Friday, October 24, 2008

Power Storage Solutions for Wind and Solar

Wind and Solar power are insignificant portions of the world power jigsaw puzzle. And world power needs are growing faster than wind and solar can grow--especially in the absence of utility-scale electrical storage. What kind of advances in storage technologies are necessary to change the outlook for wind and solar from total losers to potential team players?
“Having no form of storage is not a problem right now, because only (about 2) percent of our power comes from wind and solar,” says George Crabtree, senior scientist and Distinguished Fellow in Argonne National Lab.'s Materials Science Div. “But that won't work if you intend to get really serious and create 30 percent to 40 percent of your power that way. Every wind and solar source has to have a backup.”

Wind turbines generate power when and only when the wind blows; solar cells make power only when the sun is shining brightly. Like all other sources of power — coal, nuclear, hydro — the electrical current created by wind and solar is used immediately. With only a few minor exceptions, utilities don't have a way of storing that electricity for later use.

That's why “balancing resources” are so important. Without them, utility customers face the prospect of blackouts, as happened in a wind-dependent area of west Texas earlier this year when the wind died down. Or they face the opposite problem — too much generation — as occurred in New York state recently when wind turbines had to be shut down because they caused “grid congestion.”

“As we put more 'intermittency' — wind and solar — into our system we need the balancing resources for those times when they are not available,” says Arshad Mansoor, vice president of power delivery and utilization for the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI). Mansoor says the most common balancing resources today are gas turbines and coal plants. In other words, utilities must balance large amounts of wind and solar with the very CO2-spewing sources they are trying to eliminate..... _designnews
What are some possible solutions? Pumped water gravity storage and compressed air storage are limited and expensive small-scale solutions being utilized now. They are not even close to being sufficient.

Promising longer term solutions:

Redox Flow Cells
NaS Utility Scale Batteries
Superconducting Magnetic Energy Storage
Advanced Flywheels, etc.

Of course, some good solutions being overlooked are scalable gasification combined cycle turbines, and scalable nuclear reactors for baseload. Modular nuclear makes for excellent baseload power, and scalable coal/biomass combined cycle turbine facilities allow for flexible adjustment to demand needs. If you add utility scale storage to the mix, you have a fairly well-balanced power solution.

An emphasis on wind power at this time is misguided, but expected of people such as Pickens, Pelosi, Boxer, Obama, Salazar etc. By designating CO2 as a dangerous pollutant, these unscrupulous fools are threatening to cripple the US power supply at a time when it has never been more important. Power reserves to prevent brownouts and blackouts are already dangerously low in many parts of North America. Wasting resources on immature and inefficient technologies such as wind will only reduce necessary reserves to critical levels. Obama may want to cripple the US power supply as Chavez has done to Venezuela, as the ANC has done to South Africa, or as any number of third world dictators have done in their petty fiefdoms. Socialist third world mentality is pretty much the same around the globe. The most successful dictators learn how to distract the people with pretty talk, even as the land is burning around them.

Wind and solar are miniscule contributors to total energy supply, and will remain that way until viable large-scale electrical storage solutions come onto the market. For politicians to suggest otherwise in order to push a political climate agenda, is criminal. Oynklent Green is monitoring the situation.

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