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Hawaii, California charge towards 100% renewable energy

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Hawaii and California took major steps towards 100 per cent renewable energy in the last few days in two initiatives that will demonstrate that high levels of renewable energy is indeed suitable for major economies.

Hawaii’s target, which the local utility says can be met by 2040, is interesting because it is an isolated grid, or rather a series of five isolated island grids. The significance of California’s push is the scale of its economy – it is ranked the fifth or sixth biggest economy in the world: So if it can be done there ….

And it is also significant because while the Trump administration continues to push back against renewables, and promises to revive the coal industry, towns, cities and states are heading in the opposite direction. And one is on the right side of history, and costs, and it ain’t the Trump administration.

The Hawaii initiative took a major step forward last week when the Hawaiian Public Utilities Commission endorsed the plan laid out by the local utility, Hawaiian Electric, which says it can reach 100 per cent renewable energy five years ahead of the mandated target set by the state legislature.

2017-21 renewable energy additions table

The first step is to take the island of Molokai to 100 per cent renewables by 2020. It says this will then serve as a blueprint for the rest of the state and “help us obtain real world experience in running an island grid with 100 per cent renewables.”

The official target is to get the whole state to 40 per cent renewables by 2030, but Hawaii Electric says it will be at 48 per cent by 2020, and 72 per cent by 2030.

2020 goal table

The utility’s enthusiasm to accelerate the renewable plans, rather than holding them back,  is yet another sign that the reins of this transition are now being seized by the energy networks themselves.

In Australia there are signs of the same shift. Transgrid, the major transmission company, said last week that 100 per cent renewable energy is both feasible and affordable. Numerous other networks are talking openly of grids with high renewable penetration – as a good thing – and renewables-baed micrograms to cut costs.

In the political arena though, progress is stymied by comments from the likes of prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, in playing to the right wing, who suggest even the 42 per cent renewable targets contemplated by Dr Alan Finkel’s energy blueprint are “reckless”.

This from a man who once openly endorsed 100 per cent renewable scenarios and who has gone a fair way down the track with a large installation of solar and storage in his Point Piper home.

The California target is being driven by governor Jerry Brown. Last week, the California Utilities and Energy Committee approved a bill called SB100, which would increase California’s current renewable portfolio standard to 60 per cent by 2030 and establish a goal of meeting 100 per cent renewable energy by 2045.

The US web site Utility Dive notes that this makes California the second state, after Hawaii to strive for 100 per cent renewables. But unlike Hawaii, California’s 100 per cent renewable energy goal is not a mandate.

It said that while the move to 100 per cent renewables in a state with a strong oil industry would be complex, eight California cities already pledged to transition to 100 per cent renewable energy, and consumers are clamoring for cleaner energy by defecting to community choice aggregation programs.

Last month, Utility Dive noted, Santa Barbara became the 37th city in the United States to adopt the 100 per cent renewable energy goal with a target date set for 2030.

Interestingly, Hawaii Electric has dumped plans to use gas-fired generation as an interim measure, and has also rejected proposals to link the islands with transmission cable, saying they are not necessary and their benefits are not clear.

“Achieving the groundbreaking 100 per cent goal will require …. our entire community working together to make the difficult decisions needed to achieve this clean energy future for our state,” it says in its blueprint.

“All stakeholders—policymakers, government agencies, customers, and private organizations with interests in energy, transportation, agriculture, water use and land use—need to be involved in developing and executing clear policies to guide our choices.

“Increased energy efficiency, the willingness of communities to accept projects, supportive and adaptive public policies, and partnerships to take advantage of new and improved technology are critical. All of us must support the vision of a future without fossil fuels.”

The capacity of solar on the islands will more than double to 1,465MW and energy storage and demand response will also play a big role, with 165,000 private energy storage systems linked by 2030 to provide backup for individual homes and the grid as a whole.

Hawaii Electric said it will retain flexibility in the design of its 100 per cent renewable energy grid to ensure that “today’s choices don’t crowd out future technology and potentially lower pricing”, which it said is imperative to preserve the ability to achieve Hawai‘i’s clean energy goals at reasonable costs for customers.

It said the 100 per cent renewable grid would also provide a solid foundation for the electrification of transportation, including electric vehicles, docks, airports, and warehouses as well as possible hydrogen fuel cell alternatives, reducing further the use of fossil fuels for ground transportation.

“And again applying a bigger picture view, electrification of transportation can also help integrate more renewable energy, lower total energy costs for customers, and contribute to a lower carbon footprint,” it says.

“Electrification of transportation can also influence the sizing of customer-owned generation to recharge batteries and will also increase the opportunity for greater demand response resources to offset utility investments in storage or generation that would otherwise be needed.”

  

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  • Ken Dyer

    Major superannuation funds are offering investment options in sectors such as global environmental opportunities that are returning upwards of 20%. If super funds are doing this, and getting the returns, that is who I will take notice of, not some poncey millionaire politician.

  • mitwit

    Great! Let the 50 States do their own experiments. And the US Government and taxpayers dont need to give billions to China and India! Trump was right!

    • onesecond

      Ignoring him proves him right? What kind of logic is this?

      • John Norris

        The mantra of the right wing is to deconstruct the federal government and to get the feds out of energy research and subsidies (unless for fossil fuels). So HA, CA going 100% renewable proves Trump right in the sense that it shows federal subsidies are no longer required.

        Just think how much faster it could happen though if the feds were still on board? And/or maybe mitwit was being sarcastic?

        • onesecond

          I really don’t know how anyone could write such nonsense like mitwit without being sarcastic. The federal energy policies and research programmes for renewables have been tremendously helpful.

          • mitwit

            No sarcasm…one and John. Did I say anything about current or past Federal Programs…no. I mentioned the $Billions the O administration wanted to send to China and India. The guidelines that are the Paris Accord aren’t law…no Senate approval…or mandatory. Everyone wants what they think is best for the country/planet…even Trump and Republicans. I see waters rising and agree the climate is changing. But with the altered data sets at the core of the apocalyptic model projections, with little to no discussion of subjects like the solar minimum, deforestation in The Amazon and Asia, the tons of concrete making worldwide cities massive heat sinks…I remain sceptical of mans CO2 emissions as the only or even the major culprit. So let the States and other Countries do what they can without US Federal taxpayer money to waste and put in their own pockets. Today’s belief that only Federal programs and money can get things done will be the downfall of the USA…as JFK said…”ask not what your country can do for you”… He could never get elected today with a speech like that!

          • Alastair Leith

            Trump’s nothing more than a kleptomaniac who consistently lies to he public and shows complete disregard for the wellbeing of the very people he is President of. What he wants and what he tweets are two very different things.

            Which is a good example psychopathic behaviour.

          • Alastair Leith

            If you were skeptical you would read the science and satisfy yourself that all the denialist talking points you raise have been thoroughly debunked in the literature. Go to skepticalscience.com and check out all the science only responses to your misguided hypotheses.

          • Alastair Leith

            So why is it okay or fossil fuels and the declining nuclear industry to continue to pull subsidies from he federal government in your work view? They dwarf the money that has gone to renewables, which is 2% of that which has gone to ffs and nuclear. Once you take the cost of fossils into account on health alone it is an industry that just need I end ASAP. Coal accounts for 51,899 deaths a year in USA. Replacing coal with PV would save those lives. What’s the cost you ask? Actually it’s a negative cost, it could happen for negative 2-3million dollars per death!

          • Ian

            Power generation produces two types of power: 1 Electricity measured in MW etc and 2 Political power measured in jobs, lobbying influence etc. It’s only a matter of time that the installed capacity of wind and solar reaches a critical political mass to overshadow FF’s influence. At that point fossil fuel electricity generation will just fade away.

          • metro70

            If you’re talking about solar PV in homes, you foreshadow all of Australia’s children living 24/7 in a power generator with transformers ..inverters…batteries etc…exposing them to unnecessary EXTRA EMF…likewise in electric cars. I wouldn’t be prepared to do that…even though there’s a lot of other exposure…it’s just too relentless….and unnecessary.

            There’s a lot of talk about shields but as far as I know nothing but DISTANCE or cancellation measures as in ABC cable will protect against EMF.

          • Alastair Leith

            Tin foil hats will be available at all leading supermarkets! Apart from that there are all kinds of shields available. Just putting HV lines underground eliminates the EMF. But screaming EMF everywhere is about as rational as climate change denial. See ya.

          • onesecond

            The sheer arrogance of people to believe they know better than tens of thousands of scientists from all around the world working for decades on actual research with actual results that already looked in every possible factor of earth’s climate in excruciating detail is truly mindboggling. How anyone can be so utterly stupid is beyond me. Extreme stupidity coupled with the arrogance of knowing nothing is all that Trump can offer, which only leads likeminded people to rally around him which obviously can’t and won’t lead to anything good, sensible or productive. In a more educated society this would not be possible and a it clearly shows the downfall of the US and the end of the leading role of the US on the world stage.

          • metro70

            All those things you said the warmist scientists did ….they DIDN”T do.
            They declared their ‘consensus’ the ‘science closed’ decades ago before the most important aspects of climate science had even been researched.

            They shut down questioning and closed the shop against any dissenting scientists before clouds and their feedback had ever been studied…before the temperature of oceans that comprise 70% of the earth system could be reliably measured…which didn’t happen till the advent of the ARGO Float system in 2005…at which point they found the oceans hadn’t significantly warmed.

            For CAGW to be true the oceans must warm considerably…and they are not.

            How could we have CAGW when 70% of the earth system hasn’t warmed significantly?

            And the warming trend warmists claim in OHC would have begun when measurement of ocean heat was taken by dipping buckets into the water off ships…how could that possibly be scientific when the differences they’re dealing with are tiny fractions of a degree….and when the END of the trend is much more precise than the beginning.

            Clouds may be THE most important driver of the earth’s climate and yet it still hasn’t been fully researched…the feedback mechanisms and the impacts of cosmic radiation and cloud effects on the albedo etc are still not known…and yet warmists are willing to risk destroying Australia on the strength of the corruption-riven global juggernaut run by tree-huggers….not by scientists.

          • onesecond

            Of course it has been researched, read some papers in climate science ffs.

        • mitwit

          John, when was the last time Federal involvement made anything faster, better or more efficient.

          • Alastair Leith

            What did the Romans ever do for us

          • neroden

            Um, last year?

    • nakedChimp

      You’re a hoot and a half.

      Thanks for the chuckle.

  • Just_Chris

    Just out of interest what is the price of power in Hawaii? Bet you the retail price is much lower than SA and Qld

    • juxx0r

      USD $0.33/kwh

      • GregS

        That’s the same number I came up with. At that rate you would think people would switch to solar+storage

        • neroden

          They are, as fast as they can get permits to do so

  • Ian

    As Hawaii’s fossil fuel bill drops, it will have more revenue circulating on the islands and less haemorrhaging off shore, this will have the affect of increasing general wealth and wellbeing of that community. They will be able to afford to electrify transportation and thus integrate the electricity sector with the transportation sector of their economy. This will create a Gestalt synergy – spare free solar energy powering motor vehicles and spare EV battery storage time-shifting renewables generation to match electricity consumption.

    • Rob G

      Hawaii are talking about a paying basic wage for all. Seems renewable advantage can feed into other sections of social wellbeing and progress. savings made for a greater good.

  • An Open Letter To – the California Energy Commission
    CC – Scottish Ministers

    California Energy Storage – Folsom Lake Lake Tahoe, example Pumped Storage Hydro Scheme

    In response to your news release “Energy Commission Chair Releases Letter Urging the Future Closure of Aliso Canyon”

    I do believe that I can offer the California Energy Commission a plan to provide for all of California’s energy storage needs.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7e721f487d2b45155f26a5333c0d786ddeca76262db9eb339b12ad54cf59a3ce.jpg

    My image “Folsom Lake Lake Tahoe – Pumped Storage Hydro Scheme” (embedded and attached) illustrates by example that building new pumped-storage hydro schemes in California can store 4 TWh (equivalently 4,000 GWh or 4,000,000 MWh of electrical energy) using engineering methods already well developed in California, for example at the Helms Pumped Storage Plant, in Fresno County.

    Pumped storage hydro is not rocket science; it is engineering that is for the purpose of storing energy for the electrical grid, much more useful than rocket science, or indeed, more useful than electrical vehicle battery science, which is too costly for storing the vast amounts of energy which must be stored for the grid.

    I understand that

    “Before its closure in January 2016, Aliso Canyon was a critical source of fuel for power plants providing nearly 10,000 megawatts of peak capacity in the Los Angeles Basin.”

    I calculate that such a pumped-storage hydro energy storage capacity of 4,000,000 MWh could supply the equivalent power of Aliso Canyon-fuelled gas-power plants, namely 10,000 MW for (4,000,000 / 10,000) = 400 hours = 16 days 16 hours.

    Such an energy store could also supply 20,000 MW for 8 days 8 hours or 40,000 MW for 4 days 4 hours or even 80,000 MW for 2 days 2 hours, all of which could be very useful in future to balance intermittent renewable energy generation from solar and wind power and to guarantee that California could be powered on demand by 100% renewable energy.

    Such an energy store could be charged full using solar and wind farm power, assuming a regeneration efficiency of 75%, at an average charging rate of 10,000 MW in 22.2 days, or of 5,000 MW in 44.4 days or of 2,500 MW in 88.8 days.

    So if California builds such pumped-storage hydro schemes and the solar and wind farms to recharge them, then California can choose to close Aliso Canyon with no worries that California’s peak power requirements can be easily met.

    I publish on the internet anonymously as “Scottish Scientist” and whilst I prefer to remain anonymous for now, I hope that you can trust that I do write to you in the friendly and helpful spirit of the agreement signed between Governor Brown and First Minister Sturgeon of Scotland.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7cad8896905e3e68c0f0cca1eb8469905b4175bc46ac2e69804e04049a1d9d95.jpg

    BBC – “Sturgeon signs climate agreement with California”
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-39485807

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7c8d3bfd5fc023f8ca929e55c9c2088eba9e8c304dfcbaf428bce366c73ece88.jpg

    Yours sincerely,
    Scottish Scientist
    Independent Scientific Adviser for Scotland
    https://scottishscientist.wordpress.com/

    * Wind, storage and back-up system designer
    * Double Tidal Lagoon Baseload Scheme
    * Off-Shore Electricity from Wind, Solar and Hydrogen Power
    * World’s biggest-ever pumped-storage hydro-scheme, for Scotland?
    * Modelling of wind and pumped-storage power
    * Scotland Electricity Generation – my plan for 2020
    * South America – GREAT for Renewable Energy
    ….

    • Alastair Leith

      You can’t be serious? 1755 meter head is impressive, but over a 90 km run provides a angle of incidence to the horizontal of 1.1º!! This is not a steep incline. We’ve discussed this before, you need to have as close to vertical as possible to avoid losing energy to friction, and to reduce the capex of the pipes, but mostly it’s about minimising the loss of kinetic energy to friction.

      • You can’t be serious?

        I am serious about something but you don’t understand what it is I am serious about.

        1755 meter head is impressive, but over a 90 km run provides a angle of incidence to the horizontal of 1.1º!! This is not a steep incline.

        Correct.

        We’ve discussed this before,

        No Alastair. We’ve mentioned it in passing without discussing all of the issues in detail, to the extent that you need to, before you should expect to understand me or what I am proposing. You stopped replying to my replies to you, which I took to mean that you wished to discontinue the discussion with me. Do you even bother to check your notifications on Disqus, to see if and when you have a new reply from me, to see if it is your turn to reply to me?

        Did you remember reading this in a reply from me?

        MOVING WATER OVER GRADUAL SLOPES FOR PUMPED-STORAGE HYDRO SCHEMES using a STEPPED CANAL and ARCHIMEDEAN SCREW PUMP-TURBINES

        https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c77d5da8a7c65fa76431cdaaf2818c90d36a943045d3ace3b7e90d7160152225.jpg

        If so you didn’t reply to continue the discussion. Why not?

        Do you remember reading this in a reply from me?

        A lower pond much closer to a mountain range could be filled from the ocean with sea water by a canal or pipe I suppose. Would much improve performance.

        I designed in a 30km canal route for my STRATHDEARN PUMPED-STORAGE HYDRO SCHEME (up to 180 GW / 6,800 GWh)
        World’s biggest-ever pumped-storage hydro-scheme, for Scotland? https://scottishscientist.wordpress.com/2015/04/15/worlds-biggest-ever-pumped-storage-hydro-scheme-for-scotland/
        https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/8979a5ce01b0f8c0c2fc3a40747196abdda8f18f0b7468c77082269671adee58.jpg

        If so you didn’t reply to continue the discussion. Why not?

        Did you even bother to read the detail of the canal efficiency in my Strathdearn Pumped-Storage Hydro Scheme?

        Well? Can you remember the hydroelectric head loss in the canal over 30 km?

        I’ll do you a copy and paste but you really ought to read it on my blog post.
        https://scottishscientist.wordpress.com/2015/04/15/worlds-biggest-ever-pumped-storage-hydro-scheme-for-scotland/

        CANAL EFFICIENCY

        To improve the power canal’s energy efficiency requires designing for a slower maximum flow velocity which requires a wider moving and static width of the water surface to maintain the maximum volume flow rate which –

        * increases the canal’s construction costs
        * decreases the canal flow’s hydraulic slope
        * decreases the canal’s 2-way hydraulic head height loss, at most equal to the 30km-2-way-wider-by
        * decreases the canal’s energy loss
        * increases the canal’s energy efficiency

        So a wider canal would be more expensive to build but would be more energy efficient in use, saving energy costs over the longer term. A wider canal also allows for a higher flow rate. For example, 62,000 m3/s – which could be useful to power 159 GW when the reservoir was running low, assuming additional turbines were installed for such a purpose – would require a minimum canal width of 182 metres.

        For a minimum canal width of 170 metres and a flow rate of 51,000 m3/s, implying a maximum flow velocity of 9.8 m/s, the 30km-2-way-wider-by is 11 metres so the maximum 2-way hydraulic head height loss as a proportion of the reservoir operational head heights from 300 to 625 metres would represent an energy loss from 11/625 = 1.8% to 11/300 = 3.7%, averaging presumably somewhere around 11/462 = 2.4%, estimating the power canal to be about 97.6% efficient when operated at full power and even more efficient at reduced power. The follow table indicates how energy efficiency increases with canal width.

        Table of canal efficiency for a flow rate of 51,000 m3/s

        Width (m) 2-way head loss (m) Energy loss Efficiency
        170 11.1 2.4% 97.6%
        180 5.1 1.1% 98.9%
        190 3.3 0.72% 99.3%
        200 2.3 0.51% 99.5%
        210 1.7 0.37% 99.6%
        220 1.3 0.28% 99.7%
        230 1.0 0.22% 99.8%

        So if I can build a canal with a head loss of between 1 and 11.1 metres over 30km then three such canals over 90km would have a head loss of between 3 and 33.3 metres, correct?

        The point is Alastair, one can devise a hydroelectric scheme comprised of steep sections with pipes and flat sections with canals.

        Now do you really want to discuss this properly or are you going to ignore the issues here once again?

        • Alastair Leith

          I can’t see the contours on you map but how do you propose to carve a canal 90km maintaining the level of the lower lake plus 30 metres head. Through a mountain range that is rising some 1700m above the lower pond? The canal has to be able to accomodate major flows of water without a tidal wave getting hold. And draw it back with pumps for charging. I see frictional loses over 90kms on the up journey even if the down can be made close to vertical (still not clear where the fall is to ie where the canal system starts and how far from the dam head it is).

          • I can’t see the contours on you map

            Which “map”? This map?
            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7e721f487d2b45155f26a5333c0d786ddeca76262db9eb339b12ad54cf59a3ce.jpg

            Which “contours”? Elevation contours?

            The elevations in that map are colour-coded, with the colour-to-elevation legend on the left-hand side.

            but how do you propose to carve a canal 90km maintaining the level of the lower lake plus 30 metres head.

            I do not propose to carve one single 90 km canal at one level.

            What I proposed was

            one can devise a hydroelectric scheme comprised of steep sections with pipes and flat sections with canals

            Through a mountain range that is rising some 1700m above the lower pond?

            Well there are an infinite number of possible arrangements.

            For example, the 90km as the crow flies between upper and lower reservoir could be more advantageously traversed by the water of the scheme by designing a route that takes advantage of the topology that may be longer, let’s assume 170km to make the numbers easy – comprising, let’s say again, 10 stages each stage comprising of one canal and one section of steep pipes, each stage which would traverse 17km by canal and drop 170 metres via pipes.

            That’s just one of an infinite variety of selection of length of routes, number of stages and the length and height of each stage, each stage designed to take advantage of the local topography, so as to move water from the upper reservoir to the lower reservoir.

            (still not clear where the fall is to ie where the canal system starts and how far from the dam head it is)

            It would far too much work and premature for me to spend a lot of time scoping the topography to design a route and stages to best suit a Lake Takoe Falsom Lake scheme.

            After all, California, may well decide to build pumped-storage elsewhere than other where I have suggested but nevertheless my concept is worth publishing to explain the principle that I have illustrated here that it is possible to build a big scheme to store a lot of energy by using canals and steep sections with pipes.

            I have provided details for a particular power canal route for my Strathdearn Power Canal, as shown in this map.
            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/8979a5ce01b0f8c0c2fc3a40747196abdda8f18f0b7468c77082269671adee58.jpg

            So if you want to ask a question about where the canal and steep pipe sections might go – ask about my proposed Strathdearn scheme because that’s a scheme I have details for.

            The canal has to be able to accomodate major flows of water without a tidal wave getting hold. And draw it back with pumps for charging.

            There is established engineering practice of canal design, which I used for the design of my Strathdearn power canal, details of which you can read about in my blog post.

            World’s biggest-ever pumped-storage hydro-scheme, for Scotland?
            https://scottishscientist.wordpress.com/2015/04/15/worlds-biggest-ever-pumped-storage-hydro-scheme-for-scotland/

            You can read about power canals here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Power_canal

            A Power Canal refers to a canal used for hydraulic power generation, rather than for transport of watercraft. The power canal was a major factor in the Industrial revolution in New England in the 19th century.

            And there is an example real life power canal in use in California – the Thermalito Power Canal https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oroville-Thermalito_Complex#Thermalito_Power_Canal

            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/800807e7998ede5f8090a1043193e290e264aa3c888bb8c230e15917464d7764.jpg

            So you can investigate the details of that if you still disbelieve the concept of power canals.

        • EdBCN

          It seems like there might be some better places for this sort of thing in California. The east side of the Sierra are a lot steeper.

          The cheapest thing to do might be to greatly enlarge the reservoir at the top of the Grapevine where the California Aqueduct is pumped up, build a new reservoir at the bottom and use the Edmonston Pumping Plant ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edmonston_Pumping_Plant ) two ways. It’s got 1,926′ of head. As well, enlarging any of the reservoirs and hydro system on the other side as it falls back down to LA would make the aqueduct and hydro system that is already mostly in place act like a battery as it is moving water south.

          • It seems like there might be some better places for this sort of thing in California.

            Distinctly possible since I don’t know the geography of California in any detail – only heard about Lake Tahoe a week or so ago before suggesting there.

            The east side of the Sierra are a lot steeper.

            Which “Sierra”? This?
            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a955f43342ec09260f6992937af8e974bb258911011306610f7a5cfe4dedea6f.jpg

            Owens Lake is a mostly dry lake in the Owens Valley on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada in Inyo County, California.
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Owens_Lake

            6,500 feet (2000 m) height difference over only 8 miles (13 km), which is much steep, more suitable, but for one thing – no water.

            I suppose in theory one could pump and canal sea water to Owens Lake.

          • EdBCN

            There is only one ‘the Sierra’ in California, and yes it is the Sierra Nevada. There is actually a lot of water in the area. The Owens valley supplies a large portion of the water used in southern California. Before the Metropolitan Water District diverted all the water, Owens lake was quite large and navigable, and the Owens valley was much more green. As you can see there are very large differences between the valleys and the ranges here. The highest and lowest points in the contiguous US are here (Mt Whitney, Death Valley). It would be impossible to build a big reservoir at the top of the Sierra here as it is a protected area. But the top of the Inyo or White mountains to some of the low valleys bottoms is 1000’s of meters of head in very short distances. An easy-to-construct system might be between Saline Valley at around 1100′ and one of the basins in the mountains to the east at about 5000′. These valleys are already enclosed basins without an outlet, so there wouldn’t be much to build as far as dams. But wouldn’t it be more economic to convert the existing hydro systems to pumped hydro storage before looking for new place to build fresh? For instance Lake Oroville, which has been in the news so much this winter and obviously needs a major overhaul, is the tallest dam in the US. Taller than Hoover dam.

            Thanks for your calculations, quite interesting. It least it shows that there is a huge potential for storage, which should help California achieve it’s 100% renewable goal.

            I’m not sure the ground faults are a big issue as far as water seeping out. Quite a bit of the California water system is built directly on top of faults. For example Crystal Springs reservoir (which supplies drinking water to San Francisco and most of the Bay Area) is in a rift valley formed by the San Andreas fault.

          • Edmonston Pumped Storage Hydro Scheme
            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c8ddf44bddc88a338b36bd0f09cb8fbcfa5160201c261e4ca428d67a116b161a.jpg

            This is the first time I have calculated this so please do check my sums!

            Upper Reservoir – Assumptions
            Dam top – Surface elevation when full – 3214 feet = 980 metres
            Area – 10 km^2 = 10,000,000 m2
            Working depth 30 metres – dam top and full at 980 metres, flow restricted under 950 metres
            volume = 300,000,000 metres cubed
            = 3 x 10^8 m3
            = 3 x 10^11 litres
            Mass = 3 x 10^11 Kgs
            normal head – 1926 feet, 587 metres
            plus centre of mass 15 metres
            total head = 602 metres

            Energy stored = m g h
            = 3 x 10^11 Kgs x 9.81 x 602 m
            = 17720 x 10^11 Joules
            = 1772 x 10^12 Joules = 1772 TeraJoules TJ
            = 1.772 x 10^15 Joules = 1.772 PetaJoules PJ
            = 492 GWh
            = 492,000 MWh

            Full power 835 MW

            Fill upper reservoir in 492,000 / 835 = 589 hours = 24 days 13 hours
            Generation depends on flow rate, likely will need active pumping from upper reservoir to reach maximum flow rate and power generation.

            If the same flow rate generating as with pumping, with 75% efficiency expect generation of 626 MW

            If flow is increased, widening tunnels for efficiency, then power will increase in proportion to flow rate, assuming additional pumps and turbines are installed.

            Twice the flow = pumping at 1670 MW, generating at 1252 MW for 12 days 6 hours

            Four times the flow = pumping at 3,340 MW, generating at 2504 MW for 6 days 3 hours

            Eight times the flow = pumping at 6,680 MW, generating at 5010 MW for 3 days 1.5 hours.

            Doubling the working depth and volume of the scheme by raising the level of the dam by another 30 metres to a dam top of 1010 will double time of pumping and generation without increasing pumping power or generation significantly.

            Scottish Scientist
            Independent Scientific Adviser for Scotland
            https://scottishscientist.wordpress.com/

            * Wind, storage and back-up system designer
            * Double Tidal Lagoon Baseload Scheme
            * Off-Shore Electricity from Wind, Solar and Hydrogen Power
            * World’s biggest-ever pumped-storage hydro-scheme, for Scotland?
            * Modelling of wind and pumped-storage power
            * Scotland Electricity Generation – my plan for 2020
            * South America – GREAT for Renewable Energy

          • The cheapest thing to do might be to greatly enlarge the reservoir at the top of the Grapevine where the California Aqueduct is pumped up over Tehapachi,

            I didn’t see a reservoir there already to enlarge so I designed a new reservoir. I hope that’s OK?
            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c8ddf44bddc88a338b36bd0f09cb8fbcfa5160201c261e4ca428d67a116b161a.jpg

            build a new reservoir at the bottom in the central valley, and use the Edmonston Pumping Plant ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wi… ) two ways. It’s got 1,926′ of head.

            Good plan.

            As well, enlarging any of the reservoirs and hydro system on the other side as it falls back down to LA

            You mean like Quail Lake? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quail_Lake
            Would that be to keep the flow of water coming to customers while the Edmonston Plant was in generating mode and water was flowing in the opposite direction?

            Well that’s sensible enough though in the scheme I have suggested it ought to be possible to drain the upper reservoir in both directions from Pastoria Siphon simultaneously – BOTH backwards flow through tunnel 1 (and possibly also through tunnel 2) to the Edmonston Pumping (and Generating) Plant AND in the normal direction of flow through the Carley V. Porter Tunnel to the expecting water customers.
            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/95763ba89a379b00f721e1e71aa2a4845da7613d6a4957c793aabc65a4488164.jpg

            I suppose the biggest problem with this would be the down-time during the construction for any upgrade to pumped-storage operation.

          • EdBCN

            You have the basic idea. There is a lot of fairly level ground at the top of the system around Quail Lake or Tehachapi afterbay. where a larger reservoir could be located, and yes, the system could drain both north and south when power was needed. To the south there are a whole string of existing hydro plants at Castiac Lake, Lake Piru, etc. that could be fed. But of course, since you don’t want to send anymore than the minimum water need to the south, enlarging the reservoirs would not increase the total generation in that direction, just allow more flexibility as to exactly when it was generated. I like your proposed upper reservoir, its huge! I think right now Edmonston has two parallel tunnels. I just noticed that you can actually see the surge tank on google maps. Its a big tower up on the mountain here: https://www.google.es/maps/@34.9290577,-118.8062307,1078m/data=!3m1!1e3!5m1!1e4?hl=en

          • I like your proposed upper reservoir, its huge!

            Thanks! Take a closer look.
            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/061cefcb66e148c4e48ce4246cbdbd683257e556a004111023f64704b0b950e8.jpg

            Estimated average elevation of upper reservoir bed (existing topography) – 850 metres,

            Elevation of water surface when full 980 metres

            Average depth of water = 980 – 850 = 130 metres

            Total volume of upper reservoir when full
            = 130m x 10,000,000 m^2 = 1,300,000,000 m^3 = 1.3 x 10^9 m^3

            Working volume (depth 30m) as a percentage of total volume = 30/130 = 23%

            Stagnant volume (depth 100m) as a percentage of total volume = 100/130 = 77%

            It might be better to fill the stagnant volume of the upper reservoir with rock, dirt, sand whatever and top the surface with an impervious layer of clay.

            Some of the stagnant volume infill could be sourced when digging out the lower reservoir, which needs to be at least the working volume.

            Renewable energy can be used to do the heavy digging, lifting, transport and placing of the infill – by using electrically powered machinery, trucks and trains and only working during strong daylight when there is plenty of solar power or when it is windy and plenty of wind power generation.

          • EdBCN

            There is very little natural runoff in this area. All the water would have to supplied by the California Aqueduct. But they shift a hell of a lot of water through that system and California always needs more storage, so I don’t think it would be a problem supplying the water.

          • But they shift a hell of a lot of water through that system and California always needs more storage, so I don’t think it would be a problem supplying the water.

            The problem being that the stagnant volume of the upper reservoir I designed is not usable for storing water. If you ever drain down into the stagnant volume you have no working depth of water left (950m to 980m elevation) and the pumped-storage stops working.

            Also the time it takes to fill the stagnant volume at the full pumping rate would take a whole season. To fill the whole reservoir assuming only 1/3rd of the existing pumping was dedicated to filling the reservoir, would take the best part of a year!

            If you need more storage volume then extend the size of the lower reservoir and store water there – and put the excavated material into the stagnant volume of the upper reservoir.

            That way you can use the additional storage and keep the pumped-storage facility operational.

          • EdBCN

            Maybe it would be better to just enlarge Quail lake- it would be more flat-bottomed. This is all way too detailed for me. But it seems like something they might want to look into.

          • I now have a better design for the Edmonston Pumped Storage Hydro Scheme as shown here.
            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ce1775395e8a2c5716030adf111ad5a12fcbde5fc6ee43d2a53cfc154dfc4d1c.jpg

            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/8584958aae8ca05a68a0ce2ed0f5577022d6795069e96905282924f11372a3ba.jpg

            Siting an intake tower with intake pump at Pastoria Siphon allows for a greater reservoir working depth and changing the dam location to give a smaller reservoir surface area reduces the stagnant volume, which increases working volume percentage to over 60% and reduces the fill time to 48 days at today’s full pumping rate, or 4 months 23 days at 1/3 of flow for filling, 2/3 of flow for water customers.
            Energy stored is at least 500 GWh.

            Here’s my sums if you want to check them.

            Upper Reservoir

            Area – 6.5 km^2 = 6,500,000 m2 = 1600 acres

            Estimated average elevation of upper reservoir bed (existing topography) – 900 metres,

            Elevation of water surface when full 980 metres

            Average depth of water = 980 – 900 = 80 metres

            Total volume of upper reservoir when full
            = 80m x 6,500,000 m^2 = 520,000,000 m^3 = 5.2 x 10^8 m^3

            Time to fill reservoir at total flow at design head: 4410 ft³/s – 124.9 m3/s
            5.2 x 10^8 m^3 / 124.9 m^3/s = 4.16 x 10^6 s = 69,388 minutes = 1,156 hours = 48.2 days, using 100% of normal flow

            Or using 1/3rd of normal flow, takes 44.5 x 3 days = 144.6 days or 4 months 23 days

            Working volume (depth 50m) as a percentage of total volume = 50/80 = 62.5%
            Stagnant volume (depth 30m) as a percentage of total volume = 30/80 = 37.5%

            Pistoria Siphon
            Lowest Elevation of 2840 feet = 865.6 metres

            Minimum pumping elevation 880 metres, (100 metres below full) average depth = 50 metres

            Working depth 50 metres, elevation of centre of mass 980 – 25 = 955 metres

            Working volume = 50m x 6,500,000 m2 = 325,000,000 metres cubed = 0.325 km3 = 263,000 acre-feet
            = 3.25 x 10^8 m3
            = 3.25 x 10^11 litres
            Mass = 3.25 x 10^11 Kgs

            Elevation of Edmonston Pumping Plant about 375 metres, pumping to elevation of 980 metres, pumping head required is 605 metres.

            Centre of mass at elevation 955 metres, so centre of mass potential energy height difference is = 955 – 375 = 580 metres

            Energy stored = m g h
            = 3.25 x 10^11 Kgs x 9.81 x 580 m
            = 18492 x 10^11 Joules
            = 1849 x 10^12 Joules = 1849 TeraJoules TJ
            = 1.849 x 10^15 Joules = 1.849 PetaJoules PJ
            = 513.6 GWh
            = 513,600 MWh

  • Alastair Leith

    “Numerous other networks are talking openly of grids with high renewable penetration – as a good thing – and renewables-baed micrograms to cut costs.”
    huh? microgrants?

  • Haleiwa_Dad

    In Hawaii, at 100% renewable, what powers the base load when wind not blowing and the sun is not out? Are batteries really sufficient for that? And aren’t batteries highly polluting in both manufacture and decommissioning?

    • nakedChimp

      No, batteries aren’t highly polluting in manufacturing and decommissioning.
      As for the other part.. check out their modelling.
      If they don’t even need gas peakers they probably ran the numbers and think that indeed batteries will be enough. Maybe some power to gas (methanol, biowaste, hydrogen) later at some point or right with it..
      You got eyes and hands, use them.

    • neroden

      Batteries are quite sufficient for nighttime load in Hawaii. (Remember, they need basically no heating.) Lithium-ion batteries are super ultra clean in both manufacture and decommissioning — cleaner than steel.

    • Alastair Leith

      Baseload, why is the baseload more important than any other part of the load? Do you know what baseload is, it is not “keeping the lights on” it’s just the energy between the minimum demand in the daily load cycle and zero, the only part of the load for which coal is any good at supplying because it hates to ramp.

      • Haleiwa_Dad

        Baseload is the issue because wind and solar are variable and intermittent. Power demands are variable but not intermittent.

        • Alastair Leith

          Why is baseload the issue? (I ask again do you actually know the definition of baseload?)

          The issue you describe is power balancing supply with demand, this is what all grids do all over the world.

          Since no power station (even fossil fuelled or nuclear) runs continuously and forever, we already have systems for dispatching different plants and different times to have supply meet demand.

          You can do it with renewables and storage just as well as you can with coal and gas. In fact because wind and solar generate at zero (or negative) marginal cost you can use wind and solar above the baseload threshold to load follow if it is curtailed then dispatched at short notice. You can’t do that with coal. And why is power more important to you in the middle of the night under baseload provision than in the afternoon when demand exceeds baseload demand in every grid in the world? Actually baseload only occurs for just 5 minutes in each 24 hour period, really not so important.

          Wind and solar are variable, but they are not intermittent. They highly predictable in the bidding system using weather forecasts. In fact the failure of a coal or gas plant is much more problematic to grid operators than the failure of a turbine or solar panel. The more you have of them and the greater the geographic spread of them the closer you approach a stable and consistent power output, it’s an inverse proportional law of variability to generation assets, both in the context of a single wind farm and in the context of an interconnected grid.

          From a recent AWEA report:
          3. Don’t we need baseload?
          Instead of using the term “baseload,” it is more accurate to talk about the three main services the grid needs to operate reliably: energy, capacity, and flexibility. Energy is the production of electricity, capacity is the ability to produce power during periods of high demand, and flexibility is the ability to change output to keep supply and demand in balance. Cost-effectively obtaining all three services requires a division of labor among a diverse mix of energy sources, as no resource excels at providing all three. For example, coal and nuclear plants typically do not provide significant flexibility, and other resources can provide energy and capacity at lower cost. Wind energy fits well into this mix as a low-cost source of energy, though it also provides some capacity and can provide flexibility when it is economic to do so.”

          There’s also a four page answer to that question in the report if you care to read it.
          Renewable Energy Builds a More Reliable and Resilient Electricity Mix, May 2017 [3.4MB PDF].

  • metro70

    I’ve never seen so much puffery and waffle with so little substance in one article…but if you read the desperate RE proponents these days you get to see its standard.

    You obviously want to fire up Australian RE enthusiasts to think they have to burn all our fossil fuel bridges and go for weather-dependent unreliable wind and solar or we’re left behind.

    It’s all propaganda like the evil divestment campaigns that are the only thing …along with the RET and the massive government subsidies and guarantees…. that’s allowed RE boondoggles to get all the investment that allows you and the financial opportunists to spruik the mythical achievements of RE as you do here.

    As far as Australia’s concerned…of COURSE Transgrid’s keen for 100% RE. It’s got the gig to make the humungous profits out of all of us….building the new grid to connect the useless little wind farms and solar plants. Transgrid sees BIG TP MONEY ..not the least for its executives….even as our country sinks without trace in a sea of fragmented fragile short-lived RE generators which…like their forerunners around the world will fall like dominoes as they fail and the world twigs to the scam.

    This is the greatest money shift right out of the wallets of low and middle-income earners to the coffers of the uber-rich rentseekers ….in Australian history.

    The spiels for both of the states you cite are full of buzz word and waffle…and gonna this..gonna that…yet both have made very little progress considering the time they’ve been at it…the money spent and the hype they get around the world.

    I can’t believe you’re still flogging California as a shining example of RE success!
    California has only 17% wind and solar after all this time and billions in TPM.
    It gets 50% of electricity from gas….9.6% from nuclear .. and has to import non-RE electricity from Arizona.

    It’s two iconic solar plants are fraught with problems.

    The $2billion Ivanpah Solar plant is not meeting expectations and uses more gas to jump-start it every year…massive amounts.

    Rolling Blackouts are expected in 2017…with this advice for consumers from a Stanford Professor….

    “This is not a time to panic,” he said. “If everybody does a little bit of their part, we should be OK.” You think that’s 21st century ?

    SolarReserve’s Crescent Dunes solar plant, came online in 2015… went offline late 2016 for repairs, remains offline more than six months later.

    The company’s CEO reports…

    A hot salt tank issue “took a while to get it fixed, but it’s a pretty low-tech issue,”
    How long would it take if it was a big issue…which it actually is as the molten salt tanks are the biggest worry…with the salts at 1500 degreesC.

    Solana and all of the other hugely-subsidised plants are also low-performing.
    The five major plants, which between them generate less than 1% of the electricity consumed in Arizona, Nevada and Southern California, cost over $8 billion to construct, and over 70% of this cost was covered by federal loan guarantees.

    In Hawaii …and here…residents are rushing solarPV because their electricity from the grid has been MADE so expensive by subsidies to wind and solar farms…and utility-scale batteries ..the latter also proving to be a fire problem in Hawaii.

    That said…for all of their very large problems …at least those states and countries have alternatives for when RE looks like blacking them out.

    Australia on the other hand is completely ALONE in our vulnerability…with no alternatives once you kill off coal ….which you brag about having already happened with the bogus claim that people don’t want it because RE’s so cheap….being careful of course not to mention the subsidies and guarantees for Wind etc that kill coal.

    We have nowhere we can run a lead to.. as California does to Arizona…as Vermont and Maine do to Canada…as Germany does to France and Denmark does to Sweden …and they also have base load fuels…Germany building NEW BROWN COAL plants…all the others having….or having access to …nuclear and hydro.
    We have NOTHING…and its criminal IMO to be making people think we can just go to 100% RE or anywhere near….without COAL.

    Wind and solar are just playthings ..in the big money …big power game of pretending to save the planet.

    The thing for Australians to ponder instead of listening to you …reading the puffery…is that after trillions have been spent…1.3 % of the earth’s energy mix is wind and solar and of that a statistical 0% is wind…IEA figures… and that’s for a world that’s relying on COAL-GAS-HYDRO-NUCLEAR-none of which Australia will have if you have your way.

    Australians should ask themselves before it’s too late if they’re willing for Australia to be the ONLY country in the world to commit economic and social suicide…to destroy our children’s futures…and to do it for a hoax…. as anyone with a modicum of commonsense will conclude if they read everything they can find on it.

    The RET must end…the subsidies and guarantees too..to test all the claims that dispatchable RE’s now cheaper than coal …even when made reliable by multiple huge batteries and frequency control measures….with the $140million worth of diesel generators standing by….before Australia goes one step further down the path to energy insecurity.