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Too slow and steady: household battery packs are going to take a while October 25, 2014

Posted by Maury Markowitz in Uncategorized.
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That can't be good.

That can’t be good.

I would like nothing more than to have an inverter and battery pack in my home.

The recent ice storms left us without power for just over three days in the dead of winter. We had a gas stove in the basement and some great camp lights that kept us going, but camping in your own basement without any form of communications gets boring fast. I’d love to have backup power, but at something north of $15k, I have other things to worry about.

So it’s with some sadness that I saw recent numbers from Sandia Labs that suggest I’m going to have to keep waiting a while before I can actually afford a whole-home UPS (uninterruptible power supply), but not for the reasons I thought.

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Japan’s rapid switch to PV September 30, 2014

Posted by Maury Markowitz in Uncategorized.
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Kagoshima Nanatsujima PV plant

Kagoshima Nanatsujima PV plant

I came across this article mentioning that Japan has installed 11 GWp of renewables in the last two years. That’s not record-setting by any means (the US beats that), but definitely worthy of comment for a couple of  reasons…

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Future grid: energy and transport September 16, 2014

Posted by Maury Markowitz in power grid.
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Do not open the door

I was watching Extant last night and saw a bit of tech that made so much sense; it was a burner cell-phone powered by a chemical reaction you started by twisting it like a glo-stick. It’s one of the throwaway props that the producers seem to spend so much effort on trying to make a plausible future.

The reason I bring this up is that they also assume every car is electric. Nothing new there, but in this case they use an actual car instead of a made-for-TV model. Lots of Teslas and BMW i3′s.

And that got me thinking. What if Extant is right? What sort of overall effect is there on the grid if everyone starts driving electric? I know that electric cars use less power overall, but what sort of effect does that have on the big picture?

Well unless I’m doing the math seriously wrong, it looks like the answer is “bring it on!”

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Serial offenders: Darlington already over budget July 9, 2014

Posted by Maury Markowitz in Uncategorized.
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One of the major problems for AECL and their customers was their complete inability to budget their designs. Every single reactor installed has gone over, and every refurb has too.

And so now it is with no great surprise that we learn that the Darlington refurb hasn’t even started, and it’s already $300 million over budget. Well, at least according to two 3rd party firms contracted to oversee the work, OPG says it’s “only” $235 million.

Seven more years to go…

Hidden in plain sight: EIA highlights massive swing to renewables June 27, 2014

Posted by Maury Markowitz in power grid, solar.
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For many years the gold standard in energy reporting in the US has been the various EIA reports. Over the last five years though, it was clear something was going wrong. Renewables were part of the reports but always listed at high costs and low adoption rates. The numbers weren’t wrong, just outdated, as if you were reading a report from three years ago.

And this month’s report drives that home; the EIA has been predicting slow uptake of various renewables for some time now, and long predicted that it would reach about 13.5% of the electrical mix around 2040. However, the latest report, covering the first third of 2014, shows that renewables covered 14.04% of the electrical mix.

Wow.

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Phinergy’s battery: energy storage, problem solved? June 6, 2014

Posted by Maury Markowitz in Uncategorized.
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Image of the test vehicle, a small electric car

Sporty!

You hear stories of new battery tech all the time, and I’ve generally learned to tune them out.

A company makes grandiose claims long before they’re  bending metal, and then run into some sort of impossible problem and that’s it, they’re done. You know, like EEStor.

So why am I writing about one now? Because this is Alcoa, and they’re on the road.

If this pans out, and that’s always a big if in battery tech, then basically the storage problem is done, for cars. There are several serious limitations, but it does neatly solve the major problem of providing long-distance driving.

But is this for real? Read on! (more…)

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