Skip to comments.Solar Meets Polar as Winter Curbs Clean Energy (So far Polar has the edge)
Posted on 12/26/2008 6:07:43 AM PST by raybbr
Old Man Winter, it turns out, is no friend of renewable energy.
This time of year, wind turbine blades ice up, biodiesel congeals in tanks and solar panels produce less power because there is not as much sun. And perhaps most irritating to the people who own them, the panels become covered with snow, rendering them useless even in bright winter sunshine.
So in regions where homeowners have long rolled their eyes at shoveling driveways, add another cold-weather chore: cleaning off the solar panels. At least I can get to them with a long pole and a squeegee, said Alan Stankevitz, a homeowner in southeast Minnesota.
As concern has grown about global warming, many utilities and homeowners have been trying to shrink their emissions of carbon dioxide their carbon footprints by installing solar panels, wind turbines and even generators powered by tides or rivers. But for the moment, at least, the planet is still cold enough to deal nasty winter blows to some of this green machinery.
In January 2007, a bus stalled in the middle of the night on Interstate 70 in the Colorado mountains. The culprit was a 20 percent biodiesel blend that congealed in the freezing weather, according to John Jones, the transit director for the bus line, Summit Stage. (Biodiesel is a diesel substitute, typically made from vegetable oil, that is used to displace some fossil fuels.)
The passengers got out of that situation intact, but Summit Stage, which serves ski resorts, now avoids biodiesel from November to March, and uses only a 5 percent blend in the summertime, when it can still get cold in the mountains. We cant have people sitting on buses freezing to death while we get out there trying to get them restarted, Mr. Jones said.
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
In the never ending zeal to prove that nature can be rechanneled and harnessed a simple coating of frost or snow proves that they really haven't thought all that far ahead.
“Drill here...drill now!!!
Another liberal idiot reporter whistling past the graveyard of global warming, and whistling even louder then ever now that we're having one of the coldest winters in memory. Global Warming ain't.
Wind turbines and solar are fine as adjuncts to fossil fuel.
The fact is that for the next 30 years fossil fuel will be our major source of energy.
Trying to conserve with better fuel mileage, better insulation or any other idea that allows us to use less energy is a great move.
The fact remains that fossil fuels will be used. It makes sense therefore that we drill, that we use coal,that we refine our own sources, that we make ourselves independent of suppliers from other countries,especially countries that are unfriendly to us.
Why is that so hard for Pelosi and Reid and the other Democtatic brain trusts on the Hill to understand?
Every 100 MW of wind generated power requires 85 MW of fossil fuel back up. The figure is 91 MW in Texas.
We have a problem conflating environmentalism and energy security in this nation. Many good Freepers hate Al Gore and the other environmentalists enough to reject any idea of solar and wind out of hand. However, if it reduces our dependency on foreign oil and makes Hugo and Vladimir cry, I'm for it.
Every source of energy will run out sooner or later.
No such thing as “renewable” energy.
There’s no mention of the fact that ordinary diesel will do the same thing, just at slightly lower temperatures.
That’s why someone who knew what he was doing would have installed fuel heaters in that bus.
Same thing with the solar panels: surely the folks who installed them knew it snows up there???
This isn’t really a story about the drawbacks of renewable energy, numerous though they are:
this is an article about the drawbacks of stupidity...
“No such thing as renewable energy.”
A woodlot full of firewood does a pretty good imitation though.
Yep, on a typically very hot summer day in Texas (when you need the juice), the wind turbines often operate at less than 5%. Soooo, Texas has to crank up those dirty ‘ol lignite and natural gas plants to produce the required juice. Ain't technology wonderful!
The only way to reduce dependency on foreign oil is to Drill Here-Drill Now.
On a small scale, where wind or solar power directly supplies the users and the fluctuating production can be stored, they can contribute to a home, school, factory, office building, or even small town's electricity. But this simply does not work on a large scale to supply the grid. On a large scale it does not reduce fossil fuel demand or emmisions.
Thermal power stations
Conventional power stations fission a material or burn a fuel to obtain heat that is used to boil water and superheat the resulting steam which is fed to the steam turbines (some power stations also use gas turbines in combination with steam turbines). The turbines drive turbogenerators that make electricity.
A power station takes days to start producing electricity from a cold start. Time is needed to boil the water, to superheat the steam, to warm all the components of the power station, and to spin the turbogenerators up to operating speed.
Each power station is designed to provide an output of electricity. It can only provide very little more or very little less than this output (i.e., a power station has a "low turndown ratio").
Electricity demand matching
Electricity is wanted all the time but the demand for electricity varies from hour to hour, day to day, and month to month. The electricity grid has to match the supply of electricity to the demand for it at all times. This is difficult because power stations cannot be switched on and off as demand varies.
The problem of matching electricity supply to varying demand is overcome by operating power stations in three modes called "base load," "generation," and "spinning standby."
Some power stations operate all the time providing electricity to the grid, and they are said to provide "base load."
Other power stations also operate all the time but do not provide electricity all the time. They burn (or fission) their fuel to boil water and superheat the resulting steam which is fed to the steam turbines that are thus kept hot and spinning all the time. Of course, they emit all the emissions from use of their fuel all the time. But some of this time they dump heat from their cooling towers instead of generating electricity, and they are then said to be operating "spinning standby."
One or more power stations can be instantly switched from spinning standby to provide electricity to match an increase to demand for electricity. It is said to be operating "generation" when it is providing electricity. Power stations are switched between spinning standby and generation as demand for electricity changes.
Thus the grid operator manages the system to match supply with demand for electricity by switching power stations between "generation" and "spinning standby."
Windfarm input to electricity
Windfarms only provide electricity when the wind is strong enough and not too strong. So, they suddenly provide electricity when the wind changes. The grid operator must match this changed supply of electricity to the existing demand for electricity. Of course, the grid operator achieves the match by switching a power station to spinning standby mode. That power station continues to operate in this mode so it can provide electricity when the windfarm stops supplying electricity because the wind has changed again.
Windfarms only force power stations to operate more spinning standby. They provide no useful electricity and make no reduction to emissions from power generation. Indeed, the windfarm is the true source of emissions from a power station operating spinning standby in support of the windfarm.
Windfarms have capital, maintenance and operating costs that add to the cost of electricity. These costs are their only contribution to electricity supply.
Wind Gen is almost completely pointless.
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