Skip to comments.A nation still drawing 18,000MW in itís sleep canít go solarÖ ( Aussies...)
Posted on 05/21/2012 2:51:27 PM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach
Im away, so this is a good time for Guest posts. Here Tony explains that we need lots of electricity even while we sleep. I didnt realize our electricity needs were so high at night. The lowest power use each day is still as much as 60% of the peak. Thats the base load at 3am, and solar panels and wind farms just cant provide it. We can burn the odd $500 billion building hundreds of solar plants, but even then, we would have to go medieval for about 8 hours each night. Candles anyone? Jo
AUSTRALIAN POWER CONSUMPTION LOAD CURVES
Theres a message in these two diagrams that underlies every decision about national energy.
These two diagrams are the most misunderstood images in the whole debate the Load Curves for actual power consumption. These two shown here are for the whole of eastern Australia (including Tasmania and South Australia).
The top diagram shows typical consumption for a day in mid summer (Monday 30th January 2012) and the second is for a typical mid winter day (Friday 22nd July 2011). (Usually peak winter consumption is a bit higher).
Consumption dips at 3AM to 4 AM on both diagrams to 18,000MW. So even when asleep, eastern Australia is consumes 18,000MW of power, basically 60% to 65% of every Watt of power that could be generated (generation capacity is about equal to the peak load).
That level of power is required absolutely for the full 24 hours of every day, i.e. 24/7/365. Its the Base Load two words here, not just one word used as an adjective to describe coal fired power plants. Its the minimum actual physical power just to keep things running in eastern Australia.
That power is supplied by plants running flat out at 3,000 RPM day in and day out. The only time they stop is when one generator at each plant is turned off for maintenance purposes. At these times, other large scale coal fired plants supply what is now out of service. These plants are mainly those on spinning reserve, and its described that way because those large scale generators take anything up to days to run down correctly, and then run back up correctly. So, typically older plants are kept on spinning reserve, in other words, running at speed but not supplying power, so, when needed they are ready to come on line delivering power.
The key here is that we just cant store electrical energy on a big scale.
The extra power required above that Base Load is called Peaking Power (or Peak Power). Peaking Power is an everyday occurrence other power plants are brought on line to top up the power. Again, this power has to be on stand-by ready for consumption. If power is predicted to be consumed, then the grid controllers need that power already at the grid, ready for it to be drawn down by people in homes with plasma TVs and ovens and toasters. Peaking Power is provided mainly from natural gas fired plants, which can come on line and spin up to speed within minutes.
There are two distinct peaks on that winter diagram. In the morning breakfast, showers, turns on the heaters etc and then again in the afternoon and evening when people come home and turn on the heaters, stoves, microwaves, washing machines and dryers.
Without rearranging our biological clocks, or reforming our civilization, theres no real possibility of flattening out the two humps.
Renewable power just cannot fill those unmovable daily time-slot requirements.
Lets look at the Base Load. We are told that Concentrating Solar (CS) can do this, but it just cannot.
A CS power plant currently can in theory supply a maximum of 50MW, but even now the best plant in operation only provides 17MW. Lets pretend it can do 50MW. These plants are ones that have heat retention and can supply their power after the Sun sets, but the best case year-round-average is around 16 hours a day. And in winter, when the peaks are highest, there may only be 4 hours a day when sunlight is strong enough to use.
Base load is 18,000MW, so we need at least 360 best case CS plants. They cost around $1.45 billion each, so around $520 billion for construction and still you have an average of 8 hours in every day without incoming power to run Australia.
Wind power can provide some power throughout the day, but their average 8 hours a day of maximum delivery is usually not the right 8 hours. In eastern Australia, the total power delivered by the 23 wind plants with 965 huge towers is still only 600MW, or around 3.3% of Base Load.
While there are people who will tell you that concentrated solar and wind power can power eastern Australia, it looks impossible once you dig down to the details.
Source for Load Curve Diagrams: Third graph on each page
Summer Jan 30 2012 http://windfarmperformance.info/?date=2012-01-30
Winter Jul 22 201 http://windfarmperformance.info/?date=2011-07-22
The short killer summary: The Skeptics Handbook. The most deadly point: The Missing Hot Spot
Obviously, the writer doesn’t understand Reality:
1) When I sleep, everything stops
2) When I die, everyone will disappear
Keep me alive, folks — your lives depend on it...
Wonder what the facts are in the USA?
Ancient Bob ( 95 yoa ) says his time is about over....no more power plants are needed..(Friend of mine )
“California” is here:
21 GW minimum overnight.
Even if we could afford it, and we cannot, it’d still be impossible.
Hey, I saw a story about you on The Twilight Zone. If I remember correctly, you were in charge of keeping and old intricate clock running because if it ever stopped............
Heh. I hate to admit it, but back in my younger days, I flirted with new age philosophy for a while. One of its tenets (if you can call it that) is that reality "on the physical plain" is nothing but a psychic agreement amongst us spirits. When we sleep, there's really nothing there.
Given the left, you might be on to something. They're not worried because they believe there's really nothing there (or because they have a trust fund.)
>>Hey, I saw a story about you on The Twilight Zone. If I remember correctly, you were in charge of keeping and old intricate clock running because if it ever stopped............<<
I was thinking more about Malcolm McDowell in “Night Visions” (lol)
Peak usage can easily go over 7500 watts.
That's a dynamic range of 300. A non-trivial engineering task to be able to go off grid.
“Wonder what the facts are in the USA?”
I’m gonna guess, exactly the same.
The sun is no brighter in the USA, nor the wind any stronger. The US has no superior way to efficiently store electricity for nightly use. Our daily usage pattern mimics the Australian one.
in it’s sleep = in it is sleep
I saw a letter in the WSJ by Iowa’s former guv Tom Wetsack who was claiming Iowa now draws 20 percent of its power from wind...
That sounds preposterous to me even if there is nothing going on there but wind blowin’ and corn growin’...
Good analysis of how solar and wind simply cannot compete with nuclear or fossil fuel power generation.
Just did some searching.
From a hyperventilating website called hispanicbusiness.com (good lord what do they have to do with wind):
“Iowa was also among the leaders in wind energy jobs, with an estimated 6,000 to 7,000 jobs — just ahead of Texas and Illinois.
“The industry group continued to urge Congress to extend the Production Tax Credit, a renewable energy tax incentive scheduled to expire in 2012. IT SAID WIND POWER INSTALLATIONS DROPPED BETWEEN 73 AND 93 PERCENT IN PAST YEARS FOLLOWING EXPIRATION, LEADING TO MAJOR JOB LOSSES IN THE INDUSTRY.”
Subsidize anything enough and you will get the numbers to rise. Including illegal immigration.
WF Buckley's line was "illegitimacy and cheese."
I thought the charts were low enough level (7th grade ) that it could be useful to show around.
Off course, as usual Ernie, you did a good job.
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