Podcast

Willett Kempton: Combating Peak Oil with Wind and Smarter Electric Power

Saturday, January 8, 2011, 4:07 PM

We spend a lot of time on this site discussing the risks posed by Peak Oil. It's important to us that you understand the magnitude of our national/global predicament and take appropriate preparations.

But in addition to tracking the gathering stormclouds (of which there are many), our info scouting efforts also look for developments with potential to change the situation positively.

In the podcast below, Chris and Willett Kempton explore the potential of wind power to reduce the energy pinch threat posed by depleting fossil fuels. Dr. Kempton is an electrical engineering professor at the University of Delaware and director of the Center for Carbon-Free Power Integration. Turns out, while still early in the game, there's action going on in wind and electricity-management that offers real promise.

Click the play button below to listen to Chris’ interview with Willett Kempton:

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The interview covers:

  • The importance of electricity storage in making alternative energies viable, as they have fluctuating production (i.e., the wind doesn't always blow, nor the sun always shine)
  • Current options for increasing our energy output from wind
  • How much of our energy needs could be fulfilled by wind if we pursued it at a Manhattan-project scale (hint: It's more than you'd think)
  • Strategies for using electricity from wind (and other sources) to create liquid fuels
  • The promise of 'smart' technologies to optimize our consumption and conservation efforts

Some truly novel ideas come up, such as Willett's work around using electrical car fleets as a distributed electricity storage system - returning power from their batteries to the grid when the cars are fully charged and not in use.

As for Peak Oil, Willett agrees the threat is real: "If the population understood what the scientists understand," he says, we'd be fast-tracking moon-shot scale alternative energy infrastructure investments immediately.


Willett Kempton is Professor, College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and also Director, Center for Carbon-free Power Integration, at the University of Delaware.. He received a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Texas, Austin in 1977. He has done extensive research on social and policy aspects of energy use and energy efficiency.

His scholarly articles cover topics such as American citizens' understanding of global climate change, beliefs and behavior regarding home energy, international comparisons of citizens' and policymakers' environmental perspectives, energy efficiency policies, and factors which move citizens to environmental action. He has written one book on theoretical cognitive anthropology, edited three volumes on energy, and most recently coauthored "Environmental Values in American Culture" (1995), a study of Americans' environmental beliefs and values. Kempton has held research or teaching positions at Princeton University, Michigan State University, and the University of California campuses at Berkeley and Irvine, prior to joining the faculty at the University of Delaware in 1992.

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33 Comments

plato1965's picture
plato1965
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Re: Combating Peak Oil with Wind and Smarter Electric Power

at the moment renewable supply is trivial compared to potential efficiency savings.. "negawatts"

As the EROI diminishes.. that will become even more true.. a joule saved will be 2.. 5... 7.. 12 .. ++  joules earned...

the demand side is where "easy", RAPID gains are made.. especially where it involves liquid fuels.. ie transportation.

smart grid: making *full* use of capacity, staggering heavy but non-urgent loads like dishwashing. washing machine, tumble drying, car recharging, and water heating to make use of wasted capacity is a good thing (tm).

the supply side will take time... and I think smart nuclear (pebble bed, thorium ) is the only sane/obvious/practical transition strategy.., not perfect...  plenty of challenges/problems.. but scaleable, and efficient.

Using nuclear + tar sands for temporary oil is a better idea than wasting natural gas..  anywhere you need concentrated heat , nuclear is a huge win. And the smaller the scale, the bigger the win...  a simple mass produced reactor delivering hot water and electricity to 1000 homes would be worth it's weight in PM's.

Solar, wind.. are distractions / long term prospects IMO.. same as fusion.

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Re: Combating Peak Oil with Wind and Smarter Electric Power

Another fantastic interview Dr. M.,

As usual, your questions made all the difference.

Look out Puplava, Martenson is on fire! Laughing

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Arthur Robey
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Re: Combating Peak Oil with Wind and Smarter Electric Power

Got to get off to work!

Cold Fusion is now 63% replicable.

http://www.lenr-canr.org/

This has the potential to be a game changer, if we can work out the theory behind it. We have the practical skills but not the theory.

It seems as though the helium trapped in the lithosphere is a product of cold fusion, and that the reason the planet's core is hot is cold fusion.

One has to disengage the chatter of the left hemisphere to assimilate new information.

(See "The Master and his Emissary" on Amazon.)

http://www.amazon.com/Master-His-Emissary-Divided-Western/dp/030014878X/...

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Dorrian
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Re: Combating Peak Oil with Wind and Smarter Electric Power

Regarding LENR:

http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=4967330n&tag=related;photovideo
(60-Minutes-Clip about LENR, April 2009)


(Dr. Robert Duncan of the University of Missouri on LENR, May 2009. Dr. Duncan gives a very informative speech on LENR)

Just recently, Gerald Celente put LENR on his newest trends forecast. He said he expected an energy revolution from it, but he didn't tell the time frame. I think it was in a King World News interview where he mentioned it.

The question is: If LENR should become technological and commercial viable, what would that mean for our planet? Even more exponential population growth? I consider "Peak Fossil Energy" as both a threat and chance to shrink our world population to a sustainable level. But if LENR became reality, this would push everything to a completely new level.

So I am keeping an eye on LENR, that's for sure. :)

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Poet
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Compresed Air

Has anyone ever considered hooking wind turbines to pump air into compressed air storage tanks, which can then be used to power household appliance?

Some Amish have a lot of experience with using compressed air to power work tools (drills, lathes), blenders, washing machines, etc. Air cars are a proven technology - powered with compressed air.

With clean compressed air, you don't have to deal with chemical batteries or hazardous wastes disposal after the batteries are done, or rare earth minerals. The tanks act as storage for when the wind doesn't run, and can power dynamos to provide power and light.

Poet

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Re: Compresed Air

I belong to several science/altenative energy discussion forums where they discussed the pros/cons of such ideas.  apparently there is a pretty significant loss of energy in the transfer.  of course that doesn't matter if the energy is free, but the size of the tank vs payback is also not very good.

http://fieldlines.com/board/index.php/topic,135908.0.html

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Re: Combating Peak Oil with Wind and Smarter Electric Power

I think both solar and wind power should be used to produce hydrogen on site.

My thinking on this is as follows. When you save that electricity in a battery it 'leaks' away relatively quickly. If instead you used the electricity to create hydrogen onsite the the hydrogen could be stored indefinitely with very little loss. It could also be shipped across the counrty via hydrogen vehicles that don't have the heavy load issues that electric cars have, due to battery depletion. In other words you could use hydrogen in large trucks, something that 'electric' vehicles have a hard time with right now. Yes I know that electric/hydrogen conversion is not very efficient but the source is relatively free.

Any thoughts?

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Re: Combating Peak Oil with Wind and Smarter Electric Power

Johnny Oxygen wrote:

I think both solar and wind power should be used to produce hydrogen on site.

My thinking on this is as follows. When you save that electricity in a battery it 'leaks' away relatively quickly. If instead you used the electricity to create hydrogen onsite the the hydrogen could be stored indefinitely with very little loss.

I hate to tell you this....  but hydrogen atoms are so small they escape through the walls of any container, and the higher the pressure the faster it escapes!  This is one of the major hurdles of the so called "Hydrogen Economy".

If you're going to do this, then you'd have to use the H2 up pretty quick....

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Re: Combating Peak Oil with Wind and Smarter Electric Power

Maybe special adamatium tanks lined with kryptonite?

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Re: Combating Peak Oil with Wind and Smarter Electric Power

Here's an interesting email I received from a reader on the subject of wind turbines.  This is out of my depth on the subject, but I offer it as a starting point for conversation.  

Chris,

A bit more on wind turbines. I have spent quite a bit of time researching this over the years and have a couple of great articles which I can’t send to you at the moment because they are on another computer which had a hard drive problem and I am not smart enough in that area to transfer it over. Waiting on younger family hotshots to do it. Severe weather has a far greater effect on wind and solar than most people realize and this is because most people don’t understand the dynamics of a thunderstorm. I have visited the US four times and am familiar with your weather and your tornadoes and ice storms. Any decent sized thunderstorm any where in the world, but particularly in latitudes 10 to 40 degrees from the equator can have severe wind gusts, hail and lightning especially when triggered by heat and mountain uplift. When a storm gets a top above 40,000’ it generates strong up draughts and down bursts inside often exceeding 200 m.p.h. and can rise or grow at in excess of 6000’ per minute. Lightning can have a voltage above 50 billion volts and the temperature generated above 30,000 C. Here in Australia, in airline operations, I have seen thunderstorms with tops to 70,000’ – now they really are severe. In fact as an aside the highest thunderstorm ever recorded was 94,000’ at the bottom of the Gulf of Carpentaria in Queensland – this was verified by radar by a US Air Force aircraft flying from Guam to Amberley Air Force base.

They are finding now that gear boxes and bearings cannot stand the strain of the severe gusts and no matter what earthing material you place in the blade and tower, those temperatures and voltages do damage. The German insurance industry will not insure wind turbines unless the gear boxes are replaced every 5 years and they cost in excess of 20% of the total cost. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado state that they are seeing gearboxes fail in as little as three years and that email I sent before states that the six massive 5GW turbines offshore in Germany needed the gears boxes replaced after 2 months. What the designers don’t understand is that the forces on those blades are so great that no gear box can be designed to withstand those loads over time. A 3/5 GW turbine can have blades up to 400’ in diameter with a single blade weighing between 8-10 ton.

Above 55 m.p.h they need to be “feathered” that is moved parallel to the airflow to reduce drag and stress on the gear box and bearings – this is done mechanically with a hydraulic brake, but the problem that they don’t understand is that when a storm passes the wind veers 180 degrees, quite suddenly, as the wind east of the storm feeding it with moisture, is overtaken by the storm’s own speed and direction of travel. This is quite violent and I have seen it with storms crossing an aerodrome – the result is the wind has not only changed direction suddenly, there can be downbursts under the cell with the wind coming from all directions. No wonder the blades are stressed and fracture or fail under theses conditions, with aerodynamic stress, load stress, torque stress and about three other forces all in action together. Another consideration is that over time all materials having significant mass and which rotate, are subject to centrifugal force, and this causes the mass of the atomic structures to migrate outwards. This is why there are limits to the size of flywheels and why large helicopter blades have to balanced every six months and in opposite pairs. Aircraft propellers have to be overhauled every 2000 hours. Can you start to see the problem of a large wind turbine sitting high on a ridge in an exposed location being subjected to these dangers and why they fail.

Above 42C most turbines have to shut down because of gearbox overheating and below –15C, freezing problems cause a similar limitation. Any ice or snow accumulation would cause out of balances problems as do bird droppings, and pitting and damage by rain, hail and dust. Off shore the winds are stronger, salt water is corrosive and impossible to prevent entering electrical equipment over time. Marine growth on structures, hurricanes and big seas are other issues not fully appreciated. The cost of maintenance can be up to 10 times higher because of weather limitations on boats and helicopters and finding days with calm winds – they are dangerous places to work. One link which I will send shows a photo of a wind turbine in Germany with the tower lying sideways on the ground and the whole concrete base pulled clean out of the ground as well as lightning damage and stress fractures to blades and gear box wear. Another is a good article by J.K Halkema a Dutch electrical engineer with much experience on European grids and high voltage switching.

That’s enough for now.

Cheers

Any thoughts?  Seems like some legitimate concerns there to me.

One of my biggest concerns is that there is not yet, even remotely close to being done yet, a single manufacturing process that runs, beginning to end, just on electricity.

And by "beginning to end" I mean from making the mining vehicles that mine the ore that feeds the smelters that were built from electrically run plants that turn out the steel that's used to build the turbines, etc and so forth, including all the necessary components and the feeding and housing of the workers at those plants.

We are a long, long way from a cradle to grave mfg processes for alternative energy devices that  run on electricity.

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Re: Combating Peak Oil with Wind and Smarter Electric Power

cmartenson wrote:
One of my biggest concerns is that there is not yet, even remotely close to being done yet, a single manufacturing process that runs, beginning to end, just on electricity.

But why would this be necessary?  There are currently viable methods to produce alternative liquid fuels (Amyris, LS9,AltraBiofuels,...) that can be used to power heavy equipment for mining, airplanes, locomotives, etc.  It's just that they may not be scalable to personal transportation, and not in the time frame pressures from peak oil will require.  This however does not mean that we have to have all manufacturing or even shipping being done with electricity. 

My best guess is that fuels will become more expensive forcing reduced usage or transition to alternatives.  Those tasks deemed most important will get the more limited difficult to replace fuels (oil, bio-fuels etc) while personal transportation will be required to transition to electricity or fuel use being eliminated altogether (walking,bicycles, etc).

I agree we are in for some significant pain while we transition to the "new normal" and figure out what is "worth doing" and what was a luxury that we can no longer afford, but I don't see us having a "collapse" where we suddenly have no way to move food around, it will just mean fewer luxury/non-neccessities for everyone.

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Re: Combating Peak Oil with Wind and Smarter Electric Power

There's a big heated debate in a small town not far from me over the installation of wind towers near residential neighborhoods. These are BIG towers. 480 feet tall. One thing I never thought of is shadow flicker, where the blades cut through the sunlight, causing a flicker. That would be annoying to me. I have heard about the noises associated with the turbines rotating.

I do know living in an elevated area myself that the wind roars pretty good during and after storms so certainly some energy can be created with wind. But it's not any easy solution by any means.

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Re: Combating Peak Oil with Wind and Smarter Electric Power

Damnthematrix wrote:

I hate to tell you this....  but hydrogen atoms are so small they escape through the walls of any container, and the higher the pressure the faster it escapes!  This is one of the major hurdles of the so called "Hydrogen Economy".

If you're going to do this, then you'd have to use the H2 up pretty quick....

The process you are referring to is called chemisorption and occurs due to a chemical reaction between the metals in the container wall and the H2 bond. Losses of hydrogen due to this process are typically measured at >1-2%/year, hardly enough to dismiss this possibility.

TechGuy's picture
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Re: Comments: Gear boxes, Storage, Hydrogen & Cold Fusion

1. Gear boxes on Wind Turbines

They are going away to be replaced with direct drive generator heads, that no longer need a gear box to adust the speed. This is to eliminate maintaince and weight. The new generator head are 8 to 10 feet and diameter and and made of many poles so that can produce electricity at very low rotation speeds.

2. Storage

The only real economic electricity storage is Pumped hydrostorage. You need systems capable of storing peta to exajoules of energy. It would be very expensive to use chemical batteries to storage that amount of energy and it would also require mountain size amounts of heavymetals/rare-earth elements to build sufficient chemical storage systems. The  problem with pump storage is the most of the land areas that have the correct resources (large potential energy drop for gravity fed hydroturbines, abundant water to pump into storage area, etc) have already been developed. In many regions, water is in short supply which also compounds the problem, as water stored in a lake for hydropower completes with the supply for drinking water  and agraculture use. Already we see in some places such as the US west where the water taps for agraculture have been turned off, just to meet the increasing water demands for the major cities. In addition, demand for water will rise even future as the midwest aquifiers begin to deplent in the next decade.

3. Hydrogen

Its not a practical grid size solution. Currently there are two ways to make use of Hydrogen in chemical processes; Combustion and fuel cells. At best Combusion is 40% efficient in converting chemical energy into electricity. consider that much of the heat generated is loss, as no turbine is 100% efficient, nor is any generator head 100% efficient. While fuel cells are much more energy efficient in converting hydrogen into electricity is comes with a very high construction cost and most fuel cell stacks need to be rebuilt every 5K to 20K hours.  In addition electrolysis is only 85% effecient in converting electricity into hydrogen,

4. Cold Fusion.

While cold fusion does happen, it will never produce sufficient qualities of energy to be useful. It will take a large amount of resources just to produce a handful of watts using cold fusion.  Its about has practical as pushing your own car by hand  for transportation.

I am concluding with two other major issues not discussed:

1. Lack of proper infrastructure to transistion from oil/gas to electricity.

The US and the rest of develop world does not have a grid capable of transporting the ~300 exajoules consumed by the combustion of oil and gas every year. Consider how much new high power power lines would be needed to convert every home and building to be heated by electricity instead of oil and natural gas. Then add in the additional demand for transportation. We would need to have high voltage lines everywhere just to meet demand.

2. Lack of capital, time and energy resources replace 140 years of hydrocarbon investments and over-population.

It has take us 140 years to build all of the infrastructure we have today, using very cheap hydrocarbon resources. The day of cheap hydrocarbons is over. and we can barely maintain the existing infrastructure. There is simplity insufficient resources and capital to reconstruct our infrastructure to provide a hydrocarbon limited economy.

The bottom line is the world has too many people completing for declining resources. Consider how long hydrocarbons would have lasted had our population been much smaller. Imagine if the world population had been capped below a billion people. We would have abundant hydrocarbon resources for at least 500 years, and the amount of pollution produced would have been much more tolerable. Even if by some miracle, energy production constraints were resolved, the growing population will still lead to major resource problems, as we loose our ability to provide non-energy resource to meet the growing population. Soon or later one major nation will get pissed off and go to war to take the resources it needs to survive.

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Re: Combating Peak Oil with Wind and Smarter Electric Power

How about a two dollar a gallon gas tax. 1st; proceeds go to alternative energy R&D (by law no way for the money to be used elsewhere). 2nd; behavior will change rapidly.

Yes, I know it is a pipe dream.

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Re: Combating Peak Oil with Wind and Smarter Electric Power

 Rebutting the idea that simply building a lot of wind towers over a wide enough area will result in load stabilization is the experience of Germany as explained by wind critic J. A. Halkema:

This was a fascinating paper to read, I definitely have a few more questions about wind power now.  It was sent to me by a reader as a PDF, but the title is "Wind energy facts and fiction:  A half truth is a whole lie" and the author is an electrical engineer with a lifetime of experience in grid components.

If wind towers were going up in my neighborhood, I'd want this background.

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Re: Combating Peak Oil with Wind and Smarter Electric Power

A lot of great ideas there, and I really don't want to diss Prof Kempton or the interview, but one needs to keep this whole electric car / smart grid thing in perspective.  While listening to the interview I kept hearing James Howard Kunstler in my head saying "techno-rapture...sustaining the unsustainable...keeping the cars running by any means other than oil..."

At the end of the day, cars and even the electric grid are not essential to life.  They are the icing on the cake of civilization.  The Roman, British and Aztec Empires all produced highly complex civilizations in which there were no cars and no electric grid.  Food and water are, however, essential to life, and if we run into major problems with food and water in the 21st century (as seems likely) then we probably won't care whether or not we have a smart grid powered by smart electric cars.  

www.postpeakmedicine.com

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Re: Combating Peak Oil with Wind and Smarter Electric Power

I work in the business of short term (1-24 hour) forecasting wind power for the purpose of helping the electric grid management authorities deal with the large amount of wind power in places such as Texas, California and the Pacific Northwest.  It's worthwhile to contrast Texas with one of the European countries (Spain) to get some perspective.

In the U.S. the primary incentive for wind power developers is to place their wind farm where the best resource is located (where the annual average capacity factor will be highest).  For this reason many of the wind farms are packed into small regions of strong winds so that they all tend to be at full production (or zero production) at the same time.  For example, about 2/3 of the over 9000 MW of wind power capacity in Texas on the independent electric grid managed by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) is within an approximately 150 km diameter region near Sweetwater in west central Texas.  Because of this, there are frequent swings between near full capacity and near zero capacity - a large challenge both for ERCOT and for me and my coworkers who must somehow figure out how to forecast the hourly (or even 15-minute) averaged wind speed within about 2 mph and accurately predict rapid changes due to cold fronts, thunderstorms and other features that can effect many of the closely packed wind farms at once.  This is making it more difficult for ERCOT to manage the grid as the portion of energy supplied by wind approaches about 10%.  Furthermore, the wind farms were built before the transmission infrastructure was developed to handle all farms at full capacity.  Each time the wind blows hard near Sweetwater (a frequent occurrence), some of the wind farms are required by ERCOT to turn some turbine blades into the wind and essentially dump up to about 3000 MW of power. 

Spain has about 16000 MW of capacity spread out in small wind farms over the entire country (about 900 km from east to west and north to south).  Yes, they actually thought through the grid management process early in the game and created the proper incentives for a distributed network.  They have never been at over 70% of capacity due to the distributed nature of their wind farms.  The whole country never experiences strong winds all at once.  While there is definitely too much variability to run the country entirely on wind without storage, the lower variability combined with lower forecast errors (since positive error in one region have a significant likelihood of being offset by negative errors in another) make it reasonable to manage the grid even with 20 or 30% of power coming from wind.

If we in the U.S.A. could find a way to create a national electric grid, our very large land area would mitigate power swings and allow us to use as much or perhaps even a bit more wind than Spain.  But that would require a huge amount of copper for the transmission lines, tremendous political will to acquire the rights of way, and a gargantuan amount of capital to build.  Even then there would be times, especially in the summer, when the wind is not blowing very strongly anywhere.  Of course, we could throw in some solar to run all of the air conditioners (or learn to live in the heat again), a bit of storage, power from waves, tides and currents, and a heap of willingness to get by on less electricity and we just might squeak by.  

There are all sorts of potential problems though - like a mass northward migration when air conditioning becomes too expensive for many and what happens to the climate of the northeast U.S. and western Europe if we put too many turbines in the Gulf Stream and so on ...

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Re: Combating Peak Oil with Wind and Smarter Electric Power

We have been at times amazingly cleaver with technology, and I have not doubts that we will come up with some amazing alternatives that we will be glad to have. Someone mentioned having to have energy to run our tumble dryers and dishwashers. Any new fuels and energy sources need to be matched with conservation where ever possible. Clothes lines need to be the fashionable sign of enlightenment. Also, there is a the huge issue of entitlement and resources. When the USA is 5% of the world  and uses 25% of the energy (not exact figures but useful for argument), we USers need to look at our consumption.

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Re: Combating Peak Oil with Wind and Smarter Electric Power

I am graduating in May as a Mechanical Engineer with a specialization in Energy Systems and am employed in the industry already before graduation in specifically industrial/power effeciency.

In my humble opinion what we need is not a magical box of energy production, but a magical box of energy storage.  Wind requires conventional plants to run at standby to pickup for the slack of wind, which means barely 20% effective capacity can be considered added and very little conventional plants displaced.   If we could store and retrieve power on a large scale AND transmit then those issues would be easily dealt with.  People shouldn't be afraid of base line conventional power plants.  The well oiled ones with 48 hour startup times that run for months or years without turning off at near thermodynamic limits with reheat and steam sharing programs.

People need to be afraid of what demand stresses do to the grid and what costly low effeciency short notice power solutions are used to meet those demands.

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Re: Combating Peak Oil with Wind and Smarter Electric Power

FNKRoue wrote:

In my humble opinion what we need is not a magical box of energy production, but a magical box of energy storage.  Wind requires conventional plants to run at standby to pickup for the slack of wind, which means barely 20% effective capacity can be considered added and very little conventional plants displaced.   If we could store and retrieve power on a large scale AND transmit then those issues would be easily dealt with. 

I agree that storage is the best way to solve the problem.  However current options are limited and expensive.  Hopefully that will change.  Developing a network of geographically diverse wind farms connected by an electric grid robust enough to move lots of power from one part of the grid to another can also make a difference.  Statistics tells us that short term wind power production forecasts for such networks will tend to have much lower errors than those for groups of wind farms packed closely together since forecast errors of widely separated wind farms are more likely to be of the opposite sign, hence canceling each other.  With smaller forecast errors, much less spinning reserve (standby power) will be required.  Because of it's short spinup time, natural gas usually plays the backup role for wind power.  This will free up natural gas for other uses.  The biggest obstacle to this approach is the time and expense required to develop both the wind farms and the transmission lines.

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Re: Combating Peak Oil with Wind and Smarter Electric Power

FNKRoue wrote:
In my humble opinion what we need is not a magical box of energy production, but a magical box of energy storage.

Here is one possible solution in the future, from Bloom:

Bloom wrote:
Hydrogen Production: Bloom's technology, with its NASA roots, can be used to generate electricity and hydrogen. Coupled with intermittent renewable resources like solar or wind, Bloom’s future systems will produce and store hydrogen to enable a 24 hour renewable solution and provide a distributed hydrogen fueling infrastructure for hydrogen powered vehicles.

Disclosure: I'm invested in Bloom.

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Re: Combating Peak Oil with Wind and Smarter Electric Power

Oil is a great energy source because it stores and transports so well -it's essentially stored solar energy.  Unfortunately it takes thousands of years to store up what is burned in seconds, as you all know.

With less available in the future maybe we'll have to reduce our expectations about using all we want whenever we want to using energy at certain times when its available.

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Re: Combating Peak Oil with Wind and Smarter Electric Power

Please post a transcript for hearing-impaired users.

Thank you,
- Andrea

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Re: Combating Peak Oil with Wind and Smarter Electric Power

Anyone interested in wind power needs to check out the Windwing. I my humble opinion the best idea I've seen for generating power from wind or water.

http://www.w2energycorp.com/

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Re: Combating Peak Oil with Wind and Smarter Electric Power

Chris, you've got to be kidding me. Everyone knows that wind and solar power cannot supply the peak demands put upon our grid during the hot summer, etc., and add to that commercial usage. They are a bogus operation looking to get a free ride by installing a high maintenance and high failure-rate "Rube Goldberg" system that will keep bleeding the public dry. Belgium and Holland invested heavily in wind and solar years ago, and failed.  They had the highest electric rates in all of Europe, because so very little power is produced in the face of high demand, and the system requires too much repair and maintenance. Technology has not made any great advances since then, and storing energy is just a Rube Goldberg to keep a lot of people on the payroll.  Also, I definitely find it offensive that windmills have been killing birds by the hundreds, and they won't use vertical-axis windmills to prevent such an occurrence. Vertical-axis windmills would stand a much better chance at survival during storms and high winds also.  Let's face it, wind and solar are a rip-off. We must follow France's lead and go with nuclear. There has been great advances in nuclear technology since its demise in the U.S. over 30 years ago. We need a system that won't fail us when the chips are down, and that is nuclear. Together with nuclear, we must also implement LaRouche's NAWAPA project now (larouchepac.com) in order to leave future generations a world that can make use of its wastelands and realize a greater potential economically for the betterment of humanity around the world. If you are not aware of the project (originally drawn-up in the 50's I believe), then please check out the website and join us if you agree. If not, then please explain why.

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worldtrav
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Re: Combating Peak Oil with Wind and Smarter Electric Power

Yes, I can second that.  As someone that works in the refining business, I can tell that H2 is a slippery little molecule.  Flanges that are tight enough for N2 can leak steadily when the atmosphere inside the line is switched to H2.  I foresee significant losses to leaks in the H2 economy where there are supposed to be H2 filling stations and distribution networks all over the place. 

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worldtrav
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Re: Combating Peak Oil with Wind and Smarter Electric Power

His comments make sense and have the ring of hard won experience.  Here's to "windpower 2.0"...http://www.kitegen.com/index_en.html

I'd like to be an early investor in this one.  It seems to have real potential to solve many of the issues raised above.  I don't know if the kites will have a long life, but the EROEI should be so much better having the heavy equipment based on the ground and the kite at much higher altitudes. 

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Frankshay
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Re: Combating Peak Oil with Wind and Smarter Electric Power

To confirm what DTM says: hydrogen is the most mobile element in the universe and it leaks away very quickly.  Modern batteries have very low self-discharge rates and are the best way to store energy for transportation use at this time.  Another possible usage is to create NH3 (ammonia) which can be used as a substitute fuel for transportation, particularly for far-offshore wind turbines.

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Frankshay
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Re: Compresed Air

Yes.  TXU and Shell have announced a 3,000 MW wind farm in Briscoe County, Texas which will use compressed air storage.  Air will be compressed when demand is low (typically at night), stored in old mines and fed into gas turbines when needed.  This will reduce gas consumption by an estimated 50%.  Other storage techniques include flow batteries and Vehicle-to-Grid (where batteries in plug-in hybrids are used to supply peak demand when the vehicle is parked.)

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Frankshay
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Re: Combating Peak Oil with Wind and Smarter Electric Power

JBC235: you have got to be kidding me!  Photovoltaics (PV) are totally passive - absolutely no maintenance at all.  They generate maximum output when the sun is shining, which is exactly when air conditioners are run hardest.  There are thousands of large wind turbines in use throughout the world and while some failures occur in any type of technology they can and do generate large amounts of electricity very cost effectively.

I agree that nuclear is still very attractive but large plants just are not cost effective.  No one will tie-up billions of dollars for ten years before generating any revenue.  A potential game-changer is smaller, community sized, factory manufactured and fueled nuclear generating units (typically 20-100MW).  See http://www.hyperionpowergeneration.com/ for an example.  I hold out high hope for this type of unit.

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dave jr
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Re: Combating Peak Oil with Wind and Smarter Electric Power

"People need to be afraid of what demand stresses do to the grid and what costly low effeciency short notice power solutions are used to meet those demands."

That is very true, and renewables only make that problem worse.

I propose an electricity "free market" as opposed to a "smart grid". The only thing required of the generators is to multiplex or piggyback a signal onto the grid. The signal transmitted is the current bid price ($/KwH) for electricity. The end user would have an inexpensive device that reads the price and has a programable timer to turn on/off appliances or machines based on the current price. For example; clothes washers could be loaded and programmed to come on at lowest cost (2:00am?), refrigerators could freeze a frost pak at night and use it to cool the box during peak, electric car charging, etc. Eventually these devices would be built into common appliances as standard. Also, hobby generators could read the price to know when to feed into the grid during high demand (highest pay). Some power intensive factories might decide to run shifts at night and close down during peak load.

This, I believe would do the most to smooth the load. As always, free markets work best.

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Damnthematrix
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Re: Combating Peak Oil with Wind and Smarter Electric Power

http://www.aspousa.org/index.php/2011/01/twip-fails-to-warn-of-a-18-mbd-supply-shortfall/

TWIP Fails to Warn of a 1.8 mb/d Supply Shortfall

by Bill James

January 24, 2011

Mission failure. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) is funded by American taxpayers to warn about energy issues. Every Wednesday the EIA publishes This Week in Petroleum (TWIP). The failure to warn is highlighted in the Jan 12, 2011, TWIP:

“EIA expects a continued tightening of world oil markets over the next two years. World oil consumption grows by an average of 1.5 million barrels per day (bbl/d) each year while the growth in supply from non-Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (non-OPEC) countries averages less than 0.1 million bbl/d. Consequently, EIA expects the market will rely on both inventories and significant increases in production of crude oil and non-crude liquids by OPEC to meet world demand growth.”

The TWIP notes that demand for oil will grow by 3 million bbl/d over the next two years but there is no supply risk because EIA “expects” OPEC to fill in the need. That is like being lost in a desert and saying that you will be hungry and thirsty at 6 PM so you “expect” the pizza delivery company will find you. Oh, and you will need to borrow money from China to pay for the meal.

EIA’s own data shows how absurd their “expectation” is.

OPEC’s oil production between 2004 and 2010 averaged about 30.5 million bbl/d; supply growth in response to price increases from $40-$140 per barrel was only about 0.6 million bbl/d. Add to this International Energy Agency (IEA) reports that existing oil fields are depleting at 6.8 percent per year (or about 2 million bbl/d). Even if OPEC can overcome depletion rates and increase production to their previous high average of 30.5 million bbl/d, demand will exceed supply by 1.8 million bbl/d. The 2007 increase in production required President Bush to go and beg the Saudis to step up their output. What assurances does EIA have from OPEC? If the latter cannot provide declarations then EIA should be warning of supply shortfalls.

EIA and IEA have an incredible record of failing to warn the American people about risks of higher oil prices and supply shortfalls. Following are graphs from the Dallas Fed and ASPO on EIA and IEA repeated underestimation of price increases and overestimation of supply.

Life requires energy: less affordable energy, less life. Failure to warn of higher oil prices resulted in policies that encouraged home ownership with “drive to qualify.” As gas prices increased from $1.45 in 2002 to $2.92 in 2006, American families lost $2,000 per year of disposable income. More and more families were forced to choose between paying for their commute or their mortgage. Foreclosures collapsed the banking system, housing market, and jobs.

There are alternatives, but they will take time to build. China’s economy is growing at $90 a barrel oil because they have 100-plus million electric motor scooters so coal can be used as a transportation fuel.

Chinese cities are bikeable. Europe has trains. The Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) network in Morgantown, WV, has delivered 110 million oil-free, injury-free passenger miles since being built as a solution to the 1973 Oil Embargo. The solution is self-reliance.

US policies over the last 50 years have caused the loss of thousands of miles of railroads and a monolithic dependence on a single source of energy 65 percent outside our control that we must borrow from China to buy.

Policies have created oil’s Potato Famine potential. Instead of warning of supply shortfalls and much higher prices, EIA says there is no need to innovate our infrastructure because we “expect” OPEC will save us.

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