Gas plants will get crushed by wind, solar by 2035, study says

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Generators now on drawing boards will be left uneconomical

Natural gas-fired power plants, which have crushed the economics of coal, are on the path to being undercut themselves by renewable power and big batteries, a study found.

By 2035, it will be more expensive to run 90% of gas plants being proposed in the U.S. than it will be to build new wind and solar farms equipped with storage systems, according to the report Monday from the Rocky Mountain Institute. It will happen so quickly that gas plants now on the drawing boards will become uneconomical before their owners finish paying for them, the study said.

The development would be a dramatic reversal of fortune for gas plants, which 20 years ago supplied less than 20% of electricity in the U.S. Today that share has jumped to 35% as hydraulic fracturing has made natural gas cheap and plentiful, forcing scores of coal plants to close nationwide.

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Elon Musk has finished building the world’s biggest battery in less than 100 days

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Elon Musk looks to have delivered on his promise to build the biggest lithium ion battery in the world in an effort to help South Australia with its crippling energy problems. “100 days from contract signature or it’s free,” Musk tweeted at the time, in a deal initially negotiated over Twitter. Musk is well ahead of schedule (a rarity for Tesla!), with the 100MW battery set to be energised and tested in the coming days, according to a press release from the local state government.

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Ubitricity will start converting lampposts into EV charging stations

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Ubitricity is a company out of Germany and their plan to convert lampposts to EV charging stations is underway. Ubitricity is currently using London lampposts that have been previously converted to LED lighting to also charge commuter EV vehicles. EV owners simply need to purchase a custom charging cable from Ubitricity that contains a meter that will track the user’s power usage and charge them appropriately. Don’t expect to just walk on up and plug anything you want into the charging port as the custom charging cable is what activates the port. No custom charging cable, no juice.

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Can Solar Energy Crash the Grid?

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Solar energy cycles may cause an overload during peak load times

Solar energy has become more than a trend or movement; with global government support, it has become a viable means to cut energy costs and migrate to a green lifestyle for hundreds of millions worldwide.  Part of the attraction is the capability to earn energy credit from utility companies by feeding power back into the grid. But can this present a threat to the grid? Perhaps not yet in the U.S., but in Germany the threat is looming.

According to the Berliner Zeitung, the head of Germany’s energy agency DENA is warning that there is a real danger that solar power, could crash Gemany’s ageing electricity grid.
The problem is the amount of electricity produced by solar panels varies according to location, time of year, time of day and cloud cover. They are most productive when the sun emerges, which you will not be amazed to learn, is during daylight hours. But that is when demand for electricity is lowest.
As a consequence there can be huge power surges as tens or hundreds of thousands of small solar installations export their surpluses back to the grid.
While small power surges can be dealt with by switching off local power stations, the amount of solar capacity in Germany will soon be so large thanks to generous subsidies, that under certain conditions, electricity supply could exceed demand, even with all Germany’s power stations switched off.
The result says Stephan Köhler, head of Germany’s energy agency, DENA, is that solar capacity will soon be so large that solar surges could trigger blackouts.
The possibilty of solar-created power outages is a tribute to the success of German energy policy. Subsidies have been so successful in encouraging German citizens and businesses to install solar panels and sell surplus electricity to the grid at a premium, that solar now accounts for 15 per cent of generating capacity in Germany.
According to figures provided by from the energycollective there are currently about 700,000 grid-connected PV solar systems with a total capacity of 14,680 MW installed by German households and businesses. DENA says that at the current rate solar capacity could reach 30 gigawatts by the end of next year -equal to the country’s weekend power consumption,. “We need to cap installation of new panels,” concluded a Dena spokesperson .
The German Solar Industry Federation rejected DENA’s argument, claiming that extra solar energy takes the pressure off high-voltage power lines because it tends to be generated close to where it is used. The federation adds that the grid only needs to be strengthened in some rural areas where solar supply can exceed demand.
Germany’s problems highlight an hitherto unforeseen peril of moving to renewables without adequate preparation. “You lose flexibility on the supply side, so you need to gain some on the demand side,” said Tim Green of Imperial College London,”perhaps by encouraging people to charge their electric cars when the sun shines.”
UK based New Scientist magazine quoted Tim Nuthall of the European Climate Foundation in Belgium as arguing that Germany’s experience makes the case for a transcontinental grid. “The best long-term solution is to install region-wide grids, he said. “In Europe, you need a grid that balances the sun in the south with the wind in the north.”
Maybe. But we cant help thinking that a quicker, cheaper approach would be for micro-generators to be on some kind of trip switch which would be operated whenever it looked like supply was going to exceed demand. Batteries, hot water or other devices could be used to store the unused energy.

According to the Berliner Zeitung, the head of Germany’s energy agency DENA is warning that there is a significant danger that solar power, could crash Gemany’s ageing electricity grid.

The problem is the amount of electricity produced by solar panels varies due to time of day,  time of year, location,  and cloud cover. They are most effective during daylight hours. However, that is when demand for electricity is lowest.

Continue reading… “Can Solar Energy Crash the Grid?”

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