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Can renewables provide baseload power?

What the science says...

Select a level... Intermediate Advanced

Although renewable energy does not necessarily need to provide baseload power in the short-term, there are several ways in which it can do so. For example, geothermal energy is available at all times, concentrated solar thermal energy has storage capability, and wind energy can be stored in compressed air.

Climate Myth...

Renewables can't provide baseload power

Does Renewable Energy Need to Provide Baseload Power?

A common myth is that because some types of renewable energy do not provide baseload power, they require an equivalent amount of backup power provided by fossil fuel plants.  However, this is simply untrue.  As wind production fluctuates, it can be supplemented if necessary by a form of baseload power which can start up or whose output can be changed in a relatively short period of time.  Hydroelectric and natural gas plants are common choices for this type of reserve power (AWEA 2008). Although a fossil fuel, combustion of natural gas emits only 45% as much carbon dioxide as combustion of coal, and hydroelectric is of course a very low-carbon energy source.

The current energy production structure consists primarily of coal and nuclear energy providing baseload power, while natural gas and hydroelectric power generally provide the variable reserves to meet peak demand. Coal is cheap, dirty, and the plant output cannot be varied easily.  It also has high initial investment cost and a long return on investment time.  Hydroelectric power is also cheap, clean, and good for both baseload and meeting peak demand, but limited by available natural sources.  Natural gas is less dirty than coal, more expensive and used for peak demand.  Nuclear power is a low-carbon power source, but with an extremely high investment cost and long return on investment time.

Renewable energy can be used to replace some higher-carbon sources of energy in the power grid and achieve a reduction in total greenhouse gas emissions from power generation, even if not used to provide baseload power.  Intermittent renewables can provide 10-20% of our electricity, with hydroelectric and other baseload renewable sources (see below) on top of that. Even if the rapid growth in wind and other intermittent renewable sources continues, it will be over a decade before storage of the intermittent sources becomes a necessity.

Renewable Baseload Energy Sources

Of course in an ideal world, renewable sources would meet all of our energy needs.  And there are several means by which renewable energy can indeed provide baseload power. 

Concentrated Solar Thermal

One of the more promising renewable energy technologies is concentrated solar thermal, which uses a system of mirrors or lenses to focus solar radiation on a collector.  This type of system can collect and store energy in pressurized steam, molten salt, phase change materials, or purified graphite.  

The first test of a large-scale thermal solar power tower plant was Solar One in the California Mojave Desert, constructed in 1981.  The project produced 10 megawatts (MW) of electricity using 1,818 mirrors, concentrating solar radiation onto a tower which used high-temperature heat transfer fluid to carry the energy to a boiler on the ground, where the steam was used to spin a series of turbines.  Water was used as an energy storage medium for Solar One.  The system was redesigned in 1995 and renamed Solar Two, which used molten salt as an energy storage medium.  In this type of system, molten salt at 290ºC is pumped from a cold storage tank through the receiver where it is heated to about 565ºC. The heated salt then moves on to the hot storage tank (Figure 1).  When power is needed from the plant, the hot salt is pumped to a generator that produces steam, which activates a turbine/generator system that creates electricity (NREL 2001).

 

Figure 1:  Solar Two Power Tower System Diagram (NREL 2001)

The Solar Two molten salt system was capable of storing enough energy to produce power three hours after the Sun had set.  By using thermal storage, power tower plants can potentially operate for 65 percent of the year without the need for a back-up fuel source. The first commercial concentrated solar thermal plant with molten salt storage - Andasol 1 - was completed in Spain in 2009.  Andasol 1 produces 50 MW of power and the molten salt storage can continue to power the plant for approximately 7.5 hours.

Abengoa Solar is building a 280 MW solar thermal plant in Arizona (the Solana Generating Station), scheduled to begin operation in 2013.  This plant will also have a molten salt system with up to 6 hours worth of storage.  The electrical utility Arizona Public Service has contracted to purchase the power from Solana station for approximately 14 cents per kilawatt-hour. 

Italian utility Enel recently unveiled "Archimede", the first concentrated solar thermal plant to use molten salts for both heat storage and heat transfer.  Molten salts can operate at higher temperatures than oils, which gives Archimede higher efficiency and power output.  With the higher temperature heat storage allowed by the direct use of salts, Archimede can extend its operating hours further than an oil-operated solar thermal plant with molten salt storage.  Archimede is a 5 MW plant with 8 hours of storage capacity.

In southern Spain, the Gemasolar plant opened in 2011.  It produces 19.9 MW, or approximately 110 gigawatt-hours per year.  Gemasolar stores energy in molten salt for up to 15 hours, and is thus able to provide energy 24 hours per day for a minimum of 270 days per year (74% of the year).

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory provides a long list of concentrated solar thermal plants in operation, under construction, and in development, many of which have energy storage systems.  In short, solar thermal molten salt power storage is already a reality, and a growing resource.

Geothermal

Geothermal systems extract energy from water exposed to hot rock deep beneath the earth's surface, and thus do not face the intermittency problems of other renewable energy sources like wind and solar.  An expert panel concluded that geothermal sources could produce approximately 100 gigawatts (GW) of baseload power to the USA by mid-century, which is approximately 10% of current US generating capacity (MIT 2006).  The panel also concluded that a research and development investment of less than $1 billion would make geothermal energy economically viable.

The MIT-led report focuses on a technology called enhanced or engineered geothermal systems (EGS), which doesn't require ideal subsurface conditions and could theoretically work anywhere.   installing an EGS plant typically involves drilling a 10- to 12-inch-wide, three- to four-kilometer-deep hole, expanding existing fractures in the rock at the bottom of the hole by pumping down water under high pressure, and drilling a second hole into those fractures.  Water pumped down one hole courses through the gaps in the rock, heats up, and flows back to the surface through the second hole. Finally, a plant harvests the heat and circulates the cooled water back down into the cracks (MIT 2007).

Currently there are 10.7 GW of geothermal power online globally, with a 20% increase in geothermal power online capacity since 2005.  The USA leads the world in geothermal production with 3.1 GW of installed capacity from 77 power plants (GEA 2010).

Wind Compressed Air Energy Storage (CAES)

Various methods of storing wind energy have been explored, including pumped hydroelectric storage, batteries, superconducting magnets, flywheels, regenerative fuel cells, and CAES.  CAES has been identified as the most promising technology for utility-scale bulk wind energy storage due to relatively low costs, environmental impacts, and high reliability (Cavallo 2005).  CAES plants are currently operational in Huntorf, Germany (290 MW, since 1978) and Macintosh, Alabama (110 MW, since 1991).  Recently this type of system has been considered to solve the intermittency difficulties associated with wind turbines.  It is estimated that more than 80% of the U.S. territory has geology suitable for such underground storage (Gardner and Haynes 2007).

The Iowa Stored Energy Park has been proposed to store air in an underground geologic structure during time periods of low customer electric demand and high wind.  The project is hoping to store a 20 week supply of compressed air and have approximately 270 MW of generating capacity.  The project is anticipated to be operational in 2015. 

A similar system has been proposed to create a wind turbine-air compressor.  Instead of generating electricity, each wind turbine will pump air into CAES. This approach has the potential for saving money and improving overall efficiency by eliminating the intermediate and unnecessary electrical generation between the turbine and the air compressor  (Gardner and Haynes 2007).

Pumped Heat Energy Storage

Another promising energy storage technology involves pumping heat between tanks containing hot and cold insulated gravel.  Electrical power is input to the system, which compresses/expands air to approximately 500°C on the hot side and -150°C on the cold side. The air is passed through the two piles of gravel where it gives up its heat/cold to the gravel. In order to regenerate the electricity, the cycle is simply reversed.  The benefits of this type of system are that it would take up relatively little space, the round-trip efficiency is approximately 75%, and gravel is a very cheap and abundant material.

Spent Electric Vehicle (EV) Battery Storage

As plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles become more commonplace, the possibility exists to utilize the spent EV batteries for power grid storage after their automotive life, at which point they will still have significant storage capacity.  General Motors has been examining this possibility, for example.  If a sufficiently large number of former EV batteries could be hooked up to the power grid, they could provide storage capacity for intermittent renewable energy sources.

100% Energy from Renewables Studies

A few studies have put forth plans detailing exactly how we can meet 100% of global energy needs from renewable sources.

Energy consulting firm Ecofys produced a report detailing how we can meet nearly 100% of global energy needs with renewable sources by 2050.  Approximately half of the goal is met through increased energy efficiency to first reduce energy demands, and the other half is achieved by switching to renewable energy sources for electricity production (Figure 2).

ecofys fig 1

Figure 2: Ecofys projected global energy consumption between 2000 and 2050

Stanford's Mark Jacobson and UC Davis' Mark Delucchi (J&D) recently published a study in the journal Energy Policy examining the possibility of meeting all global energy needs with wind, water, and solar (WWS) power.  They find that it would be plausible to produce all new energy from WWS in 2030, and replace all pre-existing energy with WWS by 2050

In Part I of their study, J&D examine the technologies, energy resources, infrastructure, and materials necessary to provide all energy from WWS sources.  In Part II of the study, J&D examine the variability of WWS energy, and the costs of their proposal.  J&D project that when accounting for the costs associated with air pollution and climate change, all the WWS technologies they consider will be cheaper than conventional energy sources (including coal) by 2020 or 2030, and in fact onshore wind is already cheaper. 

Summary

To sum up, there are several types of renewable energy which can provide baseload power.  It will be over a decade before we can produce sufficient intermittent renewable energy to require high levels of storage, and there are several promising energy storage technologies.  One study found that the UK power grid could accommodate approximately 10-20% of energy from intermittent renewable sources without a "significant issue" (Carbon Trust and DTI 2003).  By the time renewable energy sources begin to displace a significant part of hydrocarbon generation, there may even be new storage technologies coming into play.  The US Department of Energy has made large-scale energy storage one if its research priorities, recently awarding $24.7 million in research grants for Grid-Scale Rampable Intermittent Dispatchable Storage.  And several plans have been put forth to meet 100% of global energy needs from renewable sources by 2050.

Last updated on 4 November 2016 by dana1981. View Archives

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Comments 126 to 150 out of 154:

  1. A common myth is that because some types of renewable energy do not provide baseload power, they require an equivalent amount of backup power provided by fossil fuel plants. However, this is simply untrue. As wind production fluctuates, it can be supplemented if necessary by a form of baseload power which can start up or whose output can be changed in a relatively short period of time.

    I'm sorry but what the above article descibes is the definition of somwething that is variable - The fact that storage (if it existsed) or spinning reserve (which uses fuel) could 'step in' does not magically make RE base load supplies.

    For your organisations credibility _whose aims I approve of) I strongly suggest that you re-write the above and accept the fact that variable/intermittant RE  are not base load dispachable generators.

    Response:

    [JH] Your suggestion is duely noted.

  2. Furthermore the undoubtedly large costs of storage and grid changes to accomodate it should be accounted for as integral, indivisible part of RE generation.

  3. SuperPosition @126, there are two versions of the myth that I have encountered.  The first is that renewable energy cannot provide baseload power.  The second version also states that because of this, and because power stations capable of baseload power cannot quickly respond to changes in load, all renewable energy must be backed up by generators capable of providing baseload power operating at near the capacity of the renewable energy component but with the energy going to waste.  The claim is that not only the renewable energy unduly expensive because of the requirement of backup, but that it also does not reduce emissions because the back up generation must run continuously regardless of whether the energy is used or not.

    The paragraph that you quote clearly rebuts the second form of the myth.  Further, the rest of the article goes on to show how renewable energy can be used to provide baseload power, either because the renewable energy in question is not innately variable (geothermal energy, hydro energy), or because the variable renewable energy can be coupled with various means of energy storage to even out the variations.  Thus even though variable renewable sources (wind, solar) are not "base load dispachable generators" (something not claimed in the article), such generators coupled with appropriate storage can generate baseload power.

    So, while I agree that the phrasing of the paragraph you quote is a little awkward, the article is not wrong in its claims. 

  4. Thank you for your reply.

    I'm afraid that I must disagree - 

    Whilst I am not a electrical systems engineer, I have worked as a scienctific consultant and in particular, a Green energy consultant for the UK DCMS (gov media) and the London 2012 Olympics.

    Not once did I ever see or hear of a manufacturer or developer of the types of RE we are talking about discuss them in terms other than of none base load, variable output.

    The Industry does not regard them as BL, nor does the national grid operators of any country that I am aware of.

     This is a wholly unnecesary contradiction that may turn people away from your site and perhaps even your cause, simply because your definition and characterisation of variable o/p as 'myth' contradicts far too many accepted sources including Grid Operators, ETSO, IPCC, SDSN, DDPP and even GreenPeace for it to be credulous. 

     

    Yes I think most if not all would agree that variability/intermittancy can potentially be corrected for either by demand side management, spinning reserve or storage the fact is that those are external mechanisms which, with the sole exception of [inefficient] spinning reserve, we do not have yet.

     This point is made by Leo Smith MA [Limitations of Renewable Energy] and it is not untrue as is claimed elsewhere on SKS.

    As with addressing AGW denial, it requires a nuanced technical rebuttal of the bits that are wrong, not a dismissive gainsay or attack on the author.

    Afterall, you are not writing for people who accept AGW/ACC, you seek, do you not, to convince undecided or lay individual with fact based knowledge and logic and if a simple wiki search of the term is at odds with you then that should be addressed.

    I suggest that you accept that variability is NOT a myth, but explian that technical (and regional) solutions exists that may, over time, help mitigate/address the issue and can compensate for the variability and that these solutions need investment tio the point where it becomes irrelevent. 

    Alternately and with the greatest of respect for SKS motives, I suggest that it reference DDPP (par exemplar) and then remove all mention of Green energy alternatives to concentrate on the climate science only.

  5. SuperPosition, it seems like you are misreading the text.

    You object that, "I'm sorry but what the above article descibes is the definition of somwething that is variable - The fact that storage (if it existsed) or spinning reserve (which uses fuel) could 'step in' does not magically make RE base load supplies."

    All true, but irrelevant. The article does not say that these types of RE (e.g. wind and solar) can supply base load electricity. The problem is that you are assuming the words, "this is simply untrue" refer to "some types of renewable energy do not provide baseload power". They clearly do not. That phrase is preceded by the word "because"... an explicit acknowledgement that these types of RE do not provide baseload power.

    Rather, what the text is saying is untrue is the next clause, "they require an equivalent amount of backup power provided by fossil fuel plants".

    Yes, solar&wind are variable and do not provide baseload power. No, that doesn't mean that an equal amount of fossil fuel power needs to be on standby at all times.

  6. Superposition's argument has some validity. This article is very much on point and does not downplay the intermittency of specific RE sources. It clearly identifies that solar and wind do not provide baseload now and are not expected to do so. However, it classifies the claim "renewables can't provide baseload power" as a myth. Unfortunately, the oversimplification imposed on any debate by the mind manipulators who inevitably hijack it has come to equate rewable with wind and solar for the general public, even though there are many other sources, some that are not affected by intermittency.

    Nonetheless, I believe that Superposition's point is that most people would come to this page in order to addess the claim that wind and solar can not provide baseload power, a claim that is, in fact, true. Perhaps the article should have an introduction emphasizing that "renewable" does not mean exclusively wind and solar.

    Personally, I think that the potential for geothermal is immense and has been barely tapped at all. Considering the treasures of ingeniosity that have gone into drilling for oil and gas, I believe that we have quite a margin of improvement for tapping into heat that's there, completely free and with little to no side effects.

  7. CBDunkerson @130.

    SuperPosition, it seems like you are misreading the text.

    You object that, "I'm sorry but what the above article descibes is the definition of somwething that is variable - The fact that storage (if it existsed) or spinning reserve (which uses fuel) could 'step in' does not magically make RE base load supplies."

    My primary concern is the description of it as a myth.

    Personally I find the description out of step in a publication that strives to debunk bad science.

    Surely it is, at the very least, confusing to the reader who may conclude that the site is biased. 

     

    For instance, It would be wrong of me to claim that my car can or could fly  - unless that is, I specifically stated that for it to do so would require the addition of wings and further noted that they cost more and were not commercially available at this time and even if they were.

    I would certainly be accused of over egging the claim unless I agreed to re-phrase my claim as "it has the potential to fly." - and then explained why.

     

    Intermitaant/variable RE is not baseload and it is utterly incorrect to class that as myth.

    The fact remains that even though technology may be deployable to accomodate large scale variation on the grid generators does not mean that variable o/p sources are baseload sources or indeed that the issue is not an issue and I would also point you to my comment ref 127. 

    The issue of the unknown cost to the consumer of the correcting mechanisms, interconnects and grid changes to accomodate variable RE sources.

    It's not like nobody will notice.

  8. PhillipeChantreau @131, renewable energy in the form of wind and solar cannot provide base load power by themselves, but the OP read in context does not claim that they can (although it is guilty of ambiguous wording).  However, wind and solar energy can in principle provide baseload power when coupled with energy storage such as batteries (currently pre-orderable from Tesla, see 11:50 on the video); Pumped Heat Storage (at the prototype stage and likely to be commercialized within a few years); or pumped hydro (currently commercially available but geographically limited).  The OP mentions other potential storage methods.

    When this was pointed out to Superposition, he simply ignored it.

    More concerning he cites as appropriate communication an article by Leo Smith that says:

    "We have the necessary ideas in place to demonstrate that renewable energy by dint of its intrinsic nature is big, and hence expensive, impracticable, and environmentally unpleasant in its use of space, that it increases problems for conventional power stations, rather than replacing them altogether, that it can't exist alone, but only in partnership, that all of the ideas that are touted to render it effective are either impossible or totally impractical ..."

    Those claims are, of course, complete nonsense.  The ideas Leo Smith considers to be "impossible or totally impractical" are currently being commercialized.  Yet Superposition apparently considers Smith's propoganda piece as a model of accurate communication; but I would take the OP here over Smith's piece for accuracy any day of the week.

  9. Superposition 134, what part of this summary from the OP do you consider inaccurate:

    "To sum up, there are several types of renewable energy which can provide baseload power. It will be over a decade before we can produce sufficient intermittent renewable energy to require high levels of storage, and there are several promising energy storage technologies. One study found that the UK power grid could accommodate approximately 10-20% of energy from intermittent renewable sources without a "significant issue" (Carbon Trust and DTI 2003). By the time renewable energy sources begin to displace a significant part of hydrocarbon generation, there may even be new storage technologies coming into play. The US Department of Energy has made large-scale energy storage one if its research priorities, recently awarding $24.7 million in research grants for Grid-Scale Rampable Intermittent Dispatchable Storage. And several plans have been put forth to meet 100% of global energy needs from renewable sources by 2050."

    If you do not find any substantial errors in the summary, then your problem comes down to:

    1)  Some wording in the article can be improved to avoid ambiguity; and (possibly)

    2)  The wording of the "myth" needs to be restated to better reflect "pseudo-skeptic" arguments.

    The later because pseudo-skeptics do not argue that storage technology is not currently adequate to make a full renewable plus storage system capable of meeting baseload demand, but also that they will never be able to do so, either as a technical impossibility or because it will be to expensive.

    Given that the contributors to SkS are volunteers, if your points are (1) and (2), how would you word the myths and or sections of the article you consider dodgy without at the same time implying (falsely) that renewable energy could never provide baseload power.

  10. Budischak et al (2013) claim that renewables can be used for 99+% of all power in the New England area and are more cost effective than any other method of power generation.  They do not model using any hydroelectricity (they say with hydro it is too easy to use renewables) and they do not use any linkage of their grid to nearby grids to suppliment power over larger areas.  They also do not use any method of load adjusting (as is currently used to switch industrial power to night use when coal cannot be turned off) to minimize load on days when renewables are forcast to be low.

    It is undoubtable that as engineers become acquainted with the issues of renewables they will overcome many of the current perceived issues.  Perhaps those who claim, without any data, that renewables cannot be used for baseload can point out the errors in Budischak's analysis.

    If grid balancing and load shifting are used renewables become even cheaper.  I will point out that the cost of renewables has dramaticly dropped since Budischak was written and his estimates of the cost of renewables have to be revised strongly downward.

  11. PhillipeChantreau @131, renewable energy in the form of wind and solar cannot provide base load power by themselves, but the OP read in context does not claim that they can (although it is guilty of ambiguous wording). However, wind and solar energy can in principle provide baseload power when coupled with energy storage such as batteries (currently pre-orderable from Tesla, see 11:50 on the video); Pumped Heat Storage (at the prototype stage and likely to be commercialized within a few years); or pumped hydro (currently commercially available but geographically limited). The OP mentions other potential storage methods.

    When this was pointed out to Superposition, he simply ignored it.

    I'm sorry but that is not a definition of a base load supply and you cite technologies which are not available to us.

    I was not ingoring the solutions you mention - quite the opposite, I was pointing out that they are not available, pursuant to which I would also point out that no grid operator has plans to deploy them.

    Storage is feasible. That does not mean that it is practical or even the best solution.

    Perhaps one day grid companies will deploy them alongside RE plants but they are not doing so now.

    The issue is that we need to address GHGs now, not in 20 years. Do you agree?

    As I quite clearly state, a variable supply can be accomodated by the addition of storage - that doesn not change the nature of the supply, only the way that it is accomodated.

    Incidentally, you cite Tesla for micro generation/arbitrage.

    Yes indeed you could class your property as a micro base load supply (assuming that you always use a fraction of what you consume) but the costs would be tremendous.

    It's an attractive idea, but if you do the maths the storage losses are quite large (for every kw/h you generate you can only recover circa 800w/h after inversion) and you would still need to produce considerably more than you use for most of the day to be available at night or else all you are doing is arbitrage between day rate and cheap rate electricity.

    ie a Tesla lithium-ion system with an initial installation cost of $400 per kwh capacity, 80% efficiency and ability to run 5,000 cycles, the average cost of stored electricity will be 15 cents per kwh.
    To get your real electricity cost, you have to add to that 15 cent battery charge whatever you’re paying for that electricity in the first place (solar or grid)

    So yes it's handy for a rural house or well exposed off grid cabin, but a meaningless environmentally damaging toxic lithium based toy to >90% of the population, urban or not.

    Even if you did have enough left over to pump back into the grid, I do not see how an operator could possibly afford to run a grid that way on the limited number of properties where it would work.

    Domestically, it would be considerably more efficient and  easier to take the huge cost of your Powerwall system (with its limited lifespan) and spend it on increasing your thermal insulation, induction hob cooking, heat pump/recovery and installing triple glazing and let your power company supply you with what you need over and above your micro-generation.

  12. Superposition,

    No-one builds storage now because it is not cost effective.  It is cheaper to just sell all your power onto the grid.  Who wants to build a bunch of hydro storage (like was done for nuclear in the 1970's) and than have a white elephant.  It is not necessary to have any storage with less than 40% RE supply.  Budischak, cited above, has shown that storage is not generally economic.  With the decrease in RE costs since than it is even less economic.  The facilities to supply power on the rare occasions that RE does not supply enough are already built for peak power supply.  Solar and wind can be forecast days in advance so spinning reserve is not necessary.

    Your argument is built on a list of falicities.  RE energy does not have to look exactly the same as current power generation.  For example, it is not required to have so much unused excess capacity all night, and it does not require spinning reserve all the time like nuclear power.  You can make any idea look bad by raising enough straw men.

  13. Superposition 134, what part of this summary from the OP do you consider inaccurate:

    The claim that RE is baseload when by definition it is not - storage may be just around the corner, but is only a potential option to accomodate variable RE onto a grid. Possibly most important is the issue of cost that would quite possbibly double that of generation is ignored.

    A solution that neither we nor the developing world can afford is not an option at all. Is it.

    At present, the only RE supply that is (marginally) cheaper than (for example) nuclear is onshore wind.

    OnShore wind requires grid extensions and storage (at 85% efficiency) to make it work and even then it would also require gas backup with our current technology and quite possibly hugely costly HVDC ibnterlinks.

    The same for CSP with storage in thiose locations where it is feasible.

     

    In contrast, Nuclear is high density, has a smaller CO₂ footprint, it requires no grid changes or special consideration and the technology is available 'off the shelf' as it were; considerably faster than RE with storage.

  14. michael sweet 137.

    Your argument is built on a list of falicities. RE energy does not have to look exactly the same as current power generation. For example, it is not required to have so much unused excess capacity all night, and it does not require spinning reserve all the time like nuclear power. You can make any idea look bad by raising enough straw men.

    I'm sorry, but I think you missed the point of what i was saying or are just looking for an argument. I'll assume the former. 

    I have no idea what sort of grid you envisage - if you are asleep at night you still need a grid that does not drop below demand.

    On a still winters night when your sollar array's have been under two feet of snow for the last week and your massive 20hrs of grid storage is long depleted the power has to come from somewhere.

    Why bother with all that infrastructure when you can build a simple base load supply, doesn't require interlinks and hugely costly (yet to be proven or deployable) storage at half the cost and at a smaller carbon footprint?

  15. Superposition,

    It is common for commentors like you to come to SkS and make wild claims about how low CO2 for nuclear is, how the power will be too cheap to meter and that they have no safety issues.  This generally results is a long, fuitless argument because there is little data supplied (I see no citations to support your wild claims about nuclear).  If someone who was informed about nuclear, you for instance, took the time to write and article for SkS; we could all review the relevant literature and than we could agree on what the data are.  

    I have invited several posters like you in the past to write such a post but none of them were willing to do the work and write it.  Perhaps all the nuclear proponents know in their hearts that nuclear will look stupid when the data is collected in one place.  Show that I am wrong and write a post so we can review all the data.  It is a waste of time to post it again in an unrelated thread where it can never be found again in the future.

    Write a post supporting nuclear and send it in.  I have written several posts in the past, it is not hard.  The volunteers at SkS will review it and, if you do a reasonable job, it will be posted.  Then we will all know what a great technology nuclear is. If you cannot be bothered to do the work, like everyone else who supports nuclear, don't bother the rest of us with your unsupported wild claims.

    This article was written by someone who supports wind and solar.  They took the time to write an article supporting their technology.  Nuclear posters do not care enough to write anything so they have no posts.

  16. Superposition,

    Please read the Budischak citation I posted earlier.  When they studied a large power systen in the US they found that they got sufficient power with RE.  Your scenrio is just your imagination running wild.  When you do not know what you are talking about it is a waste of time for me to respond.  

  17. Tom Curtis 134.

    If you do not find any substantial errors in the summary, then your problem comes down to:

    1) Some wording in the article can be improved to avoid ambiguity; and (possibly)

    2) The wording of the "myth" needs to be restated to better reflect "pseudo-skeptic" arguments.

    The later because pseudo-skeptics do not argue that storage technology is not currently adequate to make a full renewable plus storage system capable of meeting baseload demand, but also that they will never be able to do so, either as a technical impossibility or because it will be to expensive.

    Given that the contributors to SkS are volunteers, if your points are (1) and (2), how would you word the myths and or sections of the article you consider dodgy without at the same time implying (falsely) that renewable energy could never provide baseload power.

    Well both 1 and 2 as already stated.

     

    You'll have to excuse me but I do not know what a 'pseudo-skeptic' is plus, with respect,your premise seems a little convoluted.

    In context it seem you equate querying the efficacy of RE with climate change denial. I hope not.

     

    (1) The issue addressed by SKS is climate change. Yes?

    (2) In absolute terms the solution to AGW/ACC is reducing or removing anthropogenic (human) forcing on the climate. 

     

    I wish to achieve (1) by implementing (2)

    I am guessing that you agree.

    >>

    There are a number of methods that can be deployed - therefore I hope that you agree that whilst many are applicable, the best methods are the ones that meet the criteria of efficacy and affordability  accepting that the missing of either would result in faulure.

    Simply put, that is:: speed, availability, efficiency and cost. Yes?

    One of those solutions is RE with an unknown, unplanned cost and technology component that must be available if large scale deployment is intended.

    In summary, should SKS be proscriptive over what the solutions to AGW are or should it concern itself solely with addressing the issue of AGW denial.

     

     

  18. SUperposition,

    Currently in the open market wind and solar are the cheapest and most efficatious methods of generating power.  They are being built at a rapid rate around the world.  As costs decrease more will be built.  Investors are unwilling to take a gamble on your choice of nuclear. There are a number of studies, including the one I cited above, that estimate the cost and feasibility of implementing wind and solar.  Your claim that these costs are uknown is simply false.  This technology exists today.  

    Nuclear would take at least 10 years to start to build out even if people changed their opinions today.  There is no way nuclear could be done quickly.  By contrast, wind and solar are cheap enough to compete without subsidy against fossil fuels with large subsidies.  No unsubsidized nuclear is proposed or has been built in the US in decades.

    You are making up problems with wind and solar that do not exist.  For example spinning reserve, speed of build out and cost of storage issues.

    SkS has a large number of threads.  Some of them are tangental to the central theme of AGW scientific facts.  For example the thread about hte Popes' work last week.  If you want a nuclear thread write it yourself.

  19. It is common for commentors like you to come to SkS and make wild claims about how low CO2 for nuclear is, how the power will be too cheap to meter and that they have no safety issues. This generally results is a long, fuitless argument because there is little data supplied (I see no citations to support your wild claims about nuclear).

    All the more surprising that you didn't think to check the data on the IPCC or any other reputable site - I can only imagine why you would wilfully remain unknowing.

    Why would you argue with the facts at hand?

    (1) Cost

    Technology Cost range (£/MWh)
    Natural gas turbine, no CO2 capture 55 – 110
    Natural gas turbines with CO2 capture 60 – 130
    Biomass 60 – 120
    *Onshore wind 80 – 110
    New nuclear 80 - 92.50 (guaranteed from 2023)
    Coal with CO2 capture 100 – 155
    *Solar farms 125 – 180
    *Offshore wind 150 – 210
    *Tidal power 155 – 390

    *These renewable energy costs exclude the grid huge changes and unknown cost of storage that renewable solar, wind, tidal generators would require to be deployed on a large scale.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cost_of_electricity_by_source#United_Kingdom_.282010.29

    (2) Emissions

    2014 IPCC, Global warming potential of selected electricity sources
    Lifecycle CO₂ equivalent (including albedo effect) from selected electricity supply technologies. Arranged by decreasing median (gCO₂eq/kWh) values.
    Technology:: Median values
    Currently commercially available technologies
    Coal – PC 820
    Biomass – cofiring with coal 740
    Gas – combined cycle 490
    Biomass – dedicated 230
    Solar PV – utility scale 48
    Solar PV – rooftop 41
    Geothermal 38
    Concentrated solar power 27
    Hydropower 24
    Wind offshore 12
    Nuclear 12
    Wind onshore 11
    Pre‐commercial technologies
    CCS – Coal – PC 220
    CCS – Coal – IGCC 200
    CCS – Gas – combined cycle 170
    CCS – Coal – oxyfuel 160
    Ocean (tidal and wave) 17

    http://report.mitigation2014.org/report/ipcc_wg3_ar5_annex-iii.pdf

    (3) Safety

    Energy Source Mortality Rate (deaths/trillionkWhr)
    Coal – global average 170,000 (50% global electricity)
    Coal – China 280,000 (75% China’s electricity)
    Coal – U.S. 15,000 (44% U.S. electricity)
    Oil 36,000 (36% of energy, 8% of electricity)
    Natural Gas 4,000 (20% global electricity)
    Biofuel/Biomass 24,000 (21% global energy)
    Solar (rooftop) 440 (< 1% global electricity)
    Wind 150 (~ 1% global electricity)
    Hydro – global average 1,400 (15% global electricity)
    Nuclear – global average 90 (17% global electricity w/Chernobyl &Fukushiima)

    **The dozen or so U.S. deaths in nuclear have all been in the weapons complex or are modeled from general LNT effects. The reason the nuclear number is small is that it produces so much electricity per unit. There just are not many nuclear plants. And the two failures have been in GenII plants with old designs. All new builds must be GenIII and higher, with passive redundant safety systems, and all must be able to withstand the worst case disaster, no matter how unlikely.

    If you genuinely want to discuss the issues then fine, but if your beliefs are so fragile that you have to throw cheap accusations then you are on your own with a mirror and a box of Andrex.

    You choose.

    Response:

    [JH] Your histrionics are not welcome on this website. Please cease and desist.

    Please note that posting comments here at SkS is a privilege, not a right.  This privilege can be rescinded if the posting individual treats adherence to the Comments Policy as optional, rather than the mandatory condition of participating in this online forum.

    Please take the time to review the policy and ensure future comments are in full compliance with it.  Thanks for your understanding and compliance in this matter.

  20. Superposition:

    Your post supporting nuclear is off topic on this thread.  If you want to dsicuss nuclear wirte a post for it.  As I stated above, these discussions are invariably a waste of time.

    Response:

    [JH] Please resist the temptation to perform the role of Moderator. Thank you.

  21. michael sweet 145.

    It is a comparison of RE and base load supplies, one of which is nuclear - If you want the site to be a 'nuclear free' zone then why not create a page with that in mind.

    Incidentally, I was the one discussing RE and storage whereas you raised the issue of alternates.

    Response:

    [RH] You're being disingenuous as to your predilection for nuclear over other forms of RE. SkS is not the proper site to have an endless discussion that accomplishes nothing. Michael Sweet has made a reasonable suggestion that you write up your own article and submit it to the SkS author's group for review. It's a process all SkS articles go through. If it's a well cited and compellingly argued piece it will likely get posted.

  22. sorry JH, point taken.

  23. [RH] You're being disingenuous as to your predilection for nuclear over other forms of RE. SkS is not the proper site to have an endless discussion that accomplishes nothing. Michael Sweet has made a reasonable suggestion that you write up your own article and submit it to the SkS author's group for review. It's a process all SkS articles go through. If it's a well cited and compellingly argued piece it will likely get posted.

    Rob, if you read the thread you will see that the discussion is about RE and the subject of nuclear was raised by Michael Sweet on 137 - not by me.

    He demanded my rsponse. If [JH] had any issue with Michael Sweet raising it (or my responding to his demand) then I am unaware of it.

    In any eventuality, I struggle to see how that could be construed as me being off topic disingenuous but I am sorry that you think it is.

    Response:

    [RH] Please note that posting comments here at SkS is a privilege, not a right.  This privilege can be rescinded if the posting individual treats adherence to the Comments Policy as optional, rather than the mandatory condition of participating in this online forum.

    Please take the time to review the policy and ensure future comments are in full compliance with it.  Thanks for your understanding and compliance in this matter.

    Continuing an off topic conversation is against policy. A reasonable path forward has been suggested. Further comments will be deleted.

  24. How disappointing! This was all just a convoluted ploy to advocate for nuclear power. That is off-topic on this thread, but I' discuss it on another more appropriate one if pointed to it.

    Being from France, I am well aware of the advantages of nuclear, for a country that has few or no other options. However, the disadvantages are becoming more and more noticeable these days, even in France. These are topics of r another thread. The wording of the OP may not be ideal but it does not contain anything disingenious and overall presents things well.

  25. PhilippeChantreau 149.

    How disappointing! This was all just a convoluted ploy to advocate for nuclear power.

    I hope that was not directed at me Phillippe - I was not the one that raised it, it was Micheal Sweet at 137.

    I do not think a list of RE compared to other energy supplies is off topic in that context. It is only data and should not have caused alarm -  I cartainly do not think I deserved the attack and negative comment.

    In any event, given that the discussion is basload power capabilities (or not) of variable RE, then the comparison with the lowest form of carbon baseload supply (nuclear) are inevitable.

    I cannot help but note the long discussion of fusion  [112 to 124]  passed entirely without thunder from above.

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