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Proposed ‘Green New Deal’ Climate Change Policies, Feasibilities and Probable Impacts – Part 1

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Politics have clearly played a major role in addressing U.S. actions towards Climate Change.  The ‘Green New Deal’, recently proposed by Congressional Democrats, appears to be the next major strategy towards reducing future U.S. carbon emissions.  While part of the Green New Deal definitely has its merits, the question that needs to be more objectively addressed is: ‘Can the recently proposed Green New Deal’s Climate Change policies feasibly eliminate most U.S. carbon emissions by 2030, and do so, affordably for all current and future U.S. Residents?’.

One of the ‘Green New Deal” (GND) apparent first priority’s is transitioning the U.S. Power Sector to ‘100% Renewable Power’, with possibly some level of ‘net-zero’ carbon emissions.  The GND’s next proposed steps cover effectively eliminating most carbon emissions from the U.S. Transportation, Residential/Commercial and Industrial Sectors’ in the near future. 

This ‘Part 1’ post will address the feasibilities and likely costs of transitioning the Power Sector’s net electricity generation to 100% Renewables by 2030.

How Feasible is Transitioning the U.S. Power Sector to 100% Renewables by 2030?

There is increasing debate over the feasibility of converting the U.S.’s Power Section’s Fossil Fuels net power generation to 100% Renewables by about 2030 as proposed in the GND.  The feasibility of this proposed Federal regulatory policy is possibly based on the fact that U.S. Power Sector’s total Renewable Power, including Hydropower, has nearly doubled 2008-2018.  The major contributors have clearly been primarily increased Renewable Wind and Solar Power net generation.

The Power Sector’s ‘non-hydro’ (excluding Hydropower) Renewables currently (2018) supply 10% of total net generation; 9% Wind + Solar and 1% all other non-hydro Renewables (Biomass/Wood & Biowaste fuels, and Geothermal).  Wind + Solar Power net generation has increased by an amazing 540% 2008-2018.  This by far has been the largest percentage increase of all U.S. Power Sector ‘Renewables’ generation sources recently, and, will most likely be the primary/most feasible solution to achieving Power Sector’s GND 100% Renewables goal.

For a variety of reasons, many Liberals often do not support ‘zero carbon’ Nuclear Power or possibly expanding existing Hydropower.  The rationalization for these positions is often based on safety and environmental impact concerns.  While the significance of these concerns is definitely debatable, the future costs of achieving the GND 100% Power Sector Renewable power goal will be significantly greater without reasonably sustaining these alternative ‘zero carbon’ technologies.  Even though, Renewable Wind + Solar Power has been the largest source of increased ‘zero carbon’ net power generation over the past decade, expanding these sources of Renewable Power to replace all Fossil Fuels Power generation, which currently makes up 63% of total U.S. Power Sector net generation, will be extremely challenging and most likely very costly.  Arbitrarily, excluding/shutting down Nuclear Power (20% of current total Power Sector’s net generation), will most likely make expanding Wind + Solar Power by 2030 increasingly infeasible.  Based on these factors, in order to possibly achieve replacing all Fossil Fuels Power generation with Renewables, primarily Wind + Solar Power, by 2030 will require sustaining most existing Nuclear & Hydropower generation plants-capacities.

Based on the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s EIA data and forecasts reports, a detailed analysis & projections were developed for the current and future Power Sectors net generation mixes.  Refer to the following Table 1.

Even with basically sustaining most Nuclear + Hydropower in the future as projected by the EIA in 2030 (AEO), total Wind + Solar Power net generation definitely must be substantially increased (by over 750% 2018-2030) in order to provide future net power generation as required for displacing all the Power Sector’s fossil fuels consumptions & associated carbon emissions by 2030. 

Factors that affect the Renewable Technologies that most Feasibly can Displace Fossil Fuels Power

Besides providing the vast majority of recent increases of Power Sector’s ‘Renewables’ net generation, the capital costs of Solar PV Power generation ($/KW) have declined almost by half and Wind Power somewhat significantly, in recent years.  Renewables Supporters often state that future Wind and Solar Power capacity cost reductions will become increasing more cost competitive to all other sources of Power Sector generation in the future.  While this $ per KW capacity cost factor has been directionally accurate (with the help of past-significant Governments’ subsidies support), what is most often over looked or not well understood are the impacts of Power Generation technologies’ actual-average ‘capacity factors’.  Unlike Nuclear, Coal and most Natural Gas Power plants that have ‘maximum’ capacity factors up to 90%, variable (not-fully-controllable) Wind and Solar PV Power generation can only operate on average up to about 35% and 25% respectively; of maximum design power generation levels.  In other words, when the wind does not blow or the sun does not shine at maximum design-power generation rates, Wind turbines can only generate (annual average) maximum design power for (24hrs. x 0.35 =) 8.4 hrs./day, and Solar PV, (24hrs. x 0.25 =) 6 hrs./day on average per year. 

Review of recent EIA data indicates that Coal and Natural Gas Power plants ‘average’ capacity factors are about 50%-70%, not up to 90% similar to Nuclear Power plants.  This is true, but what is not well understood or communicated is the fact that Coal and Natural Gas Power plants average capacity factors are not based on the ‘maximum’ design levels similar to Wind or Solar Power, but are based on Power Grid’s supply-demand operations and required/controllable generation levels needed to continuously sustain Power Grids and distribution systems stabilities & reliabilities.  Unlike Wind and Solar PV Power, in which maximum generation levels are normally weather related (and uncontrollable), Coal and Natural Gas Power plants lower then maximum capacity factors & generation levels are result of controlling and continuously balancing all Power Grids’ power supply-demand’s.  Automatic/controlled power generation is required to basically optimizes all Grid’s Transmission & Distribution (T&D) systems’ in order to continuously maintain required power systems’ voltages, frequencies and amps levels.  Also, more economic/lower cost Natural Gas Power generation has increasingly reduced the operations of many higher cost (and carbon) Coal Power in recent years; due to large reductions in natural gas market costs in recent years and expanded Power Grid’s Natural Gas Power generation capacities.

Another factor that impacts Coal and Natural Gas Power plants’ actual-average ‘capacity factors’ is properly maintaining Power Grids ‘baseload’ and on-demand or ‘peaking power’ net generation requirements, as needed by all Centralized Power Grids; 24/7 ‘on-demand’ power systems.  This includes routinely maximizing the capacity factors of all variable/largely uncontrollable Wind and Solar PV Power generation by continuously adjusting Natural Gas Peaking Power generation; up and down as required to reliably operate all Power Grids.  Unlike recent claims that ‘Baseload’ power generation is obsolete, and, that installation of ‘Smart Grids’ technologies and distributed power will enable solely huge expansions of variable Wind & Solar PV Power, Baseload Power generation is absolutely required for stable/reliably Power Systems’ continuous operations.  The reality is that displacing all Fossil Fuels Baseload and Peaking Power net generation with variable Wind & Solar (PV) Power will actually require massive construction-installations of Industrial scale electric Power Storage.  With installations of primarily chemical-batteries/Industrial grade technologies (very likely the most feasible, efficient and economic storage technology compared to other thermal/physical power storage technology options), variable Wind and Solar PV Power could feasibly displace all Baseload & Peaking Power generation currently supplied by Fossil Fuels Power Plants.

There are definitely alternative technologies to Wind Farms & Solar PV with huge Power Storage batteries.  These include Solar Thermal, Coal Plants with CC&S, and other alternatives such as expanding Geothermal Power.  However, based on recent histories/developments of these alternative Renewable and generally ‘net-zero’ technologies, these alternatives appear to not be as very cost competitive compared to Centralized Wind or Solar PV with Industrial scale Power Storage, currently. 

Another option to substantially expanding Centralized Renewables with Power Storage technologies is possibly installing ‘Distributed Power’ systems.  Examples include substantially expanding Residential & Commercial structural/buildings’ rooftop Solar PV systems, and possibly building numerous smaller Wind & hydro/water turbine systems.  Yes, these options can be part of the GND solutions, but most likely not be anywhere near the scale required for 100% Power Sector Renewables.  One major factor that affects the cost effectiveness of these Distributed Renewable power technologies/supplies vs. Centralize Wind + Solar PV Power is the cost per KWh net generation.  Due largely to the fact that smaller roof top/distributed Solar PV panels or smaller Wind/water turbines are much less efficient and have substantially lower capacity factors than Centralized Solar PV and Wind Power Plants.  This results in the capital costs of Distributed Renewables being largely uncompetitive to Centralized Wind and Solar PV Power generation farms & plants.

Probable Costs for Transitioning the U.S. Power Sector to 100% Renewables/Zero-Carbon by 2030

Assuming that the future developing GND allows sustaining current zero-carbon Nuclear and Hydropower generation as projected by the EIA AEO2019 in 2030, and with Centralized Power Grids’ Wind Farms and Solar PV Power generation plants plus adequate Power Storage, the ultimate Renewable Power solution will very likely be as documented in the above Table 1: 2030 ‘GND’.

Using recent EIA ‘levelized cost’ data (2016-18 data, adjusted for 2025 average costs) for installing an assumed 50% Wind + 50% Solar PV Power mix, with adequate Power Storage to displace all Fossil Fuels Baseload and Peaking Power generation, the cost impacts will be most likely very large.  In addition to the EIA ‘levelized costs’ for Centralized Wind + Solar PV Power + Power Storage there are very significant added costs required for the new generation equipment.  These include (at minimum) new/improved infrastructures for Transmission & Distribution (T&D) systems, normal T&D power system losses, numerous T&D lines connections & upgrades, and most likely, upgraded ‘Smart Grid’ technology that fully addresses mechanical reliability’s and ‘Cyber Security’.  Many T&D systems’ upgrades will be needed to more effectively mitigate most weather related risks (fires, hurricanes, tornadoes, etc.).  Another major future maintenance expense will be the normal wear and limited lifespans of battery Storage Power systems, which currently must be replaced about every 10 years.  Most of these cost factors are generally included in the following Table 2.

Table 2 clearly shows that to replace all Fossil Fuels Power with Renewable Wind + Solar PV Power (50/50) will cost at least $6.57 Trillion 2018-2030.  This cost could significantly increase due to further possible cost increases of Wind and Solar Power equipment in the near future.  Unlike past cost reductions experienced, due to Free Market driven and reasonably controllable increases in these Renewables’ Manufacturing capacities/efficiencies, the Federal Government’s GND forcing substantially increased equipment demands by over 7-fold from current (2018) production volumes, will very possibly drive costs up considerable higher in the near future due to increasingly limited equipment supplies. 

If one assumes the substantial increased demand for U.S. Wind & Solar Power equipment can be met by International & National Manufacturers at the costs estimates shown in Table 2, the minimum $6.57 Trillion cost will have a substantial economic impact of all Power Companies.  Whether you assume the solution is ‘Carbon Taxes’ or other alternatives, the cost impacts will most likely be placed on all U.S. electric power Consumers.  In other words, Power Companies and Public Utility Commissions could likely require U.S. Consumers power purchase costs increases on the order of over 21 cents/KWh 2018-2030.  This will effectively increase U.S. average power costs by 3-times the current average level of 10.5 cents/KWh, by 2030.

Is such an increase in average U.S. electric power costs reasonably affordable?  Before you can more fully answer this question, I suggest reviewing my next future post “Proposed ‘Green New Deal’ Climate Change Policies, Feasibilities and Probable Impacts – Part 2”, that will next cover the GND added cost impacts on the ‘U.S. Transportation Sector’ 2018-2030.

John Miller's picture

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John Miller's picture
John Miller on Feb 25, 2019 4:13 pm GMT

One added piece of information for those who are unaware of International power costs in other Developed Countries.  Increasing U.S. average power costs for Consumers by 300% within the next decade could be very burdensome on most Residents; particularly since this price increase is totally unprecedent in the history of the U.S.  However, if you live or have lived in some EU Countries such as Germany, which historically and currently, has power costs over three times U.S. current markets, you might not find this energy cost factor overly concerning.  However, despite claims that renewable power is cost-competitive to fossil fuels, Germany still only produces less than half of its total power generation (within its country’s boarders) from renewables.  This being the actual case, U.S. Power Sector generation will possibly increase well above my initial estimate of 3-fold over the next decade.

Nathan Wilson's picture
Nathan Wilson on Feb 28, 2019 5:14 am GMT

John, the difficulty of high penetration wind and solar is not just a result of their low capacity factor, but that and the fact that wind and sun are correlated over huge distances ... hundreds of miles! 

So even though the use of long distance transmission to smooth the output of many variable generators is a helpful strategy, it is still not good enough to solve the problem: there will always be many times of very high solar & wind total grid output, and other times of very low solar & wind output.

As a result, the system cost grows rapidly with solar and windpower penetration.  This makes a zero-fossil fuel solution based on renewables extremely unlikely.

Advocates of renewables are leading us down a false path if they don't also advocate for fossil fuel with CC&S for backup.

John Miller's picture
John Miller on Mar 2, 2019 5:43 pm GMT

Nathan, I absolutely agree with your comments.  Having adequate ‘baseload’ and controllable-variable or peaking power generation is definitely required for stable Power Grids supplies-and-demands.  That’s why I suggest that adding enormous battery storage would possibly be the primary solution to massive expansion of Wind & Solar PV Power (only), and will definitely be required without adequate controllable-baseload and variable power generation sources; such as substantially increased Advanced Nuclear or CC&S (most likely Natural Gas) Power generation.  What most ‘renewable energy only’ Advocates don’t apparently seem to fully understand is that if we are to properly sustain our Power Grids reliabilities and operate with current ‘on-demand’ Consumer power supplies-systems, U.S. Power Systems ‘brown-outs’ and ‘black-outs’ will become very common in the future.  The solution in this case could possibly involve fully controlling Consumers’ power demands, i.e. shutting down power demand-access in a fully controlled/managed process for various Consumers by the Power Grids’ Operators/auto-controls.

Marcus Pun's picture
Marcus Pun on Feb 28, 2019 10:09 pm GMT

John Miller, nice start for a necessary conversation. One major thing you have omitted is the still low hanging fruit of energy conservation as a way of reducing energy production.  Increased computerization of commercial building electricity consumption, increased home insulation, greater efficiencies in air conditioning, etc. are still waiting to be tapped to some extent. One of the biggest changes will be in lighting. According to energy.gov, "By 2027, widespread use of LEDs could save about 348 TWh (compared to no LED use) of electricity: This is the equivalent annual electrical output of 44 large electric power plants (1000 megawatts each".  Of course this is likely going to be offset by EV adoption, which is slower but never=theless will happen. That initself may be offset by on site solar. Just about every EV owner I know has had a solar system installed. (Anectdotal but worth checking).

Another thing of note, while Germany prices are high, and yes they are a bit less then triple American prices - 12 cents versus 33 cents/KWh, per customer costs are actually comparable. In 2015, the average German household power bill fell slightly from 85 euros to 84 euros per month. or about $96 dollars per month US. That is lower than the monthly bill 45 states, some of which are higher than $110 per month.   https://www.eia.gov/electricity/sales_revenue_price/pdf/table5_a.pdf. 

While Germany currently gets 42% of electricity from renewables, California now gets over 30%. That is triple the amount generated a mere 10 years ago and doesn't even include the behind the meter production from more than 6.2 GW of installed solar. So that total renewable figure is significantly higher than the CAL-ISO numbers. https://www.locusenergy.com/blog/year-review-behind-meter-solar-unmasking-secret-solar-california.  If you were to add large hydro and nuclear to the California mix, the percentage of non fossil electricity goes up to 52% as of 2017.

Reducing the demand for electricity production is just as important as creating production.  Worldwide energy intensity measured as BTU/$GDP has been falling over the past 25 years.(https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=27032)  California has demonstrated this over the past 40 years, as it has led the nation in energy conservation, very much supported by industry. (https://www.nrdc.org/sites/default/files/eecal.pdf).  In 2016 California ranked lowest in per capita electricity consumption at 6,536 KWh/year. The US average is 11,634KWh/year with Wisoncin the highest at over 28,000 KWh/year.  Adding energy conservation to the mix makes having an overall green grid much more possible, or at the very least, a very green grid.

 

John Miller's picture
John Miller on Mar 2, 2019 8:26 pm GMT

Marcus, you definitely make some very good points.  Yes, future reduced per capita power consumption will definitely help contribute to the solution of reducing Power Sector’s generation levels from all sources of current and future power generation sources.  As you state, reduced power consumption will be part of the solution towards the Green New Deal renewables strategy.  It will definitely come from a combination of reduced demands from increased Consumers’ equipment energy efficiencies (LED lights, HVAC, etc.), buildings’/structure’s increased thermal efficiencies (insulation, ventilation, etc.), and further increased distributed solar PV installations.  Another very important factor will be increased installations of ‘smart buildings’ technologies, including auto lighting shut-off from motion sensors and/or programmed controls, scheduling-optimizing power usage of major appliances, and residential/commercial equipment timing-usage via auto-management controls (washers, dryers, charging EV’s and/or building batteries, etc.); as required to optimize consumption based on power availability and to minimize overall daily total-market costs. 

Yes, U.S. states such as California and EU Countries such as Germany, have made significant progress in reducing per capita and per GDP power/energy consumptions.  Besides the Governments’ regulations/subsidies (declining green energy capital costs, net (retail market) metering subsidies, etc.), one of the major economic influences has been higher power costs.  California’s power costs are just over 50% greater than average U.S. States’ power costs.  Besides these increased economic/regulatory incentives to purchase and install more efficient electric equipment/fixtures and Solar PV, in higher power costs states such as California vs. say Louisiana (16.06 vs. 7.79 cent/KWh respectively), higher power costs also have incentivized Commercial and Industrial Sectors to reduce their operating expenses via increased production/operating efficiencies.  This factor of course has definitely contributed to increase economic GDP efficiencies, or reduced power per GDP over time.  This factor has also definitely influenced the proposal(s) to implement ‘carbon taxes’ in the future, which will increase power costs in all States and the incentive to reduce power consumption(s).

Marcus Pun's picture
Marcus Pun on Mar 5, 2019 10:37 pm GMT

I have to cringe every time someone brings up unit cost as a singular factor in decision making. Yes, Europe and California have higher per unit rates. In part those increases in unit cost are because per unit distribution is spread among fewer customers as they conserve more and more energy. So while Louisiana's average electrical residential electricity comes in at 9.01 cents per KWH and California's comes in at 19.44 cents, the average monthly bills come in at 115.54 for 2 million households versus  $101.49/ month for more than 13 million households.  As noted above, in comparison, Germany's average bill is about $96/ month, lower than California.

In terms of demand and such I have to say I had a front row seat at UC Berkeley as Prof. Art Rosenfeld and others guided California's energy policies in the 1970's. California's initial energy conservation initiatives - insulation, appliance standards, etc, not cost, was the main driver that first cut consumer and industrial demand, such that by a mere half dozen or so years into the program,  PG&E had to delay or cancel construction of 5 power plants because of reduced demand in both residential and commercial sectors.  Historically California's per capita demand has been relatively flat since 1975. Had it grown along with the rest of the country we would have had to construct at least 20 1,000MW power plants (Lawrence Berkeley Lab study https://eta.lbl.gov/sites/all/files/related-files/caenhancesenergyefficiency.pdf) Having said that, today prices are definitely a major determanent, along with policy and the desire to green the grid in commercial and residential power decisions, It's why many companies have added solar on site in California as a way of lowering costs,  Just have to say knowing some of the coporate decision making that goes on, there is a large effort to green our grid from boardroom to kitchen table by people who recognize the need to mitigate CO2 emissions as much as possible. 

In terms of reliability in California both solar and wind do very well. Numerous California school campuses have installed enough solar to take care of most energy needs and have surplus available for the grid. In Silicon Valley while a 350 KW install may not deal effectively with a room full of servers and a large campus, it can defintiely power multiple EV charging stations and in one case I know, also a cafeteria.  Nearby at Fortinet, they have over 900KW of panels supplying 1,361,000 KWH annually (https://www.blueoakenergy.com/solar-portfolio/fortinet-solar-case-study).  Budweiser in Fairfield California now has 2 wind turbines, as well as 7 acres of solar that supplies 30% of its electrical needs.  California has a large amount of rapidly growing BTM production [CAISO BTM capacity climbed from under 1,000 megawatts (MW) in early 2012 to 6,265 MW by May 2018.] that has been reducing overall state demand on the grid.   Overall renewable installation has outpaced California's overall energy use and will continue to do so.  Modular construction, be it solar panel or wind blade or inverter, makes replacements and upgrades easier to handle.

What this means is that by 2025, instead of 2030 as previously thought, California may reach 90%-100% renewable, including nuclear and large hydro in the energy source mix.  Coal will pretty much be out of the picture while the existing gas turbine fleet will be reduced considerably from its currrent one third of state energy production. In terms of our nascent storage capability, currently 75MWh on the grid, or more is at the bottom of what will be an accelerating growth curvve, likely faster than that of solar. Some of that will be added to BTM as well. Already 1 to 2 MWh installations are being installed in Silicon Valley and elsewhere with those units planned for expansion in the future. Again it will be a mix of grid and BTW growth that will drive state energy production.  

One note. Batteries do not have to be installed outside exposed to the elements. It is relatively easy to construct insulated barriers should they be needed. or they can be placed in existing structures.  1 MWh can take up the footprint of a small bedroom.  Also, running some battery power to provide heat or cooling would likely be built into construction designs, and while adding some cost, will still complete the storage portion of renewable grids and microgrids.   However that all may be overkill. The Tesla ESS power packs are rated -22°F to 122°F / -30°C to 50°C. That takes care of most environments.

We are heading to building out a more renewable energy infrastructure regardless of political headwinds.

John Miller's picture
John Miller on Mar 6, 2019 11:26 pm GMT

Marcus, you make some very good points in the progress California has made in renewable power generation over the years.  FYI, I was born, raised and lived in the California San Francisco Bay Area most of my life, and also spend a large part of my technical-professional career within California.  So, I have some direct knowledge/experience of this U.S. West Coast energy market.  Yes, California has made exceptional progress in developing renewable power generation over the years.  During my residence in California I was able to watch and analyze the development of the very large wind farms in the Altamont Pass, and the San Gorgonio Pass and Alta (Mojave) wind farms/valleys.  Since the Altamont Pass wind farms began development in the early 1980’s, its quite the example-museum of the evolution-development of many wind turbines’ technologies.

What many folks do not understand is the importance of ‘Baseload’ and ‘Peaking’ (intermediate-fully controllable) power generation to properly-efficiently maintaining/managing Power Grids supply-demand stabilities and systems’ reliabilities.  Yes, California has increased its renewable power up to about 34% today, which is the highest in the U.S. and among the highest in the overall World today.  However, this only includes about 65% Baseload + Peaking power generation, which is fairly low compared to average U.S. States.  So, how does California avoid the extreme/unprecedented power shortages and blackouts it experienced about 20 years ago?   California must and does rely on about 25% of its total power supplies from other U.S. West Coast-Regional States.   Yes, this imported power supplies from other U.S. States partially comes from zero carbon Nuclear (Arizona) and renewable Hydropower (northwest States), however, a large part comes from Natural Gas Power today.  Without these U.S. States’ power imports, California’s 34% total-intermediate renewables power would likely be risking a repeat of past blackouts & brownouts experienced in the early 2000’s; due to political actions with consequences that led to major supply shortages.  These power supplies imports are also a likely source of some of the increased California market power costs. 

And, power supply imports from adjacent EU Countries, is also the most likely enabling factor on how Germany has been able to substantially expand its renewable power generation-supplies up to about 38% recently; on average.

This Power Grid supply-demand and reliability risk in substantially increasing U.S. intermediate/uncontrollable renewable Wind and Solar PV power is why I assumed in this Proposed GND Part 1 Post that the future expansion of U.S. total Power Sector power generation up to 100% renewables will definitely require massive levels of increased Industrial scale power storage.

Tal Paperany's picture
Tal Paperany on Mar 1, 2019 1:44 pm GMT

John,

First of all, thank you very much for the informative article. Although I am not an American, I can assure you we all face the same problems, have the same goals and fear the same upcoming consequences of Energy Transition anticipated costs. The GND has brought nothing new to the table and it is actually a replica of UN 2030 Agenda.

I truly believe you have done a thorough analysis and the figures which brought you into the conclusion you mention are quite obvious and based.

But, I guess some of the relevant points haven't been raised here, and those points might change the perspective entirely.

For example - The absurd inefficiency of the current Grid  - according to some statements the U.S. loses more than 67.8% of the electricity that is generated in US Grid!!! - https://www.3dfs.com/articles/wasted-electricity-vs-lost-electricity-in-the-u-s-electrical-grid/12/2015

Considering the aforementioned Grid inefficiency, I doubted whether Centralized Solar PV and Wind Power Plants could actually compete with Distributed Renewable power technologies/supplies for self-consumption – which actually almost eliminate the need  for reconstruction of Transmission & Distribution (T&D) systems, practically eliminate the normal T&D power system losses, and/or do not require numerous T&D lines connections & upgrades.

Considering the security issues and/or natural impacts – isn't it obvious that the very principle of distributed systems makes them much more resistant to hazards and resilient to cyber-attacks and/or impacts of natural disasters.

My point is that if we have to adapt

to changes we all face, we can't keep utilizing the same principles that worked in the past, in the centralized energy economy which was reasonable considering fossil fuel sources.

Replacing fossil fuel power plants by Centralized RE plants without taking Energy Efficiency measures, etc. won't do the job in the long run.

In my humble opinion, the current utilities and power companies will share the destiny of dinosaurs unless they realize the urgent necessity for changing the very principle of their operations.

As matter of fact, I believe there is a way to make Energy Transition much less painful and/or costly (and I mean cutting costs you mentioned by 50-80%) + creation of totally new and RE friendly economy with millions of new jobs, but it will require making some unpopular (to utilities) decisions.

I wonder – would the policymakers be interested and/or capable to do so? Who is our target beneficiary – the end–user or power company/utility?

John Miller's picture
John Miller on Mar 2, 2019 9:24 pm GMT

Tal, you make some very good points on centralized power vs. renewable alternative power systems.  Yes, supply-demand and transportation & distribution (T&D) power systems’ efficiencies are very important, but not likely very well understood by many politicians and special interest groups.  As you are probably aware, the reason why I have assumed/projected future renewables generation (Wind & Solar PV) systems will be based on (required) huge power supply batteries’ installations, is to reliably-controllably supply primarily existing centralized Power Grids and T&D systems.  This, of course, reduces future expenses compared to totally replacing all/most centralized Power Grids/T&D systems with more-new distributed renewable power systems. 

However, the problem with intermediate renewable power generation/storage technologies in all cases, assuming the huge power storage systems are actually feasible, installed and available, is that chemical battery power storage technologies/efficiencies are affected by weather conditions; i.e. temperatures.  What most Renewables (only) Advocates probably don’t understand is that chemical batteries power storage capacities, efficiencies and lifespans are significantly affected by operating temperatures caused largely by local weather conditions.  Those land areas that freeze during the winter and/or over heat during the summer, with installed batteries’ power systems, the equipment power generation-delivery efficiencies decline and capacities/lifespans are reduced at far greater rates than electric power generation/storage equipment located in more tempered/moderate temperature land/weather condition(s) areas.  In other words, if the renewable electric power generation/storage systems are installed in higher elevations and/or more towards the north/south poles or lower elevation deserts or more towards the equator, the power generation, storage and discharge power efficiencies will be far less than more temperate land/weather locations.  Non-renewable Centralized Power (Nuclear, Hydro, Natural Gas, etc.) generation/T&D systems are far more efficient, and, will likely continue to be more cost effective with time due to greater systems’ efficiencies and average-lower costs due to longer equipment lifespans.

And, yes, the target customers for power should always be the final Consumers; Residential, Commercial, etc..  That’s one of the reasons why here in the U.S., Governments’ Public Utility Commissions generally manage all distributed power systems operations, installations and power costs/billings.

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