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506 comments

First fucking post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#32961360)

Fuck yeah!

Store in a water tower (5, Insightful)

retro83 (1224258) | more than 2 years ago | (#32961390)

Why not use the energy during these peaks to pump water up to the top of a tower, then gradually release it as required. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pumped-storage_hydroelectricity [wikipedia.org]

Re:Store in a water tower (5, Interesting)

thijsh (910751) | more than 2 years ago | (#32961456)

Towers won't work, you need a lake to be able to store a capacity you can actually use. Dutch wind energy is currently being stored in Norwegian lakes (because here it's flat, and they have mountain lakes). Apparently the advantage was worth laying the worlds longest underwater power line between nations.

But taking this idea a step further for local power generation: Why convert to electricity in the first place? If you pump water to a higher place you might as well let the windmills pump it directly (that's why the Dutch invented them after all), you have an immediate buffer in the lake so you can never pump too hard, and the hydroelectric generators can be throttled easily. You have the benefits of a buffer and a higher efficiency, as well as a more simple design (no high-tech generators needed in every windmill). Damn great idea, if I say it myself... Must be because I'm Dutch. :-)

Re:Store in a water tower (4, Funny)

Councilor Hart (673770) | more than 2 years ago | (#32961514)

You want to pump water over what kind of distances? From holland to norway?

Re:Store in a water tower (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#32961530)

No, the windmills generate electricity which is then used in Norway to fill the lakes as means of storage. When more power is required, this water is then used to generate electricity when it is required. The water is just a storage device. We don't actually pump water to norway :P

Re:Store in a water tower (2, Interesting)

Framboise (521772) | more than 2 years ago | (#32961570)

The efficiency of such a system is low.

See my other post on local energy storage with hydrogen
which reaches 98% efficiency.

Re:Store in a water tower (3, Interesting)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 2 years ago | (#32961622)

That's only true for the electrical efficiency.

The political efficiency of losing 90% of your generated power (probably 150% if you count the construction cost amortized over 20 years) in a way that is called "green" by journalists who don't realize that there is anything behind the power socket ...

The self-masturbatory potential is off the scale ...

(and of course, once everything's factored in, this actually hurts the environment. Not that the dutch have anything remotely resembling a natural environment left. In reality the dutch destroyed the entirety of the original dutch environment several centuries ago, because they wanted to cure malaria by destroying all dutch swamps (holland would normally be a country of swamps and sand banks). In addition they made massive stretches of land areable and inhabitable by doing this. It worked. And it was probably the best public health policy ever, and one of the few doublings of a country's territory that did not involve killing one's neighbors)

Re:Store in a water tower (5, Interesting)

thijsh (910751) | more than 2 years ago | (#32961728)

I think journalists are slowly becoming aware that for something to be green there is more to it than people telling them it's green... They love a scoop, and an article about 150% loss of the power, which basically makes it an exercise in futility would be a good thing for them..

And the natural environment we had here centuries ago was already fast-changing, the rivers and sea shaped the land constantly. It was not an environment you could live in comfortably, and there weren't any old forests. Human involvement first started by keeping land the way it was, and later adding more land to it. I'd hardly call this 'destroyed', but the original nature is indeed severely reduced and most is shaped into something useful.

As they say: "God created the earth, but the Dutch created the Netherlands" :)

Re:Store in a water tower (1)

Ol Biscuitbarrel (1859702) | more than 2 years ago | (#32962184)

I grew up in the area around the Shepherds Flat Wind Farm [wikipedia.org], which will be the world's largest onshore wind project when completed, and pumped storage would be great to utilize if it weren't bone dry in this area - 15 inches of rain or less per year. The Columbia River is nearby but that's already a series of lakes created by hydro. There really aren't many lakes to utilize in this area, beyond a few manmade reservoirs. Perhaps you could tap into streams coming down out of the Blue Mountains ala the Willow Creek Reservoir, which is behind a shoddy Army Corps of Engineers roller compacted concrete dam; but when you get to projects on that kind of scale it might be cheaper/simpler to just build out HVDC lines. The farmers in the area have already shown they're OK with the turbines themselves. Incidentally my elderly father still has a subscription to the Heppner Gazette-Times, Heppner is the town in the shadow of the Willow Creek Dam. Latest edition had a brief story about some kids taking out local high speed internet service when they were shooting at birds on phone lines and took out a fiber optic line. Cost to renew service? $45k. Puts me in mind of Pulp Fiction and $5 milkshakes. "$5! What, does it have bourbon in it?" Hope birds aren't interested in wind turbines. But I can bet with confidence that someone's already taking potshots at the blades anyway.

Re:Store in a water tower (1)

thijsh (910751) | more than 2 years ago | (#32961584)

I kinda jumped to another idea, more in reference to the situation from the article than my little sidestory. Obviously it would only work in a location where there is a local height difference. But then again I don't know the losses involved with transporting power or water over long distances, there is probably some upper bound for distance but I wouldn't know it. A big water main that is being pressurized by an array of windmills in the sea can pump water over a distance of a hundred miles for example... I'm sure it's possible, but is it efficient? And more precisely is it more efficient than electric power transmission (and pumps). At a distance close to 0 it's obvious the water wins the efficiency test since it lacks the conversion...

Re:Store in a water tower (1, Insightful)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 2 years ago | (#32961968)

Makes me wonder if Europe+Africa could share power with North+South America. You could do it through the water. One conduction path in the south (Africa to South America) and another in the North (Europe to Canada). Maybe run DC through the water. Excess power on either side of the link could be offloaded to a different continent.

Re:Store in a water tower (3, Informative)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 2 years ago | (#32961604)

Dutch wind energy is currently being stored in Norwegian lakes (because here it's flat, and they have mountain lakes). Apparently the advantage was worth laying the worlds longest underwater power line between nations.

With my emphasis on the quote above, I reckon that if the Oregon->California electrical lines would be of the same quality, then we wouldn't see TFA on /., would we?

But taking this idea a step further for local power generation: Why convert to electricity in the first place? If you pump water to a higher place [etc.]

Now, as a Dutch you should now that the Dutch windmills were used initially to pump water out, not to generate the electricity.
Where is this relevant? If your main purpose is to generate electricity, then each step of transforming energy in different forms will cost you at the bottom line (efficiency goes down). I'm not saying that transforming wind (kinetic) energy in water accumulation (potential energy) is stupid if you have excess of wind energy But if you don't have excess, then direct transformation into electric energy will offer you the best return.

Re:Store in a water tower (5, Informative)

thijsh (910751) | more than 2 years ago | (#32961674)

Pumping water with wind energy insures you can use wind energy as a baseline power supply (although it's actually hydro energy that achieves it). You lose some efficiency in raw power output, but since you can spread the use out to all day wind or no wind you increase the worth of that generated power a lot. The biggest disadvantages of both wind and solar is that they can't supply the base load 24/7. Mitigating that problem by reducing efficiency is a trade-off that can really help renewable energy become more mainstream and reduce our dependence on fossil fuel (which is still used mostly to supply baseline power). Also with scarce wind available this may still increase the value of the wind energy enough to make it worth the trade-off... Maybe not today, but soon enough.

As for the 'as a Dutch you should know'; when you quote someone it helps to also read the part you replaced with '[etc.]' since I already noted that windmills were created originally to pump water...

Re:Store in a water tower (4, Interesting)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 2 years ago | (#32962076)

Pumping water with wind energy insures you can use wind energy as a baseline power supply (although it's actually hydro energy that achieves it). You lose some efficiency in raw power output,

I didn't say that balancing the input/output and buffering is a bad idea.
I only said that if the energy is needed in the grid, you should deliver it directly instead of storing it in water towers.

Maybe I took wrong your first post when you say taking this idea a step further for local power generation: Why convert to electricity in the first place?: it looked to me as you suggested to always store it as hydro - if that's indeed what you were saying, my argument was against "always" which should be replaced with "when in excess".

Mitigating that problem by reducing efficiency is a trade-off that can really help renewable energy become more mainstream and reduce our dependence on fossil fuel

So, reducing the efficiency plus investing in a hydro buffer does make the energy become mainstream? Something is wrong in my world which, like/agree with it or not, is currently driven by prices. Until the freaking "price on carbon" is not injected into the world's economy (in no matter how: "trade-able emission quota", "penalties for extra emission", etc) I don't think this is going to happen.

Other than that, even buffering an unpredictable input it is not without technical difficulties:
a. in your example, to store the excess in Norway lakes, you need a cable that's currently the wonder of submersible cables. And TFA was saying "the grid is the bottleneck, otherwise the CA people would be happy to suck the energy in". If you need to lay a line to the appropriate lake and build a hydro on it, wouldn't it be cheaper to just enhance the current grid which acts as a bottleneck?
b. what if you don't have enough water around to raise in the tower/lake? The "buffering" solution will still be valid, except that hydro is not the only buffer possible
c. what if the lake you use doesn't have enough capacity for the excess you record? What makes more economic sense: invest in a "bigger lake" or just let the excess go?

Re:Store in a water tower (1)

thijsh (910751) | more than 2 years ago | (#32962208)

You raise good questions, but it's a matter of the best solution for a local area... that will be different all around the world. But a technique with wind/hydro will work anywhere near the coastlines given enough gradient, that's why it doesn't work in the Netherlands, and we need the long cable to Norway... we lose a lot of energy that way, but when the *excess* energy would go unused otherwise it's pure profit indeed.

Increasing cost on fossil fuel will probably make solutions like buffering renewable energy more attractive later on, not even due to the emission quota (which is BS since it hardly cancels out the subsidies on coal for example) but due to scarcity and political benefits of not being so dependent on other nations. These benefits speak for themselves in the long run...

yes, that is the tragedy of the dutch (2, Funny)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 2 years ago | (#32961794)

so smart, but unable to do anything to do anything about it because they're stuck there with their fingers in a dyke

Re:yes, that is the tragedy of the dutch (0, Offtopic)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#32962030)

I know a dyke but she won't let me stick my fingers in.

(Ba-dum, ching!)

BECAUSE of what you just answered (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 2 years ago | (#32961852)

The windmills are in holland, the water in norway. THat would be one hell of a drive shaft.

Electricity is simple, you can have one system that puts it out and another that takes it in and do all sorts of stuff with it in the meantime.

Say for instance the windmill brakes, with your solution, so does the pump. One system after all, same as your car won't move with a broken engine. But if the windmills fall down, the train still run.

Take the average windmill itself, FAR simpler to run a power cable down then a drive shaft which would already need to be 100 meters just to reach the top, then bend. COMPLEX.

Elec is simple, you can bend it around corners, get it from somewhere else, store it, discharge it easily.

Re:BECAUSE of what you just answered (1)

thijsh (910751) | more than 2 years ago | (#32962160)

People a few centuries back beg to differ... It's simpler tech, do you have any idea of the complexity and cost of modern windmills? And bending the shaft,... What gave you the idea that would ever be needed???

Re:Store in a water tower (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#32961890)

Instead of all this water pumping nonsense, how about diverting the excess electricity to charge a locally hosted battery-farm which is attached to the grid?

You would need to introduce very-high capacity cabling in the local area connecting the wind-farm to the suitably accommodating battery farm capable of accepting the charge. The battery farm can then ensure a steady supply of electricity into the grid - even when the wind's not blowing.

The benefits are obvious, the technology available and the solution far more efficient.

I thank you.

- LordVonPS3.

Re:Store in a water tower (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#32962054)

A big flywheel would be better in theory - batteries are messy, wear out, are affected by temperature, etc.

Not sure what the current state of the art is on big, power-station-sized flywheels but I'm sure both technologies are far more expensive than pumped water.

Surely a big hole is better than a tower... (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#32962056)

Digging a big hole is much easier/cheaper/safer then building a large tower (which would have to be massive to store a useful amount of water).

Even better, use the dirt from the hole to build a hill and get double the height. Tada!

Re:Surely a big hole is better than a tower... (0)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 2 years ago | (#32962210)

How will a hole on the floor enable you to take advantage of the gravitational potential energy?

Re:Store in a water tower (1)

sjwt (161428) | more than 2 years ago | (#32962142)

Because for the 95% of the time you are not in overload, the system is much more efficient.

You will be losing on the pumping of the water, losing on the storring of it (Evaporation) and losing again on converting it back (it doesn't leave the turbines with 0% kinetic energy). That is major loss, you should only use lake storage as a last resort. Maybe the better option would be to install a link to an area that would not also be experiencing high winds, over hear in .au we often link between state grids, so that if there is a surplus it can be on-sold to a region with a deficit.

Re:Store in a water tower (1, Troll)

fastest fascist (1086001) | more than 2 years ago | (#32961568)

But what kind of volumes of water do you need to store? Something tells me it could be quite a bit for the highest production peaks - or to get any meaningful amount of juice from the backflow anyway -, a mere tower might not be enough. Even if it were, you'd need to install new turbines for the water and a whole bunch of other infra. Probably not very cheap. This type of storage may well prove to be useful, but it's going to take some time to figure out the economics of it, how much storage is optimal, and who's actually going to pay for it.

Re:Store in a water tower (4, Informative)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 2 years ago | (#32961888)

Pumped-water storage is the current tech of choice for grid-scale batteries. You do need nearby hills, but it works fairly well. List. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Store in a water tower (1)

ComputerGeek01 (1182793) | more than 2 years ago | (#32961850)

We're talking about Oregon here, you know the state. The one that's virtually half desert, so your water would evaporate, and half Rainforest (exaggeration I know) so pumping water becomes redundent http://www.wrcc.dri.edu/pcpn/or.gif [dri.edu]. In this case batteries aren't pretty or effeicent but ther might be the best choice.

Re:Store in a water tower (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#32962128)

Ambitious project in Ireland for massive Pumped-storage hydroelectricity.

Website : http://www.spiritofireland.org/

From TFA, wind is fine. (5, Insightful)

serviscope_minor (664417) | more than 2 years ago | (#32961392)

The problem is not wind power, it is an electricity grid in poor condition. Frankly, that is going to be a problem with or without wind power.

Re:From TFA, wind is fine. (4, Insightful)

hey (83763) | more than 2 years ago | (#32961552)

I agree. Its like a programmer saying "the program works...just don't click there"

Re:From TFA, wind is fine. (5, Insightful)

AlecC (512609) | more than 2 years ago | (#32961578)

No, it is a grid designed for slow turn on/off generators (coal, oil, nuclear) being fed with fast turn on/off generators. It is like taking a truck off-road. A truck perfectly suitable for is normal job is not fit for purpose on un-metalled road. The grid is not fit for the purpose to which it is now being put.

Re:From TFA, wind is fine. (2, Funny)

noidentity (188756) | more than 2 years ago | (#32961678)

No, it is a grid designed for slow turn on/off generators (coal, oil, nuclear) being fed with fast turn on/off generators. It is like taking a truck off-road. A truck perfectly suitable for is normal job is not fit for purpose on un-metalled road.

So it's not like a truck that you can just dump power on, more like a system of tubes that might not be able to handle all that at once?

Re:From TFA, wind is fine. (1)

AlecC (512609) | more than 2 years ago | (#32961712)

Yes, that is perhaps a better analogy. The tubes have not been designed for shock loads, and windpower is delivering them.

Re:From TFA, wind is fine. (4, Insightful)

mcvos (645701) | more than 2 years ago | (#32961694)

Grid maintenance also means you have to update it when requirements change. More reliance on wind energy means you need more flexibility in where your electricity is generated and how much of it is generated. Leaving your grid the way it was while you change where and how electricity is generated, is rather stupid.

Re:From TFA, wind is fine. (5, Insightful)

AlecC (512609) | more than 2 years ago | (#32961784)

Certainly. But we have a frog-in-hot-water situation here, with political complications. The grid as built can take a small amount of wind power. But as the amount of wind power increases, the limits of its adaptability are reached. And now you have the problem of who pays for the necessary upgrades. The guy who added the last windmill that exceeded the limit? All windmill owners? The Oregon grid, which needs upgrading? The California consumers who want this green power? Everybody says it is not their responsibility and the US, with its dislike of government control, does not have the mechanisms for someone to take charge and decide who pays for it in the short term, and how they are going to get paid back buy the other beneficiaries.

The trouble is that, since this is a huge one-off, market forces don't work very well. Of course, eventually the pain caused will open a market opportunity and business will find a way to solve the problem. But without a so-called socialist supervisor authority to predict and control, business are going to wait until the pain is excruciating before suppling the demand. In the long term the market will work; in the short term the economy and people will suffer.

Re:From TFA, wind is fine. (3, Informative)

twisteddk (201366) | more than 2 years ago | (#32961814)

I could probably quote myself from the comment I made about 6-12 months ago when someone posted an article about the US wanting to buy more green power. But I wont bother to search for the article, so I'll just say:

THIS IS the problem with the currently renewable energy sources. We do not have control over their output. When they produce too little we need to augment, when they procude too much, we need to siphon the excess. The higher the percentage of renewable energy is being used, the more these extremes will vary.
So putting out an economic incetive (like the energy credit in the article), means that societys requirements and needs will be countered by politics (however well intended) when they're told they're overperforming, because the energy shouldn't go to waste.

The exact same thing happens here (where we can't rely on solar during the day, due to heavy clouding during wintertime where powerconsumption is highest), the windmills overproduce heavily at night, where the cost of energy can actually drop to NEGATIVE (yes, you get paid to buy power at certain times of the night on rare occasions in northern Europe). One of the ways to counter this, is actually by tailoring consumption. So if you have a smart house, and an electric car. NOW is the time your batteries will start charging. This is also the idea behind the "better place" http://www.betterplace.com/ [betterplace.com] Weather you store in a chemical or natural battery (like a lake on the other side of a dam), or you turn down other sources of power, we WILL need a way to regulate that doesn't involve cutting production of the cleanest powersources.

I admit, there WILL be a cost to the energy infrastructure in the future (or as the article suggest, NOW). And as the energy market goes global, we're not just talking sales from state to state. But that investment should have been obvious from the initial planning of the site. If you can procude 400MW, it's no good if the infrastructure is only made to handle a third of that. That'd be like building a 1 lane freeway.

Re:From TFA, wind is fine. (5, Informative)

Pascal Sartoretti (454385) | more than 2 years ago | (#32962152)

THIS IS the problem with the currently renewable energy sources. We do not have control over their output.

No : the major source of renewable energy today is hydroelectric dams, whose output can be nearly 100% controlled.

So the problem now is that wind power is too much? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#32961836)

So the problem now is that wind power is too much? Is this your problem now? That there's teo MUCH wind power (and no catastrophic effects from taking all that power out of the wind, I note)?

Plus the problem with nuclear and coal is that demand peaks.

Which is how you get blackouts and brownouts.

Here the problem is "too much energy" not "not enough energy".

Seems proof to me that renewables can manage the power.

Re:So the problem now is that wind power is too mu (1)

AlecC (512609) | more than 2 years ago | (#32961892)

No, the problem is not magnitude, it is rate of change - the derivative. It is perfectly safe to brake to a halt from 60 to 0, but it is not safe to do the same by hitting a wall. This is like a plane hitting turbulence.

Because there are millions of consumers, demand can be predicted. Either they are not co-ordinated, in which case their various actions roughly cancel out and changes are smooth, or they can be predicted (power surges in breaks in major sporting events). The problem with wind is that a sudden unpredictable increase can cause hundreds of windmills over a huge area to suddenly increase or decrease their input. We don't have an oversupply - as stated, California is begging for the energy. But it cannot be delivered to them in a safe manner.

Re:From TFA, wind is fine. (1)

PseudonymousBraveguy (1857734) | more than 2 years ago | (#32962004)

That mostly true, but that's a problem all by itself: We will have to transition to renewable energy at some point. Its merely a question WHEN we have to do it. So the grid has to be extended to allow more spikey energy. You can do that now, when there is still time, or wait until it is too late. Europe is in the process to gradually expand there grid to allow for more renewable energy. It's not perfect yet, and it still has a long way to go. But this is the only way to go. Starting now is expensive, but delaying the inevitable is even more expensive.

Fan the Blades? (3, Funny)

MagusSlurpy (592575) | more than 2 years ago | (#32961394)

As in, "Sit in front of the turbines, flapping a big feather fan to generate more electricity?" Great idea!

Re:Fan the Blades? (1)

Aeternitas827 (1256210) | more than 2 years ago | (#32961416)

You would think this strategy would be employed when the wind wasn't gusting, to give the blades the deserved respect that they deserve for their hard work in maintaining the Roman Empire...

Oh, wait, they're not Caesar...they're giant fans.

Re:Fan the Blades? (2, Interesting)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 2 years ago | (#32961660)

No, you put the fan behind, so it goes against the wind. It not only reduces the generated power, but in addition removes some of the generated power directly at the generation place, so it doesn't hit the grid. As added bonus, the article mentions that the renewable energy credits are only generated when the blades are spinning, however it doesn't tell that you may not use that power yourself (and if there's some regulation to that effect, you simply found a second company to put up the fans, and sell the required electricity to that second company).

Re:Fan the Blades? (1)

ultranova (717540) | more than 2 years ago | (#32961958)

As in, "Sit in front of the turbines, flapping a big feather fan to generate more electricity?" Great idea!

Wouldn't an electric fan be far more effective?

First Post! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#32961420)

Ok this is to do with govenors for generators, intertrip settings and active network management.

The extent of a "surge" depends on weather the turbine has a synchronous or asynchronous govenor. Synchronous are becoming more common, because then the power generation frequency is already synchronised to the grid, but restricting the possible slip means the gearbox has to be able to cope with jolts, and you get higher tranisent voltages.

It is becoming more common to attach wind-farms to transmission linesull at anal that cannot meet their peak-power requirements and this is a good thing. In the 60s we used to build massively overengineered grids on the public dollar, now with more private sector involvement we're more careful at analysing the cost/benefit ratio and have a leaner system.

The solution is to either just trip the generator off the network (a dump load may be required) when generation grows too large, or to dial it back. The second option is preferable but the technologies to do this are being deployed remarkably slowly. Everyone has agreed that we need smart grids for about the past 40 years, and yet still no-one has really done much. The U.S. system is streets behind the European modeal and diffrent state guidelines break the system up into a barely connected set of islands governed by diffrent rules. It's retarded. This is one problem that shart-grids would address, and it's not futuristic technology, it's actually quite rudimentary, just the industry moves so slowly. Thought car manufacture was slow and bound by regulations check out Power transmission.

Re:First Post! (-1, Offtopic)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 2 years ago | (#32961616)

linesull at anal that

Anal what?

Re:First Post! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#32961876)

So... you singled out the anal, but left the required dump loads and the shart-grids alone? That shows considerable restraint my friend. I personally would have tied it all together into something two girls one cup related. I tip my hat to you sir!

Finally... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#32961436)

Green energy is destroying things. Let's go back to burning things just to be safe.

explanation about the condition of the grid (3, Interesting)

FuckingNickName (1362625) | more than 2 years ago | (#32961452)

Why, technically speaking, is your power grid in the CA area in such poor condition? Were there missteps in its construction or maintenance? Why isn't capacity being increased? Is it a problem of deciding responsibility for organising interstate builds, and if so why don't other states suffer the problem? Spain has this on-and-off problem of autonomous regions with lots of water not providing to areas with less water; the ("federal") government of the day can determine the outcome.

Re:explanation about the condition of the grid (5, Insightful)

AlecC (512609) | more than 2 years ago | (#32961538)

The problem is not in California, it is in Oregon. The demand is in California, but they cannot get the supply out of Oregon. It is not the case of the grid being in bad condition (though it is not in good condition), it is the case of the grid being built for fossil, nuclear, and hydroelectric power which turns on/off predictably and controllably, without major surges, now being used for wind power which surges unpredictably. Water is not a good analogy - surges in the water supply are on a matter of days or even weeks, whereas surges in the wind are a matter of. a second or so.

Because wind power varies, it has to be backed up by another power source which is turned down and up to fill in the gaps in the wind. But most power stations take at least a few seconds for the most agile (gas turbine) to many hours (nuclear) to turn on and off. If the wind varies too fast, this cannot be done and net grid power - the sum of wind and other - varies in a dangerous manner. The solution is for the wind power not to use the highest peaks, wasting the energy that California would like but preventing damage to the grid and equipment attached to it.

Re:explanation about the condition of the grid (3, Insightful)

Hungus (585181) | more than 2 years ago | (#32961780)

The problem is not in California, it is in Oregon. The demand is in California, but they cannot get the supply out of Oregon.

Sounds to me like a large part of the problem is that Californians are using more than they produce. That in itself is a problem, in fact is the heart of the problem. Californians need to produce more power locally, use less or find a balance of the two.

The same thing goes with California's other budget issue - fiscal-

Re:explanation about the condition of the grid (5, Insightful)

AlecC (512609) | more than 2 years ago | (#32961822)

I don't agree. Doing everything in your own back garden is extremely inefficient. Things should be done where they can be done most efficiently - allowing for the cost of transport. You generate wind power where the wind is, solar power where the sun is, wave power where the waves are. Then transport it to where the users are

By your logic, California should only burn oil pumped in California. In fact, why allow a whole state to share - why not require SF to used only oil pumped in SF.

And certainly California should not import water in the way it does. Which would lead to most of Southern California being abandoned - it survives only on water imported from the north.

Re:explanation about the condition of the grid (2, Insightful)

mad_ian (28771) | more than 2 years ago | (#32962148)

I think there are limits to how much of a given resource one group of people should be importing.

There are too many people in SoCal to be able to provide them enough water. The problem isn't too little water, it's too many people. Some of them need to leave, and go where there is more water. People have been doing this for thousands of years. Our technology does not eliminate this process, only allows it to happen less often.

Superbowl (1)

captainpanic (1173915) | more than 2 years ago | (#32962156)

If you can't handle surges, what happens when the superbowl starts? A large surge on the demand side would then be catastrophic, causing at least a blackout in some parts.

Anyway, I tihnk that there are plenty of places in the world where they have more wind power than in Oregon... so all they have to do is copy someone else's idea.

Also, Oregon is in the Rockies, isn't it? The must be some hydroelectric dams there?

Re:explanation about the condition of the grid (1)

Skapare (16644) | more than 2 years ago | (#32962172)

Electricity is electricity. It doesn't matter where it came from ... except that certain sources have their ups and downs. Specifically, the grid isn't design for such peak variations.

If I need X to Y megawatts, normally I'd have to make the transmission lines handle to the peak of Y, under the economics of the variation between X and Y. But if there are separate transmission lines between 2 different sources, and at least one of those sources has variable output that can go from zero to (near) Y, then the other transmission lines have to also handle a peak of Y. Now I have to have 2 transmission lines that can handle peaks of Y megawatts, even though I'm only using 1*Y megawatts, not 2*Y megawatts. The economics shifts to where transmission lines are a greater component of the cost. The inability to cut production at the hydro plants then adds a complication (you can't just spin the turbines without a load).

Re:explanation about the condition of the grid (1)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 2 years ago | (#32962194)

Water is good analogy as flood water can become a problem in matter of a hour or two. Still, you can store water using a dam, so you can distribute transforming it into electricity over a longer period of time. You can't store wind like that.

Wind Power blows. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#32961478)

I live in Almere, a town in the province of Flevoland, The Netherlands. We have power surges all the time from all the wind generators that are based around the city of Almere and Lelystad, which the Dutch government put there because of all the wind that is there, to prove that wind power is a real alternative. The grid simply can't handle the peaks of power that it delivers and can't cope with it if the wind goes away and the wind generators are simply doing nothing...

Stop putting it on the grid! (1)

Manip (656104) | more than 2 years ago | (#32961490)

I thought due to the sporadic nature of renewables that few of them are plugged directly into the power grid and instead the energy is used to, for example, pump water from a lower storage tank/lake into a higher one? That way they know exactly how much power will be generated by the release of the water and it is entirely predictable.

Re:Stop putting it on the grid! (1)

AlecC (512609) | more than 2 years ago | (#32961558)

This is indeed a god idea. Unfortunately it is also very expensive to build, and there are relatively few places near the grid with steep hills and lakes (or land suitable for creating lakes) near top and bottom. Particularly, they tend to be quite a long way from the relatively flat areas over which the wind whistles and wind power is generated.

Re:Stop putting it on the grid! (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 2 years ago | (#32961646)

I thought due to the sporadic nature of renewables that few of them are plugged directly into the power grid and instead the energy is used to, for example, pump water from a lower storage tank/lake into a higher one? That way they know exactly how much power will be generated by the release of the water and it is entirely predictable.

One thing that you won't be able to predict is when the tank/lake will be so full you can't pump in it any more.
I guess I'm trying to say that: what is unpredictable will stay unpredictable (no matter how many buffers you use to cushion against values you cannot handle).

Re:Stop putting it on the grid! (3, Insightful)

Shihar (153932) | more than 2 years ago | (#32961732)

There is a pretty large difference between the a power surge over a few seconds, and slowly, over the course of months, building up a supply of water in a reservoir. Dealing with a power surge over a few seconds is very hard. Dealing with a reservoir that builds up near to full is pretty freaking easy... just turn off some other power sources and slowly and predictably drain the reservoir. Unpredictability isn't the issue, rapid unpredictability is.

The problem of course is that the more you buffer something like wind energy, the less efficient (and thus more costly) it becomes. Dumping water into a reservoir will pretty much solve your energy surge problems, but it will make your output and cost crap. I bet the solution is probably more technological. Cleaning up a signal that fluctuates wildly is pretty old hat for signal folks, it just needs some scale up.

Re:Stop putting it on the grid! (2, Informative)

tagno25 (1518033) | more than 2 years ago | (#32961826)

One thing that you won't be able to predict is when the tank/lake will be so full you can't pump in it any more. I guess I'm trying to say that: what is unpredictable will stay unpredictable (no matter how many buffers you use to cushion against values you cannot handle).

How is that unpredictable? You should always know the current water level. If you know the mean and maximum pump rates as well, then you can set a computer to fan the blades on the windmills, in turn generating less electricity, when you get near the limit. If you reach the maximum very often you should think about adding a second reservoir.

Re:Stop putting it on the grid! (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 2 years ago | (#32962162)

One thing that you won't be able to predict is when the tank/lake will be so full you can't pump in it any more.

If the lake is full and for some reason you still need to run the pumps (or more likely, it starts raining) you just let the lake overflow (or let water out bypassing the turbines). Presumably there's a river.

Lakes are massive anyway, with capacities measured in km, I would think they take long enough to fill that variations in the wind are easily averaged out.

Much ado about nothing (5, Interesting)

amorsen (7485) | more than 2 years ago | (#32961548)

So the wind turbines had to reduce production for a few hours. Is it really worth doing massive build-outs to fix that? It's sad to see energy go to waste, but on the other hand you can go outside and watch all the energy going to waste because there isn't a wind turbine to catch it in the first place!

As long we're wasting less than 10% of power (and right now we're below 1% at least in wind-farm-filled Denmark) I don't see the problem. I bet planned and unplanned maintenance accounts for several percent anyway.

Re:Much ado about nothing (0, Troll)

delt0r (999393) | more than 2 years ago | (#32961790)

Also sizing the local grid based on a "max gust output" looks like a real good way to make wind a lot more expensive than it already is. Remember even in the best case you have MWs of generators working at below their rated output most of the time anyway. Dito with the local grid.

Re:Much ado about nothing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#32962116)

wind a lot more expensive than it already is.

http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Comparative_electrical_generation_costs

Re:Much ado about nothing (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 2 years ago | (#32961914)

Pfft, do you really believe that 1% figure? Say, how much has fossil fuel use dropped in Denmark then? Speak up, I can't hear you... [crickets]

The potential generation figures for wind (and solar) are almost entirely fictional. We have to keep fossil and nuke plants hot anyway to deal with power dips and to provide steady phase.

It's not a huge problem, granted, since the grid monkeys actually balancing the load and phase know very well that the headlines and the big visible turbines are just a sop to keep you gullible Ecomentals happy while they get on with building the gas and coal plants that actually keep you alive.

Re:Much ado about nothing (-1, Troll)

bbn (172659) | more than 2 years ago | (#32962038)

Say, how much has fossil fuel use dropped in Denmark then? Speak up, I can't hear you... [crickets]

About 20%.

Re:Much ado about nothing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#32962050)

Pfft, do you really believe that 1% figure? Say, how much has fossil fuel use dropped in Denmark then? Speak up, I can't hear you... [crickets]

Care to answer this yourself? For those of us not involved in your little pissing match here we might like to know.

BTW: Please includes some kind of citations. Sorry, but in the game of Slashdot dick wagging it is becoming harder to believe anything anyone says around here.

Re:Much ado about nothing (4, Insightful)

Ascylon (1849890) | more than 2 years ago | (#32961970)

Wind power is inherently unreliable and completely unfeasible as a large-scale power-generation method. I found the following an interesting read:

Hugh Sharman, – Why Wind Power ‘Works’ in Denmark
http://www.incoteco.com/upload/CIEN.158.2.66.pdf [incoteco.com]

The gist of it is that Denmark exports almost all of the wind energy they generate to neighbouring countries, because most of the time the power generated is in excess of the demand. Granted, that paper is several years old, but it still demonstrates the randomness of wind-based energy-generation pretty well.

Wind can never be used for base load energy generation without some kind of (expensive and impractical) energy-storing gimmicks, so instead of that how about just building a few comparatively cheap nuclear reactors and being set for decades? Perhaps at that point wind energy will be more feasible, but until then throwing money into implementing inferior energy-generation methods seems kind of silly.

Re:Much ado about nothing (1)

Zumbs (1241138) | more than 2 years ago | (#32962138)

On the other hand, nuclear and fossil fueled power is only feasible today because vast amounts of money have been thrown at them. It is not surprising that other energy sources will also require large investments to become as competitive and convenient as the currently used and very mature energy sources.

Re:Much ado about nothing (1)

PseudonymousBraveguy (1857734) | more than 2 years ago | (#32962040)

The problem is not the occasionally waste of energy. The problem is that if you want to allow for more renewable energy, and to actually reduce non-renewable energy, you will need a grid that can handle this. You will need some energy storage (like pumped storage hydroelectrics, or compressed air, or whatever), else your base energy has to be provided by predictable energy sources like coal or nuclear.

There's better solutions than this! (1, Interesting)

Kanel (1105463) | more than 2 years ago | (#32961624)

There's better solutions than this! (Score 1) on Monday July 19, @11:15PM Comments: 1 by Kanel on Monday July 19, @11:15PM (#32956500)
Attached to: Wind power surges disrupting grid

This is a well known problem but the article dosn't even beginn to discuss the solutions. Which is very convenient for the windmill owners.

There's basically two solutions: Either you store the extra power for later in some kind of battery, or the grid has both windmills and some other kind of renewable power that can quickly step in or out with swings in windmill electricity. The textbook example is hydro power. The output from a hydro plant can be planned in advance since you have a reservoir you'r tapping from and how much electricity you produce can be changed by the flick of a switch. Unlike coal and nuclear powerplants, hydropower can in principle respond to an unanticipated demand in a matter of seconds.

Fascinatingly, a hydro power plant can also act as a battery. When windmills are producing excessive amounts of electricity at low prices, the electricity can be used to pump water back up into the reservoir, to be depleted later when the price is higher.

If you don't have a hydro power plant nearby, it's possible to store electricity in other ways, both in special batteries designed for windmills, pressurised air in underground caves, e.t.c. But this article only mention one solution: Build more grids. Why is that? So that grid owners will have to make the needed investments and the consumers will ultimately have to pay for it, while the windmill owners get all the benefits.

Re:There's better solutions than this! (1)

CycleMan (638982) | more than 2 years ago | (#32961982)

RTFA. The wind gusts are overwhelming the hydro reservoir system. Largely because this is the Columbia River, with lovely tasty salmon in it and there are min/max flow guidelines to ensure that the river is useful for things other than just electricity generation.

Random Early Detection (1, Offtopic)

drmofe (523606) | more than 2 years ago | (#32961634)

Hey, if it avoids synchronous bandwidth surges for TCP/IP, it's worth a try for power transmission.

Re:Random Early Detection (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#32962046)

Transients are a big problem in the power industry. The better part of 1900 is devoted to mitigate them, but all the method developed doesn't suit these kind of sources.

stop drinking water in case there's a flood (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#32961654)

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store as Hydrogen (4, Interesting)

xirtam_work (560625) | more than 2 years ago | (#32961684)

I've suggested this elsewhere for other wind farms. How about having a hydrogen electrolysis plant nearby where water can be turned into Hydrogen that can be turned back into electricity during non-peak wind (tidal, or whatever) periods. Hydrogen can be burnt turning it back into water easily and produces heat that can be turned into electricity cheaply and easily. The most expensive part of the whole unit would be the hydrogen storage. This can safely be placed underground to avoid leaks and explosions if required.

Re:store as Hydrogen (2, Interesting)

hipp5 (1635263) | more than 2 years ago | (#32961994)

I've suggested this elsewhere for other wind farms. How about having a hydrogen electrolysis plant nearby where water can be turned into Hydrogen that can be turned back into electricity during non-peak wind (tidal, or whatever) periods. Hydrogen can be burnt turning it back into water easily and produces heat that can be turned into electricity cheaply and easily. The most expensive part of the whole unit would be the hydrogen storage. This can safely be placed underground to avoid leaks and explosions if required.

They are doing this in some locations. I know that this is what's happening for British Columbia's first wind farm. However, the incentive is not grid stability, but power lines that are too far away. It's cheaper to truck hydrogen than it is to extend the power grid to the farm.

hydrogen is a joke (5, Informative)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 2 years ago | (#32962058)

people please stop talking about hydrogen

it wastes too much energy in electrolysis and then burning. plus its a nightmare to store and handle. there's far more efficient energy storage mediums that are far easier to manage

i wish people would just forget about hydrogen, but it seems to have entered the public conscience and will be a long time in banishing from consideration. hydrogen is not a serious green energy contender, and never will be

its too wasteful to convert to, and then convert back from, and too messy to handle. please understand these simple obvious facts that make hydrogen a complete waste of your time

Re:hydrogen is a joke (4, Insightful)

BeardedChimp (1416531) | more than 2 years ago | (#32962174)

Your problem is that you are conflating the 'hydrogen economy' with energy storage. The problem with handling and storage is almost entirely negated by having it stored on site and not transported anywhere.

Any form of storage will have efficiency problems, and even if pumping water up hills is more efficient it won't be feasible if your having problems with transporting electricity in the first place.

Re:store as Hydrogen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#32962180)

They are talking about building air-storage "batteries" in northern Germany to store excess power from Offshore Windparks. They created huge cavities underground by washing out salt and then pressurizing them with plain air. Pump Air in when you have too much, let out when you need it. This is how natural Liquid Gas is stored atm.

They are only wondering, if there could be a explosion because of continued cycles of pressurizing / depressurizing.

Isn't fanning the blades the problem? (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 2 years ago | (#32961696)

Windmill farms are ordered to fan their blades

Wouldn't fanning the blades generate even more power? Maybe I'm missing something.

Re:Isn't fanning the blades the problem? (2, Informative)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 2 years ago | (#32961966)

"Fan the blades" is a a term of art meaning to turn the blades so that they present less resistance to the wind (and thus generate less, or even no, power)

Distributed storage (2, Informative)

Clueless Nick (883532) | more than 2 years ago | (#32961858)

In the not-so-distant future, we may see a large number of electric vehicles on the road, with increasing policy support. The batteries in these vehicles could provide a very good distributed storage solution through an intelligent charging infrastructure.

One of the biggest arguments against wind power has been intermittency and the inability to tailor demand to supply volatility. An on-site storage can provide stability of output from the wind farm to the grid, but the options are either too ecologically-damaging (normal lead-acid batteries), or too radical (underground compressed air storage), or too debatable (hydrogen, in terms of efficiency of electrolysis, transport / storage and reconversion) and in all cases too expensive and unproven. A high capital cost of the wind farm itself ($1.5 - 1.8 mUSD / MW) and low capacity utilisation factors (27% - 35% at Class I windy sites) mean that given the current utility offtake rates in the US make the project barely viable by itself, and no developer would want to add a hugely expensive backup facility.

On the other hand, the anti-EV lobby opposes the claim of a reduced carbon footprint by a switchover to electric, by calculating the emissions related to power generation, whether through coal or gas. In this case, it would make imminent sense to use renewable sources to generate electricity for charging EV batteries. This still does not solve the issue of a limited range, which is the chief criticism of EVs.

Companies like Better Place (http://www.betterplace.com) have started lobbying hard, tying up with governments in Denmark, Israel, Australia, and local bodies in places such as San Francisco and taxis in Tokyo, to establish an EV-charging and battery swapping network to provide an innovative and seemingly practical solution to the range problem. The network they are proposing to build will keep talking to the car (such as the Nissan Leaf) to keep track of the charging status, the vehicle's position and availability of nearby swapping stations.

Further, in order to address the issue of peak demand, they also propose to charge intelligently, especially during non-peak hours. This can be done for both the battery in the car and the stock in the swapping station. Better Place also talks of buying power from renewable sources to keep the carbon footprint low.

In India, the wind power producer need not be a dedicated utility. Power can be generated by an industrial unit, fed into the grid, and a credit in terms of kWh supplied is available in the industrial unit's power bill, with banking facilities to help adjust excess generation and excess consumption. In some places, time of day metering and credit mechanism is also used to reward generation during peak hours. Similarly, a wind farm can sell power to an unrelated industrial unit too. Such a system could be introduced in the US and elsewhere.

Continued...

Re:Distributed storage (1)

Clueless Nick (883532) | more than 2 years ago | (#32961880)

Now, if you can predict wind power generation to some degree of accuracy (already happening with weather station data), and if you can also provide instantaneous generation data to a consumer (also possible through 'The Power Of Technology', email and two way radios?), you could theoretically design a system where an EV being charged through a recharging point or a (ideally) battery swapping station could curtail or increase their power demand along with the changing pattern of wind power generation.

Of course, the burst generation from wind power gusts probably needs to be addressed differently. Wind turbines these days have instantaneous blade pitching and variable speed drives to handle a part of the load. Secondly, a smaller storage could be devised (by someone. I am not an engineer) to temporarily store the balance peaks and release it over time, much like in a hydraulic coupling system that provides mechanical shock protection.

This is briefly the idea that has been obsessing me for a year now, and I wish I could test its practicality.

Re:Distributed storage (1)

Clueless Nick (883532) | more than 2 years ago | (#32961894)

uhh...long post.

I forgot to mention that Better Place proposes to own the battery, which it will lease to the EV owner. This creates both distributed ownership and storage!

Futo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#32961986)

So, does this mean Futo is shutting down?

Yeah, not like I expect anyone on /. to give a shit about Rider, but I had to say it...

mo3 up (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#32962026)

were taken over foolowed. Obviously metadiscussions legitimise doing DECLINED IN MARKET are inherently a dead man walking. And some of the from the FreeBS D

These greenie-weenies will never be happy (0, Flamebait)

mkintigh (1719294) | more than 2 years ago | (#32962182)

First they complain about us burning up the planet, so we build them these bird killers. Now they complain that the infrastructure cannot handle what they asked for.

First -- upgrade your stupid infrastructure! You want it, you better be able to handle it. You get too much energy, store it somewhere (a lot of great ideas have been posted here).

Frankly, forget all of this crap and really go clean -- nuclear. Since the byproduct can be neutralized and used for other products it's a win-win power source.
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