Friday, 19 October 2012

Hidden costs of grid intermittency of clean energy

Food for thought: Hidden costs of grid intermittency of clean energy: "Since electricity must be used (or stored) the instant it's generated, intermittency is the mortal enemy of a reliable and stable power grid. While renewable power sources like wind turbines and solar panels produce squeaky-clean green electrons, the electric current they feed into the grid is filthy because it's intermittent.
Wind farm output can easily fluctuate up or down by 3% over a 10-minute interval, 10% over a one-hour interval and 16% over a two-hour interval. Solar panel output can plunge by 50% or more in five minutes. To avoid grid collapse, somebody else has to be ready, willing and able to step in and fill the intermittency gap. Providing that service is not cheap or easy.
Renewable power is, quite literally, pollution of the electric grid with intermittency and the lion's share of the cost of the smart grid, automated demand response, dispatchable standby power, and energy storage is, in reality, the cost of pollution abatement. ".... "Currently, renewable power producers enjoy a variety of financial incentives including feed-in tariffs, investment tax credits, production tax credits and renewable energy certificates that make their intermittent power more valuable than reliable power from conventional producers. To add insult to injury, they're not usually required to bear the costs of the standby facilities that are essential to integrate their intermittency into a public commons that values stability above all.
In the end, rate payers are saddled with the premium price of renewable power and the premium price of the standby facilities required to make that power stable, and, therefore, useful to society.
There is a simple solution to the tragedy of the renewable power commons. We can require each producer of intermittent power to pay the true cost of the standby facilities required to make their power stable. Without a rational approach that places the burden of intermittency abatement on the producers that create the problem, rate payers will be stuck with a hundred-trillion-dollar tab. "

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