THE VAGARIES OF SOLAR IN NEW ENGLAND

Highly subsidized, expensive, variable, intermittent solar dozes off in late afternoon/early evening, sleeps all night, and does not wake up until about mid-morning the next day, becomes wildly active around midday creating DUCK curves, especially on sunny days, then dozes off again in late afternoon.

Duck Curves in Vermont

 

VELCO, Inc., is the manager of the Vermont high voltage grid.

The below graph shows the grid load (electricity fed to grid) on an overcast day (blue line) and a sunny day (red line).

 

The grid load difference between an overcast day (small Duck) and a sunny day (big Duck), due to solar generation, was about 236 MW, about a 236/655 = 36% drop, which is far from trivial.

NOTE: The installed solar capacity of 306.30 MW ac, or 369.04 MW dc, at end 2018, could have had a peak output of about 290 MW at 2 pm, i.e., the grid load, without solar, would have about 680 MW. See URLs and below graph

 

http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/vermont-solar-market-pa...

https://www.iso-ne.com/static-assets/documents/2019/04/final-2019-p...

Out-of-State Generators Managing Duck Curves

Vermont is very fortunate, because the owners of traditional generators (mostly gas turbines), not located in Vermont, as a courtesy, reduce their outputs, sell less electricity, have less revenues from 7 am to 2:30 pm, and then have to increase their outputs, because solar is starting to doze off.

 

Such operation of gas turbines is less efficient, i.e., more fuel per kWh, more CO2 per kWh, more wear and tear of equipment, just as with a gasoline vehicle, i.e., solar is causing other generators to emit more CO2! The more solar, the more that effect.

 

I am surprised owners of gas turbine plants are not complaining about their losses.

 

In any case, these losses would not be charged to solar system owners.

 

They would be charged to ratepayers, taxpayers and added to government debt.

 

Electricity Storage Systems to Support Solar

 

The VELCO graph would have been more useful/educational, if it had shown the load curves without any solar generation. VELCO could have easily calculated such a graph, because solar generation can be calculated from 1) installed capacity, 2) weather data and 3) past performance, and 4) losses due to transmission and distribution. The graph would show two blue lines and two red lines, and their peak demands likely would be earlier than with solar.

 

With that information storage capacity, MWh, could be estimated for storing a quantity of solar electricity during midday for use by ratepayers during late-afternoon/early-evening, after accounting for about 15% of losses for any electricity passing through the batteries.

 

However, there are significant CO2 emissions, if going the solar/battery combo route, on a lifetime, A to Z basis. Usually that is not mentioned, or quantified, in spreadsheet format, and thus legislators, and lay public, have no idea. Ignorance is bliss or self-deception, your choice.

 

NOTE: The storage capacity would be needed, only if traditional gas turbine generators were arbitrarily/politically shut down to reduce CO2, to “save the world from climate damage”.

Capital Costs for Storage Systems

Current capital costs for engineered, turnkey storage systems in New England are at least $500/kWh, ac to ac basis. These are systems with a life of about 15 years, i.e., most of the capital cost would repeat every 15 years.

 

There are hopes turnkey capital costs of engineered, turnkey systems may decrease to, say $200/kWh in New England, but those prices likely would not happen anytime soon.

 

With existing installed solar capacity, about 438.84 MW dc, at end 2019, Vermont would need several thousand MWh of storage for electricity shifting from midday to late-afternoon/early-evening.

With planned future installed solar of 2500 to 3000 MW dc at end 2050, that storage capacity would increase 6-fold or more.

 

NOTE: If there would be insufficient capacity, MW, of traditional generators to deal with the midday Duck curves, various storage systems would be need to absorb the midday surge of solar and release it in late-afternoon/early-evening to serve peak demand.

 

NOTE: The tiny squiggles of the blue- and red lines are due to users turning on and off electrical equipment.


Multi-Day Wind/Solar Lulls 

Sometimes wind/solar lulls occur lasting 5 to 7 days, when their combined output is less than 15% of normal. Such lulls occur at random throughout the year in Vermont, and all of NE (and in Germany, the UK, etc.).

 

If solar and wind were each 22.5% of annual supply to the grid by 2025, and suddenly both would be just 0.15 x 45 = 6.75%, where would the other 38.25% come from for SIX DAYS? See Note.

 

Here is an example of a 6-day summer lull.

http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/analysis-of-a-6-day-lul...

 

Here is an example of a multi-day winter lull.

https://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/wind-plus-solar-plus-s...

 

- Storage systems? The costs likely would be charged, not to solar system owners, but to ratepayers, taxpayers and added to government debt.

- Standby traditional plants? The costs to have them fueled, staffed, in good working order, ready to operate, likely would be charged, not to solar system owners, but to ratepayers, taxpayers and added to government debt.

 

Solar is merely a “high-maintenance” cripple. It could not exist on the grid without major grid support.

Solar needs high subsidies to make it appear less costly than in reality, i.e., subsidies and cost shifting to reduce its cost/kWh

http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/cost-shifting-is-the-na...

 

Solar and Wind Complementing Each Other in New England?

Solar may be 30% in summer, and 15% in winter, on average

Wind may be 15% in winter, and 30% in winter, on average

Naïve RE people look at this, and conclude solar and wind “nicely complement” each other, which to energy systems analysts is pure nonsense.

How could non-existent solar at night in winter “nicely complement” wind at night in winter?

And how would that happen during a 5 to 7-day wind/solar lull?

Would such people be part of the “Council of Wise Men”? See URL

https://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/the-global-warming-sol...

 

Table 2 shows the prices of solar, before and after subsidies, and before and after cost shifting, in sun-starved New England.

 

Table 2/Vermont & NE sources

Total

Grid support*

Subsidies

Paid to

GMP

 Added to

cost

cost

to owner

owner

adder

rate base

c/kWh

c/kWh

c/kWh

c/kWh

c/kWh

c/kWh

Solar, residential rooftop, net-metered

25.5

2.1

5.4

18.0

3.8

21.8

Solar, com’l/ind’l, legacy, standard offer

34.4

2.1

10.5

21.8

?

21.8

Solar, com’l/ind’l, new, standard offer*

23.5

2.1

9.6

11.8

?

11.8

Wind, ridge line, new*

18.8

2.4

7.4

9.0

?

9.0

 

* Grid support includes FORTRESS VERMONT grid extension/augmentation, storage to deal with DUCK curves, curtailment payments to solar system owners, traditional generators (mostly gas turbines) counteracting solar output variations, etc.

* Competitive bidding reduced prices paid to owner from 24 – 30 c/kWh to about 11.8 c/kWh

http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/fortress-vermont-a-mult...

 

APPENDIX 1

Wind and Solar Conditions in New England are Mediocre 

New England has highly variable weather and low-medium quality wind and solar conditions. See NREL wind map and NREL solar map.

 

https://www.nrel.gov/gis/images/100m_wind/awstwspd100onoff3-1.jpg

https://www.nrel.gov/gis/images/solar/national_photovoltaic_2009-01...

 

Wind:

- Wind electricity is zero about 30% of the hours of the year (it takes a wind speed of about 7 mph to start the rotors)

- Wind is minimal most early mornings and most late afternoons/early evenings (peak demand hours), especially during summer

- Wind often is minimal 5 - 7 days in a row in summer and winter, as proven by ISO-NE real-time generation data.

http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/daily-shifting-of-wind-...

- About 60% is generated at night, when demand is much less than during the late afternoons/early evenings

- About 60% is generated in winter.

- During winter, the best wind month is up to 2.5 times the worst summer month

- New England has the lowest capacity factor (about 0.262) of any US region, except the US South. See URL.

https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=20112

 

Solar:

- Solar electricity is strictly a midday affair.

- It is zero about 65% of the hours of the year, mostly at night.

- It often is minimal 5 - 7 days in a row in summer and in winter, as proven by ISO-NE real-time generation data.

http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/daily-shifting-of-wind-...

- It is minimal early mornings and late afternoons/early evenings

- It is minimal much of the winter months

- It is minimal for several days with snow and ice on most of the panels.

- It varies with variable cloudiness, which would excessively disturb distribution grids with many solar systems, as happens in southern California and southern Germany on a daily basis. Utilities use batteries to stabilize their grids.

- During summer, the best solar month is up to 4 times the worst winter month; that ratio is 6 in Germany.

- New England has the lowest capacity factor (about 0.145, under ideal conditions) of any region in the US, except some parts of the US Northwest.

 

NOTE: Even if the NE grid had large capacity connections with Canada and New York, any major NE wind lull and any major NE snowfall likely would affect the entire US northeast, i.e., relying on neighboring grids to "help-out" likely would not be prudent strategy.

 

Wind Plus Solar: 

ISO-NE publishes the minute-by-minute outputs off various energy sources contributing their electricity to the grid.

All one has to do is add the wind and solar and one comes rapidly to the conclusion both are minimal many hours of the year, at any time during the year.

 

Wind plus solar production could be minimal for 5 - 7 days in summer and in winter, especially with snow and ice on most of the panels, as frequently happens during December, January and February, as proven by ISO-NE real-time generation data.

http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/daily-shifting-of-wind-...

 

If we were to rely on wind and solar for most of our electricity, massive energy storage systems (a few hundred GWh-scale for Vermont, multiple TWh-scale for NE) would be required to cover multi-day wind lulls, multi-day overcast/snowy periods, and seasonal variations. See URLs.

 

Wind and solar cannot ever be expected to charge New England’s EVs, so people can get to work the next day, unless backed up by several TWh of storage, because wind/solar lulls can occur for 5 - 7 days in a row, in summer and in winter. BTW, the turnkey capital cost of one TWH of storage (delivered as AC to the grid) is about $400 billion.

 

http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/wind-and-solar-energy-l...

http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/vermont-example-of-elec...

http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/seasonal-pumped-hydro-s...

http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/electricity-storage-to-...

http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/pumped-storage-hydro-in...

http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/wind-and-solar-hype-ver...

 

Shortcomings of Wind and Solar

 

Variable and intermittent wind and solar electricity cannot exist on any electric grid without the traditional, dispatchable generators performing the peaking, filling-in and balancing. Battery systems could be used, but the battery system turnkey capital cost would be about $400/kWh, based on AC electricity delivered to the high voltage grid. See Note.

http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/wind-and-solar-hype-ver...

 

APPENDIX 2

Highly Sealed, Highly Insulated House

In 2008, Transformations Inc., Townsend, MA, was chosen among six builders to participate in the state’s investor-owned utilities Zero Energy Challenge, a competition to encourage builders to plan and develop a home with a HERS Index below 35 before December 2009.

 

Carter Scott, President of Transformations, Inc. brought together a team of design and energy experts to not only meet the challenge, but to figure out how to get all the way to zero, while still building an affordable, new house. The team designed a three-bedroom 1,232-sq ft house, called the “Needham," which has a “- 4” HERS rating, i.e., the house produces more energy than it is using. Sales price: $195,200 in 2009

https://www.buildingscience.com/sites/default/files/2011-03-08%20NE...

 

Major Design Features:

 

Roof (R75): 5 inches of high-density polyurethane foam, HDF, and 13 inches of high-density cellulose all along the slope of the second-floor roof rafters; 2 x 12s and a 2 x 4s held off by 3 inches for a thermal break separation 
Walls (R49): 2 x 4 outside wall; added a second 2 x 4 wall for a total depth of 12 inches; filled 3 inches with HDF and 9 inches with cellulose 
Basement Ceiling: 3 inches of HDF and a layer of R-30 fiberglass batts 
Windows: Paradigm triple-pane model with Low-E and krypton gas 
Heating/Cooling: Two Mitsubishi Mr. Slim mini-split, ductless, ASHPs

Ventilation: Lifebreath 155 ECM Energy Recovery Ventilator 

Leakage: About 175 cfm at 50 pascal, per blower door test (or 284 cfm for a 2000 sq ft house. See table 8)
Solar: Evergreen Solar’s 30 Spruce Line 190-watt PV panels to create a 6.4-kW system;

Hot Water: SunDrum Solar’s DHW heating system

Heat Loss: About 10,500 Btu/h, at 70F indoor, 6F outdoor (or 2000/1232 x 75 delta T/64 delta T x 10500 = 19,975 Btu/h for a 2000 sq ft house, at 65F indoor and -10F outdoor, in Vermont)

 

APPENDIX 3

Weatherizing Housing Units Reduces Minimal CO2 at High Cost

 

In 2017, about 2012 housing units were weatherized, for about $20 million, about $10,000/unit.

CO2 reduction about 6 million lb/y, or 2716 Mt/y.

 

Assuming the older houses would last another 30 years, the CO2 reduction cost would be $19.75 million/(2716 Mt/y x 30y) = $242/Mt, which is high. See URL, page 30

https://legislature.vermont.gov/assets/Legislative-Reports/Annual-2...

  

Because these units had an average fuel use reduction of 23%, does not mean they are out of energy-hog territory, i.e., they likely would still not be sufficiently energy-efficient for 100% space heating with ASHPs.

 

The rate of weatherizing is far too slow, and not "deep" enough, for the CEP 63% goal of space heating of all buildings using only ASHPs. See table 3

 

A new approach, hopefully not involving government and Efficiency Vermont, is needed.

 

1) Entire neighborhoods, with old houses, would need to be leveled for replacement with modern Passivhaus buildings.

2) A new statewide, enforced, building code is required. See URL.

http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/cost-savings-of-air-sou...

 

Table 3/Weatherized housing units

2012

Average fuel use reduction, %

23

Cost, subsidies, $

11,083,404

Cost, owners, $

8,666,786

Total cost, $

19,750,190

Cost/unit, $

9816

.

CO2 reduction, lb

5,988,367

CO2 reduction, Mt/y

2716

CO2 reduction, $/Mt, based on 30-y life

242

 

APPENDIX 4

Table 4 shows space heat energy sources of Vermont houses, per CEP.

 

The CEP goal of 63% of buildings having ASHPs for space heat and DHW could be achieved, if buildings were highly sealed and highly insulated. Such buildings would have very low energy use that could be economically provided 100% by ASHPs, even with the cost of amortizing the ASHPs over 15 years.

 

An average Vermont free-standing house is nowhere near where it needs to be regarding economic heating 100% with ASHPs, even after standardized weatherizing.

 

An average Vermont free-standing house, with an ASHP, would displace only 27.6% of the traditional fuel, per CADMUS report. Standardized weatherizing might increase that percentage to about 35%.

See table 5, and example of energy-efficient house in Appendix.

 

Table 4/Housing units

Existing

Future, per CEP

Source

Description

Units

Source

%

Units

Cordwood/pellets

Primary fuel for space heat

65,000

Cordwood/pellets/biofuels

34

90,100

No. 2 fuel oil, propane or natural gas 

Primary fuel for space heat

190,000

ASHPs

63

166,950

Electricity

Primary energy for space heat

10,000

Fossil

3

7,950

Total

265,000

100

265,000

 

About 88,000 of Vermont's 100,000 free-standing houses, and about 59,000 of Vermont’s 66,950 apartments, condos, etc., are economically unsuitable for 100% space heat from ASHPs.

 

Only well-sealed/well-insulated, highly sealed/highly insulated and Passivhaus-style houses are economically suitable for 100% space heat from ASHPs

http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/air-source-heat-pumps-a...

  

Table 5/Vermont

Built

Area

Htg. Demand

Pk. Demand *

Times

Air Leak

ACH

Unsuitable for ASHPs

%

ft2

(Btu/h)/ft2

Btu/h at -10F 

Passiv

ft3/min

@ -50 pascal

Typical older house

1750 - 1990

68.4

2000

40.0

80,000

12.6

2667

10.0

Newer house

1990 - 2000

10.0

2000

24.0

48,000

7.6

1600

6.0

Newer house

2000 - 2012

10.0

2000

20.0

40,000

6.3

1867

7.0

Suitable for ASHPs

WS/WI house * 

2012 - 2021

10.0

2000

15.0

30,000

4.7

800

<3.0

HS/HI house * 

2000 - present

1.5

2000

10.0

20,000

3.0

400

<1.5

Passivhaus*

1985 - present

0.1

2000

3.2

6,348

1.0

160

<0.6

100.0

*

- WS/WI = well-sealed/well-insulated

- HS/Hi = highly sealed/highly insulated

- Winter 99% design temperature: The outdoor air where you live will be colder than this temperature for 1% of the hours of a year (88 h), based on a 30-year average; that temperature is -10F in Vermont. See URL, page 112

https://www.energystar.gov/ia/partners/bldrs_lenders_raters/downloa...

- These leakage rates would be significantly less at lesser pressures. A whole-house ventilation system with heat-recovery ventilator, HRV, would be required.

 

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Hannah Pingree on the Maine expedited wind law

Hannah Pingree - Director of Maine's Office of Innovation and the Future

"Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine."

https://pinetreewatch.org/wind-power-bandwagon-hits-bumps-in-the-road-3/

 

Maine as Third World Country:

CMP Transmission Rate Skyrockets 19.6% Due to Wind Power

 

Click here to read how the Maine ratepayer has been sold down the river by the Angus King cabal.

Maine Center For Public Interest Reporting – Three Part Series: A CRITICAL LOOK AT MAINE’S WIND ACT

******** IF LINKS BELOW DON'T WORK, GOOGLE THEM*********

(excerpts) From Part 1 – On Maine’s Wind Law “Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine if the law’s goals were met." . – Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, August 2010 https://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/wind-power-bandwagon-hits-bumps-in-the-road-3/From Part 2 – On Wind and Oil Yet using wind energy doesn’t lower dependence on imported foreign oil. That’s because the majority of imported oil in Maine is used for heating and transportation. And switching our dependence from foreign oil to Maine-produced electricity isn’t likely to happen very soon, says Bartlett. “Right now, people can’t switch to electric cars and heating – if they did, we’d be in trouble.” So was one of the fundamental premises of the task force false, or at least misleading?" https://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/wind-swept-task-force-set-the-rules/From Part 3 – On Wind-Required New Transmission Lines Finally, the building of enormous, high-voltage transmission lines that the regional electricity system operator says are required to move substantial amounts of wind power to markets south of Maine was never even discussed by the task force – an omission that Mills said will come to haunt the state.“If you try to put 2,500 or 3,000 megawatts in northern or eastern Maine – oh, my god, try to build the transmission!” said Mills. “It’s not just the towers, it’s the lines – that’s when I begin to think that the goal is a little farfetched.” https://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/flaws-in-bill-like-skating-with-dull-skates/

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