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Long Haul: Oil vs Electricity for the Masses (Page 2)
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subego
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Nov 18, 2020, 11:08 PM
 
Originally Posted by Laminar View Post
What will the SJWs go after next??
Current year.
     
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Nov 19, 2020, 07:41 AM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
Revitalize? No one lives there.
QED
This space for Hire! Reasonable rates. Reach an audience of literally dozens!
     
subego
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Nov 19, 2020, 11:34 AM
 
The reason no one lives there isn’t lack of electricity, it’s lack of everything.

The revitalization priority is the rust belt, where people actually live.

Also, we can’t revitalize a place which was never vitalized in the first place.
     
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Mar 11, 2022, 09:30 PM
 
Bumping for Infrastructure Week/Year chat.
     
subego
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Mar 12, 2022, 12:30 AM
 
Thank you!
     
subego
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Mar 12, 2022, 03:19 PM
 
So, we had the following proposal from the Putin thread.

Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
IMHO all coal power plants should be shut down now.
I’m wondering how Texas accomplishes this considering they don’t have enough generation capacity to meet demand in the first place. Texas smokes the dirty dinosaur to the tune of 18.5GW. How do they just offline 20% of their generation capacity?

(Denmark was brought up in the Putin thread. Just as a point of reference, the entire country of Denmark can’t even come close to generating 18.5GW. Phun phact: Denmark imports biofuel from Russia)
     
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Mar 12, 2022, 03:47 PM
 
It’s worth noting that “most” Texas coal fired plants have been upgraded to some extent. They aren’t the sooty, environmental disasters most people think about when they think “coal power plant.”

The plant owners didn’t go eco-crazy and put in scrubbers and such just because it was good for the environment. Nor because of regulations; this is Texas after all. But they have upgraded things like heat exchangers that capture more heat to help improve efficiency and make more steam - while incidentally precipitating a huge part of the particulates in the exhaust, and reducing CO and sulfur emission.

They also (in at least a number of Central Texas plants) switched to a system where the coal is crushed so finely that it’s almost a fluid. That by itself makes for cleaner burning, since it substantially reduces unturned coal - which is lost as plain soot in the exhaust flume.


No tree hugger awards are being given out, but in order to make more money these plant owners invested in greener technology, and frankly, the greener they went, the more money they made. Wanna make a robber baron go green? Show him how he’ll rake in way more money by going green.

Why does this matter? It’s still coal, right? It matters because it’s proof HERE IN TEXAS that improved systems can make more money for plant owners without forcing them to be “greener” with laws and regulations.

Honestly, if a Texas power plant owner can see an improvement in his bottom line (and “shareholder value”) from going cleaner and greener, it can be done anywhere.

Finally, a bit of a funny: last year in January, my wife and I visited the Big Bend area. That’s a part of Texas that is characterized by the “big bend” in the Rio Grande. And some amazing geography and geology. We passed HUGE wind farms along the way. And a lot of areas with production oil/natural gas wells, some of which were just “down the hill” from the wind farms. The funny? A lot of the more remote wells’ electrical machinery was powered by solar. Right there in West Texas. I’ll also bet that those solar powered natural gas wells did NOT shut down during our horrid freeze in February, because they didn’t depend on the grid for power.

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subego
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Mar 12, 2022, 05:35 PM
 
Didn’t it snow? I assumed the solar got blanketed.


Edit: maybe they have natural gas heaters.
     
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Mar 12, 2022, 09:25 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
I’m wondering how Texas accomplishes this considering they don’t have enough generation capacity to meet demand in the first place. Texas smokes the dirty dinosaur to the tune of 18.5GW. How do they just offline 20% of their generation capacity?
As far as I understand, the root cause for the collapse and long blackout in Texas was the lack of winterization, not lack of total capacity or fluctuations in power generation. (Of course, lack of winterization caused problems with fuel (gas) delivery, which then reduced capacity, but I’d still say the root cause wasn’t lack of capacity.)
Originally Posted by subego View Post
Didn’t it snow? I assumed the solar got blanketed.
According to the FERC report I linked to, this was not the case. Solar was the second-most reliable source of energy during that time, with an impact of only 2 %. Only nuclear did better (1 %). The biggest loss in capacity was with gas power plants, then wind. Although as far as I understand it wasn’t the generators that failed, but the ancillary equipment.
Originally Posted by subego View Post
(Denmark was brought up in the Putin thread. Just as a point of reference, the entire country of Denmark can’t even come close to generating 18.5GW. Phun phact: Denmark imports biofuel from Russia)
Yes, but Denmark’s grid is connected to the rest of Europe, which is vastly larger than Texas. Point was that you can run entire regions/countries almost completely on renewables without any issues due to fluctuations and the like. I think that point still stands. Texas is also expanding wind power for the same reasons that everyone should: thanks to Germany adopting it early, prices have come down so far that it is one of the cheapest sources of power.
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subego
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Mar 13, 2022, 09:45 PM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
As far as I understand, the root cause for the collapse and long blackout in Texas was the lack of winterization, not lack of total capacity or fluctuations in power generation. (Of course, lack of winterization caused problems with fuel (gas) delivery, which then reduced capacity, but I’d still say the root cause wasn’t lack of capacity.)
Forget Uri for a moment.

For a normal summer, Texas can generate 85GW, and peak demand is 74.8GW. If Texas shuts off coal, their capacity drops to 66.5GW. They wouldn’t be able to meet demand.

Using Texas again as our example, if we take the 95th percentile of forced outages over the last three summers, a touch under 9.5GW worth of wind and solar was offline. In contrast only 2.6GW worth of thermal sources were offline despite being responsible for the vast majority of power generated. It’s examples like this why I argue wind and solar have reliability issues.
     
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Mar 13, 2022, 10:12 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
For a normal summer, Texas can generate 85GW, and peak demand is 74.8GW. If Texas shuts off coal, their capacity drops to 66.5GW. They wouldn’t be able to meet demand.
… because they are not connected to other grids. According to the Pickens Plan there is a region in neighboring states that has been identified as being ideal for wind power, for example. You can see below that in the German grid when you just look at instantaneous power generation and demand that the fluctuations are big.
Originally Posted by subego View Post
Using Texas again as our example, if we take the 95th percentile of forced outages over the last three summers, a touch under 9.5GW worth of wind and solar was offline. In contrast only 2.6GW worth of thermal sources were offline despite being responsible for the vast majority of power generated. It’s examples like this why I argue wind and solar have reliability issues.
I think you are jumping to conclusions here. You are assuming that the weakness lies in the power generation when it very well may lie in the grid. There are times in Germany when 98 % of domestic demand is covered by renewables even though this year's average is almost 53 %. Domestic demand is the black line, and you can see the fluctuations in generation and demand. You need a grid that is capable of rerouting large amounts of electricity to other regions (in Europes case that means both, across state lines and across country lines). Despite these fluctuations, the European power grid, including the German one, is completely stable. I don't think I remember blackouts and brownouts like they occur in some US states taking place in Germany. You need a power grid that is adapted to renewables if you want to make the transition to green power.

Now I don't know for sure what is going on in Texas, but since the grid wasn't sufficiently winterized, I don't think it is far fetched to think that an outdated power grid that is not specced for renewables is one of the contributing factors.

The grid and its interconnectedness is really crucial in more ways than one. For example, the wholesale price for electricity in Germany is among the cheapest in Europe and in France it is the most expensive. Apparently one problem is the lack of transfer capacity to France.
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subego
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Mar 14, 2022, 12:01 AM
 
Okay. Let’s magically interconnect Texas.

Texas, plus the three regions it is now connected to has normal peak summer demand of 267GW.

It has a total generation capacity of 242GW because the coal got flipped off.

Same problem.
     
reader50
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Mar 14, 2022, 01:34 AM
 
I don't see the above as bad news. Rather, renewables have come so far that we can meet 90% of summer peak demand before needing any coal power. If the three major US grids were intertied. I hadn't realized we'd made that much progress.

Intermittent power sources can be addressed by:
Upgrades to long-distance power grid.
Overbuild renewables.
Mix of carbon-neutral sources. Usually solar + wind, but geothermal, hydro, and nuclear OK.
Add battery farms.
Then hit natural gas plants. Until the above can cover everything.
Finally, use coal until the above can cover everything.

In practice, I believe we're doing all of these at once. The long-distance grid continues to get incremental upgrades. Solar and wind are the cheapest new power sources, so everyone's putting them in. Battery farms are gradually rolling out - though EVs currently need most of the battery supply. If memory serves, 50-100 new battery factories are under construction (half in China).
     
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Mar 14, 2022, 01:38 AM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
Okay. Let’s magically interconnect Texas.

Texas, plus the three regions it is now connected to has normal peak summer demand of 267GW.

It has a total generation capacity of 242GW because the coal got flipped off.
I'm really confused, I cannot follow you. I have never argued in this or the other thread that Texas should shut off coal power plants, because I know too little about Texas to make that claim. I have only made a claim about Germany and what it should do.

Germany has had net overcapacity for years and years. Texas, apparently, does not (I'll take your word for it). If Texas doesn't have excess capacity, then capacity in renewables needs to be built out first before shutting down coal and gas power plants. Germany is well-connected to its neighbors, Texas is not. Connecting power grids across state lines is not a panacea, but it can help distribute the load more evenly. It is one of the reasons why the European power grid has been very stable. And at least last winter, that was a contributing factor to the power grid failing for as much and as long as it did.
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subego
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Mar 14, 2022, 02:28 AM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
I think you are jumping to conclusions here. You are assuming that the weakness lies in the power generation when it very well may lie in the grid.
I was indeed jumping to that conclusion because the reliability assessment I’m reading takes such a big shit on Texas they couldn’t fit that detail on the summary page like they usually do. What they normally call a “low-wind scenario” got demoted to a subset of “general Texas clusterfuck scenario”.

The low-wind scenario for Texas got its own page, which I hadn’t seen when I made the post you’re replying to. It confirms my assumption. The weakness of wind turbines is the wind not blowing.

Thankfully, that page (and a little extra digging) quantifies the weakness. If there’s a summer “low-wind scenario”, defined as having a 1-in-10 chance, wind turbines will operate at 70%.

So, that’s the key number. In terms of reliability, Summer weather in Texas makes wind worth 70% of what it says on the label.

I much prefer this to my earlier characterization as “supplemental”, and would agree with accusations I overstated my case.
     
subego
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Mar 14, 2022, 03:04 AM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
I'm really confused
You think you’re confused.

I understand this a little better now. Should Germany shut off its coal? No clue. Not my hemisphere.

I’m not against interconnects in any way, shape, or form. I’m saying they’re not an improvement in the following scenario.

Texas offlines 1GW of coal.
Texas imports 1GW of electricity from a neighbor. More due to line loss.
Neighbor provides 1+GW of electricity… from a coal plant.
     
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Mar 14, 2022, 07:47 AM
 
As with most other problems in the US, I’m going to ignorantly assume the issue is a combination of i) a lack of state cooperation for no logical reason other than stubborn selfish pride, and ii) a complete inability to wisely direct government oversight for the good of tax payers as a whole due to ultra-rich business owners indirectly buying off elected officials to allow themselves to extract maximum profits at the expense of a worse overall product.

Am I wrong?
     
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Mar 14, 2022, 01:36 PM
 
Nope.
     
subego
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Mar 14, 2022, 02:44 PM
 
Which problem are we discussing specifically?

I perennially focus on the reasons we continue to use coal, which I don’t think can be reduced to this extent.
     
subego
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Mar 14, 2022, 06:00 PM
 
Originally Posted by reader50 View Post
I don't see the above as bad news. Rather, renewables have come so far that we can meet 90% of summer peak demand before needing any coal power. If the three major US grids were intertied. I hadn't realized we'd made that much progress.
Sorry! I missed this!

Since we need a safety margin, a more useful stat is we’d be offlining 70GW.

To give a sense of scale, Texas has 85GW of capacity. So, in very rough terms, replacing all this coal is an undertaking close to rebuilding Texas from scratch.

For natural gas, that’s ~160GW, so almost two Texases.

Edit: that 160GW number is a super quick and dirty calculation.
     
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Mar 14, 2022, 08:31 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
I was indeed jumping to that conclusion because the reliability assessment I’m reading takes such a big shit on Texas they couldn’t fit that detail on the summary page like they usually do. What they normally call a “low-wind scenario” got demoted to a subset of “general Texas clusterfuck scenario”.
Right, and a lot of the worst factors coincide in Texas: an insufficiently robust power grid, no connection to the rest of the US (by choice) and insufficient regulations. I don’t want to oversimplify things, but you could say that Texas has a bad power grid, which means it is also a bad power grid for renewables. In fact, given the different requirements when comparing the base-mid-peak load philosophy to renewables, you could say it is especially badly suited.
Originally Posted by subego View Post
The low-wind scenario for Texas got its own page, which I hadn’t seen when I made the post you’re replying to. It confirms my assumption. The weakness of wind turbines is the wind not blowing.
Just click in the links and you will see low and high wind days quite clearly in the graph. Nobody is denying that this isn’t happening. I’m just saying this is a solved issue once you have adapted the power grid to transport electricity over larger distances. That compensates for that. We know it works, because it has been working in Europe.
Originally Posted by subego View Post
So, that’s the key number. In terms of reliability, Summer weather in Texas makes wind worth 70% of what it says on the label.
I think this is too simplistic. Have a look what happened in France when they had to take big nuclear power plants offline or when one or several gas turbines in a power plant need an overhaul: you have big losses in generating capacity. That doesn’t happen with renewables, because they are more distributed. You can overhaul wind mills individually with little impact on overall capacity. In Australia some communities switched to solar plus local energy storage (e. g. using molten salt or batteries). The power grid is mostly a backup.

I’m just saying this, because we need to keep this in mind, too. With renewables, there is no simple, single solution, it is usually all of the above.
Originally Posted by subego View Post
I much prefer this to my earlier characterization as “supplemental”, and would agree with accusations I overstated my case.
I’m not accusing you of anything
We are just having a discussion.
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Mar 14, 2022, 08:42 PM
 
Originally Posted by reader50 View Post
I don't see the above as bad news. Rather, renewables have come so far that we can meet 90% of summer peak demand before needing any coal power. If the three major US grids were intertied. I hadn't realized we'd made that much progress.
Yup. It has been a silent revolution.
Originally Posted by reader50 View Post
In practice, I believe we're doing all of these at once. The long-distance grid continues to get incremental upgrades. Solar and wind are the cheapest new power sources, so everyone's putting them in. Battery farms are gradually rolling out - though EVs currently need most of the battery supply. If memory serves, 50-100 new battery factories are under construction (half in China).
On point. Renewables are a lot cheaper than coal, etc. And once things get going battery farms could eventually be powered using recycled car batteries. Who cares if they only retain 50–60 % capacity?

That’s why coal is dying, it takes subsidies to keep coal power plants online. Like you correctly wrote, the limiting factor is the grid and the inertia in the industry. Big power plants are huge upfront investments that need years, decades of operation to pay themselves off. And after the initial investment has been recouped, it is in power companies’ interests to keep them running for as long as possible. That logic applies to coal, gas and nuclear power plants alike. That adds inertia to incentives to modernize the grid and switch off dirty coal and gas power plants early. The Merkel government together with conservative state governments really needed to use all their might in Germany to throttle back renewables. And now we are in a big mess.

Edit: It is also the real reason why nuclear is dead in most markets: it is too expensive to keep on developing nuclear reactors. Toshiba’s nuclear division (Toshiba/Westinghouse) took huge losses and Toshiba needed to sell of its most profitable business (memory chips). Building nuclear power plants is a big risk, renewables are cheaper, you can build them faster and you don’t need super expensive insurances (back wholly or in part by the state).
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subego
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Mar 15, 2022, 01:16 AM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
Right, and a lot of the worst factors coincide in Texas: an insufficiently robust power grid, no connection to the rest of the US (by choice) and insufficient regulations. I don’t want to oversimplify things, but you could say that Texas has a bad power grid, which means it is also a bad power grid for renewables. In fact, given the different requirements when comparing the base-mid-peak load philosophy to renewables, you could say it is especially badly suited.
In summer, the only criticism of Texas’ grid is it lacks interconnects. Otherwise, their whole grid is optimized for it. Texas is at the same latitude as North Africa.

Along those lines, I think one should consider the North Africa thing when getting on their case about winterization.

The big problem is they lack capacity. Their safety margin is too small, and can be completely wiped out by underperforming renewables.

Again, no question interconnects could help with that shortfall, but the American paradigm for power reliability doesn’t let you lean very hard on that. To be considered reliable in the American paradigm, you need to be nearly self-sufficient.

Now, I came across some stuff about Germany, and if IIUC, it’s like holy shit. Their safety margin is 50%. We don’t do that here. Maybe if we did a different paradigm would be more suitable.

How much of that shit got dumped on the East?
( Last edited by subego; Mar 15, 2022 at 04:44 AM. )
     
subego
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Mar 15, 2022, 04:16 AM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
I think this is too simplistic. Have a look what happened in France when they had to take big nuclear power plants offline...
If we’re talking about when France shut down it’s reactors to mitigate environmental damage, they offlined 4GW of nuclear. They have 62.5GW nuclear total. This is significantly less than a 30% loss we get in a Texas low-wind scenario.

That said, of course this should enter into the reliability assessment. That big power plants go out should be as well (which it is).

Phun phact: Texas actually does an excellent job making sure their generators remain operational, and minimizing loss due to maintenance and overhauls. They have to be because they’re always on the edge of collapse.

Edit: as an example, Texas averages 3.6GW loss in summer due to maintenance and overhaul. New York averages 3.2GW loss. Those numbers are similar but Texas is generating twice the power of New York.
( Last edited by subego; Mar 15, 2022 at 04:41 AM. )
     
subego
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Mar 15, 2022, 05:23 AM
 
One more consideration which I don’t believe has been mentioned.

Let’s say Goofus breaks the bank and builds 6 light-water nuclear reactors.

Then, Gallant builds the equivalent capacity of wind turbines.

If I’ve done the math right, the Gallant plan takes more space than the entire state of Rhode Island.
     
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Mar 15, 2022, 03:14 PM
 
During the Obama administration, six new nuclear reactors were approved for construction. But we hadn't built a new one in decades, so costs spiraled. In the end, two will be completed. The others weren't far enough along when the builder went bankrupt. A 3rd could have been finished, but the utility would have had to take a soaking - the utilities commission wouldn't allow a rate rise to be passed to customers. Since other power sources were more cost-effective, and could be built in an equivalent time.

No one in the USA is going to build 6 new reactors today. I like the idea myself, of avoiding homogenous power sources. And we need mature compact nuclear power experience, for use in the outer solar system. But dang, it's just so expensive to build new ones. That's why existing plants keep getting their licenses extended (along with incremental safety upgrades).

There are a lot of things that are bigger than Rhode Island. We may have more acreage in golf courses than RI. Or more farmland growing marijuana.
     
subego
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Mar 15, 2022, 03:36 PM
 
I’m not saying that sinks the Gallant plan, just that we should remember hidden costs.

Likewise, if all we care about is the bottom line, natural gas is still the way to go. It’s cheaper per megawatt than wind, and even though wind fuel is free, all that economic benefit gets eaten up by the added maintenance cost (at current natural gas prices).


Edit: and in Texas specifically, wind costs three times as much to build per MW over natural gas.
     
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Mar 15, 2022, 04:57 PM
 
This is incorrect. Solar is the cheapest power source today on average, followed by wind. Natural gas costs more, and coal still more. (These numbers and ranking do vary by location)

Source (October 2021 data)

Note that this ranking is for utility-scale deployments. Not customer-level, which occupies various higher points on the graphic.

Also, the natural gas price spiked during the 2021-2022 winter, going above coal for a time. This happened due to the economy coming back unexpectedly fast. However, the linked stats were released before the bump. I expect natural gas prices to return to normal by summer as more wells come back online.
     
subego
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Mar 15, 2022, 05:07 PM
 
I’m going by the EIA numbers.

https://www.eia.gov/outlooks/aeo/ass.../table_8.2.pdf

According to this, combined-cycle multi shaft is $1,062/kW to build. Photovoltaic is $1,327/kW.

I did screw up the fuel cost deal beyond the current price spike, but it still seems pretty competitive.
( Last edited by subego; Mar 15, 2022 at 06:21 PM. )
     
subego
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Mar 15, 2022, 05:41 PM
 
Some more numbers:

CCMS
Build: $1.15 billion

Equivalent Solar (no battery)
Build: $1.45 billion

Equivalent Solar (with battery)
Build: $1.89 billion

So, solar doesn’t break even until the gas plant has used between $300 and $740 million worth of fuel.
     
subego
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Mar 15, 2022, 06:16 PM
 
Aaaand I missed the real winner in terms of plant costs which is a natural gas industrial combustion turbine. Equivalent output to a CCMS costs a mere $850 million. What a bargain!

Not as efficient as a CCMS tho.
     
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Mar 15, 2022, 07:37 PM
 
subego, you may want to recheck that PDF. It appears focused more in installation costs, and overnight (peaking?) costs. Conspicuously absent is average cost, such as (installation + O&M)/production over a 10-year period. Whatever period is used to amortize the construction cost. Also absent - solar PV without tracking (the most common type installed today).

Finally, take a look at the "First available year" column. All dates are in the future. The reference for this column is: "Represents the first year that a new unit could become operational."

That PDF is an analysis of possible future generating technologies. Not the present market.
     
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Mar 15, 2022, 08:32 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
In summer, the only criticism of Texas’ grid is it lacks interconnects. Otherwise, their whole grid is optimized for it. Texas is at the same latitude as North Africa.
Are you sure that this is the only criticism? I haven’t looked into it, but I would not be surprised that the lack of (enforcement of) regulations will make Texas’ power grid more susceptible during load spikes. And you can have those in summer, too, e. g. when it is very hot and lots of people run their AC on full blast.
Originally Posted by subego View Post
The big problem is they lack capacity. Their safety margin is too small, and can be completely wiped out by underperforming renewables.
Is it?
Even in the old base load-mid load-peak load model, it isn’t all about capacity, one major factor is how quickly you can react to load spikes and whether the power grid can handle those.
Originally Posted by subego View Post
Again, no question interconnects could help with that shortfall, but the American paradigm for power reliability doesn’t let you lean very hard on that. To be considered reliable in the American paradigm, you need to be nearly self-sufficient.
First of all, is that really the American paradigm? It seems that apart from places like Hawaii and Puerto Rico, Texas’ power grid is the only one that is separate from the rest. So self-sufficiency on a state-level seems to not be the American way.
Originally Posted by subego View Post
Now, I came across some stuff about Germany, and if IIUC, it’s like holy shit. Their safety margin is 50%. We don’t do that here. Maybe if we did a different paradigm would be more suitable.
In part that is because you are stuck in the old world: power installations for renewables are much cheaper and require much less upfront investment. So having a larger safety margin is not necessarily more expensive. Plus, you can switch off renewables much, much more easily and much more quickly.

For example, last time I checked a coal power plant at 50 % max output consumes 80 % of coal at max load, i. e. they get very inefficient. And you can’t just shut them off either, that procedure takes a long while, as does firing them up again. That’s not true with renewables.

Lastly, overcapacity in Germany is the reason why I have been saying that we can shut off many gas or coal power plants with zero impact on consumers. The impact would be lower revenue, which is something big power companies oppose for obvious reasons.
Originally Posted by subego View Post
How much of that shit got dumped on the East?
What shit?
Like I wrote earlier, a major recipient is France to the West.
Originally Posted by subego View Post
One more consideration which I don’t believe has been mentioned.

Let’s say Goofus breaks the bank and builds 6 light-water nuclear reactors.
It is extremely hard to build nuclear power plants even when the approvals are in order. They are usually very late and way over budget. The nuclear industry is dying, companies like Toshiba and Westinghouse that make reactors are hemorrhaging money. There is no competition and with these companies operating at big losses, R&D is also not, well fast.

A lot of the new excitement about small nuclear reactors and thorium reactors are about reactor types that won’t be available for 20 years. Even if you are super optimistic, it’ll be another 10 years. I’m not. And small reactors are not meant to be price competitive, they are meant for special applications (like remote locations), assuming I am up to date. The idea of a thorium reactor is quite old, too. On paper it sounds intriguing, especially the prospect to convert radioactive material that will be dangerous for tens of thousands of years into radioactive material that will be dangerous for 500 years. However, in my estimation it would cost tens of billions to develop the technology, much of it would have to be paid for by governments. Realistically, I wouldn’t be surprised if we have fusion power first. And that always seems to be 50 years off.
Originally Posted by subego View Post
Then, Gallant builds the equivalent capacity of wind turbines.

If I’ve done the math right, the Gallant plan takes more space than the entire state of Rhode Island.
I didn’t do the math, but assuming you are right, so what? The US has plenty of free space with areas that have very low population densities. Do you care if you put wind mills and solar farms into the Arizonian desert? That’s what Chile does. Works for them.
Originally Posted by subego View Post
I’m going by the EIA numbers.

https://www.eia.gov/outlooks/aeo/ass.../table_8.2.pdf

According to this, combined-cycle multi shaft is $1,062/kW to build. Photovoltaic is $1,327/kW.
The numbers I have correspond to reader’s numbers: photovoltaics is the cheapest thanks to precipitous fall in prices over the last few years. On-shore wind is second-cheapest. Off-shore wind is more expensive but still cheaper than any fossil fuel. If you disregard costs for storage of nuclear waste and the insurance provided by the state, then nuclear is next.

The only thing is that you need to revamp the power grid, which is the big upfront investment if you want to switch to renewables.
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Mar 16, 2022, 01:03 PM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
What shit?
All the new generators.

I’m asking where Germany put it all. Is it evenly spread out, or did it end up in the former East Germany?

As an aside, what’s the official name for “the region formerly known as East Germany”?
     
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Mar 16, 2022, 01:51 PM
 
Originally Posted by reader50 View Post
subego, you may want to recheck that PDF. It appears focused more in installation costs, and overnight (peaking?) costs. Conspicuously absent is average cost, such as (installation + O&M)/production over a 10-year period. Whatever period is used to amortize the construction cost. Also absent - solar PV without tracking (the most common type installed today).

Finally, take a look at the "First available year" column. All dates are in the future. The reference for this column is: "Represents the first year that a new unit could become operational."

That PDF is an analysis of possible future generating technologies. Not the present market.
IIUC, it’s the present market in terms of what if we start building right now.

If we start building now, that’s how long it will take to finish.

“Overnight cost” is how much it would cost to build if there were no market changes during construction. As in, “if this generator was finished tomorrow (overnight), it would have cost this much”. I don’t know if I explained that well.

“Total overnight cost” is overnight cost x technological optimism factor. The technological optimism factor represents that new technology tends to go over-budget. Neither CCMS or solar are considered new, so the technological optimism factor for all of them is 1.

At the end they have fuel costs and yearly maintenance.


Now, I screwed this up in the beginning, but caught the mistake and gave revised and qualified numbers.

Solar costs more to build than gas. I’m not saying gas is cheaper than solar, I’m saying it costs less to build the generator.

Cost to build:
CCMS: $1.15 billion
Solar: $1.45 billion
Solar (with battery): $1.89 billion

Again, this is just to build.

Fixed O&M per year is such a tiny fraction of the build cost I’m ignoring it. Not to mention it’s more expensive for solar, so including it would only make the CCMS look like a better deal.

This leaves fuel.

Rather than calculate that, I presented the numbers thusly:

“So, solar doesn’t break even until the gas plant has used between $300 and $740 million worth of fuel.”

Again, I am not claiming gas is cheaper, I am only quantifying the amount of savings solar must net to break even with the gas option: $300-$740 million worth of fuel.

Edit: I have no idea how long it would take a CCMS to burn that much fuel. For the battery option we’re getting towards a billion dollars worth of it, which seems like a lot to me, but I also wouldn’t be shocked if that only lasted a few years.


Note, this gap is a lot larger with a combustion turbine, but due to inefficiency it burns fuel much faster, so there’s no real difference between a combustion turbine and a CCMS in that regard.
( Last edited by subego; Mar 16, 2022 at 02:46 PM. )
     
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Mar 16, 2022, 04:25 PM
 
That PDF still looks screwy. Fixed PV solar has no O&M costs besides inspections. At US latitudes, panels are tilted enough for wind and rain to clean them. So you don't even pay someone to dust them off. Besides inspections, they'll occasionally change an air conditioning unit in one of the inverter huts.

By 2018, wind prices had fallen below the price of natural gas (ArsTechnica). Solar had also, but solar had yet to fall below wind price. The article was posted in 2019, but it's based on 2018 data.
... recent wind farms have gotten so cheap that you can build and operate them for less than the expected cost of buying fuel for an equivalent natural gas plant.
So not only did wind cost less, it cost less than the operating cost of an existing gas plant. That's a pretty solid lead.

By 2020, solar passed wind to become the cheapest power source. CleanTechnica report. Second source at CarbonBrief. Both are based on an IEA 2020 report, though the articles provide other references too.

As natural gas was the cheapest fossil fuel before recent spikes, it is now cheaper to build solar or wind plants than to operate any existing fossil fuel plant. Even a just-built natural gas plant. Note that this varies by location. There will be locations where solar and wind are both restricted enough to keep natural gas competitive.
     
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Originally Posted by reader50 View Post
That PDF still looks screwy. Fixed PV solar has no O&M costs besides inspections. At US latitudes, panels are tilted enough for wind and rain to clean them. So you don't even pay someone to dust them off. Besides inspections, they'll occasionally change an air conditioning unit in one of the inverter huts.
Where does it say it’s limited to inspections?

The table has a column for yearly operation and maintenance costs. For solar (no-battery) it’s $15.97 per kW per year. With battery it’s $33.67 per kW per year.

For the giant installations I was talking about, that’s $17 million a year for no battery, and $36 million with.

The CCMS is $12.77 per kW per year (non-fuel) O&M, which works out to $14 million a year.
     
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Originally Posted by subego View Post
Where does it say it’s limited to inspections?
Right here. A reliable source. I drive by local solar farms occasionally. There's no one there but the rabbits. Maybe they're talking about replacing panels as they degrade. But lifespan of current panels is pretty good, and replacements in future years are usually more efficient - higher wattage from the same panel size. So it would count as an upgrade as much as maintenance.

Please give up that PDF - it doesn't give standalone figures for fixed PV (without batteries). Sun-tracking PV will involve servicing stepper motors and support bearings among other things. Lots of moving parts. But almost no one is installing sun-tracking today. The panels are so cheap that you just overbuild the farm instead. The only moving parts are air conditioner units in the inverter huts, and fans built into the inverters.

It implies that gas is cheaper than wind or solar, which we know to be wrong today (from multiple sources).
It gives a high O&M figure for Solar (type unspecified) + Batteries. Which can't be right either - batteries don't have moving parts. Why would they increase the O&M cost? So presumably it's sun-tracking PV again + batteries, and includes the cost of incremental battery replacements in future years. Which we don't actually have figures for. And I don't think the other power sources include incremental costs for indefinite use. What is the annual cost of nuclear, assuming indefinite use? You'd have to replace the reactor vessels eventually, essentially rebuilding half the plant. The most expansive half. If that cost were factored in, Nuclear would be insanely expensive, rather than just expensive.

That PDF is not a reliable source for the current market. It's talking about something else, or power sources in isolation.
     
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Originally Posted by reader50 View Post
Right here. A reliable source. I drive by local solar farms occasionally. There's no one there but the rabbits.
Oh… I was totally misunderstanding.

I thought you were saying the PDF omitted costs.

Give me a bit to look at it.
     
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Mar 16, 2022, 09:19 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
All the new generators.

I’m asking where Germany put it all. Is it evenly spread out, or did it end up in the former East Germany?
No, many (most?) new houses have solar panels on their roofs. And wind mills are everywhere on the countryside. Of course, offshore wind is only an option for the North, because that is where the German coast is. Countries like the US, Chile and Canada should have an easier time, because there are vast regions with extremely low population density, which would be perfect for wind and solar farms. (I’ve driven past those in the Chilean Atacama desert, they were very impressive.)
Originally Posted by subego View Post
As an aside, what’s the official name for “the region formerly known as East Germany”?
We use Eastern Germany.
Originally Posted by subego View Post
IIUC, it’s the present market in terms of what if we start building right now.
I don’t think the pdf you found corresponds to the vast majority of sources. One important point that reader made is with regards to photovoltaics in particular as it re-emphasizes a point I made earlier: you can afford to overprovision, and doing so is cheaper than a more sophisticated setup that is more efficient in converting solar radiation into electricity.

Reader also mentions electricity storage for solar power (e. g. using batteries or molten salt). This is still very much in development and depends very much on local factors. Molten salt storage is overkill for a single household with solar panels on the roof, but something communities could invest in. But a battery could work. Perhaps batteries might be more expensive, but on the other hand, it might be a hard sell politically to agree on building a molten salt storage facility for the community. For large solar farms, the situation is different again. Point being that with renewables you need to completely change your approach to how you produce, store and use electricity.

I think in the future we could also use overcapacity to e. g. produce hydrogen, which is expected to have uses in industrial applications and long-distance transport. It wouldn’t be very efficient, but since the electricity is free, it might still be profitable overall.
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Mar 17, 2022, 11:11 PM
 
Originally Posted by reader50 View Post
But almost no one is installing sun-tracking today.
Point the first.

Here are the 2020 stats for fixed vs. tracking with utility-scale PV. No 2021 numbers yet.




Eyeballing that last bar, tracking outnumbered fixed about 9-to-1.


https://emp.lbl.gov/sites/default/fi...ion_slides.pdf (p. 13)
( Last edited by subego; Mar 17, 2022 at 11:29 PM. )
     
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Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
Originally Posted by subego View Post
To be considered reliable in the American paradigm, you need to be nearly self-sufficient.
First of all, is that really the American paradigm? It seems that apart from places like Hawaii and Puerto Rico, Texas’ power grid is the only one that is separate from the rest. So self-sufficiency on a state-level seems to not be the American way.
As I’m sure you’re aware, grids are somewhat fractal-like. You have the total grid, which is made up of smaller grids joined by interconnects, and then those grids are made up of smaller grids joined by interconnects, and so on down the line.

Ignoring Texas momentarily, the total grid in the contiguous United States is split into two smaller grids, unimaginatively named “Eastern” and “Western”.

Western is split into three smaller grids. Eastern is split into nine. It’s these grids we demand to be self-sufficient. Basically one level below the top-level split.

If we built interconnects to Texas, that’s where it would fit. One level below the top-level split, along with the other nine grids in Eastern.
( Last edited by subego; Mar 18, 2022 at 02:24 AM. )
     
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Mar 18, 2022, 03:12 AM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
As I’m sure you’re aware, grids are somewhat fractal-like. You have the total grid, which is made up of smaller grids joined by interconnects, and then those grids are made up of smaller grids joined by interconnects, and so on down the line. […]
So if Texas' way of doing thing is not the American paradigm, what exactly is your point then? The other states (except when geographically impossible) are all interconnected, and a single state would never have to be self-sufficient — at least not instantaneously at each point in time.

Without having done any research, I would expect that this interconnectedness is used in the same fashion as in Europe, namely as a way to compensate for momentary load spikes as well as longer-term imbalances in power generation. And I reckon that some states are doing a better job at being close-to-self-sufficient than others. That being said, the American Way seems to look pretty much like the European Way (or was that the other way around? ).
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Mar 18, 2022, 03:19 AM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
Point the first.

Here are the 2020 stats for fixed vs. tracking with utility-scale PV. No 2021 numbers yet.

[big table]

Eyeballing that last bar, tracking outnumbered fixed about 9-to-1.
I had to use Street View to recheck. Older solar farms around here are fixed. Newer fields appear to be single-axis tilted. Though curiously, they're not fixed-tilted for latitude. ie - they're flat to the ground, but tilt East-West to follow the sun. Will give good results in summer, but sunlight will be at quite an angle during winter. Even with the tracking.

I'll give you the tracking dominating on newer installs.

Note that Fixed remains in significant use, for irregular terrain, residential, or where durability concerns apply. Likely to always remain a significant part of the market.
     
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Mar 18, 2022, 06:18 PM
 
Likewise, I’ll totally grant you fixed-tilt is cheap. Looks to be half the cost of tracking, which makes fixed-tilt even cheaper to build than a combustion turbine. I have yet to discover why fixed-tilt is not more popular in utility-scale projects.

Which leads to point the second: fixed-tilt vs. tracking O&M

Surprisingly, there appears to be almost no difference between the two. This table compares them, and also addresses point the third: just what the fuck are they spending this O&M money on. The dashed lines are in $5/kW-yr increments, so the one at “module replacement” is $15/kW-yr.




Which brings us to point the fourth: The PDF has $15.97/kW-yr, so that looks more or less right.

Following onto point the fifth: are they cheesing the PV numbers by including replacements when we don’t do that for other generation methods?

AFAICT? No. The general consensus seems to be we should take “fixed O&M per year” literally. It only applies to things which happen every year, and in similar (I.e., fixed) quantities.

Which leads to point the sixth: why does adding a battery double the O&M?

I don’t have a breakdown, but I can offer a few insights.

The first is utility-scale PV storage O&M apparently costs about the same as standalone storage. This implies there’s duplication of services involved.

One reason there’s duplication is what I’ll call the “woops factor”. A PV woops is a cracked panel or a broken motor. A battery woops is several million dollars of infrastructure burning to the ground. The PV team can be monkeys. The storage team has to actually know what they’re doing.

Lastly, despite what I said about the meaning of “fixed O&M per year”, some outfits try to divert money into that budget for battery replacement anyway.



Edit: oh! I forgot to add none of this includes tax credits.
( Last edited by subego; Mar 18, 2022 at 07:28 PM. )
     
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Mar 18, 2022, 08:30 PM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
That being said, the American Way seems to look pretty much like the European Way (or was that the other way around? ).
You’ve got it exactly right.

In fact, think of those 12 grids I talked about as “countries” interconnected just like in Europe. We can use the interconnects to compensate for long-term imbalances between these “countries”, just like Europe.

For better or worse, we don’t use this strategy. You’ve correctly identified much of the “worse”. For example, we deny ourselves the option of letting a “country” with good solar and wind potential compensate for a “country” that doesn’t.

The “better” is the insurance against disaster the strategy offers by dint of it forcing each “country” to overbuild.

Circling back to Texas, if if we put in interconnects, the American paradigm would still insist they overbuild.
     
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Originally Posted by subego View Post
In fact, think of those 12 grids I talked about as “countries” interconnected just like in Europe. We can use the interconnects to compensate for long-term imbalances between these “countries”, just like Europe.
That’s what I thought.
Originally Posted by subego View Post
For better or worse, we don’t use this strategy. You’ve correctly identified much of the “worse”. For example, we deny ourselves the option of letting a “country” with good solar and wind potential compensate for a “country” that doesn’t.
Bingo.
The idea for this is super old and exists when some countries depend on e. g. hydro power already. You can find it in the Pickens Plan and in the strategies of most countries when switching to renewables. Just like oil, gas and other natural resources are located in some specific places and need to be transported, you might want to consider the same for electricity.
Originally Posted by subego View Post
The “better” is the insurance against disaster the strategy offers by dint of it forcing each “country” to overbuild.
That’s assuming that you are supply constrained. Very often the weaknesses lie elsewhere as the recent blackout in Texas has shown. They had plenty of gas, they just couldn’t get it to the power plants.

IMHO the way forward when adopting renewables is to delocalize energy production. People should have solar panels on their roofs by default, which could provide a large part of the electricity needed, especially when coupled to a battery. Will it allow one to run their stove, oven and sauna at night during a blackout? Probably not, but it should keep the light on and at least a room or two warm.
Originally Posted by subego View Post
Circling back to Texas, if if we put in interconnects, the American paradigm would still insist they overbuild.
I still don’t know what the American paradigm is, and even if I did, I think Texas is deliberately not following it.
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Mar 18, 2022, 11:10 PM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
That’s assuming that you are supply constrained. Very often the weaknesses lie elsewhere as the recent blackout in Texas has shown. They had plenty of gas, they just couldn’t get it to the power plants.
Well, of course.

It goes without saying excess capacity only insures against disasters that can be remedied with excess capacity.

The American paradigm is to build excess capacity. You are absolutely correct Texas does not follow the paradigm of building excess capacity.



Edit: think of it as if every country in Europe decided to behave like Germany, just not so… Prussian. Instead of 50% excess, more like 20%. That’s what Europe would look like if it followed the American paradigm.

Edit2: another way to think of it is European countries take a very “bespoke” approach to electricity. America is “one size fits all”. If I had to guess, that size was meant to be worn by someone expecting to eat a few ICBMs.
( Last edited by subego; Mar 18, 2022 at 11:45 PM. )
     
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Mar 18, 2022, 11:28 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
Some comments on this table.

It's odd that you have "Land lease" AND "Property taxes". You'd expect either leasing cost, or (if they own the land) property tax. If you're paying both, you're being scammed.

About the Vegetation Management (yellow, at the bottom). Outside of desert areas, many renewable farms are getting triple revenue streams from their investment. They put in windmills, which are separated decently to avoid interference. Since they also had to put in the power collection grid, they then build solar panels in between the windmills. Using the existing collection grid. 2x revenue streams.

But if you're somewhere it rains regularly, they're getting that 3rd revenue stream. Build the solar frames a little higher, and sell the grazing rights underneath to sheep farmers. Sure, it probably isn't a lot. But 3x revenue streams from one farm is pretty sweet.

Originally Posted by subego View Post
In fact, think of those 12 grids I talked about as “countries” interconnected just like in Europe. We can use the interconnects to compensate for long-term imbalances between these “countries”, just like Europe.

For better or worse, we don’t use this strategy. You’ve correctly identified much of the “worse”. For example, we deny ourselves the option of letting a “country” with good solar and wind potential compensate for a “country” that doesn’t.
I think the above is incorrect. The large East and West grids do pass power between internal smaller grids for load balancing. Not sure how intelligent it is - it might only be for low/mid/peak load balancing. Or it could be smart balancing, to maximize renewable share when available.

Certainly during California summer peaks, they get electricity from everywhere. I've read they pull from Mexico in the south, and can go all the way to Canada in the north. Probably stop at the Wall though.
     
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Originally Posted by reader50 View Post
Certainly during California summer peaks, they get electricity from everywhere. I've read they pull from Mexico in the south, and can go all the way to Canada in the north. Probably stop at the Wall though.
In the model we use to judge reliability the scenario assumes only a trickle of imports from adjacent grids are available.

If we put the California grid into this scenario, on a hot day the grid crashes.

So, according to this model, California’s grid is unreliable.

Does that make sense? I’m not arguing that’s the correct model to use, I’m just trying to explain what the model is.
     
 
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