Sunday, December 29, 2013

A Nuclear dream is set to come true: M.R. Srinivasan

"There is recognition worldwide that there are advantages to building a closed fuel cycle nuclear industry, as India has championed..."

A Nuclear dream is set to come true: M.R. Srinivasan | Deccan Chronicle:
One of the most important technological enterprises India has undertaken since Independence is now treading its last mile towards completion and commissioning. Called the Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR), it is expected to go critical in September 2014, around the very time India’s Mars Orbiter reaches orbit around the Red Planet.
When the PFBR goes critical, India will have entered the second phase of a three-stage nuclear programme, the visionary plan for which was laid as far back as 1958 by Homi Jehangir Bhabha, the ‘Father of the Indian nuclear programme’. It will also have become a world leader in an area of advanced nuclear technology, by sheer determination and persistence, through 60 years of having had to build our nuclear industry from scratch and in the face of sanctions and other difficulties. Many advanced countries — including the US, the UK, France, and, Japan — have tried fast breeder reactor technology, and have given up, at least for the time being– some citing economic reasons, others because they were not able to surmount technological complexities, or faced public misgivings.
Read M.R. Srinivasan's entire article at the Deccan Chronicle site

And the very next day ... fast reactor news from Russia;

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Don't think now: Another Time-of-use Pricing report in Ontario

The Ontario Energy Board (OEB) has posted a report from favoured consultant Navigant on the impacts of time-of-use pricing which accompanied the roll-out of smart meters in Ontario.

From the letter sent along with the report:
A Board commissioned report (the “Report”) prepared by Navigant Consulting Ltd., entitled “Time of Use Rates in Ontario – Part 1: Impact Analysis” was posted on the Board’s website today...
Navigant’s analysis shows that residential consumers reduced their summer on- peak and mid-peak usage by an average of -3.3% and -2.2%, respectively. Off- peak weekday and weekend consumption increased an average 1.2% and 1.9%, respectively. There was minimal conservation response attributable to TOU rates in the summer period.
  • • Winter residential demand decreased in all TOU periods. These reductions ranged from -3.9% to -3.4% in the mid-peak and on-peak periods, respectively. Off-peak weekday and weekend consumption was also reduced by -2.5% and -1.2%, respectively. These estimates indicate that some of the load reduction could be attributed to conservation in response to TOU rates in the winter period.
  • The findings for the general service customers are weaker than the residential results and are statistically significant only for the summer mid-peak period....

Monday, December 23, 2013

Americans are buying less electricity. That’s a big problem for utilities.

A poor article, from the Washington Post's Wonkblog, on declining electricity consumption.

Americans are buying less electricity. That’s a big problem for utilities.:
Something very unusual has been happening to the U.S. electricity sector over the past three years.
The U.S. economy keeps growing. People are buying bigger homes and plugging in ever more electronic gadgets. And yet power companies have been selling less and less electricity since 2011...'s a massive break from the past. Ever since World War II, electricity sales in the United States have, for the most part, gone up and up and up.
Flashback - over 3 years ago I wrote:
The U.S. Energy Information Administration's Annual Energy Outlook with Projections to 2035 contains a graph which is very similar to Ontario's long term demand growth change. It is less pronounced, probably as the U.S. had a population shift to the south due to the widespread use of air conditioning. Regardless, the U.S. forecasting doesn't have the trend magically adjust in 2015, and does seem to be headed to where Ontario arrived back around 2002 – which is no growth.
It's a deliberate act of illiteracy to interpret the long-term trend as "up and up and up."

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Frak'n gas, short term plans, A Russion reactor in Finland, and provincial electricity pricing.

Donald Jones has a new article that looks at the emissions and energy security issues of Ontario's latest energy plan.

Ontario’s electricity – greenhouse gases up, cost up, security down – 2013 December
With the increasing demand for non-renewable frackgas the effect of short and long term supply shortages and price increases on the space heating needs of homeowners and industry must be examined. Using frackgas for heating and for electricity generation in North America should be an obvious life and death concern given Ontario's cold winters. A "short" term plan would be to stop using frackgas for electricity generation to ensure supplies for home heating.
Graphic from Forbes
In Quebec, reports Quebec might need to import power to meet peak demand is noted by Alain Dubuc in advocating for a switch from electric to gas heating.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Rosatom set for larger share in global nuclear energy market

Rosatom, the Russian state nuclear corporation, has concluded a record number of transactions this year for the construction of nuclear power plants. Rosatom will build the first nuclear power plants in Bangladesh and Jordan, expand its presence in China and India with the help of new power units, and build the Hanhikivi-1 nuclear power plant (NPP) in north-west Finland. The company is also negotiating an agreement on co-operation with South Africa.
Rosatom also started new construction work in 2013: the Akkuyu NPP in Turkey, a nuclear power plant in Belarus and a plant for the production of nuclear fuel in Ukraine. The Russian company offers its customers new reactors that are innovative in terms of security. For example, passive safety systems in the VVER-1200 reactor used in the NPP-2006 plant can guarantee that the so-called Fukushima scenario in Japan will never happen again.
Rosatom has 19 orders for the installation of similar reactors abroad and is building eight such reactors in Russia.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Environmental Defefence's Op-Ed: Green as ...

Nominally environmental, allegedly non-governmental, organization Environmental Defence has an op-ed on the Ottawa Citizen site - written by its executive, director Tim Gray.
The NGO associated with frac gas promises to correct the "dubious assumptions rather than facts" behind a claim that "green power" is responsible for rising electricity bills.
I saw an error starting the second paragraph and decided to note errors as I read through Stop making green power the scapegoat ... should just take a second ...
Subsidies for nuclear power pushed up our electricity generation costs by 43 per cent last year
Electricity rates didn't go up 43% last year.
I know what Gray probably meant - it's wrong too.
Today, wind and solar produce just four per cent of Ontario’s electricity, so blaming them for rising rates is like blaming the cookie you ate for all your weight gain.
Page 20 of "Calculating the RPP Supply Cost"
If you hadn't gained weight on your existing diet, and then you only added cookies to the diet, without changing your energy use, the weight gain would probably be because of the cookies.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Energy, Philosophy, Politics, Art, wonderful nastiness and wind

Terrific, original, work worth noting...

George Monbiot is always worth a read, and I'm always interested in his writings on nuclear - and coal. His latest is good until the end, where I think it's great.

Power Crazed | George Monbiot
You don’t have to be an enthusiast for atomic energy to see that it scarcely features as a health risk beside its rival. I wonder whether the nuclear panic might be a way of not seeing. Displacement is something we all do: fixing on something small to avoid engaging with something big. Coal, on which industrialism was built, which over the past 200 years has come to seem central to our identity, is an industry much bigger and nastier and more embedded than the one we have chosen to fear. I don’t believe our choice is accidental.
Speaking of "fixing on something small to avoid engaging with something big" let's look at the weekend news out of Germany.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

SPD OKs coalition with Merkel - Gabriel Ascending

SPD OKs coalition with Merkel -Recharge News:
Germany's Social Democrats (SPD) in an inner party referendum approved a coalition with Chancellor Angela Merkel; SPD leader Sigmar Gabriel will become minister for economics and energy.
Merkel in a change to her cabinet will create a new ministry for economics and energy that will be headed by SPD leader Sigmar Gabriel.
With that, Gabriel will be the main responsible for the Energiewende - Germany's move away from nuclear ...
I don't hate to say I told you so, so ... Sigmar Gabriel is the source of the quote I used to begin Germany's Will to Power:
“If someone declares publicly that nuclear power would be needed in the baseload because of fluctuating energy from wind or sun in the grid, he has either not understood how an electricity grid or a nuclear power plant operates, or he consciously lies to the public. Nuclear energy and renewable energies cannot be combined.”

Friday, December 13, 2013

Lignite, the bridge fuel

Hell, why not lignite too...
Clean Sweden's Vattenfall, king of dirty German lignite, is paying a newly elected politician who consequently gets a coalition agreement calling lignite a "bridge"

Merkel Embraces Coal as Rookie Lawmaker Makes Mark on Policy - Bloomberg:
For a first-time lawmaker, coal promoter Ulrich Freese made the most ofChancellor Angela Merkel’s pledge to counter rising power prices.
Freese, a Social Democrat former mining-union executive, won a parliamentary seat on Sept. 22, even as Merkel’s bloc defeated his party in national elections. As the two sides negotiated a coalition government, he inserted a commitment to use lignite, one of the most polluting forms of coal, to bridge the gap in Germany’s energy mix and rein in the second-highestelectricity prices in the European Union after Denmark’s.
That meshes with Vattenfall’s plan to extend strip mining in eastern Germany’s Lusatia region, some 150 kilometers (94 miles) southeast of Berlin, where more than 80 villages have been demolished and residents resettled to extract lignite.
The coalition contract’s wording on coal shows that Merkel’s prospective government is giving “high priority” to secure, affordable energy and recognizes the need to increase “market integration” of renewable sources...
...Gas and coal plants are “necessary to balance out the renewable energies and their fluctuating generation.”
The entire article can be read at Bloomberg

Friday, December 6, 2013

Wind turbines trash the landscape for the benefit of billionaires

" policy is chaotic. It is intellectually incoherent, lurching from fashion to fad with each lurch breeding a pile of taxpayer cash and a carnival of lobbyists out to protect it. Never in the history of public subsidy can so much have been paid by so many to so few."

Sounds like home, but no; it's the U.K., and the article is, surprisingly, from the Guardian (where it's generating many, many, comments)

The industry lobby, RenewableUK, on Thursday deplored what it suspected was a "political decision" to cut subsidy, and it was right. The switch reeked of Downing Street's obsession with Ukip, which has shrewdly opposed wind turbines. But an industry that is effectively a state subcontractor must accept such whims. The golden goose would never last.

I have spent two years traipsing Britain in search of the finest views. It is hard to convey the devastating impact of the turbines to those who have not seen them, especially a political elite that never leaves the south-east except for abroad. Fields of these structures are now rising almost everywhere. They are sited irrespective of the wind, since subsidy is paid irrespective of supply, even if there is none. It makes EU agricultural policy a paragon of sanity.

Nuclear to remain key Japan energy source

Panel: Nuclear to remain key Japan energy source - The Washington Post
TOKYO — Japan should continue to use nuclear power as a key energy source despite the Fukushima power plant disaster, a government panel said Friday in a reversal of a phase-out plan by the previous government.
The draft energy plan issued by the panel underscores Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push to restart as many nuclear reactors as possible under new, stricter safety requirements that took effect this past summer.
The draft Basic Energy Plan says nuclear energy should remain “an important and basic power source that supports the stability of Japan’s energy supply and demand structure.”
Allison Macfarlane, head of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said in Tokyo that developing an underground repository remains a challenge despite a global consensus on the need for such facilities to deal with waste from nuclear plants.
“In the nuclear community, we of course have to face the reality of the end product — spent fuel,” Macfarlane said.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

CANDU and growing nuclear industries - except in...

CANDU (CANada Deuterium Uranium) reactors have been built in 7 countries.
Recent news stories show 5 of those countries are actively growing their nuclear industries, while one is actively working against it.

DAWN: Pakistan looks to nuclear | Editorials | BDlive:
WITH the groundbreaking of what is intended to be Pakistan’s largest civilian nuclear power facility in Karachi last week, a practical step has been taken to help meet this country’s ravenous power demand through nuclear technology.
Contract awarded for CAREM vessel | world nuclear news | Argentina

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Green projects take central role in National Infrastructure Plan

An energy plan that includes electrification of transport and action on heating.
Only in the U.K you say.

Green projects take central role in National Infrastructure Plan - 04 Dec 2013 - News from BusinessGreen:
The new National Infrastructure Plan (NIP) unveiled today not only includes revised support levels for renewable energy and renewable heating projects, but also sets out plans to bring more private capital into the £3bn Green Investment Bank, build new nuclear reactors, and boost electric car take-up. 
It was announced as six major insurers revealed plans to collectively invest £25bn in UK infrastructure over the next five years - a minor coup for the government given the insurance industry has not been a big infrastructure investor.
Perhaps most significantly, the NIP confirms the government has entered into a co-operating agreement with Hitachi and Horizon to agree by 2016 "an in-principle guarantee" to support the financing of a new nuclear plant at Wylfa, subject to final due diligence and Ministerial approval. This follows on from an agreement with EDF over guaranteed electricity prices for Hinkley Point C.
Continue reading at BusinessGreen: Sustainable thinking

My initial thought on my province's new "energy" plan are here; it is a poor electricity plan, and not a comprehensive energy plan at all.

Second new nuclear plant given go-ahead for as Government sells off Eurostar stake - Telegraph

Second new nuclear plant given go-ahead for as Government sells off Eurostar stake - Telegraph:
The second of a new wave of nuclear power stations will be built by private investors with government support, the Treasury will announce on Wednesday.
The power station, at Wylfa on Anglesey in Wales, is among the major infrastructure projects that will go ahead after ministers promised to support commercial interests.
The station, to be built by Hitachi and Horizon, follows an agreement earlier this year for French and Chinese investors to build a nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Suffolk. Ministers have suggested that as many as a dozen nuclear reactors will be built in the coming years as fossil fuels are phased out and public hostility to renewables such as wind turbines mounts.
Continue reading at the Telegraph

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Quebec's Major Power consumers say "Non" to Needless Wind Costs

Excuse my French, but ...Quebec's major power consumers aren't just taking the renewables crap being shoveled at them - and the rest of the province's ratepayers.

Those that understand French should probably avoid the google translation quotes below and go directly to Les grands clients disent non à l'éolien | La Presse

Here's the greatest hits from the Google translation:
Industrial electricity consumers have decided to challenge the decision of Marois government to continue to purchase wind energy, although Quebec does not need this energy.
A motion to dismiss was filed yesterday, the Régie de l'énergie by the Quebec Association of Industrial electricity consumers (AQCIE) to counter the most recent tender for 450 megawatts of wind energy.
This tender, which aims to support the wind industry in the East-du-Québec must be declared "invalid, unenforceable and ineffective," the petition says, because he did not seek to satisfy electricity needs.
Consumers do not have to pay more for their electricity because the government wants to help industry... 
"...We are not against economic development. If the government wants to help a sector, he does, but it does not make paying the bill by electricity consumers.  

Thursday, November 28, 2013

High level reports on Bulk Power Systems Coping with Changing Supply

There are two new reports that may be of interest to those following the energy sector, and particularly operators of bulk power systems (BPS) coping with the stresses on that sector from the changing supply composition.

"Key Findings" overview from the IEA:

Positive movement towards new CANDU reactors in Romania

Romania hopes to buy 2 Candu reactors, with China's help - Business - CBC News:
Candu Energy Inc. says it has a letter of intent to develop two new nuclear plants in Romania on the site of two Candu reactors built in 1996 and 2007.
Candu Energy, a unit of SNC Lavalin, signed the agreement with Romania’s Societatea Nationala Nuclearelectrica (SNN)  and China General Nuclear Power Group...
Continue reading at CBC News

Background - Romania
"Romania currently has two Candu 6 reactors, which provide about 20 per cent of electricity for the country of 20 million people.
CNG engineers are to visit Canada to study the project further. China has had Candu reactors for about 10 years."  (CBC)
Background - CANDU and China

Celebrating 10 years of CANDU Technology in China |

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Kenya Postpones Renewable Energy Drive to Reduce Power Costs

If the message you take from this story is that Kenya missed the grid parity memo, you probably don't have a population where 4 out of 5 people live without grid power.

Kenya suspended issuing new licenses for wind farms and solar plants until 2017 as it prioritizes development of cheaper fuel-based sources to help cut electricity prices, Energy Secretary Davis Chirchir said.
The East African government plans to add at least 5,500 megawatts of power supply in the 40 months from September, more than quadrupling output from current installed capacity of about 1,700 megawatts mainly from rain-fed hydropower plants.
About 80 percent of that additional output will be tapped from facilities powered by coal, liquefied natural gas, and geothermal...

Monday, November 25, 2013

New Study Finds U.S. Has Greatly Underestimated Methane Emissions

Overall, according to the new study, total methane emissions in the United States appear to be 1.5 times and 1.7 times higher than the amounts previously estimated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A.) and the international Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research (EDGAR) [link], respectively.
It seems the desire for methane to be a clean replacement for coal keeps running up against the emissions issue.

New Study Finds U.S. Has Greatly Underestimated Methane Emissions -
A comprehensive new study of atmospheric levels of methane, an important greenhouse gas released by leaky oil and gas operations and livestock, has found much higher levels over the United States than those estimated by the Environmental Protection Agency and an international greenhouse gas monitoring effort. The paper, “Anthropogenic emissions of methane in the United States,” is being published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The study, combining ground and aerial sampling of the gas with computer modeling, is the most comprehensive “top down” look so far at methane levels over the United States, providing a vital check on “bottom up” approaches, which have tallied estimates for releases from a host of sources — ranging from livestock operations to gas wells.
The research seems to support previous findings of Robert Howarth, and Andrew Revkin's column includes this comment from Howarth [I've added emphasis]:

German wind power hits turbulence

My previous post noted some of the grief Germany's electricity sector activities have caused its neighbours; the Financial Times now shows some of the concerns it's brought Germans.

German wind power hits turbulence -
Before Germany’s big shift to renewable energy, electricity for industry was produced where it was needed; near the manufacturing heartlands of the Ruhr and greater Stuttgart.
But now that nuclear reactors are being switched off, and renewables are taking priority over energy generated from fossil fuels, the country’s energy is being generated a long way from its heavy industry.

From wind farms mainly in the north, more than 4,500km of additional extra-high-voltage lines will snake across the country by the end of this decade, to supply the areas of highest demand.
Germany’s lengthy planning process and lack of co-ordination between the federal states has snarled up the line building programme. Of the 1,900km designated by law as priority projects, less than 300km is built.
Lex Hartman, a member of the management board at Tennet, Germany’s biggest high-voltage grid operator, says that in some cases it has taken up to a decade to secure a licence to build power lines.
Plans for the Rheinland to build a giant converter station at Osterath, near Düsseldorf, have provoked an outcry from residents who fear exposure to noise, traffic and electromagnetic radiation. Under Germany’s energy plans, Osterath will be a vital junction in an “electricity autobahn” linking north and south. Tennet is hosting hundreds of meetings to win over the public. “I think that building infrastructural projects such as grids is only possible with the agreement of the people...”

Czech electricity grid company ready to block German wind power

oops ... first posted this as fresh news, but it's 2 years old.
Poland builds electronic wall to keep out German renewables is one example of a recent article indicating it's still topical.  From that article:
The move to install equipment knows as phase-shifters on transmission links between Poland and Germany is designed to give the Polish grid operator the power to block excess renewables output from Germany entering the Polish grid. As in Germany, a large amount of renewable energy causes wholesale prices to come down, and profits to fall.
OK, that's the context ... now back to my original post and a far more factual, and informative, overview of the issue:
There are increasingly frequent references to the Czech Republic and Poland blocking Germany's "renewables."
The following article does a fairly good job of explaining the issue, which is low-quality, intermittent, power from Germany's north destined for consumption in Germany's south, and Austria, finding a route through Poland and the Czech Republic.

Czech electricity grid company ready to block German wind power | Czech Position:
The Czech Republic is facing the growing prospect of being forced to block disruptive and volatile flows of German wind-produced electricity through its power network in what would be a powerful signal to Berlin to sort out its internal energy market.
Large amounts of wind-produced electricity from northern Germany are now being shipped through the Czech Republic to German customers in the south of the country — and onwards towards Austria — because of the insufficiencies of the north-south German electricity grid.
The ČEPS manager was blunt in his message that Germany should get to grips with its power market problems and, if necessary, curb the output of wind power plants in the north of the country or limit the distance that electricity is being shipped across the country and into neighboring Austria.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Lessons: tough times for European utilities

"With environmental levies for renewables subsidies rising in line with the ongoing build-out, consumers will be hit with both higher prices and a decline in reliability."

Nothing new to readers of this blog, but Platts' Barrel Blog attacks the subject of variable renewable energy sources impacting markets with vigor

Energy Economist: tough times for European utilities may have a lesson for the US « The Barrel Blog:
There has been talk in the United States of the utility “death spiral,” a process in which environmentally-targeted subsidy support enables consumers to disengage, partially if not wholly, from the electricity grid through demand-side management and distributed generation. Utilities, required to invest to incorporate renewables into a centralized system, are left in an unsustainable situation of higher embedded costs and fewer customers.

Spent Fuel and Political Waste

 Recent stories I neglected to get posted promptly:

  1. the courts cut off the flow of money from nuclear power companies until the Obama administration gets its act together on a repository
  2. the NRC suddenly resumes a review of the Yucca Mountain License application
So long as the federal government has no viable alternative to Yucca Mountain as a repository for nuclear waste, nuclear power ratepayers should not be charged an annual fee to cover the cost of that disposal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled on Tuesday.
Finding for petitioners that include the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) and industry group the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), the court ruled in its seven-page decision that because the Energy Secretary is “apparently unable” to conduct a legally adequate fee assessment, the Department of Energy (DOE) should call on Congress to change the fee to zero “until such a time as either the Secretary chooses to comply with the [Nuclear Waste Policy Act (NWPA)] as it is currently written, or until Congress enacts an alternative waste management plan.”
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) on Monday directed agency staff to complete the long-delayed safety evaluation report (SER) for the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) license application to build the Yucca Mountain permanent waste repository.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Wind Records Continue to be Set in Ontario - gutting market prices

I blogged on wind records Wednesday, and by the end of the day the hourly output record I noted, from the industrial wind turbines (IWT's) connected to the IESO grid, was broken 5 times.

Yesterday, these IWT's produced ~37,685MWh - a new daily record, despite a likelihood production was curtailed at times.

The average IWT production for the first 14 days of the month is ~1,015 MW.
In the peak demand month of July, the average was 312MW.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

German Council of Economic Experts Calls for Freeze of Renewables Energy Sources Act

The latest Annual Report from the German Council of Economic Experts, a.k.a. the 'five wise men' of the German economy,'  calls for "a freeze of the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) while developing a conclusive policy."

German Council of Economic Experts Calls for Moratorium of Renewables Law and Search for Consistent Energy Policy Approach « German Energy Blog:
“Apart from the necessary grid expansion and restructuring, the main national (energy) issues are reducing the costs of renewable growth and creating an electricity market framework so that conventional (back-up) capacities can be maintained and extended and renewable growth takes place without state subsidies. The climate policy aims of the energy policy shift are unlikely to be achieved at the national level, anyway. Solely for grid expansion and restructuring important measures have been taken since the summer of 2011 (concerning the law on the Federal Requirement Plan for Transmission Networks, please see here) that remove barriers and accelerate grid expansion. In all other (energy-related) areas disappointingly little to nothing has happened. This is completely unacceptable for in industrialised country like Germany: The costs for subsidising renewables have more tripled since 2010 and are among the highest subsidies in Germany.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Rate design wars are the sound of utilities taking residential PV seriously

"Imagine walking into your supermarket with a bag of zucchini"

So begins an article by Severin Borenstein on the challenges of integrating residential solar PV output in California's context - with lessons applicable to many other jurisdictions.

Rate design wars are the sound of utilities taking residential PV seriously | Energy Economics Exchange:
...real panic in the industry has set in this year as the net-of-subsidy cost of PV has dropped below even the average retail price. Even if increasing-block pricing were eliminated and the big IOUs sold all residential power for their average price of about $0.17/kWh, solar PV could beat that for many customers. According to a recent report from Lawrence Berkeley Lab (and confirmed by other industry studies and media reports), the full cost of a typical residential system has fallen below $6/watt and may be below $5/watt by now, which corresponds to $0.25-$0.30/kWh. The 30% federal tax credit and what’s left of the California Solar Initiative subsidies cuts that by about a third. A less well-known tax effect – accelerated depreciation for leased systems – transfers another 15%-20% of the cost from the end-user to the federal government. The net cost to the consumer can now be $0.15/kWh or less.
This is why we are hearing more often the phrase “death spiral” from the utilities. If many customers act on the attractive economics of PV at home, the utility sells less energy and earns less above marginal cost to cover those costs of past sunk mistakes and ongoing fixed costs. To make up the revenue, they would have to raise rates, which makes the economics of PV even better.

"Smart Grid" or "Strong Grid"?

Tom Adams recommended an article from Power magazine on a topic that's been around for some time - concentrating on making the U.S. electrical grid resilient.

Today Adams identifies a NY Times presentation of a video on the 2003 blackout, and lessons still being learned from the event; the PJM market is currently hosting a Grid 20/20: Focus on Resilience forum.
Resiliency is a hot topic.

"Smart Grid" or "Strong Grid"? Words Matter | POWER Magazine:
The Obama administration recently changed its nomenclature on a topic of much interest to readers of this publication and those in the power industry. The administration has said it prefers to talk about its policies advancing a “resilient grid” as opposed to its previous emphasis on developing a “smart grid.” The new policy thrust, for whatever it’s worth, is “grid hardening.”
To my mind, this is an entirely worthwhile and welcome development. I’ve long argued that the pursuit of a smart grid—an interactive system that allows utilities and (presumably) customers—to allow conversations between and among utility power providers and our homes is not a direction I want the industry to go. It raises security, privacy, and reliability concerns in my mind.
Without getting into the weeds on these issues, my preference has been for a “strong” grid that provides greater assurance that power flows without interruptions. I don’t care if my toaster can talk to my utility to find the least-cost (or more profitable) way to brown my bread. I care if I can’t toast my whole-wheat bread in the morning because the system is down.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Germany: Cheaper when free energy isn't

Some recent articles on Germany compiled from an Ontario perspective - because of subsidies that pay renewable energy sources (RES) by output, there is a rather bizarre relationship that makes consumer pricing lower the less productive the RES is.
Perhaps a structure where it's beneficial to have efficient technologies would be better.

Germany plans steep wind cuts -Recharge News:
Germany’s incoming government is likely to steeply cut support for wind power and lower its target for offshore deployment – to the dismay of renewable energy groups.
Environment minister Peter Altmaier, and Hannelore Kraft, the Social Democrats’ (SPD) representative in energy coalition talks, over the weekend unexpectedly announced an agreement on the rough outline of the still-to-be-formed new coalition government’s renewable policy.
The expansion of onshore wind power in the future should be limited to “good locations” – meaning windy areas in northern Germany – according to the agreement.... 
There's a number of issues here, some of which related directly to Ontario: limiting installations to "good locations" could be seen as partially a rejection of the idea of geographic smoothing - it seems more of a rejection of the idea that very week renewable resources make sense close to loads.
A recent German Energy blog article showed the EEG deficit decreasing in recent months - good news for holding down the renewables surcharge/ bad news for production from renewables.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

One Religion is Enough / Suzuki...ism

Some recent articles of interest; the first treating an "environmental" movement as a religion, and the last providing a vision for a pending Apocalypse.

John Howard: One Religion is Enough | Climate Etc.:
“I chose the…title largely in reaction to the sanctimonious tone employed by so many of those who advocate substantial and and costly responses to what they see as irrefutable evidence that the world’s climate faces catastrophe…To them the cause has become a substitute religion.” – John Howard
This begins an interesting post at Climate Etc. - one where Australia's former PM John Howard tackles a religion he first describes.
Suzuki positions himself with totems
image from Toronto Star

Conversely, Carol Goar's "Hard time to be an environmentalist", in the Toronto Star, figures environmentalist are being persecuted by big bad Stephen Harper (Canada's current Prime Minister):
...they may not have paid enough attention to communicating with Canadians. In their desire to stand together, they may have given legitimacy to zealots such as Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd Conversation Society.

But none of these factors is enough to account for a five percentage point drop in public trust.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

EU Commission on subsidies and capacity markets/Increasing grid utilization in U.S.

An important story out of Europe today, for the future of subsidies (structure), and capacity markets.
From the U.S., a related blog entry: related as it talks about market arrangements to increase efficiency/grid utilization.

The EU Commission has today released its Communication “Delivering the internal electricity market and making the most of public intervention”, together with a set of Staff Working Documents on important aspects of the Communication. The package shall give guidance to Member States on state interventions aimed at preventing market distortions and providing secure and affordable energy. The documents cover in particular generation adequacy, the design of renewables support schemes, the use of and model agreements for renewable energy cooperation mechanisms, and demand side flexibility mechanisms. 
Based on best practices the Commission proposes the following:
  • ...Feed in tariffs should be replaced by feed in premiums or other support instruments which give incentives to producers to respond to market developments.

Monday, November 4, 2013

New coal-fired generators becoming operational in Germany

Today we have the annual "first coal-fired" plant in Germany article from Bloomberg
I'll explain how that can be.

Merkel Facing Power Dilemma as Coal Plants Open: Energy Markets - Bloomberg:
Germany, Europe’s biggest power market, is poised to open its first new coal-fired plants in eight years, just as prices slump because of a glut of electricity.
GDF Suez SA, Trianel GmbH and Steag GmbH will bring three new plants online by December, enough to supply more than 4.4 million homes. The nation is already producing so much electricity that exports will surpass last year’s record in 2013, according to the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems in Muenster, Germany. Power prices may slide 12 percent by 2016, according to UBS AG in Zurich.
Graphic from "Mixed Messages from German Utilities' Planned capacity additions
If you continue reading this article you'll encounter some interesting facts and impacts on market pricing, but it won't spell out how Bloomberg is reporting on the " first new coal-fired plants in eight years" when on August 20, 2012, they reported:
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government says RWE AG (RWE)’s new power plant that can supply 3.4 million homes aids her plan to exit nuclear energy and switch to cleaner forms of generation. It’s fired with coal.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Centrica to pull plug on £2bn offshore wind farm plan

What message will those that criticized the nuclear strike price take from this?

 "Centrica is preparing to abandon a £2bn offshore wind farm project because subsidies offered by the government are too low."

Centrica to pull plug on £2bn offshore wind farm plan - Telegraph:
Its probable abandonment of Race Bank would, however, be its third high-profile withdrawal from planned UK investments on the grounds that subsidies footed by consumers were too low.
In February, it abandoned its 20pc stake in EDF’s planned Hinkley Point nuclear plant, writing off £231m, after complaining the returns were not attractive given the timescale and high cost. EDF last month agreed a subsidy deal for the project that analysts say could yield £1bn a year in pre-tax profits.
In September, Centrica wrote off £240m for planned gas storage facilities, which it had argued should be subsidised to avoid price spikes when supplies ran low.
Michael Fallon, the Energy Minister, rejected the claim, telling The Telegraph at the time: “I am not prepared to see fuel bills rise further just to give Centrica additional subsidy.”
Centrica to pull plug on £2bn offshore wind farm plan - Telegraph

'To Those Influencing Environmental Policy But Opposed to Nuclear Power'

"We ask you and your organization to demonstrate its real concern about risks from climate damage by calling for the development and deployment of advanced nuclear energy."

Andrew Revkin has built a great Dot Earth post around a letter from prominent scientists (Kenneth Caldeira, Kerry Emanuel, James Hanen and Tom Wigley), "pressing the case for environmental groups to embrace the need for a new generation of nuclear power plants."

'To Those Influencing Environmental Policy But Opposed to Nuclear Power' -
Quantitative analyses show that the risks associated with the expanded use of nuclear energy are orders of magnitude smaller than the risks associated with fossil fuels. No energy system is without downsides. We ask only that energy system decisions be based on facts, and not on emotions and biases that do not apply to 21st century nuclear technology.
While there will be no single technological silver bullet, the time has come for those who take the threat of global warming seriously to embrace the development and deployment of safer nuclear power systems as one among several technologies that will be essential to any credible effort to develop an energy system that does not rely on using the atmosphere as a waste dump.
Continue reading at - good prep work for Pandora's Promise playing on CNN - Nov. 7

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Ontario Wind Capacity Growing Many Times Faster than USA's

A couple of stories from today point to the absurd claims surrounding wind energy - from a couple of sides.
Let's start with a claim that subsidies should be removed (in the United States) because the generation is a mature, viable option:

 AEA Study: Removing Big Wind’s ‘Training Wheels’ | American Energy Alliance
WASHINGTON D.C. – A new report released today by the American Energy Alliance (AEA) concludes that wind energy is a mature industry whose growth has rendered the federal wind Production Tax Credit (PTC) an obsolete government hand-out that should be allowed to expire.

The AEA-commissioned study, “Removing Big Wind’s Training Wheels: The Case for Ending the Federal Production Tax Credit,” documents the explosive growth of wind generation as well as the favorable outlook for future wind generation development as a result of Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) – not the PTC.
But on the same day as the release of the study that the "Training Wheels" can come off, The American Wind Industry Association was announcing that over the first 9 months of 2013, after the near death experience of a tax credit at the end of 2012, little capacity has been added

Wallfall/How to reduce emissions fast enough?

"if your policy is repeatedly outperformed by lack of policy, it might be a time to consider alternatives."

I enjoyed this post from J.M. Korhonen, which includes a couple of points I think we should remember:
  • KYOTO was negotiated in 1997, with the retroactive 1990 base year providing a negotiated reduction in emissions for Germany, and it's eastern neighbours
  • Sustained periods of significant emissions reduction are very rare
Graphic of the Week: How to reduce emissions fast enough? | The unpublished notebooks of J. M. Korhonen:
Graphic from
...much of Germany’s vaunted achievements are due to so-called “wallfall” effect. In 1990, Germany had just been unified, and former East Germany still operated a number of awesomely ineffective and polluting coal plants and factories whose emissions counted towards the German 1990 totals. These were for the most part closed or extensively modernized in the five years following the unification. A study by the respected Fraunhofer Institute in Germany put the impact of these wallfall reductions to around 50% of all emission reductions achieved between 1990 and 2000, and 60% of energy-related emissions.
While I welcome any emission reductions irrespective of how they’re achieved (well, almost), there are no valid reasons to ascribe wallfall reductions to any climate policy. Therefore, there are no valid reasons to use Germany’s performance as a proof of its climate policy, without removing the substantial wallfall effect.

read the entire post at "The unpublished notebooks of J. M. Korhonen"

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Blame solar for sky-high Ontario power bills

Bruce Sharp has written an article on the costs of electricity generated with solar panels in the province.
I noted a recent report from the Auditor General of Ontario would communicate more about the new Auditor as Sharp had already laid out the facts on the gas plant costing ... and it did (while basically supporting Sharp's points in costing the plant relocation)

Blame solar for sky-high Ontario power bills | The Financial Post

On October 17, the Ontario Energy Board announced an increase in the Regulated Price Plan rates that apply to most residential and many small business consumers. The 0.5 cent/kWh rate increase will cost a typical Ontario homeowner an extra $57 per year.

If they’re wondering what’s driving this, they should look up into the sky or at their neighbour’s roof.

Solar energy – one of the key pillars of the Green Energy and Economy Act (GEEA) – is casting a dark cloud over Ontario electricity bills and is a big factor in recent and future bill increases. In 2013, solar projects caused electricity bills to be about $550-million higher than they would otherwise have been. For a typical homeowner, this works out to $47 per year. Ontario will have an estimated 1,100 MW of solar installed by year-end and roughly 900 MW will be added in 2014. This addition will cause 2014 electricity bills to increase by another $435-million – equal to a typical homeowner increase of $37 per year. By the end of 2014, solar will be costing Ontarians $1.25-billion per year – while generating a paltry 2% of Ontario’s total electricity requirement.

How did Ontario get here?    (continue at The Financial Post (subscription)

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Authorities comment on Electricity Planning in Ontario/ Parkinson's Laws exemplified

An opinion piece in the Toronto Star caught my attention yesterday, and while it is rarely worthy of nitpicking on details, my sometimes collaborator Parker Gallant also posted a piece; one which will correct some of the misinformation presented in the Star.

Did Ontario make the right decision on nuclear power? | Toronto Star | Opinion (R. Michael Warren)
The Ontario Power Authority (OPA) plans the power system, generates the power and promotes conservation. It predicts gross energy demand will rise 9 per cent by 2022.
The Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) balances the daily supply and demand of power, and directs its flow around the province. It disagrees with OPA, predicting Ontario’s grid electricity demand will drop to 1992 levels by 2022.Who to believe? The Wynne government is betting heavily that the IESO forecast is more realistic. The premier and her team are acutely aware that the province’s energy planner, OPA, has consistently overestimated the long-term demand for electricity and underestimated the cost of new nuclear power.
A month before Energy Minister Chiarelli’s announcement, the Pembina Institute and Greenpeace released a joint report. They used a freedom of information request to unearth the IESO’s prediction of dropping demand — data that was likely already available to the minister. It supports his decision to halt any further investments in new nuclear plants.
Continue reading at the Toronto Star

The Star has changed the original post.  A note currently explains, "This article was edited from a previous version that mistakenly referred to the Ontario Power Authority as the OPG."

Which is nice but the updated wrong version states the OPA "generates the power."
They don't.

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) generates power ... in Ontario

The OPA generates coupons and other paper.

Parker Gallant's latest provides information on the latest from the OPA universe - which is doing what universes and bureaucracies do.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Germany Utility Plans to move "beyond being 'tolerated'"

from German utility RWE:

"we believe we can move beyond being ‘tolerated’.”

The story features the themes of capacity payments and market dysfunction, with an added emphasis of maintaining existing assets over investing in developing new assets. 

Exclusive report: RWE sheds old business model, embraces energy transition - Energy Post | Energy Post:
...The main function of this “existing conventional fleet” will be to provide backup capacity. The strategy paper says that “the prospects for RWE’s generation business are driven by the following convictions”.
First, “although we see a huge build-up of a renewable generation infrastructure ( … ) the demand for reliable capacity will not decline significantly any time soon. The system requires roughly 260 GW of reliable capacity in Central-Western Europe in 2013 and will not require much less in 2030.”
“The second conviction, which partly breaks with the targets of the present strategy, is that portfolio churn is not an option any more. We have to live with our assets and make the best of them.”
Last but not least: Currently, backup capacity is needed but not adequately remunerated. This is the result of an ultimate and irreversible distortion of the present market design.
Continue reading at Energy Post

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Ontairo's Engineers on The Real Cost of Electrical Energy

The Real Cost of Electrical Energy is a presentation prepared by the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers.

Summary of figures in OSPE presentation
I've always felt delighted when I see some of the themes I've developed in my work reflected back.

I've often linked capacity factors and levelized unit pricing, quite noticeably in The High Costs of Ontario's very provincial electricity debacle.

I had constructed a spreadsheet calculator that I posted thinking it might help some people commenting on the province's long-term energy plans.

I just tried my calculator out for the fictitious all gas scenario [1], and I got $63 (with gas at $4/MMBtu).

Saturday, October 19, 2013

European utilities urge policy reform to avert black-outs

The story of large European utilities grouping together to lobby of changes to electricity sector design ran in Reuters over a week ago, and I've been writing on the themes for years.
Rod Adams has written on it, as has the Nuclear Energy Institute, so it's likely worth noting again here.

European utilities urge policy reform to avert black-outs | Reuters:
BRUSSELS, Oct 11 (Reuters) - Bosses from 10 utilities representing half of Europe's power-generating capacity urged the European Union on Friday to adopt reforms to prevent black-outs and help the indebted sector adapt to future demand.

The CEOs, who call themselves the Magritte Group after an initial meeting in an art gallery, said EU energy and environment policy was failing in its objectives and had raised the risk of the lights going out.

Rising electricity bills that are damaging Europe's international competitiveness were the fault of political charges and misguided subsidies for solar and wind, rather than the fault of the energy companies, they said.

"We cannot have a renewables society without security of supply," said Peter Terium, chief executive of Germany's RWE .

Friday, October 18, 2013

Coal-fired power plants face extinction in New England

Ontario may not be the only jurisdiction ending coal-fired generation

New owners to shutter outmoded Brayton Point Power Station in 2017 | The Providence Journal:
SOMERSET — Brayton Point Power Station, the coal-fired workhorse of the New England power grid for a half-century and one of the region’s biggest polluters, is set to close, its new owners announced this week.
Energy Capital Partners, a private equity firm that purchased the 1,500-megawatt power plant this month, said it will shut down the facility by 2017 because it failed to secure a new agreement with ISO-New England, the operator of the regional power grid.
The New Jersey-based energy firm cited a host of issues in announcing its decision to close the plant, including low electricity prices because of the surplus of natural gas and the cost of meeting stricter environmental rules. The move comes just five weeks after it closed on the purchase of the facility from the Virginia-based energy conglomerate Dominion Resources. 
New England has six coal-fired power plants, but two in Massachusetts — the Mount Tom plant in Holyoke and the Salem Harbor facility — have filed plans to close. Jonathan Peress, vice president of the Conservation Law Foundation, said that if Brayton Point, seen as the newest and most efficient of the remaining coal-fired generators, cannot survive, it does not bode well for the others.
“That in essence shows that all of the coal-fired power plants are no longer economically viable in New England,” he said.

How to lose half a trillion euros/ Electricity Costs raise alarms across Europe

"Renewable energy has grabbed a growing share of the market, pushed wholesale prices down and succeeded in its goal of driving down the price of new technologies. But the subsidy cost also has been large, the environmental gains non-existent so far and the damage done to today’s utilities much greater than expected."  -the Economist

Reports of discontent with European electricity policies from both the perspective of consumers saddled with ever-increasing bills for no more consumption, and utilities whose profitability has declined, along with their share value.
Higher Electricity Costs Raise Alarm Across Europe | IEEE Spectrum
Image from IEEE Spectrum page
British government predictions of sharply increased electricity prices in the next decades are getting renewed attention these days, as the country's opposition leader Ed MIlliband promised to freeze rates if elected prime minister. A March report from the Department of Energy and Climate Change found that with current policies subsidizing green power, electricity costs will rise 33 percent by 2020 and 41 percent by 2030.
In Germany, according to reports issued this month by IHS Inc. in Denver, Colo., green energy developers received $19 billion in subsidies last year, six times the comparable figure for the UK. Germany has pushed low-carbon and renewable energy technology harder than any other European country, with impressive results: Last year it produced 22 percent of its energy from "green" sources, five times as much as twenty years before. But the costs of those green advances have proven to be unsustainably high, from a political point of view.

Without Nuclear Power, Japan CO2 Emissions Rise

Without Nuclear Power, Japan CO2 Emissions Rise - Japan Real Time - WSJ:
Japan’s greenhouse-gas emissions climbed to their second-highest level on record in the last fiscal year, mainly because the country used more fossil fuels to make up for the loss of power produced by nuclear plants, all of which are now offline."
Japan produced the equivalent of 1.207 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide in the year ended March 2013, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said Wednesday. That was up 2.8% from the previous year, 7.4% higher than the year right before the Fukushima nuclear accident, and 14% more than fiscal 1990-1991, the benchmark year for the Kyoto Protocol, which calls for cuts in CO2 emissions.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

German Renewables Surcharge Increases by 19%

Germany's "renewables surcharge" will go up almost 20% for 2014, despite the combined output from wind and solar generators reportedly being lower over the first 9 months of the year.

German Renewables Surcharge Increases by 19% to 6.24 ct/kWh in 2014 | German Energy Blog:
The renewables surcharge will amount to 6.24 ct/kWh in 2014. This is an increase of 19.38% from the 5.227 ct/kWh in 2013.
With the renewables surcharge pursuant to the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG), the so-called EEG surcharge, consumers pay for the difference between the fixed feed-in tariffs paid pursuant to EEG for renewable energy fed into the grids and the sale of the renewable energy at the EEX energy exchange by the TSOs. According to data by the TSOs renewable energy renewable energy fetched on average 32.99 EUR/MWh in September.
Continue reading at the German Energy Blog

Wind is down, but solar is up - partly explaining the rise.  Elsewhere some of the blame for the latest increase is being placed on the growing number of electricity consumers exempt from paying the surcharge, and the simple fact that wholesale market pricing is down (much of the EEG being the difference between contracted rates with suppliers and the sale price on the market)

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Central's Radwanski reports Ontario scrapping new build plans for nuclear

Queens' Park Columnist Adam Radwanski has moved from the obscure inside articles to the front page of the Globe and Mail with a story on the Liberal government abandoning plans for new nuclear.

Ontario backs away from plans to buy new nuclear reactors | The Globe and Mail
Ontario’s government will shelve plans for a major new investment in nuclear power, according to industry and government sources.
Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals have decided against spending upwards of $10-billion to buy two new nuclear reactors as had been planned when Dalton McGuinty was premier, and will commit only to refurbishing existing ones, the sources told The Globe and Mail.
Meanwhile, over at the Toronto Star, John Spears (I'll suggest the only professional energy reporter in Ontario's mainstream media - despite my frequent criticisms of his articles) looks more than a step behind with, Nuclear industry faces "critical decade": OPG chief | The Toronto Star:

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Case for Combating Climate Change with Nuclear Power and Fracking

I should not have put off reading this because of the title (connecting nuclear power and fracking); it's a very interesting article

"...each energy source—oil, natural gas, wind, nuclear, solar, etc.—should have a market price based not only on its production costs, but also, in part, on its unique public costs reflected by revenue-neutral taxes: a carbon emissions tax, a security-of-supply tax, a catastrophe insurance tax, and even a local emissions abatement tax," he says. "While people hate the thought of paying more taxes, we are in truth paying most of these 'taxes' today. Unfortunately, the political process allows these taxes—or subsidies—to be hidden in rules, regulations, and foreign policy decisions."
...Lassiter is concerned that the massive carbon emissions from today's coal plants and transportation sector pose a major danger to mankind through the effects of rapid climate change. Less typically, he's more bullish on nuclear power and hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," than he is on solar energy or wind power for addressing the worldwide carbon emissions problem. It's not that he has anything against renewable energy. It's that he hasn't seen evidence that renewable energy sources will get cheap enough, fast enough to slow global carbon emissions, particularly those from coal-fired power plants in China and India.
"The Chinese and Indians are going to clean up their local pollution problem—particulates and sulfur emissions—from coal plants, but the carbon emissions are an entirely different matter. To have a dramatic impact on those carbon emissions, you need to find something that beats a traditional coal plant in their countries on straightforward energy economics, and that's really, really hard to do," he says.
Continue Reading at Harvard Business School

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Regressive Energy policies

Parker Gallant recently asked"Has our electricity system turned into nothing more than a form of wealth transfer or, perhaps, a regressive tax?"

Ontario isn't the only jurisdiction where the wisdom of programs that transfer wealth from the poorer to the wealthier are being questioned

CA rooftop solar will cost other customers $1 billion per year |
Wealthy rooftop solar homeowners will shift $1.1 billion per year in extra costs onto other electric ratepayers by the year 2020, according to a new study just released by the California Public Utilities Commission...
Net-metered electric customers had 78 percent higher median income than the median California household income.
The CPUC study, “California Net Energy Metering (NEM) Draft Cost Effectiveness Evaluation,” was released Sept. 26.   Net metering is where excess electricity from rooftop solar panels result in rolling a customer’s electric meter backwards. In this case, “net” means what remains after deductions. In a net metering system, property owners received a credit on their electric bill for all the electricity they generate. If they produce more electricity than they consume, they get a credit for excess production.
The CPUC study reports about two-thirds of the transfer of costs onto other customers comes from residential solar customers
The referenced study also notes that residential solar customers in California were, prior to solar panels on Net Energy Metering (NEM) plans, much larger than average users of electricity - California's utilities feature steeply tiered rates by consumption levels

Monday, October 7, 2013

Luftmess: checking up on air and carbon pollution

I was recently informed that the government of Ontario is now claiming in quasi-legal tribunals that industrial wind turbines (IWTs) are necessary for clean air.
I went looking for reports I'd read of declining air quality in Germany, Ontario's model for it's ill-fated feed-in tariff program attached to the equally questionable Green Energy Act.

One of the things that popped out at me during the seach was the German word "luftmess", which Google translates as "air measured"; I've taken that as a sign to comment further (being both a Luft and a ....).

A couple of themes deserve comment.
The first is the idea of economic choice (opportunity costs, etc).  At it's simplest, there might be a choice between constructing IWT's to displace pollution from coal plants and cleaning up the smokestack of the coal plants.  As wind produces little much of the time (in Ontario 80% of all IWT generation occurs in ~50% of all hours), it's unlikely to reduce traditional pollutants as much as installing selective catalytic reduction (SCR) and scrubber devices at the coal plants.

German air pollution rises despite green zones | DW (Germany)

Friday, October 4, 2013

Integration success leads to easy curtailment

An industry magazine puts a negative spin on a lot of positive developments in Spain as its newer government moves to control spiralling electricity costs that had been largely hidden in a tariff deficit.

Integration success leads to easy curtailment | Windpower Monthly:
... the control centre gives wind production more room for manoeuvre. Previously, the grid operator could order wind farms to stay offline hours ahead of its electricity schedule. During low demand periods, allowing all predicted wind power online could sometimes push flexible rapid-response gas offline, which would present a supply threat if wind finally fell short of expectations, as gas would be unable to bridge the gap. With the control centre, REE can now allow much larger amounts of wind to operate closer to the critical moment, temporarily reducing production if necessary rather than shutting down entire plants.
Being singled out for easy curtailment is only half of AEE's gripe. The other is that Spain - unlike Denmark and Germany — does not compensate generators for curtailed wind, despite wind having to pay for backup power from other technologies that enable nuclear, CHP, hydro and rapid-response gas to stay online. Cena says AEE is happy to help out the system, providing responsibilities and remuneration are spread evenly.
AEE admits that it is, of course, the centralised control that has enabled wind capacity and penetration to snowball over the years, a growth that is demanded by the EU's binding renewables objectives to 2020, by which date Spain is committed to reaching at least 35GW.
Continue reading at Windpower Monthly

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Exporting LNG/Extolling Carbon Taxes

These two stories are connected as both are likely to increase the price of natural gas in North America.
Exporting should, I think properly, move North American prices up towards global commodity prices for natural gas.  I quote the Sierra Club's advocacy of cheap local supply of carbon (bizarre), as well as Dow's ignoble advocacy of protectionism for their supply so they can freely export their product.

Of course just taxing carbon is another way to move up price; one that's about as likely to be globally implemented as ...

U.S. Gears Up to Be a Prime Gas Exporter -
Cove Point, Maryland — Deep in a narrow underwater tunnel, workers wearing hard hats pedal bicycles towards a terminal, an island of gray pipes and pilings a mile off the Western Shore of Maryland on the Chesapeake Bay. When it originally opened in 1978, the chilly passageway was intended to bring liquefied natural gas from large tankers onshore to the Dominion Cove Point facility, where it was warmed, turned back into gas and sent on to customers.
But Cove Point has had a sporadic history and has not been visited by a tanker for delivery since 2011 thanks to reduced U.S. demand for natural gas. 
Now, Dominion Transmission wants to reverse the flow...

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Capacity, Smart Grids, and DSM

A couple of articles, on securing appropriate generating capacity to meet demand at all times, caught my attention - in part due to some past comments I've encountered connecting capacity to demand management, and therefore the infrastructure and technical tools required to increase conservation and demand management (CDM) capabilities.

Federal Court Blocks Maryland Order to Build New CCPP | POWER Magazine
A federal court on Monday shot down Maryland’s drive to spur construction of a new combined cycle power plant outside of PJM’s capacity auctions.
Ruling in favor of various entities that had sued to block the plan, the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland found that the state’s order last year for three Maryland utilities to enter into power purchase agreements with Commercial Power Ventures (CPV), which has been seeking to build a 661-MW plant near Washington, D.C., impermissibly invaded the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC’s) authority over wholesale power prices.
The case grew out of Maryland’s concern with meeting its future power needs, and with PJM’s ability to incentivize construction of new capacity within the state. Last April, after several years of study and hearings, the Public Service Commission (PSC) of Maryland ordered Baltimore Gas and Electric, Potomac Electric Power, and Delmarva Power & Light to execute contracts with CPV that would provide a guaranteed revenue stream to support construction of the plant.
The state has argued for several years that PJM’s Reliability Pricing Model (RPM) has failed to attract sufficient new generation capacity to Maryland and, as a result, the state is at risk of running short of power over the next few years. (continue reading)
 I'm a fan of PJM, so from my perspective this is a jurisdiction not trusting markets to provide capacity (which is, I think, an issue in Ontario regarding summer demand requirements).

Meanwhile, in the tight supply, "energy-only" market of Texas, talk of a capacity market will not go away

Monday, September 30, 2013

Stories from the web, fakes in the MSM: professionalism, and its opposite

Some recent stories that deserve connecting; including news from sources on the web, and fake news in Toronto's most popular newspaper.

The most important story, in terms of the themes I write on most often, reported on the devaluation of existing generators with the introduction of new capacity

Challenging Power Market Hurting Plant Valuations | Power Magazine
Pressures on competitive power markets have fueled substantial declines in plant valuations over the past five years, with coal plants taking the brunt of the damage. That’s the conclusion of a new report from financial services firm Fitch Ratings released on Wednesday.
Gas-fired plants, both combined cycle and combustion turbine, saw comparatively smaller declines, 17% and 14%, respectively. Spark spreads have narrowed in most regions despite the fall in gas prices. However, there was a wide disparity in plant valuations in gas, with some plants—the newest and most flexible, in areas where substantial renewable generation places a premium on flexibility—actually increasing in value.
The smallest drop was in renewables, where hydropower assets saw a negligible 1% drop, and wind assets fell only 5% (the geothermal plants analyzed by the report fell 47%, but this represented only a handful of assets).
The article is important as a source of news; but I think the conclusions drawn from the facts could be better.  Subsidizing intermittent sources during a period of stagnant demand lowers the valuation of other generating assets; less so if the sources are dispatchable, so mostly devaluing high-capital cost sources with low operating costs, which include not only the frequently cited nuclear, but large hydro and geothermal too.

Speaking of geothermal...

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Ed Miliband: Labour would freeze energy prices

There are lots of reasons to be skeptical of claims made by Britain's Labour party leader Ed Miliband  - recent price increases are far more likely to be due to the actions during years of Labour rule than the recent couple under the coalition; but it is interesting he would single out the regulator for abolishment.

BBC News - Ed Miliband: Labour would freeze energy prices
"... vowed to abolish energy watchdog Ofgem and replace it with a new regulatory regime that ensures customers get a "fair deal".
"We will legislate for this in our first Queen's Speech and it will come into effect in 2017," the Labour leader told activists."
"But in the meantime I am not willing to just stand by. So the next Labour government will freeze gas and electricity prices until the start of 2017.
"Your bills will be frozen, benefitting millions of families and millions of businesses. That's what I mean by a government that fights for you, that's what I mean when I say: Britain can do better than this.
"The companies won't like it because it will cost them money. But they have been overcharging people for too long because of a market that doesn't work. It is time to reset the market."

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Fighting against the Capacity Trap in the U.K.

An abstract problem is becoming more real around the world; jurisdictions procuring displacement sources of energy and ensuring them first rights to the grid are struggling to maintain significant capacity of reliable sources to meet demand requirements.

Picture from source article
Energy companies are to be paid ten of millions of pounds to keep old power stations on standby amid mounting fears of blackouts.
They will be paid to mothball, rather than demolish, power stations taken out of service.
The plans come as oil and coal plants are being closed due to European Union directives, which have been introduced to cut emissions that scientists have said lead to climate change.
The move is being planned after Ofgem, the energy regulator, warned of electricity shortages within the next three years.
Ofgem said the measure was needed because new wind farms and nuclear plants have not been built in time to replace the oil and coal power stations being phased out.
Critics of wind power said turbines were flawed because they do not generate electricity when there is little wind, while plans for nuclear power stations have yet to reach the construction stage.
Continue reading at the Telegraph