Thursday, July 19, 2012

Run US into the Sky

We're installing more PV than ever and it takes more people than ever to install the PV. PV is growing like gang busters but many seem stuck on the busts. It's like that scene at the end of Moneyball where the guy hits the home run 50 feet over the wall but embarrasses himself because all he can think about is second base.

Both sides of the political aisle are clueless on this one. Wake up Republicans. Wake up Democrats. The failure of Abound,  Solyndra, Q-cells, Solon et al. are small fry issues in the big scheme of things. The world will install another 30 to 40 GW of PV in 2012 - that's progress. Focus on the way forward.

Dear Government,

Please be leaders and stop running the country into the ground with verbose donothingness. Run US into the sky.

Reloading Solar

Here's a load graph of California under standard conditions.

Here's a hypothetical load graph of California with 6 GW of solar in the grid.

Here's a hypothetical load graph of California with 12 GW of solar in the grid.


Here's a hypothetical load graph of California with 18 GW of solar in the grid.

Here's a hypothetical load graph of California with 24 GW of solar in the grid.

Here's a hypothetical load graph of California with 30 GW of solar in the grid.

This is how I imagine load shifting. Can you see it?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Lust for Life

I'm a fan of Iggy. Loved him in Dead Man. It's clear to me Anthony Kiedis has lifted many of Iggy's moves but amazingly neither the Wikipedia page for the Red Hot Chili Peppers or the Anthony Kiedis page mention Iggy. How can that be? Seriously... Really... Herhum herumph...

I've just now noticed a striking chicken fetish spun into the lyrics of Iggy and Eddie Money. Iggy wants to hypnotize them and Eddie Money wants to paralyze them...  What the fuck is going on with all the chicken experiments?

One time Eddie Money and I sat next to each other on a plane ride. True story... That was an interesting conversation. Apparently his wife has the ass of a 15 year old Vietnamese boy. Put that in your pipe and smoke it. My favorite Eddie Money quote... "Yeah, I'd read a book on coal."

Friday, July 13, 2012

100 Years Later

Operational Siemens AG 170 kW hydropower generator built
and installed in 1912
The Future Role of Fossil Power Generation

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Wicked Smart Coal

Chinese coal miners in an illustration of the 
Tiangong Kaiwu encyclopedia, published in 1637
This excerpt is quoted from:

Flexible clean coal complements intermittent renewables

Coal-fired power plants will not only become more efficient, they will also become more flexible, providing essential grid services and backup capacities for the ambitious EU renewable energy targets. Thus, "clean coal" must also be "smart coal".

Already today, the growth in intermittent electricity from wind and solar challenges the design of both electricity markets and system operations. Increasingly, fossil-fuelled power plants are losing their traditional baseload operating hours and moving into a new role of "auxiliary" power provider, with renewables having priority dispatch. This new policy, favoured by the EU and actively promoted by many of its Member States, demands that coal-fired power plants operate with unprecedented flexibility. In fact, modern coal plants are much more flexible than old gas-fired CCGT plants (10 MW/min) and almost match new gas-fired plants (38 MW/min).

Flexibility is often assumed to come from natural gas-fired power stations. In many politically inspired scenarios with rapidly growing renewables, gas-fired power is also favoured because of its lower investment costs and lower specific CO2 emissions. However, it would be a fatal mistake to underestimate both coal’s present-day contribution to grid stability and its potential to provide very high flexibility and backup capacity in the future. Even today, coal plants run at partial load, providing reserve capacity and a number of system services, competing with gas plants in the respective markets. Modern coal plants can change from full load capacity to 50 % in less than a quarter of an hour and, unlike gas-fired plants, with little efficiency penalty. Thus, a 1,000 MW plant can provide a 30 - 40 MW load change each minute, and the flexibility of coal plants continues to be improved.
Also, given the global rush for raw materials and energy commodities, modern coal power plants will be a valuable insurance in a diversified portfolio approach which carefully and consistently responds to the dynamics of markets and prices. Europe, with more and more intermittent renewables and more dependence on oil and gas imports, would be wise to base the security of its electricity system on a diversity of fuels and technologies.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

In Dependence Day

Between 2007 and 2010 the Sierra Club secretly took 26 million in donations from Chesapeake Energy CEO Aubrey McClendon to mount a Beyond Coal campaign. Implicit in this arrangement was an agreement at the highest levels of the Sierra Club that Natural Gas was better than Coal. This makes perfect sense to me considering there are essentially no mercury or particulate emissions with natural gas, a fifth the NOX, none of the SOX and half the CO2 to boot. These donations made up a significant portion of the Sierra Club's total revenues in the time period during which they occurred. Strangely, the Sierra Club made an about face in 2011 and launched a Beyond Natural Gas campaign. What kinda backstabbing, self-defeating, scorpion and the frog kinda shit is that? Why go after natural gas just as it has the price leverage to really knock coal down a notch and move political power around? The Sierra Club should take the Royal Rumble approach.

Sierra Club: After we're done with this fat fuck I'm coming after you.
Natural Gas: Right back at you buddy.
Sierra Club: Deal now...
Natural Gas: Duel later...

While I think a united front is a good idea I'm not  going to hold my breath on a Sierra Club deal. Pragmatism may temporarily exist in such an organization but there's little hope of a long term relationship between industrialists and environmentalists. That's ok though... There's a better partnership.

Natural Gas, Solar... Solar, Natural Gas

When I think about the electrical power system, hydro and natural gas immediately come to mind as widly available balancing resources that match up well with solar. These resources are CONVENTIONAL, COMPETITIVE, have POLITICAL LEVERAGE and they're GEOGRAPHICALLY DIVERSE. For the time being hydro is in hybernation which takes this resource out of the game to some degree. Natural gas on the other hand is waking up to a brand new day. I think the SEIA and the AGA should form an alliance.

The Plan

Go after Coal. Chip away at coal's market share and divy up the spoils between solar and natural gas. Design pollution regulations and system operating regulations that are coordinated and mutually beneficial.

Independence Day isn't about beating the Brits back in the day. Independence Day is about united communities living, working, fussing, fighting, fixing and celebrating together. I think the solar and natural gas communities should do some fussing and fighting and fixing together. Could be fun.

Albinos and Giants

"I know right? Fucking weird." - Gregor Mendel
Not so many years ago a man-made lake was stocked with fish. Not so many years later the original fish had evolved into three separate species specialized to operate at different depths within the lake. Lowfat/uninsulated fish at the top, medium fatty fish in the middle and fatcat well insulated fish in the depths. That's always been a cool story to me... A WOW story.. In the course of one human lifetime those fish figured that lake out. Good on you fish. It finally occured to me that these fish didn't tabula rasa evolve the genes required to specialize into different habitats - the fish had the unexpressed genes all along. The genes simply needed the new environment to encourage them.

When you see a freakishly hairy guy you can say... WOW, that guy must be Greek. On the other hand you can ponder over the idea that you have those genes too... They may not be expressed but they are probably inside you just the same waiting for an ice age to come around. Crazy eh?