Intermittent power remains the problem for wind and solar power in advanced societies which need reliable (24/7) sources of power. It means that these sources will always need a backup for times when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow, which means that you will pay twice for the electricity generation infrastructure in order to provide Clean Energy according to The Economist. The solution: HUG Clean Energy.
It is like running a factory with workers, who work for free (low marginal costs of renewable), but who turn up and leave as they like. It isn’t going to work, if you have customers who demand prompt delivery of the goods you produce in the factory.
The result was a glut of power-generating capacity that has slashed the revenues utilities earn from wholesale power markets and hence deterred investment.
To keep power flowing, the system relies on conventional power plants, such as coal, gas or nuclear, to kick in when renewables falter. But because they are idle for long periods, they find it harder to attract private investors. So, to keep the lights on, they require public funds. “The more successful you are in increasing renewables’ penetration, the more expensive and less effective the policy becomes.”
Everyone is affected by a third factor: renewable energy has negligible or zero marginal running costs—because the wind and the sun are free.
The utility business model is broken, and markets are, too. In Europe, which was first to feel the effects, utilities have suffered a “lost decade” of falling returns, stranded assets and corporate disruption. Wholesale electricity prices have slumped from around €80 a megawatt-hour in 2008 to €30-50 nowadays.
What about Wind Energy?
The only fair comparison of prices is to compare the cost of gas generation to wind plus a backup generator and the addition costs of connecting widely distributed windmills to the grid. If you do this it is hard to see how wind could ever be competitive.
In addition there is the important issue of energy density. Wind only generates 1-2 watts per square meter. If you covered the entire state landmass and the offshore waters with windmills it would not provide enough power to meet current consumption, even with heroic assumptions about energy savings.
With proper allocation of costs wind is not competitive with fossil fuels by far, and will not be in the foreseeable future.
What about Solar Energy?
Do you see the very thin red line at the top of this graph? That’s the potential of solar energy.
The Underdeveloped Countries
There is another related major energy issue to be faced: how to get vastly increased amounts of electricity to people in developing countries and, at the same time, minimize the environmental costs. Energy demand grows faster than their population growth.
All over Asia and Africa, governments are expanding investment in the electricity sector, much of it in coal. And this is just the start. In the next few decades, the investment in the electricity sector in developing Asia and Africa will be huge. And reliable base load power is needed. Unfortunately, renewables probably cannot provide reliable base load in developing Asia. Main options, really, are goal, gas, and nuclear. There are difficult choices here.
The Good News
The good news is that new technology can help fix the problem. Small hydro like the HUG Energy System will enable companies and households to smooth out their demand—by doing some energy-intensive work at night, for example. This helps to cope with intermittent supply. Small, modular power plants, which are easy to flex up or down will become more popular.
Which renewable energy source has the most potential?
Mankind has been benefiting from the “energy of moving water…since before the Roman Empire” to power waterwheels for mills. Today the global renewable energy industry is worth $615 billion. Today it is probably wind or solar, whose technologies are falling precipitously and making those investments economical. However, don’t discount hydro power, which now accounts for about 10% of the electricity and which could also grow in the coming decades.
Base level electricity is a requirement. Most hydro power facilities can quickly go from zero power to maximum output, making them ideal for meeting sudden changes in demand for electricity.
The next phase of hydro power, however, will focus on smaller hydro units that are less disruptive environmentally but still useful in supplying electricity to remote areas. A 2007 Electric Power Research Institute study estimated that there is a potential for adding a 300 megawatts of damless hydro power in the US by 2025. Meanwhile, at least 100 countries are developing small hydro plants, with the most potential in the former Soviet Union, South Asia and South America.
Kinetic hydro power is dam-less hydro power that is converted from energy found in the flowing water currents of oceans, tides, rivers and man-made channels or conduits. Free Flow systems are turnkey renewable energy solutions that employ underwater turbines to generate electricity from the natural water currents. The systems do not require dams, impoundments or major civil works. They operate automatically, fully underwater and invisible from shore.
The HUG adds over three times the increase of velocity created from its vortex. The turbine’s power is proportional to the cube of its average velocity. Thus, a doubling of the average speed of the flow results in an eight-fold increase in its power, which results in the lowest cost: $0.01/kWh.
SOME IMPORTANT LINKS
- An Irrigation System: NORTHydro.com
- A Rabbit and Fish Farm: AfriCAPITALISM.us
- An Agroforestry Intercrop System: LivingWaterIs.com
- The Charitable Arm: SunnyUp.net
- God’s Loveletters: Godloveletters.com
- Thunder of Justice: ThunderofJustice.com
- Microfinance for women: LivingWaterMicroFinance.org
- Deliverance Is: DeliveranceIs.com