The NREL/GE Energy WWSIS study appears to be built on several questionable assumptions, each allowing the modeled system (of up to 30% wind/5% solar in the West Connect within the great Western Interconnect) to withstand the inherent difficulties of large scale renewable integration. The primary issue, consistent with my dissertation research, is that the authors assume that we can afford to massively overbuild the capacity of the system, adding the large percentages of renewable generation on top of newly built and existing plants. This allows one to be able to ignore the hourly or sub-hourly periods with extremely low output from renewables, as well as the days or weeks at a time during the summer when wind production is well below yearly average output levels. An ample reserve is at the ready to step in when renewables perform poorly. Secondly and equally important, the authors assume that coal plants, which have traditionally run in a base load capacity, will be able to be operated very flexibly ‚Äď on par with combined cycle gas plants. This allows the authors, on one hand, to state that electricity prices will be kept low, because we will still be able to burn less expensive coal as our primary non-renewable source of electricity (instead of having to switch to more expensive natural gas), but also to claim increased upside flexibility in the system to deal with periods where wind and solar output decrease rapidly and reserves need to be brought on line. Next, like previous studies, the authors assume that there is an ‚Äúaway‚ÄĚ to export excess generation to during times of overproduction. By assuming that the greater Western Interconnect is available to absorb excess production (by economic dispatch and regional grid management), the authors assume minimal to no curtailment in wind production needed in periods of overproduction. If on the other hand balancing is limited to smaller areas, the authors admit that the system might not be stable.
It is my opinion that this study is far from conclusive in its assertion that very high penetrations of wind and solar electricity generation are feasible in the Western Interconnect. Although the authors of the study performed a very detailed analysis, it is one that I feel is based on technological, bureaucratic, and political optimism.
I’ve pondered this for a couple of years now, but here’s an idea for the incoming Obama administration:
How about (instead of billion dollar handouts) the U.S. government puts in a large – say several hundred thousand unit – pre-order for electric, or plug in hybrid vehicles? ¬†Chrysler would get the U.S. Post Office order (think jeeps), GM could get the¬†federal government fleet, and Ford could get to work on electrifying heavier duty trucks.
Back of the envelope math:
for every $4 billion in bailouts, a hundred thousand EV could be produced.
Certainly the post office angle has merit. ¬†Large roof available for thin solar, centralized parking and refueling, and pre-determined routes that are travelled each day.
[very cool concept delivery truck (although a Scion) from njection blog]
Kitchen Gardeners International has developed perhaps the most innovative fundraising activity I’ve ever heard of.¬† They are auctioning off virtual pieces of the White House lawn to raise money for their organization (which supports local foods and growing your own), and raise awareness of the need for the President to support local, healthy foods.
From the article:
So here’s the deal: with one First Family moving out 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in the next few months and a new one moving in, KGI is taking it upon itself to organize a little “lawn sale” on their behalf, but not type you might think.
But, if you’re like me, the White House’s sprawling grassy landscape doesn’t feel like it’s yours. It doesn’t look like it would look if you were Landscaper-in-Chief because it’s missing a key element: an organic kitchen garden. It’s had one before and, given the changing times, it should have one again. Hence the idea of a “lawn sale.” What better way to give people a renewed sense of ownership and control over something than to give them a chance to buy it back?
We’ve checked with the listing experts at eBay and, although we can’t sell and ship you a real piece of “First Turf”, we can sell you a virtual one (regardless of your nationality) provided that you agree to donate it virtually back to the American people for the digging of a new food garden in 2009.
I think you’ll agree that it’s an extremely creative and innovative way to raise money for their organization.¬† Head over to their site and consider a donation today.
There’s even a petition you can sign if you want to petition the White House to tear up that grass and put in a garden.¬† Heck, it might even be nice for the President to do a little work in the garden instead of going jogging with 12 secret service people.¬† Gardening is good exercise and a good stress reliever.
Like Colorado, Utah has laws on the books that make it illegal to collect rainwater that falls on one’s property. ¬†A Utah car dealer installed a cistern and rainwater collection system to feed a on-site car wash that has water recycling technology. This was in an attempt to “go green”. ¬†He was thwarted by the state government, and eventually had to work out a deal. ¬†Local residents who collect rainwater will not be bothered at this point because “there are bigger fish to fry”. ¬†Video clip of news report below.
I won’t go so far as to say I’m against lifting the ban on drilling for oil off the east coast of the United States of America. I say that because the only reason the idea is being bandied about is that the last two Republican presidents were oil tycoons and that party is desperate to reframe the rise in the price of gasoline as the fault of the Democrats.¬† And they need to do it before November.¬† Perhaps Democrats should agree to lift the ban and when the price of gas doesn’t go down, Republicans will be left without that political punch to throw.
Having said that, I am not in favor of lifting the offshore drilling ban because drilling for oil off the east coast of the U.S. is stupid. Here’s why.
The USGS says there are 17.8 billion barrels of undiscovered recoverable resources(read Not Proven Reserves) currently unavailable for leasing.The EIA says production couldn’t really get started until 2017 and wouldn’t be fully ramped up for another 15 years until about 2030.Remember the U.S. uses more than 7 billion barrels a year.Great, there might be two and a half years worth of oil.Even if we could start pumping at full capacity today when my daughter is 2 ¬Ĺ, she’ll be 5 when all that oil is used up.
Even when production is pumping at full capacity, additional offshore drilling facilities would amount to about 200,000 barrels per day (bpd).The US currently uses 21 million bpd. This does not taking into account the increase in oil consumption necessary to continue to grow our economy. The bottom line is that additional offshore drilling will provide 1.2% of the oil we use every day if we don’t increase consumption and we’re willing to wait 20 years.
Oh and if the oil companies don’t sell that oil to other countries.Remember, we currently export about 1.5 million barrels of oil from the US every day.There is no guarantee that big oil will even keep this measly 200,000 bpd in the US.
Notice I didn’t even mention the possible environmental catastrophes or the hit tourism might take if lounging at the beach starts to include a beautiful view of the flare from a drilling rig.¬† Well I didn’t mention them until now.
Offshore oil is politicians playing the blame game and that’s all it is. The sad part is that a majority of Americans are falling for it while their leaders, Republicans and Democrats alike, continue to refuse to act appropriately.
If you want a quick test of whether or not a politican understands energy issues ask her if she’d like to see the cost of gasoline go down. If she says yes, she doesn’t know what the hell she’s talking about.
It’s difficult to imagine a person not having heard the old axiom “Buy low, sell high”, and it is prudent advice when you are making financial decisions. It’s the second part of that adage that might warrant a look at our strategy for infrastructure improvement in this country. If you are looking to make the maximum amount of money by selling something you want to sell that something when it’s at its highest value. I wonder then, is it time for our government to sell its infrastructure? You know, since the effects of Peak Oil are beginning to make themselves felt, the value of the infrastructure developed to serve cars running on cheap oil will decline each year into the future; starting soon. Selling high might mean selling soon.
Now, I don’t think we should sell all of it, by any means. We should keep the ports and the train lines, but is now a good time to start selling our roads, highways and airports? There has been news recently of other governments selling their infrastructure (check here for one opinion or here for a story about Pennsylvania, and this guy has the same idea I do, although he doesn’t tie it to Peak Oil), and considering the value of these items in an energy scarce future I would contend that their value will never be higher. In fact, there is already plenty of news about airlines facing massive losses. (And starting to charge for baggage, pillows and normal drinks) How valuable will an airport be if we don’t have airlines? Or what if the ones we do have are marginally profitable? I say it’s better to sell now while the full force of Peak Oil hasn’t quite made itself felt.
I would say the same about roads and bridges. Now, you can’t sell every bridge because you wouldn’t want it to be impossible to cross a river in the future, but the states could certainly lease some of them to companies looking for stable investments. They could at least see some return on all the money we’ve sunk into them. You could say that this is not “fair” or it might smack of fraud, but I would say that it isn’t. If these companies and profiteers can create our current credit crisis, and then look for a bailout from Uncle Sam, they should be smart enough to see through this and see the future for what it will be, but most likely they won’t.
Earlier this week, the Senate in California approved a bill requiring all hybrids and electric vehicles to have a minimum sound level. That bill will now grace the desk of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger — but it’s not clear what side of the issue he’ll fall on.
As Autobloggreen points out, there are already some options in the works for addressing this issue. For instance, automaker Lotus has been demoing its Safe and Sound system on a Toyota Prius. Instead of using internal speakers to generate opposite sound waves to cancel noise, Lotus is mounting speakers externally with a controller tied to the accelerator pedal. (Imagine the hacks that will come out of that one!) The system generates simulated engine sounds that will allow people in the vicinity hear the car approach.
Now, as we’ve discovered in comments, adding sound to quiet vehicles is a charged topic. On one hand, many of us are in agreement that the world could use less vehicular noise filling up our ears. Even in some of the most beautiful wild spots around my town, it’s still possible to hear the drone of cars and trucks many miles away. Still, for those that have vision impairments, some type of warning may be necessary.
Should be interesting to see which way the Governor sides on this topic. Either way, don’t count on your future car being whisper-quiet.
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