Solar Energy - Small vs Large Scale vs NIMBYism

 
  Carnot Chief Commissioner

I've become rather fascinated by energy policy and how it's bringing down successive governments and creating interesting conflicts between expanding Renewable energy, NIMBYism, and power bills.

A classic case in point:  A large solar farm near Camperdown of 6 SqKm being opposed by NIMBYs:
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-08-22/six-square-km-bookaar-solar-farm-plan-worries-locals/10138944

And a solar panel schemes that benefits home-owners and yet leaves renters paying big bills (Middle class welfare in action?):
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-08-17/millions-of-residents-locked-out-of-solar-benefit-to-power-bills/8813664

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/aug/19/victorian-labor-offers-half-priced-solar-panels-for-homeowners-in-124bn-pledge

I can see solar (and associated storage) being the way of the future given that to build or maintain coal power stations is probably more expensive than many renewable sources for electricity these days.  

Discuss.

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  Aaron Minister for Railways

Location: University of Adelaide SA
Large solar, even small solar is unreliable and useless for managing a network. Toss wind into that too.

Sun’s out 300MW no worries, a sniff of cloud and you’re -300MW and dimming lights.

I don’t think there’s a point in the world where more than half of the day receives meaningful solar insolation, and of the time when meaningful insolation is available not all of that time is useful.

At least large scale solar is usually sun tracking, roof top isn’t. We would be much better to ‘invest’ solar subsidy away from small ‘roof top’ installations and into tracking installations. Energy efficiency is only about useage, it must also be about collection.


If we are serious about ‘saving’ the planet by amending our energy mix, thorium is the only sensible answer.
  Donald Chief Commissioner

Location: Donald. Duck country.
From Terry McCrann:
For renewables to deliver 26 per cent of electricity in a year (using present day numbers), there will have to be something like 18GW to 20GW of installed (hydro, solar and wind) capacity to deliver, on average through the year, around 6GW. Because as you know, when the wind don’t blow … etc.
Now the wonderful news is that at times — when the wind does … etc etc — that could provide 100 per cent of demand across all the five states. If it coincided with the period of minimum demand from business and consumers, which currently runs around 18GW.
Now the somewhat less than wonderful news is that we will still need at least 35GW of real — coal and gas — generation, because peak demand in these states can top 33GW.
And if the wind ain’t blowing when it does …
do you really expect that building a power generation network of something like 50GW of total (real and nonsensical) generating capacity and how many Tesla and Snowy 2.0 big batteries — to meet demand that gets to only around 33GW maximum and can be as little as 18GW — can then deliver cheaper electricity?

No matter how much solar/wind etc you put into the system, you still need the minimum demand power supply from coal to cover any shortfall, and batteries will not suffice for long.   Therefore we are paying for twice the power we actually need.  

The push to increase the amount of solar/wind usually involves the Government assisting businesses/homeowners to do so, commonly known as subsidies.    If solar/wind was really cheaper then the Government would not have to persuade us with incentives, we would all be doing it.   How many people with solar panels received a subsidy and/or into the grid money? - Nearly everyone.   Even the latest grab for votes by Captain Dan of Victoriastan involved a 50% subsidy from his (our) pocket.
  Carnot Chief Commissioner

An interesting article in the ABC today.  I think that Coal will still be around for steel-making, but I can't see it being used for large scale power generation in the long-term:
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-09-03/angus-taylor-energy-minister-power-price-solution-curious/10188496
  michaelgm Deputy Commissioner

Not over concerned what the generating source is. The amount of fossil fuel we burn here pails in comparison to what we export, for burning OS.

Me. 5k/w roof top PV.
Bill Feb/May $100.70 sweet.
Bill May/Aug $456 WTF. And not a huge increase in consumption.

All high Energy appliances only are used when the sun is shining.
Appears that peak demand, it is write your own price.
Citing privitisation, lack of certainty on energy policy and profiteering, as the reasons.
  Carnot Chief Commissioner

Not over concerned what the generating source is. The amount of fossil fuel we burn here pails in comparison to what we export, for burning OS.

Me. 5k/w roof top PV.
Bill Feb/May $100.70 sweet.
Bill May/Aug $456 WTF. And not a huge increase in consumption.

All high Energy appliances only are used when the sun is shining.
Appears that peak demand, it is write your own price.
Citing privitisation, lack of certainty on energy policy and profiteering, as the reasons.
michaelgm
Your May-Aug bill is more than ours.  We have Solar/Gas Hot water and Gas central heating (I hate to see what our winter gas bill will be). Our Power bills rarely exceed $100 p.m, even in summer with split cycle A/C.
  DirtyBallast Chief Commissioner

Location: I was here first. You're only visiting.
An interesting article in the ABC today.  I think that Coal will still be around for steel-making, but I can't see it being used for large scale power generation in the long-term:
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-09-03/angus-taylor-energy-minister-power-price-solution-curious/10188496
Carnot
I also noticed that article this morning. I was thinking of resurrecting the coal/renewable thread to post the link there, but this one will do.

For those of us that are prepared to do our own research and keep ourselves in the loop with the latest developments regarding renewable energy, the article does not actually break any news.

For those that still blindly agree with the rhetoric from the conservatives and their sympathetic media outlets regarding the cost of renewables vs. coal, I can only guess that the article will be dismissed as a fantasy, rather than make an embarrassing admission of the facts.
  Radioman Chief Train Controller

Hello All,

1 / contrary to Aaron's assertion above, cloud does not stop a solar panel from generating power, it just generates less power, not no power at all . The reason for this is power is generated by light , so while cloud cover will reduce the solar panel's output , it is only darkness that stops it generating power .

2 / a coal fired power station, from dead cold , takes around four hours to generate steam for the turbines, this compares to approximately 20 minutes for a gas turbine , which by the way , is a land based aero jet engine type of gas turbine , similar in size to those used on jumbo and wide body jets.

If the coal fired power station boilers are warm, then around two hours is required before sufficient steam is generated.

Whilst coal fired power stations do provide a base load , it can be appreciated that there is a significant time lag, and fuel burn , before the steam turbines can generate a reliable stream of electricity.

This explains why many 19th and early 20th century power companies also ran a Tram network , to ensure that the excess power that was generated could earn revenue.

3 / (europes-leading-eco-centre-centre-alternative-technology-wales ) The Centre for Alternative Technology, Dyfed Valley, nr Machynlleth ,
( 3 miles north east of Machynlleth xGWR railway station ) Wales, UK, which opened in 1973 and was featured by Robyn Williams on the ABC Radio 3LO Science Show, Saturday 1230 -1330 at that time. This new village is located in a former quarry , and has been off grid, relying on alternative energy since 1974. West Wales has near constant rain , cloud cover most of the time, yet still generates electricity from solar panels and wind power . As it has been off grid for 44 years in a wet and cloudy location , I suggest that does demonstrate that off grid renewables for domestic and small scale commerce and industry is feasible in Australia.

Additionally, these days with the rapid advances in battery storage technology ( providing the battery pack is in a building away from the house , [ batteries can potentially explode ] ) , renewables for domestic off grid is a viable alternative .

4 / I agree that there are some industries that would require a heavy power supply , in which case power from the grid is still required, but a mix of renewables, storage technology, and gas turbine booster sets can collectively meet that demand , and the need for coal fired power stations is no longer as crucial as it once was. Add to this the continual development of low power appliances and low energy lighting , and there is even less need for a traditional coal fired power station. A bit like coal gas / town gas , now replaced by higher BTU and cleaner Natural Gas.

5 / I also fail to see why large outback solar farms are such a problem. They will still use the National Grid , their environmental impact compared to coal fired power stations is significantly less , and as demonstrated above will generate power whilst there is light , and large parts of outback Australia are not renowned for lacking in sunlight !

6 / For many steels, especially specialty steels , coking or metallurgical ( the fancy name ! ) coal will still be needed , but I suspect that while short term demand for steaming coal over the next decade will increase , I would anticipate that demand for steaming coal will then decline as alternative energy supplies increase.

7 / Despite the claims of the proponents of nuclear energy , the cost of building, reprocessing, storing , decommissioning and demolishing, and more storage , of the total nuclear fuel and power cycle is both prohibitively expensive and has long construction and long decommissioning times.

(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dounreay ) Dounreay Nuclear Reactor , west of Thurso ( Highland Railway ) was in service from 1955 to 1994 , and decommissioning will extend from 1998 to 2336 ( yes, 338 years compared to a life of 40 years ). Assuming the average lifespan to be 80 years , that is 4.225 life spans ! Or to put it another way, decommissioning will take 8.45 times the lifespan.

The reality of nuclear power stations is that for most countries ( not all ) who have built them , the real purpose was a nuclear weapons and nuclear powered submarine programmes . It should also be pointed out that when Britain denationalised the CEGB / Central Electricity Generating Board , nuclear power proved to be unsellable due to its higher operating costs than either the coal powered or hydro electric powered plants. Nuclear Power was eventually privatized by contract management and then a subsidised sale process. So much for the cheap nuclear power argument !

Regards, Radioman.
  RTT_Rules Dr Beeching

Location: Dubai UAE
(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dounreay ) Dounreay Nuclear Reactor , west of Thurso ( Highland Railway ) was in service from 1955 to 1994 , and decommissioning will extend from 1998 to 2336 ( yes, 338 years compared to a life of 40 years ). Assuming the average lifespan to be 80 years , that is 4.225 life spans ! Or to put it another way, decommissioning will take 8.45 times the lifespan.
Radioman
Hi,
You want to double check that reference with another source, basically it will NOT take 338 years to decommission. The site is expected to be available as a Brownfield site by 2036, NOT 2336 and if it was 2336, do you think it would be just a few billion Pound exercise? Hell, Chernobyl would be a house estate long before then.

Also remember Dounreay was built at the start of the nuclear age as a test facility and you can probably bet it wasn't built with longterm clean-up in mind.

Typically it appears that to decommission a closed Nuclear Power station is 50-60 years. Yes still a long time, basically 50% more than its operating life, but if done on the same complex location as future production that's not much different to some other processes.

Agree Nuclear power is not the cheap source that people think it is, but its basically CO2 free and providing base load power for 40 years.

Coal fired (and Nuc) power stations are slow to ramp up, but then again they are base load, not peaking so this issue is irrelevant, Combined cycle gas is also slow. Open cycle Gas Turbine is fast, but the price of the energy is horrific and people complain about their power bills now! They are good for stop gap short falls in the energy supply due to peak or short term failures elsewhere in the system. Basically the less of these the better.

The real problem we have today is not that RE won't step up to the plate in regards to price and availability and reliability in the future. Its that the too many on the RE proponent side have hood winked the population to think it can do it now or in next year or so. Meanwhile barely a wind farm or large scale solar is not built in Australia without some sort of subsidy. Hence we have aging and in many ways inefficient and increasingly less reliable coal power stations operating way beyond their capability or closing without a reliable and affordable replacement.

Realistically Australia should have built at least one final large scale black coal fire power station around 2000 to 3000MW to replace both Hazellwood and Liddel and to a lessor degree, Northern, although SA really needs 500-800MW of capacity it within their grid, not importing. The new coal power generation would be 25-30% cleaner than whats being replaced (likely more for Hazellwood) and provide price and availability reliability to the grid and more importantly certainty our large industrial users.

This would provide the country with another 10 years or so breathing space waiting for RE technology to catch up before taking on large scale base load replacement.

How long does it take to decommission a nuclear power plant?

Generally, sites must spend no longer than 50 years in SAFSTOR to allow up to 10 years for decontamination. The entire process must be completed within 60 years. In SAFSTOR, a nuclear plant is kept intact and placed in protective storage for an extended period of time.Aug 1, 2016

[color=#660099]Decommissioning Nuclear Power Plants - Nuclear Energy Institute
https://www.nei.org/resources/fact-sheets/decommissioning-nuclear-power-plants







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