jump to navigation

LED lighting April 23, 2015

Posted by Maury Markowitz in power grid.
Tags: ,
1 comment so far
Buy some

Buy some, trust me.

I thought I’d put up a little post about my latest power bill.

Now that you’re all hanging on the edge of your seat…

(more…)

Renewable growth in the US: 1, 2, 3 March 14, 2015

Posted by Maury Markowitz in power grid.
Tags: ,
add a comment
image of two wind turbines in China

They’re popping up like weeds!

Three reports that came out about the same time highlight the dramatic changes to the US power mix which is going on largely without comment outside the nerdy circles (like this one).

The long and short is this: wind power in the US will double to about 10% in the next five years, and make up something like 35% of the US grid by around 2050. That’s fast, but solar is going in ever faster, outpacing wind. Coal is disappearing, while gas turbines take up its place.

As always, this is really about cost. Wind turbines and gas plants are far, far less expensive than any non-hydro conventional source. PV isn’t that far behind. Coal plants are actually more expensive than any of these, nuclear even more. And that, basically, is that.

(more…)

Future grid: energy and transport September 16, 2014

Posted by Maury Markowitz in power grid.
Tags: , , ,
add a comment

Do not open the door

I was watching the fairly silly Extant last night and saw a bit of tech that caught my eye; it was a burner cell-phone powered by a chemical reaction you started by twisting it like a glo-stick. It’s a little throwaway prop that I just love.

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 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!”

(more…)

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

Posted by Maury Markowitz in power grid, solar.
Tags: , , ,
add a comment

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.

(more…)

The tangible intangibles July 20, 2012

Posted by Maury Markowitz in power grid, solar.
Tags: ,
add a comment

One of the oft-used arguments by the renewables industry, and especially solar PV, is that there are all sorts of spin-off benefits you get by distributing your generation. For instance, if everyone generates their own power and just passes it around the block, you don’t need to build out as much long-distance power transmission. But how much are these effects really worth? That’s where the hand-waving begins…

No longer. In the wonderfully titled “Technical Potential for Local Distributed Photovoltaics in California: Preliminary Assessment“, the California Public Utilities Commission has figured all of this out. Generally, its good news all around.

(more…)

Man bites Fox October 17, 2011

Posted by Maury Markowitz in balonium, power grid.
Tags:
add a comment

The 4th Estate was all excited today by this report, which claims that Ontario power prices are going to go up $4,000 because of wind and solar. Wow, scary stuff! I wonder why no one picked up on this before the election!?

Oh wait, they did. In fact, one of the paper’s two authors wrote an opinion piece about it in the National Post two weeks ago, three days before the election. Odd, then, that the papers are dragging this up now, especially when you consider everyone’s talking about it like it’s news. And people complain the media forgets stories too quickly?

Sadly the actual paper they wrote is hidden behind a $25 paywall, so I’m sure no one reporting on it today has actually read it. But that’s OK, because whenever a paper is preceded by it’s press release, you know it’s gotta be good. So looking over the co-author’s piece in the Post, I quickly came across this tired old bromide:

For example, the ministry did not adequately account for the fact that wind and solar require backup fossil-fuel generation to ensure no blackouts or brownouts occur.

*sigh*

(more…)