Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Yet more renewables optimism

The recent (and relatively abrupt) rise in optimism about renewable energy being able to pretty quickly make a big difference to CO2 production continues with stories like these.

I think I had seen some mention of this before, but strangely enough, Texas is leading America in the production of wind power.   This story last week at Slate noted that its peculiar electricity marketing system means that wind farm owners at times offer their electricity at "negative prices", but an article from earlier this year talks more generally about the Texan story:
In 2014, wind generated 10.6 percent of Texas electricity, up from 9.9 percent the previous year and 6.2 percent in 2009, according to the U.S Energy Information Administration. Wind energy generation that falls under the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which manages the grid for 24 million Texans, nearly doubled from 2009 to 2014. Currently, Texas has more than 12 gigawatts of wind power capacity installed across the state — equivalent to six Hoover Dams. That figure could jump to 20 gigawatts in a few years with upgrades to the current transmission system, according to Ross Baldick, an engineering professor at University of Texas at Austin.
And the explanation:
So how has the Lone Star state done it? Strong government incentives, sizeable investments in infrastructure, and innovative policies have played an important role. So has the backing of governors of all political persuasions, from liberal Democrat Ann Richards to conservative Republican Rick Perry. But at heart the profit motive has driven the state’s wind energy boom, with ranchers and landowners seeing gold in the spinning turbines on the Texas plains.
I wonder why Texas isn't also the centre of infrasound complaint, then?  I think David Leyonhjelm should be sent over there on a 3 year mission to find out.

In other optimistic assessments about how much you can achieve (and how quickly), I spotted this story Greening the Electric Grid with Gas about a study out of Harvard:
Much of the nation's energy policy is premised on the assumption that clean renewable sources like wind and solar will require huge quantities of storage before they can make a significant dent in the greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation. A new Harvard study pokes holes in that conventional wisdom. The analysis published today in the journal Energy & Environmental Science finds that the supply of wind and solar power could be increased tenfold without additional storage....

"We're trying to knock out a salient policy meme that says that you can't grow variable renewables without a proportionate increase in storage," Keith said. "We could cut electric-sector carbon emissions to less than a third their current levels using variable renewables with natural gas to manage the intermittency, but this will requires us to keep growing the transmission infrastructure." Keith added, "There is a saw-off between transmission and storage, if siting battles stop new transmission then we must increase storage."

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