Matthew R. Shaner, Steven J. Davis, Nathan S. Lewis, Ken Caldeira. Geophysical constraints on the reliability of solar and wind power in the United States. Energy Environ. Sci., 2018, doi: 10.1039/C7EE03029K
We analyze 36 years of global, hourly weather data (1980–2015) to quantify the covariability of solar and wind resources as a function of time and location, over multi-decadal time scales and up to continental length scales. Assuming minimal excess generation, lossless transmission, and no other generation sources, the analysis indicates that wind-heavy or solar-heavy U.S.-scale power generation portfolios could in principle provide ∼80% of recent total annual U.S. electricity demand. However, to reliably meet 100% of total annual electricity demand, seasonal cycles and unpredictable weather events require several weeks’ worth of energy storage and/or the installation of much more capacity of solar and wind power than is routinely necessary to meet peak demand. To obtain ∼80% reliability, solar-heavy wind/solar generation mixes require sufficient energy storage to overcome the daily solar cycle, whereas wind-heavy wind/solar generation mixes require continental-scale transmission to exploit the geographic diversity of wind. Policy and planning aimed at providing a reliable electricity supply must therefore rigorously consider constraints associated with the geophysical variability of the solar and wind resource—even over continental scales.
“To build the new $27 billion gas export plant on the Arctic Ocean that now keeps the lights on in Massachusetts, Russian firms bored wells into fragile permafrost; blasted a new international airport into a pristine landscape of reindeer, polar bears, and walrus; dredged the spawning grounds of the endangered Siberian sturgeon in the Gulf of Ob to accommodate large ships; and commissioned a fleet of 1,000-foot icebreaking tankers likely to kill seals and disrupt whale habitat as they shuttle cargoes of super-cooled gas bound for Asia, Europe, and Everett.” click here
The Environmental Protection Agency issued a guidance to clear up uncertainties in obtaining air quality permits required to build or modify facilities, like power plants and refineries. click here
“U.S. House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) today released a staff report uncovering Russia’s extensive efforts to influence U.S. energy markets through divisive and inflammatory posts on social media platforms. The report details Russia’s motives in interfering with U.S. energy markets and influencing domestic energy policy and its manipulation of Americans via social media propaganda. The report includes examples of Russian-propagated social media posts.” click here
“At a recent public hearing, some Californians demanded EPA head Scott Pruitt reimpose Obama era climate policies on the rest of the United States. In my opinion, people who support Governor Brown’s green policies or re-imposition of Obama era energy policies are ignoring the hardship green policies create for poor people.” click here
“Trump views climate change as non-threat to the prosperity and health of U.S. residents and believes the climate policies imposed by Obama are threats to the country’s national and energy security. Trump also ran his campaign, and thus far his administration, with the belief those policies have been hindering energy development and job growth. Under Trump, U.S. energy policy is guided by the overarching goal of promoting American energy dominance, a position reflected throughout the Trump administration’s America First Energy Plan.” click here
An odd state of affairs for nuclear power generation. On the one-hand it is ending largely due to poor experiences with PWRs (here). And yet it is just beginning to see support again as even environmentalist activists realize (here) that renewables are an inadequate solution to long-term power generation.
“After decades of promises about its potential, the window of opportunity is closing for nuclear power. Hated by the Left despite its carbon-free generation of electricity, their opposition plus decades of utilities’ screw-ups have weakened it. New energy tech — renewables and fracking — appears to be finishing it off.” click here
“Where does that leave us? With some more uncomfortable facts. Like if Germany hadn’t closed its nuclear plants, it’s emissions would be 43 percent lower than they are today. And if you care about climate change, that’s something you at least have to wrestle with — especially in light of the facts I’ve presented on the health impacts of different energy sources.” click here