmania can come unstuck is with its rainfall as you’ve noted, and indeed that did happen not so long after the DC cable was introduced. Tasmania made a fortune exporting power to Victoria during expensive peak times depleting storage somewhat, and then the cable broke during a drought.

There were a lot of ducks lined up there but it happened.

And how is King Island going?

Not on the grid so beyond the scope of this. They’ve always used a very expensive diesel generator and I expect any wind and solar that exists there would be some of the more cost effective installations around.

Domestic batteries can’t stabilise the grid. Even if every house had 10kWhs, it wouldn’t work. The cost of setting them up to do it would be prohibitive.

Well which is it? Wouldn’t work? Or prohibitively expensive?

Would you be so sure if they were half the price and lasted twice as long? How about 1/3 the price? At what point would it work?

What happens when you get an earth or 2ph fault on the LV side of a distribution network. Where is the protection if the solar is exporting?

Trip it out. Unlike most energy producers, solar panels will quite happily sit in the sun, open circuit.

Chris Morris
Reply to  Chris Morris
November 21, 2020 6:37 pm

No tim
The domestic batteries inherently won’t work. Grid batteries are set up quite differently and need comprehensive circuitry and ancilliaries around them. It can’t be scaled down.
If you are on a domestic supply loop that is exporting and which has a 2ph fault, there is no protection. That is why the supply authorities are so worried. Look at your local supply single line wiring diagram and tell me how the CBs will function.

Reply to  Chris Morris
November 21, 2020 7:48 pm

The domestic batteries inherently won’t work. Grid batteries are set up quite differently and need comprehensive circuitry and ancilliaries around them. It can’t be scaled down.

This is nonsense. Even without a change in how domestic batteries are set up, right now domestic batteries remove/reduce load from the grid locally and hence remove/reduce the need for that supply in the first place.

If domestic batteries actually become viable then it’ll be up to distributors to specify how they’re grid connected. Right now they’re not economically viable so uptake is very low and AFAIK there is no push to move towards the necessary regulations.

Right now if the grid goes down, so does the grid connected solar power. That’s implemented and is regulated here in Australia.

Pat from kerbob
November 20, 2020 6:49 pm

I love the comment that the 12 hours to ramp up nuclear contributes to grid instability.
What an idiotic joke.
Nuclear is continuous base load, it runs all the time or not at all

What a joke

Bro. Steve
November 20, 2020 7:19 pm

It takes a lot more than 12 hours to get a nuclear plant from cold conditions to 100 percent power.

Loren C Wilson
November 20, 2020 9:22 pm

Solar can take up to 12 hours (or more if it is cloudy) to start up. Wind can take even longer if the wind isn’t blowing. Most of the quick-starting power is already in daily use. The coal plants that are being moth-balled or phased out won’t help stabilize or support the power grid because they take too long to start. Some days you can predict that you will need them a day in advance so you can bring them up to operational level but some days you can’t. Cloud cover and wind are harder to predict than temperature, which in Texas correlates well with demand.

Ken Irwin
November 20, 2020 11:43 pm

The problem with cold starting a steam turbine is internal condensation creates droplets which can travel at such high velocities that they damage the turbine blades.

So the turbine has to be spun up slowly until it has reached operating temperature / pressure – this takes up to 12 hours – after steam has been raised.

For nuclear, the reactor takes up to a day to bring up to critical from a cold start. Only then can the steam plant be wound up.

So 12 to 24 hours is non-negotiable for coal and nuclear plants.

Your only option is hot standby which for a coal fired plant means burning about 20% of its baseline coal to produce zero output.

Nuclear reactors have minimum sustainable output below which it must be shut down or energy must be dumped – typically by heating nearby oceans, lakes or rivers that provide cooling.

Cycling baseline generation capacity in this manner in order to bring weather dependent energy on line is a costly sop to green fantasy and is never costed into their calculations.

You can’t negotiate the laws of Physics.

Reply to  Ken Irwin
November 21, 2020 3:20 am

Its interesting watching black coal in NSW and Qld respond to follow the load during the day, as much as needed in most cases.

Brown coal in Victoria is usually pretty much a flat horizontal line.

Current production……..

NSW 90% black COAL, 4% hydro, 5% wind.
Qld 86% black COAL, 7% gas, 3% hydro, 3% wind
Vic 81% brown COAL, 11% gas, 7% hydro , 2% wind.
SA about 50/50 wind and gas
Tas 85% hydro 7% gas, 8% wind

Doug Huffman
Reply to  Ken Irwin
November 22, 2020 2:26 pm

I hope that you, Ken Irwin understand that your arch phrase “ – this takes up to 12 hours – ” properly parsed means less-than-12 hours; which is certainly true, but contrary to your argument.

November 21, 2020 12:42 am

a grid scale battery can start up in less than a second…

and while we are on the subject, here’s how they helped in the only recent UK grid outage, the one caused by a conventional power plant failing and not renewable energy:


Reply to  griff
November 21, 2020 1:14 am

grimm fairy-tales..

FACT….. There is no battery anywhere in the world that can sustain even a small grid for more than a few minutes.



The SA battery has made a MOTZA trying to stabilise the ERRATIC and UNRELIABLE nature of wind in that state.

That stabilisation is needed because of the UNRELIABILITY and INTERMITTENT nature of wind power and is PAID FOR by the end-users….. most expensive electricity in the whole of Australia.

It has NEVER produce one tiny bit of electricity.. EVAH !!!

Reply to  fred250
November 21, 2020 11:02 am

griff fairy tales

Reply to  griff
November 21, 2020 1:25 am

Oh Griff, still peddling the lie that it was a conventional power plant failure? As has been pointed out to you, the National Grid and the regulator Ofgen investigations clearly describes the failure as a gas plant AND a wind farm.

Don’t be an idiot and present false information when posting here. It makes you look…..unreliable, like wind power in fact

Right-Handed Shark
Reply to  griff
November 21, 2020 2:52 am

Hint: Read your cited article.

“Trains were left waiting on the tracks for hours. Tunnels on the London Underground went dark. A backup generator at Ipswich Hospital failed to start, leaving some to struggle down stairs after the lifts ground to a halt. In total, nearly a million people faced blackouts.”

Seems your grid scale battery didn’t help much if at all.


Reply to  griff
November 21, 2020 8:33 am

Griff, the article you linked does not provide a metric for how long the batteries provided power to the grid before failing. Did it provide long enough for other generators to start up and take over? How much did it take to recharge the battery before it’d be available again? Was there another fleet of batteries available had the grid failed a second time? A third time? A fourth time and beyond?

I would appreciate more data points than what Wired has selectively chosen to promote in their article.

Eagerly waiting for your reply.

In the Real World
Reply to  griff
November 21, 2020 9:20 am

To put Griff,s rubbish into perspective , the ” Grid Scale Battery ” was able to supply 0.6% of the power required to bring the grid back up , for which the wind farm operator was fined £4.5 Million for being the major cause of the blackout .

But don,t be to hard on Griff , I am sure his job is to post the most ridiculous rubbish to bring the post counts up on each thread .

Reply to  griff
November 21, 2020 11:05 am

They cans start in less than a second, and last for less than a minute.
grid scale batteries are designed to maintain frequency, not to provide power while other sources are being brought up. It would take the entire world’s production of batteries for a whole year to provide 1 hours worth of power for a country the size of Great Britain.

Ken Irwin
November 21, 2020 4:19 am

Griff, when (not “if”) you are sitting in the dark, cold and hungry during a grid collapse that has proven difficult to restart and synchronize.
You will still be blaming anything but the truth – such is the nature of blind faith.
Sad, really sad – do proper research – lose your faith – at least try being skeptical !

“Even if you prove it to me, I still won’t believe it !” Doug Adams – A Salmon Of Doubt

I’m persistently dumfounded by your frequent forays into this website which provides enough evidence over and over again to convert the most devout climate zealot into a climate skeptic if not outright climate atheist.

Most zealots retire licking their wounds after a single foray – you can’t win when you are wrong !
They scatter from the light of truth being shone on them like Vampires from the Sun’s dawning rays.

I do admire your persistence – misguided though it is.

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  Ken Irwin
November 21, 2020 8:52 am

There is nothing to admire in the neurologically delayed.
Pitied maybe

November 21, 2020 8:50 am

“Solar PV keeps “banker’s hours”. (DOE)”

I’d call them “welfare hours power” as they work only when the sun shines (10-3) and requires boatloads of subsidies, just like in real life.

At least during normal “banker’s hours,” money gets deposited…

Pop Piasa
November 21, 2020 10:00 am

I’ve been out of the power generation business for 38 years, so I don’t know if the national grid black plant startup policy still exists. It was put in place after the cascading blackout of the east coast back in the seventies.

At the recently razed Wood River Power Station in Illinois we had 4 remote gas (jet engine powered) 10 MW turbines at Stallings, IL connected through a dedicated and isolated line to the auxiliary systems transformer in the plant.
They would auto-start upon loss of power to the dedicated plant connection and allow all the pumps and fans to be back in operation within a few minutes so we could roll off and be back on line within the hour.

We never had an actual black plant startup during my employment.

I’m hoping that Dynegy will put some combined cycle units at the grid interface that the coal station used to use. Since the law in IL prevents the retailers of electricity from owning generation facilities (go figure) the grid is not very reliable for co-op customers, and there have been increasing interruptions in service since the 460 MW plant was retired, 10-15 years before it was obsolete.

Pop Piasa
Reply to  Pop Piasa
November 21, 2020 2:10 pm

The folks around here are starting to call the state Chilenois. 🚽

November 21, 2020 10:41 am

When renewable energy sources can go from 100% to 0% in a matter of minutes, being able to start up in less than an hour is not all that useful.

Mark A Luhman
Reply to  MarkW
November 21, 2020 2:41 pm

You nailed it!

Gerry, England
November 22, 2020 4:13 am

The time lag on steam turbine generators is due to the need to slowly bring them up to temperature to avoid heat damage. I once worked on a generator set to assess the state of the windings and so it had to be nice and cold. On completing our work at 9pm the maintenance crew said it would take until 9am to get it up to generating temperature.

Doug Huffman
November 22, 2020 1:19 pm

https://www.nuclear-power.net/. NPP operations briefly

Gregory Brou
November 28, 2020 8:10 pm

you folks need to separate the random outage senerio into two baskets for discussion. the first is flashover events that occur with 80 percent voltage drops in 10 to 15 cycles per second. Large industrial users can attain a 8-9 cycle ride through if a balance of syncronis and induction loads are used. Beyond that motor protection relays will kick the unit off line.

the second basket of power load management relates to balancing load with supply which can occur in seconds or hours depending on situation . allowing the voltage level to rise and fall within limits can smooth some of the issue.

in Saudi Arabia, we tried to put together a 2000 hp emergency gen set that would do a cold start for Uninterrupted Power Supply in 5 minutes or less. Best case that was installed was 4-500 hp diesels. Still required a lot of ups batteries to smooth control power. Phase control for large motors still tripped. the ultimate solution was to have the power supply company power wash their very high voltage tower insulators weekly over a distance of 50 miles. Wash down in service of course

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