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Grid Storage a Key to Success of Renewables

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Matthew Shapiro
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Iron
Re: Yet another infrastructure problem?
Matthew Shapiro   4/26/2012 10:24:14 AM
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As correctly stated, pumped storage has been the number one option for large-scale storage. It remains the number one option. There are today 75 applications for new pumped storage projects in the United States, most concentrated in the west but some in the east. Only the best of these are developable, and those best represent quite a few thousands of megawatts. The scale of these projects - from 280 MW to over 1,000 MW - is large, but so is the scale of renewable energy and the need for new firm capacity toward the end of the decade. Cost per kW varies widely from site to site, but the best will be under $2,000/kW, and some under $1,200/kW. That, combined with storage durations exceeding 12 hours and lifetimes of 75+ years, give pumped storage the lowest capital cost per kWh (with the exception of conventional CAES - see below).

As for the article's note on siting difficulty - that is not a new issue; quite a few pumped storage projects from the olden days never got built due to poor siting choices, environmental concerns, etc. Today, however, a new generation of closed-loop projects are under development, many of which avoid similar issues.

On Mr. Murray's comment - the cost of pumped hydro is not much related to the price of land because its footprint is pretty small.

As for Compressed Air Energy Storage - the only rival to pumped storage at large scale. More modular (generally, units of 135 MW); no FERC licensing required; and somewhat lower capex. CAES also has the lowest cost per kWh of duration of any storage technology - if using salt caverns. Where such geology is available, it's relatively easy to expand storage capacity to levels allowing for semi-weekly storage. The newer CAES technologies have only marginal advantages over existing CAES in areas of suitable geology. While they would eliminate the natural gas component, fuel use for existing CAES is already extremely low, and the round-trip electrical efficiency would be about the same. Using pipes for storage will also certainly be more expensive than using caverns, so while pipes would allow for wider geographic siting options, the advantage of long duration storage would likely be compromised. CAES without natural gas also shifts the economics such that it becomes more dependent on off-peak/peak price spread, which has been shrinking, rather than on moderate amount of natural gas, which will be inexpensive for some time.  

ChasChas
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Platinum
Re: Yet another infrastructure problem?
ChasChas   4/26/2012 11:31:33 AM
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Maybe this will solve the disposal problem for EV batteries:)

Rob Spiegel
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Blogger
Re: Yet another infrastructure problem?
Rob Spiegel   4/26/2012 12:18:55 PM
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As this need grows, and it looks like it certainly will with advances in alternative energies, I would imagine there could be public/private pumped hydro projects. Certainly a lake would serve the public in many ways.

Rob Spiegel
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Blogger
Re: Yet another infrastructure problem?
Rob Spiegel   4/26/2012 12:24:27 PM
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Thanks for this good bit of information, Matthew. Just how big is the footprint in pumped storage? Is this something that can be done in tanks, or does it necessitate a lake?

Matthew Shapiro
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Iron
Re: Yet another infrastructure problem?
Matthew Shapiro   4/26/2012 12:41:29 PM
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The footprint will vary from project to project. Almost the entirety of the footprint consists of the reservoirs; everything else, except transmission, is below ground. For some of our typical sites, reservoirs are typically 60-120 acres each in surface area. So let's say 250 total acres, compact. Tanks with volumes of thousands of acre-feet, required to match the scale of a pumped storage plant and provide 8+ hours of storage, using normally available heads, would be too expensive and generally not necessary. There was one such project proposed in California, some time ago. Ideally one finds sites with topography that minimizes the construction involved in reservoir creation. Occasionally there are unusual opportunites like the newly proposed Maysville Pumped Storage project in Kentucky, which would use existing excavated mine space 1,000' below the surface as the lower reservoir. This dramatically lowers the cost of the project.

Rob Spiegel
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Blogger
Re: Yet another infrastructure problem?
Rob Spiegel   4/26/2012 1:51:46 PM
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Thanks for the info, Matthew. I would think pumped hydro would lend itself to public/private projects, since lakes provide recreational opportunities for cities. Any city could use an extra lake. Have you seen public/private projects?

Matthew Shapiro
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Iron
Re: Yet another infrastructure problem?
Matthew Shapiro   4/26/2012 2:31:24 PM
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Well, sometimes pumped storage reservoirs (the really big ones) can be used for recreation. Others may not be, as the fluctuations and currents as the project drains and then re-fills don't make the best environments for fish. Plus most new pumped storage sites are quite far from urban areas.

Rob Spiegel
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Blogger
Re: Yet another infrastructure problem?
Rob Spiegel   4/26/2012 2:34:54 PM
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So the whole notion they you have a beautiful lake for pumping hydro is not necessarily the case. I understand. This is an industrial function that isn't necessarily conducive to consumer usage.

Jerry dycus
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Gold
Re: Load balancing
Jerry dycus   4/26/2012 3:48:20 PM
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  Lux and Pike don'tknow what they are talking about. Both write papers that most always are wrong.  Same for the EIA, IEA which past data is good but can't predict worth a dam ;^P

Take this one. They left out the recent tech that makes GS at least by utilities moot.  It's NG turbine Cogen units that can throttle to 50% eff reming the need for storage.

Next RE doesn't need storage on uility level because RE mostly happens when needed, solar or on call, hydro, CSP, biomass.  The only truly intermitent RE is wind and only big wind far away has that.

So just where is this great demand other than armchair experts dreaming it up?

We already have batteries for under $1/kwhr and have for more than 10 yrs yet they haven't been deployed. Why?

  Fact is no market because the utilities already handle massively changing demand and have for over 100 yrs and that in reality is the same as intermitant supply, both handled the same way rather easily.

The only extra cost was running enough equipment to handle expected surges but the changed with throttlable Gas turbines and retrofit kits for older ones.

That plus demand like controlling when EV charger charge, etc solves 99.9% of grid needs. Fact is you can't build enough capacity to make a real difference due to volume of power used.

Get a sub to Pennenergy newsletters of your choice is the actual utility experts info and utility people running the plants instead of those who talk about things they no little. 

  

Geoff Thomas
User Rank
Iron
Re: Yet another infrastructure problem?
Geoff Thomas   4/26/2012 9:44:35 PM
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In regard to Pumped Hydro, in situations where there is constant river flow with spare energy it is agreat idea, but where the energy is all coming from the renewable source just to be stored, efficiencies can be a bit low, - the Pump will not be much beter than 80% and the Generator also, particularly adding pipe losses etc. so suddenly the cost of the renewable energy jumps alarmingly due to the wastage.

With Batteries, particularly lead acid, - preferably Tubular Positive plates, efficiency of 98% and large Inverter efficiencies also of 98% are achievable so most of your power is still there.  Cheers,  Geoff Thomas.

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