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Is Storage Necessary For Renewable Energy? 442

Posted by samzenpus
from the on-the-fly dept.
mdsolar writes Physicist and energy expert Amory Lovins, chief scientist at The Rocky Mountain Institute, recently released a video in which he claims that renewable energy can meet all of our energy needs without the need for a fossil fuel or nuclear baseload generation. There's nothing unusual about that — many people have made that claim — but he also suggests that this can be done without a lot of grid-level storage. Instead, Lovins describes a "choreography" between supply and demand, using predictive computer models models to anticipate production and consumption, and intelligent routing to deliver power where it's needed. This "energy dance," combined with advances in energy efficiency, will allow us to meet all of our energy needs without sacrificing reliability.
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Is Storage Necessary For Renewable Energy?

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  • Lovins is a crank (Score:5, Informative)

    by Mike Greaves (1236) on Sunday August 17, 2014 @03:29PM (#47690209) Homepage

    Never worked as an academic physicist, never even completed a degree apparently.
    Never worked in the power industry.
    Never manufactured EE Equipment.

    Nevertheless knows how to power the world?

  • Re:Expert?? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Rhywden (1940872) on Sunday August 17, 2014 @03:30PM (#47690223)

    Well said. He also forgets that we already have problems with failover and unexpected losses of transmission lines which lead to blackouts.

    I mean, one could probably design a system which works as he proposes - however, this would almost certainly mean a complete revamp of the existing electrical grid.

    At which point investing in storage technology and facilities will be the cheaper and more reliable solution.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 17, 2014 @03:36PM (#47690259)

    Read these.
    Two papers. one over 4years and one over the following 2years (the 2nd was actually for a period with abnormally higher winds)

    http://www.jmt.org/assets/report_analysis%20uk%20wind_syoung.pdf

    http://docs.wind-watch.org/Partington_UK-2011-12-wind-generation%E2%80%93analysis.pdf

    In windy years such as 2011 and 2012 turbines can, on average, produce over 30%
    of their rated capacity, but this is certainly not the case every year.

      The assumption that the wind is blowing somewhere in the UK at any given time is, in
    practical terms, false: there are regular periods when there is not enough wind to
    contribute to any meaningful power generation.

      Periods of low wind are so frequent that wind turbines cannot be relied on as a steady
    source of power, even given two-fold increase in installed capacity over the period
    studied. Wind turbines must be backed up by the equivalent capacity of conventional
    fossil-fired p

  • Re:Expert?? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Smidge204 (605297) on Sunday August 17, 2014 @04:14PM (#47690435) Journal

    He completely ignores the importance of local load differences, and seems to assume there is a loss-less, instantaneous transfer of energy across the national grid, both transmission and distribution channels, with no limitations.

    Does he? His only claim here is that both supply and demand can be predicted, and that these can be choreographed to optimize utilization. He mentions that current power generation technologies are not available 100% of the time and proposes that the predictable variability of renewable power would be functionally no different. Nowhere does his proposal require loss-less, instantaneous, unlimited transmission of power.

    He also doesn't get that even at a local level things like AC compressors are already averaged out and that delaying the timing of starts really makes almost no difference at the neighborhood level, much less a town level.

    How are, for example, all of the AC units in a particular neighborhood "averaged out"? That makes no sense. There is no communication between these units. It's also not a matter of delaying the start times, it's a matter of remotely disabling them entirely - across entire neighborhoods - to shave peak demands.

    Its nice to completely ignore realities like overall cost.

    So what ARE those costs, versus the cost of business as usual? Just because the article doesn't go into that kind of depth does not mean it hasn't been considered at all.

    Its nice to not realize that industrial areas have a significantly different profile than urban areas, and that rural areas are vastly different.

    Largely Irrelevant here; Of course different regions are going to have different characteristics, but you can still model and predict the behaviors of each region and the system as a whole. Other countries manage to do it, and there's no reason the US can't do it as well.

    Its nice to call yourself and energy expert and get submitted to slashdot by those that believe you just because they want to, or because you fall in line with their agenda.

    It's also nice to rant about things you don't agree with while not providing any of the expertise you criticize others for claiming.

    Credible experts are people who understand what they know, and what they don't know.

    Unlike, say, Slashdot users who of course are experts in everything...
    =Smidge=

  • Re:Expert?? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Fotis Georgatos (3006465) on Sunday August 17, 2014 @05:41PM (#47690865)
    bah. Engineering is about being able to tell somebody that, say, a bridge can be built in X days, bearing Y load of such and such type, endure for Z years at a cost $$$ AND be able to explain that we actually don't have analytical equations for all the physics that relate to it. Engineering is about taking responsibility in delivering the collected knowledge about technical systems of the past, for addressing current and future needs. As an engineer, it is nowhere written that you grasp the whole physics about a technical system, although you are still held accountable for its performance - as a minimum, to explain observed behavior.
  • Re:Expert?? (Score:4, Informative)

    by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojo@@@world3...net> on Sunday August 17, 2014 @06:04PM (#47690987) Homepage

    It would require smart 'everything'

    Not at all. It just requires enough smart equipment to cope with whatever the variation in supply is. Even on an entirely renewable grid there will still be a lot of base load available, from non-intermittent sources like hydro and from the minimum output of variable sources like wind. If you have enough turbines the wind is always blowing somewhere, and the overall output of the entire fleet never drops below some predictable level.

    Also note that he isn't say "no storage", just no grid level storage. House pack batteries and EVs, even small local pumped storage will be available.

    I'm not saying this is a desirable state of affairs, merely possible. In practice it would make a lot of sense to have grid level storage.

  • Keynote speaker (Score:4, Informative)

    by mdsolar (1045926) on Sunday August 17, 2014 @06:06PM (#47691001) Homepage Journal
    The American Physical Society, http://www.aps.org/units/fps/m... [aps.org] Association of Energy Engineers http://www.aeecenter.org/i4a/p... [aeecenter.org] and the Annual Appalachian Energy Summit http://www.news.appstate.edu/2... [appstate.edu] all seem happy to have Lovins as a Keynote speaker. Guess claims he is not an expert are ignored by these groups.
  • Re:Funny (Score:4, Informative)

    by mdsolar (1045926) on Sunday August 17, 2014 @06:13PM (#47691047) Homepage Journal
    And yet spreading cr*p is all you do here. How about a link or two instead of ad hominem all the the time?

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