Wind/Solar Energy Get Hammered

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) yesterday kinda sorta analyzed statistical support for President Obama’s green energy wind/solar initiatives. It’s bad news.

Wind and solar power are never once mentioned in the article, but it is clear they were the EIA’s intended target. Fossil fuels suffer no fluctuation defects. They already adjust quite nicely to fluctuations on demand, so don’t need any extraordinary storage capacity.

However, lack of storage is a huge problem for wind and solar. It must be solved if they ever want be major players in the electricity business.

You see, when it comes to supplying electricity when it really counts – like during heat waves and blizzards and peak daily use – wind and solar power suck muddy canal water.

You can’t just turn up the sun or wind to make more electricity at peak demand times.

The only way they can be major league electricity players is if a way to store energy economically is built. That doesn’t exist and building it isn’t as easy as an Obama speech.

This is where the above graph comes in.

Significant storage capacity could help to decouple electricity supply needs from variable electricity demand
– EIA, Today in Energy, 9/26/2013

That is the EIA’s quaint way of saying, ‘If we could just store enough solar and wind power, we’d have it when we really need it!’

There is a problem. The daily to yearly variability in electricity demand requires a massive storage capacity, up to 22,917 annual Gigawatt hours.

The EIA supplied a series of pretty charts, tables and graphs describing hourly-to-annual demand fluctuations and how much excess storage would be necessary to fill the gap.

The EIA then concludes:

These storage capacity values are large, and technology does not exist currently to provide it economically
– EIA, Today in Energy, 9/26/2013

Looks like, for the time being, that wind and solar will still suck muddy canal water for decades to come.


About azleader

Learning to see life more clearly... one image at a time!

Posted on Sep 27, 2013, in Business, Climate, economics, Economy, environment, Government, news, Politics, science, technology. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. But they will penalize coal and natural gas power plants anyway. Not smart!

  2. This is where the hippy dreams come up against reality. There is absolutely no technology available to balance unreliables outside of fossil powered generators. The financial rewards for such an invention are huge and fortunes have been spent in trying to find the technology, all to no avail.

    Batteries, capacitors and the like have energy densities that aren’t much better than lead/acid units of 100 years ago. Pumped storage is limited by geography and is short term only while wind outages can last for days and in Germany this last winter there was no photovoltaic output for almost six weeks.

    Industry and city living requires huge amounts of stable, cheap electricity. This fixation with unreliables won’t provide it even with storage.

  3. Wind and solar would need more creative solutions than batteries. For example, use thermal collectors to capture and store heat for peak demand use, or use the overproduction of electricity during low need times to pump water back up into hydro power reservoirs…. stuff like that.

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