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Why do you assume that all backup capacity for a given grid must be provided by fueled power?

Also, how common natural gas peakers are is determined by how useful they are in a fueled power system, in which we imagine that the average minimum amount of power required over a day are special "baseload" electrons, which have to be provided for separately from "following load" electrons and "peak load" electrons. Some similar peaker plant, say ammonia peakers, could be as common as a complement to the balance as they are required to be.

Indeed, if it takes time to build up an appropriate capacity of Direct Carbon Fuel Cell for the more efficient use of biocoal, then since baseload power plants would be driven out of business by a 40:20 mix of wind and solar, we would have ample opportunity to pick the most useful of the shut down coal power plants to use for biocoal power production in the event of a shortfall of solar/wind. After all, about half of a given shortfall will be predictable a day or more in advance.

And this concern with issues of dispatchable sustainable renewable power to complement the volatile harvested renewable power seems to be difficult to understand in the context, since you answered my comment which was a a response to melo's question about why solar panels are so often installed without tracking units. I don't see the connection between how sustainable renewable dispatchable power sources and storage fits into the issue of whether or not solar panels have tracking.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Wed Jul 24th, 2013 at 11:23:35 PM EST
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I assume that because it is the most optimistic assumption for keeping costs down. You said that renewable sources can generate electricity cheaply. I don't see how that matters. The price of electricity must cover the cost of keeping the whole generation capacity operational.
Now you say that shortfalls will be predictable. I don't see how that is supposed to fix the basic problem. Unless the generation capacity is controllable you will need just as much backup. Or you need storage.
by oliver on Thu Jul 25th, 2013 at 02:12:56 AM EST
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When you write
You said that renewable sources can generate electricity cheaply. I don't see how that matters. The price of electricity must cover the cost of keeping the whole generation capacity operational. Now you say that shortfalls will be predictable. ...

... it seems as if you are operating under the impression that harvesting of volatile sustainable renewable energy is the only available sustainable, renewable energy, so that when I talk about the predictability of harvested supply, that is talking about the entire sustainable, renewable supply portfolio.

You might infer that I was not assuming that all sustainable, renewable power sources involves the harvesting of volatile energy sources, otherwise "dispatchable sustainable renewable energy" would not exist.

However, the dispatchable sustainable, renewable power sources like dammed hydropower and biocoal tend to have a limited total supply, and a strategy that takes that into account is to integrate as much abundant volatile harvesting capacity into the grid as is practicable and organize the generation of power from the dispatchable energy sources around to firm the generation of that harvested power.

When you treat it is irrelevant that half of the variation in the harvesting of volatile sustainable renewable energy is predictable, you are ignoring that not all of the dispatchable sustainable renewable energy can respond to fluctuations in load as rapidly as dammed hydropower. If you are using biocoal in a conventional coal power plant, it requires a ramp up period. If you are using biocoal in direct carbon fuel cells, the biocoal slurry would not be used for long term storage but rather prepared on demand.

However, a day's advance notice is ample for bringing other dispatchable sustainable renewable power sources on line, so it make sense to reserve rapid ramp-up dispatchable power such as dammed hydropower (which can have their firming capacity extended with reverse pumped hydro, or, looking ahead, may be supplemented by ammonia peakers) for the non-predictable component of the supply gap between load and harvested supply.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Jul 25th, 2013 at 02:31:43 PM EST
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