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kristopher

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Member since: Fri Dec 19, 2003, 02:20 AM
Number of posts: 29,798

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The Water Heater as Grid Battery, Version 2.0

The Water Heater as Grid Battery, Version 2.0

<snip>

...adding an extra heating element at the bottom of the tank, where the cold water sits, allows utilities the ability to turn it on and off at will, while leaving the hot water at the top of the tank at a stable temperature, he said.



That solves four key challenges, he said -- “How do we give the utility company the timing, how do we keep it safe, how do we keep water hot, and how do we keep it simple?”

These are challenges that have limited today’s water heater demand response programs. Traditional water heaters have some pretty strict limits on how often they can be turned off, and for how long, before the water gets cold enough to be noticed by homeowners. Likewise, programs that use water heaters to absorb excess power -- for example, to make use of wind power that would otherwise be curtailed for lack of demand -- can only crank up the heat so much before it starts to get dangerously hot, threatening homeowner safety and the integrity of the water heater itself.

This new design, by contrast, allows utilities to “extend the capacity -- and take over 100 percent of the timing,” Flohr said. Here’s a chart illustrating how a utility using one of Sequentric’s water heaters is able to use that lower heating element in ways that drive significant ups and downs in the lower, colder portion of the tank, while keeping water temperature at the top of the tank stable:



From Real-Time Grid Support to Long-Range Wind Energy Storage
What can be done with a utility-controlled water heater with this kind of range and flexibility? A new ...



http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/the-water-heater-as-grid-battery-version-2.0

What about the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)?

I guess they are charlatans that also have everyone fooled?

In 2008 they rated the proliferation risks of the:
Once-Through Fuel Cycle
Full Actinide Recycle
Partial Actinide Recycle

in 6 categories.

The Full Actinide Recycle approach is rated in the category
"Fuel Cycle:Inherent proliferation risk of technology"

as
"Highest risk: Capable of separating weapons-usable material, though some modification may be needed depending on the separations technology used."


And in the category
"Material Attractiveness"

as
Highest: Removal of fission products and separation of actinides greatly reduces barriers to theft, misuse, or further processing, even without separation of pure plutonium. Fast reactor fuels have higher concentration of weapons-usable materials.


For the category
Safeguards

as
Highest cost and difficulty: Separation processes require continuous monitoring against diversion and novel bulk materials present new measurement challenges.



Whose judgement is that?
National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)
"NNSA has the best science, technology and engineering in the world, and we are fortunate to have dedicated professionals who are truly leaders in their fields working every day to promote our nuclear security mission."
http://nnsa.energy.gov/


Can you believe the gall of those antinuclear idiots and the degree they've infiltrated the government?

Fast Breeder Reactor Programs: History and Status (without the hype)

Includes overview and history of the not so miraculous IFR in Chapter 7.


Research Report 8 International Panel on Fissile Materials
Fast Breeder Reactor Programs: History and Status


Thomas B. Cochran, Harold A. Feiveson, Walt Patterson, Gennadi Pshakin, M.V. Ramana, Mycle Schneider, Tatsujiro Suzuki, Frank von Hippel
www.fissilematerials.org
February 2010

About the IPFM i
1 Overview: The Rise and Fall of Plutonium Breeder Reactors
2 Fast Breeder Reactors in France Mycle Schneider
3 India and Fast Breeder Reactors M. V. Ramana
4 Japan’s Plutonium Breeder Reactor and its Fuel Cycle
5 The USSR-Russia Fast-Neutron Reactor Program Gennadi Pshakin
6 Fast Breeder Reactors in the United Kingdom Walt Patterson
7 Fast Reactor Development in the United States Thomas B. Cochran, Harold A. Feiveson,

© 2010 International Panel on Fissile Materials ISBN 978-0-9819275-6-5
This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial License. To view a copy of this license, visit www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0
Fast Breeder Reactor Programs: History and Status


http://fissilematerials.org/library/rr08.pdf



Pandora's Promise built on antinuclear critics turned nuclear proponent

What about those who previously promoted nuclear but now categorically reject it?

Here is one; and if we looked, I'd be willing to bet that we could find a lot more than 4 high level pronuclear names that now would happily go on the record in firm opposition.

(Former Japanese Prime Minister) Koizumi’s nuclear power questions
NOV 11, 2013

While political repercussions continue over former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s surprise calls for ending nuclear power generation in Japan, what the once popular leader points out are all sensible and legitimate questions about Japan’s energy policy that remain unanswered by members of the Abe administration. Any energy policy that fails to squarely answer the questions posed by Koizumi will not have any credibility.

Koizumi, who kept largely out of the media spotlight after retiring as lawmaker in 2009, has been speaking out in recent months that Japan should end its reliance on nuclear power. He says the Fukushima nuclear disaster changed his perception of nuclear power as a low-cost and safe source of energy and now says, “There is nothing more costly than nuclear power.” He urges the government to divert the massive energy and money needed to maintain nuclear power in Japan into more investments in the development and promotion of renewable energy sources.

Many of his former Liberal Democratic Party colleagues initially tried to dismiss Koizumi as a retired politician who has nothing to do with the party today. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who served in key Cabinet and LDP positions during Koizumi’s 2001-2006 rule, said it is “irresponsible” to commit to ending nuclear energy at this point. Meanwhile, hopes have emerged within the opposition camp that an alliance with Koizumi — who drew strong popular support while in office — on the zero nuclear agenda could provide them with ammunition against the LDP’s dominance in the Diet.

The political ripple effects ...


http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2013/11/11/editorials/koizumis-nuclear-power-questions/#.UoEqoigyHdk


And while we are at it, let's let the air out of the primary false assumption in the bag of tricks wielded by the nuclear propaganda establishment; which is the assertion in any form that "You can't run a modern technological culture on renewable energy"

That claim is 100% pure, unadulterated by any element of truth, bullpuckey.


NREL's Renewable Electricity Futures Report is updated with research and data to 2010. It was released in 2012. It is a government report with no copyright issues, so let's let part of their summary tell you about what they have done and found out. From "Renewable Electricity Futures Study Volume 4: Bulk Electric Power Systems—Operations and Transmission Planning." pg iii, iv

The Renewable Electricity Futures Study (RE Futures) provides an analysis of the grid integration opportunities, challenges, and implications of high levels of renewable electricity generation for the U.S. electric system. The study is not a market or policy assessment. Rather, RE Futures examines renewable energy resources and many technical issues related to the operability of the U.S. electricity grid, and provides initial answers to important questions about the integration of high penetrations of renewable electricity technologies from a national perspective. RE Futures results indicate that a future U.S. electricity system that is largely powered by renewable sources is possible and that further work is warranted to investigate this clean generation pathway. The central conclusion of the analysis is that renewable electricity generation from technologies that are commercially available today, in combination with a more flexible electric system, is more than adequate to supply 80% of total U.S. electricity generation in 2050 while meeting electricity demand on an hourly basis in every region of the United States.

The renewable technologies explored in this study are components of a diverse set of clean energy solutions that also includes nuclear, efficient natural gas, clean coal, and energy efficiency. Understanding all of these technology pathways and their potential contributions to the future U.S. electric power system can inform the development of integrated portfolio scenarios. RE Futures focuses on the extent to which U.S. electricity needs can be supplied by renewable energy sources, including biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar, and wind.

The study explores grid integration issues using models with unprecedented geographic and time resolution for the contiguous United States. The analysis (1) assesses a variety of scenarios with prescribed levels of renewable electricity generation in 2050, from 30% to 90%, with a focus on 80% (with nearly 50% from variable wind and solar photovoltaic generation); (2) identifies the characteristics of a U.S. electricity system that would be needed to accommodate such levels; and (3) describes some of the associated challenges and implications of realizing such a future. In addition to the central conclusion noted above, RE Futures finds that increased electric system flexibility, needed to enable electricity supply-demand balance with high levels of renewable generation, can come from a portfolio of supply- and demand-side options, including flexible conventional generation, grid storage, new transmission, more responsive loads, and changes in power system operations. The analysis also finds that the abundance and diversity of U.S. renewable energy resources can support multiple combinations of renewable technologies that result in deep reductions in electric sector greenhouse gas emissions and water use. The study finds that the direct incremental cost associated with high renewable generation is comparable to published cost estimates of other clean energy scenarios. Of the sensitivities examined, improvement in the cost and performance of renewable technologies is the most impactful lever for reducing this incremental cost. Assumptions reflecting the extent of this improvement are based on incremental or evolutionary improvements to currently commercial technologies and do not reflect U.S. Department of Energy activities to further lower renewable technology costs so that they achieve parity with conventional technologies.

RE Futures is an initial analysis of scenarios for high levels of renewable electricity in the United States; additional research is needed to comprehensively investigate other facets of high renewable or other clean energy futures in the U.S. power system. First, this study focuses on renewable-specific technology pathways and does not explore the full portfolio of clean technologies that could contribute to future electricity supply. Second, the analysis does not attempt a full reliability analysis of the power system that includes addressing sub-hourly, transient, and distribution system requirements. Third, although RE Futures describes the system characteristics needed to accommodate high levels of renewable generation, it does not address the institutional, market, and regulatory changes that may be needed to facilitate such a transformation. Fourth, a full cost-benefit analysis was not conducted to comprehensively evaluate the relative impacts of renewable and non-renewable electricity generation options.

Lastly, as a long-term analysis, uncertainties associated with assumptions and data, along with limitations of the modeling capabilities, contribute to significant uncertainty in the implications reported. Most of the scenario assessment was conducted in 2010 with assumptions concerning technology cost and performance and fossil energy prices generally based on data available in 2009 and early 2010.

Significant changes in electricity and related markets have already occurred since the analysis was conducted, and the implications of these changes may not have been fully reflected in the study assumptions and results. For example, both the rapid development of domestic unconventional natural gas resources that has contributed to historically low natural gas prices, and the significant price declines for some renewable technologies (e.g., photovoltaics) since 2010, were not reflected in the study assumptions.

Nonetheless, as the most comprehensive analysis of U.S. high-penetration renewable electricity conducted to date, this study can inform broader discussion of the evolution of the electric system and electricity markets toward clean systems.

The RE Futures team was made up of experts in the fields of renewable technologies, grid integration, and end-use demand. The team included leadership from a core team with members from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and subject matter experts from U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) national laboratories, including NREL, Idaho National Laboratory (INL), Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), and Sandia National Laboratories (SNL), as well as Black & Veatch and other utility, industry, university, public sector, and non-profit participants. Over the course of the project, an executive steering committee provided input from multiple perspectives to support study balance and objectivity.

RE Futures is documented in four volumes of a single report: Volume 1 describes the analysis approach and models, along with the key results and insights; Volume 2 describes the renewable generation and storage technologies included in the study; Volume 3 presents end-use demand and energy efficiency assumptions; and this volume—Volume 4—discusses operational and institutional challenges of integrating high levels of renewable energy into the electric grid.


Let me repeat what they elect to call their central conclusion:
The central conclusion of the analysis is that renewable electricity generation from technologies that are commercially available today, in combination with a more flexible electric system, is more than adequate to supply 80% of total U.S. electricity generation in 2050 while meeting electricity demand on an hourly basis in every region of the United States.

"This structure is something known as a perovskite crystal"

A New Solar Material Shows Its Potential
A new material described in Nature adds to the momentum suggesting a new path to high-efficiency, inexpensive solar cells.

By Kevin Bullis on November 10, 2013

...A new solar cell material has properties that might lead to solar cells more than twice as efficient as the best on the market today. An article this week in the journal Nature describes the materials—a modified form of a class of compounds called perovskites, which have a particular crystalline structure.

The researchers haven’t yet demonstrated a high efficiency solar cell with the material. But their work adds to a growing body of evidence suggesting perovskite materials could change the face of solar power. Researchers are making new perovskites using combinations of elements and molecules not seen in nature; many researchers see the materials as the next great hope for making solar power cheap enough to compete with fossil fuels.

Perovskite-based solar cells have been improving at a remarkable pace. It took a decade or more for the major solar cell materials used today—silicon and cadmium telluride—to reach efficiency levels that have been demonstrated with perovskites in just four years. The rapid success of the material has impressed even veteran solar researchers who have learned to be cautious about new materials after seeing many promising ones come to nothing (see “A Material that Could Make Solar Power ‘Dirt Cheap’”).

The perovskite material described in Nature has properties that could lead to solar cells that can convert over half of the energy in sunlight directly into electricity, says Andrew Rappe, co-director of Pennergy, a center for energy innovation at the University of Pennsylvania, and one of the new report’s authors. That’s more than twice as efficient as conventional solar cells. Such high efficiency would cut in half the number of solar cells needed to produce a given amount of power. Besides reducing the cost of solar panels, this would greatly reduce installation costs, which now account for most of the cost of a new solar system.

Unlike conventional solar cell materials, the new material doesn’t require an electric field to produce an electrical current...

http://www.technologyreview.com/news/521491/a-new-solar-material-shows-its-potential/

This next piece is based on the same Nature article, but it spends some effort to explain the nature of the two relevant "paradigms". The thread title if a line from below.
New paradigm for solar cell construction demonstrated

(Phys.org)...
...Existing solar cells all work in the same fundamental way: they absorb light, which excites electrons and causes them to flow in a certain direction. This flow of electrons is electric current. But to establish a consistent direction of their movement, or polarity, solar cells need to be made of two materials. Once an excited electron crosses over the interface from the material that absorbs the light to the material that will conduct the current, it can't cross back, giving it a direction.

"There's a small category of materials, however, that when you shine light on them, the electron takes off in one particular direction without having to cross from one material to another," Rappe said. "We call this the 'bulk' photovoltaic effect, rather than the 'interface' effect that happens in existing solar cells. This phenomenon has been known since the 1970s, but we don't make solar cells this way because they have only been demonstrated with ultraviolet light, and most of the energy from the sun is in the visible and infrared spectrum."

<snip>

Starting more than five years ago, the team began theoretical work, plotting the properties of hypothetical new compounds that would have a mix of these traits. Each compound began with a "parent" material that would impart the final material with the polar aspect of the bulk photovoltaic effect. To the parent, a material that would lower the compound's bandgap would be added in different percentages. These two materials would be ground into fine powders, mixed together and then heated in an oven until they reacted together. The resulting crystal would ideally have the structure of the parent but with elements from the second material in key locations, enabling it to absorb visible light.

"The design challenge," Davies said, "was to identify materials that could retain their polar properties while simultaneously absorbing visible light. The theoretical calculations pointed to new families of materials where this often mutually exclusive combination of properties could in fact be stabilized."

<snip>


Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2013-11-paradigm-solar-cell.html#jCp

Duck@Work?

German utility reduces retail rate

The country's fifth largest power provider has announced a minor reduction in retail rates for its nearly one million household customers. The reasons the firm indicated for the reduction apply to all power providers in the country.

EWE, Germany's fifth largest power provider, announced this week that its roughly 900,000 household customers will see their retail rates reduced by 0.36 cents per kilowatt-hour. The news is a further indication that retail power rates in Germany are stabilizing despite the relatively great increase in the renewables surcharge of roughly one cent.

The firm says it was able to reduce its retail rates nonetheless mainly because of two factors: lower wholesale prices and lower grid charges. My regular readers will know that renewable electricity has greatly reduced the price of wholesale power in Germany, but that those prices are only passed on to retail consumers with a delay of a year or two because power purchase agreements generally have a term of around 18 months.

The new grid fees were only made public a few weeks ago. As my readers will also remember, Germany has ironically made the firms that consume the most electricity (and hence need to grid the most) exempt from grid fees – something that has drawn the ire of Brussels, which (correctly) considers the policy illegal state aid for local industry. But before the German government could react (after all, the CDU and SPD are still in coalition negotiations), a court in Düsseldorf ruled that the exemptions are illegal for more than 200 of these firms.

In 2011, 1,007 firms received the exemption, and ...


http://www.renewablesinternational.net/german-utility-reduces-retail-rate/150/537/74600/

The Solar Industry is Red Hot – Will it Get Hotter?

The Solar Industry is Red Hot – Will it Get Hotter?
By ELIAS HINCKLEY on November 07, 2013 at 4:00 PM




After 2 paragraphs of overview the article picks up here:

...It is clear that the future is very bright for the industry. What is less clear is when growth will accelerate and how near-term challenges for the industry could create some rough patches for the industry before widespread adoption drives truly explosive industry growth.

The rapidly decreasing costs of solar cells and corresponding growth of the global solar industry have lead people to invoke Moore’s law and predict that the installed capacity of solar PV on homes and businesses will double every two years. The total installed capacity worldwide and in the U.S. doubled over the last two and a half years. While the steep decline in the cost of manufacturing solar panels appears to be flattening out, the associated balance of system costs, along with customer acquisition, transaction and capital costs will continue to drop, though this will likely happen inconsistently in fits and starts over coming years. Meanwhile, the per-unit cost of retail electricity delivered by utilities will begin to rise as costly infrastructure demands combine with stagnating or falling demand caused by the penetration of distributed power systems. These two merging dynamics – dropping solar costs and rising utility rates for electricity have caught the eye of more than a few investors and analysts.

?00cfb7

The opportunity is immense

Solar is still a relatively immature industry. About 0.2% of electricity in the U.S. comes from solar generation and solar has been installed on less than 250,000 homes in the U.S. If a building or structure receives direct sunlight and uses electricity solar could be used to generate some of that electricity. The residential market potential is immense: there are more than 90 million single family homes in the U.S. and as many as 50 million more households in multi-family structures and several million more commercial and other non-residential structures. While solar may not work on every structure in the U.S. just a small wedge of this market is worth hundreds of billions of dollars.

?00cfb7

In some markets it is already cheaper for a household to invest in solar than to buy electricity, and the projection is that at a $3 per watt for the cost of installed solar, about 100 GW could be economically installed today without relying on any state or federal subsidy programs. As the market closes on that $3 per watt threshold, the rate of growth will almost certainly explode. Manufacturing capacity, capital and a skilled labor force will be the only constraints on growth.

?00cfb7

Some possible bumps ahead?

The future isn’t all sunshine and excitement – subsidy erosion, attacks from utilities...



The article continues by integrating potential negatives and offering a couple of graphs to help visualize the possible impact of the challenges.
http://breakingenergy.com/2013/11/07/the-solar-industry-is-red-hot-will-it-get-hotter/

Renewable energy's bird problem - Understanding 'The Duck'

Renewable energy's bird problem
By Owen Smith and Mathias Bell
Published November 01, 2013

In the lively conversation about how to integrate variable renewables such as wind and solar into our electric grid's generation mix, an unlikely player has entered the fray: a duck.

It's not literally a duck, mind you, but rather a mallard-esque graph -- now famously known as the "duck chart" -- from the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) in a report released late last year causing quite a stir of late.

...The duck chart shows the net load CAISO's central thermal power plants would need to supply when you combine hour-by-hour expected customer electricity demand with the offsetting output from variable renewables (especially solar) over the course of a typical spring day. As the forecast goes to 2015 and beyond, the curve shifts as growing shares of renewable generation are added to the grid, with the duck belly sinking deeper and the neck rising more steeply.

That deepening belly and subsequent steep rise to the top of the head is what's getting so much attention. It makes clear that we soon will face some real challenges in managing the grid if we don't do something. The good news, though, is that we have plenty of choices about what we can do to ensure continued reliable grid operation of the grid.


The Duck Chart

Understanding the duck

....

Taming the duck

...


http://www.greenbiz.com/blog/2013/11/01/renewables-bird-problem

Currently this is probably one of the most critical topics relative to advancing the transition to a low carbon renewable energy system and the article provides good information on the ways to manage the issue.

Recent facts about photovoltaics in Germany - GREAT READ

Germany Solar PV Report — A Must-Read For Any Energy Reporter

One of our Dutch readers, Remco van der Horst of Better Energy, recently passed along an excellent report on various aspects of Germany’s solar power boom. The report actually reads more like a fact-checking of common claims (in media and politics) regarding Germany’s rapid energy transition. It is easy to read, organized by common questions/claims, and full of interesting facts. I actually learned a few things from this one that have been itching at my mind for awhile.

I definitely recommend checking out every question and at least the short answer for it. However, I’m pulling out a few of the key ones and sharing them below. Have a look!
2. Does PV contribute significantly to the electric power supply?

Yes.

As estimated on the basis of figures from [BDEW3] and [BDEW4], PV generated 28 TWh [BDEW4] of power in 2012, covering approximately 5.3 percent of Germany’s net power consumption (compare section 20.8). Taken as a whole, renewable energy (RE) ac- counted for around 25.8 percent of net power consumption, while the proportion of Germany’s gross power consumption covered by PV and RE stood at 4.7 percent and 23 percent respectively.

On sunny days, PV power can cover at times 30 – 40 percent of the current power consumption. According to the German Federal Network Agency, PV modules with a rated power of 32.4 GW had been installed across a total of around 1.3 million plants in Germany by the end of 2012, meaning the installed capacity of PV has exceeded that of all other types of power plants in Germany. See Figure 1.

?fit=570%2C1200

http://cleantechnica.com/2013/11/07/germany-solar-pv-report-must-read-energy-reporter/

Recent facts about photovoltaics in Germany
Version as of Sep 12, 2013 Up-to-date version available from www.pv-fakten.de
Compiled by Dr. Harry Wirth Division Director Photovoltaic Modules, Systems and Reliability Fraunhofer ISE
Download PDF:
http://www.ise.fraunhofer.de/en/publications/veroeffentlichungen-pdf-dateien-en/studien-und-konzeptpapiere/recent-facts-about-photovoltaics-in-germany.pdf

Another "I'd rather not have to admit I'm wrong" tangent, eh?

That's OK, it's a trait we all share so no hard feelings. But it's gone on long enough so let's cut to the chase:
You said an undeveloped fusion reactor "has a much greater chance of replacing fossil fuels compared to current renewables due to the high cost and low energy density of current renewable technologies" and "There really isn't a practical alternative except Thorium reactors ... solar and wind technologies really aren't ready for mass production"

The National Academy study says this:
In the panel’s opinion, increasing manufacturing and installation capacity, employment, and financing to levels required to meet the goals for greatly increased solar or wind penetration goals is doable. However, to do so would require aggressive growth rates, a large increase in manufacturing and installation capacity, and a large infusion of capital. The magnitude of the challenges is clear from the scale of such efforts. pg 321


It continues
t is reasonable to envision that, collectively, non- hydropower renewable electricity could begin to provide a material contribution (i.e., reaching a level of 10 percent level or more with trends toward continued growth) to the nation’s electricity generation in the period up to 2020 with such accelerated deployment. Combined with hydropower, total renewable electricity could approach a contribution of 20 percent of U.S. electricity by the year 2020.

In the period from 2020 to 2035, it is reasonable to envision that contin- ued and even further accelerated deployment could potentially result in non- hydroelectric renewables providing, collectively, 20 percent or more of domestic electricity generation by 2035. In the third timeframe, beyond 2035, continued development of renewable electricity technologies could potentially provide lower costs and result in further increases in the percentage of renewable electricity generated from renewable resources. However, achieving a predominant (i.e., >50 percent) level of renewable electricity penetration will require new scientific advances (e.g., in solar photovoltaics, other renewable electricity technologies, and storage technologies) and dramatic changes in how we generate, transmit, and use electricity. Scientific advances are anticipated to improve the cost, scalability, and performance of all renewable energy generation technologies. Moreover, some combination of intelligent, two-way electric grids; scalable and cost-effective methods for large-scale and distributed storage (either direct electricity energy storage or generation of chemical fuels); widespread implementation of rapidly dispatch- able fossil-based electricity technologies; and greatly improved technologies for cost-effective long-distance electricity transmission will be required. pg 322


That study was released in 2009 and it is based (note the dates on the references) on research released mostly around 2006 and 2007. That is significant in that since, China has entered the scene in both renewable energy manufacturing and installation. As an example of the nature of the impact, they are going to install 9GW of distributed solar this year, 12 next year and the year after - going from 2GW of capacity in 2011 to 35GW in 2015.

But solar isn't ready for mass production, according to you.

A more recent study is NRELs Renewable Electricity Futures Report. It is updated with research and data to 2010. It was released in 2012. But hey, since it is a government report with no copyright issues, let's let them tell you about what they have done. From "Renewable Electricity Futures Study Volume 4: Bulk Electric Power Systems—Operations and Transmission Planning." pg iii, iv

The Renewable Electricity Futures Study (RE Futures) provides an analysis of the grid integration opportunities, challenges, and implications of high levels of renewable electricity generation for the U.S. electric system. The study is not a market or policy assessment. Rather, RE Futures examines renewable energy resources and many technical issues related to the operability of the U.S. electricity grid, and provides initial answers to important questions about the integration of high penetrations of renewable electricity technologies from a national perspective. RE Futures results indicate that a future U.S. electricity system that is largely powered by renewable sources is possible and that further work is warranted to investigate this clean generation pathway. The central conclusion of the analysis is that renewable electricity generation from technologies that are commercially available today, in combination with a more flexible electric system, is more than adequate to supply 80% of total U.S. electricity generation in 2050 while meeting electricity demand on an hourly basis in every region of the United States.

The renewable technologies explored in this study are components of a diverse set of clean energy solutions that also includes nuclear, efficient natural gas, clean coal, and energy efficiency. Understanding all of these technology pathways and their potential contributions to the future U.S. electric power system can inform the development of integrated portfolio scenarios. RE Futures focuses on the extent to which U.S. electricity needs can be supplied by renewable energy sources, including biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar, and wind.

The study explores grid integration issues using models with unprecedented geographic and time resolution for the contiguous United States. The analysis (1) assesses a variety of scenarios with prescribed levels of renewable electricity generation in 2050, from 30% to 90%, with a focus on 80% (with nearly 50% from variable wind and solar photovoltaic generation); (2) identifies the characteristics of a U.S. electricity system that would be needed to accommodate such levels; and (3) describes some of the associated challenges and implications of realizing such a future. In addition to the central conclusion noted above, RE Futures finds that increased electric system flexibility, needed to enable electricity supply-demand balance with high levels of renewable generation, can come from a portfolio of supply- and demand-side options, including flexible conventional generation, grid storage, new transmission, more responsive loads, and changes in power system operations. The analysis also finds that the abundance and diversity of U.S. renewable energy resources can support multiple combinations of renewable technologies that result in deep reductions in electric sector greenhouse gas emissions and water use. The study finds that the direct incremental cost associated with high renewable generation is comparable to published cost estimates of other clean energy scenarios. Of the sensitivities examined, improvement in the cost and performance of renewable technologies is the most impactful lever for reducing this incremental cost. Assumptions reflecting the extent of this improvement are based on incremental or evolutionary improvements to currently commercial technologies and do not reflect U.S. Department of Energy activities to further lower renewable technology costs so that they achieve parity with conventional technologies.

RE Futures is an initial analysis of scenarios for high levels of renewable electricity in the United States; additional research is needed to comprehensively investigate other facets of high renewable or other clean energy futures in the U.S. power system. First, this study focuses on renewable-specific technology pathways and does not explore the full portfolio of clean technologies that could contribute to future electricity supply. Second, the analysis does not attempt a full reliability analysis of the power system that includes addressing sub-hourly, transient, and distribution system requirements. Third, although RE Futures describes the system characteristics needed to accommodate high levels of renewable generation, it does not address the institutional, market, and regulatory changes that may be needed to facilitate such a transformation. Fourth, a full cost-benefit analysis was not conducted to comprehensively evaluate the relative impacts of renewable and non-renewable electricity generation options.

Lastly, as a long-term analysis, uncertainties associated with assumptions and data, along with limitations of the modeling capabilities, contribute to significant uncertainty in the implications reported. Most of the scenario assessment was conducted in 2010 with assumptions concerning technology cost and performance and fossil energy prices generally based on data available in 2009 and early 2010.

Significant changes in electricity and related markets have already occurred since the analysis was conducted, and the implications of these changes may not have been fully reflected in the study assumptions and results. For example, both the rapid development of domestic unconventional natural gas resources that has contributed to historically low natural gas prices, and the significant price declines for some renewable technologies (e.g., photovoltaics) since 2010, were not reflected in the study assumptions.

Nonetheless, as the most comprehensive analysis of U.S. high-penetration renewable electricity conducted to date, this study can inform broader discussion of the evolution of the electric system and electricity markets toward clean systems.

The RE Futures team was made up of experts in the fields of renewable technologies, grid integration, and end-use demand. The team included leadership from a core team with members from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and subject matter experts from U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) national laboratories, including NREL, Idaho National Laboratory (INL), Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), and Sandia National Laboratories (SNL), as well as Black & Veatch and other utility, industry, university, public sector, and non-profit participants. Over the course of the project, an executive steering committee provided input from multiple perspectives to support study balance and objectivity.

RE Futures is documented in four volumes of a single report: Volume 1 describes the analysis approach and models, along with the key results and insights; Volume 2 describes the renewable generation and storage technologies included in the study; Volume 3 presents end-use demand and energy efficiency assumptions; and this volume—Volume 4—discusses operational and institutional challenges of integrating high levels of renewable energy into the electric grid.


Let me repeat what they call their central conclusion:
The central conclusion of the analysis is that renewable electricity generation from technologies that are commercially available today, in combination with a more flexible electric system, is more than adequate to supply 80% of total U.S. electricity generation in 2050 while meeting electricity demand on an hourly basis in every region of the United States.


I wish I could say thanks for the discussion, but it was too much like trying to communicate with a climate denier for me to say it honestly. But I will thank you heartily for a polite exchange; that does mean a lot.
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