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Jetsgo
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California's Electrical Grid

Tue Sep 08, 2020 12:27 am

"Fifth largest economy in the world with a third world power grid."

This seems to be the general consensus among those who are most critical of California's public utilities today. While not exactly common, tens of thousands if not more, are at times left without power during the worst heat waves due to the grids supposed inability to handle excess usage.

But is it true? And if it is, who gets the blame? Is it investor owned and California Public Utility Commission regulated PG&E, SCE, and SDGE? Or is it the California Energy Commission who plans and sets policy?

Does California have a problem and if so, what is it? Can they solve it?
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GalaxyFlyer
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Re: California's Electrical Grid

Tue Sep 08, 2020 12:44 am

SCE outage map.

https://www.sce.com/outage-center

Rolling blackouts are a feature of over dependence on renewables. Sun sets, housing demand spikes as people come to turn on massive air conditioning load, no solar, lack of baseload.
 
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Aaron747
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Re: California's Electrical Grid

Tue Sep 08, 2020 1:34 am

GalaxyFlyer wrote:
SCE outage map.

https://www.sce.com/outage-center

Rolling blackouts are a feature of over dependence on renewables. Sun sets, housing demand spikes as people come to turn on massive air conditioning load, no solar, lack of baseload.


“Overdependence” on renewables is not a line used by any of the experts in our state. There are however critical infrastructure issues that have been exacerbated by a shift to some renewable sources.

The grid we have is largely the one that was operating in 1980,” Michael Wara, a senior research scholar at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, said in an email. “We haven’t been maintaining it, let alone upgrading it at nearly the rate we need to, over the past 40 years. And that’s despite the fact that we have decided to generate our electric power in totally different ways and mostly in very different locations.”

https://www.technologyreview.com/2020/0 ... hange/amp/

The CA energy grid is like an orchestra that has hired several excellent soloists and hasn’t bothered to put out chairs for them.
If you need someone to blame / throw a rock in the air / you'll hit someone guilty
 
flyguy89
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Re: California's Electrical Grid

Tue Sep 08, 2020 2:10 am

Aaron747 wrote:
GalaxyFlyer wrote:
SCE outage map.

https://www.sce.com/outage-center

Rolling blackouts are a feature of over dependence on renewables. Sun sets, housing demand spikes as people come to turn on massive air conditioning load, no solar, lack of baseload.


“Overdependence” on renewables is not a line used by any of the experts in our state. There are however critical infrastructure issues that have been exacerbated by a shift to some renewable sources.

The grid we have is largely the one that was operating in 1980,” Michael Wara, a senior research scholar at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, said in an email. “We haven’t been maintaining it, let alone upgrading it at nearly the rate we need to, over the past 40 years. And that’s despite the fact that we have decided to generate our electric power in totally different ways and mostly in very different locations.”

https://www.technologyreview.com/2020/0 ... hange/amp/

The CA energy grid is like an orchestra that has hired several excellent soloists and hasn’t bothered to put out chairs for them.


From the same article:

Severin Borenstein, an energy economist at the University of California, Berkeley, who serves on the governing board of the Independent System Operator, says the state’s growing reliance on renewables “definitely” played a role in the blackouts. He notes that the outages on Friday and Saturday both occurred as solar power was ramping down in the early evening. Changes that have reduced the share of energy coming from fossil-fuel plants, including the retirement of natural-gas facilities in California and a decrease in coal generation in neighboring states, have narrowed the safety margin for the system, he adds.

“That in no way says we shouldn’t be doing solar,” Borenstein says. “But it does mean we need to be realistic about what solar provides and what it doesn’t—and it doesn’t provide power after the sun goes down.”


There isn't enough base electricity to handle the ebbs and flows of renewables, particularly when other states can't or won't sell their excess capacity to California. So long as California continues to press ahead with the decommissioning of their "always-on" natural gas and nuclear energy sources, they will continue to experience this issue.

Realistically, if they want to go carbon neutral, they should be investing in and maintain enough nuclear facilities to cover for the inherent ebbs and flows of renewables.
 
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Aaron747
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Re: California's Electrical Grid

Tue Sep 08, 2020 2:39 am

flyguy89 wrote:
Aaron747 wrote:
GalaxyFlyer wrote:
SCE outage map.

https://www.sce.com/outage-center

Rolling blackouts are a feature of over dependence on renewables. Sun sets, housing demand spikes as people come to turn on massive air conditioning load, no solar, lack of baseload.


“Overdependence” on renewables is not a line used by any of the experts in our state. There are however critical infrastructure issues that have been exacerbated by a shift to some renewable sources.

The grid we have is largely the one that was operating in 1980,” Michael Wara, a senior research scholar at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, said in an email. “We haven’t been maintaining it, let alone upgrading it at nearly the rate we need to, over the past 40 years. And that’s despite the fact that we have decided to generate our electric power in totally different ways and mostly in very different locations.”

https://www.technologyreview.com/2020/0 ... hange/amp/

The CA energy grid is like an orchestra that has hired several excellent soloists and hasn’t bothered to put out chairs for them.


From the same article:

Severin Borenstein, an energy economist at the University of California, Berkeley, who serves on the governing board of the Independent System Operator, says the state’s growing reliance on renewables “definitely” played a role in the blackouts. He notes that the outages on Friday and Saturday both occurred as solar power was ramping down in the early evening. Changes that have reduced the share of energy coming from fossil-fuel plants, including the retirement of natural-gas facilities in California and a decrease in coal generation in neighboring states, have narrowed the safety margin for the system, he adds.

“That in no way says we shouldn’t be doing solar,” Borenstein says. “But it does mean we need to be realistic about what solar provides and what it doesn’t—and it doesn’t provide power after the sun goes down.”


There isn't enough base electricity to handle the ebbs and flows of renewables, particularly when other states can't or won't sell their excess capacity to California. So long as California continues to press ahead with the decommissioning of their "always-on" natural gas and nuclear energy sources, they will continue to experience this issue.

Realistically, if they want to go carbon neutral, they should be investing in and maintain enough nuclear facilities to cover for the inherent ebbs and flows of renewables.


Yup, the issues are interrelated. Storage for energy from renewable sources is inadequate, and those sources are often located too far from existing storage infrastructure.

In principle I agree that nuclear energy is an excellent resource and cannot support the decommissioning fervor that swept through the west following Japan's 2011 disaster. It is purely emotional and not based on science. Even if you could convince Californians that new nuclear plants were a good long-term solution, the issue then becomes location. Nuclear plants need access to water, and that leaves few options - either the San Joaquin Valley rivers or the coast. The latter is out due to coastal protections, so you'd have to convince agribusiness that they have no reason to fear being downwind from a nuclear plant. In the disinformation age, that'll be a tall order.
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Kent350787
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Re: California's Electrical Grid

Tue Sep 08, 2020 3:05 am

Here in Australia we have some similar problems, with one difference - our grid was "gold plated", but focussed on the location of coal plants. The existing grid hasn't been able to support the feed from, in particular, large solar farms without time and investment.

Energy companies don't see a future in coal generation, so have been dumping those plants at a rate the grid hasn't been able to cope with. One generator has live plans to use a coal plants its currently closing as the location for a large battery storage facility.

Although quick start fossil fuel baseload is one option, battery storage is becoming increasingly important. For all its booster, nuclear power is a big no-no in this country.
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flyguy89
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Re: California's Electrical Grid

Tue Sep 08, 2020 3:27 am

Aaron747 wrote:
flyguy89 wrote:
Aaron747 wrote:

“Overdependence” on renewables is not a line used by any of the experts in our state. There are however critical infrastructure issues that have been exacerbated by a shift to some renewable sources.

The grid we have is largely the one that was operating in 1980,” Michael Wara, a senior research scholar at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, said in an email. “We haven’t been maintaining it, let alone upgrading it at nearly the rate we need to, over the past 40 years. And that’s despite the fact that we have decided to generate our electric power in totally different ways and mostly in very different locations.”

https://www.technologyreview.com/2020/0 ... hange/amp/

The CA energy grid is like an orchestra that has hired several excellent soloists and hasn’t bothered to put out chairs for them.


From the same article:

Severin Borenstein, an energy economist at the University of California, Berkeley, who serves on the governing board of the Independent System Operator, says the state’s growing reliance on renewables “definitely” played a role in the blackouts. He notes that the outages on Friday and Saturday both occurred as solar power was ramping down in the early evening. Changes that have reduced the share of energy coming from fossil-fuel plants, including the retirement of natural-gas facilities in California and a decrease in coal generation in neighboring states, have narrowed the safety margin for the system, he adds.

“That in no way says we shouldn’t be doing solar,” Borenstein says. “But it does mean we need to be realistic about what solar provides and what it doesn’t—and it doesn’t provide power after the sun goes down.”


There isn't enough base electricity to handle the ebbs and flows of renewables, particularly when other states can't or won't sell their excess capacity to California. So long as California continues to press ahead with the decommissioning of their "always-on" natural gas and nuclear energy sources, they will continue to experience this issue.

Realistically, if they want to go carbon neutral, they should be investing in and maintain enough nuclear facilities to cover for the inherent ebbs and flows of renewables.


Yup, the issues are interrelated. Storage for energy from renewable sources is inadequate, and those sources are often located too far from existing storage infrastructure.

In principle I agree that nuclear energy is an excellent resource and cannot support the decommissioning fervor that swept through the west following Japan's 2011 disaster. It is purely emotional and not based on science. Even if you could convince Californians that new nuclear plants were a good long-term solution, the issue then becomes location. Nuclear plants need access to water, and that leaves few options - either the San Joaquin Valley rivers or the coast. The latter is out due to coastal protections, so you'd have to convince agribusiness that they have no reason to fear being downwind from a nuclear plant. In the disinformation age, that'll be a tall order.

:checkmark:

Ultimately, I think a frank reckoning is soon at hand in the environmental movement. Those who are serious about moving to a zero-carbon energy grid sooner rather than later need to firmly unwind the decades of hysteria drummed up around nuclear as well as the myths accumulated around renewables. For the record, I do believe in renewables, but know they have their limits and their own negative environmental impacts, but if the urgency to reduce carbon emissions is real, I think we're quickly reaching a point where we can no longer tolerate "renewables only and everywhere" claims which will only serve to prolong our depence on fossil fuels for electricity generation.
 
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Francoflier
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Re: California's Electrical Grid

Tue Sep 08, 2020 4:41 am

flyguy89 wrote:
Aaron747 wrote:
flyguy89 wrote:

From the same article:

Severin Borenstein, an energy economist at the University of California, Berkeley, who serves on the governing board of the Independent System Operator, says the state’s growing reliance on renewables “definitely” played a role in the blackouts. He notes that the outages on Friday and Saturday both occurred as solar power was ramping down in the early evening. Changes that have reduced the share of energy coming from fossil-fuel plants, including the retirement of natural-gas facilities in California and a decrease in coal generation in neighboring states, have narrowed the safety margin for the system, he adds.

“That in no way says we shouldn’t be doing solar,” Borenstein says. “But it does mean we need to be realistic about what solar provides and what it doesn’t—and it doesn’t provide power after the sun goes down.”


There isn't enough base electricity to handle the ebbs and flows of renewables, particularly when other states can't or won't sell their excess capacity to California. So long as California continues to press ahead with the decommissioning of their "always-on" natural gas and nuclear energy sources, they will continue to experience this issue.

Realistically, if they want to go carbon neutral, they should be investing in and maintain enough nuclear facilities to cover for the inherent ebbs and flows of renewables.


Yup, the issues are interrelated. Storage for energy from renewable sources is inadequate, and those sources are often located too far from existing storage infrastructure.

In principle I agree that nuclear energy is an excellent resource and cannot support the decommissioning fervor that swept through the west following Japan's 2011 disaster. It is purely emotional and not based on science. Even if you could convince Californians that new nuclear plants were a good long-term solution, the issue then becomes location. Nuclear plants need access to water, and that leaves few options - either the San Joaquin Valley rivers or the coast. The latter is out due to coastal protections, so you'd have to convince agribusiness that they have no reason to fear being downwind from a nuclear plant. In the disinformation age, that'll be a tall order.

:checkmark:

Ultimately, I think a frank reckoning is soon at hand in the environmental movement. Those who are serious about moving to a zero-carbon energy grid sooner rather than later need to firmly unwind the decades of hysteria drummed up around nuclear as well as the myths accumulated around renewables. For the record, I do believe in renewables, but know they have their limits and their own negative environmental impacts, but if the urgency to reduce carbon emissions is real, I think we're quickly reaching a point where we can no longer tolerate "renewables only and everywhere" claims which will only serve to prolong our depence on fossil fuels for electricity generation.


While I also agree that nuclear has been knee-jerked away for no reason other than people who know nothing about it being spooked for no good reason, it doesn't mean that the push for renewable is utopian or futile.
The inherent limitations of renewables, especially solar (which is a great fit for CA) can be overcome with proper grid planning and adequate storage being built in. The issue there is that the growth of renewables has been rather chaotic and improperly implemented. The price of solar panels has plummeted much faster than that of storage, especially large scale storage. Lithium is still too expensive for large scale grid applications, and the cheaper solutions are still in development or early stage of testing.
The adoption of solar at the consumer level has accentuated the issue, as well as the typically american lack of effective long term and large scale planning that stems from a system where the grid is left to several mostly profit-oriented businesses.

The solutions are there, or will be there soon. There is no technical reason why renewables can't supply most of a large scale grid with proper foresight and engineering. We'll get there no matter how much the oil, gas and coal brigade wants us to remain in the 19th century.

At least until fusion takes over, which should happen in 30 years, as always... :duck:
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seb146
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Re: California's Electrical Grid

Tue Sep 08, 2020 4:56 am

There is a lot to take in with California utilities. I think CPUC is in the pocket of private utilities. Every ruling handed down by CPUC when we lived there was clearly on the side of private utilities. PG&E COULD have raked the forests and cleared dead trees but when people were killed because of their incompetence, oh, well. whatever. look at that shiny thing over there. Slap on the wrist and walk away.
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tommy1808
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Re: California's Electrical Grid

Tue Sep 08, 2020 5:18 am

GalaxyFlyer wrote:
Rolling blackouts are a feature of over dependence on renewables. Sun sets, housing demand spikes as people come to turn on massive air conditioning load, no solar, lack of baseload.


Renewable power only provides ~1/3 of electricity in California, in Germany that is 46% in a much less stable environment for renewable energy in terms of stable winds and reliable sunshine. Average blackout in Germany per household and year is 14 Minutes. That is about 1/10th of what you see in the US, and California isn´t even especially bad by US standards.

Rolling blackouts happen in California because power companies get away with it. Here fines for screwing up the continued power supply are high, Utilities have operating obligations and need permission to take a power plant off standby. Power isn´t expensive, the infrastructure to make it reliable is.

best regards
Thomas
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Tugger
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Re: California's Electrical Grid

Tue Sep 08, 2020 5:40 am

Another issue that was laid bare by the PGE wildfires that last few years is that the power companies did not spend on infrastructure and maintenance as they should have. One of the big problems was a desire.need to create ...say it with me folks: "shareholder value" and return cash to them instead. Other issues are/were top heavy management still getting bonuses without actually improving the power performance, and at times wage increases that put large increase into coming years that were not sustainable as they were structured.

Tugg
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flyguy89
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Re: California's Electrical Grid

Tue Sep 08, 2020 6:17 am

Francoflier wrote:
flyguy89 wrote:
Aaron747 wrote:

Yup, the issues are interrelated. Storage for energy from renewable sources is inadequate, and those sources are often located too far from existing storage infrastructure.

In principle I agree that nuclear energy is an excellent resource and cannot support the decommissioning fervor that swept through the west following Japan's 2011 disaster. It is purely emotional and not based on science. Even if you could convince Californians that new nuclear plants were a good long-term solution, the issue then becomes location. Nuclear plants need access to water, and that leaves few options - either the San Joaquin Valley rivers or the coast. The latter is out due to coastal protections, so you'd have to convince agribusiness that they have no reason to fear being downwind from a nuclear plant. In the disinformation age, that'll be a tall order.

:checkmark:

Ultimately, I think a frank reckoning is soon at hand in the environmental movement. Those who are serious about moving to a zero-carbon energy grid sooner rather than later need to firmly unwind the decades of hysteria drummed up around nuclear as well as the myths accumulated around renewables. For the record, I do believe in renewables, but know they have their limits and their own negative environmental impacts, but if the urgency to reduce carbon emissions is real, I think we're quickly reaching a point where we can no longer tolerate "renewables only and everywhere" claims which will only serve to prolong our depence on fossil fuels for electricity generation.


While I also agree that nuclear has been knee-jerked away for no reason other than people who know nothing about it being spooked for no good reason, it doesn't mean that the push for renewable is utopian or futile.

Not at all. And I'm not saying the solution is solely nuclear either. Depending on geography, things like geothermal and hydro may be more desirable and feasible.

Francoflier wrote:
The price of solar panels has plummeted much faster than that of storage, especially large scale storage.

The problem there as well is that the amount of storage capacity that would be needed is astronomical. The overbuild, the resource extraction necessary to support it would be immense and also environmentally harmful...the technology just is not there yet. Not to say it won't ever be or that we shouldn't continue driving the research forward however.
 
Sokes
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Re: California's Electrical Grid

Tue Sep 08, 2020 9:32 am

Combined cycle gas turbines are needed for backup. If gas powered plants were shut down I'm not surprised there are blackouts.

Pumped storage needs to get priority, even if some environmentalists are concerned about butterfly population.

Long term hydrogen is also needed. But with H2 we are still at the beginning of the learning curve.

The German grid is connected to neighbors. Arguing with German renewable penetration is therefore a bit misleading.
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tommy1808
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Re: California's Electrical Grid

Tue Sep 08, 2020 9:41 am

Sokes wrote:
The German grid is connected to neighbors. Arguing with German renewable penetration is therefore a bit misleading.


not really, since it just prevents plants from coming out of stand-by, when buying surplus power is cheaper. But the generation capacity is still there if needed.California lacks that stand by capacity.

best regards
Thomas
Well, there is prophecy in the bible after all: 2 Timothy 3:1-6
 
Sokes
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Re: California's Electrical Grid

Tue Sep 08, 2020 1:03 pm

tommy1808 wrote:
not really, since it just prevents plants from coming out of stand-by, when buying surplus power is cheaper. But the generation capacity is still there if needed.California lacks that stand by capacity.

best regards
Thomas

Agreed.
Why can't the world be a little bit more autistic?
 
GalaxyFlyer
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Re: California's Electrical Grid

Tue Sep 08, 2020 1:29 pm

tommy1808 wrote:
Sokes wrote:
The German grid is connected to neighbors. Arguing with German renewable penetration is therefore a bit misleading.


not really, since it just prevents plants from coming out of stand-by, when buying surplus power is cheaper. But the generation capacity is still there if needed.California lacks that stand by capacity.

best regards
Thomas


Just out of curiosity, what’s Germany evening/nighttime air conditioning requirement? Also, what energy source powers your standby generation, or for that matter, other EU generation? Coal, perhaps?
 
GalaxyFlyer
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Re: California's Electrical Grid

Tue Sep 08, 2020 1:29 pm

GalaxyFlyer wrote:
tommy1808 wrote:
Sokes wrote:
The German grid is connected to neighbors. Arguing with German renewable penetration is therefore a bit misleading.


not really, since it just prevents plants from coming out of stand-by, when buying surplus power is cheaper. But the generation capacity is still there if needed.California lacks that stand by capacity.

best regards
Thomas


Just out of curiosity, what’s Germany evening/nighttime air conditioning electrical requirement? Also, what energy source powers your standby generation, or for that matter, other EU generation? Coal, perhaps?
 
frmrCapCadet
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Re: California's Electrical Grid

Tue Sep 08, 2020 1:52 pm

It is widely known that the civil engineering association gives the US an infrastructure rating of D+. Our grandparents taxed themselves and paid high enough rates for the highway system, water, sewage, gas lines, electrical power system. We are in a sense parasites on the work they did, and leaving it for our grandchildren to repair and update it. Congratulations 'gimme' generation (mine and the next couple).

While the California power companies have not properly maintained the grid I don't think that they diverted monies collected for that maintenance to shareholders. Does anyone have information on this? I remember when I lived in a rural area they raised our rates, unpopular at the time, to do the necessary tree trimming throughout the county. Result: the once in every twenty year ice storm, we had some sporadic outages, nothing the regular crews couldn't repair. I think some of our utility workers arranged to go out of the area and earn big overtime.
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Tugger
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Re: California's Electrical Grid

Tue Sep 08, 2020 2:28 pm

frmrCapCadet wrote:
While the California power companies have not properly maintained the grid I don't think that they diverted monies collected for that maintenance to shareholders. Does anyone have information on this? I remember when I lived in a rural area they raised our rates, unpopular at the time, to do the necessary tree trimming throughout the county. Result: the once in every twenty year ice storm, we had some sporadic outages, nothing the regular crews couldn't repair. I think some of our utility workers arranged to go out of the area and earn big overtime.

There have been quite a few "exposés"/articles on the issue:
https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/ ... 500175.php
https://www.sfchronicle.com/business/ar ... 742239.php
https://kmph.com/archive/pge-diverted-s ... ts-bonuses
https://www.sonomacountygazette.com/son ... he-rich-1/

Some are overly dramatic however the reality is that rather than beef up line integrity, undergrounding where smart, and updating and upgrading gas lines and other needed infrastructure, monies were instead sent in other directions. This was also of course aided and abetted by the complacent CalPUC. The balance between hard-assed regulator and industry supporting has just not been found.

Tugg
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Sokes
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Re: California's Electrical Grid

Tue Sep 08, 2020 2:29 pm

GalaxyFlyer wrote:
Just out of curiosity, what’s Germany evening/nighttime air conditioning requirement? Also, what energy source powers your standby generation, or for that matter, other EU generation? Coal, perhaps?

We don't need cooling, but I assume that was a rhetorical question.

Yes, Germany's power generation is dirty. But Germans still pay ridiculous prices for solar electricity from panels installed when the solar learning curve was far from today.
Same is true for biogas and wind, though the astronomical prices are a solar speciality.

To argue all this money didn't lead to clean electricity in Germany ignores the effect these subsidies had on worldwide solar penetration. You can't belittle the German effort.

Should Germany retire it's coal plants?
I prefer Germany throws money on H2 technology instead.

A long journey starts with a single step. We don't need to have solutions for everything. If enough money is spent, the invisible hand of the market will deliver the solutions.
Solar and battery technology already made that journey, High Voltage Direct Current needs still more effort and H2 is still the beginning.

If one wants to find faults, one can.
Rome wasn't built in a day.
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frmrCapCadet
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Re: California's Electrical Grid

Tue Sep 08, 2020 2:57 pm

Tugger - thanks for the links. One of them (SF Chronicle) was behind a wall. Particularly I am persuaded that the gas line were totally the utilities fault. But the costs of putting electrical lines underground is likely beyond anything rate payers would tolerate. I don't understand the 'grounding' of above power lines, but that was a utility fault. Turning power off during certain high winds is necessary, but both the utilities and regulators were at fault here. When we lived in the country we made ready for up to week long power outages. Fortunately never had anything that required putting those plans in action.
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Aaron747
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Re: California's Electrical Grid

Tue Sep 08, 2020 3:06 pm

frmrCapCadet wrote:
Tugger - thanks for the links. One of them (SF Chronicle) was behind a wall. Particularly I am persuaded that the gas line were totally the utilities fault. But the costs of putting electrical lines underground is likely beyond anything rate payers would tolerate. I don't understand the 'grounding' of above power lines, but that was a utility fault. Turning power off during certain high winds is necessary, but both the utilities and regulators were at fault here. When we lived in the country we made ready for up to week long power outages. Fortunately never had anything that required putting those plans in action.


PG&E consistently posted EBIDTAs over $3 billion from 2005 to 2015 following their recovery from chapter 11 filing in 2000. It seems to even a casual observer they could definitely have put more $$ into infrastructure upgrades and just didn't.

https://www.macrotrends.net/stocks/char ... ric/ebitda
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GalaxyFlyer
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Re: California's Electrical Grid

Tue Sep 08, 2020 3:14 pm

Aaron747 wrote:
frmrCapCadet wrote:
Tugger - thanks for the links. One of them (SF Chronicle) was behind a wall. Particularly I am persuaded that the gas line were totally the utilities fault. But the costs of putting electrical lines underground is likely beyond anything rate payers would tolerate. I don't understand the 'grounding' of above power lines, but that was a utility fault. Turning power off during certain high winds is necessary, but both the utilities and regulators were at fault here. When we lived in the country we made ready for up to week long power outages. Fortunately never had anything that required putting those plans in action.


PG&E consistently posted EBIDTAs over $3 billion from 2005 to 2015 following their recovery from chapter 11 filing in 2000. It seems to even a casual observer they could definitely have put more $$ into infrastructure upgrades and just didn't.

https://www.macrotrends.net/stocks/char ... ric/ebitda


They’ve been in Chapter 11, twice in 19 years, sounds like a great investment. The 2001 filing eventually cost the state $45 billion.
 
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Tugger
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Re: California's Electrical Grid

Tue Sep 08, 2020 3:52 pm

In my area, undergrounding is being actively done. It was a requirement built in years ago. Also the value of undergrounding is certainly coming into its own now. One example was a major long distance high voltage powerline (180 miles+), undergrounding key certain areas that went though forested as well as urban areas would increase a $2 billion project to a $3 billion one. However that cost then reduces future costs, and most importantly fire risks, by at least the amount of the increase.

Tugg
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frmrCapCadet
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Re: California's Electrical Grid

Tue Sep 08, 2020 4:33 pm

Tugger wrote:
In my area, undergrounding is being actively done. It was a requirement built in years ago. Also the value of undergrounding is certainly coming into its own now. One example was a major long distance high voltage powerline (180 miles+), undergrounding key certain areas that went though forested as well as urban areas would increase a $2 billion project to a $3 billion one. However that cost then reduces future costs, and most importantly fire risks, by at least the amount of the increase.

Tugg


Interesting. You happen to have a link to a longish article on this. I would like to see one that discussed the engineering etc.
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Tugger
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Re: California's Electrical Grid

Tue Sep 08, 2020 4:43 pm

frmrCapCadet wrote:
Tugger wrote:
In my area, undergrounding is being actively done. It was a requirement built in years ago. Also the value of undergrounding is certainly coming into its own now. One example was a major long distance high voltage powerline (180 miles+), undergrounding key certain areas that went though forested as well as urban areas would increase a $2 billion project to a $3 billion one. However that cost then reduces future costs, and most importantly fire risks, by at least the amount of the increase.

Tugg


Interesting. You happen to have a link to a longish article on this. I would like to see one that discussed the engineering etc.

Here's the wiki on it, though it is on the project mostly and just skimming (no time really right now) I'm not seeing info on the underground cost.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunrise_Powerlink

Tugg
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bhill
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Re: California's Electrical Grid

Fri Sep 11, 2020 6:52 pm

Aaron747 wrote:
frmrCapCadet wrote:
Tugger - thanks for the links. One of them (SF Chronicle) was behind a wall. Particularly I am persuaded that the gas line were totally the utilities fault. But the costs of putting electrical lines underground is likely beyond anything rate payers would tolerate. I don't understand the 'grounding' of above power lines, but that was a utility fault. Turning power off during certain high winds is necessary, but both the utilities and regulators were at fault here. When we lived in the country we made ready for up to week long power outages. Fortunately never had anything that required putting those plans in action.


PG&E consistently posted EBIDTAs over $3 billion from 2005 to 2015 following their recovery from chapter 11 filing in 2000. It seems to even a casual observer they could definitely have put more $$ into infrastructure upgrades and just didn't.

https://www.macrotrends.net/stocks/char ... ric/ebitda


This!....Americans LOVE to build shit, and never want to pay to maintain it PROACTIVELY. Look at our bridges..but as for private power companies, if shareholders come first, guess what gets shorted?..no pun intended.I am curious, not being a HVAC expert, but would more implementation of heat pump technologies help? Or do the electrical systems still draw too much power?
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stratosphere
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Re: California's Electrical Grid

Fri Sep 11, 2020 8:59 pm

Aaron747 wrote:
flyguy89 wrote:
Aaron747 wrote:

“Overdependence” on renewables is not a line used by any of the experts in our state. There are however critical infrastructure issues that have been exacerbated by a shift to some renewable sources.

The grid we have is largely the one that was operating in 1980,” Michael Wara, a senior research scholar at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, said in an email. “We haven’t been maintaining it, let alone upgrading it at nearly the rate we need to, over the past 40 years. And that’s despite the fact that we have decided to generate our electric power in totally different ways and mostly in very different locations.”

https://www.technologyreview.com/2020/0 ... hange/amp/

The CA energy grid is like an orchestra that has hired several excellent soloists and hasn’t bothered to put out chairs for them.


From the same article:

Severin Borenstein, an energy economist at the University of California, Berkeley, who serves on the governing board of the Independent System Operator, says the state’s growing reliance on renewables “definitely” played a role in the blackouts. He notes that the outages on Friday and Saturday both occurred as solar power was ramping down in the early evening. Changes that have reduced the share of energy coming from fossil-fuel plants, including the retirement of natural-gas facilities in California and a decrease in coal generation in neighboring states, have narrowed the safety margin for the system, he adds.

“That in no way says we shouldn’t be doing solar,” Borenstein says. “But it does mean we need to be realistic about what solar provides and what it doesn’t—and it doesn’t provide power after the sun goes down.”


There isn't enough base electricity to handle the ebbs and flows of renewables, particularly when other states can't or won't sell their excess capacity to California. So long as California continues to press ahead with the decommissioning of their "always-on" natural gas and nuclear energy sources, they will continue to experience this issue.

Realistically, if they want to go carbon neutral, they should be investing in and maintain enough nuclear facilities to cover for the inherent ebbs and flows of renewables.


Yup, the issues are interrelated. Storage for energy from renewable sources is inadequate, and those sources are often located too far from existing storage infrastructure.

In principle I agree that nuclear energy is an excellent resource and cannot support the decommissioning fervor that swept through the west following Japan's 2011 disaster. It is purely emotional and not based on science. Even if you could convince Californians that new nuclear plants were a good long-term solution, the issue then becomes location. Nuclear plants need access to water, and that leaves few options - either the San Joaquin Valley rivers or the coast. The latter is out due to coastal protections, so you'd have to convince agribusiness that they have no reason to fear being downwind from a nuclear plant. In the disinformation age, that'll be a tall order.


My cousin is a stress engineer for [email protected] and over 20 years ago was living in San Luis Obispo and worked at the Diablo Canyon Nuclear power plant. He basically was involved in helping it withstand an earthquake. I went to visit him there and he got to take me on a tour of the power plant. Was very impressive first thing I noticed besides the crazy temperature drop from the city out to the power plant since it's right on the pacific was the heavily armed guards around the place. I had to go thru the "sniffer" machine and metal detectors before going in. He moved away from that area and back to San Fran due to his bad allergies but the plant was upgraded to withstand a 7.5 magnitude earthquake. Diablo Canyon I believe is the only nuclear power plant left in California and is slated to close in 2024-2025 area. So they are going into even more investment in renewables. So they will be a slave to other states to provide excess power even more than they are now. I understand the concerns of disasters and global warming but they need to get a grip on reality too the sun and wind can't do everything.
 
Sokes
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Re: California's Electrical Grid

Sat Sep 12, 2020 9:00 am

Wiki says the Solana Generation Station, Arizona, delivered 20,3 GWh in December and 112 GWh in June. It's a concentrated solar parabolic trough type plant with molten salt thermal storage to generate electricity into the night.
Makes me wonder if solar towers are better in winter, but google didn't help.
Anyway for cooling needs just after the sun went down concentrated solar with thermal storage sounds perfect.

That's the trouble with renewables:
Required capacity has to be installed several times.
But then the wars on terror weren't cheap either, so it's all relative.

Any news about planned solar towers in California?
Apparently concentrated solar reaches prices around 7 cent/ kWh in auctions (not California).
That's good considering technology is far from mature.
Germany's photovoltaic rates started above 50 cents/ kWh in 2000 and went below 40 cents only in 2010. Add inflation.
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Aaron747
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Re: California's Electrical Grid

Sat Sep 12, 2020 9:26 am

stratosphere wrote:
Aaron747 wrote:
flyguy89 wrote:

From the same article:

Severin Borenstein, an energy economist at the University of California, Berkeley, who serves on the governing board of the Independent System Operator, says the state’s growing reliance on renewables “definitely” played a role in the blackouts. He notes that the outages on Friday and Saturday both occurred as solar power was ramping down in the early evening. Changes that have reduced the share of energy coming from fossil-fuel plants, including the retirement of natural-gas facilities in California and a decrease in coal generation in neighboring states, have narrowed the safety margin for the system, he adds.

“That in no way says we shouldn’t be doing solar,” Borenstein says. “But it does mean we need to be realistic about what solar provides and what it doesn’t—and it doesn’t provide power after the sun goes down.”


There isn't enough base electricity to handle the ebbs and flows of renewables, particularly when other states can't or won't sell their excess capacity to California. So long as California continues to press ahead with the decommissioning of their "always-on" natural gas and nuclear energy sources, they will continue to experience this issue.

Realistically, if they want to go carbon neutral, they should be investing in and maintain enough nuclear facilities to cover for the inherent ebbs and flows of renewables.


Yup, the issues are interrelated. Storage for energy from renewable sources is inadequate, and those sources are often located too far from existing storage infrastructure.

In principle I agree that nuclear energy is an excellent resource and cannot support the decommissioning fervor that swept through the west following Japan's 2011 disaster. It is purely emotional and not based on science. Even if you could convince Californians that new nuclear plants were a good long-term solution, the issue then becomes location. Nuclear plants need access to water, and that leaves few options - either the San Joaquin Valley rivers or the coast. The latter is out due to coastal protections, so you'd have to convince agribusiness that they have no reason to fear being downwind from a nuclear plant. In the disinformation age, that'll be a tall order.


My cousin is a stress engineer for [email protected] and over 20 years ago was living in San Luis Obispo and worked at the Diablo Canyon Nuclear power plant. He basically was involved in helping it withstand an earthquake. I went to visit him there and he got to take me on a tour of the power plant. Was very impressive first thing I noticed besides the crazy temperature drop from the city out to the power plant since it's right on the pacific was the heavily armed guards around the place. I had to go thru the "sniffer" machine and metal detectors before going in. He moved away from that area and back to San Fran due to his bad allergies but the plant was upgraded to withstand a 7.5 magnitude earthquake. Diablo Canyon I believe is the only nuclear power plant left in California and is slated to close in 2024-2025 area. So they are going into even more investment in renewables. So they will be a slave to other states to provide excess power even more than they are now. I understand the concerns of disasters and global warming but they need to get a grip on reality too the sun and wind can't do everything.


Yeah the area is crazy like that - on a summer afternoon you can drive an hour and go from 110 in Paso Robles to 85 in SLO to 68 at the beach. Stunning that someone would leave the central coast for the Bay Area to avoid allergies - I would think they would be worse in a region with 8 million people.

Pretty sad to think that once Diablo Canyon closes there won't be any more nuclear energy in the Golden state...
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frmrCapCadet
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Re: California's Electrical Grid

Sat Sep 12, 2020 3:27 pm

We in the Puget Sound area are sitting in the midst of an about worst ever smoke event, much of it coming from California (our smoke blew somewhere else for the most part). With a little assistance I spent the morning tracking down a box fan and as high a MERV rated filter as I could find (Amazon wouldn't deliver for better part of a week) It keeps are condo air smoke free. So smoke and Covid-19 hunker down time. The California grid needs updating badly - but so does the whole US. There are indications that at least some of the bad fires in Washington and Oregon were related to failing power lines. Those lines need to be aggressively unpowered early and more often.

In the future the best resiliences are going to be a reliable grid plus, I will say it again, plus resilient residences. Most houses should have some solar, but more important, some electrical storage - say enough to run essential item for 1-3 days (wells, refrigerator, freezer, medical equipment). Also heating or cooling at least one room in the house should be possible. If someone lives in the middle of a vulnerable to fire forest, they need to evacuate early - A minimal RV at a haven is practical. If about all of us who have the health and financial resources to do this, emergency workers will have a much easier time to protect or rescue those who can't.
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MaverickM11
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Re: California's Electrical Grid

Sat Sep 12, 2020 3:43 pm

frmrCapCadet wrote:
Tugger - thanks for the links. One of them (SF Chronicle) was behind a wall. Particularly I am persuaded that the gas line were totally the utilities fault. But the costs of putting electrical lines underground is likely beyond anything rate payers would tolerate

More than the damage being done annually?
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frmrCapCadet
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Re: California's Electrical Grid

Sat Sep 12, 2020 4:02 pm

Per my previous post I think both resilient grid and resilient homes will be cheaper than going all underground. But I would easily bow to the opinion of civil engineers in the field. When I lived on acreage in a rural setting as an amateur, but in cooperation with the PUD I engineered more than adequate underground power and phone lines of upwards of 1000 feet for three residences. It was expensive, but the advantage of likely never needing maintenance nor looking at overhead lines made it worth it. The highway overhead lines from Bonneville to the nearest city are well maintained, and also have been used for a variety of additional purposes. Overhead lines have some advantages.
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Tugger
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Re: California's Electrical Grid

Sat Sep 12, 2020 5:30 pm

Aaron747 wrote:
stratosphere wrote:
My cousin is a stress engineer for [email protected] and over 20 years ago was living in San Luis Obispo and worked at the Diablo Canyon Nuclear power plant. He basically was involved in helping it withstand an earthquake. I went to visit him there and he got to take me on a tour of the power plant. Was very impressive first thing I noticed besides the crazy temperature drop from the city out to the power plant since it's right on the pacific was the heavily armed guards around the place. I had to go thru the "sniffer" machine and metal detectors before going in. He moved away from that area and back to San Fran due to his bad allergies but the plant was upgraded to withstand a 7.5 magnitude earthquake. Diablo Canyon I believe is the only nuclear power plant left in California and is slated to close in 2024-2025 area. So they are going into even more investment in renewables. So they will be a slave to other states to provide excess power even more than they are now. I understand the concerns of disasters and global warming but they need to get a grip on reality too the sun and wind can't do everything.


Yeah the area is crazy like that - on a summer afternoon you can drive an hour and go from 110 in Paso Robles to 85 in SLO to 68 at the beach. Stunning that someone would leave the central coast for the Bay Area to avoid allergies - I would think they would be worse in a region with 8 million people.

Pretty sad to think that once Diablo Canyon closes there won't be any more nuclear energy in the Golden state...

There is actually a push beginning to continue operations at Diablo Canyon for another 10 + years (beyond 2024). The current generation issues being the driving reason. The basic argument is it won't greatly impact the overall goal of many to close the plant nor will it siginficantly add to any of the problems known associated with nuclear fission generation. It will however keep the 18000GWh of electricity annually it generates flowing into the grid as California works to improve and increase electrical generation stability.

Of course many opposed huff and puff about the idea but hopefully it will stay online and continue operation.

Tugg
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jetwet1
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Re: California's Electrical Grid

Sat Sep 12, 2020 8:04 pm

One thing I noticed 5-6 years ago was most new builds in SoCal had a roof that was ready to take solar panels, meaning brackets already in place, clear areas for cable runs, IMHO what needs to happen now is also add the hardware for battery packs. The cost relative to home prices in SoCal would be minimal, they would help smooth over the sudden peaks and, from personal experience, what is a black out ? My neighborhood has a couple a year, after putting the battery packs on our home it's not even something we think about now.
 
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Aesma
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Re: California's Electrical Grid

Sun Sep 13, 2020 2:20 pm

The state should subsidise (if not already done) home batteries. That will probably be simpler than upgrading the grid, especially since the evolution of it is not finished, more and more people will add solar, more wind and solar farms will be build, etc.
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Tugger
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Re: California's Electrical Grid

Sun Sep 13, 2020 8:12 pm

jetwet1 wrote:
One thing I noticed 5-6 years ago was most new builds in SoCal had a roof that was ready to take solar panels, meaning brackets already in place, clear areas for cable runs, IMHO what needs to happen now is also add the hardware for battery packs. The cost relative to home prices in SoCal would be minimal, they would help smooth over the sudden peaks and, from personal experience, what is a black out ? My neighborhood has a couple a year, after putting the battery packs on our home it's not even something we think about now.


Aesma wrote:
The state should subsidise (if not already done) home batteries. That will probably be simpler than upgrading the grid, especially since the evolution of it is not finished, more and more people will add solar, more wind and solar farms will be build, etc.


I have my concerns about people thinking home batteries are an easy solution. Everything I have read over the last few years has said those single packs, "wall batteries" etc advertised as the solution really can't and don't do much. (I believe our own DocLighting went into this last year?) Basically for your normal suburban residence you have to be very selective about what the back-up will power. Essentially no heavy appliances, only selected circuits in the home etc. This article discusses it fairly well (a lot of online info is created by solar install companies and glosses over the fact, this one is pretty fair):
https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles ... ery-backup
There are two fundamental engineering limits that make it impractical to run a whole house on battery power alone. First, the energy capacity of typical lithium-ion battery systems is insufficient to power an entire house through a nighttime blackout. Second, battery backup inverters are not powerful enough to start and run many large appliances.

Of course, multiple batteries and inverters can address these energy and power limitations. But the cost of 20+ kilowatts of inverters and 40+ kilowatt-hours of batteries is prohibitive for the typical homeowner.
[...]
So how long does a typical solar and battery system operate at night while operating these larger appliances? Answer: not very long at all.

The math is simple. If the battery is down to an energy capacity of 2.5 kilowatt-hours at night (typical if the battery is used during the evening to maximize self-consumption savings), there is only enough battery energy to run pool pumps for 60 minutes, a central AC for 30 minutes, an EV charger for 20 minutes or an electric stove for 15 minutes.

With any of these appliances running — after only a relatively brief interval of automatic whole-home backup — the battery will be soon dead and unable to power critical loads.


Tugg
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frmrCapCadet
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Re: California's Electrical Grid

Sun Sep 13, 2020 9:42 pm

For the most part home batteries only need to cover a few hours. Refrigeration and freezers can tolerate up to 24 hours if door openings are reduced. Most home medical equipment is pretty low wattage. Lighting demand is now trivial. Wells and septic systems are not high users if you keep water consumption low. A camp stove or BBQ will do for cooking. A hot water tank will hold for a day or two. I lived off the grid for a few months - Lighting is what I missed the most. Those who choose to live in isolated rural areas need to be prepared for a day or two without the grid. A big concern is alternate heating (not difficult) and air conditioning should temperatures stay over 80 day and night.
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Aesma
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Re: California's Electrical Grid

Sun Sep 13, 2020 10:36 pm

The example seem to be an electricity hungry home. If you want to have that, then yes you need a bigger battery.

Also, the idea with smart grids is not to "maximize self-consumption savings" but for the grid to tell you when it will be helpful if you run on your battery.

Tesla's Powerwall 2 is 13,5KWh, and apparently it's "recommended" to install two of them, so that's 27KWh, with 10KW continuous power, that should be good enough for most houses.

Depending on the needs (backup power only) just having an electric car might be enough to get that capability in a few years.
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GalaxyFlyer
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Re: California's Electrical Grid

Mon Sep 14, 2020 12:26 am

We had a tropical storm pass west of us by a good distance last month. Our power was out for 72+ hours, a friend’s in CT for a week. A battery won’t do that, we have a 22KW generator. Needed it for seventh or eighth time.
 
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Aaron747
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Re: California's Electrical Grid

Mon Sep 14, 2020 1:25 am

GalaxyFlyer wrote:
We had a tropical storm pass west of us by a good distance last month. Our power was out for 72+ hours, a friend’s in CT for a week. A battery won’t do that, we have a 22KW generator. Needed it for seventh or eighth time.


Our power was out for five days following the ‘89 Loma Prieta quake. My dad had a generator but only enough gas for us to use sparingly. If batteries become the norm, a primary/secondary battery system would seem to make more sense for long outages - one bank with more capacity for kitchen/garage needs, and a second smaller one for less critical stuff.
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frmrCapCadet
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Re: California's Electrical Grid

Mon Sep 14, 2020 1:37 am

An important decision to make on emergency preparedness is how many days you want to be able to do it. In our rural area I figured we were good for upwards of a week. If gas were available we could have gone a lot longer. One of the more dire steps is relocation.
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Sokes
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Re: California's Electrical Grid

Tue Sep 15, 2020 1:56 pm

Batteries are no solution for occasional blackouts. They age.
Diesel generators on village level (economy of scale) may rather be something. Better would be combined cycle gas turbines. Renewables anyway need redundant power supply.
If solar batteries cycle once a day, that's a different issue.
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Francoflier
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Re: California's Electrical Grid

Tue Sep 15, 2020 3:22 pm

Sokes wrote:
Batteries are no solution for occasional blackouts. They age.


It depends what you call 'batteries'. Batteries like the ones we commonly use do age (lead-acid, Lithium, Cadmium...) but that doesn't mean that all electric storage solutions do age at the same rate.
Aside from the obvious alternatives like hydraulic storage which never really wears out, there are chemistries being researched which would allow for quasi-unlimited battery longevity with the use of much more common elements, making them much more affordable and reliable, though at the cost of weight and volume, which are of little concern in a static, large scale installation anyway.

That being said, lithium based chemistries are far from having reached their full potential either, and the push for greater longevities and lower prices in the automobile industry may well lead to cheaper batteries that will last decades, well suited for grid storage applications.

If there is one field where research is in overdrive mode at the moment, it's the energy storage one.
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dtw2hyd
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Re: California's Electrical Grid

Thu Sep 17, 2020 4:46 pm

Not specific to California, but a word on smartgrids. I have been in the current house for 18 years, over 17 years we had unplanned cut 3-4 times including the blackout. Even during severe snow storms and thunderstorms never lost power. Last year they "upgraded" to smart equipment, since we had 5 unplanned cuts, not even weather related, some times so bad they cannot even give an ETA. To add insult to the injury, utility sends a "How we did" survey.
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Re: California's Electrical Grid

Thu Sep 17, 2020 7:22 pm

I think the cause to many problem on US infrastructure is actually because of the lack of density. Over same distance of network, be it road or rail or gas or electric or water, there are probably less residents per kiloneter in the United States cokpares to mostly anywhere else in rest of the world. Thus even if American pay the same as rest of the world to build or maintain something per person, the resulting budget is still going to be less than what other countries can gather per each kilometer of infrastructure
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stl07
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Re: California's Electrical Grid

Sat Sep 19, 2020 4:39 am

stratosphere wrote:
Aaron747 wrote:
flyguy89 wrote:

From the same article:

Severin Borenstein, an energy economist at the University of California, Berkeley, who serves on the governing board of the Independent System Operator, says the state’s growing reliance on renewables “definitely” played a role in the blackouts. He notes that the outages on Friday and Saturday both occurred as solar power was ramping down in the early evening. Changes that have reduced the share of energy coming from fossil-fuel plants, including the retirement of natural-gas facilities in California and a decrease in coal generation in neighboring states, have narrowed the safety margin for the system, he adds.

“That in no way says we shouldn’t be doing solar,” Borenstein says. “But it does mean we need to be realistic about what solar provides and what it doesn’t—and it doesn’t provide power after the sun goes down.”


There isn't enough base electricity to handle the ebbs and flows of renewables, particularly when other states can't or won't sell their excess capacity to California. So long as California continues to press ahead with the decommissioning of their "always-on" natural gas and nuclear energy sources, they will continue to experience this issue.

Realistically, if they want to go carbon neutral, they should be investing in and maintain enough nuclear facilities to cover for the inherent ebbs and flows of renewables.


Yup, the issues are interrelated. Storage for energy from renewable sources is inadequate, and those sources are often located too far from existing storage infrastructure.

In principle I agree that nuclear energy is an excellent resource and cannot support the decommissioning fervor that swept through the west following Japan's 2011 disaster. It is purely emotional and not based on science. Even if you could convince Californians that new nuclear plants were a good long-term solution, the issue then becomes location. Nuclear plants need access to water, and that leaves few options - either the San Joaquin Valley rivers or the coast. The latter is out due to coastal protections, so you'd have to convince agribusiness that they have no reason to fear being downwind from a nuclear plant. In the disinformation age, that'll be a tall order.


My cousin is a stress engineer for [email protected] and over 20 years ago was living in San Luis Obispo and worked at the Diablo Canyon Nuclear power plant. He basically was involved in helping it withstand an earthquake. I went to visit him there and he got to take me on a tour of the power plant. Was very impressive first thing I noticed besides the crazy temperature drop from the city out to the power plant since it's right on the pacific was the heavily armed guards around the place. I had to go thru the "sniffer" machine and metal detectors before going in. He moved away from that area and back to San Fran due to his bad allergies but the plant was upgraded to withstand a 7.5 magnitude earthquake. Diablo Canyon I believe is the only nuclear power plant left in California and is slated to close in 2024-2025 area. So they are going into even more investment in renewables. So they will be a slave to other states to provide excess power even more than they are now. I understand the concerns of disasters and global warming but they need to get a grip on reality too the sun and wind can't do everything.

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