Another WTH? Example of Cheap Renewables

(edited)

http://www.digitaljournal.com/news/world/sea-of-solar-panels-turns-mexican-desert-green/article/520548

Quote

The $650-million project came online in December and is due to produce 1,700

gigawatt hours when fully operational later this year -- enough to power 1.3

million homes

Now if we go by typical reporting on the subject that is what the panels are rated at, if they have sun shining on them 24/7.  Let's be generous and say they have sunlight hit them 60% of the time.  Down to 1,020 gigawatt hours.

Now a  ~900 MW/hr cc gas plant would run you about $1 billion.  It's Mexico, so let's round that up to $1.2 billion.  It would produce over 8,600 gigawatt hours over the course of 1 year.  Even with a provision for maintenance.

Solar cost per meg = $623

Gas cost per meg = $139

Another way to look at it is they spent 50% of the cost of a gas plant to get 12% of the power output.  That difference would buy a LOT of natural gas.  A lot.

Comrade, I have good news and better news for you.  Renewables are so cheap, we no longer need subsidies.  The BETTER news?  Your bill is only going to go up by 450%

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by SLL
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(edited)

50 minutes ago, SLL said:

 

Comrade, I have good news and better news for you.  Renewables are so cheap, we no longer need subsidies.  The BETTER news?  Your bill is only going to go up by 450%

-------------------------------------------------------------------

It is far worse than that.  For openers, you have to buy the gas plant anyway, because otherwise your customers are blacked out for half the day (when it is night)..  The power output of panels at night is zero. 

And that bill is going to go up by closer to 900% if the experience of Ontario (Canada) is any guide.  The provincial government went totally loony nuts over solar and wind, with feed-in tariffs that were and are and remain utterly ruinous, and that are not set to expire for the next 20 years.  Then the government made the decision to "refurbish" several nuclear plants, most notoriously the big one outside Toronto, at Pickering, Ontario, for more vast billions.  Then they shut down all their coal plants, for more staggering billions.  The next result was the the provincial crown corporation that ran the power system, Ontario Hydro, ended up in bankruptcy.  

When the better parts were sold off, you ended up with all these "stranded assets."  Somebody has to pay for that - you bet, the ratepayers.  So the current situation, now the single issue driving the current Ontario election, is hydro costs and stranded asset recapture.  You have a family living in some rural cottage, way up in the North Country, and their consumption is minimal, with little hot water, no A/C, no TV, and lights on only in the room everyone occupies, and the bill is over $800 a month.  How is that?  Because over $400 is for stranded asserts - what you pay before even one watt comes down the wire. 

The actual power, dependent on time of day, will run between 27-1/2 cents and 8-1/2 cents per kwh. That might run $100.  OK, but meanwhile the bill is over $800.  When the family falls behind and cannot pay, Hydro shuts it off - and then removes the meter, and the cables from the street pole back into the back country to the cottage.  You might have 2,000 feet of cabling in there.  So to get your power back, you have to pay the arrears, pay a huge deposit, and then pay for the cabling and installation - many more thousands.  Costs you ten grand easy just to get the juice turned on.

The net result is that Ontario now has thousands of poor people in the back country  with no power - bathing their children in garbage tubs filled with water hauled from the stream, as the well pump doesn't work, either. And no juice for the oil furnace, so go forage some sticks in the woods for that Ontario winter, when 40 below is common enough in January and February. 

Welcome to the socialist world, folks.  Paradise lost.   And what to do?  Why, build some more windmills. 

Real smart.

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Jan van Eck
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On 5/31/2018 at 3:10 PM, SLL said:

Now if we go by typical reporting on the subject that is what the panels are rated at, if they have sun shining on them 24/7.  Let's be generous and say they have sunlight hit them 60% of the time.  Down to 1,020 gigawatt hours.

Please read for context. They said it would -produce= 1.7gwh.  They already did your math. Enel is winning Mexican solar bids with $18/mwh or 7x cheaper then your estimation for gas.

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(edited)

Building a new solar + storage plant is already cheaper than running an existing coal plant, and in many places cheaper than a new gas plant. Virtually all of new electricity generation, worldwide, will be solar and wind by 2020. It is already the case in  the US.

Edited by JunoTen
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JunoTen - ZF - pardon me but what reality are you in? If what you said is correct then why don't we immediately pull all subsidies from solar? The reason is that no grid will bother with anything more than token amounts unless the operators are forced to use them. Solar plants are cheaper than other sources, only if the costs of putting them on grids are ignored. Once on a grid they are a total nuisance, requiring major changes in the way other plants are run causing huge inefficiencies. Large numbers of solar panels over which the grid operators have no control, in particular, are starting to cause big problems.

Of particular note, as another poster has pointed out, the grid still has to have enough capacity to cover high demand with no renewables. There is no saving at all..  

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19 minutes ago, markslawson said:

JunoTen - ZF - pardon me but what reality are you in? If what you said is correct then why don't we immediately pull all subsidies from solar? The reason is that no grid will bother with anything more than token amounts unless the operators are forced to use them. Solar plants are cheaper than other sources, only if the costs of putting them on grids are ignored. Once on a grid they are a total nuisance, requiring major changes in the way other plants are run causing huge inefficiencies. Large numbers of solar panels over which the grid operators have no control, in particular, are starting to cause big problems.

Of particular note, as another poster has pointed out, the grid still has to have enough capacity to cover high demand with no renewables. There is no saving at all..  

On renewables cheaper than coal https://electrek.co/2018/05/09/egeb-solar-power-cheaper-congress-cut-renewable-energy-10-millions-jobs/
On renewables being 94% of new US electric capacity in the first quarter of 2018 https://www.forbes.com/consent/?toURL=https://www.forbes.com/sites/rrapier/2018/05/06/renewable-sources-account-for-most-new-u-s-power-capacity/



I don't know how solar interacts with other sources of energy, however solar capacity doubles every two years, in 2030 nearly 100% of all power in the world will be generated by solar and wind ! Things are going fast !

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(edited)

1 hour ago, Solanum said:

Please read for context. They said it would -produce= 1.7gwh.  They already did your math. Enel is winning Mexican solar bids with $18/mwh or 7x cheaper then your estimation for gas.

I would be *shocked* if they actually did that.  Whether it’s wind OR solar, these articles always print the rated capacity of a panel or turbine, NOT realized output.

it would be a unique enough event that the author would point it out.

Edited by SLL
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JunoTen-ZF - the stories you linked proved nothing. Sure a megawatt of wind/PV of installed capacity may cost les than a megawatt of conventional installed capacity, I'm not arguing that point. But you then have to ignore capacity factors (effective output) which is far lower for renewables and the resulting network costs, which can be considerable, to claim that they are cheaper than conventional power. The basic reality is that grids won't use them unless they are forced to do so. Renewables cannot compete with conventional power on a grid on costs (on a conventional accounting basis) and will never be able to do so.

More renewables being built than conventional projects? Again, sure. I dunno if you've noticed but renewables are getting the subsidies. There are some great rorts out there for those bold enough to grab them. Also, who would be mad enough to build a coal plant now? There's no subsidies and a lot of risk that some mad green government will try to close it down. Best to stay away - and that may mean big problems in the future. 

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When they talk about KwH or MwH they are not talking about the capacity, which is power, they are talking about energy.  When you talk energy you are considering the time in production.  I have never seen anyone talk about a energy source by the maximum energy that is possible, but when talking about power, yes it is common to talk about capacity rather than average capacity.

In terms of added costs to the grid of renewables, that is totally case dependent...in general demand is not static either.  In a desert climate where the bulk of energy demand is in the heat of the day, that is not really the case, particularly if you can shift the solar production over a couple of hours.  A small amount of solar/wind add very little cost to the gird

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On 5/31/2018 at 4:00 PM, Jan van Eck said:

The next result was the the provincial crown corporation that ran the power system, Ontario Hydro, ended up in bankruptcy.  

When the better parts were sold off, you ended up with all these "stranded assets."  Somebody has to pay for that - you bet, the ratepayers.  So the current situation, now the single issue driving the current Ontario election, is hydro costs and stranded asset recapture.  You have a family living in some rural cottage, way up in the North Country, and their consumption is minimal, with little hot water, no A/C, no TV, and lights on only in the room everyone occupies, and the bill is over $800 a month.  How is that?  Because over $400 is for stranded asserts - what you pay before even one watt comes down the wire. 

The actual power, dependent on time of day, will run between 27-1/2 cents and 8-1/2 cents per kwh. That might run $100.  OK, but meanwhile the bill is over $800.  When the family falls behind and cannot pay, Hydro shuts it off - and then removes the meter, and the cables from the street pole back into the back country to the cottage.  You might have 2,000 feet of cabling in there.  So to get your power back, you have to pay the arrears, pay a huge deposit, and then pay for the cabling and installation - many more thousands.  Costs you ten grand easy just to get the juice turned on.

The net result is that Ontario now has thousands of poor people in the back country  with no power - bathing their children in garbage tubs filled with water hauled from the stream, as the well pump doesn't work, either. And no juice for the oil furnace, so go forage some sticks in the woods for that Ontario winter, when 40 below is common enough in January and February. 

Welcome to the socialist world, folks.  Paradise lost.   And what to do?  Why, build some more windmills. 

I have enjoyed reading all the posts on oilprice.com and those by Jan van Eck have been some of the most interesting. I felt the need to respond to this post. I have lived in the same 3500 square foot house in the county side of southern Ontario since 2002 and have been tracking my hydro costs since 2004. I don't know where the information about the $800 monthly bill or that Hydro One had ever gone bankrupt, which it hasn't. In 2004 my average bill was $97 using 10,657 kWh. It peaked to an average of $204 in 2016 using 9457 kWh. This year I'm all the way back down to $99 a month but have used a lot less hydro after replacing my furnace in Nov 2017.

What the provincial government did however is privatize HydroOne therefore no longer having to publish salaries over $100K on what is called the yearly sunshine list of public sector salaries. The past 2 years they also reduced hydro time of use and delivery rates but are taking on debt to do so, which will eventually have to be paid.

Here are my costs per kWh each year.

Year Cost/kWh % Change
2004 0.1185  
2005 0.1152 7%
2006 0.1247 15%
2007 0.1399 -2%
2008 0.1351 -1%
2009 0.1421 10%
2010 0.1565 25%
2011 0.1641 -5%
2012 0.1675 9%
2013 0.1832 1%
2014 0.2091 -8%
2015 0.1983 14%
2016 0.2595 16%
2017 0.1941 -39%
2018 0.1784 -21%

Lastly, I can't remember it ever being 40 below. When I lived in Saskatchewan yes but not in southern Ontario were the majority of the population resides. Sometimes there might be a few days in a row when the low can be in the -20-25 Celsius range. Just to set aside other common misconceptions, we also don't build igloos for fun or drive dog sleds or snowmobiles to work (just for fun). 

 

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To Engineer: Do you know of a city in the Southwest that has lowered costs by going to solar power? Not a trick question. 

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"To Engineer: Do you know of a city in the Southwest that has lowered costs by going to solar power? Not a trick question. "

If I lived in Australia or Hawaii, for example, with the their combination of high utility prices and high capacity for solar..I would cut the cord with the local utility in a heartbeat and I would expect solar/battery combination to be at least competitive with the prices paid to the local utility.   Moreover, even if it wasn't, the lure of not be dependent on the utility companies is a huge value add for me....where I live solar is still not competitive.  Do I know of a US city?...it is not really that easy because the utility system is not on a city basis.  Are there areas in which solar is competitive without incentives on a utility level compared adding gas/coal/nuclear ...yes no doubt ...moreover if you look at price trends...if they continue like they have in the past...then solar will be much cheaper..and solar with storage will be much cheaper as well...

My last house was built in the country...it cost around $15K to get it hooked up to the power grid...so I would never do that again.  Solar/battery is certainly competitive with that.

 

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(edited)

Responding to various points raised by Dwayne Rogers ("DR")  above, I would advise that the descriptives are in large measure lifted from the Toronto Sun, which admittedly is a bit of a tabloid that enjoys making the Liberal Party look bad, yet nonetheless publishes factual content which itself is quite verifiable. Going through the laundry list:

(a)  the Sun used the term "bankruptcy," which I suspect was not an actual Assignment in Bankruptcy subsequent to the Companies Creditors Act, as Ontario Hydro was a crown corporation or at least some quasi-crown corporation.  Thus (I suspect) the term "bankruptcy" was being loosely used - essentially to transmit the idea that it was insolvent from a revenue-expenses reference. 

(b) several cases of catastrophic hydro bills were presented, with actual bills photographed and displayed in the Sun.  Also,horror stories of  old people and families getting their power cut off and then having Hydro physically remove the cabling from the street to the house, basically an exercise in malice and in spite, were detailed  (the removal of cabling then requires the customer to pay again for the re-installation of the cables, together with the old bill and a hefty deposit, all up-front, effectively making the restoration of service impossible).  The areas referenced were in the Lake area to the North of Toronto, and up in the far North at the level of Rouyn-Noranda,in the area of Ontario just West over the Provincial Line.  One family living in in the Larder Lake - Kirkland Lake area had a stranded-cost tab of over $400/month, before various other taxes,  pushing them over $800 and a disconnect.  With cable removal, deposit, old bill, they were looking at ten Large, and for the past 3/4 year were hauling water in big garbage pails to bathe their children (the power having knocked out their combination furnace/hot water heater). 

(c)  the geographic area one lives in will largely determine the power bill, as these different areas have vastly different tag-alongs for stranded costs.  This all started when the distribution system of Ontario Hydro changed to local systems, typically municipal, became the retail vendors and Hydro was a wholesale supplier.  This was around 1982,  Also at that time Hydro dumped the maintenance of lines and transformers off onto those retail systems and that led to grief where those systems were without the capacity or depth to handle problems such as blown transformers rapidly.  When I got hit with a $6,000 additional-deposit demand,together with a doubling of my rates,  I determined to abandon Ontario, and closed down the two plants and let go the work force.  It is not possible to negotiate with thick-headed, stubborn and arrogant bureaucrats that inevitably rise to control those power systems, so the only realistic option was to leave the Province, so I left the country. 

(d)  if you are living down in the SW then you are lucky as you have been spared to worst of the rural pain that has hit in the North Country. But don't let that sense of bliss inure you to the disasters that have befallen two groups:  those in the rural North Country (who got whacked the worst) and the manufacturers, whose energy-intensive manufacturing plants cannot function on expensive retail power  (made worse when the various suppliers started adding "renewables" at artificial net-metering rates into their grids, and recouping the costs from their industrial power-hungry customers). 

(e)  right now in the US I pay ten cents.  Your table indicates you are paying from 26 cents to 18 cents, but I suspect that that is not inclusive of the various taxes and fees that also get tacked on.  And it sounds like you are spared the stranded-assets charges that are destroying swaths of Ontario. 

(f)   I have no axe to grind in this; I am long gone.  Those two decades building up manufacturing in Ontario were interesting enough, but I am not one to look back.  I saw it coming and left, and took the machinery with me to the USA.  The harsh reality is that your politicians are useless and your bureaucrats are self-centered, insolent, and enormously destructive. Why do you have that state of affairs? Short answer:  because Canadians like it that way.   

And that's fine; just don't expect the rest of us to roll with it.  We vote with oufr feet. Those factories that have left town are not coming back. 

Cheers.

Edited by Jan van Eck

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(edited)

Let's not forget that gas plants have to be fed Natural Gas, whereas Solar and Wind have no fuel costs. Natural Gas is currently cheap but it will not stay that way forever, especially with all the new LNG export terminals coming online in the next couple of years.

 

Edited by Refman

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2 minutes ago, Refman said:

Let's not forget that gas plants have to be fed Natural Gas, whereas Solar and Wind have no fuel costs. Natural Gas is currently cheap but it will not stay that way forever, especially with all the new LNG export terminals coming online in the next couple of years.

 

Unfortunately, both solar and wind have substantial fuel costs.  When the sun goes down or the panels are clouded over, their output drops off, sometimes very rapidly, and some other source of power has to come on-line instantly to take up the slack.  That cannot be either oil, or coal, or nuclear, as the response time is not there  (unless you have spinning reserve connected). The default power source thus is a gas-turbine generator.  Now the problem with this is that fast start-up is wasteful and inefficient, so you end up paying quite a bit for the ability to have this fast-response take-over power.  

And you have a parallel problem with wind. Current machines need a minimum wind speed to energize, typically at least 12 mph. You also have these over-speed problems with strong winds, where the system either feathers the blades or the tower turret disintegrates. At either extreme, the wind machines have to have automatic shut-offs, and once again you need the same capacity in stand-by power to take up the load. 

Can you do ti with diesel generators?  Yes, you can,but the generators would have to be kept in a constant state of readiness, specifically the fuel and the machine itself have to remain heated. And you can do that, start up the generators for fifteen minutes every four hours, the German Army did that with their Tiger Tanks to avoid being over-run.  Yet, a bit awkward. 

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On 02/06/2018 at 5:29 AM, Solanum said:

Please read for context. They said it would -produce= 1.7gwh.  They already did your math. Enel is winning Mexican solar bids with $18/mwh or 7x cheaper then your estimation for gas.

Based on 1700 GWHrs of energy produced, this solar project appears to be ~800 MW. Comparing Capital Cost/Energy produced ratio, Solar is ~2.5 times more capital intensive but operational costs are much lower. Solar power is available only for ~6 hrs, so nuclear/hydro/coal/gas/wind power will always be needed

 

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"The default power source thus is a gas-turbine generator.  Now the problem with this is that fast start-up is wasteful and inefficient, so you end up paying quite a bit for the ability to have this fast-response take-over power. "

The obvious solution to this problem is more battery storage, which is rapidly happening.  When you have a widespread adoption of electric cars (which is coming)...the demand is going to vary just as much or more than the supply.  When everyone juices up for their July 4th travel plans..you can believe the grid is going to have some big surges in demand.  I expect that eventually you will need to go to real-time electricity pricing on the residential level to match supply/demand.  If electricity is dirt cheap while the sun is shining..you can bet that is when I will be charging my car.

 

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Yes, it's stated in gigawatt hours so this is simply what they expect from it. If you had a sea of non productive land that happened to see a great deal of solar radiation, wouldn't you do the same? Importing natural gas isn't necessarily the most economical option, and most regions desire to not depend on imports. If you want to root for the continued viability of electrical generation by natural gas, we should be discussing infrastructure constraints and let's say, outdated laws that prevent free movement of fuels where they are needed (Jones act in the US is the big one in my mind). You ever see the cost of electricity in New England? I bet it would be cheaper if we were legally allowed to receive domestically produced lng.

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3 hours ago, Engineer said:

 

The obvious solution to this problem is more battery storage, which is rapidly happening. 

Unfortunately, the numbers don't work.  Building the size of batteries to accomplish current flows equal to grid demand when the panels shut down and the wind dies is the modern equivalent of ancient Egyptian kings building a burial vault for themselves that takes three decades using 10,000 slaves; it absorbs staggering amounts of societal wealth and takes forever to put together.  Then the battery banks will exhaust themselves and you are out of juice in a matter of hours. Two thousand cycles later and you can scrap it and start over. 

Can you do it on an individual scale?  Sure, you can rig up your home with some battery bank in the cellar and a transfer switch, and if you throw ten thousand bucks at it you can have a neat system that will get you through, as long as you stay away from the electric clothes dryer and the electric range. Now go down the street to that dairy or that plastics processing plant or that office tower with the big A/C load and figure out what you have to spend for your battery bank, then see if anybody has the coin to build it. (Short answer: nope). Might as well construct a nice nuclear plant, or string your wires to that Canadian hydro operation, or hook up a big diesel of say 60 MW, or do what everybody is doing today: build yourself a gas-turbine generating station or two. That at least is cheap enough. 

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10 hours ago, Jouhou said:

Yes, it's stated in gigawatt hours so this is simply what they expect from it. If you had a sea of non productive land that happened to see a great deal of solar radiation, wouldn't you do the same? Importing natural gas isn't necessarily the most economical option, and most regions desire to not depend on imports. If you want to root for the continued viability of electrical generation by natural gas, we should be discussing infrastructure constraints and let's say, outdated laws that prevent free movement of fuels where they are needed (Jones act in the US is the big one in my mind). You ever see the cost of electricity in New England? I bet it would be cheaper if we were legally allowed to receive domestically produced lng.

The Jones Act has nothing to do with why power prices in New England are so high.  Power prices are so high because the states constantly litigate proposed natural gas pipelines, which would reduce supply constraints and bring more nat gas to the region, into oblivion. 

In other words, it's their own damned fault.

More responses to other posts, later.

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I'd suggest we start a new topic on the Jones Act if ya'll want to debate that in more detail.

 

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On ‎6‎/‎1‎/‎2018 at 8:21 PM, SLL said:

I would be *shocked* if they actually did that.  Whether it’s wind OR solar, these articles always print the rated capacity of a panel or turbine, NOT realized output.

it would be a unique enough event that the author would point it out.

It's not that hard to do the math, you can double check it yourself. 754MW * 6 hours per day * 365 days per year

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(edited)

"Unfortunately, the numbers don't work.  Building the size of batteries to accomplish current flows equal to grid demand when the panels shut down and the wind dies is the modern equivalent of ancient Egyptian kings building a burial vault for themselves that takes three decades using 10,000 slaves"

 

First of all I'm not talking about replacing all the demand, I'm talking about reducing the inefficiencies of a fast startup of a gas turbine....the turbine makers (GE, etc) already make battery/turbine hybrid systems that address this.

Second, in general, solar energy is very positively correlated to air conditioner demand, therefore, it prevents as many rapid startups as it causes....Yes, this falls apart at some point, but we are no where near that point yet.

 

 

 

Edited by Engineer
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1 hour ago, Engineer said:

Second, in general, solar energy is very positively correlated to air conditioner demand, therefore, it prevents as many rapid startups as it causes....Yes, this falls apart at some point, but we are no where near that point yet.

Do you have non-location-specific figures for this that show this correlation? 

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Do you have non-location-specific figures for this that show this correlation? 

I have not done the exact analysis, but others have....

If you go to eia.gov and go to their real-time electricity tracker for the entire country, you can see the consumption on an hourly basis every day of the last year.  In the summer, the peak daily occurs around 6 pm and is around 60-70% higher the lowest point during the night.  In January...the peak in the day is only around 15-20% higher.  Higher peaks in summer days is due to air conditioning..and i am sure it is more dramatic in some parts of the country.  This has a pretty good correlation to solar output.  The difference is that the solar peak is a couple hours before this.  However, in general, since this production is more correlated than not, it should not lead to inefficiencies in the grid.  If you have some energy storage to push this peak to the right a couple of hours it would be highly valued.  Alternatively some demand side incentives to move the consumption side to the left would work as well....i.e. make electricity from 5-7 every evening twice the price as from 1-3 and the demand curve would flatten...my Nest thermostat can figure it out and save me a lot of money just by coasting my air conditioning for a few hours.

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