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Flexible energy: the new "animal"

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Flexible energy: the new "animal"

The flourishing of renewable energy has brought a new challenge: how to deal with intermittence?

The sun and wind have grown exponentially as sources in Brazil but bring with them the need of backup power.

How much would flexible energy cost?

  • 1 MW of local generation based on gas or biodiesel requires USD 0,25 MM
  • The amortization of this investment would be around USD 4 000/month. 
  • A 1 MW solar plant produces around 120 MWh/month 
  • The amortization of the flexible generation investment corresponds to USD 30/MWh 

Moral of the story: The backup power cost is relevant. There is no free lunch!

Rafael Herzberg's picture

Thank Rafael for the Post!

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Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Aug 9, 2019 2:51 pm GMT

Rafael - again, you bring practical, real-world experience to EnergyCentral. Hopefully, readers insisting "solar is now cheaper than gas/nuclear" will take notice.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to recognize solar-plus-gas will be significantly more expensive than gas alone.

john Liebendorfer's picture
john Liebendorfer on Aug 9, 2019 4:25 pm GMT

While the authors position may be true today - the future is a very different story.  Wind, solar, batteries and energy efficiency are all rapidly droping in cost.  In fact many utilities are putting in batteries to work with base coal plants to shave daytime peaks.  More importantly the author ignors the tremendous costs of climate change - primarly  casused by fossil fuels.  There is nothing less expensive in our futures than renewables.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Aug 9, 2019 7:50 pm GMT

John, I've been hearing about this future since far into the past - that renewables would soon be "a very different story." It never materializes. FYI.

john Liebendorfer's picture
john Liebendorfer on Aug 9, 2019 9:18 pm GMT

Bob on what planet are you living?  Solar and wind are now the least expensive form of new electric generation.   granted the arguement above that electrical storage costs are not included is valid.  But battery prices are rapidly droping.  see these articles on this very website about costs    and

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Aug 9, 2019 10:50 pm GMT

"Utilities are starting to invest in big batteries instead of building new power plants..."

Here on my planet, john, batteries can't be charged with a magic wand. Would be nice, though.

john Liebendorfer's picture
john Liebendorfer on Aug 11, 2019 5:35 pm GMT

I am sorry Bob  I thought I was dealing with someone who understood the electric utility industry.  Let me explain in layman's terms you can understand.  During the day, particularly hot summer days  electric consumption goes way up - called a peak - as industry, office buildings and air conditioning consume power.  At night when factories and officies are closed and people in there homes are asleep there is very little electric use.  I think you can see where I am going with this.  Utilites can then run lower cost power plants to charge batteries that can then be used the next afternoon.    Does that help.


Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Aug 11, 2019 9:41 pm GMT

"Utilites ;can then run lower cost power plants to charge batteries that ccan then be used the next afternoon.    Does that help."

john, for some reason I thought the batteries were charged by solar panels - but because solar panels are useless at night, how could they? Looks like solar panels could be free, but still wouldn't be useful for providing added clean power during peak consumption! Thanks for your explanation.

john Liebendorfer's picture
john Liebendorfer on Aug 12, 2019 4:03 pm GMT

The point is batteries are already cost effective and being used to load shift.  Today they are being charged by low cost power at night to meet daytime peaks.  Going forward they will be charged by excess production of solar and wind to meet demands when needed.  The economics are are already here.  See this link  about recent PV bid in Los Angeles

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