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Author Topic: The Future of Renewable Energies  (Read 24893 times)
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« Reply #30 on: December 02, 2016, 03:49:07 PM »

Thanks RIT, that was so simple, clear and well written that it slapped me right in the face. Makes perfect sense. It also points out the failures of some of this government's funding schemes - they need to be more consistent rather than switching the taps on and off too quickly.
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« Reply #31 on: December 05, 2016, 01:04:09 AM »

Thanks RIT, that was so simple, clear and well written that it slapped me right in the face. Makes perfect sense. It also points out the failures of some of this government's funding schemes - they need to be more consistent rather than switching the taps on and off too quickly.

if you think about it, one of the problems our government (and just about any other government) has is it's very hard to make any investment in other solutions as funding for things like wind turbines is now world wide. I think this is one of the reasons why little has happened regarding wave powered generation. Very few countries have any reason to provide funding and when they have it is always for a local design/solution. The result being a small investment in a small trial of a small system, which ends up generation power at to high a cost. Over the period of the trial there is a good chance that the size of available wind turbines has increased by at least another 10%.

The speed of wind turbines innovation is somewhat amazing as they have gone for <100kW at the start of the 80s to plans to soon build 20MW units. At the same time the industry is so certain of its future it has started to talk about 50MW units which could be placed in the path of hurricanes.
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« Reply #32 on: December 08, 2016, 09:50:38 PM »

Rather I'm pointing out the problems caused by the speed of improvements that are currently taking place with most of the options.

Your argumentation is completely comprehensible but the phenomenon of rapidly sinking costs of developing technologies like the Powerwall in your example is typical and will only slow down as soon as we get closer to the maximum performance of the technology, at least as long as they find enough investment capital for their research.

This may be the perfect opportunity to look a little further in the future. Wind, water and solar power generation seem already to become basic technologies. Extremes like the idea of a 50MW unit you mentioned can be proof of that. But where would you place such a wind turbine? Due to the unpredictable character of hurricanes, most of the time the unit would stand still or run at minimum output. Could it be designed as a mobile wind turbine? Is size the only observable development or can we expect more specialized or simplified solutions for home owners or less developed countries?
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« Reply #33 on: December 08, 2016, 11:16:51 PM »

Rather I'm pointing out the problems caused by the speed of improvements that are currently taking place with most of the options.

Your argumentation is completely comprehensible but the phenomenon of rapidly sinking costs of developing technologies like the Powerwall in your example is typical and will only slow down as soon as we get closer to the maximum performance of the technology, at least as long as they find enough investment capital for their research.

This may be the perfect opportunity to look a little further in the future. Wind, water and solar power generation seem already to become basic technologies. Extremes like the idea of a 50MW unit you mentioned can be proof of that. But where would you place such a wind turbine? Due to the unpredictable character of hurricanes, most of the time the unit would stand still or run at minimum output. Could it be designed as a mobile wind turbine? Is size the only observable development or can we expect more specialized or simplified solutions for home owners or less developed countries?

Until the rate of change does slow down you end up in a situation where it makes sense deferring your investment as next year's cost of a solution will be lower than this year's cost - the savings you make over the year. At government level investment is being driven by the CO2 agreements rather than simple cost vs savings calculations. The current risk to the market seems to come from the USA - if they pull out of the agreements and stop their investments for say the next 4 years they will gain an investment 'saving' while the rest of the world pays for the ongoing improvements. This could cause others to do the same thing.

There is far to little info regarding the 50MW idea to say what their real plans are, but the key thing is that they can cope with hurricanes, rather than they need hurricanes to operate. This is key if you wish to site turbines where hurricanes (and typhoons) happen and not have your wind farms shut down as each storm passes by (or destroyed). There was even a letter published in Nature that put forward the idea of using wind farms to extract some of the near-surface energy in a hurricane to reduce the possible damage it may cause. I've no idea if it would work, but building wind farms rather than sea walls seems a nice idea.
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« Reply #34 on: December 09, 2016, 12:54:52 PM »

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Is size the only observable development or can we expect more specialized or simplified solutions for home owners or less developed countries?

Perhaps this is backtracking a little to the First Phase descibed in the opening post but I think some consideration could be given to the promotion of micro grids - nothing new about the idea but we seem to think it only belongs elsewhere in the world. We are fixated with macro solutions designed to provide unlimited supply to urban populations - essentially bigger is better on all counts. The mindset is understandable (if rather "more of the same that got us into this position to start with") for the developed world but exporting our self-induced difficulties to the developing world is not entirely fair. I suspect that our coveting of their potential as benevolent excess RE generators for our own over-inflated usage is fanciful or politically naive, at least in the next few decades.

When referring to micro grids I am talking about the creation of discrete communities, self sufficient in both heat and power with net exporting capability linked individually and ,ultimately, collectively to the main grid (if appropriate). Existing small to medium scale technologies in Wind, Hydro, CHP, Biomass, A&GHS etc, mixed as appropriate to location, alongside domestic Scale PV would be perfectly adequate and would also provide the leg-up these technologies now need for further development and price rationalisation. These grids would most likely be, although not exclusively, rural since this is where the basic renewable supplies are best harvested and also at the extremities of existing grid infrastructures. I accept that in the developed world creation of net exporting micro-grids has a relatively small potential impact but it could still provide a useful contribution. Removing whole sections of the population (albeit small ones) from the grid demand side, tapping into otherwise unused sources at a micro level, cutting transmission losses and establishing self sustainability as an achievable position are some of the benefits. Using a similar model for the developing world where the infrastructure is less established makes even more sense.
There are, of course, significant and quite diverse hurdles to overcome in paving the way for micro grids and it is likely this would only be possible under government auspices - a major creditability problem in itself. Just properly scoping the possibilities would be quite a task.  I can not see where private enterprise with a profit focus would be a good fit. This could not be about making a quick buck for someone whether individual or organisation since the aim is sustainability.
This is unashamedly the perspective of an off-gridder. Of course I don't understand or appreciate the national energy system - that's why I got off the grid.
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« Reply #35 on: December 09, 2016, 06:25:50 PM »

http://www.renewableuk.com/news/321174/New-wind-energy-record---an-early-Christmas-clean-energy-bonus.htm
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« Reply #36 on: December 19, 2016, 09:04:09 PM »

I can not see where private enterprise with a profit focus would be a good fit. This could not be about making a quick buck for someone whether individual or organisation since the aim is sustainability.

Please excuse my absence last week. Am I getting you right that you don’t consider the creation of micro grids an economical opportunity?  It may look like cannibalization if the big energy companies build them, but wouldn’t you think there is still a lot of money to make as system supplier or in the service around the grid? Looking at just one small community, the impact may seem small, but considering how many people even in industrialized countries still live in small cities and rural areas, the effects could be impressive.

My question here would be how do we need to change our power grid to enable those multidirectional electricity distributions and who should finance it, now that the big energy companies are continuously losing power generation to the consumers?  And how do we guarantee a stable main grid when more and more people and even megacities try to get more or completely self sufficient?

@heatherhopper: You said you were completely off grid, perhaps you could tell about the difficulties to do so?    How do and will politics react to the autonomy efforts of single users or whole cities?

Using a similar model for the developing world where the infrastructure is less established makes even more sense.

Micro grids seem to be ideal to electrify the rural areas in developing countries, which often lack infrastructure including no or insufficient electrical grids, oil or gas supply, since they don’t need a huge number of customers to pay off, as our big power plants. Anyway there are still some problems to overcome. How do you organize transport, construction, service and maintenance of more complex units, e.g. solar panels, in those regions? The power demand may be very low in the beginning, so how do you create scalability and how will the acceptance of the technology be in areas that barely have any energy supply now?
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« Reply #37 on: December 19, 2016, 10:50:22 PM »

I can not see where private enterprise with a profit focus would be a good fit. This could not be about making a quick buck for someone whether individual or organisation since the aim is sustainability.

Please excuse my absence last week. Am I getting you right that you don’t consider the creation of micro grids an economical opportunity?  It may look like cannibalization if the big energy companies build them, but wouldn’t you think there is still a lot of money to make as system supplier or in the service around the grid? Looking at just one small community, the impact may seem small, but considering how many people even in industrialized countries still live in small cities and rural areas, the effects could be impressive.

My question here would be how do we need to change our power grid to enable those multidirectional electricity distributions and who should finance it, now that the big energy companies are continuously losing power generation to the consumers?  And how do we guarantee a stable main grid when more and more people and even megacities try to get more or completely self sufficient?

@heatherhopper: You said you were completely off grid, perhaps you could tell about the difficulties to do so?    How do and will politics react to the autonomy efforts of single users or whole cities?

Using a similar model for the developing world where the infrastructure is less established makes even more sense.

Micro grids seem to be ideal to electrify the rural areas in developing countries, which often lack infrastructure including no or insufficient electrical grids, oil or gas supply, since they don’t need a huge number of customers to pay off, as our big power plants. Anyway there are still some problems to overcome. How do you organize transport, construction, service and maintenance of more complex units, e.g. solar panels, in those regions? The power demand may be very low in the beginning, so how do you create scalability and how will the acceptance of the technology be in areas that barely have any energy supply now?


Microgrids are a nightmare to providers in 'First' world countries as they make most of the current infrastructure dated/obsolete, while in the rest of the world they offer the opportunity to deploy a service in a very piece meal fashion. The best example I have seen so far compares the future of electricity against that of phones. In the past the 'First' world countries deployed vast land line phone networks that other countries could not match due to the capital cost of such systems. Now they have gained all the advantages, but few of the fixed costs by deploying mobile phone networks. While 'First' world countries now have the cost of maintaining both fixed and mobile networks.

As for the issue of how to handle scalability, it's not like the 'First' world countries started to build their networks to a grand plan, in the USA the first power stations provided power to just a few city blocks, they then grew and merged over time. While it's not the most cost effective way of doing something it does result in a solution. It helps if government can set rules and regs at the start and I guess it would be a major advantage if they can plan for a national grid, even if such a grid is not deployed for many years.

For us in the UK there is still one major issue that no one seems to want to address when it comes to cost allocation. Currently the standing charges added to bills are a number created by the marketing team, rather than the true cost of the standing infrastructure required to provide gas and power. Until this becomes a fixed amount based on supply region (and maybe even master fuse size) it's very hard for consumers to understand the cost of enabling a service. It may be that this is resolved with smart meters as then energy costs can be varied based on time of day usage. So if you use energy between 6pm and 9pm you will pay the extra required to provide all the standby generation equipment to support peak demand.
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« Reply #38 on: December 20, 2016, 12:31:52 AM »

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and maybe even master fuse size

I take it your talking about the personal fuse size, the 100a (or smaller) on the meter. That would make it interesting, cheaper standing charge but you may need a battery to get you through peak demand times. Having said that, it would have to be quite a reduction from 100a (24 kw) to make a difference. I have an OWL system which logs you max power draw. The most I have seen is about 16 kw with the EV charging, oven on, TD on, and someone boils a kettle. You could half that for houses without an ev to 8 kw. Who is going to accept a 30a supply unless it is vastly cheaper ?. Standing charges seem to max out around 30p per day which is only £100 pa. Not much of a saving for a potential headache. 30 min TOU with a feedback of the current rate and perhaps the next 30 min rate might change usage patterns more. You would of course encourage people to cook and eat later so it could further accelerate the obesity issue the UK has  banghead
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« Reply #39 on: December 20, 2016, 02:03:22 AM »

what are u talking about ?  

Wind and PV  are competitive  ,  and   start taxing  FF   cause ending resources  to finance other ideas ,     what alternatives are  there ?

Does money  count .... not much i think /know , as we cant eat it

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« Reply #40 on: December 20, 2016, 02:13:59 AM »

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and maybe even master fuse size

I take it your talking about the personal fuse size, the 100a (or smaller) on the meter. That would make it interesting, cheaper standing charge but you may need a battery to get you through peak demand times. Having said that, it would have to be quite a reduction from 100a (24 kw) to make a difference. I have an OWL system which logs you max power draw. The most I have seen is about 16 kw with the EV charging, oven on, TD on, and someone boils a kettle. You could half that for houses without an ev to 8 kw. Who is going to accept a 30a supply unless it is vastly cheaper ?. Standing charges seem to max out around 30p per day which is only £100 pa. Not much of a saving for a potential headache. 30 min TOU with a feedback of the current rate and perhaps the next 30 min rate might change usage patterns more. You would of course encourage people to cook and eat later so it could further accelerate the obesity issue the UK has  banghead

Yes, it would introduce an interesting dynamic to the market where households would save money by limiting the maximum they can draw from the grid at any one time. Our current 100/63A connections come from a time where energy was going to be "too cheap to meter".  Until I guess the 80s people had few items that could draw much current, but as we move to EVs and people install every more powerful electric showers and replace gas with electric solutions our peak demains will grow. I think instead they will wait until they can play with smart meter based tariffs from 2021, so rather than E7 we end up with E7/10/7 - so 3 price ranges over each 24 hour period.

As you say currently the standing charge is between 20-40p for both gas and electricity (I was once quoted £2 per day by one company who was offering very low unit charges and Ebico still charges 0p), the problem is that this does not cover the fixed costs of the networks. This is already becoming a battle in parts of the USA where electricity suppliers are trying to charge fixed fees to PV homes to cover the fixed 'costs' that the household is avoiding due to their lower energy bill. So a 'standing charge' just for PV owners., which is not going down well.
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« Reply #41 on: December 20, 2016, 09:46:08 AM »

Having only a 100A mains fuse as standard results in more energy being used for DHW, as 300A is needed for an effective instant in-line electrical water heater.   Solar water heating becomes so much easier if you can use a thermal store that is only heated by solar (thermal or PV), boosting the DHW with a in-line heater when needed.

(Yes a gas combi can be used for it, but if you have mains gas, solar water heating is questionable.)

Time of day pricing makings a lot of sense, provided it is done in a way to change behaviour of everyone, and not just a option that can be “cherry picked” by  people who already use most of their power at off peak times.
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« Reply #42 on: December 20, 2016, 09:47:41 AM »

I think Italy has different Amp limits based on fees. Sounds interesting, but perhaps the timing is now wrong as we want to move folk towards EV's and perhaps heat pumps.

Regarding leccy prices, I'm all in favour of the 'petrol forecourt price' option, which like EBICO has all of the cost in the unit charge. The argument against is that low users benefit from the whole network, but pay less for it, but I'd argue that they are still paying proportionately to their use of the product.

There are many advantages to an all in one price. Firstly it doesn't mean an increase in the total cost of leccy, low users pay less, average users pay the same, and high users pay more, but total payments and receipts are the same. However, it encourages demand reduction, efficiency purchases and micro-generation, as the value of each unit consumed has been increased, thus increasing the savings from importing less.

I think the daily costs are around 30p-40p (on average), about 10p for transmission charges (National Grid) and around 20p-30p for distribution costs (District Network Operators). At 30p/day a low user (2,000kWh pa) is paying an extra 5.45p/kWh, whilst a high user (6,000kWh pa) is paying 1.8p/kWh. In a normal economic market, it might seem fair to charge a lower rate to higher users (better customers), but since energy supply is now an issue, and a luxury not a right, perhaps higher users should pay more for placing a higher demand on the service.
 
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« Reply #43 on: December 20, 2016, 10:04:31 AM »

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-12-15/world-energy-hits-a-turning-point-solar-that-s-cheaper-than-wind
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« Reply #44 on: December 20, 2016, 10:22:43 AM »

Mart,
I agree with everything you say but i do not see any evidence that particularly high end users could care a fig leaf and even less what to do about it if they did.  When i have been faced with people who do not understand their leccy bill and ask what is a KW !! even people running businesses
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People are continuously focusing on methods of production and not on methods of achieving the same for less.  HUGE peak lopping advantages could be achieved by turning off for 1/2hr say industrial fridges, air con units,EV charging. But how price sensitive are industrial users?
Ken
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