Author Topic: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.  (Read 15947 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Dave

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 1274
  • Country: si
  • I like to measure things.
Kickstarter campaign

From what I understand, you pay 50 bucks to get some sort of adapter, that... uhm... has an illuminated sign? :-//

But seriously, what? ???
<fellbuendel> it's arduino, you're not supposed to know anything about what you're doing
<fellbuendel> if you knew, you wouldn't be using it
 

Offline FrankBuss

  • Supporter
  • ****
  • Posts: 2334
  • Country: de
    • Frank Buss
Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2015, 12:14:45 am »
Kickstarter campaign

From what I understand, you pay 50 bucks to get some sort of adapter, that... uhm... has an illuminated sign? :-//

But seriously, what? ???
Discussed here. I think it is a energy meter with bluetooth, but you are right, the description is not very accurate what you exactly get, other than that you have to pay twice for your energy.
So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish
Electronics, hiking, retro-computing, electronic music etc.: https://www.youtube.com/c/FrankBussProgrammer
 

Offline meeder

  • Regular Contributor
  • *
  • Posts: 219
  • Country: nl
Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #2 on: August 12, 2015, 09:31:28 am »
It basically enables people to buy a clean conscience...


 

Offline EEVblog

  • Administrator
  • *****
  • Posts: 32169
  • Country: au
    • EEVblog
Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #3 on: August 12, 2015, 10:01:37 am »
Yes, it's not very clear how it actually works.
Obviously it logs the energy used and then you pay for it with buying solar credits through some third party company or scheme. They don't tell you any details on that, they make it out to be just magic.
So it's not a scam, it's just a way to track your energy usage so you can "offset" that use by paying. Like "carbon credit" to offset your airline flight etc.
In Australia you can buy renewable solar/wind energy as part of your bill, just a few cents for KWh surcharge on each bill. This KS allows you to do the same things, but with any product wherever you are.
Meh, neat, but there are easier ways to do it.
 

Offline tom66

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 4153
  • Country: gb
  • Electron Fiddler, FPGA Hacker, Embedded Systems EE
Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #4 on: August 12, 2015, 10:49:50 am »
In countries with "deregulated" (LOL) energy provision you can just switch to a supplier that provides clean energy for everything. In the UK it will cost you about 10% more than the lowest dirty offers, to get 96%+ renewable energy.

Yes, but you're still powered by coal. If the coal power stations went offline, you'd lose your supply.

You probably aren't even offsetting emissions, because as a result of solar and wind construction more fast-reacting less-efficient natural gas plants are necessary to fill in the gaps.

So this product, along with Ecotricity's "green" energy, and Tesla's claim that superchargers are solar powered (lol), is bullshit.
 

Offline tom66

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 4153
  • Country: gb
  • Electron Fiddler, FPGA Hacker, Embedded Systems EE
Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #5 on: August 14, 2015, 12:44:30 pm »
Well, coal provides about 20-30% of the UK's energy needs. We'd certainly notice the absence, that's for sure...

Ecotricity's model among others is to buy as much solar/wind/etc energy as you use, but that's not the same as buying it when you use it (do they use smart meters or ondemand pricing?), and doesn't solve the massive problem with renewables which is that an enormous amount of grid level storage is needed to make them work. Something on the order of 300-500GWh for the UK, which at optimistic $200/kWh Tesla pricing would cost at least $60 bn dollars to implement. 

I am pro-nuclear (using GenIII+ reactors) but natural gas and wind will be needed to compensate for the slow load response of nuclear power.

Tesla superchargers are powered by coal, natural gas and nuclear. They are still cleaner than most diesel or petrol cars when using this supply, but they aren't powered by solar canopies as Mr Musk has claimed. I think someone did the calculation that if a car turned up only every few days then it could be a net contributor. But since there aren't any on-site batteries they are still grid powered.
 

Offline tom66

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 4153
  • Country: gb
  • Electron Fiddler, FPGA Hacker, Embedded Systems EE
Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #6 on: August 16, 2015, 09:48:18 pm »
No, it's not.

Solar generates energy when it's sunny, around 12-3pm is the peak, and this is when most people are at the office and not using much energy at home. When you arrive home at say, 6pm, maybe put the TV on, lights on, oven on etc. the energy usage goes up... but it's DARK... so you aren't getting solar energy. And wind energy is intermittent - so you may or may not be benefiting from that - wind tends to have long-running peaks and troughs so a pure wind household may only have energy for part of the month.

The end result is YES, while your usage is provided by nuclear and renewables overall ("net zero emissions"), the important problem of the mismatch between demand and supply of renewables is not solved and so if the coal plants were to go offline tomorrow, you would lose your supply (even if you were theoretically connected to a separate ecotricity grid using renewables exclusively)

This is why products like the SunPort are bullshit feel-good plugins. Ultimately they don't solve the mismatch problem and while they statistically make it look like the grid is renewable for them this won't happen until massive amounts of grid storage is implemented.

Of course, this does not apply if you configure your peak usage to be around 12-3pm, for example if you work exclusively from home or have a storage battery installed. However I would guess for most people this is not the case and so these net zero tariffs actually delay the implementation of necessary storage to make renewable energy work, which imho should be a priority (although the world's lithium ion battery factories would be at full pelt for 100 years, so we need to look at pumped storage or molten salt storage systems instead.)
 

Offline Deathwish

  • Supporter
  • ****
  • Posts: 1426
  • Country: wales
Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #7 on: August 16, 2015, 09:51:09 pm »
Think I will go design a solar charger, you go sunbathe with a few beers, then later plug yourself into the mains to discharge. :scared:
Electrons are typically male, always looking for any hole to get into.
trying to strangle someone who talks out of their rectal cavity will fail, they can still breath.
God hates North Wales, he has put my home address on the blacklist of all couriers with instructions to divert all parcels.
 

Offline free_electron

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 7569
  • Country: us
    • SiliconValleyGarage
Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #8 on: August 16, 2015, 10:45:42 pm »
so these guys found a perpetual way of free income milking the goody-two-shoes goat-wool-socks movement.

Someone produces solar for free and sends it into the grid. A certificate is created. Sunport buys certificate
Sunport meters your current consumption and 'consumes' said certificate. All for a small markup ..

and i quote : "Choosing to use solar with SunPort is kind of like buying organic food or fair trade coffee. You pay just a little more because you care about where it comes from."

so you pay more for the same electrons. they consume the solar credit for you and charge you for that 'service'.

They ain't getting my money. This is a genius way on their part to make money of the whole thing. It's a caroussel.

Wanna really do something for the environment ? Get solar on your own roof and buy a full electric car.  Nothing will change just cause you have a yellow plug ... you're just giving money to man in the middle. Solar power should be cheaper than regular power ( it is )
Professional Electron Wrangler.
Any comments, or points of view expressed, are my own and not endorsed , induced or compensated by my employer(s).
 

Offline zapta

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 6004
  • Country: us
Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #9 on: August 16, 2015, 11:04:56 pm »
A guy sells a $40 device that when used allows him to collect additional electric use tax. That's ingenious. Beats selling refrigerators to eskimos.
Drain the swamp.
 

Offline tom66

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 4153
  • Country: gb
  • Electron Fiddler, FPGA Hacker, Embedded Systems EE
Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #10 on: August 17, 2015, 10:06:15 am »
There is a lot of renewable/clean energy -- I am not denying this. UK figures from 2014:

Installed capacity of solar = ~5GW (Capacity factor = 0.25)
Installed capacity of wind = ~10GW (Capacity factor = 0.2~0.4)
Installed capacity of nuclear = ~18GW (Capacity factor = 0.99)

Plenty of power *IF* they're all running at high capacity factors. If not, who knows?

Here is the problem. Solar is not available at night. And if wind can't supply the power then you only have nuclear. But that is not a solution as nuclear is slow to respond to changes in load - it only provides a base load. Here is an example of the issue with wind power - the power output is too variable to rely on nuclear alone which can take days to change output levels. (No UK installed nuclear stations have a reliable and repeatable method of dumping excess power into a heatsink - all energy that the turbine generates must go into the grid somehow.)

So, you are powered by natural gas and coal. You might not like this idea, but I will guarantee you this: ecotricity, even if only their customers existed on the grid in their current numbers, could not support the energy demand without fossil fuels, because of the unpredictable or intermittent nature of most types of renewable energy. Your lights would go out on windless nights. Which are not that infrequent.

What ecotricity are saying is that at the end of the month/year whatever they will have pledged to buy at least as much renewable green energy as their customers use. Brilliant! But that is NOT the same as buying the energy when it is used, and only helps to increase the massive mismatch in power usage vs supply (i.o.w. the California "duck curve" - look it up)

The other problem is if ecotricity claim to only rely on nonrenewable nuclear power when renewables are running low, then this will not be available in the next 5-10 years (UK gov't plans only one functional reactor by 2023) and they will have to invest in grid storage technology to continue to claim to be clean. This is a fundamental problem with renewables, it's quite easy to solve, just really expensive and no-one seems to want to do it because people like yourself are quite happy to buy into the green dream, when it's anything but.
« Last Edit: August 17, 2015, 10:08:53 am by tom66 »
 

Offline Delta

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 1225
  • Country: gb
Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #11 on: August 17, 2015, 11:00:44 am »
Mojo, do you really think that when you switch on your kettle an extra 2kW spurts forth from a windfarm due to the fact that you pay your bill to Ecotricity?
 

Offline Delta

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 1225
  • Country: gb
Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #12 on: August 17, 2015, 11:18:35 am »
This site is good for getting an idea of where exactly our juice is coming from...

http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/
 

Online hamster_nz

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 2352
  • Country: nz
Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #13 on: August 17, 2015, 11:27:50 am »
This site is good for getting an idea of where exactly our juice is coming from...

http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/

Great site - and I also checked out the French one, that wasn't so exciting when > 96% is nuclear -   http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/france/
Gaze not into the abyss, lest you become recognized as an abyss domain expert, and they expect you keep gazing into the damn thing.
 

Offline EEVblog

  • Administrator
  • *****
  • Posts: 32169
  • Country: au
    • EEVblog
Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #14 on: August 17, 2015, 12:01:53 pm »
Someone produces solar for free and sends it into the grid. A certificate is created. Sunport buys certificate
Sunport meters your current consumption and 'consumes' said certificate. All for a small markup ..
so you pay more for the same electrons. they consume the solar credit for you and charge you for that 'service'.
Wanna really do something for the environment ? Get solar on your own roof and buy a full electric car.  Nothing will change just cause you have a yellow plug ... you're just giving money to man in the middle. Solar power should be cheaper than regular power ( it is )

That's not how it works on the renewable energy schemes in Australia.
When you pay an extra (optional) "green energy" charge on your bill you are forcing the provider to get the energy you use from large scale renewable source infrastructure.
The more people that take up that option the more renewable energy has to be created to match the demand. If there is no longer any capacity left then they have to build new renewable energy plants to provide it.
Thus it's a way for the public to demand and influence the creation of more renewable infrastructure, just by voting with their wallet.
I'd be surprised if that's not how it works in the US as well?

Personal rooftop solar is a great idea, but it's not the only nor the best solution for the large scale needs.
 

Offline rs20

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 2198
  • Country: au
Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #15 on: August 17, 2015, 12:10:51 pm »
Great site - and I also checked out the French one, that wasn't so exciting when > 96% is nuclear -   http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/france/

That's actually >96% of local demand -- looks like they're exporting a good >20% of their electricity to neighbouring countries. To quote wikipedia, "France was the leader in the export of electricity in 2008: 48 TWh followed by Paraguay 46 TWh and Canada 32 TWh."
 

Offline zapta

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 6004
  • Country: us
Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #16 on: August 17, 2015, 02:21:04 pm »
When you pay an extra (optional) "green energy" charge on your bill you are forcing the provider to get the energy you use from large scale renewable source infrastructure.

'forcing'?  Is this a government mandated scheme or an extra service that they choose to provide?
Drain the swamp.
 

Offline tom66

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 4153
  • Country: gb
  • Electron Fiddler, FPGA Hacker, Embedded Systems EE
Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #17 on: August 17, 2015, 02:24:58 pm »
Yes - those other sources do produce energy - but ~20TWh (excluding solar/wind) is really quite little. For example your average coal power plant produces 2GW roughly continuously, which over a year would be around 20TWh. So all of those sources have the output of maybe one coal plant. Not to mention the continuous types of renewable energy usually involve burning material, which is carbon intensive. Yes it's renewable and neutral over such a short timescale but it still pollutes the local environment which would be nice to avoid.

Mojo, do you really think that when you switch on your kettle an extra 2kW spurts forth from a windfarm due to the fact that you pay your bill to Ecotricity?
[...] Do you really think that when you turn your kettle on a block starts shovelling some extra coal into the furnace to compensate?

Well that's a straw man if I ever heard one, but it's not far off the truth. The coal power plant will increase the output somewhat under increased demand, mostly by modulating the amount of steam injected into the turbines or the amount of coal burnt. Coal is typically pulverised into a fine dust and fired into the boilers. The amount of coal dust can be varied as required for demand. However the changes will be pretty minimal (2kW/2GW = 1ppm)  but over a large scale the output produced by a power plant will indeed track demand (unlike renewables where output generally tracks supply, as available, only becoming demand limited occasionally.)

You seem to fail to understand this: clean and green renewables *cannot* work without grid storage. Ecotricity's method is just a way of making people feel good. Depending on how the natural gas plants and coal plants are cycled to meet demand it could in fact increase emissions because it forces base load plants to frequently cycle and run at less than ideal efficiency.

Please note I have no opposition to correctly integrating renewables in the grid, I have just reached the conclusion from evidence seen that they will not work without grid storage and that is where investments should be focused.

The French are going off nuclear power. They realized that it's basically welfare for their energy companies, far too expensive: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/france-loses-enthusiasm-for-nuclear-power/

Nuclear is so expensive because of all of the NIMBYs and over-regulation of the industry. Nuclear power is safer than coal yet it seems that EDF is gunning to replace nuclear with coal. In my mind that gets a big thumbs down.
 

Offline zapta

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 6004
  • Country: us
Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #18 on: August 17, 2015, 02:59:26 pm »
Mojo, do you really think that when you switch on your kettle an extra 2kW spurts forth from a windfarm due to the fact that you pay your bill to Ecotricity?

Delta, do you really think that when you turn your kettle on a block starts shovelling some extra coal into the furnace to compensate?

Is your ratio of coal and 'green' energy different from a neighbor of yours that doesn't pay the extra fee?

It's ok to support 'green' energy with your own money. However, claiming that your house gets a different percentage of 'green' energy than your non paying neighbors is stretch.
Drain the swamp.
 

Offline EEVblog

  • Administrator
  • *****
  • Posts: 32169
  • Country: au
    • EEVblog
Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #19 on: August 17, 2015, 03:02:36 pm »
'forcing'?  Is this a government mandated scheme or an extra service that they choose to provide?

Yes, it is government program, and government audited.
http://www.greenpower.gov.au/
 

Offline zapta

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 6004
  • Country: us
Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #20 on: August 17, 2015, 03:15:48 pm »
'forcing'?  Is this a government mandated scheme or an extra service that they choose to provide?

Yes, it is government program, and government audited.
http://www.greenpower.gov.au/

I looked at the annual report. It seems that the program is not mandatory:

Quote
Since the 2012 Settlement Period the following changes occurred to GreenPower Providers and their
GreenPower Products:
? Horizon withdrew its GreenPower Product and left the GreenPower program;
? Pangolin withdrew its GreenPower Product and left the GreenPower program;
? QEnergy joined the GreenPower program and introduced its QGreen product; and
? Origin Energy withdrew the following GreenPower products: Business Green, EcoPower,
EcoSaver, Earth’s Choice and INgreen.

Drain the swamp.
 

Offline zapta

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 6004
  • Country: us
Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #21 on: August 17, 2015, 05:07:18 pm »
And that's what matters, since that's where the damage is done.

Not, it's not. You cause a 'damage' at your local coal station, just like your neighbor, and paying to a remote 'green' station doesn't change the 'damage' you consumption causes.

I understand the accounting model but your home is not 'greener' than your non paying neighbor. No need to pretend.

Drain the swamp.
 

Offline tom66

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 4153
  • Country: gb
  • Electron Fiddler, FPGA Hacker, Embedded Systems EE
Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #22 on: August 17, 2015, 05:58:08 pm »
How much of Ecotricity's customer base does it cover? I assume you know, since you seem to be sure that it isn't enough.

According to previous information you have provided, 4% of your power is from nuclear (presumably 96% then comes from renewable sources.) If Ecotricity works in the way described above then 100% of your power would be from purely renewable sources - they wouldn't need that 4%.

In other words, Ecotricity can't support their current customer base even via this net zero style policy. However please note that energy in = energy out is not the only important factor here. When is the energy made available, vs when is it used, is far more important. If Ecotricity's suppliers primarily contribute during 12-3pm say, for solar, or during the peak months of the year for wind, then they could make up any shortfall on those days, when the energy is "least useful". I wonder how power sources work out on an hour-by-hour basis.

I see, so it's kind of like how win turbines can alter the angle of their blades or engage a brake when more or less energy is required. Or like how hydro plants can release more or less water, or use overflows to modulate their output. Or how renewable waste burning (which is CO2 neutral, and has capture for other particulate matter) can do almost exactly what coal plants do.

They can do this but the majority of wind turbines are simply stopped because the grid cannot take the energy they produce.  "Brilliant!" you exclaim. "They contribute so much that National Grid plc has to turn them off!"

Never mind it's a lot more complicated than just the net contribution. If they're contributing tons of wind energy at midnight, they're about as useful as a chocolate teapot, as most night-time energy is supplied by nuclear. This is unlikely to change for the next ~10 years.

The major issue is really how to shift renewable energy - which is really great if we can use it - to the time period in which it's most useful.

I have several friends in the oil and gas industry. They are scientists and engineers and fully understand AGW and its potential consequences. They also believe carbon capture systems to be misguided, and extremely costly to implement. There is no such thing as clean coal. And you can't burn waste matter and capture the CO2 without somewhere to store the CO2. In the current natural  gas situation the plan is to pump CO2 back into the wells. This is considered extremely expensive to implement and so is not practiced on a wide scale.  Where would the CO2 go from your proposal? Keep in mind, CO2 has more effects than on the environment. Releasing it in high quantities near populated areas should be avoided.

Untrue in the absolute sense, but in this case irrelevant. When there is no enough renewable generation, Ecotricity buys nuclear power instead. About 4% of the time, when I last checked. They never buy coal. Coal is only needed to support other people, Ecotricity customers would do fine without out (well, not in practice because everyone would be buying renewable energy, but in the current market...)

They, as a provider may not buy coal. You indirectly use coal. Your usage, switching on a kettle, will somewhere cause slightly more CO2 emissions.
Regardless of where you buy your energy from.

I hear this claim a lot but it's obvious bullshit. NIMBYs have utterly failed to prevent dirty coal, fracking, mining, wind farms, solar farms, new housing, new industrial development, new roads, HS2 and other bad things happening near them. Yet somehow the poor little nuclear industry is powerless to resist them, and forced to live on government hand-outs because of the crippling costs of lawsuits. It's obvious nonsense. The biggest costs are operational, dealing with waste and decommissioning, and insurance which is literally priceless.

I won't  claim to be an expert on nuclear power. However, I know a few things about it:

- The cost of nuclear power is increasing due to regulations yearly after Fukushima, yet no one died due to the plant meltdown. The plant was poorly designed, and unable to cope with a natural disaster, although it's worth noting the earthquake that struck Japan was a one-in-a-thousand years type earthquake; one of that magnitude and in that location was not anticipated.

- Almost everything used within a nuclear power plant must be processed as at least "low level waste" which is excessive, this includes things like stationary and clothing, whether or not it has been exposed.

- Nuclear power has killed, in total, under 1,000 people directly and negligible numbers due to radiation leakage, yet coal power kills over 7,000 people per year in the US alone due to lung cancer and other respiratory illnesses; the concern comes from large-scale risk vs repeatedly small-scale risk

- It is in my opinion the only large-scale low carbon energy source we presently have, and can utilise for many years to come. Wind and solar won't work unless we have something on the order of 3-5x oversupply plus grid storage.

- If an area rejects nuclear then coal WILL be built instead and nuclear is, in my opinion, the lesser of two evils.
« Last Edit: August 17, 2015, 06:01:29 pm by tom66 »
 

Offline Mechanical Menace

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 1293
  • Country: gb
Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #23 on: August 17, 2015, 06:18:42 pm »
There is a lot of renewable/clean energy -- I am not denying this. UK figures from 2014:

Installed capacity of solar = ~5GW (Capacity factor = 0.25)
Installed capacity of wind = ~10GW (Capacity factor = 0.2~0.4)
Installed capacity of nuclear = ~18GW (Capacity factor = 0.99)

There's quite a bit of hydro too. 1.8% of capacity. Me going through a supplier who only sources from renewables and nuclear may not solve the problem but it does encourage wider adoption. But tbh electricity production is nothing compared to transport for polluting so that's where the focus should probably be. I'm sure moving some freight off of the roads and onto trains again would help immensely but meh, will never happen.
Second sexiest ugly bloke on the forum.
"Don't believe every quote you read on the internet, because I totally didn't say that."
~Albert Einstein
 

Offline tom66

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 4153
  • Country: gb
  • Electron Fiddler, FPGA Hacker, Embedded Systems EE
Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #24 on: August 17, 2015, 07:56:33 pm »
NIMBYs have irrecoverably damaged the reputation of nuclear: there is too much fear and regulation behind the industry. It is virtually impossible to build new nuclear - you only need to look at current news articles regarding the new plant EDF "Hinkley C". And they include large organisations like Greenpeace who are strongly anti-nuclear, yet they do not propose a solution for the storage problem (which involves storing around 300-500GWh of energy assuming repeatable solar and wind; realistically around ten times that to provide a sufficient margin to guarantee 99.9% availability, for the UK *alone*.) I only consider nuclear to be a stop gap. I think fusion will be the future if it's shown to be practical, but if not solar and wind will be significant contributors but we MUST have installed grid storage to make them work. There is simply no other way!

Your 2kW kettle will use more power from the grid, more energy will be put in (statistically speaking) so it will somewhere produce slightly more CO2. OK, I admit it's not going to be measurable below the noise but say a million ecotricity customers switch on their kettles at the same time - you will see a significant change in grid demand which will primarily be reflected in the load on coal and natural gas plants.

It's interesting you mention that Ecotricity apparently buy energy on a 15 minute window. Ecotricity do not currently use smart meters (https://www.ecotricity.co.uk/customer-service/give-us-a-meter-reading/meter-reading-agents) and rely on monthly or quarterly meter readings. How do they know when their customers use energy? They are simply a reseller. If you bought your energy from, say, EDF instead, then EDF would be obliged to purchase or contribute at least as much energy into the grid as you use - exactly what Ecotricity do, except they promise to only buy green energy.

If they contributed energy as and when you use it, a lot of my gripes towards them would go away, as that would demonstrate they have storage capacity. Maybe you have a smart meter with Ecotricity - perhaps on a pilot program? In which case wonderful, presuming they use the data on a 15 minute window as you suggest, and not instead simply to make it cheaper to collect readings...
« Last Edit: August 17, 2015, 07:58:14 pm by tom66 »
 

Offline zapta

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 6004
  • Country: us
Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #25 on: August 18, 2015, 04:15:36 am »
Your 2kW kettle will use more power from the grid, more energy will be put in (statistically speaking) so it will somewhere produce slightly more CO2.

It will cause the exact same CO2 emission at the local power station as the kettle of Mojo Chan's neighbor that didn't pay the extra 'green' fee.  Nothing more, nothing less.
Drain the swamp.
 

Offline Delta

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 1225
  • Country: gb
Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #26 on: August 18, 2015, 08:46:08 am »
Mojo, wind and solar run flat out pretty much all the time.  Turbines and panels are expensive, wind and sun are free, so they will sell into the grid at any price.  (nuclear is similar too)  Hydro is modulated to some degree, but increases in demand are generally met by fossil fuel power stations.  When you and your bearded freinds turn on your kettles, Ecotricity don't suddenly pitch the blades on a wind turbine - the blades will already be at full pitch!

You have shown both your ignorance and arrogance as to how the UK grid functions, especially with your flippant comment about "a bloke shovelling more coal", which was actually far closer to the reality of how the grid tracks demand than your pompous mind will allow you to understand.
 

Offline tom66

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 4153
  • Country: gb
  • Electron Fiddler, FPGA Hacker, Embedded Systems EE
Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #27 on: August 18, 2015, 08:55:39 am »
NIMBYs have irrecoverably damaged the reputation of nuclear: there is too much fear and regulation behind the industry.

More so than videos of people lighting their tap water on fire? Are you seriously saying that NIMBYs have been more effective against nuclear than, say, fracking?

The anger over fracking is also misplaced (it can be safe - I'm not a fan because it makes us dependent on cheap natural gas but it seems better than giving OPEC too much control), I'd say they both have their influences but nuclear has been more of a historical movement (CND for example) and despite the safety of nuclear technology improving in each generation they use the same old arguments, it's really getting tiring.

You have not read Greenpeace's manifesto on energy, have you?

In any case, that's not why no-one will build new nuclear. They wont built it because it isn't economically viable. The one new plant we are getting in the UK is insanely expensive. They only agreed to to build it after the government promised to force everyone to pay way over the going rate for it's energy, for the lifetime of the plant, plus the usual massive subsidies on top. Even back in the 1980s when the plants that had been built with government money were sold off to the private sector no-one was interested.

I suppose you will say that the costs are due to regulation... Well, yeah, doing it safely costs money. Considering the hundreds of billions of pounds that Japan is spending to fix its nuclear mess, high safety standards seem like a good idea. Having said that, UK nuclear safety is pretty poor. Open ponds full of high level waste, being carried off by birds, for example.

Nuclear is expensive - I'm not going to deny that. But coal is expensive if you make coal power plants pay for the damage caused to the environment either via carbon tax or other methods. Wind and solar is expensive if you require providers to install storage batteries or molten salt storage systems. Unfortunately, energy is just likely to get more expensive year on year. Just look at how expensive it is in California with all the solar subsidies. I think the era of cheap energy is gone, at least until fusion is no longer a pipe dream.

I do believe that nuclear is over-regulated given the risk is relatively low. In that way it is like a jet airliner. If it goes wrong, generally it is really bad. And what if the unthinkable happens - an airliner plows into a large building (either via terrorist action or not?) You can't really insure against that. We as humans tend to look at low probability high risk failures as being somehow worse than high probability low risk failures - even if the net result is the same - or in the case of coal, much, much worse.

Quote
Your 2kW kettle will use more power from the grid, more energy will be put in (statistically speaking) so it will somewhere produce slightly more CO2. OK, I admit it's not going to be measurable below the noise but say a million ecotricity customers switch on their kettles at the same time - you will see a significant change in grid demand which will primarily be reflected in the load on coal and natural gas plants.

Oh, the energy can come from renewables. There might be a wind turbine somewhere that is contributing to the supply, or a solar system.

The problem is, whether or not you have an ecotricity account this makes no difference AT ALL to whether your electricity comes from wind turbines / solar / a greenpeace activists' farts. All ecotricity promise is they will make up your usage X on the whole by the end of the quarter by buying in or selling at least X renewable energy into the grid. That is NOT the same as providing energy when it is needed. They could be selling tons of solar into the grid at the 12pm-3pm period when it is LEAST NEEDED and still meet their obligations. There is NO requirement for them to offset your ACTUAL usage during the peak times of 7am-9am or 5pm-10pm. This is the problem! I don't understand why you can't see this?

Quote
They have to provide a proportion of UK load based on the size and composition of their customer base.

[Citation needed]. Nat Grid plc is responsible for demand level management on a day-to-day basis - not Ecotricity. Energy suppliers (I mean ACTUAL suppliers - not resellers) like EDF and Centrica will make the most money selling energy into the grid during periods of high demand. They can operate their plants at the highest efficiency, lowest overhead, and the spot price is highest. This is market competition.

Whereas Ecotricity will sell into the grid as and when energy is available, buying nuclear to cover their obligations as needed. Since renewable energy has very little overhead cost (solar = install it and wait for the bux, wind = occasional maintenance only required) it is most economical for them to sell into the grid as and when it is available.

Here is the problem. If they begin selling tons of solar energy into the grid during the 12pm to 3pm period when most people are at work and energy usage is at a low, this will create an oversupply problem. To compensate, Nat Grid plc will do one of two things; It will either tell the renewable suppliers to "knock it off"* (that's when you see stalled turbines in heavy wind) or it will tell some of the conventional power plants to shut down or run at reduced capacity. If they shut down a plant, then it later has to start up again, and possibly at a lower load. This is less efficient and it increases emissions because the plants are not run at the optimal thermodynamic point. It also increases the cost of providing energy even in a subsidy free environment so prices will naturally rise and the Daily Mail gets its feathers in a right ruffle.

Instead, if renewable energy companies were required to distribute their supply over a larger period - either using storage batteries or other methods - this wouldn't be an issue. It would be easy for conventional power plants to know how supply is going to vary and they could plan their usage to reduce costs and emissions. Remember, they are taxed on emissions and they have fixed overheads that they must pay to operate a plant - staff, equipment, etc. At the same time, it would be one step closer to making renewables more practical. That being said, the amount of storage required really is quite enormous, so I have misgivings about a purely renewable driven grid without at least some base load (preferably nuclear, but if it's not nuclear then closed-cycle natural gas plants.)

(*) In the case of home solar there's bupkis they can do here as solar on rooftops represents a drop in demand rather than increase in supply due to the lack of direct metering.
 
« Last Edit: August 18, 2015, 09:01:04 am by tom66 »
 

Offline rs20

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 2198
  • Country: au
Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #28 on: August 18, 2015, 09:08:24 am »
The part I don't get is this: suppose hypothetically that 5% of electricity was from renewable sources before Ecotricity came along, and that now 4% of electricity sold is consumed via the SunPort with Ecotricity renewable credits or whatever. So we have:
-- Before Ecotricity: 5% of UK power is renewable, 95% isn't
-- After Ecotricity: 5% of UK power is renewable, 95% isn't

The only difference being that the people who aren't on an Ecotricity plan are "getting" 99% instead of 95% non-renewable energy, perfectly cancelling out the "good work" of the Ecotricity customers. Now obviously I just made these numbers up, but in the scenario I just described the renewable certificates/credits would be very cheap, since there's a supply of 5% of UK's market, and a demand of 4% of UK's market. And that seems to correspond to the cheapness of the credits that Sunport touts.

My point is, there's a very subtle line between a) Ecotricity being akin to just getting your name pointlessly printed next to a pre-existing wind farm, and x% of the population arbitrarily claiming that they are responsible for x% of the UK electricty being renewable, even if the construction of all the wind farms etc came before their involvement with Ecotricity vs b) Ecotricity actually creating an environment where usage of renewable power sources is increased, rather than just re-labelled as "these wind-powered kilojoules are dedicated to person X, not person Y". And it seems that one way to tell the difference is to look at how much more expensive Ecotricity electricity is?

I confess I'm ignorant as to the current state of affairs in the UK, which is obvious due to all the hypothetical numbers above, so please do fill me in. However, I think it's self-evident that you can at least contrive an energy market which is just saturated with green energy credits where buying energy credits achieves absolutely nothing, so asserting that buying energy credits is self-evidently useful is wrong? We need some economics theory; numbers on the price elasticity supply (or something) of carbon credits to elucidate how the purchase of a carbon credit actually affects the amount of renewable generation happening? Otherwise, saying "I bought energy credits so I can feel guilt-free about using power" is like saying "I buried the nuclear waste in my neighbour's lawn, so I can feel guilt-free about generating nuclear waste".
 

Offline tom66

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 4153
  • Country: gb
  • Electron Fiddler, FPGA Hacker, Embedded Systems EE
Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #29 on: August 18, 2015, 10:54:07 am »
When you and your bearded freinds

Really, that is how you want to make your argument? Drop the ad-hominem attacks and I might consider replying.

I found the comment funny. I consider myself pro-environment and I had a beard until I decided it looked rather silly. It's a stereotype. Chill out.

Like this: All users of fossil fuels billow smoke out of their "rolling coal" diesel trucks and like to club baby seals in their spare time.
 

Offline EEVblog

  • Administrator
  • *****
  • Posts: 32169
  • Country: au
    • EEVblog
Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #30 on: August 18, 2015, 11:11:54 am »
Yes, it is government program, and government audited.
http://www.greenpower.gov.au/

I looked at the annual report. It seems that the program is not mandatory:
Quote

Correct, it has never been mandatory AFAIK. But those who chose to follow it so as to offer green power products to customers must follow the rules.
 

Offline zapta

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 6004
  • Country: us
Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #31 on: August 18, 2015, 11:24:29 am »
When you and your bearded freinds

Really, that is how you want to make your argument? Drop the ad-hominem attacks and I might consider replying.

Personal attack?  Having friends is not a bad thing.
Drain the swamp.
 

Offline dr.diesel

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 2197
  • Country: us
  • Cramming the magic smoke back in...
Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #32 on: August 18, 2015, 11:33:45 am »
I'm not gonna enter the debate, but if anyone has coal generation specific technical questions relating to this I can help.

Offline rs20

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 2198
  • Country: au
Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #33 on: August 18, 2015, 11:54:44 am »
I'm not gonna enter the debate, but if anyone has coal generation specific technical questions relating to this I can help.
For a "typical" (yes, I know) coal generation power plant running at full capacity, what's the rough breakdown of costs between coal vs other things, like maintenance, salaries, depreciation, etc? I'm trying to get a sense of the extent to which a coal power plant is an elastic supplier of electricity (i.e., no matter how much or how little power you take, it's the same price per kWh -- contrasts with very inelastic wind and solar, where no matter how much you pay, you get the amount of power that's coming out of the solar panels and that's that.)
 

Offline dr.diesel

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 2197
  • Country: us
  • Cramming the magic smoke back in...
Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #34 on: August 18, 2015, 12:30:09 pm »
For a "typical" (yes, I know) coal generation power plant running at full capacity, what's the rough breakdown of costs between coal vs other things, like maintenance, salaries, depreciation, etc? I'm trying to get a sense of the extent to which a coal power plant is an elastic supplier of electricity (i.e., no matter how much or how little power you take, it's the same price per kWh -- contrasts with very inelastic wind and solar, where no matter how much you pay, you get the amount of power that's coming out of the solar panels and that's that.)

A really tough question!  In the states it's not that typical, in the midwest I pay about $0.095/kWh, on the west coast it might be 3x that.  The generation contract are similar, with some states being regulated and other not, but here is what I can say.

Coal generation can be had for around ~$25/MW (this varies based on current coal contracts, location etc), that's actual cost including fuel, overhead, salaries, maintenance etc.  Behind the scenes the actual generation pricing varies by the minute, and things such as current grid stability, grid congestion (yes there is already significant congestion), load demand and weather conditions etc.  I've seen grid pricing change from $15/MW to over $3000 in less than 5 minutes when big units trip off.

Typical coal plants can only adjust their generation by a couple MWs a min, and can only operate in a specific window.  For example, a 500MW unit can ramp from about 300 to 500.  From within this range there are also tier limits that require specific human support, like adding/removing coal feeders/pulverizers, so it's not 100% automagic.  This ramping up/down is very hard on the mechanical side, the boiler actually grows 2-3' from cold to hot!

Almost all Nuclear plants are what's called base loaded, they pretty much run at the same output 24-7.  The by minute/hour/etc make up to maintain grid frequency/voltage is done with coal and natural gas plants.  And even diesel generators on rare occasion!




Offline Delta

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 1225
  • Country: gb
Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #35 on: August 18, 2015, 12:43:34 pm »
Mo, may I recommend that you and your bearded (and of course clean-shaven) friends have a peruse of this excellent publication.

http://www.withouthotair.com/
 

Offline tom66

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 4153
  • Country: gb
  • Electron Fiddler, FPGA Hacker, Embedded Systems EE
Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #36 on: August 18, 2015, 03:35:38 pm »
That is a great resource. As I said I have no problem with the integration of renewables into the grid but you will see the amount of storage required is very large and this is my primary concern. At what cost will the storage come and will it be implemented by any renewable provider? Most renewables rely on fossil fuel power to keep the grid stable as only a few concentrated solar thermal plants and hydro installations actually implement storage. I would love to see a renewables driven grid, but I have my doubts that it is currently possible. Suggestions like suspending EV charging are great but would require widespread adoption of EVs, which is likely to happen but will take many years for market saturation to be reached.   I WANT to BELIEVE that we will have a renewable grid as it's the first step in conquering our energy limited planet - but I need convincing evidence first.

Anyway, with regards to Ecotricity and your claims. I still do not understand how this works. Please explain this to me as clearly you have some information about the National Grid that I do not. Ecotricity do not know what you are using at any time X. They can predict it using models (which is how they estimate your bill, your usage is likely to be slightly higher in winter vs summer, etc.) but they cannot know when you use your energy. The National Grid is wholly responsible for managing minute-by-minute demand and this is primarily stabilised by spinning reserve and existing grid storage (Dinorwig, etc.)  So how do Ecotricity guarantee that you will, 96% of the time,  be getting cleaner energy? They can't do it! Their claim is based on net results per quarter - which is all good and well - but it's not the same as removing that much CO2e/kWh from the grid at any one time.   

The National Grid is only involved in transmission and supply management. It is up to suppliers to purchase energy contracts as required to supply their customers' needs. They only act as a market in this case. They are not as involved as you claim for any other company I am aware of.

Expensive - I heard someone talking about £0.25/kWh to £0.35/kWh to make nuclear profitable which is very expensive, and probably the biggest negative going for the technology. As for the insurance angle; I am not involved in the business so don't know for sure how this works but it might be similar to rocketry insurance. Because the risk of a rocket striking a populated area and causing catastrophic damages, whilst small, would be an enormous cost and too large for an insurer to bear, the US Government insures all launches up to an unlimited amount. However the first part of the claim must be covered by a private insurer. (It's up to $100mn, IIRC.)

As for your peak time claim for (UK) residential customers the peaks are around 7-9am and 5-10pm. Residential is what I'm concerned about for now as Ecotricity is primarily a residential supplier. From a business point of view solar panels are very sensible as they can offset the usage of a business during working hours.
« Last Edit: August 18, 2015, 03:37:09 pm by tom66 »
 

Online hamster_nz

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 2352
  • Country: nz
Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #37 on: August 18, 2015, 09:02:47 pm »

For a "typical" (yes, I know) coal generation power plant running at full capacity, what's the rough breakdown of costs between coal vs other things, like maintenance, salaries, depreciation, etc? I'm trying to get a sense of the extent to which a coal power plant is an elastic supplier of electricity (i.e., no matter how much or how little power you take, it's the same price per kWh -- contrasts with very inelastic wind and solar, where no matter how much you pay, you get the amount of power that's coming out of the solar panels and that's that.)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cost_of_electricity_by_source
Gaze not into the abyss, lest you become recognized as an abyss domain expert, and they expect you keep gazing into the damn thing.
 


Share me

Digg  Facebook  SlashDot  Delicious  Technorati  Twitter  Google  Yahoo
Smf