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A Nice Complement
Why Shale Gas Is a Natural Partner for Renewables
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  • markterribile

    Using more intermittent and distributed power sources will require expanding the grid. It will require new or larger power lines (Can you hear the NIMBYs sing) and it may require re-engineering of the entire grid, right to the consumer. It’s very likely that the stepdown transformers that are designed to be efficient carrying power from the generation centers out to the customer leaf-tips will be very inefficient as step-up transformers carrying solar excess back into the grid. Explaining why this may or may not be requires assuming modest familiarity with electromagnetic circuit devices … the sort of thing you get in a four-year electrical engineering degree. Unfortunately, the people who buy solar gear and solar promises don’t usually have the degrees, and I suspect that most of the people selling the solar promise don’t have them either.

    • LarryD

      I understand the grid becomes unstable when more than 30% of the power comes from variable sources.

  • CaliforniaStark

    Lets put the green rhetoric aside an travel into reality.

    In 2015 about 60% of the electricity produced in California was from natural gas. Its use goes beyond “baseline power” or “balancing renewables”; it is responsible for the overwhelming majority of in-state power generation. The amount of natural gas use has held steady, and may be increasing. In some cases, such as with the Ivanpah “solar” plant (which is actually a hybrid solar/natural gas plant), natural gas energy production is being attributed to renewable energy production — and sold at a considerably higher price.

    About 37% of the California’s power in 2015 was “imported” from out-of-state. A majority of the imports have been in the past generated by coal, coming mostly from massive coal plants in Arizona, Utah and New Mexico. In an effort to end coal use in California, and save our endangered planet, strenuous bookkeeping efforts are taking place to book transfer coal energy production to account ledgers of utilities located outside California, while crediting renewable production in other states to utilities in California. California utilities also have ended their ownership interests in coal plants outside of California. These accounting tricks are worthy of Tom Steyer; whose investment company creatively transferred his company’s coal investments out of his personal investment portfolio.

    The bottom line is in 2015; California generated its power from about 38% natural gas; 37% imports; and 19% renewable (including hydro),and 6% nuclear. The amount of zero carbon energy actually declined over the last several years because of closure of a nuclear power plant. Solar only recently increased to 5% of power generation, despite billions of dollars in investment.

    • Andrew Allison

      Reality has nothing to do with it, it’s all about virtue signalling.

  • LarryD

    Intellectual exercise. Pretend the perfect accumulator exists, and is cheap. Assume photovoltaics are 100% efficient, and cost, say, $1 per square meter. An inverter for 20 sq. meters is $1,245.00 (actual example). Support rack is $68.00 for that 20 sq meters.

    Now, how much power does California use, and how big is the solar plant needed to supply it? Take into account that a PV plant only delivers, on average , around 25% of the faceplate capacity. And, of course, how much does it cost?

    Do the math. Show your work.

    • CaliforniaStark

      Your being generous in estimating that solar will produce 25% of its nameplate capacity. The EIA estimated 15% for PV in the U.S. between 2008 and 2012. Despite solar cultists claiming the advent of solar will result in something akin to the Second Coming; solar now produces a paltry 0.6% of U.S. electricity.

      In Germany and Britain, solar may produce at less than 10% of its nameplate capacity (the EIA estimates 10%). Disappointing levels of energy production and skyrocketing costs are a major reason Denmark and Germany are beginning to pull back from subsidizing and installing new wind and solar. The math is awful.

      • LarryD

        Several of my assumptions are generous, that’s intentional. The 25% capacity factor reflects the latest EIA assessment, California, Nevada, and New Mexico, get a lot more sunny days than other states, and Europe is a terrible environment for solar. The point of the exercise is to drive home just how big a solar plant has to be, and how expensive, to supply California by itself.

        Looking up on solar insolation maps, South Eastern California (part of the optimum region), using a flat plate collector tilted at latitude, receives 6-7 kWh per sq. meter per day, average. Come now, folks, must I do all the work?

        • CaliforniaStark

          Fully understand the need to use more generous assumptions to prove your point, which you did well.

          For many reasons am skeptical of the 25% claim, not the least of which is that at least three of the largest solar plants located in the Mojave Desert of California — Ivanpah, Mojave Solar, and large solar plant located near Barstow — also utilize natural gas.

  • Blackbeard

    If you read what the Greens say when they are speaking honestly to each other you will see that they believe that cheap, reliable energy available 24/7 is a mistake and a historical anomaly. Of course when they write an OpEd for the NY Times they pretend we can substitute wind and solar for fossil fuels with no inconvenience and save money too but their leaders know this is a lie.

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