[Watchdogs] More from Sloan on wind
ric at aimproductions.com
Fri Feb 6 10:03:09 CST 2009
Dear Mr. Spellman, other Board members and Watchdogs,
We are lucky to have informed people such as Mr. Spellman and Mr. Sloan willing to engage in a dialogue on this important subject. Below are Mike Sloan's latest comments.
Since the wind conversation at PEC is seemingly of interest to many people, I would be happy to schedule some time to come visit about wind power and/or other renewable energy issues with Mr. Spellman and others from the PEC Board or staff. Decisions regarding future resources should be made with the best information possible. If there is interest, I would be happy to offer information on these topics for possible consideration by PEC.
Mr. Spellman and I may agree on many technical details, but we appear to differ on the overall interpretation of those details.
There are many ways to get from point A to point B, and adhering to status quo approaches will usually work. But with the current confluence of economic, environmental, and national security concerns, there is widespread and growing interest for the energy industry to develop new solutions. In that spirit, I offer a few comments.
Integrating large levels of wind and/or solar power into an electric grid will indeed pose new challenges. The easy path is to stick with known solutions and limit the introduction of such variable resources. But saying "not yet" to zero-emission and zero-fuel cost technologies will result in higher environmental impacts and higher generation fleet operating costs.
a.. A few items to supplement Mr. Spellman's estimate of "$5-$10/MWH hot spinning reserve backup fee" include ERCOT's filing on April 2, 2008 in Docket 33672 (CREZ case) which includes as a key finding for accommodating 15,000 MW of wind: "Additional Regulation will be required in relatively small amounts (54 MW up and 48 MW down)" with the underllying study performed by GE Energy for ERCOT dated March 28, 2008 saying: "...cost of regulation per MWh of wind generation that is very small, ranging between -0.18/MWh to +$.0.27/MWh... ". Mr. Spellman did not likely have the benefit of the ERCOT-specific GE study when he wrote his paper.
a.. Mr. Spellman's use of the term "INTERRUPTIBLE" does not seem to capture the essense of wind, which is the observed movement of large masses of air. Nature obeys the laws of physics and doesn't just "break". Accordingly, Texas aggregate wind output changes gradually. Even with 15,000 MW of wind, ERCOT wind is projected to change no more than 100 MW per minute. In contrast, a 1,300 MW nuclear power unit can trip entirely off line in less than 1 second. If Texas has successfully developed procedures to keep the grid reliable when large conventional plants abruptly "break", common sense suggests Texas should be able to figure out how to handle much more gradual changes from natural energy resources like wind & solar (Denmark currently has a reliable grid with more than 20% wind power).
a.. I do not follow Mr. Spellman's discussion of WEST TEXAS WIND AVAILABILITY ( CAPACITY FACTOR) when it says: "This compared to the reported Wind Capacity: 8760 hrs/yr x 8500 MW's = 74,460,000 MWH Capacity". Capacity and Energy are 2 entirely different things. Units of Capacity are MW. Units of Energy are MWh. No power plant of any type could live up to this calculation since no power plant operates at 100% 24/7 over its lifetime. Perhaps the confusion on my part stems from a desire by PEC to add "capacity resources". If that is the case, wind is not what you need (although Texas coastal wind will get you about 1/2 way there). But if you are looking to minimize fuel cost & lower emissions, wind power is as good as it gets.
Thanks for involving me in this conversation.
sloan at vera.com
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