Monday, June 10, 2013

Blown away: NERC and The Economist

The Economist has a column on wind that isn't entirely deceptive, but concludes as if that was the intent

Blown Away: Wind power is doeing well, but it still relies on irregular and short-term subsidies | The Economist
...Concerns about the intermittent supply of energy from wind are dying down. It turns out that with enough wind farms sited in enough places, the supply evens out. The wind is always blowing somewhere. And a solid majority of Americans continue to favour alternative, clean power sources over traditional fossil fuels.
Private insurers say that last year was the second-most-expensive in American history for disasters related to climate change, costing them $139 billion. But private insurance paid only a quarter of these costs, leaving taxpayers to cover the rest. By comparison, funding renewable energy properly seems rather cheap.
Time can be wasted reading the entire article at The Economist

Much of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) statistical feed regurgitated by the Economist is the same data I wrote on some time ago in A(nother) reason to be skeptical about wind energy reducing emissions; I noted that wind was getting constructed where it was particularly windy, and I noted there is yet to be any indication that was a path leading to reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

The implication that insurance costs can drop by feeding money into wind turbines is unsupported by the Economist, and highly questionable.

Similarly, just restating often enough the whimsy about "supply evens out" doesn't make geographic smoothing occur - and there's seasonal smoothing that also doesn't occur.

The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) recently released it's "2013 Summer Reliability Assessment" and it contains no evidence that a greater share of total wind capacity will be available during summer peaks because more turbines exist in more places.

In terms of the Economist's "Concerns about the intermittent supply of energy from wind are dying down", NERC states:
Operationally, an increase in wind and solar resources continues to challenge operators with the inherent swings, or ramps, in power output.  In certain areas where large concentrations of wind resources have been added, system planners accommodate added variability by increasing the amount of available regulating reserves and potentially carrying additional operating reserves. Because weather plays a key factor in determining wind and solar output, enhancing regional wind and solar forecasting systems can provide more accurate generation projections. Other methods include curtailment and limitation procedures used when generation exceedsthe available regulating resources. In this respect, operating criteria, forecasting, commitment, scheduling, dispatch and balancing practices, procedures, and tools must be enhanced to assist operators in maintaining BPS reliability.
From IESO 18-month Outlook
A portion of NERC's reporting originates with Ontario's Independent Electricity System Operato ((IESO).  The IESO doesn't expect much help from wind to meet summer peak demand either (the data indicates ~40% of the time, wind turbines will, collectively, be producing at under 10% of capacity during peak summer demand hours).

The IESO is "enhancing regional wind and solar forecasting systems" ... but lately accuracy in the forecasting ceased improving (reference).

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