Monthly Archives: May 2021

Intermittent versus base load when aiming for a balanced grid: a simple test

In previous post, I assumed that a grid with a base load might be easier/better than a grid based on intermittent power sources when the aim is a balanced grid. I based this on the hypothesis that in the former system much less energy needs to be displaced than in the latter, therefor it would be easier to balance.

That is something that I can check. I could put some grid data in a model and then change a parameter in order to see which one of the two is easier/better and to what extent.

Without further ado, this is what I did:

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When the aim is a balanced grid, is intermittent power easier/better than nuclear?

While cleaning up some old files, I found a link to a tweet that I used one year ago in a post on windmills “balancing” the grid. To recapitulate, during the first lockdown in Belgium, there was a lot of solar and wind power, but there was low demand. However, nuclear produced flat out, as usual. Not wanting to produce at negative prices (because of high production and low demand), windmill owners started to shut down some of their windmills. This curtailment was then framed as wind “balancing” the grid.

Below this tweet was another one written by the same author. It is his answer to the question whether there are quantified estimates on what would eventually be realistically possible with dynamic demand response:

Tweet Dieter Jong 2020-04-21

I apparently glossed over this tweet at the time I made the post, but that is an interesting question. So, in what way is that left graph easier/better than the right one when the aim is a balanced grid at all times?

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Halfway to zero: the next “half”

According to the executive summary of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory study (see previous post), the US power sector emissions were already 52% lower in 2020 than projected in 2005 and therefor the US power sector has already gone halfway to zero emissions. This cheering message was shared far and wide.

Reading further than just the executive summary, the backpedaling begins. The author(s) acknowledge on the next page that 2020 is a special year and this could skew the result. There was a worldwide pandemic in 2020 that had a devastating effect on the economy. Less economic activity means less energy use, therefor a drop in emissions that would not be there if there wasn’t a pandemic. When they take 2019 as the final year (a year without the effects of the pandemic), then they find a decrease of 46%.

Okay, although that is less than 52%, it is still roughly half of the emissions.

The backpedaling continues however.

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