This group brings together the best thinkers on energy and climate. Join us for smart, insightful posts and conversations about where the energy industry is and where it is going.

10,137 Members

Post

Utility Experience Blows Away Concerns About Wind Power

The Southwest Power Pool said last week that it met 52.1 percent of the electricity demand in the sprawling transmission organization’s service territory with windpower during a portion of the overnight period on Feb. 13, marking the first time SPP had topped the 50 percent mark. What’s even bigger news is that hardly anyone noticed—these records have been falling consistently for the past several years with the steady increase in wind farm construction across the Midwest; SPP set its prior record of 49.2 percent just last year.

The real news, however, wasn’t the percentage itself, but what Bruce Rew, SPP’s vice president of operations, said later in the same press release concerning the changes that have occurred in the past 10 years. Then, the SPP release noted, a goal of 25 percent would have been deemed unrealistic.

Clearly, not anymore.

“Since then,” Rew said, “we’ve gained experience and implemented new policies and procedures. Now we have the ability to reliably manage greater than 50 percent wind penetration. It’s not even our ceiling. We continue to study even higher levels of renewable, variable generation as part of our plans to maintain a reliable and economic grid of the future.”

In journalism, that’s called burying the lede, but it is indicative of the changes that have swept across the utility industry in the past decade. As I noted in a January post (which you can read here), the concerns in the utility industry about windpower’s impact on the grid’s reliability were palpable. From the outside, the degree of unease often seemed over the top, but for those charged with operating the system, the concerns were indeed real.

Experience has changed those attitudes. SPP’s latest wind integration analysis, completed in 2015 and released early last year (you can find it here) looks at what system changes or hardware additions would be required to run the system reliably at wind penetration levels of 30 percent, 45 percent and 60 percent. (As of year-end 2016 there was slightly more than 16,000 megawatts of installed wind generating capacity in SPP’s territory; in 2015, the latest full year of data, wind accounted for just under 14 percent of the system’s electric output.) The report’s findings are technical in nature and cover a range of needed upgrades and operational changes, but the upshot is straightforward: If the changes are made, they “would enable the SPP transmission system to reliably handle up to the 60 percent wind penetration levels studied.”

That type of matter-of-fact finding 10 years ago would have been almost unthinkable, but today it is common across the utility industry.

In Texas, the transmission system operators at ERCOT have successfully integrated a surge of new windpower capacity in the last five years: Wind accounted for 15.1 percent of the state’s generation in 2016, up from 8.5 percent in 2011. And the growth is slated to continue. According to data from the American Wind Energy Association (which can be found here), there is an additional 5,401 MW of windpower capacity under construction in the state, which is already far and away the largest wind generator in the U.S., with 20,321 MW of installed capacity.

As with the SPP approach, what’s important to note is the matter-of-fact way this capacity is being integrated. In its 2016 annual report (which is available here), ERCOT notes: “In 2016, wind and solar projects accounted for the majority of new generation built in the ERCOT region. As renewable energy and other new technologies continue to grow in Texas, ERCOT is adapting to ensure the reliability and efficiency of the electric system.” There are issues, as ERCOT points out, citing in particular the need to cope with sudden shifts in generation output and reduced inertia on the system, but they are just that, issues, not insurmountable problems.

These changing attitudes toward wind are reflected in the political arena as well. ERCOT and SPP span all or parts of 14 states (covering the Plains and beyond), 12 of which voted solidly for Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election. But it would be a mistake to assume that the new president’s antipathy for renewable energy is widely shared in these red states. The chart below illustrates this dichotomy: Start with Texas in the south and move due north to North Dakota, all six of those states voted for Trump, and yet they have been prime beneficiaries of the windpower industry’s development in the past 10 years.

Installed Windpower Capacity By State

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) is perhaps the best-known GOP windpower backer, proudly noting that he wrote the original production tax credit legislation that helped the industry get off the ground in 1992. He was also quoted last year warning candidate Trump that any changes to the PTC would only make it through Congress “over my dead body.”

Less well known, the industry also enjoys the backing of Kansas’ conservative governor, Sam Brownback. The staunch anti-tax Brownback has pushed through a series of supply side economic policies in Kansas that has thrown the state economy into a tailspin. At the same time, he is vice chair of the Governors’ Wind and Solar Energy Coalition, and is lobbying on behalf of continued federal support for the investment and production tax credits that have done so much to spur development of both the wind and solar industries.

In a recent letter to President Trump, Brownback and Gina Raimondo, the Democratic governor from Rhode Island who currently chairs the coalition, wrote: “The nation’s wind and solar energy resources are transforming low-income rural areas in ways not seen since the passage of the Homestead Act over 150 years ago. For example, U.S. wind facilities pay rural landowners $222 million a year, with more than $156 million going to landowners in areas with below-average incomes. In addition, $100 billion has been invested by companies in low-income counties, where some 70 percent of the nation’s wind farms are located.”

More broadly, the two continued: “Members of the coalition have seen the benefits of renewable energy firsthand, and agree that expanding renewable energy production is one of the best ways to meet the country’s growing demand for energy. Today’s wind and solar resources offer consumers nearly unlimited electric energy with no fuel costs, no national security impacts, and a number of environmental benefits. The boons of renewable energy can be virtually endless with your administration’s and Congress’ support of the key initiatives detailed here. Your support of these initiatives will allow our nation to capitalize on renewable resources, meet the needs of Americans and bolster the economy.” (The complete letter can be found here.)

Broad support can also be found for windpower in Texas—just don’t call it an environmental thing. For starters, while there is debate about former Gov. Rick Perry’s overall role in pushing wind’s development in the state, he did sign the 2005 legislation establishing the renewable energy transmission zones that has made the Texas “wind rush” a possibility. And Perry is certainly not the technology’s only backer across the state as this story from The Guardian makes abundantly clear.

Call it what you want—experience, economics, environmental protection—it all means the same thing: windpower is here to stay, regardless of who sits in the Oval Office.

Original Post

Dennis Wamsted's picture

Thank Dennis for the Post!

Energy Central contributors share their experience and insights for the benefit of other Members (like you). Please show them your appreciation by leaving a comment, 'liking' this post, or following this Member.

Discussions

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on February 28, 2017

Dennis, this Los Angeles Times article from today makes it sound like exactly the opposite is happening – wind power is being blown away by concerns about it:

“Wind is Not the Answer

Since 2015, more than 120 government entities in about two dozen states have moved to reject or restrict the land-devouring, subsidy-fueled sprawl of the wind industry.
The backlash continued last month when a judge in Maryland ruled that the possible benefits of a proposed 17-turbine project did “not justify or offset subjecting the local community to the adverse impacts that will result from the wind project’s construction and operation.” The judge’s ruling probably spells the end of an eight-year battle that pitted local homeowners and Allegheny County against the developer of the 60-megawatt project.”

http://enewspaper.latimes.com/infinity/article_popover_share.aspx?guid=5...

It makes wind power sound like a real loser.

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on February 28, 2017

Wind is killing it in the Plains states and picking up some steam in other regions. For those who want to see the actual data – here is good report.

The below is one of the many charts in this report.

Wind Capacity Under Construction or in Advanced Development
• There are now 10,432 MW under construction and 7,913 MW in advanced development, a combined 18,344 MW of wind capacity.
• Project developers announced 6,345 MW in combined new activity during the fourth quarter, with 3,793 MW in new construction announcements (a three year record high) and 2,552 MW in new advanced development.

Thorkil Soee's picture
Thorkil Soee on February 28, 2017

Wind power is the parasite, getting all the subsidies and letting the rest take care of backup.

Rex Berglund's picture
Rex Berglund on February 28, 2017

Bob, the article you cite is written by an associate of the Manhattan Institute, which has ties to the Koch brothers.

http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Manhattan_Institute_for_Policy_Rese...

Engineer- Poet's picture
Engineer- Poet on February 28, 2017

Practicing guilt by association now?  Denying a fact because of the purported allegiances of the one who utters it is very post-modernist.  Either his stuff checks out or it doesn’t.  If he’s telling the whole truth, you have NO grounds to criticize him because of who pays his employer.

This does not excuse half-truths.  A half-truth is a whole lie.

Rex Berglund's picture
Rex Berglund on February 28, 2017

EP, I rejected the premise out of hand and immediately suspected fake news, and one quick search later I was not surprised by the source.

Besides, I thought it was ironic since Bob’s always complaining about the Nat. Gas influence out in CA.

However, if you actually buy into the “wind is a loser” narrative, check out this prediction courtesy of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory titled Wind Energy Will See More Tech Breakthroughs, Falling Costs, Experts Predict.

Engineer- Poet's picture
Engineer- Poet on February 28, 2017

I rejected the premise out of hand and immediately suspected fake news

So what was fake about it?  All I saw from you is claims about the Manhattan Institute and the Koch brothers.

if you actually buy into the “wind is a loser” narrative, check out this prediction courtesy of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory titled Wind Energy Will See More Tech Breakthroughs, Falling Costs, Experts Predict.

Is there ANY possible “breakthrough” that can make wind farms generate power regardless of whether there’s wind, or no wind?

No?

Then wind is still the loser that it has been for centuries, which led to its replacement by coal.  You can ignore reality, but you can’t ignore the consequences of ignoring reality.

Nathan Wilson's picture
Nathan Wilson on March 1, 2017

Fascinating, it’s only been a short time since solar has become cheaper than windpower in California, and already California has stopped building new windfarms (see AWEA report which Joe Deely links above), and people (or at least journalists) have stopped pretending to like the aesthetics of neighboring windfarm.

The US government EIA is forecasting US windpower installations will accelerate this year, but drop off nearly to zero after 2022 as the subsidies end. Apparently they think even the windy central plains will loose interest.

Hops Gegangen's picture
Hops Gegangen on March 1, 2017

Hardly a revelation that wind makes sense in the Great Plains with lots of wind and few people, but not in states with scant wind and many people.

Rex Berglund's picture
Rex Berglund on March 1, 2017

EP, the DOE proposes 400 GW in their Wind Vision Study, does that answer your questions?

Further, I find it intriguing that nuclear advocates claim those who advocate for renewables are guaranteeing FF lockin, whereas this article from a FF funded group seems intended to suppress adoption of renewables.

Leo Klisch's picture
Leo Klisch on March 1, 2017

Unless natural gas prices skyrocket for a few years and/or a significant rebated carbon tax happens.

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on March 1, 2017

Partly true… However, in that report CA has one wind farm under construction and two in advanced dev. CA is not really a great wind state and any in-state projects will have to compete with out of state projects that can supply CA.

For instance the project below which is under construction in NM and will replace some of the electricity that was lost by Southern California Edison when they closed down their share of Four Corners coal plant

There is also a huge development in WY which would send wind electricity to CA.

Wind will probably slow down after 2018, as TX, OK and other states add large amounts of solar to wind portfolios. Not gonna drop to nearly zero though. Especially not if EIA predicts that it will.

Engineer- Poet's picture
Engineer- Poet on March 1, 2017

the DOE proposes 400 GW in their Wind Vision Study, does that answer your questions?

Hardly.  The feasible penetration of wind on a grid (note, not in single polities ON a grid) appears to nowhere have exceeded its capacity factor.  A map showing projections without any indication of how they were produced is as good as utter fantasy, which it probably is.

I find it intriguing that nuclear advocates claim those who advocate for renewables are guaranteeing FF lockin, whereas this article from a FF funded group seems intended to suppress adoption of renewables.

The “Clean Power Plan” was effectively designed by NRDC activists, and the NRDC is currently a front for the gas industry.  They know which side their bread is buttered on, and just how far that “bridge” will go (as far as they want it to).

What would suppress ruinables is parity of subsidies and grid priority for nuclear.  Solar might survive to serve summer A/C peaks (esp. with ice storage) but wind probably would not.

Rex Berglund's picture
Rex Berglund on March 2, 2017

EP,

feasible penetration of wind on a grid (note, not in single polities ON a grid) appears to nowhere have exceeded its capacity factor.

You’re saying that because it’s never been done it never will be? As the author points out, SPP projects they can reliably handle up to 60% wind. The 35% wind in the 2015 DOE Wind Vision study was a close match to NREL’s 2012 RE Futures 38% wind component. So, that’s 3 projections that it can.

without any indication of how they were produced

of course there is, here’s a link to the study. Section 1.2 describes the use of the ReEDS model, and Appendix G contains additional, non-wind inputs and assumptions used for the ReEDS scenario modeling.

Now, I’ve seen no convincing rebuttals of any of these studies. Sure, some have taken issue with them in some forum’s comments section, but no comprehensive rebuttals that I’ve seen published.

So, I suggest nuclear advocates do just that, provide a comprehensive rebuttal to e.g. RE Futures and Wind Vision, not here in the comments section of TEC, but hosted for instance on the NEI website; spread the news far and wide. Then, you can outline your plan for 80% nuclear, including a site map of the projected NPPs.

Helmut Frik's picture
Helmut Frik on March 2, 2017

Well recently some new development was shown to the public which allows to have wind power from wind power generators even when there is no wind at the place where you are.
Maybe you translate the article into english and take a closer look at this novel development in Technology:

douglas card's picture
douglas card on March 2, 2017

Only an amazingly ignorant tool or a liar would suggest that wind (with the help of solar) is NOT in the middle of replacing coal as we type. That will be clear to even conservatives by 2020 if not sooner

michael fellion's picture
michael fellion on March 2, 2017

Feb 13 for a hour or so. What about the other 8759 hours in the year?

michael fellion's picture
michael fellion on March 2, 2017

Lawrence Berkeley is the home of the AGW crowd in the bay area. They never saw a non fossil fuel source they did not like excluding nuclear, never mind the environmental and monetary costs. To make sure you love their ideas they stopped carrying the Giss data set, actual measured temperatures at each station versus the adjusted temperatures a few years back. You could look up your station in your town and when you found the adjusted temperature was not what the local news was reporting you could email them for an explanation. i bet they got a lot of questions as Giss has adjusted tens of thousands of measurements and plugged measurement holes with tens of thousands of made up temperatures. Eliminated the data set, problem solved.

michael fellion's picture
michael fellion on March 2, 2017

If you look at present wind farms, the statistics show about a 33 percent operation. That means to generate the power you need at any one time you need three times the number of wind farms to generate the power which costs three times fossil fuel plant costs just to build them.

Donald Osborn's picture
Donald Osborn on March 2, 2017

And yet wind (and now solar) continue to be the cheaper way to go.

Diarmuid  Foley's picture
Diarmuid Foley on March 2, 2017

I’ve never seen such a polarised debate as there is around energy policy , it augurs poorly for getting off FF, if that’s the goal, which I believe it is.

Currently we have a generation market and a capacity market , with the latter propping up the former. What does the customer want ? 24/7 power what I pay for , not 7/24 or 0/24

Here’s my suggestion :-
VRE should have to bid firm 24/7 generation into the market
NPP, hydro (HP) and anything else that is < 20g/KWh ( + clean emissions ) does the same
As both tech are low-carbonM ( LC ) , both receive support pro-rata to the LC energy they supply

It won't matter if ~70% of VRE's generation is FF or NP (or HP), al, low-carbon tech gets to slug it out and FF gets squeezed.

Donald Osborn's picture
Donald Osborn on March 2, 2017

Bob, I know form your many cogent comments that you know the Manhattan Institute and its “fellows” are seldom a reliable or valid source of information or analysis. I can show you reference of claims that solar panels are “draining the sun”. Doe not make it true nor useful to the discussion. Having said that it is always interesting to see how far the fossil apologists will go to twist reality. Yes, there are problems, challenges, and concerns to address with high penetration of intermittent resources, but the are just that, challenges to understand and resolve. Was not long ago that the same sources were claiming that wind and solar would never amount to any significant impact and would always be way too costly. How is that turning out.

Donald Osborn's picture
Donald Osborn on March 2, 2017

Very useful post. Thank you. Many are seeing the same results in high penetration of solar (both central and distributed). When I started the first broad based distributed PV utility program (SMUD) in the early 1990s, many were claiming that solar would “bring down the grid”. No, we just need to grow and learn how to handle a mix of resources and adapt to the new reality. Always good to see the real world exploding the myths and purveyors of alt-facts.

Engineer- Poet's picture
Engineer- Poet on March 2, 2017

As the author points out, SPP projects they can reliably handle up to 60% wind.

Let me re-quote TFA with the important part emphasized:

it met 52.1 percent of the electricity demand in the sprawling transmission organization’s service territory with windpower during a portion of the overnight period on Feb. 13

In other words, at one time, at minimum load in the wee hours of Monday AM coming out of the weekend, SPP beat 50% wind generation.  SPP is part of the Eastern Interconnect; how much power it was exporting eastward to keep its must-run generators providing the balancing and VAR support required by the ruinables is not stated.

Further, the SPP projections are based on complete and total fantasy [https://www.spp.org/documents/34200/2016%20wind%20integration%20study%20(wis)%20final.pdf#page=19]:

The average wind capacity factors of the wind dispatched is about:
30% WIS models – 80% Capacity Factor
45% WIS models – 87% Capacity Factor
60% WIS models – 93% Capacity Factor

Nowhere in the world does wind have a 93%, or even 80%, capacity factor.  Nowhere.  Highest in the USA is Hawaii at 42.5%, with OK the highest in the SPP at 40.9%.  To put it bluntly, the actual performance of wind farms is grossly insufficient to meet even the 30% WIS case.

Note further that my claim is confirmed by this paper:  the wind penetrations are WELL below the capacity factors they project for their wind generation.

Note STILL further that the claims for wind power penetration DO NOT translate to reductions in fuel consumption; many more hours with plants starting (consuming fuel w/o taking load), idling or operating at sub-optimal efficiencies to provide balancing will burn more than the straight number of MWh generated under today’s conditions indicates.

I’ve seen no convincing rebuttals of any of these studies.

You’re living in your own delusions.  You’ve got one right in front of you, and tomorrow you’ll probably deny that you’ve ever seen it.  You’re practicing “environmental consciousness” as a religion, where no fact can be allowed to challenge dogma.  I’d say “that way lies madness” but you’ve already arrived.

I suggest nuclear advocates do just that, provide a comprehensive rebuttal to e.g. RE Futures and Wind Vision

We’ve got France at 78% nuclear electricity without hardly trying.  We’ve got Ontario regularly running its grid with less than 20 gCO2/kWh, as it is right now [http://canadianenergyissues.com/].  You’ve BEEN rebutted for decades now, so have the basic decency to either explicitly accept and agree or SHUT UP.

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on March 2, 2017

Some new info from SPP. 60% is old news.

The RTO’s two most recent studies of wind and other variable resources analyzed wind-penetration levels as high as 60% and found that the RTO has the potential to serve 75% of its load with wind, Operations Vice President Bruce Rew told SPP’s Variable Generation Integration Workshop on Wednesday.

But why stop there? Asked how high a penetration level SPP could handle, Casey Cathey, SPP’s manager of operations analysis and support, replied with a smile: “As high as you want.”

That’s a big change, Cathey said, recalling “we were freaking out about 20% in 2009.”

SPP set the record for wind penetration at 4:30 a.m. Feb. 12, topping out at 52.1%, with several hours also registering above 48.5%

“We’ve been studying [wind] at higher load levels than SPP’s minimum [load] at times,” Rew said. “With nukes and hydro, we could have a majority of our load being served by [non-thermal generation] using the existing system we have now.”

SPP currently has 87,635 MW of generating capacity, with gas (42%) and coal (31%) providing the great bulk of it. Wind accounts for 18% of the capacity (16,124 MW of nameplate generation), with hydro (4%) and nuclear (3%) trailing. An additional 32 GW of wind capacity is in the interconnection queue, along with more than 4 GW of solar.

Cathey said a “good” wind-capacity factor is around 30%, but SPP’s newest wind projects have factors of more than 50%.

“Maybe not all that 32 [GW] will be installed, but we know we’ll have more than 16” GW, he said.
.

The difference in yearly reports from these guys is amazing. Can’t wait to hear what they say a year or two from now.

Rex Berglund's picture
Rex Berglund on March 3, 2017

EP, at 140m hub height there’s ~2M square kilometers of 60% CF wind, 2 of the 3 studies have 35% and 38% wind.

The only nuclear design with a near term chance for deployment in the US is the NuScale SMR, at 50MW each, they’re a good candidate for zero carbon balancing, but 80% nuclear would be thousands of units, where would they go?

Helmut Frik's picture
Helmut Frik on March 3, 2017

While towers for 160m Hub height are of the shelf products: https://www.max-boegl.de/downloads/174-hybridturm-fuer-windkraftanlagen/...
Which can be built without the heavy and space eating all terrain cranes, and need just two weeks to be errected (the complete wind tower, not the crane).
The tower crane also fits on usual trucks and the segments can be built smaller to fit on usual trucks, too, for places where heavy equipment has no access.
With 60% CF in the great plains and a average (worldwide) of 75% for nuclear, or 90% in optimum cases, with the need for fuel and more employees for the nuclear reactor, and given that generator + turbine are in the same ballpark for steam and wind today, the nuclear part+underground building for the nuscales system would have to cost the same or less that the serial produced wind power tower to be competitve.
I don’t see any possibility that this will happen, the material costs are already too high.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on March 3, 2017

Joe, 75% is old news, too. They’re both old news, because they engage in the same “the-wind-blew-really-hard-for-a-moment-everyone-fire-up-the-presses” nonsense which has been going on for half a century.

You purposely-forgot to include the part about those peaks occurring in the Southwest Power Pool 7 times in the last 14 months. And, of course, by abandoning these fantasies and aggressively building out nuclear, we could have 100% of our load served by non-thermal generation by mid-century. That’s achievable with “renewable” energy only in the wildest, most delusional, non-peer-reviewed, nuclearphobic, fossil-fuel-funded wet dreams of its benefactors.

The difference in yearly reports from these guys is amazing. Can’t wait to hear what they say a year or two from now.

The only difference is in the made-up number, Joe. At the very least, you could find some new ways to embarrass yourself.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on March 3, 2017

Donald, the alt-fact is that wind-solar have even the remotest possibility of providing the United States with a reliable supply of electricity. Germany failed – let’s learn from their costly ill-advised mistake, made in fear.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on March 3, 2017

Donald, after fifty years and tens of $billions in investment, wind and solar are responsible for an intermittent 8% of U.S. electricity.

They are 100% reliant on fossil fuels to back them up.

If you consider that a “significant impact”, you are either delusional or clueless to the imperative of climate change. Who’s the fossil apologist?

Mark Heslep's picture
Mark Heslep on March 3, 2017

Largest single year increase in US generation, nuclear, wind:
Nuclear 72 TWh (’87-’88)
Wind 36 TWh (’15-’16)

http://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/annual/showtext.php?t=ptb0902
http://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly/epm_table_grapher.cfm?t=epmt_1_14_b

Mark Heslep's picture
Mark Heslep on March 3, 2017

Largest single year increase in US generation, nuclear, wind:
Nuclear 72 TWh (’87-’88)
Wind 36 TWh (’15-’16)

Source: EIA, links blocked

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on March 3, 2017

Bob,
You can see the last two hours of generation fuel mix for SPP here

Interesting – it looks like a 2 hour “moment.”

Next year the %s will be in the 50s. Less coal, less CO2.

Engineer- Poet's picture
Engineer- Poet on March 3, 2017

at 140m hub height there’s ~2M square kilometers of 60% CF wind, 2 of the 3 studies have 35% and 38% wind.

Wunderbar, that gets you to the 30% wind scenario… for the area within that zone.  (Most of which is probably in the Texas-Dakota corridor.)

That leaves only 70% fossil+hydro, assuming you have any hydro.  That compares to 78% nuclear in France without hardly trying, and hydro for much of the rest.

The only nuclear design with a near term chance for deployment in the US is the NuScale SMR

4 AP1000s still under construction here, another 4 in China.  The immediate problems are common to FOAK and FOAG (first of a generation) projects, and if Toshiba can be persauded to sell Westinghouse and the design to a big construction company the next 4 would go a lot faster and be built cheaper.  Reducing the NRC regulatory burden by 90% would help a lot more, and if it’s politically possible ever this is the time for it.

at 50MW each, they’re a good candidate for zero carbon balancing, but 80% nuclear would be thousands of units, where would they go?

You have to ask?  Everywhere.  There’s a city near me that could be entirely lit AND heated by a single NuScale, and hundreds more like it.  Manhattan’s steam system could be fed by a few tens of them.

Imagine entire cities with NO fossil fuel being burned.  Not to generate electricity, not to heat air or water, not to drive vehicles.  Everything would be emissions-free electricity, steam or hot water.

The problem with this scenario isn’t the technology, it’s the NRC.  A NuScale sits in a deep pool of water in a concrete cell.  It cannot release radiation beyond that cell.  Requiring a 5-mile emergency planning boundary with a full-time NRC inspector for each one is insane when the unit could and should run unattended just like natgas turbines.

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on March 3, 2017

Interesting – just took another look at the current SPP fuel mix eight hours later and the average for the last 2 hours (5 min intervals) is at 43.9% wind vs 44.0% that I saw during earlier two hour interval.

The wind seems to be blowing hard for a really long “moment”. Maybe like 8 hours at ~44.0%. Maybe more than 8 hours?

Wonder what the record is for wind for a day? I’m gonna guess that it is at least 38%. A “24-hour moment” @ 38% for entire SPP region.

What do ya think Bob?

Rex Berglund's picture
Rex Berglund on March 4, 2017

Interesting, I posted this earlier and it seems to have gone missing, take 2:

that leaves only 70% fossil+hydro, assuming you have any hydro.

RE Futures had a total of 88% between onshore and offshore wind, solar PV and solar CSP w/storage, hydro, biomass, geothermal and nuclear.

That compares to 78% nuclear in France without hardly trying, and hydro for much of the rest.

You couldn’t use that design today in the US, and you couldn’t get a national commitment to do it anyway.

4 AP1000s still under construction here,

The AP1000s were supposed to be complete by now, less than half done, and that was the easy part of the construction schedule.

if Toshiba can be persuaded to sell Westinghouse

Toshiba’s been driven to the verge of bankruptcy, they would love to sell Westinghouse but there are no takers, they’re selling their memory chip business to make ends meet. Given the state of things now, it’s going to be a tough sell starting another one here.

I think the NuScale SMR has a chance at success, especially with all the potential sites along the long distance transmission we’ll need. At the moment, there’s not much call for new nuclear, but recently an area of northwest Canadian permafrost the size of Alabama began melting. As things worsen, we may develop more tolerance for an SMR that can balance renewables.

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on March 5, 2017

Bob,
Sorry I was wrong about that daily wind energy record in SPP.

As per usual I underestimated. A lot of new wind has recently come online in SPP area. A lot.

I found that you can download generation breakout at 5 minute intervals YTD for SPP –here.

After adjusting for GMT you can easily get the average wind penetration for a day. Below are the results for last two windy days.

Bob – you said:

They’re both old news, because they engage in the same “the-wind-blew-really-hard-for-a-moment-everyone-fire-up-the-presses” nonsense which has been going on for half a century.

So is this a “48hour moment”?

Engineer- Poet's picture
Engineer- Poet on March 6, 2017

I count 8 separate sources you named, only one of which has potential to supply anything other than electricity (geothermal can also produce space heat and DHW):

RE Futures had a total of 88% between onshore and offshore wind, solar PV and solar CSP w/storage, hydro, biomass, geothermal and nuclear.

You do not give proportions, hyperlink your source or even give their full name.  This qualifies as hand-waving.  Wait, no; it qualifies as BS.

You couldn’t use that design today in the US

Whoop-de-freaking-do.  The AP1000 is probably simpler and ought to be cheaper in bulk.

you couldn’t get a national commitment to do it anyway.

At least 90% of the regulatory burden of nuclear is unwarranted, serving no purpose except protecting its competition.  Remove that and all its expenses and delays, and modern plants will suddenly be popular.  This would go double for plants which require no emergency planning beyond the site boundary, allowing them to be installed inside cities to provide heat directly.

Current average US electric demand, plus an increment for a growing EV fleet, comes to around 475 GW.  Know how many NuScales it would take to supply that?  10,000 of them, at ~700 tons per reactor/containment pair.  Do you know how fast steel was turned into Liberty Ships alone during WWII?  Over 10,000 tons PER DAY for the peak year.  If you turned the same amount of steel into NuScales, you’d make about 14 (665 MW(e) worth) every day.  The 10,000 number would be made in just 700 days.

Obviously we wouldn’t do that.  We’d take at least 15 years to build out the fleet.  It would take a similar amount of time to install the steam distribution networks to replace natural gas for space heat and DHW.  But given the history of New York, once they were done they’d be good for most of a century.  This would be the king of all infrastructure projects.

The AP1000s were supposed to be complete by now

All 4 AP1000s in China are expected to be operating by the end of 2017.  The delays in the US units are due in no small part to Gregory Jaczko’s unlawful imposition of the new aircraft impact rule on plants already given COLs, forcing delays and redesigns.

less than half done

Vogtle unit 3 is scheduled for completion in 2019, less than 3 years away.  Construction started in 2011, all major in-containment modules have been placed and the containment and shield building are substantially complete.  That’s a lot more than halfway.

Toshiba’s been driven to the verge of bankruptcy, they would love to sell Westinghouse but there are no takers

Sounds like a good time to make them a tempting offer backed by the US government and run by a major construction firm like Bechtel (Fluor is already busy with the NuScale).  The US invented that stuff (and MSRs and LMFBRs too) and that tech ought to come home.  It would be a good part of MAGA.

As things worsen, we may develop more tolerance for an SMR that can balance renewables.

If you need 100% of capacity as the SMR anyway, there is no point in buying the renewables.

Sooner or later somebody is going to look at domestic supplies of rare earth ores and wonder why we are throwing away the thorium co-product as waste when it’s a great “breedable poison” for LEU.  At that point the supply of LWR fuel is multiplied by about 600 (U is about 0.5% utilized as LEU in LWRs, while Th is 100% usable in principle as demonstrated in the LWBE and is 3x as abundant as U).

Rex Berglund's picture
Rex Berglund on March 6, 2017

I thought RE Futures easily accessible, nonetheless here you go: [http://www.nrel.gov/analysis/re_futures/]

IIRC, the breakdown is 38% wind, 7.5% PV, 7.5% CSP, 12% hydro, 12% biomass(of which 75% is various waste so that could be torrefied if you like) 3% geothermal, 8% nuclear.

As for the rest, though what you say is technically possible, politically it seems highly unlikely. This is not my fault, so don’t blame the messenger.

If history is a guide, there will be no reduction of regulatory burden, instead regulatory ratcheting will likely continue.

Nuclear driven CHP, no. People don’t want heated air piped into their homes from an NPP, even Indian Point is too close for NY city. However, retrofitting with heat pumps would be a much easier sell.

As for the AP1000s, a bill has been introduced in the US legislature removing the 2021 deadline for eligibility for the PTC, clearly looks bad for the schedule. Thanks to Mr. Wamsted for pointing out the technique called “pinning” for maintaining schedules.

http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/297102-panel-votes-to-exten...

100% backup SMRs, no, increasinging the 8% to 20% NuScale SMRs would completely decarbonize the RE Futures plan.

Engineer- Poet's picture
Engineer- Poet on March 6, 2017

Bah, included 2 direct links and triggered the auto-censor. REPOST!

I thought RE Futures easily accessible, nonetheless here you go: [http://www.nrel.gov/analysis/re_futures/]

Oh.  NREL.  Their charter is the mindless promotion of a few specifically-defined “renewables”, not actually dealing with the world’s or even our country’s energy and related problems.

I trust NREL exactly as far as I can throw the entire organization.  Its claims of simple, effortless change to a “renewable economy” have failed everywhere they’ve been tried; both Germany and Denmark burn coal and have no specific plans to stop, EVER.  They say they will but they have no construction plans for the means to replace it.  This is vapor even by vaporware standards.

IIRC, the breakdown is 38% wind, 7.5% PV, 7.5% CSP, 12% hydro, 12% biomass(of which 75% is various waste so that could be torrefied if you like) 3% geothermal, 8% nuclear.

Those two numbers should have had your BS detector screaming at you.

For the last full year on record (2015), hydro generated 249,080 TWh out of 4,077,601 total, or a whole 6.1%.  Nuclear generated about 19%.  Of the sources and quantities you list, only 42.5% have anything resembling energy storage, and the 8% nuclear is supposed to run as base-load.  This leaves 65.5% of total energy coming from un-buffered and un-dispatchable sources.

Then there’s the detail that NREL projects a major role for CAES [http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy12osti/52409-1.pdf#page=240], which has gone exactly nowhere in the last couple of decades.

If history is a guide, there will be no reduction of regulatory burden, instead regulatory ratcheting will likely continue.

SARI has a petition in for the Trump administration to update radiation protection standards in accord with the best scientific knowledge available.  That would force a rollback of lots of regulations which are already baseless in fact.

People don’t want heated air piped into their homes from an NPP, even Indian Point is too close for NY city.

Nuclear waste heat costs about $0.03 per therm, compared to $1.83 per therm for heat from a top-quality heat pump achieving 4:1 CoP on $0.25/kWh NYC electricity.  Today’s printed-circuit heat exchangers can provide 3 levels of isolation between nuclear fuel and anything delivered to the household (the baseboard heaters provide a 4th).  It’s really no contest.  Once nuclear waste heat is available, people are going to start using it and then forget they ever worried.

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on March 6, 2017

Yeah… but how did March 5th do?

New all-time record – 46.1% of total generation for the day came from wind.

So we are up to a “72 hour moment”.

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on March 7, 2017

Germany’s grid has superior reliability compared to that of USA (>10times better according to recent IEEE study). It’s reliability increased substantially in the second half of last decade when wind & solar took steam!

So their Energiewende goes on adding ~6GW/year new wind+solar to their on av. 70GW grid

Rex Berglund's picture
Rex Berglund on March 7, 2017

repost

I know right? idk what that policy’s about.

screaming

I’m getting a sense of Deja Vu all over again; RE Futures used GridView in conjunction w/ a historical weather database to validate their scenarios. Besides, we’re only 5 years into a 38 year plan, a lot can happen in the next 3 decades and so far things are going well.

CAES … nowhere

The ChokeCherry-Sierra Madre wind farm in Wyoming will deliver power via the TransWest line to the Southwest, but the line will detour into northwest Utah to caverns for compressed air storage. Besides, there’s a lot of work in progress on storage, ORNL has GLIDES which seems quite promising – there’s a lot of work ongoing.

SARI

With regard to the validity of the LNT model, consider the following. In a presentation summary from the BEIR VIII planning meeting pg 14:

Question: Are there data posing a significant challenge to BEIR VII conclusions?
Answer : No.

http://dels.nas.edu/resources/static-assets/nrsb/miscellaneous/BEIRBouff...

waste heat costs

Again, I think you’re offering a technical solution to a political problem; folks don’t want it. On the other hand, you can enhance heat pumps to ground source heat pumps, and they can also be used to heat water. Then, you can use DR so that you can heat water when it’s cheapest.

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on March 7, 2017

It looks like this will be the last comment on this as current wind has dropped back into the 20s.

However for yesterday – Mar 6th – wind averaged 44.7% of total generation.

So we had a 96-hour “moment”.

Engineer- Poet's picture
Engineer- Poet on March 7, 2017

Honestly, I don’t know why you bother with this when you FAIL SO HARD.

Question: Are there data posing a significant challenge to BEIR VII conclusions?
Answer : No.

[http://dels.nas.edu/resources/static-assets/nrsb/miscellaneous/BEIRBouff...

And guess what?  They’re full of crap; biological tests in ultra-low radiation environments prove that they are STRESSFUL to normal organisms and cell cultures.

But what would you expect from people who only do studies at very high prompt exposures (1+ Gy) and short followups?  That’s exactly the sort of fraud Herman Muller practiced.  “Effects may be limited to short times post exposure” should have told you something.

I think you’re offering a technical solution to a political problem; folks don’t want it.

“Four-season outdoor hot tubs”.  If one required a therm of heat per day, that would be a dollar a month at $0.03/therm.  EVERYONE would want one.

you can enhance heat pumps to ground source heat pumps, and they can also be used to heat water. Then, you can use DR so that you can heat water when it’s cheapest.

You’re not going to overcome a 25:1 ratio of energy cost with a 1.5:1 advantage in efficiency.  Just give it up, you’ve failed.

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on March 8, 2017

EP,
Flies and bacteria are interesting, but the real issue concerns the effects of small radiation increases on people.

Regarding humans it has been shown by several studies that increases of 10% in background radiation already cause significant negative health effects on newborn (~10% more Down Syndrome, abnormal limbs, neural tube defects, perinatal deaths, etc).

Furthermore that even difficult to measure increases of low level radiation (as spread by NPP’s) cause already significant increased levels of genetic harm in newborn.

Which has of course negative health effects as shown by several studies. Though the significance levels of each of those studies is not very high (not enough people living around NPP’s) it is significant that those health damaging effects were found around NPP’s in several countries such as Germany, France, USA.

It’s just about how important you find it, that your children and grand- grand-children will be healthy and smart.

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on March 8, 2017

Bob,
10 years ago pro-nuclear folks still stated that wind & solar, the ‘unreliable’, would never have a real impact.
Compare with the present situation and try to figure out the situation 10years in the future, when wind & solar penetration levels in USA may be ~30%.
Though then still way behind present Denmark where wind alone produces >40%.

Rex Berglund's picture
Rex Berglund on March 8, 2017

The National Academies typically review a great deal of peer reviewed literature to form their conclusions, if and when BEIR VIII is published I’m sure they’ll review the study you mentioned as well.

So, I hope you’re right but I think you’re wrong, if BEIR VIII changed the BEIR VII conclusion on LNT that would indeed be a significant change.

Engineer- Poet's picture
Engineer- Poet on March 8, 2017

Ten years ago, Bas, we thought Greens were actually serious about trying to halt climate change, ocean acidification, and all the other devastating consequences of fossil-fuel combustion.

Turns out you were just fronts for the fossil companies, and your only goal was “All Nuclear Out”.  Nuclear that has killed precisely no one, compared to the air-pollution toll of your lignite and the ecological devastation of your “renewable” biomass.

Compare with the present situation and try to figure out the situation 10years in the future, when wind & solar penetration levels in USA may be ~30%.

Though then still way behind present Denmark where wind alone produces >40%.

With the assistance of Norwegian and Swedish hydro as the “battery”… oh, and let us not forget plenty of coal in its CHP plants.

You’re so good at spewing half-truths, Bas, that I wonder if you’d even recognize a whole one.

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on March 8, 2017

Bas,
Actually according to this – Denmark wind fell in 2016 to 37.6% from 42% in 2015.

If you are looking for a competition that makes more sense you might compare Denmark with 5.7M people to the US states of Oklahoma and Kansas- which together have 6.8M people.

In 2016 – these two states generated 27% of their electricity from wind. This is up from 21% in 2015.

Let’s see how they do vs Denmark over the next few years.

Note: Iowa a smaller state(3M) also generated 37% of its electricity from wind in 2016.

Pages

Get Published - Build a Following

The Energy Central Power Industry Network is based on one core idea - power industry professionals helping each other and advancing the industry by sharing and learning from each other.

If you have an experience or insight to share or have learned something from a conference or seminar, your peers and colleagues on Energy Central want to hear about it. It's also easy to share a link to an article you've liked or an industry resource that you think would be helpful.

                 Learn more about posting on Energy Central »