New Report Describes Total Decarbonisation Dream as Wishful Thinking
Jolly good I hear you say. However, it can be troublesome balancing this level of wind as other plant are forced to run below their optimum efficiency. The additional unforeseen wind also creates more problems as scheduled plant are constrained off. Variances in the frequency are a good indicator of just how much trouble these high wind conditions can cause. A stable frequency is required for a stable grid and a certain amount of conventional plant is required to maintain the frequency within a tiny range.
As the wind level rises, the frequency falls below 50Hz. At around 15:40, some of the wind energy is shut off and the frequency returns again to 50 Hz.
These technical problems have been highlighted in a new report on the German electricity grid (Hidden Consequences of Intermittent Electricity Production).
Another important difficulty caused by intermittency is the increased vulnerability of the electricity grid to instabilities. This is particularly visible in countries that are not so well interconnected like Ireland. An example of a threatening oscillation occurring at a 400MW power generator (24/4/2014 between 21:40:40 and 21:41:00) is shown in Fig. 3 (adapted from M.Zarifakis et al., “Models for the transient stability of conventional power generations stations connected to low inertia systems”, Eur. Phys. J. Plus , No.6, 289 (2017), ).
Grid stability is now a major issue around Europe :
Further, if one keeps the current Alternative Current grid technology, a certain minimum amount (~ 20-25%) of “rotating mass” has to be present to guarantee stability. If this cannot be sufficiently provided using biomass, and if fossil and nuclear based power stations are not allowed, problems will arise. Instabilities caused by large contributions of intermittent power e.g. from wind or solar PV pose a major threat to the stability of the electrical network of a country and to the safe operation of conventional generator systems, as exemplified in Ireland. If no economical solution can be found for such difficulties, conventional backup power based on fossil fuels or nuclear power will necessarily have to remain part of the electricity system.Their conclusion is in agreement with the work carried out on this blog :
A last point is the economic feasibility of such a system. Germany, with currently an installed capacity of about 90GW in solar PV and wind, has one of the largest renewable systems installed in the world. The cost (including feed-in tariffs, subsidies, extra costs because of court cases due to unfulfilled promises etc…) is estimated between 250 and 300 billion Euros, integrated over the last 10 years. The CO reduction on world scale realized by this system is less than 1‰. As discussed above, a 100% iRES without backup or storage systems makes not much economical sense and will lead to a doubling or tripling of the total costs, compared to the conventional system in use now. It is to be expected that not many countries are able to pay for such a costly and inefficient system. The question can thus be raised if the current EU plans for the electricity sector are bound to fail?
Finally, the electricity sector is only a minor part of the problem. If one wants to completely decarbonise our economy then one should also include other private and economic sectors. Given already the challenge of a 100% renewable electricity system and the complexity of replacing the present primary energy supply based mainly on chemical energy by renewables, this total decarbonisation looks to be wishful thinking, at least at the present stage of technology. Would it not be more useful to invest in research and development of conventional and new energy systems rather than blindly investing in an existing “green” technology which seems bound to miss its goal? The other question is whether decarbonisation should be our primary concern. Is this really the best investment for a better future for mankind, as discussed in B.Lomborg, “Cool It”?A critical assessment of the EU plans is also voiced in countries outside the EU, in particular the United States under the presidency of Obama. Does transforming the present primary electricity supply (based presently mainly on fossil and nuclear sources) into a 100 % intermittent Renewable Energy System, as imposed by the EU, need to be the challenge and moral quest of the 21century? This will for sure affect our society and standard of living if current EU plans are not corrected for the problems that are emerging from the grand renewable experiment in Germany of the recent years.
The full report can be found here :