The California Power Mess

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CaptSpiff

Minister of Fire
Jan 13, 2014
550
Long Island, NY
..... So my plan is build one of these, put it in a deep borehole in dry rock in a low population area, and set it off. All the energy goes into heat in the rock, and will remain there for thousands of years. Most of the radioactive reaction products (from the fusion) have short lives. Then drill other boreholes and extract the heat like its high temp geothermal.
Done. Fusion power. The bigger you make the device, the cheaper the power gets.
I just had a vision of a Mini-Me Woodgeek entering stage left and continuing the presentation details, while our Woodgeek stands by laughing an uncontrollable evil belly laugh. ;)
 
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ben94122

Burning Hunk
Sep 4, 2017
140
California
I got my rooftop solar with battery backup installed just before this summer's rolling blackouts and wildfire evacuation. It meant that I could keep my roof sprinklers running from my well, powered by the solar panels, while we were evacuated and the power was out. Also kept the freezers going. Also keeps the wifi running, which means that if I'm home I can still get cell phone calls when the cell towers go down; our radio system works but it's nice to have a backup in case the repeater goes down. There is always the sheriff coming to our house to find me (I take call for the local hospital), but I'd rather have my cell phone ring!
 
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kennyp2339

Minister of Fire
Feb 16, 2014
6,276
07462
There is always the sheriff coming to our house to find me (I take call for the local hospital),
Man you just brought back some memories of the 80's in my neck of the woods. Our town had a pretty elaborate siren / horn network if there was a fire call (was in place since 1936) But there were times that the police would show up to peoples houses to pass along urgent messages if they couldn't be reached by telephone.
Then I started riding the local ambulance back in the late 90's, I remember quite a few times pulling the rig over and asking someone that I saw outside if I could use there home phone to call the hospital (radio's were very poor around our area due to mountains and multiple dead spots, lol or being dispatched to emergency calls and not giving the house address, just the general area of where the call was ie: "make a left at the pink house, go up 4 streets towards the late and make the right at the house with the porch light on" for real, sorry to derail the thread, just going down memory lane.
 
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blades

Minister of Fire
Nov 23, 2008
3,693
WI, Leroy
Back in the day service calls in new industrial areas- no street names and mostly no # on the places, if you were lucky they might have a hand lettered sign somewhere behind a bush or construction derbis.
 

kennyp2339

Minister of Fire
Feb 16, 2014
6,276
07462

Gist of this, by 2035 you will only be allowed to buy an electric vehicle if shopping for something new in CA, is the power grid ready for the extra demand?
Seems like hot days and wild fire days, people living in more remote area's have the possibility of being trapped, with the procedure of rolling black outs due to load issues & planned shut off's due to high fire danger (since the government allowed PG&E to get sued for a fire 2 years ago.
Electric demand is a funny thing that few realize, the biggest demand is usually between 12pm and 9pm in the evening, if basing KW demand and supplementing it with renewable (not dependable) energy then there is a possibility of a power gap forming between 4pm to 12am when industrial load trails off but electric car load would be taking its place, I think that 15yrs is not enough time to develop & upgrade infrastructure unless the government steps in and stream lines better generation and better distribution grids, which unfortunately will come at a cost to the tax payer and user with demand fee's and surcharges.
While I personally think electric vehicles will become the new norm, more populated area's are not ready for it, how many times in the news have we all seen black outs or large outages due to heat waves and arctic cold snaps or even storms like hurricanes, ice, derecho's, its all over the country, we have a very fragile system that is pushed to its limits more so than not, things are going to get very interesting.
And for the consumer, I did an electric study for a tesla charging station, 10 port rapid charge station will use approx 650kva on a 12.5 system with a secondary voltage of 277/480, thats some amperage there, the average home charging system will require a main service upgrade of 300amps, that based off of an average 2500 sq ft home with (2) 3.5 ton ac's, 5kw of lighting, electric range and dryer. Some larger homes will require its own separate 200 amp service for car charging, doesn't change anything on the street because the utility co will still use diversified load and have to upgrade primary, secondary and transformers, but the homeowner will be looking at an upgrade bill from a private electrician and such, on top of increased yearly registration fee's to the state to maintain the roads since gas tax will be dwindling.
 

woodgeek

Minister of Fire
Jan 27, 2008
4,440
SE PA
Interesting and reasoned view Kenny.

The studies I read (a while ago) suggested that while electrification would add new loads to the grid, these would be helpful to the industry, bc without them, many utilities would see a steady decline in demand. Its much easier to add new equipment when the business is going up, even a little. The decline is mostly due to efficiency improvements. A LOT of folks in CA have AC and Heat Pump heating, and that is their major annual load. So, some improvements in engineering those can offset a big chunk of the new load, and the 15 year time frame is OK for turnover on that equipment.

More to the point, the new EV loads are largely dispatchable (setting time of charging), unlike the AC/HP combos. So a little demand management can go a long way. There is a little networking and software, but if the utility takes a cent of the price of power if you comply, many will.

I also noticed that Newsom blamed neighboring states for the electricity shortage.
 

thecoalman

Member
Jul 18, 2008
50
Coal Country
coalpail.com
Grid batteries are being built and added to the grid but they are just a drop in the bucket to what is needed to keep supply during record heat.

The irony about battery storage or any storage for that matter is it that it's more applicable to conventional power. You would only need base load plants and a small amount storage to act as a buffer. The peaking plants that are very expensive to run becsue of lack of use are eliminated.
 

thecoalman

Member
Jul 18, 2008
50
Coal Country
coalpail.com
None of the peakers units around here are oil fired, they are all NG. Never seen an oil fired unit actually. Didn't know they even existed.

Here in the Northeast they required a lot of power plants to install dual capability in gas plants. The issue that emerged in 2016 is the gas pipeline infrastructure was inadequate to supply demand, simply not enough pipe. They were near the tipping point of brownouts/blackouts. Was it 2019 we had another long cold spell? A lot of those plants implemented the oil and there probably would of been blackouts had they not required oil capability.
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
6,779
Northern NH
I personally was involved in testing four 50 MW peakers in CT that NRG built several years ago with dual fuel capability. Soon after, NRG put 4 more on line also in CT with that capability. Folks forget that northern New England used to be at the end of very long gas pipeline starting in the south. The Canadians had a gas strike off Sable Island Nova Scotia that everyone thought would be a big one and there was lots of money spent to put in infrastructure to backfeed the eastern states pipeline but Sable Island never really put the volume into the pipeline that was expected. PNGTS put in a pipeline connecting with Canadian Gas distribution in Quebec to Portland Maine but it wasnt cheap gas and without storage it can not supply fuel at a moments notice. Since there is minimal gas storage in New England, large volumes of gas is not available at a moments notice unlike CA that has or had large storage capacity so the peakers in New England run on "distillate" which is basically #1 or jet fuel. They do bid into the day ahead market on occasion when they bet that power prices will be high the following day and if the spark spread is good enough they may line up some gas. Liquid fuel is easier to start if the grid is out. Pipeline natural gas is frequently low pressure so it needs to be compressed to higher pressure. That eats up a lot of HP that needs to be supplied by a black start generator (or increasingly a battery). Liquid fuel requires far less HP to black start since it does not need a compressor. The trade off its dirtier so most peakers are limited to only so many hours of operation per year on oil.
 
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SidecarFlip

Minister of Fire
Feb 7, 2010
5,273
S.E. Michigan
Interesting. In as much as I'm not educated on peakers units other than knowing a technician, I find any information enlightening. Got my own unit next to the barn. 27KW diesel fired standby feeding off a 1000 gallon diesel storage tank (that also fuels all the farm machinery) and of course it's filled with off road (no use tax) diesel. A necessary evil out here in remote America.
 

thecoalman

Member
Jul 18, 2008
50
Coal Country
coalpail.com
Interesting. In as much as I'm not educated on peakers units other than knowing a technician, I find any information enlightening.

Historically coal, nuclear and hydro was used for base load because of the lower cost. Other than down time for maintenance they run constantly at or near full capacity for 60+ years. Not only is the fuel cheap but you are fully utilizing your capital investment in the plant. Gas plant made up the rest of the mix, despite the higher cost of the fuel. They are more adaptable to variable demand and cheaper to build which made them more cost effective for that role. The newest gas plants also use combined cycle which makes them much more efficient.

With the lower cost of gas, higher efficiency and the ability to more adequately meet the increasing variable demand caused by renewable energy it's becoming the fuel of choice for power plants. Base load plants both coal and nuclear are not adaptable to that variable demand. However as more renewable comes on the grid you are no longer fully utilizing that capital investment, it drives the cost per kWh up no matter what the fuel is.

Storage at least for solar and wind is a pipe a dream. When it's 0 degrees out in the northeast, the wind isn't blowing, the sun is the lowest in the sky, it's going to be like that for a week and record peak demand is being hit at 8AM. What is your capacity and storage requirements for that? The capital investment in conventional plants never goes away.
 

SidecarFlip

Minister of Fire
Feb 7, 2010
5,273
S.E. Michigan
Historically coal, nuclear and hydro was used for base load because of the lower cost. Other than down time for maintenance they run constantly at or near full capacity for 60+ years. Not only is the fuel cheap but you are fully utilizing your capital investment in the plant. Gas plant made up the rest of the mix, despite the higher cost of the fuel. They are more adaptable to variable demand and cheaper to build which made them more cost effective for that role. The newest gas plants also use combined cycle which makes them much more efficient.

With the lower cost of gas, higher efficiency and the ability to more adequately meet the increasing variable demand caused by renewable energy it's becoming the fuel of choice for power plants. Base load plants both coal and nuclear are not adaptable to that variable demand. However as more renewable comes on the grid you are no longer fully utilizing that capital investment, it drives the cost per kWh up no matter what the fuel is.

Storage at least for solar and wind is a pipe a dream. When it's 0 degrees out in the northeast, the wind isn't blowing, the sun is the lowest in the sky, it's going to be like that for a week and record peak demand is being hit at 8AM. What is your capacity and storage requirements for that? The capital investment in conventional plants never goes away.
Far as I'm concerned, renewable energy sources are a bad joke on consumers who get to pay for the folly.
 

woodgeek

Minister of Fire
Jan 27, 2008
4,440
SE PA
Storage at least for solar and wind is a pipe a dream. When it's 0 degrees out in the northeast, the wind isn't blowing, the sun is the lowest in the sky, it's going to be like that for a week and record peak demand is being hit at 8AM. What is your capacity and storage requirements for that? The capital investment in conventional plants never goes away.

I agree that seasonal or even weeks long storage with batteries is pretty hopeless for the foreseeable future. But the case you're mentioning, New England in the winter, which is inadequate in Solar, is great in the Wind channel. Larger and taller onshore turbines are not only cheaper per kWh than smaller turbines (and current solar), they produce more power in a given farm footprint and often have capacity factors well over 50%. Week-long downtimes do not occur in practice.

England also has crappy solar, and not much hydro, and it is running >30% renewable energy in 2020, with wind as the backbone. With a higher population density that New England.

Many detailed engineering studies have designed 100% renewable + battery storage power systems for different regions in the US, using existing or currently in development tech (not pie in the sky super-grids or hydrogen BS). The designs for New England contain a rather large proportion of wind power for the reason you mention (peak loads in winter during crappy solar months). The generation costs are reasonable compared to conventional, but current battery costs more than triple the cost relative to that (and no one makes enough batteries currently). The cost and supply of the needed batteries are expected to be not a problem in a few years.
 
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peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
6,779
Northern NH
The wind resource is available off shore along the east coast. The current administration threw a big road block in when they required a permitting approach that could take several years to complete that locks most offshore wind projects out.
 

SidecarFlip

Minister of Fire
Feb 7, 2010
5,273
S.E. Michigan
One thing that always seems to escape any conversation on renewable energy is where the rare earth minerals come from for use in solar panels and batteries? You all know the answer but like to avoid that, and anyone versed on solar power knows the drawbacks like degrading output and the removal of productive cropland for solar installations. Don't like the term 'farm'. They are not farms, they are industrial installations. Big issue with wind power too. When wind turbines become functionally obsolete, the disposal cost is staggering, especially for the blades (which have to be replaced often during operation.

I'm not adverse to renewable's but at what cost?
 

SidecarFlip

Minister of Fire
Feb 7, 2010
5,273
S.E. Michigan
Far as Kalifornia is concerned, they are making their own bed, let them sleep in it.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
91,299
South Puget Sound, WA
One thing that always seems to escape any conversation on renewable energy is where the rare earth minerals come from for use in solar panels and batteries? You all know the answer but like to avoid that, and anyone versed on solar power knows the drawbacks like degrading output and the removal of productive cropland for solar installations. Don't like the term 'farm'. They are not farms, they are industrial installations. Big issue with wind power too. When wind turbines become functionally obsolete, the disposal cost is staggering, especially for the blades (which have to be replaced often during operation.

I'm not adverse to renewable's but at what cost?
There are intrinsic costs to any energy production, no free lunch. Often overlooked or swept under the carpet are the environmental and health costs. They don't show up on a company's balance sheet because they are dumped on the public, but they are at times very high.

Battery developments are progressing rapidly. One outcome, besides greater energy density, is a decreasing dependency on materials like cobalt. Likewise development is occurring in solar and propulsion. Yes, wind turbine blades are hard to recycle. This is another issue to be addressed. A firm in Texas, GFS, has developed a recycling solution. They can currently process 2-3 blades an hour but are planning on significant expansion.
 
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peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
6,779
Northern NH
The main "rare" ingredient for solar panels is silica which is readily abundant but expensive to purify and manufacture the actual wafers. There is whole new class of panels that seem to be emerging rapidly using perskovite. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perovskite_solar_cell which is abundant and cheaper to manufacturer. There have also been so called organic technologies that have popped up but the longevity was not sufficient. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Konarka_Technologies. I got to see their production line before they went bankrupt, they used an old Polaroid factory and many of the support systems.
 

CaptSpiff

Minister of Fire
Jan 13, 2014
550
Long Island, NY
..... removal of productive cropland for solar installations. Don't like the term 'farm'.
I like the term solar farm, but many of our local "farm operations" have re-purposed 20-50+ acres of land into PV production and argued that it was still "farming" under the zoning requirements. It worked for a few years until the local govt realized the profitability and put an end to that. The Farms argued that the PV operation was a tiny portion of the total farm acreage and was ancillary, just like they were allowed with a road front farm stand with parking. Of course one farm failed to reveal that the PV revenue was 40% of the total farm revenue. Now they are considered an industrial facility, and the rush to convert has slowed down significantly.
 

SidecarFlip

Minister of Fire
Feb 7, 2010
5,273
S.E. Michigan
When you take ground out of production for a non growing scenario. It's not a farm. How it plays.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
91,299
South Puget Sound, WA
When you take ground out of production for a non growing scenario. It's not a farm. How it plays.
It's still used as a term in energy, like a fuel tank farm.
 

ABMax24

Minister of Fire
Sep 18, 2019
1,316
Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada
Far as I'm concerned, renewable energy sources are a bad joke on consumers who get to pay for the folly.

But what's the alternative? Ignore the whole topic of climate change for a moment. Eventually a day will come when fossil fuels run out, then what? The logical move is to generate as much energy as possible from renewable sources to stretch the lifetime of fossil fuels for uses that can't as easily run on renewables.
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
6,779
Northern NH
The world will not run out of fossil fuels, the world will survive. Human society probably will not due to the build up of climate impacts of burning millions of years of stored carbon in 100s of years.
 

ABMax24

Minister of Fire
Sep 18, 2019
1,316
Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada
The world will not run out of fossil fuels, the world will survive. Human society probably will not due to the build up of climate impacts of burning millions of years of stored carbon in 100s of years.

You totally missed my point.

But yes we would run out fossil fuels, as is the case with the exploitation of any finite resource.
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
6,779
Northern NH
I guess you missed my point,, "leaving aside the whole topic of climate change" is the point. Resource depletion used to be the issue, aka Peak Oil. The far greater issue is disposing of the waste CO2 from burning carbon before the climate is so degraded that world population starts to plummet. There will be plenty of fossil fuels available long after the climate is past the tipping point. Unless the world stops using them, the remaining human population will not need them. Already large oil majors are writing down their high cost recoverable reserves as even they have seen the writing on the wall that the atmosphere can not absorb the carbon from the current reserves let alone new discoveries.

It is interesting to me that Peak Oil may actually have occurred not due to lack of resource but lack of ability to deal with the waste products.