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Well, no, not wholly and entirely

The biggest obstacle to a lower-carbon electric grid used to be the high cost of wind and solar hardware. Now it’s the outdated, byzantine bureaucracy of the grid itself: the process for deciding what transmission lines, substations, and other infrastructure are needed and where — and who should pay for them.
Around the world, a huge backlog is accumulating of prospective renewable energy installations that would be profitable but for one reason or another can’t connect to the grid.

The electricity system is a system, d’ye see? Meaning that ‘leccie that the system cannot use is not profitable, it’s valueless. Which also means that this new lovely ‘leccie has to carry the costs of its grid connection. As well as the costs of the back up power for when unreliable don’t deliver.

14 thoughts on “Well, no, not wholly and entirely”

  1. Which also means that this new lovely ‘leccie has to carry the costs of its grid connection. As well as the costs of the back up power for when unreliable don’t deliver.

    “As well as” should be “including”, for that back up is part of the cost.

    And, if only. Correct me if I’m wrong but I’ve seen no indication that “renewables” will be subject to these conditions; they’ll continue to be mollycoddled for ideological reasons.

    It’s simple really. No-one should be allowed to connect to the supply side of the grid unless they are able to provide stable power 24/7/365. That way, any wind and solar projects will be properly priced and integrated without disruption.

  2. Another proof that unreliables are not economic.
    “It’s profitable if other people pay for all the costs!!!”

    Here’s a radical idea: why don’t those building these things, miles from anywhere, pay to build the interconnection (and deal with the paperwork of building pwoerlines through national parks, etc).
    Or would that force some reality into their skulls?

    And yes, I echo the previous comment: the Grid should only buy guaranteed (dispatchable) power: make the birdslicers pay for the backup power stations they need: another cost they ignore.

  3. Meaning that ‘leccie that the system cannot use is not profitable, it’s valueless.

    It’s worse than useless. Producers dumping too much electricity onto the grid destabilises it with frequency and voltage variations and can damage equipment. In extremis, you’ll get a grid collapse.
    So you can’t just build a new solar station willy nilly and plug it in, whoopee problem solved. Someone has to look at what you’re going to produce, when you’re going to produce it, what the expected demand is for when it’s done and where, if necessary, other suppliers will have to cut back…

    At least, I hope someone is looking at that, but given today’s political idiocy, they’re probably just hooking stuff up with a “be reet” attitude.

  4. @PJF
    It is the simple solution, but there is a problem. Unfortunately it’s not a stable state that the markets can reach without government setting the operating rules. Without those rules cheap unreliable providers will slowly squeeze the stable backup providers out of business.

  5. The original article makes a fair point. Grids are natural monopolies and get paid whether they are effective or not. The point about the intermittent nature of renewables is a red herring. Load levelling technology exists and grids can specify it if they want to. At the moment gas peakers are cheaper so grids don’t require leveled renewable.

  6. @ JB
    The original article wants the federal system to “force …”
    At which point we can all stop reading because it’s someone demanding that someone else should pay for what he/she/they want.
    It’s NOT a fair point. It’s greed.

  7. I do agree with PJF’s point. Renewables are only cheaper if someone else pays their costs.

    The most important person, the consumer (ie ME!!!), wants 24/7/365 power. If unreliables are too unreliable to provide this, they should be dumped.

  8. @Boganboy
    No need to dump them: just make them carry the reliability risk rather than transferring it for free to the consumers and reliable backup generators.

    If the renewable generators were contractually required to make up the shortfall using contracts with reliable backup providers, and the grid to transmit it to the right place, it wouldn’t matter to you as the consumer. The price you pay would be determined by the “reliable” strike price that the renewable generator is to be paid. They would carry the risk of losing money if the wind didn’t blow as much as they expected, but we as the consumers would be insulated from that risk and that all important provision of 100% backup power would be built into the bidding process so guaranteed.

  9. Recently, the fact that 90+% of electricians and plumbers were “stupid white men”, the bulk of whom were approaching retirement came to the attention of the infantocracy.

    Not good enough and going forward “something needs to be done” to correct this poisonous legacy of empire.

    Well, if said infantocracy treats the tradesman’s entrance in the manner to which it has become accustomed, best of luck with a leaking pipe ten years down the line.

    Those same “stupid white men” are just about managing to keep the grid operating under the massive burden of ideologicals.

    Who will be doing this ten years from now when these “stupid white men” are largely gone?

    I’m one of them, as I imagine are a number of contributors here. I don’t work on the grid, but seeing what is following in the industry I do work in does not give me a particularly warm feeling.

    Byzantine bureaucracies are one thing – and the grid has probably always been one – and certainly don’t help, but they are not the fundamental problem that will stop the grid working.

    Put the dense equestrian fop and his bum chums in charge of the legion if you must. Just leave the legionaires, and above all, the centurions alone.

    Ah well, I can dream I suppose. I’ll be doing it in the dark before too long.

  10. Long time back Prof. Dieter Helm was proposing just this. Windfarm/solar cost should include storage and and be based on continuous power delivery.

  11. You all need to visit the tax research website, murphy has posted a video of his “expert” self banging on about Scottish renewables..he really does just jump on any issue with the arrogance that he is an expert in the field.

  12. Indeed Mark. If it weren’t for plumbers and sparks, the Premier League would go out of businees, because they’re the only ones who can afford the ticket prices.

    Boiler broken ? Head fot Stamford Bridge.

  13. If they pay to watch premiere league, maybe they are stupid after all!

    Maybe they write it off as a business expense, if all the other plumbers and sparkies are there too. Call it a networking event.

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