Epic Fail as Solar Crashes and Wind Refuses to Blow

Some amusing weekend reading.

China decides to cut government subsidies for new solar projects, and the global solar power industry has a financial conniption.

And the wind doesn't blow for a week in the North Sea wind farm - birds merrily rejoice.

Epic Renewables Fail as Solar Crashes and Wind Refuses to Blow

 

  • Like 2
  • Upvote 1
  • Downvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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).

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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

  • Upvote 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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. 

  • Like 3
  • Upvote 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"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.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

  • Like 1
  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

  • Like 2
  • Upvote 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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. 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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. 

  • Like 3
  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

On ‎6‎/‎10‎/‎2018 at 12:42 AM, Tom Kirkman said:

Some amusing weekend reading.

China decides to cut government subsidies for new solar projects, and the global solar power industry has a financial conniption.

And the wind doesn't blow for a week in the North Sea wind farm - birds merrily rejoice.

Epic Renewables Fail as Solar Crashes and Wind Refuses to Blow 

 

Well I have to agree with you on something Breitbart is an amusing read, in a sad sort of way.

Yup solar has been so popular they have to slow down installation of projects to allow the grid to catch up. Global solar power industry on the whole is doing very well.

I take it the bit about birds rejoicing is the story of wind turbines been mass killers of birds. Some do bite the dust but funny thing is (in a sad way again) turns out cooling towers of coal generators (along with other large structures) kill far more birds.

Although the UK is an island it's not so for electricity connected to the rest of Europe with a growing amount of connections. The wind may be calm in the North sea (a very rare occurrence for all the wind turbines to be in calm areas) but else where in Europe (and in the future even further away) wind blows and sun shines for those solar panels and water powers hydro. As DC grids grow over Europe and in other parts of the world renewables become more competitive and more reliable. It's not as if fossil fuel plants are 100% reliable at all or that quick at responding to demands.

Face it renewables are becoming the economic choice in many markets and as their costs fall even further they cut in to more and more markets. Along with this price fall comes other techs such as smart systems and various storage methods and industries taking advantage of cheap renewable electricity by becoming more smarter in the way/when they draw a demand.

The real moment of change comes when renewables start been competitive to fossil fuels not just when installing new builds but being cheaper than just the fuel being burnt. This in many markets isn't far off, then stranded assets become a major issue. Any large fossil fuelled asset that are in the planning stages must make sure it can compete against where renewable energy prices are trending over it's life time. No wonder outside capital is drying up.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, DA? said:

The real moment of change comes when renewables start been competitive to fossil fuels not just when installing new builds but being cheaper than just the fuel being burnt. This in many markets isn't far off

Knock yourself out.  I don't oppose renewables.  I still think that hydrocarbons have been the most efficient, portable, safe and cost-efficient form of energy for many decades.  While renewable are gaining some traction, I simply don't see hydrocarbons being replaced anytime soon.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

On 6/13/2018 at 2:20 PM, 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.

Is the Government on holiday in the UK?  Why else would there be a "disappearing wind"?  Solution: Make governments work every weekday and normal work hours.  Thus ensuring wind during peak demand in the cities.😎

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

On 6/13/2018 at 9:33 PM, JHM said:

cut subsidies because they were oversubscribed, pushing aggregate subsidies above what the government can sustain.

Can somebody get this message to Canada and California right away?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

On 6/14/2018 at 11:52 PM, HermitMunster said:

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

Nothing against what you are implying, but from Wikipedia:

Since July 2008, Pickens’ Dallas-based investment firm, BP Capital, has lost as much as $2 billion as a result of the falling stock market and credit crunch. Pickens may have lost around $300 million of his personal funds.[29]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

4 hours ago, Tom Kirkman said:

Knock yourself out.  I don't oppose renewables.  I still think that hydrocarbons have been the most efficient, portable, safe and cost-efficient form of energy for many decades.  While renewable are gaining some traction, I simply don't see hydrocarbons being replaced anytime soon.

Hydrocarbons have been, although safe, no they kill and harm people and the environment. Depends on what you call soon, but they are biting rapidly into the hydrocarbon market. Time will tell and those that stand in it's way have blood on their hands. Hopefully those that do will join the old boss of Audi in jail.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

On ‎6‎/‎14‎/‎2018 at 6:52 PM, HermitMunster said:

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

Remember the time GE shot itself thinking the future still involved coal and even natural gas.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, Dan Warnick said:

Can somebody get this message to Canada and California right away?

Keep in mind that the most enthusiastic government entity to hop on the windmill bandwagon was the Govt of Ontario during the time the Liberal Party under Kathleen Wynne ran things - for 15 years.  Their subsidy and tax-credit and inflated tie-in rate policies led to catastrophe, with the price of retail electricity going through the roof, to totally unpayable levels of over $800 a month for pensioners living in modest cabins in the countryside.  The reaction to that was the largest single-issue political election campaign ever, with the governing Liberals being utterly demolished as a political party - falling from some 126 seats to 5.  As  a practical matter the Liberals in Ontario no longer exist. Also, readers may note that this was a classic single-issue campaign.  The entire election was over the electricity debacle. 

Under certain conditions governments can successfully pick winners (and thus exclude losers) in the technology arena.  For examples, the (U.S.) government has successfully picked the design of the nuclear submarine, and the design of the big rockets that put a man on the moon.  Where it has gone wrong is in this area of power generation.  Governments have dramatically chosen one electricity source (wind) over a previous technology (nuclear) and there does not appear to be any logical reason for it.  

On occasion, you see these big pushes for construction of these technological Egyptian Pyramids - monuments to one man's ideas, at huge social cost.  I put these multi-megawatt, 450-ft tall wind machines in that category.  They make the builders feel good about themselves, instill that sense of pride of accomplishment, typically bring great wealth to the builder - and impoverish the society, by draining away discretionary income and societal purchasing power.  When the Pyramids were constructed you had societies put ten thousand at work hauling stones from quarries to the job-site.  the construction went on for at least a decade, and benefited only one pan in society - the fellow getting buried in there.  Now, ask yourself:  how much of societal wealth was consumed in that effort?  And what could that society have achieved had it put its efforts into something more productive than building a tomb - say, hauling stone blocks to build irrigation canals? 

And this is the real problem with these wind machines.  They are these expressions of ego through technology, but consume societal resources, including the natural landscape, to produce a little bit of electricity for the benefit of a few developers, but society collectively has to pay a fortune in subsidies and tax credits and tie-in rates to sustain them.  Is that smart?  

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

8 hours ago, DA? said:

Hydrocarbons have been, although safe, no they kill and harm people and the environment. Depends on what you call soon, but they are biting rapidly into the hydrocarbon market. Time will tell and those that stand in it's way have blood on their hands. Hopefully those that do will join the old boss of Audi in jail.

Careful what you imply here.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

12 hours ago, Tom Kirkman said:

Careful what you imply here.

 

What I mean is anyone that gets in the way, misleads on purpose and so on of a sustainable future, one with less harm to people, deaths and environmental damage should be held accountable. It's been estimated that Audi due to cheating the emissions tests have taken 20,000 human life years in Europe alone. That's about the same as taking around 500 people of average age in Europe putting them against a wall and shooting them, in fact worst that's a quick death many of these people will have a slow and horrid death.

As the 'Nuremberg psychologist,' Gustave Gilbert showed the same ways of justifying actions the Nazi's used is used in the business world. It's time many in the industry stopped been snow flakes and admitted to themselves the evil they commit.

Fossil fuels had their day, we now understand the damage they do and are creating technologies that are less harmful to replace them. If anyone doesn't understand that they either do not have the facts or understand them, the alternative to that is they are just plain old evil.

If you can't handle that maybe it's your conscience trying to tell you something.

I make no apologies for what I have written it's my young sons world I'm trying to protect.

 

  • Downvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites