Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Renewable problems

As an electrician, I am involved in the Photovoltaic (PV) portion of the renewable enegergy industry. But the idea that we are going to be able to seamlessly change over to renewable energy sources without making large changes to the economic patterns of our economy, and general lifestyle, are highly problematic.
An example:
Lewellyne King, Oil Price, 2 December 2013 (hat tip: NC)
Good intentions have also had their impact. The European Commission has pushed renewable energy and subsidized these at the cost of others. The result is imperfect markets and, more important, imperfectly engineered systems.
Germany and other countries are dealing with what is called “loop flow” – when the renewables aren't performing, either because the wind has dropped or the sun has set, fossil fuels plants have to be activated. This means that renewable systems are often shadowed by old-fashioned gas and coal generation that has to be built, but which isn't counted toward the cost of the renewable generation.
With increasing use of wind, which is the most advanced renewable, the problem of loop flow is increased, pushing up the price of electricity. Germany is badly affected and the problem is getting worse because it heavily committed to wind after abandoning nuclear, following the Fukusima-Daiichi accident in Japan.


PioneerPreppy said...

Isn't actual maintenance and upkeep costs much higher for alternative sources? With so many small collectors I would think upkeep would be a constant battle.

Mayberry said...

The whole "grid" is perhaps one of the greatest scams ever pulled. Well, second maybe to central banking and fiat currency... Distributed generation is the way to go, regardless of what form that generation might be. But that's too much like (GASP!) freedom...

russell1200 said...

Pioneer: My guess is that is dependent on the size of the plant. How you would actually do affordable service on a small home rooftop unit's inverter is somewhat beyond me. When you get to the big multi-megawatt solar sites with few movable parts outside of the inverter, it might be cheaper.

Mayberry: my understanding is that it was elevators in the large cities that started that trend. I don't know if I would call that a scam. The decentralized plants have never completely gone away, but like the small renewable sites, tend to be very expensive.

Having worth with homeowner owned generator systems, see comment above on rooftop inverters.