Epic Fail as Solar Crashes and Wind Refuses to Blow

this "wind is not blowing and sun is not shining" thing surely must be horrible side effect of global warming...

Happens around the globe - coupled with destruction of non-intermittent (i.e. coal-powered) generation capacity, it bodes well for revenues of some generators (ironically/cynically - loudest about their commitment to renewables).

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Seems to me that "renewable energy" grids still need hydrocarbon backups to cover for when renewables fail to produce.

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23 minutes ago, Tom Kirkman said:

Seems to me that "renewable energy" grids still need hydrocarbon backups to cover for when renewables fail to produce.

for that simple reason anyone who tells that new renewable generation is cheaper than traditional forms is either lying or allowed themselves to be misinformed.

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Solar/wind, on a utility scale, makes great economic sense in the right areas, the cost per GW is fine, but really only as a bit player. If they get much past 15% how to integrate into the grid is a challenge. One day electric storage technology will allow for it. That day is still quite away. I actually think the drive may come from less advanced areas, like Finland led the world in cell phones, lacking enough land lines. There are areas in the world where diesel provides the surge capabilities, and countries like Saudi Arabia burn prodigious amounts of crude for electricity. Very large scale solar makes sense there, especially as peak solar overlaps with peak AC electrical demand. Btw, gas electricity plants have been gap fillers for nuclear and coal for years. 

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8 minutes ago, Benoit MAI said:

I see no good news in it. Why are you happy exactly?

I'm amused.  Laughing.  Not the same as happy.

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"Calm conditions in the last seven days have caused wind turbines across the UK to come to a standstill.

The 'disappearing wind' has meant turbines have generated less than two per cent of the country's power this month - the lowest figure for more than two years.

Forecasts show the calm conditions will continue until the middle of the month.

Critics of wind power are likely to point to the current wind shortage as evidence of their unreliability.

Supporters say improvements in storage technology will allow power generated by wind to smooth out demand."

Will? When? The industry needs to really, really focus on storage.

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China cut subsidies because they were oversubscribed, pushing aggregate subsidies above what the government can sustain. Solar has become quite cheap, and module costs are expected to drop by another third next year. Simply put solar subsidies are no longer needed in China. The country would be better served by redirecting subsidies into storage and T&D infrastructure.

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7 hours ago, Marina Schwarz said:

"Calm conditions in the last seven days have caused wind turbines across the UK to come to a standstill.

The 'disappearing wind' has meant turbines have generated less than two per cent of the country's power this month - the lowest figure for more than two years.

Forecasts show the calm conditions will continue until the middle of the month.

Critics of wind power are likely to point to the current wind shortage as evidence of their unreliability.

Supporters say improvements in storage technology will allow power generated by wind to smooth out demand."

Will? When? The industry needs to really, really focus on storage.

It's happening now. Latest tenders in states like Nevada, Colorado and Arizonia are attracting bids of around $25/MWh for solar only and $30/MWh for solar+storage, where battery capacity is sufficient to store about 20% of power produced. This incremental $5/MWh on 20% storage implies a storage cost of merely $25/MWh.

Integrating solar and storage appears to offer cost efficiencies beyond the sum standalone solar and standalone battery energy storage systems. Watch for high DC:AC ratios. This happens when the MW of DC solar modules are well in excess of MW of AC inverters. Without storage, this implies that the system will sometimes generate more solar power than can be converted in AC power. This excess firms up the net solar provided and enhances the capacity factor of the inverter. For example some systems have an inverter CF of 32% while the module CF is 25% or less. Without batteries this step up in CF only happens by throwing away surplus DC module power. If you add a little battery capacity in to the mix, this DC surplus can be stored and inverted later. So not only does this solve the problem delivering solar power when the sun is not shining, but it improves the utilization of both the modules and inverters. So my contention is that batteries are beginning to optimize solar installations and this will drive down the cost both solar and storage. 

Another issue specific to PPAs is that they represent an offtake agreement. Batteries are able to provide many valuable grid services beyond simply providing solar power at night. The solar+storage developer may well want to retain some solar and battery capacity not covered under the PPA. That retained capacity may be enormously valuable on the open market. Thus, a PPA is simply locking in a revenue stream on a portion of the whole system. This means solar PPAs, even without storage in the PPA, can drop to prices that appear to be impossibly low, but this is simply because the developer wishes to finance assets that have even higher retained value than what was sold under the PPA.

We should be prepared to watch solar PPA prices to drop very fast as developers figure out how to leverage batteries to optimize retained value.

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It's not happening in Britain, apparently, and this is a problem. I find it hard to believe nobody there thought this could happen. 

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Remember when T. Boone Pickens went from billionaire to millionaire pretty much overnight because of his foray into wind turbines?

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On ‎6‎/‎14‎/‎2018 at 1:14 AM, JHM said:

Latest tenders in states like Nevada, Colorado and Arizonia are attracting bids of around $25/MWh for solar only and $30/MWh for solar+storage, where battery capacity is sufficient to store about 20% of power produced. This incremental $5/MWh on 20% storage implies a storage cost of merely $25/MWh.

didn't it cost Tesla $50M (lowest estimate - straight from Elon and we know he never lies) to build 100MW/129MWh storage in South Australia? that's only 15,500 times more expensive than 25/MWh... are we talking about same things here?

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This would appear to suggest otherwise

https://oilprice.com/Alternative-Energy/Solar-Energy/US-Solar-Growth-Undeterred-By-Solar-Panels-Tariffs.html

Tariifs and other tax incentives were never, as far as I was aware meant to be permanent fixture but a temporary mechanism to help a fledgling technology enter the market. Now that it has reached parity (at least against retail prices) the level state / federal support can be cut back. 

If the investment in solar is seen as an investment in energy production I don't see why tax relief can't continue in the same way oil, coal and gas producers get investment tax relief on their capital expenditures. 

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On 6/13/2018 at 8:20 AM, Marina Schwarz said:

"Calm conditions in the last seven days have caused wind turbines across the UK to come to a standstill.

The 'disappearing wind' has meant turbines have generated less than two per cent of the country's power this month - the lowest figure for more than two years.

Forecasts show the calm conditions will continue until the middle of the month.

Critics of wind power are likely to point to the current wind shortage as evidence of their unreliability.

Supporters say improvements in storage technology will allow power generated by wind to smooth out demand."

Will? When? The industry needs to really, really focus on storage.

In the UK its already happening in many small incremental steps from numerous directions. This somewhat contrasts with the large centralised approach from the CEGB days. 

A friend is a Process Engineer for a Waste processing company that run anaerobic digestion plants to process organic wastes. The end products are gas which is injected into the grid and fertiliser. The plants have stationary gensets that produce electricity (mainly for the plant) and heat which is used to stabilise the temperature of the digestion tanks and pasteurise the fertiliser before its dispatched. 

They store a fair amount of unprocessed gas which can  be used to run the gensets. When they get a signal from the national grid those gensets go from 40-60% output to 90-100% in a couple of minutes - the surplus goes on to the grid. This process is not wasteful because the waste heat can be stored and used in the AD and pasteurisation processes several hours later. 

The storage is the gas held on site. 

Each plant is relatively small but its estimated that the UK will produce approx 150 twh of biogas by about 2035. Thats approx 1/6th of the UK's current annual demand.

Another growing potential resource for storage are EV batteries at the end of their vehicle life but still quite functional for many years. 

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