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Parked Out
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PostThu Dec 11, 2014 1:44 pm 
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Now this is interesting.

http://bravenewclimate.com/2014/08/22/catch-22-of-energy-storage/

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PostThu Dec 11, 2014 3:11 pm 
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Good article. The conclusions don't surprise me much, many folks seem immune to the implications of the fact that energy dense generation is necessary to provide the huge surplus necessary to break even on the most basic levels of standard of living like agriculture and food transportation.

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PostFri Dec 12, 2014 8:22 am 
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Thanks for posting.  I should be able to spin up a bunch of people on facebook with this one.
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PostFri Dec 12, 2014 8:28 am 
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Pretty interesting stuff.  I like the EROI example in the postscript:

"Think of a society dependent upon one resource: its domestic oil. If the EROI for this oil was 1.1:1 then one could pump the oil out of the ground and look at it. If it were 1.2:1 you could also refine it and look at it, 1.3:1 also distribute it to where you want to use it but all you could do is look at it. Hall et al. 2008 examined the EROI required to actually run a truck and found that if the energy included was enough to build and maintain the truck and the roads and bridges required to use it, one would need at least a 3:1 EROI at the wellhead.

Now if you wanted to put something in the truck, say some grain, and deliver it, that would require an EROI of, say, 5:1 to grow the grain. If you wanted to include depreciation on the oil field worker, the refinery worker, the truck driver and the farmer you would need an EROI of say 7 or 8:1 to support their families. If the children were to be educated you would need perhaps 9 or 10:1, have health care 12:1, have arts in their life maybe 14:1, and so on. Obviously to have a modern civilization one needs not simply surplus energy but lots of it, and that requires either a high EROI or a massive source of moderate EROI fuels."

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PostFri Dec 12, 2014 10:28 am 
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Unfortunately we see the same ignorance of the necessity of surplus with respect to economics as we do with energy production.

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PostSat Dec 13, 2014 10:41 am 
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Interesting article - thanks for sharing. It confirms what I've read elsewhere - put simply, that as of now, battery technologies and other forms of energy storage generally don't make sense in combination with wind, solar, etc. As this article (possibly a bit biased, given the source) points out, however:

Quote:
In the U.S., numerous peer-reviewed studies have concluded that wind energy can provide 20% or more of our electricity without any need for energy storage.

The article has interesting comments about use of pumped hydro storage in the US and elsewhere:

Quote:
The only form of energy storage that is currently operational on a large scale in the U.S. is pumped hydroelectric storage, with a little over 20 GW of installed capacity. Interestingly, much of this storage was built to accommodate the significant increase in nuclear generation that occurred during the 1960’s, 70’s, and 80’s. Just as it is difficult for wind plants to increase their output in response to grid demands, it is very difficult for nuclear plants and even coal plants to increase or decrease their output in response to commands from the grid operator. Changing the output of a nuclear or coal plant requires changing the amount of heat traveling through the plant’s steam system. The resulting temperature fluctuations can cause thermal stress to plant equipment, significantly increasing maintenance expenses and causing safety concerns.

Thus, all inflexible generators benefit when other sources of flexibility, including energy storage, can relieve them of having to accommodate changes in electricity supply and demand. In fact, a study in the Netherlands found that coal plant owners were the primary beneficiary of energy storage as it allowed coal power plants to run more at night, with this low-cost energy being stored and used to displace expensive natural gas generation during the day, interestingly causing a net increase in electric sector carbon dioxide emissions.

And finally, in good agreement with the article posted at top of thread:

Quote:
Wind integration studies have made it possible to precisely determine the value that energy storage provides for integrating wind energy. By modeling a 10% wind penetration on the Colorado power grid with and without the presence of a 324-MW hydroelectric pumped storage plant, a wind integration study for the state of Colorado found that the pumped storage plant reduced wind integration costs by $.00134 per kWh of wind energy, which corresponds to annual savings of $2.5 million under the 10% wind scenario. [9] Given that a new pumped hydroelectric plant typically costs well over $1 million/MW of installed capacity, it would take over 100 years to pay back the initial cost of the plant based on the benefits for wind alone, without even taking into account financing or operating costs for the pumped hydro plant. Thus, energy storage has a high cost hurdle to overcome.

Though there is always the hope that R&D will lead to sufficient cost drops in both generation (i.e. for wind and solar) and storage (i.e. via new miracle battery tech or whatever), figure 2 in the article I posted makes me think that we're a long ways from a crossover point. If you factor the social cost of carbon into the picture, perhaps the comparisons get a bit more favorable versus coal/gas, but I'm assuming nuclear will still win out over wind+storage.
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PostSat Dec 13, 2014 11:04 am 
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joker wrote:
It confirms what I've read elsewhere - put simply, that as of now, battery technologies and other forms of energy storage generally don't make sense in combination with wind, solar, etc. As this article (possibly a bit biased, given the source) points out, however:

Quote:
In the U.S., numerous peer-reviewed studies have concluded that wind energy can provide 20% or more of our electricity without any need for energy storage.


The missing link:  smile.gif

http://www.awea.org/Issues/Content.aspx?ItemNumber=5452

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PostSat Dec 13, 2014 12:36 pm 
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Joker - good article on the storage issue with renewables.  I hadn't heard that perspective before, only that storage is a fundamental requirement due to the intermittency problem.  I wonder how much the concept of using 'storage' or the flexibility inherent in existing systems will rely on smart grid technology, or if it's already workable with the grid in its current state.  I see the website has a section on transmission which might be a good resource on that question, haven't had time to look at it yet.

http://www.awea.org/Issues/Content.aspx?ItemNumber=865&navItemNumber=673


Here's an interesting interview with Andrew Dodson on some of the grid-related challenges faced by renewables today.


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PostSat Dec 13, 2014 4:04 pm 
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Parked Out, caution is advisable in reading AWEA.  It is advocacy group for the wind industry, not an advocacy group for consumers.  Their goal is to externalize the very real costs of load balancing (i.e. make sure we consumers all pay them in full for every kWh they can generate when the wind is blowing, whether we need it or not).  It is, not surprisingly, all about money.

In the Northwest, BPA has to deal with this reality and has been forced into the position of acting as advocate for us consumers.  There's a wealth of information on how the NW grid is dealing with the wind energy oversupply problem on the BPA website.

There are no "magic bullets" left to fire here.  We consumers are paying to dump surplus wind energy over dam spillways today.  But it is important for voters to realize that, because we have the power to pass voter initiatives (I-937 on renewable energy excluding hydropower, or I-1351 on K-12 class size) that allow us to "feel we done good", without understanding their costs or consequences.

Postscript: Let's not forget Port Angeles' own failed experiment with stored wind energy - the lithium-ion battery storage project installed (by Catalyst Energy Technologies Inc, and paid for by a BPA grant paid by us ratepayers) at The Landing Mall in 2011.  It never made econcomic sense, and I don't know that it ever actually worked?  It overheated and burned up in 2013.

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PostSat Dec 13, 2014 6:18 pm 
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interesting- thanks Rod.
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PostSat Dec 13, 2014 8:11 pm 
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RodF wrote:
Parked Out, caution is advisable in reading AWEA.  It is advocacy group for the wind industry, not an advocacy group for consumers.  Their goal is to externalize the very real costs of load balancing (i.e. make sure we consumers all pay them in full for every kWh they can generate when the wind is blowing, whether we need it or not).  It is, not surprisingly, all about money.

Thanks Rod, sounds like good advice.  I took a look at BPA's site but it's going to take me some time & effort to comprehend what's going on.  Any further interpretation you'd like to offer will be appreciated.  Steep learning curve on this whole energy transition issue.

Quote:
Postscript: Let's not forget Port Angeles' own failed experiment with stored wind energy - the lithium-ion battery storage project installed (by Catalyst Energy Technologies Inc, and paid for by a BPA grant paid by us ratepayers) at The Landing Mall in 2011.  It never made econcomic sense, and I don't know that it ever actually worked?  It overheated and burned up in 2013.

$165,000 and it could store enough energy to power the building for 45 minutes.  Shame that it burned up, it would've paid for itself in about 100 years...

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PostSun Dec 14, 2014 4:02 pm 
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Parked Out wrote:
It confirms what I've read elsewhere - put simply, that as of now, battery technologies and other forms of energy storage generally don't make sense in combination with wind, solar, etc.

Well, duh. Emphasis on "as of now". This is hardly news. We have no way of knowing what the EROEI will be for technologies that don't yet exist.

I regularly see reports from engineers about potential improvements in batteries that could resolve this problem. None have done so yet of course, but those who are trying certainly have not run out of ideas yet. And for now, solar and wind have not hit a ceiling that requires storage yet. My guess is that challenges related to integration will become serious before a lack of storage does.
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PostSun Dec 14, 2014 4:16 pm 
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I don't know, I've been hearing rumblings about a better mousetrap (battery storage) for a long time now
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PostSun Dec 14, 2014 6:13 pm 
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drm wrote:
I regularly see reports from engineers about potential improvements in batteries that could resolve this problem. None have done so yet of course, but those who are trying certainly have not run out of ideas yet.




It's not a question of improvements in storage technology, it's a fundamental shortage in the energy budget.


"Several recent analyses of the inputs to our energy systems indicate that, against expectations, energy storage cannot solve the problem of intermittency of wind or solar power.  Not for reasons of technical performance, cost, or storage capacity, but for something more intractable: there is not enough surplus energy left over after construction of the generators and the storage system to power our present civilization....

These EROEI values are for energy directly delivered (the “unbuffered” values in the figure).  But things change if we need to store energy.  If we were to store energy in, say, batteries, we must invest energy in mining the materials and manufacturing those batteries.  So a larger energy investment is required, and the EROEI consequently drops. 

Weißbach et al. calculated the EROEIs assuming pumped hydroelectric energy storage.  This is the least energy intensive storage technology.  The energy input is mostly earthmoving and construction.  It’s a conservative basis for the calculation; chemical storage systems requiring large quantities of refined specialty materials would be much more energy intensive.  Carbajales-Dale et al. cite data asserting batteries are about ten times more energy intensive than pumped hydro storage."

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PostTue Dec 16, 2014 9:32 am 
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Jake Neiffer wrote:
I don't know, I've been hearing rumblings about a better mousetrap (battery storage) for a long time now

Sure. Everything not yet invented that is being worked on may at some level qualify under a comment like that. Maybe no decent energy battery storage will ever be developed. But it's too early to say that for sure.

As to EROEI, I did a search and saw a wide variety of opinions. Forbes described it as nonsense:

Quote:
The problem with this is that while the math and physics of ERoEI is just fine, indisputable even, it’s just not a very useful concept except in certain very limited situations.

I hardly consider Forbes to be the font of wisdom, but it does not seem to be justified to use it EROEI some kind of key measure for energy generation.
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