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Article, Resource filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Mar 21, 2014

A Perfect Storm for Renewables – Episode 18 of Local Energy Rules

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://ilsr.org/perfect-storm-renewables-episode-18-local-energy-rules/

“We have a perfect storm for renewables,” says Jan TenBruggencate, second-term board member of the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative. The Hawaiian utility, made local when the investor-owned utility left the business a decade ago, is surging toward 40% renewable energy in the next year, with a third of that total from customer-generated solar. Half its… Continue reading

800px-Energy_density.svg
Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by ILSR Admin | 7 Comments | Updated on May 21, 2012

Technological Complications of Energy Storage

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://ilsr.org/technological-complications-energy-storage/

In the long run, there’s no avoiding energy storage for a 100% renewable energy society.  The two major sources of renewable power are wind and sun, and they are either fickle or reliably not available at night. The problem is that the simplest energy storage option for electricity is batteries, and this image from Wikipedia… Continue reading

Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | 4 Comments | Updated on Oct 4, 2011

With Electric Cars, U.S. States Can Boost Energy Self-Reliance

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://ilsr.org/electric-cars-us-states-can-boost-energy-self-reliance/

The U.S. Northwest could get an additional 12 percent of its electricity from local wind power if 1 in 8 of the region’s cars used batteries. 

That’s the conclusion of a new study from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratories investigating how electric vehicles can help smooth the introduction of more variable renewable energy into the grid system.

The study examines the Northwest Power Pool, an area  encompassing roughly seven states in the Northwest.  With around 2.1 million electrified vehicles, the grid could support an additional 10 gigawatts of wind power.  With electricity demand from those seven states of about 250 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year, the additional 10 gigawatts of wind would provide 12 percent of the annual electricity demand (roughly 30 billion kilowatt-hours per year).

The results are no doubt applicable to other regions of the country.  In fact, at least 33 states have enough wind power to meet 10 percent or more of their electricity needs and if the same portion of vehicles (13%) were electrified in those 33 states, it would allow them to add a collective 100 gigawatts of wind power, meeting nearly 14% of their electricity needs. 

Northwest Power Pool

In the long-run, a fully electrified vehicle fleet would theoretically – just do the math! – provide enough balancing power for a 100% renewable electricity system.  And since the large majority of those vehicle trips would be made on batteries alone, it would be a significant dent in American reliance on foreign oil for transportation. 

Further reading: learn a bit more about electric vehicles helping wind power in Denmark, too.

Hat tip to Midwest Energy News for the original story.

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Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Oct 19, 2010

Pumped Hydro Storage Still Cheaper Than Batteries

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://ilsr.org/pumped-hydro-storage-still-cheaper-batteries/

A nice, short comparison of the cost of electricity storage with pumped hydropower and batteries.

Using pumped hydro to store electricity costs less than $100 per kilowatt-hour and is highly efficient, Chu told his energy advisory board during a recent meeting. By contrast, he said, using sodium ion flow batteries — another option for storing large amounts of power — would cost $400 per kWh and have less than 1 percent of pumped hydro’s capacity.

Of course, you need to have a river with a likely reservoir location to have any significant quantity of pumped storage, making the article’s reference to Texas a bit ironic.

For those unfamiliar with the concept, here’s a nice diagram of pumped storage from Consumers Energy:

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Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Oct 19, 2010

Storage Potential of Electric Vehicles

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://ilsr.org/storage-potential-electric-vehicles/

One of the keys to maximizing renewable energy production (decentralized or otherwise) is providing electricity storage to smooth out variabilities in wind and solar power production. Electric vehicles have a lot of promise, as the cars could provide roving storage and dispatchable power to help match supply and demand.

So could a large number of EVs actually help with the huge variations in wind that can occur? According to Claus Ekman, a researcher at the Risø National Laboratory for Sustainable Energy in Frederiksborgvej, Denmark, it can, to an extent. Ekman recently published a paper in the journal Renewable Energy that modeled how well EVs could handle increasing wind power generation. He found that in a scenario involving 500,000 vehicles and 8 gigawatts of wind power, various strategies would reduce the excess, or lost, wind power by as much as 800 megawatts — enough to power more than 200,000 homes. Ekman calls this a “significant but not dramatic” effect on the grid. Scenarios involving 2.5 million vehicles and even more wind power show an even greater impact.

The U.S. currently has around 35 gigawatts of wind power, so it would take 2.1 million EVs to provide a similar effect in the U.S. (reducing the lost wind capacity by 10 percent of total installed capacity).

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Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | 1 Comment | Updated on Oct 4, 2010

Policy to Maximize On-site Use from Distributed Generation

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://ilsr.org/policy-maximize-site-use-distributed-generation/

Distributed generation (DG) puts energy production close to where it is consumed, often on people’s homes or in their backyards.  But just having a rooftop solar module doesn’t mean that every kilowatt-hour produced from sunlight is used in the home.  In fact, it’s often less than one-third, with the remaining energy production flowing out into… Continue reading