Author Topic: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.  (Read 14837 times)

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Offline zapta

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Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #25 on: August 18, 2015, 02:15:36 pm »
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.
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Offline Delta

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Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #26 on: August 18, 2015, 06:46:08 pm »
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

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Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #27 on: August 18, 2015, 06:55:39 pm »
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, 07:01:04 pm by tom66 »
 

Offline rs20

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Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #28 on: August 18, 2015, 07:08:24 pm »
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

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Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #29 on: August 18, 2015, 08:54:07 pm »
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

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Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #30 on: August 18, 2015, 09:11:54 pm »
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

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Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #31 on: August 18, 2015, 09:24:29 pm »
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.
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Online dr.diesel

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Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #32 on: August 18, 2015, 09:33:45 pm »
I'm not gonna enter the debate, but if anyone has coal generation specific technical questions relating to this I can help.

Offline rs20

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Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #33 on: August 18, 2015, 09:54:44 pm »
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.)
 

Online dr.diesel

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Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #34 on: August 18, 2015, 10:30:09 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

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Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #35 on: August 18, 2015, 10:43:34 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

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Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #36 on: August 19, 2015, 01:35:38 am »
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 19, 2015, 01:37:09 am by tom66 »
 

Offline hamster_nz

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Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #37 on: August 19, 2015, 07:02:47 am »

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
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