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Solar ... In the news

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  • JKenH
    JKenH Posts: 4,899 Forumite
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    edited 31 October 2023 at 4:18AM
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    michaels said:
    JKenH said:
    Article talking about a study that was looking for the solar tipping point, and found it had already been reached - effectively unstoppable, as it gets better/cheaper.

    The chart shows just how much the World is expected to lean into solar. But I assume for nations like the UK (or even less sunny) wind may be the main source of RE generation.

    Irreversible Solar Tipping Point Has Already Occurred, Researchers Claim



    Researchers in Europe published a new study in the journal Nature Communications on October 17, 2023, that comes to a rather extraordinary conclusion. They found, much to their surprise, the solar power tipping point is not still in the future. In fact, it has already occurred. The upshot of their findings is that the move to solar power is now irreversible.

    The researchers are from a diverse group of institutions including the Global Systems Institute at the University of Exeter, the Center for Energy, Environment and Natural Resource Governance at the University of Cambridge, the World Bank, the Institute for Sustainable Resources at University College London, the Climate Action Center at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Cambridge Econometrics in Cambridge, UK.

    Stripped of its technical jargon, the report suggests that prior studies of future energy generation over-emphasized the role of fossil fuels and under-emphasized the role of renewables, particularly solar. “Without any further energy policy changes, solar energy appears to follow a robust trajectory to become the future dominant power source before mid-century,” the researchers said.

    “Due to the reinforcing co-evolution of technology costs and deployment, our analysis establishes quantitative empirical evidence, from current and historical data trends, that a solar energy tipping point is likely to have passed (emphasis added). Once the combined cost of solar and storage crosses cost parity with all alternative technologies in several key markets, its widespread deployment and further costs declines globally could become irreversible. This echoes the results from Rupert Way et al., who showed that such a configuration would be cheaper than alternatives.

    “Historical policy to stimulate solar PV has brought down costs. We’re now at the point that a virtuous cycle between cost declines and additional deployment doesn’t require more ambitious policies targeting solar anymore,” lead author Femke Nijsse of the University of Exeter told Anthropocene. “More ambitious policies for other renewables [are] still needed.”

    Over the last decade and a half, the cost of solar panels and wind power have plummeted. Researchers had begun to talk about a ‘tipping point’ where renewables might out-compete fossil fuel sources of energy based on cost alone, but there was little agreement on when or how this might occur. As a result, models of the global energy system have generally assumed that fossil fuel dominance would continue. Past models have also consistently underestimated how fast solar power would grow in the real world.


    The CleanTechnica article doesn’t quote one of the reservations in the study - intermittency and funding the storage required.

    The problem of high cost for renewables has changed into a problem of balancing electricity grids, in which large amounts of intermittent wind and solar generation pose challenges. Batteries play an important role in mitigating that issue and show a similarly high learning rate10. This implies that electricity storage costs and diffusion could follow a comparable and coupled trajectory to PV in the 2020s.

    Whether solar and wind can dominate electricity grids depends on the ability of the technology to overcome a series of barriers. This includes how to deal with the seasonal variation for which batteries are ill-suited11. The cost of managing large amounts of intermittency could offset further cost reductions in solar panels and wind turbines, impeding their rapid diffusion12


    And in the study it is suggested the cost of dealing with the storage to support solar is conveniently moved to the grid and charged to consumers rather than requiring renewables to carry the full burden of storage needs. 

    Specifically, our model suggests that the allocation of storage costs to the grid and charged directly to consumers incentivises more renewables diffusion than requiring renewables to carry the full burden of storage needs (see Fig. 5), leading to lower overall system costs41.

    Do we expect nuclear to carry the costs of failing to demand follow?
    Why not? Traditionally nuclear plants in the UK have been run at full capacity as  th he marginal cost of operation is low and it was cheaper to use gas or coal to follow demand. 

    If, however the grid were made up primarily of nuclear then the plants could load follow if required so there would be considerably less demand for storage and what there was would be intra day. In practice it would be more cost effective to run the plants at full capacity and use the excess generation for hydrogen production. 

    Renewable generation needs much more storage capacity to operate independently with a substantial longer term (inter day) requirement as the output is so intermittent. Even with our 2030 wind targets there would be times that wind could meet less than 5% of demand and of course with solar there is little or no generation during the peak 4-7pm period in winter. Substantial storage would be required and the cost of that should be factored in. 

    Nuclear can actually be a good fit with renewables facilitating a much higher penetration without such substantial storage requirement. Unfortunately ideological divisions within the the climate change/green lobby have meant for political reasons this integrated approach has never been developed to the extent it should have been. 
    Northern Lincolnshire. 7.8 kWp system, (4.2 kw west facing panels , 3.6 kw east facing), Solis inverters, Solar IBoost water heater, Mitsubishi SRK35ZS-S and SRK20ZS-S Wall Mounted Inverter Heat Pumps, ex Nissan Leaf owner)
  • ABrass
    ABrass Posts: 1,005 Forumite
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    edited 31 October 2023 at 8:23AM
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    You're right that nuclear has a low marginal cost for fuel. It doesn't matter if the reactor is at 50% or 100%, it costs the same to run and the power just costs twice as much.

    So using nuclear to load follow is incredibly expensive. We'd end up building the same intraday storage for renewables again, as we did with Dinorwig pumped hydro to deal with inflexible nuclear and coal.
    8kW (4kW WNW, 4kW SSE) 6kW inverter. 6.5kWh battery.
  • Martyn1981
    Martyn1981 Posts: 14,873 Forumite
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    ABrass said:
    You're right that nuclear has a low marginal cost for fuel. It doesn't matter if the reactor is at 50% or 100%, it costs the same to run and the power just costs twice as much.

    So using nuclear to load follow is incredibly expensive. We'd end up building the same intraday storage for renewables again, as we did with Dinorwig pumped hydro to deal with inflexible nuclear and coal.
    Yes, but when RE, such as wind is dialed down, it's called curtailment, and criticised, but for nuclear it's called load following, and hailed ..... weirdly. As per the 2018 recommendation by the NIC to the Gov, they suggest that RE + storage may be a cheaper option than nuclear. But if you add storage costs to nuclear ....... well, it just gets silly.

    For a nuclear only option (to fairly compare it to RE), then you would need vastly more storage, as seasonal storage would be needed to time shift summer excess to winter. Whereas RE, with a wind/winter weighting 'only' requires large scale/longer term storage to meet a shortfall over two to three weeks. That smaller scale of storage, would also see more than one cycle a year improving its economics.

    In reality, for the small percentage of countries that have nuclear, it's more common to suggest levels of generation that are quite small, and then 'hide' it as baseload. This seems to suggest that if generation is greater than demand, but demand is greater than nuclear, then the nuclear doesn't need storage, the RE does.  ;)
    Mart. Cardiff. 5.58 kWp PV systems (3.58 ESE & 2.0 WNW). Two A2A units for cleaner heating. Two BEV's.

    For general PV advice please see the PV FAQ thread on the Green & Ethical Board.
  • NigeWick
    NigeWick Posts: 2,717 Forumite
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    What is wrong with concentrated solar plus wind with associated storage capacity so that it can generate electricity 24 hours a day?
    The mind of the bigot is like the pupil of the eye; the more light you pour upon it, the more it will contract.
    Oliver Wendell Holmes
  • JKenH
    JKenH Posts: 4,899 Forumite
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    I don’t understand why thinking on this subject is so binary. This was the article I had read suggesting nuclear and renewables could be complimentary. 

    Keeping the balance: How flexible nuclear operation can help add more wind and solar to the grid 

    Optimization model shows that operating nuclear plants flexibly can reduce electricity costs, increase revenue for nuclear plants, and cut CO2 emissions in electric power systems.


    “The general findings would hold in other places with similar shares of these two resources [nuclear and renewables],” says Jenkins. And, importantly, the study demonstrates how one of the world’s biggest sources of low-carbon energy (nuclear) and the world’s fastest growing energy source (renewables) can work together rather than replace each other.

    “What this study shows is that rather than shut down nuclear plants, you can operate them in a way that makes room for renewables,” says Jenkins. “It shows that flexible nuclear plants can play much better with variable renewables than many people think, which might lead to reevaluations of the role of these two resources together.

    https://energy.mit.edu/news/keeping-the-balance-how-flexible-nuclear-operation-can-help-add-more-wind-and-solar-to-the-grid/


    Northern Lincolnshire. 7.8 kWp system, (4.2 kw west facing panels , 3.6 kw east facing), Solis inverters, Solar IBoost water heater, Mitsubishi SRK35ZS-S and SRK20ZS-S Wall Mounted Inverter Heat Pumps, ex Nissan Leaf owner)
  • ABrass
    ABrass Posts: 1,005 Forumite
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    NigeWick said:
    What is wrong with concentrated solar plus wind with associated storage capacity so that it can generate electricity 24 hours a day?
    CSP is very expensive. More expensive than PV with batteries that allow load shifting and those can do double duty if there is a wind surplus overnight.
    8kW (4kW WNW, 4kW SSE) 6kW inverter. 6.5kWh battery.
  • ABrass
    ABrass Posts: 1,005 Forumite
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    JKenH said:
    I don’t understand why thinking on this subject is so binary. This was the article I had read suggesting nuclear and renewables could be complimentary. 

    Keeping the balance: How flexible nuclear operation can help add more wind and solar to the grid 

    Optimization model shows that operating nuclear plants flexibly can reduce electricity costs, increase revenue for nuclear plants, and cut CO2 emissions in electric power systems.


    “The general findings would hold in other places with similar shares of these two resources [nuclear and renewables],” says Jenkins. And, importantly, the study demonstrates how one of the world’s biggest sources of low-carbon energy (nuclear) and the world’s fastest growing energy source (renewables) can work together rather than replace each other.

    “What this study shows is that rather than shut down nuclear plants, you can operate them in a way that makes room for renewables,” says Jenkins. “It shows that flexible nuclear plants can play much better with variable renewables than many people think, which might lead to reevaluations of the role of these two resources together.

    https://energy.mit.edu/news/keeping-the-balance-how-flexible-nuclear-operation-can-help-add-more-wind-and-solar-to-the-grid/


    The entire article boils down to 'if we curtail nuclear power we don't need to curtail solar or wind'.

    The only interesting bit is the claim that you save money on fuel if you curtail nuclear power, which I didn't think was true.
    8kW (4kW WNW, 4kW SSE) 6kW inverter. 6.5kWh battery.
  • michaels
    michaels Posts: 28,221 Forumite
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    ABrass said:
    You're right that nuclear has a low marginal cost for fuel. It doesn't matter if the reactor is at 50% or 100%, it costs the same to run and the power just costs twice as much.

    So using nuclear to load follow is incredibly expensive. We'd end up building the same intraday storage for renewables again, as we did with Dinorwig pumped hydro to deal with inflexible nuclear and coal.
    Yes, but when RE, such as wind is dialed down, it's called curtailment, and criticised, but for nuclear it's called load following, and hailed ..... weirdly. As per the 2018 recommendation by the NIC to the Gov, they suggest that RE + storage may be a cheaper option than nuclear. But if you add storage costs to nuclear ....... well, it just gets silly.

    For a nuclear only option (to fairly compare it to RE), then you would need vastly more storage, as seasonal storage would be needed to time shift summer excess to winter. Whereas RE, with a wind/winter weighting 'only' requires large scale/longer term storage to meet a shortfall over two to three weeks. That smaller scale of storage, would also see more than one cycle a year improving its economics.

    In reality, for the small percentage of countries that have nuclear, it's more common to suggest levels of generation that are quite small, and then 'hide' it as baseload. This seems to suggest that if generation is greater than demand, but demand is greater than nuclear, then the nuclear doesn't need storage, the RE does.  ;)
    I always think the generation charts with the nuclear area at the bottom is too blame.  If you stacked the areas with nuclear at the top then it would look like nuclear not being able to demand follow (at sensible cost) was a problem - showing it at the bottom suggests 24/7 constant generation is never a problem as it is always below demand....
    I think....
  • QrizB
    QrizB Posts: 13,822 Forumite
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    ABrass said:
    The only interesting bit is the claim that you save money on fuel if you curtail nuclear power, which I didn't think was true.
    It is true, but the fuel cost is low, and potential savings are small.  Half a penny per kWh in 2014 (if I had a bit more time I'd find a more recent number).

    N. Hampshire, he/him. Octopus Go elec & Tracker gas / Shell BB / Lyca mobi. Ripple Kirk Hill member.
    2.72kWp PV facing SSW installed Jan 2012. 11 x 247w panels, 3.6kw inverter. 30MWh generated, long-term average 2.6 Os.
    Taking a break, hope to be back eventually.
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  • zeupater
    zeupater Posts: 5,358 Forumite
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    edited 1 November 2023 at 5:09PM
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    ABrass said:
    You're right that nuclear has a low marginal cost for fuel. It doesn't matter if the reactor is at 50% or 100%, it costs the same to run and the power just costs twice as much.

    So using nuclear to load follow is incredibly expensive. We'd end up building the same intraday storage for renewables again, as we did with Dinorwig pumped hydro to deal with inflexible nuclear and coal.
    Hi
    As we all know (or should do by now!), Dynorwig boils down to a pretty huge generator set coupled to a teeny, weeny battery (~9 Megalitres water) which was effectively designed to partly address the evening peak demand when consumers in the served area were making a cuppa-tea and settling down to watch Coronation Street ... no more, no less ...
    It's definitely not inter-seasonal and by no means even intraday .... in order to improve on the idea to a scale where it would even be considered as being 'intraday' or having a potential to be considered to be any type of strategic resource, you'd need to expand the storage to somewhere approaching the water volume of the Elan Valley system, so ~100,000 Megalitres.
    The original idea of utilising pumped storage in this area was to partially soak up excess overnight nuclear generation for the local Trawsfynned (~15miles) & Wylfa (~25miles) power stations. However, where Dynorwig's location and capacity is potentially useful is due to it's proximity to the sea and the massive tidal flow potential of the Menai Strait (~7miles) in order to cover for slack tide conditions .... perfect location, perfect synergy, joined-up-thinking!! ....
    ... now all we need is a large tidal flow flow scheme to capture the vast generation potential of the natural Menai Strait resource and we're logically on our way to a a well balanced winner .... but then again, who takes time to think logically ???
    HTH - Z ... :*
    "We are what we repeatedly do, excellence then is not an act, but a habit. " ...... Aristotle
    B)
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