Solar Realities and the Electric Company

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Rob Lister
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Re: Solar Realities and the Electric Company

Post by Rob Lister »

Anaxagoras wrote:
Rob Lister wrote:An addendum to the above, I did not touch of the largest hidden cost: the utilities have to keep warm iron. They can't shut down the boilers just because a lot of folk are reverse-metering their excess solar between 11 and 4. True, during that period they may use less coal but much of what they save during that period is wasted during the inefficient transition back to hot iron. Add to that: most of their costs are in distribution, not production. Those costs are not lessened because Joe Blow has a solar setup. They are actually increased.
Suppose it is nuclear? Instead of coal.

Basically, it's a large kettle of boiling water, right? You can't let the water cool down, so you have to keep heating it.
That is exactly the issue. It is worse with nuclear because most [existing] designs are base load: they operate at one level all the time (or sometimes a narrow range) regardless of the load. On the other hand, their fuel is cheap enough such that wasting it to make environmentalists and hobbyists feel better doesn't much impact them.
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Re: Solar Realities and the Electric Company

Post by Bearguin »

Where solar can make a big difference is in supplying at peak times. When the sun is shining corresponds pretty close to when the AC is running. So, with enough solar panels, you don't have to build a nuke or coal plant to power the peaks. It is one of the advantages of solar over wind or tide.

But these things are no where close to being the main power supplier and never will be without better energy storage.
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Rob Lister
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Re: Solar Realities and the Electric Company

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Bearguin wrote:So, with enough solar panels, you don't have to build a nuke or coal plant to power the peaks.
If only, only that were true. It is not. What do we do during peak if the sun isn't shining? The wind isn't blowing?

You must have the entire load covered by consistent and reliable means.

So, you have to build the infrastructure to accommodate total load. Once you sink that cost, the economics of solar (and wind) fall apart. It's been a while since I looked, but energy production from coal is less than 2 cents a kwh. What you pay is the delivered cost: distribution and amortization make up the vast majority of your bill. Solar can't touch that. Never, ever will. Wind is a freaking joke.
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Re: Solar Realities and the Electric Company

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Rob Lister wrote:
Bearguin wrote:So, with enough solar panels, you don't have to build a nuke or coal plant to power the peaks.
If only, only that were true. It is not. What do we do during peak if the sun isn't shining? The wind isn't blowing?

You must have the entire load covered by consistent and reliable means.

So, you have to build the infrastructure to accommodate total load. Once you sink that cost, the economics of solar (and wind) fall apart. It's been a while since I looked, but energy production from coal is less than 2 cents a kwh. What you pay is the delivered cost: distribution and amortization make up the vast majority of your bill. Solar can't touch that. Never, ever will. Wind is a freaking joke.
Coal plants, nuclear plants, and all sorts of other plants have downtime for maintenance and parts-replacement.
The power grid has been a freaking joke since before Edison.
Current costs-per-kwh all involve externalizations of costs, so what if solar and wind are accounted by the same method?
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Re: Solar Realities and the Electric Company

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DrMatt wrote:
Rob Lister wrote:
Bearguin wrote:So, with enough solar panels, you don't have to build a nuke or coal plant to power the peaks.
If only, only that were true. It is not. What do we do during peak if the sun isn't shining? The wind isn't blowing?

You must have the entire load covered by consistent and reliable means.

So, you have to build the infrastructure to accommodate total load. Once you sink that cost, the economics of solar (and wind) fall apart. It's been a while since I looked, but energy production from coal is less than 2 cents a kwh. What you pay is the delivered cost: distribution and amortization make up the vast majority of your bill. Solar can't touch that. Never, ever will. Wind is a freaking joke.
Coal plants, nuclear plants, and all sorts of other plants have downtime for maintenance and parts-replacement.
The power grid has been a freaking joke since before Edison.
Current costs-per-kwh all involve externalizations of costs, so what if solar and wind are accounted by the same method?
That may be the dumbest post I've ever read of yours, including your puns.

CH
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And you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it's sinking
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Rob Lister
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Re: Solar Realities and the Electric Company

Post by Rob Lister »

Cool Hand wrote:
DrMatt wrote:
Rob Lister wrote:
Bearguin wrote:So, with enough solar panels, you don't have to build a nuke or coal plant to power the peaks.
If only, only that were true. It is not. What do we do during peak if the sun isn't shining? The wind isn't blowing?

You must have the entire load covered by consistent and reliable means.

So, you have to build the infrastructure to accommodate total load. Once you sink that cost, the economics of solar (and wind) fall apart. It's been a while since I looked, but energy production from coal is less than 2 cents a kwh. What you pay is the delivered cost: distribution and amortization make up the vast majority of your bill. Solar can't touch that. Never, ever will. Wind is a freaking joke.
Coal plants, nuclear plants, and all sorts of other plants have downtime for maintenance and parts-replacement.
The power grid has been a freaking joke since before Edison.
Current costs-per-kwh all involve externalizations of costs, so what if solar and wind are accounted by the same method?
That may be the dumbest post I've ever read of yours, including your puns.

CH
I was just going to let it go.

You are trolling, right Matt?

If you're serious, I'll explain the difficulty of scheduling rainy days the way you do boiler maintenance. I just don't think you're serious.
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Re: Solar Realities and the Electric Company

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We just need more fuel cells.

























Yes, I was trolling. :bricks:
Such potential!
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Re: Solar Realities and the Electric Company

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Tried to explain to an environmentalist hippy why fuel cells aren't going to save the planet.....

Fuel cells are not an energy source. They're like a battery. And just like any battery, the energy it takes to charge it up is way more than the energy you get out. Now where do you suppose the energy for charging it up comes from?

Environmentalist hippy: Solar energy, wind, hydroelectric, other fuel cells.

:bang_head:

This is why you don't find any environmentalist hippies in any engineering departments.
Such potential!
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Re: Solar Realities and the Electric Company

Post by Rob Lister »

Bruce wrote:Environmentalist hippy: Solar energy, wind, hydroelectric, other fuel cells.
1) Hydroelectric is not a hippie choice.
2) Hydroelectric actually works very well.
3) That's why 1)
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Re: Solar Realities and the Electric Company

Post by Bruce »

Rob Lister wrote:
Bruce wrote:Environmentalist hippy: Solar energy, wind, hydroelectric, other fuel cells.
1) Hydroelectric is not a hippie choice.
2) Hydroelectric actually works very well.
3) That's why 1)
Oops, you're right.

Plus, hydroelectric annoys the fishies by interfering with their fishy love making. :D
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Re: Solar Realities and the Electric Company

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Rob Lister wrote:
Bearguin wrote:So, with enough solar panels, you don't have to build a nuke or coal plant to power the peaks.
If only, only that were true. It is not. What do we do during peak if the sun isn't shining?
You read what I wrote and realize if the sun isn't shining, people are not running the AC, the load is that much less and you don't need to accommodate the peak. That was my entire point. The generation from the panels closely corresponds to the increased demand and makes a difference at peak times. It is the one place/time when these things actually help. Wind/tide etc. don't

Solar will never replace normal generating options, but can be used to supplement.
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Re: Solar Realities and the Electric Company

Post by Bearguin »

Bruce wrote:
Rob Lister wrote:
Bruce wrote:Environmentalist hippy: Solar energy, wind, hydroelectric, other fuel cells.
1) Hydroelectric is not a hippie choice.
2) Hydroelectric actually works very well.
3) That's why 1)
Oops, you're right.

Plus, hydroelectric annoys the fishies by interfering with their fishy love making. :D
To get Hydro you need to flood vast areas or obstruct fast moving water flows. Neither are particularly nice to existing fish stocks. Salmon in particular have issues with dams. Now you can stock the resulting lake with different species of fish and create a nice fishery, but they do tend to disrupt existing stocks that have evolved for the existing system.

That's why it's not the hippie choice. Hear complaints about it all the time here in BC where most of our power is Hydro.
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Re: Solar Realities and the Electric Company

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Bearguin wrote:
Rob Lister wrote:
Bearguin wrote:So, with enough solar panels, you don't have to build a nuke or coal plant to power the peaks.
If only, only that were true. It is not. What do we do during peak if the sun isn't shining?
You read what I wrote and realize if the sun isn't shining, people are not running the AC, the load is that much less and you don't need to accommodate the peak. That was my entire point. The generation from the panels closely corresponds to the increased demand and makes a difference at peak times. It is the one place/time when these things actually help. Wind/tide etc. don't

Solar will never replace normal generating options, but can be used to supplement.
Obviously, you silly Canuck, you do not live in the Deep South and have never set foot there in the summer months. :nutkick:

It is not unknown to have the air temperature be 95+ F on even a cloudy day in July or August. No A/C when it's cloudy?

CH
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And you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it's sinking
Racing around to come up behind you again
The sun is the same in a relative way, but you're older
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death.

"Time" -- Pink Floyd
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Re: Solar Realities and the Electric Company

Post by Rob Lister »

Let's look at a utility.

But first, for the silly northern Canuck, this southern reality
Image
Do you notice our reality?

:lol:


Okay, back to topic.

This is a small coal fired plant in south-eastern Virginia. It is part of the Dominion Electric group.

Image

Why did I annotate it such?

That's a lot of capacity for 35k homes. Applying the math for a single boiler gives you 2000 watts per household. The average household consumption 365/24 is ~1500watts (940kwh/mo most sources)

Let's take a look at their plant capacity factor, the ratio of their nameplate capacity and what they actually provide.

Image

The lesson here is that average isn't peak. When all those AC's kicks in at noon, somebody's got some 'splaing to do if the capacity isn't there.

They do not build them for average, they build them for peak.

But what happens if there is a problem?

Let's easedrop on a likely chat between Ralph, the manager at Mechlenburg and Joe, the Syscon at Dominion power.
...
Ralph: Yea Joe. B2 has a feed issue. Fred M. said about 4 hours to fix.
Joe: Just a sec.
Ralph: Joe, you there?
Joe: yea, go.
Ralph: We can wait till midnight but we'll have to call in techs. You want to wait?
Joe: No. We'll do it today. No OT budget for you, hick.
Ralph: lol
Joe: We'll cover your peak from the Mesa Lane Solar plant feed.
Ralph: Seriously!?
Joe: Just kidding. lol. We'll feed from Stoney Creek Wind farm.
Ralph: Stop it!
Joe: Kidding. Okay, we'll warm up a spare boiler at Gravel Neck.
Ralph: Don't kid like that. I almost died. Okay, Gravel Neck. That's Bill Lark, right? When?
Joe: Okay, it's scheduled. Yes. Bill. Wait for the feed, about 2 hours. Let us know when you're done.
Ralph: tnx.
Later, maybe we'll take a look at Mesa Lane Solar and Stoney Brook Wind and better understand the little joke Joe played on Ralph.
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Re: Solar Realities and the Electric Company

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Bruce wrote:Tried to explain to an environmentalist hippy why fuel cells aren't going to save the planet.....

Fuel cells are not an energy source. They're like a battery. And just like any battery, the energy it takes to charge it up is way more than the energy you get out.
They are completely unlike a battery. They use fuel to create electricity. Always have. They contain no fuel, nor store energy.

Ones that run on natural gas are fucking awesome.
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Re: Solar Realities and the Electric Company

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robinson wrote:
Bruce wrote:Tried to explain to an environmentalist hippy why fuel cells aren't going to save the planet.....

Fuel cells are not an energy source. They're like a battery. And just like any battery, the energy it takes to charge it up is way more than the energy you get out.
They are completely unlike a battery. They use fuel to create electricity. Always have. They contain no fuel, nor store energy.

Ones that run on natural gas are fucking awesome.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloom_Energy_Server
Hippies wouldn't agree. Nat gas may require fracking!!!! 11eleventy1111

And what is the CO2 emmision situation? :( :D :x :P :nutkick:
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Rob Lister
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Re: Solar Realities and the Electric Company

Post by Rob Lister »

Mesa Lane Solar

Image

Good luck googling them. They don't seem to exist in the real (internet) world except as an LLC out of Delaware. Let's look at their assets.

Image
https://maps.google.com/maps?oe=utf-8&c ... CCsQ8gEwAA

By eye, it appears to be about 3 acres of solar panels all facing south. Very appropriate.

So 13% of nameplate capacity. Not terrible for solar. If the sun is shining they can sell their product. They operate "Behind the Meter" as a Tier I consumer-provider. I don't know what relationship they have with the utilities because I won't read the contract.

13% of 3mw is 390kw. While 390kw is easily sneezed at, they're probably providing ~ .9 on a sunny day at 2pm in the summer. Pretty close to the 3mw nameplate.

That's not nearly enough for Ralph, our imaginary plant manager. Our imaginary Joe knows that, thus the imaginary lol.

But even if it was, it doesn't help Ralph because Ralph operates several hours in the future. He doesn't know if the sun is going to cooperate and if it doesn't, Joe doesn't have time to fire up a boiler.

Moral: The boiler has to be fired up anyway. It has to be hot, not warm or cold. It must be spinning the turbines. Mesa Lane is inconsequential.

Later, maybe, If you're nice, we'll look at the ridiculum absurduality that is Stoney Brook Wind.
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Re: Solar Realities and the Electric Company

Post by Bearguin »

Cool Hand wrote: Obviously, you silly Canuck, you do not live in the Deep South and have never set foot there in the summer months. :nutkick:

It is not unknown to have the air temperature be 95+ F on even a cloudy day in July or August. No A/C when it's cloudy?

CH
Not the same demand when it is cloudy (really, it isn't) and the panels don't completely shut off because of clouds. Especially thin film.

But, again, we are talking about 2 different things. In the South, if normal demand is for the running of AC units, then that is normal demand. I get that you have to run them and so the main power generator is built for it. But in Ontario (for example), the panels are meeting the peak and (in theory) alleviating the need for a bigger nuke, or more coal.

Now Ontario is a wonderful example of how a government gets on the green bandwagon and completely fucks thing up. They are way overpaying for power generated by solar, have built huge wind parks that don't meet the needs and have made the requirements for the tariff program son onerous that few are participating (maybe that is a good thing). Instead of buying panels on the open market at the current market price, potential suppliers have to build the panels in the province (to replace employment lost in the auto industry) resulting in higher costs that have to be paid by the consumers (taxpayers) in the end.

Anyway, we are in general agreement. I just see a bit more utility for solar than you and Lister do.
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Re: Solar Realities and the Electric Company

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CH apparently has never owned an automobile, and imagines that fuel-based systems are only down at scheduled maintenance times.
RL covers his eyes every time AA explains how train engines handle variable loads.
Come on, folks, these are just engineering problems, they're not political problems.
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Re: Solar Realities and the Electric Company

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DrMatt wrote: Come on, folks, these are just engineering problems, they're not political problems.
Bullshit. How far is your head up your ass to not get that power is a major political issue and the solutions are more about the politics than the engineering.

Really, sometimes it astounds me what fucking world you live in. It sure as hell isn't the real one.